I’m hoping this post isn’t going to jinx us, but as I’m on a mission to enjoy life as much as possible and have a greater appreciation for the simple things I’ve decided to risk writing this one. I guess you could say I’m trying to walk on the sunny side of the street especially with my new sunny-side up baby – I read that this is a term used for baby’s born posterior or face up, which our newest daughter was and thought it was in keeping with my new outlook.
I have been amazed at how easily our latest edition had settled into our lives, She sleeps beautifully, feeds quickly and without fuss and rarely cries. All this is in stark contrast to her older sister, though at two years old she is now a terrific kid and has sorted out all her sleeping problems. My first foray into motherhood was somewhat traumatic (not the birth, just life afterwards) with a very unsettled, colicky baby and six months of severe sleep deprivation. I don’t think I got more than 2 hours sleep at a time in that whole period and it wasn’t until she was about 12 months old that she finally slept through the night. Even after this she has gone through several stages of night waking and has required lots of time, attention and effort to get into good sleep habits. Thankfully we seem to have turned a corner and she is a champion sleeper now, as well as being happy to play in her room until I go and get her in the morning.
I was talking about this with my husband the other day and recalled that I didn’t think I managed to do any housework or cook a meal for about three months after our first daughter was born. This time is a completely different story. The house is clean – with a toddler I really don’t think I could ever say it’s perfectly tidy – I’ve continued to enjoy cooking most days including baking on the weekends and incredibly I’ve spent some time working in the garden as well.
I have so enjoyed spending one day over the weekend baking bread and cakes, slices or biscuits as well as preparing some meals for the freezer. I find cooking so incredibly fulfilling and relaxing and dearly miss this time when life becomes too hectic for me to indulge in some dedicated cooking time. I also love this time of year, when the weather cools down and the skies are often grey, it inspires slow cooked, rich comfort food which I adore. Last Saturday was an example of this, I made my regular loaf of bread, slow cooked some marinaded chicken wings (plum sauce home made by a good friend provided the marinade – YUM!) and prepared some chicken stock using a couple of carcasses and bones I had been collecting in the freezer. My last attempt at making stock proved a real disappointment, but after some additional reading on how to make good stock I decided to give it another go and was much more successful this time. The stock actually took the two days to complete, but the end result was richly coloured and highly flavoursome – I can’t wait to make some soups and risottos using this instead of my usual stock powder.
While I may love the grey winter days when I can stay inside with the heater on and cook up a storm, my oldest daughter hates these days. She loves being outside and is happiest cruising around the back yard on her little car or ride-on horse, giving the slide a workout, convincing someone to push the swing or decorating the pavers with beautiful chalk masterpieces. So after over a week of grey and rainy days, we finally had some sunny days and blue skies. While it was still quite cold, especially first thing in the morning, with a bit of rugging up it was perfect outside play conditions and that is exactly what we did. One of my daughter’s favourite activities is to watch the racing pigeons owned by someone a street away, flying around the neighbourhood each morning. She loves pigeons, as her grandfather – who sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this year – was an enthusiastic pigeon racer and when being looked after by her grandmother she likes to help feed and water the birds. This little connection she has with her grandfather is precious, she may not remember him when she’s older, but maybe she will take something of him with her in her appreciation of these birds. I am in awe that children can find such wonder and fascination in something as simple as birds flying around in circles, she could watch them for hours and still want more. If only we could all find this same sense of wonder about the world around us.
One of these particularly nice mornings when we were outside I decided to take the opportunity to do some gardening. I had been meaning to get some fertilizer onto the lemon tree as well as give it an extra spray of eco-oil to get the last of the bugs. I also gave the hanging baskets a water with some seaweed solution and gave a bit of attention to a much neglected agave and aloe plant. These had been sitting on a table under the pergola – so not getting much sun or any rain – and were looking pretty sad. On my list of things to do had been to remulch the vegies which I should have done before they got so big, it was quite tricky getting the sugar cane between the plants, but I managed in the end. Miss two loved helping with this job, though I’m not sure it quite surpassed the joy of helping with the watering – her favourite of the garden jobs, I really should get her a little watering can of her own. Finally I decided I would plant the last of the packets of seed I found when cleaning out the garage some time ago. So into the bed at the other end of the silverbeet went some spring onions. I’m not entirely convinced these will go anywhere as that part of the garden doesn’t get a huge amount of sun at this time of year, but we’ll see how they go in time. We managed to get all this done while my younger daughter slept peacefully in her pram.
Before the birth of my second child I was really quite concerned about how I would cope with a toddler and a newborn. I assumed I would have a similar experience to last time, where it was all I could do to manage a shower everyday. However, so far it has been pure joy to have this settled and contented little baby enter our lives, to be able to continue spending at least some time each day dedicated to my older daughter, to see her love and devotion to her younger sister (though she does tend to be a little over enthusiastic at times) and to watch my husband in his element with his two beautiful girls. Miss Two comes into my bedroom or the loungeroom each morning as I’m feeding her sister, climbs up next to me, strokes the baby’s head and says “Hello gorgeous, wonderful baby” – now that’s a pretty great start to the day for any Mum! All this and I still have the time and energy to keep cooking and gardening, and while I know it might not last, I’m certainly going to appreciate it while it does.