Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A picture tells a thousand words

I don't want to give a shameless plug for a corporation, but we just had the best time at Junglerama!  I realise that it is supposed to be for kids - in fact all the adults were sitting on the outside with their cups of tea.  Not so the Sweetpea and I - we had a marvellous time "rescuing" our little darlings while clambering all over the structure from top to bottom and taking in several slides and the jumping castle on the way.  What a blast! I would have loved to have had a few more pics of the boys but there was pretty little chance of me catching up to them at the rate they were going!
Little Miss Snoopy catches sight of the slide for the first time

Hurtling down that slide...

In the ball pool

Down the slide of the jumping castle
Sweetpea takes a break from the action

The three munchkins

That was a really fast slide!

Spiderman climbs into his web

Both boys inside the tiger's head

Exhausted and red faced on the carousel after a long play

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Daddy's duo - A Guest Post by the Sweetpea...

There is a story that the Sweetpea often tells the boys, that I thought would be lovely for him to put down in writing here.  After all, this blog is about making a record for our little ones, something they can read when they grow up and start asking questions and wondering about themselves and where they come from.  There is something about this story that manages to cover all of those bases at once.  So I will let him tell it in his own words, even though he is sure to be mad at me for making him do this!

"On the day you were born [says the Sweetpea to his wide-eyed sons], your mom was a bit tired, and so when she wanted to go to have a shower, she handed you both to me.  I was sitting in the chair by the bed, and you both lay on my chest.  And we all slept there like that. 

And to this day, I can still feel you lying on my chest - just as though you were still there.  It is like the weight of your two little bodies pressed into my chest and I will never feel the same again.  And later, when Little Miss Snoopy came along, it was the same - she took up the middle space - that little gap that was left between you two.  And so my arms were full.  And they have been ever since."

“My dad didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
-Clarence Budington Kelland

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bad hair day....

Interesting conversations are part of the deal of parenthood, aren't they?  Kids just have such an amazing perspective on things.

Sam couldn't sleep, so he was lying with me and we were reading a book called "My book about me", a Dr Seuss classic that I had owned as a girl of seven years old.  It relies on the child filling in answers about their lives and we were looking back at the things I had written when I was seven.  We learned interesting things, like when I grew up I wanted to be a dancer/veterinarian, that my favourite colour was green, that my best friend in the world was Mitty, that it was 52 steps from my front door to the first tree, etc.  Also we discovered that I tended to be on the more practical and down to earth trend than on the imaginative side.  For example, for the question: "I eat like a.....a) Horse or b) Bird" I had crossed both answers out and written "I eat like a little girl!"  My indignation was evident in every pen stroke:  of course I did not eat like a horse! As if!

But it opened some interesting topics of conversation with Sam.  I asked him: "So what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"A bigger boy," he replied unhesitatingly.  (Ah, the apple does not fall far, etc, etc.).
"No," I said, "I mean when you are all grown up?" 
"I want to be a daddy," he said, after some thought.

"That's so nice! You want to be just like your daddy!" I said to him.

"Yes," he replied.  "Although then I will have to grow hairs all over me and that will be very tickly."

It was so sweet, that despite the hirsuteness factor, of all the jobs in the world (firemen and superheroes included), he wanted to be a daddy. Got to be some plus points  for the Sweetpea in there somewhere!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Trading spaces

For the last few nights we have been playing musical beds.  As exciting as this game sounds, it actually isn't.  For some unknown reason, the Sweetpea and I decided it would be a good idea, in the last few days of summer (a summer which would actually be classified as winter in various other places on the globe), to set up the tent outside in the garden.  The we could all have fun in the tent before autumn really sets in.  So that was the plan.

Fast forward to the reality.  About two minutes after we had set up the tent and stood back to admire our handiwork, the sides of the tent started flapping ominously in the wind.  Nevertheless, we decided to brave the elements and sleep in the tent regardless, since we had gone to all the mission of setting it up in the first place.  With a few grave misgivings, we dragged enough bedding to make the night bearable (enough blankies and eiderdowns to protect a small army from the cold of a Siberian winter) into the tent and settled down to sleep.  After an increasingly breezy night in the tent, during which all five of us almost chickened out at various times, we emerged blearily into the light of day to discover that it had rained in the night and now we could not take the tent down, because it was too wet and we couldn't risk it growing mold and mildew over the winter.   Never mind, reasoned the Sweetpea optimistically, we could thus spend another night in the tent now.  Bonus! (I think not!)

The next day dawned extremely chill, and an arctic wind was blowing from the South pole.  That night, we stood at the edge of the deck surveying the tent silhouetted against the grey and chilly sky, and as one, turned tail and ran into the house.  A huge amount of dragging bedding from the tent back into the house ensued, and we were finally settled in our room again.  There were a few minutes silence.  Then:  "What's that stinky smell?" from the boys.  True, there was a terrible and suspicious stinky smell in the air.  In fact, it smelled of nothing so much as dead rat.  After searching high and low, we discovered that the smell came from the central heating vents, into which said rat must have crawled and died.  A panicked mass exodus resulted.

We dragged all the bedding down into one of the spare rooms, stopping by the tent to retrieve all of the blow-up mattresses that were still there.  An increasingly late night saw us eventually all settled on the floor of the spare room, sleeping shoulder to uncomfortable shoulder on the airbeds.  One scratchy night later, and we got up, only to see that the tent had blown down in the furious wind the night before.  

The next night saw us unwilling to enter our bedroom for fear of the dead-rat smell, and so it was back to the spare room.  No sooner than we were all settled for the night than a little voice piped up out of the darkness:  "What's that stinky smell?"

Turns out that old rat had a poorly cousin...   

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Wildlife on safari...

A torch is the new coolest thing ever!  The boys were taken by their nanny (yes we have one of those, for the three hours that I work four times a week) to the park, and she took them to the weta cave.  She is also (coincidentally) the coolest nanny ever too, so she took them each a torch with plenty of batteries so that they could see the wetas hanging from the ceiling and looking at them with their beady little eyes (this is how they were described to me later by the twins).   I am not sure, speaking strictly from personal experience, whether it would be better to be able to see the beady little eyes of a weta actually looking at you, or not to see the beady little eyes of a weta looking at you but to know that it is there anyway.  For those of you not familiar term, a weta is what we used to call a park-town prawn (in South Africa), and is a creature that Peter Jackson used to great effect in his movie of King Kong (just watch the scene with the chasm and all the wetas crawling up to devour the hapless humans and you will never sleep again).  A weta is not really like that carnivorous beast in the movies (or so they say), but I am sure that, standing in the dark in a closely confined space like a cave, an ordinary or garden type weta would assume astronomic proportions that would quite possibly freak me out.  Torch or not.

Anyway, the kids came back with wonderful tales of their adventures in the cave, and singing the praises of the humble torch, with which they had been able to see in the dark, with or without the benefit of carrots.  For days we have been inundated with requests for the torches, so that they can explore the house under cover of darkness.  At night, they switch off all the lights and run around with their torches, shining the light into unsuspecting eyes and generally causing mayhem (as is in their job description).  

Unwittingly, however, and in a totally unpremeditated way, I became the coolest mom ever too.  At night, sleeping in one room with three children has it's own challenges.  It involves sneaking in to your bed quietly, holding your breath, if you choose to go to bed later than the time of eight o'clock that the kids go to bed.  I have often forgotten to brush my teeth at that stage, and this usually necessitates me blundering around in the bathroom and trying to make as little noise as possible while running taps, finding toothbrushes, etc.  I recently discovered that having a torch in the bathroom is the perfect option, as I can switch it on and not make a noise that wakes up the children while I get ready for bed.  

But the other night, the Sweetpea had left a box of his tools (he is grouting the tiles) on the corner of the bath. In spite of the torch, I somehow managed to stumble into the box and knock it down, scattering the tools everywhere and making a racket fit to wake the dead.  Two little boys appeared as if by magic in the doorway of the bathroom, open-mouthed, wanting to know what all the noise was about.  And there they discovered their mother, using the free time that she has after putting them to bed.  Playing with a torch in the bathroom in the dark.  How cool is that?

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mother knows breast...

They tell you, when your new-born is new born, that the baby can smell you and knows your smell.  Some of the stauncher midwives tell you that you shouldn't bath after giving birth, and if you absolutely have to, you should not use soap.  This unnatural perfume smell will stop the baby from recognising you and might confuse it into thinking you aren't the original source of food.  Having a little nursling snuffling at your breast brings all of this home, and while I wasn't prepared to go the whole hog (literally, it might seem, as that is probably what I smelled like at the time) and not have a bath, I certainly didn't want to confuse the baby by using deodorants or soaps.

I am still feeding Little Miss Snoopy (some might raise eyebrows at this - she is almost two, after all) and I wondered when this craving for the "mother smell" ends.  I obviously started using all my usual perfumes soon after I got home from the hospital - it is one thing to not confuse or upset the baby, and an entirely other thing not to confuse and upset the husband.  A fine line must be walked.  But she seemed to settle into my perfume-y aroma just fine, and got used to me being the provider no matter what I smelled like.  She still snuggles close, be it early in the morning or late at night, her mind fixed on the wonderful aroma that leads her to where the food is at.

However, the boys have no qualms about letting me know it is not the motherly smell that they need anymore.  Sam crawled into my bed early this morning and I held him close to me.  "Not too close, Mama," he whined, obviously a victim of my morning breath. "I don't like that smelly smell!"  He quickly back-tracked and tried to make me feel less bad, but the damage was done.  That mama-smell just ain't as good as it used to be!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Tall oaks from little acorns grow...

Why on earth do smoke alarms only go off at terribly unspeakable hours of the morning?  We have had ours' malfunction about six times since we moved into this house, and every single time has been at night, in the hours when sleep is the deepest and the chance of waking up with a massive fright (if not downright heart attack) is the greatest.  And the most ironic thing is that ADT, who of course phone immediately that the alarm goes off (thereby adding to the general chaos and pandemonium reigning in the household at that time), choose to ask as their first question "Was anybody standing underneath the smoke detector and spraying on perfume or deodorant at the time when it went off?"  As if!  At three in the morning, I think it highly unlikely for anyone to be standing in the upright position, let alone considering spritzing themselves with perfume or deodorant.  

But what I hate the most is the effect of the smoke alarm on three sleeping kids.  Last night, I had just managed to get Little Miss Snoopy to be persuaded into sleep for about the fourth time (Okay - I admit it!  I am a psychologist and I have a child that doesn't sleep through the night.  At all!  Ever!  And has never done!). 

Just as we were settling into sleep ourselves, and I was glancing blearily at a clock that said 3:16am, the awful racket which signifies a smoke detector malfunction started.  Pandemonium broke loose as usual, yet I was surprised when the boys did not run shrieking into my bed as they would usually have done.  Instead, I heard a matter-of-fact little voice from the depths of Paddy's bed, under the duvet cover:  "I really don't like that alarm, Mama."  And that was it.

Hmmm.  I remember the days of running through to their rooms as the alarm wailed, holding their sobbing, shaking little bodies close against me while the Sweetpea attacked the detector with a screwdriver (of course there is no easy off-switch for a malfunctioning detector - it will scream until kingdom come if you let it - never be tempted by ADT to "just press *# and it will turn itself off" - you will save yourself minutes of hassle and fruitless pressing of *#).  In those long-ago days, which I can remember so vividly, the alarm was the most terrifying thing that could happen to the boys, and for hours and days afterwards, they would be afraid even to walk near the things.  They also developed a code word which they both used, almost as a protection against evil (like the Victorians made signs against the "evil eye").  "Attooofah!" they would both yell, while pointing at the alarm.  I could never discover what it meant - it was just one of those twin things that I had to assume would be beyond the understanding of a single mortal like myself.  But it seemed to give them some form of comfort in, what was to them, a terrible and unpredictable setting.

And now, they are so grown up that they hardly mention it, and see fit to go back to sleep almost immediately.  I think it was that fact more than anything else that has happened over the past month that has brought home to me the imminence of their maturity; the fact that they stand tiptoe, poised on the edge of that daunting, scary, vibrant and wonderful world of manhood.  Within seconds, they will be ready to fling themselves over the edge into the unknown, and I will have lost them.  What is that saying?  If you love something, set it free?  The person who first coined that phrase could not have been a mother - every instinct in you wants to clutch and grab and hold onto your babies for all you are worth.  

Yet the rationalist in me realises the validity of the statement.  

So, in the words of another famous author (William Shakespeare):
"Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny, 
converting all your sounds of woe, 
into Hey, nonny, nonny!"

I am not sure what a nonny is, but even without that understanding, something in me replies: "Easier said than done, methinks!"