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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
Something weird about Westie Central has been attracting apparently Indian or Pakistani telemareketting scammers like we’re the last target left before Rapture takes hold.
On a whim, I had the following conversation a few weeks ago:
(phone rings and I answer it)
Scammer: Oh, hello. I’m ringing about your Windows computer.
Westie: Which windows computer would that be?
Scammer: Our system shows you have a Windows XP computer which is infected with a trojan virus.
Westie: I don’t have a Windows computer, I have a Linux computer.
Scammer: (sounding like a child whose toy has been taken away) Oh. Sorry for the interruption….
When I get these phone calls, I know they are scammers (who want to install a trojan horse program onto your computer so they can eg illegally obtain your banking details) and it doesn’t really bother me. I know they have probably just got a sequence of phone numbers they ring and a script to read from.
I know that if my computer is infected with a trojan horse, I’d know about it before some random call-centre operator on the other side of the world (unless of course they are the ones who put it there).
Mrs Westie is a different matter and there have been a few anxious conversations about this issue, and while the spammers annoy me… I don’t let it last much past the phone call.
However, they have pushed me to squeeze Windows XP to one side. It’s old, it’s almost out of maintenance, it’s scammer heaven on a stick. We’re almost to a point where by running it, you’re inviting scammers to steal your personal details – either from your web traffic or directly from your PC!
So I downloaded Ubuntu Natty Narwhal, and while Bec was at a friends place… it somehow got itself installed on the PC.
I will make one main comment: I don’t like the “Unity” interface. And my google-fu tells me, I’m not alone (“how do I remove it” being the first result for googling “natty narwhal unity interface”).
Once I’d put it back to what I was already used to from my net-book though, it’s fantastic.
So: if you have a Windows XP PC that is in need of an overhaul, and a memory stick… download Ubuntu. Give it a go (straight off the memory stick on most PC’s). And if you really like it, install it!
In a show of unity with Val, I thought I might bring up… let’s think again… revisit… no, still not right… mention our worst situation so far in the world of vomiting kids.
Because as we all know, horror – and misery – shared, is horror halved. Anyway, it’s fun grossing people out with gross stories!
When we only had two kids… aah, those were the days! We didn’t even really know what Autism was. We could pick up and go on a moments notice. Babies were cute, and we’d had one for the last 30-odd months in a row.
So one Easter, when Princess P was not quite 3, and Guitar Hero Addict had just turned one, we headed bush to see my brother & his family. To ride horses, and see the wilderness that is north-west of Dubbo.
At the time, Westie Elder the 2nd lived in a place that didn’t even have a supermarket. Nor a doctors surgery. An honest to goodness one-pub-town! None of that mattered, because – none of us were sick, right?
Someone forgot to tell the Easter Bunny that year that it’s the tooth fairy’s job to bring teeth, and even then, usually only the second ones. Because Princess P chose the moment we were over 200 km from a chemist to need Nurofen, thanks to some wicked canines of which she’d decided to grow two at once. While we were over 200 km from a chemist.
And anyway, being Easter, the chemist would have been closed for at least 4 days running!
While we were sleeping on the floor in my brothers lounge room. Which was fine, except for the fact that it was only at night that her temperature went berserk!
And that’s how I found myself having my first real experience with Princess P being a vomit fountain to rival this:
Since then we’ve found that our Princess can become anxious about almost anything in life, which is often enough to bring about vomiting, and all sorts of other upsetting activities best left for another time.
In case you missed it, the Westies live in the Land of the Giants. No I don’t mean Brobdingnag, I mean we live near Blacktown Olympic Park, or Rooty Hill. Which has now taken on a new life as the home territory of a national sports team so new, it hasn’t actually had it’s maiden match yet.
We are also fully into our junior Australian Rules Football.
This week we have been told that as our club is wonderful, we will get to play at the Giant’s home training ground – both the under 8’s which Magpie plays in, and the under 10’s which Princess P plays in. This will be followed by a bit of a fan-session with the players. Hopefully this will include Israel Folau but only time will tell.
I say that because he has probably had a fair bit to do with quite a few of our teams players having any interest at all in Aussie Rules instead of Rugby League or Rugby Union.
As luck would have it, the same day we also have a birthday party to attend. It’s at exactly the kind of place spectrummy parents love to loathe… an indoor cafe play-centre. At least everything is padded, but it’s also contained noise. Contained excitement. All one room.
But, the birthday boy loves Magpie, and Princess P, and his brother loves BTB Fan to bits. So it should be a good day.
For the first time this season we were able to play both Princess P, AND Magpie, in their own age groups! At the same field! The way things have been this year it was a bit of a minor miracle.
Looking at our fixtures list, I don’t know if it happens again before July! But Magpie will “play up” with his sister I guess?
Putting the fantastic football displayed by the under 8’s and under 10’s though, one other thing today provided was a great opportunity for interaction with some kids that BTB Fan sees irregularly. And for his Dad to reach out and try to expand that circle of aquaintances, hoping that the more people he meets the more friends he might make.
Sure, he kept things in his comfort zone by staying in & around the playground the whole day, but more and more instead of just playing there while other kids are playing there too, he is actually seeking his playmates out to join in with their game, or wanting them to join in with his. He is – well “happily” is too strong a word – lets settle with “mildly imatiently” waiting his turn to be next on the flying fox, the monkey bars, or whatever else is on offer (and while he’s at it he’s putting kids twice his age to shame in his antics on those things).
We throw him in there “boots and all”, to sink or swim, but yeah we are close at hand so if he does sink… well, he won’t be drowning.
Who knows, one or more of these kids might be dragging him onto a footy field this time next year?
I’d best talk about the footy a little bit. Princess P did herself, her family and her team proud, pulling on the other teams colours to pad out thier numbers. I think we ended up with a full complement, twelve-a-side under 10’s running the football quite well. It was great to see how far the teamwork, and individual skills have come since the start of the season, six or eight weeks ago now.
And again the under 8’s… Magpie put the skills he has picked up playing in his big sisters team to good use. And his mate M picked up player of the week, which is a pretty cool deal in itself!
Here at Westy central events are again putting a few things into perspective, or weight what we have against a few alternatives. Whether I feel it’s a good time to reflect or not!
We all know that the natural disasters have been thick and fast around the place, and thankfully, here in Western Sydney we’ve missed out on the cyclones, floods, storms, bushfires, earthquakes and tsunamis. That in itself should be enough for us all to rejoice in how wonderful each day is!
But the normal human reaction is to see the best that others have and the worst things we have ourself. For me lately it’s been a bit of stressing about my ongoing job circumstances (which suck… not the work so much, just the job circumstances ), and having a semi-verbal child starting school.
What I should do, is focus on the wonder and joy which that young boy brings me every day. When he does say things which – however scripted they might be – are entirely appropriate at the time. When the communications book comes home from school telling us how much he was counting (and counting and counting and counting…..). At the totally immersed joy he has, in the playground with a kid (almost) his age (well he was supposed to be watching football… but hey playing next to someone is almost as good, right??).
Focus on, the wonderful fact that he is a fantastically healthy, independant, powerful “boys boy” who loves climbing, jumping, and riding his bike. And he CAN do those things that he loves.
Just after Easter, a family friend was given the news that she was pregnant. Not just “a little bit”, but pretty much six months pregnant. Then on Mothers Day, she went into a very early labour.
She is right now the mother of a very sick young boy, who we hope, will be allowed home in about three months after some time in the post-natal intensive care unit at Westmead. As much as I can do for our friends, I know… that every night she will have to choose between coming home to the three children she already had, or staying at the hospital with her very sick newborn baby. Not just for a night or two, or for as long as a school camp runs, but for three months.
Our thoughts are with you, your husband and all your children – not just your baby – as you move through this. I hope you can reach out and find the help to move through this time in life which is there if you look. “It’s not weakness to accept help for your child” – and as I give that advice to someone else I hope I hear the lesson for myself as well.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe“. Abraham Lincoln … or “It’s all in the planning”
Here at Westie Central, life can be a bit of a whirlwind. Yesterday was a fine example of this, with me going to work, the three kids having school, Bec off to visit a friend who has had a suprise childbirth (more later), then footy practice. In two different places? Who comes up with these ideas!
We worked out a plan: Dinner was on before I got home. She really is a wonder-mum! I was late, oops, but off we went. Me with the two boys: Magpie, the middle child, and his younger spectrummy brother got dropped off at the first field while Mum & Princess P went to the other field (too far to walk!) for her age group (yes, Princess P plays footy… Auskick is at playafl.com).
It was a great practice session for the boys though: our new home ground has just had lights installed, and to celebrate, the under 8’s had a special training session with the under 16’s, and at the end of it the under 8’s got their Auskick kit bags – not a bad backpack, football, and a few other bits and bobs.
Hmm, but what’s a spectrummy 5 year old to do while his brother practices footy?
Luckily a team-mates mum and little brother were also in the sidelines. Quite a bit younger then BTB Fan, but just the right stage to talk at much the same level and to happily chase each other around the swings, on the monkey bars, and RUN! Thanks J, it was a great way to spend training.
At the end of that though we settled down in the stands to watch the last bit of training. A cup of tea helped keep my little boy sitting in the stands (damn it was cold, and drinking tea is perectly normal for a 5 year old isn’t it?), as did the good old Nintendo DS.
One uncertain moment in the clubhouse, again sorted with the DS. Uh, how hard are we allowed to lean on those things? Anyhoo, his mate was also playing games on an iPhone so…
However. At the end of the night there was a scare. People going everywhere and “someone” thought that the pitch dark night after 7pm was a great time to wander off to climb trees. Thanks again to J, because, while I went running to the playground… J tracked my boy down.
It took about 3 seconds. Seriously, between me knowing where my son was – and not – was 3 seconds. So glad he was found within a minute, because well… finding a 5 year-old in the mainly dark around a footy field would not have been a good way to spend a night.
After which we set off for “somewhere” to meet up with Mum. Walking, in the dark (hey, it’s an adventure walking in the dark with your dad isn’t it? And if dad’s right there, you’re ALLOWED to climb the trees)!
Someone tell me again, where was the “planning” in all this?
There’s a guy where I work, who since I moved into working in the city, has been planning & moving toward his retirement. In what is probably fairly normal, he had a plan then found that it would cost him a lot of money to do it that way.
So he took some holidays, and “returned home” to the UK for a bit, before coming back to work. It turns out he’s best off retiring in the new financial year (sometime in July).
All seemed good, he was really happy about having been back home, and also looking forward to officially counting down his last few weeks of work. What none of us expected for a really fit bloke is what happened though: he’s gone and had a heart attack just before he retires.
It’s one of those unfortunate events in life that give us all a reason to pause and think a little bit about what we do at work, why we’re there, and maybe should we be doing more away from work rather than at work. Well, it definately has for me anyway – given the number of days I’ve been putting in for someone elses benefit lately.
The other thing it has lead me to think about, is how very few of us go through our life “expecting” to have a heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer, or whatever else happens to people, at any moment. The type of event which changes your life without notice – if you’re lucky, and it doesn’t just bring an end to your life.
So I’m trying – and I’m sure I’m not doing it as well as I would like to – to spend the time I’ve got with my family right now, in a way that if something untoward happens there’s no reason to say “I wish…”
While there are plenty of things I could wish for, I’m hoping I don’t have to say “I wish I’d spent more time and effort with my kids.” We all know I’m not going to ever say “I wish I’d spent more time at work!”
And if you happen to stumble upon this post you dodgy old pom… take your time, works not going anywhere while you’re getting better. It will be there if you want it, but you’ve also done plenty and deserve to retire with health on your side. Here’s hoping it swings back that way.