Currently

This morning I was busy with a few things and had “blog post” on my list. I did everything to avoid it, not because I have nothing to say but because I have so much to say but no time to organise it all.

So I am joining Cindy and Sharon and doing a “currently” post!

Currently…..

I am feeling very overwhelmed with how much needs to get done before we leave for Cape Town in less than a month.

Money is a huge stress. HUGE.

I was very freaked out by the fact that the big kids father is “watching them” via Facebook.

I am loving the rain.

I am really enjoying the new season of Scandal – anyone watching it? And the new season of Homeland s also pretty good.

I am completing a Sensory Profile for the OT at Jack’s school. (My head popped out the sand just long enough to discuss his issues with the teacher).

I am having to mark too many blogs as read because I just don’t have the time to read and leaving them unread stresses me out.

I am avoiding thinking about Christmas presents.

Kiara and Jack are chasing each other so they can basically just beat each other up.

I have discovered brussel sprouts and am in love.

My laptop is dying. It’s not even doing it gracefully or subtly.

My phones charger has broken – I don’t even know how. A new one is nearly R300. I don’t even know what to say about that.

I want to smash all the chocolate in the world in my face and wash it down with all the wine in the world!

How are things currently in your world?

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!

{Product Review} Feeding made easy with Nuk

Being the fourth child means Emma gets very little new stuff. From her clothes to her bottles to her cot. It’s not so much a money thing as a practical thing really. We had a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff got handed down.

Recently I was contacted by Nuk to try out their new feeding range. It was perfect timing because Emma is now on solids and has been using all Jacks old bowls. I do realise she is 8 months old and doesn’t care or know what bowl she uses but it is still nice to get new stuff.

We were sent a weaning set with cutlery that including a weaning bowl, weaning plate and cutlery set as well as the snack box.

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The plate has partitions which is nice to keep the food seperate and the bowl is pretty deep which I liked because it is less messy than the thinner bowls. The cutlery set is small, making it easier for little hands to hold and manouver.

My favourite was the snack box though.

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It is small enough for them to hold it and has a soft silicone lid under the main lid that has little flaps so when they tip it, the contents don’t fall out. It really is super cool. You can also remove the handles which make it easier to store and all of the items can go in the dishwasher.

Emma only drinks Nuk bottles so it was actually a natural choice for us to move over to the Nuk feeding set anyway but I can highly recommend all three of these products.

 

 

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??

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?

The baby may like us after all. I think. Maybe.

For many months I was convinced Emma didn’t like us, particularly me. She seemed unhappy all the time. Apart from the lack of sleep, she just seemed miserable. She hardly smiled and just always seemed like she didn’t like us much.

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I battle to bond with my children as newborns, it takes me 2/3 months to feel confident enough to say “we have bonded” but with Emma it is only now that I am feeling that bond*. There always seemed to be something wrong. Breastfeeding was a nightmare (not her fault), then she had horrible cramps, then she stopped sleeping, then she stopped drinking, then we had her tongue fixed, then she carried on not sleeping, then she got sick again, she screams in the car even after I changed car chairs. She has these crying spells that last for up to an hour at a time.

It seemed like we were constantly going “Could it be….” and “Lets try this.” and I sent David more messages than I think either of us wanted to saying “I CAN’T COPE WITH THIS KID”

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After a really rough day with her last Friday, which ended in a 45 minute fight to get her to sleep, I was pretty convinced that she hated me. I had a rather large small cry about it in the bathroom after she had finally fallen (and stayed) asleep. After 5 months of trying pretty much everything anyone suggested and walking on egg shells around her, it just seemed like she was never going to find her place in our family.

While she is still not sleeping so well, it does seem like something happened over the weekend and she seems a little happier to be here. Even Cameron commented on the fact that she was laughing at him for the first time. She is interacting with us a lot more, she moans now instead of screaming. She is very calm during the day, she naps, plays, talks and just seems overall a whole lot calmer. It is finally starting to feel like she wants to be here and is starting to warm to me. (She laughs hysterically at Jack and Kiara and the dog so I know she CAN  laugh).

Have you had a child like this? One that you felt just wasn’t happy?

*Just in case anyone wasn’t sure – taking a while to bond with my kids doesn’t mean I don’t love them!

Swimming our way to an empty bank balance! What do extra muruals REALLY cost?

 

Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her. Mia Hamm

 

 

Why I am not apologising for my kids anymore

One of the reasons flying with my kids makes me anxious is because you don’t get “kid friendly” flights that are made up predominantly of parents or travelling families. We have to fly with businessmen, single people, childless couples and parents escaping their children.IMG_2386

I spend the entire length of the flight making sure my child aren’t annoying anyone, making too much noise, crying too much – generally I squash them and stop them from doing all the things that kids are supposed to do for fear of a scathing tweet about the mother and her unruly spawn or screaming baby.

WHY?

Are we, as a family, less entitled to be on an airplane? Are we less important than the businessman in front of us trying to edit his report or the career women counting the seconds until she can turn her phone on to check her emails?

NO. We are not.

Flying is not the only time I feel like I have to muzzle my children.

Restaurants are another minefield. As parents we are more worried about ensuring those around us aren’t in any way inconvenienced or offended by our children talking a little too loud, or eating their macaroni and cheese with their fingers, or a toddler announcing to the world he needs to POO NOW! And we all now how people feel about breastfeeding in public.
Shops also cause much anxiety especially when toddlers would rather walk than be confined to a pram. Heaven forbid a busy little person runs across the path of someone, causing them to pause and walk around them or a mom has to stop suddenly because her daughter has to show her that there is Barbie on the yoghurt. We all know how much fun toddler tantrums can be and often despite our best attempts to avoid them, they happen but again, we are often more in tune with the glares and sighs of those around us than the wailing child.

I am kinda done apologising for my children being children.

IMG_2497Before you get your knickers in a knot I am not condoning badly behaved children, yours or mine. I am simply saying, when my child behaves like a child and that inconveniences you, that is YOUR problem, not mine or my childs.

Babies cry on airplanes, their ears hurt, they get hungry, they cry. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers do not have the ability to sit through an entire meal without moving. They need to run, walk, move. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Children aren’t born knowing how to behave socially. We teach them, it takes time. They will talk too loud, they will ask inappropriate questions. It is how they learn. I will not apologise for that.

They throw tantrums. They get tired, over stimulated. They test boundaries. It does not mean I am a bad parent or that they are a bad child. It means they are learning. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers love exploring, the love walking around the shops. Sometimes they get so caught up in it all, the forget to look in front of them, so they will bump into you and we will say sorry for that BUT I will not apologise for allowing him the freedom to walk around a little.

My children and I have just as much right to fly on airplanes, eat at restaurants, watch movies and shop as our childless counterparts.You may not like children, that is really ok because I don’t particularly like children, but you do need to accept that children are the next generation, they are here to stay and they aren’t perfect.

My children are noisy, they get excited over trivial things, they whine, the toddler hasn’t perfected eating with a knife and fork yet, the baby can’t talk so she cries when she is hungry or tired, they do still occasionally bump the table sending drinks and chips flying. If that offends you, you have the choice to go to another restaurant, stand in another queue or take another flight.

I am not apologising for my children being children anymore.

Disclaimer: If my children disrespect you, or anyone really, they will be reprimanded and we will apologise. I am not excusing away bad behaviour. I do promise to do my best to stop tantrums because, I promise you, they are even less fun for me to endure, if you promise to give me the space to do that.