Friday, December 31, 2010

Feeling like I should be “doing something”

I get times when I feel a great need to be doing something constructive and artistic, but I haven’t found something that works around the children just yet.
Gardening is great, but the results are slow and I’m more of an instant-gratification type.  Knitting and crocheting the same, even though I am getting a lot quicker at both.

Scrap-booking, painting, sculpture or writing are great, but difficult with pre-schoolers around, and impossible with a speed-crawling baby intent on pressing the shiny blue button on the PC.

I am also easily bored, and need to give myself small, specific goals in order to actually get into a habit of doing something regularly.  With the knitting & crochet I have a list of mad ideas to try, in amongst making practical items for sale in the shop, and I tend to sit down at the end of the day to do that.
With this blog, I am making myself post once a week, and trying to write about 500 words for each post.  If I find I have a lot to say, I am writing out a couple of posts, and saving one for the following week, so I can either get ahead of myself or have a week off.  It also helps me to think of topics if I write notes when I am inspired by something, so I can then put it together later on.  I am carrying a little notebook around in my handbag for this purpose, but as I get most of my inspiration when driving, I think I need to get hold of a Dictaphone or something.

I have also been thinking about New Year resolutions.  I decided a couple of years ago to set 3 realistic goals at the beginning of the year and make a decent effort to achieve them.
The first year I started I planned to: listen to and play more music; learn a new language; learn to run.  I managed the music and the running, and researched what language I might want to learn.

This year I kept the language plan, and aimed to exercise regularly (running was out as pregnant by this time), I also aimed to cook more new recipes and build up a collection of tried and trusted meals.  This ended up very well in me creating a fundraising recipe book for a local voluntary organisation.

I still have not managed the new language, but I will be buying myself an Earworms CD with some Christmas money, so I will add it to my goals for 2011.  I think I can combine my next plan to start running regularly (when Kaitereo is in kindy and Hakopa is asleep) with learning Mandarin by listening when I’m on the treadmill.

So, that’s 2 goals sorted – learn Mandarin and start running regularly – now I have to figure out what else I can realistically achieve in 12 months.  Knitted Taj Mahal anyone?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Caterpillars and courgettes

Now the frantic preparations for Christmas are all over and done with, I can sit down and write a line or two.

Summer is proving to be hot and dry and the local farmers are getting very worried that they won’t have enough grass to feed the cows and to make hay and silage for winter feed.  We have seen the problem on our own land, and Tareka took to break-feeding the heifers from our Friendly Local Farmer in order to make sure they ate all the rubbish stalky grass, as well as the little bit of nice green stuff at the bottom.

I am slowly learning a bit more about cows as we look after the Jerseys from the FLF.  We have a nice agreement going where he uses our place for a bit of extra grazing, and in return we get the paddocks managed and get access to the stock water for our own needs.  He also sends a fair amount of meat our way whenever he has a beast slaughtered, and he’s raising a couple of calves for us this year too (but we’ll be paying him for those ones, as it’s pretty expensive!)

Having access to stock water has meant that my children have been able to play in the new paddling pool they got for Christmas despite the lack of rain, and as a result have been out in it every morning since we put it up.  It has the added bonus that the water sits in black alkathene pipes all day, so by the time we fill the pool it’s as hot as a bath!  I am being very conscientious and using the water from the pool on the garden, so we are not using any more water than usual.

The garden is thriving, and I’ve been feeding all the plants that have started flowering in preparation for fruit-set.  I have a Bokashi bucket outside the back door, so I’ve been using the liquid from that on the veg, and so far it seems to be doing them well.  The pumpkin, kamo kamo and zucchini are all flowering, and we have had fruit of the zucchini already.  The tomatoes have been a bit battered by the wind, but a couple of flowers seem to be hanging on so we may get fruit yet.

The broccoli is going great guns, but I have spotted a few chewed leaves and green caterpillars, so I need to think about spraying.  Tareka is planning to zap it with toxic chemicals, but I am going to try making something from the rhubarb leaves first, see if I can’t be a bit clever by saving us money and being a bit less nasty to the environment at the same time.

I’ve also offered the children a prize for every 10 caterpillars they spot.  They aren’t willing to collect them yet, so we go round together and I either squish them, or pick them off for the kids to stomp on.  I have taught the kids to make sure that if they are stomping on caterpillars to make sure they do it quickly and thoroughly, so the little mini-beast doesn’t suffer.  He may be eating my plants, but there’s no need to be cruel.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I love therapy

So I had the first of six sessions with a clinical psychologist on Monday.  Now for those of you that don’t know me, I suffered from clinical depression as a teenager, which came to a head when I was in my first year of University, culminating in some fairly severe self-harm; thanks to some utterly wonderful friends having the guts to tell me I needed help (thank you guys, you know who you are) I ended up on Prozac and having counseling.

Counseling was the best thing I ever did, it saved my life and my sanity, but I think I stopped going sooner than I should have, as I never really quite resolved the issues of my teens properly.  However, it gave me the ability to sense when the black dog is at my heel again, and take myself off for more counseling when I need it.

Since moving to NZ and having children, I have resolved a lot of my issues with the support of my wonderful, patient husband, but I know I still have a few things to deal with.  I tend to get bogged down in the mire when I am sleep-deprived, so it was this that took me to the doctors recently.  She suggested anti-depressants, but I know a lot of my depression is better dealt with by talking to someone, rather than drugs, so I asked if we could hold off on the pills until I had completed the counseling and then take it from there; my doctor was very supportive.

There have been a lot of ad campaigns in NZ recently about mental health, and that it’s OK to admit that you’re not OK, and to seek help, so it was my good fortune that there is a free program through the Primary Health Organisation enabling me to have 6 sessions with a clinical psychologist.  This is one step up from counseling and exactly what I need, as I have done a lot of talking and reasoning about my issues, but I am at a stage where I need to learn practical steps for coping when I am in the situations that trigger my depression and anxiety.

At my first session we went over my history, and the reasons that brought me to counseling this time, and my psychologist concluded that I am a master of avoidance.  I have to admit she is right, I do everything to avoid the situations that cause me the most stress, but in avoiding confronting them, I end up dreading them and getting more worked up and anxious about what might happen.  She has set me a task to do before our next session, in which I need to list the pros and cons of avoidance, in order to show me that, while there are a lot of benefits to avoidance, there are a lot of reasons why avoidance is damaging to me and my relationships.

Rationally I know that avoidance is not good, but I will need a lot of convincing to show me that the benefits of confrontation outweigh the benefits of avoiding it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not running at full capacity

I am still not 100% well, and this has been shown by my attempt to get back into normal routine since Mum arrived.  I have been getting tired just climbing out of bed and organising my face into awake mode, let alone trying to get 3 children up, fed, washed and dressed by 8am 5 days a week.

Thankfully most of the extra-curricular activities have now finished for the Christmas holidays, so it's only school I have to worry about now, and having Mum here to help when Tareka is working makes a big difference.

We have been out to a few things, most notably the local Christmas Parade, where the children were overloaded with lollies and ice blocks, and Hakopa discovered the joy of chocolate ice cream.

The floats were all of a vaguely connected Christmas/New Zealand/Fairy tale theme, along with an impressive rendering in cardboard and tinsel of the local power station.

The garden is sprouting beautifully, and despite a few minor leaf miners, our crops are growing vigorously unmolested.  Even the pathetic watermelon which literally paled at the idea of being in the garden, instead of in its nice little pot on the windowsill has gamely grown its first true leaves and is struggling towards the sky.

Hakopa is now crawling properly, instead of doing the crazy swimming manoeuvre he was using to get around a month ago.  This is great for him, but now means we have to be on constant orange alert to prevent Barbies best shoes being consumed by the baby.

The girls are delighting in the unlimited attention from Omi, and she is doing very well keeping up with their demands to read, play games, dress up and jump on the tramp.  (That's a trampoline, not a random homeless man in the back paddock).


In other news, I would like to congratulate Pak n Save on Mill Street, Hamilton for finally correcting a terrible wrong.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chesty McPhlegm

I have been rather poorly this last week.  A week last Tuesday, my husband had had enough of my complaining and sent me off to the Doctor.  The Doctor sent me for blood tests.  The Phlebotomist was the most unpleasant and grumpy person I have ever had the misfortune to encounter who nearly made me cry. Then I went home.

The following day I was at Playgroup being organised, and then I got a call from the Doctor informing me that she suspected I had a pulmonary embolism and said I needed to get to hospital for a scan immediately.

A round of frantic phone calls and Tareka zoomed in to collect me and the children, and we met Nana and Poppa at the hospital.  The respitory specialist asked me lots of questions involving long-haul flights, smoking, contraceptive pills and obesity to which I responded in the negative and then he concluded that I did not have a blood clot, but they gave me a chest x-ray just in case.

I was sent home with a viral chest infection and a command to rest from the specialist.

As soon as I got home and allowed myself the luxury of being ill, I promptly got a lot worse and spent the weekend in bed coughing, wheezing and sleeping.  I am just now starting to recover, and have anti-biotics as the chest infection has turned from a dry, wheezy cough to a wet, lumpy one.  It's lovely.

This is the first time I have been ill enough to need Tareka to take more than 1 day off work to help me, I don't get sick very often, but when I do, I do it properly.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When life hands you lemon trees

The veg garden is starting to look like it might produce something edible – the broccoli is lush and leafy, the beans are starting to wind their way up the frame and the tomatoes are recovering from being transplanted and starting to branch out.

We have a few seedlings still to plant out when they are big enough – the cucumbers are almost ready, the cherry tomatoes have just popped up and I am expecting to see the leaves of the first capsicum by the weekend.

The patch of weeds at the back of the house where the garage will eventually stand is now planted with pumpkin, kamo kamo and watermelon, so I hope it will not be long before it is covered in sprawling tendrils, bursting with flowers and swelling into luscious fruit.

Our fruit trees are either blossoming, or starting to produce fruit, and even the little camellia I planted in a bid to grow something pretty is gamely sprouting shiny new leaves.

The only tree that has failed to thrive is the lemon tree.  Now this lemon tree used to stand in Great Grandma’s garden, and produced a few juicy offerings every year.  I love the fact that just about every NZ garden has a lemon tree, when in England they were such a luxury item, so I always asked Grandma if I could have a few to make some lemon curd once in a while.

  One year Great Grandma decided she had had enough of my demands, and told me that I had stripped her tree bare and it would never fruit again.  Knowing that Great Grandma was the Matriarch of my husband’s family, and also knowing her quick temper and barbed remarks were not something I ever took personally, I bowed to her wishes and never touched the tree again.

Great Grandma passed away a year and a half ago, having lived very well til the age of 95.  It was a sad day when she passed, but she was ready to see her Fred again.  Her estate was left for a year while arrangements were made, but in due course it was sold, and her children (including my father-in-law) sorted out what to do with all her belongings.

Along with some furniture, we gained some treasures from the garden, namely the dwarf apple tree, and yes, the lemon tree.  We saw these as nice memorials to an important woman in my husband’s life, but I had a sneaking suspicion that Great Grandma would have harumpfed had she known.

When we planted the apple tree it took almost straight away, and even gave us sharp, crisp fruit the first autumn it was in, but the lemon tree just sat in the ground, listlessly trailing its few remaining leaves and looking forlorn.

It’s not looking too good now, but we are determined not to give up on it just yet.  We had a Pomegranate tree in a previous house that looked utterly dead, so I pruned it back to almost nothing in a bid to tidy the garden, and it burst forth with new leaves the following spring.

I have plans to give lemon curd for Christmas presents next year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bugs part 2

As well as the death-defyingly cute bugs attacking my pumpkins, there are also some artistic insects trying to invade my house.  We first encountered them this time last year, but it took a while before we figured out what was going on.

I first noticed that there was a strange smear of what looked like mud or clay on a curtain in the bedroom, and I was puzzled as to how I had managed to get a footprint up so high.  I concluded that I must have done it when I was hanging them, and simply not noticed, so I just cleaned it up and forgot all about it.

I then noticed that we had a lot of funny-looking bees in the house that seemed to be coming out of the curtains.  They were all black, but with pale grey stripes and looked nothing like any other bee or wasp I had ever seen.  I followed one back to where it had emerged and pulled the fold in the curtain apart, to be greeted by what looked like a little clay pot made by a child, hanging from my curtain.   Turns out I had Mason Wasps.

These little creatures have a fascinating life cycle, in that the female builds a clay nest made of little cells, into which she deposits a paralysed orb-web spider.  She then lays an egg in the cell with the spider, so the baby wasp has a nice fresh meal to wake up to.  The Mummy wasp also makes a distinct whirring sound when she is building the nest, like a little cement mixer processing the compound for her spider-prison.  I know the sound well now, and can stop the wasps before they get established.

When you have not noticed that the Mason Wasp has been busy whirring away, you close your curtains at the end of the day and get bombarded by stupefied arachnids.  Even for someone not afraid of insects or creepy crawlies, it can be a somewhat harrowing experience.   I dare say the spiders aren’t too impressed either.

There was another new invader in my veg patch the other day.  I had noticed that the rhubarb was looking a little chewed, but I thought it was just random damage as rhubarb leaves are toxic, and used as insecticides in organic farming, so I was fairly sure nothing ate them.  How wrong I was.

Tareka noticed the damage had worsened overnight, and promptly went digging in the mulch to find the culprit.  He was greeted by something like the caterpillar out of "Bug's Life".  It was so fat it looked like it was a CGI and I half expected it to start talking

Turns out it was a cutworm larvae, and it had been eating our rhubarb leaves as it’s rock-hard and will chew through plate metal if it’s hungry enough.
Now I must admit that although I did do a degree in Applied Ecology, and attempt to recycle, make compost and knit my own yoghurt, I am not averse to the sprinkling of Blue Slug Death to prevent slimy critters eating my home-grown falafel, so when Tareka got the manic look in his eye that can only signify the use of Farming Equipment, I graciously stepped aside.

Tareka and I both worked in agricultural R&D for a while, so we are both pretty clued up on the use of pesticides, but while I dreaded the idea of donning the Tyvek suit and breathing apparatus, Tareka seems to relish it, so it has become his job in our little horticultural plan to spray the Evil Chemicals of Doom and destroy the Harbingers of Leaf Wilt.  He had some chemical in the shed (properly stored well out of reach of everyone, in a locked box), and duly measured, mixed and prepared.

 He then went out and sprayed the buggers til they drowned.He

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The OhNoSecond

Parenting sometimes seems to be long periods of mind-numbing tedium, interspersed with moments of white-hot terror; parenting in the OhNoSecond.  For those that do not know, the OhNoSecond is that moment when you get a sudden hit of adrenalin as you realise that you’re about to plunge over a precipice into a pit of pointy sticks and bitey animals.  It’s the Fight or Flight instinct kicking in and it seems to happen a lot to me.

  I think most people develop preternatural senses when they have children, in order to prevent their genetic line dying out the minute it learns to sit up and reach for the power socket.  This makes for a hypersensitivity to potential and perceived danger, so I often jump at things that I would never even have noticed in the past.

The one that seems to occur most is when I am in the car; Mapera is chanting away to herself in a slightly sinister monotone, Kaitereo has resorted to repeating “MaperaMaperaMapera” in a bid to get attention, and then some small part of my brain starts to tap on the shoulder of my subconscious going “there’s something not quite right here”  tap tap…tap tap.
  I am usually in ZombieAutoDrive mode by this time, having zoned out the constant noise from the back seats, when all of a sudden the little bit of brain that is in charge of Panicking and Leaping breaks down the door shouting “YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE THIRD CHILD!!”

At this point my head is instantly filled with visions of my baby sitting on the side of the road, howling like an enraged, alcoholic Buddha as I drive obliviously away.  My rational brain knows that I can’t have left him behind, but my inner Cave-Mum takes over shouting “BABY GONE! BABY GONE!”  I twist my rear-view mirror around to try and see if he is in his car seat, and 9 times out of 10 I see his feet wiggling around in happy, solid reality; but occasionally, he has shifted a bit out of range and then real panic sets in and I have to pull over to the side of the road and race round to his door to check he has not thrown himself from his car seat in a desperate attempt to fly.

I have tried to counter the problem by having Mapera’s car seat secured next to his on the back seat, so I can ask her if her baby brother is there.  This works most of the time, unless Mapera is having a moment of concern and says “I can’t see him breathing” and the whole Cave-Mum thing starts all over again.

It is times like this when I seriously consider agoraphobia a sensible lifestyle choice.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bugs part 1

I have hayfever.  This is a new thing for me since moving to New Zealand, as I am sure I never had it in England.  In fact, I remember faking hayfever at primary school, so I didn’t have to play on the school field at lunch time, and could hang out in the playground with the other cool kids.

I had an allergy test last year to determine the exact cause of my hayfever…actually, hayfever is a pretty rubbish word for something that makes your entire face feel like it is being gnawed by hungry termites.  I think I should come up with a new name for it, based on the symptoms it produces – streaming nose, alternately watering then crusty eyes, bouts of sneezing, feeling like all your eyelashes have just decided to molt simultaneously and are scraping their way round your cornea like a sadistic synchronized swimming team.

It should be called Itchy Face Torture.

So, I have Itchy Face Torture, and my allergy tests confirmed that I have an allergy to rye grass.  I thought rye was something in that very healthy brown bread people pretend to like, along with buckwheat and falafel, but oh no; it is what NZ dairy farmers grow to feed their cows.  So we moved into the countryside and the Itchy Face Torture began.  I am usually the sort of person happy to load up on appropriate medication and get on with things, so I am not used to having to suffer through discomfort (except with childbirth, but that’s a whole other blog post), but as I am breastfeeding, I cannot take anything that would get into my bloodstream, and therefore into the breast milk.

I have a nasal spray which works for about 20 minutes, and 3 types of eye drops; one from the pharmacy, one from the doctor and one from the surreal herbalist in the airport which Tareka refers to as hippy juju medicine.  So I basically squirt my mucous membranes every 20 minutes and soldier on.

Along with Itchy Face Torture, I am learning just how much of a townie I really am.  Now I’ve grown a few of my own veggies in a little patch of garden before, and bemoaned the usual garden pests – slugs, snails, goldfish-memory forgetting to water the plants – but being out in proper countryside has brought me into contact with a whole load of new animals trying to either eat me, my crop or take over my house.  I am fortunate that pretty much all the bugs in NZ are non-toxic ones (unlike Australia where you are under threat of death from anything with more than 2 legs, or even less if you count the snakes), but that is cold comfort when they are sucking your life-blood from the back of your knee.

The trouble is that a lot of the bugs trying to systematically destroy my hard work in my little veg patch are comic-book cute.  It’s the ultimate defense mechanism “I’m going to decimate your pumpkins but you can’t kill me cos I look like THIS!”

Monday, November 15, 2010

OK, the plan for the blog

Raising Country Kids - weekly stories from rural New Zealand

I will attempt to write an amusing and/or interesting blog post once a week all about raising 3 children in rural New Zealand.  I will tell you all about our lifestyle block, our community and the pressures and joys of raising kids out here.  This is my plan, I will start at the end of this week.

Wish me luck.

Does everyone really have one book in them?

I heard that somewhere; the idea that everyone has one book to write.  I think JK Rollings must have my share, because I love writing when I can think of something to write about, but I never seem to have enough for a book.  Not even a novelette.

I have tried writing short stories, romance novels, scary thrillers and saucy bodice-rippers and the furthest I ever got was a rough plot outline with no ending and a chapter about engineers.

I'd love to write a book, or even do a column in a magazine or something, but I don't have the training, qualifications or experience and I have no idea how to start.  When I want to write about something, I tend to just sit down and write as I think, I am not very good at structure and research.  I'd love to have a blog that people want to read, but I don't think I have enough to say to post something regularly.
I have started making notes when I get ideas for the blog, and I am going to make a concerted effort to post once a week, but I would love feedback from other writers and from readers as to what you would like to read about.

Would people want to read about the minutiae of my life?  I don't know, they watch Big Brother, so maybe posts about the nature of making toast and trying to prevent the baby from becoming the house vacuum cleaner would be thrilling for some.  I also wonder if another "parenting from the front line" blog is just not going to live up to the likes of Whoopee or The 2am Parent's Club
What do people want to hear?  My exploits as a mental teenager?  My life in office work? My teensy bit of travelling?  Maybe all of it, maybe none.

Morning tea time now, time to feed the hordes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A need to prioritise

I am a list-maker.  I like lists; lists make my life into ordered, manageable segments that I can tick or cross off in nice, orderly fashion.  Or so I keep hoping.
I have a list of the things I need to do every day that I often forget (like hanging out the laundry instead of leaving it to fester in the machine); a list of things that I need to do on a particular day each week (in a desperate bid to develop Good Habits); a list of things that I need to do that day (which is renewed each day); a list of current projects I am supposed to be working on (based on my own fickle hobby choices, and voluntary work I seem to attract); a list of meals I am intending to cook that week (in order to avoid the inevitable WeHaveNothingInTheFridge dinner of bread and chutney); a shopping list; a Don't Forget This Important Thing list; a Pending list; a calendar; a year planner and a phone that beeps at me at appropriate intervals to remind me to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

What I think I need to do is properly prioritise everything.  There is almost nothing on any of the lists that constitute life-or-death choices (aside from ensuring the children are fed and watered regularly), so I have to find a way of figuring out what is most important to me.

Firstly (after assuming that anything to do with my children comes before anything else), I think all those things where I am being depended on by another person or group to do something by an agreed date should be the highest priority:

1. Plunket Fundraising
2. PTA Fundraising

I an going to put Plunket first, as I figure I'll be part of the PTA for about 13 years; whereas going to playgroup when my children are all at school or Kindy seems a little redundant.

Next, I think things that have the potential to earn me money should come second (shameless advert coming up)

3. Knitting and crafts for the GiggiGoofer Shop

After that I think I should focus on things that will make me use my brain and stop me from just sitting around knitting all day (which is very tempting)

4.  Feasibility Study for the Plunket Playland I am hoping to create.  This is a long-term thing, so I need to make sure I do a bit on it regularly, or it'll get forgotten.

After that I really need to stop adding more stuff.  I keep having Great Ideas for things I'd like to do, and my list gets longer and longer so I get overwhelmed and disheartened at the sheer scale of it.  Then I do nothing, and the normal, every day stuff builds up and swamps me even more, so I end up sitting around knitting and pretending that the sofa is not buried under a pile of laundry.

I find it hard to get into routines for myself, as Tareka works a 4 on, 4 off shift, so his days off are different every week. This knocks me out of kilter as I want to spend time with him, and end up putting off stuff I am trying to do (like running every day, or getting the accounts up to date).

This week has been particularly difficult as Mapera has had ballet rehearsals just about every night, so we've had to plan meals, school runs and shopping round that, and it's exhausting all of us.
Big show is tomorrow, so with any luck I will be able to get back to normal next week...quick look at the calendar tells me: Sunday Light Party (more about this another time); Monday PTA meeting (should I offer to compile the volunteer database?); Tuesday dress-up at Music (what are we wearing?); Wednesday playgroup and shop work (must finish knitting more hats); Thursday Scrapping party (oh god I hope people turn up); Friday.....oh, looks like we are of to the in-laws for the weekend - time to knit, Skype and sleep.  Bliss.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Since Mapera started school, I have been really enjoying discovering what she is good at and what she enjoys doing.  I am hoping that by being interested in her homework and giving lots of encouragement and praise for her efforts, I will instill a better work and study ethic that I ever had.  Time will tell I suppose, I don't recall starting to slack off really badly til I hit about 16, so we've got a way to go yet.  I am adamant that we will not be getting a television any time soon either, as I am sure it's a big reason why Mapera and her sister are so bright and quick to learn.

Kaitereo has been using astonishingly grown-up language for a 3 year old.  She gets tenses, context and meaning correct more often than her sister, which astounds me.  Only recently she said something along the lines of "we bought something similar to that yesterday".  I keep forgetting that she is only 3, and I often find myself expecting too much from her, and have to reign myself in.

Hakopa is starting to develop a personality now, too.  He's very vocal if you take something off him that he was playing with, or even if you take away something he was looking at.  He lets you know in no uncertain terms when he has had enough of being on the floor and wants to be picked up, and he has a sign for "hungry" that he seems to have invented.  He makes grabbing motions with his hands when he wants food, even if he is lying on his back in the cot.


I've just read that back and I sound like one of those terrible parents who claim that their children are gifted, when really they are spoilt little shits.  I can't help it, I think all my kids are geniuses (should that be genii, or is that just the big blue fella out of Aladdin?)


I wrote recently that my ovaries are clamouring for another child, but I am resisting due to not wishing to subject myself to pregnancy and labour again.  I have been thinking about it in practical terms: do I actually want another child?  Would I mind if it was another girl, and not a boy?  Do I feel like there is someone missing at the table when we all sit down together?
I think my main problem is that I have a feeling of being lopsided with 3 children.  Odd numbers don't seem to sit well with me, I like things to balance out and line up.  I used to eat satsumas by lining up the segments in 2 rows, and in size order; I'd get annoyed if there were more or less than 10 segments, as it usually meant one side was longer (it seems that 10 is the most common number of segments in a satsuma).
I was playing with Hakopa today, making him laugh and trying to get him to say "bum" and I thought about whether I wanted to do all this again, and I think not.  I think I am ready to watch my kids grow up now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Raising little treasures

I read an article in Little Treasures magazine about what people from different cultures think about the New Zealand attitude to raising children.  The general opinion seemed to be that people think Kiwis are more relaxed about safety and appearance, and a bit more militant about promoting breastfeeding, but with less input from extended families around raising the kids.

This is why I love New Zealand for raising my kids...

Kids run around barefoot nearly all year round

They dress themselves and go to Kindy in their favourite superhero costume, or Mum's best sunhat and purple bathrobe and the teachers work it into the days activities.

They are encouraged to pack their own bag for school, and take responsibility for their belongings from day 1

They have the opportunity to go to the beach, the farm or the mountains every weekend

There are still dangerously high climbing frames in the playgrounds, and trees to climb in the towns

Country schools have 100 kids or less, and the teachers know all their names, and their parents names


There is enough land for them to spend the whole day outside, exploring hedgerows, paddling in creeks and catching bugs without having to leave your own garden

There are music groups, playgroups, coffee groups, craft groups and any other group you can think of nearly every day of the week in most towns, and even out in the sticks

Communities seem to be the rule, not the exception

People in supermarkets make funny faces at your kids to make them laugh when they are crying.  Seriously, this happens every time one of mine has a breakdown at the supermarket, someone (young and old) in every isle will stop and try and cheer my kid up.  Brilliant!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I keep thinking of stuff I'd like to do with my life, and I really ought to write it down to see what I can actually achieve.

In no particular order:

1. Become a Zumba instructor

2. Sell something from my Etsy site

3. Complete a Feasibility Study to see if I can do something BIG (see note 4)

4. Set up and run a self-funding indoor playground for my local community

5. Pay off the mortgage before I turn 40

6. Learn how to build a PC from scratch and maintain it

7. Learn basic programming (see note 6)

8. Own a house cow and milk it myself

9. Go hunting

10. Get more people reading my blog who aren't related to me, or just reading out of sympathy

I will have to remember to come back to this in a year or 2 and see how far I get :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The theory of evilution

I have a theory, that when you feel under attack - mentally or physically - you start behaving the age you were during the most traumatic moment in your memory. This is backed up by my behaviour - truculent teen - and my hubby's - unreasonable toddler.

When I feel threatened, I get paranoid and grumpy and start acting like the selfish teenager I was. I think this is because I had some "issues" as a teen that stand out most in my mind compared to other happier memories. Hubby lost his Nana when he was 6 and it hit him hard, as he was very close to his Nana, so when he feels threatened he turns into a stubborn toddler.

This causes some interesting arguments in the Ratcliffe household, when Grumpy Teen meets Stubborn Toddler. Things get thrown, doors get slammed, feet get stamped. We both go off and sulk for a bit, then when we've both grown up again we get back together and sort it out like adults.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The long and whining road

I now understand why my Mum smacked my brother and me. Especially my brother.

My brother was a whiner, and so is my oldest. When Mapera wants something, she whines; when she doesn't get it, she whines; when I tell her no, she whines; when her sister annoys her, she whines; when her sister is playing happily and singing, Mapera whines cos she doesn't want Kaitereo to have a good time without her assistance; when Kaitereo is playing but not doing something The Way According to Mapera, Mapera whines and shrieks and pushes her sister around.

It seems to be a constant white noise in our house, which worsens when Mapera is tired. She is tired a lot at the moment, because school is hard work for a little person. She has a 6 day week with ballet, which makes her more tired. She has been waking in the night lately, for reasons known only to herself, so she is tired in the day. If she sleeps in the day, she is awake late at night, then she is tired getting up early and so the cycle continues.

On top of the whining, everyone in the house has a cold. Tareka is at the flu end of the spectrum, constantly clearing his throat and coughing and standing around looking dazed. I am not a sympathetic nurse, in fact I am the opposite of sympathetic, in a positively deliberate way. I get annoyed when people are sick; mainly because they get in my way being all pathetic and dribbly and generally being rubbish and not helping. If you are sick, go away until you are better and can help me properly, otherwise you are just another person I have to look after.

I have a cold too, but I can't stand around looking dazed, because there are 3 short people in the house who like to spend their time making completely unreasonable demands like "be a fairy" and "get the playdough" and "feed me". I am also trying not to intervene in the arguments as much, unless things turn violent, and it works in that I am not leaping in every 5 minutes to determine who gets the pink Barbie and who gets the purple one; but I am subjecting my poor ears to a lot more of the high-pitched shrieking that goes along with girls working out peaceful resolutions to their differences.


School is doing Mapera the world of good, despite the tiredness. Her teacher assessed her recently, to get a base-line for further assessment, and to determine where she is in terms of reading, writing and comprehension. One test involved the teacher reading out increasingly complicated sentences to her, which Mapera had to repeat back to the teacher as accurately as possible. The teacher told me that most children get the meaning of the sentence, but get a few words wrong, such as saying "flied" instead of "flew"; Mapera got every word of every sentence. 28 out of 28.

Her intelligence is wonderful and I am obviously very proud of her, but I am now barraged with a whole new set of questions "how do I write 'important' Mummy?" "what does 'dislodged' mean Mummy?" "what does this say Mummy?". Her little sister is at the constant question stage too. My kids didn't go through a "why" phase, oh no. My kids went straight from "what dat?" to "what would happen if all the cows were people, and all the people were cows?"

Kaitereo also likes to tell you her plans for the next 5 minutes up to the next 5 years in ever increasing detail "Mummy, I got a monkey card. When we next go to the zoo with Omi, I am going to take the monkey card, so I can show the monkey, ok Mummy? Ok Mummy? OK Mummy?" this sort of conversation requires more response than a grunt and a nod, or it becomes a louder and louder chant of "OK MUMMY? OK MUMMY?" until your ears bleed and you'll agree to anything at all just to stop the noise.

Despite this, my ovaries are trying to convince me that babies are really cute and nice and that I should have another one so that Hakopa can have a buddy closer to his age, and so he won't get left out of things with the girls. My sane and rational brain tells my ovaries that I do not wish to endure the discomfort of pregnancy with 3 short people to look after, and most definitely wants to avoid the nastiness of childbirth again, but my ovaries are not rational and just keep going "but looook at him, he's all alooooone and he needs a little friend".
I have been known to shout "I'll get him a puppy when he's older!" at my nether regions, I think I may be able to convince them with a particularly cute puppy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Parting

My heart was near to breaking,
it was more than I could bear.
She turned and slowly walked away,
and left me standing there.
I knew it had to happen,
one day she'd be leaving me;
but I never knew the heartache,
or the wrench that it would be.
For five short years she'd been all mine,
to cherish and adore.
Now someone else would share her,
she was mine alone no more.
I was tempted to run after her,
am I really such a fool?
Doesn't every Mother feel this way
on their child's first day at school?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Early Father's Day present

1. What is something Daddy always says to you?
M: Don't hit your little sister
K: Don't hit my big sister

2. What makes Daddy happy?
M: Smiling at him
K: You playing with us when Daddy's gone to work

3. What makes Daddy sad?
M: When we go away
K: Walking into the playroom

4. How does your Daddy make you laugh?
M: By poking a face
K: penis penis

5. What did your Daddy like to do when he was little?
M: join the fire brigade
K: play with you

6. How old is your Daddy?
M: 22
K: this big [standing on tiptoe with arms raised]

7. How tall is your Daddy?
K: This big [photo]

M: no this big, I?m bigger [photo]

8. What is his favorite thing to watch on TV?
M: The news
K: Garfield

9. What does your Daddy do when you're not there?
M: Talks to Kaitereo or talks to hisself
K: play with Mapera

10. What is your Daddy really good at?
M: building
K: aeroplane

11. What is your Daddy not very good at?
M: reaching things cos he sometimes gets the wrong thing
K: not working

12. What does your Daddy do for his job?
M: works at the airport. He says NO to everything
K: he builds his shed

13. What is your Daddy's favourite food?
M: Meat
K: Cake

14. What makes you proud of your Daddy?
M: being a prince
K: give me cuddles

15. If your Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be?
M: Mickey Mouse
K: Dorothy the Dinosaur

16. What do you and your Daddy do together?
M: play games
K: play and play and play and play and play

17. How are you and your Daddy the same?
M: our necks are same
K: clothes

18. How are you and your Daddy different?
M: we've got different eyes
K: blue and pink blue and pink

19. How do you know your Daddy loves you?
M: because he always kisses me
K: give me cuddles and kisses

20. What does your Daddy like most about your Mummy?
M: talking to her
K: singing

21. Where is your Daddy's favourite place to go?
M: to McDonalds

22. What is one thing you wish you could change about your Daddy?
M: his hair into green hair that was straight
K: Change his hair into purple hair and put it into BUM hair!

23. What would your Daddy do with a million dollars?
M: buy a little mini tractor
K: buy a big tractor

24. What do you wish you could go and do with your Daddy?
M: go and stay the night at my friends house
K: play

25. What is one thing you hope never changes about your Daddy?
M: his legs
K: that he does a puzzle with us

Word association with small children

Word association with small children
L is me, M is Mapera, K is Kaitereo

L: Buggy

M: Ten

K: Gunga gunga gunga

L: rubbish

M: Light

K: Mumpa bumpa bump hahahaha

L: gobbledegook

M: Alice

K: Akug

L: hamster

M: Mamster

K: Canster, oh no Penis

L: vagina

K: Daffodil

M: crown

L: queen

M: King

K: penis

L: Bottom

M: princess

K: daffodil, oh penis

L: Flower

M: petal

K: [laughing too hard to speak]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Classic quote

We've been reading a book about a little boy who gets an imaginary friend who comes to live with him when his baby brother is born. The imaginary friend (Hullaballoony) is very naughty, and the little boy (Joe) doesn't really like him but can't get rid of him. It all ends very nicely, and is a lovely book, but it got Mapera thinking.

"The naughty mermaid does my bad things Mummy" she said to me

"Well," says I "if that naughty mermaid comes here, you boot it out and tell it that it's not welcome in our house"

"I'm gonna kick it in the knickers" says she

That's my girl.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Smug Mummy Moment

I was tired today, and grumpy, and found my kids very irritating, even though they were behaving very well. I decided to try and do something nice, so when I picked Mapera up from Kindy we went to a couple of shops, then to the library.

I was walking down the street, watching Mapera skip along in the sunshine, with her little sister galloping to catch up and I thought how lovely it all was. We went into the post shop and I walked to the counter pushing the buggy, thinking about what I needed to do when I heard rustling. Like little hands rummaging through a basket of interesting sparkly things.

I turned around ready to bark "Hands off!" and I saw my two precious girls standing next to the Basket of Temptation with their hands clasped behind their backs as they watched two other kids pulling all the shiny pens out of the sparkly notebooks. I was so proud and amazed that I finished up at the counter, then knelt down with them in the middle of the shop and told them how proud I was and how great I thought they were.

We all skipped back to the library and they got 2 books each and a Super Good Bonus star on their star chart at home.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To lighten the mood after the last post

Questions I asked my children (thanks again to Whoopee for this)

Remember, Mapera (M) is almost 5 years old, and Kaitereo (K) is almost 3. They didn't always answer in the same order either.

1. What is something Mummy always says to you?

K: Don’t put things in Hakopa’s mouth

M: We can’t put toys in our mouth

2. What makes Mummy happy?

M: Poker face [sticking out her tongue]

K: This [pointing at my handbag]

3. What makes Mummy sad?
M: I don’t know

K: Great Grandma died

4. How does your mummy make you laugh?
M: By poking a face

K: Poker face

5. What did your mummy like to do when she was little?
M: Read

K: Laugh

6. How old is your mummy?
M: 23

K: 23 again

7. How tall is your mummy?
M: I think 6 foot tall [I am 5 foot 3]

K: [laughing hysterically]

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?
M: Footrot Flats

K: dog channel

9. What does your mummy do when you're not there?
M: goes to playgroup

K: stay at home and play with Hakopa

10. What is your mummy really good at?
M: Computer playing and computer writing

K: Daddy

11. What is your mummy not very good at?
M: tidying up

K: going away

12. What does your mummy do for her job?
M: Stay at home

K: a digger

13. What is your mummy's favourite food?
M: Lasagne

K: turkeys

14. What makes you proud of your mummy?

M: playing with her

K: paper mache

15. If your mummy were a cartoon character, who would she be?

M: Rangi

K: Dog channel again

16. What do you and your mummy do together?

M: work

K: play

17. How are you and your mummy the same?
M: cos we’ve got long hair

K: bare bum

18. How are you and your mummy different?
M: cos we’ve got different faces

K: wood

19. How do you know your mummy loves you?

M: cos she always kisses me

K: cuddle me

20. What does your mummy like most about your daddy?

M: getting the wood out for him [!!!]
K: playing

21. Where is your mummy's favourite place to go?

M: park

K: Spotlight [massive haberdashery store]

22. What is one thing you wish you could change about your mummy?

M: make her hair turn purple

K: change into a blue girl

23. What would your mummy do with a million dollars?
K: put them away

M: put them away safely

24. What do you wish you could go and do with your mummy?

K: come with her

M: go on a train

25. What is one thing you hope never changes about your mummy?
K: Playing

M: her glasses

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Contemplating eternity

I have always had an irrational fear of getting old and dying. It was a big scary thing when I was a kid that my poor parents didn’t know what to do about. As I got older it sort of faded into the background, but lurked like a bad dream you can’t shake off the next morning.

Now I have kids and it’s cropping up again.

I think it’s because I always seem to be doing the next thing, or getting ready for something or preparing something in advance or making sure we’re ready to be somewhere or trying to remember the routine that I don’t get the chance to just live in the moment. Spontaneity is pretty difficult with 3 kids. I have tried to ensure that if Tareka wakes up one morning and says “lets go swimming” we can just grab the “swimming bag” and off we go, but I am finding increasingly that we have to take account of Kindy, playgroup, doctors appointments, shopping trips and soon school. I know this is what life with kids is all about for a good few years, and I am in no way complaining, but I keep feeling that I am simply not going to have time to do everything in my life! I have visions of the future of me as an old lady on my deathbed saying “but I never got to take them paragliding!” before shuffling off the mortal coil.

I feel like I am constantly planning the next event and never taking time to enjoy what is going on right now. Mapera’s 5th birthday party seems to have intensified this feeling one hundredfold. I have spent the best part of 2 months preparing – guest list, invitations, decorations, supplies, food, games, wet-weather plans and costumes; mainly to save ourselves money, but also so I am not doing everything over one insane week. Having Kaitereo’s birthday 4 days before also adds complications, as it requires birthday tea at Nana and Poppas, and a cake for playgroup. I am very glad Tareka and I agreed that parties were for special birthdays only (5, 10, 13 and 21) and NOT for every year. I can’t imagine how people put on massive events for their kids every year, it would drive me batshit crazy.

I have sat and thought to myself if I am trying to do too much, as I have a knack for over-committing myself to things, but I have been very careful not to do this since we moved to a new community, so this is all just “every day with kids”. In one week we have Kindy, music, playgroup and ballet, along with the epic shopping trip once a fortnight. When Mapera starts school this will ease off for a few months, as school is only a 10 minute drive away (and only 5 minutes when she starts on the bus) and Kaitereo won’t be starting Kindy til next year, but it all starts up again when Kaitereo goes to Kindy and Hakopa starts crawling and walking.

Right now I am sitting at the computer typing and my girls are playing ballerinas while my boy sits and gurgles at me from his chair. I can watch them play and enjoy the moment for a good 30 minutes til I have to start on dinner, then the bedtime madness begins. Oh bliss!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ethnic labelling

I had an interesting issue come up when I dropped Mapera off for her first school visit today. I had filled in all her enrollment forms and when I got to the "ethnicity" box, I put what I put on all forms to reflect our
multicultural family: English/Maori/Burmese. This has always been the way I describe my children's ethnic grouping and I've never had to think any further about it. Today I was asked by the school secretary to pick one which was the main group our children identified with and as I was on the spot I ended up picking one I'd never ticked on any form "NZ European".

I thought about it on the way home and then discussed it with my husband (who is 1/2 Maori, 1/2 English but born in NZ) and he said that NZ European was for people decended from European settlers.

Like his Dad, who came over from Lancashire at the age of 7 with his parents and siblings.

Like me, who came over in 2004 from the UK.

Oh, says the husband.

So I sat and thought about what label I want to stick on my kids when there is not enough room in the box to put in their full heritage. I asked hubby what he wanted and he went away and thought about it too.

We came back with the same conclusion; Maori.

Although my hubby is very close to his English side of the family (especially his Dad), and spent a lot of his time in the UK with his English rellies, he is a Maori boy at heart. We both love being on the Marae, being part of the Maori tikanga and we both try and speak Te Reo as much as we are able (which is not a lot, admittedly). I feel most at home and relaxed amongst the whanau and my children love being part of a huge extended family, where everyone your own age is your cousin, and everyone older than you is Aunty or Uncle.

Hearing the karanga at a tangi or a powhiri never fails to make me emotional, and I love Te Reo Maori as it is unlike any language I have ever learned before.

I remembered a crazy dream I had as a teenager that I would go find a lost Amazonian rain forest tribe and disappear into their midst, to live as a native. I should think this could be partly considered typical teenage solipsism and alienation we all feel during those years, but when I thought about it, I have found my Tribe. I am an English Maori.

So, as for my children, I contacted the school and asked for the enrollment form to read Maori as their ethnicity. We will teach them all about their English and Burmese roots, alongside all the Kiwi heritage that will surround them, and the Maori culture they will undoubtably be part of, and one day I hope they grow up knowing that they are children of Aotearoa, and anywhere else they choose to live.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another online questionnaire

I've been reading back over one of my favourite blogs Whoopee , and saw this post. I liked the idea of answering a silly survey with serious answers, so here goes:

1. Are you a male or female: Female with male showering-personality

2. Describe yourself: short without my spikes, brown, curvy and wobbly, multi-cultural

3. How do you feel about yourself: I am finally starting to think I might be quite a nice person once you get to know me

4. Describe your parents: English/Burmese/Catholic/Agnostics

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends: Many and varied and a bit blurred, not unlike holiday snaps from the 1980s

6. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Male with female housework-personality

7. Describe your current location: Slice of Heaven

8. Describe where you want to be: in a decent pub with all the cool people I have met online since I moved massively far away

9. Your best friend(s) is/are: Evolving as I type

10. Your favourite colour is: octarine

11. You know that: Any fule kno that

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: I Have Never...

13. What is life to you: Something to be lived and experienced and a place to discover that there is a special hobby for you out there

14. What is the best advice you have to give: don't listen to advice unless it is along the lines of "don't jump in there, it's full of pihranas"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What have you DONE all day?

I try very hard to keep on top of housework and mundane stuff, but there are days where I just don't manage it. Today was a good example. The breakfast dishes are still on the bench and I only just emptied the dishwasher at 4pm thanks to Kaitereo deciding she was going to make a start on it, so I had to help in order to minimise losses.

Today was a grocery shopping day, this is an epic undertaking in our household, as we go shopping once a fortnight at a town 40 minutes away, and I go around all the cheap bargain stores to stretch our budget that little bit further. So, today we got up at 7am and rushed about having breakfast and getting dressed, making lunches that I failed to make the night before (silly Mummy). After feeding Hakopa we piled into the car for the 20 minute trip to drop Mapera at Kindy.

I fed Hakopa his solid breakfast at kindy and then Kaitereo, Hakopa and I were back in the car and off to Hamilton. First stop was bargain-hunters paradise The Warehouse for household stuff, then off to Pak n Save for the main grocery shop. Finally off to the butchers for cheap meat.

In amongst these stops I also fed the kids morning tea and lunch, got myself lunch and sat through a 20 minute tantrum by Kaitereo who had refused to use the only toilet available, despite doing the wee-wee dance all around the shop. I ended up telling her that she had to go to the toilet, or wear a pull-up in the car, or she would fall asleep and wee on the seat (which is exactly what happened the last time she refused to go when we found a toilet).

We then drove back to Kindy, fed Hakopa his post-lunch snack dealt with another 20 minute tantrum and collected Mapera.

At home I unpacked the shopping, fed the kids afternoon tea and sat down for a coffee and a quick peek at the computer.

It's now 10 to 5 and we're having fish fingers for dinner.

People wonder how I find time for everything I do, and the honest answer is that I don't. Sometimes the dishes don't get done, and the house is a mess and the dinner is fish fingers and frozen peas. BUT my kids are fed and happy and playing together, I am sane (relatively speaking) and I know I will catch up with things on another day. I don't beat myself up about it any more and I find life a lot less overwhelming when I put my kids first and forget the rest.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Teaching responsibility

I have been wondering what is a good age to teach my children about when to dial the emergency services. Mapera (aged 4 and 3 quarters) has had visits at Kindy from the fire service, who have taught the kids "Get down, stay low, get out and stay out" and to "meet by the mail box" but no mention of calling for help. I am on my own in the house a fair bit as Tareka works shifts and although we have neighbours around, they are a few paddocks away on one side, and over a main road the other.

I have talked to Mapera about the emergency number here (which is 111 incidentally), and that she should only ever call it if it was a REAL emergency (she is very aware of the difference between pretend and real), but I'd like to give her a simple system, like the fire service gave about what to do in a fire, just in case something happened to me, and I couldn't direct her.

Just tonight, Kaitereo went to bed early as she was exhausted, and Mapera went in after Kaitereo had fallen asleep, only to come out saying "Mummy, Kaitereo's not even breathing". I leaped out of my chair and ran to Kaitereo to check her, and found her sleeping very soundly, but breathing just fine. My first instinct was to tell Mapera off for scaring me, but I stopped myself and gave her a big hug and said "thank you for coming to get me". I showed her that Kaitereo was fine, and Mapera was worried that her sister had been sleeping with her face down, and Mapera couldn't see her tummy moving at all. I told her that I was very pleased that she had come to me when she was worried, and that it was good because if Kaitereo had not been breathing then we would have had to call an ambulance. I gave Mapera lots of cuddles and said that I had been very scared when she told me, but that I was glad Kaitereo was ok and that Mapera was looking after her little sister.

When did my child grow into such a caring, responsible person? She's not even 5 yet! We encourage both our girls (and will do the same with our boy) to look after others who are younger or smaller than them when they are at playgroup or Kindy, and that when Mapera and Kaitereo are together that Mapera is to look after her sister if she gets scared or shy. I initially worried that I was putting pressure onto Mapera as the older child to take on responsibility beyond her years, but she loves being in charge, and Kaitereo is a lot happier knowing Mapera is around for a cuddle if she wants one.

Long may it continue :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's been a long time!

My Dad reminded me that I have this place and I thought now that darling hubby is back at work after a month off, I may attempt to chuck some more stuff in here.

While you're waiting, consider the evening discussions between me and my girls:

Mummy: Lights out and lullaby time, which song do you want?
Mapera: Quartermasters stores, 2 verses about PEOPLE
Mummy: It will be ONE verse about rats
Mapera: oookaay
Kaitereo: I want HENRY!
Mummy: *sings the quartermasters stores then goes to deal with the baby in the next room*
Kaitereo: Henry
Mummy: *sings the whole of "Henry my son"*
Kaitereo: Henry didn't fix his bucket
Mummy: OH! You wanted "there's a hole in my bucket" not "Henry my son"?
Kaitereo: Yes
Mummy: OK if you can be quiet and stay in your bed while I feed Hakopa I will come back and sing it
Mapera & Kaitereo: YAY!

Time passes

Kaitereo: MUMMY!
Mummy: Being quiet Kaitereo

More time passes:

Kaitereo (quietly): Mummy!
Mummy: *sings the whole of "There's a hole in my bucket" and kisses the girls goodnight*

Kaitereo (as Mummy leaves the room): It's not a very good one.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To My Children


I've always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage and the fulfillment of young love. You sustained us through the hamburger years, the first apartment (furnished in Early Poverty), our first mode of transportation (1955 Feet), and the seven-inch TV we paid on for 36 months.

You were new, had unused grandparents, and enough clothes for a set of triplets. You were the original model for a mom and dad who were trying to work the bugs out.

You got the strained lamb, the open safety pins and three hour naps.

You were the beginning.


I've always loved you best because you drew a tough spot in the family and it made you stronger for it. You cried less, had more patience, wore faded hand-me-downs, and never in your life did anything first. But it only made you more special. You were the one we relaxed with, who helped us realize a dog could kiss you and you wouldn't get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married. And you helped us understand the world wouldn't collapse if you went to bed with dirty feet.

You were the child of our busy, ambitious years. Without you, we never could have survived the job changes and the tedium and routine that is marriage.


I've always loved you best because while endings are generally sad, you are such a joy. You readily accepted the milk-stained bibs, the lower bunk, the cracked baseball bat, the baby book that had nothing written in it except a recipe for graham-cracker pie crust that someone had jammed between the pages.

You are the one we held on to so tightly. You are the link with our past, a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us a sense of humor that security, maturity and durability can't provide. When your hair line takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your own children tower over you, you will still be our baby.

-A Mother

Author Unknown

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blue genes

I love genetics. According to basic Mendelian principles, Tareka and I have a 1 in 4 chance of having a child with blonde hair or blue eyes, despite us both being brown-eyed brunettes. Tareka's father has both blonde hair and blue eyes, so Tareka has a gene for both characteristics. My mother has blue eyes, and her mother had blonde hair and blue eyes so I should be carrying the gene for blue eyes, and possibly the one for blonde hair too.
As both blonde hair and blue eyes are the recessive gene, I was not surprised to have 2 daughters with both dark hair and eyes - like their parents - but I always joked that we had a chance of having a baby that didn't look like it came from us!

Now we have him.

Our little boy was distinctly fairer than his 2 sisters were at birth, and although we won't know for sure for about a month or so, he is looking like he may well have blue eyes. I love the fact that my 2 daughters have different characteristics - one has straight hair, the other curls - and now our little man is going to be different again!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hormone horrors

I had conveniently forgotten how the post-baby hormones can make me feel. I remembered the pain of birth and prepared myself accordingly; I remembered the sleeplessness and rested when I could in preparation; I remembered the nappy changes and organized supplies but I forgot about this:

Fear of the unknown, fear that someone will steal away my children when I am not looking, fear that they will get knocked down on the road, or even the driveway, fear that they will drown in the bath, fear that they will die in a car accident, fear that they will get lost, fear that they will get involved in drugs, fear that they will develop an incurable illness, fear that they will suffer with mental problems, fear that they will leave and never come back, fear that they will grow up to be psychos, fear that they will hurt each other, fear that they will fall out with their siblings and never speak to them again, fear that one of them will die if I go overseas, fear that one of them will feel abandoned if I do something with the other one, fear that they will just simply not wake up in the morning, fear that the world they are growing up into is too violent, too heartless, too dangerous, fear fear fear fear.

I know it is all completely irrational and that the chances of tragedy befalling my family are small, but I am trapped in this hormone-riddled body, watching my loving family help me out as much as they can by getting the kids out from under my feet, and all I feel is fear that they won’t come back.

In addition, I am tired and grumpy and I lose patience with my kids all too quickly when I am like this, which also makes me feel guilty and sad. This adds to the fears that I am doing them permanent damage and that they will grow up hating me and run far away as soon as they are capable of leaving home.

My mother told me that I would not understand how much she loved me until I had children of my own, and since the birth of my first child I have willingly admitted how right she was. I also understand why my Mother-in-law gladly looks after her adult children who have chosen not to leave home. I just hope this really is hormone-driven and that it will fade in time, my heart cannot cope with the ache for long.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our new addition

Our baby boy was born on Monday 11th January 2010 at about 5.45 in the evening. He arrived quickly and easily (relatively speaking!) and cried straight away. We stayed at the maternity unit for a couple of nights, then came home to a grand welcome from his big sisters.

The house is finally feeling like a real home, as we have unpacked the last of the boxes and hung pictures and art up on the walls. We have a spell of glorious weather and the girls are outside all day, every day.

I had a little bout of the baby blues yesterday, but I also had that amazing "rush of love" feeling when my little boy looked at me this morning. I think my family may well be complete with my amazing girls and my beautiful boy, but I promised to give myself 12 months before making any final decisions.

The girls love their little brother very much and are adjusting very well to having him around. I devised a few methods to prevent any jealousy before he came home, and they seem to be working. The girls get to choose a "new" book from a special bag whenever I have to feed Hakopa, and they also help when I change his nappies. They are getting a lot of attention from Daddy and the grandparents too, which helps a great deal.

Mapera is going on a trip with Omi and Opi next week, and it will be the first time she has been away from home for more than one night. Kaitereo has been promised the same trip when she is 4, but she seems happy to be staying home with "that baby" this time round.

Mapera starts kindy in a couple of weeks too, and we will have to visit the school we hope to send her to. My first baby is growing up so fast and I am so proud of her. Kaitereo will be off to kindy towards the end of this year too, hopefully, so I may well be home with one baby by the end of the year!

My next plan for the house (now we've unpacked) is to get a lawn planted out the front and start digging over the ground for the veg garden. The aim is to have this done by the time winter sets in, so I am giving myself a realistic 6 months to get done.

Looking forward to life as a family of 5, and the changing dynamic a boy will bring. Life is exciting!