Sunday, 13 April 2014

15/52 - boy's night out



Lily

Well, we made it! The very first full term of school is done.

Now we have two glorious weeks with our girl at home... we have missed her cheery presence around here. She is very ready for this break and so are we. Hooray for lazy days with no school bell dictating our time!

Well done, little lady, on transitioning so well into your first term of school. You have handled it all with grace and bravery. It is a big step for a little girl. Not so little anymore, it seems... you are transforming before my eyes.





Eli

With the new Lego Movie coming out, Mark was keen to take Eli out for a special 'boy's night out' to see it. Of course, I think Mark would have happily gone along without Eli, but having a kid is a convenient excuse!! ;) 

To say Eli was excited would be an understatement. He was so thrilled to get to go out at night with just Dad. He came home so hyped up on jelly snakes and general excitement, he could barely form a sentence to tell me about all the fun.

You could feel the joy radiating off him - he just loved having a special time out just with Dad. That quality-time cup just got filled to the brim - and overflowing.


Photos taken on Mark's phone



Miles

Whilst tidying the room, I turn around to see Miles splayed out on the bed, feet kicking in the air, just chilling with Daddy's (switched off) phone. 

Or perhaps he has turned it on and is texting with his friends?

Who can tell with kids these days??!! ;)






Mark


'Thank you' cuddles from Eli, for taking him to see the Lego movie.

Yup, when it comes to fatherhood, this guy has got it sorted. How awesome it is to parent alongside such a loving and involved father. He makes every step of this journey so much better.

These kids are so blessed to have him!



Project 52: A portrait with my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.



More highlights from the week that was...

Yay for the Lego Movie (they both said it was awesome)

Of course a special outing with Daddy requires a special treat of junk food - chips and
nuggets, if you please!

He totally gets this from his Dad!! When you are just so happy and chilled out you
have to lie back and half-sleep whilst eating ;)


E set the animals up in quite a procession!

'Do you mind, Mum?? I'm just facetiming w some friends'
'Ok, cool - see ya at the park in five'
Following along with '30 Days to Transform Your Play' from the inspiring An Everyday Story blog run by my clever friend Kate. Well, we are dipping in and out as we can! It's been a great motivation to extend and enhance the kid's play
in new directions.



She does not need much (or any!) guidance. She has big ideas and a whole lot of determination to bring them to
fruition. Coming across a piece of bubble wrap I had dropped into their 'busy box' she has worked all week to turn it into
a 'jumping castle'... as a nifty addition to last week's water fountain. She then informed me she is actually creating a whole 'world', with house and people and so on... and what a world it will be :)


Preparing the toppings for the kid's favourite meal - home made pizzas!! Even better when shared with friends - we were
blessed with my dear old friend Vicki coming to stay over the weekend :)

He was absolutely determined to decorate his pizza like this. Totally satisfied with the
outcome and content to eat it as it was. Oh, Eli!

This man loves his pizzas... cooked to perfection on the BBQ (enclosed, on a pizza stone - it's delish!). He also loves
his jumbo spatula!!





Sunday, 6 April 2014

14/52 - oh, eli!


Lily

Her first home-reader. The Goats.

Pretty sure it won't be on any best-seller lists, and okay, the vocabulary was pretty very limited but still...

watching my daughter slowly, carefully read her own way through her very first book was every shade of awesome.

This flourishing reader thing? It's magical. It's just taken me by surprise, how amazing it would be to watch it unfurl. She is like a heat-seeking missile searching out the written word in all it's forms and I just love to watch her embrace the world of literacy!

PS Readings of The Goats shall be taking place at our home, 7pm, all this week. Tickets available via Ticketek.





Eli 

Lucky me, got to be 'parent helper' at Eli's playschool this week.

He was thrilled to have me there and it was lovely to see how comfortably he has fitted himself into this new world of school. I am sure having the most caring and creative teacher in the world helps too (Amber!). 

I loved seeing him hang out with his buddies, follow the school routine and in a myriad of other ways show me what a big boy he has become.

Best of all was him telling me a dozen times how much he loved having me there with him :)

He is stepping out.... watch out world!




Miles

Ready to celebrate the first birthday of his best buddy, Blake, he was also pretty fascinated 
with the colourful pinata!







Mark

Whipping up a batch of Banana, Berry and Coconut pancakes, as is his Saturday morning routine... 

Yummm - thanks, honey!



Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2013.




 More highlights from the week that was...


A beautiful sensory experience with dinosaurs at Playschool
Nothing quite like coming home from the gym to find the family engaged in a little pre-bed craft activity (making a
water fountain, apparently).
Lately, she has been offering to do 'babysitting'. Of course, I quickly accept!! She takes Miles and hauls him around the house and garden. They giggle and play and enjoy their flourishing bond. How lovely it is to have a mini-mama! Having a big enough age gap to witness this kind of relationship is just so cool.
 


Breakfast

We decided to play a fun little April Fool's prank by dying the milk Blue. The
kids gave us some serious side-eye at this bizarre circumstance, whilst we
giggled away. Oh, the things parent's do to amuse themselves!
Eli helps pick the first bounty from our vegie patch - a lovely bunch of kale that
was quickly made into kale chips and eaten in a jiffy!



Love our little weekly school-snack bake-up together. My taste-tester takes his task seriously!

So many beautiful moments with E this week but this was the highlight... 

His beloved Bee went AWOL a few months ago. Bee slowly moved from 'misplaced' to apparently 'lost for good'. Eli asked about him every now and then but I had no idea what happened, and secretly planned to buy a replacement for his birthday. Then we got a surprise from awesome Uncle Iain! They had discovered Bee hiding under the bed from our stay on January 1st!!! Iain kindly posted him back with an adorable note of explanation from Bee as to his absence. These beautiful expressions pretty much explain Eli's utter surprise and glee... and Bee has not left his side since. Welcome back, Bee!


The moment of recognition... 'Mama!! It's Bee!!!'


Thursday, 3 April 2014

a family celebration plate // appreciating you


A little dream and a loooong hunt finally accumulated in this little item arriving in the post this week...


(Sorry about the dodgy asterisks! I try to keep my surname off the blog)


A 'family celebration' plate was something I started looking for a couple years ago. I thought it would be easy to find but hours spent (over a year!!!) trawling the interwebz intermittently still brought me up empty - at least in the style, size and material I wanted. Finally, after digging and digging through the wonderland that is Etsy, I found Tanya at Zinnia Designs who does custom ceramics - and I liked her style! I contacted the lovely owner and asked if she could custom make the plate I saw so clearly in my mind's eye. She said yes and was just wonderful to work with, patiently bringing my vision into fruition! :) It was a long and winding road with some (postal) hiccups along the way, but at last this precious little gem arrived! And I love it!! Ain't it pretty? Very simple, just as I wanted. I now have some hesitation in actually using this precious thing, but indeed we must!

My hopes/plans for this little plate are two fold...

Firstly - a Celebration Plate. I want to create a family tradition of pulling out this lovely plate for times of celebration. Not only for birthdays, but also first days of school, various achievements, milestones, to simply recognise character development, and so on. In our family we love to celebrate each other and this little plate will be a lovely visual way to do that habitually. Whoever is being celebrated gets to eat from this plate during our family dinners, and bask in the glow of adoration from the rest of their family ;)






My second hope/plan is to use it as an Appreciation Plate. 

This idea certainly does not require a fancy dish! If you want to try this too, any old plate from an op-shop or wherever could do, you just want a plate that looks a bit different to the rest of your dinner plates. I got the concept from a very dear family whom I stayed with a few times in Minnesota, USA - many moons ago now, when I was single and childfree! This family of five are a wonderfully godly, loving and hospitable clan who gave me many visions of what I hoped my own family life might be some day. (And now here we are - wow!). I still have such fond memories of my days spent in snowy Minnesota!

One ritual they had was using an 'appreciation plate' each night at dinner. This 'special red plate' got rotated around the whole family (parents included) and whoever got the plate each night, the rest of the family would say something they appreciated about that person. Yeah, even as a nineteen year old, my heart just melted into a big old puddle, seeing young siblings saying kind things to each other. I even got to have the plate one night and was so touched by the kind and cute things the kids said :) I tucked that sweet idea away and here we are years later, with kids of my own who are finally old enough to start playing along! I don't expect we will do this every night forever, but more so as something we will bring to the table (ha!) for seasons as we feel the need.

It's a little hard to read, but 'Bind us together, Lord' is inscribed on the back. Mark and I have these words
engraved inside our wedding rings. Now almost a decade later, they are engraved on this family treasure. Wow - God is good. He is what binds us so tightly. The words are from a beautiful hymn we sing at church and have always loved. 'Bind us together, Lord, with cords that cannot be broken. Bind us together, with love'. Amen to that!


When I think about the skills I want to help develop in my children, one strong theme is to help them be fluent in communicating - fluent in appreciation, genuinely building up, resolving conflict, and sharing authentic feelings. This little nightly ritual will be another tool to help build up that skill. As we all know, sibling relationships (well, all family relationships!) can be fraught with tension, hurt feelings, and the wearing down from the nitty gritty of daily life together. Through all that, I want my children, our family, to be still comfortable in being able to say to each other 'This is what I appreciate about you. This is what I love about you. This is what I like about you. This is a strength I see in you.' Too often these good things can go unsaid, whilst harsh words and criticism flow freely! :(

I hope that by giving the kids plenty of practise now, it may stretch those little hearts for use in many years to come. I want us all to be comfortable speaking this language of encouragement. For tender and uplifting words to roll easily from our tongues - not to feel awkward in speaking kindness to those we love the most. And not only between siblings! I want them to practise showing appreciation for their dear ol' parents ( we are people too!). I want to make a regular habit of showing them how much we (their parents) also appreciate them. And hey - the kids even get to see Mummy and Daddy show appreciation to each other!  Yah, it's a regular appreciation-fest, I think you get the gist, no need for a diagram, haha ;)

We have started to introduce this little routine to our nightly family dinner table in the last few nights. For all my grand ideas, of course the kids have even better ones! After the family went around and said things we appreciated about Eli and were about to move on, he piped up and said 'Wait, it's my turn!!'. Well, I wasn't sure what he meant but then he proceeded to say something he appreciated - about himself!!!!!! LOVE IT. Why not? Why not give them space to stop, reflect and share a strength they can recognise about themselves! (He said he did a good job cleaning up his room that day). The next night when it was Lily's turn she squealed when she saw the plate at her seat. She was so thrilled and felt so special. After we all said our things about her (Eli told her she did a good job cheerfully trying a new dinner she was unsure about - it was so cute!), and it was time for her to do herself, she was like 'Oh, there's so many things I like about myself!' then rattled off four things. Oh, the unbashed self-confidence of children, lol!!!






Yes, yes, I am a sentimental soul, no doubt!! Mock if you will! ;) But I am just so happy about this simple little plate. And more than a mere plate, I am grateful  for God's blessing of family and thankful for little traditions and rituals that bind us ever closer. When it comes to my family, there is so very much to appreciate and celebrate... and during the hum drum, exhausting, challenging or just 'arrgghhh' kind of days, I don't want any of us to forget that. We are richly blessed to have one another.




PS If you come over to dinner, you will get the Appreciation Plate! xx






Saturday, 29 March 2014

13/52 - savouring faces and spaces



Lily

'Ta-da!!!'

(Showing off her efforts, trying to colour in the entire wall in sparkle chalk) 

The first term of school is inching towards the end - and the exhaustion is setting in as the new normal takes its toll on my girl. A quiet home day was called for this week - a day for Lily to potter around contentedly at her art desk, chill out with her siblings and just have some down time. School is such an exciting and exhausting experience, I thoroughly believe a few well timed home-days are crucial along the way to maintain the enthusiasm for learning!

It was like the old days, having my three at home again for an easy, cosy day together. I liked it, I liked it a lot.






Eli

Intently telling  me all about his playdough creation. 

I love how much he loves to invite me into his world. He is an open book, this boy - a book I love to read!




Miles

Just can't get enough of this face.

Oh, baby boy. These are bittersweet days. I love seeing you grow, flourish and change. But oh, oh, oh it's hard for me to leave your precious baby days behind.





Mark

Love when we get to go places all together. 

Love glancing over, when we are separately socialising, knowing this lovely man is mine. 



Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.



More highlights from the week that was...


Graffiti (chalk) Artist caught in the act. An adorable act of creativity, that is!


Before school cuddle/wrestle/farewell


The vegie patch... it's like... actually growing!! A miracle :) The Kale is looking lush, thanks to all this rain!



Harper and Lily. They adore each other.
'Let's call out to the Daddies!!'
This. It's his cheeky face.

Like father, like son.