It’s My Birthday!

I’m going to make this post short because today is my birthday.
Today I turn 38!

I don’t really mind getting older. Because;

I may have been younger but I’ve never been better!

I am the best at being myself as I’ve ever been.

I’ve worked hard through my life at improving myself and at actually liking myself and every stage of life I might be at.

So as I told my husband last night:

I’m not (just) getting a year older, I’m getting a year better.

I’m embracing the years that pass, because with them comes experiences, development, improvement, life and love.

So, Happy Birthday to me!

IMG_4640
Cheers!

xx

My Summer Goals

27079071535_1d6daa0d56_k

I love lists!

I love writing and ticking things off things on my ‘to do-list’. I find lists give me focus.

So when I started my usual panic about the summer, I decided to be more proactive this year so I set up, not only a Bucket List  but also a list of goals.
So, these are my goals to try to keep me a bit more focused, sane and able to enjoy the summer.

1. Set and keep a routine for me and the boys daily
2. Make sure the boys are outside at least once a day, no matter the weather.
3. Walks after dinner at least four times/week
4. Not stress about house work. It gets done when it gets done.
5. Tick at least 1 thing off our Bucket List Summer 2016 every day
6. Keep up with my My 12 Rules
7. Drink wine no more than 3 times/week
8. Post at least 1 blog/week
9. Read 3 books
10. Have a BBQ every week

Today is the last day of school for my boys, so tomorrow our summer officially starts!

xx

Bucket List Summer 2016

This is the last week of school for the boys and then summer begins! I usually kind of dread this time of year, as I wrote about here. I love my boys and I love spending time with them, but it’s hard work so ‘holiday’ is hardly holiday for me.

To organise myself a bit more this year I decided to make a bucket list. A list with things we can do so on the days we don’t already have plans, and hopefully we have ticked all of them off by the end of summer. I asked the boys what they would like to do and I also looked at lists others have done, but I’ve tried to make sure only to include things I know our boys would actually enjoy.

I’ve put numbers next to them, but really there’s no order here.

❏ 1. Get Harry to learn (or practice) how to ride without stabilisers
❏ 2. Go to the beach
❏ 3. Sleep in a tent
❏ 4. Visit a farm
❏ 5. Have a family game night
❏ 6. Have a family Singstar night
❏ 7. Go to a theme park
❏ 8. Go to the cinema
❏ 9. Visit national trust place
❏ 10. Visit a big city
❏ 11. Make a summer scrapbook
❏ 12. Play on the trampoline
❏ 13. Visit a museum
❏ 14. Eat ice-cream
❏ 15. Go swimming
❏ 16. Have a playdate
❏ 17. Visit Nannie Diane
❏ 18. Visit granddad
❏ 19. Have a water fight
❏ 20. Pick blackberries
❏ 21. Have a picnic
❏ 22. Go bowling
❏ 23. Go to Brighton
❏ 24. Climb a tree
❏ 25. Get a family photo done

 

That’s it! I will let you know how we got on with our Bucket list after the summer holidays.

xx

Stress for our autism family

I haven’t put up a new post in a while, because I haven’t been able to write as much as I would have liked. The last few weeks have been very busy and last week was a particularly  difficult one for us as a family.

Every day was a very busy day for all of us. And with Joshua having things going on every evening, and with Richard having an extremely busy week at work with late nights, we had to plan with military precision to make it work. Thank goodness for my sister-in-law, who was able to help out.

Joshua is starting High School in September, and for any kid that’s a big step. But for a child with autism it is extra hard. I’ve been to more meetings than I can count with both his current school, his new school and with the Social Communications team from county who are helping us with the transition. Josh has had several visits to his new school, with me and with school. Just this half term he’s having seven visits!

Two evenings last week his year group had a show put on for us parents, there was a visit to his new school one of the evenings and there was scouts.

I know that a lot of families have things going on every evening with their kids activities, but evenings are usually not a great time for our boys, one or two perhaps, but not every night.

Josh is not great in the evenings, especially not on school nights. In the morning he takes medication for his ADHD which helps him to stay focused at school. But in the evening this has worn off and it is so much harder for him to concentrate and absorb any information. It’s hard for him. After having spent a whole day at school, keeping it together, once he’s home he just wants his own space and to do his own thing. So having things going on every evening took its toll. Especially since we all had things going on in the daytime as well.

I won’t go in to details, lets just say it was stressful.
The culmination was on Friday morning when he threw up all over his bedroom floor. He wasn’t sick it’s just that he tends to throw up when he’s over stressed. Poor boy, he hates throwing up more than anything. Apart from balloons.

Anyway.

End of summer term is always a busy time, but this year was particularly stressful. All changes and events going on takes planning and is probably stressful for all parents, but again, when you have a child with special needs it takes it to a whole other level.

It’s not just about the event itself (wether its an evening show at school, sports day, parents consultation or anything else) and trying to fit it in the calendar.

It’s also the preparation of the child, or in our case; children, for this upcoming event.

How will he cope?

Who will help him?

How will he react to the noise, busyness, stress, new people etc.

Is he to tired?

Can I bring Harry?

How will he cope?

Will I just run around after him the whole time?
Honestly, I can not even bring Harry with me when I drop Joshua off at scouts. I’ve tried. It never ends well. Because Harry is Our 10 year old toddler

By Thursday, I was so stressed I had a constant headache and I had barely seen Richard all week because he had been working crazy hours.

But I had noticed something else about me as well.
I had completely lost my oomph.
I didn’t have any drive to do anything.
Usually, getting up at 5am, doing my meditation and writing sets me up for the day. Helps me have a good day and centers me.

I had none of that drive.
I didn’t ‘feel like’ meditating and even less; writing *gasp*

I love my morning routine! What happened?
I knew that if I could keep my routine up, I would be able to handle the stress better, so I reluctantly tried anyway, but still the stress got the better of me.

Having suffered from depression in the past, I am terrified of ending up there again, and I try to be aware of any signs, so I caught Richard one morning before he headed out the door and told him about my lack of drive. I wanted him to be aware.
I told him how disappointed I was in myself for not handling stress better than this.

He laughed and told me that I do handle stress well. It’s just that our stress is constant, so when extra stuff piles on top it just tips us over.

This makes sense, I just hadn’t thought of it that way. When you live it you don’t always see it.

Stress in autism parents (and particularly mums) are well documented. One study found that the stress autism mums experienced could be compared the stress of a combat solider! That’s quite telling, don’t ya think?

autism mum stress
So if my stress levels are already on a constant high, it won’t take a lot for me to feel overwhelmed. I’m only human after all.

So

I’m not writing all this out of self pity; poor me.

Not at all.

No, I’m writing this because I can!

Guess what?
I woke up the following morning feeling a million times better. I bounced out of bed at 5am and couldn’t wait to have my cup of tea, meditate and then to sit down with my laptop and write.

Just the knowledge that I didn’t have to beat myself up for feeling overwhelmed ironically made me feel better!
So I needed to remind myself to not to be so hard on myself. It’s as simple as that. It’s not the first time I’m telling myself this and it probably won’t be the last.

But I have to accept that sometimes life is more stressful, and that is ok. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed.

I will bounce back.

Yes, I’m scared that life might get the better of me and that I end up in depression again. But I think, and hope, that I’ve learned enough about myself and now have enough strategies to not let it get that far.
Life ebbs and flows, I just have to accept the waves and ride with them.

xx

My Smoothie Recipe

As I’ve written about here I love routine, and as a result I tend to have the same thing for breakfast most days. Sometimes I change things up and have something else but even then I tend to have the same things. So I basically have 2 or 3 breakfasts I rotate between. But mostly it’s my smoothie.

I find that it’s quick, filling, easy to prepare and gives me lots of nutrients.
This is a fantastic breakfast, especially in the summer as it basically feels like your drinking an ice cream for breakfast.

So in a good smoothie you want plenty of veg and some fruit for vitamins. Also some good fats and protein for a complete and filling meal.

This is what I put in mine:

Spinach
Avocado
Berries
Juice (not much and it’s only so it’s not to thick)
Kefir (a fermented yogurt packed with good bacteria)
Protein powder
Cinnamon (can be left out, but I put a pinch in it because its a good blood sugar regulator)

IMG_5179

The spinach can be swapped for kale if you prefer. Take a good handful. You can also use frozen spinach, same with the berries.

You don’t have to use berries, you can use any other fruit you like. Today I made Richards one with mango since he’s allergic to strawberries. Use about 80g of each spinach and fruit/berries.

Put about 1/4- 1/2 of an avocado in, depending on the size of the avocado, for good fats and fibre.
As for juice, I usually use Tropicana ’Red Ruby’, I find it’s not to sweet. You won’t need much only 50 – 100g. I am not a fan of juice really, it’s just for thinning the smoothie and it tops up the vitamins a bit.

Then I use kefir for it’s gut friendly bacteria, but if you don’t have kefir you can just as easily use yogurt. Be aware of sweetened yogurt though, you don’t want your smoothie having to much sugar. I use about 100g.

Put all this together in a blender or container ready to be mixed:

Blend all of the above together before adding the protein and blending again.

As for protein powder, use 20-25g. Please don’t leave this out, but if you really don’t have any try to use a higher protein yogurt, like greek, instead. You need the protein to fill you up! Some smoothie recipes suggest you put peanut butter or other nut butters in there for added protein, but really it’s more fat and very high in calories so I wouldn’t suggest that as a protein source.

When you shop for protein powder, make sure you use a good brand and not one packed with sweeteners and fillers. I use Natural Nutrients. Their whey comes from grass-fed cows and with no added nasties. I highly recommend them. I use the natural one but if you like a bit more flavour you can go for a flavoured one like vanilla or strawberry.

Now to the best part:
You can prepare it all the night before! This is actually necessary if you’re using frozen fruit and veg. Just leave the protein powder out. In the morning, take the container out, mix until it’s smooth and then put protein powder in before mixing it again.

IMG_5185

That’s it! Enjoy! And please let me know if you try it.

xx