Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Dear 2014...

Someone once told me that the clock doesn't start ticking until you have children. This year, more than any other, I have felt the truth of this statement with what can only be described as an ache in the pit of my stomach. I have watched my children grow with a mix of pure amazement and a tinge of sadness as I realise my days are numbered.

I hope that the number of those days is very, very high, but whether I live to old age or not, my children are growing up at lightening speed and will be independent adults before I know it.

It actually feels like yesterday that I was a toddler. I have some patchy memories from that time, that crop up in my consciousness every so often. And now here I am, with a just-turned-two-year-old of my own and a little lady who was tucked up in my tummy just moments ago and is now a thriving baby. She knows too much already and I'm half expecting her little mouth to open and utter the words "mum, get a grip!" any day now.

It's not just the kids. I've realised that milestones I've looked forward to my whole life have now been checked off the bucket list, and are no longer moments to enjoy in the future but part of my past. It has been a particularly busy year this year, and I don't mean to sound morbid, but is it too much to ask for time to stand still for just a moment while I soak all of this in?!

I'm actually really proud of all our little family has achieved in 2013. We've moved country, bought our first house, welcomed another perfect addition to the clan, taken a few trips, witnessed first steps & words in the older little person, and rounded everything off with Christmas and a 2nd birthday party. It's no wonder we're all slightly exhausted.

Contentment, joy, luck and blessed are all words that spring to mind when I think of how I'd describe my year. So, after so many milestones and action in 2013, what do I want for 2014? Well, I want time to slow down. I want to worry less about the housework and more about the moments being created in my house; I want to think less about what others are doing or thinking, and more about how I can be a better person to the people that matter most to me; most of all, I want to enjoy the present because I just don't know what the future brings, nor do I want to.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2014? Do you have any New Years resolutions? I hope you all have a safe and happy celebration tonight, and wish you all the best for 2014. Thanks for sticking with me this year; see you on the flip side Latte Mums. x

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

New beginnings

My letters must have been received, as not shortly after my last posts were published (this one and this one) a little baby girl entered our lives. She is delicious and perfect in every single way (says her slightly obsessed mother, daddy and big brother), and has turned our little trio into a true family.

Perfect poppets
Christmas has now truly descended on our house. We have a real Christmas tree adorned with suitably inappropriate decorations for toddlers, an endless supply of Christmas mince pies, personalised stockings above the fire, carols on repeat and a hilariously embarrassing Santa photo on the mantle. I have a ridiculous amount to be thankful for this year, and wish I could just bottle these heart flutters so I could feel this way forever.

But with the silly season upon us, a little man's 2nd birthday party to organise, a pretty little newborn to care for, an semi-immobile husband thanks to a slipped disc in his back (with pain worse than labour, I've been told), and the mountain of cooking, washing and bathtimes resting on my shoulders, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't exhausted, overwhelmed and slightly emotional. In particular, I had forgotten how much of an ordeal pregnancy, labour and caring for another little life is - on both body and soul. Note: I wanted to put this in black and white to refer to when I forget how hard it all is and decide I need another little one to care for! Tell me, what's your secret to surviving at this time of year?

Five weeks into it and things are starting to settle into a daily rhythm, but I still feel myself looking forward to a time when both children are a bit bigger and more independent. It's one of my worst traits - dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future - I hate to think how many moments I've missed by not always being in the present. Well at least I've already decided what my New Years resolution is going to be.

I hope to find a spare moment to write again soon, but in the meantime, from my family to yours I want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for a great year ahead. Try and wrap some extra love to put under the tree this year, and toast to all your good fortune!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

For my daughter, soon-to-be born

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hiddeneloise/2204202545/
To my beautiful girl

I cannot believe you are almost here. I have known you for so long and yet, we have so much to catch up on.

The world you're about to enter may not be what you expect, but I want you to know your little family will always be here for you, no matter what. You'll recognise your Daddy - he's the one that seems to calm you whenever his hand gently pats my tummy. He works too hard, is really good with gadgets, gives the best hugs and will always have time to play with you and make you giggle. He's looking forward to meeting his little girl. Then there's your brother - he's the one that whispers to you (secrets even I don't know) and sometimes smacks his little hand on my tummy to wake you up. He's loads of fun, very cheeky, loves animals and will always have your back! Then there's me - who will love you too much, cry when you go to school, and try every day to give you the world.

Even though you aren't my only baby, I will make sure we have lots of peaceful moments together getting to know one another. Even before your brother was born, you were always going to be born too - we just needed to wait a little longer for you to get here. Did you know that once upon a time I wanted 6 children?! Not sure I want that many now, but I always knew I wanted more than 1 if I could! We feel so lucky our wish has come true. I also thought I'd be the mother of a tribe of boys, so you are the little princess I never thought I'd have and will always be very special to me.

I have just written your big brother a letter, telling him how great it is to have a sister and about all the wonderful times you two will share together. I'm sure you will prove me right, because girls rock. You will love having him as your brother, just remember to ignore him if he ever tries to say you were adopted or pulls your hair!

My dream for you is to grow into a happy, healthy, self confident, loving young woman, and I will do all that I can to help you achieve this. I cannot wait to meet you - don't stay in there for too much longer!

Lots of love
Mummy
x

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

For my son, before he becomes a big brother

http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterhellberg/3002967227/
To my darling boy

Your world is about to change; change for the better and in ways your little mind can't yet even imagine, and I hope it will be as wonderful for you as it is for your Daddy and me. Why? Well, you're about to meet your little sister - any day now.

Right now it's hard to imagine you as a big brother. It's hard for me to see you as a "big" anything. You are my wee boy, my little man, the apple of my eye, my baby. You still have your soft cheeks, light blonde curls, chubby fingers and that glorious innocent oblivion that comes with being a toddler. It makes my heart sing and break in equal measure when I realise that very soon you won't be my little baby anymore. You will always hold a special place in my heart, as my first born child.

You probably won't remember this, but you tell me in your own little way every day about how much you want to meet your sister. You whisper to her and try to cuddle her, and you rest your head against my tummy in the hope you may hear something back. When you get frustrated that you can't cuddle her properly yet, I explain you'll be able to soon - a response you reluctantly but very patiently accept.

Try to remember how much you already love her, particularly when she plays with your toys when you don't want her to and if she sometimes says mean words to you that may make you cry! Don't worry, most of the time I think you will be roaring friends. Sisters are great. They're always there for you when you need them most, they're full of fun and laughs, and a guaranteed partner-in-crime when you need to gang up on Mummy & Daddy. You were always meant to have her in your life.

We have had a good run, you and me. We have shared many wonderful moments together. You are so lucky to have had this time with us just on your own, and we are so lucky to have you in our lives. The fun is only just beginning! You might not be able to believe this, but the world has more than enough love for both of you and you too will love this little girl with all your heart. You are such a good boy, and will be an amazing big brother.

So as we get set to welcome your sister into the world, I want you to remember how much I love you and always will.

Love Mummy
x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My son was a late walker, and we survived to tell the tale!

Feeling disillusioned and desperate, I wrote this a couple of months ago in the hope I would get some reassurance and support from those who could relate to how I was feeling. Hundreds of comments later, I thought it was time for an update.

At the time of my initial post, my son was 18-months-old and yet to take his first solo step. As many of you will understand, ‘walking’ is a very important milestone in a young child’s life and a highly anticipated moment for said child’s parent. I had started to become a little concerned.

In my heart of hearts I knew there was nothing wrong with my son’s two sturdy legs. He had been up on his feet since he was just a few months old, and had been walking along for the past couple of months if he had something to hold on to. But, to be honest, what I knew in my heart of hearts didn’t really help. I couldn’t help the thoughts that swirled through my head – have I been too affectionate and now he’s afraid to let go, will my little boy ever be able to walk, is he growing normally, is there something more we should be doing.

I felt like everything in my world would be in harmony once I saw him reach this milestone. As his peers started walking one by one around their first birthday, we continued to wait, and encourage, and wait, and try every other trick under the sun.

I had searched the internet for forums, articles and guidance that would help me. I had taken him to our family GP to be assessed. I had chatted to my mummy friends in the hope that one of them could share a happy-ending story with a similar start to mine. I kept hitting dead ends and hearing things that would frighten instead of reassure and it seemed that all I could do was wait.

For the most part, I went about my day with my happy, healthy little toddler in tow; feeling blessed at my good fortune to have him in my life. I wasn’t obsessed with the idea of him walking (even though it probably sounds like it), I just wanted to know that he would be ok and that he could do it eventually.

I’m thrilled to say that two weeks ago he started to walk, at the ripe old age of 21 months! He literally just did it in an instant, and then walked around for half an hour like a pro. It was my proudest mummy moment to date and I had to fight back the tears. In that moment I realised he didn’t achieve this feat through anything that we did or didn’t do, he had just decided that today was the day he was happy to let go and have a run around on his own. He hasn’t looked back since, and life has become so much simpler for this heavily pregnant mummy with a {now} walking toddler.

This experience has taught me a few things that I wanted to share. The first is, sometimes you can’t get the answer from anyone but yourself; it’s important to trust your gut instinct but to seek professional advice if you feel you need to. I knew all along that he was ok, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! Secondly, other mums can either be an incredible source of support or they can add more salt to your wound by telling you how advanced/special/capable their own child is (glad to say I had more of the former), so don’t always expect to hear what you want to hear but never be afraid to reach out for help either. Lastly, these little bundles of joy that have come into our lives don’t follow a book, checklist or milestone chart; they are their own free spirits and should be free to grow by their own agenda. No overbearing mothers allowed (major point to self)!

I did want to thank those of you that provided me with invaluable words of support, advice, similar stories and reassurance. It definitely made the wait more bearable, and I’m so glad to be able to let you know that he finally did it!

*This post of mine was first published on Mouths of Mums.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

These are the people I don't understand

I was never prepared for the emotions that accompany motherhood.

I was prepared for bathing a newborn, I was prepared to change thousands of nappies, I was prepared to breastfeed for as long as was feasible, I was prepared for months upon months of sleepless nights. I was even prepared for post-natal depression, making sure my husband knew the signs to look out for and knew what to do, just in case I needed help.

But, I wasn't prepared for the extreme emotions I've inevitably felt in the past two years.

I have wept with happiness when cradling my baby in my arms and rocking him to sleep at night, feeling completely blessed that he is healthy and contented. I have become utterly enraged at careless drivers who have endangered my precious cargo on the road. I have experienced intense fear when my husband's home late from work, as I'm adamant the worst must have happened. I have loved my little family harder than I ever imagined possible, and wonder how I'm ever going to let my son go forth into the world without worrying about him endlessly.

I see my son's face in every child around me, in every child on TV, every child on the news, every child I read about. I see the similarities, the same expressions, hear the same cries, and delight in the same giggles. I imagine every parent feels this way - a sort of kinship and desire to protect every child out there, because you know how precious they are and you would hope someone would do the same for your child if the need ever arose.

That is why I don't understand some parents. I don't understand them, and in fact, I unashamedly dislike them with an intense passion.

I don't understand parents that neglect their children - letting them go hungry while they smoke another cigarette. I don't understand parents that say cruel, mean, hateful insults to their children in a moment of their own weakness, forever scarring them in the process. I don't understand those that abuse children, in any way shape or form, I just don't understand how they can bring themselves to do it.

It has been going on for too long, and it must stop.

**Latte Mum note: here is a really interesting site on this topic and provides quick links on ways in which you can speak out and help: www.everychildcounts.org.nz

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A little perspective

I, along with Kiwis across the country and around the globe, have been glued to the America's Cup racing these past few weeks. It seems we are all desperate. Desperate for them to win against all odds.

The racing today was particularly hard to watch, and now with the end in sight it comes down to the final race to determine who will get the Cup. Either way, my nerves and heart will be glad when it's all over. As I watched the second of today's races, standing in my living room cheering passionately at the brilliant start Dean Barker gave the team and then promptly sitting back down near to tears when Oracle passed us again, I became aware of a little presence in the room. My son. Cheering along with me without any idea what he was doing, I could see he was watching my every move and reaction, and I saw his face drop when mine did too.

It gave me a little perspective.

My carefree toddler definitely doesn't need to see Mummy in a pathetic inconsolable state over the TV. I'm also 34 weeks pregnant with our second bub, and I'm sure she doesn't need the extra adrenalin and stress that this little ol' boat race is providing. I realised that I have to be a good role model now. Teaching good sportsmanship and all that, rather than a vocabulary of swear words.

Time to pull myself together I think!

The outcome of tomorrow's race shouldn't matter to me, really. It matters to the men on that boat whose blood, sweat and tears have been shed. It matters to their families who have supported them for the past few years in their quest, and been their shoulder to cry on after a bad day at the office. But it shouldn't matter to me, because I'm just along for the ride and there to enjoy watching an exhilarating boat race. It would be wonderful to celebrate with them tomorrow, but if not, life will go on.

*Tell me, are you a sporting fanatic too?

Still waving the flag and keeping the faith - go Emirates Team New Zealand!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

It's all coming together

We moved to New Zealand six months ago, and today feels like my first day of peace. I haven't even been able to contemplate a blog post until this moment, due to all the 'to do' lists in my head and busy-ness in my life.

It feels good to now be sitting at my new desk (yes, I actually have a desk!), with a hilly urban view in front of me, office paraphernalia in various shades of antique pink around me, and an urge to write something. I am taking advantage of the fact both of my babies are asleep - one in his big boy bed that seems ridiculously grown-up for him, and the other in my tummy who is due to make an appearance any day now.

These past few months have been action packed but there are just a couple of things I want to share with you, by way of an update.

We are blissfully content.
We are laughing daily.
We are deliriously busy.
We are lucky.

And I will write again soon!
x


Finally, some time for Latte Mum


 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Is this blog harmful to my child

Tomorrow is Latte Mum's first birthday, and I'm starting to wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew. This digital age we're living in both excites and terrifies me in equal measure.

On the one hand, I get to blog about my caffeine-induced Latte Mum adventures and connect with other parents around the globe (too amazing for words). On the other, the internet is luring our tech-savvy children into an increasingly wicked web, potentially exposing them to anything from degrading sexual exploits to faceless cyber bullying. This world we're living in is very different to the one I can relate to from my childhood.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as my increasingly independent toddler embarks on his own adventures without me. He's no longer a helpless baby that thrives simply on breastmilk, love, a clean nappy and a soft toy to cuddle. He needs constant stimulation, interaction with the outside world, loves anything with a switch, loves anything that resembles a phone or remote, and "i-Pad" was one of his first words. I can no more keep him away from technology than I can from growing up. And there will come a time when I will have to rely on the life lessons we have taught him to ensure he makes the right decisions, because he will be a teenager in little over a decade and I won't be there to hold his hand all the time.

I have a responsibility to protect him as much as possible, and cyber bullying is my primary online concern.

At the moment, he is blissfully unaware that he is my muse. When I chronicle his life through Facebook, he has no choice in the matter. When I share my mummy journey with the world through Latte Mum, he can't approve the content beforehand. But, he will be googling his name soon and so too will his classmates.

I keep coming back to one thing. Judgement. Yes, that intangible yet essential element that every good parent should have, and I really hope I have enough of it.

I hope I use enough judgement to refrain from saying anything on this blog that negatively affects my child in any way. I'm sure I will use my judgement when navigating my way through the toddler tantrums, school homework debates, and whether or not we should buy him a car when he turns 18. I certainly hope I use my judgement to assess risk and keep him safe and out of harms way.

Surely between my husband and I, we have enough judgement to ensure we make happy memories for our child rather than plant the seeds for some weird phobia that he just can't shake. Right?! I mean, we didn't name him North West so that's a good start.

So, my fellow Latte Mums, after a whole year together I am starting to panic about the best way to proceed with this blog. Do I keep going as I have been? Do I change my focus, and talk more about me and less about the bambinos? Keen for your thoughts!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Ah-chooooooo!

Our little household has been battling the dreaded winter lurgy this week. Even as I write this, I am sneezing over the keyboard, my head feels like it's going explode and my body's aching. It really is as gross as it sounds.

The epidemic swept in and blew us over without warning. It started with the little guy, picked up I'm sure from an infected sandpit toy he was playing with at playgroup. My husband fell next, clearly affected more than anyone could imagine. So much so, I thought he was going to die of man flu at any moment. After looking after the two of them, it was inevitable that I would be next. 

Through the mountain of tissues, throat lozenge wrappers and eucalyptus vapours, I managed to learn a few things this week.

Tissues, tissues and more tissues
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4048824638/
1. There's nothing sadder than seeing the little man's face with watery blue eyes and a red runny nose, looking at me for some miracle cure that I don't have.

2. After clearing his first year of life without any ailments, it was only a matter of time before playgroup and therefore coughs, colds and tummy bugs became part of our lives.

3. My usually very capable husband becomes completely incapacitated at the first sign of a sniffle. Far from being a myth, man flu really does seem to be the deadliest disease on the planet. Thank goodness he's going to be ok... this time.

4. The little man doesn't care that I feel like crap and am unable to take anything other than lemon & honey tea to make me feel better (thanks to the bump). As such, it was business as usual for me this week.

5. I don't care that I feel like crap and am unable to take anything other than lemon & honey tea, because the only thing that makes me feel better is getting a kiss from my recovered little boy. Which I got today, in abundance.

* Tell me, how do you keep the bugs at bay in your household?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Walk this way

How could it be that my [not so] little boy got his PhD mere moments after entering the world, yet I am still waiting for him to take his first solo steps?

Fast approaching the 18-month-mark, he is growing-up before my very eyes in almost every respect.

He goes to sleep at night as a cherry-cheeked bub, with curly blonde hair slightly damp from his bath, and a woollen onesie that shows off all his delicious rolls. He wakes up the next morning as a boy. "Have you grown overnight again?" I ask him gently every morning as I lift him out of his cot. He grins back at me with that winning smile of his, and nods earnestly like he knows what I'm asking.

Then he'll go about his day - pointing to the fruit bowl and asking for a "nah-nah" instead of his toast, muttering "uh-oh" as he drops something else from his highchair, taking off his cardy and then deciding he needs it back on again, chatting gently to his teddy before giving him a big hug and then chucking him to the ground, stacking his blocks and knocking them down, playing peekaboo with the dirty tea towel, reading/ripping his books, waving and blowing kisses at the girls (of all ages) he sees in the supermarket, saying hi to the kid next to him in the playground, and anything else that important busy toddlers do.

Except, walk. When will you walk little man?

These shoes were made for walking...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a_sorense/6062738459/
Nevermind that he could stand in his cot at the age of 5 months, nevermind that he was cruising the furniture at 9 months, or running with his walker at 13 months, or can walk next to me holding onto nothing more but my little finger. Nevermind that his mother is 5 months pregnant and soon will be incapable of carrying him much anyway. He just won't... let... go.

We have tried everything. Giving him a walker, then taking away the walker because we thought he was relying on it too much, then giving it back to him again when he lost all confidence in walking without it. We've moved the furniture to encourage him to take a step between things, but he just drops to the ground and crawls to the coffee table instead. We've tried holding his hands and letting go, holding under his arms then letting go, holding his waist and letting go, enticing him with an iPad, enticing him with food, enticing him with money. I've even refused to carry him when I'm in the house so that he can realise how slow and boring crawling everywhere is. But he just grins, and plods along on all fours in his own good time.

I know he'll let go one day and take a couple of sweet steps on this own, and when he realises he can do it, he'll graduate to running straight away I think. I just hope this little cautious streak of his extends to his teenage years too, and makes him think twice about driving fast in a boy racer car.

Tell me beautiful mums, anyone else out there have or know of a late walker too?

*This post of mine was first published on Mouths of Mums

Friday, 5 July 2013

If mothers are saints, single mothers must be...

I've come to the conclusion that I would make a terrible single mother.

How do I know this? Well, I've been sans husband for five days this week and feel like I've just run 10 marathons without a drinks stop. He was overseas on a work trip, keeping in touch via text and Skype, but his physical absence has been severely felt in our household.

This is kind of hard for me to admit, but you'll see what I mean when you hear about my week (which I tell at the risk of offending feminists globally)...

Day 1: I busy myself by tidying the house with the smug satisfaction that it will actually stay clean for the whole week without him here to mess it up. I start to miss him as soon as the vacuum is switched off, and can't believe I have so many days to go until he's home. At 8pm I realise it's rubbish night and there is no adult male in the house to do the dirty work, so I dutifully wheel the bin down the drive in the dark and freezing cold - no one else has their bins out though... is rubbish night still Sunday?! I have no clue and decide to leave it there as can't be bothered pushing a full bin back up the drive.

Day 2: Wake up feeling exhausted and remember too quickly that I won't be getting a break anytime soon given I'm partnerless for a few more days. This doesn't fill me with joy. I get the little guy out of his cot - thank goodness for his cheery face and soft cuddle! Given his Daddy isn't there to listen, I tell him instead about how sore my back is and how I could barely sleep thanks to his little sister kicking me all night. He stares at me blankly from his highchair, and possibly rolls his eyes.

Day 3: Decide to forgo my little toddler's bath and just give his face and hands a good wash instead. Could barely bend to lift his slippery self out of the bath tub last night and don't think I can risk putting my back out for a second night in a row. He doesn't really need a bath anyway, does he?! I'm sure he was telling me earlier in the day he hates them... let's just go with that, and wait till his Daddy's home.

Day 4: Despite packing our week full of play dates and activities, the lack of evening conversation is starting to catch up with me and I find myself rambling on to complete strangers about anything and everything in a bid to reach my weekly word quota. The pouch of soup I have for dinner tastes like crap, and I start to wonder why I make an effort with dinner when he's here but can't be bothered when he's not. My pledge to not eat any more cakes or slices goes out the window as I tip the soup down the sink and feast on a muffin from the pantry instead.

Day 5: Toddler nightmares throughout the night and midnight cuddles with little tears pooling on my shoulders, resulted in a double dose of exhaustion today and I struggle through the day in a haze akin to having a newborn in the house (good training I guess). Thank god he's back tonight.

So if mothers are saints, single mothers must be goddesses of the world that deserve a diamond-encrusted medal. I've had a glimpse into your world, and I take my hat off to you ladies.

Exhausted on Day 4, I sit down to finish reading the paper then hear "activity" in the kitchen drawers - a spicy disaster was avoided just in time!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Second pregnancy surprises

Everyone says your second pregnancy will be different to your first. As with most other things I was told about motherhood, I decided to ignore this statement too. Of course I will take as many pictures of my growing belly the second time around, I thought. Of course I will be as fascinated by the week-by-week changes and the first fluttery kicks as I was the first time, I decided.

Now over halfway with pregnancy number two, I think it's fair to say my experience has been half-half.

My Top 5 pregnancy experiences that have stayed the same:
  1. I have taken the same number of bump pics as the first time around. Granted I didn't set a high benchmark to start with, but still!
  2. I feel ravenous all the time.
  3. Even though I know that weight gain during pregnancy is healthy and normal, and even though I know I will eventually lose the baby weight, I still worry when I see how much those scales jump up each week (particularly with the number of muffins and cookies I eat, see point 2).
  4. Everything annoys me - from my husband's breathing to the way the supermarket scanner beeps at the checkout.
  5. I can't wait to have a big fat glass of wine (a common theme in previous posts too, you might say). My body didn't get the memo about finding anything not allowed during pregnancy repulsive - instead my mouth waters whenever I smell red wine, white wine, beer, gin...


Proof of point 1: Baby bump #2 at 21 weeks... just the other day!


My Top 5 pregnancy surprises unique to #2:
  1. My body feels more efficient this time around. My bump is smaller than it was at this stage the first time, I feel like I'm more mobile, have more energy and I'm not aching as much. Let's hope this continues!
  2. I feel more emotional when I feel kicks and when I see our little baby on the scans, than I did the first time around. It was surreal back then. Now I know how wonderful the end product is, I'm even more amazed by the little person growing inside me.
  3. This time around I got to experience morning sickness. Yay.
  4. There's a very excited little person who also gets to enjoy the experience this time around - is there anything cuter than a chubby finger pointing to your bump and exclaiming "Bubba!"
  5. It's a girl!
Tell me, what were/are your expectations of your second, third, fourth (or more!) pregnancies? Have you had the same experience as me?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Party fit for a Queen

It's me and Queenie's birthday this weekend. Yep, another year has whizzed on by and another candle has been put on the cake.
 
© Llandrea | Dreamstime Stock Photos
& Stock Free Images

Typically a very good excuse to drink and be merry and stay out till the wee small hours, I realised that this is the third year in a row that I've either been pregnant or breastfeeding during my birthday, and next year will be no exception. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. Of course I feel blessed and lucky to even be in this situation, but part of me would love nothing more than to pop a cork and feast on bubbles, pate and brie all day!

Part of me (the biggest part, to be fair) is blissfully happy with a sleep in, breakfast in bed and a homemade card - all necessary components of motherhood. But a teensy, little part of me is reminiscing about the sparkle of old times; the spray of perfume that completes an afternoon of preparations, the gentle ache of the most impractical but beautiful pair of heels, and the tiddly stiletto totter from dinner party to cocktail lounge.

I was so adamant that part of me wouldn't die just because I became a mother, but now I'm wondering if it's happened without me even realising it. Instead I'd like to think the party girl in me is just on hiatus, polishing her dancing heels, choosing matching accessories and [slightly] lowering the hem of my fav LBD, in preparation for my 33rd birthday in 2015.

That, my friends, is going to be one hell of a party!

Wherever you are and whatever your plans for the long weekend, I hope you're having a good one. x

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Whirlwind

I'm feeling bad that I haven't written in a while. Really bad. But in my defence I've had a lot going on, like, growing another little human, welcoming two beautiful nephews into the world and buying our first home. It has been a whirlwind few weeks.

So in the spirit of the last few weeks, this blog post is going to be a bit of a whirlwind too. Just warning you.

Since I was here last, I've been...
Looking at houses, houses and more houses, then hearing the auctioneer called "sold" on our first ever house
Taking pregnancy vitamins, struggling through morning sickness and getting butterflies over the perfect little ultrasound photos
Marvelling at a 17-month-old monkey's growing vocabulary, whilst despairing at his stubborn refusal to take his first solo steps
Juggling life living with the in-laws and a husband who seems to have an endless pile of work to do
Having perfect lunches, coffees and DVD dates with my sister, who became a mummy last week!

Today I was...
Avoiding the hail, claps of thunder and flashes of lightening at all costs
Shamelessly abusing the use of Nickelodeon Jnr all afternoon
Researching colour swatches, mood boards and furniture combos for the new house
Mopping up floors, wiping sticky handprints off tabletops, folding laundry, unloading and reloading the dishwasher three times
Keeping a little boy occupied inside, all day, with toys he's bored with - so entertained ourselves with library books, old magazines, dancing, crayons, an empty milk bottle, chasing, tuppaware and anything else that made a noise when banged
Writing this blog post while trying to encourage the same little boy to use his spoon instead of his fingers to eat his yoghurt
Smiling at how perfect life can be

Sometime in the near future I'm looking forward to...
Annoying the neighbours with the first dinner party in our new house
Seeing my son smudge a toddler kiss on his little brother or sister for the first time
Relaxing with a glass of wine and my sister and my sister-in-law, while our new kiddies play in the background
Decorating a study nook with all sorts of pretty and impractical knick-knacks that get my creative juices flowing
Pushing my two bubba's on swings
Meeting new friends in the new hood
Relaxing with a glass of wine (did I say that already?!)

Would love to hear what you've been up to and what you're looking forward to!

After today, I'm also looking forward to sunny skies and springtime!
© Kccforest | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Friday, 3 May 2013

Time traveller

Everyone tells you the time will fly, but you never believe it until one day you wake up and wonder where the last year has gone. Where the last few years have gone, if I'm being truthful.

I'm sure that just a few daydreams ago I was thinking about forging a career, wondering when I'd meet the one for me, settle down, have babies. Then, in just a few heartbeats here I am, in this life. In this beautiful dreamy world of mine, but one that's going too fast.

Time is not just flying, it's travelling first class on the next-generation supersonic airliner.

Honestly, the last time I looked, my baby was kicking merrily on a brightly coloured activity mat after a breastfeed. Fast forward to last week, and you'll see he ate roast chicken with green beans and added a pig oink to his rapidly growing list of tricks.

It wasn't until today that it suddenly dawned on me my baby can talk. He can bloody talk! His gurgles and sounds are starting to make sense - they have for some time now when I really think about it - but part of me couldn't quite believe it wasn't all a fluke. Then, this morning he said "oh no-no-no" and shook his little golden head when he saw his toothbrush (aka his most despised apparatus), and I knew then that a year or more must have passed without me even realising it.

Time does fly. It really does, my friends. But my god, I am so glad I get to fly with it.

Time to grab your wings and fly
{photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jinterwas/5819372932/}

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Familiar faces, familiar places

© Faslooff | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Just when life seems to be rosy, and I'm cosying up on the couch with pink fluffy slippers, a mug of hot chocolate and a roaring fire to keep me warm, I decide to step out into the snow. It's true. I seem to have a habit of wrenching myself out of my comfort zone before I barely have time to get comfortable.

When I finished high school, I travelled against the tide of friends heading south to university, and headed north to a bigger city and new experiences. When I met the man of my dreams, we left our jobs, friends and perfect city apartment for the hustle, bustle and unpredictability of metropolitan Sydney. When we finally became parents and settled down, we uprooted our little family and left everything behind to move back home.

These are just a few examples that spring to mind from the past 30 years, but there are many more. I'm sure to a high-flying adventurous type, this probably sounds like an average week. To me, every experience has been nerve-wracking, slightly terrifying, overwhelming, and, utterly, entirely worth it (risks kinda rock, don't they?!).

But now we're here, living as kiwis in kiwiland, I must say there's a lot to be said for familiarity. For the same accent I hear everywhere and anywhere, for the slower traffic and wider roads, for the chilly mornings and dew on the grass, for EFTPOS-ing it everywhere - even lattes, for lunch dates with my sister, for brunches with old friends, for afternoon teas with even older friends, for homemade dinners with family.

In fact, I thought this last move would be the biggest one of all. The biggest test on my nerves and anxiety levels. The biggest step out of my bubble of comfort that I'd ever experienced. After all, there's so much more at stake now and so much more that can go wrong - the first-home buying, the living with extended family, making new mummy friends, settling into true, proper family life.

Instead, I am more comfortable than I have been in a very long time. I feel grounded, complete, at peace, and so relieved to be back.

I am home, in more ways than one.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

We're here

We've been back in NZ for one and a half weeks, and while my body's tired my heart is full. We packed up our little house in Sydney without too many troubles, closed the door without shedding a tear, said goodbye to our friends and waved at the Harbour Bridge as we flew overhead.

Midway through the flight, the little one - who was over tired and emotional - had a minor melt down. OK, he cracked it. He doesn't crack it often, and mummy - who was over tired and emotional, and trying to ignore the glares coming from the passengers nearby - promptly cracked it too. Thank goodness for the men in our lives who somehow seem to be cool, calm and collected at the right moments (despite being ridiculously silly the rest of the time)!

But we made it. We're here.

The past 1.5 weeks have been so action packed I feel like we've been here for months. I've managed to...
Have coffee with my sister 3 times
View more than 20 homes for sale
Cook dinner, vacuum, clean the bathroom 0 (yes, z-e-r-o) times - my mother-in-law is a saint
Use 1 tank of petrol, that's 4 times quicker than I would in Sydney - sorry planet!
Go shopping for "things I need" every second day
Watch 30 minutes of daytime television, total (see what happens when my programmes saved to FoxtelIQ is no longer?! Real Housewives, I miss you)
Meet 4 new friends at playgroup (both of us)
Cry once
Laugh a hundred times
Thank my lucky stars, every day

My little life is full of stories right now, it's hard to know what to share, what to tell, and where to find the time to write! Please feel free to tell me what you want to know... house hunting, living with the in-laws, moving country, meeting new mums etc. etc. etc.?

I hope that, wherever you are, your heart is full too.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/swisscan/2634988820/

Monday, 25 March 2013

The home stretch

I will miss this...
Pushing the pram down our long drive towards a pot of sunshine and fun day ahead
I will miss this...
Our local Balmoral Beach, almost better than Fiji
I will miss them...

Mummy friends and their beautiful bubs
And he will particularly miss her...
Bye-bye Zoe
I will even miss this...
Our little shopping mecca just 2 mins walk down the road - coffee, nail bar, bakery and deli - need I say more
I will miss the excited chaos of living in a city that houses more people than my entire home country.
I will miss the endless blue skies and warm winds.
I will miss all of the wonderful, crazy, funny, warm, kind souls we call friends here.
Most of all, I will miss this land, with its red heart, beautiful coastline and the place where we got engaged, shared our first house together and had our first child.

But, I miss our family more. I miss them more than everything else combined and then some. And that is why now is the time to go home. I'm sure we've made the right decision. I hope we have... because we go at the end of this week, eek!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The breast* thing happened last night...

In the midst of all this moving chaos, I have decided to wean the little one. It probably would have happened earlier, but we decided to keep going until we got back from Hawaii so that I could feed and settle him on the plane if needed.

But the time has now come.

I'm not as sad about it as I thought I would be. It's fair to say I've had a love hate relationship with breastfeeding in the past 14 months. I just about threw in the towel many times in the first couple of weeks, but somehow struggled through the endless bouts of mastitis, pain and constant feeling of being attached to my bub (which I kinda was, I guess), and feel lucky that we've come this far. It did end up being a positive, and certainly convenient, experience in the end.

So I started by dropping the evening feed as soon as we got home from our holiday. Between his bath, post-holiday sleepiness and bedtime story, he barely noticed. A few days later I dropped the morning feed, and that was that.

I suppose I should be thankful that it happened seamlessly, without too many tears (from either of us) or tantrums. Naturally, it feels like the end of an era. A 'goodbye' to my baby's babyness. The start of a new chapter for all of us, particularly with a new place to call home in just 2 weeks time.

I didn't really think about the positives of weaning, more that it was just a necessary part of his growing up. But last night I experienced a really massive positive, it was the BEST thing...

I heard the bambino wake just after we'd had dinner - an unusual occurrence - but I could tell by the whimpering cry that a nightmare must have woken him up. I crept up to his room, picked him up to give him a cuddle and then, he fell asleep on my shoulder. He hasn't done that since he was little. I could have never done this pre-weaning, as my presence would have awoken a baby beast inside him resulting in him screaming the house down demanding to be fed before going back to sleep. But not tonight. I gently lifted him off my shoulder (after savouring the moment for a while) and then popped him back into his cot, stroking his little forehead until he was in a deep sleep, tucked him in, and crept back out again. My heart was full. Tonight I was just a Mummy, not a milk bar.

Was there anything you particularly missed when you said goodbye to your baby and hello to a toddler?

Sleeping baby - back in the day when sleeping on my shoulder was the norm

*Please note: this title was my attempt at being clever - the best thing that happened, the breast thing that happened, get it?!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

How to move your life from one country to another

I'm really determined to share more of what is my life right now. I think I need to get the words out as a form of therapy, plus I really want to hear from any of you that have "been there, done that" and can share some sage advice, and I'm hoping that by sharing this experience with you it may in turn help one of you too.

So - to get you up to speed - we're moving our little family across the ditch from Sydney back to Auckland. I've never actually lived in Auckland before, neither has my son for that matter, but as a Kiwi girl through and through and with many of our extended family and good friends there, we should feel right at home in no time.

We've also added a house hunt into this little stress pot. Yep, we're actually going to buy a house, a proper family home with a white picket fence and a chimney (maybe). The whole process is obviously new to us but incredibly exciting. After spending months daydreaming over the online ads of all the houses I'd love to own, it will be exhilarating actually standing on all of our potential doorsteps (the first 5 at least), seeing big family kitchens, spare bedrooms, lush green lawns, and other such wondrous things we couldn't afford in Sydney.

We have less than 3 weeks to go. While furniture is getting sold and boxes filled, we still have a bit to do, like book the removalist... For lil Miss Perfectionist Organiser here, I am [just quietly] freaking out. Moving in the opposite direction, as eager 20-somethings, was so different than now. Funny that.

Anyway, I've clearly got a lot to do so better get back to it. In the meantime, if you know of anyone that needs a new car in Sydney, let me know!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/looseid/3659492102/

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The travelling baby

I was sitting in Honolulu Airport earlier this week (as you do) with sunscreen smudges on my sunglasses, sand on the pram wheels and a heart that was giddy from a blissful two weeks in the sun with my little family.

Last week, my baby saw a turtle or ten for the first time. His fingers were often sticky from icecream. He made many castles in the sand, ate teppanyaki chicken off chopsticks and lazed in his Daddy's arms in a warm saltwater lagoon.

It was *sigh* perfection, all wrapped up in one soft chubby little package.

One happy bubba

While contemplating the 10hr flight home, planning my next blog post (and feeling very guilty that I have been keeping all my stories to myself lately), and trying to keep my adventurous toddler within a somewhat safe area of the departure terminal, I realised something.

This holiday did more than give me a barely-there tan and a dent in my wallet. It SCREAMED OUT in an announcement to the universe that we are now a family. Seems odd to say given we've been a party of three for over a year now, but this holiday confirmed that my world is now truly and completely ruled by a 14-month-old.

Chardonnay and movies on the plane were replaced with sticker books and any other distraction tactic I could muster. Romantic dinners for two were replaced with 6pm bookings and the kids menu. Hours on the sun lounger with a good book was replaced with reading a book on the balcony during afternoon nap time... and I loved every minute of it.

I loved watching my son entertain people on the plane, and getting cuddles from the ladies sitting in the row behind us. I loved seeing him try new foods in new environments and finishing every last tasty bite. I loved having some peaceful time to myself in a beautiful location while he slept. And I loved introducing him to the world again once he woke up refreshed after his lunchtime nap.

Years ago I felt pity at the "poor parents" dragging their children through family-friendly restaurants, blowing up endless pool paraphernalia and going to bed at a reasonable hour on their holiday. Now, I'm proud to be part of the club and can't wait for many more family adventures together.

*Do you have any family travel tips you'd like to share?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Keeping a sense of who you are

Some days I feel like Humpty Dumpty, sitting on the wall, trying not to break into a million pieces.

It's a strange feeling. Not completely foreign and neither happy nor sad, this Humpty Dumpty Syndrome has presented itself since motherhood when I now have every reason to keep myself together and be the best person I can be.

It has made me wonder what pieces the King's horses and King's men would find if I should fall off. What unknown golden parts of myself would be revealed, what seemingly important parts would actually just crumble into nothingness, what parts would glitter, what parts would lie dull and forgotten.

I have read about and heard from many mothers who say they lose their identity and individuality after they have children. I can see how it happens. When I look back on the time since my son was born, everything that he's done and everything that he is dominates my memory. All that I now am is tied up with him. I can imagine his childhood will whizz past in a blur, and I can imagine celebrating my youngest child's high school graduation with an equal sense of pride and what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-now?!

I'm very proud to be a mother and am utterly dedicated to my children's future, but I am a woman of many parts, and motherhood is just one part of me. It would be unfair to my soul and unfair to my children if I lose myself in this very important role I am now blessed to be playing. I don't know if it's achievable, but I want to do everything I can to continue to be my own person, pursue my heart's desires, entertain my whims and seek my own enjoyments in life.

I see Humpty Dumpty Syndrome as a good thing. I'm not going to sit but instead walk, dance, skip along that wall because I'm not scared of falling off, particularly if it means I get to leave behind the pieces of myself I no longer have a use for and put myself back together again with all that glitters and glows.

**I would love to hear about your experience / challenges / triumphs in keeping a strong sense of who you are...


http://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/470473931/

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The 5 biggest surprises of the first 12-months

The blogging stars have aligned. Toddler has been happily playing with his books and toys for more than 5 minutes straight, the cup of caffeine I'm hastily sipping is still steaming, and my laptop is beckoning me over to write a long overdue blog post... so, here I am.

I do apologise for the extended silence thus far in 2013 my lovelies (I still can't believe it's February already!!), it's no excuse, but I seem to have many balls in the air and juggling is taking priority over writing at the moment. Thankfully they're all good balls (can I say that?) - like a family trip to NZ, a poolside holiday 10 hours away and... oh yeah, another very big 'trip' expected to happen in a mere matter of weeks that will involve selling, packing and shifting our entire life. But more on that later.

I know I've already written about the year that was my biggest ever, but while I have a time out from the endless-planning that is my life right now, I wanted to share what I found to be the 5 biggest surprises of my first year as a Mum.

1. He's totally chilled

Dancing
After being told at every scan throughout my pregnancy that we had a highly active baby, after waking up several times throughout my pregnancy to my belly {literally} shaking from side to side thanks to my darling son having some kind of party in utero, after growing up with Barbie-loving and {for the most part} quiet sisters, I truly believed the universe was about to play a little game by blessing me with an uncontrollable, loud, messy, muddy, insanely energetic, crazy little boy. Instead, he is one cool and calm customer, utterly serene, gentle (he'll often tickle my eyelashes with the tip of his finger, for example), so loving, cuddly, interested, cautious and oh so cheeky. Give the boy a beat and he will dance with moves that even I can't master. And that smile. Oh god, that grin of his will be his biggest weapon.

2. It was easy
OK, before you throw up your hands and log off Latte Mum forever, hear me out. For me, having a little baby around was much easier than I expected - there, I said it. Maybe my expectations were easy to exceed thanks to all the horrendous labour stories I had heard and the articles I read on the perils of sleep deprivation, but at the end of the day I will happily admit I found the predictable routine of breastfeeds, swaddling, nappies and burping a newborn was far more straightforward than I was expecting. What about now? Well, 12-months on I can say that toddlerhood is a whole different story. Snacks, making mash / interesting finger food / soft chicken / banana / yoghurt, playgrounds, hazards, teeth brushing, climbing, trying to eat sticks, trying to eat whatever crumbs are on the unvacuumed floor, attempting to grab {full} coffee mugs,  entertaining {with twenty different things until something works} and an independent little 1-year-old is a lot harder to manage!

3. I have no freedom
Pre-parenthood I just assumed the little poppet would fit into my life and plans; happy to be a cute little spectator to whatever I decided to do during my "leisurely" maternity leave. How utterly wrong I was. There's very little about my life that revolves around me, because it's all about him. And that's exactly the way I want it to be.

4. I still want to party like it's 1999
While very much a dedicated mum, I still have moments (usually on a Friday night when I'm two glasses of wine down and halfway through a TV movie) when I wish I could go back to my past life, just for one weekend. I wish I could still fit into my skinny jeans, still walk in very high heels, and still drink and dance till the wee small hours knowing all I have to do the next day is wake up (whenever) and get takeaways.

5. It's a slow burn
Some women describe a thunderbolt feeling and instantaneous connection when they first look into their baby's eyes, but for me it's been a slow burn. Of course I felt an incredible love for him even before the beginning, but my admiration, affection and bond has grown exponentially since then. In fact, most of the time I feel like he's the cool new kid at school that everyone (read: me) wants to hang out with, and so they (read: me) desperately try to impress them at every moment. I just think he's the best, and I know a lifetime won't be long enough to spend with him.

Tell me, what surprised you the most when you became a parent? Is there anything that continues to surprise you as time goes on?


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Real Mums wanted!

Bye-bye BFF Giuliana
I realised tonight that Giuliana and I have grown apart, and I am gutted.

With baby asleep in bed, I happily nestled into the couch with a glass of white in hand and pressed play on the first of several episodes of Giuliana & Bill I had cued and ready to watch. After watching Giuliana's heart wrenching and courageous journey to motherhood in previous seasons, she and Bill have finally welcomed baby Duke into the world. I couldn't wait to see how everything unfolded, and share many a knowing nod at their new-parent trials and joys. Furthermore, with my hubby away for work I get to enjoy back-to-backs without his endless commentary about Giuliana's ridiculous vocabulary or Bill's teeth. Bliss!

My excitement was short lived because, Giuliana, you lost me at: "Bill & I are just heading downstairs {in the Four Seasons} for a couples massage while {our baby nanny} Phyllis looks after {2 day old} Duke", and you had me totally shaking my head when you said to the lady giving your barely-worked hands a manicure: "Man, it's so tiring being a new Mum - I die... no wait, I gag... no wait, I yawn" (she does have a weird way with words now that I think about it). Then, had I not been so desperate keen to enjoy the one and only glass of wine I would have tonight, it would have no doubt been downed in one gulp when I saw she was out with her girlfriend for a 25-course-degustation with matching wines to discuss the hardships of motherhood.

I'm sure it's not all massages, champagne and frivolity for her, and I realise there's nothing very TV-worthy about a Mum that's about to change the sixth nappy for the day, before hanging the washing on the line and then picking up toys that have been scattered over the floor while singing nursery rhymes to a need-to-be-stimulated-now baby. But it's made me wonder, who are our mummy role models these days? It seems our lives (or possibly just mine) are filled with images of mummy celebs who are too posh to bath, dress, walk, entertain or spend any time with their child, or Mums with 18 children and counting, or teenage Mums with 4 children under the age of 5... hmmm, perhaps I do watch too much reality TV?!.

While you and I both know that parenthood is actually a unique combination of incredible joys and head scratching challenges, with lots of mundane but necessary things to do each day in order to keep our children thriving, I am a little worried that the unrealistic picture our limelight-hogging sisters portray feeds unhealthy expectations and adds pressure to those of us without cleaners, nannies or massage therapists.

I realised a long time ago that my "Mummy celebs" are actually my Mum, my sisters, my friends, my peers. Not the plastic fantastic ladies that entertain and frustrate me in equal measure. Maybe that's another reason why I wanted Latte Mum to exist, so that I could connect with you all and hear your wonderful, funny, inspiring, terrifying, uplifting, and very real pieces of mummyhood advice instead.

So, what did you do today? My TV is now off.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Is your heart at home?

What a difference a year can make. Twelve months ago I was breastfeeding around the clock and carefully nurturing our newborn bundle, this year I am a fully fledged Mum of a busy toddler who has just celebrated his 1st birthday and Christmas.

Yep, the mummy training wheels are well and truly off and I feel I've added many more feathers in my cap this past year: sandwich maker extraordinaire, building block architect, pram packer expert, and healer-with-a-cuddle... just to name a few.

Yet while I've been learning about life, love and this little being we've created, said boy has been learning and growing in what can only be described as epic proportions. In the two wonderful weeks we have just spent with our extended family in the mother country, his latest feats include (but are not limited to):
  • Figuring out how to put {the right} shapes {into the right holes} in the shape sorter (thanks Aunty Hayley)
  • Getting into a sitting position from his tummy, on slippery tiles, without moving backwards (thanks Grandad)
  • Manoeuvring forwards, backwards and side to side on a little toy trike (thanks Granny, Poppa and Nonnie)
  • Developing his own kind of sign language - hands up and waving, hands on eyes, hands on mouth, hands on side of head, hands on tummy, and {my favourite} hand on heart (thanks Aunty Jasmine)
  • Ate a raw stick of carrot (I was impressed!), and cake, and a piece of chicken, and ham, and other grown-up food (thanks Daddy, and all the chefs)
  • Riding a {rocking} horse (thanks Nana and Poppa)
  • Sleeping soooooo well (thanks everyone for tiring him out by keeping him so entertained)...

Incredible what a 1-year-old "sponge" can do in two weeks when exposed to new experiences, new environments and new people. All I managed to sponge was rich food and endless bubbles.

So, after being the star attraction every day for the last two weeks, he was a little bored with just his Mummy during our first day back as a twosome yesterday. I already miss seeing his face light up at a familiar grandparent who adores him back just as much. I miss watching him learn from his extended family; he really did blossom in every single way.

Loving the lawn
New Zealand (namely my hometown Christchurch, where we spent most of our holiday) held other surprises too. It seemed to sparkle. The quiet streets immediately relaxed me. The houses with lawns and children playing were a welcome sight. The newly created city mall with perfect coffee and colourful boutiques made me feel all kiwiana. My heart broke just a little when we had to leave.

I thought I had grown out of New Zealand many years ago, when the bright lights, thriving crowds and trendy apartment living of Sydney beckoned. But if I'm honest, if home is where the heart is, then I haven't been at home in Sydney for a while now.

Perhaps 2013 will hold some big changes for us.

Tell me, what do you hope is in store for you this year?