Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Dulacca

Dulacca is a tiny little town about 5 hours west-ish of Brisbane. This was our next destination after the first few days on the Gold Coast. The purpose of this visit was to attend my Father in Law's wedding, where my husband was to be the best man. Little Man was much better at accepting the new environment this time, though he still chose to circuit one room for most of the evening. We stayed with family this time, so the bedroom set-up was very different to the one at the Gold Coast!

All the children were in one room together - which suited me and them beautifully! They think it is fun and love being in together. Little Man loves it too, and I love that he loves the company of his sisters. His bed was a mattress on the floor - he had no issues sleeping in it at all! All we had to do was put his 'blanky' there, and tell him this was his bed. He would put himself to bed at random times, and spent alot of time there, just being in his own space.

Little Man behaved reasonably well at the wedding. We had him "trapped" in a pew with us, and he would walk up and down along the kneeling plank (is that what it is called?? We don't have those in our church!) and periodically try to escape out into the aisle. Great-Great-Uncle Lenny was there to catch him before he could though. Those two were sweet to watch. Little Man really liked Uncle Lenny. He would lean on him and just loved to hang around him. I loved to see it, but felt really bad because my boy actually had pooped in his pull-up just as we got into the church, so I couldn't change it right then - and it reeked!! Uncle Lenny and my husband's grandmother who was beside us both said they didn't mind, but I think they were just very polite, hah!

My FIL has a dog, Radar, who seemed to take a curious affection to my boy. When Erik first saw the dog, he freaked anytime Radar came near him. But gradually over the next couple of days, he became accustomed to the dog, and ventured outside anyway. It didn't take long before he was perfectly cool with Radar following him around, and being a blue heeler, the dog would even try 'rounding' up my son to make sure he stayed in the right place. It was very funny to watch. Little Man would walk his circuit around the back yard there with the dog gently nipping his heels every so often. Erik would frown and look at the dog as if to ask 'what are you doing?', but then just continue on his merry way.

Maybe it's the way they interacted with him, or maybe it's some kind of other sense that Radar had, but he certainly treated Little Man differently to the girls. He was so much more gentle with him. It occurred to me that now might be an idea time to get our son a pet of his own. A good dog like Radar to interact with and have as a friend. The benefits of animals and pets are well documented, and it is common for people on the spectrum to have a special relationship with their pets. With my son though, we never really saw him take to animals very much..... until now. Unfortunately, we also know full well that we don't have the time to care for or train a dog properly right now, so it would really not be a good idea to get one just yet. But it is definitely something we are aiming for.

In true country style, my FIL also keeps a couple of horses. On the day we were leaving Dulacca, we went off to feed them for my FIL, as he and his new wife had left for their honeymoon. We put Little Man on a horse for the first time.

....Not that boys are better than girls, but when Little Man was born, something my husband really looked forward to was having a little mate to share his life with and pass on his interests to. Erik is our only son. Finding out that he was autistic was a blow in many ways. But we have learned that it doesn't mean the dream is necessarily wiped away. It might just be a little different in reality, that's all. So we put our boy on a horse for his first 'ride'. I don't think he minded one bit, although he did seem to feel a little unsteady. But hey, who doesn't with their first time on a horse! He also studiously avoided touching the horse! - Just his aversion to textures coming through.

Yes, that is my hand there holding him steady, haha. I just couldn't let him go! Not yet, anyway. But I'm sure the time will come.

The stay at Dulacca was mostly without incident, though there was one thing that had my son and I spend a night in the local (next town!) hospital. But more about that in another post.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

At The Theme Parks

As you can imagine, I was more than a little nervous about taking my boy to the theme parks. How will he cope with all the people? How will he cope with being on his harness all day? Will he try to abscond? Will he tantrum when he can't walk his own way? What about all the waiting we will have to do for rides and such? Lots of questions.

Didn't stop us though. While I was tempted to stay at home with him sometimes, I wanted this experience for him as much as for the big girls. I also knew I had help on hand if I needed it, so off we went.

We went to SeaWorld and Warner Brothers Movie World. Movie World was first up. And the first test of the day: Lining up at the front entrance to get in. This was annoying. Long, long lines! But he was good. He only tried to walk off once or twice the whole hour we were waiting. He leaned on me a lot ... nearly knocked me off my feet with his weight several times. Haha.. big boy :). Once we got through it was easy walking. I think it was a stimmy paradise for him, especially in main street with all the lights and colour.

Unfortunately, most of the day was spent waiting. And waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for dad and others to go on rides. Waiting for the big girls on their rides. Waiting to go on his own rides. Waiting for food. Waiting to have another turn. Lots of waiting. I don't think I realised how much waiting there would be. Compared to how many hours we actually spent at the park, waiting actually takes up a huge chunk of that time! And Little Man was amazing. I can honestly say, he didn't meltdown once. Didn't even tantrum really. He voiced his protest once or twice when he didn't understand why he couldn't just push to the start of the line and get on the ride. But for the most part, he was very good. And as the day went on, he began to understand how it all worked, and what was required of him.

On the carousel.

On the mini train.

I knew he would enjoy the rides, and I couldn't wait to take him on. They don't have many rides there for smaller children. At both Movie World and Seaworld, the main rides for kids were a carousel, a ride that goes around and up and down at the same time, and a mini train. Little Man's favourite was the second one. He looooooved the up and down movement! Grins of sheer delight on his face, while he tried to tolerate the breeze blowing in it - (he does not like wind blowing in his face or around his head). It made me so happy.

On the birdcage ride (up and down and 'round and 'round!)

But even we were not going on rides, there was so much to look at. Displays of water and lights, colourful fences with squiggly lines, lots for him to just stare at. And because I know that my boy likes to look, that was all ok with me. His favourite thing to watch though, was the roller coasters going along their tracks. Favourite by far!!

Lines in the cafeteria kept him busy while we waited for lunch to arrive.

Coming home after the long days was always good for him. Although he enjoys sensory input, he does tend to get tired and have enough - like any pre-schooler I guess. So he never protested going back to the car to leave. He slept well in his big bed (except for one night when he woke up at 12am and did not go back to sleep for 3 hours!), and began to anticipate where we were headed the next day. Because of the weather, most of our time was spent at Movie World, except for the last part of our trip where we actually stayed at the Sea World resort. It was too cold for Wet'n'Wild, but maybe we can do that later this summer.

I am so glad to be able to give him these experiences. While it is a lot of extra work for me - mainly mentally - and while freedom for all in our party is somewhat limited because of him, it is well worth the effort. I came out of this feeling confident that I could take my son on a plane if I ever chose to. And that is a big question answered for me!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baby Shower Cake

I made this cake for my friend's baby shower this weekend just gone. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to fit it in with everything I have going on at the moment, but I really wanted to do it, and I'm glad I did. Doing cake was just what I needed right now. I enjoy it so much, and it's such a relaxing outlet for me, despite the late hours that go into making one.

My friend is a very special lady. Her and her husband had been trying for a baby for so long. Something like 8 years, before they conceived this child. The day she pulled me aside at church and whispered that she was pregnant, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. So, so, SO happy for them. They are just the most awesome people, and they are both going to make such great parents. And so all of that makes this cake extra special, and I am so pleased to be able to do this for her.

You wanna know whats inside though, right? Well, I never did get a snapshot of the insides once it was cut, but I can tell you it was a cookies & cream mud cake with white chocolate ganache. It sounds rich, but actually, it was just really delightful. So many people raved about it that I wanted to go and hide, hah! I get shy, mmmkay?

I think this is the first baby shower cake I have made, and certainly the first tall cake I have made. So yeah, anyone who knows what they are looking will be able to see I had some issues with that tall cake, hehe. Nevertheless, I'm pleased with the outcome for a first try.


I forgot to credit where I got the silhouette from! I certainly didn't design it myself - I can't draw to save my life, heh. This is where I found the picture, and the idea for the cake comes from a whole bunch of cakes after a google search for 'baby shower cakes' and 'pregnant lady cakes'. Credit where credit is due!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Travel And Changes

We did a crazy thing. We drove all the way from Melbourne to Queensland non-stop. With 4 kids and a trailer! The driving was shared between hubby, his sister and her hubby. Took 23 hours. Insane.

Overall, the kids did well - especially the big girls. But my little ones... they got very uncomfortable and irritable as time went on. Mostly through the night when they were trying to sleep. They kept trying to roll over, only to find themselves still strapped into their chairs. I felt so sorry for them.

So how did Little Man go? He did so well! He enjoys car trips, I think because of the sensory motion of the driving, so he was quite content to stay in the car. But he did seem confused. We would stop for food or toilet breaks, and after the first couple of times, he simply refused to get out of the car. It was too confusing to get out and then in again after such a short time, with what seems like no purpose to him.

When we stopped in the morning for breakfast, he refused to eat. It bothered me, because I knew he was hungry. In the end I gave him a banana and one of those breakfast twists, he ate while walking around the car. I was satisfied with that.

When we finally pulled in to our destination, all the kids alighted the car with such excitement, but my Little Man was still confused. This wasn't home! Despite his slight apprehension, he also seemed excited about the new place, and I was able to get him inside easily.

I brought him into the main living area and kitchen, and that is where he stayed. He would not sit at the table to eat his dinner - Macca's nuggets and fries. But he did eat most of it standing up. The nuggets I had to pass to him one by one later on, because he had gone back to his spot in the kitchen to stare at stuff and blow raspberries. Just processing I guess.

After dinner, a refreshing shower (/gasp!) and bed. The shower was amazing because he only gets into the bath at home here, though I use a shower hose to wash him - he refuses to sit down in the bath now. I don't mind though, because it is the next step to having a shower properly. This one was great, because it had an extended shower hose too! He wasn't sure about getting into the cubicle at first, so I ended up in there with him, all my clothes on - Hah! We went about the showering in the usual pattern, and he was perfectly fine with that. When I showed him to his bed at bedtime, I could not believe how excitedly he took to it. Little Man was lucky - he had a double bed all to himself! He was so pleased with his big bed, it took no effort at all to get him to sleep. I am pretty sure the exhausting drive had much to do with that too though. Tucked him in and prayed, and off to sleep he went. He slept peacefully all that night. I was rapt.

The next morning again saw him not interested in his breakfast. I was beginning to really worry by now, so the third morning we were there, I decided to try something completely different.

.... I served him Corn Flakes instead of Weet Bix.

My logic was this: That we are in a place completely different from home and the usual, so maybe - just maybe - he feels that the usual breakfast is just 'wrong' here? Maybe what is needed is a completely different breakfast too. New place, new patterns - right?

It worked! He came over and happily sat down to eat Corn Flakes! Boy was I pleased. Corn Flakes became his breakfast for the rest of the trip, and I am happy to say, he is still happy to eat them here at home. And the best thing of all; he hasn't given up the Weet Bix - he still eats that too. Yay!

Holidays and trips away are always an interesting time for us with Little Man. I never am quite sure how he is going to react to the changes and new things. Most of the time, I have to say, I have come out quite pleased with results. Because while I can see that he is anxious at times, he still manages change very, very well, and often comes home with some new positive behaviour of some sort - like Corn Flakes.

So out of this trip, we have come back with a new food added to his repertoire, and another interesting piece of knowledge about our boy: For the first few hours of a new environment, he does not eat. Not properly anyway. I believe it is his reaction to the anxiety he may be feeling while he is processing the changes. This is ok with me. Armed with this new information, now we can time our arrivals accordingly, or else arrange to have dinner 'on the road' so that I am satisfied he has eaten.

I am becoming more and more confident about travelling with my son. These trips are so good for him and for us. I love that he is exposed to new and different circumstances, and that it all adds up to experience for him to draw from in life. I love that this is one thing that we as a family don't have to give up (- yes, I thought we would have to at one point!), though the experience of it may change a little. Each trip we take, we learn a little more, and I am glad that Little Man enjoys the holiday as much as we do.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baby Miss turns Two

Yep, it's the little Baby Miss's birthday today :). I can't believe my baby is two! ...And no more little ones to come. Definitely finished! (Picture me signing 'finished' vehemently in the background here). I'm not going to write a long post about her this time, but I will refer you to the one I wrote last year on her birthday. Just because I still find it so funny.

On a side note; we have just returned from a trip interstate, so I will update more on that later on. Nice to be back though.