I am in awe of this girl

Madelyn’s friend is upset, crying while being cuddled by her mother. Madelyn stops what she is doing and toddles over to her friend, a look of concern on her face. “Oh,” she clucks, as she pats her friend on the back.

My heart melts.

Madelyn is playing in the garden with her Nana. She sees Nana approaching the small step that Madelyn herself has only recently mastered. She rushes over, her hand held up, nodding to her Nana. She’ll help her down.

She isn’t even 18 months old yet.

Madelyn stands by the table and reaches up. “Nah nah,” she pleads, “nah nah.” I get a banana from the fruit bowl, peel it and hand half to her. She holds the banana to the mouth of the toy alligator in her hand, smacking her lips to mimic the alligator eating. After a while, she puts the banana down and keeps playing. The alligator was hungry.

How does she know to do this?

Madelyn is playing in the toddler room at church when her friend walks in and stands at the door, unsure of the faces she doesn’t know. A smile spreads across Madelyn’s face, and she runs over to her, hand held out. “It’s okay,” her actions say, “Come and play with me, I’ll take care of you.”

She brings her toys to me to breastfeed. She sets beds up for them, and lays down with them, singing them to sleep. She stops to talk to every animal she sees. She cuddles and kisses and hold hands, and seems to instinctively know when someone is in need of her comforting presence.

My tiny child only says a handful of words, but already she is empathetic, compassionate, kind. She nurtures and protects. She loves.

I am in awe of this girl.

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My baby worships God

My baby worships God.

She doesn’t copy us. Neither Angus nor I are particularly expressive when worshipping God through music.

She isn’t just dancing. She dances, too, and it involves a lot of stamping and hip-wagging, whereas she sways as she worships, with her hands raised, eyes closed.

I thought I was just projecting my own experiences onto her, seeing what I wanted to see, but it is unmistakable. My baby worships God.

The first time she did it was a few weeks ago, at a conference we went to. Madelyn and I were in the parents room with a couple of friends, where the main session was being streamed to a TV so we could watch. A man began to sing ‘Scarlet Love,’ and Madelyn and her friend stopped playing and started to praise God, their faces intent, their voices lifted high. Before that moment, she had lifted her hands during worship and loved to sing, but that was just copying. This was very purposeful, and tangible in it’s holiness. Driving home from the conference, I was reminded that it says in the Bible that God ordains praise from the mouths of babies. When I got home, I looked up the specific verse, and found this:

From the mouths of children and nursing babies
You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries,
so that You might put an end to the vindictive enemy.
Psalm 8:2

Chills.

It’s not just cute that my baby worships God. It’s not just beautiful and exciting. God is using her praises as a weapon in spiritual warfare. How much more life is than what it seems at first glance.

Give Yourself A Raise

A little while ago, I received an email from Raise asking me to participate in their campaign ‘Give Yourself A Raise,’ where I’m to share about how I reward  myself as a mother. Raise is an awesome new marketplace to buy and sell gift cards on the web.  With the extra money you can save on discount gift cards to your favorite brands, you can spend more on the things you love.

I’ve been pretty honest on here lately about how much I struggle with the lack of tangible rewards, and especially praise, that motherhood brings. Motherhood is intense, and it is constant. I find myself both loving my life and feeling utterly exhausted, and it often feels like there is no reprieve. My daughter makes me sparkle and shine. Nevertheless, I have very little time during the day to relax, and yet I struggle to get everything done, and I end up feeling lazy and berating myself because my house is a pig sty and I got fast food yet again. Being a mother is wonderful and is it’s own reward. Being a mother is difficult and thankless.

I couldn’t really think of what I do to reward myself. Being a mum makes everything except laying down your life for your kid seem selfish. So writing this blog post was pretty hard. But then, Thursday morning happened.

My little girl is pretty happy-go-lucky. She’s clear about what she wants, and full of energy, and for the most part, she’s easy to be around. But on Thursday she was having an off morning. She hasn’t been eating or sleeping well, because she has teeth coming through, so she was quite grumpy, and everything felt like a bit too much.

First, she didn’t want her water. We were at Playcentre, and she walked around the morning tea table, grabbing which ever water bottle she could see and trying to drink out of it. When I swapped the bottle for her own water bottle, she had a tantrum.

Then, she was playing in the pretend kitchen, picked up a fake cob of corn, and brought it over to me, tapping it and frowning. When I told her it wasn’t real corn, Tantrum Time.

Lastly, as we were leaving, she made a game of stealing things out of other kids’ bags, and running away with them. Cue third full on tantrum in an hour.

I had been planning on making lunch. I’d even decided what to make. I was so determined to be “good” and make my own lunch instead of going through a drive-through. But as we got into the car, I said to Madelyn, “Right. I’m going to need some McDonalds.”

Other mums reward themselves with pampering sessions, nights away, shopping. Sometimes even a shower, or toileting with the door closed and no audience, can seem like a reward.

But me? I reward myself with a cheeseburger.

How do you give yourself a raise? Is there something you buy or do for yourself that makes it all feel less overwhelming? I’d love to hear from you 

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.

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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:

A tale from when she SHOULD have been in the playroom – not the bathroom!

I recently got an email from Dropcam asking me to participate in their “Tales From The Playroom” campaign, a challenge to share a funny or heartwarming story about something my child has done. Okay, game on!

Last night was one of those evenings where I wish I’d had a Dropcam to use as a baby moniter. It may have saved me a lot of money.

Due to my abysmal time-management skills, which saw me crawling into bed at 2am that morning, I was exhausted and so was getting Madelyn ready for bed earlier than usual. She was still energetic and mischievous, but I hoped a calm, drawn out bedtime routine would help her settle to sleep. I was running her a bath, and had stepped out of the bathroom for a few seconds to grab something, assuming Madelyn had followed me as she’d been underfoot all afternoon.

Until then I heard a bang and a massive splash.

I ran back into the bathroom, hoping I wouldn’t find her unconscious at the bottom of the tub. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw her standing beside the bath, looking at me like she was the most clever girl in the world. Soon after my sigh of relief was followed by a cry of frustration when I noticed a small, black rectangle sinking down through the water.

The little monkey had thrown my phone into the bath. How clever of her.

To be fair, it’s kind of my fault. I’ve been encouraging her to put things into boxes and baskets (mostly her toys, into the toy box). What a large, exciting “box” the bath must have seemed to her young mind. Who would have thought I’d be saying that teaching my child to clean up backfired on me?

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At least she’s cute

A Party for Madelyn

(I am very sorry that I’ve been so slack with blogging recently. Madelyn tires me out ;) Her 12 month old update is coming soon, I promise!)

A party! A party!

Madelyn’s first birthday party was so much fun. I loved being a real mum planning a real birthday party for my real daughter. We just had a nice, simple afternoon tea at our house with driveway chalk, a sandpit, a little playground and lots of grass. We were going to have a bouncy castle too, but it was possibly the most windy day of the whole summer. Madelyn loved having all her friends and family with her to celebrate her special day.

I have called you to be Mummy

Sitting up late at night, feeling isolated and overwhelmed, I mourned the missed opportunities to serve God as I have concentrated on my baby.

My Heavenly Father whispered into my heart, “I have called you to be Mummy.

You are not missing out. You are not useless. You are exactly where I intend you to be. I am preparing your heart to nurture people, to love them as they grow and tend to them until they blossom into who I have created them to be. I will give you a legacy, and an inheritance to leave your children.

I have called you to be Mummy.”

I have a new sense of meaning, a purpose for my life. Everything I do is not wasted. I am living out my identity

 

Eleven months old

I had this all typed up, I just needed to add the photos, and then the computer crashed and I lost it!

Our little tornado is now 11 months old.

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“Tornado” really is the best word to use to describe little Madelyn. She is everywhere. She crawls so fast, and gets into absolutely everything. She loves to be chased, climbs everything, and flings herself around on couches and mattresses. For the past few weeks, she’s been squatting while playing and trying to stand up. Two days after she turned 11 months old, we were at the beach, and she started standing up on her own! She’s gotten really good at it since then, but still hasn’t even tried to take a step. She’s such a fast crawler, she actually runs on her hands and feet. 

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It’s amazing how good she’s getting at communicating, even though she can’t really talk. She does have a few words – “Mummy,” “Daddy/Dad” and “Ma ma” (to indicate she wants to breastfeed), as well as “Look!” and “That!” which she says while pointing a lot. She does a lot of pointing, and is very insistent about what she’s pointing at. It’s very obvious where she wants to go or what she wants to play with. She can also cheep (“ee ee”) like a chick, and quack (“bap bap”) like a duck. She chatters away constantly, and looks very intently at people when she’s talking, just like she’s telling a story. She talks about her daddy a lot. Even at the supermarket, she tells the checkout ladies all about her dad (you can tell she’s actually talking about her dad and not just babbling, because her voice has a special tone for “Daddy”). One morning, we woke up after her daddy had gone to work, and Madelyn pointed at the door and said “Dad dad dad!” I replied “Yes, we’ll go and see Daddy soon,” to which she frowned, pointed again and shouted “DAD DAD DAD!” Baby Girl knows what she wants.

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Madelyn loves books. We go to the library once a week, and she gets so excited every time. Partially because there’s a wide, open space for her to run around in (on her hands and feet, with lots of flinging), but also because there are books she can “read.” She’ll spend hours opening and closing books, looking at the pictures, lifting the flaps and feeling the different textures in “touch” books. She loves being read to as well, and especially loves animal books where she can try and repeat the sounds the animal makes. Madelyn also loves playing games, especially Peek-a-Boo. She likes being the hider best. She’ll pull something over her head, and then you say “Where’s Madelyn?” and then she uncovers her face with this massive grin. One day recently, she even covered her face with her hands, babbled questioningly, and then pulled her hands away and said “Ah!” She loves chasing people and being chased, and shrieks with delight when she is caught.

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It sounds crazy, but she sings. Not just tunelessly either, she actually sings in tune. To music that is playing, or with people who are singing to her. She matches pitch. It is uncanny. And when she sings to someone, she looks them in the eye, cocks her head to the side, and really sings her heart out. She claps whenever she hears music, and lately we’ve started noticing that she’s actually clapping in time with the beat. The other day her daddy even saw her tapping her foot in time with the music. It’s crazy that she has such an innate sense of rhythm and love of music.

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She is becoming so affectionate. She loves giving kisses and cuddles, and has started climbing up into peoples’ laps to just sit with them. Her kisses are prolonged and open-mouthed. She reaches out for people other than her daddy and I. She likes people to sit on the ground and play with her, and she stands up and holds their shoulders while she plays. When someone is lying on the ground, she’ll come up and recline on them, as close as she can to their face. She gets really into it, and keeps wriggling around and slides off, so then she gets back up and starts again.

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Madelyn is a little performer. Whenever we have people over, she puts on a little show, where she’ll crawl around the middle of the room we’re all in and do the cutest things she can think of. She loves to make people laugh, and she loves to see everyone delighting in her.

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She is so wonderful. So funny, so crazy, so beautiful. Our lives are better because she’s here, and we love her so much.

The Post-Baby Body

When I look at my body, why don’t I see it for what it is?

My body has changed too much. It is too fat, too white, too stretched out. I feel shame when I see myself in the mirror. I don’t want anyone to look at me.

These bags are under my eyes because I stayed up half the night, breastfeeding a waking baby so that she would stay asleep and get enough rest to grow. They are there because I crawled out of bed before the sun rose, bleary eyed, to start the day with my girl. My once toned body now spills over because I haven’t exercised in the better part of a year – too busy, I have been, nursing a high-needs baby who has wanted to breastfeed every moment she could since the day she was born. My skin is stretched out, stripes running down my stomach to mark the place where she grew.

Who told me these were flaws? 

When my friends who don’t have children yet confide their fears of their bodies changing, I tell them it doesn’t matter. “I’m a mum now,” I say. But then why does it matter to me? 

I want to shake myself, slap myself in the face, and say to myself “Remember when you brought Madelyn into this world, and you were proud of yourself? To have done it so fast, to have coped so well. What satisfaction you felt! Where has that pride gone? Where is that satisfaction in having tested the limits of your body and mind and finding it triumphant?”

The average woman gains 3kg per baby. Why do I view this as a challenge? That better not be me, I think, I better stay the same size. Is there not more to life than I how I look?

I hope so. I hope that what really matters is what I have accomplished using my body. I hope that my body is merely a tool that I use to succeed in that which is important to me. I hope that I am more than what I look like.

When I look at my body, why don’t I see it for what it is?

This is a body that has created and sustains life. 

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I forgot to tell you about…Making A Potion

This is number 3 in a series of photos of things that I planned to tell you about, but never finished the blog post. The first two are here and here. Here’s another one from December 2013.

I forgot to tell you about making a potion.

Tactile play to help her brain grow.

Bits of everything from the garden.

Tastes good?

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