Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back From Holidays

We spent the week leading up to Christmas away on holidays with most of my original family. I had drafted a couple of long posts to publish before we left, but I wasn't able to get them finalised in time. Although we are home now, 'busy' mode is still in full swing here, and we haven't even settled into our return home yet. Once we do, I will be able to share more about the trip away as well as publishing those other drafted posts. I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas, and just in case I don't get the chance to blog in before the new year, have a good one :)


Thursday, December 16, 2010

He Has Discovered.....

... light switches!

I was wondering when he would make this discovery. It's not unusual for ASD kids to have a thing for flicking light switches on and off. However, by normal developmental milestones, he should have discovered the light switch several months ago. As with many new things my little man does, I'm not sure if I should be pleased about this or if I should expect some frustration from it. I've already found lights switched on all over the house! Now I know why, hehe!

Can't help laughing, and can't help being happy. It's a new discovery after all :)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Paper Tree

This year, the Christmas tree never made it out of the garage. I won't go into the reasons why, suffice to say, that I am seriously annoyed about it. I was really hoping that my son would get a little more into it all this year, but we don't even have a decent Christmas tree to work with!! Well... I guess we still have the presents. I hope he gets that part this year. The big girls kept asking when we were going to put the tree up, and to have to tell them finally that it wasn't going to happen was going to break their little hearts. So before I had to tell them, I devised a plan for a substitute.

This is it.

Yup... it's a paper tree. Laugh if you want to! We had a roll of butcher paper from Ikea, not quite wide enough to draw the whole tree on it, so I drew two halves on separate pieces. We painted them, cut them out, then stuck them together. Then drew some baubles and such and coloured those in, and added some glitter glue for a bit more sparkle.

Once the glitter was dry we stuck them on the tree, along with some tinsel and coloured pom-poms - half of which right back off again - and gave the whole lot a good spray with glitter hairspray. Very blingy. We pegged it up where the original would have gone, and tucked in the extra tinsel into the blind slats around it, since we had no blu-tack to stick it anywhere else.

Miss Jane had to glue her bell right next to mummy's one. Too cute :)

The girls had a ball doing this. They kept saying it was the best tree ever. I just smiled. I was happy that they were so happy. Very pleased to see that they had gained a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction from their work in this mini project. But I must admit, I kind of felt sorry for them too.... a paper tree for Christmas? Poor kiddies LOL. Still though, this tree seems to have produced alot more positives than putting up the regular one would have.

There is one more advantage to this paper tree though; when we go away for our holiday next week, we'll be able to take it with us, so they can have a Christmas tree at the resort too. Just unpeg it and roll it up. Voile'!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mini Christmas Tree Cupcakes

For Miss Jane who has her class break up party tomorrow. Terrible pics as usual, and far from perfect anyway, but I'm sure the grade one's won't mind too much!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Little Green Caterpillar

No, it's not a caterpillar........ my cute little man does not eat vegetables, unless they are chopped small and mixed in with rice or hidden in a red pasta sauce. Last night I whipped up a quick fried rice dinner for him, since the rest of us were getting pizza - which he does not eat. He ate most of the vegetables in it, but managed to dodge a few peas. While I was busy with the baby miss, he amused himself by lining them all up. Too cute :)

PS. I hope the picture doesn't gross you out! Sorry if it does! LOL


Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Their Shoes

Last night, I went to a rock concert for the first time in my life. It was U2, and it was very good.

The four of us - myself, my hubby, SIL and her man - were all sitting and waiting for the main show to start. As I was taking in the enormity of the place (Etihad Stadium), and pondering the noise that so many thousands of people altogether make, my SIL leans over and says that it was going to get very loud. I smiled and said that was fine, I can handle loud noises. Besides, I am not pregnant and so I don't have to be worrying about any babies being affected. (It was something I used to worry about in movies and such LOL).

Then the concert actually began.

You are going to think me a terrible wuss for what I'm about to say.....

The lights went out to emphasis the stage lighting and the sound effects began. The bass vibes and rhythms were fantastic, but all I could concentrate on, was the feeling of my whole body being assaulted by those bass vibrations. It went through me in waves, making my heart - all my insides - tremble. I didn't like it one bit. I honestly thought my heart was going to stop. Suddenly, everything seemed too much. The darkness, contrasting lights, people everywhere - all this was full on, but I could cope with it until the sound turned up. On the verge of a panic attack, I turned and buried my face into my husbands arm... still terrified that my heart was literally going to stop. The concert had just started, and I couldn't wait for it to be over. More than once through those first few songs, I debated whether or not to actually leave the building....it was that much for me. Nausea settled into me and I felt sick to my stomach with fear, and those bass vibrations would not let up. I just want to highlight here, that I became afraid only because of the physical sensations that hit me.... it was not a mental thing as such.

In those short lulls between songs, I would find myself taking deep breaths. I didn't realise I had been holding my breath and tensing up so hard when the music was playing. Nevertheless, taking a mental hold of myself, I made a firm decision to ignore how I was physically feeling, and told myself that if thousands of people here can go through this and not drop dead, then I could too. Eventually, I became accustomed enough to the bass waves to relax a little and enjoy the concert a lot more.

It occurred to me that this could be how ASD kids might feel in situations that are overwhelming to them. I feel lucky that my little man doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by loud noises and busy environments. He loves trips to the shopping centre - all the colours and lights, sights and smells - he loves going into the big auditorium at church - loud music (not as bad as the concert though!), darkened room, stage lighting and church news presentations. But I imagined that other autistics who do have such sensitivities might feel the way I did when the concert first began. I am already mindful about anything that may put my son into sensory overload, but this concert experience has opened my understanding in a deeper way. If it was that much of a shock for me - an adult able to regulate myself and adapt to my environment, I can totally understand why it is so scary for them.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Country Women's Association of NSW Chocolate Cake

I got this recipe off the side of a packet of self-raising flour. Hehehe.... well it's true! Had to try it, only because it was from the Country Women's Association of NSW - and let me tell you, the country women of Australia can cook! - and because it had honey in the icing :P. And this intrigued me! Honey and chocolate icing.... yummmm!!

This cake is extremely easy to put together. I don't know if it's just me, or if it really is a characteristic of the Aussie country womens' baking, but I find that many recipes I get from country girls are easy-as-just-throw-it-all-together types. I like this. It makes baking seem more achievable when you're pressed for time or energy.

As for the cake itself... well... hmm... I honestly can't say it's anything more than a generic chocolate cake really. Not particularly rich. Not particularly moist or dry. I think it would be lovely layered with some strawberries and cream, but the icing in this recipe is also a delicious match. I really think it's the icing that gives this cake the 'yum' factor. It tastes a lot like a one of those Nougat Honey Logs. Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe!

Chocolate Cake

2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
125g softened butter or margarine (I always use butter!)
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180C conventional/160C fan forced. Grease and line a 20cm round deep cake tin.

Place all ingredients into the large bowl of a mixer and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed.

Pour into tin and bake for 1 hour 15 mins - 1 hour 30 mins, or until cooked*. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.

*Mine only took 1 hour, so be sure to check how it's doing after about 50 minutes!

Chocolate Honey Icing

Little note here: The recipe says to 'cream' the butter and icing sugar... personally, I don't see how you can cream 1 tablespoon of butter into 2 cups of icing sugar LOL, but I tried anyway. The butter kind of disappears into the sugar and the whole thing looks dry and a bit lumpy in parts. Just mix as well as you can and continue... it will all come together in the end!

2 cups icing sugar mixture
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Cream butter and icing sugar mixture in medium bowl.
Add cocoa and honey, stirring well to combine.
Add sufficient hot water to make a smooth icing - (about 3 tablespoons)

I'm enjoying a piece right now with a hot cup of tea.....


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spiral Down

I haven't written for a long time. The reason is that I haven't been feeling the best. I'm not sick or anything, just very down at the moment. Sometimes, things are just too much, and I feel like I can't cope anymore.

It's nothing in particular... just life in general. I can't say why it gets to me this way from time to time, but I know it does. Usually, I see the symptoms of it before I realise what's going on. I start to get behind on the housework... the washing piles up, there is a constant stream of dishes to be done; toys, papers, books all over the floor, overdue for vacuuming, bathrooms waiting to be cleaned.... I look around and don't know where to start. And there are so many other things to do besides the menial tasks required to maintain a home as well.

Quite honestly, I hardly get more than 20 minutes at a time to get any task done. Most of the time, I can deal with the constant interruptions - that's just motherhood. I have children, small ones who need my attention for various things all the time. But sometimes, it just gets annoying. I can't commit to getting a task done from start to finish unless children are asleep, and there is only so much TV that I will allow them to watch. Working through when my babies are sleeping also means that I don't get a break through the day, so I confess that whenever I can, I take that opportunity to rest. The times when I don't, I can hardly get through the day - and I'm not kidding.

The house is one symptom. Other things I start to notice (which are probably all connected anyway) are within myself.... I feel lost and more tired than usual. I can't seem to gather my thoughts and structure my day - even a simple tactic of making lists is hard! I stare at the paper and can't articulate my thoughts into words to write down. I have found myself staring at the kitchen bench, wondering what I went to do there. On the way to drop the girls to school one morning, I totally missed the turn-off into the street.... just kept driving. I start forgetting stuff. I struggle to cope with my sons tantrums, and the daily effort of dealing with him becomes so frustrating that I just want to sit down and cry.

At this point, when I become prone to tears, I usually start wondering what on earth is wrong with me. And then I get it. It all begins to make sense. These are all symptoms of depression. It's familiar, because I've had it before. And because I've had it before, I know that I am a little more susceptible to falling into it again.

So I'm in a bit of a downward spiral at the moment. The point where you recognise where you're at is usually enough to halt the fall for me, but halting it is not necessarily the same as coming back out. Climbing up the spiral takes work. As if I haven't got enough to do already.....

I have to say, through all of this most recent trench, my husband has been wonderful. He has not pressured me to get things done around the house, not asked why dinner hasn't been cooked (kids had 2 minute noodles) - in fact, he went back out one night and bought home some Indian takeaway for us. The days where I've made what feels like a colossal effort to get the place in order, he compliments me and says how he appreciates my efforts. In this gentle, no-pressure manner, he motivates me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make my way up again. I can't say how much it means to me that he doesn't guilt trip me over the state of things... especially when I'm already beating myself up over it all.

Anyway, November is not over yet. Hopefully, I will be able to add in a couple more blog entries before the end of the month. Lots of baking to do, some cute things to report, and hopefully, a more positive note to end the month on.

Despite it all, I am still smiling. I hope you are too :)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Don't Blow Your Nose!!

When hubby blows his nose, it sounds like a trumpet. I'm sure you know what I mean. I'm sure you've heard someone blow their nose that way before... maybe even you!

When he does this, little man becomes extremely annoyed, and comes running over to either me or his dad screaming his protest with his brow lowered in serious irritation. It's so funny to watch. He doesn't react this way with anyone else, only my husband. I guess the trumpety sound bothers him some.

Unfortunately, hubby has alot of hay fever recently, and has been blowing his nose alot. Little man can hear everything going on in the lounge room from his bedroom, which is just off the main living areas. We first noticed his distress over it one night, when poor hubby was afflicted particularly badly with unrelenting hay fever. Little man would scream his protest from his room every single time hubby blew his nose. I felt so sorry for them both! When I went in to help settle and check on my son, he really did seem to be distressed... as though he wasn't too sure what the noise was that he was hearing. I didn't have the heart to tell hubby not to blow his nose so loudly though, because he was already extremely annoyed and frustrated.

In the end, I couldn't help but point out the correlation between when hubby blew his nose and when the boy would scream. Hubby got the point, and tried to keep the ruckus down. I felt sorry for him. Have you ever tried to blow your nose really quietly when the urge to trumpet it out is overwhelming?


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vanilla Cake: Egg & Dairy Free

We are very blessed to have no food allergies in my family. But I know plenty of others who do, and anytime we host new people at our home for a meal or party, I ask if there are any food allergies or intolerances. My aim is that everyone feels comfortable and welcome. There have been a few incidences in recent months that have all culminated into the inspiration to go ahead and explore some allergy-friendly recipes. Here is my first tested recipe.

The original post can be found here. I haven't really adapted it so much as change the name of some ingredients to what we know them as in Australia. It's super easy to make, which is always a bonus when you're time-poor.

A couple of tips!

1) Be sure to prepare your pan and oven first, because it is important to get the batter into the oven as soon as the last ingredient is added.

2) The last ingredient is the vinegar. You really need to work quickly when stirring it in, pouring into the pan and putting it into the oven. This is because the vinegar activates the bicarbonate of soda in the cake batter, producing the bubbles and aerating the cake. In other words, this is your raising agent. If it is left to sit too long before it goes into the oven, the bubbles will dissipate, and you will get a flat, rubbery cake.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 cup soymilk (I used vanilla flavoured)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C

Lightly grease and line an 8inch round or square cake pan.

Into a large bowl sift dry ingredients. Stir around with a wire whisk to distribute ingredients evenly.

Add all wet ingredients except vinegar. Whisk until no lumps appear and the batter is smooth.

Add vinegar, stir through quickly about 7 times and pour into the pan immediately.

Bake around 30 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

The cake turned out beautifully moist. It's not particularly fluffy, but not particularly dense either. Lovely vanilla flavour. In keeping with the egg-free dairy-free theme, I whipped up a quick frosting with......

2 tbsp Nuttelex (non-dairy spread)
1 cup pure icing sugar
2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Just beat it all up together till it's smooth and fluffy.

By the way, my daughers loved it... even the one who doesn't like creamy frostings!


Friday, October 29, 2010

A Croaky Moan

I don't know for sure, but I think little man has been trying to speak! Recently, he has been making a new sound - hardly noticeable at first but definitely different and definitely new. The sound was a little bit like a croaky moan...."Mmmmm" or maybe even "Nnnnnnn" ..... hard to tell. I told the Speechie about this new sound - he even did it while we were with her. But she said it was probably just a sigh or something. But only days later, he has added other sounds to it; a bit like "Nnnnnaaaaahhhhhbbbbbwwwfffffmmmm...".

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you try to scream or speak and it feels like your face is paralysed so you can't get the words out...? Well, that's what he sounds like. Kind of slurred.

He has progressed from that first little croak to short strings of babble. I first heard it a couple of days ago. He was around a corner of the house, out of sight but not out of earshot. At first I thought maybe my brain was embellishing a little sound into something more because of a hidden hope inside. But then he did it again last night! And when I told hubby, he mentioned that he heard the boy do the same in the bath the night before (I was out). So now I know I was not imagining things!

He has also been making "ffffffff" sounds - but it's sort of like when you blow bubbles kind of a fff. Sometimes it's more of an "Ooooffff!". And 'sssss', he has been doing that one too.

Last night, as he was playing around the lounge room, I could swear I heard him say 'Go!' ... or at least try and say it. It's so exciting, but I'm trying not to hope too hard in case I'm disappointed. Trying but not succeeding much LOL.... I can't help how my heart soars when there's the smallest inkling of a new skill developing.

Can't wait to tell the Speechie this week :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cupcakes for Nejla

My eldest daughter turned 8 today. We still haven't managed to organise a party for her yet - so slack, I know - but I was up until midnight making these for her to take to class today to share at school.

Chocolate cupcake with simple fondant icing. I stuck the fondant to the cake with a thin swipe of white chocolate buttercream - I couldn't be bothered making a sugar syrup just for the occasion, and I had the buttercream already on hand. Nej isn't a big fan of buttercream, which is why I used fondant to ice them instead. Ironically, she didn't 'feel like one' today, so everyone else ended up enjoying her birthday cupcakes haha. Oh well. She was happy...that's the important thing.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hey Mr DJ...!

Two cakes done up as 'Technics' turntables. I have never seen one of these turntables in real life, so I was mainly working off some photos for these. I did also google for some other turntable cakes to see how they are done, but I didn't use any one in particular as a guide. These were alot of fun to make, and I learned a couple of things in the making too.

Obviously, the birthday boy is a DJ. I was told he loved his cake, so I'm uber happy :).

Inside was chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I used fondant to cover and make the accents with. The turntable on top was made using a thin layer of cake as well, so everything except the ribbon is edible.

A dozen chocolate cupcakes with a duo of milk chocolate and white chocolate buttercream, topped with chocolate lattices went to the same place as the turntables did.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Isobelle's Birthday

A little baby ducky swimming in a water trough

Little over a year ago, I awoke at 5am with a small pain at the bottom of my 9 month pregnant belly. A very small pain, not even wince-worthy. Being this late in pregnancy however, I decide to go to the bathroom and investigate. Without going into too much detail, within a few moments, I know without a doubt that labour has begun. I wake my husband and tell him it is time, but there is nothing major happening. "Go back to sleep and I will wake you when we need to go". Between checking and waking him, I have about 3 contractions. Small ones. Nothing to worry about.

It is 5:10am.

After I wake him, I tell him I am going to get something to eat, since I expect a long and arduous day ahead of me. My son's labour and birth only went for 2 hours, but that didn't mean that this one would be as fast. Higher chance of a short labour again, but not guaranteed. And with the low level of pain I am feeling, I didn't think it was going to be fast.

I walk into the kitchen, and have another contraction. Suddenly I lose my appetite. I go back to the bedroom to tell my husband I can't eat anything but I might have a cup of tea. He is already up and getting dressed. I return to the kitchen to make my tea, and have another contraction. A strong one. I lose my interest in tea. I go back to the bedroom and inform my husband, and then finish packing my hospital bag instead. He is already on the phone to his sister.

It is 5:15am.

Strong contractions start coming every few minutes now. I finish packing my bag, ring the hospital, and message my sister so she could spread the word to family. We wait for my SIL to arrive to babysit. She doesn't live far. She wouldn't be long. But by the time she arrives, I am on my knees, rocking back and forth by the couch, contractions coming every minute or so.

"Honey, we have to go, get up" ... my husband is stressing a little.

"I can't.... walk.... right now..... Let me finish.... this contraction.... and I'll come." Panting. It hurts a bit more. The contraction passes and I am on my feet and out the door in a few seconds. Another contraction comes on as I get out the door. I pause at the door, halfway down the garden path, and at the car for contractions. Then I get into the car.

It is 5:30am.

Hubby starts driving to the hospital. Contractions are coming literally one on top of the other. Husband speeds a little, and I growl at him anytime the car goes over a bump. Can't cope with the bumps. It's quiet and there's not much traffic around, but I tell him he doesn't have to speed, I'm not about to drop the baby. "Yeah ok whatever", he says. Soon enough, we arrive at the hospital.

It is 5:50am.

I try to get out of the car, but another contraction hits and I can't move. My husband is getting very worried and seems a little grumpy. He is telling me to get out of the car and asking if he needs to carry me. I shout 'No!' - that would be incredibly painful. It's much easier for me to walk when the contraction passes. It passes and I get out of the car. Another one hits. And this time, I need to push. My body pushes... I cannot stop it. The hospital emergency doors are only a few metres away. The contraction passes and I literally run inside. The place is not busy, but there are a few people in the waiting room there.

We stop to speak to the triage nurse - who can see very clearly that I'm in labour. She takes us straight to the admin window. We begin to give our details. My husband strongly advises them to take me inside immediately, as I am about to give birth. I am too foggy to think straight. The pain is intense and constant now. The urge to push is so strong, it's primeval. There is only a few seconds between contractions.

The lady behind the admin window wants me to tell her when I need to push. I tell her I have already started pushing. She wants me to tell her every time I feel the need to. This confuses me; When having a baby, once you start pushing, every contration after that is a pushing one until the baby is born! Why would I need to tell her every time I have a contraction... can't she see? She tries to comfort me. "You're doing really well love, just hang in there, you're doing fine". I laugh... of course I'm doing fine! This is my fourth baby, I know what's going on. I don't think she does though. She asks me if the waters have broken. I say no, not yet - which is a good thing, because when they do, the baby will come fast. She reassures me again that I'm doing fine, and asks me if I need to push again. She has called for an orderly and we are waiting for a wheelchair.

Wheelchair? I can't sit now! I need to walk! Take me through please. Now.

I want to slap her. Instead I tell her I need to push again as I have another contraction and I start pushing. I feel something pop and hear a sound like a bucket of water being thrown on the floor. My waters broke.

"Ohhh..... the waters just broke... I'm so sorry, there's a mess on your floor" . My pj pants are soaked through.

I retreat back into my little world of birthing, while my husband and this lady behind the triage counter continue speaking. I don't know what they are saying... I'm not paying attention. Another contraction hits, and since she still wants me to tell her when I need to push, I tell her.

" I need to push....!"... I let out an almighty groan....I feel something slip out....
"The head! The head! There's a head in my knickers!"....
I start tearing my pj pants off while screaming those words out.

Somewhere in the dark corners of my dignified mind, I am aware that people are going to see my bottom... and other bits. I care, but, I don't care. My soaked pants are around my ankles now so I try to step out of them.

The lady behind the counter has jumped up out of her chair and is shouting "OH SHIT!! Somebody help me!!!"

...help you? I'm the one who needs help lady!

I know what she means, but I couldn't help seeing the funny side. I am standing with my legs slightly apart, one hand on the counter, wondering if I should lay down on the floor or not. The next thing I knew, a bunch of medical staff had surrounded us, and a nurse comes out and tells me that I will be ok, and if it makes me feel any better, she has delivered babies in this position before. Suprisingly, it does make me feel better. I don't have to lay down on the floor now. Another contraction begins as she squats down behind me to take a look. The urge to push is crazy strong and I can't help myself. Just as she gets down, she suddenly lunges forward and catches my baby.

It is 6:00am.

I have just given birth to our baby. I look up at my husband in amused relief.... He is standing there in shock, still holding the hospital bag, just staring at the scene before him. I chuckle and take hold of his hand with my free hand.

In the fogginess of the next few moments that followed, I try to look around behind me to where I can hear a small cry. My baby is ok.... my baby is ok. So relieved. I suddenly notice some orderlies standing around us holding up bedsheets to make our little space private. Ohhh.....God bless you people, I think to myself.

There is nothing to cut the cord with, so the nurse is still squatting there holding my little baby. I haven't delivered the placenta yet. I look up at my husband again and laugh.... 'Did we just have a baby?' I asked him. He just stares at me. Some of the hospital staff who came running in response to the code grey (I think?) are standing around smiling and watching... there isn't much they can do now. I start thinking about my exposed bum again......

Someone returns with a pair of scissors. They cut the cord and my baby is whisked away to be checked. Someone else brings out a hospital bed, and gingerly, I climb onto it and lay down on my back. Ahhhh, this is heaven!, I say; I have not been able to lie down on my back for months! The staff just look at me funny. My baby is brought back out to us, and we get to meet her. She's so cute and squished with a thick mop of black hair - with blonde tips! And she's perfectly ok.

Peeking out at the world.

They wheel me upstairs to the birthing suite where the midwives are suprised and disappointed to learn they missed all the action. Before they have a chance to administer the oxytocin needle, I deliver the placenta. They give me the needle anyway.... it hurts more than having my baby did. They stitch me up, bring me breakfast, and leave us to become more acquainted with our new little girl.

The whole thing took just one hour. Every time I think of what happened, I can't help chuckling about it. I shook my head in disbelief for weeks afterwards... this sort of thing happens to other people, not me!

Next time - now, this is our last baby, but if we should happen to make an 'oops' - next time, I will ring the ambulance and go lie down.

Snuggles with daddy :)

One year later...

Her cake was pink velvet with blue cream cheese frosting, surrounded in Cadbury Flake. Fondant probably would have looked better for the trough, but chocolate tastes so much nicer :)

My little baby battah (that's 'duck' in Lebanese) enjoying a piece of her birthday cake.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I imagine.....

Sometimes I imagine conversations with my son.....

I would ask him: "Hey honey! I missed you today. How was kinder? Did you have fun?"

He might smile and say: "Hi mum, I missed you too. Kinder was fun, I like going there now".

"That's great bubba! What did you do there today?"

"I put bottle caps into the jar.... I like that game. And I put together rows of building blocks.... and I put some colourful toothpicks into a jar through these tiny little holes! That was so hard, but I can do it!"

"Yes you can honey, you can do anything you want to if you work hard at it. You are a clever boy. Did you do anything else?"

"Yeah... I did some painting. I didn't know what it was before, but then Maria showed me how to make lines with the brush .... I like the lines mum. I painted lots of green lines!"

"Well done! I'm so proud of you. Painting is fun isn't it? Painting was mummy's favourite thing when I was a little girl. What did you eat today? Did you have some fruit, or some crackers? What did you eat honey?"

"I ate fruit. I like fruit. But I didn't eat the oranges, because they look wrong".

"Oh, they just cut them up differently to how we have them at home honey, that's all. They are still oranges, and they are still yummy. You should try them next time".

"Well they look wrong, so I didn't eat any. But guess what mum......"


"I ate lunch from kinder today!! Not my sandwich - but I still like your food though. But I ate rice and vegies at kinder. It was yum. I ate it all."

"Did you really! Wow! Well done bubba! That makes me really really happy! See? Mummy has a big smile now... look. That makes me very happy because it's something new! You did well today at kinder. I'm glad you had a good day. I love you bubba."

"I love you too mummy."

He can't really answer any of my questions, or tell me anything about his day. But when I look into his smiling chocolatey eyes.... I just know.

And yes, he really did eat fried rice at childcare yesterday. It was the first time he has eaten lunch from there instead of lunch from home. Too happy for words :)


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Baby Bumblebee

A couple of months ago, I ordered the Baby Bumblebee DVDs from the states. I first learned about them through a forum for parents of children on the spectrum that I sometimes visit. They were highly spoken of, and highly recommended. I paid nearly AU$200 for them (including shipping).

They are basically vocabulary building tools, roughly set out as a set of moving 'flashcards' with a voice over speaking the word, all set to Mozart music.

My son never seems to show much interest in things the first time they are introduced. This time was no different. The first few times that I put the first DVD on, and he simply went about doing his own thing and paid it no attention whatsoever. At least, it would seem that way to most other eyes. I know better now. This is the way he processes new information. It looks like he isn't interested, but really, he is taking it all in.

One day when I played the DVD again, he came over to the TV as the introductory theme music began. He watched a while, then went off again. Gradually, he began to watch the DVD more closely, until now, he sits through the whole thing.

Is he speaking yet? No. Still not a word. But I can't say there have been no benefits............

At times when I name an object or repeat a word from the DVD, he looks at me and smiles. It's as if he's saying "Yeah mum... I know that one". I love it! I have also found him from time to time trying to say 'shoes' or at least make the 'sh' sound again. He was trying that for a while, but then stopped. Now he's at it again. He seems to grasp what I say to him a little easier now. For example: "Bubba, do you want to put your shoes on and go outside to play?", and he immediately responds by looking at me and then coming over!

Still speaking of shoes, I have bought new ones for him, which are very different to the ones he has been wearing. Based on past experience and knowing what my boy is like, I fully expected him to reject these new shoes, and believed I would have a 'fight' on my hands trying to get him to wear them. In his mind, they may be shoes, but they are not the right ones. Well, I was pleasantly suprised to find him fully compliant when I put them on him! Amazing!! And I have not had a problem with them once. This too, I believe, has come about because of Baby Bumblebee. You see, they always show several versions of the item they are presenting - in the case of our shoes, they show baby shoes, mens shoes, womens' shoes, running shoes, buckle up shoes, lace up shoes, different coloured shoes, slip ons, etc. All different kinds of shoes, but they are all shoes. I'm pretty certain this has helped my boy develop some flexible thinking in this area.

To be honest, I didn't really expect to see any speech from him so quickly as a result of these DVDs, even though other parents have seen amazing results. I just know my son. But the benefits in general can't be denied despite that.

Would I recommend these for other kids on the spectrum? Definately.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Mandy's 21st

I was very priviliged to make this cake for a 21st. The party had a 'Secret Garden' theme, and the birthday girl wanted a white cake with pink flowers all over it. After running some designs by her, we settled on a climbing vine type thing. I wanted to try and incorporate a gate and key on it somewhere, and she loved the idea. She requested the gate at the top tier, with 21 candles behind it.

The cake was chocolate, with chocolate ganache filling, frosted with vanilla buttercream. The vines were also buttercream, and the flowers, gate and key were made of fondant. Everything is handmade and edible.

This cake really kicked my butt LOL. So many issues came up, most of which can be attributed to lack of experience and proper equipment. I learned alot through making it though, which is good. My piping skills really, really need alot more practice, but I think it turned out well overall :) The birthday girl was very happy anyway, so I am too.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Simple Chocolate Biscuits

To start off the school holidays, me and my girls did some baking :). We made simple chocolate bickies and even turned some into cookie pops! It's a great easy recipe, similar to a chocolate sugar cookie. This recipe comes from a book that used to be my grandmother's. It is actually part of a recipe for Choc-Mint Swirls, but I adapted the biscuit part, and just used that. The girls chose some fun shapes to cut the cookies, and we used melted chocolate for icing. Too easy!

Yep, cooking with kids is messy! Which is why I rarely do this LOL

65g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 180C and line two biscuit trays with baking paper.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until light and creamy.

Add sifted flours, cocoa and milk.

Stir with a flat-bladed knife until the mixture forms a soft dough.

Turn out onto a piece of baking paper and knead for 1 minute or until smooth.

Roll dough out to around 5mm and cut your biscuits.

At this point, I pressed skewers into some of the biscuits to make cookie pops

Place on the trays and bake for around 12 - 15 minutes, depending on the size of the biscuits. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Pretty flowers.

And hearts.... girly girly.

Miss Jane requested white chocolate for the icing - no probs! Just zap a handful of chocolate melts in the microwave at 15 second increments and stir till melted and smooth. As a special treat I made another small bowl but tinted it pink and flavoured it with strawberry oil. They loved it!

Don't be fooled by the serious concentrating face..... they were both having a great time!

I also happened to have some spare fondant flowers and leaves which came in handy.

So proud of their work :) And yes... they have all been eaten!