Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Semi-retirement

Announcing the semi-retirement of The Life and Times of Jess.

The Blog that is, not my ACTUAL life and times!

The time has come the walrus said...no, sorry, channeling Lewis Carrol there for a minute.

The time has come to place this blog into semi-retirement and concentrate on other things. I had a bash at the novel I have been writing for - oh - almost two years now (I would estimate that I am half a chapter in at the moment so it's going well) and realised how much I LOVE it. Writing actual real writing stuff. There are also about a billion other things on my "Oooohh, yeah, I really want to do some of that stuff" list and it ain't getting any shorter.

Blogging will now be almost totally restricted to http://whwhhow.blogspot.com/ and concerned pretty much totally with our homeschooling journey and will have a maximum of about 3 posts a week. While there may be the odd post on here (to announce new babies arriving and a cute clip or something I find) if you really really want to know what is going on in my life you will need to hook up with face book or, you know, actually e-mail me TasJess(at)gmail(dot)com (I'd suggest ringing me and talking to me, but I don't think I have actually met some of you so that would be, well, weird - and a little stalker like). Those of you who I have developed bloggy friendships with will still see me in your comments on a regular basis!

So, as this Blog heads into semi-retirement, goodbye and thanks for all the fish!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Presents and loved ones

In this yuletide season I have been contemplating presents and giving and reminiscing about Christmases past. Presents was a point of contention when Beloved and I first got together. You see, he is of the kind who refuses all hints or clues as to what a person may want, looks for hours to find the perfect gift then gives it with a quiet humility that belies the work he put into choosing it. I am of the type that takes a gift, appreciates the idea and then exchanges said gift for something I actually wanted or regifts it to someone else so it doesn't clutter up the house with yet more stuff.

You can see our problem.

Gifts I have gotten for Beloved over the years have been many and varied from touching, sentimental, well thought out gifts to "whoops, I forgot, did we really get married on the 23rd?" and honestly I haven't loved him any less on the "whoops, I forgot" occasions! He has kept everything. Even the little note books I wrote for him in our courting days full of reasons I think he is special and the dozen or so Johnny Cash CD's (with a few doubles in there) because, well, he likes Johnny Cash and it was quick and easy to grab a few CDs. I get chastised if I try and throw any of it out.

I never have really got the fuss over gifts personally. I don't think I am that hard to buy for and honestly am not phased at all if I get nothing but a cuddle and a kiss and a "Merry Christmas!". If I do get a gift I prefer it to (a) not clutter up the house or need storage of any kind (b) be something I actually NEED or (c) be cash or a gift voucher so I can get what I actually want. One of my favorite gifts to receive is mulch - because it breaks down and doesn't clutter the house and doesn't require anything other than being spread on the garden! I don't expect people to read my mind, just don't expect me to hang on to something I neither need nor want. I can appreciate the thought while someone else appreciates the gift. I am told there is such a thing as being TOO pragmatic about such things.

I forget to water plants he buys me even though I love gardening, I drop, break and loose things on a regular basis (in general, not just his gifts, it's just what I do) and I forget that he gave me something and donate it to charity on occasion too. I remember one year when we were still newly weds he gave me a HUGE, very difficult cross stitch reasoning that I had been doing cross stitch a lot lately so a cross stitch would be a good gift. I asked him if he would mind if I used the bits to make something that was a little less ugly than the picture on the front of the kit. Tact, it seems,is what he should have got me for Christmas.

We have come far since those newly wed days though.

I now try and be a little more thoughtful, a little more tactful and a little more appreciative. He now understands that "STUFF" isn't my thing and if I don't seem enthusiastic, it isn't because I am not enthusiastic about HIM! I now TRY and remember things like birthdays and anniversaries (I did forget this year though) and he now listens when I say "Hey, I need some place mats for the table I can wipe down, if you want an idea for Christmas there's one!". I try not to throw out or donate gifts and he doesn't get quite so upset if I do have a foggy moment and accidentally do.

Because the thing is, the real gift we give each other is smooth edges.

Like river stones rubbing against each other as they turn over in the water.

Over the years we have become better versions of our selves as the Holy Spirit rubbed us against each other.

Which is what relationships, all relationships, are all about.

So when you feel like throttling a friend or relation this Christmas Season, stop and think. This moment could be your true present from them. An opportunity to become a better person. They could be being your river stone.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Babies on the brain?

Who me?



I so want to see this doco!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Maternity shirts that I kind of wish I would wear

...but never ever will because I object to people reading my chest.


Stand Back!
I have my own gravity field.


Due for Delivery June 2010


Full Hands - Fuller Heart
(there's not much room in the womb either)


I grow people inside me
what's your superpower?


Gestating and lactating since 2003


No, I'm not having quads
thanks for asking.


We have two girls and two boys
This one's the tie breaker


Possible Middle Child Inside



And my personal favourite


BLESSED

ANNOUNCING!

Lilypie Pregnancy tickers


Baby number 5 will be making a debut public appearance sometime next June!

We are all, of course, thrilled!

The current order from the older two is a boy or boy/girl twins.

The current order from my friend Dani who just had triplets is twins OR triplets. With twins I will have six under six just like her, with triplets we can share triplet Mummy tips!

The current order from Beloved is one at a time or at least not triplets or we will fill up the new car too fast!

The current order from the Mama person is another quiet one this time around would be lovely seeing as Anna is now in the running for the Loudest Baby Ever (Billy still wins, just!).

But for real? We are so looking forward to meeting this new little person and getting to know him or her just the way he or she is!

We are blessed beyond belief

A moving speech

I promise I will get back to stories about the kids and keeping house soon! In the mean time, watch this please!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I try not to go all political on this Blog, I really do. Believe me, if I let loose it'd be nasty! But this deal with the proposed amendments to the midwifery legislation is very close to my heart! Here is my submission to a senate inquiry on the matter. I hope you will find it thought provoking. If you wish to add your own submission, check out how on the Save Home Birth Blog

To Whom it May Concern,

I wanted to tell you about my experiences with both public maternity care and care from an independent midwife.

During my first pregnancy my medical care was through the Queen Victoria
Maternity Unit, Launceston as a public patient. I often sat for two hours or more waiting for appointments with team midwives at the QVMU (Queen Victoria Maternity Unit) and I doubt I saw any one of them more than twice. Most of the visit was spent with them reading my notes before doing a brief check and sending me on my way. One of the few times there was an “issue” some papers were sent to the obstetrician who then called me and let me know a prescription was waiting for me at the pharmacy. I was not informed what the prescription was for, nor was there any discussion about what my current condition was.

My baby was delivered by a midwife who was lovely but who I had never met before that day and her secondary midwife was a woman who I had a bit of a personality clash with. The birth was a ‘good’ birth but quite a few times my wishes were ignored because I had not been able to discuss them fully with the midwives before the birth. I also had some ongoing issues with nerve damage because of an action taken by one midwife after I asked her to stop. Something that took months to recover from and that could have been easily avoided if she had listened to me or had the time/inclination to read through my birth plan.
After the birth, I was shuffled out of the birthing suite within 20 minutes because of there were more and more women arriving and they needed the room.

After the birth, I was roomed with a woman who would often walk out for hours on end leaving her baby unattended and would play audio tapes of herself swearing in labour to entertain visitors who came at rest time. I went home with my three day old baby with little or no rest because of my rooming conditions and no ongoing help from medical staff. When I called to ask what I should do about persistent issues (caused by the nerve damage) I was told that there was nothing I could do and given no support.

I say this NOT to belittle the staff at the QVMU, many of whom work very hard and go above and beyond the call of duty. They are obviously overloaded and working within a culture that does not encourage individual tailoring of care. I describe my first experience to show the contrast between my care at the hands of the public system and my care at the hands of my private midwife.

For my three subsequent pregnancies and the current one, I have been cared for by an Independent Midwife. When being cared for by my Independent Midwife I rarely wait more than five minutes. Review of notes takes only a couple of minutes and the rest of my visit is spent thoroughly checking everything out and discussing how bub and I are going – with my other children and husband often involved in the process if it is appropriate. The smallest of issues are noted and carefully watched. When there was a small issue with iron levels during my last pregnancy, I discussed it thoroughly with my midwife, went into the QVMU (with a detailed copy of all of my notes from all of my pregnancies) to see the obstetrician on duty who discussed my condition with me and ordered some blood tests. I was called when they were in by the obstetrician who explained the results and said he was perfectly happy for me to go ahead at the birth centre. I then got a call from my midwife who checked that I was happy with what was happening.
I was completely satisfied with the way my midwife was able to collaborate with hospital staff to deliver the best possible care for me and my baby. Many of the staff at the hospital were privately supportive of my choice to employ an Independent Midwife and seemed quite happy for some of their very heavy workload to be alleviated. I was pleased that we could make use of the expertise of the staff available at the hospital without the added cost of having to go through a private obstetrician. My Midwife had the freedom to refer me as she needed to and collaborate with available medical staff without being restricted in her ability to care for me and my baby.

All my babies at the birth centre have been delivered by highly trained and experienced midwives who I have chosen and are philosophically aligned with in terms of birth practice. All three births have been fantastic and my after care went on for two weeks in my own home. The midwives were “on call” for me 24 hours a day and they make a point of keeping themselves up to date training as lactation consultants. Their expertise and availability has assisted me in establishing breastfeeding and having wonderful recovery periods after the births of my children. This level of care is rare even in private hospital situations and is unheard of for someone who lives a 45 minute+ drive from the nearest city as I do.

All this was at my own expense, and I’m happy to pay if I need to. Although I would love to see this level of care made more accessible to alleviate the load on the public system in Launceston. I personally believe that if more women employed Independent Midwives, the hospital staff could give greater time and attention to the care of women who have high risk pregnancies. I also believe that continuity of care, as provided by an Independent Midwife, could prevent many issues in pregnancy, birth and post-natal periods.
I believe that the proposed amendments will greatly diminish the standards of care I experience in any further pregnancies. I believe that the proposed amendments will remove my option, as a rurally located mother, of having experienced and professional staff attending my needs during the postnatal period. I believe the proposed amendments will jeopardise the continuity of care I experience before, during and after birth. I believe that the proposed amendments will subject my care to the scrutiny of bodies who are wholly unsupportive of independent midwifery and who are not committed to a higher standard of care for women outside the hospital setting or support of midwives. I believe that the proposed amendments will remove MY right to choose who my health care provider is and place that choice in the hands of professionals who are openly opposed to independent midwifery, independent birth centres and home birth. I believe that this restriction of my choice will take place with no proof that such a restriction will benefit either myself or my baby. In fact I believe the proposed amendments will not only violate my rights, but will jepordise the health and welfare of myself and my future babies.

This is my story and my thoughts, I hope they help you to make an informed decision on your own stance on this issue.

I thank you for your time,

Jessica Guest
Soon to be mother of 5 and voter

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm taking another week

Yes, slack blogger here.

I feel like I am missing so much at home so I am taking a week off blogging to focus and drink it all in! It's a case of too much to say, too much to write, too much to do - choosing to spend time with the kids anyway!

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A love poem

I've been reading a few Shakesperian sonnets lately and that man new how to write REAL love! I'm not talking Romeo and Julliet (which was more about gang warfare than love in my opinion!) but the sonnets - ah the sonnets! Here is my take on sonnet 141

Oh, and if you have delicate sensibilities and are offended by toilet humor,
skip it.

You Fart In Bed

You fart in bed

Then pull the covers over my head

You leave your socks on the bedroom floor
You NEVER close the bathroom door
You're late for tea and never call
You leave your work boots in the hall
You never get up and settle the baby
When I ask you to go out you shrug and say "maybe"
I ALWAYS put the kids to bed
do the dishes and get us all fed
You frustrate me beyond all reason
especially during the football season

And yet...

There's something.

Something I cannot, dare not, name.

Something that makes me not quite the same

Something that makes me lighter and freer
when watching you kick back with a beer
Eve's curse? Perhaps. Downtrodden? Maybe.
but with you I am a better me
There's something about you I cannot define
But whatever it is, I'm glad it is mine.
And when I am in your arms, in our room
When the house is quiet as the Taj Mahal tomb
When you whisper words of intimacy
And every woman wishes she were me

Then you fart and pull the covers over my head.

Even then, I am glad it is you in my bed.

Just so you know, my husband has NEVER done this to me (I threatened before we were married to bite him if he did). Also he never watches football, often settles the baby and is more than willing to take me out! It is FICTION. But I am sure many married women can relate

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stellan

The very observant among you will notice that I have removed the "Praying for Stellan" button from the side of my Blog. This is because his operation has been a rip roaring success! He has less than a 1% chance of ever developing SVT again! While his family remain in our prayer box, I am removing his button for now.

Mercy is also doing brilliantly and responding to her new meds better than anyone hoped. There is some talk of surgery in her future too so I am leaving her button there to remind me and encourage you to keep her in your prayers.

In other prayer request updates, the Lockwood family continue to need your prayers as the minister in Mexico. So far in the last year or so they have faced a liver issue that was suspected to be fatal cancer in Daddy Lockwood, complicated pregnancy, pre-term c-section delivery, car accidents, kidney infections, HURRICANES!! Flu with 12 kids sounds scary enough and they have faced that too. They are on a bit more of an even keel at the moment, however persistent skin infections in two of the kids are in need of prayer and wisdom.

As I bragged earlier, I have met The Triplets! Last I heard the plan was to take them home today. Please keep them, their parents and their sisters in your prayers. Please especially pray for Dani as she tries to keep her milk supply up to feed three hungry mouths!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm almost famous!

I'm friends with front page news! Our local paper did a front page story about the triplets who I had the privilege to meet yesterday.


Just thought I'd brag!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you ever have one of those times....

...where you just want to yell "unfair to snails!"




That probably won't mean anything to those of you who DIDN'T grow up watching Mr Squiggle on ABC, but those who did should understand instantly.

Gus was a puppet snail who had a rather over inflated sense of self and a persecution complex. Any time anything didn't go his way he would wail "Unfair to snails!!"

I kinda feel like that at the moment.

For starters:

It has been unseasonably hot. I don't like heat, it makes me cranky at the best of times.

Our water bill has gone up 300% due entirely to a state government let's-mess-around-with-people's-lives spree which also hiked up our power bill significantly. Cranky.

Our new (to us) Suburban dumped it's oil on the highway the other day because a little clip fell off a little hose. Fortunately no long term damage, but our most expensive purchase EVER aside from our house which we saved and scrimped and sacrificed for and bought without a loan or anything is now a very expensive paperweight in the driveway until we get a new little clip thingy. CRANKY!

Then:

There is the little matter of birth choices and human rights being stripped away from women by our current administration which I will just leave there because if I get going there is a whole BLOG in that one. VERY, VERY, CRANKY!

In fact, I think I should just stay away from the news until we have finished the next elections. Unless of course they get voted in again, if that happens I may have to immigrate. Our current government does not do much for the cranky factor at all.

All in all, I am finding it difficult not to stomp about seething at the unfairness of it all. I mean, why ME?

Of course, I KNOW it isn't all just to persecute me (well, most of it isn't just to persecute me, I have a feeling the current government is...)and I KNOW that for every slight I have a million blessings to count, but if anyone were to remind me of this right at this moment, I would pull their bottom lip over their head and cheerfully instruct them to swallow. I'm Cranky.

SO

I can pretend not to be cranky. Paste on a smile and a falsely cheerful voice and talk a lot about my blessings.

OR

I can be cranky. Seethe with anger. Snap surly comments at random people and my family. Have no patience or kindness because the crankyness eats patience and kindness for breakfast. I can reason that this is me and well, I have to be honest and I have to be me because that is me and, well, there's a Disney movie somewhere that told me I should be me I'm sure. And my loved ones? They just have to put up with it and love me and not require anything from me that I am not willing to give 'cause I'm a PERSON and I have RIGHTS. I think there's a chick flick that I can use to back that one up somewhere? Philosophy and human rights celluloid style!

OR PERHAPS

I can take this to His feet. Tell Him how ticked off I am. Use all sorts of useful descriptive language that my children will NEVER hear me use while I am telling Him if I need to. Because it is real. The crankiness. However unjustified and self involved, it's real. And I need to get real with Jesus so He can take me and make me whole. I can tell him honestly I DON'T want to be this way. Righteous anger I can burn with, but the crankiness is not befitting of one of my status. A mother, a wife, a princess. Daughter of the King. I need to put it at His feet, and when I discover it dogging my steps like an unloved stray I need to take it back and give it to Him all over again.

And then I can be a princess rather than a snail with a TV for a shell with a flower pot on top.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Update

Gardening merrily still!

Erin:
bought herself a magic wand yesterday. She had some birthday money still saved up and saw it in the supermarket and fell in love with it. In spite of my dislike of all things plastic and garish, I consented. Only to discover the thing makes NOISE! If you have read this blog at all you will realise just what I think of noisy toys. It has no off switch and every time it is moved it gives a rapid seven note ascending chime - arugh!! She LOVES it. And I love her. So I am putting up with it. It got a lot quieter yesterday when she was waving it over the dishes to "magic" them clean and dropped it in! She has been using it to do all sorts of household chores - cloth in her other hand so she can do it by "slight of hand" while waving the wand!

Billy:
is attached to my hip or in the next room for a week after deciding to "water" various things with the hose last week THAT SHOULD NOT BE WATERED. THREE TIMES. He is in need of a bit of time and attention at the moment I think, having spent too much time heading out to play without direct supervision. He is a charming lad with a great work ethic and a sensitive soul - that sometimes causes one to forget that he is three and he does stuff!

Christopher:
is stringing together lots of sentences at the moment. One of those "language explosions" so common around his age. It makes him even more interactive! He has developed a desire to take a car to bed with him every night. It doesn't matter which car, just a car with wheels! He also discovered a toy car in the Operation Christmas Child boxes we are making up and it took some quick talking to get him to understand that it wasn't his!

Anna:
is getting about very quickly now. She loves gardening and has consumed most of the legendary "ton of dirt" that each child is meant to eat before the age of five! The grot monster. A strong little personality already it is amazing to see her develop. The other day she was jumping around excitedly in my arms giggling then put her mouth to my shoulder like she was going to bite. I said to her "No, don't bite Mum." She looked at me side ways and then grinned. A minute or two later she went to do the same thing and I said the same thing. She looked at me and stuck out her bottom lip and gave a whimper before going back to playing. A minute or two later she actually started to bite my shoulder and I said "No don't bite Mummy!" and tapped her nose with my finger. She crumbled and burst into tears! Don't let anyone tell you that a ten month old can't understand what's going on!

The house:
is still managing to do OK as we are rarely inside to make mess. We spent a bit TOO much time outside last week, but it's all good now.

The garden:
Among a million other things going on, my peonys are flowering the same year I transplanted them! A miracle!

Jess






Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Monday, November 09, 2009

Danielle and the Triplets...

will meet face to face today! Please pray for her, the medical staff, the babies and her family.


Edited to add: As I have been haunting my computer for news of Danni and the babies I found out that Stellan, a little boy in the states who we have been praying for as a family, is going in to have heart surgery very soon. This is very dangerous and he and his family need all the prayers they can get. So go and check out his Mum's blog My Charming Kids and whisper a prayer for Stellan.

Edited AGAIN to add: Details! Triplet 1 born at 2.26pm - Holly Georgina, 5lb 9ozs. Triplet 2 born at 2.27pm - Daisy Grace, 4lb 15 ozs. Triplet 3 born at 2.30pm - Lily Cheyenne, 5lbs 10ozs. Daisy and Lily are twins. All 3 doing well. Please continue to hold up this family in prayer as they adjust to life with triplets!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I can't sleep

Well, that's not true. I daresay if I lay down and closed my eyes I'd drift off eventually. But Beloved isn't home. He's been away since Thursday night and it is now Sunday night - wait, Monday morning. There are a million things to do (aren't there always?) and bed does not look quite so inviting when it is just me in it. Each night that he's been gone I have stayed up SO late doing STUFF. Important STUFF. And I am beginning to realise how much I rely on him to stop me in the evenings. How much I rely on him to be taking care of it all, to lock the doors and turn out the lights. To invite me to sit with him for a bit and wind down. To wake me gently and guide me to bed where he folds me in his arms and lets me rest - warming me through and through. How much I rely on him to remind me to recharge my batteries so I have reserves for tomorrow.

I miss you honey, see you in the morning!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Can someone please explain....

why we have abortion laws in this country that cause a child in one part of a hospital to be kept alive with every medical technology and medical expert available bent on giving the child a life and a future and another child, in another part of the same hospital, at the same gestational age, killed as "foetal matter" because two doctors agreed that it was best for the mother's mental health?

Can you explain to me why a mother of a prematurely born child who removed life support systems and smothered the child would be tried as a murderer yet if she had sought to abort the child while it was still in utero, she would be protected as a "victim" and even applauded by some members of society?

Can you explain why in two years if I choose to have my healthy baby, product of a healthy, normal pregnancy, outside a hospital setting, attended by my highly trained, highly experienced midwife with an impeccable record and a commitment to ongoing training and education and an EXCELLENT record in postpartum care, I will be breaking the law and labeled a radical who puts my baby at risk?

HOWEVER if I choose to have my baby attended by poorly trained, overworked staff (who have little ongoing education requirements) at a public hospital, a place where life threatening mistakes are OFTEN made due to clerical error, exhaustion of staff, mis-communications during shift changes and sheer carelessness, a place where unnecessary interventions (some of which are routine)make postpartum complications and even postpartum infection and/or DEATH for both mother and baby more likely and where BASIC ongoing postpartum care of mother and baby, support of breast feeding etc. is WELL below the standards of the World Health Organisation (according to our own statistics which are on public record) and the rights, wishes and preferences of parents are often ignored and/or belittled for the convenience of staff members - I will be making the "responsible choice"?

Can someone please explain to me why NONE of the data from developed countries where home births are common place (for example, the Netherlands) is "relevant" however examples of infant mortality in third world countries where medical care and decent nutrition is unavailable are FINE to use to "proove" just how "irresponsible" I am?

And can someone PLEASE explain to me WHY I find myself politically aligned with rabid feminists who helped push through the current abortion laws in Victoria and who are working to legalise chemical abortion in Queensland, in order to defend my right to make a healthy, informed, responsible choice for the birth of my child and maintain access to some of the best trained birth attendants in the country?

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?

No, this hasn't turned into a political blog. I am just mad as heck right now and needed to vent!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Update

Erin:
opted out of going to after school activities this week. She has been enjoying an after school program at the school across the road for a while now. They play games and do exercises and it gives her a chance to catch up with friends in the community. We started sending her partially because she wasn't seeing any of her little friends now that they all started school (apparently going to school tuckers five year olds out and they don't have energy for a social life - this is me staying off my soap box about homeschooling and "socialisation") and also I like the idea of her having structured, supervised activities with other kids as she gets older - although I haddn't planned to start her on any this year. She was also feeling quite deprived watching everyone go to school WITHOUT HER (the local school is accross the road) and while I stand by our decision to homeschool 100% I did NOT want her to feel that she was completely isolated from kids her own age. So off she has been toddling every week for the last couple of months, with breaks for school holidays and family holidays. When she's been asked if she goes to school yet, she answers "Yes, I go once a week to Active After School!" and has shown every indication that she has been thriving on it. This week however Erin has opted to stay home instead. Why? She is worried that we will do something fun at home without her!!! She cracks me up. It seems we are just as fun as school, if not a little more so!

Billy:
has been having a series of lapses in judgement for the last, oh, fortnight! Really silly decisions like deciding to tear up the flyscreen in his room to throw out toys (toys were confiscated amid other consequences, including his beloved Red Bear for 24 hours). This is just an example among SEVERAL bad decisions the poor lad has made lately. On Sunday he went with his Dad for the day to drive in and get mushroom compost for the garden and spent the day working with him. I won't say that solved the issue, but it has made a difference. Where Christopher will stomp and yell aggressively, Billy will burst into tears and sook to get his own way, the challenge is to recognise it for what it is and react accordingly. He has spent a fair bit of time climbing a shrub in the backyard and I am sure he is part gibbon the way he can swing around in that thing! He is a marvel to watch.

Christopher:
really IS old enough to start toilet training and move into a big boy bed. I keep making excuses to put it off, but it is getting silly. As soon as the back door is usable again for fast access from the back yard we are starting with the toilet training (I HATE toilet training, any good tips are most welcome). As for the bed, we are just waiting for a guard and ladder on the top bunk then he can move out, Anna can get the cot and the portacot can be folded away!

Anna:
The crawling, five toothed wonder kept me up most of last night and I have NO IDEA why. My usually happy baby who sleeps through the night was neither last night. No fever, no possability that she has swallowed anything she shouldn't have (as far as I know!). My only guess is another tooth to even things up to six! Yesterday she was raced up and down the footpath in her pram by Billy as I painstakingly dug out our front weed patch - oops, GARDEN - and she loved it. Another one with a need for speed I think!

Our house:
was doing so well until last night when I decided to leave the dishes a bit late, then went to bed instead! Beloved is on the mainland buying us another car at the moment (more seats, more comfort - the need for both became evident when we were on the mainland on holiday!) and will be away until early Monday morning - when he will get home and get ready for work! I am finishing off some gardening he started at the beginning of the week because there are some punnets that need planting so the house clean up will likely keep me out of trouble while the kids are in bed tonight. I also neglected laundry for a day or two last week, but at least it will all dry outside on the line at the moment! Spring Rocks!

The Garden:
The raised vegetable bed has carrots, radishes, beetroot, beans and parsnip planted from seed in it. We have also dug holes in the ground around the raised bed to plant tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini and some other stuff too. Some iris has surprised us with BEAUTIFUL mass displays as well as some exquisite bearded iris. Iris are my favourite flowers so I am thrilled, amazing what pops up in a neglected garden! We have pinks, carnations, granny's bonnets, johnny-jump-ups, peony and half a dozen other bits and pieces popping up. Out the front has largely been neglected over winter but over the last couple of weeks I have dug out an area about 2x3meters which was waist high weeds and a few stumps (Beloved got in there with a bit of pick action with some of it with me). As I sit here I am covered in smudges of dirt and I was only driven inside by the fact that the children and I need to rest or one of us will pass out - no bets on who! I am racking my brains to come up with something quick and easy to feed everyone for tea so I don't have to come in until 5pm but most of it I have already fed them in the last week so we will see what happens. Sausages in bread with sauce is a balanced meal - right? If you have one in each hand that is!

Jess





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Friday, October 30, 2009

High Expectations or Great Expectations?

I have all these expectations of myself.

I want to be the super Mum, the brilliant cook, the sexy wife, the inspiring educator, the awesome writer, the fantastic gardener. I don't want to be an adequate mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, homemaker, writer etc. I want to be INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, AWE INSPIRING.

Surely this is not too much to ask?

So I start the day with my high expectations. TODAY I will get the house spotless, I will impart great wisdom and knowledge, I will cook yummy meals, I will discipline and get my kids to behave, I WILL.

Except I don't.

I don't meet these high expectations of myself.

There are those who will say that I am expecting too much. That it is more than one woman can ever do. That I need to reduce my expectations, relax, have a little "me" time and make my husband take up some of the slack.

There is something about that advice that sits wrong with me, like a curry reheated one too many times.

Surely I can be brilliant, fantastic, awesome, AMAZING?!

I feel like I kinda am deep down inside. After all, deep down inside I am a princess, daughter of a Royal Heritage that goes back to Eden and Beyond. I am the recipient of The Gift. If I lack the potential to be something awe inspiring, if I do not have the potential to have the Glory of God Himself flow through my fingertips, why on earth was the sacrifice made for me? God loves me and He wants to make me something Amazing. No, not make something Amazing FOR me. He wants to make ME something AMAZING.

So kicking back, passing the buck and settling for mediocre?

It doesn't sit right.

So I am trading up.

I am swapping my High Expectations for GREAT Expectations.

I expect that today I will:

Worship. With my family and on my own. From my heart here in my home I will sing Glory, Glory, Glory to the Lord God Almighty Who Is and Was and Is To Come. And my voice will meld with that of the Angels in the Throne Room.

Love. With my whole heart, with no safety net, free fall style I will love those who God has put in my way to love. This is my Heritage because I am a daughter of one Who Is Love.

Serve. I will wrap the towel around my waist as Christ did at the Last Supper. I will make a home for my husband that is as comfortable and relaxing as I can possibly make it today. I will feed my children the best food I can put together to help their bodies grow strong and I will discipline them to make their hearts grow strong. I will do the dirty work of home maker with the heart of a servant, with a view to becoming more like THE Servant.

Rejoice. I will rejoice in the Lord Always and again, I will REJOICE. I will find joy in each day and will Bless the Lord because of it. I will laugh. I will sing. I will smile. I will rejoice.

And somehow, all this looks so much more achievable.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

being my own girlfriend.

At the risk of sounding a little pathetic, I am not terrably GOOD at making friends. I am not a people person, my small talk limit is about 15 minutes before I start looking for the nearest sharp implement with which to stab my own hand and a few friendship *disasters* in the last decade or so has left me a little gun shy when it comes to close girlfriends.

Add to that the fact that I am a part of a small group of people who have masses of children, very close together, support home birth, homeschool my kids, live in the mountains, renovate, talk about Jesus like He is an actual real PERSON (freaks out some church goers for some reason) don't have my license (at least in part so I have a good excuse NOT to have coffee with 'the girls') - not to mention my other habits, customs and beliefs that kinda freak people out.

Don't get me wrong, I DO have friends. I have a friend who has stuck it out with me for over ten years now - she lives in NSW and although we haven't seeen each other for about eight years we natter often on the phone. Another friend who is in Melbourne who is my "ring when one of the children has a brush with death and I'm a total mess" friend. A dairy farmer, also a resident of Victoria, is my "tell me bluntly when I have it wrong and need to make some changes" friend and his friendship I probably value most of all. And there are many acquantainces who I will stop and chat with and family and like minded people.


But recently, I have been thinking. What I would love to have is a girlfriend who lived near me, or at least in the same state, whose children were just a touch older than mine. Someone who I could ring and pick her brain about where to go next or how to handle a certain situation. Someone who WOULDN'T tell me not to have such "high expectations" ('cause expecting to get dressed before midday is TOTALLY unreasonable!) or to cut myself some slack. A friend who had faith in me that I could do this wife/Mum thing and do it spactacularly. A friend with some practical knowledge to help me out. A friend who encouraged and exhorted me, cheering me on to bigger and better things. A friend who prays with and for me. A friend who encourages me to be the best I can be in all things to HIS glory. A friend who is humble enough to let me be their friend too. A friend who can be a "Belly Buddy" sharing the amazing journey of pregnancy and birth together. A friend who I can confess our latest toilet training disaster to and she'll have one to share with me too.

But there is the whole "social ineptitude" problem and the fact that I am the only pre-menopausal woman at my church. I'm not ruling out miracles here, but honestly the odds don't look to great in reguard to me getting what I want here!

So I am going to try being my own girlfriend for a while. I am going to sit and have a cuppa with myself and pick my own brain. Take a moment to dust off all those ideas and inspirations I have tucked away in there from various blogs and books and advise myself just as I would a girlfriend. I will pray with and for myself. I will research things to help myself out. And one day, if I come accross a brave woman who is willing to stick it out through the rather abrasive and crazy exteriour of me and make it to the creamy centre of fantastic-ness that is me, I will know how to be a good friend to her. Because I will have practiced on myself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anna discovers raspberries

The wet, loud kind.

At this age, it's adorable.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The imaginary life of Erin....

Enter if you dare.


This afternoon Erin was overheard muttering:

OK then. Tomorrow is my wedding day. Yesterday I got the flowers and I slept at the hotel. Today I am organising the food. I need a husband. Where will I get a husband? I know, I'll marry the cat. Come here cat, YOU are going to be my husband.


I don't know about the cat, but I'm scared!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where have I gone?

There is sunshine. The first two weeks of sunshine I have seen in, oh, three months at least! Until I get a lap top to take out there with me, I will be a bit scarce on here I'm afraid!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

update

we are home and have hit the ground running.

Erin:
has been adjusting to not having the constant social stimulation that she did while we were away. Learning to treat brothers as well as she treated the friends we visited has been - challenging! But she is rising to the challenge beautifully. We got her newest set of readers today which is very exctiting.

Billy:
has grown another foot taller I'm sure in the time we've been away. He is still recovering from the trip and the last two nights in a row he has fallen asleep on a bed before tea (granted, tea was a little late!). Climbing the trees in the backyard is the new daily challenge and he does get very high, only occassionally getting stuck or falling out!

Christopher:
is pretty much ready for a big boy bed but I am putting off the transition until we get the boy's room finished because if I moved him now I would have to stop using the top bunk for storing all the kid's clothes. Christopher's language is just taking off with whole sentences now. He has just started saying "no THANKYOU" instead of just "no" which is much better!

Anna:
is crawling and has 3.3 teeth! She is still my tiny dot but is a true pocket rocket not stopping for much. We found during our holiday she isn't that much of a people person preferring to smile from a distance rather than be passed around. I can't say I blame her myself! I've also decided that we need a little valve so that we have the option of lactating through our fingertips during long car rides. Bubba getting hungry and grumpy 20 minutes from the end of a 5 hour car ride on the toll way isn't that fun for anyone!

The house:
looks pretty good. I've decided that going away for a fortnight means that nobody messes up the house so it is a good move for housekeeping! I have also come back with a refreshed outlook and sense of perspective. I have decided that beating myself up for not doing EVERYTHING means that I am too bruised to do anything the next day! I read an entry on one of my all time favourite blogs (Se7en, pop over and take a look! It's worth it) while I was away. While she was specifically talking about life with a newborn, I found that much of it applied to me - particularly KEEPING ON TRACK. I have come home with a renewed focus on doing three things WELL rather than trying to do thirty things and failing at all of them. Something I used to know but forgot! Fine weather to dry the washing doesn't hurt either!

The Garden:
is in full spring mode with massive digging, cutting, mulching, chopping, preparing of beds. I am LOVING 5 days of NO RAIN. I think this is the longest we have gone without rain for months.

Jess


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Erin's Wedding Plans

Erin: Mummy, what kind of dress will I have when I grow up and get a husband?

Me: Any dress you want honey. It will probably be a good idea to have sleeves or straps so that you aren't spending all day pulling it up like Aunty Jen had to! But whatever dress you want I will get you as long as it isn't too expensive.

Erin: Well, I think I want a dress worth SIX DOLLARS. Mummy, what kind of dress costs six dollars?

Oh I SO have to remember this for when she is planning her wedding

Sunday, October 11, 2009

still hollidaying

Our dear friends who I count as my honorary brother got married yesterday and Beloved looked VERY handsome and best manly as he stood up there beside Andrew. Beloved also gave a wonderful speech. In spite of my intense dislike of all things "foofy" and the fact that making small talk generally causes me intense discomfort and irritation (weddings are not my thing!) I LOVED seeing my honorary brother get hitched to a perfectly wonderful girl.

Andrew has been my friend for more years than either of us actually admit and he is one of my all time favourite people. Second only to my hubby and kids and to be mentioned in the same breath as them makes him pretty special. He is also a dairy farmer and has promised Billy an apprenticeship when Billy turns 15!

I had the opportunity to read a poem at the reception:

You're married, you're hitched! Hip hip horray!
It's about time is all that I'll say.
Take her home, change the ear-tag, get 'er in calf
bring her home to Tassie and we'll all have a laugh.


In my defense, I did make that up in about two minutes!

We are all rather exhausted today after the hectic lead up to the wedding etc. so we are putting our feet up for a bit. We head home at the end of the week!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Guess what we did last night?

we went on a great big BOAT!

Yes, we are officially on holidays. After adventures like eating dinner and sleeping all night on the Spirit of Tasmania 1 we arrived in Melbourne bright and early this morning. We saw FIVE hot air balloons floating over the city and it was all quite peaceful - until everyone else woke up and the two carsick prone kids suffered the inevitable side effect of stop-start city driving! Overall, it has been wonderful so far with the kids behaving beautifully on the boat, even with all of us squished into a four berth cabin (Billy and Erin top-n-tailed and Anna went in the tiny port-a-cot they provide). We are staying with friends today and I am taking advantage of their computer and kitchen (they have a PANTRY, a GAS STOVE and CUPBOARD DOORS!!).

Tomorrow we are off to the ZOO!!

Mythbuster Monday

It's been a while for the ol' mythbuster monday, but I thought I would tackle another one just for fun.

Myth: When people say "You can't possibly school a child when you have so many little ones underfoot." they are talking about me.

Somehow, people thought it would be FINE for me to school 28 of someone ELSES children but four of mine at once? Forget it!

It often comes in gentler phrasing: "I don't understand how you can keep up with the housework, take care of your babies AND find time to school Erin!" etc. but essentially they are voicing doubt at my ability to school while mothering.

Yes, lots of little ones is hard work, keeping house is hard work and schooling Erin could be seen as JUST more work, but when did "work" become evil? What would their attitude be if I put my little ones in child care, dropped Erin of at before-school care and then went to work teaching a class full of other people's children, dealt with the staff issues, parent-teacher concerns, extra curricular activities etc. then picked up my own kids from care and went home? Few would even mention how hard I worked. Why is working at home, doing what I choose so different?

There is a tendency I notice among people to believe every gripe that comes out of my mouth but to pass off any profession of happiness or joy as me "putting on a brave face". The opposite is true. It is much safer to minimise my gripes, because it is quite likely that I am tired, hormonal or just had a bit of a bad day. Talking about the good stuff ALWAYS comes right from my soul.

What I do is hard work, but there is a difference between hard work and hard labour.

I am always tempted to point out that Erin reads better than most seven year olds, is ahead in maths, science, geography and pretty much every other subject. On my REALLY cranky days I am tempted to suggest that if their five year old can count by twos in Spanish, they can feel free to criticise the educational opportunities I am giving my children.

BUT, this is not the point, and besides, I doubt all my children will be academically gifted.

And now we come to the myth behind the myth.

The reasons we chose to homeschool are many and varied, but 98% of people who ask about/comment on our choice ARE NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN OUR REASONS OR OUR SUCCESS OR FAILURE.

Most people are interested in JUSTIFYING their choice NOT to homeschool.

Whatever anyone says, they will be determined to provide reasons why it simply couldn't work for them - and sometimes reasons why it simply shouldn't work for me.

Truth is, in all the reasons we chose to homeschool, "in order to make other people feel guilty about their choices" wasn't one of them.

So now I don't get defensive, I just laugh and say "Oh finding time to teach is EASY, time for housework, that's a challenge!"

Because I have busted the myth and I know that when people say things like that, they are talking about themselves.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Conversations with Billy

Billy: Has Jesus put another baby in your Tummy yet Mummy?

Me: Not yet honey. Would you like Him to?

Billy nods with a huge grin and wide eyes.

Me: Well, you'll have to ask Him then.

Billy: Yes! I will do that. I will ask for another boy. Or a girl. Or a girl and a boy.

Me: Well I think Jesus will give us whatever is best for us to have.

Billy: Like when He gave us Anna?

Me: Yes honey.


*sigh* he just melts my heart.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Am I the only one with an inner toddler?

Every time I try and get myself to get it together and get some things done, my inner toddler throws a full blown hissy fit and screams "NNNOOOOOO! I don't wanna!"

How is it that self discipline is actually HARDER than disciplining my kids?

*sigh*

off to spank the inner toddler and clean the kitchen.

By the way, if you have a moment pop over to Se7en to congratulate them on the arrival of hood #8!! Their blog is SERIOUSLY GREAT and watching them celebrate their "little" ten pounder makes me all weepy and nostalgic on the eve of MY ten pounder's second birthday.

And if that doesn't give you your fill of cute-ness, go and visit Mama Bug (one of my favourite "Imaginary Friends" who I have never met in real life but imagine I will have a cuppa or two with in heaven) or The Peterson Clan. Too many babies, my ovaries are aching with the lovableness. What am I gonna do when my friend's triplets are born? *sigh* babies rock.

Now I am going to clean the kitchen.

Really.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Update In Pictures - the last six months

Guess who found the card reader? That would be me!

So our last six months of photos are in the process of being sorted, here's a sample....

Erin:
has been training medical students who, quite frankly, are like trained monkeys!


She's also been bonding with her sister


Caging wild animals (yes, that is Billy in there, APPARENTLY he was in on the game)



and having a birthday


Most recently, she's been in training for the next mad scientist




Billy:
has been creating wonderful nature collections of....dirt.



having a birthday of his own


and making alien eyes


Most recently, he's been wondering if having a sister with medical aspirations is all it cracked up to be...


Christopher:
Has been a bit exhausted


considering taking to the high seas, arrrgh


discovering the joys of playing out on a lawn


learning to mop the front hallway



Anna:
has been smiling


being subjected to bunny ears



and funny hats



and being completely adorable - even with flushed, teething cheeks

Friday, September 25, 2009

My New Blog

Because I have so much free time now days (har har) I decided to start a second Blog especially for homeschooling stuff.

So go and check out What! Why? How?!

Why do I have a small house?

Why on earth did I move from a big, four-bedroom-with-a-massive-sleep-out-walk-in-pantry-kitchen-you-could-turn-cartwheels-in house

to a

three-bedroom-but-only-two-with-internal-walls-pint-sized-living-area-with-a-kitchen-that-would-fit-in-a-caravan house?

WITH our fourth baby on the way.

I know the answers to this question, and they are many, but the biggest one is this:

I asked God to make me a better housekeeper.

I did it, nobody else, it wasn't imposed on me, I voluntarily prayed that God would teach me to keep house better. You think I would have learned, the last time I asked God to teach me to have a quiet voice with the kids, I woke up with laryngitis! True story, you gotta love an All Powerful Deity with a quirky sense of humor!

So He bought me here, where I HAVE to deal with the mess because I can't get away from it! Where I HAVE to put all my lovely homemaking theories into practise CONSISTENTLY. And, kicking and screaming, wailing and gnashing my teeth, I have been slowly getting the hang of it. I am not saying I HAVE the hang of it yet, there are a lifetime of bad habits and my inner-toddler that screams "I DON'T WANNA" every time I go to clean, but I am GETTING the hang of it.

In spite of me, He answers my prayers.

What a good and merciful God He is, praise Him!

Praise Him in the midst of nappies and dust, Praise Him when the crawler eats something she shouldn't, Praise Him when I have to don protective clothing before entering the kitchen, Praise Him when visitors arrive and it looks like a bomb has exploded around me while I am making Googly Alien Eyes in the middle of the loungeroom with the kids.

Praise Him, because He is Changing Me.

Little by little, every day, little by little in every way, Jesus is Changing Me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new way to teach skip counting

I started teaching Erin to count by twos today.

I softly counted then kissed her ear every time we got to an even number and she would shout the even number.

We call it "Kiss Counting"!

"Squeeze Counting" also works but "tickle counting" is not so successful, it is hard to shout numbers when you are lying on the floor giggling!

Two Girly links

for those with daughters....

A fantastic blog post about Princesses

Growing in Grace
, a magazine for Godly young ladies

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Anniversary

It is our wedding anniversary today.

You know how I know?

Beloved came up to me and gave me a big kiss and a gift bag and said

"Happy Anniversary!"

That was my first clue.

The second clue was checking the calender then searching the recesses of my memory and discovering, yes, today is our anniversary!

Whoops!

I knew it was coming, but it got here a little faster than I expected!

So, in the interests of making up for being a terribly slack wife and celebrating the fact that I am married to the MOST wonderful man in the world, I am neglecting the children to write a list of top ten reasons why I love being married to my Beloved!

10.
He understands and shares my rampant bibliophelia. To share the joy of having ENOUGH BOOKSHELVES for the first time EVER then to proceed to collect even more books - not everyone would be as excited about that as we are!

9. He loves us more than work. He can put aside various projects and jobs and simply spend time with us. This is a balm to my soul, and shows me in a most vivid way that he loves us, he loves ME.

8. He is my HERO. He protects my heart and when he sees someone being unkind or hurtful, he will gently and quietly step in and tell me that NOBODY will treat his bride in such a way. He will lend me his strength and support when I need it most. Because of him, I can be soft

7. He inspires me to be a better person, without making me feel like a bad person. Because of him, I want to be a better wife, better mother, better homemaker, better friend, better Christian.

6. He is my Huston. From the safety of his arms, I can shoot for the moon and at any moment, I can call back with "Huston, we have a problem!", and he gives me somewhere safe to land no matter if I made it to the moon or not.

5.
He is my rock. While my feet are firmly planted on THE Rock, the Rock of Ages, he is the rock I lean against, and he gives me stability and shelter. He is SO consistent with our children, teaching and training them so well. I can depend on him every day.

4. He is intrepid. We go adventuring, we push our limits, we take the path less traveled and live a life less ordinary. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

3. He is not afraid to depend on God. He does not see it as less manly or weak to fall on his knees, and because of that I see him as stronger and more manly than ever.

2. He leads us gently. He shepherds our children. He is not intimidated by our skills, thoughts or abilities, he does not see them as a threat to his authority. He sees them as his ASSETS. Gifts given to him in us. He delights in us.

1.
He loves me. Through and through. He would lay down his life for me, I know this because he DOES this daily. He puts himself on the line, lays aside his own hurts, wants, desires, upsets - to take care of ME. He does not worry about what others think, or let the winds of change toss about his ability to be there for me. He is available to me at all times, because he loves me.


I love you honey, more now than I did nine years ago. And I love you more each day.


One of my Favourite pictures of Beloved, him holding a minutes old Anna

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Health, wealth and happiness - (well, two out of three ain't bad!)

I mentioned a while back that I was getting rather near the end of my tether. Well, I thought I would give a quick update on the status of my tether and the proximity of the end of it!

We are back on track.

Beloved and I reading scripture together morning and night has added so much to our home and our relationship!

We have started having actual family worship before bed which is also wonderful. It is something we always wanted to do, but because Beloved so often gets home late etc. we just let it go. Now, if the kids don't get to bed until after 9pm, we consider it worth it! As I put the children to bed more often than not Daddy serenades us with hymns on his harmonica, a beautiful childhood memory for our children.

A weekend of thinking time and space back in August did wonders for me, as did a great big CHAT with a good friend who has several babies of her own and has experience having an ill husband. She lives on the mainland so the opportunity for a face to face chat only comes a few times a year.

Beloved seems to be on the mend a bit. He is not completely well, but the last few weeks have seen him better than he has been in a year or more. Some medication from the doctor, various herbs and potions that I have been plying the poor man with, a few lifestyle changes and lots and lots of prayer are having an effect.

A few SUNNY DAYS have given me a new lease on life. It is raining at the moment, but yesterday I was outside in short sleeves soaking up rays while I hung out the washing.

We have also looked at what we are planning for the renovations. The next thing on the list is still finishing the front room so that we can have the boys move into there. This will give the kids somewhere to play OTHER than the living area when Anna is asleep. I am all for having the kids with me, but when it has been raining for three months the boys need a space larger than three square meters to let off steam. It will also mean that we can fit in furniture to keep the kids clothes in etc and give us added storage generally which will make the house a lot easier to keep tidy. Sitting down together and going through it all makes it seem much more attainable and once the weather clears enough for us to seal the back door and put it in use again and we have the front room clear of some stuff and ready to be finished off, I think I may even start to enjoy this house!

Daffodils, lawn daisies, rainbows and mountains with snow on them are nature's Prozac.

We are going away on holiday in a couple of weeks. Our first EVER family holiday! A whole ten days. Just us, hanging out, catching up with friends and family and going to the ZOO!

We have been making big efforts to be good to ourselves as a family. We went to Liffey falls the other week which was lovely, the rain even cleared enough for us to get down to the base of the falls and back. We piled in the car and drove down to Hobart and back a couple of weekends ago. It was a 6 hour round trip, but I have downloaded a stack of old radio shows, kids audio books, sermons and seminars that kept us entertained. Plus driving into the night with four sleeping children affords Beloved and I some wonderful couple time! We went to Pizza Hut and the Botanic Gardens. Last weekend after a church luncheon we went for a drive and dropped in on some friends with our leftovers and shared tea together in their new house. This time out as a family has mended many fraying threads both in my heart and in the family and for this I am thankful!

I have had my "woes" put in perspective as I pray for and support a girlfriend expecting to double her number of children to six with a triplet pregnancy. Supporting her blesses me in so many ways!

I am still tweaking the housekeeping and have great hopes of this becoming easier after I have finished my latest spring clean/throw out anything not nailed down. I have come to the conclusion that if we don't need it and we don't love it, it needs to go. Trying to keep clothes for each gender and season in each size is a wonderful idea if you have the space, but I don't! I am stopping worrying that the people who gave us things will be offended if I get rid of them and started judging things on how they serve US and our needs. If people do get offended and stop giving us things, well, that's just less stuff for me to take care of! I have a good God that will provide all I need. Plus I am culling down the clothes we DO use to 4 or 5 every day out fits and 2 going out/church outfits. I am saving up for some attractive storage baskets to replace the cardboard boxes which currently grace the shelves in our lounge room.

So yes, over all we are doing much better!

God is good, my ever present help in times of trouble, and He leads me so gently in His way.

"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his
arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother
sheep with their young" Isaiah 40:11

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hard work or hard labour?

If you listen to a bunch of passionate hikers discussing what they love, you will hear: remedies for blisters, preventative techniques for leeches, ways to dry your wet socks before the next day's hike in the pouring rain, ways to prevent hypothermia or frost bite, ways to make a semi-decent meal over a butane stove with dehydrated ingredients, reminiscences of times they ended up waist deep in mud, got their pack soaked through and had to sleep in a damp sleeping bag, the time someone turned an ankle and had to be air lifted out of a remote area.

And you'd think - Why?

Why do you do that to yourself when you could be home, safe and dry?

It is rare you hear them discuss in detail the good they see. Mostly, because there are no words. You can sketch out verbally the sunset you saw over the mountains or the rare orchard you saw or the feelings of triumph after a long walk - you can even show photos - but there is no way to recreate the feelings it inspires. A fellow hiker can, with a few words, be inspired to remember their own experiences and guess how you felt, but those who don't love it, will never understand. Those who don't understand, can never FEEL it. And those who do understand, need few words.

So you hear about the aches and pains, the insects and parasites, the blisters and wounds.

So it is with motherhood.

Those who don't understand will never understand, those who do, need few words.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she shared with me about a Catholic mother she knew who did not love having children. When she hit menopause after her six children were born, she cried out in relief, with not a little bitterness to her tone. And I thought, what is the difference between her and me.

Then I realised, I do hard work, she was sentenced to hard labour.

I am Sir Edmund Hillary mounting the summit.

She was a prisoner on a forced march.

I am a sculptor creating a thing of beauty, forgetting to eat and sleep because I am so entranced.

She was a slave breaking rocks in a quarry, denied food and rest.

I LOVE what I do and do what I LOVE.

People aren't shy about telling you how busy you are when you have many small children. "You've got your hands full" "My, you must be busy!" "Gosh, how do you cope?"

I have been painted as a victim of my own choices, trapped with no escape. I have been depicted as a martyr or superwoman.

I am none of those, I am me. Artist, hiker, mountaineer, MOTHER. There is no way I can find the words to make them understand unless they do already. I could no more describe a mountain to a fish or a the deeps to an eagle.

But I know this much, I am blessed beyond words.

And I thank the Lord for it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Long Time Coming update

I did a little checking and it turns out that it has been over a MONTH since I last did an update. Oops! Seeing as the primary purpose of this blog is to update family and friends on the goings on of the Guest Household, I better get to it!

Erin:
is about to finish her tenth reader which means she is ALMOST ready to have our GIRLS NIGHT! When she reaches the goal of completing reader ten we (she and I) will sit up watching "Little Women", I will do her hair in rags, we will pop popcorn and have other special foods and we will snuggle together in the lounge room on the fold out couch. This looks like it is going to be so successful that we may well make it a regular reward. Billy is already looking forward to his first boys night! I love that it nurtures our relationship rather than adds to the "stuff" in our house

Another system we have put in place for Erin is our "button system" for the dishes. Erin can be a bit VAGUE at times - think absent minded professor from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She loves doing the dishes for me, but I was starting to find bits of food still stuck all over them after she had played "making jam" with them for an hour. This left us with a few choices

(a) she stops doing the dishes for me
(b) I stand over her to make sure they are done properly
(c) I mete out punishment when the work is not done properly or
(d) I give added incentive for her to maintain high standards in her work

I picked the one that requires the LEAST work from me and is MOST likely to teach her a life skill and nurture a helpful attitude - D! So on our kitchen windowsill we have two jars, each time the dishes are done to my standards (which are very high) she gets to put a button across. When all the buttons are across she gets to buy a chocolate frog! There are 14 buttons, so she has to do the dishes perfectly 14 times before I spend 45 cents on a chocolate frog - works for me! Erin is thriving and we are teaching life lessons - if you do the work to a high standard, you get paid, if you do a shoddy job, you have to do it again and you don't get paid! Plus, developing an eye for detail can only serve her well in future.

Billy:
is wildly excited about the possibility of going to the Zoo when we go away on holiday. I asked him which animals he PARTICULARLY wanted to visit and the list he gave me probably would have filled Noah's ark. It also contained some animals we probably won't see - unless they have rabbits and bees at the Zoo now! He is loving the warmer, SOMEWHAT drier, weather of spring and being able to get outside to run and collect firewood for me makes for a much happier boy. It is rare for us to go a week without him asking if he can go visit Nanny and Poppy after his weekend away last month, but as they are on holiday in Queensland it probably won't happen for a while. He has started learning his alphabet as he has a strong desire to read to me. We are taking things very slow though as I know where he wants to be academically is probably a little beyond where he is capable of being JUST yet! He's a bright button, but he wants to be able to read 101 Dalmations to me and I think we need to take things one step at a time!

Christopher:
is also enjoying the added freedom of being able to get out and run. We were housebound yesterday due to the rain and we both nearly went crazy! He is even more affectionate, frequently throwing his arms around me, yelling "Tiss!" and planting a big, sloppy one on my mouth! I have started making a point of reading to just him and Anna before nap time and this has done wonders for our relationship. Having that focused time with just the little ones makes him seem much more willing and compliant later in the day. He adores Anna and often climbs into her playpen to play with her. I think she is the only one who doesn't boss him around! The older two can get quite pushy with him and when he dishes out what he has been served (which he can, in spades!) they are the first to come crying to me. We are addressing this, but it takes time. The older two are also starting to play more intricate games, which an almost two year old cannot understand. Even if they DON'T set out to intentionally exclude him (which, let's be honest, sometimes they DO!) the games go completely over his head - so Anna is very important to him. I am pleased and relieved when the boys play happily together or when Erin plays with Christopher and I have to remind myself sometimes that this is just where they are all at and their relationships will change a million more times.

Anna:
is not afraid to use her two teeth - on me! She is also very into solid food all of a sudden, but is getting a little bound up so we incorporate a fair bit of prune juice into her diet. She is crawling on her tummy, which I am so not ready for, and having big long conversations with anyone who will listen. My Ergo is an absolute joy and she can usually be found either in there or in her playpen. Still the happiest baby in the world, she is also showing signs of having as strong a will as Christopher. Already she will hurl herself at the limits with abandon! She also seems to have the "grab life with both hands" attitude that Billy has which is startling after having the laid back Christopher as our last baby. Hmmm, Billy's full on, fast paced development with Christopher's strength of will. OK, this could be interesting!


The house:

is a mess. I am in total revolt against STUFF. I am a mother, my mission in life is to raise CHILDREN not STUFF. So I am going on a spring clean/cull and I am getting rid of STUFF. It probably wouldn't matter that Erin has four jackets if we had the storage, but we don't, so now she has two (one for good and one for the yard). It probably wouldn't matter that Anna has 15 pairs of PJ's if I didn't let the washing go until every single one of them was needing to be washed - but I do, so now she has 5. It probably wouldn't matter that we have two little wooden puzzles that are exactly the same and totally unusable because they snap as soon as the slightest pressure is applied in the wrong direction....no, wait, there is no justification whatsoever for keeping THOSE! So I am getting rid of STUFF. I am ignoring the wails of a certain little girl who says "But Nana Julie/Breah/Nanny/someone whose name I don't remember GAVE me THAT!" (I am sure they will get over it) and "But I MADE that!" (no you didn't, you made something else and this is the 1 cm square SCRAP OF PAPER left over!). The only STUFF that is off limits is Beloved's STUFF, and that is only for the sake of the marriage!

The garden:

is waiting for me to finish getting rid of the STUFF so I can get out there into it! I love daffodils and lawn daisies, they give so much and expect so little.

Jess

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A clip



I thought this was a beautifully presented truth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer request

I have a friend who is about 28 weeks pregnant. This is her fourth pregnancy and she was planning a home birth. A couple of weeks ago she went in for a check and she was measuring high for dates so she had an ultrasound where two little bubbas were found floating around! The next week she went for a more extensive ultrasound and they found ANOTHER one! Yes, she got nearly two thirds through a triplet pregnancy without realising it! I THINK we can safely say there are ONLY three in there!

She and her hubby seem to be handling things beautifully, but going from a family of five to a family of EIGHT in one hit is a big adjustment.

One of the biggest challenges they currently face is the attitude of the medical establishment. Unfortunately, she is facing an attitude of bullying from doctors who believe that there is NO way she should even be allowed to trial labour and, in fact, they tried to give her a shot of steroids with no prior warning "just in case" the babies came early (she has had NO sign of pre-term labour and is already at 28 weeks). While she doesn't want to be foolish about the added concerns and risks of a triplet pregnancy, she DOES want to be included in decisions made about her body and her children - not too much to ask in my book! So please pray that she will be given wisdom and direction and the health professionals will treat her with respect and courtesy, offering their learning, advice and experience to facilitate her and her husband to make wise and considered decisions.

Please also pray that they and their other three daughters will receive all the support they need and will feel God's presence and peace as they plunge into the world of triplets! A wonderful blessing, and a wonderful challenge!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Multi tasking

How to teach botany, biology, math and economics while gardening organically and hanging out the washing.

Step 1. Get two enterprising children

step 2. Arm them with a small bucket of salt water each.

Step 3. Tell them they will get one cent for each snail they collect.

Step 4. Watch them while they collect snails, pointing out likely hiding places and things that the snails have been eating.

Step 5. Count their snails with them about 80 times before they decide they have enough.

Step 6. Count the snails (again) and pay the agreed amount.

Step 7. Dispose of snails and take children to the shop to spend some money!

Step 8. Help them put the change in their money boxes

Step 9. Watch them enjoy the fruits of their labour!

Step 10. Give yourself a pat on the back and go and blog about it.

I love lazy, sunny Sundays

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On becoming a woman

I remember the day of her birth.

Placed on my belly, the warm, moist form looked up at me brightly then started crawling toward my breast making sucking sounds - before I even said hello.

I scooped her into my arms and moved the umbilical cord to have a look.

Then I looked again.

Then I looked AGAIN.

The bossy midwife who I didn't like called across the room
"WELL? What have you got?"

I ignored her and turned to Beloved.

"we got a girl."

In amongst the high of birth, the indescribable love that was washing through me toward her and the praise and thanksgiving to God for this precious soul in my arms there was sheer, unabated, TERROR.

a girl.

a GIRL.

A GIRL.

A GIRL!?!


What are you THINKING Lord?

This isn't the plan.

Sons, I was going to have all sons.

Boys are resilient, out there, EASY!
I can do boys.
I can tell what boys are thinking, most of the time.
They don't play games with people's heads.

Boys always, on some level, think their Mum is brilliant.
Girls - well they seem to learn different at some stage.

Everything is navy blue and red Lord, EVERYTHING.
I don't think I even have a pink blanket.
I have been referring to this child as "he" for months and months.
I've scarred her for life already I'm sure.

What to I know about girls????

I don't even know about being a woman myself.
I have screwed that up royally,
along with my marriage and everything else you have given me.

So I looked around from under the warm sheet, flung over me and my newborn amid the birthing fluids.

I saw my husband, a man who I loved with the greatest passion,
a man who I had been separated from in terms of address
for almost the entire pregnancy,
a man who I had been separated from on deeper levels for much, much longer.

The look on his face was - joy, amazement, and a million other things.

The shock numbed me at first I think. I had been so sure that she was a boy. Terrified of the alternative.

We didn't find out our baby's gender during the scan, possibly because I was afraid to find out in retrospect.

I had never been totally comfortable with being a woman. I never had a desire to be a man or was confused about my gender or anything like that, but the mantle didn't sit easy. To be a role model to a little girl seemed completely beyond my capabilities.

Beloved and I were trying to piece together the broken shards of our marriage and the little one I held in my arms was the only thing to make me truly, deeply, happy for a very long time. Possibly the only thing to make me truly happy ever at that stage. And I was DETERMINED to do the best I could. Stubborn is one thing I CAN do well, so I set my jaw stepped out.

Over the months and years that followed there was an amazing journey for me. A journey of motherhood, yes, but a whole different journey meshed with the first, but at the same time completely separate.

The journey of becoming a woman.

A journey I am yet to complete.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Weird childhood memories my children will have #682

Mum crying as she reads 101 Dalmations and the puppies are stolen.

I have only read the book about fifty times - Poor Pongo, Missis and Perdita! Poor Dearlys and Nannies! Poor Puppies!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009