MOBILE

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I remember back to when my kids were just learning to walk. They would bump into things and were often covered in bruises. I wondered how I could keep them safe as they became mobile. Fast forward a few years and they learnt to ride a bike. I would run along behind them holding their bike seat as they wobbled, trying to get the knack of riding. They wore a helmet to protect them and I was there to grab hold of the bike if it careered towards a tree or pole. 

Now my eldest daughter has turned sixteen and has just got her learner’s permit to drive. Imagine the fear and worry you have over your child riding a bike for the first time and magnify it one hundred fold to feel what it is like to be the passenger in a car as your child takes to the roads for the first time. Easing the accelerator and brake on is a finely tuned art, as is turning on an indicator whilst preparing to turn a corner.

I must admit, I wasn’t the calmest of tutors when my voice rose an octave or two as I screamed at my daughter that when I say ‘stop’, I mean then and not as we are teetering on the edge of an embankment. I had to grab the wheel a few times to correct the car from being half up on the curb and half on the road. Furthermore, it took three attempts to park the car in the driveway (thankfully we were on a quiet one way street).

It seems that whatever stage your child is at in life, there are dangers lurking that can harm your child for the slightest error in judgement. The problem is now I’m literally along for the ride, holding my breath, hoping my daughter gets the knack of turning a corner without cutting it whilst also learning all those other fine skills that become second nature as we become experienced drivers.

I think back to the fear I had when she was learning to ride a bike and how she managed to master that without too many accidents. Now I hope wholeheartedly, like that learning process, she will soon be able to take to the road and drive safely, avoiding damage to herself, my car and of course, me!

 

 

 

ONE PRESENT

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On Christmas Day my kids are spoilt beyond all reason. My husband and I are both one of four kids, so not only do they get gifts from Santa, us, friends and two sets of grandparents, they also get gifts from six sets of aunts and uncles. 

The day is an over abundance of receiving and the more they receive, the less impact each gift seems to have. 

Last night I did something I’ve never done before. I suggested to my husband that we give each of the kids one major present early so they could really appreciate it.  

We gathered the kids around the Xmas tree and they were all very suspicious. In fact the girls asked whether we were planning a ‘Jimmy Kimmel prank’ where we videoed them receiving a really lame gift.

We assured them that we genuinely wanted to give them each a gift. The excitement and honest appreciation for that one gift far surpassed the reaction we have seen on previous Christmas Days when they have been inundated with presents.  

I did however make the mistake of giving them their gift just before bedtime, which of course delayed them getting to bed as each of them wanted to try out their new gift. 

Each gift was as diverse as the child and this morning they have all woken up and immediately used their presents. It is so lovely that this one gift has already brought so much joy. I just hope on Christmas morning they can show as much appreciation for the pile of gifts they receive as they have for this one early present.

 

 

 

(Picture courtesy of aeopsan at freedigitalphoto.net)

MORE THE MERRIER

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Today I have a household full of kids. Strangely enough, there is more harmony with ten kids playing than there is when just my four kids are hanging out.

I know some people would feel flustered with so many kids at their place, but I truly believe that if everyone has someone to play with, then it is actually easier than just having your own kids. We are lucky enough to have the room for each of the kids to find an area to hang out, but funnily enough they all choose to congregate together outside – swimming in the pool, jumping on the trampoline and relaxing on the sun lounges listening to music. We are lucky to have a beautiful sunny day today and the kids are making the most of it, enjoying each other’s company and the chance to wind down after a full-on year.

I know that if I didn’t have any young guests over, my kids would probably be holed up inside watching television and playing on their phones! In a nutshell, not only is it more harmonious to have extra kids over, it is healthier for my kids.

I love the fact that my kids have such lovely friends and that they choose to hang out at our place. In years to come, I’m sure it will be considered ‘uncool’, so for now I’ll listen to the squeals and laughter of a multitude of kids and be satisfied that my kids are wearing themselves out, hopefully wanting to go to bed early tonight (okay, that is probably unrealistic, but one can wish!).

 

 

 

 

(Picture courtesy of digitalart at freedigitalphoto.net)

 

 

 

 

 

RECYCLING

My kids love this time of year, as we receive packaged items in the lead up to Christmas. What I see as packaging, they see as materials for projects!

Yesterday we had a delivery of some new outdoor furniture. Each chair had a black plastic sleeve over it for protection.  I removed these and asked my son to put them in the bin. When I came inside after setting up the new furniture I found all the plastic tubes taped together to make a long bendy pipe. My kids have turned this packaging into an ‘intercom’, which is hilarious given we actually have an intercom already. This ‘intercom’ allows more privacy than our electronic one as you can whisper into it and the person at the other end can still hear you. At first I thought it was cute, but after spending a day almost tripping over it, I’m really ready to retire the ‘intercom’ to the bin. I’m sure people at the top of the rubbish pile at the tip would like to talk with privacy to those at the bottom!

The cardboard that came as packaging has been cut up and turned into many weird and wonderful things. My daughter is currently making a cardboard Xmas wreath with painted pegs to hold Christmas cards. Again, very cute, but man she can make a mess when painting!

Even the little protective foam blocks inside a box have been kept and are currently being used as little ‘Christmas snow flakes’. How endearing (unless scattered all over your floor!) 

When we are encouraged to recycle, I’m not sure if this is what they had in mind! I love that the kids are creating their own fun and using their creativity, but I just wish it didn’t involve my house looking like a dump! As the saying goes, ‘Excuse the mess, my kids are making memories!’

 

 

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(Photo of our ‘intercom’ and kids doing craft at the kitchen table)

 

INDEPENDENCE

From the moment you have a child, every parent struggles with trying to give their kids the correct amount of independence, whilst still making sure they are safe.

It starts when they are toddlers and you have to give them space to explore their surroundings without injuring themselves too much. Then the time comes when they start school and you have to trust them to walk to their classroom by themselves. Tiny steps of independence are given, all the while still keeping an eye on them from a safe distance.

What age is it okay to let your children go to a public toilet on their own? When can they catch public transport by themselves? When can they use social media?

Parenting is a constant juggle between wanting to protect your children and letting them grow up. 

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Today I have let my two teenage girls catch the train to town by themselves for the first time ever. I know that if I don’t give them the tools to be independent when they grow up and leave school, they won’t have any life skills. Having said that, I still worry that they will get on the wrong train, get harassed or feel stressed from being in a situation with which they are completely unfamiliar. I will certainly be relieved when they arrive home again this afternoon!

Part of me wants to wrap them up in cotton wool and keep them in a time warp, never to leave home; whilst another part can’t wait for them to have the fun and exciting adventures that come with growing up.

I wonder whether you ever get to a point of not worrying about your kids? I don’t think you do! I think that the things you worry about change and evolve, but with love comes concern and as long as you love your kids, there will always be an element of anxiety over their safety. 

(Photo courtesy of tongdang – freedigitalphoto.net)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

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A few years ago, when my youngest daughter was at that age when any reference to poo, farts and toilets was all the rage, she took to altering a Christmas carol to sing ‘All I want for Christmas is poo!’

She thought she was so clever and that it was hilarious. So funny in fact, that she sang it ad-nauseum for days leading up to Christmas. Her older sisters pleaded with her to be quiet, but she continued on singing in a loud voice for all to hear. 

So on Christmas Eve, my older daughters decided that if all she wanted for Christmas was poo, that they would answer all her wishes. They secretly went next door to our neighbours and collected some dog poo that was on their lawn. They put it in a plastic bag by the back door; ready to swap this sack of feces for the Santa sack on the end of her bed once she went to sleep. Thankfully they were sent to bed before she went to sleep and forgot to do the exchange. Can you imagine being a 7 year old girl waking on Christmas day to find a sack of sh*t was all that Santa had left you! 

When I went outside the following morning, I wondered what the stench was at our back door. I opened the plastic bag left there to find its contents were dog poo – not the best way to start Christmas! I disposed of the bag and wondered where on earth it had come from – what sicko leaves a bag of poo on your doorstep???

It was only later that morning that I heard the older girls lamenting that they had forgotten to make their little sister’s wish come true by giving her poo for Christmas, that I understood why this mystery bag was at the back door.

So my message today is a clear one – be careful what you wish for this Christmas, because you just might get it!

 

PS. I dare you to now listen to Mariah Carey singing ‘All I want for Christmas’ without subliminally changing the word to poo. Heaven knows that song is ruined for me for life!

 

 

 

(Picture courtesy of Victor Habbick, Freedigitalphoto.net)

SPOTTO

As I pack the car to head off for a few days at a farm stay, I am thinking about how the kids will be amused on the trip there and home

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It occurred to me that there is not enough recognition for those selfless people out there who purposely purchase ugly bright yellow cars to provide entertainment to kids on car trips. My kids can’t drive past a yellow car without yelling ‘Spotto’. Where this game began and how it became part of everyday car trips is a mystery to me, but if it keeps the kids focused on something other than elbowing their siblings then I’m more than happy to play.

When there is a drought in yellow cars, we play the number plate game, making up silly sentences out of the letters on number plates, eg. GEB may be Giants Eat Boogers; Go Easy Baboon or Gassy Echidnas Burp!

Another favourite game we play with the kids to pass the time on car trips is the ‘Yes and No’ game. It’s simple, you ask them questions and talk to them. If they say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ (or yeah, nup, aha etc) they are out. To put a modern spin on it for our teenagers, I add in the word ‘Like’. It is such a huge effort for them to not use this word, as like, you know, it’s like, really hard to think of like, words other than that!!!

When we are really bored, we play the number game (I’m thinking of a number between one and one hundred). The winner is the one who takes the least guesses to get the number.

By the time we have made it through these games, it is time to put on a movie to distract the kids for the rest of the journey.  I guess the old adage, ‘Time flies when your having fun,’ is true, because travelling with children in the confined space of a car without any distraction drags on interminably! 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)

THE SANTA PHOTO TRADITION

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First and foremost I have to admit, I’m a Christmas tragic! I love everything Christmas from buying the presents, to decorating the house with the family, listening to Christmas carols and having our extended family come to our house to share the day. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I still get my kids to have their obligatory Santa photo each year.

It started when my eldest (now 16) was just 1 week old. I took my newborn baby girl to be cuddled by Santa. She ended up a crumpled mess and I think poor Santa had no idea how to hold such a tiny infant. The photo wasn’t that great, but the memory behind our baby’s first Christmas was something I wanted to capture.

Fast forward a few years and another child down and my second daughter had an aversion to the scary old man sitting on the big red chair. That year I had to sit on Santa’s chair with the two girls on my lap, whilst Santa popped his head over the backrest of the chair, out of sight of my kids.

By the time we had four kids, getting the photo was a logistical feat. One or two would sit on Santa’s lap, whilst the older two would perch themselves on the arms of Santa’s chair, trying to look happy as the photographer did tricks with squeaky toys to get them to look in his general direction.

Now my kids think it is lame that I still want to get their photo with Santa, but they humour me, as I’m such a Christmas tragic. We just have to drive to a shopping centre 1 ½ hours away from home where there is no chance they will run into someone they know. Last year we had a prolonged wait in the cue to see Santa, whilst toddlers that reached up to my kids knees, alternated between laughing and giggling to throwing themselves down on the floor in protest. My kids probably sympathised more with the latter group of kids, but stood there patiently so we could get our two minutes with the jolly old man.

A friend took her young kids to have Santa photos this week. Poor Santa wasn’t feeling so merry and had a meltdown, yelling at the photographer elf that she was a ‘b****’ before storming off.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly tired old Santa (whose wife probably signed him up for the gig as a bit of fun!) 

I have earmarked the weekend before Christmas to go away so I can find a remote shopping centre to get this year’s photo. I can’t wait to see relief wash over Santa’s face as he realises he won’t have to pretend to be jolly to get infants to smile at the camera. I know the years of getting this traditional Santa photo are very limited, so I will treasure this year’s pic and ad it to the fifteen others that I have tucked away for safe keeping. It is quite amazing that as my kids get older each year, Santa doesn’t seem to age – he truly must be magic!

 

 

(photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net – I was going to post a photo of my kids, but given the extent we go to, to ensure no-one sees them getting their photo taken, I didn’t think my teenagers would take kindly to me uploading their photo with Santa)

LAST DAY

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Today is my last day of freedom for eight weeks, as my children finish school for the year. Overnight I will transform into a taxi driver, entertainment co-ordinator and ATM.  

As the kids finish up their school year, I have been reflecting upon how much they have grown (physically and emotionally) over the year.  A great deal of this increased maturity can be attributed to the attention given to them from their teachers.

It takes a special type of person to be a schoolteacher as they take on the role of nurturing, guiding and educating kids. I help in the classroom on occasion and as much as I think it is really worthwhile, I also can’t wait until the allotted time is up and I am relinquished of my duty to oversee twenty enthusiastic (and some not so enthusiastic) children.

I think it is an amazing feat that the teacher can even be heard over the kids. I’m particularly in awe of the teacher’s simple clap of the hands that transforms the room into a quiet space where the children listen to her requests. Maybe I should have mastered the special clap to get my kids to listen to me at home, but perhaps that magic only works in a classroom.

Our school sends home not only a report at the end of the year, but a portfolio of the kids work as well.  The portfolio gives us a great insight into the changes in the style and quality of our kids work from the beginning of the year until the end. It’s lovely to have a keepsake to look back on as they grow up.

So today I would like to pay tribute to all the hard working teachers out there. Thank you for helping to educate the next generation and for entertaining them all year long. You deserve a well-earned break! As I take over the reins of amusing my kids all day, every day for the next eight weeks, I hope that all teachers have a relaxing holiday, so that they can return with vitality and vigour to fill our kids brains with wonderment and knowledge in the new year.

 

 

CAUGHT OUT

Yesterday I had to take one of my daughters to her basketball game and left my 16 year old daughter in charge of my youngest two kids. My younger kids don’t always like to take direction from their older sister, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got home.

Well I must admit, of all the scenarios I thought were possible, this is something that I hadn’t expected.  When I got home the house was quiet, which is something as a parent you are always a bit suspicious about! I then located my eldest daughter watching over her siblings playing in the backyard.

It wasn’t until later in the day that it became apparent what they had been up to in the afternoon. I heard chords being played on the piano – chords to a song that my 11 year old plays all the time, yet this time the playing wasn’t as polished. I glanced at the piano to see why she was tripping over the chords and discovered it was my 16 year old playing. While I had been out, my youngest daughter had taught her older sister how to play this song. I was amazed that they had spent time together (without parental instruction) playing music. What makes this even more special is that later last night, my 11 year old picked up a guitar and started to play chords to a song her eldest sister had taught her in return. 

Every now and again it is heartening to know that our kids support and encourage each other, even when we don’t make them. It is so nice to have caught them out actually being nice to each other, when so often we see the petty squabbles over who got a larger glass of juice or whose turn it is to ride in the front seat of the car.

Of all the scenarios I thought might have been waiting on my return from basketball yesterday; I hadn’t ever expected that they would have been having fun imparting their musical knowledge to each other.  Sometimes something so trivial can make for the loveliest surprise!

 

When have you caught out your kids doing something nice for each other?

 

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