Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas at our house

I printed out some bookmarks from for the kids to colour in thinking we would laminate them for gifts.
A sweet gift for grandparents and such.

I am colouring this rabbit red....
because it got hit by a car and runned over.

I'm colouring in this penguin red because it got runned over....
by the rabbit!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The imaginary life of the Guest Family

We have three with nasty colds, one mild cold triggering moderate-severe asthma and one perfectly healthy child here at the moment. So of course as we sat eating our nutritious lunch of PB&J's general bickering and complaining was happening.

Billy complained that people were "touching meeeeee" and making noises. I offered to build him a bubble so it wouldn't bother him. Then built myself an imaginary bubble and placed it over my head, sat there with my eyes closed saying "I can't hear you, I am in a bubble". General hilarity ensued and I offered it around. Erin opted to give it a try, so I put it on her head. As I sat back down I noticed Anna reach over and put her hands around the "bubble", take it off Erin's head then yell "POP" as she clapped her hands together.

This morning as I dolled out Vitamin C tabs Anna grabbed hers and said "Oooohhh, EYES!" then held them in front of her eyes like little orange eye balls.

But it isn't just limited to Anna. Billy just came in and told me he has an imaginary dragon called "Juicy", apparently so called because she juices Panda Bears. Yes, squeezes them to get the juice and drinks it.

Oh Dear.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Whimsy Wander

Mary at Owlhaven invited her readers to share their own Whimsy Wanders and I felt inspired.

* One day Beloved and I want to take the kids on a tour up the east coast to Cape York and back with a camper trailer. I want to go so we can visit my friend in Sydney, my brother-in-law in Queensland, the place where Beloved and I shared our first kiss and some other memorable/touristy places. Beloved wants to go for all those reasons and to go 4 wheel driving.

* I love hiking but haven't gone on a proper hike for years and years. When the kids are old enough I want to do the overland track with them as well as a bunch of other tracks. Beloved doesn't hike - he can 4wd to the other end and meet us there!

* The other day when I wondered what the next ten years of marriage will bring, I was only half joking when I suggested another 5 children to Beloved. (I think he was only half joking when he rolled his eyes and laughed at me)

* I wish every day that we could move further east to be closer to some good friends we have over there.

* I would love to get a pirate style heart tattoo with MUM across the middle of it on my shoulder. I considered the idea of some fancy ink with each of the kids names on it, but wonder if I will run out of arm.

* I would gladly move into a large shed to live. Beloved wants to build us a big fancy house one day, I told him he could have as large and fancy a house as he'd like if I could have as many children as I liked to help clean it :)

What about you? Do you have any whimsys you would like to share?

Monday, August 30, 2010

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 for a date 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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Long Awaited LONG birth story!

A False Start

I never know WHERE to start a birth story. In many ways birth is a journey that begins at conception. In some ways, it begins even before that! Andrew’s birth definitely started before it actually started though. We had a quiet day’s rest at home together after a particularly trying week of tummy bugs and vomiting among the children. According to dates, I was one week “overdue” but was not stressed about that as my pregnancies tend to go a week or two over quite regularly (this being my fifth pregnancy). After a peaceful morning, we took the kids for a bike ride to the end of the footpath and back. On the way back I had a trickle of fluid. I started walking with one foot in the gutter and the trickle became a gush. Jon and I were very excited! We got everyone home and sorted out, called in our child carers, called our midwife, packed bags, fed everyone tea and headed in to Launceston, fully expecting to have a baby by morning.

I picked up the key to the birth centre from Anna then we drove around to find somewhere that sold castor oil – which was a bit of a challenge at that time of night. I took a dose, had a hot shower then we put a movie on the lap top and snacked on chocolate biscuits as we watched it. I didn’t even have a twinge! We went to bed and slept. At 3am the inevitable late-pregnancy bathroom call came and, feeling a little frustrated, I dosed myself again with castor oil reasoning that as it had NO effect, maybe I just needed more. It had worked with my third labor to kick things off, I couldn’t understand what was going on! I then spent the rest of the night getting up to go to the loo, but still no sign of baby.

By morning I felt completely miserable. My tummy was upset, but there was no sign of baby and to make matters worse it looked like my husband was getting the tummy bug that had struck the children down. I was worried that I would need to be induced seeing as my waters had broken and I would be birthing in the hospital without my Jon there as he had already started throwing up.

We called my in-laws to come and help out with the children as we were unsure how much longer things were going to take. We went for a walk along Charles street to try and get things moving. Nothing happened. Late morning, I got a call from Anna as we browsed a book shop. At my request, we met her at the birth centre and she gave me a “once over”. We talked about our next steps. I was relieved that as my waters haddn’t continued to leak, it was probably just hind waters so I wouldn’t need to be induced. We decided that the best bet would be a long, hot shower followed by a nap then going home. This was a course of action I could be happy with!

So after I had a long hot shower I climbed into bed at the birth centre while Jon (who was feeling better) went shopping for a teddy bear for the baby and ran a few last minute errands. I flipped my Bible open to read and my eyes settled on James chapter 4, specifically verses 13-15:

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Everything I read seemed to be saying that God had a bigger plan than I did and I needed to trust Him and leave it in His hands. I needed to pray for peace rather than for specific “stuff” as His plan was going to be even better than mine. So I prayed then slept for a few hours. I woke feeling like a new woman and went home to my children. Where I had severe diarrhea for the next few days!

The Real Thing

Wednesday morning I awoke feeling AWFUL. I’m not talking a little bit queezy, a touch off or a bit peaky – I am talking “Dear Lord, Kill Me Now….PLEASE” kind of awful. After several days of putting off doing anything about the diarrhea (I had it stuck in my head that if that stopped, the baby would NEVER COME OUT!) everything from the waist down felt swollen and sore. Everything from the waist up just felt sore. And to cap it off, Jon felt pretty awful too. I called Anna to ask if she thought me taking anti-diarrhea tablets would be OK (she was too nice to say “Um, DUH, why didn’t you do that days ago?”, she just made sympathetic noises and told me to go ahead) and I shed a few tears of complete and utter dejected self pity.

Jon and I agreed that we needed help so I decided to call our good friends who were meant to be staying with us that night and warn them off (I cried about that too, I had been so excited about seeing them! I’m not usually a big crier, blame the hormones) and I was also going to call another friend to come and watch the kids while we lay in bed and pretended to be asleep. Somewhere between those two phone calls I realized that among the LOUD pain messages my body was sending, there was a more specific, familiar sensation that was trying to get through.

I took a deep breath and muttered “Ah well Lord, not my plans but yours” and called Anna back, telling her we’d get settled at the birth centre and call her when things picked up and called my child minding friend. I waddled around between contractions getting kids dressed, supervising the making of breakfast and organizing things to go to the birth centre. I have bizarre memories of vocalizing during contractions in the midst of changing nappies!

As I walked around it became evident that things were moving along a bit quicker than I had anticipated!! My concern for the grew as I hunted for places to stand during contractions where it wouldn’t matter if my water broke (not many in my renovator’s delight – between unsealed floors and rugs I was getting a little anxious!). I also worried that the car seats would NOT take kindly to a bath in amniotic fluid and I really didn’t like the idea of birthing somewhere on the side of the road. Jon asked me at the conclusion of one rather strong contraction if I thought baby might come before we could make it. We decided the best course of action was to change birthing venues to home.

Now if you had asked me the day before what my least preferred birthing situation would be (other than going to hospital) I would have said birthing in the middle of the day with a bunch of people in the next room. Here it was looking like I would be birthing in my dirty-laundry filled bathroom with my children and our child caring friend (Nola, an older lady from church who I know, but not THAT well) in the next room! Again I had to just give it over to God.

I called Anna and asked her to come to me then when Nola turned up I let her know what was happening while Jon ran me a bath. I was working my way through a contraction and Nola was chattering non-stop (which she does, it’s endearing usually!) and asking me if I was getting pain in my back etc. Thankfully, she is a beautifully sensitive, thoroughly practical woman who sensed where her groove was very early in the piece and took it all in her stride. She went out with the kids and started managing them eating their breakfast. Throughout my labour I heard her dealing with my children and taking care of them and it was a great source of comfort.

I sunk into the bath with a great feeling of relief. The warm water was just what my very sore, tired, laboring body needed. Jon turned on the heaters and hung some old towels over the column heater to warm. I got him to pass me a cold wet face washer which I slung over my neck. Usually during my labours I am LOUD. I keep my vocalizations low and relax my jaw to help my body with the job it is doing and in all my previous births this has been an important part of my working through the very active stages of labour. I was worried about this because my children were in the next room and while I had described the noises I made to them when we had discussed birth, I really didn’t know how they’d react and I didn’t feel they were really prepared for it.

I found that sucking the cold face washer really helped during contractions, and the fact that I had something in my mouth meant that my vocalizations didn’t sound quite so dramatic, so I was less worried about the kids. It led me to confess to Jon, after ten years of sharing a home and a life, that there was something he didn’t know about me. I chew on face washers sometimes, have done since I was a child. When I made my confession, he said “That’s OK honey” in a voice that said “you are weird, strange and a little scary, but I love you anyway”. I decided that was good enough and sucked away on my face cloth!
I found out later that Nola told the children that the noises I was making was me “singing the baby out” – one of them commented that it didn’t sound much like singing to them! But it really helped the kids to accept what was going on. Thank the Lord I was provided with such a practical, matter-of-fact woman who was willing to embrace the experience as positive. I could not have asked for anyone better to take care of the kids.

At one point as Jon went in and out of the bathroom I heard Nola ask him if he thought he could deliver the baby himself if the midwives didn’t make it – he answered that he could well not have a choice! As we chatted in between contractions (yes, I chat in between contractions all the way through pretty much) he said that “If Shane can do it, I’m sure I can!” referring to friends of ours who had an unplanned home birth a few years before. I giggled and started singing “Anything They Can Do We Can Do Better” – possible that I have a competitive streak there and the labour hormones were well and truly working.

Much to all our relief though, Anna and Jean turned up. I could feel a part of me wincing with embarrassment, even in mid-labour, about the pile of laundry and general MESS everywhere but nobody took any notice but me. I realize now that all this was part of God helping me to put my self perceived “failings” into perspective and just get on with the job of living!

I asked the midwives to put the birthing pad on the floor next to the bath as I wanted to get out to birth. They set me up a little area and immediately plugged in to what was going on and how things were progressing. Anna asked if I was hot and I thought it was an odd question, of course I was hot, I was in the middle of the ultimate work out! Apparently it was quite hot in the bathroom though so they turned one of the heaters off. Deep labour brings with it its own sense of time and climate, I doubt I would have noticed if it’d been an oven in there. Jean asked Jon for an icecream container or something for the placenta and I called out instructions on where to find a stainless steel bowl. Anna listened to bub’s heart rate a few times between her arriving and the birth, but it was never very obtrusive and it didn’t interrupt the flow of my labour.

Things were getting very serious by this point but I was worried about getting the urge to push too early because my south end was all swollen and sore and constantly felt pressure on it anyway. I asked for some hot towels on my back during contractions which was fantastic. I remember hearing one of the kids ask to go to the toilet and Nola say that they couldn’t because I was in the bathroom (we only have a toilet in the bathroom) so I asked someone to take the potty out so they could use that. Jean remarked that she haddn’t even heard anyone mention needing to go so I guess even at that point, I still had my Mummy hat on a bit.

At one point I moved to a squatting position with my back against one side of the bath and knees against the other (narrow, claw foot baths are horrid to try and clean under AND too narrow to birth in properly if anyone is interested!). As I was in this position I started feeling really pushy and gave a few involuntary pushes. During one of these I felt a pop and noticed some blackish, greenish fluid. I was a little concerned about this as I had never had meconium in my waters before and knew it could signal distress. I asked Jon to tell Anna my waters had broken and that there was meconium. She came in and checked it out. She assured me that it looked old and probably wasn’t a sign of distress, more likely because bub had decided to stick around in utero for a bit longer.

I clambered out of the bath and stood for a while, pushing during contractions only when I HAD to. I was still concerned that I wasn’t ready. My first birth had a premature urge to push for the last couple of hours and it is odd how that still affects the way I birth now, almost 6 years and 4 more births later. I kneeled down with my arms folded on the edge of the bath and gave a few pushes. My shoulder muscles ached for days later where I must have pulled myself up on the bath as I pushed. Anna suggested I put one leg up to open things up a bit which I did, putting myself in the same position which I had birthed 18 months earlier, an excellent position. After the next gentle push Anna said she could see the head, at which point I realized that I did NOT have a premature urge to push!

With the next contraction I gave a long hard push and felt my baby moving down and the head emerge into my hand. Anna checked for a cord and we waited for bub to turn. I had previously asked for Syntocin at this point because I have a past history of post-partum bleeds and this was my fifth baby so in consultation with Anna I felt it was appropriate to actively manage third stage. Jean told me what she was doing as she administered the injection but to be honest, I really didn’t care at that point. We had already discussed it, I had requested it and my mind was elsewhere! It hurt a lot to have the baby pushing everything and I realized that this was not going to be a tiny dot of a baby like the last one. I focused and put my hands down ready to catch my baby. With the next push out he slithered into my hands! I drank in every detail of him with my eyes and called out “Honey, we got an Andrew!”

I found out later that Nola had been reading “Hello Baby” to the children at that moment in the lounge room and they were all listening for the cry!

I asked Jon if he thought it was a good idea to ask Erin, our oldest, if she wanted to cut the cord. She has been obsessed with all things medical since before her third birthday. She came in and followed Anna’s instruction to cut the cord and examined the placenta – something I wanted her to be able to do because I knew it would mean so much to her. It was a very intense experience for her and having a good relationship with Anna was an important part of it being a positive experience. I am so proud of her and the way she conducted herself. We all cleaned up and I snuggled with Andrew on my armchair surrounded by my children, him still fresh and new and naked and them completely enthralled.

I realized that little of this birth had gone to my plan, but I had been given a beautiful gift. Not only my new baby, but the chance to share this birth with my other children in a wonderfully special way. It wasn’t my plan, but it turned out to be a darn good plan anyway! All up, active labour lasted about three hours and Andrew was 8pound 2oz, my second smallest baby.

We called back our friends who we had put off spending the night at our house that night and asked them to come anyway. Something seemed very right about our baby Andrew meeting his Uncle Andrew on his Birth Day! It was sheer coincidence that he and his lovely wife were moving back to Tassie that particular night. The rest of the day seemed to be one long celebration. Baby Andrew latched on and drank like a champ. I held him almost all day. Nola took care of all of the practical needs of the children and made us all tea. Jon and I made phone calls. And we cut a Birth Day cake with the words “Andrew Phillip” and a big number 0 candle on it. And that night, I snuggled down in my own comfy bed with my husband beside me, baby in the bassinette on the other side and my other children fast asleep in the next room. Like I said, not to my plan, but to a Perfect Plan!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birth story to follow - suffice to say, He knows the plans He has for me and His hand is in all things!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Diplomacy of a Larger Family Ambassador

I live in a small country town with a school, shop, post office and pub. Most people I meet when I walk down the street I know well enough for a nod and a smile and it is rare that I need to stray too far from this comfortable niche I have made for myself. Most people around here have exhausted their store of silly questions and have come to accept me my family and me as just one of those eccentricities that exist in small towns. Like the Lady With All The Cats and the Man Who Always Wears A Green Hat, we have become the Family With All Those Kids. A strand in the tapestry of our town. As such I can go weeks, even months, without encountering someone who is surprised at our choice to have more than the usual 2.4 children.

But every now and then…..

Oldest Daughter and Oldest Son had been invited to a sixth birthday party. As we arrived they stripped off their coats and dived into the mini-mosh pit of children in the lounge room. I gave the mother of the birthday girl a wave and a smile and retreated to the relative safety of the kitchen area with the rest of the adults. I maneuvered myself into a position to get a glass of fizzy green stuff and found a stool that looked as if it would hold me. An unfamiliar woman dressed in smart-casual slacks and jacket and sporting a stylish, multi-coloured hair cut introduced herself as the birthday girl’s aunt. I smiled and introduced myself back.

“I belong to the one in pink singing off key next to the coffee table and the one in camouflage pants about to stage dive off the couch” I smile catching my son’s eye and explaining in detail exactly what will happen to him if he carries out his plan using only silent eyebrow signals. Thankfully, he gets the message and climbs down.

Aunt Smart-casual’s eyes widen “And you’re about to have another? Gosh you’re brave.”

I laugh “Brave or crazy. I have another two at home too.”

Aunt Smart-Casual’s eyes nearly pop out of her head “FIVE kids? Gosh, I didn’t know people did that still these days. Is it a religious thing to have so many?”

I smile and send up a silent prayer for strength, wisdom and try to remember that even though this is the 150th time I have heard this question, it is probably the first time this woman has asked the question. “Our faith has a definite impact on our choice to have children, but I do not feel forbidden to stop or required to continue to have children just because of my faith. It affects my choice like it affects most of my choices, being such a strong part of who I am.”

Aunt Smart-Casual nods with a blank look on her face “I don’t know how you cope. I have a 9 year old at home and he drives me crazy. He is a full time job. I couldn’t stand having another one, I’d never get any time out. How do you do it?”

Suppressing a sigh and pasting on a smile I nod and try to formulate an answer that doesn’t make me sound like a martyr or superwoman “We have tough days of course, any family with any number of children do, but five children isn’t the same as one child five times over. There is an economy of scale there. Plus I have an awesome husband which helps. Overall, it is a lifestyle choice for us and a lot of the time we have a whole lot of fun together.”

Aunt Smart-Casual thoughtfully tips her head to one side “Don’t you worry that you don’t get enough time for each child? How can they develop as INDIVIDUALS when you are so busy with all of them?”

I fight the urge to smack this woman in the face and remind myself that she doesn’t know my children, she is not judging me, she is simply unpacking a stereotype in her own mind. “I don’t have to make them into who they are, they are who they are, I simply facilitate the process of them discovering who that is and they don’t need me holding their hand every minute of the day to do that. When any of them achieve something they don’t just have me as #1 fan, they have a whole cheer squad. When they are low, they don’t have to fit in with Dad’s work schedule or find a moment when I am unoccupied to get a shoulder to cry on, they have siblings, friends and extended family. A strong support network., of which I am one part, is helping my kids to realize who they are every day.” Oldest Daughter comes and thrusts her pass-the-parcel prize into my hands before re-entering the melee in the lounge room. “When she was little” I continued “I worked full time as a teacher for two months. Between getting her to childcare, picking her up, preparing meals, keeping house, doing prep and marking – it was MUCH harder to find time for her then than it is now.”

Aunt Smart-Casual was still latched on to the topic like a dog with a bone “But what about time for you? Do you work now?.”

I bite back the sarcastic reply on the tip of my tongue and smile again, albeit a little thinly this time. “We chose to become a one-income family when my oldest was little. I enjoy what I do. I have more time for reading, personal projects and other pursuits now than I ever did when I was at Uni full time and working to pay my way. This was my choice and I have no regrets where that is concerned.”

“How on earth do you manage to afford everything? My husband and I work full time and we can barely keep up with the bills.” Aunt Smart-Casual replies in amazement “I suppose tax breaks and baby bonus would help a lot.”

Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I continue “The tax breaks and the baby bonus are a great help and I am not going to turn down free money, but we aren’t dependent on them by any stretch. We choose to live a very simple lifestyle, we have a relatively inexpensive renovator’s delight which keeps the mortgage down and we keep to a budget. We don’t have buckets of money, but neither do we starve. Again, it’s a lifestyle choice.”

Thankfully, we were interrupted by the cake and I manage to be busy with my children and the party until home time. As I walk out the door, Aunt Smart-Casual lays a hand on my arm and says with a genuine smile “Good luck with the baby, I hope all goes well with you and your family.” As I walk out the door I wonder if I can write Diplomat and Ambassador on my resume now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Birthday Poem

This year is supposed to be of significance, the thirtieth I've spent on this earth
And it is customary to give someone gifts to celebrate the day of their birth
The very thought, it fills me with dread! More things to store and to clean
it takes a way from my time with my brood, the very idea's obscene!
So this year I implore you, rather than gifts, pass a blessing to where it is needed
and leave me to play with my babies that day, enjoying my waifs unimpeded.
A card or an e-mail or a phone call's enough to let me know of your good wishes
(or if you are so inclined, perhaps come and do my dishes!!)
From this year on, rather than stuff, please feed a hungry child
or give clean water to a thirsty land and make my heart truly smile

Christmas and birthdays are filled with stuff
of chocolate and baubles I've had enough
please pass on the blessing to one living tough
Happy Christmas, Merry Birthday, mazeltov!

Getting in early, my birthday isn't 'till April, but if any of you were planning to give me presents this year for my Birthday or Christmas, please donate to your favourite charity instead or if you don't have a favourite charity, donate to ADRA. I would rather you change a life forever in my name than any gift you could buy me!