Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beautiful things online

If you believe everything you see in the media, you
would be convinced all that lurks online are paedophiles, perverts, sex addicts and any other nasty you can think of.

Sure they are there but so too are all the most beautiful things as well.

My foray into "online" started way back when A first received his implant and I was online reading all I could on that subject. That foray online lead to the formation 10 years ago of CI Circle, a wonderful internet resource for parents that are seeking information about implants for their child, or contact with others who walk the same path, but perhaps are further along in the journey and able to offer advice based on real life experiences.

In my time online I have "met" so many beautiful people. I use the word "met" because I have met almost none of them face to face in person. I have met some of their children when they have travelled half way around the world and stayed with me, yet I haven't met their parents. Most recently Rachel came to stay with me which was very exciting as her mother and I have been online friends for quite some time now.

When CI Circle first started 10 years ago, there were 9 original members including me. All of the original 9 still communicate with each other today 10 years on. Granted not always as often as we would like but we still stay in touch, update each other on things going in our lives. We have shared in the highs and lows of births of children, illness of family and friends, marriages not surviving and other moments of personal reflection. At Christmas we send cards to each other and if you are really organised like Heidi you even get them to Australia from the USA not only in time for Christmas but with a family photo included. Each year I aspire to be as organised as Heidi but I haven't quite got there yet - my cards went, but not in time to get there by Christmas though : - )

Another person I have come to know in more recent times is Val. Val is it doing it kind of tough at the moment with her sweet boy having his implant removed because of infection and now going through all the processes attached to it. Not that Val would let you know it though, I am not sure I have ever met such a glass half full kind of person, she is truly amazing. As she said herself, you can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself or else you will get left behind while life goes on! There are a few of us CI Circle Ladies as Val calls us who have tried to be there for Val and her son. Not that we are close enough to be able to go over to her house bearing wine and chocolate, but she is in our thoughts and we send her messages at different times, even whilst she was in hospital and her son in surgery we were emailing knowing she could read them on her phone! Yet none of us would be in each others lives unless we had "met" online.

Jodi's blog today talks of someone she "met" online who she finished up exchanging gifts with. This lady had a profound effect on Jodi and many others as she spent many hours offering advice and support to parents via the Listen-Up forum. Such was her positive impact on so many, there is currently an outpouring of grief at her recent passing from inflammatory breast cancer. It is quite a thing when you stop to think about it that we as humans have this capacity to give such warmth and compassion and support via a written forum over the internet that can have such a profound effect on the lives of others that we have never "met" and in most cases probably never will.

It isn't that our friends and family at home don't love us and cherish us and be there for us. It is just that there is something about connecting with someone who has walked the same path, been on the same journey. All our stories have little differences in comparison to each other but none the less, there is this connection we feel. This shared journey connects us all. For each of us on our journey, we have "met" many people online but there is for all of us, a small bunch of people that we connect with at an even higher level. They become our dearest friends, who we share many of our thoughts and feelings with, and they with us. They become almost like our extended family spread all over the world. The funniest thing I find is if I go to speak to a friend or family member here about one of my "online family members" - I laugh at the look on their faces. WHAT THE ???? is clearly spread across their faces.

"You have never met this person in real life though"
"Ah no"
"But you know so much about them and their families"
"Ah yeah"
"But you have never met them, right?"
"Ah no, not in person"

And so it goes on! I guess if you haven't had it happen to you, you just don't get it.

I have been so fortunate to have so many amazing people join my extended family, my online family I haven't met in person : - )

However my New Year 2009 is looking very very exciting when I am going to get to meet in person one of my oldest and dearest online family members. She is one of the original 9 members that CI Circle started with. She and I have similar family dynamics, two sons pretty close in age, oldest being the one with hearing loss, both of our boys having implants. Her son is married now but when we met he was in high school/college days. I jokingly called her the "den mother" as she was the one of us with the oldest child and who had walked the pathway well before us. She and I just clicked right off the bat and enjoyed our conversations with each other online. In the most amazing display of generosity, this den mother has offered her accrued airline points to fly moi to the USA for the Cochlear Celebration conference in March 2009!!! She lives close enough to where the conference is being held that I am going to stay with her and we will commute to the conference each day. I was so astounded at her offer I must have asked her several times "are you sure about this?" - she was and my flight is now booked. I am so unbelievably excited. I am getting to finally meet one of my oldest and dearest online friends. I keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming.

The funny thing is one of the things she shared with the group of 9 was how much she wanted to re-do part of her garden and then we shared the time with her when she finally had it done and had this beautiful part of the garden where she could just go and sit and have a cup of tea and enjoy her surroundings. When I knew for sure I was going, that was the first thing I thought of, that I would be able to sit in her garden with her and share a cup of tea in her special piece of serenity in her part of the world - how awesome will that be???

I'm sure I am preaching to the choir here since you are all onliners reading this, but there sure are some beautiful things to be found online.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

So many blessings

Ok I think this blog post might need to come with a warning "navel gazing may have occurred prior to writing this post" *smile*

Maybe it is the time of the year, I don't know, when there is anticipation in the air and of course the question that always comes up "so what do you want for Christmas?". Hubby asked me this again the other day, and honestly I couldn't come up with anything.

Like I said to him, I'm not much of a material/things kind of girl. I mean gifts are lovely, but then you have to find somewhere to put it. In all seriousness I have so many gifts already in my life, I think my cup runneth over as they say in the classics.

I have a wonderful husband and 2 gorgeous sons. Yep we are not the pretend perfection of the Brady Bunch or anything like that, we have our sh*t to deal with like everyone else, but we work as a family unit, we have a home filled with love and support, a safe haven for all of us.

I have my extended family, especially my brother and my mum - the cool kind of family that if you don't happen to touch base for a bit because life gets in the way, there is no guilt or emotional blackmail, there is just sincere warmth when we do catch up - but again if any of us needs the other for any reason, we are all there in a shot!

There are the friends that have made it in to my life via karate - those that share a passion for this stuff. People who make me laugh with their blog posts, others who send me the most beautiful messages via facebook, messages that take my breath away and at the same time make me feel so incredibly humble. Even parents of the kids we teach at karate, who take the time to tell us how much they value what we do and the care we take of their kids in the dojo.

Then there are the friends met on my journey with A. What a mixed bag they are, from all walks of life, all over the world, and each with their own unique story but with that common bond we share.

There is Mr 21 who just graduated from a Bachelor of Economics, at the same age equivalent as his hearing peers. Incredible achievement from the guy who implanted at age 3 had about about 50 words!!! And he is the most gorgeous young man to boot. Oh his mum and dad are pretty awesome too for that matter.

Rachel and her family - the ones who walked that path before us, and her mom that continues to educate and advocate for those little ones and their parents who are just starting out on the journey.

Val and her family - talk about a woman who looks at a glass half full! She is going through some tough stuff with her family at the moment, but doesn't let that drag her down - oh no, she not only takes it in her stride, she uses it to build those amazing bonds with her children and to use those circumstances as life lessons for them that will only stand them in greater steed as they get older.

There is the incredible mom I have known for over 10 years who has very generously offered to try to get me to the USA next year for the Cochlear Celebration, so I can stay with her and finally meet her. Best of all if I actually get to go there, we can get to share a cup of tea in her garden that she has had re-done in the time that I have known her. I have heard so much about it, I look forward to the possibility of just sharing that cup of tea and quite conversation in the beauty of her garden.

In a nutshell, really what material gift could I possibly need? I am already incredibly blessed by the people who have entered and become part of my life during the years of my own journey here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A tourist in your own town

This week it has been our pleasure to host Rachel for a few days. She has been in Oz for a few weeks and heads off to New Zealand after leaving us today.

Having someone visit your own town makes you think of places to go, things to show them, especially when the time line is tight.

So the first evening we walked around our local area and the resident wildlife were gracious enough to oblige themselves so that Rachel could take some nice shots of them.

The next day she was to present a seminar to a group of parents of deaf and hearing impaired children about bilateral cochlear implants.

However not before we squeezed in Glenelg and its surrounds, including the marina. Where else would we partake of lunch??? The Orange Spot Bakery of course - the first time I have ever had a sweet potato and spinach pasty and oh it was sooo good!

Off to the seminar and then home for a rest and a catch up. It is neat hearing about differences between the USA and here!

The next day it was off to Warrawong so Rachel could pat a kangaroo. Followed by the compulsory visit to Melba's chocolate factory and Woodside cheese - mmmmmmm

And with just a little irony, having patted the kangaroo at Warrawong, we chowed down on the same thing that night for dinner at the Red Ochre - very nice meal and nice company as well when some other family friends joined us.

The last full day was spent exploring the city, and looking for an Adelaide snow globe, because Rachel likes to collect them from each city she visits. May I say that Adelaide officially SUCKS when it comes to Adelaide snow globes!!! There is one small round one with nice stuff on the outside but a very small Victoria Square fountain in there - something like this but a little larger might be nice - but no can do. Then there are these larger ones with a photo from Adelaide kind of stuck up one side, very tardy looking - and that was it - nadda nothing!! How embarrassing - but get this!!! At the Central Market they had no Adelaide ones but one souvenir shop had two Sydney ones WTF????? Are you serious?

Fortunately though, the Central Market did turn it on for wonderful atmosphere, fresh food and lovely people. We headed home with some prawns and SA fruit for a yummy dinner.

Today we farewelled Rachel to the land of the sheep and wish her well for the rest of her trip.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What an amazing experience

B went on the school Quest camp this term. It is 2 weeks away in the Grampians. The whole undertone of the program is "perseverance, selflessness and community spirit" - not something one would usually link to 15 year old - boys in particular.

It is a great program where they really learn a lot about themselves and others.

Activities like abseiling.....

Or the solo night out, where one has to build their own makeshift shelter that they sleep in that night. They can see each other but have to be far enough away so they can't talk to each other - B's comment after he came home "gives you lots of time to think when you are by yourself"

Or the fun of working together as a team to build a raft to get to the other side and even though members of your team tell their "captain" it isn't going to work, he refuses to listen. So onward you and then well you were all right - check out B who was adamant he was going to get his shoes wet!!

Then of course there are the shots you get to see when they get home and you are really really glad you see them after they have arrived home. Afterall in order for them to take these shots, they had to be up this high at some point!!! Yes best their mothers didn't know that this is where they were...

The school uses mentors on these camps that are student teachers who are still studying and have chosen outdoor education as one of their electives. What an unreal prac placement for them too.
As if B didn't already have an awesome time but on his last day of school this week, he (and all the members of his group) received a letter from their mentor about her thoughts and experiences on Quest, her memories of each them. With it was a CD of all the photos she had taken including one printed on to the CD itself - it was a whole group shot with the "team sicko" written underneath them - of course they felt suitably proud to be labelled with that tag. Mum thought B came home from camp looking so buff because of all the things they did - it appears from the letter perhaps it was due to his inclination to swear of late, 10 push ups for every time he was busted swearing....hey if nothing else it built on his fitness right????

Saturday, December 6, 2008

They are sent to mess with your head!

Every wondered why we have kids? Sure it is to love them, cherish them and all that good stuff - but in reality, they are here to mess with our head, to stop us getting ahead of ourselves!

Take the hormone tornado of Friday afternoon.

Yesterday when hubby and I arrived home after grocery shopping, the hormone tornado (unasked and unprompted) came out and helped unload everything.

Then started putting stuff away! I kid you not! This from the ball of testerone induced madness at the world and all the rules in it, not 24 hours before.

This morning (when I should have been cleaning) I sat at the computer, whilst hearing snippets from the next room of B and his Dad making their home made version of ferrero rocher chocolates. It was really nice and B had the best time and really really enjoyed himself. In the craziness of life it was nice for Dad and son to spend some time together just hanging out doing fun stuff together.

Yup they sure mess with my head and keep me on toes - but wouldn't swap them for anything!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The numbers are in

OK so boy wonder has been working hard - note BEEN - he is now on holidays while we all have a week to go!!

He finished his last exam on Wednesday and today they were collected.

Italian 18/20 - now that just blows my socks off I tell you!
English 6 (max is a 7)
PE 38/40
Science 86% (with a note from his class teacher that was the top mark for the class!)
Maths 62%

He knew he hadn't done well in maths and it was a hard paper by all accounts but overall he is really happy with how he has done! I am pretty damn impressed myself *smile*

I called him today from work to let him know and he was quite chatty and we talked about the big picture stuff - got to say, still really love that he can chat on the phone with me like that.

End of the day the hormone tornado blew in to my office with a full on ready to rant about stupid rules, b***h management staff - oh yeah on a roll and then some - he could of got a gig on Kath's recent blog post I reckon : - ) Well as the story unfolded he was indeed in the wrong - try telling that to a hormonal 15 year old - and we talked about why the rules are in place and you don't have to agree with them buddy, ya just have to live within them.

My final words as we were almost home - I point to my head and say "look" and he is like "what you don't have any grey hair" to which I replied "yeah and lets just to keep it that way!!!"

He has chilled now, got home, hanging with his big bro and all that has been forgotten for now....you see, fate/destiny/higher order powers what ever you believe in really has just a sick sense of humour! They give you one to lull you into a false sense of security that maybe you have a handle on this parenting game - then whammo hit you with the bleeding obvious of the fact you should realise, like everyone else you have no clue!!

He is a good kid at heart and I know we will get through this and all I can do as mum is to be there, keep communicating and trying to guide him in the right direction -as he so elolquently put it today "Hey I have only had a couple of catch up classes and one Friday afternoon detention in 4 years at this school!" Yes indeed he has and that puts him well on top of the behaviour pool of some in his year level!

Roll on Christmas holidays - not long now and then I get the added bonus of having Rachel here with me for a few days!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The little details

Well when I left the world of the commercial biotechnology for a job in a school, many a person shook their head in disbelief. Why are you doing that? Aren't taking a huge pay cut? Won't you get bored? etc etc

Sure in my current position, I don't have the pressure, I don't have the long family unfriendly hours and perhaps sometimes not the challenges either.....but...there are other things like seeing young kids engaged in science and enjoying their time in the lab. Getting to try out new and exciting things for them to do in their courses the following year....

But the biggest thing is most definitely being on the ground at my boys' school. I am not a teacher so I don't attract the baggage some kids have when their folks are teachers. However it is because I am around that I really get to appreciate all the little things that happen in and around the school that wouldn't happen if I wasn't so accessible.

Take today...a member of staff saw me in the yard and approached me to discuss an issue that had been forwarded to her, and to get an understanding of the issue for herself.

Then later I returned to my work area to find a message on my phone from the head of special ed. A isn't in the special ed program at his school but he does get the extra time allowance for exams. He is just completing his year 10 exams this week. The message on my phone was the head of special ed checking in with me to see how A was going with his exams. I called her back and she just wanted to see how he was going, if anything else we hadn't foreseen had come up that we might need to look at for next year and the year 11 exams. How cool is that???

See, just because I am only a quick call or conversation in the yard away, I have conversations I know simply wouldn't happen if I didnt' work there - not because the staff don't care but because they get so busy.

Ah yup I sure do appreciate the little things these days....