Category Archives: Family milestones

The joys of four

The children are in bed and I sit in the dark, listening to their breathing, slow and regular. It’s 9.15pm but it feels like midnight.

Overhead, the ceiling fan whizzes at top speed. We’re also using the wall vent tonight because everyone has crammed into our bedroom and we need as much air as possible. It’s Labour Day tomorrow and kids get to crash here on weekends and public holidays. They look forward to that so much.

The big bed is surrounded by three mattresses, one on each side. When I walk to the bathroom I have to make sure I don’t step on an arm or a leg.

But I don’t mind. Not now.

The sounds of the night float in through the open window – crickets in the garden and some distant traffic, almost imperceptible.

I rest against the pillows, inhale deeply and look for a long time at the velvety purple night sky. Tonight nobody’s working late in the office block across the street and there aren’t any lights to spoil the view. The darkened form of the trees create a lovely jagged border just outside the window and make me feel I could touch them if only I tried.

My shirt hangs loose. It’s well worn, having survived two pregnancies and has a faint smell of milk. My hair’s still wet and straggly after a shower, one of those quick as lightning ones because Roo couldn’t wait much longer for bed.

But I don’t mind. Not now.

Before I can slip out of the room, Roo wakes and wants to nurse. I settle next to her in the big bed and we cuddle, close. She’s teething and I know she’ll wake more often these days and want to nurse for comfort.

I recall the time when I was a new mama and frequent night-wakings were as perplexing as they were frustrating. Now, I know about babies needing to cluster feed so I’ve given up trying to leave the room for as long as Roo needs to nurse. Now, I lie down and nurse her for what must be the fourth time in two hours and read my Bible on YouVersion. And when I finish, I’ll write on my phone. Or just sleep, knowing the next night-waking will come again soon.

I don’t mind. Not now.

Now, my heart is full of thankfulness. I meditate on our blessings, lying asleep peacefully all around me, wanting to be near me. The moments that I feel like shaking them off for all their many requests and prolonged boisterous play seem so far away.

Now, I just want to hold each one as close as I can and never let go. The unfolded laundry can wait until after midnight when I’ll creep out to finish my work or be left for tomorrow when I have more energy.

Roo stirs, grabs my finger as she nurses and holds on tight. I reflect on the joy and laughter of the day, on the occasional grumblings but the more frequent, happy chatter of news exchanges and general conversation.

I think of Tuesday this week, Roo’s first excursion to the neighborhood park in the evening with her three siblings.

Anna at park

Then further back to giggly, tender moments at home, captured on my phone camera and repeated in a myriad of ways every day.

Two siblings

I recall the evening we brought Roo home from the hospital, when the kids came home from a long day out with their aunt and crept quietly into this same room to meet their new baby sister for the very first time.

The exultation, the sheer happiness.

The waiting to become a family of six.

First meeting babe

Roo unlatches, turns her head and goes back to sleep. I come back to the present and roll away a little to look at her. I marvel again at the newness of life. I think of beginnings, the excitement of fresh discoveries and growing-up milestones. I think of infinite God-filled resources that help me to love and to be patient, more than today. That help me to accept Jesus’ forgiveness for my failings and to be contented to wait, especially in seasons like this.

Soon, I’ll step out and head downstairs to fix the hunger and thirst that invariably comes after nursing.

But I’m in no hurry. Not now.

Now, I’ll sit here a little while longer and just enjoy the night, the quiet, and the joys that four children bring.

 

Puppy: 8yo; Lamb: 5.9yo; Piglet: 3.4yo; Roo: 4mos.

Getting it

I just love watching our children learn. That moment, the moment when he or she “gets it”, is priceless.

Like recognising a letter sound on a billboard for the first time.

Or blending a word he’s never seen before, all on his own.

I remember the time we were wandering around the Aquaria and Lamb pulled at my arm and said, “Look! That’s a spider crab!”

And so it was!

He read the sign, high above our heads.

spider crab

That was on 25 March 2013, a few months before he turned 5. He was jumping up and down with his independent discovery and I was as thrilled as he was.

That was about 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Roo, before all-day morning sickness kicked in.

With unrelenting nausea day and night for 5 months and the aches and sleep difficulties of the third trimester, learning together at our usual pace became a struggle. We straggled on with Jolly Grammar and other aspects of homeschool for the greater part, but there were many days we – mostly I – pushed grammar aside and just tried to get by. In the months toward the end of pregnancy, I often hung up the teacher’s hat, lay down on the couch and simply did lots of read-alouds. I couldn’t manage more.

At the time, Lamb was already reading the advanced levels of Peter and Jane with little or no help from me but I felt a tinge of guilt on most days and more on crabbier days. He wasn’t getting any other schooling and here we were, just reading lots of stories and playing games at home for almost 3 months.

I really shouldn’t have worried.

After Roo arrived in early December, we had a complete break from school for a few weeks and although we started again by fits and starts in the first week of January, Lamb had consistently been looking very intently at books here and there on his own every day while Puppy immersed herself in Little House books, The Famous Five and re-read her favourite books in Sonlight Cores A and B.

I finally figured he was getting onto something serious when the whole family accompanied me to the doctor at 8 weeks post-partum to check on some unusual bleeding. There was a cartoon showing on the TV in the waiting area, but Lamb gave barely a look before heading for a children’s book he saw on the reading rack and proceeded to read through it.

“Is he reading the words or just the pictures?” I wondered.

The answer came shortly after when he picked up one of Puppy’s favourite Enid Blyton books and swung into full-on independent reading mode.

He’d curl up in a corner any chance he had.

Reading in a corner

On our bed.

Reading on the bed

Reading in CNY suit

At the meal table, until I asked him to put the book away. Even then, he tucked it behind the magazine rack, right next to himself.

Reading at the table

He’d come up to me and tell me how much he enjoyed a particular story he had finished reading, what he found funny about it, how naughty the characters were and the conversations they had.

I knew, then, that he had clinched it.

Today, it was all about how “rude” Georgina of The Famous Five was, how shocking it was that she was a girl but wanted to be a boy.

Surrounded by avid readers, Piglet’s been reading a lot more too.

Here they are.

Piglet reading Bible

Lamb’s actually reading every word (asking me about words he can’t figure out on his own) and Piglet – well, the sight of Piglet reading the New Living Translation of the Bible (not really) just cracks me up!

In our conversations these days, Lamb is beginning to use words he finds in books. “Swooped”. “Glanced”.

Watching my boy “get it”, cracking the reading code and enjoying books all on his own, is like the exhilarating moment you take trainer wheels off a bicycle and let the kid go.

He’s going, he is. And like Puppy before him, I know there’ll be no stopping.

Keep going, Lamb. A whole world awaits you!

 

Puppy: 6.10yo; Lamb: 5.7yo; Piglet: 3.1yo; Roo: 2mo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in 2 months

Do you sometimes get the feeling that life is overtaking you?

The last couple of months, I did.

During my recent pregnancy check up at 25 weeks, I found I’d gained 4 kgs in 4 weeks. Four kilos! I’ve been pregnant 3 times before, but I’ve never gained at a rate as quickly as this.

Not that I worry about getting fat (the least of my concerns), but that explains why I’ve been feeling so heavy of late.

And why every time I perform a task, I feel like an elephant is sitting on top of me.

Every effort at the sink to wash dishes and every bend at the countertop to fix snacks and prepare meals has been giving me a backache. I try keeping good posture most of the time but when I’m doing kitchen work as often as I do, I suppose some strain becomes inevitable.

It feels that much more exhausting, trying to get to the park every morning, loading the stroller and lifting two-and-a-half year old Piglet into his car seat.

Then there are those familiar, excruciating leg cramps that wake me up at night and keep me awake for quite awhile after.

Interrupted sleep, trying to turn my torpedo-shaped belly over, trying to get back to sleep again.

Then, waking to another full day of homeschooling and homemaking.

This was considered an artistic venture by our little people. Makes me go "Oooo!" and "Aaargh!" at the same time

This was considered an artistic venture by our little people. Makes me go “Oooo!” and “Aaargh!” at the same time

And going through it over, and over, and over again.

So I said “no” to blogging and social media until I felt my engine had recovered enough.

Saying “no” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because sometimes even the good things can bog us down. The good can become the enemy of the best.

Doing my duty to our family and being cheerful about it hasn’t always – and still isn’t – the easiest thing.

On many days I feel like turning into a green monster at some point. Like when there is a pee-pee mess in the toilet I just cleaned, or when someone is “trying to poo” on someone else when I’m spending just a few minutes trying to clear my inbox. For crying out loud!

After a strenuous July, August began with a lot of griping on my part. Then it proceeded to the realisation that I could either make the worst of the next few months or turn them into the best times to remember.

Most importantly, I woke up again to the fact that complaining is a grevious injury to a God who is always good. Always.

God has blessed me with all those little things in life that go mostly unnoticed under the radar of today’s fast-paced, instant-food, career-centered, technology-centered existence.

The delight of many beautiful mornings, dry and wet, outdoors with little ones. Hunting for snails. Doing primate exercises. Soaking up wondrous Vitamin D and fresh air. Playing frisbee and play pretend ship.

Lamb's regular pull-up challenge

Lamb’s regular pull-up challenge

Learning how to make kefir and watching everyone get a good kick out of germs. If you haven’t heard of kefir and its amazing health benefits, check out this link.

Kefir before it is strained. Chilled kefir is a wonderfully refreshing nightcap before bedtime

Kefir before it is strained. Chilled kefir is a wonderfully refreshing nightcap before bedtime. Puppy says it tastes like “beer”. Piglet loves lifting his kefir glass and shouting “Tips!!!” (a.k.a. “Cheers!”)

Finding satisfaction in more things homemade like yogurt cheese, wholewheat thins, cheese biscuits, banana tea loaves, and learning how to make my bread nice and fluffy.

Wholewheat thins topped with yogurt cheese. These can be addictive!

Wholewheat thins topped with yogurt cheese. These can be addictive!

Ice lollies (20Aug13)

Yogurt ice lollies with cranberries and chocolate bits

Stepping out of ourselves to share joy with others – facilitating a 7-week Marriage Course, supporting Sweet Man in planning a Family Camp for a great bunch of people, and connecting with parents at a Focus on the Family parenting talk 2 weeks ago.

Parenting? I was a whole bunch of nerves because Sweet Man and I feel so raw and green to be presenting on such a subject, but apparently it went well. There was even a reader of this blog in the audience. Yikes! Who knew? Our topic was “Love Them, and Let Them Know”.

Making origami with the kids on wet evenings.

These brought back fond memories of one of our favourite Sonlight read alouds, Mr Popper’s Penguins

These brought back fond memories of one of our favourite Sonlight read alouds, Mr Popper’s Penguins

There have been other good things.

Returning to a fresh dependency on God who makes all things possible. When the Hulk begins emerging from the depths within, there is nothing more needed than a miracle via a lightning bolt prayer.

Watching Piglet’s growing independence, self esteem and joy in accomplishing tasks.

Piglet brushes his own teeth in the mornings, takes his dirty dishes to the sink, unloads the dryer, buckles himself up in the car seat and insists he is ready for Jolly Phonics

Piglet brushes his own teeth in the mornings, takes his dirty dishes to the sink, unloads the dryer, buckles himself up in the car seat and insists he is ready for Jolly Phonics

Feeling a reemergence of pregnancy nausea because of fatigue but being inspired by child-drawn love notes on a difficult morning when I want to stay another 2 hours in bed.

Reorganising homeschool supplies, putting our upstairs in order again after our house tenant finished her term, and tweaking our home schedule to make it work better for everyone.

Our new homeschool Focus Board. I’ll share it soon in an upcoming post

Our new homeschool Focus Board. I’ll share it soon in an upcoming post

Life’s been tiring. But oh so good.

Note to self: Remember that. Everyday.

 

What are some things that have kept you going?