How to do Biscuit Art

Little Person wants to be an artist when she grows up. When asked what kind of art, she replied baking art. Which turned into biscuit art. Which turned into an afternoon activity. (Apologies for photo quality. They are straight off my phone.)


Buy various cake decorating bits and bobs. (We bought little stars,mini smarties and wafer butterflies.  I also bought rainbow shoelace sweets but they didn’t get used.) 

Buy biscuits. Or make them. We bought rich tea biscuits, but only used the round ones. 

Buy icing materials. Icing sugar, food colouring, that sort of thing. We bought the icing writing packs but they can be tricky to work with. 

Setting up

You need to put all your decoratables within easy reach. Make a small bowl of icing (tip: you never need as much water for your icing as you think you do). You might want to split this into various colours.for use as background colours. 

You will need space for each work and a variety of spreading tools. 

The biscuit art itself

Basically, you let the little munchkins lose on the biscuits.  First with their choice of icing background colour. Then they can add their own decorations as they see fit. Little Person gives you an example below. 

Bonus points for a lesson in Internet safety.  And no. I have no idea why it is upside down.  

Here’s some of what we made. 

The patterns were made by pulling at the icing with a toothpick. 

And one more.

 As you can see the possibilities are endless…

Good points

Good for imagination, parallel play, sharing, can be a shared activity across multiple levels of ability. 

Easy to put together and put away. 

Not so good points 

Not.good for food allergies, or when Little Person eats all the leftover icing. Can be tricky when the thing doesn’t work out quite to plan. 

High possibility of mess, if that sort of thing bothers you. 

Overall score: 5/5

We will definitely do this again.  Unless we don’t.  

Summer Outing Review: Glass Painting at the National Glass Centre

I appreciate this is a deviation from my normal blog posts. I am experimenting. Writing the kind of post I would find useful. 

Taking Little Person out on summer holiday adventures has become more tricky over time. She gets more anxious. She needs to know more stuff. So this is a review of a day out that we tried. 

We went to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. They had advertised drop in sessions to paint either a glass boat or a glass car. The Internet page was very up to date and included a note that the lift was out of order. Not that we needed the lift. The only thing was there was no picture of the entrance so that I could show Little Person a visual cue of what to look for when we arrived. 

Free parking. Yay. A nice ramp down to the entrance.  Also yay. Revolving door entrance. (Scored points with Little Person if not her mother.) 

The glass painting cost £4. We got a little glass shape (Little Person chose a boat) and a selection of pens to colour I with. We had the option to practise the design on a piece of paper and then trace onto the boat. We got to keep the boat but not the pens… 

Plus points: friendly staff who calmed right down and gave really good instructions when I asked. Minus points: quite an echoey room so when busy Little Person found it.difficult to cope.  

There’s also an educational display about glass in Sunderland, dating back to Roman times but it’s not very kid friendly. There’s a gallery, with no extra charge for the current display (I am not sure about other times). I  liked it.  Little Person liked it. The person handing me the piece of paper with all the info gave me a stern message about how fragile the stuff was. Because that’s really going to encourage parents to take their kids to see the art. 

There’s a pretty view of the river and downstairs there is a  restaurant and a shop. We didn’t get down there because the lift was broken. But it looked spacious enough and there were plenty of tables.

Overall, a good activity, well organised.  We would make sure to only go if it’s not busy next time. 

When An Autism Diagnosis Is A Good Thing

The day we got Little Person’s diagnosis, I was a shredded pulp of melted ice cream. I was unsure about what it all meant, guilt ridden for dragging her through all these hoops only to get what? A label that would limit her. A badge to point out all the things she could not do. A future defined by can’t instead of can. It was A Very Bad Thing. And it was all my fault. 

And now, a year later, I am glad of the diagnosis. Because it means we can all put our energy into who Little Person is becoming, instead of banging our heads against a glass wall and thinking there is something wrong with us. Without the diagnosis, either she was an uncooperative fearful brat, or we were bad parents.  With the diagnosis, we have tweaked things and now we look like a normal family. Some days. 

Autism might seem like a big thing, but it’s in the little things that it matters. Parenting autism is a million small moments of remembering that she does not see the world as I see it. And yet her world is no less than mine. 

She has shown me a beauty in the world that I would not have seen without her “tricky brain” as we call it. I have watched her grow, and learn, and try, and overcome. I  have sat in the corner and cried because people are idiots and this is such hard work. I have worked hard to prepare her for things, fully expecting a meltdown, only to have her sail through.  I have been sideswipe by meltdowns so huge it has taken a week to recover. 

Little Person has the kind of autism where it doesn’t look like she has autism. It’s exhausting for her and for me. But knowing that this is what we are dealing with means we can make better decisions now for the future. 

The autism diagnosis does not make things easy. But I think somehow, it makes things easier. Because at the very least,you get to stop pretending you know what you’re doing. 

​A poem for #Somme100 

​A poem for #Somme100
Seven Thirty.
Morning of the first.
Guns fall silent.
Boys ready.
Whistles blown.
Over the top they go.
For glory
For honour
For King and for country
Over the top
They go.
By days end
Sixty thousand dead & wounded.
By Days end.
By battles end
Five months later
Over one million dead, wounded or captured.
Our boys from Blighty & the commonwealth.
Never to return.
Never the same.
The bloody Somme.
A place of no return.
By Colin Nicholl

Letter To My Blog

Dearest Blog,

This is not good-bye. I will come back. Less frequently now, and for different reasons.

You helped me to make sense of some very difficult times in my life. Together we have watched dreams die, skated around the edge of depression, and grieved for so many lost opportunities. Together, we remembered what is most important in life, and that it sometimes doesn’t look the way we think it should. You helped me find my voice. You helped me have the courage to use my voice. And so it’s bittersweet that I won’t be around much for a little bit.

Because I am editing the novel, you see. And editing, it’s a different sort of writing. As I look through my first draft, I see so many times when I just wrote it as little blog posts one after the other. The problem is, it doesn’t flow then. So it’s difficult to commit to this kind of writing and that kind of writing. Sometimes you have to make a choice.

But knowing me, I will still pop back from time to time. Something will happen and I will have to write about it. Always does.

But I don’t want to write a blog because I should write a blog. I don’t want to write about marriage (which is hard, but also rewarding), or parenting (which is hard, but also rewarding), or having a special needs child (which is hard, but also rewarding). I don’t need this outlet for my creativity – I knit socks, and crochet blankets, and am even starting to design patterns and teach other people to crochet (never thought that would happen). And I have real live people to talk to, who listen, and accept me. Some of them even believe in me.

So much has changed in a short time, and I have to concentrate on other things for now. But I will be back. Don’t you worry. I will definitely be back.


The Eye Gel Tells Me So (Or, A Love-Filled Life)

Just over a month ago, I went to have my eyes checked. Turns out, in addition to needing a change to my lenses and very nearly needing reading glasses, I have really dry eyes. My tears aren’t up to the job, apparently. So I now have two sets of pills to remember to take and eye drops. Or eye gel as it says on the pack.

The eye gel is supposed to be three to four times a day. That doesn’t happen. And then I forgot to refill the prescription, so long story short, if you put eye gel that has expired in your eyes, it really stings. Also, when you have been using eye gel and you stop, it’s like your eyes are being stabbed with teeny tiny razor blades all the time, and you find yourself thinking “But it never used to hurt this much.”

Which got me thinking. Because sometimes we can be like that with love. We can be all dried up and wrinkly and not realising that love is something missing from our lives. And then something happens, and we are richly drowning in love – not that smushy romantic movie kind of love, but the kind that really makes a difference. The wash your dishes when you’re ill kind. The accepting that you’re different but not letting that be an excuse for bad behaviour kind. Hard working, hard wearing, generously applied. Like tears are supposed to be. Making it easier to see – all that is both good and bad in the world.

But then, we get lazy. Or offended. Or whatever. And the love stops. And the equivalent of the eyes drying up happens. And it hurts like crazy. And what do we say? I tell you what we tend to say – “Oh, well, it’s love’s fault. If I hadn’t loved, I wouldn’t be hurting now.” And then we go back to wrinkly glary lives, where we can’t see anything if the sun shines too brightly.

Let’s live lives abounding in love – not just occasionally standing under a waterfall, but generously, frequently, applying love wherever and whenever we can.

Gratitude And The Sore Ankle

Sofas are dangerous. And not just because when you sit down in them when you’re tired you feel like you will never move again. Sofas are dangerous because the other week, I was standing up from one, and I tripped over my toes, and hurt my ankle. I have been hobbling around for these last three weeks, or maybe longer. Sometimes I even have to use a walking stick. Sofas are dangerous. Ban al the sofas, before they hurt somebody else.

Or maybe carpets are dangerous. Maybe it’s because the floor was carpet that I tripped over my toes. Never mind that carpets have cushioned my feet for every year of my life, and allow us to play safely as a family, and keep us warm. I tripped over because of the carpet. All carpets should be pulled up and burned. Stone floors all the way. Okay, maybe not stone floors. But not carpet.

Or maybe it wasn’t the carpet. It was actually my toes that caused the trouble. They got caught on something, somehow, and pulled under my foot, and then my foot got dragged down until something in my ankle popped. So if I hadn’t had toes, I wouldn’t have tripped over them. Toes should be banned. Maybe, as soon as a child has learned to walk, we should remove their toes, just to be on the safe side. We could replace them with detachable toes, so if you are going to trip like I did, the toes just detach, and save you an injury. Definitely. All the toes’ fault.

Or maybe, it was just that I was tired, and you know, physics. Maybe it’s because I’m somewhat double-jointed and therefore prone to these sorts of injuries. (The plus side, I have excellent party tricks….) Maybe the point isn’t about ooh, got to make sure I never get an ankle injury again. Maybe it’s about learning to look after the injured ankle.

I have been trying to learn to live a grateful life, and the ankle incident reminded me of something. Sometimes you just have to keep going. Be grateful for ice-packs and walking sticks and the opportunity to catch up on sedentary projects. Be grateful for friends and family that support you, and ready meals. And yes, be grateful that it doesn’t mean getting rid of the sofa, or the carpet, or my toes.


Staying Positive

Turns out I am doing a slightly better job of staying positive than I realised.  Especially considering I gave up on trying to stay positive and decided to concentrate on getting through and finding moments where I could.

I was going to write a negative post you see.  About how special needs parenting is hard and then you feel bad about it being hard and then that just makes it harder. I started it and everything. And then I read what I had written and realised it wasn’t true.

Don’t get me wrong, parenting Little Person is more challenging than it would be if she didn’t have a different sort of brain. But I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t feel all heroic either. Mostly, I just feel messy. And that’s really not a problem. Because I guess Little Person feels messy too.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling how you think you should feel. Or trying to make yourself feel like you think you should feel. And there’s a million people with an opinion on how you should feel.

The online people do not know how you should feel.
Your friends and support system do not know how you should feel.
Sometimes, the worst thing you can do is think about how you should feel.

I have made a few changes to my thinking in recent months.  I have worked hard to find a space where Little Person would be accepted and happy, where I would be accepted, where The Dude would be happy. I sort of forgot about accepting myself. Letting myself feel the feelings.

And here I am having felt all the feelings.  And somehow, positive at the end of it. Who knew?

Gratitude And The Art Of Practice

This is supposed to be my year of gratitude and as lessons go, I’m not doing very well. I told myself that the main reason I hadn’t written about gratitude for the last two weeks or so was because I was too busy. But I’m not convinced.

I think maybe I just didn’t have anything to say. Except I did have things to say, but they weren’t nice things. Like how annoying it is when people don’t appreciate your effort. Or some contrived list or other, because I had to say something, because it was Monday and that’s when I write about gratitude, don’t you know?

So basically, I got side-tracked on my gratitude journey by the writing about gratitude journey. I turned it into a “Thing”, when it was only meant to be a part of the journey. It’s easily done. It’s also easily solved. (I hope.)

The problem is when the thing you enjoy becomes the thing that stresses you out, the thing that has to be done rather than the thing you want to do. It stops being about the process and starts being about the end result. The easiest way to fix that is to focus on the process – to always be practising and never actually doing (obviously, you would be doing, but in your head it would just be another practice).

This has application in the area of gratitude too – when it’s all about the process, all about the learning and the being and the trying, it’s easier to see the positives. When you are less afraid of doing it wrong, or running out of steam, or any number of negative things it is easier to find the moments of gratitude.

If it’s all just practice, you’re not trying to be perfect, you’re just trying to be better.

And that’s something to be grateful for.

Tea, Lists And Getting The Important Things Done

I was thirsty. So I did what any sensible mother would do and asked Little Person if she wanted a drink. (Bonus points for sharing a joke. Minus points for thinking “Oh, look, we’re sharing a joke.”) And went downstairs to get the drink. Except then I saw I hadn’t folded the clothes.

Clothes folded, I went to turn the kettle on, and decide what kind of tea I wanted. Remembered a conversation about the various types of tea I drink. Decided to take a photo of all the different choices to make my friend laugh. Went to get Little Person’s cup out of the cupboard. Spotted some clothes on the drying rack. Folded them onto the top of the laundry pile (sort of). Went back to get Little Person’s cup, spotted the ketchup from last night still on the table. Put ketchup away. Finally managed to get Little Person’s cup. Couldn’t put it on the counter because all the boxes of tea were in the way. Realised I hadn’t boiled the kettle.

Eventually, Little Person got her drink, and I got my tea, and then I looked in the bedroom and saw a pile of clothes on the floor. In the exact place I had cleared a pile of clothes from the floor yesterday. And I got grumpy, went to put them in the laundry basket and realised why they were on the floor.

And suddenly, I wished I was one of those people who could just follow the morning clean-up routine and just have a tidy house. Make a list, tick it off, and everything gets done. If there’s a routine for getting everything tidied and put away, I have tried it. But inevitably the whole thing falls apart.

Because, real life. And maybe even, real priorities. Or maybe even, I don’t like doing things when I’m tired. So all the fancy teas in the world, and all the nice lists in the world, aren’t going to get the job done. Sometimes you just have to realise that you have to do life tired.

But on the plus side, all the laundry is folded.