Saturday, February 26, 2011

PsychoMum or Advocate?

This is one that I am still negotiating. It's a matter of trial and error - or so I am learning. Take this morning. I take Hannah to her dance class which she loves. I noticed that she had a little ooze in one ear beforehand but she really wanted to go and to all intents and purposes seemed fine. I mentioned the ear infection to her teacher - he is lovely btw - about 23 and he signs (!) Hannah is in love with him (as are many of the little girls). He asked what I wanted him to do - I simply said to send her out if she wasn't coping.
I then went and got a t/a coffee and pastry - and came back and sat out in the foyer with a couple of other Mums. A couple of times I heard him say her name loudly - which is unusual. Then after about 40 minutes I heard him yell "I can't do anything with Hannah" to the woman on the front desk (his Mum) who went down to his class. I hesitated and then got up and went down the hall - to meet her as she was leaving the room. "Is that my Hannah?" I asked. She said that the teacher wanted to see me at the end of the lesson - and that he wanted to suggest putting Hannah back into the younger class because she wasn't coping with the routines in this older group. I sat down and felt tears well up but supressed them.
He was clearly having a bad day - came out with young girl who needed ice and cuddles. Then he spoke with me - said that he thought she'd be better off in the younger group again - and perhaps she could come to that group (her age appropriate one) for the warm up. I told him that that was fine by me.
As she and I walked back to the car i gave her lots of cuddles and hugs. I felt the tears come up again. Another Mum (who was in the foyer all lesson too) asked me how she was going. I said that she was going back to the younger group. We chatted a bit more and then went our separate ways. When I got home I told DH what had happened - I still felt teary about it. The yelling really upset me. It didn't respect Hannah as a person - a person who is working so hard to 'keep up' and who they are lucky to have in their danceschool. I felt that I had let her down by not taking her out as soon as I heard that yelling.
I decided I needed to redeem myself as a parent before next week so I rang up and spoke to the woman from the front desk. I reiterated that I think the teacher is great with Hannah but that I really didn't like to hear him yelling like that. I also restated that I was happy to be guided by them as to the best class for Hannah. Yes I understood he needs to be firm with her but I didn't think that raising his voice so it could be heard out in the foyer was appropriate. Anyways it is done and I feel better because psychomum or no - I didn't just let it pass without comment.
There is of course a part of me that is sad that she isn't coping in the age appropriate group but I don't believe that is what had me in hyper protective mode. I hope not anyway because that is my issue not Hannah's and not her dance teachers either. Sigh. A blip on the journey - one of many I know - I wonder how long she'll be able to stay at dance? Special needs dance classes near us seem to be for older kids....we'll see how she goes next week. I have always dreaded the 'advocate' part of being a special needs Mum - I am such a wimp. Yesterday's incident was minor yet I felt totally buggered by it all. It wasn't about any significant learning opportunity either - Hannah doesn't have to go to dance - she goes for fun, exercise and because she wants to. I am very lucky to have good friends so I popped around the corner for a cup of tea and a chat with an old friend and felt much better. Today I discussed it with another Mum whose daughter is in the younger class - so Hannah will have someone she knows there. There is a strong circle of protective love for my girl that comes from our community. It is her and my safety net and I am very glad of it.
The next day I took the brats to a party. 10 minutes in Hannah's ear was much worse and she just wanted cuddles. Her father came and got her early and I stayed with Kit. Today I have had to take a day off work - I have made a drs appointment for her later on and kept her home from school. Hopefully antibiotics will fix it soon. She seems to be enjoying a day of rest at home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hannah has two best friends at school - a little girl and this young fellow - he's funny and smart and crazy and spirited and caring - what's not to love? Love you Mr Z!
Two very beautiful little boys...
Some great kids. We were very fortunate in the mix of kindy kids we found at our local school. They are just a great bunch of kids in their own right and for us, in embarking on the 'mainstream journey' these little people and their families have been fantastic - couldn't have asked for better...
I's mum says she managed to get a photo of the three kids...
a sliding brat....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feb - midreport

Swimming again. Kit was allowed back in the water now his stitches have been removed. They had a blast.

Lots of bits and pieces have been happening but nothing in particular - so here is a random catch up of the days of our lives... With the arrival of all the electronic games it seemed as if Kit would never draw again.... so I bought some bath crayons and he agreed to not play electronic games Tues - Thurs - and voila! A drawing of Ben 10 aliens... I love having my 'boy' back.

A Valentines card for Hannah from her friend Z
Kit has been practising his keyboard regularly with less fuss so that is nice:
Hannah has been enjoying drawing and writing. This morning she didn't want to practice her spelling words but was happy to write out the names of everyone in her family. Speech wise she is doing great too - I can't remember what I had done but yesterday when I said 'no' she went straight to her father and basically said 'make Mummy say yes' the little bugger! Then after getting two teeth extracted I was driving her home - I asked if she wanted her ipod and when she said no I suggested she and I just listen to a cd. I found one already loaded - the Hillbillies which Kit likes but Hannah clearly didn't want it - she signed 'shut door' and from that I worked out she wanted 'Rattlin' Bones' by Kasey Chambers - and so she and I sang along to it on the way home.

I have finally organised for Hannah to have orthotics (again) I am trying a place a bit closer to home hoping it will keep me more vigilant as she really needs some support her arches are really fallen in. Unfortunately this is the only health professional that she doesn't cooperate with! Today at the dentist - she was great. When I take her to the drs - it's the same - she works hard to understand what they want her to do - and then she gives it a go. Not so the podiatrist. It's because he tried to take a footprint to custom cast an orthotic - and the machine scared her. Now she is wary of anything about him - so he ordered in a foam box to use as a mould - no way was she putting her feet in it (even though she has done this before at the old gait clinic) so in the end we went with off the shelf, slightly modified ones. She was happy because they are red and once he'd snuck them into her shoes and she realised that they were ok she was eager to show them to dad and grandpa. Outside waiting to pay was so lovely - I was letting her know that I'd take a photo of them so Grandpa could see them (Dad is in Brisbane at the moment) and put it on my computer - to which she said "Hannah missing Grandpa". How lovely is that? I hope Dad manages to sell his house and come down for a long visit soon. I miss him too.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Things have been going pretty well at the Shams. The twins are settling in well at school. Kit was so excited to be elected to the SRC he was just about bursting with pride. Hannah and I have begun trying out routines on how to best manage the homework demands of Year 1 - spelling in particular. So far so good.
Saturday was in some ways a disaster - well return to extra curricular activities went famously but those electronic games and Kit are not mixing well at all. We had the most amazing tantrums - to the point were really he was hysterical and Phil and I were totally angry and frustrated. We are slowly working out the best approach so that he can enjoy his games but not be so overwhelmed by the whole thing. Our rules at the moment - no electronic devices Tues - Wed - the exception being if he wants the computer for something 'educational' such as Mathletics. That worked ok - hence it was the weekend where the wheels came off the wagon - honestly if we don't come up with a sound system that is workable - we will consider saying that the 'devices' are only for school holidays. Television is not counted as an electronic device in our house so Hannah has been largely unaffected by the debacles. Weekend strategy was a total failure on Sat - although the turning off of all devices regardless of pleading did meant hat once Kit had calmed down he and I had a wonderful afternoon while Phil and Hannah were at Rainbow CLub. Dinner was a Japanese chicken salad and I happened to have one of those sushi kits in the cupboard - I've never used them but it seemed a sensible Mother & Son activity. Kit was reluctant at first but soon forgot his computer angst and had a ball. Then we had a bath together - and I have those bath crayons in there at the moment so we each drew a Japanese garden. Well had just loved that - and after saying so a number of times he decreed that each Sat when the others are at swimming this is what we should do. I found a coffee table book of Japanese COurtyard Gardens and told him about the small Japanese garden that we had had at our old house. That night as we read one of his favourite kids books about Monet - and saw the bridges he painted it was declared that next week will be French night at our house. I am looking forward to it.
On Sunday it was decided to do some painting:
Hannah was proudest of her nail painting prowess
The actual painting well the painting on paper:
Did I mention that most of this occurred on her father's watch?
Hannah's fine motor skills are really coming along quite well - check out her little lego bus:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I could hardly believe it...

Last week I admit to feeling just a teensy weensy bit apprehensive. Phil and the twins were invited away on a 'dads and kids' weekend. A holiday at the beach - with a pool too - was available. Initially we discussed it and decided to just send Phil and Kit. Hannah has been exhausted after school and I wanted her to rest up. ALso I knew she'd probably demand more attention from Phil. Then the email came thorough - dinner out on Sat nights for the Mums. One of the dads was taking his Year 1 son and his 3 year old. Hannah wouldn't be the only one who needed a bit 'extra' supervision, plus there was a few kids going that I knew she really liked and played with - and so we decided to send her too. 6 dads, 14 kids later...Patiently I bit my lip waiting for instructions re food and what to pack. No word. I asked a few of the other Mums. The organisers wife (who is absolutely gorgeous) said that everyone was asking her about it - it was her husbands gig and she'd told him to get organised on it. She did tell us to pack QS sheets. Hmmm as Friday afternoon approached way too quickly I bought poppers, treats and heaps of fruit. Phil and I laughed and wondered how like Lord of the Flies the weekend might prove to be...Friday morning the 'organisation roster' was delivered. A few last minute bits and pieces were done and not long after 4pm I got the call to say that Phil and the kids were on their way.

I stopped off at JB HI FI on my way home from work - picked up a couple of classic chick flicks to enjoy and some take away for dinner. Relaxing at home - it was about 7.30 when I got the call.
Phil: No problem, everything here is fine. I just wanted to ask about Kit.
Me: Yes? What about Kit
Phil: Look he's fine, he's sitting here eating an iceblock.
Long pause.
Phil: He's hurt his head - on the bunks. It's stopped bleeding but he has a jagged cut on his head. It's an open wound. He's fine though. {You're fine aren't you mate? Kit it's mum on the phone...vague sounds of Kit saying my name in the background}
Phil: Do you think I should take him to a dr? he's fine. A (one of the dads) rang his sister - she's a nurse. SHe said it should be ok - just to boil some water and clean it.
Oh Yeah - did I say Lord of the Flies? What could I say? I told that man to get my son up to Gosford hospital asap and ring me as soon as he got there. Eventually he got in to see a dr who gave Kit 2 stitches in his scalp and told him he couldn't get it wet - no beach, no pool. In true Dad style - he went to the beach with everyone - and it got a 'little wet', then he had a blast in the water fight! It's not that his father doesn't parent him - it's just a different style isn't it? Anyway the twins had an absolute blast and came home very excited about their time away.

One of the questions phil asked me was what to do with hannah while he took her to the hospital. Leave her with A and D (the 2 other dads who were up there that night) I suggested. Which he did. These are dads we met at school last year. Lovely men. I knew they'd be fine with Hannah and they were. The next day Phil was out shopping (for dinner!) and the kids all went in the pool. Hannah wanted to too. When Phil got home A said that he'd not known whether it was alright or not but then decided 'why not?' and so little brat was happily playing around the edges of the pool when Phil got home. That's what I think is great about dads parenting - and although it may have resembled an episode of SUrvivor - survive they did. Survive and thrive in fact. Lol.
And on an even brighter note... I had driven out to mind my nieces and nephews while my SIL drove to the hospital thinking that her BIL was going to pass away that night. I got to her place about 10pm. She returned at 6am. He was still going. I wondered how on earth they were going to keep this up. Her husband (my BIL) had been up there at his brothers bedside for a long time. They wouldn't be able to keep it up. He was still only early 40s it may take days before his body finally stopped. I rang her that night. The hospital had spoken to them. He was going to be moved from ICU to palliative care. I wouldn't be needed to mind the kids again that night. I was relieved for their family.
On Sat morning I woke up alone in the house except for our dog. It was bliss. I pottered around and then thought I'd ring my SIL to see if she needed any help and to hear how Miles was going in palliative care...well MY LORD!!!!! Apparently they'd shifted him to a heart ward en route to palliative care. They were still treating him palliatively. At one point his morphine was less and he spoke and tried to sit up. He recognised his father and his friend who was there. He smiled at his dad's bad joke...How fantastic is that??? He didn't recognise his girlfriend but he has only known her for just on 1 year - and originally we were told that 'best case scenario' was that he will have memory loss of around 8-12 months. Well that is what it looks like now. They started treating him again - hiving him antibiotics for his chest infection. Managing his pain differently and putting him back on the ventilator. I still can't fathom it - it was such wonderful news. I know it's likely to be a hard road of rehab and he isn't out of the woods but FGS - his family are thinking about planning rehabilitation where just a few days ago they were discussing funeral arrangements. What a wonderful world we live in. I had a pep in my step all day just thinking of him. I haven't rung again - I want to give them time - but will ring again in a day or so to see how he is faring now. I am so happy for him and my nieces and nephews - they may just get to keep their Uncle Miles for many more years. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I come from a matriarchal family. I have few recollections of my uncles. Mum's brother was young and wild. I have a couple of happy memories of him - in my aunt and grandmother's house in Brisbane - teaching us kids to spit, giving us sips of his beer (XXXX of course!). We didn't see him that much - he was roaming, brawling and labouring with a bit of rodeo riding on the side. There is a photo of him that I love. It reminds me of the 70s cigarette advertisement - Marlboro Man.

Years later when my family were in Sydney and i was in my early teens we had a couple of Christmases on our own - just the 5 of us, Mum, Dad and the three girls. All our extended family were in Brisbane and country QLD. One year I can remember our excitement and joy when unexpectedly 2 people rocked up at our door. Yep, mum's brother had finally found himself a good woman and on the spur of the moment they decided to park the truck and visit us. (Family rumour has it that the QLD constabulary had suggested my uncle not return to QLD - I don't know how accurate that rumour is but he moved to Vic and then later to WA where he still lives - with that same 'good woman'. My eldest sister keeps in touch with them.) It felt great to have some other family around at Christmas. Mum was absolutely in her element.

Then there is the 'uncle' by marriage who is best forgotten really - except to say that I feel very lucky that my sisters and I never became his prey. None of that came out until years later but even as kids I don't have any strong memories of him. He was just 'around' although I love his exwife - Mum's sister to bits. And my cousins from that family are great too.

Then there was my godfather - husband to Dad's sister. I liked him a lot when I was younger. I remember waiting out the front of the family home in Sunnybank - watching down the street for an old fashioned figure wearing - I can't recall what they are called - you know - the old mens hats that have made a bit of a comeback this year? I bought Phil a black straw one in fact - but my uncle's were felt, checkered with a little feather in the side -a fedora? He also carried a tattered gladstone bag. He was a labourer and soon he was older and out of work. More recent memories are dominated by his absence. He was usually at the TAB putting on a bet, or drinking a few pints - he'd come home late for tea and not long before we had to leave. A merry sentimental tipsy old man who wanted to 'jitterbug'. He collapsed and died in his kitchen some years ago now. My cousin, his oldest son refused to let them take his body away and the police had to step in to help. My aunt misses him every day.

The twins have a couple of our close friends that they occasionally refer to as 'uncle' although technically they are not. It is more as a sign of respect and to show the close relationship these men have with our family. Their godfather for example who Hannah just loves. I never had that. Mum and Dad pretty much kept to themselves and the family when we were growing up.

They also have Phil's brother who lives in Melbourne and my SILs husband in Sydney. Then there are my sisters husbands who live in Brisbane. But one of the uncles who stand out in our family - is the uncle of my nieces and nephews - Miles. He is my brotherinlaw's brother. His brother married Phil's sister if that makes sense. He and his father have become regular features at family gatherings over the years and for a period of time he lived with my SIL and his brother and their kids.
He is a lovely man. The kids adore him. He plays with them, riles them up and brings them the most ridiculous presents which they just love. He is kind and gentle with them too - and also very sweet with Hannah and Kit. Just 2 weeks ago we had a family gathering to celebrate the January birthdays and he was there - as usual. Playing video games with the kids, chatting with the adults, swimming with the family. Then we went down south for a week at the beach. A few days after we got back - just last Thursday in fact, he was bushwalking and had a heart attack. His girlfriend knows CPR and kept him breathing - luckily a helicopter was there to rescue someone with a broken leg - once they were contacted they assisted Miles. But still he had been unconscious and not breathing for around 30 minutes - the damage was done. Tonight the plan is to take him off the respirators, and let him go. It is heartbreaking and shocking. So quickly - so unexpected. My poor SIL and BIL - they had so much on last year I was really hoping that 2011 would be a much better year for them - it isn't starting out that way at all.
So as I write this I say a prayer and pay tribute to a wonderful man who is a great uncle and who soon will not be with us. I hope his passing is painless and pray for strength for the family he leaves behind. God speed Uncle Miles and look after his loved ones left behind.