Ode to the year that was…


I wish I had something insightful and judicious to say on this the last day of the year 2011. But the truth is, I don’t. I wanted to wax lyrical about how time flies and how we should reflect on the year that was and learn from our mistakes and endeavour to make 2012 the best year yet, but that would just sound like a worn out cliché. So instead, I’ve decided to look at some (and by no means all) of the amazing things that have happened during the year, to reminisce on how much fun I had with my kids, my family and my friends. I can’t possibly relate every event, every smile, every warm feeling I experienced over the last 365 and a quarter days, but here are a few which bring a smile to my lips when I think about them, even now…

Liam sleeps through the night … for good.

Really, this is big for us. We spent the whole of 2009 and 2010, sleepless in Gauteng. As you know from previous blog posts, Liam was awake more than he was asleep during his first two years; he slept for an hour at a time, two hours if we were lucky. We thought it would never end; we were exhausted, disheartened and irritated, even though we had accepted that our child just had an extreme dislike for sleep and no sleep training could crack his code. Then somewhere in the middle of 2011, Liam just started sleeping like a “baby.” All night. I think I’d go as far as to say that this could have been the highlight of my year. Liam now sleeps like the proverbial dead: through thunder storms, through his Dad yelling at the TV during a soccer game, through Hannah’s teething tantrums in the middle of the night – his code was finally cracked in 2011!

Hannah learns to walk…

Your children reach many amazing milestones, each probably as important as the next in terms of development. But there’s just something about watching your baby take his or her first steps. I’m not sure why? Surely getting teeth is as important, if your kid plans on eating a big juicy steak one day? Surely the art of learning new words is as important, because communication is key in the game of life. But learning to walk… watching your baby take that huge leap from crawling to walking, is like watching a miracle unfold. Those fat juicy thighs, those chubby little toes, those aeroplane arms as they flap to help them balance, and the delight on their faces as they realize they can transport themselves on two legs, instead of all fours. It’s just priceless. Hannah walked on her first birthday. She had been threatening to walk for a while, but on the night of her birthday, she took her first steps unassisted. I remember exactly what she was wearing, down to her sparkly Hello Kitty shoes. I remember the look on her face, the look on Liam’s face! A beautiful moment.

Granny and Pa move out of the family home…

Yes, my parents moved out of the home I grew up in, the only home I knew. But more so than this, it made me realize and value the wonderful childhood I had had, and how I want to instill this in my own children’s lives. It’s not about the physical building, but rather the home which is where the heart is. I want my children to know their grandparents and the aunts and uncles and cousins. I want them to understand the importance of family; no matter how near or far we are from each other. I want them to remember important people’s birthdays and call them or send a gift if we can, because that shows your appreciation for that person, and there is nothing more important than placing value and respect on others, it does wonders for you, and for that person. I had a revelation about family in 2011; we need to love the other person, for the other person’s sake. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. We can make lots of money, we can live in fabulous houses and drive fancy cars, we can move across the world to give ourselves a better life, but these things will not ever fill the void that only the love for and of other people can.

I turned 30…

No big deal, age ain’t nothing but a number, right? But with age, comes wisdom, and perhaps on such a big birthday, God grants you a double dose! Not mental wisdom, because we all know, I could do with bucket loads of that! But the Divine wisdom that brings you peace and understanding. I’ve learned to accept that there are some things that I can’t change, that there are some people that I will never be able to change (read husband),  and that there are thorns that will always be in my side, that will never leave me no matter what sorts of mental surgery I undergo. But that’s ok, because I’ve learned that change starts from the inside, and that rather than trying to change everyone else, I should start to change myself, and you’ll be amazed at how by changing yourself, it somehow changes everything else – positively.

My online diary to my children begins…

The greatest thing I have done in my life, is mother these two children of mine. The two greatest gifts I have received from God. And my greatest gift to them, will be this online journal of their lives – our lives. When I started blogging, I did so with the sole intention of writing about the kids, and their day to day accomplishments and disappointments and milestones and all the other by-the-way sort of things that happen in the life of a child. But the more I write, the more I see that this is as much for me, as it is for them. Every mother will tell you how fast they grow, how time flies, how quickly they grow out of your lap, and these memoirs will forever remind me of this time when they were small enough for kisses and hugs; small enough for me, their mother, to make everything better again; this time when I was their everything and they were my all… and always will be.

Happy New Year everyone, I pray that the best of your 2011, will be the worst of your 2012. To my babies and the love of my life, I look forward to all the amazing things we will discover together in 2012. xxx

Ice Ice Baby


I am not even sure that it’s called a deep freezer. Some call it a chest freezer, others say it’s a deep-freeze. Whatever you want to call it, we just bought a 200 litre freezer thing-a-ma-bob and I love it!

To give you a bit of background… when we got married, the hubby promised me that one day, I too could get a double door stainless steel fridge like the one in the Defy TV advertisement, but seeing as we stayed in a tiny two bedroom flat at the time, I had to settle for a normal fridge with the three drawer freezer at the bottom. And this was fine for us. One whole drawer used to be dedicated to ice trays… that’s how little we used to freeze. My pre-baby memory is a bit rusty but I think we had a chicken and some burger patties and perhaps a packet or two of frozen vegetables in the other drawers and on occasion, a two litre vanilla ice cream. Oh, and of course those blue freezer blocks that you put in your cooler box when you go camping, because a freezer just wouldn’t be a freezer without the blue blocks, right. Then we had Liam and the freezer was still pretty empty, except for those few months when I attempted to freeze my breast milk in those fancy (and darn expensive) little Avent cups. I dedicated the whole top drawer to my precious breast milk and every time I opened that drawer it was as if a luminous light shone out at me, like when a kid opens a treasure chest in the movies, revealing the magic liquid that would nourish my child. Then I got over the whole breast is best mantra, and moved onto I’m-a-mother-of-two-and-I-do-what-is-easier-not-better. But this happened at about the same time that Liam started eating “real” food and Hannah started eating pureed food. So I needed more space for Hannah’s precious ice trays of specially pureed fresh fruit and vegetables, and for Liam’s chicken nuggets, smiley face frozen potatoes, fish fingers, frikadels (meat balls), and MORE frozen veggies. And it was around about this time that my whining for an additional freezer began. This was about a year ago.

 Besides the kids’ nutritional needs that urged me to get a freezer, I also started to become very thrifty after I witnessed firsthand, the cost of having a family. I realized the value in buying half a sheep, as compared to three or four lamb chops at a time. Buying in bulk is just generally cheaper. The other bane of my existence has got to be buying bread and milk every three seconds. It annoys me no end to have to stop at a garage on my way home from work almost every day, when all I want to do is get home as quickly as possible to remove my high heels that I squished my already bunion infested toes into, ten hours prior (traffic time included). And every second day, poor Zoleka has to send me an sms, like clockwork, to please get bread and milk on my way home. Now with my fantabulous freezer, I can buy and freeze bread and milk to my heart’s content, and I already have. But of course JUST because I have bread and milk on hand for months, the kids have taken to eating more fruit and drinking more water in this summer heat, than eating bread or drinking milk. Anyway, I used all these and many lamer excuses to convince the Hubby that I needed a freezer, I even said I’d take it as my Christmas present, that’s how much I wanted it. But I swear if I don’t have a present under that Christmas tree, I will put the TV remote in my freezer.

I was sad to let him stand in the garage all on his own, alongside power tools and other useless junk that we seem to collect, but we don’t have space for a fly in the house. Yesterday I went out to buy many things that can be frozen, just because I can! And also, I figure it’s better to fill him up now while I can afford to, so that there is stock on hand when Jeopardy-January comes around and we’re scrounging around until pay day. He is beautiful and shiny and cool! He will store all sorts of yummy things that we didn’t have space for before, like ice lollies and frozen grapes for the kids (have you tried that?) and delicious rump steaks and lamb shanks for Mommy and Daddy. He’ll save me time by storing convenience foods for quick suppers like readymade frozen chips and Mama’s Pies. He will be a hero to the household – a friend to melting jelly and a shelter to frozen peas. He shall be called Dexter the Deep Freezer.

The Prodigal Son


Liam, the prodigal son, returned home on Sunday after two weeks in Durban with his Granny and Pa. I can’ t exactly say he was thrilled to be home, I can’ t even be sure if he missed us. After the initial euphoria of being together again, he quickly reminded us that he likes Durban and that he wants to go back. And has been throwing this comment in there, every chance he gets, just in case we missed it the first time. He coloured up when he saw Hannah, and she all but threw herself into an epileptic fit of excitement when she saw him. I, personally was glad to have him home; firstly because I missed him so very much, but also because he could go back to playing baby sitter for Hannah and I could get some peace and quiet again.

To say that Liam has grown in the two weeks that we have been apart, is an understatement. Physically, he has definitelysprouted a few inches; I notice it as he reaches up for his toothbrush on the bathroom counter, or when he hugs me around my knees and his head is now in line with my belly button, much better than when he was in line with my crotch. His vocabulary has furthermore increased, as if that was even possible. Not sure what Granny was allowing him to watch, but I assume he has picked up “don’t talk to me, talk to my lawyer” from those corny day time insurance TV advertisements. I forgive Granny for this, because his manners have most definitely improved. Although he has always been a polite little somebody, he now follows the “please” or “thank you” or “excuse me” with the name of the person he is addressing…you know what they say: manners maketh a man!

What I have noticed is that even though he doesn’t consciously acknowledge it, and didn’t show any signs of being traumatised while we were apart, he obviously missed me, his most favourite person in the world, the most. He has become somewhat clingy – not in a crazy way – just in needing more hugs and kisses and attention than usual. He wants me to help him with everything and to watch every move he makes, like “look mommy, I’m changing the channel” or “look mommy, I’m pointing my right index finger at my left eyeball.” Ok, not that crazy, but just needing constant assurance and positive reinforcement. I know it’s just because we’ve been apart because I see it wearing off as he gets back into the swing of being home again. But it does make me wonder what prolonged separation from the primary caregiver does to these little souls, because even though we were apart for just two weeks and he was with the people he loves most in the world after his nuclear family, I know that it did have an effect on him… not negative or positive, but enough for me to notice. He and Hannah have been hanging out together alot; fighting and making up, sharing then slapping each other around, trading bikes and then crying to have their own bike back, hugging then pinching… true sibling affection, no doubt.

I am happy and at peace to have my chicken back in the nest. He completes our family, and although the break was good for us and for him, we were lost without him. Here are a few reunion pics of my two little chicks. Aren’t they clucking cute?!!! And yes, Hannah’s hair deserves a post all on its own, I know!

On the first day of Christmas…


So today is the first day of my holiday and I thought I’d jot down a few pointers to serve as a reminder for next year, when submitting my leave form, to take leave as close to Christmas as possible. Or not to take any at all. It seems I have more rest at work, than I do when I’m on holiday. So to sum up today’s activities…

I got up at the crack of dawn to wrestle with my hair. You see tonight is our annual Christmas dinner with special friends, and the last thing you want to do, is pitch up looking like you’ve had a rough day. You’ve got to make all this mothering, home-making, Christmas shopping, gammon-cooking and being nice to your mother in law, look like a walk in the park, when in fact, it feels like I’ve been ridden over by a taxi…twice. Sorry I digress, so I got up early to wash, blow and iron my hair. This in itself is no mean feat. It leaves me feeling sweaty and annoyed at God for not giving me straight hair. Thankfully the hubby and kids had gone to the airport to fetch MIL (mother in law). Then I rushed downstairs to start my pots as I had offered to make a roast gammon with veggies as part of tonight’s dinner. Enter hubby, kids and MIL. We exchanged pleasantries on how to cook a gammon, how to clean house and how to look after the kids… you know… the usual things that one discusses with one’s MIL. Then off to the shops we dashed. Zoleka, my hero, watched the pots and cleaned house while we were out. And as much as I wanted to leave the kids with her too, I really didn’t want to spoil this poor lady’s life by doing that to her, not on her last day of work for 2011 (this scares me a bit, what will I do without my Zoleka for almost 3 weeks?). So off we went.

As if I haven’t learned that shopping with children is a nightmare, I thought I’d do it one more time, slap bang in the middle of the holidays when the malls are positively heaving with Santa’s little helpers blowing their 13th cheques, just for kicks. MIL decided she wanted to buy us our gifts on this trip too, but I politely declined, as I would be damned if I chose a candle holder just to choose SOMETHING so we could get the hell up out of there… I want to browse and discuss the budget before choosing my gift… hello? Right so after a good few hours at the shops, we came home to a delicious smell wafting through the house. Gammon was cooked, I glazed that baby and popped her back in the oven to roast. Got stuck into the side dishes AND had to make dinner for the kids, MIL and Zoleka…which was the least I could do considering they were staying behind while we traipsed off to a party that was going to be legendary, no doubt. Then hubby and I had to go back to the shops to collect our deep freezer because we refused to pay the R250 delivery fee when we live about 500 metres from the shop. THE deep freezer which I have been begging for since about 1948. Yay, at last I can buy in bulk and FREEZE! But my deep freezer deserves it’s own blog post so that is all I will say about that… except that my back is now broken as hubby and I had to physically lift this massive piece of machinery from the car to it’s spot in the house. You have to wonder if the back pain is worth the R250?

Then a moment’s relief as we filled the plastic pool and let the kids frolic. Just a side note.. have you noticed that if your feet are cool, it sort of cools your whole body down? I felt quite refreshed after dipping my feet in the cool water, and ready to tackle my next task. Gift wrapping for tonight’s do. Quite a task when you have two todders asking you millions of questions relating to who’s gift is this, where’s mine, why did you buy that funny present (eek, hope the recipient doesn’t think so?), when will you be finished, I want to pee, etc, etc, etc.

Which brings me to now… Five minutes to post this blog, before I put the finishing touches to my dishes, bath the kids, hop in the shower and make myself pretty. I swear if the rest of my holiday is as tiring as today was, I am going to phone my boss and beg him to retract my leave application.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

 

Beep Beep


While I enjoyed myself at our work Christmas party last night, the hubby took care of Hannah (Liam is still in Durban with Gran and Pa and only comes back on Sunday). As always, I let him know that I had arrived safely at the venue, I answered all the necessary questions about where we’d parked, what time I’d be leaving, what he needed to feed Hannah and what pyjamas to change her into after her bath. That should have been that. Our next communication should have been when I was about to leave the party, to inform him that I was on my way. But no. 

You know those people who are constantly on their phones, whether browsing the net, catching up on social networks, BBM’ing or whatever? Those annoying people who you can’t have a decent conversation with because they are so glued to their cell phones. Well I was one of those people last night. I received a running commentary from the husband about each and every detail of his evening with Hannah. I may as well have been there! Now don’t get me wrong, I like to be kept informed of my children’s whereabouts if I am not with them, but if there’s anyone I trust with my babies, it’s my hubby and I don’t expect or need to be filled in on every wet diaper or baby fart. I tried to gently let him down without making it sound like I was having too much of a good time to be worried about responding to his messages, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. And I don’t like not responding because that’s just rude. But seriously, I spent more time responding to messages than I did socialising, and we were at a comedy show, everything was dark except for the stage and the glow from my ever beeping cell phone. He even sent photos of Hannah in the bath, Hannah laying on the bed, Hannah sucking her bottle. O.M.G. 

Then it got me thinking… is this how I am when he is away from us? Am I a hubby-stalker? I know I get highly annoyed when he doesn’t respond to my messages within 0.3 seconds of receiving them, and I don’t accept driving, or socialising or being on the toilet as an excuse for not responding (when I say jump, you say how high). But do I behave like this? Is this learned behaviour from me? How annoying! I had to wait for him to go to bed last night to get some reprieve and enjoy the party!  

Of course when I got home, I teased him relentlessly. He said I was exactly the same when he was out and he was giving me some of my own medicine. Me? No way! Ok yes, maybe a little. We agreed that the point of a night off was to get away from it ALL, especially the baby talk, and unless there was an extreme emergency, we’d lay off the constant messaging. Let’s see how this goes the next time he has an appointment on his own…

On a separate note, Hannah did seem to have herself a ball with Daddy..

Caught in the act!
 
Say Cheese!
 
I'm busy, do you mind?

Off-Kilter


Off-kilter: not in perfect balance, a bit askew   (Merriam-Webster.com)

I’ve been trying to find the perfect word to describe this funk that the husband and I find ourselves in. That weird “vibe” that I’m sure most couples experience at some or other point in their relationships. It’s not there all the time, but lately, it’s been rearing its ugly head way more than usual. It’s not arguing as such, it’s not the but-you-said-this or I-did-that, or the blatant silent treatment, it’s just well… like… as if… we are off-kilter – not in perfect balance, a bit askew.

I have no doubt that it’s just that time of the year when everyone has just had enough. Even the kids have that end-of-year frazzle going on which aggravates the situation between my husband and I. I’m not sure if a holiday will fix it, but I hope it does. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a solution to something, when you don’t actually know what the problem is. We talk about it, we agree that perhaps we just need to try harder, put in more effort, we kiss on it but a few days down the line, we’re back there.. in that weird space. I try to find triggers that set us off, and it almost always comes down to the kids – not that I blame them, but it just reminds me that parenting is hard work, it’s so hard to strike a balance between parenting and nurturing your relationship with your partner. It’s difficult to plan anything because you never know what to expect with little ones. A classic example is date night.. we agree that once the kids are down, we’re going to have a romantic evening and focus on each other. Of course, that’s the evening that both babies are restless; they refuse to go to bed, and after spending what feels like hours, FORCING them to just GO TO SLEEP, who really feels like being romantic? I sure don’t. Or how a kid has this insane ability to wake from a nap the MOMENT you and your husband touch each other. Never ceases to amaze me. Or just in general how your daily dealings with the kids, can come between you and your husband… I say yes to Liam having a sweetie after supper, the husband freaks out because unbeknown to me, he had given Liam a sweetie five minutes before. Liam is two yeras old and loves sweets, he isn’t going to tell me that he JUST had one? But of course, we end up in a huff over a sweet. So silly! Hannah wants to wear her brown bear slippers after bath time, but I’ve taken out the pink ones already. I freak out because it’s been a long day and I just want to get on with it, but instead I have to haggle with this baby over what shoes to wear. The husband walks in and says “JUST LET HER WEAR THE PINK SHOES!” (he is right, but because HE said it, I refuse to let him –and Hannah- win) so I get MYSELF into a huff and of course that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. So silly! Unless you are a parent reading this, you may think we are crazy squabbling over completely irrelevant and often nonsensical things, but for those of you with kids, you will understand that children bring out the best, and the worst in parents (please agree or else this means that we REALLY have problems!). And I know they will soon grow up, they won’t be as needy as they are at this stage, and our lives will be less child-focused and we can then focus more on ourselves, but I don’t want to lose my husband in the process or become so distant from him, that we don’t know how to pick up where we left off.

Then I have to factor in work stress, Johannesburg traffic stress, financial stress, and just being TIRED from ALL that stress…it stands to reason that a normal person would be off-kilter every now and again, right? So what do we do to rebalance this off-kiltered-ness? I’m not really sure to be honest. I don’t feel like we’re in trouble or anything as serious as that, but all mountains grow from a molehill that wasn’t flattened at the start, so I’d rather bulldoze this molehill, than have to deal with Kilimanjaro later. Some days are glorious, some days are not as glorious but we still stand united, and then other days I want to gently place a pillow over his head while he sleeps. All the prayer in the world doesn’t seem to be helping with this compulsion. Talking about prayer… I think it’s the only thing that keeps us sane, placing Jesus at the centre of it all makes things easier. And even when we can’t find the words or understand each other’s frustrations, we know that God is working in the shadows. And no matter how hard it gets or how off-kilter we feel, we find our balance in Christ, who’s WILL will not take you, where His grace cannot keep you… even though I have serious issues with God’s sense of humour, a subject I will talk to him at length about one day.

That is all. Pray for parents with children. Kids – a blessing in DISGUISE for real.

What I miss the most…


So while Liam frolics on the beach, stays up late and plays with his cousins all day, I sit here pining for him. Perhaps pining is too strong a word. We are enjoying the peace and quiet, and being able to toss a coin to decide who has to feed, bath and put the baby to sleep, while the other parent gets to vegetate on the couch and stare at the wall (something parents just don’t get to do anymore), doing absolutely nothing because there’s only one child to see to… we are enjoying going out for dinners alone and spoiling Hannah with our full attention. But all this doesn’t mean I don’t miss my baby boy; it doesn’t mean I don’t lie awake at night wondering if he is ok, if he is dreaming about me, missing me.  But his excited chatter on the phone, assures me that he is not missing us at all. He is having the time of his life, even though he dutifully answers “yes mama” when I ask if he’s missing me. Here’s some of the everyday things I miss about my big-baby-boy…

  1. Not knowing what I’m going to get every morning. Some days he bounces out of bed, ready to take on the world with a loud laugh and a high five. Other mornings, he ducks his head under the pillow and I have to tickle his toes, go on my knees, sing a song and promise him the moon just to get him to surface.
  2. 2000 20 questions before 7am. You’d think I’d be glad for a break from the interrogation, right? But not so, my brain misses its early morning workout, as I pick it for answers to the most ridiculous questions like why am I painting my face (applying makeup), why doesn’t Barney wear a nappy, why does Daddy sleep in my bed, why can’t I use Mommy’s toothpaste (and his panic when I let him taste the burn-y big people’s Aquafresh, and it sends his taste buds into overdrive).
  3. I miss being told how beeoootiful I am, even when I know my shirt is slightly creased and my hair looks like a fuzzball and I’m disguising my un-pedicured toes in big chunky boots that don’t match my outfit, even though its 32 degrees outside.
  4. Watching Liam being a big brother to Hannah – whether it’s helping her off the high bed, or trying to pat her mad-scientist hairdo down so she looks “clean”, or picking up her dummy when it slips out of her mouth. And I think she misses it too, or at least, wonders where her hero is when she’s in a tricky situation.
  5. Free hugs and kisses. For nothing. Especially when he holds my cheeks in between his chubby little hands and plants a smacker right on my lips.
  6. I miss laying in the dark at bed time and listening to him say his prayers. Then listening to him toss and turn and frump his pillow until he finds just the right spot to sleep in – just like I do.
  7. Getting a “good job mama” every time I do anything remotely positive. Like drink from a glass without spilling.
  8. Reciting poetry and singing out aloud while pushing the trolley through the shopping mall. You just can’t get away with this if you don’t have a toddler, you will just look like a loony. Believe me, I tried it yesterday.
  9. Spending minutes exchanging dialogue from either side of the toilet door, because I am no longer welcome in the toilet when Liam has to go. I agree most of the time, unless we’re in a public area, because I can’t have those little hands touching dirty sanitary bins and poking at that air freshener thing that looks like a disease waiting to happen. Yup, caught him in the act.
  10. Getting our exercise on, to Boogie Beebies. Shame Hannah tries, but Liam is way more entertaining to watch with his two left feet – totally gets that from his Dad.

So don’ t be fooled by my bravado when I tell you this break is marvelous, because truth be told, I miss my boy like a frying pan misses an egg. 

  

 

Hannah Banana!


So Hannah is an only child. And loving it. Liam has gone to “Durban by the sea” as he calls it, to spend time with his granny and pa. Hannah has taken full advantage of his absence.

Where's she? Where's she? Where's she?

 

There's she!

She did look a bit baffled as she ran to the door to greet us, yesterday afternoon. Maaaaaamaaaaa! Daaaaadaaaaaaa! Leeeeeeee? Leeeeeeeee? Where Lee? And that was it. She spent the early evening helping me make dinner and she loved having my full and utter attention. I’ve just realised that she loves Italian cherry tomatoes, especially the part when you bite into one and it squirts tomato juice all over your face and down your chin. Boy, did she find that amusing. Needless to say, we had a bleak looking green salad with very few bits of tomato in it. Then she rode Liam’s bike up and down, just in a straight line, not really going anywhere fast. I think she was just thrilled to have HIS bike all to herself, as usually Liam throws a hissy if she touches his bike. We rolled on the bed, she fed Barney some milk, she harassed Daddy a bit. At bath time, she jogged up and down the bath, taking full advantage of the extra space. And at bed time, she first gave us a show with lots of hugs and kisses and eyelid batting. Geez, this kid is a drama queen who loves to be in the limelight. Given the chance, she’ll charm you out of your socks and then some.   

So although we miss our big boy and brother, we now know that Hannah doesn’t reallllllly mind being the side-kick, but she sure does love to play centre stage.

Some for Barney...

 

 

...And some for me!

 

 

Potty Training 201 – Big Girl Panties


So we have one potty trained toddler in the house, and I won’t lie, it’s friggen awesome. He yells “Mom, I need a wee” and I ask if he needs help, which of course he doesn’t, he is a 2 year old, they NEVER need help with ANYTHING – only the cleaning up afterwards, duh. Anyway, he hops on and off the toilet all day quite easily, we are called in to help “clean up” after a poo and to help with hand washing and that’s about as stressful as it gets. We love that we don’t have to change his diapers anymore and he loves the independence and big-boy-ness of it all. This accomplishment has earned his teachers big Christmas presents. Right, so toddler number 2  has decided that she too wants to sit on the toilet… or rather stand as she sees her big brother doing. I am in no hurry to start potty training Hannah; if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know the drama I had with trying to potty train Liam and I was not ready to go down that yellow brick road again, and I am quite happy to hand this laborious task over to the school when we eventually decide to enrol her. However, since she has initiated the process, we are playing along… perhaps Liam will potty train his sister for us and I will be off the hook again?

As I’ve said before: to all those good people who held my hand while I cried at the announcement of my surprise second pregnancy a mere 6 months after giving birth to Liam; to those people who told me that everything would work out perfectly and that having two babies so close together would be the best thing for us and for them.. YOU WERE RIGHT. In an effort to keep up, Hannah mimics everything her brother does, and it’s no different with going potty. It is a bit time consuming… taking her diaper off, letting her stand on the stool and pretend-aim at the toilet bowl (yes yes, I will eventually shatter her dreams and tell her that girls have to sit), then letting her sit, then counting to ten, then her telling me no no no when I say FINISH(!), then taking her off, then pretending to wipe, then clapping at the pretend wee that she didn’t actually make, then washing hands, then putting the diaper back on.. and all this EVERY time Liam goes for a wee, and he goes often! 

Anyway, yesterday Granny bought Hannah her first pack of big girl panties. BIG moment in the house! We clapped and cheered and ooh’d and aah’d over the pretty pink bloomers. Let’s see how this piddles out…   

 

Little Bit of Disgruntled…


“Spanking does for a child’s development what wife-beating does for a marriage.”

Say what? I was a bit annoyed when I read this comment from Patricia Torngren, Vice President of the National Childbirth Education and Parenting Association, on the Living & Loving Magazine Facebook page. Her quote leads to a website called Project No Spank. I read a few of the hundreds of articles and got more and more annoyed as I read so I stopped reading. Consequently, she has posted many articles, all of which I think are a bit over the top. One relating to keeping your child in your bed for at least the first three years of his/her life, another relating to “time out” being banned because it too is unhealthy for children. Now I am all for every parent doing what works for them, I don’t judge the next person’s parenting style because I know that every child and parent is unique and there is definitely no right or wrong way when it comes to raising babies, you do what works best for you and your family. However, I have an extreme dislike for parenting “tips” that state your child will turn out to be a psychopath or clinically depressed or have emotional issues if you do x, y or z.

First and foremost, let me be clear in saying there is no grey area when it comes to abuse. There is a huge difference between a smack on the hand for doing something wrong or dangerous, as compared to whipping your child with a belt. I do not condone the continued and unnecessary and unmerited hitting of a child. I do not condone hitting a child for every mistake, mishap or broken tea cup or plate either. But I do smack my kids. Usually on the hand or on their bottoms, on top of their clothes. I generally follow a three step procedure..first I warn them that what they are doing is not acceptable or dangerous and that they should stop it. I must admit that most times this works for Hannah. However, Liam is at the age where he likes to test boundaries, he likes to see how far he can push or just how much he can get away with… and this usually ends badly for him. If he continues to defy me, I TELL him that he is going to get a smack if he doesn’t stop it. Sometimes this stops him in his tracks, other times he looks at me and carries on with whatever it is I have repeatedly asked him to stop doing. Then I administer the smack and he sobs for about 3.5 seconds and then I usually explain to him why I did what I did, so that he understands and we shake on it. Going forward he knows that if he does that, he will get another smack, so he avoids that situation altogether. It works. There were times when I felt so guilty for giving him a smack, and I have tried other disciplining measures, like time out. But trying to keep a 2 year old in time out is like holding back a crowd at the Woolies sale, it’s impossible. Sending him to his room is no punishment at all, as he has access to his toys and books. So in my household, a smack works.

According to Patricia Torngren “the hitting of children in schools is now illegal in South Africa. Sadly though, parents in South Africa (as in the USA, UK and Australia) are still allowed to hit their children at home. It is under review in South Africa though, and hopefully will then bring us into line with most of the countries in Europe, where spanking has been illegal for many years. As spanking is stopped in the various countries, the levels of childhood delinquency, crime, and depression and other forms of mental illness in adulthood drop significantly. Children start to do better in schools, and when that generation grows up, there is less spouse battering and a greatly reduced rate of inter-family violence. Countries where spanking is stopped have also been shown to become less likely to go to war with other countries. So stopping the spanking of children, stops all forms of interpersonal and international violence across the board. “ Seriously? This really does sound more like the effects of child abuse, as compared with disciplining your child with a smack? Or am I crazy? Less likely to go to war? Really? How do they figure that?

In another article she speaks about the benefits of co-sleeping as a family, preferably on a wall to wall mattress on the floor, until your kids are at least three years old. Now excuse me for thinking this completely weird and quite freakish, but if I had to sleep on the floor for three years, being kicked in the ribs by the kids, tramped on by my hubby going to the loo, sneaking out to be intimate with my husband… I think I would be way less fun to be around in the waking hours. I understand the benefits of co-sleeping, I did it myself while my babies were newborn, it’s easier to breastfeed in bed, it’s comforting for both mother and child to be close together and let’s face it, walking up and down to a restless baby is TIRING for the mother. But I couldn’t wait to get them out of our room. And they actually slept better in their own rooms, free from the snoring and tossing and turning and bright lights of the TV turned down to mute. And I was so glad to have our room back, I could read in bed with the light on until all hours, I could go back to watching my TV shows in bed after 7pm, my room looked like a room, and not like a nursery with bottles and bibs and a big camp cot which invariably I’d stub my toe against in the middle of the night. In the article to which Patricia Torngren refers, it states that “brain development can also be damaged by nightly separation, which can lead to behavioural problems in later life.” And that “babies hearts were under up to three times more stress when they slept in a cot, rather than on their mother’s chest.” Oh and also “…disrupted sleep and stress to the heart could make it difficult for them to form relationships…” I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how this is true. Yes a baby is more calmer and relaxed when he or she is close to his mother, and I don’t undermine the value of skin to skin contact for a newborn and mother, but to say that children who didn’t sleep with their parents until the age of three could have difficulty in forming relationships and could have behavourial problems just makes no sense to me!

You see, I am all for doing what works for you, if co sleeping until your kid is 5 years old works for you, then be all means go for it. If you are against smacking your child, that is your right and I do not judge you for it. But please do not infer that because I smack my kids or let them sleep in the dark, on their own in their rooms, that they are going to turn out to be the dregs of society! All the statistics, surveys and professors/doctors/health professionals opinions in the world, cannot count for a mother’s intuition and natural ability to know what is best for her child.