Sunday, November 11, 2012

80th Birthday Cake

I know, I know, I've been MIA.  I hope you haven't left me.  I am an emotional blogger - I find it hard to post when I'm feeling down.  But the other reason is, I am fussy.  I like to have pictures to accompany my posts.  It makes for more interesting reading I think, when there is something visual there too.  But since the photos I really wanted were on hubby's camera, I couldn't get them when I wanted them.  I am still waiting on said photos.  

But that's not all!  When I want to write catch-up posts, I have to have them in chronological order.  I just can't cope when they're not!  Even I am laughing at the silliness of this, but it messes with me... so I put off posting.  

Well, no more putting it off; even without those pics, I will go ahead and post.  And it may not be in chronological order!  But I'm going to get over that and post anyway.  I will try not to bombard with posts one after another with what has been going on.  There is a bit of cake, and a bit of Erik.  A bit of family and a bit of fun.  All the bits and pieces that make up this blog.

But first up, just a cake....

This one was made as a gift to my husbands grandmother, for her 80th birthday.  Only a small cake, 6", fruitcake.  I made the flowers, trying really hard to come up with a spray that was both classic, but with a more modern, cleaner feel to it.  These were the first flowers I had made since class!  We had to transport the cake with us over the 3 day journey interstate for the celebrations.  Fortunately, it made it there with minimal damage - a couple of leaf tips and only one orchid petal broke off.  I was able to fix the petal, thankfully, and the broken leaf tips were not even noticeable.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Morning Mum!

My son had a surprise for me this morning.  Not that it was much of a surprise... I was awake in bed and could hear what was going on.  Still though......

"Morning mum!  I opened the pantries ready for you today....."

"....and the fridge.  For the milk of course.  
And the freezers.  Just in case!"

"Thought I'd open the microwave too, and the cups cupboard.  You know, so you can warm up our milk"

"Oh - I didn't forget the drawers mum!  So you can get our spoons out.  Yeah.  But can't have only one drawer open, it would look wrong.  So I did the others too.  Nice and even that way mum.  But see how I left the top one in just a tiny bit - so you can know the difference?"

 "Hmm... talking about 'even', I better open the cupboard on the other side of the bench here too.  Even that one out a bit."

"Oh, what the heck.  Might as well do all of 'em!"

"Griller too of course.  That's still got a door on it after all!" 

"Here mum.... I also put all the lights on for you.  I know how much you hate when the house is dim."

"I even remembered to do the lamp!"

" Aren't I a clever boy."

Time to get the rubber bands out again........


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Interesting News.

Recently, my son had some testing done by way of the PEP-3 (Psycho-Educational Profile - 3).  This test basically shows what skills my son has, and what is emerging so that we can get a clearer picture of his abilities and a better idea of where we can work to continue building his development.  As part of this testing, I had to complete a carers assessment - basically questions asking me what my perceptions are of his abilities.

On the day of testing, my Little Man was just amazing.  It was a good day.  He responded really well to the tester, even though he had never seen her before.  She was great - she had a really fantastic way with him and he truly seemed to gel with her in a way that made my heart smile.  The testing went for around 2 hours, and for that time, Little Man showed fantastic attentiveness to the tasks required.  Even when he was clearly not interested in the activity, he did at least acknowledge the task presented to him.  I came away from this feeling really pleased with his behaviour and confident that the test results would be the most accurate we could get from him, because he responded so well.

The results were interesting.

For normally developing children,  you would expect to see their results hovering close to the median.  Some points will be above this, some below - reflecting that some skills are better than average and some less than average - but generally, the points congregate around the median line.

With ASD kids, those points are far more scattered.  They can be far above the median, and far below.  They just typically go everywhere.  

For my son, they were not only scattered, but they were scattered way, way down where an 18 month old toddler would be.  His receptive and expressive language were the worst points of the bunch.

This does not translate to good news.

In a nutshell, what this means is that autism severely hampers my son's ability to learn and develop.  In other words, on the spectrum, he is severe.

This diagram is not to scale or perfectly representative by any means, but it gives some idea of what I'm talking about in terms of my sons skills (green) in comparison to a child with normal development (red), and a child with autism (yellow).  I want to acknowledge that all children with autism are different.  But  the yellow line can be a representation of what you might expect to see for a child on the spectrum with no other disorders apart from the ASD.  The straight blue line represents where skills should be at (ideally) for a child of 55 months of age, which is how old my son was at the time of testing.

The results also strongly suggest that there is another disorder/ syndrome/ whatever co-morbid with the autism.  Meaning that very likely he has another disability as well as AD.  Whether that is Mental Impairment, or Global Developmental Delays, or Apraxia, or whatever - we don't know.  I pays to remember though, that although there is strong evidence for this, it isn't a confirmed fact for Erik.   

The one good thing that came out of this was the assurance that my perception of my son's abilities was pretty accurate.  The testing showed I had a good grasp on where he was at in terms of skills and development, so that was comforting to know.  I can see things for what they are.

Part of my carer's assessment.

All of this taken together did not really surprise me.  Much.  I guess the official 'label' of 'severe' was upsetting to hear, and I did not expect to find the strong possibility of yet another disorder on top of the AD, but really, it all just goes to explain what I already knew about my son.

In 2.5 years of assorted therapy and changes implemented at home, he has hardly made any progress.  Oh, don't get me wrong!  I'm not saying he has made no progress at all!  But the things we do get really super excited about with him....?  ...lets face it;  they are very tiny things.  This post talks a bit more about what I was expecting and what is really happening.  

So, what does this all mean? ... Well.  I don't really know.  I know what it doesn't mean though.  It doesn't mean that there is no hope for my son.  It doesn't mean that he will never speak.  It doesn't mean that we will never see any further development.  And it absolutely doesn't mean I will give up on him.

I think the road will be harder than I anticipated.... the journey more surprising than I expected.  I think the highs will now be higher, and the lows, lower.  I think that this is going to be the ride of a lifetime - an adventure, if you like.  No smooth sailing here.

I guess I need to recheck my gear, top up on supplies and maybe schedule in some rest and a good meal before I set out again, now that I know the road is ahead really is not going to be so easy.

The you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds, as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7.


With special thanks to Chook for a word in time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Letter To Kinder Parents

This was distributed just yesterday.  I hope it goes over well.

Dear friend, 

My name is Erik, and I am in the Pink group at  ********  PreSchool.  You may have noticed that I am a bit different to my peers.  That’s because I have Autism Disorder.

Autism is a condition that affects communication, social skills and behaviour/play.  

Right now, I still can’t speak - I have no words yet.  So it is very hard for me to let my friends and teachers know what I want or need.  I can get frustrated, upset and confused.  Instead, I might try to scream, make a loud noise, push or pull someone to try and show them what I mean.  My mum keeps reminding me that I will find my words one day, so I keep trying.  In the meantime, it helps when people are patient with me, and understanding of my behaviour.

I really struggle to understand things that are new and different. I am still learning the rules at kinder, and still learning rules about life too.  I don’t always understand instructions, or how to wait for a turn, or how to sit properly for mat time or to eat.  I find it hard to share my space sometimes, and I can feel very anxious if another child cries or shouts.  My teachers and parents are helping me learn how to handle all of this, but it might take me a bit longer than most other kids.

I do sometimes like to be around other children, but I don’t know how to make friends or play a game together.  It helps when someone can play alongside me, or when an adult can show me how to play, help me share or take turns. 

The world is a big and confusing place for me, and for this reason, I don’t always realise that I am in danger.  I might try to put dangerous things in my mouth. Or I sometimes try to run out through open doors and across roads and carparks.  I can’t swim and don’t understand danger around water.  It helps when doors are kept shut and locked, but if you see me try to run away without my mum, dad or teacher, please help me stay safely indoors!

I love tickles, songs and music, and my favourite colour is red.  I love to climb, jump, play on swings and go down a slide.  I like to play ring-a-rosie, and run around with other kids.  I love puzzles, bead frames, peg boards and blocks.  I am learning how to throw and catch a ball, and I am just starting to understand how wonderful the alphabet and numbers are. I also like cuddles with mum or other people I know, even though I don’t know how to give a hug.  If I like someone, I show them by leaning against them.  

I hope that if you work in my room you can be understanding and open to my unique needs and abilities.  It might also help if you can talk to your child and let them know that I am different in some ways, and that it’s ok to be different.  Please also remember that I am just like any other child trying to find my way in the world and be happy.

Thank you for reading my letter, and I hope to meet you at kinder!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This Is My Life Every Day

Sung to the tune of "Spotty kind of day"

There's a toy over here
And a shoe over there
Pasta sauce on your ear
And some snot on your hair
And a lot of lego blocks
On the floor - everywhere!
This is my life every day.

Wipe a nose over here
Wipe a bum over there
Try to cook up some dinner
When there's kids 'round your legs
Then stand guard so your son eats
Without climbing off his chair!
This is my life every day.

Help with homework over here
Sign a diary over there
Fight with boy to brush his teeth
Trying real hard not to swear
And then put them all to bed
Hugs and kisses, bedtime prayers
This is my life every day.

Have some dinner and a shower
'Cause it's time for some self care
Husband comes home from his work
Enters bathroom, just to stare
Then make lunches, iron shirt
Some computer, crash in bed
This is my life every day.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Tart

Made this on the weekend, and thought I'd share my recipe with you all. I'm not going to rave on about how good it was. I just hope you give it a try and see for yourself. All I will say is that it was a hit with everyone and whatever was left was very quickly polished off the next day by whoever got there first.... and we all tried to be first *guilty*.

A bit of a description: The base is made with oreos and a few plain sweet biscuits - makes for a yummy chocolaty flavour without being too rich. The bottom layer is chocolate flecked cheesecake - a recipe that I basically made up by tweaking lots of other different cheesecake recipes I had looked at a few years ago. The top layer is a simple chocolate mousse using half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate so that it's not too rich. Altogether it makes for a super yummy delightful dessert that really is very more-ish. You don't feel sick after this unless you have pigged out on something else beforehand.

It's not a 5 minute wonder, but it is easy to make. And once it's done, there is no baking. This is a great dessert to make the day before or even a few days before. I plan on making a double amount and using a bigger tin for this Easter weekend.

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Tart

150g Oreo biscuits
About 5 plain sweet biscuits, such as Arnotts Marie
125g butter, melted

Lightly grease a 23cm springform/cheesecake tin.
Process all biscuits into fine crumbs. Combine with melted butter and mix well. Press evenly into tin and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Chill while preparing the filling.

Bottom layer: Chocolate flecked cheesecake
250g packaged cream cheese, softened
1/6 cup caster sugar (I just used half of a 1/3 measuring cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml thickened cream
1 1/2 tsp gelatine
1 tbsp boiling water
2 tbsp grated dark chocolate

Sprinkle the gelatine over boiling water and mix briskly with a fork until dissolved.

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla essence until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the gelatine dissolved in water.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until medium peaks form. Fold gently into the cream cheese mixture.

Fold in the grated chocolate.

Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base, spreading it gently to the edges with the back of a spoon. Try to get the layer as even and smooth as possible. Chill while preparing the chocolate mousse layer.

Top layer: Chocolate mousse
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g milk chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup thickened cream
1 egg, at room temperature, separated
1 tbsp caster sugar

Place both chocolates in a heatproof bowl, and microwave at 20 second bursts, stirring with a metal spoon after each interval, until melted and smooth. You may need to decrease the time towards the end so as not to overheat your chocolate (ie. 10 or 7 second bursts). Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, whip the cream until medium peaks form.

Add the egg yolk and half the cream to the chocolate, and stir to combine.

Add the other half of the cream, and fold gently through.

Using clean dry beaters and bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue beating until glossy and sugar is dissolved.

Fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture in two batches, until combined. Don't over mix, but there shouldn't be any white streaks left in the mixture.

Gently pour over the cheesecake filling and spread as evenly as possible up to the edges with the back of a spoon. You can shake the tin very gently to smooth out the surface.

Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set. I prefer to make mine the day before and just refrigerate overnight.

To serve, you could pipe whipped cream around the edges and decorate with chocolate lattices, or sprinkle chocolate curls, or just serve it as is. Will yield 12 conservative serves, or 8 really generous serves.

*A couple of tips: Try to use good quality chocolate, as this will effect the taste and texture of your final product.

To avoid seizing your chocolate when you add the egg yolk and cream, try to have all of your ingredients at as similar temperature as possible when combining into your chocolate. Allow your chocolate to cool right down to room temperature, but not so cool that it begins to set.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Speaking Of The Fridge...

A few months ago......

Oooooh! So this is how you open the fridge! Hey...there's a light in here! I wonder how it works...

Hmm... Here's a button. Light off....

Light on.... Cool!

I wonder if I can fit inside...


He also tried to get inside the potato basket in the pantry.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Easily A Pattern Can Form

Sometimes it amazes me just how quickly my son can form a pattern. It's almost like, he just decides he is going to do a thing from now on, and that's how it must be done, end of story. Sometimes, it makes me chuckle. I smile as I watch him setting a pattern or plan in motion, and the delight on his face as he does this makes my heart sing. Other times, I wince on the inside and do my best to stop it from happening. And occasionally I am mixed up in both... because he's cute, but this is not good!

One morning, Little Man realised that our two pantries, fridge and deep-freezer were all in a row.
Like so....

He was down from his chair in a heartbeat, making happy hissy sounds and smiling. He opened the first pantry wide.

Opened the second one.

Opened the fridge.

And opened the freezer. Then stood looking at the whole thing, very proud of himself.

I stood watching and just smiling.... I think I was half asleep. (I'm really not a morning person - four babies and 10 years have not made me a morning person. Face it - it's never gonna happen!). But somewhere in the back of my foggy brain, I thought; This is not a good thing. Quietly and without a fuss, I went over and closed the fridge and freezer. He kept opening and I kept closing. Sometimes it's just easier to do that than hold him back. I know it isn't good for the long run, but seriously, it's first thing in the morning people! Blegh!

My husband however, is a clever man. With one simple action, he stopped Little Man in his tracks and put an end to the obsession that was blossoming before us. Oh we had tantrums... I still had to deal with that in the end anyway (*mumbles ungratefully under her breath*). But, it was necessary and alot better to stop this immediately.

What did he do, you ask? Oh he is a clever, clever man. He simply interrupted Erik's pattern. Like this....

One rubber band around the second pantry handles so they couldn't be opened. Pattern interrupted. Boy cannot move on to fridge and freezer 'cause it doesn't fit the pattern and it's just wrong!

Love it! Hehe.

Oh, he kept trying, for days after. And every time I would accidentally leave the rubber band off, he would be flying over to those doors and opening them all up. But if he sees the rubber band, he doesn't even try. Which is great! Because he decided to move on to the other kitchen cupboards. A rubber band here, a rubber band there.... and they stay shut.

I wish breaking patterns was always this easy. But the truth is, it usually takes alot of work. And it's very frustrating. We were lucky to see this one forming and nip it in the bud.


Friday, March 9, 2012


I has been around 2 years since Little Man was diagnosed. Sometimes, it amazes me how naive I was at that time. Of course, I was crushed. To say the least. But I had the impression that with help and therapy, within a couple of years, he would be speaking - at least a little bit - he would be toilet trained, he would be doing all sorts of things. Oh - and I would see what he was crazy good at... you know, all savant-like!

None of that has happened.

At 4.5 yrs, he still cannot speak, toilet training has been a dismal failure so far - he is still essentially in nappies. In terms of all the goals and expectations I had for this point in the future, nothing has been achieved. And I definitely can't see any fancy-knock-your-socks-off kind of talent in any specific area. He struggles with almost everything.

Yet strangely enough, I am not as disappointed as you might think. I guess that over the years, I have come to accept things the way they are with him. He is how he is, and that's just the way it is. But there is a danger in this, and the danger is that I can become complacent. Stop trying. Not necessarily give up, but rather just go with the flow. Do what is easier. Do what works rather than push the boundaries and try to teach new and better ways. Correct ways.

Something I so often notice in parents of ASD kids that I have met, is that there is a huge amount of bitterness. Honestly, I cannot blame them. The disappointment you experience... the pain...when you find out your child is autistic.... it's almost unbearable. Bitterness stems from disappointment, and there is only so much a person can take. I have bitterness in life - I wish I could say I didn't. I wish I could be one of those joyful ones who just continually look at the bright side. But I am just not one of those people. I'm not wired that way. If I have to be completely honest, trying to be that way nearly destroyed me.

The thing is, the bitterness I have does not come from the disappointments experienced with my son. I am surprised by this, really. But it's the truth. My bitterness comes from other pain in my life. My son... well... The disappointment and pain only gave birth to a new hope for him. There have been many occasions where I have had to reconsider my expectations of what he is going to achieve at various stages in life. I went from thinking he should be speaking by four years old, to thinking... I am certain he will speak, but it might not be till eight, or nine, or ten. Even twelve or thirteen. It might not be for ages. But I'm still certain it will happen. It's more a postponement of timing I suppose.

This hope I have for him and for his life, it isn't a forced hope. It isn't one that goes "I HAVE to hold on to hope or I will die!". It just seems to be there for him. And I don't really know how I have managed to be this way.

I have come to accept that he may never get married and have a family. He may never drive a car, have a job, have a house. This is ok with me. Yet I still hope for that for him. My deepest desire for him is to know God and be content in life. Happy. Getting married does not necessarily equate to being happy for people, and if he has no desire to, then I am not going to pressure him. And if he is comfortable using public transport to get around, then great! I do hope for these these, but as long as he has found some purpose, some pleasure in his life, then I am satisfied.

One thing I haven't yet come to accept is the notion that he might never speak. For some reason, this is a big issue with me. I refuse to accept the possibility, even though the odds are stacked against him. I don't know why this is so important to me. I wish I did. I just know that it is.

So in two years, and essentially, 10 months also (we knew he needed help before the diagnosis), with all the early intervention we have sought and done for him, there has been so little change.

This is not where I expected to be in 2 years.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Kinder

Today was the first day of Erik's new kinder. It is quite a different ballgame to the childcare he has been going to. Childcare did have a kinder program within it, but the environment was still rather chaotic and the activities haphazard. Childcare has done it's job in terms of allowing my son to grow accustomed to being around other children and has exposed him to various situations he might not otherwise be in. It has been good. But I feel that his potential in that place has hit a ceiling now. He needs something more structured... more intensive... more specific.

One of the ways I sought to address this was to go to a centre-based early intervention place. This was not possible, but we were offered a place in an Autism-specific playgroup. This has been fantastic for him. Absolutely brilliant. Through the course of the two terms were have been there, Erik has learned to sit for most of the group time, anticipate events, and has begun to get involved with some of the interpersonal activities. It has also been great for me to connect with other ASD parents too. The whole experience has simply been perfect for us.

Another way I sought to bring more structure into Erik's 'education' was to enrol him into a council funded kinder - a mainstream place with proper session times, etc. This was on the advice of my EI key worker. She observed that proper kinders (as opposed to long day care centres) tended to have a more structured program. The children tended to be engaged in specific activities, the environment was not as chaotic, learning and play were a little more intensive - which is just what I was looking for. When I inspected a few kindergartens while looking for the right one, I did indeed see what she meant. A much calmer environment, and much more engaged children. So I enrolled him.

And today was the first day. It was all looking good, and he seemed to like the place and has settled in very well. No anxiety. Mind you, we had two previous visits to the place while interviewing and arranging funding for him. Erik seems to have a great knack for remembering places, and this one was no exception. He remembered and was pleased to be there.

So why was I so nervous?

I had been shaking and stressing all morning about this. Not normally a panicky parent, I decided to face up to how I was feeling, and investigate the reasons why I was so anxious about this. I found:

1. I was concerned about him absconding. Very concerned in fact. While there are security and safety doors around the complex, the door to his actual room is not secure at all. It was open the entire time parents were dropping their children in, with no-one specifically looking out for my son. (Aide worker hadn't started yet). When it did close, it was easily pushed open with light pressure and no need to press the handle. My son is usually a quiet boy. No one would notice him missing. It bothered me alot.

I reminded myself that the staff are fully aware of this risk and that the aide worker was due to start shortly. I reminded myself that the complex itself is secure, so if he did leave the room, he shouldn't get out of the building unless an ignorant adult or older child allowed him through a door or didn't close one properly. But really, nobody should be letting an unaccompanied child through any door. Yet sometimes, people are silly. - See the mess I get myself into? I found it hard to leave him this time.

2. The differences between my son and normal kids is now glaringly obvious. Children of this age (4 - 5 yrs) are not oblivious to those differences either. The kids notice that Erik is different... they don't know how to deal with him. What if they are mean to him? What if they decide they don't like him? What if they bully him? My son is a gentle boy. He is a great danger to himself and other children, but is otherwise gentle and not aggressive. If another child was to hit, punch, kick, bite, whack - whatever - him, he could not defend himself. He would not know how. He could not even tell the teacher. And if they tease him verbally... well, it's easy to think he doesn't understand so it's ok. But actually, he takes in more than we realise.

I reminded myself that I cannot bubble wrap my boy, even if he is more vulnerable than most kids. I reminded myself that he needs to learn how to deal with situations like this anyway, as it is more than likely he will experience hostility and nastiness to some degree in the future. I reminded myself that the staff are aware and will not tolerate such behaviour - provided they notice it. I reminded myself the the staff attitudes will flow down to the children, so if the staff are kind, tolerant and accepting, the children will learn to be too. I reminded myself that God is watching over my son when I cannot, and even when I can.

Even working through all this rationally, I still wasn't able to shake the anxious feelings. I think maybe it is all just part of motherhood.

He did have a great day. Staff said he loved the swings, climbing on frames and going down the slide. He did not join the other children for mat time - I never expected him to - but he did stay close by at a table with a bead frame. When I picked him up, he smelled awful. Apparently he blessed them all with a big poo for his first day, and either leaked a bit or was not cleaned up properly. I don't know which. He loves his new kinder bag, and seems quite taken with the tag on it that has his photo. I love that he loves it, because I searched high and low for a bag that was "Erik" ... couldn't find one I liked. So I just bought this one seeing as it was cheap and seemed cute enough without being too big. The only other glitch I had with him was actually getting him from the car to kinder - he has developed a certain behaviour recently that has made some transitions very stressful (More about that in another post hopefully). But we managed, and overall, it was a good day.

So our weekly routine now goes: Monday - Autism playgroup; Tuesday - Therapy; Wednesday - Kinder; Thursday - Childcare; Friday - Kinder. It will be a full-on year for him (and me!) but I am hoping to see alot of new and wonderful developments in it.


Monday, January 2, 2012

A Day At The Beach

We haven't been since before Little Man's diagnosis. So the last time was almost three years ago. He was still able to go around in the pram most of the time, so when we were at the beach, he was always in his pram anyway. It was shortly after that trip that we had the initial bombshell of possible autism diagnosis dropped upon us.


For all this time we have not been back to the beach. Partly because of Erik, partly because I was either pregnant or breastfeeding during two of those three years. Way too hard to manage two small ones, another small one with autism and a very tiny one. More trouble than it's worth. Erik's aversion to textures didn't bring any favour to that decision either.

But on new years' day, we went. Can't stay away forever!

We left the house at about 8:15am, and first off, Erik cried and protested when we drove right past the way to grandma's house and onto the highway. I had been talking to him that morning about going to the beach, but "the beach" has no meaning for him. He would have had no clue what I was talking about. I knew that, but hoped it was enough to convey that we were going somewhere new and different. We put on a kids CD and that helped settle him. After that, he was fine.

When we arrived, he seemed pleased to be getting out of the car. We didn't enter any buildings either, so he was very happy. He really does love being outdoors. It was a bit of a walk down to the beach, but he did not have an issue with this. With Mr Monkey and holding aunty's hand, he walked all the way down. And then continued walking around for the next hour. Auntie followed him around for a while as we got things set up. He refused to allow me to take his shirt off. Lately he has become very distressed when he has no shirt on, so I let him just wear it. Probably better sun protection anyway. Then I followed him around for a while.

I absolutely cannot leave him to 'play' in our vicinity. He has no such concept. He just walks and walks and walks wherever his feet take him. Between people's beach chairs, over people's towels, on some people's feet if I was not quick enough. On rocks, seaweed, hot (and I mean HOT) sand. He just goes. He seemed happy enough doing this. But auntie and I quickly got tired. I knew that there would be alot of this sort of watching involved - outings with Erik are always like this - but in heat of up to 44C (that's 111.2F for all you Fahrenheit people), yeah... it got a bit too much.

I managed to convince him to sit down under the gazebo for a while. Then he did something amazing...

One of the things we have worked on right from the beginning with Erik, is his aversion to textures. As a two year old, there is no way he would have touched sand. No. Way. Now, look at him.

Look at those handfuls of sand. He was scraping it up in his hands and letting it run through his fingers. Smiling and really investigating the stuff. For me, this was a delight to watch. Not only that, but he would sit in it too. How wonderful to see the effort of years of work, little by little, gently pushing the boundaries, slowly de-sensitising, to finally see him playing with and enjoying sand!

Baby Miss had no such reservations. Two years old, and on this day, she was right into it from the first minute! Covered from head to toe, and couldn't be happier. Too sweet :)

Most of the day, he would walk around. Most of the time, I followed him. But there was reprieve with auntie, uncle, daddy and other friends helping out at times. When he sat under the gazebo, it was never for very long. I guess it was too boring.

He showed no interest whatsoever in going out to the water. Every time I tried to steer him that way, he protested and whined and made his way back up again. And for a start, I didn't push it. But later in the afternoon, I decided it was time to introduce Erik to the seashore. I carried him kicking and whining all the way to the shoreline where the gentle waves were rolling in. Daddy was there to help, which is good, because Erik was not impressed.

The water was cold, but oh so good on your feet on such a hot day. You could very quickly get used to it. He didn't like it one bit, but with wave after wave, he came to appreciate the pattern it presented.

"Here comes the water Erik! Here it comes! Oohhhhhh! Water!" .... whine, whine, whine....
"Look, there it goes again! Water is going away. Bye bye water" ... slightly less whining, slightly more smiling.
"Here comes the water again Erik! Look! Here it comes!" ... whine, whine, whine....
"It's going away again. Bye bye water. There it goes" .....

We held him there for about five minutes, no more. Then let him loose and I followed him up the beach again. He was very pleased to be let free.

Fish and chips for lunch - seriously, what else do you eat at the beach?! Erik wasn't too interested in food. But this is typical of him when he is having a new experience. My only concern was that he drink enough, which he did - but just barely. Shortly after lunch, he started getting 'difficult'. He kept trying to abscond, would not consent to stay under the gazebo, drop and cry when we tried to direct his walking patterns, and was generally annoyed and grumpy. That's my cue.

Even though I could see the situation deteriorating, I hesitated to tell hubby it was time to go. I should not have done that. By the time I told him, Erik was almost impossible to manage. The plan was the I take him up to the car, and leave the others to pack up what remains and follow us there. What actually happened was that I mostly carried him to the car, because he refused to walk where I was taking him. Crying and tantruming most of the way. I was exhausted, had a throbbing headache, weak and tired from the heat. I guess so was he. But carry him I did. Over the sand. Up the steps, up the hill and through the car park. Every time I put him on his feet, he would drop and scream. So I really had no choice but to carry him.

We got to the car, but I had no keys. There was a playground nearby, and I thought I could take him there while we waited for the others. He would not have a bar of it. He wanted to get into the car. For my son to turn down a playground means that he really is past the point of negotiation. In the scorching heat, I held back frustrated tears as he pushed at me, took my hand repeatedly and placed it on the door handle of the car, cried and screamed, butted his head against my chest ....he was so tired, so hot and frustrated. So was I. And if I had a headache, he probably had one too. I felt so sorry for him - I knew what he was trying to tell me, but he didn't know I knew. We were at the mercy of the others. All we could do was wait until they got there.

Fortunately, they were not too far away. My son and I waited only 10 or 15 minutes by the car. The longest 10-15 minutes of my life, it seemed. Hubby unlocked the car, and we finally got the boy inside. He settled immediately. All he wanted was to get in the car and go home. He'd had enough of the beach for today. Truth be told, he had done remarkably well. We had spent a good 5 hours or so at the beach - more than I expected to. And apart from that episode right at the end as we were leaving, the experience was not overly stressful.

Although it was not a leisurely outing for me, or for my husband, we both were aware that this trip was mainly for the kids anyway. Their pleasure is my pleasure. Their happy experience, my delight. That's just how it is now when we are out as a family. It won't be this way forever, I keep reminding myself. The time will come when things get easier. (I just hope it's not when I'm too old to enjoy a day at the beach in the sun).

The two big girls settled into the back seat, rather quiet all the way home. I think they were tired too. The two little ones.... well... I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Not even one minute down the road..... :)