Tuesday, December 29, 2015

and just like that...

the holidays are over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

One at a time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Expecting and announcing number 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are expecting a baby.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

High five, me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My feet are up.

My heart is full.

High five, me!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First day of school for all of us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Nora - Eighteen months old

My little firecracker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Mama x

Monday, August 10, 2015

On the eve of 3

This time three years ago I was huge and pregnant and so done with waiting, this post makes me laugh every time I read it and it takes me back to everything about this sweet and wonderful and painfully impatient time. I just couldn't wait another minute, I wanted to meet you so very much and now here we are.

Tomorrow you will wake up as a three year old. I am not sure where the time has gone, and yet I feel like I have known you my whole life, maybe in some ways I have?

We celebrated your birthday this weekend and you were so excited to have all your favourite people together to play and consume copious amounts of sugar. It was a Thomas the Tank engine theme, but your presents were mostly 'Planes' characters and Fire truck/station things. Your friends know you so well.

You continue to love to play sports and it feels like you are constantly asking me to go out and play hockey with you on the sport court. I am sure that with football season right around the corner, that will soon turn to asking me to throw the football and even "ooff" you, which is what you think tackling is called.

You mastered starting your peddle bike without help a couple of weeks ago and it fills my heart with joy to see you master something you have been so eager to do for so long. Your face just glows with the biggest smile as you set of peddling all by yourself and swing that little orange bike all around, often having to navigate an excited little sister who likes to run after you. Now you just have to figure out the break and you will be golden :)

You have been wearing underwear for about a month now and have made huge progress. You are very good at getting to the bathroom in time to pee but something about pooping still feels scary or uncomfortable to you and we are having accidents most days. I am praying and hoping that we will see breakthrough very, very soon. You are supposed to start preschool in just a couple of weeks and we need to be better before that!! We are also training you to pull up pants and underwear independently, another skill which will means you will be truly pre school ready. I can just imagine you leaving your bottoms on the bathroom floor and running half naked back to the classroom eager to keep playing with no time to be embarrassed about your nakedness. You have so many ways you seem older than the average three year old, but in ways like that you are still such a little one. You don't understand about modestly or socially acceptable behaviour. I know you will love being at school but I do worry about how you will navigate some things without me. I know it's an important step to give you time to figure some things out and create relationships with other adults who you will love and trust but it's still hard to let go. I think I am much more anxious about you starting than you are!

You are starting to play much more imaginatively these days. You love your little figures and people and I really enjoy listening in to your games as you role play. You have a great imagination!

You still have your loveys and even though they are looking a little worse for wear, you dote on them and treat them like your little babies. They still have to go everywhere we do and provide comfort for you in times when you are feeling anxious. I am sure there will be one in your backpack on your first day of school :)

You are certainly pushing boundaries in new and ever more exhausting ways recently and the tantrums and emotional outbursts are hard to handle sometimes but I can only imagine how crazy it is to be having so many emotions and feelings in your little body without the words or understanding of the world that we as adults do. I hope your dad and I are equipping you to process the world in a way that means this season will be easier to handle for all of us as the months go on. I hope thatt soon, our consistent correction will help you understand that when we say teh word "no in regards to somethig you are doing you will understand that we are in fact talking to you and what you are doing is not aceptable, same with the word, "stop" which seems to illicit you doing what you are already doing, only faster, or the request to "come here" which you seem to interpret as run away as fast as you can. We are working on it, but it feels like toddlerhood has well and truly taken hold of you on some days!

You also have moments of pure sweetness when you fetch a toy or find a pacifier fro Nora when she is sad (especially when you haven't been the cause of her sadness) or when you just make sweet comments, say, "I love you" or thank me for making your dinner and telling me how yummy it is -  without any prompting. Your heart is so wonderful, and in between the tantrums and the sometimes aggressive behaviour, you let us see glimpses of your softer side.

You are starting to show interest in letters and sounding out words too, another new skill you want to master. Sesame street has something to do with that for sure. It's how your Dad learned to read and it seems to be inspiring you too. You can confidently write "L" and "E" and "i" we are working on the V. You are starting to sound out words and ask about what they start with. It's amazing to me to think about you already starting to learn those kinds of things. 

You are currently a huge fan of the Planes movies and can sit and watch a whole movie without much distracting you, but so far these are the only movies you have watched and I'm ok with that, though, I can quote both of those with ease at this point so we might have to mix it up for my sake soon. You are still a fan of Caillou and have become more interested in SuperWhy and a new show about the countries of the world and flying robots, called Superwings. They are all pretty tame and have a good message so I am ok with you watching them, we try not to do too much TV during the day but I am certainly not ashamed to use it to my advantage sometimes, especially as it frees me up to make dinner without having to police you and your sister because by 4pm you seem incapable of leaving her alone and just playing. Not that she is totally innocent, but she's smaller and so usually ends up getting hurt if there is a struggle, which there usually is. You are the best of friends and the worst of enemies all at the same time. I pray your love for each other grows into something really special in the years ahead as you become closer in ability. 

You are still one of the funniest people I know and make us all laugh daily. Your sense of humor is amazing and I truly enjoy you. We laugh a lot together about the silliest of things and I hope we always will.

You are the cutest kid and use that to your advantage as you pleed, "Pleeeeease, just one more (fill in the blank)". It works on most people. The world is your playground and your energy level lets you play from morning until night without a second thought. You still nap on occasion, maybe 2 or 3 times a week, usually when you have fallen asleep on the way home from a playdate or park, but you can;t seem to drop the nap for a long string of days without becoming a omplete disaster but you are working on not napping for sure. I enjoy some time for just the two of us if Nora is sleeping, and you enjoy having all the toys to yourself ;)

Happy 3rd birthday for tomorrow little man. I can't believe you have given me your final 2 year old smooches. I love you so much.

Mama x

Glad you liked your cake

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Disengaged but trying

Doing something for myself today by letting us all have a very slow paced, at home kinda day. I made it to my small group for the first time in forever last night and it truly filled my heart in a way that I haven't experienced in a long time. But catching up lasted until almost midnight and then when I arrived home, Nora was having a very uncommon middle of the night nappy change for an icky poop. She then spent the next 2 hours struggling to get back to sleep so by 2am I was only just drifting off to sleep for the first time. Then I was up at 4 searching the house for a pacifier after Nora woke up, tearfully asking for one and I could not for the life of me find the one she had gone to bed with, and then I was up again at just after 530 when Levi came into our room. He went back to sleep thankfully but I got up with Jeremy just after 6am to get a shower in before he left for work so I didn't have to juggle it with both kiddos awake, all that to say, I am running in fumes today.

I packed the kids in the car, in their jammies to drive thru Starbucks before 8am so I could get a much needed coffee and get them a muffin for breakfast because even making toast felt like a gigantic energy expense that I couldn't face.

Seems Nora's upset tummy is still lingering and shes had a few squirts this morning. None for a while now, but she crawled up onto my lap an hour ago and fell asleep so i am hoping she can catch up on some missed sleep from last night and shake off whatever is going on on her body. I don't know if it's a little bug or the result of too many grapes yesterday, or just something she found somewhere on the floor and decided to eat...she likes to do that. Who knows? She's not acting sick - at least not yet.

The sun is only just starting to burn through the clouds so the more overcast skies certainly provided a fitting backdrop for our cozy, snuggling under a blanket movie watching morning. I am cashing in all those months when Levi didn't watch any TV so I can let him over indulge today :) I got out the crayons and colouring books earlier with both kids and we have read stories too but its been a very lazy parenting day.

I feel as though this new house provided opportunities to get out of some of the ruts I have found myself in but I need to be more proactive in planning ahead to make that happen. I am still very much adjusting to our new space, our new normal and our family life once again just including the four of us. Its a lot. More than I realised and I am not handling it very well. My kids bear the brunt of my lack of energy, mostly in lazy, semi engaged parenting days. After a good nights sleep, and with some pre planned play dates we have wonderful, sweet times and I hope that these will become more of the norm around here.

I desire our days be filled with friends, and creativity. Outside time and adventures; bike riding, hiking and beach time. Slowly our days are including more of these and more often but today is not one of those days.

I was convicted by the painting Levi brought home on Sunday from kids church which had his apple printing all over this verse from Galatians "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control" Ouch. Apparently, my lack of time for myself and lack of prioritizing time with the Lord is very obvious from my recent parenting struggles. I am making changes. I have started reading the 'She reads truth' devotional online every day. Its a step in the right direction.

Levi continues to struggle with his potty training after taking himself for pee and poop for a week he has regressed and we have hit the two weeks pooping in underwear every day mark. He is still doing pretty well with his peeing and will go if I ask him to but he doesn't seem to be as proactive about taking himself. My prayer request at small group was that he would find peace to poop on the potty again. I am navigating how to encourage him but not condone his behavior when its a case of making the choice to wait so long that he has accidents. I know he has gone trough lots of change recently so I am trying to have grace. Sometimes I do that better than others.

I love my babies but I am also realising that I am such a better mummy when I have made time for Jesus and time for myself. I need my girlfriends and I certainly need my God to make it through the days with a joyful and thankful heart.

I am watching Levi watch the TV still in his pajamas and resolving to have some intentional time with him today - even if it's not something elaborate.

Come, Lord Jesus. Please fill me with your Spirit today. Give me your wisdom and strength to parent these precious babies to the best of my ability and to draw from you when my well is dry. I cannot do this alone and I am so very thankful I don't have to. Let the fruits of your Spirit be the markers of my parenting and may my children know how loved and cherished they are. Let me be your hands and feet as I parent.
Please Lord.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Mum Hack and poop on a log

I think that term is so funny, but I love that I have figured out a few little routines or "hacks" that make our lives run more smoothly. Today for example, this peaceful blogwriting in the middle of the day is a direct result of my personal favourite mum hack.

My kids play hard and they are not great eaters during playdates there is too much going on and too many distractions but they don;'t take good naps if they are hungry. I found that if we leave play dates around lunchtime, and strap the kids in their car seats, they realise how hungry they are and scarf down the lunch I packed! I always change their diapers in the car right before we leave (or make Levi pee now we are potty training, but I have been putting a diaper on him when I think he might fall asleep in the car because I don't think he's ready to be dry during sleep) This way they are clean and dry and full and by the way did I mention, we aren't moving yet? That's right, we have a picnic in the car, parked outside our friends houses or in the parking lot of the beach as we did this morning!

My friends who have caught me and invited me back inside only for me to politely refuse think I am a little crazy, but I swear it is great for us. Levi and Nora are both good transferers for middle of the day naps especially when they have been playing hard in the morning so getting them to sleep in the car eliminates the struggle at home! Levi is dropping his nap, but really gets tired [read - over emotional and totally a basket case] after a few days of no naps so I use this hack especially on the days I want him to sleep.

After the food is gone, I take off shoes, give loveys to Levi and pacifier to Nora, remove other toys or distractions and start the car. They are usually asleep in the first few minutes. Today we hadn't even driven out of the parking lot and they were both sparko. It was great.

So I am home, both kids are in their beds and I am sitting. Maybe sneaking a cheeky ice cream treat because I don't have to share or give them one...its blissful.

For many reasons this is not a hack that would work for everyone but for us its been a great find and I love having it in my pocket. After a long playdate it can be a reward for me to save the energy I would have expended on nap time for something more fun in the afternoon.

I feel like this new house and being around our old friends and community is making me realise how far I have come in my parenting. I am a much braver mum than when we moved out of our other home. Taking both kids to eat at  restaurants by myself, and even taking them to the beach or other places which are not "predictable" or fenced in. I am so very grateful for such amazing friends who also give my courage to explore the world with my kids and keep me company while I do it. Not to mention being there to love on my kiddos and laugh or console with me when something really good/bad/ridiculous happens. A prime example was this morning when my sweet potty training son runs to me along the beach with his meat and veg flying everywhere, no underwear and no shorts in sight. He was heading from the log raft/fort that he and his two buddies have been playing on on the beach, to report that he had gone poop. His story was corroborated and expanded on by his two slightly older buddies and when I approached the scene I see an enormous turd sitting on a log. I dealt with it and cleaned stuff up as best I could, and honestly I couldn't help being kind of impressed that a) he had not gone in his underwear and b) that he had had enough balance to poop on the log. Still, after some good mummy laughing, Levi and I had a long conversation about where it is appropriate to go to the bathroom!

Kids keep it interesting!

Hope your day is as sunny as our has been so far!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Next Chapter begins

It feels like a million years since I posted on here. In reality it's not been that long time-wise but lots of things have changed so it feels like a lot to catch up on.

We finally moved into our house on Wednesday, June 24th. Over a month after we closed! Our painters worked really hard to get things finished but were not quite done when we got back so instead to trying to have the kids adjust to the new house with doors off hinges and light plates off, not to mentions wet paint, we decided to give them the extra time they needed. We did move a bunch of our big furniture into the garage and out of the POD storage, and we had our small group and some other friends and family help us empty the storage unit we had the weekend before we moved which was such a help.

We have been in for almost 2 weeks, there are still boxes everywhere, and nothing on the walls. My lovely kitchen is full of things to find places for and counters covered in stuff! Our little ones make unpacking complicated.

Jeremy took them to the zoo for the morning last weekend so I could finally organise their rooms and that felt like a huge deal, although once everything was off the floor, they looked ever so bare! I need to get some pictures and things up on their walls.

The past few evenings, once kids have gone to sleep (which in this crazy hot weather is miserable for all of us) I have tackled the playroom. I understand that this will be a daily event to get it in order but now most things are organised into boxes and have a place, even if its temporary - we are planning to get some other furniture to store things in there but this works for now. Again however, the bare walls are so hard for me to handle. I have an idea of a few things I want to get for the walls but it will take money and time to get it to where I want it.

The rest of the house continues to be a work in progress. It will be for a while. I have to try and find peace with that. That too, is a work in progress :)

If that wasn't enough, we started potty training Levi last week. I put pull-ups or a diaper on if we left the house for a few days, especially for longer car rides, but he was doing so well at home in underwear without accidents, I have even ventured out with him diaper less! He even took himself to poop (for the first time!) while I was putting Nora down for a nap! I am so proud of him and impressed with how well he seems to have taken to it. He will be starting pre school next school year and so now he has the peeing and pooping in the right place, we have to start working on him, pulling up underwear and pants before leaving the bathroom and begin lessons in wiping his bum. 

And then there is the sleeping - kids in their own rooms. Its had good nights and bad ones, but the hot weather has really played into the worst of them. The two coolest nights they have both slept in their rooms until the very early morning when they come into our bed and have fallen back asleep. We haven't put up the dark bedroom curtains yet, so I am hopeful when we get that project done it might help. They are both doing better than I expected.
We need to get into the habit of settling them back in their own space but boy that's tough in the middle of the night. When they will fall right asleep next to us in the bed.

We made it to our church for the past two weeks, which is a huge deal. Before that we hadn't been since Easter and it was so great to be back! Levi has had a blast in his class and Nora did really well (for her anyway) in the nursery. I stayed with her the first week but she barely looked for me, so Jeremy stayed this week but then tried to leave which did not go over well. But she was really tired, having been disturbed through the night from all the crazy fireworks which lit up our house all night long, and there were less kids to be a distraction so. I think we might try one more week of staying with her before we try to leave her again. I am hopeful and prayerful that her separation anxiety will be getting less and less.

We are finally here in our new space, so thankful that God brought us here and excitement that we have about the future. We are finding our rhythm slowly and surely, in between the unpacking. The past eleven months have taken it's tole on us as a couple and as a family and we have some kinks to work out but I am confident we will in time. This is the beginning of the next chapter in our story and we are ready!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Still moving

We closed on our house, then we went to England for three weeks and after being home for a week we finally moved most of our things into the new house. We are not moved out of Jeremy's parents yet because our painters are finishing up and there are doors off hinges and lights plates off everywhere as well as lots of little touch up painting to do which we don't want to get in the way of.

We had our small group helping us unload the storage unit on Saturday morning which was such a blessing. The group divided and half were with the kids at our house and the others were doing the muscle work of loading up.

Everything fit in one truck and was able to be unloaded into the house and the garage for unpacking at our leisure :)

I worked hard to get most of the kitchen unpacked but I anticipate some cupboards will be rearranged as we start to use the space. It is hard to know where things will be easiest to access and most useful. I am sure it wont take long.
Our pantry shelves were waiting to be put back up after the paint job and once they are in place I can really unpack and get settled. For now, our enormous kitchen island has become the catch all for everything without a home yet. It's quite a sight.

We hope to move our final furniture over tomorrow and spend our first night, but we are not holding our breath and excited that our first night will be after the painters are totally done.

We feel as though this process has taken forever, what's a few more days? We are excited for the final push and beginning to really get settled. I am sure that the kids will take some time to get used to life without Grandma and Grandpa and the new space, especially having their own rooms but I love that the days are bright and sunny and we can take each day as it comes. Slow and steady.

I'm ready to finally exhale.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Keeping things International

We closed on our new house a week ago. Since then the days have been a whirlwind of having the duct work cleaned, having a washer and dryer delivered and installed, picking paint colors, cleaning carpets and packing. Yes, packing. Because in the midst of everything, we had planned and booked a trip to visit family in England. We don't make things easy on ourselves sometimes, but we were not going to cancel our trip and after living with Jeremy's parents for so long, waiting another week or two didn't seem like a big deal. We will move all of our things in the weekend after we get home.

But for now we are home with my parents and can report we successfully survived the flight over here. (There were lots of empty seats, which worked out in our favor. Levi took up most of the three-person row we were in, and Nora filled a close by two-person row so they were snuggled under blankets and slept most of the time, thankfully it was a night flight. On the way home it might be a little more work because its during the day and they will not need to sleep, but I hope that we can keep them occupied enough)

Anyway, thanks to the M25 traffic, both kids got a good nap in as we drove home and so were rested by UK dinner time just as J and I were ready for bed! We gave them a bath and tried to settle them but they both just napped because that's what time it was in their bodies and then woke up ready to go. They would not be convinced and after they communicated that they were hungry and ready for "dinner"(again) I found myself making beans on toast for everyone, and then giving out bedtime milk (again). We ended up just staying up and playing until 3am when we decided it was time to try again and after some persuasion ,we all slept in one big bed until 10.30am.

So even though jet-lag is alive and well and I have no idea how things will turn out as the night progresses, at least this time I will have some Eurovision song contest fun to watch while I pretend to have energy enough to play with the kids into the early hours if they do decide to party.

We headed out to a great park to see the ducks and play on the playground this afternoon so hopefully that will help them to sleep, who knows. We will be riding the wave of the jetlag for a while I am sure but I hope it eases so we can enjoy our time here.

Ok, I am fading fast. Off to search out some real Cadbury's chocolate and call it a night before anyone wakes up :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chrissie and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

It's just after 8pm, both kids have been sleeping for a while and Jeremy is working late so I am really appreciating the peace at the house right now.

It's been a day.

I contemplated calling Jeremy today and telling him I was done being home with the kids and was going to pick up some job applications. I was feeling beaten down by the constant defiance of my 2.5 year old and the cranky, tantrum throwing of my non-verbal, frustrated one year old. Boy, oh boy it was a doozy. Even before 8am things were not going well, so I knew it would be a long day.

I am still trying to find my rhythm with having two babies, its been over a year and the constant struggle of meeting the sometimes very different but equally pressing needs of two very precious babies is still anxiety inducing. I am exhausted with the juggling act, even more so on days when it feels like I dropped every ball.

There are moments when I look at my babies and my heart just bursts with gratitude (usually when they are sleeping) but most of the waking moments are too busy for many thoughts at all beyond, "Which one of them is that smell coming from this time?" I allow myself to get absorbed too frequently, and for too long on Facebook, or Instagram or anything that takes me away from the heaviness of feeling like I am not enough. And I eat a lot of chocolate. Neither are good or productive ways to change my situation but in the moment that offer some balm.

I feel like I am failing. I want my kids to feel loved, feel known, feel protected, and sometimes I just get so frustrated that I can't do it all. In the middle of all the frustration I try to grab a moment and call out to God, "Help me!" It is usually out of those moments where I am completely out of my own resources that the most beautiful parenting moments come. Thank you, Lord!

This afternoon, after the baby melted down and fought her nap for about 45 minutes before FINALLY going to sleep, and after the non-napping toddler had his meltdown and then snuggled on the couch with Grandma and Thomas the train for a while, he and i went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Yesterdays rain had left lots of water in buckets over in Levi's digging spot and soon the whole place became a mud pit. He stripped down and splashed and jumped to his hearts delight. After her nap, baby girl came and joined in the mud fun. It was so much fun (until I had to hose them off so that they could come inside and we could really shower them off and then bathe them!) I delighted in the simplicity of the moment. The squeals of laughter, the warm sun, being fully present; together.

After the mud we came inside. Nora spent the rest of the time before dinner sporting her "ba pa" (backpack), her new sun hat and one shoe. She was insistent that she only wanted one shoe. I loved knowing her in those ways, seeing her crazy, quirky opinions being very loudly and clearly stated despite her lack of words. Levi donned a construction helmet as a baseball helmet and became Kyle Seager from the Seattle Mariners hitting home runs and running round the house cheering himself on. He is such a goof ball at times and again, I felt as though I truly saw him tonight.

We are a simple meal and then I put the babies to bed. Read stories, snuggled them and watched them fall sweetly asleep. (Early too, so all that playing out in the mud was a win-win!)

It's not all moonlight and roses. Far from it. And with all the traveling and changes as we move into a new house it will take a while to get into routine and find our new normal but I am going to be trying hard to remember to take time and enjoy the simple moments, knowing they will be passing by so fast.

Even when days are hard, there will be a smile, or a laugh that can turn a tough day into a slightly better one.

Hang in there, mamas. We got this. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

So much to say, so little time...

I have opened Blogger about a dozen times in the past couple of weeks with the intention of sharing a little bit of what's happening in our lives. It's been a great time of change and learning for our family in so many ways but because of all the changing and learning I can't seem to get started with getting anything down on "paper" and then the five minute window I had is gone and I am no closer to finishing a blog :)

The biggest news is that we made an offer on a house and it was ACCEPTED. It only took 9 months :) It is slightly outside the area that we had initially looked in but the competition and the sellers market had meant we had lost out on other houses so we broadened our search area and this house is just across the border from where we had been looking! Its walking distance to a few sets of good friends and even though the schools are not rated quite as highly, we feel confident that this is the place God has for our family.

While we are very excited that this has happened, a part of me is so scared to be alone with the kiddos during the day again. We have fallen into a great routine here with Jeremy's parents, they are retired and around in the day time so the kids have lots of attention. This also means I can put one down for nap while someone else settles the other one, or even just keeps the other one busy. I need to pray hard about how to restructure our days to get things done when I am the only pair of eyes and hands again, or Levi will start watching a lot more TV:)

I am eager to make our home.

It's going to be like Christmas to unpack our storage unit and rediscover all the things we have been without. I am also anticipating we will be getting rid of a lot of things we have lived without and do not want to welcome back into our lives.

I want to sign off before one of the babies wakes up from nap, so this actually gets posted.

In short, Yay for a faithful God who brought us through and brought us to this wonderful house, and for all the friends and family who have loved and prayed for us along the way. We look forward to a wonderful summer in our new place as we entertain you :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Looking the part, doing the job.

Somedays I worry I am missing the sweetness of this season with my kiddos because, well, because life with a 2.5 year old and a 13 month old is insanity. These are my precious babes, teeny little sponges in the form of people that I am with 24/7 and life is happening even when I am too sleep deprived to take it all in.

Nora has somehow picked up her animal sounds, and "gaaaahs" for a lion, "aaaaaaah's" for a sheep, "oooooh's" for a cow, "ooof-ooof's" for a dog and "eeoow's" for a kitty cat, not to mention the cutest little fish kisses ever for anything that is in water. I love it, I'm just not entirely sure how it happened.

And Levi greeted Jeremy with, "Hey Bud!" The other night when he came in to tell him goodnight. Seriously, kid?!

Today at almost 2pm, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Geesh. Apparently it was the first time today because I have obvious bed head and lack of make up which goes to enhance the full set of baggage under my eyes. Ordinarily this wouldn't been something to worry about except for the fact that this morning I went out to the library and the grocery store. I am also wearing sweatpants which have their own special snot? drool? patterns around knee height.

I am a stay at home mummy to two little ones and today I really looked the part!

In the lead up to Easter as we focus on the resurrection of Jesus, I am so very thankful for a Saviour who lives and who is with me; walking through the hard days and the good days, knowing me fully and loving me anyway. Challenging me to be all I was created to be and to walk bravely into that calling.

Day to day I am reminded to surrender my visions and plans to His greater ones, and find freedom in the truth that I am not asked to do it all. This season of life is crazy, but it's crazy beautiful too. When the days pass in a blur of sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums and diaper changes I am thankful to be encouraged by knowing I am right where I am supposed to be, and instead of wishing this time away, I am embrace that few minutes of making sure my baby is clean and dry,peek-a-booing toes back into her jeans and kissing her cute little nose as she stands, "all done". I can take a breath in the midst of a not-listening, not-choosing-obedience moment with my son and choose kindness, patience and understanding over anger (most of the time, I mean, I'm no saint).

I LOVE my job.

I am so grateful for this season and for the opportunity to be with my littles. Even on the tough days - maybe not in the midst of them, but still...

Please Lord, help me to stay present and connected to you so that I know what you are asking of me each day, and please give me a heart of joy as I walk the path you set before me.

[We went to the Skagit Valley tulip festival this weekend. It was a fun family adventure and a break from house hunting - this was the closest thing I got to a picture of both kids...both so busy, busy!!]

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Home is where my loves are...

We put in an offer. We didn't get the house.

The last week, especially the past 24 hours, have been stressful and anxiety-filled and hopeful and in the end just disappointing and frustrating. When I heard our (above list price offer) was not accepted and that someone had offered even more money with even more appealing pieces to their offer it's hard not to take it very personally, but at the same time my reaction told me a lot about this house. I am so sad to have to start the looking process up again, I am exhausted by it. And yet, I am not really mourning this particular house, in fact I am suddenly feeling relief about certain things which I had talked myself into being ok with to make the offer. [Enjoy the pink granite kitchen counters and the significant taxes for those views, new owners] I have nothing but peace about us not getting this house and for that I am thankful, and for the prayers and support of so many of our friends and family in the process, I am even more thankful.

As I ate dinner with the kids tonight, Nora managing to get quinoa and yogurt everywhere as she excitedly fed herself, and Levi jabbering away a mile a minute and telling me about his day - every minute of which I had spent with him of course, so it was not new information, I had an overwhelming sense of contentment. In the moments of life happening, I felt at peace.

Later, as the kids were taking their bath and squealing with delight as they popped the bubbles I was blowing or covering themselves in soap suds I couldn't help but smile. This is our life and our home is whereever it happens.

When Jeremy walks through the door after work to whoops and cheers, even some from me if it's been a particularly long afternoon, I am home too.

Yes, we are tired of some of the details of this living arrangement and ready for our own space, but we are also already home.

This time last week we didn't even know that this particular house existed. Who knows what tomorrow might bring? The market is picking up, along with the competition, so who knows how many houses we will have to offer on before we get one, but I trust that until then we can find our home in the midst of life together if we just open our eyes.

Our forever house is out there somewhere, and we might have to search for a while longer to find it and then fight tooth and nail to actually get it but one day, some day, we will be nomads no longer.

I might take the next 24 hours to feel a bit sorry for myself; take it easy, order a pizza at 3am to the address of the house we didn't get to thank the owners who didn't accept our offer (just kidding) and consume more chocolate than is healthy for me but after that I will put my game face back on and get back on the househunting train.

Choo choo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring already!

Spring arrived already. And up until it sprang we had had some beautiful weather, but since then the rains have returned.

What a gloomy day, I have chili bubbling in the crock pot because this morning it just felt right! We made it out of the house to the song and story time at the local library which was a nice reason to get out of the house but we still got soaked getting to and from the car! The kids love the children's librarian and she does such a good job! (This activity is one of our favourite new discoveries of living here in Newcastle)

Levi has been on a mission to drive us crazy the past couple of days, just being so disobedient, defiant and seeming not to care about any discipline we try to offer. He is in a season of not really needing to nap every day, and when he does nap, he ends up going to bed later, sometimes not falling asleep until close to 9pm! But he still gets up at 6 or 6.30am and then is just so difficult. If he doesn't nap, he's crashed before 7pm but afternoons are miserable. It means that day to day I'm not sure if naps will happen and his little body is struggling with the adjustment. I just wish (again) that we were in a space where we could figure out a good and consistent quiet time routine for him so he had some down time even when he wasn't napping but the set up means he would be disturbing Nora and that doesn't seem fair, and also means he is starting to have his hour of medically okay-ed screen time most days because it keeps him still and quiet :)

Nora is sleeping much better on the whole. She is 90% weaned now, praise God for the simplicity of that process. She still nurses once usually around 9 or 10 pm but other than that she's taking milk in bottles. (Can we please talk about the fact it might be less expensive for our family to buy a cow than keep our kids supplied with organic milk, we are now getting through close to 4 gallons a week!) She started only take a few ounces at a time which had me worried and shoveling yogurt and cheese into her at every opportunity to keep her dairy up, but in the past couple of days shes taking close to 8oz at a time for each of her 4 feeds! She is also eating like champ so I think she is realising that there is no middle of the night snacking any more! It has and will mean a few more rough nights for us as a family as she shows her discontentment with just being offered a pacifier at night but she's getting used to the idea and complaining less. Of course the day after we started weaning she came down with a cold and now I think shes cutting some more teeth so poor kid has been through the ringer but she's still managing smiles.

I am sure Nora's weaning and night time unsettled-ness is part of the reason Levi has been overtired as he gets disturbed by her when she is loud and awake. And the sleep disruption is certainly not helping Jeremy and I be the nicest to each other either :)

Not that we have anything big on our plates or anything like trying to buy a house, oh, wait...yes, we do.
On that front we finally found a house we love. Its fantastic. Checks most of our boxes and would be great, but for that reason it's a very popular listing and there are already a bunch of pre-inspections happening so we know we are only one of many people wanting to make this place home. They are reviewing all the offers at the same time on Wednesday afternoon and in a market of cash buyers, developers and houses going for $150,000 above asking price we are not holding our breath. We are praying and trusting that God has a place for us, but facing the reality that it is not likely to be this place, even though we would love, love, love it if our offer was chosen.

Life goes on, busy and crazy in a very normal way. Happy Spring to one and all! I am certainly eager to see the ways in which this spring holds new life for me and our family.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let the weaning commence!

I was very fortunate to have been able to breastfeed both my babies. I didn't have an easy time of it either time for different reasons but I am glad I persevered. When Levi was ten months old I got pregnant with Nora and the medication I had to start taking meant I had to stop nursing cold turkey. Levi was a dream about this sudden change of life, I began giving him four, 8oz bottles a day and he would drink the whole lot down every time without a second look. [Side note : He also started sleeping through the night at this point too, so I saw his night time wakings were hunger related] I think my supply must have dropped more than I realised and he was hungry and eager to eat those yummy calories :)

When Nora turned ten months, I made sure I was 100% NOT pregnant and again at eleven and twelve months (and for the foreseeable future) She is far more attached to nursing than Levi ever was. She isn't all business about it like he was but happy to take her time, latch on and off and generally just enjoys having it there when it takes her fancy.

I haven't put her on a feeding schedule, but still just feed on demand as she asks for it or as I need to use it to settle her or calm her down. You see what I said there, I use it for more than just "feeding" and there in lies the problem now she is a year old and I want my body back!

I am ready to be done nursing. I am ready to feel a sense of freedom and that I can be away from her without causing her distress. However, my sweet opinionated little lady doesn't always appreciate being offered a bottle and she certainly doesn't have the capacity to drink as much as Levi did in one go - at least, I don't think she does?!

I decided to try and start feeding at set times a day and then pick a feed to replace with a bottle of milk (thankfully she likes cow's milk). Maybe do that for a few days/ a week and then pick another feed to phase out. Ending hopefully with her drinking at least 16oz of milk a day (plus water). Slow and steady wins the race and all that. However, I have a girls weekend away booked for April and I will be going so we do  have a deadline :)

I was so nervous but day one - which is today, has gone great. I gave her a bottle for her second feed, after she woke up from her morning nap and she took the 4 oz I prepared (it was an amount her doc recommended starting with) and I think if there had been 6 she might have finished that too so tomorrow I will increase it. Then she ate a snack bar, lunch a little later and then nursed before going down for her second nap. I feel peace that we might actually be able to do this.

Night time will actually be the toughest, because she is nursing for comfort and I am nursing to keep her quiet so she doesn't wake up Levi while we are all in the same room. I am praying we can find something that works. Maybe as I increase her bottles/milk and decrease nursing she will start sleeping better too? I can but hope and pray.

I just feel a pang of sadness that this nursing season is ending. Even though its my idea and my desire. I am not sure what the future holds for our family in terms of adding another baby at any time (not any time soon, but any time ever) This might be it. This might be some of the final times I am connecting with my daughter in this way. In the craziness of life with two little ones, I have enjoyed those times of one on one time with just my baby. I think we will have to start snuggling and reading books more often to replace that time.

So here we are, day one half under my belt. It wasn't terrible but my girl knows how to mix it up. I am sure tomorrow will be a whole different experience so I hope she is still happy to take the bottle.

I am also hoping that gradually reducing her feeds will help me not t get too uncomfortable :)

Any tips (for any aspects of this process) from mamas who have been there and done that much appreciated.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

He is for me

I can hear Levi and Jeremy outside kicking a ball, and Nora is sleeping in her crib. I have spent every spare minute this weekend doing laundry, dishes or something else on a long to do list, so I am taking this minute of quiet to write.

Levi hit 2.5 and he's really good at it. Most of the time he is a doll, charming us with his cute narrative of life and questions about the way the world works but he has his moments when his toddler emotions just emote all over the place; he yells "no", cries huge tears, runs away when called, pushes his sister down and runs away to avoid consequences. It's not unique behaviour by any means but its challenging and it's keeping Jeremy and I on our parenting toes.

We are still camped out at Jeremy's parents and the close quarters are certainly losing their charm. We are visiting lots of houses as they come on the market but we seem to get our hopes dashed every time. I am not sure how the realtors manage to make the houses seem so perfect in pictures - I guess that's the point but we have seen some real doozies recently, really bad, like 2 inches of standing water across the backyard/wetlands, bad.

I have been feeling the burden of sustaining relationships with friends and keeping Levi seeing his friends while we are here. The driving is exhausting to me but I feel stuck. As I was driving the other day a song came on the radio that has the line "Jesus he loves you, He is for you" All of a sudden tears are streaming down my face. A relief washed over me; God knows where I am. This situation is not a punishment or something I have to survive. God is with me and he is for me. He loves me.

Some days that's all I need to remember.

I am doing the best I can and he is on my side, everything is going to be GOOD. More than that, everything IS good.

Here I am. I have a loving husband, a beautiful son, and darling daughter and a roof over our heads, not to mention the means to find our own home. We are so fortunate and so blessed.

Here is the music video to the song on the radio. If you havent heard it I hope you can feel encouraged.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dear Nora - Happy First birthday, love bug!!

I cannot believe I am sitting down to write your first birthday letter. The fire is roaring in the wood stove next to me and you are sleeping soundly (for now) in the pack and play. We are still staying with your Grandma and Grandpa Blocher while we look for a house. You have officially lived here for half your life. This is not the vision we had for your first year as we all sleep in one room and live on top of each other but you enjoy your Grandparents so much it's not something you see as a struggle in anyway at all. I know you will miss them terribly when we do move into our own place and begin a new normal.

You continue to bring so much laughter into our family, sweet girl. You are such a ham and you know it. You have such a sense of humor and its so much fun to witness as you interact with us.

You have decided that you love to do action songs this month and you sit on my lap for the whole of the story and song time at the library - you never sit still so it's worthy of a mention. You watch all the kids and jabber away. You open and shut your hand for "open, shut them" and wave your arm back and forth trying to do wheels on the bus. First thing in the morning you often sit up and open just one hand, for "Twinkle, twinkle little star" which is a favourite, (you have even mastered making the diamond shape with your pointer fingers and thumb!) even though at 6am its tough for me to sound too enthusiastic, but you don't seem to judge quality, thankfully :) Just tonight when I was rocking you to sleep, I was humming the elevator song and realised that in your dream state you were lifting your arms up and down in the chorus! You love music and I love watching you love it.

Your inner bookworm continues to grow, and you have some faves. You love the ones with animals in the best, and point out dogs and bunnies on every page they are featured and then make your cute noises. You hardly ever finish one book before you are pulling out the next but you just love to look at the pictures.

You still don't say a ton of words, not that that hinders you getting your point across ever, but still, you say, "mama" and newly "dada" and "awe duh" (all done) You grunt a lot and when you are desperate to say something you bounce up and down waving your arms in the air at the same time! Even without much official language to speak of, you make your wants known with ease. You use a few signs to communicate too but I think you feel that grunts work just as effectively.

Your walking is really starting to take off, you gain confidence every day and slowly but surely are becoming a real little toddler. I love it, but I will miss your wiggle when you crawl, its so cute!

You are a big fan of accessories and are always bringing me your shoes or hats to put on and you wear them with pride.

You still love to hold two of the same things in your hands, and because your brother likes to step out of his socks all the time, you have a constant source for your obsession. This would be fine except for the fact you keep depositing them in strange places all over the house - thankfully you leave them together so we often find a complete pair but still, your brother will have none left one of these days!!

You still love to eat, except when your teeth are bugging you, but you can be hot and cold about the foods you like. One day you eat your weight in carrots and the next day you are not interested. You still love to nurse, and only take 4oz in a bottle at night before bed.  We will be heading down the weaning road soon and I know we will both miss it very much, but honestly I'm hoping it will help you sleep longer at night and settle easier at nap time. You are getting better with your sleep but it could still improve :) You nap 1.5hrs in the morning and about the same  in the afternoon but our living situation means you're often woken up in the afternoon so I am curious if having your own space will help you to sleep for longer.

You love to rock on the rocking horse and the rocking chairs and have just figured out climbing on the little rocking chair and sitting down all by yourself!

When Daddy gets home from work at night, you and Levi really enjoy jumping on him and bouncing on the bed too. You are so excited to be big enough to join in with all the fun now :)

We love you so, so much and enjoy your sweet spirit and hilarious sense of humor, you are ever the jokester.

Thank you for being our sweet love bug, Happy Birthday!

Mama xx

Here are a couple of pictures from your party (2/14/15)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Another new season...

The freezing days have made way for more mild wet and windy ones, the crocuses are budding in the front garden and the days are starting to seem longer. Winter is preparing to leave us and soon spring will come.

[Side note: I got a book out of the library about Spring to read with Levi because he had started to notice the flowers budding and was asking some cute 2.5 year old questions about the changes. So mid-conversation Jeremy came into the room and I promted Levi by saying, tell Daddy which season is going to come after winter, to which he exclaimed with great joy, "Baseball season, woo hoo!!" This kid, I tell ya, has a one track mind! Technically he's not wrong, and I guess I already knew that bats and balls would be more exciting to him that flowers blooming but still.]

Anyway, our house hunt is starting to pick up, albeit very slooowly. We even went to view a house this weekend which we haven't gone since before Christmas so that in itself was exciting. It was a house with a very similar floor plan to the one we just sold, only it was bigger and had a great yard. All things we said we wanted and the familiar aspect of it was certainly a draw. However, it was priced way over what it will sell for. We think someone tried to flip it. They had bought it last year and now its back on the market at a significant price hike. Only they must not have done this before because they paid too much in the first place and then did renovations which did nothing to improve the value. For example they did new kitchen appliances which looked lovely but didn't change out the plastic counter and dirty, small sink? Then they put in laminate flooring which our realtor told us he found offensive in the price point they were selling in. (He is a hoot!) So all in all, I don't think they would ever accept the offer we would be willing to put in so it's a dead end unless something dramatic happens but it's a shame because the house had great bones, good neighborhood and great yard.

I'm getting increasingly agitated with the process and trying to keep focussed on embracing the present and not just wishing for the future.

I have been finding more time to sit quietly and read my Bible this year so far and even though it's a tough season I am finding rest in those times. I am able to hear God speaking to me through the scriptures and its a true encouragement.

I sense I will miss these days when we are in our own house again. I know I will miss the extra hands and eyes with the kids all day; the ease at which I can run an errand alone if I need to. And I will certainly miss only making dinner every other day!

Praying, praying, praying that our house comes on the market very soon and that we just know its the one for us. I'm ready. I have Pinterest boards coming out the wazoo with idea for our new spaces and I try to focus on that when I get down about everything moving slowly. Nothing like finding cute ideas for your baby girls bedroom to cheer my heart, especially since never got to make a nursery because we were planning a move! We can do nothing but wait, and be faithful to seek God as we do. We cannot make a house appear so we have to just have trust that we are in God's story right where we are and act accordingly.

Levi has been eager to get outside at every opportunity since the weather is warming up slightly and he has been making great use of Grandma and Grandpa's covered deck. In moments like that I remember the limitations of our old house and way we made the decision to move in the first place. I truly trust that our home is going to be revealed soon and I cannot wait! I am already imagining the kids playing outside this summer and having a blast, while I sip on iced tea and read a book, this is a fantasy after all.

I hope we will be spending Easter in our new house, and boy will we be feasting if we are but until than I'm reminding myself, one day at a time, keep my eyes on Jesus. Be here. Be present. Don't miss what he has for me, and for our whole family.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's cooking Mum hacks

When Levi started eating real food at almost 5 months old, I was almost giddy with excitement. I had a couple of baby cook books that I had been itching to try out and I spent ages at the store picking out produce and hours in the kitchen whipping up batches of various concoctions, freezing them in ice cube trays and then storing it all away in labelled zip lock bags. Each night I would take food out of the freezer for the next day, storing it in breakfast, lunch and dinner bowls and giving it time to defrost properly before I warmed it to perfect baby temperature the next day.

Levi loved purees and gladly ate whatever I fed him with little exception. By the time he was into finger foods, I had moved onto the later chapters of my cook books and was once again chomping at the bit to try out new recipes and new mixtures of flavours. And again, he devoured what he was given and I felt like a good Mum for giving him such a healthy start in life.

I love, love, love to cook and this part of motherhood was something I had been looking forward to for ages. I loved preparing meals for my family, baby and all. Levi's schedule meant that I would prepare his evening meal and feed him separately, at around 5pm so he was ready for bath and bed when Daddy got home. Sometimes he ate what we were having and sometimes I prepared something just for him. It wasn't until right before Nora was born that he started to eat meals with us and go to bed later so it gave me a year of being his personal chef, a role I just thrived in.

And then we welcomed Nora into our lives. Bless her feisty little heart. We never tried to get her fed and to bed as early as we had done with Levi because it just didn't seem to fit with the schedule of our family. Her sleeping was never as consistent and neither were her meal times. She is a typical second child in that respect. Food-wise I had high hopes and aspirations that she would have the same healthy, semi-gormet baby food experience that her brother had experienced...ha ha ha (That's me now, laughing at me then)

All of a sudden she was five months old and I realised that she was very interested in what we were eating. I needed to get it together. I will also add we were in the middle of a significant home remodel project with a goal to get the house on the market asap once it was finished so it wasn't exactly the most convenient timing (not her fault in any way, just life, but worthy of a mention).

I got a couple of sweet potatoes, pears, some carrots, squash and parsnips and made a batch of purees. Froze and stored them just like Levi and felt very accomplished. I didn't have the same sense of delight as I had done preparing his food but still it was done and checked off the list. Only, Nora didn't take to them with the same gusto as her brother. If only I could remember to get them out to defrost them in time she would eat a few bites but it felt like a lot of effort for this lukewarm reception! Still, she was into eating. Her fine motor skills surpassed Levi and she was very quickly not interested in being spoon fed but instead wanted to pick up food and feed herself. I am not anti baby-led weaning on principle but honestly it requires a level of supervision that I wasn't always in a place to provide while chasing a toddler too. Not to mention she didn't get her first tooth until almost 9 months old so that limited our options too. She had lots of store bought (organic) puffs [Yes, I mention they are organic just to lessen my Mum guilt, bear with me] She had small bites of toast in the morning, scrambled egg when Levi had that, maybe some banana? But seriously, her people food menu for the first few months was limited to say the least and at best inconsistent.

By this time we had sold our house and were here, living with my in-laws. No one was sleeping well and life just had extra stress which put making my own baby food much lower on the list. Every meal time I would feel guilty and every time when she would nurse desperately after a meal time I felt terrible. The store bought snacks and bars became a staple and even though the emergence of her two teeth made slices of pear or cucumber a non life threatening addition to her menu I still felt she needed more.

Then it happened, one day when I was in the baby aisle at Safeway getting some bars and I saw the pouches of purees. I picked up a couple of veggie blends and promised myself I would only use them in an emergency - which meant of course they were eaten over the next two days and I returned for more. Apparently, it wasn't the puree itself she was anti, just her lack of independence in eating it. If she could hold and suck the pouch she gladly did. For a month or so she ate one almost every day and almost every day I would find myself wishing she wasn't and justifying it but never really feeling ok about the decision, more just feeling like it was the only option to feed my baby.

Then one day, I bought a pouch that was something like, 'Kale, spinach and quinoa' and when I got home I realised I had all those ingredients at home. That was it. I needed to try and make her food again. I had reusable pouches that I had bought for Levi but he'd never really taken to and for some reason had them with us and hadn't stored them away in the move so I dug them out and got to work.

I was so stuck on fresh produce which this time of the year is hard to find a huge variety of anyway and we were now miles from our beloved market which stocked all kinds of organic bounty and were making do with Safeways offerings so that made things even less available. I had an epiphany. Frozen food.

While many fruits and veggies are not in season to buy fresh there are lots of frozen, organic options that are good year round and honestly, in this season of life are easier and quicker to prepare anyway. That's the Mum hack part :)

I tried cooking peach slices, strawberries, blueberries spinach and quinoa together, blended it and put it in a pouch which was supped down in record time by my littlest lovely. Score!

I also picked up a frozen root vegetable blend frozen mix that I have cooked and blended with brown rice, again to rave reviews.

She is still very into feeding herself so the  pouches are only part of her meals, but honestly this has been a real journey of heart for me. Recognizing my own limits and values and finding my way to a balance. Making a way to find peace with both those pieces of my heart and finding joy in feeding my family again!

It might seem silly, but its been heavy on my heart. We all have our Mum things, right?

For some it's screen time and what their kids can or cannot watch, for others it is what kind of diapers they wear, for me it's food. It's my creative outlet, and I want to raise kids who are not afraid of new flavours or who are unwilling to try new foods. It is a work in progress. As they grow up, they do and will have seasons where pickiness or times when preference will become an issue but so far these have been short lived. So if food is your thing, and you are a mama struggling with something similar I urge you to find your way to balance. If cost is an issue then frozen is also a great option. And honestly, its been such fun to mix up the different fruits and veggies and see my baby girl experience new tastes and textures.

Levi is old enough now to want to help in the kitchen and I love that he shows interest and then takes pride in the things we cook together. I hope that soon Nora will be eager to join the team too :)

[Now, if we could just find a house so we can have these experiences in our own kitchen, that would be even more fabulous!]

*Just in case it's not clear, this is in no way a judgement (I know I can get defensive really quickly if I feel like someone is telling me I'm not doing the best by my kids) Many kids I know have been raised on store bought foods and they are just as happy and healthy as mine. It also doesn't mean I will never feed Nora store bought baby foods, this was just a slice of the journey to finding peace with how I am feeding my kids; the choices that I made and how I let life make those choices for a while before I decided that I had to make a change and find a way to make her food.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear Nora - Eleven months old

Dear Nora Bug,

Each month seems to pass by faster and faster, but this month especially you seem to be exploring the world with more intensity, and at a faster pace than ever before you are picking up new skills every day and its tough to keep up with you.

You have discovered books and especially love to see pictures of animals; dogs and cows especially. You try to bark and moo which is so funny to hear, but we love the way you get so excited to try.

You have decided that what is good enough for Levi is good enough for you. When Daddy leaves for work in the morning, you make it known you want a hug and kiss and then to wave at the window just like him. When he has a snack, you have to have one. You want to take turns on his scooter just like he does and are quite prepared to stand up and push it yourself if there is no-one to help you!

You love your Daddy so much and when you wake up in the morning, you crawl over to snuggle with him (yes, you are still sleeping in our bed!) and when he gets up to get ready for work you crawl to the edge of the bed, sit up on your knees and bounce arms lifted high, grunting for him to pick you up and play. It's so sweet!!

You are constantly on the move crawling everywhere, cruising around the furniture and even takingyour first steps! You build up quite the appetite and eat all day long!! There is not much you won't eat, and you keep us on our tows by deciding that one day you love something and the next day you don't but still you are  not hard to feed - it's just keeping you full that's tough! You have started to have smoothies with breakfast which you just love - I'm sure something about that is that you like to be the same as Levi and Mummy.

You understand so much more than I realise half the time. I asked you the other day to take the block that was in your hand and put it in the box. You instantly turned away, crawled over, and dropped it in!

You love to play peekaboo around corners of furniture or doorways. And you love to play chase with Levi or anyone else. You seem to find great joy in crawling away mid diaper change and squealing as you look back to see who is coming to get you as you disappear under the dining room table or somewhere equally awkward to retrieve you and try to replace the diaper before an accident. You are such a wiggle worm and get so mad when you have your diaper changed. We try to distract you but its usually a battle!

You love to make fish faces when we ask what the fish does, or pat your head when we ask where your hat goes. I love that you are starting to interact more and more.

You still love to have matching things in each hand. Your favourite are socks and you will often find both of your brothers dis-guarded socks and carry them around in your fists as you crawl all over.

You are so busy and have such an opinion about pretty much everything, we love getting to know you more and more. You celebrated your first Christmas this month and you loved the lights and even opening presents held some excitement for you, you really like the paper as all good babies do!

We love you more and more - Happy eleven months Buggaboo

Mama x

 How big is Nora? SO BIG!

                                           The sticker didn't last too long this month!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

That kind of day...

Yesterday was one of "those" days. Thankfully they are not ever so common or I might hand in my at-home-mummy P45 and get a real job (!)

Levi has apparently been lulling us into a false sense of security in our parenting of a 2 year old and decided in the last week to become more and more defiant; running away squealing with delight when you ask him to come, or looking you in the eye and doing exactly what you are asking him not to do. The list could go on but I might cry so I am stopping there. Jeremy and I have talked discipline strategy, we have read books, but for the most part its been a lot of theory until now. Our little guy has been pretty compliant over all and this is a new and exciting adventure for our family.

I am finding this all especially overwhelming as Nora is not sleeping. Even her semi-consistent naps have become epic battles of Russel-Crow-starring-movie proportions and I have ended up pleading with her to go to sleep at night because I am ready for bed. She is cutting a bunch of teeth, her red swollen gums are clearly painful and if that wasn't enough, she's starting to take steps - I remember from Levi that wreaked havoc with sleeping but this is insane. And of course, the less she sleeps the less she sleeps and the cycle is wicked. I am running on fumes.

So after a busy day of tantrums and disobedience, sleep deprivation & teething, I was pleading with the night to take me into a deep sleep - and those ten minutes before Nora woke up again were blissful...

I was defeated and deflated. Finding it hard to find joy and pushing myself to give as I lived into my word for 2015, Effort. The word itself should have given me some clue I would be more tired than normal :) but it seems as I prayed for opportunities to step more fully into the roles God has given me, He answered. In every way possible, all at once. I have been faithful to set out everyone's clothes the night before and to get up and ready before Jeremy leaves for work so my day can begin on the right foot. It takes thought and time but the effort has been rewarding even in the few days I have done it but those little actions through the day do add up to being more tired at the end.

However, the effort to consistently discipline my toddler, and begin to discipline my firecracker of a 10 month old who knows full well what "no" means but chooses not to obey. It my turn all day. I am with them all day, so I have to be firm and consistent. Nora is often at the business end of Levi's disobedience and comforting her at the same time I need to be disciplining him is a quandary - any Mama's with 2 little ones (or more!) want to weigh in with some practical tips? 

It's going to take work but I read a really encouraging-to-me blog yesterday which took my mush of jumbled and slightly intimidating thoughts about behaviour goals and simplified it. I am prayerful that God can continue to sustain me in this time pf physical tiredness and give me what I need to be a good mum to both these kiddos, putting in the full effort, loving them and raising them to the best of my ability.

I am so very grateful for the gift of motherhood, and I don't want to lose sight of that in the midst of the less than fun moments. Thankful for loving, grace giving, wise mama friends who are journeying with me. Thankful to be on your team :)


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