Friday, 25 October 2013

Wrestling with the Waltons

A little while ago I posted "living here is a bit like living in a cross between the Waltons and WWF wrestling" many of my friends with a few children seemed to know exactly what I mean.  It is like that though, a lot of the time.

One minute there they are, playing nicely together, or having a picnic with one another in the garden.

Then the next someone's hit someone, or taken something, or just tackled someone to the ground for no obvious reason and it all descends into chaos.

I'm not complaining, not really, I love having four kids, and watching the way the interact is one of the things that I love.  With age gaps of two years, 19 months, and just over two years, it means that on the whole they are very close, but as is often the way, it's those that you are closest too who wind you up the most.

Yesterday I sat and watched them play together, and it really was great, watching them getting on and joining in with each other.  But other days, I won't lie, I can't wait for bed time to come around, just so I can get a break from the fighting, crying and moans of "he's taken my...." "she hit me...." "I don't like she....." that seem to follow me around the house, no matter where I hide.

Four kids is great, I'd recommend it to anyone, but just remember that the lovely, loving interaction, often is accompanied by the full on fighting and dislike.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Breast and bottle feeding dolls

I was never a big fan of dolls when I was little, but my three year old, Lena, just loves her babies.  She carries them around, dresses them and sometimes even sleeps with them.  While I was keen for her to have cloth nappies for her babies, (apart from anything else, they last better when being constantly taken off and put back on again)  but it never occurred to me that feeding them might be an issue.  That was until yesterday when she asked me for a bottle for her baby.

Now I don't want to sound like a total breastfeeding zealot her, which I suspect that I may, but I have to admit that I really wasn't keen.  Both Lena and her younger sister, have been totally breastfed, my complete inability to express more than the tiniest drop of milk mean that bottles have just never figured in our feeding equation, so I was quite surprised.  I hadn't really thought that she would see bottles as something that a baby wanted or needed.  Until she went to daycare a few times a week, I doubt she'd even seen a baby bottle, and now she want's one for her baby.  But does it matter?

I really don't care how people feed their babies, it's non-of my business, although I am keen that people get the help support and information that they need.  What I don't like though, is the way that bottles are seen as the "norm" and for that reason, I'd rather that she didn't have a bottle to play with.  Of course when feeding a doll, a bottle does make more sense, especially one of those magic bottles where the milk seems to disappear.  Time and time again, in films and on television, you see people bottle feeding.  New baby cards are often decorated with pictures of bottles, and if you were to conduct a random survey on the street and ask people to name ten baby related items, I'd guess that a bottle would feature pretty near the top.  So if I can help it, I'd rather not add to that myself, and I'd rather that she didn't have a toy bottle to play with.

Having said all of that, to be honest, I'm really not keen on the "breastfeeding dolls" either, the ones with a strap on flower attachment for your child's chest, so that they can feed them.  It's just a bit unnecessary, children are perfectly capable of playing at "feeding" their babies if they want without the need for strap on contraptions.  I get the idea, the alternative approach to the little plastic bottle that you often see included with new dolls,  but I think this is taking it a bit far.  Surely the ideal is to show the natural approach.  Using pretend and imagination is an important part of childhood that toy makers often forget.

So,I guess we'll see if she asks again, and make a decision then.  But hopefully she won't, we don't really need more small, plastic toys to clutter the place up.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

As the Tui flies

One of the great things about living where we do, is the setting. We're at the end of a road, with a great view out over the harbour, most of the time it's so peaceful here, apart from when the kids are playing some crazy game that it, but that's all good too.

We're also, as the Tui flies, really quite close to the Orokonui bird sanctuary, I should admit first of all, that it's been a while since I've been for a visit, must go again, but we don't have to visit to get the benefit. More and more often we're getting lots of interesting a different birds here, that have made there way over from Orokonui, or have been attracted to the area because of it.  Yesterday afternoon, hanging the washing out, I just stood and listened to the beautiful bird song that surrounded us.

Standing out more than anything (maybe because it's one of the few I can actually identify) was a Tui.  I tried very hard to spot him (or her) but no luck this time.

Tree where I think the Tui was hiding.

Of course it's all a million miles away from what I grew up with.  I was lucky, I grew up in the British countryside, so bird song was still around, just different birdsong.  More than anything the sound of wood pigeons puts me right back into a summery Derbyshire afternoon.  It's one of the few sound effects that British TV gets right, countryside = wood pigeons, unlike their portrayal of countryside at night which always has a rather spooky sounding fox, hearing that, around "our way" at least was unusual.

It's important to value this natural soundtrack though, wherever you live.  I remember on the day I got married, the driver of my wedding car, commenting on the birdsong.  I hadn't really thought about it then, it was just background noise, but to him it stood out, living in a newish estate, they didn't get the birds.  So next time you're outside, stand still for a second, be quiet and just listen.  Who needs any other music?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Same same but different

When I was younger, I don't know, maybe nine or ten, I had a pair of white shoes with a little heel.  They were, to me beautiful, mostly because I wasn't usually allowed to wear shoes with a heel, but these were my going out shoes.  They were also exactly the same as the "for best" shoes that my best friend had.  Not only were they white, with a heel, but they also had this pattern punched into them in the form of holes, sounds hideous, but they were very 80's, and that's my only defence.

This morning, a conversation at the breakfast table suddenly reminded me of those shoes.
Kai "You're the odd one out, you've not got long sleeves"
Mahe "Yeah, but you've got two sleeves on, you're the odd one out"
Lena "I's the odd one out, I've got this t-shirt on"
Kai "We're all the odd one's out"

There are often conversations like this around the table, about who's different and who's got the same.  For some reason being or not being (depending upon the day) the odd one out, is really, really important.  They like to copy each other too, Mahe often wants exactly the same breakfast as Kai, just to be the same.  I suppose it's how we learn this copying one another, and I suspect it may well get worse.  I've seen girls in particular want to be exactly like their friends.  But is it healthy?

As a parent, you want your child to be liked and have friends, but at the same time you really want them to still be them.  Not only that, but to stand up for what you believe in, even if no one else is, is something that is hard to do, but really important.

It might be the way we learn, by imitating one another, but it's also really really important to just be ourselves, which might mean that one day you're a princess playing with a train track, and another day you're performing on a stage in the garden.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Post Birthday Blues

Actually, that's not entirely true, if anything I feel a bit better today, the day after my birthday than I did yesterday.  But, seeing as that's what I'm writing about, as a title it will do.  Birthday's are funny things, when you're a child they're exciting things to look forward to, but the older you get, the less thrilling the idea of getting even older becomes. Not that I mind being this age, I just didn't really want to be it just yet.

It's not my birthday that bothers me so much though, I'm not sure that I'm ready for Mahe to be five yet.  Not only does it mean that he's off to school (sob) but it also means that we've been here for nearly five years.  That seems like such a long time!  If I try to remember five years ago, and what I thought I'd be doing five years on, I'm pretty sure that this isn't what I pictured.

Not that I can really complain, in that time I've had two beautiful daughters, and the boys have grown into two lovely boys, but it's not really what I imagined, or to be honest wanted.  Don't get me wrong, on the whole I'm happy here, but it's times like this that the homesickness really kicks in.

So yes, birthdays, a year older, another year on, but I think I'd like normal service to resume instead please.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Road works and birthdays

As you may have gathered from Mahe's birthday party theme, he's very into road signs at the moment.  For his birthday last week, we ordered him his very own road sign.  Narrowing it down to a favourite was a bit of a hard decision, as there seem to be so many that he likes, but the current favourite is the "dead end" sign.

Dead end signs aren't usually used here in New Zealand, apparently, but I found a great chap on trademe, who will put anything that you want onto a sign. They're for "man caves" but seem to be just as suitable for five year olds.

I don't know if we should be concerned about just how into road signs he is, at daycare the other day, he told one of his teachers that he wished he could talk about road signs all of the time. He also came home with a pile of drawings of road signs that he'd done, including this one:

He explained that it's a picture of him asleep in bed, dreaming of road signs.  (Men at work in this case).  I think it's just Mahe though, he was the same (and still is to an extent) about trains, and then after that dark tunnels.  I do wonder what will be next though.

Kai's birthday presents were more along the more usual boy gifts of lego and the like.  They both got light sabres though, which are quiet cool, they make light sabre (or even light saver!) type noises when swished around.  Anja is quite taken with them too. (Ignore the fact that she has odd wellies, and no trousers on....)

I had got things I wanted to tell you about tandem breastfeeding, and anniversaries, but that can wait for next time.....