The span of my arms

It is 3.30. Not the good 3.30, the bad one. The sitting in the cold dark in front of a glowing screen with a head full of leaking ideas instead of being tucked up in my bed kind of 3.30. My thoughts are bouncing out like imaginary corkscrews, whirling away in a firework display of popping energy and although I am craving a mental corner of solitude to curl up and sleep in, there doesn't appear to be one. The baby has just come down with a cold...my poor girl, it is not a good time to feel unwell and I simply cannot just sit with her like she needs me to, she crawls around after me, and each time I pause, she tries to climb up my leg. All night she has erupted in loud cries, as she falls asleep and then can't breathe through her blocked nose - bad timing.
So, where am I at? Well. The floor of my headspace is a tangled mess of stuff. A plethora of lists, jobs and activities scattered and wound through a sea of crumpled emotions that are sharp underfoot. I am focused one moment, vague the next. Motivated for a while, then heavy limbed. Matter of fact about everything and then over reactive and unable to stop the tears.
I am intrigued by the fact that my mental capacity has to absorb both the realities of essential jobs and silly ones. It is like a colourful mosaic. Each tiny block nestled and and jostling for position in my brain is at odds with the piece next to it. Really Important information and tasks jut up against would-be-nice-to-dos and the lack of simple thought-hierarchy transfixes me. I put it like this on my facebook status - contemplating matters supremely disproportional in priority. Making cake and slice for Greg to take to his farewell and gingerbread men for the girls to take to their last day at school (60 of them...) used up as much planning and hands-on time as packing and sorting our lives into a compact enough state to move. I am tying up loose ends when I can and get a good feeling each time I close an account or move information to a new address (not that we have one...) and everything else that doesn't make it to the satisfaction to being a tied up loose end, falls into the heap of Stuff. There has not been the space to plan for our future, what we will DO, where we will GO, how we will survive the stormy transition of next week. I am living as far as the end of my nose, and the span of my arms.
There have been farewells and goodbyes all round - they are the bite of leaving and pile on top of each other in layers. The two big girls are doing a good job of being brave. Maddy is bleak and scared - she experienced an intense sobbing episode after the last day at church and it all came out - her outrage and sadness and the it's just not fair kind of sorrow and the tears spilled and her little chest heaved and her hands wrung as she processed the beginning of parting from a happy little life. Kenzie took a little longer to crack, but a few hours later she rested her blonde head on my chest and suddenly began to weep brokenly and loudly. Such a grieving these two are doing and despite both attempting to be philosophical, the sadness is acute and there are times all four of us have to breathe through it. I am bewildered still at the why myself. I have this surreal feeling, like it can't be true and then I feel my wet cheeks and I know it is, and try to find some arsenal in my coping mechanism to handle this appropriately but can't. I am in over my head and feel in dark completely. But I have peace as well, in this painful place there is a sense that despite the pull, we will not be deformed but transformed. I understand I do not have to live out tomorrow - just today is enough for now. And can I exalt despite the chaos and uproar? Yes, I can choose to, and the knowledge that I am never alone is here with me.

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I talked to my one of my friends about the season of spring and how we should post some photos. She has done hers and so here are two of mine. This first one is the Maddy tree, mentioned before as it lives in my garden and flowers on Maddy's birthday. Its blossom drifts around my feet and speckles the lawn with pink confetti.

The other tree is my favourite tree in Waikanae. Not sure why, but for 12 springs, whenever I drive past, my heart does a little ahhhhh. Each and every time. It is something about the shape of the tree - how short the trunk but how extravagant the foliage. It reminds me of a wedding dress; a fairytale; a cherry wood trunk to lean on while reading in the spring afternoon sunshine and eating an apple as bees drone in and out of the blossoms. I will miss both of these petal clad giants. Yes it sounds like madness - but I am a tree-girl at heart.



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Last week...

...has been all about Miss Seven's birthday party,


making her a puppy cake, (if you can't have the real thing, order one to eat)


watching the latest feats of gymnastic brilliance on the trampoline

having to keep taking this girl out there too because she now knows how much fun it is

hunting through boxes to find decorations for Christmas dress up day at school for these two
sorting this little pile with this tiny helper who decided to get stuck in without me

working madly to get this baby finished and delivered - yay, the clients loved it

and preparing to say goodbye to these besties


My days are shifting up a gear and the activity is starting to beat a faster pattern in the quiet place of the last few months. I am consciously shepherding my thoughts back to the list and when the emotion comes, I let it wash over me and then pick hope off the shelf again and put it back on. A hope and a trust in the belief that the future holds good things ahead for us. And back into the list making I go.

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7 is a good number

You are seven, Maddison Grace!

We cannot begin to tell you how fast the last 7 years has gone and still remember meeting you for the first time like it was yesterday, what a sweet (loud) baby you were!
You are feisty and petite,
sensitive and highly strung,
with petal soft skin and gold hair,
a love of the outdoors, sports and animals,
you cry when others cry,
don't like it when people laugh at you,
get irritated very quickly,
don't like eating foods that you are not your favourites,
you have learned not to suck your thumb in class
and are able to keep blankie in bed just for nights,
you love your teddies and being maternal,
you have learned this year not to bite your nails,
you are great at gymnastics and doing flips on the trampoline,
you get lots of bumps and bruises from moving everywhere really fast,
you won your first cross country this year - beating all the boys in your year,
you won the trophy for Coach's choice in soccer for having an excellent attitude, you are highly competitive, and very brave,
you are praying for a puppy,
you carry Felix the cat about like he is a soft toy and he lets you (he likes to sleep with you too), this year your favourite meal is sausages and mash with gravy,
your best colour is still pink,
you are very fashion conscious (you also have a shoe fettish),
you like to write stories,
you smell good, like strawberries,
you have bad dreams alot,
you sing really well,
you don't like butter or apple crumble,
you love jelly and iceblocks,
you have logic and common sense and are not easily frightened.
Your name means Gift from God and Strong Fighter.
You are both.
We love you Princess.




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Trying not to cry

Last week taught me that I am going to have to start carrying tissues everywhere I go. The emotion associated with our imminent move tends to leap out unexpectedly and it is distressing to be streaming and sniffing in odd places without appropriate Kleenex support. The tears are not selective - they come when I am driving, watching the kids, talking to a teacher at the school, chatting with someone in the church nursery - and it's proving to be quite the handicap. I tend to steel myself and operate in tight, shallow shuffles to avoid prodding the grief avalanche and the people I bump into round our small community must struggle to know what to make of me. I purse my lips and gaze into the middle distance when they begin their inevitable barrage of reasonable questions about when we leave etc. and breathe slowly through the rumble I can feel building in my heart until it dissipates and I am able to communicate without mascara patterns on my cheeks.

Today a song by Mercy Me caught me as I was driving along.

And I know that I can find You here
Cause You promised me You'll always be there
Times like these, it's hard to see
But somehow I have a peace,
You're near
And I pray that You will use my life
In whatever way Your name is glorified
Even if surrendering
Means leaving everything behind
My life has never been this clear
Now I know the reason why I'm here
You never know why you're alive
Until you know what you would die for

I try to analyse where I am at with the leaving process. I have busied myself with getting an art commission completed and before that our homeschooling exemption application took up all my brain space, so I have successfully avoiding having to face any of the realities of going. Maddy's birthday is on Thursday and that will gobble up my time this week but every day I try to knock one more thing off the to-do list, which feels like a never-ending ribbon of tasks. Some big things have been achieved in that we have found tenants for our home, or rather, they found us. And we have an apartment to rent for a few weeks while we house hunt up in Auckland that does not consist of ladders, stairs and balconies like the first one booked for us. But each and every square inch of our home has to be sifted through and prepared for packing (one pile for 6 weeks of storage, the other to come with us when we leave). It is dizzying. And so hard to grasp firmly because my emotions keep doing a big grief jig right when I need to be Martha Stewart and organise my socks off.

We had a restful two week school holiday (apart from a week of everyone being sick) and the kids have gone back to school today for their last 2 and a half weeks. Having them around all the time was great and tough at the same time. It made me wonder how to manage my sanity when we are homeschooling but reassured me at the same time, that if the changes I observed at the end of two weeks were anything to go by, that over time, we would all catch hold of the new rhythm and it will all go fine.


Making flower soup in the garden with our best friends

Thanks to my lovely blog friends who commented on my previous and frantic post - I felt reassured and optimistic after I had read their words, and am understanding increasingly that God uses our children to shape our hearts toward His own, tears notwithstanding. Very waterproof mascara would probably be a wise investment right about now.

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But now I am Six...

...I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
AA Milne

Oy! It was one of those days. And still kinda is. The kind when every part of your body aches when you sit down listening to the baby screaming. The kind when your nearly 7 year old is so contrary that by the end of the day, you wonder if you make fit parenting material. When you cry genuine tears of frustration because she has run circles round you so many times, and emotion has slopped out of your "keeping it all together" bucket; your voice can no longer be tethered to the nice low ranges and instead scales up the bad-mummy heights (yet you expect her not to shout back and when she does, you adminster the old soap in the mouth trick and watch expressionless as she swills out bubbles with tears coursing down her cheeks). The kind of day when you get back from the supermarket with a dozen bags right on dinner time, hungry kids and no meal made. You discover the wrong cat food was bought despite clear instructions to your child helpers. You make a healthy pasta and vegetable meal amid half unpacked piles of groceries, while stepping over starving cats and everyone quietly eats it, except the Naughty One, who grinds away steadily at one's patience levels, making sure you are aware of how much she simply CANNOT eat green beans, let alone ravioli. And when the child is lying prostrate with loud rage at her lack of choices in the food department under the dining room table, you feel your ability to remain a sensible adult drain away to bare nothing-ness and you feel steam tooting out of your ears and YET she still hammers away, disregarding the warning signs. When the roar escaping your lips surprises you, when you bellow "Just Eat Your Dinner" and she retorts as loudly I CAN'T! I CAN'T! I CAN'T! and you hang in that weird place, it feels like the world just stopped so that you could rack up more "Worst Parent of the Year" points to go towards your trophy; and when you banish her to her bed for the night at half past 6 in the evening much to her shock, your own disbelieving observation tells you that it is your own fault she has been allowed to rachet her mother up to this level of craziness. When her will is stronger than yours and has been since her first infant howl you realise afresh that pitting yourself against the level of grit that this girl has is like, like...well...it rubs you raw. And messes with your head because she is cute and sensitive and hurts for others - and yet is so fiercely hard to bend. This is my girl. I am proud of her tenacity - it is a gift. But I feel woefully inadequate to responsibly parent her and guide her to a learning of self control. The other two are sweetness and light by comparison tonight - although the baby has been yelling on and off for an HOUR and a HALF, refusing to sleep and this is not helping me regain my calm. Please tell me that one day, this unending grind will pay off and I won't realise I did it all wrong and created dodgy offspring who have no inclination towards respect. Tell me that when I am homeschooling, I will survive the character training. Tell me I won't keep losing my rag and then have to crawl back down the shouty mountain, bent double with guilt. My prayer is that we will parent with grace, wisdom and the knowledge that we cannot do this alone. Tomorrow is a new day. Thank God.
I do love her (no really, I do).


Taken nine months ago

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Busy in the midst of Blossoms






Wow! I have not blogged for ages. The girls have all been sick. A virulent cold, cough and sore throat that have had them all miserable and lay-about-ish. Especially Mishie, who has clung to me like a baby monkey, refusing to eat a bite of anything that isn't involved in my bra. This has meant her newly trained nights of sleeping through have been biffed out of the window and I have been nursing her croaky, snuffly, feverish body several times a night. It exhausts me, but I have succumbed to finally giving her antibiotics so hopefully the worst has passed and we are on the up.

I have just finished typing up the girl's homeschooling exemption applications and have been spending every spare moment on the laptop in the brain-wringing occupation of setting about convincing the government that I am a parent capable of imparting knowledge and in possession of all decent sensibilities. No easy feat. I will print off the screeds and plonk them before my clever husband tomorrow when he comes home from being away (again? or still? I hear you ask) and let him tell me whether they make any sense before sending them off. Then I have a large art commission to complete before we start to pack up - this one is a lovely work in progress and I am looking forward to being romanced by the snowy peaks of this mountain in question. When I paint, I fall headlong into the scene and can almost smell the air about me change (not just the paint fumes people...) and when it is done I am almost sad to withdraw. However, the girls are home for school holidays so I shall have to lasso some weekend time when the Daddy-nanny can whisk small painting helpers to parks and beaches, anywhere really, so long as it is A-W-A-Y from my brushes. There is nothing worse than trying to paint an artwork of any value with little fingers edging closer to the canvas, toes knocking over water jars and pleading voices to let me allow them to paint a little bit too. It makes the Mummy-monster leap out of her box. And nobody likes it when that happens.

It is spring and this momentous event has afforded me much enjoyment as I applaud the finale of the blossom show in my garden. This time next year I will not see the "Maddy tree" covered in petal pinks (named such because it blooms over her birthday month and she enjoys this sense of ownership) nor the wisteria clustered on the pergola outside my bedroom window (hopefully won't have this seasonal hayfever nor Greg his asthma either). I have favourite trees in our town that I drive certain ways just to gaze at them as I go past. This weekend I am hoping to find some 'me' time to spend with my camera and click my memories.

As far as our imminent move goes...it is just over four weeks away. Far too far to become real to me right at this moment. It is in the future basket still and I am content to avoid the stress and turmoil until the craziness actually drops into my lap.
Have we sold our home? Nope.
Have we got tenants organised? Nope.
Have we got a place to live in Akl? Nope.
Am I worried? Not at all.
Today has had enough to keep me quite entertained and tomorrow's problems will still be there, tomorrow.

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