Sunday 29 January 2012

ECHO, echo, echo, echo......

My eldest son has autism.

If you know, or have lived with, someone with autism you would know that sometimes it can be challenging to say the least. Caring for a child with special needs can be, not only exhausting, but heartbreaking and madly frustrating too. I love my son more than words can possibly express, but there are times when I would love just to be able to pack him away in a cupboard. Not permanently of course! Just long enough for me to refresh, recharge and regroup.

As the autism spectrum is so huge, no two autistic children are the same. Even siblings with autism can be totally unlike in their difficulties. My son looks like a entirely 'normal' child from the outside, as he talks, he plays, he gives eye contact and is affectionate. Mostly he has trouble with anxiety, social interaction, has sensory sensitivities, and is quite delayed in his gross motor skills.

He also has little quirks, little oddities if you like. They tend to change from time to he gets older he stops doing some things and begins doing others. For example, he used to flap his hands and twiddle his fingers when he got stressed or excited. He also used to sniff every mouthful of food before he ate it, not willing to eat anything if he didn't like or approve of the smell. He no longer does either of those things (except for the occasional smelling of food if he is trying something new), but instead he jumps! He jumps up and down on the spot when he's learning and concentrating (as it helps him to regulate and focus), and he jumps when he's excited and happy. He will, no doubt, grow out of that too.

The latest little quirk started a week or so ago, and I have to say that I find this one quite fascinating! He has started talking with an echo! A typical question from Master 6 now sounds something like this:

"Mum, can I have something to eat (eat,eat,eat)?"
"Where are my shorts (shorts, shorts)?"

The first day I began hearing the echo, I decided to ask him why he was doing it, but he couldn't tell me. He just said he didn't know. Obviously he must like the sound of it. And I can't blame's kind of catchy! In an annoying kind of way.

Just like the other 'things', we don't draw attention to it. We just ignore it, and in time, it will probably occur less and less, until it stops completely. Then we'll hold our breath while we discover what comes next.

I have to treat each day as an adventure.....a chance to learn more about this unique being my husband and I brought into the world, and more about myself and the strength within. I always say, with a smile, that I believe my son was put on this earth to teach me patience.....

                          .......and he's DAMN good at what he does!

Thursday 26 January 2012

The Heart Of A Nation

Happy Australia Day!

Celebrating Australia Day can mean so many different things to different people. This wide brown land of ours has numerous cultures calling it home, and thus there are so many diverse interpretations of what makes a proud Australian. 

For some, it is the obsession with Aussie Rules Football. The roaring of the crowd as muscle bound athletes chase the oval ball around the field.
For others, it is cherishing the good old Aussie BBQ, sharing a beer with friends and family.
It is loving meat pies, and driving a Ford or a Holden.

For me, it incorporates all of those things, but it also runs a lot deeper.

It is delighting in our incredibly unique wildlife, most of which is found nowhere else in the world, and avidly protecting it.
It is treasuring our astonishing landmarks, such as Uluru, The Twelve Apostles and The Great Barrier Reef, just to name a few. 
It is revelling in the vast red, sandy deserts and startlingly white sandy beaches.

It is lending a hand and helping a mate, either in times of disaster, or just helping
next door build their patio. 
It is identifying with the great Aussie battler, working hard to make a living.
It is embracing The Melbourne Cup, the AFL Grand final, The Australian Open tennis, The Formula One Grand Prix, as well as others.
It is loving your pets as family.
It is sticking together.
It is accepting people for who they are.
It is Indigenous Australians.
It is Weetbix, Vegemite and Bush Tucker.
It is our lingo.
It is so much more.

Today is the day for rejoicing in our beautiful country, and our Aussie way of life. I feel so blessed and truly grateful to my ancestors, for choosing long ago, to travel huge distances and come an unknown land to build a new life. I am so lucky to have been born in such an amazing place, and to now be raising my own family here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

So tell me, what does Australia Day mean to you?

Sunday 22 January 2012


I'm such a sook.

For the last month (almost) we have been fostering a little female dog, a Maltese cross, and today she went to her forever home. I have been bawling on and off since I got the phone call that they loved her and wanted to keep her. Don't get me wrong, I am so happy that a lovely couple decided that she was perfect for them, and I'm not at all surprised! After all, she is completely adorable! But it is a real bitter-sweet moment for me, as it is really sad to say goodbye to this lovable little girl who wormed her way into our hearts in only a matter of minutes.

This was our first foster....of pets that is. I've been a wildlife foster carer for over five years, but only just recently decided to start fostering dogs as well. There are so many beautiful dogs and cats that have been abandoned in pounds all over the country, and they deserve a second chance to find their forever home. We decided that we have enough room (and love!) for one more, until they find that special person and place, so, the day before she was due to be euthanased, a little ball of fluff named Poppy came home with me.

She was desperate for a bath as she stank to high heaven after being at the pound. I was determined she wasn't coming inside until she'd had one, so it was the first thing we did. Although she wasn't entirely impressed, she allowed me to clean her up so we could start getting to know each other.

It didn't take her long at all to become a part of the family. She followed me around constantly and just plopped herself at my feet, wherever I was. For the first few days, with not being accustomed to having a little shadow, I was constantly tripping over her! Soon, I learnt to look down before I took a step, and she learnt to move when she heard me get up! Who said you can't teach old dogs new tricks?

The boys took to her immediately and she loved their cuddles and being included in their games. She wasn't so sure about the dress ups, or being made to dance on two legs, but she allowed them to do what they wanted, as long as they were gentle. She just made a point of taking regular breaks!

She even enjoyed lying down having a read with my youngest!

Fostering Poppy has been such a wonderful experience, and I feel like I'm a better person for it. True, it is hard to say goodbye, I don't deny that. However, what is harder to for me to comprehend, is the amount of beautiful, adoptable animals being put down every week because they don't have anyone to love them. That just doesn't make sense to me. Why would you buy animals from a pet shop when there are so many in shelters just waiting for a home?

How Poppy came to be in the pound in the first place is beyond me, but I'm so glad I was able to make a difference in her life. One of my favourite sayings is this:

          'Saving one dog may not change the world, but the world changes for that one dog'.

Incredibly true.

 So goodbye, my gorgeous little Poppy. May the rest of your life be filled with love, walks and cuddles, as you deserve nothing less. I may be crying, but I'm smiling through my tears, at the thought of you being happy for the rest of your furry little life.

Farewell my sweet ♥

Friday 20 January 2012

Hair Wonder

I took my boys to have their very overdue haircuts yesterday morning. I've always found going to have their hair cut a chore, thus the reason for it being very overdue. It is nothing like having my own hair done. I am lucky to have an amazing hairdresser, who also just happens to be my best friend, so having my locks lovingly tended to is also a wonderful chance to catch up! So many laughs over a cuppa, colour, and scalp massage! I would gladly take the boys to see my gorgeous girl too, was it not for the fact that she is some distance away, and always fully booked. Not a problem if I could plan ahead! Usually though, when I do end up taking my boys, it's a last minute decision out of desperation because their hair is completely out of control!

Luckily I have found a man over at the local shopping centre who does a really good job. Typical male barber....wonderful at 'short, back and sides'. I like my boys to have a short, spiky style, and he does it brilliantly. I don't have to make an appointment either, which really suits disorganised me to a tee! We just walk in and wait if we have to, but we've never had to wait long.

So, I'm sitting there waiting for the haircuts to be over, my mind on all the things that I had planned to get done, when I noticed my son surveying himself in the mirror. It was very subtle at first, just turning his head this way and that, checking himself out. Slowly, as he started changing facial expressions, he became completely absorbed, as if there was no one else in the room. I watched with wonder as he cheekily fluttered his eyebrows up and down and few times, then frowned before breaking into a dazzling smile. He wiggled his nose, tried wiggling his ears and then tried to twist and scrunch his beautiful face into something unrecognisable.

So rarely do I see this quiet, unspoken, side of my son. He is seldom peaceful even when he's asleep, as the sensory and anxiety issues associated with his autism means he frequently grinds his teeth. Plus, it is fairly uncommon for him to sit still long enough to genuinely study his reflection like he did.

I feel absolutely blessed to have witnessed such a rare moment. What I considered to be a chore, ended up being the highlight of my day. You hear all the time that it is the little things that mean the most, and the swelling of my heart at the time tells me that it is true. Those moments are so fleeting, and I will hold this memory dear for a lifetime.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Blog Fear

So, I did it! I wrote my first blog!

I was so terrified I could barely breathe while clicking on the bright orange ("danger, danger") publish button. I thought to myself, "Am I really doing this? I must be mad?"

I sit waiting nervously, chewing fingernails, while hubby reads it and then breathe a huge sigh of relief when he declares he likes it. Phew! First hurdle cleared!

Slowly then, the reviews from friends and family start coming in, and every comment was more positive than the last! Ok, now I'm starting to relax a little and thinking "Wow, maybe this is actually possible!"

Awaking the next morning, I start getting more and more excited about the whole new world that is opening its doors for me and inviting me in. Could this be real? I'm on such a high I feel like singing...and I do! Loudly! Ignoring the protests from my boys, I belt out renditions of some of my favourite songs whilst getting stuck into the housework I had slightly neglected over the last day or so.

But a little while later as I'm hanging out my washing, my mind starts wandering. I start thinking of what my next post might be about, and then the fear hits me! It crawls up my back from the base of my spine and I come back to earth with a thud. What if that's it? What if I've made this huge fuss about starting a blog and I'm never able to write another post? Oh my God....what if I'm a one hit blogger? I start to feel sick and beads of sweat break out on my forehead. The humiliation! How could I ever face people again? Maybe I should just walk away now before I make an even bigger fool of myself....

It's amazing how trying something new can put the fear of God into you. The fear of the unknown can be terrifying! But you have to ask yourself, is it the fear of failure....or the fear of success? Perhaps both.

Once I get a handle on the hysteria and allow myself to calm down (a cup of tea always helps), I start to see things in a different light. So what if I never write another post? Is it really that terrible? Would people really think that badly of me? At least I tried! Getting the courage to begin in the first place is quite often half the battle!

I'm going to go down this road and see where it takes me. If I fail, then I know this particular path wasn't for me, but I won't know if I don't give it a chance.

As it was said in an old Chinese Proverb, "The journey is the reward".

And of course, crisis written!

Sunday 15 January 2012

Merry Christmas.....or not?

Yesterday was the day that the Christmas tree came down. It had to come down sometime, right? Yet every year when that day draws near I find myself feeling wistful, as if a really special part of my life is over. Normally that would hardly be surprising, as that is exactly what Christmas is.....a really special time with family and friends. But this Christmas was really different for me.

I'm not talking about the actual day itself, or even Christmas Eve, as both days were spent with our most near and dear. Sure, we certainly could have done without the freakish storms that hit mid afternoon Christmas Day and pelted my sister in law's house with tennis ball sized hail stones that broke windows, and left my husbands car with three cracks in the windscreen, and panels that resembled bubble wrap. I am referring to the weeks leading up to the 'big day' that saw me become a lesser version of myself.

As a general rule, I am a big lover of Christmas! Especially since having children. Sentimentality always gets the better of me, and nothing makes me happier than experiencing the excitement with my boys as we count down the days on the advent calendar. Even the hoards of people at the shopping centres and the countless hours of researching, shopping and wrapping don't get the better of my Christmas spirit. Normally.

I'm not sure what happened this time, but I couldn't wait for it to be over. So many times in the weeks prior I was so close to tears, just trying to get my head around all the things that still had to be done and trying to find the time to do it all, and push through the physical and mental exhaustion I was feeling.

Admittedly, I had a lot more going on than previous years, so perhaps I shouldn't be quite so hard on myself. For the first time I was the Treasurer for my son's kindergarten and the end of the kinder year was a busy time with the audit, Annual General Meeting and having to document the figures for the year. Also, my oldest son was having additional hours of therapy for his autism, as it was the last chance before he starts school this year, so it meant more running around from kinder to appointments, so many times a week. Add to that, my wildlife caring (which is one of the few things I do for myself), that involves collecting fresh leaves everyday for the older possums in care and syringe feeds for the babies. I only care for a couple of animals at a time, but it is still something that I have to make a priority in my day. I guess, when you look at all of that, plus the Christmas shopping, trying to keep on top of the housework AND spend some quality time with my hubby and kids, it isn't surprising that I became grinch like.

So today, as I sit looking at the now bare spot where our tree majestically stood, I feel a tinge of sadness,  as if an opportunity has been lost. Almost wishing I could have a 'do over' and start the Christmas period all over again, but this time in a better frame of mind. But I am a big believer in 'it is what it is', and my Christmas was what it was. There are no 'do overs' in life, so you have to make the best of what you have, and I have the whole of 2012 ahead of me. There is nothing to say that I won't ever have a Christmas like that again, but hopefully with this one freshly etched in my mind, it won't be for a while.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...