Saturday, May 7, 2011

A year of horror, a new business, and a growing toddler....

Well, this year has been eventful so far if nothing else.

First we had the Qld floods, followed by Cyclone Yasi. That was January. February saw the Christchurch Earthquake. My 2 oldest girls live in Christchurch, so seeing the news flash, while in the waiting room at the local hospital, saying 'mass fatalities' was pretty scary!! Took about an hour from then to get a text from Alicia saying they were both okay! Sara had been in her first Latin lecture at university when it hit. After the uni closed down for a month or so, lectures re-started in tents! They are still getting aftershocks (in fact, they never stopped after the September 4 quake), and personally, as a mum, I find it pretty scary having kids living there.

March it was the massive quake, tsunami and nuclear fallout in Japan. April there were masses of tornadoes in the south of the USA. We are only a week into May. I hope and pray we don't hear more bad news!!

Here, in little old Roma, we have been through a couple of more floods ourselves. In March we went to the Gold Coast for a week to see my sister, Sonia while she was over from New Zealand. On the way home, travelling at 90km/h in the dark, and towing a trailer, we hit a wall of water, and got swept across the road. VERY SCARY!! We then got to the Bungil Creek (the one that keeps flooding Roma), and were one of the last vehicles (and only cos we were in the 4WD) that was allowed through for the night. Then a couple of weeks ago, we went down to Brissy for the day to get some of our stuff out of storage. We left Samara at home with the bigger girls to spare her a 14 hour round trip in the car. Then the floods hit again! We didn't get home til 2 days later!!!

Feeling the pennies pinching through all the ups and downs of the last few years (and months in particular), I decided I needed to try and do something about our finances. So I revamped my facebook page, and started selling a range of clothing, and also promoting my t-shirt designs to raise disability awareness.

I am now selling my designs on a massive range of products through two sites. and Feel free to come and have a look, comment, or better still, buy! LOL.

I have also started a blog about disability awareness, and hope some of you will come and join in, and guest blog your stories.

Then there is the toddler. The little princess that got me blogging in the first place! She is growing like a little weed! Here she is in one of 'my' t-shirts and a gorgeous tutu I had made for her for World Down Syndrome Day.
She is learning more and more words, and even starting to string some simple phrases and sentences together. Although, she still prefers using Makaton signs. She especially loves signing animal names! Her favourite word is 'dowaty', and even if we tell her to say dinosaur, she says 'dowaty'! She has also started saying 'henwywywy' for Henry the Ocotpus! Oh, well, as long as she knows the important words!! LOL

She is sick at the moment. Has had a couple of nights in the hospital, and last night was up with me from 4am! She may end up back up at the hospital tonight, as she is finished her round of predimix (baby prednisone), so won't have that extra protection.

And me? Well, I'm just plain tired! Too tired to even think of anything else to share with you. So for now, I'll luv ya and leave ya!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere

Well, the last couple of weeks have certainly been eventful in the state of Queensland.

The state has seen the worst floods in history. 75% of the state has been declared a disaster zone. That is an area roughly the size of 6 average sized states in the USA. More than 4 times the size of my homeland of New Zealand. This thing is HUGE!

Here, in Roma, we have been blessed. Our place flooded twice, but it was so minor compared to what others have been through. We were living in a highset house, so the water only really affected the laundry and the storage under the house (and we moved things up onto the verandah). Mind you, even with moving stuff out of the way, we had 2 prams and an exersaucer go mouldy, just because it was so darn wet!! The water also meant we couldn't get stuff out of the house for the move, but hey, it was still not that bad. The only other problem we have had is lack of food in the supermarket. People went into panic-buying mode. And the shelves in Woolworth were quickly emptied. You see that sort of stuff on TV, but it was quite eerie seeing it happen before your eyes!

As if all the flooding wasn't enough, disaster hit Toowoomba a week ago, with what has been described as an inland tidal wave. This city, which sits on top of a hill received so much rainfall that a 2 metre high wall of water swept through the inner city, taking cars, furniture, and sadly - people, with it. People were out shopping one minute, and swept to their deaths the next.

Being on a hill, the inevitable happened next. The flood waters rushed down the hill, gaining speed as they went. The Lockyer Valley was all but wiped out. Entire houses were swept away. More people went with them. Some may never be found. Others are being found on a daily basis as the search for bodies goes on.

From there, the flood waters swept through the city of Ipswich and on into Brisbane. Many thousands have been left with nothing. Some houses will be able to be rebuilt. Others will not. Some people will be able to rebuild their lives. Others will not.

Many people will not even get insurance payouts, because their policies don't cover floods. And with so many people claiming, the insurance companies will be fighting to stay afloat, and are likely to be very tough on people.

In amongst all this heartache and ruin, is a family I have met through our wonderful network of Down Syndrome parents. They have two young children, Brodie who has DS, and Harvey. I would like to do something to help them. They have already had it pretty tough, and having to replace their belongings, and rebuild their lives won't be easy.

I know there are going to be a whole heap of sob stories out there at this time. And I know we can't all give to everyone. Which is why I want to choose this one family. With one family to focus on, we can really make a difference. We cannot change the world, but we can change things for this one family.

There are also people out there who have people fundraising on their behalf who are trolls. People who are getting people to raise money for them when they haven't even met the people in question. Many of you will have had experience with the person in particular I am thinking of. But I can tell you, Ange has not asked for anything. She is a real person, who I have met in person. She would probably refuse help if she knew I was doing this, saying there are others worse off. But that doesn't change the fact that she needs this. And I want to do what I can for her.

If you are able, even if it's only a few dollars, please chip in at the link on this page, and when we have enough to make a difference, I will get this money to you, and let you know how this will specifically be helping her. I am sure my IRL friends from the DS community will be able to keep tabs on it all and ensure she receives the money (less any paypal fees, unless these are small enough for me to cover myself - I have no idea what they charge) that is given.

Thank you. And please, even if you can't give financially, remember this family, and the others in Queensland in your prayers.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the last 4 months

Wow, I didn't realise I hadn't been on here since September! Before the big move to the middle of nowhere! Life has been so busy, that I simply never seemed to have the time to come over here.
And, now, when I finally sit down to write, I have a certain 11 year old standing over me wanting me to spell every single word of a letter to her friend out to her. Well, not quite EVERY word, but it sure seems like it!! No rest for the wicked eh?!
Our move to Roma was a bit of a disaster. One of the wheels fell off the caravan, before Michael and Christiana had even left the outer city limits of Brisbane. The RACQ towed them to safety, and they had to drive out here without it, arriving at 4am the next morning! The following week, they drove down to get the now fixed caravan, and got as far as Toowoomba before another wheel fell off the same side! This time, they managed to tow it to a repair place by just going really slowly! (it's a twin axle caravan). They left it with the mechanics, and this time asked them to check EVERYTHING!! Went back down the following weekend and finally got it home. All in all, it cost us $2000 we hadn't planned on!
We have found Roma to be a very friendly town for the most part. Having a child with a disability is actually a real advantage when you are somewhere new! Through Samara we have met a lot of people, and people I have no idea of having met, stop to talk to us in the street, because at some stage they have crossed our paths, and they remember Samara!!
The only pediatrician out here visits the town once a month. We have only met him once, but he seems really good. He put an action plan in place so that if we take Samara to the ER with a cold, she is automatically admitted and monitored, which is great. Not that I like being in hospital, but she can go from perfect sats to crashing in a matter of minutes.
She has only had to be admitted once since we came out here, and I have to say, she was pretty popular, being the only child in the hospital! LOL
The early education unit at the state school is not as good as the one in Woody Point. I guess I expected that anyway, but I do miss Woody Point. Next year, things are going to change a bit, and Samara will be in a smaller class meeting once a week, rather than the current once a fortnight, with a lot of bigger boys on the autistic spectrum - a bit hard for her to take. I am hoping to get the teacher to impliment some more music and art once this happens.
We have had 2 floods out here since we moved. In one of them, our house ended up on the channel 9 news! We had to move the stuff in storage under the house up onto the porch. Good thing this place is up on stilts!!
Samara has had several trips to Brisbane and Toowoomba for various appointment since we moved out here. She had another sleep study, which has shown no improvement since she had her adnoids removed. I have asked them to do another one in the winter time, as her sleeping is a lot worse then. She has also been fitted with hearing aids, but it is such a pain to use them, cos she takes them out and hides them! Sneaky little child! LOL. But her speech is certainly more clear and she is more talkative when she has them in.
Also, her overall demeanor has changed a bit lately. I took her in for blood tests, and they are showing high levels of Renin and Tri-glycerides. The first test showed high potassium levels too, but this has settled. She is going for a scan today of her kidneys to try and figure out what the problem is. She may need further testing on her liver as well, but that will be determined after her next blood test in a months time.
A month ago, Renata came back home from her year in New Zealand. At first she was unsure if it was for a holiday or to stay, but she is now working at Woolworths, and intends staying for a while at least. It has been good having her here, and she has grown up and matured so much during her time overseas.
Christiana is also working at Woolies, which has been great for her confidence. She is coming along really well, and getting over some of her shyness issues (but not all! LOL).
Sara is still in New Zealand, and has moved in with Alicia in Christchurch. I am really missing them both at the moment, and wish we could be closer.
Bryanna is becoming a real teenager now. Making a lot of her own friends, and even overcoming her intense dislike of boys! She still vows and declares she is never getting married or having a boyfriend cos that's gross, but at least she isn't automatically dismissing half the population as potential friends any more! At this point in time, we are thinking her learning difficulties are more likely to be related to an acquired brain injury she had at 5 years of age, rather than Aspergers Syndrome. But we can't investigate it further until we have our Permanent Residency sorted out!
Mahalia is coming along a lot with her reading difficulties. She is even reading chapter books now. She is still a bit behind maturity-wise, but I can see some changes that will hopefully be enough to see her through.
For Christmas, we made a Christmas Tree for the town's Christmas Tree Festival, that was all decorated in blue and yellow (DS colours), and had photos of many of the DS children I have 'met' through the internet. I think it was pretty successful, and the local Disability Support Services took pictures to include in their newsletters.
This week, along with the floods, we are in the process of moving. The owners of this house are moving back in in a couple of weeks, so we have to move on. We thought we were going to have to live in the caravan, as we can't find a place to rent, but we have been offered a 'crisis' house in the meantime. Pretty disgusting though. The last tenants were obvious druggies, and very messy! But at least we will have a house to live in! Speaking of which, I should probably be doing something to help with the move.......

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Party and a Shake-Up

Well yesterday's earthquake is still top in most Kiwi's minds. There were a few of us at the party yesterday, including to Ch-Ch families. Alicia is working today which seems a bit soon. They are expecting a quake measuring 6.0 by the end of the day, and they have gale force wind warnings in place for today as well. Hopefully there are no more injuries. Just really thankful that there were no deaths! Even in Timaru there were breakages, like the top of the spire of St Mary's church. There was also a pub in Temuka demolished (Temuka is a small town about 20km north of Timaru.

Last night Bryanna prayed that Alicia would sleep under the table. But not because she was scared. Because it was cool! That child comes up with some interesting logic sometimes LOL. I do still worry about her. Having a child in the midst of it all kinda changes how you view these things. They are feeling aftershocks every half hour or so, some over 5 magnitude.

Here's a picture I swiped from the internet. Tried to get some better ones, but I kept getting this one as it was part of a slideshow.

On a happier note, Samara had a great birthday party. Apart from a major choking session after eating a Dorito that is!

I haven't uploaded the camera yet, but last night I took this picture of one very exhausted little dinosaur.

She fell asleep in her highchair without touching her dinner at about 6.30 and slept through until 9am this morning!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Christchurch Earthquake

Well, I was woken at 5.30 this morning by Sara ringing me from New Zealand to tell me that there was a massive earthquake in Christchurch this morning. She knows me well enough to wake me up and let me know they are all okay, rather than let me read about it on Facebook and freak out!! LOL.
Alicia lives in Christchurch, and said while it was freaky, they are all okay. Power is out in most of Ch-Ch, but not her place, so she is pretty lucky there!
It seems kinda hard to believe really. I mean, there are quite a few small earthquakes there, but I don't ever remember there being one that caused damage. Seeing the photos online doesn't really equate with Christchurch in my mind!
Personally I hate earthquakes. They really scare me. So I have to say, I am so glad I wasn't still in New Zealand right at this moment.
Apart from Samara's birthday party later today, it is also her cousin Hannah's 10th birthday party today. I am thinking that maybe the attention will be more on the earthquake than her. I hope not though. And I hope she has a great pool party! Good thing it's in Timaru, not Christchurch. Otherwise it may have had to be postponed.
Well, it is 7am now, and the family will start to wake soon. But I am exhausted, so going to try and catch a few more zzzz's.
Please keep the people of Christchurch in your prayers, as damage becomes more apparent, and as they deal with the cleanup, sewage problems, and looting.