I’ve been writing for a few other publications, sites and blogs lately and getting my writing kicks where I can. I haven’t really been putting this blog as priority lately, and just going with it as we do. I got really in to food, health, fitness, local travel… Raising Men has changed with us and our interests over the years, which is why I can’t really label it as any sort of platform in particular. We’re just a little bit of everything these days. However, here’s a little time capsule of us, if you will.
Noah is such a little champion. We had him assessed with an Educational Psychologist where they checked on all aspects of his personality, emotional and mental development. It’s so important to do this. It’s SO important. A lot of things just ‘clicked’ in our feedback report. So many little quirks about Noah just started making sense. His personality type mostly. Noah is very particular. He needs to understand things. He needs certain things to be perfect and right and in good order. While Bennie likes chaos and mess and destruction, Noah is quite neat and (we joke) (but probably shouldn’t) OCD. But he’s also so friendly, polite, affectionate, loving, creative, funny. Stubborn! He’s a sweetheart.
We learned that Noah isn’t scared of general things like spiders or the dark or things kids would generally get anxious about. Noah gets uneasy if he doesn’t understand something. I briefly explained TAX and VAT to him the other day (he asked) and he got VERY upset. He didn’t understand and would only relax once he understood it 100%. When we explained that the money goes to build more schools, hospitals, roads etc then he settled a bit. That’s the thing with Noah, he wants to know and understand things way beyond his years. With the help of the Educational Psychologist we’ve learned how to teach him without unsettling him. Like, I’m terrified to tell him about recycling. Solar powered energy. These things interest and affect him beyond his years. I need to hold him back and let him be a little boy even though he sometimes doesn’t want to be. While he loves documentaries and science, we just have to hold him back until his emotional development gets more in line with his intellectual development. He’s a very bright boy and growing much too fast. He’s interested in things that I don’t even really understand. He loves the human body and I had to show him all these documentaries because he wanted to know exactly how the eye works with retinas and lenses and then he wanted to do the nose, and ears and he just spent hours learning about these things because that’s FUN for him. Such a special little butterfly. He’s taught himself to read and write and he is just so ambitious and aware and hungry for life all the time.
Bunny banana!! Oh my boy. You went from baby boy to feisty pre-schooler in what, seven minutes? You’re growing too fast for your feet! While you and Noah are two years apart, you’re almost always mistaken for twins. It’s like you saw Noah and decided immediately that you wanted to be as big and tall as him all the time. At two years apart, you two are the same weight, height and shoe size – completely bashing all my hand-me-down dreams!
Ben you’re so soft. So gentle. You love your mommy, sleeping late, watching cartoons and eating ALL the cereal. You’re always, always hungry. You never sit still. You love Jack so much, you love your family and friends and teachers so much. You’re so silly, always making jokes, pulling faces and trying to make everyone laugh. You say the sweetest things like when I asked you what you wanted to be when you’re big and you shouted with much confidence “A FIRE ENGINE!”. You’re trying to hard to be big and be 5 like Noah but you need to be 3. We all need to remember that you’re only still 3. Sometimes I forget, and daddy and Noah also forget. Sometimes we treat you like you’re also 5 because you want that, but sometimes you need more sleep. More food. More stories, more make-believe, more magic. You love songs and singing and books and painting. You also really, really love action! It’s the craziest thing. You ninja kick us all over the house and fight us with your plastic sword. You LOVE playing Angry Birds on mommy’s iPad and sometimes we bust you hiding under the covers with it, giggling something silly.
Sometimes Noah wants you to do everything he does and that’s okay. I had two older brothers growing up and that’s just what it’s like being the younger sibling. Sometimes I feel sorry for you because I remember getting so mad as a kid. I remember being told no because “I’m older than you”. Like, all I ever wanted was to sit in the front seat of the car. While Noah loves you more than anyone else on earth, and while he cheers you on and laughs at your jokes the loudest, we still try keep things as fair as possible. We try not to protect you too much, so you can learn how to stand up for yourself, talk your way in and out of things etc. You know… when you were born, Noah was so patient – he couldn’t wait for you to get big so you could play together. He helped you learn how to talk. He helped make your bottles. He helped feed you your mashed butternut. He loves you SO much. We all do!
The Birdhouse has been operational for just over ONE YEAR. This happened in August and I completely missed it. Sounds preposterous like a phosphorous rhinoceros (my dad always says this. You only know that something is truly ridiculous when he says this) We’ve grown and we’re learning so much every day. I get such a kick out of happy clients, it’s so rewarding. I love how the whole family gets involved and how much closer it’s brought Graeme and I together. While we’re a little team including freelancers and affiliates, Graeme has come on board as our Creative Director and business partner and helps out whenever he has resources. It’s such a winning combination for us as I’m more strategically minded and he avoids admin like scrambled eggs (hates them).
So we’ve jumped from leading separate lives in different agencies, touching base only at the end of the day when we’re both exhausted with two busy boys – to being together all day, assisting each other on projects and getting super excited about our clients together. Mostly, Grays is running around on numerous projects out of the office, but we have so much more time with each other.
Graeme Bettles Design is in full bloom. Graeme’s won the Samsung Designer of the Year award and was featured in de Kat with another Visi feature out this month. He was also filmed for the Expresso Show and de Kat for KykNet. He launched his online store, new designs and secured distribution with a few more local stores too. Right now we’re branching out internationally and establishing manufacturing licenses and rights worldwide. Ja. It’s exciting. Sorry I LOVE bragging about my husband – he works so hard, he’s so talented and I’m just proud! Brag brag brag.
We’re putting in a LOT of work. We’re super passionate about what we’re doing, but sometimes it’s really, really hard. Sometimes I want to pack it all in and get a nice 9-5 at an agency again. Some days I genuinely wonder what the hell we’re doing and how we’re going to make it all work. It’s scary, but it’s exhilarating. We’re busy working on two new companies, and if all goes according to plan… it’s gonna be pretty damn awesome.
The new house… Oh my goodness. I love this house. Graeme loves the house. The boys love it. Jack is bouncing around like this place is Disneyland. I love it because it reminds me of how I grew up. When I go for a run around the neighborhood I pass schools, churches, parks – it’s so glorious, and safe. And inviting.
Our boys are happier than happy, which makes all the difference to me. There’s a guest / spare room and a really pretty office with loads of space. And a washing line. Vegetable garden. Laundry room. Fish pond. Two sinks. Trees to climb. A pantry. TWO bathrooms. A dining room. These are all things we never had in our other little house.
I think what I love most about the new house is that we could take the boys out of after care. They get home from school and I get to make them lunch and chat to them for 20 minutes before getting back to the deadlines. Our office is away from the living areas, and there’s a strict “do not come here unless someone is bleeding” rule, which really works (sometimes) (okay not really)! I’m mostly out at other agencies, workshops and meetings lately, so I really appreciate the extra time I have with them!
I’ve started writing for a few other publications and websites, which is predominantly why I’ve been neglecting Raising Men lately. As our family changes and no matter what we’re in to this week / month or year – writing will always be important to me. We’ve briefed Buttons and Honey in to a few illustrators and the boys are working on this project with me. We write the stories together, they give me feedback. It’s great. I’m in no rush with any of it anymore… The first people to receive the books will be Noah and Benjamin, this Christmas. That’s the deadline. They are going to be so thrilled, I can’t explain how much they love the stories. It’s pretty sentimental, I don’t even know if I ever want to give them to publishers. It’s really special when they ask for certain stories by name like “I want the one with the stolen birthday cake” or “the one about the Christmas packet!”
Even though all these amazing things are happening, and even though I have absolutely every reason to be the happiest girl in the world… I’m not always. Some days / weeks I get a really bad case of the sads. Everything makes me sad. Making tea makes me sad. Having a shower makes me sad. A kids party makes me sad. I’m trying to fight it with good vibes, gratitude, running and keeping as busy as I can. Some nights you’ll find me in the dark watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns (because I freakin’ love crying) while eating ice cream straight out the tub. And that’s okay. I’m trying. It’s hard. I’m not perfect. I want to be the happiest girl in the world, but sometimes I just can’t.
My mom’s really sick and going through a hard time right now. It’s hard on all of us, and I wish I could make it all go away. There should be a limit to the amount of bad things one person is allowed to go through, you know? My mom’s such a great person. I get so distraught when awful things happen to really great people. I’m trying to stay focused on my family and appreciating them. The rest is just white noise – nothing else really matters. Don’t sweat the small stuff, my dad always says. Keep working hard and put in that time with the people you care about and your very best friends. When you block everything else out and take a good look around you, you’ll see just how lucky you are. All of us.