A hat tip to Basho’s Thin She Cat

A hat tip to Basho’s Thin She Cat

November 2013 031

the family dog –
she’s a little fat hippy
from too much love dude


My apologies to Matsu Basho – hahahaha – I’m bashing his famous haiku:

The she cat –
Grown thin
From love and barley.


Food Wars: The Autism Files

Food Wars: The Autism Files

food wars photo

If you have children you will know that getting them to eat what the rest of the family eats is not always easy. However, there are kids who are fussy with food and then ASD kids who can be more than fussy with food. The difference is like the difference between your average person on a diet and the daily life of an anorexic.

The usual advice for the parents of children who refuse to eat what is on there plate is to let them go hungry and when they are hungry enough they will eat the food. Well, this sometimes works with ASD children but more than likely it won’t. Some ASD children will starve rather than eat a food which they find abhorrent. In fact, sometimes the only way to feed some ASD children is through a tube that is surgically placed directly into their stomach to bypass their mouths.

Imagine if someone sat you down at a table and insisted that you eat a plate of doo poo mixed with an assortment of insects and cod liver oil. Would you eat that when you got hungry enough?

I suspect not.

This is how it can be for ASD children who are faced with foods that they will not eat. There can be sensory issues behind this aversion (tactile, acute smell, taste etc.,). There can also be rules-based obsessive thought patterns behind the behaviour. There could be physiological reasons. There can be other ASD particular reasons which we neurotypicals may never decipher.

Whatever the reasons, it can drive parents of ASD children completely nutty with exasperation. I’m guessing macaroni cheese and pink milk isn’t the best selection from the five food groups for good nutrition.

My son, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, spent many years eating vegemite or peanut butter on white bread sandwiches at every meal and occasionally ham or tinned tuna, dried apricots and salty plain potato chips (only the ones with ridges on them; he wouldn’t eat the flat ones).

When we switched to gluten free white bread, nothing changed except he would have Mighty-Mite (a vegemite equivalent) or peanut butter on gluten free bread.

He refused most meat and all vegetables (except potato) and most fruit (except oranges and dried apricots). In later years he started to eat steak and bacon, but stopped eating ham and tuna. He later refused all fruits. He also stopped eating sandwiches altogether (toast was fine), but developed a taste for ‘junk food’ like pepperoni pizza (no other types allowed), hot dogs, bacon and egg burgers, hot chips. He smothers most foods in tomato sauce (only one particular brand is acceptable).

Then he also developed a taste for garlic bread and some curries. We went to a restaurant once and he ordered the duck and absolutely loved it.

Confusing isn’t it!

The presentation of the food was also a key issue. The use of the same bowls and cutlery was important in the earlier years. I was required to cut the bread symmetrically (a perfect centre cut). Placement of hated food items (eg. a pea) on his plate was a huge mistake. Putting different foods very close together on a plate was not a good idea (that’s probably why sandwiches never work and have to be dismantled by him into component parts before any part is eaten).

Hiding ‘prohibited’ foods is not a good idea for my son (hiding vegetables in the stew doesn’t work when your kid has an exceptional sense of smell and can identify onion from 100 metres away). Failure to adhere to the ‘rules’ of food would often lead to hysterics and running away from the table (sometimes he would run around the house several times until he had calmed down).

Over the years I’ve learnt not to force my son to eat what he refuses to eat. I won’t place unwanted food items on his plate in case he miraculously changes his mind.

I’ve occasionally negotiated with him to taste a new food (on the condition that he can spit it out if he chooses) for a reward. This has generally not achieved anything except annoying both child and mother.

I have discussed food and nutrition with him and tried to get him self-motivated to try some healthy options. He now understands that a diet of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (and low in vitamins, minerals and fibre) can have negative health effects in the long run (e.g. diabetes) but he still won’t eat fruit and vegetables. He says that he is considering eating them in the future and he really wants to be healthy but it is very difficult for him. I believe him.

As with most things in the ASD world, nothing happens easily or overnight. His diet is gradually getting more varied and he is motivated to keep trying.

If you are a parent or caregiver of a fussy eater on the autism spectrum, please remember:

Keep trying

Don’t feel guilty

Tomato sauce is packed full of vitamin C 😉

and there is always hope.


A good book on the subject:

Brenda Legge (2001). Can’t eat, Won’t eat: Dietary Difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London and Philadephia.

Zen Duck

Zen Duck

duck school - Copy

mother duck teaching

her budding  ducklings the way

sunlight and shade


Note: The mother Muscovy duck is the one on the left with the red around the eyes – her name is Spankleshank (named by the girl 🙂 )

Nudder Note: We gave away 14 ducklings and a rooster on the weekend – this is a good thing 😁

Friday Photos

Friday Photos

My sister came for a visit and took some photos. Always good to look from a different perspective.

lisas photo cane train (2)

Sugar Cane has been harvested in a nearby farm

(but the Crush, as they call the 6 months of cutting and crushing of cane, still has a few months to go).

lisas photo cane train (1)

A cane train in the middle of the town of Bundaberg is taking the sugar cane to the mill nearby.

The cane is then crushed and turned into the different types of sugary stuff that we use for so many things.

lisas photo smoke

Smoke in the distance from a fire (maybe a back burn or a sugar cane burn off)

A total fire ban is now in place because of the high risk fire conditions (including the drought)

Lisas photo me and Clancy

Me kissing the horse next door (Clancy) on the nose

He wants it to rain so he can get some decent grass happening!

Lisas photo dam

The trees are green but the grass is like brittle, dry hay

lisas photo me and boy

We’re collecting fresh branches for the mini-goats and alpacas

lisas photo boyboys

the boyboys go chompy chomp

lisas photo alpaca

Who are you?


Note: All photos in this blog post are by Lisa Crook. Thanks for the photos Lisa – did some minor editing but I’m sure you won’t mind 🙂

Paradise pre Federal Election (photos)

Paradise pre Federal Election (photos)

no5 (800x519)

The race is on Australia

no1 (800x485)

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – so there!

no4 (800x513)

But the spring strawberries are ripening just fine 🙂

no2 (800x507)

The cumquat, lavender, bayleaf and rosemary patch is coming along sweet

no3 (800x528)

cumquat may

life goes on

DSC_0230 (800x530)

Buttons the calf will chew on the issues and ponderate the cruel nature inherent in life itself

DSC_0308 (800x530)

The alpacas are more concerned about the state of their hair on a windy day

DSC_0246 (800x718)

Merlin is getting very nervous with the approaching weekend.

Saturday is the annual shear for our alpacas, so get ready to say goodbye to the long locks (oh, and it’s the election #eek)

imagesphoto from googles images


My Canberra trip by Michael

My Canberra trip by Michael


number 1Hello I am Michael – Gabrielle’s son.

Last week from the 10th of august to the 17th I was away on a school trip to Canberra with the rest of my yr 7 buddies. We did all sorts of things and I will tell you some of the things.

Note I don’t have pictures of every thing on the trip – sorry.

First of all we got on the coach on Saturday for an overnight express bus trip to Dubbo. I had a really bad night and I couldn’t sleep for most of the night. I only got 3 hours of sleep.

no2 Lemurs Dubbo Zoo (1)

The next day we went to Dubbo Taronga Western plains zoo.

We saw all sorts of animals from Lemurs to Rhinos, Hippos and Giraffes.

My favorite was the Giraffe because it was so curious and kind.

no3 Hippo

Then we departed Taronga Western Plains zoo for The Dish at Parkes CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization).

We watched a 3d movie about Mars and its moons. I took an awesome photo of The Dish (see below) and we had a lot of fun with the activities.

Then after a long drive, we finally got to Canberra and the accommodation – Bush Capital Lodge O’Connor. We had dinner and went to bed.

no4 The Dish

The next day we then visited the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and also the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) and a hands on science exhibition called Questacon.

A couple of days later we went to new Parliament House. We saw the House of Representatives and the Senate.

We also went to the War Memorial and saw a lot of planes, including the P40 Warhawk, the Mosquito, A6m Zero, P51, and the Super-Marine Spitfire. That was only some of the aircraft. There were also tanks, AA guns, cars and more.

no8 p40 Warhawk war memorial (800x579)

no6 mosquito war memorial

no7 war memorial

                                                                                  I was  truly amazed when I saw this car (above)

no5 telstra tower Canberra (800x592)

After we visited the War Memorial we then went to see the Telstra Tower. We were about 800m up above sea level, but that was nothing compared to the next day!

no9 Jindabyne

The next day we went from Canberra to Jindabyne to collect snow gear for a day trip to Smiggin Holes (about 2km above sea level). We were off for a fun time in the snow.

It was so amazing for me because it was my first snow I have seen in my life. After that we had a hot chocolate. We then went back to the accommodation for an early night.

The next day we left the accommodation  for Sydney. We saw loads of cool and weird things, including the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and Manly.

Afterwards, we departed Manly for an overnight express bus trip back to Bundaberg.

The next day at about 11:30am we arrived back at school and unloaded the coaches.

Mum and dad were so happy to see me and they were so proud.

I really enjoyed my trip to Canberra but I was really glad to get home to my own bed.

no10 bye bye                                                                                                                  Goodbye



A calf was born a couple of weeks ago in our back paddock. Our neighbour asked us if he could keep some cattle on our property for a while to separate them from the rest of his herd.

He also asked the kids to name the calf.

Tessa came up with Buttons for the calf and Rose for the mother 🙂

I love those names.

I wanted to call them both ‘the calf/cow that cannot be named’ so that we won’t get too attached to them (for obvious reasons).

I’m always saying to the kids ‘don’t get too attached to the cows’. We’ve already bought one beastie off the neighbour to ‘save’ him from his final trip (Black Moo – you may remember).

Which reminds me, the other day Michael had a day out with a friend and when he got home he said to me ‘don’t get too attached to me Mum’.


I said ‘it’s too late for that son, I’m your Mum’!

Michael has been taking some happy snaps and was keen to share them with the world:

Buttons the calf by MB (800x577)Buttons the calf with mum Rose (and friend) by Michael Bryden

Michael also got a couple of photos of the alpacas.

He was very chuffed with this one because it is very rare for both alpacas to have a rest at the same time in the day (one is usually standing up and on the lookout for predators – as you do, when you are a tasty herd animal)

smallerMerlin and Spirit having a snooze by Michael Bryden

I prefer this one (because you can tell they are still alive):

merlin spoils it by MB (small)‘Merlin spoils it’ by Michael Bryden

But Michael was unimpressed and hence the label ‘Merlin spoils it’ 😉

He cracks me up that kid!

Anyhoo, chaos is still upon us in Bryden land. We all had the flu which was great fun #not and Michael is off on Saturday for a 7 day bus trip to Canberra via Sydney (and even gets to go to a snow field).


odds and ends

odds and ends


First time Broccoli


Double Trouble – I’m the headless chook bottle feeding Raspberry and Pippin

IMGP2963 (640x562)

Sheba is very unimpressed with the ever increasing size of the pack (and her order in it 😉 )


Can you guess what this is?



Having some technical and other issues at the moment.

My PC is on the way out and needs to be replaced ASAP. It is literally falling apart.

My rural (even though we are only 10 minutes drive to a major town) internet connection is as slow as a wet week (and to make it worse my monthly download allowance has been reached – thanks to the kiddliewinks)

My email is not working so I have to use another computer to access my email! It is some sort of bug related to updates.

And most importantly, my brother Daniel has been very ill in hospital for the past week (though is now at home) and is having great difficulty eating and drinking because of  a chronic condition 😦

The good news is the kids are back at school and almost enjoying it 🙂