Its all about the mundane here I am afraid!

So my little #mundahappiness challenge has taken off better than I anticipated. My twitter and instagram feed are full of photos and updates (I am behind on blog reading so haven’t checked their yet). Thank you so much to everyone who is joining in! If you haven’t joined us then you can start now.

Julia asked me this morning why there are no posts. There are two reasons. The first is that I have been busy and today our Santa Shoebox Drop Offs started so its crazy crazy. But the second reason is a little disturbing for me. I just haven’t had the inspiration/desire/motivation to blog. This really bugs me because I have never felt this way before.

I think it is maybe due to the fact that it is so crazy busy here from this weekend on. We have 2/3 things on every single Saturday and Sunday. So it means David and I have to do some serious logistical planning.

So life really is about the mundane here. Getting kids to school, dancing, swimming, parties (Cameron has a party a week), exams, galas. The usual mundane stuff that occupies my day.

Be that as it may let me quickly update you on whats keeping me harassed.

  • The #jozimeetup is nearly here and I still have SO much to do. SO MUCH! I have a small panic attack thinking about it. Its going to be super awesome though.
  • Jacks been sick again – it appears to be his tonsils again. It was exactly 2 months ago that he had they last attack.
  • Both kids write exams this term. Cameron has started studying. Kiara is not fussed at all. I haven’t received any dates yet, which is not to say that they haven’t been given dates, just that Kiara hasn’t registered them yet.
  • I have developed some major issues with the muscles in my shoulder. After two painful physio visits and a bio assessment I know have exercises to do that are great but very sore. Posture is SO important people! Stomach in! Chest out!
  • Emma is super cute. It appears she has finally accepted us as her people and is doing really well.
  • I am having lots of friend dates during the week. In fact it has been a really great friend year for me.

Whats new with you? Anything I need to know? 

The wheels on the bus go round and round (and round and round)

This post is part of a new challenge I have started over at Blog Share Connect - please join us. Its going to be fun.

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I moan often about the driving around of my many kids in the afternoon. It is tiring and no really a whole lot of fun especially now that its warmer. It’s not all bad though, far from it. There really are a lot of reasons why it is great to be able to play moms taxi in the afternoon.

  • Jack is always so super happy to see me. Every single day. Last week I was a little bit late to fetch him, the look on his face when I arrived was priceless.
  • I get to stalk watch Cameron interact with his friends before he sees me.
  • I get to find out stuff that needs to be done before they forget. Cameron tells me everything I need to know for the next few days every afternoon when he gets in the car.
  • I get to watch their sports games.
  • I can help out moms who are working by fetching and carrying if and when they need it.
  • I get one-on-one time with the kids. Often I will have one kid in the car en-route to fetch one, or after dropping one off so its a nice way to catch up with them.

It is not always fun but there is lots to be happy about that I get to do it.

Whats making you happy? Share with us!

Standing up for yourself is NEVER wrong even if you get pushed down again.

Articles and posts about bullies are everywhere. Stories of teens committing suicide as a result of bullies are almost a daily occurrence. I have blogged about it. Kiara has been bullied. Sharon has blogged about it. Bullies are everywhere, everyday.

Wikipedia defines bullying as follows;

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets.

 

When our children are being bullied, depending on their age, we encourage them to stand up for themselves. We tell them to not give in, stand firm, fight back. We tell them its not about them but about the bully. We tell them bullying is unacceptable. Sometimes they stand up and it works out, the bully backs down (according to Hollywood this happens every time) but the reality is that there are many times when it doesn’t work out like that.

Bullies, by definition,  tend to choose the soft targets, the people they know they can easily intimidate. It is easy to gain control on someone who can’t or won’t put up a fight so they chose those children, teenagers and adults.

Bullies also ruin lives and destroy confidences.

There are a many reasons why people bully; they have been bullied, they have seen bullying, they fight their insecurities by bullying, they want control or sometimes they are just not nice people.

Regardless of what drives people to bully – it is still wrong.

Regardless how hard it is – it is never wrong to stand up for yourself. Never.

I will always encourage my children to stand up for themselves and when they do I will always praise them – even if it didn’t work out like they had hoped because standing up for yourself is never wrong.

Standing up is not easy. It means you are putting yourself out there, risking possibly being bullied more. It means you are looking for conflict instead of avoiding it. Standing up for yourself means you are being true who you are and saying NO MORE! Standing up for yourself means you are saying “I am strong enough and I do matter.”

So if you are being bullied – stand up. Say no more.. Fight back. A bully only has as much power as you give them, when you take it back, they have no more power.

Have you or your kids every been the victim of a bully?

 

If you are happy and you know it, leave a comment!

I had about three blog posts in my head yesterday but I got so distracted with the next #jozimeetup and catching up on blog reading etc etc.that I missed my window to actually write at least one of them.

So this morning I sat down ready to go because I had three options to choose from so I figured it would be a quick thing! WRONG! Here I sit 3 hours later and still NOTHING. I considered the post I had planned about bullying but then figured theirs enough fuel on that fire at the moment BUT there is still a post to come, then I wanted to write about teaching my kids to stand up for themselves but I couldn’t find the words for that. So whats left? Things making me happy so we will go with that!

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My Jack! He is super super cute at the moment. He talks non stop and says the cutest things. His observations of the world are just adorable. I love just talking to him. The tantrums are still there but the naughty corner seems to restore order and just the mention of it sorts him out.

My friends. I have had a good friend year. I have a group of awesome people in my life at the moment. Some I see often, some I see once a year but they are all just super awesome and I am very grateful for all of them.

Its nearly holidays. Need I say more? Who isn’t happy about that?

My husband! Just because he is all kinds of awesome.

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How cute is this picture of David and Emma? Seriously how flippen cute!

My tween. I am still rather emotional about his sudden launch into all that is a teenager. A few days ago I went to fetch him and he didn’t see me arrive and was busy talking and laughing with a bunch of girls. He looked so happy and confident. I am really enjoying him at the moment.

The warmer weather. I am loving it. We are spending lots of time outside. The kids are swimming. There are braais and wine and cocktails. Its FANTASTIC!

Whats making you happy? 

 

 

 

Parenting just got real!

There is nothing more overwhelming that giving birth. That moment you are handed that screaming little person is possibly one of life’s greatest moments. You are overwhelmed by every emotion there is  – fear, love, panic, wonder, admiration – you feel it all at once every few seconds but the love is rather overwhelming. I don’t you realise it until the second day when the sister comes to do those first vaccinations and you hear your baby scream, I remember wanting to punch the nurse with every single baby. You realise in that moment though, that you would lay down your life for your child without even thinking about it.

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With each milestone you feel an immense sense of pride and joy and excitement.

Look she is rolling – so cute.

Look she can stand – isn’t she clever.

Look she can walk – what a big girl.

Listen she can speak – so smart.

Every milestone arrives and we celebrate. We share. We brag. We document.

Then the excitement dies down a little. They can walk and talk and draw and write and add and read. We celebrate but no one really gets excited when you post a picture of your kid doing his math homework.

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Then they start growing up. Really growing up. Not just reaching new levels on the growth chart kind of growing up but a kind of growing up that pulls really hard on your heart strings. The kind of growing up that makes you cry a different, more real kind of tear to the one you cried they day he walked. It is not only a growing up but also a growing away, which is possibly why it is so emotional.

A few weeks ago Cameron put a password on his phone, I didn’t think much about it until I did and then I realised that he was talking to his friends and didn’t want us to see*. His expressions during the conversations he was having also made it clear that he may very well be talking to a girl, which he neither confirmed nor denied when I asked.

I really was not prepared for it. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that hit me harder than a bucket of ice. I shared on twitter the night it happened and the more I put into actual words what was happening, the more emotional I became. I wanted to rip the phone away and see who he was talking to and what they were talking about. I then wanted to smash the phone and tell him to sit down and watch Toy Story and declare it his favourite movie and ask for Buzz Lightyear Pajamas! I was not, and still am not, prepared for him to be experiencing “grown up” things like relationships and wanting privacy and separating himself from the family unit. It feels like they move through milestones at a certain pace and then they hit 11/12 and they leap across this abyss without fear to the other side while we, as parents, are still standing trying to catch hold of their feet as fly across because we aren’t ready because we know whats on the other side and we know that once their feet touch that side, we lose a pretty big part of who we are to them. I have never really been one of those moms who says “I wish I could keep them small” until that moment.

Parenting, for me, just got very real.

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It didn’t end there. As you know Cameron is now swimming. He had his second gala this weekend and I couldn’t be there to watch him. As he got out the car, I wished him luck and said “remember we want a faster time”. There is this amazing app that basically allows you to follow the gala in almost real time. So you can see the times pretty much a few minutes after they have swum. I was sitting at home refreshing every five seconds and then there it was Cameron De Klerk, 1st place with an improvement of over 3 seconds on his time. It may have been my proudest mom moment so far.

Not only because he won but because HE did this. HE did it all on his own. Yes we have given him the opportunity, the support and encouragement but HE did it. HE made the decision this is what he wanted and he is putting the hard work in, he is getting into the pool every day even when he is exhausted and he is training his heart out, he is sacrificing time with his friends and lie ins on a Saturday morning. He has a goal and he has determination. It is an incredible thing to watch and to know that in a small way, David and I, as his parents, played a part in his achievements.

Dealing with the sleepless newborn months was tough. Taming toddler tantrums is challenging. Potty training is vomit inducing. Introducing solids is exhausting. Starting school is eye-opening.

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Parenting a pre-teen will rip your heart right out of your chest. It will make all those early challenges seem like a walk in the park. You will wish for those days where you argued for hours with the toddler over which shoes to wear or how to cut their bread. You will miss the days where the talked non-stop about nothing and everything. You will wish that the next milestone had a start and end date. This stage, for me, is when parenting got real. It is NOW that you start to really be a parent because it is the years that lie ahead of us now that will really determine what he becomes and where he goes.

It has been a very emotional few weeks for me. I suspect it only gets tougher from here on out and I suspect there will be a lot more wine in my future.

This does sound like a very selfish version of things because it is. It is MY story. My emotions. Cameron’s story is now his to tell when and if he wants to one day.

The second photo was taken by Jeanette in I think one of then first family photo shoots she did in 2008.

The last photo was taken by Catherine at our photo shoot in September this year.

*I have no doubt that these are innocent conversations. He is not hiding them because he is selling drugs or having sex or whatever. Its just about him wanting some sort of privacy to be able to talk to his friends and very possibly girls.

Lets talk about the baby – the answers my friends are blowing in the wind

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You know how they say that by the fourth kid it should be easy? Well they lied! Just like pretty much everything else they say. Who are they anyway? The same people who say it gets easier as they grow up or don’t shout, talk to your child (have they ever talked 34680 times and had no one listen) or don’t pick them up too much (have they ever listened to crying for 50 solid minutes) or don’t let them fall asleep on the bottle/boob (have ever not slept for days on end) or just say no (have they ever said no to a 3rd old?). Do they even have kids?

Emma has been a challenge, for me, since she was born. She has seemed determined to break any mould’s her siblings may have set. She has had me questioning myself and my ability as a mother more than the other three ever have (even the tween who now seems to have a girl person he chats to on BBM). Thankfully, and mainly due to David’s persistence, we have managed to get her sleeping better but that really was only one issue. I have mentioned how unhappy she seemed with us. She doesn’t seem to like food that much, which I really find odd. The food gene is strong with both David and I and yet with her, meal times are a challenge, she purses her little lips and you can forget about getting anything in there if she doesn’t want to. She is firmly attached to a dummy, which is very new to me. I did try to get the others to take a dummy but they all refused so eventually I just left it.

It is a lot better now, not just with the sleeping but she seems happier and more content. Maybe I have just accepted that that is the way that she is or maybe she has just accepted we are it. Or maybe both?

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I don’t really know when it changed or what we did, if we even did anything, to make it change but it has and after 8 months it feels like she is part of the family, not just someone visiting, watching the chaos around her. I no longer dread the days the nanny isn’t here, I don’t start getting antsy when David is stuck in traffic (this may be the wine though). For the first time I am enjoying her. We have long chats while I do the shopping, she laughs at me, puts her little arms out for me to pick her up.

I get asked parenting advise a lot, not because I am an expert, but just because I have 12 years on the job training but all I can do is share what I did with my kids. Emma has proved that each child is very different, regardless of how many you have, and what worked for 3 may not work for number 4. This parenting thing really is a guessing game, sometimes you hit the jackpot and sometimes you lose all your money. Sometimes you think you have all the numbers but realise you only have 2, so you have to keep trying. Sometimes you are just too tired to even try and sometimes you just don’t want to because it is too hard.

Sometimes the answers are in the parenting section of Exclusive Books but more often than not the answers really are just blowing in the wind!

PS. I just want to say thank you for all the comments left yesterday. It does mean a lot. I think comment by “flaredmozzie” summed it up. Comments are important to us, not because of the stats but because of the interaction, knowing that we have reached someone or helped someone or just made someone laugh.

PPS. I am going to the physio this afternoon. I have been having these terrible spasms in my shoulder/neck and after a full assessment by my bio she has sent me to the physio to break the knots and then she can work on my posture. If there is no post on Monday, know I was killed by the physio!

Honesty is not the same as authenticity.

After I attended the LadyBloggers writing workshop I started changing my blog headlines to include some of the tips we were given. I also removed all the auto posts that I had. So now I manually add my link to my Facebook Page, twitter and Instagram.

The result? My stats increased, rather substantially. The links posted to my FB page specifically got more views, there was more interaction on my twitter feed. but there was something missing. I wasn’t really sure what it was that was bugging me but eventually after a twitter discussion I realised what it was – I wasn’t blogging authentically any more. I have actually noticed it happen to a few bloggers I respect, they are so focused on blogging right that they have forgotten their authenticity.

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It is possible to blog honestly without being authentic.

I could blog every day, possibly twice a day, with posts like “7 tips to stop siblings fighting” or “5 ways to cook dinner with a baby on your hip and glass of win in your hand” or “Surviving parents evening in 9 simple steps.” All of the posts would be honest, they would be me offering honest advice while checking all the blocks I need for a clickable headline and creating content the masses (and I say this with the utmost respect for the masses) want to read. What the posts wouldn’t be though is authentic to ME. They wouldn’t be what I wanted to write about (except may for the cooking with baby on hip and wine in hand), they would be written purely to boost my stats and get the clicks which isn’t why I blog and its not why I want people to come here. Of course I want the high stats, I want the clicks and I would love people to share my posts, retweet them and leave lots of comments.

Are those stats worth selling my soul for? Are they worth losing my authenticity for? What will happen if I do sell my soul? Who will I be selling it to?

I stopped reading a lot of US/UK/Aus bloggers for a host of reasons a few years ago but started following a few recently again. You know what I noticed? They have, for the most part, sold their souls to advertisers, brands and generally anyone who will pay them. Nearly every post mentions a product or a brand or is a giveaway or review. Now before you all freak out, I GET IT. I understand WHY. A lot of them draw very substantial incomes from their blogs, its how they pay the bills etc. I GET IT. I don’t judge them and sometimes I do wish I was them.  I wish I was at the point where my blog earned income that stretched more than buying a sushi for lunch once a month, hopefully I will get there one day. But I worry that it will come at the cost of my authenticity.

What are your thoughts?

Marcia has made a similar post questioning if blogging is dead? Pop over and share your thoughts.

Communication and service – do either actually exist?

The big kids are on holiday so there hasn’t been much productivity around these parts this week. We have been getting to a lot of stuff that the kids (mainly Cameron) have been asking me to do but I haven’t had time or focus and let me tell you it has not been pretty. I may have actually had a small cry in my car this morning from sheer frustration.

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It has left me wondering if communication and service actually do exist?

Problem 1: Cameron has my old iPhone, the power button isn’t working.

Problem 2: My camera isn’t working correctly on my iPhone.

Problem 3: I lost all my photos.

Attempt at solution 1: Cameron and I go to iStore. They can’t help us, simple as that. The iStore dude didn’t look particularly interested. Told me my phone is under warranty, I must go to my service provider. Cams phone is old and they can’t help but maybe iFix can. Sorry I lost my photos but he can’t help – he didn’t even really listen to me try to explain the process.

Attempt at solution 2: iFix lady enables a button on Cam’s phone that acts as the power button (why did the first dude not know this). Checks my camera out and gives me a quote to fix it but does say it is a fault with the phone so it should be fixed under warranty. She was super helpful.

Problem 4: Activating the kids Vitality Cards at Ster Kinekor

Attempt at solution: Lady 1 makes eye contact but walks away very fast. Man 1 tells me while I am waiting in another queue ‘SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING I DO SHE CAN HELP YOU”. Lady 2 is VERY disinterested, doesn’t listen me properly and then disappears to get the cards. Man 2 appears and asks me to full in 2 forms. It then takes him 20 minutes to capture Cameron’s details , he can’t do Kiaras for some reason. I then have to pay, can’t pay at the ticket counter, so have to walk to the refreshment counter and am pushed to the front (I HATE it when that happens when it doesn’t need to). So 30 minutes spent on something that should have taken 10 minutes max.

Problem 5: Delivery

Attempt at a solution: I miss a call, phone back, its a courier company. I explain I missed the call, can they please check if the driver is on the way, wants to come etc. Call centre agent, who I think just woke up says, “He is probably in the area, he will call back”. Later that day I get a mail from the company sending the stuff “Courier company can’t get hold of you” ARGHHHHHH!

Problem 6: Emma’s formula.

Attempt at solution: We have always battled with Emma’s formula (S26 Gold Lactose Free) so Davids mom and I have bought whenever we see so I had a nice stock pile but then I misjudged how much we had and money got tight so we ran out this week (today) so off I go to look for more. Short story – nowhere has any. Dischem phones around for me , I phone around, I drive around, I start to panic. Dischem explain that the company who makes it are merging so there is no stock. Louisa tweets Clicks and asks them, they apparently have a few stores. I stop at store 1 – nothing, so phone two other stores, nothing. Eventually I phone Aspen, no answer. I email them. I phone again, they answer and say they have my mail and have just phoned Baby City and they have stock. So off I go and there are shelves full of it. NOW I have been in Baby City a few times and there has been NOTHING! The moms in my moms and babes group are also battling to find the S26 formulas they use and this is a convenient Baby City so clearly the stock was new! (But I got it).

Yes most of my issues were resolved but not without either a fight or MAJOR effort on the part of the people I was dealing with. Don’t people understand if they just did their job that life would be easier for everyone? Why is it so hard to get just adequate service?

I also understand the whole formula thing – I get it, companies get bought etc but formula is not freaking tomato sauce, you can’t just switch brands. Some of us try many formulas and go through many sleepless nights to get to the right one. So the least they could have done was let us know that there would be an issue with stock for a while. Surely? Is that unreasonable?

You don’t need to watch Buzzfeed videos to be amazed. There is inspiration everywhere.

Don’t you just hate those videos on Facebook with the headlines “The judges made him stop, what happened next will blow your mind, minute 4.07 was my favourite” or ‘This boy will amaze you with his version of Let it GO”. I HATE THEM! I generally don’t click on them and the times I have been dumb enough to I always want to face palm myself for being an idiot.

One of the lesser aims of these videos, or at least why people share them, is to inspire and let the viewer feel good. People share them at an alarming rate so clearly they do inspire and amaze and blow people away which is great but there is often inspiration and amazing things happening right in front of us if we just open our eyes.

Last night Kiara had her schools culture evening. I wasn’t particularly excited about the whole thing because she wasn’t performing but did have a piece of artwork up in the art display that she wanted us to see so off we went, all 6 of us, over bed time. The evening was made of us 31 events that included songs, speeches, drumming and poetry.

Before I explain what happened I have to explain the make up of Kiara’s school for those that may not know. From Grade 1- Grade 10 there is a remedial class and a mainstream class and there is a class for the severely disabled children. The children in the remedial class have issues ranging from ADD to Autism to Dyslexia and the disabled children also vary in the levels of disability, some are able to walk and talk, others aren’t. From the babies to Grade 0 the kids are mixed. Jack has a little girl with down syndrome in his class – she gets so excited when she sees him and he gets just as excited. It’s very sweet. I have mentioned this often because it is one of the reasons I love this school.

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Back to the the concert, they began with the younger grades and it was all very sweet and the little ones were very cute. The piece with the disabled children was particularly moving, some of them had their helpers with them but they sang and danced and did really well. I still wasn’t particularly feeling like being there until a young boy from the Grade 6 remedial stream started playing the drums. This child got lost in the music. He had his head phones on and he played his heart out. It was incredible. He was amazing. He loved the huge response he got from the audience but avoided looking out at us.

Then a quirky Sheldon type young man came on and also played the drums. As he walked onto the stage he looked uncomfortable and out of place (very much like Sheldon from Big Bang) but the second the music started, he forget about us and played his drums like his life depended on it. He received a similar response from the audience and gave a shy smile before walking hurriedly off the stage.

A few items later a young girl walked on to the stage. I have seen this child when I fetch Kiara and Jack, she is in high school. She is a quirky young lady, often saying things that seem out of place but when she started singing I put my phone down and listened. It was phenomenal. She sang Taylor Swifts Never Grow Up. I have never heard the song before but when I listened to it, I actually think this young lady sang it better. It was one of the most moving performances I have ever seen.

These kids may not fit into boxes that society expects them to. They may be quirky or quiet or talk to loud or take a while longer to figure out algebra but let me tell you something they are incredibly talented and have clearly found a refuge in music, even more important though they have found teachers who celebrate that and encourage it.

I don’t think any amount of inspirational videos can create the feeling that you get when you experience amazing moments in real life. We forget that real life is more amazing than what is on our computer screens. There are more amazing moments all around us than we will ever be able to watch on Buzzfeed – we just have to open our eyes, feel them, experience them and remind ourselves how amazing life really is.

What amazing moments have you experienced recently?

PS – A video titled “Watching These Dogs Eat Peanut Butter In Slow Motion Is Everything We’ve Ever Wanted” just hit my feed. It made me smile!

PPS – LISTEN to that Taylor Swift song, I dare you not to get a little choked up!

Age gaps – big ones or small ones? Which one is best? Who knows really.

Jack: LEAVE MY CHIPS KIARA!

Kiara: WHAT? I am not doing anything!

Jack: MOOOOOOM Kiara is irritating me!

Kiara: I AM NOT EVEN TOUCHING him! You are such a liar Jack.

Jack: LEEEEEAAAAVE MEEEE (punctuated by a kick)

Kiara: MOOOOOOOOOOM Jack kicked me!

This happens EVERY DAY ALL DAY in my house! These two were never really close but they go along until a couple of months ago, now it is all out war between the middle two. They irritate each other by just breathing. It is exhausting. I can’t just leave them to fight it out because Kiara is 10 and Jack is 3 – so its not really an even fight, especially when they start getting physically.

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I often get asked which age gap is best because we have a little bit of everything. The older two are 22 months apart and the younger two just under 3 years and then there is a 9 year gap between Cameron and Jack and almost 12 years between Emma and Cameron.

It is such a hard question to answer because each gap has it’s pros and cons. For me though, the best gap has been Cameron and Jack. The bigger gap is definitely easier to deal with, especially in the first few years. You are able to focus on the older child for a few years before the new one comes along and then he is almost like an only child because you are able to focus on him because the older child now has different needs and is less dependent on you.

The small age gap for me, the second time around, was not much fun. I don’t remember it being this rough with the older two but having two little people dependent on you all the time can be draining at times. They both don’t sleep, they are both potentially in nappies, they are still very much dependent on you for everything. Granted it does get easier when they get a bit older but it also gets crazy once they are at school together pulling in different directions.

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I am finding having two older and two younger ones a constant shift in pace. The older two are dealing with totally different things to the younger ones, so one minute we are discussing disco parties and hair products and then next I am wiping bums and trying to figure out a follow on formula. It does my head in a little bit.

The age gap doesn’t seem to really affect the relationship they have with each other. Jack and Cameron and extremely close and despite a slow start with Emma, there is a very definite bond between the two of them. Emma loves Jack and he loves playing with her, feeding her and making her laugh. Kiara is, as always, the odd one out a little bit. She just tolerates them all, Emma more so than the rest but still she gets fed up very quickly with all three of them.

I can’t really recommend one age gap over another but what I will say is AVOID the under 2 year age gap and ALL COSTS! I am not sure how moms with kids who have a age gap of 18 months cope with life.

What is your age gap? Was it planned?