Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Welcome to my home.

The Noel candles have hopefully done their job and the house smells like Christmas.

Top 3 cds playing:
  1. 1. Christmas Classics - The Wiggles
  2. 2. A Christmas Gift - Yvonne Kenny and
  3. Ultra Lounge Christmas Carols - Various Artists
This year the fireplace has some of the twins handy work on it - you can guess which ones! And there are the knitted stockings I bought from the vollie shop at the Children's Hopsital and raced home to hang up - just in case we made it home for Christmas in 2004.
I made the advent quilt many years ago when Mum and Dad were living in Gympie. I used to love visiting and quilting with Mum. The nativity quilt was made by Mum and I put it together and it hangs on the wall in the lounge.

I have typed up little messages for the pockets of the advent calendar - things like Go to the park today, baking, Kit's day or Hannah's day, Hugo's party, a slip of paper with the lyrics to a carol which we then sing at the breakfast table ... etc
Would you like a cup of tea? I am drinking 'Spiced Christmas' at the moment - yummy! No Christmas cake yet though I'm afraid - I haven't baked it yet.

This bear is from the vollie (volunteer) shop at Westmead Childrens Hosiptal. Spending Christmas there was certainly an experience - one that is quite surreal now thank goodness. There are a host of vollies and staff who tried their very best to make the occassion festive. When Hannah was still very sick and not herself at all in ICU - one of the 'stars' from Hi 5 was visiting - so we could have had her photo taken - but it wasn't a picture I needed a hard copy of thank you anyway! There were donated gifts carefully chosen by the volleys and staff as being appropriate for 2/3 month babies. It wasn't easy as we were in a regular ward and they were more used to bigger kids. There were the therapy dogs who came to visit wearing their Christmas gear. On Christmas morning there was a present wrapped and left at the end of each bed. "Santa" came visiting - but I confess I nearly snarled at him as Kit had had another temperature that night and it meant that there was no way we were getting home for Christmas. Kit's pediatrician who called by to see how we were going - even though she wasn't meant to be working that day. A lovely man making balloon figures came by and did a poodle for me. Then there was the full Christmas lunch with puddings for about $5 at the hosptial canteen. A very welcome visit that night from Nan and Pop. A Christmas I'll always remember vividly - and this big bear with his lovingly knitted Christmas jumper is our memento of it - our reminder of how precious life can be and how absolutely generous people are.

So that is all ... I have a few nativity sets. A lovely wooden one that is hanging on the tree, a beautiful globe one that I bought years ago and this kitch one that my sister brought home for me the year that she was working in England. After all ... "Jesus is the reason for the season ..." so besides the star having a nativity set is pretty important to me.
So thanks for dropping by I must apologise for the poor quality of the photoes. I hope that you and your families have a truly wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Carols in Petersham Park

Deck the Halls ... Rudolf the red nosed reindeer ... Away in a manger ... Silent night ...

I love Christmas carols - the beuaty of honouring a baby - a saviour. This year I have been able to reflect more about the relationship of mother and son - it colours my reading of the amazing birth of Jesus. From the commercial glory of Rudolf - a song that will always be dear to me - I sang it in my darkest hours as I walked Kit when he had meningitis during his first Christmas from one end of our room in isolation to another. Hannah in the other room - a baby so weak and poor in condition being nursed by her father. Last year and this year have been exactly as I hoped for - a time for family, dear friends and God. Perfect Christmases in fact. I hope yours is too.

Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly ... the twins both go 'fa la la la la, la la la la! withg gusto and without prompting.

Happy Birthday Hugo.

Today we had a party to celebrate Hugo's turning one on Wed. It was great - not only is he a beautiful and amazing little boy but his parents are two of our dearest friends Two lovely and generous people - it has been great to see them thrive with their gorgeous and so precious Hugo. Happy birthdya little man ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My mother made these grogeous Christmas shirts for the brats - they arrived in the post today. Kit cried when I said that he had to take it off before dinner - I didn't want them covered in spagetti when they had only worn them for 15 minutes!

Christmas Cake. Finally ... I got around to marinating the fruit for our Christmas cake. The brats loved helping me mix the fruits together although Hannah was a bit confused as to why she couldn't eat it up as she stirred. Once the fruit had been transferred to a ceramic bowl for the brandy she took the big mixing bowl and was trying to sit in it - I think she might have cat tendencies ... she also tries to sit on the presents that are under the tree and loves to play "Hannah is hiding down in the box ...". Steps are still going well so I must officially apologise to anyone who was hoping to pick up one slightly used but absolutely gorgeous toddler on ebay - it is pretty much walking (albeit a wonky walk) - so she is OFF the market!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The following article is well worth a look ... he writes beautifully.


I'm not a saint, just a parent In a moving extract from a new book to mark Mencap’s 60th birthday, the Times chief sports writer Simon Barnes describes life with his five-year-old son Eddie, who has Down’s syndrome

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kit's knees are practically dragging on the ground on the little plastic trikes we have so Santa is bringing him a bike. Hannah is going to get a beautifully crafted small doll house with fairy dolls. To ward off the twin jealousies I made Kit a cardboard house on the weekend. The brats loved painting it and spent ages dabbling - some time this week I will try and add a second storey into it and perhaps they can add some glitter.

Today was the last session of the Hanen - It Takes Two To Talk - course that I have been doing for parents of children with developmental delays. One of the mums there said that when other mums ask her how old her son is she lies and knocks 12 months off his age - it avoids questions she has no interest in answering for strangers. It took me back to when the twins were very young and I was asked at LEAST three times EVERY time I ventured out - are they twins? Then there was an array of awkward, rude or disbelieving looks ... It doesn't happen much anymore.

It did happen recently in a social situation - the twins and I were at a function where 2 of the mum there know that Hannah has DS - one in particular is one of our closest friends and she has a very special relationship with both of my children - at one point one of the mums asked me (in front of everyone) what the age difference was between them - I said "they are twins, they are two". Her face was a picture and the silence that followed was awkward to say the least. It happens so rarely now - and even less at actual social functions that I was quite unprepared so I just left her hanging looking shocked - clearly trying to work out what to say/do or what was 'wrong'. I felt a bit bad for her but it wasn't as if I was likely to develop a relationship with these women further - they were nice but a bit too competitive mum style for me - and clearly part of the complacent mothers club that 'just can't believe it can happen to me' (or anyone I know for that matter!) group. A bit harsh I know but I belong to a different club - the one for Mums who go to Hanen courses - Grad school parenting as I have heard it called - and I have to say they are a great bunch of women with beautiful children of all types of abilities and skills.

Anyways such things make me even more grateful for the wonderful group of friends and family that I belong to. My husband played his first 'live' gig since high school on Sunday. The twins stayed at that wonderful friend's house and joined in the family birthday celebration for her daughter. I went and was No 1 groupie - in the audience was my sister in law, 4 very old and dear friends we went to school with, a couple of friends who had left their wives at home with children so they could support P - we have been friends with them for about 14 years or so and a few 'kiwi' connections who we have been friends with for about 7 years or so I guess. It was such fun - and so long since I had been in a pub to see a band with this bucnh of people - many of whom P and I used to do this sort of thing with almost every weekend!

In the break I went to the bar and had a total blank - I had just wanted to order a beer - spot the mum of 2 year old twins! I had no idea! and then once I had somehow managed to communicate my drink of choice - I went to my wallet and it was empty! and no I wasn't inebriated - it was to be my first and only drink for the event as I was desiganted driver! How my skill set has changed - now if they had wanted a rendition of Ring a Rosie or a No Spill cup of milk ...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New shoes and new dress

Kit came out in his father's new shoes this morning - he thought he was very clever.

Hannah looks like she is running but of course she is not even walking as such - I had high hopes for Christmas but will have to be content that she is taking steps if not actually walking much - this dress is not one for crawling in so I thought perhaps she could wear it to church on Christmas morning. The dress was a gift from an old friend of my sister's at the twins first birthday/christening bash last year and I think it looks lovely on my angel girl.

I used a website found on Big Bluberry Eyes Blog today - phonics - the twins loved it - I just did a few letters - A, B, D, K, W and H. They loved it - Hannah was especially enamoured of the 'big brown bear' and was sounding 'b' very well. Her EI has been using a phonics kit called Ants in the Apple - just a few letters too and I finally got around to ordering my own copy today as I really want to try and spend some time on that in Jan. She is pretty good on the 'a' sound and was doing 'b' well today too. Tonight at my inlaws for dinner she said quite clearly "Mum's bowl" - YAY! Another two word utterance.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I love Christmas - it is such a special time of year. Something tells me that the twins are going to love it too ...

"Love is the greatest gift we can give or be given." For that I have to thank my wonderful husband and my two gorgeous brats. Thanks.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We all love Hairy Maclary from Donaldson Dairy

Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy are just wonderful children's books - the twins love them! They love Hairy the scruffy wily black terrier, Hercules Morse as big as a horse, Bottomly Potts covered in spots, bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony, Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay and of course Noodle the poodle has a special resonance for us.

They love visiting Hairy's rural idyll.

Occassionally on a weekend in the afternoon when they are tired and so am I I let them watch a dvd while I fetch dinner and they calm down a bit. My preferred viewing (and theirs too quite often) is Hairy - the dvds are basically the same as the books and in bite sized portions are great entertainers for the brats. Stella certainly watches them too but I don't think I can really say she loves them as the twins do - here are some pics:

PS Scarface Claw the toughest Tom in town and the mischievious Slinki Malinki should satisfy the cat lover in you too.

I know my grandmother Nin would give one of her beautiful smiles and a wee giggle if I told ehr that for breakfast this morning the twins had croissant from the best baker in Sydney and homemade babycinos. Oh how the family has left behind its rural roots - not completely - but more on that anon. This post is for Nin - with lots of love - you are the sweetest memory for your grandchildren - alwasy with us but especially this Christmas. I wish my babies had known you - I will do my best to give them a sense of how wonderful a woman you were.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We Survived!

Today was the last Hanen course video feedback session. It was on communicating with books. The twins absolutely love books but I must say I was rather nervous about this video - I couldn't get rid of Kit as Hannah doesn't cooperate the last time I tried that - she knew something was up. So I was thinking that the video would show up how every time I comment when reading or get the twins to finish a phrase that it is Kit who jumps in depriving Hannah of the opportunity to communicate.

There was some fuss at the beginning getting settled but after that they were both champs. hannah signed lots and spoke some spontaneous words. She and Kit took turns and didn't fight while we were reading the story together. Overall I think it went pretty well with lots of communication happening. I could still focus more on particular words but Hannah has varied interests and because we encourage her to 'pick' the books she wants us to read - the book being read changes regularly.

So only one more Hanen to go - it has been a very good exericse. I feel more able to isolate key words that I wnat Hannah to say or understand. I think I am better at giving her time to respond and giving her greater control over our communications. She is certainly making good progress.

Hannah's chosen book for the video was The Rain Came Down by David Shannon - it is pretty good and she loves it at the moment. She signs 'raining' and 'rainbow' and tries to say barking. There is lots of other vocab in there - both for understanding and communication.

Hannah is 'walking'(well taking a few steps) to the shops to buy some milk.

It's official - I don't care! YES I AM A PUSHY MUM!!

I have sent off my application to study my masters in special ed next year. So I have to accept that I am pushy. I am really looking forward to it although at the same time I am dreading the thought of having to fit more into a pretty packed day. At the moment I teach a program that is linked to Sydney Uni - so no, special ed is not even a small feature of our school. There may be students with dyslexia etc but as our focus is very much on academic preparation it is not like a typical high school where special ed training is always going to be useful.

I love teaching and over the years I have had various special needs students but usually in my home room or roll call class as the subjects I teach at senior level don't really lend themselves to many students with intellectual special needs. In starting this program I am really following an interest that has very much blossomed while watching Hannah learn.

I am so worried about how High School will be for her - after all I have taught in them for nearly 20 years - I know how tough they can be for 'weaker' students. SO there is a part of me that is doing this as a way of maintining some control over Hannah's ed. We hope that she will be able to attend a mainstream school but I am not absolutely committed to the idea - especially in later years it may be necessary (but difficult I know) to enrol her in a special school. There is a very good special school here and ultimately I just want what is going to be best for Hannah - in social, life and learning skills.

So if I really like it I and I ever go back to a typical High School I will have something to offer students and their families with special needs. Something that I fear I will have trouble finding myself yet something that I think is important - empathy and dedication. Too often I have seen teachers fight over who gets the top class (never the bottom), I have heard teachers say that 'so and so' shouldn't be here - they should be in a special school or in a special needs unit - as if that absolves us from responsibilty for these children. Caring for Hannah has given me a much clearer view on such things - a veiw I am eager to help infiltrate the school system with.

If I don't return to a regular school then I will still have a better ability to help support my beautiful girl - so I decided to go ahead and apply. As my mother said - if I wait unitl I have more time I'll probably never get there. I am looking forward to some intellectual stimulation too - in teaching it can be all too easy to say " I've taught this a million times" and never step outside and approach things from a different angle - it isn't a feeling I've ever had but I know there is a clear risk of it if I don't keep challenging myself.

Keeping focused on your students also helps because each of them are different - and the dynamics in each class are different too - even though the content that I am teaching has been pretty mcuh the same for the past 5 years. I want teachers with that focus to be teaching Hannah. All her learning now is done through play - it is FUN! I don't want that to change - I want her to enjoy learning.

So assuming I am accepted (which is pretty much a given) I hope that I can somehow juggle everything to fit it in. It is where my head is at the moment anyways so should be an interesting experience.

Modelling their new undies. In a half baked idea to assist with the toilet training initiative that is going to become priority number one in Jan I have bought the twins some undies. At the moment I put them on them about 30 minutes prior to their dinner and bath - the idea being that they will be more aware if they have an accident in them and this increased awareness may help them learn to request the toilet BEFOREhand. Also as we head into the holidays I have more time to mop the floors!

Monday, November 20, 2006

BEAUTIFUL! Check out the side sitting and the straw action - it helps that it is Kit's sippy cup and she just happened to 'steal' it while he wasn't looking ...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hannah and Kit discover the Christmas artist within with some glitter provided by their Great Aunty Anne

The results of their inspiration ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WHOO - HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GO HANNAH BEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How much do I love Hannah? How proud am I of that little brat of mine? More than words can ever say!

Today I took the twins to a popular local playgroup - I have taken them there a few times in the last month or so. It goes for 3 hours - the kids can play on the outdoor equipment, in the sand pit, at the tables drawing or using playdough or inside at a 'home play' section or on some couches with books. All the little ones sit up at the tables for morning tea and then to finish off the morning we go inside for a story/singalong session.

On another point my dear husband has been teasing me claiming that I am a pushy Mum (based on a conversation about music lessons for the twins next year). He supports this but says that most of our friends would say he was the pushy one when in fact it is I who have the more pushy approach. He used the amount of structured activities I do with the twins as an example. (Hannah basically has 2 hours of therapy a week max and while I have been doing Hannen she has missed out on about 7 sessions since July). SO the two days I have off with them and the afternoons are a good opportunity for me to implement some of the strategies I have learnt from Hannen or discussed with the Speechie, the Physio and or the OT.

Today as I moved around with my children I have to say that yes I am an 'active' mum. I am involved in my kids play - after all play is children's work. I don't have two 'regular' kids that enable me to sit and chat with other mums while keeping a weather eye on the twins. That isn't why I go to this playgroup - I am there for the equipment which I don't have at home. They still get time to play on their own but I do like to make sure that they are engaged in something that appeals to them and that they experience a few different activities in a day. I think it is obvious why I need to be hands on for Hannah - I feel guilty if I don't make some effort at targetted development areas each day - however she is a keen explorer and I often just give her time to explore on her own as well as play alongside her. ANYWAYS ... in a busy playgroup where she is unfamiliar with things it is particularly important that I help her settle in a bit.

And so ...Today at the story/singing session she sat up front on the mat. The activities go a bit fast for her becasue it is a group for 'regular' kids. While we were waiting she was doing the actions to one of her favourite songs Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. Then she sat rapt watching as the teacher read 10 in the bed. The best bit came next. The teacher asked the kids to all stand up (she didn't know anything about Hannah's situation). I was sitting nearby and was ready to help her stand by holding her hand but she was keen to participatre and stood up on her own - THEN the gorgeous most darling angel - did her very best to stand up unaided and to do the actions to Heads and Shoulders!!!! I had tears in my eyes watching her so engaged in the song and standing up and bending down and holding her ankles for 'touch toes'. It was such a huge effort - she sat down a few times but just kept getting back up - I am in absolute awe of her spirit - she is just so strong, so determined and so very beautiful. She basically only managed head and toes with an occasional knees - the pace was so fast who can blame her for that? It was the first time that she has been confident enough to actually attmept to make actions while standing - Needless to say she was exhausted and fell asleep in the car almost before I had pulled away from the curb. I have tears in my eyes now just thinking about it - such a wonderful end to the morning. I thank God yet again for both my beautiful children.

And obviously my plans for music lessons next year are a winner as she loves her music so much.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hannah's Progress
Hannah bear is going thorugh one of those spurts at the moment (or else it is just that I have been trying to take particluar notice of how she is going). I have almost finished the Hanen It takes Two to Talk course and it has been a lot of fun - it has helped me focus on aspects of Hannah's speech and also given me lots of opportunities to discuss ideas on how to help her move from the First Word User stage of communication into the next one of Combiner.

She does already say 'more milk' and some two word utterances but I want them to be clearer and more consistent. I am also trying to get her verbs happening more often.

The physio is thrilled with her move towards walking - she says that with Han's tone being so low and her muscles so loose - it is really by sheer determination that she can do as much as she is doing: This is what she did today - She loved playing Ring a Rosie with Kit and I and is getting stronger on her feet and still managing to say 'down' and sign 'eating' (for the cow is in the meadow part) very clearly. She walked about 4 feet to her father. When she was 'dancing' (which she loves and believes involves moving your feet) she 'walked' around in a wee circle for about 8 steps - that is walking without having to move beteween A and B with her eyes carefully fixed on her destination. She is getting a lot more confident at moving into standing and balancing herself in that position if she starts to 'wobble'.

She has also been enjoying drawing more too and rarely draws 'dots' from banging the crayon on the paper - now it is all strokes - up and down and 'round' - well her version of round!

So when I get frustrated and wish her walking was progressing better, or her talking, or her fine motor - I really just need to remind myself that she is busily trying to develop all three - if she was focussing on one alone of course it would take her less time. So it looks like I won't be selling her at Christmas - she really is a trooper - and goes through her paces with such charm and grace (and a lot of stubbornness too - but rarely with a whinge or any ill temper) she is indeed well named - Grace of God - I am so lucky to have her in my life.

Cooking brats - the twins are still obsessed with cooking. I spent ages the other day playing with Hannah - she was putting a roast chicken in a pot and 'cooking' it - it was a great opportunity to practise some of my Hanen strategies.

Kit is marvellous - I love watching him learn. He parrots phrases after us if they catch his fancy. He loves 'kicking' a ball and is now sitting on the real dining chair - he thinks he is pretty good being able to move around at dinner time while Hannah is still strapped into her booster seat. He loves these two kids cooking books that a friend gave them for their birthday - they are reading them together in the above photoes. Both the twins love books - I hope they always do as their father and I are both keen readers - in fact with Christmas holidays fast approaching I will be hoping to find some good books to read - I tend to slow down my reading a lot during term time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cheeky Brat

Sweet Brat
My terrific two year old twins!
Where has my hat gone?
I work in a warzone. there are three 'faculties' and a lot of dysfuntion. It was depressing me but luckily I have been told that (as I requested) I will be ont he 'peace bus' next year. YAY!!! That means that I am fully in the most peaceful of the three faculties so I am very hopeful for a harmonious time. I will have two subjests that I really enjoy teaching too and the faculty head was able to organise for different teachers to job share with me on the days that I cna't work. For all the problems there management have been very supportive of my return part time even though it is not as convenient for them. They understand that part of the reasoning for that is meeting Hannah's needs and so I am grateful for that.

For now there are three days of teaching left. A bucket full of marking and loose ends to tidy up bebefore my students go on stuvac and then there will be therir final exams and the marking of those. Whew - the end of my first year back post babies is in sight and I am rather relieved.

The brats have been going well. We went to a birthday party for a little boy in Hannah's EI play group. He has 'global development delay' otherwise known as 'no diagnosis'. It was in a local park and there were quite a few other kids and their families from the wider EI provider. It was lovely to see such a mixed bunch of kids enjoying themselves. The 'special needs' of probably half the kids there just wasn't an issue or even noticed by any of us there. It was a lovely and supportive environment to celebrate the birthday of a very cute little fellow who has been working very hard in his first two years of life. Congratulations J! We love you! (sorry no pics as I forgot my camera and I don't have the technical expertise to share the wonderful thankyou photo montage of the day that J's 'super' parents put together.

Found it!