Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mike the Knight. A brand New CBeebies Programme coming soon!

Here at Oh Mammy HQ, we have been lucky enough to receive a preview of a brand new CBeebies programme coming to your screens soon. Our littlest one loves the show and has a huge fans of history we adults in this house adore it too.

Mike the Knight is a wonderful new series, galloping on to your screens on the 31st of October at 4.05pm*. This brand new series contains a whopping 52 episodes of glorious Computer Generated animation. It brings the excitement of medieval times to the modern pre-schooler. In each episode, viewers are transported to an action packed world filled with marvellous mission and wonderful characters.

The star of the show Mike is an energetic, cheeky young knight in training, driven by a passion to help others and to be the best knight hecan be. With his father, the King away exploring faraway lands, his mother Queen Martha has put Mike in charge ofhelping her protect their Kingdom of Glendragon.

Determined to do the best job he can, Mike's rallying cry is 'Be a knight, do it right'. Mike learns the power of responsibility and how to do things the right way. With the help of his Big Book for Little Knights and his closest friends, the would-be hero rises to the challenge of each episodes' mission. His friends include Sparkie and Squirt, a pair of friendly dragons and his trusty steed, Galahad. Mike also has a sister, Evie a would-be wizard in training. Evie and Mike combines their talents to combat each new challange.

Each episode is introduced by the resident bard, Fernando who acts as the storyteller. Incredibly funny, his witty ditties begin and end each episode on a humourous note.

This chivarlous series, airing every day next week, is set to send young viewers on an enchanted voyage of discovery.

Mike the Knight is a co-production between HIT Entertainment and Nelvada Studio. The series was created by Alexander Bar (Lunar Jim) and the head writer is Marc Seal (Bob the Builder).

Not to give too much away and spoil the fun, the first episode entitled Mike the Knight and the Smiley Treasure is a great opening episode. Mike thinks that he will be better at guarding a bunchof bananas without the help of his dragon friends. But as the bananas go missing one by one; Mike has to learn that everything is easier when you accept a little help from your friends.

We hope that you will tune in on Monday at 4:05PM and enjoy the series as much as we have.

*This is subject to CBeebies scheduling changes.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Real Life/Virtual Life balancing.

Yeah, I know that most normal people worry about their work/life balance especially for those of us with kids but my virtual/real life balance is off-kilter and will be taking a short break to catch up on things and do those forty million jobs I have left to the last minute. The music meme will be back in a few weeks or so.

A word to the wise: before agreeing to do lots of little jobs for lots of other people, it is probably best to actually think about the time it will take to do all of these jobs combined...

I will sleep sometime in November, I think.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Listography - Top Five Keyword Searches.

I had to break my blogging silence this week to take part in Kate's Listography this week.

For the uninitiated, what Kate is referring to here is a keyword search analysis for your blog. Usually if you publish a blog you can gain access to certain utilities that notify you of who visits your blog, from where, what server and all their technical details such as the resolution of their screen. It's a bit mental and can at times make for interested reading. One of the services that these utilities provide is a list of your top twenty or so keyword searches. I've had some hilarious ones in the past (i.e having sex with your mammy!)but they are usually just one entry within a list of twenty variations on searching Oh Mammy Blog. I thought that, while the kids breakfasted, I'd pop on and look at my top five and this week they are complete crackers!

So here is Oh Mammy's Top Five Keyword Searches for the Week of the 18th of October 2011.


1. Awkward. This has always been my top keyword searches and if I knew how this works then I would tell you why. Nevertheless it directs Googlers to this hilarious post.

2. MY SHIT IS TIGHTER THAN. Capitalised for some reason, this search result is courtesy of Google Japan and I am yet to discover what this refers to! The post it directs people to is one I wrote on my various cosmetic disasters here.

3. Upset Pikeys. I joked with Rachael of Manana Mama a few weeks ago about pikey being my number one keyword search. It's still in the top five but with a new variation. I wrote a ranting post about tattoos a while back.

4. Poo Mammy. From Google Canada. For some reasons the Canadians at Google associate me with poo and direct people to a recent Q & A session with my pooey self.

5. What did Socrates Actually Look Like?* This should amuse my Classicist friends, that if you desire to know the truth about what Socrates physically looked like, then I am the person to ask. I like quotes and quotes the great man with a recipe orientated post here.

*Not that anyone cares but the photo of a bust of Socrates comes from the Naples Museum and is a Roman copy of a Greek original sculpted in the fourth century BC by Lysippos, a sculptor who lived and worked during the reign of Alexander the Great, as his official sculptor.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Silent Sunday - Uk BBoy Championship 2011

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please excuse any typing errors as my fat fingers and Apple's touch screen technology are not a good combination.

Travelling with ASD kids

So as I have mentioned, it's Sunday and we are en route to London to attend the UK BBoy Championships at the Brixton Academy. Already I have been up for hours finely tuning our travel arrangements. A is so excited but with this excitement he is very jittery, anxious and hasn't been able to eat since yesterday.

With A I always have to have an itinerary so he has something to focus on, much the same as his school week is timetabled at school and in our home so he can think clearly and organise himself. I have to keep updating him with our steps and times. Forty minutes into our train journey and we already have had tears as the enormity of the trip has hit him, a mini meltdown because the train came in at another platform to the advertised one.

Travelling with A is always a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, trying to anticipate potential obstacles, keeping him abreast of changes. Even here on the train I have had to timetable our four and a half hour journey!
It's getting near his allotted iPad time so I best sign off.

For anyone travelling with kids on the spectrum the National Autistic Society has some useful hints and tips here:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please excuse any typing errors as my fat fingers and Apple's touch screen technology are not a good combination.

Location:Berwick upon Tweed

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Uk BBoy Championships 2011. We're going!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We've had an incredible run of luck this week! After reflecting on how lucky we are at the beginning of the week in terms of how well A is doing at school and B's recent speech and language therapy assessment, we found out on Wednesday at our luck was extending even further.

I got a phone call on Wednesday to say that A had won a competition. I had no idea what the man was on about at first until I twigged. You see, A went through a competition entering phase about six months ago which we had to put a stop to. He would apply for everything and anything but couldn't grasp the concept that winning it was purely the luck of the draw. He would come home everyday and ask if a particular company or magazine had been in touch regarding his prize.I am not ashamed to admit that it was driving me mad! Every day this would go on until he eventually realised that he hadn't won the competition. And then, when he realised that he hadn't actually won the desired prize,  their would be a major huff for days at the disappointment. So in true bad parent style, I banned him from entering all competitions.

Then he caught me out. I was busy at the computer writing articles and blogging and emailing and generally behind in everything so trying to do it all at once and be pounced. He must have said something along the lines of "Can I enter this competition?" and I must have mumbled "whatever" and waved him away...

And so he won! He has won the prize of his dream and I had idea how I was going to make this happen! If you follow this blog then you might have notices I live in Edinburgh and to collect this prize we would have to get to Brixton this weekend! Luckily his grandparents have stepped in to help out and it looks like we're definitely heading to Brixton this weekend.

I've blogged before about how much Breakdancing means to A. Being autistic, A is always going to feel like an outsider in some respects. As hard as we have worked to make him feel a part of mainstream society, he knows deep down that he'll always be different. When A found Breakdancing and the alternative culture that comes with it, it changed his life. He felt a part of something and this gave him confidence. At school, he wastes no time in showing off his skills and is proud of being able to achieve something in a space where he is all too aware that he is behind his peers. And sometimes it is hard for him, especially if he is mixing with his peers at lessons as they have little patience for his slow learning.

During this year or so of lessons, he has been joining communities and networking and keeping tabs on his favourite BBoys and BGirls from around the world via the internet. He watches video after video of competitions and trailers and I've managed to take him to a few events here in Edinburgh. The events here though are few and far between.The culture is growing here. With fantastic ventures happening all of the time. There are a few specialised clothing shops opening up and even professional graffiti workshops available!

The prize: VIP tickets to the UK BBoy Championships 2011 at Brixton's o2 Academy. The prize includes official merchandise, new Asics trainers, a New Era cap and the recently released book BBoy Championships: From Brixton to the Bronx written by the event organiser, DJ Hooch. The next day we will be exploring London town as it is A's first ever visit!

I knew that he would be blown away and when he came home that night to the news, he was beside himself with joy. He spent the rest of the evening speechless, wide eyed and pale at the prospect of attending the championships. This is such a big deal to him and I cannot wait to see his face when we enter the venue.

Now in its 17th year, the UK B-Boy Championships is one of the World’s greatest Hip-Hop events. Qualifiers take place Worldwide, where dancers battle for the chance to represent their nation on the Ultimate Stage!

The B-Boy Championships is one of the world’s greatest Hip-Hop events. There are national qualifiers worldwide where dancers compete for the opportunity to represent their country at one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the hip-hop calendar. The event features the best solo breakers, poppers, lockers and bboy crews from across the globe. It also plays host to some of the most exciting Hip-Hop artists to visit the UK.
The best dancers from around the globe are soon to converge at the Brixton Academy  to compete in the World’s #1 B-Boy competition in a battle to become the 2011 World Champions. The Championships brings together the best of the best from the US, UK, Japan, Korea, Russia, China, Holland and Scandinavia. After a five-month search, staging eight international eliminations, the winners will now all take part in the ultimate B-Boy battle. Over 5,000 people are set to descend on London’s Brixton Academy to watch all the incredible action during the event.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Highs and Lows of High School Part 2: The Lows. What would you do?

Amongst the highs of A starting high school this year, we have already experienced some lows.

I have joined the Parent Council and a Curriculum Steering Group and so in some ways I am party to more information than most parents who do not get involved with the administration of the school and depend on their children for information solely. This can only be a positive things in terms of how we support A's education and how we support the school in their pursuit of delivering the very best service to all of the children that they can. I have to say that I have been so impressed by the school so far and their hard work has been inspiring. But at times, we are reminded that A has now entered another world. A world where outside forces come into play and life is not as cloistered as it was (in hindsight) at primary school.

This week there have been a few revelations. A knows of least 3 kids in his year who are already smoking. Smoking cigarettes at 12 years old. Growing up on a council estate with very little stimulus, this news ordinarily wouldn't surprise me. Given that A's school is one of the best in Edinburgh, this does. And indeed I saw this for myself when driving past the school at kicking out time one day. Only a street away from the main doors, kids were revealing their stashes and indulging in communal puffing. Lectures have been administered, warnings dealt and informative videos shown. I guess time will tell if he succumbs to peer pressure, like his Dad and I did at school. Then and only then can we really deal with it.

This week we also discovered a growing trend in the city for vandalising school bags. A was told by his friends that he should not being his white leather sports bag to school as someone would graffiti it. So he begged us for another bag and we found him a cool limited edition rusksack. This week someone, presumably while they were all walking along busy corridors, has taken a sharp implement and slashed the bag. We heard that this was going on in other schools but had yet to hear of it happening in our school. I took a photo and emailed it to the school The bag can easily be replaced but the rucksack was a heavy duty one and it would have taken something very sharp to have caused so much damage. The school are on the case but I was sharply reminded of the stupidity of teenagers again. Bloody kids!

I've also learned this week that there are drug dealers waiting on the kids walking home from school. A huge proportion of the kids know that this goes on and know where the dealers hang about and so where to acquire drugs if they chose. Apparently this has been going on for a while but the kids and the parents are too scared to do anything about it. My first reaction? I went a bit mental and emailed the school. I will be bringing it up at the next parent council meeting and I will be contacting the police about it. Other parents have looked at me in horror and asked why I am not concerned about repercussions. They are under the impression that some sort of gang-land vengeance will be dealt on me and consequently on the school for having grassed to the police. I come from a place where people and parents, can, sadly be passive due to the size of the estate, where no one speaks out about the constant supply of drugs or the dealers as a matter of self-preservation. At my high school, people would just hold their hands up and say "well...what can I do?". I don't really understand where they are coming from at all. It is not as if the police, if they were to catch them and take them in will say "Here is the name and address of woman who is responsible for your arrest". The dealers are waiting beside the school because it is a pathway for three other high schools the area to cross so are they targeting all of the schools.

But it has made me wonder if I am missing the severity of what I am getting into?

What do you think? Am I being bold? Would you speak out or am I playing with fire. I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Miss B's Speech Development.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” 

I thought that I had better not post a Wordless Wednesday this week as I happened to be at the hospital with Miss B having her wordlessness investigated and it seemed, while appropriate, a bit in bad taste!

So it's here. I finally managed to persuade the Health visitor that with a bank of only 7 or 8 words that are only distinguishable to her immediate family and our own particular history, that someone needs to pay attention to the fact that B's speech is delayed. And boy, am I glad I did. 

I know that people mean well when they tell me not to worry but have they really considered the fact that their underlying message here is, you're being neurotic and making a mountain out of molehill? This makes me feel terrible!

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in London have decades of experience with speech and language disorders and know full well that each and every child develops in their own way. While each may develop in their own way, there are median levels that all children are expected to reach by certain milestones in their lives. Speaking is one of them and while each child is different, it is perfectly acceptable to flag up concerns if a child appears to be behind in one. When I say behind, I mean behind, not just one of two words short but a delay in their overall expressive language. 

The standarised general language achievements by two years of age (which B is next month) is as follows: 

  • Takes turns in conversation
  • Can use at least 20 words
  • Tries to copy new words
  • Joins two words together (eg ‘Want drink?’)
  • Asks questions (eg ‘What’s this?’)
  • Asks for food and drink
  • Can’t always be understood.
B is no where near to achieving any of these, in fact she can't do a single one of these. So am I being a hypochondriac?

As it turns out no, I am not. The hospital while not concerned about the rest of her development are concerned about her lack of speech and like me believe that any action, however little is the best course of action. She is too young for the official tests which are done at three years of age but early intervention is the best course and they have recommended that she attend signing groups in the meantime to help with any frustration that might develop due to her speech delay. If you are someone who is worried about your child's speech development then please contact or check out the charity AFASIC's website. Their information is concise and up to date. 

None of the early warning indicators appear to be there in the ways that they were in A and that is my main worry. Only time will tell but it's better to be proactive than to bury your head in the sand, saying she'll be fine and she'll talk in her own time. 

We still have to wait and see what happens in the next year but at least in the meantime we are being proactive and not sitting on our backsides waiting until there is a major problem. People often take for granted that they can pop out child after child that are normal, average, never worrying or caring if their development is not on par. 

Try going through what I've been through and then tell yourself not to worry.

The High and Lows of High School Part 1: The Highs.

I am writing two posts today to reflect on our experiences of high school so far with A. As with all major changes in life we have experienced some highs and some lows as we settle into this new way of life. The highs have been spectacular and the lows have been worrying and are connected to this new age that he is approaching rather than the school.

After years of fighting, pleading, harrassing and challenging the eduction system here in the Lothians, I am at a loss for how to describe our experiences with A's high school in these first few short months of term. The school are going above and beyond to make sure that he is properly supported and have enrolled in in additional support programmes. I am so proud of how well he has handled it all.

He will be taking part in a peer mentoring programme where he is paired up with a sixth year pupil to talk through any worries that are troubling him. In addition to this extra shoulder, the senior pupil takes him out at lunch time once a week to do an activity that mainstream pupils might take for granted, a little thing that makes a huge impact on an ASD kids life. They go out for a smoothie or a hot chocolate depending on the weather. This may not sound like a big deal but it is incredibly hard for an ASD kid to negotiate such a transaction on their own. To have the correct amount of money, to have enough money, to settle on a choice of flavour, to remember to pick up their change and the smoothie when prepared. These are all things that we take for granted but doesn't automatically follow this routine. He often wanders off before the drink is ready, order something really expensive or walk off without his change. The mentoring programme gives the kids the independence of not having an adult on their backs all of the time. I really cannot believe how lucky we have been to receive this.

He will also be taking part in a new programme called Toe by Toe, a reading programme designed to enhance and build confidence in reading for pupils with additional support needs (ASN). Toe by Toe is a reading manual which contains a highly structured synthetic phonics approach to decoding words. It was developed by Keda Cowling, and is based on her experiences of teaching children with dyslexia to read. It has been created so that anyone with a moderate reading ability will be able to teach others to read. Toe by Toe has proved an excellent resource for the peer support approach adopted by Shannon Trust. Ideally learners will have the same mentor every session which is good for building confidence and positive relationships. Learners benefit enormously from this one to one support which is difficult to provide in a busy classroom. In addition to this programme he will be taking part in paired reading sessions featuring a book of his choice with fourth year pupils in the school library.

The school also offers a specialised spelling programme for pupils with ASN but I had to make a choice as it is timetabled at the same time as his reading programme. I worried for a few days about making the right choice and approached the school to tell them I had made a decision about what programme is best for him. When I contacted the school, they said that if I was happy to, they would send the spelling programme home with A so he didn't miss out on the opportunity! I was flabbergasted at their out of the box thinking and dedication to making learning as positive and as productive for A it it could be!

Out with the additional support programme he has joined an animation club which he absolutely loves. for years he has been making stop motion animations in his bedroom.It appeals to the autistic mind, the logical organising and repetition of the activity. I am constantly amazed at his concentration when doing this. He is also embracing the artistic side of this group, which is something that he has always struggled with. He is even joining in with a Manga comic group who reproduce their favourite characters from their (age appropriate!) series like Naruto. He has joined a computer games group which he really enjoys and is constantly making new friends.

I am active within the school. Joining the Parent Council and a new Curriculum Steering group to deal with the new Curriculum for Excellence being rolled out in Scottish schools. I've already cemented my reputation as a forthright pedant! The staff are amazing and the dedication shown to their jobs is inspiring. I had to give something for the amazing help we have received.

A has embraced this major change in his life with grace and maturity that we really hadn't expected. we spent the whole of last Sunday timetabling his week. He fully engaged with the process and took responsibility for his schedule. He needs a high level of organisation to keep him focused and has really relaxed into this routine.

Long may this success continue!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Review: Chilli Papa's Spice Mixes.

I have had the privilege of sampling some of the Chilli Papa's range in the past. When Darren Mollan, the company director announced that he had produced a new mix into the range, I jumped at the chance of giving it a test drive. The new spice mix is Chilli Papa's Hot Vindaloo.

Now for the science bit. Our bodies release things called endorphins which are neurotransmitters that function to transmit signals to the central nervous system. These endorphins can decrease feelings of pain or can increase feelings of euphoria and can enhance immune response. Certain foods can increase the secretion of endorphins in the body, namely chocolate and chili. The less dilute kind of chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is the one to go for for the maximum high and the same goes for chillies. The hotter the chili, the more endorphins are secreted. Now I use this as an excuse to eat copious amounts of both, sometimes together!

The first thing to say about the Chilli Papa's Hot Vindaloo is that they are not joking when they say it is hot. Out of us here at team Oh Mammy, I am the one with the highest heat/pain threshold. I season almost all of my food with my own pot of crushed, dried chili flakes so I did scoff a little bit when I read that it was supposed to be hot. Previous pastes and mixes I have tried in the past have either not been hot enough to warrant using the word hot, rather than a just bit spicy or have either been so hot that all flavour is lost on the recipient.

I am delighted to report that the Chilli Papa's mix is neither of these being both properly hot and so very tasty. You can still detect the ground coriander, the cumin, the ginger and garlic behind the mustard and chilli and cayenne pepper heat.

Darren has worked hard to make sure that making a curry using his mixes is incredibly easy and accessible for even the novice cook who may have had to rely on flavourless jars in the past. I shall share with you here, the official version of Chilli Papa's cooking instructions here just to demonstrate how easy it is before showing you how I made it more complicated, because I was cooking for the kids too.

To make the curry you need to:
  • Chop one onions
  • Chop 300-400g of meat or meat substitute, fish or vegetables. 
  • Chop 1 2cm piece of ginger
  • Chop 3 cloves of garlic
  • Add one stock cube
  • Add 1 Papa's Vindaloo curry mix
  • Add salt and pepper to season
  • Add 5 tbps of vinegar
  • Add 250ml of water. 

Add all of the ingredients in a pot and cook on a low hear, storring on a regular basis until meat is cooked.
Best served with rice or noodles.

It really is that easy!

I adore opening up the packaging to discover the spice mixes within. They are so colourful and appetising. Again, similar to the previous mixes we tried, making the Chilli Papa's Hot Vindaloo is incredibly simple with very few ingedients needed. I complicated the above process by cooking it in stages and dividing up the fried meat and onions into two pots. I put the Vindaloo mix into one and the Cracking Yellow Curry which is very tasty but lacks the heat of the Vindaloo.

Fry the garlic and ginger

Add the chicken and onion.

Once I had split up the meat and vegetable mixture, I added the spice mix and dried fried to really bring out the flavours of the spices. Already my eyes were watering at the heat!

The colours are so vibrant!

The finished dish.

I served both curries with coconut and almond pilaf, a tomato salad and cumin and cucumber raita, chutneys and popadums. 

We really enjoyed the taste of the new mix. The heat of the peppers with the vinegar created a fantastic hot and sour flavour. It packed a punch and I think both adults were grateful for the raita. We love this brand and wholeheartedly encourage you all to try these mixes. You wont regret it, we promise! Well done to Darren on another fantastic product. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Don't worry just Google it...

Does anyone else Google excessively? Does anyone else use Google to investigate something that worries you? I do.

I spent eight years as an mature student at University, staring at a computers ;hoping for inspiration for essays or tutorial work, for dissertations and the rest. I would take a break from thinking and use social networking sites to reconnect with the real world whilst being stuck behind a PC on a deadline restriction. If I wasn't on Facebook, I'd be ironing or doing some other boring chore like cleaning the tile grout with a toothbrush and other tasks that really could have waited but provided an excellent procrastination tool during deadline times. If the house was clean, my FB contacts up to date, I would sit and Google my weird trains of thought that I have. Books, during this time, were becoming my enemy and I had barely any time to look at fiction, unless you count the increasing workload of Roman history I had (apologies, that's a really bad in joke!).

So now with the advent of another child, I find myself repeating these old patterns. Being in the company of people who babble incoherently, I turn to Facebook for a little stimulus. I am very lucky, in that I have lots of learned and academic and interesting friends to engage with on Facebook. If I'm not on there, I am now blogging about my weird trains of thought. Books (or works of escapist fiction) still figure very little in my life at the moment, preferring to read newspapers and blogs for my intellectual stimulus. My one habit that has changed is my Googling. I am encountering so many new things in my life with raising two kids and having things like high school involved that when I Google, I tend to Google problems. There is one problem that has been on the down low, if you will for the last six months. A problem that I was petrified to Google and consequently set off a train of weird thoughts.

I have vaguely hinted at B's lack of speech before and I have sort of hinted towards an overarching worry having had another child after the first one was disabled. It's something I am not really allowed to talk about in real life. Any exploration of this topic is met with responses of "och, she'll be fine!" and "don't worry!". I am a rational and intelligent woman and while I do hope that these people are correct, I knew full well that when I had a second child that I was in some respects playing Russian Roulette. Researchers still have no clue whether autism is genetic or environmental or a combination of both. I have tried to talk about it with family but it falls on deaf ears or people look away as the topic makes them uncomfortable. Although our family is bigger now, I am the only one who dealt with A's diagnosis, I did it alone. My parents were there but it was beyond
their understanding. They love A dearly but they don't understand him.

I spent a huge portion of his life fighting for things and I appear to be doing it now. I have been asking the Health Visitor for a Speech Therapy referral for the past six months and they have dragged their heels for that entire time. I have sought out private speech therapy and was in the process of organising an appointment when the HV finally agreed to refer her to speech therapy. They still maintain that I am being paranoid, although never having actually spent any time in the same room as B. They said that the process and paperwork would take between four and five months to sort out and to obtain an appointment. So I decided to push ahead with a private assessment. The day I was due to phone to book and appointment, I received an appointment letter from the NHS SLT for an assessment, six days away! My first thought was not "wow, that is pretty good administration!" but why had they pushed this though so quickly? Anyway, we have a appointment for an assessment on Wednesday. I do see differences in A and B but I stress myself out trying to remember all the nuances that A displayed prior to his diagnosis. Traits only became obvious in hindsight and it was over a decade ago! A also had regressive autism so while she appeared to be streets ahead with his development in comparison to his peers, he stopped doing things at the age of two and a half. While he was dry at 18 months and out of nappies a few weeks later, he was back in them at two and a half. The few words he could actually say, stopped altogether and he retreated more and more into his own world with me, all the while trying to pull him back into this one.

So at 23 months with a repertoire of only Mum, Blue, Boot, Pooh, Spoon, Book, none of which are actually discernible to anyone other than me or OD, I am worried. I think I have a right to be worried and to hope that I won't have to go through all of this again. I have no idea what it will like to walk through those doors again, to the place where they first sat me down and told me about A's autism. I do feel like the worst parent in the world when I hope that life will be easier for B than it is for A but only time will tell.

In the meantime, I am Googling and bringing up all sorts of horror stories. While this pickles
my brain, I feel like I am doing something. Articles like Constantino, J. N (2010) Sibling Recurrence and the Genetic Epidemiology of Autism. AJP, detail the higher possibly of having an sibling who will exhibit ASD like traits yet not warrant a full diagnosis. This paper goes on to be cited by the latest paper on sibling and ASD connections by Sally Ozonoff and her team at NIH, which tell us that the prevalence of ASD diagnoses in siblings are much higher than previously thought (from 3-5% to 10%, higher in male siblings). I sort of knew this from my own research already and in meeting ASD kids with younger siblings. As much as this terrifies me, the paper highlights the need for screening in siblings and to adopt an attitude of active infant intervention, rather than the current, let's just wait and see approach. It highlights also the need for genetic counselling in the country for parents of children with pervasive developmental disorders. It is a bit of a sticky issue and I don't agree with it being used in cases of selectivity in reproduction. We went into this with our eyes open but knew it would be hard. Perhaps if such counselling was available at preconception, then infant screening would take place? But then the NHS is struggling so what can we hope for?

The wait is hard and so I content myself by Googling...

Mammy's Monday Music Meme - Nirvana

No, this is not a song about my teenage years. It is not about that phase where I grew my fringe long and indulged in all things Grunge and Seattle based... 

No, this is a music post about what I've been up to this week. It is about that state in Sramanic thought, the state of being free from suffering. It is about being in a state of nirvana. 

You see...I did all of my ironing at the weekend. I have been a veritable domestic goddess instead of a domestic daemon. Laugh if you will but this feeling of freedom is excellent. 

I am Zen. I have no more ironing hiding in the cupboards or under the bed. 

I am usually very good, dinner is always freshly prepared, ther is usually something baked and we have an extensive social life too. The house is always very nearly spotless but this ironing pile had grown considerably since the start of term and it took me seven hours in total spread out over the week! I should add that I do not iron everything we own so this amount was disgraceful. 

I found clothes that I had forgotten I had! I feel like I have a new wardrobe!

So the start of the week is here and I have a spring in my step and freshly laundered clothes. A and I have figured out this whole high school malarkey and have a solid timetable for him to work from. 

So with this in mind I give you: Inside by Jethro Tull. (Alright, its a bit tongue in cheek but songs about domesticity nearly always involve some fraction of Doris Day and I doubt that she would hide her ironing in the cupboard). 


All the places I've been make it hard to begin
to enjoy life again on the inside,
but I mean to.Take a walk around the block
and be glad that I've got me some time
to be in from the outside,and inside with you.

I'm sitting on the corner feeling glad.
Got no money coming in but I can't be sad.
That was the best cup of coffee I ever had.
And I won't worry about a thing
because we've got it made,
here on the inside, outside so far away.

And we'll laugh and we'll sing
get someone to bring our friends here
for tea in the evening --Old Jeffrey makes three.
Take a walk in the park,
does the wind in the dark
sound like music to you?

Well I'm thinking it does to me.
Can you cook, can you sew --well, I don't want to know.
That is not what you need on the inside,
to make the time go.
Counting lambs, counting sheep
we will fall into sleep
and we awake to a new day of living
and loving you so. 

Mammy's Monday Music Meme!

Right this meme has been running for a few week now with varying results. In principle it is a good idea and for the musically minded of us out there, it provides an outlet for music sharing on a regular basis. I think that I took it for granted that everyone loves music and was taken aback to discover that there are those out there who have very little time to listen to music or are just not that bothered.

When I thought this up, the aim was for those of us who perhaps do not have that much time to sit and think of topics for posts to share with peers and readers but to still have a motivation to post something that reflects a little part of us. It really is just another outlet for expression that requires very few words to convey a message. 

Hopefully, things are back on track and you lot are full ideas for this weeks Mammy's Music Meme.

There is no time limit, I post this up on a Monday and you have ALL WEEK to post an offering. I'll start making proper grown up rules when it takes off.

So all you have to do is:

Write a blog post as short or as long as you like on the theme of music. It can be as simple as you've found a new song that you like and want to share it because it makes you happy, sad etc etc. Or it could be a post on how a particular song has a specific meaning or memory attached to it (wedding, funeral, births etc etc).

I have written a few so far and my inspiration came from a whole host of reasons. I posted a song after an impromptu afternoon out with friends. I posted a song on the day that my eldest son started High School. I posted a song because it moved me and I posted a song because I heard that the band who had written the song had split up
. I posted when the whole household got the lurgi and to celebrate a multicultural festival here in Edinburgh

So come on and have a go. Even if you are a reader but don't have a blog yourself please leave a comment below with your song of the day and a reason why you find that song interesting. If you do have a blog please use the Mister Linky Widget below and I'm so looking forward to listening!

Have fun! xx 

The links are found when you press this button below. Please check out the other participants posts! And leave a comment so I know you've linked. You can check out last weeks offerings here if you need some inspiration. 


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Cheat's Recipe.

As I am playing nursemaid to a family full of the cold at the moment, I am making quite a lot of soup. 

I like to make my own stock and so often this means that I either have the option of filling that soup full of the meat whether it's ham or beef or chicken or making it into a supplementary dish. Last night's dinner is one such dinner where I have used leftover gammon from a giant pot of spiced lentil, carrot and cumin soup to make this ridiculously easy dish. 

This is too easy because it involves a HUGE amount of cheating. I have made the dish from scratch before and it is labourious. While this doesn't quite give the same results, it is pretty darn close for all of those hours of cooking I did during the previous attempt. So here is my recipe for cheat's Boston Beans. I love Boston Beans but can't help laughing every time I eat them when I recall THAT scene in Blazing Saddles.

I served it with some charred and baked potatoes because as I cheated making the beans and so had some spare time!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g unsmoked gammon joint, cut into large chunks (freeze any left over)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 x 420g cans baked beans (any brand)
  • 4 tbsp barbecue sauce, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs or any Cajun seasoning you have lying around.


1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the gammon and cook for 3-4 minutes, until browned. Remove and set aside.

For veggies, omit the meat and use 250g mushrooms or ask them to leave (I'm JOKING!).

2. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the beans, barbecue sauce, herbs and gammon. Simmer for 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste and serve with baked jacket potatoes and extra barbecue sauce, if you like

Monday, 3 October 2011

Wordless Wednesdays - ...Love is All you Need.

Mammy's Monday Music Meme! - My Contribution This Week

I'm playing nurse this week to my handsome OD and to my beautiful Miss B.

My super trooper A has been sent to school in the vein of "if it's not hanging off, then its just fine!" with cough sweets in hand. Of course, I'm coming down with it too but there is no rest for the wicked as the saying goes.

So in between wiping snotters and administering soup, I have dragged my weary aching bones over to the laptop to reinstate this weeks Mammy's Music Meme.

I think that in this case, a Blues song is perfectly appropriate and none more so than this number by Big Bill Broonzy:

Mammy's Monday Music Meme!

Hello all,

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and it's time for Mammy's Music Meme again. 

I really enjoyed reading everyone's different choices so far but we need more people to take part so please spread the word.
So all you have to do is:

Write a blog post as short or as long as you like on the theme of music. It can be as simple as you've found a new song that you like and want to share it because it makes you happy, sad etc etc. Or it could be a post on how a particular song has a specific meaning or memory attached to it (wedding, funeral, births etc etc).

I have written a few so far and my inspiration came from a whole host of reasons. I posted a song after an impromptu afternoon out with friends. I posted a song on the day that my eldest son started High School. I posted a song because it moved me and I posted a song because I heard that the band who had written the song had split up

So come on and have a go. Even if you are a reader but don't have a blog yourself please leave a comment below with your song of the day and a reason why you find that song interesting. If you do have a blog please use the Mister Linky Widget below and I'm so looking forward to listening!

Have fun! xx 

The links are found when you press this button below. Please check out the other participants posts! And leave a comment so I know you've linked. You can check out last weeks offerings here if you need some inspiration.