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!