Category Archives: parenting & family

Culture shock. Again.

Just when I think that maybe twelve years is enough to give me an exemption from culture shock, another layer of it comes.

And really, I know better.

Every few months I hear a phrase I’ve never heard, understand a pop culture reference that previously went over my head, or am baffled by something I see on an Aussie TV program and I’m struck with a tiny little bout of culture shock, which fades as quickly as it landed.

This morning it happened while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

You guys, the motions are different here. *gasp*

What?? Seriously?

Yup, for real.

Instead of flicking their entire hands from clinched fists to fingers extended like blinking lights, they extend all ten fingers wide and make them wiggle tiny little wiggles. (Like I would make to demonstrate rain.) The movements are small and delicate… kind of like twinkling stars. 

Imagine that.

And maybe this is a little thing, but it kind of spun me out.

I realized that the songs I’ve been singing to my littles at home will be taught differently at kindy or preschool or when they’re watching Playschool on the telly. Sometimes it’s the motions that are a bit different, and sometimes the tune actually varies!

I’ve seen this before but kind-of brushed it off, thinking that the person I saw or heard must not know the song properly. But now it’s starting to sink in that they do know the song properly… just differently to me.

As silly as it sounds it’s sent me into culture shock all over again.

Different is not wrong, it’s just different” is my motto when it comes to all things culture-shock-ish, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like it my way better. (Just keepin’ it real here, friends.)

Anyway, I will continue to teach my kids the American version of things (it’s called the “trunk” of the car, not the “boot”) and their dad and everyone else around them can go all Australian on them I guess. Cuz even if my littles are Aussie, and end up doing everything the Aussie way, at least maybe they can understand a tiny bit of their American heritage too. Even if it is just the way we sing I’m a Little Teapot.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you experience culture shock in your own family? Maybe you and your partner aren’t from different nations but you might have very different family backgrounds or life experiences. How do you meld two worlds into one?

 

Love,
A

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When your littles share a bedroom…

There are so many upsides to having the boys share a room. They play with all the same toys anyway. It feels like they are practically in the same size clothes. “Kid stuff” is mostly contained in one room of the house, rather than stashed in every nook and cranny. I believe it helps promote learning to share and respect and play and work together. Bonding. Yup, lots of reasons.

But there are also a couple of downsides.

Today at lunch Judah was yawning and ready for bed. Soon after he finished I changed him, read the boys stories, and put them in bed.

Several minutes later I heard giggling and slapping. I peeked in the door to see Judah on his knees, rocking side to side, slapping his thighs, grinning and “singing” loudly. (My kiwi friends will be pleased to know that I’m almost positive he was doing the “haka”.)

He was happy as a clam and hyper as a… a… I don’t know. A kid who ate fruit loops for lunch? (He didn’t, by the way.)

Of course Levi finds this hilarious so he is in his bed copying and laughing, until I open the door when he dives for cover and pretends to be sleeping.

Most days I’d work really hard to get the boys both sleeping at the same time (they really do need it, and so do I) but every once-and-a-while I just don’t bother. I figure – they’re happy and they will have days where they wind each other up too much. As long as they stay in there and give me some space, I can deal with a few shrieks of laughter and harmless “naughtiness” during nap time. They’ll go to bed early tonight and I’ll cross my fingers that there won’t be too many melt-downs in between.

And I must admit, it’s kind of fun to snoop through a cracked door and watch the boys bonding and having so much fun… even if it is during nap time.

 

Q for you: Did you share a room growing up? If so, do you have fond memories of it? If you have kids, do they share?

 

Love,
A

 


What if your kid becomes instantly famous?

I can’t watch talent shows anymore without thinking, “what if that was Levi?” (Or Judah.)

It’s crazy to think that in fifteen or twenty years time, one of them could find themselves on a show like The Voice (our current favorite).

When I was a kid I would have watched wondering, “what if that was me one day?” but now my mind automatically leaps to the next generation.

All parents want to raise their kids to have good character and be able to handle themselves well under pressure. But what about the pressure of fame?

What if I was to raise my kids now as if they might someday be instantly famous? What if I was to pour as much into seeing them develop in integrity, self control, kindness, generosity, and humility that they could perhaps one day handle that kind of pressure – the weight of the spotlight?

The thought of that scares me a little. (Okay, a lot.)

Ultimately, I’ll do the best I can. But I’m so glad it doesn’t solely depend on me.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What character traits do you think are most important for a person who ends up becoming famous?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Groaning in the cold, dark

I lay in bed and the world around me is silent except for the sounds of life, resting.

A few feet away I hear tiny baby breaths and sighs. Next to me I hear heavy and rythmic husband breaths and sighs. And through the open internal door to the next room I hear toddler breaths and sighs.

We share rooms and a heater between the four of us.

Everyone sleeps but me.

Moments later baby stirs. I lay still, barely breathing, hoping he will not wake.

He rolls over. Back asleep.

I sigh with relief just as he stirs again, this time waking with an abrupt cry.

It sounds angry.

After eight months I wonder when he will ever sleep through the night. Except for a few nights he regularly wakes up all throughout the night. Sometimes every two hours, leaving me with four or five or sometimes six hours of sleep, usually broken into several chunks.

I groan and move, not wanting to face the cold night air.

No one said parenting would be easy.

I pull him into bed with me and nurse, nurse, nurse. Wondering how long I can continue on interrupted sleep (and insomnia in between).

I remember that mothers all over the world and all throughout time have done as I’m doing.

Strength.

The days are long but the years are short so I don’t want to waste this time being anxious about the dark hours.

And yet I’m so tired. So, so tired.

I remind myself that this time last year I was about to find out that his life might not be what we thought or expected. And now him being here with us, just like he is – healthy, perfect – is a miracle. Surely I can find the grace for one more night.

And perhaps tomorrow night too.

But my goodness, I’m so tired.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How do you cope with less-than-ideal seasons of sleep?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Would you pay someone to potty train your kid?

A friend of mine posted on her facebook about services she heard of where they will potty train your kid for you. The cost ranges from $400 for a week to $700 an hour. (What??!)

I think this is tragic.

Potty training is such a personal process and achievement for our littles.

They trust us to help them learn. They need our encouragement. They look to us for affirmation. They deserve our respect.

As parents it’s our role to guide them through this personal transition.

I don’t have a problem with other close adults helping (grandma, etc.), but to hire a service to come in and do it for us like we’d hire out our lawn maintenance or housecleaning? (I’d totally pay for a cleaner if I could afford it!)

But contracting out potty training?

Wrong. I just think it’s seriously wrong.

I understand that many parents are daunted by the task (I was one of them), but that doesn’t justify delegating it out to a stranger.

Imagine how the child must feel to have a stranger come in and direct this personal of rite of passage. (So disrespectful.)

We hire trainers for our dogs perhaps, but not for our small children.

Potty training, manners, character, life skills – all of this should be taught first, and foremost in the home by the parents. (And reinforced elsewhere like church, day care, school, therapy, or whatever.)

Let’s not abdicate our role as parents, even when it’s inconvenient or hard.

Geeze.

 

STOP.

 

Q for you: Come on parents, tell me you’re with me on this one. Would you ever hire someone to potty train your kids if money weren’t an issue?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


*Poof* Out of nowhere

The kids are both in a phase right now where they’re literally amazing us every single day.

It’s like they wake up and think… what new thing can I get up to today?

Levi spouts out new words as if he’s always said them.

“Oh, it’s windy!” he said the other day when we got out of the car.

All I could do is look at him and say, “yes, yes it is windy.”

We didn’t teach him that word – at least not in the repeat-after-me-I’ll-name-it-for-you kind of teaching.

He just learned it by picking it up.

A small example, but every day now he says many, many things along these same lines.

Seeing that little brain just explode with information and vocabulary is seriously awesome to me.

Not to mention potty training. By two hours into it he was already telling us when he had to go. And after the first two days he was waking dry from naps. And this morning (day five) he woke dry from overnight.

Hello, we aren’t even training him for overnight yet. We’ve kept him in diapers at night! Obviously he’s training himself. Smart cookie.

And Judah’s the same.

All of a sudden today he just stood up on his own and stayed there for seconds before falling. He didn’t pull himself up on anything, didn’t have assistance, he just stood.

At eight months old (yesterday) he’s seriously freaking me out the way he’s determined to move along. No doubt he’ll be an early walker.

And I guess that’s the thing with milestones. There’s all this developmental work in the background that’s going on that you can’t see… and then one day *poof* – it’s as if their skill emerges out of nowhere.

I wonder how much of that we lose as adults, obsessed with finding the quickest solutions and shortest routes to success. We want to skip straight to the results and rarely give time to work hard and build behind the scenes where no one can see us or where there’s nothing to show for our hard work and investment.

Or maybe that’s just me?

In any case, I’m completely astounded with my ambitious little boys at the moment.

They are so entertaining. And so fun to watch and learn from.

STOP.

 

Q for you: When’s the last time you witnessed a skill emerging from what seemed like thin air? (In an adult or a child.)

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


A fifteen hour work day. Again.

At 10:00pm tonight I had finally finished with unpacking the groceries, putting away the clean dishes, loading the dirty ones in the dishwasher, finishing the laundry, and giving a quick wipe of the kitchen sink and counters.

That’s a fifteen hour work day right there. And that’s not including checking or responding to emails or anything ‘admin’ related. (Or personal stuff – like writing here on my wee blog!)

I’m not saying that to complain (though sometimes I desperately want to complain about it).

I’m saying it because I used to think it really sucked when I had to work late – until 6:00 or 7:00pm.

And now here I am at 10:00pm and I’m just now sitting down alone for the first time today. (When your job is like mine you work through your “lunch break” on a daily basis.)

The thought of sitting down in the evenings and zoning out in front of the telly is very appealing, but even that seems hard to come by these days.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me almost 2.5 years, but I think I’m just now figuring out how different my life really is since having kids.

I’m just now figuring out that I actually can’t compare it to “life before” when it comes to work hours and down time or else I just get depressed!

I wouldn’t trade my job if I could. Really.

But it is hard, and tiring, and consuming.

I have days (like yesterday) when I’m ready to call up a day care centre and see how much it costs to send the kids there. Seriously.

While at the same time I know what an absolute privilege it is that I’m able to stay home with my kids. (Something not every mom who desires to is able to do.)

I’m blessed. Tired, and blessed.

(And for the record, I know that everyone has days they want to quit their job. Being a SAHM isn’t any different – I realize that.)

Anyway.

Tomorrow morning I will get up and start all over again.

Rejoice!

STOP.

 

Q for you: Are you a SAHM? If so, are you deliberate about “clocking off” at a certain hour? Or do you find yourself pulling lots of late nights like me? How do you build in margin??

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Like a wave

It caught me by surprise.

He climbed up onto the side bar of the swing set yelling, “Watch, mommy!” over and over again.

I’ve heard that phrase many times before.

But this time it came from a little boy with striped socks, a zippered hoodie dotted with robots, too-long hair covering part of his eyes, and green “big boy undies” peeking out the top of his just-too-short-jeans.

Like a wave it hit me – my baby is not my baby anymore.

This is not my first “moment” in motherhood. Nor will it be my last.

But today in that 4:00 shadow where my son enjoyed his freedom to climb and jump and be his funny, brave, amazing self… I realized the one who made me a mom is a boy I must get to know all over again.

I’m so proud of him. And yet I want to hold on to him just the way he is. Right now.

Dang. I love him so much it hurts.

STOP.

 

Q for you: When’s the last time you wanted to freeze time?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Gush gush

It’s far too late to be writing anything coherent tonight, but I’ve just now finished a few hours worth of editing my last two months of photos. (Otherwise known as deleting about five thousand similar shots of blurred little people.)

Oh, it feels good to finally be caught up on that little area of my life. (Prepare for an onslaught of Booker boys on facebook over the next week.)

I actually don’t intend to write tonight except to say this:

Lately my heart is bursting for my little boys.

Obviously I always love them (and would probably always say something similar), but at the moment they are just killing me with the cute. And the new skills. And the personality.

Everything.

Gush, gush, gush, I could write a massive old gush. (But I won’t. I’ll save that for their personal blogs that I write without succumbing the world to.)

And since it’s approaching the coach-turning-into-a-pumpkin hour, I will just finish by saying this:

My eyes are heavy but my heart is full.

Thankful, I am.

STOP. (early)

 

Q for you: Are you an out-loud gusher? Or do you prefer to just reflect internally on your emotions?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


When I just want to workworkwork

Some days, when all I really want to do is work. work. work., what I actually need most is to play.

There’s a very real part of me that feels the need to accomplish.

I’ve wondered if this is a negative thing – a drive to perform or a search for worth.

But I’ve decided it’s not. I feel free of those traps.

I’m an achiever, an activator, a make-it-happen sort of person. And I’m realizing that, by personality, this need to accomplish will never go away. It’s part of who I am.

And it’s not a bad part. It’s good.

I just need to know when to say when and realize that during this season, even though my wiring hasn’t changed, I have to change my expectations of what that looks like.

Because my reality is very much taken over by little boys who need a present mama.

(And that’s a good thing. I love them, so. And I want to be with.)

So on days like today when I want to workworkwork, I find it best to get in the car and gogogo. Get out of the house (and away from the pull of THE LIST) and go play.

As much as I love making things happen and accomplishing, I’m pretty sure I won’t be sending my kids off to school in a few years time thinking I wish I had accomplished more while they were home with me.

I also don’t want to be thinking I wish I had played and enjoyed them more.

It’s a learning process. Old habits die hard, but new ones can–and will–be formed.

And they are. Being formed.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What are you working to prioritize at the moment?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited