We don’t really have a great track record when it comes to family photos but it looks like we finally go it right.

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This is one of a few, in fact I think it is the only photo we have of our family before the wedding. Isn’t it great? I am particularly fond of the family photo bombing us in the background. Cameron looks like he is about to fall asleep and David appears to be in some discomfort.

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Then we had the wedding and I was so sure we would get some great ones. It didn’t really work out as planned. Jack, we have discovered, is very adverse to having his photo taken and has to be forcefully contained which doesn’t really make for happy family photos. Also the wind was blowing and we were all looking at the 500 people behind Jeanette. I have to say that this was no reflection on Jeanette – I was very surprised she managed to capture what she did as well as she did. I have said it many times, a photographers job is so much more than taking a photo.

Side note: DO NOT stand behind or next to a photographer trying to take photos. It distracts the people she is trying to capture more than it helps. Don’t do it!

But now that our family is complete I thought it about time to book a proper photo shoot where we could get all of us in one shot, hopefully all looking at the camera.

The day of the photo shoot was not without it’s excitement. I had committed to a BabySense seminar which meant David had to fly solo with the kids and take Cameron to soccer and meet me, with the 4 kids clean and dressed at Delta Park. Obviously Emma had to full her nappy as they were about to leave, Kiara had a small melt down about her hair and I kept getting lipstick on my teeth.

The actual shoot didn’t run as smoothly as I wanted, Jack just wasn’t interested at all in doing anything we wanted to and by the end of it everyone had sand marks on their white shirts. BUT somehow photographers manage to create magic without us even realising it.

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Look at that! Everyone is looking at the camera, everyone is smiling, everyone is happy.

Catherine managed to capture us, as a family.

I did learn a few things though for our next shoot, which I hope will be next year.

Do not wear white if you have toddlers/babies. It may look nice but it is not practical.

Trust the photographer. Despite what I said earlier, we all kept trying to get Jack to look at the camera, to make Emma smile etc. When we left Cath to walk with Jack he did do what she needed him to do.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations. I knew it was going to be unrealistic to expect perfect family portraits with well dressed children and I was ok with that. All I wanted was everyone looking in the same direction and at least 3/6 of us smiling.

Confirm the outfits a week before. Do not assume your children have a pair of jeans, especially not your child with sensory issues.

How often do you do family photos? Do you have a favourite photographer or don’t you mind?

If you want an amazing wedding photographer – Jeanette is your lady. For newborns go to Natasha and for families and kids birthday parties, then Cath is your lady!

I don’t want my kids to be assholes.

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I saw this shared on Facebook by David’s aunt. It was rather fitting because I have a lot of respect for how she has raised her 3 kids (and David) and none of them are assholes.She had 3 kids in 3 years, I only really realised this this year when the oldest turned 21 and the youngest 18.

Pause for a moment and imagine that – a 3 year old, a newborn and a toddler in the middle (and then David joined the mix at some point).

That deserves respect people! You would almost have forgiven her if one of them were an asshole but they aren’t. In fact two of them got a whole bunch of distinctions for their matric (no 3 is only now in Matric).

But I digress.

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One of the things I am rather adamant about is that I don’t want to raise my kids to be assholes. I don’t want them to be that guy at the party that no one wants to talk to because all he does is talk about himself or his money or how he lives at home with his mother and her 20 cats. I don’t want my daughter to be so wrapped up in her beauty that people don’t like her. I don’t want any of them to be that one person that people refer to as the “douchbag at the party”.

I don’t particularly want them to be popular or the life of the party. I do want them to be well rounded, grounded people who treat other people with respect and kindness. A lot of that is predetermined and depends on their personality but more of it, I think, comes from what we, as their parents teach them and expose them too.

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I have had people say to me “shame man the poor child” when I have punished them or reprimanded them or said no to them. I am totally ok with that.

My children speak to people with respect, they are polite, they say please and thank you. We don’t buy them everything they ask for. They can’t always go everywhere they want. Sometimes they have to be ok with the Pep shoes. They have to help out. They have have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

It is by no means easy. It is a constant, daily effort that both David and I have to make to make sure we call them on their negative behaviour, remind them to be mindful of others. It is much easier for me to pack the dishwasher when Kiara is throwing a tantrum about doing it but I don’t want her to be an ungrateful brat who can’t do anything for herself, so she can throw the tantrum but as soon as she is done she must pack the dishwasher. It is much easier to buy Jack the sweet he wants (but I know won’t eat) that it is to deal with the tantrum.

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Kiara’s class is currently dealing with an issue at school, it involves a bully and collectively the class seem to be standing up to him which is great BUT there is a fine line between “teaching him a less” and becoming bullies themselves and we are having daily chats about this. She can set her personal boundaries with him but she cannot be mean or call him names or get involved in a mob mentality. It is not easy but it is a life lesson I feel she has to learn and learn in properly.

I see so many children today who have total disregard for their parents, teachers and generally anyone they come across. It makes me angry, not with them, but with their parents. Children aren’t born assholes, their parents create them and yes I do judge them a little because they are creating a generation of children who feel entitled to everything, have no regard for the consequences of their actions and are just generally not nice to be around.

Next time you see a parent being “too hard” on their child, give them a pat on the back and say well done because they aren’t raising an asshole and the world needs less assholes!

 

 

Its #jozimeetup time again

After taking into consideration all the suggestions and comments from the last meet up we have made a few changes to this one and it is going to be even better!

We have two amazing speakers lined up to make it a really great morning of networking!

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Unplanned one on one time with the toddler is the best kind of time and a reminder why this time is so important.

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The last few months have been challenging with Jack. We have (and still are) battled OCD and we are knee high in tantrums. It feels like all I do is count to 3 every time we have to get dressed, eat, get in the car, get out of the car, bath, change clothes. If he is one of his moods the whole house is held to ransom by his screams, whines and demands.

As you know Cameron is now swimming, currently only 3 times a week until soccer ends in two weeks. It has been a month of driving up and down twice a day to gym and it’s a pain so I am trying to figure out ways to make it easier for all of us. So this week I tried getting dinner cooked and taking the two younger ones to gym to swim with them while Cameron swims.

Kiara was away on camp which meant I would be alone in the pool with both babies and I decided to rather leave Emma until Kiara was back. I am now so glad that I did that because it meant Jack and I have had two afternoons of uninterrupted one on one time doing something he loves. We swam for 45 minutes both days and then we had juice and ice cream afterwards.

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We forget how important this alone time is for our children. It is not always easy to manage, especially with more than one child but it is something that is so good for both them and us.

It strengthens the bond. I think that the last few days have actually been more beneficial for me than for Jack because it has reminded me that despite the tantrums and constant burping and demands of cupcakes daily, he is a very sweet, gentle little boy who does bring so much to our family.

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It has definitely changed his behaviour for the better. The last few days he has been so much calmer.There have been no tantrums in the car at school, little shouting and even less negative behaviour.

We have created memories. Hopefully he will remember us chasing each other in the pool and eating ice cream and running like a monkey through the ladies change room. If he doesn’t I have a few (blurry)  photos to remind him.

We caught up.He chatted non stop about anything and everything – school, his friends, things we were doing. It was nice just listening to him.

I am not sure we will manage this every week but when we can I am going to grab it with two hands.

How do you manage one on one time?

 

 

You Will Never Catch Me…..

It appears that I am at my most creative when I am busy and under pressure. I managed to do a lot on my to do list today and have time to blog but I can not think of anything to write but I am pretty sure tomorrow when I don’t have time to blog and a million places to be I will have topics coming out my ears.

So I decided to join the awesome Cindy and share the things you won’t catch me doing, ever.

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You will never catch me……

Parking next to a pillar, wall, pole etc. The bus is just too big, so now I either park far away if there aren’t any open parkings or find a middle on.

With a comprehensive list when I go shopping, despite my best intentions.

Getting a tattoo – I don’t mind if you have them but I personally don’t like them.

Leaving Typo empty handed. Even if I only have R10 left I WILL find something to buy which is why I avoid it for the most part.

Watching Sci-Fi movies. I CAN NOT handle them.

Giving up wine.

Drinking rooibos tea. I raised all my kids on it but I can not handle it.

Saying no to sushi.

Without socks in winter.

Changing my hair colour.

Following a Hollywood celebrity on twitter. (I don’t see the point)

Going to bed without brushing my teeth.

Wearing mismatched socks – I cannot. Even if they are both black but one is longer than the other – I can’t. I have tried. It makes me so anxious.

With an organised desk. I do try but it never lasts.

Without painted toenails. I try get a pedi at least once every 6 weeks. I have a thing about ugly feet.

Calling David when I get stressed.

Wearing silk anything – I can not stand the feel of it.

In a bank. I loathe banks. I do everything to avoid them even if it is to my detriment.(Mature I know)

With a night cream in my cupboard. Or a day cream for that matter.

Showering if I don’t have to.

Going back to work in a corporate environment.

Watching videos on Facebook about accidents, abuse etc. In fact I have started de-friending people who share that crap.

Having any more kids!

What won’t we catch you doing?

4 easy steps on how to survive a shopping trip with four kids in

I tried to find a blog post I made about my first solo shopping trip with Jack and Emma when Emma was still a newborn but I don’t think I wrote one – it was THAT traumatic and we didn’t even make it into the shop. I have actively avoided taking the two of them alone anywhere since then – it was THAT traumatic!

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Last week I organised a wine coffee date with some friends in the afternoon which meant I would have ALL FOUR kids with me, on my own. I was so desperate for the adult company and wine coffee that I blocked out the previous trauma and just did it! Usually when I need the toddler to comply I make sure Cameron is close by but he had media duty and then soccer so was only with us long enough to eat his pizza and then had to leave again. So I really was flying solo.

Overall the trip was a success, no one berated me for the toddler break dancing outside Typo (I think if I had left him a few minutes longer the crowd would have thrown coins at him). The lady in the lift on the way to our car was very patient while Emma screamed because she was over tired. The staff at Big Blue refrained from kicking us out even though Jack wound up the robot toy in the box before I could get to him (toddlers can move surprisingly fast).

I did learn a few things that I think helped make it successful.

  • Feed them! I made sure both Kiara and Jack had something to eat. Jack in particular gets very miserable if he is hungry. Kiara gets very whiny and dramatic. If she doesn’t have access to food (chips/chocolate or 2 minute noodles if possible) every hour then she is on deaths doorstep, I have been accused of starving her before.
  • Have a plan. You can’t window shop with three kids in tow and you definitely can’t browse the sale rack at Woolworths. You need a very set plan of where you want to go and what you want to get.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.This is actually fast becoming my mantra. Jack didn’t have shoes on, the fight to get them on, honestly was not worth it. Judge me – it’s ok :) My aim was to get what we needed to get and get out of there as soon as possible, if it meant letting Jack dance for while or allow Kiara to browse a little longer at Typo while she looked for a gift – I was going to do that. Because in the bigger picture does it matter?
  • Drink wine coffee with friends first. Ok this one isn’t always possible because you can’t always meet friends before you go shopping but it helped for this trip because I felt recharged, I had done a little something for me which I think helped to make me less tense for the whole trip.

Despite me vowing I would never take Jack to the shops again, I did and we survived. The security guard and Dischem did watch us as we approached, I suspect had we looked like we wanted to enter he may have actually closed the doors. We may even try it again this week.

Those of you with more than one kid – do you go shopping with them on your own?

PS – see how blurred this picture is? The camera on my phone has stopped focusing. I WANT TO CRY!

 

 

“If its functional, don’t change it” and other advice from the sleep professionals.

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“Remember “this too shall pass” and that most children, even the worst initial sleepers, sleep very well by the age of 5 or 6″ comforting words from paediatrician Dr Claudia Gray at the Baby Sense Seminar on Saturday.

So I only have between 4.5 and 5.5 years left then?

This may sound a little too old but when did your child sleep through? (Kiara was 5 and Jack still wakes up more nights than not)

I was invited to attend this seminar for the first time last year I think but this was the first one I could actually attend and I am really glad that I made the time. It may seem a little odd for a mom of four to want to attend a baby seminar but I was actually very interested in the sleep part because as you know Emma doesn’t like to sleep, although we are back in the “shes sleeping ok” stage but it could change back to the “she wakes up every hour” stage at any point.

The seminar is the whole day long but you can attend either the morning or the afternoon spots on their own, depending on what you want to know. I attended the morning session where the following topics were discussed,

Stimulating your baby and toddler – Meg Faure

You Baby’s Health - Dr Claudia Gray

Mums know Best – Karen Hansen

Sleep Solutions – Sr Ann Richardson

I am not really going to go into each one in detail but highlight rather what stood out for me.

Meg Faure made a statement “Yet we cannot be responsible for our child’s happiness in every decision in life, but we can engage positivity with our infants to hard wire them for joy.”

My mom says this often too, as parents we are not responsible for our children’s happiness. We often feel like we are though and when our children aren’t happy we want to try and fix it and do what we can to make them happy but this is very seldom the right thing to do. We rather need to teach our children how to create their own happiness, find their own joy and not place their happiness on another person.

While a lot of what was discussed around sleeping we already know and have tried during the question and answer session Sr Ann Richardson said to one of the moms ‘If it is functional, don’t change it.” I think that is where we are with Emma to be honest. At the moment we are getting “enough”* sleep, we know she isn’t sick so there really isn’t much more we can do right now. This attitude was really carried throughout all the talks – if it works for you, then it is right. There were a lot of new moms and pregnant ladies in the audience and I think for them to hear this kind of attitude is refreshing because we all know how hard those first few months can be and if you are going into it with that attitude, you are probably going to have an easier time.

I can honestly recommend it to first time moms, there is a wealth of information shared by experts in their field who have a very open minded approach to parenting. All the ladies who spoke have children and share honestly, their failures and successes as parents.

While overall the morning was great, there was no tea/coffee on arrival which I thought a little odd because it started at 8h30 so I think we all would have appreciated  a cup of coffee while we waited. I am not sure where the hiccup came but we started late and because of the afternoon sessions there was no room for this so the speakers had to rush through their talks which I found a little disappointing but there was a little work book in the goodie bags that had all the information in.

There is a seminar in Cape Town this weekend that you can still book for.

Have you ever been to a baby seminar before?

*enough is relative – we are getting just enough sleep to prevent David and I from clubbing baby seals but not enough to tick the “I wake refreshed” block on our vitality tests!

PS – How cute is Emma in this photo??

First visit to the naughty corner at school. Not a milestone you want to reach.

“Teacher sent me to the naughty corner but then I could go back to the mat” said Jack the other day without taking a breath.

“WHY did she send you to the naughty corner Jack?” I asked.

Silence.

“Jack were you not listening?” I prodded

Silence.

A while later

“I was putting my feet on the wall but she said I could go back to the mat” he offered.

I left it for a while because I didn’t want to make too much of a big deal about it and the IMG_3292more he mentioned it the more excited he seemed to be that he had been sent to the naughty corner. Almost like he had received a badge of honor!

Turns out he was walking up the wall with his feet while standing on his hands. After the third time she had asked him to stop, the teacher sent him to the naughty corner. Apparently he was extremely unimpressed and cried and cried and took forever to actually make it to the corner.

Up until this naughty corner incidence I have managed to get away with counting. There are times he just doesn’t comply but for the most part when I count he does what he needs to. But he really has been pushing every boundary there is and it feels like we are constantly at war.

Last night during a tantrum I said “If you don’t stop what you are doing and listen you are going to the naughty corner.” (I can’t actually remember what I wanted him to do – I think it was a tantrum about a DVD) He stopped screaming and looked at me with big eyes. Clearly the naughty corner is a bigger deal than counting to 3. To be honest we don’t have a naughty corner and I was trying frantically to figure out where I would actually send him if he didn’t stop.

What is an appropriate naughty corner? Really I am asking this seriously? I was thinking the area near our stairs? Its separate from the lounge and there is nothing fun there. (Once I sent Kiara to the bathroom – she had a great time toilet papering the bathroom so lesson learnt there)

 

Accepting the crazy crazy crazy state of affairs

Every day I drive roughly 60 kilometres*, I do 17 school drop off and collects, I do 10 trips to swimming, 2 trips to dancing, 3 trips to soccer, 4 trips to gym and at least 5 trips to Pick n Pay, Spar, Woolworths and a petrol station. I cook on average 6 dinners a week, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches. I change a minimum of 20 nappies a week, wipe bums at least 7 times a week. We do on average 3 loads of washing every second day**. We go through 5 loaves of bread and 30 eggs a week. I pick up toys about 50000 times a day***, pack washing away at least once a day and look for someones lost something constantly.

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It is pretty crazy around these parts and not because we have 4 kids, I think regardless of the number of kids you have, life can get crazy and finding a way to manage your time is always a challenge. Someone always needs information for a project or needs to take a fruit to school or its dress up day or camp or a gala and someone is ALWAYS hungry. ALWAYS!

I updated my calendars yesterday – we have stuff on over the weekends up until the end of November, and this doesn’t include Cameron’s galas, which we get notified about the week before. We have dance exams, Santa Shoebox***, 21st birthdays, dance concerts and holidays in between.

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I have spent a lot of time fighting against it. Trying to structure my days where I have time, time to scrapbook, write, watch TV or sit down and eat my lunch without watching the clock. I had schedules and calendars and I said NO!

But you know what? That actually became more stressful for me than actually juggling it all because I was missing out on things I really wanted to attend, the kids had to sacrifice parties or play dates.

This year is all about accepting. I have accepted that I will make 5 trips to and from the gym at least 4 times a week, our weekends are jam packed, we race from soccer to braais, to workshops to photoshoots. I plan our days pretty carefully, some days work out well but others go all haywire and someone is late for something or dinner is a total disaster or the toys take over and it looks like we have been robbed by Woody and his band of misfits.

It is crazy crazy crazy. It is tiring and sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, like this past one, David asks if we can please have a free weekend because sometimes it does get a little too much. But it is our crazy and despite my moans, we do love it.

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I don’t feel I have the right to say my kids can’t attend a party because I am tired and would prefer not to take them. I don’t feel I can limit them to what sports they can do, especially while they are still so young. It is their time to figure out their space and my time to allow them to do that.

Marcia wrote a similar post a while ago and she told a story about time management being like a bookcase. I think our life mirrors the bookcases we have in our house, they are crammed full of books, all sorts of books, the books literally fall out. I LOVE it. My favourite place is my local second hand book shop. It is a square room with shelves and books, lots and lots and lots of books, there are boxes on the floor with books. I love it!

How crazy is your life? 

* I know 60 km isnt really a lot BUT I am never further than 15 minutes from my house at any one time so it is a lot of short up and downs.

** If Jane had her way she would wash 10 loads a day – she loves to wash ALL THE THINGS!

*** Have you pledged your Santa Shoebox yet? I know the site is battling to handle all the traffic but you MUST keep it on your to do list? 

Does uniformity mean you are conforming? The great uniform debate.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Dr. Seuss

A uniform does not a conformist make…..or does it?

We received a letter from Jacks school asking us to please vote on the implementation of uniforms from Grade RRR (which I think is the 3/4 year olds?) which means, if it is agreed on, that Jack will wear a uniform from next year.

I asked online what everyone thought of the idea and the responses where, as they always are with kid related stuff, divided. At the time I asked the question I was still very much undecided.

The biggest concern from those who said “no” was the issue of conformity from such a young age. Maybe I am a conformist, but I have never really got this argument.

Lets take Kiara for example, she is very much an individual, she is arty, creative and thinks outside the box, often I even wonder if she knows where the box is. The fact that she wears a uniform and has done so for 5 years now hasn’t done a thing to kill that in her. She dances to the beat of her own drum. I saw today that under her white socks she wears her lumo pink polka dot ankle socks. She has managed to maintain to individuality despite having to wear a uniform because no one says “You wear a uniform, you are all the same” to school children. If you can’t maintain your uniqueness in a school uniform then perhaps you aren’t that unique?

One of the cons for me was making school “formal” before it has to be but ultimately the way they are taught and the curriculum isn’t going to change because they all have the same colour shorts.

The uniform is very practical for their age – it is navy shorts and tracksuit pants and a golf shirt.

After discussing it with David we decided to agree to the introduction of a uniform and when I signed the form today I saw that it seems most of the parents are for the introduction.

How do you feel about the introduction of uniforms?