Tuesday 31 December 2013

That was 2013. Phew, what a year!

I do love having a good old 'look back' and getting all sentimental, so here comes another of those 'review' posts. Obviously I'd rather be out partying tonight, but this comes a very close second (and I do get to watch the gorgeous Gary Barlow on the box later, so it's not all bad). For the past two years I've written a little note to go in with our decorations as I pack them away, and every December I love reading my notes again and remembering all the good which has happened, and now I can do it on my blog too, yippeee! I realise I should have written this much earlier in the day as by now most friends will be too sozzled to read... but hey, it's for me mostly anyway. Words and some pictures - that's what blogging is all about, after all!

2013 was quite a year. Plenty of baking, which makes me happy.
In January I started my first job since giving birth to Sasha. I did work almost right up to Sasha's due date, but it's been a long 6 years since then! I hadn't actually planned to return to work, but an opportunity came up at the office of a local charity called ADD-vance, who help families with children with autism and ADHD. 
More recently I've been doing some extra training work presenting our story of having a child diagnosed with autism to the local council, as they learn about all the changes which the new Children and Families Bill will bring for them and for families of children with SEN (Special Educational Needs).

In February I wrote a difficult post, using words which are still full of meaning to me: 'Different, not less'. The subject of schooling for our autistic girl cropped up a lot in my blog over the year and will still be very much on the agenda for 2014. We will have to work even harder to get it right as she moves into a new school with new staff in September, but we will of course do our very best. My most read post on this blog this year was on the subject of schooling, written in October: Schooling for High-Functioning Autistic Children.
In March we enjoyed the annual PTA quiz, Tamsin suggested her Sponsored Silence for Comic Relief, and I got to spend some time (see pic!) with lovely bloggers and the MP Edward Timpson, at Westminster, discussing the new SEN Bill changes. That's quite a variety of activities there!
In April we had the chance to attend Moshi Monsters' 5th Birthday party, which was amazing. A certain Mr C completed the incredible feat of completing his first ever London Marathon. May saw lovely family days as we celebrated Tamsin's First Holy Communion and then her 8th birthday.
June was when Sasha turned 6, and a couple of days later on my birthday, we made our first trip to Great Ormond Street to try and get a more detailed diagnosis for her. We believe she has a certain type of autism called PDA - Pathological Demand Avoidance. There was a long delay following that appointment, but we've now received the date for returning for the 3 hour session of testing (gulp!) and in a few weeks I hope to be posting more on that.

In June we had a lovely family trip away to Paultons Park, a fab place to visit, especially for a Peppa fan! 
Then in August we had another great family time, at the Lollibop festival. Brilliant photos, happy memories.

September was when I started to get back into blogging in a bigger way. First I was extremely lucky and won a ticket to attend the MADS awards (where I met the gorgeous Dr.Ranj, then attempted, and dismally failed, to look good in a cocktail dress on a surfboard).

Then I won tickets for the fabulous Wear It For Autism event run by Anna Kennedy, and following that I was proud to join in and be a part of the Mumsnet #ThisIsMyChild campaign. 

We had a very happy trip back up to stay with my parents in my hometown, where my not-so-little eight year old conquered The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach - another proud moment for me! We also enjoyed a trip to meet friends at Center Parcs - Sasha's favourite place to go on holiday. She's already told me she wants to go there for our summer holidays - fingers tightly crossed someone liked this post then.....

October, November and December were all very busy blogging months where we were lucky enough to be offered plenty of opportunities to review products. Lots of toys, which took me back to my days as a Toy Buyer BC (Before Children, I'm not that old...).
I also attended the Britmums Morrisons Christmas 'Do' and BlogFest run by Mumsnet (#penisbeaker anyone?), where I really enjoyed another surfboard (ahem) and meeting up with lots of bloggy friends, old and new. Too many to name, although all are very special people and I hope they know how much I've enjoyed reading their blogs and spending time with them. Orli, Jane, Claire, Renata, Steph, Hayley, Tania, Debs, Nickie, Marylin, Fiona, Victoria, Candi, Jazzy, Deb, Anne, Jenny, Helen, Molly, Mich, Gemma, Penny, and many, many others, thanks all for your support.
We celebrated NYE a day early with good friends yesterday, and with those amazingly kind and supportive friends I've also enjoyed chocolate making, wine and tapas tasting, 80s parties and Cirque Du Soleil - plenty of fun times together this year (and Gary Barlow at the end of last year, gone but never forgotten...).
Online support has meant a lot to me this year, and I have to mention my amazing PDA Facebook group (was particularly fab to meet Lucy, Julia and others this year!) who all come together as a team to provide each other support through the difficult times. If you can do one thing for me in 2014, please look at the new and improved PDA resource page at www.thepdaresource.com and help me spread the word about this condition. Our children are not naughty, and it is not bad parenting. I would love to see greater understanding and tolerance.

We had an amazing summer holiday with great friends who made everything so easy and who I'm really looking forward to seeing soon in the New Year. 

We saw family of course in 2013, and in January was the first time for 3 and a half years that my parents, brothers and I have all been in the same place together. Hope we can do it again in 2014. 

Having looked back over all my other photos, I can see there is SO much more that went on this last year but I realise I do need to stop somewhere, so here it is. 
2013 was a FAB year, Cheers to you all and here's hoping 2014 can be just as fantastic!!