Saturday, 15 October 2016

Crazy Days // Siblings in October

October, October, October... flying by in a whirl of ice-cold mornings and sunny afternoons, last conkers and first pumpkins, spiced, homemade soup and hot chocolates... my favourite season. A season filled with happy little voices, excitement and expectation and a bunch of little people oozing with personality right now. I am run off my feet, I'm not gonna lie. I don't ever want to give the impression that things are sorted and run like a finely oiled machine around here... we have our fair share of bickering and pulling-you-hair-out moments, and though my intention is always to maintain a calm and controlled presence, the reality doesn't always look that way.

This week we've succumbed, one by one, to the dreaded sick bug. There's nothing like illness to remind you of your limitations as a mother... To show your need for dependence on others. We like to think ourselves self-sufficient and jugglers of many balls, but when the bug-ball hits? They all go rolling...

It's been an interesting week...

Yet despite the crazy little season we find ourselves in right now, these three are actually in a really good place. The girls are thriving at school, and Jonas is loving having a little bit of Mama time to himself! So here are my little siblings in October...

Ava (5 years, 2 months) is loving...
* Reading real books!
* The sock puppet she made at school
* Making Jonas giggle
* Learning to play checkers
* The soundtrack to "High School Musical"

Heidi (3 years, 7 months) is loving...
* Decaf tea
* Hot chocolate with marshmallows at Nursery
* Going up the green ladder at school
* Watching old home videos of Mama
* Her Pioneer Family sticker book

Jonas (1 year, 4 months) is loving...
* Playing "boo" with the builders
* Watching the digger in the garden
* Taking his first steps
* Blowing his nose
* Mama

They keep me busy, they are the source of much of my worry, but also most of my joy... And I wouldn't have it any other way...

My little siblings in October...

The Me and Mine Project

Friday, 14 October 2016

This Little Nose-Blower // The Not Comparing Game

I think comparison comes instinctively to all of us, doesn't it? We compare our homes, our parenting styles, our achievements and our children's progress. It's not a particularly becoming addiction, but addictive it does seem to be... I can't seem to help myself, and though I try to stop that little comparative thought popping into my head every time someone tells me something, that unattractive sense of inferiority or superiority seems to be beyond my capacity to control.

And then when you have multiple children, the focus can turn inwards... suddenly you're questioning every milestone "could Ava do this by this stage?", "Heidi was always good at this", "Ava was definitely the first one to..." and I find myself doing it again.

And so, I think this little man of ours was God's gift to us to teach me some precious lessons.

He doesn't believe in rushing through life... he's not in competition with anyone... he's just taking things in his stride and teaching his Mama there's no urgency, no race to the finish line, nothing to win. Just enjoy each little phase as it comes.

At 16 months (in 2 days!), he's not walking yet. He's taken a few tentative steps when he's in the mood, but he's quite contented to scale the sofas, piano, window sill - you name it - on all fours. Why bother walking when you can get everywhere you want to without?! Our Jonas boy is happiest when cruising, crawling and climbing and though the girls were long walking by now, he's teaching us to take it all in our stride. Milestones? He'll get there. When he's good and ready.

And then there's the talking thing. At sixteen months, the girls were starting to string sentences together, they had large vocabularies in all three languages (german, english and norwegian) and though they occasionally mixed the languages, were already pretty trilingual by this stage. Jonas? Well he has a grand total of 6 words...

- Mama ( makes up 90% of his language)
- Danke (when he's feeling polite)
- Na-na (Banana - but also used for any type of food!)
- Ba- (ball)
- A - mmm (Amen)
- A-ya (Ava)

No rush. As I said.

But then, there is one thing this boy of ours can do, that I had to teach the girls around the age of 3 (and even now, Heidi hasn't completely mastered it!)

He can get himself a tissue, blow his nose properly, and wipe it away. He then crawls off to put his tissue in the bin. (His Father's son!)

See? Each to their own. We can't all be good at everything now, can we?!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Bits and Bobs

Oh... life is a whirlwind lately. I feel like I fly between school runs (3 per day! Eeek!), building decisions (our garden currently resembles an archeological dig) and the general busyness of parenting three small children. Life is in a bit of a crazy phase right now, and for the first time in 5 years, I haven't blogged in over a week.

Somehow we are just about keeping our heads above water... in the sense that we are all fed, clothed and watered. We are making it to school on time (by the skin of our teeth!) and I'm just about managing to keep all our weekly activities and engagements happening.

But aside from that, things are pretty chaotic right now.

I can't remember the last time I dusted my lounge... the hallway is clutter filled and if I actually get to put any make-up on then its probably because I've forgotten something else. I'm losing my keys on a daily basis and all in all feeling like I'm playing a perpetual game of catch up.

But I was reminded this weekend, that even in the busyness, in the chaos, in the noise of daily life, of the importance of taking time, in the quiet of the morning, to hear that still, small voice. To spend fifteen minutes soaking in God's word, and talking with him.

Somehow, when I do that, the busyness, chaos and noise seems more manageable... Somehow I have a different perspective. Somehow the waves don't pull me under.

When life is crazy busy, every moment seems precious... And I often fly out if bed in the morning with 101 things in my head that I need to do.

But getting started on them is actually the last thing that will actually help me...

This week I'm determining to seek to do the thing that seems counterproductive... To take fifteen minutes of precious morning time and spending it reading, praying, seeking God's wisdom. And I know already, from experience (oh why do I never learn?!) that I will find that it is the best spent time of my day... Time invested, not wasted.

So if your feeling snowed under... Will you join me??

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Sweeter, Safer Place // On Attitude...

“Everyone carries an atmosphere about him. It may be healthful and invigorating, or it may be unwholesome and depressing. It may make a little spot of the world a sweeter, better, safer place to live in; or it may make it harder for those to live worthily and beautifully who dwell within its circle.” 

I can't remember the first time I read this quote... I think I was laid up on a sofa somewhere, kindle in hand, and smothering it generously in yellow highlighter. It struck me instantly and it stuck. It resonated. And it challenged.

What was "my atmosphere"?

There are so many factors that impact my attitude everyday... how much sleep I've had, whether things are going "according to plan", whether my children are behaving themselves, whether my to-do list is being ticked off at what I see as an acceptable level... whether I'm seeing much of my husband, whether my house is tidy, whether I've spent time with the Lord, whether, whether, whether.... and at any one time, its all to easy to point the accusing finger at any one of these factors when my "atmosphere" is a little more unwholesome than I would like to admit...

But the fact is, as long as my "atmosphere" is dictated to by the variable factors of my life, I will never succeed at being that "sweeter, better, safer place"... instead I will only succeed at being a tumultous storm of emotions that is unreliable, unwelcoming and certainly not a haven of rest for those who find themselves in my presence!

So how do we create a healthful and invigorating atmosphere? Is it to be found in a simplified, decluttered home which welcomes people with the scent of candles and fresh coffee? Is it to be found in a fun-filled, creative family life? Is it to be found in the exploration of the great outdoors? In deep and meaningfuls over hot cups of tea? In quiet conversation over a freshly baked scone?

In my head, those things make for a healthful and invigorating atmosphere, but those things are so far from the reality of my day to day life - knee-deep in washing piles, surrounded by energetic children and with a diary that seems endlessly full - that I end up feeling overwhelmed and disappointed... I strive for the "healthful and invigorating", but it always just seems very slightly out of my reach... something so close, and yet just slightly out of my grasp. And before I have noticed it, I'm robbed of my contentment and feel resentful of anyone or anything I see as a barrier to those goals (disruptive children, a rainy day which prevents outdoor washing drying, another request on my diary... etc etc). And then my atmosphere does become unwholesome and depressing...

What hope is there for us, when in the very act of trying to create a positive atmosphere, our failure only leads us straight down the path of a negative one?!

Experience is teaching me that really there is only one way I can fix my "atmosphere" in the realm of that sweeter, safer place. And that is by rooting it firmly in Jesus. He is the only one able to secure me firm in the face of changing circumstances, challenges and joys. When my attitude is guided by him, rather than what is going on around me, it truly is my only hope of being a sweet, safe place! That's because his attitude... compassion, mercy, grace, patience, gentleness, kindness... And ultimately sacrificial love, are the very essence of who he is... And the very essence of what I want to, but can't, be...

So when I read that quote, I don't need to feel despair, or failure... Or even frustration. Instead, I can seek to live worthily and beautifully in Christ. The one who sacrificed his sweet, safe place for me.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Back to Life // Me and Mine in September

It's been a funny old month; a month of adjusting and adapting... of getting used to only having one child around my ankles every day, of getting my head around three school runs. It's been a month of busyness and tiredness and routine. It's been a shock to the system for all of us I think... and though it has been a busy month, its been a good one. Not in the "so many great things have happened" way, but more in the gentle trundling along of adapting to a new routine.

Most notable has been Heidi starting school... and I'm genuinely pleased to report she loves that little nursery class of hers. She comes home beaming from ear to ear, and though she tells me little of what she's actually been up to, the muddy stains, paint marks and book bag full of drawings are testimony to the fantastic time she's having. We are so pleased that our littlest lady is adjusting so well. Phew!

I'm adjusting too. It sounds silly to say that. But I've had my little ladies around me non-stop for the last 5 years, so it has been strange to be on my own with the boy every morning... and a boy who still naps twice! I'm waiting for him to drop the morning one, but enjoying the hour or so of complete quiet it gives me every morning while it lasts! He is a delight, though very "Mama" focussed at the moment. The fact that it is the dominant of his five words means I'm pretty much hearing my name all day, every day!

In other big news, Dave turned 33 this week, so we had family gatherings galore, and a whole heap of takeaway food. I'm not complaining.

And then there is our home. The loft is now finished, and we now have a meter deep trench in our back garden, an uncovered Air Raid Shelter, and the remnants of an old outside toilet... it is amazing what you find if you dig a meter underground! The old historian in me has enjoyed many a chat with our builders about all the things they've dug up over the years!

And I suppose, when you put it all down like that, it has been a fairly landmark September - with new starts, birthdays and builders... but it has been a fairly gentle start too, and for that I am grateful!

Just whiling away busy little hours with this loopy bunch that, by God's grace, I get to call mine...

Now bring on October!

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!