Dream boy

I took this photo of Finny on the boys' birthday. He was lying looking at the clouds and contemplating aloud the lengthy conversation he'd had with my sister Shona (who lives in Australia) the night before.

She had suggested that I mail him to her in a box so he could visit. He was very philosophical about this method of travel. He had a few stipulations: could the box please be a people sized box so that he could "stretch out my legs". He also asked if the box could be equipped with a few
"peanut butter sandwiches wif jelly, cut down in the middle with no crusts-PLEASE" and some "milk in a cup". He thought a flashlight may be nice, also his PJ's, his pillow and blanket and his blankie. He very practically suggested that he have some pull-ups on hand since there would be an absence of "facilities". But no toys. If he did not take any of his own toys he was sure Shona would provide some new ones when he arrived , and he was willing to go without entertainment for the many sleeps in the box in order to guarantee himself some new toys.

He became increasingly concerned though, about taking the trip solo. He asked if I could maybe take the box containing him to 'Stralia personally, I told him that no, only the mail-carrier is allowed to handle the box.

He then quite brilliantly suggested that if I were to drive the mail truck then we could remain together. He was a little disappointed when this was not to be either.

We then told him that after the box had been in a truck for a while it would be put on a boat "like in Madagascar". I expected him to become profoundly less enthusiastic after that since the animals in the box in Madagascar did not seem too thrilled with their mode of transportation, not to mention they took a bit of a detour. Frankly, I would have been in a tail-spin if this was to be my fate, but he only smiled mildly.

As the time for his departure grew closer (in his mind) he began to plead more vigorously for some companionship in the box. He chose Gracie to accompany him as he did not want the boys "to miss their birthday" or me to be taken from them on their birthday.

As his enthusiasm wavered, Shona enticed him with tales of going to the beach, no bed-time, seeing her dogs and as much chocolate as he could eat. He started to negotiate:

"How 'bout....she just brings her dogs here to visit..."

"How 'bout I don't have to go in a box and then I won't get chocolate or get to go to the beach but I can still see the dogs?"

"How 'bout we all go togever in a plane to 'Stralia'? "How 'bout, Shona comes here to get me and then I can go in a plane wif her, and sit on her lap, and those two guys can sit in the front and drive the plane..."

Eventually I gave the poor kid a break and told him that I had changed my mind, I would miss him too much and he was not allowed to go in the box. The tales of chocolate and dogs, and the beach and never-ending days still have him 'Stralia dreaming though. Me too.

How 'bout this boy stays aged 4 for a few more years? Please?

Birthday report!

Firstly thank you so much to all those who commented on the boys' blog. They were absolutely delighted, it was almost miraculous to them :) So without further ado, here is a look at their big day.

This is what it looks like when you wake up on your 8th/10th birthday and find out that your Dad took the whole day off work just to spend it with you!

This is what it looks like when you see the balloons and really realize that it is really and truly your birthday at last! Happy birthday, brother!

This is what it looks like when your little siblings wake up on your birthday. They have been almost as excited for it as you have been!

This is what it looks like when you get a Webkinz for your birthday. Welcome Sam and Snappy!

This is what it looks like when you open a Wii-mote each and your mom tells you happily that this is so you can have your own remote when you play with your friends' Wii. Oh. Yeah....that's great...Thanks. That will be just as good as having our own.

This is what it looks like when your mom says, oh yeah she thinks they may have one more gift for you somewhere.

This is what it looks like when you pass out from joy.

This is what it looks like when you finally get a bowling alley in your living room.

This is what it looks like when your mom does that kind of dorky thing (that you secretly like) with holding you like a baby and giving you lots of kisses and singing happy birthday at exactly 12:46pm which was the first time she got to do that 10 years ago.

This is what it looks like when your family from South Africa and Australia call you to sing Happy Birthday to you. Was Uncle Luke playing his electric guitar or was that just static they want to know?

This is what it looks like when you have fun at the pool with your friends on your birthday.

This is what it looks like when you have to use two whole hands to show how old you are when you go out for dinner on your birthday.

This is what it looks like to be 8 at your birthday dinner

This is what it looks like to play tennis with your family on your birthday after you have played tennis on the Wii for a few hours. Oh..you have to run? Right! Ok.

This is what it looks like when your mom does that embarrassing thing that you secretly like when she picks you up like a baby at exactly 6:01pm on your birthday and kisses you and hugs you and sings Happy birthday to you just like the first time she got to do that at this time 8 years ago. The bells at the university were ringing for Gabe at that moment too. It was quite cool

This is what it looks like when your brother styles your hair in the line at Dairy Queen on your birthday.

This is what it looks like when you enjoy a mud-slide blizzard on your birthday. Mmmmmmmm...

This is what it looks like to be 8 and 10. (We take turns being in focus)

Thanks for sharing our day with us! We think it's going to be a great year.
Here's a link to their super cool Halloween/birthday party 

Happy Birthday Benj! Happy Birthday Gabe!

10 years ago a very special human being was born...

On the day he turned two he got a little red "Karrrr" (which still lives in our backyard). His mommy came home from the hospital to watch him opening his presents. She did some moaning and groaning until he told everyone to stop singing Happy Birthday because he thought it was what was causing the moaning and groaning. He was such a sweet and considerate two year old.

He also got a set of golf clubs...

But best of all..

He got a little brother. He was a super special human being too.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship

with many bed-headed birthday morning photos like this

Happy birthday to "The Guys". We love you both oh so, so, soooo much. Thank you for being such kind, smart, happy, good and lovely people. We could not have dreamed of more wonderful sons who are already respected and loved by those that know them. We feel amazingly blessed to have the Benj and the Gabe in our home and family. Hope you each have a very special and memorable birthday!
Here's the full birthday report

*Edited to add: Please stop by Benj and Gabe's blog to wish them and see Bed-Head 2008!

Iron Man!

*Warning: This post has been rated G for Gushy. Some content includes accolades and shameless bragging.

There appears to be a universal unbreakable law. Perhaps it is not universal but a law unbreakable nonetheless in the confines of our household. It is a law that decrees that there is to be frantic activity and ridiculous over-scheduling or idle wallowing. Nothing in-between. It is the All or Nothing Law and it came to fruition this week in a perfect storm of sporting endeavours:

Benj was the unfortunate fellow in the eye of the storm. Here is a sampling of his schedule this week:
8:15 am leave for (highly intensive) soccer camp. Our soccer club imported a very nice young Dutch fellow who is presumably enough of a soccer expert to be imported. He also became increasingly sunburned over the course of the week as he did his best to kill our children by way of exhaustion. (But they would die with great foot-skills by golly, and that is what counts, is it not?)

11:15 am picked up from soccer camp go directly to swimming lessons

12:15pm drive home for lunch and to hurriedly change back into soccer gear.

12:45 pm leave home for afternoon (highly intensive) session of soccer camp. He was the only person to participate in 2 sessions (the afternoon session was for the older boys/teens) but the gracious soccer powers-that-be had allowed him to participate in the afternoon if he liked, due to the fact that he would be missing 45 mins in the morning because of swimming classes. He, in what I consider an insane move, decided that this was exactly what he would do. Our Benj is nothing if not driven. We hope this results in wealth one day rather then complete physical and mental breakdown. Wealth would be far more fun for us all.

1:00 pm Extricates himself from neurotic mother and her embarrassing inquiries over whether he has enough to eat/drink/protect him from the sun/ease his pain in the form of ibuprofen.

(He in true male fashion, denied feeling pain but adopted a old woman type hobble mid-week. He claimed it was from unevenly worn cleats. Stoic little chap. Also a wise little chap who knows his neurotic mom will put the kibosh on further activities if he admits to hobbling like an old woman from over-exertion.)

4:20pm Staggers through the door. To put this in context, the people doing the one session were completely wrung out after one session and they did not have to contend with swimming classes, an extra soccer session and...

6:00pm Tennis class!

7:00pm Soccer Scrimmage

8:45pm Staggers through the front door. Note that this grueling schedule did not result in a decreased need for us to shout and threaten kids about not talking and going to sleep already at 10pm after they had been in bed for over an hour. Kids are freaks.

Impressively at the end of the week, Benj participated in the prize-giving with the older group and won "Most Promising Player". He was also the youngest player. Go Benj! His coach commented on his great willingness to learn and work hard.

On Friday all 4 kids also graduated to the next level of swimming! Yay kids! Gracie and Finny got several opportunities to go off the diving board. Yesterday when we went to family swim, Gracie jumped off it sans life jacket and swam all the way to the other end of the pool, which freaked me out somewhat when she did not emerge on the side I was watching for her.

At swimming again, Benj's outstanding diligence and eagerness to learn and practice was noted. I am so proud of his work ethic and determination. Even if he was a rubbish soccer player (which surprisingly, given his lack-lustre gene pool, he is decidedly not,) I would be so very proud of our boy for genuinely always doing his best. As my dad would say (in my case it was in admonishment), this kid is willing to pay the price.

All four kids have also been participating in the push-up challenge. They are getting ripped man! ;)

Of course, after Monday of next week, there are no activities whatsoever.

This week I participated in the lesser known sports of Xtreme nose blowing and Head holding. For the first half of the week I had a migraine and for the second half I experienced a potent dose of allergies, the likes of which I have not grappled with since I held the title of Snot Queen of Johannesburg in my early youth. I would express great sympathy for those who have to deal with either of these conditions on a chronic basis, but since I currently feel another migraine coming on, and I am systematically working my way through a large box of Puffs Plus and figuring out a way to scratch my nose, eyes, and throat simultaneously. So perhaps I will just feel sorry for myself. This comes easily to me.

In closing I would like to note the following:

This time 10 years ago I was not yet a mom. I was at a prenatal exercise class, very cranky and very insistent that I was NOT having this baby any time soon, I still had a week to due date for goodness sake and it was my first baby, why did people keep saying I was going to have the baby any moment now? My water broke about 10 mins after having a big rant along these lines to Aaron after his mother called to say she just felt that I was about to have the baby.

This time 8 years ago, I was watching the movie The Perfect Storm with my friend Kim. She had come to help us out with Benj when I had Gabe as we'd just moved and knew no-one well enough to ask them to stay with our precious only child (once you have your 4th you are asking the girl who packs your groceries if she is available on short notice) . Ironically, I'd never met her either, she was my brother's girlfriend. She lived in Vegas, he lived in SA (long story). He took pity on me and asked her if she could help and without a moment's hesitation she took 10 days off work and hopped on a plane. I'm certain it was the most boring 10 days of her life. She is a saint.

Anyway she had been suggesting that Aaron and I go out instead of she and I since it would be our last chance in a while. I said," oh of course not, no baby ever arrives on their due date, let alone their older sibling's birthday, Aaron and I will go out tomorrow night, or next week when the baby still has not come". I went into labour that night/early am.

I'm starting to sense a pattern of not being in touch with my body and also a tendency toward denial

Anyway, it's been a great 10 years. A decade of motherhood deserves special mention right? So long as you don't mention it on the actual birthday of the actual birthday child. Because then they write books like Mommy Dearest about you. But today that is my justification for making a key lime pie and consuming most of it myself. Which is what I am about to do. Until next time...
AaaahhhhhhCHOO, Ahhhchooo..... to you and you and you!

Brotherly Love

I caught Gabe and Finny watching TV early the other morning. When I don't have my glasses on I have trouble telling the difference between them when they are both seated. They even have the same bed-head. They absolutely adore each other. Can you tell? I'm not sure what they were watching on Playhouse Disney that was so troubling.

Love the matching crossed legs and expressions

Musical Motivation

So how's everyone doing with the push-ups? I was incredibly sceptical going into this endeavour as you know, however shockingly enough I have been able to complete the requirements of each day with major incremental improvement. Furthermore, I don't feel the need to review my will and say a last goodbye to all my loved ones each time I get down to doing my sets for the day. This is progress! I had Aaron take photos of me about a week and a half into this and I could see definite improvements already. In my shoulders, back, arms, the whole upper body situation is so much more toned. I am prone to getting a bit Mr. Universe-y, but better huge guns then huge bat-wings methinks.

So, push-ups, they work for me! The push-up program-working for me too. Is it working for you?

And here is a motivational nugget for you this fine day. Like most people, I love music. I rely heavily upon it when I run. (Purist runners may deride but it works for me).

I find it most motivating when I save it as a big auditory treat. So here's my tip: I only allow myself to listen to my iPod when I run (and occasionally when I clean, but same-same). I listen to music in my car and at home and all that too, we don't live in a monastery here, but my favourite, most pump-you-up and get going songs are reserved exclusively for running. Not only does this serve as additional motivation to get out there, (today for instance, can't think of anything less enticing then running but I just downloaded several awesome songs I am dying to listen to). It also keeps the pump-you-up and get going songs fresh and motivating. Because let's face it, after a while even the most awesome tunes lose their adrenaline inducing power. It's a very simple little thing, but it really works for me. Ask your friends to share their favourite work-out songs with you, you may find some new favourites.

While I'm on the subject, I've mentioned my devotion to this product before. Ye olde Nike + iPod That devotion remains true. Other then the fact that Paula Radcliffe has taken to congratulating me each time I complete 5K by informing me that that I have just completed another 500km (I may need to re-set something), this works for me.