Mad about the boy …

A wee update on Son No1’s surgery.

An early morning alarm call woke Son No1 (and Mr GG & I) for breakfast before fasting began. If I’m honest, I think I was more apprehensive about dealing with the fasting than the surgery itself! It’s no mean feat keeping an ever-hungry, ever-growing teenager out of the kitchen.


hungry chicken GIF by Endemol Beyond
Grandpa and Grandma GG arrived at 10 to take Son Nos 2&3 off out for a day at the zoo (the joys of home education meant that this was a ‘day off’ for everyone!) and we set off for the hospital.

Hospital was mobbed! The waiting area was packed out and noisy which immediately cranked the anxiety up another notch or two … what if we don’t hear our name being called? It’s irrational I know, but I’ll always be a bit of a worrier!

img_4184Eventually we heard Son No1 being called … phew … and off we toddled to a wee room where he had to put his pjs on, get temperature, weight & blood pressure checked. Lastly some numbing cream was applied to his hands … apparently that was the worst part … so far!

Due to the busy-ness of the hospital Son No1 couldn’t get a bed on the ward until after surgery so we were back in the waiting room to wait … list began at 1pm and was done in age order so we were expecting a long wait.

Over the next couple of hours we saw the anaesthetist who talked Son No1 through the difference between using a drip or gas for going to sleep. We also saw the surgeon once again who reassured us he would definitely operate on both legs and, thankfully, gave us an idea of the time we could expect surgery to begin.

Eventually we were called for theatre … I was able to stay with Son No1 until he was asleep which was great. He opted for the drip (with a little encouragement from me!) but two attempts to insert the img_4183cannula failed so he had to have gas. There is something eerie about watching your child clutching a mask to his face and slowly drifting off to sleep … I can’t say I liked it!

Once my lad was asleep my nerves left me (although still kicking about as since then I tried to spell ‘failed’ with a ‘ph’, ‘cannula’ with one ‘n’ and ‘eerie’ with a ‘y’) and I felt incredibly calm until we neared the time to expect Son No1 back from theatre, then the time seemed to drag … so … terribly … slowly.

Finally we got word that Son No1 was in recovery and we went to wait in the room he’d been allocated. A very quiet, woozy boy was wheeled in, struggling to keep his eyes open and shivering in that horrible uncontrollable way that seems to happen after general anaesthesia. He rallied enough to give a couple of hugs then drifted off into a deep sleep so I took the opportunity to leave my boy and Mr GG and go home to relieve the GG grandparents from their duties.

img_4189

When I got back to the hospital the next morning a bright, sparkly, hungry boy met me with two new casts on his legs … he opted for the brightest yellow I’d ever seen which, given the weather warnings we’ve had lately is probably a good idea … he will never get lost!

Shortly after I arrived Son No1’s transport for the next six weeks was delivered and he practised transferring from bed to chair and back again.  All went well and, just like that, he was discharged!

There aren’t words for how proud I am of my lad.  I am completely in awe of him.  In the, little over, 48 hours since surgery he’s not complained once.  He’s mentioned a couple of times that he’s sore which is to be expected but no complaints at all.  It’s no mean feat for a teenager who’s been relatively independent to suddenly be dependent upon his parents for pretty much everything once again.  He has to bear Mr GG lifting him and out of our car as it’s too high for him to shimmy across using his arms.  He has to put up with my somewhat clumsy attempts at wheelchair pushing and I’m sorry to admit that, already, I’ve bumped him into a wall and squashed his foot in a door … I’m hoping practice makes perfect!

The next six weeks are going to be tough.  A real lesson in patience.  There is to be absolutely no weight-bearing until the casts are removed in early March and then the real hard work begins as my boy learns to walk properly for the first time.  We’re all adapting to this temporarily different way of life.  Our plans to have Son No1 pretty much living downstairs fell to pieces when his chair wouldn’t fit into our downstairs bathroom so he’s confined to living upstairs most of the time for just now and seems to be relishing the opportunity of having me, Mr GG and Son Nos 2&3 at his beck and call. 

For anyone, let alone a young person who has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, Son No1 has coped brilliantly … so brilliantly that I’m tentatively scouting around the internet trying to find something to add to his collection of retro games consoles … he’s getting suspicious because of all my questions about them though … I’ve no idea where to look.

So, that’s us for now.  Academic work has been limited to just two days this week to give Mr GG and I time to recover and get our heads around everything as well as allowing Son No1 time to adjust.  The next two days won’t be taxing workwise but enough to get him into a bit of a routine again and let him see just how well he can adapt.  

Lastly, if you see a luminous-yellow-legged boy in a wheelchair being pushed erratically along a pavement by a wild haired crazy woman then give us a wave before you jump out of the way … we’d love to say hello!

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer …

The sun is shining, washing is drying on the whirligig, the chooks are scratching about contentedly, the boys are playing quietly (always a worry!), Mr GG is sitting on the swing seat relaxing/sleeping … and somewhere along the way I’ve obviously blinked and missed the week!  Our first week of summer holiday is over already but it still feels like last weekend.

There has always been a period of adjustment when it comes to holidays.  My routine loving boys often struggle getting used to a new routine although the first week of the summer holidays has generally been kept empty … a chance for the boys to relax, catch up on sleep and recover from the stresses of the academic year.

This year has been no different …

… oh …

… no …

… wait …

… erm …

… that’s not right …

… this year has been completely different.

This year it has been me that has struggled with the change in routine.  The Junior GGs have all been relaxed and drifted into holiday mode with no issues.  I, on the other hand, have been completely out of sorts, grumpy, stressy, tired and struggling to get used to being on holiday from home ed!  What’s that all about?

It struck me that the past six months have been completely full-on … I’ve been either been actively involved in home ed or I’ve been thinking about it.  It’s been my life absolutely.  I don’t regret it, not one wee bit, but suddenly not having to think about it has been a bit of a shock!  For the past years I’ve counted down to the summer holidays growing more and more excited about having six or seven uninterrupted weeks with my boys.  The night before the last day of term was always more exciting than Christmas … I often couldn’t sleep.  This year has been different … I’ve looked forward to not having work to prepare or mark or plan but … it was different … and it felt odd!

Work isn’t completely finished quite yet.  Son No1 and I have been working on a Chicken Welfare & Behaviour course with Edinburgh University.  It’s pretty much finished, just a few bits of work to be done and we’re through … it’s been ever so interesting and we’ve both learned lots about our own chooks as we’ve learned.

This past week I’ve also managed to complete a course in reflexology.  I’ve no intention of inflicting my grumpy crabbiness on the general public but I’ve often wondered if reflexology would help my anxiety-ridden Son No2 so I thought I’d try it out and see … so far I’ve not managed to get him to sit still long enough for me to even touch his feet, far less try out any reflexology but there’s still hope!  If there is anything at all that I can do to help him deal with this world that is so alien to him then I’m all for it.

Son No3 has enjoyed the holidays so far.  He’s made the most of the sunny weather to play outside with his friends (rain never stops us anyway) and has built lots of interesting Lego creations.  Lego has got to be one of the best toys ever … only limited by our own imaginations.

And there it is … week one of our holidays is finished, completed, gone … the grumpiness is gone (for now!) and I have much to be thankful for … no matter how much of a rush he is in, Son No1 will not ever go out without coming to give me a hug and tell me he loves me … how blessed I am!

IMG_1885

Week two is looming (well, it’s Monday now so it’s kinda loomed already) … we’ve planned a bit more structure for this week but I’m not telling you yet!

 

 

Nothing’s gonna stop us now …

Hooray! Happy day! We have made it to the end of term … all still standing and smiling!

It’s been a week of preparation, work has been steadily reducing and lots of planning for holidays and free days going on.

Traditionally, in the distant past when the boys were in school we would make a list of things to do in the holidays … colour-coded according to whether they could be done at home or away and whether free or not … maybe I’m a wee bit of a control freak after all haha!

So, our list has been updated, new activities added and some discarded with claims that the boys are now too old for them. We’ve easily got 70 different activities and I’ve tried hard to make as many free as I possibly can.

IMG_1661On one of our many walks this week Son No 3 found his first painted rocks … such excitement. The rocks have been rehidden ready for someone else to find … I wonder how far they will travel?  We are planning to paint some rocks of our own and hide them around the parks and woodlands in our local area.  I’m quite artistically inept but hopefully Mr GG will join in!

The latest Tinker Crate arrived a few days ago so it found itself included on the plan for this week … and what fun!  Son No3 did really well following the instructions to build an arcade catapult and has spent lots of time playing with it, even inviting his friends in to give it a go.  There’s something satisfying about building something yourself and he was, quite rightly, proud of his efforts.

This week has also seen Son No 1 update his hair colour … the blue is gone and replaced with red. He was a bit reluctant to let anyone see the work in progress!  I was a bit nervous about how the red would look but I think he’s looking great 🙂


IMG_1653Our three chooks are continuing to supply us with eggs and there was much excitement when Beryl the Peril laid our first double yolker … clever girl.

Our fruit and vegetable patches are continuing to grow and, I think, everything we planted has sprouted. Storm Hector battered the garden but, thankfully, everything survived  including the chidkens and Son No2’s precious guinea pig, Pringle (although she looked a wee bit shell-shocked afterwards).

We celebrated the end of our academic year with a trip to Auchingarrich Animal Park. Mr GG took the day off work so we were able to have a lovely family day together. The weather forecast was dire but Team GG don’t let something like rain put us off and I’m so glad … torrential rain most of the journey there and torrential rain most of the journey home but in between was lovely!


We saw all sorts of animals but, for me, the highlight was seeing the wildcat with her kittens … so beautiful! It’s hard to imagine that they’re so different from our own Princess Leia.

For many years there has been a tartan sheep at Auchingarrich and we’ve loved looking at her. Today she looked old and tired but had two lambs with her. Seeing her wandering along with the lambs and quite obviously getting impatient with them at times reminded me of my role as a mum. I get impatient with the boys, I’ve so much to learn as a mum but I’ve held on to this verse, especially in the years when the boys were so much younger and my job was much more ‘hands on’.
IMG_0011
And there we are … we’ve reached the end of our first academic (half) year. We’ve made mistakes, we’ve had successes but I can honestly say I don’t regret our decision to start home education for a minute. It’s not always been easy and we’ve had times when school has been missed but I could not be more proud of how well my lovely boys have coped and adapted to such a massive change.

I’ve a few plans for the blog over the holidays … but I’m giving away no secrets so you’ll have to wait and see! For now, though, I’m off to sit back and relax and enjoy the holiday (at home) feeling!

The Long & Winding Road

I’m a bit late with the blog this week … it’s been one of those weekends!

We’re really starting to look ahead to the summer holidays now and we’re all looking forward to them.  The boys are looking forward to some time without academic work to do and I’m looking forward to some time when I’m not constantly preparing lessons and thinking of what to do next.  Mr GG and I are planning to spend some time looking ahead to when we start back but there won’t be that same pressure which, I must admit, will be lovely!

The work that has been done in the garden is beginning to pay off and several wee shoots can be seen poking through the ground.  It’s amazing how one wee shoot will appear and then a couple of hours later there are loads, as if one seed breaks free and the others are encouraged to follow along.

All three chooks are growing and developing their wee personalities.  They are a huge hit with all the family and all three boys love spending time outside talking to them.  They’re not shy around us at all now and as soon as anyone is outside they’re squawking about at our toes (and pecking them) looking for treats.  Beryl the Peril is still our sole egg layer but she’s been consistently laying an egg each day.  I’ve been using an old eyeliner to write the date on the eggs, I know some folks use sharpies but I’m a wee bit hesitant about using something like that.  I was going to say I was hesitant about using something I wouldn’t eat but there again, who eats eyeliner …

The patience we need when waiting for plants to grow or the chickens to start laying eggs has made me think about our approach to home education.  We don’t just plant a seed and immediately have veg to eat.  An egg doesn’t hatch and immediately turn into a laying chicken.  Similarly, here at GGHQ, we haven’t just left school and turned into the perfect HE family straightaway (whatever that is anyway!). 

These past months have been fun, but they have been hard work.  The Junior GGs have had to get used to being out of school, to learning in a different environment and in a different way.  Mr GG and I have had to get used to a completely different homelife and to learn, through trial and error, what works for the individuals in our wee family and what absolutely doesn’t! 

Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes, lots of research, reading, soul searching, praying, even tears now and again.   

I know I’m repeating myself but I’m proud of how all five of us have adapted to the changes that we’ve faced.  It’s not always been straightforward and there have been hiccups but as we enter our sixth month of HE I think relationships are stronger, the atmosphere in our home is, mostly, calmer and we’re all benefiting from spending more time outside.  Change is not always easy for people on the autistic spectrum but my boys amaze me time and time again how well they cope with whatever life throws at them.  They’re awesome lads and I’m proud to be their mum.

IMG_1404 

(And when they choose to do a geography puzzle when they have free time … well, that makes me feel we’re doing something right!)

 

Celebration

Big news!  Big news! 

Today is the two week anniversary since the chooks joined our family and Beryl the Peril decided to celebrate by laying her first egg.  I suspected Beryl would be first to lay as she looks a bit older than Ivy & Minnie but hopefully now she’ll encourage her friends to start laying eggs too!  What an exciting morning it was … Beryl is generally quite vocal so I expected her egg song to be sung at full pelt.  But no!  She was quite cuddly this morning and even jumped up onto Mr GG’s knee (which she’d never done before) then quietly took herself off into the coop and laid the egg without fuss or drama.  It was still warm when we gathered it … and tasted delicious (so I’m told – Mr GG scoffed it). 

 It’s been another beautiful week here so once lessons have been completed each day we’ve been spending time in the garden planting seeds, tending shoots and fighting a losing battle with the wee helicopters from the sycamore tree outside our garden!  Our planting is almost done for the time being … we’ve got blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries growing in the front garden and potatoes, cucumber, carrots, kale (purple as well as green … very exotic), spring onions, chilli, beans, peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lettuce, salad leaves and various herbs growing in the back garden!  I’m planning to add some tumbling tomatoes in a hanging basket and some lemongrass around the chicken run to help combat flies once the weather gets warmer and, although we don’t really need it, I’m thinking of sneaking a cranberry plant in somewhere as well.  My idea is that, as well as teaching the boys, growing more fruit and veg will help to keep some of the animals fed … I hope so otherwise they’ll all eat us out of house and home!

 Our garden isn’t huge but just over a year ago we bought a tiny bit of land at the side of our house … it’s not big enough for us to build on and extend but it makes our garden seem much less claustrophobic.  The grass on one corner of the new patch is in really bad condition and we’ve been pondering what to do with it … this year we’ve roped it off and planted wildflower seeds in the hope that it will encourage bees and butterflies.  I’ve also mentioned in passing the possibility of making a wee wildlife pond but I got a look from Mr GG so maybe that idea needs shelved for a wee while …

Lessons have carried on as normal this week … we’re planning ahead for August however and beginning to look to the end of this academic year.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few months here at GGHQ but I’m proud of how well we have all adapted … still no regrets about choosing to turn from state education and beginning home education instead.

One of my favourite parts of our day as a home ed family is reading half hour.  Whilst this part of the day is not usually met with overwhelming enthusiasm by all involved, it usually goes well … we either curl up on chairs in the living room or outside in the garden and I set a timer for 30 minutes.  I love reading and getting half an hour to read uninterrupted is pure bliss!  At the moment Son No1 is reading The Hobbit, Son No2 is reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and Son No3 is working his way through the Famous Five books.  I’m currently reading a brilliantly encouraging book called The Lifegiving Table – I only discovered the author, Sally Clarkson, within the past couple of years and really love her work.  The Lifegiving Table is part of a trilogy, The Lifegiving Home was the first one, this is second and next I have The LiIMG_1499fegiving Parent winking at me and encouraging me to read faster.  Reading half hour was something I introduced a long time ago in the olden days of school holidays – this pic is from last summer but I love how the boys were all so content lying on the trampoline reading together.  Nowadays, it generally comes at the end of our ‘working’ day so when the timer goes off I’m left surrounded in a cloud of dust as the boys disappear to find something to do before I suggest any chores … they’ve all learned never to use the ‘bored’ word otherwise they’ll be given a cloth to clean the windows or sent off to mop the floors.

So, now to enjoy the rest of the weekend.  It’s a quiet day for me.  Mr GG is one of the youth leaders in our church and he, along with the other leaders and a gaggle of teenagers are away to Extreme Combat Laser Quest this afternoon … Son No1 is so excited about it, Son No2 not so keen on that part so is only going for pizza at the end.  That leaves Son No3 & I … we’re planning to watch a film curled up on the sofa eating pizza and ice cream (maybe not at the same time) … I love a bit of one to one time with my boys … good time.

Happy weekend folks! 

Walking on Sunshine

I can’t believe another week is ending already!  It’s been a beautiful week here and all at GGHQ have made the most of the sunshine … well, all except Mr GG who managed to put his back out talking to the chickens (yep … I know!)

It’s been a busy Home Ed week as usual for us … lots to pack in but, also, lots to learn and, on the whole, willing learners!  The sunny weather meant that several of the lessons were completed outside … the sun and the lure of the chickens proved too much to keep some boys indoors.

IMG_1453Of course, part of the HE life involves learning life skills so we made the most of the sunny weather to practice our gardening skills … we are planning, and growing, a vegetable patch this year.  Our garden doesn’t really lend itself to a lot of gardening scope so lots of tubs, planters and hanging baskets are being filled with herbs, fruit and veg.  We’ve grown fruit for a few years now (apples, blueberries, raspberries and sometimes strawberries) but we’re pretty much newcomers to growing veg … it’s an exciting time and we’re all looking forward to eating the produce.

Not all the outdoors jobs are pleasant and whilst there are plenty of volunteers when it comes to feeding the various animal members of the family, I’ve noticed that many aren’t quite so keen when it comes to cleaning up after them.  However, they’re all skills that need to be learned and looking after pets helps the boys learn responsibility which will help them when they eventually leave home (shhh, not a pleasant thought!).  Don’t tell anyone but there are some of jobs which I’m more than happy to pass on as learning experiences … whilst Pringle the guinea pig is a loved member of the family and interacts with us all I can’t bear the feel of her wee feet … handling her and Steve the hamster is a job happily left to others to deal with … ick, ick, ick, shiver!

Sunny weather also opens different doors for our daily exercise time … thereIMG_1471 were lots of Swingball matches and, although this one was a solo match, some of them got quite competitive.  I also managed to persuade Son No1 that muscle definition could be developed by moving a massive pile of roof tiles that has been sitting in my front garden for a while.  Yes, HE certainly exercises the creative side of the brain … watering the garden with watering cans is good for muscle building or with a hose helps with target practice, weeding develops flexibility, washing the car is aerobic exercise (well, if there’s music involved) …

IMG_1450Unfortunately the past couple of weeks have seen a rise in anxiety for one of the GG boys … I can always tell how worried he is by how carefully he shuts the door when he wants to talk to me and we’ve spent lots of time talking, reassuring and praying about the worries he has.  It’s painful to watch someone I love suffering so much … his anxieties have a physical impact too because one of his coping mechanisms is washing his hands … I feel so sad for him.  However, he is loved and supported by Mr GG & I and his two brothers and we will never stop trying our best to help him.

We’re feeling quite settled into a routine now but still keep trying out different ideas to see what works and what doesn’t.  A few weeks ago I came across a kids subscription website called kiwico … one of the boxes, a tinker crate, helps kids around the age of Son No3 (he’s 9) learn about the principles of physics and engineering … just his thing. 

I ordered the crate but didn’t say anything about it and waited to see the reaction when it arrived … he loved it … and we spent a fun morning making a spin art box.  Now, I know the boy was pleased … but I was over the moon when we switched the ‘on’ button and the plate began to spin.  It’s yonks since I was at school and I certainly could not have been described as scientifically gifted so I was really chuffed that between us we managed this:

Apologies for the angle of the clip … I help my phone upsidedown … I’m not the most technically proficient haha!  All the same I’m impressed with Son No3’s efforts and think these four would look good in a wee frame together.  The tinker crate was most definitely a success and both Son No3 and I are impatiently waiting to see what will arrive next month … physics was definitely fun this week!

IMG_1477

PS: For those who are interested, no eggs yet … but we’re checking each day with excited anticipation …

Absolute Beginners

Starting a new blog is a little bit like trying on a new pair of jeans … the old ones feel comfortable and familiar whereas new ones feel tight and unyielding. There’s a little part of me that’s been putting off writing this post, making a proper start to this blog … I love my other blog, it feels homely and I’m happy dipping in and out of it whenever I’ve something to say (which is remarkably less often than those around me have to listen to me yabbering on!). My gingergnome blog will continue, but as this is a new start for my wee family we decided that it was time to have a blog dedicated to our journey.

So who are we and what is our journey?

Firstly let me introduce my family. There is Mr GG, lord of the manor, my lovely husband and best friend. Mr GG works partly at home and partly office-based. I have absolutely no idea what his job is, something involving faffing about with computers is about all I can make of it … I try and make intelligent noises when he talks to me about it but the bottom line is, I haven’t a clue! Mr GG is creative … he plays guitar and writes songs, he enjoys woodwork and is, thankfully, very handy with DIY.

Then there is me, Mrs GG. Thankful for my long-suffering hubby putting up with my wild ideas, sometimes running with them and sometimes talking me into more realistic plans. I enjoy spending time with my awesome family and am passionate about my calling as a mother. I enjoy baking, being crafty and writing … none of which I practise as regularly as I ought!

Then there are the three Junior GGs, ages 14, 12 and 9. They (along with Mr GG) are my absolute world … they take me through a spectrum of emotions every single day … from frustration, to bewilderment, to hysteria, to contentment. I give thanks that I’ve been given the opportunity to be their mum.

Our family also includes a regularly increasing variety of pets … Princess Leia the cat, Steve the hamster, Pringle the guinea pig, several fish and two shrimps … and, if life wasn’t busy enough, Mr GG is busy building a chicken run for, well, unsurprisingly, chickens!

From January this year we have been a home educating family. It’s been a huge step for us but one that, several months down the line we have absolutely no regrets about (apart from not starting sooner!). Becoming an HE family is a dream come true for me … and is absolutely living up to all my expectations. We are an ‘out of the box’ family … autism features, as does ADHD and, from time to time, anxiety raises its ugly head and tries to rob some members of their peace of mind. However, we are a strong family unit, we focus on working as a team and are fiercely protective of each other.

The past months have been a time of great adjustment for all five GGs. I no longer can be a lady who lunches … gone are my sneaky coffees with friends … I can’t just head off out for the day at the drop of a hat. Mr GG now has children popping in and out of his office on his days working from home (he quite likes it … and it’s lovely having lunches all together). The boys are having to get used to being with each other nearly 24/7 which caused a few ructions at first. Son No1 misses the social side of school but keeps in contact with his friends. Son No2 has taken to HE like a duck to water … he was desperately unhappy in school so is flourishing at home and is much more sociable which we’re loving watching. Son No3 is a wee pickle, he is enjoying the variety of learning from home and certainly benefits from being able to bounce out his frustrations when he’s finding something difficult to grasp.

We’ve slowly settled into a good HE routine and are now fairly well established covering core subjects as well as enjoying the opportunities to develop individual interests and strengths. Son No1 is currently taking a distance course with a local university on chicken behaviour (I’m tagging along with him in the hope that, between us, we’ll be well prepared when our chickens eventually arrive). The opportunity to tailor education to suit our family is one of the most exciting journeys we have been on … the options are endless and, for once, some of my wilder ideas are actually turning into possibilities …