“Then we go into the wild again”…being a new mummy on the playground.

So one week in to my eldest daughter starting school and I feel like the new girl at school. Every day just before 3pm I walk up to the school and sit outside the classroom like all the other parents.

There are a few familiar faces of parents from kindy and playgroup who smile and say hello but at the moment I don’t know any of the parents of children in the same class, but they all seem to know each other!

After a week I have realised that one of the advantages of living where we do is that there is a real sense of community. And one of the reasons I know this is the case is that the vast majority of people here grew up here, went to that school and stayed here. For the first time in a long time I feel like the outsider, but I’m determined not to be.

They went to school together, they had children around the same time, some of these people have known each other all their lives. Even my daughter’s teacher went to that school. I try hard to imagine what it would be like if I still lived where I grew up. I can’t.

But I will be brave. I will chat, I will smile. I will suggest play dates, I will go to birthday parties. I hope I will make a connection with someone and discover we have more in common that just having kids the same age. It’s not too much to hope for, is it?

So, it’s nearly that time of day again; into the wild I go. It’s not just the children who need to make new friends, it’s the parents too.759-37_d1

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“Go gentle through your life…When you need me I’ll be there for you”…To my daughter, on the eve of your 5th birthday.

We always wanted you. We always hoped you would be here. You kept us waiting; waiting so long we had almost given up, but you came when you were ready. That is something that I have learnt is part of your personality. You only do things when you are ready, when you know you are going to get it perfect first time. You observe, you listen, you learn, and then only when you understand, you do and get it right first time. You kept us waiting then and when you finally arrived five years ago you were perfect; you were you.

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And so tomorrow you will turn five. Where those five years have gone I do not know. Your first smile, your first words, your first steps…all those firsts and they are still happening now. I hope that your life is full of “firsts”. That way I know you will constantly be learning, changing, developing; being the “you” you want to be.

When you start school next week I will miss you but I know that you are ready. You are excited and I love that. You are keen to learn and I hope that love of learning never leaves you. I hope that is one thing I have instilled in you already in your five short years.

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Be curious, explore.

Make friends, be kind.

Take challenges, be brave.

Work hard, play hard.

Be who you want to be.

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Life will not always be easy, there will be challenges. You will not always get what you want. You will have to work hard for some things, you will need to stand up for what you believe at times. We will not always get on, but know that I will always love you and always be here for you, through the good and the bad.

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But the one thing I really want you to do is enjoy your life. Now it is your chance to make more decisions, to have more independence. I hope we can help you learn how to make good decisions. You are only five, you don’t need the weight of the world on your shoulders; have fun.

I am so proud of who you have become in the last five years and I can’t wait to see who you become in the rest of your life. Every day I ask myself how we made something so perfect. I find myself still checking you have ten fingers and ten toes every now and then, for you will always be my baby.

Happy Birthday sweetheart. I am proud to be your mummy. Now and forever.

  

“Rejoice the day, the day the work is done”…the making and breaking of habits.

Apparently it is a myth that you can form a new habit in 21 days. From what I’ve read, from my extensive Google search of course, this may well be the case for something simple like drinking a glass of water in the morning every day but for most habits and routines that have more psychological effects on us it may take a lot longer. 

For what I’m about to say though the amount of time doesn’t really matter. What I’m going to suggest is that I try to break bad habits rather than create new ones. You still with me?

I reckon if I can break a few bad habits of mine good ones may naturally appear and my life may become a bit better. 

So after some thinking here are a few bad habits I’d like to break:

  • Tweeting first thing in the morning. I am already trying this and have to admit it hasn’t gone completely but I am definitely making progress. It has meant mornings have been a lot less rushed and everyone therefore has been a lot happier. 
  • Drinking a glass of wine or a beer once the girls have gone to bed with the mister. Every now and then, fair enough, but it has definitely become a bad habit. 
  • Putting a movie on when we get back from kindy. This has arisen out of the damned heat of this Auckland summer. I pick the girls up and they are tired and hot after a day of running around and playing hard. We stick the air con and watch a Disney movie. I have to admit I don’t think this is going to go straight away as that humidity shows no sign of leaving soon and we all need it for our sanity, but maybe just a cartoon or not every afternoon. 
  • Running out of steam on a Friday and ending up with takeaway food. If I can get organised I know I can kick this habit. I cook so well the rest of the week, no reason I can’t do it on a Friday too.

  
So just a few tiny changes. Nothing major. Nothing life changing. But a few changes that will allow more people time, more connection. I’ll see how we go…

“If my dragons and demons come out…” Not every day is a good day.

Today I didn’t go to yoga. Today I bought a cream doughnut.

Yesterday was one of those days; one of those days that every stay at home parent has, one of those days that when I started blogging again I said wouldn’t gloss over.

I’ve been having a few of those days lately and I think it’s important to write about it, because I know when I read an honest blog, I feel normal. In fact I’ve stopped reading some blogs that don’t acknowledge that days can sometimes be a little bit shit. Who wants to think everything is perfect and can be captured in an Instagram flat lay?

You see I have a threenager. She has graduated from the troublesome twos and most of the time she is wonderful, but there are some days that you can tell from the minute she wakes up that it will not be a fun day. 

I should chip in here, I’m not looking for answers or solutions. She is just one of those children who has those days!

Yesterday went like this: both girls came through just after six a.m when it was still pitch dark and I was still in a deep sleep, in the middle of a sweet Barlow dream. The day began with moaning and complaints about which side of our bed she could climb in. Then there were complaints about what to have for breakfast, the temperature of the porridge that she eventually opted for, that she wanted milk instead of water, that her big sister was sat on the stool she wanted…you get the picture.

I had walked downstairs, and despite vacuuming last night and not breaking anything for the last month or so, stepped on the tiniest bit of glass. It hurt.

Going well so far?

Then the cat vomited three times because of a fur ball.

The girls thought this hilarious. I wanted to throw up myself.

So the complaints ended for a while and they started playing. You know what’s coming next, the fighting. She wanted everything her big sister had. She wanted it now.

Have you got a headache just reading this yet?

Anyway, I’ll skip forward a bit. Went to a friend’s house for a play date; My threenager hadn’t seen her friend for a fortnight, she was so excited. Clearly so excited about fighting with her friend too. Not the whole time, I’m hastened to add and there was some respite but it was kind of a relief that it wasn’t just her family she was after today!

Now this is bad timing based on her mood but we needed to do the supermarket shop. After a long weekend here the fridge was pretty bare. Mushrooms, pickled onions and parsley do not make a pretty meal for a family of four.

It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty. I cried to stop myself from screaming. 

And to the person who said “oh, at least she’s cute” while she was having a tantrum, shut up and go away…that’s what that look I was giving you was saying.

So we got enough food to survive and came home. Of course she fell asleep in the car at 3pm. Of course she did because she was tired. She was tired because she got up too early. She was grumpy because she was tired. 

We ALL know the cycle because these days happen and we need to talk about them. We need to talk about them otherwise we will think it’s just us that it’s happening to that’s simply not the case.

So back to today. Last night we asked the girls to stay in their room until it was daylight this morning. Anything is worth a try, right? My threenager got up at 7 and the eldest slept until 7.30, my husband was late for work.

The morning was happiness, singing, dancing, eating nicely, getting dressed when asked. It was a perfect morning.

Today they are at kindy and I took the opportunity to have time for me. That’s where the cream doughnut came in. Because every now and then, everyone needs a “doughnut day”.

“Is it asking too much to rely on your imagination…” A short, smug post about finding creativity.

As the title suggests I shall be brief and probably a little smug here today. It is really quite simple, I have found the joy of my imagination again. How have I found it? I’ve finally got time.

After five years of being a stay at home mum I am beginning to get some time again to do the things I like to do. The children love to play together and, for the most part, don’t fight as much. They hide away pretending to be pirates, fairies, guinea pigs (seriously)…the list is endless. They sit at the table and draw endless pictures of everything. 

Over the years I have become able to complete household tasks at lightning speed, otherwise known as getting everything done in one baby sleep cycle of 45 minutes. I have honed my skill of multitasking; I can cook dinner, vacuum and tweet at the same time. 

  
All of this combined means I do have time to do the things I want to do. I have rediscovered my love of literature. I read whenever I can. I get lost in a book, in its world, in its characters. When I’m not reading, I write. I delve into my imagination and I let it go. Putting words on paper is so freeing. I have found my imagination again. It feels amazing.

  
And when the girls are drawing, I can draw and colour with them.

When they sit down on piles of cushions with piles of books and look at the pictures “pretending” to read, I can read too.

When they sit at the table to make cards and write letters for family overseas, I can write too.

And that’s when it occurred to me…they are learning from me and I am learning from them. I see them use their imaginations on a daily basis. I hear them talk to imaginary friends, make up imaginary worlds, play imaginary games.

They see me read, write, create. 

It’s how it’s meant to be.

  

“‘Cause everybody loves a circus show…” Our trip to the International Buskers Festival in Auckland.

It occurred to me as we walked through the Auckland CBD for the second time in two days on Sunday that most of our weekends with the children from now until April will be spent there. It’s the same every year.

We are very fortunate to live so close to a city that offers so much to do for families…and most of it is free. With last weekend being Auckland Anniversary long weekend we were spoilt for choice. On Saturday we spent an excellent day at the Seeport Festival. This is the third time we have been and we know now from experience that the best time to go is Saturday morning. All the rides are free and the queues are the smallest at that time. By Sunday and Monday word has spread and the place is packed, and nobody likes queuing with an impatient four year old.

On Sunday we had the usual “what shall we do?” conversation that I’m sure most families have every weekend. I quick search of the Auckland Live website and we found the Buskers Festival.

So we packed everyone into the car, bags filled with snacks, water bottles, hat and sun screen and drove into town. We always park at the Civic carpark ($12 for the day at the weekend) and central to all the fun.

We arrived not long after 11.30 to Aotea Square and the girls happily played with the imagination playground that was set up and the giant connect four. The square has shade, seating, music, food vans. You could go into Auckland and just stay here for the day to be honest.

  
The first show we planned to see was Kilted Colin; an American in a kilt with bagpipes, knives and a 3 metre unicycle. The area chosen for the buskers was great. We sat on the steps and the trees provided some shade. Our girls, who are 3 and nearly 5, absolutely loved the show. He drew a huge crowd and got some excellent crowd participation going. I am sure you would have been able to hear the cheers over the noise of the buses going down Queen Street.

  
The shows were roughly thirty minutes long so in between we grabbed some food from one of the food trucks and found some shade. It was a long enough break for us all to be ready to watch the next performer who was from Germany; Woody the Woodman.

It was a real change of pace from the high powered jinx of Colin. Woody was calm and slow. He was dressed like a tree and I have to admit the make up and costume scared my three year old a bit…until he started handing out lollipops. When discussing the day just before bed later she happily told me he was her favourite of the day; because of the lollipop.

Woody took the opportunity to do his performance under the shade of the trees on the side of the road. It really added to his show which was enthralling and entertaining. It really was something for all ages to enjoy.

  
It was time for us to move on, so we chose to walk down Queen Street towards the Downtown Shopping Centre where Basketball Jones was performing at 2pm. A New Zealander who introduced himself as “half Maori, half amazing” he entertained us with his basketball tricks and juggling. The girls loved his finale when he got on his unicycle and juggled balls and a torch. This was something they had never seen before.

  
It was a hot day and the girls had done a lot of walking so we got on the red Hop bus to take us back up to the top of town with the idea of grabbing a quick ice cream and heading home. We had seen three great shows and everyone had a great day so far, but while eating the ice cream we also managed to catch the second half of one more show, Cate Great. She amazed us by doing a one armed handstand and my nearly five year old looked to me and simply asked in amazement, “how?”

  
The international performers we saw were great. Long may this annual festival continue. Long may all these events organised for families in Auckland continue.

Everyone slept well that night and the next day when my three year old made us all sit down to watch her dog juggling show, whilst wearing a tutu, and greeted us with “Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman” I knew even more that it was a day well spent.

She’s still working on her one arm hand stand, but she’ll get there.