Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crystal ball

I wish I had a crystal ball...

School 1 - K-6 primary school. It has a great early learning program for Kindy and year 1. Children work at own pace, following own interests. There is group work. They use visuals so the children select 2-3 different activities to work on in the morning. Parent volunteers are trained and help in the classroom. Homework goes home each Friday - it is usually letters or sight words for the children to learn as well as a sheet explaining the week's social skills lesson. I think the principal is happy to have us but probably expects us to move Hannah on at grade 2 or 3. Where to? I don't know - and if we did that would mean disrupting Kit (whether we leave him there or no). Other parents say it will provide a nurturing environment. Specific support is unlikely although staff will receive some training from DSA association etc. Has a divided play area for K-2 and 3-6 kids. Occassional canteen. Playarea is mostly quadrangles - so all bitumen. Kids go to local oval (across the road) for sport. If it doesn't work out most likely to leave Kit there and move Hannah - either to a school with a special unit for children with mild intellectual disability or one with a unit for children with a moderate intellectual disability.

School 2 - K-2 infants school. Very old fashioned approach. Rigourous on routine and homework - I've heard they 'train the aprents' too. Very welcoming of us. Han would most likely be in a composite class with the assistant principal and a Learning Support Officer'. The AP is very happy to have her in there. Not so sure about structured parent volunteer programs although other parents say they feel welcome and can be involved. Lovely grassy grounds. No canteen. From here most likey to send them to School 3 for remainder of primary - further integration there may be more difficult although a number of other kids from this school also go onto school 3 too.

School 3 - K-6 with OC class (that's a special needs unit for students with moderate intellectual disability). Assistant Principal teaches kindy - happy to mainstream Han. If funding available may get an aid - together we work out best use of aid - eg I am worried that with hannah being shy with other kids that she will end up not belonging in the mainstream and not in the OC group either. Great grassy play areas. Teachers 'know all about DS, autism etc'. I have heard that there have been issues with bullying there. New principal this year - she seems good but obviously has some work to do - and I think she'll get it done. She is big on 'community'. If it doesn't work out - no real options. Transfer Hannah into the OC class -if she meets criteria and it is possible.

So - Hannah has great skills but her weak areas are expressive language and social interactions - she has great social skills (I've seen them with Kit and her best friend 12 yr old R) but lacks confidence and language skills to engage with her peers.

So does anyone have a crystal ball? What should I do? How do I look after the interests of both my precious brats?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A good day

We had a lovely weekend in the Dock. It was the end of school holidays and Sunday I got a few things organised as mondays are really busy at work. I cooked Monday night dinner in advance so that I could finally get to the gym (Ihaven't been for the last two weeks due to sickness - and really need to get back into it). It was 9.30pm and I just thought I'd double check work emails - and there it was - note from the principal "Happy Anzac Day, see you all Tuesday" - so YAY - in NSW Monday wasn't a public holiday to honour Anzac Day (Which fell on the Saturday) but for gov teachers it was. And it was for me too.

What did I do with this 'bonus day'? Well I dropped the kids at childcare at a leisurely 9am. Then went the gym followed by a shop - FOR ME (Wow!) at DJs. I bought a new jumper - pity I couldn't afford a new handbag or shoes or skirt as well - but at least the jumper is really nice and a good start. Then I called in at the coffee shop for supplies for the home coffee machine - home for lunch - Poirot was on the ABC. Then I swept and mopped all the floors. Painted my nails a lovely solid purple colour. At 3pm I went to get the kids.

While at childcare I chatted with the teacher in the room about the brats. The support person for the organisation had been out to visit Hannah and to start to prepare her education plan (yes I know - she has already been there 12 weeks - but hey - so it goes). Anyways this person, Sandra, has been visiting Han about once at term since she started at LDC. She always sets good goals for Hannnah, based on her own expertise, staff input and the form that I fill in too.

She was really impressed with how Hannah was going. The teacher in the room is new - started at the beginning of the year. She too was really positive about Hannah. Said how you wouldn't know there was a child with additional needs in the room specifically - cos Hannah follows the group routine really well. Knows the activities and plays independently. Gets her lunch wiith the otehrs etc. She commented on how much Hannah picks up from the other children and how she is also good at gettng what she wants and how she is using her speech more and how she sang along to the Play School theme today while Sandra was there and how she really has fun and tries her best to 'jump' with the other kids when they are singing Punchenalla (sp?).

Tomorrow I am going to call in at our preferred primary school - I must make sure to emphasise that they need to speak to the childcare centre and the EI mob as well as the preschool. It was stuff that I mostly knew but it was so nice to hear someone else agree - I sometimes think that P and I must be crazy to want to mainstream her with so little support. It is nice to know that not everyone in the mainstream jungle thinks that too.

It was also good to chat about Kit - and how he goes - the 'school of choice' has 2 streams so that we will be able to put them in separate classes. The teacher said that he is aware of where Hannah is and sometimes if she is slow to move to an activity he will go and help her but generally he is off playing with his friends. He has 2 really close and lovely friendships there.
A good day. Then I felt in such a good mood that even though we don't have the money I stopped in at the children's showshop and bought the brats some boots - they'll need them now taht the cooler weather of autumn has begun.

Tomorrow it is business as usual. Swimming in the morning and then music. The afternoon is free - I am thinking of making scones.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wiggles Go Bananas

When I was 18 I really liked a local band - the Cockroaches. They played at our school dance as well as us going and seeing them at various gigs when local indie music was popular in Sydney pubs. DH was in the school band - so he was the supporting act when they played in our school hall.
Years later they morphed into the Wiggles - and I couldn't wait to have children so I could go see them. Last year was the brats first Wiggles concert and they really liked it. They liked it even more this year. It was fantastic concert - so much fun. We were able to meet and greet the guys beforehand. Hannah ahd a drawing that she wanted to give to Murray. He was lovely and asked her about writing her name on it. Kit did a blue Mr Men style drawing for Anthony - he is holding it in the photo above.

As a 'special needs mama' I really love the Wiggles - they routinely and without fuss but very deliberately include kids with disabilities in everything they do - in their videos, at their meet and greets etc. They are fantastic guys and great role models. If only my DH could do the splits like that - we are about the same vintage as the Wiggles - but I couldn't see him on the gymnastics cube like that!!lol.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Don't be. She's beautiful. It took me two weeks while she was inutero to realise it - I'll give you three - she's 'downs' and we are so proud - and coming to a school near you! Oh lucky school. How beautiful is my little brat. I took these shots while we were on the 'teacup' ride at balmain Acoustica Festival today - BTW - a great day out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

One ordinary Day

It's the end of the first week of holidays in the Dock. My throat has been very sore for the past three days. Hannah has been snot city and both brats are coughing at night. Dad is also sick - so my DH has been carrying the extra load - I basically go to bed not long after her gets home from work.

I have however managed to get some sewing done. Firstly the quilt for R which we gave to her today and I think she really liked it - I hope so. As well as the bulk of the main squares for a walhanging using Japanese fabrics for our lounge room.

I woke up this morning feeling sorry for mysef. Other people get to stay home i bed when they are sick but not me. The kids have been great but definitely getting some cabin fever (partially cos it's school holidays and they aren't used to so much free time!). Hannah decided it was dress up day - and both spent a bit of time playing in their superhero costumes.

Then we walked to the local library, got a few supplies from the supermarket, played in the playground and came home. Morning tea then Hannah did some 'talking lessons' as they are called here - she did pretty well too! Then as a reward we had to do some colouring and some dancing. Lucky for me I got a call from Rudi our friend 'from around the corner' to say he was home with his kids and did we want to go to the library?
In the end he called by and took the brats tot he park with R and S - the twins' very favourite friends. While at the park - Kit saw Toby - his best friend from childcare so he got to play with him too. I then met them at a local cafe - very civilised. Once we got home the kids went straight to play so Rudi got to go and do a little shopping while the kids played together and I did a bit of sewing.

It made me wonder about the stereotype of the 1950s SAHM in her curlers doped up on valium. I don't think so - with lots of other adults also at home as well as all those delivery businesses. Rudi would no doubt have been called Madge - but that sort of interaction turned a pleasant ordinary day into a lovely ordinary day. Gotta love community and family - without those life would be less than ordinary.

We're outta here. Bye!

Origami Avions Djeco

I bought these paper airplanes as a stocking filler at Christmas - the link is in the title. They are great. They are meant to be for ages 7 - 12 so they need their Dad to help. Kit sometimes makes paper airplanes out of plain paper and then every now and again he brings out the kit and lots of fun is had by all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Well the visit to the specialist confirmed it - Hannah has childhood psoriasis. Now onto the regime of treatment ointments and creams to get her skin back into condition and then hopefully onto some tar creams to keep it tip top!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quilt for R

Inspired by Melissa at Banana Migraine I was talking to DH about trying to get some quilting done these school holidays. A wallhanging for our lounge room and perhaps to do some work on a quilt that Rs mum started and I have been helping with - we have chosen colours for the borders etc but had not done any actual sewing on it - so it is definitely time to get started.
Boris took himself off to the drawing table to make a quilt for R. He came back in witha lovely picture of the quilt he wanted to make her. So yesterday afternoon he and I went through my scrapbox to see what we could find, then a trip to Spotlight and then we came home and got to work. Kit's contribution to the sewing was to put his foot on the peddle! Still the results are pretty good and I think he should be proud - I hope R likes it.
Now on to the wallhanging and the bedquilt I was actually talking about...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday

The wonders of play doh

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Friday

Kit is very proficient on the computer - and has been for a while - at the moment he likes to prepare powerpoint presentations for Hannah's 'talking lessons' using clipart. Hannah has been wanting to have a go on the alptop for a long time too - but she just didnt' have the concept of moving the mouse in relation to the arrow on the screen. It was a very difficult time - because I knew she really wanted to know how to use the computer. I considered asking her EI teachers for some ideas. Her ST made one simple suggestion - put a sticker on the left mouse for her to at least click correctly. I did this and then Kit or I would help line up the cursor on the screen. Anyways I don't know what happened but in the last 3-4 weeks (after using some fo the powerpoint presentations) she is just steaming ahead. Pretty much one fo the first things she says when she wakes up is 'Piglet game'. Here she is first thing Friday morning having been told that it was Kit's turn ont he computer:
Lucky after a rocky start every one had a great day:
Balloon fun

Watering the vegies.
Hannah on a lounge on R on a lounge.
R made delicious cupcakes
On Friday our good friends from around the corner came over and cooked us lunch. It was beautiful - and a lovely afternoon too. My sister and her family dropped over too - they arrived from Brisvegas just the night before. Her son slept over - Hannah was exhausted and crashed before dinner. She spent most of the night in our bed. The boys went to bed at Kit's usual bedtme but then in true slumber party tradition stayed up chatting til nearly 10. They had a ball.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Hat Parade

Still feeling anxious and nervous about school. Oh well there isn't anything we can do about it now. We have put in an applicaton to enrol at the catholic one (our preferred option - Both brats would like it there) and I will put in an application at the gov infants school after the holidays - I have it ready but didn't get a chance the last couple of days.

DH took the day off work - I was so jealous! - to take the kids to preschool and then watch the Easter parade and have lunch there with the preschool. I notice in the photoes that Han is often with the aid. That is a worry because the catholic school will be visiting her there to assess her - and I need her to be a bit better at playing with other kids. SOcial skills are essential in school and will be abig help to her. I did stress that they need to talk to her EI provider as well. Oh well - I need to give up on it for a bit. Focus on baking and creating chocolate bunnies for Easter.

We have good friends are cooking us lunch today which will be lovely. Later on I hope to catch up with ny sister dwho has driven up for easter with her DH and son. It will be good to see then.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Up and Down

So I was feeling quite good - Plan A and Plan B - in place by COB tomorrow. Then got a call from the CEO support person. I don't know. I drove home in tears. Why can't they just see Hannah? Why do they think that P and I are too stupid to realise what its going to be like? Why are they too stupid to see beyond their own prejudice. Oh she was nice as pie. But still I can't help feeling there is an underlying wish that we would bugger off and go to the state system where they have to take kids like Hannah - where 'they are better equipped to take kids like Hannah' - although the only benefit she mentioned was the classes have 20 kids as opposed to Catholic schools which can have any number and often have about 30.

I just look at Han and my heart melts. I want to keep her with me I wonder what is the point of all the work we do with her if still she can't be seen on her own terms. I'm not delusional about my daughter. I want her happiness more than anything. I also don't want to sell her short. I feel so tired - and I haven't even lodged an application for enrolment anywhere yet. It is ridiculous.

Tomorrow I'll drop in enrolment forms at the two schools on our wish list - knowing that each is secretly hoping the other ends up with her.

One item found ... now where is ...?

Whoo hoo! found the birth certificates - unfortunately the cylinder didn't include baptism certificates... hmm... would rather put my feet up but the house looks like burglars have been through it and I have some baptism certificates to find.

Why I like this school

Principal is warm and welcoming (although she did go on about making sure we'd considered alternatives and our needing to be flexible to 'move' Hannah on when she falls further behind her peers - ie - the placement is no longer in hannah's best interest - she seemed to think that this was inevitable whereas I think of it only as possible)

The Kindy classroom is great - it has an atmosphere that is a good mix between childcare/preschool and 'big school'.

Lots of small group work.

Children select activities for the morning's learning from a visual board (like the activities board that the brats used at EI last year)

Parents can be trained and assist in the class regularly.

They have a multilit class - also 'manned' by parent volunteers - I have seen this in action while studying at Macquarie Uni and it really helps kids who are behind in their reading - it uses drills, sight words and phonics - a great program.

It is a catholic school so prayer and liturgy are just part of the normal school life

The classes aren't huge - especially by catholic standards

As I was leaving the interview I ran into an old friend who used to work with P. She raved about the school and is clearly involved - has a child in year 2 and one in kindy.

The kindy - 2s are involved in an Early Learning Program that is quite radical for a conventional primary school but that seems to be very effective with most kids - especally brats like Hannah.

I liked the set up in the library. And it is open sometimes at lunch.

The principal is clearly devoted to kids and the students really like her.

It is mainstream and it is not too far form where we live.

They teach 'social skils' explicitly in kindy - again this will really suit Hannah.

The mum I met said that they dealt with bullying very well.

As for any school - Hannah would benefit from some funding to enable her to have some one on one time - this is possible in the class setting but it is very unlikely the $$ will be available. Still - parent volunteers may help a bit. It was a little hard to 'read' the principal - does she really want Hannah? [I was pleased that P and I were able to point out that we want a school that doesn't just see the extra work Hannah brings - but sees her as an opportunity - as one of the good things about the job of teaching. I think the principal got our point on that one.]

Overall - it is easily the most appropriate choice for our twins. Now where do you think I put those birth certificates - at $42 each to replace plus a 5 week wait - I'd rather find the ones I already have!


So where are they?? I last used the brats' birth certificate about this time last year to get them into preschool. Their baptism certificate is in this lovely gold tube with the brith certificates - do you think I can find them? Happy hunting today I guess - the joys of moving house and 'tidying up are lost on me at the moment. [sigh]

Monday, April 06, 2009

In love ... and nervous...

Well we went to the interview at the local catholic primary - and loved it. Now the wait - I hope we read the principal right. I think it is a great place for the brats. I feel such relief - andsuch nerves - now we apply to enrol. Fingers crossed the journey has only just begun.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

small relief

Today being the first Sunday of the month I go to mass at the 'other' parish - the one where I am meeting the school principal tomorrow... the homily was on 'welcoming others' on 'going out of our comfort zone' to do just that.. it was like a breath of fresh air - now I just have to hope that the principal agrees! And yep - there is was where it belongs - the parish census - if you like, regular donations - if you like, invitation to become a reader, eucharistic minister etc - all very welcoming, sensible and friendly - and not linked to your chances of enrolling at their school across the road. Also some centenary wine --- mmm ---- I might get some of that!

I did run into an old neighbour of ours whose kids go to the school with the rather mean spirited priest - she says its fine cos you never really see him - not sure if that is good enough for me though! lol!

Hannah's friend got ehr mum to ring to say there was a giant frog at our local shops with baloons etc as she thought the twins might like to go there. She was right so while the four kids played in the playground there and tormented the poor frog, the grown ups had a cuppa together at a local cafe - very nice. Afterwards Dad and I drove Hannah into the art gallery to see the Archibald. We did try and disuade her as it was getting late but she clearly wanted to go tot he gallery - so off we went. She had a ball. It was interesting watching to see which paintings she liked - and then of course she wanted to come home to do some painting herself.

Easter lunch is in the Dock - I've written up clues for the easter egg hunt - will type them up tonight. On Thursday the brats need an easter hat for the school parade - the preschoolers are participating in - I wish I could go watch but taking a half day tomorrow is already stretching work's goodwill. Luckily their father will take the day off so that they have family in the audience and for the lunch to follow. It is our first 'school project' so I called on reinforcements - I needed the wisdom of my girlfriend who just made one for her son (he's 10) last week - she is sending over the twins' beloved R to help with this craft activity - I bought feathers and gold crepe paper, cardboard and little pom pom things so I think we should be right - got a marshmallow bunny for afternoon tea which I am looking forward to too! Yum.

Friday, April 03, 2009

On Catholic Schools and sleepless nights

Well we are a little further down the path of selecting a school for the brats. I have an appointment with the principal of a nearby Catholic school on Monday and I am pretty sure which public school I'll be applying to as backup.

Yesterday I spoke with the twins preschool teacher. Her feelings were that Hannah would get lost in a mainstream kindy class - that without adequate teacher support the teacher wouldn't be able to help her enough. Having said that her main concern was the fact that Hannah prefers to play independently. She doesn't 'mix' with the other kids although she did say that she played well outside. Skillwise she commented on how well Hannah did and how some of the things she can do surprised her. Overall she seemed to think that a special needs class would be better although she also said that it was early days and kids change a lot etc. The complicating factors include that Hannah probably wouldn't be accepted into a special needs class - based on professional assessments, plus it isn't where I feel she belongs at this early stage of her educaton either. I'm not however discounting her advice.

The public school I am thinking of applying to is an infants school (yes I know that has drawbacks - for both kids not just Hannah) but at the moment they have a composite class which includes about 5 special needs littlies and some of the more independent learners - so in effect an integrated special needs class wthout the label. It is only single stream - so small with fewer resources and options than a larger 2 stream school.

Then there is the local Catholic school. I've been through it twice now - last year and this year. Its nice - lovley atmosphere. Good grounds. A good mix of technologies - smart boards in some rooms. Lego robotics for the grade 4s. 2 streams so more resources. Keyboard lessons available (not the recorder!!). They have 30 kids in each kindy class - in a large classroom with dividers that are usually left open. There are 2 teachers and a teachers aid in there all the time. It has a structured and diligent feel to it. And like all parochial catholic schools the parish priest is an essential part of the enrolment process.

I am catholic. I attended catholic primary and secondary schools and then I got my teaching diploma through what was then known as the Catholic Teachers College. I usually attend mass although I don't think I'll end up in hell if I miss a week. I have taught for more than half my career in two catholic highschools - one parochial CEO (Catholic Education Office) one and one independent one. I loved working at both - and am very positive about giving my own children the same opportunity for a catholic education. I like the values and sense of prayerful community.

We moved to this parish about 18 months ago. From a lovely parish with a great parish priest. This one - not so great. Boring, tyrannical, bullying are just a few descriptors that come to mind. For example: last week in mass 'he' is rabitting on about the parish school (CEO) open day - and makes the comment that when a family brings their child to be baptised in the parish and on the parish census they write 'nil' contribution - well he 'remembers that when they come to enrol 5 years later' at the parish school. Hmm - not what I would think of as Christian values. And then he moved off and after inexplicable comments about his love of beer and tiramisu chastised us for not attending church regularly. So all in all NOT an uplifting or spiritual experience - I came out feeling as mean spirited as he is.

The following week was the school open day and yes - the school is lovely and has an excellent reputation and I can see why. Then I ask about Hannah - the principal conveys through her office staff that it 'won't be a problem' (when Hannah's DS is mentioned) but that she would like to meet us for an interveiw to dsicuss Hannahs needs. No worries - I am happy with that and ask for an enrolment package. Get it home - open it up - standard CEO form. Usual stuff - school philosophy and Family Handbook. All good. A parish Census form - yep that 's fine - but why the request for credit card details - ah! there it is on the back - your contributions to the parish - credit card or weekly envelope - and you are asked to state a figure.

As a regular attendee I don't have a problem with contributing financially to the parish I attend. Here it is though - not just implied after the priest's comments last week - I am being bullied or blackmailed into paying to the parish in ADDITION to the school scheduled school fees - in order to be accepted into the school. I wonder how much am I meant to comit to - and what can I afford anyway? If placing Hannah is going to be difficult - and after this past few weeks and lots of sleepless nights and teary anxiety and panic attacks over that one I can't deny it is the scariest things have been since her OHS -do I want to deal with this sort of powertrip?? I know and have been advised by others that a good school can happen in spite of a crazy priest - but he still has a prescence in the school and some of his values must surely rub off - it doesn't seem very positive for inclusion to me. It makes me angry and upset.

I had sort of been told how things would be (his reputation preceds him) which is why I had also gone to another catholic school nearby - one that doesn't have any of that nonsense. The principal seems intelligent caring and well organised - lets hope that Monday's meeting goes well as I really owuld love for my children to experience a good catholic education. Oh and perhaps if we caould all send out a mean little wish that the local PP gets put out to pasture sooner rather than later...I am sure that God would understand.