Friday, 27 February 2015

Are they twins?

When Anja was a few months old, I could see that there was a strong resemblance between her and her sister. She was also obviously quite a bit bigger than Lena had been at the same age, so it was pretty obvious that as she got older, they were going to look quite alike. At some point someone was going to say "are they twins?"

Now at nearly five and two and three quarters, there really isn't much between them in height, but I still wasn't really expecting the twins question yet. To me, Anja still has a very 'baby' face, but perhaps that's because I know them so well. Either way, it's started. Twice in the last few weeks someone has asked me if they're twins. They've been really shocked when I've said that there are two years between them.

Are they twins

Of course it doesn't really matter, Lena may look a little younger than five, but she's a precocious young lady in pretty much every other way. As for Anja looking a little older than her nearly 3 years, that doesn't really matter either, and as they get older it will be nice being able to wear each others clothes. I get all the advantages of people thinking that's it's really cute that I've got 'twins' without having to deal with the incredible hard work that having two babies, at the same time, would have been. (Total respect to all of my friends who have had twins themselves; four kids? A walk in the park, two at once? I can't even imagine how hard that would be, especially in the early sleepless nights phase).

I wonder if they will look even more alike as they get older, or less? If they both continue to grow at their current rates, then Anja will over take Lena by this time next year. That might be interesting.....

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Waiting for school

Back in the dim and distant past of my childhood, I started school about a month from my fifth birthday. I was a little older than Lena is now; two months shy of her fifth birthday. In the UK where I grew up, children start school at the beginning of the year before they turn five, in my case, being born in October, that was just before my birthday. Over here in New Zealand, they start on their fifth birthday, which is what Lena will do.

I can see advantages to both ways, if we'd been in the UK, Lena would already be at school and would have started last September. It probably wouldn't bother her to be honest, I'm sure that she'd be quite happy about that, but I can't help but feel that four and a half is just a bit too young. The problem with waiting until you are five to start, as they do over here, is that Lena will be starting school on her own. That in itself isn't so much of a problem, but it does mean that at the moment she is waiting to join her friends at school.

Lena has been keen to start school for quite a while now, she wants to be the same as her big brothers and go to the school that they go to. The last few months though, this desire to start school has grown and grown. It's not just that she want's to go herself, but as it gets closer, more and more of her friends are moving on from playcentre and daycare to start school themselves. We've had tears on quite a few occasions, when friends that she's spent the last two years with, move on to a different school than she will go to, and she won't be seeing them again. She's now the oldest child at playcentre and the oldest at daycare.

Of course for me, the next two months are going to fly by and before I know what's happening, my little girl will be a big school girl. But for Lena, that can't happen soon enough. It only seems five minutes since Mahe was starting, actually, in all honesty, it's only ten minutes since Kai started school, but in two months time I'm going to have three of my four children going to school. I'm not sure quite how that happened.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Moaning about the weather

There are some out there who I'm sure would claim that we Brits enjoy moaning about the weather, actually, if I'm honest there are plenty that would just say we enjoy moaning full stop. (Whinging poms anyone?) But right now, I'm sure that I'm allowed a little moan. We also enjoy talking about the weather, apparently, I think that has more to do with a nervous need to fill silence with small talk than anything. Although perhaps we are just known among ourselves as enjoying talking about the weather. I remember once, when taking a group of German tourists around the brewery that I was tour guide of I cracked a very funny (I thought) joke that referenced the British love of weather and even after it had been translated I was met with confused looks and stony silence. Mind you, sometimes my joke cracking results in that when I'm speaking the same language as my audience.

These last few weeks have been a combination of the most fantastic weather, if anything it's been far far too hot on many days. Including on the day we decided to do our bush walk the other week. Then, on other days, like today and a couple of nights ago, it's been miserable. Today has been nothing but heavy rain, which I can't really complain about, as we need it really. Although I'm not sure that the areas that really need it have had much. A few days ago though, it was freezing, so cold that we had to put the fire on.

In the space of the last week I've moaned that I've been too hot and I've moaned that I'm too cold. There really is no pleasing some people. Of course really we've had it easy. Over in America and even back home to a certain extent, there has been heavy snow and it really has been freezing. In other parts of New Zealand, farmers have been struggling with a lack of rain and there have been a few bad fires as a result of the dry, dry conditions. It could be much worse and has been much worse for a lot of people. Is it too much to ask though, that we might have a bit of 'nice' weather. Not too hot, certainly not too cold. A nice sunny day, with a little breeze maybe, that just stops you from over heating. I suppose I can dream. In the mean time, I'll just have to make the most of the warm weather when it's here, and indulge in the odd ice cream when it all gets too much.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

What I did during the holidays

The children started back at school this week after the summer holidays, for only three days, but they are back now. I thought, being as it was something that our teachers always got us to write the moment we were back in school, a "what I did during the holidays" post might be in order. It doesn't look as though the boys school keeps up this fine (cough) tradition, as they both looked at my blankly when I ask if they'd had to write about what they got up to during the holidays.
Of course the start of the school holidays was Christmas and while it seems strange that the children are already back at school, at the same time, Christmas seems a long while ago. I suppose that we are already into the second month of the New Year.

We didn't actually go away anywhere this year, but at the beginning of last week, we had a bit of an at home holiday, a 'staycation' if you will. Not that we actually stayed at home, Instead we went to some of the places around here that we don't usually get chance to visit. A trip to the albatross centre (although not actually in it, because it costs a fortune) where we saw lots of sea lions, and some albatrosses swooping over head. A day out in Oamaru checking out the second hand stores, having a picnic and visiting the swimming baths there. A visit to the Dunedin salt water pools (which fortunately this time didn't have any sea lions) a bush walk with stunning scenery, but on a rather hot day so that we didn't get to the end, and a trip to inflatable world.

All heaps of fun and now in the tradition of the best school stories, I'll finish off with lots of pictures so that I don't have to write any more.

Picnic time in Oamaru
Picnic time in Oamaru
Sea lions in DunedinWhat I did during the hoildays

Sea lions at the albatross centre

Sea lions showing off

Albatrosses (honestly)
Albatrosses (honestly)
View on our walk
View on our walk
Inflatable worldBouncy

Inflatable world

Climbing the wall

Friday, 30 January 2015

Living in the today

We're often told that we should live each day as if it were our last, for me though, it's even more simple than that. It's about living in the today, rather than waiting for tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely having things to look forward to and goals to work towards. But it's all too easy to spend far too much time waiting for things.

In many ways, I've spent much of my life doing that, even as a child; waiting for Christmas, waiting for birthdays, waiting for holidays. Often with these things though, the anticipation of something is as good as (or sometimes even better) as the thing that you're waiting for. No matter how much you want something for Christmas, the brightly wrapped parcel is always more exciting than the actual thing. (Apart from maybe my kindle, that was just as exciting once I'd opened it.)

These days I find myself thinking things like, 'it will be so nice once the bathroom is refitted' or 'in a year or so we might get the garden sorted and won't that be lovely' and the classic 'I can't wait to go home to the UK and see everyone'. All of that is fine of course, there's no reason why you shouldn't look forward to things, but the problem is, that often when you are looking forward to something, you loose sight of what is happening now.

The problem is that not only do we not know what's around the corner and if these things that we're looking forward to ever happen, but also while we're waiting for something we don't really appreciate what is happening in the hear and now. Blink and you'll miss the break-a-neck speed your children are growing up at.

Living in the today
Stop to enjoy the view; enjoy the journey.

To look at it in a slightly different way, how many times have you read a book that you just can't put down? You have to keep reading, trying to find out what's going to happen and how it's going to end, but of course once you get there, there's that horrible empty feeling because it's all over. Try as I might I can't make those books go slower, and enjoy every word. (I'm a greedy reader, I have to know it all now.) But I don't want life to be the same, yes there are lots of things to look forward to, but I'm going to make a real effort to really enjoy the journey, make sure that I'm living in the today.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Is that what you call music?

I have a very clear memory of being five years old and being asked what I wanted for Christmas. I thought for a minute or two and then announced that as I was getting older now, it was probably about time I had some pop music. That Christmas I got the very first Now album, Now that's what I call music. It was a double LP, a real record. I had my grandparents old stereo as they were updating theirs.  As I got a bit older I got more records, then some tapes and at the weekend I'd listen to the top 40 on radio one and tape my favourite tracks.

Now that's what I call music

I actually had three more Now albums, I was given Now 2 (also on vinyl) and then I had Now 12 (which had such classics as Doctorin' the Tardis by the Timelords, Push it by Salt and Pepper and I think we're alone now by Tiffany) and Now 23 both on double cassette, which was a little annoying as they wouldn't fit into the tape holder thing I had. These days the Now series has moved on quite a bit and in the UK they're up to Now 89 and any number of other Now compilations, (dance, Disney and Christmas to name just a few).

Kai has never really shown much interest in music, other than mentioning if he likes or doesn't like something that I'm listening to. This Christmas though, we got him a CD player for his room. Now that he has his own room, we thought that he might like to have one, especially as he likes to listen to books on CD. I thought that he might like some music to listen to too. The obvious choice seemed to be one of the Now CDs. Here in New Zealand, they haven't got quite so high in numbers, so it was Now 46.

Is that what you call music?

I still have my Now 1, somewhere, back in the UK. I wonder in years to come if Kai will still have his first CD? I suspect that when he has children of his own, they probably won't know what CDs are any more, the same way that my children don't really know what records or even tapes are. Even so, my taste in music may have changed and developed over time, but I still look back fondly on that first taste of pop music

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Never a crossword

If someone asks me what I do in my spare time, my stock standard response is that I don't have any spare time. I have four children and run a business; how am I going to have spare time. Of course this isn't really true. I suppose I think that because I remember spare time as being hours spent lounging about, reading books, (usually when I should have been doing something else admittedly) but those days are long gone. These days, 'spare time' activities are stuffed into grabbed seconds between other tasks.

I read, a lot. I shouldn't have time to get through the amount of books I consume, but that doesn't seem to stop me. Having the ability to take a book with me anywhere helps. I can read on my kindle, and then later read a bit of the same book on my phone. I have also been known, (on quite a regular basis if I'm honest) to read a page or two while making breakfast, or packing lunches, or even on a quick loo visit. Sometimes those books you can't put down, really are books you can't put down.

These days my spare time fillers tend to be reading, writing, and watching a bit of TV. I do sew and knit, but not nearly as much as I would like or used to. I suppose that those hobbies may experience a bit of a renaissance if ever I do manage to reclaim some real spare time. A girl can always dream.

Something I do love doing though, is puzzles. I spent most of my labour with both of the boys with a pen and puzzle book in hand. The girls' were a little bit too fast for me to have much chance, but I indulged afterwards, in the hospital. I like logic puzzles, a lot, crosswords are good too. Particularly cryptic ones. Not that I'm as good at them as I'd like to be, but I am getting better. I suppose that it's all part of a love of language and words, the best cryptic clues are those that make you smile when you suddenly get them. Almost like a clever little joke that you really have to think about in order to get.

Never a cross word with a crossword

Even though I don't have a lot of time for these things, I think that it's probably important to take time to actually do something for the sake of it, just for fun and relaxation. Using your brain to solve something, or escape to another place. It's so easy to get bogged down in the day to day trudge of life, and spending some time on something that's just for you can really help, Using crosswords (and my other hobbies) helps to ensure that there are fewer cross words spoken in our house. I sometimes feel guilty if I take a few minutes for something that doesn't really matter, or achieve anything, but of course, that isn't true. It does achieve a lot, it helps me feel good and more relaxed.