Monday, 1 December 2014

Choosing to be a present parent

I wrote this one a little while back & forgot to hit 'publish'. I hope it inspires you to spend some more precious time with your child and be fully present....

"Mum, mum, look at me!" my daughter squeals from outside on the back deck.

"Mum!" she calls out again. "You're not looking." 

I look up briefly from my phone to see her attempt a hand stand which looks more like a frog hopping.

"That's great," I respond in my mono-tone, disinterested voice. I am busy. I am replying to a message on my phone. I am writing a grocery list. I am cooking my breakfast and I am trying to find the hair brush. 

I miss the moment. I've missed many moments. 

The other night I was putting my daughter Isabella to bed when I noticed myself rushing. I just wanted to get it over with so I could eat my dinner and relax. I was in the middle of telling her a bed-time story when my eyes locked with hers. Her deep ocean blue eyes, similar to my own, were peering out from her long, dark lashes. Her eyes were full of anticipation and enchantment at my little story.  My heart melted. She adores this time with me. As I looked at her, I felt a little voice within me say, that it won't be long before she grows up. It won't be long before she's a teenager and these times will just be a precious memory. I need to embrace these moments, not rush them. 

I looked at my daughter, her golden syrup coloured hair fanned out over her pink, checkered pillow. Her plump, pink cheeks and innocent smile. 

I stopped rushing and slowed down. I lay down beside her on my tummy, looked her in the eyes and continued my story. 

This time, I soaked it all in. I wanted to remember this moment. I wanted to remember the way we stayed "up late" having a little chat once the story was over. How she wanted me to be with her and share conversation with her.

After I said a little prayer for her and got up to leave she said, "Mum, can you just lay here with me for awhile?"

I hesitated. I didn't want her needing me right beside her as she falls asleep. Then, I figured, why not? I don't think she'll want me snuggling with her she's 14! 

I laid back down and draped by arm over her little body and snuggled in next to her.

"You know, when you were a baby I got to cuddle you all the time," I said softy.

"I wish I could be baby again," she replied in a whisper.

I laid there, cradling her in my arms, and thinking how she was still so young. She's only four years of age. In just four years she's had to go from a tiny, dependable baby to a little girl where much is expected of her. Sometimes I see that struggle within her, the fight for independence and yet a need for me to still be beside her.

I watched her little, round moon face as her eyes flickered up at mine. She was trying to hold my gaze but her eyelids were slowly becoming heavier. I could feel her body start to relax as her hands went limp next to mine and her breathing became steadier.

It didn't take long for her to fall asleep, perhaps five minutes. It was five minutes I was so happy to have spent right beside her and not rushing about the kitchen or replying to emails. Those things can wait. Time is ticking and my little girl is growing up more and more each day. I want to choose to stop racing through the day and embrace the moment, to be undistracted and present. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

We are here

Hello! It's been awhile. I wrote this post back in May and have only now had the chance to finish it (how crazy is that?!)  so you will notice a time lapse. Enjoy reading!

May 2014

I cannot believe we are heading towards the end of autumn. Where has the year gone? I love Autumn time but now that we've started with the coughs and colds I am thinking of ditching it as my favourite season.

Well, life right now is...hectic and fantastic. I want to share a little of it with you. If details about my kids' lives bore you then you might want to skim read. Today's post is a little bit of record keeping so I can remember these precious details in years to come.

The two of them

I love this stage of life where both kids are reaching a stage of being a little more independent.

Isabella is 4 and Fin is 1, turning two next month. I've happily said goodbye to breastfeeding (and my breastfeeding boobies although that is a little more upsetting), gigantic strollers, overloaded nappy bags, spoon feeding (mostly), and being the number one entertainer since they can "play" together.  Playing is usually short-lived happiness. It involves Isabella making up the game, telling Fin what to do and getting angry at him when he doesn't follow her instructions.

Today, they just started laying into each other, hitting and slapping, laughing and crying. They don't know if they're having fun or torturing each other. Although they fight frequently they absolutely, undoubtedly love one another to smithereens.

Fin went missing the other day. We were just in the front yard and he walked off around the backyard. I couldn't find him anywhere after looking for five hours five minutes.  It did feel like forever. We have no fences or gates so he could have wondered off anywhere. Isabella was so worried that she started bawling, "I miss fin. I want him back. I love him!" She was saying exactly what I was feeling but I had remain calm. We eventually found him hiding under the house. He thought it was hilarious. He has become quite good at disappearing quickly and hiding in obscure places. Such a cheeky boy.

Isabella has also asked on numerous occasions if she can marry Fin to which I answered no. She has recently told me with all of her four-year-old stubbornness that she will marry him anyway. Good luck with that. Fin will also get quite lost when Isabella is at preschool. He will constantly ask about her, "where's Iz?" It does really bring joy to my heart to see them love each other so much. Yes, they fight but they are two little buddies with similar personalities. I didn't think it was possible but I have two cheeky, strong-willed, sensitive, persistent and active children. Fun times ahead.

Finlay aged 23 months.

Fin is a little ball of energy with a growing toddler's defiance. I love him to pieces. He is super cute and very affectionate. He is still very much a mummy's boy. He loves cuddles and still whinges to sit on my hip while I cook dinner. He also enjoys hanging onto my legs and following me around. He was sick last week with croup and i spent a few hours in the night cradling him and stroking his soft, blonde hair. I love that he feels so safe in my arms.

When he's not cuddling me he's usually wrestling daddy (Luke) or trying to annoy Isabella by poking her or taking her toys. He loves to get reactions at the moment but doesn't fully comprehend the consequences.

His favourite games are throwing or kicking the ball. He can dribble the soccer ball better than most kindy kids. He's phenomenal. Must take after his soccer-star dad. He also enjoys his little plastic animal figurines, riding his little pink trike (thanks to having an older sister), looking at books, watching Peppa Pig on TV, drawing and throwing the pencils everywhere, hiding, running around the house like crazy.

In the last month he has started putting words together and is now forming short sentences. A recent favourite was when he told me, "I wuv you mummy." He still speaks a lot of babble, non-stop talking really, but it's starting to slow make more sense.

Finny-boy is going through an assertive stage at the moment where he is getting very interested in pushing for what he wants. He loves to throw tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants but seems to move on pretty quickly after his emotional outbursts. He is still very easily distracted and diverted from whatever is causing the tantrum. However, changing his nappy, getting him dressed and strapping him into his car seat usually causes some trouble! Thank goodness he makes up for it with going to bed fairly easy and sleeping though the night...unless he loses his dummy.

So far, I feel like little Fin is going to be a strong-willed (but not too stubborn) little boy who has a big heart. He's very affectionate, caring and emotional yet he's also strong, tough and active. I can imagine him being the young man all the ladies will love! Though, he's my little man for a little while yet!

Isabella aged 4 and a half years old

Isabella is one amazing girl. She has an incredible mix of personality. She's stubborn yet sensitive, strong-willed yet caring, very silly and cheeky yet also a deep thinker. She loves to spend her time playing imaginary games (babies, fairies, princesses, mums and dads, big sister/little sister, scenes from the movie Frozen and school time). She loves to involve me in almost every game whether I am busy or not. I seem to always have a part to play such as "the mum who just does the washing up."

Issy (Isabella) also loves drawing detailed scenes of her friends and family, chasing her brother Fin around the house, dressing up, playing with her baby dolly and caring for it, dancing (especially Irish style dancing), painting, riding her bike or scooter and, yes can't forget TV! She's quite obsessed with the movie Frozen (which little girl isn't?) and regularly sings the songs around the house.

At the moment she's been asking a lot of questions trying to make sense of of the world around her. She asks a lot about going to school next year and about different little conflicts with friends (let's hope this doesn't increase!) and random questions like, "Where do babies come out from?" The answer to which she was quite shocked. She's also been asking a lot of questions about God, what he looks like and what he does. At some stage I asked her how big she thought God was. Her answer: "I think I am just a little bit bigger than God."I laughed at this and wondered how God must look in her mind - perhaps a midget? Or perhaps she just sees herself as "bigger" than most people.

We're working on teaching her that it's important to learn and listen to others. Although she sometimes tells me, "I already know everything!" She's extremely strong willed and sometimes it scares me! But I hope and pray, if directed in the right way, she will be able to use her strength for good. Thankfully, her strength is also balanced out by a beautiful sensitive spirit. She cares greatly for her brother Fin and doesn't like seeing him sad. On the occasion I put Fin into "time out" she will follow me around trying to advocate for him to come out of time out. Future lawyer perhaps?

As mentioned at the start, I began writing this post in May. It's now July! I often fill my of spare time with working in my family's business or cleaning around the house. However, it's important to snatch up those little sppockets of time, even just for ten minutes, to write and reflect. Like just now, writing while the kids are playing in a cubby house made of sheets and chairs. It's an achievement that feels a lot better than putting on another load of washing.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Our summer holiday

Once again, it has been awhile since I've written. I thought I'd share a little about our family holiday that we had in January, after I recovered from my post Christmas hangover. We stayed at Lake Conjola which is near Mollymook Beach - one of our favourite places on the coast. The water is so incredibly clean, sparkly and transparent blue.  There is also a plethora of funky vegan/gluten-friendly/super food cafes throughout the area which I LOVE. Our favourite cafe to hang at was Pilgrams in Milton where I am in complete heaven with a lentil burger & a dandelion latte. There is also the endless number of eclectic vintage shops and beautiful hand-made clothing and jewelry stores. I am in heaven!

We got to spend a 10 days here this summer, which is the longest holiday we've had together as a family of four. I was a little nervous about how the kids would cope being away from home that long and also whether it would really be much of a break for us. However, with my hubby's family staying near by and the kids kept entertained by all the beach has to offer, we really enjoyed it! We were able to get out for a date one day and also had a couple of boys nights/girls nights with those in the family. I wouldn't say we rested but we had fun. There's not much lazing about on the sand reading a book when you have two very active kids to chase after! Yet, we were able to switch off from work commitments and tight routines to mentally recover from the year just been.

So, here's a few happy snaps from our holiday for you to enjoy. I also want to know whether you enjoyed your holiday with kids this year? Do you actually feel like you get a chance to rest and enjoy it? I hope so! x

Isabella popping her head up while the rest of her body was buried underneath the sand.

Family love on Mollymook Beach

Isabella swimming in Lake Conjola. Such a water baby!

Finlay looking admiringly at Pa who is taking him on his first boat trip.

Luke, Fin & Issy taking a walk on the Lake Conjola boardwalk
My little man & I
Finlay enjoying the sand & surf - he also loves the water!