Oh, hello there

Long time, no see. We’ve had crazy times around here, and my computer is broken, so this whole blogging thing has taken a back seat. I’m hoping to get back to normal now, but my computer is still broken, and it has all the photos I want to use for the blog posts I have drafted on it, so I need to wait until that’s fixed before I can do those. In the mean time, I thought I might do a little update, considering how long it’s been.

1975190_611891608899464_7104283846068115768_n

So, hello!

We don’t really have a baby anymore. Madelyn, just these past few weeks, is looking like a bona-fide toddler. She is so, so cute.

She started walking shortly after her first birthday in February (oh my goodness, I really need to finish her 12 month update), and pretty much just took off running. She is now almost as fast at running as she was at spider crawling, which is saying something because she crawled like a flash. She’s also really good at climbing, both up and down.

Oh, and she says words! Not many (too much running), but it’s very exciting to hear what she has to say. She says the following:

“Dad” – a LOT, as well as all the variations of Dad (Dada, Daddy, Da, etc)

“Mum” – no where near as much as Dad, but still, she says it

“Ma” – her word for breastfeeding, she says it as she assumes the position, or while pulling down my shirt in public, so I know exactly what she’s asking for

“Cat” – clear as a bell, and while pointing at the cat, so there’s no denying it

“Please” – minus the L, so more like “Pease,” and usually said with an exclamation mark, or long and drawn out

“Who’s that?” – or rather, ‘Whosat?” and also, “Whatsat?” which really makes me realise how often I must say those things

“Wow” – very rarely said just once, it’s usually “Wow, wow, wow” about something really exciting like waking up or painting a picture

“No” – sounds more like “Ni,” and again, usually said several times in a row, while running away holding onto something I don’t want her to touch

She also ‘Moo’s like a dog. So maybe I shouldn’t homeschool.

Madelyn’s ability to communicate is unbelievable. I didn’t realise a toddler so young could understand and communicate so much, but it is very, very clear what she’s trying to say most of the time. She’s very expressive and good at pointing, and she babbles away constantly (we’re guessing she’s going to be a chatterbox once she gets her tongue around the words).

Around her first birthday, Madelyn picked up a regular nap. Everyone else is talking about dropping their one year old down to only one nap a day, and mine decided to start actually having a nap during the day. I discovered that I need to keep her super busy and tire her out by actually going out and doing something in the morning, and she’ll typically have a nap when we get home for around 2 hours. So we have an activity that we go to each day of the week. We have swimming lessons, a coffee group, music and then Playcentre twice a week.

I’ve shared a bit about swimming lessons on here before. Madelyn loves her swimming lessons. Her favourite part is when they get to crawl/walk/run across the mat that floats in the water and “jump” off the end to be caught by Mum or Dad. She’s really good at closing her eyes and mouth before going under water. In fact, the other night she slipped over in the bath and fell under the water, and was totally unperturbed.

We love coffee group. Most of Madelyn’s best friends come to coffee group, and it’s so nice to catch up with them all each week. Last week at coffee group, Madelyn and her little friend gave each other a cuddle and a full on, open-mouthed kiss. It was very sweet and so funny.

Madelyn adores Mainly Music. She used to stand up and sway while singing her little heart out, but lately she’s been taking a while to warm up to it all and get off my lap. I guess she’s just becoming more aware of her surroundings, so is feeling a bit more shy and unsure. She still loves to go though, she gets so excited as soon as she realises that’s where we’re going.

Playcentre is so wonderful. It’s essentially an early childhood education environment, except that the parents/guardians are with the children the whole time. We’ve made some really good friends there, and there is so much for Madelyn to play with. She really loves to paint pictures. The other day, she had a paintbrush in each hand, and was exclaiming “Wow! Wow! Wow!” as she painted.

On the work/ministry front, we are very sad because a dear friend of ours is leaving the ministry Angus works for. She is such an incredible, talented young woman who serves God and loves people with all her heart, and it is a huge loss to have her go. Nevertheless, we are excited to see what God has planned both for her and for the ministry here in the future, and we know that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  In exciting news, the dance studio I teach for is moving to a new building. My boss has worked so hard, and is such an amazing woman and boss, so it’s awesome to see this new season happening in the studio.

I’m learning to find my identity as a wife and mother first and foremost, rather than as someone who works in full time ministry. It is harder than I thought it would be, because if I struggled with not receiving recognition and praise while working in ministry, the amount I get now is almost insulting. There is no one to thank me for changing dirty nappies, or waking up through out the night, or tidying up the lounge. I need to, yet again, learn that I will receive my reward in Heaven, and so not to seek an earthly reward. I also spend a lot of time reminding myself that I will never regret this, I will never say “Gee, I wish I’d spent less time with Madelyn and more time out working with other people.” It’s a journey.


So, that is what we’ve been up to. I will try really, really hard not to go so long before writing another blog post. Oh, also, you should watch this. especially if you’re having a bad day:

Advertisements

Why my husband isn’t coming with me to the other side of the world

Those of you who visit my Facebook page will know that Madelyn and I are going to England in July. I am so excited! We’re primarily going over to visit my dad, step mum and little sister, but will catch up with a few friends while we’re over there too.

Controversially, we’ve made the decision that my daughter and I will go to England for three and a half weeks alone, leaving my husband at home. He was able to get the time off work, we have enough money saved to buy his ticket, and we were all set to book the flights, when a last minute truce resulted in his ticket just not being booked. Many people have been confused as to why, it doesn’t seem to make sense that half of our family would go to the other side of the world without the other half, so here is our reasoning. This trip to England has been in the works for almost 10 years, since the last time I went to visit my family over there at 16. I’d always planned on going back, and when Angus and I got married, we discussed going there together. We have several very close friends in England as well as my family, and had actually planned to go in July of last year, but put those plans on hold when I fell pregnant with Madelyn. Angus actually has zero desire to travel, and was not keen on the idea of spending thousands of dollars to go to England when he was perfectly happy here in New Zealand. My dad offered to pay for one of us and Madelyn to go over, we just needed to pay for the other one of us. So we saved up enough for one adult return flight, found the cheapest flights we could, and were all ready to book the flights…

We argued every evening for 4 days. We were stressed out and impatient with each other, and every conversation turned into a disagreement. I’d found these cheap(er) flights, and wanted to book them, but because of a few larger purchases we’d made recently (two new cars and a motorbike), we were slightly short. I wanted to figure out what money to move around so that we could afford it, but every time I tried to get Angus to sit down to sort it out, it would end in an argument about money. He would lament how much I spend, and would get a piece of paper and work out exactly how much money we would lose going on this trip (despite two flights being paid for, it was going to cost us around $8,000 due to credit card interest). Worried that my opportunity to go back to England was slipping quickly out of my hands, I became more insistent that we just book the flights right now.

It came to the last day that the travel agent could hold the tickets for us. To help Angus not stress about spending so much money, I asked my dad if he could pay directly rather than having us pay now and forwarding us the money. That morning, before Angus left for work, we argued about money. He came home a couple of hours later, and we argued some more. He said that after this trip we would never travel overseas again, and that he was going to take complete control over the money situation so that we wouldn’t need to use so much on our credit card. It didn’t help that we were short on money at the time anyway. He told me that, if it were up to him, we wouldn’t go. I couldn’t not go.

I spent the morning worrying. I knew that to make him happy I needed to say we wouldn’t go. I knew that he would forever resent the amount of money spent, that it would delay us buying a house, and that the bitterness would build up inside him for years to come. But I also knew that I would forever resent not being able to go, that I would be similarly bitter for years to come. I had no idea what to do, there seemed to be no easy answer.

Then my dad called to let me know that he had paid for one adult and for Madelyn. It was done. Madelyn and I were going to England. Definitely. No going back, despite the money situation. It was happening.

The weight that had been on my shoulders all week evaporated. And as it did so, I realised that there was one other option. Not one I liked. Not one I would have chosen if it were up to me. But I knew it was the kindest thing to do. So I called Angus and asked him to come home for a minute, and I said to him,

“My dad called, he’s booked the flights for Madelyn and I…”

“Okay…” he replied, his face still twisted with worry, his shoulders still tense with stress.

“There is one option, and I don’t like it, but it’s there” I took a deep breath, “You don’t have to come.”

He visibly relaxed, and said that he’d been talking about the exact same idea with his boss. His boss thought he should go, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but they’d discussed the pros and cons of me going without him. Angus had only two concerns, 1) Would I be okay on the plane? and 2) A month (the length of time we’d planned on going) would be far too long for us to spend apart. I assured him that, while the flights would be hard, I’d cope. And we discussed shortening the trip to only two and a half weeks.

So it was decided. I called the travel agent, not to book Angus’s ticket, but to see about the possibility of moving our flight home to nearly two weeks earlier. It turned out that the only flight home around the date we wanted was right in the middle of a camp Angus would be involved in, so we pushed it out to three weeks. At 5pm, when the ticket would have stopped being held, it was official. Madelyn and I were travelling to the other side of the world without our husband and father.

People think we’re crazy. They feel frustrated at Angus, because they think he should be coming too. It’s not proper for a family to be so far from each other. But, if I may be so very real, it was going to ruin our marriage if I forced him to come. It wasn’t fair of him to ask me not to go. But, at the same time, it wasn’t fair of me to pressure him into going. We will miss each other very much, and the flight will be horrendous, but it is the best decision for our marriage. We are both extremely happy about it. Straight away, Angus started talking about maybe going over to Australia to visit friends of ours, even a potentially international missions trip. I mentioned that I can save up the money I earn teaching dance to use as spending money, and he said “I’ll give you some spending money too.” That evening, we did not argue at all. In fact, we haven’t really argued since.

Marriage isn’t about “ought to”s, and it’s not black and white. It involves a lot of compromise. We each had something we absolutely could not move on, and we needed to work around that for the benefit of each of us.

Twenty six things I love about my twenty six year old husband

It was my husband’s twenty sixth birthday, so I’ve written a list of one thing I love about him for every year of his life. I did the same thing three years ago, but I’ve done this list without looking at the last one, so hopefully I don’t double up.

I love…

1. His wisdom
2. His loyalty
3. His sense of humour
4. That he works so hard so that I can stay home with Madelyn
5. How he is so good at keeping secrets
6. And how he knows when to keep said secrets, and when it’s okay to tell others
7. The admiration and trust in Madelyn’s voice when she says “Daddy”
8. How smart he is
9. His honesty
10. How easily he gets along with everyone he meets
11. How much the kids he works with love him
12. The way he gains the respect of the kids he works with
13. How level-headed he is
14. His ability to stay calm in an emergency
15. How logical he is
16. How good he is with money
17. His leadership
18. His confidence
19. How much he loves Madelyn
20. How understanding he is
21. How he remains in control of his emotions
22. His support of me as Madelyn’s mother
23. His hospitality
24. His face
25. How much fun it is to do life with him
26. The way we have become so comfortable with each other

DSC_0737

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.” 
― Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)

Thank you, 2013, for the way you have changed me

When 2013 started, I was a young wife, pregnant with my first child. I had a fairly good idea of who I was, and of what made me me. I was a dance teacher, I loved reading and writing, I worked with children. My days were filled with doing whatever I wanted to do. My life was more or less about me, and those I loved. While I considered the influence I might have, I didn’t really spend too much time doing anything about it.

newyearseve2

New Years Eve 2012

As 2013 draws to a close, I sit here a completely different person. I am a mum now, and most of my identity revolves around that. My daughter is my life, and my days are spent caring for her. I still teach dancing, and still have things I love to do, but my time is not my own anymore. 2013 has changed me.

Thanks to 2013, I am less selfish. 

It’s hard to be selfish when you have a new born bundle of needs relying on you for everything. This year, I have had no choice but to be completely selfless. There have been times where I’ve wanted to be selfish, but then I’ve remembered that she doesn’t know how much energy and resources she uses up, she doesn’t know I could choose not to meet her needs, she just expects them to be met because I am her mummy. I choose to meet her needs, because I want her to know that the world is reliable, that she can trust people, and that she can be secure. Now I want to do the same for others, because everyone deserves to feel secure in their environment.

Thanks to 2013, I am less lazy.

When 2013 started, I was pretty lazy. I liked to rest more than I liked to work. But during 2013, once my baby was born, I have had to work and do things for most of the time. I have no choice but to feed her, change her, play with her, keep the house tidy and safe for her. This has made me really appreciate the times I do get to rest. I no longer view the things I have to do as chores, but simply as part of life.

Thanks to 2013, I have purpose.

I used to have no most important thing. I felt like I was on the outside of everything. But for my baby, the world revolves around me. I am the person she relies on to care for her. Especially when she was a newborn, with out me she would die. In 2013, I found my calling. Motherhood is what I was made for. But as well as that, I have discovered so many interests in myself that never existed before my baby was born. In particular, I have found myself fascinated with breastfeeding, and with attachment parenting. I’m training to be a Le Leche League leader, all the books I read are about attachment parenting and breastfeeding, and I even started a whole new blog dedicated to it. Becoming a parent has opened up a whole new side of myself.

Thank you, 2013, for the ways you have changed me. I will always look back on this year as the one that made me into who I was always meant to be.

Maddy and her Daddy

This little girl loves her daddy. DSCF1312 Her face lights up when she hears him arriving home. She turns to me, her eyes sparkling, and sighs happily. As he walks to the door, she sees him, and her little feet wave around. The first thing he does when he gets inside is kisses and tickles her, and she giggles and blushes. She pats whatever she’s eating or playing with, as if to say “Look what I’m doing, Daddy.” If she hears his voice while breastfeeding, she’ll stop feeding and start trying to sit up to get a look at him. Even if she’s half asleep. And she cries when he leaves for work in the morning. It is the cutest, most sad thing, watching her face as she realises he’s stopped playing with her and has started to leave.

Yesterday, while they were playing together, she looked at him and said “Da!” for the first time. She doesn’t know what that sound means yet, but the timing was brilliant.

She knows he delights in her. She knows she is his precious little girl. She knows her daddy loves her.

Deserving extravagant thanks (the Proverbs 31 Woman)

The husband half of a couple from our church is treating his wife to a trip to Melbourne with a friend (who he is also treating), to thank her for the way she has supported him and helped him with his farm for the past couple of years.

What extravagance. What thoughtfulness. What a guy.

And if I’m honest, my first thought was “Oh, how lucky she is. My husband would never do that.” I even thought about telling him, specifically to make him see how much sweeter he could be. But as I thought more about it, a horrible realisation dawned on me…

The reason my husband would never treat me to a shopping trip in Melbourne is because I don’t deserve it.

I don’t say that to put myself down, to get sympathy, or to be shocking. It’s simply the truth. My husband is a reasonable and kind man, and if I deserved such an extravagant gift as thanks, then I would get it.

I might look after Madelyn relatively well, but I don’t do all that much to improve life for Angus. I don’t really keep the house that tidy, I don’t cook him dinner, I spend all his money. And I expect thanks for every tiniest thing I do.

In the 31st chapter of Proverbs, King Lemuel recalls his mother’s advice about the ideal wife. She is hardworking, she rises early in the morning to feed and clothe her family. She is wise with money, and makes good decisions that result in prosperity. Her body is strong from the work that it has done, and even at night, she does not give up her duty. She is generous. She helps those in need. Her children and husband praise her, and her husband is respected because of her. She honours the Lord, and for this she deserves to be praised.

My husband needs a wife who is steadfast, loyal, and motivated. Who takes care of things at home with joyfulness and humility. I want to be that wife. I want to be “the Proverbs 31 woman.” I want to deserve extravagant thanks.

‘J’ is for “Just a stay-at-home mum”

My daughter is 6 months old now, so when I meet people. they often ask “So, what do you do?” When I reply “Well, I take care of Madelyn,” they look kind of put off by that, so I always find myself qualifying it by saying “I do teach 3 dance classes a week…”

Because it seems there is something wrong with spending your days caring for your family.

…and that’s good enough for me

Women are assured that they’re not “just” a mum, that what they do makes a difference, that they have an important role in society. But I don’t really think that society’s view of stay-at-home mums is always that they’re unworthy. Mothers are becoming more and more valued, and raising a child who becomes a successful adult is considered significant. No, I don’t think that people are put off by my doing “nothing” because of their view of me as being lazy or not making a difference.

It seems to come from the perspective that I could not possibly be fulfilled by staying at home with my child.

They don’t look at me with disdain. They look at me with pity. I am educated, and have a high earning potential. And it seems to be generally well-accepted that someone like me, who could do very well working outside of home, would be bored at home with my baby. So they really can’t understand it when I claim to be so happy. In fact, the answer I get when I qualify myself by mentioning the dance classes I teach is a relieved “Oh, it must be nice to get a break from Madelyn.”

I don’t know if I’m a member of the norm, or not, but having Madelyn in a different building to me stresses me out. A different room is bad enough. The longest I have been away from her, apart from the 2 hours of surgery the night she was born, is an hour. One hour which felt like an eternity, where an invisible hook in my stomach pulled me towards the door, compelling me to go and find her.

Time with adults is wonderful. Time to dance, to shop, to read a book, is fantastic. But time away from her is not what I need. On days where I feel like it’s all too much, what would be far more helpful than being away from her, would be to have someone come and spend time with us both. Play with her while I have a shower, take a nap, or just sit and do whatever I want. Come and do my dishes, vacuum the house, or fold the washing. Time away from her isn’t what rejuvenates me. Time away from the heavy responsibilities of my new life is what rejuvenates me.

There are a whole lot of things that I love doing, and could do as a job. But I love kissing the soft underside of her chin more. I do have days where I wish I could be more involved at the dance studio, but I remind myself that I’m never going to regret the time I spend with Madelyn. There is not one moment of her life that I have missed. I received her first smile. I made her giggle her first giggle. I saw her first clumsy attempts at crawling. I wouldn’t swap those moments for anything.

I am so, so thankful that my husband and I are in a position that allows me to stay at home for as long as I like. I know how rare that is these days, so I don’t take the privilege lightly.

I don’t need pity. I don’t need assurance that time without her is good for me. At home with my baby, I am more happy than I have ever been.

An open letter to my husband on his 25th birthday

Dear Angus,

Today you have been alive for a quarter of a century. In this time, you have done many things to be proud of. But in all your life so far, I think you can be most proud of the past two weeks. You are an incredible father.

I always knew that you would be, but I still find myself surprised at just how overwhelmingly good you are. There is no way I could have done these past two weeks without you. Thank you for waking up in the dead of the night to make me toast and dry my tears. Thank you for passing me the water when I can’t reach it because I’m feeding Madelyn. Thank you for making me a soft boiled egg every morning. Thank you for turning the DVDs on for me. Thank you for telling me I’m doing a great job. Thank you for laughing with me. Thank you for being a steady, constant, encouraging husband.

I love the look of peace and awe that passes over Madelyn’s face when you hold her and talk to her. She knows her daddy’s voice, and she knows her daddy loves her. She will know the Father heart of God, because she sees it in you.

You are more than I could ever have hoped for. We are so lucky to have you.

I love you.

Your wife,

Courtney

IMG_6007

Top 12 Blog Posts of 2012

Remembering all that happened in 2012 is harder than it’s ever been to remember a year. Too much happened. Too much changed. I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around what a massive, awesome, unexpected year it was. While I attempt to do so, and to put it into some sort of order, I thought I would look back on my blog for the past year. These blog posts are the top according to WordPress and Facebook statistics, and have been some of my favourites.

12. This is love

One thing that always surprises me is just how much people seem to like to read about my husband and how wonderful he is. I wrote this blog post as a reminder to myself of all the ways Angus shows me he loves me, because they’re so easy to miss. His selfless love for me is expressed daily, in the littlest of things. This was one post that many people commented on in real life, and remains one that I love to read every now and again.

11. The Submission posts (Part 1 and Part 2)

Not having been raised in a Christian family, my views on marriage differ greatly to the views of most of my family, and many of my friends. Speaking openly about the way our marriage works, with regard to Biblical teaching, was not a decision that I made lightly. I don’t like to alienate people, and “Wives, submit to your husbands” can be a rather alienating command. The second post in which I spoke about submission was written straight away after I published the first one, because I was so worried that people would think that I was crazy, or worse, that Angus was abusive. I don’t think I even shared either of these links on Facebook. But I was pleasantly surprised at how accepting people were of my views. The number of people who come to my blog by searching about submission in marriage on Google is also rather interesting.

10. Wild infatuation (20 weeks and 4 days)

At my 20 week scan, I was fascinated by my baby’s tiny baby feet, and it seems many other people were too. Someone even came to my blog through Googling “baby feet at 20 weeks.” This blog post remains one of the most viewed. I know, everybody, they’re really cute feet.

9.  Could I have prevented Amanda Todd’s death?

The 15 year old who committed suicide, but left her mark on the world through a video in which she tells the story of her suffering, effected me more than I would have expected. Perhaps that is the mark of motherhood. But I found myself thinking of all the teenagers I know, and of all those who were teenagers when I was young. It is a shame that, too often, we learn our lessons after we need them.

8. Oh, hello third trimester

IMG_2662

People seem to like the photos of my baby bump, which kind of makes me wish I’d done them every week. But, to be honest, I’ve taken bump photos as often as I’ve remembered, so there probably wouldn’t have been many more. This blog post was the first pregnancy update I’d done in a while, which I think accounts for its popularity. It was the one I received the most advice from, too, which was nice. I love when people read my blogs, and then mention them in real life. I like the idea that my thoughts shared here may be the start of a conversation.

7. On homosexuality, and how I feel about it as a Christian

This is one that I thought about for a while, before writing and publishing. I worried that I would offend people. Eventually my husband, who thrives on offending people in this way, convinced me that what I was thinking was worth saying. It’s still not one I shared on Facebook, so it surprised me to find how many people had viewed it. Many of those who follow my blog, and therefore read it, have talked to me about their views. Awesome conversations have been started from this, which is what I love.

6. 7 weeks and 1 day

One of several that I wrote before announcing my pregnancy and published later, this post was particularly popular. People seem to like the warm and the fuzzy, and this account of my husband’s secret excitement about the baby had plenty of both.

5. Girl drama, cliques and those who talk about you behind your back 

This is one that is commonly found in Google, which suggests that it’s a problem for many people.  I asked several people to read this post before publishing it. My thoughts here were relevant to quite a few situations both going on around me and in my own life, and I didn’t want this post to just be a continuation of the problem. But one thing I have learnt is that there will always be problems with gossip and drama, and so there will never be a perfect time to speak about it if you wish to avoid bringing it up in the midst of a situation.

4. What I now know about life… (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4)

I wrote this series as a way to look back on the biggest lessons I learnt during my time working in full time ministry. My three years as discipleship coordinator at a Christian camp were three of the most amazing years of growth I have ever had. It was during this time that I became an adult. Written in January as I prepared to finish my work, these four posts still have some of the most views, and the most comments, out of all my blog posts in 2012.

3. My husband, the emergency medical technician

My announcement that my husband passed his interview to become an emergency medical technician was one of the most ‘liked’ on Facebook out of almost all of my blog posts this year. I really liked writing this blog, because he had worked so, so hard and so deserved his success.

2. The Bump (24 weeks and 1 day)

This was the first time a lot of people who hadn’t yet seen me pregnant got to “see” my baby bump, and it is my most viewed blog post of 2012. Despite that, it doesn’t quite beat out number 1 in terms of reaction and, to be honest, my enjoyment.

1. First comes love, then comes marriage…

My very favourite blog post to write in 2012, and the one which got the most reaction on WordPress, Facebook and real life combined, was the one in which I announced my pregnancy. I was kind of nervous to announce my pregnancy, to be honest. It had been a secret for so long, it felt kind of wrong to now be able to tell the world. I didn’t announce it to the world until I was almost 14 weeks, because I just didn’t feel ready. I’d kind of liked our baby being our little secret. But then, once I did announce it, I found that I loved everyone knowing. And I love going back and reading the announcements, and remembering what it felt like to first write it.