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

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 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 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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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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Ten months old

Madelyn Maria is now 10 months old.

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She is such a funny, happy little girl. It seems like every day she learns how to do something new. Her big thing this month is pointing. She points at everything. She also loves to clap, and if she’s upset and wants to come to someone, she points at them and then claps and points again, like “You! Yes, you!” It is so cool seeing her try to communicate. She’s so chatty and constantly babbles away. She’s so social, and loves being around people and making new friends. Often when we’re out, she’ll suddenly laugh and smile, and when I look at what she’s looking at, she’s just trying to get someone’s attention. When she’s playing, if she sees someone, especially another baby or child, watching her, she’ll call out to them constantly until they come over and play too, like she’s saying “Hey! Come and play with me!”

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She’s so close to walking. She pulls herself up to stand and cruises along everything. She’s really close to standing up on her own, when she’s playing and gets really excited, she gets up on one foot and one knee, and it feels like any second now she’s just going to stand right up. But she’s so fast at crawling, so there are a lot of times where she could try to take a step, but crawling is faster, so she just crawls instead.

Her sleeping is much more consistent now. She usually goes to bed at about 8pm, wakes at about 12:30am, and then two or three times after that. We’re still co-sleeping, so her night wakings don’t bother us at all. The day Madelyn turned 10 months old, she fell asleep at 7pm, and I was cooking dinner, so I put her down to sleep in her ‘nap nook’ (a mattress on the floor in her room), thinking she’d sleep for half an hour or so. At 9:30pm, she still hadn’t woken up, so Angus and I went to bed, and left her in her nap nook. She slept until 12:30 (I didn’t sleep at all), and then I brought her back into our bed. From then on, she’s been starting the night off in her own room, and she’s been sleeping longer and longer.

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Madelyn still doesn’t eat a lot, but she does love trying new food. She eats a huge variety of foods, and especially loves fruit. She’s getting really good at feeding herself, and leaves a lot less mess now. A week or so after she turned 10 months old, she started drinking out of her sippy cup by herself, and feels very clever about it.

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She loves sand so much. She eats it whenever she gets the chance, and just loves to play in it. She plays happily by herself for a surprisingly long time when she’s in sand. She likes water too, but far prefers sand. She loves to be outside, whatever she’s doing. She gets bored sitting at home, she wants to get out and explore. Nothing is more exciting than having a big adventure outside.

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Madelyn is such an awesome baby. We love her so much, and she brings so much joy to our lives. She’s so happy and funny and cute.

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.