I’m feeling so tired

I’m feeling so tired

For the last 2 or 3 days I’ve been feeling so tired. Perhaps it’s a turn in the weather, we’ve had lots of lovely sunny spring days during this lockdown. This week however it’s been more like the British dull, grey and drizzly weather, us Brits know only too well.

Perhaps it’s the lack of Vitamin D, and not getting outside as much. Leading to an even greater feeling of isolation than previously, but I’ve been feeling so tired this week, and really struggled for motivation.

Annoyingly 3/4s of this post appears to have vanished, and I’ve not got it saved anywhere else 🤦‍♂️

Feeling so tired

There was at least another 7 paragraphs, talked about the difficulty and demands on parenting autistic children. I don’t think I can remember well enough to write it all out again, even if I wanted to. To be honest I don’t want to, the tiredness probably had something to do with me messing the post, and i’m feeling a bit dejected about it.

I’ll quickly say the two main points, that are proving difficult, and taking my energy. Jack’s routine. Dinner has to be at 12, and Tea has to be at 5. If it’s not he gets annoyed, sometimes angry. With Lily it is the demand for attention. All the jobs I would normally do when the kids are at school, I’m finding difficult to do, as Lily always wants you with her. I will just have to keep plugging away and do what I can.

I also went on to talk about playing in the rain, but I will now do that in a separate post tomorrow. As I have plans with Lily to get the waterproofs on and go for a long walk in the rain tomorrow. Assuming that it does actually rain that is.

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How to make a milk bottle elephant

How to make a milk bottle elephant

Lily has been looking at some new ideas, to put into her Lily’s Art Gallery section of the website. Rather than just showing you this one, we decide to tell you how to make a milk bottle elephant, which is her latest creation.

It’s quite simple to make, but I think it looks amazing. All you need as an empty plastic milk bottle. The big 6 pint bottles work best, but you could make a small elephant with a 4 pint bottle. Then all you need are some scissors, glue, card, tissue paper and some google eyes. Then you are ready to go.

Making your elephant

The first thing you have to do is cut the top of the milk bottle off, approximately 15cm down, cutting through the handle and the main part of the bottle. Then cut an extra 3cm off of the handle, that is the trunk.

On the bigger sides of the bottle, cut out a curve Starting 4cm in and finishing 4cm in the other side to make the legs.

Side of milk bottle elephant
The curves to make the legs

To complete the legs, you need to cut out a curve at each end, to the same height as the other to curves. Which should now give your bottle the appearance of having legs. If my instructions aren’t clear, hopefully you can see from the photos.

Back of milk bottle elephant
The back end of the bottle

The next step is to cut some elephant ears out of card. Then it is time to decorate your elephant. You can decorate it however you want. As always Lily wanted it to be as colourful as possible, so she cut out some rough square shapes, in numerous different coloured tissue paper and decorated the bottle and the ears, by glueing the paper to them.

Card elephant ear
the elephants ear

The last thing to do is glue the ears onto the bottle, and then glue some google eyes on too. That’s it! Pretty simple stuff, but something that I think looks really good. Why not try it yourself? Lily had great fun doing it.

Milk bottle elephant completed
the finished elephant

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Self Isolation Questionnaire

Self Isolation Questionnaire


Today’s post is a sort of Self Isolation questionnaire. I was never much into blogs before I started writing my own, but now I read a lot of them. There are lots of good stories and ideas out there. One thing that really interested me, was a blog post titled 40 self isolation journal prompts at the blog Our favourite jar. Ive narrowed it down to 25 question, which I will be providing answers too. To see the full list 40 head over https://ourfavouritejar.com/, that’s where the inspiration for this post came from, there’s lots of other great posts to read as well.

I’ve never kept a journal or diary, but in a way this is my diary. Not every post is about me, what I’ve been doing, or how I’m feeling. But this is the only place I keep record of those things. That’s why I’ve decided to answer the questions here. Feel free to use the questions yourself, i think it’s a worthwhile exercise, which is why I’m doing it. So, on with the questions

Self Isolation Questionnaire


1. How long have you been self isolating now?

We started when Boris Johnson made the announcement. A quick google tells me that was March 23rd, which makes it 37 days as It writing this.

2. Who are you isolating with?

My partner Natalie and our 2 kids Jack and Lily.

3. Are you still working?

No. I actually left work in March, it wasn’t related to Covid-19.

4. How are you feeling today?

I’m feeling pretty good. I did quite a bit of cleaning today, and rewarded myself with a couple of games on Madden 20 on the PS4. It’s the first miserable rainy day I can really recall since this started, so I’ve left the kids playing on their games while I got on with the cleaning.

5. Who do you miss?

Our Sunday routine for as long as I can remember, has been I take Jack & Lily to my parents while Natalie goes to work. We are video calling my parents to keep in touch, but all 3 of us are missing the visits. Especially getting to play with their dog Mack.

6. What keeps you going?

When things start to get on top of me, I try and get a bit of space and listen to some music. Music has always been a very important means of escape for me.

7. What events are you missing out on? How do you feel about it?

Currently we haven’t missed out on anything that was planned. We do have a holiday booked in August, in Devon. We’ve only paid a deposit so far, and they’ve informed us we would get a refund if they are closed due to lockdown, or we could choose to move the holiday to next year. We are keeping the options open for now.

8. How did you exercise today?

Vigorous cleaning was the sum total of my exercise today. Normally it’s been playing sports games in the garden with Lily, and some days going for a walk.

9. Have you had to go shopping?

Natalie has done the main shopping, as she normally does, and she is doing it for her parents as well, who are both in the high risk group. I’ve been to the local shop a couple of times when we’ve ran out of milk.

10. How are you keeping in touch with people?

As I’ve mentioned, video calls to my parents, then I’m on a WhatsApp group with my closest friends. Then using social media to communicate with everyone else.

11. What is on your to-do list today?

I don’t have one.

12. How are you coping emotionally?

I’ve been up and down, but mostly up. I have long term depression, so I was worried how I’d handle this situation. Overall I’m doing ok.

13. How is home schooling going?

Hit and miss. Lily quite likes doing the school work…when she’s in the mood for it. Jack not so much.

14. What would you do right now, if you could do anything?

I would go for a nice walk in the Peak District with the family, followed by a pub lunch.

15. The first thing you will do when we are released?

Not much. I don’t think I will be rushing straight out to be honest.

16. Has this time made you change your mindset?

Not really, it has more reinforced my mindset. The need to slow down and focus on family, which is what led me to leave work. I would have been classed as a key worker, if I’d still been at work, and would have been expected to continue working. I have huge respect and admiration for all the key workers out there, but I’m glad to be at home putting all my efforts into my family at this time.

17. How do you deal with difficult days?

If it’s the kids having a difficult day, just put the extra effort in to make them entertained and happy. Get some games on the go, try and get everyone doing something together.

18. Do you avoid the news?

Yes! Like the plague, and that’s 365 days a year. I figure if anything important is announced, I will hear about it.

19. One thing that made you smile today?

Reading a new book with Lily, it was called the Zoo bet.

20. How are the children dealing with it?

They have been up and down. It’s not been as bad as I might have feared. Jack has delayed processing, so issues might arise later on, but up to now he’s coped fairly well considering his routines disappeared overnight. Lily has started to get bored revelry, and is missing her friends from school a lot.

21. What have you done that you wouldn’t normally have time for?

Stuff with the kids. They are quite demanding, so other jobs I’d like to get on with, aren’t always easy to get too. I have managed some time for it, but of my time is spent entertaining the kids.

22. Have you kept a list of things to do once this is over?

No, it’s perhaps something to do though. I think we will all need some things to look forward too.

23. Do you feel closer to people even with the distance?

Strangely, yes. I guess as most of us don’t have much to do, we are all talking to each other more than normal. Whether that’s phone/video calls or messages.

24. Have your political views altered in any way?

No.

25. What has been your self isolation highlight?

Our kitchen sink got blocked. I’m not known as a DIY handy man, but I managed to take the pipes apart, clear the blockage and put it all back together again. It was a proud moment for me.

That’s it for the self isolation questionnaire. I hope you enjoyed my answers and why not have a go at it yourself?

Dad Does Autism

Thank you

Thank you

Today I would just like to say thank you to everybody who left us a message, after yesterday post about the passing away of our pet Guinea pig Buffy. Whether you left a message on here, Facebook, Twitter or directly, we’re read them all and we appreciate them all. Usually I reply to each individual message, but I just feeling like it. So wanted to thank everybody together.

The house has felt strange, as anybody who’s had a pet Guinea Pig knows, they are extremely noisy. Since being on her own, out other Guinea Pig Biscuit has been very quiet, I just hope she gets back to her normal self soon. After the kids went to bed last night it was very quiet, and felt a bit weird.

More cheerful things

On a more cheerful note, the kids have been playing well together. Lily has been wearing me out, wanting to play all sorts of sports in the garden. Jack rarely wants to join in, so he just hangs around the garden doing his own thing. He has been making curry’s on his Pokemon game on his Nintendo Switch, I don’t know what curry has to do with Pokemon. But he wanted to make a real one, so he made prawn curry for me and him to have for tea, which was nice. Natalie and Lily don’t like curry, so had something else.

Thank you post curry

I could get her used to Jack making the tea haha. It’s not been an easy couple of days, but the kids seem to be holding up ok. So I will finish by just saying thank you again.

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Losing a pet

Losing a pet

It is with a heavy heart, that I have to share some sad news. Yesterday one of our Guinea Pigs passed away. Losing a pet is always difficult, but with things being difficult at the moment it almost feels worse. Playing with the Guinea Pigs was one of the things, that was bringing a smile to the kids faces. Something that is proving more and more difficult, especially with Lily who is starting to look really fed up.

So to suddenly lose Buffy (yes she was named after my favourite slayer of vampires) has hit hard. We first noticed a lump on her back a few days ago. Natalie rang the vets and they said it was probably a cyst, and to keep an eye on it. Due to the lockdown they were only taking in emergency cases. Friday night through to Saturday morning she deteriorated quickly, so we got her booked in at the vets.

To be honest, when I put her into the travel box I knew she wasn’t coming home. There was barely any movement, and once inside she buried herself in the hay. It just felt to me like she was trying to hide away to die, which is an instinct in a lot of animals. At the vets she had a fit during her examination and died, the post mortem showed cancerous ovarian tumours, so at least she is t suffering anymore.

Our pet guinea pig buffy

How the kids are taking it

Lily cried herself to sleep last night. I stayed with her until she fell asleep, it was hard to see her so upset. It was more than just tears, she got quite distressed. She is very sensitive, loves animals and gets very attached. I’m expecting more of the same over the next few days, before she settles down.

Jack also loves animals and gets attached, but has a lot of difficulty showing his emotions. I’ve talked about this, and his delayed processing before, click here to read about that in more detail. We told the kids separately, as Lily crying might upset Jack. So I was the one who told Jack. As expected he went very quiet, I could see he was upset as his legs were shaking rapidly. He asked how she died, which is normal for Jack. He has to know every detail, I assume that helps him process what has happened.

We talked about how Buffy would now see Fluffy again, who was the Guinea Pig we brought at the same time as Buffy who died a couple of years ago. As well as Dylan my parents old dog. My parents look after the Guinea Pigs when we go on holiday, Dylan used to sit on the grass watching them in their play pen before he died.

The grieving process

Losing a pet isn’t nice for anyone. Jack and Lily have added difficulties, Lily doesn’t really understand death yet, I don’t think Jack really does either to be honest. Then he has his emotional and delayed processing issues. The grieving process will be different for both of them, but we just have to support them both the best way we can.

Buffy has been cremated and will be coming home. We aren’t completely sure what to do yet, seeing the ashes might be too much for Lily, but Jack will probably need to see them to accept that she has gone. Losing a pet is the downside of the wonderful joy of having animals as part of your family.

We still have the one Guinea Pig (Biscuit) at home, but we are unsure what to do next. We’ve been told it could be 6 months before pets are on sale again. If we got another Guinea Pig there would be a big age gap, with one dying long before the other again. Biscuit will also have been alone for some time, and might not accept another one coming in. As I’ve said before in my Are dogs good for autistic children post, we’d like to explore the possibility of getting a dog. We will see how it goes.

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The positive things

The positive things

I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s really important to look at the positive things at the moment. I have been up and down myself, which is why I decided to write this post. So I can myself focus in on some of the positive things that are happening at the moment.

The first and most obvious thing is, having lots of time to spend with the kids. Now of course it’s not all roses and sunshine, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed it. Watching Lily do her art, baking cakes and playing some board games has been nice. Lily’s latest creation is this lovely blue and green penguin, made from a plastic bottle cut in half. Then wrapped in newspaper and painted. Then stuck on some googly eyes and cardboard wings.

Penguin

Getting outside

Before I hurt my foot we were playing lots of sport in the garden, I think I’m just about fully recovered now, so we can start doing that again. Getting Jack outside in the garden is still hit and miss, but he’s getting out enough that’s it’s not a major problem. Jack and dad time has largely been about watching movies and snacks, with a bit of Lego building thrown in. We have been on a few short walks. Jack doesn’t want to go everyday, but again he’s going enough for it not to be a major concern.

I’ve also had a couple of walks, where it’s just me and Lily. Both kids like to have their own time with us. We live in a small village, so we are surrounded by fields and a lot of animals. There seems to be a lot of horses round us, which Lily loves. So we walked up to take a look at some of them, which was really nice and Lily loves it.

Lily and horses

I’m not a hardcore environmentalist or anything, but I also think it’s quite nice that everything has slowed down. I’m sure Mother Nature is taking some deep breathes of cleaner air at the moment. Obviously things can’t stay like this, but I do think there is a lesson to be learned regarding slowing down, and what people’s priorities are.

Friendships

It’s been a very interesting time for friendships. I’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances over the years, from school, college, football teams and work. There is only a very small group of friends I stay in contact with regularly. At the start of the lockdown we were talking a lot, as we all processed what was going on. It’s slowed down a bit now, as o think everyone has settled into a bit of a routine with what’s going on. But it was good to have friends there, helping to keep each other going.

Jack and Lily are both missing their friends from school. It used to be said autistic people cant make friends, which is absolute rubbish. Both Jack and Lily crave friendship. None of Jack’s friends from school live anywhere near us. But Lily has seen a couple of her friends around and has been able to say hello. We live close to the local shop, so when we are in the front garden we see lots of people.

Lily saw her best friend/boyfriend, and his mum took this lovely photo of them waving to each other over the garden fence. You could see how much they wanted to be able to play, hopefully they will be able to soon. It is lovely to see how strong the friendship is.

Waving the positive things
waving, with Jack sneaking in the photo in the background

They are a few of the positive things I could think of. Have you had any positive experiences come from this pandemic? We’d love to hear about them, so feel free to let us know in the comments.

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Chocolate fairy cakes

Chocolate fairy cakes

Lily wanted a break from art today. She decided she wanted to bake some chocolate fairy cakes instead. First of all I would like to say thank you for all the lovely comments, about Lily’s art work, on yesterday’s post. I sat with her this afternoon whilst she was reading them, and she was so pleased that people were enjoying her work.

Preparing to bake cakes

So today she wanted to bake cakes. It took a while to decide to make, but in the end Lily decided on Chocolate fairy cakes. We followed a very simple recipe, as you can see from the ingredients list below.

Cake ingredients

Lily did most of the work herself. Most of my help came through reassuring her that she was doing it right, and that the ingredient measures were right. Then I stood back as she started mixing the butter and sugar.

Mixing the cake ingredients

Then came the eggs, flour and cocoa powder. I was called upon while Lily had a little break because her arm was tired, to finish the mixing. Lily then put the mixture into the cases, when they were ready I put them into the oven.

A little TV break and a drink while we waiting for the cakes to be ready, and then came Lily’s favourite bit. Decorating the cakes. It’s always the part she most looks forward to. I helped her make some simple icing, using just icing sugar and water. Then it was sprinkles time. As you can see, Lily likes her sprinkles and likes to get creative with them.

Chocolate fairy cakes

Chocolate fairy cakes

They were very easy to make, it kept Lily busy for the afternoon and she had fun doing it. Then you get the bonus of getting to eat cake at the end. I think it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Cake

Jack was given the first cake, and gave it his seal of approval. Meanwhile I was left to do the washing up.

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Getting creative

Getting creative

If this isn’t your first time reading one of my posts, you’ll probably know that Lily loves her art. She enjoys getting creative, and she’s been doing a lot of art whilst being off school. You can’t just keep drawing pictures though, so we’ve been looking at different things to do.

One thing she has enjoyed doing, is blow painting with straws. She did a really nice one of a dolphin that cut out of card, and put in a sea background. It was so nice it deserved to go in a frame. Though we haven’t yet settled on a place for it to go in the house.

Dolphin painting

That one was very precise, with a picture in mind. She then did another one, which is a more traditional blow painting, which I also really like, again there is an animal cut out of cardboard in the corner. I think it’s supposed to be a dog, Lily doesn’t seem too sure herself. Oh well it adds to the intrigue.

Blow painting


Finally we come to my favourite piece, and something completely different.

Branch art

A small branch decorated with leaves that have been cut out of paper and coloured in, then attached using string. Then we’ve used the string to hang it in pride of place on the upstairs landing.

Lily really enjoyed doing these, and we are looking at other things to do. The next idea we have is some paper roll animals which should be fun. I am always a big supporter of getting creative, and not just for children, adults too. I find it an extremely important part of maintaining my mental health.

As always Lily would like to know which one people like the most, so if you can comment your favourite below it would be really appreciated.

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How is lockdown homeschooling going?

How is lockdown homeschooling going?

When they announced the schools were closing, and they sent work home for the kids to do. My first thoughts on lockdown homeschooling were, I don’t see it happening, especially for Jack. Lily has always had to do homework, and reading tasks etc.. so doing some work at home is fairly normal for her.

Jack on the other hand, has never had any homework, ever. When he was at his old school it was an achievement to get him in school, and an even bigger achievement to get him doing work at school. So homework was never even thought about. Now at his current school, Jack is much happier, and seems to enjoy school most of the time, homework has never been on the agenda.

Jack associates different things with different places, and won’t accept them anywhere else. This can be with the most simple of things. A recent example is hash browns. Jack ate hash browns as part of his “brunch” (He basically got up to late to have a breakfast and lunch before being picked up) for the first time. He told us how much he liked them, so we brought some for him to have at home. His reaction was, hash browns are for (name of respite place) not for home, and he was unhappy with us for getting them.

It might seem silly to some people, but it’s the same thing you see with autistic people and routine. The way I see it, whatever makes it so autistic people need their routines, is at work here. Hash browns mean respite. Sundays mean going to Grandma’s, which obviously is an issue at the moment.

Lockdown homeschooling

So I never expected Jack to take to lockdown homeschooling, and he hasn’t at all. I’ve tried to get him “learning” through things he likes, without ever mentioning school work. But even that is proving difficult, this week he is finding the situation more difficult than ever. I don’t want to force him to do things, apart from the fact it won’t work, it won’t do him any good. At the same time I don’t want him doing nothing for however long this goes on for. It’s a difficult situation that I just don’t have the answer too.

I have some ideas, but this week Jack has not been cooperative with anything I’ve tried. If anyone has good any fun ideas I can try then feel free to let me know. I’m at the stage of trying anything. Today being Sunday, I will just let him chill out, then see if he will do anything tomorrow.

Making more progress with Lily

Lily is more open to doing school work, and has done some worksheets. But the problem then is, she sees that Jack isn’t doing any, and quite rightly from an 8 year olds point of view. Says it’s not fair she is doing school work, while Jack plays on his Xbox. So the worksheets have been put away for now, and I’m trying to do fun learning activities instead. Of Course Lily is always wanting to do arts and crafts, but I’ve needed some other ideas as well.

Playing bingo
Bingo!!!

Whilst clearing out the garage yesterday, we found this old bingo game. Lily was fascinated by it, and couldn’t wait to play it. So there was the days numeracy lesson, with Lily being the bingo caller. Jack didn’t want to join in, but I’m hoping if we set it up with some snacks and some prizes, then he might want to play. Thinking outside the box, and making things fun are what’s important at the moment. I’ve got some ideas but like I said, I’m open to any ideas, feel free to leave some in the comments below.

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Special Friends Belper

Special Friends Belper

There is a local charity near us, that I have talked about before. Click here to view a previous blog post about them. They are called Special Friends, and they are based in Belper, Derbyshire. Lily has done a number of different activities with them that she has really enjoyed. If you live in the Derbyshire area I highly recommend them. You can find more information at their website https://www.special-friends.co.uk/

Once again we go on the the current situation with Covid 19, as it dominates everything everyone is doing. Events that Lily would enjoy going to, which involve lots of other children, can’t be going ahead right now. Hopefully they can get back to business as usual when this is all over, and Lily gets one of her outlets back. Where she can just go and be a kid and mix with others, and not have the worry of Jack’s needs. Which sometimes do get in the way of what Lily wants to do, as much as we try not to let it.

A special friends surprise

Today a surprise came through the letter box for Lily. A plastic folder than had in side a certificate, a framed photograph and a couple of other things.

Special friends folder

It had been dropped off by the people at Special Friends. For them to be making the effort to do this at this time, speaks volumes for the people running it. I don’t know how many children they did it for, but I’m sure every one of them were just as pleased to see the folder as Lily was.

In these difficult times, it’s the gestures like this that keep you going. It really brightened up the day for Lily. She has started looking a bit down recently, but this and a couple of other things have certainly made her a lot happier. So a massive thank you to the people at Special Friends.

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