Reignited.

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You know those moments when something feels more ‘right’ than ever. Closer. Do-able. And it excites you?
I had one of those moments a few days ago.
Weather in Minnesota has been more than cold which has kept my husband from being able to get to work some days. Luckily, he can still get work done at home through the wonders of technology and lucky for us, he can be home to share meals with us and change a diaper every now and then 😉 this weather can easily get you down. Stuck inside, windows forever sealed closed, heater drying out your skin, layers and layers of clothes just to take the garbage out. But I figure it just helps us appreciate the Spring even more, right?

So, partly because of the weather, we got to have Dad home with us from Thursday-Sunday and there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground so we ventured outside. Our plan was to let our 5 and 6 year old try snow-shoeing but the wind was up and they wouldn’t have lasted long out on the prairie where the kid snow shoes are on hire. Our back-up plan was a stop at 7 Mile Creek just a few miles out of town for us in a valley area, beautifully white and wooded and protected from the wind. I strapped the toddler on to my back (I love the Ergo) and Peter rigged up some rope to the sled and off we went on our shoe shoes. A couple of miles of snowy trails, giggles from the girls in the sled and some reflective conversation with my husband.

It was a moment.

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We talked about how much we love our kids. Even though they do frustrating kid things, they’re still pretty awesome.
We talked about our hope to move to Australia, to be with family, to not let it become a ‘one day’ dream but a true reality. We’re getting closer.
We talked about how connected we feel- to each other. Is it because we started playing music together again? (secrethillband.com) Is it because we’re going snow shoeing together? Is it because we’re united in our exhaustion of parenting three little girls? How can you continue to fall more in love with someone when you thought you were already in pretty deep?
It happened.

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We took these pics on my phone just before we headed off and then made a point of leaving the phones and cameras in the car. No distractions. No other connectivity except to each other. It reignited something and I liked it.
We let the kids choose which trail we’d take and when we finally got back to our car they were cheering like they’d just won a race. I truly think they were cheering from relief that we weren’t lost. We ate a picnic lunch in the car with hot cocoa and headed home with forever memories.

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A new beginning

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It happened. My first little baby grew up enough to start going to school. I can’t fathom how all that time went by me, those last 5.75 years, but it happened.
I was so excited for her to start because Charlotte was so excited to start. The local school is only two blocks from our house so the school playground is a familiar stop for us. As a family, we were open to either home schooling or public school but Charlotte had her heart set on going to school outside of the home in the traditional setting of a class room so we went with that.
She can already meet all the criteria for the kindergarten level academically but the social, emotional and general classroom management rules will all be great learning curves for our sweet and spunky Charlie.

The day came. September 5th 2013. Charlotte Lousie’s first day of school.

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This is also going to be a big change for our younger two girls. Miriam, especially, is going to miss her co-conspirator.

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I am in LOVE with my family. (Check out the cheeky babe, Gianna!)

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Arriving at school for the first time with Charlotte will be a day I’ll never forget.

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My stay in Perth

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This journey to Australia with my 14 month old daughter was not planned and not one that I ever wanted to make. My Dad’s wife of almost 25 years, passed away after a 2 year brave battle with Ovarian Cancer. Always positive and encouraging of others, Lis very rarely complained about the cards that she was dealt. I received a call on Thursday the 1st of August from my Dad who told me with much regret that Lis’ prognosis was not good. Three months at best.
24 hours later I got another call. The one I didn’t want. I am so grateful that I was at the home of my good friend, Sarah’s, with my girls all happily playing. After the initial shock settled I started to consider coming home to be with family. It’s a looong way and an expensive ticket but thanks to my husbands insistence and the financial support from my family, I was on a plane by the 5th of August.
The last ten days have been a roller coaster of emotions. My Dad put together a beautiful montage of photos and immediate family all shared memories and stories at Lis’ funeral. What rang clear during the celebration of her life was that Lis was an encourager. She brought the best out of people and went out of her way to boost people up.
I’ve caught up with family friends that I haven’t seen for decades, gone bowling with my brother like we used to when we were ten, seen my Uncle and Aunt for the first time in many many years, hugged my sweet 4 year old niece and have watched my Dad do his very best at surviving these first few vulnerable moments without his soul mate here, earth side. Please pray for Dad and my sister, as we all try to get used to this new way of life without Lis. We may never get used to it but we’ll keep on keeping on as best we can.
I am so glad that I was able to laugh, cry, hug and stand beside my family. My daughter was able to bring about smiles in this sad time too- what a blessing!

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Journey to Perth

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There was a worldwide outage of computer systems for Virgin Airline made our LA to Brisbane flight a hour late. I only had an hour and 45min layover to connect to my domestic flight to Perth scheduled for 8:45am. I was cleared through customs by 8:35am and there was no way I was going to make it.
Went to the transfers desk and they had organized a later flight (9 hours later) and a hotel for us to stay in and transport to and from. $50 of room service for us too.
We got to the hotel room in downtown Brisbane. Beautiful weather, sun shining. Gianna and I had a bath and I fed her and she fell asleep. I went down to the hotel cafe with Gianna in the Ergo and sat down with some people I’d met on the bus who were in the same situation as me.
We ordered an antipesto platter, fruit platter, calamari, wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. Although I didn’t get to Perth in the timeframe I had planned, being able to bathe and eat felt great.
Gianna and I went back to our room and slept for two hours before getting back on the bus to get to our 5:30pm flight.
I’m now waiting at the gate for our flight.
Gianna stayed awake up until we got on the big international flight which was 2am Minneapolis time. Crazy!! She slept well in the bassinet that Virgin set up on the wall in front of me for about 4hrs. I was able eat dinner and get some rest in. The next 10 hours of the flight was a combination of napping, snacking, visits to the oversized disabled restroom other middle of the plane (never seen one that big on a plane before…. Made life a lot easier!) and walking laps around the plane, passing all the sleeping passengers 😉
Gianna is doing well now considering it’s the middle of the night on her body clock. Letting her sleep when she wants but not trying too hard to keep her asleep. It’ll be 9:25pm in Perth when we finish this journey.
Here’s a photo of Gianna asleep in the bassinet on the plane.

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It’s a Happy Mother’s Day here

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These girls bless me daily.
The days are long but the years are short.
Yes, there are tears, fights, hitting, tantrums, food left in gross places, sickness, picking noses, dawdling when I’m running late, growing up too fast, questions when all I yearn for is a moment of quiet, poop commentary, endless laundry and dishes, dinner that needs to be made daily, constant concern about what goes in or on their body and lessons about life that I wish I could shield from my daughters forever.

But through all that there is love, endless love.

Cuddles and kisses.
Silly jokes-some that make no sense to me.
Playing with Legos and trains and baby dolls.
Learning about the world -the beautiful things that I often overlook.
Walks to the park and pushing the swing “up higher!”
Girls calling out in the middle of the night that only Mum can answer and make all better with a ‘kissing hand’.
Creative drawings and funny imaginative stories complete with character voices.
Watching as a child learns to roll, sit, crawl, walk, dance, run, jump and skip.
‘Eye-Spy’ on long car rides.
Singing!
Reading books together and telling stories ‘just with your voice’
Picking flowers and playing dress ups
Nap time
Spontaneous afternoon tea parties
Playing in the snow rather than complaining about it.
Funny meal times
Trips to the Zoo
Night time prayers and singing a child to sleep.

There is so much that happens in a day that I can be thankful for. Sometimes the lack of sleep, the pile of dishes in the sink, no car to drive and a dirty floor can cloud my perception but I do know that I am blessed. I am thankful for a loving, creative, funny, thoughtful husband who is an amazing Daddy to our daughters and will always remind them how special they are.
My children are healthy, my marriage is strong, we are both employed, there is food in our bellies, our family laugh -often. I know I am blessed and I’m taking it for as long as it lasts.

It’s Monday

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Monday morning. Most people dread them. For a stay at home mother, it feels like every other morning.  Caffeine, breakfast, cartoons, sweeping the floor, caffeine, clothes, dishes, laundry, caffeine…. you get the idea.
On the weekend, the girls got new rain coats and gum boots (rain boots) for the Spring. They were SO excited. I found a cute Ladybug raincoat for Charlotte at the local Goodwill store for $4 and it looks brand new! Charlotte loves, loves, loves bugs so this was perfect and it will fit her for at least 2 years. We found Miriam’s coat at the local Once Upon a Child Store, also for $4 and looking brand new. Hers is blue, yellow and orange and I think she’d wear it to bed if we’d let her. The boots came from the Tractor Supply Store where we got to take a peek at the baby chicks and ducks one more time.
*sigh* I really want to have a pet duck one day. Chickens would be nice too. Useful even. Fresh eggs? Yes please. But a Duck! I’ve wanted a duck since I saw the movie Fly Away Home. I know that was a flock of Canadian Geese but….
Anyway! Amongst dreaming about one day having a Duck and some Chickens in our family, the girls were all ready for some serious puddle jumping and just needed some serious rain. There were comments like “maybe the rain saw my raincoat and is scared of it” (Charlotte) to justify the lack of rain. Saturday afternoon, after some grocery shopping, the girls were in luck. Rain! They stayed out in it and walked up and down our sidewalk soaking it up. We realized that rain is fun if you are properly equipped. Just like snow is fun if you have the right attire. Getting stuck outside in the freezing cold without a coat is no fun but give you some snow gear and you are all set to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great analogy for life really, don’t you think?
Last night (Sunday) it rained, so everything is well soaked outside and Miriam had to go out and get the puddle report. Our family usually takes mornings slow. It’s 10am right now and I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my PJ’s with a cup of tea by my side, dishes are done and the laundry is going. Getting dressed is optional most mornings. But Miriam was quick to throw on some clothes underneath her new rain coat and boots and was outside before 8am! She checked the front and then the back yards and came in to let me know that there were no puddles, with disappointment spelt all over her face. She went back out and did some art work on our pavement with sidewalk chalk, requested to eat her vegemite on toast outside and while she waited for her breakfast she stood out the front and waved to each car that passed. Timidly waved her little hand that peaked through her new, blue rain  coat. This made me smile.

Miriam- so sweet.

Wants to be adventurous.

Doesn’t like bugs.

Wants to like puppies and cats.

Enjoys the outdoors no matter the weather. “Coats are optional”.

Somehow she always stays warm!

As I sit here with my tea and the laundry going I am enjoying the smell of chicken stock on our stove. Peter and I have been collecting our vegetable scraps in a plastic zip-lock bag in the freezer. Things like asparagus ends, potato and carrot peelings, onion skins and left over parsley. We’ve also switched to buying whole chickens and Peter cuts it up into two meals- legs, thighs and wings/ chicken breast fillets. This leaves the carcass, which is perfect for making our own chicken stock. Saving our pennies (or many dollars if you are buying the organic version) and filling the house with this great aroma. So this morning I threw the frozen carcass and frozen vegetable scraps into our biggest soup pot, added a few teaspoons of salt, filled the pot with water and turned it on to boil. After boiling it, it then simmers for the rest of the day. Later today I’ll drain it into a large bowl, saving any chicken pieces from the carcass and then, once it’s cooled, I’ll divide it into a few freezer bags and always have homemade chicken stock on hand. This makes sure that we never use Chicken Stock cubes or store bought stock, full of which we are trying to live without.
This Monday morning also brought a phone call from a good friend, finalizing our plans for a weekend away with them. We plan on staying at a for one night in Ottertail, MN and then staying an extra night at our friends house in Waconia, MN. We LOVE these weekends together and plan on them at least twice a year. Our kids are all very similar ages and my girls already have plans on marrying their two boys lol. In two weeks we’ll be enjoying a mini-vacation!
What has your Monday brought you so far…..?

Teething

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Teething

Teeth. They make life easier. But they’re tough on us when they first arrive.
With our third little babe, we have been using a genuine baltic amber teething necklace. I’ve never been a Mum that rushes to the medicine cabinet (wait…. we don’t even HAVE a medicine cabinet but you know what I mean) to dose my children up with pharmaceuticals when they have a health issue and teething is no different. A friend told me, when my first baby was still very small, that she never gave her child pain relief medicine for teething but handed her a cold spoon instead. How simple and easy!
So with this in mind, I’ve used cold spoons, homeopathic teething pellets, lots of breast feeding and cuddles and for the first time, we’re now trying the baltic amber necklace. There has been a LOT less drama around teething time (we’re getting a lot more right with this third baby. “Third times a charm” right?) and I attribute it to the pain relieving succinic acid that is released from the amber.
Alongside the normal discomforts a baby has while teething, my third baby also NEEDS to grab, pinch, scratch, just basically cause pain wherever her little hands wander while I’m nursing her. My chest is covered in little tiny scratch marks and scabs. It’s lovely (ugh).
I noticed on a baby bargain website this morning, that teething necklaces were being advertised and I ALMOST clicked ‘buy’. These are the type that Mum wears and baby can play with and chew on. I thought spending $10-$20 was well justified if it was going to save my skin from harm while I continue to feed my child. We have a long road of nursing ahead of us I’m hoping.
Then I remembered that I had a stash of my Grandpa’s old neck ties in a closet and some wooden and plastic beads. I got creative and this is what turned out. It’s just tied in the back. I didn’t unstitch anything from the neck tie and I tried it on this polyester one first before I give it a go on one of his beautiful 100% silk ties. I have darker beads too.
My next step is to find a source of organic wooden beads that are untreated, so that this is a healthier option for my little one to sink her teeth in to if she feels the need.
When little G woke up from her nap she looked at me and then her eyes locked in on the necklace. I’ve only nursed her once since making it so far, but my skin was SAVED!! She held this necklace and played with it every now and then. Then she was done. Voila! No pinches or scratches. I hope it continues.
What do you think of this teething necklace idea?