Read My Lips

Our friend Sammi has become somewhat of a permanent fixture in the Kewl family unit. Ever since the Freak Fest ended and we said goodbye to Baby Warrior, Sammi and her girlfriend Mary Poppins (our once nanny now great friend) have been living with us.
I have known Sammi for 10+ years and I love her dearly - but as a house guest, I have to be honest - she's pretty shocking. She leaves her undies from one end of the house to the other, can't wash dishes to save herself, would rather starve than set foot in a kitchen, stirs the girls up at the most disruptive times possible, is demanding, bossy, more stubborn than the three Kewl girls put together and is constantly finding new ways to annoy the *bleep* out of "hearing people".

Did I mention that I love her dearly? ... I know - Go figure!!!

Another thing about Sammi is that she speaks with her hands. Literally, I mean. Sammi is deaf and uses AusLan (Australian Sign Language) to communicate. She doesn't speak verbal English, but she silently mouths words as she is signing, she can read lips and write about a million words per second!! Her deafness is just one part of who she is though, and by no means does it define her.

As a diverse ability advocate myself, one of the reasons why I keep Sammi around is so the Kewl girls can benefit from her diversity. Lucky for Sammi (she ate the last of my chocolate yesterday and was very nearly thrown out of the house immediately!!), the Kewl girls are benefitting from her presence in even more ways than I imagined they would.

Upon adopting Aunty Sammi, one of our favourite expressions became, "Read my lips!"... Because, well - she does.. And the Kewl girls find statements of the obvious absolutely, hysterically funny. I found it quite amusing myself! I also quite enjoyed being able to mouth things to Sammi without actually speaking them, and so being able to have 'adult' conversations with the girls in the room. Kewl, right?

Well, yes - but this is where the 'diversity benefit' comes in.

Yesterday, Mary Poppins and I were talking when Miss J came over to sit with us. Mary wanted to say a filthy swear word something adult, so she covered Miss J's ears and finished her sentence.

Miss J rolled her eyes, and said, "I can read lips, you know. And that's not a good word choice, Mary."


Thinking that this was a fluke - more of an educated guess than a lip reading ability - I silently mouthed to Miss J, "Oh really?"

To which she replied, "Yes. Really."


It's not just Miss J, either. Both of her sisters appear quite capable of reading lips - and I am absolutely blown away by it!!! They can all speak Sign well, but as I have used signs with them all of their lives this isn't really surprising. Lip reading though - that's a whole other story!

I always assumed that lip reading was a difficult skill, learned over a period of years, in a class room or 'speech therapy' setting. When I expressed my amazement to the girls and asked them how they'd learned to lip read, Miss F replied, "Oh mum! It's easy! Sammi does it all the time." This makes me think that maybe my assumption has a lot to do with why I am (as yet) unable to read lips!

To help the girls develop their lip reading abilities, Sammi suggested I speak the first part of a sentence (audibly) in order to give them a context to work from, then finish off mouthing the sentence (silently). We have been doing this with much success ever since!

Although I am a big believer in the Kewl girls' learning ability, I have to admit that my amazement played a trick on my mind and had me thinking that maybe the girls were really just very good at guessing. I decided to 'test' this thought this morning and in response, Miss V essentially threw it back in my face.

When it was time for breakfast, I said to her (audibly), "Miss V, could you come to the table please, (then silently) it's time for dinner."

She laughed and replied, "No mum, it's time for breakfast."

Then as an afterthought, she added, "You're not very good at lip speaking, are you mum?"

Touche, Miss V.

So, as much as Sammi did the unspeakable, and ate the last of my chocolate - in light of the most incredible ways in which she is enriching our lives - I think we'll keep her.

(But Sammi, if you ever put your hands near my chocolate again - read my lips woman - I know where you live.)

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

My words are caught again this week - I can't seem to get them out past the lump in my throat. All of the things I would usually do to ease the lump... Eat some chocolate, refocus on something positive, eat some chocolate, have a cry and then move on, eat some chocolate... They aren't working. And I think I know why.

Baby Warrior, I think I want the lump in my throat.
I think that in a strange way, I find it comforting.

When you were growing in my tummy we discovered you had a lump in your throat, too. It was stopping you from swallowing amniotic fluid properly and so it was building up in your floaty water bed (and making my belly HUGE!). The lump, among other things, made it hard for you to stay in my tummy and hard for your body to cope after you were born. The doctors called it an 'abnormality' and could only see what was wrong about it - but I just saw it as one of your quirks.

Now you are gone and I won't get a chance to know or love any of your quirks. I wonder what they would have been.. How they would have made us laugh.. What they would have taught us.. Which ones would have driven us nuts.. And which ones would stay close to our hearts forever.

Darling Zy, sometimes all the wondering turns into longing, and my heart grows heavy for all of the things I won't get to know about you. Those are the times when the lump in my throat becomes the closest thing I have to one of your quirks, and I don't want to let it go.

Maybe I should find some other kind of comfort, but I think that's something that will come in time. For now, do you mind if I hang onto the lump for us? I promise not to let it interfere with living or loving, just like you didn't.

Love me.

Hooray!!! It's Miss V's Birthday!!!

We ate cake for breakfast.
We ate cake for lunch.
We ate cake for dinner.

We sang.
We danced.
We partied.

We celebrated.

In a rare moment of calm this afternoon, Miss V decided to make a birthday card for her Dad.
When she asked me if she could make Daddy Kewl a card (can you really make someone else a birthday card for your birthday? Is that even allowed?!) I told Miss V that she absolutely could, and that I thought Daddy Kewl would LOVE it if she made him a card because then he gets to be part of her birthday celebrations.

Here is the card she made (if you look closely you'll see it opens backwards - kind of appropriate, I thought!):

And her message on the inside:


Yes, Miss V, your Daddy absolutely is missing you. He also loves you, very, very, very, very, very much.

Happy Birthday, darling child.
Love from Mum and Dad.

Warrior Wednesday on Tuesday

Dear Zy,

The last couple of weeks have been tough. I didn't expect Mother's Day to bother me - because I don't really believe in it anyway - but it did bother me. It was tough.
I have been thinking a lot about your other mum and that is tough, too.
Also, your surrogate sisters' cousin is sick and I am finding it super tough to watch a sick child and feel that kind of soul crushing helplessness that I felt when you were born.

Baby Warrior, tomorrow is your surrogate sister V's birthday. She will be a very impressive three years old!! She is super excited - as she should be - but I have even been finding that tough. I have been getting lost in thoughts of your birthday - your physical birth, then your spiritual birth (or physical death) just 26 short hours later. I've been lost in thoughts of your future birthdays that I will only be able to celebrate with you in spirit. Then when my grief for you threatened to sink me, I switched to grief thoughts about Daddy Kewl - about him missing Miss V's birth, and her 1st birthday, and her 2nd birthday, and now her 3rd birthday, too.

Oh Zy - if "stinking thinking" were a literal term, I think we would all need gas masks by now!!!

With Miss V's birthday now only one sleep away, today I had a new thought. It blew threw my head like a breath of fresh air.... What a waste of life it would have been to spend your birthday - your one day with us - sad and depressed and lost in stinking grief thoughts.
There were many things I wanted to give you, but couldn't. Love most certainly was not one of them. Your day wasn't wasted, Baby Warrior. It was filled with love, strength and inspiration.

I don't want to be sad tomorrow. I don't want to spend Miss V's one and only 3rd birthday thinking crappy grief thoughts. I want her day to be filled with love, strength and inspiration. Just like your day.

I want our lifetimes to be filled with love, strength and inspiration.
Just like yours.

Darling Zy, I am sorry for wasting so many days - so many lifetimes - being sad and miserable and depressed. I lost perspective for a moment and almost choked on my own stinking thought gas - but I've had the blast of fresh air I needed to catch my breath, and I am so ready to embrace it.

Thank you, Baby Warrior, for your love, your strength and your inspiration.

Love me.

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

I'm sorry I don't have anything particularly interesting or poetic to tell you this week. The icy grief fingers have wrapped themselves around my heart, my chest and my throat and they seem to be strangling my words as well as my breath.

I feel like I am ripping you off, in a sense, by not offering some kind of magic moment or positive thought. The moments and the thoughts are still there, Baby Warrior, they are just stuck on the inside for the moment. Maybe next week they will make it out.

Gosh I miss you.

Love me.

Four year old Mothers Day logic

Miss J, "Mum? Do I get a present today?"
Me, "Of course! You get my love, and Miss F's love, and Miss V's love and...."
Miss J, "Mu-um!!! I meant a proper present!"
Me, "Oh.. No darling, why do you ask that?"
Miss J, "Because it's mothers day, and I make you a mother."

Hmmm. Nice try, darling girl. You are truly your mother's daughter!!!

Silver Lining

Miss F, "Mum look!!! Daddy turned the clouds pink for us!!!"

Well Daddy Kewl... I'm glad you're still good for something!!!

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

Miss V has been asking about you a lot this week. First she wanted to hear the story of how you were made... Then she wanted to hear the stories of when you were in my tummy and how you ate, how you breathed, and how you kicked me from the inside! Next she asked about how you were born and how it was different from how her and her sisters were born. She did lots of looking at and patting the line right down low on my tummy that marks the place where you came out... She even drew a line on her own tummy so she could give birth to her doll, just like how you were born.

Darling Zy, part of me knew what would come next - but I still was not ready when your surrogate sister asked to hear about when you died.

I told her that I needed time to think about how to tell this story - and think about it is almost all I have been doing! After Daddy Kewl died I had over three years to think before it was time to tell that story, and I think that with you - with Miss V's question - I have been trying to cram three years worth of thoughts into the last three days!!! It certainly feels like it.

So just how do I tell your story, Baby Warrior???
I could stick to the facts - but Miss V already knows the facts and she doesn't want to hear the medical version of how you died, she wants a story.
I could tell her the Magic Sugar Puff Cloud story - but she has heard this already and it is too far in the other direction, too much story and not enough fact.

So I just need to find the middle ground - Facts and sugar puffs, right?
It sounds so easy when I put it like that...
So why are no words coming?

Oh Zy, I so want to share you - I want to share every tiny magical detail of you - but I don't think I am ready to share this story. I don't think I have found my own middle ground yet, between saying goodbye to your body and hello to you in spirit. I just love the moments we continue to share with you and although most of me knows that these aren't going to go away, I don't want to tell a goodbye story yet. I don't want to say goodbye to you again.

Just hello.

A little more time, a little more love and a little less fear - then maybe I will be closer to my middle ground and closer to telling this part of your story.
Until then, thank you for popping your head up to say hello.

Hello back, my darling sugar puff cloud.
I see you.

Love me.

What to do when faced with a global health crisis...

First, find a way to laugh about it.

Then, turn it into a teachable moment.

The kewl girls have been asking lots of questions about the swine flu that people keep talking about, so today I followed their lead and used their interest in a current hot topic to focus on a broader topic. Today, we learned about germs. We looked at pictures of different types of germs and talked about what they are, what they do and how they work. We colour coded them to make them easier to understand and recognise, then we made germ cut outs and hid them around home.... So we could play germ busters and 'wash our hands' of them!!! Germs don't like it when you was your hands, you know.
To work the swine flu into our understanding of germs, we got face masks and found out about how they stop germs from getting into your body. Then we decorated the outside of our masks with yucky germs and the inside with healthy germs. Did you know - face masks actually make great fashion accessories?? It's true - Miss F told me so.

Finally, here is a copy of the email Miss F and Miss J wrote to their friend, telling her what they know about germs. I think this pretty much sums it up!

"there are four kinds of germs. they are bacteria viruses fungi protozoa. some bacteria is good and some is bad. viruss live in a host sometimes that is us body and gets sick. fungi are like plants but they dont eat soil and sun they eat in your body. protozao are water germs they can swim they make yuck runy poo. germs make you sick until you get them out or dead. wash hands stops germs lots like sammi. love from f and j."

P.S.. Sammi is our friend who uses her hands for lots and lots of things - even talking!

Miss J's Joke

Courtesy of her big cousin, Mr 7.

Miss J, "A man goes to a dentist.... No! A doctor! A man goes to a doctor and he has a sneeze..... No! A cold! He has a cold. So he goes to the dentist.... No! The doctor..... He goes to the doctor and says 'Oink oink I have a cold!'..... And then the doctor says, 'Here, have this OINKMENT!!!!!!!!' HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!"