Different

Who are you looking at

I’ve always felt like the black sheep in the family. The odd one out amongst my siblings. The youngest by a decade. My brother and sisters had partied together and flown the nest while I was still at school. The tallest. The only shy one. The only one with a stammer as a kid. The only one who went to college and university. The only one you got letters after his name (M.U.P.P.E.T). The only one who never got married (huge mistake). The only bereaved one. The only single parent. The only blogger. The only vegetarian. The only one who has given up alcohol. The only one who is gluten free. The only runner. The only climber. The only one learning a second language. The only one who has visited mums grave. The only Asperger Parent. The only Newcastle United supporter. The only one without a middle name. The only one whose first name doesn’t start with a P. The only one how formed a close link with a Quaker family. The only religious one.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother and sisters. We are close. Close but we don’t see each other much. Mum was always the centre. The gravitational pull that kept the various differing orbits from spinning away. I will see one sister every few months. Another one maybe a couple of times a year. Brother and the other sister maybe once in several years. An occasional phone call or text maintain a link. But since mum left we are slowly spinning apart.

So yes I do feel a little bit like the odd one out. That’s where friends come in. They get me. They make me feel not different. They make me feel whole again. Thank you ❤️

I will leave the final words to my departed partner. We were spending a night in London before we caught the first train to France. Off on our first holiday together. That was back in 2000. We were in a quiet but very full pub in Kings Cross. After a large lager my partner asked about my dieting life choice. In a voice which echoed round the pub. “Are you the only VEGETABLE in your family…”

Yes I probably am….

Summer!!!

This is what a summer midday looks like in Yorkshire. Quite majestic. Just trying to work out where to put the deckchair. Facing the jet blast cold rain or against it. That’s assuming the deck chair has not been sent hurtling across the farmland. Must remember to apply damp proofing to my legs again.

Today we managed to get a home food delivery. That’s two in just over two weeks. I know I poke fun at the process but actually I am so thankful to get anything. The deliveries have been just enough to keep us going over the last three months. Not sure what we would have done without them. Sometimes single parenting really does limit your options. Especially when your son is so tied to the house at present.

Anyway some provisions have arrived. Not everything we hoped for but it’s plenty in the great scheme of things. The main thing is that son got more of the foods he eats this time. Can just about serve up his usual 7 day menu. I will be eating some interesting options thanks to the increasingly creative substitutions.

  • My gluten free pasta has been replaced with kiddies dinosaur shaped pasta. Looking forward to that one.
  • Almond milk for cereal has been replaced with Coffee flavour soya drink. Not sure that will work so well with cornflakes.
  • 6 large free range eggs replaced with 4 Scotch Eggs. Not sure how you make an omelet with those. Also not sure they are much use for my planned Lemon Meringue.
  • 4 lemons replaced by 4 limes. Again not great for a Lemon Meringue.
  • Dairy free cherry yogurt replaced with rhubarb yogurt. Ok I know I’m from Yorkshire and we are supposed to love Rhubard but I’m the only one who doesn’t like the local delicacy.
  • And the best one – 500g of Chia Seeds for me to snack on replaced with 2kg of bird seed. The garden birds will eat well.

But we smile. Avoiding another week of visiting a supermarket is just fine with me. Almost worth eating bird seed to avoid that modern nightmare.

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On the subject of Summer and Baking, don’t forget the Great Blogger Bake-off happening 18/19th July. It will be great fun.

Kinda day

Surely it’s that kinda day.

The alarm rings and I drag the body out of bed and stumble towards my gym kit. Before exercise the important stuff. Feed the pets.

Start with the Gerbils. They will only eat one type of small animal feed and strangely it’s not the cheapest. Trying to change the food and water is always a challenge when you have three little white chaps scurrying up your arm.

Then it’s the big boy cat. He suffers after years of substance abuse. He has had far too many trips to the vets after sampling various harmful items – usually from the farm. Now he’s banned from going out and has to go on a strict diet. He can only eat gluten, grain and dairy free food. Special food which happens to be three times the price of normal cat food. He’s far from impressed and he is surprisingly fleet of foot which he eyes other food opportunities – usually my dinner.

At least the dog has cheap food tastes. He will eat anything. So he dines out on cheaper branded food. Anything works for him. Cat food, our food, vegetables from the garden. His favourites are particularly healthy options

Yorkshire Puddings

Chips and crisps.

Although cheap to feed he does have his very own foible. He can’t and won’t eat food direct from his bowl. He picks up each individual biscuit and carries it to a chair or the sofa. Munches it there and then returns for the next little piece of food. The process repeats for hours. Takes him ages to eat anything and the mess…..

Here’s the key thing. Yes the pets cost money, add workload and create so much mess.

BUT

They bring so much joy to our son. They bring life to the house. Bringing them into our world was the best parenting decision ever.

Food

Now we are into the aftermath of the Easter Egg hunt. Son is happily piling on the calories and his Dad is looking at a bowl of dairy free cornflakes. Is this what my life has been building to…..

To be fair that calorie balance is right. Son tends to be very long and always below the median weight for his height. That is tall and slim. His Paediatrician told him that it was a great excuse never to diet. His Dad is average height (or to be strictly true – 0.5 cm above average) and keeping to an ideal weight is a bit of a struggle. That is big boned.

Son’s diet has been a struggle recently. Aspergers likes order and routine. We stick to the same 7 day food rota every week. To be fair it’s a reasonable diet with much fruit and vegetables. And many sausages…… But over the last few weeks many of his foods of choice have become unavailable. This has required change and change means STRESS. On top of the enforced food switches an increased fear of becoming ill has surfaced. So now he is desperate to eat healthy and avoid too many calories.

So the parents dilemma is trying to put that into a routine which is both sustainable and is actually a balanced, healthy diet for him. That’s at a time when fresh fruit and vegetables are often much harder to source. So keeping the calorie intake sufficient going forward might be a serious challenge. He has already started to refuse foods he considers unhealthy. He’s even started to question his chocolate intake. As the paediatrician explained a couple of years back

his weight is right at the bottom of the perfect band, but don’t let it drop below that. If that means a few more bars of chocolate than usual then that’s just fine. But just watch him. We really don’t won’t to go down the line leading to eating disorder.

Eating Disorders within the Autistic community is a significant issue. Research into eating disorders such as anorexia have found that anywhere between 15% to 35% of total cases can be linked to people on the autism spectrum. However food disorder health care is still largely done in isolation from autism specialists. Autistic services continue to be squeezed as a result of government policy priorities. So improved care and support for autistics with food disorders is unlikely to improve under the current UK government.

This may well be the latest challenge our son has to face down. So long may he tuck into his chocolate egg.

Energy

Well this friend likes my baking.

These days nothing goes to waste. Always find grateful recipients of any food we can’t finish. But there is a limit.

Today has been a bit unusual. Normally the body is willing but the mind refuses to leave my sleepless bed. Today was the complete reverse. My body felt like it was just a heavy sack of spuds. However the mind was sharp. Those three brain cells of mine were purring. Screamed through the workload which freed up an hour for exercise. Here is where the problems started. The bag of spuds just didn’t want to play. I dragged my body through the session but only just. The school run became a real effort. Trying to keep up with son proved impossible. I just wanted to collapse in a chair.

Now it was time for the three brain cells to follow my bodies lead and shutdown. Basically I had nothing. Unfortunately this coincided with Pancake Tuesday. An utter and unmitigated baking disaster. A simple pancake was beyond me. The sticky mess produced was deemed even too bad for the wildlife. So for the first time in ages food went into the bin. I finally just slumped into a chair. Then it dawned on me. I had not eaten in over 24 hours. I’m on the 16:8 diet. Can only eat in one 8 hour spell. I had simple forgotten about an 8 hour food window. What a prize pillock.

Thankfully heaps of junk food has restored my energy levels. The body is now beginning to function. Unfortunately the three brain cells are now a spent force. So the status quo has been restored. Back to being a brisk walking zombie. But it just goes to show if you start to overthink life it’s so easy to take your eye off the basics. It’s also another important warning. We are down to one parent and hence we are walking a tightrope. That’s why it’s so important that in all my efforts to be a good mum and dad, that I remember to care for myself as well.

Earthquakes and The Scottish Play

Finally succumbed to the New Year ‘Sort myself out’ bug. So the Gluten, Soya, Caffeine, Dairy, Meat Free diet is back in force. Whats the old phrase – in for a Penny in for a Pound. So on top of that it is a fasting type regime as well. 10pm to 4pm no food. Allowed to eat in just 6 hours everyday. If I was sticking to the 8:16 diet then I could start eating at 2pm but as Son is not back from school until 4 then might as well wait. It’s funny the effect it has on me. Even a simple bowl of green salad takes on an out of body experience at 4pm. Almond Milk becomes pure nectar.

Anybody who experiences the pleasure of IBS will probably understand the length you will go to try and sort your innards out. You realise it’s unlikely ever to be that magic fix. You happily settle for work around that settles things down for a few months. As you get older more items are added to the banned list. Or at best the once a year I’ve got to have my fix and will take the consequences list. It never seems to be the boring or least favourite foods does it. This Christmas shockingly Marzipan has been added to the naughty list. Absolutely heartbreaking. It’s bizarre as Almond Milk is currently fine with my body and yet Marzipan…… So if you ever see me in the street looking like Mr Creosote then you know I’ve just succumbed to Marzipan with a large coffee.

Anyway the diet switch has been surprisingly easy this weekend. As soon as we have got up Son has wanted to play football in our mud patch and then take the dog for a walk. It’s helped pass the empty feeling hours. Frustratingly the football was set all day in a misty and rainy backdrop. Only as we started to pack up did the clouds finally part and we got to see the last embers of the setting sun. It will be a brief interlude as another Atlantic Storm is flying towards us. The Trampoline is hopefully well and truly sandbagged down.

So now we prepare for school. Last week was best described as a holding pattern. It didn’t get worse but certainly didn’t move forward. Currently we are trying to revise for a Science Test. For whatever reason Son suddenly gets areas of knowledge that he just can’t visualise. Being dyslexic visualisation is his memory method. I’ve previously talked about his struggles with decimal points and shapes. We can now add Waves to the list of struggles. Poor kid just can’t get his head round them.

Dad not sure Im going to do very well on this one. Can’t even spell Electromagnetic or Longitudinal. So even if I do fluke the right answer I still won’t be able to write it down correctly. Maybe as I’ve been practising for a Shakespeare spelling test I should just put down random bard words. At least they will be sort of spelt right.

That did make me smile. Imagine the look on the Science Teachers face when the response to the question. Which of the two types of wave produced by an earthquake is the first to arrive at a location. And will it be the P or S wave? Is as following

Macbeth and Stratford upon Avon.

Food purgatory

My diet is bad. Very bad. My Dad would call it minging. It’s been awful for years. Too much of the bad stuff. Too little of the good stuff. I drink that much coffee that the fluid in my body is no longer water, it’s pure caffeine. That’s probably why I don’t look like George Clooney. Oh hang on George does coffee – that doesn’t work does it. Anyway I’ve not looked like Clooney, suffered from IBS and had a nervous tummy since my college days. The last couple of years haven’t helped it at all.

I knew something had to be done but I kept putting it off. Then I read some great posts on healthy eating and food detox cleanses. This was one of them

Riddle from the Middle

Well finally the penny has dropped. This is Day 8 of my food purgatory. No junk food, no sweets, no chocolate, no crisps, no chips, no popcorn, no peanut butter, no spicy stuff, no dairy, no gluten, no soya, no artificial or processed rubbish. NO COFFEE….. It’s been steamed veg, boiled rice, organic protein, herbal tea and tanker loads of water with a slice of lemon. And as much exercise as time and the body will permit.

Food wise it’s not been too bad. Not been that hungry – although I have been found gnawing on chair legs a few times. But coffee that’s been tough. Especially on the morning. Badly needed an alternative to shift me out of the non functioning zombie state. Luckily I’ve stumbled across one. A squeezed lemon with a ton of fresh ground ginger. Granted it’s an acquired taste. But it doesn’t half shock the system. I understand a similar recipe was used by NASA as fuel for the Apollo Saturn V rocket.

So it’s been a self imposed purgatory. NOW Son has come out in support however his is not quite so self imposed. Last Week when he returned from school he had been eating us out of house and home. Well on Friday I checked his online school lunch account to see if it needed topping up. Bizarrely it had hardly been used that week.

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Son what have you been eating at school lunch. You have hardly spent any money this week.

Not much really Dad.

Why haven’t you been hungry?

No been starving. On Monday in the class before lunch the teacher kept us back because of the behaviour of some of the other kids. When we got to the kitchen they had sold out of flapjacks and sandwiches the other food wasn’t good for me. Tuesday was fine and got my usual. Wednesday and Thursday we where on the other side of the site. So when we got to the kitchen the queue was massive and it was taking ages so I grabbed a bottle of water as all the good food had gone. On Friday by the time we got to the end of the queue it was almost time for lessons to start so I grabbed a flapjack and went to class. Your not allowed to eat in class so I had that on the bus coming home.

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So school got another angry phone call and another formal complaint. The problem is that schools in the UK have been forced to cut back on school lunch expenditure. Plus the pressure to deliver the set national curriculum has forced many schools to drastically cut the school lunch breaktime. It’s the only way they can meet the demands of government. Feeding kids is not up there on the priorities. In all the surveys and questions we have had to complete for school inspections Lunch has never once been mentioned. It’s all about the national curriculum. How can a kid learn when he’s hungry. Let’s not beat about the bush most of the reasons for these problems is down to those in charge of our countries education. Basically the government picks numpties with Victorian values to run education. I’ve previously mentioned the Minister who viewed kids being off after a bereavement as AN EXTENDED HOLIDAY.

The school argues that they are following government policy, that the budgets have been slashed and that some food is always available. Problem is that when you are an Autistic kid the range of acceptable food can be limited. If it’s the wrong colour, wrong texture or mixed up with other food then it never going to be consumed.

A pack-up is not really easy most days as his big school bag is filled to busting with essential books, equipment and sports kit. Most days he’s already walking around school with a full bag on his shoulders and hands full with books he can’t fit into the bag. I have started filling up one side pocket with chocolate bars and snacks so at least he’s got something to snack on. A supersized school bag is on order which will hopefully be big enough to fit in a pack-up box.

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So this is a house of food purgatory for a variety of reasons. Hopefully it will make me healthier. Hopefully son’s purgatory has ended. It might even make both of us better prepared for the potential food shortages if our PM gets his way and we crash out of the EU in six weeks. As Monty Python say – always look on the bright side of life.