Friday, April 30, 2010

Confused and Annoyed

I know this is another really negative-seeming post, but it's all a perfect example of the emotional roller coaster my life is in regards to my son. I'm confused. I'm annoyed. I am hearing alot of jabber about the gluten-free casein-free diet (GFCF) and Biomed treatments for autism. There is so much information out there - some of it conflicting - and I don't even know all the information regarding these things, but to me, the whole thing smells very much like a 'fad'.

I know alot of people got offended right there.

I mean no offense. I'm not saying it is a fad. I'm just saying it seems like one, because some of the mums I speak to go on and on and on about it, and I can hardly google anything to do with autism without coming across it.

A little note on my personality: I can't stand anything that is a fad. In general, if the population is running towards something like crazy, I run in the opposite direction. I don't know why. It's just me. It is not often that I jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. Sometimes I do though - like with cupcakes. Hated the fad at first (seriously people, get over it! They're just cupcakes!) now I find myself baking them all the time. Go figure hehe.

I want to make something very clear here: I don't judge these people. I might hold a very different opinion, I might even feel very contrary towards the thing people go nuts over, but I
do not judge them. Each to their own, and whatever works for you. And I am certainly not going to judge someone who has seen improvement in their child as a result of employing such treatments!

This is lunch on most days: A cream cheese sandwich, cup of water, and piece of fruit or yoghurt. The only thing he will have on a sandwich is cream cheese, Nutella or honey. And he always bites the top corner, and opens the sandwich and arranges them on his tray before he eats the rest :)

What does annoy me though, is when people look at me funny and with that sort of condescending way when I say that I'm not convinced. I hate that. I feel like they are judging on me for not agreeing with their views. Very upsetting. The evidence I have seen is just not compelling for me. I find it annoying when people condemn me for choosing to treat or not treat my son a particular way. I had one lady recently, who made me feel so evil for giving my son cows milk on his cereal every day. She said it was poisonous to these (ASD) children. I did not appreciate that. I have seen no evidence whatsoever in my son of any allergic reaction to dairy or gluten. No reason whatsoever to consider removing these things from his diet. In fact, to do so, would leave me with very few options for his diet! He's already very fussy! And think of the logistics and cost of it: to completely change his diet, while trying to manage the rest of my family, when there is NO evidence of a problem in the first place...... please. I have enough going on without that sort of pressure.

Having said all that, there is enough anecdotal stories out there for me to sit up and take notice. I'm not going to write something like this off just because it bugs me. The GFCF diet is something I plan to try at a later date. Just in case. The evidence is not compelling for me, it's true. My son shows no signs of allergy or intolerance to these types of foods, it's true. But I've heard enough stories to wonder if it might make a difference anyway. Right now, I can't do it. I just can't. But it's on the cards, and I'll blog about it when I get it going. Will let you know how it goes.

Would love to hear from people who have tried the GFCF diet, and their experience with it. Did it work? Did it not work? etc. Just looking for personal experiences here, no debating please. Thank you :)


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worried. Stressed. Grumpy.

I am grumpy tonight. It's not because I'm tired (I'm always tired, ok? That's like a prerequisite to being a mother)'s not because I'm tired, although that probably is making it worse. It's because I'm worried. I have noticed in recent months, that when I am concerned about something, I become grumpy. Tonight, that is also exacerbated by an incident at school involving the girls' lunch orders from the canteen. Something I'm very peeved about, and intend to write a letter of complaint to the school. But I won't go into it here, suffice to say, this is not the first time.

I digress again.

My worry is in relation to my son. He grinds his teeth. This is a relatively new thing for him. He has been grinding his teeth, for maybe..... 6 weeks? The first week or two, it was nearly all day. Drove me absolutely crazy. Then it started to taper off, and now he only does it when he is bored, I think. I don't believe it is a sensory issue for him. I think it is just a habit. One of my older daughters used to do this too, and all of them grind their teeth in their sleep occasionally anyway.

So no, I don't believe it is a sensory craving, and even as a baby , my son never did put things into his mouth. I thought this was unusual at the time, but never really thought hard about it. Instead, I looked at the 'positive' side, and thought that I was lucky, as the choking and germ hazard was greatly reduced because of this. Well, it turns out that he was just not developing as a normal kid should. So much for being positive.

I am worried though, because I heard someone mention that their child also did this (he also has autism), and had to have 4 teeth removed (*gasp* what??). They did, however, point out that their child had a 'thing' for juice, and that they had left the teeth-grinding habit unchecked. And they were reluctant to mention the incident in the first place so as not to scare me. At this point, I want to say very clearly, that these are good people who take very good care of all their children. They are a family that I look up to and admire and hold in the greatest of esteem. Their experience and advice regarding my son is something I value highly, so the mistake they made with their child would have been exactly that, just a mistake.

Anyway, normally I am not easily scared. But I think that without realising, this has become a concern to me. He might not do it so much anymore, but when he does grind his teeth, he really goes for it! So I have been worried all day about it. And it has stressed me out, and so I am grumpy now. I do try to interrupt the grinding, as much as I am able to. I do this by either squeezing his jaw, or giving him a snack. Usually fruit or a cheese stick. The snack works better than squeezing his jaw. Today, I have doubled my efforts to rid him of this behaviour. It hasn't worked much that I can see. I have even taken to putting my fingers in his mouth to rub his gums and teeth. He only lets me do this because I've been trying to desensitise him this way, in order to prepare him for accepting a tooth brush into his mouth.

I wish he would stop. But it has become alot more apparent that this isn't going to stop by itself. I don't know why this wasn't clear to me in the first place. It's as if it just didn't compute, even though I knew. Fatigue I guess. I don't know. I do know that my brain isn't as sharp as it could be these days haha. Too much going on, and not enough sleep. Anyway, it isn't going to go away by itself. I need to work at this.

Like everything else about his autism... I need to work on it all. None of it is going to 'go away' or decrease in intensity by itself. It makes me think, we have a long road ahead of us. And thinking about that makes me tired. And more stressed. And more grumpy.

I know everything will be alright, but I wish I could just get a glimpse of the future to see it. Just so I can be reminded that all this hard work will definately pay off. But the future for my boy is still cloudy for me. I guess I have to be used to that.

Worried. Stressed. Grumpy.

But still smiling. God's got us.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Marble Run

This is my son with one of his favourite toys....the marble run. Just in case you haven't seen one before, you basically just pop a marble into one of the top receivers, and it runs it's course down to the bottom. He just loves this toy. Personally, I'd get bored with it in about 5 minutes, and I'd expect most other children to have limited attention to this one too. But he just loves it. It's perfect for him. Repetative and predictable, with enough variation on the different paths down to make it interesting.

I used to feel really bad about leaving my boy to play alone. Especially when he is just staring out the window. I still feel guilty at times, but realistically, there is only a certain amount of time I can spend with him. I have a family to care for, which means dishes, washing, cooking, cleaning.... (the cleaning usually gets left lowest on the priority list unfortunately - I hate this, but I can only do what I can).

The reason I feel bad leaving him, is because I hate the idea that he retreats into his own little world, alone. I thought there was nothing going in his little mind. I am beginning to change my opinion of this.

I have been reading a book where two autistic people talk about how they see the world, and the what sort of thought processes went on inside their heads as they were growing up. I am loving it... it is so enlightening for me, and I've already learned so much from it. Since reading this, I realise that there is in fact a LOT going on inside my sons head. I - we - might not see it, but there is alot of stuff going on in there all the time. Sometimes, it is too much for him, hence why he might fixate on something else for a while. This brings him some measure of comfort and control in his life. And lets be honest, we all need that.

The ability to play alone and entertain oneself is in itself a skill. Part of my son's problem is that he lacks imagination, so when I find him investigating something - even just a repetative type of toy, it is good. This doesn't mean I should leave him to stim or stare all day. But it does mean that if I need to get things done, it's not necessarily going to be detrimental to allow him to do his own thing. Chances are, he's working out the world around him in his own way - in a way that makes sense to him. While too much of this can lead to a warped view of the world he actually does live in, a little is okay.

So if he's enjoying watching that marble run the same way over and over and over again, it's alright.... he's happy, he's busy, and I'm able to get some other things done in the meantime. When he has had enough of it, he usually comes looking for me anyway.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Lemon Meringue and 21

My first attempt at lemon meringue cupcakes. Now, this is just my own opinion, but they turned out absolutely scrumptious! And I don't even like lemon meringue! I'm sending some in with hubby to work tomorrow too, so we'll see what they all think of them out there.

I was asked to do 21 cupcakes for a cousin of mine who turned...yep...21. I didn't have much time on this particular day, but I managed to make these. Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream. The fondant stars are handmade as well. I wasn't too happy with the cake though. I had put in a bit too much buttermilk, so they had a caramel sort of colour and a bit too much tang for a vanilla cake. But despite that they turned out fluffy and flavoursome anyway. As for the fondant stars.....hah. Lets just say my piping skills need a LOT of work haha!


Line up!

It's a fairly typical autistic thing to do. Line things up. (Although not all ASD kids do this). When I tell people that my son has autism, it's often one of the first things they ask....'oh, does he like, line stuff up all the time?'. Well... he doesn't do it all the time. And he doesn't do it with everything. And in fact, he's only just started doing this recently. But here's a cute shot of what he did with his mandarin segments tonight at dinner. Please excuse the messy high chair tray.... he is still feeding himself (yippee!!!) and therefore he makes a mess of himself and his tray :)

I peel the mandarin for him, and segment the pieces, and check each one for pips before plonking them on the tray in front of him. He took each piece, and instead of eating them straight away as he usually does, he lined them all up in a row first. Then he ate them. Too cute <3.

Sometimes, I need to work at breaking some rigid patterns. Other times, they are as innocent as this. And I just think; 'Honey, if it makes you feel better, you just go ahead and line up your stuff'. I figure, better that than screeching all day or banging his head or something. It could be much worse.


Saturday, April 24, 2010


Chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream (my all time favourite type of buttercream), and drizzled with white and dark chocolate. They didn't turn out how I intended actually. But that was because I couldn't be bothered with details this particular night hehe. What I really wanted to do was pipe pretty spirally-type patterns on top over the buttercream. But I really couldn't be bothered with piping bags and filling and waiting for the chocolate to settle to the right piping consistency, and so on and so forth. So I just drizzled it on with a teaspoon.


Friday, April 23, 2010


I love it when my son takes an interest in his environment. This is supposed to be what regular kids do. They check out their world. I remember back in uni, doing a unit on attachment in children - what was healthy and what was indicative of anxiety or other issues. A baby/toddler with healthy attachment is one that takes a small amount of time to warm to their environment, and then begins to explore their surroundings by venturing away from their caregiver (usually mother) and returning to her at various intervals. Like the caregiver is 'home base'. I can't cite sources off the top of my head though, and frankly, I can't be bothered looking for them. But that much I do recall from back in my uni days.

So when my boy explores his environment, and makes a discovery, I share his excitement in every way. It's wonderful! For so many reasons :).

Recently, we were out having dinner at my sister's house. It's not as though we never go there however, my sister's place should be a familiar place for my son. But he has never ventured beyond the bottom level. This time though, he decided to check out what was upstairs.

It seems he discovered how to get up the stairs by himself, and when he got there, he found the walkway to the upstairs lounge room. He was delighted by this discovery! He spent most of the evening running the same circuit from my sister's room, past his cousins' rooms, and along the balcony/walkway to the lounge room, and back again. You could hear his happy noises as he did his thing up there. It was very cute.

The problem was trying to get him to come back down to eat his dinner hehehe. We managed :)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coping and Not Coping

Some days, I just don't know where to start. I mean with everything.... housework, dinner, blogging. Some weeks are like that. I suppose it's a combination of interrupted sleep and sickness.

Some days, I just can't handle my son's autism. Other days I think it's cute. Sometimes, I feel both at the same time. Crazy, huh.

His behaviour is becoming more rigid in some areas now. He is starting to really recognise some routines and is wanting to play them out every time we do that particular thing. For example, the way I get him out of bed in the morning: I sing a little song, and turn on the light. He stands up in the cot and comes to the side. I hug and kiss him there, then put the side down. Then he climbs out. If this order of events is interrupted, he doesn't like it and his whole morning is ruined. Sometimes all it takes is for his dad to come in to get him up instead of me.

We had an interesting incident one morning this week as we were leaving the house to see the speechie. Hubby was home, which is unusual for him during the week. On some occasions, he has taken our son out and about in his car - a Ford Falcon XC 1978 model. With quite a boom on the engine. The boy tends to get upset when he goes in papa's car, because he is accustomed to going in mine. It's just wrong to him. Anyway, on this particular morning, the boy must have deduced that because Papa was home, he must be going out in his car. This is what happened:

I opened the front door to walk to the car with my boy. He always pauses at the front step, the door mat, and the end of the paving, for whatever reason. He did this as usual, then started down the garden path. But halfway down, he veered off and went towards Papa's car! This was a major suprise to me, he never does this!

I caught up with him, and began walking him back towards my car. "No, no honey," I said, "mummy's car today, we're going in mummy's car, see?" I point towards my car. He doesn't follow my point - I didn't expect him to. He doesn't like me changing his course though! I managed to walk him back to the garden path, but by this point, he is so upset that he plonks himself down on the ground and has a tantrum.

I let him have his moment, and then help him up - he accepts the hand up. But he still won't come to the car. I let go his hands again because he's trying to get away. I wanted to see what he was going to do. I thought he would go back to the XC, but he didn't. Instead, he went back up to the front door, stood on the step, and started his walk again from the beginning, going to my car this time as usual.


He couldn't cope with the 'mistake' he had made, he had to take it from the top. I laughed. I thought it was very cute. But it's such an 'autistic' thing to do! It's an interesting thing this. On one hand, he showed some good adaptive thinking: Papa is home, therefore we must be going in papa's car today. However, when he realised that was not the case, he had to make his way to my car from step one. That is rigid thinking. He probably couldn't get the idea that he could just continue on to mummy's car from wherever he was at. It would just be 'wrong' for him.

Another thing he struggled with, was the fact that papa got into the drivers' seat, not me. This upset him, again, because it is not the usual way that things are done. Once I got into the passenger side though, and turned to smile at him, he was ok. Overall, I think he adjusted to these changes quite well.

This is an example of autistic behaviour of his that makes me smile. It's cute. It's funny. It's very autistic. Some days though, I just don't have the time or mental energy for it. I haven't got time to be patient while he works things through....we need to go now. - The step is the same today as it was yesterday, can we just go already son? Do you really need to check it again? - It can get pretty frustrating at times.


Saturday, April 17, 2010


Unruly curls

Yep. His hair was just getting too long! Well, too unruly more like. I just couldn't do anything with it. No matter how I brushed - and I'm lucky he even lets me! - it still got messy and looked unkempt. I hate it when hair looks unkempt. There's a difference between funky or cool, and unkempt. It's already a job just to desensitise my son to things touching his head, so if we weren't at it all the time with him, I can just see him growing up to be one of those people who left it all unkempt and feral. Can't have that *shakes her head adamantly*.

He has no idea what's coming, poor thing.

Still, haircuts are traumatic for him. At least in the past they have been. His very first haircut was done at a local hairdressing salon, when he was around 18 months. We didn't know there was a problem then. Naturally, he cried and was very distressed. We just assumed that was a natural reaction..... there's no reason why any other toddler wouldn't react the same on their first cut! Anyway, the girl did as best she could with a crying, head-shaking, squirming boy in the seat.

The second time he got a haircut was with me and his papa at home. That one was around 8 months ago. We knew he had ASD then, which is why we chose to do it at home. This time, we went for a buzz cut...a number 2 all over. Main reason being that it is safer, in case of little fingers making their way up in defence. It is also easier - no measuring and not too much checking involved. Pretty straight forward - buzz around, clean up, and your done! But fortunately for us, we also like the look of it. I always did intend to buzz-cut my son's hair.

Those beautiful curls

I knew he'd get distressed, but he would have got distressed anyway, be it clippers or scissors. We thought being in his own highchair at home would be preferable to being in an unfamiliar, small and somewhat claustrophobic salon. We also knew that there was no way he would allow a towel or sheet to protect his clothing, so we'd have to pop him straight into the bath to wash up when done. Hubby was to hold him steady while I ran the clippers over his head. Five minutes, no big deal.... hopefully!

We started with some yummy m&m's... a little treat/reward for the trauma we were about to put him through. As soon as those clippers touched his head, he forgot all about the m&m's though. He screamed - it still breaks my heart to this day - he screamed and cried his little heart out. But as soon as the clippers came off his head, he'd stop. So the distress wasn't lasting. We would clipper, and then give him a break for a few seconds, then clipper some more. By the end of it though, he did continue crying right up until we got him out of the bath. I must admit, there were a few times there where I nearly went to tears myself.

That was last time. This time, he didn't stress so badly. Not by far! This time, I held his head while hubby clippered. It turned out even better than last time!

I must admit, my heart skips a little bit every time we cut those adorable unruly curls off. But this type of cut keeps his hair neat, without too much fuss. And it really brings out his eyes.

Fish & chips for dinner :)

Handsome little man :) *hearts*


Friday, April 16, 2010

Sick Week.

The first week of the second term at school is now over. This week has been the single most frustrating, infuriating, stressful week of my whole entire parenting career. Someone please tell me, where do I hand in my application for stress leave?

Sick Mother
I have been very sick.... hence why the lack of blogging. It was just a headcold sort of thing, but boy was it bad. The only times I tend to get this sick are when I am really run down. I guess I have been these past months since I had the baby. Thankfully, my husband was kind enough to take a day off work to tend things around here so I could spend one blessed day on the couch just resting. Days like this are rare for me, and I am so grateful to him for doing it.

Sick Boy
My son has been sick. When he is sick, his autism symptoms are always worse. One tiny thing done differently that wouldn't normally affect him, causes him huge stress instead. Take this afternoon at dinner for example: I went to put his toast on the table, and in my other hand had an empty cup for his drink. When I walked away without putting the cup down in front of him (I went to fill it for him first), he went nuts. This is not normal behaviour for my son. It could also be something as simple as his dad getting him out of bed instead of me.

Sick Baby
My baby has been sick. As a result of this, I spent a literally sleepless night with her last night. I think I got all of 1 hour of sleep: 30 minutes when I first came to bed, and 30 minutes in the morning just before hubby left for work. She has been insanely grizzly all day as well. To top it off, when I try to give her some medication, she just retches and throws it up. (In the end, I mixed the dose with some caramel custard. She managed to eat that, but still didn't like it much). But she growls and cries, and this aggrivates my son even more. Strangely enough, my older daughters seem to choose these times to come to me with requests and silly questions. /sigh.

Sick Daughters
My big girls have been sick too. Though not as severe as the rest of us. And thankfully, being bigger girls, they can tend to manage alright. The one exception here is when I tried to give the middle one a dose of Dimetapp. She clamped up her mouth and refused to open it. Behaved the same as my autistic toddler son! Only she is 6 years old, and certainly knows better! This drove me crazy. I was so frustrated and angry at this point, that I nearly burst into tears. This one also tends to leave her stuff everywhere and ignore my directions to put her things away. As a result, she couldn't find one shoe this morning for school, and made everyone late while 'looking' for it. There were several other small instructions that she failed to follow, leading to annoying consequences at various times. Stuff that doesn't help when you are tired, sick and already have alot going on.

I am hoping desperately that this weekend sees everyone recovered so I can get into a proper routine, and get back to the business of life.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Coconut Rough

Chocolate coconut cake with coconut buttercream, dipped in chocolate and topped with lightly toasted coconut.

Lately I am obsessed with pillow cakes, and I intend to try my hand at one sometime soon. What on earth is a pillow cake you say? ...Ahhh!....stay tuned to find out ;P

Edited 13/3/11
PS. I finally got around to it! You can see it here. :)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Life is chaotic at the moment haha! Yesterday, hubby went to Ikea (finally!) and picked up the bunk beds and storage units for the kids rooms that we have been planning on getting for ...oh, ages now. So now the big girls are in bunk beds. I'm a bit sad at changing from the pretty white beds we had for them (the bunk is just plain old treated pine), but I must admit, the bunk was a great idea. It has really opened up the room in terms of floor space, and now we can put the girls' toys in there as well. I mean big girl stuff, like Barbie, My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, The Littlest Pet Shop, etc., and all the assorted tiny bits and pieces that go with them. It's out of the way, and it's safer for the babies. And it means the girls can play in there and not in my face all the time! .....girls can get pretty rowdy, trust me LOL.

So anyway, the house is upside down. Toys are all over the place, storage units half built, massive boxes all over the house. And one of the girls found the styrofoam cubes in the packing...... need I say more? I feel like we've just moved in! Or are moving out again.

My boy's room is also different. We have moved his cot to the other side of the room, and put one of the white beds where it used to be. The other white bed is dismantled and stored underneath. The chest of drawers/change table unit is in a different place too. Thankfully, my son hasn't stressed too much about the changes. With autism, change like this can be very distressing. I'm grateful that my boy doesn't tend to worry too much. Quite the contrary in fact. Yesterday, when things were being moved around....people everywhere (cousins were here too) ...noise ...junk ...mess ...chaos... he actually seemed pretty happy with all the kerfuffle. Excited even. It was cute :). And he slept well last night, and was happy to nap today and go to bed tonight as well. Awesome.

He is still in his cot, but we will need to move him to a bed eventually. The strategy is that he will get used to the other bed being in there, so when we are ready to move him we'll allow him to fall asleep in his cot, and then transfer him to the other bed while he's sleeping. That's the plan for now at least. So then, once the baby's sleeping patterns settle a bit more, she will move into the cot in the room with him. And hubby and I get our bedroom back! Woohoo!

Meanwhile, I still have to find somewhere to put the bookshelf and toys that used to be in the boy's room haha! It's chaos. Oh, I said that before LOL. Sorry! But it is!

So, my big girls are pretty rapt at their new bed and new room configuration. They played in there almost all day today, and are dead set on keeping it tidy. Hehehe.....we'll see how long that lasts for!

Anyway, I shall leave you with some cake I have done over the Easter weekend.


A dear friend asked me for 4 dozen cupcakes for her daughters birthday party. The theme was a mad hatters' tea party. I wanted to do something beautiful, but slightly quirky. With the time constraint factor, I came up with these. They were not the birthday cake though, the birthday girl actually made that herself. I saw it when I delivered these, and it was fantastic! Didn't get a pic though, sorry.

Classic cupcakes - chocolate with vanilla buttercream, topped with a dark chocolate lattice, sugar flower and a jaffa in the middle of the flower.

Lemon cheesecake cupcake - topped with a sugar flower. Simple, but yummy as!

Chocolatte' - chocolate cupcake with coffee buttercream, topped with a dark chocolate lattice and sugar ribbon rose.

Cookies & cream - topped with a white chocolate lattice, mini white ribbon roses and a mini oreo.

A sample of how they looked set up on my brand spanking new 5 tier handcrafted wooden cupcake stand! My sister in law took a picture of the whole lot set up at the party... when I get a copy, I'll post it.

A cake for the family do on Easter Sunday. My cousin requested the same as the chocolate box one I made for her anniversary, but shaped like an easter egg. In keeping with the easter egg theme, I went for bright colours, and topped it with white and pink chocolate dipped cake balls instead. Didn't look as effective as the first design I thought, but still yummy.

Inside one of the cake good does it look in white chocolate!

Traditional butterfly cakes in lemon and strawberry. Sorry again for all the bad photos... I have no talent when it comes to photography hah!

Until next time!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Eternity Matters More

Haven't posted for a few days I know, and sorry about that. I have been incredibly busy. First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy Easter. I hope it has been good for you all, and that you've all had a lovely time.

After church this morning, I spent most of today at a cousins house with lots of family. It was lovely. It was also sad. My aunt, my mother's only living sister, has pancreatic cancer. Her other sister passed away years ago, she was only 33 at the time. So young. Anyway, in case you aren't aware, pancreatic cancer is the worst kind you can get. Painful, unrelenting, and virtually impossible to treat. To my knowledge, in just about every case, it is terminal. It's just a matter of time, and the timing is not usually long. My family - like many other families I would think - don't tend to discuss these things very openly. The information is supposed to be 'hush-hush', but inevitably, it makes it's way around the grapevine so that everyone eventually knows: We don't think my aunty will make it to Christmas.

Another aunt of mine has breast cancer. I am not supposed to know this. But I do. Grapevine. And yet another aunt, has breast cancer recurring. Again, I am not supposed to know. The prognosis of one is good I am told....they caught it early. Of the other, I have no idea.

One of my nephews also has a terminal illness. He is only about 15 months old, and he too is likely to die sometime around Christmas. His older sister has already passed away, having been born with the same condition. Christmas eve 2008, she died. After she died, another little nephew was born....with Down Syndrome. Nobody was expecting this. The scans did not pick it up. And of course recently, we have found out that my own son has Autism.

In recent years - the last 3 or 4 - I have seen the death of an uncle, his son (obviously my cousin), my niece, my grandmother. My cousin was only 28 when he died. My niece did not make it to her 2nd birthday.

Death and disease is all around me. I feel like it has been around here for a while now. These past 3 years or so have been aweful. Just aweful. It has been one thing after another. And just when we think it couldn't get any worse, something else comes along....another person struck with an illness or disorder of some sort. Or worse in some cases.

I have never been so close with death in all my life. It makes me think of times gone, when medical technology was nowhere near as good as it is today. When so many many children died, and so many women died in childbirth. When so many men died through accidents at work - on the farm, with the cattle, in the mines, in the fields. When so many people died from diseases that we treat so easily today. People back then were alot more familiar with death I think. I don't know whether that made dealing with it any easier. I would tend to think they were just alot more sober about it. Death is a fact of life. Unavoidable. It comes for all of us at some point.

But all of what has been happening in my family recently, has brought me to realise just how fragile and how brief life is. In one second....everything can change. The things I stress over....are they really worth it? When I come to the end of my life - which could be tomorrow - what will I have to present to my God that is of any value at all? What do I have that lasts? - Nothing. What have I done that will stand the test of time?

That is the question isn't it.

It makes me see....nothing matters here really. Eternity matters more.

That doesn't mean I should just bum around and not bother to further myself or build for my family. It just means I should put things into perspective more often. For example, I want to buy a house, and I feel depressed sometimes that I can't afford to do so right now. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? No. I can't take a lovely big house with me when I die. Neither can my children. Or their children. But it doesn't mean I shouldn't aim for one while I'm here. Worth the effort, for sure. But not worth stressing over. Can you see my point?

The bible tells me this:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal...." (insurance for these things is so costly isn't it?) "...But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

There is nothing wrong with setting ourselves up for a good life here. The bible also tells me not to be lazy, and to enjoy and take pride in the results of my labour. But in the grand scheme of things, this is all nothing. Eternity matters more.

People around me - people I love - are dying. Life is so, so short. When I look back on my life, I want it to matter. If everything I have just burns, what will I have left to present to God? What have I done for Him, after he died for me - to make eternity matter for me? Everything I gather on this earth will go, and I can't work my way into heaven. I am certainly not perfect. But He saved me anyway! That is grace. Even now that I'm saved, I'm still not perfect (seriously, far from it). But all He calls me to do is believe in Him and accept Him. To love Him, and love others.

Bottom line for me is this: that God has my heart - and my treasure - and that my children grow up to love and follow Him too. Because in the grand scheme of things, eternity matters more.