Tag Archives: days out

Silent Sunday

14 Aug

Bopping at the Lollibop

11 Aug

Friday the 5th August was certainly a day to remember for both myself and that of my youngest, 20 month old, ‘Harley’ aka little, ‘H’ 

I had been very fortunate to obtain a, “Press pass ” entitling a family of four free  VIP access into the Lollibop (the three-day festival designed especially for tiny-weeny partygoers) It was noted that the festival was best suited to children aged ten and under, Little man is ten, eleven in October, looking at the programme, I didn’t think it would appeal to him… I was right! It didn’t! Little man decided to spend the day with dad, over indulging in his, “Special interest… Buses” My eight year old daughter had already made plans to go on a trip to the seaside with her friend (I know, better social life than me)! So, It was just me and my very cheeky toddler, ‘H’. Knowing I had access for up to 4 people, I decided to invite my younger sister, ‘Rachel’ and her daughter, “Amy” a 18 month old crazed, “Waybuloo fan” 

Finally the day had arrived, I don’t know who was more excited, Me or the children? Yet the morning wasn’t one of my best! Everything that could possibly go wrong… did! Harley thought it was a great time to show of his talent, “Having a tantrum” and as for me, I was putting washing powder in the microwave and milk in the washing machine. I hadn’t hardly slept a wink the night before and this had nothing to do with Little man! I had struggled with the hellish heat and found it impossible to get comfortable. This resulted in me walking around like a zombie the best part of the morning. Finally having left the house I met up with my little sister and niece and we headed to the train station. Once there I discovered I had forgotten Harley’s rains resulting in a crazy dash around Oxford Street in a bid to purchase my third pair of rains this year (forgetful being my second middle name, Late my first). We finally reached Regents park, the location for the Lollibop. Harley had cried the whole way there. I was at my wit’s end, praying the day would be worth the stress of that horrid morning.

It wasn’t particularly hard to locate the venue once of the tube at Regents Park. It was pretty well sign-posted and only a two-minute walk just across the road. However, we should have entered via the press tent, which I just couldn’t locate. We were thankfully allowed through the main gate where we were directed to the press area to obtain wristbands and passes. My first impressions were good ones! Just through the main gate to the right you would find, “Lollibop’s transport for kids” (Smart trike with parent handle) were available to borrow for the deterioration of your day, I’m unsure if there was charge for the service, but I don’t think so. The area looked amazing, with lots going on. The queues didn’t look that long and the smiles displayed on the face of almost every child said it all! 

On the way to the press tent, we bumped into some really funky characters, Our first of the day. Harley looked at this two funky little oldies with nothing but confusion, Me I thought they were pretty cool. Harley was here to see someone with a little more popularity, “Bob the Builder” would be his highlight of the day, what with him being his biggest fan. Having made it to the press tent, I met the very lovely Jen and her team. After a warm friendly welcome, a cold drink and a nappy change, we were off. 

Leaving the pushchairs safely in the VIP tent, we put this pair of over excited toddlers on their rains (yes, new rains £12 Oxford St) and off we went. 

Bob the Builder was due to meet and greet in the 3 Ft and under area of the festival, in around 20 minutes time. So, with this in mind we decided to stay close by, opting to set the kids free in the soft play area. What is it with kids and balls? Seriously Little H is ball pit crazy. He loved diving in and out of the balls  and Amy seemed to enjoy it too… Well, that was in-till a bigger boy dived in, knocking H flying over the side of the pit. Thankful it’s a great padded area and my little boy was brave, he wiped his little tears, got up and throw himself back in. The soft play area was nice enough… However a little constructive criticism, “Big kids should not have been allowed in the soft play area or that of the 3 Ft area all together” (with the exception of meet and greets , yes bigger kids like Bob too). It was clearly designed for the smallest of little people and having ten-year old + boys jumping all over the place ruined a great play session for what looked like many. Lastly it wasn’t fenced in, meaning your child would escape every ten minutes and you would need to set chase. Apart from these two things, It was lots of fun.

Harley seemed happy in the soft play area and I wondered just how I would persuade him to leave. Then he saw something! “Bob Builder, Bob Builder” Harley shouted frantically. Yes, there was Bob making his way to his meet & greet. I grabbed Harley making a mad dash for the gate, “I didn’t fancy a long wait as Harley just wouldn’t have understood” Luckily we only had one or two people in front. 

This to me was the highlight of the day! It made the whole stress of that morning extremely worth it, I even had a tear in my eye as I watched my little boy walk up to Bob, put his little hands out and say, “Bob Builder, hello” In a shocked little voice. I whispered to the big guy,”I warn you, this is Harley and his your number 1 fan and from now on, your biggest stalker” It was at that moment I thought to myself, “Jesus, How am I going to get him out of here” We tried to get Harley to turn to face the camera so I could catcher the beautiful moment. Amy obliged without problem, yet H was unable to take his eye’s of the big guy, he was totally star struck. Take a look for yourself!

As suspected H didn’t fancy leaving his mate Bob the Builder! I turn around to see just how long the queue had now become…  there was only one thing left for me to do, The good old, “Grab & run” As he so angrily kicked his little legs while delivering a string of  head-butts to my chest, he shouted, “No, no, More..More… Bob builder, Fix it” I turned to see Bob bobbing up and down obviously indulging in a little giggle… “Harley really was acting the crazed little fan” 

I carried Harley straight into the WOW tent located bang next door. It was filled to the very rim with fantastic WOW toys. They had Wow play tables with at-least three toys on each. The tent was busy and from every corner you could hear the sound of mothers ordering their children to share. Myself and H are a massive fan of WOW toys and Harley has been lucky enough to review a few this month. These are toys that will be added to the Birthday and Christmas list in our house for sure. 

This visit to the WOW tent had also given me the chance to meet Lucy who had put together Little Hs reviews… It was nice to personally thank her for so kindly doing so.  Just as I contemplated moving one I realised that the tent had some empty seating, so it was nice to take a break and chill for five minutes while H and Amy explored all the wonderful toys that surrounded them. The WOW team had the right idea when it came to keeping the kids happy. With the parents all set to move on only to be faced with refusing toddlers, (this or they wanted to take the toys with them) the WOW team came to the rescue  with they’re cleverly prepared surprise! Each child was given a cute little WOW toy as a gift on their exist. This Just proves that these guys really do know children when it comes to toys as most smiled and bopped away happily. 

It was such a hot day on Friday. We sat on the grass where I topped up the children’s sun cream while my sister grabbed them an ice lolly to help them cool down. These were steep at £2 each, but it came as no surprise, it wasn’t any more than other festivals and child friendly events we have attended so no shocks there!

Next we took a trip to the Alfresco Bandstand, which was a nice area, smaller than the main stage but not as busy! The Waybuloo’s were busy teaching the children their moves. Harley waved and clapped and it was Amy’s turn to be star struck. Sitting on her mummy’s shoulders her face displayed one almighty smile. It was these little moments that made Lollibop a festival that stood out from the rest. Sadly Amy didn’t get to give the Waybuloos a hug as they were entertaining up on the stage which was fenced off for health and safety reasons. 

There was plenty to do and see, everywhere you turned something magical was taking place. It was hard to follow the scheduled acts and appearances that we wanted to see due to the sheer wonderful distractions we faced, Clowns, music, beautiful stalls and amazing activities. 

The Children meet Peppa and George Pig (from a parents view these guys weren’t pretty) There was no photo opportunities as again they are in an enclosed area. However, despite this, the children were able to touch them and say hello face to face. I had to laugh when George pig put his face near Harley’s leaving him shouting, “Woo, woo pig, away, away” as he pushed his snout in a bid to get him out the way. Yes, these guys are pigs remember 🙂  they didn’t look as cute as they do on the TV but H soon got used to them, again needing to be carried away (My chest was bruised by now)! 

We then visited my favourite area, “The Enchanted Forest” It truly lived up to its name, with stalls selling everything from fairy wings to fairy dust, there was toadstool seating areas and a range of magical activities, it was a lovely area within the festival. This was the place to find great storytellers and awesome bubble blowers. It was beautiful watching the children happily run around chasing bubbles. 

We then Checked out some of the yummy food on display! The Children had not long eaten when we arrived at the park at just gone 1 pm, a few hours after it had opened at 11 am. This resulted in the children showing Little if not any interest in food. However, as for Me, I was staving, but at that point in time I didn’t fancy the queue, I was just to hot (Food queues were not outrageously long but long enough to put me off )!  With this we left it till a little later in the day when at some stages they could be found empty.

There was much more exciting staff needed doing! We danced to the, “Zingzillas” and the fabulous sounds of “Rastamouse and da easy crew” who were performing on the main stage. The Cbeebies Presenter Sid was hosting the show and did a brilliant job too. The area did get a little busy as expected, However, it was nice to see Alex, (another Cbeebies presenter) stood next to me with his family. Of course he could have got himself right up the front… What with it being his turn to host the same show at this very same festival the next day it wouldn’t have been hard. Yet to see him with his child on his shoulders happily dancing to the sounds of the easy crew in the same way I was, did put a smile on my face.

I also noticed something very interesting about the main stage, (In a good way) It had a large viewing platform! Ok, What did I care, Little man wasn’t at the festival right! Just to see that they were catering for those with disabilities was a wonderful sight! Some of those who accessed the platform wouldn’t have stood a chance of seeing anything down below as there were those in wheelchairs and other children like Little Man who wouldn’t have coped well with the crowding that was taking place on the ground. Honestly If my Little man was younger and interested in the Lollibop I would have been able to take him that day with little problems. The organiser had noticeably tried to make the event a good one that was fun and accessible for all.

Having had a good boogie with my smiling toddler, sister and niece, we grabbed some food (fish and chips… Very yummy but a tad expensive, though it was expected). This was followed by beautiful fresh strawberries and cream, one word, ‘WOW’ very lush. As we ate we watched some funky makeovers taking place! These were done on random people out the crowds & pulled up on stage. The makeover itself was pretty funky business, involving coloured hairspray, “Lots of it” funky makeup, sick on gems and other funkiness … Seriously this was entertaining stuff , I loved it! 

Soon after we took a walk back to the VIP tent where we decided on taking the children back out to the main festival area in their pushchairs, both looked a tad hots and eye rubbing was a sign little H was getting tired. All the same I was surprised when they both happily complied with no fuss made at all (Not normally Harley’s style).

The Press/VIPs tent was much cooler with seating areas in and out. I was quite surprised to see a number of Celebes within the area( I dunno why I was, after all those with children are their to give their kids a fantastic day just as I was! I guess, I just didn’t think about)! Well,  all were very down to earth, enjoying the sunshine with their children just like anyone else meaning no one felt out of place (re-phase… I didn’t feel out of place), Celebes included, ‘Jeff Blazer’ and his children & ‘Angela griffins’ to name a few. Lucky, I don’t get star stuck, that is… unless your an overly good looking Hollywood film star (I say no names) Well after a short rest,  a lovely cold drink and quick game of spot the celeb’ we set back off exploring.  

We checked out some of the many stalls where I was shocked but presently surprised to meet Andrea (The very lovely business mum… founder of the “Mommy I’m here child locator”) I’m currently running a giveaway on this very blog, where I’m giving away one of her lovely teddy bear child locators (ends 25th August) I was also very lucky to conduct a review on the wonderful child locator, which funnily Harley had tied to his shoe lace at this very festival, (The fault of losing him in at the lollibop, any festival in-fact… makes me feel a little light headed.) Meeting Andrea allowed me to put a face to the name and personally thank her for the review opportunities and her wonderful device I now can’t live without! Andrea is a very inspiring business woman  and extremely nice lady, was so glad we met!

We hadn’t been out the vip area that long when I suddenly noticed the two little were knocked out sleeping in their pushchairs. With this, me and my sister indulged ourselves in a little harmless childish behaviour I even considered getting my face painted (I didn’t… much to my sisters delight) 

We also visited the lovely stall of the online shop,”festivals Kidz” where I got to meet the lovely founder, ‘Romany’ who was making beautiful head dressings with dried flowers for the little fairies of Lollibop. The stall was amazing selling items like, ear defenders in a cool range of neon colours (great for those on the autism spectrum and well as festival goers). There were also beautiful, yet funky kites on display and some really awesome “Tees” all half price. The stall was filled with lots of festival treasure from pretty fairy customs and girlie raincoats, to head dresses and baby items. I loved the many circus bits and pieces which again are great for those on the autism spectrum & those with Sensory processing disorder (SPD) These products would be ideal in helping the development of motor skills or could be used for their sensory benefits. A,” must visit” both on and off line.

Sadly we didn’t get to visit the actual circus, nor did we do any off the baby mini mission activities or indulge in “Baby loves disco” which has the likelihood of becoming a firm  favourite off mine! Yes, serious, I love to dance and it seems Harley does too! Baby loves disco could quite well be a match made in heaven!  Really looking forward to hearing more about the company at the…  “Business mum’s unite” in October this year. Our reason’s for not being able to participate in the above planed activities is down to a couple of now snoring toddlers ! With this we Instead walked off in the hunt for a couple of helium balloons (Bob the builder for little H and Waybuloo for Amy) these were  very reasonable priced. reasonably priced at £5 for a small and £6 for large (serious I’ve seen these things sold at a tenner ago, so was nicely surprised)

As the time quickly passed, regardless of our enjoyment, We left a little earlier at 5.45 pm as opposed to 7 pm, If the children were a tad older we would have stayed till the very end! This doesn’t mean we were bored or there wasn’t enough activities for the toddlers as their seriously was!This wasn’t to do with the children’s entertainment needs, I’m not stating their wasn’t enough on offer for them, quite the  opposite in fact… The children were totally knocked out with all the excitement of the days events, and didn’t even get to try everything, there was  just so much to do! that they were still happily sleeping when we headed off home. 

A quick Little summing-up on the festival designed for little people

I was lucky to have free Vip tickets so for the festival. Hence reasons why I haven’t really commented on such issues. However I did hear parents moaning about cost stating their disgust at the price for a little one to get in! In the defensive of Lollibop, It was advised that tickets should be brought on line avoiding the gate fee & a situation where you’re paying a lot more… Tickets on the day equal pricey tickets and we all knew it! It know it’s easy for me to state, but I truly felt that given their was such a great line up and so much to do, You got your moneys worth… After all its no more than other places this time of year, such as, “Lego land” and in my view Lollibop is just as good, especially for my little Bob fan!  When I arrived at one queues were very small at the gate and also not huge in the park itself. I did hear that the queues were very long on the Saturday & Sunday, I can only comment by stating, “Yay I got the right day” (This really wasn’t the case Friday) How about Maybe a book and return service  for meet and greets, workshops and face painting for next year? s that something that could be organised?

The location was perfect (I’m a London girl and love Regents park & it famous, ‘London Zoo’) maybe a Lollibop tour  could be worked upon for all those missing out on such a great event. This would put the smiles on lots of little faces,  which is so worth the effort!. The event was big but everything was nicely compact and easy to locate. I wasn’t to keen on the Haystack seating! I ran over thinking we were gonna find a mini farmyard for little H & Amy to explore. 

The festival was awesome, very child centred, as stated on the tin! Yet it provided an amazing day for all the family, and had lots happening. It still managed to keep that rather hippy feel about it that I love..  (If that’s the right word for it). This atmosphere was helped by the sights of Little girls in tutus, and fairy wings with pretty flowers in their hair running around throwing handfuls of fairy dust while playing with glittery hola=hoops! This made me wish that my daughter was there with me, “I know she would have loved it” 

So the big question: Would we come back next year and do it all again? Gosh, Yes! Lollibop is magical, a festival that will continue to develop it’s magic into total awesomeness  with every passing year. It’s a festival that’s not to be missed!

I’m a mum get me out of here!

1 Aug

 So… a whole week has passed since the children broke up from school! There’s been sleep-overs, trips to the park, sunny days in the garden, days out, lots of play & craft making, cup cake baking, water fights and lastly, “Arguing” Yes, you heard me right, “Arguing” Big fat smelly arguments! Little man and his sister have driven me loopy with their constant, “Mum… tell him to get OUT my room” & “Mum… Tell he to stop looking at me!” Honestly I’m on the verge of a school holiday breakdown here people!

 Little man has spent more time at home these past few years then he likely has in school (thank goodness that’s all changed now that his in a school that can cater for his needs)! But to have the two of them home together is nothing other than extremely hard work! This is simply down to the constant bickering and lately physical fighting between the two of them. We went through a stage before where Little Man constantly hit his little sister which resulted in me seeking professional advice. It was a stressful time, what with the worry that my daughter was somehow getting used to such treatment from here brother, associating it with the “Norm” she just kind of excepted that this was the way things were! Of course I wasn’t happy with this, I wanted him to understand that it’s not OK to hit your little sister every time she makes you angry, nor did I want her to think It was OK for him or anybody else for that matter, to hit her! In the end I was left with no choice put to get out mummy’s big guns and call in an expert! No…. Not super-nanny, but a very nice lady who worked for the ‘Autism Outreach’ for our area, came to speak with Alice while kindly sharing some much needed ideas with myself on reducing the little guys violent outbursts. This wasn’t yesterday, but a good year and a half ago, so were talking some time here, meaning a lot has happened since. Alice has changed a lot in them eighteen months or so. She’s grown up a great deal (I’m not just referring to her mental state here, she’s actually grown quite a bit taller too). however this means that she’s more inclined to do the “Hit big brother & run for my life act” I’m not suggesting he hasn’t maybe hit her first, (which is very often the case) but… this only results in complete and utter madness descending throughout this already chaotic, crazy place we like to call home! I end up having to set chase after little man as he angrily throws himself up the stairs in this high speed chase in an angry desperate attempt to gain that all important last hit. You can bet your life on it she’s shouting a mouthful of insults and abuse at her angry sibling throughout her sprint to her room! Once at her destination, she will slam the door shut and then suddenly out of nowhere she very quickly acquires super human powers that mainly consist of strength! She uses such powers to push her chest of draws and whatever else is in arms length, in-front of  her door. It’s her one attempt to keep out a very angry Little man, who by now has gained his own super human powers, displayed in the way of fly kicks that are aimed at her poor bedroom door!

 I know Many can relate, parents all over the world get this everyday! Yet it’s that little bit more frustrating when one of your children is on the autism spectrum because it makes things that little bit more “dramatic”. Little man can carry on & on for hours. He has been known not to get them little clues us mothers give off while pulling that face, “You know the one! The angry mummy face that indicates, I’ve really had a bloody enough now!” You shake your head in an over exaggerated way while stating aloud, “Carry on kids, #*%*#* carry on!” When your child is on the spectrum they see that red face & head-shaking motion and it means nothing to them at all! If they hear the words, “Carry on kids, carry on!” their up them stairs quicker then you can blink! When asked what they think they are doing? Your given an answer that sounds like sarcasm, “Umm, I’m running back up stairs to hit my sister!” You re-phase asking, “Why are you running back upstairs to hit your sister?” They will answer, “You told me to carry on, carry on!” 

 We’re lucky that over the course of time and given this mum has pulled such a face  a million times, resulting the same tired explanation for my actions…  He now gets it, he finally understands the unwritten rules that surround my body language and sarcastic tone when I state “Argggh… CARRY ON KIDS, CARRY ON.” (Swearing is only for extreme cases when it accidently pops out!)

 Saying this, there are some things little man just doesn’t get, an example would be, “Why you wearing that mum? It makes you look like you have a fat belly!” Me, “Oh, Thanks son”  Little man, “My pleasure mum!” Of course that wasn’t quite the response I was hoping for! It’s for this reason I try to adjust my language, avoiding ambiguous language whenever I can. Though this isn’t easy you know! It’s actually quit amazing how often a person will use metaphors without really actually realising it! I guess it’s become second nature to most, myself included! I swear, if you try reducing your use of metaphors down to zero, you’ll see that these seemingly stupid little phases, such as, “Pot calling Kettle black” or “Raining cats & dogs” make up a good 50% of the English language (Well, in my case it did)!

 Still… despite some sibling scuffles, a little attitude from my daughter who’s eight going on eighteen, and some bad language from the Little dude, things are going OK! 

 Little man is coping well without his very structured school routine. His been attending his new school following this routine a little over a month now and having only just adjusted to it, it’s now gone for a period of six long weeks, just like that! I’ve done my best to make sure I’m not allowing the little guy to spend his days sleeping till 2 p.m. in the afternoon, despite him having not fallen asleep till at-least 3 a.m most nights! Yes, it’s a bit of a struggle, I won’t lie when I say, “Some days I’m tempted to leave him to sleep the sunny day away!” After all his not easy to wake! As many may know from previous post, Little man normally, I’ll say 98% of the time, wakes up in a mood so bad it puts my monthly PMT rants to shame. The big plan has been to get him up early so he doesn’t find this already challenging task any harder when returning to school in September! I swear even those nights his in bed early, (very rarely) he still converts into some kind of morning demon that I’m ashamed to admit, “Scares the crap out off me!” Mother I do apologise if I was ever this unpleasant to wake, honestly, I wish my morning battles on no one, not even that of my worst enemy (though I don’t have one, but that’s beside the point)!

 As for the bedtime routine… THERE ISN’T ONE! I cannot blame the school holidays for this, it’s been a problem on and off since he could walk. Little man will begin to follow a good bedtime routine, then at the drop of a hat it’s vanished and things get frustrating for all! These past six months or more have been no exception. It took me forever to get Little man comfortably sleeping in his own room without making nightly trips into mine. He takes Melatonin, but its effects just seem to have disappeared. For this reason, we often take breaks between doses, sometimes on a weekend or through the holidays so its effects are more apparent when restarted! However, In all truthfulness these effects begin to fade in a matter of days anyway so I’m starting to wonder, “What’s the point?” As for the trips to mum’s room these have again become nightly. His not coming and getting in my bed. I’ve explained that his now far to old to do this, he just drags his duvet and throws himself on the rug! Why has it started again? I think it has something to do with a car accident that happened a while back, it took place right outside his window! The car made the loudest screech as it skid onto the wrong side of the road at high speeds (so fast one of the wheels came flying off and into our garden) luckily, despite it being a busy main road, it was the early hours of the morning converting it into something resembling a ghost town! The car itself, ended up missing our front path, flying through the neighbours bush, finally jamming itself into what used to resemble a front gate and a brick way! The noise was horrendous, waking him from his sleep it terrified him. Since then I’ve been greeted with him and his duvet almost every night and I’m at a loss of what to do.

 On a high note, we have some pretty awesome plans for the rest of the holidays. A fellow blogger has organised for us to receive tickets for the big dip, (open air swimming pool and fake man made beach minus the sea) located on good old ‘Clapham Common.’ She was so sweet explaining about our family situation to one of the organisers resulting in them sending us out a VIP pass to avoid the queues and crowds (see, some people really do care)! 

 We’re also planing a day out with some of the members of my Facebook page (other parents and their children on the spectrum). We are attending the Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire where we will be camping over the weekend (fabulous prize I won on the the fantastic blog “Not Supermum”).  I’ve never camped, nether have the children I’m relying heavily on my friend who is coming along too. My youngest who is just 20 months old will be staying with his daddy as I think it would be a bit much for him and it’s a long way to drive him back if he fails to settle in a “Tent” We will also be making a family trip to Legoland during the last week of the holidays and we’re staying down at the coast for three or four nights at a friends empty flat (when I say empty I mean, there is no one currently living there. It is furnished). The fact itself is located across from the beach, so its over looking the sea. 

 As much as I love my children I have at times avoided taking the two eldest out together! This results in double the days out and double the expense. I know its no way to live but seriously, there have been times I’ve quite literally pulled my hair out during a day out with them both. The last few hours of the Pandamonium festival at the beginning of the month was one of those days! So… I think I’m being extremely brave with the camping idea among others! 

 Another day out I’m extremely excited about will take play in just fours days (5th August) when myself and my youngest along with and my sister and her daughter (who is 10 weeks younger than Harley) will be going on our big day out to the Lollibop Festival in Regents Park London (a three day long event). Little man is too old and Alice is out with a friend plus this is my way of making it up to Harley for not attending the camping trip. This means I will only have one child to chase around once his set loose form his buggy. I can’t wait, his going to love it! With Cbeebies presenters, The Zingzillas, Waybuloo, Charlie and Lola, plus appearances from his favourite characters, “George pig” and Bob the builder” Its going to make his year. There will be lots to do and see, and I myself can’t wait for  Baby loves Disco, Yer… We’re gonna swing our pants and Huggies pull ups during this festival which has been especially created for weeny boppers. If u fancy checking it out have a look on their website and maybe I’ll see you there.

 So… As you can see, we have an eventful summer ahead. Here’s praying (Quite literally) that all runs smoothly, resulting in a fun but relaxed August! With my head now saying, “Yer, right… Dream On Claire!” I’m making it my mission to make it a  success! Now watch this space! 

The Premiere of Mr Poppers Penguins

27 Jul

A few weeks back I was delighted to receive an invite from ‘Thinkjam’ to attend the premiere of, ‘Mr Poppers Penguins‘ starring funny man ‘Jim Carrey

 The Premiere was screened in London’s Leicester Square at the beautiful Empire on Saturday the 23rd July .

I went along to this early morning screening with my good friend Donna and my daughter who brought along her, (I quote) best friend in the whole wide world! 

 I decided it would be find, and likely best if my daughter had her friend stay over at ours on the Friday night, and both could be heard chatting in an extremely excited manner about the coming events of the following day. I had decided that it would possibly be to too much for Little man to contend with, given his hate of crowds, his dislike towards his little sister (So, not joking) and his reluctance to walk around London (Yes I wanted to hit the shops after the film) I decided It would be best that he remained behind with his Little Bro who both spent the day with their father.

 (However, It’s not all doom and gloom! The ODEON will be screening, ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’ as part of its, ‘ Special autism friendly screenings’ which I will elaborate on a little further on) 

 We arrived a little after nine to a stunningly decorated foyer, filled with many delights  for little excited children. both my daughter and her friend demonstrated their joy by whirling around and giggling excitedly. Face painting, ballooning modelling, and pictures were just some of what was on offer. There was food and drink and a host of Celebes plotting about. I turned around at one point to find that Ophelia Lovibond who plays pippi in the film, was having her picture taken behind me. ” Gosh, Little old me mixing with the stars! Whatever next?” Said with a cheeky smile and a bit of a giggle.

 So… The Film, “Mr Poppers Penguins what’s it’s all about and is it worth a trip to the Cinema during this years summer holiday?

 Title: Mr Poppers penguins

Director: S. Waters 

Release date: 5th August 2011

Genre: Family, Comedy

Rated: PG

Running time: 1 Hr 34 mins

The plot: The life of a businessman, ‘Tom Popper’ (Jim Carrey) is turned upside down when he inherits an unusual gift from his late father, an explorer who had little time for his son when growing up. The unusual gift of six penguins join Tom Popper at his swanky Manhattan apartment, work commitments begin to suffer and his charming and devoted personal assistant, ‘Pippi’ (Ophelia Lovibond) who has a fondness for the letter ‘P’ can be seen desperately trying to keep both Mr Poppers work affairs and penguins in order. 

At first Tom popper frantically tries to get rid of his new flat mates, who he later names, Captain, Stinky, Loudly, Nimrod, Bitey and Lovely. Well, that’s up in-till his son ‘Billy’ (Maxwell Perry Cotton) catches a glimpse of the little cute waddling six, mistaking them as a birthday gift.

 

The Penguins play a vital role in bringing divorced parents Tom and Amanda Popper (Cala Gugino) back together much to the delight of their Children Billy, and that of over hormonal teenage daughter ‘Janie’ (Madeline Carroll) who’s having a boy crisis!

But this isn’t before Mr Poppers has turned his apartment into a snowy ‘Winter Wonderland’ and become a father all over again when six penguins become eight.

All the time his business is going down the pan, what with him failing to close the deal and buy out, ‘Mrs Van Gundy’ (Angela Lansbury, better known in the UK for, ‘Murder she wrote’) an equally tough business woman who shows no signs of selling the restaurant he and his father would visit during his childhood, sees him get fired from his well respected position in his high flying job. 

Like most movies aimed at a young audience, there’s a bad guy. The Zoo director, ‘Nat Jones’ (Clark Gregg) is that guy. He has a sinister plan to get his dirty mitts on the Antarctic penguins by posing as somebody who actually gives a dam about the penguins welfare! There’s a touching scene that sees Tom Popper waiting anxiously for the third egg to hatch, “Penguin number nine” that sadly never gets to see life beyond its shell! With this, Tom hands over the remaining eight penguins and tries to convert himself back into the “workaholic” he once was, much to the disappointment of his ex-wife and two children. 

Releasing his mistake and families unhappiness, the whole Popper family gang, along with personal assistant ‘Pippi’ set out on a rescue mission to reclaim the penguins, which leads to ‘Captain’ (The first of Mr Poppers penguins) flying from the roof of the zoo and into the sun roof of the waiting get away car! (Yes, I know Penguins, they don’t fly! Trust me this one certainly does!) 

With lots of very loud squawking and, umm, Yes… Farting, beside a truck load

 of Penguin poop the film had most the audience holding their sides.

Our Thoughts 

My daughter and her friend are both 8 years of age and sat though the film with no problems except for the trip to the loo that needed to be made only five minutes into the start of the film, (Kids)!

I asked both my daughter and her friend what they thought of the film! Both gave the same answer, “It was sick” Translation from Mum… I think you’ll find that actually means, “It was great, good, wicked, fantastic… take your pick!” Both also stated how they found the penguins both cute but equally funny.

My daughter, ‘Alice Sara’ shared her favourite scenes as being… The flooding bathroom scene that resulted in a floating penguin; the cute choreographed dancing scene, that saw Nimrod fall over, ‘YET AGAIN’ lastly the touching scenes where Tom Popper lies in the snow with the egg.

Her friend was equally impressed with the above (proving why these little girls are best friends) she also throw in the scene where Captain flies from the roof and into the sunroof of the waiting car, during the rescue mission form the Zoo.

My friend who is of course a grown up like me (no sarcasm please) shared her thoughts on the film as being that of enjoyment, yet a little confusion as to some of the points that made up the film. She made an interesting comment, by stating that some parts of the story line tended to become a little overloaded and were not really unneeded, stating that at times there was just a little bit to much going on. Still, like myself she giggled along to the film and at times even demonstrated a laugh out loud moment, as did 99% of the audience. 

I, myself found it a good family film that has enough laughter to hold an audience for the 1 Hr and 34 minutes it was screened. It made a welcome change from your, “Tipcally” cute talking puppy (that I’ve seen my fair share off thanks to that of my daughter)! Jim Carrey was fantastic, though I’ve seen this guy in funnier, ‘Liar, Liar’ being one example! Yet this film showed a somewhat softer side to Mr Funny and I liked that! When I told my daughter that Mr Poppers was in fact the same actor who played, ‘The Grinch’ & the ‘Mask’ she struggled to believe me, (though that could have something to do with him NOT having a green face for this title)! 

Though at times I found the story line to be somewhat predictable, my daughter didn’t and that to me was all that mattered. I must admit, what really made it something for me was that these penguins were the real deal! Yes, these were very cleverly trained penguins with some scenes featuring both the penguins & a combination of clever CGI (computer generated imagery) I think this was done in such a skilful way it was hard to work out which bits were actually CGI and which wasn’t. (Ok, all with the exception of the very loud opened mouth squawking shots!) It was easy to see why all the children in the audience, including that of my daughter and her friend, rolled about in their seats laughing loudly to the pooping and farting scenes… It was funny stuff especially to a couple of eight year old girls who couldn’t get enough of it! 

‘Pippi’ the assistant, played by, ‘Ophelia Lucy Lovibond’ was a pleasure to watch, as  was that of Mrs Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) both Uk actress. Sadly I didn’t have a clue as to who Carla Gugino (Amanda Poppers) actually was having not seen her in any previous films (I know, This mum don’t get out much)! Jim Carrey, as mentioned wasn’t at his funniest but played a good part all the same

So, If you like Carrey, penguins and lots of penguin poop then this is the film for you! Some very funny scenes and cute penguin moments, you may even shed a tear or two when watching the precious moment between Carrey and the un-hatched penguin egg.

Would I add it to the DVD collection that’s already greatly over following?

Yes, I would!

Mr Poppers Penguins will be realised in Cinemas nation-wide from the

5th August 2011

I will be watching Mr Poppers penguins for the second time with my eldest son, aka Little man who has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome.

Dimensions and ODEON have come together to bring us  ‘Mr Poppers Penguins autism friendly screening’ which is taking place at a number of ODEON cinemas across the country on Thursday 11th August 2011

There are 30+ cinemas involved in the screening and a full list can be found, ‘HERE’

What makes the screening autism friendly?

The lights will be on low

The volume reduced

You’ll be able to bring your own food and drink

You’ll be able to move around the cinema freely without having to worry about upsetting other public viewers

Tickets go on sale August 2nd and can either be purchased in the usual way form cinemas in your local area or online through the ODEON website “Here”

Support workers and carers go free with a valid CEA card. to find out more or apply click, “HERE”

Depending on the turn out and success within all 30 participating cinemas of the pilot screening of ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’ on the 11th August  will determined whether the green light will be given for other upcoming films in the near further.

We are going to our local ODEON to watch this great film while showing our support for this fantastic & much welcomed idea. Why should children miss out due to autism? If you ask me this is something all cinemas should have been providing for a long time.

Chocolate, sun and lots of fun

19 Jul

It’s hard work having family days out when one off your children is one the autism spectrum but it’s nice to know that regardless of the meltdowns and possible blow ups Little man is prone to, that have been so clearly described in my writing throughout many post on this very blog, there are still those out there willing to take a chance on us.

I love Cadbury’s and think the Spots VS. Stripes campaign is brilliant. Some may remember a post I wrote sometime ago relating to the campaigns latest games, ‘Race Season’ where myself and a friend went on an invite only event that see us trying to break world records and eat to much chocolate.

Well, It was a joy to receive a email from the lovely Sophia, a member of the PR team working on behalf of Cadburys who had invited me and the children down to the Sainsburys Pandemonium Festival as VIP guests. The Pandemonium Festival was a celebration of the launch of Kung-Fu Panda 2 Movie and Cadburys were there showcasing their latest games, ‘Cadbury Spots v Stripes Minute To Win It games’

Minute to Win it is a massive hit TV show from the US which is bashed around wacky game playing which Cadbury are sponsoring as part of their sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympic games.

The Cadbury games crew were inviting members of the public attending the event to try out the Cadbury Spot v Stripes Minute To Win It games which are made up off child friendly mini games which were fantastic. The public were certainly up for the challenge as the Cadbury stand was heaving! Knowing little man could possible freak out having to wait in the long line on this very hot day his sister took to the line instead allowing him to join her once she had made it all the way to the front bless her. The games team were great and Ben the guy in charge was great with my little man keeping him entertained while he waited and putting up with his millions of questions about the Spots Vs. Stripes van (transport crazy)

When it came to the games Little man let the side down by declaring he was a stripe, while my daughter knew her place when she proudly announced that she was a spot like mum! The children tried out a few mini games, this one being my best!

I thought Little man was gonna take this poor guys head off at one point.

This next game was a classic. Battling against one another it was the perfect game for these monsters. With their shoe half on, half off the aim was to flick the shoe into the air aiming it at the target. The one who was closest won.

Can you tell who that was? Yes, Little Man was on the verge of meltdown mode but he proudly held it together and coped pretty well with losing. Little Sis did however rub it in with her victory dance!

Lastly it was prize giving time. Thankfully both got awards.

To find out more or play one of the Spot v Stripes Minute To Win It games visit www.spotsvstripes.com

“Please Save me from the falling buildings”

13 May

It’s the 29 Th. April 2011 and the day of the Royal Wedding. Its getting late and has started to rain, within what seems like a second I’m wet through.

Stood on Waterloo bridge in bight red heels, “Heels I so, regret wearing!” I’m tired, becoming cranky and just wanna go home!

One problem! Little man wont cross the bridge.

Myself, a friend and my daughter had just started strolling across the bridge when little man shouted, “No, no, no! I’m not walking across that!” He stood very still with an expression of fear spread across his face. He shook his head repeatedly and started to mumble something which normally indicates his nervous.

Did I know he had a fear of this kind? Nope I truly didn’t! I can’t remember us ever having to walk over a bridge before (his fine with driving over them it’s just walking that presents a problem).

It hadn’t rained all day despite the predictions, the Royals married on a gorgeous sunny day. Well, that was in-till now! I was quickly losing the will to live as I tried desperately to persuade Little man to cross the bridge! The prospect of having to get the train one stop to avoid it was one I didn’t fancy having to contemplate. Then there was the fact I wanted to get a picture of the stunning views of the River Thames that I must say looked stunning on this particular night (despite the rain). The London Eye looked incredible, all lit up in blue and red, the colours of the union Jack in honor of the newly weds.

My friend took over and somehow after what seemed like ‘forever’ little man walked across the bridge.

The rain had stopped and despite how heavy it fell, it lasted no more than a mere 30 minutes (nonetheless it was enough time to soak an entire family)

The mission back to Waterloo east station would require us to walk past the London Eye. As we got nearer I suddenly realised another problem was about to unearth itsself! Little Man was now refusing to walk past the wheel. His anxiety levels rose and he become quite panicky.

“Please mum… I don’t want to walk past it, it’s to big, I’m scared!”

“What are you scared of darling?”

“What do you mean what am I scared off, I’m scared of that thing, that’s what I’m scared of!”

Well, didn’t that tell me!

This time there was no reasoning with the little guy and it was apparent by the frustration on my daughters face that she had now had enough and looked forward to a hot chocolate and her lovely warm bed. I looked at little man who now had his hands spread across his face in a desperate attempt to conceal his eyes from his surroundings, while shouting, “COME ON MUM, COME ON! ITS GOING TO FALL ON US IF WE DON’T GO RIGHT NOW, FOR *#*# *#*#”

Yes, bad language was flowing freely from the mouth of my little guy, he normally does when anxiety kicks in!

I knew from that moment we wouldn’t be walking past the beautifully lit London Eye and that this time not even my friend would be able to use her magic ways of persuasion, just as she had done on the bridge.

Now, did I know he feared the London Eye? No! However I had learnt through recent events that little man feared very tall buildings.

It was about three weeks pervious, when I decided to take the little dude on a visit to Canary Wharf during one of our ‘special transport days’ For those who are wondering what this crazy lady is chatting about, a ‘ special transport day’ involves little man super indulging in his special interest of transport by riding on the trains, tube, bus, dock-lands light rail, and not forgetting the clipper that jets across the River Thames into Greenwich or Westminster. Though this mum would like to see her little man splashing about at the swimming baths or playing with the other children in the park she wouldn’t have it any other way as seeing the enjoyment in his eyes makes it more than worth it (even if it does mean she has to be a transport enthusiast)

However once at Canary Wharf I could no longer see that same ‘enjoyment’ in my little mans eyes, Instead I saw fear. Stood amongst the skyscrapers Little man dropped to the pavement to the safety of the ground. I had never seen him react to anything in such a manner. I had clearly brought him to an environment that he could not tolerate.

Canary Wharf Isn’t to far from the London City airport and as a result the skies above see quite a bit of air traffic. As you can imagine this creates quite a noise as the sound of the aircraft bounces of the skyscrapers. This sent the little guy into an even bigger frenzy of panic.

As per-usual there were those that stopped for a look, this time it was different though, purely because my son wasn’t having a meltdown, this was in-fact a lot different, he was reacting like the terrified child he was instead of a child who come across as ‘challenging’ Nonetheless this was challenging for me, I still had to get him off the floor and back onto the tube.

Of course I succeeded but this wasn’t without lots of reassuring and encouragement. Back on the tube little guy questioned himself, he said he never thought he would be scared of buildings and couldn’t understand what went wrong! He said he was now feeling a little stupid. I explained that he shouldn’t feel stupid as it was a common occurrence, more than some may think. I wasn’t just trying to make the little guy feel better (even though this was of course my first priority), I was actually stating what I believed to be true, after all I was the same as a child. Once I explained to him that Mum had once felt that way, he really engaged and we discussed it all the way home.

It turns out that like me as a child, little man had felt dizzy and sick, his head went funny and his body wobbled! He even described a butterfly feeling inside his tum which he informs me was a very strange feeling. I think what he meant or at least tried to describe was the  feeling and  an experience of vertigo caused by his vestibular processing.

From the age of two I used to throw myself out of my buggy and lay on the floor every-time my mother or father pushed me past a bill-board poster. It took sometime for them to work out what was going on but they finally did, especially when my father took me on a crane where he worked and was presented with a little girl screaming her head off while shaking so forcefully that the crane wobbled (Well, at least that’s what my dad claimed *giggle*).

It’s funny as now I’m older I realise that I myself had quite a lot of sensory processing problems. I like my little man was and still am to some degree… tactile defensive!

You see, it’s not just the issue of fear here! This was a sensory issue for my little man. Well, it was defiantly a contribution of the two. Little man is also worried of a terrorist attack, something I should have considered before taking him there! Skyscrapers, aeroplanes and the feeling of being out of control on top of the vertigo was a tad too much for Little man while at Canary Wharf and seemed to be that same way now.

After a long day and night I decided that we would not walk past the London Eye, after all he had already faced his fear on the bridge (proud mummy)

I wrote this blog as I wanted to show how such issues can pop up out of nowhere, how it’s important to be aware of the possible triggers of anxiety, the achievements our children can make (the bridge), and also how I see a little bit of me in my little guy! No I’m not an Aspie but I’m his mum and his bound to be a little like me after all 🙂

It’s funny as a child I considered myself a bit of a nut job! what with the need to bite my sleeves even though it drove me mad, the fact i couldn’t deal with polo neck jumpers and school shirts, the way I hated G-strings in my early twenties lol (comfort babe is me) Oh, there are many more and I assume such issues of sensory processing disorder (SPD) were non-existent when I was a kid (now i feel old) Maybe if they were I may well hold the label, but then again I guess many of us would.

A love hate relationship

1 May

So, today I’ve been inspired to write this post by my beautiful daughter.

You see, my little princess is feeling a little left out! I guess I haven’t really treated her like the little princess that she is just lately.

I hold my hands up, life has been far to busy and she hasn’t received quite as much attention as I would have liked to have given her. I’m not stating I’ve neglected here, “As if my little diva would let me,” I’m merely stating that we need some one-on-one time without big brother! There has been less chick flicks & girlie pampering but far to many tears.

I look at my daughter with such pride, she is this truly amazing little girl who never fails to melt my heart. Like most siblings of Children on the autism spectrum, she seems quite mature for her eight years.

Over these past few months, which I must add have been pretty emotional for all, I’ve noticed my little girl has mimicked one or two of little man’s behaviours. It doesn’t take a genius to know why she has done this, after all little man gets quite a bit of attention when displaying such behaviours. Alice-Sara (My daughter) has claimed that she can no longer use certain cutlery when eating her dinner as it makes her feel fuzzy (tactile sensitivity). She has stated that it’s to noisy in school and has gone as far as throwing a tantrum over a miner mishap that wouldn’t normally bother her. This isn’t all! More recently see seems somewhat resentful towards her brother. It’s understandable given a good degree of the time he isn’t very nice to her and is extremely hard to live with, but it’s also to do with how much time I need to spend attending to Little mans needs, both social and educational. Last week I almost died of shock when my daughter, who enjoys school refused to attend. She throw me with her claims that she hated it and certain teachers didn’t understand her, yes, something her brother has stated through sobs of tears! She insisted that in-order for her to attend I would need to write some letters and sort things out in terms of her education! She also informed me that maybe it would be better to home educate her for a a bit while things settled down, Her worlds not mine! “Guys this little girl has a stack of friends and is popular with both the pupils and the teachers. Her reports always come back glowing with nothing but prise written all over them”. I knew what this was really about! With Little man’s pending Sen tribunal due to be heard in June, I have been writing statements, emails and filling out a ton of paperwork, mainly parental information needed to form part of his independent SALT and EP assessments. I have also been doing quite a bit of casework for my role as a TSS volunteer. Alice-Sara confirmed this to be the issue when I insisted we talk about it on the way to school when she so angrily stated why storming towards the front door, “Oh, You would have done it for him.” Yes, ‘him’ meaning Little man!

Alice-Sara loves her brother, however things are not always easy for her. All brothers & sisters normally quarrel, I’m not denying that, but come to our house, I promise you its beyond ‘Normal’!

Now, it’s not always the little dude who is the one to kick things off, my daughter has become accustomed to setting him off and she’s learnt how and what buttons to press in-order to get her desired reaction. However his rigid thinking and tendency to be inflexible and controlling has either brought her to breaking point or reduced her to tears. Lately she can’t seem to breathe without it bothering him. Just a few days back little man treated the family to a night on pain-killers. My daughter needed Calpol (children’s medicine) for her headache and although I had just taken a couple of good old paracetamol for my own chronic headache, I could have done with something a tad stronger like a few handfuls of tranquillisers to knock me out for the rest of the week!

Alice-Sara decided that having tried a ‘Fish Finger’ for the first time they were actually quite yummy. When dished up and the kids sat down for dinner, little man’s eyes wondered across the table in the direction of her plate. “OH NO…”

Little man: “Mum, you’ve given Alice the wrong dinner!”

Before I could answer…

“No, she hasn’t. I like fish fingers now.” Announced Alice-Sara.

Well, what happened next wasn’t anything unexpected as it happens on a regular basis! A full-on blow up was had that consisted of him claiming that his sister shouldn’t be allowed to like fish fingers as he likes them! “She’s copying me,” and “You’re horrible mum! They were my fish-fingers!” Those statements and a load more, accompanied together with kicking doors and throwing whatever was in his reach went on for a good proportion of the night. A real head banging event!

Last spring when things were really difficult at school for Little man which resulted in some challenges at home, I began to worry for both my Little man and my daughter. His aggressive behaviour was at a point that was deeply concerning. We went on a day out accompanied by my friend who ended up having quite an eventful time and one I’m sure she wont forget for some time! It was during this day out that I decided we as a family needed to seek professional help & support! Alice-Sara was happily flying a kite on the heath following the ‘Bike & Kite’ festival we had just attended. Out of nowhere came little man who had decided it was time she stopped! He run over giving her a massive shove that saw her fall to the ground. No tears followed, she didn’t even complain, just got up bushed herself off and returned to the joy of flying her kite. In that exact moment I realised that I had just witnessed something that scared the ‘crap out of me!’ Was this the ‘Norm’ for her? Did she consider it an acceptable thing for her big brother to have done? Would this little girl ‘my little girl’ grow up thinking it was Ok to be pushed around? I don’t want my daughter to ever allow herself to be treated like this, not by anybody including that off her big brother! It was lucky that at this time I was in contact with a lady who works for the autism outreach service for our area and how lucky was I when she agreed to visit me at home and have a chat with my little princess. I also gained some good ideas on strategies that I could implement that would hopefully stop little man becoming so physically aggressive towards his sister. It took some effort but results were seen, his hitting faded out and Alice-Sara would no longer turn a blind eye to his behaviour.

Sadly these past few weeks something has changed in the little man and myself and daughter have received some unwelcome attacks as a result. He even attacked his sister on a packed train when returning from the West End because she, ‘Disrespected Transport for London’ when placing her tired little feet on the seat she was sat on.

How can I make it stop? Consistency is our only hope. Strategies that we used last year have been tried but sadly failed, however this mum is on a mission and won’t give up on finding another strategy that works!

I’m guessing a number of parents of children on the autism spectrum will agree… consistency is a ‘must’ for all children but isn’t the easiest thing to apply when dealing with the child with Aspergers and they’re challenging behaviour.

To bring this post to a close I’ve finished with something positive. After all this talk of violence I think I need to! So, besides sharing some contact details for sibling support groups that some off you may find helpful, I’ve also included this beautiful picture that I captured yesterday on the train when on our way out for the evening to see a show in the West End to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Little man has his arm around his sister who happily excepted a hug as opposed to a slap or a punch! No-one requested he gave her a hug, it’s something that you just don’t see him do! I don’t know who was more surprised me or my daughter!

The Charity Barnardo’s run a number support groups for siblings of disabled children around the country. Some groups are mixed for both the Sibling and their brother/sister with a disability, whereas others are dedicated to the sibling alone. (028) 90672366 is the contact details for the London regional office. If anyone requires the number for their area drop me a comment or contact the above number as I’m sure they will help.

Contact a Family is another organisation who cater for siblings of children with disabilities. Further info can be obtained by calling… 0808 808 3555

Mencap are happy to put people in-touch with their local sibling support group. The number for England is: 0207 4540454

Kids are an organisation which runs play, education and social initiatives for disabled children and it is suggested that siblings may also benefit from their clubs, outings and residential weekends, and can be contacted on: 020 7359 7635 email: enquiries@kids.org.uk

The Highs And Lows…2010 in a nutshell (part 1)

31 Dec

What a year!!!

So much has happened in 2010 and looking back through my diary and reading some past post, I’m shocked at how much we’ve squeezed in!

Though it’s pretty clear from my reading that sadly the lows far out weigh the highs… …  It’s still them few highs that I believe have kept me sane throughout 2010 and helped my family pull itself through them Oh to many low days!

So Now I attempt to write a post that looks back over the 12 months of 2010…Regular readers can reminisce alongside me and those of you that are new hear can discover life so far in a nutshell!

January….

… The year 2010 started off as an amazing one! With my new son born on the 11th December 2009… I couldn’t have been happier. Little man was and still is crazy about his little bro. My family was complete, with three beautiful children I wanted for nothing. Sadly my baby became quite ill in the January at just 5 weeks old he had a bad chest infection (Severe Bronchiolitis), refusing to take a feed or just vomiting the whole thing up (exorcist style) we took him to hospital… Where we stayed for the next week and a half. He was fitted with a feeding tube that went through his nose, and had to be given oxygen for hours at a time to keep his stats up. I worried about my baby so much… But also had the added worry about leaving little man and his sister for so long. How would little man cope with seeing his baby brother with all these tubes? of course I worried about my daughter who was almost 7 but I knew she was stronger than her brother in terms of managing with her feeling and fears, She found it easier to discuss her fears and ask questions on things that would worry her (She was much easier to reassure and comfort during times like these)

The children visited and I would do my best to reassure them their baby brother was recovering well. Little man was becaming very distressed with the sight of all the tubes, as was his sister. A few days into our stay the baby got worse and contracted H1N1 and pneumonia. Myself and his father tried to stay strong for the sake of the children but we were going out of our minds with worry . A no visitors rule was imposed… Only myself (who stayed at the hospital) and his father were able to be with the baby. Little man was broken he couldn’t visit his brother and worried himself sick. His father would come and stay with the baby for a few hours while I would spend them few hours with the children. It was an incredibly hard month!

At last our baby came home and slowly I settled back into a routine of being a mummy of three.




February ….

… Having baby back home was  amazing. Little man had been having a few issues at school during January but I put this down to the change in routine (me staying with the baby at the hospital ect…) However things went belly up after extensive works started on our house. Our ceiling had fallen down in 2009 and was still not complete and the Walls had now started caving in around us. The job was a huge one that meant knocking down all remaining plaster (taking the walls back to brick) and re-doing them all from scratch! Works were planed to take a week. This was no place for a recovering baby and two young children… One who had sensory sensitivity… we knew we couldn’t stay and moved to my mothers. I visited my home every few days to check on things and collect my post ect.. I would leave in tears as it was like a builder’s yard with massive piles of dust. The works went way over schedule & we were at my mothers for what felt like forever! (No offence to my mum but we needed to go home)

Little man was stressed all he wanted was to be at home. Problems at school grew more difficult and I noticed I was getting more and more phone calls & letters from the Head & Deputy Head teacher. I wanted to ask the LEA to assess but was told by his school the LEA would not agree as there was more the school could be doing. Little man was given two unofficial exclusions on this particular month. Looking back now It’s very clear to me he was dealing with a hell of a lot and wasn’t handling stuff as well as I may of thought he was at the time… We were not at home and everything was different. Yet he was keen to attend school for the first time ever… He had even started to make some friends.


March….

… On the 1st March I made a parental request for a statutory assessment. Outreach services were asked to come in to school to observe, advise the school and work with Little man. This was the month Little man received his first official fixed term exclusion on the 3rd March… Things just kept getting worse. The relationship between myself and school was rapidly breaking down over my concerns about the lack of support and understanding that was being given to my son. On the 18th of March little man received his second fix term exclusion… And at the end of March I attend court for non school attendance for the period June-Dec 2009 (Little man was not sleeping at all and refused to attend school daily) As I stood in court like some harden criminal being fined… The school was busy imposing the third exclusion of the month via voicemail… Little man’s third exclusion within a few short weeks! Things were serious.

April…

… It was nice to get away from the stress of Little man’s school situation even if it was for just a few short weeks! Unlike many parents, I found myself dreading the Easter Half term coming to an end & the children having to return to school. It was nearing the end of April when Little man returned (two days after his peers as he was given a 4 day exclusion at the end of March that carried over to the new term) From the word go we encountered problems. I had a meeting at school which didn’t go well, I found myself losing trust in the school, and I felt though things were serious but no one was taking it that way as every concern was brushed aside! Little man was now always angry and his self-esteem was at an all time low. The LEA were not following the statutory time limits when it came to the six-week time limit for making a decision on if/if not to assess Little mans Special Educational Needs under the Ed Act 96 & the code of practice! I found myself having to chase people for answers… Only to then be told that they have decided to take it to panel on the 17th May weeks after the required time frame with no explanation offered! I felt like I couldn’t enjoy my new son due to always suffering the worry of the phone ringing, the fear of further exclusions or being asked to prepare my child to miss his break/lunch time or both, normally for incidents said to have happened a day or more before… I was becoming so down and feared that depression was setting in.

It There was one or two highs to the month… My birthday and spending it with the children, and the phone call informing me I had been accepted onto the Early Bird plus programme (dispute Little man being a tad over the age limit)

was world autism month and I was busy raising awareness for autism through blogging and my facebook group (that seemed to be touching the lives of more and more families thanks to the great support of members and the fantastic admins now on board)I started to notice that over time I had required some truly inspirational contacts & friends, who are some of the nicest, kindest people I know… All because of Autism.

May….

… For me, May was the month that I thought… “Can it get any worse?”,  “Was the straw that broke the camels back” so to speak! Having Only just returned from exclusion a few weeks pervious the exclusions started up again! On the 5th of May my little dude was excluded for one day! This was also the month the Allotment project started, resulting in what I can only describe as continuous acts of discrimination. Little man was either brought back from the allotment… With the school only informing me of such incidents a week or more later… Or he wasn’t taken at all. There were also weeks he found himself excluded on the same day as the project took place. Little man was given two exclusion this month on the 5th and 13th. We had a multidisciplinary meeting at school at the end of the month and it was agreed that the school could not meet my child’s needs, yet….  It was also this month that I found myself yet again chasing up the LEAs decision on the statutory assessment. I finally discovered by phone the request had been refused on the grounds his school could meet his current level of need and he was making adequate progress. This was my first real insight into the sheer twisted system supplied by LEAs… There was penalty more insights to come!

Although things were appalling at school, I started to gain more skills through the parenting classes for parents off children on the autism spectrum (Early Bird Plus) Meeting other parents who nodded when I spoke because they related to what it was I was saying was just heavenly. This was one of my reasons for creating the blog and the magnificent Facebook page… “I just love that page” I wanted to connect people as it can be a pretty lonely world if no one relates to you or your child, even if they pretend they do!.. Meeting parents of children like mine was uplifting and really brought me up from the lowness I had recently started feeling. I could speak to the staff running the programme without judgement, they even visited me at home… I was shown how to create social stories & the benefits of using visual aids (That we now can’t do without) I looked forward to Tuesdays and remain extremely grateful to the staff for agreeing to my attendance on such a beneficial programme.


June…

… After yet another blissful Half term… The children returned to school. Little mans sleeping problems were really showing its ugly head once more… despite the use of Melatonin. The month of June showed little or no improvement with the schools over use of exclusions… They just refused to take note on the effect they had! It was only impacting on his own mental well-being and his behaviour become more challenging not less. At home he was starting to have huge meltdowns and failing to cope with any day trips through fear of being rejected from them (even with his own family… he had lost all faith) Little man was excluded once again a few days into his return to school on the 10th of June (another allotment trip consequently lost) The LEA carried on rule breaking, resulting in letter writing on my part as a way to obtain the important letter refusing to assess in order to appeal to the tribunal… This I finally received it at the end of June.

Although things seem less than rosy in June it had a number of perks… Things may have gone overly sour in regards to Little mans education, but things started to look up for me and the family as a whole. I received an email from Nas inviting me to be interviewed for the training course to enable me to become an adviser for the Advocacy for education TSS service (Tribunal support service) We also received a fabulous gift from Merlin’s magic wand… Four tickets to Chessington World Of Adventures was much appreciated, and brought huge smiles of happiness across Little man and little sisters face! The sound of pure excitement filled the house and gave the family something fun to look forward to. Merlin’s went all out and helped us make up for all the school trips and activities my little dude was currently missing. The plan was to take the children to the theme park during the summer holidays that were almost upon us.


Well…… As you can see and it isn’t for me not trying… I just can’t seem to pack one long busy year into one single post without achieving some kind of world record for the worlds longest blog post (That’s if I don’t already hold the title!) So…. Time for me to wrap this up and continue from July through to December in part 2 tomorrow (Well it will give me something to do 🙂 ) I’m hoping you will all return to read about the highs and low of the last 6 months of 2010 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…………

Chessington the aspie way

31 Aug

The school summer holidays are almost over! to end things on a high we took the children to Chessington world of adventures curtesy of Merlins (Who we are most greatful to)
The day brought a mixed package of emotions but on the whole it was a great day. Little man did receive a ride access pass to avoid queueing, equally meaning this should aid the avoidance of meltdowns. However through this helped in a huge way, we did not avoid meltdowns completely in fact we did encounter a few.

First Meltdown: Before leaving.
Second Meltdown: Within 30 minutes of arriving at the park.
Third Meltdown: During the Journey home.

Although the above meltdowns are never easy and will be tough on all concerned they were bearable and easier to tackle compeared to some encountered in the past. These are what I refer to as Grade 2 meltdowns. it’s the grade ones that I really can’t bear!

Well from our own experiences, I would like to share some top tips. Looking back at the time leading up to our trip, the journey, and overall day, I think these tips could be extremely beneficial to any family like ours planning a day at Chessington world of adventures.

THE LEAD UP TO YOUR DAY OUT.

a) Adjust schedules and timetables as needed.

b) Prepare your child for the trip well in advance. We began this process weeks before. This enables the child time to adjust to the idea and prepare themselves mentally. (sadly they may also go on and on and on)

c) Avoid postponement where possible.
we had to postpone hence reason for meltdown number 1:( This is a disappointment for any child! For those on the spectrum it’s a disaster. You as the parent will pay the price.

d) Be sure to have the right documents for a ride access pass. New regulations state Photo ID is needed and proof of disability that relates to a condition that makes it hard for the child to cope with the concept of having to wait/queue.
We used a osyter 5-10 card and little mans writen diagnosis. More information can be found on the website.

e) Look online for any offers that can be used in the park. Some sites offer vouchers that enable you to receive 20% or more off food and gifts brought in certain food halls and gift shops within the park.
Note! Food can be expensive and you may want to bring your own.

f) prepare child for queues. Yes you can obtain a ride access pass but you will still need to queue for use of toilets, food outlets, gift shops e.g. My little man often pushed his way to the front while holding his arm in the air displaying his bright yellow wristband. He was shouting: “Clear the way, I have a wristband and don’t have to queue” Yes not ideal and a tad embarrassing.

g) Download a map of the park. if u have an iPhone or blackberry download as a PDF file. Maps can be picked up on the day but by doing it this way your child can familiarise themself with the park and it’s contents (Worked for us)

h) Check travel updates. Driving? check traffic update before leaving. If like us you use public transport be sure to check departure times of trains and buses. Long waits at busy stations are never easy.

JOURNEY TO THE PARK

a) Don’t even think about exploring the stations M&S or WH. Smiths. This didn’t go down well with little man.

b) If your child is like mine a transport enthusiast then be prepared. Once on the train little man beeped all the way there, pressed the button opening the train doors at each and every station, repeated all the names of the stations we stopped at, and took notes on the route for use later (AT HOME, AT 3AM)

ONCE AT CHESSINGTON

a) We had curtesy tickets meaning no long queue at the ticket sales at the gate. I suggest you order your tickets online. Pre-purchased tickets can be sent to you in advance meaning you two can avoid the massive ticket sales queue. If this isn’t possible be sure to arrive early.

b) Once inside head for Market square where you will find the admissions & information office. This is where you obtain your childs ride access pass (wristband) You are required to show your documentation before the child is fitted with the wristband. I found the staff most helpful and very understanding. (Ride access enable your child and between 2 to 4 carers to enter a ride via the rides exit area. This means the child avoids queueing. This is only for adults and children who don’t fully understand the concept of queueing or just can’t cope having to do so.)

c) While at the admission centre do get your child/children measured. Some of the big rides require you to be aleast 1.4 meters tall. We didn’t think to do this when we arrived. Little man spotted a ride that required him to be 1.4 meters. He just reached the top of the measuring stick but only because his fluffy hair encounted for aleast 3 inches. Me and the member of staff who was measuring him could not help but laugh when I pointed out just how lucky it was his father had not given him a hair cut. After much debate on Little mans part that consisted with a few worries “Does this ride ever break or get stuck?” followed by “what’s the odds out of a 100 of the ride becoming stuck while I’m on it?” We were allowed down to the exit to await instructions to board. Just as we went to jump on another member of staff asked to remeasure the little dude! With that we were pointed in the direction of the Admissions centre for a prober measure up. We were then told to come back with a blue wristband to show he met the requirements of the ride. He had the largest meltdown of the day. He was shouting “I have a F***ing yellow wristband!!! I don’t want a blue one”
He then sat with his head in his hands on the dirty floor. I stood asking if everyone was enjoying the show and his father who came with with us was running for the gate.

d) This ride should come with a Warning! It should state the BUBBLE RIDE may cause sensory overload!
I assumed little man would love this ride. After all I did as a child. I didn’t consider the sensory impact it may have on a child with ASD.
Note: This ride would be ideal for sensory seekers. The things a person on the spectrum may find unbearable.
. WATER: Its a slow moving ride that is water based.
. SMELL: The changing smells of bubble gum, soap, to fruity pop amoung others were very over powering.
. NOISE: The loud music that changed suddenly each time the ride entered a different area was messing with my head, so it must of done a great deal more to little mans!
LIGHTS: The ride features strobe lighting. A warning sign is displayed to show the risk for those with conditions such as epilepsy or pregnancy.
This ride frighten the life out of my little man. We purchased the ride photo that showed little man covering his head with his arms with the fear of god in his face. Another child with ASD enjoyed this ride and was now having their second turn. I had got speaking with his mother in the queue for photos who was telling me how much her son loved it. So this shows it can go either way. Sadly for us it was the wrong way. (at least Little sis had fun)

e) Bring spare clothing or waterproof wear. As fun as those water rides can be! there is nothing worse then wet wringing children! (Note the park provides halogen heated booths, but my children would not go near them)

f) Make time to visit the Zoo and Sealife centre. We did not visit the sealife centre as little man was having problems with the small queue. The Gorilla house is fantastic and worth a visit.

g) Do not wait for all the rides to finished before heading to the gift shop (open for extra 30min after park’s closing time) We did this and were faced with huge queues and a very crowded gift shop:( Stick to spending amount and do not cave with the added pressure from childs threat of tantrums.
I ended up spending way to much:(
Note: The best gift shop that offers best value for money (pocket money gifts) was the main Chessington Gift shop located in Market Square.

h) Leave before park closng time! Why? unless you want to be faced with huge queues for the bus (station a ten minute walk, little man cried like crazy as we promised the bus) Or a packed out very noisy train, that is very overcrowded? Then take my advice! We sat on the train and were surrounded by teenagers screaming and laughing. No wonder this was the reason for little mans final meltdown.

Yes we run into a few problems but we managed to still have fun. Little man loves rollercoasters and there were some smaller one like the runaway train. A train that’s a rollercoaster! Of course he loved it!

So there you have it! Chessington the Aspie way. I hope you enjoy your day, and with the help of my tips you get the best out your trip to chessington.

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