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Life with a Second Child

Six and half months ago we were celebrating our first Christmas as a foursome. How different it was from our previous festivities. Baby Jules was only a couple of days old, and I was utterly exhausted and in terrible pain. Trying to make the day magical and special for young Jasper was difficult, and I felt stretched beyond anything I had felt before.

I have previously written about the steep learning curve I’ve experienced in my parenting since Jules’s arrival (read more here). I am continuing to learn, and there are many things I now know to be true. Once a trio, ‘the three musketeers’, our family unit was a triangle – each of us a point with the ability to reach out and always touch the other two points. Now we are sides of a square and, in our foursome, stretched to the edges. But we do feel like a team, a puzzle with it’s missing piece found, and I love that about our little unit.

These are my 12 facts of life since we have welcomed a second child to our family. Over time, as the kids get older, I am sure many of these feelings and emotions will have changed. But for now, with a six month old and a four year old, we are still finding our way. These are how things currently stand – the good, the bad and the ugly:


1. 
Exhaustion
Nothing in life prepares you for the exhaustion of parenthood. It is relentless. You never get a vacay from the tiredness you experience while raising small people. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a support system nearby, and have some time away from your kids, the tiredness is so deep that it would take years of hibernation to undo the damage. With a second child in the family, my exhaustion has more than doubled. Weird maths, but true.


2. Time 

Much like the speed at which the pregnancy of our second child passed, time has flashed by like lightening since her arrival. It was only yesterday that Jules was born. Now she is sitting and feeding on solids. Where did the last six months just go? How do we slow down time? There never seem to be enough hours in the day because life is now running on overdrive.


3. Money
Or lack there of… raising a child costs a lot of money. Raising a second child costs even more money. Factor in nursery fees, after-school clubs, groceries, household bills, insurance, transport costs, children’s clothing and there is not much left at the end of each month. We never take for granted that we have a lot more than millions of people around the world. We have jobs and a new home. We have love and we have each other. These are our treasures.


4. Social Life
Like many of my friends before me, since having kids my social engagements have declined. Items 1, 2 and 3 above are mostly to blame for this, but I have also found that many of my urban friends have moved further afield to accommodate their families. The arrival of the second child seems to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – sadly, I have lost touch with some friends since the expansion of our families. Like so many parents, for now, we get our social kicks through the birthday parties, parent evenings and club gatherings of our children. Whoop! Whoop! 


5. Housework

We have always tried to keep a clean and tidy home, but small people create A LOT of mess. Since having a second child, I am now embracing the chaos. I have to appreciate that the whole house will never be clean all at the same time, and can only dream of a cleaning service coming in to do the job for us. Some days the bathroom might get cleaned, but the bedrooms may not have been dusted for a while. The laundry pile never seems to end and often it can take a couple of days just to wash, dry, fold and put a load of laundry away. It is a never ending cycle. Fact.


6. Preparation
If you plan on leaving the house, with small children, before midday then you have to plan ahead and be prepared. Sadly, impromptu trips out for the whole family are on the decline because it takes us so long to get everyone ready and out the house. However, if we are prepared then we can pack change bags and snacks the night before, lay clothes out for the morning and hurry our breakfast to enjoy a day out together. With the start of Jasper’s schooling fast approaching, this is something we’re going to have to practice to ensure we make the school run on time!


7. Older Child
With a new baby in the family, it is only natural to expect their sibling to be a bit more mature and responsible. This seems unfair as the older child may still be little and need the same love and attention as before. I have, however, found that Jasper has relished being a ‘big brother’ and will happily be my helper. He beams with pride at his little sister, and loves it when we tell him stories about what he used to do when he was a baby. Jasper does have moments when the immaturity of his age shows through and, with two children, that is when the days feel longer and more exhausting.


8. TV
I hate to admit it, but the TV has become our friend these past few months. We laugh now when we think how strict we were with allowing Jasper to watch a little bit of TV only once he had turned a year old. We are still tight on how much screen time he can have, but the reality is that we have a new addition and she is mesmerised when the TV goes on for her brother. So, sometimes we let Jules watch TV too and this is usually a very productive bit of time for me to cook a meal or have a tidy up.  I am not ashamed to admit this and I am pretty sure the little bit of TV she watches is not stunting the development of her infant brain.


9.
 Multitasking
 I will admit that I have always been a pretty good at doing several things at the same time. My job involves coordination of a lot of different projects and activities simultaneously. However, since becoming a mum of two, and currently on maternity leave, I have become the Swiss Army Knife of multitaskers. There is nothing like having two children demanding different things at the same time to exercise this new super power!


10. Preloved
Although I am the oldest of two children, I am no stranger to hand-me-down items as I used to get a lot of great stuff passed down from my older cousins. Often people sympathise for the second child because they don’t get as spoiled as the first child did. However this is my case for embracing preloved items and why we shouldn’t always feel sorry for the second child:
(a) Jules was born in the opposite season to Jasper so we dressed her in what saved newborn clothes we could, but since those first few weeks she has pretty much had her own wardrobe of new clothes to suit the weather and her gender.
(b) We have saved lots of money by keeping most of Jasper’s baby toys. We recently unwrapped a box of six-month+ toys which we had stashed away after Jasper had outgrown them. I tell you, it was like Christmas morning {in July} in our house – both kids were so excited and Jasper has spent more time playing with the forgotten baby toys than he has with his recent birthday toys!


11. Version 2.0
Becoming a mum for the second time has made me an improved version of myself. I find that I am more confident in my parenting skills and decisions. I am a little more streetwise – I often venture out with the baby WITHOUT her change bag as I now know that babies don’t poop their nappies all the time, nor do they need constant feeding once they have settled into a routine. I have become more fierce (as in Beyoncé fierce). I am no longer a ‘yes’ person. I voice my opinions more often. I am more emotional yet feel more grounded. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect my children. I admit that sometimes I am a sh*t mother, but mostly I am a devoted mother and doing the best I can with what I have.


12. Love
When I was pregnant with Jules I was so worried that I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, love this second child as much as I loved Jasper. My son holds a great, big chunk of my heart and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have much more to give away to another child. But from the moment Jules was born I fell so in love with my girl child. The greatest thing about becoming a mama again is that the heart expands so that all your babies receive great and equal love. This is magical and mysterious, but truly amazing to experience. I am also witness to the adoring love between Jasper and Jules. As young siblings they have a bond that is already as strong as chains. It confirms that our decision to expand our family was right for us. We wanted to give Jasper a sibling, a friend for life, a partner in crime. We wanted to become a foursome. Life is exhausting, at times really tough, but with this love it is good.

Now You are Four

Dear Jasper

Today is your birthday – now you are four. Ever since your best friend turned four, last November, you have been desperate to reach this milestone too. Now you can celebrate and rejoice at being this special age.

It feels like a big jump – from three to four years of age – bigger than your previous birthdays. You have experienced so much change in the last twelve months. This time last year we told you that you were going to become a big brother, and following that you have had to deal with the arrival of your little sister, moving home and preparing to start primary school.

Perhaps it is because Mama and Daddy have been so busy with all of these things (and more) that we have blinked and suddenly our chatty, baby-faced, innocent little toddler has morphed into the tall, lean, lovely boy you are today. You are still as talkative as ever, but now you discuss more serious things like monsters, superheroes, blood, bones and even death. You continue to have the energy of the Duracell Bunny and perpetually exhaust us with your bounciness. Your love for books is ever strong, but now you are so interested in how to spell and sound out words that I know it won’t be long before you learn to read. You have also developed a love of tools and an inquisitive mind about how things work or can be fixed – I am convinced that you may follow the path of your maternal grandfather and great-grandfather and might be an engineer one day.

Your social skills amaze me – you are much more bold and outgoing than Mama and Daddy.  You engage with everyone you meet and have a large circle of friends at preschool. You are a genuinely kind soul – you always champion little people, and have often been praised at nursery/preschool for being so caring and friendly to the younger children and your peers. Because of this quality, your baby sister instantly fell in love with you and always beams a big smile when she sees you or can hear your voice. You are strong, handsome and your eyes melt hearts – pools of denim blue I could stare into forever.

We may not have spent much time together (just me and you) this past year – wedged by the demands of your infant sister – and for that I am sorry, my darling. Even when I feel so exhausted from your endless energy, or your constant chatter is driving me insane, you will always be my precious boy and I will support, love and encourage you in everything you want to achieve in life. In turn, I know that you will be my fearless protector and loyal son for all my life.

You are the gift that made me a mother and that is why I celebrate your birthday each year with much pride and happiness. I cannot believe that just four years ago you came into our lives – sometimes it is hard to remember what life was like without you.  Always stay as lovely as you are today, no matter how many candles may be on your cake.

Love you always, Mama x

 

 

June Retrospect

June. Strawberries and sunshine mean June. Early summer in the UK is so special – the days are luxuriously long, the gardens are full of fragrant roses, plus music, sport and other outdoor festivals are in full swing. Provided the weather stays fine, there really is nothing to beat this time of the year. June 2017 you have been beautiful and kept us busy:

  • We started the month still on our holiday in South Africa (read more here). We ended our trip with a visit to the iSimangoliso Wetland Park on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is home to several diverse and interconnected ecosystems including an estuary, lakes, wetlands, dunes, and beaches. There we stayed with my cousin, who works for the local conservation and research team in the town of St Lucia. From this base we enjoyed a day trip to the spectacular Cape Vidal beach and game viewing en route. We were lucky enough to see rhino, buffalo, crocodile, warthog and a variety of antelope. We also enjoyed a scenic cruise on Lake St Lucia and were treated to sightings of many hippos and their babies basking in the autumn sun.

13a. June Retrospect

  • Once back home, we continued with renovations to our house – not as much as we would have liked, but we’re slowly chipping away at what needs to be done and hope to get much more sorted out over the summer.
  • We started the induction process for Jasper starting primary school in September, including a home visit from his new teachers and a parents’ evening at the school.
  • On the hottest weekend of the year so far we celebrated Father’s Day with a visit to Kent Life Heritage Farm Park. We fed the farm animals, watched ferret races, went on a tractor ride, walked around the historic village and enjoyed a picnic among other things.

13b. June Retrospect

  • Jules celebrated her half-birthday this month. We have started weaning her and she is doing really well with trying vegetable purées and soft finger foods.
  • At the end of the month I celebrated my birthday and we enjoyed another family day out. We revisited the Epping Ongar Railway for a ride on a vintage steam train through the Essex countryside.

You can follow Cuteness & Chaos on Instagram and Facebook. Get in touch and let me know what you have enjoyed this June.

Summer Sun: a Poem for Solstice

Today is the Northern Hemisphere Summer Solstice. I am celebrating the longest day of the year with this beautiful poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). The long summer days here are still such a novelty for me – I grew up in South Africa and the difference there between summer and winter daylight is not that much. The African sunsets are breathtaking, but sink so quickly. Here in the UK, the sun shines bright into the night and dusk is a slow burn before twilight.


Summer Sun
, Robert Louis Stevenson

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven without repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad,
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles,
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.


Photo:
I took this photo of the oast house at Kent Life Heritage Farm Park last weekend. An oast house is a building traditionally used for drying hops as part of the brewing process. They are such a striking feature of the Kent landscape and heritage.

 

Happy Father’s Day: With Love from a Preschooler

In celebration of Father’s Day this year, I ‘interviewed’ Jasper (age three – very nearly four) with 20 questions for him to answer about his daddy – brilliant father and my partner in crime, Neil. These two have such a beautiful relationship and I just know that they are going to be best friends for life.

1. What is your daddy’s name?
J: Neil.

2. How old is Daddy?
J: He’s big, but I just don’t know how old.

3. What does your daddy look like?
J: He has a head, a body, a belly button and a winky wonky [bursts into hysterical laughter].

4. What is Daddy’s favourite food?
He loves apples, cheese and cake.

5. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to drink?
J: Beer…. and tea.

6. What does Daddy do in his job?
J: He has his lunch there and works on a computer. Daddy does nothing else at his work, he only eats his lunch and works on his computer.

7. What is Daddy’s favourite colour?
J: He likes green, but my favourite colour is yellow.

8. Does Daddy have a favourite flower?
J: Yes, he loves sunflowers. Sunflowers are yellow.

9. What sorts of things does your daddy like to do?
J: He likes going to the recycling centre and eating food.

10. What does Daddy do when he’s happy?
J: I just don’t know [shrugs his shoulders and sighs].

11. What does Daddy do when he’s angry?
J: He talks like angry talks.

12. Does Daddy like to go shopping?
J: Yes.

13. OK, so what does he like to buy when he goes shopping?
J: He loves buying pizza… and pears.

14. What is your favourite thing about Daddy?
J: His cuddles and playing with my toys together… and because we go to the playground together.

15. What is your least favourite thing about Daddy?
J: When he tickles me too much.

16. Who is Daddy’s best friend?
J: Me – Jasper.

17. What do you think Daddy would like to be when he grows up?
J: When he is 100 years old then maybe he would like to be a giant.

18. Jasper, would you like to be a daddy one day?
J: Yes. I would like 10 children of my own because I love children.

19. Who is the best daddy in the world?
J: My daddy.

20. Ok, so why is he the best daddy?
J: He just is, and because I love him so much

 

May Retrospect

A little later than planned, but here is my second monthly bulletin for the Cuteness & Chaos blog.

May. Unpredictable, floral-filled May. This year, however, we have spent the month of May in South Africa. There it was autumn – the days were short, but sunny and warm. At night it was chilly and the first fires of the season were lit. We spent the initial weekend in Johannesburg, then travelled down to my family home in KwaZulu-Natal. May 2017, thank you for family-time and all these special holiday memories:

  • While in Johannesburg I was able to have a reunion with my two oldest friends – we met on our first day of primary school 30 years ago. Despite living on opposite ends of the world from each other, and the pressures of life as working mothers, we have kept in touch after three decades. It was also really special for our five children to hang out together at the picturesque Irene Dairy Farm.

may blog 1

  • In sunny Durban we enjoyed a return visit to uShaka Marine World. It is always one of our favourite places to visit when in KwaZulu-Natal. Aside from the water park and dolphin shows, the aquarium has an important role in research and conservation of Indian Ocean marine life (I plan to post soon with more information and photos from our visit to the aquarium and nearby beach).
  • Little Jules mastered the ability to sit by herself shortly before she turned five months old in May.

may blog 2

  • Neil and I belatedly celebrated our wedding anniversary with indulgent treatments and a little R&R at the fabulous Fordoun Spa. This is where we celebrated our mini-moon, after our wedding six years ago, so it has a special place in our hearts.
  • A family day out to Kamberg in the majestic Drakensberg mountains. In my childhood, we often used to picnic here and splash in the ice cold river. It was fab to breathe in the fresh mountain air and soak up the autumn sunshine.

may blog 3

  • At the end of the month we took Jasper to the Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg. This was another blast from my childhood past as I haven’t been to the ‘Royal Show’ in so many years. Jasper had lots of much fun seeing the livestock competitions, enjoying the fairground rides and most of all climbing on dozens of tractors, diggers and other farming vehicles.

It was more difficult to blog here while I was away, but it did give me a chance to focus on recording memories more frequently through Instagram. You can follow the blog on Facebook too, so get in touch and let me know what you were up to this May.

 

Moving House with Small Children? 10 Survival Tips…

Moving house is stressful and exhausting. It’s unfortunate then that a lot of families find themselves in this position during pregnancy or with the arrival of a new baby. When we found out I was pregnant with Jules, we put our two-bedroom house on the market and started the search for a bigger home as we knew we needed more space in which to raise our family. We finally moved (read more here) and these are my 10 top tips for surviving this hectic time when you have small children:

1. Hire a removal company
Unless you have very few possessions, get a removal company to do the moving for you. Get at least three quotes from different removal companies – this should involve someone coming around to your house to meet with you and discuss your moving needs. You may find that you will receive very different quotes, so choose a removal company that can work to your budget AND which you feel most comfortable with. In the UK, choose a company that is BAR registered (British Association of Removers). The company we settled on were brilliant. For me it came down to gut instinct when deciding on them. They were very caring and helpful with advance packing while I was pregnant, and then where super considerate and just brilliant on moving day.

2.  Tell your children about the move at an appropriate time
We find that it’s best not to tell Jasper (age three) about upcoming events too far in advance, and I imagine this is the same for many other small children. We slowly starting packing non-essential items, but once we had exchanged contracts we had to finish packing up the house in nine days. It was at this point we told Jasper that we would be moving house. For us, this was perfect timing as it gave Jasper enough time to process his thoughts and emotions before saying goodbye to his first home.  He was then not concerned by the boxes piling up in the house, and happy to get involved in the packing too. You will know your own children best when it comes to telling them about the house move. If we had told Jasper months in advance he would have become disheartened by the long wait until moving day. This timescale may, however, need to be adjusted if you will be moving to a new area and your children changing schools. 

3.  Keep the new house neutral
 I’m not talking about decorating themes! What I mean is its best not to show your young children photos of the new house because they will include other people’s belongings in the rooms. However, you could build excitement and anticipation for their new home by driving your children pass the house to see the outside and the local area. You could also plan their new route to nursery/school from the new house, and visit local shops, parks and libraries if you are moving to a completely new location. 

4.  Moving is a good thing
You may find your children are having difficulty processing the thought of moving house. Talk about the move in a positive way, and promote the good in all the changes you will be experiencing in your family life. Start with simple things like sharing ideas of how your children would like their new room(s) decorated, and build up into conversations about bigger changes like different schools and new friends. 

5.  Packing takes time
Don’t underestimate how long it will take to pack up your house. Try give yourself two weeks of as much free time as possible to get the packing done without last-minute stress. If you can, arrange for some child-free days so that you’re not constantly interrupted while packing. Alternatively, if your budget will allow and you’re short on time, have your removal company do the bulk of the packing for you. 

6.  Let your children take responsibility for their own possessions
Aside from some child-free time to get the bulk of your house packed up, involve your children in sorting and packing their own toys and books. This is also a good excuse to declutter and weed out toys that may no longer be age-appropriate or played with. 

7.  Essential packing
The first couple of days in your new house will feel weird. Your possessions will be in boxes scattered in strange new rooms, and you will feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. To maintain some sanity, ensure you pack a small bag for every family member before moving day. Keep these bags in your car so they don’t get muddled up with the boxes and furniture which will be transported by the removal company. In each bag pack a few changes of clothes, pajamas, bedding, a towel and essential toiletries. For children, pack a few of their favourite toys and books too. 

8.  Moving day
The big day will be exhausting, emotional and stressful. The house (old and new) will not be an appropriate environment for small children. Ensure you have childcare away from the house lined up for the full day. 

9.  Priority unpacking
As soon as you are in your new house make it a priority to get your children’s room(s) comfortable before they get home. Make up their beds and lay out their favourite toys and books from the emergency bags (see item 7). Consider leaving them a gift from the new house – something simple like a colouring book and pencils, or a new picture book for their first bedtime story in the new house. Keep to your usual evening routine and get your children to bed as normal. This will help with the settling-in process and your children should feel comfortable with their first night in the new house. 

10. Settling in
Unpacking your boxes will take a while, but try not get bogged down by this. Soon after the move, take time out as a family to explore your new local area and have some fun after all the stress of moving home. 

I hope these tips will be helpful if you are moving house soon. Get in touch and let me know if you found them useful.

April Retrospect

Looking back over the past month is my new exercise for the Cuteness & Chaos blog. In the craziness of motherhood, this will give me an opportunity to record what my family has enjoyed, achieved and celebrated before time whizzes by and we forget.

April. Beautiful, blossom-scented April. You are usually a special month for us (read more here), but this year you have outdone yourself. April 2017, you have exhausted, delighted and indulged us:

  • At the start of April we exchanged contracts on the new house and ten days later had moved in (read more here).
  • In all the frenzy of packing Neil and I remembered our sixth wedding anniversary. We hope to celebrate it properly at some point soon!
  • Our first week in the new house was capped by the long Easter weekend. The Easter Bunny paid us a visit and so we scoffed chocolate eggs for breakfast. To escape unpacking boxes for a day, we enjoyed a sunny family outing to the Tallships Festival at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
  • On 18 April we waited nervously, like mummies and daddies all over the country, for the primary school admissions results. Jasper was offered a place at our first choice school, which we have accepted with great relief and delight. This experience was a bittersweet realisation that he is growing so fast (read more here) and soon will be saying goodbye to his little group of friends as he ‘graduates’ from preschool.
  • Jules (now four months old) and I enjoyed our weekly Baby Sensory sessions – full of music, lights, bubbles and textures. She is generally a happy, chatty baby and is so good when she’s out and about in the car, pram, baby carrier or a shopping trolley.
  • We have been settling into our new home. Slowly unpacking, rearranging furniture and cupboards, making notes of what repairs need to be done, flicking through interiors magazines for redecoration inspiration. At the moment it still feels like we are living in someone else’s house, but as we pull out favourite toys, books and photos from the boxes we are gradually spreading our family love (and mess) through the rooms.

It really has been a busy and memorable month for us. And, of course, April has been the month I ‘officially’ launched this blog!. How has your April been? Please get in touch, leave a comment or follow Cuteness & Chaos on Instagram and Facebook. I would love to know what has been the highlight of your month.

Untitled design

Today it Begins

Dear Jasper

Today is the day we find out which primary school you will attend.

For Mama and Daddy it has been a long wait for today. We started viewing potential schools last September. You may remember that we took you along to see some ‘big boy schools’, but most we visited while you were at preschool or tucked up in bed at night.

Each school gave us a different welcome and taste of the education it might offer you. We filed into schools halls and poked our heads around classroom doors, while the children whispered and grinned at all the mummies and daddies looking at them like goldfish in a bowl.

For many parents this was the first time they had been in a primary school since their own childhood, and the familiar sounds, sights and smells made memories of their school days come whooshing back to them. They remembered the class clown or their favourite teacher. They remembered the excitement of school trips and dress-up days. They remembered how scary school could be and the worry that no one would be their friend.

But my darling Jasper, I am sure you will be offered a place at a school which will provide both sanctuary and freedom for you to grow and be the person you want to be. I know you will flourish, learn well and make wonderful friends – some of which you may even keep for your whole life.

Today it begins. We can start planning for your first day of school. You are growing too fast for my liking – I sometimes wish I could keep you small and innocent forever – but I am so proud of you. Make the most of your schooling, enjoy it and strive for whatever your heart desires.

Love you always, Mama x

Goodbye House: Sentiments for our Home

Today is moving day. It has been been eight months since we put our house on the market and it has been a rough ride to get to this point. We’ve swapped estate agents, accepted offers, had buyers pull out, and have had complications up and down the chain. In short, it has not been a pleasant experience. I understand now why house selling/buying is considered to be one of the most stressful life experiences, after losing a child or going through a divorce.

To top it off, then came the short turnaround time to get our belongings packed up – we have had only nine days since the exchange of contracts. Before Jules was born I packed up non-essential items, which have been held in storage since December. However, the bulk of packing has happened this last week around our work and childcare. Read here for my top tips on moving house with small children. 

In all the frenzy of packing I have tried not to let the emotions of changing our home get to me. After all, we are moving into a lovely, larger house which will hopefully be our nest for many years to come. We aren’t changing area, so a lot of things around us will still be familiar. But on Friday, when I took the last photos off the wall, the sight of the empty picture hooks made me well up with sadness to be saying goodbye to our house.

This has been my and Neil’s home for the past 10 years. For me, it was my first house after several years of renting and sharing apartments in London.  Before that I had lived at home with my parents in South Africa. This house has helped us make so many wonderful memories. We’ve enjoyed decorating and landscaping, chilling out at home on weekends, or hosting braais (South African term for barbecue) and parties.

I am most sad to to say goodbye because this is the place we first brought both our babies home to. These walls have witnessed our fumbles and joy of new parenthood, and the chaos of welcoming our second child to an already busy household. It was in this house that Jasper said his first word, took his first step and climbed his first flight of stairs. As he helped me scrape the vinyl stickers off his bedroom wall this past week, it saddened me to think that he might not remember very much about this house as he grows older. Jules, being only three months old, won’t remember anything about it at all.

As I type this, surrounded by a mountain of boxes containing our belongings, I am saying my farewell to our house. Goodbye house, goodbye old friend. There may be times when I’ll drive past just to see you are still there. I’ll know that our precious memories are embedded in your walls, just like all the memories of families who have lived in you before. We will miss you and all your quirks – the squeaky floorboard on the upstairs landing, the funny upside-down light switches and the secret gap behind the kitchen cupboard (where Georgia cat used to hide when she was a kitten). We are moving now old friend, to make a new home to raise our family and to fill with more beautiful memories. We will miss you, goodbye dear friend.

 

 

Us Two: Celebrating our Marriage

Today is our wedding anniversary – I can’t believe Neil and I had our beautiful wedding in South Africa six years ago. I remember is rained and rained in the days leading up to the wedding, and we were so worried because we had planned for the ceremony to be outdoors. On the morning of our wedding the sun shone brightly and the weather was perfect for the rest of the day.

This is an extract from the poem Us Two by A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh. We featured the whole poem in our wedding day Order of Service. Yes, it is a poem about Pooh Bear and his best friend Piglet, but I think it perfectly describes the way you feel when you find that special someone to get through both the scary moments and the fun times of life with.

Photo: Our first dance, taken by the talented Sean Kelland.

1 + 1 = >2

Parenting involves a special formula of pure love and gut instinct. When you become a parent for the first time, this is what gets you through the sleepless nights, feeding schedules and endless nappy changes. Your instinct kicks in and you learn the nuances of your baby’s cries. Your devotion to your child is what pulls you through the exhaustion. This formula matures as your baby grows into a toddler and then a preschooler. You start thinking to yourself I am totally rockin’ this whole parenting thing, and then you have another baby…

When I was pregnant with my second child (Jules) I was cautioned by friends and colleagues that ‘one child is one, but two children is many’. Chuckling in response while gently rubbing my blossoming bump, inside I was thinking Oh sh*t. And it’s true – one plus one does not equal two, it equates to a whole circus.

Jules is now three months old and I’ve experienced a steep learning curve in my parenting. My special mama formula has taken on a great, big dollop of what is scientifically known as ‘winging it’. That parental devotion is now split between two gorgeous children with their own individual needs. With the highs also come parenting fails which I acknowledge with a laugh and attempt to learn from as I juggle fire sticks while balancing on a unicycle.

All family units are unique – what works for one may be out of the question for another family. I salute parents of one or many kids. But seriously, I raise my ringmaster’s top hat to those with more than two children!