One last winter post…

After all, it is still February. And that means winter, right?

Ok. I am definitely much too late with this. I should have written about it last month but this that and the other and I didn’t. And I really want to because we had the best day trip. So.

Mid-January the boys and I went to Hwasun for snow tubing and swimming with a group of Korean friends (4 mums and 6 kids plus us). Now, that sounds fun any day to me… but I was apprehensive about how Zeph would find it. In some ways he’s so brave, and in others so cautious. Espescially with new experiences. And espescially recently. I expected him to really enjoy going on an adventure with his friends and to love the activities, if he was willing to try them.

If he was willing to try them.

If he was willing to try them.

This thought echoed through the few days between confirming the trip and going. Echoed through my preparations for going the night before. Echoed through the car journey there. Because if he refused to even try, which was quite possible it seemed to me, then he’d probably be miserable. And I would probably be miserable at spending a whole day out doing nothing. And Elly would probably be miserable at spending a whole day out doing nothing too.

And then one of the mums, who also has and brought a toddler, reminded me about naps. Inward groan. How to make sure Elly gets a decent nap and doesn’t get too grumpy….

So we got to the snow tubing. It was cold but someone had brought heat packs. Zeph wouldn’t wear one… not the best start to trying new things. We lined up for the tube-lift. Zeph went before me, sat in, got hooked up… and up he went. He looked like he wanted to try and climb right out again, but it was moving, and from next on the line I was shouting up to him, It’s ok. Stay sitting down! Then we were at the top. So far so good. Except now we watched the row in front go down first, and Zeph did not want to do that. Persuasion? Not working. Going together? Not possible with Elly needing to ride in my lap already. What about holding hands?img_2018-04-15_15-10-01752390568.jpg
And he agreed.

He was nervous. He thought about backing out, especially when I had to hold his tube handle not his hand. But he agreed. And he did it. And then we did it again. And by the end of it, after I had to give up and wrap Elly to let him sleep because he’d been howling in the last two lines (not the ride… that bit he actually seemed to enjoy), he went with just his friend and another mum.

And I was SO proud of him.

Next up: aqua park. Zeph saw his friends jump in with their rubber rings, and in he went after them. He preferred me to stay close and hold his ring where the water was deep, but in the shallow play pool he was off. There were bubbles pools, water umbrellas, slides, water walking balls (which we didn’t try), a stepping bridge thing to try climbing across…. Elly was also in his element. He’s such a water baby!img_2018-04-15_15-06-021625829586.jpgI am proud of my kids always, but I was especially proud of Zeph that day: he was super brave trying two new things and on top of that the other mums twice remarked what a gentleman he is when he held the lift door open to make sure everyone was safe, and when he wanted to pour everyone drinks at dinner.

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Thoughts about a very slow winter

Winter was especially slow for us. We lived in our pjs at least half the time. With the cold, small children and rounds of sickness that seemed to keep hitting us each in turn, one after the other, we spent a lot of time at home.

We enjoyed our bit of snow of course.

And we haven’t been entirely secluded, but we haven’t been out so much, haven’t seen friends as much. I haven’t been baby-wearing Elly so much as we haven’t been walking long distances so often. We have woken up late with no hurry to go anywhere so we have read all the books between breakfast and brushing our teeth instead of just one or two. We have made tents under the blankets and sheets and read more books and imagined wild adventures. We have sung songs and learned sign words. We have cooked and baked and made and created.

On one hand I have felt very lazy, but that’s kind of what winter is about isn’t it?

Rest.

Real rest. Stillness that comes from rest. Being, rather than the need to do or become.

So I’ll take our slow winter. But now we are ready for spring. Slow too, I expect, but maybe not quite so much. Maybe we can even get ourselves together and ready to leave the house before midday on occasion.

Close your eyes Mummy

‘Don’t look! Keep not looking… Ta-da!’

This is what Zeph has been saying to me fairly regularly since around Christmas.

First it happened in the mornings. He would disappear behind the curtains or around the corner trailing t-shirt and trousers. The first times there was often no ‘Ta-da!’ Instead there were screams and tears of frustration when an arm got stuck or a button wouldn’t do up. But more recently there are jumps out of hiding and big smiles from the boy who dressed himself.

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More recently, I have started hearing these words in the evening and when I get the signal to look I find that he has picked up all his blocks into the bucket, or put all the cars back in the basket.

On the whole, I’m pretty happy with the tidying phase.

Quiz a four year old

I’ve seen this on Facebook, and thought it might be fun.

No coaching them, just ask and write the response down:

  • What is your name? Zephy.
  • How old are you? 5 (his correct Korean age, though his western age is 4)
  • When is your birthday? This many (holds up 10 fingers). Its going to be a looong time. A very long time. 10 more days.
  • How old is mummy? This many. Holds up 6 fingers. Let me look how big you are mummy. How tall are you?
  • What is your favourite colour? Red. And orange.
  • What is your favourite food? Spagehtti. No. Noodles.
  • Who is your best friend? Ujin.
  • What is your favourite song? Um. Tars. Guitars. Maybe violinins.
  • What is your favourite animal? *Gasps* I know. Tigers. Lions. Lions are my favourite.
  • What makes you happy? Cheese. Smiles. Kisses and smiles.
  • Where is your favourite place to go? Suncheon Garden.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Um. Probably a diver. Who can dive into water.
  • What is mummy’s favourite thing to do? I dont know. Play? Cook? I think it’s cooking.
  • What is your favourite toy? Umm… trains.
  • What is mummy’s job? Take care. Of people.
  • Where do you like to go on holiday? What’s holiday. When you go to work?

I’d love to hear any cute answers you get if you do this.

Daddy to the rescue

Sometimes I am exhausted. Sometimes my children are exhausting.

Today was one of those days.

I was stressed by my four year old acting like a four year old; my one year old acting like a one year old; the state of my house in general and my bathroom in particular which has desperately needed cleaning for I won’t tell you how long; by whether I am parenting my children well and making good decisions regarding how to respond to them; by whether I am spending enough time with each of them doing the important things; by… maybe everything and nothing.

In swooped Daddy and took them both off to softplay for three whole beautiful hours. I cleaned the house, sorted cupboards, cooked. Then I wondered why they were not back yet. While I did laundry I realised Daddy had taken them to eat dinner. And I was not exhausted. I had some time and some space.

Every Mummy needs someone to make sure she gets a break.

Every Mummy needs a hero.

Little kitchen helpers: peeling and chopping practice

Both my boys love chopping food up (…and generally being destructive…) What they, or Z├Ęph at least, produces is always filled with love and pride at contributing to the family. But hard foods are difficult to chop and can be dangerous for little fingers which might slip. And little fingers also produce highly irregular chopped goods – which is sometimes fine and sometimes makes cooking awkward. So my kids both get to do chopping practice.

This is a food prep activity which they find lots of fun, can contribute towards family meals or snacks and gets them working in their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

For Elly, at 20 months I choose very soft foods such as banana and boiled eggs – this can make a mess. I recommend removing he yolk and just giving the white part to avoid the worst of this – and he loves getting stuck in with his knife. And eating bits on the way.

At 4 Zeph still has fun with this and I can challenge him to try to cut regular sized circles, semi-circles or chunks. He also gets opportunities to do slightly harder chopping tasks: courgette, grape tomatoes, cucumber etc. as well as pre-sliced hard vegetables such as carrot and potato.

Zeph also gets to peel vegetables, though Elly does not. The first time, a few months ago now, he tried a carrot and got very upset that he couldn’t do it. But he has since, at his own request, tried again. And again. And again. And now he does a fairly good job minus the bits closest to the ends. Potatoes are harder – his first try he scrapped off one little patch of peel before getting frustrated and wandering off, but more recent attempts he’s managed more.

Suncheon Expo Garden

We spent a lot of Spring and Autumn days happily wandering around Suncheon Garden last year and Zeph has been asking all winter about when we will go again. So today, along with a group of friends, was our first visit of the year. I’m not sure I would have braved the weather quite so soon if it hadn’t been suggested to us, but actually it was a great day!

We had gimbap picnic lunch and then took the Skycube monorail to Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve. It takes 10-15 minutes each way and is one of Zeph’s favourite things to do. At the Suncheon Bay end there’s a small traditional-style rest area with traditional Korean games available to play: Juldarigi (tug-of-war), bowl-a-hoop, Tuho (throwing sticks) and Jegichagi (like Hacky Sack).

Zeph of course headed straight to play in the gravel but did get round to trying some other things too. He found the hoops pretty frustrating at first and didn’t want to try anymore after the first go, but after a while he came back to it and developed his own special trick of rolling it and then catching it again on the stick. Elly was super quiet all day – he barely said a thing or made any noise at all – but he had lots of fun too, especially getting an ice-cream to himself because Zeph insisted they have one each instead of share.

There’s actually a lot more in the Expo Garden that we didn’t get around to today, but some of our friends had other stuff on and after all, as a first Spring trip out after a lazy mostly-at-home winter, it was probably enough for all of us. Elly was falling asleep even as I wrapped him in the baby wrap on the Skycube back, and Zeph was tired enough to ask to go home rather than play in the park with the friends who were still available. AND!!! Wonder of wonders, after almost a week of haywire, frustrating bedtimes with both of them being crazy and sleeping much too late, they are both now alseep!

Tonight I’m a happy Mummy.