Friday, June 29, 2007

list|things i need to organise before the girls go to school

I like lists - I write them once, and remember what I need to do. It enables me to spend less time worrying about the things I may have forgotten to do.

So here goes the start of my list of things I need to do/organise before the girls start school in just over a fortnight.

* new lunch boxes/drink bottles need to be purchased.
* new uniforms need to be purchased (this is going to happen the day before they start).
* decision needs to be made about which uniform items need to be purchased.
* new black shoes need to be purchased.
* find out the girls birth certificates & immunisation certificates.
* organise taxi to stop bringing Aimee home, I will be picking her up on the way to get the girls each afternoon.
* I need to start thinking about lunch ideas and how we will organise the days ie. lunches made and uniforms out and ready before bedtime. Everyone in this house would be considered anti-morning people - so we have to put thought into such things.

It's so exciting - Hope spent last night asking, "Am I really going to school Mummy?", every few minutes. She just can't get it out of her mind.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

breaking news|hope & bree are going to school!

So... A lot of you know that we home school, we have done for almost 4 years now. I have really enjoyed nurturing and teaching my children. They both really love learning, and it has been a both wonderful and sometimes challenging journey.

Our reason for home schooling in the first place, was based almost entirely on the fact that we live in a pretty bad school district. Hope was not being challenged educationally, and was in her words, "bored". She had started school knowing how to read (she was reading chapter books at the time), knowing basic math (how to add & subtract), but by the end of her first year she had lost a lot of the knowledge she had begun with. The school she was attending, did not want to encourage her too much, and told me that they very rarely, if ever, move a child up a class level. Also, as our house backed onto "said school", I was hearing things I didn't think were appropriate over the fence. I could hear Hope's teacher yelling at the class - which is, I think, totally reprehensible! No child deserves to be yelled at, especially not by someone they are supposed to be learning from. So, at the end of 2002 we took it all into our own hands, and decided to home school. It was scary for us, especially because we had a picture in our minds of home schoolers being a real odd bunch - were we willing to become part of that?!?

When Aimee turned 5, we began to home school her - it was a real struggle and I didn't quite understand why, until she was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder at the end of that year. I was not sure what to do, and so we put her into school. The same school that had been so terrible for Hope. At the time, I didn't know there was any other option, and I was basically just reacting. She now goes to a satellite class which is under a special school. I am hoping that at some point we will be able to put her into a mainstream school. She is doing so well now academically.

Briahna has never been to school. She has never had a problem educationally, and it was very exciting when, last year, she learned to read! One of my proudest moments, as a home schooling mum, I would have to say! Hope was a self-taught reader and Aimee learned to read at school. Being the youngest child in our family, Bree is a bit of a mummy's girl and has needed some encouragement to come out of her shell around other people. I love her to bits though! I have been lucky to have been blessed with 3 wonderfully different, unique girls - and I love them all!

Hope came to me at the beginning of this year, and told me that she wanted to be a doctor more than anything else, when she grew up. It gave me a scare, because how was I going to teach her all the things she needed to get into medical school. Science has always been a scary subject to me. What to do?!? I want to support my children in whatever endeavour they choose, so I had a dilemma. To begin with, I didn't want to think about school. I KNEW, without a doubt, that my children wouldn't be going to the school next door. I had no idea what school, if any, I would feel comfortable about sending the girls to.

Once, I had come to terms with the idea that home schooling might be coming to an end for us. I decided I needed to find the right school. We couldn't afford private education - unless we won the lottery - and so we were stuck with looking at public school or christian school options. It seemed every option we looked at in the christian sector had a waiting list 50 feet long. So that was, at least for now, a no goer. I had, by this stage, decided that it was an all or nothing thing - both of the girls would be put into school. I wanted to find a school that took both age-groups. Hope will be intermediate (middle school) age next year, and it would be nice not to have to travel to more than 2 schools, for now.

About a week ago, I was chatting to a friend of mine on the phone - she just happens to be a teacher - about my school worries, when she suggested a certain country school that she had taught a music class at over term 1 & 2 of this year. She said the teachers were fantastic, and that the principal was a christian guy. So, I looked the school up on the internet - great thing this internet is, for researching schools. I emailed the school secretary and set up a meeting time - we went yesterday. It has all happened so quickly - because we signed all the forms for their enrollment and they start school on Tuesday, 17th July, after the holidays. When you KNOW something is right, things can happen seemingly fast.

The school is awesome. It is a little country school (it has a roll of 154 students). They have calf day, a flower day and bible-in-schools. The classrooms go no bigger than around 20 students, and it is about 15 minutes drive away from our front doorstep. Truly AMAZING!

My little cling-on (Briahna) was very taken with the school, and I am left thinking that it will be me crying when I leave her at school. She is going to have a ball.

I believe this is the completely right way for our family to go. We have discussed whether or not I will return to work, but at present I am going to be a "lady of leisure". Yeah right, hehehe, actually I already have most days booked out to do things. Mainly Music, Children's Church, coffee groups... and no stress about whether the girls are doing enough "book-work". I will definitely miss them during the day, it's going to be quieter and tidier. I can put the school room into better use - a big craft room - YEAH!

For Chosen Mothers

Blogger doesn't always tell me when people comment on my blog - and it's a shame because I just discovered a really great post here, after someone read this post I made.

Below is a poem that she has on her website:- (be warned - it's a tear jerker)

For Chosen Mothers

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of a child with special needs. Did you ever wonder how mothers like this are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia. Rudledge, Carrie, twins. Patron saint... give her Jude. He's used to profanity."

Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a child with special needs."
The angel curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy." "Exactly", smiles God. "Could I give a child with special needs a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asked the angel. "I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a seal of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it.

"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world She has to make him live in her world and that is not going to be easy."

"This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angels gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?" God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she's to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'. She will never consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says "Mama' for the first time she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or sunset to her child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see... ignorance, cruelty, prejudice... and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, her pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Birthday MUM!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Muuuuuuuum
Happy Birthday to you

Hip Hip Hooray!

I hope you have a fantastic day

Friday, June 22, 2007

NEWS|Protein mutations link to autism

Boy with autism
Autism impairs social interaction
From BBC World

Scientists have discovered how mutations in two key proteins may lead to autism.

They have shown one protein increases the excitability of nerve cells, while the other inhibits cell activity.

The University of Texas team found that in normal circumstances the proteins balance each other out.

But the study, published in Neuron, suggests that in people with autism the balance between the proteins is knocked out of kilter.

Understanding how the autistic brain is different to the neurotypical brain will have significant implications for education and intervention
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
University of Cambridge

The findings back the theory that autism involves an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory connections between nerve cells.

The proteins, which serve to physically link nerve cells together, were discovered by the team at the university's Southwestern Medical Center more than a decade ago.

However, until the latest study their exact function had been unclear.

Lead researcher Dr Ege Kavalali said: "Mutations in these proteins have recently been linked to certain varieties of autism.

"This work provides clear insight into how the proteins function. We can never design a therapeutic strategy without knowing what these mutations do."

Bridge between cells

The proteins - neuroligin-1 and neuroligin-2 - create a physical bridge at the junction - or synapse - of nerve cells, enabling them to make connections with others.

In studies on rats the researchers showed that raising levels of both proteins in nerve cells led to the creation of extra synapses.

Neuroligin-1 was associated with excitatory connections and neuroligin-2 with inhibitory connections.

When they introduced a mutant form of neuroligin-1 thought to be carried by some people with autism the number of synapses fell dramatically - and the cells became significantly less excitable.

Infants are born with far more synapses than survive to adulthood. Active synapses proliferate during development, but inactive synapses are culled.

The latest research suggests that carrying a mutant form of neuroligin-1 may depress the number of synapses that make it into adulthood.

This could hamper the ability of nerve cells to make the usual connections, and lead to the deficits seen in people with autism.

It affects the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.

Communication problems

People with autism cannot relate to others in a meaningful way. They also have trouble making sense of the world at large.

As a result, their ability to develop friendships is impaired. They also have a limited capacity to understand other people's feelings.

Autism is often also associated with learning disabilities.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, said research into the role of neuroligins in autism was important.

He said: "We need to know more about both the genes that code for neuroligins, and the neuroligins themselves, to establish if they play a specific role in the cause of autism spectrum conditions and in which subgroup.

"Understanding how the autistic brain is different to the neurotypical brain will have significant implications for education and intervention."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

hello my name is...

I love my husband! He surprised me last night by bringing me home a copy of "The Princess Bride". I LOVE the movie, and have been wanting to read the book for forever!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Jonathan - My Sweetheart!!! :D

After 4 days of sick children, I really needed a pick-me-up. This is one of the best things I have ever been given.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My new phone|Big YAY!

So, I've got a new phone. And, it does all I want and more! :) And, it didn't cost a cent - we got it free with our new X Box360! And, I'm excited - did I tell you that?!? It can play MP3's, record video - low quality, take photographs, and it reminds me of the 80's, as it is under the walkman name! I used to have one of those, but it never could ring my husband or take pic's of my gorgeous kidlets!!! (Not that I had any of them in the eighties!)

So, Yeah, I'm one HAPPY chicklet!

The Lost Art of Querying

I have just read this post over at The Kitchen - A Faith Community in Action and I have decided to "post/copy/steal" it here so that I/we can all be reminded about this great lost art.

How many times do we, instead of listening, feel the need to ADD to conversations with our own slant - "Oh," we say, "that happened to me before..." and before we know it, we've hijacked the conversation back to us.

Jacob was saying on Sunday that we all need to do a course on Social Skills 101 - we need to get back to learning the art of communication. I agree. Hmmmm! Something to ponder!

Anyway, read-on, to see what this community did to highlight our ineptness at truly listening. It would be a hard lesson for some of us - me - I'm sure.

"When people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just…instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?”

When I first heard that quote in the movie Fight Club, I was so embarrassed. I realised how true it was for me – and it scared me even more to think that everyone else was the same! It seems like we sort of become so self obsessed and individualistic sometimes that we loose the ability to know how to care beyond saying “that’s sucks bro” - and then awkwardly cough.

But not today! Because we’re going to practise the long, lost art of querying…

We’re going to spend 5 minutes where the other person talks and you just query – and listen – I mean really listen. And then you’ll query some more. You’re not allowed to bring the conversation back to you - or give them your opinion on the subject - but you get to know the person and let them be known to you. You’re asking questions to go deeper into who they are.

This will be incredibly hard for some of us. No doubt some of us will find it easy to talk about ourselves, but hard to ask questions and care. But today you’re going to try and scratch beyond superficial conversation…

Others of us will hate talking about ourselves and find it scary to reveal bits of ourselves to a person we might barely know. But drop your guard! It’s something we need to do more often…

Would you believe that some people are even gifted at this whole querying thing? When they spend time with someone things just flow our of them from the queries they ask. But that takes practise, just like any art form. So today we’re learning the ancient art of querying, and starting our journey towards becoming query masters.

Pick and random question from the list below, ask your partner the question, and then continue querying from that point for a full, literal 5 minutes. You ask questions and listen, they talk. It’s fine for your talk to wander– these questions are just starting points in your queries. After that five minutes get your partner to pick a new question and swap roles. You can do this as many times as you’d like to - or with as many different people as you like.

After you’ve queried each other, stop and share with the group or each other by answering this question.

“What is God up to in the midst of your partners life?”


What specific question would you most like to ask God?
What thing most worries you in life right now?
What aspect of your mum do you see in yourself?
What aspect of your dad do you see in yourself?
What’s something new you’ve discovered about God lately?
What was your childhood like?
What specific occasion as a kid do you remember being most happy?
What’s something you’ve recently become interested in?
What is your secret dream or aspiration?
What is one thing you want to do before you die?
What puzzles you about God?
What is your family like?
What Stresses you out? How do you unwind?
When do you feel that God is far away?
When do you feel closet to God?
What does being Gods creation, made in his Image, mean to you?
What’s the thing you’re most proud of achieving?
What’s the thing you most want to change about yourself?
What did you do in the weekend? What are you doing this weekend?
Is God challenging you to change any aspect of your life?
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do regularly, but just can’t seem to get it together?
What’s something that you regret not doing?
What do you feel most pressured to do in your life?
What do you like most about Jesus?
What scares you most in life?
When was the last time that you felt that God was speaking to you? What was he saying?
What would you most like to change in the world?
How do you deal with people that annoy you?
Have you ever forgiven someone?
What other career path would you also like to have taken?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

women's stuff...

I have, for some time now, felt ill every time I get my period. Not physically, but as I am becoming more environmentally aware and my wallet is a whole lot lighter these days - I get sick of paying money out every month knowing its all going to the landfill.

So today, when good old Aunt Flo arrived, I decided to make some cloth - reusable sanitary pads. I used a pattern I got from the internet (which I can't for the life of me find now! :( ). There are numerous patterns available, and the one I got is excellent - has wings, and lining so there are no leaks. I have done a quickish search and to no avail... can't find it.

It feels good to be doing something right! And they look pretty good too - not that anyone else is gonna see them... LOL!

PS. I re-used fabric, by making them out of 3 old t-shirts, an old cloth diaper, half an old towel, and some plastic cloth that has been hanging around for a bit. YAHOO!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I am still learning...

and it's good! Aimee and I have been going to a social skills group every Tuesday, this term. There are two weeks to go and I have been amazed at the amount of knowledge I have gained. The children are learning social skills and us Mum's are together learning how to cope.

I have learned so much about "theory of mind" and what to do about some of the issues that we are dealing with. It's funny because I have done similar courses before and not gained anything spectacular from them, but what is different about this course is that this time all the children involved are girls with aspergers. Girls exhibit autism so differently from boys - it is so nice to be able to discuss their unique differences with other Mum's.

The woman that facilitates our group has explained autism as "the brain being scrambled - like eggs - the messages are not going through properly". It made for an easier way of explaining to the other children, why their sister doesn't always handle life well. They seem to be more understanding of her lately - and that's good news, because Aimee has been having a bad time of it. :(

We are constantly having to put off having a babysitter, because of her behaviour - I don't want to lose our current sitter, and she is almost at her limit with Aimee. Still, we will try again tonight, when Jonathan and I go to the movies tonight.