The Blue Spring (Dust if you must, but the world’s out there)

A few weeks ago, on a late summer’s day, we went for a walk to the Blue Spring in Putaruru, where most of New Zealand’s bottled water flows from.

The water is a magical blue colour, with bright green weeds that call you to watch out for freshwater nymphs swimming beneath the ripples. Madelyn rode on my back, and we filled our drink bottles with fresh water and ate lunch beside the spring while our friends swam in the freezing water.

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There, in the beauty and the sun, we found this poem, in honour of Linda Margaret Pearce, who passed away on the 18th October, 2003. It is so perfect.

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter
Bake a cake or plant a seed
Ponder the difference between want and need

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain
This day will not come around again

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb
Music to hear and books to read
Friends to cherish and life to lead

Dust if you must, but bear in mind
The time will come and it’s not kind
And when you go, and go you must
You yourself will make more dust

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:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Six months old

My baby is half a year old.

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I can’t believe how fast these last 6 months have gone, nor how wonderful they have been. She’s stubborn, strong-willed, and knows how to get what she wants. We’re going to have fun with her. I love this about her, because I see her growing into a woman who is bold, uncompromising in her values, and not afraid to be a voice of justice.

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Miss Madelyn started commando crawling at 5 and a half months, and now it’s a lot harder to get good photos of her, because she doesn’t stay still for long enough. She gets around surprisingly fast, and she gets into everything. She refuses to stay on her changing mat long enough for me to put a new nappy on her. She follows us around everywhere, but cries as if her heart is breaking if we go too fast or move just out of sight. The poor cat has been chased a few times, too. Madelyn limps over to her, giggling her head off, and then as soon as she reaches out her hand to pat her, the cat scoots away as fast as she can.

 

 

She loves having people food. There hasn’t been anything so far that she’s refused to eat, though there are clearly some tastes she prefers over others. She loves, loves, loves water. I think she could actually just survive off water if we let her. Whenever she sees us drinking out of a cup or a water bottle, she wants some too. She’s actually pretty good at drinking out of her sippy cup. She can get it to her mouth, it’s just tipping it far enough that she needs help with.

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Her sleep is still erratic. Starting on solids is said to help a baby sleep longer, but not our Madelyn. She’s up every two hours wanting some more milk (maybe because she’s so busy during the day, she doesn’t get all she needs). We’ve had a few late nights where she’s just been hyperactive, like she has restless leg syndrome. She rolls around and around and around and gets up on her hands and knees and rocks and rolls some more, until she finally crashes.

She’s really funny and loves people. A few days ago, we were at the supermarket, and she was crying, then suddenly stopped and started smiling. I turned around to see what she was smiling at, and she’d caught the eye of one of the other customers, so had gone all cute. Cheeky little monkey.

 

We just adore her. She is so cute and playful and funny, she loves being the centre of attention, and she is so headstrong. We are excited about the woman she will grow up to be, and we are thankful for the time we get to spend with her now.