Safe

Tonight we attended the Christmas production at LINC (our church). It was magical and our girls sat in awe as they watched Aunty Erin and Aunty Nicky dancing on the stage.

We had promised to buy them an ice cream afterwards and while Marc was queuing to pay, Ryen came to sit with me a little way off,where I was waiting for them. Friends milled about, chatting and there was the general hustle and bustle that comes with fellowship and MANY many people.

And then all the lights went out. Now you’ll need to picture this: we meet at a Litchi Orchard. It is DARK with no lights. DARK! It is pouring with rain and so people are jammed packed in under cover. We are a hot mess of bodies in a dark mess of BLACK darkness.

I say, “Ry, stand still. Mica …”. WHERE is Mica? “Mica”! A little louder, “MICA”! “Marc, where is Mica”? And then PANIC! Marc and I both start shouting, “Mica! Mica”! Ryen is sobbing for her sister, other people start running, calling for her. Marc has his iPhone on torch mode and is holding it above his head shouting in his deep voice, scanning the crowd. Some one (I think Lyndall – thank you, Lynds!) says she went out the side door. Marc is running and we are both still shouting. Ryen is hysterical (Emme is fast asleep in her pram and Courts is in Jo’burg) and we have other people looking, looking. Time stands still and I have one of those “what if” moments. “God please” is all I can muster.

“Marc, Marc! Here she is”. I hear it before I see it and my knees almost buckle in relief. In what was probably only 3 minutes I had gone through every possibility and through everything my little girl could be feeling! I follow the beam of Marc’s torch through the window where I stand, and there, perched on my angel friend, Sam’s lap is my Mica. Happy as Larry. Totally oblivious to everything but the fact that “there is no power, Mom”.

I scoop my hysterical 5year old up to show her her safe little sister and together we say, “Thank you, God”.

“Thank you, God” seems like such a small measure for what I felt. Because as I stood there, it hit me. All day, every day, He is saving us. He is preventing near death, possible disasters, pain … The list is endless. Every moment we have with hearts beating and breath in our lungs is a “Thank you, God” moment.

Thank you, God! May I live with a grateful heart. May I run this race with Your mercy and strength and may I never stop saying, “Thank you, God” .

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P.s moms have to have eyes in the back of their heads, I tell you! These things happen so quickly! New rule in the Maurel home: you may not leave the pram when we are out because you need to help look after Emme (wink wink).

P.s.s there were no ice creams, the girls had cupcakes instead.

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Emme in my arms

It’s 9pm and Emme is usually safely snuggled up in bed by this time. Tonight I just felt like cuddling. So, she’s fast asleep, milk dribbling from the corner of her mouth and soft bubby-body draped across my middle. Warm. Happy.

I was telling some friends last night that I feel so focused on her being a baby, that I am really making an effort to ‘be present’ with her. To just savor the moments I have with her as she grows and changes (and in so doing, also start doing this with each of my other girls). I was so hung up on routines and stimulation and doing the right thing with my other girls, that I forgot about just enjoying THEM. I love the routines, stimulation side of parenting. A lot! I love all I have learnt over the past fourteen years of parenting and how I have been able to use that knowledge to help so many other moms. I love that I am still learning!

I am learning to sit and stare. To really watch the girls bloom and grow. To LISTEN to them, to smile at them, to hold them often, to drink them in. Sometimes, this means forgoing normal routines. So what? I’m going to do it a whole lot more. It’s magical!

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Four is big

My Mica (Demica-Simone) is going to be FOUR tomorrow! I am sitting on the end of her bed, listening to her breathe as she sleeps, thinking, “where has the time gone? Just the other day she was 2.6kgs small and here she is a whole, big FOUR years old!

If you don’t know her, she is one of the friendliest, happiest children you’ll ever meet. She hugs you with her eyes. She is quirky, and whacky and completely wild with a cheeky sense of humor and good nature to boot.

I love mothering all my girls and for many different reasons. In honor of her birthday, I’ll tell you a bit about why I love mothering Mica:

On the day she was born, this little 5 week prem noodle latched and fed for two full hours. She barely cried, and was handed around a room full of my family at 2 hours old without making so much as a peep. She wooed us all with her dimples and what looked like a little smile, already. She came out strong, tenacious, friendly and just too darn cute for her own good. I loved being her mom in those first moments because she grabbed my heart and melted it.

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As she grew, so did her smile. She started smiling at two weeks old and hasn’t stopped since. Her dimples have her drawing attention wherever she goes and beware, if she aims a cheeky grin at you, you are tickets. There is no resisting her charm and contagious personality (Demica means friendly, by the way. How appropriate) . I love being her mom because she smiles her way through all things.

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My little Moodle is tenacious, cheeky and down right wild. She has me running most days. She handles conflict head on, takes no nonsense and makes her way through life with two feet firmly on the ground (or couch, table, jungle gym etc.) and a practical outlook. I love being her mom because she keeps me on my toes and astounds me with her sensibilities all at once.

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Mica loves. She loves with her whole heart and gives her love freely. To all people. Just today she invited two strangers to her birthday “party” tomorrow. Because she loves, she hates to say goodbye. There are many occasions where she has been inconsolable after a farewell (especially when she has to say goodbye to her Nan and Andad). She also misses people, often remembering them in her bedtime prayers. I will never forget her standing at our gate calling and calling for Bruce who had not been to visit for quite some time. I love being her mom because she has such a heart for people and because she has taught me to love even the unlovely.

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My Mica is strong. She arrived 5 weeks early with no complications. She has had to see a doctor about 5 times in 4 years. She falls, gets up, brushes herself off and carries on. She handles life much the same way. I love being her mom because she doesn’t let life get in the way of living.

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There are many reasons I love being Mica’s mom. They all boil down to this: she is who she is and there is no way she would ever apologize for that. She loves life, people and music. She loves extravagantly and with her whole self. She is happy and naughty and fun and cute and very very beautiful. I am blessed to have been entrusted with her and can only pray I am doing a decent job of raising her.

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My prayer as her mom is that she will find love wherever she is, that she will always talk to God like she does now and that she will handle life’s disappointments with the strength and grace she displays already. I pray that her life will impact others and that her voice will be a voice of change. That her smile will always steal hearts and that her outer beauty will be enhanced by a beautiful heart. I pray that she never looses her zest for life and that she has as much fun living when she is old and gray as she does now.

Happy Birthday my Mica Moo. I love you I love you I love you!

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Drink lots of water

I have just responded to a message someone sent me prior to the birth of her fourth baby, asking me if I had any wisdom to share with her. I thought I would share some of what I said to her with you, too:

How are you finding fourth time round? I have to say, I spent the first month in a total baby bubble, just enraptured by my sweet girl and oblivious to anything other than my family and girls, in particular.

I have really enjoyed number four. I think I am more focused on the fact that these baby moments are so fleeting, so have spent ages just drinking little Emme in. She is such a delight, to all of us, but largely to me. Her every squeak is music to my ears and I crave her soft little body in my arms whenever she is out of them. I spend ages staring at her, coaxing smiles, and now laughs,out of her as if my life depends on it (and in some ways it does) . I am so afraid of missing out on any moments with her. I stare at her in her sleep, in case I miss a dreamy smile. And I never ever mind 3am giggles.

That said, it is quite an adjustment having four and the demands of being present for them all have, at times, threatened to overwhelm me. The biggest piece of advice I could give you is to have grace for yourself. I like to have all my ducklings in a row, and have had to really let go of my own need for order and routine (OCD?) and allow the present to unfold. An organic lifestyle seems to be the way forward for us right now. I am sure that in time I will regain some of my much-loved structure. But for now, I am living in the freedom of knowing that I am not perfect and that letting some things slide is not the end of the world. That being a good mom does not mean I have to be perfect, it means allowing myself space to adjust, to have grace flow in and through me and to just live loving.

Also, sleep whenever you can! Take people up on offers of help and drink lots of water ( I keep dehydrating, I keep forgetting to drink up).

I can’t wait to hear how you all are. Much love to you and your gang!!!

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A monkey, two tigers and an elephant

I just had a phone call with a friend and in the first part of the call she said something along the lines of, ” You seem to be coping so well with your four kids. I’ve seen all your posts on facebook of you baking with them etc.” My response: ” I help myself cope by posting pics that make me look good, on Facebook.”

Truth be told, I haven’t done any shopping all week. Old Mother Hubbard had more in her cupboard than I do at the moment. I have been allowing more DVD time than usual for Ry and Mica and I am not entirely sure if they brushed their teeth (even though I told them to) this morning. Our normal routines may have been left outside on the line with the clothes I meant to bring in, or maybe they are with the gumboots I saw lying in the garden – last week. Either way, what looks to you like ‘coping so well’ looks more like ‘just getting by’ to me.

Juggling four children is a task in itself. Juggling a baby, two kids under 6 and a teenager is like juggling a monkey, two tigers and an elephant ( in no particular order, Courts ). Some weeks are more challenging than others. Sometime I drop the baby -figuratively- and have to do that fancy footwork soccer players do with the ball to get it back in the air, with said baby, and just continue juggling. This week, we had: exams, baking, play dates, art, tummy time, thanks giving and night owls, to name a few juggling balls. Who knows what next week will bring.

I’m up for it. I’m in! But, please, whatever you do, don’t stop telling me I look like I’m coping well. Your encouragement is what keeps the ball rolling (or balls up in the air). I feed off it. And off the pics I post that make it all look good.

(and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love this life I’ve chosen. Juggling and all, I’m having a ball!)

Here are some random pics because I hate posts without pictures. Will have to find time to edit and post decent pics … One day. Emme is NOT that huge, it’s the angle of the pic that makes her look like Baby Giant.

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No one does it better than you (and Five Roses)

I sat nursing Emme at my friend, Sam’s house this afternoon. She sat doing the same with Eva-Mae, Emme’s bestie, who just happened to be born about 18 hours after Emme was. Ryen and Mica played happily at our feet and the conversation went something like, “I never get tired and I’m always so energized to do fun things with these perfect children”. . .

Ok, I lie. We were nursing. That part is true. The rest is a fabrication, a little “I wish” moment. I love being a 24/7 mom. That is true. But, my girls are far from perfect (I, in fact, had just raised my voice – ever so slightly – to one little perfect for touching Sam’s ornaments and then rescued a computer mouse from another little perfect’s paws. No names mentioned, Ryen and Mica.). I am FAR from perfect. And, the conversation went more like this, ” I have days when I really am tired and being a 24/7 mom is hard work”.

I homeschool my girls. I chose this as a way of life because I am passionate about my girls, their well-being, their education, their everything. I love what I do and it has been a dream come true to be at home with them every day, investing in their lives and learning with them. That said, Sam posed a very valid question today : do I ever take time for me?

I do. Not enough, though. I keep telling myself I need to, and then weeks go by and I’m feeling frazzled and grumpy and tired and … I have only myself to blame, because I stopped prioritizing me and put my girls first one too many times. Now, mums, listen up. Listen well. It is harmful, yes I said harmful, to neglect alone time. It is detrimental to your own sanity, your children’s well being and your husband’s you-know-what life to put your “you time” on a back-burner and to put being super mum as your number one priority. Yes, no one – NO ONE – does it better than you do (mothering, people, MOTHERING. Not the other “it”. Gutters, I say). As Sam and I said today, no one is going to care for your babies like you do or teach them as well as you do or rock them, feed them, love them etc. etc. as you do. Truth. That said, you are going to drop the ball at some point if you don’t allow someone to do a second-rate job (which, to be fair, will be a damn side better than second rate) and leave your precious ones for a few hours and grab some quality time with yourself!

Please understand, I am preaching to myself here. And to you. Us moms, we seem to have this switch that puts us into mom overdrive and we can’t turn it off. I think maybe it’s up there in the nape of our necks like a doll’s cry button. You know the spot? It’s the same spot we like to bury our noses into on our tiny babies. Well, because it is so hard to reach we sometimes ignore it and when we do, we need someone else (like me, now) to push it for us, to switch it off and say, “Go! Now!”.

Now here is the freeing thing. No one does it better than you. For real, not a soul in this world can match you. God made you for that purpose. And when you can grasp that in order for you to do your best, to be the best for your kids and your man and YOURSELF, you need to allow someone to fill in for you from time to time. You need to switch that button off and breathe in some alone time. Browse the ADULT clothes section, refrain from ooh-ing and aha-ing in the baby section. Flip through the pages of a magazine, sip a coffee, try on some outfits that are impractical because they are: white, too smart, too tight, not conducive to breast feeding. Sit alone at a coffee shop and wait for your tea to brew, because in that space – no one does it better than you (and five roses).

Thank you, Sam for asking me if I take time for me today. You got up there in the nape of my neck and flicked my switch. And here I sit, kids all sleeping, sipping tea and breathing in some me time. NICE!

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Wordy Wednesday: Everybody Hum

Word: Chavish (noun)

Pronounced: CHAY-vish

Meaning: From the Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect ( Francombe & Co, 1875) – ‘A chattering or prattling noise of many persons speaking together’.

Anyone who has been in our home will agree that this word is MOST appropritiately used to describe the … ummm …¬†¬†well, noise that can be heard coming out of our windows and doors.

It is never quiet here. It is just the way we like it. Chattery and prattly …

Even more so, now our extended family, in the form of my brothers, sister and their respectives, have arrived.

I haven’t stopped smiling in days!

BUT, I miss my Mamma and Pappa!