Today I have decided to do a review on a children’s book. Now I haven’t read the entire book but feel I can review this through the eyes of my children.
Currently in our house we are trying to reduce the use of screens. We have recognised we are becoming a little too reliant on them but for my children in particular, especially the eldest, it is becoming the constant go to. So as a result we are increasing screen free time. To assist with this I have been buying more books for the boys and trying to find ones that are a little different or focus on topics the boys are interested in.
One that I bought for my 8 year old is called “A funny thing happened to Simon Sidebottom” by P.Crumble. I was purchasing some other books and this one was at the counter. It is the first in what I hope is going to be a series as it has been a big hit. This book is a choose your own adventure but unlike the ones that were around when I was younger this book has quirky images and is very funny with humour aimed exactly at my boys (think gross jokes about bodily functions and dangerous stunts). Even the font used in the book is fun and easy to read. My boys are seven and eight and I highly recommend it for children in this age range. In the four days since he has had the book I believe he has read every version of the story at least twice.
Tonight in our quest for less screen time the three of us were making pizzas for dinner together. As they were cooking the boys came up with a plan to read the book aloud and at each decision point we took it in turns to decide which way to go. No screens and reading as a family happily at my sons choice – this book is a big winner for me and if there is a second I will definitely be buying it.
I’m not sure if that’s what you call it when you have the baking equivalent of writers block.
Today is my youngest sons seventh birthday. His request for a cake theme was Power Rangers. I tried to stifle my sigh unsuccessfully due to this being the third time I had been asked to make a power rangers cake.
To put this in perspective it is not that I hate Power Rangers, it is just that there is only so much creativity you can put into this topic. The first cake I made for a friends son and had the Power Rangers logo surrounded by energems made from glow sticks. At this time you probably think I know a lot about Power Rangers but it is more a case with constant talk and repeated viewings on Netflix something has to sink in. The second cake which was for my youngest last year I made a giant Power Rangers face. So this year I struggled to decide what to do. The design I finally settled on was one blue Power Ranger on a round blue cake all went out the window when late at night I put a hole in the fondant when it was already on the cake. Rather than throw the cake out (that was the first thought) I stepped away, poured a glass of wine, added some white circles to cover the hole and gave up for the night. In the morning with fresh eyes I changed the design to five faces instead.
Result – he loved the cake and was excited I’d included all of the main Power Rangers not just one.
And for me….I officially resign from Power Rangers cakes forever.
My boys went to their dads last night for a couple of nights. I find that when they are gone I usually pack my to do list full. This is for a few reasons. Firstly it is much quicker to get things done when it is just me, secondly the house is quiet and empty without two boisterous boys running around, and finally I hate feeling that I have wasted my time alone when it gets to the end of the weekend.
Sometimes being on my own is very lonely and other days it is about being alone and enjoying my space and my time. I have learnt that there is a big difference between alone and loneliness over the last few months.
So today was another jam-packed day and this one especially so as it is my youngest’s birthday on Monday. Tomorrow night he is having some friends for a sleepover so while I was very busy preparing for his party I was also conscious of enjoying some peace before the craziness of 6 and 7-year-old boys.
So in the business of the day I try to add some elements that are for me and often it is the simple things that are hard to enjoy when busy being a Mum. Today’s simple elements of the day that made me pause and appreciate the day were:
Making avocado and poached eggs on toast for breakfast and sitting down for a while to enjoy it with a cup of tea.
Playing music that was all my choice and singing along.
Sitting down with dinner and a glass of wine to watch something on Netflix.
So in the middle of a crazy weekend I found time to enjoy the peace. lets call it the calm before the storm.
My eldest son is the one who has NF2 and as a result he has started to withdraw from wanting to do a lot of activities. And it is getting harder and harder to get him away from screens and interacting with others for extended periods.
So imagine my surprise when he came home from his dads house on Sunday after a week away and asked if we could make Gingerbread Men. He has been reading The Gingerbread Man at school and wanted to make some.
As is common with parents by 4.00pm Sunday afternoon you are thinking about all the things you have to get done for that night as well as to prepare for the week ahead so my immediate reaction was no it is too late. Luckily I pulled my self up halfway through and told him to get the recipe and if I had the ingredients we could make them. We had what we needed in the house already so we spent the next half an hour making the biscuits together. No screens involved and lots of giggles along with yummy biscuits which we tried for dessert that night. On top of that he took one to school for lunch and proudly told his friends he had made them.
Sometimes it pays to pause and think before saying no on auto pilot like I have so many times before.
Normally I don’t discuss deep and serious topics on my blog but this is one that is very close to my heart and awareness equals knowledge and (hopefully) treatments. My beautiful eldest son was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) about a year ago. What started as a limp that didn’t go away and a trip to the podiatrist, turned into about a year and a half of specialists visits, hospital visits and tests with the longest list of specialists you’ve ever seen. The initial thought was that he had NF1 which is the more common type and affects about 1 in 2500 people. This statistic is similar to that of Cystic Fibrosis but nowhere near as well-known.
Final diagnosis is that my son has NF2 which is mush less common and affects 1 in 25,000 people. It is a rare genetic disorder that presents differently in each patient and symptoms start at different ages but usually start to occur during teen years or a bit later (yes my son is younger given that he is only 8 now). And most importantly there is no cure and very little in treatments.
NF causes tumors to develop in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. NF2 was diagnosed in my son due to the presence of the characteristic tumours on the acoustic nerves. These tumours affect sound and balance and often lead to partial or complete hearing loss. He had also previously had a cataract removed from his eye which we have since discovered is another symptom of NF2 in young children.
And his limp ended up being drop foot as a result of tumours in his upper thigh and lower spine.
The condition occurs as a result of a gene abnormality. May 22 is NF2 Awareness Day as NF2 is a mutation of Chromosome 22.
For those who would like to know more about this disorder and the shocking impact it can have please click here to visit the Children’s Tumour Foundation website.
Those who read my last post would now that after I had some surgery done my parents had come to stay to help me out for a few weeks as I was very limited in what I could do. And that my children were struggling a bit with the change of routine.
Today after three and a half weeks my parents have gone home. I have greatly appreciated the help they have provided as well as enjoying the break from being the only cook in the house. However today as I worked from home in a silent house I realised how quickly I have adapted to being the only adult in the house. To being able to set things up how I want them, run the house in the way that works for me and my boys, and not be judged for my crazy OCD like moments. My mum was shocked that all of my pegs are one colour and that my ensuite vanity is always set up with everything in exactly the same place. Surely I am not the only one with odd quirks!! Thank goodness I didn’t mention I need the TV volume to be on an even number.
I have been separated for two years next month and while it was strange at first after being married for 12 and a half years I have very quickly adapted to being on my own. We have set routines that work for the three of us, our life is crazy and busy but we all get each other. We drive each other nuts one moment, and the next minute are having a dance party in the kitchen. And most importantly have a house full of cuddles, laughter, fun and forgiveness.
So this morning when I got home from dropping the boys off at school I made a cup of tea and took ten minutes to sit in silence on my own for the first time in weeks before starting work.
And how did the boys and I spend our first night back to just the three of us? Eating bowls of pasta in the lounge room while we watched TV before reading books together in our pajamas – Perfect!!
I am a single working mother with two young boys. On the three days I travel into the city for work we leave very early in the morning and return home quite late. On the days I don’t travel to the city the boys have after school extra curricula activities. Therefore routine and structure is very important in our life to keep the wheels turning. We work well as a team and the boys know what they are expected to do. Not too much but enough to help out, support each other and keep our little family unit happy and healthy.
Some would say I am a bit controlling and a bit OCD in nature (which I probably am) but much of this stems from necessity due to the current circumstances of our life. There is a very fine line for us before it all turns to chaos.
In the past I have wondered whether the routines and structure work well for my boys, they get plenty of downtime on the weekend but not during the week. Does this allow them enough freedom and time to be themselves?
One week ago I had to go into hospital for surgery and my parents have come to stay and help with the boys and the house while I recover. With me gone for two nights while in hospital it was a big change to routine for the boys on top of them worrying if I was ok and when I was coming home. Even once home I could do very little and was quite tired and sore and for two loud boys to try and stay quiet is difficult. To add to this my Dad can be quite strict and expects things done quickly and efficiently.
Five days into all of this my youngest (six years old) pulled me aside for a “private chat”. He cuddled into me crying and told me that Grandad keeps getting mad and he is doing what he is supposed to do just not how Grandad wanted it done. I asked him if he was upset because everything was a bit different this week and not like normal. That ended up being the main issue.
So I guess my routine works….or at least helps the boys feel secure in what is going on around them.