Milestones: 13.

I’m in a real ‘adulting’ mindset at the moment.  I’ve had a meeting with an insurance broker, we are getting Dave’s citizenship underway, our mortgage is up for renewal so I’m in full planning mode around refinancing and I’m really consciously trying to make our house and home work for our family without falling into the trap of obsessing about ‘MORE’.

Always in parallel alongside all of that very boring grown-up, life admin, is the most important job of all – parenting.

With the 8.5 year age-gap between Ethan and Nixon, the past 4.5 years of child milestones feel like they’ve belonged somewhat solely to Nix.  The heady baby days of rolling over, sitting up, his first steps, first word, first day of kindy……….they’ve been freshly imprinted in our family memory banks as they should!  However,  Ethan has moved from single digits into a legit teenager, now 13 and in his first year at high school.  That’s a massive fucking milestone that has crept up on me and literally slapped me in the face at the year 9 parents evening I attended last week.

I was sitting in an auditorium at my old high school, (thank god for kids of Old Girls getting bumped up the ballot!), next to some friends from out west.  I had just downloaded the school app (!!!), which is the most incredible thing ever, personalized with Ethan’s 6-day timetable, the contact info for all of his teachers, an absentee portal +  pretty much everything Dave and I NEED to know about Ethan’s day-to-day school life, when, I looked over at my friends and said; “can you even believe we are here????”

And by believe, I meant, how is it that we have somehow bumbled/guided our collective sons for 13 years to arrive at that point where we were sitting en masse in the largest high school in the country listening to the head of mathematics describe how he planned to teach our kids some really, really complicated shit?

I’ve got no idea how Dave and I did it, raised our son to be the awesome little teen he is today. But, the fact of the matter is, he’s taken Year 9 in his stride and has settled into High School like it’s NO BIG THING.

It’s actually a huge thing and a very worthy milestone to ‘quietly’ recognize.  You won’t be allowed to make a song and dance – because teenagers – so don’t even bother.  But once you’ve sat down with all the other bewildered parents at an orientation evening and listened to the expectations and deliverables required of a Year 9 student, your Mum Brain will be fried, emotional and reaching for the wine crutch.

No?

Just me then.  And I’m totally ok with that.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Teen Milestone high School

Why is high school such a BIG step?

So, so many reasons, but these are the ones that resonate with our family;

  • There’s a legit choice, a sometimes agonizing one, around which college to send your kid to.  When you are making decisions that can potentially affect the educational future of your kid, the process of deciding on the in-zone school or out of zone applications, ballots, interviews, puts the decision front and centre in your kid’s mind as well as yours.  They probably weren’t so invested in the choice of primary school or intermediate but as an active participant in the interview process, Ethan was aware of what was at stake and where he hoped the ballot would fall.
  • Public transport may come into play.  Though Ethan rode a bus to intermediate, his trip to high school is a different route.  Every kid in the neighborhood lined up on the wrong side of the street on the first day of term last month!  Getting home again is just as tricky, there is a large bus bay at his school, but Ethan’s bus leaves from a stop outside the gates – of his massive, massive school.  If his last class of the day is on the far side of the school you bet he’s running to make sure he boards the bus so Mum or Dad won’t be forced into a last minute, hour-long round-trip retrieval!
  • Managing a 6-day timetable.  This has been a super hard transition for E, but we are getting there.  This is where Dave and I have to step in a double check he’s ready for the day ahead before he leaves the house.
  • Learning to move around the school each period and acclimate to a different teacher and classroom for each subject.
  • Homework vs sport vs family expectations vs the god awful game console.  Work in progress for us to be honest, but compared to 3 weeks ago things are on the up and Ethan is settling into a good after-school routine.
  • Social change.  Making new friends and switching up the kids he hangs with has been nothing but beneficial for E, but that’s to be expected.  He’s pretty mellow in the friends’ department and just enjoys spending time with whomever he has a common interest with.  His daily is heading to the gym each lunchtime and shooting hoops with whoever shows up.  I can imagine that this really important time in a teenagers life can be pretty rough waters for some kids as they begin high school and have to navigate new friends and social roles.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Teen Milestone high School

So yeah.  Ethan is Year 9, his first year of high school and simply going about his days like primary and intermediate were simply some distant dream state from which he’s just now emerged.  He’s amazing, capable and confident and I’m just so proud of him.

Hoping your kids have started off the school year in their best possible way also, and if not, be their advocate, be persistent and don’t settle for nods and grunts and non-communication.  Getting your kids talking and keeping them talking through the tween years is sooooo important and will help all of the Big Kid transitions and milestones still to come.

There are many by the way, don’t forget to celebrate them…………….quietly lol.

 

 

Childhood Unplugged

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize it at the moment, but I’m hoping that this Saturday just been will firmly cement itself in Ethan’s head in an “oh yeah, that’s what we did when I was a kid” kinda way.  It won’t be a Best Day of My Life kind of memory, more of the Normal Day in the Neighborhood variety; similar to the memories I have of riding bikes until dark {sans helmets of course!}, playing tennis on the road, rollerskating and pole tennis tournaments.  Awesome memories that make me smile every time I cast my mind back.

E’s rugby coach came and picked him up in the morning to assist in a working bee at the clubhouse.  He got stuck-in with his friends and teammates, scrubbing the tackle-bags, hopefully doing a good job and learning a thing or two about chipping in and helping out, pride in your club and team spirit.  He had a great time by the sounds of it, yet I can’t even imagine what would happen if he was forced to clean anything at home that took longer than 10 minutes – it doesn’t bear thinking about honestly!

Whilst he was at the club, two of his other mates that live close by had popped over twice, desperate to go eel fishing with E in the river.  Despite his protestations, we sent him off to find his friends when he arrived home.  He totally wanted to stay at home, sit on the couch and play Xbox or Clash of Clans or some other waste of summer.  It was worth the fight and the filthy looks as Dave and I knew he’d be stoked within 5 minutes of walking out the door.  These are the battles that are worth fighting.  These are the ones that matter and will have a bigger long-term impact than policing wardrobe choices or riding his ass about every, single manners slip-up.

The three boys had an awesome {muddy} time down at the river and caught themselves an eel which they decided they were going to gut and eat.  They took care of business, hopped on their bikes and headed to another part of the river for an afternoon swim, supervised by one of their lovely Mums {not me, I was in DIY hell with a paintbrush and polyurethane but that’s another story}.  Following this they headed off on their bikes again to the third amigos house where their eel was pan fried and they shared dinner together.

Ethan arrived home on his bike at 8pm with some of their {surprisingly delicious} eel for us to try.  He was tired, happy and satisfied after a day which couldn’t really have had too much more ‘boy’ squeezed into it.  Good, old-school fun with an absolute minimum of screen time.  Loving it!

We live in a pretty special little pocket of Auckland that is very small {at this stage} and still very safe.  Ethan is 10 years old.  It’s time for him to experience independence {within clearly defined boundaries of course!} and having a little bit of freedom on his bike and with his friends is part of that imminent transition from child to teenager that is creeping ever closer.  Without showing him we trust him to make good decisions, he would be bored at home and we would be forever battling the screen.  It certainly helps to know other parents in your community and be able to quickly reach out and communicate with them via text message etc.  If you can find a lovely place for your children to spread their wings in a safe community, it’s worth every penny.

Childhood Unplugged Mummy Blog New Zealand

 

 

 

Who even has a 10 year old anyway?

Life is mental.  Then your eldest son turns 10 and life gets more mental and you just get really  o l d .

On Friday E turns 10 and this means {if my maths is correct} that Dave and I have been parents for 10 freaking years!  What the?!  Double whammy actually as this also means we have been married for, wait for it, 10 FREAKING YEARS!  Yup, we sealed the deal in a classy ceremony in a San Diego courthouse with one month old Ethan as best man – as he has remained to this day.

We have had some seriously good times with this kid, he was our sole team-mate for 8.5 years before graciously becoming the best big brother there has ever been.  He is the kid at school that is super smart and kicks ass in the classroom but also goes pretty hard on the sports field as well.  He sung his heart out on stage last night at the APPA choir festival at the Auckland Town Hall, and Dave was just the proudest Dad ever, constantly sending me pics and messages about his awesome boy.  The nice thing about this is that I sung in the APPA choir when I was Ethan’s age 25 years ago and stood on the same stage at the Town Hall!  There he is 4th from the left in green;

Auckland Kids Choir

Shopping for gifts for a ten year old boy is infinitely harder than then the 9 year old I had last year.  For some reason I cannot fathom the item on the top of his birthday list is this;

WWE Spinner Belt

Hmmm.  Confused?  Same.  That’s apparently a WWE Championship Spinner Belt Replica, which will not (sadly) be coming to live at our house post birthday on Friday.  Wrestling belt, wrestling toy guys, some status update on Minecraft.  And that is it.  The sum total of my big guys birthday wish-list is a bunch of plastic, sweaty men in lycra gear.  Scary stuff.  But, compared to that his real birthday present is freaking awesome!  I cannot wait for Friday morning!

 

 

12/52

“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

IMG_7108

nixon:  just a couple of  guys hanging out.  daddy’s skateboards are amongst your favourite things to crash into the walls, to flip over and spin the wheels, licking them every now and then……. 

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ethan: what a difference a week makes. things {hormones already?} have settled down, new strategies are working so well and I feel like our boy is back.  giving you the opportunity to just ‘be’ in water always grounds you.  must remember this and take you to the pool/ocean/river when you are raging.  very proud of my big for working so hard on his attitude this week xx

linking with www.practisingsimplicity.com

The Plague aka Year 4 Girls

photoTerm 1 draws to a close on Friday and E has started the year as he means to continue; his touch team won the summer club module, he won the backstroke at Swimming Sports and came 2nd in his other events, he has volunteered to assist two special needs kids at school on a rostered basis and is performing at his usual high level both in the classroom and on the rugby field.

The only blemish marring a great 11 weeks at school has been girls.  They have been doing his head in all term.  Whispering, pointed looks, notes, interruptions of lunchtime rugby games and constant attention have just about driven my young man to distraction.  He even booked himself in for not one but two sessions with the school guidance councillor to try and sort through the problems of one so handsome.  My visit to his teacher stomped out the flames of passion for a week or two, but last Thursday one little madam took things to a whole new level.

E came home with his first love letter.

A masterpiece of colored pencil and spelling mistakes {E was very unimpressed with her literary failings!}, this three page devotional made Ethan rethink his previous annoyance with girls, he was quietly chuffed.  She said he was funny, and so nice, and that she actually really did like him and she begged him not to show everyone at school the letter.  He was practically beaming, amazed that someone had taken the time to write all of those nice things about him!

I listened and nodded and shut my mouth even when I wanted to suggest maybe he aim for someone in a higher spelling group.  I was Silent Mama, just happy that he wanted to share this momentous occasion with me.

He arrived at school on Friday morning and was promptly told by said madam that it was all a fake!  An elaborate ruse and she didn’t mean any of it.  My heart broke all the way from Christchurch when Dave text me the news that afternoon.  At least E was stoic and assured his Dad that he gave her the heave-ho as soon as he heard the news.  At rugby practice that afternoon E sought the sage advice of his coach and older, wiser 9yo team mates who assured him that they had been there and that girls just suck.

A little less huss would cause a LOT less fuss in the classroom I’m sure.  Isn’t 8 way too young for this kind of carry on from these girls?  I’m trying to instill the Bro’s before Hoes ethos so he will be prepared for the next girl-sneak attack, too bad E is just so damn nice!

 

A4A Blog Carnival | Day 2 These are a few of my favourite things

I am participating in wegohealth.com’s Advocating for Another (A4A) Carnival – Parenting Edition.  This is a month long event where health and parenting advocates write, share and enjoy!  The FB page can be found here for more info + grab the parenting prompts here and join in!  The blog carnival runs from August 21-28, 2012.

 Day 2: These are a few of my favourite things

After yesterdays gushing post about my son, he knocked one out of the park with more of the epic bad behaviour we have been seeing since returning home from our trip.   Needless to say he has be banned from TV watching for 3 days and banned from Ninjago toys for the same period.  He got off pretty lightly I think.  I am really struggling with his sassy mouth and the constant back chat.  What I wouldn’t give for a few simple responses of “YES!”.

But I digress.

I have many favourite things about Ethan, here are a few;

  1. Ethan is brave.  He will try anything once, sometimes not twice but always once.
  2. He will eat anything, he has an exceptional palate and enjoys food which makes eating as a family so much fun
  3. He is very loving {when he is not being bad of course!}
  4. Ethan is super complimentary.  He has learned this from his Dad.  He will tell me when I look nice, when my hair is looking awesome, when I need to buy that outfit – his honesty when shopping is def appreciated!  His girlfriend will be stoked one day.  He certainly knows how to make you feel like a million bucks.
  5. Ethan’s perfectionism is actually something that endears him to me.  I appreciate someone who always strives to achieve at their best.
  6. I love Ethan’s legs.  They are thick and strong.
  7. Ethan has the best giggle.  When it bubbles up it is loud and hard to contain.
  8. I love this boys smarts.  Recently while walking the Santa Monica Pier, I had to stop my feet and just look at him.  He was going on and on about snakes, admittedly I had half-tuned him out {don’t judge, you know you do it sometimes!}, but then I realised he was listing all of the different types of Pythons, WITH DESCRIPTIONS, Bubba style.  Amaze.
  9. Ethan’s feet, I LOVE, though 99% of the time they are filthy and torn up – my kid does not like shoes.  Summer, winter the shoes come off as soon as he gets to school.  I’m talking 8.30am.  They never get put back on.  One pair of school shoes has lasted him this whole year!  That’s surely some kind of record.  Even Grandaddy Ray in Georgia (think snakes) couldn’t believe how feral Ethan’s feet were.
  10. I love that boys hair.  It’s as wiry as straw, you can brush it and five minutes later it will look like he just rolled out of bed.  I’m fairly certain you could make one of those sweeping-broom-brush things out of his hair that would last through the ages.  It’s thick and it grows like weed – long may that continue aye Dave!

Are you blogging along?  What are some of your favourite things about your child?

Far North Snapper

A4A Blog Carnival | Day 1 Portrait Post

I am participating in wegohealth.com’s Advocating for Another (A4A) Carnival – Parenting Edition.  This is a month long event where health and parenting advocates write, share and enjoy!  The FB page can be found here for more info + grab the parenting prompts here and join in!  The blog carnival runs from August 21-28, 2012.

 Day 1: Write a descriptive portrait of your child/ren.  Share qualities that make them, them – and include an image!

The hardest part about this post is beginning.

I feel like Ethan is a mini-me in a mini-Dave’s body.  His physicality has always been apparent right from a very young age.  He was always a large child who loved to be held and adored close contact.  He is still a very touchy, affectionate boy, but one who has no concept of the brute force his body can exert!

His feet are broad and high, his little toenails on each foot are split just like his Dad’s are, his calf muscles, thighs, his whole damn body right up to the freckles on his nose are his daddy’s.

Ethan is strong physically but also mentally.  He may be described as obstinate, dominant, stubborn, wilful, precocious, proud and competitive with a sassy mouth, but he is more than that.  He is loving, sensitive, kind and very generous.  He is quick to show his emotions whether they are tears or anger.  His temper is all mine.

Ethan is a very talented writer and artist who loves to read.  Maths is not his thing though he does just fine in this subject.  School is easy for Ethan.  His teachers enjoy him as do his peers and he has a bevy of lovely friends whom he has played with for years now.Melissa and Ethan

Ethan is both sportsman and scholar.  Watching him swim so beautifully is a strange feeling as it is almost at odds with his haphazard, forceful physical presence out of the water.  In contrast, he is so suited to Rugby physically, yet he also needs Rugby for the valuable lessons it gives him in teamwork, respect and being one small part of a greater good.  Swimming is self-discipline, self-reliance and self-motivation for Ethan, Rugby is everything else – family, co-operation, belonging, selflessness.

Ethan is my greatest joy from which I never tire.  He is difficult to understand, and for some difficult to deal with, but I recognize him.  His language, his subtle nuances of personality and his perfectionism are also mine.

I love you Ethan Jack.

{I’m sorry Dave Jack, you are forever stuck with the two of us lol!}

 

 

School Holidays | Take Your Kid to Work Day

I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before how lucky I am that I have a Mama-Friendly workplace.  School holidays are fortunately never an issue which is just as well as we are all parents of youngish children and our wonderful boss lets us rearrange our schedules to suit.  I did mention to the owner of our company today that the holidays were a bit of a lucky dip as far as his workers go, he never quite knows who is going to turn up and when!

Ethan has a swimming intensive this week, so everyday at 12.45 he is in the pool.  He came in with me this morning before his lesson and the time just flew by.  He gets all of the stationary out, relishes the fact that he can print Ninjago pictures in COLOUR, lounges in the empty office and watches Monster Bug Wars on YouTube……..

I made the mistake of showing him how the phone system worked today.  He was much more keen to hang out downstairs once he could call me every five minutes just to check in and ask if I was ok and did I need him for anything.  Cutie.  He also called his Dad at work, wasted some of his time and really had a grand old morning playing receptionist!

Take your Kid to Work Day!

How do you manage the school holidays as a working or SAH parent?

“That word that has -ex on the end”

Louie has been beside himself with joy at moving in with Molly and Marley but the mystique of living with a female is driving Lou to distraction.  This has not escaped the notice of our observant child.
Louie’s ‘hunting’ was so prolonged on Sunday his lipstick popped out and he couldn’t move! Ethan thought we were going to have to take Lou to the vet; how to tell him he wasn’t hurt just horny?
After some consideration E has decided that Louie and Molly must be married, because {OF COURSE!!!} they are doing that thing that ends with EX that married people do.  Mmhmmm.
Oh god. Of all the things I thought four dogs in one house would bring it wasn’t sex education.  DAMN SHI-TZUS!

The Bug in the Photo Frame

You know those little annoying 5min jobs that you put off and put off until it becomes so ridiculous that you haven’t done it yet that the job just becomes a write off?  No?  Perfect?  Well done.

Some of our friends in San Diego framed a photo taken of Ethan a day after he was born.  It is a beautiful, extravagant frame with a lovely beaded matt and totally unlike anything I would pick for myself.  There has been a bug preserved under the glass in this frame for about three years – I really should have named him and started a Facebook page, however I digress.

Ethan has been fighting a major head cold all week.  I know this for a fact as he has been sleeping in our bed with me while Dave nurses his big new tattoo on a mattress on the floor {Ethan’s room is currently undergoing a major makeover so we are all camping together. yay}.  He has soldiered on at school all week but today just wasn’t going to fly.  He got dressed, all ready to go and then I had a long hard look at him and realised that it didn’t matter if I didn’t get paid today;  my boy was sick and needed a day in bed.  At this point I had forgotten about my nifty remote access which means I can indeed work from home, but it was time to get my priorities in order.

So there we were, Ethan rugged up and watching fishing shows, me deciding that a day when I can finally clean the bug from the photo frame really wasn’t that much of a sacrifice anyway.

Sick little boy