School matters

Last week was a big week on the school front for you. We spent the early part of it in White River where we got to see our new home again, meet some of the other teachers and their kids and spend some more time exploring our new town to be. Most importantly though, and the key reason for our trip, was that you attended orientation where your got to explore your new school and meet your new teacher and some of the kids.

For you though the highlight of the trip was your school uniform. Your first one ever. To get you into the spirit of things I took you to the Monkey Apple shop to buy it on the Tuesday morning ahead of orientation the next day. Well it was love at first wear. I shouldn’t have bothered to pack you any other clothes as you didn’t take it off for the next two days. This did cause some confusion at orientation.

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You in your first school uniform

After spending the Wednesday morning at Uplands Prep it was a mad dash to Johannesburg for your graduation from Grade 00 that evening.

What a wonderful evening it was. Bittersweet as you have had an incredible two years at Bryanston Pre-Primary.

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You, Kieran and Axel in your graduation hats

So it was with a few tears that we watched you all take the stage and perform for the final time.

You got your certificate and a special award for, and I quote “For his bubbly personality and all the charm he brings into the classroom. Also for his great general knowledge.”

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So my monkey a big day for you and although there were a few tears shed and some moments of frustration I was so very proud of you for getting through it with your sense of humour in tact.

The weeks ahead are going to be challenging but as long as we can keep our wits about us and sneak in a family hug or two we will be okay.

I’m not always a nice Mom

There I’ve said it. Not an easy admission but something I’m sure you will know if you are able to read. Fact is that sometimes I’m just too tired, grumpy, frazzled, busy to take the time I know I should to stop and listen, or talk to you properly. I know that it’s unfair and that you act out more when you sense this in me, turning it into a vicious cycle.

Yesterday was one of these occasions. After school we set off to the home affairs department to apply for your first ever passport for our trip to Mauritius. Dad and I prepared ourselves for the trip with all the documents and research into best time to go. Knowing that there would be a wait we packed snacks and things to occupy you. You however, got bored and frustrated, were acting up, hanging onto me and just generally being a four year old. I was tired and irritated – I don’t do well with beauracracy. So we took it out on each other with Dad being mediator which wasn’t great.

As you know I am a working Mom like millions of others out there. My job however, is not one that stops after office hours. In the communications industry, which I am a part of, there is no such thing as office hours for crises or news stories. I am ‘always on the grid’ so much so that your Dad calls me ‘robot girl’.

This need to be constantly connected does impact our time together and for that I am truly sorry. I also have to travel every now and then for business which you don’t like. You asked me the other day why I go on ‘work holidays’ without you. As much as I tried to explain it wasn’t a holiday but a work trip for meetings you refused to accept it and remained grumpy with me for a while.

It is tough to juggle the demands of both home and work and I feel constantly guilty as, as much as the word balance is bandied out, working Moms know there is no such thing. Trying to keep all the balls in the air is hard and sometimes I end up dropping a few.

As we move forward on this exciting journey together, I know there are going to be many more times that you are going to tell me ‘you’re not my friend Mommy’ which even though I say to you doesn’t matter, it does. There are also going to be loads more occasions where I’m going to have a little cry to myself regretting my actions, questioning my motherhood skills and generally feeling sorry for myself.

But I am making you a promise today, going forward I am going to take a leaf out of the Mr Jelly book. Whenever I feel myself getting cross with you I am going to take take a deep breath and go ‘onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten’. I am also going to give you a solid hour every day that is just Mom and Oliver time, no phones, iPads or laptops around.

As for you well, when you see that Moms a little down just give me one of your super full body hugs and a little snuggle time because that is the magic that makes everything better.

All set for Jupiter

As someone who cannot go to sleep without reading, no matter what the time, the need to develop a passion for reading in you was critical. You have been read to every night of your life from six months onwards. What started as us or your Gagga or Granny Lyn choosing stories for you has now developed into you picking at least two stories a night.

The choices you have are endless with at least 50 books in your selection. You have over the years had your favourites, we’ve been through an extended Pooh phase, 1000’s of readings of Mickey Mouse, Noises at Night, Goodnight Baby Animals, Colour Me Happy, The Gruffalo which at one point you could recite, Albie & the Space Rocket, Under the Ground, The Circus Ship with Mr Payne, Eliza and the Moonchild to mention a few.

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You got this really special set of Ladybird books from your Aunty Carrie in October to help you to develop your reading skills. We have had hours of pleasure reading them and learning so many new things – all three of us!

Your favourite book of the set is the one about the planets and you have learnt so much from it amazing your ever doting parents and Teacher Angie with your knowledge of the planets.

What has amazed me is just how much the knowledge you have soaked up in such a short time. You know all the planets and can tell us about the big storm on Jupiter, how it’s freezing on Pluto and that Mars has the biggest volcano.

What I love even more is how this knowledge is coming through in our conversations. This is what you had to say before bed earlier this week:
Oliver: Mommy I love you so much. All day long.
Mommy: Thanks my baby I love you so much too every morning, day time, evening and night time.
Oliver: I love you even at school. I love you so much I am going to take you in my space rocket to Jupiter.
Mommy: That’s nice.
Oliver: Mommy do you have a rain jacket.
Mommy: Yes I do.
Oliver: Because we have to take our rain jackets with because there is a big storm on Jupiter and we will get wet. We mustn’t go in the brown spots because that has got gas and that is poisonous and we will die.
Mommy: Good thinking monkey.

I look forward to many many more book inspired moments and to traveling through space together literally of course!

Our December getaway

So it’s already the 22nd of January and this is my first post of the year, yes it is a little late but truth be told it has been a conscious decision, a break from all technology, a self-induced time out if you like and I have to admit it was so worth it. Old school is cool!

We enjoyed our holiday so much as we had quality family time together. The curse of not having cellphone or Internet connectivity where we stayed turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

But enough of that. Let me fill you in on what we got up to.

Princes Grant

Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg
Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg

After the whirlwind of school closing, your big 4th birthday bash, the last minute dash to close off on everything at work, we left in the early hours of the morning on 15 December and headed down to Princes Grant on the Natal north coast. Here we spent almost two glorious weeks with Gagga, Grandad, Uncle Ryan, Aunty Jen, Aunty Kris, Uncle Quintin, Nathan and Gemma. Luckily the house we hired had six bedrooms and enough space for all of us to have our own space.

It was an absolutely spectacular setting with a deck that gave us a view of the lagoon, beach and golf course. There was a pool and jacuzzi which was a massive hit. But I think the two golf carts that came with the house were what caused the most excitement. We were so spoilt with fabulous weather and so lucky to have a Grandad who gave us this wonderful gift.

Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track
Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track

Highlights of our time there included: quality time with family, dam building on the beach, nature walks, loads of fun rides on the green golf cart, bum sliding down the dunes, hours of canasta and backgammon, golf for Dad and some for Grandad, visit from Cara, Kyla and Gabriella, bike rides, early mornings with Gagga, swims in the sea, chasing and catching crabs, time with the Kaufies and the Snow clan, stories about Stan and Herman the bucks, a visit from Father Christmas on a yellow fire engine plus a ride on the fire engine singing songs through the loud speaker, driving the ‘car’ at the clubhouse jungle gym and so much more. 

Over and above all of that, is that you reached another milestone monkey – you started diving and swimming. It was amazing to watch your confidence build and your abilities grow daily. We were so proud of you.

 

Dive in action
Dive in action

Salt Rock

From the luxury of Prince’s Grant we moved on to ‘squat’ with the Kaufies at Zane and Debra’s house in Dunkirk Estate. Here the three of us slept in the kid’s room with you on a cot mattress on the floor and Dad and I each in a single bunk bed. We had a wonderful time with our special friends and their Gogo and Popsy who are so dear to us. We spent three nights with them with visits to Sage where you loved playing in the mini sheriff’s office and houses, trips to Grannies tidal pool, a walk down memory lane by visiting Salt Rock Hotel and lots of laughs.

Casa da Goodwin in Kamberg

Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River
Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River

The last day of 2012 saw us on the road again heading towards our final destination, Uncle Dave and Aunty Tish’s farm in the Kamberg where we went to ring in the new year with them, Uncle Lloyd, Aunty Carrie, Uncle Brian and Emma-Kay. I would love to say we partied the night away and saw the new year in but sadly not; some managed to stay up till just after midnight but we weren’t amongst them.

IMG_1424From the heat and humidity of the coast we welcomed the cooler, wet weather that is so common to the area. After two days of rain though we were happy to take the break and spend time at the beautiful Kamberg national park.

You and Dad had a ball hiking up the hills around the farm, picking blackberries, exploring the pine forest, keeping the beagles Chelsea and Bentley in line, looking for baboons, and having special boy time.

The farm is a wonderland for you with the dam, kiwi plantations, stream, Uncle Brian’s attic room, muddy patches, bridges – everything a little boy could wish for! You made me laugh so much with your constant questions of ‘why?’ to Uncle Dave who wasn’t prepared for your inquisitive mind but I think loved the interaction.

We have had such special times at the farm as a couple and as a family and this time again was no exception. How lucky we are to have family on both sides that we love spending time with, have common interests, challenge our thinking and keep us grounded.

Finally our holiday drew to a close and we headed home after three weeks away feeling more connected, much more relaxed and even more blessed than when we left.

Happy 4th Birthday Oliver

Hip hip hooray today’s your birthday! A very, very happy 4th birthday to you today my darling boy. As Daddy says, today marks the greatest day of our lives, the day you changed the world for us forever, the day you were born.

How very blessed we are to have you. You have given us so much joy and through you we have learnt to see the world in a different way. To take things a little slower, or faster, to stop and smell the roses, to always question, to allow our imaginations to run wild through your creative play, to enjoy building Lego again, to find joy in the little things but most of all how to love unconditionally. Thank you for all that you give us every day. You are our superstar!

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Bye bye dummy
Today marks a watershed moment in your little life. Forget all the wonderful gifts you received, your amazing fire station party (more on that in another post) and all the love and best wishes given by so many special people. Today you say goodbye to your dummy, or dum dum as you prefer to call it. The last standing vestige of babyhood.

We had spoken about this at length ahead of today and the agreement was made that at four you become a big boy, and big boys don’t have dummies. So, this morning you took your dummy and through it in the dustbin ‘all by yourself’. How proud we are of you. How long it lasts who knows but tonight will be the big test!

Who you are today
In building up your memory bank, I asked you some questions yesterday that we will repeat every year to see how you change and grow. They went something like this:
What’s your name? Oliver Stuart Goodwin
Your age: 3
What’s Mommy’s name: Aunty Penny
What’s Daddy’s name: David
Favourite colour: Blue
Best friend: Rosco and Zak
Who’s your teacher: Teacher Leigh
Favourite thing to do: Cut the grass (thoughtful pause) with scissors
Favourite food: Chippies
Food you don’t like: Meat (strange as you are a complete carnivore)
Favourite song: Kaptein (thanks to Aunty Kris’s wedding CD)
Favourite story: Winnie the Pooh at the Dr
Favourite toy: Blocks and Lego
What do you want to be when you grow up? 4 and a dinosaur to scare Teacher Leigh

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We so look forward to learning and growing with you over the next 12 months but part of me just wishes you would slow down as it is all going by too quickly. Each day we spend together is a precious gift and Dad and I look forward to spending tens of thousands more with you.

A very happy 4th birthday my sweet special boy.

I love you

The year you were 3

As we countdown to your fourth birthday on 9 December I wanted to capture some of what you have achieved in just a short twelve months! What a year it has been for us, you have literally grown up right before our eyes. Gone is the baby boy we had and in his place is a mini-kid or big boy as you like to call yourself.

Oliver ready to ride Frank in Dullstroom
Getting ready to ride Frank in Dullstroom

This year has seen so many changes for you which in turn has meant lots of changes for us. Over the last eleven plus months you have:

  •  Dropped your afternoon sleep which means you are up and at them from anytime between 05h00 and 06h00 till around 19h00 keeping Dad and I busy on weekends!
  • Got rid of nappies for good. Hip hip hooray! There were some touch and go moments with your forays into the garden. All that remains is your unique style when doing a number 2, you can only go completely naked.
  • Started dressing yourself. You are still mastering the art and you get frustrated but you are slowly but surely getting there.
  • Gotten so much more comfortable in your body. You started doing Soccer Starz and Funball as ‘extra murals’ and your confidence in your physical abilities has come on in leaps and bounds. You have become the proud owner of a driver, hockey stick and tennis racket and although you draw right-handed you continue to play all your sport as a ‘lefty’. Quirky trait. You also love your ‘monkey tree’ in our garden which you spend hours playing in and use as your refuge.
  • Started ‘swimming’ and by this I mean being able to keep yourself above water without any aid. You were doing great by end of March season, have lapsed a little but are slowly but surely making a comeback. This is all thanks to your Gagga and Aunty Kristy who give you swimming lessons.
  • Grown more inquisitive and knowledgeable by the day. A well used word in your ever growing vocabulary is ‘why’ which I have to admit to not being able to answer every time. You literally leave us agape at what you take in and remember. You are a veritable sponge for information.
  • Begun making real friends. Rosco and Zak are your best friends and your cohorts when it comes to getting up to mischief at school, talking about poo-poo and generally just being boys.
  • Become attached to boy toys. A few of your favourite things right now are Lego, all your construction goodies, your fire engine and your cars.
  • Mastered the Ipad. You absolutely love the interactive books and games and are a complete junkie which has lead to one or two disputes between you and I!

This was a year of so many first experiences for you too. Zip lining, hot air ballooning, a trip to Dullstroom with Aunty Vicki and Uncle Gavin where you learnt to fish and went for horserides on Frank, funfair rides at Gold Reef City, ring bearer at Aunty Kris’ wedding, ten pin bowling, exploring at Sci-Bono, taking in the view from Carlton Centre, riding on the Gautrain, hiking in the Kamberg. And so much more…

Oliver giving ziplining a thumbs up - all sharp sharp
Zipline at Sparkling Waters – brave boy!

So, we now formally wave goodbye to the toddler years remembering just how much fun (and hard work) they have been and look forward to what the next year will hold with a four year old in the house. There are so many firsts that are still to come for you which we cant wait to share together!

The ants go marching on and on

This week was your first official big concert at Bryanston Pre-primary School and we were super nervous as you are not a ‘perform on demand’ kinda guy. So imagine our surprise when for weeks ahead of the big day you were our little song bird singing night and day, in the bath, in the car, everywhere you could. It was adorable and a new experience for us, as to date your singing has been something you have done on your own and been quite shy about.

The transformation was incredible and the number of new songs so brilliant to hear – hats off to Teacher Leigh for her patience and perseverance in getting you all prepped. I really don’t know how she does it.

The build up to the concert was not without its hiccups though. Although you were performing songs at home, feedback on the ground was that you spent most of your time at practices at school lying under the bench picking your nose.  So, we encouraged you to share as many of the 17, yes 17 songs, you were going to sing at your concert with us at home. I even managed to get you on video singing your new favourite ‘Fire Flies’.

Absolutely adorable and now one of the songs you and I sing together often along with some oldies like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, ‘Insy Winsy Spider’, ‘I love you’ and newbies ‘Bees in the Hive’, ‘Four Butterflies’, ‘Bears in the woods’, ‘Shoo Fly’ to mention a few.

The day dawned and you had not one but two concerts to perform in one day in the show ‘Bugs at the Picnic’! The dress rehearsal in the morning which was open to all the family and you were so lucky as, as usual. you had a solid support team. Gagga, Grandad, Granny Lyn, Grandpa and Aunty Kristy were all there to cheer you on. Of course, you rose to the occaision and put on a great performance. The reports I received were that other than for the few songs when you literally had your foot in your mouth you sang along to everything.

That evening was the main show, the big moment that Dad and I had been waiting for. We packed up our picnic basket and along with Connie headed for school, our expectations solidly in check.

How you surprised us though, you were absolutely perfect my angel face. You sat relatively still in the front row, sang every song and performed your army ant scene to the song ‘The ants go marching one by one hoorah’ to the T. We were amazed and it showed us just how much you take in when you appear not to be listening or participating. Something that we will both remember going forward!

Your fellow red army ants were your closest friends at school Rosco, Zak, Tristan and Kieran. The other bugs from your class were Red Bees – Bohlokoa, Bohlale, Mifi, Abisola, Riley and Butterflies – Jessica, Elle, Nyeleti, Gisele.

After the show we had a picnic at the school with all the other Moms and Dads while you all got to run around and left off some much deserved steam after all your hard work and preparation.

Well done my darling boy, Dad and I are both so very proud of you. You continue to amaze us with just what you can do and make us a little sad as you looked just to grown up! On the plus side though, you may just have inherited one or two of our performance genes after all!