Instagram or it didn’t happen

This weekend, Madelyn and I took a trip to Tirau with a special friend of ours. It was a lovely day, wandering through antique and artsy stores while Madelyn slept in the mei tai, pies and hot chips for lunch, Madelyn running freely down the street, and fun with finger puppets (three of which she got to take home).

And then, just as the day drew to a close, I actually said, “Oh, I should take some photos so I can write a blog post about it.” So I took quite a cute photo of Madelyn looking smug with her finger puppets, and then (I wish I could say I’m kidding, but this actually happened), I had my friend take photos out the car window while we drove away. What’s worse is that I was disappointed, thinking “Oh, I should have taken photos of her playing with the finger puppets…I should have gotten a photo of her sitting up at the booth at lunch…Her sleepy face peeping out from the mei tai would have been such a cute photo.”

It’s not that I was sad about not getting photos that shocks me, it’s that I wanted photos specifically to put on social media. I wanted to put a photo up on my new Instagram account, and then write a soppy blog post about special mornings that happen off the cuff, complete with photos of my adorable toddler.

Is this my life now? Only lived through the lens of a camera? Only experienced on social media?

Yes, I had a beautiful day. Our little random trip to Tirau can stand as a memory on it’s own, it doesn’t need to exist on the internet in order to matter. It doesn’t need the ‘likes’ and comments of other people for it to be validated. I could have set up the perfect pictures, I could have made it look amazing, and made every one else think I have the most incredible, not-quite-hipster life. But that wouldn’t have made my day any more amazing. In fact, I think it would have ruined it. Posing the perfect photo and choosing a filter for Instagram is not living.

I will put the photo of Madelyn walking with her finger puppets in hand on Instagram, because it’s a cute photo and it’s waiting to be uploaded (I haven’t connected my iPad to the internet at home, because I want to be present with my family at home). But I vow to never again nearly ruin a day with my obsession for capturing the moment to share on the internet. My life doesn’t need ‘likes’ in order for it to be validated.

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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:

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

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.

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

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“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)