Sunday, July 30, 2006

Brady tagged the twins so here goes:

3 things that scare us
Hannah: Nothing! Fearless – that is what scares my Mum.
Kit: Nan’s vacuum, the vestibulator at Hannah’s EI, the dark sometimes

3 people that make me laugh
Hannah: most people make me laugh but especially Kit, Mum and Dad.
Kit: Hannah makes me laugh the most, also Mum when she is being silly and our dog Stella when I play fetch with her.

3 things we love
Hannah: my family, food and music
Kit: my family, home corner, and books.

3 things we dislike
Hannah: Mum leaving me in the morning at childcare, noisy crowds, Those squishy balls with ‘tentacles’ on them – yucky.
Kit: any eggs other than boiled, most music that isn’t Patsy Biscoe, Not getting my own way.

3 things we don’t understand
Hannah: Why I can’t have my own way all the time, Where Mum goes when she leaves us, How to balance on just two legs
Kit: Why I can’t have my own way all the time, Why I can’t eat sweets whenever I want, Why I have to share everything

3 things on our floor
Soft toys thrown out of bed in the mornings, toys and more toys

3 things we are doing right now
Hannah: trying to stand, playing with cars, laughing at Kit
Kit: making ‘hot tea’; going to the shops, playing with Hannah,

3 things we can do
Hannah: Draw a line or two, Complete the (approximate) actions to my favourite songs (Open Shut Them, and If you are Happy and you Know it …), hide things in special places!
Kit: say and sign many words – including full three word phrases, help mix the ingredients for cakes, make Mum and Dad smile

3 things we can’t do
Hannah: walk, put my hair in a pony tail, stay cranky for long
Kit: climb out of bed, play the guitar, stay up all night

3 ways to describe our personalities
Hannah: happy, determined, mischievious
Kit: independent, caring, curious

3 things we think you should listen to
Hannah: Me! Music, and stories
Kit: Me, Me and Patsy Biscoe

3 things you should never listen to
Hannah: bad attitudes, negative people, and the word “No”
Kit: Anyone who disagrees with me, music that isn’t Patsy Biscoe, and vacuum cleaner noises

3 absolute favourite foods
Hannah: Toast, Mandarins, Eggs
Kit: Cake, Banana, Tiny teddy biscuits

3 things I’d like to learn
Hannah: to walk, to sing, to work the remotes
Kit: to play guitar, to climb higher, to bake the cake myself

3 Beverages we drink
Hannah: Milk, Mum’s cocktail of prune and pear juice diluted with water, baby panadol
Kit: Milk, juice (diluted but definitely no prune juice!), more milk.

3 shows we watch on occasion
Hannah: Wiggles, Nemo, Slideshows of Kit and Hannah
Kit: Nemo, Nemo, Nemo

In return the twins would love to hear about the twins
Simon and Jude (Not That You Asked) and the lovely Emma (Simply Camille). You’ve been tagged.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More Child care dilemmas
Hannah's EI team are great. She and Kit go to childcare 2 days a week. The centre is a community one that has had a good reputation in the area for a long time. It is going through many changes at the moment. The staff are very well intentioned and friendly but I don't think many of them actually get the special needs aspect of parenting. One report to me was that neither of the twins were being challenged there - that it was more childminding than anything. The philosophy of the centre is the emergent curriculum and I must admit that some of the equipment is a bit old and out of date - certainly there aren't many toys that are particularly 'good' for Hannah - outside of all the usual - playground slides, sandpits, painting and drawing easels, dolls, doll houses, blocks, books ... so my dilemma. Do I try and move the twins elsewhere? Kit loves this place. Hannah is fine there and quite settled. Do I need to make sure that she is getting 'more' all the time? There is a strong part of me that likes the fact that she is basically 'free' at this centre. She is naturally curious and so it isn't that she spends all her time alone in a corner - she does get out there - as much as the only crawler in the centre can anyway! The staff seem to enjoy having her there and the other kids like 'baby Hannah' ... does she need to have every moment of her toddlerhood utilised in therapeutic activities? And what of Kit - he isn't being challenged ... but he is given space to be and to explore and to grow. He has formed a friendship there and calls out in excitement when I park outside in the mornings. It is only two days a week after all - guilt - something that I am becoming more familiar with all the time - damned if I do and damned if I don't.

Sometime after October the dilemma will be moving them into the older room - where there are more kids, it is a bigger space and let's face it Hannah bear probably still won't be walking - should I consider an alternative centre for then? And then preschool after that? I don't really want to move them around all the time. I don't want Kit to be a second thought to Hannah's needs all the time and I want them to stay somewhere in the local community. So fingers crossed - I hope I am doing the right thing by them.

How beautiful is my Kit?
When I ask him how many beautiful babies Mummy has he answers 'two' and when I ask who is the most beautiful boy he answers 'Kit'. One of his favourite games at the moment is 'going shopping' - He slings my pink handbag over his shoulder and waves goodbye. I ask "Where are you going?" "To shops" he answers. "What are you going to buy?" I query. He speaks without hesitation, sometimes signing as well: "MILK". "Milk," I repeat. "Anything else?". Here he thinks before repsonding, "bread, ...n... CAKE!" Gotta love him - he is his mother's son!

Hannah has stood unaided for a few seconds at a time but has really started to consciously try and stand alone now. I think it will still take some practice but I love watching the ingenious methods she comes up with to try and help herself. Here she has emptied out the toybox and is trying to stand alone in it. Today at the park she held my hand and the rail on the bridge in the playground - that is much harder as the rails are quite a distance apart. She has a wonderful determination coupled with such good humour - just this morning when Kit who was already monopolising two of the 'favoured toys' wanted what Hannah had - she held it out to him in response to his grizzling - Lucky her Mum was there to try and mediate a more equitable toy distribution system!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The birthday boy waiting to blow out his candles
Hamish's birthday.

One of the twins' cousins turned 7 last week. The children and the adults had a fabulous lunch celebration on sunday. Here are some pics:

The children are ready to eat

Hannah and Kit share a bowl of sultanas

Hannah and her cousin Molly have a cuddle

Jacob and Hannah wrestle Molly

The twins liked the chocolate cake

Thinking about Nin

My grandmother was an amazing woman. When I think of her now I think of a grey mouse - unassuming but strong as a sapling taken root. Family talk said that she had had a hard life - married to a man who if it wasn't for a crippled leg would have inflicted more physical abuse upon her than he did. She lived in the bush on her own with four children while he rode the boundaries checking fences and killing rabbits among other jobs.

There is a wonderful photo of her that I love when she was bridesmaid for one of her sisters - my own wedding dress was similar to the style that she is wearing in this photo. Her face looks so young and fresh. For mine - I remember a rather rounded person of short stature with mousey grey hair and a brow often wet with perspiration - she lived in QLD after all. She was always on the go.

In my youth she was a church going woman so it must have hurt her somewhat when 2 of her daughters fell pregnant before being married. My mother was the 'good' girl - she married at 21 (as soon as the law allowed in those days) and had her children afterwards! Her son was wild and often in trouble for menial offences - he still is! One of her daughters died when the twins were about 4 or 5 months old. Hannah had jsut gotten out of hospital after her heart surgery and was still on various medications and so weak but I couldn't not go to the funeral in Brisbane so Kit and I flew up for the day. Throughout her life Nin's love for her framily was strong and true and that is something that we have all absorbed.

That Aunty whose funeral Kit and I went to was the beloved mother of three children. Her marriage did not last long and I cannot recall her husband at all. She bought a house in Brisbane after leaving the country town where her family had lived for some time and Nin came too. She stayed at home and looked after the children and the house and through her unswerving support my aunt was able to go to work and provide for her children after her marriage had broken down. Myself and one of my two sisters went to the same primary school as those cousins and I have fond memories of us all home together after school and Nin having afternoon tea ready for us all. It was a very tribal experience with at least five of us at any one time at the same school. My other sister is profoundly deaf and so she went to a school for the hearing impaired nearby.
We would play so freely - under the old timber queenslander was a shed - aptly called the "Spook house" by everyone. So many games centred on that scary shed. The soil under the house was a dark clay. I recall us hunting and finding numerous pennies that must have fallen through the floorboards over the years (decimal currency having been introduced the year that I was born). Nin kept a vegetable garden at the rear of the yard - we loved playing near that too but had to be very careful not to scrape a knee as the results of that were disastrous. Some misguided ambulance man had once told my grandmother that metholated spirits was a good remedy for wounds - so if she found out about a scraped knee - heaven help you - all the cousins were instructed to gather round and blow as Nin poured the metho over your injury - Lordy how that stuff stung!

My family moved to Sydney for Dad's work. We returned home to Brisbane often and I can still feel the sorrow in the car on our return to Sydney - all four of his passengers crying and Dad determinedly trying to cheer us up - we maintained the close ties that had been forged with our cousins despite the distance. Nin and my aunt and my mother made sure of that. Once when I was in senior high Mum and Dad went to the US for a holiday. Nin came down to Sydney to stay with us and look after myself and my two sisters. I have fond memeories of sitting at the kitchen table chatting with her over a pot of tea. One of our favourite topics was who would give her greatgrandchildren first - in hindsight I think that her excitement about this prospect was as much joy that her daughter would be a grandmother as it was for herself to be a great grandmother.

She had a lovely sense of humour too and often looked rather cheeky as she tucked into her bowl of icecream - every night! She was in later years a bingo fanatic too and had a handbag full of lucky charms - that Irish superstition runs strong - in all of us! Nin used to take in sewing work too and as a teenager when she came to visit us in Sydney I used to get her to sew clothes for me - I still have one bolero style black jacket that she made that I cherish.

Nin died after a stroke - she was out walking at Stones Corner in Brisbane near where she lived - she was a big walker. I was nineteen and had just started work at the Commonwealth Bank at Wynyard Station. Her funeral was at St Itas - the church adjacent to that primary school we had all gone to. It was the church where I was baptised and where I and my cousins and sister received our first communion. She is buried with her daughter my Aunty - whom we called Sissy) and one of her granddaughters - Danielle (Sissy's eldest child) who died a year or so before her Sissy - she was 40 - one of the most amazingly loving and beautiful people I have ever known but unfortunately she had a troubled life of happy childhood memories but also some very dark childhood experiences too and died of illnesses related to alcoholism. I like to think of these three wonderful women resting together in a peaceful lawn cemetry in Brisbane.
Danielle, My Aunty Sissy and Mum's first grandchild

My memories of Nin are very dear to me and I cherish my times with her and the lessons and values she gave to me. The twins are lucky to have 4 wonderful grandparents (one is a stepgrandma as Phil's mother died when we were younger - but you can't have too many grandmas can you? and Marea is a wonderful person in the children's lives) and I know that they too will be able to look back one day and perhaps like me they will be surprised at just how many precious memories they have of their grandparents.

Growing up in such a matriarchal family I have a healthy respect for the ancient goddess - this one is in my sister's garden.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pop's photo of the twins at the Entrance


I have just got back from spending a week at the Entrance with my in laws. It was lovely. And such a great opportunity for the twins to spend some real time with their grandparents. It reminds me how important my own grandmother (and indeed Phil's) was to me. I think of Nin (mine) and Nan (Phil's) quite often. I know that they would be thrilled with the brats. The twin's Nan and Pop are wonderful with them. I wish my parents lived closer too as Kit and Hannah don't really know Nana and Grandpa but no doubt they will have some good visits later on this year.

Back to work today - oh nightmares! I love the classroom but the staff room is not always so pleasant! More changes have happened so hopefully things will improve a bit.

Friday, July 07, 2006

So beautiful. My Kit


Mum's Helper Kit

The Entrance Mini Break with Nan, Pop and two cousins

Just back from a brief stay up the coast. The brats had a lot of fun. Kit played with his teapot and showed that lovely compassionate side of his by giving his cousin a cuddle whenever she had a cry (she does tend to cry a bit if she doesn't get her own way - not unlike the lad himself!).
Hannah bear had some cuddles with her Nan and lots of walk as her 5 year old cousin is just the right height for holding her hands and helping her out although we often had to remind her to be gentle when she was 'helping' Hannah get into standing position.
Their older cousin is 6 (7 next week) he showed his muscles carrying Kit around and read stories to Hannah. It was a lovely tribal interlude and I must say that I too enjoyed spending time with my niece and nephew.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Which Brat has Down Syndrome ... and Who Cares?

Below is a post that I wrote a while ago and kept as a draft. It represents my feelings of course but I never published it - I felt it was a bit too much like preaching to the converted and others have said the same sort of sentiments so much better than me anyway - I had decided to just let the facts speak for themselves.

Last night I read Mauzy's Musings (it is a regular read for me - Nash is just gorgeous). I was shocked to hear of Jan's distress over the story run by Indy's Child. I remembered reading the blog where she excitedly wrote about the fabulous photo shoot and how wonderful the whole thing was going to be. I even thought 'Wow! That's great. I wonder if Sydney's Child would ever do something like that?' So to read of her bitter disappointment - and believe me - when I read the article I can totally understand her position I too was upset - for Jan, her family, the other children in the picture and their families and all of us who care for someone who is 'atypical' or who has Down Syndrome.

The main thrust of the article is on prenatal testing but the subtext does absolutely nothing to represent anything positive about the gorgeous children who have been exploited on the front cover photo. How dare they? So I have decided that repeititive or not I may as well publish my original post as well as respond to the appalling attitude and unprofessionalism evident in the Indy's Child magazine.

Like many other bloggers - I would like to say:

I was fortunate. My twins were born on the 15th October 2004. One of them has an extra chromosome. Both of them are blessings for us and the world they entered.

And the earlier post:
Where There is a Will has a link to a great article from Webzine by Robert Rivera.

It is about an issue that is close to many of us I know - prenatal testing and consequent termination of foetuses with DS.

It is impossible not to take such decisions personally - after all - the message that this gives is that Hannah and children like her do not deserve to live - that in some twisted way it would be 'for her own good' - that it would be better if she hadn't been born. This is so obviously ABSOLUTELY WRONG!! Why is there such a fear?

Believe me I know the grief of having a child who doesn't fit in with the 'regular' mould. I hate that she has to struggle for things that come so much more easily to her twin - like sitting up, crawling, walking, forming words, holding a crayon and so on. It is really important to remember though that she will do all those things ... She is such an amazing and strong willed brat that she meets each challenge head on and so far triumphs every time in time.

I used to hope that those who decided to terminate based solely on a DS diagnosis would go on to breed a serial killer or drug addict or an 'ungrateful child' - anything that they might find 'undesirable' really and that could not be detected prenatally. I am a bit more sympathetic now - I think that too often these people must be operating from fear of the unknown in difficult circumstances and it doesn't seem that the medical community is very good at providing them with real choice. That is where our children and their families and friends come in - hopefully in our own ways we can help change some of these perceptions about supposed 'imperfections'.

Being a parent should be more about the child than the parent - that is just the way it is. Children are their own persons from the minute they are born - we can only love them and provide a sound environment for them. Their value is intrinsic - it shouldn't have to be earned. The same can be said about adults too - it is just that sometimes it is harder to see.

So once again to the writer of the article in question - yes you are fortunate - of course you are! But so too am I - it just means that you have to stop and think and put aside your prejudices and fear of the unknown before you can truly appreciate that I am not making this up:

I was fortunate. My twins were born on the 15th October 2004. One of them has an extra chromosome. Both of them are blessings for us and the world they entered.

To the editor: You are responsible for the content you present in your magazine - I hope that you are going to balance this article with accurate and quality information rather than uninformed fear - it is the least you can do.