29 May 2013

What is normal anyway?

'Normal' is so quickly changed. We get used to things in our lives going a certain way most of the time, and then it becomes different. We reach a new normal. Sometimes a step forward, sometimes a step back. Sometimes we just move sideways into a different kind of normal. One thing I learned having babies, there. You get used to something, and it changes, quick as a flash! Baby sleeps for one and a half hours in the afternoon, then Bam! Fourty-five minutes. Baby doesn't like pumpkin, then Bam! They love it.

Anyway, this post actually wasn't supposed to be about babies... I was just locking the back door for the night and a tiny little 'new normal' detail struck me. I thought that I won't have to lock the door again before I go out tomorrow morning, because no-one will have gone out of it between now and then. You see, Before, before Hayden's accident, he would leave the house via the back door on his way to the garage to get on his bike, well before the rest of us were up (or at least coherent), leaving it unlocked. (It can't be locked again from the outside.) Now, he comes to school with us in the car, in time for the first bell. Therefore, the door stays locked. See? Nothing major, just a tiny detail that has changed without me taking notice of it until now.

I'll admit, that as I turned around to behold my Man relaxing behind me (good, just what he should be doing!), that I had a wee twinge of longing to go back to the old normal. While I still have my positive attitude and Big-Picture glasses, I'll admit that they've become a little battered around the edges these last few weeks.

I'm 30 weeks pregnant. I'm really tired. My pelvis is sore and my back/left hip is intensely painful. I have three busy (gorgeous) children. I have house renovations going on. I have so many things I'd like to be doing - friends to care for, progress to make in the bathroom, crafty things for my baby and my friends babies-to-be-born - and no energy to get to them. I have church and school projects to finish. Blah blah blah. That's enough moaning.

But it's good to have a husband who has slowed down. It's so nice to spend just about every evening together AND get to bed at a good time every night! It's good to have been forced to step up and create new, good patterns and habits around our home. Sure, every time someone pops over to drop something off the house looks like a whirlwhind blew threw it, but I'm just going to call that bad timing... (Maria, the house looks 1000% better than when you stopped in a few hours ago!) It's good to be so well supported by Hayden's school, Hamilton Christian School, and especially his principal. It's good to know so many people have been and are praying for us. It's good to see God's grace in the small things, even if I've been ungrateful in my receiving them.

I think life is always 'normal', for the person living it. It doesn't look the same for everyone. Someone else's normal is not mine - and at times that can be a source of thanksgiving! And 'normal' isn't static. You can't define it, because, like I said at the start, you define it and the next moment it's changed!

At the moment, my normal is more difficult than my old normal. But it's up to me (by God's grace, because I've seen my own strength isn't enough) to step up to the plate and embrace it, not lamenting what was. Notice how I didn't just say 'deal with it?' Highs and lows are part of being a human, and for me (and I'd like to think all of us) there are always joys to find. Sometimes the joys are obvious. Sometimes you just need to see that the joys are the little things you usually take for granted. Sometimes the only joy you can find is, like I read somewhere today, that you woke up in a warm bed this morning. But there'll be something. Somethings, usually.

I have much to be joyful about. So much. I'm going to attempt to focus on those things. Remind me when I forget, will you?

24 May 2013


Excuse the phone photo - lost my battery charger for the real camera...

Thankful today for the absolutely beautiful sunshine and the even more beautiful friends who came to hang out today.

Now my washing is folded and put away (by me!), washed and hung in the sun (by Glenys!), dishes done (Glenys again!) and benches cleaned (by Renee!). Now I feel less stressed and can get down to putting away the detritus strewed around the house by a plethora of happy children playing together - known as 'good mess' - and I'll be under control and pleasant again!

Now to convince Rosie that Circus Quirkus will be fun tonight (and not terrifying, as she seems to think)...

23 May 2013

Doing It All?

Enjoying some lollies that Oma bought

I have been wanting to blog a lot more than I have been able to lately. With my husband being mostly out of action - at the moment that looks like getting out of bed as late as possible and into bed as soon as he arrives home again - my list of Things To Do, already over a mile long, has now grown to about 3 miles long.

It's impossible to get everything done, and a little depressing to look around at all the things I couldn't get to each day. I'll admit to feeling a little flat lately. I suppose that if I weren't growing this beautiful baby right now, things would be different because I'd have more energy. I'm trying to be gracious, knowing that I shouldn't be a hard task-master to myself but instead realistically understanding that life is just busy right now. I'll admit to some worry over knowing that life is only about to get busier with a newborn thrown into the mix after the next 10-ish weeks!

So please excuse me while I have my sad face on for just a little while. I want to be a vibrant part of my wonderful blogging community, but it's too hard to participate right now. I do love to see all your beautiful projects and photos and read your wonderful stories, even though it reminds me of all the things I'd like to do but can't right now. So keep them coming, and remind me of what life looks like on the other side!

Onwards and upwards!

22 May 2013

Garden Duty

All photos courtesy of our garden in better, sunnier times.

I've just come back inside from 45 minutes in the garden. 45 minutes spent solely tearing out weeds or dead vegetable plants, most or which were bigger than the plants themselves. I won't say it felt good to get out (especially when it started raining!), as tiredness is beginning to get the better of me these days. But it certainly is a relief to have gotten a job done that has been nagging at me for a number of weeks now. (Does anyone else's garden nag at them too?)

Next on the garden list is to mow the lawns - just waiting for a time of day when the grass isn't either wet from dew in the morning or rain in the afternoon! And then I'll ask hubby to dig over the vege garden when he feels up to it.

I'm not sure about my humble vege patch. I'm certainly no green thumb, and anything edible I grow is almost entirely up to the goodness of God, the soil, sunshine and rainfall than my paltry efforts. I do love being able to eat from our own garden. And I love the money it saves, when I can get something from outside for our consumption and know I haven't just bought it at the shop for $2.99 a kilo, or something.

But my patch is a bit forlorn and ugly looking. It was lovingly dug and edged by my wonderful Man sometime last year and it's in a good spot, but as I was outside, I began contemplating raised beds... Wooden boxes that would match our sandpit and deck planter box... Easy to use... Easy to keep pest free... Bit of a cover-up for our not-particularly-glamorous tin fence... Hmmm, I can see the positives. Now to find the money, time and uninjured husband to get it done... Do you think we could make them out of reclaimed plaster board and an old bath?

16 May 2013

Girl's Weekend!

I am so excited for tomorrow! We're goin' on a girl's weekend! Woo hoo!

We did the same thing a year ago - see us up above? - and had such a good time that we vowed to do it again. So this year we booked our date in plenty of time so that we could all make it fit with our families and prepare our husbands children for a weekend without Mummy.

We'll be staying in the same bach in Raglan as last time because we know it works well. We chose Raglan - a small west coast beach town - because it's nice and close to Hamilton so we won't spend half the weekend travelling, yet it still feels like a holiday because you know you're 'at the beach.'

The Mums who didn't bring their babies entertained the babies whose Mums were doing their share of the clean up.

We've divvied up the meals so each lady is responsible for one meal, and we'll all bring a drink and snack to share, so we're guaranteed some delicious food! I still drool when I remember Renee's salmon and tropical salad from last year...

The one thing I hadn't been able to factor in when we planned this so long ago was my husband having a head injury... It's been a bit crazy round these parts for the last four weeks and I really feel (maybe you'll think me selfish) that I need this weekend to have a bit of a break from the (extra) hard work that has been my life lately. Thankfully, my husband sees this need (or at least sees my desire to make it work) and we've arranged care for the kids for the weekend so that I can still go. Phew. I'm glad it works out that way actually, because it means that Hayden will actually have a nice quiet weekend to rest as well. Win win, I think.

Danielle and Stephanie - they look so little compared to how big they are now. A year is a long time...

So, I've got my Things To Remember list well sorted - as we all know my brain is like a broken sieve. You know when you're excited about something and so you get packed and ready really really early? (Apart from on the way to Christchurch for the Blogger's Conference, sorry Talia!) I've already got the kids overnight bags sorted and Saturday night's roast defrosting, plus my supermarket shopping list waiting for me in the morning.

Look at 1-year-ago chubby, short-haired Tristan! (And his little buddy, Leyton.)

**Edit: Ha ha, oops. I must have gotten distracted after I added the photos to this post because I totally forgot to finish writing it... Woop woop! Looking forward to tomorrow!

13 May 2013

How to Help A Newborn-Mama-With-Other-Children

So, a really long title, but it was all I could do. Blame it on Baby Brain. Or something.

I was thinking today (as I was contemplating the full-to-the-brim washing line outside and the enormous dry pile to fold inside) about the things that are the most helpful when you have a newborn baby PLUS other children. Is it just me, or do you think people fall into the trap of thinking, "Oh, she has other children so she'll have everything she needs and will be managing fine. She's well-practised!"

Well, let me tell you, I don't have everything I need, and I may be well-practised but help is still 1000% appreciated!

Here, in no particular order, is my list of the things I think are most helpful when a Newborn-Mama is up to her ears in newborn goodness, toddler tantrums, kindy drop-offs and school prep.

Cooking will be the last thing a busy Mama has time for. Eating will be something she is desperate to do when breastfeeding a hungry babe. Drop past with a meal, either frozen for a busy day later, or hot just at dinner time (or lunch time!). Just be sure to let her know earlier in the day so that she (or her wonderful man) won't have something else organised defrosting on the bench. Snacks are good too - my favourite thing to take to a friend who's just had a baby (still at the birth centre or hospital even!) is a bag of food to pick at between meals. Think fruit, chocolate, crackers, nuts, lollies and some nice juice.

Anyone who runs a household with small people ( or multiple big people!) will know that washing is a time-consuming, never-ending task. Call Newborn-Mama in the morning and tell her to put on her machine and then go and hang it up for her an hour later, or for bonus points, stop by and pick up a basket of dirty washing, then wash, dry, fold and return it! Wonderful friends have done this for us in the past and it is such a lifesaver!

This will look different depending on how big the 'big kids' are. It might mean reading them a few stories so Mama can have a shower, taking them for a walk so Mama has some peace, picking them up for a few hours so Mama can sleep (cha-ching!), or doing a school run or kindy drop-off/pick-up so Newborn-Babe can keep sleeping. I'm sure there's more, just ask Newborn-Mama what's most helpful.

This will be my fourth baby so I certainly have all the 'things' I need, like a car seat, toys and sheets and blankets etc. However, it is always nice to receive gifts when you have a baby! I reckon the best things for a Newborn-Mama-With-Other-Children to be given are things like newborn-sized nappies, nappy cream, baby body wash and... Actually, that's all I can think of right now. Baby Brain moment. (Mama's with other children, what do you think? Leave a comment.) **Edit: Bibs! They get stained and old. New clean ones are so good! (Thanks Anneke!)** Basically I'm thinking of things that get either used up or worn out - bibs, burp cloths, new fluffy towels. If it's a family with all (or nearly all) boys/girls, a nice little something for Baby to wear could be a nice idea - clothes can get a little washed-looking after going through three or four little ones!

It's not always easy for a Mama to ask for help. Even if you're willing to do something for her whenever she needs it, she might not be able to ask. It's good to say, "If you need any help, just let me know!", but follow it up with a phone call or text later offering (or asking for) something specific.

When you lay down for a nap with your precious Bundle, take the phone off the hook so that all these lovely people ringing you with help won't accidentally wake you up. Having learnt this one from experience, it's hard to keep the annoyance and/or grief that your nap's been disturbed out of your voice when you answer the phone...

Do ask for help! If you're blessed enough to have people around you who are willing to help, they will be happy to hear from you. And most people will say no if they really can't do something that day, so there's no need to fear being an inconvenience.

Take your time. Your little one is little for such a short time, so take as much time as you want to soak it all up. The dishes and vacuuming will always wait for you. (Or a helpful visitor!) Read some stories to your big kids, rough and tumble together, do their homework with them, something each day to help them remember they're still important too.

Motherhood is such a juggle. There are constantly multiple balls in the air. But you know what? It IS okay to drop a couple. Someone else will kindly grab them for you, or you can pause and reach down to pick them up yourself when you can, no harm done.

* * *

Every baby is exciting, not just the first and second. If you are lucky enough to know someone having not their first but their second, third or more Baby, you can be such a blessing to them with just a little effort and thought. I am thankful to all the people who have helped our family over our 'child-bearing years.' The support of family and friends really does make what is a challenging time so much richer.

06 May 2013

E: School Boy

The day is finally here. My first baby is a baby no more. He is now proud to be a school boy.

Excitement levels were high at our house this morning! Even I, who always jumps at the chance of more sleep, woke up early and didn't want to get back to sleep. We were up, breakfasted and dressed on time and ready to go. I am usually late for everything - no matter how hard I try - but I am determined not to make Elliot into that poor stressed child who is always late for school. And we did it! We were even ready early enough that I could snap some photos (of course!) and field a few good luck phone calls. It's been such a special morning.

The only dampener being that the traffic was very frustrating and made my hard-earned early leaving time whittle away. Tomorrow we'll go a different way.

And you know what? I DIDN'T CRY. I nearly lost it as I prayed for him this morning, but managed to hold it in. It was just so lovely to see him happy to be in the classroom, see the other children welcome him and show him where to put his new chair bag and pillow and then see him sit happily on the mat next to his good friend Katie. It was just too good. I know he's going to love it.

I couldn't help myself last night as I went into his room (like I do every night) to tuck him in. I watched him sleeping for a while and brought up my memories of him as my little newborn, my firstborn son. As I gave him his goodnight kiss I thought, 'This is the last time I'll kiss you as a pre-schooler.' Okay, now I'm crying. Excuse me for a minute.

I'm so proud to have reached this stage with him. We've walked these five years together, him and me, and now it's time for him to make his first move from within these four walls. We're both excited for the challenges school will bring and they ways we'll see our boy flourish. We look forward to walking with him through this next part of his journey.

04 May 2013

Tidbits From Today

Duraseal. All kinds of fun. The first book I covered was awesome. The second one has incurable wrinkles. Not too bad, but they offend my sense of smoothness. Also frustrating is that one roll only covers two of E's books - one big, one small. He has 10. About to head out to the shop for a few more rolls...

* * *

When I answer the phone and you say, "Good evening ma'am. I am calling previous Telecom customers etc etc," and it is 3:30pm and I have never been a Telecom customer, that and your strong accent tell me that you are not calling from New Zealand. I wasn't really interested already, but now I'm truly not. Telemarketers (or whatever they are) do frustrate me!

* * *

E's chair bag and pillow have been finished. It felt so cool to make them for him! It is still so surreal that I am the mother of a (just about!) school boy now. Sometimes I don't even feel like an adult, how can I have a school-aged child?!

We chose his favourite colour - green - and when I was at Spotlight I saw this cool vintage map fabric which reminded me how much E loves to look at maps. Throw in some blue bias binding and some (or his other favourite colour) red felt and voila! A chair bag! And matching cushion, for mat time. (Which I have yet to stuff. And take a picture of in natural light.)

* * *

Our bathroom renovations are moving along nicely. My father-in-law (who used to be a carpenter) has been here all of today and most of yesterday. Last weekend my Dad was here to help with pulling down the old walls in the bathroom - Hayden's head still wasn't (isn't) up to the noise and jolting that the job needed.

The big job my FIL has been doing has been fitting the new bath in. By all accounts what should have been pretty simple was made very complicated by the ridiculous fibreglass bath that we brought. Unbeknownst to us at the time, it is not flat on the underside, so the cradle for it to rest in had to be cut piece by piece, extremely accurately, to make it level and un-wobbly. (So technical, I am.) But it's in now, and as I type, the second piece of Gib Aqualine (plaster board) is going in too!

A funny side effect of the current renovations is our in-between shower. We have a new hot water system - a gas Rheem, continuous hot water from a little box outside the house, no clunky hot water cylinder. Our old cylinder (now rolling around in the garden) was a wetback (connected to our fireplace, which helped to heat the water when it was on), meaning it needed to be low pressure. The new shower - with the ability to control how hard you turn the water on - is not ready yet, so we still have our old shower connected. Now our new hot water is mains pressure, and combined with our already strong cold water, showering at our house is an extreme sport! The water shoots out INCREDIBLY fast, so hard it's as good as a massage. (Almost). The first time Hayden used it he sprayed the entire shower room as it careened off his head.

* * *

Hayden is doing remarkably well, for being nearly 3 weeks post-smacking his head on the road. Loud noises (ie skill saws, Rosie screams) make his head hurt, but he's not really having headaches, and in fact has only taken paracetamol (at my insistence) maybe three times in the last 10 days.

He can concentrate for longer and has been getting some planning and marking done for school. His eyesight is improving - he can read the clock on the oven from the dining room table again. Reading is probably the thing he can do for the least amount of time, though that's improving. He certainly is brighter every day, which is really great to be able to see. Those first few days he just looked dazed. Lights on but no-one home. He plans to be at school next week only for the same time as the students (8:40am - 3:15pm) and will come in the car with us as I drop Elliot off. I'm concerned about how a full-on work day will go, but he and his principal both know that we will be taking it as it comes and seeing how Hayden goes. All that's left of his gruesome smashed face is a red line above his eye (that will take a long time to fade, I think) and a scab on his chin (which you can JUST see in the photo above, taken two nights ago). He's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have more to show for it!

* * *

Dinner tonight was yummy - though not photo worthy. Satay sauce lends itself to unflattering comparisons with various bodily emissions. But something I put in the mix for the meatballs tonight made my eczema EXPLODE as I was mixing it. I wonder what it was? Raw egg? Tomato sauce? Oh wait. I just had an epiphany as I was typing. I put paprika and cumin in too. It would have been the spicyness on my already sup-par fingers. Duh. So now I have bright red, spotchy swollen fingers, but a full tummy of yummy food! Mmmmmm.

And on that note of proof that I really am as scatter-brained as you thought, I'll leave you to your Saturday evening!