Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As I am writing this I am still feeling anxious and jittery. You see, today we had an appointment with one of the teachers at a school for Rowan. Yes! A school for Rowan...
I am not too sure how I feel about the fact that we might be sending Rowan to spend a morning away from home and away from Mom for two days a week. It is quite scary and he is only two years old. I do know that he will benefit from the exposure to and interaction with other kids and adults. At least I think so. There are so many different philosophies on teaching young children and everyone has a different opinion.

As for Rowan... he seemed a little unsure as we entered the school but followed us anyway. It did resemble a doctor's office and I think this might have contributed to his anxiety. He did calm down a little while later and really enjoyed exploring the classroom and playing with the toys. From what I witnessed today, I am pretty sure that he would adjust quite well to this new environment and that makes me feel a little bit better.

We will be looking into alternatives to this school and will over the course of the spring and summer make a decision. Any input will be greatly appreciated.

It all comes and goes so quickly, doesn't it?

Monday, March 30, 2009

In the late afternoon our backyard becomes aglow with the warm light of the setting sun. Now that Spring has arrived the grass is becoming greener by the day. The trees are starting to bloom and our pea plants have sprouted. Even the wild ducks have come to see what all the fuss is about as they splashed around in our pond.

A portion of our property is covered with trees and three ponds. We have a good view of it from our living and dining room windows. Every now and again one of us might spot some movement between the trees. This is always very exciting as we try to ascertain what exactly it was that we saw. We have seen some woodpeckers, red cardinals, bunnies, ducks, squirrels and sometimes a hawk would come swooping through the trees. Our back yard is occasionally graced by the presence of a blue heron and the most beautiful deer. At one point in time a whole herd was just grazing on the field grass and slowly made their way past our house and across the road.

I love this time of year and we plan to spend as much time outdoors as we possibly can.

This evening Rowan enjoyed some time playing in the sand again, but this time he learnt something new. Richard taught him how to build sand castles and our little guy was so impressed! Taking photos was quite tricky for as soon as the bucket was lifted and the mound of molded dirt was revealed it was struck down by the hand of Rowan in a matter of I think maybe 2 milliseconds. The undeniable look of satisfaction on Rowan's face was precious.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our friend, Anke suggested playing with dominoes as a good toddler pastime and I am pleased to say that Rowan did indeed enjoy playing with the tiles. Because of their thinness they are more versatile than regular blocks. You can build enclosures, stack them and then of course there is the all time favorite: placing them vertically following a curve, pushing them over and delighting in the sound and movement as they "all fall down!"

Rowan also took charge and imagined some more ways of playing with them. "Poop-poop-poop!" he said as he pressed his little fingers on the colorful dots and held it next to his ear with a "Hallo! Babble, babble, babble."

For some reason he also thought it would be fun to remove them from the table, one by one, and place them in his secret hiding place where no-one will ever dare to look... except for his Mom of course :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

We had a very busy day today. Saturdays always seem to be packed with activity. Rowan and Richard enjoyed a morning of swimming and shopping while I cleaned and did some studying. This afternoon we payed a visit to one of the big nurseries in the area and made a long list of all the beautiful trees that we would like to buy and plant some day. One can always dream you know :)

So all in all it was a pretty ordinary day filled with some ordinary activities. We accomplished a lot and that always leaves us satisfied and ready for a fun-filled Sunday.

We are about 15 minutes away from earth hour here in our area, and will be switching off all the electricity in our home for an hour or so. Well, that's the idea... I'll let you know tomorrow how it all turned out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Toddler Banking 101

Rowan has been saving up lots of change over the last few months and today was the day to deposit it into his bank account.

Even though Richard and I had already counted and packed all the coins a couple of days ago, I thought Rowan might get a kick out of packing some of the left over change into the coin sleeves all by himself.

Then all the coins had to be placed in a special little bag for secure transportation to the bank. Rowan was quite surprised at how heavy the bag got and when all the coins were bagged he handed it to me with a great big groan. Then we went off to the bank where Rowan witnessed his first real banking transaction. Poor kid. You would think I could come up with something a little more entertaining for him :)

Well, I did feel sorry about making him drive all the way to the bank without any real entertainment and since he has also been saving up some energy we headed to the play ground.

Have a good weekend everybody!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cars, cars, everywhere!

I might have mentioned before how much Rowan likes cars and trucks but I don't think you can really appreciate this attraction until you've seen the floor in our living area after a day of playing. There are cars everywhere!

Today felt like our entire day pretty much revolved around cars. We would for instance be looking at a book with the most amazingly detailed drawings of entire scenes and Rowan's eyes would immediately be drawn to a car, truck, train or plane. One of his books has a piece entitled "Buildings" and there are drawings of all sorts of buildings. The architect in me got quite excited and thought "this is my chance - I will make an architect of him yet!" but no, I failed to spot the tiny little car in the bottom left corner which Rowan excitedly pointed out with a "ka!" Another scene in a book depicted a train station filled with people. One little boy in a crowd of people was carrying a bag. All I saw was a crowd. Rowan on the other hand spotted the tiny little "tain" sticking it's chimney out from the top of the bag. Unbelievable. Even when I am busy on the computer and there happens to be a picture of a car on some advertisement, Rowan will point it out to me very enthusiastically and ask to be picked up so that he can have a closer look.

We also played with his trains for about two hours today. It took that long because after playing with the actual trains on the tracks he had to play with his cars on the tracks too. I am sure he had a lot of fun, but there are only so many times that a Mom can go "Choo-choo and brrmmm!" :)

Anyway, what I also wanted to share with you was this:

Rowan obviously has good taste in cars and must know that Ferraris are valuable so they are parked in an extra special place. The great thing about this special place is that when Rowan opens that drawer tomorrow he is going to act all surprised and say "Wowie!" with big sparkly eyes and a great big smile.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A rainy day meant doing some crafts indoors and with Easter approaching we thought making a basket filled with eggs out of clay would be a good way to spend the afternoon.

Rowan always likes the idea of playing with clay. He can't really make anything in particular at this point in time but he does enjoy cutting long worms of clay into smaller pieces. This came in handy when I needed small amounts of clay for the eggs. After a while of watching me roll the clay into little balls he also tried his best to make some eggs. When he revealed a roundish lump of clay in his hands he seemed quite pleased with himself and of course I was pleased too.

So now our little creation is drying and hardening. It should be ready to receive some paint over the weekend. I am sure he is going to love it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year around this time Rowan and I started going to playgrounds where he could explore climbing, sliding and swinging in the great outdoors. Back then he was just starting to walk and was not too confident in his own abilities. I helped him up onto the structures and he usually wouldn't move unless I was right by his side. Well, that was then...

Today was a completely different story.

As we drove into the parking lot he squealed with joy and started kicking his legs really fast as the excitement mounted. He couldn't get out of the car fast enough. I was really happy to see the ease with which he approached the climbing structures. He was so confident that he could climb anything and everything that this particular playground had to offer.

He soon concurred the smallest structures and then moved onto the bigger more challenging ones. I was impressed and felt that it would be all right for him to play on the high structures until he decided that walking along them wasn't exciting enough. No, he had to run which was fine because there were rails all around and no way for him to fall off.

But then it came to the point where he just wouldn't slow down. He just ran straight to the slide where he fell down on his behind and slid down. He did this over and over again. I was a nervous wreck because at any moment his momentum could flick him over the side of the slide. I did my best to prepare myself in case I had to catch him which meant I had to run from one slide to which ever one he decided to go for next. Boy! He is such a boy!

By the time we left I had a huge tension headache and decided that we would choose our playgrounds very carefully from now on. I just can't believe what a difference a year makes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

When Rowan wakes up in the morning he likes to take things easy. He likes (and needs) to have about ten minutes or so to just gather his thoughts and energies - you know bring them back from the dream world to the real world. When this process is interrupted he is almost guaranteed to get upset.

I often wonder what he is thinking about during this time. Perhaps he is planning his day or maybe he is reviewing the dreams he just awoke from. But most probably neither of the two since the one would be thinking of what is to come and the other would be thinking of something that happened in the past. Children live in the moment. He is probably sitting there looking around - taking it all in.

His room is quite bare except for one wall. On this wall hangs a beautiful quilt full of detail, colour and texture. It is the first thing he sees every morning. It is also the first thing he talks about and touches and points at when I enter the room. We love this quilt and can never thank his Gran enough for all the effort and artistry she put toward making something so precious.

We have truly been spoiled by Rowan's Gran, Richard's Mom. She has made us a quilted picnic blanket, some Christmas wall hangings, a lap blanket for us and one for Rowan, some other wall hangings and a gorgeous quilt for our bed - all patch work and quilted and I suspect made with lots of love. We treasure these items and I thought I would share them with all of you. Below are just a few from our collection.

This one hangs in Rowan's playroom. It has little bits of shells and rope and all sort of lovely textures and goodies. It has been extremely helpful over the past two years since for a while it was one of the few things that would help with calming Rowan down when he was crying.

This quilt adorns our bed and really comes to life when the sun fills the room with a warm glow. On those days I so wish I could just have a lie down with a good book...

Rowan loves to touch this one too.

We are lucky to have such nice things made especially for us. Thanks Gran!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

First of all I think congratulations are in order. My sister got engaged about a week and a half ago while on vacation. She is back at home now and we would just like to wish her and her fiance a wonderful life together.

Then we can also congratulate Rowan for his effortless transition into life without a pacifier (dummy). Once again all the dire warnings by all the so-called parenting experts turned out to be completely unfounded.

Our weekend was great! The weather was fantastic and we made the best of it.

This weekend was about work, learning, fitness and socialising and believe it or not all of it was fun and rewarding.

Where we live the change in the seasons can be experienced in all it's glory and the transition from Winter into Summer is one of great enthusiasm in the spirit of renewal or re-birth so, we energetically start preparing ourselves (bodies and minds) and homes (inside and out) for the warm and beautiful days to come.

On Saturday I cleaned the house. This is normally quite a drag but when you play the music that you love at really high volume the job is easily done in no time. The reward is the satisfaction of having accomplished something that you were really not looking forward to doing and thought that you would never get to do. Today Richard was working in the yard and Rowan and I decided to join him. There was lots of shoveling to be done and the guys had a good go at it while I spent my time dreaming up wonderful little ideas for landscaping and patio design.

Our friends arrived in the late morning while we were outside working hard and we were glad to be able to take a break. The kids played around outside and got to try out the bike trailer and tricycle. They seemed to be having fun. Rowan, however, will have to work on sharing his toys with others. As the kids were playing I learnt a little bit about gardening from my friend Anke. I now know more about the importance of potting soil and how not to expect tulip bulbs to grow in pots left outside during the freezing Winter months. I really should have known better.

It is so nice to have our friends drop by and I decided that we should all have lunch together. Richard and I have been wanting to grill out (braai) since Friday and I was thrilled when our friends accepted our invitation. It was so much fun and we will definitely do it again.

Another great thing about this weekend was that we finally got to use our terrace (patio) - the one that my dear Richard spent the entire summer building block for block. He did such an amazing job and I am super proud of what he has accomplished.

Early evening we headed out to the store to buy a bicycle for me. So now I too can go riding with the boys. I tried it out as soon as we got home and I was amazed at how much fun riding a bicycle was. I used to ride quite a lot when I was younger but seemed to have forgotten just how nice it actually was. It was so great to be able to race up the driveway against Rowan on his tricycle. He was bursting with excitement and laughter.

Well, that was our weekend - challenging, rewarding and fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The day of the ride.

Sorry, this post has been hi-jacked by Richard. See Elaine is too tired today to do any typing at all. She was very busy from early morning cleaning toilets and doing other household chores. While mommy was busy working her fingers to the bone, Pa-pa and son went swimming.

We bundled up all our neccessary swimming equipment into the Caverns Drakensburg Resort back-pack and headed off to the YMCA. Earlier in the week Elaine had signed Rowan up for swimming lessons, he was to be in the Shrimp class.

Rowan and I got there with time to spare, the class was to start at 10:45 and we were in the changing rooms taking off our clothes at 10:25.
Rowan did not mind getting undressed in the strange place but he really did not like the feel of the floor under his bare little feet, so we had to put shoes back on for the walk to the pool.

Swimming lessons were great, lots of fun and chasing balls, and "One Two Three" jumping in the water. Actually they made us sing this song about an alligator that jumps in the water and all Rowan was singing was "One Two Three" and then looking at the others to say "What's the hold-up? Let's jump."

After much splashing and ball chasing it was time for home.

Time passed.

Rowan Napped.

Then I tried to mow the lawn but could not even get the mower to run. It's a second-hand old thing that a friend at work gave me. He said it was 'cos he didn't need it but I'm beginning to suspect that really it's just bust, and he's sitting in the trees somewhere 'round here looking at me through binoculars and laughing as I pull and pull and pull and all it ever does is give out a big puff of very blue and stinky smoke and nothing else.

Ah-ha but Elaine came to the rescue and said that it was nearly 5 o'clock and it was time for a bike ride on our new bike and trailer. So we loaded up the car with all the stuff and went down to the river to the bike path.

The weather by this time was great, a little on the nippy side but no wind and clear skies.

So the plan was that I'd pull Rowan along the bike path while Mom races to a spot ahead where she could take some pictures and then we'd meet her there and go home from there.

It all worked out, Rowan and I had a good ride. He was very silent and looked rather amazed at the whole thing whenever I managed to look around behind me. Elaine did not have much luck. She was going to go to this graveyard all alone to see if it was photogenic enough but she ended up getting a bit lost and ran out of time.

So in the end Rowan and I rode, well I rode, Rowan just sat there apparently thinking heavy thoughts, for 6 miles. That is about 104km.


I forgot to tell you about the fun Rowan had in the morning, before all the cleaning and swimming. We sat in his play-room playing with his trucks and made little garages for them.

Here Rowan is looking at the river while I get the trailer assembled for our ride.

And here we are setting out on the ride, I was very glad that this part was the steepest part of the trip.

OK thank you. I'm sure your regular blogger will be back tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Boys Have New Toys!

The guys are ready for and super excited about many many summer time bike trips. I think we are all going to love it :) Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stacking - An Exercise in Mindfulness

I was watching Rowan play in his room today. He slowly opened a drawer and peeked inside. He obviously liked what he saw and decided to pull the whole thing out. He stood for a while just looking at the cut pieces of wood trying to decide which one was worthy of being the first layer in the stack. He picked one out and looked at it from all angles. I imagine the grain of the wood, the texture, the irregularity in shape and perhaps the flaking of the bark must have drawn his attention. After careful consideration, he placed the first layer of the stack.

He checked each one of the wood pieces before adding it to the pile. He seemed to be so at peace - just stacking wood - not caring about anything other than the wood and the act of stacking.

He carried on building until the stack was too high for him to add another piece and this time he just left it standing. This is a shift. He normally would have taken the greatest pleasure in knocking it down. I guess our little guy is growing up :) ...... :(

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yoghurt. Rowan loves the stuff.

Now that you have a visual just imagine him saying "Mmm, numm" after every third bite. It's the best!

"What? Is there something on my face? What are you looking at?"

"Oh that! Yeah! I was just saving it for later!"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The sun was out and Rowan and I felt completely energised - ready to take on a task that has been waiting for us since autumn 2008. It was time to clear away all the left over building materials from last year's terrace wall building project. This job was perfectly suited for a little boy. Picking broken pieces of brick up from the ground, putting them in a wheel barrow and then throwing them out at another location. He took his job very seriously and worked very very hard.

After about an hour of us working and playing around I found him leaning with his back and head against the wall, eyes closed, taking deep breaths in and out, pulling his shoulders up and down with each breath. He does this to show me that he is tired, but when I asked if he was ready to go inside he shot up, grabbed his shovel and went straight back to work. The next time I found him he was doing the same breathing routine lying on the driveway looking up at the blue sky. What a cute picture that would make! I grabbed my camera but as soon as he saw me he got up again and started playing in the sand. He was really quite tired but really did not want to go back inside. By the third time I found him leaning against the wall, I decided that it was time to go inside and have some lunch. I think he was quite relieved.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Winding down the day and getting ready for bed is never quite the same without splashing about in the bath tub. Rowan likes to play with all sorts of toys. Every now and again he will try to sneak some toys that are clearly not meant for a bath past us when we are not looking. One of his teddies, called Sam, actually took a dip just the other day. He likes to fill bottles with water and empty them over and over again. Sometimes he plays peek-a-boo with his reflection on the chrome fittings. Drinking the bath water is also something that he enjoys when we are not looking.

The next step in our night time ritual is for Rowan to get wrapped up in a soft and cozy towel. Richard carries him to the room where I am waiting patiently. As they make their way toward me I can hear the excited little squeal coming from Rowan in anticipation of what happens next. You see, I am a big believer in laughter before bedtime and so getting dressed for bed is a process that includes lots of tickles, peek-a-boo and various other games that I know will make him howl with laughter. We all enjoy it!

But then it is time to calm down and this is one of my favourite moments of the day. Just before Richard and Rowan get ready for their story time, I get to say good night to Rowan. As he sits in his Dad's arms, he leans toward me with his big blue beautiful eyes locked on mine and gives me a lovely little peck on the mouth. He then puts his head on Richard's chest and closes his eyes clearly indicating that he is now ready for bed. A short story and some tucking in and his is off to dreamland in an instant. We are such lucky parents :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What a beautiful day we had today. Blue sky, sunshine and warm weather. You probably wonder why I always insist on telling you all about the weather. Well, you have to understand just how important it is to us. You see we are completely fed-up with cold grey weather and cannot wait for spring to come.

Anyway, it was a perfect day for planting some seeds for our future vegetable garden so Richard and Rowan took it on as their project for the day. Rowan took to task very enthusiastically and helped his Dad shovel some soil from the pile into the wheel barrow where it would be mixed with some gravel. From there it had to be moved to the planters as the drainage base. Some more soil on top of that and the pots were ready to receive some seeds. Rowan planted them one by one and did a great job listening to and following instructions from Richard. After the seeds were all covered the pots were moved to one of the sunniest spots in our garden. Some water and sunshine and soon we will have a whole lot of garden fresh peas to pick and nibble on.

After a hard day's work the guys came inside, opened the freezer, grabbed some ice-pops and plonked themselves down on the living room chairs. Side-by-side. Father and son. What a sight to behold.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some have suggested that I become a children's photographer and I have given it some serious thought... up until now that is.
In an effort to wish my sister, Yolande, a happy birthday we thought we would write a message on a black board and then Rowan and I would pose next to it for a photo that we would then publish to the blog. Fun idea and oh so simple.
Well, as it turns out, Rowan didn't want anything to do with being in the picture. We struggled and struggled - the whole thing was quite exhausting. We didn't manage to get a good picture with the two of us and so Richard suggested I use a stand-in for Rowan. So here you go Yolande. Hope you had a wonderful day :) From Richard, Elaine, Rowan, Mia... and Charlie.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today I decided to make better use of our membership to the Museum Center. Our plan was to spend most of our time in the Children's Museum. Apparently a gazillion other families thought that this was a good idea too. People were standing in line to get into the elevator and I just knew that it would be way too crowded.
I have been wanting to take Rowan on a tour through the rest of the museum for a while now just to see how he would react. I decided to take him to the section that tells the history of the city. The great thing about this museum is that they built a scale model of what the city looked like during the early 1900's complete with trains, trams, cars and people. Rowan was in awe - I could tell by the gasp and covering of his mouth with both hands while his eyes grew bigger and brighter at the site of the miniature city and moving trains. Around ever corner was another model, some small and some life sized. He even got to board a replica of a river steamboat. I think he enjoyed the real museum even more than the children's museum.
Next time, we will go to the Natural History section of the Museum where we would get to walk through reconstructions of glaciers and caves systems. I am sure he is going to love it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rowan and I had no idea what today had in store for us. Only on Halloween or perhaps Friday the 13th could one expect such terror...

The day was cold; it was grey and oh so gloomy. I was sorting the washing and Rowan was playing around our bedroom. Suddenly there was complete silence. It was so eery. "Rowan! Where are you?"... Nothing. "Where's my boy?" ... Still nothing. A deep breath - in and out.

Suddenly I heard a clanking sound coming from the closet. I walked over very quietly to inspect. There it was again! "Rowan? Are you hiding from Mom again?" The slight movement and excited little giggle coming from the dark reaches of our closet came as such a relief. Of course he is hiding from me. No need to feel frightened anymore. All I needed to do now was to play along.

I slipped through the curtains into the closet. It took a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. All I could see peering through to the back of the closet were the clotheslined walls to my side and an open passage down the centre. I looked around some more and finally spotted some blond hair sticking out above my shirts.

My role in this game was to pretend not to know where he was and so I carefully looked in every place that I knew he wasn't. He was pretty good at the game too. He kept completely still. After I searched the closet I walked back out with a big sigh and said "I can't find him anywhere!" Still silence. This was my cue to go back in and start the search all over again. I happily obliged. My strategy would stay the same since toddlers actually enjoy repetition, or so I thought. I expected everything to go exactly as it did just minutes ago, but boy was I wrong!

I opened the curtain and started my search again in a place that I knew he wasn't hiding. I placed my hand on the hanger to my right and slid it across the bar when "AAAAARHHH!" There he was! He moved away from the original spot! This was completely unexpected and gave me a huge fright. He obviously didn't expect me to react quite as strongly and the look of bewilderment on his face was just too precious.

The great thing about playing with young children is that it takes you back to all the fun that you had as a child when your imagination was functioning at peak performance. If you are lucky you can still harness that same energy and catch a glimpse of a reality altered by imagination. It is exciting and sometimes when your imagination runs away with you as mine did today, you might just be in for a big surprise.

Have a happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It was cold out today and we had to stay in. For some entertainment we created a parking garage out of a cardboard box. Rowan loves playing with his cars in general but with a parking garage it is much more fun.

He brought all his little cars from the shelf and parked them one at a time. Then it was time for an inspection.

Yip, they look good! Ok, game over!

What else can I do with this box? Ooh! I know! Hey! Look what I can do Mom! Surprise!

Umm... maybe I'm a little too big for this box...