Buying a house is stressful.

You have to make a lot of phone calls and engage with actual people about things you aren’t an expert on.

My introverted self wants to magically turn inwards and present itself as a snail.

House Life

I occasionally post here. And so on this occasion – this rather auspicious occasion, I am posting.

Ten years ago I wrote the first post of this blog – On Random.

What a ridiculously full and wildly normal and at the same time crazy ten years. Thank you for those who have read and commented and I pray that some of my sharings/learnings/failures may have helped in some small way along the way.

This blog was only ever meant to be a head dump. And it still is. I sometimes have used it like a journal/a letter/a writing exercise sometimes it has been inundated with memes and lists and cooking experiments and photos but mostly it has been for me a quiet companion along the way (sometimes a narcissistic indulgence) – a way for me to record milestones and dig out memories both from my brain in the moment and later in looking back. It is a reference point for me, a consolation at times and and encouragement to see where things once were and where they are now.

This place has been a little empty the last few years as life has exploded into happening. I am not using this occasion to call this place quits. It can linger. I can drift in and out as I please and I don’t even mind much if anyone reads it.

To catch you up (for those who do still read): this week we bought a house (yes there’s madness for you – as this all happened within the last month) and I was thinking back to before I got together with Geoff (and got married not too long after) and something God was speaking to me about – having never been one for even envisaging getting married young (and then having kids youngish) etc. – why did some of this stuff (in the scheme of life) happen so fast? And in His graciousness he let me know is that he didn’t want me being ‘preoccupied’ with certain things more than I had to, that he has other things for me to do. Life will continue to get on with itself so I can get on to what he has for me. This is a big call and I baulk at thinking what on earth are the implications of this are for my daily living. So much of life has just come along at a terrifyingly merry (not always merry) old pace, ticking boxes. It is a bit ridiculous and I feel a bit like God has indulged me at times (perhaps he likes us or something) but It certainly hasn’t seemed terribly fast when we’re in the midst of getting up at 3am to feed babies , or always good and has seemed much more round about with all our – ‘moving yet agains’. I firmly believe that God does use us at our present time and wherever we are but mostly I guess I am very ready for that head space to open up once more and turn my life a bit more outward again to see what is next (or maybe actually what is right there in front of me already).

When I was younger (younger than this blog is old) I loved the Psalm about the ‘flowers of the field':

Psalm 103:14-18

14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

and there is somewhat parallel image in Matthew 6…

Matthew 6:25-34

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Perhaps the next ten years will look a little different. Or maybe completely the same. Whatever the case, God is doing things right now, I just hope I am a little more aware of what’s going on and the fuzziness of the last few years of sleep deprivation and logistics of moving multiple times and trying to work out our place in the world can subside into something that breathes of it’s own accord and gives us life.

Our place here after all is always temporary.

Blogging Christianity Life News

In the middle of my mourning
Sits joy like a happy child
In the middle of this death
I must cry with life for a while

And death is great
We are in His keep, laughing and whole
When we feel deep in life
He dares weep, deep in our soul

How great is His concern for us. How high. How good. How deep.

(lyrics from ‘Dresses’ Sixpence None the Richer)

Life Words

There’s 5% chance of having your baby on the due date and we’ve effectively done it twice. Hurrah! (This is a terribly satisfying thing for an Enneagram one). Aside from being timely, drug free and positive experiences – Céleste and Claire’s births were quite different. You can read about Claire’s birth here.

As far as pregnancies go, it was a fairly straightforward one with the exception of the same kind of frustrating/worrying/unexplained bleeding that I had with Claire. Which for an RH Negative blood group means lots of trips to the ER and LOTS of waiting to get anti-d shots. We clocked an 8hr wait one night – the joys of being low priority (fair but annoying). I did some insane things at the end of pregnancy – like shooting a wedding at 38 weeks, then moving house the following day. And then there was the running around after a (not very fast mind you) toddler paired with the absence of the hyper-research that comes with baby one, which meant I didn’t really get my head into gear very well until right near the end:  Oh that’s right… we’re having a baby. I think I lived in denial for a few weeks and avoided packing a hospital bag, I was excited of course, but there just wasn’t space for the effort to make the effort.

The week prior to Céleste arriving I had two lots of pre/false labour, however with the wisdom of a terribly long labour behind me I went to sleep both times and nothing came of it. Then Tuesday night it was on. Apparently. Enough for Geoff to let work know he wouldn’t be in and enough to call my parents at 1.30am to take one very excited toddler. Claire was super cluey and knew that I was ‘going to the hospital’ when we told her she had to go with Opa in the middle of the night. Nice to know that things sink in. So there it was, reasonable (eg. painful) labour all night from 8.30pm. I did my best to time contractions and also nap (that wasn’t very successful) then 5am hit and it all stopped. Completely. Zip. Nothing. Crazy frustrating. I called my midwife sister and she told me to sleep, wise, so I did.

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We went in to the hospital (Mercy Family Birth Centre) early afternoon for a check and a stretch and sweep. Geoff in his wisdom suggested we put all the bags in the car. Things had progressed (4cm – hallelujah, not all in vain!) so they did a stretch and sweep (which is totally not bad by the way if your body is ready for it!) they told us to keep local and walk the streets of Heidelberg to try and get things going.

So we did.

It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon – we stopped for a ‘coffee’ in the middle of labour (that was a bit weird). Walked up and down the main street, had a look in the fancy pants supermarket and found a big lot of stairs to walk up and down and up and down again. It was all rather strange and mostly nice (besides the uh. pain factor). Kind of like the weirdest date ever.

At 5pm we decided to head back in and were admitted. We messaged Amy – who was going to photograph the birth (serendipitously yet again managed to arrange that in the last week) and let her know it was on.

I love TENS machines. I was using one all through the night and day and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

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Active labour this time was quite different. I was not in the zone and was lucid enough to be having conversations with Geoff, Amy and our midwife Robyn while stopping mid sentence for contractions, then back to the conversation – turns out Amy knew Robyn (small world!) which was rather lovely. The baby’s heart rate was a bit all over the shop so I had wireless monitors on me for most of it, which wasn’t too much of a hinderance. Towards the end I abandoned the TENS and got in the shower (hello tune out world/transition) and that truely lovely part of labour when you so badly want everything to be over. With such a long previous labour, I remember being slightly mortified thinking that it might go on for a whole lot longer, it felt too quick for it to be so intense at that point.

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Motivation in labour is a great thing, not knowing the sex is good for this, another great one is being told your baby’s heart rate (previously up quite high near the 150’s/60’s) has dropped to 60 – it did concern me at the time (as much as I could process in that blurry state) but I didn’t feel terribly anxious about it (I probably should have been) – still, it is great motivation. Robyn told me flat that it was time to get this baby out, so out of the shower on to the bed (Because they had to check things properly) and after four minutes of pushing she was out. She came out mostly in the caul, and she was completely fine.

It’s an indescribable feeling holding your baby for the first time.

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I’m terrible at guessing the sex of babies – I get it wrong every time and think that the ‘gut’ feeling that mothers get re. boy or girl might be a load of bollocks (or I’m not blessed with this divine intuition) because I was mostly convinced I was having a boy during labour.

This is Céleste Emilia. 8.39pm. 3.16kg and 51cm long. I love her. I love my family.

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We came home from hospital 16hrs after giving birth.

Baby number two is different. You don’t really over-stress about certain things as it’s all much less new. There are other challenges (beside the horrid tiredness)- like dealing with kid 1. I’d been putting a lot of work into this, with books and youtube clips of two year olds meeting their siblings and general emotional intelligence which has seemed to pay off. Claire and Céleste’s first meeting was truly lovely. Claire did spend the rest of the day refusing to say her name and in denial about anything baby – but by a week in Claire is now hugging her and asking what ‘Leste is doing.

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Some of my favourite moments have been observing Claire’s response to everything. She watches Geoff take care of me. And when I’ve been complaining about after pains (no one tells you how much they FREAKING hurt with baby 2) she’s asked, “What do you need?” and taken the initiative to get me a heat pack, “Here mummy have this” (?!). She’s picked out certain books to read such as John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat very intentionally (after weeks of being stuck reading Maisy books) – which gives some incredible insight into how she’s been feeling about her routine being disrupted and the introduction of someone new into a comfortable life.

Tonight we were talking about who her friends were and Claire comes out with, “Celeste is my best friend in (the) whole world.”

It’s good.

Bec Matheson Photography | www.becmatheson.com

The profoundly beautiful birth photography thanks to the incredible Amy Oliver. Except the last which is mine.

Baby Life Photography Pregnancy

I am currently the butt of a facebook joke (of my own creation really) about the choice of where I do my grocery shopping.

A few months back I decided to introduce more regular meal planning and a consequently a more regular grocery shop in order to save money. After first getting married, Geoff and I lived in a little town house (still one of our favourites) that was just behind a main street and within walking distance of an interesting IGA Supermarket. We also had no pantry. It was great – lots of disposable income back then, but it taught us some bad habits. Because really, the more often you visit the supermarket, the more you tend to buy. What’s another $5 on this and that? It adds up fast. I also have more recently been looking at how to buy fruit and veges in ways that aren’t buying them from the big chain supermarkets. I love the practicality of the big chain. No seriously – it makes it easy but it’s not always that nice or that cheap. A few facebook competitions later of winning free fruit and veg from my local shop inspired me. I now try to do a shop at a fruit and veg place and I go there first. If you are eating reasonably healthy meals (meat and veg) then you can do almost ALL your shop at a decent place like that.

What I do.

Sunday nights I meal plan. Sometimes it’s vague, sometimes it means we eat less variety especially because I build in a few meals that can be made in double and frozen. This is wildly convenient because I am a lazy cook and adding extra ingredients to a meal is much easier than cooking another meal. I only meal plan four nights, because realistically our Fridays through Sundays are all over the place. We go out to friends/have people round etc. There are always things in the freezer if desperate or good old b’rinner… takeaway. I try to make meals that overlap somewhat in ingredients (eg. herbs… who ever uses and entire bunch in one dish?) or that will use up things I have in the fridge.

On Mondays I shop. I go to a fruit/veg and then a supermarket and sometimes a butcher (if there happens to be one nearby) – I still haven’t really worked out buying stuff from a butcher -don’t pay enough attention to meat prices and I try not to let meat make it into every meal anyway – too expensive and so not necessary.

I don’t love grocery shopping, but it’s better now. I shop with a list and rarely deviate. I shop on a regular day. My mother thinks I’m mad, but hey she’s not especially grand at organisation. And I try not to go other times during the week.

The change in cooking habits and shopping has helped me save money. How do I know this? Well, I used to spend closer to $150-$200 a week on the ‘big shop’ and now I can do in a well planned ‘cheap week’ for $70-80.

I still buy chocolate and things I shouldn’t have. I still often opt for the nice yoghurt (at least then it gets eaten) and the nicer bread. But hey you do have to start somewhere and know your limits.

As for the butt of the joke. After our move I have been looking for somewhere that is a) not too far from a decent fruit/veg place (if you can get 85% of your stuff there you save A LOT) b) is easy to get in and out of. I have a two year old who doesn’t like riding in trolleys and I don’t want to stuff around with crappy car-parking or walking too far because quite frankly I don’t love groceries and I have better things to do with my time. The better organised and bigger the shop is (in terms of chain supermarkets) the easier it is, the quicker it is. The more likely I am to cook to freeze because I have more time at home. I appreciate well organised things and dingy supermarkets don’t do it for me.

And that friends is why I am still in reconnaissance mode.

This has also been a slow but achievable part of aligning life with being a bit more sensible with where our money goes – there is still a long way to go.

Experiments House Life Money