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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Thoughts from the Ride

Over a year and a half ago, I had just gotten home from a really nice walk with my girls (Hayley only a baby), when my sister Chantelle called to tell me that her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. I remember being really shocked. I had visited them in their Alice Springs home only the month before and at that time Daniel was at peek fitness, riding his bike to and from work everyday, as well as other exercise. I really didn’t know what to say in that moment.

After a much shorter period in Alice Springs than they had expected and hoped, Chantelle, Daniel, and their two beautiful daughters moved back to Adelaide so that they would have the family support they would need while Daniel went through chemo and surgeries to fight his cancer. Thankfully that battle was won and he is in remission, but it has been a long and hard journey for their whole family… and that’s only what I can observe as a third party – I can only imagine what it would be like to go through the initial uncertainty of what lay in store, then the reality of chemotherapy and other treatments, as well as other changes necessary in order for the spouse who had cancer to recover.

I want to say that Daniel has gotten through all this with grace and good humour and, although it was not lacking previously, my respect and admiration for him has grown as I have watched him over this time. This can be said for my beautiful sister also.

As you probably know, this weekend Adelaide hosted it’s first Ride to Conquer Cancer (benefiting the Flinders Medical Centre), and despite obvious difficulty Daniel decided to jump on board, and then formed a team as he was joined by my husband, Jonathan, and my Aunty Glenyse and Uncle Brian. I was proud of all of them for raising the money they did, and happy for my husband to do it, but I don’t think I realised the power of an event like this – to the community, and for its participants individually - until I was there watching it all take place. There are a few things I would like to say about it.

First of all, the power of community; perhaps some of the riders had the foresight that I lacked but I got to thinking while driving home after the conclusion of this race… and wondered whether the individuals who signed up thought it was a nice idea, and a challenge they’d like to take on, but that their fundraising contribution wouldn’t actually be that significant. Well that’s the power of community; over 400 people decided that finding a cure for cancer was worthwhile enough, important enough, or vital enough to ride 200km over two days; Many others agreed that the cause was great, and volunteered to help in other ways; People in organisations were willing to provide the food, water, overnight accommodation, etc. to make it happen; yet others contributed money to the cause; and because of this collective effort A MASSIVE $1.6 MILLION dollars was raised to aid cancer research. That is enormous, and if I recall correctly, the biggest fundraising campaign in South Australia EVER. As individuals we may not have a lot of power, but as a community we can make a LOT of difference.

I got to wishing that I could have volunteered in some capacity over the weekend, and then I thought – well, it did impact on me for one of those riders to participate, but I thought it was important enough to do what it took to let it happen anyway… being in a community means different things for each member of it. – As an aside, Jonathan tells me that the crew made the ride a great experience!

I have also had cause to reflect on what a wonderful family I have – immediate and extended. My Aunty and Uncle came all the way from Mt Beauty to participate, and brought road bikes as well as the expertise to ensure they were well maintained. I can’t say enough about the difference this made – it was the difference! My sister ran from checkpoint to checkpoint with her girls to cheer Daniel and the team on all day for two days. (Not literally. That would be crazy. She drove of course.) It has been one more way she has been a great wife to her husband in his journey.  Chany, today and throughout the time since Daniel was diagnosed, your inherit qualities of love and compassion have shined through – I have been told throughout my life that I am like you - and for that I can hold my head high! Daniel’s parents, my mum, my sister Kathryn and her family, my brother Adam and Teresa, and other Aunties and Uncles all joined the journey at some point or another over the course of the weekend. I was sitting at the finishing point for day one for a considerable amount of time yesterday, and there was definitely no individual or group that got a larger cheer than Mixed Nuts! The Howes also had my girls overnight Friday to make it easier for me to be at the start with Jonathan. I really love that I have family around me who strengthen, encourage, support and cheer each other on. That’s what families are for.

The last observation I have brings me back to where this post began. The Ride to Conquer Cancer was challenging for all of its participants, but none more so than the cancer survivors. I probably can’t do justice to what I want to say, but Daniel, you have inspired me in many ways. Thinking about what Daniel achieved today and everything that it took for you to get there, I say to myself, ‘If I have challenges, I can face them. If things are hard going, I can face it with positivity. If it feels to difficult, I won’t give up.’ You really are one of my heroes, and I’m proud to call you brother!



This year’s Ride is over, but there’s still time to donate. Over the past few decades cancer research has come so far, and those diagnosed have much better chance of survival – but there is still work to be done. If you are in a position to donate, please do... but if not keep an eye out for The Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014, and help anyway you can!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

My mummy truths

Like Rachel (who wrote this post, which you should totally read) I am an imperfect, 'normal' mum. I have long since realised that comparing myself to others and trying to be the 'perfect' mother only brings feelings of inadequacy and failure. I have accepted that what is most important in motherhood is the love that I have for my children, that I do my best, and that I keep on trying again and again and again.

So here are my own mum confessions: 

I get frustrated at delay tactics, refusals to do simple tasks, refusals to eat or even try a perfectly good meal, and insistence on doing the exact opposite of what they ought. Sometimes I feel that I spend all day saying, "You need to do x or you're going to bed", and I am annoyed at myself for not knowing how to encourage cooperation more constructively.

Some days our TV is on for too long. Some days that's because instead of turning the TV off after a reasonable period, it gets left on while I fall asleep on the couch or have a shower or cook dinner or whatever it might be.

Sometimes I reprimand one of my children only to realise that they didn't do what I thought they had, or that they had good intentions even if it didn't work out, or that it didn't really matter anyway. Sometimes I take a few minutes to respond to their crying just to make sure I respond calmly...

But on the other hand - I took the time to make sure I would respond calmly. Big drop of awesome right there. (You should read that post too.)

Some days I am really 'with' my kids, and we have a lot of fun. The TV stays off and we read or play outside or bake or go to playgroup. Some days I am really aware of what my kids are trying to  tell me with behaviour that would usually bother me, and we fix things. Sometimes I know exactly what I can do or say that will help my kids understand why we need to do things like, getting dressed, going to the toilet before you have an accident, or not snatching that toy away from your sister. Some days we don't have those issues at all.

I guess my point is that we all need to do our best to be great parents for our kids.
Celebrate the things you do well.
Congratulate yourself when you are patient and are able to teach your children.
Be grateful when your kids have those cooperative days and you don't have to stress.

Do our best, but be kind to yourself when you feel you have fallen short.
Believe that every day is a new day, and this one doesn't have to be like the day before.
The same can be said about every moment.
Know that what matters most is to love your children immensely, and unconditionally.

Monday, 7 October 2013

(On the Receiving End of) Parental Love

As you might expect, I think a lot about the kind of mother I am and want to be, and in particular about how I can make sure that my children know that I love them. Lately I have also been thinking about how that might apply when my children are grown and going through similar experiences (or different ones) to what I am experiencing now. This in turn led me to think about, possibly understand a little better, and definitely appreciate more the things my mother does and how she is showing her love in doing them. It's been a lesson about life and motherhood, and what that means for me as both daughter and mother.

My lovely mummy begins two weeks of 'holidays' from work tomorrow. Why, I hear you asking? Primarily because Jonathan returns to work tomorrow and since I still can't do certain things (like drive!) she is going to help get me to appointments and generally just be around so I don't do things I shouldn't. :P

So, I think there is a slight chance that I have a tendency to be a little bit stubbornly independent and I'll admit that when mum first suggested the idea to me I didn't think that it was necessary - I would be totally fine with everything three weeks after my c-section, right? - and may have been holding back the desire to remind her that I'm a big girl now.  :P Having reached that point now I am very grateful that her help is available to me - that is amazing, but not my main point.

In hindsight, and as I was talking to mumsy today, it has occurred to me that behind words like, "As long as you promise you won't do anything you shouldn't before I get there" is my mum - who still loves me as much as she did when I was 9 and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Who still cares as much as she did when I was 14 (and 15 and 16) and may have liked school if not for the bullies at school. My mother who worries about my wellbeing just as much as when I was 17 and pretty well concussed myself when I passed out making breakfast one morning. My mum who still wants to be there when she can, because how can you switch off being a mum when your child reaches a certain age or gets married and/or moves out of home. Perhaps I am only just beginning to understand that in some instances, letting go is just as hard as holding on and being there.

So, dear mother, thank you. Thank you for every day and every moment that you've loved me since I was born. Thank you for finding it within yourself to spread yourself even further as a single mother of four children and still being there for me and all of us. Thank you for your continued offers of help now, and for always being there to celebrate the small and the great things, as well as to commiserate when things go amiss. I will always owe you too much to repay, and I suppose I will pay it forward instead.

Love always,
Tracey

Monday, 30 September 2013

Sleep


  • Incoherent while reading to your toddler or talking to a friend?
  • Lack concentration?
  • Emotions disproportionate to the situation at hand?
  • Intolerant of loud noises and other minor inconveniences?
  • Having trouble remembering facts that are usually easily recalled?


YOU NEED SLEEP.


Best taken in large (consecutive) quantities, sleep has the power to improve your mental function, decrease irritability and improve your outlook on any day. Sleep also has the benefit of taking you to cosy, warm places on a cold day and is most effective when people under 3 feet are also sleeping or else otherwise occupied by a responsible adult.


Disclaimer: Sleep should not be taken when operating a motor vehicle / electrical equipment, or while holding infants. If symptoms persist, see your health care professional or consider consuming large quantities of chocolate. Please be advised that if your sleep deprivation is caused by tiny people that it really is all worth it. :) Just don't be afraid of going to bed at 7pm and, apart from feeding the newborn, staying there til 7am the next morning. 

Happy Mumma's Spot also recommends other precious commodities like solitary trips to the loo, and time to eat a decent meal.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Practical things I'd recommend for new mums.

Today I have been thinking about things I would recommend to other women who have just had, or are expecting a baby.

6 days ago I gave birth to a sweet baby boy. Totally worth it, but unavoidably painful. Every day has been a bit better, and today I am managing with just panadol... that is, after my trip to the chiropractor. Over the weekend I decided that half my aches and pains would be resolved if I saw the chiropractor, so I booked it in and have been there today. I was so right - I'm feeling pretty good without taking the additional pain killers I was given on discharge from hospital. So my first recommendation for someone who has just had a baby is that if you are experiencing back and/or neck pain, it is really worth the trip to the chiropractor... the downside to this is the cost if you don't have private health insurance, but something to think about nonetheless. I figure there's enough to deal with when you have a baby that eliminating a lot of pain is one less thing to worry about. And besides, you're important and deserve to look after yourself!

Another recommendation for mums is Hydrogel Disc Pads (which you can get from Coles) if you can and want to breastfeed. I suppose I don't have to go in to a great deal of explanation about that, but they definitely make things more comfortable while you and baby adjust to feeding.

There's a whole world of things out there that different mums feel they couldn't live without but today I think these are my top two!

Monday, 23 September 2013

One handsome and adored little man

Benjamin John Hutchings is 5 days old today.

Born Wednesday 18th of September 2013
Weight 2975gm (6 pounds 9 ounces)
Length 49 cm


Holding on to a wonderful daddy

After the c-section, they were finished and Jonathan walked with Benjamin to recovery before they took me out. After they'd gone ahead, one of the nurses there said to me how she walked in the room while Jonathan was holding Benjamin and that she loved the big smile on his face and how obviously proud he was of his little son. 

Yes dear boy, you have a pretty amazing daddy who loves you a whole lot!




Your sisters are pretty taken with you too. Every time they came to visit us in the hospital we had a chair either side of your cot and they would stand on it rubbing and patting your tummy or head. Then once they'd gotten to cuddle you it was all on! If Hayley didn't get to hold or at least see you as soon as she walked in the room she was pretty distressed. "Cuggle [cuddle] 'gain" was her little catch cry. Luckily Natalie was a little more patient, but she definitely wanted her chance too.
My girls getting to know their little brother
Yep, got all his toes
Natalie adoring her little brother - one of many cuddles to follow

Cuggle 'gain (cuddle again)
Not too keen on the bath
So many feeds in these first few days have been bleary eyed on both of our parts and at times it feels like it's killing me... but just watching your sweet little face and seeing your bright little eyes looking up at me from time to time is so worth it! If I wasn't afraid of falling asleep and dropping you I could hardly bear to put you down.


Love you baby,
From mummy.


It is good to be home again. The girls have both been very excited but have also been quite sensitive. Hayley especially will be quite beside herself about little things that she'd generally take in her stride. It's nice to be at home now and able to spend time with them and do things for them, and to reassure them that mummy isn't just all about the baby now! Given a bit of time, they'll hopefully start to feel secure about things again and despite the changes know that they're just as important now as ever. :)

There are so many people to thank who have helped Jonathan and I so much in the past few weeks of preparing for and having our little baby... people who have helped us sort out our house... have looked after our girls over the first few days of being in hospital, etc. ... people who have visited, given gifts, sent well-wishes, brought us dinner... Thank you all so much - you know who you are. xo

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Birth (Natalie's)

So, I have been thinking a lot about the births of Natalie and Hayley lately... (don't know what might be coming up in my life that made me think about that!) I shared Hayley's birth story around her first birthday, but I thought I'd share Natalie's. I know some people like birth stories, others don't, so feel free to read at your discretion.



Natalie: EDD 1/03/10, knew we were having a girl


  • Got to the hospital at 7pm, Sunday March 7, for scheduled induction with my midwife
  • Before the induction they monitor you to make sure you're not already in labour
  • At some point during this process, the midwife is out of the room and Jonathan gets me laughing which looks like on a contraction on their monitor
  • They must begin again and Jonathan is under strict instruction to stop making me laugh... which he largely ignores, haha!
  • Anyway when they get through that and after the induction the hospital staff tell Jonathan he should go home and get a good sleep, because nothing would start 'til the morning but it would be full on when it did!
  • Barely sleep and by midnight am feeling contractions so I press the call button in my room
  • Midwife (not my MGP one) comes and says this is probably just the effect of the gel, but nothing serious and will fade for many hours before the real fun starts
  • Midwife offers me panadol, which I feel is very condescending and wonder what she thinks panadol is going to do for this ridiculous pain
  • When she leaves the room I promptly desolve in to tears because I feel so misunderstood, lol
  • Contractions continue. As I thought, panadol did nothing!
  • Sometime in the next 30-60 minutes, called the midwife and told her pain was continuing
  • She looks at the monitor and says, "oh, you are having contractions" (really, I hadn't noticed) and possibly realises that I wasn't just whinging about a niggling pain
  • By now it is Monday, March 8!
  • About 5am I text Jonathan telling him I wished he were here and not to be too long
  • This does not communicate the fact that I am actually in labour and he is quite surprised when he arrives a little while later, not having been able to get back to sleep anyway
  • Labour is fairly standard, and I deal with it by not making a sound
  • About half way through my labour I actually manage to get out of bed and walk around etc, which greatly improves on lying in bed
  • At some point I say very quietly to Jonathan that I don't want to do this anymore
  • The midwife and Jonathan decide that since my objection was so meek, they won't worry about pain relief at this time
  • My MGP midwife makes it back to the hospital just in time to deliver Natalie, about 2:30pm
Ah, the memories. I dealt with it at the time by not really being present - no idea what went on around me during all those hours - but it is interesting to look back and think of the things I do remember.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Preparing for baby

Well, yesterday and today have been a flurry of baby preparation activities. After feeling for so long like I had plenty of time to prepare, it dawned on me at some point earlier this week how much there actually was to organise in order to be ready... like we had all the essential things like clothes and car seat sorted, but we hadn't really gotten very far with moving the house around to accommodate our new addition.

Yesterday once I had gotten the girls to childcare and been to the chiro I did a huge grocery shop... lest we be caught off guard with the arrival of a baby just when our cupboards are starting to look bare and/or don't really feel like doing a full grocery shop right after baby is born. (Had that with Hayley - not something I thought of at the time!) Then I came home and just got as much as I could done before leaving to pick up my girlies again.

Today - with the much appreciated assistance of various family members - we continued preparing. There was a trip to Ikea for a new set of drawers for baby, a lot of sorting, throwing out, finding homes for things, and rearranging our house in order to fit the new addition in to his room... and generally just not come home from the hospital to chaos! Oh, I also got my hospital bag packed - win! Thank you so so much to those who came over to help today - it was definitely appreciated and I'd say we wouldn't have achieved that much without you!

Now it's mostly a matter of nervously but excitedly waiting on the baby and seeing how things pan out, while also spending as much time enjoying our family as we can manage before we open our hearts further to a new little joy.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The low-down

So, a while ago I mentioned a report I was doing for school and that I would share it once it was done... this be that!

What are the factors that impact the emotional wellbeing of a child under 5, and what can parents do to support it?

Emotional wellbeing includes happiness and satisfaction, effective social functioning, and the dispositions of optimism, openness, curiosity and resilience[1]. Positive wellbeing results from the satisfaction of basic needs such as: tenderness and affection; security and clarity; social recognition; feelings of competence; and meaning in life. It influences the way children react to their environment and can be affected by their experiences in early childhood. Sound wellbeing may be evident in a child who: is resilient and has the ability to persevere; can cope with day-to-day stress; shows trust and confidence in others; can acknowledge and accept affirmation; can cooperate and work with others; is able to spend some time alone happily; can accept new challenges and find new ways of doing difficult tasks; will assert their independence; is considerate of others; and is able to empathise with another person’s emotions.[2]

There are many factors that impact the emotional wellbeing of a child under 5. There are some, however, that will have a more significant impact during childhood and throughout life than others. Some of these key factors are: attachment in a secure relationship with a caring adult[3], opportunities for exploration and learning[4], social interaction with peers, and routines. These factors, or lack thereof, shape a child’s view of the world as well as their perception of their place and value in it. Parents and/or primary carers have just as important a role to play in their child’s emotional development as they do in ensuring their child’s physical wellbeing. The first five years of life are the most critical time for this to take place[5]. With the proper understanding, parents can empower their children to be confident, resilient, and powerful people – now and in the future.

Parents can support their child’s emotional development by developing a secure attachment with their child/ren. In a survey entitled ‘Emotional Development’[6], participants were asked which factor they considered most important to a child’s emotional wellbeing. 100% of parents and professionals working with children stated an opinion that the most important factor to a child’s wellbeing was ‘security in relationships with one or more caring adults and the security of their environment’. Children learn and develop most in a relationship with a trusted adult. A parent’s role is to support their children in their desire to explore, by encouraging them to go out and learn about their surroundings while keeping them safe[7]. Parents also need to be welcoming when their children want to be close because they are hurt, frightened, or simply wanting time to be with and connect with the parent.

A child who senses that their parent is uncomfortable with their exploration may feel that it is unsafe to explore or that they need to stay close in order to please their parent[8]. This limits their ability to learn and develop important skills that also benefit their emotional wellbeing. Conversely, a parent who encourages their child to explore while watching over them to ensure that they are safe, enables their child to explore and learn new skills without fear for their safety or the loss of relationship with their parent. This naturally leads to higher levels of self-esteem and a sense of safety, both of which will impact positively on a child’s emotional wellbeing.

A child who senses that their parent is uncomfortable with their need for comfort or relationship learns to hide their need, and will continue trying to deal with unsettling feelings they don’t understand in order to protect their relationship with the parent. This creates great anxiety for the child. Parents who can welcome and be with their child to help them understand their emotions teach them that feelings can be shared, understood, and don’t have to be scary. These children will learn in time to regulate and cope with their own emotions after they have done so with the support of their parents[9].

Providing opportunities for a child to explore and learn is a way that parents can support their child’s emotional development. A child’s exploration and learning can also be an opportunity for children to develop dispositions – or habits of mind – that assist learning and development throughout life. According to a resource commissioned by the Government of South Australia, ‘Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together Families’ the dispositions are: curiosity, cooperativeness, confidence, resourcefulness, purposefulness and persistence, and communicativeness. Parents can assist the development of these dispositions by: allowing their child to explore their surroundings and answering verbal and non-verbal questions about what the child sees, allowing children to participate in household work and establish routines that allow their child to initiate things that they know will occur[10], encouraging their children to keep trying and/or find new ways of completing a difficult task, taking time to listen to their children, and allowing them to use any communication skills they have developed to communicate with their parent or carer.

Parents can support their child’s emotional wellbeing by developing a routine for their child[11]. This fosters a sense of security for the child as they learn to predict what is going to happen, and it increases their sense of independence and value as they are then able and allowed to participate in it. Routines also support children to develop valuable skills, referred to previously as ‘dispositions’[12], that will assist them throughout life and have a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. When participating in routines, children will hear and begin to use familiar language that enhance their communication skills, they learn the value of cooperating and participating, and they gain confidence as well as demonstrating the value of persistence when their ability to do the task improves[13]. Parents who have predictable routines for their children are supporting their child’s emotional wellbeing.

Parents can also support their child’s emotional wellbeing by facilitating opportunities for positive social interaction with peers. In the emotional development survey previously mentioned, one participant noted that while they considered security in relationships with a trusted adult and the safety of their environment to be the most important factor in a child’s emotional wellbeing, “it is also important for children to interact with peers and to have opportunities for exploration and learning within a safe and secure environment.” Parents do have a role to play in their child’s social interactions that will support that child’s emotional wellbeing. Young children are still developing social skills, and parents need to be present to intervene when conflict arises. For example, a parent can help a child understand that although they may wish to play with the toy their young friend is holding, snatching is not appropriate and they need to take turns. In doing so the parent acknowledges their child’s emotion, while limiting unacceptable behaviour[14]. In this instance, the child learns about turn taking – another aspect of cooperation – and also learns that they need and are increasingly able to control their impulsive desires. This is an important skill that supports their emotional wellbeing and will be needed throughout life as they attend school and enter the workforce.

There are many factors that influence the emotional wellbeing of children, and parents have a critical role in supporting that positive emotional development. In the ‘Emotional Development’ survey, participants were asked, “Do you feel that there are sufficient resources for parents and carers about the role of adults in the emotional wellbeing of children.” While 51% of participants responded ‘yes’, some who responded ‘no’ offered the following explanations of their choice: “Many parents I have worked with have shown concern for their own knowledge about caring for their child, and have asked for advice.” “We are unable to reach all parents.” “Parents who struggle to recognise their role in developing secure attachments should be offered more one on one practical support”.

In decades past, understanding and information about emotional development was limited and parents did not have access to thorough and reliable information about their child or children’s emotional development[15]. This is something that we can and need to change for the future, because parents and primary carers do have a significant impact on the emotional wellbeing of children in their care. Equipped with understanding and practical support regarding the specific things they can do to influence the emotional development of children, this impact can be a positive one that empowers those in their care - now and in the future.



[1] Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, Belonging, Being & Becoming
[2] Ibid
[3] Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin and Powell, Circle of Security, 2000
[4] Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together families, 2010, Government of South Australia, Department of Education and Children’s Services
[5] From ‘Engaging Families in the Early Childhood Development Story’. A national project on behalf of the Ministerial Council for Education; Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, published 2010
[6] Hutchings, T 2013, Emotional Development, <http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8KL9J7X>
[7] Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin and Powell, Circle of Security, 2000
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] Government of South Australia, Department of Health, 2010, Parent easy guide 51 - Growing and learning in the family
[11] ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, Love, Learning, and Routines
[12] Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together Families, 2010, Government of South Australia, Department of Health
[13] Ibid
[14] Ginott, H.G, Ginott, A, Goddard, H.W, 2003, Between Parent and Child, Three Rivers Press, New York

[15] Ibid

Monday, 2 September 2013

Hayley broke my glasses

Natalie: "Mummy, Hayley broke my glasses!"
Me: "What?!"
Natalie: "Hayley, you need to say sorry to my glasses"
Hayley "Sorry glasses"

At least they're cute, right?

And so what was planned for a quiet day at home turned in to a trip to the optometrist (luckily the glasses were covered under warranty) and then I thought we might as well get Natalie new shoes she needed and a few other things. Would you believe that the girls who will go many hours at home without  using the toilet needed/wanted to, but in any case insisted that we must, go to the toilet 3 time during the two hours we were out. Patience.

Life with kids sure can be interesting and sometimes it's hard to keep up with them... but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My girls are so affectionate, to me and Jonathan and to each other and you can't help but feel the love. Even when they're being a bit mischievous... it's hard to be upset when there is that level of cuteness! Meanwhile poor Natalie will be looking a little cross-eyed for a few days until the glasses come in, but I reckon the new ones are super cute.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Doing it 'by myself'

Lately both of my girls are becoming increasingly capable of performing little tasks for themselves that I had been doing for them. Sometimes these are things that they instinctively start to take over themselves, and some are things that all of a sudden I realise they could do if I asked them too. I don't always remember to ask them to (and - oops - have sometimes opted not to) do these sorts of things, but I know that I should. Some of these things are: putting their dirty washing in the basket when they have a bath, tipping their food scraps in to the bin and their dishes in the sink, helping to put toys away, assisting to clean up their own spills, etc. To different extents, both girls like to do chores with me. There are several reasons why I think this is important. More on that in a moment.

Natalie often says to me, "I want to help you do dishes." Sometimes this is ok, but there are moments when I find it really hard because I know it's going to take longer and in some instances I really just want to get it done in time to cook dinner, or go out, or welcome a visitor who I know is coming soon... but I try to let her join in whenever possible, because I don't want her to get to the point where she doesn't want to do it anymore or doesn't bother asking because she assumes the answer will be no. The time we spend doing 'ordinary' things are going to be sweet memories that I'll treasure later.

One of Hayley's latest phrases is, 'do it!' Basically it means she either wants me to stop helping her and let her 'do it' herself or else she wants to have a turn at what I am doing - of course if big sister can do it, so should she! It's pretty cute.


Allowing children to do things for themselves independently when they can, and helping them to increase that capacity is so important. They grow so much in confidence and happiness as they do these little things. Cooperating/assisting in household tasks is likewise important for that reason and also it teaches them skills they will need later in life, the value of working with others, and that they have a role to play in contributing to home life. That will of course transfer into work skills

I love my girls and am always pleased to see the new little things they can accomplish by themselves. There is a part of me that shouts, "Stop growing up" but I know that I just have to spend as much time in each of these moments as I can before things shift. Then I'll have a new stage to enjoy and not have to regret so much that I wasn't living in the moment they just moved out of.

The wheel keeps turning. Time won't stand still. So I remind myself to enjoy the now.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

All For You

I had a little laugh to myself one night realising that I'd forgotten how difficult it can be to move during this stage of pregnancy. It's funny how you forget these things... or at least the extent of them. But also amazing that we women keep doing it, because it's really all worth it in the end. I think to myself, "it's all for you, baby!" The aches and pains and uncomfortableness are all worth it.

That train of thought keeps me smiling through many things lately. Walking between the car and the hospital for Natalie's eye appointment in the pouring rain while Hayley was quite comfortable under the rain cover in the pram and I was getting the wettest because I gave up trying to keep myself dry and just held the umbrella over where Natalie was walking. (Natalie hasn't quite mastered how she could walk comfortably beside me with us both under the umbrella, lol). I just (try to) think to myself, "It's all for you, dear daughter"

Our family have all taken turns lately of being sick and on the weekend just past Jonathan was completely out of it. :( Somehow though the unusual amount of work and the things I could do to take care of him just filled me with joy at having the opportunity to show love to my family. It was a joy to do because it was for the husband I love - although I would never wish for him to be sick like that: Jonathan also returned all of that care when I had my turn of being sick - then I really got to empathise with him ;P

Sometimes I find it easy to enjoy running a house... it really is satisfying! But on the days when it feels monotonous I try to remember who it's all for and it seems to make it a little easier to do the things I need to do. I have often thought that you don't realise what life is really about until you're living your life for someone else... and lately that seems to be ringing true again!



Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Just What Your Kids Need

Lately I keep seeing this add campaign on the back of buses, etc. for some educational website that uses the slogan, "Just what your kids need. More time on the computer." Maybe it's just me, but I actually find that a bit appalling! In this society where kids (and often parents alike) already spend too much time on digital technology and not enough time with their family or having other meaningful experiences... I think it does families a disservice to encourage more time on these types of things. - Note I don't think it is wrong to use these resources, just that you have to have balance and good judgement about what types of things are good for your family.

In any case, it got me thinking about things that I would put in the category of 'just what my kids need.' I have finished a school project which talks about things like this (though in a different way) that I plan to post... but here are a few of them.

The first and foremost is of course, love. Ultimately it is unconditional love from parents and everything that comes with it that will help them to grow in to secure and happy adolescents and then adults.

This of course involves time. Time spent with YOU. Time spent doing the things that interest them. Time spent letting them help you in the things that you need to do. Time spent just exploring and enjoying the moment. Time in which time doesn't matter.

Kids need consistency. Children need to know that there are boundaries and that their parents will expect them to stay within those boundaries. They need to know that they won't be loved by their parents one day and practically ignored, or worst, the next. They thrive in routines where they can know what to expect... and when things are out of the ordinary because of circumstances beyond the control of their parents, they need support and understanding.

Anyway I'm sure none of that is terribly surprising to you, and there are plenty of other things that are more to do with their physical and mental development, but these are my thoughts for today!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Tasmania

There are so many things on my mind to blog about, but I haven't had the chance in the business of life and with our internet not working...

My trip to Tasmania was a long three days... kind of bitter-sweet, but also worth the trip I suppose.

I missed my husband and kids so much, but it served as a wonderful reminder of how much I love them and how much the stressful parts of life at home pale in to insignificance next to all the sweet moments that I can have, especially if I look for them.

It was wonderful to spend some time with my Aunty Vicki and my cousin Erin as well as Adam and his family, but of course it wasn't long enough. I hope though that there will be a time in the not too distant future when I can go with my Jonathan and the kids for a bit longer to see them.

It was wonderful to see my grandmother, but it was also an eye-opener to see how her dementia is effecting her. It made me realise that because of distance there may not be too many more times that I will be able to see her while she can figure out who I am. I have thought about it since then and it has occurred to me all the things about her life that I've never thought to ask her, but that I would love to know. It's funny that I didn't realise that I'd like to know those things and how they would help me understand her better.

I also saw my friend Emma of course. Again because of distance I don't often see her so this was wonderful. It was bitter-sweet though as we talked about the challenges she is facing at the moment (she has cancer) and again there was that sense of wanting to spend as much time with her as I can.

Overall I have been reminded that it is, undeniably, the people in your life that are really important. The things you can acquire, the places you can see, and experiences you can gain may enrich your life, but cannot bring you lasting happiness on their own.

Relationships are what matter. Nurture them and never let the distractions in your life take precedence over the people who matter most and are counting on you.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Baby Preparation

So, recently I decided that this month I would make sure I was ready for baby so that come September there would be no rush to get things together... at first I was thinking just about all the practical things, but then I started to consider that I need to get my girls prepared for the things that they may find... undesirable. Like the fact that I'm going to need to do things for the baby (like feeding) that only mummy can do and that they will, in fact, need to let daddy do things for them! The main thing I don't know what to do about at the moment is the fact that - in all likelihood - I won't be able to lift either of them for quite a while after our baby is born.

Yesterday I was enjoying a really nice day with my girls... like, really - just lots of cooperativeness and enjoying doing things together and it was awesome! Hayley was napping and when she woke up I went in there and when I picked her up out of bed she cuddled right in to me. What a highlight of any day, right? Then all of a sudden there was that moment of realising that I'm not going to be able to do that  soon, and I couldn't stop crying over it! Mostly because of how special those moments are for both of us, but the feeling that I just want to soak up every second of it until then, when in reality I should be getting her used to what it's going to be like so that she doesn't feel like I've suddenly become less interested in her because of her baby brother. 

I'm trying to remember when she's upset and wants a cuddle that I need to get down on the floor instead of picking her up, but it's easier said than done - especially when I'm also trying to get Natalie to be doing something too. Today I also encouraged Hayley to get in to the car by herself... she managed that, but not actually getting in to the seat. How I'll manage those type of things when I don't have other adult help is something I'm yet to figure out...

In general I am trying to help my girls (particularly Natalie as she can understand more) understand that having a new baby in our home will be a happy thing, but that there will also be things that they'll have to adjust to. I want Natalie to understand that she may have to wait at times when I am not able to do things for her as quickly, or she may have to let someone else help her... but somehow make sure that I compensate for both the girls so they don't feel 'replaced'.

Basically, I know this is a dilemma that parents have faced since forever - and I've done once before - but now I'm trying to find the best way to help our whole family adjust to a new family member. It is a little scary not knowing what to do - feel free to share your experiences!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

First Sunday Share - TOFW!

Ah, this is difficult. Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend Time Out For Women in Sydney with some good friends. It was fantastic, but it has me thinking about so many things that I don't know where to start today, for truly there is too much for one post! Now to share one standout thing...

I've been thinking a lot about how I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us. He has a Great Plan of Salvation for each of us - all of His children - that will make it possible for us to return to Him if we choose to accept the Atonement and do the things necessary.

Beyond that though, I know that God knows each of us perfectly and that He has a plan for us as individuals. Sometimes it is a scary thing to trust that He knows what is best for you, but if we ask in faith the answers will always be for our good even if they are not what we had hoped, expected, or planned for.

I have come to realise that what Heavenly Father gives me is always what is best for me. Often in life we get more, less, or something different than what we thought - in our limited view - would be best. Sometimes we have to wait a long time, or are able/need to do things sooner than we planned.

Whatever it may be, I know that it is always for our good and that if I trust in the Lord to answer my prayers the way He sees fit, I will be happy. It's not always easy to remember that when you're waiting for something or when there are things you are struggling with - but I have seen it again and again.

I'll leave you with a video. Hilary Weeks was at Time Out For Women and she sang many songs, but this is possibly my favourite.


Saturday, 20 July 2013

How far?

So, I have officially reached a point where people are no longer afraid to ask about my pregnancy. When they do ask, it's no longer a timid, "Are you pregnant?" but rather a confident. "How far along are you?"

It's pretty fun, and it has been nice of late to also be able to notice more of my little baby's movements. Sometimes I can see my tummy moving and Jonathan definitely gets more of a chance to notice too... it used to be that whenever I'd tell him the baby was moving that he would stop and Jonathan missed out.

Two and a bit months and it won't be about when the baby is due any more :)

Loving life! xo

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Teaching Accountability / Responsibility

Recently I have been reading a couple of different books that have talked, at least in part, about teaching appropriate behaviour through consequences rather than 'punishment'. The principle is that you can help children to change inappropriate behaviour in ways that maintain their self-respect as well as their respect for you and their emotional security. I have found what I've read to be really practical and easy to understand. It has also complimented what I have learned in my study related to emotional development in children.

Today I had the opportunity to put what I've learned in to practice. It was quite amusing actually.

My three year old has recently had a bit of regression as far as toilet training is concerned... She basically just won't go to the toilet until she's a bit wet already - which has meant many changes throughout the day and quite a stretch of my motherly patience. I've felt at a bit of a loss as to why it's happening and how to get her back on track, but I felt empowered today to be responsive as opposed to reactive.

Today we had been having a lovely afternoon - My younger daughter was napping and we had been enjoying playing a few games she has and had started on some craft when she had one of these accidents. When she had been to the toilet we discovered that there were no knickers left in the drawer. I neglected to mention that there was some in a clean laundry basket and calmly told her that she could put some pyjama pants on, we would need to pack up the craft, and then put her knickers in the wash. When the craft was packed up and I said it was time to do the washing her response was, "You wash the knickers, I will watch TV."

Ha! I had a chuckle to myself about that but calmly told her no, and that she needed to help me. When we were in the laundry and she was throwing things in the machine she noticed that "There's lots of knickers." We will see how things go in the next few days, but I am hopeful that if I can be less reactive to stressful parenting moments and respond to them in this way that we can negate the battles that have seemed unavoidable in the past.

In this moment, I am just grateful that a situation which would ordinarily have soured some nice time together turned out quite differently with a new perspective.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The 'Make' to Conquer Cancer

So here it is: my massive make for The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

As I have mentioned on previous blogs, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer last year. Thankfully he is now in remission. I also lost a friend to cancer a few years ago and know several other people who have been affected by it.

As I mentioned on my FB page, my husband, brother-in-law, Aunt and Uncle are all riding in 'The Ride to Conquer Cancer' and have formed a team. Basically, this event aims to raise funds and awareness for cancer research and they all need sponsors! As we will have a young baby (the ride is November 30 - December 1) I don't feel able to be part of the crew but there is something I can do!

In the next few months I am aiming to raise money for the cause by selling hand-made crafts. The prices will vary depending on how long an item takes to make, and there may be 1 or 2 items that will require the buyer to supply their own material. Here are some examples of the types of things I can make:




Scrapbooking pages: really the sky is the limit, it depends on your preferences and what the photo inspires me to!



Probably the most involved project I've done and there will definitely be a limit on the number of these I can make!


A pillowcase and cushions. Obviously the dimensions of the cushions can vary!

I don't have photos yet, but I can also do greeting cards and am working on a pattern for a stuffed animal toy. If you have any ideas, just ask and I'll let you know if it's possible!

Also, If you can help by letting people know about what I am doing here or about sponsoring one of my family members for the race, or if you have materials you feel you can donate to the 'making business' it would be much appreciated. :D
If there is enough interest, I may have to see if I can enlist some people in the making ;)