16/52 {intentions}

Mummalove 52-16-6Tomorrow the second school term commences and the big boys go back to school. And while I’ve enjoyed the break almost as much as the boys have, I have to admit that I am looking forward to having a little more breathing space to achieve a few things while they’re at school.

I’m also looking forward to starting over and doing things better this term. Like getting some strategies in place to encourage Charlie to get himself dressed in the morning, which he is very capable of, instead of it ending in a) a yelling match b) him getting dressed in the school footpath or carpark (yes, this has happened) (more than once), or c) me giving up and doing it for him. We also need to get on track with the boys doing jobs around the house, and maybe even sort out a pocket money scheme.

These are not unachievable tasks, but I am often guilty of waiting for the perfect opportunity to arise before making things happen. You know, like I’ll be SO much more organised when I have a renovated kitchen, or the moon falls into the second quarter, or I have more time, or something along those lines. But the truth is that I’ll probably never have more time and there’s no better moment than right now to begin, so it is my intention to use the snippets of opportunity more wisely and just do it.

And, just for the record, the lunches are all made and ready for tomorrow and the uniforms are laid out, so at least I’m on track for the first day of being organised for Term 2 ;)

Mummalove 52-16-3

Ben and I were very honoured to be asked to be the Godparents of our youngest niece, Polly, and we loved celebrating this very special occasion with our family today. I thought this was a beautiful snapshot, captured by Uncle John, of Nicholas reaching out to his favourite baby. It certainly does take a village to raise a child, and I’m so glad we are part of this amazing village.

Mummalove 52-16-2nicholas: It has been a while since we played in the sandpit. Between the mosquitoes and the rain, pulling the lid off the sandpit really didn’t seem that appealing to your mumma, but when we decided to make a sandpit volcano (similar to this one) over the holidays, you relished the opportunity to spend ages playing in the sand and water. You had some very important jobs to do in there, apparently. 

Mummalove 52-16-4charlie: The beautiful cake for Polly and Mia’s Baptism was apparently also quite delicious. Love your cheeky, cake-eating grin. You have loved every minute of freedom over your first official school holidays and relished the break from routine. While you’ve declared you’re not returning to school tomorrow, I’m predicting that you’ll love being back amongst your friends and all the fun of Prep as soon as we arrive.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

15/52 {loving}

Mummalove 52-15-13 Mummalove 52-15-12Loving fresh basil on the windowsill, and my new cup from LTCO, a present to myself on leaving Byron Bay and reminder of a beautiful week away with my family.

Loving finding selfies of my loves when I download photos off the memory card.

Mummalove 52-15-1

Loving having so many wonderful women in my life. Happy birthday to two of my bestest friends, who both had birthdays last week.

Loving opportunities to hang out with my littlest niece. She is a living doll.

Mummalove 52-15-9

Loving school holidays and the opportunity to just hang out with my boys. But we still have another week to go, so don’t quote me ;)

Loving that we’ve now reached a half-way point in Sam’s treatment. 19 months down and 19 months to go. Definitely worth celebrating.

Mummalove 52-15-6

Loving finally feeling a touch of cooler Autumn weather and needing to pull out the winter pyjamas. Who doesn’t love a toddler in a Bonds Wondersuit.

What are you loving at the moment?

Mummalove 52-15-2nicholas: When I see you in this photograph, it’s hard to deny you are evolving into a three year old and no longer a baby. Still a mini version, but definitely a boy now. Just like your brother, mumma, uncle and Grandad before you, the different pigmentation in your skin is becoming more obvious as you get older and spend more time in the sun. We are connected in more ways than one, you and I.

Mummalove 52-15-10charlie: When baby Polly came to visit, I was interested to see your nurturing side come out. You brought her toys and snuggled her with a blanket, and even put on a show for her. We have seen the theatrical Charlie come out so many times lately and wonder whether you’re destined for a life on the stage.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

14/52 {happy Easter}

DSC_6006DSC_5998About a year ago, after seeing all the write-ups about the Byron Bay Bluesfest, my beloved Ben told me that going to this music festival had been on his bucket list for a really long time. I responded with a vague, “great, let’s go one day“, visualising us rocking out in our 50s with no children in tow. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Ben was booking tickets and accommodation for 2015’s festival within the next few days. Got to love a man who makes things happen.

And here we are. Happy Easter from the beautiful, colourful and eclectic Byron Bay.

Going to a (very wet and muddy) five day music festival with three young children is no mean feat and is made far easier with the involvement of wonderful grandparents. It also involves the realisation that we are no longer 20-somethings with not a care in the world, so we are enjoying the festival experience balanced with having a holiday with our gorgeous boys. While impressed by the parents out there in the thick of things with their littles in baby carriers wearing earmuffs (and we did take the boys out on Friday to soak in some of the festival atmosphere), turns out we are just not that hard core. So we have been indulging in swims and beach time and scrabble and movies and reading and naps, but also sneaking out in gum boots to listen to great music into the wee hours.

We are grateful to spend this Easter weekend with our favourite people, ticking off a long-held dream in such a beautiful and festive part of the world. We are lucky.

Mummalove-52-14-3

Charlie. Looking stoked about being at Bluesfest.

Mummalove-52-14-4

Frank Yamma

Mummalove-52-14-1

Nikki Hill

DSC_6015

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Mummalove-52-14-2

Jake Shimabukuro

Mummalove-52-14-5  sam: {A bonus Easter Sam shot ;)} You love being in control, so were happier to run the Easter egg hunt than be part of it. I love when you nurture your younger brothers, whether it be lifting Nicholas out of bed when you hear him call out or coaching the boys on how to find the Easter eggs. It makes me giggle when I hear you teaching Charlie about how the world works – I love seeing things through your eyes. Some days I think you seem so grown up, and then I catch a glimpse of your beautiful chubby cheeks and soft skin and remember that six isn’t so big after all. 

Mummalove-52-14-6nicholas: With ready access to Mum, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa and your favourite brothers, you are in heaven on holidays. While the pool is rather chilly and takes your breath away, you love being in the water and jumping (falling?) in to us from the edge. Turns out, you’re not that keen on loud music, but you are at home on the beach and throwing sand into the waves, not worrying about your sandy, wet clothes or the dogs who stop to say hi.

Mummalove-52-14-7charlie: You have been battling an addiction to Minecraft this week, happily creating your own little world but struggling when that timer goes off and it’s time to put the iPad away. You see, when you’re inside your Minecraft world, I miss seeing your imagination in action in the real world. I love your drawings and lists and all the stories you tell us. You are my dreamer.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

13/52 {brotherly love}

Mummalove 52-13-6Mummalove 52-13-5The school term is winding to a close, and we’ve all been a bit worn out this past week. The man flu descended upon our home, which led to days of sniffles, abandoned plans and many cuddles with clingy boys. But sometimes it’s nice when the Universe sends us an opportunity to slow down and have quiet dance parties in the kitchen rather than racing from appointment to appointment. We gratefully received the quiet moments this week, but are also thankful that the virus appears to have now departed and everyone seems to be back to good health.

While we know the relationships between siblings can ebb and flow, often from one minute to another, it has been lovely to see Charlie and Sam playing beautifully together lately. The older boys are both great with Nicholas, but their relationship with each other tends to be quite tumultuous. Despite having very different personalities, they seem to have reached a common ground lately and hearing them giggle together, usually mischievously, and help each other is heartwarming. Undoubtedly they’ll be ganging up on us before long, but right now I love watching that brotherly bond emerge stronger with each day.

Mummalove 52-13-7 Mummalove 52-13-8nicholas: You love getting out on your bike, and this park is especially great as you can ride on the trails by yourself without getting into too much trouble. We went on a walk/ride together to the creek a few weeks ago which may have been a little ambitious. At one point, you refused to ride any further and I ended up carrying a rather heavy you and the rather heavy bike all the way home. Taking the bike in the car to the park is a far less strenuous option ;) (PS. Sorry about the hat/helmet combo, buddy. You know your mother – safety first, followed closely by sun protection).

Mummalove 52-13-1charlie: We were so proud of you and Sam for getting out there and giving the school Cross Country a go. It was fairly clear you weren’t going to break any world records (despite telling us rather confidently a few weeks ago that you thought you might win the Cross Country), but, in true Charlie style, you ‘ran your own race’ and happily participated.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

12/52 {hip hip hooray}

Such a busy week of birthdays, and now we have a big five year old and an almost-as-big three year old in our family.

To finish off the week, we spent World Down syndrome Day (21 March) with some great friends, sharing a rainy afternoon of live music at the local bowls club. Given I often credit Nicholas for wonderful people in our lives that we may not have met if it weren’t for our rockin’ kids, it seemed a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening.

Now to roll into the second last week of term, for soon the Easter holidays will be upon us.  An adventure at the beach is just around the corner. Hooray.

Mummalove 52-12-1nicholas: I love this photo of you. You were deliriously happy to be at Charlie’s birthday party, eating popcorn, emptying the water cooler and wandering around like you were the brother of the birthday boy. While your third birthday didn’t bring quite as much fanfare as Charlie’s fifth, we certainly did celebrate the three years we have been blessed with you in our lives.

Mummalove 52-12-2charlie: The birthday joy was palpable. While you too excited by the presents to worry too much about playing with all your friends, you were genuinely happy that your friends from Prep had come along to celebrate. In many ways, you shy away from attention, but you were certainly happy to remind us that you were the “birthday boy” well into the night. I’m pretty sure you wished that day of turning five could last forever.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

11/52 {it starts with us}

Mummalove 52-11-2I’ve just had the pleasure of attending my first ever Down syndrome Education Conference for 2015, run by our state’s Down syndrome association, DSAQ. While the conference is largely aimed at teachers who support students with Down syndrome, it is also valuable for parents. The theme of this year’s event was “It starts with us”, and there were many professionals who presented, including a physiotherapist, speech pathologist, teachers, maths expert, and some young and accomplished adults who happen to have Down syndrome. I came away from the event feeling both challenged and inspired.

I’m sure each person who attended would have taken away different elements from the two conference days, but I wanted to share the things most memorable for me:

  • There were a few references to the research by John Hattie which closely links the teacher’s expectations of the student to the student’s outcome. While this makes perfect sense, it reinforced my belief that we have to continue having high expectations of Nicholas in his ability to succeed throughout life.
  • The importance of communication between parents, teachers and other school staff in the education of our child – what’s working, how can we adjust what we’re doing to help our child succeed, what can we supplement at home.
  • Reinforcement that the visual memory and reading ability of a child with Down syndrome are two big strengths, so we need to harness those by embarking on a whole-word approach to reading as young as possible. (Reading Our Way is the reading program for people with Down syndrome developed by DSAQ, but other options might be the Doman based How to Teach Your Baby to Read or BrillKids Little Reader).
  • While many symptoms and behaviours have historically been put down to “just because of Down syndrome”, it’s important to look at the physiological reasons behind why these might be happening and investigate the root cause, rather than dismiss. Is a particular behaviour due to lack of core strength, different way of processing sensory information, etc? How can we support that student better?
  • Sometimes we get hung up on the way things “should” be taught. Based on experiences with her daughter and subsequent research undertaken, Dr Rhonda Faragher gave a really interesting presentation on utilising slightly different methods and workarounds to allow students with Down syndrome achieve the same results as their typical peers.
  • There seemed to be a theme on building on the strengths of the student with Down syndrome, rather than ‘fixing’ them or making them adhere strictly to the methods of their typical peers.

We were very blessed to have quite a few teachers from our school in attendance, and the School Officer (teacher aide) in Charlie’s class actually won the Teacher Award for 2014, which was announced at the conference. Congratulations Miss Jodi! Jodi gave a wonderful presentation on the best ways she has learned to support her student with Down syndrome over the past few years.

Lisa Bridle gave a very memorable closing address, sharing experiences with her son Sean and their family’s pursuit of inclusive education and a rich and fulfilling life for him. She drew on the theme of “it starts with us” so beautifully, beginning with how important it is to “start with” seeing our child or our student as a person, rather than a diagnosis. We laughed and cried as she shared her passion, her strength, her highs and lows with us all. (If you haven’t already, please go and read Lisa’s guest post here on the blog last October on ‘The Virtue of Stubborn‘).

If you know of a teacher who would benefit from sharing knowledge and experiences with other teachers of students with Down syndrome, please encourage them to go to the Down syndrome Education conference in Brisbane next year, or perhaps there’s a similar one run in your local area. Based on the very positive feedback I heard from other attendees at the conference, I’m sure they will get so much out of it.

It really does start with us.

Mummalove 52-11-4nicholas: You were so happy to hang out in Rachel’s arms while we were at school watching Sam’s class lead the assembly. And then you climbed stairs, we played soccer, walked around and visited friends to fill in time before we could take those big boys home. You were very busy. You loved playing golf over at Grandma and Grandad’s later in the week. I wonder if you’ll follow in their footsteps and have a passion for golf.

 Mummalove 52-11-5charlie: Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most magical of them all? In both the photographs I chose of you this week, you were in dressups, so it appears you still like doing that on occasion. On Monday afternoon, I was trying to be extra organised as I had limited time before the babysitter was coming and Daddy and I had to go out. Of course, this was the time you were very insistent that we needed to create a Box Troll costume for you. So the lunches for school the next day didn’t get made, but you were very happy with your costume and needed me to confirm that I would NEVER throw out that box we used to make it ;)

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon

10/52 {unexpected joys}

As soon as I booked the big boys into the 4.30pm and 5pm timeslots for swimming lessons, with few other openings to choose from, I regretted it. I anticipated the late afternoon, the rushed dinner, the overtired children (and mother) with dread and consoled myself with the thought that it was only one term.

But Tuesday afternoons have brought unexpected joys. We have left school and headed straight for the pool, enjoying afternoon tea under a shady tree and delighting in the cool water on unseasonably hot days. We have enjoyed playing together in all the “fun” pools before the boys have enthusiastically taken their turn having a lesson with the swimming coach. I have watched on proudly as Nicholas spends hours uses his newly-walking legs to wander around in the shallow water and climb ladders, bravely approaching the waterslides all by himself. We have scrambled away from the giant tipping bucket of water and splashed in the aquatic wonderland. Everyone’s faces light up when we spot Daddy, as he joins us unexpectedly after work and the whole event turns into a family affair. All this fun feels rather indulgent for a Tuesday.

Sometimes we overthink the hardness. Sometimes we should just embrace the fun.

Mummalove 52-10-3nicholas: So much joy in playing that game of catch with Daddy across the window in the cubby. Oh how I miss that face and those chubby little arms when I’m away from you. You’ve started saying “what?” whenever one of us calls your name. It’s not very clear, but you are so consistent that I know exactly what you’re saying and exactly who you’re copying off ;)

 Mummalove 52-10-4charlie: That grin that means you’re doing something you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t be. I wish I had your energy. You become passionately involved in whatever you start, regardless of the time of day… usually just before it’s time for bed. As I type, I can hear your little feet stomping across the floorboards upstairs, far too late. 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my boys every week in 2015.

52projecticon