School Daze

To say I was gobsmacked when my two year old son came home with homework would probably be an understatement. Aren’t two year olds supposed to come home after school to watch TV or play outside until dinner time? Or was that just my generation? Once a week, Liam comes home with homework.  His teacher will write a love note in his book, explaining what needs to be done, based on the theme for the week and we have the whole week to work on the task. This week’s theme is My Family, last week’s theme was My Senses and the week before that was My Body. We also have a term planner so we know the themes for the whole term, and also the letter of the alphabet that they are focusing on for that week. Part of this week’s homework included bringing a family photo to school – easy enough, and a simple worksheet with a maze where Brother has to find his way to Sister, and then you needed to colour in the rest of the picture. At the start of the new week, we receive last week’s work, so I am able to track what he’s learning about, I can build on his learning at home and I can see week to week, how he is improving, or where his weak areas are. So far, he has been doing pretty well, except for My Senses – probably why he has such a hard time LISTENING to his MOTHER!! Anyway, here are a few observations from his first few weeks back at school…

He is definitely going to be a lefty.

I am left-handed, and as a child I used to feel left out (excuse the pun) because everyone else was right-handed. I used to bump elbows with my desk partner at school, and once teachers realised this, they foolishly made a huge issue of always insisting that I sat on the left side of the desk so that I didn’t “disturb” my partner. We all know the silly things people say about lefties, and as asinine as it seems, my “disability” actually plagued me for many of my childhood years. No one in my family was left handed, no one could identify with me, no one said “Oh, you’re a lefty, cool!” Remember, as a child, anything that makes you different, is seen as a disability! That Liam is left-handed,  secretly has me jumping for joy! He is like ME! My boy is like ME! I want to celebrate and encourage that, I want him to know that it’s ok, and instead of him listening to all the negativity, I want to tell him how awesome and unique he is, I want him to have access to a lefthanded scissor instead of battling with a right handed one. We even have an international official Left Handers Day on 13 August! I want to tell him about great and important people who were also lefties like Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte and Jimi Hendrix. And world famous artists like Michaelango, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci! Southpaws rule! And how’s this for a cool statistic..20% of all MENSA members are lefthanded, and based on the fact that only 10% of the population is lefthanded, this says a lot for lefties…we are smart! Ha!

Slow and steady wins the race.

Who would have thought that colouring a simple picture could take so long? But when you actually spend time focusing on how a little hand develops the art of writing, it really is quite amazing. Learning to grip a writing instrument and trying to stay within the lines and training your hand and fingers to move according to the brain signals which KNOW you have to stay within the lines, but your little hand doesn’t always get that, is hard work! We take this action for granted everyday.. we type, we write out grocery lists, we sign cheques, or indemnity forms for our kids; writing forms an integral part of our lives, and to think it all starts with you colouring a simple picture in your bumper colouring book. Liam and Hannah have been scribbling for yonks – on our walls, on the floor, on my car seats and couch – and occasionally in their colouring books. But as I see Liam’s ability to colour, rather than scribble, develop, it really blows my mind away! He is slow and methodical, sometimes he gets tired and reverts to scribbling, but generally he takes great pride in his pretty picture and concentrates with tongue peeping out the side of mouth, as he completes his master piece.

Homework is not for sissies or poor people.

Spending this quiet time with Liam has really been beneficial for both of us. And I think that this is probably the main reason why the school has established a homework programme from such an early age; it forces you to spend time with your kid and allows them to pick your brain about a range of topics. I gird myself before I go in, hoping that he’ll go easy on me and not ask me questions for which I need to Twoogle answers. Nevertheless, I love it, it encourages him to have an open dialogue with me, and more than anything, I want this for both my kids, I want them to be able to talk to me and their Dad about anything and the only way to get comfy with this idea is to start from a young age. If they know we are available to them, it will be easy for them to approach us, with any topic. But boy, it’s expensive to run a well stocked stationery drawer! I’ve had to buy new crayons – fat ones, skinny ones, in-between ones, koki pens in different shapes and sizes, markers, pencils and erasers, highlighters and glitter pens. Not because I have to, but because my little boy’s newfound love for drawing, means that I want him to have access to all the wonderful writing instruments out there! I was at the Crazy Store yesterday, and let’s just say I went a little CRAZY in the stationery department. But it was worth the OOOHHHs and the AAHHHS they received from the budding artist last night.

Teachers are angels in disguise.

That’s all. They just are. The work they do in these little kids’ lives is immeasurable, and they do make parenting that much easier because our kids are being nurtured and stimulated during the day, and really all we need to do is reinforce at home. Of course it works the other way around too, we need to be teaching our children good morals and values at home, no doubt. But in many cases, and most definitely in ours, many children are forced to spend 9 hours a day at school and aftercare, because of the hours their parents have to work. They spend the majority of their time in the care of their teachers and in Liam’s situation, I know his teachers are growing and pruning my little boy, in just the way I would, if I had more time to do so, and this quells my ever guilty mother-heart. I thank God for good teachers!

All in all, I think 2012 is going to be a good school year for Liam. I look forward to the projects and surprises he is going to bring home, I look forward to our homework sessions and I look forward to prize giving…because of course my lefty is going to come up tops! And even if he doesn’t, he’ll still be tops to me!

An interesting conversation…

Last week, Liam’s theme for the week at school was My Body. Needless to say this theme opened a whole CAN of worms… and not in the way you’d expect. We have always been very open about our bodies, I’ve used the correct terminology from the time they could speak, purely because I can’t bear to use a baby word for something that is completely normal and functional – you don’t hear people calling their eye a twinky-winky-peep-hole so why in the world would we give names to another anatomical appendages… like a pee-pee or a willy for a PENIS or a cookie or puffnik for a VAGINA? Yes, my mother taught me to call my vagina a puffnik! So Liam and Hannah are quite comfortable with their body parts. But that’s not even the can of worms I am referring to. Herewith a conversation that I had with my Liam last week. He came home with a picture of a face that he needed to colour in, followed by questions which we needed to discuss…

Liam: What colour is my face?

Me (long pause): Um, brown my baby.

Liam: What colour is my hair?

Me: Brown.

Liam: What colour are my eyes?

Me: Also brown. 

At this point his picture is looking quite glum because it’s just BROWN. But on we go.

Liam: What’s the white part of my eye called?

Me (oh boy, here we go): Ooh, ah, ummm, I think it’s called the cornea? Wait, mommy’s not sure. Let me ask Daddy.

Daddy looks at me like I’m mad, he has no idea. Not even a suggestion. So I turn to cyberspace. My Facebook and Twitter friends reply with the correct answer – the sclera.

Me (chest puffed out): Darling, it’s called the sclera.

Liam: pardon?

Me: Sclera. The white part of your eye.

Liam: Scccccera? Srrrrrrrera? Clera? Mommy, I can’t say that!

Me (giggling):  It’s OK boy, you will learn. OK, lets colour the lips in red!

Liam: But it’s not a girl, why we putting lipstick? Sera? Sclora? Erra? (still trying to say sclera).

Me: OK, if the lips aren’t red, what colour will we make them?

Liam: Brown. Lera? Clera? Sera? (still struggling)

Me: But there’s so much brown, baby! let’s make it a mommy face, then she can wear lipstick.

Liam: NO! This is MY face! I’m not a mommy, I’m a boy! What’s the white part called again?

Me: SCLERA! OK, what colour are YOUR lips then?

Liam: My lips are white. Sssssssssera?

Me: Oookkkk, white… hmm.. then we won’t colour them in. We’ll leave them like that then.

Liam: OK, and what colour is my nose. Sceeera?

Me: S.C.L.E.R.A boy… SCLERA!!! Your nose is brown.

Liam: Teacher Megan says my skin is peach.

Me (big eyes): Oh really? Well we don’t have a peach crayon so you will have to be brown OK?

Liam: What is the circle in my eye called?

Me: The brown ball?

Liam: Yes, here next to the sssera, kera. (poking his eye)

Me: That’s called an iris.

Liam: Iris! I can say it mommy! Iris!!

Me (laughing): Yes boy, you can!

Liam: How come Teacher Megan’s iris is green?

Me (oh boy): Some people have a green iris or a blue iris or a light brown iris. We are all different, aren’t we?

Liam: How come everything for me is BROWN?

Me (OH BOY): You are beautiful like this! You are brown like Mommy and Daddy! (please please make him stop!)

Liam: How do I say the white part again? (Sjoe! I’d rather have a pronunciation conversation than a race conversation with my two year old)


Liam: Sera? Rera? SSSSCCCCCera? They white like my teeth, hey?

Me: Yes baby. You must brush well to keep your teeth white, hey?

Liam: …And so my mouth doesn’t smell poofies.

Me: Yes, that’s right.

Me: OK, I think we are done, good job, let’s put this in your bag so you can show Teacher Megan tomorrow.

Liam: Ssssera? Cera?

Me: It’s OK boy, you’ll learn to say it soon. Don’t worry now, let’s get ready for bed. 

This reminds him of another word he can’t say: Flamingo.

 Liam: Like famingo. Mamingo. Lamingo. I can’t say that pink bird’s name!

Me: FLLLLLAAAAAMINGO. (Starting to feel like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady)

Liam: Its OK mommy, I’ll learn to say those big words soon.

Me: Yes you will my sweetheart.

Liam: I’m not your sweetheart, I’m your darling.

Me: Ok, my darling. Time for bed.

Liam: Night my darling.

Me: Night my darling.

As I left the room, I heard him practising and still struggling with his new words – bless! Since this conversation we have had many more interesting discussions about our bodies and many questions around why some people have hair in certain areas and others don’t… why mommy has such a big tummy and bum… why does Zoleka have a black face. I love that he has such an enquiring mind, and I don’t mind being sucker punched into silence by my two year old when he asks me questions that I have to twoogle. They weren’t joking when they said it takes a (cyberspace) village to raise a child, because I most definitely do not have all the answers!

My hope for you both…

When your baby is born, you spend hours wondering who he or she looks like. Family members get into heated debates over who’s genes are more dominant. New parents eagerly scan their babies in search of SOMETHING that links them to this pink wrinkled fluff ball. When people ask me who I think my kids look like, I jokingly  say that they have their Dad’s good looks, which is fine, because they have my brains. Ha! But further than that, as my babies grow and I witness firsthand how their little personalities develop, it makes me wonder what qualities I REALLY want them to inherit from their father and me… after all looks will get you pretty far in life, but it’s manners which maketh a man – or little boy and little girl in this case.

I hope that both Liam and Hannah will take after their Dad when it comes to dealing with people. My husband believes that all people are inherently good but some go “bad” somewhere along the line. He gives all people the benefit of the doubt, taking them at face value, and doesn’t pass judgement based on their lifestyle choices or how they look or what the grapevine has to say about them. I think this is an admirable trait to have; today’s society is so cynical and sceptical, we think that everything has a catch, that everyone is out to get us or rip us off. Imagine if we all gave the next person a chance, imagine if we chose to listen and understand before we jumped to a conclusion based on negative hearsay. Imagine the impact we’d have on other people if we allowed them to prove themselves and their worth, before assuming that they were worthless? My husband engages positively with everyone he meets; he rolls down his window to talk to the irritant who washes your windscreen with dirty water at the robot. He hoots at the Outsurance pointsmen, in thanks. He asks the cashier and the packer how they are and what time their shift ends and how they will get home (while I say in irritation). He always has time for the underdog. I hope that Liam and Hannah will be the same. I hope they will love others, for that person’s sake, rather than from what they can gain from the exchange.

I hope they will inherit my love for family and friends. I love being with people, I am a very social being and I thrive on other’s people’s company. I like to bounce ideas off other people and I like to hear their opinions and I question their choices – not in a weird way – but because I like to know what makes people tick. I love spending time with my parents and with people I love. Nothing makes me happier than being in the company of good friends. I think this is so important from a development point of view. When you allow other people into your life, it stretches your heart and grows your capacity to love. In turn, these people are the ones who will lift you up when you are going through a rough patch, who will offer you support and who will stand by you when you need a shoulder to cry on. Life without people to love, or people to love you back, is scarcely worth living. I hope that Liam and Hannah will be people who others are drawn too, that the love they have for others will be infectious and contagious, that people will WANT to be around them because they will be just THAT cool to be around. I hope they will remain childlike, that they will know how to let their hair down and enjoy life. I hope they will not be fuddy duddies who spend hours at the office (no disrespect to the hard workers!), but that they will cherish relationships more than log books and spreadsheets.

In that vein however, I hope they will inherit their Dad’s amazing ability to follow and stick to a budget. If there is one thing I think we need to teach and instil in our children from a young age, it’s how to manage money. I hope that they will learn the value of saving and understand that nothing worth having, comes easy. I hope they do not follow my bad example of being a complete loser at keeping a budget. I hope they listen to their Dad when he says that having an account at every second shop is BAD and if you can’t afford to buy it cash, then you have to save and wait until you can. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way and I hope my kids will be wiser when it comes to money.

More than anything, I hope my kids learn the love of the Lord through us. My prayer is that they will be God fearing, that they will come to know Jesus in a deep and personal way. This means we have to guide and direct them by example, which isn’t always easy for us fallible humans! I hope they are influenced by the good in the world, that they don’t become jaded by the way the world is turning. Above all, I want them to be people of integrity, who are honest and reliable, with good morals and values.

We all want the best for our children, and to a certain degree, we as parents are partly responsible for the type of adults they will become. So as far as possible, I want to grow good babies and do my bit in growing good adults.

Absence from her children, makes a mother’s heart grow fonder.

On Saturday I spent almost six hours away from my husband and children. It was bliss. Six hours are nothing, because as a working mom, I do spend more than eight hours apart from my family on a normal working day. However, our weekends are seldom spent apart from each other. Firstly because neither my husband or I have many friends outside of our “circle” so if the guys are doing something together, it’s likely that the females from the group are together and the two groups combine at some point or other during the outing. Secondly, and maybe it’s my guilty conscience, I try to schedule as few things as possible on weekends, that don’t include my children, because I feel the weekend is the only real time we have together. So on Saturday, I threw caution to the wind and met up with a girlfriend while my husband spent time with the kids.

This was probably the best thing I have done for myself this year and made me realise the value in making time for myself. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful and awesome and amazing (and all the other feel-good words you can think of) to spend time with your partner and children, but there are times when we, as moms, need to call a timeout. As a mom of two babies, to spend time in adult conversation, without the disturbance of feeding, scolding or changing a baby, is like a treat. And it’s just not the same thing as spending time with a girlfriend AND tagging the kids along. It was so good to be present in a conversation without my mind wondering off to other necessary thoughts like “I wonder why the kids are so quiet up there?” or “I hope she’ll give me a chance to discuss MY problems before I have to conjure up another snack for these kids” or “I have got to leave now, even though I don’t want to, but if I don’t get Hannah down for her nap, I’m going to pay for it later.” I was able to submerse myself in the moment, to focus fully on my surroundings and on my date and to enjoy and savour every bite of my meal. It was heaven.

Of course, my MG (Mother’s Guilt) levels had soared through the roof on my drive home. You know how we can cross examine ourselves, wondering if our children would suffer a mental breakdown because we had missed one Saturday afternoon together. My bravado had all but disappeared, and with each red light and poor lady with the baby on her back begging for money, I started to feel worse and worse.

And then I got home… I saw what fun they were having with their Dad – probably because Dad doesn’t care that they fill up the tea pot with REAL water and make cups of “tea” for him to drink with Hannah’s tea set , and if they spill it’s ok because it’s only water. Whereas Mom would be throwing a hissy for firstly using real water, (Barney teaches you to use your imagination doesn’t he?) and secondly for spilling it all over the floor, because who was going to clean up that mess? They had been to the park and had a ball, and even though I had to swallow hard when I learned that they had not applied sun block and that they couldn’t find their sun hats, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I hadn’t been missed at all – weird I know. They had had KFC for lunch, even though I had instructed Dad that there were leftovers for lunch. Healthy leftovers. But it was ok, because treats like greasy food once in a while have yet to kill a kid, right? For myself, the short time apart had refreshed me and made me better at what I needed to do. I wanted to play too, I wanted “tea” and I wanted to make up for the lost time. This was a welcome change for the kids and for me, compared to the dragon who usually surfaces after five or so uninterrupted hours with children under the age of three.

I think time apart from our kids is healthy, if you aren’t doing it already, you need to schedule time NOW! It doesn’t need to be six hours (although push for whatever your partner or babysitter will accept!) but whether it’s an hour in a coffee shop sipping a Latte really slowly, or chatting with a girlfriend on the phone uninterrupted by little voices in the background, or taking a long walk without having to push a pram, I do believe that moms, more than anyone else, deserve this time apart from their fledglings. It makes our time together with our baby chicks that more special, because it’s true… absence from her children, does make a mother’s heart grow fonder.  

Happy alone-time mommies!

My Mother-heart…

What is this love that a mother has for a child? I cannot fathom it; even if I stretch my imagination to its limits or wreck my rational mind to try and make sense of it, I just can’t comprehend the heart of a mother. The word ‘love’ doesn’t even fully justify this feeling we have for our offspring. I love many people deeply, and when I say deeply I mean people who my life would not be the same without – not like chocolate and sushi kind of love (although my life would not be the same without these things, but it wouldn’t break my heart). People like my husband, my parents, my siblings… I love them deeply and fully. But I can’t say that I love them unconditionally? If my husband annoys me, or does something that particularly upsets me, I know I love him less – for that time, than I do when we are on good terms. But with my children, even though I love them less at times, in that very same instant of not loving them a lot, I would still lay down my life for them without even thinking about it. I heard something interesting this week about David Livingstone who’s heart is buried under a Mpundu tree in Africa, while the rest of his remains are buried in Westminster Abbey – because although he was Scottish, his heart was always in Africa. And this really got me thinking about my heart. 

My husband complains that I am all consumed with my children, that I don’t have a life outside of them and that it is not normal for a person to cease to exist outside of her children and their lives. And perhaps I do, but that’s because they ARE my life! There will come a time when they will grow and won’t need me as much, they will lead their own lives and the apron strings will stretch longer, already I notice in small ways that they are no longer as needy, but at this stage in our lives, I am not ashamed to say I live for my children – for their well being and for their happiness. So back to my heart… there must be something that happens to the heart of a woman when she becomes a mother. There is no way that you cannot be changed after becoming a mom. Let’s think about this rationally… how could you possibly still feel endeared towards a little baby who brings you very little physical joy in the first few years of its life? Let’s face it, being kept awake at night, dealing with long stretches of crying, being vomited and defecated on, being physically and emotionally drained, having no time to yourself EVER, sacrificing your life for the life of this small needy bundle – how is that rewarding, how is that something a rational person would sign up for? How do we still want another one, after experiencing the complete turmoil that one creates? There is no doubt that a mother’s heart morphs into something quite amazing when her baby is born! It is able to withhold and withstand the most testing of situations, it is able to love, unconditionally, even when that love is not always returned, it is able to sacrifice its own happiness for the sake of a baby.

Liam and Hannah are my heart. I am amazed that my heart hasn’t yet leapt out of my chest because there is no more room for it to grow within my ribcage. I would never have believed that I could love two little bodies like I do these two. I can be so angry with them for doing the insanely silly things that toddlers do, and in the same breath I can be moved to tears from a simple look that says they are sorry. There are days when I wish they hadn’t been born (yes you read that right) and there are nights when I go into their rooms at least five times just to make sure they are alive and breathing and really mine. Sometimes I want to run away from all the noise and the crying and the whining, and I can’t wait for the work week to start on a Sunday night, but I can’t wait to get home at the end of every day for kisses, hugs and laughing foolishly at gaseous bodily emissions. My heart swells when I see them hugging each other when no one is watching, or when they kiss each other’s booboos better or wipe away each other’s tears. They make me so mad that I sometimes smack their bottoms harder than they deserve or I am way too harsh – INTENTIONALLY. But my mother-heart immediately starts pumping love-blood that makes me want to cry and tell them how sorry I am. It’s that mother-heart that allows me to instantly accept an apology for being kicked in the shins, or embarrassed in a shopping mall. It’s my mother-heart that lets them have jelly babies before breakfast and slurp the last sip of coffee – just because I want to see them giggle. I can’t believe that I, with all my faults and idiosyncrasies, with all my hang ups and quirky dislikes, can love these two beauties without a question. That can only be my mother-heart, surely? 

I don’t think you lose your mother-heart, even if you lose a child, or they grow away. You will always and forever love your babies, reciprocated or not, because a mother’s love stretches on for all eternity, neither time nor space can confine or obstruct it. I want the “big” Liam and Hannah to know, as they read this, that I love them so very much, that my world revolves around them and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That my complete adoration for the two of you was born out of my mother-heart that will continue to love and cherish you, wherever you go and whatever you do.


Please sir, can I have some more?

Am I the only mom who feels like they work in a school cafeteria, churning out the same boring ‘ol meals, day in and day out? I guess the sad looks on my children’s faces when I say that it’s spaghetti bolognaise AGAIN, should have alerted me to the fact that they find my culinary skills slightly lacking. But the real knife in my back was when I found them feeding their food to the dog next door last week. I’m hoping that it was more the fun of feeding a dog (who LOVED my bolognaise let me tell you), than the excitement of getting rid of my food, that had them yelping in excitement. Regardless of this sad and shameful incident, I have decided that our menu does need some sprucing up. 

I dislike the word menu, and I dislike having one, I prefer those days when I’d spontaneously decide on the day, what we’d be having for dinner, depending on what the hubby and I were WISHING for. Fast forward to two kids later – it just makes life easier when I plan our meals at least a day in advance so that I don’t waste time ooh-ing and aah-ing over what to cook and just get stuck into the pots as soon as I get home from work, so that I can feed my hungry family as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible. Gone are the days of eating what you were “wishing” for, these days it’s more a case of eating whatever is quick to prepare with at least one nutritious ingredient… even if it is the one real tomato in the bolognaise sauce. Our meals seem to be very basic and boring: we have lots of pastas, we love chicken so we incorporate that into a lot of our meals, we have a curry at least once a week and we have a fry day.. on FRIDAY.. get it? 🙂  On the weekends, we usually eat out and if I am feeling particularly generous, I will make a full on Sunday lunch every now and again. I must also mention that I am slightly spoilt in that Zoleka will start my cooking for me, and I really just need to add the finishing touches, depending on what we are eating. Like she’ll braise the onions and meat if we’re having stew so that all I need to do is add some frozen veg and create a nice gravy. Or she’ll chop all my ingredients so that I can behave like a tv chef and just add everything into the pot. Or she’ll roast the chicken and potatoes and make a salad – it does make things easier. But still,  I am so bored of chicken stew, bolognaise, roast chicken, steamed vegetables and the like, I want to create something more exciting for my family to enjoy. I am blessed in that they aren’t fussy eaters and will gratefully accept whatever I dish up for them, but I do think my kids have had enough bolognaise to put them off it for life.

So I have decided to add some flavour to our kitchen by making exotic dishes to wow the socks off my family. Ok there will be no wowing off of socks, but I would like to expose my kids to different tastes and textures, because I wouldn’t want them to think that food means chicken. Chicken nuggets in particular. There is so much more to life than CHICKEN. I don’t have the time or the patience (or the finesse) to make fancy little characters and Hello Kitty faces with bits of carrots for whiskers and olives for eyes and spaghetti for hair; I have no intention of being the next Big Cook, they can watch that stuff on Cbeebies, what I mean is making a variety of dishes with a variety of different ingredients. Like lasagne instead of mac and cheese, a chicken pie with thick crusty puffy pastry (served with a side salad to counteract the calories!) instead of grilled chicken strips, seafood stir fry instead of boxed fish, Spanish omelette instead of a fried egg. Do you know where I’m going with this? Taking the same boring meals we are used to, and jazzing them up somewhat. 

Let me just say, that unless I am in the mood, I do not particularly enjoy cooking, I see it more as a means to an end. But I do love to eat – which is the end. So I am hoping that my desire to eat yummy things will inspire me to go forth with this plan to up my ratings on the kitchen front. Other than when Liam goes through a growth spurt where he demolishes everything we put in front of him, they NEVER EVER say they want some more. No one asks for seconds, surely that is an insult to the cook? I don’t want to overfeed my family, and I most certainly do not want them to think that eating until you feel the need to pop your top button is cool, because it isnt, but I just want someone to say to me, “Please sir (mam), can I have some more!” Surely that is the greatest compliment a chef can receive? So from tomorrow (because tonight we are having chicken curry, sigh) I will be putting my plan into action, I will be delighting my family with my culinary genius, I will be creating masterpieces in my kitchen, I.WILL.BE.STUFFING.BELLIES.WITH.GOOD.FOOD.

Wakey Wakey

We have gone from one extreme to the other in our household. Liam, non-sleeper numero uno, has gone from not sleeping for the better part of his life, to sleeping like a teenager. I honestly did not think that I’d see the day when I’d have to rip the curtains open… and then shut them again… and then open them again REALLY enthusiastically to stir him out of his slumber, all the while singing “Good morning, good morning, good morning to the whole wide world” in my best Barney voice. I wouldn’t mind this ritual – if it worked. But it doesn’t. Here’s how it usually goes…. 

I bounce into his room, singing Barney wakey wakey songs – nothing, I do my curtain pulling trick – nothing, I take his clothes out of the wardrobe very noisily (still singing) – nothing. I do incy wincy spider on his back, I tickle his toes, this usually elicits a few unhappy groans but his eyes remain closed and his thumb remains in his mouth. My patience starts to wane at this point because I hear the hubby yelling from downstairs that we are going to be late if I sing one more stupid Barney song instead of just yanking the kid awake. This from a man who isn’t a morning person either, can you tell? I wouldn’t like to be yanked out of my sleep, so I do try and make the transition from sleeping to waking as pleasant as possible for Liam, but he really makes it difficult. So with hubby on my back, I pump up the jam and start undressing Liam while he is still asleep. His automatic response is to curl up into the foetal position, so I have to stretch him out and THAT is when the real drama actually unfolds. Out come the waterworks, along with some kicking and screaming for my theatrical pleasure. Then HE pumps up the jam and goes into a full blown tantrum, and quite honestly, the last thing a person wants first thing in the morning, is to deal with a tantrum. So I get worked up and annoyed, I threaten him with all sorts of things, I try and dress him while belting out threats and dodging flailing arms and kicking legs. All this commotion wakes Hannah, who IS a morning person generally, but her chirpiness soon turns to irritation because Liam is just being so darn noisy and irritating that we are all thrown into an unpleasant mood. I manage to get his bottoms on, but the top is a bit more difficult because he won’t sit up and he does that floppy break-dance-man move AND he won’t take his thumb out of his mouth (yes, my wonder boy can scream and throw a tantrum with his thumb in his mouth – beat that!) and well I have to basically straddle him to make it work. Once he is dressed, he sort of settles down because now he is fully awake – awake but still grumpy. He drags himself to the bathroom where I first have to let him brush his own teeth which is time consuming but necessary unless I want another tantrum. He has one of those toothbrushes that light up and sing for the duration of the time you are supposed to brush your teeth, I think it’s two minutes. I thought this was quite nifty and I spent a lot of time explaining to Liam that we needed to brush for that long to make sure that our teeth were sparkly clean and that we got rid of all the germs so that our teeth wouldn’t fall out. Worked like a charm. But of course the things you tell your children always come back to bite you in the gum… He insists that I let him brush for the WHOLE song time, just like I told him too, even though I go over his brushing myself. It’s hard to go back on my word and tell him that we are late and that his teeth won’t rot if we brush for less than two minutes for just one darn day! THE.LONGEST.TWO.MINUTES.OF.MY.LIFE. Oh, and the toothbrush doesn’t have a battery, I have checked. 

So I touch up his teeth, we wash face and hands, brush hair and apply sun block. And it’s at this point that I finally see my real son – the happy go lucky talkative Liam – emerge from under that sleepy veil. By the time the real Liam emerges, I am tired and fed up, my makeup is already melting due to the fine sweat I have worked up while trying to wake my son up and I feel like how Liam probably felt when he was woken from his slumber. 

This whole saga is partly our fault. On the weekends, Liam sleeps until about 7h30am and wakes up smiling and happy. During the week, because we live so far from school and where we work, he has to wake up at 5h45am. I do feel bad for him and we are in the process of finding a home closer to work and school, but for now this is our lot. Unfortunately there are many people who have to wake up early and get going in the mornings because we are not all fortunate to live a stone’s throw away from where we need to be everyday, other people have to use public transport and this means they too have to be up at sparrow’s fart. That’s life. But you can’t exactly explain that to a toddler, so almost every morning (because there are days when he surprises us and plays his part) our day starts like this. Most people who see me first thing in the morning at work, look at me sadly and ask if I had a bad night with the babies… they look taken aback when I explain that every morning my toddler morphs into a teenager who loves his sleep. And I’m too tired to bother explaining further than that.

You gotta love those old wives… when they said you should never wake a sleeping baby, they were not telling tales.

So about those holidays…

Our December holiday was fantastic! Here are the highlights (and some lowlights) of our time away. It was a long holiday, so it’s going to be a long read! 

The Bikes

After all my careful planning, and a most relaxing Christmas Eve at home, Christmas morning was a complete disaster.  The kids came running down the stairs to see what Father Christmas had delivered, Liam dashed straight over to Hannah’s plastic red bike (you know those simple noisy bikes that are really just good for making a racket?) and completely ignored his fabulous big boy Barney bike with the shiny training wheels. When I forced turned his head over to the left, and held my hands on the sides of his head to focus his vision on the Barney bike (kinda like how horses use blinders to focus), he wriggled out of my grip and jumped onto the red bike. Hannah was still dumbstruck by the Christmas tree with its blinking lights, as she had been for most of the festive season, and didn’t even notice the gifts under it. Special child. So it went pear shaped when we forced Liam off Hannah’s new bike and he threw a total wobbly, giving his Barney bike a good kick in disgust. He wanted nothing to do with his other presents, so Hannah opened them all. Ungrateful little person. In all the commotion my roast in the oven almost burned to a cinder, we were late for church, and Christmas morning was basically massacred. 

Things did improve, we spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my in laws, Boxing day was spent with my brother and his family and on the 27th December, we embarked on our trip down to the coast. We decided to leave at 4am, in the hope that the kids would sleep for most of the journey, but of course they were way too excited about their pending holiday to sleep. So Liam talked us into a coma for about 5 hours of the 6 hour trip. We arrived in Durban and immediately took the kids down to the beach, where they swam, rode their bikes (yes, Liam was still riding the red bike)and enjoyed the open spaces and fresh air. We spent a lot of our time down at the beach with my two water babies, and even with SPF 50+ their skin took on a golden tinge. We spent time with my sister and her family on the farm – Harding, which is always good for the mind, body and soul. One morning Liam woke up complaining that his stomach was aching, I didn’t think much of it until his porridge landed up back in his bowl, and on the table and the floor. He proceeded to vomit up everything he ate for the rest of that day. It’s difficult to say no to a toddler asking for food, he couldn’t understand that it was the food that was causing him to vomit, all he knew was that he felt hungry after I had starved him all day. So there was a lot of vomit, and linen washing, couch cleaning, and the two of us showering at 10pm after he let rip over himself and me. After he had recovered from that 24 hour bug, we spent the next 24 hours cleaning up after Hannah who also got the vomits. Hers started at about 3am, on the bed on which we were sleeping. There was little I could do at that hour, I bundled her clothes and the linen into a ball and tried to ignore it and the stench. With nothing else to do, we sat up watching Toddlers and Tiaras at that ungodly hour, not sure if Hannah’s vomiting was from the bug, or from watching such garbage on TV. After that small bout of illnesses, we were good to go again, except for a minor incident of green runny poo on the kitchen floor (Liam), and the occasional wet fart that escaped Hannah’s Huggies and dribbled down her legs. All brought on from all the junk food they were eating, I suspect.
Say Cheese!
Mona Lisa Posing

But the pièce de résistance of the whole holiday would have to have been the plane ride home. The Hubby had left a few days earlier because someone does need to pay the bills, so he had to get back to work. I had no qualms about flying with both kids, I’ve sat in a car ALL the way to Cape Town with them, how hard could a one hour flight be? We had flown before so I knew they could handle the flight, but I did have the hubby with me on those occasions. So just before we left the house, Hannah made a dribbly poo right through her pants. The bags were packed and although I did have a set of clothing in her nappy bag, I was keeping those for the actual flight, in case there was an in-flight emergency! I washed the stinky patch, I threw it in the tumble drier, willing it to dry in the 5 seconds we had left before we needed to go. That didn’t work, so we put the pants on the car dashboard hoping that the Durban sun would fry it dry. That didn’t work either. So well, Hannah went pant-less. There we were, dressed to the nines…and Hannah with no pants on. Whatever possessed me to pack all our toiletries into one massive UNLOCKABLE bag, I will never know. I tried to stuff as much of it as I could into the big suitcase, but I still had a heavy bag full of toiletries as hand luggage, which I had to lug around, along with the nappy bag, one toddler on my hip and the other toddler wanting to hold my hand… he NEVER wants to hold my hand, all of a sudden when I actually need my hand for other things, he wants to hold it. Of course we were boarding from the gate which was as far from check in, as east is from west. We snail paced our way over to the boarding gate, when Liam tugged at my hand and pointed to his crotch, indicating that he needed to go. All I thought was, please Lord make it be a wee and not a poo which would require me to drop what I was holding so I could wipe. It was a pee, so off we traipsed AGAIN, back to the toilets. We eventually found our way back to the queue, still fairly early because I made sure we had extra time for all the possible delays one could encounter with two children. After hanging around for what felt like forever, the kids rolling on the carpet, I noticed that there was a vital part missing at the end of the walk through tunnel… the aeroplane. I checked the boards, no mention of a delay, in fact it said we were boarding. We.stood.there.for.45.minutes. The kids getting more and more restless. Again I prayed, please Lord don’t let them start screaming simultaneously from boredom! PLEASE! Liam’s excitement of going on the aeroplane and sitting by the window and seeing the clouds, fast turned to irritation at having to wait so long. Hannah’s nap time was approaching and we all know how babies go into meltdown mode when they are tired. I could feel the sweat gathering under my newly cut fringe, although my hair going home was the last of my worries… I WANTED TO GO HOME! I had to bribe Liam with a R50 note, which I said he could use to buy himself something from the nice lady on the aeroplane. That shut him up for a while. We eventually boarded an hour later, both kids were so exhausted that they were asleep before we left the ground. I took the R50 out of Liam’s hand and bought myself a chocolate and a packet of chips, because I deserved it. The last bit of drama which I won’t go into detail about involved the travelator (you know that flat escalator thing that you find in most airports) and Liam going head to head. I have never been more excited to see my husband in my life, and the only thing he could say was “where’s Hannah’s pants.” 

Bored stiff at the airport
No Pants Girl

This account is by no means, a true reflection of our whole holiday. There were precious moments with the kids… Hannah’s vocabulary which I have been worried about increased dramatically, she spewed out about ten new words a day. She’s at the stage where you say “say X” and she says it, so cute! Liam’s vocabulary… well that’s another story altogether. I spent quality time with those closest to me, I stayed in my pyjama’s all day, I relaxed in the sun, I drank a lot of tea, and I spent a fair amount of time in Dischem because I desperately needed to be poked as my contraceptive injection was 5 days overdue and there was no way I wanted ANY SORT OF SURPRISE THAT NEEDED TO BE BURPED in 2012. Turns out people on the coast like to have cholesterol, diabetes and all those other free tests Discovery offers you, in the week between Christmas and New Year, so I had to chemist-hop a bit. 

Our holiday was just long enough…any longer and my kids would have been mistaken for Aborigines and I would have turned into a sloth. Onward and upward towards the Easter holidays, I say!