Life with a 4-year-old and 18-month-old

26 May

These days, I tend to round down my kids ages as a desperate attempt to keep them little as they shed their baby faces, clothes and mannerisms. The days of wishing time to hurry by to get to an event or holiday are gone (although I still look forward to them) as I realise how precious this time with my kids is. We are at a point in time where life is cast with a golden sheen. If I could pause it and carry on living within these days of 2016 forever, I feel like I would.

Stella began kindergarten in early February and it breathed fresh puffs of life into the parenting game for me. It was debatable as to who was more excited for her first day, me or her, as we met the wonderful teachers who’d share the journey of guiding our 4-year-olds, the other families (high fives for winning the best parent group ever and some pretty gorgeous kids to boot) and entering the creative hub that is Rosalie kindy. The five-day fortnight is ideal with Stella only recently abandoning her much cherished (by me) daily naps, allowing her plenty of freedom to enjoy park days, time with Archie and me and random adventures. Honestly, I’m not ready for five days a week and I think I’m going to be a blubbering mess next year when school becomes real with pre-primary. But for now, she’s loving every minute of navigating the lessons and playground fun (with regularly rotating friends and foes, one of life’s realities). And one of my favourite parts of those days are seeing her earnest little face at the end of class breaking into a big smile when she sees me there, ready to collect her.

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Scooting off to her first day of kindy.

Our fortnightly Wednesday mum and Stella time has been really special as we choose an adventure we’d struggle to do with Archie. The last day off we visited the WASO kids on cushions concert with a babycino/latte date at Moana (not pram-friendly due to stairs) and lunch with Sean at his favourite spot in the city.

She’s changing all the time and likes to surprise us with her own comments and “opinions” when Sean and I are chatting about something to do with his work day at dinner. From “that’s very interesting, Daddy” (which Sean is certain is dripping with sarcasm, but I think she’s sincere) to “hmm, so what are you going to do about it?” which sound very grown up and get a good giggle out of us. She’s still high-spirited, but slightly more reasonable at four than three (she still has the odd tantrum, but they’re few and far between and fizzle fairly quickly), she loves everyone (ask her to name a best friend, you better have ten minutes as the list is a mile long), she loves dogs in a big way (thankfully, she’s content to pet willing recipients at our local cafes and parks), she’ll eat almost anything we put in front of her (spicy food is still not her friend, but understandably with tender, still-new tastebuds), she loves broccoli, crispy-skinned salmon, avocado, the marshmallow aspect of a babycino (why do I bother with the cup of milk?), chocolate (she’s my daughter alright), ice cream (and Sean’s) and will eat ham, cream cheese and avocado sandwiches every day for lunch if I let her (which mostly I do… no prizes for creative mum in the kitchen over here). She’s just finished swimming lessons and advanced hugely from barely getting in before summer to putting her face in the water (albeit briefly), floating on her back and doggy paddling with her floatation vest on. So far no signs she’s going to love swimming as much as I did, but I’m pretty sure it took me a while too so we’ll see! She’s just started Kidz in Sport and it makes my heart explode to see her giving everything a go. Her teacher Opal told me yesterday that Stella never gets disheartened if she doesn’t get something first time round and always keeps trying. This means so much, as it’s one thing to have a child who’s a natural talent but I think it says far more if they have the confidence and determination to stick at something until they master it. In saying that, apparently she has quite the knack for minky with some great speed and skill with the hockey stick so maybe we have a future Hockeyroo on our hands? Ha ha. Regardless, watching her enjoy sports makes me giddy.

Now, my precious little man Archie. I’m overwhelmed with love for this guy because of his joyful nature, sense of humour and simultaneous love for hugs and burgeoning desire for independence. He’s well and truly running now, although he’s perhaps not quite as energetic as Stella (one of his favourite party tricks is lying down for a rest in the middle of playing, whether it’s at the park or home). He’s recently become obsessed with buses (enthusiastically shouting out “BUH” every time one goes by, his little body reverberating with excitement), trucks, trains, bikes and his little matchbox cars. He spends most of Playgroup at the table with the train set, moving the little carriages around the track with concentration. Stella never had so much concentration or patience for one game at that age (only now will she sit and spend time drawing for a fairly long period). I’ll discover him rolling his cars around various tracks he’s created, perfectly content with his own company. He loves pulling funny faces, his round-mouthed surprised face is priceless, as is his severe underbite/British bulldog. He just loves making people laugh and regularly chuckles to himself for who knows what reason, but life just tickles him sometimes! Making him laugh is both easy and addictive, I’m almost like the child around him, doing over any kind of silly joke or face to elicit another of his happy chuckles. He loves sharing laughs with us too, and follows suit if Sean and I are laughing despite no idea what the joke’s about. I also love that when he gets super-excited he does a little jig on the spot while chuckling and/or cheering. Best.

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Having a chuckle with Papa and wearing his new pyjamas from Aunty Erin

We have Tuesdays as Archie and Mummy days, which used to be beach with Leila and Thom during Summer days and park adventures, but now as the weather chills and dampens, we’re hiding out in the fun, open space of toddler gym and sneaking off for babycino dates with Suse, Georgia and Jude. Special times where Archie can be the focus for once and do things at his speed rather than big sister Stella’s.

Although things are certainly rosy, there are always the odd thorns that keep things real. Things I would make better if I had a magic wand;

  • Archie would eat all the healthy dinners I make him, rather than his regular trick of throwing them on the floor while his big sister cracks up laughing #notfunnyforshewhomadedinnerandcleansmessup #weneedadog
  • Stella would have a little more energy after her three-day kindy weeks and not be a little she-devil by the end of them who declares everything in the world is wrong including/especially her mama #turnupthegangstarap #drownoutthewhine
  • Archie wouldn’t take after his big sister back in the day and start beating up on those smaller than him. Whyyyyyy?? Ultimate playground embarrassment lately as he toddles up to little ones looking like an angel before pinching their unsuspecting, chubby cheeks. #gentlehands #gentlehands #GENTLEHANDS #headinhands #mummyshame

But hey, other than that, we are mostly living a very happy existence thanks to the best family ever and beautiful friends who make us laugh when the magic wand never kicked in. No idea when the next blog post will be, but wanted to capture a small snapshot of the fun times of lately because I’m so grateful for them. While my mummy brain is still in full force and much more forgetful than I’d like, I sincerely hope I never forget the way Archie bolts to me as I collect him from daycare with his little arms raised calling “mumma”, how Stella tells me how she loves me soo much and that she’s “a mummy’s girl today” and seeing them in fits of laughter at one of their crazy antics. Also, as Sean comes in the door with his face almost breaking from his huge smile and seeing the thump of little feet racing towards him to get the first cuddle. 2016, you’re shaping up to be quite the beauty of a year not because of big, significant moments such as holidays, career progression or running marathons (although there’s still time #heyuniverse) but because of all the marvellous little ones that baste my heart in pure joy. Right now, they’re all I want.

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The very latest pic taken of Stella and Archie, watching Poppy tackle Grandma and Papa’s front verandah. Totally entertained watching the organised chaos!

May your 2016 be filled with marvellous little moments too xxx

 

 

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2015 in review

25 Feb

 

As New Year’s Resolutions don’t typically kick in until Feb 1st (right?), reviewing our year before the end of January is surely timely also. Ahem… and finishing it before the end of February. 2016 you’ve been fun so far, obviously too much fun!

So anyhoo, 2015. We kicked off our year from home, knocking down the back garden to make it more user-friendly. With the muscle power of our incredible friends Suzzie and Davey, our back limestone wall came down late 2014 and finally our new back garden went up February 2015, complete with sandpit for the kids (and our house was never totally clean ever again #thesandpitspread).

We went to Busselton and I ran in my first running race in a looong time and managed to run the whole 5km with a pint-sized helper, Miss Stella, down the finish shoot. Sean raced in the criterium, my heart was in my mouth the entire time of course and managed to finish second in the B-grade race, which was pretty legendary.

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Stella’s 3rd birthday was an ode to the movie Frozen where Sean organised a whole heap of old school party games from egg and spoon races to treasure hunts while I created the best paper mache effort of all time that dropped the treats after one hit (the kids didn’t mind, the sugar high distracted them). I somehow built a dolly varden style Queen Elsa cake which rocked Stella’s world.

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At the end of February, we built a deck in three days to surprise one of our best friends Suzzie for her 50th birthday, which was an epic effort and so rewarding when we saw her reaction. They’ve since said it has changed their whole lives, not only opening up an outdoor hub for their family but they’ve built a shed underneath for storage so David has created a yoga studio in the house. Amazing!

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Soon after it was family wedding time! The youngest of the O’Neills Bridie married the gorgeous Jim and we traipsed down south to Dunsborough for a brilliant weekend where all the family were together. Someone else needs to get married so we can do that again… Maybe Paddy will surprise us!

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Stella took up ballet lessons at Silhouette in Shenton Park, which was one of my favourite times of the week, watching her bounce around with Madison as they giggled away.

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Next up, our O’Neill Derby Road tradition carried on another year for a big Easter egg hunt and we had cousins Billy and Louise, Bel and her girls and Suzzie and Davey join our family. Watching the little ones race around discovering brightly wrapped chocolate is one of my favourite holiday traditions… the sugar comedown is probably not, but life is all about ups and downs am I right?!

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For Anzac Day we finally set off on a Dongara trip to visit my Dad and stepmum Sue which was such a relaxing getaway. We stopped on the way at the amazing Pinnacles then pretty much spent the rest of the weekend at the beach.

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When winter set in, we escaped for my first trip to Singapore! What a fun city, so fabulous for kids and adults with theme parks, free gardens galore, the incredible zoo, so many amazing eateries and the shopping. Let alone the resort hotel experience with buffet breakfasts, fancy gyms and beautiful pools. We headed there with Mum and Paul and I think we all had a blast. Take me back!!

I properly got back into running and Stella followed suit by running her first event at The Pikelet Run which preceded the Pancake Run I partook in. CUTE

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Then Archie turned one and I marvelled at simultaneously speedy months that flicked by while somedays crept by at a snail’s pace. Needless to say, we’ve been blessed by the most beautiful, happy natured little boy who makes us laugh every day with his cheekiness. There has to be something seriously wrong for this guy not to be singing to himself, cracking up laughing or setting off around the house and garden on adventures. If I am to have a cuddly one who is content to be still for more than a moment, I suppose I should consider a third hah hah (just joking Mum).

The end of September I achieved something I’d wanted to do for ages – do a meditation course! One of my resolutions/goals for 2015 was to be more peaceful and meditation seemed a key piece of the puzzle. I learnt Vedic meditation from my lovely friend Emma at One Meditation and I’ve practised pretty much every day since and it’s become an important part of my daily routine. As a mum, it’s tricky to balance the tiredness, dealing with irrational 4-year-olds, understanding why your baby is upset for seemingly no reason (teeth? Wonder week? Bad hair day? Who knows?), the sense of overwhelm when juggling everything gets too much – all of which crop up from time to time (and when they all crop up together, meditate twice a day and have some chocolate). It’s also helped me focus and as my wise friend Sue told me the difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is speaking to your god, while meditation is listening him/her. Often the answers I’ve been searching for come during or post-meditation. If you’ve been thinking about it, do it. It’ll make your life better in ways that will surprise you.

Stella visited her fourth royal show and Archie his second (although as a newborn he didn’t see much last year apart from his pram and my boob) with Nanny Liz and me. They both totally loved it and their delight at all the small animals helped distract me from the fact I seemed to have mild gastro that day. Animal smells and poorly stomach are not ideal to mix. What is an ideal mix, is Stella and Frozen apparently. Stella’s first showbag was purchased this year and was a total hit.

Family fun at Lucas’s 1st birthday!

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Then we were off for our next family adventure with our favourites, Suzzie and Davey to Rottnest. What a sublime place to visit with kids. Without the worry of roads and cars to contend with, it’s such a relaxing place where the kids can roam and the parents can kick back just a little. Oh and Sean just happened to do his first triathlon in a few years and won it. No big deal #proudwife.

At the end of October, we discovered the gloriousness that is the Gloster Street Halloween party! Face painting, street performers, kids and parents dressed up and treats for days.

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In November, I ticked off another goal and wrote 50,000 words of a novel as a part of National Novel Writers Month (Nanowrimo). What a fabulous idea to get you in the chair and writing every day. Having a daily word count goal really clicked with me and now we have some routine with Stella in full days kindy twice a week and Archie in daycare the same, it’s time to self-motivate with some daily word count goals!

Sean and I also celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary (no signs of the 7-year-itch yet!) with a night’s stay at the Alex Hotel while our darling Suzzie slept over with the kids. First night away from my little guy and while I missed him, what a treat!

Stella then graduated daycare, her last day at Mercy Care and now onto bigger and better at Rosalie Kindy in 2016! She had such a great time there on Fridays.

Then, it was the most magical time of the year again – Christmas!! And what a special one it was. Sean worked tirelessly when we decided less than two weeks out that we’d like to build the kids a cubby house for Christmas. He did an incredible job and while it was tricky keeping it a complete secret, Stella and Archie were both thrilled on Christmas morning to discover “Santa’s sleigh” was actually their new cubby house. What an amazing dad you are Sean. We kicked off the day with a Cottesloe beach swim as per tradition, we hosted a family lunch at our house and finished the day with friends and swims. Perfection!

The year finished on an absolute high with our first family camping trip down in Gracetown. We stayed at a fabulous campsite with our friends Bel, Mark, Zoe and baby Eve where there were outdoor movies, mini golf, tennis courts, playgrounds, water slides and of course, the beautiful Cowaramup Bay Beach only minutes away. It was so relaxing despite Archie getting up with the sun and occasionally racing it to greet the day. Having Dad and Sue, plus some gorgeous mother’s group girls Yve and Em down there with their fans was extra special.

2015, you were a little exhausting with a little baby and the testing times of a threenager but you were filled with all the good things and I will remember it as one of the loveliest years of my life. Here’s a sneak peak at everyday stuff that made it just as special as the bigger things above…

Weekends spent at the markets with the Wallmans…

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Afternoons hanging out at Shenton lake…

On a sad note, 2015 we also said goodbye to our beautiful Oscar. I’m so grateful for the many, many beautiful (and hilarious) memories I have of this boy spent with him while I lived in Gloster Street and later years while he was so sweet and patient with my babies. For a long time, when asked who her best friend was, Stella would announce “Oscar” in a most definite tone.

Slow mornings in our PJs…

Mid-morning lattes and babycinos…

Those Friday mornings spent with Archie asleep with the paper and a latte… best ever. I appreciated every single one, with the foresight of a second-time-round mum knowing soon enough he’d be destroying the cafe.

Mornings with Great Grandma which always include special biscuits, play time on Grandmas walking frame and big cuddles from our family’s beautiful matriarch.

And on that note of incredible cuteness, I better be off and carry on making brilliant memories within 2016. Til next time, whenever that may be! xx

 

 

Stella’s 3-year-old interview

8 May

Around the blogosphere, a fabulous initiative is circulating of interviewing your child each year from the time they turn three. I decided to do this with Stella and of course, she absolutely loved talking about herself and coming up with favourites. I think some of the favourites were the first things to come to her mind and others were steadfast!

My beautiful 3-year-old girl, I so love watching you evolve. Side note: far less meltdowns and way more rationale being shown these days (*furiously touching every nearby bit of wood), most days we have a lot of fun and she is back to being my little buddy. Ok! The interview;

Stella O’Neill, 3-years-old (completely her words, with my explanations in brackets!)

This cheeky face in the arms of her beloved Daddy.

This cheeky face in the arms of her beloved Daddy.

1. What is your name? Stella

2. How old are you? These many!!! (shouting, holding up 3 fingers). One, two, three – I’m seven!

3. What is your favourite colour? Pink and blue (she has trouble picking favourites these days!)

4. What is your favourite movie? Frozen! We’ve got Frozen! Is that a movie?

5. What is your favourite TV show? Peppa Pig!

The poor face painter was used to lions, tigers and crocodiles... she had to have Peppa!

The poor face painter was used to lions, tigers and crocodiles… she had to have Peppa!

6. What is your favourite snack? Biscuits!

7. What is your favourite place to have a holiday? Singapore! (the anticipation is building for our trip in 3 weeks, obviously we have talked it up a lot!)

8. What is your favourite toy? (She looks around and spots the toy box and picks the first thing she sees) My handbag!

9. What is your favourite outfit (thing to wear)? Frozen dress, no, my yellow dress.

The yellow dress she had for Auntie Bridie's wedding, worn again here at Zane's birthday party.

The yellow dress she had for Auntie Bridie’s wedding, worn again here at Zane’s birthday party.

10. What job do you want to do when you grow up? The dishes! (Ha! Slight misinterpretation of the questions perhaps, so I go in again…)

11. What do you want to be when you grow up?  Ummm, cooking! (A chef? I ask) Yes a chef!

12. What is your favourite book? Nursery Rhymes, Daddy reads me that.

13. What is your favourite song? Let it gooooo.

14. What are you good at? Balance bike and the ‘nother bike (she says “nother” like a hybrid of another and other!)

Biker chick! Photo credit: Aunty Wee

Biker chick! Photo credit: Aunty Wee

15. What do you like to do outside? Go on the swing and go higher, higher!

16. What is your favourite cafe? Milk, because they give me ice.

17. What is your favourite game to play? Chase and can you write the hiding game?

18. Who do you love? Daddy and Mummy and Archie and Grandma.

19. What makes you happy? The sun!

20. What is your favourite fruit? Watermelon.

21. What is your favourite vegetable? Carrot and corn.

22. What is your favourite thing to eat? Banana (this is definitely a random answer, it would surely be a close call between custard tarts, sausages, chocolate and ice cream!)

23. What is your favourite dinner? Pasgetti.

24. What is your favourite drink? Orange juice.

24. What is your favourite animal? A zebra.

This was good fun and I highly recommend it to try out with your kids! It’s a good record of where they’re at (although rather than being a true record of Stella at age 3, it’s kind of recording Stella on Tuesday April 28 as her answers seem to change daily!) and I’m sure they will love to look back as they get older and enjoy remembering what they loved and what made them happy at various ages.

Happy Friday!

xoxo

Life with a six-month-old and a threenager

23 Mar

Excuse me while I insert some toothpicks to prevent eyelid shutdown… it’s been a big couple of months over here!

Around four-months-old (sometime in January), Archie went from a pretty decent sleeper (once a night wake ups with the very odd sleep through) to one who woke up at least twice and often needed resettling. Stella shortly after decided I’d had it too good for too long with her 7/7.30 wake ups and shifted her routine to waking an hour earlier. Sleep has become like some kind of exotic temptress that is always juuuuust out of reach. But one thing I have learnt as a second-time mum – these things pass.

And on the eve of Archie’s half birthday, he cracked a tooth with another one visibly hot on its tail. Poor little guy and fist pump for a good reason why! Now I can look forward to nights ahead of solid sleep (glass half full and all that!).

Anyhow, that explains ole heavy lids on the keyboard, but let’s launch in to the fun times of parenting two.

Let’s start with the little lady who turned three on February 14, because she always likes to go first. Always. My firstborn is more hilarious, more challenging and sweeter than ever before. The term “threenager” I coined from a favourite US blog is right on the money. She pouts and shouts if she doesn’t get her way, “reasonable” is not something we ever consider attributing to her and if I say “white” it’s inevitably “black”. I hear myself regularly saying “Stella, I’ve been on the earth for 33 years now, do you think I might have learnt a little more than you in your three?” Apparently not.

Dressed for ballet and having a big, cheeky giggle!

Dressed for ballet and having a big, cheeky giggle!

However, while there are moments I stuff my fist in my mouth and consider a Homer on Bart throttle move, there are plenty of  moments that still melt me. When I asked her recently what was her favourite part of a particularly fun day she said it was the moment I collected her from creche after I did a quick gym class. When I picked her and Archie up, I bent down with my arms stretched open and she ran for them like a pint-sized Usain Bolt with a grin stretched from ear to ear. Yes, I thought, it was my favourite too.

Still a mummy's girl at heart.

Still a mummy’s girl at heart.

She shares breakfasts with me now and we munch down my healthy pancake recipe (one mashed banana, two eggs, a tablespoon of flax meal and a little wholemeal spelt flour) topped with greek yoghurt, berries and maple syrup or a massive banana smoothie. Her appetite is way up from what is was as she usually follows up with a piece of toast, if she hasn’t already had one. She’s not the wee shrimp she once was and I love it! She is now around 13kg and between the 35th and 50th percentile for weight which is pretty awesome.

She loves any activity which involves plenty of running around (playgroup, park visits, toddler gym, being in the garden with Daddy, splashing on the steps of the pool), spending time doing anything at all with her best friends Tommy and Maddie, park mornings with Grandma and Papa, Frozen (not just the movie, anything at all Frozen-themed including her backpack, bed spread, activity books, dolls, puzzles, dress ups…), when Daddy gets home (this will never get old I hope! So cute), ballet classes (I sit there with a goofy grin the entire class it is THAT cute) and custard tarts from our local cafe.

She still naps once a day for a couple hours and sleeps at night from around 8.30 till 6.30 which I think is pretty great. She’s a firecracker, she often has me hooting and crying with laughter and my heart melts with the genuine sweetness she regularly treats me too. It sure does provide a balm for the tougher moments! I still think for her age, she’s doing pretty well. Really, she is only three so Sean and I will keep trying to balance guiding her with allowing her to be the fun little person she is!

With two of her besties, Oscar and Grandma.

With two of her besties, Oscar and Grandma.

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The festive season

5 Jan

We had such a wonderful Christmas with loads of fun parties, family time, adventures and house renovations!! Here’s the picture highlight reel;

Kicking off with Sean's work dinner - Old Hollywood theme, love the mo Sean (mostly love the accompanying nose wriggle due to its position).

Kicking off with Sean’s work dinner – Old Hollywood theme, love the mo Sean (mostly love the accompanying nose wriggle due to its position).

Stella and Tommy loving the Playgroup Christmas party

Stella and Tommy loving the Playgroup Christmas party

Who loved the Playgroup Christmas party fire truck ride more? Debatable, but probably Stella by a hair.

Who loved the Playgroup Christmas party fire truck ride more? Debatable, but probably Stella by a hair.

Gingerbread decorating at our Mothers' Group Christmas party... sheer, delicious chaos!

Gingerbread decorating at our Mothers’ Group Christmas party… sheer, delicious chaos!

Fun times at the O'Neill Christmas bash. Great Nana Ruth, and Poppy and Nanny with all their 5 grandchildren in the same place for the first time!

Fun times at the O’Neill Christmas bash. Great Nana Ruth, and Poppy and Nanny with all their 5 grandchildren in the same place for the first time!

Archie's first swim. Little water baby!

Archie’s first swim. Little water baby!

Christmas Eve snuggle with Great Grandma before we all headed off to carols at Rosalie.

Christmas Eve snuggle with Great Grandma before we all headed off to carols at Rosalie.

Christmas morning! Beach swim tradition upheld another year... the best way to start Christmas.

Christmas morning! Beach swim tradition upheld another year… the best way to start Christmas.

Grandma Dongara is so hilarious (and clever with presents for little people... Polly Dolly was a hit!).

Grandma Dongara is so hilarious (and clever with presents for little people… Polly Dolly was a hit!).

Very special to spend our first Christmas morning with Dad and Sue since having our babies!

Very special to spend our first Christmas morning with Dad and Sue since having our babies!

Archie's first Christmas was a hit... such a special day with family.

Archie’s first Christmas was a hit… such a special day with family.

Christmas night fun spent by our pool with the Laidlaws and the Pretzels.

Christmas night fun spent by our pool with the Laidlaws and the Pretzels.

Hot days are best ended with ice cream! At Whisk with a scrumptious cup of the good stuff.

Hot days are best ended with ice cream! At Whisk with a scrumptious cup of the good stuff.

Post-beach babycino and latte time with Suzzie.

Post-beach babycino and latte time with Suzzie.

New Year's Eve! Little Pantry fun after Sean and I got to have a shopping trip with only a sleepy baby joining us (thanks Mum and Paul!).

New Year’s Eve! Little Pantry fun after Sean and I got to have a shopping trip with only a sleepy baby joining us (thanks Mum and Paul!).

New Year's Day adventure to Fremantle. Fish and chips at Ciccerellos.

New Year’s Day adventure to Fremantle. Fish and chips at Ciccerellos.

Girls just hanging by Bathers Beach... and a sneaky tweak!

Girls just hanging by Bathers Beach… and a sneaky tweak!

Archie was there too! Sleep, feed, smile... 2015 started well for this guy.

Archie was there too! Sleep, feed, smile… 2015 started well for this guy.

Have a good feeling about 2015! It started off brilliantly.

Two posts in one day too 🙂 so what if I wrote the previous one a week ago?! What one can achieve with simultaneously sleeping kids. Hehe hope everyone enjoyed the update.

xoxo

The year that was… 2014

5 Jan

Considering I waited so long to meet him, time has flown since Archie arrived and he has grown so quickly. At three and a half months, he is a very bonnie baby at a smidge under eight kilograms (this morning he was teetering between 7.9 and 8kg) and almost in 9-month-old baby clothing! He is hands down the happiest baby I’ve ever seen and we love hearing many people express the same sentiments. His Great Nana Ruth (Sean’s dad’s mum!) has over 60 great grandchildren and said he was the happiest baby she’d ever come across which made my heart beam. Archie is always smiling, chuckling and loving people chatting to him. He rewards them with squeals of delight and huge smiles! He smiles with his whole face, he has lovely smiley eyes to match his big, gummy grin.

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Chatting to Granddad and Grandma Dongara at 8-weeks-old

Neck count!! 10-weeks-old loving life with Nanny (and filling out nicely).

Chin count!! 10-weeks-old loving life with Nanny (and filling out nicely).

So happy with the one and only Great Grandma!

So happy with the one and only Great Grandma!

Charming the lovely Great Nana Ruth

Charming the lovely Great Nana Ruth

Dimples!! Archie Baci with Grandma.

Dimples!! Archie Baci with Grandma.

He rolled over at 3-months too which is pretty early, although looking back Stella did it at 14-weeks, just one week after Archie. So… you’re both amazing babies!

What Archie really excels at is sleep. Looking back at Stella, I used to think 2-3 wake ups a night was good. With Archie, he goes down around 8pm and regularly goes through til 4.30 which is 8 and a ½ hours straight! Then he sleeps til around 7am… pretty dang awesome. However the past couple weeks he is waking 1.30 for an extra feed before the 4.30 one which can be a little tiring after Mama got used to just one wake! I’m adjusting with an earlier bedtime and all is good. Archie sleeps in the pram or baby bjorn in the morning around 9/9.30 for an hour or more and I have now got him into a semi-routine of going down the same time as Stella around 1pm for midday nap. This must be the holy grail of parenting, getting both kids to nap at the same time. High fives all round, kids.

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Still eating like a champ and at his 3-month check was 7.4kg and in the 85th percentile for height and weight. However, at 17 weeks he’s now 7.9kgs and has delicious chubby thighs so I think he’s working his way back to the top of the charts.

Stella has emerged from toddlerhood to being a little girl, well and truly. She amuses us regularly with her hilarious comments. Some examples;

“Stella, we are seeing two of your best friends this morning! Two of your best friends are meeting us at toddler gym!!” I say, with Tommy and Madison in mind.

“What? Two Tommys?!!” she says with excitement. Hehehe, girl loves her best friend Tommy so much she wishes there were two of him.

“Oh mummy, I love your dress it’s so cute,” she says regularly, complimenting me or others on outfits she approves of. She’s obviously a fashionista in the making.

“Mummy/Daddy, is it warm or cold today?” she asks.

“Warm again!” one of us responds.

“Oh yay, let’s wear a dress!!” Stella is obsessed with dress wearing. Asking her to wear shorts and t-shirt is likely to incite world war 3. Approach at your own risk.

“I love my daddy, he’s so cheeky!”

“Mummy, you’re my best friend in the whole world. And Oscar, he’s my best friend too.”

She’s regularly outsmarting us and testing her almost-3-year-old intelligence and independence, which is pretty challenging but impressive to watch! She is very confident, very sure of what she wants and loves to make people laugh. We’ve had a few leg kicking tantrums, but mostly short-lived ones and none in very public places thank goodness (and touchwood!). Her worst insult she throws at me or other kids is “you’re not my best friend any MORE!” to which I sigh and reply “Nope, I’m your mum not your best friend, I’m afraid Stella.” However, I do accept the offer when she declares I am, in fact, her best friend.

Highlight reel from the past few months;

If only there were two of this guy... Stella and Tommy.

If only there were two of this guy… Stella and Tommy.

Sweet sibling love xx

Sweet sibling love xx

Stella's first proper shoe fitting. Loved it and so did her mama!

Stella’s first proper shoe fitting. Loved it and so did her mama!

Those eyes... my beautiful girl post-babycino.

Those eyes… my beautiful girl post-babycino.

Like father, like son! Poppy is lots of fun.

Like father, like son! Poppy is lots of fun.

Hair not too messy today! All ready for daycare.

Hair not too messy today! All ready for daycare.

Sharing Papa's birthday cupcake and laughs.

Sharing Papa’s birthday cupcake and laughs.

How her hair looks most days... my little cheeky chop.

How her hair looks most days… my little cheeky chop.

It has been a year of ups and downs with some gloriously high moments (Stella’s 2nd birthday, Archie’s birth, introducing Stella and Archie, watching Archie’s sunny personality develop, Leila and her family moving back to Perth, other friends having babies including Leila with Thom), fun times (park dates, date nights with Sean, pool time, barbecues with friends, working at Lululemon with some fabulous girls and boys), achievements (delivering a 4.2kg baby! Swimming around Busselton Jetty with Sean, Sean kicking ass at work, my freelance writing career becoming more established). However, there has also been sad times with the passing of our incredible friend Brynt McSwain. Losing someone so young, healthy and full of life is very hard to make sense of and I think of him and the girlfriend he left behind (Katey) a lot. We have also witnessed a couple of friends marriage break ups which shook me up and made me analyse the strength of my own marriage. Fortunately, it is pretty strong and I am very grateful for the good man I married who has made an even better dad to our precious babies. Like everyone I’m sure, we have our ups and downs within our relationship, but I’ll certainly be doing everything I can to make sure our relationship is a happy one.

A lot of big tragedies worldwide have occurred and it makes you realise the fragility of life, the importance of savouring the good times and being appreciative of the peaceful life we lead in Perth (and long may it last).

Fortunately, there is so much to look forward to next year with our precious friend Sue’s 50th birthday celebrations in January. I am so grateful for our friendship with my incredible friend passing on so much wisdom, positivity and fun. I can’t wait to celebrate how wonderful she is. We are then heading to Busselton in February for the swim, run and ride festival (bring on the 5km run for me and criterium ride for Sean!) before celebrating Little Miss Cheeky’s 3rd birthday on Valentine’s Day. In March, Bridie and Jim’s wedding down south is filling me with so much excitement it is ridiculous!! I can’t wait for a massive, fun family event. And that’s just the start of the year… it certainly is promising to be a wonderful one.

It’s also the Year of the Sheep or Goat, which is said to bring a Yin energy. Yin is a symbol of peace, harmonious co-existence and tranquillity and this is said to be the mood for the upcoming year. This is exactly what my heart craves after so many unsettling moments in 2014. I don’t need excitement, world travel or domination or a lotto win. I simply want good health for myself and all of my precious loved ones, to find happiness in the simplest of moments and to reel in our family’s busy schedule so perhaps we can slow time down just a little by doing less.

I hope everyone nurtures themselves this year just like the sweet little sheep intends us to do. Slow down and smell the roses, exercise and appreciate your healthy body, take time to relax and recharge your batteries, and cuddle your friend and family a lot. I plan on doing all of these things every day.

This post turned out longer than I intended and swayed off track from noting Stella and Archie milestones, but sometimes writing can be cathartic. It certainly became self-indulgent as I reminisced my year and made promises to myself for a peaceful heart in 2015 but heck, it’s my blog and what is a blog if not self-indulgent?

Happy New Year everybody. Lots of love from us to you xoxo

Archie’s first three weeks at Chez O’Neill

27 Sep

While pregnant, there were certain things that really made me nervous about being a second-time mum. Number one was of course whether I would be able to love another child as much as I love Stella, my firstborn and my very precious little girl. Secondly, would I strike it so lucky twice after Stella was generally such a good-natured, content baby who grew into a sweet, cheeky and larger-than-life toddler and now little girl who fills our life with laughter, joy and occasional mortification (did she just say/do that?!). Next concern, would I be able to enjoy a newborn the way I did with Stella? With a toddler to chase, fending off attacks on the newbie, and surviving the lack of sleep without as many daytime naps I shared with Stella?

 

Snuggle time with Stella, we had lots of quiet and special mummy/daughter moments

Snuggle time with Stella, we had lots of quiet and special mummy/daughter moments

I had 42 weeks (or one day shy of) to ponder how life would change and in certain stages of pregnancy, I suffered some bouts of anxiety at the thought. Fortunately, I had a lot of support from some very special family and friends who reassured me of our ability as mothers to cope and techniques that work.

So here’s a few things that went down over our first two weeks;

 

Love isn’t divided, but multiplies with each baby

While we had a slightly rockier start, I am so pleased to find that my love for Archie is just as intense as it is for Stella. With significantly different birth stories, my energy levels were a lot greater when Stella was born and that led to me immediately bonding with her as she was placed on my chest. Utter exhaustion after the intensity and slight complication (and let’s be real… lack of pain-numbing drugs!), meant that when Archie was first placed on my chest I just wanted to close my eyes and have a snooze. Plus the lingering contractions until the placenta was birthed were a b*tch! So I wasn’t in the same warm and fuzzy place till a couple of hours later. However, I definitely recovered quicker from Archie’s birth and by the time I’d had a warm shower, a hot cup of tea and some food – my eyes were glued to his sweet little face. I’ve been madly in love with him ever since.

Definitely fewer and far between, but Archie and I make the most of precious quiet moments

Kissing this face and soft head hundreds of times each day

 

Archie’s character

Well, he’s a day shy of 3 weeks so it’s a little hard to tell, but I think we struck gold twice. Apart from a few crying episodes the first few days which I have put down to a slightly more birth, Archie has been so content, chilled out and loves cuddles as much as I do. He regularly gives me smiles with his gorgeous dimples (where did they come from? Neither Sean nor I! Love them).

Trying to catch one of his big smiles on camera is hard at the moment! But they're gorgeous.

Trying to catch one of his big smiles on camera is hard at the moment! But they’re gorgeous.

Will be so interesting to see how his nature develops. So far, he is sleeping pretty well with a bit of a witching hour between 8 and 9.30 (I hope it isn’t my diet, so hard to tell what causes it…), feeds beautifully and impresses us daily on the change table with his game of “who will the wee spray next?” My favourite was when we were in the bathroom with Stella and I getting ready for a joint shower and Sean readying to bath Archie, when it almost sprayed the entire bathroom. I was cackling with laughter with a huge wet patch on my jeans and shirt while Stella was backed up against a corner with nowhere to go without getting her feet wet. As a result, Stella’s favourite part of story time each night is her telling me a “wee wee story” which involves all sorts of different people we know weeing in odd places… not exactly fairies and princesses, but we always have a giggle. #weirdsenseofhumour

 

Big sister/little brother

My biggest fear was definitely Stella not liking her baby brother or trying to kill him. Yes, occasionally I overdramatise things. However, the biggest surprise yet (other than “who will the wee spray next?” which gets us every time) has been Stella’s unwavering adoration of her baby brother. The only time I find myself telling her off is when she is too affectionate and in his face too much. Stella has always been a tactile little lady, loving holding hands with other kids (even kids she doesn’t know) and has issues with recognising others’ need for personal space. She speaks to him in an adorable, high-pitched voice and mimics almost everything I say, like “hello little darling”, “Mummy’s coming, don’t worry” when he cries and “big, wide mouth Archie” as I attempt to latch him. All very, very cute. Archie has rewarded her with some big, gummy smiles, which I’m sure will become more frequent as he gets older.

Loving on her little brother xx

Loving on her little brother xx

The first incident of jealousy was last night with a tired Stella having a meltdown in her bedroom when I left her to feed Archie and Sean had to finish off tucking her in. Broke my heart that I couldn’t be in two places at once, wanting to cuddle her for longer but needing to respond to Archie’s hungry cries. Fortunately, Sean settled her quickly and once Archie was in bed, I got to give her one last cuddle.

 

My state of mind

The first week was a bit of a blur and I did get the baby blues on the 6th day, after thinking I’d bypassed it (it usually happens the day your milk comes in, 3rd or 4th). After letting the tears slide down my face, a big hug and chat with my mum, it was all good again. 90 percent of the time, I feel very content with a beautiful little boy to snuggle and Stella being her hilarious, zany self makes me smile. But probably once a week, the lack of sleep catches up with me and I have a few moments over the day where I get emotional. I guess when you’re breastfeeding around the clock, sleep is very broken and you are on the go almost all day (thank goodness Stella still naps… still very sacred time for me!) – it’s pretty natural to have the odd weepy moment.

Tired eyes, happy heart.

Tired eyes, happy heart.

I have been very fortunate to have a lot of help though, which I’m so grateful for. The first week, Sean was a real champ and did the lion’s share of looking after Stella during the day and cooked a few nights. We had meals cooked for us by Liz, mum, Suse, Nadia, burgers from Sue and David, heavenly carrot cake from Leila, muffins from our gorgeous new neighbours… hope I remembered everyone! We have been very well fed and it makes such a difference. I always bake lactation cookies for my new mummy friends but I think I’ll add a meal to that as gosh it helps! Thank you, thank you my special people, you’re marvels. Also, Mum and Paul have taken Stella for regular walks and play dates at their house so I can catch up or have a peaceful feeding time with Archie. One of the best times was Liz/Nanny taking Stella with her cousins for a special sleepover. Stella had an absolute ball and was thoroughly spoilt, while I had theeee most glorious sleep in with Archie and felt a million bucks that day! What a treat. Fridays at daycare also help me with having one on one time with the little guy and you better believe we go on coffee shop dates (week one with Sean and Licia, week two with Mum and Paul and this week with Bok) where Archie is either snuggled or peacefully passed out in his car seat. Bliss! I’m going every week and making the most of having an immobile, cuddly koala while I sip my latte from a mug rather than a take away cup. All you new mums, please don’t hide out at home! Take my advice and for one baby nap a day, hit up that coffee shop, read the paper and feel the peacefulness. Your baby will love it and you will, too. Consider it their first lesson in socialisation.

Coffee shop bliss with Aunty Bok

Coffee shop bliss with Aunty Bok

 

All in all, I am tired, blissfully happy, occasionally cranky and all too aware that this beautiful, crazy time will pass so quickly. I try to stare at Archie’s chubby cheeks and sweet little face, stroke his soft skin and impossibly soft hair (like Laine said, it’s like puppy ears!), and soak up the koala cuddles as much as possible. I am so grateful we have another healthy and happy baby in our lives, enormous support from our family and close friends, and the ability to laugh when the chaos surmounts.

Some final cute pics of the first three weeks – bath time fun, followed by mummy/son bliss and a cosy little man in his gorgeous blanket from Aunty Suzzie and Uncle David.

IMG_0738 IMG_0790 IMG_0781

 

Love to all of you xxx