Friday, 31 July 2009

Inspired by the film 'Monster House', Barney decided to keep watch on the neighbours home. He says the lady spends far too much time cleaning her house, and it was up to him to spy on her. In 'Monster House' the boys dress up a vacuum cleaner as a person. Barney didn't have a vacuum cleaner, so he disguised his kiddie lawn mower (see photo). This lawn mower sat on our lawn all day, spying on the neighbours. There were all sorts of traps and trip wires set up across the lawn, in case someone should invade us. Lol.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Do you have a spare 8 minutes??

Barney makes his own video, which includes 5 seasons, not 4 !

Luke and Leila

Leila seems to be enjoying her holiday here at the M household!

Happy summer holidays....

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Mid day blackouts

I keep noticing, as I go about my daily business, that the house has been plunged into darkness. Someone has been closing all the curtains at odd times of the day. Today I spotted what was happening. As I walked out of the office into the hallway, every doorway was closed, every curtain in the house was closed, and the place was in darkness. I could hear Barney closing the last of the curtains upstairs.

When I asked him why he was closing them, he said that it was because it was raining. And I realised that every time it has rained the last few days, he has done the same thing. Why do you need to close them when it rains? I asked. He gave me a few silly answers and then said 'it's because I am worried the world is going to flood, and if I don't' see it, I don't feel so worried.' I'm wondering if that's all part of the Aspergers issues, or whether he is just being a kid and playing games.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Solitary Confinement, almost

I was going a bit stir crazy alone in the house with 4 kids. Marty's only really been home to sleep, and since our car died I've been stuck in the house. I have another 6 days of that, then hopefully we will get some sort of new banger of a car. I can't wait! I am missing getting out in the summer holidays. This morning I managed to sneak out for two hours without any kids in tow. It was bliss. I went window shopping, and somehow managed to come home with new shoes, a dress, a skirt, leggings, jeans, trousers and 2 tops! How did that happen? That's what will happen if you put a girl in solitary confinement. She will get the urge to shop! Be warned!

Here are some pictures of the fire damage to our wee car, sent to us today by the insurance company. No surprise, they say the car is a write off. The bonnet melted shut and couldn't be opened. Poor car, how I miss her.

You do meet some fascinating people as you go through life. I love it when someone interesting breezes along for a chat. Other peoples lives can be so inspiring. Anyway, this interesting person shared a quote with me that really made me think for a while, and it's one I would like to remember....

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recess of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity. But dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible". TE Lawerence from the 7 pillars of wisdom.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Aye Aye Capt'n

Today Barney wanted to be a pirate. He loves dressing up and has the biggest box full of dressing up clothes. We made a sort of make shift pirate ship, which wasn't very good as it was almost bedtime and time was short. It was basically an old cot mattress to sit on, with a colander for a steering wheel, and a bath wrack as a canon! He also stole his sisters beanie Parrot, who sat on his shoulder. We made this video.

I had to take a ton of photos of him in his costume. Here are just a few of them. After about 20 shots he piped up with "Mummy, can you tell I've been watching America's Next Top Model?" Haha.

I love playing with Barney. He's such good craic.

He went to sleep in his pirate costume tonight!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Kids do the darndest things!

Marty is away for 10 days at the moment, and since our car died it means that I'm stuck in the house on my own with 4 kids, and no way of escape! I don't mind too much, although I do miss getting out and about a bit. And it is hard never getting a break to take a shower, or read a book, or just think. I am grabbing this rare opportunity to write a very quick blog post, whilst Barney and Rosie are watching nursery rhyme time together. Most days I am not stopping until about 10pm.

Today I discovered Barney digging a hole in the middle of our lawn! He had my huge garden spade and was slashing away at the lawn as if he was trying to make it to Australia. I called out to him that he shouldn't be digging up the lawn like that, and suggested a more suitable area for digging. "But Mum! I'm trying to find the sewage pipes!" was my reply. He thought I was very unreasonable at not wanting a trench in my lawn.

I had to laugh this afternoon. He had eaten a yoghurt and wanted to make a yoghurt pot telephone system. But needed another pot. So I told him to get me a yoghurt and I would eat it for him. He called out from the kitchen "what flavour do you want?" "Surprise me" was my reply. A few minutes later a very confused Barney presented me with a yoghurt saying "I THINK it's fish and celery flavour!" He didn't seem at all shocked that it wasn't fruit flavoured! As it turns out it was rhubarb flavour, and he through the pink stems of the rhubarb were some sort of fish, and the leafy tops were celery! I did laugh.

On an exciting note, for me as a Mama... Rosie said 'Dada' today! I had been worrying that she wasn't attempting any sounds yet, apart from her own roaring noise. She is missing her Daddy no doubt. She listened to his voice on the phone, and then Barney sat with her and tried to teach her to say 'Dada'. She sat listening to him, then in the sweetest little baby voice, said a quiet 'Dada'. Well! Did we make a fuss of her! So much so that she said it again. It was the sweetest little noise I have ever heard. Of course we phoned Daddy to tell him and he was almost in tears. So cute.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A get well party for Mummy

It's only a cold. Another blooming cold.

I awoke this morning to the sounds of Barney on the landing getting a 'get well Mummy' party ready. When I made it out of bed I had to go to Rosie's bedroom where Barney had a sleeping bag and cushions on the floor, a cup of tea and some toasted wheaten bread with Marmite, and some specially invited teddy guests waiting. He had made me two of the best drawings I have ever seen! He obviously put a lot of effort into them! I nearly cried when he gave them to me. And right enough they did make me feel much better......

Sunday, 19 July 2009

My baby loves Jason Mraz - I'm Yours !

Rosie just loves this song. She stares and stares every time its on the TV. Excuse the state of me in this video! I am not at all well and look like crap. Lol. We are going to sing this song at Rosies naming day. She just loves it.

Bleurgh... I've got a cold. It's been coming on for a few days but was not too bad, however this afternoon it's just turned into one of those hideous, purple, puffy eye watering, hose-pipe nose stinkers. I am not happy!

Luckily, before the onset of the snot-fest, a friend who I haven't seen for 16 years came to visit! She was in the area as a relative lives nearby, so she popped in for a cuppa. It was so great to see her after so long. She hasn't changed a bit from how I remember her. Barney had made a picture for her, all in red as he asked me what her favourite colour is, and I just happened to remember how much she likes red! He was so full of chat. He gave her a tour around the house, hand cuffed her (be warned that if you are visiting our home you will more than likely be handcuffed at some point!), shared his precious Texan rats with her, and showed her his travel photo album. As usual, Barney steals the affections of my friends from me and they become 'his friends' and not mine! Lol.

Uncle T was also handcuffed later in the afternoon when he came to pick up his puppy. We had been dog sitting her for the weekend. She's so cute!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Well, well, well, what a palaver! As mentioned in the post below Marty took the kids to W5 this morning. Last week we spent 170 quid on a service and the car passed the MOT. But this afternoon Marty phoned me to tell me they had broken down on the side of the A1. Then suddenly he shouted out "oh my god the car is on fire! Get out! Everyone get out!" Then he signed off the call and I was left in utter panic at home alone in my kitchen! I didn't know what to do.

Five minutes later he phoned back to tell me that while he and the kids were sitting in the car he had noticed what he thought was steam coming out of the bonnet. Turned out, it was smoke. An off duty police man almost crashed his car when he spotted our car, complete with family, on fire! The flames were under the car so Marty hadn't been able to see them. The policeman came running at at them screaming "get out of the car!" and apparently a few 999 calls were made saying that 'a woman (hahahaha - cut your hair Marty!) and her kids were sitting in a burning vehicle!

Marty called 999 to get the fire brigade out. I felt so sorry for him. He had to get 3 kids out of the car, tend to a baby and a totally panic stricken Barney. Annabelle was a star though and Marty says she was the biggest help. The fire department told them to keep away from the car, but the off duty policeman had found a fire extinguisher and was trying to put it out. A crowd of onlookers had built up and one very nice lady took the kids into her car to shelter them from the wind. Poor Barney did so well, but was panic stricken. Amazingly the lady asked Marty "is he a wee bit autistic?" I was shocked as that is the first time anyone has noticed or said anything without prompting. He had his ear defenders on and his hands over them to protect himself from the horror of what was going on around him. And he wouldn't get into the strange lady's car, which is no surprise as he doesn't like traveling in anyones car except ours.

The fire brigade arrived with their sirens on, which was a big excitement for Barney! The front of the car is sort of melted together and basically is un-fixable. Huge thanks to our friend Davy who drove out to pick them all up from the side of the road and brought them home. What a star.

Well, what a shocking day! Now we are car less, but at least everyone is ok. It could have been a lot worse!
Today was supposed to be such a busy day. I had 3 different events planned for today, but one by one they have all been cancelled. I am not complaining, as it means that I now have the house to myself for the day! Which is a rarity that I truly enjoy.

We were planning to go to W5 today with a friend. But the friend was unwell, and as it turns out I have a cold so I am quite relieved not to be going. Marty has gone instead, with the kids. Barney was fine about the trip being cancelled. Then when Marty said he would take him instead, he was excited. But excitement often leads to anxiety attacks. After getting dressed and ready to go Barney started to feel sick and panicky and decided that he couldn't go after all. For some reason the wind outside seemed to be bothering him too. He begged not to go. I wrote him a page out about the days events, and we drew pictures of all the exciting things he likes at W5. But still he did not want to go.

Anyway, my sister M turned up with her new doggie which we are baby sitting for the weekend. Barney loves Mookie, but is a little nervous about her. Once she arrived he decided a trip to W5 was the better of two evils, and off they went! I hope they have a good time and he doesn't spend the whole day panicking.

I phoned the doctors this morning for the results of my latest liver function tests. She said that my liver function is improving (good news!) but isn't yet back to normal. I'm a little surprised as I have been feeling so well the last 2 weeks. I have to be tested every two months now instead of every two weeks, so I guess that's a good sign. If it's not back to normal next time then they are sending me for liver scan.

Rosie has started to sit up on her own now. She has been doing it for a few weeks but was a bit wobbly. Now she seems to be quite happy to sit unaided. She looks so grown up when she does. She is such a poser! As soon as she sees a camera she gives a great big smile!

Look at these two photos of me and Rosie at the same age. Don't you think there's quite a resemblance??

I have been taking steps to make life a bit easier for Barney (and myself). I've been reading various books and sites about Aspergers and Autism, and tried to implement a few new things to see how they help. I have printed out and laminated a morning and evening routine for him. It basically lists all the things he needs to do, such as brush his teeth, make his bed etc, and he ticks them off when he is done. He likes having them to follow, and it means I don't have to keep asking him if he's done everything. But the best thing so far has been the little food planner that is on the fridge. I laminated some little food pictures to represent each of the following; breakfast, lunch, dinner, pudding, 1 unhealthy snack, 1 healthy snack, 1 fruit snack. Barney puts magnets onto each one and pins them to the fridge every morning. Each time he has used one of them he puts them into a little pouch and they are gone for the day. It is working really well. On a normal day Barney can ask for food every 10 minutes or so. It is a constant battle of reminding him what he has already eaten, and putting up with the tantrums that follow a 'no you can't have something bad for you'. Now, he looks at his pictures to see what options he has. Once the option has gone to the pouch he doesn't ask for it any more. It is wonderful!

I have also printed out lots of clocks for him. When something planned is happening during the day we draw the hands onto the printed clock so that he knows what time the event will take place at. It seems to give him some peace of mind.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Do you like my green ear muffins?

I have to start this blog post off with this gorgeous pic of our Rosie wearing her Daddy's American bandanna. He wore it all around the states on our trip, and now it seems she is following in his fashions. Cute.

Well, it's be an adventuresome week at our place. Barney's ear defenders arrived in the post and he was delighted with them. He has worn them a lot and they seem to give him some comfort even when noises aren't a problem. For instance, he dropped a big glass bowl on his little toe which was cut open and badly bruised. He was in agony, poor lad. He was so nervous about me putting a plaster on it in case it hurt when I touched it, so he put on his ear defenders (or ear muffins as he calls them!) and closed his eyes whilst I fixed his toe up.

Once he was used to wearing them he decided to brave the cinema to watch Ice Age 3. Daddy took him. The last time we took him to the cinema he spent almost the entire film in the toilet in a right state. This time he adorned his trendy ear muffins and bought a ticket. The second the ticket was bought he started to panic. Marty bought him some pick'n'mix to tempt him further into the building. They got past the tills up to the cinema foyer and he started to panic and begged to go home. Marty spoke to one of the staff and asked if he could go into the cinema and check the place out before deciding whether to stay or not. Anyway, to cut a long story short, they made it into the cinema and Barney sat with his 'muffins' on, on the edge of his seat for a good half an hour before relaxing into the film. He did it in the end, but it wasn't without a lot of stress and upset.

Speaking of the ear muffins, here is a photo of Barney wearing them at the Ulster Transport Museum. He loves to go there. We used to go every week or so before we started our travels. But we haven't been since almost a year ago when we took Neil there. Emily was only a bump then. So he was very excited about going there for the day again, and even more excited that our friend Jools would be joining us.

So Barney, Jools, Rosie and I all had a fab, exhausting day at the 'train museum'. He barely needed the ear muffins as it was pretty quiet there. Poor Jools was shattered after Barney had her racing through trees, up and down hills. Jools was absolutely fabulous with Barney and he made a friend for life. He told her 'you're my new best friend' and he didn't leave her side the entire day. Later that night he asked me "is Jools my friend now or is she still your friend?" Bless. He has made Jools promise to come to the Aquarium or W5 with us while she is off work. It is so great for Barney when someone takes a real interest in him and doesn't get fed up or annoyed at his constant chatter.

The summer holidays are well underway here and are already proving to be a very stressful time! Having four kids around 24 hours a day without a break gets tough at times, although I still insist that I love the summer holidays. Still, a teenager, preteen, a 5 year old and a baby make for a lot of hard work. And a lot of good times, laughs and precious memories.

I've been quite surprised by the reactions we have had to Barneys possible Asperger diagnosis. I'm not sure whether some people see it as an undesirable way to be, or whether they think that Aspergers doesn't even exist, but it is interesting and sometimes upsetting to see how people respond to Barney and Aspergers. Some people quite obviously think it is just a label we have chosen to endorse on our son to mask his bad behavior. Others seem to be conveying (from their sly, condescending looks, that he must need a good smack or some hard disciplining. When Barney announces 'I am wearing these ear muffins because I have Aspergers and I don't like loud noises' some people have tried to convince him that there is in fact nothing "wrong with him" and perhaps he will outgrow it or is just nervous/shy/anxious or whatever.

It makes me quite cross when often these people don't see Barney's severe panic attacks. They don't live with him 24 hours a day, and some barely know him, yet they feel free to pass judgement and tell me (or him!) that its probably nothing. Most of these people have absolutely no idea what Aspgers or an ASD is, yet they feel they know enough to tell me that I shouldn't worry too much about it. This 'Aspergers idea' is not something that Marty and I have pulled out of no-where. It has come from over 5 years of knowing and loving our son, long in depth talks with teachers, and Occupational Therapists, and consultation with our GP, not to mention the reading of countless books on the subject over many years - not just recently. No he doesn't yet have a piece of paper that says 'this child officially has Aspergers', but there is no doubt about it. The truth is that if you know Barney and you think theres nothing amiss, then that is more than likely because we take jolly good care of him and have always tended to his special needs and issues without having had a label of Aspergers. Many family members have commented over the years that 'Barney is a difficult child', or 'Barney is hard work isn't he?' We do many things to make his life easier, and ours, that we have been doing since he was two years old.

I have noticed that some family and friends have been compassionate to Barney recently and have taken the time to try to understand how he thinks. I can't thank these people enough, as their thoughtfulness and kindness, patience and tolerance has made a huge difference. At the moment every day has huge difficulties and to be honest some days are just extremely tough. When people take Barney aside and spend time with him, comfort him, or just listen and try to understand, it makes every ones life a hell of a lot easier, and happier.

Speaking of which, last night we had a family meal at my Mum's house. Mum always puts on a good spread and the company is great. But with seven children, a crying baby and two dogs running about the place it was a noisy event with lots of hustle and bustle. Several of the adults had trouble coping with the noise and excitement. So imagine how much harder it must be for a 5 year old boy who is extremely sensitive to noises and strange or new situations. Barney spent the entire day building up to our trip to Nanny's feeling sick, worried, anxious. He didn't want to go. It was too much for him. But we went, and he had a lot of fun with his cousins. However, late at night after all that noise, food and excitement both he and Rosie got overtired and wrung out. By 8pm Rosie was desperately tired and needed to get home to bed. She was crying, and Barney was panicking. In order to leave I had to chase him, panic stricken, around Mum's kitchen, begging him to put his shoes on. After we finally left I spent another few minutes chasing him around the garden trying to get him into the car. He wouldn't get in because Rosie was crying, and even with the ear muffins on he couldn't bare to be trapped in a moving vehicle with a crying baby. I almost had to restrain him and shove him into the car against hill will. It is very upsetting for a mother to have to do such things to a panic stricken child. It is not easy. And it is not a case of a spoilt brat needing a good slap either!

Well, rant over. I guess I'm just starting to see some peoples prejudices against Autism. I guess there will always be people who feel it is ok to laugh at a child and mother who are in distress and just trying to do their best. Or to make uneducated, naive comments to us both without any idea of what they are talking about. Thank goodness that there are some wonderful people who truly care and understand and at least try to help. Thank you to those people. You really do make a difference.


Why is it that some people think that they know everything? We've all met them. I bet someone springs to your mind. The sort of person who is an expert on absolutely everything, and will argue that they know better than anyone, even if they are a complete novice on the subject, arguing with an expert. I just can't stand know-it-alls. I find them such a bore.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

My Sisters Keeper

I took Tarja to the cinema this evening to see My Sisters Keeper. Such a sad film. One that really reminds us as parents, or brothers or sisters, how lucky we are to have the health of the people we love around us. At one silent point you could actually hear the sobbing audience.

Barney's ear defenders have arrived and so he is keen to test them out at the cinema tomorrow. His Dad is going to take him to see Ice Age 3. Let's hope they help and that he doesn't spend the whole time in the toilets hyperventilating again. He loves the ear defenders. Every time Rosie cries he puts them on and they really seem to reduce his panic. I caught him wearing them on the trampoline in the garden. He was jumping up and down with a running hose pipe in his hand, soaking himself and the garden. You gotta love little boys. They are so precious, and so entertaining!

We forked out for a new bed for Barney yesterday. We can't afford it but he so desperately needed one. I was worried about how he would settle into it but he did just fine. We have been practising deep breathing and he has been visualising his happy place. When he gets panicky I talk him through the breathing and then remind him to go to his happy place. It seems to help if we get to it before the panic really sets in.

We are planning Rosie's naming ceremony for 22nd August. I have so many ideas about things we can do to make it a special day. I want to have it outside in my Mums field, a sort of hippy affair with everyone sitting on rugs or cushions. I have more ideas than we could possibly use. I just need to focus them somehow and start to get organised.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Mothers Song

Dedicated to mothers every where! Very funny video, sent to me by my sister J.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Noises and sensory issues....

Today I mentioned to Barney that Ice Age 3 is on at the cinema, and perhaps he would like to go see it sometime. I told him that we wouldn't go today as I knew that a sudden trip somewhere exciting like that would make him anxious. So I suggested he pick a day himself. He pondered for a moment and then said "I think I will wait for it to come out on DVD as I will be sick if I go to the cinema". I remember he had a severe panic attack with nausea last time he went to the cinema but I had presumed that was all down to the fact that it was an unplanned trip. I asked him what was it about the cinema that bothers him. His Dad suggested we plan it in advance, go really early so that he could get sat down and settled while all the lights were on and the cinema was empty. But still he didn't want to go. He said that it is the noise of the cinema that makes him feel sick. He is still reacting very badly to noises, going into utter panic if Emily cries. He wont let me play music in the car when we are out driving. If anyone shouts he panics and begs them to have a 'golden moment' or quiet time. I am wondering whether to purchase a pair of these ear defenders, as I have heard that some autistic children use them to protect their senses from loud or stressing noises. But I'm not sure whether he might become too dependant on them and start wearing them 24/7. And I don't want to buy them if they turn out to be a waste of time too.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

I really should be in bed. It's almost midnight. Why do I refuse to go to bed when I know that the kids will be up at the crack of dawn, and at least one child will probably be up during the night? I guess it is because it is 'grown up time' and I don't want it to stop!

I harvested a big glut of blackcurrants and raspberries from our garden today. The vegetable garden that I cherished and tended to before we went to America is a big patch of weeds now, save for some lavender and an overgrowth of mint. But we do still have raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants growing in abundance out there. The only problem is, that to pick them one has to trample through 4ft high weeds. It happened to be raining when I had a spare half hour to go outside, so I stood in the pouring rain with Barney, harvesting our fruits, so that I could use some of them to make baby food for Rosie. Marty is going to make a fruit crumble with the rest. Yum. I think I am allergic to weeds! When ever I do the weeding I come out in rashes. Today, since I was wearing shorts, I came in with itchy rashes all up my legs.

I spent another hour in the garden planting some marigolds, lavender and some other type of flowers (can't remember the name though) into pots. They are all out in the front garden now, and at last our house looks semi respectable...... I often wonder if the neighbours get fed up with us! They are all well off working professionals who take great pride in their gardens. Ours usually needs mowing, and weeding, and has a scatter of kids toys all over it. We certainly look like the chavs in the street. I forgive myself though, as I know that we are the only house in this cul de sac with four kids to take care of.

Barney has been enjoying the start of the summer holidays. I am still reading books on Aspergers and still pondering over it all. He hasn't had too many panic attacks this week. He has grown out of his junior bed and really needs a proper single bed, but we just cant afford one at the moment. Anyway his mattress got wet and I put it out to dry, then it rained on it and so he couldn't sleep in his bed! So we dragged the futon mattress up to his room and made a bed up on the floor. He has slept on it for two nights, but he hasn't settled easily. He has started back to feeling ill and panicky at bed time. His tummy hurts and he thinks he is going to be sick. He doesn't have any clue why it's happening, but I know its just because he isn't sleeping in his normal bed, and his body doesn't like changes.

He is still having the most awful panic attacks whenever Rosie cries. Last night she awoke at 2am wanting a feed. She was crying in the bed with me and before I could get my eyes open properly Barney had burst into the room in a total panic. He was shaking, hyperventilating, screaming, then ran out of the room and down the stairs into the hallway where he ran up and down in a panic, not knowing where to go, but wanting to run away. Marty went to calm him down whilst I fed Rosie. Its very upsetting to see. Loud noises really upset him and he has absolutely no control over his reactions at the moment.

The bigger kids school reports came in the post yesterday. Tarja got almost straight A's, a glowing report. She did particularly well in English and Art. Her French teacher said that she is a natural linguist, to which Tarja was very surprised! Badger's report was also good. He attains good results, but almost every single teacher commented that he could do extraordinarily well if he concentrated and got himself more organised. I'm quite impressed that he can do so well without concentrating! Think what he could do if he really knuckled down!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Thursday, 2 July 2009

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