Friday, June 29, 2007

Pretty Quiet in the west

Not much has been happening lately thank goodness. We are well and truly settled in the new digs. I spent my first morning working with Aspects Starting Blocks program - for 3-5 yo with autism. When I enrolled in the masters of special education it was really because I wanted more specific information on how I might be able to help Hannah when she goes to school. I wasn't 100% sure that I would actually enjoy teaching or working with special needs kids as a professional though - sure I love playing with Hannah and the little ones from her EI - but this is different. After my morning at Aspect I know that I do enjoy working with these kids - even if they are not my own and even if it is in the role of a teacher - I don't know about a carrer move into EI - I love my 'big uglies' as I call them (not to their faces!!) but definitely I had a lot fo fun engaging these children in different activities.

School holidays are here!!! YAYYY!!!My parents are arriving tonight for the weekend so I am very excited about that I haven't seen them since Christmas. It will be wonderful to catch up - I have organised dinner on Sat night so the twins will have both sets of grandparents together - and I am really looking forward to that.

FashionWhile I was at Aspect a freind and 2 of her kids came and played/looked after the twins. Maddie brought over some of her clothes that she can't fit into anymore - and both brats were pretty eager to try them on - after a big sleep - they were rather TIRED after their visitors left.

Not to be outdone ...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I went to a conference on autism on the weekend. A side track discussed was whether the children are manipulating the adults. I found the whole concept interesting because naturally as a twin Mum I'd have to say that yes both my brats manipulate me. But do they really - is manipulation when one is made a fool of? If so then no although that does happen of course (every day in fact!) but not from their perspective. No rather they are learning how to get their needs met - and doing so as best they can. Kit is particularly good at it - he has taken to throwing himself on the ground (behaviour guaranteed to get his father's attention) and he also cries and demands a cuddle - after HE has been the naughty one - successfully drawing attention away from Hannah and back to him. DO you know how horrible it feels to say "No" in response to your toddler saying "I just want a cuddle"? MMM I must remember that - just getting his needs met as best he can. HE DOES HOWEVER PLAY A MEAN GUITAR:
Hannah too has picked up some of his tricks - crocodile tears aplenty here.
The future looks bright ...
How could I be anything other than optimistic about this little brat? I marvel at those families who managed in the past to maintain their relationship with the child/sibling with DS in spite of the much worse situation and attitudes that prevailed. Arthur Miller's son for example. We have come a long way, I hope it continues, because Hannah deserves the BRIGHTEST future there is.
Human frailties

I have just finished reading Death of a Murderer by Rupert Thomson. It is a novel where an 'ordinary' person (Billy the policeman) is asked to guard the dead body of one of society's notorious child killers - a monster (Myra Hindley in fact). In order to explore these notions of our own moral dilemmas and our 'dark' sides he uses a number of experiences form Billy's pretty avereage life and includes a daughter aged 8 with DS. Her mother confesses to sometimes wishing her daughter dead. Billy also addresses some of his challenges as her parent - not always accurate (eg when he tells his friend that her tongue is bigger) but not completely outrageous either. A more pessimistic protrayal - no doubt to achieve his thematic exploration of human weakness. What is it that separates us from people like Mrya Hindley?

THe last page has this rather beautiful scene when he is supervising his daughter Emma in the bath (as a parent of a child with DS I can't help but have wished he'd peppered the book a bit more with such observations)

"Later when he pulled out the plug, she turned around so that her head was near the taps. Lying on her stomach, she watched the water disappear down the plughole. She was leaning on elbows, with her face propped on her hands, and her air of concentration was intense, as if she were studying some rare phenomenon.
She would never study anything, of course.
He had wondered then what would become of her. What would he and Sue decide to do about her future? Would she alwyas live at home, with them? Who would care for her when they were dead?
Or would she, with her damaged heart, die first?
He had lain his forearms along the edge of hte bath and rested his chin on top. He, too, watched as the bath slowly emptied itself. He noticed how her head revolved ever so slightly, echoing the miniature whirlpool that formed in the water as it was sucked down the hole. The strange noises that it made, all sqwarks and cackles ...
At last Emma peered up at him.
'Gone,' she said.
Looking at his daughter stretched out in the bath, he noticed how strong her body was, and how well made, her skin so sleek and rosy, so unblemished.
'You're beuatiful,' he said.
She climbed out of the bath and stood on the mat in front of him, arms held away from her sides.
'Dry me.'
How she loved to issue commands! He reached for the towel that was warming on the radiator.
As he knelt in front of her, rubbing her legs, she placed on hand on the top of his head, then she leaned down and looked right into his face.
'Daddy,' she said."

and that is the end of the book - so while I am glad that my parenting of Hannah has been a much more optimistic expereince than Billy's - I would recommendc this book - it isn't great but the first half particularly is really entrancing - Thomson's character of Billy is wonderful.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Today's Angel
Tribal gatherings

I have commented before on how lucky and blessed I feel to have such great family and friends. We enjoy spending time together. When I was pregnant and things got stressful I could count on them to listen and to say all the right things. When the twins were born they were there with bells on ready to celebrate the birth of my gorgeous babies and when things were so dark and both of them were so sick we felt their love and support in the space they gave us to just focus on the kids and in the gentle waiting. As soon as we were all home they rallied around ... in whispers ... they knew we were feeling emotionally exhausted and vulnerable and gave us perfect support. Looking back I can see how much we needed these wonderful people. Our best friends over form NZ for Christmas came by the hospital and held us while we cried. My SIL travelled over to the hospital bringing pizzas and a bit of 'normality' to life in the waiting area outside PICU. Once we got home another two dear friends invited us away for a weekend at the beach. It shows how much we knew that they would understand and help us with our two recovering children that despite the horrendous effort of our first car trip with twins we went and had a wonderfully memorable weekend away - with people we felt totally at ease to look after our babies with us.

Now all that is ancient history and so on Sat some of us gathered to 'christen' the new house, our best friends' new baby and that other couple's first foray into the huge mortgage that is home ownership here. The kids are all bigger now and it was wonderful to relax and let them run ... the twins had a great time.
Kids sitting
Music makes the world go around ...
TV: Great Entertainment when it rains...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The BVM has a new home.

Well I no longer live in the lovely 'shams of Syndey but am still pretty close by and still in the inner west which we just love. The weather has been horrible so I am very glad not to be in a tiny leaky house in this rain. The kids would agree as the new house has an enclosed verandah out the back which is their playroom.

I have done a bit of the organising that I had been putting off so am feeling a bit virtuous tongiht - finally Hannah is on the waiting list for the Rainbow Club - a swimming club for children with disabilities - and should be offered a place about this time next year unless more instructors emerge from somewhere.

I also rang the local government preschool and while they don't take them until they are 4 they sounded very nice and were certainly interested in what 'extra' needs Hannah may have and open to considering whether they felt they could meet them. I rang a private preschool as well and they were also very friendly and open and seem to be well set up to assist with preparing Hannah for school or certainly open to catering for her individual needs - they are also cheaper than the long day care the twins are currently in which is a bonus.

I passed my first semester at Uni - enjoyed it immensely and learned so much. Next semester I am enrolled in an EI unit which I am really looking forward to for obvious reasons - Macquarie Uni has a special needs program there that was started as specific for kids with DS in the 70's (linked with the program at University of Washington). I have organised to complete a practicum with ASPECT - working with 3-5 yo with autism. The only reservation I have is the unit is usually done at the end of the masters prgoram rather than at the beginning so I hope I can cope with the demands of it - obviously I want to do it now before Hannah is 'too old'.

Read a wonderful article in SMH column Two of Us on the weekend - where one of the 2 spoke of how her husband had always been considered the 'dummy' of the family because he hadn't achieved good grades at school and how when she (a Uni student) had told her family about him they had worried that he wasn't her intellectual equal. She wrote that he had taught her to appreciate an innate intelligence - and I know that DS was not at all what they were thinking but it made me smile and have a wee tear in the eye too. My Hannah is SO SMART - smart as a whip in fact. I don't know whether it is the same 'innate intelligence' referred to in the article but she definitely has an intelligence - albeit one that is not generally valued in our society.

Hannah knows the value of a cuddle. She can be the lively clown giggling hysterically with her father or making her serious brother laugh. She can be the carer and the nurturer making sure that a tin of biscuits is shared around with everyone. She can be the devious minx who thinks making loud snoring sounds will fool her father and I into leaving the bedroom before she is asleep - who pops her head up to see whther we are still in the room - if we are: the head goes back down on the pillow, if not we will soon hear her pitter patter down the hall. She knows that persistence pays off and never gives up. She tries things over and over and watches carefully to really try and understand what you are doing so that she can do it to. She enjoys being creative, loves drawing and appreciates art. She celebrates every milestone with enthusiasm and loves her family to bits. She is funny and sad and clever - and with such persistence I find it hard to believe that there will be people who are so 'intelligent' that they never see that - Hannah as she should be. Hannah the smart little girl who is a great asset to this community.

The big house has proved invaluable when entertaining - have some lovely photoes of the 7 kids here all watching tv, playing music and eating dinner at the kids table from lunch on the weekend but some clutz (yes me) dropped the camera and now it is broken! Will post some of the photoes when I can.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Single beds
Part of the excitement of oving to bigger digs is the new beds. Mmmm ... don't think I'd say they were a resounding success yet though ...

The real culprit:After watching her brother climb out of his cot for the past year and come down the hall to us Little Brat is loving the freedom of the single bed - yes most of the devastation was her doing (by the sounds I heard anyways) and it is her redheaded self that is most likely ot pitter patter down the hall with a big grin and giggle ready when we confront her and tell her to GO BACK TO BED!!!! (She is sound asleep on the bed in this photo)
Sophie's in the new Wiggles DVD!!!!

Check her out by going to their website and clicking on Australia - you can't miss her she has a 'little something extra' to grab your attention - and is the fourth little kid 'running' on the Getting Strong dvd. Sophie is a fabulous little girl - she goes to the same EI as Hannah but on a different day as she is older. She also has a very cute little brother. I can't wait to buy this one as the twins are Wiggle obsessed!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hannah's first bath at the new house
Take One:

Yes Daddy turned his back for a second but little brat knew what to do ...

Take two:Two cheeky monkeys swinging from the trees ...

Teasing Mr crocodile "you can't catch me! You can't catch me!"

Along came Mr crodcodile as quiet as can be ... and SNAP ... no more cheeky monkeys swinging from the trees!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Finally we have new digs!! Not bought as the market here is too vicious - renting will buy us some time to find the right place for our budget - and the new digs are pretty good. A nice house halfway between the local park and the local shops only a couple of suburbs away from our beloved shams.

In honour of the move the brats are moving into single beds here they are playing on the new quilts I bought for their beds.