Give Away

The oh so very delightfully charming “Lis Garrett” from “Root and Sprout” is hosting a giveaway today.

Can that possibly be one word?

Root & Sprout
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Similarly charmingly and delightfully, “Debbie” from “Three Weddings” is also hosting a give …….away……sorry I just can’t put those two words together again.

Debbie’s

http://weddingsx3.blogspot.com
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As a result, these two thoroughly reprobate bloggers have double dared me to do likewise. Up until now, I have never given anything away if I could possibly help it, and I’m quite certain that there will be a whole host of pitfalls that I’m about to plop into.

Since I am allergic to visiting the post office I need to find something light that I can just pop in an envelope. I’m tempted to choose something ‘gently used’ but just about everything around here is already pummeled to a pulp.

Ideally it should be something that nobody wants which means that no-one will enter which means I won’t have to worry about unforeseen abysses for the unwary.

It also ought to be something that might be a good match for a juniorish sort of a person. Since I am a betting woman by nature, I think it best to offer one of these,

then there is a 50-50 chance that it might be a good fit. I can’t send you mine because it’s a bit manky and mangled. I can’t send you the one that I already gave away, so I need to get busy with the sewing machine………right now…….. and find my googley eyes.

Maybe I need to construct a “user manual”?

So don’t forget to nip along and say ‘hi de ho’ to “Lis Garrett” and “Debbie”

Mine will be an open offer until the last day of January and then we’ll attempt a random choice.

That should prove to be a challenge in itself!

So please join in and pass the word along.

Cheers dears

p.s. Dang I knew I’d get it wrong. Here’s a bit I should have included. Save me from steep learning curves!

This contest is being held to ring in the New Year AND to bring awareness to Root & Sprout. The January edition of Root & Sprout is now live with new articles, people to meet and giveaways.

3 Ways to Enter: (Choose any or all)

  1. Visit Root & Sprout‘s January 2009 issue and leave a comment here about your favorite article or giveaway (don’t forget to enter to win and Root & Sprout for the giveaway!)
  2. Host your own Giveaway linking to Root & Sprout and ask your readers to comment about their favorite article or giveaway. Don’t forget to leave link on Mr. Linky and a comment about your giveaway here.
  3. Grab the Root & Sprout button ABOVE! for your blog and write a post about this giveaway. Don’t forget to leave a comment here.

Be sure to include your name and email address in your comment(s).

Their contest closes on Friday, January 9, 2009. The winner will be chosen by Random.org on Saturday, January 10, 2009 and announced on Monday, January 12, 2009.

I’m sticking to the end of January for mine.

Should I use Random.org too?

E Gad this was a mistake.

In a final note, please include “Barbara” from “The Extras” on her unique “give aways,” in her post entitled “Bridges.”

And finally final, spend a mo dawdling with “Trish” at “Another Piece of the Puzzle” who also has a spiffing give away over at her “site” someone who is quite possibly the busiest and most productive blogger around as you can guess from her thoroughly impressive “summary” post here over at “5 Minutes for Special Needs Mums.”


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Special exposure wordless wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

I’m sure you can imagine my joy when I received and opened this gift?

You’re right! I was indeed wordless, or what we foreigners call ‘gobsmacked.’

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” and test your brain power.


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Tissue Mood control box – try tackling this Tuesday

As with most tips and tricks around here, this has been scientifically, nay, exhaustingly tested for your benefit. I can assure you that it is 100% effective for one typical and one atypical child. Conversely, it is completely ineffective for another typical and atypical child. Thusly, an overall 50% success rate is worth a bash in my book.

Follow the basic principles in “tissue box.” Choose the fabric with care to cause minimum offense, remain gender neutral and avoid tickly, scratchy, itchy textures. Fleeces usually fit the bill, are cheap and easy to work with since they don’t fray.

White is usually a poor choice when filthy snotty children are involved but the sheep-like woolly texture was a definite favourite.

Select a decorative trim that could resemble hair and stitch to the inside top seam so that when it falls open, the fringe appears on the outside.

Tie the ‘neck’ with chord or some easily un-doable yarn.

Sew googley eyes in place with a pompom for the nose.

Knit four tubes in stocking stitch and insert pipe-cleaners inside. Take care to fold over the top sharp edges so that it doesn’t poke through the knitting and hurt small fingers. Stitch one pompom to one end of each of the four tubes. Stitch the other end to the tissue box cover to form legs and arms, which should now be ‘poseable.’

Take a small piece of recycled stiff plastic and cut into a moon shape for the mouth. Glue fractionally larger pieces of felt to each side of the plastic form, black on one side and a contrasting colour on the other. Leave to dry.

Once fully dry roughen up a little patch in the centre of each side. Attach hook Velcro to the tissue box cover in the ‘mouth’ position. Make sure that there is enough space so that the ‘mouth’ can fit upside down and right way up to form a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ face. Try to avoid putting Velcro on the mouth itself as this may mean it is untouchable for some children.

Broadly speaking this is only effective for the sniffly kind of hurt feelings or ruffled feathers. It is certainly ineffective where genuine pain and the Emergency Room is required.

Usage guidance:-

Await an attack of the sniffles. This usually doesn’t take very long. Ensure that the tissue box is in the ‘sad’ position, mouth and limbs turned downward. Take box to child. Cuddle sniffly child with box close to hand and within sight line of the child.

Listen carefully to the complainant’s woes. Offer solicitation, comfort and solace as needed. When sniffling is on the decline, suggest use of a tissue to mop up streaky cheeks and slimed nostrils. Encourage child to pull a tissue from the box. Encourage child to spread mucus over face with tissue. On completion remove offensive, germ filled tissue before it hits the floor.

Encourage child to verbally acknowledge that the storm has passed and that they have survived in tact. Positively reinforce recognition of wellness by encouraging the child to physically turn the mouth into a smile and the limbs into a horray! The kinesthetic or physical interaction, by moving the pieces, confirms success. This helps the child associate self care and self calming, motivates and promotes self awareness. This is why we bother to put a line through a completed ‘to do’ item. Even though strictly speaking it is unnecessary, the task is finished, but somehow, great satisfaction derives from this teeny tiny step.

Of course if your child has tactile defensive issues such that they find the texture of paper or tissues abhorrent, then forget it.

Try This Tuesday

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Mario and Luigi hats – the best ever

How to make the best Mario and Luigi hats, a do it yourself step by step guide.

Mario, the character from Mario Bros Nintendo DS and his brother Luigi, have their two greatest “fans” here in jolly old San Jose, as the “Italian” genes are in the “blood.” Here is the answer for fans worldwide.

Mario

Luigi

This is basically a knitted oversized Tam O’Shanter. You do not need to be a good knitter as when the hat is felted [boiled alive to shrink] small mistakes are unnoticeable.

Measure the circumference of the child’s head just above the eyebrows and ears or wherever you want the hat to ‘sit.’ Find a saucepan or bowl* with the same circumference for later to act as a ‘form’ to support the drying hat.

Use pure wool as man made materials do not shrink. [ I have an unshrinkable prototype hat big enough for an average sized East Indian elephant if anyone’s interested?] Take care to match the colour well, although the colour may not show true on the photographs.

Cast on 90 stitches on large size 10 USA circular needles. Knit 5 continuous rounds [take care at the point where you join the circle to avoid kinks and twists]
Row 6, purl [this forms a seam that will fold to make the headband]

Row 7 , knit
Knit 4 more rounds.


Take a second smaller circular needle. Pick up the original 90 cast on stitches from the lower [cast on] edge
Align both needles and knit one stitch from the front needle and one stitch from the back needle together, continue to the end of the round. This forms the headband.
Continue on the larger needle.
Increase row = Knit one, knit one and make one knitwise into the second stitch. Continue for the next round = 135 stitches. Continue to knit 26 rounds on these 135 stitches.

Begin shaping brim / crown.

Knit 9, knit two together, repeat to end.
Knit three rounds without decreasing
Knit 8, knit two together, repeat to end.
Knit three rounds.
Knit 7, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
Knit 6, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
[if it’s getting to tight for you to work on a circular needle transfer to four size 10 pins]
Knit 5, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
Knit 4, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
Knit 3, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
Knit 2, knit two together, repeat to end
Knit one round
Break yarn with a long tail
Find a crochet hook and slip through remaining stitches, pull tight.
With a darning needle thread the tail through to the inside.
Weave through the material loosely

Pick up 35 stitches from the folded / pleated edge. Use the circular needle but you will be knitting back and forth not round and round. Knit the next seven rows [garter stitch]
8th row decrease one at each end.
Knit 5 rows.
13th row decrease one stitch at each end
knit 1 row
*15th row cast off five stitches knit to end, turn.
16th row cast of five stitches knit to end , turn.*
* repeat twice
Cast off remaining stitches and sew in the tail of yarn.

Now the fun begins = felting.

Set your washing machine to the hottest setting with a little soap and the greatest agitation. Plunge the hat into the hot water and poke it a bit. Yank it out at one minute intervals to check shrinkage / felting. It’s hit and miss but you can do it! When it looks felted remove from the machine and plunge into cold water bowl in the sink. Rinse out any remaining soap. Squeeze out excess water.

Attack your hat with vigour to stretch and pull it into the correct shape and size. Stuff with a old towel to maintain shape and ram it on your bowl.* Place the bowl with the hat on a folded bath towel in a warm spot to dry over the next 24 hours.

Whilst it dries make the badge. This is where your magic marker comes in. As white wool does not shrink and felt reliably, you will need to buy a small square of regular felt from your local retailer. Cut out a circle of stiff plastic from your re-cycling supplies with a disc of white felt to match. Take a fine sharpie pen, red or green and carefully copy the logo onto the white felt disc. Bear in mind that if this step is not accurate you might as well throw the hat away and give up completely. Glue the felt to the plastic disc. When dry attach a small snib of Velcro to the back, the hook part so that it will snag on the hat. Place the disc in the centre and voila! Custom fit and made to measure.

You may also adapt the design for non-Mario fans.

Just in case you are wondering who in their right mind would go to such trouble, I can tell you with complete confidence that it was worth every stitch, as well as the three prior failures.

My one worry was that they would be itchy. My daughter, the one with half a yard of protective hair curtain, assured me that it is indeed itchy. I dithered over linings but, and oh what a but it is, my tactile defensive wunder kind has had that thing rammed on his head for 24 hours straight.

Now I shall patent my pattern to Patons. Overnight we shall become millionaires of fortune and all will be well, as a significant percentage of the world’s population sport Mario and Luigi hats, men and women marked for life with the irrepressible


insignia of ‘special,’ as they itch their way through life.

There again, I already feel like a millionaire with none of the bothersome business of reality.

Photobucket

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happyred BSM Button

Here are some additional useful links:-

How to sew one from “felt”

Variations on a “Theme.”

Other inventive “families.”

Another sewn version with “panels.”

Buy one from “Etsy” with “Mario Mushrooms.”

A more traditional “baseball cap” version.

Some stitchery “wizardry.”

A “stunning” “paper” version.

“Yoshi” food for those who prefer to cook rather than sew or knit.

Cheers dears


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Failing to face Fall

I watch his laborious progress from a distance, the kitchen, as he reassembles his nest at the bottom of the stairs at 5:25 a.m. on a Sunday. He reinserts his little body back into the neat fold, extends his arms and drags himself, the duvet and half a dozen furry friends towards the family room. His spindle arms tire every three or four pulls across the smooth hardwood floors, so he pauses. I do not offer assistance nor comment. I wait. The weather has turned chilly after dark but they both refuse nightwear. This is his version of self help, self initiated and without a murmour of protest.

Their bedroom is the furthest distance away. A narrow corridor of hardwood floors, a U bend and a staircase. I wait until the whole caboodle reaches the edge of the carpet, where the resistance stops his progress. He is forced to slip out of the nest and haul it onto the sofa. Our eyes meet. He leap toes across to me for a silent backwards hug as his chicken ribs shiver. It’s about all one can reasonably expect following such a marathon of effort. I’m glad to be on the radar at all. He dashes back to safety and burrows under the duvet. I sit down next to him for a moment of continued silence and heavy breathing after all his exertions.
“Do you know what?”
“Wot?”
“I think perhaps pyjamas might be an easier way to start the day?” He nestles in closer without a word.

We’ll see.


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Some kind of hero

Slurping Life
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Generally speaking, I use ‘electronics time’ to be productive. However, the new Wii game, guitar hero, proves to be quite a challenge. There’s the issue of finger isolation, co-ordination and any number of different skills that prove insurmountable but tantalizingly tempting for the junior members of the household. Personally, I’d rather watch paint dry, but it takes all sorts I suppose.

Although the persevere to master these new skills, the ratio of grief to joy is not favourable. I need ear plugs for the wailing let alone the actual music itself. I expect a plastic guitar to be hurled with every passing missed note. As a result my own productivity reaches at all time low as they cannot be left unsupervised unless I wish to risk yet another trip to the ER. I have no choice but to be pro-active in the learning department. There will be no 30 minute cooking session, more of an un-jamming lesson.

Negative talk in the self hatred category, swirls around the room. For myself, I merely loathe the new toy which has provoked so much angst. Two thirds off the original retail price, still means ‘no sale’ in my ledger. The general opinion is that bed-time and or sleep, is cancelled until further notice, or rather, until someone manages to conquer the hero. This is the worst possible outcome, regardless of perspective.

Fury caused by frustration, quickly provokes incoherence. We are now tuneless, toneless and teetering on the edge. I snatch it away rudely before mayhem ensues, “my turn I think!” I yell just loud enough to make myself heard. Teary eyes blink in bewilderment. Swathes of snot adorn biceps as they visibly brighten. My daughter unwraps her head from her arms. For the moment I lack both purpose and practice. My working theory is that there is nothing like watching your mother fail miserably, to make everything seem a whole lot better.

Much to my surprise, everyone is remarkably helpful. Without words they put my hands in the right position, push button, select different programmes and generally get me organized in my role as novice. Whilst they are agreed that I am useless, there is some dissent as to whether I am a ‘beginner’ or ‘easy?’ The consensus of opinion is that I am now ready for my debut. Fortunately I can count and my fingers work. They watch in awe and clap and make complimentary and appropriate statements of praise. On completion they fiddle around with baffling statistics to declare that I am 98% something or other.

“Right! So now we shall let the guitar rest over night whilst we all go to bed,” I announce, turning to place the instrument out of reach on the top of the armoire. When I turn back, I see my sons on the floor at my feet before me, whispering something incomprehensible. As they kneel, their bodies rise and fall, eyes closed, palms clasped together. My daughter giggles on the couch, a silent observer. “What are they doing? What are they saying?” I demand, with hands on hips, weary, so weary. She beams as she stands, ready to retire, “we worship you……..got it from a cartoon I think.”

A blatant, but nonetheless welcome lie.


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Where on the Stair? Right there!

At ten minutes to five in the morning, the festive day commences amid much noise. The noise is more of less continuous during the numerous hours that follow. At some indistinct moment amongst all the hub bub, my son shouts at no-one in particular, “I can hear something.” This strikes me as a little of an understatement under the circumstances. As no-one pays him much heed, he repeats the sentence for everyone’s benefit. Beneficial or otherwise, he grabs me by the hand in a splendid display of ‘hand leading’ and off we clop to nowhere in particular. Once we are on the landing, mid-way up the staircase, he slams on the brakes unexpectedly. Our collision is bumpy but soft, “oopsie…..sorry Mom.”
“That’s o.k. dear………why are we here?”
“Dah noise.”
“Hmm yes it is a bit quieter over here isn’t it?”
“No! Can you hear it?”
“Hear what?”
“Dah noise?”
“Which noise?” He splays a fingertip on the wall and looks at it meaningfully. Horray for joint attention. Like many a housebound parent, I keep a close inventory of every stick and stone in the house. I am familiar with every squeak, crack and whine in any cornice. I am so incredibly skilled at this task I can even tell what has broken merely by the sound, even though I may never previously heard the sound of any particular precious item smashed before.

I await enlightenment.

He nods his head towards the artexed surface, the one with the odd hole, scratch and tide mark at a three foot level. “Put your thing on it!” he commands.
“Put my what on what dear?” He models for me, as he puts his shell like against the wall, since the word for ‘ear’ has escaped him. I stand next to my son with my ear stuck to the wall as his eye balls bore into mine, “can yah hear it now?” I hear nothing. I cannot hear anything because I have my ear on a wall. “Listen!” he barks as he places a finger to his lips. I listen. Suddenly I hear it too, all sorts of unfamiliar yet familiar noises that I cannot for the life of me identify.

“What is it mom?”
“I’m sure I haven’t got the foggiest?” I only hope that there is insufficient room for a mouse, or mice or a nest of mice with many, many little relatives. He looks at me with an expression of vague disappointment until he has a much better idea, a brilliant solution to his problem, “I know! I ask Dad!” he abandons me on landing in search of someone far more useful, who he finds at the bottom of the stairs as they collide, “oopsie, sorry Dad.”
“That’s o.k. No damage done. What’s going on here then, you’re missing all the fun?”
“He wants to know what that noise is, the one in the wall?” I summarize with a hint of sarcasm and a tad of obtuse.
“Oh that’s just the vibrations.”
“?”
“You know, the noises outside are amplified, like traffic, cars and the like. It’s the same as when you put a seashell to your ear.”
“Really?”
“Of course.”
“Of course Mom…..like dad said.”
“But there isn’t any traffic. It’s Christmas day.”
“Maybe not down our street, but we’re only a few miles from the motorway.”
“?”
“He….he…..he means freeway mom.”
“Oh thank you dear.”

Go on……..…try it……..…..stick your ear to an outside wall and tell me what you hear?


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Shucks darnit!

Autism with speech delay can be a source of great frustration and annoyance, primarily for the speaker.

So many words are difficult to pronounce that an approximation becomes the norm until musculature matures with practice and time. If it wasn’t already annoying enough to deal with such daily challenges, every so often someone arbitrarily changes the rules. For instance, there is one particular word, one of many, that causes no end of angst, namely ‘evening.’ We know what evening means. We have a vague notion about when it occurs but it is virtually impossible to pronounce. We have learned to accept that for the time being ‘ eve nin,’ is more than good enough.

But once a year during the month of December, some foolish people refer to a particular reference point, namely ‘Christmas Eve.’ ‘Christmas’ we get, but ‘eve,’ although easier to say, is a shackle, one that causes no end of frustration. It falls into a category of many other words, words that are more than two syllables and familiar. If you are used to saying ‘Massachusetts’ with ease and flair, it is very difficult to stop yourself from pronouncing the last syllable, as suddenly the last syllable is surplus to requirements. You should try it some time if you doubt me, Massachu hold your ‘setts,’ Mississip and hold the ‘pi,’ the Marquis of Queensbur and hold the ‘y.’ It’s so grossly unfair. For some reason our brains and tongues refuse to stop, as the last sound is irresistible. Hence we experience a great deal of pain with the word ‘eve’ which keeps running into ‘eve nin’ or pops out as ‘eva’ when the brakes are rammed on really hard.

For current purposes we shall gloss over the competing issue, the time bomb, that declares that a whole day cannot be an ‘eve.’

As Christmas Eve approaches, I think it would be aesthetically pleasing to lie. To explain that my darling son came to me on that precious night, as the candles flicker in the warmth of twilight, to articulate the word ‘eve’ into my shell like ear, a gift like none other and we all lived happily ever after…….or some such nonsense. The truth however, is far less neat and tidy. This time next year, or maybe the year after, I’m confident that he will continue to grow and these difficulties will lessen, but for the time being we are left with the current exchange rate, daily, that goes a bit like this:-

“Ooo I am love!”
“Yes I know you love Christmas dear.”
“When is Eva…..? Shucks darnit!”
“Lets look at the chart together and you can tick off another day.”

Quite soon Eva will be gone from his repetoire. I think I almost miss her already.


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Special Exposure Wordless Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Three and counting……

herding continues…….

Shepherdess gives up and joins in, all four of my lovelies!

Seasonal Greetings from me and mine to you and yours.

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” and test your brain power.


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Absolutely crackers – two for the price of one

Try This Tuesday

Peppermint Creams
You will need:-
1 lb of icing / powdered sugar
a few drops of oil of peppermint / essence
Green food colouring
The whites [only] of 2 medium sized eggs
Tiny cookie cutters
Icing pens and or draggees to decorate

Whip the white to the soft peak stage, add peppermint drops and a slick of food colouring. Gradually mix in the icing sugar to form a stiff dough.

Dust a board with more icing sugar and roll out the dough. Tap the cutter into the sugar so that it doesn’t stick when you cut through the dough. Put the cut pieces on greaseproof or parchment paper to ‘crust.’

Decorate and box up.

Precautionary notes:-

Ensure all participating children have full tummies prior to commencement otherwise you have two choices, make twice as much to permit half to be consumed and still have enough left over to produce a worthwhile gift. Crumbs are not generally considered gift worthy.

Languid children, the type that drape themselves Daliesque over the kitchen counters are not much help when it comes to cooking, but sometimes mere observation and joint attention is a bonus.

Those who fear raw eggs may prefer to use dried Albumen available from all good delicatessens. Also handy for making manky merginues at short notice for those so inclined.

These make ideal gifts for the diabetics in your life as it enables the recipient to demonstrate and model good sharing habits. Rather than eat the gift of candy instead they may offer them back to the giver. This has the added bonus of making the giver realize just how wonderful it is to receive, in a roundabout manner which acts as a positive reinforcer whilst permitting the blood sugar levels of the recipient to remain under control.

Do not concern yourself with E numbers of the ‘icing pens’ as anyone who consumed 4 ounces of sugar is already airborn.

I heard on the radio today that in Japan the gift wrap is as important as the gift within, so here’s a quick trick to make your present more special.

1. You will need reflective paper, tissue, toilet paper rolls, glue stick and decorative wire.

2.
Wrap your very important insignificant gift in tissue paper so that it doesn’t get lost. Insert into the toilet roll.

3. Cut a piece of reflective paper in a rectangle twice the size of the roll. Secure outer edge with a slick of glue. Roll and secure the other end.

4. Tie wire at both ends to form cracker.

5. Make as many as possible or as many as your bathroom supplies allow.

If your decorative wire moults stick the debris on the outside as extra decorations.

This reflective paper is more like plastic to the touch and therefore less abhorrent. The wire is far easier to manipulate than sticky tape which tends to end up everywhere except where you really want it. These are the best kind of crackers for us as they are bangless, a not insignificant bonus.

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