Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another year over!

I can't believe another year has passed by already...

2011 has been a year of healing for us. After losing two babies the year before (one from an ectopic pregnancy and one from a miscarriage), I started the year pregnant. I had a wonderful pregnancy and wasn't ready for it to end. Two weeks before my due date in June our precious boy, Gideon, was born in an exhilarating yet challenging homebirth. I faced a lot of my own demons while birthing him but managed to push through that and experience another amazing birth.

Gideon is truly our little miracle. We have spent the last 6 months holding him close and relishing our time with him. He has been in our arms the majority of his life. We are enjoying getting to know our little boy and seeing his personality emerge as he grows. He makes us smile everyday and is such a happy and content little boy.

Jacob had his final year of Kinder this year and we have seen some amazing changes in him this year. When I think back to how he was when he started kinder, he is a completely different boy. So much more social these days, interacting with his peers, and taking delight in all he does. I am so very thankful that we chose Steiner for his Kinder. He has been nurtured so much by his environment and his amazing Kinder teacher, who we credit for a lot of the positive changes in him. Next year will bring new challenges and fun with Jacob starting at the Steiner School. He's already impatiently asking when he can go to school!

Esme has changed a great deal this past year - she's become such a little girl. Or should I say 'tom-girl'? I've never known another kid who can create such a mess as her - the second she puts her clothes on in the morning she is filthy dirty!! She has such a strong personality these days and is very definate with what she wants (which leads to lots of clashes between her and Jacob!) She's very much the chatterbox - some days it's hard to get a word in! Esme starts little Kinder next year which she has been eagerly waiting for all this year (it's hard to get her to leave when we drop Jacob off these days).

It's been wonderful watching our family grow and seeing Esme and Jacob become big 'sister' and big 'brother' this year too. Jacob has really taken to the role and adores Gideon. There's nothing he won't do for his little brother. And I think the love is mutual too - Gideon always has a smile for Jacob whenever he sees him. Esme, on the other hand, likes to smother him a little too much!

As for me, I started back at work one day a week this year. I only made it to halfway through the year at work though due to having Gideon (I wasn't planning on being pregnant when I returned to work!) I really enjoyed the short time I had there though. I taught a class of 6 students all with physical and multiple disabilities. It was a different type of class to ones I have had previously so it presents new challenges and fun for me! I'm hoping to return to work for one day a week next year.

I have continued to volunteer for the Australian Breastfeeding Association this year. My main role this year has been that of co-group leader. I took myself off email and phone counselling halfway through this year so that I could focus on parenting my little baby. Actually, the day that Gideon was born was meant to be my last helpline shift! I had him about 45 minutes before my shift was due to start. Chris couldn't work out how to log me off so the phone kept ringing for ages until he figured it out!

Chris has continued to work as a technical assistant at Swinburne University. I think he's a little frustrated with his work at the moment though and would like to move on though. He's completing a three day chocolate course in a couple of weeks which is something he has wanted to do for ages. Maybe a career change to professional chocolatier?!

I'm really looking forward to 2012. It's going to bring some big changes for our family (and maybe a new business venture from me!) but it's going to be good! Bring it on!

Friday, December 30, 2011

More adventures in baby-led solids...

I remember the excitement we felt when Jacob started solids for the first time. I had so much much fun pureeing food and feeding it to him with a spoon. It didn't matter that he may not have been ready for solids - he was 6 months old and he was going to have food! By the time Esme came around we had discovered baby-led solids. We had a lot of fun watching her learn to eat by herself.

Now Gidoen is 6 months old and it's time for us to embark on the baby-led solids adventure with him too. I can't say I've been especially looking forward to this. It's taken me this long to realise that the time when a baby is feeding exclusively from the breast is a really special time. But I realise that Gideon is growing up and these changes are inevitable. Gideon has been giving us signs for quite a while that he is ready for food, he's been reaching, grabbing and trying to put food in his mouth for ages. In fact, a week or so before he was 6 months he grabbed a leaf of lettuce of my plate and started eating that!

Reaching for and grabbing food off Daddy - we can't stop him!

We haven't made a concerted effort to give Gideon food. Usually it's just whatever is taken off our plates or what we are eating at the time. He's tried a few different steamed vegies so far: potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli and a few different fruits: strawberries, banana, avocado and apple. So far the winner seem to be broccoli and apple. The apple is great because he will just gnaw on it and it seems to really help his sore gums. Broccoli is great because it's so easy for him to hold on to!

Me? Making a mess? Never!

I can't imagine doing solids any other way. Baby-led solids is an easy, hassle-free way to introduce solids and it means that the baby is free to go at their own pace instead of being made to eat food before they are ready. As long as you don't mind a bit of mess that is - but that's all part of the fun!!

video

PS. Apologies for the video on the side - it was taken on Chris' phone!

My biggest sewing project to date!

The completed card table playhouse - a solid week's worth of sewing!

This Christmas I decided to make a joint present for my friend's three children. I'd seen card table playhouses on Etsy before and decided that was what I wanted to make for them. Luckily, the person that made the playhouses also had patterns that could be purchased too (I don't always bother with patterns but for something this size I thought it would be helpful and cause me less stress!)

I don't think I realised before I started just how much work making this playhouse involved! It's relatively simple to make but working with the sheer amount of felt this project required was hard work (and a LOT of sewing!) Luckily, I was able to use invisible thread so didn't have to keep swapping everytime I sewed on a different coloured piece of felt.

This project was a solid week of work - sewing every opportunity I got (which is kind of limited when you have 2 kids and a baby that is constantly attached to you!) It means lots of late nights, and I am very grateful for my parents coming up for a day to look after the kids while I sewed! Anyway, thought I would share some photos of my achievements - I was very proud of my work in the end!

The front of the playhouse - the door opens and the mailbox also opens and shuts so letters can be posted.

The side of the playhouse - with curtains that can open and shut

The back of the playhouse - the fruit is attached by velcro so can be removed.

I'm hoping to make one of these for Esme for her birthday in the middle of the year too but for the moment I've had enough of these playhouses ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good-bye Cheeky


This morning I went to check on our pet bunny, Cheeky, and found her in a very bad way. She was flopped on her side in her cage looking really lethargic which is very unlike her. Usually whenever we walk into the laundry she puts her ears up and jumps up at the side of her cage to say hello. I took her out of her cage and she just laid on the floor. When she attempted to get up she just couldn't. Almost like she was paralysed.

I frantically rang Chris and he rang the rabbit clinic (which we are lucky to have very close by). In the meantime, I quickly got the kids ready to run out the door. We headed down and then discovered there was no vet on until later so we turned around and headed to another clinic. As I was driving, I was watching Cheeky's tummy rise as she was breathing. She was having more and more trouble breathing. Then I couldn't see it move anymore. I pulled the car over and picked her up. I think she was alive still at the point and she was moving her legs a tiny bit. I cuddled her and then she was gone.

There was no point heading to the vets anymore so we turned around and I drove home in tears. Kind of hard explaining to the kids what had happened. Although they were quite matter-of-fact about it all: 'Cheeky's died and now Mummy's sad'. I told them that they could pat her and say good-bye when we got home and that we would dig a hole and bury her in the backyard.

Our little friend has been with us for 3 years now and we are really going to miss her. She was our first bunny. She has been such a friendly little thing. She's often been out in the house, hopping around, nibbling on food the kids have left under their chairs at dinnertime (although we think that's what killed her in the end - eating some purple flowers that Esme had left under the table). We will miss feeding her dandelion flowers and having her greet us each morning. I will even miss having to clean her cage I think.

Good-bye Cheeky, may you hop freely wherever you are!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

To my little boy


6 months. That's how old you are today. These past months have gone so quickly yet it feels like you have been in our lives forever. We can't imagine life without you now. From the moment we found out we were pregnant with you we knew you were a blessing. After losing two babies, we finally realised what a precious miracle life is.

You have been in our arms constantly from the moment you were born. Simply because we didn't want to let you go. You sleep in our arms or the sling during the day and you sleep on my chest at night. I can count on one hand the amount of times you've slept by yourself. I love the comforting weight of you sleeping on my chest. Listening to those little snores as you sleep, feeling your chest move up and down, rubbing my face on your soft hair. People often ask me how I manage to sleep with you on me at night but it's really not a problem. I wouldn't have it any other way and I don't care how long you do this for because I know that you won't be little for long.

You are such a happy and content little baby. Whether this was meant to be your personality anyway, or whether it's because of how we parent you, I don't know. I'm inclined to believe it's a combination of both. Friends often comment on how they rarely hear you cry. Well, you do cry (trust me - you can't be a perfect angel all the time!) but you always calm down and smile when someone comes to talk to you or you are picked up. And even when you do cry it's not a loud cry, it's more of a 'someone come and pay me some attention' protest.

You are such a little socialite (you definitely don't take after me!) You love to watch people very intently. When they realise you are watching and turn to give you some attention you give them a big beaming smile. You adore your big brother and sister and always give them lots of smiles. But you are particularly fond of Jacob who will sit with you for ages and talk to you and play with you. Esme can be a bit rough with you sometimes although her silly antics often make you giggle, a real belly laugh which makes us all laugh too. You love to chat to us too and definitely make sure you're heard loud and clear in this busy house!

You are trying your hardest to crawl these days (probably because you just want to catch up to your big brother and sister!) You can get up on your hands and knees now but can't quite get the forward motion happening without falling on your face. You can get around quite well though by rolling and by scooting backwards.

I love the quiet times we share together. The times when your brother and sister are elsewhere and it's just us. Being silly with you and being rewarded by those beautiful smiles. Or watching your face as you sleep on my chest or snuggled up in the sling. I love that zonked out look - mouth half open, a tiny bit of dribble escaping from the corner of your mouth (usually being soaked up by me!) I love our quiet breastfeeds at night while the rest of the house sleeps, both of us drifting back to sleep as you feed.

Yes, I truly believe this is bliss.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cookies

This recipe comes courtesy of the cookbook my mother-in-law put together for us as a wedding present. They make really yummy, chewy biscuits. I put red and green glace cherries in to make them look more Christmas-y.

Ingredients

125g butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2tsps vanilla essence
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1/2tsp bi-carb soda
90g nuts, chopped (I used pecans and slivered almonds)
125g choc chips
90g shredded coconut
90g sultanas
90g glace cherries, chopped


Method

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and milk.

Sift together flour and bi-carb and stir into butter mixture. Add nuts, choc-chips, coconut, sultanas and cherries and mix well.

Place heaped teaspoonfuls on a greased biscuit tray (or line with baking paper), bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

Remove from oven and let cool on tray for 10 minutes before putting on a wire rack.


Enjoy :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Angels


These Christmas angels are very easy to make (although may require some adult help for construction) and look great. The kids had a really fun time decorating them and can't wait to hang them on the Christmas tree (when we finally get around to getting our Christmas tree that is!)

What you will need:

Thin cardboard
silver foil
small Styrofoam ball
small paper doilies
toothpicks (if desired)
black texta
scissors
glue or sticky tape
glitter or tinsel
ribbon or wool
pin

How to make it:

Draw a circle with a diameter of about 20cm on the cardboard and cut out (I just traced around a bread plate).

Cover with silver foil (or you can leave it plain).

Cut a slit into the centre of the circle.

Roll the circle into as tight a cone as possible.

Get the kids to decorate!

Fold the doily in half and glue to the back of the angel.

Use black texta to draw a face on the styrofoam ball (older kids could do this themselves but mine couldn't). Poke the toothpick into the ball and put through the top of the cone (you may need to make the hole bigger). Glue into place.

Make a halo for the angel out of tinsel and glue onto head.

Attach a loop of ribbon or wool and pin to the angel's head (if you want to hang them on the christmas tree!)

Esme busy putting glitter on her angels - we like a lot of glitter in this house!!

Jacob chose to cover his in silver foil first then put glitter and tinsel on

Esme with her finished angels, very proud of her work!

Jacob with his finished angels

It's a great way to keep the kids entertained - Jacob spent ages doing his (although can't say the same about Esme - she was more interested in what Daddy was doing outside!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Beaded Christmas Angels


I came across instructions for these beaded Christmas angels in a craft shop I was visiting recently and had to give them a go! They are really easy to make and make great, personalised christmas decorations to hang on your Christmas tree.

Instructions

Materials:
round letter beads
60 (approx) small beads
40 (approx) medium beads
2 large beads
24g wire (in either gold or silver)
round nosed pliers
wire cutters

Body:
Using 1 metre (approx) of wire, thread on your letter beads and medium beads and centre them. On the left wire add 8 medium beads then using right wire thread through beads from the other direction. Pull firmly and centre on wire. Continue each row like this until the last two beads (each row decreases by 1 bead). Then use larger body bead as row 1. The leftover wire forms wings and arms (put aside)




Head:
Using 25cm (approx) wire, thread on 15-20 small beads. Put wire together and thread through large head bead. Now thread left wire through one side of the body bead and right wire through other side of body bead. Pull tight (this joins them together).

Arms:
Using 1 wire coming out of body, thread on 10 small beads (same as halo). Use your round nose pliers to make a loop to secure the end. Repeat for the other arm.



Wings:
Using 1 wire coming out of body bead, thread on 20-25 small beads. Thread back through body bead. Repeat for other side. Secure by twisting both wires together.


*NOTE: I used 4mm beads, 6mm beads and 8mm beads for my angel. You could probably make it with slightly smaller beads for the arms, wings and halo and slightly larger beads for the body and head*
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