Category Archives: Family

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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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…..?

Let’s do dinner! with REAL people

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It overcomes me sometimes. The urge to entertain, host, give gifts. It must be one of my love languages. So my idea came on Thursday- we should have friends over for dinner.
I made the call and around midday Saturday it was arranged. Friends! Friends for all! since our chosen dinner companions for the evening have littlies the same age as our older two girls, this was going to be a fun-packed night with high-pitched squeals, dress-ups and dancing going on upstairs, good food, wine and great conversation. Actually the conversation was what left me feeling revived.
I know that we fit when our conversations include the following:

Benefits of bone broth

Psychology of a toddler in regards to sharing

Beards

Beer

Awesome Ikea cheese graters

How having a home birth has changed you

What were you doing on 9/11/01?

How hard it is to find a babysitter!

Yogurt cultures from Bulgaria

Intricacies of Baby Sleep

Oh the list goes on….

But I feel revived.
I woke up this morning feeling less than revived after a very rough night with little G. My chunk of sleep happened in between the hours of 6am-9am, interrupted twice and changing location once but still better than the previous 6 hours. A big pot of Irish Breakfast Tea was waiting for me downstairs and after a bagel and a shower I felt like I could face the day. Then I started thinking about the real people we have as friends. People who come in to our home and feel AT home. Open our cupboard doors to get themselves a drink and grab a couple of our books to read to the kids. You know… no awkward tip toeing, just real. Reflecting on this made me realize that I waste a lot of my time getting sucked in to other peoples not-so-real life in the form of Facebook personalities.
Let’s face it. We don’t have to be accountable for much online and there are many persona’s on Facebook that are less than real. So, today… I cleanse myself of some not-so-real relationships by thinning out my FB contacts. If I haven’t had any interaction with someone in the last 12 months, and they don’t call me or wouldn’t talk to me if we saw each other in public? Then we’re not being real.
We are in the thick of Lenten Season right now. Forgiveness, cleansing, focusing on what is truly real and important, getting ready for Easter, letting go of things in order to make more room for God in our lives. This is what I think of for Lent. Did you give up something for Lent? Why?……
I haven’t chosen something to fast from for a few years. The purpose of fasting, alms-giving and prayer is to help deepen your faith and commit to living the Gospel.

In 2011 Pope Benedict addressed an audience explaining the lenten season, noting that fasting is not just to deprive yourself but to lead a more moderate life. He asked everyone to give alms and do good deeds for others. For the pope, Lent is less about the observed laws and precepts and more about the person coming closer to Christ.
The idea of giving up chocolate, or soft drink, like I did for many years, had good intentions but served no purpose really. Did it bring me closer to God? Did I feel more connected? Not really. So I gave up all together on the idea of fasting from something petty, actually on fasting from anything. Prayer always picks up during lent for me, so that is one thing that I’ve got covered but I really wanted to make an effort this lent to DO something rather than GIVE UP something. My choice: to spend more time outside.
This may seem lame to some, but this Aussie girl was not built for below freezing weather day in and day out, so the thought of going outside just to enjoy being outside rather than scrambling from the car to the front door of our home, had to be a conscious decision. I’ve included my girls in on this lenten movement also. They, like me, could very easily spend most days sitting cozy warm inside, playing board games, baking, watching movies and doing their ‘school work’. We talked about God’s creation, how God made everything they see. The pretty and the not so pretty, all have purpose. It’s been fun having these conversations with the girls. It feels real and we are definitely looking forward to spring. To new life! to Easter!!
Today, I feel revived from good conversation with REAL people. For lenten ‘fasting’ that feels REAL to me. For surrounding myself with a little less purposelessness. Is that a word? My computer doesn’t put a redline under it, so it must be real. Ha! lol
So here’s to being REAL, friends. No tiptoeing. If you were Jesus, I’d open my front door and invite you in. Offer you a beer and a home cooked meal. Just like we did last night.

Daddy-O

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This song comes up on our Pandora channel that we listen to throughout the day and the kids love it. It’s Daddy-O by Frances England from her Fascinating Creatures album. Charlotte had the idea to record it for our Daddy-O. So here it is….