Sunday, March 30, 2008

**Cluck Cluck**

Photo by Me - Day 4

My dear friend had her second child on Wednesday - a sweet, precious, adorable girl:

Little girls are precious gifts,
wrapped in love serene.
Their dresses tied with sashes
and futures tied with dreams

Just seeing her sweet face took me back to when my own precious sons and daughters came into the World. All the hopes and dreams that come to your heart for them and their future. I am so inordinately blessed to have been able to call myself Mother, not once, but four times. It's such a heady responsibility combined with immense pride, wonder and love. Ah, sweet babies.

I know of so many people who would love a child of their own to raise, either coming to their families through, birth, adoption, fostering etc. Tonight I will be lighting a candle and sincerely pray & wish that every family who wanted to be blessed with children were; without struggle, loss or heartache.

Yesterday Steven participated in a parade to officially open his new unit. I didn't take any photos as he was back in the second row but Poppy squealed in delight when she saw him march past, sword drawn. At the conclusion of the parade which included a gun salute, a C130 and F11 fighter jet went over the parade ground, not only providing a huge shock to the ears of the watchers but a great excitement as well. It was lovely to see him march past, he makes me so proud in the job that he does and it's nice to be able to go and 'support' him!

We participated in Earth Hour last night - how about you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Poppy's Birth Story

I saw the Birth-story carnival happening over at Sarcastic Mom. How could I pass up the chance to reminisce the arrival of my lil' Popstar? I also have Jaynie, Darcy & Cammie's birth story but Poppy's is the most recent and my only drug-free Birth (apart from 2 sucks of gas).

I had epidurals for the others. Why that counts I have no idea, how a child enters this World is completely irrelevant to me. I am so thankful that modern medicine lets us bring home babies (and mothers) that would not have survived in earlier times. But I realise that view isn't held by all. Anyway, onto my 'baby's' arrival, 13 months to the day after her 'big' brother:

I lost my mucous plug at 33 weeks and had pain on and off since. By 37 weeks I had truly had enough of lugging a big 12 month old up & down stairs and being in constant pain. Everyone got sick with a gastro and a couple of days later I copped it along with more contractions. I ended up in the Birth Suite for monitoring but it seemed to be more of the same irritable uterus contractions that I had been having for weeks.

I had a Midwife appointment at 38+ 5 and she booked me in to see the Doctors to discuss induction. We went in on the Thursday expecting to be told to wait it out as the hospital have a policy not to do ‘social’ inductions under 41 weeks. Michelle looked at me & said – how’s Tuesday for you? It sounded wonderful as I had been having 3-4 hour blocks of contractions at 3 minutes apart since my gastro session 2 weeks earlier. She did an internal and said I was 2 ½ cms dialated and did a stretch and sweep hoping to get things going. Seeing as I had never gone past 38 weeks before this was a new experience and not one I was enjoying!

I had bloody show for the whole weekend and hours & hours of contractions, but never constant enough to warrant heading into the hospital.

Tuesday morning came & by 7am we were in the car on the way to the hospital to finally meet our baby. Steven and I were both laughing that she was a stubborn little thing, determined to make a grand entrance when she was ready. I was so nervous, after having gone through this 3 times before I was well aware of what I was in for and just didn’t want to go through the pain. I was scared of the pain, scared of the epidural, scared of having a baby 13 months after my last one – just SCARED!

Having gone through the Birth Centre for my pregnancy I was bummed at having to go to the delivery suite but had been reassured that if it was at all possible, I would have a Birth Centre midwife to help during my labour. I had grown quite close to the Midwives, especially Virginia who had been a constant source of positive energy & reinforcement during my very difficult pregnancy. I was absolutely thrilled when I walked into room One to find Virginia waiting for me! I turned to Steven and said “everything’s going to be fine, it’s turning out the way it was meant to”. Virginia had been on holidays for the past 3 or so weeks leading up to my labour, so it really seemed like fate!

A Dr came in & try to insert a canula. Three attempts later we were having no joy – my veins had disappeared! I sat with my hands in warm water for 10 minutes and had a cup of tea while we waited for another Dr & some local anaestethic. I had freaked out while we were attempting the canula, it was so painful and I just felt so unready for this. Virginia told me I was fine, the baby was fine & she wouldn’t let anything bad happen. She just took total control & micro-managed everything, doctors included, she was wonderful. I made a conscious decision to hand the reins over to her and put my complete trust in her. Everything calmed down for me after that.

The canula finally got put in, had some monitoring then it was time to break my waters. Virginia announced me 3-4 cms and very stretchy and proceeded to break my waters at 8:30. She started the drip at the lowest amount and after a little bit more monitoring told us to go for a walk , get Steven some breakfast and come back in an hour. What a difference from Cameron’s Birth! We had been stuck on the bed on the monitor the entire time. We felt so funny sitting in the cafĂ©, knowing I had dripping waters and watching the World go about it’s business!

I had a few more contractions, enough to stop & breathe through them but nothing new compared to the last 3 weeks. We got back to the room at 9:40 after walking past the nurses’ station and having a chat to the Doctor about having to boot that drip up as I was still talking!

Virginia put the drip up one more increment & I looked at the clock - 9:50am. The student Dr Emma began asking us questions about our other Births when all of a sudden – WHAM. A huge contraction. “This is it” I said to Steven and proceeded to cry – it was so painful & I still had hours to go! Virginia set the fit ball up on the end of the bed and showed me how to lean over it and roll my hips. She got Steven to stand behind me to ensure I was doing enough as I just seemed to get stuck still, banging on the ball and moaning. I went from a do-able contraction every 4 minutes to one on top of the other, impossible pains!

Virginia ducked out & came back in to set up the gas – I was reluctant to use it as when I tried it with Jaynie I just felt sick but she told me I had to use it to slow down my breathing. I used it for 2 contractions. I can remember the noise of the machine & Steven telling me “listen to the noise, concentrate on the noise”. In the background I could hear Virginia “All’s fine, everything’s fine” in a low unhurried voice. Whenever I got a mini break between contractions she would tell Steven and I how well we were doing, we were having our baby and we were great.

All of a sudden I got so tired and needed to wee so bad. I announced “I can’t do this anymore, it’s too much, I need to wee”
Virginia got me to the toilet and I started crying & told her to organize an epidural please, I couldn’t do it anymore.

As soon as my bum hit the toilet seat I was overwhelmed and started begging for an epidural & I just couldn’t wee. She grabbed me in a big hug and told me it might be too late but hop on the bed and she’d check. I got quite hysterical at this point & started arguing that it was too soon, I wasn’t dialated enough & I couldn’t bear the pain for hours more.

I clung onto Steven for dear life as they raised the head end of the bed and he helped me get on to it & untangle the drip. We seemed to be completely connected, everything I thought I needed - he’d do. I’d think “I need to be held” and an instant later his arms would wrap around me or I’d think I need pressure on my lower back & his hand would be there before I could ask – it was amazing and a little freaky!

All of a sudden I was bearing down and Virginia said, “here she comes!” I lost all inhibition and was groaning so loud, apologizing for making so much noise, then groaning again. I had one contraction, felt a clunk, felt it ease a bit, then peak again when her head was delivered and then she just came flying out at 10:22am!

I remember leaning over the end of the bed exhausted, crying then Virginia telling me to turn around & meet my baby. I told her I couldn’t as I hadn’t had her yet! Eventually she manually turned me around and I saw my little girl. I think I said “Wow” then sat there in dumb silence for more than 20 minutes! I couldn’t believe it was over and there was my baby! I actually went into shock as it was so quick.

My established labour was 32 minutes from first “this is it” contraction to her being delivered. Transition to Birth is written as 11 minutes.

After I got my voice back, we sat discussing names. She was meant to be a Hayley Mae but just didn’t look like one – she looked like a Poppy so Poppy Mae she is!

3460gms or 7 lb 6 oz and 49cms long.

I was back in the ward by 12 and had the kids in by
1pm! Such a difference to my other labours: Anna-Jayne was 24 hours, Darcy 12 hours and Cameron 4 ½ hours, all with epidurals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Saint Theresa's Prayer

Child's Touch Willow Tree Statue - Photo by me

May today there be peace within.

May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Meal Plan

Old Homestead near Rushworth 2006, pic taken by Steven

After the excitement of the long weekend - it's back to the daily grind on the ranch.

Having just completed our first full fortnight of Meal Planning, I thought I would share with you. My plan looked like this (everything is made from scratch):

Chicken, Noodles Stir-fry
Lamb Roast
Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
BBQ Ribs
"Popcorn" (store bought 100% chicken mini nuggets from Aldi) chicken wraps
Chicken Enchiladas
BBQ Salmon
Tuna and Sweet Potato Croquets
Bacon Quiche
Fried Rice with Spring Rolls and Dumplings
Chicken Schnitzels

All were with either veg or salad and other sides. It worked really well to do it this way as I could buy exact quantities of ingredients and vary the meat/chicken/fish quantities. It also stopped me from staring at the frozen meat and drawing a blank of what to cook.

I have so many recipes that I use that it would take me all month to write them here but I will try to blog one recipe a week maybe?

I love to cook so although my menu may look labour intensive ie: making schnitzel, shortcrust pastry, dumplings, spring rolls from scratch, it would be easy to buy ready-made. I make bulk lots of pizza dough, dumplings, spring rolls etc and stock my freezer so I have 'take away' food ready to go. I realise it may not be the healthiest, low fat meal plan in the World but I believe in having yummy home-cooked food so you don't buy it elsewhere!

I would love to see anyone else's meal plans and recipes they love, I find a lot of my meal inspiration on the Internet. The best sweet I've ever made came from here - Oh good lord, they are the BEST. I took a pan of them to my friends' one afternoon and they thought we'd bought them. I think I will abstain from making them this fortnight as I don't think my belt would stand the strain. It's under enough pressure from the Easter chocolate!

Back later with my Cleaning task sheet.....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Sugary Easter!

We've had a lovely quiet weekend so far... How about you?
Friday we decided to make sugar biscuits then ice & decorate them. We had a blast watching the kids drizzle icing over everything bar the biscuits! And we did some Easter craft, followed by a park outing - a real kids' day (of course as parents we had absolutely NO FUN, playing and running around like a child is too immature for us - not ;) ).

Yesterday saw us doing some shopping - Steven needs to buy a handheld MGRS Sat Nav thingy - all very technical! He still hasn't decided which one he'll get.

Then this morning was a flurry of shiny wrappers and exclamations of bliss through sticky mouths and fingers! Our Easter Egg hunt was fabulous as this is the first year all the children have been able to really hunt the eggs - they all went into a communal basket for "sharing" and this arrangement seems preferable to complaints of "He's got more than me!". It also goes with the spirit of the season.

Then my Dad came up for lunch which was so lovely. He turned 60 at the end of last month so we gave him a Willow Tree statue (he loved it), and made him BBQ ribs (his favourite). It's so cool to be able to hang out with a parent as a parent. It may sound strange that I'm saying this seeing as I've been a parent for over 6 years now, but this is the first time we've lived within 'visiting distance' of each other. I'm getting to know him in a totally different light and it's great.

So now we're off to the park again to burn off some sugar rush in the hopes of getting them into bed at a reasonable hour. Wish me luck!

Wishing you a joyous Easter.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Organisation is not intuitive

At least not to me anyway. I struggle on a daily basis with the most simple of house chores. One day if you had the misfortune of popping in for coffee you would be greeted with a house that looks as if a bomb had gone off in it. On a good day you would come in and think it looks reasonable.

I have had a long history of peaks and troughs in housekeeping. I have dreams of my home looking like a Martha Stewart photoshoot but will settle for consistent mediocrity. How to achieve this? I have had many a discussion with Tania (my dear fellow long suffering Army wife friend) and we agreed to be each others' cheerleader. I love the idea of FlyLady but I get so transfixed with not missing emails, I end up on the computer even more and that is not conducive to better housekeeping - not with so many beautiful blogs to look at....

We started with a dreams list for our home. Mine looked like this:

I would love:
  • to have a house ANYONE could call in on any time of day & I wouldn't be embarrassed to open the door to them.
  • to be able to access each cupboard & see what I need and can use - no clutter.
  • to go into my shed and know what's there.
  • to get going in the morning without having to ask - where are socks, books, lunch etc
  • have enough of a plan that every meal is nutritious and tasty.
  • always have enough fresh fruit & milk in the fridge.
  • have enough $ budgeted that I can pay every bill the day I get it.
  • have time to play with the kids without - "I should be doing xyz" going through my brain.
Then we got practical. We meal planned and collated ideas and have planned a fortnightly cook-up session.

We also made an "Organisation Folder" to be the hub of our new found organised life. Mine has 5 categories:
  • Current To-Do - for lists, a clear pocket for post, notes etc
  • Finance - a clear pocket for bills to be paid, lists of upcoming bills, wants (eg:new mattress) & needs (eg: new sneakers)
  • Meals - a Fortnightly meal plan, clear pocket for take-away vouchers, shopping list
  • School/Kindy - upcoming events, clear pockets for communication to be filled & returned
  • Long-term To-Do - lists (eg: sort linen cupboard)
I also have a cardboard envelope containing envelopes, stamps and address labels.

It resides on my bench and have a look each evening to see where I am sitting and what's coming up. I also stuck a little whiteboard to my pantry to put on the upcoming events for the next fortnight so I don't forget.

For most of you this will seem like overkill but I find with the 3 little ones and a DH working long hours, the more I don't have to 'remember' the better it works for me. It's taken a lot of stress off me, that's for sure. I will also blog my meal plan and weekly tasks list if you like?!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Our weekend

We headed to Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens on Saturday and then Sunday saw us heading to two Birthday parties! I have a lot more photos to share but seeing as they are of other people's children I won't blog them.

It was lovely to see new friends and old, to share memories and hopes for the future.

It was especially lovely to celebrate Izaac's 1st Birthday - as an ex-29 weeker he's had a rough start to life but is thriving now (with minor hiccups). His parents have struggled to get him to where he is today & of course there is still the concern that his premature arrival Earth-side may present some problems further down the track, but for yesterday we were able to revel in his babyhood and celebrate the marvellous acheivements and joy he has brought everyone that comes in contact with him.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Hangie

More presents. Although I think these might be destined for Poppy's room. I am really pleased with how they turned out. I am trying to let go of the idea that for craft to be good/real, it must have lots of intricisy and work and just have a bit of fun and do things that are appealing to my eyes.

Lots of Catching Up To Do

I have so many photos to upload and stories to share but I am going to try and eek them out a bit. I have been trying to stay organised and focused in the home and cutting down my Internet time has been crucial to that goal. That, and keeping an organiser - but more on that later.

I have promised myself that I won't get caught up in trying to produce "perfect" posts. I am going to approach it as if I am writing a journal for my own use & try not to worry about sounding like a dag at every turn.

There were some family issues that caused me to take down my blog for a while but I have been assured that there is no reason not to have it so I am back - confused some?! Lets just say alls well that ends well.

Here are some presents I have worked on this week, the mobile for a dear friends' son's 1st Birthday and the paper globe in anticipation of another dear friends' daughters' imminent arrival on the 26th of March.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

So Here I am Again

You'd think I'd ask around about things like privacy and the like before I take it upon myself to press the delete button! So I am starting right at the start and having to rebuild. Hopefully it turns out better than before. You know what they say: A change is as good as a holiday!