Friday, March 27, 2009

more help from Isaac

Our last day of packing then we get the key to the new house at 4.30pm tonight.

Some hiccups though - a phone call yesterday to say the gas men cannot get the aga to light. I have phoned the aga suppliers and downloaded stuff from their Internet site so I hope that gets resolved soon or we'll have a beautiful looking kitchen which we can't cook in!

Noah's school are having a teacher only day today so he is helping me pack, Isaac is on top form having started the day by pulling over a cold cup of coffee from by my bed, this soaked his cot, himself and the carpet. Then while I took J out to her taxi he found my pot of dry skin cream and got it everywhere.

I am looking forward to a weeks time when we are in and settled - ha ha!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Isaac's help packing

Isaac was very quiet while I was writing my last entry - it was because he'd decided to help with the packing by sorting out the toilet!

Packing, packing, packing

I hate packing - I start out enthusiastic but then find that things just don't fit properly. We are at the stage now where there are all sorts of bits left, we will probably have 10 boxes marked miscellaneous. In the study just in front of me are a piece of lego, a CD a playstation game, some maps, a picture from Noah's bedroom and a white board.
We have been able to put a few loads of stuff in the garage of the new house but although the garage there looks like it's got a lot in, it hasn't made a dent at all into our stuff here.
Hannah is moving out of her flat and currently sleeping on the study floor and I have Isaac helping by carrying various objects from one room to another a jumbling things still further!
We should get the key to the new house on Friday afternoon and then have booked a van and three men for the Saturday.
Luckily there is a sleepover at church for Noah J and Hannah on the Saturday night - that is if we can find any sleeping bags by then!

Monday, March 23, 2009

And goodbye Sam and Anika

Sam and Anika left at 5.30 am today to get to Auckland in time for their removal van.
They came for a goodbye lunch yesterday. Anika doesn't like spices and luckily for her we had already packed the chilli so we had Chille con carne sans chilli! I also had to ask Sam the food technologist a hypothetical once I'd smelt the mince we were about to use. This was "Suppose a nine year old with Down syndrome had tried to help unpack the grocery shopping one afternoon and suppose his mother next morning had found a portion of mince in the cereal cupboard and immediately put it into the freezer - would such meat be safe to eat?" The food technologist said if it was cooked hot enough any bugs would be destroyed but it might taste funny. But Paul cooked it so well that it didn't even taste funny.
We took some photos and Noah presented them with a picture he'd drawn of Wall-e.

They will be visiting for Easter, so it's not too long a goodbye and it's good to know they will be living with Beth.

Photos from Friday's tea party

Hannah's friend Diana (who runs the Zone 21 youth group along with Hannah) is doing a photography degree, so she was made official photographer for the tea party, she got some lovely shots including these of our family.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

World Down syndrome day

As Down syndrome is due to 3 chromosome 21s, the 21st day of the 3rd month is World Down syndrome day.
In NZ we have national awards for 3 people with Down syndrome presented at a tea party. Usually this is at Government house (and 2 years ago it was prince Andrew who presented the awards) but as the Governor general was busy this year, the awards were held in Palmerston instead with the mayor hosting a tea party at Caccia Birch house - a beautiful original homestead of Palmerston. Because its a small venue tickets were limited to 2 per family, but having three children with Down syndrome we managed to count as 3 families!
There was a lovely afternoon tea with cup cakes decorated in purple and orange (the colours of the NZ Down syndrome association) these were in front of us all through the award presentation which came before the tea party and stopping Noah and J from eating them was quite hard. Noah was pleased because his school teacher was there too and it was very helpful when she let him go and sit with her so I could catch up with some old friends.

I was quite exhausted even before arriving at the tea party as I'd had Noah, Lily and Isaac at the optician that afternoon. Noah tried so hard to behave but he loved the big machines around him so much that every time the optician looked away, Noah would surreptitiously lean over the side of the chair to touch the machine. One time he nearly fell off. Noah was very pleased when he could wear the special glasses as he thought they made him look like Wall-e.

Lily came in next and her sight is much worse than Noah's. Noah tried to help her along - Lily said "I think that letter's a C" and Noah said "No, It's an O"

The outcome is that Noah needs glasses for his long sight . Isaac as we knew from the hospital needs glasses for his squint and long sight. We had come to this particular optician as one of the staff has a daughter with Down syndrome and so has a particular interest in fitting children with Down syndrome. They often have trouble because of no bridge to the nose and very small ears. The optician is trying to import some special glasses from Canada. these were designed by an optician there who couldn't find glasses that would fit her daughter with DS. We will try these glasses for Noah and Isaac, but Lily found some frames that fit well from the usual display. She is paying the $500 for these and was planning to spend another $250 for lenses that go darker in the sun. - I stopped her doign thsi as she has no idea of the value of money

We also ended up with a referral to the ophthalmologist for Lily as the cataracts she had as a baby seem to have grown and now impinge on her vision and may need removal. The waiting list for the public hospital is so long that we decided to let her be seen privately, so that will be another $100 cost for poor Lily.

We are still trying to work out what to do about buying hearing aids. If she was still at school they'd be free, but now she's at work she only gets $200 off the more than $4000 cost. This is practically her salary for the year - it would almost be worth sending her back to school!

Joe has made it safely to Korea. We talked to him on Skype - what a great technology - totally new and scary for me but it doesn't cost anything and we can see his surroundings.

His aim for today was to try and find another Westerner - he hasn't seen one yet!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Goodbye Joe

Joe is currently on his way to Korea. It was cut pretty fine as he only got his visa the day before he left after going to the Korean embassy in Wellington on three consecutive days.

Most of what he needed to do got done beforehand, we just have a few things to pack up and store and his falling apart car (which legally belongs to Paul) to be given to a friend and ownership transferred.
This is the picture of our lounge the night before taken over with Joe's things that were not going to fit in his case - in fact he had to remove 3kg worth as he was overweight at the airport.

here's the family at the airport just before his flight - Sam kindly gave us a lift there and returned later to pick up Hannah (I think he is looking forward to fewer taxi duties once he's in Auckland)

Hannah was planning to see Joe in passing at Auckland airport as she was returning from a Coldplay concert. She was due to fly back on the plane Joe was getting off - there is a 20 minute turnround time so they would literally meet in the outdoor corridor on the way to the plane.

In the end her flight was changed to an earlier one so she just crossed planes with his mid-air though and didn't get to say goodbye.

One of Hannah's friends Dale had been at the Coldplay concert too and his plane back to Christchurch was delayed so he was able to meet Joe from the Palmerston plane and have lunch with him at the airport.

Then Beth went to the airport after work and had tea with Joe. She phoned at about 9pm when he had just gone through passport control (he had 11 hours in Auckland airport to get cheap flights!)

Today the removal van is packing up Sam and Anika's flat.

We move out in just over a week so are producing lots of rubbish. I went out to the bin today though and was amazed it was almost full already when the bins were only emptied yesterday.
Then I remembered asking Lily to take the recycling to the front to be collected yesterday ........ and sure enough she had taken the recycling out to the front but had then put it into the just emptied main bin!

We have also just heard about Lily's hearing aids - Does a cost of $4,600 seem somewhat excessive?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I had to take Lily for yet more hearing tests today. This time though (probably because we were paying an audiologist) they were done with a little more time and care than usual. The first results were pretty much as usual with Lily not hearing voices till 80 decibels, then the audiologist asked her to just guess what the words were at lower volumes and Lily was still getting some right at 35 decibels. With the sounds and beeps she still scored very badly but at one point said "That beep is really loud but I can't hear it" Maybe she is totally confused about how to do the test.
Anyway she is now booked for an ABR (auditory brainstem response - a direct test of what the brain hears) in early May, and on Friday week (just hours before we get the keys to the new house) will be fitted with hearing aids.

On the way home from the audiologist I stopped at the hairdressers and I quite like my new short cut.
I picked Noah up from school and asked him what he thought of my hair.
He replied, "Your hair is confusing!"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

learning patience at a disco

Here is a good test of remaining calm under provocation.
  • First read from your son's school newsletter that there is a Friday evening disco but only children from that school can attend.
  • Then have your seven year old foster daughter keep saying how much she wants to go too as she loves dancing (this is true) and knows lots of people from Noah's school (also true)
  • Eventually ask the teacher representative of the parent teacher committee for permission to bring a child who goes to a different school because she is Noah's foster sister
  • Be granted permission on the proviso you stay with both children throughout the disco
  • After school on Friday withstand constant questions and chattering about what clothes are suitable to wear to a disco
  • Leave your hard earned cup of coffee to get down a box of unused and outgrown clothes and help choose disco outfit
  • Allow child to wear gold shoes that look like Hannah Montana's but mean the child can only shuffle along rather than walk
  • When about 10 yards from the entrance to the disco hear the child say, "Maybe I'll just sit with you"
  • Enter and remain for two hours in a dark noisy school hall with excited screaming children
  • Watch your son have a great time and dance with lots of people while your foster daughter sits on a bench at the side of the hall, refuses to even stand up and doesn't even acknowledge others who want her to dance
  • Dance yourself to "YMCA" in an effort to get your foster daughter to join in only to have her tell you you're embarrassing her
  • After she asks you three times for a dollar to buy some food, give her a dollar
  • watch her cross the floor to within 2 yards of the stall selling chippies (crisps) then turn round and come back because she's not sure how much they cost
  • Have her ask constantly for more money as she has now dropped the coin on the floor and lost it
  • Finally hiss at her, "Noah is tired and if you don't want to dance we're going home"
  • Have her look at you like you're the meanest adult around
  • Wait until the lights go on and the disco has finished and the child has still not danced, then ask "Did you enjoy the disco?" without sarcasm

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

audiology and goodbye dates

A very long afternoon following on from Isaac's one o'clock audiology appointment today. The audiologist found Isaac had fluid in his ears (not much surprising about that as he has DS and also a terrible cold) then tried to do a distraction test - when children hear the noise from one earphone they turn to that side and a musical puppet plays. Isaac would not turn his head to sound. but did decide to dance - in the end they counted it that he could hear when he nodded his head in time to the beeps!!
I said I was more concerned about Lily as we hadn't heard back from the audiology department like we were supposed to. She dug out Lily's notes, said the audiologist who'd assessed her had left (making them even more short staffed than usual) and that Lily should be fitted for hearing aids immediately with her level of hearing loss. So I have to make an appointment tomorrow for a private audiology clinic.
I started walking home, having planned this as great exercise. Unfortunately today's weather forecast was totally wrong and the showers disappearing in the afternoon were instead a torrential downpour. This meant that rather than home I just made it to the shops! I bought J a new school fleece, for ages we've been asking her mum to return the long sleeved fleece but have now discovered mum doesn't have it, which means that J probably lost it at school but coped by telling mum I had it and me that mum had it!
I found some Wall-e Easter eggs which will please Noah and Joe phoned me to say how convenient it was that I was in town as I needed to pay for his ticket to Korea at a nearby travel agent (he has promised we will be reimbursed as soon as he arrives!) he'd just heard that his contract has been sent and flights have been booked for next Thurs March 19th. Sam and Anika leave the next day, so it will be a sad week of goodbyes for us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Korean restaurant

Joe turned 27 yesterday and for his birthday we decided to go out to a Korean restaurant just to get an idea of what he'll be eating for the next 12 months.
We are lucky in Palmerston to have such a wide selection of ethnic eating places - although I think I prefer the Cambodian, Mongolian, Thai and Indian.
We weren't brave enough to try the squid or other sea foods but did have dumplings and the fermented vegetables that come with every meal. Lily and J tried everything - Lily even finished up everything no one else liked, but Noah wouldn't open his mouth at all, He drank a glass of coke and sat and looked at some chicken, beef and carrot for the entire meal.
Hannah was away at a youth leaders conference and Sam and Anika were in Auckland finding somewhere to live (they've found a 5 bedroomed rental in Hillsbrough which they'll share with Beth and her boyfriend James) so it was a small family affair eating out.
His imminent departure made it easier than usual to find suitable birthday presents and we gave him a Korean guidebook and phrase book, and a souvenir T-shirt which has the NZ map done with place names (and Palmerston North is even included) and a souvenir note book with a picture of kiwi fruits on.

Lily has had her hair cut again - this time very short- and as we found out later she had again taken in a photo for the hairdresser to follow. Not Harry Potter, Professor Snape or Zac Efron this time but Hannah's favourite TV character "House"!
We've also been given a definate date for getting the keys to our new home - March 27th.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

house nearly finished

Paul's taken some more photos of our nearly finished house.
This is the aga which so held things up - as you can see it fits perfectly on the concrete slab. We are waiting now for the granite worktop to the left to be fitted then a mock chimney breast will be built round the aga with a wooden mantelpiece.
They also have some open shelves to fit either side of the two windows

this is how the aga fits within the whole kitchen taken from the garden - the island unit needs its tap and finishing board round the breakfast bar

this view of the back of the house shows how badly the garden has suffered during the building, the solar panel has just been fitted on the roof, the columns have just gone up and are waiting to be painted white
the garage was put up by another (much cheaper) company but matches the house fairly well - I doubt it will ever be used for a car but it should fit all the garden equipment and things Joe plans to leave behind while he's in Korea
This shows the downstairs living room, we had a bookcase made to match the kitchen units, which you can just see looking into the kitchen
This isthe view you get coming in the front door, the design of the banisters is not what we expected but we've decided we quite like it and the light matches them well
I thought I was quite brave choosing the dark paint colour for the upstairs lounge - we thought it matched the river view well
this is the landing seen from the lounge - we're glad now we paid the extra for wooden doors
and finally the one room of the house that will always be tidy and child free for me to retreat to - our ensuite - there's a massive shower to the left too
We should be in 3 weeks today! Unfortunately this means both Joe and Sam and Anika will not be here at its completion - Sam and Anika are off to Auckland on March 23rd and Joe hopes to be off to Korea in just over a week. It seems strange that Beth will be the first of our older children to see the completed house when she visits for Easter.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

still here

OK I'm reminded to post as Beth needs something to do in her spare time at work.
We are basically whiling away the time hoping the new house will soon be finished. The hold up with deciding whether or not the concrete block was the right size for the aga (it was!) delayed things by over a week - but the aga is installed now ( I went to have a look this morning and its beautiful, I just hope it works!) so soon the floor coverings should go in and the rest of the taps and bathroom stuff. We were given a tentative date of finishing by 20th March but I think that maybe a bit over hopeful.
Paul and I went to speak to Js "lawyer for the child" for an hour this week at his request. It is such a complex case with so little evidence. He spoke to J at school too. I think this is so at this weeks appearance before the judge they can set a date for the contested hearing. So hard to know which way this case will go, or even should go. Let's hope it's a very wise judge.
Noah had swimming sports at his school. He was obviously cheered on by most of the children as he made it across the pool with his float. I was told he'd been second by one child and third by another - but Noah didn't care. In his head he'd been taking part in the movie of "Cars" and had won the piston cup!