Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.. The house filled with the smell of sautéing onion & celery, roasting turkey, & voices. I harbour many memories from days gone by in which I was a child & when my children were younger & we lived stateside. 

Celebrating American holidays while living overseas can be far more difficult. First off, cranberries aren’t traditional where I live & the only way I can find them, aside from overpriced Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, is via the dried fruit section of my local health food stores or grocery. This year, I splurged the big bucks on the pre made type in a jar.. That’s living on the edge folks.

Turkey. It brings it’s own hue of troubles. I don’t have a large selection to choose from & it’s limited even more when I have to read the labels thanks to annoyingly pesky food allergies. Did you know that some companies inject fowl with corn or wheat?! True story that, & nothing says, “Give thanks” quite like losing your turkey on the dinner table, or watching your kid crawl across the floor because his joints hurt so much from ingesting wheat.
Yet, not to be totally ungrateful for the dilemmas that it brings, it makes us more grateful for what we can find & use. The changes to our menu are pretty odd, I’ll give it that, but it adds to the luster of celebrating an American holiday in Australia.. & let’s face it there is nothing “normal” about a mixed cultural family.

We constantly mix our words up & find ourselves explaining Australian terms to our American family & vice versa. Our children use to be convinced they could speak 2 languages because they’d interpret things one or the other of us said for family or friends who suddenly seemed utterly confused by the words we spoke. I’m pretty sure few of us will forget the lecture we all received over the luncheon table one day as our 5 year old explained dummy vs pacifier to us.. Just last night we debated the use of the terms dentures vs false teeth.. It’s really not a wonder our neighbours find us to be such odd peoples.

So here we are, Thanksgiving again. I’d had plans to celebrate in style even if it was only the 4 of us present. Games, fancy tables, the whole huge feast, & our traditional Christmas Movie to put the night to bed with. But life happened & and it changed everything.

Which is why I found myself in the grocery last night, Wednesday, picking up our normal groceries & chucking a couple of fresh chickens in the trolly. I’d all ready read the ingredient label on ever single turkey in the meat department & each one made me roll my eyes & mutter about the stupidity of adding anything to meat.

Mr S caught us up & we were wandering down the final isle of the shop.. one child debating the choices of yogurt while the other said the beauty of a dairy allergy was that he wasn’t faced with such BORING choices. While they debated onward I noticed a section of frozen turkeys.

I let out a soft chuckle which brought Mr S over to ask what was up. I pointed out that the turkeys in purple weren’t fresh they were clearly frozen & we had one just like in the freezer, but that unfortunately it was purchased prior to the corn & wheat issues. Then I noticed turkeys in green wrappers, the only ones I hadn’t previously looked at. I picked one up & was delighted to see that aside from potato starch & sugar {why?!} it was just plain ol’ turkey.

I stood there holding that ice cold turkey in my hands while I debated the idea of putting back chicken & replacing it with turkey. I opposed the idea & threw it back in the freezer when Mr S says, “I wondered what we were doing for Thanksgiving this year..”  I pulled the turkey back out & returned the 2 raw chickens. He didn’t hesitate to offer to put the chickens back himself.. never mind they were $20 cheaper then the frozen turkey no squashing his beloved thick cut fruit bread.

Nope, the only cry after the turkey was in the trolly was, “So, what kind of pie are we having.” That, my friends, is what I’m truly thankful for. A husband, who gets it without a need for any explanation. The one who, despite only being in the business of celebrating the holiday for the past 16 years, is only worried about the pie instead of the insane price I paid for a small frozen turkey.

This is, after all, the same man who insisted I buy the turkey 2 years ago when I firmly stated we weren’t having turkey because the prices were getting insane. After all, “We only have turkey once a year & it’s tradition. Buy the turkey.” “But..” “Buy the turkey, we’ll eat it. We’ll make everyone eat it.” Which wasn’t a lie either.. there was turkey on Nana’s plate & she despises the stuff.

So, what kind of pie are you having? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Irlen/SSS Update

Thank you all for the lovely sweet comments, notes, emails, & Facebook messages of love, prayer & support as we travel this road with our boy. He's doing really really well & even managed to survive his appointment with our beloved Dr T. Our boy tested positive for Irlen/SSS {Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome}, which wasn't at all a surprise to us.

We strongly suspect it is playing a huge roll in some the anxiety he is dealing with, but to what degree we weren't sure. I kept prepping him for the upcoming appointment by reminding him how awesome Dr T is & that she never minds if anyone lays on the sofas or chairs while it's not their turn. The night before he declared that he wasn't nervous at all. Morgan was delighted to hear that news because he seriously adores Dr T, & had spent many many days telling Jayden how funny & kind she is.

When it was his turn he calmly climbed into the chair next to Dr T & read the stories she asked him, but, as is often normal in our home, couldn't tell her as much about it as he should have been able to. I've often lamented that this boy's reading comprehension is low unless he takes a laboriously long time to read. He also struggled with the next set of tests she gave him, but she never makes failing seem so bad. She tells them how smart they are & how great they are for trying over & over.

She's often impressed with the coping mechanisms each child she meets has come up with in order to get through the daily grind. She noticed our boy had a habit of head bobbing. This is true, but then his whole body is often in motion so it's difficult to decide which portion of him is moving & why. However, she caught the head bobbing as a way he was coping with keeping track of things in math. I actually burt out laughing when she pointed that out & told her that normally he's so busy wrapping himself up in the curtain I can't see anything but a flash of child before I drag him back out to finish his work.

Having been through this process with our eldest it was a calmer experience watching our younger child go through this. It was so interesting to watch him hold up the tints to his eyes & watch his body either lurch {wrong colour for him} or come to a complete halt in movement. At one point he was unsure about a colour & I just looked at the Dr & pointed under the table: Jayden's foot was thumping. She suggested he try the other pair & his foot came to a complete stop as he gawked around the room & commented about how calm he felt. The child who'd been huffing & puffing when anxious or unsure of himself was breathing normally. His shoulders dropped & he just sat there looking around. When Dr T suggested he go to the window & have a peep outside our boy didn't hesitate. He told us everything he could see & then commented on how clear everything looked instead of fuzzy.

Our eldest had a change in colours too, which are closer to my current tints. As normal he'll have something like 4 billion colours in his tints. Okay, maybe only 4, but it's always amazing to me when he has so many! Jayde & I each only have 2. My tints are darkening up, which isn't a surprise to me either because I've been struggling with a lot of migraines & fatigue again lately.

We're currently waiting on SpecSavers to hustle up with our new frames so we can pop them in the mail to Dr T, who will ship them off to the Irlen Lab for us. Prayerfully our frames come in tomorrow so we can get our glasses prior to Christmas.

In the mean time Morgan will keep working with his lovely Viza Blue paper via Optix & Jayden will now be using Zena Grey via Optix. Both are part of Australian Paper & can be purchased via OfficeWorks. I had to purchase the Zena online because our local office shop {not OfficeWorks} was out of stock & our boy is desperate to finish off his math book in order to wrap his school year up.

Check out the difference in his handwriting & math skills in the photo below. I sat there smug as anything while he was working & he kept giving me the stink eye & finally said, "STOP! Are you sneaking photos of me?" "No." "Well, you're creeping me out!" So I told him to fetch his old math book & put them side by side. I also pointed out I hadn't had to ask him to rewrite any numbers which is when he started grinning too.

As an aside, the math problem on the white paper is actually one of his neater problems. Yep, neater.. I'm insanely curious to see how writing & spelling will go for this kid now & super anxious for his new glasses to come. Crazy, how colour can help or hurt, right?

Friday, November 20, 2015


A few weeks ago I walked into the kitchen & found the Weet-Bix on the counter with a gaping hole in the box. I looked at it for a minute & sighed.

Mr S is a die-hard Hawks fans. For those of you not living in Australia they've finished as Aussie Rules Footy Champs 3 years running now.. The problem is Morgan is a Cat's fan. If you don't live in Australia you're probably thinking, "No big deal.."

But let's just say arch rivals doesn't generally touch too closely on the ugliness of a match between these two clubs.. They can be pretty ugly pretty quickly. We're talking fights, umpires screaming, match bans, the works.

Morgan is the sole, & only unfortunate, Cats fan in the house. So when he was sent off to fetch the Weet-Bix for Mr S last month he popped the box in the trolly & chuckled. No one really tought about it until Mr S went to put away the Weet-Bix & there atop the front of the box was a Cat's player. Morgan burst out laughing & said, "Gotcha! I could have gotten the plain box, but I figured you'd REALLY appreciate seeing Selwood every morning while you had breakfast.."

Well, Mr S fixed the problem & attacked the box with a pair of scissors. Unfortunately he missed the picture on the back of the box & proceeded to puncture the cereal bag so I had to transfer the whole lot of it to another box. I noticed the new box in the cupboard, delivered to us by the Grocery Delivery man, a die hard Tiger's fan, has the same picture on the front.. It also has a Tiger's player on the back. I chuckled while I threw it up in the pantry & considered writing to Weet-Bix to ask when the Cricket stuff will be back on the boxes..

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I realise we’ve been on a blogging strike for over a month now, & considering the emails I’ve gotten I thought it might be wise to update the blog. Truthfully life has been crazy & busy with all sorts of stuff happening & by the time the day ends it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open to get in the bed! Needless to say blogging took a backseat, all though I told a friend I might consider blogging random photos with completely unrelated posts because I was even being slack on photo taking around here. She thought the idea pretty clever, but I’m afraid no random sharks or roos would stand still long enough for a photo.

We ended Term 3 with a delightful closure & soaked up every moment of our weeks off. Unfortunately, they weren’t all bliss as our youngest child witnessed something horrific that set off a bad enough anxiety attack we landed in the ER with him the night before Term 4 was due to start. It was a harrowing experience that I’d like to never repeat & the emotional roller coaster since has been even harder to climb.

It brought back memories of when our first born was quite sick & we felt utterly hopeless in knowing what was wrong or how to help him.. it makes you grateful for Drs who know what to look for & how to deal with the problems that arise, doesn’t it?

The emotional roller coaster we’re dealing with now is a pretty crazy ride, & I’ve never been one to delight in any form of a fair ride to be honest. He made some great progress in his first week of recovery while we followed out instructions, to a T, from the the therapist. However he had some setbacks due to a bully & an equally ugly situation at the park. It set us back in his second week & was so much harder to come back from.

I use to say, a lot, that I hid in the pantry when the kids were younger & hit major milestones. It’d go in there to have a cry then pop out again right as rain & ready to cheer them on, what a funny memory it was to think about while I was standing in my bedroom bawling like a baby while taking a moment for myself during this crazy crazy ride.

This has been a good week. A delightful week. A week in which we’ve been more protective then we probably needed to be of our child. He explained it best last night when he said, “My medicine helps my brain know that I’m not scared, but sometimes my insides still think I am. I hate that part because they won’t listen to my brain to be quiet & stop being afraid.” Then he danced off for a campout in the lounge room as happy as a lark.

It’s a journey, & one I wish we weren’t on, but we are & there’s nothing we can do but plod it together arm in arm. I’m grateful for family that understands we’re not avoiding them right now, but giving our child space to heal in. I’m pained when my son lashes out & screams, “You didn’t see what I saw!” I’ve stood there & cried right along side him while telling him he has every right to be angry & sad & every other emotion he’s dealing with all rolled into one. Life goes on, it waits for no one. 

I’m so grateful for a husband who whisks me away every morning & evening for a walk so I can pretend that life is perfectly awesome as the rising & setting of the sun. So we can laugh & share the highs & lows of our days. I’m grateful for a teenage son who willingly sits beside the bathtub to keep his little brother company. There was a time when that same teenager was just a preschooler & would intentional pinch or slap himself when baby brother cried. Why? Because when he’d say “ow” baby brother would roll with laughter.

These days they talk about all sorts of grown-up-ish things.. The latest item they are taking apart & putting back together.. I’m pretty sure it’s nerf guns this week because there are enough springs & screws all over the place to drive me batty. Yet each one is known & named & each altered device is preciously guarded lest someone should hurt themselves. There’s chatter of a robotics club they are looking at starting, & which character got the raw end in which book.. or the exclamation that everything bad happens in Kansas.

My youngest missed the memo about our beloved Paris, which we can’t help but say with our phoney French accent from our French studies this year. He knows something happened, he knows the country closed it’s borders & he knows that the world is right because the sun rises every day, but he can’t handle any more information then that. Not without a break down, or a set back. He holds on to the innocence the rest of us wish we still had in todays aching, breaking, & hurting world. 

Sometimes I envy that. The bliss. Then I am reminded to pray & my heart breaks all over again. For all the wrongs & hurts. For the lowly places so many are coming from & going to. For the depravity of it all. The loss of sanity & common sense while we all suffer the invasion of incomprehensible selfishness.

Then he runs through & squeals with delight about some new idea that’s brewing.. or the building excitement that his Cricket season is starting. Soon. This week. Then fear creeps in as he worries about all the strange people he’ll have to be around. If he’ll have enough power & energy to run without getting weak. He wonders how much fun he’ll have & what colour his team will be. He can’t wait to start, & for a moment he’s the same sweet boy he was before, even if just for a moment.

School carries on in it’s own strange way. We’re nearing the finish line here for the year, but math just won’t seem to go away. Or spelling. So we plod onward & upward despite the cries from one that math is a horrible awful enemy, nearly as bad as glue. Glue has been his mortal enemy since he could utter the words “mortal enemy”. I dunno why, the stickiness I guess.

He’s good at math & can do most problems in his head, but transferring it to paper discombobulates him. He’s being tested this week for Irlen/SSS. He’s excited & nervous. I agree with him.  His brother told him to stop fussing it’ll be awesome; at least someone is excited about the upcoming appointment!