Sunday 27 July 2014

I took Nicholai to his football game today. That oval is just one giant bog, and it smells vile. Which means he also smells horrible when he gets in the car to come home! I make him take his footy boots off outside and leave them on the porch, and he has to come in and have a shower before he can sit on any furniture.

They had a win today, so they’re definitely in the finals, although they of course want to win some more games to end up first or second on the ladder and have the second chance. I think it’s been fun for Nicholai to be playing on a successful team this year, as it’s certainly not something he enjoyed during the other football seasons or the cricket season.

Troy took the other three to hockey. Emma and Jericho are having a good time playing, and Soren doesn’t seem to mind watching. They take Luna so he takes her for little walks, and plays with his hockey stick and a ball and climbs on rocks and does whatever. He’s always been quite good at entertaining himself.

Jericho spent the afternoon at his friend’s house and had a great time. The other kids played around at home, spending their remaining poker chips on computer time and watching a lot of Commonwealth games. They are enjoying the sports a lot. They also watched me play the Sims, which I managed to download and install on my computer after a very long time. I don’t understand how they can like watching someone else play a game- I think it’s so boring, but they would rather watch someone play than do something else.

School and work tomorrow. I think I have to go shopping to buy some wrapping paper to wrap Jericho’s birthday presents (he’s going to be EIGHT on Tuesday!) but that’s about it. Maybe try and clean up some of the dirt and grime that all finds its way inside over the weekend. Sounds pretty exciting, I know.

Friday 25 July 2014

Nicholai has made his first computer game. He’s been playing something called Scratch, which is an introductory programing thing. He used it to make a powerpoint style presentation, and now he’s watched the how-to tutorials on it and learned how to make his own game. It had a maze, with a smiley face at the start of it, and a sad face at another point in it. When you play you have to move the smiley face through the maze without touching any of the walls, or being touched by the sad face, which bounces around the screen. If you touch either of those, your smiley face goes back to the start and pops out a speech bubble that says “oops!”

I am just SO impressed with him and the way his mind works! It is a program meant for kids to use to learn programming principles, but he’s just absorbed the way it functions and then put together this game together in ten minutes. Watching him show it off, I just had one of those moments when this enormous gulf opens up in front of me because he’s going to go so far beyond what I’m capable of and for a moment I see it.

Nicholai and the other grade six kids went tree planting at the chocolate factory today. He didn’t say much about the tree planting, but he did say a lot about the ice cream and hot chocolates and chocolate shots they were all given as a thank you.

I taught this morning, which went well. My mood is definitely lifting lately, and that makes a huge difference when I’m teaching. There were a few kids missing from the lessons though, several of the grade 3 and 4 kids were on a skiing excursion and all the grade 6 kids were tree planting. This pretty much happens all the time though, so I’m getting used to it.

I made a quick decision change to my planned lessons though. Instead of giving them the word scramble I’d prepared for them in the senior room, I got them to make up a song to help them remember the days of the week. I was so happy with how they went, most of the kids really gave it a good try and the songs the girls came up with were great.

I took Luna dog with me today, and she was beautifully behaved. She is such a good dog. It also helped, I must admit, that Jericho took her at recess to play with her, but then he kept her with him because they had some outdoor time and then a movie time. So I didn’t have her with me half the time!

Jericho told me that in their outdoor time he and a few of the other kids were playing the ‘Dogonwealth Games’ (clearly inspired by the Commonwealth Games, ha ha ha), since they had three dogs there- Luna and Angus and Murphy. They made the dogs do running races, and Jericho was very proud that Luna ran faster than Murphy. They also made them chase balls and jump over things I think- the whole thing sounded so funny.

Jericho’s class were having a game and movie day because it was the last day for one of the boys in the class. He’s going to a different school from next Monday, which is quite sad because he is actually Jericho’s best friend at school. He came to school this morning to celebrate his last day, but the poor kid was so sick. He held on for about an hour and a half, but in the end he threw up and asked if he could go home. Jericho was supposed to go home with him for a play and dinner tonight, but obviously that got called off. I spoke to the kid’s mum though, and we’ve rescheduled it for Sunday. Jericho has hockey in the morning, but I’ll drop him off there after that.

I hope losing his friend at school doesn’t throw Jericho off too badly. There are other kids he likes and plays with, but this kid has been his best friend since last year. I hope that he doesn’t miss him or feel too unsettled, and that he finds a place with some of the other kids he enjoys spending time with.

I’m downloading the Sims onto my new computer. I don’t have a dvd drive in this computer, but I found that I could go to the online store for the game, make an account, and then use the product code from the physical copy I already own to download it. I was so pleased with myself for figuring this out, but the downloading is SO slow…I started doing it at 3pm and it’s now 10pm and I’ve only downloaded 54%. I’d like to just leave it doing it overnight, but my computer automatically shuts down after a certain amount of time and will pause the download. There’s probably a way to stop this, but I don’t know what it is.

Speaking of computers, Nicholai’s computer came with a three month warranty (it was a refurbished one) so we’re going to be able to send it back and they’ll hopefully either replace the hard drive or replace the whole computer. It doesn’t change my irritation that the thing broke, but at least it’s not a lost cause.

Thursday 24th July 2014

Nicholai has been offered a place in the accelerated learning program at the high school. While we didn’t really have any doubts that this would happen, it’s good to have it confirmed officially. Our next step in preparing Nicholai for high school is to go and have a proper tour, and at that time ask about who we need to speak to in regards to transitioning a child with special needs. So far Nicholai seems quite excited and confident about the idea of high school, which is really good. I think the transition will be difficult, but so far he’s going into it with exactly the kind of attitude he needs to make it a success.

Speaking of Nicholai, his new computer broke! It completely crashed, and when he brought it home for Troy to look at, Troy said that the hard drive is completely gone. Either it’s just died, or possibly some cable or something has come loose- either way it’s of no use. I don’t understand why we’re having such terrible luck with our computers! We did buy Nicholai a refurbished laptop so the warranty conditions might be different, but I have to hope that they’ll repair or replace it, considering we’ve had it for a month and Nicholai’s only been using it for two weeks.

Although I shouldn’t say we always have bad luck with computers. I have continued to explore my lovely new computer and I love it. Assuming it lasts longer than Nicholai’s did, I think I’m on to a good thing.

Emma spoke to the psychologist at school today, which wasn’t really expected. She didn’t say much about it and I didn’t want to interrogate her, but I asked her if she thought it would be good for her and maybe help her a bit and she said yes. Although it turns out that the woman she spoke to today is moving, so it will be someone else next week, but I don’t think that matters. It’s probably easier to work with the same person all along, so starting with a psychologist who is also starting means they’re likely to be around for a while.

I had craft today, which was good. I did my Indo prep for tomorrow and am happy with it, and then I crocheted a little toy to go in a jar for the school fair. (They’re doing a lucky dip type thing with these jars- each jar will be numbered and then the kid pays $2 and gets a number which they have to match to a jar and they win the jar with whatever prize is inside).

I went up to school to photocopy my worksheets and collect the children after craft. I also got a cheque, so we dropped off at the office on the way home so I could deposit it. It’s always nice to see Troy and have a chat to some of the other people I’m friends with at the office. Then we came home and did homework and tried to learn the tricks associated with my new version of Word. While I do love my computer, I have to admit that having to relearn how to do everything does kind of suck.

Teaching tomorrow. The grade sixes are going tree planting at the chocolate factory so I won’t have them to teach. I don’t mind (the fewer students the easier it is) but it’s crazy how often various students don’t do Indonesian, or that we have to rearrange classes or something. I’m learning to be quite flexible with my teaching plans, which I definitely think is a good thing to learn.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

My new computer! It’s so shiny and beautiful! I’ve never loved a new computer in my life, I’m normally horrified by such changes, but this one is so, so lovely. It was waiting for me on the doorstep when I got back from my psychiatrist appointment, which actually freaked me out…are the couriers not aware that this object is now the most expensive thing we own??!?!? Anyway, I bought it inside and have spent several hours now downloading the programs I need and transferring some of my files over to it. It’s weird though, it being a Mac when I’m used to a regular computer, because I have to relearn how to do everything.

The psychiatrist appointment went well. It was pretty straightforward – basically a check in to see how the medication changeover is going. Since it’s going well we’re going to increase the Lamictal a little more, and keep the Effexor as is. I’m staying on the Lithium and Seroquel as well for the time being, but I think once I’m at a full therapeutic dose of the others I’ll wean off those.

I also talked to the psychiatrist about Emma. My gut feeling is that at the moment we’re just dealing with a sensitive, emotional girl who’s got a lot going on in her life and is now starting to go through puberty and the extra hormones and emotional upsets of that, and she just doesn’t know how to deal with it. However I wanted to make sure I’m not dismissing something important, and get some concrete information on when to worry. The psychiatrist was helpful, she went through the signs of a clinical depression with me (changes in eating and sleeping patterns, changes in function like her schoolwork going down, or not hanging out with friends, not able to enjoy anything) and that reassured me that we’re not there with Emma. She had a few suggestions for dealing with the emotional issues she’s got going on too, which I can hopefully follow through on.

It is an issue though. It seems now that she’s letting her emotions out a bit more she’s letting them all come out, because when I went to pick her up Kelli said there had been another incident at school, with Emma crying about her schoolwork and this spiralling off into other things that worry and scare her. Instead of a letter she drew a picture today, of herself standing all alone and then a bunch of happy people in a group. Kelli talked to her a lot, and then she asked Emma if she would like to have someone to talk to. There’s a psychologist that goes to the school and sees a couple of kids there, and would be able to fit Emma in too, so she told Emma about her and she said that would be okay. She usually comes on a Thursday, so while Emma won’t see her tomorrow hopefully I’ll be able to talk to her and give permission and we can get on to that next week.

When we got home I waited until all the boys were occupied and then I sat down on the couch with Emma to have a talk with her. Not that she talked. I talked and cuddled her, and she hugged my arm and cried and occasionally nodded. It was so hard! I mean, she was crying silently, but crying so hard that tears were dripping off her face and making wet splotches on my t-shirt…and she’s my baby girl and I would do anything I can to fix it for her.

Anyway, I talked a lot, and at least going by her nodding I’ve confirmed some of the things that I guessed might be troubling her. I’ve also eliminated things- I didn’t really think she was having any trouble with friends or school in general, and she’s not. I also talked a lot about some of the things I do when I’m sad (you know, because clearly I manage so well….oh, fuck my life!) and some of the things we can do for her to help her manage. Hopefully talking to the psychologist will help, and I think her teacher and me and Troy will be keeping a closer eye on her for a while. Since she’s been writing and drawing about her feelings for her teacher, I also asked her if she thought she might like a journal, and she said yes. I said she could keep it private if she liked, or if she wanted to share it with any of the adults she trusted to talk to she could do that too, and we’d all love to read it and talk to her if she wants that.

Mostly because of Emma’s journal we went out to Officeworks tonight. We also took back the printer we bought last month, since it refused to print on photo paper even though that’s kind of a basic necessity for a printer. We got a different brand this time, so hopefully it’s going to prove to be a better purchase. Emma chose a purple hardback notebook to be her journal, and I also found a magnetic notepad for our shopping list.

I hope she enjoys her journal and finds it helpful. I said that she should do whatever she wants in it, writing or drawing, and not worry about writing in it unless she wants to.

More than anything I just want her to grow up healthy and happy. It’s not that much to ask. I think I just have to have faith for her, since right now she doesn’t have enough of her own. She’s a bright, beautiful person, and I hope that one day she sees that.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

I shopped for Jericho’s birthday this morning. He asked for some action figures, so I went over to Knox to try Toys’r’us. They have a range of soldier playsets that I’m sure he’ll like, so I bought two of the smaller ones that have four soldiers each (plus assorted weaponry and dog tags) and a larger playset that has a troop carrier and some more soldiers. Honestly I feel like I’m raising him to be a contract killer with all these military themed toys, but hopefully he’ll grow up to be a civilised person. I did buy him a fishbowl and two robot fish to go with his war-monger toys, so maybe that will encourage a spirit of zen calmness in him.

Jericho can be quite funny at times. It’s all in the delivery- he can be quite deadpan and serious, or inject just the right amount of astonishment into his voice. The other night at tea Soren was complaining about his food, and Jericho just turned to him and said, “Respect the rice!” very sternly…so sternly that Soren immediately shut up, ha ha ha! Later on we were watching tv and something happened on the ad that made Jericho turn to me with his eyebrows raised as he said very seriously, “That is wrong on so many levels.”

I also spoke to Emma’s teacher today. She explained about how upset Emma got while they were doing the autobiography assignment, although both of us agreed it wasn’t the project that was the issue. We talked about other times she’s been upset, which have tended to revolve around times she’s finding her work difficult or something like that. Apparently when they were doing the pre-Naplan practice tests Emma got practically perfect scores, but was distraught about the one question she got wrong. Never mind that some of the other kids had half the questions wrong, and that they went through all the answers on the board and the kids were told multiple times that this was just for practise. Poor little perfectionist child…this is not a good way to be.

Her teacher talked to Emma when she got so upset with the autobiography the other day, but in the end Emma was just too upset to talk. When the teacher asked her if she could maybe write about it Emma nodded, and so that’s what they did.

Sometimes I just feel sad and stupid and I feel like there’s something wrong with me and I can’t explain it but it happens. And I don’t know why, and it makes me really sad, like I don’t belong anywhere and it’s strange and that’s why I sometimes feel sad and sometimes I can’t explain things so I feel stupid and sad.

So that’s my sweet, muddled little daughter who doesn’t know how amazing she is, and it crushes me.

Monday 21st July 2014

The computer problem is temporarily managed. I’ve spent hours backing up my files from the crappy new computer on to the external hard drive, and now I’m using my old computer to write my journal and surf the internet. This computer has an extremely noisy fan (that doesn’t actually work- it just makes noise) and the keyboard is heating up enough to make the skin on my wrist red and sore where it rests on it. I remember why I got the new one.

A more permanent solution is on the horizon. I’m getting a Mac. The crappy one will go back to the manufacturer and we’ll either get our money back or they’ll fix it and we’ll keep it for Emma. Fingers crossed that this actually IS a good solution. I’ve heard good things about Macs, both using them and their general toughness, and I have come to love my iphone, but I’ve still not used an Apple computer in a looooong time. As in, I used to use an Apple2E back in primary school! So I’m just hoping it’s all okay and that I like using it.

I felt good this morning. Talked to Rachelle, then did lots of vacuuming and laundry sorting and general tidying up. I haven’t been good about these things lately, and it was definitely showing. So that was all good, and then I went to school to collect the children.

It’s Emma. Nicholai’s teacher caught me as I went into their classroom and asked if she could have a word. She said she wanted to talk to me, but it wasn’t really something she wanted to have to talk to me about…this is never what you want to hear! And then she told me that there’s been something going on at school with Emma. Lots of tears, and for no apparent reason. She’s been telling her teacher, when asked, that she’s sad for no reason, that she just feels sad often. There’s nothing going on, she’s getting on well with her friends, her schoolwork is fine, but she keeps crying at school. Today they were working on their autobiographies, and apparently Emma just broke down and sobbed. Which is…not Emma. She’s been really excited about doing this autobiography, she actually took her cast from when she broke her arm and we printed out some photos of her with it on (she was only two then, and SO cute!) and yet now she’s crying about it.

Listening to all this, I just felt like someone had hit me. Seriously? Emma? She’s been fine at home lately. She plays with the others, and while there are lots of flouncy little growing up girl sort of moments, there are lots of good moments too, where she talks to us and tells us things, which is something she didn’t always do. I just was not expecting this from her, not now.

Heather (Nick’s teacher) said that they’re keeping an eye on her and doing what they can to encourage her and help her. She said it may be nothing, just some growing pains as she starts going through puberty, but that given everything else, depression is something we’re going to have to keep in mind for her. She wanted to tell me what was happening at school (I get the impression that this isn’t just a one off thing) and see if anything was happening at home.

I don’t know what to say about it. I can’t fathom watching my sweet girlie Emmanuella fighting with the same monster that lives in my mind.

I’m going to talk to her teacher tomorrow, and see what she has to say since she is more involved with Emma’s day to day school life. Maybe she’ll say something that can help me understand this.

I’ll talk to Emma after that. It worries me that maybe she hasn’t said anything at home because she feels as though she can’t say anything, that because I’m the way I am she feels that she has to act happy even when she doesn’t feel it. I want to make sure that she knows that she can talk to me, or Troy, at any time about anything. I can’t promise that I won’t be upset by difficult things, but I will always pull it together for her if she needs me. I also want her to know that if she wants to talk about things at home but doesn’t want to talk to me and Troy then we can sort something out with that too. Maybe she would feel comfortable talking to her teacher (who she loves) or we could find her a counsellor if that’s what she wants.

It’s not a disaster. I mean, we’re not in any kind of crisis and she isn’t either. If she is going to have issues with being depressed as she gets older, at least we’ll be aware of it early and be able to work out ways to keep her safe and healthy as she grows. She has so much going for her, so much potential, and so many people who love her and care about her.

But despite all this…oh god, my heart. My beautiful baby girl.

And just because I was talking about it, here are the photos she took to school for her broken arm show and tell- I still look at them and can’t believe how little she was to go through that. And then I look at me and think about the fact that she did this when Jericho was four days old and I just shake my head.

Jean took this one when Emma was unconscious and getting the plaster on- I didn’t even know she took it until later.

That sling was a doll sling I’d made her, since I had one for Jericho, but it came in handy for her arm.

And that’s Emma with the bear they gave her in the hospital, which she named Brave bear.

Sunday 20 July 2014

I hate this computer so much. I can’t even begin to tell you what a piece of shit it is, but of course because I am always complaining I will probably rant and rave about it for a while. I threw an absolute shit fit over it today, and something has to be done. I’ve only had this thing for six months, and I am just about ready to smash it to bits with a hammer. It’s NEVER worked properly, but the things that are wrong with it have always been random and difficult to explain. It’s slow, for one thing- slow to open things, slow to change between tasks (even between two word documents, or two webpages open in different tabs), slow to save documents and photos. But even this slowness is not consistent and varies- some days it’s not that noticeable. It also sometimes gives up on doing things halfway through- I’m used to having to refresh practically everything to get websites to load fully. Not to mention the way that every time I actually shut it down and restart it the web browsers no longer work and it also periodically refuses to let me do anything on the internet even though it tells me we are connected and it should be working.

I know, I know…why didn’t I take it back sooner? At first I thought it was just me, that it was because it was new and I never like new things, and I was getting used to windows 8 and all that. I thought that maybe I was just being picky, or stupid, because I really don’t know that much about computers and maybe it was all normal. It was just kind of gremlin stuff too- it seemed likely that sending it in to be fixed would just have them do a factory reset and I’d lose all my programs and they’d say it worked fine, and then it would still do the same thing. Also we bought it online, so it’s not like I can take it back to a store and talk to a person, I have to post it back and just….ugh.

However yesterday I tried to install the Sims on it (not that I had very high hopes of this slow machine being able to play it) and at first it tried, but after an hour or so the installation failed. I retried, and it failed a second time. Then today when Troy went to have a look at it, the dvd drive refused to read the disk at all and just kept spitting it out. It also spat out any other disks we tried to put in.

So that is ENOUGH. I’m going to have to transfer all my files to the external hard drive (which will take freaking hours and hours because of this goddamn slow piece of junk) and then I’ll send it back to the demons who created it and see if they can fix it.

While it’s being fixed I’ll try and use my old computer, the one that this one replaced. It was replaced because the fan was broken and it kept overheating and burning my hands while I was typing and then giving me the blue screen of death and dying for a few hours until it cooled down. However it is winter now, so if I don’t turn the heater on and use it during the day when it’s cold I think we’ll be okay.

Either that or I’m going to get Troy to redraw on our home loan and I’ll spend two grand on a Macbook Pro which is INSANE but I am literally that mad and fed up with technology that I’ll do it. And for someone as generally tight fisted as me that’s a pretty big deal.

And now I’ve spent an entire page bitching about my computer and out in the world people are starving. I am a terrible person. Ugh.

Anyway….until I started in on this computer crap, this has been a nice weekend! Yesterday Troy had to go to the office in the morning, which wasn’t actually that great. Really we have it good with his job, considering it’s only five minutes away, but during the next couple of months he’s going to have appointments on two Saturdays a month. Yesterday went okay though, I slept in for a bit and then did the dishes and chatted with Twilight Girl online.

Our new washing machine arrived around midday, and I’m so glad we paid for the delivery service- they bought it in and then unpacked it and took out the bolts that are in it for transport, levelled the little legs, and packed up all the packaging and took it away (all in about eight minutes). They also took the old machine away with them too, so we’re all done.

At least when you get a new washing machine you get to use it right away, because of all the washing you didn’t do when the old one was broken! So far I’m very impressed with the new one because it’s cut the washing time about in half- I admit to being slightly sceptical as to how it can wash as well when it takes half the time, but I’m willing to go with it and see.

Today Troy took Emma and Jericho to their hockey. Soren and Luna dog went too, and Troy said Soren was quite happy watching instead of participating. He played with his stick and a ball a bit on his own, took Luna for a couple of walks around the field and climbed on some rocks and basically had a nice, Soren time in his own little world. Emma and Jericho enjoyed their hockey, which was good.

I took Nicholai to football, which I’ve barely done at all this season. It was good though, I just sat in the car and read for the hour before his game, and then read during all the quarters he was on the bench. I watched the last quarter and took some photos, and then Nicholai’s team won. This was a “crucial match” for them, as he’d told me repeatedly beforehand, so he was thrilled, and there really is very little in life that is quite as happy as a happy Nicholai.

Nicholai did really make me laugh this morning. He was watching tv while I was doing the dishes, and then he said to me, quite seriously, “I’m just wondering a bit about what car insurance I might buy when the time comes.” It was just hilarious- he’s twelve and can’t drive, for one, but also what boy worries about what car insurance they’ll buy instead of what car they’ll buy?!?!

We all went to Costco this afternoon. We didn’t need anything too exciting, mostly just the same things we always need. I had thought it might not be so crowded late on a Sunday afternoon but I was wrong. Even so the kids were good and we got around the place without drama, although the children were disappointed by the lack of free samples.

Tonight’s been filled with computer rage and despair (seriously, some emotion instead of the numbness is probably a good sign, but this level of out of control fury is slightly alarming, to be quite honest) but now I’m eating jellybeans and watching Dexter with Troy, so it’s all good. It’s work for Troy and school for the kids tomorrow, so we’ll see how it’s all going then.