In the days leading up to her 5th birthday, the Lily Bug grew increasingly anxious. As much as she was excited by the hype of her birthday (and the hope of her Trash Pack Street Sweeper wish coming true) she was terrified at what she would suddenly become, on the day of her birthday. Would she wake up and discover she’d grown into an adult all at once? Would she suddenly be too big to play with toys and run around a playground?

Despite our reassurances that she’d still be the same height on Feb 4th as she was on the 3rd, she had taken the notion of suddenly becoming a ‘big’ five year old to heart, and began waking from bad dreams in the night, refusing to sleep and even wetting her bed. It was only on the morning of her birthday when she woke to realise she was still a little girl, and made me measure her height just to be sure, that she finally relaxed – and got on with enjoying life through the eyes of a five year old. Which are, initially at least, very much like the eyes of a four year old.

Me on the other hand… I found it hard, really hard, to get excited about this particular birthday. These last five years have gone way way too fast, and no matter how much I may wish it, I just can’t seem to grab Time in my hands and stretch it out, to make it last longer.


Guy Smiley – can have his cake and eat it. Though, whatever else that is hanging out of his mouth, I just can’t tell you.
To be honest, the Teen and the Lily Bug don’t spend a lot of time together. You know how it goes with 17 year olds… They have their own life to live etcetera etcetera… But it was nice to see them hanging out for this special event – and I made sure to snap photographic evidence. 😉
The birthday girl longed for a T-rex cake, so I used our Xmas chocolate truffle recipe as it’s great for squishing into shapes. The Bug and I shaped the cake together, and she decorated it. Less a T-Rex, more a Dragon, but the process of its creation became the theme of our day and as well as being incredibly fun, it was a nice way for the Bug to relax and overcome her birthday anxiety. I suspect this will be a new birthday ritual for our family…

The Lily Bug: I wish I was the sun so I could shine brightly.
Me: Aww you’re so cute!
The Lily Bug: Then I’d turn myself up really high… So everyone can burn. *cackles manically*

She said that. I kid you not. My sweet lovely loving (most of the time ;)) little Bug uttered those words.

In her defense, I think she had just mucked up her phrasing a little. It was a cold morning on the way to kindy, and I’m sure she was only thinking about how she’d like to bring toasty warmth into the lives of those who, like us, have a thinly insulated home and a car heating system that kicks in five minutes after you reach your destination.

And I’m sure the way she tittered gleefully at the end of that statement was due purely to the amusement of watching my jaw swing open and hit the floor of the car. I admit, I too would find that comical. In a Loony Toons kind of way.

The Lily Bug is going to make a fantastic Global President of the Entire Planet some day. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Don’t hate on my awesome Paint doodling skills.

Monday kicked off with a stomach bug that has been systematically picking off our household, one after the other, for the past three or so weeks. I’ve been nervously waiting for my turn but so far I’m okay. Of course, this now leaves me slightly uneasy with the suspicion that everyone else in the family has an alien baby inside them, except for me, and now rather than celebrating the fact that I’m not a green-faced chunder wonder, I’m feeling a little rejected. Why am I not good enough for alien impregnation? Why can’t I experience a week or two with no appetite? Gods only know I could stand to shed a few kilos, and involuntary vomiting is so much easier than sticking my own fingers down my throat!

Contrary to what medical professionals may tell you, the best cure for alien impregnation (or ‘stomach bug’ if that’s what you chose to call it) is not plenty of fluids and bed rest, but plenty of fluids, loads of sand, a good smather of sunblock, and a spot of sunshine if you can happen to find some.

The weatherman predicts more sodden grey rain from Friday, so we decided to hotfoot it to the beach and make the most of the brilliant blue sky. Not a cloud in sight, and no wind whatsoever.

Of course, as soon as we set up our little afternoon camp upon the beach, the clouds began to roll across, with a large ominous black one hovering in the background (like a cleverly-disguised Mothership, keeping an eye on its human cocoons.)

Ignoring Mothership’s watchful eye, we had a great slice of afternoon. The kids enjoyed driving monster trucks through the sand and teaching their dinosaurs how to swim, being dragged through the super-low tide on a bodyboard and mowing their hands through the soft mud-like sand. 

Dear Lily Bug,

Last night, just before you fell asleep, you began to cry. I reached out to hold your hand, and asked what was wrong. You told me you didn’t want to turn five. You didn’t want to stop having Unicornie and Bolt to cuddle at night. I told you that turning five didn’t mean giving up your bedtime buddies, and you stopped crying – but only long enough to take a breath and start afresh.

“What’s up this time?” I asked.

“I’m afraid to be a big girl! I’m growing up too fast mum! I don’t want to start school. I don’t want to stop going to kindy. I love my kindy!” And again you erupted into sobs.

My heart broke for you, because I understood your fears – it’s hard facing the unknown, and most of all it’s hard that you have to step out of – and leave behind – your comfort zone in order to do so. I felt so sad that you carry these fears when you’re still so very young. How difficult it must be to realise when you’re only four and a half years old, that these are stages you’ll be leaving behind as you grow!

I wanted to hug away your fears but I couldn’t. I was pinned down by your little brother, who was clinging on to me in his own nearly-but-not-quite-asleep haze with a limpet-like ferocity. So I continued to reach across the gap between Guy Smiley’s bed and yours, and hold your hand, and talk you through it. Reminding you that it’s still a long time before you’re five and so you have lots of time left to enjoy kindy (and it broke my heart to say that too, because it’s not long at all, and I too would rather that things stay as they are now, than let you go!) and school will be exciting and fun…

And even though positioning you in one spot long enough to practice writing your own name requires a titanium backbone and a wee bit of bribery at times, I’m sure the teacher’s sharp voice will be more effective than mine… It’s not that I don’t have a sharp voice (which can probably be heard from four houses down when I used it) it’s just fairly ineffectual most of the time. And that trick of using a serious but quiet voice doesn’t work either, because neither of you can ever hear me over your own yowling.

Anyway, I digress.

The truth is, I don’t want to let you go to school either. I don’t. I try so hard not to think of next year because I want you and Guy Smiley to stay exactly at the stage you’re at now. Not forever. Of course I want to see you grow into the beautiful young adults I know you’ll become. But a dominant part of me can’t help but wish these next six months could last for at least another year and a half. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen. So I can only hope summer starts early this year, and we can make the most of your final months of being a pre-schooler, before February 4th shifts the tectonic plates of our comfort zones into a completely new formation.

Love always,
Mum

PS: At least my one consolation is that once you start school, we’ll you’ll be one step closer to total world domination. Whoo hoo!

Manutewhau Walk

We love our usual local West Auckland playground with its large reserve and native bush area, but it’s always way more fun to stumble across ones we’ve never been to before. Just the other day we tiki-toured down a few neighbourhood side-roads, and came across a new (to us) playground with a small scrap of bush to adventure through.

Manutewhau Walk

Manutewhau Walk

We had no idea where this track was going to lead us, and then it opened out onto our road! I’ve lived on this street 12 or so years, and never even noticed this particular slice of native bush. You know, despite the “Manutewhau Walk” sign and wooden walkway leading into it… (Admittedly, we’re usually paying attention to the larger reserve on the other side of the road.)

A couple of weeks earlier, a friend introduced us to Oakley Creek Falls – tucked away down an Avondale side-street where I never would have thought to ever find a forest. Or a Waterfall for that matter.

Oakley Creek Falls

Oakley Creek Falls

Seriously, people who think Auckland is all about traffic congestion, arsehole BMW-driving JAFAs & high-density housing, just really need to get out of the house more (And head out to West Auckland.)

auckland playgrounds

Fortnight in review: I even managed to get a pic of the Teen in here! Not that I took it myself, no she usually hides her face behind her hair and grumbles about how she’s having a bad face day whenever I wave the camera in her direction.

 

 

 

children on a rampage

The kids had a friend over today and they spent much of it busy playing and ignoring me completely (except for when I was required to mop tears or wipe mud from feet). Initially, I had this plan to spend my day “getting stuff done”, but short of having the assistance of Rumpelstiltskin, it is pointless – POINTLESS – to try and get anything done when there is not two by three little whirlwinds in the house. A play date gives children the perfect excuse to trash the house in ways they’d never think to do on their own.

children on a rampage

An adaptation of the laundry tornado

Scenario 1 – the muchkins, bored despite a house full of toys.
The Lily Bug: “Hey, should we tip out every single toy box we own, and toilet paper the walls?”
Guy Smiley: “Monster trucks!”
The Lily Bug: *tips out one box. Is bored by lack of accomplice, gives up.*

Scenario 2 – the munchkins + friend, bored despite a house full of toys.
The Lily Bug: “Hey, should we pull the toy boxes out from the wardrobe, scatter the contents all over the bed and then bounce on them until we hear cheap plastic snap beneath our feet?”
The Friend: “Yeah! Then we can take half of them outside and dig a hole and bury them – along with as much stuff from the cutlery draw that we can carry!”
The Lily Bug: “Yeah!”
Guy Smiley: “MONSTER TRUCKS!”
*Cue wanton destruction*

It usually takes a few weeks to locate the last missing monster truck, and I’m still missing teaspoons. No doubt the lawn mower will find those…

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when the kids can busy themselves all day by dreaming up creative new ways to use toys as stepping stones in order to cross the great lake of lava that is the entire floor surface of the house! I just wish it didn’t mean having to spend the next week approaching very short people and offering my first born if they’ll help tidy up the aftermath. :/

There’s really only so much a four-year-old needs to know. And in our family we sometimes tend to answer questions far too readily, and without always stopping to think about the appropriateness of the originally overheard conversation that prompted them to make inquiries in the first place.

Take this snippet from tonight for example:

THE LAD: Yeah! I can get suicide bombers for my game now!
THE LILY BUG: What’s suicide bombers?
ME: No….
THE LAD: They’re people with explosives strapped to them –
ME: Nooo…
THE LILY BUG: What’s explosives?
THE LAD: It’s –
ME: Jarrod! No!
THE LAD: It’s, uh… licorice.

Fortunately, the Lily Bug was spared from nightmares involving suicide bombers tonight. Instead she may dream of a Willy Wonka type land involving licorice straps as personal clothing items.

I’m not entirely certain if it’s nature or nurture, but sometimes our lovely kids come up with some strange stuff, right on their own accord and without any prompting from us at all.

Take this snippet of crazy for example: The other morning I woke to the Lily Bug standing beside the bed, growling beneath her breath while wearing this mask (painted by Guy Smiley the night before).

I won’t lie – I nearly shat a hole in the mattress.

 

On a brighter and completely unrelated note, here’s a wee gem that sprouted from a different conversation a couple of nights ago.

ME: You kids are geniuses.
THE LILY BUG: Wow! Really!!!
(I’m surprised at her excitement, and wonder how she knows what a genius even is. Until she turns to her brother and yells…)
THE LILY BUG: Guess what!?!? Mum said we’re GENIES!!

supermarket anxiety

I don’t want to blog about my supermarket misadventures – I don’t want to be that tedious. But if we’re going to be honest here, I have been driven bat shit crazy and I have to get this off my chest: My last half a dozen trips to the supermarket have been like a trip. A bad LSD trip from my long lost youth. Except this time the chocolate bars aren’t talking to me.

You know those contests where a person is given 60 seconds to race around and fill their trolley with as much random crap as they can throw in it? My shopping trips are like that, except I don’t get to win my groceries at the end. Nor do I end up with anything I actually want and/or need. I just get a small child who tries to climb the confectionery shelves at the checkout while I shove my random stuff onto the conveyor belt and pray I’ve slung together enough groceries to actually prepare at least one complete dinner for the week. Because Gods help me if I have to come back to this damned place again today.

supermarket panic attack

The terrorist here is Guy Smiley, who, at the darling age of two-in-three-months, is at this charming stage where he rebels against any kind of constraint. Car seat constraints are where the trouble begins, but that’s a halfway manageable problem. With enough perseverance and brute force on my part (gentle-applied brute force, I might add), he will eventually consent to being buckled into his seat. It’s the battle for the supermarket trolley’s toddler seat that I absolutely cannot win. Not even with chocolate bars. Talking or otherwise.

Being constrained to stay at my side once we enter the supermarket sparks insurgency. For approximately five seconds, Guy Smiley will pretend to hold my hand, until that exact moment when I think to myself “yay, he’s going to be placid toda – aaahhhfuckit!” And he’s off. Legging it at the first opportunity, as fast as his chubby lil legs can project him. Then as an added blow to my will to live, he’ll drop to a thrashing dead weight when I try to pick him up. It’s guerrilla warfare, and I’m throwing canned missiles into my trolley in the futile hope of being able to strike some kind of culinary taste-bomb once I get home.

But if Guy Smiley’s the terrorist, then The Lily Bug is the evil mastermind behind him

At the tender age of four-in-two-months, she has the boy trained in the field of Stealth Militiary Tactics. She’ll say “I’ll go get him mum!” and the next moment she’s hot on his heels, tugging at his hand and squealing “come on, let’s go this way!” The supermarket has become my children’s training ground for total anarchy.

As the Lad helpfully offered, “really Callie, your trips to the supermarket are pretty fucking pointless.” And the Lad would be right.

Though, I challenge him to do a better job when his son is rocketing through the store like a runaway pinball and the walls are closing in on him as he’s caught in the grip of what could be an acid flashback of ’93 but is most likely a really bad anxiety attack..

My dreams are still filled with the disapproving frowns of disapproving shoppers with their disapproving head shakes and their disapproving mutters of .. well… disapproval. Bastards.

Please, if you see a blue-haired lady dashing through Countdown in pursuit of two wee Che Guevara’s… Please throw some grocery staples into her trolley. She always forgets the sugar, flour or toilet paper, and it’s it’s been about two months since the bathroom last had a light bulb.

mall zombies

I am not a Mall person. Malls make me anxious.

I don’t know if it’s due to the throngs of people who meander slowly ahead of me when I’m trying to chase down my wayward children, or a sub-conscious fear that if the Zombie Apocalypse was to happen while in a mall, I’d be trapped with a shitload of annoying teenagers and office girls enjoying an ‘extended lunchbreak’.

God forbid. I wouldn’t know whether to run from the brain eating zombies or the girls stampeding their way to Supre for a free-for-all. Either way… Though, least if I were trapped in a Mall, I could find refuge in the confectionery isle of K-Mart – no self-conscious teen or stereotypically skinny office girl would be seen undead there, right?

Wait, it’s the zombies I’m meant to be running from in this scenario, isn’t it? Damn it, I forgot what nightmare situation I was writing about for a minute there.

In fact, I completely forgot what I was writing about from the moment I typed the words ‘Zombie Apocalypse’.

mall zombies

Oh. That’s right. Christmas shopping.

For the most part, we’ve got Christmas sorted, but there’s going to come a time – very soon now – where I’m gonna have to suck in a big brave breath and negotiate my way through a mall teeming with crazy-eyed shoppers and brain-eating teenagers.

It is inevitable that in the next three weeks, I will find myself trapped in a unbearably long checkout line with my six rolls of gift wrap, shopping basket of ‘stocking stuffers’ and a box set of American Chopper  for the Lad, that no staff member will be able to find the discs for. I will worry that my card will decline, even though I know there will be enough money on it to cover what I am about to purchase (I’ll know, because I would have checked seventeen times beforehand.) The children will transform into snarling Wargs and Grumkins as soon as they see the shelf of lollipops alongside them. Someone will begin to cry.

In that moment, the walls will close in on me as the anxiety attack takes its hold. I will consider eBay as the source for the Lad’s box set, rethink the necessity of Christmas stockings and start wondering if we really need all this wrapping paper, or if we could just upcycle the kids impressive stash of Playcentre paintings…

zombie brain splatter painting

All of this will happen. It’s a scenario that’s as much a nightmare tradition for our family as leaving up the Christmas tree for the first four months of the new year and drawing a face on a toilet roll and calling it the Xmas tree fairy because we’ve lost the original.

But as far as shopping malls go, I’ll have my say in that at least. And I’ll take my chances with Westgate. It’s spacious outdoor design and dead boring selections of shops should filter out most of the teeming hoardes, and if all else fails, there’s a Hunting and Fishing shop up the road, just in case I need to score myself some guns to deal with any f#%^ng annoying teenagers zombies.

messy play

Cornflour, water, and food colouring make for the BEST messy play material! Easier to clean up than mud, and nowhere near as smelly.

spock

I’ve been on the verge of a full-scale laughing fit all day. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m guessing the self-inflicted sleep deprivation has something to do with it.

It began last night when, during an intimate moment with the Lad, I called him Spock. It’s not my fault. I blame it squarely on that single wayward eyebrow hair of his that caught my attention (and nearly took out my eye). “Spock” I struggled to say through peals of hysterical laughter, as fat jolly tears rolled down my face. The laughing fit was eventually stifled, along with the ‘intimate moment’ by the time I was done with tweaking his eyebrows and laughing anew…

spock

And before it seems the whole purpose of this post is to poke fun at the Lad and his eyebrows (they’re really not abnormal at all, it was just ONE stray upward-curving hair that set the whole thing off…) I should probably get to the point.

Inappropriate laughing fits.

I’m not sure how common they are amidst the general population, but I have suffered from this affliction for as long as I can remember. And truly, it’s no laughing matter, my gut-wrenching chauffles really have caused distress at times.

Most prominent example? The time my sister and 15-year-old niece arrived for an impromptu visit and revealed that my niece was having a baby. I know they were expecting me to understand the predicament, as I too was once a teen mum. They were probably hoping for understanding, advice, or something half-way rational to come out of my mouth at least…

Instead, I gave a wee anxious giggle. Which erupted into a snort. Which was followed up by a full-scale laughing fit to such intensity that I was absolutely incapacitated. Unable to speak or even close my mouth to swallow back the drool. My family walked out of the house, and I could do nothing to stop them. They walked out, and didn’t speak to me for six months.

So, this is me when I’m sleep-deprived. A village idiot! A shuffling, chuckling crazy cat lady with a tendency to laugh during inappropriate moments! And when will that crazy kick in next? During the midst of a parent/teacher interview? A supermarket checkout queue?

I should probably think about having an early night sometime soon. Tonight, in fact, would be ideal. After all, tomorrow is grocery shopping day.