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Archive for April 2012

Here are some blurry photos from Easter, and the weeks following. The photos are blurry because I took them all on my phone. I use it more than the camera these days because the camera is just as blurry. That’s my fault. I took it to the beach and got sand in it. So, blurry photos all around.

Easter morning. The Easter Bunny made the mistake of leaving Neave’s chocolate bunny within her reach. This photo was taken at 5:30am.

Molly being a princess down at Mum’s house.

Mum and I took the kids to a wildlife park in Nowra during our stay at Mums. This koala actually put its paw through the fence to have it stroked. Cute, although I was a little concerned someone (not the koala) would end up with severed fingers!

Neave opening some birthday presents. She’s pretty good at it.

Cake(s) number 1.

Neave enjoying cake number 1.

Cake(s) number 2 (featuring leftover cakes from cake number 1). These went to Family Day Care with Neave.

Cake number 3 – trampoline cake for her little party.

How I wish this one wasn’t blurry! Soooo cute, Neave. Feeding her doll.

Tiernan drew this racing car. He put the 2 on it first, then the 1, and told me it was ‘twenty-one.’ Close! He’s not big on writing, but loves to count and read numbers so I’m thinking he’ll be a numbers man. I don’t like to push him to do things he’s not interested in – he’ll have plenty of time to do that stuff in school. I gave up teaching him to write his name a while ago. But he figured it out anyway:

His day care educator was as surprised as I was when he did this all on his own at drawing time. Clever kid. I think he is a bit like me that way – doesn’t want to try anything unless he’s pretty sure he can already do it!

We got a new fridge, which means the kids got a new box. Win-win!

Boxes also make great down-hill racing tracks.

Molly’s new haircut. I’m a bit sad to see her long curls go, but she hates having it brushed. Hates it. She actually wanted it shorter than Tiernan’s but I convinced her to try this length out first. I have to admit I’m struggling with this one. She wants it short, I want it long. I was the same way with Tiernan – it’s the curls, they get me every time! However, it’s her hair so if she still wants it short in a few more weeks, then we’ll give it a try. I’m not entirely sure she fully understands that once it’s gone it won’t be back for a while, which is another thing that’s holding me back a bit. But we’ll see. The hardest part will be convincing Tom…

Some say it with kisses and hugs.

Some say it with flowers and hearts.

Tiernan says it with Duplo sculptures.

This ‘I love you’ was placed on my bedside table (Tom got one too), where they are supposed to remain indefinitely. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Aww, sweet.

Sorry. You probably won’t find this very interesting. But I need to vent.

Tonight I am sad and angry. Today was Neave’s birthday party. It was nice. But it didn’t all go to plan. Tonight as I tucked Tiernan into bed, I had to explain to him why his cousins, who we believed to be coming to the party with Tom’s brother (G), didn’t turn up. I had to explain why we may never see them again.

A family feud (I can’t believe I’m typing these words, it seems so cliché), has been brewing for about four years now, and it has finally all come to a head. Our relationship with G and his wife, M, has been rocky during this time. We had suspicions that M was trying to distance G from his family, but none of us really wanted it to be true. However, it now seems almost certain that this is the case. Not only that, she has just about succeeded in breaking down their relationship altogether.

Today it all came out, over a two-year-old’s birthday party. They refused to come, because we aren’t to be trusted near their children. We do crazy things like discipline our children in a calm, reasonable manner instead of yelling at them and humiliating them publicly. We teach them the correct names for their private parts and don’t shame them when they are (age-appropriately) curious about their own, and other’s. We have concerns about our children watching violent TV-shows. We accept that children all do things like pinch, bite and hit, until they learn appropriate ways to express themselves (note I say accept, not condone).

But all of this is nothing. These are merely the petty, nit-picky excuses for the way they ignore and avoid us. All of it has been a ploy to create a rift between Tom’s brother and his family, and M has chosen to bully our son to achieve this end. Since he was 18 months old, she has been blaming him for teaching his cousin, who is 7 months younger, bad habits. She accuses him of traumatising H, claiming he is not himself for 6-8 weeks after contact with Tiernan. I know my son is not perfect. (Have you read this post?) He can be extremely difficult to manage. But, when it comes down to it, his behaviour, while intense and sometimes disagreeable, is normal. Age-appropriate and completely normal. For her to claim he has such an influence over H is simply ridiculous – they are lucky if they see each other four times a year.

There is so much that I am hurt by in all of this. I am sad to see Tom so distraught at possibly losing his brother. He actually cried today. I know how devastated I would be if someone tried to take my sister from me, break down our relationship and destroy the bond we share. To make matters worse, G doesn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight. He’s letting it all happen; apparently not at all concerned about the people he is turning away from.

I am deeply hurt that people I once believed to be good friends, who I have helped in times of need, who I have defended, whose children I have loved and cared for, can turn around and treat my family in this way. To tell us we are untrustworthy and to be so unforgivingly judgemental about our parenting practices. I wouldn’t dare assume that the way I do things is the only way, the ‘best’ way. I just do my best. I don’t agree with everything they do, but I don’t go around creating huge dramas about our differences. I live and let live. I never once expected not to be given the same respect, especially from family members.

I feel dreadful for Tom’s parents. They have been dragged into this mess, forced to take sides, and have had to side with us because, really, there is no other logical alternative. I can’t imagine how much this must hurt them. By taking our side, they are facing the very real possibility that they will be excluded from their grandchildren’s lives from now on.

But the worst part? Having to explain to Tiernan why, for the moment, he won’t be seeing H, W or C. I told him it was because we had been arguing with their Mum and Dad, and that we are all a bit upset about it. I told him that, hopefully, we will be able to fix the problem so that he can play with H (his favourite cousin, the closest in age) again soon. That none of it was his fault, or H, W or C’s fault. That H still loves him and wants to play with him as soon as he can. That he doesn’t have to be upset with his Uncle and Aunty if he doesn’t want to be… he can still love them.

But at this point I had to stop. I wanted to say that they still love him. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Because I don’t believe it’s true. How can they? How can they do this to a child they love? How can they bully him, blame him, shame him, but still claim they love him? They don’t. Right now I am finding this the hardest thing to accept. My innocent, beautiful child – who doesn’t know the things they have been saying about him, who just wants to play and be loved – loves them still. Whole-heartedly and unconditionally. I will never tell him not to. But nor will I argue if he one day decides it’s not worth his while.

The best I can hope for at this point is that we will be able to patch things up enough for the children to continue to see each other. But I don’t expect to ever trust G and M again. It will never be the same. They have hurt us all too much.

So yeah, that’s the situation. I promise I’ll let go of it now. But this is how I work through my feelings about things, by writing and sharing them. Thank you for listening, if you did. I’ll write nice things about Neave and her little birthday party soon.

A couple of weekends ago I heard on the radio that the apple season has started, so we drove out to Bilpin, which is about an hour’s drive North-West (ish) of us, where there are lots of orchards and you can pick your own fruit. It was our first time, and we may have gone a little overboard, coming home 10kg of apples heavier, and $23 lighter. However, it was lots of fun, spending leisurely time outside with the kids. The apples we picked have been put to good use – some went into a yummy pie that I made, many have been crunched and snacked on for morning tea, and I believe Tom has further pie-plans for yet more of them.

Here are some snaps of our adventure:

At your preschool Easter hat parade

Ah Molly. My ‘big’ girl. The things I love the most about you at the moment:

1. You absolutely love your dancing lessons, and you can’t wait to go each week. We recently bought you some little ballet slippers, and you would sleep in them if I let you. The joy on your face as you dance and twirl with the other girls in your class is priceless. Like your brother (and mother), remembering the steps seems to be a bit tricky for you, but it doesn’t bother you in the slightest and you make up for that with your big smile and happy, just-one-step-behind moves. Love it.

2. Yesterday I took you to the Easter Show with your Aunty Kate, and it was lovely to spend a whole day with just you. You are such a delightful little thing. On the train journey into Olympic Park, you were just bubbling with happiness, and the people sitting near us couldn’t help joining in with your excited chatter about what we would see at the show. They thought you were just so cute, and they laughed at your funny observations on life along the way. We had a great day, even though you got a little tired and stroppy in the middle. You bounced back to life right at showbag time, and on the train ride home you made even more friends, and conversed merrily with them the whole way home. I love your confidence and ability to strike up a conversation with almost anyone.

3. Sometimes, sometimes, we are able to talk you into trying your dinner instead of you just pronouncing it ‘disgusting’ before you’ve even looked at it properly. We’re talking little steps, here.

4. You say funny things like, ”The sun is setting up,” when it’s actually just setting. When you were sick with a cold recently, you told me your voice was in your ear and it was “annoring” (a combination of ‘ignoring’ and ‘annoying’) you. After preschool a few weeks ago, Tiernan’s teacher pulled me aside to tell me an amusing story. Miss R told me you had asked her a question that she hadn’t quite understood, but took to mean, “Do you have a Volvo or a Daewoo?”, to which Miss R’s reply was, “No, I don’t have either. I have a Fiesta.” You appeared very confused by this response. It wasn’t until Tiernan stepped in to clarify the issue that it all made sense, “No, Molly asked you if you have a vulva and a vagina!” No wonder you were so confused, what’s a Fiesta?

5. You sit still long enough to let me do your hair most days, which means I can try to tame the wild beast that is your fringe. It has a mind of its own. I don’t have to argue with you quite so much about looking after your hair, or chopping it off. When I do offer chopping as an alternative to brushing (and I’m quite serious when I offer, it’s no empty threat), you now say, “No thanks, let’s brush it.” Which is good news because I love your hair and want you to love it too. Not in a vain way, but in a ‘this is me’ way.

6. You’ve had another growth spurt and you suddenly look decidedly like a small child rather than a toddler. You have more neck, slender shoulders and have lost some of your cute little tum. It’s exciting to see you changing in this way – definitely not a baby any more.

7. You are continuing to thrive at preschool, and at family day care. Lately you have been slightly hesitant to go to preschool, but as soon as we are there your anxiety fades and you are very happy to stay. Your teachers love you and are always excited to have you for the day, which is really nice. I think they enjoy your bubbly personality as much as I do.

8. We have been encouraging you to use your words more when you are angry or upset, and it seems to be working. When something goes wrong, you have been trying to tell us that you’re upset instead of screaming and telling us you hate us. It’s a pleasant change. It’s not 100% effective just yet, but we’re getting there.

9. You couldn’t sound more Aussie if you tried. Your accent is a little bitKath and Kim.You say things like “It’s noight toime,” and “Boye boye.” You’ve also been experimenting with adding extra vowels to some words, such as “Deeark” instead of “Dark”. On the plus side, you recently started putting the ‘l’ into ‘Molly’, which was previously ‘Mowy’.

10. While I think of it I just want to say thanks, Molly, for never trying to climb over the kitchen gate and into the cupboards to raid them for food. Your brother and sister both do that, and I very much appreciate the fact that you don’t. Three climbers might be a few too many for me to handle. Even though you are quite happy to reap the rewards of your siblings’ looting, thanks for not actually doing it yourself.

On the carousel at the Easter Show


With Miffy at the show

Some least-favourites now:

1. You recently gave Neave her first hair cut. While I was out one weekend, your Dad heard Neave give a small cry, and out you came with tears streaming down your face, asking him to come and see what you’d done to Neave. He followed you into the study (which is supposed to be off-limits to children), to find a pair of scissors on the floor, along with a lock of Neave’s hair. There was also a scratch on the back of Neave’s neck, and this is what had upset you. Even though Neave wasn’t too worried, you realised you had hurt her and were so sad. You took yourself to your room and cried yourself to sleep. Later on, you asked your Dad whether he thought Neave’s scratch would be feeling better yet, and you seemed relieved when he said he thought it was. I guess this is an example of learning the hard way not to touch scissors. It’s kind of funny now that it’s over, but I am a little upset about Neave’s missing curls. They’re not all gone, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to some of them yet!

2. I don’t know how many times our bed has been wee’d in over the last few weeks, but it is way too many. Ick. The usual routine at the moment is for you to go to sleep in our bed of a night, and for daytime sleeps, because it’s too hard to get both you and Neave settled in the same room. You still sleep in nappies at night, but I like to give you the opportunity to go to bed nappy-free, and slip one on you later if I can’t get you to go on the toilet before I go to bed. However, that’s not working any more, so we now have to do the nappy thing at bed-time. I guess I’m more annoyed at our expensive, but apparently worthless mattress-protector, which hasn’t been much good for keeping the wee off the mattress (which I would assume is part of its job description!)

3. While we’re on the subject, toileting continues to be a frustrating endeavour with you. I think I wrote three months ago that I thought you’d finally got the hang of it, but alas, the pattern has continued, where you will have no difficulty using the toilet for two weeks, and then you will have multiple accidents each day for another two weeks, before suddenly getting it again. So I’ve resolved to just accept that this is the way it is for now, instead of counting the weeks as they go by and expecting that each relapse will be the last. You’ll get it eventually. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating in the short-term, though.

4. I’ve been a little worried about you lately, as you’ve had two sort of ‘fainting spells’ in the last couple of months, which is odd. Both happened at day care, so I’ve not witnessed it myself, but it is concerning. We’ve been to the doctor, and you’ve had basic blood tests, which have come up normal. If it happens again, we will be referred to a paediatrician for a more thorough investigation. In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed that they were just ‘one-offs’ (even though there were two), and that everything’s okay with you.

I love you, precious girl.

With the apple seeds

Ready for soccer

Tiernan, Tiernan, Tiernan. We’ll start with the nice:

1. Well, the good news is that your hearing test went well, and, for the moment, your hearing is perfect. Also, your behaviour is also noticeably much improved. Coincidence? Who knows. I guess it’s still a matter of wait and see, but I hope the worst is behind us for now. Probably, the very next time you get a cold, we will go through the whole blocked-ear, infection, glue-ear cycle again, but we’ll deal with that when it happens.

2. You are very much enjoying playing soccer, like a ‘big kid’. You had a trial game last weekend (which I missed as I was rowing in a regatta), and you scored three goals – two for your team, and one for the opposition! Your Dad said you really started to get it during the second half, and you were running rings around the other kids – you just have so much stamina and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to be at your next game, cheering you on proudly.

3. You’re also enjoying your hip-hop classes. I wasn’t sure how enthusiastic you would be about them, but you’re getting the hang of the routine and seem to like going. I was worried you would rebel against the rigid structure of learning a dance, but you wait patiently and listen to the teacher’s instructions, and then you have a go. It’s funny to watch because you always seem to be a step behind the others – you haven’t memorised the routine as well as they have. But I can TOTALLY sympathise with you there – I suck at learning dances and never know what to do next! So it’s probably a family trait. You’re getting better each week, though.

4. You got your first invitation to a birthday party, and you are so excited. The party’s a whole month away, but you mention it every second day. It’s a ten-pin bowling party, but when I told you about it you got confused with lawn bowls and asked whether you would be playing at the ‘Bowlo’ (our nick-name for the local Bowling Club). I love that you were equally as keen when you thought it was lawn bowls, though.

5. You are settling back into preschool okay. We still have some trouble convincing you to go on the days that Molly doesn’t come with you, but you are getting better at finding things you like about it when we discuss what will happen when you are there.

6. Last week you invented a dinosaur, called the ‘Miffiomimus’. I asked you to describe it to me, and you ended up drawing a picture of it and I helped you to label the parts. Then you told me about its eating habits and what it liked to do, and I wrote down what you said. It demonstrates how much you have been taking in from the non-fiction library books we’ve been borrowing about wild animals and dinosaurs. Sometimes you’d much rather read these than story books before bed, and now you can confidently compose your own ‘factual’ reports about your imaginary creatures. Very cool.

7. Your Dad took you to the Easter Show yesterday (Molly and I went separately), for some one-on-one time, and he reports that you behaved beautifully the whole day. Very mature, very responsive, very patient when it came to waiting in lines and walking through crowds. I’m glad we had the opportunity to give you this time out on your own. For your birthday, I think we will try to take you out for a day again, maybe to the Museum of Fire, or something else you’d find interesting. You respond well to having this quality time with us occasionally.

Ferris wheel

Baby animals

8. In the last few days, you’ve not only been behaving much more reasonably, you’ve also been playing quite happily with your sisters more often. A bit more generous and understanding, all around, which is nice to see. When I notice you doing these things, I really try to let you know that I can see how nice you’re being, or how hard you’re trying to get along. I hope you know we don’t only see the negatives.

Playing with Molly, who is 'getting married'

9. I’m still pinching myself as I watch you play, and speak using big words, and dress yourself, and try to understand the complexity of the world around you as you become increasingly aware of it. My baby is nearly 5! My baby is going to school next year! Gulp…

10. We’ve started an apple-seed-planting project because you professed to me that your dearest wish is to grow an apple tree from a seed. You asked me enough times that I finally googled how to do it, and so we have dried out a few seeds from an apple, and we now have them in the fridge, wrapped in damp paper towel. Hopefully, within a month, they will sprout seedlings, and then we can plant them. I am not a gardening person. I tend to forget to feed things that don’t tell me when they are hungry (the way children and pets do). So this is an experiment. I think you are expecting to have a fully functioning apple tree planted in our back yard by your fifth birthday, while I will be completely amazed if we even get to the seedling stage. But we shall see…

With your apple seeds

And now the not-so-great:

Actually, having just vented in a big long spiel about your difficult behaviour (see here), I’m not sure that I have anything to say on the subject at this juncture. Yep, you do annoying, silly things. Yep,  you can be extremely loud and sometimes very unreasonable. Yep, you drive me, and everyone else, nuts at times. But right now, I am being quietly thankful for the last week, which has been almost (not quite) free of melt-downs, screaming matches, public humiliations, and teeth-grinding angry moments. For the moment, we’re okay. Love you xxx

This was your idea - you saw it on Playschool and wanted to try it