Monday, 30 April 2012

Just a little reading time...

I know I have posted similar pictures before, but this quirky little guy never ceases to make me smile with his bookworm ways... like propping himself up on the adult chairs with a bit of reading material!

Such a busy little boy relishes a little stillness in his day...

Legs crossed, kicking back, flipping pages...just chillin'!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Quiet Little Backyard Picnic

After an uplifting and enriching morning meeting with our church family, we came home and decided to utilise the gloriously sunny day with an impromptu backyard picnic. The fare was very simple... our standard Sunday Tuna Toastie (a quick easy meal is essential after our big morning out and kids very much in need of naps!), but the company was delightful and the casual little event was very sweet indeed.... just so relaxing to sit in the warm sunshine with my three most precious blessings!

'This was a nice surprise, Mummy!' Lily chirped, confirming that it does not take much effort at all to create a special moment for our kids.

'And do you know what?' she added conversationally

'I love you, Mummy'.

Right back at you, darling girl...

Little Mother Lily ensures Eli only takes one slice of cheese at a time! Ahem...

Mark decided to recline in his usual chilled out style during lunch and the kids just thought that was sooooo cool/funny and decided to try it out too by lying on him whilst they nibbled on their lunch.... it was all so funny and rather Romanesque!! No peeled grapes, however. Love how they adore their Daddy and whatever he does.... they want to do too!

Oh yes, Mummy, I can eat like this! It's comfy!!

It's a pretty weird way to eat lunch but hey, I guess we are a pretty weird family!!?

Hmmm, this position is actually perfect for plane-watching!

A lovely lunch in the sunshine with my family.... quiet times, simple pleasures, numerous blessings but in particular these three beautiful people who make it all so precious.

Wow, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude today! Feeling content with my lot in life, I guess....

Saturday, 28 April 2012

My Ballerina Baby

So this term I have decided to try putting Lily into her first dance class! This little girl looooooves to move and groove, so I thought it would be a fun and enriching thing for her, with good discipline in learning some simple steps without it being high pressure or too full on, and mostly just FUN of course! The class is for 2-4 year olds, with a mix of creative dancing (learning elements of ballet and so on), drama, instruments, pilates (!!?) and just generally running around and having fun like the busy little bees that they are!

She has been begging for ages to do 'ballet class' which she got the idea of from somewhere (you, oh gentle reader, have probably picked up on the obsessive tutu and ballet shoe uniform she wears!!) so I could not wait to break the news to her that she was actually getting to go...

Her beautiful face just about burst with the shock and joy of it all. She was thrilled, to say the least!

She immediately set about recreating her vision of the ballet class with an entire assembly of ballerinas (including a teacher, names for every student, and so on).

She is pretty excited. *Understatement of the Year*

The count down is on - we start next week!!

This is her 'I'm very pleased with myself' face

Ballerina with hair!

These ones got tiaras too (sorry Lily, I squished one of their skirts in the drawer - whoops!) 

The Ballet class fully assembled... she calls it her Ballet Decorations

Friday, 27 April 2012

Shaving Cream Painting in the Tub!

A bath needed to be taken but I decided to do it in the afternoon so there was none of the usual post-dinner pre-bed rush. The kids loooove the bath and I feel like I'm always rushing them out when they could happily play much longer. I thought I would make it a little extra fun for the kids by making up some shaving cream paint that I have been keen to try out.... inspired by Pinterest of course! ;)

Just a few drops of food colouring mixed up in some shaving cream, a couple of paint brushes (and spoons) and..... it's party time!

The kids were ridiculously excited about the idea... though Lily was a little shocked at first at the idea of painting the bath!! But I assured her it was a-ok, and she soon got into it with relish, painting roads, people, street signs and all manner of things around the sides of the bath!

Eli also had a wonderful time. Wow, I was amazed at how into it he got. Poor boy has not had too much exposure to paint just yet, what with his flailing arms and Mum's low threshold for paint splatters! I gotta say this was the perfect low-mess activity - painting in the bath - perfect, it all just washes off!! No mess and no stress... yeeha! It was so cute watching him really get into the process and painting all sorts of squiggles. Of course he did have to taste it.... just once! The kids both did a great job of keeping the foam in the bath area, although I was happy for them to paint the tiles and edges. It all wiped and washed up super easily at the end (Lily took care of that) and if you are wondering or wanting to try it out, no, it does not stain the bath or the tiles... or the kids!

Sorry about the zillions of photos but it was all just so cute I could not stop taking pics...

His ringlets. Her tongue. Melt xxxx

Oh yeah, the bath water is blue 'cos we had already coloured it - we often put a few drops in for bath time as the kids get a kick out of it. By the way, check out how long Eli's hair is when wet.... eek!!

They painted merrily for over an hour. They were so involved in their creative process that I had to read a magazine to keep myself occupied (um, bliss!!!) whilst sitting in the bathroom and keeping a loose eye on proceedings. Occasional top ups of warm water was all that was needed, and they were totally happy! They also experimented with finger painting, painting their own bodies (and each other!) and all the bath toys. Loved seeing them being so creative and free to explore!

The Artists  busily at Work!

Finally after over an hour I had to (literally - ha!) pull the plug as it was time for other things. So I guess it still remains to be seen how long my kids can stay in the bath for... indefinitely, apparently. Anyway, we will for sure be doing Shaving Foam Paint again - a rollicking good time!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Fun with Friends

A visit to Amber (and of course Harper and Finn)'s house  is always guaranteed to be a good time....

There will be food....

Round sandwiches are so much cooler than the square kind!

Busy Little Legs... Finn, Lily, Harper and Eli!

There will be the amazing Amber taking beautiful photos....(be sure to check her blog 'cos her pics will knock your socks off!)

She will kill me for sharing this but had to get a shot of her
 in action - so gorgeous and talented!

There will be fun and creative activities to do....

And of course there will be a rockin' toddler dance party!! Oh, how they all boogied... I really should have gotten some video...

Lily in the zone, and Harper sweet talking 'Baby Eli'!

A wall of mirrors is all the better for checking out your sweet moves, right kids?!

And the Mums even got to sit down with their coffees for about five whole minutes!! Luxury! Don't worry, we did manage to sneak in a decent amount of chatting in whilst corralling and coordinating the children who of course had a wonderful time playing together and also eating pretty much constantly...

So thankful for sweet times with friends - for both the kiddies and for me!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A peaceful public holiday...

Today we did.... nothing.

Oh, it was glorious!

It started off with the kids gifting us with a public holiday blessing - they (and therefore we) all slept in till 8.30am!!

Family snuggle time followed by a cruisy day just chilling around the house, relaxing and reading with the kids, pottering, doing a few small chores and tag-teaming care of the kids so the other parent could rest.


Just what we needed, a day of rest, relaxation and recuperation after a little bit too much busy-ness.

So grateful...

PS Yeah right, Daddy is sleeping in that photo!

PPS Can't believe I posted a photo of myself first thing in the morning (ugh) but hopefully the children's adorable and perky faces will draw all the attention!! How do they wake up so full of beans?!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

siblings for life, for love

As much as I tried to prepare Lily for when Eli was introduced to our family, I really had nothing to worry about. There has never been an ounce of sibling rivarly, in fact Lily used to beg me 'Pick up Baby Eli, Mummy!!' when he was happily lying in his bouncer! A far cry from the frequent stories I heard of toddlers resenting the baby being touched by Mum, she would get so anxious if I put him down for a second!! She has always doted on him, adored him, coddled him and wanted him around. Such a sweet blessing for which I have been so grateful. Their relationship has always been a beautiful thing to watch and one I am determined to nourish as much as possible... but to be honest, although I have promoted and protected it as much as I can, it hasn't needed much work or input from me so far.... they just naturally adore each other!

However in recent weeks, Lily has struggled a little. Yes, she loves her brother but when his wriggly little fingers and clumsy little arms get near her artist's studio and grab her creations..... well... there is only so much a sister can take, right?!?! She would panic and shriek as Eli got his little clutches onto her precious papers she was in the midst of making into something, paper flying everywhere as he eagerly tried to see and get involved in what she was doing. Oh dear.

Now, I fully realise I am merely on the first step of this whole sibling-relationship gig....well, let's be honest, this entire parenting gig!!!!! Yup, I am a rookie and a newbie, with high hopes and ideals and many many (many?!) more years of practical application and cold-hard-realities ahead. True. Yet I do have hopes and prayers, particularly regarding the relationship between my children.... one I see as not only so special but also foundational for peer-relationships in the future. For that reason, thus far in this journey (and also of course informed by my own sibling relationships and other issues I have seen, reading and so on), I have thought through two main goals I want to focus on developing between my kids as they grow...

1. Working through Issues. Conflict is inevitable between siblings as it is between like...all humans...cos we are, you know, so very human! That is ok, that is expected, that is life. The key I think is to give them tools, practise and confidence to work through the problems when they emerge. To know how to talk through issues, speak up when hurt or angry, to acknowledge wrongs when done, to ask for and extend forgiveness, make things right, to give grace on both sides, compromise, problem solve and so on.

2. Relating with Love. I want my children to support each other, praise each other, be skilled in understanding how to show love to each other. I feel like with my own siblings we didn't have a 'language' for doing this and certainly no skills. I've got many thoughts on how I am/want to develop this one but I will focus on the first goal for this post. But the heart behind this one is, I want siblings who are given a language and plenty of practise in speaking kindly, lovingly, gently to one another. Who can cheer each other on in life, be a team, rejoice in each other's successes, comfort in their down times and so on. Who are unafraid and not uncomfortable to say 'I love you' and so on. Whether in words or deeds... be each others cheer squads and support in life.

So, um, yeah... big goals, big dreams, big hopes for my kids. Same as all mothers, I would guess! Yep, I'm just at the foothill of the arc of their relationship but I am hoping and praying to lay some good ground work in these early days.

Back to the drama at hand.... A wise parent once told me that kids are most likely to freak out in anger/violence/frustration when they don't feel they have a clear or fair strategy for dealing with the issue. I'm all about breaking things down into simple steps around here and Lily in particular finds a lot of comfort at this age in having a simple step-by-step process she can rely on. When A happens, I can B, C, D. So for right now, when Eli is getting into/messing up/taking her craft things, the steps are -

1. Say 'Please Stop' with her hand lifted up in a clear, calm but firm request.
2. Suggest/give something else he can play with.
3. If all else fails, then ask Mum for help.

Yes, I want them to resolve issues on their own but with Eli still under two, there is only so much negotiating they can do at this age, I think? Yes, Eli needs to learn not to mess up/wreck/take Lily's things and to listen to and respect his sister but that is a task for the Mum to take on for now, I think, not Lily. (I mean, for me to teach him boundaries about what he can and cannot touch at this age, for me to step in when he does not listen to 'no' etc - not for Lily to be the mother, give consequences and so on).

I introduced Lily to this strategy by talking it through, repeating and role-play and acting it out how to implement it (I do a pretty good job pretending to be a crazy 21 month old!!), as well as working with the rambunctious little brother of course!

Since then, it has warmed my heart on several occasions to  overhear them.... Lily at first exclaiming 'Eli!!" with rising panic and anxiety in her voice, then to hear her catch herself, immediately calm down and say cheerfully, ''Please stop, Eli! Here you go little Buddy, you can play with this instead!' as she gives him a different toy or activity, he happily is redirected and peaceful parallel play once more resumes. Well done, little lady and little dude! No, it's not 100% (when it's not I ask Lily what she could have done differently, and deal with Eli separately) and there are of course a million variables that are sure to emerge but I am thankful to have been able to head off this little flare up for now, and give Lily some tools to calmly and effectively deal with this issue and others like it. I love hearing the calm and confidence in her voice as she redirects him, and then seeing the issue resolved with no intervention from me needed.

Ahhh there is so much more I could say, qualify, talk about, dream about, share and pray about on all this, but I think I will wrap it up there. Suffice to say, I am so grateful for the beautiful start these two have had to their relationship and I am well aware there will be all kinds of intracacies and hurdles and issues ahead. I also know that at the end of the day it will be up to them to preserve and protect their relationship as siblings and yet.... anything I can do to help it along, any tools I can give them, any equipping I can do, I shall! While I can. My hopes are high, my prayers are long, my heart is full.....

PS If you have managed to read through all this rambling, well done!?! And thanks for listening to me as I think this all through and share it here! So much to consider when sorting out my approach to this preciously complex relationship, which I am sure will evolve over the years too (referring to my approach, my goals, and the relationship!!)

PPS The scenes above... today when Eli wandered to Lily's table and started grabbing at the 'ballerinas' she was making, I expected Step 1, 2 and 3 to unfold (or break down). But instead, she cheerfully offered him her seat, some paper and crayons to do his own drawing and sat down behind him to continue her industrious creating. They were both so happy and needless to say, I was too!!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Oh, Babycino...

At a sweet little playdate this morning, I commented to my lovely friend that I'm preeeetty sure we were not sipping on Babycinos when we were Tiny Tots.... 

I guess times have changed 'cos these kids sure do know their way around one!

In other breaking news, Miss Lily has conquered the ever tricky 'Y' in her name. Not that we are pushing early literacy (play-based learning all the way, baby) but she started drawing the other letters herself on her drawings and was frustrated that she could not do the 'Y' - it's a sneaky little letter, you see! Then, a few weeks ago at dinner she announced 'I want to read books all by myself and write all the letters.' So following her lead, Daddy had a little after-dinner session with her where he showed her how to do the 'Y' and a few other letters she was wanting to work out (amazing how many letters she could already write without ever being 'taught') and so here we are..... I realised I should snap a little record today when the kids were drawing at our friend's house. Loving that she writes her name in the top left corner just like the teacher's do at school.... they don't miss much, do they?!

The 'Y', Lily's mini-Everest, conquered!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Sunday Afternoon Stroll

It has become a bit of a tradition in our little family to take a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood late on Sunday afternoon, after church and rest time (for all of us!). Whether the weekend has been chaotic or quiet, I love rounding it out with a family walk - no destination except just to hang out together, chat, collect a few treasures (leaves and sticks) and get some fresh air!

Side-note: I often lament the lack of footpaths on our street, but thankfully it is usually very quiet as it is a Circuit (so no through traffic) and there are bike paths around for when the kids need to roam free a bit. Thankfully we usually all love to just hold hands while the kids scamper along beside us! Cos that's just how we roll, you know?! ;)

 Oh how I love all these precious little souls... or is it soles?! Heehee...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Celebrating Mark

Party day commenced with Lily throwing up in her bed around 6am. 

Oh yes, really!

The little cherub spent pretty much the whole day sleeping and lying on the couch. Poor darling! Lily-Pie insisted she would be putting on her party shoes that night, and with the hordes about to arrive, we proceeded with party prep while she slept the day away. Once again I was reminded of what really matters, as much of the busy-ness of the day went out the window in order to spend time caring for, sitting with and snuggling my poor girl. Life as a parent has its way of bringing home these realities, huh!?

Strange... it's the 3rd recent 'big event' (like our Melbourne trip) that she has been soooo excited about.... then woken up sick,  throwing up, sleeping all day etc then been totally fine by the evening (with no one else getting sick, I might add). A wise mother who I was sharing this with later that night suggested it could be she is just getting so excited she makes herself sick!?! I've never heard of this but now I think about it, it certainly seems to fit and this little girl takes excitement off the scale, so if anyone could be sick with excitement, I guess it would be her! Anyone else's kid done this?? Something for me to watch out for in future at any rate... Anyway she was fine by the time festivities kicked off after her very quiet day and she got to wear the party dress and shoes she was so very excited about! So thankful for that, I don't know what we would have done if she had gotten worse and not better.

Freshly painted walls and ceilings nixed the idea of some Pinterest-inspired balloon decorations, so I simplified and stuck to making some cute fringey streamers for the door frames! Also Pinterest-inspired, but don't worry - no pressure, just several relaxed snipping sessions while watching The Voice!! ;)

Somehow we managed to cram 60+ people into the house (well, including the patio on thankfully a not-too-chilly evening) and had one heck of a BBQ!!! It was crazily chaotic and even though I didn't really get a chance to eat much or properly chat to like... anyone, it did my heart good to see Mark enjoying himself, being surprised and spoilt by lovely gifts and spending time with dear friends. He is not the kind of guy who makes himself the centre of attention so it was wonderful to have a big night all about HIM! I also enjoyed, (in the midst of bustling around refilling dip bowls and drinks), looking around and seeing people at home in our home, relaxing, chatting, laughing, eating, playing ping pong, and so on... it really warms my heart and I just get such a kick out of it - seeing friends meet friends and helping friends have a good time (well, at least I hope so!). *contented sigh* Love it!

Of course I made a speech (which I fumbled through, teary eyed). Lily held my hand throughout and whilst I'm in the midst of reciting all the many things I love about Mark, Lily would tug my hand and chime in '.. and he really loves me'... 'and he really loves Eli' ... 'and he really loves Horsey Wrestles'. I think next year I will just ask her to do the speech and save myself the stress!!! :)

Baked Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Mark requested a berry cheesecake for his birthday and so I nervously made two, having to experiment on a new recipe as I couldn't find quite the one I wanted. I was terrrrrified it was going to be a disaster as I ran into a few... er... issues.... while making it (which is what happens when you try to make a new recipe with 'adjustments' at midnight - not the best idea!). Thankfully it must have been edible as both of them disappeared pretty quickly and Mark loved it which is kinda the point, right! Phew...

I hardly had the time or brain space to remember to take photos on the night (plus I don't post pictures of people on here without asking permission and don't really have time to make inquiries of all 60+ attendees!) so not many of the actual party to share.... but I did somehow manage to whip my camera out in the nick of time to capture this gorgeous moment....

The second Baked Raspberry Cheesecake (different version) and a platter of Fairy Bread for the kids - which most of the adults couldn't resist either! Who doesn't love fairy bread?!

Lily digging into dessert

Eli scavenging some Cheesecake from Bel

The Fairy Bread was so good, Eli was trying to
insert it directly into his stomach?!!

We remembered to snap a pic together at the end of the
night - both very, very tired but very, very happy!

When all the guests had gone home, the Birthday Boy and I sat outside by our newly purchase brazier, enjoying the fire, a glass of red, the starry sky, some quiet time together and the celebration of a Very Good Night...

Happy 30th Birthday, Markinhos xx