Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Hi everyone!

It's been a busy time (traveling/seminaring, and a medical condition which hopefully has passed) - sorry it's over a month since the last update.

Little Bella is getting more delightful by the week! But she's not developing in terms of language and walking, though she's quite intelligent in other ways. The diagnosis? Maybe a form of Dyspraxia (more on that below). So Amanda is taking her to special therapy groups, and we have to teach her words with basic sign language. She learns some things pretty well: 'Arms up', 'Blow us a kiss!' 'Bye bye' - and responds appropriately. But she only takes a couple of steps, and apart from 'Dada' has very few distinct sounds.

Yesterday I took Millie and Bella for a walk to see 'Millie's Bridge' - part of the new freeway being built from Ringwood to Frankston. It's Millie's Bridge because her dad says he's taking her on the new road to the beach (22 minutes, vs. about 50 minutes in non-peak times now). Bella looked up every 100 metres or so and smiled at me - gorgeous little one.

Bella has her own little corners in our lounge room where she gravitates to play with familiar toys - books in one place, some round blocks she puts into grooves in another. She loves familiar things.

Millie may be attending a creche while her mum is counselling this Friday afternoon. We all have contingency plans ready! Whenever her mum and/or grandma goes out she asks the remaining adult/s: 'Will you mind me?' She has full sentences and lots of words: even 'diarrhoea' pronounced perfectly this morning (yes, she's been ill the last couple of days). She has the best conversations on the telephone of any three-year old we've known. And she says cutely about her behavior when visitors are about to come: 'I mightn't snatch!' (which refers to how her mum is training her to play nicely with other children!)


Here's more about dyspraxia:

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is generally recognised to be an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. Associated with this may be problems of language, perception and thought. Other names for dyspraxic include Clumsy Child Syndrome; Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD); Minimal Brain Dysfunction: Motor learning Difficulty; and Pereceptuo-motor Dysfunction.

What causes Dyspraxia?

For the majority of those with the condition, there is no known cause. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neurone development in the brain rather than to brain damage. People with dyspraxia have no clinical neurological abnormality to explain their condition.

How would I recognise a child with Dyspraxia?

The pre-school child

* Is late in reaching milestones e.g. rolling over, sitting, standing, walking, and speaking

* May not be able to run, hop, jump, or catch or kick a ball although their peers can do so

* Has difficulty in keeping friends; or judging how to behave in company

* Has little understanding of concepts such as 'in', 'on', 'in front of' etc

* Has difficulty in walking up and down stairs

* Poor at dressing

* Slow and hesitant in most actions

* Appears not to be able to learn anything instinctively but must be taught skills

* Falls over frequently

(From )

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Shalom! Rowland Croucher

'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so' (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Amelia is three this week (August 8th) - probably the first birthday celebrations she'll remember. We've been as a family to FoodStar (smorgasbord) where they brought out a cake for her with a sparkler on it - and the whole restaurant heard the 'Happy Birthday' music. She was given a dolls' house by us, her grandparents, and a 'jump-a-lene' by her Mum and Dad (and did those little girls enjoy jumping in it: Millie's a natural dancer). On Saturday there's a big party with her little friends.

She comes out with very interesting phrases and questions: 'Is that a baby in your tummy grandma?' (Jan's not too impressed :-) and this morning 'That's not your fault, that's my fault!'

She's almost perfectly toilet-trained now (great relief for all of us!) and is quite 'colourful' (literally) when she describers her 'poos'! Her favorite food - ice cream and sprinkles (but only after she's eaten her vegetables).

Millie is a great organizer - of things and people. And makes comparisons all the time ('Grandma, grandpa, dad, mum... you don't have dummies, but Millie has a dummy!' This response to our saying she's a big girl now and big people don't have dummies!)

BELLA has the most beautiful smile, and mainly gets cranky when she's thirsty. She's getting very cheeky, and assertive. Sometimes she deliberately 'baits' Millie and tries to take Millie's toys off her, knowing there'll be a ruckus!

Bella is being taken by her mum to a speech pathologist, as she has few sounds other than 'dadda' and a few others. But the report said 'There's a wide variation at this age in toddlers' speech and language development.' We're saying all sorts of words regularly to her: she now knows 'light' and 'kiss' and 'nose'.

She's also not walking, though she loves pulling herself onto her feet, stands for a moment or two, then lands forward on her knees. Does that many times throughout the day... I think she'll surprise us soon.

It's my (grandpa's) job if I'm around in the morning to go downstairs and bring the babies upstairs - a beautiful experience. They are very good girls - and were perfect when I had to mind them for two hours yesterday morning while their mum was sleeping and grandma was out at a Prison Network Ministries meeting.

We thank God for them every day and often through the day!

Rowland Croucher

Monday, June 05, 2006


Last night we had a party to celebrate Grandma's 69th birthday. Millie's job was to poke 69 thin sparkler candles into the icing on the cake. She loved doing that. And of course she had to help blow out the candles.

Millie's favourite food is ice-cream with 'sprinkles' on it (we used to call them 'hundreds and thousands' or non-pareils).

Yesterday she had a conquest over some fear. In one of the Wiggles DVDs Captain Feathersword has an accident of some sort (I haven't seen it) and his face is all blackened. Millie didn't like that, but Grandma helped her to anticipate this scene and laugh... later she was drawing with her crayons. 'What's that, Millie' (asked Grandma pointing to a black smudge)? 'That's Captain Feathersword' she replied.

Millie doesn't like shouting preachers. After last Sunday night's service she said to her mum: 'He can stay up the front!'

Bella is not well today. She kept her mum up until 3 am, then her dad had to sleep on the floor near her. Millie was sick for a couple of days earlier too ('I'm not well grandpa!'). Bella has a new tooth: celebrations!

When Millie is embarrassed or fearful she runs to her upstairs bedroom and puts a dummy in her mouth. It happens when we ask her why Bella is suddenly crying, when she drops and breaks something etc.

One of her latest habits is to transfer all the toys within eyesight to one spot, 'for breakfast'. I came into the room recently when she was doing this and asked for a hug. 'No,' she said, 'I'm very busy!'

Last night her Aunt Lindy ('Diddy') slept overnight here, and when we told Millie that Diddy was sleeping in her upstairs bed, she was very thoughtful and silent. Sharing her special things is still a challenge for her! The night before 'Diddy' visited us and Millie asked for her to come and say 'Good-night' before she could settle down to sleep.

Millie is now talking freely on the phone: her vocabulary and speaking skills are amazing. (But Bella is a slow developer in this area... Millie had lots of words at this stage, but Bella still has none, only an occasional 'Da-da-da...').

But Bella has a beautiful little personality. She cuddles into us, especially when she's tired or unwell. Millie's often 'too busy' for long cuddles!


Rowland Croucher

Thursday, April 27, 2006


In this morning's devotions from The Message I read 'Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in.'

Millie is getting more and more independent, and more and more interesting. She now strings whole sentences together nicely...

When she is missed from downstairs she has probably made her way upstairs to us, as she can now open all the doors (except the two child-proof ones...)

She knows rectangle, triangle, square, numbers 1-10...

The other day she wanted to dance so she put her own dancing shoes on the correct feet and velcroed them up!

The other day she came running up the stairs: 'Grandma, Grandpa, come and look!' We had to follow her to her playroom downstairs, and there was a new chest of drawers her mum had bought her. Millie loves sorting things out, and now she can put things in their place!

Yesterday Jan suggested a banana for breakfast. 'No, I need something perfect!' she said. 'How about a mandarin?' 'Yes', she replied.

She prays every night and thanks Jesus for lots of things, and alternates with her mum or occasionally grandma... She: 'Thank you Jesus for butterflies.' Jan: 'Thank you Jesus for mummy and daddy.' Millie: 'My turn! Thank you Jesus for pigs!' (She includes lots of interesting items - including colours - in her thank-yous! She prays every night for an Iranian mother and daughter in their playgroup - Sonya and Marta, even though they left a month ago.)

The other day Grandma picked her up to take her back downstairs, and she announced: 'I might stay upstairs!' (Who's in charge here?)

Bella is very placid and beautiful. Today I took her for a walk 'n talk and she drank in the love! She's now standing up and walking along couches and railings, and stands up on her own for a few seconds. She's very proud of her little self!

Shalom! Rowland

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


This past week Millie has been so proud of herself: done a couple of #1's and #2's in her potty, for which she is given a special reward - a yellow frog. But she's very private about it: no one's allowed in the bathroom when she's operating!

Bella is harder to get to sleep than Millie, and creates quite a fuss at night. So Millie has been sleeping in her 'Pooh Bear' room upstairs (she's asleep right now down the hallway), and her Dad comes up for her later in the evening.

In the morning's Millie's usually awake by about 7.30, but Bella can sleep until 9.30 if she's had a disturbed night.

They're both well at the moment. Yesterday Jan and I went for a walk with Bella - one of the few times she has us both to herself (Millie was away swimming with her aunty Judy - which and whom she loves!) Bella was very quiet for the first leg of the walk, sitting in her stroller and looking at everything - other walkers, people on bikes, our dog - but on the way home she chortled and chuckled quite a bit. We stopped to feed the two ducks her Dad once released into the creek, and she enjoyed that.

P.S. I've started a new series on Jesus: the first ten articles (of ultimately 100 or more) are in a special section of the John Mark Ministries website.



Friday, March 10, 2006


Bella is getting more 'personality' every week. She claps her hands when she greets us (or her mum takes her away), waves to us, shakes her head in fun, and loves sitting on someone's knee for a story-book.

The other day Jan (Grandma) was reading Millie a story, and Bella crawled over to her feet and cried! She wanted to be in it too!

She is now squarking (how do you spell that?) when Millie is too 'physical' with her, or takes her toy. Millie is still sometimes exerting her 'big sister'/'I was here before you' attitude - even to putting the magnetic numbers higher up on the fridge door so Bella can't reach them!

Sometimes we've caught her kicking Bella. Where did she learn that? Probably from some adult with his hands full giving the dog a lesson in obedience. We have to be careful, don't we?

The big 'developmental' phase for Millie now is potty training. It's a challenge not to make too much of it, but also not too little!

Two gorgeous girls!



Thursday, February 23, 2006


Bella was born on St Valentine's day, and last week she had a couple of parties with each lot of in-laws. She got a nice fluffy dog from us (and Millie got a smaller one!).

The Health Nurse says Bella is in the 50th percentile for length, 90th for head size, 15th for weight (though she looks quite nicely chubby to us).

Bella can now wave good-bye with one arm, and claps her hands. She can sit up from a crawling position. She turns over the page of the book we're reading when we tell her. She has very definite food tastes, and is almost impossible to feed if she doesn't like something (especially weetbix and some vegetables. So we have to mix small pieces of 'vegies' in her yoghurt, which she loves!)

Bella's a very light sleeper, and very alert. We have to creep around when she's having her bottle, 'cos she sits up and wants to watch anything moving. Millie's a sound sleeper: so you can guess the logistics of getting them both to settle down (in the same room) each night!

Most Thursdays Millie goes swimming with her aunty Judy, and loves it. Today she came home tired and threw a tantrum when her mum tried to feed her something before her afternoon sleep. When she woke I was there to greet her, and we had about ten minutes talking together with her on my knee (a long time for Millie) - it was wonderful!



Thursday, February 02, 2006


This morning Millie sorted out all her wooden jigsaw puzzles, and put them in a line on the floor. 'That's wonderful Millie' Grandma said. 'You happy with me Grandma?' 'Very happy when you tidy things Millie.'

A little later Millie didn't want to eat her porridge so she slammed the (plastic) plate on to the kitchen bench, and a bit splashed around... 'Oh Millie! Grandma said. Millie was still and quiet for a full minute, then said, 'You happy with me again grandma?'

Bella is crawling everywhere, and is a delightful, happy, contented child. She cuddles into our shoulder when we pick her up. Millie will do that if we ask her, but she's not a 'hugger'...

Last night we took them out to the 'piggery' (our humorous name for the food court at the local shopping mall) and Bella and Millie played a game of shaking their heads sideways at each other, much to the amusement of passers-by...

I love Millie's faraway look as I ask her about her holidays, or anything else where she uses her imagination. She's putting perfect sentences together now ('There's a crimson rosella Grandpa').

I took Bella around our housing precinct for a walk the other day, as I've done many times with Millie. I talk to her softly, pray with her and sing to her. When we arrived home and I handed her over to her Mum, she clung to me (first time that's happened: Bella is happy to go to anyone). I was - what's the word? -'chuffed'! Bella's now doing 'high fives'.

Millie now stands her ground sometimes when told to do something she doesn't want to do. Her Dad brought her up the other evening to get one of our high chairs (they had visitors with a small child), and said, 'OK Millie, we've got to go back downstairs now.' Millie stood her ground. I'd been playing a game of Nintendo Ms Pacman and had paused it (it's my half-hour of unwinding some days) and that game intrigues Millie, and she wanted to watch. She didn't rebel as such: just stood there. We encouraged her to go with her Dad, and after about a full minute she did. (PS. Got a score of 329,000 that night - a record).

As you can perceive, these two little ones are a great delight to us!


Rowland Croucher

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Yesterday we came home from a couple of weeks away (at the most beautiful place in our home state Victoria - Mallacoota) to a wonderful welcome from the two little girls.

Bella can now move from a sitting to crawling position, and is quite mobile! She also has one tooth (upper gum, but neither of the front positions - don't know its name).

Millie gave us her squealing/running welcome-routine, and Bella had lots of smiles.

We'd phoned home from Mallacoota to talk to the two little ones. Bella was looking behind the phone to see where we were, and Millie did her jumping-for-joy jig, and actually talked in a small voice to us.

Two remembrances from the last couple of days before we left:

* Millie's grandma: 'Let's go downstairs now Millie!' to which Millie responded, but then instantly got engrossed with her building blocks. Twelve and a half minutes later (Jan timed it!) Millie said 'Wait for me!'

* The little girls on The Wiggles' Show started dancing and twirling their dresses. Millie: 'Where's my dress?'

Yesterday we joined the little family for lunch on the verandah, which was a beautiful experience.

Happy New Year everyone!

Rowland Croucher