Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Chillin' with E.

A few quiet minutes chilling on the couch with my little man were an easy delight today!

He is just so delicious...

Always got time for books!

Capturing his curls...
On his way off the couch (for even the sweetest cosiest moments can't last long when you are 18 months old and have serious work/play to do), Little E bestowed me with some farewell kisses and his signature cheery little smile.

I could seriously eat that delicious little shoulder!

My baby is almost 19 months and just seeming ever so grown up these days - talking more and more, laughing, singing, dancing and able to really engage and play 'proper' games with his sister, to her utmost delight! I am just really relishing being with my boy right now, he has just grown up so much over the summer into a real little toddler, baby no more, and I love to see his character emerging more and more each day...

A farewell smooch!
To copy an idea I saw on my dear friend Amber's blog, I thought it would be a good idea to record Eli's current likes and dislikes at this milestone age of 18 months!

Likes: Reading (non-fiction only, thanksverymuch), 'cuggles' and kisses, dancing, singing, loud musical instruments, playing chasey/hide and seek with Lily, plums, frozen peas, crackers, dry weetbix, milk, wrestling with Daddy.

Dislikes: Mushy textured food (usually - like scrambled eggs), reading Fiction.

Back to work!
(Love that cute cloth-nappy bottom!)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Flowers for my Bride, he said...

Well, just look what my beloved brought me 'out of the blue' last week!

I have to admit I was cooking dinner and wondering which shot to use to document today's 'delight' then noticed right in front of me these stunning flowers! They have been giving me joy ever since Mark brought them home to me 'just because' - what a man, huh! I love fresh flowers (especially lilies of course!) in the house and even more, I love the guy who gave them to me!

I was reminded recently of a quote from a parenting course that Mark and I did (and loved) pre-kids called Growing Kid's God's Way, which is -

Great marriages make great parents.

I love this quote because it reminds me that not only is our marriage important, but by prioritising our relationship. it also helps us be better parents, providing a safe, stable and loving home for our children to grow up in. A similar quote to it that I think of often is -

Children need not be the centre of the family, but rather very welcomed new members into it.

I realise that might sound a bit funny at first glance. But in our family, we try to live out the concept that our marriage comes first, the children come second (come to think of it, that is actually the order in which things happened so I guess it makes sense!) - and that actually for them this is the most loving thing we could do. I think sometimes children can feel overwhelmed at the pressure of being the centre of attention, and family life, but feel more relaxed, comforted and secure seeing their parent's happy, loving, committed relationship almost acting as a banner above them, enveloping them as they learn and grow. Like all of us, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Something they can depend on. Well, that's the ideal anyway! In reality, it is often challenging to prioritise the marriage when those adorable and noisy little people are clutching at your legs and clamouring for attention and another cup of milk!

But if we don't protect, give time to, and prioritise our relationship, how can we sustain it? Marriages can be wonderful but can also be all kinds of tough! They need work and they need attention. I realise of course that marriage is not for everyone and also that unfortunately not everyone gets the choice to stay in the marriages they committed to, but  for us we are thankful to be together and want an active loving relationship that endures past the time that the kids leave home. Having young kids, I now see how easy it would be to just throw each other a wave as we are wrestling kids into pyjamas that says 'See ya in a decade!' while we live through this incredible but oh-so-intensive phase... but if we do that, would anything be left of us on the other side? Maybe, but maybe not! 

We also want our kids to grow up witnessing a working, loving, messy, funny, challenging but always loving and committed relationship. For their own security and stability as they grow up in this big sometimes-scary world, and as a template for their own (God-willing) relationships some day.

But not just for them... for us. Because as cute as Mark is, I did not choose to marry him merely in order to bestow golden locks upon our potential children!! We married because we loved each other and we saw a path in life we wanted to travel together - no matter what.  Partners in life, for life.

So that is why, in theory and (hopefully, mostly, increasingly) in practise, we try to prioritise our marriage. By investing in our marriage we are also protecting our beloved children's family. And that is also why, though there is a dozen adorable photos of my kids I could share today, I wanted to instead share a photo of the gorgeous flowers my husband gave me.... a token of his love, for which I am always so grateful!

I mean, he could have bought yet another toy for the kids but instead he got flowers for me... clearly the man has his priorities in order!!! ;)

Thanks, honey xx

Ballet Girl

Getting ready for church today, I dressed Lily in the adorable little ruffle skirt she got for Christmas from her doting grandparents in Perth. She asked to wear her (hand me down) ballet shoes too and though they are usually reserved for home I agreed and then for a bit of extra fun, I did her hair up in a bun....

'I'm a ballet girl!!!!!" she squealed, jumping up and down looking in the mirror, 'Wow, I'm so excited!!!! I look really amazing!!!" (Gotta love a 3 year old's self confidence, haha!)

On our way out to the car there was time to do a bit of dancing and twirling down the driveway - ohhhhh this girl - how I love her! I adore her joy, her imagination, her silliness. Check out her ballet moves - can you believe she is completely self-taught?! Ha! ;)

I wish I was tricky enough to join the photos together to make a collage of sorts so I could pretend it was just one photo for today, but alas I am not that clever! I just had to include one more shot of the kids running into the church building that morning. Daddy did the sermon (talk) that morning too... it was wonderful and we were all very proud and encouraged. A sweet Sunday with my little family...

They can't wait to get there, they love their church family!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Yeah, it's Potty Time! // Early Toileting

In the interest of documenting the rhythm of our days, I could not resist sharing a photo of something that is taking up a large part of home life right now! While it's summer we are working towards Eli moving out of nappies/diapers full time. Among other benefits, our obsessive little book reader is enjoying the opportunity to read even more - in fact he often says he needs to go potty just as an excuse to read a few more books, cheeky boy!

His big sister was potty-trained at this same age (18months), but before having my second child I started hearing and researching about some different 'toilet training' concepts, and so Eli has been using the potty more-or-less consistently since he was a baby, using the principles of Elimination Communication (EC) and a fantastic book called Diaper Free Before Three by Jill M Lekovic M.D. which is kind of a middle ground between E.C. and the 'wait till they are 'ready' around 2-3-4 years' theory. It gives a fascinating history of potty training (Ummmm yes, I realise how tragic that sounds, and rather indicative of this phase of life but HEY these are the times, right?! But truly - fascinating!!) and also the science/medical/developmental side of things - for example I was amazed to learn that it's really only since disposables became prevelant in the 70's that people started delaying potty training to 2/3/4years - before then (and still currently in many other cultures) babies were regular 'nappy-free' by about 12-18 months or even earlier! Very interesting and so different to much of the current potty training philosophy.

I like the concept of EC (tuning into your baby's natural instincts) and have always been intrigued by it - and applaud the parents who are dedicated enough to take the time to tune into their child's natural cues - however I just wasn't committed or consistent enough to take him more than once or twice a day. The basic idea of Diaper Free (similar to EC) is that by making 'potty time' a regular part of a child's routine even from before a year old, they will learn through cues and their own instincts to 'release' at those times (rather than waiting till a full bladder and having to learning to 'hold on' if you know what I mean!). At 6 months old, Eli had a regular routine of sitting on the potty a couple times a day and 'producing' most of the time - but I wasn't ready to go nappy-free just yet!

Now the weather is warm and with the added bonus of our new home having non-carpeted floors, he is going nappy-free (and wearing super-cutey-patootie-underwear) most of the time we are at home now and hopefully will be full time nappy free pretty soon!? We are not brave enough for outings just yet! I am curious to see how it goes as he has been going potty since he was so tiny so has much more association and awareness about his body, but then he is a boy and while Lily got the hang of things pretty quickly at 18 months (led by her own interest and awareness!), you do often hear that boys generally take a bit longer. So we shall see how we go! Anyway, not feeling stressed about it, it's a learning process for them and a bit more effort for me being on top of things but just another stage to move through, right?! I really prefer potty-training before two though as I find it avoids much of the power struggle that can happen later and instead becomes something they really desire to do and their ability to catch on just amazes me.

Anyway. If you had told me five years ago I would have been interested enough in such a topic to read a 'history' on it, I would have shook my head in dismay, lol!! But with little kids, I guess it is something I am not just currently in the midst of, but have obviously had to think through and work on. I wanted to record my current thoughts and how we got to the approach that works for us. I feel I should probably add that this is just what has worked for us and the approach I wanted to take because it made sense to me (and I had the time and inclination to do it too) - I know all kids are different and so are their parents in terms of what approach feels right for them (also depending on time, energy, philosophy, etc!). So yeah, this is simply our take on toileting, no single 'right way' just like pretty much all aspects of parenting!!

But for now.... I am laughing daily at Eli carrying the potty through the house with him wherever he goes (this is just his own initiative, funny boy!), chuckling when he shouts 'Weeeweeee! KhiKhiKhi!!!' (this is his version of me saying 'quick quick' when trying to get him to the potty on time! Occasionally, sighing when cleaning up a wet spot, and smirking when he insists he needs to sit on the potty, when the three books in his hands indicates he is really just after a little reading time with Mummy! ;)

Oh and I really must give a shout out to his biggest cheerleader, Lily - she always gives him cheers and cuddles at every success and is constantly enquiring if he needs to use the facilities!! A couple of extra delights in this process are more reading time with my little man while he is sitting on the 'throne'.... and the pleased and proud look on his face when he has a success, usually giving himself a little cheer too!

Way to 'go', Little E!

PS For the updated post on this subject a few weeks later, click here. Things went very well :)

Friday, 27 January 2012

a little movie magic

Today my Mum and I took Lily to her first 'cinema experience' - a free showing of the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty at the National Library. It was just delightful, she was so excited about going to the 'movies' although she struggled to understand the concept of watching TV on a stage, asking if she would be able to go on stage at the 'show', then asking if the Prince was going to arrive through the Exit door! We have been to a few concerts/shows lately so I guess the lady prefers live theatre and who am I to judge?!

Bad photo, beautiful adventure...


It was also the first time she has had the chance to sit through a whole movie as even at family movie nights at home we usually limit it to half a kid's movie at a time, so we had preplanned to just exit if she got too restless (as it was free we had no qualms about doing this - phew!) but with snacks and alternating snuggling on my lap and her own chair she made it through the hour-ish long film really well! Thankfully a theatre full of kids meant she could ask questions and move around a bit without issue.

It was a lovely and precious time! She loved the singing and music in the movie and I just loved snuggling up with her in the cinema and seeing her enjoy a film I had also loved as a child. It was a super sweet little outing, and being the nostalgic mama that I am (what, you hadn't noticed??) it was a real pleasure to enjoy such a fun 'first' with her.  

At the fountain outside the library afterwards

One of the many spoils of parenting is getting to introduce these little people to so many of life's delights! I just love having the honour of giving them so many new experiences and seeing the world and its many glories through their sweet and innocent eyes!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australians, all let us rejoice?

The best laid plans of mice and men, huh?

Plans for a picnic and fireworks were shelved when the rain came down. Lily cried in disappointment to miss the 'show' she had been so excited about, but put her chin up pretty quickly, my resilient little girl. As a weak consolation, I bought some sparklers for the kids to enjoy as a surprise after dinner, hoping the novelty would add a little special excitement to the holiday.

Her concerned little face!
Result? A moderate success... yes, they enjoyed it but they were a little cautious and nervous at the concept of holding onto 'fire', and I think Lily was expecting something more 'amazing' asking if there was still another surprise to come...perhaps Mama built up the 'big surprise' element a little too much?? Oops!!

(What is it that all the cool kids say these days? Phail??)

Tiara, Gumboots and Sparkler - what more do I need?

Getting more confident!

I tried, my little darlings, I tried...

And even when those sparkly bits of life don't sparkle quite as much as we hope or expect.... I still find so much joy, thankfulness and delight in you!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Leaning Tower of Lily

My little lady has really gotten into building blocks lately, creating architectural marvels and spreading cities on the rug in the play room. Now that her adoring and curious little bro has (after much work) learnt that the towers are not to be knocked down without permission, her towers are getting more and more elaborate.

I can barely express how much I love to see this kind of creative play at work... I admit I am not much one for bells and whistles, batteries, technology and plastic when it comes to kid's play! I just love to see children fully engaged with a few plain old wooden blocks, letting their amazing minds engage, experiment and explore. It is the best kind of 'play-based learning', in my humble opinion!

Lily was busily at work while I was in the kitchen when she proudly called me over, 'Mummy, look what I did!'

Behold, an engineering marvel that surely defies the laws of gravity!

(Sidenote: I want to put a 'winking' emoticon here but don't seem to have any available, this lack of emoticons is really holding me back on expressing my full range of emotions, so sad!)

This is what absolutely kills me about kids - if they are given space to just do their thing, they will astound you. I have found when Lily is at work, it is best for me to simply remove myself from the room at times - so I don't have to bite my tongue continually against saying things like 'Oh careful, that block is too big to go on top/Whoa, watch it doesn't fall/I'm not sure that will go there/ Maybe try a smaller block, etc'. That impulse to involve myself, to control, to warn, to prevent failure, (with the best of intentions, of course) is hard to fight!!

I so easily see where this project is likely to fail. But Lily? She isn't interested in planning the best tower strategy. Of course her little mind is at work, but she is learning best through trial and error and blissful experimentation. She isn't gingerly placing blocks and waiting for that tower to tumble - no, she is merrily and casually slapping block on top of block, defying all kinds of engineering basics without even realising it or trying (or caring) and, while her mother applauds the result, she simply gives herself a pleased little nod and moves on to the next one. And if it should fall? Enjoy the disaster and get back into it!

I love how it leans to the right - how it still stands, I don't know!

While I wasn't even looking, my child created the kind of tower I am sure I couldn't do if I tried (and probably because I was trying so hard!). I'm not  saying of course that this tower is truly some sign of genius or prowess, (or is it?? haha!) but just that something in it's whacky and brave construction struck my heart. These beautiful children - just look at what they can do! Who knows what other marvels they are capable of... I think half the battle is just getting out of the way and letting them at it!

PS - Oh, I simply must encourage you to pop over to my hilarious friend's blog about the playdate between Eli and her daughter yesterday... including Eli industriously cleaning up and showing off his underwear!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Pegs and Putting Away

A quiet happy morning at the clothesline - a fairly common place to be around here, what with a young family and modern cloth nappies to boot! I actually love being out there, I find it really relaxing to be in the sunshine while the kids play and we all chat. 

Little Eli toddled around the backyard today, then he came over, grabbed a couple of pegs from the basket and held them out to me... 'Hup, Hup' (Help, Help). My darling little boy was wanting to help me peg up the washing by passing me the pegs - bless his little heart!..... How to break it to him that in fact I was taking the washing down, not pegging it up?? Of course, I couldn't! I mean, just look at that face!!

Love this little man and his charming ways. He cheerfully handed me a big handful of pegs one by one until I could hold no more, then I put them on the ground and he methodically put them all back in the peg basket.

Eighteen months seems to be the magic age when all our work on 'putting things away' seems to start taking effect - hooray! I can now ask him to pack up his toys after play and he mostly does it cheerfully and methodically and sometimes even without being asked (wonderful!). 

Combine this with the fact that at this age they seem to quite enjoy it (taking out, putting back in, repeat ad finitum)! I should also add that this boy has always had a finely tuned sense of where things go and where they shouldn't - I try not to take it as a judgement against my housekeeping when he find a crumb on the ground and always brings it to me urgently to take care of!!!

A simple and sweet moment with my sunny little man...

PS - Contrary to appearances, this child does actually possess more clothing that just Bonds stripey PJs!!

Monday, 23 January 2012


Of all our family rituals, we the parents must admit that one of our very favourites is one that occurs nightly at 7.30pm. The kids have been bathed and had teeth brushed, been read to, cuddled and prayed with, then tucked into bed. Oh how we love them, but oh how we also love that magical time of 7.30pm. Mark brews the pot of tea, and we sit down on the couch together to snuggle up and watch an episode of something light (these days it's usually 30 Rock) while we sip a cup of tea and have two  three four a few pieces of chocolate (these days it's Cadbury Dream).

Ahhhhhhh.... sometimes just the thought of this sweet time is what keeps you powering through those long days and more challenging moments of parenthood! Sitting down together, with a job well done (or done at least!) and an evening ahead to relax and reconnect.

Although my precious children are the source of many delights in this family and I'm sure will also be the focus of much of this blog, I also want to document other areas of delight in our family and lives! As much as we adore our children, I'm sure many parents will agree they are just that little bit more adorable when peacefully asleep!!! (and then of course they look so cute, you get this crazy urge to wake them up. Do NOT listen to this urge! Kiss them and walk away... trust me!)

Our nightly 'tea and chocolate' ritual is a quiet time to relax together that we both simply adore. It reminds us that we are a team - we work hard for our kids, especially while they are so young, and it's ever so satisfying to also take a little down time together, just to chill and snuggle and laugh. One or both of us may be so completely exhausted it seems hardly possible to even lift that cup of tea to our lips, but just sitting side by side seems to make everything alright.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


During the kid's nap time I heard a very chipper little voice coming from Lily's room.... I was about to go in and investigate but I stopped at the door and this is the happy chatter I overheard...

Hello God, yes, how are you God, excuse me did you have a dress yesterday? What colour is it? Was it pink and purple? And green, that’s a nice colour! God, I can’t hear you very much, oh Hello Jesus too how are you going, excuse me God and Jesus, do you have a swing set? Wow, two swing sets and a trampoline - that’s amazing!! And God and Jesus, do you have a room you sleep in at night cos I don’t really know what room you sleep in. Ok, God and Jesus, I will go to sleep now, bye!
Seriously!!!! I was laughing my head off outside the door and of course I had to go in and give her a cuddle... obviously my girl and her God had some serious catching up to do!!

We had an easy pancake dinner tonight and my little lady also prepared a bunch of food in her little kitchen to contribute, even setting it all on the table and then clearing it away afterwards. Oh, she is just such a big little girl... how I love her and her busy and creative and kooky little ways!

A Sunday night feast!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Wedding Girl

A dear friend is getting married next month and not only do I have the honour of being a bridesmaid but I am loaning her the veil from my own wedding seven years ago! Yesterday I dug it out of storage (e.g. off the hanger in my closet) to take over to her and of course my little lady spotted it on the bed and was in complete awe. Ever since I let her watch five minutes of Princess Kate walking down the aisle to William, she has been a girl entranced with weddings! She begged to be able to touch it and when I said she could try it on she was beside herself.... 'I look like a wedding girl!!!' she exclaimed while looking in the mirror.

I am not really the kind of mother who constantly envisions her daughter's wedding day, nor wants to march her towards that wedding day as if it was her sole purpose in life, the answer to all her problems or even a guarantee. And yet... ohhhh....seeing her in that gauzy ivory confection, I admit my breath caught in my throat at the sweetness and the very concept that one day she could be borrowing my veil for real! *stunned mother* I was in shock as I honestly don't think I'd ever really thought about it before! Am pretty sure a tear welled up in her doting father's eye when he came into the room and saw his little girl..

Oh, baby girl, I pray that if you do choose marriage one day, you will choose a man even half as loving, faithful and devoted as the man who married me.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Blessings Every Day!

Every week day morning, Mark gets the kids up at 7.30am and they all have breakfast together before he leaves for work at eight (and yes, he is a wonderful Daddy but that is a whole other post!). It is a really sweet time for them to chat about the day to come, the meaning of life, whether Lily gets to wear a dress that day, where butterflies sleep, and other such important issues - I love to overhear their chatter! It is a time the kids really love to spend with their Dad and if he has to leave for work early they are so disappointed (just left with good old Mum!).

For Christmas, my lovely parents-in-law gave the kids this gorgeous little book called Blessings Everyday - 365 simple devotions for the very young. It is completely precious and well-written, and perfectly suited for the age of the kids (well, let's be honest, Lily!). So as a new addition to an already sweet routine, Mark has been reading them one of the devotions each morning while they munch their Vegemite toast. They love it! Then they have a chance to discuss the topic and of course Lily asks questions and Eli shouts out 'Babbieeeeeeees' if he can manage to spot a picture of one (or anyone under the age of 25) in the book! Lily usually fills me in later on her take on things.

The topics are such things as Being Kind, Telling the Truth, Being a Helper, When you feel Scared, God's Promises etc - just one page with a Bible verse, a picture, a paragraph of text and a little poem - just perfect! The beauty is that at this age we will be able to just start the book all over again next year and I'm sure it will all seem just like new once more, haha!! When the topic was about God always being there for you, Lily excitedly added that she had four people to always look after her - 'God, Jesus, Mummy and Daddy... oh and Nana!' Lol.... 

I am thrilled at this special new part of their breakfast routine, little seeds of values, faith and truth being planted in their hearts each morning to help guide their day and perhaps even their lives.

On a related note, I am really enjoying capturing the regular rhythms of our day through this project! I thought I would focus more on the big fun things - outings and visitors and activities - but instead for now I am so happy to record those simple little routines that make up so much of our lives and would perhaps be forgotten in years to come. The moments, routines and way we live that I think in the end will be so much more meaningful than those 'out of the ordinary' times (as much as I love those too!)... isn't there something just a little bit extraordinary and magical in the everyday? What we do and how we live through these seemingly mundane moments I think will be much more telling than just the 'big moments' I would usually remember to capture. Hence the beauty of this challenge to Document Delight!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

a little sibling sweetness

I wasn't too surprised to love my children, although of course I was amazed at the very depths of it. But what I have been surprised by is how much I love seeing the relationship between my children grow and develop. I just love seeing them love each other and have been shocked at the joy I have in seeing them together! These two little people made separately by you and now making their own connection!

I am so thankful for their close and affectionate relationship - they simply adore each other and their bond is a beautiful thing to witness! Lily simply dotes on her little brother without an ounce of sibling rivalry and I think that has helped Eli even at 18 months to respond in kind - he happily hands over his apple or toy to share. I think their bond is demonstrated by the time Eli was just a little baby, fussing in his car seat on a drive somewhere. Lily piped up consolingly, 'It's ok, little buddy boy, I believe you!'... !!! They are a team, no doubt, with a connection even I can't understand!

Lily bestowing good night kisses to Eli through the cot bars
 Having grown up in a fairly combative sibling relationship with two sisters (where blood was often drawn!), I have a strong desire to, as much as I can, help my children develop a friendship, to cherish each other, to know how to show appreciation, kindness and compassion to one another. More than that, I kind of see the sibling relationship as a good blueprint and rehearsal space for many of their future relationships... after all, living together will almost inevitably bring conflict and various issues over time. As much as I love their sweetness together, I also want them to know how to resolve conflict together, how to problem-solve, how to ask for forgiveness when they wrong the other, how the wronged one can forgive and show mercy. I feel immensely privileged that I am in a position to give them these tools and life skills even now in these early days as I help them negotiate taking turns pushing the dolls pram! I love being present with them and taking every opportunity to highlight when they show a kindness to their sibling, when they help, when they share, when they love.

I know I will inevitably make mistakes in this task, and I know they will too. I know it is a relationship only they can choose to sustain long term. I am thankful for God's grace in this endeavour and thankful also that in spite of its bumpy start, my own relationship with my siblings now as adults is wonderfully close!

Nothing melts my heart like seeing Eli toddling down the hall to knock on Lily's bedroom door after his sleep, calling out 'KnoKno... YiYi!!!' (translation: knock knock, Lily!). Or when Eli has a fall and Lily rushes to cuddle him, consoling him with her sweet words 'It's ok, little Eli, you're ok, I can help you'. What a pair...they truly make me marvel!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Our Little Buddy Boy!

Oh, little man! Who couldn't smile when being greeted by such a cheeky grin? Or your hysterical giggles as you bounce up and down madly in your cot, using it as a trampoline for your post-nap workout?

You have charisma in spades, dear boy! It's not just your blue eyes and golden curls (which I promise I will eventually cut one day!) that attract people - it's that quirky sense of humour already so apparent, and your cheery affectionate nature. Not one to be ignored, you have always been able to let yourself be heard - whether happy or very displeased! At 18 months you now seem to be a 'real boy', so full of ideas and adventure. I love to hear your chatting, your singing, your giggles with your sister. I am so thankful to be smothered with your tender kisses, and to fall back under your weight when you launch yourself across the room at me with a bellow of 'Mummmmmeeeeee!! Cugggglleeeee!!!!', and to feel your head buried in my neck, your sweet arms clutching my shoulders.

You came into the world in such a hurry and have always had energy to burn - just imagine the adventures that lay ahead! The twinkle in your eyes tells me you already have so many thoughts about this big wide world, and I cannot wait to share more and more of it with you! God bless the path before you, Little E...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Digging for Worms

So today was the first day after enthusiastically leaping into this project that I thought... 'Soooooo....... I guess I need to take another photo today?! Of what???' It is definitely going to take some planning, some creativity and some commitment to keeping this little project going! But never fear, all three of my faithful readers, I will endeavour to press on!!

It actually made me stop and reflect on what this blog is going to be. Of course I probably could have thought this through a little more before starting, but was so keen I just kind of jumped in! (Oh my, how impulsive!) I absolutely want it to be a recording of Project 366: Documenting Delight in 2012. A challenge to look deeper and capture the many miraculous blessings, comforting rituals and precious moments in our family. But I know (and have already proven!) that the chances of someone as verbous as me simply posting one photo a day into such an infinite space? I would say the chances of that are slim to none! So yes, this blog will be a Project 366 but also a place to record family stories, thoughts about parenting, thoughts about life, thoughts about faith... and I dare say a fair amount of rambling! Anyone who is willing to roam along with me is certainly deserving of a gold star! (Just let me know if you want me to send you one, Lily has heaps to spare).

And so...

My baby is not afraid to get a little dirty!

A regular event in our home is feeding food scraps to our industrious little worms in our worm farm. Lily loves this task and constantly enquires if they are hungry yet and in need of food! Lily loves to turn over the top soil of the farm, while singing to the woms and lovingly enquiring of their well being 'Hellooooo wormies! Are you hungee today?? Got some scaps for you, wormies!'. She is a devoted mother to the hundreds of worms in her care, with not an ounce of squeamishness that makes me very proud! The subsequent step of pouring the worm tea (or 'tea wee' as she was calling it today) onto the garden via watering can is also a super fun task! Working together with my girl makes even this simple chore into a wildly fun adventure, full of questions, exclamations and fascinations. Love to see the world through her eyes and love that even from this tender age she can be learning things about food waste, recycling, animal care, and nutrients!

Monday, 16 January 2012

A bite to eat, a drink as well.

I love our relaxed lunch times together. After a busy morning of hard-core playing, it is so good to sit the kids at the table for some replenishment and delightful conversation. Being a born multi-tasker I find it a very pleasant and relaxing time where the kids are contained at the table (this alone makes it sweet, right?!) happily munching away, while I am able to tidy the kitchen, start preparing dinner, or other odds and ends. All the while, we chat away and often have some of our best conversations. Something about being occupied with other tasks (eating, housework) gives us space in our minds to also ask amazing questions and have memorable little chats. Today Lily asked me all about flooding, talked about going on another holiday tomorrow (sorry but no!), and sang a song she made up with the lyrics -

I love you and I love me,
I love you and I love peas.

What can I say, the kid is deep!!

Yes, she is wearing a fairy skirt... as she is most days!

Eli is usually merrily stuffing his face, singing himself a song and engaging in some kind of sibling game with Lily that I don't even pretend to understand anymore. It usually involves them both making strange noises and faces, trading food and laughing hysterically. They adore each other so much, it makes me weep and I just love to see them interacting.

Lunch is normally what I creatively like to call a 'Toddler's Tasting Plate' and by that I mean I empty out all I can find in the pantry and fridge to fill their ever growing bellies. Often it is a variety of things like slices of cheese, fruit, chick peas, sliced vegies, kidney beans, butter beans (etc, they love their legumes!), rice cakes, crackers, yoghurt, leftovers, etc. Every now and then I remember that most people eat sandwiches and make them too! Lunch can often seem like a conveyer belt of food constantly trucked by yours truly over to the table - only to be quickly cleared and followed by the little voices crying 'I'm still hungeeeeeee, Mummy!'. My kids seriously seem to be bottomless pits at times and I am already terrified of what the teenage years will bring... no doubt I will be packing shelves at the supermarket at nights in order to bring the trolleys full of food home to feed them!

Oh, what's that? What about my lunch? I eat (uninterrupted!) once the kids are down for that blissful afternoon sleep. Usually while tinkering on facebook the computer and/or watching half a mindless TV show. A mama needs her downtime, am I right??

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Now we're cooking...

Ahhhh, cooking with kids! They love it, don't they? My little Lily just adores eating helping in the kitchen, (while of course sampling as much as possible)! Late Sunday afternoon is often the time I try to bake something tasty for the week to feed guests, children and of course the hubby who needs a snack to devour when he comes home from work, even when dinner is mere seconds from being served (?!?!).

Anyhoo - today we made up some Anzac Slice together and it was a lot of fun. Miss Lily is getting to be quite the pro in the kitchen, and it is wonderful to see her skills improve as she grows and practises e.g. cracking eggs and using the sifter. Though while the scene often looks idyllic, I admit internally this Mama is often in turmoil! The control freak in me must continually bite my tongue against too many 'reminders' to stir slowly, and the urge to snatch back the wooden spoon when flour gets flicked all over the bench... after all, you gotta spill a little flour in order to learn to make cakes, right? Right??!

I want this time to be something she enjoys, I want to teach and encourage without stifling and nagging. I know a big part of this is respecting that in order for her to learn these skills, she must be allowed to do them awkwardly for some time yet... or she will never get there!

A big part of this parenting gig I see as equipping my kids for life. Not only is cooking a fun activity to do together, I love the idea of starting early in building confidence and skills in the kitchen, setting up what I hope will be an enjoyment and profiency with food for life.... so that maybe they will move out of home with a destiny of more than 2-minute noodles for dinner every night!!

Looking towards that end goal makes it a little easier for this mama to handle a bit of spilled flour for a few more years!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The look of love...

After a Saturday at home taking care of a few items on that ever-constant-and-growing to-do list, we ventured out this evening to the annual Summer Sounds at the Botanic Gardens. We go every year and just love it - jazz bands grooving up a storm in a gorgeous natural setting, with several thousand picnicing and enjoying the summery evening. Mark always teases me for my love of seeing everyone 'out and about' but I really do love those big happy community events and we attend quite a few!

We faffed about for most of the day (I am just going to assume this is a word everyone knows and not one I have  made up but I am not entirely sure) about whether to go or not due to possible rain and other factors but in the end we went. When in doubt, just go!! Of course it was worth it, we ran into several lovely friends and had a blast, especially going down the front where all the kids were dancing to the band. Lily and Eli were shrieking with glee and 'I am so excited because of this amazing atmosphere and sound which I don't fully understand so I will just squeal and run around like mad'-ness (I will assume you are also familiar with this feeling!). They loved it and grooved and ran and played and clapped and fell over and laughed and cuddled with me. It was glorious to say the least... I was snapping a few pictures while they danced and just then Mark came down to join us and I managed to capture this precious moment....

The look of love...
 Eli saw his Dad over my shoulder and bellowed 'Daddeeeeeeee!!!' as he always does. He adores his Daddy so much, especially since this month off recently, they have really bonded in a special way. Lily too of course, she just loves her Daddy and all their special games and jokes and of course wrestles!

It's a beautiful thing to witness the three people you love most of all in this world loving each other.

Friday, 13 January 2012

There is great gain...

We recently had a month off over the Christmas season - travelling up to Queensland and Sydney and all around for a month - yes, that including logging many hours on the road with our two cherubs! I thought it could have been a stressful time but instead it was FANTASTIC! I won't rehash the entire trip but suffice to say Mark and I both found it (largely) very relaxing and fun! Now Mark is back at work and I am amazed at how refreshed I feel! Staying home with two kids sure takes a lot out of you (although it also puts a lot more back in!)... but by the end of last year I was wrecked. Really wrecked.... 2011 was just a massive year involving selling a house, buying a house, renovating, major work projects and uni for Mark, etc etc. I think we were all worn out, but coming into this new year, I truly feel rejuvenated and ready to launch into 2012 - although I am going to try and keep the pace a little slower this year! (hahahahahaah, says my internal self, knowing this will never happen!)

Anyhoo.... this week at home has been quiet. Calm. Peaceful. I have felt so relaxed and purposeful just spending time with my kids. Happy to just be home with them. Not meaning I used to wish I was working (as I just know I am in the right place for this season of our lives), but meaning I am often keeping us all so busy out of the house most days, doing doing doing! But this week I have felt content just pottering at home. Playing games and hanging out, cleaning of course but not toooo much! We have visited a lady from church with a chronic illness, we have popped by the local library, oh yes and I did host mother's group on Monday but apart from that... just chilling at home. I have felt really content.... relaxed... did I mention calm?! A simple sense that all is well in our little world - and  feeling so grateful for that. Reflecting on that, I think a month away has done our family a world of good! Not only that but I have been praying lately for God to give me a greater sense of peace and contentment in my home life - rather than that low-level buzz of anxiety that I should always be doing/cleaning/crafting/cooking/achieving/busy. It felt right this week to just push that aside and I hope I can continue to, in order to be more in the moment and enjoy it more with my kids.

And so today I took the kids for a stroll around the block - nothing special, just a mission to look for things that were 'Amazing'.... and well, look what we found along a path behind a house...

A field of dandelions!! Along with plenty of 'dandelion clocks' to blow (Eli thought they were bubbles!). It was a really sweet time running around and discovering things and the kids loved it.... and you know what, so did I!

Oh  yes - in the spirit of jumping in where I am (thanks Flylady!), I am not going to try and dredge up past photos to fill in the past days but instead just go from here...  Loving the idea of this being something the kids can look back on one day!
'Godliness with contentment is great gain' 1 Timothy 6.6

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Not catching up, just diving in!

I am so new to this, it terrifies me! I never thought I could do this blogging gig.... but here I am! Inspired by the 365 project (taking a photo a day for a year), and my dear friend's new blog to track it... I saw the posts go up and was so very inspired, I yearned to participate! Ah well, I thought, shame it's past January 1st, will just leave it another year.... or seven...

Then yesterday my charming 3.5yr old daughter Lily suggested we eat our peanut butter sandwiches outside. Little 18month old brother Eli was having his first 'Nana Day' at my Mum's house and it felt ever so decadent to have time just me and my little Miss! So 'Sure' I said... even though I had to immediately quell the thoughts in my mind that said 'But while she eats lunch, I normally tidy the kitchen, put away random items, hey even check my email!'. Cherish and sieze these moments, I told myself, so out we marched into the sunshine and ate our peanut butter sandwhiches under the shade of the trampoline. It was delightful - although I had to freqently beat down the thoughts in my head suggesting I just quickly pull up a few weeds, take down the washing from the line, etc... why is it so hard to simply SIT and BE with our children?? So I sat and was.... we ate, we dilgently tracked the journey of a little ant/fly thing wriggling in the grass for some time (although he could not be convinced to eat some of Lily's crust).

I conversationally asked Lily what she was thinking about and she looked at me coyly... 'I'm thinking about someone who's kind to me' she said. 'Oh, who's that?' I enquired. 'You!!!' she squealed.... this child never ceases to amaze me with her sweet thoughts. Lily then launched into a hysterically random monologue for seriously 10 minutes about all the different kinds of skirts (most invented and truly bizarre like the ones that go over your arms and neck with buttons on the top???!) after asking me 'Mummy, would you like me to tell you some things about skirts'. I mean.... who is this kid?!!

And at that moment I thought - these days are incredible, these moments so fleeting and so magical. I feel so blessed at times it makes me weep... literally. How can I not record these times more fully? Perhaps this blog will make me more accountable.... Hell, I've missed 13 days of the year but I am going to jump in and try this fandangled blogging thing! I will endeavour to keep it up.... even though exposing my thoughts online scares me, I guess it's a little alluring too or there wouldn't be like two zillion other blogs just like this one, right?!?

So here she goes....