Thursday, August 31, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!August is a month full of birthdays for us. THe twins very quickly go thte idea of parties and birthday cakes. Here they are practising singing happy birthday to Nan - who they absolutely adore! Kit is blowing out the 65 candles and Hannah is doing the 'Hooray!'s.

I bet it was the first time in a long time that their father had balloons, party hats and crayons at his birthday too ... they make us feel so young sometimes! I can't wait until October when it is their birthdya - I wonder what they will make of that!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Kit's first 'letter'
Kit likes it when we write simple words/names and he reads them. I prepared this blackboard to celebrate his Dad's brithday and had signed it from the twins. They were helping draw on the board when Kit came around and said his name and deliberately copied the letter K that I had written [his is the yellow K near 'Kit'} - I was blown away!
Jumping Kit Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox is one of the twins favourite books. The other day I wandered into the lounge room and found Kit 'reading' it together with Hannah. One of their favourite parts is the 'near' sheep and the 'far' sheep which are drawn to scale to demonstrate the concepts but we always hold the near sheep right up against thier faces and hold the book away from them for the far sheep for extra emphasis and fun - they love it.

Cranky ... it is that time of year again - I have a bucketload of marking to do and am staying up late every night to get through it. Everything else seems to suffer and I feel that the littlest thing can set me off. I have everything finely balanced and at the moment any unexpected turns can destroy my fragile sense of equilibrium. This is the time when I really hate having had to go back to work ...

The other day I was up the road buying some wine for our Friday night meal when I met a wonderful person. She was working in the bottlo and so quickly established a great rapport with the twins in their pram. She bent down so that she was at their eye level, she waited for Hannah to respond before going on, she spoke in simple phrases. She had a stamp (something the brats haven't had before) and after checking with me that it would be ok she demonstrated on herself what happened and then waited while Hannah held out her hand and indicated where she wanted to have the stamp put - she vocalised beautifully too! I was thrilled - I commented that this person was great with kids and how Hannah has DS and can find communicating with strangers a bit tricky. She said that she had 10 years child care experience and a sister with cerebal palsy - no wonder she was so good with the twins. It does make me wonder though - I am always reading in the papers about the child care crisis here - and I don't know why this person was working as a sales assistant but I know that I would much rather that she was employed part time at Hannah and Kit's child care centre - she clearly had talent in the area. Either way it was wonderful to meet a stranger in such a positive way rather than feeling embarassed or annoyed at the interaction which can so easily happen!
Hannah is still working on her standing skills

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rebecca tagged me ...

The Pizza box meme

1. What was your favorite thing about being a kid?

Being so oblivious to the daily drudgery that adults can get so caught up with! I loved living in my own fantasy world safe in the knowledge that my parents loved me unconditionally.

2. What was your favorite subject in school?

English – and not just because it was the class where I became friends with my husband!

3. Who was your best friend when you were 10?

Carolyn Whelan – she was a great friend but we grew apart after High School and I have no idea what she is up to now.

4. If you could be any animal what would you be?

My poodle. She has a great life – sleeps on my bed most days, regular walks in the park and most nights she curls up next to my husband to share in a midnight treat of biscuits or marshmallows – and she isn’t overweight!

5. What would you change about your school, occupation, life right now?

If it were possible…I would get rid of my paid job – or else find one that requires no after hours work but pays the same!

6. What's your favorite color?

Green. All shades but especially a lovely warm sea green.

7. What's your favorite type of crust and topping on a pizza?

Thin crust – Napoli pizza –cheese, olives, anchovies, oregano and basil – simple but delicious!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I don't know whether their milk was spiked or their Irish ancestry was out on show but the brats looked like a regular comedy duo in this slapstick sequence. Hannah of course started proceedings ...

I sit on the step, aren't I clever?

I can stand up while you sit down ...

Your turn - Kit up, Hannah down. Ha Ha

That was fun!

But hard work. Let's have another drink.
This parenting business ...

Well we have done it. I attended my first Parents and Friends meeting last year. Phil is treasurer of Hannah's EI branch so he now attends the P & F instead of me. We attended their first major fundraiser in June - a trivia night - which went very well. Then on Saturday we attended our first 'working bee' - for the twins' child care centre. It brought back memeories of primary school for both of us! Only then of course it was our parents who were involved. The twins child care is a community run organisation rather than a corporation hence the moral obligation to pitch in. I also felt that because we were expecting them to 'go the extra mile' for Hannah bear that we really needed to do the same for them. It was a fun day and they had a good turnout. We did a fair bit of gardening, painting and some cleaning of chairs. The kids had fun too - especially Kit who got to play with his best friend Toby with his parents there too.

And so begins what I hope is just the start of our involvement and support in our childrens external education and care. Perhaps there will be new friends out there too - it certainly felt a bit like the first day of school for me - I could relate to All 4 My Gals entries or rather the concerns of her girls as they started out at school - what will it be like? Will I make any friends? Will it be fun? And so for a little while I felt a bit like my twins will feel in the future as they become more aware of such things as starting preschool and kindy and heaven help us high school!

Monday, August 21, 2006

My budding artist ...
I finally got around to letting the twins paint at home - outside of course and only until Mama's nerves gave out. Hannah of course tested them as mischeviously as only she knows how!
Taunting Mum - Little brat!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

>> >> Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses. ...her prayer is Universal and non-denominational ! >>

>> St. Theresa's Prayer:>>
May today there be peace within.
>> May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
>> May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
>> May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love
>>that has been given to you....
>> May you be content knowing you are a child of God....
>> Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the
>>freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every
>>one of us.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On a Bad Day

Kasey Chambers

Everytime my tears Have ever fallen I keep 'em in my pocket For a rainy day So when its pouring I take them outside I let the rain start washin' My tears away

But on a bad day When hearts are breaking There's not enough rain to carry All the tears away

Everytime I'm blue I take my feeling I hold it tighter And I don't let go When the sky gets whiter And the air is colder I throw my feeling To the falling snow

Everytime my heart My heart starts breaking I take this pain And I hold it down And I wait for the wailing When the wind is comin' And my pain is blowin' Through another town.

On Barricades and Brickwalls

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.”

Frodo in the final scenes of Return of the King – Lord of the Rings

In our rowboat with our cups of tea
My favourite time with the kids is in the morning - I like them best then because I have missed their beautiful responses - I have looked in on them but they are usually gently snoring. In the mornings they are fresh and sleep tousled - so beautiful. I like them least in the 'witching hour' just before dinner when they are tired and grumpy (as am I) and I am trying to get their dinner ready as well as put out their pajamas and generally tidy up before bath, story and bed time.

When I was pregnant I refused to buy maternity clothes with a bow on them - it made me feel like I was being gift wrapped. Now I know just what goodies that bow was adorning - now two very lively and adored toddlers!

On the weekends we lie in bed and wait for them to stir - it might be Hannah calling out or starting her bed toy - 'e - elephant - roar!' says the American voice on the fisher price toy. Or it might be Kit bumping his head or mumbling sleepily 'mummy? daddy?' Generally from there they look for each other and after listening to them play and call out for a bit one of us goes in and gets them. All four of us and the dog play with the pillows and blankets on our bed before Hannah's demands for MILK PLEASE! can no longer be ignored.

Breakfast involves sharing the paper with everyone, milk, toast and cereal. Then it is time to play - the twins find what takes their fancy - it might be reading a book, playing with blocks or standing at the felt board. Sometimes they parallel play, sometimes they play together or annoy one of us to join in their game. Eventually everyone is dressed and ready to head out the door. A trip to the shops is likely for some groceries or a play in the park. If we don't make it to the park in the morning then odds are you will find us there in the afternoon. Hannah loves the swings the most. There is a little bridge they like to climb over and a see saw they play on. Kit loves the slide - he would like to tear down it head first if we'd let him. Hannah likes going down the slide on her tummy - it is a smoother ride!
Taking off together
Lunch is usually something pretty simple followed by fruit (Kit would be a fruitarian if he could be) then bed for a hour or so. Depending on the status of our park visit once they wake up we may go out into the street to let them tear around on their bikes - they love that! By 4 - 4.30 we are all a bit tired and it is time to come inside and start winding down. Some drawing or play doh is usually their preferred activity although sometimes they like to play with their teaset and offer countless cups of 'hot tea' to everyone and any soft toys in sight.

Dinner is a messy affair followed by yogurt. Like all other meals it gives Hannah an opportunity to do something silly which makes Kit laugh and copy her - like putting a bowl full of food on her head or throwing some bread at him or making a mess and then 'cleaning' it up with her sleeve or a tissue if she can reach the box! Then she goes on the potty to poo like an angel - Kit won't go near it! Bubbles in the bath are always a hit. Sometimes they play with each other - catch the fish or chasings - these games are usually started by Hannah. Pouring water is fun and putting the bucket over your arm and pretending to 'go to the shops' is also popular. Sometimes they just play with their wash cloths - laying them out and pouring water all over them. Hannah loves to wash hair and will often try and wet Kit's hair so she can do this.

Then we call for Dad and he takes Hannah and dries her and puts her pajamas on. Once she is set up on the lounge with her milk he comes and gets Kit - Kit is a nightmare to put into his pajamas (Hannah wriggles around a lot but Kit takes off around the house so Phil's skates are on when he is getting Kit ready!). Each brat chooses a book or two from the shelf. We read them together at least once. Kisses are exchanged by everyone. Then each brat is carried down the hall to bed - milks are put down, one turns off the light while the other chooses the music for sleeping. Kit lies down and asks for his blanket. Hannah hates being covered but likes a few pats to help her get ready to nod off.

Mum and Dad race to the lounge room to open that bottle of wine and think about getting our own dinner ready.
Milk before bed

The point being - when we were looking at the progress of Queen Serene's book Gifts - we agreed that what we would highlight for people faced with a T21 diagnosis is just how normal life is - something that you can't always see immediately after the initial diagnosis.

PS I started to read 'Defiant Births' which has had some media coverage - it looks at prenatal testing. Unless you want to read a whole lot of prolife stories it is a disappointing book - pushing the prolife agenda with no acknowledgement of just how difficult the reality of 'choice' is - I was particularly disappointed as the book was clearly trying to masquerade as something more balanced and academic than it actually was. Not recommended!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It Takes Two to Talk - A practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays. The Hanen Center Toronto Ontario - Canada!

Hannah's Area Director and speech pathologist is trained in the Hanen program and is currently running a course in it for some of our parents. There are 8 families (1 dad) involved. Not all of the children have DS but 4 of them do. All the children are around 1 - 2 years old. Some of us are using signing to help with communication, others are using a picture exchange program (pecs).

The accompanying book is easy to follow and much of what it contains seems common sense. Yet I have to say that after only having attended two sessions to date - that I am learning a lot and that Hannah is being helped by some of the strategies being discussed. Basically we have talked about the four levels of communication (not bound by child's age) and what sort of communicator our children are. Identifying Hannah's communication stage was easy - she is a 'first words user' who is starting to combine words.

The first technique we have looked at is the OWL one - Observe, Wait and Listen. Sounds basic doesn't it but there is something about focussing on it in particular as well as having watched video clips of different parents communicating with their 'special' children that adds a lot to it. When I read the book prior to starting the actual course I was pretty sure that Hannah was what they call a reluctant communicator - that is she doesn't initiate that much but will respond when she has to - I wasn't totally happy with that as I knew that she actually enjoyed responding but I didn't think she initiated communication very often.

I am now rethinking that - closer observation and a less biased eye (comparing her communicaton to Kit - obviously she seems less like an initiator - he is a typically developing child well into the combining words stage at 21 months). So I am thinking that it is more likely that she is quite social in her communication style but that with Kit the way he is and my being a teacher (we naturally talk a lot and 'direct' too!) the poor darling initiates as much as she can! Also I think that she has worked out that I am observing her attempts to communicate and focussing on 'understanding' her more - so she is now making even greater efforts to communicate and to be understood. Pretty exciting for us all really!

The program includes video and feedback sessions where the facilitator videos Hannah and I communicating in a particular activity. I have to choose something (like readinga book together, playing with blocks together etc) where she and I communicate and practise 'owling' while being videoed for a few minutes. We then watrch teh video together and analyse the communication - positives and negatives in order to help me develop more skills in encouraging Hannah's communication.

Another concept that has been emphasised is 'letting the child lead' which has also helped me realise just how often Hannah does initiate things for hersoelf - especially when given the opportunity. The course runs until November/December. I am enjoying it very much - it is also a good opportunity to talk with some other parents and because the facilitator knows all our children well she is doing a great job of helping us through the course.

I will update on our progress as we go.

Today we went to my in-laws for lunch - as always the twins have an absolute ball running around with their cousins, one of whom is just a few months younger than them. It was a lovley sunny day and a game of chasings took off with young Kit and Jacob loving running from one side of the yard to the other and falling down on the picnic mat at the end of each 'race'. Their happy faces were a sight to see. It was pretty obvious that Hannah was keen to join in - on impulse I held her hands and she and I 'ran' with lots of hurrying and excitement with the boys - oh the joy on her face! She eagerly signed and said 'more' each time we collapsed on the picnic mat.

At the time I had a vague feeling of 'I wish she could do this on her own' but quite frankly we were all having too much fun to give it much more consideration than that. Once home and now that my mini athletes are in bed I still can't get melancholy about it - we all had so much fun that really it would be in bad faith to dwell on the 'poor Hannah' part of it - a betrayal of that wonderful determination, mischevious sense of fun and love of life that she has. So I just wanted to write that - for all my impatience and no matter how much I long for her to walk (and that is no doubt at least 5 or 6 months away yet) I can't believe that I could have any more pride and joy in my beautiful daughter as I did today watching her face light up as she chased those other two brats with as much agility and energy as she could muster. You are an angel Hannah Bear!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SHE DID IT!!!!! YAY!!!!!
At 21 months my gorgeous little girl is now standing on her own!!! Hooray!

Doesn't she know that she has done something special?

SO ... I raced out and got an easel even though we have absoltuely nowhere to put it in our tiny home ...

I have started doing the Hanen programme - for communication with children experiencing a communication delay. It has been good so far. I am having some trouble classifying Hannah's communication style though as at first I thought she was more like a 'reluctant' communicater but she is very enthusiastic in her responses - now I am considering 'sociable' communicator - I think it is more that it is hard for her to initiate more often with Kit and I going a hundred miles an hour all the time so the poor darling actually does pretty well I think!

Case in point - I have been noticing her initiating activities - just in the past two days - she began a game of 'throw the plastic Nemo' in the bath to Kit (and a healthy game of catch ensued) and 'chase Kit around the tub' - so perhaps Kit and I need to give her more of a chance to initiate and her social communication style might get a chance to shine!

Have been 'owling' furiously and letting her lead with great results - it is good because it makes you stop and notice how you and the little ones communicate. We are due for a video feedback session which of course I am dreading - I have to think of an activity that will enable Hannah to strut her very respectable vocab of at least 50 words/signs - I am thinking of a book - she LOVES Where is the Green Sheep? - or perhaps the felt board that came as part of the easel as it was a huge hit tonight - we'll have to practise a bit more though I think.

The twins had a day at home with Dad recently - he (their father) made his first cake ever - with a little help form his babies. It was pretty good!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Music has always been important in my life. As a child I was raised on 1950s pop music and country music (Australian and US). As a teenager I dsicovered the world of Indie Aus Rock and spent as many nights as possible listening to local bands in pubs. As an adult I have explored more classical, blues and jazz music. As a parent I have discovered the WIggles and Patsy Biscoe etc. My husband is just as bad as I and loves a variety of music styles. Particular songs forma strong connection to memeories and events for us. Well with that background it is no wonder that the twins look like also developing a passion for music. Today is music therapy day and as a warm up the brats took to their instruments and let rip with their favourite songs - Twinkle, Twinkle; If You're Happy and You Know It ... and Open Shut Them.