Birthday gifts for a special four year old

I wrote a few weeks ago about our quandary in trying to decide what to get Oscar for his fourth birthday. Contrary to what you think you might know about children with Autism, Oscar isn’t particularly obsessive and is ‘in to’ whatever it is he likes that day. He’s still a fan of Thomas the Tank, and has started to take an interest in crafting and books. But other than that we couldn’t really think of any birthday gifts he’d really appreciate. We had a notion to perhaps get him his own baking equipment, but was that really what a four year old would want?

The answer was YES!

If you recall we were thinking of getting him a really sturdy Mason Cash bowl for when he bakes. Which we do regularly.

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When we went to look on the Lakeland site, we found the one we wanted was on offer. It seemed like a sign. So we went ahead and got him the Blue 29 inch Varsity bowl. And it didn’t disappoint when it arrived. What a beauty!

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The morning of his birthday, we bought him in to our room and showed him his presents. He has no real understanding of time and abstract concepts like birthdays (yet), but he loves opening presents and playing with the contents. That was enough for him!

Oscar has a very generous family!

Oscar has a very generous family!


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Whatever could this be?


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“It’s a giant bowl!!!”

He was so excited when he finally opened his bowl. More than we thought he would be. Then he opened his second and third present from us and insisted we ‘make’ immediately!

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Oscar’s ‘Making’ Spoon

So downstairs we went and made the gluten free chocolate brownies from the mix in the Delicious Alchemy Gift Box we bought him. He loved having his own ‘giant bowl’ and it was so much sturdier than anything else we had used in the past. And the fact he got to us his own spoon, engraved with “Oscar’s ‘Making’ Spoon that we bought from Auntie Mims on Not on the High Street, well, this was one happy birthday boy.

Not many four year olds want to make their own birthday cake. For breakfast!

Happy Birthday to meeeeeee!

So yeah, not many four year olds would want baking equipment for their birthday and even less would be interested in making their own birthday cake for breakfast. But that’s my boy. He’s his own man. And we couldn’t be prouder of him.

 

Mixing it up….

In just a few short weeks time, my bouncing little ball of energy, also known as Oscar, will be turning four. FOUR! Man alive, how on earth did that ever happen? A year. Over. Done. Never to be repeated. When you look at the passage of time through the ageing of a child it makes everything feel so much more transient, so here today gone tomorrow. Literally. Ahh my sweet sweet boy. Every day you change, every day you grow.

So aside from getting maudlin, and feeling all kinds of old ? we’ve been thinking about how to mark our little guy’s fourth birthday. Last year, you may recall, we threw him a wonderful party with the help of our friends at The Hen House, Haslemere. It’s was awesome! So awesome in fact that we weren’t sure what we could do to top it this year (not that it’s a year on year competition, but you know what I mean!) We ummed and ahhed and looked around locally, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Then we started talking about how much fun we had over Christmas and how it would be lovely if Oscar could share his birthday with his extended family.

So that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re going down to Plymouth for Easter. We’re staying in the same apartment as at Christmas, and we plan to celebrate his birthday, with his extended family, a week early, on Easter Sunday. I’ve been pinteresting like mad already for some Easter themed party food and while I won’t be going mad, a centrepiece always goes down well I find. My favourite at the moment is this one. Isn’t it too cute?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What's not to love?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What’s not to love?

Any other Easter themed party food ideas gratefully received. Seriously, if you’ve got any ideas, or blog posts to share, I’d love to see them!

So that’s the party sorted, but then there’s what to get him for a gift. For the last few years we’ve concentrated on large garden toys for his April birthday, setting him up for the coming summer. And that’s been great, but this year we haven’t really got anything in mind. Maybe a bigger slide? But where would it go? Hmmm. It’s a conundrum that’s for sure. And in terms of play toys, there’s nothing he desperately wants and nothing much he needs, to be honest. He’s got more Thomas toys than you can shake a stick at and Duplo coming out of his ears! He has no interest in any of the movie tie ins and flits between favourite cartoons most days (last week it was 1940s Tom and Jerry, this week it’s been 1990s Rugrats – all hail TV streaming services!) He has just started to pick up things (straws, sticks, the Hoover!) and use them as guns, but this upsets me no end and I have no wish to encourage it. So we’re back to the question; what do we get him? What is he in to?

There is one idea I had. It may sound crazy and you may think this is more for me than him, but hear me out. The boy loves to bake. This has been a thing now for over a year. But recently he’s decided he doesn’t like using my Kitchen Aid and instead wants to ‘mix’ everything himself in a ‘giant bowl’ (his words). For this you need a good sturdy bowl, and I just don’t have one. We tend to use my mixer bowl, which is light and topples off its tiny base regularly. He needs something better. I’ve always loved Mason Cash bowls. My mum had one, my Nanna had one. I used to think owning one was almost a prerequisite for being a mum. I always wanted a beige one, just like my mums, but recently Mason Cash released their Varsity range, in cream and Navy Blue. So I started thinking, actually, of all the things we could get him, how about his own ‘giant mixing bowl’? And if we’re going to do that, why not get him the grande dame of bowls?

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The Mason Cash Varsity Mixing Bowl in blue. The perfect gift?

Surely that’s what every four year old would want for their birthday. Right?

Come back in a few weeks, I’ll let you know what we decide!

Savage Christmas 2015

It’s January. How can it possibly be January? Already? We spent so long looking forward to the Christmas holiday and just like that it was over. Sad Face. Or rather that should be Happy Face, because our holiday was perfect! It was everything I had imagined and so much more and for that reason I can’t possibly be sad!

I wrote here about our Christmas plans to hire an apartment in our childhood home town of Plymouth. About how we wanted to spend Christmas with our family and friends, but how due to Oscar’s Autism, we all needed our own space. And I was right. All the planning and the organising meant the holiday, because this was so much more than just a Christmas celebration, was totally worth it!

The drive down to Plymouth was OK, with only minimal delays. The boy spent the whole four and half hours watching Thomas the Tank. God bless Apple! When we arrived at the Royal William Yard, the owner of the property was there to meet us. She even helped us carry our luggage up to the 2nd floor apartment, bless her. She showed us around, what turned out to be a much more spacious apartment than I had envisaged. I had spent some time in the weeks leading up our stay showing Oscar pictures of the flat, taken from the website, but you’re never sure how similar a place is going to be to a promotional photo. Well, I was thrilled to see it was identical, even down to the radio channel playing on the television. I could have hugged her just for that, never mind the milk, coffee, flowers and mince pies she’d bought for us! I knew then this was going to be a good holiday!

Taken from the website, the lounge looked exactly like this picture. I was so grateful!

Taken from the website, the lounge looked exactly like this picture. I was so grateful!

My first impression of the place was it is SHAMAZING!

My first impression of the place was ” This is SHAMAZING!”

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The view as we arrived. Breathtaking!

We settled in immediately. Oscar ran from room to room and we moved the few delicate looking objects (a beautiful model of a tall ship and some glass vases) out of the reach of curious hands. That done Ben collected the Christmas shopping, while I unpacked. Poor old hubs had to carry all the shopping from the car to the apartment alone as I had to stay with Oscar, but once it was done he was rewarded with a large beer, a child who settled down to sleep straight away and a feet up relax on the sofa with pizza. You couldn’t do that staying in someone else’s home 😉

Christmas Day itself was fairly quiet. We had present opening in the morning, in our Christmas jammies. Oscar was incredibly lucky again this year. He has such a generous family. And I breathed a sigh of relief to see no one had given him anything that wouldn’t fit in the car on the way home. ‘Tis always a worry 😉 While he played with his Tidmouth Shed playset, I cracked on with the lunch. One of the best things about the apartment was, without a doubt, the kitchen. It was an open plan layout but the kitchen was raised giving the feel of a bar, or in my case a stage! I loved it. It meant Ben could help from the other side of the worktop and not get in my way and I could talk to my mum as I prepared the veg. We drank, ate and generally relaxed all day. The boy wouldn’t sit with us at dinner, which was a shame, but wasn’t something I was going to force and cause a melt down over. Instead I plated him some food, which he moved around the room but didn’t touch. Until later when I heard him say something was ‘mmmm it’s elicious’ and realised he had wolfed the roast potatoes and later on some turkey 🙂 Good lad!

The big FC was tres generous this year!

The big FC was tres generous this year!

My candy cane boy

My candy cane boy opening his presents

Tidmouth Sheds was a hit!

Tidmouth Sheds was a hit!

Facetiming Aunty Laura

Facetiming Aunty Laura

Prosecco for Brekkie!

Prosecco for Brekkie!

The Maple Based Turkey was a hit. And not at all burnt (well a bit singed maybe!)

The Maple Based Turkey was a hit. And not at all burnt (well a bit singed maybe!)

Me in my 'cooking like I'm in a cookery show' element!

Me in my ‘cooking like I’m in a cookery show’ element!

Got to use my Christmas linen for only the second time since it was bought in 2010!

Got to use my Christmas linen for only the second time since it was bought in 2010!

Yeah Christmas day was a hit , but this holiday was so much more. Before we even started our holiday, we had worked out something of a schedule. What we were going to do and who we were going to see everyday, and do you know I’m so glad we did. It meant we knew and could prepare appropriately. It also stopped any dithering, messing about wasting time, trying to decide what to do and potentially missing something important out. It also meant I could prepare Oscar. I have no idea how much the pictures of the people I showed him or the explanations I gave helped, but he coped brilliantly all week and I can only surmise it helped a bit! We visited family, had family visit us, hosted parties, went for meals, went walking in the fog up on Dartmoor and the boy loved it all. He loved playing with his cousins. They are all a similar age, but the older two, Jessica and Lucas, were just amazing with him, including him and listening when I explained why he was or wasn’t doing this or that. Whenever Oscar got frustrated or upset his cousin Lucas would just say, ‘hey Oscar come on lets run’ and off they’d go, sadness forgotten. In fact the only melt down we had all week was after his cousin Lucas had to leave. And even that didn’t last long as he collapsed into bed, jiggered from such an amazing day!

Love this crazy. My oldest niece Jessica

Love this crazy. My oldest niece Jessica

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Partners in crime! Oscar with his cousin Lucas

We just had so much fun this Christmas. And the fact that Oscar coped so brilliantly, only made it all the better for Ben and I. We treated ourselves too this holiday with dinner at River Cottage on Christmas Eve (with babysitting provided by Nanna!) and a night out (for Ben) and in (for me) with our friends we miss terribly and don’t get to see nearly enough of.

River Cottage on Christmas Eve

River Cottage on Christmas Eve

Ben and Lee reliving their youth. Ben behind the 'bar' and Lee propping it up!

Ben and Lee reliving their youth. Ben behind the ‘bar’ and Lee propping it up!

But the best thing about this trip was undoubtedly the apartment. It was stunning and practical. It gave us everything we needed and was in a fantastic location. I knew the idea to hire somewhere was a good one. I just couldn’t have asked for more and none of us wanted to leave. Oscar loved watching the boats from the windows, I loved the kitchen and Ben loved the calm quiet of the place. One of my favourite memories of the place though was the lift. Within a day Oscar had learnt how to press for the lift, get us to the right floor and to hold our hands when we needed him to. Just watching him learning like that was worth staying there for alone.

Watching the boats

Watching the boats

Walking to the lift wearing his backpack for the first time!

Walking to the lift wearing his backpack for the first time!

Would we do it again?

Absolutely!

But do we really need to wait until Christmas??? 😉

 

 

 

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Mummascribbles

Merry New Year

Happy New Year if I haven’t said it already. Yes, that just about sums it up. I want you all to have a year that is both new and happy 🙂 and just like last year, that’s what I hope for myself too.

Christmas has come and gone and was as good as we hoped. The week leading up to Christmas saw both Ben and I (ok mainly Ben) up to our eyes in flat pack instructions and Allen keys. We bought Oscar a KidKraft Kitchen as his main present, which took two full evenings to assemble and my mum gave him a book case that took at least an hour of Christmas Eve. But it was all appreciated by the little guy, who loves his kitchen (he’s taken to microwaving Thomas the Tank Engine poor old chap) and being able to access his books easily.

Flat pack to the max! But how gorgeous is this KidKraft play kitchen? It's nicer than my actual kitchen!

Flat pack to the max! But how gorgeous is this KidKraft play kitchen? It’s nicer than my actual kitchen!

As we weren't visiting family over Christmas, they'd all managed to get the boys presents to us before hand. What a very lucky young man!

As we weren’t visiting family over Christmas, they’d all managed to get the boys presents to us before hand. What a very lucky young man!

As, we did the year before, we went out for lunch on Christmas Day. Unfortunately it wasn’t the roaring success it was in 2013, which was a real shame. Our booking was for 2.30pm but we didn’t get our main course until 5pm! Thankfully Oscar was an absolute trooper and sat, in a high chair, for nigh on three hours without any real complaining. I was so proud of him. However it has made me think next Christmas I want more control over said dinner, as I can’t guarantee he’d cope so well every year. Short of moving house or building a giant extension in the next twelve months, the issue of not having anywhere to sit to eat at home will remain, so a bit more lateral thinking may be required. Hmmm, watch this space!

Clever mama keeping some gifts back to entertain the boy at the table. If I do say so myself ;)

Clever mama keeping some gifts back to entertain the boy at the table. If I do say so myself 😉

Boxing Day was really the triumph of the holiday. We literally did nothing and it was superb. We stayed in our Christmas jammas all day, watched TV, played with our toys (if you follow me on social media you may have heard I got an iPad for Christmas. Oh, you didn’t hear? Well I GOT AN IPAD FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!) and ate enough cheese and chocolate to put us into a lactose induced coma. It was bliss.

Pyjamas and playing. Superb.

Pyjamas and playing. Superb.

All in all it was a lovely festive break. Ben was at home for nigh on two weeks, which the boy took full advantage of. Daddy’s such a softie compared to mama and many a time the boy simply took Ben by the hand and dragged him upstairs to play in the bedrooms. We also took advantage of Ben being home more to transition the boy from a cot to a bed. I know at 2 years 9 months we’re pretty late to this particular party, but I wanted to make sure Oscar was really really ready for it and besides he’d never manage to climb out of the cot so why change it 😉 . We had to slightly rearrange home room to fit in the new bookcase so took the opportunity to remove the cot bars, just from one side to begin with. We left him in his grobag for the first few nights, but he coped so well we decided to buy him a single duvet (turning it sideways and tucking it right under the mattress) and proper pillow. I still can’t get over how easily he’s taken to it. It didn’t upset him in the slightest and he’s slept brilliantly. What a star!

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Reading bedtime stories in his big boy bed

New Year was as uneventful as the year before, but I know we weren’t the only ones staying in. That’s what having small children does for you I suppose. I cooked steaks and we drank prosecco at midnight. Gone are the days of me running in to the street at midnight, shouting my drunken head off. At least for now!

So a New Year, what does it hold? I remember being so thoroughly pumped for 2014, more excited than I’ve ever been. 2015 has me feeling more cautious. I can feel this is going to be a year of big changes (I don’t know why I feel this I just do!) I feel a need for things to happen. Does that make sense. Less excited more purposeful. Older? Wiser perhaps. I want to feel I’m doing the best by everyone. I also want to enjoy life, learn and grow. Not much then 😉

I hope you had the Christmas you wanted for yourself and your loved ones and 2015 is everything it can and will be.

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

 

Blogger Gift Swap Haul

So you may remember back in November I mentioned that I was taking part in a Blogger gift swap, a kind of Secret Santa for people who do what I do run by Viola over at apieceofviola.wordpress.com.

I was so excited when I found out my swap pairing was the lovely Charlene over at charlenejess.wordpress.com. Turns out she is a book reviewer, so my first thought was to get her a book. However the more I read of her blog the more I figured she would get books no matter what. Charlene is a single mum, with very little family and mentioned in a blog post that she doesn’t receive many presents, so I decided to get her something she probably wouldn’t get for herself, something a bit fun. And when she told me she liked Marvel and the colour purple, well, I think I found a great present to send her. I do hope she liked it and I can’t wait to read her post about it.

I received my gifts from her a few days before Christmas. I was thrilled to have received several little gifts – I love the opening as much as what’s inside and I couldn’t wait to put them in my stocking on Christmas Eve.

My Blogger Swap gifts on Christmas Eve

My Blogger Swap gifts on Christmas Eve

Charlene told me her 8 year old son had wrapped and labeled them for me. What a dude! Thank you Lynx, you did a stunning job!

So I wasn’t sure what kind of things I get. I mean I’d never met Charlene and it was difficult to know what she’d think of me, just from what she’d read. It’s so difficult to know what kind of persona you put out there on social media, but turns out I put out exactly who I am! I loved the gifts and would have chosen them all!

Excited face!

Excited face!

 

What a haul - thank you so much Charlene!

What a haul – thank you so much Charlene!

Ombre nail varnish set. I haven't tried the ombre effect yet, but I have worn the mink colour. I love it!

Ombre nail varnish set. I haven’t tried the ombre effect yet, but I have worn the mink colour. I love it!

A neutral eye palette. I love neutral shadows and this pallets has a real great choice of shades. And a fab mirror!

A neutral eye palette. I love neutral shadows and this palette has a really great choice of shades. And a fab mirror!

A personal organiser/notebook. I've wanted a new notebook for ages and spiral bound are my absolute fave! Aren't the colours cute?

A personal organiser/notebook. I’ve wanted a new notebook for ages and spiral bound ones are my absolute fave! Aren’t the colours cute?

I can never find a pen when I want one. This one can live in the spirals of new new notebook and it matches the design too! Love it.

I can never find a pen when I want one. This one can live in the spirals of new new notebook and it matches the design too! Love it.

And more matching! Such a cute stationery set!

And more matching! Such a cute stationery set!

It was such a great set of gifts, that I’m loving using already. Thank you so much Charlene. I hope you liked your gift as much.

I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Viola for setting this gift swap up and running it so beautifully.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers.