Monday, 26 September 2016

This Guy // Thirty-Three Years

There's one person who gets significantly less air time on this blog. I don't know why really, I think there's a little part of me that wants to keep some aspects of our life sacred and personal. Some aspects of our life as a family that remain ours, and ours alone. I suppose the fact that he's out at work five days a week, keeping the rest of us fed and watered and well looked after means his presence is not so quickly captured in a photo series, or a funny little moment during the day.

But this guys presence and influence in our family?

It's immeasurable.

Today this guy turns 33, and with that number comes the landmark ten years of us being together. Sometimes we look back at our 23 and 21 year old selves and laugh. We were so young! It is amazing how much growing up you do in ten years... Ten years of marrying and buying houses, and having multiple children, of travelling and serving together, of deep-and-meaningfuls and silly in-jokes. Ten years which has also held its fair share of soul-searching and heartache... And learning to lean on the Lord.

And it has been a joy and a privilege to see the Lord working in this guys life for those ten years. And for us to be the receivers of that blessing. He is adored by our little crew... And while his Dad humour may not always be appreciated by our littlest people, it is right now. And no-one manages to make them laugh quite in the way that he does.

So happy birthday David!

We thank God for you every day!

Please keep on leading us and pointing us to Jesus. It is, of all the wonderful gifts you share with us, the best one you can give us...

We love you!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Starting Preschool // Mini Milestones

It seems like only yesterday I was standing with my firstborn on this very spot, lump in throat, blurry eyed at the prospect of sending her off to nursery... And here we are with our littlest lady. Schultüte in arms, excitement written across her face as she stands so tall and proud in her school uniform. When they say "the days are long, but the years are short", they are not wrong. If you're still in those early home days, cherish them. They will be gone in a flash and they are so very, very precious.

So yes, I may have only started making Heidi's Schultüte at 9.30pm the night before she started school... But boy was I glad that I'd done a bit of a cheat's job with Ava's (minimal sewing, maximal double-sided sticky tape!) and so felt no qualms about doing exactly the same with Heidi's. Pretty as a picture. Im sure at some point in my life I'll realise that it's a major error to begin cute, homemade projects for your eldest child... Fairness will insist that the gesture is repeated for younger siblings! One day, one day.... But it's worth it for the wondrous look on their faces when they see it filled up at the breakfast table!

I filled it up with hair elastics, a new water bottle, some stickers and a little book... Nothing fancy, and mostly necessities. Thrilled is possibly an understatement...

And then we took the obligatory photos, and I asked the obligatory questions (she wants to be a porridge-maker?!) and then I took our little girl to preschool and handed her over. She walked in, beaming from ear to ear... I made it to the school gates before the tears started flowing.

Grateful, just so grateful, for this little gift of a girl and her effervescent, bubbly, joy-filled attitude to life. 

Grateful hat she is healthy and thriving.

Grateful that she is so happy to go off to her new teachers and classmates...

And grateful for the big miracles and the little mundane gifts that the Lord gives us each and every day.

My two little school girls... Breaking my Mama heart since 2011!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Dear Heidi... Off to Preschool!

To my little Heidi-girl...

The big day has arrived! Ever since Ava started back at school, you have been questioning and querying... "How much longer, Mama?", "How many more sleeps?"... you are so excited about this new adventure. Excited about the fun things you will get to do in Preschool, excited about the little friends you will make, excited about your uniform, and excited about your lovely teachers. And I am so excited for you too!

Excited, and a little bit sad.

It is, after all, bittersweet.

I will now be waving off both my little girls every morning... it seems like yesterday I had you both at home with me all day long; playing, napping, reading books together and having giggles. I find it hard to believe that my two baby girls are now both at school, but I know how thrilled you are to be joining your big sister... and how thrilled she is that you are joining her!

I'm not ready to think about where this year is heading yet... that at the end of this year, comes an even bigger transition. I'm just taking baby steps and as you keep reminding me; "it's not so long Mama... only a little while, and then I'll come home for lunch!"

I am so thankful for one more year to spend our afternoons together!

Jonas will miss having you around... you are his play buddy, and recently the two of you have been as thick as thieves. He won't know what to do with himself after a summer long of two big sisters to keep him entertained!

You are a ray of sunshine, Heidi - a bundle of fun, and the life and soul of the party. I'm praying you will use your joyous nature to be a blessing to others, and that your effervescence will be rooted in the true joy that only comes from the Saviour. You are a loyal and true friend, and I'm excited to see all the little friendships you will form with those little classmates of yours. I can't wait to see you blossom and grow as you learn and develop and grow in independence.

I will miss having you at home - my little sidekick... my little helper who, from the youngest age, has put loads of washing on for me and emptied the dishwasher! I will miss your chatter, and the funny way you put things. I will miss your jolly little face, and your natural humour that just does bring a smile to my face without you even trying.

I will miss you, Heidi girl... but I know there is so much to be gained from this adventure, and I'll be waiting, arms wide, to hear all about the fun you've had when its time to pick you up!

I love you Heidi! Have fun on your first day at Preschool!

Mama xxx

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Rollercoaster of Parenting // Siblings in September

It's a truth universally acknowledged that parenting is a rollercoaster. To say I can feel a whole range of emotions - joy, delight, frustration, impatience, hilarity and exhaustion in the space of fifteen minutes is no exaggeration. It's a wonderful, beautiful, tough gig... And one that I am constantly striving to be better at.

The springtime was tough for the children. The serious amounts of change we were undergoing in the house, with Dave travelling with work and with temporarily moving to my parents had a huge impact. Behaviour went up the creek, and right alongside it were those sibling relationships. The girls, who have always been incredibly close and the best of friends, were suddenly constantly at each other, and the little man was the victim of some not so kind, or gentle, big sister treatment.

After a couple of months, I began to worry that this was stretching beyond a "phase" and into the realm of learned behaviours. I prayed a lot. I sought wisdom from others. I read parenting books, but the same old message of "consistency, consistency, consistency" just kept ringing in my ears. But in all honesty, it just felt exhausting and relentless, and so very hard.

And then all of a sudden, the summer stretched out before us with its wide open skies, copious hours and space to be... And something seemed to click. I watched the girls spending hours together in the sunshine... Gradually the bickering and fussing that had dominated our days seemed to become less and less present. There were thoughtful gestures for Jonas, and, I started to see the children's caring natures come to the forefront again...

The little siblings were back! Back in their groove... Back in their funny little humourous world. Back to the place where the odd tiff happens in a very normal sibling way!

But for this stage of life at least, it feels like we've come through the other side... For now at least. Such relief.

It's just another phase of the rollercoaster, isn't it? Of learning to persevere when it feels particularly hard... Of praying in faith when you feel like you're not getting through. Of being consistent and present and following through on absolutely everything.

And of stripping back, simplifying, uncomplicating.

Because seeing these three together, little friendships intact, peaceful and happy and enjoying each other's company makes all those hours of training worthwhile...

These little siblings in September...

The Me and Mine Project

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Box Full Of Memories // A Touchnote Print Box Review

Anyone who stops by this blog with any kind of regularity will know that I have a bit of a thing for photography... it's always been a bit of a passion of mine; at uni, my friends never bothered taking their cameras out, "Oh, Claire will have hers!" was the common refrain! Photography has always fascinated me, and capturing moments in time holds a very special place in my heart.

The problem is... while I'm good at capturing memories and taking photographs, I am really seriously bad at actually getting them printed. I have grand visions of scrapbooking all our memories, or at least creating a photo book, but wading through my literal thousands of photos just seems a bit overwhelming sometimes...

And our lovely friends at Touchnote have come up with the perfect answer!

Our Touchnote Print Box landed on our doorstep yesterday after a few clicks on my iPad on Saturday night! The Touchnote app registers all your photographs taken on your iPhone or iPad while abroad, and collates up to 36 of your favourites into a personalised photo box, labelled and lovely and easy to store, so you have a printed recollection of your special times, and not just a heap of photos on your hard-drive!

The app is really easy to use, though you need to make sure you don't make the mistake I made, and have your location services switched off (oops!). The app relies on recognising you are abroad so that it doesn't try and access all the photos you've ever taken, but is able to recognise each "holiday" as a distinct event for your Print Box!

And voila...

In the space of literally one minute, you have created your personalised print box and its on its way!

It even lets you pick your lid pattern... how cute was this stamps one?!

The joy of getting our summer photos back so quickly meant we were able to reflect again on all the fun things we got up to, and the pretty, compact little box means we're not needing to find space for big photo albums, but instead have all our memories ready to be whipped out for any visitors who fancy a nose through!

Although beware of children who take a shine to your print box and want to steal photos for their own albums (OK... yes, my five year old is better at recording memories than I am!)

If you haven't checked out the Touchnote app yet this summer, its free to download! Just click on the Touchnote button below and have fun creating your own box full of memories from your summer adventures!


This is a collaborative post and contains affiliate links.
We have tested the product, and all thoughts and opinions are genuine and our own!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Perspective // On Lofts and Life

I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the start of last week. Questions about our building work hanging over me. Stage One is pretty much completed now... we're waiting on our carpet and a radiator, but aside from that, our brand new bedroom and bathroom in the loft are good to go. Stage Two has looked a little problematic before its even started, and while the busyness of the day keeps me from dwelling on it too much, at night, the worries simmer up. When your mind is full of taps and tiles and details, and whether the whole thing will even get off the ground at 2am, all perspective seems to go out the window.

Perspective. My old friend.

Because for me, that word will always bring back flashing images of hospital cots, and oxygen tubes and heart echoes. For me, that word perspective will always be shaped like a nine week old baby fighting for her life.

Three years ago, when our baby girl was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, fever raging, splotchy red and arteries dilated to four times their normal size, I wondered if I would ever again get stressed by silly things like house extensions.

And in that moment. The penny drops. The realisation hits. God opens my eyes and reminds me of all the goodness and blessing and mercy and grace I experience every day in every moment.

I am so thankful... so very, very thankful, that the biggest things I have to stress about right now are whether our house extension will start this month or next, whether the tiles piled high in our garden should be kept or sold, whether the pipe for the taps will actually physically fit down the back of our sink unit. These things feel like niggling intruders... questions I need to answer, but don't want to deal with. And yet...

I have so much to be thankful for... and yet here I sit, knee deep in worries and questions that I can't actually do anything about anyway!

Perspective. A reason to rejoice. To be thankful. To remember what really matters.

And give my worries and cares to the one who cares for me...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

- Philippians 4:6-7 -

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Feasting and Fresh Starts // The Start of a New School Year

It's been a wonderful summer... A summer of fjords and mountains and time together, and all too quickly the start of a new academic year is upon us. I usually feel ready for September... There's usually a readiness for routine and structure again, an excitement for a fresh start. But this year it feels like September has crept up on me unexpected, and if honest, undesired.

I wasn't quite ready for it this year.

And so I had to do a little readying myself to get my head in the right place for adjusting from being a five, to a two. Because this year, our little Heidi is heading off to Nursery too!

And so, as we prepared for our annual "Back to School Feast", it wasn't just one little school goer being crowned and celebrated this year... But two! Oh my... My head, and my heart, are just not ready for this! I am so glad that Heidi's start is delayed, because I'm not quite sure how my Mama emotions would have handled all of them abandoning me for "Big School" all at once!

But then again, as Heidi says, "Don't worry, Mama... Jonas will look after you!"

We held our back to school feast on Saturday night with some of the wider family. As always is the case, the reality never quite resembles the picture perfect scene you imagine in your head, and there were a few tears at the start about an uncomfortable crown and a corn on the cob that was too hot to be eaten immediately.

We soon got over the tears, and the feasting was in full swing, with two little girls so excited to be the centre of attention!

I had made the basic crowns out of some leftover card and my ribbon box. The girls enjoyed decorating them with stickers! They weren't hugely glamorous, but cheap and cheerful, and the girls loved it!t

Of course, the imagery of feasting and fresh starts is helpful for me too. There is something about this time of year that makes me eager for reflection and positive change. The idea of feasting and "filling up" before setting out on a new adventure is one I've been dwelling on... How so often I don't feast and fill up on the kind of food that really matters for preparing me for life - that is feasting on God's word. Spending time reading through and journalling on little chunks of the Bible, and setting aside  daily time to talk with God through prayer.

So September provides a fresh start not only for my little school-goers, but for me too. An opportunity to fall into new rhythms of daily feasting.

And so came Monday.

We waved our big girl off to Year One.

HOW is she in year 1 already?!?

Our Ava Bean... Our Ingalls fan, creative, word-loving Acrobat. Have a wonderful year!

Now just to gear myself up for the next goodbye in a couple of weeks!

*S O B*

How's everyone else feeling about going back to school?!