Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Riding a bike is hard work

It sure can be frustrating when you are learning to ride a bike. Braeden is expressing himself in true toddler fashion.

Luckily, he has a big brother to help him!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things I love today

I love how Ryley looks into my eyes before he falls asleep and we smile our secret smile. His means "goodnight, I love you Mum" and mine means "you will always be perfect in my eyes, I love you so much".

I love how Braeden saw the moon in the sky and exclaimed excitedly: "Ball Ball!" I carefully explained it was the moon and then he started saying "Mooooon". He sat and watched it for half an hour, every so often muttering "ball ball" "Mooooooon". You could almost see his thoughts.

I love how Ryley tries so hard to help me. Sometimes his body doesn't work and he gets so frustrated and upset. I wish I had more time and patience sometimes. He never gives up. I shouldn't either.

I love how Braeden wraps one arm around Ryley in the bath and pulls him close so he can pour water over his head. Ryley just sits there not having a single seizure with a bemused smile on his face. When Braeden is finished he kisses Ryley on the forehead and lets him go, all while pouring water over his own head. Then he points to the shampoo as if to say "now you can wash our hair Mum".

It truly is the little things, these tiny moments in time...this is what matters.

Our garden DOES grow!

We are a bit excited at the moment because we are actually able to eat some of the vegies we have grown ourselves! We have been eating cauliflower, broad beans and silverbeet and I have been adding chives to my salads! Our strawberries are starting to fruit as well!
I don't think we ever thought we could actually grow anything good enough to eat. But it seems we can!
Braeden loves helping me weed and is more than happy to sample the broad beans raw (yuck!).

We have had a very busy weekend and are all absolutely exhausted. We have started the countdown to christmas and have something on every single weekend until christmas *sigh*. How are we ever going to get our house finished? At least the weather is starting to warm a little now and the sunshine is just beautiful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do we forget about Fathers?

Today, I went to a conference in Melbourne on 'Including Fathers'. Parts of it were very interesting, and parts were, well...let's just say thought-provoking.

Over the past 10 years or so there has been an emerging trend in society. The traditional nuclear family rarely exists, and there has been a social shift away from the notion that the father is the 'head' of the household. Dads are now able to take paternal leave either when a child is born, if a child is sick, or most importantly, if they have a child with a disability that they need to care for. More Dads are choosing to stay at home while their wives work, and this is challenging everything we know about child development and family functioning.

So what do we know about Dads and how they influence a child's development?
Well, to be honest, we know a lot more now than we did before. There are a multitude of studies that have all confirmed that the way a father interacts with their child has a huge impact on their development, among other things.
Most people, when they cast their minds back to their own perception of their father when they were growing up, will tell you that their fathers worked and Mum stayed home.
I can tell you from my own experience, that indeed, my own father worked, came home, went out to 'train', ate with us, then went into his study, or went to a meeting. He often did help me with my homework in the later secondary school years, which was at the expense of his own work. Yet despite this apparent 'absentee' father that I had, I still remember a father that was always there when I needed him.

My husband, is a very different father. We share the parenting role. Each of us have clear roles and responsibilities, but at the end of the day we make joint decisions about how we want to raise our children. This doesn't take away from the fact that David works full-time, and up until this year played footy, and he often works extra or works late. But I am not the one that is therefore supposed to raise the children and do all the chores around the house. We share all of that responsibility. David is a very "hands on" Dad. But, I do think that this difference is not necessarily due to the evolution of the role of the father, in fact, I think it has to do with having a child with a disability. I will explore this further on.

What we know now is that, particularly with boys, if a father doesn't engage his children, for example, play with them every day, then it will cause long term behavioural and social emotional difficulties and problems. How so?
The example that was given today was based on a study that is currently still being undertaken. It was based on the notion of 'rough and tumble play' and how important that is in a young child's life. While today the focus was on fathers engaging in this play, I would like to point out that I believe that this sort of play is just as important for mothers to engage in.
So, rough and tumble playtime teaches both parent and child how to physically interact without becoming violent. It teaches turn taking, and it encourages parents to get down to their child's level and have fun and take notice of their child. Sometimes the parent wins, sometimes the child wins. It encourages eye contact, and often gives an opportunity for conversations to happen naturally between a father and their child.
These kind of building blocks need to start when a child is still a baby. Clearly, you wouldn't be engaging in a rough play, but getting down to the child's level, sharing mutual gaze, and enjoying your child is what builds long term relationships with your children, and instills in them the confidence that their needs will be met emotionally.

Many times throughout the presentation, I wondered how this would apply to families who have a child with a disability. And I think that the role of the father needs to be supported EVEN MORE.
There is no doubt that Early Childhood Intervention Services, Specialist Medical Services, Maternal Child and Health Centres are all Mother friendly places. But what about the fathers? How are they empowered and made to feel like they are important in their child's life?

I think back to our experience. I made sure that I always told David about any therapies we were doing. I made sure he came to some of our therapy sessions. He came to as many doctors appointments as he could (he still does). I have tried to make sure that David has always felt as equal as me, despite the fact that he works during the day, which is when all EI services have their appointments avaliable.
We have always had to adapt everything for Ryley. So rough and tumble play definitely has always happened, it has just always been adapted to suit Ryley's needs. With Braeden, it is a different ball game. He just loves wrestling and tickling, and it can be a little rougher.

Fathers often get overlooked when they have a child with a disability. There are not many options for Dads to talk with other Dads about what it is like living with a child who has a disability. So more often than not, Dads use work as a way of escaping their reality. This, then often contributes to marital breakdown, and indeed the rates of divorce in families who have a child with a disability are 1 in 2. Dads need support too. They need to be able to catch up with other blokes, have a beer, and talk about things. But men aren't always so good at talking about their feelings!

So what do we do?
We know that fathers influence their children in terms of their behaviour and social and emotional regulation. We know that fathers traditionally have had a very different role in terms of parenting, but that this is changing to include fathers as being just as important as mothers.
We know that fathers who have a child with a disability are always overlooked, and this can disempower them and make them feel as though they have no role to play.

I'm not sure that there is an easy solution. Communication between couples is absolutely paramount. Even before having a baby, couples need to be educated on what kind of an impact being a parent will have on their lives. Support for fathers who have a child with a disability needs to be addressed, and it is the responsibility of Early Childhood Intervention Services to think outside the square and ensure that fathers are being empowered as well as the mothers.

One of my best friends commented to me the other day that David wasn't like any of the other husbands in our circle of friends. I acknowledged that, but also suggested that perhaps it is because both David and I have always had to be Ryley's arms and legs. We have always had to help him participate in things that other people take for granted. David is a father who is also a Carer. Just like I am a mother who is also a Carer. It's just a different role that he has to play.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.

Would love to hear peoples thoughts on the role of fathers, particularly in regards to fathers who have a child with a disability.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So the sun CAN shine!

Today was a beautiful Spring day here in Ballarat. There was a soft breeze and blue sky..and wait for it...ACTUAL SUNSHINE!!
I can't tell you how nice it was to open up the house and do my 4 loads of washing that were waiting to be done!
Not to mention being able to walk around the Lake and then play all afternoon with my boys outside.

It is meant to be nice all week! YAY! Hopefully I can get some more painting done at night so we can get this house finished. I would love to have carpet and tiles laid before Santa arrives. Probably wishful thinking, but a girl can only dream!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Everyone loves a bit of Tupperware...

Today we had our first fundraising event for the Ballarat Conference.
It was a Tupperware party!
So basically we had to make a certain amount of sales and then we would get a large amount of Tupperware that we can raffle off at another time!
Well I can proudly say that we made that quota (and it is a big quota just quietly) thanks to all my fabulous friends, family, neighbours and workmates.
So to them I say a HUGE THANKYOU! It is just so nice to know that so many people care about Ryley and want to support us and the conference we are holding in two years time. It has definately boosted out confidence in our community and we are CERTAIN that we will be able to raise enough funds to be able to have the special things that we want to have.
I can't properly put into words what it means to have all the support that we do.
We truly are blessed to have such a wide and close circle of people that surround us.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Just 'cos

My two beautiful boys. How I love them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Again, our household has been sick.
I am so bloody over it. It started off with me this time. Somehow, somewhere, I picked up a gastro bug. It seems to have bypassed the kids (Lord knows how) and now David has got it (he is also away in Warrnambool working, so he is feeling pretty sorry for himself at the moment).

Both Braeden and Ryley have had/got conjunctivitis (or 'pink-eye' as the US readers will know it as). Last Thursday, Braeden came home with a message from his workers that they thought he might have it. He just looked really tired to us. By Monday his eyes were yucky and he was very miserable. Not helped by the fact that his Mum was doubled over in pain and barely able to move from the bathroom floor (times like this you really notice the fact that you have no-one to help).
Today is the first day he has been better and I have sent him to daycare in the hope he makes it through the day.

Ryley, however, is still not quite ok again. His eyes gunked up on Tuesday so he has been stuck at home, much to his annoyance. They are a lot better today, so I am keeping him home as a precaution really. Hopefully tomorrow he can go back to school.
So I am utterly exhausted. My throat is sore and my body feels like lead. I was up all night last night because Ryley couldn't sleep and Braeden wanted feeds. But, I will be ok. Just need my boys to get better and then I can get some rest!

Maybe it's the cold weather? The rain? Normally at this time of the year it is warmer. I can air the house out more. At the moment it is just freezing. Like the middle of winter freezing.
I hope we get some warm sunny days soon.

I promise to get back to blogging this week. I haven't had a moment spare to even check my emails.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Those damn heartstrings

Hate it when they get pulled.

I have had a really full on and busy week at work this week so I have been feeling a bit tired and drained. Not to mention the fact that Braeden woke every 1/2 hour last night because he was either cold or wanted a feed, or was having bad dreams (so this is, therefore, my excuse for being..erm..a little emotional).

We have a morning routine where we all say our good byes to each other before the bus comes to get Ryley. He is far too grown up now to have Mum's kisses in front of his bus friends, and so this morning was no different. We all waved goodbye and Braeden and I jumped in the car. A bit further up the road we managed to pull up next to the bus and we could see this little Ryley face looking at us from out of the big bus. I waved and waved but he just pressed his face up hard up against the glass until we lost sight of him.
I couldn't help it.
Some tears slipped out.
No matter how many times I see him on the bus, he still looks far too tiny to be on it without me. I just wanted to chase that bus down and scoop him up and cuddle him.
'Cept I knew he would have HATED that.
And he loves being on the big bus with his friends.

So I then dropped Braeden off at daycare.
And he clung to me like a koala.
He didn't want his Mumma to go anywhere thankyou very much. He looked up at me with his sad solemn eyes and silently pleaded with me to stay and play with him.

Some days, those kids of mine just break my heart, despite knowing that they don't really need me there. They just know how to pull on my heart strings.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring

I have been slack lately in terms of my blogging...sorry 'bout that. Life just gets in the way sometimes! In between having my sister and her daughter Talia staying, David working away, me working and the start of daylight savings, I have just had no time! Plus we have been very busy trying to get this house painted and the outdoor entertaining area done while keeping the boys amused...AAARRGH!!
So everything to do with computer stuff has been neglected.
As I type this, I am shivering. For some reason we have another cold snap despite it being Springtime. I think today we had a forecast of 10 degrees. Very below average for this time of year. Despite it being so cold, there has been lots of rain, which is just wonderful! We have been in a drought here in Ballarat for years and years, so to see our Lake starting to fill again and plants growing (and our tank overflowing!!) is just fabulous.
Ryley hates it when it is cold and raining though, it means he can't go outside and he HATES that. Braeden will happily find things to play with (which includes a sudden new found teddy bear friend), and will dance away to the Wiggles all afternoon. Not Ryley though. He has been pacing from the front window to the back window, checking to see if it is STILL wet and cold.
Yes Ryley, I'm afraid it is.
I am hanging out for some sunshine though. Just a bit of warmth would be good!


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