Four…

My little girl who loves to laugh, how on earth did you actually just turn four? I blinked my eyes and the bump in my tummy has turned into a big girl, seemingly overnight!

denita 38w4d

{the morning you were born}

You complete our family with your belly laughs and your deep-voice singing, with your conversations (with yourself) in Greek and your crazy giggles.

singing

You have gotten so tall, but you are still so little. You love to hug your bunny and teddy at bed time, and you shush your baby dollies to sleep in your arms. You love playing with teeny-tiny things, colouring in and painting. You adore shiny things, sparkles and anything pink! “Making a mess” is your middle name, and a meal well-enjoyed is usually all over yourself by the time you are finished eating.

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You have a thing for shoes and hand-bags, a girl after my own heart. Your lips are always shimmering in lip-gloss, and your tiny nails are often coated with lacquer (preferably pink). You are our little lunatic who loves to dress up and sing to yourself (usually made-up songs.) You love to swim (and impressed us hugely by going from not-even-putting-your-face-in-the-water to swimming-across-the-pool from one day to the next!)

Caris

You are full of life, and full of mischief, and you sometimes challenge the limits of my patience and my parenting skills. I love you with all of my heart and I am so glad that you are my little girl.

Happy birthday my baby girl, don’t ever stop being you!

bicycle

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Growing up…

There is a scene near the end of Mary Poppins that always causes a lump in my throat. I have seen the movie many, many times, both as a child, and recently with my own children. In the scene, Mary is having a conversation with the children while she readies them to go and fly kites in the park with their parents. The children plead with her not to leave, and question whether she loves them. She replies “And what would happen to me, may I ask, if I loved all the children I had to say goodbye to?” Gets me every time.

I always wonder if school teachers feel a bit like this, as they say goodbye to their class each year. I think about how sad all the children are to say goodbye. Change is so hard when you are only little, but they manage to move on so quickly. I know it must be sad for the teachers to say goodbye too, despite their hard Mary Poppins-like exteriors.

Alex was very teary towards the end of grade R. The thought of going to “big school” frightened the life out of him. He kept telling me that he wasn’t ready. Grade R had gotten off to a rough start but ended up being a really wonderful year. His teacher, Georgia, was phenomenal; she had the right balance of toughness and nurturing to help Alex grow and thrive. She was absolutely amazing when he broke his arm and handled him so gently and kindly. Alex loved Georgia. So naturally, saying goodbye was very hard for Alex. He could not contain his tears when he hugged Georgia goodbye on the last day of school. A few days before Grade one started he pleaded with me to take him back to Grade R so he could be in Georgia’s class again. But saying goodbye and moving on is all part of growing up. (He still pops in to visit Georgia after school whenever he can!)

alex first day

We had many teary upsets during the December holiday, and anxiety about school starting. The first day of school arrived, and dressed in his brand new uniform, we joined the scores of parents seated in the hall with their little ones. Excitement at seeing all their friends after the long break helped soften the anxiety that everyone was feeling in their hearts. Lumps were in every parent’s throat as we waited for the classes to be announced.

hall

Once the excitement of the selection was over, the kids all settled down in their class-rooms, and it was time for the parents to leave. Alex looked up at me with his big blue eyes glistening. We were both fighting back tears. His eyes pleaded for me not to go. My heart broke for my baby boy, he suddenly looked so small in his over-sized uniform. But I left, and he was fine. The second day was worse, and he was fighting back tears on the way to school. But that too passed, and each day got easier.

A few months have passed now since that first day, and Alex has really become a big boy. He is physically taller, his hair is shorter, and his face has lost the toddler chubbiness. I’m not going to say that grade one has been a breeze so far, because it hasn’t been, but he has slowly found his way to feeling comfortable in his skin again. The school day is longer and the break periods are shorter, but he comes home happy most days, despite having homework to do when we get home. He is learning to read and do maths, and received full marks for his recent maths and spelling tests, so he is definitely coping with the workload and the new school routine. He loves bringing interesting things to Show and Tell  on Wednesdays and enjoys the days they have sport after school immensely. He still has some trouble making new friends, and just fitting in, in general, but I can see the confident boy inside him lurking much closer to the surface than it has ever been before.

His new teacher is nice, and Alex seems to like her, but gone are the days of the nurturing, loving pre-school teachers, who chat to you every day and end up being your friend by the end of the year. It’s different now, they are on the Big-School hamster wheel, that is spinning way too fast for my liking. Communication with the teacher is limited to a quick hello in the mornings, as Alex usually rushes out of the class by himself in the afternoons as soon as he sees me outside. It’s sad really, that the days of our children being little are so very short. It seems like just the other day that we were walking into the pre-school for the first time, and its already over three years ago!

Before I know it, Grade One will be over, and we will be dealing with the changes of the next phase of Alex’s school career. Play-dates and toys will make way for school sport matches and homework and assignments, and soon the short pants of primary school will become the long grey ones with blazers, preparing our baby boy for wearing suits to his jobs one day. I want to scream “Stop, this is all going too fast!”, knowing that nothing can stop time from marching along relentlessly.

I am enjoying watching Alex grow up and change as each new phase passes. I would be lying though if I said it wasn’t breaking my heart in the process.

 

 

Six

My darling Alex,

Six is not a very big number.

It is the number of legs on an insect or the largest number of dots on standard dice.

Six is half a dozen; or the most harmonious of single digit numbers (if you are into numerology.)

According to Winnie the Pooh, it is when we get CLEVER! (And you are so very clever!)

Alex baby with poem

If you are in the mood for mathematical titbits, six is the only number that is both the sum and the product of three consecutive positive numbers. A Cube has six faces, and a six sided polygon is called a hexagon.

A guitar has six strings, and the Star of David has six points. (Although according to you, a Star of David is not a real star, because a real star only has five points)

In Astrology, Virgo is the Sixth sign of the zodiac. (And happens to be your star sign!)

Six is also the number of years that I have been a mom. I still cannot believe that six years have passed since you made your way into my life and into my heart. Six years that have changed my life in the most indescribable and incredible way. Six of the best years of my life.

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But despite six not being a very big number, it is so very, very big.

You have grown so much this year between 5 and 6, both physically and emotionally. You have blossomed from a shy and sometimes anxious little guy into a confident, rambunctious boy. A boy who seems to have transformed from a baby into a big-boy overnight. A boy who can fetch his own food, and swim by himself, and asks questions that are way beyond his years. A boy who has lost six baby teeth, and is getting so, so tall. A boy who loves running and swimming and being outside. A boy who looks after his sister, and makes sure he always holds her hand in a busy parking lot (or on the beach). A boy who loves to wrestle with his older brothers, and lick their faces while pretending to give them a kiss. A boy who loves animals and wants to be a vet when he grows up. A wild animal vet, to be specific! (And thinks that the solution to saving the rhinos is to kill all the hunters!)

A boy who will be going to Grade 1 next year. Big School.

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A boy who doesn’t really need me that much anymore with each passing day.

A boy who LOVES dragons.

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And yes, you asked for a Night Fury Dragon cake this year …

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This growing up thing is bitter-sweet. As much as I want you to be independent and do things for yourself, the thought of you not needing me anymore breaks my heart. Even Daddy said that at your party this year he felt like you never really needed us to be there. You played and ran and laughed with your friends, and it was the most beautiful thing to watch.

You are the most kind and caring boy, with an infectious laugh and the sweetest smile.

And to quote a lyric from a Styx song: “Don’t ever change, stay as sweet as you are…”

I love you my boy, forever and always.

DandA

 

 

 

 

 

Things you should know before becoming a parent

I was looking at Alex and Caris playing together yesterday afternoon. They both suddenly look so big, so grown-up. The traces of baby-hood have all but disappeared from Alex’s face, and Caris is not too far behind him. It makes me sad to think that their baby days are over. They are growing up way too fast…

playing together

I have pretty much stopped buying baby magazines. Not because I know everything, but because the articles are becoming less and less appropriate now that my children are getting older. (And I think I’ve pretty much covered the breast-feeding / weaning / solid-food / potty-training cycle by now!) But I suddenly had this thought about how wonderful it would be to read one of those “things you wish someone had told you before you had a baby”  lists right now. I am clearly feeling sentimental.

So I decided to write my own list, and it goes something like  this:

  1.  You will be responsible for another human being. All day. Every day. For the rest of your life. It’s both overwhelming and liberating at the same time. It will be one of the greatest privileges you will ever have.
  2. You will be tired all the time. Very tired. But somehow you will make it through every day with a smile on your face as you tuck your babies into bed, and kiss them goodnight.
  3. You will have an empty feeling when your children are not physically with you. This will even apply if they are asleep in a different room less than ten meters away.
  4. You will feel heartbroken thinking about a time in the future when your children are no longer little. You will ache with every fibre of your being at the thought that one day they will leave you. And that time will come sooner than you think.
  5. You will not know what you did with your spare time before you had kids.
  6. You will have your buttons pushed, and your limits tested on a daily basis!
  7. Your priorities will change. Big time. Every decision you make will be underpinned by the fact that you now have children.
  8. You will experience what unconditional love really feels like.
  9. Your heart will burst with love when those deep dark grey eyes look into yours for the first time. This will be the happiest and scariest moment of your life.
  10. The mere thought of something happening to that tiny little being will leave you feeling paralyzed and unable to breathe. As will the thought of something happening to you.
  11. Your children will make you angrier than you have ever been in your life. But you will still love them. And you will forgive them.
  12. You will feel proud.
  13. It will break your heart when your child is hurt, sick or upset.
  14. You will struggle to imagine what your life was like before children.
  15. Hearing “I love you” come out of your child’s mouth for the first time will soften you in a way that nothing else ever can.
  16. You will change. Irrevocably.
  17. You will love with all of your heart and soul.
  18. You will play with Cars, Lego, baby dolls and the like, and you will colour-in with crayons! And the smile from your child will make it all worth it.
  19. And last, but not least, you will try to savour every moment, be it good or bad, because child-hood is just too damn short!

A year…

A year (and a bit, seeing as this post has been a draft for over 2 weeks!) has slipped past, almost unnoticed, since I began writing this blog, and indeed since I went back to work after the birth of my daughter.

The last twelve months have vanished away in record speed, and I still remember that car trip to the office, without my baby girl wrapped up safely in her car seat behind me, as if it was only yesterday. How I left my heart at home that day, and how I had to fight the urge to phone home every few minutes to see if she was okay. How my heart broke when I got home, to find that she was just fine without me, and how she seemed a little older already, by missing just one day.

{Caris at six Months}

1. Caris Nov 011

In a year, Caris has blossomed and bloomed like a tiny bud into the most beautiful rose: sweet smelling, gorgeous to behold, and a pleasure to all who encounter her. A sweet little girl whose infectious giggles delight everyone and whose hugs are the yummiest ones around.

{Caris Now}

4. Caris Nov 2012 -2 7. Caris Nov 2012 -2 4. Caris Nov 2012 -1

In the same year, Alex has transformed from a chubby toddler into a lean, lanky boy. A boy whose language has progressed in leaps and bounds, and whose inherant shyness has all but disappeared. A boy who is funny and mischievous, and loving and kind.

{Alex a year ago}

2. Alex Nov 2011

{Alex Now}

8. Alex Nov 2012 -1 5. Alex Nov 2012 -2

The relationship that is developing between my two little people is just priceless. They play together so nicely now, and have a bond that I hope will endure throughout their lifetime. They seem to have their own unique way of communicating, and can often be found hidden away behind the curtains, or in the corner of a room playing with animals, cars, tea-sets or some other favourite toy of the week, engrossed in their own little world, all  while chatting and giggling away. Sure, they fight too, but that is all part of growing up, and I am so grateful that they will always have each other, through good times and bad. Caris has become a little copy-cat, and wants to do whatever Alex is doing, and it is clear that he is the apple of her eye! And Alex loves his little sister, too.

Happy Anniversary Baby Makes Six!

{Alex and Caris one year ago}

3. Alex and Caris Nov 2011

{Alex and Caris now}

6. Alex and Caris Nov 2012 -1

Alex and Caris Nov 9. 2012 -2

The innocence of childhood

The other day, I let Alex watch Toy Story 3 for the first time. He loves Toy Story 1 and 2, but I had always felt that the 3rd one was a little mature for a preschooler. Let’s face it: that pink bear is quite nasty. And the baby doll is very a little creepy at times. But I figured that seeing as he had been introduced the characters during the Disney on ice show, that it would be ok for him to watch. (And if I am perfectly honest, I could not bear to watch Cars or Cars 2 for the five-millionth time!)

So while Caris had her afternoon nap, Alex gathered up his Toy Story friends and we started watching the movie. (When we watch Cars, the Radiator Springs Gang and all the Racing Cars are gathered to re-enact movie scenes while he watches.) After some time, he looked at me with his blue eyes, wide and filled with such sadness, and asked me “Why doesn’t Andy want to play with his toys anymore?” I was quite taken aback.  So I explained, while fighting back the lump in my throat, that when children grow up, their interests change and they don’t play with toys anymore. He took a while to digest what I had said, and then responded,  “I will always want to play with my toys!” (… and continued playing with his Toy Story figurines, hardly paying much attention to the movie as he was so engrossed in his make-believe world.)  For me this perfectly illustrates how innocent children are, and how wonderful it is that they are happy to lose themselves in an imaginary world. And that they cannot imagine not playing!

I love the fact that Alex gets completely lost in his games, and how his toys, whether they are trains, sea creatures, cars or people, have conversations and interactions with each other. He becomes totally immersed in his own little world, and it is so cute to watch. I do not have many memories of my own early childhood, but I do remember how much I loved my Barbie dolls, and how for me, they were real. I can remember setting up bedrooms, kitchens and lounges for my doll families to live in; and how they had tea parties and luncheons, while sitting in their (very 70’s!) basket chairs. (…And how much I loved changing their outfits and shoes, of course!)

It is hard for me to imagine a time, when Alex will not be a child anymore, and how he will inevitably morph into a sulky, moody teenager, much like the teenage Andy in Toy Story. How his love of playing imaginary games with his toys will be replaced by going out with friends, and being interested in girls and the like. And sadly, time seems to be flying by so quickly; it’s hard to believe that he will already be four years old in two weeks time. It is a pity really, that childhood is such a small percentage of one’s overall lifespan. And how, when we are children, we do not really appreciate how golden this time is, or how wonderful it is to be able to disappear into one’s own imagination. (Before the responsibility of having homework, having to study, and ultimately having to earn a living kicks in.)

Just last night, while he and Gary were playing with the Toy Story Gang (Only because  his absolute favourite Radiator Springs Bunch was in the box of cars downstairs), I had to smile as he announced, “Quick everybody, HIDE! The BABIES are coming, and they will BREAK us!” because Caris had approached the bed, eager to join in on the fun.

Long may he play, and be immersed in that beautiful imagination … (and I hope that one day, when he has children of his own, he will lose himself once again, in imaginary games with his little ones.)

{Some grainy cell-phone pics of play-time}

{Trains, trains, everywhere…}

{Woody Rescuing Lighting with my shoe!}

{Play-time at Nanna’s house}

{This “Lightning” guy shows up EVERYWHERE}