Thursday, 7 June 2012

Missing the Fireworks

I have vivid memories of the Queens birthday long weekend when I was a child.

It would start by following along  behind my dad to buy the family fire works…I remember the gunpowder smell in the shop and all the fireworks tantalizing displayed behind the glass with their faded package pictures and Chinese instructions. They had promising names like Bangers, Carnival Spray, Scarlet Fury and Star Hell! My brother and I would desperately be searching for our favorite…the parachute and beg out dad to get them. We were so  excited!

My dads ritual was to prepare the fireworks by lining them up and undoing the sticky tape that stuck the fuses on to the cardboard shell of the firework. I guess he did this to ease ignition in the dark later on.  He would also painstakingly separate each of the fireworks that were grouped together so that his money and our fun would go further. Knowing that we still had hours to wait before he set them off felt like torture!

I so clearly remember him chopping the firewood for our BBQ. I remember the smell and the crackle of the pale white pine wood that we’d have. Who could forget the taste of the charred sausages and marshmallows.

I remember the almost childish cheeky look in my dads face, his home rolled drum cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth as he ordered us to stand back in preparation for the explosions!

Off course the fountains and sparklers were fun, …but us kids really wanted those parachutes….as they were fired we would desperately try and follow the smoldering little plastic man launched high into the night sky by the fireworks. We’d hold onto those half burnt parachutes like our life depended on it.

These memories are special because my Father left when I was just 11 years old…

….But, all those memories are of a different time. Nowadays fireworks have been banned for safety reasons. Off course we have the mass displays for New Years and Canberra Day, but it’s just not the same I think.

Luckily, living in the ACT, we were able to share the experience of home fireworks with my girls when they were little. The ACT was still able to have fireworks up until a few years ago. When I looked at the excitement in my daughters faces, It felt like I was a child again myself. Their smiles, hands over the ears, anticipation.  Sharing the party atmosphere with neighbors and friends. Watching their brave Daddy go and light the fireworks. Just like my dad, I think GrumpyDaddy had just as much fun as the kids!

Unfortunately, I think my daughters would have be too young to remember, and they won’t get the chance to share the memories with their kids…..luckily I’ll have these photos to show them J

Buster and me


Flash, Muscles and family friends

Flash and her BFF 

Sharing my memories of fireworks over at Flog Your Blog friday at With Some Grace and the Aptly titled Flash Blog Friday at Twinkle in the eye.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Winter Preschool PJ Day

Pyjama day at preschool is just so cute! Even if you get some funny looks from passers by on the way to school :). Winter is well and truly here and even the best attempts to brighten up the preschool playground, seem to be in vain....

I'm joining in with  My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka,  and Tina's for Wordless Wednesday. Pop over and see some great Wordless Wednesday photos!

My Little Drummer Boys

Monday, 4 June 2012

….An Emotional Sports Parent

Yesterday, my girls raced in the ACT schools cross country championships. In my last post I wrote about how we were all  feeling excited and anxious about the day…..but I could never have predicted what was going to happen…..

On that post, a lovely Mom from Fly Like A Girl, who I have connected with through blogging, left a thoughtful comment. She said that there was a difference between a crazy sports parent and an emotional one. Well, today, I’m an emotional one….

The girls, excited before the races

The day started with nervous anticipation. My 7 year old daughter, Muscles, took to the starting line of her race. The course was blanketed in a think layer of fog, which gave an eerie atmosphere to the race. I stood at the apex of the first corner to watch the girls disappear into the fog…with my little girl firmly in the lead as they ran out of site.

Muscles in the lead........

I rushed down to the finishing straight full of excitement to watch the final part of the race. As I stood with my family, we strained our necks to get a glimpse of the girls and we couldn’t see Muscles. . As the girls turned into the finishing straight there was still no sign of my little girl.

My heart sank because for weeks, I had been reassuring her about the race and telling her that she would be fine….I knew how much this race meant to her. I thought that she must have run too hard at the start and was too exhausted to maintain the pace. I new that she would be upset.

We waited at the line, still searching for a glimpse of my girl…the last stragglers finished and still there was no sign of her.

Now my heart was pounding! What had happened???

I went straight to the marshalling tent to find one of our lovely teachers was already making enquiries. Finally (at least it felt like forever, but was probably just a minute), a call came in from one of the course marshals requesting first aid for a injured girl.

So, off I went…running that cross country course myself to find my daughter.

It turned out that she had fallen and badly injured her ankle. I carried her back…while she cried and shook from the pain and the disappointment, and the relief from seeing me.  It also turned out that there was no first aid at the course….Luckily, our school had brought a first aid kit so at least we had some ice and bandages to help ease the swelling.

Little Buster was very concerned for his big sister...

Today we are off to see the sports doctors to see what the damage is. Her ankle is very swollen and bruised! She is devastated that she can’t do her gymnastics training with her major competitions coming up. Last night the poor little thing cried herself to sleep…

….Back at the cross country carnival my oldest daughter, Flash (9) ran 4th in her race….to be completely honest, I don't think her heart was really in it.

So today I am an emotional sports parent. I haven’t quite got my thoughts straight yet. I know that injuries are a part of sport…I know that she'll probably be fine in a few weeks.....but it is so hard to see my child go though that...It was a tough day at the office for this mum.

linking up with Diary of a SAHM for #IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Proud to be a Sports Parent

Well, tomorrow the Sporty Girls will be racing in the ACT schools cross country championships ( if the weather holds out).

The girls are nervous and excited…and so is their mum!

I understand that you may be wondering what I have to be nervous and excited about. It is true that it is not me racing…it’s my daughters. But nervous excitement is what I am feeling.

I could do the ‘done thing’ here and  complain about the wind messing up my hair, making my latte cold or getting mud on my fashionable Italian leather boots….but that is not me, and not how I feel. Thanks to the east coast low it will undoubtedly be cold, windy and probably raining. But I will be there supporting my girls….and enjoying it!

I have been thinking about why I feel this way before my children’s races…..

It’s not because I am living my dreams through my children. I had a very fulfilling and exciting childhood with my own successes and failures…which I am content with. I never even entertained the notion of competing at the state-championships in sport.

It’s not because I base by self-worth on the success of my children. Off course I want them to be happy, but I am also happy with the achievements I have made in my own life, and the achievements I have yet to make. I do not need the success of my children to make me feel worthy!

Am I emotionally invested in the girls events? Of course I am. I am their mum…Their biggest supporter. I have friends who are staunch supports of football clubs and I know they feel emotionally invested, nervous and excited before he games too.

I also felt this way when the girls were performing in the school Christmas concert or when my daughter sat her NAPLAN, or when my daughter had a suspected appendicitis…so it’s not just sports that make me feel nervous for the kids,

I have read so many negative things about youth sports parents on the internet. From people claiming youth sports brings out the worst in adults to parents being the worst part about youth sport. I am not naive enough to think that youth sport is all butterflies and rainbows, but I know a lot of parents involved with  children’s sport. By a far majority these parents are supportive and sensible.

I have seen  crazy sports parents, but I think it is unfair that all parents of kids involved in or excelling at sport are tarred with the same brush.

Don’t worry, I have some perspective too. I realise that  the girls are not ‘racing for Sheep Stations’ tomorrow. A brave little girl in my daughters class is in the grip of a life and death battle against rare cancer called neuroblastoma. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety that her family is going through. I know that they are doing everything they can to save her life and they are truly inspirational.

I know that tomorrow is just another race. I also know that this cross country race is very important to my girls and they will be giving it all they have……

So I have reached the point where I no longer feel embarrassed to admit feeling excited and nervous before my kids sporting events. I will love them just the same no matter what the result. I will be there to cheer them on for as long as they want to continue. I will share the successes and disappointments with them. I will be waiting at the finish line to hold them, and congratulate them……. because I am their Mum…

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Teachers Deserve a Medal

One of the best things about being a stay at home mum in the chance to help out in the children’s classrooms…….at least that’s what I keep trying telling my self…over and over again…..

You see the reality is that now my little man is in preschool two days a week, I have been looking at those two days as a weekend….a weekend that I’ve waited 9 years for!

One of the hardest adjustments I had to make from full time employment as a Scientist, to being a SAHM was that there are no weekends, no knock-off times…..every day and every night are just the same, all flowing into one big mass of responsibility!

So now I hold those two precious days as almost sacred….its so hard to leave my nice quite, warm house to go and help in a classroom of not just 3 noisy, snotty, demanding  children but…but 25!!

Anyway, my daughter’s year 2 teacher asked me come in and help out with some science experiments the children were going to be doing in class….one look at my daughters little expectant face, and I knew I had to go…..

It was my job to supervise the mixing part of the experiment where the children had to mix cocoa powder, icing sugar and puffed rice together….I was instructed not to let the children eat their mixes and was put in charge of 15 children!!

image credit
*not what helping the the classroom was like at all!!

Half way through the experiment, I discovered one little boy, hiding under the table, happily devouring the contents of his plastic cup. I called him out from under the table and he had chocolate saliva dripping from the corners of his mouth….He then asked me, with great difficulty because his mouth was full of chocolate rice puffs, if he cold get a drink.

I looked at him and with my best teachers voice,  my hands on my hips and a badly disguised smile, I asked…. “Have you been eating your mix??”  There is no prizes for guessing what his response was….it was of course an emphatic “Nooooo!” I just could help but laugh, and told him to ask his teacher for a drink…..

I did actually have some fun in the end…as I thought the experiment was a bit dry, I improvised a little. I added water to the kids mixtures and  I fashioned a cone filter from some paper towel. We then poured the mix through the filter to end up with clean rice puffs…the kids actually thought that part was pretty cool!  I don't think the teacher appreciated the mess we made though!!

I guess the day was kind of like exercising. I didn’t want to go at first….but I felt really good when I was finished. It was nice seeing my little girl interacting with her friends at school and it was nice to get to know some of the other kids as well.

I came away from the class room that day needing a stiff drink and a good lie down!! I also left with the thought that teachers deserve a medal…a great big shiny medal!

Flogging my blog today over at With Some Grace....get your raunchy pants on and have a look!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Apraxia: Thankful for a Reason to Hope

Two events have happened this week for my little boy (4) who has a severe speech delay called dispraxia (apraxia). Both these events have made me feel very thankful and have given me a reason for hope.

I have previously written about how I have made the decision to change speech therapists. Yesterday, Buster had his first session with the new therapist. I am thankful (in a bitter sweet kind of way) that the new speech therapist has given him a priority ranking. This means he will be seen each week for therapy. I am so hoping that this consistency can really start to see results for his speech.

It’s bitter sweet because her assessment confirms that he has a very severe speech difficulty and I am so worried for his future….The weekly sessions will also be costing $100 each time!….It’s looking like I’ll be trying to find some supermarket, shelf packing, night work!

The speech therapist said that she honestly believes that she can help Buster’s speech… I will do whatever it takes to give him the best chance that I can.

The other event that occurred in Buster life this week is that he had his interview to attend big  school (the same school his sisters attend). I am thankful that this interview went so well!  Buster managed to concentrate, and answer his questions…he then went on to charm the teacher with a rendition of his favorite preschool song… ‘The Wombat Wobble’ (complete with actions).

After the interview, the teacher asked Buster if he knew the way to the kindergarten classrooms. He shot up and valiantly declared….”follow me!!” It was just too cute!

I have had a very good experience with this school and I’m thankful (and a little relieved) that Buster will be going there next year.

I am also thankful that the kindergarten teacher is a lovely lady that I know from the old playgroup days ….we both attended the same playgroup when our eldest children were toddlers (Canberra is a small place!). This lady saw my eldest daughter struggle thorough her apraxia. I am thankful that having a prior relationship with the teacher will make communication easier and will help with my sons transition to big school.

So, small steps maybe….but I am feeling very thankful this week!

Linking up this post with Kate at Kate Says Stuff  for Thankful Thursday.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Discovery Playground at Tidbinbilla

*Tidbinbilla is a beautiful nature park in Canberra's south and was also featured in my last wordless Wednesday post here.

I'm joining in with  My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka,  and Tina's for Wordless Wednesday. Pop over and see some great Wordless Wednesday photos!

My Little Drummer Boys

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Legendary Thomas Train Jelly Cake

As you may have gathered from a previous post entitled ‘cake decorating disaster’ creating the perfect birthday cake is not my forte!

So you can guess at my disappointment  when my third child decided that he didn’t want cake for his third birthday, (or ever for that matter)… his favorite ‘food’ is jelly. Therefore, I set about creating the famous and legendary (in our household al least) Thomas Train Jelly cake!

Previously, in an over enthusiastic way and with the confidence of best intentions, I purchased a silicone train cake mould from BigW…..Determined not to let my inspirational purchase go to waste I used the cake mould as a jelly mould instead!

 This jelly creation certainly would not win any prizes for perfectionism! But it certainly won a place in our families history…and judging by the photos, I'm pretty sure it won a place in my little boys heart!

Although I completely understand the irony of me offering tips for creating the jelly cake…. Here are some tips,  just in case you have been inspired by the awesomeness!

  • Spray the mould with some light tasting cooing oil to make the jelly extraction easier (although it’s not easy and I lost quite a few little carriages, and warped Thomas……

  • Make the jelly with ½ as much water as listed on the packet to make it firmer.

  • Try not to move the jelly once it is on the tray…it sticks and breaks very easily!

  • Anything will look good to a child with lollies on top!....just make sure they don't eat the play dough 

  • Don't ever mention to the birthday boy  that you dismantled his favourite toy to create the Thomas jelly spectacular!

Today I’m sharing my amazing creativity (not) with the team at #IBOT (I blog on Thursday) over at Diary of a SAHM…pop over and take a look!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Disqualifications are tough!

This weekend Flash had her first ‘main’ meet for swimming. The main meets have qualifying times and are for swimmers 10 yrs and older. Although Flash has only just turned 9, she qualified to swim many events at the main meet and she wanted to give it a go…to see what it was like swimming with the big kids!

It’s the winter season in Australia, so all the swim meets are short course (in a 25m pool) which means lots of turns….turns are not Flash’s favorite element of swimming and swimming in this meet would mean some really valuable competition experience.

On the first day Flash swam really well, making some PB’s and finishing about mid pack. She knew she was swimming against girls who could be almost turning 11, so Flash was quite happy with the way things were going and she was having a lot of fun! ….in fact she demanded that I enter her into the second main meet in two weeks time!

On the second day of the meet were her two favorite races….the 100 IM and the 50 fly. I thought her best chance for a medal in this meet was in the 100m IM as she went into the race with the 4th fastest time. Flash swam a terrific race and cut 3 seconds from her previous best time to finish in the bronze medal position.

Unfortunately, Flash was given a disqualification for doing an incorrect breaststroke to freestyle turn (She didn’t touch with two hands first).

This was Flash’s first disqualification in a swim meet and I could see in her face that she was very disappointed…..I think she really wanted that 3rd place!

We had a big talk about how disqualifications are a part of swimming and it happens to everybody. How the most important thing is to learn from her mistakes for next time and that the races are a learning experience. We talked about how executing a race well is more important than times or medals…and if she can break the race down and think about each element she has to do, than the times and  maybe the medals will come…

After a 2 hr wait (quite a long wait for a 9 year old) she was itching to get back into the water….her last race was the 50m fly, and what a race it was. Flash went in to the race with the 7th best time but she managed to finish second! She swam the race in 38.09 which was a 4 second PB!...I just couldn’t believe it! Flash was so happy to have won herself a silver medal!

So, I spent the most part of Saturday and Sunday, time-keeping or sitting on those rock-hard benches at the AIS pool…but it was so worth it! But not for the reasons you might think.

 It wasn’t worth it to see her come back and win an completely unexpected silver medal after missing a medal through disqualification… was worth it from this conversation…

I was talking to some other parents about being excited to watch the up-coming Olympics. Flash piped into the conversation to tell us that she was going to go to the Olympics….One of the Dads said “…Oh are you??....” and Flash replied

“…I’m going to the Olympics to win a medal so I can throw my mum the flowers…..”

…and THAT is what makes it all worth it!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Why are people hitting those swimmers?

I thought I would share this little anecdote for my Friday post. I think it just gives a little glimpse into the innocence of a child’s thoughts….

My daughter at her first swim meet

..The swimming meets my daughters participate include differently abled children. There is something truly inspiring about watching these courageous children swim. No matter what the final result theses children have overcome so much just to be in the pool. The smile on their faces at the end of the race just says it all….and invariably makes me cry. I think it effects many others in the same way because the loudest cheering from the spectators is always for the wonderful efforts of these children.

In my opinion, this is what sport is all about. It’s challenging your self to participate and improve. A chance to show yourself and the world that you can do it….regardless of your ability.

The visually impaired swimmers have a helper that carries a long stick with a soft ball on the end. The helpers touch the swimmer as they are approaching the end of the race so that they know that the wall is coming and when to stop.

At my younger daughters first swimming meet, she was very interested in the differently abled swimmers and enjoyed cheering and supporting them. She also had many, many questions that I answered honestly, to the best of my knowledge. I wanted to ensure that my daughters respected these swimmers and thought of them just like the other competitors. I wanted to make sure that my girls would see the person and not just their disability as this is a topic very close to my heart. (See the post about my son here)

It was at the finish of one of the races where my daughter turned to me in shock and indignation…she said…

“…Mum, why are those people hitting those swimmers on the head…it’s not their fault that they are blind! They don’t deserve to be hit….”

Well, I guess I hasn’t explained the situation as well as I should of to her, that’s for sure!

I don’t mean to be offensive in any way…this is truly what my daughter said. In a way I was glad, at least, that was very concerned for the swimmers. But I was very quick to set her straight on the real use for the ball sticks…..

I'm flogging this post for Flog Your Blog Friday over at With Some Grace .

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Buster, Apraxia and The Lady at the Post Office

Yesterday, on a routine errand to the post office, I watched a conversation between the lady at the counter and my four year old son, Buster. This conversation made my day…actually to be completely honest it made my week.

As you may have been able to glean from my last post about my son Buster and his communication difficulties (here), I have been feeling frustrated and isolated as we try and find a speech therapist that can help Buster with his Apraxia (a severe speech delay).

Now, I may be just a little bit bias ;), but my little man has an adorable bubbly little social personality!

He doesn’t think twice about ‘singing’ his current favorite song (we are young) when it comes on the radio. Even if he is getting his haircut in the middle of a busy hairdressing salon!

 He cheers wildly from the sidelines for his sisters with unmitigated enthusiasm.

I’ve watched fascinated, as he teaches the teenagers at the girl’s swim club how to do flips on the jumping pillow. When they high-five him my heart just melts at the goofy wide smile stuck on his face!

Overall I have found that other children have no problems at all accepting Buster into their games or conversations….if they are a little put off by the sound of his speech, than it doesn’t take long for his personality to shine through and win them over.

However, when it comes to adults, it is often a different story…..

With Adults, Buster is not the least bit shy or reserved. He is only too willing to inform them of vitally important information….like what he wants for his birthday, his favorite colour, his sisters favorite colour, or the colour of his new socks!

…however, adults don’t usually understand a thing that he says! Determined to get his message across, Buster will start to ‘speak’ loudly (and I mean LOUDLY) interspersing his words with sound effects and dramatic pantomimes.

Usually, the adult (and all adults in a 1km radius) will stare at us like a circus act….I’ve had people ask me if he is even speaking English. They will rudely enquire or diagnose him with various conditions. More often than not they will completely ignore his attempts at communication and talk to me instead. I find that many adults simply don’t take the time to understand him.

This is why I am thankful to that lady in the post office.

She took the time to listen to him….and she heard what he was saying and was able to have a conversation with him. She asked him questions and listened to the responses. She didn’t judge him on the mispronunciations of most of his words. She didn’t stare at me in incomprehension or make sarcastic comments. It was an ordinary conversation about his preschool, his teacher and his favorite toys…but it meant the world to us!

In my experience with my son, I have found it takes children and special adults to see past his communication difficulties…to look under the badly shaped words to see the sweet , charming personality underneath. People who don’t simply focus on his speech errors, but focus on Buster instead.

To the Lady at the Post Office, I can’t tell you what it meant to both of us that you treated my boy as an important individual in his own right….just as you would treat everybody else….

…Thank you.

Joining in with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday…..where you will find some fantastic inspirational posts this Thursday.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Kangaroos, Emus and Views at Tidbinbilla*

*Tidbinbilla is a beautiful nature park in Canberra's south.

I'm joining in with  My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka,  and Tina's for Wordless Wednesday. Pop over and see some great Wordless Wednesday photos!

My Little Drummer Boys