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Archive for December 2011

Flapping your fairy wings

Good stuff:

1. Three months ago I wrote about how overjoyed I was that you were toilet trained, and that it was easy and that it didn’t take very long for you to be super confident and accident-free. Well… it’s been a long three months! It seems I jumped the gun a little – we’ve see-sawed through accident-free periods that have lasted up to two weeks, and then back to multiple-accidents-every-day periods that have lasted up to three weeks! It’s been quite frustrating for everyone involved. However, I’m (tentatively) optimistic (just a little bit), that it might be over now… yay? I guess we’ll find out.

2. Santa brought us some board games and new puzzles for Christmas, and I’ve really enjoyed spending time playing them with you, and Tiernan. I was getting pretty sick of the old puzzles, which you have loved to death. And it’s fun to play some structured games, with rules, every now and then. It’s less taxing on the imagination (for me)! The fact that you can even play these games shows how much you are growing up.

3. Soon, you’ll be starting preschool. Every second week, you’ll be going on the same day as Tiernan, and on the other weeks, you’ll be going on a different day. I know, confusing. But it was the only way we could do it, as you’re still both going to Family Day Care one day per week, and there are limited spaces. It’s taken me ages to get my head around the crazy schedule, but we’ll see how we go. I think you are going to love preschool. You are much more confident than Tiernan, sometimes. I think having him there sometimes will help you to settle in. Wow, my baby girl is starting preschool. Exciting!

4. I’ve very much enjoyed watching you jump on your new trampoline with Tiernan and Neave. You are like a little kangaroo, the way you hop with both feet together, and your arms out in front for balance. Super cute.

5. You also got a microphone for Christmas, from Dan, and you’ve been treating us with ‘concents’, as you call them, ever since. Your favourite numbers to sing to us are ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, and ‘Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer’. By the way, sometimes when you’re watching TV, your current favourite show, ‘Ra Ra the Lion’ comes on, and I love listening to you sing the theme song, with your strong Aussie accent. “It’s the jingley jangley jungle noyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyse. Ra Ra!”

6. Just like Tiernan, you’ve also had a growth spurt recently, and suddenly you’re tall enough to do lots of things you couldn’t before. Like reach the pedals on the trike at Nanny and Poppy’s, and see yourself in the bathroom mirror. You’ve noticed too, and even commented, “I’m growing up like Tiernan!”

7. You’ve been fairly cool, calm and collected the last few days, and it’s been mighty nice. It’s probably not a permanent thing. You’ve still been having the usual amount of meltdowns, but in between you’ve been extra sweet and lovely for some reason. Maybe it’s because Neave has been making more than enough noise lately, as she is teething (or she’s broken or something) at the moment. Anyway, it’s been nice while it’s lasted!

8. Every morning when you wake up, I ask you how you slept and how you’re feeling today. Your answer, without fail, is always, “Not very good. I’m stick today. I’ve got coughs.” Then you give two, pathetic little fake coughs, and come to me for a cuddle. Funny girl.

9. You are so very cute when you’re asleep.

10. You got a little Sylvanian Families set for Christmas from your Uncle and Aunty, and you are besotted by Betty Blackberry, the cafe-owning bunny. I am too. She’s got a little stall set up, with tiny little fruits, and two blenders for making smoothies, with four little cups to serve them in. They are so miniscule and precious. And scary. I’m sure they’ll all disappear under the couch, or down Neave’s throat. So we’re saving the little props for special play times, but Betty is out and about daily. (Neave got a little set, too – a fox Mummy and her baby, which Neave also adores). I can’t wait until you’re all a little bigger, and less likely to swallow or lose these things, and then we can get a whole bunch of Sylvanian Families and put them in a house – they are absolutely adorable, and I’m really looking forward to watching you play, and even joining in! Tiernan seems very interested, too, which is nice. Can’t wait.

Dancing

Not-so-good-stuff:

1. As soon as something doesn’t go your way, you declare, “I hate this.” Or if it’s me that has upset you, by telling  can’t do something, you say, “I hate you, Mummy.” You hate everyone and everything, at least twenty times a day. It’s a bit upsetting, but mostly boring and repetitive, and I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing about it. I usually ask you not to talk like that, and try to point out that what you’re saying isn’t true – there is a difference between not liking what someone has said or done, and hating them. But you don’t get it. And you continue to ‘hate’. You’ve even told Neave that you hate her and that you don’t want to be her sister anymore. Five minutes later it’s all forgotten. I remember doing the same thing with my sister, but I’m pretty sure I was older at the time. I hope you grow out of it soon! I will say that your new-found ability to communicate just how much you loathe us all has meant that you scream a lot less. That’s a plus, I guess.

2. Hair brushing is a bit of an issue. You have longish, curly hair that knots up easily. Most days you like to wear it out, which of course makes it more prone to knotting. But you hate having it brushed, because you say it hurts. I’m as gentle as I can be (with a writhing, yelling head-shaking girl), but, inevitably, a tangle will catch and your theory that it always hurts is confirmed. I’ve offered, semi-seriously, to have your hair cut shorter if you hate brushing so much, which you always agree to immediately… and then want to go straight to the hair dresser and get it done right now. However, I fear that you don’t quite understand that, once it’s cut, it will take a really long time to grow back. Plus, I really love your curls! But I suppose, if this really gives us grief for much longer, then we will do it and see how we go.

3. Arguments over clothes! You want to decide what to wear, which is fine by me, except that you always choose a dress… regardless of the weather. With this crappy summer we’ve been having, it’s really not summer-dress weather very often! So, I try to compromise with you by letting you pick the dress, but putting a t-shirt and leggings underneath, which you absolutely detest. We invariably end up in a stand-off, where we can’t leave the house or do anything until you agree to put at least the t-shirt or the leggings on. It takes ages (that stubborn streak!). It’s exhausting. I can’t wait until your hypothalamus matures and you realise that, actually, 18 degrees is not skimpy dress weather!

4 and a half. Wow, this year has gone so quickly. I can’t believe you’re half way to 5. That is such a big deal!

Good stuff:

1. We are about to start our last year at home together. It feels bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to seeing you thrive and learn HEAPS at school, as I have no doubt you will, but on the other hand, I’ll be so sad to see you go. I won’t be ‘number one’ anymore – your teacher and your little friends probably will be. So, I’m determined to make the most of this year. We’re going to do lots of fun things, and try to get some Mummy and Tiernan time when we can.

2. You just had a hair cut (really short – your Dad took you to the barber) and oh my gosh, you are so grown up and handsome! A beautiful, beautiful boy. You’ve also had a growth spurt. Sometimes I look at you and just wonder how tall you will be when you’re seven. Or ten. To me, you already look big enough to be in school. I think if we gave you a uniform and a back pack and sent you along, you’d fit right in. My baby is so big now.

3. You are starting to be able to recognise some numbers and letters, and it makes me so proud when you read them out. I think when you start school the year after next, you will be really really ready. You could almost go next year, but you’re not ready socially. Another year at home will make sure you’re primed and ready to go when you’re 5 and a half.

4. You love to play rhyming games. You’ll say, “What’s a word that rhymes with five?”, and we all have to jump in and call out all the words we can think of that rhyme. You really get the whole ‘rhyming’ concept, too. Although you often call out nonsense words that do rhyme, but aren’t words. Like bive. Or sive. Or kive.

5. Like most kids, you are looking forward to being an adult so you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Sometimes you just try to do whatever you want, whenever you want now (see more below), and when we remind you that, actually, climbing on the bench and ransacking the cupboards for food is not appropriate behaviour in our house, your response is usually something like, “Well, when I’m 89 I’m going to do what I want!” Somehow I don’t think you’re going to be all that nimble at 89!

6. For Christmas, we got you and your sisters a trampoline. You were overjoyed. When you saw it, you exclaimed, “Oh wow, a trampoline! I’m going to jump on it right now!” And then, while you and Molly were jumping on it, you told us, “I wishded for a trampoline, and now I got one!” Your amazement was so cute, and it made us so happy to see you enjoying your present. You’ve enjoyed it every day since then, too.

7. Just before Christmas, we received your learning portfolio from Jillian, your Family Day Care Educator. In it, she had lots to say about your clever observations, and your charming personality. It was a joy to read someone else’s perspective on the unique package that is ‘Tiernan’, and to hear that you are so valued by this person and by your little peer group. I also enjoyed seeing some of the artwork you have been producing with Jillian, and in particular, your drawings. It’s rare that you will actually sit and draw with me at home – you usually say that you can’t do it and want me to do it for you. So I don’t get to see what you can do very often. It made me happy to see some gorgeous, smiling faces that you had drawn to represent your family, and also a drawing of a train that you did. I love them and will keep them forever.

8. Also, just before Christmas, you started talking about some friends you have made at preschool, and you wanted to know whether we could invite some of them over to play. I look forward to trying to catch up with some of your friend’s Mums and Dads in the new year, to try to arrange a playdate or two for you. Actually, I’m a bit nervous about it, but it’s nice that you are starting to make friends, and so I’m happy to do this for you. Maybe I’ll make some friends, too?

9. Speaking of preschool, Molly will be starting with you next year, every second week (it’s complicated!) and I hope this will help you to feel more comfortable there. You’ve come a long way in the past year, but sometimes you are still a bit reluctant to go. I’m hoping that one year with Molly around (sometimes), will help your confidence, as you will get to be the big brother, and show your sister the ropes. I’m sure you’ll be very helpful.

10. The other day, you were watching a movie that you thought was really funny, and the sound of your laugh just made me crack up. Every time. You often do silly laughs when you’re mucking around, or being annoying, but this was a genuine belly laugh, and it was infectious. Love it. You’re great.

11. Bonus one: you say funny things in your sleep!

Aww!

Not-so-good-stuff:

1. I think I mentioned this one last time, but Oh My God, I am sick of arguing with you every morning to get you dressed and ready. We don’t even have to be going anywhere, but still you somehow manage to turn it into a big, stressful ordeal. Okay, so maybe I’m the one getting stressed, but seriously, it sucks. Just. Get. Dressed!!!

2. You’ve discovered lying. You do it a lot. You try to cover up things that you know you shouldn’t have done. You also do it when it’s completely unnecessary. I’m not sure why – as with everything you do that’s unpleasant, I’m hoping it’s just a phase that you will grow out of. In the meantime, I’m trying to get the message across that lying about something makes it so much worse than when you just tell the truth and own up to whatever you did. Problem is, I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to just say, “Ok, thanks for telling me you ate all the biscuits and spilt crumbs all over the floor and then fed them to your baby sister and then pushed her over…”, without getting mad at you for doing all of things. Because you told me you did it instead of lying about it. I just go ahead and get cranky about it whether you admit to it or not. Which only makes you try lying again the next time. I think it’s going to take us both a while to work this one out!

3. Sometimes you are an ungrateful little arse. Yep, I know you’re only 4. Yep, I know you’re egocentric and have no empathy whatsoever. But, I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was when, on Christmas Eve, you opened up three gifts from your great-grandmother, and declared each one ‘for babies’, before asking her for something different instead. I could have died. Cue big lecture on the drive home about what it means when someone gives you a gift and how, even if we don’t really like the gift, we show our appreciation by thanking the person for the gift, and keep any other thoughts to ourselves. Or at least wait until later when the gift-giver is not around.

4. Your ‘inside voice’. It doesn’t exist. You need to grow one. Pronto. I’m going to blame your Dad’s side of the family for that one.

You are the slightly shorter Optimus Prime

Pics from the lead-up, and the aftermath!

Decorating the tree. Last year, we bought a plastic tree for the first time (for me). I resisted for so long because I just love the smell of a real pine tree. It brings back many happy memories of Christmas’ past. However, I will admit that I like the convenience of a fake tree. No mess. Easy to put up. And you can get it out in early December, instead of waiting until the week before Christmas, because it won’t dry up and turn brown!

We made this Advent Calendar. The red squares were envelopes with a decoration inside, and a different activity suggested for every day. I’ll admit that I cheated outrageously, changing the day’s activities to suit myself, or for the sake of convenience. I love that my kids can’t read yet. However, we did do something fun every day, or sometimes two fun things on the same day to make up for a missed day here and there. The calendar added another exciting element to the Christmas count-down, and the kids loved seeing the number of sleeps until Santa comes get smaller and smaller and smaller with each day.

Here it is with only three sleeps to go!

Two gorgeous elves.

Christmas nails.

Homemade Christmas cards that we sent to family, friends and neighbours.

Santa’s been!

Christmas morning, getting busy opening presents.

The big one, the mother of all trampolines! We knew it would be 12 feet wide (it said so on the box). But who knew just how big 12 feet actually is? Hmm. Well, it should last them, like, forever!

Is this not the cutest little table you’ve ever seen? It was a present from my Mum. I think they love it almost as much as I do.

Over Christmas, the kids have fallen into a disturbing pattern of falling asleep very late in the afternoon, and then not being able to go to bed until after 10pm. Then they sleep in the following morning, and the pattern repeats. This makes for very tired, cranky parents who just want their quiet evenings back. So, in attempt to break the routine, we took them all out for the entire day yesterday, and kept them really busy so there was no time for sleep during the day. It worked, they were all in bed by 7:30pm, and we could relaaaaaax. One of our stops was this great indoor play area in Katoomba. Entry was half the price of the ones in Penrith, and the kids pretty much had the place entirely to themselves. Brilliant! That’s Molly right at the very top of the castle.

We also took the kids to see the Three Sisters in Katoomba. On our way there, they were fascinated when I told them the Aboriginal Dreaming story about the Three Sisters. I remember being similarly enthralled by this story as a child, and so visits to the Three Sisters always felt kind of spooky and thrilling at the same time. I remember hoping to catch a glimpse of the poor witch doctor, trapped in his Lyrebird disguise as he searched for his magic bone in order to restore his three daughters to their human forms. The thought of running into the bunyip made the visit just a little bit scary, though. To me, there has always been something magical about visiting this place, and I was hoping to imbue some of this sentiment into my own kids. Unfortunately, by the time we actually got to see them, the kids were very hot, cranky and tired, and so the element of mystery was lost. Perhaps when they’re a little older.

The best part about Christmas is getting time to relax! I’ve been reading, doing puzzles, watching TV and not worrying about getting up early in the morning. I’ve also been indulging in the occasional cocktail, which makes everything feel festive and holiday-ish, evening if we are mostly bumming around at home.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

It’s been a busy couple of months, and I have way too many photos from November, December and Christmas to squeeze into one post. So this is Part 1, with Christmas photos to follow.

Tom’s birthday cake, a Nigella Lawson Butterschotch Cake. I had to make caramel. It took two goes, but I did it. Yummo!

We made banana ‘ice-cream’, with the single ingredient being overripe bananas that had been cut into chunks and then frozen. We then put them in the food processor until they were smooth and ice-creamy in texture. Brilliant on a hot day.

Three cheeky monkeys.

A family outing to the zoo. Here they are on the train trip to the city, with Nanny and their cousins.

View from the ferry.

Another cake, this time for my sister and her partner, who had a music icon-themed birthday party in December. The cake was white chocolate mud, covered in white chocolate ganache. The models were made from fondant. It was fun! And yummy.

Tom and I at Rosie Beaton’s last ever broadcast for Triple J, live at Sydney Uni’s Manning Bar. We had a great time, seeing live music together – it’s been years! The night ended a little earlier than we’d hoped, as we had to return home to vomiting children. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

 

Every morning, the kids have weet-bix for breakfast. We have many suitable vessels in which to serve said weet-bix. However, one such vessel has been deemed the champion of all weet-bix-serving vessels, the world over. You see, this particular vessel does not merely serve weet-bix. It also has the power to transform the weet-bix-eater’s entire life from one of abject misery to one of good fortune and eternal happiness. Such is the glory of:

The Darkest Blue Plate.

As you can imagine, demand for the Darkest Blue Plate is high. So high that we have developed a roster system for its use. On alternate days, Tiernan and Molly have their turn at being ‘The Holder of The Darkest Blue Plate’. The unfortunate person whose turn it is not, must make do with the lesser vessel, The Lightest Blue Plate. That person is sure to have a terrible day. Bad things will probably happen to them. In fact, they will be lucky if they live to see their next turn with The Darkest Blue Plate. Neave, who has not yet learned to see beyond the weet-bix that clouds her higher senses, eats from The Green Plate every morning.

Our roster system has one flaw. It exists only in my head. It is my job to remember, from day to day, who gets to eat their weet-bix from The Darkest Blue Plate. Most mornings, I get it right. However, on the one or two days each week when I am not the assigned Breakfast Manager, the roster system goes out the window and chaos reigns.

There is only one rule for the Breakfast Manager: Get the roster wrong at your peril.

You may be wondering what happened on the day I threw The Darkest Blue Plate in the bin? If The Darkest Blue Plate is afforded such high status in our house (indeed, the world), then how could it have ended up in the bin? What could have gone so terribly, terribly wrong?

Well, I’ll tell you. A riot broke out.

I was back on duty as Breakfast Manager for the first time in days, and I had not a clue whose turn it was to be ‘The Holder of The Darkest Blue Plate.’ Instead of asking my husband, who was at work, I hazarded a guess. I gave Tiernan The Darkest Blue Plate, and Molly the lowly Lightest Blue Plate. The plate of plebs. I stood tensely by the breakfast table, waiting for signs of discontent, ready to switch plates, with lightning speed, if necessary. When no protests were forthcoming, I sighed with relief and walked away. But something was wrong. I could hear happy weet-bix-munching from one end of the table, but not the other. I slowly turned around, dreading what I would find.

It wasn’t pretty. Molly was, indeed, not eating. She was watching in horror as Tiernan took her turn to eat from The Darkest Blue Plate. Tiernan, who was already receiving The Darkest Blue Plate’s mood-enhancing benefits, was smiling beatifically as he ate, fully absorbed in the task. He had no idea anything was amiss. Meanwhile, Molly, whose ire was growing in direct correlation to Tiernan’s happiness, finally could stand it no longer. She launched into a devastating missile attack. The missiles (spoons, bowls, whatever she could get her hands on), were accompanied by ear-splitting shrieks. It was the shrieking that did the most damage. It was the shrieking that forced me to take desperate action, lest we all be rendered deaf by the power of Molly’s wrath. I seized The Darkest Blue Plate, and I threw it in the bin.

The effect was immediate. Stunned silence. Shocked faces.

Then angry tears and accusatory glares. Followed by tantrums when I refused to retrieve The Darkest Blue Plate from its binny grave.

I gathered up my children, and sat them down with me on the couch as I soothed their tears.

“The Darkest Blue Plate is no more.” I told them. “From this day forth, your weet-bix will still taste like weet-bix. But the eating will be tainted by bitter memories of what was, and what could have been. Rest in peace, Darkest Blue Plate.”

Okay, so I didn’t really say that. What I said was “The Darkest Blue Plate is gone. Get over it.” It took some time, but they did.

Were my actions justified? I don’t know. But I have hope that our household will be a happier one now that The Darkest Blue Plate is gone.

At least until Santa brings us TWO new Darkest Blue Plates for Christmas.