Rory Gardiner's Webpage

10, Sep, 2010

Friday 10th September 2010

The Honnor-Gardiner household has been increased by one with the arrival of our cat Sparky from Dargaville.  Sparky appeared as a tiny kitten under our trampoline one weekend Rory and I were home during radiotherapy last year.  We subsequently found his mother (a wild cat) dead in a nearby drain.  Given what we were going through putting him down or giving him away didn’t seem right, so he stayed.  When we sold the Waihue house in September, and moved in with Grannie and Grandad Gardiner, he went to stay with Mrs Wily (Conor and Zac’s Grandmother).  She has spoilt him rotten as he has grown up.  Mrs Wily is in New Plymouth visiting her family, and has returned him to us now we are settled.  The boys are thrilled.  We have been trying to keep him contained in the house but this morning he escaped out the loo window to explore the section.  He seemed pretty relaxed so we are loosening the rules. 

The Taranaki weather continues to taunt us.  We have had a couple of afternoons warm enough to warrant digging out t-shirts and shorts for the boys, and we have had torrential rain (75mm in one hour).  The drain at the back of the house couldn’t cope and the water rose to a foot deep.  Sean had to come home from work to attend to it (unsuccessfully).  We were lucky to have a fine day for our visit to the Schumaker property at Purangi with the South Taranaki Branch of Forest and Bird.  Karen and Bob Schumaker began protecting NI brown kiwi in the bush/scrub on their farm, and the project has grown exponentially in size.  They formed the East Taranaki Environment Trust ( ), and with their neighbours now protect kiwi in 13,000+ha.  The goal of ETET is to get 500 pair of kiwi under predator protection in Taranaki within five years.  To get to Purangi requires a windy drive through isolated inland Taranaki, including the fantastic Matau tunnel cut out of a hill.  It is long and dark, made entirely of earth, and shaped like a spear.  After some four wheel driving in the car we parked up at what will be the project base/education centre/accommodation.  Following a talk from the Schumakers we walked a circuit through their bush, which they are developing for ecotourism.  Bob provided ferry ‘support’ on the quad so we could more easily reach the start point high on a ridge.  It was lovely to be in a sea of green and get our hearts pumping.  We saw a large kiwi print and some probe holes on the side of the track, many bubbling streams, and giant rimu and pukatea trees.  I heard, although couldn’t see, a NI Robin taunted.  Rory walked along the tack through the bush himself, stopping when he needed a rest, and was determined he could make it to the clearing where we had lunch.  He had a ride back to the start point on the quad.  It was a very enjoyable day.  The Schumakers are passionate people dedicated to conservation. 

We have managed to connect with some of our special people over the last week or so.  My friend from WDC, Dianne Zuchetto, and her husband Riccardo, are staying with us for a couple of nights while they tour the upper NI in a camper van.  It was neat to see them again.  Dianne’s mum has crocheted a beautiful matinee jacket and blanket for the baby.  Tonight the ‘girls’ (minus Cindy), and their families, are coming over for a potluck dinner.  It is likely the last chance we will have to see Mandy, before she heads off to compete in the Commonwealth Games for archery.  We talked to Grandad and Grannie Gardiner on Father’s Day, and they sent parcels in the mail for the boys.  It was like a mini-Christmas when the tore into them after school.  We spent some special time with Sean on Father’s Day.  The boys made him cards and we surprised him with some small pressies.  Following sponge cake for morning tea with Poppa Honnor we went for a walk along the Coastal Walkway, heading south from the foreshore to Ngamotu beach.  We stopped at Ocean Fisheries to fill our rumbling tummies with fish and chips for lunch.  I had morning tea in New Plymouth with the Taranaki branch Support Worker for the Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) and three other ‘cancer mums’, and I have had lunch with Nana and Poppa Honnor when I’ve been in town. 

There continues to be a lot of work associated with the boys schooling.  We attended an Intermediate evening at Inglewood Primary (IPS) last week.  The staff and students outlined what is on offer for Year 7s and 8s next year.  Sam will be Year 7 in 2011.  We are happy with what IPS has to offer him (smaller class sizes, a closer relationship with his teachers, the opportunity to mentor and assist with younger students, and many/varied extra-curricular opportunities).  Our other option is to send him to one of the two large intermediate schools in New Plymouth but we are reluctant to do so.  Rory has finished his speech and has been practising with cue cards at home.  One thing which works in his favour is he speaks slowly, and has the courage to speak in front of others.  He is a presenter in the school assembly today which is being run by the middle group.  Rory has participated in a lot of tests over the past fortnight, as part of the national curriculum.  His Teacher Aides and I support him during the tests i.e. read the questions to him, and direct his focus to one question at a time.  The largest gap between Rory and his peers academically continues to be with numeracy.  I think this is a combination of a year ‘off’ school for treatment, the fact it isn’t one of his strengths, and evidence of the effects of radiation on his brain.  I have researching avenues of support.  There are two private tutoring companies in New Plymouth (Clever Kids, Kip McGrath) and I have had discussion with SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties).  I also visited Anne Matheson, a private tutor based in Inglewood who runs an ‘alternative’ programme for dyslexic learners.  The main issues is we are still trying to determine where Rory is at, and the extent of his learning difficulties, which is complicated by the fact he is still recovering from cancer treatment.  However, I do not want to let term go by without doing something about the pattern which is emerging.  I had a meeting with the Ministry of Education (MoE) on Monday to review Rory’s Teacher Aide hours (18 +2 discretionary).  I felt as things are going quite well the two additional hours could be removed, but as there is going to be considerable change in the class room in Term 4, I thought it unwise.  Rory’s teacher is leaving, and two teachers new to Rory are taking her place.  Rory is coping remarkably well at school considering what he has been through, the deficits he has been left with, and the time since treatment.  He copes much better when things run smoothly in the classroom, when routine is maintained.  If there is a relieving teacher, or he has to go into a different class room, or there is a novel activity i.e. a morning of art, he has to work much harder to hear, understand, keep up, and deliver what is expected.  He becomes slower and quieter, eventually ceasing to be able to do anything.  It happened on Wednesday morning during art when I was helping out in the classroom, so I had to take him home before lunch.  What is best for Rory is repetition, routine, familiarity, stability, and calm.  I have voiced my concerns to the school about the impact on Rory of having two teachers.  They have listened to my concerns and taken them on board.  While there is nothing which can be done for Term 4, we will ensure in 2011 he is in a class with a single teacher.  I am grateful his two lovely Teacher Aides (Mrs Bracey and Mrs Frost) will stay with him next term.  They helped the Special Needs Co-ordinator, Sheryl, and myself put together an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for Rory for Term 4.  It sets out what his current issues are, what we will teach him, how we will go about it, and how his  progress will be monitored.  Numeracy is obviously a big component, but I would also like to see him progress in writing/composition, and be encouraged and supported to take part in PE/Sports within his ability, and develop and strengthen his social networks.  These last two components have a marked impact on his well being, sense of self, and happiness.