Thursday, 27 March 2014

Love, Limit & Let Them Be!

Recently a good friend shared the following encouragement:

Great advice, although not so easy to implement all the time. I mean, the love part we do well - we love our children all the time, never mind the situation, and perhaps that (plus a small dose of hedonism) is what makes it easy. To limit is every parent's good intention - we try to dose our children's poor nutrition, watching tv, and generally just getting away with whatever they want, so that they stay within acceptable levels - and regardless of our success rate, we keep trying because we know it'll make them good people. But the let them be, that's harder.

Or maybe that's just me? Perhaps it's because I have a son who is outspoken (in spite of his limited vocabulary), overly inquisitive, and doesn't sleep? I want him to discover things, to learn to be independent, to explore his surroundings and get to know himself. But how do I let him be when it may not be what people want to see?

So my latest lesson in Parenting 101 is this: Pick Your Battles
Safety is a non-negotiable, and I don't back down on that. When it comes to manners and good behaviour, I'm also in for the long run. The rest though, those things aren't all that important after all.

So, while I did wake up this morning with my bedroom floor covered in half a box worth of tissues that Zac had shredded during the night when I forcibly removed him from my head (yes, he was sitting there while I tried to sleep), and in doing so put an end to the drum solo he was banging out on my body, is it worth getting into a tizz over? Probably not.

I'm realising more and more that these are memories in the making. A bathroom flooded with bath water is the evidence of a little boy frantically kicking his little legs as he practices his swimming, or furiously shaking his growing locks as he tries to wash his own hair, or the overflow of water and laughter as he plays a game of splash with whoever is in the bath with him. With a quick mop the water and the moment is gone, sometimes too soon.

Our kids won't be little forever, and I know I don't want to look back on these early (often tiring and trying) days and wish that I'd been less uptight about the small things. I hope I'll see that (most of the time) I let them be.

Monday, 24 March 2014

River Deep, Mountain High - Bainskloof Weekend

It's rainy Monday in Cape Town, and it's almost impossible to believe that for the last three days we've been enjoying rocks, rivers and really good weather.

On Friday morning we set off on our annual weekend away, this time with newest (self-added) family member (Brendan) and significant others (Brendan's and  Dom's) in tow. After three years, we decided it was safe to head back to the mountain cottage in Bainskloof without losing our minds trying not to lose our children.

We arrived in Wellington and enjoyed breakfast at the local Spur (following a short detour to Newton to collect set of keys #2, after we forgot to collect set of keys #1 in Cape Town). While we all enjoyed the breakfast and company - not to mention the Michael Franks music - I can officially state that there is no restaurant available to seat our entire brood in one booth. Thanks to our growing numbers (and Annie wasn't even with us this time because she had to teach her dance class on Saturday), we take up about half the space in any facility!

Hungry anyone?

Singing along to Michael Franks

Why pose for a photo when I can drink a fruit shake?

We got to Bainskloof a little before noon (after a few more shopping related stops in Wellington), and it was hot! Setting up home took a little longer than we anticipated, what with all the bags, children and groceries (did I mention children?), but after that we were met with the yummiest quiches for lunch - it was worth the wait!

Rustic Coaton Cottage... the top of the Bains Kloof Pass

To take advantage of the gorgeous weather (which we usually miss out on because we visit in the winter), we spent the rest of the afternoon at the river. You'd be forgiven for thinking that there was some mass baptism going on: 10 adults, 2 children and 3 toddlers in a river is not something you see everyday!

Ash having some fun in the sun with her son

A VERY rare pic of Ash and PJ (he hates pics!)

Garth and the boys were reluctant at first

Papu and Matthew decided to give it a miss altogether

Brendan and Bronwen
The mass baptism I mentioned earlier

Upon our return to 'camp' we just relaxed for the rest of the day - napping, eating, chatting and laughing. And so it continued for the rest of the weekend. By Sunday even Bronwen and Garth seemed like part of the famiglia, and thankfully showed no ill-effects of over-exposure to the kids, their screaming, and the general craziness of the Hendricks+ bunch.

Spur Burger Braai

Dom and her non-boyfriend, Garth

PJ instructing Bren on how to make breakfast

The boys getting up to mischief

While Princess Jorja looks over her minions

Brendan and Bronwen making breakfast

Zac setting the table

The breakfast of champions, yum yum!

"No, Mom, I do not need you help. I can do it myself"

Is any camp-out complete without a potjie?

Dom and Garth preparing the braai

Yaya in her happy place, dancing in the kitchen

Good, wholesome braai - even Prof Noakes would approve

Papu taking a much-needed moment to himself

Andel serious about doing his shoulder rehab

Good ol' dumpies (is that how you spell it?)

These next four pics were taken within seconds of each other - 
just to show you what the children were up to at any given moment...

Proof that Matthew does throw tantrums

Ethan watching Finding Nemo on the ipad

Zac reading his book, trying to look obedient

Jorja trying to break free from the boys!

I think some of us (the mommies, in particular) could have done with a little more rest, but overall, it was a good weekend - definitely one to be repeated. Next year maybe!

Yes, I'm a Mom and I happen to have a Tattoo...

There's a blog that I follow quite a bit, written by a woman I rather like and admire, despite never having spoken to her, even though we attend the same Mama and Munchkins group with our kids (that's a-whole-nother blog post right there). The blog currently has this feature "I'm a Mom with Tattoos". It's been interesting to read. While these days having some ink is not as big a deal as it was before, it's still quite something to have/be a mom with a tat. Or a piercing. Or in my case, both.

So, without completely stealing her idea (I don't intend to do a weekly segment on this), here is my story about my ink..

Last year, for my 30th birthday, I got a text tattoo on my forearm that says "Soli Deo Gloria" - Latin for "Glory to God alone". It's a twofold reminder for me that (a) everything that I do/say/am should bring God glory, and (b) all things - good and bad - work for His glory. I actually wanted a small wrist tattoo, but according to tattoo etiquette, wrist tattoos need to face outwards (for the reader to read), so given that it was more of a personal thing for me, upon the advice of the tattoo artist, we made it bigger (eek!) and moved it up the arm. It was a really good experience - the tattoo artist (who is one of the best in the country) was really great. And I had Dom with me for moral support. And no, it wasn't sore, at all!

Delighted disbelief - I was convinced it was going hurt more!

Surprisingly, the general response has been quite good. My family appreciate the significance and beauty (although I don't think they'll go suggesting everyone get one), and my colleagues were mostly surprised because my personality is more straight-laced (although I do have a tongue piercing that I've had for 12 years). I think I was the most freaked out about it. I have wanted this tattoo for the last two years at least, so I was at peace about getting it, I was just totally thrown by the change in size and position, which made it more visible to all. It was ironic though: I mean, how can I want to give glory to God even though my tat, and then not want it visible? It (the change) has since grown on me, and I like that I have a story.

The final product

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cycle Tour Review

It's that time of year (well, a little later actually, but excuse me, I was a little preoccupied this past week) when we look at the weekend that has become a bit of a sporting highlight in our house: Cycle Tour!

It's a hectic weekend on a number of fronts. On the one hand my sisters and I are very involved working for the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, and/or taking on additional volunteers for the number of events they run preceding the race. This means everyone works long, often weird, hours, we don't see much of each other, and we have a significant shortage of babysitters. It's also the biggest timed, single day cycle race in the world, so for participants like my husband, along with my self-appointed brother, it's also the culmination of months and months of training. 

This year the littlies took part too. On Saturday Jorja, Ethan and Zac participated in the Tricycle Tour. We had a little bit of a meltdown at the start when Ethan and Jorja (the more seasoned - and much better - cyclists) got stage fright and nearly refused to move anywhere until Zac seemed to convince them. He was off, vuur en vlam (we need to have the "it's not how you start but how you finish" chat), and pretty soon was exhausted. Jorja and Ethan eased into it - for Ethan it involved being carried on his motorbike, in his mother's arms; for Jorja is was just a vote of confidence from uncle Andel. Anyway, they all finished, with smiles on their faces; they received their medals proudly - and then Zac promptly fell asleep.

Zac at the start, not quite sure this racing thing works!

On Sunday it was the big men's turn. I decided to skip the whole set up the night before. I was tired, Zac wasn't feeling well, and considering it is their 3rd Cycle Tour, I figured they could manage on their own. Well they managed to get to the start just in time, and set off on a good race. Zac and I even managed to see them on Edinburgh Drive before church.

The plan is always that we then try to catch them in Hout Bay, and Zac and I were making good time. Until we got to Hout Bay: we couldn't find parking, then I had to put Zac into his pram, put all his things into my bag, and then walk all the way to the route. And after standing there for 30 minutes, Zac and I did it all again (in reverse) - only for me to start the car and get a call from Andel:
"Where are you?" he asked me when I picked up the call. I immediately wondered if he was now standing at the very spot we had been just a few minutes earlier.
"I just got into the car"  I said, praying that he couldn't hear that I had already started it and was driving out of Hout Bay, "where are you?"
"I'm done"  he said proudly. And I breathed a massive sigh of relief.

I'm a self-confessed WAG. and I love watching the sport that Andel takes part in. The Cycle Tour however is by far the most challenging to support. It's all about timing and changing location, and I'm never alone so I always have baggage. There are weather conditions that need to be considered (the first race I was 6 months pregnant, in the middle of a heatwave), road closures, and in general, you don't know what's happening until it's already happened. So was I bummed that Zac and I missed Andel and Brendan? Absolutely! Poor Zac was shouting "Anno, Anno" with no response. But more than that, we were super proud of a really good time - faster than they had expected, and thankfully without illness or injury.

So, at last, we get a break from early morning cycles that leave Mommies alone with kiddies, and take priority over all other plans, and we look forward to the coming weekend away, bringing peace and quiet, and a much needed lie-in! Not that it will last long: I've already heard Andel and Bren planning their training for Knysna!