A new start is rarely all smooth going

This week has been one of change and adjustment.

Sophie joined Charlotte at school.

Sophie the school girl

I stepped up a gear with morning school preparations and post school fall out.

Alice adapted to moving at her own pace with a little more ‘down time’ during the day.

Alice taking it easy

Charlotte enthusiastically embraced the start of term 4 whilst supporting Sophie with settling in.

Dan worked hard to bring in the bacon, be there for homework and bedtimes and add a touch of humour and smiles to everything.

All up we’ve done well and feel like we’re carving up a positive groove.

The week has had a few settling in testers (which I’ll swiftly be done with and then move onto the positive stuff!);

  • A sleepy Sophie in need of some tender care to get her dressed and out to school on time.
  • An envious Sophie at Charlotte’s two impromptu play-dates the first two days of the term (took Mama by surprise too!).
  • A reluctant Sophie to go on her first school trip to something she thought would be ‘boring’ (a girl in her class had seen in over the holidays and told her it was boring). I told her she was wasting negative energy on thinking what it might be like – when she may in fact enjoy it. As it turned out she recalled a previous concert where this had been the case and tried to be positive. She ended up loving the show (as did Alice and I – as I’d got tickets for us to go along too!).

Alice at Capital E before seeing 'Songs of the Sea'

  • An upset Sophie because one of the girls in her class plays a game whereby she gets most of the other girls to ‘spy’ on her older sister. Sophie tries to join in with play, but isn’t felt welcomed by this one particular girl and doesn’t like the game anyway – it’s just that many of the other girls follow this one particular girl. Also, another girl was told by her older sister that if she caught any of the ‘little kids’ in her class she would kill them! Poor Sophie… not very nice to hear. Of course we agreed this was distressing and very sad to hear, but perhaps Sophie could suggest a positive game and encourage the girls to join in. Thankfully, Sophie’s big sister, Charlotte, is being awesomely supportive, kind, inclusive and caring – as are Charlotte’s class-mates.
  • A tearful, upset, frightened Sophie at a music lesson with a teacher that, ‘Shouted at us all the time and never said please’. She only has this teacher for less than an hour a week. I spent an hour trying to make Sophie feel better (she was so distraught, poor love). This is the tough side of parenting. I expect to spend a lot more time supporting Sophie to find a way to handle her feelings on this – thankfully her main teacher is wonderful and a great listener, so hopefully we’ll work this through quickly.

Sophie very upset & the tough part of parenting

  • And a stormy night blew a nest out of a tree and a poor baby bird down onto the trampoline – by the time I found it the life had long left it. Alice climbed on the trampoline to bounce and I spotted its tiny pink body immediately, with just a few little feathers and its eyes not yet opened. Alice immediately sensed my sadness and amazed me with her ability to convey her feelings, saying, ‘Bird, fell, tree, sad.’

The week has also had some real highs for us all;

  • Charlotte loved being invited, on the spur of the moment, to two different class-mates homes this week. Also, her wonderful best friend from her old school came round to dinner one evening too.
  • A happy Sophie at having her first new friend from school home to play on Thursday after school. We made banana cup cakes together, which the girls loved decorating too.

Decorating cupcakes with her friend

  • Alice enjoyed a fun time at the girls school on Friday morning, joining in with ‘Grandparents to school day’. Since the girls grandparents are all in the UK it was important that someone from the family attended to eat our designated share of chocolate cake… I don’t think Alice could possibly have fitted anymore in her cheeks!! Literally ‘choca’!

Alice's cheeks choca with cake!

  • Sophie came home full of excitement to tell us about her topic of learning – fairy tales! She also was very happy with sports at her new school and proudly read a different book to us every evening this week, with fabulous expression and clarity.
  • Sophie has a really wonderful, talented teacher, who gives the girls in her class her full and genuine attention.
  • The weather has improved, there is blue sky to complement the very green growth in the garden.
  • Charlotte and Sophie are enjoying playing out on the fabulous school climbing frames…

Dare devil Sophie

  • And Alice joins in whenever she gets a chance…

Charlotte & Alice

  • Alice is also a true nature lover. Here she is hugging a Kowhai tree at school pick up, telling anyone who would listen, ‘Hug a tree! Awwww, lub (love), hug tree.’

Alice hugging a Kowhai tree

  • I’ve enjoyed having one on one time with Alice, taking her to baby sing along time at the library, giving her my full attention at the play-ground and in play, reading her books at her level and listening to her amazing vocabulary and sentences grow. She understands the idea of counting – when there’s two of something she sees that and says ‘two’ straight away. She is learning colours and shapes, has a great sense of humour and I love it when she laughs and says, ‘Funny’.

Alice zipping down a slide in her gumboots

  • It’s been a lot easier for me to feel ‘organised’ and on top of the house-work with only one child at home between 8.30am and 3.00pm. Though Alice is of course a toddler capable of making any event a messy one. This was our breakfast, turned morning tea (the bowl of water was to wash baby – who got covered in 100’s and 1000’s – which I over generously poured on Alice’s fluffy, whilst making my all important coffee!).

Alice's messy breakfast

  • Everyone has been in happy moods after school and we’ve enjoyed our time together (but I feel like I’m playing tug of war in a way – making sure I keep our family unit connected and strong, whilst letting go and giving my daughters freedom to develop friendships too). I can see why my parents made Sunday a focused family day as we got older – we’d always eat together and go for a walk, a bike ride, a swim – or something active.

Phew! It’s felt like a very long, busy, intense week in many ways. I’m glad we have a long weekend (Monday is ‘Labour Day’ in New Zealand). Hopefully we’ll feel even more settled in our new routines within a few weeks… but then there are only seven weeks of this term left! Before we know it the long summer holiday will be upon us and we’ll all be adjusting, yet again, to the dynamic of being in each other’s pockets for seven weeks! Thankfully the cavalry, aka ‘Chicken’ Grandma & Granddad from the UK, are arriving to help!

Alice lining up her friends on the windowsill