Sunday, April 29, 2007

The down side of massive developmental leaps...

Bryn has been experiencing a massive developmental leap in the past few weeks and it's been wonderful hearing all the new language and seeing all the connections being made; today he used the possessive noun "his" in reference to one of Erik's toys (he pointed the toy out, I asked who's it was, he pointed to a picture of Erik and said, "his", LOL!)...

Unfortunately, we're also experiencing a change in his sleeping habits that I'm putting down to this developmental leap. He is taking a day nap, I usually organise this for around 11.30am, though some days it can be somewhat later. He goes down readily with just a 15-20 "bed-meh"... He'll sleep for an hour, or up to two hours... Then he would "usually" go back to bed at about 7.30-8pm... At first he started refusing to go to sleep for Dave, no matter, I tried just feeding him to sleep again. Then he wouldn't feed to sleep unless we were in the bedroom in complete darkness with the door shut... Ok, so we did that. Now he won't do that either... He'll drift and drift, but fidget and do whatever to keep away. After 40 minutes to an hour, I'll give up and get up... And he'll stay up till I go to bed for the night, be that 12am or 2am... In the mean time, he is on and off the boob every 1/2 hour (for 10-20 minutes feeds at a time)...

I suppose I could just go to bed earlier myself. The thing is, I really do need that time in the evening where I can just sit and watch tv, or knit, or write...

Tonight much crying ensued when, basically, he drank me dry and there was nothing there, and I said no more meh for a bit... He was well overtired, and I was well cranky... Finally got him off 45 minutes ago, only to have him wake 20 minutes later and now he'll only sleep on Dave's shoulder (Dave just tried putting him down and he protested)...

I don't like to complain about my kids and their sleep disturbances, because basically I know it's par for the course, and my expectations have little do to with the reality of my kids waking or not sleeping the way I'd like them to, but tonight I just needed to type this out...

I'm loving the development, I'm not loving the fighting to stay awake... I know, this too shall pass...

Unconditional Parenting and galloping anxiety...

Ok, Cass, this one is for you (but everyone else is more than welcome to read and comment too, of course)...

For many years I've been learning how to parent differently to how my parents parented. I started out doing great, the first year and a bit of Erik's life was full of respect and consideration to his needs and patience as he learned about the world around him. I dare say, looking back, that I was actually doing the whole Unconditional Parenting (on the face of it, but I'll get to that later)... I wasn't a natural "praiser" and have really only struggled with praising since having Bryn - it's soooooo easy to praise him and tell him he's wonderful for every little thing he does, I can't explain why it pops out of me more readily with him than with the other too except that perhaps I'm not a first time parent, or a depressed parent this time...

However, when Erik was around 15 months, and I was newly pregnant with Luey and feeling very tired and at a low ebb most of the time, and of course, Erik's personality was emerging more and more, including the "volume" of his enthusiasm for life (which I found profoundly overwhelming for some reason), it turned out I wasn't Unconditional in my parenting at all... In fact, I was VERY conditional. I resented him when I was tired and he was being excitable, as he was prone to do. As my pregnancy with Luey progressed I become more and more depressed due to various circumstances and my own hormonal make up... I slowly became quite an authoritarian parent who wanted to punish Erik for "making" me feel bad; bad because I was tired, bad because I was anxious, bad because I was at times very mean to him and then I resented HIM for me being mean.

After Luey was born, I was postnatally depressed and a negligent parent when it came to Erik. I ignored him in order to preserve enough energy to deal with Luey's reflux symptoms. I was a practical parent with Luey, I did what was needed. When Luey was about 5 months old I started to get counselling for my PND and slowly I opened up to Luey emotionally. I opened up to Erik a bit more, too, but mostly to Luey. I didn't praise or punish Luey as he was still a baby and an "innocent" in my eyes.

By the time Luey was about 20 months though, things started to change. I started to resent Luey when he thwarted me. I was having a lot of issues with Erik by this stage, and really being rather abusive toward him. I smacked him. I yelled at him. I said really horrible things to him that I don't particularly care to repeat here.

Just after Erik turned five and Luey turned three we moved again to an area where I had more support myself, and we also conceived Bryn which was something I had longed for for a very long time. Slowly I started to cope better with the boys, but was still a very authoritarian parent. The authoritarianism stemmed from fear. Fear of losing control. Fear of what other people thought of us as a family and me as a person. Fear that my boys would grow into delinquents.

Then Bryn was born, and it was as if joy came back into my life. Soon after Bryn was born, Dave got his redundancy and became a SAHD for 8 months. With two parents at home I found myself a whole lot less anxious. Soon after Dave went back to work, it became evident I was slipping back into authoritarian parenting practices, even implementing a "thinking chair" for the big boys, mostly Erik, which was basically a euphemism for the "naughty chair" if I'm completely honest with myself.

Not surprisingly, Erik soon asked to go to school. I suffered a lot of guilt over this because I could see the cause and effect between my parenting style and Erik wanting to get the hell out of this house. At the same time a little voice in my head was telling me that perhaps it really would be a good thing for all of us to get a bit of space. It might mean having enough space to actually begin to feel someone other than anixety and resentment around my big boys.

So, they both started school this year, and it has made a huge difference in our relationshp. I still occassionally lost my cool completely and was too rough with the boys, shoving them out of my way and once or twice smacking them, but still a massive improvement.

In the past couple of months, I feel like I'm waking up from a very bad dream. I've actually managed to consciously stop myself from the worse of my parenting. So now, I'm feeling confident enough to tackle the subtleties - which they're subtleties to me because compared to what I was doing, this feels like refining... It's all relative, isn't it...

So, after reading your blog last night, Cass, and the link to the other blog, I've tried this morning to be conscious of praising and punishing...

It didn't take long to realise how much this is a part of how I parent my big boys. Bryn I don't do this with - that I'm aware of yet, anyway.

I needed to do a quick tidy up here, because I have a friend coming over. My plan was for me to do the dishes and the kitchen, for Dave to do the toilet and bathroom and for the boys to tidy the loungeroom of toys. Straight away Luey asked what would happen if he didn't tidy up. I said nothing would happen. So, he proceeded to sit on the couch and chatter while the rest of us cleaned up. I felt so much resentment toward him, every sound he made irretated me and at one point I said, "If you're not going to help clean up, then at least don't distract the rest of us from what we're doing". My tone was very strained. Then I was thinking, I hadn't asked Dave to help, I'd told him to help, and basically if he didn't help, I'd want to make him "pay" for not helping me so I'd probably rant at him about how I have to clean up after everyone in this house, blad, blah, blah...

As I was doing the dishes, I was thinking about all of this. How I don't love anyone unconditionally really, I love people when they're nice to me and helpful to me, but when they thwart me or upset me I really just want them to feel my pain. This is, of course, what happened to me as I grew up.

So, here I was thinking how I need to let go. This is the ultimate "taking personal responsibility" - that thing I so very much enamoured with. If I want something done, I need to do it. I can ask for help, but I can't make people help me, or make them pay for not meeting my needs.

But anyway, as I was reflecting on this, I could feel my anxiety and tension rising and rising to a point where I was stifling a scream and the need to lash out at someone or something. This is quite scary. I don't know what to do with that energy. I don't know why I have that energy build up. The anxiety is like a churning ball of fire in my stomach, and all my muscles .

I've told the boys a half a dozen times this morning that I'm feeling tense and angry and I'm trying really hard not to get act out my anger. I've just told the boys to go away from me, because I feel like I'm about to explode, and if I go away, like into my room their jumping around the living room sword fighting is going to enrage me further. Even now, they're in their room jumping around and laughing and I want to punch a hole in the wall. What's more, I feel like sending them away from me is a punishment. It's certainly not unconditional. I don't know what to do about this anxiety...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Waves

Here's is my beautiful baby sporting his new FABULOUS Starashan reversible pants!!! Groovy, aren't they?! They have the same wavey material on the reverse side, except in browns...
As seen on the pockets and the folded up cuff! I'm totally in love with these pants, hehehe! They're so him, happy and calm all at one (ok, yes, I'm completely ignoring those times when he screams blue murder like today when he was no longer welcome to wade in the dogs bowl at Leah's and further cover these gorgeous pants in dirt and mud - I quickly rinsed and dried them and mummy-order was restored, but the boy was NOT happy about having to stay inside for the rest of the visit...)...

Bryn is standing is HIS (just ask him!) newest acquisition (I think Liam might have something to say about that one, Bryn...). This booster seat or "chair" as he calls it, has taken pride of place in the middle of the loungeroom floor where he can survey his kingdom and sit and quietly drink the dregs of Dadda's tea...

He said his first proper sentence this morning, and it was all at once a moment of pride and horror for this poor mum, hahaha! I was sitting at the computer chatting to Sherrin or Leah, and Bryn was playing on the floor, or so I thought... I hear him making slight odd sounds just beyond my line of sight on the other end of the table and I said, "What are you doing, Buddhi?" and clear as a bell he says, "I got this!" Uh-oh! "What have you got there?", no response - really what was I expecting??? So I got up and found him knuckle deep in the margarine, have no idea how he got that off the counter - he must be taller than I think! Luckily he was so enjoying the sensation of the margarine that he hadn't taken his hands out of it yet to touch any thing else, so it was simply a matter of gently restraining his wrists and getting the nearest teatowel and wiping the marg of his mitts... LOL, but yep, Luey's first proper sentence (containing subject, verb, object) was "I did it!" and Bryn's was "I got this!"...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

That sinking feeling...

Just got a call from Dave, and now I feel sick :(...

He went for his post scan consult about his knee, and found out he has not cartelage left in his right knee. A bit worse than we had expected, but that's not what is causing the sinking feeling. Apparently operating isn't the best choice. Apparently, an operation wouldn't make that much difference to him now, his knee would need to have seized up completely for an operation to make a marked difference on his daily pain levels, etc. So, he's been advised to lose some more weight and to take Glucosamene (sp?). That doesn't sound bad, does it? Well, it's made me feel completely ill, basically because he bought Glucosamene about 4-5 months ago, but doesn't remember to take it, and while he's lost 15kg in the past year and a half, he's stalled for the past six months, and well, being 48, his metabolism has probably slowed a lot, and he is already quite an active man...

Even if he loses a heap of weight, and strictly takes the pills each day, the relief from pain is expected to only be "manageable"...

So, the status quo changing is wholly reliant on him, and well, this is where I have to admit I don't really have much faith in him making any real changes (based on past behaviour). He's all "glass half full" about it, of course, because he doesn't have to have an operation. Says he'll just have work on losing the weight and taking the pills, and that there are other things he can do with the boys besides kicking the footy around...

Me... I could cry... I have been crying, in fact, I was crying so hard on the phone that I had to tell him I needed to go. Why? Becuase all I can see ahead of me is a lifetime of him complaining about the pain, being tired and irretable all the time, but worse, much worse... I believe the pain in his knee has been one of the main contributing factors to the fact that we haven't had sex in 2.5 years, and then that was only for 6 months after a 3.5 year platonic stint.

I've joked about this so much over the past 6 years that I've almost convinced myself it doesn't matter, but the flood of tears today is betraying my investment in the hope surgery was going to bring me... How can this be my life??? Right now, I just want to go eat my way through ilses 1 and 4 at Safeway, I mean what's the point of taking care of myself, really...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My parents wedding photos...

Yesterday I received a letter from my Nanna. It contained three photos - most contentious photos... My mum has often told me about these photos. They were from her receptions after she and Dad eloped. She had had them, amongst a quite a few others, including photos of me as a baby, and had asked my Nanna to take care of them while mum and dad lived in Iceland for a while. When they got back to Australia, my Nanna had claimed she never had them in her care, and therefore could not return them to mum... Mum was always sad and angry about this... Anyway, so yesterday I received three of the many photos my Nanna claimed never to have had...

Here they are...


This is my Langamma (great grandmother) Síta, my mum's paternal grandmother. She was the matriarch of the family for many, many years and a formidable woman! She died, aged 93, in the June of 1988, outliving three husbands and her only child, my grandfather... She didn't like Australia (lving here with the rest of my mum's family between 1969 and 1971, so the whole family, excepting my mum who had just married and had me on the way, had to move back to Iceland with her. They all missed Australia and all wanted to come back at some point (one of my Uncle's went to great lengths to train so he could move out here, but was turned down), but she didn't like it here, LOL...

ETA: I just noticed, right in the background there, there is the face of a man in profile. That man, I think, is my Uncle Paul (Dad's second brother) who died on his twentysixth birthday, about 10 years after this photo was taken...
From the left (back row); My amma (grandmother) Inga, Afi (grandfather) Haraldur, Grandad Bob, Langamma Síta, Uncle Jói (I think, could be Magnus, don't know if he was taller than Jói at that age), Uncle Pétur.
From the left (front row); Aunty Sýta (Langamma's namesake, different spelling), Aunty Helga, Aunty Gróa, and my dad's youngest brother, Uncle Robbie (who recently turned 40, hehehe)...


I wasn't really sure if I wanted to post this picture. I have mixed feelings about it. It's taken on May 8th, 1971, three days after my parents eloped, but the day they were supposed to have their big wedding. I believe my parents loved each other in a romantic sense, but the married was also a desperate bid for independence according to mum (at least, Dad doesn't talk about it, he says he loved mum, but then his actions towards her weren't loving, yk)... Dad got a bit pished at the reception, as you can see here. I can bet my bottom dollar he's telling mum how much he loves her, and I bet she's wondering just what she'd let herself in for... This was the beginning of 13 turmultous years, the first five of which were good, apparently (though there were very hurtful and sad things happening even then), the last eight, which I remember all too vivdly as not very nice at all... This is a bittersweet photo for me, they look like they're clinging to one another, more than hugging, and mum is holding dad up (which she did, emotionally, I think, though he always thought he was in control)...

Another thing that strikes me about this photo, besides my mum being so young, just 20, is she is wearing a red dress. I never saw her wear a red dress when I grew up. Red is the colour of vibrance and life, and my mum is full of life!. In this photo she was wearing a dress that was stylish and modern (for the times), it was SHORT, and spoke of confidence! This dress was like the last vestige of her youth. After this she was a wife and mother, then a single mother and full of responsibility. When they were married dad held the purse strings and mum could only buy clothes on sale from Kmart, and often bought neutrals because she could mix and match them better than the bold colours, often only getting one new item a year than had to fit in with a wardrobe already dated...

Of course, mum was still always fairly stylish (in my eyes), and made do, and eventually could afford to buy better stuff and more bold colours, but by then she was middle aged...

It's funny what old photos bring up, isn't it...

Monday, April 23, 2007

All sorts of great big boy stuff

First of all... ERIK READ DR SEUSS LAST NIGHT! That's right, yesterday he was buggering about in the loungeroom and I told him to go and do something constructive, "Go read a book in your room!" I suggested... "I can't read!" Came the reply... "Yes, you can, I countered, you can read enough now that you should be able to read Dr Seuss. Go get one, and I'll show you..." So, he came back with "One Fish, Two Fish" and we opened the first page, and he sounded out the words, and I scaffolded a little bit, and he went on to read 9 pages before saying he'd read enough!!! He read Dr Seuss! He was sooo excited and pleased with himself, and I was really excited for him!

Ok, as promised, photos of the boys in their "Underwater World" dressups for school today!

Luey the SCUBA diver...

Erik the Jelly fish...

The jelly fish attacks the SCUBA diver...

At assembly this morning the P-2 classes got to parade past parents and the rest of the school...

Luey chatting to a Mantaray classmate...

Erik and his best mate happened, just by chance, to choose the same thing to "be"!!! Great minds think alike!

Erik parading...

There were some great ideas for costumes, some bought, and some homemade...

Grey Nurse Shark...

Erm, "Ninja" Turtle...

Must be a rainbow fish - absolutely gorgeous, what a great idea!


Octopus...


The teachers got into the fun too, and obviously decided as a group to turn up as pirates... Luey's teacher is on the left...



Bryn holding Dadda's hand while watching the parade - you've got to be careful around all those sharks and jellyfish and pirates, you know...

And as it happened, today was the day Luey got his first award at school - for great writing - and I had a camera on me (with telephoto lense) to capture the moment!!!


Look, what I got, Mum!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Update on Planet Bryn...

Thought I'd do a bit of an update on Bryn (will do a post about the bigger boys later today or tomorrow)... Just because you can never hear enough about Bryn, or rather, I can't get enough of talking about him, LOL...

Thomas obsession: Yes, it's hit in a big way! On Thursday this week I decided I needed to do a few domestic things, and I really needed to do them without the limpet begging for boob every two seconds... So, I put on a Thomas DVD for the Buddha boy. He calls Thomas "Tomma", but if you call Thomas "Tomma" he'll correct you with greatindignation in his voice, "No Tomma! TOMMA!!!"... Ok, so now I'll admit that when the DVD came to an end I had managed to get the dishes done, the bread kneaded and rising, and half the vegies cut for dinner, I acquiessed to demands ("Tomma, Tomma, TOMMA" in chant like fashion) for another screening of Thomas... About half way through the second screening I sense Bryn was no longer "present", ie. that he'd dozed off, and I came around the corner and found this...



Funky little dude: I LOVE dressing Bryn up, and he has such a funky little personality that he really just carries most things off brilliantly. Here he is modelling a pair of longies I've made to sell... They're a bit big on him (size 2 and he's not wearing a cloth nappy, so bit of a skinny bum - as much as HE can be anyway)... He's such a little groover, he was grooving away to "Rockwiz" last night, as on every Saturday night, and then backed up for some Grundge on Rave (and then I finally got the groovemeister to nod off!)...



Hide and seek: Ok, so maybe his TOM isn't very well rounded, hehehe! His new fascination is with hiding behind this curtain in our diningroom. He squirrels in behind the net curtain, with his back to the room and his hands over his eyes so he can't seen anyone and he hides (ok, behind a curtain suggests he has SOME understanding that it's not enough just to cover your eyes, but it's a seethrough curtain, LOL), then as Dave or I slowly approach he breaks into fits of giggles - it's so cute! Not so cute today when he decided he needed to mark the spot as his own today by drawing on the wall there, but at least he was considerate enough to use a pencil, not permanent marker (which is Luey's fave medium)...






Phrases: He's now regularly putting two words together. Last night Dave was giving him raspberries on his belly and he was trying to push Dave away but also laughing (so Dave wasn't getting the message), so he piped up with a firm, "Dadda, STOP!"... This morning it was the usual, "Tomma, Tomma, TOMMA!", but when that didn't get the correct response it was "DO TOMMA!"...

Not a phrase, but last night he was telling us the curtain was heavy, so now he's adding adjectives to his repetoire too...

Friday, April 20, 2007

And now for something completely different... 100% Contentment...

Was just watching Oprah, she and a friend did a roadtrip across America, and on one of the days they stopped and spent some time with an Amish family. She was questioning them about their life and why they chose their live; what it for religious reasons or some other reason. This farmer and his wife said it wasn't actually for religious reason, but to live seperately from society. He also said he was 100% content with his life.

This made me think, Oprah was saying she had never met anyone before who could say they were 100% content with their life. The farmer's wife said, they also chose to be content, to make themselves feel content. This really resonated with me. It is that part of the Law of Attraction that I sometimes feel many people don't get. Contentment isn't about never having to struggle, or having everything easy.

In a way, in our society we work hard at making things easier. Streamlining our lives, creating 3 step cooking of meals, or machines that do our work for us (washing machines, computers, cars)... We aren't more content for it. We seem to have lost the ability to create contentment, to accept the good with the bad, and be happy.

Though it will never happen (for so many reasons), I've often thought how I'd like to be Amish, to live in a community of people who work together, who have strong social rules an a relatively hommogenus society and set of values. To just let go of our modern society and live seperately and focus on being part of a community where everyone understands the very need in humans to share the load.

Also, the talk came up about monogamy, about no premarrital sex, and about whether or not it was scary to imagine only have sex with one other person your entire life. The farmers wife said it was scary to think of having to have sex with several different partners in a lifetime - as though that was an expectation - but isn't it though, isn't that the whole idea of having sex before marriage, to see who you are compatible with - which requires you have someone to compare with right, so at least two partners. The farmer said there is no divorce, but also no adultery that he has ever been aware of. They said if you are having trouble in your marriage you are encouraged to work together to sort things out, and there is also counselling (I take it that would be through the church), but also it is accepted that when you get married it is for life.

So, basically, this lifestyle comes down to limited choices, but with limited choices comes contentment! In our society we have almost endless choice, but are we content? Am I content?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ok, my missing post on intelligence...

I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of intelligence.

Have been for as long as I can remember, probably from when I was first told I'd score high on a IQ test (as part of assessment through school to try and figure out what my "issues" were, seeing I was taught myself to read and write before going to school, but I really wasn't doing that well in school, was very easily distracted and distracting to other children, threw tantrums, stormed out and generally made life hell for my teachers and my parents...

Back then I scored 135, I was considered to be gifted.
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As and adult I've been obsessed with proving to myself (and others) that I am intelligent, despite not being "successful" in a wealth and fame sense. I'm not a surgeon, or a great artist, or any kind of groundbreaking inventor or anything... Being considered intelligent is important to me, and I'm constantly testing myself. I am sitting here cringing as I write this, and maybe I won't post this this time either. It's not socially acceptable to discuss intelligence lest you hand someone else and inferiority complex on a platter.

The Bell Curve tells us only a very small percentage of people can be above average intelligent. To get around this, we of course, all agree there are many kinds of intelligence, and intelligence and commonsense are not synonymous. In our society we at once want to put "intelligent people" on a pedastal and we want to cut them down, so they don't feel they're better than the rest of the population.

The thing is, I don't think most intelligent people actually believe they're better than the rest of the population. There are a few egomaniacs out there who do, of course, mostly they suffer from low self-esteem, which isn't helped by having other people constantly telling them they aren't better than anyone else.

Secretly, I think many parents scan their babies faces for a glimmer of something that will say, this child has something more than other children. I know I do. There, I've said it! I do want my children to be somehow special in a way that others can appreciate - intelligence is the key to that. I want my children to be special to other people because they are special to me. This is also, I believe, the key to people feeling the need to put forward their children's achievements - it's pride in your child, it's a way of saying, look how wonderful my child is, because parents - in the vast majority - DO feel their own offspring are extraordinary, and when another parent voices that THEIR child is extraordinary, there is this deep seeded need in us to equalise, because really, honestly no one can love a child as much as the child's own parents and yet each of us parents feels other should love our child as much as we do, LOL...

But back to me...

So, as an adult, I've taken IQ tests online. I don't take the kind of IQ tests you find on "Take this test and find your perfect match" sites, but seek out tests run by Universities, for research and that kind of thing. Yes, I KNOW they aren't taken under controlled conditions, and I know they cannot be validated, but they can reveal a pretty close approximation to the real thing, if you are honest and just do the test straightforwardly.

Ok, so I've done a number of these tests over the years since having the kids, and I always get between 125-129, so below what I got as a kid.

The latest test I did was through an institute in the US which has developed what it believes to be the best (read: most accurate for what it is) online IQ test. I did have to pay a nominal fee for the results, which I know people will think is dodgy, but the fee was explained as being an insurance against people cheating themselves and the institute to better their results etc. and to help finance further research into IQ.

Ok, so I got 125, as before. The difference this time was that the test results not only broke up the tests areas into verbal, spatial etc. but also in verbal knowledge and performance. That is raw understanding versus reaction time and performance on the test. In the verbal I scored 138.8, and in performance I scored 106 - which backs up what I was told as a child. Namely, my vision impedes my performance on these tests.

Now I can't tell you why, I've been trying to think this over for a long while now, but this has somehow calmed me. It has helped me accept that I'm somehow not a fraud just because my life isn't extraordinary. It has also gone some way to helping me allow myself to acknowledge that I am intelligent, more intelligent than average, and that isn't a thing to be shy about or embarrassed over.

I still look for signs of intelligence in my kids, and I see them. In the past I have been shy to tell others about them because I felt like people would just assume I was crapping on, making stuff up or being obnoxious.

You know what though. I don't want my kids to by shy about get certain concepts quickly, or being able to retain information, or having a talent that not everyone has in abundance. I don't want them to feel this need to prove themselves that I continue to struggle with. There is plenty of room in this Universe for all the very intelligent people out there - in all their forms; mental, physical, emotional and psychological. I love to talk about how smashing my kids are, and I love to hear about how smashing other people's kids are. I believe each parent in every anecdote they tell about their kids to show just how brilliant they are!

What gets me is when people feel the need to say, "That's not special, it's common" or "She's thinks her kids are so great, better than other people's kids" (you know, in that tone that says, they're not really)... Well, *news flash* people, everyone thinks they're own child is extraordinary, this is the mechanism that would have us jump into traffic to save our kids... When someone says their child is brilliant, they're not saying your child isn't. Yes, there is that Bell Curve, but we need many, many Bell Curves to cover all the different ways people can be extraordinary. No form of extraordinariness is more valuable than another, so there is no need to feel put down, or to try and bring down other people.

This is where my previous post about talking comes in. I knew from the start my boys were extraordinary (in fact, I knew they would be before they were even conceived!)... But one didn't speak until very late. I also know this has no bearing on intelligence. Therefore when I say another one of my children spoke from very early on, I'm not saying he was more intelligent than his brother. I am, however, still very interest in why some children speak very early and others don't, what motivates some children in this way, and others not?

As well as this, I was mulling over why when one parents shares their children's achievements, other parents chafe at the bit to come back with their own tales of brilliance in their children (not least of all, ME)... These things fascinate me. I don't think it's about competing in it's truest sense, it's more about parents bursting with pride about their own child, and wanting to share the love, LOL.

Gosh, see this is why I didn't post my last post on this topic... It became long an rambly and circular, just like this one...

Needless to say (but I will anyway), this is a topic I dwell on a lot. My self-esteem has long pivoted on my intelligence (hell, I'm not a supermodel, and I'm not the most charming person out there either, so this is what I've got to make me special, LOL), but it has also been my biggest esteem buster because I've long been afraid that maybe the thing I base my self-esteem on is just a mirage... Like I said before, I don't want my children growing up with this "issue", so I'm trying to work through it...

Thinking about talking...

Reading Cass' blog post yesterday about how many words Harry has, and started counting up Bryn's words. Unlike Harry's stunning 180 words (and probably more by now) vocab, I could only recall about 44 words Bryn had said (and not necessarily more than once)...

Now, I was still pretty impressed with Bryn's vocab because at this age Erik had about 10 words, and 3 of those were made up, LOL... I never counted Luey's words because, well, he spoke early and though not clearly, he spoke far too much for me to even think I could count his words.

At ages nearly 6 and 8, you couldn't tell now that Erik didn't speak until late, or that Luey was an early and prolific speaker. Both boys have extensive vocabularies on all manner of topics.

But still, I've been thinking about this a bit over the past half day or so. After listing Bryn's words yesterday, I've listed more today, about 18 more words today. Eight of those words a brand new, from today; Elijah, School, Stuck, Stick, and Tall. This got me thinking, was it just that I hadn't heard him say these words before, or maybe he's going through some amazing developmental spurt... So, I had a look and found a document that talked about word development in toddlers. It said that 18 month old usually have between 50 and 75 words, and that 18-20 month old have a massive expansion of their vocabulary where they will add about 10 new words to their vocab EACH DAY!!! That totally blows me away! It said, some children add a new word every 90 minutes... My Goddess but we human as clever creatures!

Ok, so that doesn't account for Erik, or does it? Perhaps it does. Despite not actually speaking until much later, in comparison to Luey and Bryn, Erik's comprehension was just as advanced as theirs. His vocabulary hasn't suffered in the long term either. In fact, his vocab is as good and better than many of his peers at school. So, not speaking doesn't seem to reflect on comprehension or even ability to pronounce words - as Erik's pronounciation was much clearer at Luey's age, than Luey's is now. Not speaking may then only be a reflection of personal preference or temperament. Erik had not problems making himself understood without words, and he wasn't profficient in sign either. He obviously just didn't feel motivated to speak before he did...

Monday, April 16, 2007

School photos!

I'm putting in these pics of Dave first, for comparison, Dave was 5 and 6 when these were taken, around Luey's age... In the first picture, I can see more of a resemblance between Erik and Dave (and, Amanda, actually between Bryn and Dave around the nose/mouth). In the second picture though, the smirk Dave's mouth is forming is wholly Luey!!! This really surprised me, but when Luey is being mischievious that smirk creeps across his lower face, and the chin is all Dave (Luey will end up with a Roger Ramjet chin, and a big Jewish nose, poor kid, LOL - at least his face will be balanced - Dave is saying we should hold judgement on what Luey's face may look like when he's older, I don't think he likes my projections)...



Aren't these a couple of the most handsome little guys you've ever seen??? I'm *BURSTING* with pride!!! As Dave put it, "They're bloody good looking compared to the rest of the butt ugly refugees from the horror movies"... Ok, he INSTANTLY regretted saying that when he saw the glint in my eye that marked that statement as "quoteable for the blog" - so, just for the RECORD, he was only joking and voicing his fatherly pride...

But still, have been coming back to these pics all evening. I've really enjoyed the opportunity to compare the boys features side by side with a completely neutral background, and almost identical expression on their faces. Feature for feature, these two boys are COMPLETELY different; different shaped noses, eyes, ears, chins, head, hair line, cheekbones, smiles, even bottom lips... It's amazing, I have so often seen similarities between them, but when I look closely (narcissistically!), I see just how completely different they are. Erik takes after Dave a lot (anyone else thing Erik is kind of George Clooney-ish around the eyes), and Luey is this perfect blend on my dad's family and my mum's... My Dad's teardrop nose, my mum's family elfish face-shape...

Anyway, just had to share...

ETA: Ok, Jen, I've come back an edited quite a bit since you read this, LOL, I had to fix my misquote of Dave... So, wanted to add... I had to laugh, Erik's eyes are so open and honest looking, and yet, this is the kid we struggle with getting to be, um, truthful shall we say... And Luey's eyes are so soft and gentle looking, and he has a bit of an aggressive streak in him (he's feisty like his mum)... But still, Erik is the most honest "expressor" of his true feelings, I know, he wears his soul on his sleeve and that's reflected in those big clear eyes. And Luey is also our most physically affectionate child, he loves nothing better than an extended snuggled on the couch! So, those eyes, while deceptive are also quite profound windows into their little (not so little) souls...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Outdoor Play


Today, the last day of the school holidays, saw Dave taking the older boys out on and outing to the National Victorian Gallery in the city to see and interactive exhibit by one Ólafur Elíasson, Danish (must actually have Icelandic parents though, must just be born in Denmark, because that's an Icelandic name) artist living in Germany who likes to investigate how people percieve their environments, or some such thing. Anyway, this guy has set up this structure of all white lego block buildings that visitors can add and contribute to. So Dave took the boys to see it and add to it, well Erik anyway... Luey, apparently really wanted to destroy one part of it (wonder what they would have made of THAT interaction, LOL, as valid as it may be)... Dave didn't let him go with that impulse, I might have...

Meanwhile, Bryn and I stayed home and had a visit from Sarah, Phil and Asher (to check out my treadmill which they may be buying from me)... After they left, Bryn had a SHORT sleep, and then I set him up on the front porch to play with some homemade playdough, and I made the most of the quiet and lovely lighting and took some photos...



Bryn wasn't as interested in "working with" the playdough, as eating it, or just squashing it into the verandah, but I did manage to catch him in the few moments it piqued his interest...


Climbing and hanging of the verandah fence was heaps of fun though, and it didn't taste too bad either (really hoping that's not LED paint, eek)...


Bryn's pretty sure he's *just about* tall enough for Luey's bike, and besides, it's not like Luey rides it that much these days, is it, hehehe...


Taking a rest after lots of toddling about. He really liked the relative freedom of being able to wander about at will on the verandah (I'd set up a barrackade at the end open end of the verandah). Bryn doesn't get to roam the yard much, because he can, and does let himself out the unsecured front gate (and we got this place because of it's high fences and huge barn gate, but that's before the bloody thing started to fall apart, wasn't it)... Will definitely have to do more of this while the boys are at school.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tying up loose ends...

Couldn't think of a good title for today's post because I want to talk about a few things, and update on a few things...

Erik: Have gotten a referral for Erik to attend the Behaviours Clinic at The Royal Children's Hospital here in Melbourne. There I'm hoping they'll be able to assess Erik's situation and behaviours and tell me whether or not there seems to be a problem that they may or may not be able to help me deal with. If there is no problem, then I can at least tell the school, and other people, that Erik's behaviours are within the normal range and with continued parenting he will eventually develop his own impulse control and understanding of how his actions impact on himself and on others. The referral was faxed through yesterday, so now I have to wait for them to contact me by mail with an appt. date and time. I was told that it will likely be June, unless someone cancels before then.

Still on Erik, he went to a rollerskating rink with his friend yesterday and had an "Awesome time!"... Apparently, he rollerbladed one circuit of the rink with his eyes shut! He was very proud of that!!! Geez, that sounds EXACTLY like something I would have done at his age...

I'm so grateful for this friend of Erik's and this boy's family! They are lovely people, and when I dropped Erik off yesterday I was invited in for coffee and got a chance to have an extended chat with C's mum, M... She really is lovely. She knew I was getting a referral for Erik and from which medical centre and asked me which dr I saw. Turns out her dr is the dr who referred me to my first counsellor when I had PND after Luey's birth. The dr who told me to put Luey in a room at the other end of the house so I couldn't hear him scream. I told her this and she was appalled and said, "Wow! My kids slept in my bed till they were four!" OMG, I could have hugged her!

How awesome, as Erik would put it! Turns out too, that her dh is very politically aware and a member of the ALP, sounds like someone Dave would get along with, LOL. Her older son is into fantasy art - again like our family (Dave and my brother being in the Aussie comic book community)...

So, anyway, so after I arrived, Erik's friend's older brother's friend turned up with his mum. This boy suffers with terrible, terrible psoriasis, worse than Erik's, so bad in fact that he is undergoing 5 minute long UV treatments (when I had UV treatments I was under the light for up to 30 seconds at a time!!!)... Anyway, this boy's mum had been wanting to meet me because she used to work at the Swinburne Student Union at the same time as Dave, and while she never knew Dave personally, she knew of him, and she also knew all the bullshit that had gone on there before the Union was shut down... So, she lives just a few streets away from us, and has offered to pick up the boys from schools sometimes, if I want, when she picks up her own son, who is in grade six at the same school!

I just feel like my social network is growing so much all of a sudden. I already have many wonderful friends here in Melbourne but barring one, all of them live quite a long way away, and so to start to make acquaintences in the same suburb, who actually share similar values, is just amazing!

The icecream van: Luey wasn't really happy to leave C's place yesterday after we dropped Erik off. While he understood that we'd already been to HIS friends house the previous Sunday, yesterday wasn't Sunday and he wanted to be doing something fun with friends yesterday too... So, to help him not feel left out I took him and Bryn to evil Maccas, where he chose a pasta meal - which I suppose isn't quite as evil as a happy meal... Eating lunch there yesterday was such a strange experience. Whenever I got out with one big boy and Bryn, it's always so much calmer than when I got out with both big boys together (even if I don't have Bryn with me)... After lunch and some errands we went home... We'd been home for an hour or so when I heard an Icecream van trundle along our street. Now unlike most other parents, I've been WAITING for an icecream van to stop near our house for about 7 years, so the boys could experience buying icecream from a van outside their house. I've only ever heard 4 in 7 years, and the other three always parked somewhere too far away from us to organise money, and kids and get there before they take off...

This guy parked literally right outside our house, so I grabbed my purse and both the boys and went out and ordered two icecreams, one in a cone with a flake bar in it for Luey, and one plain one in a cup for me and Bryn... OMG! those two icecreams cost $9.50!!! LOL, well Luey has had the experience now, so that's ticked off my list and I won't be doing that again, rofl! Anyway, so Luey told me that yesterday was just "The best" day, hahaha, so mission accomplished.

There were other things I was going to write about, but this is long enough already, so another time...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One more thing...

Oh dear, the list of things Dave is putting off doing grows ever longer... It seems there is some cause for concern when it comes to his workplace. The business owner has a case of Ostrichitis... He hasn't been putting as much into his business as in previous years, and in the wake of recent changes in legislation (about 15 months ago), the business is faltering. Unfortunately, said business owner has a couple of new priorities, and when it was pointed out to him that his employee were concerned for the future of the business, he took it as a criticism and accused the bearer of the message (Dave) of scaremongering...

It was obvious to me, even before this, that Dave would have to start looking for another job very soon (yesterday if possible), because 15 hours a week just isn't enough. We can scrape by but well, who wants to live like that???

Anyway, now it's apparent that if Dave doesn't find a job soon, he will end up on the dole when the business collapses. It's much harder to get a job when you're not already gainfully employed, as they say...

BUT, Dave is not a doer... The ongoing saga with the missing lisence, the sleep apnoea and other things is evidence enough that the likelihood is that Dave will just let this slide until he is indeed retrenched/fired/let go...

I feel resigned to this because I just don't want to feel frustrated any more. I'm scrambling to keep things together financially atm, and Dave just isn't pulling his weight. He sorta, kinda knows it, but I have a feeling I need to sit down and write it out in big red letters for him, with accompanying diagram (as one friend is prone to saying about her partner)...

Talked to my counsellor today about Erik and getting him assessed. She feels there might be something worth investigating having her my description of Erik lack of impulse control. At first she was thinking it might just be that Erik is in a new environment (at school) and trying out the new set of boundaries but when I told her that he's always been impulsive like this at home as well, she changed her mind on that (all this before responding to my story)... She's recommended I call the Children's Hospital and ask to speak to the social serivces department, and to as for a recommendation of a good paed to have Erik assessed.

She also recommended contacting the school prep co-ordinator and the school counsellor with regard to both the boys' behaviour at school, and basically ask for a meeting where I can state our family values and also our parenting practices and get feedback from them as to whether or not they feel there is more we could be doing (which she doesn't think there is), and thereby getting them to acknowledge their own responsibility for the kids during the day...

She says I should get Dave to contact the school, and take on that responsibility, so I'm not doing it all myself. I'm afraid though that he just won't do it... Like everything else he'll make all sorts of positive sounds, and then sit on his laurels...

Monday, April 09, 2007

He must be having a developmental explosion, rofl...

Ok, two more stories about Bryn from today...

The first one could just be mimicking, but still...

Erik and Luey had a fight and Luey came off worse for wear, crying loudly that Erik had kicked him in the willy (geez, that was nice Erik)... Anyway, Luey is telling us all about and crying and Erik is arguing that it was an accident, though we can tell it was a retaliatory move after Luey had previous hit him on the head, but apologise, Erik had accepted the apology waited a minute and then kick Luey when his guard was down...

Bryn was quite concerned about Luey and pointing at him and babbling loudly with a look of concern on his face. I was listening to Luey and trying to reassure him that we did believe his claims against Erik, and at the same time trying to acknowledge to Bryn that Luey was upset because he'd been hurt. Bryn obviously felt we weren't consoling Luey adequately enough, and he tried to hug Luey. Luey, because he was still upset moved away from Bryn (Luey doesn't like to be hugged until he is ready which Dave and I know how), so Bryn tried again. Luey wasn't really aware of what Bryn was trying to do (console Luey), so moved away again, still crying loudly. Bryn was gesturing and babbling loudly trying to get me to hug Luey, but I was trying to get Luey to calm down first so he would accept physical comfort. Then it dawned on me what Bryn was getting at, and I told Luey that Bryn was trying to give him a hug and make it better. So Luey let Bryn hug him, which Bryn did, moving away again briefly and then coming in for a second hug. Then I offered Luey a hug, and by this stage Luey was ready for that and we hugged too, with Bryn coming over to hug Luey a third time.

Babies Bryn's age aren't supposed to feel empathy yet as they're not supposed to understand that others have feelings. Often babies this age mimick empathy though because they are slowly becoming socially aware and are mimicking what the adults around them model. I could put this down to simple mimicking, but in the light of Bryn's exhibiting TOM last night, I'm now wondering if he isn't feeling empathy too...

Ok, AND I've been teaching him the sign for "Please" (I'm actually using the sign for "thank you" because it's easier than the sign for please) in the past few days because it irretates me that he pulls at my clothes and yells "Meh, meh, meh", so I've been asking for stuff from him using the sign for "please", and today when he asked for Meh, I asked him if he could say please with his hand and he did!!! Then he said please for me, too (putting the palm of his hand to MY chin), LOL, too cute, if he has to say please, then so do I!

Ok, so don't laugh but...

Well, after posting last night about Bryn's (obviously not that extraordinary) exhibition of Theory of Mind last night - where he attempted to deceive me by surreptiously hiding a piece of jewellry he'd taken off me and I was asking him to return, something else happened later last night that left me gobsmacked...

Bryn had gone to bed at about midnight (after a three hour nap in the afternoon that left him full of beans most of the evening), and Dave and I went to bed at about 2am - we'd been watching the third episode of The Lord of the Rings (and now I'm thinking if I have a girl next I have to call her Eowyn Dis, rofl)..

So, when I crawled into bed, Bryn was fast asleep. Now, he usually stirs within 10 minutes of me getting into bed (like the typical little boobie monster he is, hehehe), so I lay there just waiting for him to sense my pressence. As I lay there I heard him whisper A CLEAR AS A BELL, "Mum, I want some Meh" (meh is our word for boobie). I was completely gobsmacked! His pronounciation was VERY clear. But then he continued to sleep. About 30 seconds later he mumbled something else that I couldn't understand, was just baby babble. Then about 15 seconds after that he started to stir and came over for meh...

So, what I'm thinking is his subconscious had detected my pressence and he was thinking, Mum, I want some meh, and has formed the words subconsciously, whereas in a conscious state he finds it difficult to form words BECAUSE he is actively trying to - sort of like when you walk a tightrope, if you look at the tightrope you find it more difficult to balance than if you just look straight ahead and left you feet find the rope subconsiously.

We are constantly hearing half formed words come out of his mouth, and we know he KNOWS the right words to use in a situation but is struggling with consciously forming those words...

I was just stunned with the clarity of the whispered words last night, wow!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Delights

After receiving a lovely Easter card in the mail from my Nanna, also containing some money for the boys, which was extremely well timed. I decided to hand make some cards for her from all of us as a thankyou and to wish her a Happy Easter...






The boys wrote in their card, and did a fabulous job!

Then today (Easter Sunday), we headed off to the Great Annual Easter Egg hunt at the Bibby household (Liam B is a classmate of Luey's)... Each boy sporting the obligatory BIG basket which I decorated with ribbons for them last night... Butter wouldn't melt, they're all so handsome and gorgeous and cute!


The calm before the storm at the Bibby's... Note all the baskets on the table ready for the hunt...

Lily Bibby making a get well card for her aunt who couldn't make it today... Do you guys remember me mentioning a girl who was directing Luey and another girl in play, on Luey's first day at school? Well, this is her!

Before the hunt there was a game of pass the eggl the kids were divided into a boys team and a girls team, and they had to first pass a large choccie egg between each team member, from chin to chin, no hands (the girls won!) and then they had to do it again with a small choccie egg (the boys won!)...

Then prizes were handed out for the kids baskets, Erik won a prize for the most Golden basket...

And Luey for the Bluest basket...

As a prize they did a lucky dip in which they could get a choccie egg or bubbles...



The the Easter bunny was sited outside!

And there was a rush on to get to the front door...

Outside there were MILLIONS of eggs and containers of bubbles to be had for one and all!

As you can see, Erik is VERY good at finding Easter eggs...

A group photo of all the kids with their quarry! Note Luey stuffing his gob up the back there...

Most of the kids with their baskets...

To make it fair to one and all, the eggs were all dumped out of each individuals basket onto the dining table, where a game of Simon Says ensue... "Simon Says hands on head... Simon Says everyone grab a chocolate bunny... Simon Says hands on nose... Simon Says everyone grab two mini eggs..."

Erik made sure both he and Bryn got their share...

Luey doing Hands on Chin...

Luey with his basket full of eggs...

Erik stuffing his face... The look in his eyes says, "I'm so full I feel sick, but I MUST KEEP EATING... There's a whole 'nother year till next Easter..."

Bryn looking at his treasures...

Choccies Eggs rain from the sky, don't you know! The Easter Bunny must live up there...

And calmed reigned again as the adults recovered from the excitement over a cuppa or two...


Erik tells me this was the best day in his life, EVER!!!

Teenagers and the failing parent...