Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Three May Well Be Easier...

Over the last three months I've done my fair share of reading about growing families, dealing with two kids, adjusting to life with a new baby again etc. and one comment/sentiment that seemed to come up a lot is that, apparently, two is the most difficult; the more kids you have the easier it gets.

Now I'm not one that needs any encouragement in this department. I've lived my entire adult life wanting four children. However, I don't know where this number came from, and because it is not a popular one in today's modern parenting culture, it's safe to say that I've seen every shell-shocked look and heard every (misplaced, I think) comment about this apparent insanity.

And when Sam arrived, I knew just what everyone was talking bout. The blur of madness that ensued those first few weeks was enough for me to swear of any more kids forever. I don't need to explain. Whatever you can imagine - it was worse than that!

And then it started to get better. I even did a whole week looking after both my boys and my three year old nephew, and while I was tired (okay, I was knackered!) I was actually fine. I didn't have a nervous breakdown. The kids didn't starve or get hurt. I didn't spend all day in my pajamas. We went to the park. We did a play-date. The kids even napped. Every day. And did I mention that while this was happening there were carpenters building cupboards in my room? (So perhaps I was so deep in busyness, I had no choice but to survive - it still counts).

So when I compare last week - when my cousin who's here from the UK stayed home with both boys and me one day, and Zac ran bloody circles around us - with today - when we had a productive and incident free morning, despite having two toddlers, a baby and a grandma to babysit - another kid or two can't be that bad. Can it?

Surely not. And perhaps my kids agree, because as I write this, both of them are asleep. Yes, you read right: both kids, sleeping, together, at the same time! Boom.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mommy Guilt is Real

The other night after frantically rushing around in a last minute attempt to prepare for Zac's birthday and non-party, it hit me, hard: Mommy Guilt is real.

It was late, and although Andel was home to help, the scene (and by scene I mean mess) that was my home still looked something like this: My kitchen was an explosion of baking paraphernalia, including a  flopped drum cake. I was covered in icing sugar and black food colouring - which, by the way, turned the icing purple, not black - that would not wash off, and simultaneously trying to keep track of a delayed flight, on a phone that kept crashing. Zac was watching the end of a 60-minute Disney Youtube video. Sam was screaming his head off, fiercely resisting any attempt by Andel to get him to sleep.

When I took Sam from Andel and cradled him in my dirty arms I suddenly just wanted to cry: I had totally neglected my infant to try create a confectionary masterpiece (more like mistake) for my toddler. And why? Just so I could say that I'd done it myself? Why did I feel the need to do that? (it's not even like it's that much cheaper than buying it from someone who could do it properly). As we dozed off together I comforted myself with the thought that perhaps I was over-emotional about it because I was tired and stressed. It made me feel a little bit better. Until the next morning.

Zac woke the next morning - his birthday - and looked at me with those doe eyes and wide smile, only to ask me for his beloved beebee. It just happened that, due to a bout of oral thrush I'd begun weaning him, and he hadn't drank for nearly a week. I battled with the temptation to let him feed one last time, and as I tried to convince him that as a newly three year old he no longer needed his beebee, my heart broke - and not for the only time that day. Later as I held him in my arms, his chest heaving with every strained breath, I could not stop thinking of the healing qualities of breast milk.
Damn that Mommy Guilt!

It's not that I didn't experience some guilt with one child, but since having two, it's becoming a daily thing. And I realize that I'll never win: being the imperfect, paranoid, proud person that I am, I'm always going to feel bad about something that I know I'm not doing well enough. It sucks, but is there really anything I can do to avoid it?

All I have is the present. I need to remember to take time every day to appreciate where I am right now; to savour every moment with my kids - even the tiring and tense ones - because I won't know it's the last one until it's done. And now that my big boy is three, I'm pretty sure there'll be plenty last ones - and plenty new ones - I need to make sure I don't miss...

Thank goodness for the perfect three year gap between my boys. If it weren't for the fact that I have a newborn to kiss and cuddle and love, all the emotion of Zac growing up and letting go would undo me completely.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Three Year Old Zac

Considering that you're completely into ABCs at the moment, I thought this year I'll use the letters of the alphabet to tell you about your current self.

A is for Afrikaans
You recently started repeating the things we say in Afrikaans. I've also heard you say your grace in Afrikaans. Of course, we don't know if you understand a word of what you're saying. Still, your little Afrikaaner accent is awfully cute!

B is for Big Brother
You really have taken to this new role. You adore Sam, and the first thing you do every morning (sometimes before you've even properly opened your eyes) is share some cuddles with him. You especially like to read him stories, and seem to be looking forward to all the mischief I'm sure you'll get up to together someday.

C is for Commitment
You don't do anything half-heartedly. You're intense and focused, and while this often leads to frustration when you can't get things right, your dedication and determination will stand you in good stead as you grow up.

D is for Drums
I genuinely thought you may be over this obsession by this birthday. Apparently not. You are more into this than ever before. You play drums on an app on my ipad, you play drums with your cutlery on the dinner table, you even play drums on your father and brother's heads. As a result we have given in and started saving for your first drum kit.

And Donuts. You love syrup donuts! When I was asking you about birthday cakes last week you said "no thank you. Just get door-nuts".

E is for Ethan
I suppose we always knew, being born just three months apart, that you two were going to hit it off. You two can have some pretty physical encounters (a punch for a punch and all that), but you'd be lost without each other. I so enjoy listening to your interesting conversations, and see you hug and high five each other at the end of every school day.

F is for Fish
I'm thrilled to announce that you seem to be over this phase. I did not have to make a single sea-themed anything for this year's celebrations, and Nemo is finally getting some rest out of the dvd player.

G is for Grown Up
You're growing up so fast. You're so independent, just this morning you said "you don't need to hold me Mommy", and I realized my time babying you is over. You're making your own decisions (including what to wear which is why you sometimes look a little mismatched), attempting challenges on your own, and going to school next year. Where has the time gone?

H is for Health
This year has probably been your best in terms of health. You've been growing well (you've finally outgrown your 18 - 24 month clothing), and your chest seems to have eased up a lot. I'm so grateful for your life and health, and am so happy to see you enjoying it to the full.

I is for Intelligence
You are seriously smart. I know everyone is going to think I'm bias because I'm your mother, but really: I don't know any other child who at two years old could identify a hexagon! You're particularly into ABCs, numbers, shapes and colours at the moment, and have recently learnt to write your name.

J is for Jet-Setter
Ok, not really, but you've done a little bit of traveling this last year - including a trip to the UK - and you were super fantastic at it! You're a great flyer, and that in itself is a gift to any parent!

K is for Kwaai
This word. Annie taught it to you, and much to my horror, you love it. Someone will show or tell you something, and if you like what you've seen/heard, you give them a thumbs up and say "kw-aai".

L is for Laugh
You've always had a pretty infectious laugh, and I'm happy to say that you still do. Your eyes scrunch up as you throw your head back, mouth wide open, and chuckle. It's one of my favourite sounds in the world.

M is for Memory
You seem to have a very good memory, and a lot of what you know, you have learnt using it. You're at a stage where you can remember large chunks of information. Currently you are able to recite the full armour of God and the end of Psalm 23. I love that (a) my speaking this over you has been ingrained into your memory, and (b) that you are now able to speak it over yourself.

N is for Naughty
I suppose all boys are naughty, so I won't make too big a thing of this. At the moment it can be cute (sometimes), but I certainly hope the terribly twos are nearing its end...

O is for Outdoors
You love to play outside. You ride your bike, pick up leaves, bring sand into the house (I'm still learning not to freak out about that all the time). You love to play sport, and happily run around laughing until your chest (literally) hurts. And you love the ocean. You still happily run straight from the car into the water - clothes and all!

P is for Particular
There's no denying, you're a strong-willed child. I see it every day in everything you do. You like things done a certain way, and have no problem making a point of it until things are done to your liking. You do your toast in triangles, your sarmies in squares; you eat butter on your Weetbix, and peanut butter off a spoon; you have your own seat at the table and drink milk (in a waterbottle) with your meals. Right now this particular trait is quite tiring, but secretly I like that you know what you want.

Q is for Questions
I suppose this comes with an enquiring mind, still, you ask a lot of questions. The word I've heard most often from you this past year must be "why?". And you don't accept any old answer. If you want more information you keep asking until your curiosity has been satisfied. Of course when the tables are turned and I ask you "why?" you simply tell me, "because."...

R is for Romantic
Okay, so maybe I'm projecting a little, but surely there's no way someone as loving and affectionate as you could not turn out to be a romantic? You're all about hugs and kisses...

S is for Singing
You love to sing and pretend to play an array of musical instruments. You have a seriously good musical ear, and coupled with your exceptional memory, you can easily repeat a song you've heard only one or two times. You regularly serenade us at home with your sweet voice, often running from one worship song to the next, but you never sing in public. I'm not sure what the story with that is.

T is for Tantrum
Boy can you throw a tantrum! You don't care where we are, or who we're with, if you feel you need to get my attention - or don't like the specific attention I have given you - you can jump straight into a full-blown meltdown: a dramatic collapse, accompanied by open-mouth crying and large crocodile tears! I have noticed that, lately, you are more able to verbalise your frustrations, and so I'm hoping that these tantrums will subside.

U is for Underpants
At two and a half you decided you were ready to be toilet trained. I say 'you decided' because that's exactly how it went down. We got back from Ireland, and you potty trained in three days - without me pushing for it. As a result you now wear the cutest, tiniest little undies.

V is for Vroom
You're a boy's boy, alright. You're all into cars and planes and trains and buses. It's one of the things I enjoy about being a boy-mama. You still regularly sit on Anno's lap and pull the cars into the driveway. To think you've been doing this since the night before your first birthday... Maybe next year Anno will let you try it alone ;)

W is for Weaning
Unbeknown to many, you only stopped nursing for a while when I was pregnant and had no milk. However, just before Sam's arrival you just wanted to comfort 'feed', and I wanted to avoid sore, cracked nipples, so I allowed it. Anyway, tandem feeding was not something I ever wanted to - or thought I would ever need to - do. As it turns out though, some oral thrush from Sam has meant you can't feed at the moment, and so it appears that perhaps, as you turn three, you'll no longer need or want your beloved "beebee".

X is for XX (as opposed to XY)
I'll never forget the day I came home from hospital with Sam: you sat next to me on the bed, looking adoringly at Sam, and randomly asked "and where's my sister". And you've not let up since then. If you're serious about this one, you're going to have to speak to Anno.

Y is for YouTube
Imagine you had been a nineties baby - or even early twenty-first century - you would have a lot more difficulty getting to all those videos and songs you like. But, you have been born in the age of the internet, and so you're savvy with all things technological. You know the different apps, their different functions, and are able to type in "abc" to get to the songs you want. The one thing you don't yet fully get is wifi: and so when you're watching something and we leave a wifi zone, you sometimes proceed to throw one of those above-mentioned tantrums.

Z is for Zac
You are so unique. You are this crazy blend of Anno and me, and while there certainly are a few things from my side that I wish you didn't inherit/pick up, I see so much life and adventure and potential in you. There isn't anything about you that isn't there for a purpose, and I can't wait to see that purpose unfold.

I looked at you this morning: my big boy, not a trace of baby left, and I could not be prouder to be called your Mama...

Happy Birthday x

Thursday, 11 June 2015

31 Random Things about Me

A few years back something like this was going around on social media, and I really enjoyed reading about my friends. So I thought a post like this would be a good way for you to catch up with me, and see how well you really know me...
  1. I can't sleep with dirty feet or teeth. At the very least I have to clean them (my feet) with a wet wipe, and swirl some mouthwash in my mouth before I get into bed.
  2. While pregnant with Sam I started eating red meat for the first time in 15 years.
  3. I hate toilet spray that smells of food stuff. Strawberries and Cream is my worst!
  4. When I was 13 years old I led worship with Matt Redman while he was on tour in Cape Town.
  5. I'm not a very good cook, but I do enjoy baking and decorating.
  6. If I had the chance, I would totally do school/uni over again (I'm a bit of a nerd like that).
  7. I am an avid Man United fan, and once, when I was in the UK, was invited to a training session. Sadly I couldn't go as it was in another city the day before my flight back to SA (we tried changing my ticket and everything).
  8. I always knew I'd marry an "Andy". Granted, for a while there I was hoping for Andy Roddick...
  9. I've witnessed a miracle healing on a bus back to Cape Town from Youth Week in Magaliesberg. It was amazing!
  10. I have an eidetic memory.
  11. I reckon I'm borderline OCD. I order my clothes (and laundry) in ROYGBIV, with all hangers in one colour, all facing the same direction.
  12. I love to read, and when I start a book usually finish it in a day or two.
  13. I only sleep on the left side of a bed - even if I'm alone in it.
  14. I was once in a reality tv show. I lasted 5 out of 10 weeks. It was a mix between Idols and Big Brother. I couldn't sing in public for a while after that.
  15. I'm a 'Grammar Nazi'.
  16. I love hotels. I think it's the pillows.
  17. My toenails are always painted, and they never clash with my finger nails. They're either painted the same colour, or they're nude/French manicured. And I do them myself - partly because I do a pretty decent job, and partly because I struggle to pay for it (probably because I can do a decent job).
  18. I change into pajamas when I get home from work/church - even if I'm going back out later.
  19. I fall asleep rubbing one foot over the other.
  20. At 16 years old while visiting a friend in the UK, to save money we slept on York train station one night.
  21. I have trichotillomania: an anxiety disorder characterized by pulling out strands of hair.
  22. I seriously love the sweet, sweaty smell of breastfed-baby poo.
  23. I play the piano and tin-whistle, despite not being able to sight read any music.
  24. I've always wanted four children: boy, boy, girl, boy.
  25. I have two degrees - one in Sport Science and one in Education - but I really wanted to be a doctor.
  26. If I had the finances and opportunity, I would be traveling the world with my family. I love a good holiday balance of relaxation and adventure.
  27. I'm terrible with grooming (it may be a result of a very sporty background) and really wish I could do my hair, apply make up, go for facials etc. 
  28. I always choose vanilla over chocolate.
  29. I love being pregnant, and have been blessed with two super easy and enjoyable pregnancies so far.
  30. My family is very close. I spend a lot of time with my siblings and their families, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  31. There probably isn't anything random about this list. I think I'm incapable of doing anything random.

Have a good day all!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Adjusting to Life with a Baby... Again

I was recently telling someone how my life has become this series of one clothe-washing/nappy-changing/dish-cleaning/breast-feeding activity after the other. And so, while it's not that I haven't had anything to say these past few weeks, I simply have not got round to jotting it down here. Is it not the craziest thing that while I was working full time, I had more time to blog than I do since being home all day, every day?

So, I think we're slowly getting into the swing of things since Sam's arrival. At least, I'm able to make it out of bed, shower (most days), and even get out of the house when I need to. We haven't gone hungry (yet), and somehow, despite the mess, we can still navigate our way around the house. One would think that, second time around, I wouldn't find the adjustment quite so disarming (or at least be better prepared for it), but the truth is, we forget.

In no particular order here are some of the best (and worst) baby adjustments I'd forgotten about:

Baby poo. Specifically breastfed-baby poo. That sweet, sweaty smell may be the death of me, I love it that much. Except when it's stained everything, including clothing, bedding and changing mat, yellow. Then I don't like it as much.

Personal hygiene. I'm the kind who can't go to bed with dirty feet. Just two weeks ago as I was coming down with some hectic infection one night, I got out of bed and into the shower because my hair felt too dirty to sleep in. And yet, having a newborn inevitably means that you will wash less. Ironic that it's probably one of the times you want to wash more (in case you forget about the things your body goes through post birth, you can refresh you memory here), and yet, you simply get used to having the smell of spit up milk linger on you.

Nappy Changing. I'll shamefully admit that because I last changed nappies at the end of last year, with 6 hour intervals, Sam may have worn his nappies a little too long those first few days. Just so you know, babies need an average of 6 - 8 nappy changes per day, and I'm back onto that.

Sleep! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I'm not going to comment on the lack of sleep. I have actually been extremely fortunate to have a baby who only wakes once during the night, so I'm not going to complain. However, I have not always been able to nap with Sam during the day as I should (I blame having a husband and a toddler), and so when I've been exhausted, I have on more than one occasion, slept sitting up.

Bags. Who knew you need so many?! It's impossible for me to leave the house without at least two. And then some days I also have lunchbox cooler bag, carseat and carrycot too!

Psychosis. In the best way. I can waste HOURS looking at a sleeping Sam or Zac. I marvel at their tiny (or in Zac's case: not so tiny) features, breathe in their unique scent, and find comfort in the slow rise and fall of their chests.

The truth is: adjusting to life as a mom of two kids has been probably the most challenging thing I've done to date (I'm told that having subsequent children is easier, and I'm counting on that to persuade Andel to have some more of these monkeys). Two kids are double the responsibility with half the time. But they are also exponentially more love and laughter.

So yes, I'm constantly exhausted and hungry, walking around in my pyjamas, and in desperate need of some serious grooming. And still, I wouldn't have it any other way.