a case of the jitters

Oh Lordy Lord. Maybe it’s because I have drunk a whole pot of [black] coffee just now (remind me not to do that again). Maybe it’s the moon or the season. All I know is I have been SUPER jittery today. I even forgot to have lunch which is absurd considering I spend a ridiculous amount of time either thinking about or preparing food.

Should I clean? Should I crochet? Should I cut up felted wool?

Should I bath kids? Should I cook? Should I play Snow White and the Hunstman?

Should I laugh? Should I dance? Should I invite someone over?

So… I cleaned a table, crocheted eight stitches, folded some washing, danced in the paddling pool, dipped the Pixie’s feet in the paddling pool, read three sentences about introducing food, cut up some felted wool, read two little girls a book, laughed, pretended to be the Wicked Witch, Cinderella, the Hunstman, Snow White and a teacher, fed some imaginary bears some honey, made some left over rolled oat pudding (not to be underestimated!), rocked a doll to sleep, put the Pixie to sleep, served dinner, got the Pixie up again, bathed the girls, wiped up dinner, kissed my husband, handed over a grumpy Pixie and sat down here. Then I got up again and put some rice on for Dinner Round Two. Then I sat down again.

Yikes. I can’t keep up with myself.

This is exactly why I need this, to get my daily rhythm back in control. I can’t wait to get started!

Will I be able to sleep tonight?

Do you have days like this?

morning rising: fail

A few weeks ago I wrote about my intention to get up early, smell the roses, put a pot of coffee on the stove and have some time for me before the kidlets awake each day. For those of you thinking of me as dawn breaks, gently rising a foot here and an arm there in a delicate yoga pose, breathing in for four and out for four, gliding about my house in a serene manner and sipping a hot cup of coffee with a raised pinky while my children stir dreamily, I felt it was my responsibility to set you straight.

I got up early, yep: once.

I’m sorry to say it.

But I failed.

That one day that I did rise at 6am, the pixie was up and attached to me by 6.20. Birdie was hollering for her breakfast – NOW, at 6.40. Since that lovely day when I had a whole glorious 20 minutes to myself I have attempted a few times to rise early. But when Pixie began waking up a million times a night again (after I thought she had settled into a 1-2 times a night kinda thing) I temporarily put a halt on any dreams of this.

I hope you don’t think less of me. I must admit I still do find my time at night a lot more pleasurable because there is much less chance that one of them will wake up and I am likely to have a couple of hours to myself, if I please. In the mornings On that one morning, I did feel a bit stressed not knowing exactly how long I would have, and knowing that it wouldn’t be any more than one hour max.

So a halt to the plans for now, but I will try again… soon… yes…

Are you an early riser or a night owl?

watching

IMG_2664

I was at a friend’s house the other day. There were three mamas and six children including myself and my own. We each had a toddler and a small baby, my Pixie being the youngest of all.

At one point we were all chatting and doing our thing – all the regular things one does when one is trying to have a conversation and mind small children simultaneously, that is. I needed to go to the loo and as I walked away Pixie started squawking. One of the other mamas swooped down and placed her on their hip.

I remember at that moment somewhere in my mind noting how my friend was holding the pixie: with ease on her left hip, her left arm supporting her back and her left hand underneath Pixie’s armpit. I came home and later that afternoon found myself holding her in exactly the same way, testing out where it was comfortable on my hip, and recalling the way my friend’s arm supported her back.

It was another reminder of how we learn, as mothers. How we instinctually watch one another to find out how to do things with our babies. I mentioned this to another friend of mine over coffee on the weekend, and she nodded telling me how just the other day she had watched me sway her little seven week old babe to sleep at a barbeque at my house and had gone home to try it herself.

We lead blessed lives here in this country, but as a result of our ‘modern’ lifestyles, while we are at home, alone, parenting and raising our children, we do miss out on some of the most basic of life lessons: instinctually watching and learning from other women.

I often find myself yearning and craving contact from other women during the {sometimes long} days at home. Wise words from a mother who has done it all before me. The soft arms of another woman to hold my child while my hands are occupied elsewhere. The guidance and support and knowledge that comes from being part of group.

Tell me, do you feel it too?

this morning

This morning I have…

:: showered

:: breastfed

:: expressed

IMG_2073

:: rattled a toy in my left hand and tried to sneak the bottle into the pixie’s mouth with my right hand. My trick failed dismally.

:: eaten cold toast

:: eaten cold eggs

:: picked things up off the floor

IMG_3242

:: dressed a fairy

:: had my temperature taken with a crochet hook by said fairy (thankfully, I am fine.)

:: watched play school

:: crocheted a row of the happy blankie

IMG_3253

:: cuddled a crying baby

:: cuddled a crying toddler

:: cuddled a crying baby and a crying toddler at the same time

:: put the baby to bed

:: shed a few tears myself when the fairy was dancing and fell into me while I was taking a photo and my camera hit me in the face

IMG_3228

:: fit into my pre-baby cargo pants

:: danced a happy dance around the bedroom in my pre-baby cargo pants

:: put some soy burgers in the fridge to defrost for dinner

:: re-heated and sipped some hot coffee

What are you all doing today?

IMG_3226

out the escape hatch, pronto!

IMG_3097

IMG_3080

IMG_3093

IMG_3095

Lots of tears around the house yesterday. Our little pixie is a bit worse for wear, I suspect. I have been under the weather with a cold, sore throat and cough which is finally coming to an end, slowly. For a little bub who spends so much time with her mama, she would need an immune system of steel not to have caught something from me. Breastfeeding an already fussy baby who now has a blocked nose does not make for the most joyous of activities.

Once her tears were settled and she was asleep in her bassinet (!! Asleep in the bassinet in the day? Why yes! For over 45 minutes!) it was the biggest’s turn for a wail. Prince Charming was wheeling her around the kitchen by the feet like a wheelbarrow so I suppose he was asking for it when her little nose crashed onto the tiles after a fit of laughing. I now know the meaning of the line my parents would so often say to us as children: that’s enough now, or this will surely end in tears. We would roll our eyes and moan about the unfairness, oh the injustice!… I now hear the same words rolling off my tongue – often.

Prince Charming has one week left of holidays and I am already wondering, after five weeks with him by my side, how I will ever cope without him again. How did I manage to shower? Eat? Survive? when he was at work? However from past experience I know, after a week or so we regain our natural rhythm and find our groove once again.

A tip, a reminder, a suggestion: fresh air fixes everything. 

In the afternoon our house warmed up, the mess was a mile high and we were all feeling feisty and fiery. We bundled into the car and within 15 minutes, with coffees in hand, we were on our way to the local adventure playground where we spent the remainder of the day. The biggest ran off all her worries, Pixie slept in my arms for most of the outing and Prince Charming and I took turns at swinging and skipping and pretending to be on a train and getting off again and jumping up and down steps and waiting at a bus-stop and sliding and finding friends and hiding and running and talking to a kangaroo and… trying not to get too exhausted by the imagination of a two year old.

For us, this time in January is a time of consolidation, grand plans, dreaming and regathering. We have good days and slow days. Yesterday was a slow day, but we revived ourselves in the afternoon and ended on a good note. Today is a new day!

What have you been doing this January?

can you play with me, mama?

If I got a dollar for every time I was asked, “Can you play with me, Mama?” by a certain 2 year old, I would be one very rich lady.

Trying to gather some activity inspiration, especially for those times when I am physically bound up with the baby or just exhausted, I asked some of my mama friends yesterday what types of activities they are doing at home with their toddlers. I wondered if I should be doing more beyond the endless books, puzzles, pasting and drawing to entertain her and provide her with structured things to do. We were TV-free until she was about 2, which was a lot easier when there was only one kid! Now we watch a bit of telly, often just so I can have a rest, but I hate relying on it too much.

Turns out, the other girls seem to be doing much the same as me, with the main structured activities including drawing, books and so on, but, like us, it’s the incidental things that happen in day to day life at home providing the most entertainment – folding the washing, helping to wipe down surfaces, feeding the dogs and the bunny, sweeping with the dustpan and brush while mummy has the broom, and so on.

I love the independence of the toddler age, it’s so great to slowly watch the big girl become more able to do things on her own, to have conversations (albeit repeated many times over: “Mama, can you play with me? Can you play with me, Mama? Mama, Mummy, Mum, can you play with me? Can you play with me at home Mum? Can we play Mummy?”), to understand instructions, to be able to help out a bit with little things and enjoy it – like going to get a face washer, or helping change the baby’s nappy. It’s easy to feel inadequate though when reading blogs and seeing amazing craft activities and so on that some amazing parents are doing with their kids. When it takes half an hour to set up an activity for five minutes worth of concentration, it is pretty hard to conjure up the motivation!

I try to have a few special things for her to do while I’m breastfeeding. Often she’ll just climb up next to me and pretend to breastfeed one of her teddies or dolls. This afternoon she crammed herself up as close as she could get to me while I was feeding, saying, “I’m just giving you some space Mummy.” Thanks for that! Other than trying to get as close to me as she possibly can, she has a sticker book, special crayons and textas, marbles and a few other things that come out of the hat at baby snack time.

What do you do at home with your little kids?

tantrum town

The other day I mentioned we were having a spot of the old hissy fit around here. Yes, I have been known to throw a few. But right now the toddler is learning to put her foot down. I always heard about the ‘terrible twos’ but my little darling was such an angel I never thought it would happen to me. She still is an angel most of the time, but certain [odd] things all of a sudden have my easy going girl getting her knickers in a knot in a split second.

Example One:

N: “Mummy, what’s this?” [points to a photo of a dingo]

Me: “It’s a dingo.”

N: “No, no, NO! It is NOT a dingo!”

Me: “Well, it actually is.”

N: “It is not, it is not! No!” [subsequent wailing and kicking of the legs]

Me: “Uhhh…” [Where to from here?]

Example Two:

N: “Mummy, where is your water?” [we are driving in the car]

Me: “Oh, I think I left my drink bottle at home by accident.”

N: “No, no, NO! You did not! You did NOT leave it at home!”

Me: “Well, actually, I did.”

N: “No you didn’t! You did NOT!” [shakes head vigorously (ie. thrashes) from side to side in car seat, wailing]

Me: “Uhhh…” [Where to from here?]

Example Three:

N: “Mummy, let’s see a kangaroo.”

Me: “Ok, keep your eyes open, we might see one.”

[Pause. Kangaroo does not magically appear.]

N: “I want one WIGHT NOW. Let’s see a kangawoo WIGHT NOW.”

Me: “They might be sleeping.”

N: “They are NOT sleeping. They are not!” [again some shaking of the head, leg kicking, moaning, etc]

Me: “Uhhh…” [Where to from here?]

We are having similar situations arise on many an occasion, like when I am asked where we are, and the answer “we are at home.” just doesn’t cut it.

IMG_0213

But just look at this face. Do you believe me?

can’t blog…

… CLEANING!

I believe during the last trimester of pregnancy this is more commonly known as nesting. However. I’m not in the last trimester. I am a few weeks into the SECOND and it seems this desire to clean and scrub and polish and tidy and neaten everything in sight has taken over me. The last few weeks has seen me develop a serious passion for serious grime. The grimier and sticker and older the dirt – the better. Don’t judge me for what I’m about to say. If you think you might, please stop reading now.

We have a really old stove hood (is that what they’re called?). Not sure how old, but it’s cream and mission brown and ugly and old. Until the other day, I didn’t know that if you pulled at the front of it, it comes out. And you can clean it. I was just wanting to change the globe. The globe blew about 3 years ago. We moved here about 3 and a half years ago. I’ve been cooking with no light for THREE YEARS. And not bothering to do anything about it. So, on a light bulb changing mission (changed about 7 in one day, and that’s saying something for someone who is well known for labelling it ‘the husband’s job’) I discovered that this thing comes off the hood of my stove, and was absolutely plastered in grime a little dirty. I cleaned it.

I noticed that the curtains in the study were a bit dusty. I cleaned them. Same with the curtains hanging in the doorway to our lounge room. So I cleaned them too. The barbeque (husband job alert, husband job alert!!!)… there are no words to describe the barbeque. Needless to say, today I cleaned it. While up to my eyeballs in barbeque grime, I didn’t notice Baby dipping a cloth into the bucket of filth-filled-soapy-water I was using, and washing her legs, arms, face and clothes with it. So I cleaned her. Then I cleaned her clothes. Then I cleaned the bath that she had been in.

I swept the deck, I scrubbed the smutty edge around our sink. Today I have swept the kitchen floor… I think we’re up to four times now. I re-hung the curtains, I cleaned underneath the cot and change table. I changed the sheets, I mopped the bathroom. I have scrubbed and cleaned my stove so hard that now one of the gas jets isn’t working. I re-arranged all of the bookshelves. I soaked and cleaned Baby’s bath toys. I’ve done umpteen loads of washing, and followed through, ie. all clothes, towels and sheets have been appropriately laundered, dried, brought in, folded and PUT AWAY. This is not a common occurrence in our house.

Those who don’t know me personally, please note: this is highly, highly out of character for me. I like to be tidy and clean, but as a general rule I am not very good at it. I try. But in being-kind-to-self-type-language, there is room for improvement. Our house, in its ‘default state’ is not the type of house that likes being dropped in on by kindly friends and family. We are embarrassed often. Sigh.

I was saying to my aunty the other day, that if there was one word that could describe being pregnant for the second time around it would be MORE. Feeling More pregnant, More symptoms, More early (‘scuse the English). Can’t imagine what it’s like for the third, fourth… fifth time (anyone game?)…

——-

Added note: I forgot to mention my recent discovery of those amazing white magic marker stick things. You get them a bit wet and then wipe things with them. And Everything. Comes. Off. Including crayon and pencil on white walls that has been there for… a long time. I’m into natural cleaning and don’t have a chemical in sight in my kitty – but have [purposely] refrained from looking to see what the hell is in them!!!  

I keep saying I’m back…

And then I disappear again…

Just keeping you all on your toes!

I have had a good excuse though and I think it’s time to own up… terrible, horrible, green-coloured morning sickness!!! Yep, that’s right, pregnant again. Lots of smily faces around here now as I’ve hit 14 weeks and am slowly beginning to resemble myself again.

Let’s just say I haven’t been much fun to be around.

It was quite a shock as when I was pregnant last time I did get morning sickness, but more on and off throughout the day. This time around I seemed to wake up one morning at the end of January feeling super-ridiculously-disgustingly nauseous… and then that was just my life until about two weeks ago. It doesn’t seem like a long time in hindsight, but just trying to get to the end of each day in order to go to sleep and forget about it did take its toll. That and the fact I’ve been eating really strange food (for me) and/or enormous quantities of the same food over a certain week, then unable to look at it the following week… has knocked me around a bit too. Mmmm… tasty…

An even bigger shock was thinking back to these early weeks in my first pregnancy, reminiscing about getting home from work and lying on the couch, drifting off to yoga and floating to the library to borrow books with titles like Meditating With Your Growing Baby or Breathing Through Labour, watching movies and… you get the idea. It was all about me. Me, me, me. This time, with a toddler bouncing off the walls there has been no time for rest aside from when she is asleep. Needless to say, I’ve been tired.

Nevertheless, it is very exciting and as I adjust to this new feeling of pregnancy I am trying to tune into this tiny little being who is making sure that his/her voice is being heard.

It was Nell’s second birthday yesterday and we had a marvellous family day out at Healesville Sanctuary and then to the Healesville Hotel for lunch. We had family over in the afternoon and more for dinner. She has a new appreciation for the word “present” and fell into bed without a peep last night at about 8.30pm. She is growing into such a beautiful little character, it’s been the most amazing experience of my life thus far to watch it happen.

We thought long and hard about what to get her for her birthday present and decided to lash out on a gorgeous handmade doll which I sourced on Etsy. I bought it towards the end of last year and there was a last minute panic when I went to wrap it and couldn’t find the ‘safe place’ I had hidden her! Eventually found the doll under the bed. Phew! It was a happy moment when the two met which was beautiful to watch. I also crocheted a little hat for Nell so had two presents to open when she woke up. You’ll have to excuse all my instagram photos as I haven’t been carrying my camera around as much lately!

I made my first ever birthday crown using this great tutorial from Frontier Dreams which I found super easy to follow (thank you!). I didn’t spend as much time on the theme as it was 10pm the night before her birthday… oops… but perhaps we can add to it or change it in future years.

I also ran out of time to finish the ‘birthday’ rug I was making her, but I don’t have too much more to do so really hoping to finish this before the weather gets colder.

We’re off to the beach for Easter tomorrow, we’ve been packing and getting organised since EIGHT AM this morning, so I am well and truly ready for bed. Every time we go camping I tell myself that next time I will start getting organised the week before, I’ll pack lighter, I’ll write a permanent list and keep it on the computer, I’ll do this and do that. Hmmm… doesn’t seem to happen that way. Anyhoo, haven’t packed my own clothes yet so perhaps that one promise of packing lighter can still happen…!

Happy Easter to those who are celebrating, and a lovely weekend to all regardless.

montessori

A while ago you might remember me having some misgivings about childcare. Then things got a little better. Then they got worse again. In the end and after speaking to some lovely members of my family, we were lucky enough to be able to pull Baby out of childcare and make it through to Christmas with my sisters and a couple of aunties pitching in to look after her at our home one day per week while I went to work. I work two days per week. My mum and mother in law look after Baby a day a fortnight each leaving one day a week.

It has been and continues to be a great area of confusion and stress for us, wondering what is the right thing to do and how to make it happen. Some people, including staff at the childcare centre we were at, suggested that we should book in for two days a week as one day alone makes it hard for the children to adjust. I can imagine that going two days a week would make it easier in some ways, but the thought of sending her off to childcare when I didn’t need it for a day or half a day just didn’t seem right.

We started looking at other local childcare centres. We looked into family day care. We looked into getting a nanny and sharing that nanny with friends. None of the options were suitable for one reason or another – the two main reasons being either cost or just a gut feeling! That gut feeling that something just doesn’t quite fit is hard to explain, but it’s pretty much how I guide my entire parenting philosophy (rocket science, right?) so when I feel it heading either way, I tend to go with it.

Then me and the kid were sitting up at our local cafe having a coffee and “baby-nino” one day when I caught eyes with a mum from a natural parenting melbourne playgroup I used to attend. We had a chat and she said she was enrolling her daughter in the brand-new-yet-to-be-opened long daycare centre at the local Montessori School. My ears pricked up. I went home, googled them, rang them up, and booked a tour for the following week.

I was impressed.

The room is beautiful and spacious, the staff are kind and quiet and gentle. I didn’t have to go all Moses trying to part the waters of a fisher price ocean to get through the door. There’s a strong focus on encouraging learning through discovery, following through with an activity independently, packing up after yourself, respecting each other and personal space.

Yesterday we took Baby to Montessori for her first orientation session. At first she clung shyly to our legs and peeked around at the children. After half an hour she started to venture out into the room to investigate. I watched a staff member show Baby how to pour her own cup of water, drink the water, then wash her cup at the little-person sized sink. I watched her being shown how to get a placemat at morning tea time and set it out where she wanted to sit with encouragement from an older child. She timidly got a plate and was directed to the fruit platter where she used the tongs to select some watermelon, avocado and banana. She took it back to the table and ate it. She was watching the other children intently and soon enough toddled back to the platter with her plate and got some more. It might not sound like much, but it was very nice to watch. It was amazing seeing the older toddlers who had been going for a while. The way they selected an activity, were absorbed by it – by that one activity – and then when finished packed things away, washed up after themselves and moved on to something else. There was a lot of staff interaction, modelling and encouragement.

I think it’s a nice place and I think she will experience great things there. It suits her personality so far and I feel comfortable. I hope that my genuine positivity about it reflect in Baby’s experience, rather than my terrible attempt at disguising my reservations last time.

If you’d like to learn more about Montessori, I have found some of the following websites useful:

:: Montessori Australia

:: Montessori for age 0-3

:: Montessori Australia Council

:: Steiner vs Montessori – the differences

:: Wiki Montessori

Hope you’re having a great weekend.