30 January 2012

Living by the sea...

When I was growing up I always thought it would be the coolest thing on earth to live by the sea. Our family holidays were almost always spent on the KZN South Coast - and those holidays held some of my best childhood memories.

The holidays (which lasted anything from a few days to a few weeks) usually comprised our family and our cousins. They are also three girls, all similarly aged to us, (so it was six girls altogether) plus granny, grandpa, aunties and uncles. I remember long days spent on the beach, from early in the morning, then home for lunch (or lunch on the beach) and then the rest of the day in the sand and water. We always got burnt. We always had hotdogs. We always had ice cream after dinner at night. We all slept together on materesses in the lounge. Those are some pretty precious memories.

But whenever it came time to pack the car and head home I remember always thinking how amazing it would be to actually live by the sea. I vowed to myself many times that when I was a grown up I would live by the sea.

And now I do. And I was right, it is amazing to live by the sea. I've lived here for nearly nine years and I still get excited when I drive down the road and look out over the ocean. When we moved into our new house nearly a eight months ago I couldn't get over the fact that this was the view I would see every day of my life:


And I still can't. In a way, I'm appreciative of the fact that I didn't live by the sea when I was growing up. I think that makes it all the more special for me now. I remind myself every day to be thankful and appreciative of the life that we live. I love that we can, and do, go for walks on the beach or promenade almost every afternoon after work. I love that we spend almost every weekend on the beach. I love that my baby boy is growing up here. I love that this is what I get to see every day too:

Just hanging out, chatting to my dad...

And even though he will have been 'living by the sea' from the day he was born, I will make sure that he is appreciative of that fact. I will remind him all the time not to take for granted that he can walk down to the beach from his house and see what the waves look like from his bedroom window...and I will remind him just how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful place.

27 January 2012

AND WE'RE WALKING...

video

Oh dear. Here comes trouble!

26 January 2012

Mommy meltdown

Being a mom is hard work. This is something I've always known - having had a mother myself and having seen some of my closest friends struggle through the ups and downs of motherhood. But boy oh boy, it's only when you start living it that it becomes really real!

My baby boy has suddenly turned into the cutest, spunkiest, busiest little person I have ever met! He has gone from being a smiley, shy, little baby to being my (mostly) smiley, quite outgoing, very outspoken little toddler! It feels like it happened overnight.

The other day I had what can only be reffered to as a mommy meltdown. It was during lunch time after he threw his food on the floor and and screamed and wailed for what felt like the hundreth time that day. I just fell apart. I was so angry with him - and then seconds later I was riddled with guilt for being angry at him. There had to be something wrong - he wasn't normally like this - but I couldn't figure out what it was.

After getting really mad at him and then bursting into tears myself, I finally took him to his room, spread some toys out and basically just let him do whatever he wanted for a few minutes, with me right there on the floor beside him. He calmed down quickly and I did too. Eventually.

It turned out that there was nothing wrong with him. He was just having what we now refer to as an 'off day'. We are getting quite accustomed to these (as much as you can) in our home: the temper flare-ups, screaming hysterically when he can't get his own way and just generally being waaaay more niggly and tearful than he's ever been! I know that this is probably just par-for-the-course at this age. All the books say it is. I know he's also probably starting to cut molars and they could be worrying him - I know all of this, but it doesn't make it any easier.

All I want is to be a good mommy. He is the most imporant person in my life and being his mom is the most important job I've ever been given. But no matter how many books I read, or how many moms I talk to, I can't stop questioning myself, ever. I am constantly wondering if he's okay, if I'm doing things right - and if this is ever going to get easier!?

It doesn't help that I don't have the one person I want to pose these questions to here with me anymore. I ask her in my prayers at night though.

Motherhood is hard and nothing has ever made me feel quite as challenged and defeated at times.

But it is also rewarding. My little boy showered me with kisses yesterday afternoon when I got home from work. He took my face in his hands and kissed his mommy over and over (well, he leant in with his mouth wide open and let me kiss him - but that's kisses as far as I'm concerned :).

Motherhood may be hard, but it is also wonderful...and nothing has ever made me feel as fulfilled and filled-to-the-brim with love. Ever.

The love of my life

18 January 2012

1st Birthday Party - Unda Da Sea

I've always loved party planning. In fact, I remember (quite vividly) planning sleepovers and parties with my girlfriends from when I was 11 or 12 years old. I would always be the one to whip out the pad of paper and start making lists. I loved lists. I actually still do. Guest lists, food lists, decor lists...the list of list possibilities  is endless when you're planning a party! Especially one of the most important birthday parties you get to plan as a mom - your baby's 1st birthday party!

I'll admit it. I started scouring the Internet and sites like Pinterest to find all things 'Under the sea' a few months back in anticipation of my boy's big day. I was so excited. I don't know how I decided on the Under the Sea theme. I think it was a combination of the fact that he has a nautical themed nursery with a beautiful sea view...and the fact that we spend almost every afternoon on the beach or walking on the promenade. Our lives are quite influenced by the ocean living here and I figured his 1st birthday party should be too.

I tried to do as much party planning before we left for our big overseas trip as possible. He would be turning one while we were overseas and then we would have his party the weekend (um, two days) after we got back. Not. A. Great. Idea.

I am lucky enough to have a couple of really talented women in my group of friends. For this party my BFF from school (who remembers my slumber party planning hysteria days) offered to design all the stationary for my boys' birthday party. She made the most beautiful invitations, thank you tags for favours, bunting, stickers and food name cards (which we forgot to use!). She did such an amazing job sketching and designing the exquisite sea creatures for our precious boy.

I managed to buy most of the decor and goodies (like favours, balloons, bowls etc) before I left and then picked up a few essentials (plastic table cloths, a funky foil hellium fish and an 'I'm One' bib) from an awesome party shop in Vermont! Things were looking good.


Such a big boy!
 What I didn't really take into consideration was the amount of work that needs to be done the day before the party. You know, things like buying and making the food, baking and icing the cake and putting up the decor). I also didn't realise I would be so jet lagged and sleep deprived! N hadn't slept properly since we got back (probably due to the 7-hour time zone difference) and I was so blurry eyed and tired that could hardly function!

All I can say is thank GOD for BFF's who come to the rescue and stay up with you til 2am icing fish-shaped cakes and cupcakes, hanging and blowing up balloons and bunting and generally trying to keep you from having a breakdown - all while you're trying to rock your baby to sleep and not scream hysterically. (There was a moment when I broke down and my BFF was there with much-needed reassuring hugs...). I am so grateful for her. I admit there were tears on my part on more than one occassion during the planning and setting up process . . .even while I was standing in the middle of the grocery store trying to remember what ingredients I needed for some of the food . . . I just wanted to pick the phone and speak to my mom. She always made birthdays so special for us when we were growing up and I am determined to do the same for my boy. I just wish she was here to help me.

The day of the party was wonderful though. All our special friends and family (sadly not my family, but they got to spend his actual birthday with him) arrived and brought beautiful gifts. He had a lovely day. He was full of smiles for everyone and boy did he enjoy his cake! And biscuits. And then more cake...and more biscuits! The party started at 10.30am and by 2pm he was out cold! Completely played out!


I think he really enjoyed his day and we all really enjoyed watching him interact with all his little friends and family members and just be his beautiful, smiley, happy self. There were times during the planning process when I thought maybe I should rather just buy the cake already made and hand the whole thing over to a professional party planner...but I'm so glad I didn't. I am glad he had a fishy cake made by his mommy and her BFF at 1am with a gloopy, droopy eyeball. I glad we did it all ourselves and decided to have the party at home. I hope one day he'll look back on his party pictures and see how much love went into his it. We love him so very much. 


Fish with melty, gloopy eyeball!


I don't think we did too bad for our first time! And I'm looking forward to all the parties I get to plan for him in the future!

17 January 2012

Living, laughing and loving

Like little kids!

Mint M&M's and a White Christmas

Okay, so this blogging thing does not come easily to me. This is quite obvious by the fact that the last time I wrote was in October. Oops. What can I say? Being a full time working mom is time-consuming stuff! Couple that with the fact that I lost any and all inspiration to write towards the end of last year...(a bit of a problem being that I'm a journalist and all...) and, well, no posts!

But! It's a new year and I'm a a new blogger! I'm feeling all inspired to become a good, regular blogger again. No, not again. I never was a good, regular blogger. But I'm determined to become one. And speaking of ONE...

Our little handsome prince turned one year old just a couple weeks ago. How crazy is that? I can't wrap my brain around the fact that he is already a year old. But at the same time I can't believe he has ONLY been around for a year...I can't remember my life without his little face...


But, I think I'll save his birthday party deets for the next post and focus instead on a few other firsts our little one experienced over the last month...

His first overseas trip! My sister, her husband and my niece live what feels like a million miles away (and it may as well be) in Vermont, USA. So, thanks to two very generous gifts of air tickets (from my daddy and my grandad), DH and I were able to take our little boy overseas to meet his three-month-old cousin and to have his first (white!) Christmas.

We travelled with my dad and my little sister (I say little, but she is 22 years old!) and, can I just say that travelling for over 30 hours for anyone is difficult, but travelling for 30 hours with an almost 1-year-old? Brave? Insane? Ludicris? Probably all of the above! But, luckily for us, we just happened to have the most well-behaved little traveller on our team and despite being uncomfortable, tired and in and out of time zones every few hours, our little trooper handled it so unbelievabley well. While he slept for most of the time on many of the long-haul flights, there were long periods of awake-time both going there and coming home and our time was spend crawling and cruising up and down the aisles, smiling at every passenger, chatting to the air hostesses at the back of the plane who would then give us snacks, palying with toys and being passed between mommy, daddy, aunty and grandpa. On our last long-haul flight, after travelling for over 30 hours on our way home another passenger who had been sitting a few rows away came up to me and said "What a good little baby you have - if I hadn't seen him I wouldn't have even known there was a baby on this flight." I beamed with pride.

Hanging out in the giant teapot at Amsterdam airport

The holiday itself was lovely with one of the biggest highlights for me being meeting my beautiful baby niece. She is absolutely precious. And, as much as my big boy really is 'all-boy', little Miss Z is 'all girl'. She's petite and pretty with big beautiful eyes and a smile that never seems to go away. My sister is an amazing mommy and I felt nothing but proud of her mothering skills the entire time I was there. Even now my heart fills with pride...our mom would have been so absolutely and insanely crazy about her two grandbabies.

Petite princess and handsome prince
We spent long winter days inside, eating LOADS of junk food (filling up on all the 'good stuff' we don't get back home like Oreos, Ben and Jerry's, Cinnamon Rolls, Biscuits and gravy, Grits...Mint M&M's (!!!)...the list goes on and on...), and having really good quality family time. We did lots of road trips around Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire (even getting caught in a 7-hour snow storm traffic jam on the highway) and both babies handled the long-haul car trips and freeeeeeeezing weather so well.

YUM!
 Seriously though, I have never felt cold like that before in my life. Having lived in Scotland in the middle of Winter back in the days when I was a backpacking bum, I thought "ah, winter overseas? Cold, snow? I can handle it." What. Ever. This was a cold unlike any I had ever experienced and it must be said that being in that kind of cold with a baby is waaaaay different from being on your own with a backpack! But it was all part of the experience and really, the snow was so beautiful.

A Winter wonderland

We had a picture perfect white Christmas in Maine, with a roaring fire and real Christmas tree that reached the roof. Our little bug opened his first Christmas presents and, as expected, was more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper! We ate, drank and were merry and just so glad to be together on our babies first Christmases.

Opening pressies

Nathan's actual first birthday was spent at my sister's house in Vermont. Although his dad, grandfather and aunty had all come down with a terrible tummy bug (one that myself, my brother-in-law and my little bug had a few days before) we still managed to sing happy birthday and blow out his candle on the special birthday cake that his aunty baked specially for him. The night before his birthday I cried. My little baby is now a little toddler. I cried sad, happy tears.

Mommy's big boy

New Years was a quiet one - it had to be with two little babies. We managed a yummy dinner out and then came home and saw the New Year in on the carpet in the middle of my sister's lounge, listening to music and sipping margerita's and Bud Light.

Before we went out for dinner on NYE my sisters, my dad and I went outside and let off two sky laterns into the night sky.



They were for you mom. It was our second Christmas and we are now into our second year without you. I thought about you so many times on this trip. You would have loved every minute of it. Except the cold maybe! We missed you so much. I miss you so much every day. As I watched the laterns go off I made a decision to try and let you go a little more this year. I want to really live again and really be happy again and try not to cry as much. I know you are with me every single step of this journey and I know that being happy doesn't mean I don't miss you. It means that I am living for you. Laughing the way you would have and giving my little boy a million hugs and kisses every day - the way you would have.

We miss you

So, as we make our way into the new year there is so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. Hopefully I will be able to keep to my resolution of documenting more of the amazing moments life brings me here...