Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Standing on a wooden fence, leaning with his back against his Gran's shoulder, Rowan caught his first real glimpse of an elephant today. I stood back and watched them watching the elephants. I saw his face gently change expression as he looked on and wondered about these Asian giants before him. I saw the contented smile on his Gran's face as she held him tight and enjoyed this very special moment with him. After a while I turned to look back at the elephants and was surprised to see one looking straight at us. As I pointed it out to Rowan, the elephant started walking towards us. Gran and I got excited and Rowan... well... he didn't like the idea AT ALL and would have leaped out of his Gran's arms if she wasn't holding him so securely. Gran managed to calm him down just enough to watch the elephant turn and walk in the other direction. It's a moment we will certainly remember for quite some time to come.

Our day was filled with so many special moments and I wish I had the time and energy to share them all with you. One I do need to mention, however, was about a boy and a train.

Rowan has been exposed to trains all his life through story books, movies, toys and photographs but has never had the chance to actually get on and take a ride until today. When Rowan saw the miniature train at the zoo he seemed excited and then the excitement turned to a kind of thoughtfulness about this dream that has suddenly worked it's way into his reality. We bought some tickets and went twice around the zoo. For the duration of the trip this little boy of ours was just sitting there very quietly, taking it all in. Not excited. Not afraid. Just thoughtful about the whole thing. It must be wonderful to see this world of ours through the eyes of a child. Can you imagine!?

Monday, June 29, 2009

I have always had a kind of love hate relationship with the kids playgrounds of today.

I don't normally like them because they are too colourful and synthetic. I prefer the older wooden structures where the child can be in close contact with natural materials, textures and colours - all together it lends itself to a much richer experience of place.

Having said that I will now admit that I actually like them for the very same reasons that I mentioned above. Colour is great. It seems to really excite Rowan. He spots these playgrounds from a long distance away. The bright colours give the whole experience a sort of carnival atmosphere. The highly finished frameworks of these structures are clean and splinter free. The pipes even produce a multitude of lovely sounds and tones when you drum against them.

So, I have come to the conclusion that it is good to expose Rowan to all types of play structures and environments. Each one brings with it it's own valuable attributes and broadens his frame of reference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I might still cringe a little when I see those bright monstrosities in the distance but I will remind myself of this post and set my mind at ease again and if that doesn't work I will just look for that smile on Rowan's face when he encounters something new, challenging and exciting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rowan will be starting preschool later in the year and we had to complete some application forms today. One of the questions on the form was to describe his personality by listing ten adjectives so Richard, Gran and I got to work on our lists and finally came up with the following:

Rowan is happy, bright, humorous, attentive, independent, confident in his abilities, fastidious, careful, well-behaved and sensitive.

The list could have been much longer of course but I think we managed to break it down quite well. I must admit it did feel rather strange to describe him in this way for he is so much more than just a string of adjectives. I did, however, enjoy taking the time to reflect on the person that he has become and couldn't help but wonder just how much this beautiful little being would grow and change as he faces all that life has in store for him.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our little dare devil will try to fly or climb over anything and anyone.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

A toddler can even turn a trip to the post office into a fun event. Running through corridors and strangely shaped spaces looks like great fun doesn't it? It is! I tried it too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

We went to a very familiar place this morning. I think Rowan was quite glad to finally be taken back to this playground since he has been pointing at it every time we drive past saying: "There! There!"

It has been well over a month since I have seen this little guy navigate through this particular obstacle course and I was surprised by the progress he has made. He is now able to climb up the climbing wall unassisted and even attempts to slide down the pole. Gran was patiently teaching him how to go through a particularly tricky obstacle while I got to play with my camera. I got a few action shots of the two of them and will share them with you here.

Rowan has been practicing his flying leaps lately. Yes! Flying leaps!It started by him piling couch cushions on top of each other, climbing on them, where he would then fall into our arms below and when I say fall I mean fall with his body in a horizontal position. Kind of like Superman when he flies.This morning at the playground he saw the opportunity to really add some height to his training and was falling into our arms from a platform very high up. I was wondering whether he would still try to fall down if there was no-one to catch him so I stood back and held my arms to my side. I was very pleased when I realised that he wouldn't do something that irresponsible. Or so I thought.

This afternoon he was playing around with the couch cushions and decided to stack them again, only this time the base was the couch and not the floor which means he added some height to his construction.Gran was with him at the time and thought nothing of this until he started climbing on this tower. Still there was no real need for alarm since he has done this sort of thing many times before. No one would have ever expected him to do what he did next. He stood up nice and straight and then decided to dive/fly without anything to break his fall but the floor. Luckily Gran was able to stop him just in time. Thanks Gran.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We have a new afternoon ritual around here. Rowan wakes up from his nap at around 4 pm. It usually takes him about 30 minutes to be fully awake and then we head outside to his pool. Gran and I grab some chairs and place them next to the pool so that we can sit back and relax with our feet in the cool water while Rowan takes his swim. It's great! Rowan loves the company and we enjoy being able to sit down and enjoy the scenery and Rowan's always entertaining antics. The only thing missing is a cool afternoon cocktail of some sort. I will be sure to arrange this for tomorrow. Hooray for sunny Summer days!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gran and I got quite a surprise this morning when we saw this coming around the corner.

At first we thought that this little guy was taking his independence a little too far and actually wanting to move out having packed almost the entire content of his toy room onto his cart. Luckily he had no such plans. I guess he was just demonstrating how easy it would be to pack up all of his most precious belongings in case of an emergency, or perhaps he felt that the living room would make a much better play room. I am pretty sure though that he just loved the idea that those boxes fit so neatly into his cart. Whatever the reason, the entertainment value was great for all of us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

As I sit down here in front of my computer I don't even know where to begin with today's post. It has been an important day for us - one that seems to require thoughtful reflection...

Today my Mom's funeral service was held in South Africa. We were unfortunately unable to attend and I had to think of a way to mark this momentous occasion in a meaningful way.

My mother has always loved gardening and has always found great pleasure in hearing about Rowan's gardening attempts so we thought of planting a beautiful tree in her honour.

Richard, Rowan and I hopped in the car this morning to collect the tree that we chose over the weekend. Because of the size of the tree we had to take the slower back road to get home. We didn't mind at all. It was a country road that we have never traveled on before and there were interesting and beautiful scenes around every corner. Rowan even turned off his DVD player to take it all in.

Planting the tree marked the end of my own personal memorial service to my mother and so we took great care in honouring the moment and the occasion. We worked together as a team and soon we had a magnificent Scarlet Oak adorning our garden.

It stands in a prominent position - right next to Rowan's sandbox and our outdoor living area. We can see it from all of our indoor living areas too.

It felt so good to plant a tree. As Gran and I stood watering the tree I felt a sense of satisfaction with how our dedication seemed to capture the spirit of the day. I felt quite emotional at this point until, again, a beautifully striking black and white butterfly appeared right in front of us. It circled the tree a couple of times and fluttered about and over Rowan's sand box before it swooped off again completely out of sight.

I am in awe of the beauty and complexity of this world and the lives we live upon it. What a day! What a month! What a lifetime!

Thank you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It was such a beautiful day outside today that we just had to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. (well... just our back yard) Of course this meant actually doing some yard work and Rowan and Richard made a great team as usual. Richard would loosen the ground with the pick axe and then Rowan would move in to remove the big clumps of soil. Occasionally Rowan would spot an earth worm. He would look at them for a few seconds and then try to squash them with one of those lumps of soil. Those poor little things. Eventually I think we managed to convince Rowan that they were actually living creatures that served a great purpose and he seemed to leave them alone.

Isn't this a great way to spend Father's day? Playing in the mud with your son? Perfect!

This evening after Rowan's bath I pointed at Richard and asked Rowan: "Do you like this guy?" and with Richard's assistance Rowan nodded his head. I then asked: "Don't you think you are the luckiest guy in the world to have a father like this?" Again an assisted nod. And finally: "Could you have found a better Dad than this?" No. :)

We are very grateful for our Papa Richard. He is a wonderful father and we love him dearly. Happy Father's Day Daddy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rowan has always been a picky eater, but now, at the age of two, he is also developing some independence. This need of his to break away from needing his parent's help with everything is something we welcome and embrace except when it starts to interfere with his eating habits. Mealtimes are a struggle and we have had to become a little more creative, so this was the lunch he was served today. Doesn't it look scrumptious? Well, I think he did appreciate the presentation to some extent... I'm just glad he nibbled on some healthy food. We will keep offering a variety and introducing new foods whether he's going to eat it or not. What can you do?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rowan has really become quite the clown lately. He knows what to do to make us laugh and he even has the innate ability to wait for our laughter or applause before moving on to the next act.

His performances are simple really - almost minimalist in a way but oh so effective. Mostly because he leaves us wondering: "Now where did that come from?" That question pertains to more than just the specific act at that moment - it also applies to which parents' genes are at work behind the scenes. I know the answer to that question since I have been around Richard for many many years now and I recognise that kind of humour from a long way away.

I guess this makes me a very lucky lady. When I feel sad, worried or upset I can always count on my guys to cheer me up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A warm sunny day means: water play!
Take a good look in and around the pool. All those objects can be re imagined when water comes into the picture. Hours of entertainment. Oh yes! Do you see the hose in Rowan's hand? Well, let me tell you, he keeps us on our toes when he gets hold of it. He just loves aiming it at the boring adults wandering around him and seeing them jump and hearing them scream every time a drop so much as touches them. The look on his face a precious.

Richard bought this shirt for Rowan while I was away. I think it is great! Pow! What a brilliantly apt slogan for a two year old boy to be wearing. Pow! As in bursts of energy or perhaps the sound things make when you bang them together. It could also be the imagined sound when those tiny arms come swinging down onto your belly when you least expect it. Pow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Morning at the "Beach" :)

This morning I decided to treat Rowan and his Gran by taking them for a walk at our version of the beach. Bare in mind it is smack bang in the middle of Ohio, so don't expect dramatic photos of waves crashing against giant boulders or dolphins splashing about in the surf. Nope. Nothing like that, but special in it's one unique way.

I appreciated the peace and calm at the beach on this oh so moody day while Rowan delighted in the fact that there were some earth moving equipment running up and down the beach. There was also a big black Labrador that came to see what Rowan was up to. Then we enjoyed going from one swing to the next. You have to try them all you know! The slide was super high and charged Rowan with an amazing amount of static electricity which turned catching him at the bottom into a whole new experience.

This was a great way to start our day and I am glad to report that the rest of our day went by just as peacefully. Oh! How I love this boy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

In Memoriam: Theresa van Heerden.

We received news this morning that Rowan's Ouma, my Mother, had had a particularly difficult night and that she was indeed in a very serious condition and being cared for at the Johannesburg Hospice.

As a tribute to my Mom I thought it a good idea to take Rowan out to one of the most tranquil and beautiful spots here in our area. It is a wonderful place to clear the mind, relax and spend quality time together . Rowan loves it. I love it.

We had a great time watching the water rush by underneath the bridge. We threw some stones in the water and took a nice long walk. The sun was warm. The sky was blue. All the while I was thinking about my Mom and also my Sister, Yolande, far away across the ocean. In some ways I was wishing that I could be there with them but I also knew that where I was at that moment in time was exactly where I was meant to be. Halfway between the bridge and a staircase that reaches for the sky, a beautiful white butterfly came fluttering alongside us and caught our attention. Rowan chased after it to get a closer look. I chose to take a deep breath and take in the moment with a contented smile on my face. My Mother suddenly came to mind again. A few seconds later the cell phone rang. I ran out of airtime and couldn't answer the call. When we got home there were several messages on the phone and soon after I found out that my Mom had passed away peacefully about an hour before.

This event and those of the past month have lead me to believe that this world, this creation, is a lot more magical and beautiful than we care to acknowledge. Does it matter that I believe that my Mom sent that little butterfly to greet us on our journey along the river? Does it matter whether I am right or wrong? No! For as long as we choose to believe in the magical and the miraculous, life will simply be so.

This post is dedicated to a beautiful woman that brought light and laughter to all that got to know her. She was a loving mother, caring sister, concerned daughter and a loyal friend. She inspired us to keep going when times were hard - to look up, smile and keep moving forward. She was loved by many and she loved many. Her strength, courage, love and compassion will always inspire me to be the best I can be. We will always love her and never forget her. Ouma, we will miss you dearly. Rest in peace, Mom.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A couple of days ago I mentioned how amazing it was to see just how much Rowan has grown over the last month but neglected to highlight the particular instances that caught my attention.

There are the small things such as the way in which he seems to really think about and plan what to do next when moulding his play dough. These photos were taken today. See the textures in the dough? Well, he noticed it too and was quite impressed by his creations.

He has also learnt how to fill his glass with water and how to kick a ball in a predetermined direction. Another skill that he has acquired is to retrieve grass seed from a bag in the garage along with the seed spreader. He then puts the seed in the spreader and starts cranking as fast as he can.

There are many many more little things that I have noticed about his development but the one thing that has made the biggest impression on me is his laugh. Before I left for South Africa he still only really giggled through his teeth at things that amused him. Now, he really laughs from deep within his belly. Divine.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

We woke up bright and early this morning and headed off to one of our favourite street fairs. It was quite a long drive and we were very excited to get to see what interesting hand made products were on offer. Rowan, of course, was interested in everything around him. A stone pillar, a fire truck, dogs taking their owners for a walk and even the trees got his attention.

We knew we were in for a morning of walking and I must mention that I was very impressed by Rowan's stamina. He walked along with us for most of the morning and didn't even complain when wagon loads of little kids his age were being comfortably pulled along by their parents while he had to walk.
There were lots of interesting articles for sale and Rowan keenly engaged with every object that caught his attention. We had to run and intervene when he came to the stall that sold only pottery. We got there just in time.

Slowing down to rest and take in all the ambiance was something we did quite frequently. I just love seeing my guys sitting side by side.

Then it was time for some well deserved ice-cream. Just imagine how much Rowan enjoyed that bite!

In the afternoon after a nice long nap we decided to walk down our road and across the street to check in on the farm animals at the red barn. I am almost sure that Rowan enjoyed this even more than our morning at the fair.

How about that great big smile?!