The fridge is certainly full. We had pre-ordered our food for Christmas Day and picked it up today - Christmas Eve.

Santa looking fir his dinner

The last few years we had spent Christmas away at Butlins and last year at Christmas we thought we would do it this year at home. That said, just before Butlin's decided to close for Christmas we did look at some amazing and tempting deals - but we would have needed to go yesterday and missed out on our lovely food we ordered.

When we decided to not go this year, and decided to order food, we thought we would splurge and buy some nice M&S Christmas selection. Though I have to say that when we went out to the local Lidl last night we thought we could have go the entire Christmas Day dinner for less than we paid for the Turkey Crown - doh... But it was a little treat to ourselves after the shocking year of 2020.

Christmas 2020 has to be something to remember and enjoy. A nice Christmas lunch followed by a lovely walk - if not wet and raining. Just incase we all end up in a lockdown.

But, this all means that for today our fridge is just chocker - full to the brim. Full to almost falling out. In fact, after I took the image for this post, we added another 4-5 items. It's like a game of jenga each time we go to the fridge.

Now, I know this is not technically a ASD post. I just wanted to do a quick post and say - jeez that fridge is full.

One thing I can say is, that, we all went out for a lovely hour at the garden centre before our food pickup and little Mr loved the time out - looking at a few of the decorations - though more enjoying the juice and cookie.

Anyhow, my real intension here is to say I hope you all have a lovely Christmas 2020 and a brilliant New Years.

Let us hope that 2021 brings us all a little more fun and joy.

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Ok, so it shows that I've had a bit of a free day from work today, though free is probably the wrong word as busy with the family. I've had some fre thought and came up with a self challenge of writing this post on my mobile phone.

It's not the greatest idea for a post as it is literally about "can I write this post on my phone"!

Now. I'm pretty sure that in the past I've written posts on my previous phones but I'm unsure. I'm unsure if I wrote some, all. Did I create the featured image? There are lots of if and buts rattling around - so I thought dedicating a post about writing a post on the phone while writing the post would be good symmetry.

It also means I can write it as it happens. Real time, well for me, writing.

What's the typing like?

In the past I've written posts on an iPad which is great as keyboard is big, well compared to a phone. See, I suffer with chunky-finger-litus... I don't have small hands ans certainly not small fingers.

I often find that my texts to people contain strange words. Words were my fingers mistype and the phone calculates the word to something strange or out if context.

Do, I do find myself being a little more careful while typing a full post on this tiny keyboard.

Don't get me wrong, I have a Samsung phone with something like a 6.5in screen, so the keyboard is quite big compared to phones in the past. It's still easy to mistype.

However, this issue is proving to be a bit of a bonus because I am taking more time abs actually reading what I am writing.

So, type wise it is a little slower and there are some miss types. Over all though it's not a bad experience.

That said, the real challenge would be typing with little Mr pulling at me.

Next challenge, the featured post

Typing done, well not quite. Next challenge is making the featured post. Now I use a service I paid for to do mine, but it is easy enough to use canva or similar on the phone.

If you were going for a photo then you could just do with the phone camera dynamically, just when you needed it.

However... this is why my challenge failed. Now, if I were using canva I could have created the image, infact I should have, I may even do. I use a service called RelayThat. I use them because I bought a life time deal and it is easy and simple to create featured images all the same.

However, RelayThat says it does not support smart devices when I try to edit an image. Fail!

If I were to rely on it for my post image creation I would fail any challenge. If I only had my phone to write posts then I would fail. Which is disappointing as today's phones are just powerhouses for computing power.

This phone is so much more powerful than any of my computers last century. Just sounds better when say that way. I had many including Intel based systems and this phone would leave them in its smoke.

As it turned out, Canva worked well.

So, the answer is yes

Yes I can create a post on my phone. It is possible to blog on a phone, though designing your page maybe a little beyond capability at the moment. Though I'm sure its not too far off being completely mobile capable.

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As we now arrive in October, the weather has taken a down turn and we start to get more wet and windy days. Little Mr, like many kids, loves being out doors. He loves to play in the park, he loves to play in the garden and he loves to just get our for walks.

With the wind and rain hitting us hard - doing these things becomes more difficult. Instead of being able to play out every day, it becomes once every 3 days, 5 day, 1 day on the weekend and so on.

So; what can you do to help ease the stress and frustration that accompanies this lack of getting out? Well, we are still trying to figure that out. We still try and get out as much as possible when possible - but here are the 3 things we do on days that it's just too horrible outside to get out for a walk.

1. Get out for a drive

I've said above that little Mr just loves to get out. He loves nothing more that a good walk around a country park, playing on park swings and climbing and just being out in the fresh air.

However, on days where it is just too wet and windy - we still get out but in the car. We find an hour or so drive around areas where trees and green are help. 

Now, we're lucky enough to live close enough to the New Forrest to get that green - but if you don't I'm sure you may know streets that are lined with trees? 

To be honest, he enjoys a drive even if it's round housing estates as he just enjoys getting out of the house. This alternative means he can see and be out while not actually out walking in the wet and nasty weather.

2. Bring some of the outdoors indoors

So, as well as walking around outdoors - little Mr loves doing certain activities. He loves to play with leaves, pebbles and so on.

There are certain activities we can simulate in doors. We can make pretend leaves out of thin paper. We can use beans as pebbles. We buy some water beads for him to play with in a bowl. 

We look at all the activities he may do other than walking and just think of what we can do as an alternative.

3. Finding places to visit

This may find simple or difficult, but we look for places we can visit for a walk. This could be something like a museum for example or just a shopping mall.

Little Mr had never really liked soft play indoor areas. Your child may love them so that is a great alternative. For us we have to get a little more creative. 

Little Mr does not really enjoy shopping. However, walking round a large shopping mall is something he does enjoy. Just the art of walking around a big space where there are lots of things, and people, to look at.

He also enjoys trying to spot and drag us to the nearest coffee shop he recognises.

Visiting a shopping mall may not be your first choice, well when you not looking to spend money. However, the big open space maybe just enough to fill the need to be outdoors for a walk.

There are other things!

Now, the 3 activities above are not all that we do when stuck indoors on a wet day. The day contains far more activities that these, including play time, music time and much more.

However, the 3 above mentioned activities are our attempts at alternatives to getting out for playtime at the local park and walking around the local country park.

You may find other, better, alternatives that work for you. What it really comes down to is taking a moment, looking at what your children enjoy doing, and then thinking of how you can replicate this indoors.

That is what we did. We know what little Mr, and not so little Miss, enjoy doing outdoors. We know what they enjoy and tolerate indoors. So we have come up with an alternative set of things to do in he wet, colder months.

One thing from the above 3 we would do daily is the drive. That said, the other things we are really grateful of is school. Little Mr loves school and it gives him a place he can do lots of other activities 5 days of the week.

So, your task now is to take out a pen and paper and write down just what activities your children enjoy and then think of the alternative you are going to do.

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First off, it's been a little while since I have written a post - so many things going on.

I'm not sure I let everyone know, and it's funny that I title this as the 2020 year of change when 2019 was a big year of changes too.

First off, in 2019 I sent through 3 jobs. The first one I had been with for 6 years but was made redundant. I then searched around and got offered a role working on a new product using C# and ASP.Net.

Unfortunately, that one didn't work out. We released the first product but the company didn't fit with me. So I handed in my notice to start with a 3rd company who writes business systems produce in C# and C++.

As you can imagine - that was a lot of change throughout the year. The bonus is, this new company where I have now been for 3 months is walking distance - well 20 minutes walk.

I also spent some time in Poland - the best part of a week - where we have an office. My first visit and I enjoyed it...

Anyhow, back to 2020.

What's happening in 2020

Well, the biggest change will be no so little Miss going up to senior school.

Last year she did a lot of work around the 6 weeks holiday where we worked towards her doing the grammar test. She passed that - plus an academic test at her 2nd choice school.

However, at the moment we are waiting to hear which school she does get into. Whichever one it is will still be quite a big change.

Whichever school it is means a change in our morning routines - I will have to drop her in while my wife does the afternoon run.

There will still be changes with little Mr in regards to school as he will progress through the classes as needed. They don't progress in an ordered fashion like at a mainstream school - he goes into the class that best suits his skills.

One other change we were contemplating this year was a house move - though I think (at least at the moment) that will want until 2021 or 2022 now.

Holiday breaks

The other thing we are trying in 2020 is something other than going to Butlins. We love Butlins but we have been quite a few times in the last 5 years.

It's time for a change - so we are going back to a place we have not been to for 10 years.

Holidays are always difficult. Little Mr is not good on planes - as you may have read in one of my earlier posts. We went to Spain a year and half ago which was the first time he had been back on a plane in 4 years. 

Needless to say, we are going to give it a few more years. This year though we are going to go on the ferry over to the Isle of Wight.

We last went there when not so little Miss was just 8 months old. We're even going back to the holiday park we stayed at then - though there have been a few changes.

New paediatrician

One other change is we see a new paediatrician for not so little Miss.

We've seen the same one for a few years now but she forward us on to someone that is more experienced with older children. She always believed that she was on the fence for ASD - so we hope this new doctor can tell us more or more definite.

That could prove to be a bigger change than any of the others this year. 

Change is good

So, there are plenty of changes - some to lifestyle this year. Change is good. Change is inevitable. As I said, I could have changed the title to 2019 and still listed many things.

The moral is, embrace the change. If you're just getting a diagnosis then embrace it. If you need to change lifestyle or school - embrace it.

Don't let anything get you down - always drive for a better life and an enjoyable one.

Embrace life and love everyone.

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I wanted to try something different today. I recently downloaded, recently being today, a new handwriting note-taking app for my iPad: one that's compatible with the Apple pencil. So I wanted to test this by writing a quick post using it.

As part of the app, it converts or can convert, the handwriting into text. Even my bad handwriting. At this point, it seems to be doing a very good job: even when I misspell things.

But why you may ask?

Why should I be trying this you may be wondering?

The truth is, although I am not the greatest writer: I do like to write. The best writing, or the best flow of writing, I find happens when I put pen to paper.

This isn't truly pen to paper of course: but it's amazing how close it is. And to be able to take my scribble and automatically get it converted... Well, to me, that's going to motivate me to write down notes move and share.

In can you wandered, before I go off on another tangent, this app is called Nebo.

I can see me using this app a lot more

New technology, when embraced, can help and improve our lines and our workflow.

I know this app is going to improve Mine.

As I said in the beginning, this post is really about testing this app and how capable it is. I think it's really capable of what I want and is going to allow me to be creative...

So I hope to start sharing more again.

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Note: Quick note before I begin. We decided to have a mobile free day, so I didn’t take any photos for this post, well apart from on at the end when they were in the splash zone. We wanted to concentrate on the day rather than taking lots of photos 🙂

Paultons Park

Just in case you don’t know, Paultons Park is a theme park here on the South Coast of England. It’s claim to fame, so to speak, is that it has Peppa Pig land - part of the theme park has rides inspired by Peppa Pig,

It’s not just Peppa Pig rides though, that is just one part of the theme park. There are lots of other big rides as well as other themed areas - one based around dinosaurs for example. You also get the regular rides like the log flume and roller coasters.

Hopefully, that gives you the setting 🙂 It’s just a regular theme park with a themed section or two. The great thing is that it’s accessible to both toddlers as well as older kiddies.

Great for disabilities

What we loved is that Paultons Park does a free queue jump facility for disabilities. Basically, you get to jump the queue once on each ride, which is especially useful if you have a child, like us, that has issues with waiting and also being in crowded places.

It’s easy to get - you simply take you diagnosis letter with you and go to see the nurse. They jot down your details, so that you don’t have to take your diagnosis letter again in the future, then give you the queue jump sheet which gets stamped at each ride.

Then, when you're at the rides, there are certain points you go to and wait and they come and take you on the ride. This was certainly useful and great as free.

The rides we did

The great thing about when we went was that it was an inset day for our kids. So it meant we could go on a day where most kids were in school which meant the park was a lot quieter. This meant less waiting. This also meant we only needed to use our queue jump facility on a couple of rides (most busy were the 2 Peppa Pig rides we did).

Last time we went to Paultons Park was a few years ago when little Mr was just under 900mm (their sizes), he could go on about half the rides then but not the best ones.

This time he’s over 110mm so he was allowed on around 95% (if not more) of the rides which meant we could get on more of the bigger fun-filled rides.

This was perfect as both our kiddies love the quick fast rides and believe me we could tell by how they were dragging us on. I think the favourite one of the day would be a coin toss between the log flume and a ride called the raptor - one of the newer rides. We went on both around 4 times. The great thing this time around is that little Mr was above the 1.1m height. That said, for any child under 1m, it's Free (taken from their website).

The splash zone

So, it was a blazingly hot day. The bad point is that we needed to buy drinks there. The good point is that if you take a water bottle, or juice bottle, to most (if not all) of the shops, cafes, etc. then they will fill up your bottle with tap water for free. This was a god send (so to speak) as we could drink lots of water. It's not too cold, at least wasn't on the day, just to warn you.

When we were close to going home we went to the splash zone. This is a smaller section where they have lots of water sprinklers going. Little Mr loves water play and as it was hot it was a great place to cool down. Don't forget to take trunks or a change of clothes though - we did plan ahead for this. It's also the only place I got an image as our locker we chose was right near this point. It really did finish off a great day.

Water Play At Paultons Park
Water Play At Paultons Park

What are my afterthoughts and advice

The biggest thing is, that, if you have a child with a disability - take your diagnosis letter along and get the free queue jump. It worked really well on the 3-4 rides we needed it for. As it was quiet we didn't need too much. I can imagine if we had gone on a day in the school holidays it would have been packed - so would have used more.

It certainly was a great day out, though each and every time we have been there we have had fun. This time round though, little Mr was tall enough for him to enjoy all the rides too.

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I can't believe it. We're just weeks away from the end of another school year and time to start preparing for the summer holidays.

As not so little Miss finished Year for and is ready to go up into Year 5 (her birthday is in November so she missed out on the year ahead); it will also be the end of the first year for little Mr.

He had done really well settling in, and loves going to school - we never had any problem what so ever. I think, what will be the issue is the 6 weeks break that will soon be upon us. We've always found not so little Miss gets bored after a couple of weeks, so we've always had to think of things - but the change in routine for little Mr is really going to hit hard (as will the going back to school after the 6 weeks).

So, we always do a few things in preparation for the 6 weeks holiday... which I will list now (as this is what this post is about 🙂 )

1) Days off work

So, my wife is a stay at home mom and is the carer for our son. As it goes, she did try a role recently but it didn't fit in with our needs for our son. So, I'm the worker in the house which means I miss out on quite a bit really. However, when it comes to the 6 weeks of holidays (and some of the end of term holidays also) I always pre-book many days off.

What I try to do is never work more than a 4 day week through the 6 weeks and many weeks I only do 3 day weeks. What this means is that I'm around so we can do 3-4 day weekend breaks and family events.

Quite often we will do at least one 4 day weekend in Butlins or a holiday park.

At least one of the weeks I take off fully. What we used to do up until 3 years ago - and something we are doing again this year - is go away on holiday for the week. This means that for a least 1 week of the 6 we're all off and we're away from the house discovering new things.

For the 6 weeks though, on the days I book off, we use these to get out and do family things - we find this is the best and top thing to prepare for, for the break.

2) Get away from the house

As I was saying above, we try to do short breaks (and 1 long one if we can). These short breaks maybe somewhere like Butlins or Haven or some other holiday park. It may be a stop in a travel lodge up in the Midlands visiting family.

Maybe we travel down the coast a little and stay in an inn. Getting away, where ever it may be, gives that new fresh feeling to the surroundings and allows us to go out and discover. Our kids look forward to doing things like this as the love discovering - as long as there is a coffee shop and ice cream around.

3) Plan places to visit

Maybe its a picnic at the beach. Maybe its a walk around the nearest ruin. Maybe its a trip to the park. Although we are quite spontaneous on many days out we do, what we like to do is think and plan places to visit. Putting dates and places in your diary or on the calendar firstly prepares the kids of changes to the routine, and also gives them something to look forward too.

We're lucky that we live near enough to the beach that we can get there in 5 minutes. When we live 80 miles away we just made sure we had the days down here planned out so we could get up and go.

4) Check out what events are around

We know that through July and August, every Thursday evening they have something going on at Poole Quay. There are street acts and it all ends with fireworks. We know this and we plan and do this every Thursday.

We also know that Bournemouth Air Festival is on. We choose a day we want to attend and go for a set period when the Red Arrows are on - as well as few other displays either side.

Check what events are going on near you, there are always so many things we all miss - things that our kids would love. It also gives you some time to enjoy too.

You may also find summer clubs in your search. Often they fall into the category or drop your kid off or stay and watch. Not so little Miss has a week-long Karate summer club for example - she loves her Karate.

Just spend a little time checking out the notice boards at your child's school as well as looking for local groups that may give you info on whats going on.

5) Theme parks

There, I've said it. This probably goes in with the days out. However, this is certainly something to put in your plan. We all know how well these go over and it is such an obvious thing to plan - but really goes down well.

There you go, enough said on that one - the bloody obvious choice 🙂

6) Family sleepovers

So, I've saved the best for parents for last. Family sleepovers. It surprises me how much our daughter loves to have a few days stay over at her gran's. They also live about 80 miles away so it's certainly one we have to play for.

This gives you more time to spend with your husband/wife. It also is amazing how much just a change of place for a few days excites kids, least our daughter. It's amazing how quiet our house used to be when it was just our daughter and doing this. Little Mr is a little more difficult so doesn't do the sleepovers - but our daughter still enjoys - probably partly due to it just being here.

The bloody obvious

So, many of the things I have mentioned above could be said as bloody obvious. What amazes me though, even through obvious, many people don't plan their time through the holidays and then spend half the morning deciding what to do.

If you've already planned in advance what you are going to be doing, then there will be no arguing or wasting half the day deciding and packing what you need

Plan to succeed. Plan to have fun and plan to make sure you don't get an 'I'm bored'...

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