Friday, 30 September 2011

Things I know - Sosi's hearing

Good morning world! It's Friday again, this week instead of being my usual witty self (LOL), I'll share something about my daughter with you.

Since she was a baby, Sosi has been a bit particular about certain sounds, some noises always seemed to bother her more than others. And by bother I mean freak out, she'd be totally scared by the thing making the noise.

Around the time she was 1, these sounds bothered her: fake animal sounds, particularly horses (like battery operated toys); any toy that moved while playing music; coffee grinder, vacuum cleaner, hair drier, blender.

Most of these can be quite unpleasant sounds to the buddying ears of a baby, so we just thought it was a phase, something she'd outgrow. Now, 3 years on, we are not so sure, as there are other sounds that freak her out so much they have started affecting decisions we make and activities we do.

So, these are some of the things I know bother her at the moment:
  • dogs, because they might bark and the noise freaks her out
  • nearby lawn mowers 
  • miniature railways, partially because of the train whistling, but mostly because of the kids yelling when the train enters a tunnel
here's Kid enjoying a miniature train ride...
I have many many many photos of S covering her ears tightly
  • the electricity meter. I'm not kidding. Sometimes you can hear a vague tick tick noise from our study, if she hears it she panics. But she's fine with clocks.
  • the newest: many people together singing Happy Birthday 
  • we used to go to rollerskating classes but can no longer go, she started getting so freaked out when they turned the music on and people sang (we are talking Wiggles, not heavy metal!) that she would just cover her ears (see above photo), scared, totally petrified, and freeze in the middle of the skating rink. The only thing I could do was pick her up, take her off the rink and cuddle her, then she would relax after 10 or 15 minutes, but still wouldn't go back on the rink if there were kids singing. Which is such a shame because she LOVES rollerskating.

Now, this isn't easy if you also have a very clingy little boy to deal with. Sosi's upset so Casi gets upset so I have both kids in my arms (and remember I have 1/2 an arm less, so carrying a combined 28kg is exhausting) and I'm desperately trying to console and soothe both while trying to keep it together myself. 
So we started avoiding situations that we know will trigger her. Which is really limiting us A LOT.

  • I don't know if it's just a certain frequency or pitch bothering her. 
  • I don't know if she has super hearing that makes some sounds disturbing.
  • I know she can hear the word "chocolate" whispered in another room, so there definitely isn't an issue with hearing loss!
  • I don't know if there's a hearing processing disorder.
  • I don't know if it's something else, because she does have other quirks.
  • I know that in less than 2 weeks she's having her hearing tested and I cannot wait for the results!

Hopefully together with our GP we can shed some light on the matter and help her enjoy her life to the fullest :)

What do you know this week? Go over to the funny Shae at Yay For Home and share your knowledge :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

My daughter is a self-published author ;)

Casi is still learning colours. He still confuses some. But one he has never confused is orange. Which coincidentally (or not?) is the colour of his favourite food, carrots. 
There is no doubt that orange is his favourite colour: he'll point out anything that's orange, will let you know if there's any orange present in the room, will always pick it in a line up of pencils etc etc.

So in his honour, D and Sosi co-wrote their first book... 

It was a great activity for father and daughter to do during "quiet time" (when Casi is sleeping and Sosi doesn't feel like resting), D tried to come up with things that he knows Sosi likes drawing. She really enjoyed creating her own book and was pretty stoked with having a full story as an end result.

And she really loved giving it to Casi to read when he woke up from his snooze!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Things I know

I'm in a particular frame of mind this week, I both feel extremely knowledgeable and ignorant... but here are a few pearls of wisdom for you ;)

  • The Enchanted Maze Garden in Arthurs Seat is expensive ($25 per adult, $15 kids over 3) but it's a great place to take the kiddies. We went there for a surprise birthday lunch for my cousin's wife and it was a LOVELY day. 

running around the turf maze
sandpit inside the children's maze
fairy garden
  • I know Casi is a chocoholic. Like his sister and his mother and grandfather and great-grandmother... 
utensils are slowing down my cake consumption, hands are so much faster...

  • I know that hot days and buckets of water and paintbrushes and sponges are a winning combination 

  • school holidays start next week. Which of course doesn't mean a lot for us since we learn from life, only that our usual haunts will be overcrowded... the only good thing is that we'll be able to catch up with family and friends who are usually tied up to school commitments
  • a catch-up has been organised by my mothers' group for next week. They are lovely women. I really mean it. But I soooo do not fit in. Never have. I'll be the wallflower again. Listening, not having much to bring to the conversation, feeling left out. I know I'll end up making up some excuse not to go. Which is a shame. 
  • I know I'll end up catching up with each of them singularly because I like them but I just don't function with them as a group
  • I know it's going to take me hours to read this week's know-it-all posts, the Yay For Home link up has become so overwhelmingly popular! Well done Shae :)

What do you know this week? Head over to Shae's to share your wisdom! 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Apprivoiser - on translations and friendships

Growing up I had many career dreams: vet, doctor, teacher, missionary in Africa, movie director, mathematician, book writer and another couple of hundred more short-lived aspirations. 
I didn't really pursue any of them, the world is so full of possibilities that I really was at a loss deciding what to do with my life. 
I did my schooling in Italy, which meant that after middle school, which you finish at around 13yo, you have to choose from a variety of high schools, some more academic (lyceums) which prepare you for university, some more technical or practical which prepare you for a job. Things might have changed nowadays, I really haven't kept abreast of many social changes in Italy since leaving. 

At 13 I had no fixed idea of what to do. I was clearly keen on mathematics and a scientific lyceum (emphasising on maths and sciences) seemed a perfect option, but did not open many doors at 18 in case I didn't want to continue to uni. 
But I loved reading. And writing. And I dreamt of travelling. So my mum talked me into enrolling in a linguistic lyceum. Over the course of the 5 years I studied: Italian, English, French, German, Latin, geography, history, maths, physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy. A wonderful smattering of so many interesting subjects!

I picked up new languages easily, which is definitely due to my being bilingual (thanks Mum!), and the best part of that was being able to read books in their original language. Because translations often don't do the original book justice.
I have worked for a while as a translator, and it is a tough job. Some words and some expressions are so intrinsic to a country and a culture that a translation can merely give the gist of the idea without giving an insight of what the author really meant. Languages are fully impregnated with their People's history, traditions, habits, ideologies, customs, and so much of that is lost in translation.

One such word that comes to mind is the French verb “apprivoiser”, which does not have an exact translation in English. It’s sort of like “domesticating” someone.
I mention it because it’s a crucial word in one of the chapters of The Little Prince, Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which I had the pleasure of reading in its original language.

Instead, the verb “to tame” has always been used for the English version. The difference is well expressed by this critical note on SparkNotes: 
The episode with the fox requires a note on Saint-Exupéry’s use of the verb “tame.” In English, this word connotes domestication and subservience. But the French have two verbs that mean “to tame.” One, “domestiquer,” does, in fact, mean to make a wild animal subservient and submissive. The Little Prince, however, uses the verb “apprivoiser,” which implies a more reciprocal and loving connection. The distinction between these two words is important, since the original French word does not have the connotations of mastery and domination that unfortunately accompany the English translation.
image from here

This is a short excerpt from Chapter 21, taken from here
"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
"What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. “It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."
The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what  hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."
Here’s an online version if you wish to read the book. I highly recommend it as it is the vessel of much wisdom and wit. Read at least Chapter One, which is a single enlightened page.

I always loved this passage. If you read it bearing in mind what I told you about “apprivoiser” and in your head replace “tame” as you read, you’ll realise how true it rings.
Friendships indeed are about domesticating each other, about studying each other from a distance, about learning about one another before being able to create ties.
So many times we rush into friendships, we meet someone we like and start doing so many things with them, seeing them often etc. And often these friendships fizzle off, because there hasn't been the time to "apprivoise" each other.

When you don't give the friendship enough time to grow of its own accord you end up not appreciating the differences of "language" that you and your new friend have. You end up having misunderstandings because you are indeed talking two different languages: you each have your own history, traditions, habits, ideologies and customs.

I have often thought about this passage with regards to blogging. How much do we get to know about a person through their writings. Our true self is exposed to the world and so many meaningful connections are made here. A bit like we used to do in the old days when we had pen pals. Through our writings we get the time to know each other’s languages.
I have recently met a fellow blogger. She is just as lovely and affable and interesting and inspiring in real life as I had expected from her writings. She welcomed me and my busy kids in her home with arms open, and having learnt much about each other’s “language” before hand, I didn’t feel much of the awkwardness of a first meeting, I truly felt like she was an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years.
I like blogging, I like the people I'm connecting with, I like being inspired by others. And I love that all the things I'm saying are not getting lost in translation.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I'm back (again)

Wow, I turn around and I have 16 followers? Thanks ladies. Or guys, I don't know who the 16th follower is...

I've fully embraced the beginning of Spring: I have been very busy organising/tidying up/decluttering, the house will soon be decent enough for me to share photos without shame... ;)

So between the tidying up and our usual life (lots of social engagements, playing, outdoor play, indoor play...), I'm often falling asleep with the kids... at 8.30pm!!!! And, of course, writing the best posts in my head at 2.30am when Casi wakes me up for a feed... hence the absence from the blogosphere this month.
So, apologies to all for not reading, commenting, writing, engaging, thanking etc, I haven't been ignoring, just a little bit absent.

Today I decided to be "selfish" and take some time out. As I write, the kids are watching some annoying phonics video on YouTube on the left hand side of the screen while I use the right hand side for my blogging. This is what it looks like:

pulling silly faces...

So if you'll bear with me, over the next few days I might end posting lots because I have such a big mental backlog.

Hope you're all well, and I'll endeavour to catch up with everyone else's blogs.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Big Mistake - part 2

So I was finally back in Melbourne, and I was happy happy happy. It was summertime. I was living with auntie Cynthia (my mum's cousin) and going out often with my cousin Ann (whom I just adored, we got on like a house on fire since we first met in July '07).
I wasn't working yet and was having the time of my life doing touristy things which I hadn't done the first time around. This time I knew my way around town, I started visiting parks, museums, beaches, moving around wherever public transport allowed. And walking lots and lots. I started attending adult education classes (breadmaking, cooking classes, Japanese language classes) and started making friends of all ages. Things were good.

But I was really having trouble falling asleep at night. Too many thoughts I guess. I could always hear voices or a buzz in my head.
Until one night I realised I was scared. I couldn't sleep because I was worried that someone might break in my auntie's house. I didn't realise then, but that was my first panic attack.

Then one day I made myself a hearty breakfast, and after eating it I started having strong palpitations. So strong that I told my auntie I needed to see a doctor. Who couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. It was then that I noticed that the buzzing was still there. Louder than ever.

Then one day I went to visit another cousin who worked in a CBD building. As I was going up the elevator to get to the 7th floor, I started getting dizzy. It was only when I sat down and started chatting to my cousin, that I realised the building was swaying and I was getting sea-sick (for lack of a better word). I don't recall if it was a very windy day, but it didn't seem right that I should be able to feel the swaying on such a low floor...

I started doing some research, and seeing various doctors, and discovered I had tinnitus. But Wikipedia didn't exist back in 1999... So there were a few trips back and forth to the library trying to figure out what the cause was.
I came to the conclusion that decrease in circulation (caused by cigarettes) was a very likely cause.
Now I know it could've also been a side effect of aspirin or nimesulide (which I used to take liberally for my many headaches), or also of head injury like whiplash (remember how in Part 1 I mentioned the drink driving? I did once have an accident, broke the whole axis of my car hitting a wall. In hindsight, I was very very lucky to get out of it unharmed) or depression/anxiety.

But I also noticed that some foods tended to make the buzzing worse... And this is where the fun journey into food sensitivities started. I'm not going to bore you with all the details, there's more to this story later..

So as I was getting these "attacks" of palpitations and dizzy spells and the constant buzzing in my ears that was driving me nuts, and I was talking to my boyfriend on a weekly basis and I did feel a bit lonely... And I guess I was still in love though quite disillusioned.
And he (the Big Mistake) started telling me he'd been clean because he really wanted to join me and start a drug-free happy life with me in Australia etc etc. You can probably join the dots...

So dumb me said "ok, come down here and we can start a life together, I'll get an apartment for rent and then we'll see what we need to do with Immigration". And that, my friends, was my biggest mistake.

He left his grandmother's house, and with my mum's help (visa, ticket, airport etc) he boarded a plane to come here. And while he was on that plane, I received a phone call from his grandmother... who wanted to ascertain that he'd have good work chances in Aus etc etc. You know, like a good parent figure would. And then the bombshell "I'm glad to hear Australia is so wholesome so he can get healthy and you can look after him, because, you know, he started using again while he was here with me".
I hated her. How about calling me and telling me before he's on the effing plane and there's no return? My world crumbled. Not so excited to see him as much as I had been, now I was just looking down the barrel of the prospect of more drugs, more withdrawals, more lies.

We were happy to see each other, and in my youthful naivety I had convinced myself that I could make it work, that in our beautiful country I'd be able to get him clean and build a wonderful life for us.

Bear in mind the guy spoke very little English when he arrived. Yet within 3 days of being here he'd already managed to find a dealer where he could score some heroin for $10.

So, after a couple of months of getting a flat, finding us both jobs, filling in methadone prescriptions and discussing visa options with the Department of Immigration, it was clear that the only way to make him stay would be getting married. Which we did. Nobody knew about it. The witnesses were a waiter from the pizzeria where Big Mistake was working and his wife. First time I saw them, haven't seen them since... We got married in the celebrant's sitting room, then had a delectable lunch at The Street Cafe in St Kilda with the witnesses.

After an idyllic 30 hours of married life, we had our first fight when he asked for money to go buy heroin. Please be nice to me, just 10 dollars, just one last time and then I'll stop... That's when I knew our marriage was over. We would never be on the same level, we would never be a couple building together towards a common goal. We'd always be the adult and the child if you will, where one is in charge of all the decision and the protection and looking after the other. He'd always be the sick one and I'd always be the one looking after him.
But now things were trickier, I couldn't just plonk him on a plane back to Italy. I'd have to stick it out until I found a way for him to stand on his own two feet.

To be continued...