Tuesday 27th September 2016

We lodged Emma’s passport application this morning. Another step closer to our trip away! I really need to give some thought to what we ought to do and see when we’re there.

I took Emma and Jericho over to Steve and Jean’s this afternoon to ride the pony. Their neighbours are horse people, and after they heard about Caprice giving me trouble when I was riding her out of the paddock last time they said we were welcome to use their ménage. Jean has taken Caprice over there and lunged her, and then on the weekend she went over with Charlotte and they did some more lunging and Charlotte rode. So today it was our turn, although the weather kind of ruined it! We got her saddled up and walked her around to the neighbours, but by the time we got there it was really raining, so we wound up just staying under cover in the stable until it finally stopped. Jean lunged her, and then Emma led Soren around for a little while before she had a ride herself. I was going to have the next turn but then the rain came back with a vengeance, so it was back into the stable for us. This time the rain showed no sign of stopping, and as it actually started getting heavier as we waited we ended up leaving the pony in their stable and Peter drove us home, which was very kind of him.

I went through Emma’s wardrobe with her this afternoon. I’ve come away with a garbage bag full of clothes to pass along, and Emma’s come away with some very empty drawers and hanging space! It wasn’t any surprise though, most of her clothes have been looking progressively skimpier as winter wore on and I knew hardly any of her summer things would fit. At least now I know what I have to buy for her. Going through the boys’ clothes will be the next task, and I’m pretty sure they’ve all grown a lot since last summer so goodness knows how much I’ll have to buy between all four of them.

Monday 26th September 2016 #2

Here are some photos of my painting and baskets and stuff. The colour isn’t exactly right in them, but it gives you an idea. I’m getting some photo canvases made so there is still a couple of things to go up on the walls, but this is basically it. And it contains my family, since they didn’t want to leave the room and let me take staged real estate photos, lol.

Monday 26 September 2016

Jericho insisted that we have a puppet meeting this afternoon. He made me, Soren and Emma all sit at the kitchen table with him, bringing our puppets/ pieces of puppet with us so we could all show our progress so far and discuss our next steps. He was very serious about it – I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had whipped out a typed agenda and taken notes. He can be pretty hilarious sometimes.

Although I have to admit, it was a useful summit, just to see where we’re at and establish what the children actually want to do to their puppets next, and if we have the supplies for it. Emma is still doing papier mache so she’s lagging a little bit behind. She also hasn’t really planned out how she wants to do her body, so I don’t think her puppet will be finished these holidays. Soren has a featureless head that he wants to add eyes and ears to, and then he wants me to sew him a glove-puppet type body for it. Jericho wants to add eyeballs, fangs and hair to his swamp monster and then we have to sew a body and fix some rods for him to control it with.

I finished knitting a sweater and also knitted a little hat to match. The hat drastically improves the appearance of the scary alien puppet head! I also made hair for the other puppet, although I am a bit disappointed with that – it doesn’t really live up to my vision! I crocheted a cap and then looped yarn through all the edge stiches, then on stitches down the middle of the head so I could tie it in ponytails. I made a fringe, but that was a mistake. Once I glued it onto the puppet’s head I was less happy with it, but really I think it’s just the weird and wonky head shape and it’s about as good as it’s going to get.

Nicholai printed his grand final record at the office this morning and then went about selling it on the streets of town. He did okay with it, sold all the copies he’d made and was able to pay Troy for all the printing, so whatever he makes from here on out is all profit. It’s all quite enterprising really.

This afternoon was interesting. I was watching youtube while I did my knitting, and I ended up watching a show called ‘Born Naughy’ – basically parents have their impossible children and then a doctor and a paediatrician organise assessments etc to discover if the children have a diagnosable issue causing the behaviour problems, or if it’s more a matter of parenting strategies being needed. Anyway, the show itself was pretty thought-provoking, and Emma, Jericho and Soren ended up coming over and watching it with me. It turned into a great conversation starter with them, because on each episode one of the children featured ended up being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. And while autism has been a huge part of our family life, Jericho and Soren know almost nothing about it.

I guess I just never thought about needing to deliberately talk about it with them. It’s never been a secret – Nicholai has known his diagnosis since he was reasonably young. Emma was with him when we went to Irabina, with him when he went to all those appointments and therapies, and only a year behind him in school and in his class for all her early years. She was well aware that there was something different about him, and so the conversations happened naturally.

But for Jericho and Soren it’s been different. Nicholai was diagnosed before either of them were even born. By the time they were old enough to remember, Nicholai was in school and doing well, and they’re both far enough away from him in age that his odd behaviours have never really registered with them in the same way they did for Emma. I guess they know Nicholai’s a bit unusual, but he’s always been this way and that’s normal for them. I actually told Jericho that Nicholai was autistic earlier this year, but Soren had no idea when the subject came up today. I think it rather shook his world view a little bit – to him and Jericho Nicholai is a pain-in-the-ass genius, and to actually have it laid down that he has this condition that is diagnosed by doctors (and isn’t just him being a jerk) is probably quite shocking to them. It was a good conversation though, and actually a rather good way for them to learn about it, since the show explained a little bit about it in a way that I think they could understand quite well.

It made me think that I should buy another copy of the book that Nicholai read and that led to him understanding about himself. I lent it to someone and I never got it back, but it might be a good read for Soren.

Sunday 25th September 2016

The painting is finished and apart from the kitchen curtains the house is put back together again. It looks like someone else lives here.

I even replaced the canvas storage boxes with the baskets today. And it was the end of an era – the storage boxes along the bottom row of the tv unit that have held toys since the day we bought it have been cleaned out, and the toys are gone. A couple of things I’ve put aside to take down to mum and dad’s place, and the Little People and all the wooden Thomas train tracks and accessories have been crated up and put into the shed for safekeeping, but the rest of it went into the donation bins out the back of the office. What toys the kids still play with can be kept in their rooms now, so for the first time in fourteen and a half years our loungeroom is a toy-free zone. (Okay, apart from the bucket that has the dog’s toys in it.) And really, it’s a bittersweet moment…I love to watch them grow, and I celebrate every milestone and am happy for them with every gain in independence and confidence and ability, but god, there are times when I miss my babies. There was so much that was beautiful about that time in my life, and every day it falls further and further behind me.

Anyway, when I wasn’t being astonished that my children are actually growing up, today was pretty productive. I woke up early – actually I haven’t been sleeping in at all these holidays, which is absolutely unheard of for me, truly bizzare – and started in on doing things. We were supposed to be going to Great Nana’s for a family working bee, but I was too angst ridden about my own messy house to go and clean someone else’s, so Troy took the kids and left me home on my own. Which was probably good really, as that way everyone got done what they needed. The kids helped with the cleaning there and had fun with their cousins, so they didn’t mind about going. And they were all home by after lunch, so no one had to miss out on their computer or Wii turn, which is what they really care about.

I did some knitting too, on a little sweater that will form the body of my puppet. I think I should knit more doll clothes honestly, it’s so quick and gratifying and tiny sweaters are pretty adorable.

My puppet heads are less than adorable at the moment though. They are weird alien shaped things, with giant staring eyes and no mouths. I used acrylic eyes that I got from Spotlight (the same ones I’ve used in my crocheted toys) and I’m not sure it was a good choice…they’re actually rather frightening. I am hoping that when I add hair that their appearance will improve, otherwise they will be more the kind of thing to give children nightmares, rather than enhance their puppet play at school.

Nicholai finished creating his Grand Final footy record today. He’s going to take it to Troy’s office tomorrow and get it printed, and then start hawking it about. He has emailed Dad who has apparently got him promised sales from his office, so he’s off to a good start. He assures me it’s an impartial document too, without a supporter’s bias towards the Bulldogs.


Saturday 24 September 2016

I finished the painting today, and it looks like a whole different house. I really, really like it, and that’s something I would never have imagined I would say about grey paint!

It’s not just the paint though. Because I’ve been painting I’ve had to actually sweep down cobwebs and clean windows and screens, and put away the pile of bags and the esky that have been taking up space in my kitchen corners for the past year…stuff like that, which would have made a big difference even without paint.

We’re not finished with all the organising and tidying up yet. The loungeroom is still a bit of a wreck, and the kitchen curtains still need to be put back up. The hardware had half pulled out of the wall so we took it out and filled in the holes and will reinstall it at a slightly higher point on the wall. New curtains would be good for the kitchen, since the ones we have are really faded, but it can wait. I’ve taken down all the sheers too – the dog had kind of wrecked them along the bottom so they really needed to be replaced, but our garden has grown up a bit and so I don’t feel as though the privacy they offer is as necessary as it was.

I’ve been working on this puppet project with the children along with the painting. It hasn’t been as good as I hoped. Emma and Soren are having fun, and I am enjoying making them, but Jericho is making the whole activity so stressful that it is kind of overshadowing the positive. I had really hoped that doing it at home would give him the time and space to relax and let his creativity go, but it hasn’t happened. He’s riddled with anxiety about the whole thing, hyper critical of everything he does, and really exhausting to try and manage.

He’s just so difficult. And it’s so hard to deal with the fact that it doesn’t matter how hard I try, he’s still not happy. Sometimes I am just so scared of his future.

The Bulldogs are playing in the preliminary final tonight and Nicholai has been so nervous about it all day. The game has been really close too (it’s on now as I’m typing this, we’re all in the loungeroom watching it), so there has been no relaxation for him in watching it! He’s grown up though, a couple of years ago a game like this would have had him in tears from the stress of it, but he’s quite composed tonight, at least at the moment. I want them to win so much though …I don’t think I’ve ever cared about a football game as much as this one, and it’s just because a win would make my little bear so happy.

Thursday 22nd September 2016

I finished painting the loungeroom today and I really like it. There’s some dodgy finishing here and there (I would not be scoring highly if I were on The Block, put it that way) but it just looks so fresh and new, I love it. I’ll take photos once I’ve put the room back together, and swapped out the canvas storage for the new baskets.

I started on the kitchen, doing the easy bits over the sink and the bench. The kitchen won’t take that long really, between windows and doorways and cupboards and the dresser (which I’m not going to move) there aren’t actually that many walls. I was thinking today how it feels like it’s going much quicker than when I painted last time, but that’s because I’m not doing the ceiling. With all the beams running through our ceiling that took forever, and I don’t think it matters that I’m not redoing it now.

Emma had an orthodontist appointment this morning. Last time we went he was happy with her mouth and said she didn’t have to wear her retainer anymore, and I kind of thought we were done with everything. Today he was less happy with her teeth – that eye tooth is still coming down but now it’s started pushing the tooth beside it back and he thinks that maybe it won’t have enough room. Damn it! He didn’t really say much more than that so I don’t know what it will mean. I think she might be too old for another round with the expander, so maybe it will be more braces or something. Taking out a tooth to make room? I don’t know. It’s just disappointing (and potentially very expensive!) when I thought we were basically finished.

We went to Officeworks for magazine holders, to Big W to collect some photobooks and to Woollies to buy some fruit and spaghetti on the way home. I had all the kids with me which could have been horrific, but they were pretty good. They all like Officeworks – Jericho gave me advice on magazine holders, Nicholai played Crossy Road on the display phones and Emma and Soren spent the whole time testing out the pens.

I had said I’d watch Charlotte and Sophie today, so once we were done shopping I called Steve and he brought them over about five minutes after we got home. They’re no trouble really, but my god the house gets so LOUD when you add any extra kids! I swear the noise level quadruples, completely out of proportion to the number of extra children. Apart from the noise, having them here was fine. They all played in Emma’s room with Barbies and Little Petshops in the morning, then played on the Wii after lunch, then went outside on the trampoline and played trampoline dodgeball with Soren and Jericho. April came and picked them up about five.

It’s one of those things though, I totally don’t mind having them here but I really, really object to the way Brett tries to manipulate the situation. If he came right out and said, “I really need childcare for the girls on X date, can you possibly help me out?” I’d be a lot more likely to say yes, and go out of my way to make it work. Instead he is always like, “Charlotte and Sophie really want to go over to your place and play with Emma and I was thinking Thursday would be good.” Like…don’t bullshit me! Just ask! Ugh.

Jericho’s friend Rylan is coming over tomorrow morning. And see, that is happening because Aimi texted me and said that they’re going away, and her mum is going to look after Rylan but can’t come until the afternoon, so could he possibly come here in the morning? So I totally said yes, drop him off anytime, we’ll give him breakfast if he hasn’t eaten, no problem. So much simpler. And hopefully he and Jericho will have fun – last time Rylan came over he got sick and I had to call his nan to come get him, so I suppose it can’t go worse than that.

My day will probably consist of painting. And cleaning. And organising. And papier mache puppets. This is possibly the most exhausting school holiday ever.