Monday, 19 March 2018

It's been a while ....

So it's been about 18 months since I last wrote a piece for my blog.  It's a been a tough time and at the moment life seems to be at it's hardest.  Homeschooling is going well, still a challenge but still better than school life so that's a win.  But I have to say, the rest of my day to day is getting harder.  Partly because I am on my own without family support and the friends I do have all have their own stuff going on so can't really be a physical help for my day to day issues. So I have only myself and my son to rely on to get things done and we both have our health issues.  Add to that financial strain, mental exhaustion, car trouble, pets with complete health issues etc, Dr's and hospital visits, a million other things and well I often just want to curl up in a ball.  

However the biggest problem I have faced (and am currently going through again) is the online world of Facebook and nasty people.  I hate that many are wolves in sheep's clothing, who like to be nasty behind your back, spread lies and deliberately try to hurt you.  I had a breakdown last year over it and was faced with more of it recently.  I don't get why people do it, I don't understand the need to spy on people and I don't understand why friends of mine would turn a blind eye and be friends with these nasty people.  So I've had a month offline.  No facebook, no blogs, no pinterest, no Google+, nothing.  It's good for the soul.  

This is just a little brain dump from me, to process my feelings and to keep moving forward. I have some positives to keep me going though.  I have a son almost as tall as me now, Grade 8 !!, who despite teen hormones makes my life worthwhile. 
Hoping everyone is loving life and coping ok xoxo 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Tween Halloween Reading List

Now that I have a Tween on my hands, 
I thought I would update our reading lists, first one being Halloween. 
There are a few yearly favourites but a few new ones this year.

For Reference/Non Fiction reading, we love and I recommend:
  • Witches and Wizards by Paul Dowswell.

  • Horrible Histories: Witches, by Terry Deary 

  • The Wizards Handbook by Dr Robert Curran

For Fiction and Fun Reading we have used these this year:
  • Late For Halloween by Camilla Fegan

  • The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

  • The 'You Choose...' series titles:  
         Night of the Creepy Carnival 
         The Haunting of Spook House 
         Mayhem at Magic School 
         (these are all 'Choose you own adventure' style books) 

Favourites we re read include:

The Familiars Series 

The Harry Potter Series

So that's our little update. It's often tricky finding books on Halloween that aren't picture books aimed at the younger kids and aren't too scary (and are aimed at older teens and adults) so hope this might have given you a few ideas if you are after something for that in between age range. 

For previous blog posts on Halloween Reading Lists, just click on this link: 

Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain to you all!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Another Step Towards the Mum-Redundancy

My excited boy has finally settled to sleep.
He got invited for a play day tomorrow. Which isn't a first, we've been to many over the years but it's been a 'Mum and son' catch up with another 'Mum and child'. I expected this one would be the same and was happy about that as the Mum and son inviting us are lovely. But my dear son, who at now 11yrs old has gained a tad more maturity and independence of late, asked if I was dropping him off so he could have a play day without me.
At first I thought he was asking for reassurance and checking I'd be there. Till he clarified and I realised he wanted me to drop him off and go. I have to admit, I instantly felt a little redundant right then and there.
"It's ok Mum, I want to try going on my own. You don't have to come.
I don't need you to come with me"
It's a first for us.
Many would think it was about time and a LONG time coming for an 11 year old.
But not for an 11 year old who has an ASD diagnosis. Not for a child with severe anxiety and many other medical conditions that he relies on me for. Actually this milestone crept up on me to be honest and took me by surprise.
After my son's revelation that I was not needed at his play day, I messaged my friend and told her that I think our plans of a 'coffee and chat' may be cut short as my young Mr is expecting me to drop and run. To be frank, I thought it would appear rude of me to drop off my boy and leave, as I'd never done it before. However my lovely friend embraced the idea and told me to go and have some time to myself.
MMMmmmmm time to myself.
I haven't had that in ages, you almost forget what it's like LOL.
I plan on shopping, looking at what I like and not needing to rush to get to the toy or gaming section. In reality I will probably end up in my son's favourite shops out of habit. Something another lovely friend of mine discovered recently. I think us special needs mums and homeschooling mums are a lot alike in that regard as we always have the kids with us and often forget ourselves.
So back to topic ....
tomorrow is 'Independence Day' in Mum/Son land LOL. Another step towards my Mum-Redundancy I am expecting one very excited and also slightly anxious boy in the morning. I am so very happy to be at this point and honestly for a while didn't think we'd ever get here. He's definitely morphed into a tween lately and is growing up fast.

Have a great day tomorrow my boy! I am going to try too LOL.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Something has to give ....

Last year I used to have time to blog.  It was my escape from things here at home and some quiet time to sit and reflect on our days.  I was never a daily blogger but I liked to at least check in weekly.  

This year however has been very different.  And I have felt a tad guilty over my lack of online presence and my lack of blog posts.  I am starting to realise though that I can't do everything and that something had to give in my life to allow me some breathing space and sadly that turned out to be my blog time.

It's hard enough being a Mum.  Doing everyday Mum stuff.
  Then I double the workload with a special needs child and all that that entails (sleepless nights (night after night after night!), on duty 24/7 for everything, hospital appointments, Dr appointments, therapy appointments, funding paperwork, funding bills and accounting, research, referrals, phone calls, chemist visits and the list goes on).  Then I add the element of homeschooling and special needs homeschooling at that - so I am teacher and teacher aide all rolled into one. Our work is slow going and my presence is needed all the time, we have very little independent working. This year I also added the role of single parent to my list. Having my own disabilities has meant that being the sole parent is very physically difficult.  All the things I struggle to do now need to be done without help and its exhausting.

I am stretched to exhaustion point and finding time to sit and blog just hasn't happened.

I now realise that despite my best intentions, and the fact that blogging is like therapy for me, it's best for me to rest. 

So while I am not giving up my blog, I am 'giving it a rest' for a while and not putting so much pressure on myself to come up with something brilliant to say each week.

Looking forward to some me time sometime soon and hopefully I will have something enlightening to post for you all! 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

ANZAC Day Reading for Tweens

Having an 11 year old this year, we have definitely stepped up from informative picture books which up until now have been the books we've read when covering the topic of War and ANZAC Day. 

We are now in the novel zone although not quite ready to tackle the big novels which tend to be more graphic and for a more mature Teen.

So I wanted to share the books we are reading at the moment, that you might find are the right 'fit' for your homeschooled Tween.

1. Simpson's Donkey
(by Peter Stanley)

2. My Story Series
- The Trenches (by Jim Eldridge)
- D Day (by Bryan Perrett)
- U Boat Hunter (by Bryan Perrett)
- Flying Ace (by Jim Eldridge)
- Battle of Britain (by Chris Priestley) 
- Hero at Dunkirk (by Vince Cross)
- Desert Danger (by Jim Eldridge)
- War Spy (by Jim Eldridge)

3. Gallipoli - The Landing
(by Hugh Dolan, Mal Gardiner)
* Graphic Novel aka comic book style *

4. Reg Saunders - An Indigenous War Hero
(by Hugh Dolan, Adrian Threlfall)
* Graphic Novel aka comic book style *

5. An Anzac Tale
(by Ruth Starke, Greg Holfeld)
* Graphic Novel aka comic book style in a large hardback size *

6. War Horse
(by Michael Morpurgo)

* Please note:  
ALL books containing content about war can be difficult for many children to read so when it comes to learning about war, the ANZAC's, death and violence, then it's best done with an adult. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

You can kiss my Aspergers!

To all the parents currently receiving negativity and fielding complaints over their Autism Awareness posts this month, I'd like to tell you that you are awesome.

To all the people being ignorant, rude, judgemental and just a royal pain in the butt ..... well I have one thing to say to you ..... you can kiss my rather fat ASS! 
or ASSpergers in this case as well. 

The parent who has a child with ASD, and in many cases they themselves also have ASD, is being courteous this month.  They are trying to educate you on what ASD is.  They are trying to say, in a very politically correct way, that you need to pull your head out of your backside and learn what ASD is and that you WILL deal with ASD in your lifetime, whether you realise it or not, so you should do the right thing and get educated.

Dear parent of ASD kids,
I want to tell you this.  I want to tell you, that if your family and friends don't already know what ASD is, then they are ignorant and slack.  If they haven't come to you to ask about ASD, to learn what it means for your child and your family, and how they can help as your friends and your family, then why the hell not!  If you had a child with allergies or with diabetes then your family and friends would have asked what your child can and can't eat and made an attempt to include you if you went to their home for a meal. Would they not?  So shouldn't they have asked how they can accommodate your ASD child by now? YES THEY SHOULD!  If they haven't, and you are having to spread awareness and educate them every Autism Awareness Month ..... then not only are they inconsiderate and ignorant, but I wonder why they are still a part of your inner circle.  These people all have access to a library, to the internet and Dr Google, they can all pick up a phone and book a Dr appointment to ask their GP what ASD is.  So if they don't want to 'offend' you by asking they can still educate themselves.  On my journey I have learnt that not only are we born with ASD, but people can be born ignorant and no amount of effort on our part can change that.  So if you are faced with too much ignorant, save yourself the headache and walk away.  The Karma train will stop by and pick them up at some point and you can smile and wave farewell.
Warmest Regards,
ASD Warrior Mum. 

This month you have a choice.  As ASD Parents you can spread awareness and educate day after day, but remember to stay sane in the process and remember you have the choice to cut loose the ignorant people from your life.  For everyone else, you have the choice to open your minds and BE educated and pro-actively ask questions or you have the choice to shove your head back up your rear end.

Go Blue or go home.  

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The History of Easter

For many the "Easter" holidays are about chocolate, bunnies, religion and spring.
 Most have no idea of the origins of the name Easter, the symbols (eggs, bunnies, chicks etc) or the pre-Christianity traditions. For us, researching the origins of holidays has become a bit of a tradition in itself. My son's quest for knowledge has taught us so much. Easter's Pagan origin is recognised by most religions although not widely broadcast. 

For us, we have come to learn of this season as the celebration of the

For anyone wanting to learn more, I found a great site combining all the explanations of many others, and while long, is a great read. Easter History and Traditions is very informative, not judgemental towards any faith and covers more than most sites which tend to be either pro pagan or pro religion (neither of which is helpful as you don't want bias when looking for information). 

Symbols of Ostara and the Spring Equinox are eggs, rabbits, chicks, flowers and seeds. These symbols became the modern "Easter Bunny" and Easter Eggs (see above link at Easter History and Traditions). Many do not realise that these things symbolising fertility, new life and springtime are of pagan origin. So many don't realise why at Easter time, it was traditional to eat eggs (real ones) in cooking. Eggs were always on the menu for us at this time of year. Boiled eggs with runny, bright yellow/gold yolks, with toast (cut into strips for dipping into the yolk and called Soldiers when we were children) were always a favourite and are still my favourite thing to have Easter morning. Other mornings were scrambled eggs and omelettes. But the tradition of boiled eggs is my childhood memory that I've passed on and we look forward to choosing which cute egg cups to use.

It was also traditional to eat the last of the cured meats that they had stored for use over the winter. This time of year was also seen as a time to cut out some of the heavier foods eaten over winter and was a pre Christian version of the Lenten period. So lighter meals were eaten at this time, with lots of spring vegetables, eggs, lighter meats like chicken and fish, plenty of seeds etc.  

Celebrating Easter when you are not a Christian means you just don't recognise the aspects relating to Christianity.  However all the fun parts of the season are actually of pagan origin so you still get to take part and recognise all the good things.  Without the non Christians throughout many cultures in history, you wouldn't have Easter eggs, or the Easter Bunny. You wouldn't call it Easter either. 

So to all my friends, wishing you a Happy Easter season, whether you are Pagan, Christian or of other religions.  Happy Ostara, Happy Spring Equinox, and to my son a Happy Birthday!  He was born on Easter Sunday 11 years ago and this year his birthday falls on Easter Sunday again.  It will be a busy few days in this house with lots of gifts, chocolate, bunnies, eggs and traditions. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Stop Teaching Your Kids That The Most Important Thing in a Relationship is Love

Dear Parents,
PLEASE stop teaching your children that LOVE is the most important thing in a relationship.
Because it isn't
 and I will tell you why.

My son is getting to an age where he is a little more aware of relationships between people.  He will soon approach his teen years.  As a parent you move from reading articles about issues facing young children and instead notice more and more articles and discussions about teen subjects. Young romances, attitudes, independence, learners permits, part time jobs and the nasty stuff like under age drinking and drugs.  As a parent you want to be able to tackle these subjects with your child and you want to give them good advice.

Lately I have read too many times where we are told that the most important thing in a relationship is love.  If you have love then you can work through any obstacle.

Not only is this a dangerous thing to be teaching our children, it is also very wrong.

Sure love is a key thing to have but to grow up thinking its the be all and end all of a relationship is one huge reason so many end up stuck in abusive relationships.  

In a relationship you need TRUST,
 you need to feel SAFE,
 you need to be RESPECTED
 You need these things first and if you don't have them,
 then no amount of love will help.

I want my son to know that any partner he has should feel all these things and he should feel that way too.  Too many of us end up in relationships where we are not safe, yet we love the partner and think we can fix them or can't leave because we love them.  Too many of us are controlled and have no independence within a relationship (either socially or financially).  Too many of us have a partner we cannot trust (due to issues like addiction, affairs, secrecy and violence).  To many of us are not respected and end up with little or no self esteem, often a big contributing factor to staying in an abusive relationship.

Love doesn't make you safe, independent,respected or trusted.  Those things however can make a loving relationship work. I want young people to grow up realising they shouldn't let love alone be the guide to who they date.  Love should be part of the package for sure BUT it should be part of the whole package. 

We all love a good fairy tale movie, we all show them to our children, they are all about love and happy endings.  Then as adults we see the continual rise of dysfunctional relationships and abusive relationships, as well as a rise in depressions, addictions and suicides.  We aren't being taught what we need from a relationship and what we need to put into one.  We are told not to put up with abuse but we are not taught how to avoid it, or how to get out of it.  We are told love will conquer all - but not told that love can be the trap that keeps you in a bad situation.  We are not taught that respect, trust, safety and independence are vital.  

I think as parents we need to put this on the list of life lessons we teach our children. We need to make it a priority along with the puberty talks, the safe sex talks, the drug/drinking awareness talks etc.  

I also want to point out that this is not just something you talk to young girls about.  Yes they need to be educated to make them safe as they grow up and end up in relationships.  But so do your sons
 They too need these talks.
  They too can end up in dangerous relationships, both as victims or as the perpetrators.  Something no mother wants to think about or admit but if you don't start the education during their upbringing then you are contributing to the ever growing problem.  

Teach your children to always have a bank account in their own name with a regularly deposited amount of money to ensure some personal independent financial security.

Teach your children to respect themselves first and foremost but also to respect their partners.

Teach your children to know the early signs of abuse, don't shield them completely from the bad stuff that can happen.

Teach your children not to be controlled, not to accept bullying behaviour, not to fall for the "if you love me you would" type tactics.  

Teach your children not to be ashamed to talk to you about a bad relationship.  Stop the cycle of shame surrounding separations, stop telling your children to 'just try harder to work it out'.   

Teach your children to have a back up plan for any relationship.  We teach them about emergency kits for storms, floods, fires etc but we forget to teach them about personal emergencies and what the steps are if you need to leave. 

What I want to achieve by writing this is not to take the love out of relationships or to make relationship advice clinical.  I want to help the next generation, our children, have a better shot at happy loving relationships than many of their parents have had.  And that starts with us, their parents, stepping up and teaching them there is more to a relationship than Love, and that Love is not the most important thing. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Living Anxiety as a Homeschool Mum

Anxiety, for anyone, is hard.
Full stop.
But dealing with Anxiety when you have your child around you 24/7, especially when they too suffer with Anxiety, is a tricky thing.

We've been homeschooling for years now.  This is our 5th year.  I'd like to think we have a routine, a pattern, a learning style sorted and a flow.  And we do to some degree.  But we also still have (and I dare say will always have) Anxiety to deal with.

Recently life changed for my son and I. 
His father moved away interstate for work and he is adjusting to not seeing him for months at a time.  It's not going well, but I am trying to do what I can for my boy.  It doesn't help that I am adjusting to being on my own now and coming to terms with my own disabilities, limitations and ways to cope.  It doesn't help that I am a mess while trying to be there for my child.

Anxiety is ever present throughout the whole process.  Anxiety makes the process a million times harder.

I can't begin to describe how the littlest things become huge, all consuming, mammoth tasks that you spend all day sorting out.  The first day was spent just doing daily chores, trying to work out the best order for things to be done in and making sure I didn't forget anything.  I think I wrote 20 lists just to curb the anxiety that made me sick to my stomach.

After an injury in the backyard that weekend, and my son therefore helping me, he unfortunately left the downstairs freezer open and all the food spoiled.  I felt myself crumble.  While others might experience anger or frustration before getting on with the task of cleaning up and it all being sorted in a matter of an hour, it's very different for me.  I had a panic attack.  Actually I had 4 major ones.  I struggled to breathe, had pains through my chest and yes you feel like you are having a heart attack.  I needed to sit and cry and sob for over an hour before I could even start to plan what to do.  I wrote more lists.  I felt like an utter failure as a mother, as a carer, as a person.  I saw my son crumble thinking it was all his fault and he'd caused my meltdown.  That as a mother is hard to cope with.  I then had another panic attack over realising the garbage bin being almost full and it was still two days till the garbage collection.  By the time I had collected myself (again) and was able to think, then cleaned out the freezer, dumped all the food, cleaned up the water, then decided the one section that hadn't thawed needed defrosting, and defrosted it, it was 5 hours later and after 11pm. 

Then I could breathe a little easier.  I still woke 6 times that night worried the freezer wasn't closed and was broken or that I hadn't mopped up enough and water had damaged something.

The whole next day was filled with anxiety and panic over replacing the lost food.  I struggled with meal planning that day despite having basics.  You just cannot connect the dots and function like a regular adult.  Things had changed.  I don't like change.  My usually articulate and switched on brain was broken.

Due to my own health issues, I can no longer just go and do groceries as I used to, and have my son's father here to carry it all up the stairs and do the heavy lifting and the bending etc.  So to re stock the freezer I had no choice but to enter the world of online groceries.  And welcome to the world of huge anxiety and more panic attacks.  The realisation that you have to rely on someone else to help you (and ask for help in the first place!) is a huge slap in the face.

Most people don't think much of ordering groceries online. Just pick a store online, add what you want to the online cart, select a delivery time and pay.  Done.
OMG if only it were that easy. 

I spent 3 hours on one website and 2 on another.  I hated both.  My OCD and Aspie issues screaming at me all while struggling to breathe and focus.  I eventually get my 'carts' full and then comes the decision of picking a delivery time.  What happens if I need to go out unexpectedly?  My child could get sick, or the dogs or me!  An hour later I had picked times.  Yep, it took an hour to click the button to confirm the times.  One store to deliver in the morning, one in the afternoon.  There was a 2 hour gap window if I needed to go out.  Realistically that should have been enough to calm and placate me yes? No. Just no.

 I have sat here all day, waiting for each, crossing off lists, feeling sick the whole time and being a wound up ball of electricity.  All over grocery deliveries because it was a first time thing.  Every car driving past, every noise, sets me off.

I am still anxious because I need to go and buy a child latch to make sure the freezer door stays securely closed.  I doubt I will sleep well till I have one *as she sits up typing this because I can't switch off my brain and sleep* 
And that's a whole other thing to be anxious over.

I don't think others realise how 'all consuming' anxiety can be.  How the easiest of things for them, the most mundane things, can cause such panic to me.  

So how do you homeschool amongst all of that?  Well you often don't.  On those days there isn't much point trying to get major things done.  This week we have spent reading and watching educational (on topic) documentaries as bookwork has been just too hard.  My son still learnt a lot, but our days look very different to others if I honestly painted that picture for them.  I used to worry that the anxiety we both had meant that we wouldn't get enough done and wouldn't 'keep up' but I quickly realised that the anxiety we'd both be dealing with if my son was back in mainstream school would be far worse and have a much greater impact on his education, his health and our lives.  

Not all days are like this.  Some are great and we can do a lot.  Some are calm and we are both up to exploring and being open to new people, new experiences, new foods etc.  But some are not.  Some are home days.  Days we need to withdraw and just cope with life.  Those days are hard.  Those days are not easy to explain to others without sounding like a whinger or a weakling or a failure of a person.  Those days we can sound needy and like common sense took a well earned distant extended vacation.  We can come across as selfish crappy friends.  However it is what it is and that's us, take us or leave us.

Anxiety is something that evolves and creeps up on you even when you think you have it managed.  

Despite all this, one thing I know is that being a mum with Anxiety to a child with Anxiety means showing your child that even though it is hard, we can get through it.  If he sees me struggle, but sees me get up and fight on each day, then he can gather strength and resilience through that.  I can help my son to see that it's ok to face the anxiety head on, cry, get angry and get through it.  I can help my son to see he is not alone and that a lot of people go through this.  I can help eliminate negativity and empower him.  If I tried to hide all my anxiety issues from him then I'd be doing him an injustice in the long run.  Homeschooling my son while having my Anxiety (and multitude of other health issues) means teaching him more than facts and figures.  It's not exactly conventional, but it's a big lesson on self empowerment, resilience, compassion, understanding and a strong respect for humanities personal struggles.

All that plus teaching him it's ok to take time to chill out with mum on the couch under a blanket while watching a DVD in air conditioning.  Because that's important too LOL.

I wrote this today for all the mums out there who go through this, who very much feel they fail at parenthood and life, who need a hug and a magic fairy to step in and help out.  I wrote this in case another homeschooling mum is feeling like today is all just too much and is feeling like she is the only one.  
You are not alone my friends.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Activity Day Cart

One day a week this term (and maybe all year) we have all our tutoring and respite sessions.  I seemed to spend all day running back and forth to the classroom to drop off one set of supplies and picking up a new set for the next session.  At the end of the day there was stuff all over and cleaning up a classroom isn't what you look forward to at the end of a busy day and week.

So I went bargain hunting online looking for a cart/trolley.  Not as easy as I first thought as I needed it to be a certain size and you'd be surprised just how many were millimetres too small. 

I found success with a cart that actually folds up when you are finished with it, which will be perfect when I don't need it (like over school holidays etc).

On our Activity Day we have:
Art with our Art Teacher
Music with The Music Bus
Science & Technology with our respite worker (who lucky for us is a Scientist!)
and in between we work on our English/Reading.

The sessions will work on the same theme per term.

Term 1 is Technology
Art = Perspective Technical Drawing
Music = Continuing learning two instruments
Science/Technology = Coding and Programming
English = Coding Books 'How to Code 1-4', 'Coding for Beginners Using Scratch'.

Term 2 is the first of our Harry Potter Themes : Herbology
Art = Focus on Plants - Drawing/Nature Journal
Music = Learning Harry Potter theme song
Science = Plant based learning and experiments
English = Book 'Herbology', 'Plants', 'Book of Nature'.

Term 3 is Harry Potter Theme : Magical Beasts
Term 4 is Harry Potter Theme : Potions

Having the cart means my son can get all the resources he needs for each session without needing my help.  It means I can get my stuff done too!  Which is the whole point of respite after all.  

** Note: My child has special needs and this is the reason we access respite - both for his benefit and my own **

If you are looking for where to purchase these storage items: 
Wooden art caddy is from Aldi but any kitchen condiment caddy will do.
Cart/Trolley is an Ebay purchase.
White storage boxes/tubs for books are from IKEA.