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Twenty Seventh!

Princess had her very first Cross Country yesterday. These are an institution here in New Zealand. I remember my own school cross country races fondly. I grew up in a relatively rural town, so our cross country race involved running through the bush, scaling fences, all the while wearing either bare feet or, if we were feeling fancy, jandals.

It’s nice to see nothing has really changed. I mean, they had to wear shoes, but it still brought back memories of my own races. The line up to start. Taking off, running their little hearts out.

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Princess was really excited about this race, she couldn’t stop talking about it. She selected her clothes specifically, laid out the night before with her running shoes. She had been doing a lot of training at school, and even received a certificate last week for her “improvement in school athletics”.

I couldn’t believe how excited I was about the race. There is something about seeing your child participate and do well in something, that just melts your heart. Now, I’m no Tiger Mom, but I do want to see my kids do well. Did I want her to win? Hells yes, that would have been awesome! But more than anything, I just wanted her to do her best. I know, right? I’m such a grown up some times.

And so, it was time. They lined up all the Year 0 and Year 1 girls together (there were a million of them) and boom, they were off. And by “off”, I mean, they disappeared out of sight. Down to the river, to run along the river bank. The race was only 500m so I was surprised at how long the kids were gone for!

We waited … and waited … and then we saw a little girl emerge from the bushes. Was it Princess? Goodness, no. This kid? Usain Bolt, I tell ya. She was miles ahead of anyone else. MILES.  And then came more. And more. And more little girls, all wearing, it seems, the same as Princess. I began to wonder if I’d missed her. I looked towards the finish line – nope, not there. More girls came, and there she was. My heart? It died. It puffed up to six million times its normal size. There was my big kid, running her hardest. She wasn’t winning, but by gosh was she trying.

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She overtook a couple of kids on the home stretch, and ran across the finish line.

I won’t lie. I was yelling. Calling her name, jumping up and down in a manner that will most certainly embarrass her in years to come. I mean, no one else is going to cheer for my kid. That’s my job. 

I was so happy, I nearly cried. Ridiculous, really. But it’s that crazy pride thing that we parents get. That crazy pride thing that makes us nearly lose our minds at times, I swear.

And, as Princess ran up to me, beaming from ear to ear, she proudly held up her hand and said, “Look, Mum. TWENTY SEVENTH! That’s MY number!”. And with a kiss and a giggle, she was skipping off to her class with her friends.

Did I want Princess to win her race? Sure, that would have been nice, for her to get up onto the podium and get a certificate. But she is 6. She doesn’t yet have the drive to need to win, and that’s great. She had a wonderful time, she later said to me, “I’m so proud of my race, Mum”.

And you know what? So am I. As far as I’m concerned, she might as well have won that race. So we went out for celebratory frozen yoghurt, and Princess got extra sprinkles, because she came TWENTY SEVENTH.

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Diamond Pasta Footy Shapes Review

Kidspot is a great online resource for kiwi parents, and has a section called Mums Say, where parents are invited to be selected for product reviews. And we all know how much I like to review things!

Last week I was excited to receive a package of Diamond Pasta Footy Shapes.

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That’s right – pasta shaped like, well, rugby stuff. They are a-freakin-dorable. A little boot, a little rugby player, a sock and of course, a ball!

I think the only down side to these was their size – when I say little, I mean they are tiny, even when cooked. Nevertheless, the kids loved them. They were SO excited, particularly Princess, who did an “are-they-cooked-yet-are-they-cooked-yet” dance while they boiled away on the stove.

My kids aren’t big sauce eaters so I served the pasta as is, with some frozen veges and grated cheese (for Princess, since BabyGirl is allergic). The girls had a wonderfully creative game of “rugby” before giggling and chomping the pasta shapes down.

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Definitely a hit with the kids, and Princess asked me to make them for her lunch at school as well. So that’s a win, I say 🙂

For those of you who might be interested in more reviews like this, head over to the Kidspot page and sign up. It’s fun! And, for more information on Diamond Pasta, click here

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Anatomy of a Six Hour Car Ride

We just returned from a two week holiday back to our home town and, in order to save well over $1000 in flight costs, we made the choice to drive six hours to a major airport rather than flying direct. Good idea? Sure. I mean, saving that money makes it worth it, right? I mean, how hard can a six hour drive be, with three small kids?

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I know, I know.

And so, this is the summary of our trip.

The Questions

Oh my, the questions.

Why is one eye round, and one eye normal?

Why are my cheeks red?

Are you asleep, Mum? (note: I wasn’t driving. And yes, I was trying to sleep)

What do brother sheep look like?

Is it dinner time yet? (note: 10:30am)

Are we there yet?

Who scratched my face? I think it was me?

Why is snow?

Are we almost at Grandma’s house? (note: we are not going to Grandma’s house)

Are we there yet?

Is it dinner time yet? (note: 11:30am)

Where is the lake? (note: right alongside the car. A very large lake)

Where is that bus going?

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Why are we driving?

The Games

The Finger game. How many fingers am I holding up? How many fingers am I holding up? How many fingers am I holding up.

(note: I won’t lie. I held up my middle finger on more than one occassion)

The Car game. We pick a colour each, and then keep a vague count of each car. We’ve played this game so many times and the kids still haven’t figured that picking silver, white, red or black gives you significantly higher chances of winning than picking, say, purple or orange. Nevertheless, we play.

The Animal game. Two points if you see a sheep. Three points for a cow. Ten points for a llama. 17 points for a monkey. 460 points for a dinosaur. 6,000,000 points for an elephant. This game is thrilling.

“THERE’S A SHEEP THERE’S A SHEEP THERE’S A SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP ….”

We do, after all, live in New Zealand.

The Fights

Princess looking at BoyChild.

Babygirl putting her foot on BoyChild.

BoyChild singing.

Princess singing.

BabyGirl singing.

BoyChild is looking at Princess.

The wrong cd is in.

The window is open.

The window is closed.

The Threats

On at least six occasions, it was threatened that at least one child get out of the car and walk.

On at least one occasion, the car was stopped to remove one child from the car.

On at least three occasions, I requested the car be stopped so I could get out and walk. Once was while driving past a Cidery.

The Scenery

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We saw some wonderful sights. We drove through some of the most amazing scenery in this beautiful country. And we enjoyed it, as we drove through it. Note: we drove. We didn’t stop. Because, you stop, all three kids want to get out. And all three kids don’t want to get back in. There is no such thing as a quick stop. Oh, except the one time we pulled over simply to clean BabyGirl who had managed to smother herself in ice block. I quickly hopped out, wiped her down and off we went. With the car boot open. Yup. I did that. My bad.

The Hilarity

We drove through an area with canals. I said to the kids, “Did you know there are two types of canals? The near canal and the far canal?”

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And I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed at my expert wit. Mr T rolled his eyes. BoyChild laughed along with me, because he’s awesome (and laughs with anyone). Princess asked me, “Where is the canal?”

The Final 45 Minutes

I’m not sure what it is about a long car ride, but no matter how long it is, the final 45 minutes is always the longest. The kids suddenly snap and have had enough. Mr T and I have had enough. The final 45 is packed full of tears, games, songs, jokes, anything to keep the kids from ripping each other’s hair out. And from me ripping out my own.

Princess decided she needed to poop.

BoyChild decided he was hungry.

BabyGirl decided that 5.5 hours of me sitting slightly out of her reach was too long and she NEEDED TO TUDDLE ME RIGHT NOW.

I encouraged the kids to count to 153, and that we would be home once they were done. They got to 17 before BoyChild declared the game OVER.

BabyGirl cried some more.

I stroked my bottle of cider and whispered, “we are almost there, my precious”.

The Home

And then, we are there. Home. Oh, my lord. Home freakin sweet home. The kids leap from the car, all tears suddenly dry. BoyChild runs to his room and instantly tips out all of his toys. Princess and BabyGirl run to their room and start playing. I run to the loo (I’ve had three kids, remember!).

And just like that, we are done.

Next time, I think I’ll pay the extra $1000.

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Snazzipants Modern Cloth Nappies

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I recently got given the opportunity to test and review some of these Snazzipants modern cloth nappies (or, MCNs). Now, Babygirl is still in nappies, but is on the tail end of it (self imposed toilet training – which really means, take off your nappy as soon as there is even the slightest dribble of wet in there. Which means, many, many wasted nappies). So, I jumped at the chance to trial a cloth nappy. Anything to save money!

I am no stranger to cloth nappies, I had some with the other kids, and we used them relatively regularly in the summer months, though I found the washing and drying too hard to keep up with in the winter. But the cost was certainly a major draw card. I had, however, handed these on to another friend when we made the move a few months ago, and regretted the decision!

I convinced BabyGirl to wear these Snazzipants (a job made easier by the gorgeous cat print!) by calling them her Fancy New Cat Knicker Nappies. Give it a fancy name and they are all over that! Babygirl wore this nappy on days when she just didn’t want to wear knickers, or on days when we had experienced accident #4 or #5 and Mummy just didn’t want her to wear knickers any more. She loved it. They are comfy and cute, as well as being absorbent and practical.

These nappies really are great – they come in three styles:

  • The All-In-One – easy to wash and dry, has an insert but this is not removable.
  • The Pocket Nappy – I think anyone who knows MCNs will find this one the most familiar – you can remove the insert and wash it separately, which makes drying time faster.
  • The Pul Cover – This essentially is just an outer, you use it with a cotton inner, folded on top. These are good in that you can change the inner, and continue to use the outer (unless you are struck with a poonami situation. Then the whole thing goes in the wash).

I understand that cloth nappies aren’t for everyone, but it’s one of those things that didn’t think I would be into, and surprised myself. I had myself pegged as far too lazy to mess around with these, but realised when Princess was a baby that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Taking a pic of a two year old wearing a cloth nappy? Now, that is hard!

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Black Box – All Blacks Supporter Box!

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Yay! I was lucky enough to be sent another #blackboxnz last week – aptly named the All Blacks Supporter Box, because, as you surely all must know, we are in the midst of the Rugby World Cup. And, for those of you who don’t know, the New Zealand team (THE ALL BLACKS) are the current world champions, so we are getting behind them well and truly. Am I watching the games? Well, no. You see, I can’t handle suspense. I don’t like not knowing the outcome. So, I tend to hide while the games are on. But, Mr T is watching the games, and so this box was well suited to him.

In fact, it was practically made for him. It was as though the awesome people at Sampleco came here, sat down with Mr T, and asked him what all of his favourite things are. And put them into a box. And sent them to us.

So, here are the contents, and what I (or, Mr T), thought of them!

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Shapes Extreme – Salt & Vinegar Smash

These are Mr T’s absolute fav crackers, he asks for them everytime I go to the supermarket. So, naturally, he LOVED them. They don’t lie, these crackers – they are extreme in flavour! I’m not a Salt and Vinegar fan ordinarily (eating salt & vinegar chips is the best way to find a cut in your mouth that you didn’t know was there!) so I wasn’t too enthusiastic to eat these. They made me cry, they were so strong. So I did what any good parent would do – I fed them to my kids. And while BoyChild looked at me as though I were the most horrible person on earth, Princess and BabyGirl liked them. Little weirdos.

Overall, these are a win, because 3/5 of our family were fans. I really want to try the Chilli Charge flavour next.

Heineken Light

Another of Mr T’s treats – I’m not a beer drinker, but he likes the occassional tipple after a long day. He says this was a nice beer, one he “might buy again, I guess”.

Win? I’ve no idea. Mr T does “man reviews”.

Nivea Men Originals Refreshing Face Wash Gel

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While I describe Mr T as a bit of a metrosexual (shhhh, don’t tell him), he was a bit bemused when I showed him these products. “What do I do with them?”, he asked. “I don’t know!”, I replied – “read the label”.

Last night Mr T came out of the bath and rubbed his face against mine, saying “doesn’t it feel nice?”. Bit cute, really. He’d used this product, and he quite liked it!

Definite win, will buy again I think.

Limited Edition Powerade Black Storm

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Black powerade. I wasn’t sure – flavour non-specific on the package, so I was skeptical about the flavouring, not to mention the colour. As mentioned, we are a nation who support a team called the All Blacks, so there are a lot of black products around!

That being said, I liked it. I personally wouldn’t buy it, but the bottle was shared between Mr T and Princess, and they both adored it. So, they would buy it again!

Watties Spaghetti

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Mmmmm. A kiwi classic right here. Obviously, I’ve eaten a lot of this over my life – when I was a kid, mum challenged us to “invent” a recipe for dinner. Yes, I realise now it that (a) it was code for “I can’t be bothered cooking so I’ll make it a game for you kids”, and (b) my mother is a genius. Anyway, my invention was a spaghetti pie. I know, Masterchef in the making.

I was actually really excited about this spaghetti, and asked myself why on earth I don’t buy it more often. I need to.

And, on a night when I cooked possibly the most dreadful meal in history, Mr T was happy to chow down on a plate of spaghetti on toast. And loved it, of course. And, while I sit here typing this, I really feel like spaghetti on toast. Really.

Win. + craving.

Berocca Kick – with Guarana

Sounds like my kinda product. I’m an energy drink fiend, so this was a fun alternative on a day when I’d had no sleep (thanks, kids!). Gave me a kick and tasted ok too. Will I buy again? Maybe.

Kingaroy Gold Mexican Salsa Peanuts

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Oh my. These are just so freakin delicious. I don’t know what I expected, but wow. So addictive, so yummy. And they come in so many other flavours – Chilli & Lime, Honey Roast, Classic Sea Salt, and Sea Salt & Pepper. I think I will buy a new pack every week until I’ve had them all. The packet size wasn’t huge, but it was ideal. Any bigger and you would just keep on eating, they are that good.

Shick Hydro 5 Razor

Another product clearly intended for Mr T, and he loves it. It came at the perfect time, because his current razor was on it’s last legs. His assessment? “A nice, smooth razor, a nice clean shave”.

Yup. Win.

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Mr T wasn’t as keen on this, he said it left streaks on his face. Perhaps he might like to buy it again, but he says it’s not an essential product in his life.

Mi Sedaap Instant Noodle Cup

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I ate this, and I loved it. I really like the Mi Sedaap noodle range, so the cup just makes it convenient and easy to eat. Would definitely buy it again, if the need arose.

MegaNuts Coconut Rough

These muesli bars are DELICIOUS. So good. So good, in fact, that the packet was gone the day the Black Box arrived. Each kid had one, and I had one two. These are thick and full of flavour, so quite filling. And so yummy. Definitely would buy again.

Canadian Club

I had no idea what this was. It looks like beer, but isn’t. In fact, once I took the time to read the label, it clearly says it is whisky. That had me gone, I am not a whisky drinker, but curiosity got the better of me so I had a sip. Could I drink it? No, I don’t think so, but it’s not terrible. Mr T, on the other hand, while skeptical at first, was very much into it. He enjoyed it once the kids were in bed and he was able to sit and relax. And he commented, “we might have to get more of this!”.

Win.

And so, there you have it. It was actually a really well constructed #blackboxnz, fitted the tagline well. I can imagine many All Blacks supporters happily chowed through the box while watching the All Blacks and all the other teams fight their way to win the Webb Ellis Cup.

The All Blacks will win anyway.

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Here’s to all the Single Parents

To all you single parents, I salute you. I bow my head, and tip my hat. Goodness, I kneel and kiss your feet.

Mr T has been away this week, the second time in three weeks, and so I have been thrust into the world of solo parenting. And it is, by all accounts, shit. I won’t lie. I won’t sugar coat it. It sucks. And I am well aware of the fact that while I am able to count down the days minutes until husband returns, many people don’t have that luxury.

And I admire you for that. Wholeheartedly.

The first time he went away, I cried when he told me. I tried really hard not to, I pretended the movie I was watching was really sad, but I cried. To put it into perspective (and maybe ever-so-slightly less psychotic), we are new to this town and I’ve yet to meet any proper friend-like grown ups. So, I really am just me’n’the’kids.

That week was tough, but we got there. Princess had school, BoyChild had preschool, I could still go to the gym and drop BabyGirl at the creche a couple of times a week. Night 2 (of 4) was the worst – I was finally asleep when I realised BabyGirl was playing with a freakin balloon in the hallway. At midnight. I stomped up there, picked her up, growled her and stomped down the stairs to my room. Naturally, that was the one time my pj pants would get caught under my foot, causing me to crash onto my elbow and bottom with full force. Never mind. I dealt with it like a grown up.

I’m lying.

I lay in the hallway at midnight and cried like a little baby. One of my shining moments as a mother, I must say. That night BabyGirl didn’t sleep until well after 3am. Like I said, the worst.

But, we got there. Husband came home, and all was well.

This time around, things are a little different. It’s school holidays, for starters. School HELL-idays. So, no school for Princess. No creche for BabyGirl, which means no gym for me. Luckily, BoyChild’s preschool doesn’t break for the holidays, so he still goes each morning. The downside of that being we have to leave the house at 8:30 each morning. I’ve mastered the art of looking temporarily presentable. I don’t even bother dressing the girls. Pjs suffice when you are 6 and 2.

I think what has been the killer for me this week, has been the lack of personal space. They are with me in the shower, they are with me in the loo. They are with me when I’m on the phone, they are with me when I check the mail. They are with me when I sleep, they are with me when I cook dinner.

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I’ve had some great ideas through the week. Like going for a walk. That ended well.

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Baking cupcakes was fun. Shame it didn’t last all day.

We did some science experiments. Also fun until we used up all the baking soda and vinegar. Thus ruining my next plan, making cookies.

I think the hardest part about solo parenting is that you have to be “on” all the time. You are the go to for the kids. There is no opportunity to slack off. When they cry, it’s you who has to solve the issue. When they wake in the night, it’s you who has to get up.

The house is a mess, the kids have been living off a diet of noodles, 100s + 1000s toast and carrot sticks for a week and the alcohol cupboard is noticeably emptier than it was five days ago.

But, the end is near. One more night to go.

And that is where I consider myself to be so lucky. Because there is an end in sight for me. Tomorrow my husband is going to walk in the door and things will go back to (relative) normality. I appreciate that many people don’t have that, and I can’t admire these people enough.

We’ve done it, kids. We’ve survived unscathed.

And only once did I declare “That’s IT, I QUIT being a MUM! I’m DONE. GoodBYE. I wish you WELL. THANK YOU LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Mum is OUT” *dramatic door slam*