And this is a collection of a few Kira & Bethany specific memories and moments in ther recent months as we gear up to leaving in a few days time…
FIRSTS: Both girls have spoken their first words here, in Spanish and English, walked for the first time, run for the first time, smiled and laughed for the first time. Had their first tantrums, their first tears, their first meals, their first cuddles, their first swim, swing, slide and sunburn and their first full night sleep… the list goes on. We have written a daily diary for both of them through their first baby years and hope that it arrives in the shipping!
INDEPENDENT APART FROM MOLLY & BROWN BEAR: They have established their own independence – Bethany will not let me choose her outfits anymore and Kira is very particular about wearing her pretty shoes and socks. And yet Kira takes Molly and Bethany takes Brown bear everywhere. Kira chose Molly from a stack of soft toys while at a farm visit with Kim, Adam & Ollie when she was 9 months old and has not put her down since. Bethany actually used to love Spencer bear until he got lost at the airport en route to Mexico and so brown bear became a new favorite. My mum and dad managed to find him again at Christmas and he had his Mexican passport with him but Bethany had lost her trust, although she is still very fond of him! I don’t know how long these soft toys will be so massively important in their lives, but they are certainly a major part of who they are here!
MATERNITY LEAVE PROJECTS: During maternity leave with Kira I wrote a story and decided that I quite like to write. Whether or not I am any good at it is irrelevant, as I enjoy it and feel it is a relaxing and restorative way to spend my time. I am hoping to have Ian illustrate it in the next year or so and have a copy made for my girls and godchildren. It is all about a little jungle ant who dreams take him on amazing adventures. While I was on maternity leave with Bethany I taught myself how to bake. I was living in an apartment with a fabulous kitchen and so bought some recipe books and cooked pretty much anything I could find on the shelves! At first I followed every recipe to the tee, but as I became more confident I adapted them and started to make them my own. As the girls have got older it is something we like to do together, and I became less of a control freak about it all having to be perfect. Kira loves measuring out flour and cracking eggs, Bethany loves mixing it all with her spoon, the kitchen ends up in a mess, the girls normally sneak some chocolate chips into their tummies during the process, and the cookie shapes are always a bit dubious. But is really good quality time that we spend together and I hope it continues when we move.
EXCITEMENT & SCREAMS: Some of my other memories though of the first few years with the girls here in Caracas include laughing hysterically at their funny and entertaining quirks. Bethany has a ‘funky walk’ when she is excited about stuff and bends her knees as she walks to show you. She runs everywhere and needs cuddles and attention for most of the evenings after work. She is calmer at weekends when we have more time and loves us being close but giving her space to play on her own. I love the screams of excitement from them both every single day when we get home from work as they fight over who gets to hug mummy first. Kira has since graduated that and now is more focused on making sure I can see what she learnt that day – sometimes it is her back bend, or her magic trick, or her special dance, or her artwork she brought home from school but it is all preceded by “watch me mummy!”
BATHTIME: We didn’t have a bathtub in this apartment and so instead we have spent our evenings bathing the girls in a paddling pool that kind of fits into the bottom of the shower next to a baby-bath but mostly the girl’s just splash and play about. Bethany hates getting water in her eyes and when she does she rubs them with soap and all hell breaks loose. Kira puts her whole head under water and refuses to get out even when we pull the plug and all the water has gone she plays hide and seek under the baby bath! Kian has taken a bath with them both, and when he comes to play, they spend an age in there laughing, splashing and singing.
STARTING SCHOOL: Kira went to ‘The Preschool’ in Bello Monte when she was 2, every day from 7.30-11.30am. She made a fuss for about the first two days and since has walked in happily without even a second look back at us – the teachers love her and make a fuss of her every morning when we drop her off. She talks about and imitates Teacher Joyce and Teacher Fabiana frequently. Kira talks about her friends at school: Claire is her best friend and so is Mikol. Valeria, Iyeva, Arturo, Juan Pablo, Valentina & Paula. She was so happy going that we thought we should try to send Bethany this year also, even though she was much younger at just 18 months. But with the restrictions of the city being as they are and me having to work full-time I didn’t want to leave her in the apartment all day with Velma and so we tried it with the intent to take her out if it was too much. Bethany. Loves. School. Wow! She is the first out of the door each morning, lives for every second of it and walks in so confidently and so self-assured that I worry she is happier there than at home!
HIDE & SEEK: This is currently their favorite game to play each evening when we come home from work. Kira is very brave and will let all three of us hide together and she is patient looking for us. Bethany is more timid and needs one of us, or Kira, to be with her when she seeks. They love hiding in the wardrobe and not so long ago I woke up at 4am to find them out of their room and playing hide in our bedroom closet! They hide in the fairy house and under the tables and beds. They know where you are but pretend they don’t and they count really loud and peek through their fingers over their eyes. It is so much fun and keeps them entertained for hours! Their second favorite game is party time! We put loud music on and dance and play and sing together in the living room. Kira has started to take more charge and makes sure everyone knows where they need to stand if we are in a circle. They run and run around the house to either hop little bunnies or gangham style – opposite tastes in music!
OPPOSITES: I don’t know if it is the age or the personalities or a magical twist of the two. Kira is really caring and gives the best cuddles you could hope for. She sleeps well and is quite shy at times, especially in new situations. She can be very bossy and loves to play ‘teacher’ with her baby dolls! She loves to be outside, collecting leaves or running about and has just learnt to write her own name which she and us are very proud of her for. She also loves to color and will sit quietly and happily play with building blocks or her dolls house. Bethany is much more hyperactive, she loves to dance and move around and will not sit still for longer than 2 minutes at a time. She is a much lighter sleeper than Kira and will bounce out of bed at 5am ready for the day! She is very lovable, cheeky and funny and more confident with strangers and more deliberately naughty than Kira. She will happily chat away and sings at the top of her voice all day long!
I will add to this list as I think back to our time here but with time getting busier and busier I want to wrap this up and so: Kira & Bethany have been and are the light of my life. I love creeping in and giving them goodnight kisses before I go to bed – Kira is flat out on her back, Bethany on her tummy both wiped out and exhausted by the games of the day. It is almost painful how much I love my two little Venezuelan girls. On a daily basis, and alongside all the tantrums and hard times that come from being a parent of two toddlers, I want them to know much joy, how much love, and how many smiles they have given us and those around them in the short time they have been with us so far.