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Sunday, 29 July 2012

An essential check-up for body and soul

Friday took Charlie and I to the Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) for a check up.

the hospital's front entrance

A visit to CHW always grounds us, and I'm thankful for that. We go there and roam the corridors and enter our various clinics and realise how 'able' we all are when we can get caught up with focusing on those things we cant do or dont do well. The worries we have about the delays Charlie experiences with his speech and motor skills seem such a waste of energy when we are surrounded once again by the colourful and differently abled children that fill the Children's Hospital. 

a quick shot of the central corridor

Charlie had a renal ultrasound which revealed that his kidney's are still rather small, although this may not pose difficulties in the future - it's a bit of a wait and see. Charlie tends to become a bit traumatised when we enter the doors of the hosptial. His usual carefree, easygoing nature becomes suspicious and even mistrustful. To the point that although he has been having ultrasounds, xrays, ct scans etc literally from the day he was born, each time we return to do one is like the first one ever.  I had to talk him into lying down, showing him that the instruments that were going to take pictures of his tummy were smooth and not sharp, like needles. We read books together and  played with the helicopter just to calm him down enough to let the operator touch him! After 35 minutes of picture taking (it's quite an involved test where he requires catheterising half way through) he fell asleep and slept for the rest of the test!
Then  we raced to our next appointment in Rehab, for the Spina Bifida clinic.

heading down to the Spina Bifida clinic

We raced down to the clinic to see all the doctors and medical staff who generally oohed and aaahhed over him. Everyone was impressed with his walking and his overall progress in all areas. He refused to let me have the dummy which was very frustrating, but otherwise he performed well and charmed them, as always. I told them that Charlie was enjoying kicking the football and he has been given permission to play soccer when he gets to Kindergarten which is very exciting! We also discussed how much he likes dancing - so we may even look to see if he can have some kind of dancing lessons.

let's go, Mum
So it was with a great sense of 'anything is possible' and overwhelming optimism that we left CHW and made our way home. With so much to look forward to maybe I'll mange to persuade him to give up that rotten dummy before he starts school!

During this past week, when I have been especially busy and back to running around to seemingly endless appointments for the children, I had a reminder to not 'sweat the small stuff'.  I have a friend who is currently coping with many cancerous tumours whilst also trying to fulfill an important dream for herself, her husband and 2 young sons.by attending the Olympics in London. Jane has struggled with cancer for a number years and has endured more pain and trials than I could possibly imagine. Her sheer vitality, strength and courage and her absolute refusal to let the cancer 'win' is inspiring to say the least. She makes the cliches into life lessons : such as 'that life is for living', the importance of 'making the most of every second' and to 'not get bogged down with the stuff that doesn't add to your life'.

So between Charlie, who is constantly redefining what is possible for him, and the remarkable strength and courage of Jane, I have two amazing reminders to start this week looking beyond the small, irrelevant frustrations of my daily life and to be mindful of the vitality in the people around me, the joy in my children and to continue to believe in and strive for my dreams....

Thank you Jane, for this important lesson on living better. My prayers are with you for less pain and greater enjoyment in London, a wonderful time in Hong Kong, and a smooth trip home.

Kate x

Monday, 23 July 2012

A fine romance....

Monday morning again, and finally everyone in our house is not sick ( I wouldn't say Ben is well). Normality is gradually descending upon our house once more. In the background I have Bach playing and the washing machine looking after the weekend's dirty clothes, because I didn't have a chance to catch up yesterday. You see Ben and I went away, for a whole, entire 25 hours on the weekend. Away from the children and the dog for the first time in nearly 4 years.

It is our 10th wedding anniversary on Friday and for a celebration I bought some luxurious, grown up  time at the Dreamcatcher Lodge just outside of  Picton. I know doesn't it sound exotic! Picton is not the first location one thinks of  for romance, like Paris or a South Pacific island, however, for us anywhere that doesn't have a playground attached or a kid's menu offered is an absolute aphrodisiac. 
It is also a bonus that it is only a 25 minute drive away...just in case something happened at home whilst Grandma and Papa were babysitting. 
an aerial shot of the main building at Dreamcatcher Lodge

We had our usual Saturday morning sports run around - Miranda to Gymnastics and Ned to soccer. Home for little pies and sausage rolls and Ben's parents arrival. We were out the door just before 2pm and went straight to the Lodge. It sits high on the hill on the road between Tahmoor and Picton, overlooking the countryside looking back towards Sydney. We received a very warm welcome from our hosts, Kathy and Greg and found that we were the only guests for the weekend and  that suited us fine. (We hadn't planned on going to make new friends.) Our room was lovely with a 'pacific' theme and with a lovely, restful green view.

I must say though that the only view that really mattered to us was looking at each other. It had been so long since we had had any 'couple time' that we really just wanted to soak each other up. I confess that I even felt a bit nervous of spending time alone with Ben again after such a long time. Does that sound silly? Like most couples, we are so used to grabbing moments together between the demands of our children that to have an entire 25 hours together without the children seemed somehow incomprehensible.

Two of Ben's greatest indulgences are a massage and a spa bath, and that is what our night away offered. We both had a 1 hour massage with a local masseuse (Marian at Karmarian Resort in Tahmoor) and when we returned to the B&B the deep 2 person spa bath in our room had been filled and decorated with candles and oils and a wonderful cheese board and a bottle of champagne!! WOW! 

the spa bath with candles, cheese board and champagne for two

This was followed by a two course meal served in our room as we sat in fluffy bathrobes, and followed by port and chocolates. I'm not going to tell anymore, but needless to say we looked at each other and we enjoyed the view.

candlelit dinner for 2 in our room 
We slept in on Sunday morning, although I awoke at 6.30 as per usual, however, I rolled over and slept some more. We finished off with breakfast with our hosts and a walk around their lovely property.

It has been a wonderful way to celebrate our 10 years of marriage. A romantic night away together filled with treats and luxuries effectively restores that intimacy so crucial in every relationship. We came home restored and refreshed... and in love, as always.

Thanks so much to our wonderful and generous Grandma and Papa for making our magical escape all possible by looking after our little-peeps and the dog. We hope that Papa continues to recover his health and they didn't wear you out too much!


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Holidays are over

Thanks for returning to the Mother Bond blog. I have taken an unscheduled break over the past 2 weeks to enjoy the Winter School Hols with Ben and the kids. Having everyone home for the holidays is definitely a bonus of having a partner who is a High School teacher. And I must say by the end of last week I had completely lost myself without the routine of school and appointments that I usually live by during the school term. So I'm afraid blogging didn't fit in.
Ned enjoyed his holidays and was very relaxed

I have been battling a bit of mania over the last few weeks, and that means I am cranky. I wish I could say that I become highly creative and bursting with positive energy and light when manic, but I dont, I just get irritable, which is no fun.  Luckily the days have been sunny and we've even had a little bit of warmth and that always improves my mood a bit. I have very little patience when I am manic, and too much energy that I need to divert appropriately so that noone gets wounded by my sometimes sharp words or the sounds of my exasperated sighs. No one wanted to read what was going through my head last week, and I wouldn't write it down!

So last Thursday Miranda and I did the sensible thing and had a very quiet day together whilst Ben took the boys to appointments and family in Sydney for the day. So my girl and I sat down to watch 'The Sound of Music'. It was the first time Miranda had watched it all and she was enthralled and I must say I enjoyed just enjoying it with her. Thanks Minnie xx

Miranda enjoying a hot chocolate on our Girl's Only Day

Having had a week off preschool, Charlie returned last Monday with much excitement. He has been trying to run lately with mixed results. His feet do not flex down, his ankles wont allow it. He can flex them upwards and they would naturally stay in that position if he didn't wear his special afo's (ankle foot orthotics) which train his feet to be flat on the floor. However, the afos are rigid and he has figured out that to run and jump and dance he has to use his ankles. I was lying in bed one morning last week and I heard the familiar sounds of Charlie plodding barefooted down the hall to our room, only I soon realised that the gait sounded different. He was trying to take smaller steps and kind-of spring along, and then, crash, he face-planted the floor. Bugger! Then at preschool last Monday he wanted to play 'tip' with another boy and took off downwards on a ramp, but his feet didn't respond to his will and imagination, and he face-planted the ramp - much to the horror of the staff. 
I think you can make out the mess it made of his nose below:
a scabby nose after a fall is typical for every 3 year old, including Charlie

Charlie got over it quickly, and I doubt he was too worried about the physical mark, but was disappointed about his legs not working the way he wanted them to. But, he continues to try to make his legs work and has developed his very own dancing style that amuses us all. Nothing keeps him down. Note to self : dont give up when it seems too hard even when you keep falling on your face!!...

Other than spending great quality time with the family, I have been trying to do some work on my business. I had some rack cards printed to distribute around the district, and I have made major alterations to the Mother Bond website which will 'all be revealed' shortly!! It's exciting and so rewarding to see it come together, at last.

Finally, for this post I send a special cheerio to my father-in-law who is ill in hospital this week. George is a very precious Dad (and Dad-in-law) and much beloved Papa, as well as a regular reader and supporter of my blog and we all hope you feel better soon George.xx 


Sunday, 8 July 2012

We're all going on a Winter Holiday!!

Hi and thanks for tuning in again after my absence. We've been away on our annual family holiday. 

Last week we went to Ulladulla on the south coast of NSW. It is a lovely 2 hour trip from the Highlands, down through Kangaroo Valley and along the coast. We make a habit of getting down there every year for a bit of (cheap, out of season) winter fun by the beach. 
we stopped for donuts and coffee in Berry

Ulladulla is set up for summer. In the summertime the town is swarming with people in thongs and board shorts. We are not really thongs and board shorts people, nor do we cope well in crowds. So we are more comfortable with Ulladulla in winter. The pace is slow and the temperature is mild.

Each year we hire a cabin and do very little other than beach walks, fish and chips, noodle from our favourite noodle shop, and a trip to Mogo Zoo. 
waiting for the white lions to appear on our visit to Mogo Zoo

"Not happy, Jan", the white lion was 'busy' apparently.

the white lions may have been otherwise detained, but the giraffes came out to play

The kids love the jumping pillow at the caravan park, even Charlie attempts to climb it because he cant jump, as such. And if it's just us, Ben and I usually have a jump too. And yes, it really shakes then.

I have a blissful morning (sans enfants) with decent coffee and banana bread, swathed in ricotta and dribbly honey, and then a rummage through the vintage and yummy-but-mostly-useless thingy shops in Milton.

We had a grand time down at the beach building sandcastles (Miranda) and volcanoes (Ned).

Whilst Charlie enjoyed his first real walk on sand, relishing the wind in his hair and the wild freedom of it...

And to finish it all off we have the annual mini-golf contest. Charlie participated this year for the first time. He mad an excellent effort, although he preferred starting at the hole and going back to the tee. I found it is undeniable, he is certainly more coordinated than me, though that's not saying much! Ned had one minor meltdown, and, predictably, tempers frayed, but by the 18th hole we had lost track of the score and everyone claimed they had won!

Once again Ulladulla provided the stuff to fill our family history with happy childhood memories and carefree days.
I hope you have enjoyed your school holidays with some fun and not too much cold.

Thanks Ulladulla - see you next year!


Thursday, 28 June 2012

A leap of faith leads me to Reach for the Stars.

Ned took part in his first school concert on Tuesday night. The school has a concert for the senior classes every 2 years and the children and teachers prepare for it over the first 2 terms and then present the show to their families.

Ned was on a high after the show

Ned had told us a little about it, mainly what his role was,the two songs he was singing and his costume needs, so Ben and I turned up with few expectations.Well, we were blown away. What a wonderful night of entertainment, talent and creativity. All the kids from years 3 to 6 had participated in some way and they were all brilliant and inspiring. We laughed ourselves silly, and clapped hard. A great night for our little public school and a terrific experience for all of the children. Ned had a great time and was on a high when we got him home. Unfortunately, Miranda was really sick that night and could not come with us. (Thank you to Papa who came along to look after her and Charlie). But she will love being a part of the concert when it is her turn in 2 years.

As parents, school concerts provide an opportunity to sit back and admire our children (and our friends' children) and classmates. Being there to see Ned in his few minutes on stage with his class was lovely, and somehow it transported me to another time and place that seemed completely unconnected with the evening.

There was a time when I thought I may never have children. I really wanted them, but with my mental illness having a huge impact on my life, particularly in my 20's, I didn't think I'd even find a partner, let alone have my own children. I think at one stage, when I hit 30 and was unmarried and without child, my mother suggested that I would make a nice stepmother. But that was never going to be enough for me, not that it wouldn't have been a privilege to be a stepmother, but I wanted to carry a child and birth him too. So it was wonderful to meet Ben and fall in love and decide we wanted to make a life together. Ben didn't really have an overwhelming interest in having a baby, but as it was important to me we decided to try for a family not long after we were wed. 

I was on quite a lot of medication back then and I needed medical advise on what to stop and change so that we could safely get pregnant. I will always remember sitting in our GP's office and telling him that we wanted to start a family and him looking at me and saying simply "People like you dont have babies."

I said "What."

He said "People like you with mental illness dont have babies. I'll give you a 3 year contraceptive implant instead."

I looked at Ben. I was speechless, shocked and devastated. Ben in his own strong and silent way, stood up, pulled me up off my seat, and excused us and we left. Ben said no one tells you that Kate, that is our decision. (it was my "no one sticks Baby in the corner" moment)  Ben reminded me that I was not a second-class citizen or some kind of subhuman who shouldn't reproduce. He said we were going to have a baby and we were going to be great parents, parents every baby deserved to have, with a home filled with love and care and all good things.

Thank God for Benjamin! I was left pretty shattered and it took a real step in faith to cope with it and to move forward. I had some doubts but it was working through things with Ben that strengthened our marriage and his desire to have children.

We found a doctor who did support our decision and who didn't make me feel less of a woman and a mother. Unfortunately, we lost our first pregnancy but within a few weeks I was pregnant again, this time with our Ned. 

reach for the stars!

Now why my attendance at Ned's school concert took me back to that devastating moment in the doctor's surgery nearly 10 years ago, I'm not quite sure, but it did make me shed a couple of tears as all the kids came onto the stage to sing the final song 'Reach for the Stars', all about having a dream and never giving up.  I guess it reminded me of my dream of a family and how I suffered to achieve it, but I got it in the end. A dream doesn't have to be about being the best dancer, or the fastest driver or a famous celebrity, it just has to be honest and from your heart. Now I look at my dream - Ben and my kids and I am dancing with the stars!


Monday, 25 June 2012

I give thanks.

It was a lovely weekend here in the Southern Highlands and it offered us the opportunity to stand back and take stock. Saturday saw us running around with the kids sports. And on Sunday at church we celebrated the 35th birthday of the Uniting Church. Then we went out to a soup lunch with new friends and had a lovely time. A brisk afternoon walk in the pale winter sun and clear skies ended the weekend with a family happy and content that we live in a beautiful part of the world and we are very fortunate with our life, family and friends and comfortable warm home. I know I so often spend each week running around and giving myself no time to stop, breathe and reflect. But stopping is good for my brain and my soul, and I am a much nicer person to live with when I stop for a while.
Miranda pushing Charlie on our weekend walk around Mittagong

I haven't been writing as frequently as I would like because I am madly trying to study and finish my Doula course. I have completed the 5000 word assignment reflecting on one of my birth experiences. As every woman finds, each of my birth experiences were very different, but I chose to write about Charlie's birth. Many times it felt as though I was going through it all again, and I ended up in tears a couple of times as the grief and the joy went through me again. In my results and feedback my trainer said she had been in tears!

I am nearly ready to sit two physiology tests, and one lactation test this week, so my mind is full of hemorrhoids and mastitis advice. I also have 3 book reviews to do over the next 3 weeks. Then I must find one more family to do a prac with and I am done. So if any of my Highlands friends know of a family having a baby in the near future who would like some FREE support please let me know.

I have Miranda home with me today. It's very unlike her to have any time off school and I cant quite figure out if there is anything actually wrong or if she is just very tired now it's the end of term. So I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because she would normally never take time away from her beloved teacher and friends.
the beautiful clear sky meant that the temperature rarely got over 10 degrees

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on last week's blog, it was very encouraging and I am remaining mindful about my relationship with Miranda and actively looking for opportunities to love and encourage her.

Have a good week, I hope you find time and reasons to stop and be grateful in your life.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Mother Guilt!! And darling daughters.

There was a great response to my last blog, so thanks to everyone who commented or who has been in touch to share their point of view, or experience. The thing I find really exciting is that it really got some people talking about the challenges they face within themselves or with their children and I am really grateful for the sharing, I have learned a lot. Most importantly, I found that we are not alone in our daily struggles for a good life. 

I seem to spend a great deal of my time thinking about my 2 boys and dealing with the demands of their various extra needs. It seems I spend a great deal less time with my daughter.  And you know what, much to my shame, I think this is true. Mother guilt!!!

I had allowed the mess on my desk to grow to a ridiculous size and set myself the task of sorting it out on Monday. I found little surprises distributed throughout the paper work and bills which made my heart leap they were so utterly delightful and heartfelt.  How could I not have noticed them before? My daughter writes me a note most days. Sometimes it's just  "I love you Mummy", or "I love you because your earrings are pretty". There were notes of apology for when she scribbled on the dining table, and when she broke my favourite piece of venetian glass. There were numerous drawings in texta and crayon of flowers and rainbows, our family together with each member named and others with just Mummy and Miranda holding hands. How could I not have noticed these treasures before now? How could I not have seen my darling girl and all of her efforts? 

such a little cutie...

But guilt is a pretty useless feeling so I decided to use the energy on tuning into her for a couple of days to see what I could learn about her and from her. This is some of what I discovered:

She is loving and caring, always ready with a hug and a smile. Every morning she praises me on what I wear often saying "You look 'bootiful' Mum". 

She makes a great sparring partner for Ned and brings him back down to earth or out of his own world by making sure he has fun and games and gets to be very silly. 

Miranda is an extraordinary big sister and friend to Charlie. They spend hours together playing games, dancing and singing and watching ABC4Kids and DVDs in the cold weather. Charlie imitates her and she encourages him all the time. She has such grace, patience and generosity when it comes to her 2 demanding brothers, and rarely complains about them. ( a technical hitch with this paragraph has held me up posting!!)

And she is smart, pretty with gorgeous thick hair, very funny with a wonderful turn of phrase and a crazy sense of the ridiculous.

It has not always been easy for her. Last year when Charlie was in and out of Westmead Kid's Hospital I missed the first two terms of Kindergarten and  although we both cried about it a bit (me more than her) she never complained. She could have, and perhaps, she should have. Instead, she became very self-reliant. There are times I have to remind her that I am the parent and I will do the worrying and take the responsibility and she reluctantly gives in. It makes me sad that she has had to become so tough because I was away so much. With so much disruption at home last year Miranda poured herself into learning and school. School was highly structured and totally predictable and she had a great teacher who was incredibly supportive, unlike home where chaos seemed to reign.

first day of school 2011

On Tuesday night I watched a rerun of 'Steel Magnolias' on tv. I was trying to write my blog but found myself putting down the laptop and picking up the tissues. I rarely cry at movies but Sally Field gets to me and as I was already thinking about my daughter it made me all the soppier. It left me with my bottom lip trembling!

So, I feel as though I have had a bit of a 'wake-up-call' about my Miranda. I need to notice her not only when she presses my buttons and scribbles on the furniture, but as she infuses our family with laughter and light. She gives so much all of the time, and I promise that I will notice her and continue to work on our relationship and pray that I can care for her and love her in such a way that she knows how much I love and appreciate her. 

Love you Minnie, xx