Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Practicum, Mother's Retreat and Moving ....
I completed my first prac in 19 years! Phew. It was at Multilit - a program funded by a charity - used as research by the University. Basically about 30 kids are chosen to attend mornings for 6 months - these kids have some disadvantage in their background and are all at least 2 years behind in their reading ability. They are aged 10 - 12. It was amazing to see them all working like automation but ENJOYING it too - a points system for good behaviour is given and at the end of each day 'stickers' given for points awarded. After a page of stickers the student gets to pick a small prize. Lessons last for 15 - 25 minute segments. Students moved around mini classrooms (or stations) in the hall on the second ring of the bell. There was a range of drill and practice activities, independednt work, reading to others and peer tutoring. They really kept busy - and some of these kids are no doubt the 'trouble makers' in their regular school - here they were angels. Sight words and phonics are used. In fact my MIL is one of the volunteers the program uses who comes in once a week and listens to students read. The strategy is called Pause (to give the student time to sound out or self correct), Prompt (using minimal hints or phonic prompts if appropriate) and Praise (explicitly eg "good sounding out" or "I like the way you read with expression today" etc).

It was great to finish prac on Friday and after checking out and applying for a rental heading off to a Mother's Retreat at Mt VIctoria in the Blue Mountains. It is organised by Lifestart - Hannah's EI provider. They receive grants to help fund the weekend away. Last year was my first one and I am definitely going to keep attending. For some Mum's it really is their only break and some of us have had a very stressful year - for some it is only the first year in their child's diagnosis so they are still working things through.
I managed to have a lovely relaxing time and do a few hours uni work which was great as there is an exam next week that I feel ill prepared for so every little bit helps.

Poor P stayed and looked at housing options and minded the twins. Lucky we have great friends so he met with 2 different lots at the park on Sat and Sun. The grandparents also kicked in and minded the brats for half an hour so he could put in an application on another rental property - the market here is quite tight so when you rock up with poodle and 2 1/2 year old twins ... mmm ... It was very noticable on Sunday afternoon - he was stressing about everything we had to decide and get ready as we need to be out of here in just over a week while I was quite calm and relaxed - after all we couldn't do anything on a Sunday afternoon and worst scenario we put everything into storage and live in the granny flat (so squashy) at my in laws... I think I drove him crazy! Life being as it is though by Monday afternoon our application on the property I did on Friday had been approved (thanks to my MIL connections with the manager of the agency) and the people who bought our place want to rent it out so that was another option open to us.

We haven't signed the lease yet but the agent seems to think it is a fait accompli and we should be moving to bigger digs next week. There is a sand pit there too so I will have to clean it up as the brats love a sand pit. We will be living quite close to the inlaws which will be great especially as they are helping out (again) by minding the twins so that I can complete my second practicum - this time working with kids age 3- 5 with autism - so that should be very interesting.

Brat Update

Both are going along nicely. Hannah is a bit snotty but otherwise good - obsessed with TV and Curious George. Kit just wants the WIggles all the time and if they aren't on he is driving his 'big red car' all about the place. I have asked Lifestart for some extra help with Hannah's speech so the ST has been doing some home visits - she is great. When we move they are going into beds so I hope that transition goes smoothly!!

PS - Thanks Michelle from Big Blueberry Eyes for explaining how I do links - now I just need to practise...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Today we went to a local park for Lucy's birthday - she has just come back to Sydney from a year in New Zealand so it was especially nice to join her parents and her two younger siblings in this birthday celebration. She is the little girl in a hot pink fairy outfit. She is a gorgeous girl with a wonderful imaginaiton and a fantasy world known affectionately by a few of us as 'Lucy Land' - a lovely place to be.

BMX GIRL! Santa brought Kit this bike for Christmas. Hannah loves it! She often climbs on it, rings the bell and tries to use the pedals. She is really too short for it though and as soon as we get some solution to our house saga (we just missed out on a house at auction yesterday so are hitting the rental market tomorrow - I hear it is as vicious as the buying market heaven help us!) I intend to find either a trike or bike for her - I know she'll like it.

Sometimes Kit gets tired of Mummy's camera. TOday he decided to fight fire with fire - here he is using his own 'camera'.

Stella is always keen to come with us in the car - she has a spot in the back of our station wagon. Sometimes I wonder what she thinks - from the joy of "Yes I am going too!" to being dragged around on her lead by kids and poked at by various toddlers - she must think: "Oh no - another kiddies function".

Hannah was keen to go on to the oval where the football was - she pointed a few times indicating she wanted to be down there. When one of hte fathers was showing his son how to hit a tennisball with a cricket bat - seh was nearby keen to have a turn - not that she got one (that is another story), then she found this Wiggles ball ... this afternoon in our back yard she had Kit's cricket bat and a ball - and had lots of fun trying to cathc and hit that ball.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Seven Things You Always Wanted to Know ...

Jen from Never Thought has tagged me for 7 things you always wanted to know ...7 things - now were they weird or just mysterious? - I think I've ventured into the realm of 'weird' sorry about that!

1. I hate going to the movies. I get this 'trapped in my seat' sensation; it is all too 'full on' for me really ...
2. I have Indian takeaway from the same place every Friday night - or I have for the last 9 years with the exception of my one year maternity leave when funds were a bit short.
3. I am the first person in my extended family to graduate from University
4. I drive like a little old lady - always have and now that I tend to sign or gesture to the kids in the back I must really terrify other drivers!
5. I am a bit scared of stepping onto escaltors - only my husband knows this one I think!
6. If I was a dog I'd want to be my poodle - she sleeps in our cupboard most of the day and creeps up onto our bed each night for 'treaties' from my husband - BBQ shapes and lolly snakes. Plus she got a GREAT hairdo today and mine is dreadful!
7. I still haven't learned how to link properly - I just tried again and failed. Forever technologically challenged it seems. No - maybe I have partially conquored links ... Oh and I find the word verification games challenging to say the least - some of those letters are hard to read!

Mother's Day

We had a family picnic nearby - I am still the grumpiest Mum in the west - we are going to an auction on Sat so perhaps my mood will lighten a bit after that (If we are successful I won't have to deal with scumbag real estate agents for at least 10 years. Now that is priceless.). I digress, enough of my favourite peeve - in spite of the level of stress in the house I had a lovely Mother's Day. As someone who for a short time thought that I would never have children, Mother's Day is a timely reminder not to take my brats for granted. It was such a dark time in my life, I knew that I wouldn't get through it without some sort of counselling. Some 6 months later our last attempt at IVF - and hey presto - pregnant! Of course in my naivete I hadn't really given much thought to the actual pregnancy - just the 'bundle of joy' at the end so having a high risk pregnancy was an experience in itself. Yup - Mother's Day - I do treasure it.

My MIL has no kids of her own. Her first marriage was to P's Dad when we were 20/21. (P's Mum died of cancer.) She is an amazing woman. The twins love her to bits - she is a wonderful Nan. I read an article recently saying how as a mother the author viewed grandparents as loving the child but not as much as the actual parents - sort of once removed parenting. Now she said that she is a grandmother herself and she knows that that is absolutely not true. She wrote eloquently about the genuine pleasure in meeting the grandchildren at the door and oohing and aahing over each stage of their childhood. The article reminded me so strongly of my MIL and her relationship with the twins (and their cousins). Then in Saturday's paper was an article by a new stepnana that questioned whether she was 'really' a grandma. On our picnic I wished my MIL a 'happy grandmother's Day' - and although she looked a bit embarassed and said 'but I am not a Mum' I hope she understood when I said - ah but you are a grandmother - you just skipped ahead to the best bit. She really is the twins' grandmother - they adore her and we are very fortunate to have her in our lives. So - again Happy Mother's Day Nan.
And no pincic without Stella (that is the poodle - the little girl is the brats' adored cousin Molly)...

Monday, May 14, 2007


I love this photo - how gorgeous is that Hannah of mine?? It got me thinking about perfection. As an adult I am quite exacting in my definition of the term. Perfect means flawless - and let's face it there are lots of flaws in me and in my world. Kit might wake up crying a number of times in the night - wander in to us, go back to his own bed - but in the morning he still says "I had a good sleep Mummy" becuase that is what I usually say when I go into them in the morning - 'did you sleep well?' I ask.

Yesterday I had the sort of mother's day that is best celebrated by someone else taking the kids and then putting them to bed in the night. Nothing to do with the twins I have taken on more than I can chew and with trying to buy a new house I am pretty grumpy and stressed.

Check out Hannah though - and Kit is the same - life has it's disturbances. Moments when they are thwarted. Moments when they are in pain but because they don't have an adult's view of perfection they can truly relish the moment. If they had written this post they would have titled it Perfect Day - or maybe even Perfect Life, I hope so anyway.
Loving Letters

The brats enjoy playing with their magnetic letters. Kit recognises a lot of them and will say a few words that start with each one. He draws H for Hannah and shapes O for orange with his hands. Hannah likes it too. She can pick out a few key ones most of the time - like H, M, D, N for Nan and P for Pop. They love the Starfall website (Thanks Michelle from Big Blueberry Eyes for that tip).
Hannah is doing well on her preliteracy skills - we now have her doing 9 piece 'lotto' puzzzles in black and white.
Favourite verbal expressions at the moment:
Kit - I want my Daddy; I want the Wiggles; Umm, I'm not sure.
Hannah - Noooo...; Kit! (with her fingers on her cheek signing a cat's whiskers); ...bugs... (with her arms moving as if dancing for Jitterbugs) - meaning she wants to listen to the cd of her music lessons AGAIN!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Waiting for Daddy ...

Hannah loves to escape and go visit our next door neighbour - so she can climb up on her fence. We are going to miss Margaret (and her fence) when we move from here.

Peek - a - BOO!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Doomed from Birth:
Twenty One more accurate words for my Hannah ...
Adorable, inpsirational, beloved, precious, cheeky, gorgeous, cranky, cuddly, teasing, sleepy, fun, excited, endearing, sharing, loving, lovable, ordinary, sad, anxious, exceptional, special, sweet, cute, fearless, determined, stubborn, helpful, dancing, beautiful, clever, talented, funny, resourceful, unique oops ... I can't count ... wish the writer of a certain article could have thought of ANY of these words first ...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Still Wednesday
I forgot to mention that Kit insisted we bake some chocolate muffins. Hannah had fun licking the spoon and bowl clean ...
so did Kit but he was a little more circumspect although he too had a lovely sugar 'high' tonight!
Wednesday after Jitterbugs

Cleaning up

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

EARSKit's hearing test went well although his ear drum wasn't as good as it should be but then he does have a cold. He has to have another one in a year's time. Hannah did pretty well but she wasn't hearing the softer noises and when they hooked her up to the machine they siad that she had fluid in her ear. I have to take her back in a few months for a retest. They did say that she had done well to go without gromits for this long so I guess if they find the fluid is still there then that is what we are in for. I know they are routine but even today's visit back to the Children's hospital gives me the heebee geebees. It brings back such a stressful time in my life when both my babies were so sick they could have died. I know gromits is nothing like as bad but still I don't want her to have to go through more surgery - I don't want to have to see her under anasthetic ever again.
I love reading. I was very impressed by Jennifer's (Pinwheels) booklist. P has a masters in English Literature so he has no doubt read more on the list than I havfe. I have just finished reading the Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver which I really enjoyed. At the moment I am halfway through Anne Tyler's Digging to America which is about the adoption of 2 Korean babies by two different American families.

Kit and Hannah's favourite books at the moment are: Winnie in Winter by V Thomas and K Paul; Room on the Broom by J Donaldson; Faster Faster, Nice and Slow (because they substitue the main characters Nick and Sue for themselves!)by N Sharratt and S Heap and Down by the Station.

For P's 40th I am thinking of getting him a book (yet another one) on how people store their 'libraries' as we seem to have way too many books for a typical suburban home and need to come up with some effective way of storing them that doesn't take up too much room but still allows us to have them out of boxes and in reach. When we move the kids will be upgrading to a bigger book shelf too as theirs is a bit overloaded at the moment.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Wild West...Needless to say that the neighbourhood cats are not too happy with thier new neighbours.
Wow - it is after midnight here and I was doing some Uni work before I thought I'd do this post and go to bed. I just saw a possum on our back fence - here less than 10 ks from the city. My SIL has to cope with the buggers - as she lives in the leafy suburbs furtehr out but I have never seen one here before! They look so cute but they can be rather feisty about food, eat everything in your garden, poo everywhere and infest your roof. They are protected here so getting rid of them is quite a challenge.

Anyways, our Saturdays are still very stressful. Driving all over town looking at real estate is NOT my idea of fun. We have an auction coming up in 2 weeks and if we can't afford this home then I am giving up and we will find somewhere to rent for a while. We settle on our place almost 9 years to the day.

Sunday was a lovely TWINS DAY. To try and destress the house a bit we went for along Bay Walk, played at the park and then the brats 'helped' e in our tiny garden resutling in them needing a bath before lunch. P went to the shops and returned with an orange guitar for Hannah (so now she can stop causing fights when she steals Kit's) and a Thomas 'thing' for Kit which both brats played with for ages in the afternoon. A lovely Sunday.
Hannah's guitar
The 'band'

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Surprise Surprise
I am not always happy or placid - here I am on my way to tell Dad about Mum restricting my use of the roll on sunscreen.
I was surprised when the twins started at LDC at 15 months of age that it wasn't long before Kit had developed a friendship with a little boy there called Toby. Toby is a bit older and moved up into the 'big room' half way through last year. This year he and the twins are once agian in the same room. Again I was a bit surprised that Kit and Toby had formed a lovely little friendship including a boy called Jack. (surprised because he was still doing a lot of parallel play but clearly they also played together)Today was Jack's 3rd birthday party - at a local park.

The twins were both very excited about their invitations and keen to go. Part way through the party I guess I began to feel a bit self conscious as I sat and signed with Hannah while she hoed into some choclate cake. Don't get me wrong - these were lovely and welcoming people - but there was a sense that they were watching us. Silly I know but I guess I don't encounter those situations much anymore and haven't thought about it much lately. So another surprise was that it was fine. These were clearly good hearted people who weren't gushing falsely over Hannah but were interested and welcoming - so why should I care that they 'look' at us? We are different as a family - and very proud of both our brats. Jack is a lovely little boy and watching him, Kit and Toby run around was a lot of fun.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oh dear - Hannah has developed a 'smile' for hte camera already!!

Say 'cheese' for Mummy's new camera
I visited baby Sasha this afternoon - she is beautiful and when I got home P had a present waiting for me ...