Just Keep Swimming

This post is a belated celebration but one that I need to share. I am aware that I don’t share a great deal of Wrigglers achievements but believe me there are many and a day doesn’t pass in which he fails to make us proud.

Wriggler has always been somewhat afraid of the water. Don’t get me wrong he likes being in the bath and paddling in the shallow water at the pool or the seaside but anything more than that is out of the question. He wouldn’t even put his face in the water and refused to take his feet off the floor despite me or his Daddy holding onto him for dear life.

Me and hubby have tried all sorts to get him to go to swimming lessons but it’s always been a non starter. I longed for him to be safe in or near water and its something that’s always played on my mind. Come year 4 at school though and swimming is part of the curriculum now.

Wriggler made it clear he didn’t want to do them. I knew that I didn’t have to make him go and that I didn’t have to sign the authority but I knew this would be good for him. I felt sure it was the right decision. Boy did he pull on every heart string to make me change my mind. The night before the first lesson he was terrified. He cried and shook in our arms about it. He was worried he’d be on his own in the shallow end because his friends could swim. Despite reassuring him that there would be many of his friends at his level though, he was scared to death about the water. We and his teacher the following morning reassured him all we could, but I still left him in tears that day.

Over the weeks though he started to enjoy it and he loved coming home to tell us about his new abilities in the water. The night before apprehension slowly began to disappear.

A full school term later and his enthusiasm for swimming is now off the scale. Whilst he doesn’t yet swim without arm bands or any great length for that matter, none of that matters. In the New Year he was awarded his Confidence Award. Something that a year ago I would never have envisaged. He well and truly deserves this accolade after all the hard work he has put in. Whilst private lessons are still off the cards, we are working on that. I don’t care if it takes him another eight years to swim properly. That fact that he is no longer afraid of the water is a small step and an amazing achievement! I could not be any prouder of him.

Well done Wriggler.

~

swimming

The Best Things In Life Are Free…

I’m writing this with an empty heart, I’m all on my own having just spent a lovely half term week with boys. Back to reality with a bang!

Last weekend though, I had such great plans for us but as usual, it being only weeks since Christmas, finances dictated and ruled. That was okay though as the boys were quite happy to chill and take each day as it came.

We mined. Lots! I’m sure I’m not the only one whose little people are into Minecraft… *whispers* well so am I 😀  We all join the same game and work together and then fight over the only diamond sword we manage to make, Bruiser usually gets it though, he steals it from our chests while me and Wriggler are mining. It’s actually quite amusing, he waits till we are down in our mines and then you can see his gamertag move across the top of your screen as he makes his way to our house on the surface and then its a race against time to get out of our mines and up back to our houses to stop him!

The boys love spending time with their uncle, he’s really down with the boys these days, he even has Minecraft too now and had a lesson from the boys! In the morning though we all went with him and Zeus the family dog to the woods. It was nice to blow away the cobwebs out in the sticks, quite literally! It was good for the boys too to challenge themselves on the near vertical muddly slippy hills that took no prisoners. We made it all in one piece though even if it was with mud up to our ear lobes!

We lost hours in ‘their world’ the lego, ninja, space, make-believe pirate adventures that are something else let me tell you. Everything gets mingled together. Wriggler has quite the imagination, Bruiser goes with the flow. The remnants of those escapades are still littered around the house which makes me realise I really should start tidying up, ha! Maybe tomorrow 😉

The boys spent some quality time with their Daddy over the weekend too while I escaped with a lovely friend; lunching, hand bag shopping and cinema going (yes I have a social life!). He took them on a bike ride up the Trans Pennine Trail. They love it down there.

the best things in life are free

In between all that, we’ve partied, we’ve visited Great Nan, a much-loved Aunt, the boys delivered their valentines gifts, cuddled, crafted, giggled and generally had lots of family fun.

At the end of any time together we always ask the boys what they’ve enjoyed the most. Sunday night while having cartoons and a cuddle before bed we asked them what their favourite bit of the week was. Bruiser enjoyed the bike ride most. Wriggler gave us his top three; no.3 the walk in the woods, no.2 the bike ride down the TPT and no.1 spending time together!!

It brought tears to our eyes. There was me feeling guilty that we hadn’t done much, or gone very far but the reality is; it’s not about what you spend on them, it’s about the time you spend with them that means the most.

Five weeks and counting to our next school holidays…..

 

Back To School

It’s been that week of the year again. Back to school for the kiddie winks or the start of a new schooling journey. This year Wriggler started year4, YEAR 4 (*holds head in hands*)!!! and Bruiser was starting full-time school a fresh in reception (*sobs uncontrollably in hands*).

All I wanted was a photo of them both. You know the drill.. stood together in their clean crisp uniforms, smiling away into the camera. How hard could that be?

Between all the blurred body parts, close up faces in camera, bottoms up and backs turned, even Wriggler holding Bruiser in a head lock, there was one common denominator, Wriggler smiling away facing the camera in the back ground. When I finally captured Bruiser stood still, he was deliberately stood directly in front of Wriggler, turning away from the camera and refusing to smile. Wriggler giggling away behind him.

Whilst it isn’t what I was hoping for, it perfectly summed up our morning and my boys in a nutshell. When I look closely, I can actually see the deliberate defiance in Bruisers face!! He really does take stubborn to a whole new level. 😀

I can’t not love this photo.

back to school

 

A Letter To Bruiser

Dear Bruiser

Today is your first day at school. Your Reception year and full-time school. You looked so smart and grown up in your uniform this morning. You were buzzing with excitement and you couldn’t wait to leave the house. I couldn’t even get a picture of you stood still.

While you enjoy your first morning with your new teacher, im home thinking about you, wondering what you will doing, wondering what you will be learning about. Gone are our days together where we would play, cuddle, watch cartoons, have playdates, take afternoon naps. Gone are our days filled with giggles, trips to the park and baby groups.

Me and Daddy and Wriggler are soooooo incredibly proud of you and what you have achieved in your little life already. The obstacles you have over come. The battles you have fought. Because there was once a time when we never thought this day would come. You were only 5 hours old when the Doctors told us to let you go. But we weren’t ready to let you have wings and I don’t think you wanted them either. We fought for you then and we still fight for you today. Its been the fight of our lives but just look at you now….

You learnt to crawl;

crawling

You learnt to walk;

You learnt to wave;

You learnt to talk, your first word was ‘Mam mam’. It was awful when you stopped talking. Overtime though you learnt to communicate using Makaton and that gave you a voice, until you found your voice…

Ryan signing to bath

Bruiser signing to bath

then, you learnt to talk, AGAIN!! Because you really are that amazing!!

You started nursery;

started nursery

With the help from your amazing big brother Wriggler, you learnt to play and imagine;

play

You learnt to ride a bike;

As we made our journey together through the autism diagnosis process, something that we were beginning to think would never happen, you made a friend. A best friend. A partner in crime. A friend forever. Your ‘Avaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

best friends

~

And here you are now on your first day at school…

I’m glad you didn’t cry this morning. You made it so much easier for me. But it broke my heart anyway. It was the start of a whole new chapter in your life. You are no longer a baby, a toddler, or even a preschooler. You’re a little boy now and you’re ready to go find your place in this world!

I’m going to miss you my baby.

Love Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxx

Pizza Party Carnivale

It’s not very often I accept offers to review things. I get a few a month but unless they’re in-keeping with my blog and what our family do/like then I usually decline them. I was thrilled though when I was contacted and asked if would we would like to throw a Pizza Party with a view to trying and reviewing the new Carnivale Range at Dominos.

Saturday nights for us are predominately family nights. The boys have a stop up and we usually have an takeaway (Indian / KFC or chippy) tea in the room and watch a film together. So a Pizza Party was right up our street!

The Carnivale Range is Brazilian themed pizza’s and sides which were originally brought out to coincide with and celebrate the World Cup back in June.

Our party pack arrived a few days before hand and this included themed plates, cups, napkins, a banner…

pizza party

and stick on moustaches…

pizza party

The moustaches got the boys very excited and I have to admit, it was a good laugh to get in character and have some fun with them.

pizza party

The online ordering process was quick and simple. We could even select which pizza toppings we did or didn’t want and/or replace them with an alternative. When the order was complete, I received an email with a link to track our order online.

pizza party

You would never have guessed that only 4 of us were eating would you haha!

We ordered, the new Carnivale; Rio Pizza, Fiesta Pizza and some Fajita wedges. We also ordered some of the usual favourites for the boys; Margarita, Garlic Bread, Chicken Strips, Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and a bottle of Diet Coke.  The food looked absolutely delicious…

pizza party

Top, left to right; Fiesta Pizza, Rio Pizza.  Bottom, left to right; garlic bread, chicken strips, fajita wedges

… and indeed it tasted it too 🙂

pizza party

pizza party

Glued to the Box! 🙂

 

pizza party

Rio Pizza… NomNomNom

 

The Fiesta pizza was simply divine (Red Onions, Green and Red Peppers, Chicken Breast Strips, Fajita Seasoning, Mojito Style Dressing). It was spicy enough to leave your mouth tingling but the Mojito sauce drizzled on it cooled and soothed the tingling.

My personal favourite was the Rio pizza (Red Onions, Green and Red Pepper, Chipotle Sauce, Pulled Barbacoa Beef) but, I think it could have done with a more of the pulled beef on it.

(Jeepers, my mouth is watering just typing this!)

Now Wriggler, he doesn’t usually move away from the traditional margarita pizza but he did enjoy the Fajita Wedges which weren’t too strongly flavoured and also the chicken strips. (unfortunately Domino’s failed to provide the tangy salsa dip).

Bruiser isn’t a finger food fan and most people who read and follow my blog will know this. When I was originally contacted to do the review, reference was made to this but they hoped he might like something from the sweet treats. Bruiser though actually enjoyed some of the chicken strips, he tried one Fajita Wedge and then absolutely demolished the Chocolate Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies… It’s safe to say that they passed the taste test with flying colours!!

pizza party

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed all that we ate. The Carnivale pizza’s tasted AMAZBALLS. Wriggler said his favourite part of the party was the moustaches (he has always loved dressing up so that doesn’t surprise me) and Bruiser said favourite bit was the biscuits (go figure!!)!!

~

You can try the Carnivale range for yourself before it finishes by going to your local Dominos or by ordering online at www.dominos.co.uk. If you visit their Blog, there are vouchers to use exclusively online. You can also order direct via their app which you can download for free for the iPhone, iPad and android!

~

**Disclaimer**

We were provided with a Dominos Carnivale Pizza Party in return for this honest review.

We have received no other form of financial compensation and all opinions expressed are entirely our own*

 

 

Makaton Monday ~ Teacher

I love this sign. I’ve been using it for what seems like ages now but Bruiser never has. Whilst preparing him for School over the summer it was one of the signs we showed him and he did do it back to us to show that he could and that he understood but, he never used it spontaneously.

During a walk home from school last week, one of the practitioners from his  old nursery walked past us and said hello to Bruiser and asked how he was enjoying his new school. As we walked away he turned to me and signed ‘teacher old school’ perfectly. Since that moment on he’s used it every day when sharing what he has done at school that morning.

I originally blogged this post back in September, last year. Since then though, role play have become a big part of Bruisers play therapy. Although me and Wriggler have played schools, last week was the first time that Bruiser had wanted to join in and he asked Wriggler to play teachers with him. He was quite happy to sit back and let his brother be the teacher. But one evening he asked me to play with him and he wanted to be the teacher. It was lovely to share that moment with him, as brief as it was. Bruiser read his new book to me and the ‘class’. (the way he crossed his leg did make me chuckle though and subsequently, he put me on time-out!)

~

TEACHER

TEACHER

~

Bruiser signing and saying 'Teacher'

Bruiser signing and saying ‘Teacher’ (back in sept 2013)

~

Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

All In A Wee…ks Work

Toilet training isn’t easy for any child or their parents. Most children take it in their stride though and slowly but surely they get there. Toilet training a child with special needs and sensory issues that is more than likely on the ASD spectrum is a whole different ball game and a challenge we were not prepared for.

When Wriggler did his first wee on a potty he was 2yrs and 9mths. Before we knew it, he was dry day and night within two weeks without any accidents. We took exactly the same approach with Bruiser, he will do it when HE is good and ready and not before!

Last year in the lead up to the summer holidays though, I was starting to feel the pressure; from school and other people. ‘Oh he really should be out of nappies when he starts school’ ‘You arent being pro-active enough’ ‘just go for it, he’ll never learn unless you go for it’ ‘let him wet himself, they don’t like wetting themselves’ blah.. blah.. blah..

But after a while (regrettably) I started to take this to heart and so against my principles of ‘he will do when he’s ready’, I attempted to start him toileting.

He really wasnt ready though. Yes he did his first wee on the potty and the toilet and this was quite a novelty for him (and me, I still love the picture of his cheeky little bottom peeking out of his trousers as he stood up to the toilet). But he wasnt ready in his head to do it. I tried jumping him in at the deep end and taking him to school in pants with loads of clothes to change into etc (like people told me to do). He really didn’t like getting wet when he had an accident, this was a big issue. Being wet is a sensory issue for Bruiser generally, he wont even touch the sink in the bathroom if there are water droplets on it, he has to wear gloves when it rains. All this added pressure was making him anxious and upset and very unhappy. He was starting to show signs of regression across the board, so I stopped it all. We went back to pull ups. No more pressure. He was happy again. That was it, no more listening to everyone else, we (hubby and myself) know our child best and we went back to our principles of letting him do it in his own time when he was ready!

Since we tried the toileting last year though, Bruiser has very occasionally used the potty or the toilet. More so when he was with Wriggler as he wanted to copy him but he had a lot of accidents. Then very out of the blue two weeks ago he was playing away in the kitchen and he started to do a wee but stopped himself. He then waddled up to the toilet with his trousers and pull ups around his ankles and finished his wee on the toilet. He was so proud of himself and I gave him a big high-five and LOTS of praise. I do believe now that that was the turning point. That was where it clicked. He continued to use the toilet/potty lots during the days that followed and occasionally even wore big boy pants.

After a few days of on/off success, last Monday I asked him if he wanted to wear big boy pants for school, there was no pressure, it was his call. He said yes. Off he went that morning with three changes of clothes in his bag. He came back with the same clothes in his bag and the same little pants on his bottom! He had achieved his first half day dry. It got even better that afternoon and evening. He had completed his first full day. No accidents or near misses. Another first 🙂

Tuesday morning he went to school just the same. He showed me the sticker chart on the wall that his key worker had made with him Monday. He proudly showed me the stickers he had earned the day previously.

He started to fetch his chart home with him after each morning to show me and his Daddy and Wriggler what he had done. He was very proud of himself and kept saying ‘me like Wriggler now’.

Tuesday afternoon he asked for a nappy though. *whispers… he wanted a no2* He was refusing to let it go in the potty or toilet. This wasnt unusual, he refused to let them go anyway. Passing his no2’s has always been an issue for Bruiser. He would hold to them, tensing himself up walking around doing his ‘poo dance’ as we called it, refusing to letit go. For almost a year we thought he was constipated but as it turned out (for reasons made clear by his OT only very recently) he was refusing to let go and was intentionally holding it in. It was one hell of an afternoon which resulted in a meltdown so bad that he fell asleep on me while I restrained him. Once that was over though, he was back in his pants and back on the toileting mission. I made a huge deal that he had done his no2 in his nappy though and gave him an extra star stamp for it.

all in a wee...ks work

The week continued to go great. He was still dry and still hadn’t had any accidents. Thursday afternoon I was washing pots in the kitchen when I heard Bruiser shout from upstairs (I thought he was in the room watching Octonauts!!) ‘Mumeee I done a big pooooooooooo on my potteeeeeeee’. I ran up the stairs saying you’ve done what? and he was there proudly stood over the potty pointing at it and signing that he had done it!! After lots and lots of praise and high-fives, I put him an extra two star stamps on his chart. Another first, his second of the week! He was making more progress than I ever imagined or dare hope for.

On Friday, Bruiser was awarded Star of the Week for his efforts and his increased independence at school.

all in a wee...ks work

He was over the moon with himself and more so, because he got to fetch Freddie home for the weekend. (Freddie is an empathy doll which accompanies every ‘star of the week’ home for the weekend)

By Sunday evening he had completed his first full week. He had one small accident when he couldn’t get his trousers down quick enough and although he was upset with himself he did get over it really well.

This was it, there was no going back now. He’d made it. He had accomplished more than what we set out for him to do. He was dry and clean through the day, he was dry and clean through the night and he had willingly without any hesitation done his no2’s in the potty too!

He had a wonderful weekend celebrating his efforts with Freddie and even Freddie is now toilet trained 😉

all in a wee...ks work

~

This week is currently going fantastic too. He has carried on exactly where last week finished.

We as a family are so proud of Bruiser and what he has accomplished. It hasn’t been easy for him and it really has been baby steps all the way but when he was ready, boy was he ready and he did it in probably record time!

Around the Tree, Around the Tree, Makes Number 3!

Bruiser LOVES his numbers. He is obsessed with numbers. From a very early age he could count from 1 to 10. He’s literally only just four but, he can count past 100. He knows his 10 times table. He can do simple math like 1+2, 3+2 etc. Using numbers is a sure way to get his instant attention and keep his attention. Mentioning numbers can even halt a meltdown mid-scream!!

Writing numbers however, is a whole new ball game. He has only recently started making meaningful marks with a pen and paper. A few weeks back though he took me surprise when we were playing with a chalk and attempting to write his letters which he has been learning at school. Trying to make a S, he made a mark that resembled a 3 which prompted him to want to do his numbers. Now we have practiced writing his number lots of times but he’s never really got it quite right and always got very frustrated with himself.

I’m going to let this video that I was lucky enough to capture do the rest of the talking.

ps. check out Bruisers talking too!! 😀 *does victory dance*

It just goes to show that time and patience while taking those small steps leads to amazing achievements and this is one of them.

~

Ethans Escapades

Makaton Monday ~ How Many (Sleeps)?

Its time of year again and I can well imagine that most children have asked THE question by now… How many sleeps is it till Christmas?

I have to admit that we’ve been in countdown for lasts few months! Wriggler gets soooooo excited and has done since he was Bruisers age (3). Bruiser on the other hand doesn’t really realise whats happening yet (we don’t think). We keep talking about it and mentioning that is Christmas soon. When he has seen toys in the shops and asks to take them home, we tell him we will put them on his christmas list. He’s shown his understanding of this very recently, we he sees toys he likes now, he says ‘me det it mismas?’.

Christmas preparations are taking place at school too, we’ve recently had a letter saying that Bruiser is going to be a sheep in his nativity. That I cannot wait to see 😀

Todays sign is relatively new to Bruiser. Although its one we use a lot when we are counting with him. It’s not one we have seen him use as yet. I hope that in the coming weeks with Wriggler now using it too, he will use it himself. He copies everything Wriggler does, and Wriggler asks EVERY DAY how many sleeps it is to christmas.

The question I have for the Makaton Charity is; which sign would be the most appropriate to use for ‘sleeps’? ‘To Sleep’ ‘Day’ ‘Night’ or is there another sign?

~

HOW MANY

HOW MANY

~

Bruiser signing 'How Many'

Bruiser signing ‘How Many’

~

Looking for some Christmas Signs? Visit the Makaton website where you can find all the Christmas Vocabulary and more, including The First Christmas Story and Christmas Cards.

~

Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

Baking our Christmas Cake

The other week me, Wriggler and Bruiser baked this years Christmas cake. This was the second time id baked the cake. In previous years, my Mum had always took great pleasure in baking us our yearly christmas cake but. last year I decided that I would use my Mums Christmas Cake recipe and give it a go for myself. It was a great success.

This year I wanted to get the boys involved just like my Mum did with me and my Brothers when we were children.

Both Wriggler and Bruiser love to bake and help cook so it didn’t surprise me that they were both very eager to get stuck in. In fact they took over, I barely got chance to do any of it myself!

~

First of all we got the butter and sugar creamed together. Then the boys took turns to add a little spiced flour then a little egg and other liquid ingredients until they were all mixed in.

Bruiser got stuck in scraping the mixture from the sides of the bowl (taking great care not to get even a tiny bit of mixture on his fingers) before they added the fruit, one spoonful at a time;

Once all the ingredients were added, it was time to each give the mixture a hand-stir while we made our christmas wishes. This was a tradition that my Mum always did. Id always thought it was a lovely idea so this year for the first time we did it too. 

That was it, the mixture was added to the cake tin and left to slowly bake in the oven…. All that was left was to well, clean the utensils 😉

20131120-131503.jpg

While the cake matures in the coming weeks, we just need to decide how we want to decorate the cake. Last year we did Snowmen and a Christmas Tree. But, this year Wriggler has some great ideas, so watch this space!

~

Makaton Monday ~ Wind

What a great sign for today!! Bruiser gave me the idea yesterday when we took the boys to see my Dad. We were talking about the storm that was forecast and Bruiser joined in and started signing wind.

It’s probably a good thing that it is in fact the school holidays today and Bruiser doesn’t have to go outside. He doesn’t like the wind at all. He dislikes like the feel of it on his face, he hates the sound it makes on his ears. He can’t even bare to have to the windows open when you are travelling in the car for the same reasons. He screams at you ‘tooo indee mumee, tooo indee’ (too windy mummy, too windy).

So today we’ll be watching the elements on the TV from the comfort of our room. We appear to have gotten away with the brunt of the storm. There isn’t much to see from the window. It’s quite calm here, just very wet! The boys, Wriggler especially are quite concerned about the people who live down south. I don’t think they’ve ever seen trees been ripped out of the ground, or power lines down leaving homes without electric. They are in awe of the images of the sea battering the coast with huge waves while they get their head round wind speeds going faster than cars can go on the motorway! 😀

Hope you are all warm, dry and safe!

~

WIND

WIND

~

Bruiser signing 'Wind'

Bruiser signing and saying ‘Indee’ (Windy)

~

Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Tree

Last week I went to watch my little Bruiser take part in his first ever Harvest Festival at pre-school.

I knew when Bruiser started pointing out the colours of the leaves on the trees and saying ‘datum’ (Autumn) that they must have been preparing for it at school. I can remember so fondly when Wriggler was at this stage only a few years ago, he was coming home singing all the songs like ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Big Red Combine Harvester’. But, I knew I wasnt going to get that with Bruiser as he doesn’t sing. He likes singing and signing his favorite nursery rhymes but only as part of a sing-song session, he doesn’t do it randomly when he’s playing or anything like what Wriggler did. Completely out of the blue though about two weeks ago he was driving his toy car up the cupboards in the kitchen and he quietly sang ‘eve fawin down eve fawin down’ (leaves falling down leaves falling down), I knew straight away what he’d said, it was a line from the song Autumn Leaves. It melted my heart, I never thought id hear him sing like that. I asked him to sing it again for me but he refused and signed that he wasnt singing.

When I spoke with his teacher about it she advised that they were indeed singing Autumn Leaves and Bruiser had been showing them the signs for the colours red, brown, yellow, orange and green. They were planning to incorporate the signs into the song. Bruiser was going to be the tree.

Although Bruiser refused to sing again at home, me and Wriggler practiced the songs with him hoping that he would, Wriggler did manage to get him singing and signing the chorus to Big Red Combine Harvester 🙂

Watching him take part in the Harvest Festival was quite emotional. He saw me and his Daddy in the audience but he refused to acknowledge us or wave and didn’t seem even slightly excited that we were there. Whilst thats not unusual, I think he was overwhelmed by all the parents watching. He did do some signing and singing during some of the performance. It was lovely to see the whole class signing away to the songs though. It was great that they had incorporated the signs and made Bruiser feel involved. I know that Bruiser enjoyed it thoroughly because he couldnt stop talking about it when we got home.

~

Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

~

TREE

TREE

~

Bruiser signing 'Tree'

Bruiser signing ‘Tree’

~

Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

  • You can download some Harvest Festival signs from the Makaton website by following this link

~

Linking  up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements and #MagicMoments

Ethans Escapades

I Wee’d On A Stick & My Life Changed Forever

It started with a wee

It started with a wee

Today marks the eight year anniversary of when I found out that I was expecting my little Wriggler and yet it still feels like it was only yesterday!

Finding out was a MASSIVE shock! So much so that I lived in denial that it was even happening at all for 3 weeks after missing my period. It was my rapidly blooming bussom that made me do a test and make an appointment with the midwife! Taking that test was nerve-wracking, I was shaking uncontrollably. I knew what it was going to say and I’d never been so scared in my life. Both myself and Hubby were both in silent shock for days after. All of a sudden our planned future was no longer written and we were making it up as we went along!

It was easy to remember my dates, the pregnancy dated from my 26th birthday. I worked out that our baby would be due on the 4th June!

Once the initial shock had gone, I was over the moon and bursting at the seams to tell everyone. My Mum was the first to know and then we told our immediate family but that was it, no one else until we’d had the 12week scan and knew all was well.

The day of the first scan came around very quickly. By this point though all pregnancy symptoms had gone and I was beginning to think that the sonographer was going to tell me there wasnt a baby in there! But my baby was there alright, all 5.8cm of him and he didnt stop wriggling through the whole scan, the sonographer struggled to measure him! My dates changed slightly and my new EDD was the 2nd June.

I wee'd on a stick

Wriggler at 12+2… all 5.8cm of him!

I was sporting a very slight bump at the first scan, but after this point it just took off. I carried my baby all on the front. In the run up to the 20 week scan I was convinced that I was carrying a boy. I think in part it was the fact that I wanted a boy so very much, I’d convinced myself that my baby couldn’t be anything else.

The 20 week scan went fine though and all was well. However, I went into the room not wanting to know what we were having wanting the surprise on the day when our baby arrived. Hubby did want to know but had agreed that we wouldn’t find out. During the scan though, looking at our baby on the little screen, I suddenly had this overwhelming urge to find out and given that it was Hubby’s birthday that day, I knew it would be a lovely surprise for him too. It was confirmed, Wriggler was a boy!

I wee'd on a stick

Wriggler, my baby Boy at 20 weeks

My bump was getting bigger and bigger every day now. Every morning Hubby would say ‘oh my god, youre even bigger than last night!!’ Regrettably I didn’t capture the bump shots like i did with Bruiser. It didn’t occur to me to do it, that and we didn’t have a camera and camera phones were only just emerging back then! I did capture a bump shot at 30 weeks though (with my new camera phone). Any other bump pictures were courtesy of Hubby.

30 week Bump

30 week Bump

I wee'd on a stick

Bump at approximately 8 months

Bump at 38+4, the day before he was born (you can see the tens machine in my hand)

Bump at 38+4, taken while in labour, the day before he was born (that’s the tens machine in my left hand ha, id been in labour 28hours at this point)

After the 2nd scan though, I wanted to much to see my baby again. I knew that I just couldnt wait another 20weeks to meet him. Id read about 3/4D scans and seen pictures but never thought I’d be able to afford one. After a little research though I found a place very local to us that did them and they were affordable. I secretly booked an appointment for one and saved some money up, my Mum made up the rest.

It was the best decision I made because the whole experience was AMAZING! That moment when our little boys face appeared on the huge screen on the wall was so emotional. He had a little button nose and was sucking on the umbilical cord with his face nustled upto the placenta. He was fast asleep. The sonographer decided to wake him up so we could get a better look at him, he didn’t like this much at all. But he did become more animated and opened his eyes. He soon settled again though and went back to sleep exactly as we found him!

Wriggler yawning

Meet Wriggler at 29 weeks

Wriggler opened his eyes during the scan

Wriggler asleep

Wriggler didn’t change one bit from this scan at 29weeks and birth!

1 Day Old

1 Day Old

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So there you have it, neither of my boys were planned. But you know what, I just think it makes them all the more special because they were meant to be!

Linking up with Magic Moments

Makaton Monday ~ Friend

Bruiser is really enjoying school, FACT!! He does take some time to separate from me and this gets him rather distressed some days but he’s getting better. He’s got a favorite adult he likes to go to now and she is just brilliant with him.

His teacher tells me he is doing really well too. He signs lots and his verbal communication is coming along great and he’s doing  lots of talking. This is great for Bruiser, he obviously feels confident enough to sign and talk with the adults in his setting even so early on.

I remember seeing the look on the practitioners face in the last TAC meeting we had when we discussed his transition into pre-school when she discovered his ‘signabulary’ consisted of over 500 signs!! She was Makaton trained but felt that she was going to need to brush up on it over the summer ready to work with him. Whatever preparation they did at their end though to help Bruiser’s transition it’s worked very well!

Bruiser has even started to make a few friends. I say friends ‘hesitantly’ because these aren’t go to children that he instantly just got along with. Bruiser doesn’t interact like that. Whilst he does occasionally play alongside other children in pre-school, it’s a couple of children on the walk home that he is slowly building little friendships with.  It took a few weeks, but they now ride their scooters together, they play hide and seek in the cemetery, they run around together. He doesnt really talk to them yet but, you can see that he wants to, you can see it in his face and his body language. I’m hoping that as his confidence around other children grows his ability to interact with them will too. One step at a time though!

Last week after we’d left his friends and made our way to our house, he turned to me and signed that they were his friends.  It was someting that I never expected to hear him say, it brough tears to my eyes.

~

FRIEND

FRIEND

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Bruiser signing 'Friend'

Bruiser signing ‘Friend’

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

Star Of The Week

We are only three and a half weeks into the new school year. I’ve mentioned before that Bruiser has started pre-school. It’s not been plain sailing for him, whilst he was initially excited about starting school and his first week went really well all things considered, the novelty has well and truly gone now. The reality that he has to go every day has not been a happy thought for him. Every morning he’s said ‘me day ome mumee’. He’s struggled to part from me in a morning, he’s cried, he’s screamed, he’s been angry and he’s even refused to get dressed or walk to school some mornings. That said, he has still enjoyed himself once he was there and the separation was over.

I have to admit though that biggest thing that concerned me about him starting pre-school was communication. Bruiser doesn’t communicate when he doesn’t feel confident in his surroundings or when around strangers and for him all those new children and the staff were strangers to him. He’d briefly seen the staff before the summer during his transition process but that was a while ago for Bruiser. By the end of his first week though his teacher reported that he was doing great, he was signing lots with the staff. It was a great relief to hear that, he was feeling confident enough to sign, so that was a great start. Bruiser was happy which means Mummy was happy!

Each week that has passed i’ve had great reports of him signing, he’s even showed them the colour signs of red, orange, yellow and brown to incorporate into their Harvest Festival songs. His teacher has also reported that hes been doing some great talking too! This is Huge for Bruiser. His talking has exploded over recent weeks, more so since the start of the summer holidays. But, I didn’t expect him to be talking so much in school just yet though. He never ceases to amaze me.

This week, Bruiser was awarded Star of the Day and Week for using… LOTS of words and doing LOTS of TALKING!!! He came out of his class beaming from ear to ear proudly holding his certificate and Freddie. (Freddie is a doll that the children get to bring home when they are ‘star of the day or week’, he comes with clothes to dress him and a diary for us to write a short paragraph of what they’ve been doing together.)

Everyone has always commented about Bruiser’s signing, how much he knows, how good he is etc but, now he’s getting recognition for his talking! Slowly and surely he’s getting there. I could not be more proud of him.

star of the day

They say a picture can speak a thousand words…. this is one of them!

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Spiderman Birthday Cake

Wrigglers 7th Birthday Cake

This was my second attempt at a themed birthday cake. Previously I had done Wriggler a Thundercats Cake. This year he wanted Spiderman!

spiderman cake

… and this is how I did it!

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What I used
3x 250g of Red Royal Icing
1x 250g of Black Royal Icing
Icing Smoother
Black Food Colouring
1 Medium Egg
Icing Syringe
Icing Sugar
Tape Measure
( I use the wonderful Lakeland for all my cake decoration needs. Its one of my favorite shops!)

~

Wriggler loves ginger, so I baked him a lovely triple layer Ginger Sponge Cake using this recipe.

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I started off by trimming the three sponge layers, levelling them off and removing any bumps. I then trimmed the circumference of the cake to give a flat surface for the icing.

Next I prepared the butter cream for the middle of the cake using; 6oz of icing sugar mixed with 3oz of butter. I gradually creamed them together until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I covered one layer of the sponge with jam and the second with some of the butter cream.

Next it was time to prepare to ice the cake.

Firstly I covered the cake with a layer of the remaining butter cream. This helps the icing adhere to the cake and gives you a little room to move the icing slightly if it isn’t quite on right and it also helps keep the sponge moist.

I then rolled and molded the three red blocks of icing together in my hands, warming up the icing to make it more pliable. I lightly dusted the work surface with icing sugar to stop it sticking to the surface. I rolled out the icing into a circle big enough to cover the cake top sides and onto the cake board. (use a tape measure to measure the size you need) I needed 14 inch.

When you are ready; taking lots of care, use the rolling-pin to lift the icing and roll it onto the cake.

I made sure the icing was pretty much central, then using the my fingers and the palm of my hand I smoothed down the icing on the top. For the sides of the cake, I lifted away the icing with my right hand while using my left hand to smooth the icing to the sides of the cake. This bit can be quite tricky, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I trimmed off the remaining icing that wasnt required. Then using a cake smoother, I smoothed the icing in circular motions on top and around the sides. This gives it a smoother more professional finish  than using fingers alone.

Before I went any further I had a good wipe up of any left over butter cream, dusted icing sugar and generally cleaned my work space. I used a damp cloth on the cake board. The cake at this point was looking a little dusted with icing sugar so I used a baking brush and gave it a little coat of water all over. This brightened up the icing back to brilliant red.

I left the cake to one side while I prepared the icing to pipe onto the cake. I was going for a silvery colour for the web. I made the icing using; 375g icing sugar, 2 tea spoons of black food colouring and the egg white of one medium-sized egg. I mixed them together well using a spatula to get a light pliable consistency. I knew it was right when I could make spikes in the icing and they held.

I practiced lots on the work surface. This gives you an idea of how you need to hold the icing syringe or piping bag and the amount of pressure needed to keep the piping fluid.

Using a tape measure, i found the centre of the cake and made a little mark and then proceeded to mark on the cake where i wanted the web to go. I made marks at (pretending it was a clock) 12, 3, 6, 9 then 1.5, 4.5, 7.5, and finally 10.5. I then piped the icing following these markers one at a time. I did all the top web lines first then proceeded to pipe down the sides of the cake (this was very tricky) I practiced on a cake tin for this bit.

When the main outline of the web was done, I then filled it in taking care and not rushing.

Using a different nozzle on the icing syringe, I then piped ‘Happy Birthday Spiderman’ around the edge of the cake board. Again I practiced using different nozzle heads to find the best one for what I wanted.

For the huge spider in the centre of the cake, I found an image off the internet and printed it out and cut out the spider.

spiderman cake

I then rolled and played with the black icing in my hands to make it pliable as before with the red. I rolled it out over a dusting of icing sugar on a piece of grease-proof paper.

I placed the paper spider over the top of the icing and rolled over it with the rolling-pin. This then left an imprint in the icing of the spider. I cut out the spider from the icing using a very sharp knife, taking care to remove the left over icing bit by bit.

When the spider is cut out, I trimmed the grease-proof paper down so I could hold it im my hand. I then slowly slid the icing spider off the paper onto the cake taking care to place it exactly where I wanted it as there isn’t room for much movement when it was on. I positioned the spider legs where I wanted them and the smoothed the spider off generally using my fingers to give it rounded looked as opposed to ‘just cut out of icing look’ 🙂

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of this bit (I get carried away sometimes)! However you can see how I did the Cat logo for the Thundercats Cake by following this link. What I did for the cat logo is pretty much the same as the spider.

As I did with the red icing, I used a small brush to paint water onto the spider to give it none dusted in icing sugar look and a bright black glossy finish. It really made it stand out from the cake.

Ta-da!!

Ta-da!!

What do you do with all the left over icing you ask? Make cake buns for classmates or the party each decorated with a little web or spider.

spiderman buns

~

My little Wriggler had a Spiderific Birthday and the cake and buns went down brilliantly!

spiderman cake

Bruiser’s Started Pre-School

Where exactly did the summer holidays go? More to the point, where exactly did the last three and half years go?

I had the most wonderful six weeks with my boys. I love having them both at home with me. I miss Wriggler terribly when he’s at school and each school holiday is a constant reminder of just how much. I was also quite conscious that this was the last time id have Bruiser at home until half term in October. I really did not want it to end.

During the holidays, we spent a lot of quality time preparing Bruiser for the transition to pre-school. We looked through his transition booklet (this was a collection of photos taken by his previous key worker in nursery of the pre-school rooms, equipment and staff), we bought him his school bag, we got him trying on his uniform, we taught him the relevant Makaton signs he would need. Bruiser was really excited and looking forward to it. He kept saying ‘me go goooo’ (me go school). We did have moments though where he kept saying he didn’t want to go to school and even the night before he told me he wanted to stay home with me and believe me that was a very tempting offer!

That first morning though, he couldn’t contain the excitement when he came downstairs and his school clothes were all laid out waiting for him, he bearly ate his breakfast because he wanted to get dressed. Me on the other hand, I was struggling to hold it together. Id spent a lot of the holidays in denial that this was going to happen at all!

Hubby drove us to school and left us at the gates and the boys walked in together holding hands with smiles beaming across their little faces.

I was so proud of him as I left him in pre-school. He got a little anxious because there was so many people all at once, I think he was feeling overwhelmed. He didn’t want to part from me and he did get a little upset but he happily let me hand him over to his teacher for a cuddle and he waved me and Wriggler good-bye as we left the room.

I have to admit that leaving him there on that first morning was far more emotional than I had anticipated or prepared myself for. Four years ago, when Wriggler started preschool, that was emotional, I was 10 weeks pregnant with Bruiser too so hormones were fueling all the emotions. But I had my Mum there holding my hand whilst I said a tearful good-bye to him. This time It was Wriggler holding my hand and giving it a little squeeze as I said goodbye to Bruiser.

I like to think that my Mum was there, watching over us too.

Thundercats Birthday Cake

What do you think of when you reminisce back to childhood birthdays?…  For Me and my brothers, birthday memories all included an amazing birthday cake that had been made my Mum. They ranged from animal merry-go-rounds, hansel and gretal cottages to butterflies, castles, cars and trains for my brothers. Half of the excitement of our birthdays would be about what cake we would get.

I always knew that one day I would make cakes just the same for my children. But I also knew that I had big boots to fill!

Despite my best intentions in between juggling my children, work and family home life, I never found the time before Wrigglers 6th to actually make one.  My Mum did step in for Wrigglers 2nd Birthday and made him a Roary the Racing Car cake which was just superb.

Roary the Racing Car

However becoming a stay at home Mummy after having Bruiser gave me more time and I decided that it was about time I should make a go of it.

~

Wrigglers 6th Birthday

Birthday cakes for both boys have always centered around their latest fad, be it Roary the Racing Car, Toy Story, Ben 10, SpiderMan to name a few for Wriggler. This year (2012) was no exception, he was mad on Thundercats!!

Thundercats cake

… This is how I did it:

~

What I used:
2x 250g of Red Royal Icing
1x 250g of Black Royal Icing
Icing Smoother
Black Food Colouring
1 Medium Egg
Butter
Icing Syringe
Icing Sugar
Tape Measure
( I use the wonderful Lakeland for all my cake decoration needs. Its one of my favorite shops!)

I made a simple two layer sandwich sponge cake using this recipe the day before.

Firstly, I started off by trimming the sponge layers, levelling them off and removing any bumps and lumps. I then trimmed the circumference of the cake to give a flat surface for the icing.

Next I prepared the butter cream for the middle of the cake; I used, 6oz of icing sugar mixed with 3oz of butter. I gradually creamed them together until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I spread some jam on one of the cake layers and some of the butter cream on the other, then placed the 2nd half on top.

Using some of the remaining butter cream. I spread this all over the cake in a thin even layer. This acts as a great base for the icing and gives the icing a bit of maneuverability when placed on the cake in case it doesn’t quite sit right . It also helps keep the cake moist.

Next I was ready to Ice the cake. I started by rolling and moulding the red blocks of icing together in my hands, warming up the icing makes it more pliable. I lightly dusted the work surface with icing sugar to stop it sticking to the surface. I rolled out the icing into a circle big enough to cover the cake top sides and onto the cake board. (use a tape measure to measure the size you need)

When I was ready, taking lots of care, I used the rolling-pin to lift the icing and roll it onto the cake.

I made sure the icing was pretty much central, then using the my fingers and the palm of my hand I smoothed down the icing on the top. For the sides of the cake, I lifted away the icing with my right hand while using my left hand to smooth the icing to the sides of the cake. This bit can be quite tricky, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I trimmed off the remaining icing that wasnt required. Then using a cake smoother, I smoothed the icing in circular motions on top and around the sides. This gives it a smoother more professional finish  than using fingers alone.

That was the easy part over! I next set about making the Thundercats Logo for the top of the cake! As I discovered, more planning was needed where this was concerned but I did learn from my rookie mistakes so, this is what I now recommend I do in future!

I found a logo image on the internet and printed it. I then cut it out and used it as a stencil. I rolled and played with the black icing in my hands to warm it up and make it pliable as before with the red. I rolled it out over a dusting of icing sugar on a piece of grease-proof paper.

I placed the paper cat face logo over the top of the icing and rolled over it with the rolling-pin. This left an imprint in the icing of the logo. I cut out the logo from the icing using a very sharp knife, taking care to remove the left over icing bit by bit.

When the logo was cut out, I trimmed the grease-proof paper down so I could hold it in my hand. Slowly I slid the icing logo off the paper onto the cake taking care to place it exactly where I wanted it as there isn’t room for much movement once it was on the cake. I used the paper stencil again, I placed it over the icing logo to help me reshape it and reposition any bits that needed it. I used my fingers to smooth it off generally and neaten up any rough edges to give it rounded looked as opposed to ‘just cut out of icing look’.

Once the logo was on the cake, the last bit left to do was make the icing to pipe the edging. This was a first for me! I remember playing with my Mums piping set when I was younger but, never on a cake. I recommend practicing lots on a flat surface. I tried all the different tips to see what I liked and figure out how best to pipe each one. I went with the shell tip in the end and I held the syringe at a 45-degree angle to get the best effect around the cake.

To make the icing to pipe, I used; 375g icing sugar, 2 tea spoons of black food colouring and the egg white of one medium-sized egg. I mixed them together well using a spatula to get a light pliable consistency. If it needs thickening up, add more icing sugar until its right. I didn’t quite get the right consistency for this cake however and after piping the shells they fell a little. I’ve since learnt that when you can make spikes in the icing in the bowl and they hold their shape then its right.

~

Ta-Da!!

Thundercats cake

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No Thundercats Birthday could ever be complete without Eye of Thundera buns! 🙂

thundercats cake

Wriggler had a Thunderific Birthday and he loved his cake and buns 🙂

thundercats cake

Makaton Monday ~ Where

Following on from the success of Makaton Monday last week with Why, I thought I would share another similar sign this week. ‘Where’.

This sign for us was another sign that we needed to know from very early on. For Bruiser although we have used it with him and he clearly understood it very well, it’s quite a new sign for him to actually use.

It is though, the first sign that Bruiser has started using with ‘directionality’. Previously Bruisers signing has always been in front on him which is fine for him and the level he is at but, just recently I thinks he started noticing how I sign with him more and more and he has started using signs in the same way. This is a big step for Bruiser! Its clear now that he is understanding more and more about Makaton as a language and the importance of hand placement and directionality and not just as tool to get his needs met. Together with his emerging vocabulary which is now becoming quite vast (although not very clear) his communication in general is taking off at a phenomenal rate and he is becoming more and more confident using his signing and talking!

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WHERE

WHERE

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Bruiser signing 'Where' (using directionallity)

Bruiser signing ‘Where’ (using directionallity)

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY