Halfords Black Friday Giveaway

Oscar’s Autism meant that he didn’t start using language in any meaningful way until he was 3 and a half. And yet every day since then it seems like he learns another word, grasps another concept, answers another question. For me it’s thrilling. Only last night did he described his book case as a “library”! Asking for things has also been slow to arrive. We focused for the longest time on getting him to express his needs, which he still sometimes struggles with to be honest. So you can imagine, asking for things he wants, verbally, hasn’t been high up on his agenda. Until recently. Suddenly he can tell me when he’s hungry and two weeks ago he told me he wanted a bike. And when your child, who has only just (at four and a half) learnt to sit for long enough in order to learn to pedal, asks you, with words, for a bike, you start looking for a bike. Believe me.

If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen I asked my lovely readers where they’d recommend when looking for a first bike, particularly one that was good quality but also value for money. The answer from almost everyone who joined the discussion was Halfords. To be honest I’d completely forgotten Halfords did bikes but I had so many recommendations for them, I couldn’t not check them out online. I had no idea how much a child’s bike cost. Looking around the internet it would appear you can happily pay whatever you like. Bikes are one of those things I think. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the ones at Halfords weren’t crazy expensive.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I love a bargain. I’m the kind of person that takes great pride in finding something I want in the sale. However, I’ve never really got involved with the whole Black Friday thing. The images of people trampling each other to get a cheap telly always left me cold. There’s no bargain on Earth worth that kind of behaviour. But then I saw that, this year, Halfords are having an online Black Friday sale on 25th November. Not a trampling in sight. They are discounting things every day until the main event on 25th and I’m keeping my eyes on the site but I think I’m going to wait for the biggie, the main event on 25th, to be in with a chance of a really decent discount.

Now I love a bargain, but what’s a bigger bargain than free? Alongside their Black Friday discounts Halfords are also running a Black Friday Giveaway. You can enter any time up until 22nd November to be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes of either £2000, £1000 or £500 worth of Halfords goods. That’s a lot of Christmas pressies right there! I’ve put a link to the Halfords Black Friday Giveaway page in the image below.

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I’ve entered. And you’ve got until 22nd to do the same! Good luck!

Right, back to looking at bikes. I only hope Oscar doesn’t ask for anything more expensive. Like his own private jet or a Ferrari. If he asked me with words, I’d probably get it for him!

 

This is a collaborative post.

When Summer isn’t all about making memories

The consensus across the sentiments I see expressed on social media, is that parents have spent a lot of energy this summer, relishing the time they have with their children, and working really hard to make it as special as they can, so that they never look back and say they wasted these young days. That when these days are over they will miss the chaos and the muddy knees and the laughing and trips to the beach. And I don’t doubt it. But while you may have adored the summer holidays, being with your children and making wonderful memories, for me eight weeks without barely a break has been too long.

And that makes me insanely jealous.

Our summer holidays started well. Oscar began happily enough. I loved not having to get up and dressed in time to walk the miles a day to take him to preschool. It was enough. But within a few weeks the iPad had taken over our lives and try as I might to set up activities at home, mostly I felt like I was whistling in the wind. I had to take him out of the house, to the park, or to the shops on errands, just in order to get him away from the screen. Cause when he falls into the vortex that is Youtube Kids, I may as well not exist.

It’s my fault of course. I gave him the damn thing in the first place. Downloaded the stupid app in an attempt to stop him googling pictures of trains, which would lead to videos of trains on real Youtube, which lead to videos that weren’t wholly (or sometime at all) appropriate. I can’t blame anyone but myself.

But unlike last year where he spent a large portion of the summer hols watching Team Umizoomi on TV, which seemed to improve his language no end, this summer, his language seems to have stalled. And in the last few weeks the echolalia is back; repeating scenes from YouTube videos over and over. He hasn’t done that for so long. At least he now brings me into his script, teaching me what to say and when. For example:

Oscar comes over to Mummy: “Mummy (say) Oscar, what you talking about?”

Mummy: What are you talking about Oscar?

Oscar: It’s a ghghghghost train drive here last night

Mummy: Where?

Oscar: Last night (something I cant quite make out) made my wheels wobble

Mummy: You are a silly engine, I’m not afraid of ghosts

Over. And Over. And Over.

A friend with older autistic children has suggested this could be his attempt to make order out of the chaos. That for him, not going regularly to preschool (his established routine) is starting to make him anxious. It could be. I thought we were doing OK, but his behaviour has started to suggest he’s not doing quite so great. No full on melt downs yet, but lots of resistance to doing anything. And an obsession with anything Thomas related. He’s always been a fan but this summer he’s taken that to another level. Again, I’m assuming it’s familiarity in an unfamiliar routine. An attempt to make sense of our world.

We have had a few nice days. We went on our Day out with Thomas, he’s been to Challengers twice (which he loved – I hear. He never tells me of course), we’ve had the paddling pool in the garden and sojourns to the swings. But there have been no day trips out out. Because I don’t drive if it’s not on a train or a bus I can’t do it. But even if it was on a train line, the thought of taking him ‘out out’ alone scares me. We have been to our local children’s centre a few times this summer, which has been mostly lovely (although it’s hardly LegoLand right?!) Anyway one day he had a good time but started to get stressed towards the end and I knew it was time to go. We went to the toilet before we left, when he started to cry and fight me. I had a banging headache that day and I ended up sat on the floor of the loos, trying to hold the tears in, just completely unsure of how I was literally going to get him home. Because everywhere we go is under my own steam and I seriously wasn’t sure I had any left.

I did get him home (he calmed down as soon as we left), but that’s how I feel this summer has left us both. With little resources left. Somewhat frayed at the edges.

I’m not sure this is the best frame of mind to start school is it? Surely it would be better to be rested and raring to go. But I’m pretty sure that’s not how he feels. At a guess I’d say stressed, bored, lonely even. Probably sick of my face. I’m hoping our short break to Moonfleet Manor next week is a good idea. He’ll have so much to do and lots of new things to play with. I doubt he’ll remember our last visit so I’m making him a visual reminder. But I am hopeful that we’ll all come back a bit more…. if not rested, then more ourselves.

Because this summer has left me like my Woody and Florence AUTISMMAMA bracelet.

Worn thin and ready to break.

Worn thin and ready to break

Worn thin and ready to break

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 9

Just a quick one today. For no other reason that I’ve spent the week with, what feels like my old friend, Bronchitus. Mothers Day was a wash out, but other than that I’ve had to push my self from one thing the next somehow. That’s just what mama’s do. My appetite has been all over the place. When I’ve been hungry enough to eat, I’ve only been able to face foods I wouldn’t usually eat (Slimming World or not!) Heinz Chicken and Mushroom soup – childhood much? Hot chocolate, toast. Comfort in the extreme. Which is what you need when you’re coughing your lungs up and you’re not sleeping.

Anyway, I didn’t weigh in last night as I usually do for three reasons. One: I was still feeling pretty rough, two: it was hammering it down and I really didn’t want to walk to group in the rain and three: Oscar was being extra cuddly at bedtime last night, and didn’t want me to leave. So I stayed. And it was totally the right thing to do for all of us. And the fact that I made that choice to stay with my little guy meant I got to hear my very first unsolicited, unprompted, unexpected “I love you” from him, while we lay in the dark quiet of his room. It’s only taken four years. I’d have waited four more ??

Anyway, back to Slimming World. Yeah I decided to weigh and run this morning instead, something I’ve never done before. It meant taking Oscar in with me, but bless him he played in the toy corner like a boss and didn’t even cry when we had to leave the little Mr Potato Head behind. High Five that guy! Oh and I did this:

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Now look, I know they say you always weigh less at a morning weigh in than you do in an evening one, but after how crappy I’ve felt all week, I’ve decided to take this and run with it. I won’t be surprised with a small gain or another maintain next week as things balance themselves out, but right now, at this moment, I’m patting myself on the back. And not just to loosen this god damn cough! Because this means I’ve lost 15lb. And that means I’ve reached my first stone! ??

As I said I’ve eaten a really weird combination of foods this week and so have no new foods or recipes to share, sorry. I wish I had felt well enough to make my own soup, but it’s not what I craved. And when you feel this shitty, you give in to what your body says. What foods to you gravatate towards when you’re feeling proper poorly? I can’t be the only one who goes back to the kitchen of their early childhood!

Hoping for a week of slightly more energy and hopefully some better food choices.

lots of lurgy love

Lisa

xx

 

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.

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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