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

Tag Archives: reading

Those Ragged Bloody Heroes

Those Ragged Bloody Heroes – Peter Brune – cover image from Angus and Robertson website

Having spent”long enough” wearing the spotty green uniform of the Australian Army Reserve, when it comes to non fiction books those with an Australian millitary theme really catch my attention.

Peter Brune has done a fantastic job of passing on the key moments of the Kokoda campaign, during which the Japanese forces put Australia under direct threat.

It is a while since I bought this book, and I have only read it a couple of times, but it is written with a great style that retained my focus throughout. For me, at the time, that was a major accomplishment.

Since leaving the Army Reserve, my non fiction reading has turned toward parenting, raising children, including school and education, and reading about a wide range of special needs especially in the area of language and autism. My reading is also much more likely to be “off a screen” than it was in the 1990’s, so my book collection very abruptly stopped growing not long after our daughter came along. I’m not dissapointed, though.


The Lost Continent

Book cover art thanks to Wikimedia

Sometime in 1996 or so, it was all over Usenet: Terry Pratchett was writing a novel, set in the mythical land of Fourecks. And so a couple of years later, with much fanfare, it was written, and published, and launched – here in Australia.

Being massive fantasy fiction geeks, my wife and I thought this was fantastic. Our favorite author, writing about a fantasy version of the country where we live. I was working in the Sydney CBD at the time, and found that Pterry himself would be attending a book signing at a major bookstore.

So, off I set one “lunch-time” (assuming a public servants definition of lunch-time being some flexible time between about 10:30 am and 3:30 pm), to line up, buy a book, and get it signed. I got there, just at the beginning of my lunch “hour,” to line up for – well it can’t have been more than 55 minutes or so, given I was only on my lunch break for one hour – as long as it took – to get The Author to sign this magnificent work of fiction.

Nullus sanguine — Terry Pratchett

Three hours, to get the book signed in about two minutes.


Then I get home, give Bec the book and she says… “but it’s hardcover?”

The things we do for love, and it gets no recognition.

What’s so great about that, anyway?

It is seen somewhat as a baseline to intellect: What is your favorite book?

My first ever favorite book. And it’s still great!

My favorite book, along with my favorite movie and television show, have altered dramatically through the years. I still remember my first ever favorite book, and I’m happy to say that my children have enoyed it, too: Go, Dog, Go! by P D Eastman.

It is a great book. A ripping read. With a fantastic vocabulary that helps to give beginning readers confidence. I loved the book as a kid, and my kids loved it as they learned to read. For my youngest, this is even more special, because at the same time as he was learning to read, he was learning to speak.

I don’t know what makes a book your favorite, but an emotional connection to moments in our lives, seem like quite a good reason to me, for a book to be my favorite. This book to me, triggers memories of being cared for by my extended family while my mother recouperated from a motor vehicle accident. This coincided with my commencement in school, and our moving to a new house – a house which was ultra moddern, clean and new, compared to the one we had moved out of. The new house had so many clever tricks and secrets which I’m not sure how far I should trust my own memory with. Thirty years later, it was one of a very small number of books I looked forward to reading to my own children.

There have been many books I have read and enjoyed in the last thrity five years. But this one wil be my favorite hopefully to the time I am reading it to my grandchildren, and beyond.

Welcome to November: the 30 day challenge

Thanks to know your meme, I’m going to head down a 30 day challenge for November. The list of topics provided there is:

Day 01 — your favorite song
Day 02 — your favorite movie
Day 03 — your favorite television program
Day 04 — your favorite book
Day 05 — your favorite quote
Day 06 — whatever tickles your fancy
Day 07 — a photo that makes you happy
Day 08 — a photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 09 — a photo you took
Day 10 — a photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11 — a photo of you taken recently
Day 12 — whatever tickles your fancy
Day 13 — a fictional book
Day 14 — a non-fictional book
Day 15 — a fanfic
Day 16 — a song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 — an art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
Day 18 — whatever tickles your fancy
Day 19 — a talent of yours
Day 20 — a hobby of yours
Day 21 — a recipe
Day 22 — a website
Day 23 — a youtube video
Day 24 — whatever tickles your fancy
Day 25 — your day, in great detail
Day 26 — your week, in great detail
Day 27 — this month, in great detail
Day 28 — this year, in great detail
Day 29 — hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 — whatever tickles your fancy

I’m rather annoyed that I am turning to sources of inspiration such as this to provide me with topics to write about, however, I am going to feel free to substitute my own thoughts at random as they present themselves. Indeed, some of those topics above – not just the topics, but also the sequence – seem to jump out at me as being boring as all hell. A whole month worth of topics is quite an effort to attempt to list, given such a generic term of reference. My inspirations for blogging stems much more from time spent with my own family, rather than time spent away from home, at work in Canberra. See you next month!

More success!

Here I am at post number 140. Quite a few of those were directly copied from a now closed community.

And I now have 50 followers here on my blog on WordPress.
Thanks to each of you for following me! I’d love to see you drop along to my Facebook page or my Twitter feed if you aren’t already “liking” of “following” me on each of those. I’d also love to hear from more of you about what you think I could post about. I know some of you invite guest bloggers, or ask your followers to pose questions to be answered on a blog post, I’d be happy to hear any of your questions, or requests for a guest blog post – particularly if you would like to blog about your definition of “success”.

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:

ΒΆ 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.


Feedback… it’s not good enough

Feedback is an interesting activity.

People on the recieving end can feel very nervous about feedback.

This can make the people providing it very apprehensive.

And parents can often be quite defensive about the feedback given to their children, in the form of a report.


Having come to the end of a school term (or semester, or something), it is school report time. The first thing I will say is, my kids have done fantastic work, and the school is doing quite a good job of providing them with work that challenges my three kids at a pretty reasonable level.

They are also somewhat demanding about their expectations, in terms of tasks such as writing and mathmatics.

So if they are that demanding in their standards for written work. Why have they been so bad at providing feedback?

Where results range from “Outstanding” to “Limited“, for any child who is not “outstandingthen any comment should include “results could be improved by…” or “needs to work on…” Instead, we have three reports from three different teachers signed by two difference Assistant Principles, which say nothing except what our children can do. Sorry, I actually need to know what my kids can’t do but should be able to do, a lot more than I need to know what they can do.

This applies to all my children. To my daughter, to my middle son, and my son who has Autism. Although, with an ILP in place, the support teacher has the most concrete assessment of what our Autistic son is doing, and what still needs to be worked on.


To all the Westie kids. Good work so far this year. Here’s hoping you keep hard at it, and, when we go and talk to your teachers, they can actually tell us what you need to do to improve – rather than what you would have to stop doing to achieve a poorer report at the end of the year.

Westie Central – Success Lives Here!

Some things happen, and we don’t notice till after the event.

While others are in our face and we see them happening and improving, bit by bit, day by day.
Reading and counting (or possibly even “all things numbers“) are pretty much in the second category around here. Shown by ever increasing ability and willingness to count all sorts of things, and read “anything and everything.

More and more though, we are getting clear signals of “success” as the year progresses. We’re measuring it a bit differently to a lot of parents with Kindergarten aged kids.

When the other two were growing up, if anyone told me I would celebrate the word “No!” coming out of my childs mouth, I would have had to pick myself up off the floor. Yet this word is one clear symptom of “success” around here.

Another clear sign is our son recieving an award from school, “Worker of the Week“, for “Sitting longer during reading group.”

So to the number 1 Bob the Builder Fan in Westie Central. Well done, mate – Mum, Dad, Princess P and Magpie are all proud of you and so happy that all the hard work you are doing is showing through so much.

Long Time No Post

Well it doesn’t take too much to work out i haven’t been writing much lately.

I’d like there to be at least an excuse, or even better a reason – but no, I’ll have to come clean and admit i just haven’t made writing a priority like i had planned to.

Since my last blog, i have now been to New Delhi in an effort to gain some certifications. I’ll leave myself a bit of scope to write more later – flying with Air Malasia, the confronting nature of poverty in New Delhi, and studying with Koenig Solutions.

While the Autism Marathon continues, I’m very happy to point to success – we all attended football presentation and there was nothing which happened to make that a bad idea. Regardless of my early concerns, my son is tackling reading with grate enthusiasm, and is currently loving Suess classics such as “The Diggingest Dog” and “Go, Dog, Go”. Family life presents us with the same type of challenges i recall from my own childhood, and does not seem vastly different to what I have watched my brothers going through with their own children.

So, red-faced and feeling sheepish, all I can suggest is I’ve written again today. And I’ll be aiming to do more, soon!

Sounds like “Progress”

Some of my recurring themes around here are “define your on success” and the importance of monitoring, reviewing and evaluating if you ever want to reach that success.

Not long ago I posted about my concerns that my son was going to have so much trouble learning to read, he has now found himself a favourite book – “When I’m feeling SAD” by Trace Moroney.

So, between his book about a rabbit learning what it means to feel sad, that it’s OK to feel sad, and some things we can do to move on from feeling sad, and the flash-cards I was using two years ago with Magpie, and four years ago with Princess P, we seem to be getting somewhere. At current count, about 20 words of three letters or less that he can not only read from the flash-cards, but also pick out of a book that’s really laid out to be read to a child, rather than read by a child. And sometimes, we can even find the same words in other books, too… like Go, Dog, Go! or other Suess classics.


So in all, a pretty darn good effort for a lad who’s learning to say some of these words at the same time he’s learning to read them. Well done buddy!

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