Category Archives: Life of Lara

Brain Squirrels

Click here for a fabulous picture of a Brain Squirrel!

I had my birthday last week. 47.

A few weeks before that, I had an experience that forced me to confront the fact that my attention issues really were a thing. There was a job vacancy that I thought I would be perfect for, and I wasn’t asked to apply. There may be other reasons too, but the brain squirrels weren’t helping.

That neurotypical people don’t develop post office phobias. That neurotypical people can live their lives without losing something every single day. They can break down a task (like writing an essay, or going to the post office) into logical steps, and then tick them off a mental list as they are achieved. They can complete higher education. They can maintain relationships with people they care about, and if those relationships end, they understand why. They can keep a stable, boring job. They can stay awake through a powerpoint presentation.

That neurotypical people don’t have squirrels in their brains. And the squirrels aren’t on party drugs.

The day after my birthday I forced myself to go to the GP and talk about my symptoms. My mouth opened, and it all came out at once. Before I had barely begun to explain, the GP swivelled on her chair and started to write the referral to a psychiatrist.

A week later almost to the hour, I was in the office of a psychiatrist who has a special interest in adult ADHD. I filled out the screening test paper, and was told that in the spectrum of ADHD symptoms, from mild to “holy shit, I can’t believe you survived to adulthood”, he said that I have been “suffering under a heavy burden of symptoms”.

Here is a pretty clear description of the inattentive subtype of ADHD. This is what I have, not the better known variety with hyperactivity.

Yesterday, I started medication. It’s going to take a while before we will get the correct dosage and medication, and find the right combination of long acting and short acting meds, but I am hopeful that within a few months, life will stop being so hard. And maybe I’ll be able to get to the post office to send you that baby vest I knit when your three year old was a newborn.

Harry Potter Themed 9th Birthday Party

Harry Potter 9th Birthday Party

Guests were asked to arrive promptly for sorting into houses. They were then sent in for wand making (sticking washi tape and sparkles on to chopsticks), and then to Professor Moody for Defense Against the Dark Arts (Pin the Wand on a large poster of Harry).

Then they were sent outside to practice Wingardiam Leviosa (balacing a baloon on a wand tip), while waiting for Divination class.

Cheryl made a brilliant Professor Trelawney (albeit without the sherry fumes), and some kids loved her class so much they wanted to do it twice!

While Divination was in session for one house at a time, Brooke ran History of Magic (Harry Potter trivia), and Vish ran them ragged with outdoor games.

We then had snacks and cake and present opening, and finished up with a herbology class, putting Extract of Murtlap and Bubotuber Pus into small jars for potions lessons at home. Preferably in the bathtub!

A wonderful time was had by all the kids, and all of the adults were driven to gin. Thank you to my wonderful professors, and Angi who quietly helped where it was needed and helped everything to run smoothly. I have had some lovely thank you messages from parents, which make all the effort worthwhile (as well as having a happy kid!).

Happy Birthday Squidilng

Inigo 9th Birthday

Kid went to bed 8, woke up 9.

Went to bed with Ogden the Octopus, and his new favourite soft toy “Zombunny” tucked inside his pyjamas. Zombunny was an early Christmas present made by the wonderful Cheryl, and he is perfect. At nine, he is still the kid that is late for school to stay with a dying monarch butterfly, has meaningful relationships with soft toys, and one particular tree at school.

At nine, he is still generous with his kisses and cuddles, still loves extravagantly, and still holds my hand to cross the road. But he also plays chess like a fiend, can ride his bike all the way to school, and climbs all the way to the top of the indoor climbing wall without a trace of fear.

He is brave, he is sweet, he is kind and he is clever. He is every bit as wonderful as I ever hoped he might be, and he keeps getting more and more himself, which is an absolute joy to watch. The last few years have brought some tough challenges, and he has recently proved to be more than a match for them. With the support of his teachers, he has gone from strength to strength this year, and (touch wood!), we may have found the magic formula for engagement at school. See the previous few posts for more detail.

And today, we finally had the initial assessment with an Occupational Therapist. It will be a while before we get the report back, but it looks like we might be finally on the road to a diagnosis, and some support for his challenges.

After the OT, we had lunch at his favourite restaurant Ras Vatika (Dosa and dhai Puri with a mango lassi), then went into town to see the windows at Smith & Caugheys. We wandered inside and discovered the Magical Forest, so we decided to check that out (highly recommended if you’re in Auckland with a kid), and then to Aotea Square for the giant lego Christmas tree.

Daddy then met us at the cinema for “Fantastic Beasts”, sushi for dinner, and then a trip to Giappo for the world’s best ice cream.

Which apparently comes with a candle for your ninth birthday.

On the way home he told me that he wished he had a time turner so he could live today over and over again. “It’s like I drank a whole bottle of Felix Felicis last night, and I’ve had a whole day of perfection”. I hear you kid.

Lara’s Magic Cast On

I really love Judy’s Magic Cast on for toe up socks. And now I am teaching toe up sock knitting, and about to release my first sock pattern, I have been knitting a lot of socks.

Judy’s cast on gives a great finish, but it’s just a bit too fiddly for me. I am a very lazy knitter, so if I can find a short cut, or a way to fudge something, I’ll do it. This is a very quick and basic video, and hope someone finds it useful.

Just remember that on the second needle (the one on the “top” in this video), you will need to knit the first round of stitches through the back loop to untwist them. The ones on bottom needle can be knit normally.

May 2016

I just turned 46. It’s not so bad. I’m full of gratitude for the life I am able to live right now. Still terribly fond of Mark, so blessed to be mama to the best kid in the world, and doing fulfilling work, both in my volunteer role, and in in actual paid employment.

Yesterday, I taught a knitting class and had great feedback.

Inigo learning to knit while daddy played tennis

This morning, I finally taught Inigo how to knit (he learned to spin at the end of last month).
And this afternoon I published my first ever pattern on Ravelry – it’s nothing complicated, but great fun, and a good beginning project for a learner.

Next weekend we have Woolfest – the third annual pop up fibre market in Auckland, and the second one since I tok over as area delegate. Festival went off with nary a hitch, and for the first time eve, Inigo seems to not only be enjoying school, he has great friends, and he seems to be heading for some positive academic results for the first time.

I hope all is well with you too.

Nothing to see here

Thanks to Jenny who notified me of the blog being hacked, Mark was able to gain back control pretty easily. So I thought I should post something after a long silence.

Life is ticking along well in Auckland. Squid has a really great teacher this year, and is actually enjoying school most of the time, I am really busy in the lead up to the Creative Fibre annual festival that we are organising in Auckland this year, and Mark is doing ok. He’s not enjoying life in Auckland as much as Squid and I, but he’s OK.

Inigo has been really enjoying indoor climbing ,and is showing a real talent for it. Last weekend he fell out of a tree and injured himself so badly we had to go to the emergency room, but he is healing well, and still keen on climbing!

Happy families

Adam and Andrea are friends that I have known for years – since before Inigo was born and we used to go to a pub in Newtown for a knitting group.
 
 They bought a house, and renovated. They planned to start a family, and planned a more extensive renovation. But first, a wedding.
 
 Harbour Wedding
 
 Very soon afterwards, they found out they were expecting. Twins!
 
 Yesterday, we had a visit from them, Owen and Olivia are now two and a half, clever, chatty and adorable.
 
 Happiness!
 
 A simple reminder of the wonderful work I am lucky enough to do.
 
 
 - from my iPhone

How was your day?

So the cold from hell seems to be over. The fourth round of antibiotics seems to have done the trick, and I am now back to “normal” amounts of lung medication to keep me from brain death. After a week of regularly getting above 95% when I tested my oxygen perfusion, I decided it was finally time to go back to the sports medicine specialist to get the results of my MRI.

My iphone (4s) decided to refuse to turn on this morning, so after a comedy of errors I finally arrived 15 minutes late, and then had to wait a further half hour. Turns out, there are reasons for delayed appointments that aren’t to do with doctors being lazy.

So my MRI shows that I have another ruptured disk, the very bottom one in my spine. Because this disk bears all the weight of the spine, healing will take some time (it’s already been 10 months!), but it should come good with some physio and more rest.

But the MRI showed something else. A lipoma, a little collection of cells that in itself isn’t a problem, but the specialist wants me to see a neurologist to rule out “tethered spine syndrome”, which is a possible cause of my pain.

Hopefully my phone will restart, and the backup a week ago was recent enough that I haven’t lost much of importance (except the photos of our fab holiday in Russell with Richard and Miriam this weekend :( ).

My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today

Steph let me know that Carrot Vizzini Tiberius Rex Nettle-Da Silva didnít wake from his sleep this morning.

We adopted him knowing that he was ďolderĒ and we were lucky to have had so many years with him. We were also lucky that his final year was spent very much dictating his own terms, as lord high ruler of the lounge room at Stephís place since we moved to New Zealand.

Goodbye to the worldís most handsome bunny. We will always love you.

The first day we met

My bunny and my bunny boy


The most luxuriant tail in the world.

When Facebook sucks

In May this year, Facebook targeted me with an ad for a private boys school in Sydney, advertising new enrollments for 2016. They must have figured out that I had been pregnant in 2010.

They didnít figure out that my babies died.

I posted a whinge about it on facebook, and then I cried, and cried, and cried. And recently, I got to thinking abou that post, not because it made me sad, but because of all the lovely supportive responses.

Iíve decided to link to that post here, because my blog is searchable, and because when Iím feeling down, itís nice to remember just how many people care.

To all of you who responded on that day, and who have supported me over the last five years, you will never know what it has meant to me. Thank you.

Link here.

Children are weird

Mine is currently rolling around a problem in his head – he is hilarious, but his friends don’t yet get it. They ask him to stop being hilarious, but he is convinced that if he keeps being hilarious, eventually they will get the joke, and everyone will have a good laugh. In the meantime, they are throwing rocks at him. Actual rocks. And he keeps cracking jokes.

I put it to him that “most children are assholes”, and that expecting them to change will be an exercise in frustration, so he had better choose between sharing his gifts, and protecting his soft fleshy bits.

He is taking this under advisement, but thinks that hiding his light under a bushel won’t allow him to be true to himself. Ergo, children are weird.

Meanwhile, round three of “meetings with the school” starts tomorrow. Wish us luck!

What do you want for dinner tonight?

I ask the question.

Squish: I want to go to that place. You know, the one I like but I canít remember the name of?

Mama: Xi An Food Bar? (Our fave ďrusticĒ Chinese noodle joint).

S: Yes.

M: Hmmm. Iím getting a bit bored with that one.

S: I feel the opposite. Like I want to go there more and more.

M: Hmm.

S: But you respect my opinions, and Iím going to respect yours. We can go somewhere else if you like.

May the 4th

This time last year we were just settling in to Auckland, and visiting Hobbiton.

Not much has really changed. Squish is still (mostly) going to school happily enough, Mark seems to be enjoying arguing with data sets at work, and I am ticking along, mostly being a mum, and advocating for Squish at school, and also as the area delegate for Creative Fibre.

We all miss home. I miss watching my favourite little people growing up, miss watching Squish interact with his cousins and his grandparents. Mum and Dad have been here for a visit last month, and Bev & Ted are coming in a few weeks too, but itís not the same as being able to see them every week. I guess homesickness has kicked in with the weather getting colder here.

Our little house in Westmere is a lot like the house in Denistone where Mark and I first lived together. Itís a draughty old council house that hasnít had a kitchen renovation since it was built in (probably) the late 1930ís. But the location couldnít be better, we see the sea every day as we drive down to our street, we are about 100m away from a gorgeous public reserve and a bit further to the community garden. The Countdown (Woolworths) is a 4 minute walk away, and the bus that goes from there goes right past Inigoís school to Markís work.

I have met some wonderful new friends, and although uni doesnít seem to be working out at the moment, life is good.

Riding!

Squid has been riding his scooter since Grandma and Papa brought it over, and his balance has been getting better and better.

Heís been reluctant to transfer his skills over to a pedalled bike, but since his school now has a spiffy new bike track (and the gates are open on the weekends!), we decided to take the bike for a spin.

The bike was a Christmas present when he was 5, but it has hardly been ridden. †Mark took the pedals off a few months ago so that he could use it as a balance bike, but itís been hard to convince him to try.

Today, we had another go. †And after 2 goes around without pedals, he was ready to try the pedals.

Twice exceptional

Squishy Electronics

We finally took the plunge and spent the money to have a full educational psych assessment for His Squishyness. $825 for two sessions over two days of 2 hours each. Except that he took so long, each session took three hours, and we were asked to come back for another hour the next day. On the third day, he answered more questions, and his fluid reasoning score increased – but he still left some of the questions unanswered.

He’s bright. Really bright. Like genius level clever.

But so fricking slow that it’s hard for a teacher to notice the clever. Like someone gave him a huge library of information to pack into his brain, but the librarian is senile. And maybe on psychoactive drugs.

He’s above the 99th percentile in general intelligence, but at the 27th percentile for cognitive efficiency. That is well into learning difficulty territory.

This “asynchrony” is referred to as being “Twice Exceptional”. Which means that we have a kid with a brain the size of a planet, who also has a significant learning difficulty. He’ll need extra time than most kids on lots of things, and less time on others. It’s going to mean he’ll need some really wonderful, creative, and patient teachers, and parents. There is also a very strong (99%) chance that he also has either Inattentive ADD, or something similar, but that is yet to be diagnosed fully.

It means we’ve been on the right track with how we have parented him, and how we have pursued the right educational opportunities, and not just let things slide. And now we have a lot of work to do, but at least we’ll have support, and guidance.

Cooking dinner

ďIím cooking dinner tonight mamaĒ.

ďOh.  I think you might need some help?Ē.

ďNo.  You Just do the boring stuff that I donít want to do.  Iíll do everything else.”

ďWell, we might not have enough time for you to do it all.”

ďBut you see, itís not just about dinner.  I need to learn these skills for life.”