What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

House Renovations

The renovations of the new house seem to be going well. Apart from the window the builders broke, that is. Oh, and the hole in the playroom ceiling. I guess you have to break an egg to make an omelet.

I have to admit, this whole building project is quite stressful. The most difficult thing is not being able to do things. Every time I get to the house, I have at least one child (generally a clingy baby) with me. I'm itching to get stuck into the garden, sweep up some mess, stick the letterbox in the ground, or chuck out some rubbish that was left under the house by previous inhabitants. But I get around to doing none of that at the moment. I guess it will take me years to get the garden cleaned up.

There is heaps of work to do. After all, the only reason we could afford the house is the sad state it was in. It all adds up, all those big and little changes, and the house is rapidly turning into a bottomless money pit. Still, the flip side is that we have found a house that works for us as a family, and all the renos mean that we can make the house accessible before we move in. As all the window frames were in a sad state and most needed removal, we've decided to put new big glass windows and sliding doors in, all flush with the floor, so it's easy to take a wheelchair in and out. The children's bathroom has been completely knocked down, extended, and will be fitted as accessible as possible given the space limitations. One day, the front entrance and the garden will be made fully accessible – for now, the funds won't stretch quite that far.

Some people have asked why on earth we are leaving our lovely little valley. We had absolutely no intention of ever leaving our house in Minnamurra (aboriginal word meaning "plenty of fish – sharks came in"). After all, two of our kids were born here, and their placentas have a gum tree growing on them in the garden. We love it here, and while it's not everyone's cuppa tea, it's our ideal house, in the ideal street. Still, a three level house in a deep bush valley is just not ideal when you have two children with a physical disability, and for some of our friends, the house is a no-go zone. So, off to suburbia we go. Our new house in Cawarra Place (an aboriginal word meaning "beside running water") is the perfect compromise between our children's needs for accessibility and our love of the bush.

The house is in walking distance to Gordon shops (which should get a whole heap of extra shops and a cinema, how good is that!) and Gordon station (which has lifts, so the kids can get into town). This should come in handy once the kids hit their teens and would like a more independent lifestyle. The boys can walk (Mister Determined may need a stick, but as there are no stairs or very steep hills, he should be ok even if his mobility deteriorates in puberty) and even if Boo Boo uses a wheelchair, she should be able to drive a powerchair up to Gordon. The house itself is pretty handy. It has three kids' bedrooms and a bathroom on one side, then a kitchen/dining/living area in the middle, and on the other side the parent's bedroom and bathroom and a study. The main living area of the house is all level, yet it has a big playroom downstairs, for that all important physiotherapy of going-up-and-down-the stairs. Another major asset is a nice size pool in the backyard! While all of this makes living easier for us as a family, we especially love the fact that the house backs onto the bush of Blackbutt Reserve. The living areas have a gorgeous view over the bush, and we can't wait to get stuck into the garden – those Agapanthas, Camellias and Azaleas, those palm trees and banana trees are on a one-way track to plant heaven.
Still, just over four more weeks to go until we move in, and loads more work is to be done by our Andrew, our wonderful builder, and his crew. The floor needs finishing, the veranda needs to be put up, and some holes (in walls and ceilings) need to be patched up. We still have to put the new windows in (fingers crossed they arrive on time), paint all the walls and sand and varnish the floors. I wonder if the house will be finished by the time we have to move. I sure hope so...

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