Saturday, 31 March 2012

Party Time, Any Time!

Today we celebrated the 4th Birthday of our dear little friend Finn! His amazing Mum, Amber, put on a a delightful Construction themed party. She made it so special not only for her darling boy, but also his little friends who attended and even their parents and siblings - a wonderful day for all involved. So many thoughtful touches, amazing decorations, delicious food - yep, I was in awe!

Lily and Finn take the craft verrrry seriously!

Amber made these simple yet awesome treats - marshmallows stuck on sticks, dipped in chocolate and crushed Violet Crumble. The kids went mad for them.

Cheers to Marshmallow Lollipops! Harper, Eli, Lily

Seriously. Butter would not melt in their mouths!!

The kids stood against this wall for a photo... then for the rest of the day, Eli went and stood against this wall every time he had a Marshmallow Lollipop (eg: twice), and every time he wanted one (eg: about a dozen times). He would just stand there and bleat 'yolliiiipop' as if this magical place was where one stood to get the goods. Sorry, buddy boy!

He spent much of the party walking around like this!

Then it was that time which is pretty much compulsary at every Aussie child's party - Pass the Parcel. The kiddies gathered, a quiver of excitement in the air (or confusion, in Eli's case)....

Lily was front and centre and giddy with glee for the party game...

Eli gets a turn w Daddy's help

Then my darling girl spent much of the game with this expression on her face (well, after the first couple of rounds). The parcel was passed round and round and round and the layers of paper (and enfolded treats) unravelled, yet it had not stopped with her...

Her little eyes watched that parcel like.a.hawk, I tell you. I could see the turmoil and conflict in her eyes. Oh, how she wanted to unwrap that magical parcel. Oh, how she wanted to weep, protest or even snatch it from another child's hands. Oh, how her hands lingered when the parcel came past yet again. Oh, how very hard she was trying to wait patiently, consider others, follow the game rules. Pretty sure our little conversation in the car (This is Finn's special day, we let Finn go first, we help him have a happy day) was running around her tortured little mind. Ever so conflicted...

Yet she held out. The self-control was marvellous to behold (teetering on a knife-edge as it was). But it was tough, tough I tell you!!! Every other kid getting a pressie, except you? That is considered TORTURE in Three-Year-Old-World!! Mark and I exchanged sympathetic glances as we watched over our little lady. I encouraged her once - 'Lily, you are waiting so patiently, darling,' but mostly held silent as I knew this was her battle to take on alone. And then the moment came...

In fact, it was the very last layer (thanks Amber, so kind of you!), with the ultimate prize - an awesome pack of magnetic letters!! Yeah, there is probably some kind of life lesson there... (please reflect amongst yourselves....)

Amazing construction cake by Amber!

So sweet and beloved Finn is Four, he had a wonderful day and we all got to celebrate! Kid's birthday parties are the bomb, especially when the parents also get to all hang out and par-tay too. Good times, yummy food, lovely memories, and a few life-lessons to boot!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Soft light, tender moments...

Eli decided to prop himself in front of the window to enjoy the afternoon sun. Sweet, quiet moments looking at books and looking adorable. The late afternoon sun streaming in on their soft skin was just so enchanting... love baby skin, love my babies...

Oh that toddler tummy!

Lily came along and they decided to prop themselves on their little stools and then *gasp* asked me to take their photo. This is rare and of course I quickly obliged...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Tongs Table Time

It was a patience-testing day with my little man (thanks in part to the dreaded Two Year Old Molars) and unfortunately I think neither of us did too well.

A little Montessori-style activity in the highchair, passing cotton balls from bowl to bowl with the tongs, was just the reprieve we both needed.

Still love you, little dude, and thanks for still loving me!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Kindness Overflowing from Child to Child

It was another sweet day as the volunteering helper at Lily's Playschool. I just love this glimpse into her world and am thankful she is still so young as to be thrilled to have my company!! ;) It's so fun seeing her there, so independent and confident (always ready to stick up her hand and offer her thoughts and ideas during Rug time), so involved (non-stop crafting action) and interacting with her little buddies.

Those tightly clutched, dimpled hands...

I was touched when one of her teacher's told me how well-mannered Lily was - 'without fail' she was polite to those around her and the teacher was so impressed. A little bit of pay-off for Mama, haha! Manners are a big deal in our family, to me they are the foundation of learning to show respect and consideration to those around you. Like so much with little kids, these simple words start on the outside (they are encouraged to say them even when they don't fully understand or feel it quite yet) and over time they reach the inside (they internalise the habit, respect and kindness the words represent). I was thrilled to know Lily was speaking kindly and politely to her teachers and little friends in my absence. Yee-ha!

But what I witnessed later in the day moved me even more. A little girl was having a sad day at school, quietly whimpering and withdrawn. The teachers and I gave her lots of time and cuddles but she just seemed sad. I watched as Lily intently walked past her (no doubt on her way to another craft), yet noticed her and stopped. 'Why are you sad for?' she said with childish matter-of-factness. Lily then gave her a hug, wrapping those precious little arms around her new friend. No more words were needed in child-land. Who needs explanations when the feelings are so evident. Lily took her hand, led her to an activity and involved her in her play. My beautiful girl...

Later in the day, I noticed Lily go up to her again to check on her friend. Lily held her hand, put her other hand on the girl's back in a hilariously grown-up and consoling manner. Lily peered into her face and enquired gently 'Are you feeling happy now?'. The little girl didn't have much to say, so Lily took her hand again and led her to the rug for Storytime, sitting next to her and giving her encouraging smiles. Lily glanced over at me and I smiled the smile of a proud mother trying not to openly weep during Storytime!!! ;) I saw the little girl reach out and stroke Lily's long pigtails in wonder. Bless them both...

When school was wrapping up, the grandmother of the little girl came up to me as I helped Lily collect her many paintings and craft. 'My grand daughter told me that Lily was a special friend to her today and looked after her when she was upset. She ran up and told me every detail when I arrived. Thank you.'

We don't know why she was so sad - does it matter? We just know that this little girl had a loving friend today, company and a hug when it was needed. Don't we all, sometimes?

Fun rolling and painting with golf balls!

We chatted about it afterwards, though I didn't want to overplay it as I felt such an act of kindness that comes from the heart can be its own reward.

'Lily, I saw you being kind to that sad little girl today. What made you do that?
'That's just how I did it', she replied coyly.
'Well, how did you feel when you were being so kind?'
'I felt happy.'
'If you were feeling sad and lonely, is that how you would like someone to be kind to you?'
'You know, that's what Jesus says - we should treat people like we want to be treated. And that's what you did today, honey. Well done.'

Please and Thank you are good and important, it's true. But the most beautiful thing of all is to see an act of unprompted kindness from the heart. Friendship, empathy, and compassion were overflowing today. From one sweet little three-year-old heart, to be poured upon another precious soul. Colour me biased, but I was so touched by my daughter's gesture of kindness. Through her many school years and all the rest to come, my prayer is that her eyes will always be open to the kid who is having a rough day, and her arms will always be willing to hug them... just as I pray someone will look out for her when she has those inevitable days. Oh, how I would love for her to find kindness on her rough days too.

Lily-Pie, I was so proud of you today. Warmed to see your tender heart and compassion. Touched to see how you reached out with so much empathy. Honoured to be the mother of such a child, who has such a heart for others. May you carry this with you always and never be afraid to reach out to others. I love you so much!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Rockin' with our Roomba iRobot!

We have a new pet in our home. Well, pet is perhaps not quite high enough of an honour - should I say third child? We sure do loooove him in our family and geez, he could very well now be my favourite!! What we actually have is a ROBOT living with us! Yes, we got a Roomba iRobot 530 - a robot vacuum cleaner. Oh, how we adore him!

So yeah, I thought I would do a bit of a 'Product Review' on the old blogaroo! Just for something different for fun and cos I am happy to shout this product's glories into the blogosphere. I just love to share when I find a product I loooooove! Share it round, I say. I should point out of course that I am in no way affiliated or compensated by Roomba (HA!! I wish!!). Just thought it would be fun to share a review cos I love reading such things myself.

Finding treasure (dust) under the couch!

Background.... Mark and I have been dreaming of purchasing one for quite a few years. We finally decided to bite the bullet and get one (with thanks to my Dad for chipping in for our Christmas gift!). I don't know about you, but vaccuming is without doubt my least preferred household chore. Firstly because since birthing two little cherubs, I've had quite a lot of lower back pain so hauling around a big vacuum cleaner and the bending position kills my back. It's hard to do with littlies as they are either sleeping or in the way. It takes ages especially in our big ol' house. Plus, oh yeah, I just kind of don't like to do it! However children, even those only allowed to eat food at the table, still make all kinds of mess. Especially when you are home all day every day. And with most of the floor being non-carpeted, I've been horrified at the dust bunnies and crumbs everywhere. Ugh!

Playing Hide&Seek with Bumble Jack. Really.

Then along came our little Roomba. We consider him our butler and wanted to name him something hip like Jeeves, but Lily for some reason started calling him Bumble Jack! I mean seriously -!! So Bumble Jack he is, the perfect name for our little guy who bumbles around the house and cleans like an absolute dream.

Here are just a sample of the things we are loving -

  • He really cleans! I thought initially it was a bit of a gimmick and it would just do a pretty light vacuum but no - the Roomba both sweeps and vacuums (very deeply) and I've been shocked to empty it out (very quick and easy to do) and see not only MASSES of dust, but also pretty big crumbs, rubbish and even toast crusts. It picks up oodles of dust and dirt every time it runs. Amazing! What squalor we have been living in, clearly ;)
  • It can do a special 'spot clean' where it focuses on an metre-squared area that you set, such as the den of iniquity that resides under the dining table.
  • It automatically adjusts between carpeted and non-carpet floors and it's little wheels even go all '4-wheel-drive' to clamber over ridges and dips in the floor (it can even go up and down a one inch drop in our floor from the kitchen reno). It also has a 'cliff sensor' so it wont go down stairs or balconies...or even cliffs!
  • It trundles on back to it's dock when it's finished, full, or running low on battery.
  • It has an anti-tangle thing to extricate itself from carpet tassells and cords, but if it does get totally stuck on something like a little teddy bear dropped by a certain preschooler, it turns itself off and waits patiently for rescue.   

Although I mostly turn it on when I go out (yes, I love knowing the floor is being vacuumed while I'm taking the kids to the library!), the kids also love watching it go at home and Eli especially begs for us to turn it on and loves to follow it around (they know they are not allowed to touch it). They even like to play Hide&Seek and Chasey with their new sibling, haha!

Last night, we ate dinner while Bumble Jack cleaned the bedrooms. Luxury!! Most evenings, we shut it into the living/dining/kitchen area after the kids are in bed. Nothing quite enjoying our nightly Tea and TV ritual whilst knowing the dinner crumbs are being taken care of... mmmm, bliss!

I am soooo grateful for this handy gadget which has truly reduced my anxiety about the state of the house significantly. It feels so good to have clean floors (really clean, like even under couches and beds!) every day, and to know it is taking care of one BIG chore so I can focus on other areas like, you know, the bathrooms.

We just love it!!

Lily and Bumble Jack have serious encounter

Cons? Well, the only things I can think of is that you have to clear the path of debris for it, though is that really a con? You would have to do that when vacuuming anyway, and it does encourage you to keep the floor tidy of toys and such - which is a good thing really and more motivating knowing you don't have to vacuum too!! It is good at going around bigger things plus it come with a 'virtual wall' you can set up to get it stay away from an area if you choose (or just close a door). Also it does a pretty great job (due to the brushes) of getting into corners and along baseboards but you still need to manually do the tops of the baseboards for dust (at some point!!). I'd say you would still want to keep your regular vacuum cleaner for tasks like that but really, though I thought initially Roomba would do a pretty basic job, it cleans so deeply I am happy with using it all the time! The other con is I have not yet worked out how to program him to unstack the dishwasher... but hey, you can't have it all!!

As for the dreaded question - price. Perhaps not as much as you would think. RRP is $799 but Harvey Norman has them on special for $550. Then my savvy husband found an online price of $388, printed it out, waltzed in and got Harvey Norman to price match it. BOOYA!!!! We gotz us a Robot, people!!!!

All in all? I love Bumble Jack and thank him for being my partner in crime. Though he surely gets the rough end of the deal - all he gets to do is vacuum while I play more with my kids, cook, clean other stuff, chill with my hubby or just do nothing. However, don't feel too bad for him. After all... he is just a robot, he doesn't have any feelings...... (does he??).

Monday, 26 March 2012

Small Group, Big Questions, Bigger God...

Bible, tea and biscuits... yep, it's the Bible study basics!

For the past few months we have been hosting a weekly Bible study at our house after the cherubs are tucked into bed. A small group of us came together through various avenues and we decided to tackle some of our bigger questions about God, faith, the Bible and how it all comes together - and most importantly, what it means for our daily lives. We started by listing a bunch of the big and small questions we have about God and have committed as a group to work through them, seeking answers and building our faith. We have also been looking at some DVD's by Lee Strobel, an investigative journalist who asked a lot of tough questions about Christianity which had the surprising result of changing his heart as well as his mind.

Our backgrounds are various, from 'long time believers' to 'very new to this whole faith gig' to 'still unsure if this is right for me'. A variety of backgrounds, faiths and opinions but our desire to seek and know the truth brings us together. We may never have every single answer, but faith is like putting together a puzzle - gathering the pieces, seeing if and where they fit, putting together a picture of who God is, gauging the moment in your heart where you trust in what the picture will be.

I adore this group. They are beautiful people. I love their honesty, I love their questions, I love sharing different perspectives that show how God can change hearts and lives in so very many ways. I thank them for being unafraid to question - and pray we will never ever stop seeking and hoping. Every Monday night leaves me inspired, encouraged, amazed.

We are not Bible scholars but we are Truth Seekers. We have big questions, questions that at first glance seem unanswerable. With a little time, research, prayer, discussion and reading, we find a clearer answer out of the initial haze. My God is big enough to take our questions - I am grateful for that. We are assembling the pieces of our faith... bit by bit.

I have faith in the picture the puzzle pieces are making.

It is beautiful.

It changed my life and nourishes my soul.

They even let me take a pic!! Brave indeed :)

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Bunnings Girl

A Sunday afternoon trip to Bunnings. Lily came along for the adventure, she adores the place and shouts BUNNINGS!! whenever we drive past one. They sure knew what they were doing when they introduced the mini-trolleys - kids swarm from all over the place!!

I was cruising the aisles looking for hooks. Lily asked what I was looking for and I told her. 'Maybe you should ask someone, Mum' she said sympathetically (not unlike towards a confused elderly parent). 'Or I know, we should just go to the library because they have lots of books there you can buy, even kid's books!'

Hooks, not books, funny girl!

And yes, of course she is wearing her fairy skirt to Bunnings. Because if you can't wear a fairy skirt to Bunnings when you are three, then when can you?

Lily had five minutes on the playground and managed to befriend two older girls (6ish) and organise a follow-the-leader style parade through the jungle gym - jumping, hopping, climbing etc. Guess who was the leader??

She makes even the most mundane outings so much brighter. So much longer too, it's true, but worth it for the joy she brings with her....

She is my daily delight.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bind us together, Lord...

There is nothing quite like attending the wedding of two people committing to living and loving together for the rest of their days... to remind you of the day you did the same.

They sang the same song in the wedding service that we did at ours... the first line of which we have inscribed inside our wedding bands...

Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.

A joyful day for the newly married couple, who have waited many years to find each and now find the wait was worth it, and then some...

A joyful evening celebrating the newlyweds, feeling spoilt to have a whole afternoon and evening out with my guy, and enjoying the lake views as the boat on which the reception was held drifted around the lake...

A joyful reminder of the blessing it is to be married today and every day to my beloved.

Never take for granted...

Why yes, it's Parliament House...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sharing is Caring is Icecream

At last night's Icecream Adventures, Lily was digging away at her special icecream reward but toward the end was slowing down. 'My tummy's feeling very full', she said. 'Oh?' I replied. Secretly thrilled because I have always encouraged her to listen to her tummy when she is eating. I've aimed to be pretty intentional and conscious of the food messages and eating-for-life skills I am building in my children (that could be a whole other post!), and one of them is to listen to what your tummy is telling you, trying to help them guard against mindless eating or stuffing themselves silly. 'Well, I said casually, 'it's up to you. You can eat it all now, or if your tummy is saying it's a bit full, we can take it home and you can have the rest tomorrow.'

She glanced down at this rather rare treat of delicious icecream - a definite 'sometimes' food.

'I think my tummy is feeling not very full now actually.' she said.

'Well, that's fine, you can eat it all now if you want.' I assured her. 'Or you can save the rest for tomorrow. It's up to you, it's your icecream.'

'Um... (torn, oh, so very torn), Well, my tummy is feeling pretty full. I'm gonna save it. When can I eat it??'

'After lunch tomorrow' I assured her. Playing it oh so cool but secretly stoked to see her self-control, her ability to save something and delay gratification, her ability to not gorge herself on a sweet treat just because it was freely available. You go, baby girl!

So today after lunch, she eagerly retrieved her icecream from the freezer. Well, she had been 'just checking on it' every 30 minutes, allllll morning! ;)

Of course eagle-eyed baby brother spotted it instantly. Uhoh! Here comes the begging!

'Lily, that icecream was from your special outing reward for stopping sucking your thumb, and you saved it. You can choose whether to share it with your brother or not'. As much as I encourage (and sometimes insist) on my children sharing with each other, I felt like this was something she had the right to keep to herself (especially as she has been missing out on all Eli's potty training rewards).

What three year old would share her precious and limited supply of icecream?

This one....

She had only a little left, and she gave most of it to her beloved little brother. Happily, willingly, selflessly. He gobbled it up like a baby bird till she showed him none was left.

Love her generous little everything in and about her...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Thumbsucking? No... Icecream? Yes!

My baby girl started sucking her thumb when just a few weeks old. I had no complaints - it was a comfort to her, it soothed her and hey, it was readily available at any time! Plus, yeah, it looked pretty cute...her thumb was just a teeny tiny little peanut! Adorable!! The habit quickly became just part of who she was. She continued to suck her thumbs (yes, either would do) avidly from then on - when sleeping, when tired, when upset, when bored. Good for all occassions, you might say!

Eventually we both worked up the resolve to try and move past this habit as it certainly looked like something she wasn't going to naturally drop (at 3.5yrs old) and it was starting to affect her teeth. Plus she was now old enough to understand and to want to try and be a big girl. Our start to this journey are chronicled here and here if you are interested in more info!

So for the past five weeks, she has not sucked her thumb at all. Apart from once or twice putting it in her mouth then quickly withdrawing, she hasn't even attempted it - to be honest I've been amazed and slightly shocked that this has all really worked! Thanks to a variety of techniques (documented in the previous posts), including our now beloved Elastoplast bandaids, plus of course her determination, we seem to be on the other side, where we can almost safely say she no longer sucks her thumb - wow!!

After her three day milestone, we decided to set the goal of one month and a reward of going out together for ice-cream (her idea) at the end of it. Well, actually it's been five weeks but we were away in Melbourne and I wanted to set aside a night where we could fully concentrate on her wonderful success. The count down was on and tonight was the night...

Of course first we had to cross off the final day on the chart...

As an extra treat, I allowed my clothes-obsessed little lady to choose her outfit for the evening - whatever she wanted. Of course she chose this huge Size 6 hand-me-down dress that's been hiding in the closet. With her 'party shoes' (of course), and 'stockings' and a turtleneck (well, that was my addition as the evening was brisk!). Looking a little like an Amish school girl, but what do I know?! Going out after dinner made the outing extra decadent too. Little Miss was verrrrry excited!

As we walked out the door Lily took my hand and said 'I'm going to share my ice cream with you, Mummy'. *melt*

As we drove, we were discussing our favourite colours (big topic) and Lily was listing them all 'I love pink and purple and blue and green and silver and gold and black and you know what else I love? You. I love you, Mummy'

*double melt*

So, we cruised down to the local Goodberry's Frozen Custard (which is like, practically icecream, right?) for our treat. Lily got the kiddy special - chocolate custard, pink topping (added extra because ICE CREAM MUST BE PINK, OK!!), sprinkles, mini M&Ms (Ooh, vitamins! Lily exclaimed when she saw them!!??) and a Tiny Teddy to boot. Bonanza!!! Mummy didn't want Lily to eat alone, so forced down a rather delicious Peanut Butter Fudge and Oreo Mix (drool).

We had the cutest little time. Lily could hardly eat she was so enjoying watching everyone. Of course she did dig in with vigour, exclaiming 'I like my one!' and nibbling ever so slowly. We chatted about this and that, and I told how very proud I was of how hard she had tried (ever so hard) to stop sucking her thumb. It was tough, it was heart breaking, it brought her to tears many times. But this little whisp of a thing is made of strong stuff. She kept trying, even when she failed, when it was hard, when she really wanted to stop, she didn't. A lifelong (literally) ingrained habit and her strongest form of comfort - gone. Habit broken. Deep down, to be honest, I didn't even know if she could do it. But she did. She has.

So it was wonderful to tell her how proud I was but more than that, how proud she could be of what she has done. She worked hard and she did it. I loved to see her pleased little face, Little Missie sure knows what a big deal this is, she knows she conquered her very own Mt Everest! I really wanted her to learn from this how persevering in challenges can pay off. She learnt it in spades. 'Thumbsucking is for babies, I'm a big girl now I don't need to do it anymore!' she said confidently.

In summary to this whole thumb-sucking saga... Although I'm definitely no expert, for any other parent going through a similar thing, I can share my top tips I have gained from all this! They would be to involve them in the process and get them to help set the goals/incentives (nail painting and ice-cream were all her ideas). Find their 'currency' - something that is meaningful for them. I don't think the same strategies will work for all kids, so if one doesn't work (after a decent go), try another. Set short and long term goals (three days and one month for us). Keep up the positive reinforcement, the praise, the encouragement. It's a habit, usually unconscious, so it is truly tough to break. Our winning combo in the end was Elastoplasts, rewards and a chart. And a truck load of encouragement and praise!

From here on in the plan is to remove the bandaids - she hasn't had them all the time and does fine without, but I have tried to keep them on most of the time just to ensure unconscious thumbsucking like while sleeping doesn't happen. I figured if we can stop it completely for over a month, now they are off it won't be automatic to plug them in right away!? If it begins to creep back, we can always use the Elastoplasts again. Lily asked lots of questions tonight about what happens now and she agreed just using the bandaids if needed as a reminder was a good plan!

So, I'm feeling a little whistful tonight, I admit. A treasured outing celebrating my baby girl and just a small glimmer of the things she will be able to work through and learn and overcome in her life. A little sad too to say goodbye to her sweet little habit that was always so much a part of her. My baby girl is a baby no more...  the last relic of her babyhood is being left behind (excuse me while I sob)... so I'm a little bit sad but a lot more proud. Proud of how hard she worked. Proud to be the mother of this beautiful tender-hearted little soul. Actually, proud is not the right word - I am grateful - grateful to God that He blessed me with her.

Way to go, darling girl!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A proposal accepted...

Lily has been rather wedding-focused of late and got it into her mind that she wanted to get married. After being forced to cross most of her family members off the list, she decided to ask her best mate Edmund (whose Mum, Kristin,  is a dear friend of mine - we met in our Birth Centre prenatal classes, formed a Mother's Group and I simply adore her so... um... I wasn't complaining about Lily's choice!).


The next time Lily saw Edmund at Playschool (as she later reported to me), she asked him to marry her. No idea how the actual proposal went down, but when I alerted Kristen of what allegedly occured (so she knew what Edmund was talking about if he mentioned something), she laughed and told me Lily's proposal occurred on February 29th. Yes, the leap year day that (according to folk lore tradition which of course we all live our lives by!) is the one day every four years when it is ok for females to propose. I really have to get Lily off Google. I mean, seriously?!? You couldn't make this stuff up!

Edmund giving flowers to Lily

Anyway, Edmund's response? As Lily told me 'He just didn't say anything'. Clearly he was a little shocked (or maybe had no idea what she was talking about!). Lily seemed a little perplexed but not devastated or even really phased. I suggested he probably just needed to think about it and hoped perhaps that was the end of all this hoopla!

We recently gave Edmund a cute little children's Bible as a gift, as his Mum was saying she wanted one for him as he was always asking questions about Jesus. So, today at Playschool, Edmund gave Lily a little pipecleaner sculpture as a thank you gift, along with a card that he had dictated to his Mum.... without prompting, this is what he wanted to say -

I read the card to Lily, she turned to me with eyes alight with glee. 'Edmund wants to marry me?!?!?!?!' she gasped with joy. (Pause). 'I need to buy a wedding dress!!!!'

Yes, really. What a girl - first thought is the dress!!!

After laughing for about 10 minutes, we did our best to leave the subject behind before things really started to get out of hand.

Best friends like to inspect bugs together

However, Lily of course reported the big news to her father, 'Daddy, Edmund said he wants to marry me!! We gonna get mayyied! I'm going to buy a wedding dress and I know! I need a ring! I have to go to the ring shop!! When I'm gonna get mayyied, Dad?' At which stage poor Daddy decided it was time to share some home truths to his three year old daughter. 'Lily, the law says you can't get married until you are at least 18'. Lily started to weep (oh yes, really) 'Mummy, Daddy says I can't get mayyied!!'. Oh. brother. We calmed her down and told her she could keep her plans for when she was a grown up girl. One day. Not soon!

As amusing as it all is, let's not get carried away, huh! I'm interpreting their little prechooler capers as them saying 'I like you, you are my best friend!' to each other, which is really what it's all about. Edmund is such a sweet and gentle little guy, they have always adored each other and played well together without issue -it's just charming to watch. Two kind and caring little buddies since the day they were born - for now we can just be grateful for their connection and friendship, especially their support for each other as they start school together. I love to see their growing bond, it pleases their mother's immensely as our own friendship grows too! Just a whoooole lotta sweetness, really!

In other friendship news, my other lovely friend Amber and I were chatting today as you do while waiting for the kiddies to finish school, when I glanced down at my feet and saw our two littlies, Harper and Eli. Too.much.cuteness!!! Harper (being a whole 7 months older than Eli) simply dotes on him in the sweetest way, always crouching down close to talk to him like he is a little baby. Truly adorable! They were having a precious little wordless chat, and Eli was sharing his rice cracker. It sure did make two Mamas smile....

Today I'm thankful for the laughter these quirky kids bring to our lives. And I'm so thankful for the wonderful friendships and support I have with my fellow Mama friends... I would be truly lost without them, they are such rich blessings in my life. In these intense days in the trenches of motherhood, we need our fellow mothers to share and grow and vent with, don't we? The shared experiences of raising young children bond us, support us and lift us up when the challenges bring us low. The blessings are multiplied seeing our children now forming such special bonds too.

So many delights in these days...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Making Toys, Making Memories

Our lovely friend Charlotte gave Lily a sweet gift when we were in Melbourne - a cute little kit to make your own stuffed toys - a cat and a dog!! All the felt was pre-cut, all that was needed was to thread it together, stuff with the provided stuffing and stick on all the (already sticky) felt pieces to give the animal features (in your own style of course!). Perfectly doable for a very crafty three year old - she was thrilled! We settled in for a quiet little Learning Time together, and Lily chose to do the dog first (because she desperately wants a real dog!!). It was fun and just challenging enough (I only had to help a bit with the threading) without being so hard as to be frustrating.

I also used this activity as an opportunity to work with Lily on listening patiently to instruction (as I showed her how the toy would come together) and persevering (with the threading, as she tends to give up pretty quickly with challenging tasks). She often resists this kind of thing but explaining gently and calmly before we began that our Learning Time would include listening first, and the need to 'keep trying' helped her accept them happily.

It was a sweet little activity, Lily loved doing it and was ever so proud to have made her very own toy! Thanks, dear Charlotte, for a perfectly engaging pressie!! It was great to see her growing in other areas through the task too, listening calmly and patiently to direction (rather than wanting to rush in and do it herself then getting upset when she didn't know what to do) and persevering with the threading (rather than saying it's too hard and giving up). It was of course good for me too, to work with her patiently and gently throughout,encouraging without hovering too much!

It was a lovely morning working together, watching her ever-more capable little fingers grow in dexterity. Her confidence in knowing how to put things together, her joy in creating. Working hard, enjoying the result. Satisfying!

'Mummy, I love Learning Time together with you', she said as she busily stuck 'bones' all over her new doggie. I kissed her hair and told her how much I loved spending time with her too. Love these little moments of togetherness, learning, growing, sharing together. Growing in skills and more importantly, character. Having fun, making memories.

How blessed I am to spend a childhood with her.

PS She named her dog Charlie... of course!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Boy with Backpack

It was a quite little Monday, recovering and slowly unpacking from our whirlwind Melbourne trip. Lily was at Playschool for the morning, I was doing multiple cycles of washing and putting stuff away, pottering around with Little E.

Sorting through the clothes in Eli's room and he begged to put on the cute backpack I couldn't resist purchasing at the 2nd Hand Kid's Market I frequent.... topped with a Beanie that he insisted on wearing for the rest of the day (Hat! Wear!! he would call when it fell off, including during nap time!). He proudly strutted through the house in his 'big boy' get up.

My big little boy. A boy who knows his own mind, and has plenty of quirky, and very clear ideas... including his own defined fashion sense!