Sunday, 9 July 2017

It's been a while...

I hadn't actually realised that it had been so long since I posted something, anything on here!  The blog has crossed my mind over the last few months but I've been struggling a bit with 'writers block' and not really knowing what to write about or what makes people want to stop and read something little old me has written.  

So, we are all fine, Ella is doing well and about to finish Year 1 at school.  Lots of preparation currently happening to make sure the transition from Yr1 to Yr2 is a smooth as possible for her as a child with special educational needs.  There are going to be a lot of changes next school year so it's important that the time is put in now to help her feel prepared and still happy to go to school.  I will write more on that soon (promise!). 

Lucy is also getting ready to make the transition from pre-school to reception.  She is more than ready for school now and is excited to be joining her big sister - in some ways she is more prepared than Ella was - she knows the school and has lots of lovely little friends from both her nursery and other siblings she has met in the playground over the last 2 years.  In other ways it seems much harder as I can't believe our little lady is about to start school, the last 4 years have flown by and selfishly, I'll really miss her being around at home.

But don't worry about me, once Ella and Lucy are back at school I won't be twiddling my thumbs or crying on the sofa all day.  Come October, life is going to change for all of us as we welcome another baby into our family.  Exciting, chaotic and fun times are ahead! And I guess this has been a good enough reason why the blog has been neglected for months - morning sickness and fatigue don't really help creativity or productivity.  I should maybe stop feeling so guilty...



Here's to new adventures... and maybe a few more blog posts too!

Happy Sunday all xx

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Call the Midwife episode featuring a character with Down's Syndrome


Being a regular viewer of the BBC One drama 'Call the Midwife', I noticed last week during the preview for this weeks episode that there was to be a character with Down's Syndrome appearing.
  
I was intrigued and a little apprehensive. Mainly though, I was excited that there was someone with Down's Syndrome being represented on such a well loved show with high viewing figures. I wondered how well the part would be incorporated into the existing premise of the show and also what the storyline surrounding the character would be.  And bearing in mind when the show is set (early 1960's) and the very different attitudes that existed in society towards people with any kind of disability, I wondered whether it may be too sad or upsetting to watch. 

This is the second time an actor with Down's syndrome has appeared in the show. The lovely Sarah Gordy starred a few years ago alongside an actor with cerebral palsy in a heartbreaking storyline which was a difficult watch but very well executed by the actors and writers involved.  

Call the Midwife is a show that has proved time and time again not to be afraid to tackle difficult or sensitive issues of a time in the past and a time in society that many people alive can still remember today.

This weeks story explored some more of those difficult issues.  The young character with Down's Syndrome (Reggie) is left alone early in the episode when his constant and protective mum dies suddenly.  


He is taken in by his cousin (Fred) and his wife (Violet) and although things get off to a rocky start - Violet isn't at all sure about having him around because they dont know anything about 'people like him'.  Then, after Reggie is left alone and tries to cook his own breakfast he leaves the gas on and manages to get locked out.  What follows are the most heart-wrenching scenes of him being bullied in the street and called names before we see him finding his way back to the home he shared with his mum, banging on the door calling for her and not understanding why she isn't coming to the door to let him in.  


The options for Reggie are a stark reminder of the time - to stay with Fred and Violet his only relatives or to be placed in an institution (asylum) and locked away from society and the life, places and people he knows.  Out of sight and mind, alongside others with mental and physical disabilities.   After Fred visits the asylum he is thankfully appalled at the mere thought of sending Reggie there and we are then left wondering whether he will stay with Violet & Fred to become a regular character in the show (yes please shouts the nation!). 

We see Reggie flourish helping Fred out in the garden at Nonnatus House but he is very aware that he doesn't really fit in there as he wants the company of people his own age. In the end there is a happy outcome.  Reggie is found a place in a community village where he can live with other people his age whilst being a gardener - the job he has come to love while being with Fred.  And Violet, like the rest of us became very fond of Reggie - I really hope he makes another appearance in a future episode. Daniel Laurie, the actor who played him was just fantastic and has been shown an outpouring of love and appreciation on twitter and in reviews of the show.

All the way through the episode, even with it's twists and turns and the sometimes difficult insight into life at the time for someone with a disability, I felt that we were in the hands of a writer who knew what they were doing with this character.  The way the story moved and the topics covered in such a short time made me realise quite early on that someone behind this episode had some life experience relating to the issues unfolding on the screen.  I was later informed that the writer of the episode, Andrea Gibb, has a sister with Down's Syndrome which explained why it was all stitched together so well.

I loved the ending - the community village for people with disabilities, where Reggie could be independent after so many years living under his protective mother.  Where he could be around people his own age while doing a job he loved.  A nod to the future and a very forward thinking enterprise at the time and something that many people may not be aware of even existing, either then or now.  I know I wasn't aware of these initiatives until both our grandmothers died a few years ago.  Our grans had both been nurses at some point in their lives and though they never knew each other, they both requested that donations at their funerals should be given to the Camphill Village Trust - a cause they had both supported for a long time, long before Ella was born.  The trust provides somewhere where all abilities of people can be supported to learn, live and grow within small supported communities across the country. 

I am glad that Ella is growing up in a society that has come a long way since the 'Call the Midwife' era of poor social integration, institutions and a lack of support for adults with disabilities.  It doesn't make being the mum of a child with a disability any easier though or stop me worrying about the future - It is one of my biggest fears, to not be around for either of my children.  

I don't know where Ella will want to be when she is older - I know I'd keep her at home forever if I could but knowing how independent and determined she is now then maybe assisted living or even living independently will be options for her future.  We will have to wait and see.  I do know that I want her to continue to be an active member of society and to be able to get a job doing something that she enjoys.




Saturday, 7 January 2017

Easy Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

Pizza dough recipe

Something a little different from my usual content but as it's a new year, there are new things to share and new directions to explore! 

After being repeatedly asked for the recipe whenever I've made pizza for friends and family I thought I'd do a little post and pop the recipe here so if you want to, you can print it and try it for yourselves.  

There are hundreds of pizza dough recipes online and after trying a few of them, this is the one I keep going back to both in terms of its ease and because most importantly, it produces a yummy pizza.

I've shared before Ella and Lucy's love of helping in the kitchen.  Ella especially, learns by doing and by being involved (in this case getting covered in flour and sticky pizza dough hands!).  I feel it is important for both our girls to learn life skills such as cooking and baking even though they are still relatively young.  They both enjoy their food so the end product is always a good motivation for them to help out too.  I've also been taking them to a weekly cooking class for the last few months and they both love it.

This pizza dough recipe involves lots of different activities and learning opportunities - measuring, mixing, pouring, kneading and of course eating!  There are lots of different ways of approaching this activity with younger children as it incorporates lots of different skills. Maths, quantities, weighing & counting, hand eye co-ordination and using fine and gross motor skills.  Children can get involved in the dough making process or for younger children (and those of you who like to keep your children and kitchens clean), adding the sauce and toppings may be where they can get more involved.  

Ella can now top her own pizza with very little help.  I provide the jar of sauce and a spoon and the cheese and (almost) leave her to it!  We've found that although the girls love to adorn their pizzas with lots of toppings, once cooked they take everything off again so I just leave theirs quite plain.



'I did it mummy!'

Making our own Pizzas has become a weekly activity in our house now and is something we all enjoy doing.   I appreciate it's very easy to buy a pizza but making your own is a lot more satisfying and really doesn't take much more time or effort than a ready made one.  Once you've mastered the basic recipe, you can be as creative as you like both with the dough and the toppings.  

I have got in the habit of keeping a tomato based pizza sauce in the cupboard and some grated mozarella/pizza cheese in the fridge.  There are only 4 ingredients in the dough recipe itself which most people will already have in their store cupboards.  This is also a versatile recipe - you can make the dough ahead of time or to use straight away.

Ingredients - quantities provided make x2 10 inch (thin crust) pizzas 


10 oz Plain Flour ('00' grade if you can get it but regular plain is fine)

6 fl oz warm water

1 tsp fast acting dried yeast

1 tsp salt


Method


1. Weigh out your flour and put it into a large mixing bowl along with the salt

2. In a measuring jug measure out the water (should be warm but not hot or you'll kill the yeast - I use water from a recently boiled kettle and dilute until warm)

3. Add the yeast to the water in the jug and stir until dissolved 


4. Add the water/yeast mixture to your bowl with the flour and salt in it

5. Mix using a fork or your hands until the mixture has come together. Don't worry about making one clump of dough at this point, it wont properly come together until you start to knead it.  I find it is much easier to tip the roughly mixed contents of the bowl out onto the worktop and begin to knead it to bring it all together

6. Knead for 5 mins, or until the dough is smooth and elastic then shape into a ball


(you can skip step 7 & 8 if you're in a hurry...)

7. Using a small amount of olive oil, grease a mixing bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm/room temp to rise

8. Leave to rise for at least an hour 


9. Then roll out your dough as thin as you like and place on a floured or oiled baking tray.   Top with whatever your favourite toppings are.  Alternatively knock the air out of the dough, loosely wrap in cling film (it will continue to expand) and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days if you want to save some for later.

10. Bake for approx 10mins at 200C (180C fan)

Enjoy!

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