Monday, 26 June 2017

Dear Hunter, at 10 months

Dear Hunter

From the very beginning you have been so different to your sister, and you have shown us that you are well and truly your own person.

In the early days I wrote a post about how you were an easy baby, and the transition to two kids had been easier than I expected. I now realise that this is because you couldn't move yet!

Since about 6 months you have been on the go and you are full on in your exploration. You are constantly moving. You have no sense of danger and although our lounge/dining is baby proofed, you wear many bruises on your head at all times. You are clingy and and like to check that I am near- you climb on me and cry and need to be held, but then you want to get down, and then back up again, and then down and on it goes.

We were at the Plunket office the other day and the Plunket nurse said to me, as you tried to destroy everything in your reach, 'I'm tired just looking at you!'


You wake between 1-6 times a night (it's luck of the draw!) but usually 2 or 3, needing a full breastfeed and a cuddle. During the day you need to be fed all your meals (can't forget morning tea!) and you are constantly scavenging for food. I often find you with odd things in your mouth and have seen interesting things come out *ahem* the other end.

I treasure our sleepy cuddles as I feed you before bed. It's the only time you are still (and even then you are sometimes not.) You look up at me with a half smile and all the weariness of the day, of mothering a full on boy like you, it all fades. It wasn't so long ago you were my snuggly newborn and these feeds remind me of that.



You smile when you see me, and when I return from work you leap into my arms. You climb on your sister to give her grabby-hugs and giggle and smile at her with your adoring eyes. In the middle of the night you reach out for your Dad and his warm cuddles too as he rocks you back to sleep.



It was only a year ago I was heavily pregnant with you, with no idea what the future might bring. And now here you are, fully present and part of our family.


You are tiring and trouble and mischief.

You are life and loud and joy.

You are my lovely boy.

Mummy xx

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Us


When two people love each other, they share their joy, multiply their hope

(words from a poem I wrote for our wedding.)


Those early days after a first baby is born are a pivotal point in a marriage. You turn from facing inwards towards each other, and open up the circle, to look down at another. You stare and are consumed by this new being, and by the time, weeks or months later, when you finally look up at each other again, everything is different. Months, years go by, and you add in another child, or two, and you are stretched further from each other as you welcome in more new life.

They share their pain, divide their sorrow



We became parents in a rush, in a way we weren't expecting. In the midst of chaos you were calmness. I finally got to see you as a father, and days after our first was born, I wrote this


"He is so in love with her, a sweet, caring, gentle love you've never seen from him before. His face lights up when he sees her, he is enamoured with his daughter. He holds you when you cry, showers you while you still have a catheter in and are not strong enough to stand, stays home to look after you in bed and bring you toast and tea.... He really is your knight."



They walk alongside each other as they travel through life

Since then I have seen you parent in many ways- exhausted, wiping snot, poo, vomit. Rocking babies, quieting tantrums, playing hide and seek. Coming home from a day at work, and resetting yourself in a matter of moments, ready for the kids to climb on you, grab at you, need you.



When two people love each other, and hand in hand they vow their love, their is no tighter bond and none can break, weaken or fray it

When we finally get time together, it is not like before. Not long languid evenings, or mornings to chat and eat. Not weekends with nothing to do but drink coffee and garden and snuggle.


No, now our moments are snippets. We look at each other wearily once the kids are in bed and the chores are done and....it's you. It's still you, the man I married. 



When two people love each other, they give all they have to the other, and step out into the beginning of their days

Through the pregnancies and fears, through the births and unknown, through the weariness and tears, the long nights and broken sleep, the monotony and relentlessness, toddler songs, dirty hands, baby slobber and wriggling nappy changes, through days at the park, days sick in bed, the summers the winters, the warmth and the cold, there you are.

Before we were interlocked closely, only looking at each other. Now we are stretched, pulled, as we look at our children. Our hands are still interlocked and the ups and downs of life try to pull us apart. In those moments I feel your hands grip mine tightly. You are not letting go. Neither am I.



They rest in each others arms, and that love is their home

Saturday, 8 April 2017

That bittersweet feeling of knowing you are done having babies.

The first months after Hunter was born, I longed for another baby. I was on fire, I was winning at montherhood with a toddler and a baby. I longed for him not to be my last.

Looking back, that was probably hormones, mixed with those 'easy days' of newborn life. Don't get me wrong- newborns aren't easy- but Hunter felt pretty easy in comparison to Ada's newborn days. I wasn't working, Ada was at care part time, we were given lots of meals and Hunter didn't require much more than snuggles and milk.

Since then, as Hunter has grown and become busier, as I've gone back to work and running a household, I have felt and immense stretch and have met the limits of my capacity nearly every day.

Practically, I could not imagine how I could cope with another child. Financially, mentally, emotionally we are stretched. And, any future pregnancy would also be high risk and stressful. I got through that with Hunter because I had no other option, but I am not sure I could voluntarily put myself through that again, not to mention that future pregnancies have been advised against by doctors.

We have two amazing kids, life is full and good, and we are done. It makes sense on so many levels.

But it's still bittersweet. Those last few weeks of pregnancy, a big belly and excitement on so many levels. It's gone. Those newborn days, tiredness, joy, love- they are done. Hunter is 8 months old now and with each milestone I am aware that this is the last time. 

I read a blog once that said that when you know you are done with kids, that closes a youthful chapter of your life and puts you in the same category as your mother, grandmother, aunts: women who are finished having babies. It feels like a mixed blessing to be moving into that new category.

It's so exciting to see Hunter grow and gain new skills, become a wee person. It's also bittersweet- a funny combination of feelings.

Two kids is so right for us. So for now, I will continue to take many photos and videos of my kids, so I can look back as they get older. I will continue to hold my friends babies and celebrate their pregnancies with a certain wistfulness. I don't know if this bittersweet feeling will ever leave, but I'm using it to prompt me to soak in every good moment.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

An Intentional life

It's been months since I've written. Actually that's not true- my blog feed is filled with un-published, half written posts. Perhaps thats symbolic of life right now. So busy and full and no time to sit and mull over ideas. Time only to get the crude ideas down and no time to refine. 

This is a reflection of life generally. Somewhere between having no kids and having two, I've started living life on a 'minute by minute' basis. I do things, they have to be done, I work, I cook, I drive, I sleep, but none of it is done with much thought. It's like living on autopilot. 

I've become so overwhelmed with multitasking to get everything done, that I never stop and pause to think of the 'why' behind everything.

Lately though, in those moments when I am feeding the baby to sleep, or have 5 minutes on my computer, I've been reading blogs from other mums about intentionality.

Intentionality comes out of the minimalism movement. The minimalism movement is based on the idea of controlling your 'stuff,' not letting your stuff control you. De-cluttering, getting better household systems, freeing up your time, mind, money and worry to focus on better things.

Out of this comes the idea of intentionality- doing things on purpose. With purpose. I've started incorporating this idea into different areas of my life

Parenting
Recently Matt and I have been discussing the bigger picture of our parenting. Our vision for our kids, our values which we want to impart. For example, we want our kids to be self disciplined. At this age, (3) that means encouraging Ada to do some of her own care- putting her shoes away, brushing her own teeth and doing her own toileting. We want our kids to be kind, this means being kind ourselves and showing kindness in action.

There is still so much more I want to think and mull over here, but the irony is that parenting means I'm so busy I barely have time to. I do want to make this a priority, as I've found that having a clear 'big picture' can help in those trying 'little moment' times.

Finance
The biggest area of change for us has been finance. I'm not going to get into too many details, but last year because of the way our bank accounts were set up with our mortgage, we couldn't really see how much money we had left till pay day, this resulted in overspending.

We asked out broker to change our accounts so we can clearly see how much money we have. This has resulted in much better finances! I've also started reading Dave Ramsay's baby steps and thinking about the future of our finances, rather than just living week to week.

Money is so tight with two kids and a mortgage, and now is the best time for us to start being careful with every dollar. I am trying to cut down on needless spending. A friend had a good saying. 'Every dollar costs you three dollars. The dollar you spend, the dollar you have to earn to get back to where you were before spending, and the dollar you need to earn to get ahead of where you were.'
This certainly helped me think more carefully about money- especially those small purchases like coffee or chocolate milk (total addict to milk here!)

Food
We want to be more frugal and clever with our eating- throwing away less food. It's almost impossible to achieve this at the moment, with a 7 month old who loves to try food but doesn't always eat it and a 3 year old with a varying appetite. I guess we recognise that food waste is at an all time high right now, but this will change.

I'm aiming to be more intentional with leftovers- using them instead of chucking them (the book 'Love your leftovers' has helped me be creative around this.)

I meal plan every week so we can budget and get the exact food we need. I have even made a spreadsheet of 'cheap/easy, easy/gourmet, gourmet/slow, cheap/slow' meals (!!) so we can have a balance of food quality through the week.

As for lunches, I am trying to make sure that we all eat well. It's so easy to pack a lunchbox with peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn and fruit. But I am trying to be more creative. I don't have heaps of time so I try and cook some lunch food while making dinner. This week our lunches (adults and kids) have included banana oat pikelets, baked pikelets, chicken sausage rolls, chocolate brownie (side note, these are the BEST brownies, and I've tried a lot, second side note, the baby did not get this in his lunch) and fried rice cakes (made with leftovers- win win!).

I follow a lot of kid cooks on Facebook for ideas, and I have a chart of ideas on the back of our pantry door, to give me inspiration.

For dinner- we are not able to eat as a family, as Matt is home too late, but like lunch I try to cook the kids something healthy, yet easy (I can't be bothered cooking two separate full meals!). I try and freeze little portions of meals for dinners, or I whip up something quick like an omelet with noodles, courgette and chicken.

Household
A lot of what I have mentioned above comes into this category. Setting up household systems (meal planning, lunches made the night before, clothes ready to go etc), to intentionally make life simpler and less rushed. I am always looking for new rhythms (it's the cool new term in the minimalism world) to make our family life easier. My new area of interest is time blocking- I'm hoping to use my time more effectively, but this is so new I can't write about it yet.

Under household is the area of clutter (where the concept of minimalism was born). I am constantly looking at areas of clutter and mess in our homes and asking if these items are really worthy of space in our home. I often take a boot load of items to the second hand shop. I am not following a specific program like Kon Marie, but taking it slower. I would love an instantly clutter free house but I simply don't have the time! So bit by bit we go.

Clothing comes under this heading too and I have written a post on kids capsule wardrobes- this has made life so much easier, and I have been able to be so much smarter with buying winter clothes for the kids.

Work
I work as a freelancer, so I can accept as much or as little work as I like. I am also constantly getting texts, emails, messages and calls about work when I am at home. In the past, pre kids, the only consideration around accepting work was 'am I free at that time?' 

Now it's 'am I free?' 
'will that make a crazy busy week even busier, with more time in care for the kids?' 
'Is it worth getting everyone out of the house at 7.15am to arrive at work for a 1 hour job at 9am?,' 'Was last week busy, and would it be fair to put my kids in car again for lots of hours this week?'

Basically I am trying to be more intentional and mindful of my family (especially my baby!) when accepting work. I also need to set up better systems in terms of not needing to check or be on my phone all day in regards to work. I am still thinking on this one! Perhaps only checking work related messages twice a day?

Phone/Technology
This is a biggie, and the area I am definitely least intentional in. I keep having thoughts that I need to really make some decision around how much I use my phone or my laptop, but I have yet to get time to really sit down and make myself some boundaries. I get so little down time that when I do I often end up mindlessly scrolling facebook or instagram. This is not how I want to spend my time and I know I need to be more intentional.


***

I have re read this post and it reads like a mash up of half thought out ideas- which is totally where I am at right now, so I'm going to leave it as it is. I hope this post will be something I can look back on as a beginning time in my thinking around intentionality. I also hope this post is helpful to others who are feeling frantic and busy with no time to actually think about the 'why.'

Some blogs that I have read and found really useful in this area are:

http://alliecasazza.com/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

https://nosidebar.com/

(They are great and explain the heart of minimalism, rather than the 'aesthetic' of extreme minimalism that is also popular, but unattainable.)

Here are some of the kid recipe Facebook pages I follow:







Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Tips for a capsule wardrobe for kids

What is a capsule wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now. The goal behind them is to declutter your wardrobe, which makes it easier to pick outfits- as all your pieces should go together. It also means you think about your 'style' a lot more, meaning any pieces you do buy are more intentional. Then you end up with less 'random' pieces in your wardrobe that never get worn (I am so guilty of this.)

I've been doing a capsule wardrobe for myself for only about a month now, but it has made getting dressed much easier! In that time, I've had to buy one item (my only pair of jeans ripped!!) and instead of going for my usual bargain hunt, or two for one deal, I bought one good pair of quality jeans. Time will tell, of course, whether spending more upfront is worth it down the track, but I think it will be. I would rather have one pair of quality jeans than 3 of cheaper ones which go baggy at the knees in a few weeks (the worst!).

Why a kids capsule?

I wanted to make getting dressed easier for Ada. She is getting to the age of wanting to pick her own clothes, so I wanted to have outfits that go together easily.

The situation

Ada has a full wardrobe, drawers, and a 60l box of clothes that could currently fit her, for all four seasons. Then there is a box for size 4 and 5! (but I am not focusing on those boxes at the moment.)

We have been so blessed to receive many hand me downs. I also tend to buy items on sale for the next season. Add to that those 'can't resist, it's so cute!' items, and she has a LOT of clothes in differing styles.

Now, if you are doing a capsule wardrobe like many other bloggers, you will start from scratch and buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes for your kid. The benefit of this is that you can buy pieces that go together seamlessly. But of course, this doesn't really gel well with the minimilist lifestyle values which the capsule wardrobe has emerged from.

For me, my goal is to spend no (or very little) money. We've got to work with what we've got, which means it's not going to be a 'perfect' capsule wardrobe- and that's ok.

The steps to a kids capsule wardrobe

Step 1- Choose 2 or 3 of your favourite items of clothing for your child. For Ada, I chose 3 of my favourite pieces for her. I decided to choose the rest of the items based on these colours


Step 2- Think about patterns. This blogger talks about how she builds prints into her capsule- she adds prints into one of three sections- tops and dresses, layering pieces (coats, cardigans) or bottoms

I love this blogger and her philosophy. She is building a wardrobe from scratch though, so she can buy items with patterns in just one category easily.

Working with what we already have is a bit trickier, but I aimed to just have patterns in tops and dresses.

Step 3- Think about the weather. Here in Wellington it's summer (you wouldn't really know it though!). So I added a few short and long sleeve tees, and a few dresses. All of these items can be layered for colder or hotter days. If it had been a truly hot summer here, I would have chosen more short sleeve items.

Step 4- Think about where your kid is at. Ada has just toilet trained and can take herself to the toilet (wohoo!!) this ruled out all the jumpsuits and dungarees, as toilet access needs to be easy.

Ada doesn't get into too much mess at daycare, so can just have one wardrobe for all occasions. A lot of kids tend to ruin their clothes at daycare though. In this case I would suggest two mini capsules- a 'playing' one and a 'good clothes' one. Many items like coats or tights may cross the two collections. Keeping both capsules in different areas, or separate drawers will help with dressing your child.


Step 5- Go for it- pick your items! This is the most fun part. As you can see in the capsule below, I started with a base of orange colours. However, Ada has a lot of pink, in necessary items (like cardigans) so I have added some pink too. Greys and blues were added for neutral colours. In the process I discovered Ada had about 5 long sleeve grey tops, and the same for blue. She doesn't need that many! I was able to put away a lot of redundant clothing.

We also had a lot of 'random' pieces in her drawers. These would be the ones I pulled out, then searched for that one pair of leggings they go with. Those leggings were in the wash, so I stuffed that item back in the drawer, and in reality it was never worn. These random pieces were easy to remove from her wardrobe.

I didn't focus on a certain number of clothes. I preferred to focus on a few of each category of clothing. You may look at Ada's capsule and think it's still a very big amount of clothes. Each childs wardrobe will be different, and I am looking forward to refining Ada's wardrobe, and seeing if we truly need this many clothes as we move into the winter capsule.

Step 6- Involving your child. Ada is a little young at this point to care about her clothing. I imagine in the coming months or years she will want to be involved in this process. Ask your child about their favourite items of clothing, or colours, and go from there.

What's next?

Now that I have begun this process I think it will make buying clothes, and sorting through hand me downs a lot easier! Once you have a clear vision of colour, style and pattern, you can immediately know whether a piece of clothing will fit in the wardrobe. This will save you money in the long run!

I am aiming to review Ada's capsule every season, or every time she has a growth spurt, so a few times a year.

I hope this post has been helpful! I'm at the beginning of doing this too so I would love to hear any tips you might have







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