life

Thankful Thursday

On the way home from a very busy day, I got to thinking that I’m incredibly lucky. So I wanted to take a minute to reflect on that.

I’m thankful for my awesome kids, who provide many challenges and opportunities for me to grow, but give me so much love and affection in return.

Lake Mangamahoe
Lake Mangamahoe

I’m thankful that I was able to make it to the lookout today – the view was great, but the feeling of accomplishment was perhaps a little better. Normally it’s all water, but we’ve been very short on rain lately. I’ve never seen the lake so low.

I’m thankful for the blackberries we picked, which are now in a pie in the oven.

I’m thankful for my supportive and awesome husband (he gets bonus points because he’s out buying wine for me as I type).

I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends and family we have along with us on our home schooling journey, they make it so much richer.

I’m thankful for my writer friends, most of whom have crossed the bridge from ‘writer friends’ to ‘friends’, but for some reason I call them writer friends to all those not in the loop so that it helps them place these people in my life.

WP_000403And I’m grateful for this kiddo today, a lot, because she is sweet and she’s hit that beautiful point where she is confident enough to pull me up if I have said I’d do something, and forgotten, without making it a big deal or a guilt trip. She is wise enough to tell the difference between when I am saying no because I really can’t do the thing she wants, and when I’m saying it because I just need a little more encouragement. And because sometimes she lets me have my way just because she loves me and wants to make my life easier – though will stand her ground and make sure I know when something is truly important to her.

She has her priorities, she is developing this fantastic sense of who she is, of what justice and fairness looks like, and of how she wants to operate in the world. I adore her strength, her conviction, her determination, her sense of self.

I am very lucky. And yes, she did pick that flower for me – purple is my favourite colour. She’s also a details girl.

I may not be writing again yet, but I’m feeling pretty good about where life is at. I hope you’re all having an awesome day, and that you know I’m also thankful for you ๐Ÿ™‚

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Change is afoot

Over the last several months my husband and I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking, reading, learning, and soul searching. Because we’ve had this problem, you see, and it just didn’t seem like it was going away, at least not without compromising and doing things that we weren’t entirely comfortable with.

The problem was that our eldest was unhappy. Hugely unhappy. Crying every day for hours, wishing that she could just hide under a rock, unhappy. And this unhappiness also showed itself in anger, and frustration, and raging against the world for no particular reason that we could fathom. It meant conflict about everything as she struggled with life. And all of these un-fun emotions were being directed at our family.

I just want to make it clear that Ivy is NOT the problem. But her misery was. We needed to help her. To find a way to make the world make more sense to her. It is not okay for a child of seven to be feeling like the world is a terrible place. We love her dearly and it was heartbreaking to know she was feeling like this. And so we got help, which included therapy sessions every week for the last four months, a fair few tests to see if they could figure out what was going on, and finally, a trial of some medication for ADD which they determined is the cause of Ivy’s struggles.

Except the medication didn’t work as I was told it would. In fact it had the opposite effect which suggests she doesn’t have ADD, though they are leaving her with that diagnosis for now. I took her off it as quickly as I could – neither of us were thrilled about trying them to begin with, but we got what we wanted from it.

On reflection, with this diagnosis of ‘ADD’ and the discovery that she has difficulty focusing in a classroom environment, and the knowledge that while she was holding herself together during class, she losing it within moments of school finishing, we realized that maybe the real problem here was school. It was a huge contributor to her misery. And we decided (after lots of consideration) that what we wanted to do was home school her.

Prior to this, I’d had thoughts about pulling her out of school approximately 10 times in the last couple of years. Incidences would crop up, things that made me uncomfortable but weren’t big enough issues, or solid enough to really place my finger on the cause, but there, all the same. But school is what a lot of people do, and I had never really considered being a home schooling mum, and didn’t I want a career at some point in the near future? And didn’t I desperately need the break from Ivy’s misery that those hours at school gave me?

Well, I did. Until I realized that so much of our conflict revolves around school. Until I realized that in the school holidays, when it’s her at home, being a part of the family, she’s actually really happy and I love being around her. I can and will still have a career at some point, but my time as a stay at home mum has now been extended by a few years, and that’s fine.

In fact, I’m really freaking excited about this. I have so many plans, and every time I talk to Ivy about it she comes up with plans of her own, and we bounce ideas and I can see her brain working overtime, being creative and being excited about learning, which is so wonderful to see because she’s been so resistant to regular schooling.

One of the things I think is important to gift to our children is an innate sense of curiosity about the world. Creativity, a desire to learn and explore and the skills with which to do those things under your own steam. And I can see that already. I can see she has the desire, and I can be the one to teach her the skills she needs.

We’re going to be embarking on an amazing adventure. Not just for her, but for our whole family. Lauren is thrilled that Ivy will be home and is keen to get in on the learning. Natalie will enjoy it too, and Ivy… She is so happy. She can’t wait to get started and has been telling everyone she can about it.

It’s going to be very interesting finding a new groove once we get the exemption certificate through. But I can’t help but be filled with hope. It feels like finally we’re onto a winning thing. Finally, we can help Ivy follow her passions, encourage her dreams and support her in learning the way that suits her best. Very exciting. Very exciting indeed.

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Why there is no time.

I have been trying for days to get a real blog post done, but it just never seems to happen. My arms are frequently full of children and you know what? I like it. Not that I didn’t like it before but I guess this time I reallyย know that these early weeks go by so fast and this is my last go round on the newborn train.

Finding time for the youngest is actually pretty difficult. Ivy has a big personality, certain chunks of the day revolve around her – before school prep, drop offs/pick ups, homework, bed time routine. Lauren still needs a lot of mummy time (and is still dominating my night times), being just under 2, and so the only time I really get one on one with Natalie is when Lauren is having her day nap.

Which is also really the only time in the day that I might have to get some writing done.

So right now, the choice I’m making is to bond with baby and enjoy these newborn snuggles while I can. I keep looking at her, watching to see who is emerging. She feels so much like Lauren at times that I can’t help but feel like they are going to be really similar. She sleeps heaps better, she doesn’t have the reflux issues that Lauren had, they look similar but not the same – it’s the feel of her though, they just feel so much like each other. When I’m holding her, I often think I have Lauren.

What will be interesting to see is whether they retain this ‘feel’ as they grow, or whether it’s just that the only baby I’ve had before now was Lauren and all babies have the same kind of feel – anyone with an opinion on this?

Anyways, I do often think about writing. I have so much I want to get done, so much to work on, but none of that is as pressing as enjoying my children. A few months ago I might have been frustrated or annoyed at the amount of downtime I have, but now I’m simply enjoying it while it lasts. Sure, I do wish I could get more writing done, but I know it’ll come in time.

That said, I am hoping I can finish this chapter this week. ย It’s been lingering far too long and I think I only need a decent half hour or so to finish it off. I was reading a friends blog the other day about her process for writing the novel she’s working on. She writes the first draft of one chapter a week, then edits that the next week before she writes the next chapter. It sounded like something worth trying – I wonder what my finished product would look like if I tried it that way? Something to give a go when I have the time, and when I have the brain power to actually outline better because I think you’d need to if working that way ๐Ÿ˜‰

How are you all anyway? I am reading, if not commenting as much as I would like.

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I survived the school holidays

I need a mug. Or a t-shirt or something.

Okay, to be honest it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be – but by the end of the second week we were all very ready for a return to the normal routine. Ivy was in need of more activity/stimulation, Lauren was in need of some more time not being bossed around by her big sister, and I was well and truly ready for some slower paced, quieter days!

Thank goodness they are back. At least for now.

Amazingly, the last week was the more productive of the two, and I managed to get four short stories out the door. I’m trying my best not to inbox watch, and just focusing on the other things that need doing rather than the things that are completely out of my control.

With the start of the second term comes the beginning of another count down – baby is due at the end of this one. Last term went by really quickly, and I imagine this one will as well. Everywhere I look there are little reminders: 75 days on one ticker, 2 months and 15 days by another website I frequent. I’m feeling more excited by these numbers, though if I stop to think about it I could let it stress me out.

Anyway. I’m happy. Things seem to be settling back to normal and I’m thrilled about that. Here’s hoping I can get a few more short stories out this term.

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Ug, maybe I can’t do it

NaNoWriMo that is. I’ve totally fallen off the wagon, writing only one day in the last week! Everything is messy here, everyone has been sick and I’m so tired, most of the weekend was spent out of the house and there just seems to be no time at all.

Or rather, when the baby sleeps, there are other demands on my time.

I do want to write, and I intend to get back into it today, but I think I’m officially declaring that ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo is no longer my intention. I’m not going to kill myself to reach the 50,000 word mark. Instead I’m just going to enjoy writing as much as I can, when I do get the chance.

And sleep when I need to.

I’ve noticed over this last week that I’ve been feeling more introverted. I’m using the net less, blogging less, checking into the various forums I’m a member of less, I’ve barely twittered in days and force myself to check in but usually end up closing tweetdeck without looking through the backlog or tweeting myself. This seems to be a natural part of the pregnancy process for me, a retraction of the ethereal threads of myself so that I can focus the energy where it really needs to be. On the baby. On Ivy. On Lauren. That’s really my world right now. Getting through each day and enjoying the children I have in the world while I grow the child in my womb.

The writing is still going to happen. Just not as quickly.

And tomorrow afternoon we get to find out when baby is due ๐Ÿ™‚

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Parenting stuff: sleep overs

Now… whose got kids? I really need some help sorting out the thoughts in my brain right now. Ivy has been obsessing about ‘sleep over’s lately. Of course they sound fun and she probably gets the basic concept of them, but I know very well that she has a hard time even staying at Nana’s house over night – she spends most of it awake, asking what the different noises are in the house, and being worried about stuff. This is a house she goes to every week, staying with a person she sees at least once a week and adores.

So, I worry that she’s not ready for a sleep over and I’ve told her that when she gets to the point where she can have a sleep over at Nana’s without any problems, then we’ll consider letting her have a sleep over at someone else’s house. She’s not letting it drop though, all of her friends seem to be talking about sleep overs, its the buzz of the daycare or something.

My gut reaction to all of this is NO. Just no, no I do not want to think about this. But then, that stems from things that have happened to me, things that you never want your own child to have to go through and deal with. Things you just want to keep them safe from for their whole lives even if it means they miss out on stuff.

But, I don’t want her to miss out on stuff…. so my second response is that I really think she should be quite familiar with the house/family she would stay over night with, and that as a parent I would want to know the family quite well too. I’d want to know what they do, who they are, what their lifestyle is like. Is that too much? Do I get a ‘paranoid mum’ badge for that? Or is that not enough? At this stage… well, I guess I could say there are very few people I would feel safe letting her stay over with. Those include my mother, my father, the in laws, my brother and a couple of my best friends. Am I letting my personal history get in the way of her life? Or am I justified in wanting to keep my baby safe?

Anyways, give me your opinions please! At what age do you think kids should start having sleep overs? Do you think it’s important that your child has spent at least some time at the house before the sleep over? How well should you know the family they are going to be staying with? What precautions would you take?

Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

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It has begun.

*Cue Mortal Kombat theme song*

I have no idea why that’s the music that came into my head when I started reading through my novel. None at all. But it was! So we’ll just go with that.

I loved that movie when it came out, had loved playing the game before then, ah, so much fun and wow, how games have evolved in the years since then!

Anyway… so far I have a kind of process in place, I guess you’d call it. I’m making small changes as I see them during the read through, making comments for things that will need a little more work, and making notes in another document about the more wider ranging things that need fixing up, the things that aren’t small enough to be mentioned in a comment.

I dig comments, it helps the process and it’s how I mark up stories for critiquing when I do them for others before I write up my feedback, so I think it should help me be a little more distanced from my own work. Look at it in the same way that I look at other peoples.

Ivy has been singing non stop for an hour now… lol it’s kind of funny, but also, a little annoying. They aren’t songs by other people, they are her own – which I think is really fantastic, she’s already so creative and imaginative and all that other fun stuff. The problem is that just about every one of them has the same tune/pattern/rhythm. Ah well, we’ll work on that. At least it’s not something I can recognise, it appears to be one of her own making. A girl who dances to her own beat. Excellent.

She has a ‘Snow White car song’ it can only be sung in the car, lol I have no idea why, but that’s the way it is!

Okay… I better go and bathe her and get on with the rest of the morning. It’s threatening to be along one with Lauren already resisting sleep, the rain, Ivy and her endless song and a load of housework to do. Arg. And I still haven’t called anyone about the washing machine! I don’t even know who to call… I’ll have to get on to that today.