It finally got us…

There is nothing like a good dose of winter ills to make you really appreciate how great life is when you are fit and healthy! For weeks I have been listening to Mums tell me about their families latest bout of illness, there’s been a bit of everything out there… chickenpox, colds, tummy bugs… and I have been busy touching wood and saying how incredibly healthy my kids have been this year.

Well, this week we got our turn… it all started at work on Thursday when my phone rang and the preschool number popped up on the screen, this always causes my blood pressure to rise ever so slightly! This time it was Miss Tilda with rather gunky red eyes. 24 hours later we were in the thick of it with two kids sporting gunky eyes and green snotty noses and Mumma struck down with a nasty head cold, dodgy voice, tickly cough and generally feeling 100% crap! The upside being that my day off work was completely warranted with three of us at home… the downside being that I felt completely and utterly washed out but still had two delightful monkeys to care for all day! To their credit the day wasn’t as bad as I first expected Louis and Matilda are developing a lovely relationship and they play and interact together so well when big brother isn’t in the mix. Louis loves to role play and Matilda goes along for the ride taking instructions from him quite happily, it was amazing to sit back and watch their interactions as they trotted round together cooking food, working on the farm and driving in the dirty white truck. Then came the time that I gave myself a pat on the back for working so hard on developing and maintaining quality sleep routines… at midday on the dot they both trotted off to bed for what turned into 2 hour naps, giving me my much longed for time and space to rest and try to recharge my batteries.

A couple of days down the track now and there seems to be light at the end of our winter illness tunnel, at least for the kids… I am writing this in the far too early hours of the morning after being kicked out of bed with my annoying tickly cough!

Come out, come out…

… wherever you are…!! Absolutely hanging out to see some sun as I am currently drowning in a sea of laundry! Pre children I was such a laid back type of laundry person, a load every couple of days seemed to be sufficient, chuck it on the line for a day or two and as far as I remember (with my extremely fried baby brain) it all seemed to work out just fine! But dear god have things changed in the last 4 and a half years… I have turned into some kind of crazy Mrs Wishy-Washy and nothing sends my anxiety into overdrive than piles of laundry in various states around the house…. dirty, wet, dry, unfolded, folded…! So three days with absolutely no sun is a complete nightmare!

We can thank the original owner of our home for the extremely poor placement of the clothesline, yes it is private and out of view but during the winter only one lucky 30cm section actually sees the sun. Finally after two winters living here I resigned to the fact that using the clothesline is an absolute waste of time for about 5 months of the year. I have instead developed a complex rotation system using my indoor clothes racks. Our neighbours must love it when I squeeze the full racks out the front door and put them on full display in the driveway to make the most of the morning sun, before bringing them round the back in the afternoon! Thanks to the cloudy, grey weather of the last few days I now have no idea which clothes on the racks are wet or dry and I honestly don’t know where to start to rectify the problem! From where I am standing the only way to move forward seems to be… sun, sun, sun… and a little breeze too!

There is also a second small issue that is contributing to the oversupply of washing; that being Louis’ obsession with constantly changing outfits. He loves to role play so he pops in and out of the kitchen announcing that he is off to rugby practice or going out diving for crayfish, each of these activities require at the least a change of socks, but all too often it becomes a whole change of clothes too. I seriously can’t keep track of which clothes are clean or dirty and I kick myself for not checking through the basket before heaving it all into the machine as I hang out 3 pairs of shorts and 4 pairs of socks all belonging to one child. According to my mother he inherited this wonderful trait from non other than Mrs Wishy Washy herself… I am so so sorry Mum, for the winter laundry pain I put you through!

 

3 is an awesome crowd…

Been thinking heaps lately about how absolutely blessed we are to have these three super cool wee monkeys in our lives. Think my hubby thinks I am a bit crazy as I keep saying things like… “can you believe we made them?” and… “seriously we are completely responsible for them!” I’m not sure what has happened, maybe it’s the fact that Miss Matilda has mastered walking so when I look out the window there are three beautiful wee people outside playing together on the deck, they suddenly seem so independent and like a real ‘team’ of siblings. Unfortunately for us that ‘team’ also outnumber us, so when the boys decide to run around squealing and avoiding the bath while their sister is already in there, it is near impossible for the remaining adult to coax them into the bath without some serious bribery!

Willem is now 4 (and a very important) half! Completely and utterly ready to go to ‘Daddy’s School’, he has a keen interest in books, letters, sounds, numbers, countries, animals, building stuff, singing and talking. He loves his baby sister to the moon and back a million times over, he feeds her breakfast, invites her into his room to play and finds her beloved ‘taggy’ when she is sad.

Louis is now 2 (and a just as important) half! He is quite seriously 2 going on 52, he likes routine and especially likes negotiating to get what he wants. Louis loves boats, diving, gear, fishing, fishing gear and books about fishing and diving! Nothing fills him with more pleasure than playing with Daddy’s dive gear. He stills loves his afternoon siestas but I suspect this is because Daddy told him he has to sleep to grow… and he’s got a lot of growing to do to fill Daddy’s wetsuit!

Our baby no more Matilda is now 14 months old and she is a very busy young lady. Having just refined her walking skills she is on a constant mission to return the boys drink bottles, shoes and socks to them! Matilda can locate Louis’ special ‘taggy’ and ‘wol wol’ quicker than any of the rest of us. She loves to do whatever the boys are doing, especially bouncing on the trampoline with Willem or fishing with Louis in his inflatable boat.

3 kids means… a full back seat, a full washing line everyday, not having enough hands to hold every child’s at once, chaotic meal times, a constant rotation of making and tidying up snacks and what seems like a million pairs shoes to dig through to find a pair. It’s 3 times the tantrums, tears and bums to wipe!

3 kids also means… a full bed of snuggles in the morning, constant hilarious conversations, days that fly by in a whirlwind and always having a buddy to play with. It’s 3 times the high fives, smiles, cuddles, kisses goodnight and 3 times the LOVE!

If you had told me 6 years ago that I would be sitting at the dinner table looking at three grubby little faces with bright shining eyes I don’t think I would have believed you, but here we are… absolutely and totally BLESSED!

“Crazy busy, yet strangely bored…”

I read this description of being a stay at home parent somewhere recently, I can’t for the life of me recall where I read it but it resonated with me and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since laying my eyes on it. “Crazy busy, yet strangely bored…” puts into words perfectly how I have been feeling on and off for the last 4 years.

Even now as I look around my eyes settle on an endless number of tasks that need to be done… there is washing to finish folding and put away, preschool profile books to read and  write in, a stack of photos lie waiting to be put in albums, the floor (as always) needs a good vacuum and the kids toilet needs a clean (a constant task in a house with two male toilet using toddlers!) But it hardly seems worth starting a task now with only half an hour until preschool pick up and the possibility of the baby waking up at any moment. Being a stay at home parent is BUSY, every day and week there are a multitude of tasks… preschool drop off and pick ups, washing, cleaning, dog walking, doctors and Plunket appointments, swimming lessons, grocery shopping and the constant making, serving and tidying up of meals. Now is probably a good time to give some well deserved credit to my amazing husband, or maybe the credit should go to my mother in law for raising a son who does more than his share of household chores. He is an absolute god send and without his input I would be drowning in a sea of unfolded washing!

So with this endless list of commitments how could a stay at home parent ever be bored? I love my kids to bits and this love grows and grows every day, week and month but as a stay at home Mum I miss and crave the stimulation and diversity that a day at work brings, not to mention the interaction with other adults! I honestly believe that I was at my happiest and most motivated last year when I was doing 4 mornings of part time work. As I reflect now the logistics of getting showered, dressed, made up, lunches made, bags packed, washing hung out  and dropping 2 kids at preschool by 9.15am all while being pregnant seems like an absolute nightmare, but it was all worth it for how much more refreshed and patient I felt with the kids in the afternoons following a morning at work. While I have committed this year to being at home and breastfeeding my beautiful wee girl till her first birthday my brain is already ticking away planning my escape from the confines of these 4 walls in 2017!

4 already!

With the recent 4th birthday of our eldest, I have have been reflecting on the last 4 years and how our lives have changed from the days of being on double incomes with just a labrador, to being a crazy, chaotic family with 3 kids (and a labrador) on one income.

I get asked all the time how I cope with having 3 kids, people are especially interested in the fact that they are so close in age (21 months between the first and second and 20 months between the second and third). My usual answer is that number 3 is a breeze, it’s the other 2 that are tough going! In all honesty the age gap is a personal preference kind of thing, we had a long journey to have our first baby so were slightly older than we had planned to be when starting our family so it made sense to us to try and pop them out in pretty quick succession. My theory is also to get all the ‘baby-ness’ over and done quickly without leaving too much time for the body and mind to get accustomed to long stretches of sleep!

Honestly though, 3 under 4 has really not been too bad, we have a good daily routine including the 2 big kids going to preschool 3-4 mornings each, compulsory sleeps/quiet TV time at 1pm and a pretty strict dinner, bath, story, bed routine between 5.30 and 7pm. Oh yes… it feels like groundhog day everyday, but it’s just what we have to do for the foreseeable future to maintain our sanity and make sure we get some time together in the evenings. It might seem like a bit of a random thing but… I do washing everyday… yip everyday… rain, hail or shine, if I miss just one day I tend to feel like I am drowning and it becomes the catalyst for feeling like life is getting on top of me.

Each week we each try to spend some time 1:1 with the kids, especially the boys. Louis has 2 and Willem has 1 “Mummy Day’, a morning spent with Mummy and their baby sister while the other big boy is a preschool. Louis loves to help me bake or prepare dinner, while Willem has a swimming lesson and a cafe treat in town. Daddy also tries to slip in some time during the weekend with one or both of the boys, he takes them out running in the buggy stopping at the beach to hunt for crabs or they take the dog to the beach for a swim and try to skim stones. They are all growing up so quick so we really try and make the most of these precious times.

Sometimes the hardest thing in such a busy house is to find time to connect as a couple, the moment Daddy comes in the door the boys want his undivided attention so they can tell him about the songs they sang at preschool or show him their latest Duplo creation. This often frustrates him as he often wants 5 minutes peace to get changed and wind down after work, he has learnt though that it is best to give them some time and the last of his energy before setting them up in front of TV. We then find ourselves with a 20 minute window to catch up on each others days while one of us puts the finishing touches on dinner. And as I said we are real sticklers for the 7pm bedtime, so that we catch a couple of hours together before hitting the hay. Thanks to my husband’s awesome parents who live relatively close we get to treat ourselves to the odd ‘date night’, although we do find ourselves home and tucked up pretty early in preparation for our gorgeous little early risers!

Oh how our lives have changed in 4 super short years… from sleep inns, late dinners with friends (and copious amounts of wine), weekends of going our separate ways to play sport and early morning walks together with the dog to arguing over who lies next to Mum in the big bed, McDonalds Happy Meals, weekends doing the rounds of the local playgrounds and sneaking down the hallway hoping for that first cup of tea alone and in peace! It’s crazy and chaotic, fast-paced and at times frustrating but I firmly believe the keys to making it look easy are… Routine and teamwork.

If the last 4 years are anything to go by I am sure the next 1 will absolutely fly by… so crazy, exciting and nerve racking to think that in less than 12 months our dear wee man will be off to “big school”, I know he will be well and truely ready and we will all embrace the next crazy and chaotic chapter of our lives.

Dinner Dramas

Sometimes in the middle of dinner my husband glances up at the clock and mouths something along the lines of “73 minutes babe… 73 minutes!” Long gone are the days of sitting opposite, or even better beside each other at the dinner table making civilised conversation while using both hands to eat a hot meal. No, no, no… dinner time has become a military type operation consisting of gently encouraging (force feeding!) a picky 4 year old, reigning in the enthusiasm of a speed eating 2 year old, keeping spoonfuls up to a keen solids starter and filling constantly empty drink bottles all while we attempt to eat our own dinner and encourage polite conversation and good table manners!

The planning towards dinner begins on a Sunday night when I give everyone the chance to choose one meal for the week, the next step are the inevitable tears as Mr. Picky realises that Watties “orange spaghetti” is not a valid choice! Eventually they all make a choice and I go about planning the week to ensure that we don’t have pasta 3 nights in a row. Weekly meal planning is a relatively new concept in our house and although it seems like a drag on Sunday night it makes the grocery shop (usually done online) so much easier and eliminates the daily discussion/argument between my husband and I. Don’t get me wrong the meal choosing and planning are not solutions to Mr. Picky’s eating ‘issues’ but it does help in that we can talk about what is for dinner during the day and this has put a stop to the outburst of wailing when he gets up to the table and sees what is on his plate.

The challenge has been in finding meal ideas that contain meat and vegies, but are not just the traditional ‘meat and 3 veg meals’ that I was brought up on and that my husband would probably prefer. I must admit Chelsea Winter’s awesome cook books have been a god send in providing me with nutritious, family friendly meal ideas. Some of our favourite Chelsea meals are… ‘Good Green Spaghetti’, ‘Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs’, ‘Beautiful Bolognese’ and  ‘Spaghetti Amatricana’. We are also big lasagne fans… lasagne makes me happy as it contains meat and I can cram/hide lots of vegies in it too (and if I play my cards right I can make it last 2 nights!).

P.S. All going to plan, 73 minutes is the approximate time left before our three gorgeous munchkins will be all tucked up in bed.

 

Wouldn’t change a thing…

I couldn’t put it off any longer, tonight I put my third and final baby into her big girl sleep sack for the first time. To be honest my beautiful Buddha babe had been wriggling out of her swaddle for the last few weeks but it was all about me I didn’t want to come to the end of the ‘newborn’ stage. A stage of our lives that seemed to take forever to kick off is now over, just like that.

Just over 7 years ago I married my best friend; a man who has the ability to inspire me and challenge me all while making me feel appreciated, loved, safe and secure. He has the most amazing ability to bring calm to any situation and his eternal positivity is so refreshing. For many years we had lived our lives by his theories of “everything happens for a reason” and “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. These theories came into play in a major way during our 3 year journey from deciding to start a family to the birth of our first wee man.

Our journey to parenthood was not nearly as long and difficult as many couples but it was still testing and at times heartbreaking. We went through years of ‘trying’ only to be disappointed month after month, we both had many tests only to be told that there was nothing ‘wrong’ with either of us. Finally after making the decision to fund our own IVF treatment we were pregnant and had 10 little embryos on ice. The road to completing our family came much easier as I managed to fall pregnant naturally with babies two and three just after the first birthdays of babies one and two and while still breastfeeding! Amazingly once my body had done it once it well and truely knew what to do! While this journey to parent hood was long and sometimes painful we have come to the realisation now that we really wouldn’t change a thing. 

In those years of ‘trying’ we grew so much as a couple and spent some wonderful times together, a couple of overseas holidays, fab dinners with our childless friends, (with many many bottles of wine consumed!), my husband gained and nailed his first leadership role, we enjoyed the bonus of having two incomes and managed to live a fun lifestyle while still knocking a good chunk off our mortgage. When we held that first little bundle in our arms we really were ‘ready’ to be parents. By about week three of being parents we decided that if we had fallen pregnant the first month we were trying we would have been far too young!

Everything really does happen for a reason, we were meant to enjoy each others company as newly weds and be financially stable before having kids and it really was meant to be, 3 times over it would seem! My baby girl is still squeezing quite nicely into her bassinet, so I don’t have to give up that little piece of babydom just yet!

My Marathon Mad Man…

Sometimes I look at you in all your sweaty, smelly, fluro yellow running gear and I wonder if we have anything at all in common!  I mean you run… Not because a wild boar is chasing you, but because you love it, you crave it and you go just a tiny bit crazy without it! I run because  there is a sudden down pour threatening my carefully pegged washing or because I fear that Willem will suffocate Louis in his well meaning big brother cuddle!

What I do know we have in common is our unmeasurable love for our two amazing boys and our desire for them to be the best they can be. Both of their often grubby wee faces light up when you get home from work each day, this is testament to the relationship that you have with each of them and the attention and love you shower them with. You are an amazing role model to them and if they can be even half the man you are I will be proud.

You are our goal setter, motivator, provider and above all our much loved Daddy. You have already shaped my life in so many ways, you have challenged me and taken me places I could never have imagined going. I know this is only the beginning and there are so many more adventures to come… bring it on!

Love you to the moon and back babe x