Saturday, 8 October 2016

September in a Flash...!

September was a ZOOM month for me!

September always marks new beginnings for me. I think that stems back to a child with starting a new school year.

So every year when DS goes back to school, I start working on the house getting it ready for hibernation for the Winter :)

I start de-cluttering, all outgrown clothes either get listed on eBay or get bagged for the charity shop.
That includes abandoned toys too.

Then I start a mega deep clean which involves, scrubbing skirting boards, picture frames, washing curtains, cushions, pillows - everything!

In addition to all that and not quite content on how much I already had to do, I decided that the house needed a bit of a spruce up so I re-painted all walls, doors, skirting boards and door frames throughout the house.

DS's bedroom, I say bedroom though it was never his bedroom really.

When we first moved into this house two years ago, I decorated DS's bedroom in a car theme.

DS decided that he was going to sleep in the master bedroom (my room) and has done so ever since. He happily chose that bedroom as his and has slept well in it ever since.

As a result, I decided to de-child the second bedroom so I scraped the car wallpaper off, painted and wallpapered with a Autumn theme - it looks so different!

As I was at it, I ripped up all the carpets as I am exhausted cleaning the mud from them everyday and opted for hard wooden floors instead. Sooooo much easier to clean plus they look fab!

The decorating and the enormous cleaning pretty much took the whole of September up but I am glad to say that it's all finished and I am delighted at the finished result :)

September also saw my Mum and I host our first ever MacMillan Coffee Morning and it was a huge success! :)

I think most families, I've been touched my cancer and Mum and I have been talking about doing something like this for a while now.

We really enjoyed doing this, sitting, chatting with lovely friends and eating yummy cakes is one of the perfect ways to spend a morning in my book! :)

Plus we raised £102 which was way beyond both Mum and I expectations.....we were so taken back and obviously very very thrilled! :)

Another WOW was DS going to his first ever charity disco and LOVING it!
He wore his ear defenders and lasted a good hour and half before requesting to leave - I was soooo impressed! :)

I am now just catching my breath from it all and have vowed to make October a more easy going month of  catching up with friends, resting, reading, going on chilly walks, cooking and baking and doing more of what I love <3

I have got some ace ideas of some cool autumn crafts so last weekend, DS and I went on a nature walks in the woods to collect some natural materials.

I loved seeing all the pretty autumn colours :)

I will update what we make but right now, I'm off to make some mod podge ;)

Have a lovely and happy Saturday!

Love Amanda xx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Summer Holiday Snippets...

Aaarrrgghhh! How on earth are we in September already?!

The school Summer holidays have flown by, which by my reckoning is a good thing as if they had gone slow then that means that we haven't really been enjoying them and having fun.

Don't get me wrong, we have encountered a few sticky spots over the hols but that's always to be expected with DS ;) We just deal with it as and when :)

Though, I'm glad to say that overall, its been a successful holiday break.

I find that in some ways, DS is changing all the time though in other ways he doesn't change at all?
Does that make sense? lol

For example, around 4/5 years old, DS had to be constantly stimulated with lots of adult interaction.
I would cram a day full of play barns, waterparks, parks and games at home....if I took my eye off the back for even a teeny amount of time then he would meltdown unable to cope with the void in his day.

Nowadays, DS actually prefers a chilled out, unplanned day at home doing stuff at is leisure.
He wants very little interaction from me compared to past years though he will request me to play as and when he feels like it.

He will happily come out with me for a day but I've noticed he seems to be the most calm and happiest when he is in his own environment playing with no agenda.

This has been great as with the gorgeous weather we have been having, we have sat in the garden playing in his sandpit, swing, slide, treehouse whilst drinking ice cold drinks watching birds fly.

Next week, he starts back at school and after his 'Back to School' hair cut today, we are all ready.

In a  few days, I will start preparing him for school by talking about what to expect and showing him pictures of his classroom, new teacher and staff.
I find that this helps him in a massive way and eases that anxiety of what is happening and what to expect. He will still struggle with the new term but this definitely does help with that.

After having him home and us enjoying lots of family time together, I will be a bit bummed out to take him to school.
I know that I will be constantly thinking about him wondering of he's okay, is he coping? Is he happy? Is he enjoying what he's doing?
So I don't drive myself absolutely bonkers with my constant fretting, one of my special Mums has suggested that we all meet for breakfast after getting our kids to school on their first day back.

I think it will be a good distraction for us all (especially me!) no doubt that at some point, I would of called school to check he's okay before my mums would of finished their skinny latte!

Here are some our highlights over the Summer......

On holiday....
Admiring beautiful scenery on a steam train...
Exploring in the sea...

Swimming with Daddy pretending to be a shark! (he loves that!) :)

Running with Nanny...

Sunny days on holiday...

Sandcastles at the beach...

Playing football with the team his Dad manages :)

Fun days :)......

Blackberry picking....

Baked Blackberry & Apple Pie using our picked blackberries :)

Just a snippet of what we got up to :) though we will be squeezing the last of Summer fun filled days before the season changes to Autumn.

Speak soon,

Love Amanda xx

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

School Holiday Update...

Well in our part of the world, we are now exactly two weeks into the Summer holidays.

We managed to get in a few family fun days before a very inconvenient viral infection came along and ruined our Summer fun filled days :(

We visited a Monkey Forest which was great watching them play and as there were a couple of newborns.
It was so lovely to watch Monkey Mums carrying, rocking and caring for their little ones just like we do :)

We have discovered and played on some really awesome play areas too which DS just loves! :)

We have had a walk around beautiful gardens and lakes. DS is a sucker for a cool water fountain. He loves watching them and dipping his fingers into the fountain  - though on this day he managed to run off and jump in a little shallow fountain, fully clothed! :) :)

We also visited a Special Needs playbarn that isn't too far from us.
It was a drizzly day so we mentally prepared ourselves that it would probably be really busy and noisy. But suprisingly, there was only one other child in there :)
We had a great day both Daddy and I chasing DS through tunnels, over wobbly bridges and down slides that at one point he was laughing so hard, he was struggling to catch his breath! :) :)

That was the last fun day we had as during that very night, DS start to run a very high temperature.
I monitored him throughout the night, kept taking his temperature and trying to cool him down.

Just like any other parent out there, I hate seeing DS poorly but with him being a strong little trooper, within a few days he had fought the bug off and sent it packing! Yaay! :)

He still isn't 100% yet but he is running around and playing again so he's nearly there :)

I very recently posted a thread on Netmums about ideas for sensory play. I thought it would be great for likewise parents and carers to swap ideas for cool sensory play activities.
I'm huge believer in always learning new things  - I really DO NOT believe that you can ever know it all.

Anyway, some great ideas have come from that thread so far such as a bucket of cheap cold baked beans and a bucket of jelly (which DS absolutely loves the feel of)

I chipped in my 'No salt/No sugar play dough' recipe which some parents are going to try with their children and young adults so I look forward to seeing how they get on with that.

As I type, my large bowls of jellies are setting in the fridge.......I get the feeling that today is going to be a messy day! ;)

I hope your Summer holidays are going well :)

Love Amanda xx

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Preparing & Organising for the Summer...

DS only has a few days left in school before the Summer break.

I can't believe that a whole school year has come and gone in a flash!

So being a naturally organised person, I hopped onto the school's website and ordered his new school uniform (which he has gone up a size in by the way!)

This boy is forever growing - the top of his head now comes up to my chin!! - very scary stuff!!

His uniform arrived yesterday :) I order both Winter & Summer uniform in one hit so polo tee-shirts and warm sweaters for the more breezy months and lightweight round neck tee-shirts for the warmer months.

I tend to hold off on school trousers and shoes for another few weeks just in case he has another growth spurt as these spurts are coming thick and fast now .....but when I was in Aldi yesterday, I noticed a crowd of shoppers around one of the Special buys sections.

Being a little curious (more like very nosey!) I wandered over to see what was attracting all the attention.

It was the Specialbuy schoolwear  - school trousers for just £1.50! They were DS's size, in the right colour, the right style so I grabbed 5 pairs - BARGAIN! :) :)

Feeling pleased as punched with myself, I trotted off thinking it's just shoes and school socks I need to get now :)

Speaking of growing boys ;) I had a really good sort out this week and listed all of  DS's outgrown clothes on eBay. They all sold straightaway! so I went off to the Post Office loaded down with two large shopping bags full of parcels to post :) The person in the queue behind must have done a silent groan when they saw my two enormous shopping bags full to the brim with parcels!

Also this week, I finished making up the gift bags for DS's teacher and class staff.

We always like to show our appreciation and say a little thank you for all the hard work they put in with him - I always include a minature bottle of wine in each gift bag as I'm sure they need it some days - I certainly do! :) haha

Next week, on my to do list is to mow, strim, trim, tidy and weed the gardens (which is pretty much an all day job!) and clean the windows and then I am done and all ready to completely focus on playing with DS and giving him my undivided attention without niggly housework jobs occupying my mind :)

I also met up with my Special Mums for lunch - just in case any of us do not survive the holidays! lol we will meet up again during the holidays but it's always good to find an excuse to get together with them and we certainly do not need much of an excuse!

I also won a chocolate hamper this week which will come in very handy for the Summer break! :)

It contains quite a few bars of DS's favourite chocolate so he will be very pleased :)

So that's been a snippet of this week with the key theme being to get organised for the Summer holidays.

I wonder if it's just me that started prepping for the holidays or do other Mums do something similar or even something entirely different!

If you do, please let me know :) I would love to hear what you do.

Love Amanda


Monday, 11 July 2016

New Wheels...

I've always enjoyed a good walk and ramble.

I've had the same good quality walking boots for years that are still going strong.

I remember being in Inverness in a freezing cold January, 6 months pregnant, walking boots on and rambling over the Scottish countryside breathing in the frosty air and soooo loving it! :)

Even when DS came along, Daddy or I would wear a carrier with a baby DS tucked safely inside and we would go walking.

Nowadays, walking with DS is a little trickier and needs a bit more thought....

At 9 years and a tall strapping lad at that may I add, he obviously can't be carried anymore but isn't strong enough to do a long walk.

We tend to use his special buggy for when he becomes tired but as that's really only suppose to be for around town etc then it doesn't really perform well on rough terrain :(

We find its really really hard work to push - I've lost count of the times that its been dragged across fields and stuff! lol

So thinking of a alternative, I came across a special all terrain pushchair.
The description was that it would glide through forests, beaches and any uneven ground!

I applied to a charity for one and it arrived shortly after!

Oh my word! Its a dream to push!

Light as a feather is all I can describe it as with its 16" wheels that glide over uneven ground :)

DS is very comfy sat in the lambskin liner in it, he has lots more room and is very happy chilling away as we walk.

Yesterday was its debut, its first real off-road test drive!

We pushed it through woodland, uphills, downhills and along a muddy riverbank - all without any problem! :)

We couldn't believe how after a couple of hours into the walk, we weren't red in the face, muscles aching and us muttering 'never again' and 'who's idea was it come this way anyway'!?

Instead, we were chatting away about the river and the rowers that we kept seeing row past us :)

A lovely and successful Sunday walk :)

Love Amanda xx

Monday, 27 June 2016

It takes a village...

2016 is proving to be a bit of a year that I will always remember.

It's certainly giving me some welly! Chucking challenges at me from all angles and in relation to a multitude of stuff!

I am holding my own though! :) Wine, chocolate and a 'kick ass' attitude seems to be the key to staying afloat with it all......but not forgetting to mention my lovely, lovely friends who really along with my amazing DS are the main ingredient to how I am even still smiling! :)

On Saturday, a bunch of these lovelies took me out to support me and to give me a giggle.
Forget the giggle, it was a belly laughter and roaring day! - I thought I was going to bust a gut!

I've always known that laughter is the best tonic, It releases all them feel good hormones - my body was flooded with endorphins!

This provoked me thinking about other areas of life that women (and of course men) may struggle with and how we can support each other.

It got me thinking about raising our children.

Typically, we raise our children either as a single parent family or whilst one parent works full time - this leaves the children with just the one caregiver to meet ALL the needs of the child as well as everyone else!

Bit of a tall order eh....?

When raising a child on the autistic spectrum, then that child's needs can be extremely demanding.

The saying....

"It takes a Village to raise a child"

suggests that there isn't meant to be just the one caregiver, there's meant to be a community of us, a team each giving something to the children.

When you think about it, actually think about it, then it's impossible for us to meet every single one of our children's needs - though, if you are like me, you still have a pretty good try at doing it, but you are never going to and all you achieve is a burnt out, frazzled and knackered Mum! (I am specifically referring to me again...)

What we do know, what generations have taught us, is that families thrive when part of a family, a community.
We are not meant to live in isolation or parent in isolation.

My childhood memories are flinging open my back door and running the 200 yards over to my Aunty Vicky's (my Dad's Aunty) to bake with her and ask her to make me her gravy! (I absolutely loved her delicious gravy!)

My Nan lived on the same street as us and my older cousin lived two streets behind us so again I was always running over there to play too!

I certainly feel that I grew up part of a wider family and have fantastic memories of this!

DS and I, as the parent now, are still part of a wider family.
Since he was born, my parents have been very hands on and he was happy and comfortable with them just as he was with me.

My Mum moved to be closer to me and DS and continues to take an active role in his care.

She is one of my main supports of the whole structure.

We are certainly not meant to do it all, ALL THE TIME.

I think it's so beneficial to surround your children with a family/community of role models to take collective responsibility to raise a child.

And a little bit of a relief that parenting isn't meant to be as hard as we sometimes make it or as lonely as we can make it and that we know is the truth!

I hope I have triggered some positive thought provoking here.....:)

Have a great week!

Love Amanda xx

Thursday, 23 June 2016

EHC Plans

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs then you would have at least heard about the new Education, Health and Care Plans.

These plans of course are going to be replacing the statements.

Every Local Authority will have slightly different ways of doing this such as their timetable to when each year group will start the transfer review as well as how the plans will actually look.

Myself and one of my fellow Mummy friends went along to an information forum just last week about the EHC plans and how it was being done in my LA which is Cheshire West & Chester.

We both found it really useful  - if anything similar comes up in your area then I can't recommend enough that you try and go along to it!

The information event was full of tips on how to complete the parent section of the plan, how to make sure all relevant information is included and the tight timescales - I came away with lots of ideas for our plan! :)

The key is to be super organised to ensure everything is submitted in time.

According to my LA's published timetable, DS will start his transfer review very soon so straight away, I have made a start in gathering the relevant reports that we need to support it.

A few days later, I received the 'My Story' part of the plan through the post for me to complete.
Perfect timing as my head was still programmed in 'EHCP' mode :)

So one night, when I was alone, had peace, quiet and a large mug of tea, I sat down and made a start...
I am the first one of my Mum friends to have completed so I am keen to pass on any tips or things I found good or not so good to them.

We have been chatting away about it yesterday and messaging each other :)

I had hand cramp around half way through but feel that I covered everything that I needed to. It was gone midnight by the time I had finished it!

The next day, I collected DS from school and as I was walking home with him, something else suddenly popped into my head which made me think "ah! I could do with including that into the plan!"

So that night, I added it in.

My tip is to sit down when you are not too stressed or tired and get yourself comfortable.

I thought I would share a few of my tips that I found beneficial and hopefully will be useful to you :)

  • I purposely chose a evening when I was alone and with no distractions. The TV was off and I just had the patio doors open bringing in a nice cool breeze.
  • Also when you have finished it, don't submit it right away. Just sit on it for another day (time permitting of course) in case other things pop in your head that you need to include before sending it off.
  • Give it to someone else to read who knows your child or young person just in case you have missed something out. It's so easy to leave something pretty significant out when that thing is very normal to you as you do it everyday! :) I got DS's Dad and Nanny to read it just in case but both said I had included absolutely EVERYTHING! haha
  • Re-read it yourself. That night I read it before going to bed. The next day, I read it again and tweaked it a bit. I feel it's just right now :)
  • Be organised. It's too much of an important document to leave until last minute. Yes it's a long document to complete but my tip is to find time to complete much sooner than the deadline
  • Also make sure that all relevant documentation to support it are up to date or current, again arrange this sooner rather than later.
  • I have made a photocopy of what I have completed. This is typically just me, but I like to have a copy so I can check that all points I made in the form are transferred over to the new plan.
There are online resources for completing the plan and the plan itself, check out your LA website on these.
I also found some examples of a completed plan online which is good to use as a guide :) 

I would look at your LA's published timetable to when your child will be starting their transfer as it will give you an idea as to when you need to start getting everything together.

I will do another post about this when we are further along the transfer.

Hope that's been of some help :)

Take care,

Love Amanda xx