Monday, January 12, 2015

A New Year ..

We are but a few weeks into 2015 and I am already in a 'tizz' - how is it that Christmas and New Year have come and gone?
We had our first calm and happy Christmas with Dom. 
We carefully orchestrated the day so as to not overwhelm him like we have done years prior. There was controlled enthusiasm on receiving gifts, not the squealing and shrieks of excitement from yours truly, but gentle smiles and encouragement. I have to say, it worked a treat. We had an 'emergency vehicle' themed Christmas, where Dom received two ambulances that both flash blue lights furiously and make the most horrible noise, much to our distress but Dominic's enjoyment. 
We played happily with beautiful cousins, and enjoyed yummy food. It was perfect.
Last Christmas I cried out of despair that my little boy was so unhappy and distressed. He screamed hysterically as his cousins played happily in their pool - 'I don't know what's wrong with him?'... 
I think I must have repeated that over and over again that day. 
This year with the diagnosis of Autism, although our hearts were broken, we now understand Dominic so much more, and he is clearly thriving as a result. My little family has come out of 2014 stronger, wiser and more resilient than ever. We have a long road ahead of us, but we have come out of 2014 feeling happy, loved, determined and so supported.

We have spent the past couple of weekends chilling out. Incorporating early intervention here and there, watching trains (of course), listening to music, talking about numbers and our favourite episodes of 'Thomas the tank engine' - enjoying each others company.

I have a few New Years goals - not resolutions so much, but goals.
Since Dom's diagnosis, I feel as though our little family has stopped taking risks. We keep Dom strapped in his pram in public, in fear of him having a meltdown or running off to the nearest ATM to press numbers furiously. Any peep that he has made at the shops we have felt stressed out about, despite the fact that other children of the same age are all screaming and demanding at the shops too. Yet somehow, we feel as though everyone is looking at us! Silly, I know. So, I declare 2015 about taking risks and being brave. 
We are going to go on short holidays. We are going to the park and to have more play dates - with what time I am not sure, but the intention is absolutely there. And we are going to walk! We are out of the pram people with our heads held high ;) As you can imagine my list is a mile long, but you get my drift.

On the weekend for the first time ever, Dominic and I walked to my parents house. They live 10 minutes away, 25 minutes if you stop to look at the ducks on the brook and talk to the dogs at the dog park.
Dom was running ahead of me and kept turning around and smiling - a truly contented and beautiful little smile. At one point he was strolling next to me and he looked up and said, 'Dominic happy, Mum'.
I could have cried... ok, I did get teary. 

This year with my lovely little blog, I am not committing to any writing schedule. If I can get a post up every week, I am doing well. In the meantime, I am 'all over' instagram like a crazy woman, so you can always find us there. 

Hope you are all well, lovely friends.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Taking stock.. (week 1)

Meet me at Mikes is one of my favourite blogs. Pip Lincolne is seriously clever and crafty, and comes up with some great ideas for her blog. She started the idea of 'TakingStock' and I thought I would give it a go - giving you an idea of what we have been up to since my last post, in a more interesting format. 
Here we go ...
Taking: Many a photo with my instagram account. Are you following me yet?
Cooking : The Healthy Chef's Blueberry muffins. I also made the The Healthy chef's Banana Bread (gluten free). No photos of either - eaten far too quickly.

Drinking : Coffee..

Reading: (read) Alexandra Cameron's 'The Gift' - It was great! Otherwise have been immersing myself in this months Inside Out, Home Beautiful and Real Living magazine's.

Wanting: So many things from Gorman's spring collection - the colours and fabrics are amazing. This is a purchase I will definitely be making. This Bohemian Traders skirt and dress are a must purchase too.

Looking: Blonde again thanks to my buddy Nadine from Cheveux Design and espresso, here in Brisbane. An afternoon with Nadsy is truly therapeutic and you come away looking pretty sharp too - love your work Nadsy ;)

Playing: Puzzles... lots of freakin puzzles, over and over and over again. We have now mastered 24 piece puzzles at the ripe and old age of 3.5!

Deciding: Our plans for early intervention for Dominic next year. 

Wishing: For a holiday on a beach... preferably Fiji. Imagine the cocktails and the serenity...

Enjoying: Time to myself.. when I actually have it, I savor it.

Waiting: For a certain someone to have their afternoon sleep.

Wondering: When I plant my veggie patch, will the possums or bush turkeys get to it first? :)       
Loving: My new Saltwaters and Basket from Larkstore.

Considering: My breakfast options this week.. thinking this idea could be a cracker! The Green Kitchen Stories still remains one of my favourite blogs and cookbook.

Watching: Wonderland.... I am a bit hooked. Don't think less of me. I am also loving Jimmy Fallon on iview.

Making : Decisions, lots of decisions and lots of healthy snacks.

Hoping: To shave my legs in the not too distant future.

Marvelling: At all the beautiful gardens we pass on our daily walk.

Needing: More hours in the day - preferably for sleep and reading.

Smelling: Jasmine when we go for our daily walks.

Wearing: skirts... lots of skirts and dresses this spring/summer.

Following: Styling You... I love Nikki's blog. She has great ideas on creating your own sense of style.. something I feel I have lost lately.

Noticing: Flowering Jacaranda trees. I found one lone purple flower on our back deck early last week, looked up and their she is - our Jacaranda Tree flowering in all her glory!

Knowing: A little bit more about Mental Illness after watching 'Changing Minds' on the ABC this week. Did you watch it? Yes, we did watch Jack's story too and were equally amazed :) Such is the power of early intervention for children with Autism.

Thinking: Probably too much... as usual :)

Feeling: Positive and eager all mixed together.

Sorting: Out my piles of paperwork. I am so disorganised it is a disgrace!

Buying: Or should I say paying, for a root canal - I am getting so old, even my teeth are dying :)

Getting: Excited about Christmas and having a little bit of time off - bliss.

Disliking: Blogs that are preaching about dietary changes and becoming sugar free. I am a big believer in healthy eating but 'hello'! I love Pete Evans cookbook but he plummeted in my estimations earlier this month when he commented that following a Paleo Diet would reduce the occurrence of ASD. What the? No doubt that a healthy, additive and preservative free diet for children is ideal. Read this article for the story.

Opening: Bills.... blah.

Giggling: At the funny little things my little mate says...

Snacking: Nuts and home made yoghurt.

Wishing: I could find my sunglasses.

Helping: Clean up the garden.

Hearing: Little Butcher Birds chirping from a nest outside. 
Covetting: One of these (below). You will be mine Lovestar vase. The perfect birthday present.. hint.. hint.. :)

the perfect addition to any gallery wall: a heart vase!

Image from Pinterest click on photo for link.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Past weeks ...

So, where are we at. We now have a certain diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Not provisional as we first thought. We found out Wednesday. I cried. It wasn't as if it was a shock, or something we did not already suspect but hearing it from Dom's Developmental Paediatrician who is renowned for being very conservative and cautious in diagnosing children, let alone our darling little three year old with a life long disability (Autism), it seemed awfully final. The Paediatrician apologised. With most illnesses you can pop a pill, take antibiotics and the illness and symptoms in time subside. Early intervention will no doubt help Dom considerably (we hope), but Autism will be with us forever. Having said that, we are actually doing pretty well and my little mate is as happy as ever.
Dom needs determined people to advocate for him and he has found those people in our family, particularly in me - I am fiery at the best of times! We are determined to take early intervention 'by the horns' and not let Autism take over our lives or the happiness of our family. Autism will not define Dominic, but will know doubt provide him with ample challenges.

A friend suggested that I write a post about the signs and symptoms of Dom's Autism and when I first realised something wasn't quite right. I can't really put my finger on it, and having said that there is a lot of normal 2-3 year old behaviours that can potentially be 'red flags' for ASD.
I certainly have had considerable concerns about Dom's behaviour since he turned two and overtime as he has matured, these concerns have only intensified.
Yes, in retrospect I feel like an idiot. I am a Child Health Nurse and Midwife. How could I not have noticed the signs earlier? I have thought long and hard about this. Not in a critical way - I can't turn back time and I know that I am a good mum. But I honestly think that we have been (and still are) so consumed in the perfection of our little boy, that we just unconditionally accepted/accept his 'quirks'.

So, where to start. Dom has never liked to be cuddled. As a baby he would almost balance
when you held him as opposed to leaning in and snuggling. I am pleased to say that we have worked hard on this and he will now 'allow' me to give him cuddles. I say 'allow' because he will rarely seek them from me. I think it is fair to say that Dom 'tolerates' the cuddles and kisses demanded by his needy Parents and Grandparents on a daily basis :)

Dom rarely cries (except in the early days when he cried all of the time!). We justified this with comments like, 'he just doesn't like a fuss'. His eye contact although improving greatly, was always poor and at best, brief. He has always played obsessively with toys - repeating the same action over and over again and he does no imaginative play. I am sure he thinks to himself when he sees other kids pretending to feed a doll, 'don't those kids know that dolls don't eat food?'

Dom never waved or pointed to things - an absolute 'red flag' for Autism. It is only in the last month that we have taught him how to wave - it is a completely un-natural thing for him, although he clearly loves the cheers and laughter he gets in response to his wave which is more like a flap :)
He will now point at things that he is counting or wants to show you, but we have had to teach him to do this. All these things for him, are not instinctive.

One significant behaviour that has distressed me greatly is Dom's inability to let us comfort him when he has hurt himself or is in pain. It always seemed that we were causing him more distress when
trying to comfort him. This would inevitably lead to melt-downs (far, far more intense than your average tantrum) where he would scream, throw things and at times become violent, hitting us repeatedly.

Earlier warning signs from when he was a baby was his (continued) obsession with the front loader washing machine, (at 9 months he would sit in front of the washing machine for an entire cycle -
depending on how many loads we needed to do, this could go on for a long time!) his obsession
 with the vacuum cleaner (spinning the wheels for hours on end and crying inconsolably if it was put away!) and ceiling fans. My goodness ceiling fans have been a MASSIVE obsession. As has the
DVD, coffee machine.... Should I go on? :) He has also always loved red lights. Dom loves numbers
and would sit in front of the stove and call out the red numbers on the digital clock while I cooked dinner. His knowledge of numbers is phenomenal, as is his memory.

Things finally came to a head about 3 months ago when we became considerably more concerned
about his tantrums and outbursts at home. Although he doesn't hit other children or his kindy
teacher's (thank goodness), he does hit those who love him most. Yes, even my beautiful Dad has copped a few bops on his bald head. Thankfully Dom's wonderful kindy teachers did their homework, expressed concerns about the fact that Dom doesn't socialise with other children, plays obsessively with toys as well as countless other concerns, and the rest my friends is history.

Dom can speak and what he can say, he says really well. You should hear him sing - he has a beautiful singing voice! He does not however, make conversation. He only communicates needs and wants. If I ask him how his day was at kindy, I am always met with silence. I cannot wait for him to have conversations with me. Having said that, he has a smile that can melt your heart and other ways that he communicates with you. You can tell when he has had a good day because his beautiful blue eyes are clear and sparkly - like when you hop out of a pool. On days where he is overwhelmed his eyes are heavy and almost cloudy, giving nothing away at all - deep in thought and troubled.

I could not write this post however, without also making comment on the wrong things to say to someone who has had a child diagnosed with ASD. I don't mean this to sound nasty, ungrateful or unkind but things have been said to me over the past couple of months that have caused me considerable frustration, often from well meaning people who have simply know idea what to say. 

Allow me if you will, to provide some feedback.
Making comments like, 'we are all on the spectrum though aren't we?' is not helpful. This comment
has been made in jest I get that, but there is a considerable difference between having little quirks that cause you no interruption to your daily life, compared to the enormity of and the undeniable distress of having Autism. It is beyond heartbreaking to see you child so upset and not be able to do a thing to help them.

This is similar to comments like, 'it could be so much worse'. We realise that but at this point in time, this provides me with little comfort.
Someone has even said to me, 'he could have cancer!' We are obviously beyond grateful that this is not the case, but again comments like these deny parents an opportunity to appropriately express their grief and sadness. My best friends response was perfect. She told me she was sorry. She didn't try to make it better, she allowed me to talk. I am yet (thankfully) to have anyone comment on whether I am concerned that immunising Dom, caused his Autism. 

So, there we go. We are ok. We will start intervention and eventually adjust to this diagnosis. I wonder how long it will take me to become completely comfortable with Dom's diagnosis, but remain beyond grateful to my Mum and Dad, family and wonderful friends who have shown me (us) such genuine love and concern over the past couple of months.
We are definitely a very lucky little family and so blessed to have such a beautiful little boy.

Normal Autism Awareness Quote  Donation to by AllisonBDesigns. , via Etsy. - challenging the norm!

Apologies for the crazy formatting on this post, but I wanted to publish this regardless. Once again, Blogger seems to be full of gremlins :) .....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Busy weeks and baking...

My little friend attends childcare on Monday and Friday.
If I am not recovering from night shift, I usually spend the day rushing around tidying, washing, vacuuming and trying to do a little baking. Like all mums, there is no 'down time,' but I always feel like I have had a productive day. I must confess today, I did however put my feet up momentarily to watch Wonderland - regrettable I know. :)

So, our week ahead is going to be full. I am working three shifts and we have 2 important appointments scheduled for Dominic. Both appointments are related to the outcome of his assessment for ASD and early intervention that needs to be commenced. I am feeling a mixture of emotions, but mostly positive and just eager to find out what the experts think we need to do. Lots of work ahead and decisions to be made.

In the spirit of positive thinking, I decided that I should make us a big fat chocolate cake. Although I still predominantly cook healthier foods, one should always make exceptions for treats don't you think? 
I got this recipe from BabyMac. If you haven't checked Beth's blog out, you really should.
The cake is called "Anne" (check her blog out for the reasons why), and according to Beth, is the 'perfect' chocolate cake.

Here is a photo of my version of 'Anne'. It was delicious - the perfect accompaniment to my pre-night shift coffee and will undoubtedly put spring into my step for what should be a very productive week.
Happy Tuesday lovely readers!

Don't forget to check out my instagram account

Friday, August 8, 2014

Life changes....

Lovely readers.......

So, I have been missing in action for sometime. I have deliberated long and hard about writing this post.
Do I need to even explain to you why I haven't written for so long? I do feel like I owe you an explanation though. I love this blog. I have missed this blog but there may be a few things that I mention from time to time now, that are new. That I haven't mentioned before. Quite a few things, life changing things have happened in our family since I last wrote.

I don't want to go into too much detail. It would take me days to write all the things that have happened in our little family over the past 6 weeks. Hopefully, by letting people know where we are at, they will understand why at the moment things that may be so easy for some families, like having a BBQ in the park, are just that little bit harder for ours. I hope that by letting people know about Dom's ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), you won't feel sorry for me/us - we are the lucky ones to have such a beautiful little boy after all. I just want you to be aware and maybe on the odd occasion, just let me 'vent' - through this little blog.

I will have some friends who read this post today, who I have not spoken to about Dominic. 
I am sorry that I haven't called you and told you personally. It is not the easiest conversation to have with people - 'Gee, the weather has been great hasn't it? Did I mention that Dom has ASD?' See what I mean? 
It does feel strange to even have the word 'Autism' feature in my conversations with people. I am still not a fan of this word. Hopefully in time I will feel differently. Nor am I a fan of the word 'disability'. If anything, I feel like being on the spectrum has the potential to 'en-able' Dominic in ways that you and I can only imagine.

We have had tremendous input from health care professionals so far, and a lot of care and support provided by our family and friends and for me, particularly my brilliant friends at work. 
Dominic is three, the greatest age to begin early intervention for ASD. 
Dominic talks - mostly when he wants something or has something that he wants to share with you. 
In our situation this is usually to talk about numbers ('1,3 and 5 are odd Mummy!) or trains. Boy, do we love trains - and home appliances :)
 The difference for Dom, unlike some children with ASD, is he is trying so hard to engage with us and people, particularly other children around him. He loves Montessori (we love his teachers too!) and he wants to be part of his little community. He is making that very clear to us and the health care professionals that have met him during his assessment process. This is tremendously reassuring. 
We have good reason to believe that with early intervention, he will thrive. Just to be able to ask him how his day has been and for him to answer us and smile, will be the most unbelievably brilliant day. For him to wave me off to work will be amazing! Dominic did wave when he was 9 months old. This soon stopped, never to be done again - in retrospect, one of our early warning signs.

We are not sure what early intervention will involve at this stage. I will keep you posted. 
In the meantime, I am back. 
I still love decorating, photography, baking and gardening except now, I am also the mother of a gorgeous little boy with ASD.


This photo was taken at the Kindy Disco a few weeks back. We did dance together but the disco lights were far more appealing :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grain Free Chocolate Granola (Paleo) ...

My friend Julie-Anne has generously shared some healthy Paleo recipes with me. Although I am not strictly following a Paleo diet, I am certainly still eating really well and have enjoyed so many of the Paleo recipes shared with me by Julie-Anne, with many others I have found on the net. 

This Grain Free Chocolate Granola (Paleo) recipe shared with me by Julie-Anne, originating from the Delighted Momma blog (click on this link for the recipe), is a winner and guaranteed to put a little bit of spring in your step. Especially on a Monday morning :)

I usually just blitz any of the nuts I have in the fridge (almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and chia seeds) in my food processor, and then follow the recipe - yummy!

I eat this Granola with yoghurt and strawberries, but in typical Monday morning style, we have devoured all the strawberries in the fridge over the weekend. No matter. It is Monday. The sun is shining. I have had my yummy bowl of crunchy chocolatey goodness and am off to do a heap of washing :)

Here's to a happy week friends.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

comfort food...

What a week. The rain, although greatly needed for the poor garden, has brought with it many parenting challenges. The tantrums have been coming thick and fast, highlighted of course with the odd funny story or impromptu cuddle, making you still realise things are ok. I am so glad that we don't live somewhere cold, where it rains all of the time. Dominic wouldn't cope! Nor would we for that matter :) 
My boy is an outdoors boy through and through.

I have found myself this morning in the need of a little comfort, in the form of food. Homebaked, sugar filled food. Namely, delicious Apple Cake.

Kate Berry from the Lunchlady (I love Kate's blog which features her photography and other projects too), featured this recipe during the week. It looked amazing and my word, it is scrumptious. I have already had two pieces and as I listen to the pouring rain on our tin roof and the coughing and spluttering of Dominic in the background (of course we are sick again!), for a brief moment there is peace in the world. 
Such is the power of baking. 

Admittedly, I could find the same comfort from a romantic comedy or a good decorating magazine, but homemade cake is just so good for the soul :)
Hope you have had a good weekend. 
Go make yourself an indulgent homemade cake and enjoy a warm cup of tea in this miserable weather.


Kate Berry has two websites, one called the Lunchlady and another separate website for her photography and other projects. She is super talented. Both links are provided in this post - enjoy!