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Thursday, November 25, 2010

this time it's not my fault!

Hellooo!  Anyone out there?

I'm back after a few weeks of major computer drama.  About six weeks ago my computer overheated and turned itself off.  I noticed that the hard drive was somehow up against a cupboard, so I moved it away and carried on as usual, putting the malfunction down to that.

Well, about two weeks ago, I came home to discover that, in my absence, the computer had turned itself off again.  More ominously, there was a bit of a funny smell...

In the spirit of adventure, or possibly lunacy, I turned the beast on again.  Within seconds (yes, literally) great clouds of dark grey smoke were billowing out of the back of the hard drive.

You won't be surprised to know that it was dead.  Very, very dead.

No, I don't have a lovely shiny new computer now.  In fact, we now have an old hard drive from Pacino's work.  It's mostly useless, and so very s-l-o-w.  The guy who connected it up for me (I'd paid him large amounts of money to tell me the old one was dead,. so while he was there I got him to save me a few days angst and connect it all up) told me that we really need to get a new one pronto, but this one will do for a time.  Luckily, because there's no new one coming for quite a while.  He also advised me not to overload it with too much "stuff", so I haven't bothered connecting the camera or anything.  So, boring blogs from me for a bit.

We didn't lose anything much, because I'd backed everything up a few months ago.  Any photos that we lost are still on the memory card in the camera, so all is well there.

I have so much blog reading to catch up on!  I've missed hearing about everyone's adventures.  So that's where I'm heading next, and I'll be back soon to fill you in on our news.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

a visit from the mad hatter

Apparently, our dogs needed hats.  So the Gig decided to make them some. She used her old jeans and some elastic that she found lying about stole from the Bear's party hat, and created hats.  For dogs.  Go figure.

Jasper, being the media tart that he is, wears his hat with pride and, may I say, panache.

Harlan (in the green collar), on the other hand, feels faintly ridiculous in his.  I can't imagine why.

 But the title of Hat-Wearer-Extrordinaire must go to the Bear.  Anyone who can look this sensational in a sparkly purple bowler hat gets my vote!
This was the best photo I could get.  After all, what's the fun of wearing a sparkly purple bowler hat if you're not running around in circles?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

time for a catch up!

Slacker McGee, reporting for blogging duty.

I'm still alive!  I just really haven't been in the mood for blogging lately, and we've been so busy that I've barely had time to anyway.  I'm really sorry that I left you all with such a negative post for so long, but I'm in a better mood now, so this one will be happier.  Not that I actually have any idea what I'm planning to write, mind you.  It's a sort of "fly by the seat of my pants" post.  Think of it as an adventure, if you will.

So where to start?  Maybe with our family holiday to the beach last month.  We had a ball, even though it rained most of the time we were there.  The Bear re-discovered his obsession with lifts (elevators), and we passed the time merrily away by riding in the lift probably 40 times every day.  Bear in mind that we were on the ground floor and didn't actually need to use the lift at all.  He lost all of his words that week, but did find one new one - "Ni".  Or, as we might say, "Lift".  Seriously, that was the only word he said all week.  But he said it so often that it took me a day or two to realise that he wasn't saying anything else!

The Gig had a great time swimming at the pool and the beach.  Who remembers those freezing swimming sessions as a child, with your parents wrapped up in winter woollies at the side of the pool, while you, teeth chattering and lips turning a fetching shade of blue, swore blind that you weren't cold?  You do?  Then you'll be able to imagine the Gig's pool time perfectly!

It was a lovely holiday, though not remotely restful or relaxing.  But now we're back to reality, which for me involves a lot, and I do mean a lot, of time in the car, ferrying my children from one activity or therpay session to another.  It seems that everything we do is on the other side of town.  Speech and OT are a twenty minute drive away, and the  autism siblings group that the Gig starts today is half an hour away, in good traffic.  Of course, it finishes right on peak hour...

We do have some sad news.  Our beloved little dog Harlan has heart failure.  It can be treated but not cured, and his life expectancy is probably about eighteen months.  We are very sad, but determined to make his life happy, if cut short.  He's eight years old, and heart failure is very common in Cavaliers, but it's still come as a shock.

I'm having trouble (again!) with uploading pictures, so I'll leave you with something to imagine instead.  The Bear loves Bob the Builder, and every now and then he brings me his Bob shirt, which shows Bob wearing a hard hat and holding a spanner, to put on him.  Then, he grabs his Bob hard hat  and Bob spanner, and runs down to the mirror in my room.  He puts the hat on, and holds the spanner in exactly the same way that Bob is.  Then, deeply satisfied, he looks at himself in the mirror.  That's how my gorgeous little boy plays at "being Bob the Builder".  How cute is that?

Right, the TV is silent, which means that the Wiggles is finished.  More worryingly, the Bear is silent too.  I'll see you later!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ask no questions...

You could be like me, and ask the question you've been putting off for months.  You could think that you really want to know the answer; that you can cope with it; that anything's better than not knowing.

You'd be wrong.

I asked the question, and now I have to live with the answer.

It was a one-part question with a two-part answer.

Part one:  The Bear will almost certainly develop functional speech.

Part two:  He is unlikely to develop social speech.

In other words, he'll be able to tell me he's hungry but not that he's sad.  Or certainly, not why he's sad.  No social speech.

I've been lying in bed, unable to sleep, with that phrase running through my head: "No social speech.  No social speech.  No social speech."

And another thing.  Echolalia.  I'd been thinking it was cute, and quirky, if somewhat annoying at times.  But it has just dawned on me that when I say "Hello Bear" and he says "Eh-o Bear", it's because he doesn't know what to say.  It's such a basic instinct, to say hello to someone who says hello to you.  How can you not know what to say?  "Hello Bear".  No social speech.

There's more I want to say about this, but I can't quite sort my thoughts out.  (No social speech.  No social speech.)  

I'll be back soon, with my happy hat back on, I promise.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

big boy bed

In about twenty minutes, the Bear's brand new big boy bed will be delivered.

We hadn't planned to get him a bed quite this soon.  We liked the fact that he is contained in the cot, and that for whatever reason, my climbing monkey hadn't ever thought to climb out of it.

But on Monday night, I made a discovery.

It was about 6pm, and the Bear was in his room.  I thought I'd grab the opportunity to try to read him a story.  (I know, I know, what was I thinking - the Bear doesn't listen to stories.)  I sat down with him on my lap, and read "Each peach pear plum, I spy - Bear, what are you doing?  Come out from under the co..." 

And that's when I saw it.  The base of the cot was sagging, just a bit.  I pulled myself up from the floor, using the cot as leverage in my unfit way, and the base sagged just a wee bit more.  "Oh crap", I thought.  I lifted up the mattress and saw, not a cot base, but a collection of kindling held together by more kindling. "Oh, crappity crap crap crap!", I thought again.  

I can only assume that the Bear had been practising his new-found skill of jumping.  A lot.

So we made a frantic phone call to Aunty S, who lives round the corner, I threw the kids into the car, and we went round to borrow their travel cot.  

By the time we got home, Pacino was home as well.  While the Gig entertained the Bear, Pacino and I effortlessly assembled the travel cot swore, shoved, swore some more, had a tiny tiff, and eventually got the travel cot assembled.

And the next morning, the Bear and I went shopping for a new big boy bed, which has just been delivered as we speak.  I'm not putting it up until Friday, because I need to put the baby gate up at his door first.  Also, the Bear will be at daycare on Friday, and, to be honest, I'd rather not have his help.

A big boy bed.  My little baby Bear.  Excuse me while I cry.

Friday, August 20, 2010

the old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be

Soon, I will be the amazing woman who baffles hairdressers the world over.  You, dear readers, will be able to say, "I knew her when..." 

When my hair wasn't completely and irreversibly grey.  When I had a bit of chestnut, chocolate brown, blonde, boring brown, red, black (that was bad).  Before my hair changed in an instant from lovely, glossy, freshly coloured gorgeousness to wiry, stressed-out grey.  The sort of grey that says "Brand new semi?  Foils?  Pshaw! I'll see you your semi and I'll raise you some stressed-out Mummy GREY!"

So what's causing this freakish phenomenon? 


You had to ask?

Well, it's been coming on for a while now, but the defining moment was on Wednesday morning.  I went to the loo, leaving the Bear deeply engrossed  in Bob the Builder.  On my return, a bare sixty seconds later, he was up on the kitchen bench, playing with something.  On closer inspection, I realised that he was playing with the cover of the phone point.  In fact, he'd taken the cover off (how, I'll never know, as it was allegedly screwed on; the screws are still there) and was playing with the pretty little wires inside!!  Not only that, but he'd taken a picture off the wall, removed the hook, and put the (metal) hook in his mouth!!  

Playing with electrical wires while chewing a metal hook.

There's no hairdresser alive who can deal with this sort of grey.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

call me

The Gig wants a mobile (cell) phone.  Pacino and I have told her that she has to wait until she's at secondary school, in about eighteen months.  But she wants one now.

Last week, on the public holiday, we took the kids out for lunch.  It was a lovely meal, apart from being completely bombarded with phone talk by Miss Eleven.  (It's a safety thing, Mum, if you're ever late picking me up; it's so I can let you know if I have something on after school; it's so blah blah blah...)  Her arguments were actually very well-reasoned and carefully thought out.

Which made her all the more surprised when we still said no!

I did, jokingly, offer her a phone like my mum's - ie, very basic, no camera, no internet access - you get the picture.  But no.  Apparently, that would be more embarrassing than not owning a phone at all.  

Basically, the Gig wants a phone for the show-off factor.

So we finished lunch, came home and relaxed.  I  picked up the Gig's handbag, and, curious about why it was so full, yet so light, opened it.  Inside was Ellie, the Gig's beloved soft elephant which she has had since babyhood.  And nothing else.

That's right, folks.  The same pre-teen who so desperately wants a phone is the same little girl who still takes her Ellie with her at times.

A phone?  Not yet, I think.

Friday, August 13, 2010

disappointing news

Yesterday I got an email from the autism centre that the Bear will be going to.

Attached was the newsletter.

In the newsletter was a little piece welcoming "Bear (not his real name), X and Y". 

Hmm, I thought.  That's odd.  I know he's at the top of the list, but they're welcoming him before he's even started.

Hmmmm, I thought.  That really is odd.  Why would they welcome him when he hasn't started?

So, I rang the centre manager, just to chat about coming in and having a look and a chat.  She said that Pacino and I could come without the Bear, then, closer to the time that he starts, we could bring him in.

"Any idea", I asked, "about when that would be?"

"Oh", she said, "not till early next year at this stage."

"Oh", I said, "because I was told by the enrolments officer a few weeks ago that he was second from the top of the list, and that he'd have a place by early October if not sooner."

"I'm not sure why you would have been told that, because any movement that was going to happen at the centre has already happened."

Alrighty then.

Second phone call, this time to the enrolments officer.  "Could you please clarify this for me?  No, you have no idea why I'd have been told that either, when he's about 6th on the list?  Well, I noticed that you've welcomed in the newsletter another boy called Bear.  Could you possibly have got them confused when you spoke to me?"

Yep, that's what happened.  She was terribly apologetic, possibly because I was crying so much I couldn't speak properly, but that didn't change anything.

Bear is not second from the top, and about to get a place any minute.

There are, in fact, five or six children in front of him, and there will be no place for the Bear until late January.

It felt like the end of the world, but it's not really.  I spoke to his speech therapist about it, and she said that it won't do him any harm at all to wait, and it might even be a good thing.  Their programme is very intensive, and the Bear doesn't cope well, at this stage, with too much on his plate.  Another five months could well make all the difference.

I'm obviously really pleased that it won't affect him, but if I'm honest, part of the reason I was so looking forward to getting the place was so that I could have a break.  I love the Bear beyond words, but he is very full on.  I've been hanging on by the skin of my teeth waiting for that place, and it's very difficult to think that I have to wait even longer.

However, life goes on, and I'll just have to think outside the square in order to get a bit of time alone.

In the meantime, here's another park photo, just because he's so unbearably (get it?  unbearably?) cute.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

family photo

Perhaps we need to try again!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

it's a long way to tipperary

And it's a long way from Australia to England.

This morning, the kids, my Mum and I trekked out to the airport to say goodbye to my sister, her husband and their gorgeous son as they start their new adventure in England.  It'll be at least two years before we see them again.  The Gig will be a teenager next time she sees her aunty, uncle and cousin.  The Bear will be five. 

We didn't really have any adventures to speak of at the airport, apart from the Bear's major disappointment when we walked past a lift (elevator) not once but twice! 

The Gig and her cousin had a nice time watching the planes and exploring the airport shops - ahhhh, the freedom of being big kids!

After we said goodbye (which I don't want to talk about because I'm too traumatised!), Mum and I dropped the Gig off at school, much to her disgust, then went out for coffee.  It was a bit too early in the day to drown our sorrows (and besides, my Mum doesn't drink) so we decided to smother them with muffins instead.  Not that we're emotional eaters or anything.

So farewell, Mrs T!!  See you in a couple of years, and remember to keep reading the blog!  Oh, and you could comment every now and then if you liked!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

a morning in the park (with pictures!)

The Bear and I had a lovely morning at the park with his friend M, and M's mum B.  The boys had a blast
together.   Or, at least, M had a blast with a few other little boys at the park, and the Bear had a blast running around, turning on the taps, and stealing people's food.

Apologies for the mixed-up captions - I've been fighting with my computer over it for the last half hour, and, as I'm now losing the will to live, I give up.  If you can't work out which caption fits which picture, then really, I can't help you!!

We're trying to teach the Bear that smacking Mummy's face isn't the best way to display excitement.  Clapping hands is way more socially acceptable, and who better to demonstrate how much fun it is than your best mate?
The Bear loves to slide - on anything, whether it's an actual slide, or the arm of a sofa, or my outstretched leg.  Here, he's sliding down a yellow ladder.  Even with a nappy on, that can't be comfortable!

Thirsty work!  Luckily Mum left her coffee here!  (Don't worry, it was empty!)

By the time we left, the Bear's trousers were soaking wet, as were his shoes and socks.  Luckily our winters are so balmy and lovely!  Some of the other Mums were looking a bit annoyed that the Bear was wasting water, and worse, showing their kids some bad habits.  Tough!  He was having fun and not hurting anybody, so splash away, my little water-obsessed son, splash away!

Here's a second copy of that last picture, purely to demonstrate my techno-idiocy. Don't know how I got two up there; certainly don't know how to get rid of one of them!


Finally, a cuddle with Mummy finishes a perfect morning!

Friday, July 30, 2010

benevolent dictatorship

I am the oppressed masses in the Bear's (and occasionally the Gig's) dictatorship.

The laws of this dictatorship are many, varied, and ever-changing.  They are phoenix-like in their ability to rise from the ashes of my attempts to overthrow them.  They are like a hydra - cut of one head, and two more grow.  (The laws, not my children.  I have never even attempted to lop off a child's head, I promise!)

If you could all just bear with me, I'd like to share some of the Bear's laws with you. 

  1. Mummy, you work for me.  Never forget that.  If I want you, you must, repeat must, be at my beck and call.  Instantly.  No selfish unpacking of the dishwasher, or making of beds.  I'm in charge here, Mummy, and I call the shots.
  2. Climbing is fun, Mummy, and I, Pu Yi Last Emperor, have a God-given right to climb wheresover and whensoever I choose.  If that's onto the kitchen bench, so be it.
  3. Water is fun.  Running water is more fun.  I may, at any time, turn on any tap I like.  I do not have to tell you about this.  In fact, it's an awful lot more fun if I don't.  The sensation of running water can and will be reproduced by the judicious or otherwise tipping out of any and all beverages.  I'm aware that I may dehydrate if I don't drink said beverages, but that is not my concern.  You are the mother; this worry is yours alone.
  4. Daytime sleeps are the preserve of the weak and feeble.  I will retire to my cot during the day for the sole purpose of playing with my toy phone, reading a couple of books, throwing said phone and books out of my cot when I've had enough (3 minutes will usually suffice), rocking the cot until you are sure it will fall over, screaming and doing a poo.  When you get me up, I will be cranky through lack of sleep.  Again, Mummy, not my concern. 
  5. Sitting at the table is boring and pointless.  In my dictatorship, food is to be eaten either a) whilst on the move, or, and preferably b) from someone else's - ie your, Mummy - plate.
  6. The TV should always be on.  I will ask for Bob, because it's the only one I can say, but you should be aware that Bob can also mean Tweenies, Wiggles or RazzleDazzle.  Bob can also, and I do think this is self-explanatory, mean the text-bar on Fox Sport News.  You will know immediately which programme I want to watch.  You are, after all, the Mummy.
  7. Books are ok, but they are to be read my way.  I shall hold your pointer finger tightly, touch each object in the picture, and you shall tell me what it is.  If it is a banana, I may tell you what it is.  But don't count on it.
  8. Toys are for throwing.  Enough said.
  9. Unless they are for sliding down the TV screen.
  10. Your arms are always to be free for carrying me.  I won't want to be carried, of course, but I must know that, should I wish it, your arms are free.
  11. I will behave perfectly for my therapists.  For you, Mummy, not so much.
  12. My right shoe must always be put on first, or I think my feet might fall off.  Or the sky might fall in.  Or something, but it's important, Mummy, so make sure you remember.
  13. When taking the Gig to school, we must always go the same way, even if the road is closed for 8 weeks due to roadworks.  Ignore this law at your peril: my scream is even more shrill in the car.
  14. Running is my preferred method of transport.  And I run fast, and I have no sense of danger.  Just be aware of this, Mummy.
  15. Holding hands is outlawed.  Don't even try it.  It is my right to lie down in the middle of the road should any and all hand-holding be attempted.
  16. Kissing is tolerated, but my preferred way of communicating affection is to press my forehead very hard against yours.  It may hurt you, but I like it, and I'm the dictator here.
  17. You may not hug Daddy or the Gig.  At all, ever.
  18. Last (for now), but most important of all, you will love me so much that you feel like your heart will break from it.
So there you have the laws under which I live; the Bear's, anyway.  The Gig's I'll save for another day.

These laws may be harsh and draconian, but you know what?  The Dictator is so very, very worth it.

PS, sorry about the lack of photos recently, but there's a gremlin in my pictures folder, and I don't know how to get it out.  I tried showing it "Bright lights!  Bright lights!" but it didn't work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Update on the Bear

The Bear is having Speech Therapy as we speak.  His lovely therapist took one look at me this morning and said "Would you like me to take him by myself and you can have half an hour to yourself?"  ("Um, yes!")  That would have to be the best offer I've had all month!  He had a hissy fit when I left the room, and has had another couple of tantrums, and come out of the room a couple of times, but it's not going too badly, I don't think.

So how is he going, in general?

His speech is very slowly coming along.  He still greatly prefers to use non-verbal communication, such as taking my hand and leading me to what he wants, but is slowly starting to use a few words.  I feel that he has not only a speech delay but also a speech impairment *, meaning that the words he does use spontaneously are quite difficult to understand.  Funnily enough, his echolalic words are much easier to understand, but I guess that could be because I've just either said or heard them, so I know what he's saying.

He understands some signs, but is only using one, and that one only sparingly.  It's the sign for "GO!", and it's a fun one, because it often means that the "Wait" is over and it's his turn on the slide. 

The Bear's behaviour is, shall we say, trying right now.  One of his stims is taking off screw caps, which means that if he can get his hands on anything at all, it's usually all over the floor in about three seconds.  He is also still climbing onto the kitchen bench at any opportunity, usually to try and get the phone, but if there's anything else up there he'll explore that too.  He has started hitting again, when he's frustrated, and I've noticed that he's starting to bite his own hands a fair bit.  Scratching is still very much part of his repertoire as well.  Another new trick is to tip all of his toys out on the floor, then walk away.  There is no desire whatsoever to play with anything; it's all about the noise.  He also likes to brush anything that's on a surface onto the floor.

Right, well, I've had my whinge, so here's some of the good stuff.  He has started talking on a pretend phone.  He says, "Eh-oo, Bobba, ya-ya-ba-ba, Byeeeee!", which translates as "Hello, Bob the Builder, (mysterious builder-speak), Bye".  It's the same scenario every time, which I understand is typical of ASD kids, but it's a fantastic start.

And yesterday at his special needs playgroup, Twinkle Twinkle came on.  He gave an enormous smile, then started running around the room in a giant circle, singing along (perfectly in tune...I think we may have a bit of a musician on our hands), and clapped madly at the end.  It was a magic moment, and I really wished I'd had my video camera (except that I don't own one!) with me.

Anyway, speech is nearly over, and I can hear him screaming, so I'm off for now!

*His speech therapist has just told me that he does have elements of verbal dyspraxia as well as PDD-NOS.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a love/hate relationship

I've been hanging out on facebook a bit lately, ever since some bright spark discovered that it's 20 years since we all left school.  So old school friends are popping up everywhere.  So are the old school enemies, suddenly wanting to "friend" me.  Also, the old school "I really don't remember you - are you sure we went to school together?" people.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Some of these girls (it was an all-girls school) were quite mean to me, or quite mean to my friends.  One girl in particular was very funny.  Side-splittingly funny.  But always at someone's expense.  And now, twenty years later, I don't find it so funny.  But she's my fb friend. 

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I don't want to offend anyone by ignoring friendship requests.  But it does seem hypocritical to "friend" people that I barely remember, and didn't necessarily like anyway. 

I'm looking forward to our 20 year reunion, but really only so that the girls I'm still friends with (very close friends, in most cases) can all be in the same place at the same time.  It's been too long since that happened.

Don't get me wrong, fb has put me back in touch with two people that I'd completely lost touch with - one from school and one from piano lessons (actually, not to split hairs, but they're both from piano lessons).  I'm delighted that these friends have come back into my life, and very grateful for the chance to reconnect with them.  But I can't reconnect with everyone.  For one thing, I don't have time.  Friendship is more than "liking" someone's status update. 

I love the Internet.  I've made many Internet friends, and I treasure these friendships.  I have an online mother's group, and although we're all a bit slack these days about checking our fb page, I read their blogs, those who have them, including my buddy The Missus.  (You may remember her from Good News/Bad News - hey Missus, we need to get that going again!)  I'm also part of an online book club.  It's my sanity-saver, my reminder that I have a brain, and a group of real friends.  And I've made some lovely friends through blogging, too.  So I'm in no way suspicious of on-line friendships.  But fb just isn't the same.  I'm getting tired of the voyeurism, peeking into the lives of people I have, otherwise, nothing to do with.  I'm tired of wondering who will read my updates, and how they might respond.

I'm not going cold turkey on fb.  Not just yet, anyway.  It's a handy way to touch base with people I really care about, and a handy place to make plans and share news.  But I am going to stop commenting on updates of people that I barely know.  I'm not going to check out their photos, just to see if they've put on weight since school, or how cute their kids are (gorgeous, always!). 

I'm going to concentrate on my real (whether IRL real or Internet real) friends.  You know who you are :-).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

looking after myself

Today, I did something just for myself.

The Bear was driving me crazy.  His latest escapade was getting through the child-proof lid of a bottle of anti-histamine.  Luckily he didn't drink any, but still.  I know that ASD kids often have fine motor skill issues, so I've been trying to focus on the positive - ie that his fine motor skills are excellent.  But still.

So when his lovely speech therapist rang to cancel due to illness, I was momentarily distraught.  I'd been counting on that time to fill our morning.  What on earth was I going to do now??

That's when it hit me.  Daycare, known to us as Kindy.  I made a frantic call to the Director, who fitted him in with no problem.  Three hours of Mummy time.  I stopped off at the shops and bought a pair of jeans which will have to be returned because I was over-optimistic about the size of my thighs, then came home, played on the computer for a bit, read a magazine and had a cup of tea.  I have done some washing, but only because I felt like it.

I feel like a new woman.  I feel like I can make it throught the rest of the day.  I feel excited that I'll be picking the Bear up in 15 minutes.  What do I NOT feel?  Guilty.  This was my time, and I'm worth it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

i just called to say i love you

Just a very quick update, but there's more to come later.

Last week, I saw the Bear doing something that looked a lot like pretend play.  Then I convinced myself that it couldn't possibly be.  But this morning, he did it again, in front of me and Pacino. 

 He held out the palm of his hand, jabbed at it with the pointer finger of his other hand, making little "beep"noises at the same time, then held his hand up to his ear and said "Ye-yo"!!!

I can't begin to tell you how exciting that was, and how happy and hopeful it made us.

Anyway, must run - school lunches and breakfasts to make, and I suspect that the Bear has climbed onto the bench and is playing with the answering machine.  Supervision much?

Monday, July 12, 2010

raindrops on roses...

It's a cold and foggy Monday morning, and my children slept in.  The Bear woke at 7.05am, and the Gig at 7.30am.  A sleep-in is an extremely rare thing in my house, so I made the most of it...sort of.  Pacino had to go to work (why, oh why, can the Bear never sleep in like this on weekends?) so I got up and had a cup of tea with him, then went back to bed for half an hour before the Bear woke.  It felt so decadent to lie in bed at that hour on a Monday morning!

Which leads nicely into today's topic.  More of the little things in life that make a day special, or keep you going, or give you a laugh when you most need it. So here, in no particular order, are ten little things that have brightened my day lately.

  1. Taking the Gig clothes shopping so that she can spend her very hard-earned cash, and, what's more, liking what she chose!
  2. Buying a new handbag (purse) that has everything I need in a bag, including lots of little inside pockets that I'm still exploring.  Rearranging a new bag has to be one of life's greatest pleasures!
  3. Reading a book that I would never have picked up if not for my on-line book club, and loving it.  (It's The City and the City, by China Mieville, if you're interested)
  4. Listening to the Bear sing a scale in almost perfect pitch.  Not bad for a nearly  three year old!
  5. Walking into the kitchen to do the dishes and realising that the Gig has done them already, and very well too!
  6. Savouring a glass of lovely port with Pacino at the end of a long day.
  7. Sneaking away from my children to blog Waiting till my children are happily amusing themselves and popping into the study to blog.
  8. Watching Dr Who and fantasising that if I shout "Raggedy Man, I remember you!" the Dr will appear.  (Not working thus far, sad to say.)
  9. Having the Gig ask to have a friend over - she's been anti-social all holidays, so I was thrilled to oblige.
  10.  This boy, in this hat.

Monday, July 5, 2010

i'm bad, i'm bad, you know it, i'm bad

It would appear that last time I was here, I made all sorts of rash promises about being a better blogger, not leaving all my lovely readers in the dark, committing to the blog, and so on.  Promises, promises.  I guess I am just über-slack.  (But proud that, twenty years later, I remembered to use an umlaut on the u in über.  Frau Finlayson, what was that C all about?)

So what's been happening on board my ship of fools lately?

Well, in no particular order, we bought a new car.  It's a white wagon.  Where has my cool gone?  I love it and its capacious boot (trunk) which has ample room for my stroller, the dogs, and some luggage.

Because we are now a two car family, Pacino (and for Pacino, read ME!!) had to organise a park in the city.  Holy Guacamole Batman, the City Council must be ski-ing in Aspen on what they charge to park a car!  However, we found one that won't require us to sell one of our children in order to pay for it, so it's all good.

The Gig is on school holidays.  Yay for not making school lunches.  Yay for not waking a sleeping pre-adolescent!  Yay for not having that sick, sinking feeling in my stomach as I wait in the car wondering how her day was, and if the mean girls were mean today.

Oh, and the Gig is nearly eleven.  I know what you're thinking.  How on earth, you're wondering, could Millie possibly have an eleven year old daughter?  She's far too young, freshfaced and hip to be old enough for that!  What?  You weren't thinking that at all? 

As for my little Bear, he's doing really well.  He is getting a new word roughly once a fortnight, and appears to be keeping them so far.  He has developed a massive case of Echolalia (repeating random words and noises with no sense of their meaning), which can be, depending on the circumstances and my mood, very funny, very depressing or very annoying.  I try to focus on the fact that it's really very encouraging, as the mere forming of the words shows that the capacity for speech, in whatever form, is there.

He has also developed a few new ASD traits.  This is probably the real reason I haven't been blogging lately.  I just haven't felt ready to talk about it yet, but haven't been able to think of anything else to blog about.  He has started hand-flapping, and also a funny little face-flicking thing that's very hard to describe, and his new obsession is unscrewing jars.  Nothing, nothing, I tell you, is safe from his exploration.  I seem to spend my days now running along behind him trying to clear the path of his destruction.  And he's not a destructive child.  He doesn't break things on purpose; it's more that he literally can't rest until he's explored what he needs to explore.  I am beyond exhausted.

We are waiting desperately for the call to say he has a place at the ASD specific centre.  I can't wait; he really needs it.  I do too, for what it's worth.

Anyway, that's what we've been doing lately.  I'll try to be a better bloggy-girl from now on (but a word of warning - I'll be away towards the end of this week visiting my sister who is about to abandon me move to England with her family. 

Right, I have a whole lot of blog reading to catch up on - I'm looking forward to finding out what's been going on in your lives.  See you later!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

rock on

Thanks so much to my friend Robin over at lolidots for giving me this fab award. 

Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that, no matter what they were thought of musically, shaped your world.
I have to say I'm looking forward to taking you all on this little trip down memory lane. 

  1. Human Frailty, by Hunters and Collectors, the greatest Australian pub-rock band ever.  They sang Throw your arms around me, which is my all-time favourite song.  Go on, click the link and listen!

  2. Planet Waves, by Bob Dylan

  3. Now that's what I call quite good, by The Housemartins

  4. A Room With a View - Soundtrack

  5. If this is Rock and Roll, I want my old job back, by The Sawdoctors

  6. Talking with the Taxman about poetry, by Billy Bragg

  7.  Modern Times, by Bob Dylan

  8. Back to Black, by Amy Winehouse.  She's a wreck, but she can sing!

  9. William Bloke, by Billy Bragg

  10. The Internationale, by Billy Bragg

  11. Fundamental as Anything, by Mental as Anything (another great Australian band from the 80s, although Pacino can't stand them)

  12. Mermaid Avenue, by Billy Bragg and Wilco (lyrics by Woody Guthrie)

  13. Local Hero Soundtrack, by Mark Knopfler

  14. Spike, by Elvis Costello

  15. Amadeus soundtrack (Mozart)
Billy Bragg  is an English folk-rock singer who can take the credit for my very left-wing political stance.

That was really fun, and really hard!  I'm sorry my taste is so obscure.  And I'm sorry it took me so long to post this.

Thanks again, Robin!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

slacker mcgee, that's me.

I didn't mean to go so long without blogging, I really didn't.  It's just that life has been pretty hectic lately.  The Bear has stopped sleeping during the day.  Although I still put him in his cot every day, the time he will spend playing in there is getting shorter and shorter.  It's now down to about twenty minutes.  And when he's awake, I need to be with him every second.  If I'm not, he's climbing on the kitchen bench, climbing up to the TV and rocking it back and forth, climbing onto his chest of drawers and playing with his other words, climbing is his thing.  And before you ask, I have child-proofed.  My house is the most child-proof house I've ever been in!  This is as good as it gets.

Anyway, enough with the whinging, and on to the good stuff.  Well, I've been given an award by the perenially cool Robin over at Lolidots.  She gave it to me about three hundred years ago, or so it seems, and I am going to share the love, I really am, but not today.  I'm about halfway through, and I'm a bit stuck.  But in the meantime, hop on over to Lolidots and see what Robin has to say - it's always a good read, and if you're lucky there'll be a photo of her hilarious and very cute kids.

On another note, the Gig and Pacino went to a training session for their favourite team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, when they played here last weekend.  They also went to the game, but let's draw a veil over that and move on quietly.  It was a bit of a shellacking, I'm sorry to say.  For those who are wondering, the Rabbitohs, or Bunnies, are a Rugby League team.  Oh, Rugby, you're thinking.  I've heard of that.  Well, yes and no.  There are two forms of the game, Rugby League and the real one Rugby Union.  I was never, ever a League fan growing up, but since marrying Pacino, I've learnt that if you can't sulk them out of their obsession, you might as well join them.  These days, although I wouldn't watch the Bunnies for my own amusement, when they're playing I am as involved as anyone.  Except perhaps Pacino, who takes it very ...personally... when they lose.  Which they do a fair bit. 

I've written before about my children and their love for their comfort toys, but today I've got some sad news.  Mousie, the Bear's partner in crime, is no longer with us.  He's missing in action; we think he's at a park in our old hometown.  The Bear has been very brave, and his good mate Ted has stepped into the role of Commander in Chief of the Cot, but it's still very depressing to think of Mousie alone by the swings (or wherever he may be).  Goodbye, Mousie.  We will miss you.

And now, here's a picture that explains why the Bear fully deserved the praise that was being lavished on him for "lovely eating..all those vegies!".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

slow train coming

I just wanted to drop by my cob-web-ridden blog and say Hi!  I'm still alive!  I've not really been in the mood for blogging or playing on the computer generally for the past few days.  (What's wrong with me?)  But, I'm in the middle of a long post that's taking me forever to write, so I promise there'll be more news very soon.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, just to keep you going, here's a photo that I looooove!  The very first brother/sister cuddle.  It seems like yesterday but it's nearly three years ago.  Time flies by way too quickly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

random thoughts

The Gig had a nightmare about caterpillars last night.  What's that all about?  She felt better after I told her to imagine them with the face of the one from Alice in Wonderland.

I can't remember the last time I slept all through the night.  I'm so very, very tired.

This morning the Bear and I went to our friend's house for coffee and a play.  Her little boy is a few months younger than the Bear.  The Bear had so much fun flushing a different toilet.  Oh, and there might have been a slide and a couple of toys and three extra kids to play with.  He wouldn't know.  There was a toilet that needed flushing.

My sister and her family are moving to England.  I'm excited for them but sad for me.  And regretful that we haven't seen enough of them lately.

I'm slowly getting my house organised.  On Thursday when my MIL is here, I'm going to clean out my laundry.  You know you're jealous.

I am desperate to have some time for reading.  I belong to an online bookclub and I haven't read the monthly book for the past two months.  And I'm still waiting for Amazon to deliver this month's.  All I can concentrate on at the moment is magazines and chick lit that I've read before.

We're buying the Bear a bed soon.  I'm sure that'll be the end of the daytime sleep.  RIP.

And last but not least, dogs are excellent at homework.

Friday, May 28, 2010

smug pride or deep shame?

I'm back, after a week long blogging hiatus.  And what a week it's been!  I've had both kids sick - the Bear with a middle ear infection in both ears, and the Gig with tonsillitis.  She had four days off school, and has only gone back today.  The Bear missed playgroup at his special school and speech therapy, but the Gig did, after much soul-searching on my part, get to go to Girl Guides last night, and she had a blast.  She missed her guitar lesson, but you can't have everything.

Not only were the kids sick, but Pacino has lost his voice.  He came home from work at 10am yesterday, as his job involves mainly dictating, immediately logged into his work server and worked from home for the rest of the day.  Today I'm picking him up at 3pm.  Pacino is the world's biggest workaholic, so this is huge.  He's been with his current firm for over three years and hasn't used any of his sick/personal leave yet.

You'd think that with two sick kids, I'd have had an unproductive week, wouldn't you?  Well, think again, my little friends!  Not only have the Gig and I completely sorted out her room (6 bags of rubbish, 2 bags for her little cousin, 2 bags for my friend's DD, 2 bags of books for charity, and a big crate of books for the Bear), but I have sorted my linen cupboard.

I'm the anal type, I must admit.  Anal, but lazy.  My linen cupboard, as it looks now, is my dream.  I keep going to look at it and purr, like a self-satisfied cat who has just polished off a bowl of cream.  I have even (shhhh) been known to stroke the lovely, organised stacks of sheets.

After I had it all looking lovely (3 bags for charity and 1 bag of rubbish), I realised that something was missing.  I knew where everything went, but how, I wondered, would anyone else? 

The answer?

Labels.  Lovely, organised-person labels. 

So what's the verdict?  Should I feel smugly proud, or deeply, abidingly ashamed?

Friday, May 21, 2010

flashback friday: a christening

It's been a while since I've done a Flashback Friday.

The Bear's Christening was such a special day, complete with senile, possibly slightly sloshed stand-in priest, who, despite the Bear's three very masculine, traditional names, still thought he was a girl.  Maybe it was the dress!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

be careful what you wish for

Yesterday, I sat down at my computer, all ready to blog.  Nothing.  Nada.  Not a single thing of interest to say.

It's the kids' fault.  They haven't done anything interesting lately. 

And Pacino - what's he been doing?  Work, and being man-sick.  Better call the man-bulance.  Bor-ing, people. 

Me?  I'm the mummy.  I ferry these people to their interesting things.  I can't be counted on for fascinating and hilarious anecdotes. 

Come on, family, do something funny/entertaining/annoying.  Give me some material here!

At that point, as I wiped the table down after lunch - told you I'm not the scintillating one - I suddenly realised that all was strangely, worryingly quiet on the Bear front.

Then I found him.

In my bathroom.

Being interesting.

With my brand new, not-terribly-cheap lipgloss.

And here, my friends, is my little monotony-breaker, channeling his inner drag queen.

As I said, be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

but i haven't prepared a speech

I'm very excited!  I've just been given my first blogging award, The Versatile Blogger, by my new friend Amy at The Adventures of JAMC.  If you haven't visited Amy's blog, make sure you pop over and say hello.  Amy has two boys who are on the Autism Spectrum, and as they are a bit older than the Bear, I'm learning a lot from her.  So thanks very much, Amy!

Right here, in this space, is meant to be a cute button that says "Versatile Blogger".  Or, in my case, "Incompetent Blogger who is unable to upload (download?  I'm never sure) said button to her blog".  Feel free to give me lesson, anyone.

Ok, now that I've acknowledged Amy, the next thing is to tell you all seven things about myself.  Hmmm, this should be good for my self esteem...
  1. I love to read.  I would happily spend my entire day reading, if only I had a staff of 10 (plus outdoor staff) to keep my house running in the oh-so-smooth manner to which it is accustomed.  Or something.  I especially love crime fiction, but not the gory stuff.  But I'll read pretty much anything, from Jane Austen to Stieg Larsson.
  2. I suffer from a terrible combination of extreme fussiness about the state of my house, and utter laziness.  So, I'll moan and groan about how untidy/cluttered/messy/dirty/full-of-dog-hair my house is, but take ages to do anything about it.
  3. I have a phobia of cane toads.  If you don't know what they are, I envy you.  They are wrong, disgusting, scary, hideous and completely gross.  Oh, and they're poisonous.  Particularly to dogs.  I have two dogs, and Harlan, my old and allegedly sensible guy, is addicted to them.  He's like Cheech and Chong, all rolled into one cute and fluffy little package.  They'll kill him one day (the cane toads, not Cheech and Chong), but I'm sure he'll think the trip was worth it. 
  4. I am addicted to tea.  But I'm not a tea snob.  Sure, I love a freshly brewed pot of real, leaf tea, but I'm happy with a teabag of Irish Breakfast.  And I hate herbal teas.  What's the hippy-dippy point to them?  I drink coffee when I'm out, because cafes only ever have English Breakfast (only for the weak) or Earl Grey (only for those without tastebuds).  But at home, it's a good strong mug of China Black Irish Breakfast all the way.
  5. I love the movie The Sure Thing, starring John Cusack.  Extra points if you can spot the quote above.  But my favourite movie of all time is Life is Beautiful, in the original Italian, which I understand perfectly because of my fluent and colloquial Italian has good subtitles which are easy to read.
  6. I have two half degrees, one in Education and one in English Literature.  Sadly, two halves don't make a whole, so I've told Pacino, who has two full degrees, that he has to let me have one because I'm easily as smart as he is, it's just that my brain is cluttered with all that extra female-mummy-multitasking stuff, so I forget things.
  7. I am utterly unable to write anything of length without including several run-on sentences.  Yet, hypocritically, I have a lovely time noticing and being outraged by the bad grammar of others.  Especially the wandering apostrophe.  Hate it, hate it, hate it!
And now, for my next trick, I would like to pass this award on to ten bloggers whom I have recently discovered and love to bits.
  1. My good friend The Missus over at Rev and the Missus.  The Missus' blog is not exactly a new discovery, but I'm cheating a bit.  Sue me.  Her tales of life with Wiggle Man and the Rev will have you laughing, feeling inexplicably hungry, a bit grossed out if it's a spider post, but most of all feeling like you're having a chat with a good friend.  And isn't that what blogging's all about?
  2. Anna, my new friend, at Loving Life as a Mama and Wife.  Anna has two gorgeous children. Her posts are full of love for her kids and joy in her life.  And she's great at leaving comments!  Go on over and check out how ridiculously young Anna looks to be the Mama of two!
  3. Jess, at Keep it Together, takes some of the best photos I've seen.  She also has a son with an ASD, and her posts about this have taught me heaps.  I really enjoy reading Jess's blog.
  4. Over at The Casa, Joanna talks about her incredibly cute twin girls.  I'm in complete awe of mums of multiples.  Joanna's blog is funny and brightens my day every time I read it.
  5. I think we pretty much all know S.I.F., don't we?  She writes Single Infertile Female, and has a fantastic community to boot.  S.I.F. is an amazingly talented writer who makes me jealous of her talent every day.  Her blog will make you laugh and cry, and also talk about words you never thought you'd mention.  Smegma, anyone?
  6. One of my favourite blogs is Musings on the Move, by The Writer.  She and her husband and their three boys live in Brazil.  The Writer's blog is half travelogue, half family blog, and all great. 
  7. The hilarious Mama M writes My Little life.  Reading her blog makes me feel like I'm sitting down for a cuppa with a friend who happens to be the funniest person in the world.  I'm just sayin'.
  8. Robin, over at Lolidots, is who I would like to be if I ever got really, really cool.  Her kids are adorable, and funny, and she is so talented and creative. 
  9. Amanda is my good friend over at Among the Mess.  She, the Missus and I have been in the same online mother's group for over three years now!  She has gorgeous kids, some cows, and a passion for cloth nappies.  Diapers.  Again with learning the Australian English, people!  Check out her Friday Fluff posts for more about cloth diapering.
  10. Last but certainly not least is Ashley, mother of three cutie-pie girls (great place for a tiny baby fix) over at Provehito in Altum.  I enjoy reading Ashley's blog and especially love drooling over that baby girl!
So that's it from me, folks, and I'm wacked!  This post took me forever to write, and now I need a cup of tea and a good lie down to recover. 

Please, please check out all these great blogs, and share the love!

Friday, May 14, 2010

in the wee small hours of the morning

Last night was really, really cold.  Granted, I live in the sub-tropics, so my cold may very well not be your cold.  But our house is not designed for winter (actually, it's not designed for summer either, but that's another, more whingy post), and it was icy in all our bedrooms.  We haven't got the heaters out yet; that's my job for today.  It's been a really long, hot, wet summer, and this took us all by surprise.  The Bear was rugged up as snug as a bug in a rug, and his windows were closed.  I thought he'd be ok, but I was wrong.

At about 2.30 he woke up crying.  I went into his room and the egg-night-light-thermometer-thingy was blue.  Blue for brrrrrr, naturally.  It was 13.8C in his room.  If you hang on a minute, I'll convert that in my head because I'm very clever.  Ok, difficult maths done now, it's 56.84F.  I think that's a wee bit chilly, especially for a small boy who doesn't keep the blankets on.  So I picked him up for a quick cuddle, gave him back his dummy ( guys need to learn Australian English!), and enjoyed the soft, warm weight of him as he snuggled in to me.  Then I popped him back in to his cot, pulled his blanket up and went out again.  He went straight back to sleep.

Lying in bed, unable to get back to sleep, I thought about how lucky we are that he's a good sleeper - that both our kids are good sleepers.  It's not often that I get to have these quiet, snuggly middle of the night times with my kids.  If it happened more often, I think it'd drive me round the twist.  But because it's rare, I enjoy it.

3.15am, still not asleep, and I heard the Gig's door open.  This is especially unusual, because that girl could sleep through a cyclone, an earthquake, a fire alarm, a mosquito whining and a dog barking, all at once.  My poor little baby girl was feeling sick.  So she climbed into bed with us and I got to have my second warm cuddle of the night.  She burrowed her way down the bed until only her nose was poking out, and stayed there for about ten minutes, before she announced that Pacino's snoring was "too much, Mum.  How do you stand it?" and went back to her own bed.

Finally I went back to sleep, until the Bear got cold again at 5.15.  I tried to ignore him, but then I felt too mean.  If I was cold, in bed with Pacino (although he got up about 30 seconds later...bloody workaholic), how cold must my baby boy be?  So I got up and brought him into bed with me.  We lay there for a while, practising our gentle hands on each other's faces, singing songs and snuggling, until the sound of Pacino's shower sang its siren song to the Bear.  At which point I got up for good, took the Bear out to the kitchen and made a cup of tea.

I love my sleep.  Some days, I feel like I'm marking time till I can get back between the sheets.  I can never get enough sleep, and I'm usually very, very cranky if' I'm woken.  But last night some kind of Winter Wonderland must have cast a spell over my house.  I was with my babies in the middle of the night, and I loved it.

PS - the Gig was fine this morning :)