Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Wooly Weather

Today being Friday I travelled from Canberra back to Sydney.
What a trip!
On the road to the Federal Highway I thought it might be snowing. Then I got to the Federal Highway.

Australians really don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone snow.


It took me far longer than normal to drive to Marulan, my usual spot to stop for a short break.

From there, it was a quick trip home, though.


They will not grow old

Today, it was announced that five Australian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have been killed – in two separate incidents. 20120830-223928.jpg

The detail of those events are to be honest unimportant and nothing I can say will be as well informed as any media site. But the message of tonight’s post is to express support of the commitment that sees these people follow through with their service.

That these new incidents are terrible is beyond question. Should these events trigger a reconsideration of the government policies that has our troops overseas? Quite possibly. But regardless of those policies, it is the role of those who are deployed to follow through with the mission they are deployed on, to execute the policy of the Government of the day.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and comrades of these latest casualties of our involvement in this conflict.

No Time To Be A Father?

So I’m looking around for some inspiration tonight and I stumble upon a little prompter from the Sydney Morning

The Loaded Dog offering an opportunity to answer the Big Questions. Right?

Herald. They are asking the question for their Loaded Dog forum

“are men given enough time to be great fathers?”

I will be sending my own submission.
It is an issue I feel strongly about. I know one thing only about life, and I learned it early: Life is about choices, choices are about sacrifices, and all choices come with a cost.
I chose to go to boarding school. This means I chose to not live at home throughout my high school life.
I chose to go to university. This means I chose to not attempt to earn money at that time. I also chose to not devote sufficient time to my study, which means I chose to not become an engineer…
Later, I chose with my wife to have children.
While Bec was pregnant, I made a firm choice – each time – to use a massive quantity of leave in those early weeks of my childrens lives. I chose jobs which allowed me to be at home, from the time my eldest child was born until my youngest son commenced school.
What I have been doing since August 2011 shows me that I could have made a different choice, which may have resulted in me earning more money.

My son, with me – being A FATHER

But no, I chose to be a father. In quite a traditional sense of the word, as well as in the modern “change nappies, cook food, do laundry, read to the kids” sense of the word. For part of the time between my youngest child being born and my eldest child starting school I was rushing home from work in time for Bec to go to work, so I could cook for, feed, bath and bed the kids, before washing up and tumbling into bed myself.
Sometime through this chapter of my life, I chose to give up my military reserve service. Why? Wholly because it detracted from my time to be a father.
To make this choice, I passed up several opportunities. I did however manage to do all of this while holding down a mid-level public service job, which allowed a sensible level of autonomy and required me to “ensure stuff was done” rather than “be there and do stuff.”

My son with my dog

I will however contrast this with the experience of my brother.
My brother had quite a different childhood to me. He attended school in a different location. He was academically quite challenged, and quite a bit more physically capable than me. He went on to earn a living through shearing sheep, working on farms, and driving trucks.
Even with all of this, his focus for significant portions of his adult life was being around for his children. I look at the choices he made, and the activities he did with his children – camping, horseriding, and a range of other activities – and I feel so jealous that they were different choices to the ones I made. But for any given choice I have made, there was a reason at the time.
So between my own experience, and that of my brother, I suggest that weather you are a white collar professional, or a blue collar worker – you can choose how much time to spend on your job, compared to yourself, compared to your family (including your children).
I have had ample time to be a father. It just means that in devoting that time to be a father, I have chosen to not spend that time on myself, my education, my religion, my sport, or my career.

How I feel right now.

Life feels like it’s a bit full right now.

I have people here for me, and chances are you do, too. It might be that like me, you need to reach out to those people a bit more than you do – both the ones who should be helping you, and the ones you should be helping, too.

Hopefully, by October, I’ll be feeling on top of the world. See you on October 1?

More success

Last summer, my kids all went along to swimming lessons. They were great – both the swimming lessons, and my kids.

Summer though comes to an end, and swimming is replaced by football, which takes up so much time that swimming isn’t such a great idea when we are so busy as well.

These last couple of weeks, I have been taking my kids to the local swimming pool. My youngest non-verbal son has had quite a bit of anxiety in coming to grips with being back in the pool. But in his take-on-the-world style, he rapidly got back to his previous confidence and was using the water slide, but remained concerned with putting his face under the water.

This weekend just gone, all that has changed.

It started in the shallowest pools, with my son happily ducking under the water.

Then yesterday, I suggested to him that he comes with me into “the big pool“. This pool has a ramp running the whole length of the pool in one lane, which ends in water that is 1.2m deep – nowhere near out of depth for myself, but far too deep for my son to have his head above the water while standing on the floor.

He happily followed me in. He happily laid front down and attempted to dogpaddle.

I was overjoyed.

He managed to get himself all the way to the shallowest end of the pool, although this was quite a challenge for him.

We finished the day with him hanging onto my elbows, laying face down, and kicking his way through the water.

With a start to the summer (well – Winter is finished!) this great, I’m hopeful that swimming lessons will be very positive, fruitful, and successful.

Great work to my youngest son.

I will also add that all this success followed having been told he could not use the water slide due to a childs birthday party which had booked the facility.

The honest list..

All parents find joy in shouting from the rooftops about all the things their children can do.

But none of that gets either you, or your child, any help at all in this needs focussed society we live in. Pointing out what our children cannot do is an anathema.

This is sure to be yet another absolutely fantastic post by Fi. Fi, who leaves no emotion unexposed, who tells us the bright and shiny, and the dark and scary.

The day ahead

For something different, I’m writing today about what lies ahead of me. Right now, it’s Sunday, 10:30 am, and I’m yet to leave my bedroom.
I’m still not feeling on the top of my game, last week really was not kind to me.
Today, I’m going to let my family know what needs to be done, and I’m going to take BTB Fan to the pool. He has been asking to go each day since the last time I took him, but it has not been a priority.

We have been busy. But we each deserve to BE the priority, some of the time.

He gave Bec and I the whole day yesterday. He can have my whole day in response, today.

Day of rest – that’s tomorrow, right?

It’s late (for me) on a Saturday night.

That means, the week is finished. And if ever a week needed to end, it was this week (just gone).

I’m not going into boring details, but the summary is – I’m glad it’s finished.

I worked out too late yesterday that I should be diverting to pick up a purchase for Rebecca. So today I ended up going for a drive with my youngest son for most of the day to collect it, followed by assembling a new treadmill in our back room when I got home.

This is how I contribute toward my family. Everybody contributes to their family unit in their own way, with whatever strengths they have, putting themself out there in ways that help other family members. It’s an implied part of the family contract that this effort will be reciprocated by the other people in the family. Everyone in my family puts themself out there as best they can. Exactly what that means, is totally different for each of the five of us.

When it all works, we’re a well functioning family unit. Nobody takes anyone else for granted. A job that is difficult for one person might be done by someone who finds it easier, taken on as a team effort, or maybe the ultimate solution will be used – throw money at it till the problem either goes away or is fixed.

Unfortunately, not everyone has that well functioning a family unit, and even for those that do have a well functioning family unit, it’s easy enough for one or more people to feel taken advantage of for a while. There are a few answers, but they all involve one common aspect – communication. The more, the better.

Right now, I feel like I’ve been hit by a train, after having put myself out there for over seven days in a row. Unfortunately, it’s bounced back on some people close to me, and I feel like I have to make up for that. Tomorrow is a new day, though, so I’m off to bed, hopefully to wake up feeling better than I have today – with a lot less reason to spend six hours in a car.

We all put ourselves out there for those we hold close. Don’t begrudge others what you choose to do for them, and if your fuse gets a bit short, take the time to think about why that happened, and discuss it with the other person later – when everything has calmed down.


Regular as clockwork, it’s Friday again. What a working week it has been.

I started my week by delivering a pup on my way to work, then another as I arrived. I welcomed a new colleague into our team, and helped get things moving in the right direction toward him being productive. A few more great workplace things continued to tick over nicely throughput the week, including a couple of background issues coming to a head as impacting on my teams ability to be as responsive as other teams need us to be – which is for me a fantastic opportunity to set the workplace up the way I think it would work well.

I also went along to see a movie with my mate Alan – The Bourne Legacy. I had been apprehensive about this movie, thinking it may be a bit like Star Wars Episode I. But it is a great movie and I thoroughly recommend it!

I also managed to work plenty of hours, and leave Canberra nice and early today. Which means, I’m he far earlier than normal. I hope your weekend is starting as well as mine!!

Clothes maketh the man

In the last twelve months my life has changed a few times in a few ways.

As a public servant in the state public service I wore “neat business” attire. I then moved onto back office IT support in a sales organisation where the dress standard was even more casual, before starting my current role.

I quickly came to realise that my wardrobe was a little below the expectation of the new job, and bought some clothes that felt more appropriate.

So I bought a couple of suits. They met that definition, “just”. They have been about acceptable, but not the most comfortable clothes I’ve ever worn.

Recently I have finally gathered some confidence that my life has in fact successfully moved onto a new chapter, and that my wardrobe should actually change to meet my new work. So earlier this week I actually put my hand in my pocket and bought a more reasonable suit.

So today, I wore the new suit, and it is totally fantastic compared to the ones I bought earlier in the year. Wearing it to work, feels surprisingly great to somebody who in the past has paid very little regard to the clothes on my back.

What is the difference? I find it hard to explain. It’s not just “if fits” or “the weight”, there is something I don’t really know how to put into words. But I know that it has changed my opinion regarding what is sensible to spend on clothes.

I’m glad I learned this lesson before I turned 40! Chances are I will be shopping again a little closer to my birthday.

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