June 28, 2012


You're NEVER too old for a Happy Meal...

"But what if I don't want to grow up?"

I stifled the sudden urge to laugh and simply smiled instead. "Oh, honey I'm sorry, we don't get much of a choice about that. Everyone grows up sooner or later and so will you. You've already grown up lots since last year... and soon you'll be a teenager!"

I made a goofy face at my 11 year-old son, bouncing down on the bed beside him. His immediate response, in his usual deep American-accented voice, was so funny I couldn't stop the laugh from bursting out this time.

"Mom. Get a hold of yourself."

At which point I grabbed myself by the arms, held on tight and shook, which made him laugh as well. He's got a sense of humour, my boy.

We've been talking a lot about growing up stuff lately. H may have autism, but he's every bit as normal as any other 11 year-old kid out there, grappling with the complexities of adjusting to life with increased hormones, hair growing in all new places and dealing with a sudden influx of pimples.

I really feel for him though. Some days I feel like I'm barely managing by the seat of my pants but for a kid who likes things to be organised, structured and somewhat predictable, this whole 'growing up' thing must seem insurmountable at times. I can literally 'see' the anxiety pouring off him sometimes. 

And there's so much more change to come. High school beckons in 2013 so transitioning for that big change has started in earnest. We got a letter from the Education Dept a few days ago - they've offered H a place (which I have gratefully accepted!) in an autism-only unit within our local high school. I've already heard some really positive feedback about it so am very encouraged by the prospect of what's to come.

The other bonus is it's a mere ten to fifteen minute walk over the hill from our house to the school. Spencer (and I, it must be said) will certainly benefit from the extra daily exercise. And halleleujah, no more sitting in traffic!! THAT is one change I definitely won't be sorry about.

Ch-ch-changes... is it a case of 'turn and face the strange?' What kind of changes are YOU dealing with at the moment? Oh, and who else loves David Bowie? 

June 25, 2012

How to beat a royal flush...

There's something about this time of year. Cold temperatures, blustery winds, seeing your breath curl in the frosty morning air. Winter is making her presence felt in more ways than one.

As are the accompanying coughs and colds.

I have to say our family is usually pretty lucky on that front. We're a healthy lot. Whilst some people catch every little sniffle and bug going around, most of the time we manage to dodge them. Key word here being MOST. My youngest boy, H, was not so lucky this week. Friday night he was a bit flushed and feeling a little flat and didn't eat much of his dinner. Saturday morning dawned and he awoke with an impressive barking cough and needed a tissue more often than not. His weekend was spent mostly under a blanket on the couch or snuggled under his doona asleep in bed, poor darling.

We have gone through a ridiculous amount of tissues this weekend...

Keeping up his fluids wasn't a problem, but I had to be a little creative administering the paracetamol he needed to control his fever. H flat out will not take liquid medicine, no matter what you put it in and believe me, we tried everything! He is the KING of the Taste Olympics and has a talent for detecting medicine's distinctive flavour immediately. The day they create a flavourless version of paracetamol will be a great day for many other parents too, I suspect.

Not surprisingly, we've achieved much greater success using tablets when needed for a little while now. Normally these go down okay with no dramas. Except that this time his throat was obviously sore from all the coughing so we had some issues. I cut the tablet in half to make it easier and he managed one half before he looked up mournfully at me with fever-glazed eyes.

H:   "I CAN'T do it, Mum."

Me: "Just one more, mate. Take a big drink of water and then swallow. One more and that's it, okay?"

H:   "No, no, no. I can't take any more... NO MORE TABLETS!"

And with that he buried his face into the pillow. Along with his snotty nose. Sigh.

Me: "Okay, mate. It's okay. No more tablets."

It was time for Plan B. You know the one, right? The one you use when the first one isn't working? I crushed the other half tablet and mixed it in his water bottle, which he thankfully drank without argument. Medicine by stealth, baby! Sneaky yet very effective. Thank God crushed tablets are virtually tasteless. We kept it up for the rest of the weekend.

I've kept him home from school today just in case but I reckon he'll be right for tomorrow - the constant chatter while he plays has returned, as has his appetite. Right on time - school holidays start at the end of the week!

How is your household surviving winter so far? Do you have any medicine-haters in your house?

June 20, 2012

Time is money, people.

Ever wondered what the point of working hard in school was? All those years of doing endless class assignments, studying for exams, saying no to a social life while all your friends were out under-age drinking and partying hard at the local pub, doing extra prep over the weekends?

Let me tell you.

It was so you could get top marks to gain acceptance into medical school, spend the next 5 or so years of your life constantly studying and extending your hermit-like lifestyle solely so you could become an orthopaedic knee surgeon - and here's the kicker (pun intended) - be able to charge an hourly rate of around $2000.00 an hour pro rata. How's that sound?

I took Son #2 to see one today. I reckon he and I were in his office for all of 5 minutes. Tops. And that's including the one minute we sat there waiting for him to actually come in and talk to us. In the remaining 4 minutes he looked at the MRI scans of M's knee, rolled his eyes ever-so-slightly at the St John Ambulance ladies initial thoughts over his injury being a 'possible fracture' and pulled, poked and prodded M's knee to see if anything still hurt.

The saving grace for this particular surgeon was that he was very, very nice and explained everything in layman's terms so we could easily understand (and so he freaking well SHOULD with the amount of money I was paying him!). The upshot of it all is that his knee seems fine, he can slowly start to build up training on it again and if it's still feeling okay he can resume playing rugby in about 4 weeks.

I may have recovered from the amount of the bill by then.

Have YOU ever seen a specialist? What would their actual hourly rate work out to? Maybe we should convince more of our kids to be doctors...

June 17, 2012

It's a small, small world...

Last night I went to a special needs high school fundraiser with one of my girlfriends (the gal currently living life with one hand) My ticket was a thank you but also a favour - and one I was more than happy to grant - she needed a driver and meal cutter-upper! And so it was that we ventured out to the wilds of the northern beaches, dressed up like two princesses on their way to the ball in our most glamorous frocks and high heeled shoes.

The night was MCed by none other than Jonathon Coleman who graciously donated his services for FREE. He was very funny and took my mind back to the good old Jono & Danno days. If you've never heard of them then you're either a) clearly not as old as me, or b) you don't live in Australia where this show was BIG. I'll just pretend it's the latter, okay?

The venue was very grand, and by that I mean grand in a way where you're extra careful walking when there are stairs to negotiate. As in LOTS of them. It was definitely one.step.at.a.time. It's been a while since I wore shoes with heels that high and I had horrific visions of making a total arse of myself by tripping and falling to the very bottom. So not the entrance one wants to make. After accepting a sparkling champagne (I needed it after those bloody stairs!) we found our table and readied ourselves for the night to begin.

And then.... be still my beating heart.

Special needs is an issue very close to my heart (and life) because I deal with it on a daily basis but even so, I hadn't counted on being so emotionally impacted by St Edmund's beautiful KIDS. Oh my God. The kids! They were gorgeous. Engaging. And so full of joy you couldn't take your eyes off them. Within minutes of the evening starting, I was seriously questioning the intelligence of my decision to wear eyeliner. I think I cried three times before we even got to the main course!

I would have loved to have filled ALL of the wishes listed here!

The positivity in the room was infectious. Honestly there should be more of this in people's lives; we'd really be so much better off. There were stories of achievements, milestones passed, examples of special needs teenagers simply being teenagers and doing everyday, teenage stuff, just like neuro-typical ones do. Travelling the well-worn path all teens make to become active, functioning adults with choices and options in life. All those possibilities are still there, ripe for the taking. I wish we had the funding necessary to ensure that ALL special needs kids have access to education centres like theirs. But that rant is for another post. I won't go there today.

The sheer 'joie de vive' I witnessed on those kids faces last night was nothing short of inspirational. I couldn't help but feel hopeful and yes, excited for what's around the corner for H. We're on the cusp of another big change - he starts high school next year - but I'm feeling much more relaxed and optimistic for his future. I can never thank his wonderful teachers at primary school enough.

And while I didn't need any other highlights from the night, there was one more - the gorgeous Kim from All Consuming happened to be attending this same fundraiser, a fact I only discovered after checking my Twitter feed! She was all "WHAT??? Where are you?" Just hilarious. Blogging has opened my life to so many wonderful people and continually reinforces one of the reasons why I love being a part of this amazing online community - you get to meet the coolest people! We took a picture to record the moment, especially as we were wearing our best frocks. God knows when I'll get the chance to dress up like that again.

I'm still short even wearing high heels!

A big, big thank you to my fellow Princess of the night - I had the best time, can't wait for next year! xx

So how was YOUR weekend? Who or what has inspired you lately?

June 13, 2012

Once upon a time in the west...

This is a sight no-one likes to see on a sporting field, especially when you're a parent and the player lying on the ground grimacing in pain is your own child. Bloody hell.

The venue was the Junior Rugby State Champs in Orange, a lovely little town in western New South Wales, where we'd been enjoying some top notch rugby action over a perfectly clear winter's weekend. Things were going exactly to plan for our boys so far; we were three wins from three games. 

The whistle blew for our last game of the day - the semi final - and the pressure was on. Suddenly, as these things so often do, the day was turned on its head without any prior warning. One minute Son #2 had the ball and was running it up the field, the next he was on the ground and not able to get up. Oh God. As soon as I saw his face, I knew right away the 'magic' water wouldn't be enough this time.

The ladies from St John Ambulance were fabulous, checking him over and administering the marvellously effective pain relief via the Green Stick of Good Drugs. What a revelation that was. Son #2 was ALL smiles. And then some. "How's the pain now, mate?" they asked him a minute or two later. "Man, I can't feel aaaaaaaaannnnyyyyything," he giggled. Snort. "That's fantastic," the ladies said. "Keep sucking on that stick. Good boy." Hell, yes, I thought. Stay pain free for as long as you can. And, can *I* have one? You know, just in case.

A short time later, he was off to the hospital via the ambulance with me following behind in the car. A first for both of us. Results from an X-ray ruled out the previously suspected tibia fracture - thank god - and we eventually left hospital a few hours later to make the long drive home, with crutches on the back seat and my boy's leg in a zimmer splint.

Tomorrow we're off for an MRI and next week we have an appointment with the orthopedic doctor for a chat, so fingers crossed it's nothing too serious. Son #2 is keen to get back on the paddock, as you would expect. He confided to me on the drive home that he was scared his career was all but over when he couldn't get up off the ground. A totally shattering thought for a boy who wants to pull on an All Blacks or Crusaders jumper in the future!

So that was my weekend. What did you do with yours? I do hope no ambulances were involved.

[Credit for all images to D Goddard]

June 6, 2012

Ice, ice, baby...

We had the mother of all storms in Sydney yesterday. Gale force winds of over 120km an hour were recorded on the coast. And this morning it's still raining and very cold, about 12 degrees if we're lucky. Winter, she has ARRIVED.

This weekend I am off to Orange with Son #2 for the NSW Junior Rugby State Champs. Imagine my excitement when I saw the average morning temperature they've been enjoying up there lately: -3 degrees. Yes, you read it right - MINUS THREE DEGREES. *bristles* However, there was some good news too - NO RAIN is forecast for the whole weekend. So it'll be cold, clear and sunny. I can definitely live with that.

Image Credit: Scott Gilbank

Our rep side received their brand-spanking-new kit at training tonight - shorts, socks, training shirt, jersey and team hoodie. *wolf whistles* Mah Boyz are gonna look so sharp when they run out onto that frozen-solid field! Hearts will break and women will weep at the sight. Son #2 meanwhile is totally pumped about the upcoming weekend; you should've seen him. Laid out his new kit almost reverently on the table for his father to look at when we got home. Hilarious. 

Tomorrow, I have to pack. And buy a few last minute things I've got written on my list (of course). And make sure everything at home is sorted for the other boys staying home. We leave on Friday morning which means there's just two sleeps to go. I can't help but feel more than a little excited at the prospect of this trip because the way I see it, a weekend away is a weekend away, right?! And holy crap, it's been a bloody long while since I had one of those.

This weekend most of Australia will be celebrating the Queen's Birthday (hip, hip, hooray!) with a three day break - what will YOU be doing?

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