Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Problem with Problems .... book review.

***Please note that I do not receive commissions of any kind for this review, it is simply a book that we find useful.***

Hands up who likes books!!!! We love books in a superhero headquarters, especially books that appeal to children. I was once asked how many children's books did we have in the house, this was quite a few years ago, and I honestly didn't know other than to answer with that one of our six shelf book cases was filled with children's books!!

Last weekend, the little superheroes and I were killing some time looking at books in a shopping centre, as you do. I'd actually gone to Kmart to look for a different book and this one caught my eye first. O then found the original book, so keep a look out for a review on that one, and we left Kmart after purchasing a few more books than I'd originally intended.

The title of this book caught my eye but it was the illustrations that both little superheroes were drawn too. O had a quick read through and told me that it was probably a book more suited to L's age and younger. L had a look through and asked me to read it to him before bed because the picture looked cool!

The Problem with Problems was written by Rachel Rooney and illustrated by Zehra Hicks and is all about, well problems that children might encounter every day. L and I read the book before bed that night and he thoroughly enjoyed it. So without any further ado, it's over to L.

Me ... What is the book about?
L ... It a rhyming book about problems. They can be big problems and they can be small problems. Lots of different problems. I like the pictures, they very colourful.

Me ... What does the story tell you you to do with the problems?
L ... Well some problems, they can be everywhere and they want to be trouble for you. But the book says you got to look at the problem cause it might not be a problem. Like the spider. It's not really a problem, it just a spider.

Me ... What does the book say about ignoring problems?
L ... They say that some problems will just go away if you ignore them, but sometimes that can be too hard. The problem still stay.

Me ... What does the book say to do with the problem if it stays?
L ... It say "Don't ask the problem to play!" And sometimes if you sleep, the problem might go away but I not like to sleep. Sleep is boring!

Me ... No, you don't like sleeping! What could you do with the problem then?
L ... The book say that problems don't like it when you tell someone so you got to tell your Mummy or Daddy or your friend or the bus or the chair and then the problem will go away. It was a good book. It even gots a boy in a wheelchair in it. We read it again please?

Me ... One more question? Do you think other kids would like to read this book?
L ... It a good book. If kids got problems, they got to read the book. We read again now?

Me ... We sure can, thank you for telling me about the book.
L ... You welcome but no more questions. You read to me please?

The book discusses and explains what problems are in very easy to understand terms. It is a topic than can be difficult to discuss with children, this is a brilliant book that should be in every families home library. The story then goes on to provide the reader with realistic and practical strategies that they can use to make the problems disappear, like talking to someone. The story is in a rhyming format, which L loved (we're big on rhyming books!) and the illustrations are not only fun and colourful but also very inclusive. There is no one central character, rather a group of characters all dealing with the same issue, problems. We then read the book again, so I have a feeling that it will be one that we will keep coming back to.

I would highly recommend this book if your children are young readers or if you are an educator or teacher of young readers. It was definitely a great buy.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

2020 .... The Year We All Played Jumanji!

Oh 2020, it is only July but golly gosh, what a year it has been so far!

We, as a family, had grand plans that this was going to be our year. January came and went with huge devastating bush fires and then floods here in Australia. February arrived and seemed to last a very long time. Then March arrived with a bang! 

March, you really should have been holding a sign that said "Welcome to Jumanji!"

COVID19 hit Australia in March, not long before the Easter holidays when many people have their yearly family holiday. But unfortunately all holidays must be cancelled unless there are compassionate reasons. Caravan parks closed, flights cancelled, campgrounds closed, hotels closed, restaurants and cafes closed. Cruises cancelled. Cruise ships stranded at sea with no ports allowing ships to dock. Airports become parking lots for aeroplanes.

Petrol prices are at a record low just above $1 per litre. Currently I am getting three weeks to a tank of fuel!

Social isolating and self distancing measures in place. Tape on the floors at supermarkets, chemists and other shops to help distance shoppers 1.5m from each other. Some supermarkets are limiting the number of people inside shops therefore there are lineups outside the shop with security guards allowing people in one at a time.

Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed by the government. Nature parks, trails, entire cities locked up. Schools with multiple pupil free days at the end of term 1 so that teachers can prepare for online distance learning.

There is a shortage of masks, gowns, and gloves for our frontline health workers. There is also a shortage of respirators for the critically Ill. 

Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towels, no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer - the shelves are bare. Limits are placed by the shops on how many tins/packets of food that can be purchased at a time.

Essential businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and other PPE.

The Federal Government closed the state borders all over the country as well as national borders and anyone entering from overseas must isolate for 14 days. Fines are established for breaking the rules. All beaches, playgrounds and places of gathering, including churches, are closed and in some cases, fenced off. Stadiums and recreation facilities on standby to provide overflow to hospitals and mortuaries in some countries. In Australia, five people were allowed at weddings and ten at funerals. Groups no larger than two people to gather in public, unless it's your family group.

Press conferences are held daily from both the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, our Queensland Premier and the Government Medical Officer. Government offering financial support to individuals and businesses to help cope with job losses, save the economy and avoid a recession.

Thousands losing their jobs enmasse. Massive queues outside Centrelink to access unemployment benefits. Barely anyone in the streets or on the roads. People wearing masks and gloves outside. We are to distance from each other and stay at home unless we need to do essential shopping, go to medical appointments or go to work, if an essential worker. We can also leave the house each day for brisk exercise. 

Thousands are affected by the corona virus, there are huge numbers of people who are critically ill in ICU. There are also many who have recovered. And unfortunately, many thousands of people have lost their lives due to COVID 19.

Schools were closed to all students except for children whose parents were classed as essential workers. All lessons were delivered via a online platform for most of term two. Parents who were at home with their children became instant teachers, supervising their children's online learning. 

This is the Novel Corona virus, COVID 19 Pandemic, it was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

Why, you ask, do I write this status? We are a part of living history. My little superheroes are a part of living history. One day when they have children, they will be able to tell about the time when the world stood still to help prevent the spread of the corona virus. This will be a reminder that life is precious. A reminder that we shouldn't take everything that we love, for granted. A reminder of the time that we were all this together.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

2020 .... For Our Children

2020 ... so many of us had grand plans for this year. But 2020 had other ideas!!

Australia started the year with wild fires, then came the floods, then came COVID 19 and threw everyone's plans into chaos.

We've seen some massive challenges and changes world wide in a very, very short time. Our politicians keep praising our essential workers who are not only keeping the world working but also keeping us all safe - doctors, nurses, teachers, early childhood educators, shop assistants, garbage truck workers and everyone in between.

But what about our children?

Over the last month, children the world over have stayed indoors more than they’ve ever done so far in their lives and they are more than likely to spend even more time indoors for the foreseeable future. Their whole worlds have literally been turned upside down in a matter of days. All these rules that they’ve never known or imagined.

A life they couldn’t have imagined. Adults talking about others becoming unwell, news reporting death after death all over the world. News stations reporting on adults fighting over toilet paper and other basic necessities. Our world's politicians shutting down their countries one after another. Rules being implemented on a daily basis and in some cases the rules keep changing on a fairly regular basis.

Our poor children's minds must be racing. But every day they get up and carry on, despite all that’s going on, and with minimal complaints.

Our children, and us, are a part of living history and one day, they'll be able to tell their children about the time in their lives when there was uncertainty the world over. The time when we all stayed home to try to flatten the curve to prevent COVID19 from spreading even further and causing more heartache.

They’ve painted pictures, drawn rainbows, and put teddy bears in their windows for the “heroes” out in the world.

So here's to our very own little heroes, today, tomorrow, forever ❤️

Saturday, 14 March 2020

A Superhero Pup for Lachlan

**** Please note that we will be receiving sponsorship and goods from the companies mentioned in this post.
I do not receive any commissions from the links in this post. ****

Late last year, I posted an article about L being accepted to receive an Autism Assistance Service Dog. We began our fundraising campaign in November and have been gradually adding funds to our goal of $20,000.

Well, a few weeks ago we were contacted by Smart Pups inviting us to an annual luncheon that is organised by a gentleman by the name of Craig Harley. Every year for the last seven years (this year being the eight year,) Craig organises a corporate fundraising luncheon for Smart Pups and every year, he asks Smart Pups to choose one Autistic child to receive some of the money raised that goes directly into their campaign. L was chosen to be that child. A few weeks ago we visited one of the Smart Pups training venues on the Sunshine Coast where we filmed a short clip about why we were fundraising for a Smart Pup, this would be played at the beginning of the function, and L met several puppies.

Thursday just gone was the day of the function. Both little superheroes had been counting down the days because, a. they would get to pat some more puppies, and b. they would get to meet a famous Australian swimmer.

Daddy superhero, myself and O got dressed up on our finest but L decided that shorts, a t-shirt and no shoes was the go. He was comfortable and had clothes on and that is all that matters! We packed all of the necessities - electronic devices, charging cords and portable power banks, body sock and other sensory items. We knew that the function was going to be quite large, we were told that 400 tickets had been sold already, so there was the potential for both little superheroes to enter into sensory overload.

When we arrived at The Paddo, the enormity of the function was a little overwhelming to both little superheroes. We were seated at the Smart Pups table so there were lots of Smart Pups to assist both little superheroes. They loved Boots, who was an old hand at being a service dog. They both needed to wear their block ear protectors. The body sock was used as where the other sensory items.

We met and chatted with Dawn Fraser and Ian Thorpe, two Australian swimming living legends. Dawn is a huge supporter of Smart Pups and has attended every fundraising function since it first started. Both Ian and Dawn are very friendly, very down to earth and very humble about their achievements. Ian is also very tall, he's huge!

Both little superheroes were looking forward to meeting Ian Thorpe, we didn't know that Dawn Fraser would be there though, due to the swimming connection. Both little superheroes loves their swimming lessons.

As the clip was about to play about how an Autism Assistance dog would help L, we were invited onto the stage to talk about how a Smart Pup would help L. By this stage L was well and truly overwhelmed and had made himself a cubby house underneath the table that we were sitting at, so Daddy superhero, O and myself made our way onto the stage.

This was a bit of a surprise as I didn't realise that we'd be speaking to the function attendees. We had a chat with Donna Lynch, one of the MC's and then she asked us to stand. At this point I began thinking, what on earth was about to happen. Well, unbeknownst to us, we were invited to the luncheon because the patron of the luncheon, Wally Fullerton-Smith, wanted to present L with his Smart Pup.

Every year Craig Harley asks one of his contacts to be the patron of the function. Smart pups then names one of the puppies in the patron's honour and that pup is presented to the child who is effectively the face of Smart Pups at the fundraising function.

So without any further ado, I'd like to introduce the newest member of our family, Wally. Wally is an eight week old Labrador puppy and he is really cute!

It will be quite some time before Wally is placed with us at home as he has to successfully complete all of his training, but as you can see L was over the moon. Initially L was unsure, but when he realised that Wally was his puppy, a huge smile broke out on his face and stayed there.

Daryl Braithwaite, an iconic Australian artist, was performing at the function and even he wanted a cuddle with Wally. Wally on the other hand, had other ideas!!

We were able to have a long chat with Wally Fullerton-Smith about Lachy and how Wally (the pup) would be able to assist L. By this stage, L was well and truly over photos and had hidden again. And while speaking with Wally (the person,) he wiped more than a few tears from his eyes. He asked if we could keep him informed about how Wally (the pup) was going and L, to which we responded a resounding "of course we will." Both little superheroes therapists over the last few years have become like family members as they've invested a lot of personal time and effort into both little superheroes. Wally Fullerton-Smith, you're now part of our superhero family network. Wally (the person) also showed that underneath his tough NRL exterior, he is a softie at heart.

When L realised that Wally was his pup, the smile on his face was beautiful. There wasn't a dry eye around us. And with a fluffy face like this, who could resist.

We went out the back where all of the pups could go to have a break and Erin, our trainer, sat down with both little superheroes and Wally and did some basic training with Wally. We've been invited up to the Smart Pups training facility at any stage during Wally's training so that we can see what he's been up to with Erin. This will also give L and Wally the opportunity to strengthen the bond that was started on Thursday.

This is a unique opportunity for us as usually a family who will receive a Smart Pup do not find out the name of their Smart Pup until approximately four weeks before placement at home. Being able to follow Wally's training every step of the way is just wonderful and for that, we're very grateful.

Even O had a few cuddles with Wally. She too is smitten with Wally. While Wally is primarily L's Smart Pup, in time Wally will also be able to assist O with her anxiety.

On Thursday, we were not only surprised with L's Smart Pup, Wally, but Chris from Big Dog Pet Foods informed us that they will be providing us with a year's worth of dog food for Wally. This will take a huge financial cost off of our shoulders, so thank you.

On all of the tables at the function, were several of these little plush Smart Pups. As we were about to leave, L asked Kylie from Smart Pups if he could take home some of the puppies. We came home with four of them!! Not to be confused with Wally, but these two tiny Smart Pups are now known as WesWally! And O has named her tiny Pup, Waldo.

Both little superheroes have begun planning what Wally (the pup) can wear when we go to Supernova next year.

I am sure that the next twelve months are going to fly by. L is missing Wally (the pup) already and is looking forward to another day trip to see his pup again.

We are so very grateful to Patricia, Kylie and all of the other employees at Smart Pups, Wally Fullerton-Smith, Craig Harley, Chuggy and all of the other staff from The Paddo who worked at the function and all of the attendees at the function. Your contributions will make a huge difference to L's life, and others, and many other families who are currently waiting to receive a Smart Pup.

We're also very grateful to a close family friend, Kaz Doyle, who helped to kick off our fundraising campaign. To Bribie Island and District Woodcrafters Group, a huge thank you. Your group came on board to assist us with fundraising and we thank you for your support. To all of you who have donated money and prizes for us to raffle off, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much. Your support means the world to our family.

We are feeling very grateful and very, very loved.

While we have reached our goal and can see a light at the end of the tunnel, there are many other families who are yet to reach their goal of $20,000. Prior to the function, we decided that if we reached our target, we'd continue to fundraise so that we could support Smart Pups and other families. So that's what we are going to do.

For those not in the know, Wally Fullerton-Smith is a former Australian representative and National Rugby League player for St George Illawarra Dragons.