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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SYL12 weeks 7 and 8: happiness defined

This post updates my progress with the 52 weeks to simplify your life challenge at Home Life Simplified. 

Week 7 Vision boards

I haven't posted pictures of my vision boards for SYL12 challenge because I haven't done any. I just haven't had the time with my daughter's birthday and my son being sick then starting solids and just general life stuff. I'm OK with not doing them, because most of my goals and dreams for the immediate future aren't really things you can print out and stick on a cork board. That said though I do have a visual reminder. Very early on in the piece I did my own version of a vision board without even realising it.

At the same time I was nutting out our family mission statement (over a month ago) I was writing our core values on individual poster-size sheets of paper with crayons. Over a few miserable rainy weather days I let Alexis loose with some crayons and she decorated them. She dragged Corey and I into drawing things with her. We all loved the family time and there were times when I'd have a crayon in one hand and William in the other, while Alexis and Corey drew too. They are perfect for us as a family but I'm not going to share them on here. I thought about it but they are personal, private art works and well, they kind of suck because I'm left handed but I was holding William in my left hand so I had to use my right hand they weren't initially made for public viewing.

Week 8 Happiness

Last week's challenge was to define what makes me happy (and start doing it). I've touched on this a few times in my blogging journey but in a nutshell

I am happy when I have peace in my mind. 

It's so simple but yet so incredibly complicated if I allow it to be. Generally I have peace in my mind by avoiding disappointment, stress, confusion and fear. This past week I have been 'mindful' to be 'mindful'. I dropped everything to take Alexis out to watch the sunset one evening. I've been singing silly songs with the kids. Little things like that make my mood improve. It is also easier to be happy when I am confident that I am  "good enough".

As a long term strategy I've been trying to cut out "internal background noise" and understand my thoughts. I've been slowing down, to take the time to think. I've been spending more time on "God stuff". I've been lowering my expectations of myself and others. I've been learning to be OK with "just OK". I've been learning that if I want something really bad I have to fight for it but if I don't then I need to let it go. These things don't come naturally just yet and it won't happen over night but it is a big step for me in "being happy". Most importantly to be happy I need to get my eyes off "me" and "my circumstances" and look to my God who gives me joy.

I was aware of all this before I read Week 9 go easier on yourself but I'm glad I get another week to practice. :)


Friday, February 24, 2012

Carry Me

Both my kids play hard. Really hard. They learn hard. Alexis runs hard. William learned to roll the other day and he has barely stopped since. They are on the go. They go go go go go as long as they can. They don't like to stop. They fight it for all it's worth. Then they fall hard.

They seem to have got it from me. I have a tendency to go go go as well.

I've learned the hard way that doing too much leads to burn out, so I've been limiting my "burden", "workload", "activities" so to speak. I mean, I do have two under two (although I can't say that for long!). It's supposed to stop me from being overwhelmed and help me do the bit I can easily manage. It might work if I stopped picking things up again and again and again. I say, "no I can't do that" but then it eats away at me so I try anyway.

It caused a bit of a stir when I suggested that Corey and I would not be throwing a birthday party for our daughter Alexis this year because we did not want to overload me at this time. What's the big deal about a tiny little party? We ended up saying yes she can have one and a lovely family member is hosting it and organising most of it and another family member is doing the catering and another family member is doing the cake. Delegating was the only way it was going to get done and it's meant to limit stress as much as humanly possible and we're looking forward to it and it'll all be good. Yet I am stressing about it. I'm trying not to. Have you ever noticed though that when you try extra special hard to not stress about something that you find yourself stressing about it more than if you'd probably just let yourself stress about it a little bit in the first place?

I have a problem with stress. I know this. Most people know this. Hey there's probably a blind China-man in the middle of France somewhere who is aware of this. There's only so much that saying, "don't stress" can do though. I start to think that people who are saying, "don't stress" are saying, "there's nothing to stress about, stop being so stupid and precious and over the top and get your stuff together OK, this isn't all about you. Get over yourself". It's really awkward letting someone else do something that I expect people suspect I should be more than capable of doing by myself. I come up with all the reasons to justify why I can't do it and why I need help and that just brings me down. I should be comfortable enough to say, "it's just too much at the moment, sorry" and leave it at that. I should be OK to let people help me. Most of the time people do want to help. Most of the time people are OK with me saying it's all too much (even if they think I'm pathetically weak they rarely actually say it). It's not really other people's perceptions I'm really afraid of is it? I don't know. Nobody likes to disappoint those we care about but perhaps I wouldn't feel compelled to defend myself (often unnecessarily) if I wasn't battling with my own unrealistic standards of what I should be able to achieve. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, I actually got both kids to sleep at the same time for a little while today (thank-you Jesus) and I really wanted a nap but I just couldn't sleep. All the neighbourhood dogs were chucking a hissy fit at the same time and I've been a bit worked up and I have so many things I should be doing: party bags, cooking food for William, cleaning up from the baking I did, putting some cream on the burn from the baking I did, cleaning up form breakfast (whoops), preparing dinner, finding Alexis' birthday presents and wrapping paper and wrapping them up, replying to text messages and emails and things like that. I also should journal/pray/read/blog all those things I'm meant to be doing for the simplify your life challenge... I just can't. My body is sore. My brain is tired. I'm weary. I just had to stop. I needed to rest. So I did.

I stole my iPod back from the nursery, grabbed some headphones, and started listening to some old favourites. "He Will Carry Me" from Mark Schultz came on. I have always loved this song but for some reason I'd forgotten about it. I'm thankful I found it again today. So I lay in bed listening to it over and over again.

I'll put the YouTube thing for it at the end of the post, but here's some of my favourite lines.
You're strong, I'm weary
I'm holding on but I feel like giving in
But still you're with me
When all hope is gone and I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me
I know I'm broken
but you alone can mend this heart of mine
You're always with me
You never said it would be easy
but you said you'd see me through the storm

I wanted to blog about the song and how awesome it is and how awesome God is and instead I ended up writing out all this angsty stuff again. Argh. It's ok. I'm not going to delete it. It doesn't have to be perfect. My head's a little messy, I'm a little tired, I don't always make sense, sometimes little everyday things like baking a couple of cupcakes or doing dishes are incredibly difficult. Sometimes things aren't that great and even though I have nothing really bad to complain about and life is good, sometimes I need a break I need a rest, life is too much, the day-to-day battles have tired me out and I need to be carried for a while.

My daughter, bless her, struggles so hard against Corey and I at the moment. Every morning and night she's pushing the boundaries to the max. She wants to watch TV, she doesn't want to eat her food, she doesn't want to have her nappy changed, she doesn't want to use the potty either, she wants to sit on the couch and drink a bottle, she's tired, she doesn't want to admit it. She wants to sit on her brother's head, she wants to wake him up when he's sleeping, she wants to have ice-cream every night and she doesn't want to be told no. She doesn't want a bath. She doesn't want to get out of the bath. She doesn't want to get dressed. She doesn't want to get undressed. She is working out she has free-will but yet she is learning she has responsibilities. She has been having trouble with her emerging eyeteeth since before William was born (he's on solids now, so, yeah, it's been a long time) and she is sick of being in pain. Life can be confusing for her sometimes and sometimes she is mean to me because of it. I still love her. I love her more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone who, quite frankly, is just take take take take take sometimes. She is amazingly precious to me and although she lashes out at me and fights against me when I try to take care of her I am always there trying to protect her and to comfort her.

When she finally realises she's exhausted Alexis drops to the floor and lies there. She buries her face in the floor and just lies there still and sobbing. We try not to let her get to that point but sometimes she just keeps pushing. When she gets to that stage and one of us picks her up and carries her to bed she gives the biggest hug ever and kisses us as if to say, "thank you. I'm sorry". Of course it's nicest and easiest for all of us when she realises she's getting tired before she gets to that point. She stands up at my legs with her hands in the air and says "down". "Down" has always meant "pick me up". It started as a mistake and ended up a running joke but "down" will probably always mean "mummy/daddy, carry me".

Wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to drop the bundle to realise I'm tired? I get physically tired a lot but I'm talking about emotionally tired, weary, drained from doing the same old thing over and over again. Tired from making the same old mistakes over and over again. Disappointed from trying so hard, too hard, and still not getting it right. My life is so much easier when I can turn to my Father in Heaven (God, my earthly dad is still very much alive and kicking) and say, "daddy, carry me".

Whether or not I think I should be able to cope with something or not, if I can't then I can't. I can, however, choose to give it to Jesus instead of letting it bring me down. Like a little child, I can just throw my hands in the air and say, "down".
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The milk thief


William seems to wake up every time I express. He normally waits until I'm nearly finished but then wakes and screams his head off. It's as if he knows and is not impressed. "Don't steal my milk mummy!"

He has to wait until I've put the bottle away, which he does not like at all. I can't leave it out and I don't like to ask Corey to deal with it because if he knocked it over spilling it I would most probably cry and possibly yell and maybe even throw things. Expressing takes a fairly long time and it hurts my neck and makes me thirsty and spilled expressed milk is the kind of spilled milk that you do cry over. So Corey tries to distract William the best he can while I seal the bottle and chuck it in the freezer.

Corey is getting used to changing a wriggling squirming screaming irate purple-faced little boy. Corey almost always changes William while I get ready to feed him but the days I express he seems to scream just that little bit louder. I don't worry about it waking Alexis because she's usually been awake and put back to sleep sometime in the last few hours so is in a deep sleep.

I usually only express if Alexis has woken me and I can't get back to sleep without expressing first.(Think falling asleep on your tummy with a couple of cricket balls between you and the bed.) I don't like to wake William to feed him. If I try to dream feed him he just vomits. So expressing it is. I do try to make the most of the opportunities to express when they come along.

I don't really like expressing but I do like going on dates with hubby, going to bible study, etc. If there's one thing I've learned it's do NOT wait until I need a bottle to express one. Pumping when stressed is a no go zone for me. I've tried to rush to get a bottle on a deadline and it just doesn't work. The stillness of 3am is my favourite time to "steal" some milk. I'm not distracted, my "jugs" are full and the milk spurts out easily. I only do one side though incase 
William needs a feed soon. He almost always wakes up. Maybe he has a little radar. "Stop, thief, stop stealing my milk!"   

So once I've put the bottle away in the freezer William is given a mostly-drained breast. It's good for supply to let him fully empty it. Babies do that better than pumps. The drained breast usually puts him to sleep easily and it doesn't give him gas or hiccups. It doesn't help me with the cricket-ball situation though and I always think, "if only the pump wasn't dirty I could express..." I'm less concerned though because I'm tired and my neck hurts and I am eager to get back to sleep after being up for about 3 hours by this stage.

William usually wakes an hour or so later, miserable because he was short-changed. Something had stolen his milk. If he's lucky I'll feed him the full side although sometimes I get Corey to get up to him, after all, "I've been up all night so that we have a bottle so we can go on a date".

William most often is pretty adamant he needs a feed and will drink until he makes himself sick.   He won't let that milk thief strike again. 

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

mug shots

This week's listography challenge at Katetakes5 is mugs . Kate herself called it a ridiculous listography but she has 60 entries so we bloggers must love ridiculous, or mugs. Anyway here's 5 favourite mugs from my kitchen.

This was a wedding present. I use it every morning for a cup of tea. I don't need to remind myself that I'm married but I like the mug. The stable flat base is so handy when I'm really groggy in the morning.

This is my husband's (obviously) milo mug. Only milo is allowed in it. Corey sometimes drinks tea but out of a different mug. My friend made herself a coffee in it once and Corey (who wasn't there) complained about the taste for months afterwards. That particular friend hasn't been invited back over.

This mug is my coffee mug. I used it everyday when I was studying or working but I don't drink coffee anymore because I don't like the effect it has on my breastfed baby. I've tried drinking tea out of it but it just isn't the same. This isn't a good picture but it says, "my cup overflows. Rejoice in the bounty of the Lord."

I have four of these plastic mugs. I don't trust them for hot drinks but they're nice for drinking water out of when everyone else is having a coffee.

I've had this mug since primary school. I still really enjoy it but I don't use it regularly because I don't want to break it and I don't want my two year old daughter to break it. I use it to cheer me up on really feral days though. It has a matching bowl that we use regularly.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

SYL week 6 making goals

Last week's simplify your life challenge (hosted by home life simplified) was to work out our goals. Based on what went right in 2011 , our core values, our mission statement and my wheel of life exercise I have come up with the following:

# to say grace before meals, especially dinner

# to spend time reading the bible and praying three times a week (and then increase gradually to daily by the end of the year)

# to have no Sunday plans other than church at least three weeks a month (we need "down time" as a family, it helps to set us up well for the week ahead.) 

# to read a bible story every night with the kids or to sing a "Jesus song" if they're really tired

# to openly admit when we have done the wrong thing and ask for forgiveness

# to view housework as a way to serve my family as opposed to a tiresome monotonous burdensome waste of my life

# goal is that once something has been forgiven we won't bring it up again

# to somehow find a balance between playing with the kids, doing housework and sleeping 

# to engage my creative brain by making up silly songs to sing for the kids. (I've always done improvised ditties while changing nappies etc and it's something we all enjoy. I'd like to write some of them down.)

# to be more grateful

#goal is for Corey to attend music practice fortnightly and for Karlee to attend ladies' bible study fortnightly. Alexis gets to stay up after William to have a date with whichever parent is home while the other is out.

# goal is to have a date night regularly: going out once a month and staying in once a month

# Corey and I will find time to talk to eachother once both kids are asleep

# to do dishes before bed whenever possible because I hate starting the day with dirty dishes and a messy kitchen (I seem to play catch up all day)

# to keep the kitchen bench clear. This one is a bit of an apple pie in the sky dream but I'll keep working towards it

# to pray together before bed. Aiming to be in the habit of doing this every night by the end of the year

# to get to dreamworld or a local park once a fortnight

# to put music on and crazy dance with the kids three times a week

# to allow Alexis more messy play and outdoor play. On the weekends we are home I want us to be outside playing or creating things or something that I can't do on my own with both kids

# Hoping to eat better but won't be too legalistic because really, something has to give occasionally

That's a lot of goals but there's still 10 months left of this year. It's only 2 a week if you think about it although it's a shame it doesn't work that way.

I don't expect to do them all perfectly but it's nice to have something to work towards. They're so different to my goals for this year that I set in January. They involved cleaning and cooking and getting fit, all those things I felt I *should* do. Hopefully because these new goals are more realistic and personal they will be easier to achieve.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do you seriously expect me to eat this gunk?


As I mentioned in 'Sometimes we need a little stupid', we gave William his first tastes of solids on Sunday.

He has been grabbing at food on our plates for weeks. He's been babbling away to Alexis for weeks in secret code for "feed me some of that I'm starving". He is quite intrigued with watching us eat. He gets excited when Alexis eats ice cream or lollies or nuggets or pasta or sandwiches or pear or grapes or peas or pretty much anything.

On Sunday I was fed up with feeding all the time so we thought we would give him a go. He is only four months old so we tried him with a tiny bit of farex made on my milk. That's what the recommendation is to start on these days. Queensland health says to wait til 6 months but I didn't think that was ever going to happen.

William was so excited when Corey put him in the highchair and put a bib on him. He was pretty excited seeing the big bright packet coming out of the cupboard. He was interested while we were mixing it up. He smiled with amusement as the spoon came up to his lips. He tried it. He wasn't impressed. He gave it a second chance and he burst into tears.

His face said it all, "you seriously don't expect me to eat this junk do you?" He kept crying until we got him out and he got his precious booby feed. We've tried three times now and it's been pretty much the same.

I'm glad, relieved and honoured that he enjoys breastfeeding so much. I'm happy to keep going until at least his first birthday. It's nice to feel useful and breastfeeding is so convenient.

My question is now we've started with solids do we keep going or do we say, "he's not ready" and wait a few weeks? There's every possibility he doesn't like farex, I mean, have you tasted it? It's very very bland but that's the point.

Alexis never ate it plain once she tasted her second food but she did at least tolerate farex initially. When we started her there was no denying that she was ready. We didn't start her til 5 months, maybe the extra month made the difference. Maybe she was just a big eater.  She chowed down on fruit and vegetables like a fully grown man. She has a sweet tooth now though which is possibly due to being given sweet potato as her first 'real' food but more likely due to her being a 2 year old.

I'm not sure whether to offer William something else or wait a bit longer. He seemed so keen a few weeks ago but I made him wait. Maybe he was growing then and my milk has caught up. He doesn't really need solids, he's thriving on boob juice, but I'm a bit excited about including him in family meals and feeding a little less. It'd be awesome if feeding him solids allowed him to sleep through the night (I can dream) but I'm told that's an old wives tale.   
He's still so little. We both love feeding. There's no tearing hurry. I just don't want to withhold good things from him. It's easier to keep him away from food and not have to go back to pureeing and a hundred little containers filling my freezer. It's lovely to guard the precious breastfeeding bond with him too. I don't want to hold him back though.

I guess time will tell. He will let us know what he wants. The problem is he wants icecream and cheeseburgers and chips and waterbottles and feet and bed sheets and human fingers. Hmmm.

What's your experience with starting babies on solids?     

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

90 minutes alone with 3 under 2

On Monday my niece spent about an hour and a half at my house while my sister Manda had an appointment. Isabella is a lovely little thing, very intelligent and very well behaved considering she's not even 20 months old.

I was freaking out for days leading up to it because
a) I still had my two with me
b) we didn't know how long Manda would be out for
c) it was the middle of the day when young children are starting to get cranky and I'm starting to get cranky again too
d) I still had my two with me (yes I know I said this twice).

I didn't know how I'd juggle William (4 months) with two very excited very boisterous very bouncy young girls (my Alexis is nearly 2 and Izy is 20 months). I knew breastfeeding William would be hard. I know getting William to sleep would be hard. I knew Alexis would not have her nap. I had little hopes zof getting time to eat. I was worried the girls would Chase eachother (they only did a little) and fall over on the tiles (they didn't thankfully) and get badly hurt. I was worried I wouldn't be able to put William down at all. If he hadn't slept I wouldn't have been able to because putting a baby on the floor with two spinning twirling over excited blonde bombshells is a disaster.

Surprisingly it turned out ok.

It was busy, stressful and tiring but it was fun. I am pleasantly surprised that I coped as well as I did. I did kind of collapse for a few minutes when Manda got back but I recovered quickly.

It was manageable because they're all good children. I know Isabella well and can interpret her vocabulary and body language and that really helped. I also cheated a little bit by using TV and food but hey, who wouldn't! Isabella never stops moving but at least Wot-Wots stopped Alexis in her tracks long enough for me to get William off to sleep while Isabella jumped up and down on the spot.

Once William was snoring away in the cot I was able to have a bit of fun with the girls. We even ventured out to the wheelie bin and played with the water tap for a bit. Then William woke (he catnaps, which drives me batty at times) and we did colouring in together. I can fit three babies on my lap, did you know that? I found it very disturbing and very cool at the same time. 

It was all well and good until I had to work out how to get up to let Manda in. Next time I'll send her off with a set of keys I think!

It was fun for a little while but quite intense. I take my hat off to anyone who does it everyday. I barely got time to use the toilet let alone get any work done. Then again if the girls saw eachother constantly the novelty factor might get old and they would settle down. Maybe. Possibly. Thankfully I'm not about to find out. I love Isabella dearly but I also love quiet days at home with cuddly snuggly William and Alexis my little helper. After a day of 3 under 2 normal days seem quite calm.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the BITCH is back

I was still pregnant with William when I wrote a post called BITC&H . It's probably one of my favourite posts despite it being based on a nasty word. I like it because it's funny (well I think it is, how about you be the judge by clicking the link) but more than that I like it because so many people, particularly mothers, can identify with it.

There are times when I'm, well, to put it bluntly, a bit of a bitch. I'm not alone. It's common for mums of young children to be accused of turning into bitches. We are aware of it and don't like Being Incredibly Tired Cranky and Hormonal but sometimes we just don't know how to stop.

There are days when I wake up tired and cranky and I seem to mess up within minutes. There are days when my best intentions and hardest efforts can't save me. There are days where I think I'm making some headway but I'm exhausted by 3pm let alone by the time hubby gets home so by the time we get the kids to bed I'm a rather loud zombie. There are days that are just bad days. I'm done with beating myself up over it.

Yes some days I'm just a bitch and nothing you can say or do will make me happy. My job as a mum and a wife and a human being is to limit those days and limit the damage they cause. I have two very precious little people who need me. I know this yet this statement is very important:


I have very little control over myself when I'm tired and cranky and hormonal and stressed and overwhelmed and irritable and a little too intense. Yes self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and a 'good Christian' should be able to control their actions, their words and even their thoughts to an extent. Yet I can't always control myself while I'm in the heat of the moment. And although sometimes I do/say things that are definitely not ok, dwelling on it doesn't make it any better.

It's tempting to blame it on the hormones or the sleep depravation. I've had men tell me to stop making excuses and I've had women (including doctors and nurses) tell me it's ALL because of those two things. Whilst I am responsible for my own behaviour, these two things really don't help. I am so tired at times that all four limbs have pins and needles. I'm so tired at times that I am absolutely albeit temporarily convinced that every single word uttered by anybody within earshot is a personal dig at me. I'm so tired at times that I just lie there rolled up in a little ball and sob. Sometimes I get furious when I'm expected to get up when I can't see an urgent reason. Being incredibly tired does that to people. 

Sometimes I get so tired I think "if my husband really loved me he wouldn't let me get this tired." (Can't he keep the children quiet in the morning while I go back to bed while feeding Alexis, feeding himself, showering, dressing himself, getting his things together, doing the dishes and making his lunch? No? Then why couldn't he have at least made his lunch and done the dishes the night before while Alexis was asleep and I was feeding William?) Sometimes I am so busy being miserable that I miss the good things he does. Of course it is great he was building a duplo house with Alexis while holding William on his lap instead of letting the tv babysit. Somedays I get my priorities wrong.

Most days I get up when the first child wakes without grumbling and I'm legitimately happy to see them. Some days I just want more sleep and if William has fed not long ago I think it's within my rights to go back to bed for a bit because I let Corey sleep in yesterday (jealously is pure evil) and this is wrong. It doesn't help it just makes the mornings rushed. Sometimes though I know I need more sleep or I will either fall asleep mid sentence when reading stories leaving William and Alexis unsupervised or snap at someone. When I have enough energy I am a very loving, very competent, very fun, very creative mother. When I'm exhausted I'm not. I'm not superhuman. I have limits. The best thing I can do for my family is to realise this.
Then I need to communicate my sleep needs respectfully and clearly. Corey tries to please me but my needs change. Sometimes I want him to keep the kids quiet while I go back to sleep (it doesn't always work but at least he tries). When I'm really really tired I want him to do things to make my days easier because even if I do get to go back to bed I'm still going to be sluggish and sore and incompetent. When I'm energetic and feeling good is when I want him to stop and play with the kids while I rush around. Men aren't always perceptive of what mood we are in. Men, it's never a good idea to wake us up to ask. When I'm really tired it's incredibly difficult to explain. Maybe we should have two code words, one for "please just keep them quiet because my head is aching. I'll do the housework later" and one for "if you don't do the dishes and sterilize ummies and bottles my whole day is going to be a disaster and by the time you get home I'll be bordering on hysterical".  Really what I want is for him to KNOW what I need, to VALUE what I do, to REALISE I need more sleep and to SHOW me that he cares.

Sometimes its really hard not to get down about never feeling quite well enough or the mountain of housework that never ends or the two little darlings fighting for my attention ALL DAY LONG and often at night too. It certainly isn't easy being tugged at all day and hearing that whiney noise all day long. I'm an introvert by nature and a retired over achiever and sometimes I am completely baffled by my new life as a mum.  

Yes there are good days, brilliant days, yes my family is so incredibly precious to me, yes my children are the most beautiful kind loving adorable cherubs I have ever seen and I thank God for them daily, but sometimes just sometimes I don't really want to get out of bed. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I'm just a bitch.

Sometimes I can fake myself out of being cranky by putting on some music and jumping around or running after Alexis shouting "I'm Batman" or crawling around on my hands and knees going "roar!" Sometimes I chuck a dvd on for Alexis, set William up in his rocker to watch me and tackle the kitchen head on in the hope that regaining control of the housework will improve my mood. Some days I can turn bad mornings into wonderful afternoons. There are days though when I just survive til hubby's home or nap time if I'm lucky enough to get one and that's ok.

I'm not a bitch. I'm not useless. I'm not worthless. I'm not impossible to please. I'm just tired.     

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sometimes we need a little stupid

Sunday 10pm

Sometimes I'm a great mum. Sometimes I'm not so great. Lack of sleep, sickness and stress can take their toll. Sometimes the monotony gets a bit much. Every now and then I throw caution to the wind and have a bit of fun. Sometimes this works out great. Sometimes I'm just plain stupid.

Giving William his first try of farex while I'm sick is probably not so wise because if he reacts badly I won't know if he's sick from me or reacting to the farex. Also I should be feeding him often so he gets lots of antibodies. Still it was the weekend, he was grabbing at our lunch, he's incredibly strong, he's been diving at our food for weeks and quite frankly I'm sick of feeding him constantly. So farex it was, silly or not.

Later on that day we get both kids to sleep at the same time (a rare event in deed) and end up talking about bills and budgets and all that jazz. It got too much for me. It had been a big day. It was storming. I wanted a nap but it was something we needed to do. So we broke open some chocolates that had survived in the pantry since Christmas. Corey surprised me with a glass of lemonade, "some bubbly for you my dear?"

So the weekend before Valentines day we're budgeting while drinking lemonade and eating chocolate. Slightly strange. I know that chocolate makes William a bit grizzly in the tummy but I did it anyway. Silly.   Corey was busy writing and calculating so I ate half the box. Not a great idea.

A few hours later I'm paying for it big time with a pain in the gut.

We decide to take the kids grocery shopping at 8pm because they're still awake from a late arvo nap. Not wise but fun nonetheless and a LOT easier with Corey's help.  Alexis went to bed once we got home without even a second of protest.

William on the other hand, tummy ache. Poor kid. Feed makes it a little better. Then he's wide awake. He Pooped and felt a little better. He almost got himself to sleep but then he got the hiccups. Poor kid gets irrate. Feed him til they stop he finally falls asleep.
Giving child solids for first time, ok. Skipping opportunity for nap same day, not wise. Spending that time eating chocolate fun. Spending that time eating half a massive box of chocolate. Idiotic. Eating that much chocolate when I know it upsets William. Mean. Eating that much chocolate on the day William started solids for the first time: just plain stupid.

Doing all this when I've been unwell: maybe I need my head read.

That said though William is fine and sleeping now and apart from the pain man it was fun. Fun day Sundays are important every now and then. Doing it the day before I mind my niece (meaning 3 kids under 2) is pretty stupid too but hey, meh, sometimes we need a little stupid. I might need a pick me up tomorrow. It's ok, I didn't eat the whole box, I left some for "hair of the dog". I'm stupid sometimes but I'm not *that* stupid. 

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some things are too valuable to miss

Us mothers place a lot of guilt on ourselves don't we. I doubt you'd find a mother who said they had done everything perfectly. We all have things we wish we could change, things we wish we could take back and things we wish we had done. Many mothers feel they have missed out on things, whether through being at work, being busy with other children, being busy with housework, being distracted with Facebook or blogging or whatever it was, or just not fully appreciating the joy that is being a mum.

I've tried really hard to not only be home with my children but also to be home WITH my children if you know what I mean. It's hard when I'm so tired. It's hard when there's so many things fighting for my time and attention. It's hard when I have a tendency to daydream. For the most part though I do make it a priority to spend time everyday with my kids on their level. I switch the TV off, I leave my phone out of reach, I make sure the kids are clean and fed and I get down on the floor.

We play blocks or trains or tea parties or playdoh or dollies or we draw or we roll around on the floor tickling eachother. Actually I've realised it really doesn't matter WHAT we are playing with just that we play. On Friday we played with ribbons and hair clips, on Thursday it was oven mits and a plastic duck with Alexis and a cushion and feet with William, on Wednesday it was animals, on Tuesday it was cardboard boxes (Alexis turned them into a car) and on Monday we just danced to music over and over and over again.

Yes I encourage the kids to play by themselves at times throughout the day because the ability to amuse themselves is a great skill (and I have work I need to do). Yes I encourage Alexis to "help" with the laundry and the dishes and tidying up and baking because I believe it's valuable to let her see what mummy does and take part in it. Yes I spend time reading stories to the kids because my husband and I believe a love for reading is crucial for both academic and creative learning (and it's a great excuse for cuddles). I believe these things are important and I believe in the power of play.

I don't know the fancy words for different types of play. I sometimes have a goal or agenda but most of the time I just hope to have fun with them. It means the world to my kids. They let me know that because when I get too busy with distractions they don't stop grizzling til they get it.
So I make it a priority.

My babies will be young for such a short time. There are things I already regret missing. William's baby book is empty. I never wrote down his first smile or when he first sat with support or when he first blew a raspberry or when he first really noticed his hands or when he first giggled. I'm missing details about Alexis too. I haven't got a record of when Alexis got which teeth or when she had her first haircut. I haven't written down when we moved either of them into their own room or when we moved Alexis into a bed. I'll never get these moments back to work out when it was but at least I can remember the moments because I was there. I was physically present and I was paying attention. William is so close to rolling over, he can already get half way there. It's not going to take long until he gets the strength to fling his head and shoulders over to meet his bottom half. I do not want to miss it.  

So I'm going to keep reminding myself that spending "idle time" with my children matters so greatly to me. I know it but sometimes I get discouraged when I'm overwhelmed by the state of the house and feeling a little guilty for serving Alexis plain pasta with peas for dinner (again) and upset with myself for still forgetting to post the microwave booklet to my friend (she's been asking for it since before William was born) or when I really want to serve at church but just don't think the timing is right. Recently there have several potentially great blog posts that I have given up on because I just haven't had the time to do to them to the standard I'd wanted to. I'm sick at the moment and it's when we are sick that we are forced to slow down and just do the essentials. 

I would have all the time in the world at the moment if I was to prioritise things a little differently. If I didn't pray, read the bible, worship or go to church I might have more time to myself and if I didn't go on dates with my husband we wouldn't have to spend a week trying to convince Alexis that she doesn't get to stay up so late on normal nights. If I was to ignore my children I could have a fantastic blog or a tidy house. If I gave up on sleep I might even be able to do both. It wouldn't take long though before I realised I was miserable and missing out on so much. I am young. I can do all sorts of things in a few years. My children need me now. So I thumble along blogging and cleaning and cooking the best I can but I hope I never forget the most important things. Some things are just too valuable to miss.


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Friday, February 10, 2012

Alexis is nearly two! Party? Yay or nay.

It's less than a month until Alexis turns two. I can hardly believe it at times and yet sometimes she seems so much older. She is tall, solid, and very clever. Whether I believe it or not though, her second birthday is nearly here.

I haven't planned her a party. Does that make me a terrible mother?

At this particular moment (while I'm sick with yet another cold and her brother has gone to sleep for the first time all day after being up most of the night and she is normally asleep but she is refusing to just because she can clearly see how exhausted I am and how much I need a nap) I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just the slightest bit cross with her. This isn't why though.

For one thing we've only just confirmed that Corey will actually be home for her birthday. Secondly William is only 4 months old so I've had my hands full and my mind on other things. Thirdly my husband is transitioning to monthly pay just in time for her birthday and we've never had to really budget before so we're being a bit scabby until we know what to expect. The fourth reason is, well, the weather is weird. It's either raining or boiling hot. So where would we have it? The fifth reason is, well, she's only two. If we have a massive party now we will have trouble keeping up the high standard in the future.

Last year we had two parties, one for her little friends at my sister's work and one for family at home. They were both wonderful on the day but both had hiccups and stress. I'm not sure if I could handle throwing a party with a 4 month old on my hip, although at least I don't have morning sickness this year like I did last year and at least this year the guest of honour is less likely to be overwhelmed by the amount of people and want to spend the whole time being breastfeed in another room.

I want to do something special for her but I'm just not sure where or what. To be honest I'd rather just have a special outing just the four of us but I don't want her to look back when she's older and ask why we didn't throw her a party. Plus there's the issue of family and friends expecting there will be a party. I had to rely heavily on family to organise and set up and cook etc last year and considering I can never get both kids to sleep at the same time I doubt this year will be any different. Is it totally bad form to say, "if you want her to have a party can you do it?"

I'm the sort of person who doesn't want to do something if I don't think I can do it right. I would rearrange the house if I could, and decorate and bake and cook and clean and plan fun games. I would love to but realistically I know I don't have the time. I'm barely keeping up with washing clothes and dishes. I don't want Alexis to miss out on things just because of her little brother but her refusing to go down for a day sleep without a major meltdown every single day and her keeping herself up late every single night are the main reasons I don't want to undertake such a big project.   

Is it ok just to take a cake to playgroup and have the family around for a BBQ? It's not like she's going to remember it. Why do I feel like a terrible mum for feeling like this? Don't parents have enough to deal with without fear of being judged on a party or lack thereof.

Did your kids have parties for their second birthdays? What did you do?


Monday, February 6, 2012

Simplify your life weeks 4 and 5: balance. (hmmm.)

It's been 2 weeks since I last posted a 52 weeks to simplify your life post. This is because last week Debra gave us a rest week to catch up or reflect. I used the full two weeks on week 4's challenge which was finding ballance and I must admit I still haven't done the wheel of life exercise. I will get to it, but first I'd like to ramble a little about my thoughts about balance over the last two weeks.

Balance is something I really struggle with. I always have. Jokes about frequent ear infections as a child and being dizzy aside, I have always had trouble prioritising and choosing what to do when I can't do everything I want to do. It's probably the single greatest cause of conflict in my marriage because Corey is not a fan of my indecisiveness. I try to pour my whole heart into anything I do but I want to do it all and all I end up doing is wasting time refusing to make up my mind. That doesn't help anyone. Corey wants more family time, which he called balance in his core values, so when I saw balance was a challenge on simplify your life I figured I'd better take it seriously.

You know what? It's really hard.

I was told as a kid "you can do anything you put your mind to". I say the same to my kids. The problem is I can't do EVERYTHING I put my mind to. I have to learn to choose. So, without doing the wheel of life exercise I already know what I waste my time on and what causes tension and stops me doing things I want to do. These "little" time wasters are:

  • not being able to choose what the best thing to do is
  • being upset with myself for not being able to do anything everything
  • trying to reason with Alexis when she's over tired and cranky and really just needs a sleep
  • stressing 
  • getting upset with hubby dearest when he doesn't see things as urgent as I would. 
Corey is perfectly happy to sit on his butt playing a game on his phone while I'm in a flap over what to do first. I used to see this as a pathological flaw in him but I'm starting to see that calming down and resting a little bit first can sometimes be very handy. Perfect balance for us as a family lies somewhere in the middle, we know this. I need him to voluntarily help around the house (oh he helps, he helps lots, but I need him to do it because he takes pride in our house not because he's sick of me nagging him to do it) so I can relax properly when we have family time. He needs me to lower my standards and get in and get it done whichever way I can rather than obsessing over stupid little things.

So, I haven't done the wheel of life yet. I'm about to, as I said, but I wanted to write this down first for my own sake. Over the last two weeks I've been realising things and working on them immediately.

  • although housework is not a huge priority for either of us we have a young family and it's important to keep the house safe for them and thus it's always going to need to be done. 
  • I have 2 kids under 2 so I know full well I'm not getting the amount of alone time or creative time or intellectual stimulation that I would like. 
  • we know we don't get as much rest and relaxation time or date time as we would like but we are already making steps to get as much as we can. 
  • my way of coping with this has been to throw myself even more into "keeping house" in the last two weeks to set up more manageable systems and also to focus more on investing in our marriage over the last week and a bit.
  • we've also been focusing on disciplining Alexis (firmly but lovingly) so that she begins to respect us and know there are consequences for her actions. 
  • We've also been getting more involved in our local church for support and accountability and focused on our first point in our mission statement which was seeking God. 
  •  These things have meant LESS time for the things I crave and also less sleep, which is dangerous when sleep is a precious commodity. Yet I think it is necessary because if these things help me limit the damaging time wasters in the near future then they're definitely going to provide more time soon. 
Maybe it was just "justifiable procrastination", instead of doing the wheel of life exercise but it paid off anyway. I hope. 

Ok, let's do this wheel thing.

It probably would be different every day I did it, but as a general guide it's something like this

I'm not really that unhappy. It's reasonable to have being a mum taking up most of my life at the moment. I don't think mums with young kids can achieve 'perfect' balance. I must work on putting God and Corey ahead of the kids. Apart from that, what I am aiming towards, is including music, art, fun etc in my normal day to life by doing it with the kids and with church and in my marriage etc etc. I've started it already and it has been good. Anyway that's for next week's goal setting post. As for sleep, well, I can sleep when the kids start school can't I? ;) I don't think I'll ever get enough sleep so instead of spending so much time worrying about it perhaps it's time to just get used to it. 

Sorry if I'm a little cranky, I should be having a nap. William is up anyway I just realised. LOL. I have a four month old, this is as balanced as it's gonna get for now. 

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

I smack because I care

I wrote most of this this morning after reading this post by My Big Nutshell. Gemma's post has some great points, for example that instead of making smacking illegal the government should pour money into parenting classes/counselling. I agree, however I worry about what might be taught in these classes. Parenting is a very sensitive topic, especially with regards to discipline, and the last thing people need is more guilt. We have guilt thrown at us about everything from every angle and all most parents want to do is what's best by their kids.

Jess from was brave enough to say "I smack my kids," and you know what, so do I. I don't smack William, obviously, as he is only 4 months old, but I do smack Alexis.

I believe what's best for my kids is what's in the bible because I believe God loves them and knows what's best. This is what I've found.

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 23:13Do . not withhold discipline from a child, if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.

Even though it's there plain as day I didn't want to smack the child I love so much and so held off as long as possible. I thought we could reason with her and remove temptation etc but try as we may Corey and I couldn't. We were getting frustrated with her and she was losing all respect for us. Kids need boundaries. Kids need discipline to be kept safe and to learn what's right and what's wrong.

Smacking has been accused of being lazy parenting. I'm sorry but I cannot devote every second of my day following Alexis around saying "no darling don't do that how about we do this instead." I tried it. She thinks it's a game. She's two years old and although most of the time she is sweetness and light sometimes she can be pretty evil. Smacking isn't easy though either, especially when it's done out of love and being careful not to just react to difficult situations.

Corey and I agree that completely losing our cool and whacking her out of utter frustration is more damaging than consistent smacking. Now when I say consistent I don't mean smacking her every day just in case she has done anything wrong. What I mean is there are clear rules and expectations with clear consequences.

Alexis is well aware that if she hits or bites her brother she will be smacked. She knows that if she stands on the dining table she will be smacked. She knows that if she climbs her bookshelf she will be smacked. She knows that if she runs away in a carpark she will be smacked. No exceptions. Do you know what? She's stopped hitting her brother, she's stopped climbing onto the dining table and she's stopped running away. Smacking works.

Smacking is not the default for everything. If she is not allowed to play with something because it's dangerous we say "bitey. Ta for mummy/daddy" and take it away and praise her for giving it freely. If she is frustrated with her little friends we encourage her to calm herself. We cuddle her in close and sing/distract with surroundings rather than time out (because for Alexis time out doesn't work). She also knows that if she gets herself completely hysterical and cuddling her close doesn't calm her down we will try to remove her. If she then scratches and bites us then she gets a smack. We give her a warning because she is emotional. Most times when we say, do we need to smack you" she says "no" and calms down.

Essentially smacking is only something we do when she willfully disobeys us and when what she is doing is dangerous. We do it gently, on the fatty part of her leg, but hard enough for it to hurt. We don't do her permanent damage but it has to be a little painful otherwise there's no point.

She knows that mummy and daddy don't like smacking her but that we do it because Jesus commands us to teach her right from wrong. Before we tell her we are going to smack her because it is the consequence for her disobedience. Afterwards we kiss it better and she says sorry and we cuddle and give her a dummy. She always knows we love her. She knows that we do it because we care about her.

The first few times really shocked her but it did not take her long at all to get the point. She has behaved so well since we started although admittedly it's only been a short time. To be honest I think she is benefiting from the consistency.

The good thing about smacking is that the punishment is quick, the offence it is dealt with quickly and then we can move on. She is almost always over it very quickly unlike if we were to remove a toy or something like that. It's also, believe it or not, helped me stay calmer because I am not continually getting frustrated over telling her no over and over again. For Alexis with her particular personality type I know it upsets her so very much when I yell and get cross with her and we know it is better for us to give her a little smack so she knows we are serious and she will not get away with that behaviour.

Personally I think it's a good discipline measure for her age. We don't want to be smacking her when she's in school (and certainly not once she reaches puberty) but for now she does not resent us for it and it gets the message across. Society has it backwards trying to reason with toddlers and say "because I said so" to teenagers. We are hoping that by instilling a respect for authority in her now we will avoid a number of discipline problems later. We know we don't have all the answers. We know we are young. We know we will learn as we go. Yet we know that we are doing what we think is right and we know it has been working. Will we do the same with William when he is older, we probably will, if it works for him. We will NOT smack him until he is old enough to know that what he is doing is wrong though.

I'm not saying that smacking is for everyone. I don't recommend you go and smack your child. I'm not a psychologist or a doctor or anything other than a mother. All I can say is that for us in our particular situation it has worked wonders for her behaviour and I will not feel guilty for it.

As Alexis' parents we have the right to choose how we discipline her. Yes it is her body and she should have a choice as to whether she is smacked or not and she does. When we say, "you can do what mummy/daddy asked (and insert specific instruction here) or you can have a smack" we are giving her a choice. How we discipline our children is our decision because it is our responsibility. When we stand before God on judgement day it's us alone who will have to answer for our parenting.

I realise the government has to do something because child abuse is on the rise and it is totally unacceptable. There is however a very big difference between a smack and a case of abuse. Making smacking illegal won't stop child abuse because the people who abuse their children don't do it thinking they're just smacking them out of love. They do it for a number of reasons, none of which I will pretend to understand. As Gemma said, legislating against smacking isn't the answer, helping parents get the help they need is far more useful. The only problem is, where do people go to get their help? Who draws the line on what is acceptable and what is not? Is strict discipline any more damaging than a gross lack of discipline? I sincerely doubt it.

I don't expect everyone will agree with this. By all means post your views. (If you're not already totally bored with this subject from commenting on the other blogs. Sorry this is the first chance I've had to get online.) I value your comments. Please be respectful of other people though as any inappropriate comments will be deleted. Thank you.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

need.... to.... focus......

I'm putting this out there because I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this.

I proctastinate. I'm not lazy I just don't always do what I know is the urgent thing to do. Throughout highschool and university my room would be very messy without bothering me until suddenly it was time to study and I'd just have to clean it. I'd say it's because I wanted a neat and tidy study environment, which was true.  I did study better once I had cleaned my room but sometimes when time was limited and I should have pushed through and studied anyway I really struggled to do so. I used to call it "justifiable procrastination".

We all do it to a certain extent but I am terrible at it. Allow me to set the scene for you.

I have a friend coming over in a matter of minutes and I have a rare window of opportunity to clean while William sleeps and Alexis watches Wiggles. The kitchen bench is trashed with paperwork and empty water bottles and a few half unpacked bags from various outings. The kitchen table is covered in wheetbix. The floor needs vacuuming. I haven't checked the visitors toilet but it most likely needs cleaning. There is much to do. What am I going to cook for dinner? Focus. I go to put the cereal back in the pantry. 

Suddenly I am overcome by an irrepressible urge to examine the contents of my pantry and remove out of date items and see what needs cooking soon. My pantry is huge and well stocked. I'm trying to limit waste. It's a job I do need to do. It doesn't really need to be done NOW though does it?

Sure the bins go out tomorrow morning and it'd be best to do it before then. I still have this afternoon though. I eventually realise this and tear myself away. I'm unsatisfied and it is difficult to not continue. I write it on the mental to-do-list and think to myself how I should put a to-do-list on paper.

I step into the bedroom for a minute to clean my teeth and notice all the laundry that needs to be put away. I also need to take the dirty clothes to the wash. I need to get yesterday's playgroup morning tea leftovers out of the car too. Hmmm. Gross. At least there is nothing perishable in there this time.

Focus. I need to focus. I need somewhere clean for my friend to sit and something clean for her to lay her baby on to play. That is most important for now.

Actually no now I need to go to the bathroom. And I should change my shirt because it has baby spew on it. Alexis' dvd is skipping. Focus. This would make a good blog post.

Is there any wonder I never get anything done?

Please tell me there's a cure for this? I suspect it has something to do with sleep. Hmm is there a magic pill or something?

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