My Half Term Artist

Half term has been and gone, and much as I kind of dread school holidays and how we’re all going to cope, this half term was super. I think a week, with enough distraction, is just enough for him. And it’s just enough that I don’t resort to the iPad all day every day!

Dont get me wrong he was on the iPad a fair amount. Especially in the mornings when he’d been up since five and mama seriously couldn’t be doing with “building a bigger track” right now. Am I the only one whose child seems to wake up fully ‘on’? It’s like he’s got some internal flip switch, that I just don’t have!

Anywho once I had come around sufficiently, we had some really great days this half term. Lots of joint interactions, some of which lasted ages. I did my heart good to see him really collaborating with me and really showed me how far he’s come since starting school.

We did all sorts last week, from trips to the park, to train rides, to hair cuts to meeting up with friends. All of which was wonderful. But really the things I enjoyed the best were the days when we turned to the art cupboard.

When Oscar left Nursery back in July, he still wasn’t drawing anything, despite his well developed fine motor skills, and the artwork that came home was only ever daubs of colour. As the Educational Psychlogist noted, he still wasn’t engaging in any “meaningful mark making”.

That all started to change almost as soon as he started school and over the last term the paintings and drawings have been becoming more and more recognisable. And not only is he now drawing things both he and others can identify, he loves it. And I mean LOVES it. So last Tuesday we spent a couple of hours with pads of paper and markers and he went for it. Each image he drew, I cut it out and he’d blu-tac it to the wall.

And before long the walls were covered.

The aquatic wall, including fish, sharks, “shark whales” and even a squid! All named by Oscar

Sodor. Can you see the steam and the tenders? So detailed!

Alllll of the rockets. Blast Off!

I worked out that over the course of the week (as he added a few more here and there over the week) he drew 44 fish, 31 engines and 24 rockets. And 4 ambulances, randomly. He’s nothing if not prolific!

Yes he has his favourite subjects, but these marks ARE meaningful. I kind of wish the EP could see them. I think they’re ruddy glorious!

Obviously when he went back to school I needed a bit of my own space back and yes I did take them all down. But never fear, I painstakingly transferred them to his room. The fish are swimming up the stairs and the engines hiding in an alcove. And he loves them.

The aquarium is now swimming up the stairs to his room!

And for that I’d have all the blu-tac marks on my walls in the world 🙂

 

The crossroads at which we stand

I’m finding it hard to write anything lately. Slimming World updates are OK, because they are about a thing, they’re structured and easy to formulate. My head, not so much.

At the beginning of the year I really thought stuff was changing for the better. I felt positive for the first time in ages. We had decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and build our long awaited kitchen extension, which made me happier than I can explain (or understand to be honest) and Oscar’s progress continued to be phenomenal (to us). We’d definitely decided which path we wanted his education to follow and had applied for schools, along with everyone one else. I joined Slimming World and Yoga and started to take some time for me. Ben was doing the same to great effect (taking time for his own mental wellbeing, not joining Slimming World!) Yeah, in one way or another, everything felt like the path ahead was clear.

Then all of a sudden everything isn’t clear any more. The extension is proving a much more difficult and expensive proposition than we envisaged and has made us question whether it’s actually worth doing at all. We’re getting more quotes to be sure, but if it really is going to cost that much then maybe it would be better to move?

And then there’s Oscar (and there’s always Oscar ?). We had a terribly negative meeting with his team two weeks ago and for the first time it’s made me doubt my choices for him and worse than that it’s made me doubt myself. And I’m not just having a wobble that’s going to be solved with a pat on the back, a high five and a ‘you follow your instinct girl’. In fact it’s more than a wobble (why do we play this shit down?) it’s a cannon shot. It’s winded me and knocked me off my feet completely. I no longer feel what I’m doing is the right thing. And that is petrifying. Even when you don’t really know, but you have that gut feeling, it’s ok. But that’s gone. And that scares me more than anything. It also makes me so angry. How dare anyone make me question whether what I’m doing for my son is right! But they have.

So all this has conspired to throw life back up in the air again. We’ve started to look at schools again, something I had assumed we were done with. Having never felt it was so, perhaps specialist schooling would be better for him. I seriously don’t know anymore. All I know is I want him to be happy. And for me never have to sit through a meeting like that again. I think we’re going to look at more schools less to find him a place but more for my own self assurance. I’m happy to come away saying, ‘ok I was wrong, this is better’. But really what I’m looking for is to come away saying ‘do you know what? I was right!’ Because at the moment I can’t feel either.

And then there’s the house. If we can’t get the extension done, our small house remains small and that raises the question should we move? And if so to where? Can we afford to stay round here? Do we want to stay round here? Do we need to stay here?

I feel like as a family we are stood at a giant crossroads. That there are so many paths we could take, in a way I haven’t felt before. It’s frightening yes, but in a weird and probably masochistic way, it’s almost exciting.

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I’ve found myself listening more and more to 90s indie lately. I think partly it’s because it’s familiar, partly because it makes me happy, but partly because it makes me reminds me of a time in my life I felt powerful and sure of myself. Something I need reminding of.

Also some of it is loud and a bit shouty. Just like I’ve always been ?

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 7

It’s difficult to start these posts on the weeks when things have been hard. What do you want to hear? The excuses? And they do feel like excuses. But then these are the little things that have constituted my life this week:

  1. We went out for dinner at our neighbours on Saturday. We had a brilliant time. And wine, so much wine.
  2. Sunday’s resultant hang over required medicating with bacon sandwiches. In white bread from the Farmers Market
  3. I made a bucket load of granola, ostensibly for Ben, but there were days my will power failed me
  4. I’ve had this bloody horrible cough for a week now. Proper chesty and ‘productive’ ? It’s either made me not hungry at all or starving
  5. Monday’s meeting with Oscar’s ‘team’ was unexpectedly negative. And left me in a right state. I don’t want to hold on to anger but how do you let it go? Sadness, anger, all those negative emotions convinced me half a tub of chocolate ice cream was a good idea. It wasn’t.

I won’t lie to you, this week has been hard, in so, so many ways. But….

BUT!

I did exactly what I hoped I’d do.


I didn’t lose, but neither did I gain. What a relief! Me and my SW buddy James did a high five across the room when I got off the scales. It was that much of a celebration! So I’ve still lost 12.5lb. Phew!

This week’s food relevalation has been Oyster Sauce. I’ve been doing Slimming World for more than two years and for some reason I had it in my head Oyster Sauce was high synned so had avoided it. Then at last week’s group I found out it syn free! What? So this week we bought some and it’s been a really welcome addition to the many and varied stir frys I tend to have for lunch. See, always learning!

My favourite meal this week has been an old favourite we haven’t had for blooming ages. I’m still going to Yoga on a Tuesday night and don’t like to eat beforehand (all that folding over I’m afraid I’ll throw up all over my mat!) so we eat when I get in. But starting to cook at 9pm is pretty late and not much fun. So I decided to make something in the day that could just be heated up and remembered an old Nigella recipe Pollo alla Cacciatore. With a few tweaks here and there I can make it syn free. It’s a one pot dish of loveliness that is quick to make, can be made in advance and needs no accompaniment. So I thought I’d share it with you here.

Syn Free Pollo alla Cacciatore

Serves 2

  • Frylight
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 Bacon Medalions (or rashers of bacon with the fat removed), diced
  • 6 Spring Onions, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 6 chicken thigh fillets, all fat removed, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 150ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  1. Spray a large pan with Frylight. Put the garlic into a pan with the, bacon, spring onions and rosemary and fry for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the bite-sized chicken pieces, stirring well, and sprinkle in the salt.
  3. Pour in the stock and let it come to a bubble before adding the tomatoes and bay leaves. Put the lid on and let the pan simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Drain and add a tin of cannellini beans and warm through.

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Delicious, nutritious and so simple! Give it a whirl!

So this week I want to get my one stone award. I have 1.5lb to lose and I’m damn well going to get there. After the week I’ve had I owe it to myself to get some happy! And getting that would make me super happy!

As did this outfit. Looking pretty good huh?

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Have a good one

love

Lisa

xx

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 6

Hello!

Sorry this is a bit late going out, but (as you may know) it’s half term this week, meaning I don’t get my 2 hours in Dylan’s or Costa or wherever just to switch off and write. How other bloggers do it, writing solely in the evenings, I really don’t know. I’m usually so pooped by the time he’s in bed, all I want to do is eat dinner and veg out in front of the telly. Anyway, blogging gripes aside, half term has actually been pretty good. We’ve gone out every day and had play dates and made new friends and his language is having a mini explosion. Which, you know, I love. 🙂 This week he has told me he emphatically loves both pizza and carrots. And that he equally emphatically doesn’t like my ‘pumpkins’ (or orange peppers, but who’s counting). Yeah it’s been a good week!

It’s also been a good week for my social life (how come the kids have such better social calenders than us !) Social occasions can often come with their own issues. Do you plan and moderate or do you throw caution to the wind and limit damage around the event It’s a choice and both can work equally well in my experience and usually depends how much you drink ( you can plan all you like but after a couple of glasses of vino Good luck with that!) So this weekend I had Galentine’s Day lunch with the bestie and it was as awesome as I’d hoped. But I did plan ahead. Firstly I knew I wanted onion rings (have you tried the Onion Rings at the White Horse Amazing!) But for my main I checked the menu the night before, made my choice before I even got to the pub, all the things we talk about doing in group. I chose, what looked like the lowest synned option on the menu, a Bulgar Wheat and Quinoa Salad with beetroot, chicken, spinach and seeds. It was delicious, however it was covered, and I mean covered, in dressing. I couldn’t tell you what the dressing was and as it wasn’t mentioned on the menu I didn’t even think to ask them to leave it out, which was a bit of a shame. However it was so amazingly filling I could only manage half the dish! I had one drink, then moved back to diet coke as I knew I needed to keep my wits about me, if only because we had friends coming to dinner that night!

OOTD for our Galentine's Lunch

OOTD for our Galentine’s Lunch.

I like having people to dinner. It gives you so much more control over what you’re eating, without making a fuss. And I’ve yet to meet anyone who is served up a SW friendly dish and rejects it on account of the lack of lard! Saturday’s dinner was a tried and tested Savage household favourite, Pepperpot Stew. A warming spicy take on a winter classic, this Slimming World friendly syn free dish is served with rice and our guests loved it. So much I thought I’d detail it here.

Pepperpot Stew

Serves 4

  • Frylight
  • 800g lean stewing beef, all visible fat removed, cut into chunks
  • 3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 300g green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning (I use Bart’s spice mix – it’s got a great kick to it!)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 400g passata with onions and garlic
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Spray a large flame and ovenproof casserole (I use my Le Creuset) with Frylight and place over a high heat. Add the beef and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the peppers, sweet potato, beans, garlic, jerk seasoning, wine vinegar, passata, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season and stir well.
  3. Cover and place in the oven on 180/gas mark 4 for 2 hours, or until the beef is meltingly tender.image

Serve with rice. I cook my rice in vegetable stock and when it’s done I stir through fresh chopped coriander.

Syn Free and delicious! And so handy! I made this the day before and it heats up really well. It meant I could spend more time actually being with my guests and having a good old laugh!

So that was syn free and fine, but then there was wine. And a small amount of lemon tart (although it was served with berries so….). And we had a super night.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and my lovely hubby eschewed the traditional chocolates and went with beautiful yellow lilies instead. I cooked us a lovely Valentine’s dinner, which included heart shaped Heck sausages. Sausages have always featured heavily in our relationship. Ben doesn’t have an emotional attachment to comfort food in the way I do, but when he’s had a bad day, a sausage sandwich can cheer him no end. In fact in our wedding vows I promised to make him sausage sandwiches, whenever he was “blue”. So to me, sausages always mean love and what better way to express that love than with heart shaped sausages. Heck very kindly sent us some of their limited edition Peck heart shape sausages to try and boy oh boy did they go down a treat! Ben had his in sandwiches, me with jacket potato and vegetables. At 5 syns a pop I used most of my days syns on them. But they were totally worth it! Delicious and juicy and just so cute!

Heart Shaped sausages from Heck. 5 syns each and worth every one!

Heart Shaped sausages from Heck. 5 syns each and worth every one!

Anyway, my point is that although the weekend was large, it was all about trying to find some balance. Finding the place that lets you be you and do the things you love, with the people you love and yet stay in some semblance of control. And do you know what I think I just about managed it.

Slimming World

Nope, I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL! Mega happy dances all round. That puts me at 12.5lb lost in 6 weeks. I’ll take that!

So obviously I am very keen to replicate this loss again this week, if only to reach my one stone. We are out for dinner this weekend (OK, look I don’t usually have this much of a life!) but my darling friend Jane has sourced some Thai themed Slimming World recipes for us all and I can’t wait. But I’m also realistic. Just because it worked last week, doesn’t mean it will work this week. So I’d just be happy not to gain. Anything else is a bonus!

Have a super week

love

Lisa

xx

 

 

It’s OK, it’s just a Delay

The other day I was going through my draft posts (of which I have nearly 30, many of which I never got round to, some of which just weren’t very good!) and I found a small piece I wrote back in December 2014.

Oscar was referred for speech and language therapy in May 2014. We had our preliminary meeting with his paediatrician in September and in December I was asked to attend a Parent Empowerment Class by the SALT department. Anyone who’s been referred to SALT will have been sent on one of these. It’s a rather clumsy and slightly patronising way of weeding out the neurotic parents. Even the speech therapists I met on the day apologised and said due to Oscar’s ongoing Autism investigations, I really shouldn’t have had to attend. It was bloody awful and while I was waiting to be seen at the end of the ‘class’ I wrote this:

So after waiting what feels like a millennia I finally got some movement on the speech therapy front. Only the system where we live includes a trip, without my boy, to a local children’s centre to sit in a room with 20 other parents, to listen to how children’s speech should be developing.

Because as a concerned parent I haven’t already been looking at this for nearly a year already?

We were ‘invited’ to tell the room what our concerns with our children were and while I would never put any parents concerns down “can’t say their S’s at the age of three” was the most popular problem. Well woopeee. You poor, poor dears. How awwwwwful for you? How will Tarquin say ‘Santa’ this Christmas? Can you tell I am pissed off I have to be here at all? My boy has issues way beyond the ‘normal’ (bleugh) development. He still has no single word for me. And while the nouns are coming up (last week he completely unprompted identified a ‘box’ a ‘bag’ and ‘eyes’) they don’t always hang around and they don’t really get ‘used’. His main communication still remains grunting, gesturing and lately, squealing. So frickin loudly!!!

Can you tell I’m tired. I’m so very very tired. I started to well up when I had to listen to the other parents. I’d pay money for Oscar’s only speech issue to be mispronunciation. But it’s not.

Someone asked the other day in Twitter what everyone wanted for Christmas. I answered the only gift I really wanted was for O to call me mama. Consistently. Or if we’re wishing for stuff, for him to say I love you.

Merry Christmas and all that.

Reading this made me so sad. Remembering how awful (and angry) I felt on that day also made me sad. So much frustration and fear and confusion. And yet….

Just over a year on, Oscar’s speech is coming. His communication is 100 times better and his use of language, while still not perfect, is 1000 times better than it was then. He DOES call me mummy (or Mum. Either way my heart bursts every time I hear it!). And recently I taught him the words I LOVE YOU. We’re yet to get a completely spontaneous ‘I love you’, but it’s coming. I know it is.

Maybe the past year has taught me a little more patience, maybe my expectations have changed now we are more aware of how things work for him, or maybe I’m just so in awe of the progress he has made (and have faith that he will continue to make), that I just don’t feel that same frustration or sadness about his speech delay any more. We celebrate every language achievement, whether it hangs around or not (and things are much more likely to than not these days) and focus much less on the words he doesn’t use.

Sometimes I want to go back and put my arm around that scared mama’s shoulders. I want to tell her it’s going to be OK and that help is on the way.

Largely in the shape of a little boy, who will soon call her ‘mummy’.

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