A Day With My Boys


Each school holidays I make an opportunity to spend a day with my boys. According to them, their three year old sister often 'spoils' things and 'gets in the way', and whilst I'm somewhat protective of the third child (being a third child myself) I do understand their frustration at times. Activities are definitely more limiting with a three year old in-tow. And so today, while Miss Three attended daycare, I took my boys out for a day of fun.

We started at one of their favourite places to visit, the library. We borrowed as many books as they could carry, plus a couple of DVD's then headed to the cafe for morning tea. They experienced 'a spider' for the first time in their lives although Master Six insisted he eat the ice-cream separately first then drink the lemonade, so the experience probably passed him by.

We then headed north to search for a place i'd found online while searching 'things to do in the school holidays.' It was a big shed, filled with slot cars and tracks. The boys were in heaven. We spent an hour moving from track to track, swapping cars and racing them 'round and 'round.

Next stop was the BMX track. I had already packed bikes into the car expecting to go their first but the light morning drizzle held us back. They rode for over an hour, making friends with the holiday makers who'd come to the coast from the city.

By mid afternoon I had completely tired them out and we were all ready to return home for a movie (and a coffee!)

I love that I spent a day with them and I think they loved it too.




Apple Trees and Illness


It has been a while since I have visited this space. Hello old friend.
I am trying not to begin by saying that life has been busy, because 'busy' is one of those words that has negative connotations. I like busy. I like doing things and ticking boxes and moving from place to place. Most of the time, Busy and I are friends.

Life has been full lately. We have been moving through the weeks (watching as they disappear in the blink of an eye) achieving our weekly tasks of soccer training, homework schedules, swimming lessons, library visits and working days. The working days are the ones which sometimes leave me feeling frazzled. There are always a few hours of work to do before arriving at my work place, and then the work continues once home. It is a two-day-a-week career that leaves me satisfied, fulfilled and at the same time, completely exhausted. It is probably more exhaustion from everything that needs to be done just so I can get to work and know that everyone is looked after and considered.

On the weekends we take things slowly. The soccer season is drawing to an end and whist i've loved Saturday mornings sitting in the sunshine and watching Master Six play, I won't miss the cold, evening training sessions and will probably enjoy having nothing penned into the diary on a Saturday. Last weekend The Husband woke and made the announcement that 'Today we will buy some apple trees'. So we he did. And we he planted them in our yard. Sometimes I catch my husband staring outside and when questioned he simply states 'I'm looking at trees.'
I love this man.

It feels like it has been weeks since we've all been healthy. Miss Two (almost Three!) has had one thing after another (daycare germs!) and now Master Seven isn't well again either. I feel like I've got a never ending sore throat that is just a part of life now... it won't budge! Any advice is most welcome...

And finally, as friends sometimes do, let's discuss the weather for a moment. HELLO SUNSHINE!
Our front garden is beginning to bloom as this warm end of Winter is fooling our garden into thinking Spring has arrived! It's a glorious thing to wake up and open the windows and doors and be met with a gentle (not cold) breeze. Today there is a smell of bush fire smoke in the air which really has me thinking it is Summer, not Winter at all. I am quite excited to bid this Winter farewell and welcome some warm, dress wearing, sun-kissed-skin type of weather.

I hope you are all well. Thank you for stopping by and reading.
xx

Banana, Date and Walnut Loaf - VEGAN RECIPE


Banana, Date and Walnut Loaf 

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon bicarb soda


Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a loaf pan
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, dates and water and stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves.Bring to the boil and then remove from stove to cool slightly.
  • Add flour, banana, walnuts and bicarb to the saucepan and stir everything together until it is all combined.
  • Spoon mixture into your loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Best served warm.

Lately


Winter is here and we have been fighting coughs, sniffles and even Scarlet Fever over the last month or so. Feet and kidneys are kept warm and the diffuser is running 24/7 with On Guard at the ready. By 4pm I am calling the children inside for warm bubble baths and inside play by the heater.

Miss Two is no longer in nappies during the daytime which is exciting for us (no more nappies!!) and is also now in a bed which is taking some getting used to. She stays in her bed all night long, but expects us to lay with her most of the night.

I have landed my dream job, teaching two days a week at a beautiful, small primary school. It will challenge me but I am already loving it and feel re-energised to teach and to continue learning.

The boys have both had a great 1st Semester at school and came home with wonderful reports that they should be very proud of. Regardless of their overall grade we loved seeing them putting in a 5/5 for effort and reading the teachers comments at the end gave us great pride and contentment.

I am clearing out the wardrobes as I pull size 4's from Master Six's shelves. He has grown and clothes that I presumed would fit just don't. Decluttering is so satisfying.

We now have carpet in the bedrooms and it is so luxurious! I said to The Husband I feel so grown up having carpet and our room feels like a hotel. Already I have noticed the children play in their rooms more and I happily join them on the floor to play because it is so nice to sit on...warm too!

I have always said I like Winter... but mostly I find myself longing for Spring. Those in-between seasons really are hard to beat. But I will focus on the here and now and try and enjoy the hot showers and cups of tea, the scarves and coats, the cuddles under blankets. Soon enough time will pass all too quickly (as it does) and Spring will arrive in all its glory.

I hope you are staying warm.
xx

Balance

I've started working regularly again. I am so thankful to have been offered two days a week teaching primary school music until the end of the year. It is actually my ideal job. I had started to become frustrated that I wasn't finding fulfilling work. After ten years of casual teaching the idea of being a teacher for the rest of my life made me feel weary and quite unsettled. This opportunity excites me and I feel a renewed energy towards teaching.

Already we have had to re-adjust our lives accordingly, and I find myself wondering how mothers who work full-time do it. The first two days of the week are now crammed with a rearrangement of after-school activities and appointments and come Friday I am exhausted. So are the kids. Their days are longer now and they are at home a lot less. Before and after school care is wonderful but extends their school day by a few hours, and Miss Two is bringing home an array of germs and bugs from an extra day at daycare.

The house is a mess and there are things I have had to let go off. I find myself glancing around the home and thinking 'that will do - that's good enough'.
Weekends are now for catching up on washing and house cleaning and Mondays are my new grocery shopping day.

Meals aren't quite what they used to be either. Mid-week we are turning to meals that can be put together in under 20 minutes. I juggle the bath/shower routine while cooking a meal, usually still in my work clothes and shoes as I literally walk in the door and begin the evening dance.

It is new, it is tiring and it is a juggle. But I am finding it is worth it. I feel like somehow, even though life seems more chaotic and fast paced, there is more balance. I waste a lot less time procrastinating and more time 'doing'. I have an appreciation for the down-time when it comes and I find I am stressing much less over finances.

No matter how fast life gets I know that balance can always be found. It might be tricker but with practice and the right attitude it can be just as enjoyable.

I hope you have some balance admits busy daily life.
xx


Just Being a Parent


My husband doesn't think he is exceptional. He cleans and takes care of our three children, but he doesn't think he is amazing, or special, or wonderful.
He doesn't think it is incredible that he reads to the boys each night before bed or changes Miss Two's nappies or washes dishes or vacuums the house. He doesn't see jobs around the house as his or mine, he sees them as 'ours' and basically just things that need doing.

My husband loves being a dad and loves parenting along side me as a team. Not once in our fourteen years of marriage has he returned home from work and just sat down on the couch and put his feet up.
Sure he gets tired just as I do and the kids sometimes drive him crazy as they do me, but the point here is that he is just doing what parents do....parenting. Being a dad to him means parenting his children and loving them and enjoying them and helping to keep a house a home.

Quite often my husband will take Miss Two grocery shopping and he occasionally gets stopped by elderly women who make a comment on what an incredible father he is being. My husband just feels awkward and baffled that taking his daughter to the shops or for a walk in the pram classifies him as an 'incredible father.'

If a mother sits up at night soothing her sick child or takes three children grocery shopping she doesn't get a pat on the back or a 'mother of the year' award. So why do people view men/fathers differently? My husband wonders why doing either of these things would make him 'incredible' or 'one of a kind.'

I have three kids. Not four. My husband is not a child and I have never seen him this way. At all.
Together we parent and together we take care of our home. We both work hard doing what we do and we respect each other for doing so. My husband is an incredible life partner.

This month marks seventeen years of knowing and loving this man and so I just want to say thank you to the one who has my back, co-parents with me and is a dedicated and loving man. We love and appreciate you. 

Remembering


Today we probably all took a moment to remember the men and women who served in the war. Maybe we baked ANZAC cookies or attended a Dawn Service. Perhaps we posted a red poppy photo on our Facebook profiles or went to see a service or a marching parade.

But did we really stop to think about it all? Really allowing ourselves to remember them?

When I stopped to think about it for a moment, I realised that I wasn't remembering the soldiers for their bravery (although brave they indeed were). Instead I found myself thinking about how scared they must have been. And how very real it all was and still is. 

I started to think of my husband being told he had to leave the safety and comfort of home to go and fight (and kill) in a war he may know very little about. I thought about how that would affect me, the wife at home with little children to tend to and the worry and anxiety that would surely come from having a loved one away for an unknown amount of time. 

It got me thinking about my sons. My boys. The hopes I already hold for their future and the hopes they already have for themselves. I wondered how i'd ever smile again to see them leave home for war. 

I tried to imagine them having to kill another person.

I wondered just how many men (and possibly women) had to hold up a heavy gun and use it to not only protect themselves and their fellow soldiers, but who also knew they were defending their country as well.

I thought about my grandfathers, and then my grandmothers - what they saw, what they heard, the things that must be scarred into their memories. 

Millions (around 90 million) military and civilians were killed in WW1 and WW2 combined. Millions. 

Today I took the opportunity to explain war to my children. To educate them on what happens when there is too much greed, hatred and unbalanced power in the world. I told them that teenagers had to leave their homes and they didn't know when they would return. I told them that many, many people died. I told them how lucky and blessed we are to live where we live and have one another. 

Today I feel grateful that I live in a country that isn't being ripped apart by war and mass death and destruction. I feel grateful that all of my family are together and no one is missing or injured. 

Today I remembered... and I took a moment to say thank you and to be grateful. 




The hard years that we never want to end


Why are these years of raising young children so trying and hard but the thought of them growing into young adults leaving home is so sad?

My children are still young. At ages seven, five and 2.5 they run rings around me. I have days where if I hear 'Maaaa-uuum' one more time I feel like my head will explode from rage. I am needed, I am wanted, I am in high demand. It is absolutely exhausting to the bone.

But the day will come where they won't need me anymore, not like they do now. One day this nest we've built will suddenly seem enormous and the rooms will be empty and the quietness will be deafening. And I'll think back to this time in my life where chaos reigns and dinner feels more like feeding time at the zoo, and I'll miss it.
I know I will because I already do. I mourn for days that haven't even ended.

I want to bottle up the feeling of pride I get when I see my boy hit a tennis ball and the smile on his face that he did it! I want to remember the way my five year old squeezes my head against his each evening in bed as I hug him goodnight and how I don't leave until he says 'you can go now'.
I never want to forget the way Miss Two struts around the house like a queen, making demands and mess wherever she goes, all the while being the cutest thing I've ever laid eyes on.

Some times I want days to end quickly. I count down the hours until bed time and crash into my pillow at night with relief that a hard day is done. Other times I want to freeze time and hold onto a moment forever, terrified of it ever ending.

Knowing that our baby-making days are behind us I feel a sense of a new era beginning. Miss 2.5 is almost no longer a baby. She is tall and independent and strong and wise beyond her years. I already mourn the years just passed... the baby-wearing, nursing, tiring but amazing years.
I feel like I am stepping into Phase Two of motherhood and I know it will be just as good, just as special and just as missed, when it too passes me by. 

Just Say No


This evening at the kids swimming lessons I was chatting to a friend about the week ahead. It's a busy one with OT and dentist appointments, soccer training, more swimming lessons and the school disco. My friend was expressing her concern with not wanting her child to attend the disco but didn't know what to say to him or how to handle the situation.

After a moments pause I turned to her and said 'Just say no.'

She laughed and her reply to my statement was 'Yeah, why didn't I think of that?'

And I think I know why. It is because we rarely tell our children 'no.'


Is it just my kids that act spoilt and entitled or do others feel their children live an entitled life too?
I swear my three children think money and time are never-ending commodities.

Growing up I never just assumed I would go to every birthday party I was invited to, or play every sport after school. I never expected that I'd always have new clothes or shoes (I often wore hand-me-downs) and although I'd whinge at being told 'no', it was a word and notion that I was very familiar with. And I don't feel deprived. I don't ever look back on my childhood and feel as though I missed out on anything at all. My childhood was simple in such a wonderful way. I didn't get everything I wanted, when I wanted it, and life was still good.

Why are we as parents so afraid of telling our kids 'no' or 'not this time'? So often it seems easier at the time to just say yes and not have to deal with tears, tantrums, whinging and all the yelling.
I've had all sorts thrown at me as they stomp around the house...
'You're the worst Mum ever!'
'I hate you!'
and my favourite one yet...
'Why don't you love me?'

These meltdowns only reinforce to me that I need to pull back the reins. I need to stop giving them so many things and simplify their lives a little. Focus on what is right here in our home, all the good, all the quality, all the love. All the extra places to be and things to buy and demands to be met can be reduced and hopefully one day, one day, my kids might realise that I don't give them everything, not because I don't love them and not because I want to be mean, but because I hope to raise children who have gratitude and appreciation for special things in life. For all these things that so many others don't ever get to experience. I hope they gain some balance and perspective and understanding as they grow up under my care. And eventually, hopefully as adults and as parents they might look back and even be thankful that sometimes they were just told 'no'.





The Best of Intentions


Remember when you were childless and a little bit er... cocky? 
You might have made statements similar to the kind I used to make, things like...

'When I'm a parent;
I will never use the TV as a babysitter,
I will never let my child eat lollies,
I will never shout at my children,
I will never pat my child to sleep,
I will never let my children jump on the couch,
I will never let my children eat on the couch,
I won't give my child my phone or iPad until they are 10,
I will never let my child wee on the grass (or anywhere in public),
My child will never hit another kid,
My child will never tantrum in public,
My children will never talk to me like that!
My child won't pick their nose in public,
I will never let my child fall off the bed and lastly,
I will never feed my child McDonalds.'

Any of those ring a bell?


I confess. I am guilty of all of the above. As a parent of three children, I will eat my hat and swallow the pride because...well...survival people. Survival. 




Ordinary Days


It's hard not to always want for more. Or to think things like 'When I have this or that I will be happy.'
The very act of always seeking happiness can rob us of contentment.
It's a luxury in itself is it not? The notion that happiness is something we can strive for? Oh such first-world problems.

The fact of the matter is that life throws us good and bad. Sometimes we are happy, and sometimes we are sad. And that's just how it is. Can we not be content with that?

Motherhood is no different. Some days are good and some days are bad and when I strive to have wonderful days, every day, then I burn out. It is surely an unrealistic expectation that your children will have good days every day. That they will eat well and behave seven days a week for fifty-two weeks of the year. Let us not get ourselves down in the dumps because every day isn't extraordinary.

What sort of expectations are we as mothers placing on ourselves (and our children) if we think every day can be perfect?

Let us relish in the lunch making, bag packing, book reading, bathroom cleaning, dinner cooking, bubble bath supervising, goodnight stories. Let us try and see the beauty in the mundane.
Because soon enough these Groundhog days will be behind us and we just might miss them.

If you look closely enough, amidst the tantrums and tiredness and mess, there will be something to be grateful for. I am grateful for these ordinary days.