Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Walking in heels

The are many things that I can claim as a talent, it's true that I have more of a claim on some than on others, but if there is one thing I can't claim to be able to do, it's walk in heels. Unless I'm drunk of course, and then I at least, am convinced that me walking in heels is a good combination. As it is, very few people have seen me in heels, so would have no way of verifying or disputing my claims, but believe me when I tell you, it's not a strength.

My usual excuse is that I'm tall, so I don't need heels. Which is true-ish. I am tall-ish and therefore probably don't need them, but I see a future where my kids, or at the very least three of them, are going to tower over me, and I won't feel so tall any more. There's a good chance all four will, what then? Either I get used to being the shorty of the family, invest in some stilts (I'm thinking that if I can't master heels, I can't manage stilts) or manage to walk in heels.

What's probably more to the truth is that I'm generally not the most well turned out in terms of clothing. I'd rather wear jeans and a t-shirt most of the time. I hardly ever wear make up and my hair does what it likes. I'd have to admit that much of this is to do with laziness. I remember being 14, and being excited about finally being old enough to wear make-up to school. I lasted a whole week. The idea of extra time in bed, or getting up and putting my face on, no contest, the bed won. I haven't really changed since.

I wonder what my daughters will be like. L in particular loves dressing up and make up, now. At the same age I was exactly the same. In my first year of secondary school, my English project was all about make-up, no really, my choice. Somewhere between childhood and my teenage years the love of heels and make up got lost. Unless you count the multi coloured nails I always wore until I started working in a bar and it just wasn't practical that is.

Friday, 6 March 2015

I'm no wonder woman

When you're growing up, your parents are larger than life, the fixers of all problems, able to solve anything. I suppose that's how it should be, when you're little you need a super hero that can step in and make everything right for you. Of course it's not true though.

I'm no wonder woman
I have a very clear memory of being about twelve and playing badminton (badly) in the back garden with a friend. My superior badminton skills meant that before long the shuttlecock was wedged in a tree. I couldn't reach it, but it was all ok, I'd get my Mum and she'd be able to get it down. Up until that point, I just hadn't noticed that she wasn't that much taller than me any more, I remember clearly the sudden realisation that she wasn't miles bigger than me, and couldn't reach it any better than I could.

I see it with my children now, at the moment they expect me to be able to fix everything, and usually right now. Of course some of it is just the impatience of youth, but I think that there's also a large part that comes from the belief that our parents can do anything. Of course you don't need to wait to get the right things in to mend something, you just wave your magic parent wand and all is right in the world again.

I don't suppose that there's anything wrong with it really, when you're little you need someone who is just there for you to make everything right again. But, as you start to get bigger you begin to realise that there isn't always an easy answer. It can come as a huge shock when you realise that your parents aren't bullet proof after all. Seeing them cry, or unable to do something rocks your very foundations. Even years later, when you're an adult yourself, being faced with a parent who is ill can really knock you for six.

Right now, I know I'm not wonder woman, but I don't know that my children do. Part of me loves the fact that we're still the ones that they go to to fix everything, and I know that it won't be like that forever. There's another part of me though, that gets frustrated because they expect me to sort things out. I want them to spend more time building the tools to solve their own problems. Of course they will over time, then I'll have to hang up my cape for good, because really, I'm no wonder woman.

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.