Four Fab Years

We now have a big four year old in the house!  Properly pre-school since this year marks the year Kazuo will start school.  He is so proud of being four and being so big.  We have had a delightful four years so far with our wee guy and we are so glad to celebrate his arrival in our midst.

Finally Four!

Sunday was Space Birthday Party day.  Kazuo had been looking forward to it since Christmas – it does serve to mitigate against the post-Christmas blues, having a birthday so soon after.  But I am wondering now if it just prolongs the gifts-and-celebrations high and makes the crashing back to earth ever so much more difficult – for parents and child.  I will admit that my expectations were high…and my sense of disappointment when I realised that perhaps the social situation I have created for my little one has stretched him a bit beyond his limits (despite my best laid plans) is very keen.  So I agonised a little about whether my desire to make things fun and sociable for him were actually making it hard for him to be his best person.  I should have read this good advice first and chilled out a little:

  • Be forgiving if she forgets her party manners at times, but do remind her to thank the guests as they leave and hand each child a party favor.
  • Set expectations early and increase those expectations each year. Each year your child will be able to handle a little bit more responsibility during the party, building good social skills along the way.
  • For many children, the day of their birthday party is one of the happiest days of the year. They have been anticipating the party for weeks, and as excitement builds, the chance of a meltdown increases. If this happens to your child during the party, be kind! Children can be overwhelmed at birthday parties, and your job is to help your child calm down and get back to the fun.
  • Don’t show anger or say anything to ruin their happy day.

(Birthday in a Box)

Anyway, to keep things ticking along and not allow for too much wild running about the house time (oh, for a summer birthday when we could run around the garden with impunity!), I packed in the crafty activity:

Crafty Activity

We made foam rockets, sandpaper t-shirts with rockets and aliens on them and alien/space superhero masks which took a fair bit of parental involvement, but seemed to work out pretty well.

Then it was nibble time at the space food station (apologies for the low-light snaps on the iPhone, couldn’t find the camera on the day):

Food station

A quick game of pass-the-parcel and then it was moon-landing-cake time:

Moon Landing Cake

We had four guests from preschool and two ‘home’ friends – it was a lovely mix and Kaz had a wonderful afternoon.  Thanks to everyone for coming and celebrating our boy with us, he is lucky to have such good friends, and so are we!

Last night was ACTUAL birthday dinner – which followed a rather happy birthday at preschool.  Family gifts were unveiled which were very gratefully received, and our very tiredy boy went off to sleep like a light.  The thing about birthdays that I rather like more than the intense anticipation of Christmas (which the doctor pointed out last night) is that it is about the achievement of a little more maturity and development – a milestone for all of us – and for the wee guy, the realisation that a lot of his new peers are only just turning three now, and need his help to become ‘big’, a new level of self-awareness for him that I hope will foster a sense of empathy as he makes his way through life.

Happiness for four!

Construction Zone

Another catch up from me…a couple of weeks ago our lounge was taken over by tiny construction workers.  Kazuo has been fixated by all things building and constructing for some months now, and when it came to celebrating three years of his little life (yes, three!  A big pre schooler…) he asked for a digger party.  He also said that parties are a bit scary – but equivocated from not wanting anyone to come, to wanting everyone he knows to turn up.  We settled on the three-friends-for-three-years rule, and hopefully that will set a relaxing precedent.  On the day before his birthday we set up a few construction zones in the lounge…

…put out some adult/kid friendly antipasto, fruit kebabs and drinks…

…sang happy birthday to our boy – who blew out the candle and then swiped an oreo-cookie wheel from…

…his digger cake.  Now I am no cake decorator – as my past year’s efforts will show – so it took both the doctor and I to construct this crazy overly yellow creation…and I think the best thing about it was that you could tell it was a digger – sort of.  I think I might be able to get away with this very amateur approach to cake making for another couple of years, and then I will either have to bow out to the professionals, or revert to the olde worlde manner of just baking a cake and throwing some icing on it and not pretending to make it look like anything other than a cake!

The next day – the actual birthday – was a work/preschool day.  Kaz started preschool the week before and has LOVED the transition – we are so pleased with how much he has grown up over the past few months and how rapidly he has made himself at home in the preschool class.  He took in birthday cake to his new friends, and then we came home for favourite-bolognese-dinner,  birthday cake part II and presents from the family.

So many changes have ocurred this winter for little Kaz – he is a charming, sociable, inquiring, entertaining little person and delights us daily with his observations of both his real and imagined worlds.  Happy Three Years Kaz, we think you are fab!

How We Celebrated Two Great Years…

After Christmas came the birthday…and this year Kazuo had it all figured out.  Birthdays involved a party which consisted of friends (thankfully we could finally muster up a couple of lovely ones with whom we have recently had the joy of becoming acquainted), balloons, his birthday banner and a cake with candles:

I decided to get a little crafty.  To keep it simple but still have something for the wee ones to take home I sewed up some little birdy bags and made some finger puppets a la MadebyJoel and I sewed up a playmat for Kaz that has a landscape on one side and streets on the other, you can see it in progress here (a tutorial may follow):

In the morning we had a little ceremonial unwrapping time – this year we invested in a little portable kitchen that has already become a firm fixture in the roleplaying around the house:

This time the treasures made it in the post in time – here he is exploring the finished playmat with the new matchbox cars AND messing about with the fun garden toys from Grandma and Grandpa at the same time:

Kazuo decided that he wanted an animal themed celebration…and it was down to the wire on cake preferences – giraffe and elephant ran neck and neck for days.  Finally Mama realised that in the absence of the cake decorating tools (where DID they end up in the move??), it would have to be a roundy kinda elephant.  This year we had some dairy/soy allergies amongst our guests, so it was a scrummy vegan chocolate cake with vegetable-fat frosting:

Sneaky Kazuo managed to help himself to cake numerous times throughout the day, and he was still gobbling it down when chatting to his Grandparents with Dada on Skype that evening.

It has been a delightful two years and it was lovely to be able to celebrate this milestone with some new friends…and in as handmade-homey way as possible.  Two weeks on and we are still having happy chats about birthdays, friends and parties.  Having a two year old in the house has led to lots of giggles, hugs and charming conversation.  Thanks to all who helped us to celebrate these two great years!

Two Years

Our wee guy is two today.  Two lovely long years of learning (in a very ad hoc manner at times) how to be parents…and watching him go from being a bit rubbish and gurgly and endearing and sometimes a little terrifyingly needy and so so cuddly and incredible to really quite entertaining and capable and still kinda needy but wonderfully affectionate and articulate and hilarious.  All those bones and muscles and neurons and just everything that makes up his unique but also commonly human arrangement of qualities have been constantly rearranging and growing and becoming in quite the most fascinating way.  Of course we all think our kids are amazing and incredible…and the first ones are quite the little preoccupying experiment that keep on providing astonishment…but I have to admit that I am rather smitten still…and loving having this wee person around. Kazuo, we think you are great, happy birthday little one!

Brand New

Six Months

One Year

Eighteen Months

Two Years

Made by Joel, the Paper City et al…

A couple of years ago I began reading the marvellous Aussie children’s  magazine LMNOP online.  Last year they introduced Joel Henriques of MadebyJoel as their regular craft contributor and I stumbled across his blog and had a fleeting infatuation.  But Kazuo was still a little small for most of his clever innovations.   Then, over the holidays, our friend Denise sent me a link to MadebyJoel and I revisited…and I am HOOKED! Joel has three year old twins who are the obvious inspirations for his prolific creative output.  But even lowly derivative pseudo-crafty mamas (or papas) like me can execute many of his fabulous ideas.  Especially since the kind man posts freebie pdfs of many of his kiddy crafts.  And they are excellent – stylish, simple and so popular with wee pops.  If you have any little people in your life, visit MadebyJoel NOW!

On the weekend I was looking for inspiration for the upcoming birthday…I found several ideas that might translate into great party favours for our three wee guests.  But the major crafty gift from Mama this year is a playscape/street mat for Kaz to use on the floor for his little cars and animals etc.  [More to come on this project once I have completed, it is very much WIP right now…] Joel’s Paper City will be a great addition to the little street mat.

Since the wee guy has just had Christmas and there are still a plethora of presents for this coming birthday, I thought I would just try out the paper city and let him play with it right away.  So I printed it onto cardstock and cut it out for him to play with on Sunday afternoon, post-nap.  The images are charming and lots of fun:

It was a hit.  He particularly loved flinging the little button helicopters around.

Three days later and it is still in good shape and getting plenty of attention.  In fact, yesterday, he built an extremely large duplo tower (a recent motor skill success that causes daily glee) and set it amidst the paper city as a kinda monolith for the little duplo and paper city people to admire.  I love it when the new toys begin to merge with the existing toys.

I think Joel is pretty amazing…and I am just hoping I can stop reading long enough to try out some more of his great ideas…Thanks again Denise, for the crafty linky!

A Little Older

At the end of last week I got a little older.  It was a quiet sort of day, spent moseying around the library in the morning, chatting to my mother and sister in NZ online in the afternoon and then going out for a coffee with Kazuo.  Unfortunately, he slept through the early dinner time I had planned to spend at one of our local pizza restaurants, so we had takeaway Chinese at home instead – anything so Mama would not have to cook!  It was actually much more relaxing as we could just potter about at our own speed.  We are yet to secure the services of a babysitter, so date nights are usually in at our house anyway.

But the next day was a weekend morning and we began with a birthday Gooey Butter Cake tea party for three (Dada had to be on camera duty):

I learned to figure skate as a child, and since it is both mid-winter and Winter Olympics season, and since I have been off such activities for a year or so due to pregnancy et al, I was dying to get back on the ice while the local rink was still open.  The forecast was for snow on the night of my birthday, so I was anticipating a gorgeous snowy landscape in Forest Park.  Instead, it was a shockingly wonderful 15degC outside and we could shed some layers and really enjoy being outdoors.  Although several friends joined us for the afternoon, my ice rink companions were the lovely Laura and Julia:

Here we are gliding about – it was a short trip, but so so wonderful!   (We were also joined by our friend Dave on the ice, but somehow he managed to dodge the photos.)

The big treat of the weekend was my thoughtful, and oh-so-much-more-tech-savvy husband securing Not Working it’s very own domain.  So here we are at our new home, I hope you didn’t have any trouble tracking me down!  I was also lucky enough to receive some delights in the post, here are a little sample – the button brooch from friends in the UK, the Manuka Honey hand cream and bath salts and the little fridge magnets from NZ.  They have all been a hit with Kazuo too and I am feeling very grateful for everyone’s kindness.

I am feeling a little older this year, perhaps something to do with perpetual tiredy-ness, and perhaps something to do with coming slowly to the end of another marvellous decade.  I am not sure I feel my age yet though – I seem to be coming to most of life’s major milestones and responsibilities rather later than some and maybe that is keeping the feeling at bay.  In any case, although I felt somewhat less inclined to make an ‘event’ out of this birthday, it was still a lovely weekend of feeling appreciation for the daily miracle of being alive and having connections with people I love dearly. Today those thoughts are somewhat tempered by the memory of the passing of my beloved father in 2007 – but deepest gratitude goes out to all of you who are still actively a part of my life, whether near or far…

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?

It is people, it is people, it is people.