Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Archive for December 2012

2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

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Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 40,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 31, 2012 at 11:11 am

Wordless Wednesday 25 Dec 12

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Christmas Kisses aren't always welcome!

Christmas Kisses aren’t always welcome!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Christmas Traditions

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If someone were to ask me what my Christmas traditions were, up until last week I’d have probably said moping around on Christmas Day lamenting at how it wasn’t traditional.  Bah humbug!helpers

I always loved Christmases growing up in England, and spending the holidays in the heat of the southern hemisphere far away from family has always led to much homesickness.  But this year is different.  Maybe it is because we got to have a trip to England this year.  Maybe it is because we feel more settled here now, with me working, and the kids settled and happy in school.  Maybe because this is the year I decided we’d start our own tradition.

cookiesI have these cookies that I always make at this time of year.  I wouldn’t say they’re the best cookies in the whole entire world, but that is only because I let other people do that.  See, I’m humble!  When I make these, I’m reminded how we can never, ever let our kids near crack, booze, or anything else as addictive, but nearly as wholesome as my cookies.

The kids like to help with making them, almost as much as they like to help to eat them all afterwards.  But this year, after allotting a couple for each member of the family, and Santa his traditional portion, I decided the rest of the batch was going to go elsewhere.

You see, I’m not the only ones who doesn’t get to spend time with their family.  The guards at our consulate work year-round to keep us safe.  We don’t have Marine Security Guards here, so these guys are on duty constantly.  What’s more, they are the friendliest bunch of people on this planet, and always, always, make time for our kids and their quirks.  Because many of these guys’ families are in villages far from Johannesburg, working on Christmas Day means that they don’t get to spend time with their loved ones for the holidays.

So, new tradition- they get the cookies.  We wrapped them nicely, stuck the one nice photo of our family we’ve taken in years on them (which is also masquerading as a Christmas card), put Santa hats on the kids and drove to the Consulate to deliver our goodies.  It felt great- even better than my belly feels with those delicious cookies inside them.  So there you have it- new tradition.

Now, we have one more R & R trip during our tour to South Africa, and we plan on going to the UK for it.  So I won’t be able to deliver cookies on the day here, but I’m thinking that there’ll be a police station, or a hospital, maybe a homeless shelter where the cookies would be appreciated.  I have to do it- it is traditional!

So then I was thinking, because these cookies are too good not to share, what if I gave you the recipe*?  And maybe you’d also share them with someone who has to work, or who is protecting all of us day in, day out, with no holiday break.

So although I’m really not a food blogger, here is the recipe using US measurements:cubbychef

Makes about 3 dozen (ish).

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
8 oz white chocolate chips (or whatever you want, and it doesn’t have to be precise at all).

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine flour, cocoa, soda and salt in medium mixing bowl
3. In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
4. Beat in eggs one at a time
5. Blend in flour mix
6. Stir in choc chips / peppermint patties
7. Roll into balls then flatten onto baking sheet
8. Leave space between each cookiewrapped
9. Bake 8-10 mins until set
10. Cool 1 min
11. Transfer to racks with spatula

*Slight note here: this is my adaptation from an original recipe and I have no idea whose.  I found it in an old cookbook at my mother-in-law’s house before I was married.  I have adapted it a little over the years, and it is a very forgiving dough that works at different altitudes and lets your play around with different chocolate chips etc.

I hope you enjoy them, but I really hope you share them.  It turns out that is what Christmas is all about- no matter where you happen to spend it!

 

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Happy Holidays

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays- treasure your most precious gifts!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 25, 2012 at 11:18 am

No Distance

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For the last week or so, our family has been on vacation.  So when the tragedy in Newtown, CT took place, I followed the aftermath through my phone on Facebook, and occasional news headlines that made it through to South Africa.  I wasn’t able to blog, and refrained from a brief statues update when that couldn’t possibly convey the range of emotions I was experiencing- both upon hearing the news, and then observing the media reactions.

When you live a life like ours, this feeling of distance is always present.  I’ve been a US citizen for five years now, which is often deemed not American enough by some to comment on news or politics- even when, as a federal employee, it affects me more directly than most.  And then again, if I mention something happening in my native UK, I’m dismissed as someone who hasn’t lived there for years.  If I try to explore what is happening in South Africa, the country where I now live, I’m told I can’t possibly understand.

I don’t belong anywhere.  I feel for everywhere.

Like so many on hearing of the shooting at Sandy Hook, I thought of my own children.  Pudding is also in kindergarten.  It could have been her.

We don’t know why Adam Lanza killed the children and staff of Sandy Hook, but this hasn’t stopped intense speculation.  The media suggested that the shooter had Asperger’s Syndrome, and within days this association of violence, murder, and ASD was disseminated through news networks and across social media.  It didn’t matter of there was a formal diagnosis or not, here was a cause that people were willing to accept.  Blog posts have sprung up with family members outing their autistic relatives as potential mass murderers, and before long we have something like witch trials.  Facebook pages full of hate speech, designed to intimidate autistic individuals and those who love them.

Adam Lanza may have had Asperger’s Syndrome.  We don’t know.  But violence is not a criteria for that diagnosis.  Autism was not the cause.

I read many interesting rebuttals during the last week, but they still didn’t always sit well with me.  Many wrote that this didn’t happen because of autism, but rather mental illness.  Long before I became the mother of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, I worked as a carer for adults with various physical disabilities and mental health problems.  I can honestly say that spending as much time as I did with people with such diagnoses as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, I felt no fear.  As is the case with autistic individuals, those with psychiatric disorders are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the ones carrying them out.  What’s more, both are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than are neurotypicals.

On social media, I saw many parents who said they now feared to send their children to school, and were calling for armed guards.  I live in a ‘critical crime threat’ country, where my children do go to schools protected by armed guards.  Believe me, it doesn’t make me worry any less.

We do know that two of the child victims at Sandy Hook were diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  I can only imagine their parents’ heartache trying to come to peace with their devastation as innocent individuals are demonized for their autism diagnosis.  I’ve read several account of friends with autistic children fearing to send them to school- not because of the risk of gun crime, but the very real threat of bullying as a fall out from all of this.  There is potential for so many more victims here if we aren’t careful.

While I don’t want to get into a gun control debate, I have lived in a country where they were banned following a similar incident, and one where shootings are commonplace.  I know where I feel safer.

Perhaps having a more global perspective changes the way you view things.  One thing is certain though- I’m completely unable to distance myself from what happened last week.  I don’t know why this happened, but I know that unless we are careful with where we lay the blame, there is vast potential for many more innocent victims.

Sometimes you can only dispel myths with truth, hate with love, and the ugly with natural beauty.  Some friends created the Autism Shines Facebook Page as a way to challenge these misconceptions of autism.  I urge everyone to check it out, and perhaps contribute as an autism advocate or ally.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm

This is autism

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thisisautism-pudding

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

Posted in Photography

Wordless Wednesday 12 Dec 12

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IMG_2821

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 12, 2012 at 6:35 am