Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week 47 of Craft Project a week: To the moon!

This week I started on some sewing for Christmas presents.  I always try to make presents for the kids for Christmas.  I have a few kids to sew for so I try to keep it relatively simple!  I saw this design recently and thought it was very cute.  It has a rocket on the front and on the back the Earth. 

A close up of the front
A close up of the back    

I made three of these and have another cut out to make for Jacob once I get another t-shirt!  There will be lots more sewing to do in the next few weeks...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chocolate Truffles (the healthy version!)

Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free

I'm experimented with a few different versions of these chocolate truffles before but this is the first time I've found a recipe that I've absolutely loved as soon as I tasted it.  No one would ever guess that these truffles were healthy!  The original recipe is from here.  I used the same ingredients but simplified it by chucking everything in the thermomix to blend up.  Easy!  The hardest bit was rolling them into balls (and I got the kids to help with that anyway). 

Chocolate Truffles

2 cups natural almonds
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp ground cinammon
1 tsp vanilla bean (I used vanilla bean paste)
16 dried dates
2 tbsp water
extra cocoa and coconut for dusting

Place almonds, cocoa, cinammon, vanilla and dried dates into thermomix.  Blend until finely ground (about 1 minute on speed 6) 
Add the water and mix until it comes together.
Roll into small balls and dust with cocoa or coconut - whatever you prefer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Visiting Tom at home after his surgery in 2004
I love my work and the students I work with but the hard bit about working at a school specifically for kids with physical disabilities and health impairments is that often these kids face complications and don't have a long life expectancy.  Sometimes it's hard to deal with but I've learnt to live in the present with these kids and enjoy each moment as it comes.

Yesterday though I had to say good-bye to a very special student of mine.  Almost 10 years ago I started work at the school where I am at the moment.  I had a class of 5 upper primary school students.  All confined to wheelchairs (except for one who could walk!) all non verbal and all with some degree of intellectual disability (although I think they understood a lot more than we ever gave them credit for).  It was a steep learning curve for me as a teacher.  I had come straight from uni with only a bit of voluntary work with special needs kids behind me

In my class was a boy named Thomas.  At first glance it didn't seem that he was capable of much.  He was quiet (or so I thought!) and had trouble keeping his head up and making eye contact.  But I learnt pretty quickly that this was all a bit of an act.  We used to joke in our class that Thomas was like this because he wanted to get out of doing any work.  Always the planner and schemer! 

Thomas quickly became my favourite as I learnt to understand and get to know him better.  I learnt that he had good body days and bad body days.  On a bad body day he would have trouble getting his head up and be quite sleepy.  But I always knew he would be listening because he would give a smile every so often.  And then there were times when I thought he hadn't been listening to something but he would all of a sudden just crack up with a big belly laugh as if to say 'I tricked you all'.  That used to make my day.

It was great seeing Tom on a good body day.  He would have his head up and smiles for everyone.  He had a bit of a reputation for squealing when he was excited too.  I used to hear him from the classroom as he was pushed down from bus bay in the morning (there's a fair distance to bus bay and a door in between so you get some sort of idea on how loud his squeals were!)  I always knew that things were right in the world when I heard Tom in the mornings. 

I quickly began to anticipate what Tom wanted or needed.  He had a communication book that he accessed with either his hands or his eyes depending on how his body was that day.  While we used his book I always felt that I knew what he was saying without it.  I used to be able to ask him a question and he would answer yes with a big smile.  Sometimes he would reach out and hold my hand with his long 'piano playing' fingers. 

Tom was also known to be a bit of 'lady's man' too.  In the class was a girl that he had grown up.  Tom and Giulia had a very special bond and had been together since playgroup.  It was so funny seeing them interact together.  Tom would often reach out and hold Giulia's hand.  I remember on one occasion when they were lying on the floor together Tom deliberately rolling over closer to Giulia and putting his hand on her as if to say 'she's mine!'  When I sat next to him and teased him about it he just gave an enormous grin. 

Of course there were hard times too.  Tom had epilepsy as well and there would be days when he would just go in and out of seizures.  I remember sitting in the classroom with him at times when all the other kids were out at lunch, keeping an eye on him while waiting for his mum to come and get him.  The amazing thing was that even though these seizures would take so much out of him he would always come out of one and give me a great big smile. 

Tom was 19 when he died and had graduated from school the year before.  I had him for 3 years in primary school and I honestly think that those 3 years of my teaching career have been the highlight.  I think back on all the wonderful memories of Tom and realise that he gave and taught me so much.  I think that Tom will always be remembered for the love he gave, the happiness he radiated and the joy he brought to so many people's lives.  It has been a privilege to be involved with Tom and his family. He was always have a special place in my heart.   

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Daddy made swirly bread!

Now that Jacob is gluten-free we've had to come up with bread alternatives for him.  Chris has always made our bread for us but gluten-free bread has presented him with some ummm, shall we say challenges?!  It's very sticky and hard to work with.  And it's pretty tasteless compared to regular wheat bread (although Chris is working on improving that too!)  Jacob is also very fussy about his food and finds it hard when things change (that's a kid with ASD if ever I saw one!)  The first loaf of plain white GF bread Chris made we were told tasted like poo (now there's a nice image!) but I did notice that Jacob kept eating it....Anyway, Chris used to make a marbled rye loaf that Jacob absolutely loved.  He would always request that Daddy made 'swirly bread'  When Jacob knew that he had to have special bread he asked Daddy if he could make him his own swirly bread.  And so good old Daddy agreed to attempt it.  The above photo is the end result.  I think he's done an awesome job.  And swirly bread has now become a staple in the freezer for Jacob.  I thought I'd share the recipe in case anyone wanted to give it a go...


Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free

This recipe makes two standard sized loaves.  The instructions are for two doughs - a white and a brown - which will be put together to create a marbled bread. 


White bread
520g gluten free white bread flour blend*
300g lukewarm water
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
60g seed mix (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds)

Brown bread
500g gluten free white bread flour blend*
310g lukewarm water 
20g cocoa
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
60g seed mix (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds)
Grind the seeds into a powder. 
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients
In another bowl combine the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix
Knead until the dough comes together (add more flour if needed).
Split the white bread dough into two and the brown bread dough into two (you will need one of each colour per loaf). 
Roll each piece of bread dough into a rectangle roughly the width of the bread tin. 
Place the brown bread dough on top of the white.
Roll into a tight spiral.  Place roll in tin, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size (approx 90mins)
Brush top with beaten egg.
Bake at 220C for approx 40mins or until golden brown.  

*we make our own bread flour blend by combining 450g white rice flour, 115g potato flour, 60g tapioca flour, 60g cornflour and 4 tsp xanthum gum. 

Week 46 of Craft Project a week: Pay it Forward Challenge Part 2

Hooray, I am finally up to date with my craft posts!  It's a good feeling (yes I know, I am sad!)  This week was finishing off my Pay it Forward Challenge.  This time I did an owl applique on the wheat bags.  He's pretty cute, don't you think? 

A close up of the owl
Unfortunately, I ran out of wheat to do the last bag and will need to order some more.  So people will need to wait a little bit longer for their wheat bags.  But they'll definitely be on their way by the end of the year!  I've just been over at Spotlight again today getting more bits and pieces for Christmas presents I am making.  So there'll be lots of crafty stuff happening on my blog from now until Christmas! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Poor Gideon

Our poor little boy has been in the wars lately.  Last Thursday he decided to put his finger in a bike chain and unfortunately a certain little girl started riding the bike.  It wasn't intentional, she had no idea his finger was in the chain (and I still don't think she realises what she did which I guess is a good thing) but there was some serious damage done to Gideon's finger.  I was inside at the time but when I heard his screams I knew that something was wrong from the way he was crying.  I rushed straight out and saw a very deep cut most of the way around his finger.  I panicked a bit (ok, a lot!) and rushed around trying to get things to stop the bleeding. 

I ended up taking him straight to the GP.  The first doctor there thought that it would need stitches but we checked with a second doctor who suggested the nurse at the clinic cleaned it up and then we'd take another look.  It was decided that the cut would be ok with steri-strips so it was bandaged up and splinted (just in case).  The GP wanted me to get xrays done to make sure there wasn't a fracture.  I never got around to organising an xray that afternoon as I had to pick Jacob up from school and had no one to mind the kids while I took Gideon for an xray.  I wasn't too worried though, he seemed happy enough once the finger was bandaged up so I assumed nothing was wrong. 

I decided to go in late to work on Friday and get the xray done on Gideon's finger just to make sure all was ok.  I really wasn't expecting to be told after the xray that he did indeed have a fracture there. The radiologist had spoken to the GP who had advised us to go to the Emergency Department so we were taken down there.

The doctor on duty had a look at his finger and it was then that I was told that he would most likely need to have surgery to fix the finger.  Today.  Not only that but it couldn't be done at the hospital were we were, we had to travel to a bigger hospital where they had a plastic surgeon who could work with such little fingers - eeek! 

Gideon after his operation, cannula still in and plaster on his right hand and arm
 So off we went to Box Hill Hospital for surgery - a bed had already been booked for Gideon on the paediatric ward.  As soon as we walked into the ward we were told that he would be having surgery in 10 minutes.  A bit of a shock to the system.  He was prepped and taken down to the operating suite.  By that stage he was overtired and getting really upset as he hadn't had a proper sleep that day.  Usually I would feed him to sleep but of course I couldn't breastfeed because he was about to have an anesthetic. 

It was very hard seeing him have the gas to be knocked out.  He was wrapped in a blanket and had to have the gas mask held over his mouth as he struggled.  All I could do was touch his face, tell him it was ok and cry.  It seemed to take forever before he was knocked.  Then I was taken outside to wait.

The doctor was out in literally 25 minutes and spoke to me briefly before he left.  All had gone well.  They had put Gideon's finger back in the right spot and he would have to have a cast on for 3 weeks.  It was still a little while longer before I could see him though but I was there as he woke up from the anesthetic.  He was very groggy and fell asleep again in my arms straight away. 

It took him a while to wake up properly but about half an hour after we were back in the ward he was awake and alert and eating again (he was pretty hungry considering he'd missed lunch!)  We thought at first we'd have to stay for 4 hours but we were allowed to go a couple of hours after the surgery. 

Now comes the challenge of keeping the cast on and relatively clean for the next three weeks!!  And hopefully we don't have any more injuries for a while now- surgery with a child that age is not something I want to go through ever again! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 44 & 45 of Craft Project a week: Pay it Forward Challenge Part 1

A while ago on facebook (when I was actually on facebook) there was a 'Pay it Forward' challenge going round.  The idea behind it was to do something nice for someone else and make something special for them (the item had to be handmade, it could not be purchased, and it had to be done by the end of the year).  The first 5 people to comment on your post would receive something handmade by you.  I made some Ergo suck pads for one friend earlier this year but was a bit stuck with what to make the other four.  It's taken me almost all of the year but I finally worked out what I wanted to make.
A close up of the bird applique
I loved the idea of making wheat bags for everyone - something that everyone would use at some stage.  But I thought plain old wheat bags would be a bit boring.  Then I had the great idea that I could put a little applique design on my wheat bags.  My first attempt didn't work so well (I did some flowers on a bag which I wasn't happy with - Esme ended up with that as a pillow for her dolls which she was pretty happy with!)  but I'm quite happy with how these ones have turned out. 

I have an idea for my next two wheat bags but you shall have to wait and see what that is ;) 
Related Posts with Thumbnails