He Likes…

So, what does Ned enjoy?

The majority of ‘Normal’ toys don’t really have much appeal to Ned – he doesn’t participate in imagination play, so your usual action figures and the like don’t really work with him. Put frankly, he doesn’t give a crap about regular toys. The things that he has become seriously drawn to are brands  – mainly cleaning brands.

We have a box in our living room, full of Neds favourite things. Currently the inventory of said box is:

- Five different items from the ‘Nivea’ range – face cream, shower gel, moisturisers etc
– A bottle of ‘Herbal Essences’ Shampoo
– Two Boxes of Washing powder
– A bottle of ‘Suft’ Fabric softener
– A range of mixed travel minatures of various brand names and types
– Sheets cut out of magazines with various adverts such as ‘Dax’, ‘Loreal’ and ‘Colgate’

Neds favourite game is to tip this box out, sit in the middle and pick them up one by one, studying them  until he picks a favoured one which gets the (some might say unenviable) privilege of accompanying him of his travels around the house – until he gets bored and leaves it somewhere for his parent’s to find at a later date. Most of the products are empty, though it has become a standard action to hide things like Dettol and bleach when at home of visiting our parents.

Another, newer hobby, is looking at Car badges. He now identifies most brands with ease – his favourite being Citroen – in fact, when he sees a couple of Chevrons together he’ll look at me and say “Citroen” in a matter of fact kind of way.

He still loves books – he’ll sit with one and flick through happilly. He’ll even spout lines from some of his favourite books (Currently superworm) ‘Look, a Superworm Lasso!’ (Or ‘Wazoo’ as he manages) is the longest sentence we can get out of him, and to be honest, it’s not the most useful in most  situations.

He’s just noticed his shadow as well, meaning there’s lots of looking at the floor, or peeking behind curtains to see if it’s still there, and looking at us and saying “Shadow!”

So Basically, send us your plastic Recycling – we can keep our son busy for hours – more so if it’s night time and the lights are on. Failing that, a visit to a car dealership will be his Disneyland.

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Socks

Funny thing, time.

As a parent, you quickly realise that you have very little control over time. You find yourself wishing it away, then wishing it was back. You sit down for what seems like five minutes but realise you’ve wasted a day. You try to find any activity to keep your kids interested, and realise it only kept them busy for two minutes. Yes, time seems to be the one thing you never have control over. And socks. Always the socks. I don’t know where they go, or why only one of a pair disappear, but Ned never has socks for longer than five minutes. It’s like our house is a Bermuda triangle for infant foot wear.

So, that being said, what’s been happening?

A lot would be my most accurate answer. First and foremost, we’re having another baby. Due in November, and it’s a boy. It feels odd announcing Claire’s pregnant now that’s she’s six months gone, but I feel as if I should ‘announce’ it. Poor second child, alreading slipping into the stereotype. I promise I’ll blog about you just as much as your Brother (I can’t promise that, I’m really busy, but what do you know? you’re not even born yet). We’re happy, excited, but a little bit calmer than the last time we got ourselves into this situation – some might say lazy, and I’d contest that (if I could be bothered).

Now I’d like to tell you about Ned.

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If you know him or read about him, you’ll know he’s a wonderful, happy, hilarious child who literally lights up my life every time I see his big goofy face. He’s unique (as all parents say about their own) and I wouldn’t change him for the world.

Since he could walk, and since he started developing his own little personality, there have been a few times we’ve looked at each other in regard to a few ‘quirks’ he’s always had – the fun ones such as his habit of tensing when overly excited or his fascination with mundane objects such as cleaning products, or his amazing aptitude for technology and motion. There have been times, however, where some of the quirks haven’t been as fun – in fact, some were a bit concerning. His terrible sleep patterns, or his delay in speech, or the fact he doesn’t point, or the issues around social interaction with kids his age (he doesn’t do it) – it came to a point where we were concerned enough to see a health visitor, who referred us fairly quickly for an ASD assessment. To those who don’t know, it’s basically (very basically) a test for Autism.

Recently, Ned had that test. The wonderful doctor told us it took her all of ten seconds to come to the conclusion that yes, Ned, our beautiful boy, was Autistic. I felt a pang in my stomach as I held Claires hand – The only feeling I can compare it to is the feeling you get when you discover you’re in trouble – big trouble – That pit of your stomach, clenching, prickly sick feeling when your hearing briefly becomes dulled, you feel the colour drain from your face, and your mind goes blank. It’s hard to come to terms with. Your mind races – you think of everything that might change – you wonder if it’s your fault, you wonder why it’s happened to your son, who doesn’t even know that anythings different, and the fear for his future and a normal life grip you like a fucking living nightmare -

- Then you look down, and see him – your boy, the same boy from ten seconds ago, sat on the floor, smiling away as he opens and closes a piece of dollhouse furniture, and you forget.

You forget that anythings changed because nothing has. You banish thoughts of why, how or what you’re going to do next because none of it really matters. All that’s changed is you realise that the worry that was niggling the back of your brain been identified – as early as it could possibly be, meaning we can work on making sure he gets the best help as early as possible. He is still Ned, and will always be Ned.

The breakdown was that his terrible sleeping patterns, his social delays and other quirks are all linked to his Autism. He seems to have an aptitude for technology and mechanisms – my best description would be that if you gave Ned a toy that was a door with a picture of an animal behind it, Ned would be more excited about the way the door opens and closes instead of the ‘reward’ of an exciting character behind it. We’ve been told to focus on the things he loves, and use that as the compass for teaching and his development, and were pointed to apps on the phone/tablet that will help him in these fields.

The doctor said that he has a lot going for him – the fact that he’ll make eye contact with you, the fact that hes so damn happy (both issues that can affect severely Autistic children) are great points working on his side, and we should do everything we can to ensure that he’s as happy as he is – and always has been. The doctor also says that currently he’s one of the easier ones – which is reassuring. But anything can change. He can change, and we need to prepare for it. There’s so much to learn, plan for and do that its difficult to not explode, but when I worry, when the pit of my stomach reminds me how it feels, I look up, I see that wonderful, beautiful, fantastic child with the almost permanent smile and i think to myself – Its going to be fine.

So, hopefully this means I’m back in a semi permanent capacity, posting every few weeks about my son(s), my wife and my life.

Sorry about the delay, I just haven’t had the socks.

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Cupcakes

He’s developing well:

- Ned went to his first speech therapy session recently – he’s a bit behind on speaking, but these lessons seem to be great at moving him to where he should be. That, coupled with the fact the kid wont stop babbling, means he’s improving a lot. He said his first strung together words the other week – “Bye Toast” as he waved to his breakfast. I can’t imagine it’ll get you far in life, but hey, we all start somewhere.

- Speaking of breakfast, Neds appetite is swiftly spiraling out of control. He spent the day at my parents the other weekend. On my return to pick him up, one thing they mentioned is that ‘He’s eaten a lot’ translating to ‘Sweet Jesus, how can a small child hold that much and not break?’ He’s also eaten cucumber and a cherry tomato, and for a kid that eats any fruit he can get his chubby little hands on, but won’t even look at a salad item, that’s a big step forward.

- He really, REALLY likes the moon.

- He’s enjoying his pre-school Monday Morning – Claire watched him run around the playground with the other children the other day, completely absorbed in his own business and enjoying every second of it. He ate some play-doh there the other week.

- He says Robot like this: ‘Rowwwwww-bot’

- One of his new favourite toys of the moment is a small plastic jug. I don’t know why. None of us know why. I doubt even Ned knows why.

We managed to spend a couple of hours last saturday making cupcakes as a family. Claire enjoys baking, which is very helpful as I enjoy eating cake, as does Ned. (Ned has started asking for things – food, mainly. Claire asked Ned if he wanted a Banana, he replied with ‘Cake?’)

Anyway, we made cupcakes. They were all horrific. If I was in a horror film I’d be sending Ned to therapy immediately, and wouldn’t be climbing ladders if he was riding his trike nearby.

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I mean, look at the above picture. Ned chose to do this.

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May as well be visual extracts from a Lovecraft Novel.

So we made cupcakes, which were horrific. But they tasted fine, and once I pulled the inedible Chick from my sons mouth, he enjoyed the cakes too.

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Short Update

Not much time to sit down and write this month, so apologies – actually, I’m not apologising for that – If anything, you should be looking at me with a mix of awe and respect for having such a busy and exciting social and professional life – and that it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I’m playing on my PS4 every free minute I get.

Ned has been growing mentally and physically over the last few weeks, and I thought I’d break these developments down in a short bulleted list, because nothing says ‘very little time’ like a short bulleted list:

1: Neds eating eggs. In fact, to be fair, Neds eating everything he can get his hands on. I’ve touched on his appetite a few times, but his range of foods has increased to a level where he’ll at least TRY anything put in front of him. At my parents the other weekend, we gave him some poached egg. He avoided the yolk, but practically inhaled the white. Cue me and Claire giving him egg as much as possible. He now eats grapes, which is a refreshing, cheaper alternative to the strawberries he had become so linked with. He even tried radish, then set it back down on his plate and looked at me, waiting for the punchline, because daddy, this is obviously some sort of joke.

2: He will not stop climbing. He’s always enjoyed getting on the coffee table, or the sofa, but now it’s soared to worryingly dangerous feats of athletic prowess. On Sunday, I went to the kitchen to make his dinner, returned to find him upright on the dining room table, staring at the light on the ceiling, waving his arms. He’d used his trike saddle as a step to a dining room chair, which he then used to get to the table. It’s an issue.

3: He’s now officially going to a pre school. Two hours every Monday morning currently, and by how it’s gone so far, he’s enjoying it – to a point where he barely noticed Claire had left him there.

His independence is startling – now sleeping in his own bed, in his own room, going to school and now even eating eggs – will wonders never cease?

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Pre School

First of all, here is a picture of Ned taken recently. He has a cold, and isn’t very happy about it. He was a bit sad, and wanted a cuddle to go to sleep to, which I happily provided an arm for. Look how little and beautiful he is.

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Now, as of today, my son – my tiny baby son – had his SECOND tour of a potential pre school. This means that soon, he will be attending pre school, which means that soon, he will be off to university, well into his career that will go on to fund my soon to be permanent residency in a home. I am not overreacting, and to anyone who says I am – you are wrong, and will always be wrong until you agree with me.

Ok.

Maybe I’m overreacting a little bit. In the grand scheme of the universe, Neds transition to adulthood and full time education is very soon, but on the more realistic family level, it’s a long way to go. It just doesn’t seem that long ago since Ned was a tiny fat lump of baby, incapable of even moving his weighty over-proportioned head without assistance. Now, I see him transporting his (admittedly still tiny and fat) mass around house BY HIMSELF via the gift of self propulsion (running) and he doesn’t even need our help to lift his head – he does that himself too! So, you can understand my perfectly reasonable terror at his level of independence, which means, I assume, he’ll have no need of his parents by the end of the month.

Claire has visited two so far – one she wasn’t too keen on for various reasons, and another she almost immediately fell in love with. She has one more visit later this week, and then we’ll pick one. Here is a picture of him at the second place, probably doing something grown up and independent and requires no one, especially parents, to help him with (note: he was sticking down paper)

growingup1

Its amazing and scary at the same time, your kid growing up. These past few months have been both eye opening and eye watering at the same time, just seeing the way he’s starting to grow and develop his own personality. Ned constantly surprises and terrifies me in equal measure with the things he picks up – currently most developments go along the lines of:

‘WOW! look at this amazing thing he’s just done!’
‘But wait, is he supposed to be doing that already?’
‘No? oh brilliant, he’s advanced!’
‘But wait, is he too advanced?’
‘Will he be ok at school for being advanced/not advanced enough?’

And so on. It’s just a never ending cycle of worry that I try desperately to break from – Claire is far more level headed on these things (at least outwardly) and I find myself leaning on her a lot for reassurance, of which she provides in spades, wonderful woman that she is.

But one this IS for sure – my boy is growing up, and he’s not stopping anytime soon. The best bet seems to be to hold on for dear life and see where it’s going to take us, and try not to break down and openly weep about our baby becoming a boy too much.

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Food Glorious Food

The other day, my son ate (in the following order):

Two slices of toast
An apple
Half a mango
A cheese sandwich
Some rasins
A yoghurt
An apple
A biscuit
A banana
Pasta bolognese
half a mango
A yoghurt
an apple

Needless to say, his appetite is quite a large one.

It’s been this way for a few months, actually, I guess it’s to do with him growing – that, and the addition of no longer breastfeeding means he is literally emptying the fridge at a frightening pace.

Most of the above food wasn’t in his daily meal plan – I didn’t set out to give him three apples. Ned likes to, all of a sudden, take me by the hand and lead me to the dinner table, where he’ll indicate he wants to go in his dinner seat. He will then sit patiently, waiting for something to push into his face hole. Generally I try to avoid giving him too much because part of me assumes it’s habit, or something to do that he likes, but when I sit him there and watch him completely destroy everything and anything put in front of him, I have to assume that, to some extent, he’s hungry.

He doesn’t really eat vegetables – sweetcorn is the only one he’ll go for, which is why it’s so great he eats so much fruit. We do hide mashed food in his dinners quite a bit – hence why he has bolognese and other pasta dishes a lot – yes, it feels good to constantly deceive a two year old when you see him shovelling a pasta dish loaded with blended carrots – he gets his five a day and doesn’t even realise! the mug.

But sweet lord, does he eat. As of last week, he’s started to use cutlery. A spoon, to be more precise. We’re starting off easy and getting him to eat yoghurt with it, which he’s brilliantly taken to. We’ve had no instances yet of him dunking a bowl on his head yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

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Our Christmas 2

xmas1

Happy New One, Merry Doo Dah etc.

What an interesting few weeks we’ve had as a family. Here’s the breakdown:

A few weeks ago, Ned and Claire came to the mutual decision to stop breastfeeding – Claire was no longer getting the beautiful touching mother/son moments due to her son rolling around  during the process, kicking and headbutting as a result, and Ned wasn’t really getting the  relaxation and warming embrace of sleep from it. Claire stopped feeding, and after one night  of half hearted pawing at her, he now sleeps without it fine. Not only that, but he’s  sleeping BETTER. Let me put this into perspective – if you’ve been reading my blog for a time, you’ll know that Ned hates sleeping – he regularly gets up at 2 – 3 hour intervals, needing to be fed back to sleep each time.

First night off boob? TEN HOURS UNBROKEN with ONE wake up that lasted TWO MINUTES. It’s pretty much been this way since. There’s been no issues, even with the cold (more on that later) and it’s been an absolute joy to deal with. I’m so proud of Claire for feeding him for two years, I honestly think it’s done Ned a world of good, and for the end of it to happen with very little problems is fantastic. Ned has had no ill effects or issues since stopping, and he’s not really asked for it since. It’s been amazing. The offset of this has been our son with the already monstrous appetite has now increased his food intake – the kid seems to exist only to chew and digest, and we have had to bear the brunt of his endless consuming (and the end result in the form of wind that has made us gag, and nappies that have cleared rooms)

Now Christmas. Ned, being Ned, and given our current track record with Christmas, decided to get himself a cold on the night before Christmas eve, which manifested itself into a full blown high temperatured, runny nosed, coughing and spluttering misery fest by Christmas eve night. We did the usual of popping over my parents in the morning, where he was, as usual, spoilt rotten, because that’s what Grandparents do.

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He was trying to push through and keep upbeat about the whole ordeal, but you can tell he wasn’t best pleased with his situation, as evidenced here during the wonderful dinner served by Claires parents:

xmas2

Sadly we had to leave For home early evening due to our poor little trooper having just about enough of being unwell (Calpol can only do so much I guess). Ned slept better than we thought, especially from someone who no longer had the power of the boobs to settle him down.

Boxing day was wonderful as well, we were co-hosting a family dinner at our house with Claires brother and wife, but the morning we were free for a festive winter walk. We played on the swings until we decided Ned should also have a go, which he also enjoyed. We walked home, confident that our 20 minutes of exercise had eliminated the months worth of eating almost exclusively cheeseboards. Ned was still unimpressed and full of cold, and took the opportunity to be carried around like a king, all the while holding a stick in one hand, and apparently keeping his nose in place with the other.

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I love Christmas – always have. I still wake my brother up (who is ten years younger than me) with a text or phone call on Christmas day, I still get excited when we drag the forgotten decorations down from the loft and try desperately to make the house look ‘Christmassey, but still a bit classy’. Ned had an inkling something was going on this year, but couldn’t quite place his finger on it, which makes me even more excited for next year.

Hope you had a great season guys, lets see what 2014 brings shall we?

My wonderful wife, who takes all the beautiful pictures for my blog, has an instagram account. If you have the time, pop over and say hi to her. She’s very friendly and also occasionally polite: http://instagram.com/nedintheclouds

 

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