Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday mornings

On Tuesday mornings we have to be at school by 7:30 for music.

Thomas is not, much to my disappointment as I just loved it at school, a big fan of playing music. We have tried guitar and clarinet but he really doesn't enjoy it much and I had (in old school) given up and accepted that it was not his thing. But in this school all the grade 4s and 5s have to do band. And that involves being at school by 7:30 in the morning once a week on a Tuesday.

Because of the need to drop Al off a bit later and because it is just too hot to ride (39 degrees yesterday) we have started catching the bus to school, especially on Tuesdays. Gaye then takes Al into little school by car and drops the car off at my parking place at work so I can pick the boys up without everyone frying. (Bring on autumn so we can ride again)

Thomas really does not like the fact that he has to get up at 6:00. He has to because it takes him at least an hour to dress, eat, feed the dog and put his lunch in his bag in the morning. That is right four things 1. eat the food put in front of him 2.Dress in a t-shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, sunscreen and teeth 3.feed half a cup of dried food to the dog and give him clean water 4.put lunch that has been made for him in his bag.

On Tuesdays I just don't worry about his 'jobs' ie: walking the dog, making the bed and putting out the rubbish. Because that would mean we would need to get up at 5:30.

See so that is, like, 15 minutes per task or maybe 20 for the dressing and 10 for the dog. He tells me it is completely impossible to do that.

Monday, February 22, 2010


We are a bit sad in Toaster town.

A very dear friend of Gaye's and good friend to all our family, Carol, died last week. Carol was an exceptional woman and her community contribution enormous. So much so there has been a research fund in her name and Gaye has put plenty of energy assisting with the establishment of this in the past months as her friend was dying. Carol was excited about the fund and what it represented and it has been a bit of a blessing for Gaye as she has poured all her sadness into action.

For Gaye this is an incredible loss, and that is not for me to blog about. But it has also been a big loss for our family ... and for me, as I mourn the loss of a friend, mentor and supporter, it has been a time of also thinking about how to walk the boys, Thomas in particular, through grief.

Carol was a big part of our lives, sharing in big and small family events and spending many an hour in tea fueled conversation about the boy’s development, milestones, trials and tribulations. Carol was a fan of our two boys and they of her. Always pleased to see each other, no matter how much time had passed between visits it was always comfortable and fun to have Carol at our home. Her visits were filled with laughter, shocked expressions, raised eyebrows and gossip er, debriefs. We talked about work, politics, public policy, our friends, her grandkids and our boys. We ate and talked and talked and ate.

I can't tell you how impossible it is to believe that this life-filled person is no longer with us. All the way through her funeral there was this sense of unbelievability about it, surely at any moment we could turn around and talk to her about what people were saying and doing in their grief.

We remained hopeful - perhaps in denial of reality - of a good or better outcome until only a short while ago. But at the same time we were open with the boys, Thomas in particular, that she was very unwell but fighting, very unwell but trying so hard to stay with us and her family for as long as she could.

Once we became aware that this was a fight she couldn't win we talked about that with him too. He broke my heart each time we talked about it, 'is there no crack not even the smallest crack in the door Mum that she can win?''what if we took her to another doctor, one far away?' Her grandchildren had similar and even more heart wrenching conversations with their parents. Making bargains and hoping for another outcome.

Although Thomas has experienced some death in his life, Carol was the first person he really loved who died.

We all went up the funeral, Thomas and Al's first. It was a very child friendly funeral ... balloons, colouring in and stickers.

We took a friend to look after Al. Al at two is not aware of the loss or the meaning of it. But I feel so sad that he will not know Carol as he grows.

I was so proud of Thomas, he cried gently and easily, he spent a lot of time gauging the reactions of the other many children at the funeral aware that some had lost their nonna, he bravely sat on his own while Gaye spoke (and I stood by her) about her love for Carol and Carol's love for our boys, he went and got both Gaye and I a cup of tea without being asked at the wake he continues to be concerned (without being anxious) for Gaye as primary griever.

It keeps passing through my mind to tell Carol ....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thomas' first impressions

Thomas came home from his first day of school pretty impressed with new school.

Mainly he likes that he is expected to get about the school both in the morning and on the way to language and music classes on his own - rather that marched about in two lines from place to place.

He also thinks the canteen looks like a cafe.

And he got to choose his own buddy - apparently a good thing.

His main comment on the kids was that 'they sit up straight and listen all the time mum.'

Gaye and I almost wet ourselves at his story of getting lost thou.

After being told by the teachers at orientation 'not to worry about getting lost everyone does. Just remember you are in the Wright Building on level 1. That is right with a 'W', W R I G H T.'

Much to his embarrassment I made him practice walking into the classroom (two floors up, past reception, along the walkway, into the other building and down a floor) before we left.

One of the first things I asked him was 'how many times did you get lost'

'Only once Mum,' was his reply. 'It was because I was looking for the wong building - you know wrong without an r.'

That is one for the 21st....

That big boy is 11

Thomas turned 11 yesterday. And really we couldn't be more proud of him. He is really doing the transfer to the new school with a mature attitude and an open spirit. Makes a mumma's heart sing.

He was thrilled to bits with his i*pod n*anno and speakers telling me over and over that it was 'the best present of his life'

We celebrated with chocolate afternoon teas and dinner with Aunty Lou.

He took cakes to school and commented on how the kids were so lovely and all kept wishing him a happy birthday.

The party is to come - but the day it self was a very happy one.

Friday, February 05, 2010

what did little school say about his first day ...

Al’s First Day at Little School
3rd February 2010
We welcomed you today Al, as you arrived with your mum Clare, who spent some time with you as you familiarised yourself more with our morning tea routine.
You appeared so comfortable in your environment, a big smile appearing on your face as you looked around your surroundings. No doubt many of the things you saw were already familiar to you, as you’ve done quite a number of pre visits before your first day of care today. You only took a few bites of your morning tea (which was corn thins and apple slices), as there were so many distractions around you and you couldn’t help but get up from your seat and explore these.
When your mum left you kept that smile and continued to explore what was around you. You played with the toy cars, pushing these along the table; you also were drawn to the drawing experience a few times and made markings on the paper using textas. Drawing is an interest of yours, and this is something we can provide for you to engage in while at the centre. You pointed to the Thomas hats on the hooks and picked up a book on trains from the book shelf and looked at this. From speaking to both your mums we found out that you like trains, and you are already showing your interest in the objects with trains at the centre on your first day.
Inside you were quite interested on the beds on the floor and happily lay on a few of them, as if deciding which one is the most comfortable for you to lie in. Again you couldn’t sit for too long during lunchtime and just wanted to explore the indoor environment. This is understandable as everything is still a novelty for you and all you wanted to do this day was explore and engage in the experiences.
By now your day at the centre had ended, with Anmah (note that is me Clare!) picking you up early. It was great to see you so comfortable on your first day and no doubt you will enjoy the rest of your time at the centre. Welcome Al to Little School and to the Blue group!

He is as happy as a lark. Yesterday he was off to play not long after morning tea and today pushed Gaye out the door when they arrived with a 'byyyeee' He is not eating much there year but slept there yesterday for two hours...

Happy bubba, happy mummas

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Little School

Al starts childcare tomorrow. I admit to feeling a level of relief at the flexibility that childcare will bring that having a carer at home doesn’t. We can start and finish when we need to, and if that changes no-one will mind, if the carer is sick we will still have childcare and we will be able to leave the house without being concerned about the environment we are leaving for the child carer to work in.

But at the same time I feel more than a bit nervous. Al has terrible allergies to everyday foods and it takes a lot of attention to remember to wash your hands after wheat and not to have eggs etc. He isn’t speaking much yet and uses a combination of charm and signs to get what he wants and needs. Knowing he was home with someone who cared and was careful has eased my mind a plenty over the last eighteen months.

The centre – which we are calling ‘little school’ - has been so lovely to us and to him. They have come up with excellent plans to manage his allergies and have other children with allergies. It has a lot of green space around it which gives a sense that it is not right in the inner city (although it is).

On his orientation visits Al has seemed to love little school, he is keen to engage with the other kids, dancing and playing blocks. The have a huge sandpit and a cubby house – things he doesn’t get to play with at home. He is thrilled by the mini loos and yesterday sat and ate with his friends. His current carer and his grandmother who have both taken him on visits as well have commented on the friendly staff and Al’s comfort there.

We call it ‘little school’ by-the-way because of Beth Norling’s lovely book Little School I bought this book for Thomas before he started pre-school. It is so gorgeously illustrated and details simply the routine of a day at little school (with lots of different options) and all the action at home before and after. Al loves it , as did his brother.

I am probably a bit marred by the fact that Thomas started childcare just about this age, and despite a lovely environment, just around the corner from our then home (it was the childcare centre in the inner west at the time) – he walked back and forward entreating me to take him to work with us ‘I’ll be good mumma.’ After a few months we gave up and both worked part-time! He was completely fine 18 months later when starting pre-school, but he continues to be more of a homebody.

Al is a completely different sort of boy, highly social happy enough at two to run amuck with 500 primary school students at the Easter Hat Parade and over summer to dance at the camp ground disco in amongst a huge pile of much larger children while we stood by and watched from the sidelines. These are things Thomas never would have done or enjoyed these things at the same age and so hopefully this will also mark the difference in their responses.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Riding along on my push bike honey.....

One of my resolutions for 2010 was to ride my new bike to work at least three times a week.

Since working at this work I have walked, bussed and driven to work. Mostly I am ashamed to say the last as my day usually involves some sort of family pick up or drop off at school or the station at the beginning or the end of the day.

My work is only a ten-minute ride or a twenty-minute walk from home. This year, Thomas’ new school is a five minute ride/ten minute walk from my office, Al’s little school (which he starts this week) is five minutes ride from there and my office is about ten minutes on the bike from little school. ie: it is all close and doable on the bike.

Plus I really need to build in the exercise into my day to day life (this is the only way exercise works for me) and I fundamentally think it is better for the kids days to start with a bike, walk or bus ride to school.

I was full of plans to ride – and Gaye has made it as easy as possible for me by buying me a new bike as a birthday/Christmas present - I put a new seat on the back for Al as we found the front wee-rider a bit hard to peddle around (short legs!).

Al likes going on the back and we have been out for a few runs together.

I started the working year well riding three times during my first week back, but the following two weeks have been filled with commitments to drive Gaye’s Mum to little school or back with Al for his pre-start visits. (Grandma does not like to drive in Sydney).

Thomas was pretty reluctant, he is not an enthusiastic bike rider at the best of times – plus he has left over fear from a fall a few years ago. Plus he didn’t see any kids ride at new school and he is right at the age where it is very important to FIT IN.

Still we set out this morning, lifting his seat about 4 inches due to growth since he last rode it, and suddenly his big bike didn’t feel so big anymore. He was pretty thrilled. In an attempt to accommodate the “fit in” factor we locked our bikes at my work and then walked from there. Once at school we found the bike rack (what do you know many other kids ride to school) and when I pointed out that he would be able to ride from the main road along the path to school on his own (there is a lollypop man to assist with the only road crossing) while I went a bit further on to Al’s childcare he was sold.

The only downside? I was worried about running late to school and so wore my bike-riding outfit to walk Thomas. Ofcourse I ran into my always stylishly and well-presented friend Elissa, with helmet hair and a sweaty top but not on my bike!