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Rory Gardiner's Webpage

13, Jul, 2012

July 2012 update


I’m sitting at the kitchen table at Grannie and Grandad Gardiners and the sun is streaming in the window. We have made our way north for a holiday and have been blessed with fine clear days. They start out as freezing foggy mornings decorated with dewy spiders webs. Over the past week we have caught up with many of our cherished old friends; Trudi & Kody, the Newman-Hornes (whose coffee and lemon yoghurt cake was delicious), Denise and the Miller boys (Brad, Lewis and Cole), the Willy-Smiths, Dianne and Riccardo (Colt loved getting acquainted with horses Soky and Mr T), and Great Uncle Harry who was kept entertained by Colt’s naughty antics. We have been outdoors exploring; walking barefoot along the beach at Ngahau (Colt thinks all shells and rocks should be thrown back into the sea), completing a circuit of Kai Iwi lakes amongst its growing natives, tramping at Mimiwhangata Farm Park where we collected cats-eyes on three different beaches, had a picnic lunch, and crossed the farm past the lake/wetland where brown teal (pateke) hang out, and crossing the longest footbridge in the southern hemisphere at Whananaki to explore the sandspit (the boys dug up tuatua’s in the shallows with their toes). Sean and I had morning runs to the top of Puhipuhi where Northland’s high points rose out of the fog and looked like something out of Avatar. A month has slipped by without me finding time to share Rory’s (and our) news. Time is something which always seems to be in short supply even though I operate at speed during daylight hours to fit the maximum amount in. Rory is well. He, Colt and I, succumbed to the respiratory virus which has been going around this winter. A sore throat was accompanied by an unstoppable wet chesty wracking cough. Rory and Colt ended up on antibiotics due to crackling in their lungs and had days off school and Porse. Rory has had his Teacher Aide (TA) allocation (18 hours/week) reviewed by the Ministry of Education. He has had a Teacher Aide for two years. The Ministry has decided he has recovered sufficiently not to require assistance. Rory has a further six months support from a TA so he can to learn how to manage his deficits and then he will be on his own. I had hoped the letters from his specialists would carry enough weight for a renewal but I am not surprised it was refused. We were lucky to secure a TA for Rory at the end of treatment (few cancer children do), and Rory has made an incredible recovery. However, because of brain cancer, and the treatment he has received, he will always need support. I will have to work closely with his teacher in 2013 to ensure he gets equal access to learning. I recently met with his teacher, and the Special Needs Co-ordinator, to draft an IEP (Individual Education Plan) to set out how best to teach Rory. We focused on physical education, what occurs during breaks, numeracy, and improving two-way communication i.e. homework, events/opportunities. Rory has been involved in the film making elective on a Wednesday afternoon. I went with his class to assist with a river study on the Waiongana-iti River, which they captured on film. I ended up in the cold river up to my knees with a sieve and dish brush collecting invertebrates for identification. He enjoyed the Cycling skills programme at school which was organised by Sport Taranaki, and has been giving his best every Saturday morning on the soccer field. He plays in defence and is not afraid to tackle the opposition, earning him Player of the Day a few weeks ago for his efforts. Rory has completed three sessions with a Psychologist looking at what triggers his anger and frustration, how it progresses (scale), and how to deal with it. We also discussed self esteem, and speaking up so Rory can get what he needs. One of the highlights of the past month was attending friend Jack’s 11th birthday. The theme was ‘Fear Factor’ and the boys had to undertake several gross and scary challenges. Rory tells me eating the chocolate concoction out of a baby’s nappy was ‘really gross’. He had such a fantastic time he was shattered on Monday morning and needed the day off school. Sam is growing up too fast. He attended the National Youth Leaders Day in Wellington with a group of Intermediates from Inglewood Primary, staying overnight in Upper Hutt. He was part of a team which competed in the Taranaki BP Technology challenge, and is in a Rippa rugby tournament for Intermediates when we return in Term 3. He spent a week at Stratford Primary as part of the Assist (Gifted Kids) programme, and is busy with soccer on Saturday mornings. His team is playing up a grade (14th) as Inglewood is a small club, and each win has been cherished. Sam and I have continued to ride/run regularly. We have a 10km circuit which we do three times a week, and have recently extended our long run to 17km in the weekend. We cycle together one morning/week. One Sunday we made it to the stone store at the North Egmont entrance to Egmont National Park. We gave each other a hi-5 when we stopped as it had been an 11km uphill climb on our mountain bikes. Sam has his first girlfriend. Her name is Emily and he asked her out a couple of weeks ago. They recently went on a triple date to lunch and Snow White and the Huntsman at the movies in New Plymouth. Sam’s good mates Taylor and Kieran also attended with their girlfriends Grace and Erin. The Year 8 students text each other regularly, in a language which often makes little sense to me. Sam and I attended the orientation afternoon at Inglewood High School with many of his friends and their parents. It seems like a good school, and is close to our home. Most of Sam’s peers will attend next year. I would like Sam to consider other options so we are attending the New Plymouth Boys High School orientation at the end of July. Colt is now 18 months old. He is (largely) weaned and will try most food. He is on the go all the time, and loves being outside. He knows lots of words (including ‘lolla’), and asks for what he wants with his arm outstretched, palm up, fingers opening and closing in a cheeky gesture. He continues to enjoy Playcentre attracted to painting, playdough, and the fort outside. He has had fun dipping into the pile of scrunchy fallen leaves in one corner. Nana has been helping me out with Colt while Sharon (Porse) has been away, and with all the boys during the school holidays, so I can continue to work a few hours/week. They have been to public library, the museum, to feed the ducks, along the coastal walkway (big boys on their scooters), the movies (Brave), and swimming at the Aquatic Centre. Colt has given us a scare over the past three months. He had an episode when he tripped in the lounge and hit his head on the floor. When Sean picked him up he was limp, floppy, pale and not breathing. We shook him gently and called to him and after a few seconds he stiffened and started to breathe again. We thought maybe we had imagined it, but it happened again about a month later when he fell in the house. I did some research online and he may be having breath holding spells. They are a physiological response where his heart slows and his breathing stops in response to pain/fear. He has had three further episodes. The past couple of times has ‘come to’ relatively quickly but has been very sleepy and slipped ‘under’ again ceasing breathing. It is like he is there one minute and gone the next. It is frightening. I have spoken to two doctors about it, and Colt needs to have some tests but we have had to wait until he is well i.e. clear of the current virus. I will take him to the Doctor as soon as we get home. The two most common causes of breath holding spells are an iron deficiency and heart problems. It will be good to know so we can take action to help him. Winter in Taranaki has brought frosty -1o mornings, thunder and lightning with hail storms, strong wind, days of heavy rain which closed the soccer fields, and a 7.0 earthquake off the coast of Opunake which made our bed roll like the ocean. We have re-insulated the roof of the house and put ground cover underneath. We tramped on the mountain last weekend to show Rory the Waingongoro Hut and swing bridge (longest in the park). There was snow on the track which the boys threw and jumped in, and many wood pigeon in the trees likely attracted by the abundant berries. We took Sam and Taylor to Whitecliffs to walk our regular loop to Waipingao Stream. We saw 40 feral goats, and Sam and Taylor attempted to capture some on foot but were outrun. Colt was excited to see cows, horses, and goats up close. One weekend we drove out to eastern Taranaki and walked through Te Wera Arboretum. It was established in 1954 and contains over 80 species of plantation trees from around the world; oak, ash, birch, fir, pine, cypress, eucalyptus, cedar, sequoia, walnut. The trees are tall, diverse and impressive. Next to the Arboretum is the camp where Sam and the Inglewood Primary Intermediates (and maybe me) will stay for camp in Term 4. We drove on to the Pohokura Saddle, just before Whangamomona, and walked the Awahou Ridge Track. The beech forest was thick and contained the full spectrum of green. We were rewarded with the appearance of a female robin close by on the track. June was a month of celebrations. We attended cousin Corbyn and Sacha’s combined birthday party. Happy 8th birthday Corbyn, and Happy 10th birthday Sacha. We had dinner with our extended whanau for Auntie Janet’s 80th birthday. Wendy organised pretty invitations, a decorated cake, and a gift basket. It was a humming family evening, and I know Auntie enjoyed the fuss.