Our Newest Activity

I have to say right off the bat that unless my little man is constipated, sick, or hungry, he is almost always a smiling little guy. He loves it when you compliment him and give him your fullest attention and usually he’ll respond with a hug and kiss. So when he met his newest friend/therapist Lillia who straight away told him how gorgeous he is and what a good boy he is it didn’t take long for these two to hit it off. Every Tuesday for the past month we’ve been staying behind after school is over so that I, too, can participate and learn about Veronica Sherborne’s developemental techiniques, the Orff musical approach, and Thai massage, among other things. Lillia is trained in all these things and in general she reminds me a lot of a friend of mine back in Boston. She’s active, she’s a great listener, she’s calm, she’s just a cool person. And she’s a yogi so she has a slightly different approach to life which I must say is kind of rubbing off on me because I’ve been really stressed out lately. As soon as he sees her, he takes he hand and they enter the room together. The bottom line is that with this new activity I’ve seen a huge difference in Panayioti. I don’t want to get too enthused but I cannot hide the fact that my little guy is a lot calmer, happier, and more willing to do stuff with the family and especially his little sister. Right before we began yesterday I told Lillia that he hadn’t gone to the toilet for almost a week and immediately she began some massages on his belly and back which she said will help to soften his stool and bring about bowel movements. Well, as soon as we got home my little man went straight to the toilet!! I guess I am one parent always willing to try new things. Whenever I hear about something, anything, that will help, a new type of therapy, a different approach, I am the first to sign up. Although I don’t exactly have the funds to back me up, I always manage. Recently I heard about swimming lessons designed especially for kids on the spectrum and you best believe that Panayioti will be there waiting in line to jump in the pool, though he probably won’t be smiling then because of his fear of getting wet. 

In a not so (autism) friendly world.

Yesterday was our theater date with another kid from Panayioti’s school. A very high-functioning adorable little guy. His mom is also super cool and very down-to-earth which is kind of hard to find in mothers here in Greece. I don’t want to be unfair but the majority of the moms I meet here in Athens are very high-maintenance. It might have something to do with the fact that I live in the north suburbs though. Anyway, I kind of felt bad because I chose the play and it turned out to be a sort of not so autistic-kid friendly play in that the music was really loud (even I wanted to put my hands over my ears at some point) and the costumes kind of scary. Plus the plot was a bit dragging and for a bit of an older age group. Even before the play began I got a sense it would not be a big hit because a woman took the mic and started giving us directions as to how we should behave when we’re at the theater. I looked over to my autism-mommy friend and we both rolled our eyes in unison. We had to move seats pretty early on in the play too cause both our boys got scared of the geese. Oh well. A theater date, even a failed one, is still a theater date and I love to be out and about with my little man.  I think he enjoyed it what with the 3 trips to concession stand to get him popcorn and juice and then a bar of chocolate. Afterwards, we decided to go to a cafe to get to know one another. Neither one of us has friends with children on the spectrum so it’s almost like a relief. Like, hey my kid is taking his shoes off inside the cafe but so is yours so that’s ok, kind of relief. We talked and talked and I really liked what I got to know because I met another woman who is determined and not one bit of a victim. Plus she is a single mother and that’s a tough thing all in itself even without the autism in the equation. She says her nights are quiet but hard, I can totally understand. So while we’re sitting there chatting my little guy went to another table and stood up on the table like he likes to do at home. An elderly person scolded him. Then the waiter scolded him, then there came the stares. After my short word-fight with the elderly man my new friend suggested we leave. Well, that cafe is certainly not autism-friendly I said as we left. Why? Are there cafes that are?, she asked me. And then I got stumped. I have become so used to Panayioti’s antics and quirks and have come to think of them as almost, I stress the almost, ordinary and typical that I just assume that everywhere we go people perceive them as ordinary and typical. You mean it’s not normal for a small child to go to another person’s table and pick french fries off their plate? But he’s just a kid man. Oh well. We walked for a bit afterwards and then our friends boarded their bus to go home. I thought it would be a good idea for me and Panayioti to walk for a bit but we weren’t in that great a neighborhood and I almost got scared for our safety so that’s when I hailed a cab and my little man literally jumped for joy. I will not be one bit surprised if he decides to become a cab driver later on in life. He loves them like crazy. And cab drivers usually love him back even though when they ask him his name he responds in his best Native American tribesman impression. But last night, this guy was different, bad different. First of all, he told me that Panayioti was pushing his feet in his seat and it was hurting his back which I of course apologized for and brought my little man closer to me. And second of all and most infuriating, he was persistent. He kept directing questions towards Panayioti like what grade he’s in, what team he supports and stuff like that. My little guy did not take kindly to all these questions and grunted. He knew right off the bat that my kid is special but a douche is a douche not matter what. I said look he’s tired ok? And then the jerk drove really fast. I prayed we wouldn’t be in an accident and when we finally got out of his cab I sent my worst curse his way. He’s probably at home in bed with the runs today. Hope he is, serves him right! So I guess the lesson of the story to moms with kids on the spectrum is that they’re not ready for us yet.  Hold tight, the time will come when things will be different.

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday Breakfast

Breakfast is sacred in this house. I can skip lunch or just make a sandwich, order pizza for dinner sometimes. But breakfast, especially on the weekends, has to be a big one! Pancakes (I splurged and bought organic Vermont Maple Syrup to top them off) scrambled eggs, fresh-squeezed o.j. The kiddos can’t wait to dig in and it’s the ONLY way the husband will get up on a Sunday morning. Totally worth it!!

The messiest but most decadent chocolate nutella cake (and it’s glutein free-yay!)

The messiest but most decadent chocolate nutella cake (and it's glutein free-yay!)

Whenever I make one of Nigella Lawson’s recipes I am never disappointed. I don’t care about this woman’s personal and marital woes (or crack addiction) she knows decadence! There is nutella in this cake, there is chocolate in this cake, it is literally death by chocolate. Each bite and you’re saying omgosh this is sooooo good!! Just make sure you have a glass of milk handy!!By the way, I didn’t follow this recipe exactly word for word because I opted to fore-go the hazelnuts on top (step #4) as decoration and instead what I did was slice the cake in half, fill with icing, and then top with icing. Maybe that’s why it was soooo decadent!

for the cake
6 large eggs (separated)
1 pinch of salt 125 grams soft unsalted butter
400 grams Nutella
1 tablespoon rum
100 grams ground hazelnuts
100 grams dark chocolate (melted)

for the icing
100 grams hazelnuts (peeled weight)
125 ml double cream
1 tablespoon rum
125 grams dark chocolate

1.Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, and then add rum, egg yolks and ground hazelnuts.
2.Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time.
3.Pour into a 23cm/9 inch round greased and lined springform tin and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
4.Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. Transfer to a plate and let cool. This is imperative: if they go on the ganache while hot, it’ll turn oily. (Believe me, I speak from experience.) If your hazelnuts have skins on then after toasting in the frying pan transfer them to a slightly dampened tea towel and rub them while they are still warm to remove the skins.
5.In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cream, liqueur and chopped chocolate, and heat gently. Once the chocolate’s melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to ice the top of the cake. Unmould the cooled cake carefully, leaving it on the base as it will be too difficult to get such a damp cake off in one piece.
6.Ice the top with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts.