Thursday, July 31, 2008
Regrets.. I have a few
we all do don't we, missed opportunities, things not working out quiet like we planned, then there are the recurring regrets like this one.

18-55mm lens raw format 800 iso WB tungsten

I regret making this mistake again and again and again, because you know there is nothing worse than waking up to a sink of dirty water with last nights baking dish soaking in it, with the cold fat floating on the surface leaving a ring around the sink when you let the plug out. This is after pulling up your sleeve, closing your eyes and plunging your hand in after the plug.

Will I ever learn..

and why the shot details, well for my own benefit really, I want to start being more aware of these things. Seeing what is good or bad and where and I can improve and what I can improve on. I feel my photography has slipped of late, I have become lazy and I'm relying on photoshop too much where I should be supplying better raw material before I think about tweaking photos.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008
from the mouths of babes or it's your party and you can laugh if you want to
So it is my mum's birthday today HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!! It is also the day Riley spends with mum and dad. On Friday Michael came home with a bag, hoping it was for them Alec and Riley asked what was in the bag, so we told them all about Mutti's birthday and what we had got her.

We all love the stuff from L'Occitane, mum like their verbena range the best so we got her some soap, a candle and some towelettes. At hearing this Alec and Riley are laughing hysterically because we got Mutti bottom wipes for her birthday. We strenuously denied this and explained (while trying not to laugh too) that no, they were not bottom wipes at all but to make Mutti's face feel nice and fresh and tingly, not her bottom. Which was greated with.. you got bottom wipes for Mutti's birthday.. hysterical laughter ensued.

Fast forward to Mutti unwrapping her present today...

before mum could get everything out of the box Riley declares that we had bought Mutti bottom wipes for her birthday.. oh and that Alec picks his nose and eats it but that I (Riley) just pick mine and put the boogers in my hair.

This from my quiet serious child, he really is very funny. yesterday I thought my head would fall off from all his questions but it is a bit quiet here today without him.

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Monday, July 28, 2008
you know the butter has a lid now don't you..
then I don't know why you don't just put it back on!!

no ofcourse you don't! I know you are just tormenting me by leaving it off, or maybe you truly are unable to put the lid back on like you are unable to put the promite back in the cupboard!! I mean to say I can't put crumbs and bits of vegimite in the butter but it is ok to leave it in an open container on the bench for a week, hey atleast you can see that big scrapping of butter and vegimite, who knows what you can see, so I am thinking a lid would be nice. But that is husbands for you I suppose.

I did a fair bit of cooking over the weekend, mainly of food only I like which is a little annoying, I mean it is chicken and vegetable soup, everyone likes chicken and vegetable soup. I must admit the pumpkin soup was popular as were the zuchinni cakes I cooked, Riley even ate them, he pronounced them yummy, I mean the had cheese in them and were fried ofcourse they were yummy, I used fresh garlic in mine, they were very good. We also made homemade pizza Saturday night, Riley loves them and they are fun to make and then we have a second dinner because I cover mine with smoked oysters and they make Michael gag so we make seperate ones. Sunday after soccer we had a huge food breakthrough with Alec, Michael made french toast, Alec ate 2 slices!! that means he ate 2 eggs!! We were pretty thrilled it is something he has never seen before, Riley on the other hand pronounced it sticky and had a bit of toast.. wiff budder

So apart from cooking and washing (on wet rainy days) we had a pretty quiet weekend. And when Michael couldn't round up a kitchen boy/ house elf/ anyone but me to clean up he cleaned up after me in the kitchen.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008
So what do you think??
I have been wanting to go back to a two column blog for a while now, I was beginning to feel as though the centre column was a bit cramped. I searched everywhere and the choices for fully editable html templates are few and far between. Most are xml which fits in with the blogger widgets, while the widgets are fun the thought of adding every one of the 50 or so links in one at a time left me cold.

So on my wanderings I found this site where you can make your own template, it is nice and neat, you don't need to know html but if you do and you want to change it (like I did) it is very easy to work out and css driven.
Every section has a box where you can edit all your variables and they make it really easy to add your own header image if you want.. so check it out it is called PsycHo and it is well worth looking into.

oh yes.. what do you think? the banner is growing on me but I'm still not sure.


Thursday, July 24, 2008
now we are getting somewhere...
well when I left you yesterday.. I was sorting albums out. Today I have finished filing layouts and I have labelled all the albums and it looks great!

The secret is to measuring! I measured the size on the outside and then the inside, so when I made my labels in photoshop I could make sized boxes for them, then when all the text was done I turned off the inside box layers.. perfect!

I saved the file and typed what the font was called, I am useless at remembering font names so I try and do this as much as possible.

Today I am going to start on my Buzz and Bloom project, the theme this month is 5!! because Buzz and Bloom are turning 5, check out the celebration plans HERE
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Photo freedom
I started reading Stacy Julian's book last night, I'm up to page 62 and already I feel inadequate and overwhelmed even before I pull out a single photo.

Now this is a job I HAVE to do, gone are the magnetic albums, but have I scanned the photos?? no I haven't. I used to have a fantastic agfa snapscan scanner that recognised each photo so you could fill the plate and it would batch scan, unfortunately it met a sticky end and I have mourned it ever since, so the thought of having to scan whole pages in then cut them up and name them leaves me cold, let alone just the sorting. I think you need to be armed with all the appropriate storage devices before you even start. Then there are the upwards of 30 thousand digital photos I have taken in the last 6 years, and do I delete any? do I keep all those blurry head cut off photos, yes I do, I am a digital photo pack rat!

Just the concept of finding a place in my home where I could have piles of photos out for weeks on end defeats me even before I get started.

My albums, they now number 17, 14 are full there are 650 layouts in them!

And you know I am not huge on chronological order when I scrap but I do like to store them in albums that way, I have the album thing sorted but I do honestly need to sort the rest of the photos, so even if I never scrap them I will be able to look at them and know roughly where they are apart from.. in the plastic tub in the linen cupboard or that cardboard box in the spare room. After my grandfather died I was given a big box of photos with hardly any names and no dates, they still sit in the box.

I have layouts to file today, if I can get that done I will be happy, next I want to re-label the albums so they have a date range, I think I saw Becky Higgins had done hers like that and thought it looked a whole lot more classy than my Alec one, Alec two, Alec three

UPDATE: well I have started sorting my albums, I've realised they a a little full so I am moving some along the the next album, stopping here and there to read a story, I am the worlds biggest sap though, I was just ready the journaling to this layout -

it was in For Keeps magazine a million years ago in the heartfelt journaling section, it is heartfelt alright, here I am reading it and I burst into tears.. write those stories girls, they are so important for us and for those that come after us.. ok, back to album sorting.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
my friend Anne the scientist
had a look in the journals and 90% of things about oxytocin and autism are speculative and

this is blue-sky research. It may be useful and clinically significant and safe, but we're not going to know this for years

So a bit disappointing, things sound promising but it is better knowing the facts. We will keep on with early intervention therapies that have been amazingly successful for Alec.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I never know
when I read THESE kinds of articles whether to be excited, sceptical or hopeful. It talks about an oxytocin deficiency in people with autism, this is a bit from the article by Time.

But more recently, scientists have begun to determine how oxytocin functions in the human brain — or, more specifically, how it malfunctions. Studies have shown that people with autism tend to have low levels of oxytocin, as well as hyperactivity in the amygdala, where most oxytocin receptors are located. The amygdala is also where memories are formed, and where our brains process and assign emotional meaning to sensory information — that is, where we turn perception (seeing someone smile) into "neuroception" (understanding the feeling of happiness that the smile reflects), according to Stephen Porges, a psychologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago. So, misfirings in the amygdala, in tandem with low oxytocin, may help explain why people with autism have trouble distinguishing between happy expressions and angry ones, making social interaction difficult and unpleasant.
I know what it is like not to know what to do in social situations but I have no idea what it would be like not to be able to read peoples facial expressions and body language. It is one thing to learn this but a whole other thing to feel it.

Along with the Early Intervention therapies, continuing occupational therapy and possibly things like this it will make things better for Alec, there is argument for all types of things, cures, no cures and the list goes on and I don't want to get into all that except to say what I believe, which is this is a condition where in cases of classic or high functioning autism early intervention is what must be first and foremost in peoples minds, genes can't be repaired deficiencies dealt with as they arise, it is always a wait and see approach, for now for us OT and speech and one on one therapies are what are working for Alec.


Sunday, July 20, 2008
kids break things
and mums overreact, or maybe they just react then feel like slimy bottom feeding monsters.

I didn't yell, I raised my voice slightly and let my disappointment be known and took away wii privileges for 2 days, but now 2 hours later I feel like a world class louse.

How do I make them understand consequences? are they actually too young or am I doing it wrong. I know they don't understand monetary value but I hope they understand what the value of things are to them. So for instance if I drop the nunchuk for the wii and then i can't control my character do I realise it is because I dropped it after I had been told I needed to take special care of the nunchuk and not drop it. Am I saying these things and they don't actually understand.

I get cross, then I feel guilty for being cross and making them feel bad then I get confused and wonder if it is all my fault to begin with.

So now I have my 6 year old son telling his dad that he will save up money to buy the new wii and then it will be ok, hearing him on the phone made me feel awful, because I hate to make him feel awful. He logs everything, in a month he will be able to replay our encounter word for word and I will die all over again. That said can you teach responsibility? or does it develop along with a sense of the value of things, and not so much the monetry value but the value one thing has to another person. As you can see from this rambling I am confused and feeling guilty and disappointed in myself, I could have handled it differently, I'm just not sure how but now we are both upset.
Friday, July 18, 2008
today..we are having wild weather washing machine outlet hose popped out... during a load of washing.. need I say more

today..I have 4 loads of washing to do on what is the wildest and wettest day this year

today..I was up at 6:30am doing my Buzz and Bloom post, because my assignment was late, it has been difficult getting into the studio, but it is up now, I am loving bright colours right now and the babydoll alphabet is cute for boys too.
today..I refuse to break up squabbles between a 4 1/2 year old and a 6 year old over lego star wars wii games because all I am used for are the hard bits and then I am dismissed, until the small one wants to do one thing and the big ones wants to do another and neither of them will play properly! right now I can hear.. not that way Riley, follow me, Riley you are shooting me, Riley why wont you stay with me.. I'm sure they will work it out.

today.. I have been reading the Pioneer Woman blog and the only thing stopping me from making these is I have no butter!! otherwise I would be sifting and beating and rolling my way to butter drenched goodness.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Tuesday at our house and what have you won?
Tuesdays always starts early. That is the day Riley usually goes with Michael on the train and my dad meets them a the station and takes Riley home. This week Alec went with Michael as he only gets to go during the holidays so I have Riley here at home.. we went and picked up a wii game I ordered, so lucky it was there they had put it on the shelf, so Riley is happily playing star wars lego right now.

And today I look as though I am first up for a blogger post on twopeas so I though today I would ask.. what have you won?

Last year Michael entered one of those email competitions sent by the Sunday paper here and we won a car!!!!! The actual car (that my MIL is sitting in below) was what we actually won, a Mitsubishi Colt cabriolet, and then under that is the practical (slightly boring) Mitsubishi Lancer wagon we swapped it for, but it is amazing to have a brand new car, it had only done 14km when we drove it out of the show room.

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Monday, July 14, 2008
365 days
So I realised if I wanted to give my 365 day photo book as Christmas presents I would have to adjust the start date. I had started on January 1st, I have now adjusted that to November 1st 2007. I figure I need to allow 4 weeks atleast for printing so I need to have it ready to send to blurb by the middle of November.

So I went back and here are a few from late November/December. I treated myself to some of the Ali Edwards Digi scrapbooking sets from and have had great fun with them. It just reinforces my wish that when I grow up I want to look Like Angelina Jolie and am as creative as Ali, Donna and Cathy.


Friday, July 11, 2008
The holidays, autism research and the rain
I have been in hiding this week, I've crawled into my bunker and raised the white flag, I well and truly surrender. My children are rather feral at the moment. It could have been because I took away all access to the computer, wii and dvd's until they tidied the pit of doom that was their playroom. We.. note the WE, not them WE finished it, I even took photos and labelled all the toy draws. Now all you can hear from our house is my shrewish yells.. boyyyyyyyyyyys come and tidy the playroom.. who did this, why is that in the wrong box. You should see how quickly they turn on each other.. he did it, it wasn't me, but he did such and such it wasn't me. So after 4 days the playroom is tidy but we are all worn out and the rain doesn't help, except for Monday when we went to the park for a couple of hours we have been house bound. Today we are off to see kung fu panda, they think that is pretty awesome and I wish I could take a book with me.

Another week of holidays.. I will get through, I will get through

Then this morning I read an article in Time called New Clues to Autism's Cause. This is what we have always thought, I was a bit uncomfortable about the wording, because they are talking about children, and my child, it all sounds a bit clinical but I understand that they aren't emotionally involved.
Symptoms of autism typically emerge during the first five years of life — a period when a child normally picks up language, social skills and many other new abilities. Scientists call this kind of growth "experience-dependent learning," and researchers know that it is associated with enormous changes in brain circuitry. At least 300 genes switch on and off to regulate experience-dependent learning. Defects in any number of them could conceivably result in some symptoms of autism. There may be hundreds of varieties of autism. From what researchers have seen so far, says Morrow, "It looks like almost every child with autism is different from the next — a different gene is mutated in almost every child."

This is so true, throughout our trip through early intervention I never saw another child just like Alec, they were all such individuals. It makes you appreciate the work the EI therapists do in compiling programs that meet each child needs.

This suggests that certain therapies or drugs could help normalize the activity of these genes, according to Dr. Eric Morrow of Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the lead authors of the paper. In fact, Morrow suspects that early intervention programs for children with autism involving intensive instruction in speech and social behavior may work by altering the expression of affected genes.

We found EI (early intervention) was amazing, you could virtually see those pathways being built as Alec learnt communication and comprehension. It doesn't yet explain the sensory and Proprioceptive deficiencies but this is a start. Alec isn't entirely aware of where his body is in relation to things around him, we have some exercises and aides for him to help, especially at school, the sensory issues we work on, he is affected by lights, noise and people, many things overwhelm him but he is learning the signs and lets us know what he needs and at school he is getting better about voicing his needs. We know Alec lacks empathy this is a slow process teaching him about feelings especially when he doesn't understand many of his own.

Everyday we learn something new, our lives are slightly micro managed, but they have to be, Alec needs a controlled routine, he needs to know what is going to happen next. Now though instead of having that routine set in concrete we are at a firm jelly stage, things crop up, we can take a detour on the way how or just drop in to see someone. Before he would wake up check his schedule and that was it, nothing could be changed. He knew the roads we drove, the way to places, those days seem far in the past but they aren't, we just made progress but Alec will always be autistic.

I've heard some truly frightening things online from parents of autistic children this week, they want a cure but as this is genetic then the only cure is a eugenic one, prenatal screening and termination and then one parent actually suggested euthanasia. This isn't some stranger this is a childs parent. My children are my life the fact that one is different from the other doesn't mean he is any less treasured or loved.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
R2D2, scitech and the weekend
Well i finished my r2d2 album, I am happy with it and I loved using the bind it all, this was the first time i was truly happy with the coils, they finished up round. I'm not sure if this is because I used the uncoated silver coils opposed to the painted ones on other projects or that I just got it right.
Saturday morning saw us off early to mum and dad's house, they have just moved in. We arrived with lots of scones and the boys ran wild exploring and choosing which bed was whose in their bedroom. Alec doesn't want to do a sleep over but was happy enough to pick a bed so we will see what happens.

A couple of weeks ago Michael won some tickets to Scitech on the radio and we picked them up yesterday and took the boys. To be honest in the first five minutes I was ready to go home, the next ten minutes I wandered behind the children dejectedly wishing to be anywhere else but there, after the first half hour I realised I would survive and the kids had settled down and were really enjoying themselves.

I think their favourite was the construction site, most of that pink wall comes down and they collect the bricks and build the wall. Once Alec put the last brick in he stood guard and didn't want it touched. I suggested perhaps he pull it down so he would then be able to build it all over again. Just the sight of him holding back a pack of kids from the wall was a fair indication some intervention was needed. So down the wall came and off they went again.

Today Michael took Alec to soccer as Riley has a bad cough and it was freezing out, Alec now has a major case of the sniffles so it is pancakes and movies for us today.

Now on twopeas today I asked about journaling, I am trying to do more and get more down, below is a conversation I had with Alec but I have no photo. I do have a photo from close to the date that I was going to have in the background, still not sure, this is it with no photo.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008
getting around to it or I will do that...soon
Back in 2005 (omg it is just scary trying to remember 2005) I made an album about Alec's love of D2D2 (R2D2 in then 2 year olds speak) and I gave it to his grandma.. I don't regret this, it has a lovely story about Alec in it and I thought it would be something nice for her to have. I then had every intention to throw together another one for myself.. doh!!

Well today I was inspired by my sandwich (which was the same shape as the album) and the fact that Star Wars was playing in the background. So today I am sifting through my computer for the story and the album templates, this time I am going to do it with the bind it all.. any excuse hey. So this is what it looked like in 2005..
And this is the story Michael wrote..

Our oldest boy, Alec is two years and 9 months old. He loves Star Wars, that's the first Star Wars - episode 4 of the story, but the first of the films, with Alec Guinness, Mark Hamill and a host of great British actors in the roles of the "naughty men" as Alec describes them. He's seen the other films, and is not overly fond of episode 1 pr 2, but episode 4 will get watched at least once a day and often many more times. Its odd in a way that children of his generation may actually see the films in order of their episode number and not in the order in which they were filmed like our generation has. Alec though seems to have adopted what I think of as the "proper" order for the films.

The most amazing thing for me is the way in which he perceives the story, and who is the hero - according to his point of view. It's not Luke Skywalker, the impulsively brave but somewhat bewildered former yokel son of the Dark Lord of the Sith, its not the cynical rogue, Han Solo or the avuncular noble Obi-Wan. Nope, Alec's hero is a garbage can on roller skates, the indomitable, incomprehensible, ever-present droid, R2-D2.

I was wondering one night just why Alec would choose R2-D2 as his favourite character - particularly since most of my peers preferred Han or Chewi or even Darth Vader. Then it hit me, Alec sees himself as R2-D2. Alec's not yet old enough to distinguish between the appearance of life and real life - for him a machine that looks as if it has independence of movement is as alive as our cat.

R2-D2 (D2D2 in Alec speak) is a lot shorter than the other characters in the film, speaks a language most people can't understand, wants to help but frequently gets into trouble while trying and has a lot of accidents that requires others to help him out. In short, R2-D2 is a two-year old, just like Alec. And if you start to look at the whole movie from that perspective - it all takes on a radical new meaning about how a child of two experiences the world and how many things that they see in Star Wars speak to them of their own life - particularly if the setting is something they have never experienced before, because THAT IS THEIR WORLD. It is all new, all the time and it must be a lot of fun and perhaps a little scary, just like "aar Wars".

Tuesday December 7th 2004