ImaWestie

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

Tag Archives: ImaWestie

Sleepover Sessions

Something happened right at school last year: Princess P finally has a fried close enough that it’s a long walk to her house. Far enough that a sleepover makes sense. So we’ve had a few back-to-back sleepover sessions these school holidays.

They have come with a few challenges. The concepts of “ambush mum and dad while you’re on the phone to your friend” or “ask if a reciprocal sleepover is ok when mum comes to pick you up” have both raised their head. Some extremely loud play has ensued and questions have been asked about if the accomodation (Princess P’s bedroom) is in a fit state for guests.

We have also, given the weather, had some issues with sunburn. Given our daughters age, that’s as much her own problem as it is the mother of her friend. But if it continues it will be yet another nail in the coffin of sleepovers till at least Easter.

I would love to think these two-way sleepovers achieve two things: both an “escape to normality” for a girl growing up with  disabled brother,  and a “window to her life” for Princess P’s friend – some of both Magpie and BTB Fan’s behaviour have been eye-opening it seems.

On an unrelated note. Damn it was hot today. But at least unlike Tasmania, there don’t seem to be any terrible fires throughout New South Wales.

Compared to what other parts of Australia are going through right now, 34 C is pretty easy.

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Stretching

Lizzie… on one of her cleaner moments!

Today was a bit of a big one at Westie Central. For the first day since I came home from working in Canberra, Bec had to work, leaving me with all three kids all at once. Which of course is a Big Deal for a dad, even though I’m one of the first to say if they are my kids it’s parenting not babysitting.

There has been far too much electronic time happening in our place since Christmas (or even since Magpie’s birthday). Yesterday I thought that Bec’s return to work was a perfect opportunity to do something about that. So the kids were put on notice that once I returned from my own run, they would be coming with me for a run. So I ran my lap of the suburb, did a few chores and we hit the pavement.

There is a very convenient landmark which is almost exactly 1km from our front gate, which is right on the path of a running track. So all of us headed for that landmark (it’s a bridge), me leading he way with BTB Fan and the dogs. Given the dogs had already finished about 8km, Howie was still eager to go while Lizzie was a bit over it. Yet in only a small fraction longer a time than my standard time, there I was at that bridge with BTB Fan and two dogs.

About a minute later up came Princess P.

Several minutes later again… Magpie finally staggered up. Grumbling about not being at home.
My understanding is the run home was quicker by all parties – except me, who at this point was pushing 10km for the day, and had mown the lawn as well…

Hitting the pool

Later we headed off to the pool. Both Magpie and Princess P had been told point blank that they would be requried to swim a lap of the full size outdoor pool, because with all the pool time they have had they have spent none of it improving their swimming. I take responsibility for that, but I will reqiure them to put some effort into improving the situation in my own way, if they don’t fix it themselves.

This was accomodated quite readily by Princess P. But somewhere it seems the message had not filtered all the way into Magpie’s head.

As a result… he was less prepared than I had thought he was.

So I had my first in-pool meltdown. In front of some of his school friends, as well as a lifeguard…. Which ended with him swimming his first ever lap of the Olympic pool, back-stroke. Well done mate! At which point I told him that he needed to do it “freestyle” (meaing “front crawl“), and we had another meltdown. In the pool. But again, I perservered, and he swum the lap in the stroke I expected him to use, albeit freaking out and grabbing the lane rope every three to ten strokes.

At the end of it all, he was glad he’d done it, though.

Later, I went through much the same with my littlest Westie, “swimming” (with me supporting his hips) two lengths of the outdoor childrens pool.

Not the best trip to the pool for us. We had been going so well before Christmas, too, but with our routine broken… it was as good an opportunity to establish the routine I need these kids to follow, if they want me to take them to the pool every day while it’s hot and I’m not working.

Stretching our boundaries will bring some growth. One way or another.

Last man standing

Work is leaving me feeling a bit like this cat at the moment. The good news is, it will be over tomorrow.

Final Countdown

Three days left in Canberra.
Well, two nights, two days.

My to-do list is pretty slim. The highest priority is “seek gainful employment beyond Christmas day.” That’s a pretty short list, with a few additional – quite optional! – items that may attempt to interfere with that main one item.

I am quite happy though that I have now completed a qualification, in addition to my contracting experience I am finishing 2012 a far more marketable product than I was at the start of the year.

A busy month!

My start to December is only a preview of what is to come. The rest of this week remains busy for me, both at work, and with Magpie due to be presented with an academic award tomorrow before celebrating his birthday on Friday. I will then have one more week of work before rapping up for the year, and heading home in time for my wife’s birthday on Christmas Eve.

We all know what happens on the 25th, of course!

Given our start to 2013, it may well be that we are hitting the road between Christmas and New Year – but that so far is still a long way away, so I’m not aiming to forecast that far ahead. And somewhere in all of this, I need to line up work for 2013 – either more of what I am already doing, or “opportunities with an alternative employer” as some might say.

But before that, I have a really busy day tomorrow – work in the morning, part of a training course in the mid afternoon, then back to work from 5pm “until it’s finished” hopefully again before midnight (but quite possibly, not). So for tonight, it’s a short post about how busy I think I’m going to be from now until we start 2013.

Twice in nine months

This weekend for the second time since March 2012, I have stayed in Canberra for the weekend, rather than return home to Sydney. And a bit like last weekend, it’s not like I made that fantastic a use of my time here in Canberra.

This time, my time was devoted to work. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from early afternoon through to the (very?) late evening, I worked. Which just at the moment is a Good Thing, but I’m glad it doesn’t happen too often.

As it so happened, the work itself was quite good: I participated in quite a significant piece of work in not too junior a role, having a real say in the work other people were doing and helping it stay on track. Like with many things, the second time around was quite simple compared to the first, with the added benefit in that I was able to set things up the way that worked for me.

This is still leaving me though, between a rock and a hard place, with what I will be doing with myself come mid January. It seems my work has plenty left to do, but possibly, they wish there was more money on hand than there actually is to get it done. I’m hoping this can work to my benefit.

I’m also hoping that if I do retain my current role, I will be working as few weekends in 2013 as I did in 2012, because my kids are more important than anything else.

In the Capital for the weekend

This weekend, work is a Bit Busy. Of course, there is a possibility that it could be less busy if they were better organised… but they refuse to listen to me, so well they are doomed to be busy 😉

Given my current employment situation, I have taken the opportunity to maximise my immediate earning possibilities. This is of course at the cost of my Spending Time with My Family Opportunities. It is a risk but one I am forced right now to make.

When I make hard decisions like this, I much prefer to find that my time is spent well and productively, achieving As Much As Possible. However, tonight I found that my time was not used at all for what was intended for me to do. At one point it seemed as though I had simply been delayed about four hours in leaving Canberra for my trip home. Instead, it ended up that I was able to hang around in isolation and get some preparatory work done for the coming weekend.

I am very hopeful that the mornings coming will be great, and I will be able to enjoy Canberra, before heading to the office in the mid afternoon. I hope your coming weekend is a calm before the storm that is the Festive Season.

Autism. Aspergers. You tell me the difference?

It’s been coming for some time now. DSM-IV is to be replaced, by DSM-V.

Along with the deprecation of the term “retarded” as a description of intellectual capability, so to will “Aspergers” be deprecated, to become simply a superfluous means of describing a person on the Autism spectrum. For those lining up to paediatricians to have children either born already or yet to be born, seen and assessed, labelled for the convenience of the education system, this represents a simplification of a complicated ecology of service providers.

However, for those who have grown up over the last forty or so years, and the parents of those who are recently diagnosed… being Aspergian is as important (or more important?) than being male or female, asian, african-american, indigenous or white, athiest, christian or wiccan.

Far be it from me to have too much opinion here, because my own experience is as a parent having a son be diagnosed in an inconsistent manner, clearly told “well for want of a distinct diagnosis lets use PDD-NOS – it’s vague enough to cover anything.” That made way for “Classic Autism” which seemed quite appropriate at the time, however, some of the descriptors for Classic Autism are tied to very specific moments in the persons life.

Lately, Aspergers seems to have become a highly visible description for a set of behaviours and preferences. I wonder, if this description loses official status and predominance… how many people would line up to be diagnosed on the Autism spectrum as an adult?

Are you effected by this change? Do you feel strongly about it? I’d be overjoyed to hear your opinion.

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!

Thank God I’m a (long-haired) Country Boy

Here in Australia, dogs are about as useful as at least three people on almost any farm which relies on animals rather than some sort of crop. My rural upbringing is why my dogs of choice are somewhere between knee and waist high – at the moment we have a border collie, as well as a border collie cross.

This photo shows me at about 16 years of age. Apparently that’s the prime of our life, right?

Westie sometime around 1986 to 88

My hair is shorter, my glasses smaller, but most people would easily recognise me as still the same guy.

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