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How to Christmas when you don’t feel like Christmasing

This Christmas, I received some devastating news – that a close relative had passed away. One of the hardest obstacles in parenting is having to parent when you absolutely do not feel like parenting. And on Christmas day, this is even more so. I learned a lot this Christmas, on how to enjoy something and put on a brave face when all you want to do is crumble. The lesson on how to be a pillar when all you want to be is the floor.

Our Christmas Day started out like all others, so much fun and excitement! I was awake at 6am, waiting for the sound of Princess’s bedroom door opening and her feet scurrying up the hallway and into the lounge. She woke at 6:30, ran down the hallway and screamed, “OH MY GOSH MUM AND DAD AND BOYCHILD AND BABYGIRL GET UP SANTA HAS BEEN OH MY GOSH SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE”.

BoyChild, bless him, crawled into bed next to Mr T and called out, “Princess! Go back to sleep!”.

Princess wasn’t having it, and so within ten minutes we were all in the living room, Mr T and I sleepily sipping coffee while watching chaos ensue.

Lot’s of “OH WOW” and “OH MY GOODNESS” and “OHHHHHHHH COOOOOL”. It was a fantastic, special time!

Sure enough, by 8:00am, all the presents were open and the kids were happily playing in their respective corners. Mr T went back to bed due to having a mild case of ManFlu and I sat down to relax.

And then the phone rang.

Losing a loved one on any day is a shock. Losing a loved one on Christmas day is something else altogether. The conversation was along the lines of, “I hope you are having a lovely Christmas, however … “. I hung up the phone and went into our bedroom and cried. I cried so much that poor Mr T had no idea what was wrong. I got it out eventually, and we just held each other and I cried some more. Thank heavens the kids were too engrossed in their new toys to follow me into the bedroom.

I got up and had a shower, all of my Christmas energy drained from me in an instant. Why did I have a shower? I don’t know if you realise, but a shower is an ideal place to cry. When you have kids, you don’t want to cry too much in front of them, because it can be quite distressing. So I shower when I need a really good cry.

When I got out of the shower, I sat on my bed and gathered myself. This was, first and foremost, Christmas Day for the kids, and we needed to make sure the kids would still get their day.

We told Princess what had happened, because she would no doubt have caught on to the mood of the day anyway. She is very matter-of-fact about death, she talks about it freely and often refers to her “old, old nana” (her great-nan) who passed away a few years ago. She says, quite simply, that when people die, they become stars. I love that description.

As family gathered at our house (as we had planned anyway), there was a mixed mood of sombre tones and Christmas celebrations.

There were parts throughout the day where even us grown-ups would get caught up in the fun celebration and forget, momentarily, the cloud that was hanging above us. And then we would remember, and the walls would crumble once more. Planning a funeral on Christmas Day is not something I ever want to be a part of, and I have the utmost sympathies for my family members who had that responsibility.

And so we went on. We gave the kids the Christmas we had been building up towards for weeks and weeks, while carrying a heavy weight of grief on the inside.

Once the kids were tucked happily into bed that night, cuddling their new toys, tummies filled up with great food and, more realistically, lots upon lots of lollies and chocolate (I’m pretty confident that that is ALL BoyChild ate) and dreaming of their wonderful day, I sat down and let it all become me.

I put my feet up, I sat with a cup of tea, and I reflected. I didn’t cry, but I just sat.

I’m off to the funeral in a few days, so I’ve got the next few days to keep myself busy with the post-Christmas clean up. The house is nearly back to it’s normal chaotic state (as opposed to the mega chaos of Christmas Day) and the kids are getting back into their regular routine. And still, as with each passing day, I find myself forgetting once more and getting on with the day. And then, remembering, and finding myself getting overwhelmed with the emotion of it.

Princess and BoyChild say they had an awesome Christmas Day, which is heart warming. And I hope their next Christmas is just as grand. Even though, from hereon in, Christmas Day will, for our family, always be a double edged sword.

 

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’twas the night before Christmas

And here we are .. and so this is Christmas …

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The reindeer food is sprinkled on the lawn – a lovely mix of cornflakes, rolled oats and glitter. BoyChild also helpfully threw a bunch of carrots onto the lawn “for the ray, dear” (which I retrieved quickly. I need those for my salad tomorrow!).

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The children, in their sweet matching Xmas pyjamas (though not entirely appropriate given that the pjs are long and it’s a balmy night here tonight!), laid out the food for Santa and his reindeer. Three cookies (dairy free, incidentally!), a glass of milk (in previous years it’s been Coke Zero but since this Mumma has stopped drinking that, conveniently so has Santa!) and some carrots for those reindeer (not the ones intended for my salad!), and then three more cookies since the original three mysteriously disappeared. Mere seconds after the plate was laid out, a fight broke out (because BoyChild put the cookie in front of the milk, or something?) and milk was spilled all over the presents. Never mind, no crying over spilled milk. See what I did there?

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The kids planted their red-and-white jellybeans, scattered with glitter, which will magically grow into candy canes in the morning (provided the “fairies” remember. They forgot last night and had to do it discreetly at 7am this morning).

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And now, at nearly-10pm, all three lovely children are fast asleep. Mr and Mrs T are just about ready to set out the presents, fill up the stockings, and head to bed.

Because, according to Princess, we will be getting up at ONE IN THE MORNING TO OPEN PRESENTS.

Plot twist – we won’t be. No siree bob.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!! Wishing you all a very safe and happy Christmas xo

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Today we did nothing. It was great.

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It’s now four sleeps till Christmas and things are getting pretty chaotic. Our lives seem filled-to-the-brim with commitments, BBQs, shopping trips, play dates and all sorts of other things like that. It’s really easy at this time of year to forget that sometimes, doing simply nothing is both relaxing and therapeutic. In fact, I think it’s essential for kids to have a day where there are no plans.

Today was that day.

Last night we were out at a friend’s BBQ (or, adorably, Bar-Ke-Kew as BoyChild says) and got home around 8pm. Since school broke off on Wednesday, we’ve been out until well-past-bedtime almost every night. Doing nothing today wasn’t my intention for the day – it just kind of happened that way.

Princess woke up at (somewhere around) 7am. I’m not 100% certain of the time, only that she came into the room and said iPad was flat so I went and found the charger, plugged it into the plug next to her bed, and flopped back asleep in my own bed again. (While I don’t feel like I need to justify myself, I do feel like mentioning at this point that I was up and down all through the night with BabyGirl and BoyChild, so I was fairly exhausted).

BoyChild didn’t wake until 8:30am which is fantastic. Granted, he was in my bed so I was awake from 8am (he gets quite “kicky” in his last half hour of sleep. His foot seems to just gravitate to my kidneys). Mr T phoned us from his work at 9am because he hadn’t heard from me and was concerned that we weren’t ok (bless him) and that phone call is what dragged me from bed.

I made the kids toast and did something quite unusual for me – I turned on the TV. I don’t know the last time I watched TV in the mornings. But there I sat, happily in the rocking chair (still in my nightwear) and drank my coffee. Even more unusually, BoyChild and Princess just sat near me (but not so near that I cringed) and ate their breakfast while playing quietly. Individually. Without the need to scrap and snatch and scream at each other. I KNOW.

And, there we sat. We chatted. We watched TV. We laughed. We cuddled. And then Glee came on so we danced and sang like crazy during the songs, and sat the rest of the time, discussing every iota of plot change in the episode (“Why are they at High School? Why is his nose pointy? Why did that lady cry?”)

BabyGirl didn’t wake until 10:30am, and she was a bit sad when she got up, but two pieces (TWO PIECES) of toast fixed that and, before I knew it, she also was sitting there, playing quietly and just … doing nothing.

We chatted some more. We danced some more. When Glee finished, we changed the channel to MTV Christmas Songs and danced and sang like crazies.

Mr T got home from work at 1pm. The house was a complete tip, we were all still in our nightwear. But, we were all happy. Crazy happy. Genuinely happy. And, you know what? It set the tone for the entire day. We went out in the afternoon and the kids were amazingly behaved (don’t worry, we got dressed first).

I think, especially at this time of year, it’s really easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the things we “have” to get done, the things we “need” to do. When, sometimes all you need is a day packed full of nothing. Nil. Nada. Diddly-squat.

Now the kids are happily tucked in bed. The house is a mess of epic proportions, but that’s ok – I can tidy it tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be 3 sleeps till Christmas, so it will inevitably get busy again. But at least we had today to reset our bodies, to wipe the busy-slate and to dance like crazies in the living room. And, the best part – Princess cuddling me on the couch and saying, “I love this day, Mum. You are crazy. But I like you.”

Like you too, crazy kiddo.

2

Summer Holidays – Clothing Optional, Sunshine Not Guaranteed

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It’s Day Two of the school holidays and, apparently, clothing is optional in our house.

Here in New Zealand, we are lucky enough to have Christmas at Summertime  …

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… and so the kids finish school for the year and have 6-8 weeks off before going back in the new year. I’m thrilled. Can you tell?

Yesterday was Princesses last day at school, and today, BoyChild finished up. Last night, they (along with one of their friends) went outside onto the trampoline at 7:30 pm, in the rain, stark naked, for a bounce. My friend and I watched them from the comfort of the living room, perhaps enjoying a glass of wine. It was, after all, the last day of school. Party hard, we said. Go crazy.

And, go crazy they did.

After an hour or so, we brought the reluctant yet saturated kids inside for a bath and into their pjs. Once it was dark enough (9:30pm-ish), we piled into the car to go and check out the Christmas lights on display at other houses. I have to say, kudos to our little suburb, there were some fantastic houses. Naturally, the kids started to doze off in the car but that didn’t stop my friend and I from searching out houses and exclaiming lots of “ohhhhh”s and “ahhhh”s. Some houses were pretty spectacular. And, when we couldn’t find decent houses, we drove down the main street and “ohhhh”d and “ahhhhh”d at the shop displays. Most weren’t so much “Christmas-y” as just the standard lit up display that stores have at night time, but we had fun nonetheless.

I thought that an 11pm bedtime for the kids might have resulted in a sleep in this morning. Ha ha ha, I know, I know. Don’t be ridiculous, Mrs T! Princess was up, bright and shiny, at 8am. By 9am, she was not so bright and shiny. She was tiiiiiiiiiired. Really? You think?

After a long day of desperately trying to keep Princess and BabyGirl entertained (“I’ve got an idea! Let’s go to the Mall”. Said the craziest mother ever), we collected BoyChild from his last day at preschool and came home.

Now, this is no exaggeration – literally immediately as BoyChild walked in the door, his clothes were discarded. “No top, Mumma. No pants, Mumma”.

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Alrighty then.

Naturally, it was followed by, “He’s nakey! I wanna be nakey”.

And, before I knew it, I once again had two children, stark naked, jumping on the trampoline in the rain.

I can’t wait to see what Day 3 brings. I’m going to go right ahead and suggest it may have to do with naked children on the trampoline.

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Yay Holidays!

 

1

Liebster Award!

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Well, now – this is a bit exciting. Sitting on my computer at 11:36pm after ninja-sneaking out of BabyGirl’s bedroom for the umpteenth time (ok, I’m lying – I just got home for a late night shopping trip (yay Christmas) so it has technically been Mr T doing the settling all evening) and I discover that I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

A quickie search courtesy of Mr Google tells me that this is an award passed around the blogging community (the big ol’ interweb) to recognise up-and-coming bloggers and to introduce people to different blogs. Yay me. Big thanks to Nicole over at mariella & me for the nomination!

So, here it is. These are questions provided to me by Nicole 🙂

1. I’d you could have something right now, tangible or not, what would it be?

You know, I want to say something really meaningful, but truth be told, I want chocolate. And I could get it too, if I walked the long three metres to the fridge. Sigh.

2. What are you most grateful for?

My family. My kids and my husband (naaaaw). My awesome friends and … well, just my life. I mean, it could be a lot worse!

3. What is something you hate to talk about?

I don’t want to talk about it.

No, really. It’s funny, I suppose – there are a few things I hate to talk about (like, I knot in my stomach just thinking about them),  and I’ve typed and deleted a couple of them here but, quite simply, I don’t want to talk about them!

(Sorry, I know, that’s a lame answer!)

4. What is your one biggest regret?

As a *general* rule I try not to have regrets, because I figure, things wouldn’t be the way they are today if I had done things differently in years gone by. We make mistakes and we learn from them, and that is what makes us who we are!

5. What is your favorite book of all time?

It’s called “Growing Up Twice”, it was the first “chicklit” I ever read, the first book that made me laugh out loud, and sob like a baby. I re-read it every few years.

6. If you could tell your 16 year old self something, anything, what would it be?

Relax, it’s not that big of a deal. Nothing is as dramatic as you think it will be when you are 16. Chill out and enjoy life. Things happen when they happen!

7. Why do you blog? For who?

I began blogging for myself – I used it as a release from the hectic goings-on in my life. Now, I still blog for myself, but also for people out there in a similar boat to me – to let people know they aren’t alone.

8. What one thing about your house/living situation would you like to change?

Another bedroom would be awesome!

9. What is your favorite memory as a child?

Playing with my sisters. Amidst the fighting and bickering, we actually had a pretty wicked upbringing. Thanks, Mum and Dad!
10. What are three goals you have for 2015?

Continue blogging, maintain my health and fitness (she says as she pigs out on chocolate) and enjoy my family – less stress about the small stuff!

11. What are you most proud of (aside from your kids!)?

This blog. I’m really, genuinely proud of it. I enjoy it and I love getting feedback from people who enjoy it too. It’s something I never considered doing in the past, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

And now, 11 random facts about myself

Goodness

Um …

1. I can NOT handle soggy things. Bread. Cookies. No. Just, no. I literally gag if I touch soggy bread. Ugh.

2. I have three sisters and one step-sister.

3. I collect M&M memorabilia. Not to be confused with Eminem memorabilia.

4. I love to bake.

5. My “other” job is being a Wedding Celebrant, which I adore.

6. I had a cuddly toy monkey (that looked a lot like a sheep) called Cuddles who I slept with until I was well into my teen years. I offered him to Princess to sleep with the other night, she looked horrified and asked me to put the scary sheep back into the cupboard. I may or may not have slept with Cuddles that night.

7. I always wanted kids. Regardless of what my career aspirations were growing up, being a Mother was a given.

8. I have been married twice – my first marriage lasted 11 months. I was 22.

9. I do not like my toes. Or my eyebrows. Needless to say, these are two things I always notice about other people.

10. Further to #9, I was born with a monobrow. Thankfully years and years of plucking and tweezing have killed any shred of hair between my now-wonderfully shaped eyebrows. I was very glad that none of my kids were born with monobrows, I won’t lie.

11. My little fingers are crooked – the look like they’ve been broken but they haven’t. Apparently it’s a trait in people who like to help others. Two of my children also have them.

And now, for my nominations!

http://lazybutloving.blogspot.co.nz/

http://solomamalife.wordpress.com/

http://modernmothercraft.blogspot.co.nz/

http://theoneinamillionbaby.com/

http://thiswasntinthemanual.com/

And, what do you do?

Your job is to answer these questions provided by me, and “spread the Lieb!”

Your questions:

1. What is your favourite food to eat? And, your favourite food to cook?

2. If you could wake up tomorrow and have one thing different about yourself personally, what would it be?

3. What are three interesting things that happened to you in 2014?

4. What are three interesting things you hope to happen to you in 2015?

5. What is your favourite season, and why?

6. What (aside from your kids) makes you happy inside?

7. Tea or coffee?

8. Who do you hope will one day stumble upon your blog?

9. If you could meet one person, real or fictional, who would you chose? And what would you say to them?

10. You have one million dollars – how would you spend it?

11. Ketchup/Tomato Sauce – in the refridgerator or in the cupboard?

Here are the rules of the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!).
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School Reports

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Ah, technology. It’s always changing, always improving. Though we still don’t have the floating cars that Beyond 2000 promised us, we aren’t doing too poorly.

When Princess started school back in August, I purchased, as part of her basic stationery pack, a USB stick. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea why. Today I found out  – it was handed back to me, containing Princess’s school report. Or, her “End of Year Learning Journal”, to be precise.

Gone are the days of paper school reports, it seems. This is 2014, and this is, apparently, how we do it. I see the definite advantages to providing school reports on a USB stick – flashbacks to school and trying to come up with creative ways to hide my report from my parents. My friend in High School lit hers on fire, I was highly impressed. Her parents, not so much.

There are disadvantages as well – my dear friend who, at the ripe age of 64, looked at her USB stick today with a puzzled expression and declared she had no idea where to put it.

Nevertheless, I plugged the End Of Year Learning Journal into the computer and had a look-see.

I was thoroughly proud of my little lady, even though I was relatively lost while reading the report. From what I can decipher, she is doing very well in reading, writing and mathematics. I particularly liked the example of her writing given:

“At the weekend my family and I went to the dairy. I was so happy”

I’m so glad that, of everything major happening in her life, her biggest and most exciting thing is walking 200m down the road to the local store. What can I say? That’s my girl.

She is doing well in Mathematics, though it did mention she is unable to “Read 1/2 and 1/4 and match them to a fraction diagram”. I will let that slide, though – I was in a chicken fast-food place last week and the woman in front of me ordered a (and I quote) “One-slash-four chicken, please”. Suffice to say, that lady wouldn’t be passing Year 1 mathematics either.

Overall, it seems Princess is doing superbly well at school, and her teacher comments that her “sunny disposition and happy smile make her a pleasure to teach”. Oh, gush. Proud Mumma. Buy that teacher a cider.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Princess if she didn’t have the last word.

“At school I like to play with my friends. Next year I’m going to work hard to get my wiggly teeth out”.

Aim high, my Princess. Aim high.

 

 

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Reasons My Children Cried Today

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It’s getting close to Christmas. And, of course, it’s getting close to the end of the year. It’s a funny time of year, this. And the kids are clearly feeling it. They are tired, school is wrapping up for the year, Christmas is fast approaching, and they are feeding off the stress inevitably coming from us parents as well.

Kids cry – it’s their way of dealing with things. Having three small kids means that some days, there just seems to be an endless stream of tears in my house. Today was one of those days.

Here are just some of the reasons my kids cried today.

  • I put jam on the toast before the peanut butter, not after.
  • I put peanut butter on the toast before the jam, not after.
  • Princess wanted to wear footless tights and I’d put out footed tights for her.
  • I put BabyGirl’s toast on the wrong plate.
  • It was raining
  • Princess didn’t want to wear a raincoat
  • The umbrella went up wrong
  • BabyGirl didn’t want to wear gumboots
  • BoyChild wanted to go in the car, not the pram
  • I opened the door
  • I closed the door
  • Princess wanted her hair in one ponytail, not two
  • It wasn’t Christmas tomorrow
  • It was raining
  • BoyChild wanted to sit in Princesses carseat
  • BabyGirl didn’t want to get into the car
  • BoyChild didn’t want to get out of the car
  • I opened the door
  • BabyGirl didn’t want to go in the pram
  • BoyChild wanted to go in the elevator
  • BoyChild wanted to press the button
  • BabyGirl wanted that drink
  • BoyChild wanted that muffin
  • BoyChild didn’t want to go to the toilet, despite needing to
  • BabyGirl didn’t want to sit on Santa’s knee
  • BoyChild didn’t want to sit on Santa’s knee
  • BoyChild didn’t want to leave the mall, he wanted to ride the elevator some more
  • BabyGirl wanted an apple
  • I cut the apple incorrectly
  • Babygirl wanted a banana
  • Princess wanted to carry her umbrella home
  • Princess’s friend called her “stuck in the mud”
  • There was an unfair distribution of popcorn and chippies
  • It was raining
  • It wasn’t Christmas yet
  • I wouldn’t let the girls play outside in the rain, without gumboots on
  • A birthday invitation had the birthday girl’s name on it, not Princess
  • I wouldn’t give Princess invitations for her birthday (in August)
  • BabyGirl and BoyChild got to see Santa today but Princess didn’t
  • I make Princess go to school
  • A Christmas card was wrong
  • Princess’s friend put a bell on her face
  • I wouldn’t let BabyGirl get into the shower with her tights on
  • I put too much bubble mixture in the bath
  • Princess’s friend left his backpack at our house
  • And a jumper
  • It’s not Christmas TODAY
  • It’s raining and its never going to stop raining EVER

Needless to say, there was a lot of sighing and silently counting by me, and a lot of cuddles and comforting pats on backs. All three kids are fast asleep now, no doubt dreaming of Christmas and rainy days.

And me? Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day.