It’s been a while since I’ve popped a blog on the website, simply because it’s been extremely busy. So, I thought it was about time I wrote a Jones family update and to be honest I really miss writing for the blog. Last year when we exited lockdown I thought we were through the worst of Covid so it has been a shock to find this lockdown has been longer, stricter and harder. But that’s life right? Just when you think you’ve got it all worked out a curve ball is thrown your way.
Firstly, if you missed our announcement over on Have Wheelchair Will Travel’s Facebook page, we chatted as a family and decided to now refer to the ‘kids’ as Braeden and Amelia instead of AJ and BJ. If we do interviews, we have always used their names, so we thought it was time. We originally used the kids initials for privacy and security reasons. Braeden loves nothing more than being recognised and Amelia is now old enough to be able to make her own decisions and was happy to go with her name.
We’ve been in lockdown since 26 June and I’m not going to lie, it’s felt a long haul. The first two weeks my mum was in hospital, so we kept our support workers and Braeden continued to go out to parks. As the Delta variant began to spread rapidly through Sydney it became clear we needed to be more cautious, even though we are all vaccinated. It wasn’t long until we were in an area of concern and limited to our local area and no further than 5kms from home. We couldn’t find much in the way of accessible walks in the area, so we spent our days at the local oval kicking a soccer ball. The result has been a big improvement in Braeden’s accuracy and strength of kick when it comes to soccer.
Like so many, Braeden celebrated his birthday in lockdown. Though I had fears it would be dull he had a great time. Usually, we would go out somewhere special in the morning before coming home to celebrate with his grandparents. This year we didn’t leave home but we were lucky enough to be in a bubble with my parents, so Braeden was surrounded with love. We had lunch delivered and there was a special visit from the local fire brigade. I shared a video of Braeden’s delight and excitement over on our Facebook page. I’m surprised he didn’t bounce his wheelchair out onto the road he was so happy.
The day after Braeden’s birthday I was lucky enough to get a spot on Sunrise (breakfast television show here in Australia) to promote Travel Without Limits magazine. It was great to have the opportunity to briefly chat about the magazine and let the wider community know about its existence. I’m always looking for ways to spread the word so if you have an idea, please comment below. We know we are only reaching a fraction of the audience out there that are looking for information about accessible travel opportunities.
Speaking of Travel Without Limits magazine. It was no mean feat to get the September issue to print during lockdown with everyone working from home. Braeden is a huge fan of seeing himself in the magazine but not so much a fan of my time being divided while I was getting the magazine together. As I said to the Sunrise team, people often assume we have a huge team working on the magazine but there are just two of us until the final design process. We then have a sub-editor check everything and a designer make it all look fabulous. The latest issue should be hitting mailboxes in Australia this week and be assured if you live overseas it is on its way. If you’re not subscribed you can subscribe here.
The restrictions and lack of accessible walks in our area has forced us to become more inventive with keeping Braeden busy and involved in purposeful activities. Improving his physical well-being and mobility has been key. As a result of the time out of his wheelchair he’s moving around a lot more on his feet.
I recently shared a video of his walking progress on our Facebook page. I also posted a video of the newfound control Braeden has walking between our lounges, turning around and sitting down. It’s really exciting to see this functional use of his skills. Even as I pop these photos in this blog it’s a little surreal to see him walking without anyone holding onto him.
As much as we are keen to improve Braeden’s gross motor skills we’re always keen to find ways to improve his fine motor too. I was looking at buying a giant Connect 4 game and asked a question about it in a local Facebook group and to my surprise and delight someone offered to give us one. Prior to Covid they had hired it out for weddings and parties. It’s been great to see Braeden’s progress with loading the discs.
Hubby also made a few large games for us to play outside including corn hole, ball toss into buckets and a Kerplunk game using a laundry basket.
It was a pretty cheap do-it-yourself project and has kept the whole family entertained during lockdown.
Amelia’s been doing her social work course online and her animals have benefited from the extra time she’s had at home. Amelia’s also been building upon her Auslan skills (Australian sign language) and I’ve tried to pick up as much as possible. We can now have limited interactions using Auslan which is great.
With most shops closed we’ve found the local buy nothing Facebook group a great resource. We wanted to make the guinea pigs a playpen so we put a call out for anyone with a paddle pool they didn’t need anymore and within minutes we had organised a contactless pick ups. The guinea pigs, Zach and Cody, thoroughly approve of the added enrichment to their days. For any Disney fans, they certainly are living the Suite Life of Zach and Cody.
We’ve loved the sense of community we’ve received again during this lockdown with acts of kindness from friends and family. Deliveries of food, treats and flowers has kept our spirits buoyed. My cousin took leave from her job to spend two weeks helping our family. Usually Braeden’s support workers take him out for the day but with the restrictions in place there wasn’t really anywhere they could take him for the day. Having the help of a family member was amazing. She did everything from hanging out washing to filling out forms and daily admin. It was just what we needed to help us make it to the end of lockdown.
Braeden loved getting mail from our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community and we enjoyed sending replies to everyone. We put our PO Box address on our Facebook page to see if anyone was interested in doing a lockdown mail exchanged and loved reading the letters and seeing some great artwork. If anyone wants to do this we are happy to continue. Our address is PO Box 4061 North Carlingford NSW 2118.
While we’ve missed our usual travels we’ve found silver linings to lockdown. There’s been progress, time spent together and new skills gained. We can’t wait to get back to travelling and sharing our reviews and tips with you again soon but in the meantime we wanted to touch base. We hope you’ve all been doing okay.
Here’s a few more photos showing what we’ve been up to during lockdown.