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

Monthly Archives: November 2012

The good news, and the not-yet-news

After seeking some information from work for several weeks, I finally got an update today.

Not directly. Not formally. Informally, by accident, by asking a tangential question following on from another question.

I have finally found out how many more days of work they would like me to do this year, and “if they are to have me back next year,” when they want me from, next year.

The good news is, the project team I am on deem me critical and want me to take the shortest possible time off.

The not-yet-news is, they don’t actually get much say in who comes back after Christmas, that decision is still to be released. So I either get the rediculously short time of two weeks holidays in the middle of the Australian summer, or… my current employment finishes the Friday before Christmas. It will be incredibly annoying if this same situation occurs two years running.

Need a multitalented Information Technololgy Professional? Let me know!


Success for 2012

It’s fast approaching.

The end of the year. Time to review where we are at.

How does a family, a parent, measure success? They look to the children.

My wife has advised that in the next couple of weeks our youngest gets a citizenship badge (not bad for a seldomly verbal boy with autism), his brother gets an academic achievement award, and their sister will hopefully be provided a Student Leader role of one form or another.

On her own front, my wonderful wife has managed to continually improve the state of our home, in the same year as she has returned to work on a rather chaotic basis, in the same year as she has continued to lose weight, while becoming fitter, and dealing with a husband (ME!) who is now only home a couple of days a week.

I have managed my transition from public servant, to casual phone monkey, to contracting ICT professional, travelling away from home. The team I am working in, has been doing OK in changing an organisation from a mish mash of obsolete crap, to a modern computer system. It is a big job and our part is a small but important one, we have done it well with sketchy support and at time poor tools, using in the main people who came to work to do quite a different task to the ones they find themself doing.

So far, so good, and tomorrow it’s the last day of Spring.

I hope your year has been as good as mine, so far!

Sometimes there is no compromise

Compromise is the path to peace. Which is great, until you come to an issue where compromise simply isn’t possible. For parents, there are many times in the lives of our children where we simply cannot compromise. The first being, should we become a parent, or not?

You can’t compromise on a yes/no situation. You become a parent, or not.

Having become a parent, there are times when we can compromise, and times when we cannot. You may choose to bottle feed… you may compromise by espressing milk, rather than bottle feeding with formula… or you may reject bottle feeding as lacking emotional bond between mother and child. However the possibility exists.

Often, parents face situations where one parent has strong views, and the other is ambivalent. Other times, both parents have similar strong views, and there are no real challenges. When each parent has an opposing strong view, there is conflict.

Vaccination is an area of childrens lives where compromise is quite a difficult path to tread. We either vaccinate our children, or we don’t. Few people who have a strong involvement in their childrens life will be ambivalent about this decision. Those of us who feel strongly that all children must be vaccinated will see that a vaccination program that is spread over a longer duration that is usual, is a fair compromise.

In Australia, a couple who divorced some time ago, have gone to court over the right of one parent to refuse vaccination for the child, compared to the right of the other to insist that child is vaccinated. Initial result is that a judge has supported the right of the parent seeking vaccination, in part to protect part siblings from illnesses those siblings are too young to be vaccinated against. Herd Immunity.

It is a challenging case. Myself, I am for Herd Immunity. Living in society engenders personal sacrifice as the cost of living in that society. We sacrifice personal freedoms on a daily basis, complying with social norms, to gain the protection, benefit and convenience that society offers us – protection from terrible illnesses being one of those protections, either in advance (through sanitation, vaccination and surveillance of outbreaks) as well as after the event, through the wonderful benefits of our hospital and healthcare system (however flawed they might be).

The magistrate has been swayed by the value of Evidence Based Medicine over “traditional” techniques which do not have the backing of “evidence” which will stand up under the Scientific Method. In a situation of vaccinate – or don’t – there is no middle ground between the black, and the white – grey is neither half black nor half white, having introduced “a little” foreign matter into our body we have introduced some of that foreign matter. If we fail to introduce the quantity which is shown to initiate an immunological response, all we have done is expose a child to risk without any opportunity of benefit.

Glad I’m not a judge.

My month, in detail?

I am going to make a point of not skipping this blog prompt on my list of blogging topics for the month. I am also going to gloss over this topic quite briefly in an effort to catch up on the day I missed, because I am a day behind where I need to be.

Yesterday, I spelled out in pretty solid detail my routine week. My routine month, does not particularly vary week to week. I can bore anyone quite solidly by pointing out the repetitiveness of my life… I could also say that apples don’t fall far from the tree, and I have a son whose diagnosis is characterised by an over fondness for routine.

My months, then, consist of a collection of quite similar weeks.

As the months pass, my routines vary steadily as the weather turns. What my children are getting up to outside of school has a massive impact on my weekend arrangements.

I’m also going to plead that I can’t particularly detail my year in great detail. So tonight I’m deviating from the listed topics, and don’t actually know right now what I will be producing in a short time.

Tomorrow night, is intended to be about aspirations for the year to come. That is a post I am looking forward to writing and I hope it turns out positively!

You want a WHOLE WEEK?

Oops. I have missed a day, it seems, so I am playing catch-up.

My week… for my own sanity, I will start on a Sunday afternoon. Which seems to me about the time my new week commences!

Sunday PM

Gather all my clean laundry, pack my bag, pack the car, have dinner, say goodnight to the kids, have a bath and a shave, say goodnight to my wife and go to bed. That generally fills in about four hours quite thoroughly!


Wake at 4 am. Eat without waking anyone if I can manage it. Tuck all the kids back into bed, and give them a last cuddle and kiss before I hit the road for the week. Go back upstairs, brush teeth, get dressed, kiss my wife and jump in the car.

Drive half way or so to Canberra, stop for a coffee, then drive the rest of the way to be at work before 8:30.

Have lunch with Alan, then return to work till 5 or 6pm.

Go to my “home away from home” and unload the car for the week, before having dinner and spending some time online. Generally, be in bed… just before midnight, for usually a 20-hour Monday. Life’s grand!


Be up, showered, eat, and on my way to work… sometime before 8:00 am, but often before 6:40am.

Get to the office, have a coffee, and start work. Work consists of hassling people about what software does, or does not, work with Windows 7, and why they should be using software that is easier to make work. It’s quite repetitive, and my colleagues and I seem to keep having groundhog day moments every week or so.

Knock off work sometime before 6:30 pm, before heading “home” for dinner. Hopefully, catch up with Bec online and be in bed before 11 pm.

Wednesday and Thursday: Often, much like Tuesday. It’s normal for me to eat out at least one of these nights, often with Alan, sometimes with the Aunty I live with while I’m in Canberra.


Get up before 6:30 am, have breakfast, pack my bags and car, head to work hoping to be there by 7:00 am.

Work on Friday inevitably ends up being “chase up some absolutely critical things that won’t actually change the world if they aren’t done before Monday, but it’s essential you get it done TODAY.”

Hopefully, I’ve already worked 40 hours by the time I arrive at work on Friday. So by lunch-time, I can jump in the car, grab some lunch and hit the road for Sydney. I often have to work till 3 or 4 pm, though.

On the way home, I almost always check in at a roadhouse for a coffee and to break the trip. Hopefully I am home by 8pm, in time for dinner with the kids, and in bed by 10pm.


The least structured day of my week. Hopefully I get to sleep in, while Bec goes to a regular meeting – assuming the kids stay quiet. I will catch up with some of the things I can’t do around the home while I’m away, and hopefully get the kids involved. Ideally we will get out of the house on bikes, for a walk, to some organised sport, or for a swim.  Bec will usually cook something pretty wonderful on Saturday night, and Magpie will often cook sausages for lunch. It’s just “his thing“!


Sunday morning I will again attempt to sleep in. Something will need to be caught up on that wasn’t finished the day before. Before I know it, it will be lunch time, and I’m back on the whirlwind for another week.

Sunday. Westie Style!

Sundays are a dichotomy here at Westie Central. They always start late, peaceful and relaxed. But soon after they become chaos and mayhem.Early on, I set my goals for the day: to go to the pool and swim laps. To ensure my laundry was done for the week, and my bag packed. That I spent some time relaxing.

Simple goals. Yet children, especially it seems my children, seem to be able to complicate such simple endeavours.

It started simply enough, with breakfast. Then “a chat” about “household chores“. One of those chats that people have with their kids about a job that it would be quicker to just do the job yourself – but that is not how to teach a person anything. So we haf a similat discussion to one we have most weeks, about who washed up how many times this week and how we all need to work together if we want to do anything with our weekend like “go for a swim.” While that sorted itself out, I attended to some other chores that are not so readily delegated.

Those done, I asked who was coming to swim laps with me. I handed out another job to someone who said they would rather stay home, when @Westybec said she was going to come, too. This ended up triggering a mini meltdown and not from Bob the Builder Fan but from one of the other two, who didn’t respond well to the change in plan.

But we walked to the pool. Part way there, Bob the Builder Fan stopped with me to read a “christmas letter” sign in some random person’s front yard. While his “elastic band” is becoming quite long, he does not appreciate being left behind – ever – and he was quite upset that his mother and siblings continued on. His brother and sister are “stepping up” when it comes to helping to keep him out of harms way in public. So today, his brother and sister took turns making sure he was going through the motions of using a water slide then lining up to do it all again, while I – and Bec – swam some laps. I’m not that great a swimmer, but it felt good to do some “serious” swimming rather than just “play in the pool.” Princess P and Magpie also had a bit of a go at swimming. They are both almost pool safe…but a long way from 100m “drownproof“, and they would really like to stop swimming every third stroke while they breath.

When I had quite enough of attempting to not drown – I’m a far from elegant swimmer – I bought the youngest one home. We stopped part way to gossip about gardening, which was a welcome distraction. My son and I made it home in time to chill out, and have a post-chlorinated-pool shower, before the caphony of Princess P and Magpie returned home with their mum.

My afternoon was a pleasant relaxation, before being under the pump to get ready for my week at work.

That’s a pretty typical Westie Sunday in Sydney. I hope yours was fantastic, too.

The countdown!

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, we are now within 5 weeks of Christmas. For a second year running, it seems I have an employer with “commitment issues” who wishes to confirm neither that they will prefer me to return after Christmas … or not?

So I’m back on the lookout for my next job. Jobhunting is something I haven’t devoted much time to over the years since I left school. On average I think I have only changed jobs every four years. On a few of those occaisions, I was asked if I would be interested in the job I was moving onto. So the whole idea of actually marketting myself is not all that familiar to me.

I’m off to not that bad a start, having piqued the interest of some suitable people… with about four weeks to go, I’m hopeful I will be secure come Christmas.

Inspired by Wonderfully Wired

Apparently an op shopping fan, well according to her tweets.

Wonderful new website

Many moons ago, while working to improve the state of technology within the largest gaol Australia had to offer at the time, I had a few challenges on my hands. One was coming to terms with the differences between my youngest son – born just before I commenced that job – and his siblings, and another was isolation in the middle of an established community. It takes time for a civilian to breach the trust of people in a common uniform, it is quite a universal experience, however I had some private space, an Internet connection, and a need to reach out.

I found the parenting blog on the Brisbane Courier Mail at some time by accident and my comments are scattered through Felicity Moore’s work there over the years. I like to think I had some input into some of the topics she covered. She has since moved on from News Limited and is branching out to do other work.

So I’m quite interested to see what comes of her newest offering over at The Write Way. While a fair few people I know online write quite a bit, Felicity is possibly the professional writer I follow the most. I will be quite interested to see what comes of her new endeavor.

Best of luck Flick!

Recipe for Success

I would really hope that anyone who reads my blogs will see that beneath the discussion of Autism, family relationships, and even sport, my recurring theme is “success.”

Success in what we are doing, gives us validation that what we are doing is working. This helps to add to our feelings of self worth. How, though, can we be sure to succeed?

Success is pretty simple, really. It’s quite simple in almost all areas of life, and generally, those of us who fail to succeed do so for a few very common reasons. So what then is the recipe for success?

  1. Identify the goal. If we don’t identify the goal, we won’t know when we have reached it, so we won’t be able to identify and recognise our success.
  2. Identify the starting point or conditions. We need to be able to measure our progress. This will assist in keeping us on track toward achieving the success.
  3. Ensure that the distance between the goal and the starting point is achievable.
  4. Make sure that the motivation for reaching the objective will actually motivate us to work toward the objective.

Without each of these, success will come at random, and when we miss our routine success stories we will be demotivated and feel doubt about who we are, or the value others have for us.

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