Am I the most special Mum in all the world?

” Why don’t you make your blog more  about us – more personal?”

I stared at my husband in shock.

“Really? You want me to write about our life like a diary?”

“Well you don’t have to be exactly truthful,” he replied. “You’d have to describe me always popping off to the gym.”

Interesting. So Tom wouldn’t mind if my blog was a diary if it made him look buff. He does actually go the gym quite regularly, but he also spends time lounging on the couch watching fishing shows. Perhaps I should only write about the edited version of my life… Edited and a little embellished.

So here it is!

Dear gorgeous, lovely ladies who read my blog,

Today was a typically hectic day for our little family. Last night was a little crazy as Eloise went to sleep at 10 past 7. I know! She’s all over the place that girl. I think it all comes down to Tom putting the wrong toys in her bath. She usually only has blue and white. That yellow duck in the bath did nothing to help her wind down routine. Tom’s twice daily gym visits and bulging muscles must be muddling his mind. 

Anyway, after having such a late night, she slept through to 7.30 am. It wasn’t until 8 o’clock that we were both up and sipping our morning smoothies. It took me that long to pick the fresh berries grown on our balcony. Tom was busy in the kitchen checking on our home made yoghurt and the little Princess was practising her baby yoga. Such a cherub!

 I had arranged to meet one of my Mummy friends for coffee at 10. But sadly her baby’s nap was a little early and my darlings nap was a little late so we were both stuck at home. Of course I perfectly understand. You just can’t mess with naps! Who knows what awful things could happen?!

Luckily nothing went wrong for our afternoon plans. You may have heard me talk about my darlings musical ability in the past? I try to tell myself its normal child play – that she isn’t unique, special and talented. But I also know I’m truly blessed to be given this opportunity – this gift that I can cherish.

 A good friend, who appears regularly in productions at Opera Australia, has agreed to come over once a week to tutor her for about an hour. Today he was so captivated he stayed a full two hours.  I sipped a green smoothie on the couch and watched them together. I can’t explain my joy to see my little darling watch him as he sang in Italian  When he had finished she wobbled over and gave his hand a squeeze. Her way of showing she perfectly understood. We snap chatted and instagramed  the moment so its always in my memory.

The little darling went off easily tonight. At 7.10 I was sipping a glass of wine and thinking back to that precious moment. I’m such a special person being a mother to this special, special little girl. I know there are lot’s of other mothers in this world but somehow I feel like I’m the first mother. The only mother. I’m THE mother. I’m special too. I’m just so very special.  xxxxxxxxxxx

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Why I love Baby-led Weaning

Anyone who knows me well knows I probably take food too seriously. I just can’t help it.

Food is one of the great joys of life. It’s not just fuel. Food is bound up with family, talking, laughing, art, passion and traditions.

In Nigella Lawsons recipe book, How to Eat, she talks about her first pregnancy. In a short anecdote she describes chatting to an obstetrician at a party about breastfeeding. She was excited to learn that the taste of breast milk changes, depending on what the mother has eaten. In this way, the baby becomes accustomed to a variety of tastes. Amazing!

When it came time for Eloise to start eating, I hoped I could pass on my love of food. At first I was going to go down the path of making my own purées. However something about spoon feeding mush didn’t seem to work for me. I didn’t feel comfortable with it.

I’d heard mothers talking about forcing, distracting, coercing, persuading, shoving and tricking their baby into eating. This made no sense! Why would you need to “force” someone to do something as enjoyable and natural as eating!

You don’t force anyone to laugh, or sing, or look at a beautiful sunset or to play. Surely a baby simply wants to eat.

Well luckily I remembered a friend of mine, whose baby I’d seen eating a bowl of strawberries. The baby had been feeding herself. This friend put me onto information about weaning that can be found on the Australian Breastfeeding Association website. They call it starting with “family foods.” This type of weaning is also called baby-led weaning.

I have loved, loved, loved going on this baby-led weaning adventure with Eloise.

Why do I love it?

Well here are the best things about it.

Little Preparation

Since Eloise has started eating, I’ve hardly had to make any adjustments to my cooking. I’ve just given her what we’re having. My only change is I’ve started cooking with more vegetables – which has to be a good thing. She started off with cucumber sticks, roasted vegetables, avocado, mango, bread and strawberries. Now she can handle pretty much anything. She can suck up spaghetti covered in mince, scoop up rice, loves daintily picking up peas and kidney beans, chewing on steak and (to my husband’s horror) even loves her broccoli.

Food is a time for learning

For a while Eloise did more playing then eating at meals. But this didn’t matter. I would always give her a breastfeed before a meal so she wasn’t frustrated by hunger. Her skills in handling food have slowly increased and she has explored a variety of textures and colours.

I’m never worried about Eloise choking on her food. By letting the baby explore food at their own pace, they learn how to chew and swallow and how much to put in their mouth.

Food is family time

I loved how baby led weaning encourages parents to let babies eat at the family meal. It shows the baby that food is a social activity. It didn’t take long before Eloise was very excited to be put into the high chair. She knew the fun was about to start!

With this type of weaning, there is no need to give the toddler special food, like nuggets or chips. They are already accustomed to eating what the family eats.

Food is for eating

At first baby led weaning can be quite messy. What’s life without a bit of mess? You just need to take a few precautions to minimize the damage. However I’ve found that the mess has dramatically decreased lately. For a while, with Eloise, it was 50% play and 50% eating. These days she does a lot of eating!

My Mums brothers are both very tall men with huge appetites. They love their food. At one family gathering they were enjoying one of Mums meals, and at the same time watching Eloise eat. She must have been about ten months and was sitting up in her high chair feeding herself. In typical fashion, Eloise was eating with great gusto. My uncles looked shocked and I was worried that they didn’t approve for some reason.

“You know it’s quite appetizing watching her eat,” one of my Uncles said.  “She really enjoys her food.” Eloise continued to enjoy her meatloaf and vegetables and so did my Uncles.

And that’s food for you; food that we love, food that brings family together and food that is eaten because it simply makes us happy.

For more information on Baby Led Weaning you can visit the Australian Breast Feeding Association.

Pinky McKay also has a good article explaining the benefits of baby-led weaning.

If you’re really keen, you should buy the book. Baby-led Weaning, Gill Rapley and Thacey Murkett. The book answers every question or concern you could possibly raise. It’s extremely practical and gives excellent guidelines on how you can actually make baby-led weaning work. 

Being Brave

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My brother is in Berlin at the moment. He shared this photograph which he saw at the Topography of Terror museum.

The man circled is August Landmesser.

I wonder how he must have felt when he didn’t raise his arm. Despite his act of courage, I doubt he felt very brave in the moment. What would those standing next to him have thought? They might have been envious of his integrity and wished to have his strength. Or they might have thought him a fool.

I’m grateful for seeing this photo.

Definition of Marriage

The other day my English students were trying to define irony. It’s a tricky one.

We hear a lot about marriage these days and the right of everyone to get married.

Is this ironic?

Because on the other hand, so many couples say they don’t see any value in marriage. It’s just a piece of paper, an outdated institution or a big party where you wear a white dress.

Marriage can mean very different things to different people. Sometimes I’m talking about marriage to a friend and I realise that we are speaking of two dissimilar concepts. It’s like eating a dish of fried rice and comparing it to risotto. Similar but not the same.

I’m been trying to work out how I would define marriage.

For me it’s a commitment, made in public, to love my husband for the rest of his life. As a Christian I also believe this commitment is made before God who will help me live up to this mighty big promise.

I will choose to love my husband in bad and good times. A marriage is not just about romance although I’ll work on keeping that there. Marriage is about friendship. Hopefully the greatest friendship you will ever have in your life.

Since having a baby I’ve realised how important our marriage is for children.
A happy, stable marriage is probably one of the best things I can give my child.

So marriage is about creating a family. Marriage is about creating a home.

Lastly I think marriage is about service. Being married helps me to give myself to others.

Not that a single person doesn’t have the chance to be selfless. However I’d argue that marriage (and kids) throw you in the deep end.

So that’s my definition of marriage.

What’s yours?

How to be Healthy and Happy at 89

gfather

Recently I asked my 89 year old Grandfather to summarise for me how to be happy and healthy.   He emailed me his answer, which I found quite impressive. Anyone who has met my Grandfather John McAuley seems to remember him. Despite his age he is still busy, generous and very kind. He takes an interest in politics, literature, lawn bowling, acting and magic tricks. Last year he took cooking lessons. He loves his three children, nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Here is what he wrote.

Do’s and Don’ts of Being Happy

Do be grateful, optimistic, have kind thoughts, trust Providence, be hopeful, forgive, return good for evil, be positive, practice patience, be mature, enjoy beauty, pray for trust, control your tongue, turn to virtue and be determined!

Don’t complain, be pessimistic, judge harshly, worry, be discouraged, be bitter, hate, be negative, be petty, be gloomy, gossip, be jealous.  Give up sin and give up “giving up”.

Best of British Luck!

Friday Poetry – What I Learned from My Mother

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What I learnt from my Mother

by Julia Kasdorf

 

I learned from my mother how to love

the living, to have plenty of vases on hand

in case you have to rush to the hospital

with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants

still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars

large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole

grieving household, to cube home-canned pears

and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins

and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.

I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know

the deceased, to press the moist hands

of the living, to look in their eyes and offer

sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.

I learned that whatever we say means nothing,

what anyone will remember is that we came.

I learned to believe I had the power to ease

awful pains materially like an angel.

Like a doctor, I learned to create

from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once

you know how to do this, you can never refuse.

To every house you enter, you must offer

healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,

the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Seeing my Baby’s Face

2012-02-08 12.09.17There is something I need to write about. It’s been niggling away in my mind for a while now, but honestly I haven’t had the courage to speak up.

I’m ashamed of my fear. There are those who have no voice – they’re silenced before they have a chance to cry.

Before I was a mother I was fairly ambivalent about the issue of abortion. I listened to both sides and wondered – why the big fuss? Can it really be so important?

And then we found out we were having a baby.

I went along at 7 weeks to have my first ultrasound. On the screen I saw Eloise’s heart beating.

As the weeks progressed, at every appointment, we would listen to that heart beat. It was a powerful beat; the doctor described it as sounding like a galloping horse.

And then at around 19 weeks, two amazing things happened. I started to feel my baby move. At first it was tiny flutters, like Eloise was dancing inside me. Eventually the movements would feel much stronger; there were powerful kicks and rolling around. I could even see my baby moving inside of me. I loved lying on my bed and watching my baby move.

At 19 weeks I went along for another ultrasound. I remember being filled with such excitement; today I was going to see my babies face. You can see Eloise in the ultrasound above. Her arms, legs and head are very clear.

At the ultrasound the nurse counted my babies toes. She had ten toes. Her fingers were counted. She had ten fingers. I tell you these details because somehow they felt so special at the time. It was thrilling to see every toe and finger.

We saw her legs and her little arms. And I saw my babies face for the first time.

As I waited for the end of my pregnancy, my doctor told me that my baby was putting on weight.  He told me I was like a perfect intensive care unit, providing all the needs for my baby before she came into the world.

In Australia babies can be aborted up to 20 weeks of age and sometimes later.

How can we allow this to happen? We are obviously not providing the support to pregnant women that is needed.

I’ve come to realise how important this issue is. In The Screwtape Letters by C. S Lewis he says in every age we are morally confused  We fail to see the real problems with our time. “The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.”

Since become a Mum I’ve started to feel we are a very morally muddled indeed. Our silence on abortion is truly horrific. The debate should not be over.

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