A Slow Start

It’s Wednesday yet it feels distinctly like a Monday. With school holidays, three weeks off work due to the uni break, Easter, an operation, three trips in and out of Melbourne (for fun) and a seasonal change to boot, the last month has seemed like a circus. A mainly good and fun and happy circus, but a circus nonetheless.

Bird went to school for one day after Easter before having grommets in and adenoids out last week. A big week but overall, a success. That afternoon as we sat in recovery she looked at me and said, “Mum, everything is so loud!” After five years of hearing and congestion difficulties, I breathed a sigh of relief. For all the anxiety that had come in making that decision, will we, won’t we, will we, won’t we; in that moment, it was worth it.

She went back to school today and I’m back to teaching tomorrow and kinder is back and KB is at work and, as such, our life will start to resemble normality once again. No more late nights, dinner when we feel like it, pyjama days or nicking off to the country… at least, not during the week for the time being. Weekends are another story.

Last night I lay in bed as the night folded around us. I heard the flow of gentle breath coming in waves from all except me. My breath was full and awake at the midnight hour, though in the daylight, I long for sleep.

And such is motherhood, flowing from one moment to the next, the uncertainty coming in ebbs and flows, the solidity of our day to day routines seemingly fluid yet always constant and neverending.

Today, we took things slowly on our first morning back. We hung around at school chatting to parents, and worked our way back home to a hot cup of coffee, babycinos and a moment around the table cutting out pictures of dragons and making people out of toilet rolls with sticky taped wool for hair. We are heading off to swimming lessons now.

Even though the routine is back and a rhythm will once again be in place, I welcome it. Sometimes it’s nice to have something to rely on.

(Oh, and I baked a cake… this simple, delicious, refined sugar and dairy free orange blossom cake.)

Over the Weekend

It’s Monday and we had the most glorious weekend. It started when I was presented with a hot coffee first thing and told to drink it in bed. I opened the curtain and let the light stream in and sat with Birdie curled up next to me and slowly sipped.

I spent five hours in the kitchen with my three little helpers yesterday afternoon, and I feel so organised for the week. I made tamari trail mix, raw trail mix, salted caramel bliss balls (with nuts for those eating at home), coconut cacao bliss balls (with seeds for those taking to work/school), sneaky veg muffins, sweet potato and lentil frittata, and a giant batch of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic recipe which is gentle on tummies and great to eat during the change of season into Autumn. I made enough for a family meal + five adult lunches). I was planning on making red kidney bean bolognese sauce as well for one of our dinners this week but we ran out of time, I will make that in the next few days. The girls donned their aprons (the baby joined us with a rusk and contributed with some squeals here and there) and helped to pour, mix, roll, chop and grate. Things are slower with them in the kitchen and I have to make a conscious effort to include them and allow things to go at a slower pace.

We went to a local native plant sale, met some friends and took turns minding children and wandering around. We bought some natives for our garden and even found time to plant a few.

On Saturday KB took all three girls out and I stayed at home for the whole morning cleaning the house, I think this was a major contributing factor to the calm flow that followed us throughout the remainder of our weekend. It took about four hours, but oh! What a difference it made to our attitudes and our time spent at home over the weekend, without falling over things and each other. Now we just have to try to maintain our sense of order, for a little while at least.

It’s weekends like these I like best, with time to think and potter and make. I hope you had a wonderful one too, wherever you may be.

In General

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2016-04-04 16.11.15It’s late afternoon and the sun is streaming through my back door into the kitchen. Lentil and red kidney bean soup is being heated on the stove, fruit is being stewed to add to yoghurt and probiotics for a snuffly baby for dinner, cacao nib cookies have been cooked for school and kinder lunches, and honey ambrosia has been made to dollop on porridge in the early mornings. I’ve also got a batch of gelatine-based jelly setting in the fridge which I am hoping the big two will be happy enough to eat (it doesn’t taste quite like the jelly they get at the Nana’s houses!) The baby is playing on her mat while I busy myself in the kitchen and the older two are planting some seedlings with KB out the back. I can feel that lightness that comes with a baby becoming more independent, when they are able to entertain themselves for a while on the floor with a pile of blocks or some kitchen spoons or a rusk. The days of constant holding and cradling have, once again, come to an end. She is ten months old tomorrow.

Today I’ve been busy trying to prepare us for the school routine. School holidays have also come to an end, although the idea of school every day is one that still seems foreign to me, it’s going to take a while to get used to the monotony of it all (for many years to come).

Over the holidays we’ve baked bread, we’ve gone walking, we’ve made easter crowns, we’ve sewed, we’ve crafted, we’ve cooked, we’ve cleaned, we’ve celebrated Bird’s sixth birthday. We have done a lot of work around the house and in our garden and it feels great (I won’t mention the overflowing washing basket, the clothes unfolded or the state of our bedroom). We’ve planted out some seedlings for a (very) small Autumn harvest; we are still learning and feeling our way with the veggie patch. We’ve moved upwards, to one large apple crate and a few smaller veg crates and pots dotted with basil, strawberries, brocolli, bok choy, and beetroot. It was an Epic Fail for us with our tomatoes over summer (seriously, tomatoes and yoghurt are two things I just cannot get a handle on) but we had a few delicious rounds of crispy, sweet snow peas which made us feel better.

We reviewed our budget so that I can continue to do minimal and short term work, rather than going back to work permanently just at the moment. Oh boy, it’s tight! But with three kids it becomes both incredibly difficult to arrange childcare, and also the preciousness of this time becomes abundantly clear with each child shooting up and up and off and off. With the decision that I’ll be home longer, we’re also thinking about giving up the Pixie’s day at childcare which we have been hanging onto for dear life – our centre doesn’t even keep a waiting list any more as they are so full and in demand. When I returned to work last time it was near impossible to get the two girls in on the same day, I think I changed my working days two or three times to compensate. It’s a tough decision to let it go, as we also highly value consistency for the girls and I don’t want to chop and change, but the savings we will make as a result will surely be worth it.

Speaking of savings, these holidays we also found out we have a saver and a spender (what is done with easter eggs says a lot about a person). Friends, I’m sure you won’t need long to figure out which is Bird and which is Pixie…

My feet hurt from the last three hours spent in the kitchen. I think it’s time for a shower, some hot soup and crusty bread for dinner and an early night.

A big week awaits.

de ja vu

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This afternoon we arrived home from the beach, once again, for the final time this month. We’ve spent the last four days back on the coast, pretending that holidays last for ever and ever and that we don’t have any responsibilities or plans or commitments or anything else to do other than wander to the beach each morning via our favourite little coastal coffee van and play with the girls on their scooters and eat sandwiches and grapefruits and in the evenings: icecream.

But as we all know well enough, holidays come to an end. And here we are. At home. Again. Feeling the quiet rumble of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, all those icky things-coming-to-an-end type feels. KB is working the next couple of days, doing some training before the school term begins again; we will tag team this week so that I can get some work done too.

Since arriving home late this afternoon we’ve checked on our plants (yet another fern has come to a dismal end under my amateur care), picked some snowpeas, cooked some beetroot, roasted all our remaining veg from the week (pumpkin, capsicum – red and yellow, carrots, and garlic) jumbled together with cheese, leftover rice and sun dried tomatoes for an easy summer dinner, made bliss balls for snacks tomorrow, mixed some oats and chia seeds together with almond milk for breakky, milled some brown rice and put it aside to soak overnight for baby, done our veg box order for this week, paid a bill and hung out the washing. After dinner we played on the back deck as the sun went down.

Tomorrow the new week will begin, and I’m determined to stay cool and not get frazzled with the daily grind of washing, mess, toys, meals, nappies. I’m going to keep reminding myself of my goals this year. (One of which I have already knocked off yesterday by doing an 8km hike with Peachy babe on my back and KB by my side – first long walk since she was born. Yes, yeah, hooray, fist pump! Officially addicted to kicking goals! Yippee! Etc.)

It’s going to be a hot one here. Stay cool (physically, metaphorically, emotionally), wherever you are.

P.S. Have you read this blog? It’s just the sort of fun reading I like to do when I’m getting all motivated and outdoorsy and loving summer. You might like it too.

homecoming

2015-12-27 15.35.18It’s always a strange thing, walking into your house after you’ve been away. Everything is still. When we arrived home from the beach a few days ago there was some folded washing on the table and a discarded toy near a doorway; quiet remnants of us. It’s especially strange coming home after Christmas when there are new things in the house. These days it is mainly new toys that greet us; Bird spent a good 45 minutes on her top bunk absorbed with new books and little knick knacks while I made an attempt at pulling dinner together out of the things we brought home (sweet potato chips, almonds, avocado, sliced cucumbers, a bowl each of rice with butter and garlic, and some fruit: slightly strange mix but surprisingly satisfying).

A couple of days later some of the washing has been done, some of the clothes unpacked and a small sense of rhythm has returned to our days. We plan to get some things done around the house this week and head back to the coast next week to make the most of the warmer weather.

This morning I stayed home while the others went to the park, and did some writing and other admin for a new project I have been lucky enough to be hired for. It’s a short term community consultation project for a not-for-profit which I can do from home and on weekends – I can’t actually believe my luck!

Other than that we spent a good couple of hours soaking up some sunshine and drinking coffee with our notebooks, dreaming up some goals and plans for 2016. I feel like we’ve turned to a new page, we’ve been down in the lovely, intense and deep trenches of pregnancy, birth and babies for over six years, and now we are slowly emerging, all five of us, new and evolved and ready for the next phase of our lives. I can feel it in my bones, in the way I lift my face towards the light and see the possibilities ahead.

Tomorrow, on the new moon, I’m going to share some of my goals for this year. What about you, do you have any ideas for this new and fresh year? What inspirations are you chasing?

remembering myself

We had to make a trip to the shopping centre earlier today. Going up the lift, all five of us: pram, baby in arms, bags, holding hands. An elderly man entered the lift. We stood silently for a moment.

You’ve got your hands full, he said, looking at the children.

Yes! We smiled.

Silence.

Silence.

We looked around politely trying to avoid each others’ reflection in the elevator mirrors.

It beeped and the doors opened.

We had six! He said. Then smiled and walked away.

I watched him with his sports bag, heading towards the swimming centre and imagined him doing a few slow laps up and down the pool. Turning his head to breathe. Pulling his arm through the thickness of the water and perhaps pausing every now and then at the end to clean his goggles or check the time. I imagined his six children, grown up and moved out and on and with families of their own.

As I type this I’m home alone, KB has taken the girls to the park so I can clean the house, which is our number one priority whenever one of us gets a moment alone. Says me, as I sit at my laptop and type… I have put a few things away (scoffs). As I have moved from one room to another, just me, I’ve felt my feet on the floor, my hands folding linen, my knees as I’ve knelt down to pick up toys and place them in a basket.

Me, just me.

I’m still here, underneath and in amongst and surrounded by this. Patiently waiting: quietly, non-hurriedly.

to screen or not to screen

 

One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. I count my steps as I cradle the baby in my arms and walk from the bathroom, to the hall, to my room. And back again, and back again. I look down at her and her eyes are closed. Then open again. Then closed. All the while I’m pacing and counting and hoping that the tinkering sounds of Peppa Pig and Peter Rabbit coming from the lounge room will lull her to sleep.

I can’t believe there was a time that we were a screen free household. I was very proud of the fact at the time. Now I look back and wonder how that version of me managed it. I can’t get through a week day without the iPad or the TV at the moment. Yes, I have a baby and two small children, I’m not being too hard on myself. But it would be nice to be able to get through the day without relying so heavily on a screen to back me up. One day. We didn’t allow the girls to watch TV until around age two. I just wonder how poor Peachy will fare with two big sisters who love a bit of Octonauts time…

I really admire people who have as many children as me or more who are screen free. What are your thoughts on it?

my year of re-organising, de-cluttering, go-crazying

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Sigh. It’s almost March and my enthusiasm for our great year of de-cluttering and Getting Organised has already landed in a muddle. I am looking around the room at the moment, almost every surface has something on it – something that shouldn’t be there. The pile of papers that I was so dedicated to eradicating in January is soaring to new heights.

Being organised is tiring, right? But I know that it feels so great when I know where things go, I know there things are and I know just what needs to happen each day.

Today, I’m just not feeling it. Prince Charming accidentally took both toddler car seats to work so after lots of emergency calls (to the in-laws), rushing around this morning to make it to an appointment for Pixie and collecting my aunty’s car seat on the way back, I ended up with two screaming girls in the car, finally ready to take Birdie to childcare. One screaming for milk and the other screaming that she didn’t want to go today. I paused, sitting with my hands on the steering wheel and foot on the brake…

By this time it was almost lunch time. I made an executive decision, got back out of the car, got the baby, got the girl. Birdie moped back up the steps, “I’m unhappy,” she said. Oh dear.

We ate lunch, milked the baby and I made another executive decision and put them both to bed after many bed time books and cuddles with Birdie – she very rarely has a day sleep anymore but I think today is the day. It’s very quiet in there, fingers crossed she has a nap and we can turn the afternoon around.

So here I sit, looking around at the clutter and knowing I should be doing something about it, especially in the rare moments when I am actually alone. Problem is all I want to do is curl up in bed and go to sleep. I spend such a huge portion of my time cleaning and tidying, only for it to be in the same disorderly state two hours later… when is there time to de-clutter as well? It’s a full time project, but I know, I just know I need to persist!

I always thought when I was a grown up I would have a grown up house and it would be full of neat grown up things and kept in a respectable grown up manner. I thought I would live in a house that looked like Heather’s house over at beauty that moves. I always read her blog and stare for ages at the photos of her house. I. Am. In. Love. If you came to our house while we were out you might not be able to help wondering if it were two teenagers who lived here with the kids given the dishes in the sink, the unmade beds and the junk on every surface. All we are missing is posters of that channing guy on the walls… or is it one generation or one something or other…?

Please tell me you are grown up too but your house isn’t always kept in a respectable grown up manner? Are you de-cluttering this year? Are you following some sort of process like a book or a blog or just doing it your own way? Where did you start?

Just heard a little “Muuuuumm” from the bedroom. Guess the de-cluttering is on hold for another day!

my toddler’s bedroom

A while ago I wrote about a few little changes we were making around the house. Now being 36 weeks pregnant, I am desperate to move things, pick things up, throw things out and scrub everything in sight, but instead I am sitting here reading blogs and complaining internally about sore hips, heavy belly, tight feet and the like. And so, inspired by Veggie Mama‘s latest post, decorating a toddler’s room on a budget, I decided to share more about the things in N’s room and where they came from.

It got me thinking about how much money we had actually spent decorating and furnishing her bedroom. When I thought about it and ticked off the things in there, I realised we have probably spent about $50… literally. Sorry kid. But your room really does look great! I think, anyway. I have friends who have gone all out ‘designing’ their child’s room. If I had the money I’m sure I’d be all over it, but we don’t and I have an unfortunate (or incredibly FORTUNATE, depends how you look at it) love of the thrift, thrill of the find, the op shop, the treasure, and hence we have managed to collect a lot of great stuff along the way.

When we painted N’s room not long ago, I was inspired to start again and get a lot of the crap out of her bedroom. I began by doing a bit of googling… I was inspired by white and wanted to end up with something like this (which I think I found on pinterest, sorry for lack of credit… yikes) —

I also love the photos that Jodi posts of her house and her kids’ rooms. You should check those out too, beautiful.

Thinking about all of that and using everything I already had on hand (the key to this makeover was getting RID of things, not buying anything new), this is what we have ended up with, ‘scuse the night time photos —

My mum, aunty and sister’s raggedy ann dolls from when they were kids; a card I liked that I cut out and put in a white frame – this was on our bookshelf in another room; my Nana’s little porcelain boy and girl.

In the background – my Nana’s favourite doll which used to sit on her bed.

A mixture of hand-me-down, vintage, collected and other books given to us as gifts. Most of these though were mine from when I was a kid.

Little white chest of drawers from hard rubbish (yep, score!!); white lamp my mum was throwing out, heart shaped wooden bowl from the op shop (I think this was 50c); salt lamp I actually paid for and bought new, I think it is the most expensive thing in the room at around $30. We use the salt lamp as a night light, got the idea from a friend and it is fab!

Hand-me-down cot we were given from a friend, I made all the sheets and bedding with vintage and secondhand sheets I had in my stash; toys were all presents.

Silver letters my sister was getting rid of (helps when you can share things amongst family).

Paper light shade from the local $2 shop which I already had before N was born; wooden chest of drawers my sister was getting rid of; along the window – cardboard bunny from my aunty, little vintage angel picture from a friend, another card I liked which I stuck in an old frame.

I wanted to get something for the wall above the cot, scoured etsy for ages looking at wall stickers and so on (could not believe the prices!!) and opted to make my own bunting flags with vintage sheets I had in my fabric stash. Will add a photo of those when I can.

And that’s it!

You don’t need to spend a lot to make a room cosy and workable. You just need to have the eye for treasure!

We have recently done our bedroom too, will make sure I post on that another time.

little changes

It’s a very useful thing to have a husband who works as a school teacher. Single ladies, take note. Although on school holidays the house can become quite a shambles, the good thing is, I have him at home and certain wonderful things get done. Like the painting of Baby’s room which has been on the to-do list since last September when we painted the kitchen and lounge room. While I was at work last week, Prince Charming got down to business.

Here are some before and afters.

And voila!

I made the most of the opportunity and did a huge cull of stuff. There was stuff everywhere in this room. Even though it looked kind of neat, stuff lingered everywhere. Some of it has been moved to other rooms, but a lot of it has gone to the op shop. I am feeling the need to clean out our life and rid us of all this stuff. I love driving to the op shop and handing it all over. It feels good.

I also used up some material I had lying around and made Baby a new doona cover and two pillow cases.

I’m really happy with how it has turned out. I’m also really happy with the fact that we didn’t buy a thing. The paint was left over from last year, and everything else we already had. This was more a process of letting things go. This is a good thing.