Sunday, January 10, 2016

Word of the year 2016 - Notice

Each year I try to choose a word that will focus my goals and my mind through the year. Some years it has turned out to be more integral than others but I have always found it has helped as I have made big decisions or gone through big transitions during the year.

This year's word is NOTICE.

Last year was full of challenges and it left me dry; spiritually, emotionally, relationally.  I feel as though I was beyond becoming self focussed, that's usually my response in overwhelming times, but I feel like I moved beyond that to just caring for my kids and husband in the most basic of ways. If I got through the day with both kids fed and changed and had something on the table for dinner it was a good day. And if I got there without crying or totally losing my temper then it was even better.
What was the point of it all? What was God's plan? What was my life worth day to day? I felt lost, like I was being carried along on a wave.

This year, I am hoping that some of the big life changes we went through will start to feel more like normal life. We will finally get around to some of the things which have been hanging around our necks on a heavy to do list, and that I can find my direction again.

I am hoping that this year I can focus on the things I have, and am; to celebrate the good and challenge myself not to settle for the bad.

To do this I need to be aware. I need to notice.

I need to take a second, a breath, to notice when I make a good parenting decision as well as when I make a bad one. To notice when my kiddos are needing my attention and I'm distracted by something less important. To notice when my spirit is running dry and to make time to do something to be filled up. To notice when God is revealing a sin issue I need to address, and to notice when he is loving me in those moments too. I want to notice the goodness in my life - because there is so much of it - and I want my heart to be thankful in the measure I am blessed.

So watch out 2016 - because I'm going to be watching you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

and just like that...

the holidays are over.

We are heading full force into a new year in only a few short days. How in the world did that happen?!

We said goodbye to my parents and my brother this afternoon.  They had been staying with us for Christmas and it was a truly sweet time as we shared making gingerbread houses, baking cakes, decorating Christmas cake and other festive activities as we waited for Christmas to come :) It was so special to see how much the kids loved their grandparents and uncle being here and available to them in person! I will certainly miss their company, not to mention their help playing with the children and around the house. They are certainly not hard guests to host.

Jeremy still has a few days of vacation before heading back to work after the new year, and I am already dreading it. It's just so nice to have other adults around during the day. I am realising that more and more I need to be a better planner for my days home with my kiddos. I need connection with other grown ups during that day so I don't go crazy! I am hoping that since everyone we know seems to have had the stomach flu cycle through their families in the lead up to Christmas we might be able to start hanging out with our friends again soon :) It was a pretty lonely December before my family arrived as everyone shared this nasty bug and plans got cancelled.

2015 has not been the easiest year. We struggled to find a house and spent the first half of the year living away from our friends and community with my in-laws. Then we found a house (praise the Lord) and moved in, but moving house and establishing a home with a baby and a preschooler is no easy task, in fact it felt totally overwhelming at times and we are still far from having the house set up how we want despite Jeremy's valiant efforts in that direction. Most days and weeks it feels as though we are treading water just to stay on top of keeping the kids alive so anything more like hanging pictures on the wall is beyond us. I am hoping that this week before he returns to work we can finally get a few things crossed off the list while finding a balance and having some family fun as well.

Of course, later in the year, just as things were getting into some sort of routine we fell pregnant and I spent the next few months so sick and barely off the couch when I wasn't taking Levi to and from school. We emerged from that to the craziness of the holiday season and that's where you find me now.

I am really hoping that the new year will bring a chance to find some peace and feel like I have a sense of doing life well and not just being carried along on a wave of crazy which is kind of how its been. It's exhausting to have to hold your head above water for a long period of time. I need some time sitting on the beach :) (Literally and figuratively)

I know bringing a new baby into our family doesn't exactly scream peace and rest but trying to imagine the baby coming while we are feeling the way I have been is too much to even consider, seriously, it makes me cry to think about it, so something has to change before that happens.

I have let me tiredness keep me away from my weekly small group for a couple of months and that community is vital to my survival. The new year will be a lot about re establishing routines and activities which we have let slide; regular church attendance, small group, regular play dates, regular date nights just to name a few.

I'm eagerly anticipating the new year and all the possibilities for good and healing it holds. Just have to pack away the Christmas decorations now...

Here are Nora and I on Christams day playing with her new jewellery and box




Monday, November 30, 2015

One at a time

My babies are growing up so fast into little people of their own. I feel like it happened overnight. I am certainly no longer parenting a baby and a child, I most definitely have two full blown children!

At a recent playdate with a good friend of Levi's who we hung out with a bunch this summer it struck me so clearly. Nora was no longer content to sit with me while the boys played, or get on with her own game, she had to be right where all the action was, getting in on all the tussles for certain toys and had to be involved in the games the boys were playing. Such a difference from the easy days of summer playdates where I could really just keep an eye on her while she amused herself and the only kiddo I had to worry about watching more closely was Levi and his lack of willingness to share or take turns. Holy moley. "Parenting" two children, especially two that have such strong wills (I thought second borns were supposed to be easy going?!!) is a whole new, exhausting, ball game!

That said, I am realising more and more the importance of spending quality one on one time with each of them. Having time to truly see each of my kids; to learn what they love in this moment, how they play in this season of life, seeing newly acquired skills and teaching and encouraging those to emerge is so very needed, by all of us.

L and N were born only eighteen months apart so it feels even more important to take time to see them on their own. They are close enough in age that many activities are things we do together and I just expect them to experience it in the same way - which in some aspects they do, but in so many ways their experiences are vastly different and I want to make sure that I am taking time to value each of those experiences.

This is something I have been pondering for a while but this morning I was able to volunteer in Levi's preschool class while Grandma and Grandpa hung out with our Nora girl. It was such a gift.

My little boy is challenging at times, and he's certainly become a ball of emotion since turning three but he is also growing into a sweetheart, a respectful young man and a kind and fun friend. I just loved being a fly on the wall in this place where he spends 9 hours a week, usually without me. He is confident but polite, he knows the routines and has developed sweet friendships with the boys and girls in his class. It's fun to see who he chooses to play with as well as seeing kids pursuing him to play. Seeing the things in his classroom that he is drawn to was also eye opening; at first he just wanted to show me everything and went from activity to activity but he settled down and I was impressed with the things he chose to play with for longer, who knew he would be entertained for so long by the magnetic dress up doll that could be a fireman or an astronaut or a cowboy? But he and a friend spent ages dressing and changing him. I was especially impressed by how he cleaned up when it was time!

He was loving having my complete attention and it was a really heartwarming time to see his eyes lighting up when I responded that I could play whatever game he was asking of me. No distractions.

I had to set out the snack for the morning and he helped me, and he actually helped. When did that happen? When did he become a kid that was old enough, skilled enough and willing enough to be a true helper?

We were talking in the car on the way home about the family and friends we were going to invite to his Christmas performance and after I finished the list he sighed happily and said, "it's all the people we love". Melt my heart, yes indeed sweet boy.

That time together set the bar for the quality of the rest of our day too. Everything seemed easier because he wasn't fighting for my attention. He'd had that time. He'd been seen and heard, appreciated and known and his heart was content.

So Levi this is what life looks like for you at three years, and almost 4 months old;

You love riding anything with wheels; bikes, trikes, scooters, cars.

You are becoming quite the telly addict (we are working to keep your tv time down - it certainly increased with my crazy first trimester of morning sickness) and your faves are; Paw Patrol, Super Why, Super Wings, Fireman Sam, Wild Kratts and Caillou. And you use these shows to base a lot of your imaginative play while expanding the themes to some crazy games.

You still LOVE to drink milk - about 32oz a day

You are starting to be dry through the night most nights and are totally toilet trained in the pee department during the day but always ask for a pull-up to go number 2 - we are working on getting that habit changed but for now it works. 

You love to play with your sister but you have a hard time remembering to be gentle sometimes. You also struggle to share toys but are pretty good at trying to find something she would want to trade with you so you get what you want! Ever the negotiator!

You are so excited to become a big brother again and ask to listen to the baby's heartbeat often, getting so excited when you do. You  wear your loveys in your shirt a lot and then birth a new tiny baby who cries a lot and needs his mummy - which is you!

Speaking of, Loveys are still your best friends in the whole world and go everywhere with you.

Your language continues to explode and it blows us away - the other day at the park you made us laugh when you yelled, "Quick! Run! The creditors and coming!" We are fairly certain you meant predators but it was hilarious at the time!

Ok, there are a million more bullet points I could write but I'm going to leave it here. And sign off this blog with a reminder to myself to fight to make individual time for each of my kids in my schedule and to spend it getting to know their world better, and I encourage you other mummies to do the same as and when you can. It will warm your heart I promise.

And as they say, the days are long and the years are short. Before long, Levi might not want me to share his world like he does now,. One day it will be the last time he asks me to play trains, or read dinosaur dig. One day he won't need to ask what sound a particular letter makes because he will already know. I am hopeful and prayerful that investing individually in the kiddos will foster a stronger connection into the future.

I love my kids fiercely and this individual time lets them see that in an unquestionable way.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Expecting and announcing number 3

I just posted an announcement on Facebook and Instagram. I guess it's official. It's out there. We are expecting another baby in May.

Oh boy! (or girl, we have no idea yet)

I am twelve weeks and a few days pregnant and have been dragging my feet about telling people because it was such a shock. Telling people felt like I was making something up. My tummy was swelling undeniably but it was easy to forget I was pregnant in the busyness of the day that is caring for two little kiddos. At least in theory. I have been super sick this time around which is also fun to navigate while taking care of kids and a house and a husband who is travelling a lot for work in this season. That made the forgetting harder, but sometimes the reason for the sickness slipped my mind. Thank the Lord for our community group and the few friends and family we told early on who brought meals when Jeremy was out of town, kept me company when my couch was as far as I could travel, and sat with my kids while I napped. THANK YOU ALL.

The sickness and complete exhaustion is at last starting to pass as we have entered this our twelfth week and I could not be more excited about that.

Early pregnancy has always been a tricky time because I don't like to tell people before we are "safe" but I have such a hard time making chit chat and not being honest. If I am feeling so sick from morning sickness I don't want to pretend I am feeling well, but I also don't want sympathy for an illness I don't have. It means our world becomes pretty small in these first months. Now things are out in the open it feels like the world has opened up again and we can get back to business as usual.

I am so excited for that. But I am terrified about the future.

This pregnancy was unplanned and unmedicated. I didn't think that was possible. We'd lost most of our other pregnancies (pre-Levi) by the time we even found out this was happening. This is truly a miracle. Knowing how much God had to overcome in my body to sustain this little one is sometimes the only small grain of peace I have that I can manage with three little ones under age 4. He must have really wanted this baby to be in our family, and in that I trust. But the reality of the day to day is still too much for my overwhelmed mama's heart to even consider most days.

So for today I am sharing our news because this in itself is worth sharing with those we love.

We are expecting a baby.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

High five, me!

My darling hubby has been traveling for work this week so I have been solo. It's not my favourite but I am learning to find peace with carrying the family and the home while he shoulders the work burden. When he is home, he is my safe place and my support, so without that coming home each night I used to get quite overwhelmed, but recently it's felt slightly more manageable.

This was not your typical week though. Levi started preschool, which he has taken to like a duck to water - a very happy duck, but it meant that our morning routines have suddenyl become a flurry of busy to get out the door on time.

The weather has also turned into fall almost overnight so I am suddenly having to remember coats and socks with shoes to keep little feet dry. And negitiate traffic which gets crazy at the first real rains of the year.

I also scheduled the kids firsrt dentist appointments for today. I am not sure what I was thinking.

Poor Levi is wiped after three days of school and was super emotional so adding the dentist was almost the tipping point. He held it together even though he was uncomfortable - the dentist was great - but Levi's fear just fed into Nora's already screaming refusal to go anywhere near the dentist, so she got a very, very general "check up".

But as for me. I wasn't even sweating that much. It was life and I was coping. More than coping, I had this covered.

Mum of two little kids going to the dentist. Check.

There was a Central market grocery store across from the dentist so we went to see their live lobster, shrimp and crabs - its like a free aquarium. They also have an old tractor for kids to play on and in the brief rain break, both kids enjoyed finding their inner farmer.

I could tell both kids were fading and it was the one day this week I haven't packed up a lunch when left the house in the morning (or on the way to pick Levi up). My kids are car sleepers and I want them to eat lunch before falling asleep. I have talked before about how I feed them lunch in their car seats so they eat well before nap time. So I bought 3 chicken tenders and 4 potato wedges  (last of the big spenders) as well as a bag of grapes and that was lunch.

They both crashed out in the car a few minutes after we started driving.

So I'm home. I fit in a devotional time and now I am collecting my thoughts enough to blog and catching up with a show on the DVR.

My feet are up.

My heart is full.

High five, me!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First day of school for all of us

Levi started pre school this week. I'm not sure how I feel about this at all. I was anticipating tears and clinging when I tried to leave, but he happily investigated the classroom and gave me a hug and kiss as I left. He didn't even really look back. He was so ready. He is loving every minute. For the past two days when I have come to collect him he has bounded up to me with the biggest smile on his face; happy to see me but full of glee about the morning he has had.

Apparently, he was ready for this. Maybe more ready than me.

I feel a little numb that this is happening. That for 9 hours a week, I hand over my baby boy to the care of other people. I think I would be bearing my mum guilt with less ease if he wasn't loving every single second and making me prouder than I thought possible. His independent spirit, fun-loving, playful self is thriving. He needed this. He needed a challenge. Something that was just his.

I think it will mean we are revisiting Levi's afternoon nap more frequently because he has been so tired! 

While he is at school I have about full 2 hours to just be with my girl. He is gone for 3 hours but getting home from dropping him and then going back to get him I am seeing my actual "free time" is only two thirds of that. I am having so much fun being a mama to just my girl. She is hilarious and such a delight. Not that I don't know or experience that every day, but having some one on one time id really special. Having the chance to have her play with friends closer to her age, as well as having time to just sit and play baby dolls, read books, colouring etc. has already been fun. I am sure we will get into our own routine as the days go on. Maybe, we'll try going swimming once a week?! I would have to be very brave :)

She is certainly not happy that we leave Levi somewhere. She is very concerned when we leave, not to mention unhappy that she can't stay. And he is SO excited to see her at the end of her morning. Maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder?!

This is a new season for me as a mum. Not to mention for us as a family. Now we have to think about a school calendar as we make plans. I have to step up my game when it comes to being organized. Keeping times and dates in my head for everything that comes with school life. Not that this is a bad thing in any way. The new house certainly needs more of that!

God is so good. I see the prayers of friends and family in how simple the entry to preschool has been. I hope and will be praying that it continues even when the novelty has worn off.
My prayers for time to get to know Nora on a deeper level and having precious time with her are answered as I look ahead to the year. I am giddy to think of the adventures we will all be having in this new season.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Nora - Eighteen months old

My little firecracker,

How time flies when you are having fun, and boy you are just full of fun lately!

You are still a huge fan of your pacifier (we are working on keeping it just for bedtime, but its a challenge) You call it "Paefier". Adorable.
Your vocabulary is increasing day by day and it's so fun to hear you naming the objects in your life and trying to express yourself. You have the following words down; toast, chocolate, mama, dada, muk (milk), E-i (Levi) buba (baby), book,"per" (up) as well as a wide range of animal noises which are super cute. I know there are more words, i am sure since I started typing you have probably added at least one more new one too, but those are the ones I can hear you say in my mind.

You are such a great little mama. You love to play with your baby dolls, putting them to bed in the crib and covering them with blankets, feeding them, pushing them in strollers or the shopping cart, often with your little purse hooked over your arm or a pretend cell phone in hand. You are a busy lady already!

You have been so eager to be like your brother and try sitting on the toilet to pee or poop and yesterday, you managed to pee on the toilet after trying hard! I am not ready to potty train you yet, but you are very aware of your body and might be ready to train yourself. Oi Vey!

You continue to be a great little eater, not really fussy at all but certainly going through a phase of having favorites one week that you turn your nose up at the next! Its a guessing game for my shopping but if you are refusing blueberries but now consuming copious amounts if snap peas I'm not really in a place to complain. You eat well through the day but STOCK UP at dinner like its your last meal! Your fine motor skills are well developed and you manipulate food with your spoon and fork easily and with little mess. You still drink milk 4 times a day and water with meals, you are a good little hydrator. You want to be grown up, and are eager to transition from the high chair to the little table and chairs. You have a had time sitting still but you just love to be a big girl. Your favourite breakfast is granola and yogurt (this week).

We are trying to help you drop your first nap of the day or at least limit it to a cat nap. If we head out in the morning you often get a 5-10 minute snooze around 9.30am and that is just fine. You still fall asleep hard for about 2 hours around 1pm.You are obsessed with your fleece blanket and even through the crazy heat wave we have seen this summer, you want it over you to settle to sleep -  although, I do peel it off after you are asleep! You often fall asleep with one pacifier in your moth and one on each index finder, ha ha, it looks so funny but it doesn't seem to stop you sleeping.

We read to you before bed and naps and you are starting to love picture books where you point and name so many objects. However, your very favourite book is called, Toot. It's about tooting and you think it's hilarious. You laugh out loud even though we read it multiple times a day. You also enjoy, Dear Zoo and the Ladybug Girl board books, as well as, Where is baby's belly button. We have a few books in the car and you always choose the Baby Giggles and point to the page where the baby is picking her nose.

You are your father's daughter in your love of all things tidy and neat. If you step on something on the floor you go straight to the closet and get the broom to sweep. You think it's a treat to throw rubbish in the bin and are so proud of yourself when you do, you often come and take me by the hand to show me, with a huge smile on your face! I look forward to these skills becoming more helpful in the years to come :)

You are a joy and a delight sweet one, we are loving watching you grow up before our eyes. You have a keen sense of adventure and a fun loving spirit which makes us smile all the time.

Love Mama x

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