Walking near work

There’s some great walking trails near where I work so we went for a drive recently to check it out. I managed to drag the teen and the dog along – not that the dog needed much persuading.

Phoenix

I think he enjoyed himself, and so did the lad – so much so that he’s keen to go back. When it suits him that is.

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I do have quite the stubborn child. He’s always been stubborn and I know these teen years are going to be testing times for me as a parent.

I’ve given up nagging him every day about tidying his room. As he tells me, when I’m asking him to do something, it’s just blah blah blah to him. He now has to put his clothes away, I won’t go in there when the room’s messy and I can’t even get to his drawers. That seems to be working, and the last couple of weekends when I’ve given him a list of jobs including tidying his room, it’s been done.

I’d let the dog accompany him to bed but I managed to put a stop to that last night when I said that if he continued this practice that he’d be in charge of changing and washing his sheets. Dog hair sticks to flannelette sheets and there’s a doggy smell that lingers a bit when the dog’s been on his bed. I prefer bedrooms to be a no-go dog zone.

Took the dog to a dog training session the other day. Very interesting. That will be a separate post. This adopting a rescue dog has been quite the eye opener.

Winter flower

Outdoor laser skirmish

13th birthday party

What’s a boy want to do for his 13th birthday? Why, shoot at his friends of course. When researching places to do it you’ve got your indoor laser skirmish places but he wasn’t too keen on doing that. He enjoys it when he does do it, however.

He was keen on ice skating but our local ice skating rink was very prescriptive on the times they do parties and the times didn’t suit us. I’m glad. The noise at an ice skating rink is pretty loud.

Searching the web lead us to outdoor laser skirmish, and surprise surprise, 11-12 year old boys are their main demographic.

Invites were done and sent out and I did the usual stress of thinking nobody, or few, people would come because it was a little bit of a drive and who knows what the weather would be doing that day?

There was a storm the preceding night and the day was grey and wet but the party went on nonetheless. It did rain a few times but only small showers – so nothing to deter 20 excited boys (ten in our group and ten in another birthday party group). They were even rolling down the hill so would have got wet from the ground anyway.

If you’re looking for outdoor laser skirmish in Adelaide, this one’s up in the hills near Picadilly – 2 World’s Collide.

The host, Chris, was really good with a group of very excited boys who love to backchat and he explained the rules matter of factly and with a great sense of humour.

Before too long the boys were unleashed into two teams with their weapons ready to shoot shoot shoot.

I remember back when JJ was a baby, that there were going to be no guns, no shooting. There’s no getting around that, it’s in the boy DNA I think.

They spent about 40 minutes on the first game, then there was another game. The guns are wired so that they score hits.

But most of all it’s really fun.

They all really enjoyed it and it’s gone down as the best birthday party ever.

There aren’t any close-by facilities to feed the hungry troops afterwards so I managed to feed and water them from the boot of my car. Like a pack of seagulls they were.

13th birthday party

13th birthday party

13th birthday party

13th birthday party

The birthday cake went down a treat and I forgot to have some at the actual birthday but managed some later.

Birthday cake

OMG, there’s a teenager in the house

This time 13 years ago a baby was born – a 9lb 6oz baby boy. One that gave me third degree tears and while the doctor was stitching me up suggested that next time I may have to have a caesarean. There has not, nor will there be a next time.

Now, he’s about 5’7″ – all legs and feet. I just bought him size 11 shoes the other day. He’s like one of those puppies with huge paws who will grow into big dogs all too soon. The trousers I bought him at the beginning of the year for a wedding, the pants I hoped would do for his school formal at the end of the year, are already too short. He’s told me that people are already asking him what’s the weather like up there? I told him to get used to it as he’ll be one of the tall ones.

He’s always hungry! When there’s a cupboard and fridge full of food, there’s NEVER anything to eat…. And he’s very quick to critique my cooking. Apparently I’ve finally nailed spaghetti bolognaise and butter chicken though, so that’s comforting for me.

I love his honesty – well usually. He’s also not afraid to talk to me about very personal things, things I would never have dreamt of discussing with my parents at his age. I hope this continues even though it can be a bit embarrassing answering some of his questions.

He’s quite switched on – predicting what will happen next in a movie or tv show, or dissecting the personality of a friend or of my (now ex) boyfriend.

I’m very proud that he got into the high school he wanted to get into. While he’s anxious about moving onto high school he’s coping better with the thought of it than he would have a few years ago. But at the same time he acknowledges that he’s ready to move on from primary school.

Quite a few of his peers already have deep voices. They’re too young to have deep voices. JJ doesn’t yet. He got his teeth late, he walked late and I think puberty is hitting him late. I’m pleased about that. Although he is interested in girls. I gather that this will pick up.

I’ve stocked up on wine and hair dye, and am always working on developing a thicker skin to get me through the next few years. And I know that those teenager years will fly by.

Here’s a photo album of him.

Good news about high school application

jules

It was all worth it.

About six weeks ago my son and I were in the midst of writing his application for high school. Well he was writing it, and I was nagging him, typing for him on the sidelines cheering him on.

Last night he got the acceptance letter saying he was in!

It was such a relief to get that good news.

Entry into high school here is automatic to a public school in your zoned area. Our zoned high school hasn’t got a good reputation and everyone I spoke to about it didn’t have anything good to say. As those years are very important in a kid’s life I didn’t want him spending them at a high school that might not suit him.

Plus there’s certain things he’s interested in and the high school he’s been accepted into perfectly suits those interests. The only thing is that to get in the student has to write their own application. He could have used another format like film or powerpoint but he chose to write.

It was like a job application and for a 12 year old to write it, is pretty full on I think. But that’s one of the reasons why this school has got a good reputation because the kids that go there want to be there. I’m sure some slip through the net but the majority are keen to be there.

I got the letter last night and took it over to after school care so he could open it. He opened it in front of everyone and thank goodness it was good news. He’s pretty resilient but it would have been hard to get bad news in public like that. He wouldn’t let me look over his shoulder but it didn’t take him look to yell and jump and announce he’d got in.

To celebrate I offered to take him out to dinner but he said he wanted fish and chips and to watch a movie. Don’t watch The Hungover Games. It’s crap! Even JJ said it was crap after we sat through it. But it’s what he wanted to do. I even cancelled pilates so I could celebrate with him. Big of me I know!

Now I’ve got a gajillion forms to fill in but I don’t care. I’m stoked.

Navigating my way to being a mum of a teenager

He’s not doing a winter sport so rather than sit around and do nothing much I thought we go geocaching. JJ suggested the Botanic Gardens so off we went on a beautiful autumn morning. I haven’t been there for a while so looked forward to having a wander around.

We parked nearby and I took some sneaky photos of JJ who has taken to being a bit camera shy. Must be a teenage boy thing as a friend’s son won’t let her take photos of him either.

On tree

I love the autumn colour. Never get sick of it. It makes the thought of winter that much more bearable.

Autumn, Botanic Park

flower

Palm house

I didn’t know I’d taken this photo of JJ in mid-air until I saw it later. Clever me huh?

Mid air

Autumn, Botanic Park

yellow

yellow

We have a great time when we get out and do stuff like this. We even bought a blueberry bush that JJ said he would plant and look after. Our geocaching efforts were for nought as the one we could find would have meant getting his feet/shoes wet and I wouldn’t let him.

I’m finding it hard to navigate this entry into being a parent of a teenager or almost teenager. I expect him to do things like be ready for school at a certain time after having done small chores around the place like make his bed, clean his teeth without having to remind him. Then he gets annoyed when I nag him and get cross at him for not having done those things. So he’s cross with me and I’m cross with him andit gets neither of us anywhere.

What’s the answer  here? I’m sick of leaving for work in an awful mood and when I’ve said goodbye, I’m leaving now he does a last minute rush and his jobs still aren’t done.

Perhaps I need to do the family meeting thing, lay down my expectations and he can tell me his and come to some sort of agreement where there’s consequences if he doesn’t do what I expect him to do. And it’s not that much really! In a nutshell I need to set the boundaries with him. These will become so much more important as he gets older too.

He’s been away at a school camp for the last couple of nights. While I have missed him, it’s been so darn easy to get out of the house in the morning and I’m much more relaxed when I do walk out the door.

I did find this technique of teaching your kid how to say sorry and I will be able to use it when I need to say sorry to him as well. I know I’m not perfect!

Mother’s Day – with a silver lining

legomoviejules

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. What a bust. Like New Year’s Eve you build yourself up thinking it’s going to be a wonderful day and when it’s not you feel really let down.

I don’t think JJ even said happy Mother’s Day to me. I certainly didn’t get breakfast in bed and apart from a couple of good moments during the day I was glad when he finally went to bed.

I also think that Mother’s Day must be really hard for people who’ve lost their mums and for people who really want to be a mum. Like a slap in the face. Thinking like this about others certainly puts things in perspective – in retrospect.

Three days after mother’s day JJ showed me the poem he wrote for me that was still on the computer. I’ve now printed it out and put it up at work. He tells me I’m full of surprises like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. and I’m like a golden fish swimming in the ocean standing out like a colossal diamond in the room. I work in and out of the house faster than I can blink or eat cake – and some other wonderful things.

But it’s not that poem I want to share here. It’s another one he wrote at the end of last term that got read out at assembly because his teacher thought it was so good. I’ve been asking to see it since then but only just got it.

He said I can share it so here goes:

How to Treat Life

There are two ways to treat life

One with care

One with stupidity

Care comes with responsibility and compassion

You have to play sport and exercise instead of doing nothing

You also have to exercise your brain.

You need to be nice and caring for others

You have to take responsible risks

You should be open to learning

Choosing the people you can trust to help you

You strive to be someone they trust and look up to in a good way

You are to be yourself

Not the person other people want you to be

You need to stick to your dreams and accomplish them

Stupidity comes with no care or compassion

You don’t exercise yourself

You don’t exercise your brain

You treat others horribly

You don’t care about what might happen to yourself or others

You’re not open to learning

You bully others

You’re what “the cool kids” want you to be

You change what you are, but remember

You only have one life

International Blog Swap Day – Redpeffer from the UK

Today is International Blog Swap Day which means I’m hosting a UK blogger here today and she’s hosting me for the day. We’ve both written about the stages our kids are at. Read on for hers, and then click over to her blog for mine. Or read the lot linked up here.

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Redpeffer I’m very excited to be writing this guest post for Jen. One of the things I have discovered about blogging is the fabulous online community that’s out there and it’s lovely to be able to expand this and meet fellow bloggers from the other side of the world. Thank you Jen for hosting my post.

I’m Iona and I blog at http://www.redpeffer.me.uk where I talk about my family, our experiences and activities as well as write the odd opinion or two. I love photography and am really enjoying how blogging has helped me to improve it and inspire me to continue.

My children are now 7 and 3 and we are lucky enough to have a girl and a boy. They are my inspiration, my frustration, my love and my fear all rolled into one. I’m sure most of you if not all will recognise these emotions!

siblings1

Recently, I’ve noticed my 3 year old find his voice. This is wonderful to watch as he becomes his own little person. But it comes with a caveat-he now argues, fights and bickers with his big sister. This happens increasingly more often. He wants to express his own views, yet he also idolises her and wants to copy her. This inevitably leads to tension and conflict. He becomes frustrated. And at age 3 he has yet to learn how to control or manage this without it turning into a screaming and wailing fest of epic proportions.

When the arguments happen and I haven’t been there to witness them. I then get the ‘he did that’; or ‘she did this’ scenario. Both insist they are the ones hard done by. Both want the other told off. I know I’ve been guilty of assuming it was someone’s fault or telling them both off equally because it’s just easier to manage. Then you have both of them sulking and huffing as they both feel hard done by!

And I’ve noticed my soon to be 8 year old understandably wants her own space. She doesn’t want her 3 year old little bother following her everywhere like a shadow. She need’s to have time and space for her own activities and room for her special books and toys to be just for her and not shared. I totally understand that, but it can be hard to manage on a day to day basis. As a parent I’m constantly trying to accommodate two very different types of need and struggling to find that all elusive balancing act that sometimes feels so distant to be almost impossible to reach.

And as your child gets older, their problems can’t be so easily solved with a hug or a cuddle. Obviously they still help a little, but you find yourself having more complex conversations. Often these conversations don’t have conclusions either. At almost 8, my daughter is still at the age where she expects a definitive answer for most things and I’m trying to show her that most of life isn’t that simple. And then recently I discovered that her friends have been talking about relationships, kissing and even sex. They are in Year 3 (ages 7 and 8.) That shocked me. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem terribly interested in the whole thing, but now I know she is being exposed to it all, we have to think about what to say to her and how to say it. It all feels too early, she doesn’t have enough life experience to understand much of it. Where on earth do we start? Right now I haven’t started at all and am secretly hoping it will all somehow go away and re-appear when she’s older! That’s an effective parenting strategy isn’t it?!

We are as open as we feel appropriate with both our children, but it can be tricky working out what information to share and in what way. And don’t get me started on the whole friendship/relationship thing. I just want to wrap them both up in cotton wool but of course I know that this won’t help them be happy adults. My mum always said it got harder as we got older because she couldn’t solve everything for us, and now I know exactly what she means.

Thank you for reading, and please do pop by to say hello. I can be found on Twitter @Redpeffer, and my blog will take you to all my other social media profiles from the home page.