Little Man, Big Steps: Watching my Son Grow Up

Sometimes it seems like Little Man is getting bigger every day. At the library he spent a good ten minutes practising walking properly up the steps without holding on to anything.

Little Man, Big Steps: Watching my Son Grow Up @allpastmidnight

And with only one shoe on too. Look at the concentration on his face

But he’s not quite confident enough to risk going down the steps like that yet.

Little Man, Big Steps: Watching my Son Grow Up @allpastmidnight

Much safer going backwards, Mum

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Curried Coconut Tofu Noodle Pot Recipe

Curried tofu and vegetable noodle pot @allpastmidnight

This is a variation on the prawn and miso noodle pot recipe that I posted a while back. This version is very slightly more labour-intensive — you have to dice the tofu! — but not by much, and I can see me posting a few more recipes like this because they are so simple and make lunch very quick and easy. Again, this recipe needs no cooking other than boiling a kettle.

Tofu originated in China, and, as well as being a good source of protein, it also contains all eight essential amino acids. It’s a source of iron and calcium, as well as manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. It may well provide the same sort of protection against cancer and heart disease as soya beans. It can be a little bland, but the good thing about this recipe is that you leave it to marinate overnight in the flavourings. I found it broke up a bit when I stirred the noodles, but it was still delicious. By all means replace it with whatever source of cooked protein you want.

Just as in the other recipe you should use noodles that require only soaking, rather than cooking. Alternatively cooked noodles could be used, but they’ll be ready to eat quicker.


1/2 a pack of silken tofu, diced
1/2 a sachet of creamed coconut (this is the sort I mean)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp Marigold bouillon powder
1 block of fine rice noodles
A couple of handfuls of frozen vegetables
A couple of spring onions, sliced

1. Put the tofu in the bottom of a heatproof jar. I used a large kilner jar which is ideal for this. Add the creamed coconut, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, curry powder and bouillon powder.

2. Squeeze the noodles through the top of the jar and top with frozen vegetables. If you’re preparing this in advance, there’s no need to defrost them. Add the spring onions, then seal the jar and place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

3. To serve, pour over boiling water and leave to soak for 4-5 minutes. Stir gently, but well, making sure you mix up all the ingredients from the bottom. Eat.

Cuddle Fairy

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First Day at School

First day at school @allpastmidnight

The state of that polo shirt — I hope our washing machine is going to be up to the job

Well, it’s been an up and down kind of day. We all had what was possibly the worst night’s sleep EVER. Wee Girl must have been listening when I said she would be going to school today, because she woke up at 3:50 am and would. Not. Go. Back. To. Sleep. She kept coming into our room, giggling, wanted to go downstairs, wanted breakfast, and every time we put her back in her room we heard the familiar thump thud of her jumping out of bed, her door opening and her turning on the light in the hall. And then Little Man woke up.

So it’s fair to say I was not at my best at 7.00 this morning when I had to get out of bed. Well, actually I think I fell back to sleep and only managed to get up at 7:20, which meant a bit of running around, not getting to drink my coffee (nooooo!) and turfing madam out of her lovely slumber (why weren’t you doing that at 4 in the morning, eh?) so that we could get her fed and dressed in her lovely clean uniform (not so clean now, sadly).

It wasn’t the best start to the morning. But she has made up for it by being utterly delightful today. It’s impossible to stay annoyed with Wee Girl when she’s in her bright happy mood, but I’m really hoping I get a full night’s sleep tonight.

While we were looking at schools for Wee Girl it quickly became clear to me that mainstream alone would not be an option. While most of the schools I visited were extremely welcoming and spoke about the help they would be able to put in place, reading between the lines I could see that they felt a unit or a special school would probably be more appropriate. The lack of speech is an issue and that wasn’t something that they’d really had any experience off. At her new school, Wee Girl will have access to an OT, a speech therapist. She will have teachers and TAs who have experience of non and pre-verbal children, but as well as that she will have the opportunity to go to mainstream classes if appropriate, so she will be able to learn alongside her neurotypical peers.

It went very well today. We were only there for an hour, but they packed a lot in, moving from circle time to snack time, then play time and finally back to circle time again. Wee Girl was happy, engaged and interested, played for a little while with the sand, then chased some bubbles.

We’re going back on Friday for another hour, but I think I’ll make less of a big deal about it the night before, just in case.


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Catch-up: The Night Before the First Day at School

It’s here at last: tomorrow is Wee Girl’s first day at school. Well, I say ‘day’, but in fact I’m only taking her in for an hour, and I will be staying there with her, but even so it’s a massive step and I’m a little bit gobsmacked.

Things have been quiet around here; Saturday saw us heading into central London to buy Wee Girl some shoes and amble around the shops. We were hoping to buy her mini-Doc Martens, but in the end the 9’s were too big, and the 8’s were too small, so we went for Geox instead. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some photos of for you of Wee Girl in (almost) all her regalia.

Meanwhile, I’ve restarted my healthkick. I was following Weight Watchers a while back. Sort of anyway. What I actually do is a bit like the bastard child of Weight Watchers and 5:2. Two days a week I try to keep my intake under 20 ProPoints. It gives me a bit of leeway and cheating space. I think if it was a choice between actually tracking every mouthful I eat and popping my eyeballs with a rusty kebab skewer, it… well, it would be a tough call. I’d probably just eat the cake (Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t one of the options?).


All Past Midnight diet health-kick catch-up @allpastmidnightI now have a Fitbit. If you have one too let me know whatever it is I have to know and I’ll add you as a friend. I have no friends. 😦

And I’m back to tracking and planning what I eat. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. The funny thing is when I’m doing this, I feel like we eat better and I’m enjoying my food more. So why on earth haven’t I been doing it for the past x months? Well, because it takes effort and I am inherently lazy. But I feel like something has kickstarted and I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve maintained for all of that time without really trying, which is something I’m very happy about.

Finally, I’m toying with the idea of creating a new blog about books. I read a lot of genre fiction (horror, fantasy, crime), which doesn’t seem to fit with the scope of this blog and would let me play around with stuff a bit more without having to worry about pictures. Because god knows I don’t have enough to do at the moment, right?

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The August Degustabox: A Review

We’ve been (fully paid up) members of Degustabox for a while and it’s fair to say we love it. I’m a sucker for a subscription box anyway, no matter what it’s for; there’s an enormous appeal to receiving a fun surprise through the post, and Degustabox is a fantastic example. At £12.99 it works out as great value for a varied selection of goodies.

Unfortunately recently they had some issues with the boxes for July. Some were sent out with insufficient packaging, meaning that many people received damaged boxes or didn’t receive their boxes at all. While they must have had a backlog of emails to deal with, the lack of communication was quite frustrating, and wasn’t helped by their publishing posts about products in the box before people even knew whether or not they would be receiving it. Luckily this isn’t a regular occurrance, but hopefully they will have learned from this experience and will make sure that communication with their customers is far better in the future. If it happens again and the situation is the same, I would have to seriously reconsider my subscription and would struggle to recommend their service.

As it is, I DO recommend them This August box was fantastic, and there were even a few extra goodies packed in there from the July box, something which went a long way to repairing the damage to goodwill caused by all of this.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Selection of Dr Oetker Mug Cakes
I love this idea, and best of all all you need is milk and a mug to cook them in. Er, and a microwave. I received three sachets, Rich Chocolate, Lemon and Chocolate Chip, and I’m looking forward to trying them with Wee Girl. Really pleased to have received them in the box as I would never have tried them otherwise.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Life Tonics Hydration Plus: Dalandan Orange
This was a very pleasant, if slightly odd tasting, drink, made with coconut water and natural fruit extracts. Other flavours included Coconut & Mint, and Elderberry & Juniper. I wish I’d received the Elderberry one: it sounds very unusual and I would have liked the chance to try it.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Ryvita Crispbreads: Cracked Black Pepper and Sesame Crispbread
That’s the funny thing about Degustabox: just when I’m thinking I need to pick up some crispbreads, I find them in the box. It’s always handy having a pack of Ryvita in the cupboard, and now I’ve got two.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Bahlsen Choco Leibniz White and PICK UP! Dark Chocolate
Quite a biscuit heavy box this one, not that I’m complaining. Choco Leibniz are fab anyway, and I love white chocolate so much so was really happy to have the chance to try these. They were okay; the white chocolate didn’t have that vanilla-flavour that appeals to me, and I think I prefer the darker versions (or the caramel version, which is gorgeous).

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Barilla Penne Rigate and Arrabiata Sauce
£1.50 and £2.00
We can always do with more pasta, and a sauce to go with it for an easy mid-week dinner. Very happy to give this a try.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Walkers: Selection of Shortbread Biscuits
The World’s Finest Shortbread, apparently. Always happy to try more biscuits

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
The Primal Pantry: Raw Paleo Bars
£1.49 x 2
The Primal Pantry’s mission is to make paleo food accessible to everyone. Their bars are raw, cold-pressed and free of both dairy and gluten. I’ve tried the hazelnut and cocoa bar so far, and found it tasty. This is part of DB’s Discoveries, a new scheme designed for smaller and lesser known brands, and the brands will differ from box to box. One of the alternatives was Delicious Alchemy’s Oaty Cookie Mix or Brownie Mix, and while they sound delicious, I’m glad I didn’t get them as I think there’s plenty of cake and biscuits in this box as it is.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Scheckters OrganicEnergy
I don’t drink a lot of energy drinks, and would never normally buy them, which is why receiving this in the box is a bit of a treat. This is sparkling spring water flavoured with organic pomegranate, elderberry and lemon juice, with a blend of raw green coffee beans, green tea, guarana and ginseng. Very drinkable and worth trying if you do buy energy drinks.

And finally a couple of products presumably left over from last month’s box, tucked in as an extra treat.

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Fru Snax: Peach Slices with Vanilla Yoghurt Melts
Sounds like a nice idea

Degustabox August 2015 Review @allpastmidnight
Original Sweet Chilli Sauce
Always handy to have a stash of sweet chilli sauce in the cupboard or fridge, either for dipping or for making up a stir fry sauce. I don’t think I’ve tried this brand before, so pleased this was included.

Did you get this month’s Degustabox? Interested in trying it? Do you love subscription boxes too? Please share what you think in the comments.

Tried and Tested
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On Grammar Pedantry and How Not to be a Knob

On grammar pedantry and how not to be a knob @allpastmidnightThere are two types of grammar pedant in this world. The first kind takes a genuine interest in the rules of grammar. Perhaps they even indulge in conversations on internet forums about correct forms or treasure their battered copy of Strunk and White (which you probably shouldn’t, since it gets passive voice wrong, but I digress).

This first tribe– to which I freely admit being a member — is relatively inoffensive. A bit boring, perhaps. They want to discuss grammar, offer help to those who seek it, and strive to improve their own writing in whatever way they can. Maybe seeing grammatical errors makes them a bit twitchy, but they wouldn’t dream of pointing out an individual’s error in an informal space like a forum post. Why? Because it’s rude.

But then there’s the other kind of grammar pedant. The sort that relish the chance to use their own often shaky grasp on grammar to correct and shame another person. I see it a lot on internet forums, often appearing in arguments debates totally unrelated to grammar. The pedant is unhappy about being challenged, and suddenly out it comes: a snide comment about another poster’s grammar skills.

Why on earth do they do this? Do they not realise how nasty and spiteful it makes them look? Do they actually think it strengthens their argument when they point out another person’s mistake, one that makes no real difference to readability and could just be a typo or a quirk of autocorrect? And even if it wasn’t a typo, so what?

If you are the kind of person who does this, please stop. It doesn’t make everyone pause and reconsider your arguments in a new light, marvelling at what an astonishingly intelligent person you are. Actually it makes them think you’re probably a bit of a knob. And you’re undermining yourself, because if you’re having to resort to correcting people about a wholly unrelated issue, then your arguments couldn’t have been all that conclusive in the first place, could they?

Also, ever heard that old adage about people in glass houses? Yeah, well let’s just say your house is made of glass and that comment about the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ is a whacking great brick. In my experience, people who make snide comments about other people’s grammar often have a shaky grasp on grammar themselves. Chances are it won’t take much searching through your past threads or blog posts or whatever to find error after error after error. Is your house made of gorilla-glass? If not, then think twice about lobbing that brick.

The need to correct people often stems from a feeling of inadequacy and a need to prove that you are smart, that you do understand grammar rules, that you know things that other people don’t. If you were truly intelligent, you would be aware that even people who don’t know quite as much as you still deserve respect and politeness. The next time you feel tempted to point out someone else’s error, remember this: you probably aren’t as smart as you think you are and pointing out that error will make this abundantly clear to everyone who reads it.

In short, it’ll make you look like a knob.

If you’re desperate to let your inner pedant loose, there are four times when it might be appropriate to correct people:

1.) The person has requested it

2.) The error in question affects readability or will negatively affect the person in some way
For example, paragraphs haven’t been used in a lengthy post from someone who is clearly distressed. You think important details might be missed or that people just won’t bother reading the post because it’s difficult to read. Tact is vital here, because no matter how polite you are, your comment could easily be misconstrued, and yet leaving the post as it is could mean the poster doesn’t get the help they need. Consider quoting the post and adding paragraphs, but making it clear that this is in no way a judgement and that you’re just trying to make the post easier to read.

Ask yourself this: am I genuinely trying to be helpful, or am I being a knob? Can I make myself seem less knobbish by rewording the way I point this out?

3.) The person is making claims about grammar that you believe or know to be wrong
If the conversation is about grammar, it’s perfectly legitimate to put your opinion forward.

4.) The person is a knob…
…and they’ve just corrected your grammar or someone else’s. In theory you should rise above it, but by correcting grammar, arguably they have made it the subject of debate (see point 3).

Are you a grammar pedant? Have you spotted any grammatical errors in this post? Do you agree with me, or do you point out mistakes in the belief that you are educating other people? Are you a knob and feel strongly about your right to be so? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Modern Dad Pages

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All About My Son: Siblings of Children with Autism

Siblings of children with autism @allpastmidnight

Sometimes it seems like I spend a lot of time talking about Wee Girl on this blog and never about Little Man. I’m sorry for that, because Little Man is just as important in his own way, and sometimes it feels like all my time is being taken up with other things, while he trundles along after me.

He makes me laugh, my son, although I can tell he’s going to be a handful when he gets older. He is cheeky, mischievous and he gets into everything. He points, brings me things repeatedly to show me (‘Ooh, a half-chewed chunk of apple, thank you!’), tries to feed me peas. When I hoover, unlike his sister hiding her face on the sofa, he is chasing me around the house.

Siblings of children with autism @allpastmidnight
He gets angry, and bashes things with both hands when frustrated. He walloped his dad last night because he didn’t give Little Man a sip of orange juice quickly enough. He’s going to be demanding in a way that Wee Girl never really was (although she had her moments believe me). He’s going to be the sort of boy who rolls around on the floor of the supermarket because I just refused to buy him that magazine. Something to look forward to.

He says ‘uh oh,’ and ‘hiya’ and he’s waving, and I am relishing all the moments I haven’t been able to have with his sister yet. I am also enjoying seeing their relationship develop. It’s subtle, and it might be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but she makes sure she kisses him good night every night. When they were in the bath together the other day, she dripped shampoo on his hair and lathered it up without having to be prompted. She’s showing an interest in changing his nappy, and has gone from crying if he’s on the swing to trying to push him.

Siblings of children with autism @allpastmidnight
It’s lovely to see, but the converse of that is how Little Man feels about her, and how he will continue to feel about her as they both grow older. We are immensely lucky in that Wee Girl has no behavioural issues. I’m aware these could start to appear as she grows up, but I am hopeful that she is a happy, calm, contented girl and that her school will be supportive. Not all neurotypical siblings are as lucky as Little Man. Many themselves have to become carers out of necessity, or have siblings who exhibit violent behaviour when distressed.

Even though Wee Man is not in that position, I still wonder what his relationship with his sister will be like in the years to come. I hope they will be close, that they will look after and support each other. I hope they will want to spend time together, that they will play together rather than just alongside. There is so much they can learn from each other and I hope, that they will be friends for the rest of their lives.

Siblings of children with autism @allpastmidnight
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Meal Plan: 31/08/15 – 05/09/15

Monday Meal Plan - 31/08/15 - 05/09/15 @
The meal planning went out of the window last week, and as usual when that happens I felt like we spent far too much money and ate much worse for it. Inevitably, I always felt like I had to pop to the shops every couple of days to pick up x, y and z. Well, we’re back on it this week , but it’s still a matter of getting back into the swing of things.

Curried pulled lamb shoulder with chips and tomato kachumber (from the most recent issue of BBC Good Food)
Rhubarb & lemon bread and butter pudding (From Diana Henry’s Food From Plenty)

Spiced noodle soup made with leftover pulled lamb

Chicken kebabs with salad and couscous

Leftover lamb with rice and roasted vegetables (probably cauliflower since it’s part of Aldi’s Super 6 this week)

Soup au chou

Fishcakes/battered cod with mushy peas and chips

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Where did the Weekend Go?

Our Weekend playing pool @ allpastmidnight.wordpress.comWait, what? Where did the bloody weekend go? I write this feeling knackered. Wee Girl was hard to settle last night — sometimes she gets incredibly keyed up, and just won’t. Go. To. Sleep. Little Man was better, but still woke up in the night and it was tough settling him. Then when I finally managed it, the cat started yowling downstairs. The cheeky tortoiseshell from over the back had come into our garden and was parading in front of the windows taunting him. Nyah nyah. So far this morning has been whingy, the kitchen in a wreck, and I’m expecting someone one to look at why the skylight leaks but only in very heavy rain, but I don’t have the energy to do anything.

Even making myself a second cup of coffee seems like too much work. THAT’s how bad it is. Ugh.

Anyway, the weekend was lovely even if it didn’t last long enough. There was a barbecue. There was swimming.

And there was pool.

Our Weekend playing pool @ allpastmidnight.wordpress.comSo turns out Wee Girl loved watching us play pool. We only had a couple of games, but there quite a lot of excited flappiness as you can probably see from the photo above, and lots of crouching down to watch the balls. She loved it.

She wanted to get involved.

Our Weekend playing pool @

Sorry for the blurry shot

Sadly that might have to wait until she’s a bit bigger.

Still we had a great time, and I think we will be having many more games of pool in the future.

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Floortime Session: Activities to Boost Engagement

Floortime Session: Activities to Boost Engagement @

On Friday we had another session with our Floortime consultant. It went well, despite Wee Girl’s changeable mood. The activities we tried included:

  1. Blowing bubbles #1. We put some water in a bowl with a bit of washing up liquid and used straws to blow bubbles. We need to work on Wee Girl’s oral motor skills, since she can’t suck through a straw — when we handed her one she used it to stir, and in normal circumstances she uses them as spoons (On the plus side this does make her drinks last longer). This activity caught her engagement very well, and she was indicating to us to blow more bubbles and pointing to the washing up liquid to request more in the bowl. On an unrelated note, we need more washing up liquid.
  2. From there we moved up to using a sheet as a swing. In other words laying the sheet out on the floor and encouraging Wee Girl to sit in it, so that we could lift and swing her.  Unfortunately Little Man was fractious and didn’t want me to put him down. This activity has worked very well in the past, but after a couple of goes Wee Girl decided she’d had enough and started to throw a tantrum because she wanted the telly on.
  3. Bubbles #2. Luckily, this totally diverted the tantrum and we all spent a bit of time blowing bubbles and chasing them. I also encouraged Wee Girl to hold the wand but hold it up to my lips so that I could blow the bubbles — hopefully from there it will be a short step to her trying to blow the bubbles herself. We also tried some running and hiding so that she had to come find me to get me to blow some more bubbles.
  4. After that we ran upstairs and started playing in her bed. Wee Girl found a copy of Room on the Broom, and we discovered a new game when I thought to drop it down the side of the bed. It took a bit of showing before she realised she could go under the bed to get it, and this turned into a game of dropping things for her to get.

One thing I have learned from doing Floortime is slowing it down, concentrating more on her and less on language. A natural instinct with a child whose speech is delayed is to talk more, to fill their world with questions and comments — sometimes though it’s better to use fewer words, making them clear and relevant to what she’s doing.

Also important is watching your child for those nonverbal indications that she wants something, such as raising her arms a fraction for you to tickle her. And think laterally; ask yourself, how can I change this activity into a game that involves both of us?

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