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.)

Rejuvenate

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Over the weekend I spent my first night away from the baby (toddler is a much more accurate description). It was the first night in over 19 months I haven’t felt the threat of a midnight wake up call as I toss and turn in the dark. The first full evening in over 19 months I didn’t have to feed anyone aside from myself, I didn’t have to bath anyone, put anyone to bed, read anything other than my book, watch anything other than the sun setting across the forest filled horizon. No one required anything from me for over 24 hours.

And it was BLISS.

I went away to Glenlyon with my three little sisters. It was the first time in our entire lives that the four of us had been away on our own, without any hangers-on. We slipped into the gentle ease of sibling-hood. No arguments about what to eat, where to go, what we wanted to do. No worrying about inconveniencing anyone, or having to ensure everyone is having a good time. We all eat the same foods, we drink the same drinks, we do the same things. So. Easy. Aside from our combined indecisiveness. But we survived that ok too.

We read books.

Spoiled ourselves with a long luxurious lunch at a winery.

Bought wine.

Drank wine.

Had takeaway pizza.

Re-enacted being chased in an apocalypse on the side of a hill.

Collapsed in fits of laughter.

Watched a daggy movie.

Ate chocolate.

Read books in bed when we woke up.

Had multiple toilet stops.

Went window shopping.

And spent time remembering what we are grateful for.

We all went home to our partners and families feeling full and lucky. It really is so important to take the time to pause our lives, if not for a whole weekend, just an hour, or a moment, and to remind ourselves of the good things.

I’m back in time for the year to really begin. KB went back to work today after six whole weeks off, kinder starts tomorrow, school goes back on Wednesday, and I begin Yoga Teacher Training on Sunday. We are hoping to move house and we both have professional changes and updates in the wings. A big year ahead, but luckily for us, it’s an exciting one too. I hope you all get the chance to have a little inhale before February, wherever you may be.

Creative Pursuits + Motherhood

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I get a lot of questions both online and in person along the lines of: how do you find the time to [insert creative pursuit here]? We all know well enough that social media is only a small part of a person’s life, and no matter how hard you try, you can never create the same amount of depth, substance, activity and stressors that come together to make up a real life. Social media simply cannot fully represent this. While I try to keep it real, my instagram and this blog tell the story of such a small portion of my actual life that it is hard to see the balance that I struggle to find each and every day.

Truth be told, being a creative person and a mother is hard work. My own mother is always telling me to let things (writing, making) go for a while. I think she thinks this will somehow alleviate my frustrations, that it will allow me to feel more at peace with the housework and the domesticity if I focus on getting those things done instead of thinking about the next thing I am going to make or write. But the issue with creativity is that you can’t switch it on and off. When people say they don’t know how I find the time to write this blog, it comes as a shock to me in the first instance. I package it up and think about it – I realise I actually don’t have a choice. I don’t plan my posts, I only write when the urge is so strong that I just can’t not write. The same goes for other writing I pursue. As I type this, I have my laptop balanced on top of my sewing with my foot on the pedal of my sewing machine. I was sewing some velcro onto some nappy wallets and had my laptop in the room so I could listen to spotify. When I suddenly needed to write, I half stopped what I was doing and started tapping away. It usually takes me days or, more likely, even weeks to finish a piece of writing or to finish sewing or crocheting something. Sometimes I get lucky and see a gap in time, but more often than not I have to put things aside and get back to it later. I am much better at using smaller winks of time now than I used to be!

I don’t have any answers in regards to how to fit things into a busy life with small children. I puzzle over other people’s lives and also wonder how they get things done. I think sometimes things are an illusion, that when you’re chatting at school pick up or at the coffee shop or in the supermarket or on instagram – I think that everyone smiles and says they are great and the accidental illusion is given that people (parents) are going to bed each night feeling that the house is in order and the washing is done and the lunches are made and the floors are clean and tidy. In reality, I don’t know anyone who is actually in that situation.

I know some people get up a few hours earlier than their families every morning in order to write/bake/make/sew. I am not this person. I have tried to be a morning person and at this stage of my life while I’m still getting up in the night to attend to small people, I just don’t have it in me. At night is when I come alive, and I have to try very hard to not get carried away when the moon is high and the sky is brightly lit with stars and little heads are sleeping soundly on their pillows.

What I do want to stress is that when I make something, I am forgoing something else – the washing, the floors, or sometimes even time with my family.

Motherhood is a constant balancing act, and no one is perfect. We are all getting up each day and going to work or doing the dishes or cuddling children or, on occasion, behaving badly and getting to the end of our tether (yes, this was me this morning when I didn’t get my own way haha!). At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. And like my parents said to me, and I’m sure yours said to you: always do your best, and your best is always enough.

Practising Contentment Within Parenthood

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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve exercised this morning and had a large coffee, but I’m feeling all energised and ready for life today. Not that I don’t feel ready for life normally, but I have more energy than usual for some reason.

I am a searcher by nature. Constantly searching for: things to read, things to learn, things to eat, things to think, things to do. Always searching for

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ONE

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I have been sitting here for about five minutes wondering how to start this post. Peach turned one last week and I’m still musing over how it seemed to come about so quickly. So quickly, it seems, I can barely believe it has come and gone. I want to take the time to think about her, to mull over her softness, to wonder how I would have ever lived my life without knowing her.

She is such a round little beauty of a baby. When I was pregnant with her I was asked by a friend to describe what I thought she was like. I thought for a moment and replied: Happy. And she was and she is. The happiest little creature. From the moment she was born she really hardly cried, so much so that I commented on it to various people, wondering if she should be crying more than she was! Don’t get me wrong, she certainly does cry, but her problems are always very easily fixed with a cuddle or a tickle (or a piece of toast!). I do hope this is a quality she maintains throughout her life.

Being the third child, she generally rolls with the punches… she gets dragged from here to there and really loves nothing more than watching her big sisters play. She’s always trying to get involved in their games, and has no qualms about letting them know if she believes she is being treated unfairly (eg. when they retrieve their toys from her fierce little grip in a highly ungraceful manner).

Her favourite thing to do is to collect shoes from the shoe basket and to place little toys and the like inside. KB sent me a photo from work the other day after he had retrieved a puzzle piece from inside his work shoe. Coming up in second place is clanging things together, anything really, wooden spoons, blocks, pencils. She is rarely found without something in her hand.

She is not yet walking, and instead of crawling she is the first of my children to do a bum shuffle. It’s quite funny to watch and although it stresses me out and ruins all her pants, I have come to accept that she is just not going to crawl. One of these days she will pull herself up to walk and I will forget this phase of dirty bottoms and socks. The other two were also late walkers, Bird at 19 months and Pixie at 17 months. While they both crawled, the Pixie had a highly unorthodox method utilising one knee and one elongated foot. It was bizarre, but she too popped up one day and began walking.

Her favourite food is blueberries, just like her sisters. And, like them, she prefers to feed herself and gives me the cold shoulder along with a very loud yell almost automatically if I poke a spoon in her direction.

She has her two bottom teeth, which I think she got around eight months (see what attention to detail the third child gets!?), and has had an awful week teething. Tonight as I put her to bed I could see two sore lumps protruding from her upper gum and she has just been miserable, which is out of character. It feels like each girl has been more sensitive to teething – either that or I have become more observant! It appears more teeth will arrive very soon.

Like the Pixie, little Peach is not a fan of sleeping. We haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over a year and I am suitably exhausted. But unlike last time, when I fretted and moaned and stressed about the lack of sleep, I have to say it has been easiER this time. It’s not easY by any stretch of the imagination. The stress of laying your head on the pillow each night knowing you’ll be awakened again and again and possibly: again. It’s needless to say that it is not fun, per se. But then I’m laying there as she cradles her little body in towards mine, and it fits perfectly, like it was made especially to curl in that very space. Somehow, just somehow, all is forgiven and that is how we spend our nights. I do look forward to her sleeping overnight – more than that, I look forward to going to bed without the anxiety of being woken. I don’t feel I’m explaining this very well, but I’m sure all you sleepless mamas out there know what I mean.

While I have just loved having babies so, so much, I’m really looking forward to the coming year. I’m looking forward to watching my girls and my family grow now, I’m looking forward to more sleep (please!), I’m looking forward to getting some of myself back, but also giving more as they get older and their needs change.

So to finish up: thank you darling Pea, for rounding us all out, for bringing us endless joy, and for being the bright shining star that you are. Thanks to you, I will never again doubt my heart’s ability to offer endless love and compassion. Thanks to you, I feel whole. And I really mean that.

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.

Marooned On Motherhood Island

It has been almost a week since I saw the light of day, felt the air cool my skin, turned my face to the sky, spoke to another human.*

I became a School Mum last week. It lasted for one day before Bird came to me crying with a swollen eye and a fever and she has been on the couch with a horrible case of viral conjunctivitis ever since.

She has missed her first week of Prep and she and I are feeling a little heart broken.

So what else to do but declare the house an official Quarantine Station and listen to Justin Bieber (newly discovered I might add thanks to my baby sister who will be rolling her eyes reading this) and dance around the house and build towers with breast pad boxes and bring out old crochet projects and drink coffee and bake cakes and cry a little when the children are asleep and dream of living on the tip of a snowy mountain like Elsa and play peek-a-boo with the baby and wander from one end of the house to another every now and then and rearrange pot plants and douse everyone in dettol at five minute intervals? And then turn the telly on at 9.30am only to find they are playing Home and Away from the early 90s and you know all the characters and the plot and then it finishes and you mime along to the credits (because you have a sleeping baby in your arms) with great passion and exuberance? And then instead of doing the dishes and picking up the toys from the floor you make another coffee instead? And instead of dressing the children declare that the Quarantine Station has a pyjama only policy? And suddenly actually become afraid of leaving the house and going back to normal life and decide that this is the new normal and perhaps you should just stay here forever drinking coffee and eating cake and watching Home and Away reruns?

Hmmm…

So her eye is clearing up and her fever has settled and I’m crossing my fingers and toes she will make it back to school tomorrow or Friday with any luck. It has honestly cracked my motherly heart having to answer her questions about what the kids are doing at school, and when she can go back, and why has this happened to her! Perhaps she has inherited my dramatic tendencies. Sorry little love.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful week and your kidlets have gone well starting new pursuits, if any were on the horizon.

*Possibility of slight exaggeration. 

a few things i’ve learned so far

IMG_6115Before I had kids I thought there would be a distinct line between being a parent and not being a parent. As if you give birth and simultaneously download all the parenting wisdom you will ever need from iTunes directly into your head (one day…). I couldn’t think far enough ahead to realise that as a parent, as in life, you are constantly learning and evolving every step of the way, it never ends. Once you feel like you’ve semi-mastered one age, boom, it’s their birthday again. And my parenting predictions never did take into account the reality of personalities: the Pixie at age three is almost incomparable to Bird at the same age.

It seems funny now, some of the things I did with baby number one, compared with baby number two. And number three is just a whole other method entirely (read: no method). I used to have an app on my phone that would record sleep times (to the minute), nappies (what was in them and when I changed them), breastfeeds (how long on each side plus notes: “she fussed momentarily on the left today…” hashtag: notjoking) and… you get the drift. I actually became so addicted to using it I had to delete it from my phone (if she feeds and I don’t have my phone in hand to record it… did it really happen?!) I’m sure if I sifted back far enough into the archives here there would be mention of it.

These days things are very, very different. For one I don’t have time to think about all the things I used to think about. It is liberating not to worry so much about all the tiny details. To throw caution to the wind and do what I like. I still do feel some pressure to conform to societies wishes, but I can more easily shrug them off these days and do whatever suits me: bring my baby into my bed whenever I want, cuddle and feed her to sleep without a care, feed her what I want her to eat, not worry about charts or milestones or the dreaded “shoulds” (within reason), not remember or care (much) how many times she woke in the night.

While it’s much easier parenting with more confidence, I do so miss those quiet days at home with that first little baby. It’s such an incredibly precious time. You have a lot more appreciation for it with subsequent babies, when you realise that you now have to divide yourself between your children, that that special 1:1 element takes a lot more to orchestrate when you have a toddler (or more) screaming for your attention. I didn’t appreciate that those days of freedom would come to an end, because at the time they don’t seem free at all. If only I had known that sooner than I knew it, my life would be held down rigidly by kinder (and soon, school, yikes!) timetables, playdates, and of course, work. Schedules! Bells ringing! That the next baby would be born into these schedules, not into those long beautiful expansive days of what-ifs and whatevers and what-takes-your-fancy-today. Pyjama day? Great. Three hour walk and ten coffees? Excellent. Drive to the beach? Done. Sigh. Of course at the time I thought all of those things were too hard and I didn’t know what to pack in the nappy bag and what if she cried and people are looking at me and the pram might not fit through the doorway and I could knock something over and I have to cook dinner and it might be too hot… or cold… or in-betweeny… better stay home…

If I could go back and talk to myself as a new mother, I don’t think it would make any difference. Because I wouldn’t have been able to get to this place if I hadn’t been there. I had to go through the motions to learn that it’s ok, I’m ok, KB is ok, the kids are ok. We’ve got this! You can’t learn these things from being told, you have to experience it, try things, see what you like, what your baby likes and how you feel. Do I like the idea of rice cereal or don’t I? Am I comfortable with my baby in my bed or aren’t I? Do I need to try harder to get her to sleep longer or are we ok to go with the flow? Everyone is different, what works for one is not going to work for another, you have to figure it out yourself.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this parenting thing, there is so much more to do and to learn. So I guess the best approach from here is just to kick back, put my feet up (ha!) and enjoy the ride while I can. If there’s something else I should be doing, don’t feel any pressure to remind me, I’ll figure it out sooner or later. xx

virtually delirious

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I’ve begun a number of posts in the past couple of weeks. I get a few sentences in, or sometimes just a word, and it’s all gone. My mind is a tangle of half finished thoughts and stray sentences. I have been here before. And I know I will come out the other side. It’s always around this six month mark with each baby that I’ve had a little malfunction, a few technical errors, solely due to lack of sleep. The first four or five months with a new baby I seem to sail on through, feeling fairly energetic for someone who is being continually woken over night and never getting a full night’s sleep.

But come six months, I’ve had it.

Almost like clockwork, Pea turned six months old and the next night she began waking every 45 minutes to an hour. She’s continued like that all week. It will pass. IT WILL PASS. Prior to that she woke three to four times each night, and has done since she was born (apart from a couple of odd nights where she only woke once or twice, I can count those on one hand). They talk about a six month sleep regression, but she wakes so much anyway it’s hard to see exactly what this is, and I don’t really care to find out, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I wasted so much energy with Bird and the Pixie worrying about why they did or didn’t do certain things. It’s with a light heart that I let all that go the third time around (provided it’s not something serious, of course!). It’s wonderful to just enjoy having a baby.

So this is just a ramble, really. A delirious cacophony of thoughts and half baked ideas from a lady who is silently going loopy from lack of sleep. I can see why it truly is a form of torture. It’s a good thing my torturer has wonderful fat thighs and she allows me to grab onto them and kiss her chubby cheeks whenever I like. She’s good like that.

I was chatting to another mum this morning, she has a babe of similar age who also wakes every two hours or so. It’s amazing how many babies do this, and we only hear about the ones who sleep through the night. I won’t go on and on about it…

I’ve had two coffees and it’s going to be mid to high thirties for the next few days (celsius)… the baby is sleeping (surprise) scratch that, the baby is awake, and the girls are playing on the iPad… we will have a bit of lunch soon… and hopefully go for a swim this afternoon… if I can manage to stay awake… sentences coming and going… you can see why I haven’t posted… I hope you’ve all followed me up to now. If so… have a great day! And to all the other mothers out there who are feeling exactly the same way, have a lovely day with your babies, squeeze their thighs and kiss their cheeks and remember it will, will, will pass!

Next post: Christmassy updates, news other than baby talk, etc, I’m sure…

that mythical baby

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I’ve been thinking a lot about that mythical baby. You know, the one that sleeps through the night, has two or three solid naps per day, plays contentedly during tummy time, drifts off to sleep without assistance  when she is tired, breastfeeds well (and only ever every three to four hours) and so on. Who knows, she probably has a preference for green vegetables too.

You’ve heard of her, haven’t you? She pops up so much in conversation that you’d be forgiven for assuming that she accounted for 95% of all babies. To be honest, mythical baby gets on my nerves. Because even the third time around she occasionally has the ability to make me question whether or not my real baby is doing the ‘right thing’.

Luckily I have more confidence this time and I know a bit more. I know that breastfeeding overnight helps to maintain my milk supply. I know that the majority of babies wake in the night, and that “sleeping through” is technically only five hours. I know that my breastmilk has special hormones that help to relax my baby (and me) and I have no problem using it the way nature intended (to nourish, but also to comfort).

I am not worried about any type of “rod” that I may or may not be creating for my back. My only problem with my back is that it gets sore from time to time… wait, is that the rod? Hmmm…

Most importantly I know that “this too, shall pass” and in my limited experience it passes all too quickly.

So I will continue to hold and cuddle and comfort my baby. I will keep on feeding her whenever she wants to be fed. I will feed her and rock her to sleep if she wants. I’ll look at her dimply bottom with heart shaped eyes and blow raspberries on her tummy and I’ll cuddle her all through the night. And while sometimes it feels hard and tiring and I don’t recognise myself or know what to do if I have five minutes alone, I know one day this time in my life will be a mere whisper, and I’ll long to bring these memories back to life.

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