Sunday, 11 June 2017

Half Term Success & Organisation Skills...

We have just had our half term and what an awesome half term it was! :)

We took off to sunny Blackpool for the week.

I have concluded that Blackpool for a child is just one big funfest and Blackpool for an adult is a likely hen/stag do location :) (we saw tons of hen and stag groups whilst we were there)

DS really enjoyed Blackpool, he even said the word 'Blackpool' whilst we were there which was fantastic! :)

During our stay, we were mindful to manage DS's sensory issues carefully.
He did superb though we mis-judged this a bit in Madame Tussauds where it was quite loud and flashing lights - he hated this so we moved swiftly throughout the rooms with a bit more speed than we would have done usually :)
DS asked for breaks often by requesting to go back to the 'holiday house'.
As we were staying only a 10 minute drive away, this was more than doable.
We would head back, have maybe half an hour to an hour break there then head out again.
This worked really well and I think the secret to our success is because of these regular breaks.
We followed DS's lead on this and allowed him to guide us to when he needed them. I think that the fact that he felt he was in control of this went a long way.

Surprisingly DS enjoyed going right to the top of Blackpool Tower. We went as far as you could go and admired the views from the very top.
I kept checking with him if he was okay to go higher and he was happy too so we just kept going up and up until we could go up no more - he was a star! :)

Another amazing part of half term was two of my special Mum friends coming for the day.
DS loves meeting up with people he knows and he has a special soft spot for one of my Mums.
It was a gorgeous day so we all walked over to the beach.
Next thing, DS starts running towards the sea ( I often call him half boy, half fish for his love for the water) for a paddle and to jump the waves. At the same time, my Mum friend starts running with him to play. So there they both are stood in the sea giggling and jumping waves together both soaked through!
It was so funny to watch and so heartwarming too!
You can see now why DS loves her can't you? She had to walk around for the rest of the day in wet clothes as well as drive home but she said she didn't care :D
It was a great day! :)

Another day, we had a little horse and cart ride which DS enjoyed. He was so relaxed and loved having a nosey around as we trotted through the little side roads :)
I remember doing this with my own parents and loving it so it brought lots of lovely memories back to me <3

It goes without saying that no break is complete without a visit to the local launderette ;) ;)
I am so flabbergasted at how the school year is nearly over! Where has it gone?!
DS finishes school for Summer in around 6 weeks time so I am well into organising activities and things for us to do.
It really does not seem like any time at all when I was talking about the Summer hols last year! Scary!

Speak soon,

Love Amanda xx

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Dining from the Garden...

We are loving the Sunny weather here in our little corner of the world right now :)

DS is particularly loving it as it means lots of playtime in the garden which as the outdoor boy he is, then this is great! ;)

Another thing about the warmer weather arriving is my need to pretty the garden up a bit with some lovely bright and colourful pretty flowers.

I love adding a pop of colour to the garden with flowers and plants.

As DS likes to eat petals and leaves then I have to be extra cautious at the type of plants I buy.

Earlier this week, I popped down to my local garden centre and explained the situation to a experienced member of staff.
We spoke at length and she gave me some great ideas as well as what to avoid.

A few days later after doing lots of research of edible plants of flowers and of course the non-edible ones, I went back to the garden centre with my list of safe edible plants and flowers to buy.

I bought a nice selection and also decided on a little selection of herbs for him to munch on too.

I got them all home and popped them in the garden......typically he has not touched any of them! :D

It's still a Win Win situation though as I have safe plants for DS if he does choose to have a little taster session with them as well as some pretty flowers for the garden.

Hope you are enjoying the sunny days too :)

Love Amanda xx

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Easter Holidays...

Last week, we went back to the Thomas Centre in Lincolnshire.

I won't go into loads of detail about the centre, but you can read all about how fab it is here.

Last October, we took DS for a long weekend to the Thomas Centre to trial it.
He loved it so much that this time we booked a week's stay and it was just as successful! :)

It was a lovely family break with DS zooming around the place all with a happy smile on his face :)

We had quite a few 'WOW's on this holiday - the biggest was sitting beautifully in a country pub/restaurant one evening for tea.
One time, this would never have happened! Sitting there watching him whilst we all ate together and chatted was something that a few short years ago, I could never see happening....but it was happening!....right before my very eyes, too!

Once we had finished eating, he said 'pub nearly finished' which is his way of saying it's time to go, which I thought was fair enough especially after how truly amazing he had been!

Another plus was the weather.
The weather was glorious in Lincolnshire, we were really lucky.
I did try sneaking off a few times to a lovely suntrap I had found for a little sunbathe, but DS clocked me every single time and would take my hand to lead me to the play area or the soft play with him.

I think I need to work on my 'sneaking off' skills.....;)

DS was so excited to be there.
He was up early every morning asking for 'outside'.
I would brush his teeth and help him get dressed and we would be outside playing at 7.30am most days :D  He loved it! :)

One day we went on a little day trip to Skegness.
We played on the beach, found sand dunes, ate fish and chips by the sea and went on the funfair.
We had a ride on the Big Wheel, which DS enjoyed and we went on a Runaway Train  - he loved the speed on that one! :)

We also tried our luck on 'Hook a Duck'
DS hooked three ducks and won a Peppa Pig!
It was such a fantastic day! :)

We are now home and in the second week of the Easter holidays.
We have a few days planned out this week along with catching up with house and garden jobs in the meantime.

I have sorted out all DS's outgrown clothes, shoes and wellies and have listed them all on eBay.
It's been a great week and it really does feel like Spring at last! :)

Love Amanda xx

Monday, 13 March 2017

Peak District & Storm Doris...

Two weeks ago was half term for us and I decided a good while ago that we were going to take off for it.

So I booked a lovely and cosy little cottage tucked away in the hill of the Peak District.

DS loves this cottage for its huge roaring fire though I've got to admit it is a very dreamy fire.

So we loaded the car up with clothes, food, drinks and of course the laptop and iPad and set off for the cottage.

We had a glorious 3 nights stay there. We would potter about during the day and then spend the evening curled up by the fire in our PJs snuggled together - it was so lovely.

Ideally, I really needed another person with me as I felt some of the local days out would be a bit too challenging for me on my own with DS. I really fancied visiting some of the caves but resisted as, thinking about it, that would be what I call a 'two man job' haha
Never the less, we still had a great time and would wander around the village to the local shop and delicious bakeries for homemade yummy treats to take back to the cottage.
We also stumbled across some brilliant children's play areas so spent some time playing on them :)

Making the fire in the evening was something that DS and I became quite skilled at :)

We would build it together. DS would screw up the newspaper and pop it in the grate, along with kindling and coal.
He loves fire which I believe most boys go through a 'fire phase' at some point! (eek!)

Once the fire was expertly built by DS, I would light it.

We made a great team! :) :)

The day we came home was the day Storm Doris was causing havoc!
Driving along the high and very windy Peak District roads was definitely not the smoothest drive I've ever done to say the least but DS sang beautifully all the way home which was lovely and calming for me :)

Understandably, it took us a lot longer to get home but DS coped with the delay brilliantly!

All too often, half term weeks fly by just far too fast.....


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Birthday Happiness...

Last week was my birthday.

It wasn't a special birthday like a 30th or 40th but for some reason the celebrations for it went on for a whole week! :)

Let's be clear, I am in no way shape or form complaining about this at all (none whatsoever!) but for someone who has always felt that their birthday falls at just the wrong time of the year......3 weeks to the day after Christmas Day and exactly two weeks after New Year........then I am very chuffed! :)

I know that I have mentioned before how I purposely worked it so that DS was born at a more respectable time of the year. I was aiming for May/June (he was born in May) as I just think the days are lovely around this time and I pictured beautiful sunny garden birthday parties for him/her (didn't know the gender until the birth) which is exactly how we celebrate his birthday :)

My own birthday celebrations kicked off last Friday when I very excitedly discovered that I had won an Afternoon Tea with prosecco.
The restaurant for this was situated right on the River Dee in Chester.

I took my forever supportive lovely Mum, who by the way needed little persuasion for this and we hopped on the train into Chester.
We sat by the window so had a lovely view of the river watching rowers going up and down and couples walking hand in hand fighting against the cold and wind.

It felt lovely and cosy as Mum and I were curled up in big comfy chairs looking out and chatting away :)

Friday evening saw my amazing tribe of fellow special needs Mums brave the bitter cold January wind to come to a country pub for a delicious meal and drinks.

I even got lovely cards and presents and felt very spoilt!
I have made no secret in the past just how utterly fabulous these ladies are!
I think its absolutely amazing how each of us have our own challenges and obstacles with our children yet we still support, soothe, advice and big each other up when one of us is struggling!
No amount of money could buy that. I feel so lucky to know them and will often refer to them as 'my Mums' or 'the Mums' :)

My boyfriend even played taxi to a few of us which meant that the wine flowed freely! Yay ;)

Saturday evening, my boyfriend and I went to my favourite restaurant.
It's a good half hour drive from my house. He drove which meant that I could have one, two or even three of my favourite cocktails! :)
It was such a lovely evening with such lovely and funny company - he's always making me laugh! <3

The cocktails were a little on the strong side and feeling a little lightheaded, I held on to him as we left.
All signs of a good night :) :)

After a much needed lie in on Sunday, I was brought cups of tea in bed - perfect!

We then went out for lunch with DS, boyfriend and my Mum to a local (and autism friendly) pub restaurant that we often take DS to.

The day ended with DS putting my candles into my little birthday cake and helping me blow them out.
So the candles were shoved right into the cake but who really cares? :) Certainly not me!

To complete the celebrations, I went on the most gorgeous spa break!

I love holistic therapy treatments and always float out of the treatment room.
It was a real treat to be pampered - pure bliss! The endless glasses of wine and prosecco certainly enhanced the relaxation experience!
It was pure heaven!

Definitely a birthday to remember :)


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Come on in, 2017...

Phew! What a crazy year!
I can see myself in years to come, looking over my shoulder back at 2016 as the year that ran away from me and left me struggling to keep up with it! It's certainly been a crazy one!

This year DS has shot up and I mean really shot up! I always know when he is going through a growth spurt as he cannot stop eating!
I've lost count of the number of growth spurts he has had this year but it's definitely the most we've had in a 12 month period! :)

DS has also extended his vocab this year too :) He is saying and requesting things using new words and sentences beautifully :) I absolutely love it and he is pleased as punch with his little self when he is understood :)

In 2016 we also discovered and checked out an Autism Holiday Centre.
The Thomas Centre was a huge hit with DS and we've also booked to go back in 2017! (Can't wait!)

In terms of last year's resolutions then I don't think I did too bad.

They were to take time out and relax more and to grow at least one vegetable.

The time out one, I think I did okay. Admittedly, I probably could of done better but I have had a few afternoons when DS has been in school and I've curled up in my favourite chair with a magazine and a cup of tea :) So for that reason, I am giving myself an extra glass of wine with a capital 'A' for 'Achieved' ;)

The grow at least one vegetable resolution was a bit more trickier but I somehow managed it :)
I successfully grew green beans and a gorgeous looking yellow pepper :) In fact my yellow pepper must have looked delicious as a slug beat me to it! Caught him red handed having a good feast on it...ggrrrr...
My tomatoes on the other hand didn't make it :( but nevermind, I will try again in the new year.

2016 has also been a great year for getting together my with my special Mums.
We don't need much of a excuse to congregate and when we do, we have such a giggle.
They are such a great bunch of ladies and a great strength <3

I already know of some big changes that will be happening throughout 2017.
I am really excited about that and am already planning my adventures as a result of these changes.
I am not going to spill right now but will explain as and when they happen! *exciting*! :)

My new year resolutions for the new year are both kinda based around maintaining my emotional well being.

Choose Happiness - I am in a really good place right now and feel really happy :) I feel really lucky to be surrounded by who/what I am. I have a fantastic son who makes me smile - like all the time! I have the best Mum in the world and lovely lovely friends! <3
My resolution to stay in this mindset and to sometimes sit down and think just how lucky and fortunate I am. Especially on them crappy days when you stub your toe whilst rushing around and coming out of the hair salon to pouring rain on the ONE day you left your umbrella at home! (true story - the ONE day! Why?!)

Release Endorphins - Following on from the above and being a bit of a hippy, I have always been interested in amazing human body stuff.
I like to hone in on the more natural and Mother Nature stuff that our bodies can do and the fact that we release amazing endorphins is just something I am keen on :)
So to keep them little happy hormones coming, I am going to exercise more regularly than I do.
I love the little 'exercise high' you get after a good sweaty workout so that's what I am aiming for :)
I have no idea how I am going to squeeze it in but I will find a way......somehow :)

So there they are.
I am quite a determined character so hopefully I will achieve them :)

All is left to say is thank you for supporting and reading my ramblings, I really do appreciate it and I wish you and your families and happy and healthy 2017 :)

Speak soon,

Love Amanda xx

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Celebrating Christmas...

Last week, I was sat with one of my all time favourite Special Mums slurping frothy coffee

(Can I say that? Can I divulge to the world that she is one of my favourites or can I not show favouritism amongst my Mum friends? But I've said it now so I will leave it in)

Anyway, so it was a freezing, icy cold day and we were sat in a nice warm coffee shop with our hands wrapped around our mugs warming our hands.

We were talking about Christmas and of course our children.
My friend suggested that I write a post about how we celebrate Christmas as she knows we do some things differently than most families.
I agreed that it was a great idea so here it is :)

First of all, I have to say how I love Christmas! :)
As a woman in her mid-thirties, I am still very much a child when it comes to Christmas! :)

Now DS likes Christmas but only of it's done the right way for him.
It took me a few years to get the balance just right for him, with a few slightly mis-judged errors along the way but now we have it spot on :) *yay*!

My feeling on Christmas is that it can be such a magical time of the year.
I believe it can still be magical for DS (and me!) with just a few little tweaks here and there.

When DS is happy, calm and relaxed then I am happy, calm and relaxed so it's great investment to get these tweaks in :) *High fives all round*

Okay folks so this is what Christmas looks like in our house.
Here we go...

* Less is More....I think we've all seen the pictures on our Instagram feeds of the giddy parents posting pictures of their cherubs waiting Christmas presents. It resembles a  medium sized mountain in their living room and will take the kid to around the 5th January to open if they start opening very early on Christmas morning!

This would just be far too overwhelming for DS for a start!

DS recieves just a handful of gifts. And no, this isn't because I am a Scrooge!
DS needs to process each present individually, the least amount of presents, the less he needs to process. This means less stress for him and he only needs a short amount of time to do it as opposed to a whopper of a pile which will take him much longer to process and stress him out.
Santa tends to bring DS  a main present and a couple of smaller ones that he knows he will just love and get lots of sensory stimulation from! Oh yes Santa knows what he's doing here ;)

*Take a Picture...This is what I noticed. On Christmas mornings when a sleepy DS would stir and wake, I would whisper to him that Father Christmas has been and left him presents.
DS would seem a bit alarmed. He would slowly get out of bed, creep to he living room doorway, have a quick peek at his presents and then run back to bed.

Only after about 10 minuites would he then again get out of bed, make his way to the living room and start opening his gifts.

I realised that what DS must be doing is processing the 'scene' before he opened his presents.
Christmas Day is certainly a day from the norm so he just needed some time and space to process and work through it all in his mind.

I thought of what I could do to help him with this and decided on taking a picture of his presents in the room exactly how he would find them in the morning. I knew the picture would need to be exact.
I would then print it out and leave it next to him in bed.

So in the morning, DS would wake up to the picture of what the living room looks like allowing him to process the image in his own time before getting out of bed to open them.
This has been in place for a few years now and works well.

I find that having the picture takes away that anxiety of what to expect.
I also do exactly the same thing for his birthdays too :)

*Christmas Tree...For a long time now, I always put up the Christmas tree and decorations whilst DS is present.
This means he sees the tree and decorations going up in stages and again allows him that time to process each stage.

I decorate the tree slowly on purpose for DS which I have found helps.
He even lends a hand too :)
Decorations are kept to a minimum and I always keep the bedrooms decoration/Christmas free so he has a calm room to escape to if needs be.

I knew one family that use to put the Christmas tree up in stages. One day they would just put the tree in the corner and leave it. Then a few days later they would put lights on it followed by baubles a few days later again. They kept to this pattern until it was complete.
It worked for their young man, he was happy and they were happy :)

*Batteries...To save lots of time and lots of frustration (I am referring to the parent/carer just as much as the person with autism here!) I check what batteries toys need.
Before I wrap presents, I always ensure two things are ticked off each item.
They are

1) That the correct batteries are in and checked that the toys works wether it lights up, moves, spins or makes a noise - that bad boy is not wrapped until I've seen it do it's thing with my own eyes! :)

2) I untie the million cable ties and unscrew those mega annoying mini screws that hold stuff into the box.
They always take an age to do and I know DS would get pretty frustrated if he was mega excited to play with a toy but had to wait for what felt like an eternity until I had got the thing free!

*Playing it Cool & Calm...Christmas at one time was a great huge family reunion!
We would all get together on Christmas Day to eat, drink, sing and be merry - it was ace! :)

I lived in a small terraced town house then and how we would all cram in and actually fit in it I don't know but we did and we had a great laugh.
My Mum would cook the dinner for something like 15/16 of us in my then teeny tiny kitchen, it was superb!

DS would seriously struggle with that set-up today. He loves his family members dearly but would struggle to cope with that amount of people at one time.

So we keep it cool and calm for him being careful not to overwhelm.
DS does see and visit family but only a few at a time.
Just recently, I have been challenging him a little bit more socially with careful calculations of course.

I would never throw DS into a situation that I thought he couldn't handle but ones that I think he would be okay with then I've tried them.
Most of the time my little risk assessment has paid off and it's gone well, other times it hasn't so I've kicked started my Back-up plan (I always have a Plan B to everything!)

So as we do Christmas a little bit differently now that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable or magical at all!
I still love it and what's more important to me is that DS enjoys it too.

I think Christmas is definitely not a 'one size fits all'.

It should be celebrated in anyway you like or see fit for you and your family as I am a huge believer in happy children means happy parents and happy parents means happy children :)

So that note, I am going to end it there and just in case I don't manage to pull up another post before Christmas, I wish you and your family and Merry Christmas! :) :)

Love Amanda xx