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

Category Archives: Cycling

Transport Tuesday

Happily, today I return to my Transport Tuesday theme. With some discussion at work, I have found that I need to be at work early on Wednesday each week. This means that cycling to work on Wednesday is a Bad Idea (TM). However, cycling on Tuesday seems to be able to work well.

After two weeks of not riding my bike, though, this mornings bike ride was a bit of a struggle – however, it turned out to be an enjoyable struggle.

A Shifting Spanner, thanks to Rentia Venter at iDEA DRIVEN

Which is more than I can say for the ride home. Somehow, I managed to pick up a nail or something similar in my rear tyre. This is something that I needed tools to repair, tools that I do not carry with me when I commute to work. I stopped on the way home to see if I could get the tools I needed – a “shifting spanner” was all that I needed – but without knowing where I really was, I wasn’t able to find what I needed.

So, I rode home with a flat tyre.

I really, really don’t recommend riding a bicycle, while it has a flat tyre. But it seemed a better option at that moment than chaining my bike to a post, and walking.

What I really need to do, is order the part my other bike needs, and get it out of  Peters’ shed.

Enjoy the ride.


Ten Day Challenge Day Four

Onto the fourth day of the Ten Day Challenge thanks to Tezza at MyTeeFine.

Seven Fears / Phobias

Again this is possibly a subject that is a bit of a challenge for a guy to face up to, because if we’re scared of something the last thing we’re supposed to do is talk about it. On top of which, I’m not scared as such of a lot of things which a lot of people would say they are scared of: snakes, spiders, bugs, dogs, birds, germs – they all need to be managed, not feared. Forgetting about what I’m not scared of – here is my list…

    1. Admitting fear
      If I admit I’m scared of a situation, that erodes my authority as a person to turn to should that situation arise.
    2. Being away when I’m needed.
      Especially given my current work situation – commuting to Canberra every Monday morning, and not returning till dinner time Friday – I’m realistically scared that some event will arise while I’m too far away to actually be able to help, or take charge. Because yeah, that’s what I do.
    3. Becoming seperated.
      With a non verbal son, my biggest fear regarding our children is the potential that he will wander off and he won’t be able to express to whoever is unlucky enough to find him won’t understand what in the world is going on. We have experienced this once, at ANZ Stadium (as it was at the time) in Sydney Olympic Park.
      We do what we can. But strangely enough, both my wife and I are human, as are our children, and we just can’t phyiscally be with our son 100% of the time. Even if we are, he’s quick.

      ANZ Stadium

      Image by Vijay Chennupati at

    4. Aging, disgracefully.
      I’m happy enough to get older, and more mature. What I am a bit scared of, is something unplanned – say a car accident – interfering with my own plans to stay fit, healthy and active, well into my sixties and seventies.
    5. What I don’t control.
      This probably belongs at the top of my list.
      As a driver, as a cyclist, every day I do things that kill more people than anything else: I go onto the road with other people. The scariest thing isn’t something I will do, it’s that I will be the victim of someone else doing something stupid.
    6. What will happen when my son is older.
      All parents worry about that, parents of special needs children are actively scared. I KNOW that some of what he does is unacceptable and could result in him being “managed” if he was in care – even in foster care.
      That this could be 10, 20, or 50 years of his life, is actually scary.
      Sure, I hope that he’ll grow and develop and be able to live independently. Or if not quite independently, he will get along well enough with his siblings that he will be looked after enough.
    7. Change.
      Face it, change and the unknown are what we are all really scared of. Change is the underlying issue behind all six of those things that I just mentioned. Change I can’t predict.

Thanks to Tezza for prompting me to confront my fear.

Yes, I’m fearful of these things, but I’m also brave enough to march forward and meet these fears. They won’t stop me from living life. I will drive, every day, and ride a bicycle when I care to. I will own my phyiscal wellbeing, at every stage of my life, and do what I can to make sure that in ten years, I will be as fit as anyone can expect. I have some great role models in my family, but also some real warning signs, that if I take my health for granted it won’t be there when I come to rely on it.

Wheely Wednesday

Another week, another Wednesday, another effort at cycling to work.

The good news being, my time is moving in the right direction, even though my motivation was somewhat lagging.

I rode my way along Molongolo river, before heading back to the Cotter Road and onto Adelaide Drive. For the first time, I was able to ride around State Circle and move onto Brisbane Drive without getting in anybodys way. I was most impressed with my ability to negotiate some intersections which have been causing me grief up till now.

My ride times over the last few weeks are certainly moving in the right direction:

25 July 2012 1 hr 12 minutes 43 seconds

1 August 2012 1 hr 4 minutes 30 seconds

8 August 2012 1 hr 3 minutes 54 seconds

These times are rather unscientific, based on me being in the house when I start the timer on my phone, and about at the front door to the office when I stop it. So chances are there is no real difference in the last week. However, I will take what improvement I can get.

For those of us who are training.

Image thanks to via their facebook page

What you already own, you can add to that list.
I own my bike, any day I ride it, at the very worst – I become unfit more slowly than if I stay off the bike.

Defining Success

I’m a fan of spelling out exactly what success means to you. If you don’t spell it out before you set out to get there, you won’t know when you’ve reached it. It will slip by, unnoticed, while more than likely, you are concentrating on those things you are still striving to achieve.

And some of those things will – eventually – find a way to grind you down.

So with that I’m really happy to tell everyone about a fantastic blog I’ve just started to follow closely, 100 Days 100 Ways. In her first blog for August, Kim sets out – clearly and in specific detail – her goals for the month:

1. weigh-in at 70kg

2. learn 50 new words of Japanese vocabulary
3. learn to read another 100 Japanese Kanji characters

4. photograph and process images twice a week
5. update all three blogs twice a week four times a week
7.climb a new mountain in Japan once a week
8.45 push-ups
9.5-minute plank

10.Skype the family daily whilst I’m overseas

Compared to my current goals, that list looks truly amazing – the type of challenge I would have set myself back while I as thinking about setting myself challenges rather than “surviving”.

So with this inspiration, and her advice ringing soundly – “Do not overcommit by having too many goals” – my goals for August:

  1. Cycle from Weston Creek to Fyshwick, and back, at least six times.
  2. Commence doing both pushups and situps on a daily basis, Tuesday to Friday, as of 7th August.
  3. Continue to contribute to the #photoaday challenge for August on Instagram.

I think that will do it, for August. I turn 40 in September… so if I can be fitter before then, that will be great!

Wheely Wednesday

Today marked Week Three and my third successful both-way commute from where I stay each week in Canberra to work, about 12km each way. This gives me a total cycle commute of about 75km to date, so next week I will break my 100km cycling in Canberra milestone.

Today, my trip to work was again a little more exciting than I would really like, as I rode around State Circle. State Circle is one of two ring roads that go all the way around the Australian Parliament House, so in international terms it is probably an interesting aspect of life in Canberra that do many people drive on it. Every single day. And they are just getting about Canberra, not going to the Parliament as such!

So anyway, to get to work I ride around State Circle in a clockwise direction, about three quarters of a full lap. That part is no great drama, there is enough room and drivers are well behaved. Until it’s time to exit.

Then it all just gets messy, and after two rides, I’m still looking for the best way to handle this particular lop-sided hill (it has to be a hill of course).

If that wasn’t enough, on the way home I saw something which to now I had only ever seen in Canberra near the airport: a queue of traffic! So here I am riding past very slow moving cars (in Sydney they would not have been moving at all) on a cycling lane, deprecated from the cages by a thin white line. I’m in a world of my own of course. Behind me there’s a sudden “Woooorrr” from nowhere, as motorcycle copper announces his presence.

My immediate response is to jump iny saddle of course, shocked back to the moment as he pulls alongside me and with a chuckle in his voice calls out “sorry mate” over the low rumble of his motorbike.

Hopefully, that is as exciting as commuting in Canberra ever gets!

100 Club

Finishing the puzzle… 100th post
Image thanks to Techpedia

Crack the champaign, I’ve hit the Hundred Club of blogging.

Back a long time ago, ImaWestie posted his first comment on Sacha Molitorisz’ blog Whose Your Daddy at the Sydney Morning Herald. In those comments I record my earliest concern:

¶ on a totally seperate note, my wife and I are at a point where we would be delighted to hear our youngest swearing, if only he would talk.

At what age should we be how worried about our son pretty much being non-vocal?

SM, if anyone sensibly wants to contact me on this please pass along my details to them.

Posted by: ImaWestie on April 26, 2008 9:36 PM

So as early as April of 2008 – four years ago, just before his third birthday – I was already concerned about my son’s development.

I think my fully bogan alter-ego appeared as I had already had about enough of being concerned about who I was, where I worked, and who my kids are, when I was looking to talk about a range of topics online.

Since that first appearance, I’ve sprouted up on News Limiteds comments section, the Whirlpool technology forum, on a range of games websites, and continued to appear on the Sydney Morning Herald website from time to time.

I also wandered along to the Autism United community, where I learned so much, and was inspired to record my thoughts, experience and emotions onto blog format. Some of what I wanted to write didn’t fit in amost such a well defined community, so here I came to WordPress.

That puzzle there remains extremely relevant. Tonight, with our dinner, my wife and I celebrated as we used bribery to tempt our youngest son with yoghurt, to get him to eat one (!) pea and one tiny carrot stick. Absolutely smothered in red, tangy, sugery, terrible…. tomato sauce.

But it was a win.

Four and a quarter years down the track, Westie and Mrs Westy are continuing our adventure, hoping we continue to challenge all three of our children, learn more than just what we have to, and expand not just our own horizons but the horizons of our children, too.

Hope to hear more from all of you who like to drop in and “like” my posts without leaving more to let me know what you think. If you have something to add to my writing, to what I know about Autism, being a father or husband, a coach to a junior AFL team, a cyclist or an IT Professional. I’d love to hear it. Because while I might be at my 100th post, that puzzle is far from complete.


All good, until…

Today, things fell into place a bit.

My wife is still unwell, and she had weight watchers this morning (I hear the result was a good one). To make the weekend a bit different, our kids football game has been scheduled for Sunday instead of Saturday, so I had been wondering what would be happening this weekend. But then my parents – who live several hundred kilometers away – told me the other night that they would be in Sydney this weekend.

No matter what I did though, they wouldn’t give me enough detail to actually make any plans.

Winnebago Ceduna – image care of

Then last night while I was driving home my mum rang me and asked what we could all do if they were in Sydney today.

They are driving a brand new Winnebago, which they picked up two weeks ago in Melbourne. So arranging a place to meet them isn’t as straightforward as it could be. Especially given their fantastic knowledge of Sydney and Sydney roads.

Well, after having driven past it too many times, I’d been thinking about dropping into the Western Sydney Parklands – specifically, the Plough and Harrows section (given that the parklands go from Liverpool to Castle Hill).

Turns out, it was a great idea.

Old Man Westie shows Magpie how to burn pig flesh

The parkland, features some fantastic free electric barbeques, well defined roads which are accessible but not too close to the barbeque and eating areas, great cycleways and walking tracks. These tracks seem to have quite a few drinking fountains, which include bubblers at the top, taps a bit lower, and all the runnoff ends up flowing through a dog water trough at the bottom – which is on a hinge, so if you have your dog with you, you can easily tip out the water that might not be fresh, and replace it.

After meeting my parents there, we had a barbeque , and later my kids had a play while I chatted a bit more with my parents. My kids had an absolute ball on the flying fox, while the boys and I also made good use of some of those bike tracks. Eventually, we headed home. We’re currently planning for my parents to catch my eldest two kids playing Australian Rules football for the St Clair Crows tomorrow, at the home ground in St Clair.

Westies rollin’ through the parkland

The afternoon was a not-quite-flurry of activity, with my current travelling to work in Canberra there is not a lot of down time in Westy Central.

Then dinner, with my wife “throwing together” a lazy three seperate meals in one night – which around here is “almost normal”, one weightwatchers friendly meal, three mainstream meals, and one spectrummy friendly meal most easily described as “colourless food in isolated piles” such as boiled rice, grilled chicken, and plain pasta seperately on a plate.

A pretty big day, all told, really.

Especially it turns out, for an eight-year-old boy, who happens to have Autism.

One little part of the day that is supposed to just work like clockwork is bedtime.

No matter what happens in the day, you can rely on what happens at night.

Bathtime, dinner time, “yoghurt time?”, brush your teeth, go to bed. Repeat this more frequently the more tired and frustrated you feel, it will do wonders for the emotions of anyone around you (or not).

Somewhere between “brush your teeth” and “go to bed”, there is supposed to be a “horsey ride“.

Except tonight, the shitstorm got real, and I outright ordered all three children to bed. They were ready, they were just all orbitting some other planet.

So today, instead of having a wonderful end to the day with Magpie reading to his brother Bob the Builder Fan, we finished with a meltdown by the youngest Westie, alone in his bed, cying about the horsey ride he never got to give his brother.

We now have this under control, and he seems to be settled in to go peacefully to sleep. We are blessed there, really.

Wheely Wednesday

It’s a fact of life, that the better a habit is for you, the easier it is to break and the harder it is to form.

One week ago, marked my transition from One Day to Day One with regards to cycling to work in Canberra. This put me back onto the path to the great habit I formed in 2011, which saw me sell a car I hadn’t driven in six weeks due to riding a bicycle to get from home to a railway station so I could catch the train to work.

Today’s time

The habit of hopping into a warm cosy car is very easy to slip into given both geography and climatic conditions of Canberra. Lately we’ve been having sub-zero temperatures (metric sub-zero) temperatures, and the hills around here… whoever named Mount Druitt was telling lies, but Mount Stromlo seems aptly named.

So when someone can actually make that leap from doing something once, to doing something again, it is an equally important step in developing a habit. Our lives are shaped far more strongly by our habits rather than what we do once – unless of course our habit is to flit from one once-in-a-lifetime experience to the next.

I’m hoping to track my ride times, and see an improvement that is based not on external factors such as equipment, but on myself only.

Last year, a ride of about 5 km took me about 25 minutes – 5 minutes per km, or 12 km per hour.

This year, a ride of about 12 km is taking me about 1 hour 15 minutes. If I can get back to my fitness level from last year that will come down by more than 10 minutes – giving me an extra 20 minutes a day (I have to come home in the afternoon, too!).

Time I can spend doing something I enjoy – including maybe, “riding further“?


PS. A special shoutout to Westybec. Sucks to hear that while I’m away in Canberra she’s really crook at home with three kids. Hope to hear you’re on the mend soon, dear.


I’m sticking with a short, sharp, to-the-point blog tonight, after rabbitting on about cycling around Canberra all week.

While I am away in Canberra, cycling in the brisk morning air, catching up with relatives, and eating in wonderful places I should write about but don’t quite get to. Meanwhile, my wife is at home with two active children and on top of that one more-than-active child with Autism.

In the midst of all this she has returned to work, committed to weight loss, and helps out with the things she can for the football team. Even though she is at weight watchers while the kids play football.

As she says in her blog entry “glug’s all good for you…

My families’ health issue created so much stress, pain and discomfort I started to think about what I could be facing, what could I inherit? So, what could I do to avoid this. The first answer any doctor tells an overweight patient is to lose weight, lose that unnecessary strain those extra kilos add.

My wife is so very inspirational to me and has been over such a long time. Like all of us, her life has not gone 100% to plan all of the time. She has done some things she has been less than proud of in the moment. But she picks herself up, identifies what is important, and gets on with whatever that happens to be… for a little too long she has not chosen for herself to be “that important thing”, and now that she is, I’m very happy to be along enjoying her success.

M is for Motivation

My cycling is now back on track, because I’ve done it so many times in a row – once!

What that means is, I need to come up with something to turn a concept into a repeated event, into a routine. Because our life might be made interesting by one-off events, but it is shaped by our routines, and I am aiming to be fitter on my 40th birthday than I was on my 39th (ooh, scary).

How will I achieve this?

A common means of effecting human behavior can be summarised with the word “bribery.”

How can I bribe myself? At this stage I’ve made one choice: when I commute to and from work by bike 30 times, I will get myself a new pair of boots.

This seems like it will be a reasonable thing, because it will let me leave one pair of boots at the office so I can have nice shoes at work when I ride my bike to get there. It will also mean by the time I spend the money to do this, riding my bike will become if not a habit, at least a routine. It will also take me at least ten weeks to achieve this goal.

Success is all in the definition.

So far, I’ve succeeded in going from “one day” to “day one“.

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