Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Music and dance

Life in the 'burbs ...
only joking ... waiting for Dad to come home from work in fact ... the favoured parent.
Words - something about nothing

I often repeat my name in each class for the first few weeks - I just don't want to have to listen to how students 'describe' me when it comes to their exams and they still don't know my name - so I make sure they all do!

Yesterday on our way into the local school for Hannah's EI playgroup a boy of about 8 or 9 was standing at the closed gate. He asked if we wanted to come in and when I said yes we do! He opened the gate for us and then continued waiting there. I had assumed that his mother was still walking up the path to the school but no - a woman came towards us as we walked up to our classroom asking if I had seen a boy - she was sounding a bit frazzled - just like I must sound like most mornings when hustling the brats into the car. She described her son as wearing a green and white shirt. I couldn't remember the boy's shirt colour so I simply said that I had seen a boy standing at the gate but wasn't sure about his top. She hurried past - and then a little later just as we were going into our room mother and son walked by - he was quite calmly walking into the school hall munching on a piece of toast. Yes he had Down Syndrome and yet that wasn't mentioned at all in our conversation.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Book Worth Reading:
Edited by Bernadette Thomas and Cindy Dowling
Chapter introductions by Neil Nicoll
(2004) Finch Publishing Pty Limited

I am re reading Lessons From My Child and enjoying it so much I thought I'd best post about it in case some of you have not heard of it - it is a great collection of stories by parents of kids with 'special needs'. There are a wonderful range of stories and many that I really like reading but today the prize goes to Rick Hodges for his contribution "Dealing with the tragedy of HB syndrome" - essential reading for those of us who have paled with terror whilst reading the DS medical hitlist - it is a lovely yet somewhat gentle parody of the 'typical' population. I will quote the last two paragraphs but the whole thing is worth reading:

"If your child has human being syndrome, don't despair. There are many other parents with children who have the same condition, and they can help. Seek their advice or join a support group. With hard work, patience, and help from family and friends, your child can grow up to lead a reasonably happy, normal life.
I believe the parents of children with disabilities should extend our hands to help parents of children stricken with HBS. And when you see them on the street, try not to stare. Just treat them like everyone else."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hannah has Wings!

Cheering myself up:

I love this photo - having twins is a WONDERFUL parenting experience.

Music went well this morning - yes I have signed the twins up for the term. I haven't made it to church yet (Ash Wednesday) but there is still a chance that I can make it this afternoon and that would be nice. Brats are sound asleep which is a good thing as I have to prepare the house for our first open for inspection - yes it is finally on the market! It is no small feat to make your house look cool and vaguely sophisticated when two toddlers live in it!
Language and Loss

I have that yearning for a third child - so I was cruising some infertility blogs last night when I found the blog equivalent of 'dead letter office' - a discontinued blog. One of the final posts said something like "In any practical way there is no baby" - the 12 week diagnosis had been Down Syndrome - this was clearly for a person who had struggled to fall pregnant and was devastated by this outcome. I felt sick, so sad for her and the baby - I read the many comments - all sympathising with her 'loss'. I too would have liked to have - except it is not a current blog - and I also felt that my sympathies on her 'loss' may differ from the other commenters. I am sorry that she has lost a beautiful baby - not the 'dream pregnancy' but the actual baby whose prenatal testing sealed HER fate. I too felt for the mother - of course I did - her anguish was so evident. What a dreadful outcome for everyone. I hope that that blogger is feeling better now - that she has reconciled to what happened but I also feel like crying for the little girl who might have been. No I promise I am not some rabid pro lifer but still I feel sad about it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Another Sunny Sunday

Hananh learned to walk with her own sheer determination and lots of help from her family, friends and carers ... but blowing bubbles - now that she learnt all by herself. I think she knows it too - she has such glee when she manages to make a bubble actually happen!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Will I ever learn ...

Today I took the twins to a trial music class for 2 year olds. I had spoken to the organisation earlier and told them that Hannah had DS. They seemed very open to that - I outlined some issues that they may notice in a typical music class - such as all the other toddlers can jump but Hannah hasn't got the hip stability as yet although she does try! Also she may need longer to process instructions, may have trouble keeping up, may get tired and isn't talking as typical 2 year olds as yet ...

Well - Hannah loved it - she kept up pretty well too - she loved doing the actions to the songs the best. Kit was more clingy and refused to participate in actions and dance bits although he loved storytime and playing the instruments. So there you have it - the class was far easier for Hannah and I know that she really enjoyed it - but not quite so successful for Kit although he did like parts of it. It is quite expensive so now my quandary is to sign up for a term or not?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It has been raining here again
so I bought the twins their first raincoats.

Something Annoys me ... about the marketing that is so blatently geared towards the ego of parents rather than the needs of the child. There is a wonderful book called Hands Can Talk by Aileen Ryan which uses Auslan sign language - Aileen was using Auslan in her work prior to having a child with DS but then began using it with her little one - as many of us do.

I had always planned on using signing with my children - even before we heard that it would help Hannah communicate more clearly. I have a deaf sister for one thing but also because of this I know that I am better 'visually' than I might otherwise have been. I also know what a rich language and culture Auslan belongs to - so it was something I always was going to do - just as I often considered studying an Auslan certificate so I could work in that area in some way or foster children with hearing impairment at some point in my life. Now I have taken a slightly different route by focussing first on the special ed and later I may well expand my signing qualifications.

Anyways I was given a new signing kit aimed at Childcare centres and their parents to look at. The resources are good. I have no issue with that although I think Aileen's are better because she has a more extensive yet still useful vocab in her fabulous little pocketbook. What I do not like is the covering flyer - comments like" Research has shown that children who use sign language may acquire spoken language faster than non-signing children" and "Teaching sign language can stimulate your baby's brain development. Research has illustrated that signing babies achieve higher scores on future IQ tests (up to 12 IQ points higher) than children who learn to speak in the traditional manner".

Where do I begin??
Non verbal communication including signs are actually a pretty 'natural' part of childrearing - you don't need an official dictionary! Why do you need a 'typical' child to speak earlier - is this part of the desire for a G&T kid in every house?? I want to redress Hannah's communication delay rather than having her speak sooner- although that would be good. I just don't like it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. There is also something about such absolute appropriation of a language of a group in our society who are often marginalised without any recognition that this is their language - what an opportunity to open people's thinking about disability instead of promising them 'better' children!

Oh well maybe I am just too uptight and overly sensative - after all Hannah will need those 12 IQ points and if she doesn't get them boy will I be pissed off!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Deluge raining here today - just as I am trying to explain to my overseas students how and why water is a key issue in contmeporary Australia!

First concert - Justine CLark "I Can SIng" at the Opera House - kit loved it - sat mesmerised by the whole thing. Hannah was happy checking out everything before the lights dimmed and the music started to blare. She idd have ots of fun clapping and singing along to her favourite bits with me in the foyer though. Next performance is of one of her favourite books - Mem Fox's Where Is The Green Sheep? So hopefully she will cope better in a few months - I might have to practice by letting her watch tv in the dark for a while!

Getting ready for Chinese New Year - we went to yum cha on Sunday. Hannah loves it - and the chopsticks too the little brat.

Kit was happy playing the xylaphone so Hannah got a rare opportunity to show off her guitar skills - they are providing accompaniment to one fo their favourite dvds - Play School's "Everybody Sing".

What a beautiful face! My Hannah.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I am not much of a gardener although I do love gardens. I was amazed yesterday wehn I notices the cactus that has been left to its own devices on the back fence for years has actually delivered TWINS! I moved its location a bit on the weekend and didn't notice the yellow flowers until yesterday - I hope they stay for the open house while we are selling our house!
Yesterday...I met a remarkable woman and some of her family

Yesterday went very well. Hannah seems to like her new special ed teacher - a mother of 4 back from maternity leave. She updated a checklist (milestones) for Hannah that we have been using since she started there and it was lovely to be able to tick off a few more boxes - like the walking one!

The eye Dr doesn't want to see her for 2 years. YAY! So that was all good - a nightmare though as the eye drops made Hannah grumpy and hot and then of course she got tired being in the waiting room for so long (the whole thing meant we were there for just over 2 hours) so was even grumpier - I haven't had to deal witha grumpy hannah like that for a long time - it wasn't pleasant!

While I was there I met a mum, grandma and little boy called B. B is the same age as Hannah - only he is not sitting or crawling as he has cerebral palsy. He had the same hair colour as Hannah so naturally he caught my eye. He also had a lovely face. We were just passing the time chatting. B has a big brother J who is 7. J looks like a big version of his little brother - his Mum showed me her wallet photo of both boys - J had a big gorgeous grin, red hair and freckles. He is in a wheelchair, doesn't communicte verbally and is fed via his stomach. He too has CP.

I can't imagine what it must be like for that family. In many ways I am sure their life is pretty much like mine, in other ways it must be very different. As I drove home my mind was racing. I can't say that I felt sad exactly - emotional yes - there were tears in my eyes. Mostly though I was thinking about that woman's optimism. I recognised it of course because I share it too. Then I thought about fate - that great wild beast beyond our control. That woman's optimism was palpable. Her photoes of her sons showed each boys uniqueness and her pride in them. Sometimes choices are not better than fate. There is of course no prenatal testing for CP. They told me that. The mother also said that she knew her chances of having a child and then another child with CP were higher than average. I guess that is what made the word 'optimism' come so strongly to mind.

I have been thinking about Arthur Miller and his son Danny - the one he never mentioned in his biography, who was institutionalised (he would only be a few years older than me now) and who was visited regularly by his mother but never by his father - according to the excerpts I read online. I am in no place to judge A Miller - that isn't what this is about. On my drive home yesterday I kept thinking about him and then B and Js Mum. Miller lost on his choice and perhaps he died not knowing that but I can't help but think that those who have and still care for and love Danny Miller know it. Maybe optimism is what Arthur Miller needed more of.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Parent Trap - Jane Cadzow published in SMH Good Weekend Feb 3 2007.

"Australian parents have never spent so much time avidly interacting with their children. Though most mothers are now in the paid workforce, adults and children have more contact with one another than they did 30 years ago, says University of New ENgland times-use analyst Michael Bittman. How are we managing it? Simple really. We no longer have a minute to ourselves. Mothers and, to a lesser extent, fathers have reduced the time they allot to sleep, personal grooming and tehir own leisure. As Wise (Aust Institute of Family Studies, child development researcher Sarah WIse) puts it, "parents feel the need to sacrifice absolutely everything, putting their children's needs before theri own, to be seen as doing an adequate job".

In that part of the weekday evening when our own parents were watching TV or having a few laughs over a highball, we are in our children's bedrooms, reading aloud from WInd in the Willows. ..."

As a self confessed pushy and competitive Mum I do not necessarily disagree with everything in this article. I do however have a problem with some of the language used - 'sacrifice' seems to carry more negative connotations than the time I give to the kids involves - yes I have 'given up' the copious leisure time (and increased wealth) of being a Dink (double income no kids) but sacrifice is the last word that comes to mind to describe my attitude to it all. Yes I do spend time with the brats and mostly it is personal grooming and sleep that have suffered (yes hairy legs and bedraggled hair in need of a stylist). But it isn't a sacrifice for me it is a choice - something I actually LIKE to do.

As for being stuck reading Wind in the Willows - Lordy - besides the fact it is a great book - what would you choose to be doing - reading one of many wonderful and clever children's books or watching Australia's biggest loser??? No contest for me! Besides which we both put the twins to bed - definitely not an unwarranted claim on our time by our children.

I am not saying that juggling demands isn't difficult. The twins are 2 now and we could probably make more of an effort to go out just the two of us in the evening but overall we manage to enjoy a lot of time with the kids and then clock off about 7.30 - when grown up time commences. I don't think it is a bad life or a poor choice and I think this article should have made that clearer. I certainly don't make these choices so that I can "be seen to be doing an adequate job". I don't think that is what it is all about at all!
Sleeping beauties ...

Han's eye test tomorrow - here is hoping she isn't too grumpy!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

An afternoon 'swim' after a busy day.

Twins can fix it.

I am sure their father apprciated the assistance of Hannah and Kit when he had to fix one of our cupboard doors.

Breakfast at the Growers Market

My beautiful Hannah ... she had been busy 'cooking' al fresco.

Friday, February 02, 2007

An ordinary week in an ordinary life

Everyone had fun at our first EI playgroup for the year. All the kids were a bit taller, had changed in different ways and all were a bit wary at first - until they got back into the swing of it. Kit and Hannah did their best to impress the special ed teacher (she has just returned from mat leave so hasn't met them before) by pushing and shoving and 'crying' over who got to feed 'baby' in her high chair and tehn over who got to push her in her 'pram' etc - luckily the spec ed teacher has 4 kids so I don't think it was anything new watching my two toddlers behave like the brats they are! Hannah jsut loved the singing in group time and kept wanting to stand up and go to the teacher to point at different things or to hold the picture card she was using.

She stood at the vestibulator and kept pointing up to the where the hammock swing should have been until the OT gave in and got it out for her to swing in - she loves that activity. The OT was very impressed when Kit who has refused to go near it (to the point where the OT has asked if he likes the swings in the park) said "My turn" and he loved it too.

Then I foolishly but in desperation took them (sans twin pram) to a white goods store in search of the cheap but good front loading washing machine because ours was dead. They squealed and chased each other around (Hannah does a good chase for a kid who is just getting the hang of this whole walking business - hands up for balance and away she goes!). Kit was turning all the knobs on the machines - it was the quickest major purchase I have ever made in my life. No haggling required - the salesperson was a woman who obviously empathised with my situation as she pretty much took me immediately to a wonderful little machine just what I was looking for and then just gave me a good deal straight away without my having to ask for 'best price'. Thanks Whitfords!

Hannah's child care seem to have greatly improved and they have been investigating support options for staff and her. The teacher in her room this year seems good although she hasn't had time to really develop a good rapport with Han she was asking me which signing system we use and she had obviously been talking to the inclusion support worker who was involved last year and who is pretty good. Hannah is still loathe to go but luckily the wonderful carer that she had last year is usually on in the mornings and she has a lovely relationship with Hannah so that it doesn't feel so bad leaving her there upset.

Each afternoon when I pick them up they are usually outside playing. I greet them and then chat to the workers for a bit then go and sign us out. The twins always wave bye to 'Ella" (the name of the child care centre) as we leave. Today Kit ran down to the gate of the outside play area to say his goodbyes and not long after Hannah did her funny walk down there too and was waving like a champ - a couple of the kids and the staff all enthusiastically called out "Bye Hannah". It took quite a bit of time to finally get everyone out the gate and into the car to come home.

Then there are the downsides of life. We got a new company car - it is lovely - a stationwagon. I knew that P would find it hard to give up but realisticlaly given my chaffeurring of the twins it is logical that I get it (such a pity - NOT!). So being the kind wife I am I washed and vaccuumed and air freshened the old sedan - to make it easier for him to hand over the stationwagon. I was parked outside my house having lunch with the twins - when someone backed into the old car. Now the boot won't shut properly and rego is due soon so we have to hurry up on getting it repaired. Then today - I had parked the lovely new stationwagon out front of my home (in a cul de sac) when - yes - another neighbour backed into it!! Lordy - I like an ordinary life but really this was a bit much for me. Luckily there was very little damage this time just a few scratches to the paintwork.

SO as you can see - a typical boring but never dull day. I had a couple of meetings at work (classes resume next week), did some cleaning, played with the brats and dealt with an array of administrivia that makes up an ordinary life. I did have a couple of those magic moments though - watching my children wave bye at the child care gate this afternoon - so happy to be coming home after a fun day and then watching those same brats play in the bath tonight. They love pouring games at the moment. Hannah makes me a 'drink' - tea I think as she blows on it I presume to cool it down! Kit makes me tea and Dad coffee. They are a constant source of wonder, frustration, mundanity and pure joy.

No new photoes to post - I'll see what I can do - cos the twins are pretty cute. Tomorrow we are off to the growers markets in search of some goodies so I had best go to bed early.