2 years ago

23rd May – 5th June, 2016

I really need to get my butt into gear with my blog posts and start writing them on time! Time is getting away from me because I’m great at fluffing around in the evenings and never really achieving anything! Look at social media, put stuff away, make photo/video logs, review photos, colour in, write in my journal…It’s not unproductive, but it’s not the kind of production I want to be doing. So, I am here writing, finally, about the second fortnight of our journey, although we are already into the week beyond that! Ahhhhh….the joys of freedom living. Coming and going as I please, without expectation (well, sort of), and just being with each moment without attachment to any outcome (well, sort of).

Mackenzie's reaction after being kissed by a seal at Dophin Marine Magic
Mackenzie’s reaction after being kissed by a seal at Dophin Marine Magic, 25th May 2016

It’s been another jam-packed couple of weeks on The Road Unseen and I think we’re starting to find our feet. We made our way to Coffs Harbour on Tuesday 24th May after our lovely little getaway in Crescent Head and stayed in a noisy little spot right off the Pacific Highway. Bad idea and I won’t be doing that again! I left Sydney to get away from the traffic, not sleep next to it! We had our first ‘out of town visitors’ with Sally and Michelle from Vision Australia stopping in to check out The Little Cottage and making plans for our event on Wednesday 25th May at Dolphin Marine Magic. It was lovely to see them in person, having been working with them via video calls for the past 6 months. Although a collaborative team approach for the project, it was Sally’s efforts that saw the inaugural event at Dolphin Marine Magic on this beautiful autumnal day. Blue skies, seal kisses, scones and guests (including Mayor, Mrs. Denise Knight) were shared as I had the opportunity to discuss our journey since Mackenzie’s diagnosis, The Road Unseen journey, and all the wonderful support we’ve received from Vision Australia over the years.


Presentation at Dolphin Marine Magic with Vision Australia staff, Mayor Denise Knight, Mackenzie and Tanya
Presentation at Dolphin Marine Magic with Vision Australia staff, Mayor Denise Knight, Mackenzie and Tanya, 25th May 2016
Mackenzie speaking to NBN News at Dolphin Marine Magic
Mackenzie speaking to NBN News at Dolphin Marine Magic, 25th May 2016

Everyone seemed to enjoy the networking opportunities, the morning out, and the sunshine. NBN news came along and we aired on the 6pm news in Coffs Harbour and Lismore that night and you can watch that here. We were fortunate to spend the afternoon with my cousin in Coffs Harbour catching up over a stunning sunset, pizza, and cups of tea. On Thursday 26th under a cold and cloudy sky we had the most amazing opportunity to hop in the water and learn about and play with a dolphin, Bella, at Dolphin Marine Magic. What a magnificent creature. I am still in awe of this experience and am so grateful for the learning we both had from that experience. Kenz played catch, listened to Bella speak and blow kisses, touched her, hugged her, and felt a big blast of air come out of her blowhole! Without this opportunity, she would remain without any conceptual understanding of what this stunning creature is and we are forever grateful.

Mackenzie hugging Bella the dolphin
Mackenzie hugging Bella the dolphin, 26th May 2016
Mackenzie playing catch with Bella the dolphin, 26th May 2016
Mackenzie playing catch with Bella the dolphin, 26th May 2016

We stayed at my girlfriend’s in Gulmarrad for five nights from 26-30th May and enjoyed time playing with her kids, baking cookies, drinking tea, and doing all the ‘jobs’ The Cottage needs to function! There are some great tasks that Kenz can assist with such as twisting the table legs on and off and holding the hose to fill up the water tank. Every opportunity to move her body, strengthen her fingers, or challenge her is therapy in disguise and, well, lets be honest, she is the cutest little tank fillerupperer I ever did see! We also took advantage of the fact that Lee is a paediatric OT specialising in sensory integration so we used her equipment for some much needed therapy. We took a trip to the local doctor after Kenz’s nasty cough continued to worsen and then she woke with a terribly swollen eye! Little trooper swore she was OK and had no pain! Despite the illness we enjoyed a campfire and her first experience at toasting marshmallows with her little mate Jason.

Cooking marshmallows on the fire with friends in Gulmarrad
Cooking marshmallows on the fire with friends in Gulmarrad
Mackenzie with a swollen eye and sick on The Road Unseen - 30th May 2016
Mackenzie with a swollen eye and sick on The Road Unseen, 30th May 2016

Kenz really struggles with the demands of competing with other people in any environment, especially children, and a couple of nights in Yamba 31st May- 1st June on our own with some great therapy time was needed and loved, particularly the giant inflated pillow and park. We hit beautiful Byron Bay for two nights until an epic storm settled in! Friday 3rd my friend Kate, Kenz and I braved the wet and windy evening and went out for dinner but when we got back the awning was flying in the air, the table was about to launch into the sky and we had to get the van and everything outside packed up ASAP!!! It was BUCKETING DOWN! With the pending king tide, epic storm and expected winds, Kate jumped on an early plane home and Kenz and I drove (like a nanna in the rain!) to my sister’s where we were assured safety, comfort, and company. We spent the afternoon relatively wet running in and out of The Cottage to collect items of necessity and the pounding rain on the roof of The Cottage that night was surprisingly soothing. Although the stale wet air in the morning was not! Hello scented candles! We were so lucky to have my cousins visiting from Sydney that weekend so had some awesome family time playing guitar, climbing trees, eating good (and bad) food, doing handstands and almost breaking my niece’s shoulder (sorry Oly!), playing catch, and trying our hands at juggling. Turns out my sister can juggle…who knew?! She totally outshone me!

Snuggles and lunch overlooking Yamba's coastline
Snuggles and lunch overlooking Yamba’s coastline, 31st May 2016

Kenz has achieved:

  • Climbing on to the bed independently. It’s really high and takes a bit of effort for a little person to climb up. It took three weeks but she got there!
  • Attending the toilet on her own including:
    • Step 1: Open the flap
    • Step 2: Toilet
    • Step 3: Press the very hard and tricky blue flush button
    • Step 4: Close the flap
    • Step 5: Side step to the right and wash your hands (“but don’t use too much water!!!”)
    • Step 6: Squeeze your way back out of the door…”No no no…Not that way…That’s the shower! Turn left!”
  • Untwisting the drink bottle lid every time she needs a refill. Next goal is to go to the sink and refill it independently.
  • Elimination of complaint every morning when she has to try and dress herself. “Yes, you do have to do this every single day”. And is very close to being independent to put on her tshirt and pants once set up on her lap!
  • Increased speed on the brailler and can spell the first 60 frequency words
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Roger Ramjet, and the Last Post on the keyboard
  • An ability to tell you any day of the year based on a given date. She is a little super freak of the best variety
Letter of thanks to Dolphin Marine Magic composed and written in braille by Mackenzie
Letter of thanks to Dolphin Marine Magic composed and written in braille by Mackenzie

I have learnt:

  • Although taking several attempts to get poo to evacuate out of a jerry can is not awesome, emptying bodily excretions from the loo is not the worst thing in the world and I am quite efficient at the whole process now!
  • The noise a dolphin makes comes from its blowhole, not their mouths!
  • Waking up with intention to feel energised and watching the sun rise is good for my soul, no matter what time I go to bed
  • I am an evening procrastinator, despite having clear goals and things to do its common for me to do none of them
  • There is so much to teach a child and I am overwhelmed at times on what to do a lot of the time
  • Teachers should be paid astronomical amounts of money and you all have my deepest thanks and gratitude for the hard work you do. This is not an easy job and I see now how much time is required to foster an intelligent and capable little academic student
  • I have a chocolate addiction that needs to end
  • I am easily frustrated during school-based activities that Kenz struggles with. It is a learning process for me to remain calm and patient so as to foster feelings of safety and less anxiety to encourage her to participate
  • I don’t drink enough water
  • This lifestyle floats my boat and I’m not sure I ever want to come home

We’re both sporting a wicked cough at the moment but are otherwise energetic, happy, learning, connecting, growing and looking forward to all the great things we’ve got coming up. Next stop is another Dining in the Dark event at Pony Dining in Brisbane on Saturday 18th June and you can get your tickets by calling 07 3181 3400. We also have our next function at Australia Zoo with Vision Australia on Tuesday 28th June! In addition to the planned events we are aiming to visit the glow worm caves in Mt Tamborine, share time with family and friends, and connect with parents and their children who have a vision impairment in Brisbane (and anywhere else! Please contact me on FB or email if you’re keen to catch up).

From Byron Bay, with love and light,

Tan and Kenz xx

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