Waking

I love waking up. It’s something that happens very rarely, maybe once or twice a year. Okay, maybe three. Or four. But not more than half-a-dozen, I’m sure of it.
Right now you’re thinking “This chic is crazy”. And yes, I probably am a little, but not over this. So I guess I’d better explain myself.
I rarely ‘wake up’ because I’m always being ‘woken up’. Yes, there is a distinction. No, I never understood the distinction until I became a parent.
I absolutely LOOOOOOOOOVE waking up. The sensation of realising that you’re awake, and that you’ve slept, and that now that you’re awake you can tell that you’ve achieved this state of wakefulness all by yourself, and that you don’t have to immediately rush out of bed to attend a child, a pet, or other miscellaneous disturbance, but that you have the leisure to lie there for a minute, or two, or three, (or even maybe to go back to sleep again!) with noone demanding your time, your attention, your energy… Yes, I love waking up.
I have never owned an alarm clock. I have always been a ‘morning person’. I have always woken at 6, or before if I was anxious about anything. Those days are gone now. A pity, in a way, but I’d NEVER give up my kids just to get a few hours more sleep. The benefits far outweigh, and all that sort of stuff.
Take my mornings, now.
Most of them, say around 17 or 18 out of 20, I wake up when the door to my bedroom opens. It’s generally around 5.45am, and the house is dark and quiet. Mr 2 walks quietly past Hubby and around to my side of the bed. He then stands there with his hand on my shoulder or arm, until I put an arm around him. Or he climbs up next to me and lies down. He doesn’t make a sound. He’ll stay quiet, not moving. He won’t fall asleep. He’s just happy being hugged. And he stays with me ’til I take him out of the room.
My daughters never did that. Sure, they came in on the odd occasion, or they tried to, but it was always a ‘middle of the night’ thing, not a ‘I’ve woken up now and I know it’s morning but instead of playing with my toys in my room (which is what he used to do) I want to give you a hug until you’re ready to get up and play with me’.
I love that about my mornings. I know it’s a phase, and he’ll grow out of it quicker than I want him too, but right at the moment, his early morning cuddle trumps even ‘my waking up’.
And I love that.

Photo: Mr 2. Taken by the exceptional Greg Parsons.

Hand in hand

Miss 4 is my ‘Wha?Huh?’ child. Not because she asks questions constantly, but because that’s what everyone always says when they see us together.
I’m Eurasian. My hair is thick, straight, and very dark brown. I also have dark brown eyes, and olive skin that can get VERY olive when I’ve been in the sun. Miss 4, on the other hand, has wispy thin blonde hair, very blue eyes, and fair skin.
Exactly. My ‘Wha?Huh?!’ child.
Yes, she’s mine. Yes, she’s my husband’s. (It’s both amusing and disconcerting, just how many people – from strangers through to close friends – have insinuated that I’m a tramp, since she’s been born. The strangers, I admit, wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap. But acquaintances, friends, and close friends? Surely they’d know that Hubby and I’ve been happily married for over 16 years now…?!!) I don’t remember such insinuations ever happening beforehand. Plus, when you think about it, even alleged promiscuity doesn’t make sense. I gave birth to her but it’s ME that she DOESN’T look like!!?)
She also doesn’t have an ounce of my ‘perfectionist, cranky, must be done my way’ nature. She’s a cruisy kid who loves to laugh. She’s a beautiful dancer, but hopeless at singing in tune. A big fruit eater, she’s the healthiest of all my kids, and will probably be the largest, if the first few years of her life are anything to go by.
The other day, I was sitting in *my* chair (topic for another blog post, dear readers) and she was standing next to me, hand in my hand, while I was trimming her fingernails. I finished, then, as she does at least a dozen times a day, she said, “Hug and kiss, Mummy?” then proceeded to give me one of each.
I looked at her, looking up at me and smiling her gorgeous smile, those big blue eyes wide open and full of trust and innocence, and counted myself blessed. So blessed to have such a loving child. So blessed to have three loving children, who are happy and healthy and who enrich my life so completely.
How lucky am I to be hand in hand with such treasures. Thank you, Lord!

Photo: Greg Parsons. Great guy, brilliant photographer.

What I’m *hoping* digital babysitters are teaching my kids…

I bought Miss 7 an iPod Touch for Christmas. (For regular readers of my blog – yes, this was a recent addition to my ‘list’. It now includes “Get an iPod” next to the age “When you can read”. Yes, I am aware that this is out-and-out bribery. Hey, it works!)
So anyway, she loves it, and in her limited time in between sleeping, eating, school and the long drive there and back, she gets time to play on it. That is, when she’s not doing homework, playing on the computer or on the PS2.
Yes, I’m a bad mum. Maybe. You see, even though many parents, and even many, many more educators, would say that all that time in front of a screen is ‘bad’, I wonder if it is. Really.
What are the main arguments against kids in front of the screen? 1. Lack of physical activity. 2. Slow speech / language development. 3. Less socialisation; 4. addictive tendencies. Okay, so here are my answers to these:
1. My kids’ all-time-favourite place is the beach, closely followed by the playground or my neighbour’s pool. Given the choice, all three would hands-down go for the outside activity.
2. Hubby was worried about the effects of TV on our middle child. When she was 2, her favourite activity was watching TV (it was just a phase) and he pestered me with questions like ‘they say TV is bad for young kids, why are you letting her watch it all he time?’ (Not that I was, but he didn’t see that). When I explained that ‘their’ reason TV was so bad was because kids who watched TV learned fewer words than kids who didn’t watch so much,(apparently it’s a loss of approximately six new words per hour,) he stopped worrying. Although she was only two, she spoke like a four year old.
3. My kids socialize around the PS2 just the same way that other children socialize around their favourite family toy or object. Lessons in sharing, taking turns, winning and losing gracefully, not being bossy with each other, encouraging each other, coping with jealousy and the odd tantrum, helping each other, teaching each other, all come into play.
4. Addictive tendencies – this is a biggie for me, seeing as I’m a gambling addict myself. Miss 7 knows the words ‘addict’ and ‘addicted’ and understands the harm an addiction can cause. We were given the PS2 when she was 4 1/2 and she quickly got hooked playing ‘Nemo‘. At first she didn’t understand why I limited her playtime, but then one Saturday I let her play for as long as she wanted too. Five hours later, she was complaining of sore eyes and sore thumbs. It was a lesson she learned very quickly, that excess, even in the things that you love, can be bad. she also saw how her desire to play Playstation non-stop had cost her fishing time with Daddy, and that it was better to control her desire, rather than have her desire controlling her. (One smart cookie, that kid! And the best bit is… she teaches her siblings what she’s learned!)
So having thwarted – or at least, annulled in part – the objections, these are my hopes:
1. My children are learning to problem solve, by having to rely on themselves to work out how new games work. Hopefully, these problem solving skills will be transferrable to problems that they encounter IRL. They’re also problem solving in digital media that will undoubtedly be a huge part if their lives. And the strategies of dealing with disappointments and triumphs, will hopefully also be transferred.
2. Not so much on the PS2, but firstly with computer games and now with Apps, I am continually amazed at how quickly kids can learn the numbers, letters, sight words and sums. Yes, I have ‘game’ apps too, but most of my apps are maths based, word and alphabet based, and kids books. And they’re all free.
Miss 4 left the nurses at Nambour Hospital flabbergasted a couple of months ago. She was being wheeled in for surgery to remove the wires in her elbow, and she was correctly completing two digit sums on ‘Addition & Subtraction for kids‘. And she was only three. (Check out this App if you haven’t come across it yet – the fish that looks like Nemo works quite well at attracting the kids!)
I’d say, the way they’re going, both she and Mr 2 will be quite ahead-of-the-game when they start school. Well, maybe not ahead of the classmates who also have had similar exposure to such learning opportunities, but ahead-of-the-curriculum, at any rate!
3. My children are learning the value of ‘rewards for work’. Yes, Miss 7 and Miss 4 have spent a large chunk of the past few weeks (since the rain set in) on the PS2. But they’ve only had one hour ‘free’. The rest of the time, they’ve had to ‘earn’ it. Write a ‘story’, get half-an-hour. Complete a page in an activity book, get 20 minutes. Complete two hard pages, get an hour. And Miss 7’s iPod timer keeps us all accurate – and reinforces the mathematical ‘time’ concepts, too!
So, that’s it. My three ‘hopes’ for my digital babysitter’s teaching abilities. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have any more arguments for or against to add? I’d love to hear them!

Oh – and today’s photo is Miss 7 down at Caloundra. Taken by the incomparable Greg Parsons, photographer extraordinaire and all around great guy.

Family photos

Yesterday I wrote a post about my insanely busy week last week – and included a photo of my gorgeous three cherubs. This was the first time I have ever posted a photo of them – any of them – online, as I am paranoid when it comes to their security. I have asked all my family and friends to do likewise (to not post photos of my children, if they have them) and even emailing is something I am wary of.

To some, I know this sounds absolutely crazy, and I must be certifiably insane. To others, that I’m taking my role as their protector a little too far. To a few, such precautions are prudent. The world wide web is simply NOT a safe place, and although I hate to admit it, I know that there are some very poor children who have simply horrendous things done to them, and I want to keep my children as safe (and as innocent) as possible, for as long as possible. It would break my heart if I inadvertently was the cause of anything remotely close to their being in danger.

Reason being: I have cute kids. Yes, I know that every parent probably thinks that about their children, but in my opinion, they are really quite good-looking. I am Eurasian, which gives them slightly olive skin, high cheekbones, and cute button noses. Miss 7 has light brown hair and brown eyes. Miss 4 is blonde with blue eyes. Mr 2 has almost black hair, and eyes so dark brown they’re almost black. And I’d prefer for them to be in their late teens before they start posting identifiable photos of themselves online. They’re all listed with Faye Rolph models, and the girls have both had modeling jobs in the last 6 months (Miss 7 was in the Christmas Amart All Sports TV ad) but any identifiable photos which can be traced back to our address – or even any specific location – are a plain scary thought.

That being said, the photo of them yesterday was cute without revealing too much. And I liked that. They’re a huge part of my life, and I like writing about them. So I’ve decided to post more, similar, photos of them here. (They DO take a good photo, I must admit!) Today’s is the whole family, taken early last year. It’s probably my favourite photo ever.

Exhaustion plus.

Source: flickr.com via Jessica on Pinterest

Ever had one of those weekends when you finally get there and just ‘stop’?! Where your week has been just SOOOOOO busy that you haven’t had time to just sit? And you haven’t really noticed if you’ve eaten, or slept? Well, that’s been my week this week.

Starting last Saturday, I woke up sick. As in, the non-stop dry cough kind. Sunday, this became a back-ache so bad I could hardly move, and spent the day flat on my back. This is extremely unusual for me, a person who is often told that she ‘never stops’. I was actually really quite worried, because I knew how huge the coming week was, and I just didn’t know how I’d survive it all if I couldn’t even walk! But God is good, and I was able to stand by Sunday night, and walk again by Monday morning. Thankfully! But the upshot of a day in bed was that I read ‘People of Heaven’ by Beverly Harper, which was rather reminiscent of Bryce Courtenay’s writings about Peekay and Tandia. An interesting story, but I’m not sure whether the author should have included so much history ‘tacked on’ in places, without being directly relevant to the plot. Nevertheless, a good way to spend a day in which you can hardly move.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur of work, podiatry appointments, childcare, swimming lessons, driving, and non-stop rain. On Wednesday afternoon, I pulled Miss 7 out of school early, planning to buy school shoes at Athlete’s Foot, Morayfield… only to discover that their store had closed, and the closest was at Caloundra. So the kids played with my iPhone camera while we waited in line at BUPA, to get some of the huge amounts of money back from the Podiatry appointment. And be yet more disappointed, because our Health Cover didn’t do much covering. And yet again, it was a day of poor health choices food-wise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday was Australia Day. A day of not ‘having’ to go anywhere. When asked that morning, I had told Hubby that I wanted to spend the day hanging pictures, now that I had finally bought myself a Wall Stud Finder. Instead, seeing as the rain had stopped, we took the kids to a crowded Kings Beach Pool, ate a fish-and-chips lunch, then took a lovely long drive. Mr 2 immediately fell asleep, and the girls played with home-made ‘helicopters’ made out of sandals and sunnies. Quite cute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rain returned that night, so on Friday morning I changed my plans and spent the day at home. It was splendiferous. Hubby and Miss 7 eventually made it to school, but not before being caught in the parking lot that was the Bruce Highway southbound, at Caboolture. And I caught up on work. Housework. Laundry. Dishes. Hanging those pictures. Filing. Blogging for Bloxham Marketing. Oh – and playing with iBooks Author, now that I’d upgraded to the Lion OS and lamented my touchpad now going backwards.

So. That was my week. Huge. And now I get to stop. Hooray!!!!!

School’s in for another year!

It’s Monday, January 23rd. 5.19am because that’s just how I do it in my little corner of the world. Apparently. At least, when I’ve gotten up three times to two different children (and of course Mr 2 just so happens to be running a fever again) and I have a huge morning ahead of me.
Firstly, school’s back. Miss 7 will experience Grade 2 for the first time. Miss 4 is excited about being in the Preschool room at the nearby ABC child care centre, and Mr 2 doesn’t know anything about it yet but he probably won’t be particularly happy when he finds out that he’ll be there as well.
The lunches are made. The bags are packed. We need to do the breakfast bit, the uniform bit, the strapping into carseats bit, and then the driving bit. At the other end, it’s the unstrapping of carseats and the unwrapping of Mr 2’s little arms from around my legs and the dropping-off of Miss 7 to the undercover area where she is supervised with all the other ‘early’ kids while I speak to the staff about their role in my week 1 internal marketing plan, which kicks off at 8.40am sharp, and goes hell-for-leather for these three mornings. Which is why my younger two need childcare this week, when normally they would be with me. (It’s just getting SO darn expensive, don’t you think?)
Anyway, I’m writing all this in the peace and quiet before my family awakes and the game is on. Oh wait, hang on… A bedroom door is opening…

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Children, animals, and the joys (?!) of combining the two

Children love animals, I’ve noticed. Well, mine do, at any rate. I probably shouldn’t speak for others’! But my three kids ADORE animals, and would make each one that they encounter, a ‘pet’, if they could. But they can’t. Because of me.
You see, I’m a middle child. Of three. Who had always promised herself that she would never have an odd number of children. (Whoops! That one didn’t work out too well, did it?!!) and something else I had decided in my pre-kid days, was that I would try my utmost to keep things fair in my parenting. To keep it consistent.
To that end, when I was pregnant with Miss 7 all those years ago, I sat down and wrote out a list. The ‘ages and stages’ at which things would happen. How much pocket money, how often, at what age, and for what types of chores. When they would be allowed to get their ears pierced. When they would be allowed to go out with their friends, with no adult supervision. When they would start cooking a weekly meal for the family. That sort of list. And also on the list was ‘when they could get their first pet’.
As they have grown, we have often spoken about the list, and they enjoy adding to it when they want something but know that they’re still too young. Thus ‘going in the chicken pen by myself’ (a desperate ‘need’ when she was just 4) Miss 7 gave an ‘age 6’ and ‘driving a tractor’ (again – Wha? Huh?!) got 18, and so on. And because these new additions to ‘the list’ are negotiated prior to being written down, everyone’s happy, knowing that the same rule applies to everyone.
It’s the rules that I made up, so many years ago now, that appear to be a sticking point. Rules like: ‘first (individual) pet when you turn 13’. Because, as I’ve blogged before, my children all receive pocket money (well, from the age of 3, so Mr 2 won’t start getting any for a couple of months yet) and it’s really quite difficult to say ‘no’ to a pet when they can save up and buy one themselves, if they’re disciplined enough. And Miss 7 is.
When she was 5, the nagging started. “Please, Mummy, can I buy a pet? Please?! I really want a pet!” ad nauseum, with all the promises of ‘taking care of it’ thrown in. She wasn’t satisfied with the ‘we have family pets’ argument, and – let’s face it – she was determined enough to save up sufficient pocket money. So I caved, and at the grand age of five-and-a-half, she became the proud owner of ‘Snappy’, a Venus Fly Trap. Apparently Snappy was a girl, although I’m still unsure to this day whether carnivorous plants are gender-specific. She lasted a week. She drowned, literally, in too much love.
Devastated, Miss 5 wanted something hardier, so she begged until I submitted and allowed her a fish. So she started saving, and paid for tank, filter, pebbles, food, and fish out of her own pocket. Really, with such diligence, how could I not reward her!? And several months ago, she became a pet owner once again.
Whitey, the goldfish, is now a prized possession. And the lessons on responsible pet ownership were learned quickly and with good grace, on the most part. But try as I might, I couldn’t convince her that she was feeding Whitey too much.

“Why does my fish tank need cleaning more than yours does?” “Because you feed your fish too much” was met with disbelief. Perhaps too much reading of “A fish out of water” by Helen Palmer – a favourite story, with illustration at the top of this post – had convinced her that she could feed Whitey lots, and he wouldn’t grow like the fictional Otto had. Nevertheless, Miss 6 continued to feed him a large pinch of fish food, twice daily, and by the time we were decorating the house for Christmas, Whitey had grown fat and difficult to see in his often dirty tank.

Two days ago, Miss 6 turned into Miss 7 and, as Whitey’s tank needed cleaning, I asked her if she would like me to do it. (It’s normally a job we do together.) Of course, she said yes, so I cleaned the tank, remarking on Whitey’s weight, and comparing him to Max, our very old and sadly, very fat Labrador who we buried just three weeks ago. I reiterated her need to feed him less.
Yesterday, Miss 7 was looking at Whitey’s tank, when she called me into her room.”Mummy, I can see what you mean now! Whitey’s fat, isn’t he? I think I need to feed him less. Will he ever lose weight?” An answer in the affirmative had her smiling. Then she added, “And he keeps on decorating his tank with lots of poo. Look at it all!”

I had to laugh. Lesson learned, maybe?