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

Woven- To know her is to love her..

For those who have just started following Growing A Bebé, Woven is a new series of stories from the women around me- their stories of labour, love and growing their little families.. I hope you see the imperfect perfect of this experience we call motherhood in the tapestry of stories woven by each woman..

My next guest in our series, Woven, is a dear friend of mine who I look up to so very much. She has been my Pastor’s wife for nearly 8 years- side plug, if you’re looking for a church in Sydney, come along and check out ours here– it’s an amazing church!

She has two children, a beautiful daughter named Qiana and an amazing little boy called Joaquin! To have met her is to love her.. trust me..

You know those people who, when they hug you, are really hugging you? Like they are conveying their love and support with how tightly and confidently they hug you? She is one of those ladies.

Today, I introduce to you Robyn Harvey!

FullSizeRender (1).jpgRobyn (far right), Joaquin (bottom right) and Qiana (middle)

Okay, so here we go..

How big is the family you come from? I come from a family of 4 kids. I am the youngest of the four. I have 2 older sisters and an older brother. There is a 13 year gap between my oldest sister and I.

Can you tell me a bit about your family? My parents and siblings migrated here to Australia in the mid 1970’s. My parents were Pastors in the Methodist Church in Fiji. An opportunity arose for the position of a Pastor in the Northern Sydney suburb of Berowra that was offered to my father. There were strong links between the Australian Methodist and the Fijian church. It was a leap of faith for my parents to move their family to a country that they did not know. My siblings were young then and I was not in the picture yet.

They found it difficult to adjust to a new culture in the beginning and were faced with many challenges. My father was the first non- Australian minister to pastor an all Australian church. They were interviewed by 3 of the local papers at that time and published in the local news. We lived in Northern Sydney for a few years and moved around Newcastle, Yallambie Heights, Berowra and Hornsby, where I was born.

*I tried to find this article, but with it being so long ago I didn’t have any luck! 😦

Okay, so now onto your own family! How many children do you have? I have 2 children.- Qiana & Joaquin, who are my world.

How were your pregnancies? My first pregnancy I had morning sickness up until I was about 7 months. Towards the end, I had a lot of fluid and couldn’t wear closed shoes for the last few weeks and I had put on about 15kgs…yikes! With my 2nd pregnancy, it was great. Morning sickness ended at the 3 months mark and I had a pleasant pregnancy, no fluid like the first one and I was able to wear most of my normal clothes until I was about 7 months.

Where did you have your children? I had them both at Liverpool Hospital.

..and Natural or C-Section? I had a natural birth for both children. I was in labour with my daughter for about 16 hours. I was induced and had to be laying on the bed. Through the excruciating contractions I was unable to walk around or stand as I was strapped with the drip in my arm as well as the machine that was monitoring baby’s heart rate. With my son, I was in hospital at around 11:30pm in the evening and gave birth at 4:37am, it was a much shorter labour and less intense.

If you had to narrow down one of the things you struggled with the most, being a new mum, what would you say?

The hardest thing I struggled with becoming a new Mum was listening to all the different advice that people would give me. It was confusing and overwhelming at times. My mum would tell me how it should be done, the midwives would tell me what I need to do, my friends would tell me something different along with all the many pregnancy and baby books I had bought for myself. Who do I listen to?

We normally only see Joaquin and Qiana at church on Sunday where everyone is either serving, or participating in the service. I asked Robyn to share a funny story involving her kids!

Well, my son never crawled due to his low muscle tone, so he would roll everywhere instead to get around. (Well one day) I left him on the lounge room floor on the playmat to get his lunch ready. When I returned to the lounge room, I couldn’t see or hear him anywhere, I panicked a little and started calling his name out, but he wasn’t responding. After I had called out his name a few times, I heard a small voice that sounded distant, I kept talking to him until I could find where the voice was coming from. As I approached the sofa in the lounge room, it got louder. I got on my knees and looked under the couch and there he was, with the biggest smile on his face chewing on his, “chewy tube” (therapeutic tube) for babies with sensory issues. Cheeky monkey.

Let’s talk about work..Did you work outside of the home when you had children?  Yes, I did work outside of the home. At the time I was a Case Manager for a Welfare Organization working and supporting single young mothers who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. I worked 3 days a week. Qiana was in Family Day Care for those 3 days. By the time my son was born, my mother was on her way to retiring and was only working 2 days a week. So she arranged her roster to work on the days I had off and then she would have her days off when I went to work for the 3 days. This worked out really well for the next 5 years until my son was in Kindergarten.

Where, are you currently working? Well, in 2014 the program I worked 16 years for, lost funding and I was made redundant. I then worked for another Welfare Organisation in the CBD for just over a year, whilst studying my Diploma for Interior Design. When I completed my Diploma, I felt like I needed a career change after working in the Welfare Industry for 17 years. Interior Design has always been my passion. I started my own Interior Design/Styling Business (Salt & Light Interiors) in September 2016. I work for myself from home and I also do Freelance Interior Styling for a styling company in the City.

Robyn is an amazing interior designer- so I’ll make a little plug here, if you are looking for an interior designer in Sydney- I cannot recommend her enough! Her company is linked here: Salt & Light Interiors.

What do you find the hardest thing now is, at this stage of life with your children?

My daughter is now a teenager, that just says it all. Dealing with a teenage girl has proven to be difficult and challenging at times. I guess adolescence is a difficult stage in life, having to deal with changes in the body, mood swings, hormones etc I’m learning everyday.

My son is turning 10 this year and he has an Intellectual Disability. We have had quite a journey with him, one of many challenges and obstacles, but also one of growth and many triumphs. His journey has not been easy, and will continue to be that way throughout his life. He is a placid boy who is very gentle in nature and always has a smile on his face. We will face more mountains to come as he gets older but with the support of our wonderful family, friends and therapists it makes a world of difference. We are so very thankful and so blessed.

As we round up our interview, could you give one piece of advice to a new mum out there?

My one piece of advice to a new mum is always, “Sleep when baby sleeps”. It is so important to be rested in our bodies physically and mentally. Having a new baby is such a wonderful and joyous life event for us but it can also be a very stressful one, having had a enough sleep helps you to think better as well as feel better.

 

 

Woven- Two little peas in a pod

For those who have just started following Growing A Bebé, Woven is a new series of stories from the women around me- their stories of labour, love and growing their little families.. I hope you see the imperfect perfect of this experience we call motherhood in the tapestry of stories woven by each woman..

My next guest in our series, Woven, is from a dear friend of mine. We have been friends since we both can remember; we’ve celebrated birthdays, weddings and kids together! We both married Greg’s in the same year as well (a little fun fact)!

Today, I am excited to introduce Rachel Willmott!

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Okay, question number one- how big is the family you come from?  Not very big at all! Mum has 1 brother & dad is an only child. I am blessed to have 2 grandparents still here with us. I am the eldest of 3 siblings.

Can you tell me a bit about your family? Dad comes from Scicily / born in Australia, and has remarried an Australian. Mum comes from Chile / came over when she was 4yrs old.
I’m the eldest at 30, younger sister at 26, brother at 19 and a half brother who is 5 weeks old.

How many children do you have? I have twins girls who are 2.5yrs old and another bub due in August 2017.

Where did you have your children? The twins were born at Liverpool Public Hospital, NSW.

How did you find out that you were having twins? Take us through that first ultrasound! From the very beginning, our girls have made our parenthood journey an adventure full of surreal & comical surprises. The routine 6 week scan was no exception. Having a heart full of mixed emotions coupled with a bladder full of water, I lied on the bed waiting trying not to shed tears, burst out in laughter or pee myself. It felt as though as soon as the sonographer placed the doppler on me he made a very strange and surprised sound. His english wasn’t very good so Greg asked why he made a strange noise? We remember his words as though it were yesterday, “Looks like double-trouble”, closely followed by “Go halve your bladder – too full”. As I sat in the bathroom, my mind was racing through questions like “his english must be really basic”, “did I hear him correctly?”, “how large will I grow?” and finally “why do they ask you to drink so much water in the first place?”.

When I came back, it was confirmed that we were indeed staring at two little peas in my pod. Greg and I looked at each other in absolute shock and somehow had a magical conversation through eye contact. We had joked about having twins, then to see those twin hearts beating was a surreal moment for us. Obviously once we got over the initial shock, the logistics of having twins began to set in. The journey since has been challenging, often fatiguing but above all extremely rewarding!

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Audrey & Evenlyn (The two peas in a pod)

Did you have a Natural of C-section birth? How long was labour? I had natural births for both girls. If calculating from the actual pushing phase: Labour was from 11:00am – 3:20pm = 4.5 hours. My water broke 8am Wednesday & so I spent the night in hospital where I dilated 7cm without knowing it. I was given an epidural Thursday morning & started pushing before midday. Girls were born by 3:20pm Thursday.

How was your pregnancy? I had a great pregnancy, aside from some back/body aches due to being rather large and having to sleep sitting up for almost 2 months. I had regular ultrasounds and appointments so I was always well informed with my personal & twins’ development.

Did you take maternity Leave? If so, for how long? Yes, my Mat Leave was exactly 12 months.

What was the hardest thing you struggled with being a new mum? Sleep deprivation (I seriously love sleep) and my own personal body recovery & healing. I had to be readmitted to hospital 2-3 weeks after delivery due to Mastitis & an infection from the episiotomy. Not pleasant. At. All. All the while trying to juggle two crying babies, two nappies, two bottles, two of EVERYthing.

Did you work outside of the home when you had children? No. Well I wasn’t ‘paid’, but I sure did lots of work 🙂

What do you currently do for work? I am currently working 2 days/week as a Payroll Clerk for a Transport Company. But I’ll be going on Mat Leave again very soon!

What do you find the hardest thing is now, at this stage of life with your children at the age they are? The hardest thing for me at this stage is trying to find the time, energy and motivation to stimulate their inquisitive brains everyday. (and filling out the day-care paperwork so THEY can worry about paint & dirt & inquisitive brains) haha
Having said that, the girls are actually quite easy to ‘talk’ to at this stage than ever before, which I’m finding a lovely surprise.
Don’t get me wrong, they still have their tantrum-like commands and requests, but I find it’s easier to talk and reason with them at this stage.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new mum what would you tell them? Stress less. This coming from someone who doesn’t stress very much! Honestly, I can look back and say that I worried about insignificant things that I read TO DO & NOT to do. But every mother & child is different. It’s so easy for a new mother to fall for the ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ expectation to have everything perfectly under control all the time. So stress less 🙂