First day back at school



I look at the clock and sigh.


But he agrees not to get up until 6.  That's a good start.

Next task.  Agree the schedule for the morning.

"You work it out Mammy."


Off he went into his den with his hot chocolate with the promise of a 15 minute reminder at 7.30 about his shower.

He actually seemed excited!  Every time he popped into the kitchen he had something new to tell me: including the child-friendly-sounding quacker rays that turn your enemies into ducks...I like the sound of that.  I wonder would it work on burglars?

I had forgotten to check his tie and found that he had unpicked part of it: cue a rapid sewing job.

He had his shower.  No protest.

I held my breath as he put on the new shirt - approved by him in the shop, but boys can change their minds can't they?

"The sleeves are a bit long," he said.

I waited, but that was all.

He proved his multi-tasking abilities by describing all the attributes of the Agents of Dread and tying a perfect knot in his tie at the same time!

Breakfast was eaten, teeth were cleaned and, while lots of reminders were needed, everything was done with good humour.  Now I know that saying bye bye to mainstream two years ago was the right decision.

I heard the beep beep of the bus and he looked as he crossed the road.

"All good?" asked the bus driver.

"All good," I replied.

And smiled.

Back to school recipe: Raisin Muffins

Apparently the way to get amazing muffins is by not over-mixing.  Just combine the ingredients - the mixture should still be a bit lumpy.  Sounds mad, but it works.

As well as the ingredients make sure you have muffin paper cake cases before you start, and a metal muffin tray.

Note: I have an old fashioned balance scales with imperial measures, it also works fine for measuring liquids, as this recipe requires.

print recipe

Raisin Muffins
Easy to make muffins, low in fat and sugar and my son loves them!
  • 280g (12 oz) Plain/cream flour
  • 12g (1/2 oz) Baking powder
  • small pinch Salt
  • 140g (6 oz) Castor sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 240g (10oz) Milk
  • 90g (4 oz) Vegetable Oil
  • 140g (6oz) Raisins or sultanas
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.Whisk the egg.Weigh the milk and oil and mix with the egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir briefly with a wooden spoon.Fold in the raisins. The mixture is almost runny so you'll need to use paper muffin cake cases placed in a metal muffin tray.Bake at 190 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12

Some really good stories. And one of mine.

The summer is fading fast, the kids are going back to school, it's a bank holiday in the UK, and it's probably raining.  So it's a good time to enjoy some good reading.

The nominees for Blog Awards Ireland 2012 are out, including a Best Blog Post category, which has some wonderfully good reads.  There is also a post of mine on the list, and I'm actually quite proud of it, even though it was written while I was trying to get the dinner and really needed a bit more editing.

blog awards ireland

The Best Blog Post will be chosen by public vote, and that means you.

Asking for votes makes me very uncomfortable, so I won't.   But please do read some of the stories and vote to support the organisers who've done an amazing job in setting up these awards.

Here is the link to the stories:

These are some of my personal favourites:

...Anne Marie O'Connor for fabulous writing.

...datbeardyman who always has an interesting take on the issues of the day.

...Journeying beyond breast cancer for a very moving post.

...Kate Takes 5 because she deserves it.

...Limmster because I laughed and laughed.

...mammisammi for writing an important post that needs to be read.

Wishing the best of luck to everyone who is up for an award.

I am not a saint

I ran.

I didn't mean to, I try very hard to be calm and patient, but sometimes I don't succeed.

The parents of Angel's friends apparently describe me as a saint.

Please read this very carefully: I. Am. Not. A. Saint.

If you've known me for more than five years you're probably laughing at the very idea!  

I do my best, and I am lucky to have a positive outlook on life.  Most of the time.

But sometimes I do get down and sometimes I do feel overwhelmed.

Swearing helps, especially when Smiley has an accident in the middle of a TV show that I've been waiting to watch all week.  Tiring and annoying, but I can deal with it.   

But my son's behaviour can really mess with my head.  It's not his fault, it's mine, I'm an adult and should be able to deal with it, but some things trigger memories that overload my coping skills.  

This all happened on a Sunday, and many of our worst days are Sundays.  Perhaps my expectations are too high?  Sunday is supposed to be the perfect family day, with lie-ins and lunch around the table, and car-washing and family outings.  A day of fun and leisure.

It's a day we mostly spend on our own, and it's usually a fail day.  From the disappointment of the lie-in that didn't happen to the late lunch to the trip that no-one wants, it rarely lives up to expectations.

Last Sunday I snapped.

I slammed the bowl into the sink, and I ran.

I ran out of the house, down the road, round the corner and I didn't stop until I could run no more.

I had no keys and no phone. 

My flight response had kicked in.

My Mummy brain knew that my 19 year old was in the house so that the kids would be safe.

But I had to escape.  For a few minutes anyway.  And for a few minutes I didn't want to go back.

But I did.   

The Gallery - Sky

This was to be my future: flinging back the kitchen curtains to watch the sun rise over the sea in the mornings.

Drinking in the blue sky of a perfect summer's day.

Watching the blue sky fade as the evening draws in and the fields turn to gold.

Closing the blinds as the inky blackness of night draws in and then catching that moment when it all begins again as another day dawns.

It's someone else's dream now.

Note: apologies to regular readers who will have seen one of these photos before x

Silent Sunday

The wandering duck: Kate's adventures in Dublin

It was just an innocent little comment.  I'd dropped in to visit Mari's World - and you should too, her pictures are gorgeous - and she was writing about a duck called Kate.

A duck who was launched on a journey around the world by Chasing Ducks Blog.

If you find her, you can keep her "alive" by entering the code on her back onto the website.  Then you get to own her for a while and can write another chapter in her story.

It was an irresistible opportunity, and I may have mentioned that Kate would be very welcome in Dublin.

Three weeks later, she arrived...

Just in time to watch the awesome Katie Taylor beating all comers in the London Olympics.

I took Kate to St Stephen's Green in Dublin to meet some Irish ducks.  But they were feeling shy.  Instead she got to meet my special girl.

It was a hot day so Kate cooled off in the shade.

She also enjoyed a trip to a cake shop on Wicklow Street.

No summer visit to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the seaside.  Luckily Kate doesn't need sand to enjoy her afternoon!

And finally for something completely different: Kate was smuggled into the launch of the Blog Awards Ireland 2012.  This had a lot in common with the Olympics opening ceremony - it was full of unexpected and slightly bonkers stuff and was hugely enjoyable.

And this gives me an opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone who nominated this blog for an award.  I really appreciate it.

So now it's time for Kate to say goodbye to Dublin.  Where will she go next?  Would you like to take her on?  Just leave me a comment and she might be paddling in your direction...

Why I don't get up until lunchtime at weekends

It all depends on your definition of "getting up". Mine means getting showered, dressed and breakfasted.  And that is not really happening at weekends this summer.  I'm in danger of becoming Dublin's newest pyjama girl, only with less riding of buses.

You see when Smiley was little I could quickly change and dress her, lift her out of bed and into her buggy, and give her a hot chocolate to break her fast while I did a bit of exercise and had a shower.  No longer.  I can't lift her, and the hot chocolates have had to go as I need to keep her weight down.  And now I have aspie boy and his little quirks to manage too.

So a typical Sunday morning goes something like this: At 6.30 am I give up the two hour battle to get my son to go back to sleep.  We go downstairs. If you're new here you need to know that he is 11, but has Asperger's Syndrome.

He is feeling guilty and so makes his own hot chocolate.  There's only a small mess.  Some lessons are clearly getting through.

I put the water on and make some strong coffee and go on-line for 20 minutes or so, part work, part social.

Just as I'm draining the coffee dregs I hear Smiley calling me.  She can't tell me exactly what she wants, but I assume it's a nappy change, and breakfast.  The usual routine.  I get her dressed as well.  We eat breakfast together - it saves time, and then I settle her in front of a video while I have a second coffee and do some work. 

I put a black wash on.  Then go upstairs and find that my favourite black cardigan never got as far as the laundry basket.  I must have been channeling my inner teenager and abandoned it on the floor last night.

Oops its now 9.30 so it's time to give my son his 5 minute warning : The rule is that he has to get dressed and eat breakfast before 10 in the holidays, as part of his daily timetable.

Toileting, cleaning the carpet for Smiley, chicken in the oven, going upstairs to the toilet with aspie boy, back down again to help Smiley choose a video.

And on and on and on, every time I head for the bathroom, there's something else to sort.  Delighted there are no callers!

Then the phone goes.

Then I discover that Smiley has a sticky neck so I get out the cotton wool balls and find there's only two left so you dig out the shopping list and realise there's a few more things that need to be added.  

I admire the latest Pokemon evolutions - all 20 of them...

And suddenly it's midday.

The day after I wrote this was a weekday so my home help arrived at 6.40 am to help get Smiley up for the day - it's the first summer I've said yes to this service.   She is here for just 45 minutes, but the difference it makes is enormous.  By lunchtime I had done 2 hours work, watched a bit of Olympics with the kids, Smiley had been in her walker, aspie boy on the trampoline.  It's been the same on other weekdays, with lots of outings to see friends and places visited. So different from last summer, when the furthest we went most days was to the local Tesco express, and then no earlier than 3.30pm.  My son had lots of meltdowns, but I got to bank sleep for the rest of the year.

But who needs to sleep anyway?  I wouldn't mind so much if all was well with aspie boy, but it's not.   He thinks that he is sick, and getting worse every day.   Yesterday his anxiety was so great and his meltdown so bad that took him to the friendliest local pharmacist - they all know us round here - and begged for a few minutes in the private consultation room.  And she was very good and speaking to someone with 'medical training' seemed to help.  Earlier I'd explained to my son why we were not going to ring our GP's doorbell until he answered...

I'd also suggested going to the children's hospital, which he refused.   I'm tempted to ask if they would take me in instead.  I'll wear pyjamas and eat Cheerios and play Lego Batman if I have to, just give me a break.   If I could make that happen, I wouldn't be getting up at lunchtime, oh no!   I won't be getting up at all.

Celebrating the Olympics - 5 top sporting moments

I have a hate-love relationship with sport and exercise.  I hated the sports that were important in school: lacrosse, netball and tennis.  My short sight and aversion to looking up in sunlight meant that I couldn't see what was happening, and when a ball came near me, I usually ducked.  Sometimes I still do, much to the amusement of my kids.  Almost no one in school noticed that I was quite good at gymnastics, swimming and running, but luckily I was able to pursue them later, apart from gymnastics, where my daughter picked up the baton.

So what of the Olympics? Well my lucky daughter got to go to the final day of the gymnastics thanks to a competition win by one of the her friends.  Between work and special needs I have struggled to watch much of it, but I loved parts of the Opening Ceremony and the heartwarming stories and the amazing  performances, and the medals that the Irish are starting to win, with the golden hopes of an entire nation on the shoulders of a young woman from Bray in Co. Wicklow today.  The wonderful Katie Taylor.

Watching Katie made me think about the sporting moments that stick in my memory and really they are all athletics, well maybe apart from Llanelli beating the All Blacks in 1972 during the glory years of Welsh Rugby.

Here's my list, what's yours?

Sonia O'Sullivan winning the silver medal in the 5000m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  I love this video of her career highlights.

Watching Roger Black win anything, but especially his silver medal in 1996 at the Olympics in Atlanta where he was only beaten by the awesome Michael Johnson.

I dared to hope that Irish sprinter Paul Hession might achieve something unexpectedly amazing when he made history in 2010 as the first Irishman to qualify for the finals of the 200 metres in the European Athletics Championships. He ran 20.71 seconds, finishing in 6th place.

My own golden moment and the sweetest revenge on my games teacher who once accused me of cheating when I set out with the second group on the cross country run and caught up with the first:

(It says Knightsmead Half Marathon Winner 1987)

And for me the most inspiring run ever was Liz McColgan winning the 10,000m in the 1991 Tokyo World Championships by leading from the front and never EVER giving up.  Watch the last few minutes here

And the winner is...

Well before I tell you, I just want to explain how the winner was chosen.  Even though I did not post the Lego Batman Game Giveaway on any 'Comping' websites, there was a lot of interest, so I owe it to everyone who entered to explain.

I *may* have over-thought things a little bit though!

I began with the list of entries, and assigned a random number to each entry - with more than one number for anyone with multiple entries - using a number sequencing site.  Then I asked my friend and fellow blogger Jazzygal (who did not enter) to pick any number from the sequence.  Which she did!

Sooooo I can now announce that the winner is:

Jenny Lesley

Congratulations to Jenny and thank you to everyone who entered.

Silent Sunday

The Hangover

That thing that happens to a kid with asperger's when the good times are over.  No drink involved...

The house is quiet, too quiet and the grey clouds massing outside the window match the heavy thoughts inside my head.  If I switch off the radio, the only sound in the kitchen is Smiley's breathing.  Her Darth Vader impression is a daily reminder that  her lungs will never be great.  But from the other room I might hear the sound of a small boy sobbing.  He is heart broken since his uncle and cousin returned to Wales after the staycation.  It's like a mammoth hangover.

He has had just two topics of conversation in the last few days: his worries about his eyes and getting a passport so that he can go over to see them.  And this is a child who is afraid to go upstairs on his own.  Or so he says.  But apparently he will be fine as an unaccompanied minor on his first ever air flight!  The endless repetition is wearing me down, especially as the eye updates start soon after 6, and his obsession with their health is seriously affecting his anxiety.

I brought him to the GP, I brought him to the optician, he told his therapists. They were all very nice to him. And gently suggested that he cut down the amount of time he spends on his laptop.

I'm not accepting that," he says. "I want a cure."

So I've bought some anti-histamines, just in case.  Apparently they don't work.  Eye drops are next on the shopping list.  I'm not convinced that they will work either.

He also says that the TV is affecting his eyes.  Apparently he needs a new one with a bigger screen.  I said that Santa might oblige.  So now he won't play with any of his consoles until Christmas and nor will he have friends over to the house because they will need a TV to play their games.   What to do?  Perhaps the eye problem is caused and fed by a mixture of anxiety, a little hayfever, a bit of tiredness, and too much screen time.  If you have any ideas, please don't keep them to yourself!

I have distractions organised for each day: with friends, family or appointments and they perk up his mood at the time.  But as soon as he is home alone with his family he 'starts' again.  Which is how I found myself in the garden at 7 am this morning in my pyjamas playing catch over the trampoline enclosure.

I never caught up all day.

On the other hand, like a hangover, the passport issue is leading to good intentions.  I told him all the things he had to manage by himself, if he was to go somewhere on his own...and the list is being tackled.   I'm starting to hope that it will take a long time to get that passport!

Written with the permission of my son