Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Home is where my loves are...

We put in an offer. We didn't get the house.

The last week, especially the past 24 hours, have been stressful and anxiety-filled and hopeful and in the end just disappointing and frustrating. When I heard our (above list price offer) was not accepted and that someone had offered even more money with even more appealing pieces to their offer it's hard not to take it very personally, but at the same time my reaction told me a lot about this house. I am so sad to have to start the looking process up again, I am exhausted by it. And yet, I am not really mourning this particular house, in fact I am suddenly feeling relief about certain things which I had talked myself into being ok with to make the offer. [Enjoy the pink granite kitchen counters and the significant taxes for those views, new owners] I have nothing but peace about us not getting this house and for that I am thankful, and for the prayers and support of so many of our friends and family in the process, I am even more thankful.

As I ate dinner with the kids tonight, Nora managing to get quinoa and yogurt everywhere as she excitedly fed herself, and Levi jabbering away a mile a minute and telling me about his day - every minute of which I had spent with him of course, so it was not new information, I had an overwhelming sense of contentment. In the moments of life happening, I felt at peace.

Later, as the kids were taking their bath and squealing with delight as they popped the bubbles I was blowing or covering themselves in soap suds I couldn't help but smile. This is our life and our home is whereever it happens.

When Jeremy walks through the door after work to whoops and cheers, even some from me if it's been a particularly long afternoon, I am home too.

Yes, we are tired of some of the details of this living arrangement and ready for our own space, but we are also already home.

This time last week we didn't even know that this particular house existed. Who knows what tomorrow might bring? The market is picking up, along with the competition, so who knows how many houses we will have to offer on before we get one, but I trust that until then we can find our home in the midst of life together if we just open our eyes.

Our forever house is out there somewhere, and we might have to search for a while longer to find it and then fight tooth and nail to actually get it but one day, some day, we will be nomads no longer.

I might take the next 24 hours to feel a bit sorry for myself; take it easy, order a pizza at 3am to the address of the house we didn't get to thank the owners who didn't accept our offer (just kidding) and consume more chocolate than is healthy for me but after that I will put my game face back on and get back on the househunting train.

Choo choo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring already!

Spring arrived already. And up until it sprang we had had some beautiful weather, but since then the rains have returned.

What a gloomy day, I have chili bubbling in the crock pot because this morning it just felt right! We made it out of the house to the song and story time at the local library which was a nice reason to get out of the house but we still got soaked getting to and from the car! The kids love the children's librarian and she does such a good job! (This activity is one of our favourite new discoveries of living here in Newcastle)

Levi has been on a mission to drive us crazy the past couple of days, just being so disobedient, defiant and seeming not to care about any discipline we try to offer. He is in a season of not really needing to nap every day, and when he does nap, he ends up going to bed later, sometimes not falling asleep until close to 9pm! But he still gets up at 6 or 6.30am and then is just so difficult. If he doesn't nap, he's crashed before 7pm but afternoons are miserable. It means that day to day I'm not sure if naps will happen and his little body is struggling with the adjustment. I just wish (again) that we were in a space where we could figure out a good and consistent quiet time routine for him so he had some down time even when he wasn't napping but the set up means he would be disturbing Nora and that doesn't seem fair, and also means he is starting to have his hour of medically okay-ed screen time most days because it keeps him still and quiet :)

Nora is sleeping much better on the whole. She is 90% weaned now, praise God for the simplicity of that process. She still nurses once usually around 9 or 10 pm but other than that she's taking milk in bottles. (Can we please talk about the fact it might be less expensive for our family to buy a cow than keep our kids supplied with organic milk, we are now getting through close to 4 gallons a week!) She started only take a few ounces at a time which had me worried and shoveling yogurt and cheese into her at every opportunity to keep her dairy up, but in the past couple of days shes taking close to 8oz at a time for each of her 4 feeds! She is also eating like champ so I think she is realising that there is no middle of the night snacking any more! It has and will mean a few more rough nights for us as a family as she shows her discontentment with just being offered a pacifier at night but she's getting used to the idea and complaining less. Of course the day after we started weaning she came down with a cold and now I think shes cutting some more teeth so poor kid has been through the ringer but she's still managing smiles.

I am sure Nora's weaning and night time unsettled-ness is part of the reason Levi has been overtired as he gets disturbed by her when she is loud and awake. And the sleep disruption is certainly not helping Jeremy and I be the nicest to each other either :)

Not that we have anything big on our plates or anything like trying to buy a house, oh, wait...yes, we do.
On that front we finally found a house we love. Its fantastic. Checks most of our boxes and would be great, but for that reason it's a very popular listing and there are already a bunch of pre-inspections happening so we know we are only one of many people wanting to make this place home. They are reviewing all the offers at the same time on Wednesday afternoon and in a market of cash buyers, developers and houses going for $150,000 above asking price we are not holding our breath. We are praying and trusting that God has a place for us, but facing the reality that it is not likely to be this place, even though we would love, love, love it if our offer was chosen.

Life goes on, busy and crazy in a very normal way. Happy Spring to one and all! I am certainly eager to see the ways in which this spring holds new life for me and our family.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let the weaning commence!

I was very fortunate to have been able to breastfeed both my babies. I didn't have an easy time of it either time for different reasons but I am glad I persevered. When Levi was ten months old I got pregnant with Nora and the medication I had to start taking meant I had to stop nursing cold turkey. Levi was a dream about this sudden change of life, I began giving him four, 8oz bottles a day and he would drink the whole lot down every time without a second look. [Side note : He also started sleeping through the night at this point too, so I saw his night time wakings were hunger related] I think my supply must have dropped more than I realised and he was hungry and eager to eat those yummy calories :)

When Nora turned ten months, I made sure I was 100% NOT pregnant and again at eleven and twelve months (and for the foreseeable future) She is far more attached to nursing than Levi ever was. She isn't all business about it like he was but happy to take her time, latch on and off and generally just enjoys having it there when it takes her fancy.

I haven't put her on a feeding schedule, but still just feed on demand as she asks for it or as I need to use it to settle her or calm her down. You see what I said there, I use it for more than just "feeding" and there in lies the problem now she is a year old and I want my body back!

I am ready to be done nursing. I am ready to feel a sense of freedom and that I can be away from her without causing her distress. However, my sweet opinionated little lady doesn't always appreciate being offered a bottle and she certainly doesn't have the capacity to drink as much as Levi did in one go - at least, I don't think she does?!

I decided to try and start feeding at set times a day and then pick a feed to replace with a bottle of milk (thankfully she likes cow's milk). Maybe do that for a few days/ a week and then pick another feed to phase out. Ending hopefully with her drinking at least 16oz of milk a day (plus water). Slow and steady wins the race and all that. However, I have a girls weekend away booked for April and I will be going so we do  have a deadline :)

I was so nervous but day one - which is today, has gone great. I gave her a bottle for her second feed, after she woke up from her morning nap and she took the 4 oz I prepared (it was an amount her doc recommended starting with) and I think if there had been 6 she might have finished that too so tomorrow I will increase it. Then she ate a snack bar, lunch a little later and then nursed before going down for her second nap. I feel peace that we might actually be able to do this.

Night time will actually be the toughest, because she is nursing for comfort and I am nursing to keep her quiet so she doesn't wake up Levi while we are all in the same room. I am praying we can find something that works. Maybe as I increase her bottles/milk and decrease nursing she will start sleeping better too? I can but hope and pray.

I just feel a pang of sadness that this nursing season is ending. Even though its my idea and my desire. I am not sure what the future holds for our family in terms of adding another baby at any time (not any time soon, but any time ever) This might be it. This might be some of the final times I am connecting with my daughter in this way. In the craziness of life with two little ones, I have enjoyed those times of one on one time with just my baby. I think we will have to start snuggling and reading books more often to replace that time.

So here we are, day one half under my belt. It wasn't terrible but my girl knows how to mix it up. I am sure tomorrow will be a whole different experience so I hope she is still happy to take the bottle.

I am also hoping that gradually reducing her feeds will help me not t get too uncomfortable :)

Any tips (for any aspects of this process) from mamas who have been there and done that much appreciated.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

He is for me

I can hear Levi and Jeremy outside kicking a ball, and Nora is sleeping in her crib. I have spent every spare minute this weekend doing laundry, dishes or something else on a long to do list, so I am taking this minute of quiet to write.

Levi hit 2.5 and he's really good at it. Most of the time he is a doll, charming us with his cute narrative of life and questions about the way the world works but he has his moments when his toddler emotions just emote all over the place; he yells "no", cries huge tears, runs away when called, pushes his sister down and runs away to avoid consequences. It's not unique behaviour by any means but its challenging and it's keeping Jeremy and I on our parenting toes.

We are still camped out at Jeremy's parents and the close quarters are certainly losing their charm. We are visiting lots of houses as they come on the market but we seem to get our hopes dashed every time. I am not sure how the realtors manage to make the houses seem so perfect in pictures - I guess that's the point but we have seen some real doozies recently, really bad, like 2 inches of standing water across the backyard/wetlands, bad.

I have been feeling the burden of sustaining relationships with friends and keeping Levi seeing his friends while we are here. The driving is exhausting to me but I feel stuck. As I was driving the other day a song came on the radio that has the line "Jesus he loves you, He is for you" All of a sudden tears are streaming down my face. A relief washed over me; God knows where I am. This situation is not a punishment or something I have to survive. God is with me and he is for me. He loves me.

Some days that's all I need to remember.

I am doing the best I can and he is on my side, everything is going to be GOOD. More than that, everything IS good.

Here I am. I have a loving husband, a beautiful son, and darling daughter and a roof over our heads, not to mention the means to find our own home. We are so fortunate and so blessed.

Here is the music video to the song on the radio. If you havent heard it I hope you can feel encouraged.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dear Nora - Happy First birthday, love bug!!

I cannot believe I am sitting down to write your first birthday letter. The fire is roaring in the wood stove next to me and you are sleeping soundly (for now) in the pack and play. We are still staying with your Grandma and Grandpa Blocher while we look for a house. You have officially lived here for half your life. This is not the vision we had for your first year as we all sleep in one room and live on top of each other but you enjoy your Grandparents so much it's not something you see as a struggle in anyway at all. I know you will miss them terribly when we do move into our own place and begin a new normal.

You continue to bring so much laughter into our family, sweet girl. You are such a ham and you know it. You have such a sense of humor and its so much fun to witness as you interact with us.

You have decided that you love to do action songs this month and you sit on my lap for the whole of the story and song time at the library - you never sit still so it's worthy of a mention. You watch all the kids and jabber away. You open and shut your hand for "open, shut them" and wave your arm back and forth trying to do wheels on the bus. First thing in the morning you often sit up and open just one hand, for "Twinkle, twinkle little star" which is a favourite, (you have even mastered making the diamond shape with your pointer fingers and thumb!) even though at 6am its tough for me to sound too enthusiastic, but you don't seem to judge quality, thankfully :) Just tonight when I was rocking you to sleep, I was humming the elevator song and realised that in your dream state you were lifting your arms up and down in the chorus! You love music and I love watching you love it.

Your inner bookworm continues to grow, and you have some faves. You love the ones with animals in the best, and point out dogs and bunnies on every page they are featured and then make your cute noises. You hardly ever finish one book before you are pulling out the next but you just love to look at the pictures.

You still don't say a ton of words, not that that hinders you getting your point across ever, but still, you say, "mama" and newly "dada" and "awe duh" (all done) You grunt a lot and when you are desperate to say something you bounce up and down waving your arms in the air at the same time! Even without much official language to speak of, you make your wants known with ease. You use a few signs to communicate too but I think you feel that grunts work just as effectively.

Your walking is really starting to take off, you gain confidence every day and slowly but surely are becoming a real little toddler. I love it, but I will miss your wiggle when you crawl, its so cute!

You are a big fan of accessories and are always bringing me your shoes or hats to put on and you wear them with pride.

You still love to hold two of the same things in your hands, and because your brother likes to step out of his socks all the time, you have a constant source for your obsession. This would be fine except for the fact you keep depositing them in strange places all over the house - thankfully you leave them together so we often find a complete pair but still, your brother will have none left one of these days!!

You still love to eat, except when your teeth are bugging you, but you can be hot and cold about the foods you like. One day you eat your weight in carrots and the next day you are not interested. You still love to nurse, and only take 4oz in a bottle at night before bed.  We will be heading down the weaning road soon and I know we will both miss it very much, but honestly I'm hoping it will help you sleep longer at night and settle easier at nap time. You are getting better with your sleep but it could still improve :) You nap 1.5hrs in the morning and about the same  in the afternoon but our living situation means you're often woken up in the afternoon so I am curious if having your own space will help you to sleep for longer.

You love to rock on the rocking horse and the rocking chairs and have just figured out climbing on the little rocking chair and sitting down all by yourself!

When Daddy gets home from work at night, you and Levi really enjoy jumping on him and bouncing on the bed too. You are so excited to be big enough to join in with all the fun now :)

We love you so, so much and enjoy your sweet spirit and hilarious sense of humor, you are ever the jokester.

Thank you for being our sweet love bug, Happy Birthday!


Mama xx

Here are a couple of pictures from your party (2/14/15)



Monday, February 2, 2015

Another new season...

The freezing days have made way for more mild wet and windy ones, the crocuses are budding in the front garden and the days are starting to seem longer. Winter is preparing to leave us and soon spring will come.

[Side note: I got a book out of the library about Spring to read with Levi because he had started to notice the flowers budding and was asking some cute 2.5 year old questions about the changes. So mid-conversation Jeremy came into the room and I promted Levi by saying, tell Daddy which season is going to come after winter, to which he exclaimed with great joy, "Baseball season, woo hoo!!" This kid, I tell ya, has a one track mind! Technically he's not wrong, and I guess I already knew that bats and balls would be more exciting to him that flowers blooming but still.]

Anyway, our house hunt is starting to pick up, albeit very slooowly. We even went to view a house this weekend which we haven't gone since before Christmas so that in itself was exciting. It was a house with a very similar floor plan to the one we just sold, only it was bigger and had a great yard. All things we said we wanted and the familiar aspect of it was certainly a draw. However, it was priced way over what it will sell for. We think someone tried to flip it. They had bought it last year and now its back on the market at a significant price hike. Only they must not have done this before because they paid too much in the first place and then did renovations which did nothing to improve the value. For example they did new kitchen appliances which looked lovely but didn't change out the plastic counter and dirty, small sink? Then they put in laminate flooring which our realtor told us he found offensive in the price point they were selling in. (He is a hoot!) So all in all, I don't think they would ever accept the offer we would be willing to put in so it's a dead end unless something dramatic happens but it's a shame because the house had great bones, good neighborhood and great yard.

I'm getting increasingly agitated with the process and trying to keep focussed on embracing the present and not just wishing for the future.

I have been finding more time to sit quietly and read my Bible this year so far and even though it's a tough season I am finding rest in those times. I am able to hear God speaking to me through the scriptures and its a true encouragement.

I sense I will miss these days when we are in our own house again. I know I will miss the extra hands and eyes with the kids all day; the ease at which I can run an errand alone if I need to. And I will certainly miss only making dinner every other day!

Praying, praying, praying that our house comes on the market very soon and that we just know its the one for us. I'm ready. I have Pinterest boards coming out the wazoo with idea for our new spaces and I try to focus on that when I get down about everything moving slowly. Nothing like finding cute ideas for your baby girls bedroom to cheer my heart, especially since never got to make a nursery because we were planning a move! We can do nothing but wait, and be faithful to seek God as we do. We cannot make a house appear so we have to just have trust that we are in God's story right where we are and act accordingly.

Levi has been eager to get outside at every opportunity since the weather is warming up slightly and he has been making great use of Grandma and Grandpa's covered deck. In moments like that I remember the limitations of our old house and way we made the decision to move in the first place. I truly trust that our home is going to be revealed soon and I cannot wait! I am already imagining the kids playing outside this summer and having a blast, while I sip on iced tea and read a book, this is a fantasy after all.

I hope we will be spending Easter in our new house, and boy will we be feasting if we are but until than I'm reminding myself, one day at a time, keep my eyes on Jesus. Be here. Be present. Don't miss what he has for me, and for our whole family.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's cooking Mum hacks

When Levi started eating real food at almost 5 months old, I was almost giddy with excitement. I had a couple of baby cook books that I had been itching to try out and I spent ages at the store picking out produce and hours in the kitchen whipping up batches of various concoctions, freezing them in ice cube trays and then storing it all away in labelled zip lock bags. Each night I would take food out of the freezer for the next day, storing it in breakfast, lunch and dinner bowls and giving it time to defrost properly before I warmed it to perfect baby temperature the next day.

Levi loved purees and gladly ate whatever I fed him with little exception. By the time he was into finger foods, I had moved onto the later chapters of my cook books and was once again chomping at the bit to try out new recipes and new mixtures of flavours. And again, he devoured what he was given and I felt like a good Mum for giving him such a healthy start in life.

I love, love, love to cook and this part of motherhood was something I had been looking forward to for ages. I loved preparing meals for my family, baby and all. Levi's schedule meant that I would prepare his evening meal and feed him separately, at around 5pm so he was ready for bath and bed when Daddy got home. Sometimes he ate what we were having and sometimes I prepared something just for him. It wasn't until right before Nora was born that he started to eat meals with us and go to bed later so it gave me a year of being his personal chef, a role I just thrived in.

And then we welcomed Nora into our lives. Bless her feisty little heart. We never tried to get her fed and to bed as early as we had done with Levi because it just didn't seem to fit with the schedule of our family. Her sleeping was never as consistent and neither were her meal times. She is a typical second child in that respect. Food-wise I had high hopes and aspirations that she would have the same healthy, semi-gormet baby food experience that her brother had experienced...ha ha ha (That's me now, laughing at me then)

All of a sudden she was five months old and I realised that she was very interested in what we were eating. I needed to get it together. I will also add we were in the middle of a significant home remodel project with a goal to get the house on the market asap once it was finished so it wasn't exactly the most convenient timing (not her fault in any way, just life, but worthy of a mention).

I got a couple of sweet potatoes, pears, some carrots, squash and parsnips and made a batch of purees. Froze and stored them just like Levi and felt very accomplished. I didn't have the same sense of delight as I had done preparing his food but still it was done and checked off the list. Only, Nora didn't take to them with the same gusto as her brother. If only I could remember to get them out to defrost them in time she would eat a few bites but it felt like a lot of effort for this lukewarm reception! Still, she was into eating. Her fine motor skills surpassed Levi and she was very quickly not interested in being spoon fed but instead wanted to pick up food and feed herself. I am not anti baby-led weaning on principle but honestly it requires a level of supervision that I wasn't always in a place to provide while chasing a toddler too. Not to mention she didn't get her first tooth until almost 9 months old so that limited our options too. She had lots of store bought (organic) puffs [Yes, I mention they are organic just to lessen my Mum guilt, bear with me] She had small bites of toast in the morning, scrambled egg when Levi had that, maybe some banana? But seriously, her people food menu for the first few months was limited to say the least and at best inconsistent.

By this time we had sold our house and were here, living with my in-laws. No one was sleeping well and life just had extra stress which put making my own baby food much lower on the list. Every meal time I would feel guilty and every time when she would nurse desperately after a meal time I felt terrible. The store bought snacks and bars became a staple and even though the emergence of her two teeth made slices of pear or cucumber a non life threatening addition to her menu I still felt she needed more.

Then it happened, one day when I was in the baby aisle at Safeway getting some bars and I saw the pouches of purees. I picked up a couple of veggie blends and promised myself I would only use them in an emergency - which meant of course they were eaten over the next two days and I returned for more. Apparently, it wasn't the puree itself she was anti, just her lack of independence in eating it. If she could hold and suck the pouch she gladly did. For a month or so she ate one almost every day and almost every day I would find myself wishing she wasn't and justifying it but never really feeling ok about the decision, more just feeling like it was the only option to feed my baby.

Then one day, I bought a pouch that was something like, 'Kale, spinach and quinoa' and when I got home I realised I had all those ingredients at home. That was it. I needed to try and make her food again. I had reusable pouches that I had bought for Levi but he'd never really taken to and for some reason had them with us and hadn't stored them away in the move so I dug them out and got to work.

I was so stuck on fresh produce which this time of the year is hard to find a huge variety of anyway and we were now miles from our beloved market which stocked all kinds of organic bounty and were making do with Safeways offerings so that made things even less available. I had an epiphany. Frozen food.

While many fruits and veggies are not in season to buy fresh there are lots of frozen, organic options that are good year round and honestly, in this season of life are easier and quicker to prepare anyway. That's the Mum hack part :)

I tried cooking peach slices, strawberries, blueberries spinach and quinoa together, blended it and put it in a pouch which was supped down in record time by my littlest lovely. Score!

I also picked up a frozen root vegetable blend frozen mix that I have cooked and blended with brown rice, again to rave reviews.

She is still very into feeding herself so the  pouches are only part of her meals, but honestly this has been a real journey of heart for me. Recognizing my own limits and values and finding my way to a balance. Making a way to find peace with both those pieces of my heart and finding joy in feeding my family again!

It might seem silly, but its been heavy on my heart. We all have our Mum things, right?

For some it's screen time and what their kids can or cannot watch, for others it is what kind of diapers they wear, for me it's food. It's my creative outlet, and I want to raise kids who are not afraid of new flavours or who are unwilling to try new foods. It is a work in progress. As they grow up, they do and will have seasons where pickiness or times when preference will become an issue but so far these have been short lived. So if food is your thing, and you are a mama struggling with something similar I urge you to find your way to balance. If cost is an issue then frozen is also a great option. And honestly, its been such fun to mix up the different fruits and veggies and see my baby girl experience new tastes and textures.

Levi is old enough now to want to help in the kitchen and I love that he shows interest and then takes pride in the things we cook together. I hope that soon Nora will be eager to join the team too :)

[Now, if we could just find a house so we can have these experiences in our own kitchen, that would be even more fabulous!]

*Just in case it's not clear, this is in no way a judgement (I know I can get defensive really quickly if I feel like someone is telling me I'm not doing the best by my kids) Many kids I know have been raised on store bought foods and they are just as happy and healthy as mine. It also doesn't mean I will never feed Nora store bought baby foods, this was just a slice of the journey to finding peace with how I am feeding my kids; the choices that I made and how I let life make those choices for a while before I decided that I had to make a change and find a way to make her food.

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