Connecting with Baby No.2!

IMG_0104I saw a picture on instagram a few months ago of two pictures side by side of a baby. The left was a beautifully designed picture of a baby with a super cute outfit on against a white fur background with a little place card that read 2 months old (similar to the photos Greg and I took of Ava as she grew from 1 month to 1 year old). The picture on the right was another baby the same size with only a nappy on with a post-it note stuck it’s forehead which read “2 months old.” The bottom caption was first child vs second child. Greg and I had a big laugh about it because already this pregnancy is so much different to our first! We would watch the week by week videos together one night a week, Greg would come over and feel Ava kick any chance he got. I washed her clothes months early and had the diaper bag packed for weeks this time around I have been so busy working and keeping a toddler alive I haven’t had the chance to really do anything baby related.

IMG_0110I’ve written a checklist on my phone of things I need to grab but that was about it until Tuesday last week. Last Tuesday I decided I needed to get some clothes out and start washing them to try and connect with the idea that we would have another baby in the house in a few short months! It was surreal pulling out 0000 and 000 clothes for this baby that is not yet here with us- the clothing looks like doll items! I washed and dried so many things- we still need to wash the singlets and whites and then there’s the bassinet to wash and the car seat to install.. the list seems to be never ending.

IMG_0112Do you have any tips on how you connected with Baby No.2? I can imagine that we’re not the only ones struggling to really focus on another baby coming to our family when we have a very active 2.5 year old!

Enjoy the chaos, every glorious moment.. 

IMG_5556.jpgMothering is constant. From the moment your child is conceived you are forever changed. It’s one of the greatest, most challenging, most frustrating, most intriguing callings in this world.

When they are babies keeping you up all night, or busy toddlers ripping your just cleaned house to pieces, it seems the day will never be over.

You are tired, spent and exhausted but so in love with that little one!

Then they are teenagers and are persuaded they know so much about their world and how to rule it! Lol

Somehow, with much prayer and much love we help them thru those difficult years. It’s so important to be the parent, to establish this role very early. They will question you and ask why. You need the wisdom of God, and a strong fortitude to stand strong, stay true to The ways of God, love His Word, and be faithful in all your commitments to Him!

Nobody told me they would grow up and leave. I think this has probably been the hardest part of being a mother. I thought they would always be near, close by.

I have cried rivers over their leaving. Didn’t think I would ever get thru it, but I have made the adjustment, and I am stronger, and wiser. God is my refuge and strength.

Last week I had an Epiphany about my life, my life as a mother, and  a grandmother.

If you raise your children to be eagles then you can’t expect them to always stay. They must take wing and soar, find new adventure, conquer the highest mountains and new horizons. We must let them go, it’s not easy but it’s what we raised them to be. Independent, brilliant, beautiful and God inspiring. I do miss them and I guess I always will.

So a word to you darling Mother’s,  enjoy the chaos while it last! Every glorious moment!

…Words from the amazing, wonderful, full of life and love, Nancy Grandquist.

 

Woven- When friends become family..

My interview this morning is with the amazing Annette! She used to baby sit me as a baby and now has become one of my nearest and dearest friends. Her and her family are family to Greg and I- they are amazing examples of following after God’s will and simply loving people! They pastor a thriving church up on the Gold Coast, parent two amazing boys and work full time as Pastor’s and (Annette works) part-time as a teacher. We seriously adore this family!

IMG_1311.jpegOkay, so- a few standard questions to start with, tell me a bit about your family.

I come from a Lebanese background. My parents and siblings migrated over to Australia in 1971, my siblings were very young! Lebanon was pretty war torn at the time so they migrated for a better life. My dad’s sister had some family here, so Australia was the obvious choice.

How many Siblings do you have?

I have four- three sisters and 1 brother. I’m the baby.

Are you Sydney born and raised?

Yep, I am. My siblings are a lot older than me. I had a great childhood but my siblings, because of the age difference, were more parental. I spent a lot of time with older people which is why going to school was so hard when I first started. I didn’t have many friends my age at the time.

You’re married to Jacob.. How old were you when you both met? I was 15 when we started dating, Jacob was 18. We dated for 6.5 years but our “dating” was so different to today. We were really good friends for a number of years and then got married when I was 21. We always said we would have children after being married for 5 years but I found out I was pregnant just a few months after our wedding!

Now, you have two boys? Yes, they are 16 and 13.

Whereabouts did you have them? I had Josiah at Bankstown Hospital and Judah at Liverpool Hospital.

Were you hoping to have two boys? I was actually hoping for a girl with Judah though in hindsight I was happy to have two of the same gender because the boys have become best friends.

How did you pick the boys’ names? Since Bible School Jacob loved the name Josiah and I loved it too so we knew our firstborn would be Josiah. Judah on the other hand- it wasn’t the original name we picked but someone had already taken it. We were back at the drawing board when we attended a conference where we heard a sermon preached about Judah, Judah meaning praise- it was a powerful service.  We fell in love with the name! We loved the meaning of it and knew it was the name for our second son.

Did you have the boys natural or C-Section? Both Natural! Labour was about 3 hours. For Josiah- my waters broke early, so I was in hospital for 18 hours, but the actual labour was only 3 hours or less.
They were both born on their exact due dates.

You were pregnant at your university graduation- tell us about it! Yep I was! To start with, when I was pregnant with Josiah I had morning sickness for about 7 months. I was working part time and going to Uni full time. I used to catch a train to work in the city, at that time, and I remember getting off at certain stops to throw up on the train tracks and then getting back on to keep going on my journey to work. 1 week after I handed in my last assignment for Uni to become a teacher, I gave birth to Josiah.

Shortly after giving birth to Josiah, I had to finish my prac for my degree- I did my final prac in February when he was 4 months old, and then got offered a full time job. I took the job! It was my first real full job- I worked 3 years full time. Now, in hindsight, I do regret it a little but he was with my mum and mother in law and they formed a close bond.

Josiah was just over 3 years old when I left my job and had Judah. When he was 5 months old, I went back to work part time but at a different school. Because I lived closer to my sister (we had moved house by now)- my sister watched the boys part time. I went back to full time when Judah was about 3 years old and switched to part time when he was 6. I still work part time at a school now.

Coming from a Lebanese background your mum is an amazing cook! Do you have any of her recipes? Well my mum made all her dishes by memory- when she received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my sister in law tried to record as many recipes as she could on paper.

Here is her amazing, world famous Tabouli! Friends I am telling you- this is hands down best Tabouli recipe you will ever have!!

Sis Ayoub’s Tabouli Recipe

7 Medium Tomatoes

2 bunches parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch of mint, chopped

1/4 bunch of shallots

1 onion chopped finely

1/2 cup cracked wheat

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 lemon juiced

1/2 tomato passata

3/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp pomegranate molasses

sweet chilli sauce or Tabasco sauce

How To

– Remove any stones you mighty find in the cracked wheat, then wash and drain it well by squeezing it with your hands

– Add the lemon juice to the cracked wheat and set aside.

-Wash the chopped parsley and mint then drain well by squeezing out excess water.

-Chop the tomatoes very finely and add them to the cracked wheat

-Chop the onion very finely and rub them with the salt and black pepper

-Combine all ingredients with the cracked wheat and stir in olive oil
You moved to QLD over 6 years ago.. I always thought that because I was born and raised in Sydney I would never move…I never wanted to move but my husband was feeling that the Lord was leading us elsewhere- we didn’t know where though. His prayer was God if you want us to go to another church, and Pastor, you need to speak to my wife.

When he was in Fiji a number of years ago he found out that there was a church in the Gold Coast that no longer had a Pastor- he knew God was calling us there but his prayer had always been that God would speak to me because of the heartache it would entail leaving my family in Sydney.

In the meantime, I had been going through some things and was praying that God would help me to work through these things positively, you know, respond to negative situations in a positive way.

A lady I respect, in my life, came to me in the altar one service and asked if there was anything specific I wanted to pray for. I said no… whatever you feel… she proceeded to tell me about a vision she had had that God was going to move us. The vision was of a really big beautiful house but it was isolated- what she felt the Lord was telling us was that He would move us, and we would be isolated at first but it would be something beautiful and God ordained.
I, of course, didn’t want to feel isolated so I called a prayer partner freaking out that God was going to isolate us! We prayed together and she said something that I remember to this day- she said Nettie, it doesn’t have to be a literal thing that God is going to isolate you but rather that he is moving you from your comfort zone.

The whole time that this is going on, Jacob is still overseas in Fiji.

Meanwhile, he’s been praying every day that God would speak to me

Jacob’s on the plane coming back from Fiji, on Fiji Airways, and he picks up the inflight magazine and there was a double age spread ad which read “If you’re thinking of relocating to the Gold Coast, do it now..” He came home and we went about our day. We were in our room, I was unpacking his stuff and he says “The Gold Coast church no longer has a Pastor.” And I knew… I knew that this is what God was calling us to but of course I was absolutely freaking out on the inside… I said nothing to him for a week about it..

I went back to my prayer partners and I really felt that this was it.. this is what we had to do.

After a week, I approached Jacob and I said I don’t know about you but I believe this is God’s will. He confirmed that that’s what he had been praying for since he first felt the call. We both determined that we would only go if we were released by our Pastor. We spoke to our Pastor, and though we were all really good friends, our Pastor was very supportive of our move!

So 3 months from that conversation we packed up our lives and moved. We never even saw our house before we moved there. We flew up a few times to view some houses but they had all fallen through- the real estate agent let us sign a lease for a place before even seeing it, which is generally unheard of!

Judah got cellulites before we left, the houses we saw fell through, we had left our jobs and had not yet received jobs on the Gold Coast, it seemed everything was fighting us moving but we knew that God had called us.

The whole process taught me so much about faith..

The boys were 10 and 7 at the time, so you can imagine the heartbreak for them. This was a mother’s heartbreak. Leaving Sydney we had some friends come and say goodbye… for about 90 minutes our eldest broke down weeping… which made me weep… As a mum I was crying more for him, but still about the major life decision we had made.

A funny story amongst all this pain… During our cry our 7-year-old (who was happy to move by the way) and my husband were smiling at each other through the rear vision mirror. Jacob decided to put on Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye and from out of my mouth came this scary voice threatening to throw the CD out the window if he didn’t turn it off… His thinking was that he wanted to cheer us up, which I reassured him that this was not the way!

When we arrived on the Gold Coast we were unemployed for 5 months… We used up all our savings. It was a huge step of faith but through it all, God always provided. There were people who knew nothing about the situation but blessed us until we found employment. God knew that we needed these few months to make connections with our neighbours and the people we were going to be pastoring.

Wow.. what a story of God’s faithfulness and your willingness to move!So, you’ve found work..haha.. Yes, I am currently working part time in a role that was created for me. I’m reading coordinator. I mentor teachers and do an intensive reading program. Jacob, is a full time Pastor – going on 3 months. We pastor Gracepoint Church, Coomera on the Gold Coast.

And the boys? They’re both still in school- Judah is really good with co design in an architecture class and Josiah is an entrepreneur! He has sold t-shirts, made his own brand label at 11 and is currently working on getting into a trade. This kid is very savvy when it comes to business… side hustle to the max.

And Gucci…Yes, we have a little dog- Gucci… we’ve had her for almost a year… 9-10 months.

What would you say is the hardest thing about this stage of life and mothering? I find the teenager years can be challenging. Being a Christian mum is so different to how other parents parent their teenagers. We truly have to fight for what we believe in. When your kids are younger you know everything about them, but as they get older I am having to learn to balance everything and let God have the reigns. I’m having to trust God a lot more… all I can do is pray… pray over them and pray with them…

Do you have any words of advice for mums out there? Enjoy every stage of your kid’s life. It goes so quickly… it will fly by. Don’t be so caught up, and busy, that you neglect your kids.

What would you say is your greatest achievements to date? My family, my boys. Although our family isn’t perfect, we have fostered so much love for each other… and what God has done at Gracepoint. From a church of a handful of people to where He’s brought it today; to see what He’s done in people lives. To see people who are new to church and be a part of their spiritual growth. I am so thankful.

So there you have it- we love and cherish this mum and her family! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Annette and her family!

Till next time.

xx

Balance

Inspired by the sermon we heard at church last Sunday night, I wanted to share for a few minutes on how I try to find balance in my life. If you wear more than one hat (I would say 99% of our population does) then I’m sure you are also walking (or trying to walk) in a life of balance. The Bible says to walk wisely (Eph 5:5)- I think being balanced with your time is part of walking in wisdom. Depending on the day I either do really well at being balanced with my time or I fail miserably!

My picture of balance has changed drastically since Ava joined our family! If you have children then you know what I’m talking about! It’s hard to tell a one year old that mumma needs to have a shower..and no, you cannot sit on the floor of the shower.. Or how about when you’re trying to hang a load of washing outside.. try telling your 14 month old that you cannot pick her up and hang washing at the same time.. I know! I’ve tried.. Thank heavens no one was filming me.. I would be a youtube sensation!

When you have children (whether you’re a mum or dad) you get lost in the whirlwind of raising those children! The bottles, nappies, wipes, schedules, potty training, puke and spit up.. fevers, food allergies, a new skill, walking, crawling, first words, bubble blowing (Check my Insta from last night!).. It’s an amazing whirlwind that sweeps you and your family unit up! We have loved every moment of it.. truly.. it has brought Greg and I closer as a couple and it has taught us how to love in such a deep way. You truly understand the love your parents have you when you have your own children, as cliche as that sounds..

Balance, when you become a parent, is about becoming flexible. It sounds contradictory right? I know.. but the more I thought about it, the more I noticed it was flexibility that was so closely tied with balance. Mum’s and Dad’s- when you put your little ones to bed, utilize that time. When Ava was younger I would collapse onto the bed and fall asleep (pure newborn exhaustion), but now that she is a lot older and her routine is very much established I have tried to seize that time until we go to bed. We’ll either hang out on the couch (just the two of us.. no little human taking our attention) or I’ll head out to Kmart to be able to just browse in silence.. or Greg may even do a late night dessert run which we can eat without the little human wanting some! haha… I have recently started working out one or two mornings a week- Greg runs a few days a week so we take turns being with Ava in the morning until the other person gets home.

Being balanced is about setting time aside for your partner, for your children and for yourself. We often hear the joke of ‘happy wife, happy life’ and while a lot of people use that in marriage speeches, it can definitely be applied to general life. If I am happy as a woman/mother/wife then my life will be happy. Balance isn’t about deadlines or rigid boxes that everything in life must fit in to it’s about being flexible and enjoying every moment (even those stressful hair pulling moments)!

A few practical tips for being balanced that I try and follow:

  • I do not turn my work laptop on at home and
  • I do not check my work emails at home

When I leave the office I am off the clock. It’s a boundary that I have tried to stick to. When I am home my family deserve my undivided attention.

  • I try not to be away from home during weeknights.

During the work week our nights are valuable. We cherish the time we can unwind with each other.

  • We guard and protect our Saturdays (or weekends)

It is so so easy for us to be occupied every Saturday. We have events on for church many Saturdays during the year, we also have birthdays and functions and baby showers- all of which are fun and necessary.. but know when to say no. I have a quote on the wall in our house which says “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

If you’re struggling to find balance make a list of all the tasks you have to do week to week or even day to day then try and put them in order of priority. What are some of the things you have to get done- i.e. Monday’s I have to grocery shop, Tuesdays-Thursdays I have to go to work.. With the remaining hours of the day where are periods of time that you can spend time with the kids, or maybe take an uninterrupted shower or go for a run? Don’t be afraid to ask that girlfriend to watch your kids for an hour or two. It won’t always happen and more often than not you may wonder where the time went but it’s about trying to walk wisely. To walk you have to put one foot in front of the other. Don’t stay in that feeling of being frazzled or worn out- sit down and work out ways you can change things.. even though your steps may be little at least you’re moving towards better!

So.. what now?

You’ve finished University, you’ve gotten married, you’ve bought that home..you’ve had a baby.. that baby is now growing up and has officially moved into the toddler stage.. you don’t know where the time has gone, but you do know it has pushed her along to achieve each milestone. It didn’t wait for her to decide to grow up, it simply kept ticking and with it it bringing a new sense of family and love and discovery..

So what now…?

Last week, in the same day, I cried with a friend who had recently experienced a miscarriage and then hugged and cried with friends at the news that they were pregnant.. Only a few days after this encounter did it occur to me how interesting life can be. It’s amazing how broken you can feel in a moment, when even words escape you and then experience such unadulterated joy. Joy for the sense of what your community of friends and family are gaining through this new addition, a joy because you know the amazing happiness that comes with the addition of a little feet and laughs, a joy for the couple who whether planned or a complete surprise are adding to their lives.

So what now..?

Through personality tests it’s been determined that I am very gold in nature. I thrive on lists and goals, I expect order and continually do everything in my power to try and maintain consistency and reliability.. so without a project or something to “do” I flounder around like a fish out of water.. good analogy huh?

We recently re-did the playroom which was a great project to occupy my time and thoughts but now here I am.. floundering.

Has anyone ever experienced this feeling?  Maybe you’re experiencing it now?

The Bible says that “after you have done all”…“to stand.”  Stand! That sounds like a nightmare but obviously it doesn’t mean to literally stand still..I think it means to be content. To look at your life, assess the blessings that flow abundantly and be grateful. Contentment.. do we even know what that means in this generation? Do we ever stop to enjoy what we have or who we have or do we long for more or bigger and better?

I saw a quote on Pinterest a while back it said “if you only have today what you were grateful for yesterday how much would you have?” What a confronting thought!

I challenge everyone to take a few minutes today to consider how blessed we really are. Consider the freedoms we take for granted, the meals we pay for frivolously. Consider the family you’re able to hug and love, think of the friends who have become family, or the children who light up your day. For those of us who work outside of the home- cherish the opportunity that you have to earn money. I’m thankful I live in a country where I have the religious freedom to go to church and actively pursue a relationship with Jesus.. something we take for granted that many in oppressed nations would dream of.

So, what now you may ask? Just stand..

Thankfulness

IMG_0975.JPGThree days ago was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day- I’m sure for many it was a heart breaking day of wounds that haven’t yet healed, or memories of empty wombs, or sterile hospital walls.. for some I know it would be a day of remembrance a memorial for those little feet that once tiptoed around the house. I can’t even begin to imagine the sense of loss that comes with losing an infant..

A few days ago Ava and I headed out to a play place with some friends and their children. We jumped on jumping castles and played in ball pens. We climbed ramps and slide down huge slippery slides- it was a great day! Towards the end of our time there we went back to the little kids area.. inside the play area was a mum and her baby boy- he was probably around 10 months old. I noticed straight away that she had a white cain. A mixture of emotions flooded my mind and heart.

Her baby boy fell a few short seconds after we walked in and began crying.. I went over and asked her if she would like me to help him, but she said she was fine and promptly packed up her cain and started following his cry to pick him up and console him. I burst into tears.. even re-writing this experience is making me cry.. I turned to my girlfriend and commented at how sad it was that she couldn’t see him.

My heart broke for her. Had she always been blind? Had she ever seen her son or was she blind from his birth? Something I take for granted every day was not “granted” to this mother and it broke my heart.

I take for granted being able to see Ava and play with her. I almost see it as a chore putting her to bed every day or bathing her.. times when I wish I could simply sleep uninterrupted for 6 hours but instead find myself getting up multiple times during the night..

There are mums who have never experienced a child calling them mumma, or dads who have never had someone to rumble with.. there are mums who are deaf who have never  heard their children’s voices and dad’s who have never seen their children play a soccer game.

I felt like I needed to document what I experienced as a reminder to cherish every day I have with Ava. I hope this little part of my day reminds you to be grateful for the things you are able to experience, the children you are able to hold and even the waking minutes spent rocking that little one to bed. No time spent with your children is wasted or inconvenient.

It’s been a while..

Wow.. I didn’t realise I hadn’t posted in 2 months! Life has gotten busy to say the least.. and I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I don’t feel like I have anything very interesting to say.. they say comparison is the thief of joy.. well there are A LOT of amazing bloggers out there with amazing families and kids and DIY projects.. and here’s little ole’ me from the backside of Sydney just trying to juggle one child and a part-time job.. It’s been hard.

Ava tuned one while I was on a bit of an unexplained break- YAY! We had a great week of celebrations with her. She ate way too many sweets and had one to many servings of cake, but I’ve adapted the motto- if it won’t kill her let’s give it a try.. my how times have changed. I didn’t pull out my good camera once for her birthday so you’ll just have to head over to instagram to see a little snapshot of weekend parties!

She has gotten way more talkative! Her vocab is probably around 20 words now.. and her second top tooth has finally caught up to her first top tooth- YAY! Symmetry for the win!

With Ava turning one has come a whole new set of struggles. Last night was actually the worst she’s ever acted- my husband and I looked couldn’t help but look at each other in shock. She is strong-willed and defiant! We will tell her for e.g. not to drop her water bottle off her highchair- she’ll pick it up and throw it over the edge. We smack her hand (yep..we lightly smack her hand), pick the water bottle up and say “no, leave it on your highchair”. This will happen two or three times- by now the tears are starting to fall. She will stop pushing the bottle of the highchair for a minute or two, and then put her hand on it as if daring us to do something. She will then look at either my husband or I in the eye and as if in slow motion push her bottle of the highchair.. argh!! It drives me nuts!!

We love her to death, but we are definitely on the parenting journey. I constantly struggle with the thought of “am i harming or helping her.” Are our boundaries and discipline too soon, or are we actually helping shape her for her 2’s and 3’s?

I don’t think you are ever prepared to become a mum or dad.. it’s so much more than getting pregnant and birthing a child.. you actually have to now raise them..

It’s such an emotional, exciting, overwhelming, crazy role to live out.. One that we are extremely grateful for.. but boy.. is it challenging!

For any mumma’s out there- I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job.. It’s okay to countdown the minutes till bedtime.. It’s okay to hide in the bathroom and eat that chocolate bar.. it’s okay to reminisce about when it was just you and your partner or when you didn’t have to vacuum for the ONE THOUSANDTH TIME! It’s okay to dream of that rug in your living room that was once spotless but is now COVERED with little specs of food.. it’s okay to struggle to remember when you last showered or actually finished a meal or a hot cup of tea… oh sorry.. did I lose some of you there? Guys.. I am totally being real right now.. this journey is challenging.. but if you asked me to do it all over again I would say yes in a heart beat. I would literally give my life for my baby girl..and you know.. the past is never as great as you remember it.. and who else will feed the tiny ants that you sure are living in your rug anyways?