Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Tea Party Chimps Break Free!

One good thing to come out of all the rain we've had lately, is that it makes us appreciate the sneak peeks of summer all the more. Impromptu trips to the beach are always a relief after days (and days) of being cooped inside like crazy Tea Party Chimps.

Beautiful Spring afternoons at the beach are awesome. Even if a developing north-westerly causes us to keep the long-sleeved layers firmly in place.

Whenever we go to the beach, there's a comfortable kind of pattern we always follow. Guy Smiley jabbers away in super-excited tones while pointing out even the smallest of things in gushing awe, the Lily Bug decides to make sand angels after we've rinsed the sand off her for the journey home, J pulls a finger every time I try to take a photo of him - unless I can nab a pic when his hands are full of jumping wriggling children - and my attempts at a self-portrait are quickly deleted as soon as they're reviewed. Stupid camera. I don't really look that haggard do I? Oh gods...

It's a given, that all of these things will happen when we go to the beach. But there's always a slight shift in the way that they're carried out. A bit of Universal tweaking here and there.  Guy Smiley's exclaimations have changed from "oooh!" to "wow!" to "wow cool!" and "ooh dook!" and as of last week, "there-eh-zizz!" which means "there it is" and he exclaims it every time someone familiar appears, or a lost toy/remote for the TV is found, or in the case of our day at the beach; he spots a man cruising the sky on a motorised paraglider.

Once upon a time, the Lily Bug ran from the shoreline; fearful of the ocean. Then as her confidence and familiarity with the beach grew, she ran to the whitewash. Eventually she reached a point where she'd splash through the shallows at low tide. Wade in a little deeper while holding our hands. Now she lunges into the water, high tide, with only a passing concern for jelly fish and monsters of the deep. A reminder to wait for us keeps her in line a little, but she feels she's a big girl now. Just the other week she realised she's not merely three years old; she's three and a half! That's nearly four! Which is, as far as she's concerned, old enough to swim with taniwha and wrestle kraken.

Times are a changing.

          But the Lily Bug isn't one to throw all caution to the wind yet. She was the first person to spy the jellyfish in the water even as we were stretching towels across the sand. And when I went closer to have a look, she warned "don't let it sting you mum!" I didn't even realise she knew jellyfish could sting.

That's my ever-cautious girl. Always looking out for the possible dangers. I wish Guy Smiley was half as tentative. He's happy to tear off in any direction.

Oh, and before you think I've forgotten all about the Teen... She doesn't tend to go to the beach with us these days. I mean, she's a teen. And sadly this means hanging out with her family is really really not at all cool. If she is dragged with us to the beach, she sits on a towel flicking away grains of sand while she texts her friends - no doubt sending out some kind of plea for help. Although in saying that, I do have photographic evidence of her involvement in a sandfight with the Lily Bug last summer...

So, I've said this before, oh so recently, but I just have to say it again...
Roll on Summer. :)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

{be strong} Believe

Sometimes I think of random little things I want to tell the Teen, but for whatever reason at the time, I can't say them. It may be that we've had a deep and meaningful late night conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything, and then after she's gone to bed the conversation has carried on in my head and I've thought "must tell her that one tomorrow!" However these Notes To Self are always forgotten, as before too long the moment passes and attempts to recreate the mindset that led to that particular reflection or anecdote or little snippet of wisdom results in brain freeze. 
Once the moment's gone, it's gone baby.

Every now and then I jot these snippets down, and promptly lose them. Eventually they're found, tucked between the pages of a book, slipped between books on a shelf... And then I think, "I'm going to make a special website, just for the kids. One filled with all the little bits and bobs I've written for them over the years." I'm not sure why, entirely. Okay, maybe that's a lie. Maybe it's because I have a bit of a morbid outlook on life, and I feel I need something to leave them. (You know, other than books and cats) Some piece of me that'll be there even if I'm not.

It's not that I expect to be going some place any time soon, in fact I have every intention of living forever. But every so often I find myself thinking "if I were to die tomorrow, how would I be able to continue to be there for my kids?" (That there sounds like the opening line of a life insurance ad. Actually, I'm pretty sure it IS the opening line of a life insurance ad.) After all, there's always that chance that I may one day chose the wrong time to step outside, and be flattened by a falling grand piano. You just never know... 

So, I guess that's partly why I'm so addicted to scrapbooking. Therein lies the legacy of my thoughts and anecdotes and general brain farts which the kids will one day be lugged with. Along with a large collection of books and cats.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

I'm Melting! I'm Melting!

With the warming weather comes an increased urge to get out of the house and enjoy doing so without having to drag the kids away from every muddy puddle they want to stomp in.

Roll on Summer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for letting the kids jump in puddles, but it gets to the point where light splashing is not enough - not for them anyway. They have to find one deep enough to wade through. And that's still not enough. They've gotta get their limbs in there; scooping up handfuls of mud and dripping it from one palm to the other, smearing muck to the elbows, The Lily Bug likes to explore the texture of mud with her entire body. In particular, her hair. Give her a storm-fed puddle as a palette, and she stands on her head and transforms into a human paint brush.

She did attempt a headstand in the mud during this particular adventure, but I missed the shot as I was already halfway back to the car calling "come on before I leave you behiiiind!" along the way.

What I really really hate about this kind of fun? The part where it becomes unfun. The part where it becomes one of  those waking nightmares you can't shake off for the rest of the day. Yup. The part where mucky monsters have to get clean again.

For the highly-volatile Lily Bug, this becomes a Total. Meltdown. Nightmare. By the time we get on to the clean up, she's tuned out the world and she's in 'The Zone'. You know that tired zone that is usually a precursor to a full-scale over-tired screaming fit? It's at this point, our fun-loving three year old transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West.

There's kicking, there's screaming, there's the gnashing of teeth... Halfway through the ordeal I'm declaring "we are never EVER playing in mud again" and by the end I'm all but begging my poor devil-possessed child to stop with the screaming and clawing and thrashing because I am in fact a wee bit afraid that the neighbours will think something godawful is going on in the house, and call the cops.

At least in summer, a water fight can solve the issue of clean up time.

In summer, the messy play table can be moved outside so I don't have to spend an hour scrubbing floury watery goop off the kitchen walls. The muck is cleaner; less water-logged rugby field and more soggy sandpit.

 Roll on Summer.

This was last summer. The clampit was filled with lovely soft Pinaki sand on one side and water on the other, then mixed to create a diarrhea-brown ooze that we (or rather, they) spent every available day wallowing in. Clean up time was garden hose simple.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Avast! Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!

I've seen more than a fair share of cars wearing their nation's flag as support for their team in the Rugby World Cup, but this one has to be the most committed yet.

Today was a dreary windswept Tuesday. The warning sign on the motorway read "caution: strong winds". Not a day when you want to be anywhere except curled up under the duvet with a wee arsenal of DVDs. Certainly not a day when you want your vehicle to be laden with enough flags to turn it into a sailing ship.

I keep meaning to deck our car out in pirate flags. Well, I was initially thinking just a small discreet one, but now I wonder, why not go for something grander? I've been inspired...

Communal Global

Sunday, 11 September 2011

You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself.

This isn't a newsbreaking thought, but sometimes I must seem like the weirdest person around. If I were to start throwing out examples as to why I'm the weirdest person around, I'd still be sitting here at 3am writing, so I'll just start with a few. Or one, actually.

Today was supposed to be 'stay home and mow lawns and pull weeds' day, and because of that, we decided to spend the best part of the afternoon trawling after the kids in the toy section of The Warehouse. Procrastination. It's an illness. (By the way, that wasn't the 'I'm so weird' example. I'm getting to that bit now.)

Because my lil' camera is an extension of my right hand, and because I can't go anywhere without my right hand, I had to take my lil' camera with me on our grand excursion to The Warehouse. And, under the pretense that I was photographing Christmas present ideas, I took photos of the kids looking at toys. Photos of the kids testing out toys. Photos of the kids riding the toys around the aisles...

The crazy thing is, I just had to. I felt slightly self-conscious and a little bit nuttier-than-usual; kneeling in the middle of an aisle to snap a pic of the munchkins as they mulled over leapfrog laptops and whatnot. But much as I tried to stick the camera in my back pocket and pretend that I'd left it at home, I kept right on fishing it back out and snapping pics like the crazy snap happy life-tourist that I am.

Is it weird? To chase your kids around a shop, snap snappity snapping photos as you go? Because I never ever see other parents doing this. Never. And personally, I think they should. I think people should capture a broad range of moments in their children's lives. Not just 'here's Sally in her best party frock and Peter making a mud pie'. Our little sproggits are going to be all grown up before we know it, and we'll forget these small moments. Being uneventful moments in the scheme of things, they'll be amid the first memories to fade. But we'll know that they took place, and maybe because of that, it'll be these every day non-events we'll miss the most.

Okay before you (oh invisible and likely non-existent readers) sneak off, I'm not finished with the inane prattle yet! Sheesh. How rude. :P

You may have noticed the munchkins are wearing different outfits in the bottom row of photos. That's right folks; we're such sad-sacks, we did this 'window shop at The Warehouse' two days in a row. Yes that's right, we went there yesterday too.

Boy, were we trying hard to avoid maintaining the outdoor areas of our home.

Truth be told, I'm not a shopping person. But sometimes I just feel like going in to a shop. Any shop, I don't care. I just wanna go into a shop. Those garishly bright lights and rows of crap I don't need are sometimes a novelty to me.

Because unless I lock the kids in the house with a box of cereal and bowl of water while I sneak out for a couple of hours, I can never go into a shop. The Warehouse, with its loads and loads of mass-produced crap, is just about the only store (asides from Toyworld) where I can keep the kinetic energy ball that is Guy Smiley contained to a manageable area without him rocketing out the store entrance within five seconds of walking through the door.

According to Guy Smiley, the funniest game in the whole entire world is to make a mad dash for the door and try to throw himself onto the sidewalk before I can grab him. Any attempt to restrain him is met by  flailing thrashing squirming limbs. And not just four limbs. When he wants to escape your grasp, he suddenly grows an extra set of arms and legs.

It. Does. My. Head. In.

[This would have been a good time to insert a photo of Guy Smiley peddling his chubby lil' legs away from me.  I completely forgot to get one of those shots. Just pretend it's in this space.]

Given the givens, I didn't expect to make it to the homeware section, and I didn't care to, but somehow between the four aisles of toys at one end of the Warehouse and the kids fold-out foam couches at the other, I managed to spot a couple of items (aka mass produced crap) that I wanted. And thus had to photograph. *facepalm*

The red and white polka dot teapot I want simply because it's red with white polka dots (and it matched my hoody at the time. How cool would that have been, walking around with my teapot-hoody twinset?) And the mugs promise a spoonful of summer with every sip. I reckon if I woke up and had a coffee in those mugs every morning, I'd quite possibly never be grumpy again.

One day, if we can stay in the Warehouse long enough for me to get to a checkout counter without a small child having a total global meltdown, I'll buy some and test this theory.

Teapots and coffee mugs aside, there's nothing I covet quite like this camera. One day Canon 1000D. One day you will be mine.

End note: I didn't get a photo of the Warehouse staffer who gave me the hard word about letting my wee minions ride the toys, nor a photo of the Lily Bug's crestfallen face when I told her it was time to put the bike back... But if I had, I'd probably be uploading it right about now.

End note 2: I've never locked the kids in the house with a box of cereal and bowl of water and crept out to the shops. Just in case you were wondering. (Though, there are days when I'd like to...)

 Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people. 
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you can't help that. Most everyone's mad here. 
[laughs maniacally; starts to disappear] 
Cheshire Cat: You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself. 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

What's Gonna Work? (Teeeeam Work!)

It must be the most catchiest ditty to have burst out of the realm of kids programming since... D-d-d-d-d-Dora. And if you don't know what I'm talking about from the title of this blog post alone, then you've been living under a rock. Or you don't have kids. Or you have kids but they don't watch telly. Or you don't have a telly. And perhaps, you live under a rock. (FYI: I'm all for living under large natural structures and not allowing the kids to have their brains siphoned out via TV. Just that for us, we live in a small shoebox and often use the TV as an early-morning babysitter so mum can dither around pretending to do housework.)

So anyway, I digress. As usual.

Everywhere I go, it seems I can't escape the Wonderpets theme song. It has become the stuff of Facebook statuses. Usually along the lines of "Wonderpets Wonderpets... Go away!!" In the supermarket, 3 aisles to my right, I hear a small voice singing "we're not too big and we're not too tough but if we work together..." and then the mum is joined by her wee daughter when it comes to "what's going to work? Team work!"

And then there's our household. The kids are singing it while running in circles and bouncing off furniture, J is singing it late at night while putting together his latest model speedway car, and yours truly is currently singing it inside her head as she types this post. *shakes head in despair* The only one in this house immune to the song is The Teen, who shakes her head, rolls her eyes, and zones us all out in that way that only teenagers, men and small children can.

This has gone on for weeks and weeks. I admit, the song has one singular good use.  Can't get the kids to help put away their toys? Start belting out the chorus. (Or belching out the chorus, if you're clever like J.)

What I don't appreciate, is having the song stuck in my head when the kids are tucked up in bed nice and early, and the teen is at her one-night-a-week youth group leaving J and I to have that kind of special 'alone time' where we can dress up like show ponies and play dressage games, and I'm STILL singing the freakin Wonderpets National Anthem of Loopy Land inside my brain. Over and over and over...

Oh, totally kidding about the pony play by the way. I just wanted to see if you - oh invisable and quite possibly non-existent readers - were paying attention.

We prefer gorilla suits.

To the fly boat? To the fly boat!

Seriously, I'm thinking about getting one of these for the Lily Bug for Christmas. I'm 120% she would have hours of fun rescuing her Sylvanians from the willow tree, fetching trapped dinosaurs down from the bookcase...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Park! Park! Park! Park! Paaaarrrk!

After a couple of days trapped inside due to a stomach bug that swept through the household, we were so so relieved to escape the plague house outside this afternoon and spend a couple of hours at our favourite playground.

The cabin fever has been almost worse than the sickness itself. A camp out with DVDs became the theme of the weekend, however there's only so many times Ice Age 3 can be watched before "I thought you were a female!" is no longer funny. Even to the three year old who was the first to laugh, and who laughs the hardest - despite being completely unaware of what the joke is actually about.
So, at the first sign that the munchkins were able to keep down their food, we scarpered to Hobsonville Point Park for a bit of fresh air.

Hobsonville Point Park; with its interactive playground sculptures based on New Zealand native trees. Sculptures that are lovely to climb on in winter, and hot enough to strip the skin in the summer. (Kudos to the stupid bugger who didn't take that into consideration when designing a playground for thin-skinned children.)

Two days ago, the Lily Bug spent the entire day lying on the couch, without energy to do much more than sit up and vomit. Today she climbed right to the top of the ... climby thingie ... and into the net. Right into the net! That's a first, folks at home.

Always, always keeping an eye out for little brother. (And sometimes, sometimes a little lost when, during a game of hide and seek, mum doesn't hide where she was instructed to hide.)

It may have been too soon to take them on an outdoor adventure. Guy Smiley threw up a short while ago. I hope a relapse is not in order for tomorrow. I was thinking it might be a nice day to venture into our failed garden and begin removing the winter weeds. Or the plants we were supposed to keep. I can't tell which is what half the time. (My mother is the green fingers. I'm just the butter fingers.)