Rory Gardiner's Webpage

07, Mar, 2011

Monday 7th March 2011

The boys have been fortunate over the past few days to have been exposed to several amazing men, who with courage, passion, determination, and hard work have realised extraordinary dreams.  They were inspirational role models for the boys, particularly Rory, as they have overcome adversity to make their dreams a reality.  Boys can do anything!

We spent a memorable couple of days in Wellington last week.  Rory was given the opportunity to meet Bear Grylls, the British survivalist from the TV show Man vs Wild (Prime 7.30pm Thursdays).  Bear has been in New Zealand filming two episodes of his latest series, and was speaking at a charity fundraiser in Wellington.  It was too good an offer to ignore (thank you Jen, Lizzie and Jamie).  I managed to weave a little mother magic, with the help of some generous, caring, special people, to arrange two action packed days.  We arrived in Wellington at 2pm on Thursday.  Alex and the GM at the Amora Hotel Wellington gifted us a night’s accommodation in one of their luxurious suites (thank you, and to Lyn).  We were treated like VIPs.  Alex even bought some DVDs for the boys to watch.  After settling in we visited Logan and Brown Restaurant to meet Steve Logan.  All the boys are fans of the tv show ‘Hunger for the Wild’, and Rory is our No.1 chef.  The Restaurant is in the old bank on Cuba Street, and is impressive with its high ornate walls and ceilings, a mini aquarium in the bar, and a lofty alcove dining space.  After lemonade and tea Steve gave the boys a tour of the kitchen, and Rory emerged with chocolate on his face! (thanks Steve).  We managed to fit in a quick ride up to the Botanic Gardens in the Cable Car before heading to the Michael Fowler Centre for the VIP meet and great with Bear.  It was a quiet affair with around 20 people so Rory got to have a good chat with Bear.  Rory made him a card and gave him a Kia Kaha Rory wrist band and kiwi badge.  Bear put the wrist band on while Rory showed and explained his Beads of Courage.  We were all blown away to meet Bear.  He is a down to earth, warm, vibrant, intelligent man with a great sense of humour.  He signed Rory’s autograph book and a book from the school library, and there was an opportunity to get a photo together.  Afterwards we attended the charity show (proceeds went to the Christchurch earthquake and Wellington Children’s Hospital).  We sat near the front, in the 7th row!  Tiki Tane opened by singing several tracks including Starship lullaby which he penned after his son received treatment.  Tiki has a great voice and plays a mean guitar.  Mark Inglis, the double amputee who climbed Mt Everest gave a presentation about overcoming adversity, and Comedian Cori Gonzalez Macuer kept the crowd in hysterics.  But the highlight was definitely the on-stage informal interview with Bear.  It was interspersed with footage from his shows, where he is dropped into remote inhospitable places to survive and reach civilisation.  At the end of the interview the crowd got to ask questions and Bear had us in hysterics.  It was a late night for the boys, but when we got back to the hotel clutching Bear DVDs and books they were elated.  The hotel staff had left them a surprise in our absence, easter egg chicks and bunnies were peeping out from all corners of the suite.  It was a lovely way to finish the day.

On the Friday, following a gourmet breakfast at the hotel, we drove out to the Weta Cave, a mini-museum and shop on the front of Weta Works, a company established by Richard Taylor and his wife.  The company has produced the special effects for movies such as Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and District 9, and they are currently working on The Hobbit and Tintin.  In the Weta Cave we watched a DVD of the activities inside the workshop (you can’t go in because of confidentiality).  We were blown away by the breadth of creativity, expertise and ingenuity of the artists, and the finished products.  The walls of the Weta Cave are lined with armour, chain mail, and weapons from the movies.  The staff showed us around telling us anecdotes about the items on display.  Rory got to try on chain mail and hold Legolas sword, and both boys held the weapons from the movie ‘District 9’.  Richard Taylor left a signed model dinosaur skull from the movie King Kong for Rory, and a colour.  I know Sam and Rory were very impressed with all the wonderful creations.  After a drive around Oriental Parade we spent a couple of hours at Te Papa.  The boys liked the interactive displays, and anything which involved technology.  They were also curious about the colossal squid encased in a giant glass tomb.  Parts of the squid were in jars on the bench.  I mistook the eyeballs for testicles (and was corrected) as the animal was a she.  We were all impressed by the plate sized beak she used to eat with. 

In addition to our trip there has been much going on at home, and there is much ahead.  Sam had a great time at the Intermediate overnight camp at Inglewood Primary.  The children spent the night in tents at school, and Sean ‘volunteered’ as parent help.  On the second day there was much laughter and expenditure of energy on Top Town type activities.  Colt is holding his head up stronger, and has taken to sucking his thumb.  He has started ‘talking’ and there is competition to see what his first word will be (he already has the mmm noise down pat).  I visited the local Playcentre to enquire about a space for us later in the year, and have enrolled in a new programme called ‘Space” which starts in Term 2.  It is for babies to 18 months and provides stimulation through play.  I have also met with an In home Educator in Stratford who will be caring for Colt, initially one day per week, when I return to work.  Both boys have resumed kapa haka at school, and are swimming one night a week.  I had a meeting with key staff at Inglewood Primary to  Rory’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) for  this year.  We have had some hiccups with his TA, and she has now taken the term off for personal reasons.  Two other TAs are going to stand-in for her.  There was much discussion on Rory’s deficits/difficulties, and the best way to support him, and ensure he gets the maximum out of his time at school educationally, socially and physically.  I attended the farewell morning tea for the Taranaki Family Support worker for the Child Cancer Foundation (CCF).  Diane has been in the job for many years and made a difference to hundreds of families who have had children diagnosed with cancer.  We will all miss her. 

Nana and Poppa came to babysit one night while Sean and I attended a parenting seminar held by Ian Grant entitled ‘Raising Boys’.  The main messages, we took away were ‘Boys need a battle to fight, an adventure, and a heroine to rescue’ and how important it is to make them think about their actions either after doing something wrong, or before they act.  Sean came away from the seminar feeling justified - boys need to expend lots of physical energy regularly, have a short memory, and learn by doing (but only one thing at a time)!  Last weekend we went on one of our adventures.  We parked at the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust and tramped to the summit (Pukeiti means little hill).  There is an impressive stone monument there and a great view over a chunk of Taranaki.  We then followed the old logging track which loops around the summit.  All mature rimu and miro were logged but extensive replanting has occurred.  There were plenty of bellbirds, tui and kukupa, and the rata was flowering red.  The boys had a swim in the river.  The highlight for me was discovering a rare species of Peripatus, and for the boys was having a sizeable stunned spider dropped on them by a Large black hunting wasp as it flew over their heads!

Rory is returning to Starship on the 15th and 16th of March for blood tests, and an MRI of his brain and spine.  I am determined to remain positive but at the back of my mind a little voice chants the unthinkable, and I know it is possible.  I read on the Medullo email group about the relapse of many children, and how they go through a second, and even third painful battle for life which is rarely won, and I feel sick in the pit of my stomach.  As always it is to be grateful for what we have, and take it one day at a time.