Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Warp/School Holidays

I'm writing this completely out of order. But life can be like that (not to mention my mind!!!).


Anyway, back oh a year ago (or so it seems) in the middle of July we had midyear school holidays. My Little Tree was perfect - even with a cold for the first week (wow) and I didn't want to send him back to school.

We have a holiday planned for later this year. Our first holiday for eight years. Our little autistic son would, in the past, have been far too anxious and distressed for us to consider it. Whenever we want to do something or go somewhere different or if we have people coming to visit, quite a lot of preparation has to be done or we face a meltdown. We have a laminated A3 page that is a weekly calendar and each week I write up the major events such as school, gym, OT, excursions, visits from family or friends etc. For events that I think are guaranteed to send him off the planet I go a bit further e.g. recently we started seeing a new occupational therapist, J. Little Tree is familiar with the hospital but not J or the rooms where she works so I requested that she email her photo and of the rooms. Using these tools I was able to get Little Tree to happily enter the rooms and work with J. Without these I would expect him to refuse to go through the door and any insistence would lead to panic and his withdrawal to a place I can't reach. To any observer unaware of his condition this would appear just like a tantrum of a spoilt child.

(This is Little Tree's calendar for this week. Yes, he has another cold - courtesy of his Dad. Where a change of schedule is required we cross it out and write the new one. When he was younger all this would have been pictures.)

With all this is in mind and to introduce him to sleeping away from home, something he hasn't done since he was a tiny baby, I decided to spend a couple of nights at Grandmama's (my Mum). So for a week beforehand I went through the plan on the calendar. Little Tree is very familiar with her place so we automatically overcame one obstacle. Once it was dark outside he asked to go home - my heart sank, my stomach clenched and with crossed fingers and girded loins I reminded him that we were sleeping there. He was a little nervy but we managed bath, teeth cleaning and bedtime story with no problems. He fell asleep pretty quickly and would have stayed asleep until morning if one of Mum's bloody dogs (Dalmatians) hadn't decided to give one of the local swamp wallabies a good barking to. I should explain that we live close enough to town to have noise from neighbours and traffic whereas Mum's place is in the middle of 10 acres, a little less than half of which is bush and her land is surrounded by other like properties. So it's quiet, really quiet. Any noise bounces around the valley like it's being played through an amplifier. Little Tree naturally woke up to this canine outburst and called for me. Damn. It took less than an hour to get him back to sleep - a huge improvement on the 2 hours it would have taken a couple of years ago. The second night was almost a carbon copy of the first so by the time we left to return home I was beginning to reacquaint myself with sleep deprivation.

He loved the days up there though. We spent a lot of time kicking a "soccer" ball around between us - what is it with boys and balls (and let's keep it clean)!!!! He also had to follow Grandmama to the veggie patch whenever she went out there, he wanted to help feed the goats but their horns frightened him too much. His favourite thing to do, by far, was to feed the chooks and collect the eggs.

Our next step is to have him sleep over at Grandma and Grandad's (Mr I's parents).

My hope is that with enough preparation we will manage a relatively relaxing resort holiday. I am so-o-o-o-o looking forward to my three hours at the day spa while the boys go fishing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tick, tock

Oh my goodness, time has flown.

The season has changed. Hurrah. Well not officially and I was sure it had turned quite some time ago but now the sun is proving it. (I was trying to capture the sparkle of sunlight through the glass but the camera did not quite get there. I really must learn how to take better photos too.) What a bleak and seemingly long, dark winter it has been. I cannot begin to tell you how my spirits are lifting with the return of the sun. We are having the most beautiful spring weather. Much as we try to squish our Australian climate into the eurocentric idea of four seasons, in reality it just doesn't work that way. It seems to me we have more like 6 and possibly there are more for someone more sensitive.

At the risk of losing vegies to late frosts, I have begun planting vegies, various lettuce, kale, bok choy, silverbeet, spring onions, snow peas and basil, rocket, continental parsley. Next I want to put in some coriander before it warms up too much and it bolts to seed. I have managed to pick 2 strawberries already!!! However further chances of that happening are greatly reduced as a possum seems to have discovered that, clever as thought I was being, lo there are strawbs to be found among the flowers! I have heard him/her growly cursing out there in the evening. Drat. Postscript: Did I say late frosts? We've just had our hottest August day on record. Phew!

Most of all this spring I want to plant lots and lots of colourful flowers. The daughter of the house owners (who lived here before us) had begun to set up the garden along permaculture lines - lots of productive plants but few flowers. We have tried to maintain it as such. In a system where everything hopefully has more than one purpose, I'm not sure that flowers for the sake of flowers are entirely "allowed". But this year I'm putting my foot down - I'm having flowers just to look at and enjoy. They will however bring bees and other predators into the garden so maybe I can get away with it. To this end I have already planted daisies, jump-up-jacks, polyanthus, pansies, primulas and marigolds. I had alreay planted a chinese lantern shrub and white heliotrope. I need to go back to the nursery and part with more money because I've decided that there is still room for more flowers.

Oh, and I have found my singing voice again. Sometime at the end of last year it decided to go. Well, not literally, I could sing but my feelings of joy in doing so had completely vanished and I was beginning to wonder if they would ever return. But here is the sun and after some deep work on old hurts, I feel a toxic cloud has lifted. Having found a new path on which to set my musical feet I am singing again along with the birds who seem to echo my enthusiasm for this season of renewal (If for a somewhat different reason - wink, wink).

Even though it may seem an odd time of the year to begin knitting - that's exactly what I'm doing. While staying with her over the holidays Mum and I went through all her patterns looking for the woollen cape I know she has...somewhere. We didn't find it but I did discover a book by Liz Gemmell called Knitting for your Home which has patterns for knitted floor rugs. We have a sofa - the original fabric is torn (I mean to recover it some day when I'm feeling more courageous about my ability) so we threw a loose cover over it and now with all the rough treatment from the two boys that in turn has torn on the seat part. At the moment I have placed a cot blanket crocheted by Mum for Little Tree but... and now comes the point I'm trying to make - I have taken a pattern from the book and am in the process of knitting up squares that will eventually be sown together and used as a throw. Here is a photo of the first three squares and the fourth in progress. No, unfortunately it is not wool. For ease of washing I have chosen acrylic yarn.