Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Parenting Book just for fun

Each week I'll post a new chapter of a little online parenting book. Hopefully it will keep you smiling and remembering all the good things and the scary things about this journey called parenting...

Ladies and gents, I’m going to tell you about my journey of discovery and it’s going to be Warts ‘n All. No sugar coating, just honesty and my real feelings and emotions around this strange and wonderful little thing called parenting. When I started to plan this journey journey, I am not ashamed to admit that I was a parenting book junkie – anything and everything that I could lay my little grubby paws on, was proudly placed in my bookshelf to add to my ever increasing pile of ‘to read’ lists. In my mind, I had this idealistic picture of a family – happy healthy pregnancy, baby coming out looking like the picture of calm and serenity, me breastfeeding happily and so that lovely picture continues. STOP – back up! This isn’t what it’s really like – trust me there are moments, good and bad, but I don’t think I went into this whole thing with a realistic viewpoint. The moment you conceive, and before for some of us, who become slaves to the ovaries, it’s full of ups and downs. Elation followed by fear, then worry, then extreme happiness, then anxiety, then calm and then elation again. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the whole journey from start to end – although arguably parenting NEVER ends – is an emotional rollercoaster and like the title of the book, long, winding, bumpy, dusty, pothole and scenic. In my quest to describe parenting I’ve come across the idea that it’s a bit like an obstacle course, and you need to have some gusto and tenacity as well as a calm and positive attitude to navigate this obstacle course. It can be rewarding and challenging, and the more you’re prepared for it the better. To those of you, who are my nearest and dearest, please forgive me for explaining parenting like an obstacle course, I love it, but there should at least be a hazard and danger sign for the uninitiated.
The reason I decided to write my ‘memoirs’ about parenting, is that we’ve had quite a journey, both good and bad. Being a first time mom I had no idea what to expect. I had also never held a baby in my life and had not been around babies, so the journey was even more of a discovery of me and the people around me. I’m hoping that you’ll find this funny, warming, entertaining and most of all enlightening. This is how it goes...
My journey starts in New Zealand, where my hubby and I, after 6 years of marriage, decide that perhaps now is the time to start adding to our little family unit. So being the eternal party animals we smoke and drink as much as we can in absolute fear that this is all going to end soon. No responsibility, selfishly just living our lives for each other, and having a really good time with it. We get back to London, geared and ready for action, when a strange little moment happens between hubby and me – that eye contact where both know each others thoughts. In unison we cry out together – ‘PUB – NOW’. So over a good couple of drinks we look at the pros and cons and examine ourselves as to whether we are really ready for this. I mean, I can’t even keep a plant alive, I don’t know how I’ll fare with a baby. I mean watering once a week is just too much for me!!! In the end we decide ok, we think we can do this, whilst nervously hanging onto our cigarettes and pints like they were our child. By the way, this methodical approach is very normal in our household. They don’t call my husband ‘Corporal’ for nothing! Everything, I mean everything, needs to be well thought out and planned, so why should parenting be any different. I mean we even work to spreadsheets for goodness sakes – yes, you read that correctly. I somehow suspect these control freaks of people might get a bit of a shock!!!!


Right, so the spreadsheet with the timing plan is drawn up and printed out, part 1 needs to be implemented. I need to get a permanent job with all the bells and whistles. I had been contracting for quite some time, and I needed to con them into making me a permanent employee –maternity leave, paid annual leave and sick leave, need I say anymore. As always everything is planned out and hubby and I sit over very many drinks and cigarettes, AGAIN, to plan our attack and wax lyrical about how wonderful I really am and a big international conglomerate could in no way do without me! Into the boss ladies office with a wonderful appraisal of myself and vast explanations of how valuable I am and the unbelievable contribution I make to the team. Not that I really think all of this stuff, but if I don’t say it nobody else will. Hey, it seems that the beer worked wonders for our brains as a neat little contract lands on my desk. I can’t sign quickly enough and harass them to get all in order. So part 1 complete – well done me! Already I can see that I’m so ready for parenthood – I mean look at the lengths I will go to, to protect my child! Hmmmm, I can see the ‘Mother Teresa’ of moms emerging. Nice happy thought!
In our well thought out plans, we have exactly 6 months to fall pregnant – if it happens before I will look like a complete lecher trying to squeeze everything out of my company. OK, well it is partly true, however I need to make it look good. More importantly, my mind needs a bit of adaptation time – this is a really big thing for me. I am the least maternal person you will ever meet, have never held a baby, run for the hills when I see one, and glaze over when my friends talk about having babies! Honestly, I’m really excited, just need some time getting used to the idea and picturing myself as a mother – mmmmm having some very big difficulties with this one, and have bad mental block (a bit like writers block). So 6 months I have and here we go with our well laid out plan.
Right, so we’re ready! The second part of the plan needs to be implemented. I need to give up my most favourite thing in the whole world (besides my husband) – smoking! I know, I know, I know it’s bad for me, but all I can see is that little white stick in front of me, torturing me day and night. I become ‘The Wicked Witch of South West London’ and am an absolute nightmare to anyone who dares cross my path. I dream of a cigarette in my mouth, I plan all sorts of devious things in order to get a cigarette in my mouth, and resent this whole pregnancy malarkey for taking away my crutch. Yes it is a crutch, I know that too, but I still crave it. Somehow, sometime, I actually get over this and in the greatest of shocks and horrors to myself, I have given up smoking. It’s not that bad, I am now a pure healthy goddess that is going to have a baby and can take on the world. Those people, who came across me in the last couple of weeks, visibly relax in my company again. The world is good according to me. Part 2 of the plan is now also complete. WOW, we really are cut out for this. It’s amazing. We’re screaming through the timing plan way ahead of schedule!


Next part of the plan... we need to actually start the physical act of trying for a baby. Again of course, I’ve read all the books, and really try not to make this too clinical, but somehow it becomes that! The husband is called upon to perform his duties, and the most dignified part of this whole thing is lying on the bed afterwards with my legs pointing to heaven, and literally just waiting! I mean, seriously, how dignified can you get?
I’ve now abstained from cigarettes and alcohol for a couple of weeks and nerves and excitement are running through my veins. Will it happen or won’t it happen? I feel like I have no control over this, and I always have to feel control in my life to manage. Again, a strange feeling crosses over me, like I think I might have to change a little bit. Hmmmm... not sure about this one. To add to the out of control feeling, I literally have no idea when my monthly cycle is due to start (never have, probably never will) – doctors ask and people ask me sometimes and I stare back at them with a very blank expression on my face as if to say ‘do people really know this stuff?’ Apparently they do. So I go through this up and down see-saw of not knowing when or what, but eventually I just relax and leave the rest up to the powers that be! For once, I’m not talking about myself here!!!!
One Friday afternoon I’m at work, feeling like a bloated pig, ankles swollen, stomach sticking out like a big blob, and get the feeling that something is just a bit different in my body. Off I go, only to discover that the monthly cycle has come. I can’t describe my disappointment – I didn’t think I would feel this way, but somehow I feel really cheated even though we are only in month 1.
That night we hit the town, and through my haze of disappointment, I pour every bit of alcohol down my throat that I can find, and become tearfully quite sloshed. Slurring to my husband how sad I am and behaving in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me. Needless to say I didn’t feel so hot the next morning...100 little men banging in my head and riding the waves in my tummy. Through this haze, I still have this unnerving feeling that something is different in my body, despite the bleeding and the enormous hangover, I can’t explain it I just feel different. Right, we should go and get a pregnancy test. Hey, he says ‘what happened to the 6 month thing?’ Oh...um, well I’m not really sure that we are even pregnant, but all of a sudden there is a real feeling of, this is all happening way too fast. Put the brakes on, I’m not sure I can do this.
So, in true hubby style, he goes off to the pharmacy, he buys not one but two pregnancy tests. Just in case. I remember the day as if it was yesterday, it was the 14th August, our wedding anniversary incidentally, and in a very undignified manner I kind of ‘peed on the stick’. Those 2 minutes that you have to wait are the longest 2 minutes of your life. We are both standing round like idiots, and not looking at the stick. 2 minutes passes and we literally stalk it... I mean if you think about it, the rest of our life is in the hands of this little stick. Well, what do we find, a positive! The only problem was, it that it was so faint that you couldn’t even see it – you needed a magnifying glass to see that little plus sign. So true to ourselves, we take the next test, same thing, but there is definitely a plus sign. A kind of quiet takes over both of us, and we are really unsure what to do next. The problem is that I’m still bleeding, however, I have a positive on the pregnancy test. We decide to sleep on it, and deal with it in the morning.
Wow, what a difference some sleep makes, and not to mention the fact that I don’t have the 100 little men pounding in my head and an ocean moving around in my stomach. I’ve made a decision; we need to consult a doctor so that we can find out what is going on. So our only option is to go to the nearest hospital and wait (really wait...) to see a doctor so they can give us some idea of phase 3 of the plan. So off we go, in trepidation, to discover our path.
At the hospital, we wait for 3 hours to see a doctor. Eventually a very pleasant gentleman does a blood test, checks the urine sample and checks the uterus. Yes, we are definitely pregnant! Well well, I’m going to need a little time to digest this information. However, as I’m still bleeding we have to have a scan urgently just to make sure that everything is ok. He books one for the next day, on Monday. Ok, so next challenge, what in the world am I going to say to my boss to get out of work. I’m really not a very good liar – I get all squeaky and high-pitched so don’t know how I’m going to deal with this. Phew – just remembered thank goodness for text messages!!! I think up some excuse and ping it over on Sunday so that she is well prepared for Monday morning. I don’t get any reply – I think I might be in trouble! The guilt lasts all of 2 minutes and I’ve already moved on to my next adventure in life!
Check out Chapter 2 of my story next week.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where has the time gone...

...boy I have not written a blog for some time. Not only did my computer literally blow up, but in our household we like to share our bugs. We've been plagued by colds, flu, chicken pox, ear infections and all sorts. And each of us in the family has been bitten. For my little one, I'm not sure which time of the year is worse, winter for his chest, or summer for his allergies! The poor little thing doesn't really get a break. But we all seem like we're back on the path to wellness again and I'm back. I also have a nice brand new shiny machine that I'm typing on now, and no-one is allowed to touch! Very cool indeed.
I've been focusing on time lately as I just never seem to have enough of it...who has so I've come up with my little time saving tactics to help make things in my household run a bit smoother!
1. Bulk cook - every second weekend I do bulk cooking for the family and freeze it. Little portions for Tristan and then portions for us. It works a treat and I know we're all eating healthily as well which is really important. I did this when I was weaning Tristan as well and got the little ice cube looking containers and just froze all the fresh food for easy meals.
2. Getting dressed in the mornings - Tristan is at an age where he seems to be very fussy about what he wears, so each night we lay out his clothes for the next day that he chooses, he then can't wait to get dressed in the mornings.
3. Each evening straight after Tristan has gone to bed I get his snack ready for school and put it in the fridge. Voila, the next morning its done!
4. I try run and unpack the dishwasher each evening, and not in the morning as we always seem to be in chaos in the mornings.
5. I'm a real fusspot about having vegetables at each meal - we all need to do it, so my one luxury I allow myself is buying pre-chopped vegetables (for the more difficult ones like butternut). So for the evening meal, I'll get out my frozen meal and add a couple of fresh veg on the side. Dinner done!

Those are my top 5 time saving tips, there are more but of course I've run out of time...ha ha. I would love to hear your time saving tips!

Until next time hope you have a great weekend.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Space ships, umbrellas and tents...

...slightly odd combination I know, but who would've thought my weekend would be filled mostly with these three objects! And these three objects would be the centre of our entertainment!!!

We had a sick lo this weekend, so being a very normal, active little boy, we have to try and keep him down a bit when ill. He's like the Eveready bunny - he just never stops going and apparently has got amazing batteries...I must find me some of those. So I got a bit creative and tried to keep him mostly more calm. But you really have to admire the amazing imaginations of these little creatures we call our children - I wish my brain was as 'uncluttered' and full of such fantastic ideas.

First we made an alien space ship - well this space ship took only 5 minutes and was so easy that in fact we made quite a couple. I have all sorts in my arts and craft box and around the house that convert to wonderful works of art:
- Glue two paper plates together
- Then glue a paper bowl on top of that
- Make an alien with a fuzzy ball and googly eyes
- Stick said alien onto the top of the bowl
- Then use an old see through plastic pot to put over the 'alien' to act as a window
Voila, alien space ship! It's so easy. Then decorate as you wish - fuzzy balls, silver paint, tin foil - anything you have really will make it into the work of art!

Next our massive golf umbrella became the play object and boy did we have fun. This lasted for some time and was amazing to just watch. Tristan opened it up and was twirling it around the garden and playing with the dogs, at some point he even created a little 'home' and him and the dogs were lying in the sunshine! You must know he's not well if he actually succumbs to a rest!!!!! His imagination just ran wild and he was in all sorts of adventures with the umbrella. Such a simple household item can become a treasured toy. Please, please though do be careful of umbrellas and little ones. I was like a hawk - there are lots of sharp bits that can hurt eyes and limbs, so please supervise accordingly.

Our other adventure was to set up base camp in his room. One of 'our' most prized gifts from granny was a kiddies tent. I just love this as does Tristan. We set up tent in the bedroom and he went and chose all his prized possessions to join us. The miracle of this was that he actually chose his pillow and blanket to join us and played quietly lying down when our adventure was drawing to a close! Each room in our house was a different country with different adventures in each and his room was our final resting place to eat, rest and regain our strength for the next adventure. We got ourselves a picnic and sat and had lunch in the great outdoors that was his bedroom looking at the mountains and the river!!!!

What a perfectly wonderful weekend - again!!!!

One of the great miracles of children is to live in their world for a while, and experience life as they see it. It really makes you realise how wonderful our world, our children and our families are. Life is really what you make it!!!! Enjoy them, they REALLY DO GROW UP TOO QUICKLY!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My budding photographer...

...as a parent we don't need many excuses to be proud! So this is my brag book for today. This last weekend (yes I know it's already some time ago....) we went to Butterfly World in Stellenbosch. Tristan has been bugging us to go, so finally off we went. I decided to give him a camera to take pictures of everything he saw...even if I say so myself, what a brilliant idea! He just loved it and I have to say I couldn't believe it when I saw the pics...you have to admit he does have a brilliant eye - ok, ok I might be a bit biased, I'm prepared to admit that! We have an old camera that we don't use anymore and so this is his camera - although there are still very strict rules around looking after it, and if he abuses it, we take it away. He's learnt really quickly how to look after it, and just absolutely loves taking pictures. The morning was a hit - we (hubby and I) were lead around and shown all the animals! It was awesome! Bless him, I am so proud!

Next time you go somewhere give them a camera, if they are of course old enough and it can be played with. Enjoy the pics and definitely Butterfly World is worth it - they've done quite a bit to it and extended it, fantastic.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What if you can't breastfeed? Are you a failure as a mother?

This is a subject that is particularly close to my heart. When I was pregnant I bought everything that was going to help me to breastfeed and had the mental attitude of 'do or die'. It was drummed into me from early on in my pregnancy that there simply is no alternative to breast feeding and you will do it. That was fine, but it did scare me a little bit. What if I can't? So off I packed myself to breastfeeding classes and read all the literature to try and help me. I was ready. Come birth day I was excited at the prospect of bonding with my child in this way. Tristan was born by C-section for a number of health reasons and in all honesty it was quite a traumatic experience from start to finish. I was in a teaching hospital in London and after the 6th time of trying to get the spinal block in, they finally called a senior attending medical person - who need I say got it in first time. I was in huge amounts of pain due to a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction so this whole debacle was like torture. I lay down and they started prepping me, with yelps coming from my corner, I can feel everything. No, rubbish they said - and carried on. Eventually I think it sunk in that I really could feel everything. So up I went again and on the 8th go I was finally ready. By this time, nearly 2 hours later, I was absolutely exhausted and quite literally not a very happy bunny!

Amid much pulling and a huge amount of blood loss (2 litres) Tristan finally came out. He was perfect! As they brought him to me, my blood pressure dropped so low that I started convulsing and kinda passed out. I never held my little one. Lots of doctors, all of a sudden, and lots of drugs later, and finally I came round! Then I really saw him! He was the most stunning little boy I'd ever seen, healthy, gorgeous and pink and just perfect! I got to hold him, albeit through a haze of goodness knows what! But he was there finally and all melted as I looked at this little thing that had been a part of me for so long.

I was taken through to High Care and I just lay with Tristan for so long. He really wasn't interested in feeding, but at least he was close to me and on my breast.

Eventually he started rooting, which was unbelievable to see - he's telling me he's hungry! I would put him to the breast and he would just not latch. I had so much milk flow, it was unbelievable. Eventually I got nipple shields to try and help the situation along. It was starting to get a bit desperate now...it had been 2 days since the birth and Tristan would just not latch. I was not calm and collected as everyone kept telling me to be. At one stage I had 4 nurses around me - one clutching at my breast, one holding Tristan's arms down, one holding his hands down and one pushing his head to my breast. That did not feel good! The more everyone told me to relax the more I couldn't relax, and the more Tristan must have felt it. He was by this time quite angry, and he was hungry. He was getting more angry as each hour went by.

My hubby was in a state - he just couldn't take seeing all of this. It was now 3 days and Tristan hadn't fed at all. My hubby asked the nurses when we made a decision to perhaps give him a bottle or what we do about the situation. The answer was plain and simply that we don't make the decision - we keep trying until I get it right.

That night my 'angel' came to me - that's what I call her anyway. She was the most gentle soul I have ever met. She just spoke to me calmly and spoke to Tristan calmly. She told me not to worry and just to lie with him and to stop 'trying' to breastfeed. So we just lay there and we bonded and I finally fell asleep like that as did Tristan. He didn't breastfeed but at least we weren't in a state. It was heavenly. Day 4 now and still no feeding. I was pumping until the cows came home and my breasts were so sore it was unbelievable. At this point Tristan's blood sugar was so low and he had lost nearly 20% of his original body weight. I was in a state! All I could think was 'I've failed as a mother, I can't even feed my child the way God intended!' and that's all that everyone was making me feel, like I was a failure.

Eventually a paed came to see us and said that something had to be done. I needed to keep trying to breastfeed and they would send a specialist breastfeeding nurse to come and help me. They were all flummoxed, why would he just not latch, especially with the nipple shields. The night of day 4 and my 'angel' came into see me and was horrified about what was happening. Tristan's blood glucose was dropping all the time. I felt like I couldn't make a decision about bottle feeding as that would seal the deal that I was a failure. Eventually the nurse took Tristan from me and asked me to sleep for a while. Fitfully I slept a little bit all the while fretting about my little boy. The next morning before the morning shift came on, my angel came and said to me that she thinks that it would be wise to at least give Tristan some of my milk from a bottle, just to try and give him some strength to try to breastfeed. I agreed and we fed him colostrum from the bottle. This little boy was so hungry that he absolutely gobbled like there was no tomorrow. He drank so quickly that he actually threw everything up - but he had some more and finally we had a slightly calmer baby.

I eventually decided that I'd had enough. At each feed I would offer him the breast, and would let him try and latch on both breasts, but if I was unsuccessful I would feed him my milk from a bottle. The peace descended immediately and let me tell you my child was a guzzler. After 5 weeks like this and expressing like mad, I eventually gave up. I was tired, impatient and had run out of ideas of how to get him to breastfeed. Make no mistake, I still feel that breastfeeding is without doubt the best thing for babies, but for me I just didn't know where to draw the line and make a decision. Tristan started to thrive and quickly put on all his weight again and then some more. He could not stop feeding and to this day still eats like a horse.

I found the whole experience rather traumatic and felt like I had no support from any medical professionals, and on top of it felt like I'd failed as a mother. But eventually we settled into family life and my little one was bottle fed. I started to get over the feeling of dissappointment and failure and just got on with being the best mom I knew how to be, without the breast.

Ultimately for me the story is about choice, and doing what eventually works for you. You are no worse a mom if you can't breastfeed, but please persevere as much as you can, without compromising yourself too much on the way. Breastfeeding is not always easy, and try and get the right professionals and personality to help you and show you calmly how to do it. I am not a failure as a mother due to the fact that I couldn't breastfeed and if you have problems like this or experience something similar, you are also not a failure. Try, try, try again and breast is best but in some rare instances it doesn't work and try not to beat yourself up about it too much. Enjoy being a mom, and if I have any advice about trying, it really is to try and relax and not put too much pressure on yourself. Ultimately I think our circumstances weren't ideal for breastfeeding and I think Tristan associated my breast with force, and didn't like that!

Happy breastfeeding moms!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Being a child again...the parents I mean!

This is one of the best parts of being a parent - you can behave like a child and not worry about what you look like!!!!! This weekend was seriously one of the best weekends I've had in ages and that's because I actually let my hair down and just had fun with my lo. It was a big help that we had no rain in Cape Town - woo hoo! In my household we have an eternal battle of the weather - some of us love the rain, and others of us love the sun. Give me sun anyday so that I can be outdoors and enjoy everything that Cape Town has to offer!
So on Saturday we were out and about and went to one of my favourite places in the Northern Suburbs - Stodels nursery. It's free, its fun and quite relaxing for the adults. They've got awesome jungle gyms, climbing frames, swings, jumping castles, animals to feed and sand art. And we sit and relax with a good cup of coffee while Tristan runs around and gets rid of some of that huge amount of energy - my life's mission to make sure that T is tired by the end of the day!!!!
After a stunning morning out with my family we headed home for lunch and then pottered around the house. I then proceeded to be creative, and myself and T got out all the gear to make puppets! OK, I have to admit to these being some of the strangest puppets I've ever seen, but we both still had fun. I used old socks, stuff I had in my art box and my 'still never used scrapbooking box!' I really thought I'd be a scrapbooker, but I just can't seem to get the motivation together to do it all - it just seems a bit longwinded! Oh well perhaps next year!
Sunday morning was an awesome lazy start and then as it was such a stunning day off we headed to a wine farm called Zevenwacht near Kuils River. The wine farm was driven by a desire to find some much needed wine on a Sunday, and also to get outside for a bit in a really nice place. I've never been to this wine farm, and trust me I've been to a lot, but it was really awesome I have to say. Gorgeous surroundings with a lake, braai areas, jungle gym and stunning gardens. We walked around for ages, and collected all the red autumn leaves, monkey apples and goodness knows what else we could find. I was finally relaxed due to the fact I had wine in hand (!!!!!!) so we just enjoyed. I will definitely be going back to this place in Summer - I've loaded a couple of pics so you can see what it looks like.

Then off home and lunch. A bit of a Sunday afternoon laze for the family and then Tristan and I decided to play. I LOVE music as does T so I thought what about a bit of mad dancing around the living room. A fantastic 80's disc was chosen by T and off we went! There was mom, child and dog dancing happening in our living room and boy we must have looked such a treat to our neighbours - in fact I had the music so loud that I closed all the windows and doors to avoid getting stopped. All the instruments were having their turn in the spotlight and so were we. You forget how great it feels to sometimes just let your hair down, do whatever you feel like and just have some serious fun!

My weekend was great and the best part of it all - it only cost me the price of a bottle of wine! We saw some of our stunning Cape Town and just enjoyed the rest! Here's to a good week and lots of fun moving forward!

Until next time!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Help...my child's the bully!

Perhaps bullying is too strong a word for what I'm trying to get across, but certainly the fear or worry that your child in nursery school could be running a rampant hive of terrorist activity against other children can send a cold fear and sense of dread through your bones! I've read so much about children being bullied or hurt but not all that much about if your own child is the one being avoided like the plague due to his or her antics. This article is about the glorious joy of hindsight!

I remember when my little one was about 18 months old in a nursery school in the UK, and almost every day he used to come home with massive bite marks on his back, sometimes 2 or 3 in the same day. That feeling that my child was being hurt invoked a sense of protection that I didn't know I even had in me - and to be honest with you, it consumed my every waking moment, thinking, worrying and wondering what I was going to do about it. In the UK biting is taken very seriously, and for lots of reasons the 'biter's' name is never given to the 'bitee's' parents - so in essence you know your child is being bitten, but you have no idea who the culprit is (unless of course your child tells you!) In a lot of ways I agree with this approach as the parents of that child aren't ousted or the child isn't treated any differently either. However, I was secure in the knowledge that the school were handling it. Now that I have a couple of years behind me, with glorious hindsight, I understand now that in fact I didn't need to do anything about it, plot my revenge or have wasted so much energy on it. In essence it happens. I'm not condoning by any stretch of the imagination that children should sustain injuries at school, or that there shouldn't be consequences for behaviour like this, however, I now realise that when children are at this kind of age, and older, it does happen and I think its how you deal with it that can make your life easier and teach your children something.

But now I would like to turn the tables a bit and think about the scenario where your child is the one that is doing a bit of moonlighting as a torturer. How does it affect you? Are you the parents that are frowned upon, your child that is not invited to the parties or that everyone avoids? I unfortunately have been in the situation recently where my little one has in fact been hurting a couple of children at school. That is not to say that he is always the instigator or that there is something wrong with him, but I've learnt a lot, and hopefully this can help a couple of people think about how to deal with it.

One thing to always remember is that children are impulsive by nature and can also get frustrated and don't know how to express themselves, so can lash out. Its about using the experiences as learnings to teach your children about life and how to deal with situations in the correct way. I mean most of us adults don't go around biting or smacking people as they've upset us!!! Well hopefully not anyway! I think it's also important to try and not blame the parents or the children in instances like this - there is often a reason for the behaviour. In my humble opinion it can often have a lot to do with TV, and unfortunately in our household that has been a lot to do with the problem most recently. Our family has been through a lot, with me being slightly incapacitated due to 4 back ops, my husband having to pick up all the slack and our little one has been watching too much TV and also probably not getting enough attention due to circumstances!

The following are my tips on handling this type of behaviour:
Try and understand the full situation.

Try not to blame yourself too much or to feel embarassed.

Listen to the teachers opinions about what is going on with your child.

If your child is old enough to talk, give them the opportunity to tell you in their words what happened, and listen.

Try and look at the situation objectively and be honest with yourself about what could be contributing to the situation at home. Try to not make assumptions either way that your child is not guilty or guilty as charged.

If they are guilty as charged, make sure that there are consequences for the behaviour.

Communication with the school and teachers is absolutely vital!

Try and give your child different scenarios of how to alternatively deal with the situation i.e. Ok, little Johnny kicked you, but what could you have done instead of hitting him back? Could you have told the teacher? Could you have shouted loud that he shouldn't have done that? Could you have walked away? Go through the different scenarious with them until you think they've found one that they feel comfortable with and keep reinforcing.

Be consistent. There is a great quote that says 'Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. ~Franklin P. Jones

If you think there is a problem, please seek professional advice. Listen to your instincts - a mom normally knows deep down what is going on!

And my last word - always try and put yourself in somebody else's shoes, try and understand, listen and most of all always let your children know that you love them, even if you don't like their behaviour. Often love and attention is the thing that is needed the most.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Losing my second self...

...and when I say second self, I mean the additional 'person' I seem to have gained around my tummy, legs, arms in fact all over my body. This 'person' came and attached itself to my body whilst I was busy scoffing pancakes in my pregnancy - but where did it come from, seriously? After I gave birth, I kinda got attached to my second self, and it was a bit of a comfort really to protect me from the world and my seriously sleep deprived body. Sure, it didn't make me want to socialise or take care of myself, or make me feel good in any way, it just hung around, and I carried on feeding this other person...isn't that what you're meant to do? But, it was still my comfort.
So, I carried on wearing preggie clothes - included was this really 'attractive' pair of tracksuit pants that made me look even larger than life than I really was! I had a little bundle of joy, was now a mom, so I didn't really have to worry about myself - right? My most important mission in life was to ensure that I tried to keep my son alive and healthy - up until this point I hadn't been able to keep a plant alive, so I really worried about my success in the child arena. Luckily I seemed to take better care of my little one than I did of my plants. So it was all ok. It just seemed somewhere along the way I forgot to take care of myself. And you might be shocked to know that it has taken me some time to realise that I need to take care of myself - I say whispering, in fact a couple of years! OK the secret,s out, I was by no stretch of the imagination a 'Yummy Mummy'.
I gave birth to my little one in the UK, and there is an organisation there called the National Childbirth Trust. It is very well known and essentially you have antenatal classes with moms to be in the same area, with similar interests and at a very similar stage of pregnancy. It's a really good system, and to be honest these ladies were my support system of note and we all became really close. However, my second self was well and truly comfortable in my body, and was there for the long haul at this stage. I remember looking at all these gorgeous women who looked like they'd stepped out of a celebrity magazine just weeks after their births and they were all slim. If you've ever carried extra weight, you might understand what I'm about to explain - everytime we would say hello and hug each other, I used to feel like this huge giant hugging elves. Let me make this clear, I wasn't huge, I was just a lot bigger than them!
But you must have guessed by now that I've clearly come to my senses and realised that it's time for me to claw my way back into the world and finally tell that other 'person' to stop hanging around me - it's not all that good for my image after all!
So after numerous attempts at loads of different 'diets' I pulled myself towards myself and decided to join Weigh-Less - it was time to start taking care of myself. It has taken me 12 weeks and a back operation in between, but I've lost 10kg - I'm really proud of myself. For the first time in years I feel like going out, I feel like socialising and I feel like I look good.
It's so easy to gain weight in a pregnancy, and it really is not easy to get it off afterwards. So my small bit of advice to you, is try and take care of yourself, everything in moderation and exercise. I also really believe that Weigh-Less is such a great way of life - it's easy, you don't have to eat differently to your family and it somehow just sticks! The recipes that I've learnt are great for my hubby and my little one and I've become a bit more creative in the kitchen. Always remember though that if you are starting a new exercise plan, eating plan or anything similar, especially in pregnancy, please make sure to always check with your doctor.
Here's to my new self - just the one of me!!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

What to do this weekend...Mothers Day weekend

Hi everyone,

Last week in my post I think I had lost the ability to count and said my top 10 places only listing 6!!! Hmmmmm, perhaps need to sit with my little one and learn to count again. I'm not sure what the weather is meant to be doing this weekend, but hopefully we see a little bit of sunshine. I've come up with a couple of things to do and also some rainy day suggestions for this weekend if we land up being kept indoors all weekend. Of course its Mothers Day, so moms enjoy your day and kids and dads, spoil the most special lady in your lives!!!!!! I always feel so bad saying I don't want anything, so decided to change my mind and ask for something this year - I've been reading books by Stieg Larsson, they are absolutely fantastic, and am now ready for the third book. I think I'll be allocating Dad this weekend to do all the work and I'll kick back with my new book...hmmmmm!

Ok so what to do this weekend...

1. Every Saturday there is a market at Willowbridge - the Slow Foodmarket, which is just wonderful. It's from 9am to 3pm - but beware money spending alert! Go with a full purse! In the centre there are wonderful places to have coffee and lunch as well.

2. Tomorrow is the Annual 'Mommy and Me Walk'. This is for such a good cause - the St Joseph's Home for chronically ill children. It's hosted by Heart 104.9 FM and Toys R Us and takes place at Canal Walk. Visit www.canalwalk.co.za for further information and support this great cause. Pre-registration is today, so get moving!

3. The Scratch Patch at V&A - search for gemstones. Great outing. Check out www.scratchpatch.co.za for further information. Also in Simonstown.

4. Childrens Theatre at Delvera Wine Farm - Stellenbosch. Every Sunday from 11am children get taken on a magical fairytale ride! This Sunday is Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Tickets for kiddies are R40. Loads for the whole family to do at the wine farm. As its Mothers Day please check availability 021 884 4352.

5. Go Karting - let the kids go wild either at Canal Walk or Grand West.

6. Ice Skating at Grand West with a beginners rink!

7. Ride the Blue Train at Mouille Point and if you're up for it play a game of Putt Putt.

8. If you want to go out for a bite to eat, then check out www.eatingoutwithkids.co.za which has reviews on places to go eat.

That about sums up my ideas for going out this weekend. I'll post my game ideas a bit later as well.

Have a great Mothers Day moms and have a fantastic weekend.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What to do this weekend...

So much to choose from in Cape Town this weekend. Here is my top 10 list for this weekend:

Creative Craft Day - Saturday 1st May, The Bandstand, Noordhoek Farm Village
Contact 021 789 2812 for details

Lots of crafts for little ones to indulge in while Moms and Dads you can either have a hot cuppa or have some retail therapy. Fully enclosed and safe. Morning session ends with a puppet show.

The Rainbow Puppet Theatre - Hansel and Gretel, The Constantia Waldorf School - Saturday 1st May
A classic fairy tale performed for your little ones at 10am and 11:15am

Imhoff Farm - check www.imhofffarm.co.za
One of my favourite places, just awesome for the kiddies. Bluewater Cafe is stunning but I really advise you book if you want to go for lunch otherwise you may be disappointed.

Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront
Always a firm favourite with the kids. My little one never tires of it. Great to also walk around the Waterfront after.

Dunes Restaurant, Hout Bay
Still an all time favourite with me. Awesome big playground, nice beach to walk on before or after...

Helderburg Nature Reserve
Stunning for picnics, walks, playing in the river, bird spotting. Peaceful and a great place for kids.

Those are my favourites for this weekend. Next week I'll send some more ideas for next weekend.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pleasure or pain? Going back to work after having your baby

I remember this day as if it were yesterday - the day I took Tristan to a nursery school for the first time and I went back to work. I had complete mixed emotions - a part of me was terrified, and there was another part that was excited. I mean I'd just about started to forget how to talk to adults - my poor husband was subjected only to nappy talk, milestone talk and updates on feeding. Who in the world was I anyway? So going back to work was gonna be good right? You would think.

After many agonising visits to different nursery schools I finally made my decision, but was still not sure - I mean surely nobody could take care of my child like I could? They had years of experience, me none bar being able to keep my child alive and he was flourishing. But that didn't matter. I was the only one who knew him well and knew how to take care of him. This whole process was made even more difficult as he was going through the separation anxiety stage - I'm not sure who has it worse, mom or child? Each time I would walked out the room there were wails of protest and of course wails of protest inside my head too. But the day came when it was time for me and my little one to be parted from each other. I could definitely handle this - I was a strong, confident career women who wasn't easily ruffled. So I put on my power suit, dressed Tristan in his Sunday best practically (clearly at this stage I didn't understand that Sunday best was not a good idea for school!) and we were off - sounds so easy, but the new morning ritual was torture. I couldn't understand how people did this on a daily basis and how was I going to do this? Showering, breakfast for both (hmmmmm - not so much!) and getting out on time. So off we went and I walked into the nursery school a confident woman taking everything in my stride. I handed Tristan over and the wails started - little chubby arms outstretched howling! The staff looked at me and I was falling apart - they said, it's best to go and he will be fine, will probably stop crying as you leave. OK, with big crocodile tears in my eyes, they're probably right. I said my final goodbye wanting with all my might to grab him and scream that no-one can look after him and he has to come home to me. Reality gripped and I realised that due to a small thing called household budgets that wasn't going to be possible. So off I went with the screams firmly etched on my brain - guilt like I've never felt in my life! I stood outside trying to compose myself and listened for the crying to stop - it never did!!!!! I had to get out of there, my child was being tortured!
I drove to work through a haze of tears and pain, mascara smeared down my face, the power suit all crumpled and the hair in a mess. What a great impression I was going to make - all those career hungry people who slighly detested moms who come back to work and get lots of 'special treatment' or so it was termed. And to top it all off I couldn't string a sentence together.
In I walked and as soon as someone so much as said hello to me, the tears just came and came and never stopped. In fact they never stopped the whole day. Excellent impression - well done me! I couldn't talk to anybody without getting choked up and bearing in mind I worked with a load of women who didn't have children, and certainly weren't even thinking about it. They must have thought I was a complete and utter loony - they had absolutely no idea what to say. That first day was a haze. I called the school every half an hour only to be told that Tristan was fine. In my head I was screaming 'they're lying to me, how can he be fine, he's just been separated from him mom for the first time', but I'd prove them wrong that he wasn't fine when I got there, and he just couldn't handle being away from me. Or so I thought!
So the tough career woman was where again? All I wanted to do the whole day was run away, but there was a small part of my brain (non baby brain) that started to work and tick and excite me. I wasn't allowed to enjoy this though - I should be with my child!
The end of the day came, and I charged out of that office like the devil was chasing me! I was off to fetch my boy. Of course the traffic was terrible, got caught up in rain, and I got there 5 minutes late - the shame of it!!!! I walked in to find a happy, laughing little boy thoroughly enjoying his new friends and all this attention and wow all these toys. I called his name and he cast a glance at me and just carried on playing. Didn't he know how to play this game? Seriously it's your long lost mother! Eventually I had to tear him away from the toys and drag him home. He really was happy to see me though - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
As I walked out of the school with a crying baby on my arm, I saw shattered glass and thought 'ah shame someone's car has been broken into' - well I should've saved that 'ah shame' for myself. It was a freezing London night, I had no window and no bag - which of course had everything in it. What a great first nursery school day I thought to myself. But then my knight in shining armour came to rescue me - of course that would be my hubby and took his content baby and wretched wife home! Oooohhh I thought, great excuse I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Phoned the boss, who thought I was a bit crazy anyway, she heard my voice, and said 'of course, see you when you're ready'. I can spend another day with my little boy I thought. My hubby was onto me though - I got totally caught out. The final outcome - Tristan still had to go to school and I would have to wait for the car to be sorted out. Excellent.
For a good couple of days I endured what I thought was absolute torture of hearing the screaming, and was convinced that there was something very sinister happening at that school and I was going to find out. That sound of Tristan's voice crying for me, I can still hear, but it does fade! I learnt that my gorgeous little boy was a complete actor, and settled down to be the happiest of any of the children literally 5 minutes after I left - just acting up for his lunatic mother!
Getting back to work however was a completely different thing altogether - I swear when I fell pregnant somebody deleted all my knowledge and my confidence. I was meek and mild and quite compliant - this certainly wasn't me. But eventually things started to settle down and I started making some sense in meetings through my sleep deprived state of mental health. Slowly, very slowly, I really started to enjoy work, and felt quite liberated by actually doing my own thing during the day and not being held ransom to bottles, nappies and nap times! It was great. But surely I wasn't allowed to enjoy work - I was meant to just yearn for my child and be with him permanently. Well not so for me - I was back at work, proud of myself and proud of my child. Tristan was as happy as larry, settled and quite the little charmer in a crowd - of course I took that to mean that he was going to be a really famous actor (ok perhaps taking it a bit far....) The independance really suited me and I realised that I'm just not cut out to be a stay at home mom - some people are, some people aren't. The balance of career and mom really worked for me.
I'm sure many of you have experienced this and ultimately you must do what suits you, and of course your budget! Our children are a lot tougher than we think sometimes, and we're a lot softer perhaps than we think!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life in the fast lane for our kids....

Sometimes I wonder if it's all just a bit much for our children. The reason I've decided to focus on this particular post, which is about teaching your children to deal with some pretty tough stuff that comes their way, is that I have learnt a lot over the last year and wanted to share it - trial and error got us there in the end. I am no expert, but I'm a mom that's been through a lot with my little boy, and hopefully this might help somebody out there.

I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that 2009 was not a good year for my family. My little boy (and of course my family) had to deal with a lot. As a mom I had a car accident, 4 back operations and lost both my parents within 4 weeks of each other. For Tristan this was even worse - he saw me in pain permanently, both physically and emotionally and lost his granny and grandpa. I didn't have a clue how to deal with it, so I did my best and did what I thought would work. Through each of the upsets that we faced, I kept talking to Tristan, and focusing on how he was, was he ok, did he understand what was happening? By constantly focusing on the issues actually had the opposite effect on him that I was hoping for - he would immediately respond with 'I'm fine' and then carry on with what he was doing, not wanting to open up. He completely withdrew from me, which was very abnormal, especially when I was in hospital. It was almost like he didn't want to come near me - he was scared. He saw and felt the pain and to him I was a 'different mom'. I did eventually however learn the right way to deal with this - for him. Each family is different and each child is different. In a way I didn't deal with the problems on the outside, however, on the inside I was very consciously dealing with it.

I decided to spend at least half an hour a day just 'being' with him. By this I mean, I would ask him to come and play with me on the bed and I would take his lead. Whatever he wanted to play I went along with and told him that this was our special time every day.
We continued like this for a week and eventually, quite amazingly, my little one just opened up to me. He would ask about my operation, what they did to me, why I had to go into hospital and most of all he used to tell me that he missed me when I was there. By being able to talk about it, we were able to deal with his fears. Slowly but surely he would also ask about his granparents, particularly his granny, whom he was very close to. Why is she no longer with us, why did she go to be with God, and if God really loved us why did he take her away. All these questions were difficult at the time to deal with, but I made sure I had an honest answer for each of these types of questions before the time.
We were able to heal together - it was so important for him and for me to be able to talk about it, and try to make sense of it. Once he opened up, he didn't stop and it all came tumbling out.
While we were going through this time, I also spoke to the teachers at his nursery school to try and encourage him to talk and get his thoughts and fears out in the open. This helped tremendously as they were aware of it, and the communication was great, which also enabled him another outlet.
It took a couple of weeks and he was back to his old self.
As we were over this, it was time to tell him about my 4th back op - as we'd opened the lines of communication, it was sooooooo much easier. He asked questions, I drew what the operation was all about on a piece of paper, which he loved! When I went into hospital he dealt with it like a champion I have to say, he even asked to see the wound, which he wouldn't go near previously.
I guess the most important thing I'm trying to say is that it is so important to be able to talk to your children, and also to help them to deal with life - the good, the bad and the ugly, but always to be there for them and to help them through it. Most importantly they need to know that you are right there besides them.
Life is not always easy, and we all need the tools to cope - especially our children, we can't protect them from everything, its how we deal with the upsets that are important.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm celebrating being a mom because...

...there are so many things to appreciate and so many things to perhaps pat ourselves on the back for. We sometimes forget why being a mom is so awesome.
I love being a mom because it is the greatest reward that life can offer you. I'm a person who loves being appreciated for what I do, and the whole mom thing was a bit of an adjustment initially. When I first had Tristan and spent a year at home with him (I was in the UK mind you!) many of my days felt like a thankless job, with no reward in return. I was sleep deprived, felt completely overwhelmed, felt like I had no idea what I was doing and wasn't in control. I suspect I was a bit of a control freak, but that was soon knocked out of me! No place for that in motherhood. I remember on some days thinking 'why did I do this again?' I think those were quite possibly the hardest days of my life.
But the reason I'm celebrating is because I made it through the sleepless nights, my child is still alive and so is my husband!!!! So I must have done something right, hey?
I'm celebrating because you know what I'm actually a better person for being through this.
I'm celebrating because I've learnt new skills that I didn't have before particularly patience.
I'm celebrating because I've learnt to appreciate the smaller things in life.
I'm celebrating because I get to be a child all over again - how cool is that?
I'm celebrating because I'm no longer selfish.
I'm celebrating because I have stretch marks and scars on my body that only bring good memories.
I'm celebrating because I get to experience a whole new angle on life.
I'm celebrating because I've never loved someone so unconditionally and I've experienced a whole different side to love.
I'm celebrating because there is somebody who thinks I'm beautiful even when I've just woken up in the morning, look quite frankly a bit scary, and tells me so.
I'm celebrating because I get to buy cool toys - that I actually quite like but never had an excuse to buy before.
I'm celebrating because quite frankly I'm doing things I never used to do before.

Basically all in all, I'm celebrating being a mom, just because!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's happened to kiddies birthday parties?

Do you remember musical chairs, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and all those silly games that we used to play? Perhaps I should keep quiet here as I'm giving my age away (oops forgot my age is on my profile anyway...oh ok then). I know that we live in a different world and we have to embrace it, but part of me asks can we in some respects of our lives just go back to basics, especially where our children are concerned? For me, birthdays are about enjoying the special day with your child, relaxing, laughing, chilling and yes of course, having a lot of fun. But somehow for me it seems like that doesn't really happen anymore. Perhaps it does, and it is just me, but it always seems that moms are so fraught with tension and ensuring that the birthday party runs smoothly and that everything is ok, we almost somehow forget what the day is all about. I'm not right or wrong as there is no right and wrong, as everybody celebrates in different ways, but in many ways kiddies parties seem complicated. I am on a mission to go back to basics and have some good old fashioned fun at parties - I am going to play games, I am going to make a fool out of myself, I'll probably even dress up, but hopefully the birthday boy feels special and appreciates the interaction - it's his day after all, not other kids, not their parents but it all belongs to him!

I took a stand this year that I wouldn't invite his whole class, as it gets really out of hand. The school gave me a list of his special friends and all of those kiddies were invited. Its hard to do it this way, as there have been so many parties that we've been invited to, and I'm not reciprocating but maybe just maybe we'll all think about who our child wants at their birthday party, not who we feel we should invite to their party.

Party Packs - what up with that? It seems to have become a norm that there are party packs on the day of the birthday at school and at the party - why? I'm not sure I quite get it, but again you know I could be missing something! Kids needs are actually so simple, its what we teach them that becomes the norm to them. For my little ones birthday, they will get a little novelty toy at the party and then on his actual day, there will be cake at school. Surely that's enough? I don't know, we'll have to wait and see!

These are just my thoughts and experiences regarding birthdays and I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, but as said its not to say that anybody is right or wrong, its just that I can't keep up with all of it and I hope to teach my child something along the way.

One of those precious moments...

...that you'll never forget. I fetched my little one from pre-school today and could tell by the shrieking, giggling and immense energy that he was game for fun today. That just makes my day - I get to partake in the show. The best is, when he's like that then I just know he's going to have this gorgeous little boy naughty streak - I love it! We ate dinner and went about our usual routine. It was time to bath so off he went to get undressed and I was giving the dogs water. All of a sudden a little imp came flashing past me with the widest of grins on his face - 'Mommy please can I give that to the dogs?' bearing in mind he had no clothes on! He loves feeding the dogs and soon realised that the water just wasn't good enough and that only pellets will do. So off he went and what I saw just made me smile to my core (which is wonderfully pleasant!). He was running around the car, with two dogs in hot pursuit behind him - of course he had the pellets - with him dropping pellets wherever he saw fit, so that they could chase him. Shrieks of laughter, giggling, lots of tail wagging and pure joy. It's one of those moments that makes you realise just how precious childhood is and that it's great for our children to be just that - children! Sometimes I think we forget the art of play, just pure play and let life pass us by forgetting or sometimes missing the joy in every day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Its so good to be here, but...

Another gorgeous day in Africa... hmmmm it's so good to be here, although there is one thing that amazes me! I've seen it loads of times, and perhaps I'm missing the point, but why are children not strapped into their car seats?

This is one thing, no matter what, that I will not budge on. I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to my child. In a country where our accident rates are so high, why would people even want to take a chance? I've seen it all; toddlers hanging out front windows, children climbing all over the seats with hands in front of parents eyes, the child and the dog hanging out the window together, just to name a few. Not only is it distracting for the driver, which in itself could cause an accident, but it is very dangerous. But still people continue to do it. Do we have enough awareness out there about the dangers? I think not, but that's open to debate I guess.

I've been unfortunate enough to have been in a car accident not that long ago, and let me tell you, it happened so quickly that I almost didn't even know it was happening. Fate so dealt me a wonderful hand, that quite by chance my little boy was in a car in front of me, however, just the thought was shock enough for me that he could've been in that car. These things happen, and they happen everyday. We all really need to be responsible, we are dealing with children's lives here.

The Easter weekend is coming up, and so many people are out on the roads, please, please, please, please, strap up the little ones, drive safely yourself, rest enough and take it easy.

Happy travelling!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just the beach

So, here I am my first ever blog. Oh well, lets just get on with it then. Today has been an awesome day in Cape Town and we took a slow drive through the Durbanville wine route to Big Bay. By the way, there are a lot of wine festivals on at the moment, which are mostly kiddie friendly, I'll keep you posted. But anyway, all was quiet,no wind but as we approach a friendly little blast appears just in time for our arrival. Get out the car, and let me tell you we DO NOT pack lightly for any occasion. When we are going away, we have to take everything, and everything I mean, for just incase. So a beach trip is like a military operation with me and my family (my hubby wasn't nick named Corporal for nothing you know!)So out come the chairs, the toys, the clothes, the towels and some food - just in case. Hubby is a bit of a pack mule, Tristan and I are just running along like 2 kids and not really bothered with the details. Everything is meticulously unpacked and put in its place, and bang, another gust of wind comes along to steal all the toys - so; much panic and running and shouting and chasing ensues. Toy retrieval operation successful. Only thing now, how do we keep everything? In all the military planning, we somehow forgot CT's famous unpredictable wind (although if we were really good we would've checked the beach report!) So back to the car with all the paraphernalia, all in the boot, nothing but ourselves, and the best walk on the beach ever.

Lesson no. 1 - keep it simple, just enjoy the outdoors and be a bit carefree and crazy (like going to the beach with only the stuff you need - crazy indeed!).

Until tomorrow...