Christmas Past

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,”

A visit from St Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

I’m thinking of our first ever family Christmas with all three children and us all together. Christmas 2010.

Shiny happy

golden boy

gorgeous girl

I am so blessed to have these children with me & to have family to share a Christmas feast. Yes I am.

The tricky questions

Obi wan Kenobi

Most parents expect their children to ask questions which they do not know the answers to or make them feel uncomfortable. Even the most laid back parent can find themselves feeling awkward when their child asks questions about sex and how babies are made. Then there are the questions you just never thought anyone, let alone your child, would ask you.

I suppose all parents get these jaw dropping questions & how they handle them just depends how they’re feeling at the moment the question arrives.

My son Jacob asks a lot of questions. Each page of a book has at least four queries to accompany it. It’s partially that he’s exploring language and clarifying what words EXACTLY mean. It’s also that he’s adjusting how he thinks about the world & the way it appears to work.

On an average day he’ll ask things like: “What does blue container mean?” “What does red container mean?” “What does container mean?” Bang, bang, bang – just like that he’s clarified that the only difference between a red container & a blue container is mostly probably just it’s colour and that a container is something that can hold something else inside it.

Some days I have endless patience. I answer calmly. I ask him what he thinks things are. We jostle gently back & forth words, concepts, meanings & ideas.

Other days if I’m tired or having to give my attention to household chores or another child I can snap and shut down the questions. I’m not so proud of those moments. I am proud to have a little boy who asks questions and who wants to find out why, what, when & how and if. I love his beautiful brain and love the particular take he has on the world around him. He is incredibly imaginative. He changes his clothes four or five times in just a morning as he changes character. His current obsession is Star Wars & anything related to its universe. His dad & I have sat through the movies with him, answered the many questions and made sure he wasn’t scared.

Jedi Knight has a bo

Today as I was making him his bedtime bottle of goat milk he asked, “Do Jedi Knights have bos?” (bo being his word for bottle) A brief pause and then I replied, “Well, I guess when Jedi Knights were babies they probably had a breastfeed or a bo.” He was happy with this and said “Yeah, Darth Vader had breastfeeds.”

Before Star Wars Jacob was a pirate

a knight

and a lizard

(Post script: When Jacob was born I was unable to breastfeed him. The information at the time around medication I needed to take was that it was toxic for babies. Subsequently further studies have shown that in lower dosages and with the baby closely monitored through blood tests it is possible to breastfeed. My daughter, born before I was on medication, and my youngest son, born after the new information was available, were both breastfed until around their second birthday. I am a strong breastfeeding advocate but I also know that sometimes it isn’t possible for women for a variety of reasons. I talk to my children about the different ways that babies and toddlers are given milk and what the reasons for this are.)

A very bookish Christmas

Molly’s first ever advent calendar

Originally uploaded by beccaplusmolly

I seem to have lost a little of my Grinch now & am feeling a bit more in the spirit of Christmas. Helped in part I think by having some time alone to shop for presents.

A few weeks back I had taken myself to our local op shop to buy stocking fillers. My children’s stockings are huge, handmade by a family friend for each child at their first Christmas. On a limited budget second hand was the sensible option, plus it fulfilled my new shopping ethos: local, handmade or recycled.

Today I had something else in mind so I headed to Next Page Please, our local independent children’s bookshop. I didn’t have any specific titles I wanted but Maria, who owns the shop, is full of bookish information & happy to share suggestions for different age groups & interests. This makes it an enjoyable experience rather than a chore.

For Molly I selected: A Colin Thiele boxed set which includes two classics – Storm Boy and Magpie Island. I also chose Utterly me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Childs. Whacky kids & animals are high in Molly’s areas of interest.

Jacob, who is almost four, is keen on the tools of early literacy and fantasy play so I chose I spy with my little eye by Edward Gibbs, & Taming the sun: four Mãori myths by Gavin Bishop. I love Bishop’s illustrations, his renditions of our indigenous mythology & I’m sure Jacob will too.

Pete is a transporter, everywhere he goes he likes to have a trolley, a pushchair, a wheelbarrow or a car. He’s two years old so the illustrations are as important as the textual story. I think that Bruiser by Gavin Bishop & My 1st car was red by Peter Schössow will be just perfect.

There are also some second hand books for the stockings. These were found at our op shop & the local Sunday markets. I heard it in the playground by Allan Arlberg, These Islands: NZ verse collected by Gwenyth Jones & The Wednesday Wizard by Sherryl Jordan for Molly. Real life nightmares edited by Pat Edwards for Jacob (who also enjoy scary tales). For Pete who sometimes struggles with sleep I found a lovely copy of Mem Fox’s book Time for Bed.

James, my husband, will also be getting a book. I won his present from @FlyAirNZ on Twitter! It’s a hardback, colour book of the Artwork from the Tintin movie, signed by the creative team including our own Richard Taylor from WETA Workshop. I know he will love pouring over this alone & with Jacob who is a new Tintin fan.

I did sneak in a couple of gifts for myself today from a secondhand stall at the markets. James is insisting that I wrap them. So two summer dresses and two pairs of shoes will be waiting for me on Christmas Day. I’m sure that someone else in the family will buy me a book or two. *hint, hint*

If the heavy rain that’s been drenching Auckland this last week doesn’t stop  we’ll spend the days following the 25th recovering from over-eating & enjoying our new books.

I hope you have a happy, bookish Christmas too.

Christmas hell! Oh, Christmas hell! Ringing though the land…

Child One

She is over-tired after a busy year at school, with extra long terms Term Two & Three. She keeps a frantic pace of socialising, gymnastics, growing, learning & staying up late to squeeze in extra chapters of Harry Potter. When life runs this way  she pops out of bed ten times before she can settle. Currently quick to shout & cry.

Child Two

He has hit the not-napping phase again at 3yr8mo after a year back afternoon napping.His blood sugar levels get out of whack as we try to encourage him to eat more food & drink less milk. Yesterday he fell off a chair he was standing on –  giving himself a black eye & a blood nose. He does not respond well to an unsettled family or routine changes. After a busy year at Playcentre with his best buddy moving away at the end of 2nd term he is still finding his place. A child full of imagination: games of Vikings, Jedi Knights & Pirates abound. Can be prone to wailing & whining when things are overwhelmingly pear-shaped on Planet J.

Child Three

He is in the beginner phase as a Terrible Two Year Old. Currently has a cold so is grumpy & unwell. He knows his own mind. Will shout, smack or bite if things aren’t going according to Plan Pete, otherwise pretty cuisey.

Parental Units

Can be prone to shouting & crying when stressed by the shortage of funds to cover rising costs over Christmas & the pressure to socialise at every turn.  We have had a long year of house moves,group therapy, a parenting programme, family machinations, work & Playcentre responsibilities and  our dog’s death. Also attempting to manage a four month long headache, hayfever & interrupted sleep.

Everyone in this whaanau is ready for a break from these constant demands. We are in need of days spent chilling at the beach, fun day trips & quiet times spent pottering in our nest by the sea. We need no responsibilities except to be calm & kind to one another, to eat well, rest well & move our bodies every day: swimming, walking, biking, playing.

Please let this Christmas Hell be over soon.

A Grinch in Wonderland

Just like that

a shiny new year has slid through my fingers and turned old.

The things that I know about this year:

We moved house twice.

Our beloved dog, Tinsley, died.

We are all older – Molly is 7, Jacob 3 & Pete 2.

We love our new house.

We found that rugby could be fun.

We all love books and gymnastics.

 

Things I am grateful for:

My children & my life partner

My Mum

The weekly visits from my Dad

Postcards from a Granny far away

Playcentre & School

Community

 

It has been a year of big changes. I hold out great hopes for 2012.