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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Siblings {February 2017}

My two girls, just before we set out to play invisible football in the local park, in the pitch black. Two of us were actually quite scared (there are seriously no lights in there); one was adamant that invisible football was what she was going to do that evening, no matter what. As it's rare for her to leave the house without a fuss, who was I to argue?! Invisible football is not so called because it's so dark you can't see the ball... it's because there actually is no ball and we have to run up and down a pitch pretending that there is and trying to take the ball from each other and score while someone does a running commentary. Hilarious. For the first ten minutes.

The Siblings Project photo linky is usually set for the 15th of each month and I try to get as close to that date as possible. This month, though, there were other notable happenings on that date which stopped me from posting.

It was my lovely Mum's birthday that day, and it was also the day I attended the funeral of Daisy, the daughter of my blogging friend Steph who writes at Was This In The Plan. I wanted to take this opportunity to share this picture; I'm sure wonderful Daisy will be remembered by many and I'd like to send her siblings some extra special love and virtual strength.

On the 15th, my two girls were taken up to stay with their grandparents for a couple of days so that their parents could get on with the somewhat onerous task of painting the house which is being renovated. This was a picture of us all together just before they left:

I'm happy to say they are back with us now, after a fun time away, and we managed to get a fair bit of paint on walls - look out for another renovation update soon!

The Me and Mine Project

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Monday, 13 February 2017

Tricky times

Today wasn't exactly a bright start to the half term holiday week. 

That's probably the understatement of the year. 

I spent half an hour lying on the floor next to Sasha, sobbing as she put her arm round me and even stroked my head.

Luckily, our eldest girl was out having fun with one of her friends today. They went to see the new movie, Sing. I'd have loved to see that movie. I'd hoped, after our Christmas holiday success with going to see Trolls at the cinema three times, that Sasha might have wanted to go and watch Sing.

She said no. She says no to most things these days.

I'm struggling to find a way to get through to her, to convince her to leave the house for any activity at all. Her only hobbies, she tells me, are the laptop or iPad, playing Minecraft and Roblox, or watching YouTube.

Stephs Two Girls painting

Of course she has had other interests, but these days they're not often mentioned. Swimming or roller skating used to be a guaranteed reason for her to leave the house, but they're no longer working. She's tried after school clubs, including gymnastics, dance and drama, and all bar one have failed. 

She's mostly to be found lying on the floor playing on the laptop, or sitting on the sofa watching YouTube. On rare occasions she'll play Skylanders, or Mario, Kirby or a.n.other Nintendo game. We do have small flashes of the old Sasha - the couple of times she's been happy painting in our new house, or when she's decided to make a chocolate ombre cake for her young cousin, for example.

Sasha's chocolate ombre cake design

It doesn't help that I've recently been creating photo yearbooks from when the girls were young, and there are so many happy photos of us out having fun together. I miss that.

Part of me thinks I shouldn't be confessing this lack of activity and focus on screen time out loud; that 'someone' will come round and deem me an unfit mother. Or that others will judge and think they can do a better job. Surely I just need to force her outside?

Anything I do with Sasha takes a lot of careful thought and planning. Sure, I can force her out, but I'd then pay for it afterwards. That's always been the case; there's nothing new about that. 

However over the last few months, there's been a marked decrease in her activity, and her happiness. This seems to directly relate to her increased anxiety and struggles at school. She needs to de-stress more at home to compensate. I've allowed this 'falling into a rut' to happen, therefore I must be a rubbish mum. I just don't know what else to do.

That's why I was crying. I'd got to the point today where I had tried everything to persuade her to leave the house, or even to stay in the house and do some activity with me. She was having none of it, telling me I'd interrupted her at the wrong time, that she hated reading, that 'when kids get older they just do what they want to do'. She doesn't want to do anything, and yet she says the laptop all day is boring, boring, boring - but says that anything else would be boring too, so she won't do anything.

She told me to go out of her room and shut the door, again. So I flipped. I said that maybe it would be better if I just left her altogether, seeing as she didn't want to do anything with me. I'm not proud of saying it, but I'd just had enough.

I left the room, and five minutes later she followed, to stomp upstairs to her own room where she proceeded to cry noisily in a very put-on sort of way, whilst kicking the bed. She was crying angrily that it was terrible that her mum was shouting at her (I hadn't actually shouted, but I had, for once, made my feelings very clear. She didn't like it).

I went to her, to lie with her quietly, to calm her down. I didn't talk, and she didn't say much either. 

I couldn't stop the tears. She knew I was upset, and tried to comfort me in her own way, with a small arm around me, by lying on me and squashing me, by stroking my hair in an awkward way, and then finally by kissing my head (she hates kisses).

Of course all this just made me cry more. You see, there was no understanding of why I was upset, no apology, no intention to change her mind about doing anything. She walked straight back to her screen without giving it another thought. Until bedtime, when she said in a very matter of fact way 'oh, this is like when you were lying down earlier'. This though, is not defiance and selfishness. This is her disability. This is Pathological Demand Avoidance. And that is the other part of why I was crying.

Of late it's become more apparent to me quite how much of a disability this is for her. She's told me several times over the past few weeks that she doesn't know the right words to use, that she just can't explain herself. I feel her pain; I'm finding it difficult to explain this to others, to be honest. That's my main reason for sharing a less positive day on here. In some ways, Sasha's brain seems to function at a higher level than some of her peers, and yet in others she is so far behind in terms of understanding and awareness.

We are entering a much trickier phase of her life than we've yet encountered, with decisions about secondary school needing to be made imminently, puberty just around the corner and mental health issues looming as she realises just how different she is. 

Tricky for us, tricky for her. Some days all of this seems beyond difficult.

Spectrum Sunday

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Friday, 10 February 2017

House Renovation - Part 9

House renovation is still underway - another month has flown by and each week has been crammed full of decisions for the house (alongside everything else that has been going on for the girls and us). I never knew there were so many different choices for bathroom items! 

Stephs Two Girls painting

My head is spinning from looking through too many catalogues and browsing web pages, and we still have taps and radiators to decide on. Good news though; we have finalised 'most' of the kitchen details and can happily say it's been ordered and will be fitted at some 'as-yet-to-be-determined' point in the future.

'As-yet-to-be-determined' is the cause of a tiny bit of frustration creeping in... as you'll see from the update video below, so much has happened in the house over the past few weeks, and yet it feels like there is plenty still to be done. We were hoping to move around Easter time, but our builder is refusing to be drawn on when the house might be ready for us. There's a lot of teeth sucking if we ask 'when?' but I've heard that's quite common from builders, and as we're pleased with the work done so far, we will have to let him off... for now.

Particularly happy times were had last weekend when we managed to get two little helpers in to paint the undercoat of the loft room. Despite the freezing temperatures in the house, they had a very good go at it for an hour or so before dashing out to warm up by enjoying a little made up obstacle course in the back garden. It's lovely that they are able to feel a part of the whole renovation project - though I somehow think they are happy to be ducking out of my marathon half-term painting session coming up next week.

So that's the top and first floors with windows in, walls all plastered now and ready to paint. Small matter of a delivery or two (bath, showers, toilets etc!) to manage but we are definitely getting there.. at some point!

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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Vileda Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket (review)

Although I do actually love a good carpet, we are going to have plenty of flooring in our new house and so I figured I should probably take the time to review a product which I will make good use of when we move - the Vileda Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket.

Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket

Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket

The items come packaged separately for ease of carrying the box home but they are very quick and easy to put together. The handle extends to whatever length you need it to be - great news if your partner is much taller (or smaller) than you!

Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket

The mop itself has a microfibre head which is triangular in shape, to help get into hard to reach areas. The red parts of the head mean it has an improved particle pick up, and the whole head is machine washable. The mop bucket, whilst light to carry, feels sturdy, and the handle is unusually set on lengthways, which makes it much easier to carry. The key selling point of the whole product is the foot operated wringer which means the dampness of the mop can be controlled. Just a few presses down on the pedal with your foot spins the inside section and the mop is almost dry again - hardly any effort involved, which is a winner in my book!

Easy Wring Clean Turbo mop and bucket

It might sound a little extreme to say I was impressed with a mop... but I honestly was. This is much better than others I've tried before, and I would totally recommend it. Perfect for tiles, wood and laminate so pretty much anything goes (but not carpet)! Available now at all the usual good homeware places but currently on sale direct from the Vileda website.

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Friday, 3 February 2017

SEND Stars 9

It's time for the next post in my SEND Stars series, where I introduce you to the blogger behind the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) blog.

All the people answering my questions have a life which involves SEND in some way. So much more going on for them than I can cover with a few basic questions, but it's still nice to hear a little bit about them. 

Everyone loves a bit of extra support, so if you can pop over and like their Facebook page, or read and comment on a post, I know it would be much appreciated.

Time for Blogger Number 9 in the series.... and another cracking photo!


Hexmum blog family

Who are you and how old are you? 

I’m Mandi Morrison and I celebrated my 40th birthday this year.

Who else is in your family and what are their ages? 

I live with my husband Asa, who is a couple of years older than me, and our seven children, Xene (18), Lochlan (16), Neva (13), Kaide (11), Eowyn (8), Tyrus (5) and Viggo (3)  

Which members of your family have SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) or additional needs, and what are those needs? Is there an official diagnosis and if so, what is it, at what age was it given and by who? 

Tyrus has ASD with additional sensory issues.

Is there an official diagnosis and if so, what is it, at what age was it given and by who?

Tyrus was given his diagnosis in June 2016, after his case went before an Autistic Diagnostic panel, and I was given it by his paediatrician, the second one he has had, and has now left the position, so we have no idea who will be at his next appointment!

Can you list the job roles of everyone you've been involved with on your SEND journey so far? 

I knew from quite an early age that Tyrus had additional needs, after having five children previously, you just know! I raised my concerns with the SENCO at his preschool, we’ve had involvement from the Early Years Adviser, Health Visitor, Speech & Language therapist, Paediatrician(x2), Occupational therapist appointment is in December and we are currently waiting for the educational psychologist to assess Tyrus for his EHCP. I am currently attending an Early Birds + course, along with his class teacher, which is amazing, and I would recommend any parent that is given the opportunity to enrol.

Are your children in school (if so, what type of school) or home educated? 

Tyrus is in mainstream school, a small Primary that all of his siblings have attended, he has additional support in the classroom and an IEP, he is still following the Early Years curriculum for some elements of his learning, but he loves school.

What would you like others outside the SEND community to know about your child's condition? 

Tyrus is just like any other 5 year old boy, he has a wicked sense of humour and he knows exactly what is going on, it’s just that he sees the world slightly differently, he has trouble expressing how he is feeling and he has no sense of danger, which makes life interesting, he has six amazing brothers and sisters that are helping him to communicate with the world, I am very lucky that his classmates have know him for quite a while and they accept him for who he is, he is never excluded and always gets invited to parties and activities, although most of the parents know he won’t attend, but it is lovely that they treat him like everyone else, it makes me very sad when I see stories of children being excluded from events, just because they are a little different, if I could give one piece of advice to parents outside of SEND it would be to look past the exterior and get to know the person deep within, it is so worthwhile, teach your children to accept everyone and never exclude someone because they appear slightly different.

Tell us a fact or funny story about you or your life which is totally unrelated to SEND.....  

I am partial to a bit of fancy dress! We have at least three Rugby Socials each year and every one of them is Fancy dress, so much, that I have an entire wardrobe full of costumes (you can’t be seen in the same outfit two years in a row!) Thankfully most of the children and Asa love dressing up too, we once went to a surprise 40th dressed as an entire family of The Incredibles.


Mandi writes two blogs; you can find her at Hex Mum plus 1 www.hexmumblog.com and Big Family Little Adventures www.bigfamilylittleadventures.co.uk and on the following social media handles:
@hexmumplus1 on twitter/fb/Instagram/pinterest

@bigfamilies for twitter
@bigfamilylittleadventures on fb/Instagram and pinterest

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