Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday afternoon.

I love Fridays, especially Friday afternoons...and especially, especially Friday night!

Joe was in the mood for a bit of cooking. He pulled out his lovely new Donna Hay cookbook & picked out some favourites.

                                                                 Frogs in the pond!

And thumb print biscuits- he filled the thumb prints with chocolate, sprinkles and frogs..mmmmm.

Campbell didn't waste a second before he got the IPad fired up.

Drew had his guitar lesson- so Joe & I had some cool music to enjoy while we cooked.

What does your Friday afternoon look like? Do you put your feet up & relax of get straight into weekend fun?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Childhood sweethearts.

Yesterday my funny Campbell asked our car load of 6 year old boys if they have any childhood sweethearts yet. I burst into laughter...and then a few piped up- apparently they did! Some even claimed to have had a kiss!
Who am I to judge, perhaps they have already met the love of their life. I know that for some people the search for their soul mate can take them on a long journey of discovery, while others have them stumble right across their path.
I heard on the radio yesterday that one couple found a family photo of the husband in a stroller at Disneyland, only to realise that his wife was right there in the photo as a little girl! They were not there together, had never met and where both in a foreign country at the time. They only realised after years of marriage that they were destined to cross paths and be together eventually.

I was blessed to have the love of my life in the house next door- now tell me that wasn't meant to be. I have a snap shot memory of the first time I saw my future husband. The image is crystal clear with the sunshine blurring the edges. It was over the tap in the front yard of our mutual neighbour while we were vying to fill up our containers quickly for the raging neighbourhood water fight. I swear that time stood still for a moment while that image imprinted itself into my memory- remember this boy he will be the father of your children. It may have been love at first sight but we were only 11 years old and that's an awkward age for declaring your undying love to a boy you just threw a bucket of water all over. It took a few years for us to realise our good fortune and we haven't ever had reason to question fate.

That blue eyed boy was unquestionably meant just for me. He is my anchor, my right-hand man and he brings out the best in me. He is an amazing father who is unselfish, solid and dependable but also quick to soothe, settle and encourage.

So my ever optimistic Campbell, you just never know when or where you will meet your love. I can only hope that my beautiful boys find love with the person who brings them joy and love.

Pirate play date.

Today Jonas had a play date. This could not be just an ordinary play date. This was an event to celebrate his success. He invited the 6 boys that he has either already spoken to at school or would really like to be able to talk to. This play date marked some amazing progress that has occurred in the past few weeks. We have had some difficulties with his teacher being sick for a great deal of the time I have had off work to support Jonas through the program. Jonas has wanted this for himself and has been so very happy to have me at school with him every week, so he has continued to grow and gain confidence.
We were all bursting with pride today to see him play with his friends and to chat casually with a few of them.

I also won this gorgeous pirate pack from  Marie Louise Events at the Confetti Fair.
Thank you Jacqui :)

Of course with this cuteness on hand I set straight to planning a party to put it to good use. With the Selective Mutism Clinic recommending play opportunities for Joe as a next step towards talking openly with friends, we decided that a Pirate play date would be the best fun!

A few little treats for his friends to take home.

I used Picmonkey for the tags and invitations- it's such a great FREE resource.

The Pirate printables came from here. Aren't they gorgeous...and cheap and easy too!

It was such a fabulous afternoon.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Public announcement.

Perhaps there is a need for public re-education on the meaning of this sign. It appears that some people are confused about what this symbol represents when it appears on bathroom doors or parking spaces.

You see that symbol is supposed to represent a person in a wheelchair. It is not a symbol for YOU needing a bit of a break for any of the reasons listed below:

* You are in a hurry/ will only be a minute/ just need to quickly use the ATM/didn't see the sign/there were no other spots.
* You have a whinging toddler and simple can't put up with another tantrum today (come back to me with you have a screaming child with autism who is also in a wheelchair and I'll give you a stiff drink)
* You have totally gorgeous but really uncomfortable shoes on and it is a bit tricky to walk too far.
* You have borrowed a friends/grandparents pass and it's so cool to not have to pay for street parking.
* You or your child were just really busting and the other toilets are full/ dirty/ too squishy/ smelly/ unattractive.

I really could go on and ON and ON... there are some outstanding excuses.

While someone is fluffing about in a disabled bathroom (and boy some people really do a great deal of time consuming fluffing about) somebody with an ACTUAL disability doesn't get there in time and faces the humiliation of needing to be cleaned up and changed.

While you just duck in to use the ATM I will accidentally scratch the side of your car while trying to negotiate a wheelchair with a very narrow space to do it- oppps sorry about that ;) I think I may have also strained my back again too- do you mind paying my physio bill?? You see disabled parking spots are not just placed closest to the door for your convenience but they are significantly wider in order to fit a wheelchair beside the car.

Rant over.

PS Thank you so much to all those lovely people who hold doors open for us, offer to lift the wheelchair into the boot for me, offer to carry our tray, let us get into a full elevator ahead of you, smile and say hello :) You know who you are!!!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The art of the cake pop.

You will either roll your eyes at the pointlessness of cake pops... or you might appreciate a few little tips that have made our finished products a little less amusing and wonky.

I had no idea that cake pop construction was an art form. Oh my the beauty that can be created in the form of a little ball of cake on a stick. It's serious business! We will just be sticking with the cute,  yummy and slightly less amusing versions.

No matter how hilariously clumsy they look, my perpetually starving boys gobble them up with a grin. I burst out laughing when I found this photo last week. Bits of chocolate hanging off in odd directions and sprinkles from one end of the kitchen to the other, but eaten with gusto nevertheless.

They did vary a bit from one time to the next....

But we have discovered a few tricks now to help make them look at little less lopsided and awkward.

We bought some cake pop tins that produce lovely, perfectly round balls of cakey goodness. They were in Aldi last week for only $12, so we indulged in having 2 tins. The extra tin meant that one packet mix of batter could all go in the oven at once. Yes, we really are taking this popping business quite seriously!!

We started making batches in advance and putting them in the freezer, which ended up being a handy trick. The chocolate dipping is so much easier with frozen cake. The chocolate sets much faster which saves lots of drippy mess.

We also dip the sticks in the melted chocolate before we stick them into the cake and stops the cake falling off into the chocolate.

We devised this excellent drying stand!!! HAHAHA! Check it out. My resourceful hubby set it on the kitchen bench one day when I was howling about dripping chocolate and had nothing to stick the cake pops into while they dried. It is the foam insert from an old car booster seat and it did the trick.

Thankfully Aldi came to our rescue again last week with these little stands. A bargain too- they were about $3- $4.

I also use the Aldi mud cake mix for the cake bit. (I LOVE Aldi) I use all of the chocolate in the pack, including the extra that is supposed to be used to make the icing. It makes the cake nice and dense which helps it stay on the stick better. I have tried other packet mixes and they just crumbled and fell off the sticks. I also use a little bit less liquid than the instructions suggest. 
I used to sit the chocolate coated pops into the sprinkles which led to the funny, lopsided results. I found it better to twist the cake around until all the excess chocolate drips off and them sprinkle over the top. Much smoother and prettier result.

They still taste the same of course, no matter how funny they look :)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Pizza Night.

We have had a thoroughly lovely night with some thoroughly lovely people. There may have been a great deal of squealing for our neighbours to enjoy and a perfectly positioned muddy foot print on my lounge room wall- but that's what it's all about! The jar of matches were hidden away before the children set off to the dark corners of the yard ;)

Lots of old fashioned frolicking in the dark with good mates while the adults chat and drink wine. I certainly remember the fondest of memories from my childhood of night time antics while the parents were too busy to notice.

The pizza was good too- well done darling husband and mini chef Joe.

The dessert was waited upon with great anticipation. What disciplined children. So well trained. Dribble running down their chins until somebody said "GO!" There really is no way of choosing when both cake pops and chocolate mousse are on offer.

Thank you to our friends for such a great night and tell your kids how great they are.... mud and all.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A very exciting day!

Warning this post is going to contain an excessive amount of exclamation marks. It is bound to be irritating. Forgive me, I am very excited!!

Jonas spoke at school today!!!!!!

To another kid!!!!!

He even read his book aloud to him!!!!!!

I was thrilled yesterday when he was willing to speak to me in front of a teacher's aide while we had a game of Beetle.

 It was a massive break through and I was amazed at how quickly he progressed from whispering into my ear to speaking with a normal talking voice. He wasn't ready to address her directly but he was willing to let her hear him speak. On top of that he also spoke aloud in front of our gorgeous chiropractor during his afternoon appointment.

I couldn't wait to get back to school with him today to see if he could do it again. He did!!! But better!!

He moved from whispering to speaking very quickly today, even though there was an addition of a school friend. I had expected him to need to go back to whispering for a few sessions until he became accustomed to the idea of speaking in front of a friend, but he did it within minutes. I left them all to play for 20 minutes to see how they would go without me and returned to find them all chatting and laughing. Jonas had progressed to speaking directly to the aide and his friend within the 1 hour session. When I took him back to the classroom to help in reading groups, he was comfortable enough to read aloud to his friend and I, and to chat about the story too. It was soon the talk of the classroom as the other kids realised that Jonas had spoken out loud. He wasn't embarrassed, like he would normally be, he was beaming with pride- and so was I!

He is finally ready to do it. The relief I feel today is immense.

The program and support from The Selective Mutism Clinic is the reason for his success. I am posting this because we searched for so long to find help for our beautiful boy and I really hope that spreading the word makes it easier for the next family who need the support. The process we are using is called 'sliding- in' and here is some extra info if you want to know more.

I am so grateful that I have been able to take a break from work to do this with Joe. The progress has been so quick because I have been able to be there every day. In fact I came and went 3 times today to work around the timetable.

Happy, happy day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Jonas makes dessert!

I couldn't go past a $15 box of mandarins today. It was only when I filled one rather large bowl, and then another...and then a third that I started to think my locusts may not get through them as quickly as I thought.
The recipe search began with all sorts of tempting options!
Joe and I decided on chocolate mandarin mousse. Never heard of it?? Well it's one we kind of made up on our own.

Here's the explanation:

1, 2, 3 inhale!!!

The actual recipe:

125g dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon of mandarin juice (you could use orange juice instead)
4 eggs (separated)
300ml thickened cream.

You'll have to beat the egg white to soft peaks  (in case it wasn't clear in Joe's explanation).

Monday, 6 May 2013

This weeks lunch boxes.

After last weeks old fashioned favourite from my Nanna's archives, I tried out a new version of weet bix slice this week. This one didn't even need baking & only took a few minutes to throw together.

1/2 tin of condensed milk (I accidentally used a whole tin & it's fine)
125g butter
10 crumbled weet bix
1 cup fruit & nuts (I also added some white choc chips too)
1/2 cup coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

I melted the butter & mixed in the condensed milk & then added the dry ingredients.
Press it into a slice tray lined with baking paper & pop it in the fridge.
That's it!!!!
You could put icing on it too but I just added some sprinkles before I put it in the fridge.
No complaints from the resident locusts so it must be edible ;)

One of those days...

My precious baby boy (shhh don't tell him I just said that) is a selective mute. What that means is that he only talks to our immediate family. He chats away to his hearts content, screams and shouts in the most impressive way, and can talk over the top of his brothers to gain control of a conversation...but only when it is just the family. As soon as he gets to school he refuses to utter a word. When friends ask him a question they will get nothing more than a smile. He has a dynamite smile by the way. There are people who have known him since he was a mere bump in my belly- but they have never heard him speak.

We have searched high and low for support for him. Selective Mutism is not a recognised disability (I can only hope that the introduction of the National Disability Insurance scheme changes that) which means that there is no funding or support agencies. At the moment we are working with a private agency- The Selective Mutism Clinic at St. Leonards. I found them after many, many hours of googling!! Crazy to think that after years of requests for support and direction it came down to google. It was not a referral from a GP, psychologist or paediatrician- all of whom we have seen in the meantime. Our former GP tried the aggressive approach by cornering him to get him to talk- FAIL!!! AND a new GP. The Paediatrician wanted to put him on anti- depressant meds with no evidence to support it! We had a wonderful psychologist who helped him address the social anxiety he has, but it just wasn't enough to get him talking. In frustration and desperation I decided one day that there HAD to be something else out there. You know how when you start to google it takes you along a yellow brick road and you wonder if you will ever, ever find Emerald City. Well I got there and I think I may have found 'The Wizard'. The Wizard of course equates to high expense, but so far we can see amazing growth. Heart, brains and courage are absolutely the essence of it all. Jonas and I are on this journey together and we are bringing the Munchkins along for the journey (that's you Eric, Campbell and Andrew).  I was terrified when I realised it was all in my hands to make it happen. I have also taken extended leave from work so that I can follow-up with the program at school. The pressure is on and I only have one term to make it happen. Can I have a new pair of shiny red shoes to help me on my way???

There have been great days, the joy I have felt by being just the Mummy is something I could never measure. Joe is fully aware that I am taking time off work just for him and he is bursting with happiness. As lovely as that is, I feel so terribly sad that I will be forced to go back to our very busy life soon enough, and that he won't feel like the centre of my universe any more.

However, today was one of those days were you just have to let it all go in that hysterical laugh at the end of the day.

During my leave I go to school with Jonas at least 3 days each week to work with his teacher (and sneakily fit in as many other visits as I can get away with) . For the first 3 weeks of my leave the teacher was off sick with shingles and we couldn't do what we needed to do. I went along with my own thing anyway and we coasted along nicely.
Today his teacher forgot (or got too busy) to come to our appointment. In addition, the $190 phone call between the teacher and the Selective Mutism Clinic (yes it really does cost us that much for a phone call) was cut short 30 minutes early because his teacher had to go back to her class sooner than anticipated. I got the bill via email for the full amount regardless. If anyone knows how hard it is to juggle a class without additional responsibilities it's me! I get it, but I was kind of smiling that fake smile of understanding at the time. This clinic is making the most amazing difference and we need them, but I am starting to think we will have to fashion clothing out of old blankets this winter ;)

To top it off we rushed about to get ready for swimming lessons after school, passing cozzies around the room, a flurry of jumpers and trackie dacks. A quick, early dinner before we set off into the Autumn air. It all appeared to come together, like it usually does. When Drew's class was over and Joe had to strip off for his I realised he was standing there in a pair of undies!!! I did that ppffttt thing and laughingly said "where are your cozzies?" Joe looked down in horror and declared that he must have forgotten to put them on under his trackies. I did that mad scurry within my he can't swim in undies.... Hey boys quickly go and swap pants- Hurry!!... as if they would be willing...who could blame them. So off we went. Up to the shops so I could withdraw some money to pay for my Mother's Day present at school tomorrow!!!

It was just one of those days.

There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home.....

Hey Toto- Kansas was over-rated!!! Baulkham Hills is the place to be these days. That's where you hear hysterical laughter coming out of houses all the time ;)

I love you my Jojo x

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The weekend of me!

This weekend has been such a selfish one- it was all about ME!!

I booked in to do a jewellery making course when I got home from Melbourne. I was inspired by Victoria Mason & so disappointed that I wouldn't be able to flit back and forth to Melbourne to do her jewellery workshops. She spoke with such passion about what she creates (you can get a feel for it here on her blog) and I wanted to be able to create something with my hands & heart too.
I found Square Pegs Studio & a fabulous 1 day workshop. At least if it really wasn't my thing I didn't have to keep going back. I really loved it and I do want to go back every week. Eric was so impressed with my finished product that he wants a go too. Wouldn't it be fun to do it together!!!

I pressed a leaf pattern into the surface of the silver. Mine was very simple compared to some others- but I love the simplicity. 

Then today I headed into Mosman to soak up the glorious sunshine and to explore the Confetti Fair. So today it was just all about party prettiness and I loved everything I saw! 
All of those lucky ducks who get to plan parties as their JOB!!! How is that even possible?

It was a lovely weekend to myself, but I'm not in a hurry to have another....I missed my boys. 
I guess its very true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I'm off to have a cuddle on the lounge :)

Friday, 3 May 2013

National Disability Insurance Scheme

My beautiful son Campbell is 14 years old. I am really not sure how he got to be a young man so quickly- it was completely against my will.

I love him so much I think my heart is about to burst out of my chest right now. He is lovely and funny and charming and quite clever. I could not have ever wished for a child who would make me so proud- and then I was blessed with two more!
Campbell has cerebral palsy and he is also autistic. They are the trickiest of his disabilities, but he also has a vision impairment, epilepsy and hydrocephalus (which is managed with a shunt). He is also the first one in our family to speak up when he see an injustice, when he thinks someone is hurt or sad or needs some love. We have faced some very trying times together and he has often found it difficult to express his frustrations. I have had too many times felt like a bad mother and struggled to find the strength to fight the next battle. I feel like I know and understand him now- I know what will upset him before he does. I predict the stresses before they can cause upset. I can read the signs.

I know that there will be plenty of people who will resent the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Many who cannot understand why they should have to pay the bill for something that doesn't even effect them. I do understand that. I resent the fact that I have no choice but to work full-time in order to support my family. That as high as our needs are, with so many hours needed to attend appointments, as well as meet the general family needs, I have to work if we are to pay our bills.

I am not even sure if Campbell will benefit from this scheme, but if he doesn't he does have a loving family who will continue to work to support him.

There are too many people who do not have that.

Please take a moment to watch this.

Speculation is running high about how the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be funded and whether Australia can afford it.
Athlete Kurt Fearnley gave a riveting Australia Day address this year, where he called for urgent action on the NDIS.
Watch and share this video and help us get to 30,000 views before Budget Day on May 14.

If you know Campbell and admire his strength please share it.

Thank you xxx

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

To march to the beat of her own drum.

Yesterday I had a beautiful moment of clarity. I realised what I need in my life, in order address that ever present sense of feeling overwhelmed, to allow me to continue to breathe even when the busy realities of life take over. Something to stop me from almost hyperventilating when I feel like I simply cannot fit that long list into one short day. The trick to finding balance between the family I adore and my demanding career. What will enable me to shift from work to family without one or the other (or both!) falling apart?

It was a painting of a woman pounding a drum, her head was held high, her hair was flowing around her. She was at ease and in control. She was simply setting the pace. She was marching to the beat of her own drum.

I had to question why it was so meaningful and why I was so drawn to that image. What does it mean to march to the beat of your own drum? How do you know how to find the right rhythm so that everything flows and follows that beat too....

I decided it should be the beating of my heart. Our heart beats at exactly the pace we need. Sometimes a little bit faster or slower in order to meet the demands of the moment and then it steadies back into the rhythm that keeps everything in balance.

The heartbeat that can soothe a baby to sleep and keep the blood flowing through our bodies.  How vital it is and how did I not notice that it was there all along reminding me what the pace should be.

Now I can understand why I have felt so heartbroken and so out of rhythm when my life gets out of balance.

I have to learn to listen to my heart.
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