Living The Dream

Day 16
Today we left the coast & headed up to the mountains to Cradle mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Before we left, I had to take a photo of the whale vertebrae which was in the hall at the old farm house. It’s an amazing thing to see.

It was a long day in the car for the kids. We finally made it in at 6pm and they were well & truly over it by then.
We played lots of ‘living/non-living’ and thanks to my dear friend Duxey my boy, who has turned into a language sponge these holidays, learned a new phrase – ‘living the dream’. This was repeated frequently throughout the day. It’s something many people say to be ironic. But today, and throughout our holiday, we certainly have been living the dream. We are having a wonderful time & L is growing & changing & learning in so many ways. It’s something I have dreamt of on his behalf but he is the one living it.

20140416-201925.jpg

20140416-201936.jpg

20140416-201948.jpg

20140416-201956.jpg

Advertisements

The Mysteries

I’ve been busy falling in love with a little girl who is now 11 weeks old. We know each other much better now. She’s responding to the sound of my voice, smiling her big, squishy smiles at me, looking deep into my eyes for connection, love and delight and taking my every waking moment (and quite a few sleeping moments as well). She is growing like a weed, needs LOTS of cuddles and has the most amazing head of thick, soft black hair. While all that loveliness has been happening, there’s been a lot of other things happening as well.

A couple of weekends ago I spent the weekend up the coast in a beautiful lakeside location. A dear friend’s partner had passed away very suddenly and this was a chance for friends and family to come together to acknowledge him and to say goodbye. I didn’t know him well as for most of the years they were together, they lived in a remote location. But listening to the stories of his family, his close friends and colleagues, I was struck by how many things we had in common: we were born in the same year in the same small, north Queensland town, we lived a couple of streets from each other, we went to the same school and for the last 8 or so years, he managed an organisation that was established by my father. You can’t help but take stock of the things that are important to you when life’s tenuous fragility is once again made plain and simple: this is it, this is your life, live it now, don’t wait for later.

Don't wait

 

 

Lake Cootharaba

Good morning mothers!

20130512-083942.jpg

20130512-084241.jpg
Happy Mother’s Day. Just one of my three are with me today, so I’m having a lovely relaxing time with my wonderful friends at the beach.
These photos are for Archie, my favourite surfer!
http://alifeunlimited.wordpress.com/

Lost Time

A photo a day for autism acceptance in april

OK, I know…I disappeared. What happened? I went bush!

For the last 4 days I have been incommunicado, with no internet connection. As a part of our holiday, I have taken the boys out to a small Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land where about 1000 people live a mostly traditional lifestyle. It’s accessible only by air or sea for half the year. This half.

So the boys & I hopped onto a little twin engine plane and headed off across the beautiful tropical, lush wetlands of northern Australia to visit some very dear friends who live in Maningrida.

the little plane

the little plane

J, my beautiful big 22m baby was happy just going with the flow as usual. N (3yo chatterbox) was super excited with a million questions about what was happening every step of the way. He had no idea where or what Maningrida was, but he was over the moon to be going. When the steward spoke over the PA system and said that we were heading for Maningrida he couldn’t contain himself and cheered loudly ‘Yayyyyyyy Maningriiiiidaaaaaa!!!’ Everyone on the plane got a chuckle out of that.

L, my autistic 6yo was anxious, but contained. He was concerned during the take off, but willingly held onto me and got some comfort and reassurance from that. Once we were in the air, he was absolutely fine. What a huge achievement for him to be a happy, relatively relaxed traveller.

We had a wonderful time catching up with my friends and their tribe of kids. Mine just melded into theirs and L’s more obvious behaviors settled (pushing, screaming & noisemaking) down quickly as he adjusted to this new environment. Their four kids didn’t even raise an eyebrow, but were interested in him  and in what autism was. So we talked about that a bit, but mostly we just had a very relaxing time. It really was a weekend of autism acceptance.

So, here’s my catch up photos for those four days.

20130409-152515.jpg

keeping an eye out for crocodiles

20130409-152610.jpg

wrestlemania in Maningrida

20130409-164023.jpg

beach combing

theirs & mine
theirs & mine

 

A Difficult Woman

Every now and then something happens that pivots your life and sends you off in a slightly different direction. At the time, you could never predict just how important it might be or how far away from your original trajectory you will be taken. Looking back though, you can see just how fundamentally things changed because of that turn of events. For me, it was the accidental making of a friend.

As young 20somethings, we were a couple of outsiders who quickly recognised a fellow traveller and formed a solid friendship. We sealed it by watching Jaws 3 & 4 on the big screen in one afternoon, a spot of fishing and a night of drinking our way through the various alcoholic beverages of our teenage years. Blue Lagoon anyone?

We spent most of our friendship living in far distant cities and towns. We never got to just drop over to each others place, to wear out our welcome. We did have a lot of holidays together though, so our story is full of beaches & road trips. And we worked together making music and films.

says it all

says it all

Whenever we could, we’d squeeze in a Yum Cha with a bottle of wine. Somehow this noisy, family  environment and combination of dumplings & alcohol would get us firing. We would cook up all kinds of plans and projects, make an enormous list then go off and accidentally spend way too much money on Christmas decorations or haircuts or frivolous frippery.

post yum cha

post yum cha

Our friendship has been an incredibly sustaining force in my life. It wasn’t always easy, but getting through the tough times and having that shared history over so many years builds something very strong between you. She was a ‘difficult woman’ and so was I but we only ever had one fight and that was about art/being an artist. In the end though, she always wanted more for me than I wanted for myself and for that…I am eternally thankful.

I had always looked forward to our ‘old age’ when we could really give the eccentricities free reign and nobody would care. But life is too short.

I’m lucky enough to have some other wonderful friendships with difficult women, but there is a space where you used to be. I don’t like it, but there you go.

Still such an influence on my life, this one’s for you on International Women’s Day 2013.

581938_508440912552962_265297322_n

http://www.aacta.org/the-awards/byron-kennedy-award.aspx

Snap & Patience

It’s a bit of a tradition to play some cards or board games during the summer holidays and especially on Christmas day. I did, but that is not what this post is about.

While I was at the beach last week, I was casually sweeping the floor – the sand these kids trail through the place is phenomenal! As I went about my task I heard a very loud, distinct and unusual pop sound  from my back. I froze. My friend who was in the same room, was looking for where the noise had come from. She thought it sounded electrical, but I knew it was mechanical.

Almost 3 years ago I had major spinal surgery where I had two titanium rods screwed into either side of my spine from my shoulder blades (T8) to my sacral spine (S1) and into my hips. I wrote about this experience in more detail here.

I knew something had happened to my ‘hardware’. I was afraid to move, but as I attempted some small movements, I found that I could. Apart from the initial sudden pain, I could move without much pain at all. My mind was racing, trying to figure out what might be going on inside my body.

My initial thought was that I had popped a screw. This can happen when there is too much pressure on the area, where the fusion has failed or when there may be deterioration of the bone the screw is in.

That night I could feel things moving around. Every time I moved, my back would creak & groan like an old barn door. That is a weird feeling, let me tell you.

The next day, as planned I packed the kids up and headed home. I knew I would need to get an xray, so had to book in with my doctor. I managed to get a cancellation on the very last appointment of the day, on the last day she was in before taking her holidays. I’m lucky to have a really great GP.  Still not much pain, but I’m walking stiffly and the groaning and grinding coming from my back continued.

The following day I spent all morning trying to find someone to look after the kids so I could get in for the xray. With many friends away on holidays, my support network was a bit thin on the ground. I finally gave in and asked my poor aged parents come come over to watch the boys – something I’m trying not to do. The boys love them to death and they love them right back, but they are elderly now and having a whirling dervish (L who is about to turn 6 and has autism & an intellectual impairment) a 2 year old (N – say no more!) and a future heavy weight champion (J – 18m) – well, let’s just say it can be quite a draining experience.

I head off for my xray and I can see by the look on the sonographer’s face, that apart from having a lot of hardware, there is something going on. She suggested I come and have a look – and there’s the snap part of the story. Both my rods have snapped.

If Frieda can do it, so can I!

If Frieda can do it, so can I!

Here comes the patience. I ring my surgeon’s clinic, but…it’s the summer holidays and he is on holidays in another part of the world. He will be back on the 15th. I’ve been talking to his clinical nurse who is one of those super efficient, dynamic, right hand woman kind of people. I feel a bit better every time I talk to her. She is also on holidays and has been ringing me daily to check that I am OK. Instructions are to wait, do NOTHING. Do not lift, do NO housework, take it easy. Did I mention I have three little children in my care? If anything changes pain-wise, I need to get me to emergency asap.

I'm doing my bit!

I’m doing my bit!

So apart from shedding some tears, losing my cool regularly, feeling a bit depressed about my lot in life and feeling overwhelmed by what it might all mean – more surgery, massive amounts of support and help needed on a 24 hour basis, having to tell everyone (hate that and yet…here I am dear reader), dealing with the bureaucracy that is child protection etc, I am trying to stay positive, make a plan and recruit some help.

In general, I’m good until I’m not good – like today when L made a diabolical smeary mess all over his room, bed, carpet and himself. That’s not something you can ring and friend and say, drop everything, get over here and clean this shit up – literally! That’s when the going gets tough. Sorry for sharing that – there’s somethings you really shouldn’t share and that’s probably one of them, but it’s late and it’s my reality.

So, patience, people. I’m working on it. I’m also working on my optimism. That is all.

Help

You Changed My Life

It doesn’t happen very often these days, but on Saturday night I got to go out see a film. The big boys were having overnight family visits and a beautiful friend offered to come over and babysit the baby.

In my life B.C. (before children) I would regularly take myself off to see a film. I enjoy going to see films by myself. The big screen, the surround sound, the quiet hush of a bunch of strangers sitting in the dark for a shared experience. It’s a little holiday. If it’s a good film, it’s a great little holiday. If it’s an exceptional film, then it’s a 2 hour, all expenses paid, luxury, beach-side indulgence.

I got to see an exceptional film. I may have even got a sun tan.

The French poster

Made by the French filmmaking team Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, The Intouchables is set in Paris. So yes, it involves subtitles but forget about that because you won’t even be aware of it after the first minute. If you’ve never seen a film with sub-titles before – then this is the one to go and see!

The story is based on the real lives of Abdel Sellou and Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. Phillipe is a very wealthy man who suffered a spinal injury. He took a risk when he hired Abdel, a guy from the ‘projects’ as his personal carer. So ultimately it’s a buddy film but at the heart, it’s a comedy! When Phillipe granted the film rights to Nakache & Teledano that was one of his stipulations. He wanted a good movie, a funny movie & a deep movie. He got it.

Neither man could have predicted the impact of the friendship that developed from the chance that Phillipe gave to Abdel. But the title of the book that Abdel wrote ‘You Changed My Life’ says it all.

Abdel and Phillipe – changed each others lives

Omar Sy. Wow! If you haven’t ever heard of him, well then – you heard it here first people. His performance in this film is dynamite. Because of this performance he has become the first black man to win a Cesar (the French film industry awards). Of course, in France he is like a household name and has his own prime time comedy show on television. Elsewhere he is largely unknown, but not for long. Not for long!

Omar Sy

Film reviews aren’t really my thing, but sharing good stuff is. Get your self out of the house and go and laugh out loud with a theatre full of people. It’s good for the soul.

On A Whim

A year ago on a whim, I started this blog. I had no real theme, no powerful urge to write or share and no idea about blogging. I’d never read or followed one.

In these twelve months I have learnt a lot. Mostly about myself, but also about writing, about blogging and about people. It’s been a big year for many reasons. My three boys have each gone through a lot of changes and challenges. I’ve aged more than the 365 actual days. You can see it on my face. The relentless nature of parenting can really take it out of you!

 

There are days when (as a friend says) I’ve got one nerve left and you guys are jumping on it! But when I get those three little thrashing machines into bed and asleep and at last, my time is my own, I will drag myself to the screen and start to tap at an idea. No longer tired, I’m focussed and alert.

Blogging has given me a wonderful creative outlet. Even though I only write about ordinary things and I leap from subject to subject, it’s feeding me in a way I could never have predicted.

This time last year I was also trying to spend as much time as I could with my very dear friend Sarah. Hard to do when she lived a 2.5 hour flight away and I had a bunch of kids. It will be a year since she died on November 4. We had been through so much throughout our friendship of 26 years I couldn’t imagine not having her in my life. She was a prolific, multidimensional artist who was driven to create. I can feel her urging me on in this venture.

image credit: Sarah Watt (Small Treasures)

I’ve also made some great new friends who I’ve never met. Reading other blogs is occasionally inspirational and sometimes amusing, but every now and then you make a connection that sticks. That has been such a surprise.

To the people who follow, read, comment, like and lurk – thanks a million. Now let’s see if I (and you) can last another year!

Finally, here’s a few tidbits:

  • The search terms that have led the most people to my site?

Mount Everest: Sorry mountaineers, it’s a metaphor.

Letter To A Beautiful Girl: Um…sorry, no romantic mutterings in this post, it’s for a little baby girl.

  • My busiest day?

Sept 23 2012 – just over a week ago!

  • Views by Country? (one of my favourite stats)

People from 70 countries have viewed my little blog.

image credit: momcomm.com

Mummy’s Car

Mummy’s car is a bit of a bomb. It’s a generic, utilitarian workhorse to me. But to my 2yo N it’s the best playground around. It’s the most fun you can have in an enclosed space. It’s got so many buttons to press and knobs to twiddle he can barely contain himself.

So now we have to negotiate over how much time we can spend playing the ‘mummy’s car’ game. I try to give him a bit of time by putting him in the car first and then loading up the other kids, bags, pram etc., then putting him in his car seat last. This involves dragging him kicking and screaming from the drivers seat to his seat, holding this wriggling, struggling, amorphous little blob of humanity in place so that I can get his seat belt on while he’s screaming at the top of his voice ‘mummy’s caaaaaaaarrrrrrr! mummy’s caaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr’.

aday.org 

I was kind of organised to do this. I’d made a note in my calendar to take a photo and upload it. I loved the idea of it – one day on earth. People from around the world all taking photos of their day on that particular day. So I started out trying to get some kind of photo of the four of us – kind of hard when you are the photographer and there’s no extra kid wranglers around. So this is the only shot I got of all of us.

 

Note the pincer grip L has on my cheek and the elbow to the throat. Nice! He thought it was hilarious. The other boys joined in on some of this action too.

little boys attack mummy

Later that day I’d had a couple of friends over for lunch so I thought I’d try to capture that.

 

It was kind of fun and it’s always good to catch up with my girlfriends, but the photo was more documentary than art.

So later that day, as we do most days, we were down in the back yard. The kids were playing and I was getting the clothes off the line when…I captured this precious moment. It’s a first. Baby J taking a walk (assisted by L’s old ride on bus). Look at that confident stride! He’s strong as a ox this kid and has thunder thighs of doom, but absolutely, unequivocally a beautiful little soul.

Anyway the day went by in a flash and I forgot to upload anything…

The Finale

Day 30: Autism Awareness Blogathon (Final Post)

I made it! 30 days and 30 posts for autism awareness and acceptance. It has been an amazing experience for me. Most of the time it has been easy. I’ve known what I wanted to write about and the words have just flowed. Other times, it’s been really tough. I’ve fallen asleep and woken up with a startle hoping I have enough time to write and publish before midnight strikes. Some nights the babies just won’t go to sleep, so I’ve been holding them in one arm and doing the fastest one handed typing I could with the other.

My domestic duties have suffered (ummmm where IS that vacuum cleaner??? and I think my mop may have died sometime around mid-April), but I was on a mission and I would not be deterred! I tried to think of the people who read this blog, there’s a very broad mix of folk and many of them have nothing to do with the world of autism. Could I keep them entertained and interested while opening this window on my life? I also worried a bit. Am I now officially the world’s most boring and relentless blogger? Oh no! Not another post from Rose… enough already!

So now that I’ve made it to the end, I want to say thank you. Like any good speech, there’s some people who need to be mentioned. The blogathon has consolidated a group I call my ‘bloggy pals’. They are present and accounted for online. They are all wonderful writers themselves and they seem to get me.

So a heartfelt thanks to:

George from Coalescence. What a faithful and thoughtful friend you are. I know you have read and commented on every single post this month. You have cheered me on, encouraging me to feel that my writing has purpose and meaning to others. You are such a great find.

ProfMomEsq – I can’t quite remember who discovered who, but I am so glad that it happened. I love your heart, your humor and your smarts. You’ve got a way with words and a lot to say that needs to be said.

Thanks Cynthia at That Cynking Feeling for all the shares and the links and especially for the co-blog we did on the senses (yours and mine). That was fun to do.

Sarah at Crazy Antelope and I have a lot in common – 3 boys who are brothers by pure genius luck and brought together by love. Also autism, crazy neighbours, Australians and so much more.

Ruth – my IRL friend and dedicated reader of my blog. I love our late night chats. Thank you for your encouragement, inspiration and big, big heart.

Judy – I feel like you are shining a light in the darkness and beckoning me forward, telling me to be brave, that it’s going to be OK. Thank goodness for you.

For all my lurkers and likers – I know you’re out there and I’m glad that you are. Thank you for reading and for your silent approval. I figure if you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t come back, so thanks for coming back.

Family and friends – you help me laugh through my tears and well up when the good times roll. I may be a single parent, but I couldn’t do it without your love and support.

Officially signing off on the blogathon. Regular services will resume soon.  Here’s some pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.