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

 

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)

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.

DSCF2922

“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. 

DSC_0031

 

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.

DSCF2967

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.

DSCF2973

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.

DSCF2980

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.

DSCF2954

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.

DSCF2888

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. 

DSCF2792

An Open Letter To My First Dance Teacher

(This letter is actually two letters. I started dancing in 1995, when I was six years old. My teachers were a mother/daughter team, and they often alternated classes. I can’t remember who taught my very first class, so I’ve written a letter to each of them for this post)

An Open Letter To My First Dance Teacher

Snowflakes ’95. I am in the front row, second in from the right.

Dear Natasha,

When I came to you for dance classes, I was a day-dreaming, imaginative, chatty little girl. As a dance teacher, I now know that I must have been rather annoying to teach. You may have found me cute, but I wouldn’t have been one of those kids who were a pleasure to teach. I wasn’t focused, I wasn’t all that interested in improving. I just came to dancing to have fun. To be honest, I was probably quite painful to teach.

But you delighted in me. You encouraged me. You laughed with me. Never once did you give me the impression that I was annoying, that you’d rather spend your time with a child who was serious about dancing. You taught me that I was wonderful. Twice a week, I came into your dance class and had my self-esteem topped up by you, who appreciated me and loved me the way I was. You were always kind, always patient.

Though I was probably the last student you would ever expect to have a career related to dance, I am now a dance teacher. I teach some of the most wonderful girls and boys, many of them just like me. Because I remember how good you helped me to feel about myself, I am determined to enjoy every single child that I teach. You have inspired me.

Thank you,

Courtney

– – – – –

Dear Mrs Hodson,

You were a fantastic dance teacher. Strict, but fun. As a dance teacher now, I appreciate how hard it must have been to enforce the rules you did. I find myself saying “When I was a child, we would NEVER  have…” to my students all the time. How did you get everyone to take off their shoes and put on a jumper before leaving the building? How did you do costumes without having any one complain? How did you get us all to practice? 

Thank you for teaching me discipline. Thank you for expecting me to be well-groomed and well behaved. Thank you for always trying to get the best out of me. And thank you for managing to be kind while doing so.

Thank you,

Courtney

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?

DSCF2440

 

DSCF2441

 

DSCF2449

I forgot to tell you about… Swimming With Melissa

This is part two in a series where I go through my drafts, putting words to the photos that I never did anything with, and sharing them with you. In my last blog post, I shared our photos from Christmas At The Park. Here is another thing from December 2013 that I forgot to tell you about.

I forgot to tell you about swimming with Melissa

Last swimming lesson for the term.

Showing off her cool new skills to a special friend.

Giggles and smiles.

Super chilled out babe.

Ready for a nap now.

DSCF2696

DSCF2672

DSCF2673

DSCF2745

DSCF2752

I forgot to tell you about… Christmas At The Park

I’ve been going through my drafts, trying to sort out what I should work on and what I should throw away, and I found a whole lot of posts that were started and never finished that are simply photos of things we have done. I thought that rather than throw them away, because they’re now way past relevant (one was from May 2012!), I’d start a series called “I forgot to tell you about…” and add words to these unfinished blog posts. Here is a kind of recent one, from December 2013.

I forgot to tell you about Christmas at the Park. 

On the 15th of December, our town got together to celebrate Christmas.

An unbearably hot and freakishly sunny afternoon.

A logical, practical husband who put an umbrella in my car before we left.

The words “I would love for it to rain just a little bit right now.”

Rain pouring down.

First time watching fireworks.

DSCF2484

DSCF2493

DSCF2497

DSCF2563

DSCF2572

DSCF2655