Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Wordless Wednesday: More Garden Visitors

Lat week I posted about our spikey little visitor. Here are some photos of other creatures that have come to visit our garden....some cuter than others!!

To celebrate Wordless Wednesday, I'm linking up with My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka, Tina's pic story and Tots and Me

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Speech Therapist in Training!

By the title of this post, you may think that I am referring to myself as the speech therapist in training. I am, however, not referring to myself, but to my 8 year old daughter Flash.

You can see her here, helping her little brother, Buster (4)  who has childhood apraxia of speech or dispraxia. This is a speech delay that I have described here.

There is actually some irony in what you can see in thist video. You see, Flash was also diagnosed with apraxia/dispraxia, when she was 3 years old (see here and here). After early intervention and exhaustive practice at home, she is now able to speak quite well, even though I was warned that she may never speak clearly.

It is my daughter, that gives me the best hope that Buster will too, win this battle against apraxia.

Flash is in a unique position as she seems to remember how it felt to have dispraxia. She is able to really understand and empathize with the difficulties Buster is having with is speech.  She also seems to get the best out of him and at the moment, Buster prefers to do his practice with his big sister.

I can’t help but get a little emotional when I watch Flash and Buster practicing their speech. The level of caring and patience Flash demonstrates for her little brother is enough to melt any mother’s heart…….

……. I am just so proud of them both…….

The device you see them using in the video is a 'smart chute’ from Smart kids. It’s purpose is to help kids develop literacy and numeracy, but I thought that it could be adapted to help Buster with his sounds and putting them together to make words.

He, like many other preschoolers just loves the concept of ‘posting’ the card. That action of posting, seems to be reward enough for having attempted to say the correct sound. You can see how much he enjoys using it in the video.

One of my major goals for this year is to ensure that I practice busters speech so that he can beat this apraxia curse….. so he can find, and share his beautiful voice with the world. I have been coming up with ways to keep his speech practice fun and exciting.

I was motivated to set out my goals in 2012 by my participation in the me and you link-up at The Mother Experiment. The  reins have now been handed over to A Parenting Life.

 The me and you, making it matter meme is a terrific way to start the process of figuring out your goals and receive support and encouragement from the wonderful community there.

You can find the 'me and YOU, making IT matter meme here:

A Parenting Life

I am also linking up with Jess, at Diary of a SAHM for #IBOT. Pop over to her inspirational blog to see what others have posted today!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Sporty Weekend!

This weekend I have traveled to two youth sports carnivals. As I sit here typing I am exhausted! ….I am a little dehydrated, I have sore muscles and I’m a little bit sun burnt….Red hair is not the best asset to have during outdoor, summer sports carnivals, I can tell you! I am dog-tired…even though I didn’t actually compete……..

Well, actually I did sprint run between the girls events with camera and water bottles in hand and 4 year old on hip, so that I didn’t miss any medal presentations, water breaks or personal bests.

...and it was so worth it!!....

The highlight of the Little Athletics carnival on Sunday, was the toddler race! Buster (4), for the first time ever..... lined up at the starting line for his 30 seconds of glory. He fell over, just as he was getting started, but he picked himself on up and kept running….no tears!!  My favorite part however, was the way he looked at me as he ran past…..’sniff’….my boy!

The girls had a great day at the carnival too. Flash (8), ran a gutsy 800m race to come 3rd in the under 10 age group. She was so proud of herself!! even if she was a little dwarfed on the medal podium.

It may not have been a gold, but she was so proud of her self for racing in the 10 year 800m and finishing 3rd!!

Flash also won three gold medals and 1 silver in her other events (100m, hurdles, 400m and long-jump) in her age group. I was delighted that Flash’s little friend from our athletics club won a gold medal in the long-jump. She was trying so hard and  I was just as happy for her as I was for my own children!

My younger daughter Muscles (7) also had a terrific day winning three gold medals in tightly contested races! The hurdles, 100m and 200m.

On Saturday, Flash had a Swimming carnival, her first in an outdoor poor (yes, I think we are a bit spoilt in Canberra!). Flash had an awesome carnival finishing with 2 freestyle PBs and 1st places  in the 100m and 50m. She won 1st place in 50m butterfly….just , in an extremely tight race….I can say that she just might be a tad competitive ;). Flash also got a 2nd for 50m breaststroke and a 3rd for 50m backstroke.

We had a really wonderful week-end full of sport and fun! Now, if you’ll excuse me kids, you’ll have to look after yourself for a little while…..I really need to go and have a lie down……………..

Oh, I'm linking up today with the Wonderful Sonia, at life, love and hiccups for Wonderful Weekends! Come and see what others got up to this Wonderful Weekend!

Life Love and Hiccups

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Youth Sport Weekend: Involved Parents

One of my goals for 2012 is to develop a Youth Sports community on my blog to support, encourage and motivate parents and children to adopt an active lifestyle. To help build this community, add your youth sports or active lifestyle post at the linky at the bottom of this post.

Today I’d like to talk about parent involvement in Youth Sports. I have written about being a committee mum (or not) here. Parental involvement doesn’t have to stop behind the scenes. Many sports rely heavily on the help of parents directly on the field.

 I’m the first to admit that it can be hard to give over your precious relaxation time to volunteering at a sporting event. However, I have found that there are many, many benefits to being actively involved in youth sport.

For an example, I’ll tell you about GrumpyDaddy. Now playing and interacting with children doesn’t seem to come easily to GrumpyDaddy. He likes to spend time in the garden or looking after his fish. But come Saturday Morning , he is on the athletics field and is responsible for over a dozen giggling 7 year-old girls. He is patient and understanding and all the children look up to him. My little girl is so proud to be his daughter and I’m sure her confidence and self-worth is boosted by having her dad there in charge.

These are some of benefits that can be gained by parents participating in youth sport:

  • By helping with the sport or activity, the parent is sending a message that the child’s activities are worth investing time in, and that the child is important to the parent. I’m sure this leads to increased confidence and self-belief in the child.

  • You get the opportunity to meet and form friendships with other parents you wouldn’t normally see.

  • Parent help is an absolute requirement, without help many sporting events simply could not take place.

  • Kids learn an awful lot by example, so if you are there to model fairness and good sportsmanship, they will follow your lead.

  • There is a unique opportunity to get to know other kids and play a small role in their lives by helping them to achieve at sport. I have written about this further here.

  • Kids feel really proud that you are there, even if you are wearing a silly fluorescent vest! I have seen my daughter point to me with a big fat smile on her lttle face saying to her friends….

 “…that’s MY mum!!…”

  • Parents get a unique opportunity to lean about their child on the sporting field. Weather it is watching their grin as they achieve, watching their joy as they socialize with their friends, or watching their determination to do their best. Even if that means running last.

  • Lastly, parents get to take their camera and take lots of really awesome action shots of the kids doing sports…….or is that just me?? J

So to demonstrate said  action shots, here are some photos I took of my daughter Flash (8) competing in the high jump at little athletics

 Seriously consider being actively involved in your child's sporting activity, the benefits for your child and you could be amazing!!

If you have a Youth Sports or active lifestyle post to share, please add it to the linky below. Together we can build a terrific community!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Australia Natives in GrumpyDaddy's Garden

GrumpyDaddy has a green thumb and one of his passions is growing native Australian pants in our garden. He collects seeds and seed pods from the places he visits when travelling for work or when we go on bush walks with the kids.

By spending his relaxation time pottering about in the garden he knows the details and history of every plant  intimately. He even gladly suffers the indignity of having purple stained fingers from hand-squishing all the little bugs that have the courage to  feast off his beloved  plants.

From his labors, we are all rewarded with these beautiful and unique flowers, which I just love to photograph!

Grafted Eucalyptus Flower



Bottle Brush (or pussy cat tails, as my Dad called them)

Paper Daisy

Swan River Daisy

Illyarrie (red cap) gum

Kangaroo paw

For the weekend flowers memes I'm sharing with Flowers on Saturday, Weekend Flowers and Macro Flower Saturday

Come and have a look at some breathtaking flower photogrphy from all over the world!

Macro Flowers Saturday badge 1

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Friday Fences: Old or New??

 Since starting blogging. something very strange has come over me....... Once I would happily go about my day without really a thought for fences. Now, fences suddenly catch my attention, and absorb me as I find myself wondering at their linear beauty, charm, detail, and purpose. 

This is entirely to do with the Friday Fences meme I have been participating in on the beautiful photography blog Life According to Jan and Jer. There is a wonderful and friendly community there who capture and share interesting and creative photographs from all over the world...of, or though a fence.

Life According to Jen and Jer

To demonstrate my new found affliction, this Australia Day, we took the kids out to a little cafe for an ice-cream treat. From the parking lot of the cafe, I could see this very interesting fence (you can see the fence as I did if you look closely at the first photograph), and couldn't help but go and inspect it!

 I love how old and rustic it looks and how it is made in the traditional style of  fitting the tapered end of the railings into the holes of the fence posts. I liked the rough texture of the wood and the way the railings are not straight but follow the curves of the original tree...... What has happened to me !!!!  :)

The fence is located in an historic part of Canberra known as Gold Creek or Ginninderra Village, close to the site of the original homesteads that pre-dated Canberra. Strangely, the building the fence is protecting seems relatively modern, yet they have been abandoned. 

The buildings and the grounds have fallen into disrepair, overgrown with grass weeds and rubbish. I am not sure if the fences were built at the same time as the buildings or if the fences remained  there from the original homestead....What do you think?

Either way, my children thought it was a  bit odd to be taking photographs of them!

Come and see some beautiful fence photography at life according to Jen and Jer! You too may discover and appreciate the beauty of something once taken for granted and largely ignored....  fences.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Australia Day

So, today it is Australia day and I am extremely thankful to be living in a country of such beauty and diversity; Not just it’s landscape but in it’s people as well.

image source

I think that Australians are fiercely proud of this wonderful country. Traditionally though, it has been a deep seated pride, found running under the surface, filling hearts and minds with the belief, motivation and courage to accomplish great things in many fields such as wartime, sporting, medical, and scientific, just to name a few. It has never really been the ‘shout it from the rooftops and emblazon every surface with the flag’ kind of pride........

I have traveled to the USA on several occasions, once a mere 2-weeks post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On each visit I was stunned and touched by the level of pride and patriotism shown in that country. The American flag, proudly flying from flagpoles and rooftops seemed to bring the people together, giving them a common purpose, sense of belonging, community and safety.

I was also in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla, In January 2006, just after the ‘race riots’ of December 2005. Walking around the streets in the predominantly white Angelo Saxon suburb, our family was greeted with the site of an Australian flag hanging from almost every balcony, window or veranda. Many cars drove the streets with their flags cracking in the breeze, often honking and hollering! This should have made me feel proud. However it actually made me feel a little uneasy….The flags, and the prevailing feelings and attitude at the time seemed to represent more than nationalism, pride and patriotism. They seemed to represent something defensive, like an animal making its territory, or a call to arms.

Of course I think that Australian themed decorations for Australia day parties and children is a fabulous and fun way to celebrate Australia day. But, now, when I see cars driving around with those flags…again cracking in the breeze. I can’t help wondering what their motives are. If it is for patriotism, fun and celebration, then great!.....but is there something more? 

Interestingly, I read a recent article which suggested a higher percentage of drivers of cars that displayed the Australian flag, support the white Australia policy (as opposed to the percentage of  drivers with no flags on their cars, that supported the White Australia policy). I wouldn't go as far as concluding that this research means that drivers of cars displaying flags are racist, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Growing up in Country NSW, I have heard family members and their friends vocally ‘discussing’ such issues as the white Australia policy, immigration, refugees and boat people. I decline to participate in these discussions as some of the extreme viewpoints only end up making me feel sad and discouraged. The protagonists know that I agree to disagree.

However, to feel positive and hopeful about the future of this great country, I only need to look at my children. I believe that they have been brought up in a family and school community mostly free of racial stereotypes. My daughters can sing the Australian National Anthem in an Aboriginal language, they are learning to speak conversational Indonesian, They have learnt about festivals, celebrations and traditions from other cultures including there own. All theses things have taught them the value and importance of  cultures that are not there own.

.My children do not seem to categories people based on the color of their skin. In fact, they were curious about a conversation that was occurring over dinner about the refugee boat sinking in rough seas at Christmas island causing much loss of life. When I explained to them the story, they showed compassion and sadness rather than fear and hostility.

My children also love the Australian flag and they love to fly it for Australia day!

I know it is not just my children that have been bought up to think like this….this is why I celebrate Australia day, with the Australian flag. 

My motive for celebrating with the Australian flag is for the flag tosymbolizes hope. Hope for the acceptance of diversity. Hope for compassion, empathy and hope for the future.

For me, my feelings about Australia day are described beautifully in the song by  the members of the Australian band the Seekers, that many, many children have learnt at school.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and speak with one voice
I am,
You are,
We are,

I'm thankful to be living in such a beautiful and diverse country and I'm linking up with Kate from Kate Says Stuff. Pop on over and see what others are thankful for this Australia day!

Happy Australia Day!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Our Special Visitor

In honor of Australia Day tomorrow,  I'd like to introduce you to our special little visitor....

My Children were surprised, delighted and instantly fell in love with this spikey little traveler......our echidna!   If you look closely at the last shot, you can see the brave black ants he missed for lunch, crawling on his  head! We were lucky enough to have this beautiful Native Australian marsupial appear in our garden, twice... before he was never seen again....

The kids (and grown-ups) still keep an eye on this spot though....Just in case.....


To Celebrate Wordless Wednesday, I'm linking up with My little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka, Tina's pic story and Tots and Me. You can visit these sites for beautiful photos!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Apraxia: Making Speech Therapy Fun

My 4 year old son Buster has childhood apraxia of speech or ‘Dispraxia. Oral apraxia is a speech delay where there seems to be a difficulty in getting the correct signal from the brain to the mouth. I’ve written about our family history with apraxia here.

Buster has seen a speech therapist 3 times now and we have finally got past the diagnosis stage to the speech therapy stage. This is the beginning of a very long road......

Buster's speech therapist has been trying to teach him to say the ‘p’, ‘b’ and ‘m’ sounds. These sounds are made at he front of the mouth and require him to move his lips…something he doesn’t seem to be able to do very well or with accuracy. He makes most of his sounds with the back of his mouth (if you say the sounds ‘c’ and ‘g’ you will see what I mean).

It’s amazing how complex speech really is when you break it down to it’s component parts. Most of us, including me, just take it for granted and picked the sounds up when we were babies. However, Buster has to be taught each individual sound. It’s a little like learning to read, I didn’t realize how complicated it was until I tried to teach someone to do it!

Buster only has a speech therapy session once every 2 weeks, so it is vital that we practice his speech at home. He was given this book to complete by the speech therapist.

You can just imagine how utterly boring this is to an active and exuberant 4 year old!!

He soon refused point-black to have anything to do with repeating the same sound (that is difficult for him to say) 12 times over, be constantly corrected and reminded that he can’t say it, only to be rewarded with a tick!

I thought that maybe if I try and make his speech practice more exciting, he will cooperate and practice his sounds. So, to make speech therapy fun for Buster I made him a wall chart with some of the materials from the girls craft box (hence, the pink ribbon…) (you can see that I’m definitely not a craft blogger!!).

I laminated some cards that show him the correct sounds to make for visual cues. I also laminated some Ben10 pictures I found on a google image search to be used as a reward. I attached Velcro spots to the cards and Ben10 pictures.

I find the chart to be much more tactile and stimulating than the black & white photocopied pages of the book. So-far he really seems to enjoy using the chart. He gets to place the cards on the chart when he says the sounds correctly (or at least gives it a really good try). He really enjoys choosing a Ben10 sticker to put on his chart as a reward. He even spent some time today carrying his chart around with him and practicing his sounds on his own

I am determined to do whatever I can to help my little man communicate with the world. He really does have a sweet little personality that I really want the world to see. I don’t want the world to judge, label and categorize his personality and intelligence by the way his speech sounds.

Buster starts preschool this year……I am very, very worried for him and I am a little reluctant to let him go…I’ll keep you posted.....

I listed Busters speech practice as one of my goals for 2012 in this post for me and you with the Mother Experiment. I'm linking up with her me and you link to share the progress of my goals.

I am also linking up for the first time with a lovely blog I discovered, Austism Wonderland who is developing a wonderful community where everyday wonderful moments are celebrated with her 'the little things are a big deal link-up

and because it's Tuesday. I'm linking up with the lovely Jess from Diary of a SAHM for #IBOT

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Where Sport Imitates Art....Almost!

The two days of this weekend were spent at the NSW Country Regional Swimming Meet at the Australian Institute of Sport.

On several occasions there was quite a lengthy wait between events. So, while GrumpyDaddy took on the time keeping duties, I was in charge of entertaining the three troubles; Buster (4), Muscles (7) and Flash (8).

As you can imagine, Buster does not enjoy sitting in the stands watching swimming races for hours at a time. So to keep the kids entertained, and myself sane, we explored the AIS. The kids were facinated by the various statues and sculptures in the AIS grounds. We had a lot of fun messing aroung and taking silly photos  :)

Interestingly, when we arrived at the pool on Sunday morning, the beautiful swimmer statue was wearing a swimming cap, belonging to one of the participating swim clubs....I wonder how she got that??

We also purchased some souvenirs from the AIS gift shop for mum's taxi..... Now I'm really feeling like a soccer mom!

Today I'm linking up with Sonia at Life Love & Hiccups for wonderful weekends and at Sunny + Scout for Point + Shoot. Come and have a look at what everyone has been up to this wonderful weekend!

Life Love and Hiccups