Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Beach Boys

Some experiences are just never meant to be repeated.  When I was pregnant with the twins, about five or six months along and just before we returned to South Africa to pack up all of our worldly possessions to move halfway around the world, we went to a beach nearby on a lovely October day.  The sun was shining, and it was (relatively) hot, but the thing that struck us the most was that the beach was covered in plants, and that those plants were blossoming with flowers with the most potent aroma I have ever been privileged to smell.  It was as though the very essence of life itself, all of the most beautiful moments and heart-rending instants had been distilled into a perfume, and these plants were exuding it there, on a beach in the middle of nowhere, with no other people to witness it. Now I am not saying that the fact of my pregnancy and the joy I was feeling at carrying the boys had nothing to do with the way I perceived that beach and those flowers, but I do know that the Sweetpea was just as impressed and awestruck.

Every year since then, we have returned to Flower Beach (as we dubbed it then), faithfully, at the same time of the year, like pilgrims making their way to a shrine. And not once have we seen those flowers again.  Today was no exception.  After telling our lot that we were off to see Flower Beach, we took them to a beach which had, unfortunately, not only no flowers, but a large amount of sheep droppings instead (Flower Beach is part of a farm, although the farmer is kind enough to let the public have access to the sea).

One of the main attractions of the beach is that it is so isolated, yet today when we were there, a surprising amount of people were on the beach (at least eight other people). Isolation means no facilities, if you get my drift.  With kids, almost every opportunity to be in the open is an opportunity to wee on a different bush or patch of ground of some sort, so of course it was not long before all of our three needed to go.  On a beach that had as it's major feature heaps of sheep droppings and no cover for about 500m in all directions.  Once again, I cursed the lack of forethought that had made me leave the potty at home (even I have been known to use this precious item in dire circumstances).  I elected to stay with all the goods on the beach - I didn't want to walk all that way over the sand to see little boys trying to write their names in the dry bits - and Sweetpea got to drag all three superstitiously over to the closest available cover.  It was performed with the utmost discretion, with the Sweetpea pretending to point out the interesting fauna and flora to the little ones and moving them in the direction of what we fondly called "the wee hole".

Little Miss Snoopy unfortunately missed the need for secrecy.  "I go wee, I go wee, I go wee," she sang in a piercing voice the whole way back over the sand dunes.

We missed the flowers again, but I think the antics of the kids more than made up for the lack.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

I can deal with anything as long as I am wearing the right clothes...

As they grow older, I have realised that dressing, which used to be so simple, now is a trial of epic proportions.  I suppose it is good training for the bathroom-bound years of being a teenager, when every spot and hair is examined for hours to see if it is passable or not.  But I am definitely getting a taste of it now.

When they were little, I could throw anything on them that would keep them warm.  Cute little body-suits, adorable jerseys that made them look a teensy bit like girls, the works.  Now I have to consider the relative merits of each outfit before I even present it, and here is why:

I have to consider the relative powers of each item of clothing, in relation to what I will be dressing the other child in.  A t-shirt with a Spiderman pictured on the front will obviously out-weigh a Bob-the-Builder: that is a no-brainer.  The one who gets Spiderman that day will lord it over the one who gets Bob, making sure that the t-shirt is exposed at every possible turn. But the clothing debacle does get more subtle than that.

I would like to know who came up with the idea of putting more than one super-hero on a shirt?  For mothers of twins, especially if you choose not to dress them in the same outfits, this is a real trial.  After all, my mind has to hold so many diverse and frankly essential bits of information, that it has no room for intricate calculations of whether two Spidermen (black and red) and a Batman out-weigh Superman and Iron-Man.  Obviously, the twins know immediately whose shirt is carrying the most referent power, but I have to admit that as a mom, I am at a loss. With the result that I have come up with a points system to figure it all out.  It goes like this:

A skateboard/bicycle/ scooter = 1 point, unless having fire on the shirt somewhere (especially coming from the wheels), in which case add 2 extra points
Any car/monster truck/motorbike = 2 points
Lightening McQueen = 5 points, unless pictured with Mater, then take off 2 points
Bob-the-Builder = 3 points, unless pictured with one of the trucks/diggers/grabbers 
Any Disney character, including Shrek, is a minus point, especially if it has fur on it (like Donkey), in which case it is -2 points
Buzz lightyear is worth 7 points, but only if pictured without Woody.  If Woody is there, minus 5 points
Superman, Spiderman, Batman or any other man, if pictured alone = 10 points, unless the logo is not visible, in which case take off 2 points

Superheroes in tandem with each other = 10 points for the shirt, plus a further 5 points for each additional immediately-recognisable superhero.  If the superhero is unknown, 5 points are deducted for each guess the kids have to have to figure out who it is.  This often results in a minus figure total awarded to that item of clothing.

Also, if the shirt has a hoodie on it, add a further 5 points.
If the shirt has sleeves that are too long and need to be rolled up, take off another 5 points.
No tracksuit pants with cuffs at the bottom, no matter how cool, can equal a pair with no cuffs at the bottom.

Calculate the amount per outfit for one child, and then make sure that the outfit for the second child exactly matches this number.  See, brilliantly simple isn't it?  

Let me know how this works out for you!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My fingers may be small, but I can still wrap Daddy around them...

Father's day is an inspiring excuse to get the kids to make something lasting for us.  I'm not saying that they don't ever make things, because they do, but on the majority of occasions, kindy is filled with superheroes and villains, and if one of ours puts paintbrush to paper or something like that, it is what we call a Big Thing.  They like drawing, and doing artsy things; just not as much as they like running around with capes on and shrieking after the bad guys (who, coincidentally, think that they are actually the good guys).  So I thought I would take the opportunity to do a bit of gentle persuasion (read: blackmail) and get them to make something nice for their dad for father's day.

I wanted to photograph the results for posterity.  These are not all Father's day presents, but are all special in some way:

This is Paddy's fire-engine.  I particularly love the ladder and also the sirens placed strategically on the top.

This is the card that Little Miss Snoopy made while at music classes (with a bit of help from her lovely nanny).

 This is Sam's impression of a snake.  When I asked why it had three eyes, he told me "the middle one is his nose!"  He then pointed out the tongue, because "all snakes have sticky-out tongues".
Paddy made this for me, because he didn't want me to feel left out.  He knows that I love coffee and so he made me a special box full of "coffee" so that I could have it all the time.  I haven't tried it yet, but he is wanting to know when I will....

Little Miss Snoopy made this lovely boat at playcentre, and we have kept it ever since.  I find it extremely difficult to throw away anything that the little ones make for me - I can see myself in my old age living surrounded by heaps of junk like in those awful houses they show on Oprah at times.  Oh well, so be it!

And the best thing about all of these priceless little gifts?  The way their little faces look when they hand them over to the recipient: pride and excitement and the joy of giving all wrapped into one small little face.  So, Father's day does not comprise fancy gifts of watches or cufflinks, or even not so fancy gifts of socks or ties.  But somehow, I think our dad has the better part of the deal.