Thursday, May 28, 2015

shrinkie dinkie

We were at the craft shop the other day and they had a 50% off sale.
Nothing gets me going more than 50% off. It's a perfect opportunity to buy twice as much as you would already.

Or in this case. To walk in to a store and buy lots of very VERY useful things. Amirite?

I'd been looking out for some shrink plastic ever since seeing a very nice tutorial for making shrinkie jewellery in Mollie Makes but could only find it online with a hefty postage fee.
So you can imagine my delight when I saw it in that very craft store for (ahem) 50 blessed percent off.

The plastic was in. the. bag.

And so, the girls and I have had lots of fun experimenting.

It started off as one of those crafts that Mama does while the girls draw or paint because
- It's kinda tricky to draw on the plastic when you have small hands.
- I'm still a recovering control freak.

but then I realised that Lu could draw on a piece of paper, put the plastic over the top and colour in the drawing, and then I could trace her drawing onto the plastic with a black texta.

This makes for some very sweet (almost) completely kid made brooches.



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

sessions with a 4yo

Today I've got a special hilarious treat for you.
It's a video of me and the little one singing a little song.

I learned a few lessons.

1. Put a mirror in front of a preschooler and she wont be able to help being "fabulous."

2. If you sing a song enough times to your kid they will remember it.

3. Let it Go is not the only song in a small child's repertoire.

4. Once again, the imperfect things are often the best.


Enjoy.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

21/52





I cut the girls hair this week. Yes me.
Yes, I'm a little bit crazy.
No, they did not cut my hair.

It actually turned out pretty well.

I've been joking about cutting Smalls' hair for months. She had developed the famous baby hair curly mullet. Her hair was always in her face and her curls were everywhere.
Having hair as straight as Tony Abbot I really have little idea about how to manage curls and it was just getting a bit ridiculous.

So, armed with the knowledge that I may cut off my small ones curls forever I asked her if she would like to make an appointment at Salon de Mama. She said "Yes."

I love this kid to bits but she has been known to change her mind more than once a second so I wasn't going to give her time to back up.
I grabbed my comb, scissors and water spray bottle and off we headed to the backyard.

She sat beautifully. Mostly still. I think the fear of the scissors-near-face did it.
She wanted a cuddle a few times because two years old but we got through.
I think it looks pretty cute in a kind of 1920s curly flapper kind of way.

The curls are not as ringletty and sweet as they used to be but I figure they might come back. I might have to do some more curl maintenance googling.


Lu, the Rapunzel wannabe agreed to go next when I told her that the best way to grow long hair is to give it a little cut now and then.*
She's been telling everyone she sees about her "trim" and how special and important it is with the most solemn and serious face. It's very sweet.

Would I do it again?
Perhaps.
It sure beats the $50+ I could have spent at the hairdresser and after all, it's only hair. It will grow back right?



*I assume this is true????

PS - I'm totally copping bad parent points for only posting a picture of one child but the other one was pulling faces she really doesn't want on the internet. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

reclaiming joy - as we remember




joy.

It's a feeling usually associated with dancing round a maypole with a Wigglesesque grin on your face but a feeling I am certain is possible to feel with tears pouring down your face.*

I've been thinking about joy lately.
I've had a number of conversations with people who feel robbed of their joy.
As Christians they know they are safe and secure in the love of God and it's not like they're doubting, they're just not feeling the joy. They feel stuck in the doldrums of following life. Plodding along like elephants holding the tail of the one in front.
I feel this way too sometimes.
It's easy to get stuck in the "doing" and forget the immense joy that the gospel brings.

But this joy doesn't necessarily bring hand waving and manic behaviour. (Though I guess it probably could?) It goes much deeper than that.
It's the wind beneath your sails, the wings that cover over, the intense peace, the hope of a world to come.
It pushes you through the hard times and turns your face heavenward in the good.
It comforts you when you weep and gives you a beat to dance to when you feel on top of the world.

It is joy.
And it comes from God.

But how can we really FEEL it?
How can we reclaim the joy that according to Galatians 6 comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Well like the small offering of pumpkins and strawberries we have grown in our garden over the summer it takes tending and watering and cultivating.
So to cultivate joy I need to sit and think happy thoughts? Or pull my cheeks back so I'm always smiling? Well...no.

I'm going to write four posts about cultivating and reclaiming the joy that comes with knowing Jesus.

As We Remember
As We Are Thankful
As We See Lives Saved
At The Foot of the Cross


So, As We Remember.

I love the Old Testament.


It's the biggest section of the bible, spans over a huge ammount of time, covers many different literary genres and has some really sticky controversial passages.
But what I love about it is that it contains one bigger story that flows right through the Old and is completed in the New Testament.

It's the story of God and his glory.
How he made the earth and all that is in it. How he made people and never ever ever stopped loving them. Despite the ways they shoved all his creation and love back into his face.
He never ever ever stopped loving them.

As I sit and read the pages of the Old Testament and read each story as a small part of a much bigger narrative I am filled with joy.

I squirm along with the best of them at the scary passages about war and conquest but on the flipside I see a God giving people over to their desire to live away from him.
I see the destruction of the flood that Noah survuived but also see the sadness in the eyes of the God who was grieved to have made us.
I gloss over books where great detail is taken to write down just how many golden bowls belong in the temple and just how many days is good to lie down after having a baby but on the flipside I see a God so holy that even his name could not be spoken.

And this God, this holy revered, powerful, grieved God, in order to be made more glorious, made himself nothing so that we could know him.

What joy. What deep abounding joy.

We must remember what he has done. Just after God brought his people up out of slavery in Egypt he gave them his law, his way to live, and told them not to forget.

10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build,11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig,and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied,12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:10-12

He tells his people to pass Gods laws down to their children to talk about them and to write them up for all to see. As we remember what God has done even before we were born, even before Jesus was born we are filled with joy at the power and glory of this eternal God.

So get into it! Get into the Old Testament and see what God has done. See the way he has loved his people. See how his love challenged them sometimes quite brutally but that his love never ended.

And indeed it did not end with the Old Testament. I'm going to talk about the New Testament in another post but lets skip ahead a few years. In the many many years since Jesus there have been Christian men and women who went before us. Their lives at times amaze us with the depth of their faith but even more amaze us with the depth of Gods love for them.

His love extends to the ends of the earth.

I feel a great sense of joy thinking of all the people who have gone before. The ones we have heard about like Martin Luther and John Calvin, like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and the multitudes who never became well known in this world but who were and are so precious to God.

When we remember what God has done through the ages from the begining of time. When we remember who he is and reflect on his glory.

There, we find joy.




*I heard this description at a womens conference about 10 years ago and it has stuck with me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Here is the proof

As a follow up to my last post on motherhood.

Tonight I was feeling a bit sad and sorry for myself. It's nearly holidays and everyone has a cold. You know. It's just that sad and sorry time of year.

Anyway, Lu had just started to feel wheezy. She has undiagnosed asthma* and I went to go get her puffer. As is likely to happen with small children I found the medicine parts stored away on top of the fridge, but the spacer was nowhere to be found.

I seached high and low feeling super worried that my little girl may soon find it increasingly harder to breathe. I looked and looked but I couldn't find it. I started to well up. What a bad mum. 

And then I heard footsteps.

"Have you found my puffer?" The little voice asked.
I said that I had not.
"Is your chest hurting too Mama? You look sad." She said.

I like to be honest with my kiddo. I hope it means she wont feel weird if she feels the same things.
"No, I'm not sick like that. Mamas just sad because I feel like I'm not doing a good job of being a Mama."
"Why do you feel like that?"
"Well, because I can't find your puffer and if I can't do that I can't look after you properly."

There was a pause but not much of one.

"It looks like you're a great Mama. I think that you're doing a great job."

My heart broke. Out of the mouths of babes.
You know, she is one of only two people who can tell me that and I know for a fact it is true.
So I'd better believe it.

Crisis was averted. Myl fortuitously walked in the door early from work and popped to the chemist for another spacer and my little girl is sleeping safely tucked up in her blankets.

I'm sitting her feeling humbled and thankful.




*Undiagnosed because she is under 5 and they don't diagnose it that young.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

songs - two for the price of one

I've had a few songs up my sleeve for a while.

The first is a little song I put together with the words of the prayer I pray for the girls each night.
It's short and sweet and Lu says she likes it. So I guess it works.




The second is Amazing Grace - Lullaby version.
With violin.




I've set myself the task of finishing the songs in one setting in one evening. This means they are very far from perfect. Forgive me.
If it were anything more than a hobby I would agonise and make it perfect.
But I think the agony ceases to make it fun.

That being said. Every time I listen to these tracks I hear the imperfections.
So maybe one day I will change the rules.

It was really fun to do.
It was especially nice to get out my violin and use this lovely feature on Garage Band in which you can create a loop and do as many takes of a particular section as you want.

I find the opportunities (as a non professional music playing adult) to get my violin out are few and far between. It's been good to put 13 years of lessons to use.


I hope you enjoy these.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

19/52



1. Scooting along. That look. 

2. Chocolate froyo face and a strong shoulder to lean on. Peashuhh Dada cuddul.

We celebrated Mothers Day on Myls day off. A Thursday. It makes sense. 

The girls had made me a card and brought me breakfast in bed. 
We trekked back to our old hometown and had pie and milkshakes. We walked down King St and I got a new Mothers Day dress. Then we went to Sydney Park and the girls scooted around. Smalls is still a little uncertain and needs a little help in the steering department but Lu is getting really brave. She powers on but needs a little assistance with the brakes. Eek!

The next day I was given a treasure map at home and went round the house (with Lu's assistance) to find presents hidden all over. 
There was an itunes gift card - because I sing with the girls
some pyjamas - for snuggling
some sweets - because we all like sweets to share
and some seeds - because we like to garden together. Friday is our gardening day. 

Each night as I sing the girls to sleep, Lu sits up and says 
"Mum, I've got a present for you."
"What's that?" I say
"A kiss and a hug."
"Ah," I say "that is my favourite present of all."
And so she pops out of bed and comes and gives me a big hug and a big kiss and runs back to bed. 
I was treated to many of my favourite presents this week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

the makings of a mother




Every now and then I try to piece together what it is I'm actually doing with this life I've got.

Between the breakfast in bed and the preschool made cards this weekend I've been reflecting on motherhood.
Mothers Day, why not?

It seems the world has plenty to say.

I've read plenty of articles from ridiculous "10 Worst Mother" click bait to Social Work textbooks detailing child psychology. I've been wary of the books that promise a better child in ten easy steps and I've scanned over comment sections on articles posted on MamaMia just to get a rise out of people.

I can remember wearing myself to exhaustion over a sleep training book when Lu was 9 months old. Writing all the things she was doing down in a notebook and trying to train her to sleep.

Everyone's got an opinion and an idea about how to do it. You could ask me, I've got my ideas too.

And then there's the "Mommy Wars." This confuses me. The only evidence I have seen of these so called wars is in the articles telling us how horrible they are. Or the videos (promoting formula) that tell us they must stop!? Or the comments... Never read the comments.
All the mums I meet are generally happy to let others be and understand from their own lives the difficulty and exhaustion that comes with being a mum and so, despite our difference in style the're happy to be sympathetic and supportive.

But maybe I'm just surrounded by nice people?

And then there's the advertising. All. The. Things.
The 50 essential newborn items.
The 260 soft toys your one year old needs for their development.
The 3948723 single use toys you MUST have.
And now that school looms on the horizon. The choices.
I had always assumed we would just go to the local school (and we still will)
BUT THE CHOICES!
The after school activites to turn your precious one into a genius or a sports superstar or a prima ballerina.
The opportunities!!!!
And the other kids, a mini advertisment in themselves. Often, a guilt trip of where your own kid is at.

I can remember seeing some other 18month old who could count to 10. When we went home Lu was drilled. C'mon child COUNT!

And then there's the way I was raised. Out in the fresh air in the country. Every breath of city air reminds me of what I'm not doing.

And then, and then, and then....

And then there are two sweet girls tucked up into their beds as I write.

They are the ones that made me a mother. They are what I am doing.

They are the manual to read. When they are telling me they want to play faries in the garden, or that they are hungry or that they love special treat late night outings to get sushi and ice cream.
They were the babies that refused to be put into a book I could read about.
The baby that at nine months old just wanted to have milk and a cuddle but at four goes to sleep with a book and comes for a lovely morning cuddle at an incredibly reasonable hour.

They are the little girls who couldn't give a hoot what some other mother thinks about the way they are being brought up. They are completely oblivious.
As hard as it is to believe based on the way I see myself, I am their favourite person.
I know it may not always be so but for now it is.

They are the girls who can make fun out of playing with sticks and cutlery and at the same time simply adore all the Disney princesses despite my best efforts to minimise their involvement in our lives. They like playing with duplo but also just like hanging out with Myl and I.
The only time they notice the things we lack is at the toy shop but the memory is easily forgotten.

The only reason I am a mother is because of them. I can take the books and the fancy toys and the awesome after school activities but if I'm doing them for anyone else other than those two little sleeping ones then I'm wasting my time.

Even more so as a Christian I do things for a greater audience. That of my heavenly father who parents perfectly. Knowing that despite my failings it is God who loves my girls more than I do.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

18/52


The queen and her castle.
-
Small and serious.


We went to go see Uncle Ben graduate. The girls thought he was dressed like a pirate. It was hilarious. They liked the statues and the angels in the rafters. We survived with only one toilet break. Good behaviour attained with the promise of cake for afternoon tea. 

It was exciting to ride into the city on the train. Lu now needs a ticket and thinks it's the best thing ever. She slides her ticket into the machine and walks through the barrier with a big smile on her face. We went without the stroller for the first time and it was lovely to be able to sit upstairs on the train and not wait for the lift. I carried Smalls in the Ergo and she fell asleep on the way home. That hasn't happened in a while. 

We walked back to Central from the uni. A well trodden path in our uni days. There are new buildings and new shops and new children but it was nice to walk along with my love. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

sing time







































Lately I've been entertaining my hobbies and it's been so good.
You might have noticed that this dusty old blog has been getting a bit of a workout but it's not just the blog.

In stead of sitting and watching Gossip Girl on the nights that Myl is out for work (which has it's place don't get me wrong) I've been setting aside nights for different little hobbies.

Sunday night is blogging night. I put together all the posts for the week. As many as I do in that night is as many that get posted.

Friday night is music night. Oh lovely music night.
I've decided to do a bit of recording. Ideally I'd like to do some recordings of the lullabies I sing to my sweetie pies but I started with a version of the Dusty Springfield song "Son of a Preacher Man."

I really really love the Civil Wars cover of "I Want You Back." It's so incredibly beautiful. The first time I heard it I couldn't think of the song even though it sounded so familiar. Then the penny dropped.

So, inspired by this great track I sought to create my own Motown/Acoustic harmony cover.

Here it is.





I'm using Garage band and a USB mic and am still learning how to use all the settings.
I think each Friday I'll learn a little more and the songs should sound better and better.

I think it's rather fun. Thankyou for indulging my hobby.





Image Credit - Goldmine Mag

Monday, May 4, 2015

dumplings and leadership

Last week we made some dumplings.

I like to cook. I'm a funny mish mash of super control freak perfectionist and random crazy little bit of this and that lady. In plain English it means I like to plan and cook a super meal of my own invention and plan. I like to control my food.

Over the years I've learnt that being crazy lady in the kitchen is a bit silly and when people come over i've learned that it's ok to ask someone to cut up tomatoes or cut bread. (Wild I know.)
Sometimes before a big event i'll write myself a list of things I can ask people to do just so I don't say, "Nothing, nothing!" and then slave myself to death in the kitchen.

So since these sweet little darlings I call daughters arrived on the scene I've had to adjust my standards. I can remember shortly after Lu popped out thinking about the kinds of crafts we could do together. I'd bought a few craft books in anticipation of my super crafty motherhood only to realise that my wee two month old was not very good at weilding scissors and tried to eat all the crayons.

But seriously, I remember Myl coming home one afternoon to a flustered and probably pregnant me sitting red faced in the loungeroom. I was covered with glitter, tissue paper and glue. Lu was crying.
I was poised in my usual craft stance. Leaning over, tongue out (for concentration) fingers moving quickly sticking circles of tissue paper in well thought out patterns on some thick white cardboard.
We had been making cards (obvs) and Lu just didn't get it. She had wanted to play with the paper and screw it into balls. Heck, she probably just wanted to stick the stuff up her nose and would have been quite happy doing it but CRAZY CRAFT MAMA LADY wanted to make cards.
With neat flipping tissue paper circles in well thought out patterns on the flipping white cardboard.
Just like I saw on Pinterest!
Kids these days....

Myles sat me down that night and we had a little chat about expectations of nearly two year olds and complicated crafts etc etc. I'm sure there was icecream involved.

So last week when I pulled out my pork mince and gow gee wrappers to make dumplings only to find a tiny curly haired sweetheart pushing her stool over to help, I thought back on that day and decided to let her.

What fun.

Deep breath.

Yes, you readers who have cooked with children in a ten metre radius, I can see you nodding.

I gave Smalls a wrapper and a spoon and watched her dig into the mince. She spooned the mince onto the wrapper and wet the edge just like I showed her.
Then she did some kind of banned origami manoeuvre, the minced wrapper sitting in her lap. Her face was screwed up in concentration. She was doing that sweet heavy breathing that kids do when they are thinking really hard.
So many times my hand wanted to reach out and just... tuck that... in... squeeze it.... just.... something....just. But I held myself back.
And then she was done.
She proudly held out her achievement for me to see.

"Look Mama, dumpling!"

And so it was.

"More dumpling please."

I gave her another, and another, and then Lu came over.
Now Lu, being four is a little more eager to learn the REAL way to do things. So I gave her a little tutorial. We made a dumpling together side by side. But even though her version was much more structurally sound than Smalls' version it was far from perfect.

"Look at the dumpling I've made." she said, beaming from ear to ear.

So, she made another, and another. We three sat in the kitchen making dumplings and giggling and talking. Myl joined us for the cooking and of course the eating.
These were some tasty dumplings. The girls ate many, shrieking with glee when they picked out a recognisable shape. Proud of the tasty morsel they had made.

I could have totally ushered the girls out of the kitchen to watch playschool or go read a book with dada that night. I've done it before and I'm sure I'll do it again.
But that night we made dumplings together.
They were far from perfect, but I think part of being a mama, teaching and leading my girls, is letting them have a red hot go.

They learn that they have skills to refine and value to add to the world.
I learn something too. That it's ok to take a deep breath and not try to be so perfect all the time.

The dumplings that taste the yummiest are the ones made with willing and eager hands.









Sunday, May 3, 2015

my parents




My dad told my husband once;

"The best way to love your kids, is to love their mother."

If this is true, then I am one very loved child.

My parents have been married for 35 years today. They are spending their wedding anniversary in Rome.

Paris for 30, Rome for 35.
I wonder where they'll go for 40.

In this world of convenience and self-love 35 years is no mean feat.
As I see marriages around me struggle and crumble I see their love remain, and grow and thrive.

I am so thankful for my parents marriage as I am thankful for them.
I'm so thankful for the way my dad would never let any of my siblings or I say a bad word about our mum.
I am so thankful for the way my Mum never whinges or complains about Dad even though this seems to be the most popular way wives react to their husbands in popular culture.
I'm thankful for the babysitters I got to know, which means my parents were often out together on dates, investing in their marriage.
I'm thankful for the times we saw them dancing or cuddling in the kitchen. We would squeeze in between them and join in. Myl and I do this now, these are precious moments.
I'm thankful for all the holidays we took together, the places we went as a family.

I'm so thankful for the way that their marriage has thrived after they've become empty nesters.
In fact I think they are secretly so glad we are all gone.
They still go on dates and spend time together. They might even dance in the kitchen?
Heck, they've gone overseas twice! They're loving it!

They have set a fine example of a loving marriage to my siblings and I.
I am so thankful for that.
And thankful for them.

Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad.
Have a good time on your Roman holiday.