Thursday, 22 March 2012

Speech update

Although not many people read this blog, I'd like to apologise to those who do and may have expected a more timely update since the last post. I know you've been on tenterhooks since.

The long and the short of it is that Jake's fine. Actually, he's not fine, he's bloody marvellous. Both the speech therapist and Piet were very pleased with the lip and palate repair and his development.

I'm sure it's coincidence but perhaps the Montessori is paying off as he seems ahead in terms of comprehension, reasoning and speech. He may have a bit of a lisp as he still has trouble with his 'd's' as he's using the back of his mouth for them instead of the front, but nothing which won't sort itself out before he starts big school next September.

Also, the dreaded lip revision this year is now not happening. Nor will it ever unless Jake asks for it or we feel it's causing social problems.

So all in all, a complete result.

Thanks as ever to all his amazing team.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

February 27th

That's the date Jake will be going back to see the speech therapist. His first meeting was a few days after Freddie was born, so not far off a year ago. At that meeting he wasn't great at responding to the therapist but he did sit on my lap and say a few words when we went through a picture book.

Since then, his speech has developed at breakneck speed as you'd expect. The combination of pre-school 4 mornings a week and just growing up means we have full conversations now and his vocab increases almost daily. There are still letters he struggles with but, not being a speech therapist, I don't know if that's his age of because of anything particular to his unique mouth. He's got some lisping going on and various other Jakeisms but generally I'm happy. However only an expert will be able to tell us one way or the other.

I really hope they say all is well; we've not done anything clefty for ages and in the back of my mind is the next operation sometime in the next 12 months, so I'd rather that was it.

Anyway, we'll see what's what the week after next and will deal with it accordingly.

Here's me and the kids.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Jake's 4th Christmas (and Freddie's 1st)

Once again, this post starts with an acknowledgement of the time which has passed since the last. I was always very proud of keeping it so up to date, especially when you think about the millions of unmaintained blogs around. Anyway, when I started there was so much going on, so much to learn and then, you know, we had a baby and there was lots of new stuff to do and then the operations and so on. All of which generated thoughts, feelings and emotions which spawned relevant content to write here. The blog virtually wrote itself.

Nowadays life is just life and rolls on accordingly. Yes, we've had a second, but, thankfully, his arrival was much less dramatic plus we're no longer novices in the child rearing game.

The upshot of all of this is that as you get used to something, smaller things are less remarkable and if you're not careful, life can pass you by a bit. This year was all about stability. I swapped a very lucrative freelance job for a less financially rewarding but more secure role, the house is finished and everything is settled. Perfect for a new baby to arrive. Since Freddie came along, we're back to being knackered, sterilising bottles, changing nappies etc. All pretty standard, routine and mundane stuff. And because of which you find yourself doing less and having less to talk about.

I should point out that Jake did this 6 weeks ago.

I was already in South Africa for a best friend's wedding and Clare, fresh from dropping the kids off at her parents, was sitting on the aeroplane waiting to start taxiing, when her name was called over the tannoy. Thinking she was about to get an upgrade, she got the shock of her life when greeted by a policeman who said,

"Mrs Church, your son is in hospital, please come with me".

You can imagine how she felt. Jake had fallen through the landing bannisters and fallen directly onto the second step at the bottom and bounced onto the first step where a metal strip for the dog guard did its best to give him yet another scar. A horrible accident and taking the call in Cape Town made me feel utterly helpless and I spent the next few days experiencing the mixed emotions that occur when you're away from your nearest and dearest, unable to help at the same time as being with great friends on the happiest day of their life.

Anyway the important thing is that Jake is fine and after some time in hospital, x-rays and regular checks all he's left with is a slight scar which ought to fade with time.

Things are, however returning to normal, the boys are sleeping more consistently (although still not fantastic) and life as a four piece is taking shape. For instance, I also remember thinking a few years ago, how nice it would be to be able to watch a film with Jake. And yesterday our afternoon saw us all in the lounge with a roaring fire, Cars 2 on the bluray player, Clare writing Christmas cards, Freddie playing on the floor and Jake snuggled into me smiling at Lightning McQueen. Granted, Freddie started screaming and Jake wouldn't sit still, but for a good 10 minutes it was the perfect family scene. And it's important to acknowledge, if not cherish, those moments as they can easily flash by and before you know it, your kids have no innocence left and they're busily slamming doors screaming that they hate you.

So it's hard to believe that this is Jake's 4th Christmas and this year, he's fully aware of what it means. He's very excited as you can imagine. Especially when Clare uses her iPhone app to get Santa to call and talk to him. And tomorrow I'm going to his preschool to see his first nativity play where he's a shepherd. O.K, I'd have preferred Joseph, but a shepherd is a weighty part and at least he's not a sheep or a tree. I'm fully expecting him to come over all shy and maybe not even get involved (he refused to play football when I took him to Little Kickers) but all the same, I'm pleased I'll be there. My dad definitely wouldn't have been at my nativity!

Christmas is all about kids, including the big kid in us. My parents have spent most of the year in Dubai and I've missed them a lot, more than I thought I would, and we're all spending the day together and I can't wait.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Professor Piet Haers

Piet Haers - the professor

Regular readers will recognise this name. He's the man who fixed Jake's smile back in January 2009.

A man to whom we, and Jake will be forever grateful. Obviously because of his expert handiwork, but also his manner and the part of the astonishingly good NHS machine which kicked in less than 24 hours after diagnosis.

I know he's a professor, but confess to not knowing much more about his actual specialism. Maxillofacial surgery is a far greater subject than just fixing smiles, so any attempt to properly define the qualification which he so studiously trained for and attained would almost certainly underplay such an achievement,

All I know is that he did an amazing job, most professionally and delivered what he said he would. He'll also perform a minor lip adjustment next year and another when Jake's 8 or 9 and hopefully that'll be that.

'Piet Haers' as a search term delivers more traffic to this site than any other and to all those people researching the man who might be about to fix them or a loved one, I'll just say you are very lucky to be in the care of this man. It never ceases to amaze me the work people do. You could earn what he earns (I'm presuming here) as a lawyer, a banker, a busy plumber even but you'd never make the profound differences to individuals and their familes as a surgeon could.

So, for no other reason than it's good to always count your blessings, thank you once more Piet Haers for all you've done for Jake and our family, we'll be forever in your debt.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Freddie Fernie comes of age (not really)

So, now both our boys have been christened. As I said in my little speech yesterday, we're not particularly religious but we are traditional and a church is the best place for a christening. I'm certainly not into 'naming days' but they do seem a little less hypocritical.

I think I wrote somewhere on this blog before that before our wedding Clare and I went to hear our bans being read in the run up to our big day. Clare's point of view was that we didn't want to appear hypocrites by getting married in a church just for the sake of the photos, but my contention was that by going so as not to appear hypocritical was more hypocritical in itself. That there should be no other purpose to going to church than the natural will and wanting to go for whatever purposes, spiritual or otherwise. Otherwise, other than for a contrived purpose.

Anyway, I felt it was a nice thing to do for the people who do go for the genuine reasons; lots of people get an awful lot out of the church it's central to their community and indeed, their week is structured around it. So, going for them, I thought was enough.

And actually, this church is a place which holds only good memories and it is an uplifting place. It's equidistant from both sets of our parents, we got married there, Jake was christened there and yesterday Freddie was christened there. It's always been great weather and we've had three lovely days with our nearest and dearest.

So yesterday Freddie, he of the far less dramatic journey to planet earth than his brother, was christened at St. Mary the Virgin church, Headley, Surrey. He looked so cute wearing Jake's hand-me-down christening get-up and looked for the first time, less like a baby and more like a toddler. Also, he's pretty massive and the main comment was how big he is! On Saturday at a kid's party we went to, a lady came up to me and asked if he was 'about one' and was surprised when I told her, 'six months'. Anyway, big is good, big means eating lots and he eats A LOT, so all's well there.

Lastly, a nod to Jake, my best mate, who is so much fun. Unlike some dads it took me longer to fall in love with my kids, of course the love was there immediately, but what I mean is, it took me longer to become a kid-type of guy...the type who rolls around on the floor and play for hours on end. Of course I do those things, but before it was out of a sort of sense of duty. Now I want to and it feels natural. And I'm so glad of that transition as I felt I was lacking something...o.k. probably over-analysing but you question yourself more as a parent than ever before and it's great I feel the way I do now.

For the first time, I don't want Jake getting any older. He is a perfect mix of communicable, cute, innocent, playful and loving and I know that he'll soon answer back and the inevitable tantrums will start. He goes to pre-school four mornings a week and it's crazy to think that there's a part of his life which we don't fully know every detail of. The other day he came home and said 'bonjour Daddy'. Which is mental really. You'd think they'd concentrate on English before moving to foreign languages but what do I know!

Have a good day all.