Thursday, 22 May 2014

:: hungry cubs ::

She's as thoroughly clever and creative as she is beautiful. She's our sister and aunt and a mummy to a very sweet little one. We had a lovely time together yesterday morning with them both, as the wind blew and rain showers interspersed with sunshine and rainbows passed through the valley outside.

The girls had received a baking kit each for their birthday, complete with cupcake papers and toppers and the essential ingredients to make delicious chocolate cupcakes. Signature Hungry Cub goodies that are whole-food, gluten-free and refined sugar free. I watched as she helped the girls shake and mix ingredients into a bowl, a little in awe at how she can do it without a recipe and just knows intuitively approximately how much of everything needs to go in. Agh I can go with the flow to a certain extent, but not like she can! She's my go-to-guru for cooking and baking advice and I am always so grateful and impressed with her skill!

She's the brains, beauty and creative artist behind Hungry Cub. A food blog that was born out of her desire to provide her little girl with healthy whole-food meals and snacks. It's still in its early days, but with quite a growing following there and on its Facebook page. I think, with the increasing knowledge and awareness that there is about processed foods and what sorts of nasties can be added in to a lot of these, most of us are keen to make changes where we're able to, to make sure that we and our families are eating as healthily as we can manage. And, you know, it's actually quite tasty ;o) If you're interested I completely recommend you check out her recipes. They're all tasty, easy to make (for the most part!) and pretty amazing!

The girls love baking. They especially love doing it all - breaking the eggs, adding the ingredients and mixing it all together. They also love to taste the mixture at every cycle of mixing ;o) One thing that I'm learning as a mummy is to let go of my perfectionist tendencies to try to keep mess to a minimum and just let them at it...even if most of the mixture goes into their mouths before it gets into the oven. Surely most of the fun is actually in the process of creating...and what's left as the end product is a bonus!

We're going to miss this sweet little family when they move to Tauranga at the end of June. It will be quite the week with three of us (families) all moving at the same time! But at least a couple of hours down the road isn't too far to go and spend weekends together!

(...he's gonna miss your shoelaces too) ;o)

Monday, 19 May 2014

:: 20 : 52 ::

"A portrait of our children once a week, every week, in 2014."

These pictures represent so much of what I love about my family. A papa who engages and plays with his children, making up funny stories that enrapture them and make them laugh a lot. He's a gift, and they're all priceless.

Friday, 16 May 2014

:: thankfulness today ::

Today was such a beautiful, clear, cool Autumn day. There's nothing like a day such as this to lift the tired spirits, revive the downcast eyes and get a whole pile of washing out and dried! With such inspiration I thought it was high time I joined up to Meghan's 'Things I'm Loving' again to take note of what I'm thankful for these days. I love the byline of this linky:

I wholeheartedly believe that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something you can be thankful matter how simple it is. 

So true. All it takes to be thankful is seeing things in a different perspective.

This week we've had three little people with runny noses and nasty-sounding coughs. Us two bigger people are fighting on the edge so, needless to say, our perspective could easily not be so bright at the moment. Although I have to say that all three of the little ones are so impressive even when they surely can't be feeling great. They've never done sick grumpily - for the most-part they're hardly a notch less than their usual happy selves.  They can definitely teach me a thing or two.

The following are all from our day today, runny noses, a few fights and grumpy intervals along the way (please don't perceive perfection in any sense on our part through the following photos and words!)...

How can I not be thankful when greeted with a little face like this one as soon as the camera appears?! Clad in his mini flannelette pyjamas and eagerly eating his way through his cup of porridge and apple, he's a sweet little breakfast mate. He needed some extra cuddles and closeness today, so spent quite a bit of time accompanying me around in the front pack, grabbing a hold of anything that came within reach, like my hair or the clothes line. His grip and strength is growing proportionally with his weight gain. Ouch!

I'm loving our little lounge and the fact that it catches sun all day long, from sunrise to sunset. I love all the windows that give so much light, the warmth of the wood, and the bright spots of colour that make it feel cosy and well loved when it's chilly outside! I won't count how many window panes need cleaning before we move out in a few weeks, but rather admire how they provide us with such beautiful views to be enjoyed!

Speaking of views, one of my most favourites is of the little tree outside the lounge window. Since we've lived here it's changed from vivid Spring green to almost rainbow like these days with leaves all shades of reds, oranges, yellows and some still hanging back at green.

Being on a farm property means we are surrounded by fields. I love the views - the rolling hills and the ever-changing rotation of livestock in the neighbouring fields. At the moment my favourites are in residence: a sweet little flock of black-faced sheep who stick very close together as they make their way through the lush grass, often running and jumping as they go!

They're a curious little bunch of sheep too. I smiled as several of them watched Elise climbing up and along the fence. We'll miss their carefree little spirits and curiosity, that is also matched with the cattle that are often in the field as well.

I love these two and their never-ending energy to bounce and bounce and bounce.

...and the little characters from within who called out "I'm Elsa, mummy! I'm Elsa!" (Frozen) and "I'm Sarah, mummy!" (Little Princess). I slipped up several times throughout the day and was reminded countless times that "I'm Elsa, mummy!!" I'm thankful for bright, imaginative little minds that make life into a fun game. 

Elsa and Sarah went on several trips... did Oska, our little friend who is staying with us while my parents are away. He was happily exploring the boundaries, slipping through fences a couple of times only to be called back quickly! One must keep an eagle eye on precious charges such as this one! He has become the favoured mascot of the little ones in the family lately, with Théo and his cousin Lucy who love him. They make quite a cute little trio!

As the sun dipped towards the west, the washing was collected in dry while a little front-packed man grabbed a hold of the clothes line whenever he could. Little girls asked to be pushed "really high" on the tire swing (though they were a bit disappointed at mummy's lack of ability to really push them as high as papa can!) and then, when the shadows stretched longer and the air grew colder, we returned indoors to keep little bodies warm, to bath, snuggle back up into flannelette pyjamas, eat dinner and jump into cosy beds tucked in with warm wheat-bag animals. They've now been long asleep and I've just been treated to a delicious "surprise" dessert as I added my birthday voucher to Eti's shopping list tonight. It was well and truly worth a photo, but too delicious to put down :o)

Saturday, 10 May 2014

:: honouring my mum ::

I became a mum on Mother's Day. Well, it was actually an hour and a half short, but in New Zealand it was Mother's Day morning...and I like to take advantage of belonging to two countries and time zones to claim as my own ;o) At the end of a very full, unexpected, somewhat-scary day that involved an urgent helicopter trip to the nearest hospital with Neonatal facilities, my mum received a text that said something like "Please pray, the babies are coming." Not the most reassuring text to a mum whose daughter was just short of 26 weeks pregnant with twins and on the other side of the world! But she did what mothers do...she prayed and she quickly sent a text to all her friends on her contact list to ask them to pray too. Consequently, as it was a Sunday morning, several churches around the country stopped and prayed for us as my journey into motherhood began. It is Mother's Day eve here again, four years later. We have just celebrated the fourth birthday of our girls who are full of life and health, despite their 'adventurous' beginnings. But I don't want to talk about my experience of motherhood. I want to honour the woman who has made much more of an impact on my life than any other single person. My mum.

I know we can tend to get sentimental on days like these and gush just a little bit as though our mums are the most amazing people on the planet. I'll try not to do that - though I do think the world of her. My aim is simply to honour mum. Being a mother now, myself, I realise how much self-sacrifice it takes and some days you wonder if there ever is a break from it all, from the endless, day-after-day repetition of routines (as much as we adore our kids!)...then realise that there never is a break from the moment you become a mum! So I think we are a pretty amazing bunch. But we're far from perfect, and being family means we see the best of each other and the worst - the un-made-up, imperfect people we are with insecurities in all our honest, down-to-earth glory, the way we sometimes yell at each other and drive one another nuts, which I guess kinda balances the amazing gifts we possess ;o)

So my mum... We're pretty different in some ways. She's an ENFP, I'm an INFJ, if you know Myers-Briggs Personality speak. I'm the quiet, admittedly more conservative one that doesn't like to make a scene. Mum is the exuberant one who talks easily, laughs loudly with a great sense of humour, and likes to break out of the boundaries. I've often watched her interacting with people and wished I was more like her. We both share a deep desire for justice and a hate of injustice, a desire to stand up for what is right and alongside people suffering injustice, or unjust situations. Our hearts beat to the same rhythm on this note. Although, mum has often been greatly misunderstood because of this and her natural ability to speak up and to ask the good and hard questions on the spot (I often need time to process my thoughts before I can, if I even have the courage to do so!).

Being a minister's kid for my whole life until next month, I have observed from the wings what it is like to see someone who loves deeply and serves others endlessly but doesn't take crap, and often gets treated like it in the process, simply from the expectations of this sort of job involvement. There have been a lot of hurtful experiences, including a recent email listing all her apparent faults. I have been deeply inspired and touched by her example and feel very protective of a woman who has walked an often-lonely life of being known as "The Minister's Wife." I watch her constantly encourage people through her profession as a Life Coach, specialising in Myers Briggs Personality, grief, team dynamics and supervising. I've rejoiced with her when her gifts have been recognised and honoured, and she's been able to share them in places like Guyana and Switzerland and has been appreciated and encouraged by those she's shared with. Several times she has jumped on a plane when friends have unexpectedly lost a family member, without worrying about the financial cost. Because relationships are so much more important to her and she shows that through her actions, not just through nice-sounding words. I've been amazed at her ability to create numerous meals to drop in to people who are going through stress in their own lives and determined in my heart that I will do the same when I hear of a need. I have watched her show respect to those who have deeply hurt her partly because she is wise enough to know that bitterness never leads to true life, but more so because she knows who she was created to be and that, while words and actions create deep wounds, the truth of who she is and her trust in the One she loves is what gives her life and the ability to keep serving and loving. But none of these observations have impacted me as much as my first-hand experience of being supported by my mum who literally laid down her career to fly across the world and spend as long as it was legally possible to come and make meals, clean, do the washing, the shopping and whatever else was needed to help us through those first months with our girls. And more recently, since moving to New Zealand, will drop whatever she is doing to come and help when things are going pear-shaped. When I became a mum four years ago, I suddenly realised more completely the gift my mum has given me in the all-encompassing role of being a mother. I've asked her many questions throughout these last four years and she's guided me often when I've felt stuck. Whereas before we had more of a mum and daughter relationship, now we are more friends sharing a common understanding and experience together.

So, mum. None of this is sentimental gushing. It's true. You love and you keep on loving and giving wherever you see a need and wherever your gifts can be used. I have seen that and I know I'm not the only one. I will miss you and Dad when you move next month but I'm thrilled for the opportunities ahead of you and equally so that you will be living close to great, long-term friends. You have invested in them and stood with them through good times and bad and they are waiting excitedly to have you nearby. I love knowing this! Enjoy :o) Know you're a wonderful mum and friend who has done more than simply mother - you've inspired me to live and love well and to stand up for what is good, and true, and right.

Thank you

If you ever have the privilege of meeting my mum, get to know her, because in doing so you will discover a deep treasure of what a true friend is like. 

:: 19 : 52 ::

"A portrait of our children once a week, every week, in 2014."

It's been a pretty exciting week here in our house. Our girls had their 4th birthday! I've always loved the celebrations of family birthdays. But for these two it seems particularly special given the circumstances surrounding their very early arrival and the odds that were highly stack against their chances of a. surviving and b. surviving with no long-term complications. So, each year when this special day comes around we celebrate their beautiful, adventurous, imaginative, spunky little lives with hearts full of thankfulness for all that we walked through to this point. 

I loved the first shot of them here, half-dressed between PJs and clothes. I let them watch one of their current favourites on Youtube, Peppa Pig, as we got ready to go and meet some special people at a really sweet little café called The Cupcake Fairy Café. E's new jeans were falling down, so these bright braces did a good-enough job of keeping them up around her waist until we finally tracked down a belt later in the day ;o)

A: These glasses always get me. Love them! As well as the fun little girl, her self-decorated strawberry pink cupcake and strawberry milkshake in a sprinkle-rimmed bottle. What more could a 4 year-old want?! ;o) 

E: This sweet one is a true gift of grace to us. She gets right in and enjoys life - chocolate icing moustache and all! If you know her and have followed our story since her beginning, you will know that her first months were pretty tough. Pretty scary for us as parents to face the reality that we quite possibly wouldn't have had her with us. But she fought and she was protected and today her one vocal chord that works leaves her with a voice that is almost as soft as her heart.

T: He's the only one that plays along with the camera. While his sisters purposely ignore me/roll their eyes (!) he smiles and screws up his face. That he has blueberry pancake around his mouth makes him even cuter ;o) 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

:: 18 : 52 ::

"A portrait of our children once a week, every week, in 2014."

A: We had been anticipating our visit to this beloved Uncle and Aunt's home for weeks beforehand! They have just recently moved, not very far away from their last home. It was wonderful to spend time with them in their new little house that felt so very far away from the big city though it is actually quite close to the central city! They took us for a walk down to a bay very close to them that was so beautiful and quiet, with plenty of fun things for the girls to big tree trunks to walk along, rock pools to splash in and reeds to gather. Here's our adventurous Miss A walking confidently along a fallen tree trunk with her beloved and full-of-fun Aunty J :o)

E: Water is a magnet to this sweet little one! Wherever there is water, she will be there. Peppa Pig has also introduced her rather effectively to the art of jumping up and down in (muddy) puddles...therefore this is an experience that is enjoyed thoroughly whenever the opportunity arises :o) 

T: Today this little guy is 9 months old! I had to quickly run into a baby store on the way home yesterday to buy him a few size 1 tops as his current bodysuits are all reaching well above his wrists! This week has been rather momentous for us as, for the last three or four nights, he's gone to sleep with barely a peep of protest. After weeks and weeks of crying and crying and crying..(only at night time!) and with us at a loss to know why or what was best to do, he finally has realised that it really is going to be ok and he is now going off to sleep happily for the whole night. I can't say often enough what a sweet but courageous little man he is!

:: 17 : 52 ::

"A portrait of our children once a week, every week, in 2014."

A: Helping papa try out a new (papa) swing in our beloved tree of swings! (we're going to miss this tree!). Most of the fun was in being able to climb the ladder. I love Eti for this reason - that he allows the girls to do such things. He's always there, but it's so good for their confidence! 

E: Standing up on the top rung of the ladder and reaching the tree branch! This little one has no fear when it comes to adventures. She loves being outdoors, climbing, jumping, name it. And papa is has something new to try out.

T: Enjoying some cousin time at papa's birthday party. These two are 8 months apart in age and virtually wearing the same size in clothing. This little guy who adores his sisters and breaks into giggles if they give him even a few seconds of their attention, loved having another little person to interact with. As well as Oska, my parents' dog, who is the object of much affection from both of these little ones! Such sweethearts!