Friday, 31 August 2012

It's a....

Sometimes whilst living in the fog of nausea and sickness in this pregnancy, it's been easy to forget that I am actually pregnant with... you know... a real and precious baby wriggling around in there! Well, today we had the big ultrasound at 19 weeks so reality sunk in, and I am utterly grateful to report we have a very healthy, strong and 'fidgety' little baby!

This does not look all that comfortable, but what do I know?! Knees right up to baby's nose!

Two sweet little feet (taken from different sides so it is actually left and right, not 'two left feet' haha!

Feeling so grateful. So blessed. Doesn't matter how many times you go through it, those first couple of seconds after the gel is put on your tummy and the little wand thing is applied.... your heart catches in your throat and you forget to breath until you see it - the heart beat.... the feet kick. Oh, the reassurance in those first few seconds. Yes, thank you Lord, our baby is healthy and strong. Mark and I held hands and smiled and wondered at the marvel of both creation and technology, to see our bub so clearly.... four heart chambers, the brain, the kidneys, little mouth, hands, and so on! We even noticed (since the two years since I had Eli) how much clearer the images were... we even got some 3D at the end which was a shock as I have never had that with my babies before. Also, yes, many of you will be reassured to know baby is the perfect 'on track' size, despite me not 'showing' yet and having lost so much weight. Clearly, bub knows to just take whatever nutrients it needs out of my body.... thankful for that!

The lovely ultrasound technician and we were laughing as our baby was curled into the tightest little ball - it was hilarious! Plenty of room to swim around in there, but baby chose to curl into some kind of super-foetal position, like legs up by its head - knees up by its nose! Made seeing all the parts a bit tricky, I had to wriggle around a bit to try to shift the baby...

Thank you God for this beautiful healthy baby, growing big and strong, even whilst I have not been well. Thank you for this honour and this child. I am blessed, I am grateful this baby is alive and healthy so far, and I am utterly aware that it is not always so.

Beautiful baby of mine.... Little hands by the face!

Ok, ok, I know most of you are just skimming this waiting for the big reveal... did we find out the gender?! Why yes we did.... and we were so excited to discover.....

A boy. A little brother for Eli. Two little brothers for Lily to smother nurture and love on. Fun!!

Having a 'pigeon pair' already, it was kinda fun waiting to see what this little one would be, a little bonus baby! :) Being the overthinker that I am, I had thought through the benefits of every combo (well, two combos pretty much - boy or girl!!) so either way was going to be a delight - most of all of course, I just wanted to see that healthy baby kicking around in there!

My two sons!!! Wow!!! Feels surreal still to think about it.

Coming home, I admit I had a bit of trepidation about telling Lily as she has been very vocal about wanting a sister. However, when I told her she was getting a baby brother she was totally thrilled and excited! I let her make the call to family members to share the news and it was so precious how she relayed it...

'Hi, guess what, I've got some exciting news - the baby is growing healthy and strong! And you know what else? It's a boy!!!! Now I have two brothers to look after!'

Half way through telling my mum, she suddenly remembered that she had been hoping for a sister and looked at me in shock, whispering that she wanted a girl, in dismay. I gently reminded her that she had a sweet new girl cousin, which is practically like a sister, plus now she would get to be the special big sister (and only girl!) to two adorable brothers - another one as fun as Eli! (Hoping fervently this would be a convincing argument!). With that she was totally satisfied and excited and proud once more - phew! I admit I felt a small pang on her behalf that she would likely never experience that special sister-bond.... but at the end of the day, regardless of gender, it is personality, love and family history that binds siblings together... and I only have to look at her bond with her brother to know how precious any sibling relationship can be.

So.... a baby boy is on his way. A new little guy in our family. Almost half way through this pregnancy, and I am so utterly eager to meet him. My tiny baby boy is already so loved, so keenly anticipated, and so very, very welcome!

Love you, precious son!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Asleep in my arms...

My little man had a bad cold. Sniffly and sad and just not his usual cheery self. Lily was at school, I was trying to rest in bed and he was alternating watching Playschool, playing with toys and reading with me in bed. I decided to offer him a big cuddle, and so snuggled him into bed with me, my big and busy two-year old boy, patting his little back. Before I knew it, he was asleep at only 11am! I couldn't believe it as he never falls asleep like that!!! Poor little tyke must have been worn out.

Well, what can I say... this surprising sleepy snuggle was delicious!

Just so sweet to have him in my arms and peacefully slumbering....

Yes, my arm was losing circulation, and I was indeed trapped and wondering if I would starve!!

However, it was too good an opportunity to just cherish my little man and of course I didn't dare wake him! By a miracle, my camera was on my bedside table and so I managed to one-handedly snap a few little photos! Oh, and he is wearing his massive coat that his heart was just set on wearing for the entire day - funny boy.

He slumbered till the cruel phone rang and awoke him!



My trapped but happy arm!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

a little window decorating...

I found some old reusable window decals so gave them to the kids to go wild with their decorating impulses! Lily was quite peturbed that I wasn't going to keep her display up as a permanant installation!!

Oh btw, the strips of blue tape and sanded back window frames are because we were prepping that window frame to be painted. Um yeah, that was done five months ago, right before I got pregnant/sick. I wouldn't want to bet money on it being painted before this baby arrives, but I suuuure hope it is!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Skype with the Grandparents

Hasn't Skype made far-away-family feel so much closer? I know it has for us. And to think this wonderous technology is free and soooo easy to use (ok, sometimes a bit glitchy!).

The kids had a late afternoon chat with their grandparents in Perth. They love being able to talk to them, see them, show them their craft or latest toy, do silly songs and dances and of course pull silly faces with each other (a Lily/Grandad specialty). It's adorable. I love that the grandparents can see the kids' new hair cut, hear Eli's vocabulary explode, witness Lily's new dance moves.

A few days earlier we Skyped with my Dad in Queensland, and they got him to show them his fish and the dog via the laptop! We have done gift opening via Skype so the grandparents don't miss those priceless moments of surprised and happy faces as they scramble through layers of wrapping paper. Just soooo much better than a boring old phone call, huh?

Even across the country, I love how this technology can be used to keep family feeling close and part of every day life.... even just a casual late afternoon chat with grandparents while Daddy finishes making the pizzas. Who would have thought one day there would be remote babysitting, haha!!!

Just shooting the breeze via laptop!

'What's that, Grandad??'

Monday, 27 August 2012

getting some serious air

Spring is in the air.... and the kids are springing on the trampoline!

He loves to go wild on the trampoline, flinging himself all over the place (and into everyone too).

Had to include this one just cos it makes me laugh.... Eli, the flying headless wonder!!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lily: Four Year Old Interview... and Stylista!

Lily rockin' her new blazer from her Auntie, along with sunnies from her Uncle... the family is keeping the kids well dressed!

Lily said she looked like Mummy and wanted a photo....

Getting visions of this kid as a 20-something!!! Help!

Nobody else could make bug-eye sunglasses look so cute!

A bit late, but I remembered I wanted to start doing a yearly interview with the kids on their birthdays... so here is Lily.... this was done pre-bed so she kept wanting me to ask more questions to delay bedtime, haha!!

A snapshot of Lily at Four

What are you going to be when you grow up?
A superhero!
What’s that going to be like?

What are your favourite toys?
My dolly
Who are your best friends?Cousin Oliver (a second-cousin who she has seen once recently in the last couple of years!)
What makes you happy?

When i stopped sucking my thumb
What makes you sad?
People not sharing with me
When you dream at night, what do you dream about?
I dream about ballerinas.
What do you like to do with Daddy?
Play hide and seek
What do you like to do with Mummy?Have snuggle buggles
What do you like to do with Eli?
I like to play babies with him (pretending to be babies)
What’s your favourite colour?
Pink and purple, silver and gold.
What’s your favourite book?
Sticky Jam: The Story of Sugar by Meredith Hooper

What does Daddy do during the day?
Go to work.
What does Mummy do during the day?

Have a rest. (!!!!! Though yes, for the last four months I have been sick, I guess this would be her memory of pretty much all I do!)
What do you do during the day?
It's good to be four because.....
I like being a 4 year old
What do you like doing at school?
Painting pictures

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Take Two: Sibling Sleepover

Well, our first highly anticipated sibling sleepover didn't eventuate in any sleep so we decided to try again later and then all kind of forgot about it! But recently Lily remembered this fun concept and asked for another try, so this Saturday night was the night... Eli was now a bit older so I think he understood a bit more and was also very excited. Sweet Lily giggled with anticipation all day at the idea and when night fell they got all snuggled in together in Eli's room in a state of glee.

Although they share a room all the time when we travel, something about being at home just gets them so excited, I was doubtful if sleep was going to happen again! But its such a fun thing to do, we figured it was well worth another shot.

They settled in with time for the obligatory 'little giggle and a chat'....

Oh yes, we can touch each other!
Eli pretending like he is going straight to sleep... yeah right!!

More than a little excited!

This little dude... just gearing up for a big night!

Mark and I settled in for our Saturday night movie, enjoying the sounds of giggles, laughing, squealing, singing and all manner of silliness going on. It's like they have their own language sometimes, or in the very least, their own secret sibling world which I just love to peek in on, overjoyed to let it be their very own special bond. It is just the most precious relationship!

As it started to tick past 8.30pm, we paid a couple of visits to encourage them to start settling down.... and then by 8.45pm - by some kind of miracle - they were actually both asleep!!!! I couldn't believe it and we went to bed just hoping they wouldn't wake tooooo early in the morning!

Alas, that was not the end of it - at 1am, I woke to Lily calling out because she needed to go to the toilet! This was very rare for her to need to go in the middle of the night, and because she was in Eli's room she was disoriented, so called out for me rather than just going on her own as she usually would. So, of course this woke a much confused-and-disturbed Eli up with many tears at being so rudely awakened in the middle of the night! Poor kid! It seemed like he was going to struggle to go back to sleep with Lily in the room after all that emotion, and at 1am we sure weren't going to spend the night experimenting! So we decided Lily better finish the night in her room - cue fresh tears....  poor girl, but it was just the way it all panned out in the end.

Oh well, they still had fun and made it half the night, so shall we call it half a success!? We will have to try again soon!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Nothing You Can Do

Something I have been thinking about lately, in this privileged task of raising children, is what do I ultimately want my kids to know?

In many ways, my role is to model and embed in the hearts of my children the love God has for us all. I try (and yes, I do it imperfectly but I do try!) to reflect God's love to them that they may one day choose to see and know the fullness of His love and grace.

His love - gracious, merciful, kind, pure, selfless, firm, unconditional....

Yeah, a pretty tall order but it's a shining example I aim to emulate as best I can - in order to point them to the Source.

So what do I want the kids to know about the love I have for them - which happens to be also true of the love God has for them?

Totally zonked, totally beloved.

The heart of my love for them, the thing I want them to know in their core is this -

Nothing you can do can make me love you more.
Nothing you can do can make me love you less.
I will always love you -
Just because you're mine.

These kids of mine may achieve great things, they may be successful in the 'world's eyes', they may marry and give me hordes of gorgeous grandbabies, they may achieve and strive and rake in big bucks. But none of this is what ultimately matters, and I don't ever want them to feel that I will love them more for those things, or for them to do them for my approval or love. My love is not based on what they do, what they gain, what they achieve. I could never love them more than I do.

My kids may (inevitably?) hurt me one day by hurting themselves through poor choices. They will (inevitably) fail at some things. They may (inevitably?) make decisions for themselves that I would not make for them. They may even choose to not believe in the God who loves them so truly, madly, deeply and for that, yes, I would grieve. But.... I will never love them less. Nothing they can say, do, fail at, believe or choose will make me love them less.

Little Boy Blue! Yes, his sleeping bag is on backwards, otherwise he takes it and his
pyjamas off in the night and we discover a frozen little boy (literally blue!) in the morning!

I love them unconditionally. I pray I can and will always love them unconditionally. I almost fear to say this because I know life's paths have a way of unfolding in unimaginably challenging ways and I know that I will not always love them perfectly (forgive me!). But I do know that I love them and I know even more surely that when I, even as their fiercest protector and champion, ever stumble even slightly in showing my love.... it will be my failing only to reflect accurately the constant love God has for them... yes, because absolutely nothing you can do can make God love you less.

So when I  think about what I want my kids to know, at the heart of it is that I don't ever want them to feel like they have to or even can do anything to earn my love. Nor that they are ever at risk of losing any portion of my love. There may be prides and disappointments but the portion of my love for them will always be at 100%. Because they are mine.

They are a gift to me, they were born of me, and I love them - just because....

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Making a Ballerina Doll

Lily got a Ballerina Doll making kit for her birthday from our lovely friend Sarah. She was absolutely thrilled to recieve it (ballerinas + craft = bliss) and has been begging me daily to be able to make it. As the actual kit was for 8+ years, I knew it would require a fair bit of help from me so it had to wait a while till I not only felt up to the task but that we didn't have busy little brother around.
So today he took an extra long nap and Lily begged and pleaded... I was feeling pretty wretched but couldn't say no as she had been waiting so long so we launched on in!

Well, it sure was a challenge!!! It said it was suitable for 8+ but it obviously should have said 33+ as I had to do pretty much the entire thing and even I was struggling!!!! Maybe this just shows how uncrafty I am, but I could only laugh when it gave instructions to simply loop and glue a big stretch of wool in a complicated triple-8 sorta figure which would miraculously turn into a pretty smooth hair bun!?!? Yeah, not so much!! Not to mention trying to pleat the tutu using tiny strips of double sided tape!!

Thankfully, the four year old sitting eagerly at my side was not fussed about my dodgy hair-bun and tutu-pleating skills and was thrilled with the end result (although I did get into a bit of trouble when the tiara fell off after two minutes!). Regardless, it was nice to spend some time doing an activity with my darling girl...

My paltry attempt... note the dodgy hair - not quite like the picture promised!

Happy girl with her ballerina!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The New Mary Poppins

Eli burst into my room wearing this school hat my Mum picked up for Lily (a few years in advance but anyway)....

In he ran, shouting 'Mary Poppins! I Mary Poppins!'

Lily shortly joined him wearing a different hat and proclaiming 'And I'm 'Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary'!'

It's been a pretty rough week for me on a number of levels... so it's pretty cool living with two mini-comedians - they really make me laugh! Love these beautiful kids... xx

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Who's that guy?

I am guessing not many people will get that title reference to the much-under-appreciated (perhaps cos it was much less-good!) movie Grease 2... oh well, it gave me a nostalgic smile!


Who is this handsome grown-up short-haired little guy!?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Eli's Second Hair Cut... What a Big Boy!

Well, our shaggy little doggie son was well over-due for a hair cut... poor kid could barely see through his long fringe!! As I have been sick the last few months it just hasn't happened... and this Mama did not trust anyone else to take him, I must admit (I know Daddy would have given him a buzz cut for sure!!). Well, it could wait no longer so I determinedly made a late afternoon appointment and... in a personal record for the last few months... bundled both kids into the car and drove down the road to the hairdressers! Giving myself silent high-fives all the way and praying for well-behaved kids and no vomiting in the hairdressers...

Yes, this scruffy boy needs a hair cut!

Can you see under there, Eli?!

Strolling to the Salon...

Eli burst into the hair salon, bellowing 'No screaming!! No complaining!!' to the rather startled hair dressers. I think they thought he was giving them some directives but I quickly explained he was just reminding himself of the expected behaviour we had discussed in the car!!!! Not exactly how I had put it, but the boy has his own way of interpreting things.

Anyway, hoping for the best, we got him settled into the special kids chair for his 'big boy hair cut'. The first 10 seconds he started crying and saying 'No hair cut! No hair cut!' but then got distracted by his gorgeous reflection in the mirror and his sister dancing around to amuse him (I had enlisted her as my much-needed helper) and he sat so still and so happily the rest of the time - what a champ!!! The expressions he had as all his hair came off was just too cute for words.... can't believe how different and grown up he looks! My little dude - no more curls...

The lovely hair dresser gave both kids lollipops for their efforts, which needless to say were greatly enjoyed. Mission - completed and successful I say!

What is she doing to my golden locks?! And who is this handsome devil?!
AFTER: our little big boy! No more curls but lots of sweet little face!

Can't believe I got a lollipop for that!!
Loving the side swept look!

Score!!! I got a lollipop too!

Mr Cool rocks his sunnies (at night) and his hair in a more scruffy laid-back look...

Sunday, 19 August 2012


The days had been warming up, lovely and sunny with blossoms starting to bud... then all of a sudden we got a crazy grey and cold day - and it snowed in Canberra! Not in our suburb, but around town.

This is the view of the mountain ranges from our patio....

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Singing and Sweetness at the Nursing Home

I am always grateful for any opportunity to bring my kids alongside when helping others. It makes an already rich experience even richer to have my little people there, eyes and hearts opening!

A group from our church was heading to a local nursing home to do some a capella singing to entertain, cheer and bless the residents. Although outings these days for me are very rare as they take so much out of me while I am laid low with hyperemesis during this pregnancy, I was determined for our family to go as we usually would! Yeah. I can be stubborn sometimes too, I didn't want us to miss out on something we would usually be involved in after missing so much already this year. I knew I wouldn't be able to do much singing with the group, but I also knew it would be a blessing for the kids to spend some time with the elderly residents.. and that those residents would also enjoy some sweet kiddie sunshine being spread around the place (whilst also hoping not to shatter the peace with any kiddie-tantrums! Ha).

So away we went and it was well worth the visit. The singing was beautiful and uplifting and afterwards everyone from church spent time chatting with the residents who had been enjoying the music. I went around with the kids and they did a gorgeous job of saying hello to so many residents, and introducing themselves (and Eli's toy cat!) and being so friendly even when the residents weren't always able to talk back to them. They showed such gentleness and sensitivity, yeah I was pretty proud :)

Eli: I'm TWO!!!! Lily FOUR!!!
Eli charms the ladies!

I was so glad we went and so proud of the kids for showing love and kindness to some very special members of our community. Moments like these, when we step out of our world to bless others, is what I want their childhood, and our family-life, to be filled with.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Painting + Picture Taking

Lily takes photos whilst her brother paints...
Disclaimer: She got to dress herself today!!
Photographer on the move....

Pointing out all the colours used in his masterpiece

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Keeping Kids Safe // Everyone's Got a Bottom - Book Review

Lately I have been thinking about a topic preferably no parent should ever have to think about - protecting our children as best we can against sexual abuse.

I know.... ugh.

It makes my heart break and my skin crawl but unfortunately those feelings don't stop it being a reality in this broken world.

I have been doing some research on how best to talk to my kids about these subjects, what is age appropriate, what do they need to know to best keep them safe, and equip them without freaking them out, etc.

The best little online article on this topic that I came across that shares some information of what kids need to know and also at what ages is here. It is an easy and enlightening read, I highly recommend!

I, of course, have always taught my kids the correct words for private parts and also talked to them (well, it's mostly Lily at this age) about how they are private, and we don't touch other people's private parts or let people touch ours. But I wasn't sure how much further I needed to go and how explicit or 'warning' I needed to be - and my heart just cracked in two at the idea of seeing fear, confusion or a loss of innocence in my sweet girl's eyes. Horrendous to even think about. I'm not squeamish about talking about things that need to be talked about, but I hate the idea of robbing any joy or trust out of an innocent child. Ugh. This parenting gig can be hard!

I also felt torn because, much like the Free Range Kids philosophy, I don't want to cotton wool my kids, freak them out over unrealistic dangers or have them panic every time every time a stranger comes near. My kids have thus far never even met a stranger, as they consider every person they come across (whether dishwasher-delivery man or random dog-walker down the street) to be their new best friend who they want to introduce to their pet fish Greg, and do some colouring-in with. I love this! I want kids free to be kids! Happy, friendly, free to explore the world. And let's be honest, about 90% of abuse occurs by someone known to the family (yes.... shudder) so I don't want to overly teach the whole 'stranger danger' thing as it can be more detrimental than anything (hence they have phased this teaching out of schools now, thankfully).

Anyway.... I came across this quality Australian book called Everyone's Got a Bottom by Tess Rowley, put out by Queensland Family Planning and it came highly recommended (books available for kids on this topic are seemingly sparse) so I bought it and after pre-reading, read it to Lily tonight.

I have to say I was very happy with this book. It follows three kids (two brothers and a baby sister) learning about taking care of their bodies (brushing teeth etc) and talking about their body parts (using proper names) and which parts are private. They talk about how they have a family rule (because rules keep us safe) that no one has the right to see or touch those private parts or show us theirs, and if they do - that is rude and we should say no (even if it's someone we know and like), and we can always tell a grown up we trust if this happens. It has a running mantra throughout of 'From our head to our toes, we can say what goes'.

The book was frank, friendly and casual whilst also being specific and careful. It gave some great practical 'tools and rules' to kids and made me see that those basic guidelines are all kids really need at this age, there is no need to get into anything too explicit or scary - phew!

Lily enjoyed the book and I could tell she was intrigued by the subject matter. I tried to ask a few questions to gauge her understanding without giving the reading an air of ***important topic happening here***, if you know what I mean!! (Sure-fire way for kids to shut down!) We talked about who in our family has what body parts, and how God made our bodies so special and different. I asked her what she would do if someone asked to see her privates or showed her theirs and she gave a very emphatic 'No!! Please STOP!' (with hand held up!), I asked what she would do then 'Tell a grown up like Mummy and Daddy!'. Of course I pushed it by asking what she would do if they said she couldn't tell a grown up and she said very sweetly 'I'd ask - please can I tell a grown up?!'. Um!! It's a work in progress, anyway!

So then we had a chat about how no matter what someone else says, she can always tell Mummy and Daddy anything.... no matter what. We don't keep secrets in our family (only surprises which are nice things like parties and presents) and she can always talk to us, especially if someone makes her feel yukky inside or scared, or does something rude. She seemed satisfied with that and I was too - left it there for now, for fear of over doing it!

The book is aimed at ages 3-8 and has an excellent section in the back for adults on other ways to talk to kids, signs of abuse, and so on. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, the cheapest on line price I found was here.

I feel like the book will be a good resource and launching pad for conversation in our family. Just to read every now and then and open up discussion. Most of all, I aim for open, honest and frequent family conversation so that the kids know they can always talk to us about anything. This is obviously just the start of a life-long multi-faceted conversation. Of course we can't totally protect our kids (as much as want to!) but hopefully by giving them some tools about the rights they have over their body, to trust their instincts and to always know they can tell us anything, it will go some way towards equipping them in self-protection. And of course I fervently pray that these are skills they will never need to use.

Sharing is caring - please post below if you have any tips, advice, strategies or good book/internet/video resources!