This is what Autism looks like.

On April 2nd, some of the most iconic landmarks in the world (including Blarney Castle!) will light up blue to raise awareness of Autism. In Ireland, 1 in 100 people have Autism and for reasons unknown, it is becoming more and more common.

Autism is a spectrum disorder which means it can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Basically, no two people with Autism are the same.

Having a child diagnosed with Autism is an extremely traumatic event in any parents life. They say initially, the parents grieve the loss of the child. Will he ever go to the local mainstream school as I visualized? Will he play sports? Will he drive a car? Will he ever get married? Hopes and dreams are initially dashed and parents experience grief. The future becomes very uncertain. Naturally as parents we dream about our children’s future. As an Autism parent, you learn to look at things day by day.

Autism parents everywhere want you to be aware of Autism. Why? Because children with Autism grow to become adults with Autism. And these adults belong in society as much as you and I.

The child in the playground who wont wait his turn. The kid in the supermarket covering his ears and saying ‘mmmmmm’ loudly. The little boy in the play center playing alone, spinning in circles. Is this what Autism looks like?

The little girl throwing a ‘tantrum’ with her mum in the queue in front of you, holding up the whole shop. Is it a tantrum? Or Autism meltdown?

Please do not judge that parent. It may be Autism, and if it is, they are going through hell right now and your tutting or judgmental staring does not help.

The little kid who has his head in the iPad while mum sips a coffee? Don’t judge mum. Sure, too much iPad is bad but in a crowded place it can help this little guy block out all of the loud noises which cause him pain. And trust me, this mum deserves her cup of coffee.

So how do I know? Because I am an Autism mum. I have written this article to raise awareness. I am using my blog to raise awareness. If just one of you reads this and knows a little bit more about Autism, my work here is done.

Autism is a condition, it does not define a person. My son has Autism, I chose not to refer to him as autistic. Why? A wise friend of mine explained this really well – if Autism were the flu, would you say that your son is the flu? Or that he has the flu?

I want my child to grow up in a world where people will be aware of his challenges. An Autism mum’s biggest fear is what happens when I am gone? This is why we light it up blue every year, to let people know that autism exists.

So what does autism look like you might ask? It looks like me and you. It’s the little girl next door. It’s the man waiting at the bus stop. It’s the teenager you just walked past.

In my family, it’s cheeky, mischievous, gorgeous, bright eyed and handsome. It’s smiley, energetic and extremely affectionate. It’s just so handsome I could eat it!!

And I don’t care if I am biased. Because it’s my boy. x

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It’s just a touch of colic

My little girl turns 3 months today – that milestone that is supposed to bring sleep and a more settled baby. I have been counting down the days to this, because we had a ‘colicky baby’. 4 hours screaming a night on average, nothing could settle her. Passing her from mammy to daddy and back again. Rocking, bouncing, swaying, putting her in the buggy…..you name it, we tried it and it failed. I became a Google monster, looking up everything and anything, desperate for a cure. In desperation I turned to my doctor and was told ‘it’s just a touch of colic’ and she will grow out of it.

This enraged me. How can anyone be sure? What is colic anyway? I was not happy to see my little girl suffer and scream in pain. I’m not a first time mum so knew it wasn’t just wind. I persisted and the formula trials began….Comfort, Anti Reflux and then Colief…nothing. Until we tried one last effort – Neocate. It’s a prescription formula that has the cows milk protein broken down (amino based). I suggested it to my doctor after much research. Within 2 weeks I had a new baby.

Neocate is not the answer to everyone’s sleepless newborn nights, that’s not my reason for writing this post. I want to reach out to anyone going through Colic, to say to you to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to take no for an answer. My little girl cannot digest milk protein and was in agony (now confirmed by a paediatrician) so I’m glad I pushed.

I’d also like to share some tips and thoughts that might help anyone in those first few months:

  • Colic or whatever is causing the non stop crying is not your fault.
  • Long crying spells with a baby are damn hard, and will test you and your relationship. Admit how hard it is and have a good cry about it if you need with a friend.
  • Try to remember that all things will pass – visualise the future when you baby is no longer drinking bottles!
  • We all Google symptoms etc – it’s ok to read but but best to check things with a professional
  • Ring formula company help and info lines – they usually can tell you more than some doctors! A good pharmacist is also essential, I found Boots great.
  • Get on line in forums with other mums. Swap ideas with your friends. Speak to your public health nurse.
  • Trust your gut mum/dad…..the primary care giver knows baby best. Have confidence in yourself.
  • Most important – take care of your health, mental and physical. Your little baby cannot get through the this without your love and care and reach out for help when it is needed.

We still don’t sleep through the night in our house, we still feed every 3 hours! But gone are the screaming sessions, and bottle time is not a battle ground. Now we just have to get through the teething….🙄😊

Blarneymum meets Pennys -denimgate update!

As a follow up to my blog post on the sizing of denims, the customer service team from Pennys invited me to meet their management team in store to discuss further. I scheduled a meeting in my local store – the only time I had free was a Saturday afternoon so
I have to appreciate the guys for making time on what is surely their busiest day!

I met with the Assistant Manager of the store and two senior staff from women’s fashion. They had prepared a number of samples from their denim collection to show me. This allowed us to contrast the various fits and materials. All of the ones I looked at were ‘skinny fit’ and all a size 12. I also brought the notorious pair that I had bought to show the management team what my issue was.

When I showed the team the pairs I had bought they at first suggested that it was the material not having the stretch like other pairs but when I brought to their attention to the leg of the denim they could see the issue. They have agreed that the size was incorrect and will speak with their buyers on this.

Having tried a variety of their denims, I can say that all of the size 12’s did fit. There were of course some variations but that is to be expected. The pair I bought must have been wrongly labeled.
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I did share the feedback that I had received from the blog about the variance in sizing in Pennys and the guys took it on board. The team seemed to take customer feedback very seriously – they often take feedback direct from the shop floor (good and bad) so were very open to hearing about the various comments on the post.

A few things I have learned from my visit.

  • The denims have different waist heights for example, mid rise and high rise which will create a different fit.
  • When comparing, it is important to measure using the crotch as the starting point.
  • Different materials will fit differently – there is one type called super stretch which I tried in a 12 and it was too big for me!
  • Stock for the floor is ordered by demand – managers need to keep a close eye on what it moving at all times. When you think of the variety in Pennys, that is a lot of orders!

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The visit was a successful one – I got to show them first hand an issue with their sizes and they showed me that they take their customers opinions very seriously. I also found it very interesting to get a glimpse of how the Pennys ‘machine’ actually works. The buying process is extremely complex given the selection of products in store.

I must say that I am relieved that there was no ‘Wanted’ sign with my face on it in the staff room (lol)! The management that I dealt with were extremely nice, they listened and I never felt rushed.

Will I buy in Pennys again? Absolutely. But they better keep their sizes in check – Blarneymum is watching…..

The Kingsley Spa – relaxation at its best!

I recently had the ultimate mammy relaxation day – a full spa day compliments of hubby dearest. This was actually my xmas pressie and I only got around to using it in March! I decided to go it alone as I really wanted to switch off from the world – a great decision. By the time I left the Kingsley, I was floating.

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I booked the Journey through Nature which is a full day package. I decided to take lunch first at 12, then use the amazing health centre (more on this in a bit) and finally have my treatments at 2.30pm.

Lunch is served in the K – Lounge which can be a little bit too close to the reception area, depending on where you are seated. Some seats have a beautiful view of the River Lee, mine was adjacent to a wall and a large group of loud, older gentleman. Lunch itself though was very nice and there was a good selection. If there was a tea and coffee option afterwards it would have been perfect.

The Health Centre – this was simply fantastic. I left the health centre feeling like I had completed my spa day! Firstly you have the indoor pool, which I had all to myself for a few strokes (OK, so I did the deadman float and a few doggy paddles). Then I moved to the outdoor hot tub which overlooks the river. This was bliss. I could have stayed here all day.

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Next up I moved indoors to the Thermal suite which includes a Finnish sauna, Turkish baths, jacuzzi, aromatherapy steam rooms….all completed with a thermal lounger at the end. This finished me off completely – this has to be the best facility I have come across! I was actually zonked by the time my therapist came to find me; she nearly had to carry me back to the spa 😊

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Treatment time!

We began with a sweet orange and ground argan oil scrub, which I wanted to eat it smelled so good. Everything here is organic too. My skin was really soft afterwards. Next I got a back, neck and shoulder massage. This as a proper massage that really worked out any knots or tension in my back. I personally hate when a massage is too light and of no benefit so this really suited me. Linda, my therapist got it just right.

The final treatment was blissful – a facial using caviar, champagne and pearl by Elaine. I’m usually not a fan of facials (I know! I just don’t enjoy them) but I am now converted. This seemed to go on forever and by the end of this I was in a trance. Elaine brought me to the relaxation area and all I wanted to do was close my eyes. Next time I am so booking a room so I can head off to bed!

I really and truly loved the Spa at the Kimglsey and have instructed husband that all future occasions requiring presents result in a voucher. It would be an excellent location for a break to Cork as it is only a few minutes from the city centre. Or for someone like me, it was ideal as I only had a short drive home afterwards.

The thermal suite is one of a kind and really made the day for me. And I have to commend the staff also – I sometimes find spa staff to be a little bit ‘false’ but the guys in the Kingsley are warm and friendly. I must mention Melissa who greeted me when I first arrived; I was met with a natural welcome as opposed to rehearsed ‘welcome to our spa’ spiel.

If you would like to know more, I have included a link to the spa below. I will definitely be coming back as soon as I can convince my husband to take the kids for the day again 😀😀

http://www.thekingsley.ie/spa-packages/#