Spring-Cleaning

I love this time of the year. It’s just the right time for the cold weather to calm down a bit, and we get to enjoy some beautiful sunshine without the sticky and stinky humidity our summers bring.

Whilst March is always a tough month, one I do not like at all, it also heralds the beginning of spring. And of all four seasons, it is most definitely my favourite.

I associate spring with new beginnings. After March, April starts with the promise of warmer breezes and bluer skies. I finally put my heavy jackets to rest and take out my cardigans and lighter layers, with the hope that I am not tempting the fates into throwing at us more wind and cold. I set my boots aside with a huge sigh of relief. I can finally wear sock-less flats and perhaps even dare to show my feet if the weather permits. That is after getting a pedicure, with a pretty coral colour perhaps. I slowly start removing layers and layers of clothes, scarves and socks. Skin is scrubbed and buffed, dead and dry skin discarded of,  and body parts hidden by the winter cold start getting properly prepared for the outer world to see. I start pushing myself that bit harder at training because visions of me in a bathing suit start popping up every morning at 6am whilst squatting, and panic starts kicking in. The days become longer, and so can our walks. Gozo at this time of the year still stubbornly holds on to the last of the green grass, before the brown, dried-up ambience sets in – typical of our summer.

Now is also the time when I start pining after a new hairstyle, look up new, fad diets and amazing superfoods. I restart my Bucilla kit for the tenth time because I suddenly realize that I can finish it in time for next Christmas…but only if I continue working on it for more than a couple of days.  I start a frenzy period of internet shopping because suddenly not one single female in our household has any single item of clothing to wear. I go through the girls’ wardrobes with a heavy heart because I have to empty the winter clothing, half of which will never be worn again.

After reading Island Fairy’s post, I immediately downloaded the Headspace app. Today is Day 2 of my meditation practice. With it just being ten minutes long, it’s something I can find the time for more easily than an hour-long session. I have also grabbed hold of my copy of The Universe Has Your Back, and started reading it again. I go through periods when I can not read some books. They just do not appeal to me and I physically hide them away till I feel ready to give them another go. After reading the reviews on this book, after eagerly waiting for it to arrive, once it did, I was just put off it. I read the first chapter, found myself blocking over it, and I had to stop. I now feel that the time is right to give it another go. I’m thinking that ten minutes of meditation a day and some pages of this book, will help my mind go along with the sense of new and fresh beginnings this time of the year brings.

This is perhaps my own version of spring-cleaning. I think we all have our rituals this at this time of the year. Some which we perhaps do not realize unless we sit down and think about it. I can go through spring with a clear head. It is perhaps the only season where my energy levels are higher than usual, and things are that bit more possible and happier. Summer is too hot for me to muster any enthusiasm, autumn is too busy for clarity, and winter I do not particularly like. I guess spring is my season.

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Chasing the Sun

Five

My little (more properly, eldest) daughter just recently turned five. Five years of motherhood, of learning, of making mistakes and growing up. She is, as always was, my sensitive one. The one who needs to know that all is okay before being content. She needs to have a routine and stick by it, and she needs to be prepared and warned of any changes or unusual events. She’s a moody pain first thing in the morning, and won’t even tell her sister good morning until she’s ready to start the day and face the world. She’s the one with a hundred questions, all becoming more and more difficult to answer as time passes by. She goes with her guts, she rarely changes her opinion about someone, and she is, at moments, embarrasingly honest. Time spent with her is precious. Never a dull moment, and the words never stop. I will never tire of her spontaneous kisses and telling me what a beautiful mama’ I am. Her words and actions always put a smile on my face, no matter what.

She recently finished her kindergarten years, and my heart grew heavy as I saw her leave the school for the last time last week. I can’t even begin to explain the difference these past two years of school have made. I am only praying that next year a new school building and a new routine won’t have any unwelcome effects.

Five years of being a mother and two children later, what can I say?

Nothing is easy. Nothing comes handed out to you on a golden plate. We are terrifyingly given, in our exclusive care, these tiny beings without any real knowledge how to handle them and take care of them, and somehow we have to make the best job out of it. If that is not scary than I do not know what is. Then the worst is when you try really hard, you’re probably feeling desperate out of lack of proper routine, sleep and hormones, and you get judged. Judged by close-minded bigots who probably have no idea what this job really entails.

So my advice? Just move on. I have felt overwhelmed by motherhood on countless occasions, probably more with Cesca than Bettina. I have doubted myself and my abilities so many times that I was going crazy over it. We are our own worst critics. Nowadays I go with whatever works. You only want a banana for dinner? Fine. You want to take off your shoes and run outside barefooted? Go ahead. You want to eat yoghurt all on your own? Just do it.

Do enjoy little children. Before you know it, they’re all grown up. I’m dreading the moment Cesca will want to wash herself, or dress herself, or do her own things by herself. I don’t want her to stop closing her bedroom door or insist on reading by herself. I naively want to keep doing it all for her. Because stopping these mundane things, is so very scary.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you motherhood is easy. It’s the toughest. It’s one obstacle after the other, one challenge following the other, but the cliche is true. Nothing is as rewarding in life. By some unexplainable theory, the same small beings who drive you crazy and who you’d willingly rent out at times, just to get away from them, are the same ones you can’t do without.

So I will answer Cesca’s questions with a smile. I will try and find an explanation why it’s not always sunny on Sunday and why she’s never seen a fairy before. I will enjoy every embarrassing episode because I know I will smile later about it later on. I will allow her to help me with my makeup and choose my shoes for me, without flinching when she does so. I won’t get impatient when she won’t give me a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but insists upon showing me Dance A which means ‘yes’ and Dance B which means ‘no’. Who knows if she’ll still be doing these same things next year?

So my little free spirit, keep smiling!

 

2016, here we go!

It (only) took me eight days to wish you a happy new 2016! With work, some travelling, Cesca having her Christmas holidays, some new teeth for Bettina and preparing for Christmas, life was pretty hectic, hence my absence.

We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Tuscany, this time round going to Lucca, Montepulciano, Cortona, Montalcino and the picturesque Pienza! The scenes, food and wine were beyond great, and thankfully everything went well. There were some uncomfortable moments flying out to Italy with Bettina when we had to tie her in the plane seat with me and her seat-belt, but thankfully food won her over and proved to silence and quiet her for a couple of moments.

Everyone is settled back into their routine now. I started work again, as did A, Cesca is back to school and Bettina is back to staying with Nanna during the day. Also, our kitchen is functioning once again after a much-appreciated break. Since all our bodies were all craving some simple soups, I wasn’t in for that much work. However after three soup meals, we needed something more concrete than a liquid meal, so yesterday I tried out this recipe, choosing to leave out the rice and leave it a prawn and potato dish. I added some thyme, some substituted the fresh coriander with the dried bit, and it truly came out delicious! The best part is that it does not take up that much work and you can leave it cooking slowly whilst you do something else (in my case it was feeding the girls and tidying up the kitchen).

As for new year’s resolutions I haven’t done any really, knowing fully well that I always fail in keeping them for more than a couple of days. My only wish is that I take care of myself, physically and mentally, a bit better. So I will try to properly wash my face every other day, instead of using the lazy girl’s option for cleaning my face – make-up removal wipes. I am not going to use the word ‘diet’ because that never works. But I will try and be more away of what I consume and eat. And as hard as it is, I will start finding half an hour a day, at least a couple of times a week, to go out for a walk. My level of exercise is sadly zilch. To be honest, it is not something I can do anything about, because my day is fully packed and jammed between school, work, the house and cooking. I sometimes joke that I need to set in toilet breaks in my schedule. Which in all honest would not be a bad idea. But I will try and find thirty minutes, children-free and just get out and walk. The weather is really beautiful at the moment, and I do believe that nothing works for

a healthy mindset than getting out in the open and wander around. So this I will truly try and hold on to.

Is there something you’re holding yourself to do/not do in 2016? Yesterday I read that if you keep doing something regularly for thirty straight days, your mind sets it as a habit and you become accustomed to doing it. So I’m setting small goals so hopefully I’ll have small victories to celebrate.

So stay healthy and happy dear friends. Let’s hope 2016 will be a peaceful ones, for us, our family and friends.

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Cesca’s eyes speak volumes about the way she feels about her sister 🙂 

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No filter needed.

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I swear her clothes, her Dumbo and her hands managed to gather every speck of dirt Tuscany had to offer.

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A beautiful read. If you can translate it, I suggest you do so. Wise words!

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Cortona’s hot chocolate.

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It’s like we wind them up , and then zoom they’re off!!

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Chickpea soup never looked so good.

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My everything.

 

 

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She’s a lucky girl indeed.

Strolling By

I haven’t written in what seems to be ages. Not from lack of events, far from it. Finding the time to put thoughts into words is the ultimate feat.

Bettina turned one, Cesca started her second year at school, I started full-days at work, our house is slowly being erected. Life is good. Hectic, tiring and exhausting, but nothing to complain about. Our life sometimes resembles a family sitcom show – the evenings especially are crazy, and when I finish cleaning up the kitchen, Anthony handles the toys and the girls are put to bed, I let out a huge sigh of relief. For as much as I love the girls, I love them that bit more when they’re both laying in bed, clean and happy and ready for the night.

Juggling work with family is not easy.

I am not one to complain. Yet sometimes I yearn for the stay-at-home lifestyle. Returning home after a full day of work to start what is a second full-time job is tiring. Sometimes I struggle to make the bed or think up the evening’s menu. But I think motherhood toughens us up, and we move on and forward. I falter, I trip along the way, but I try and move on. Sometimes, I hobble along to end the day, but somehow we’re all good. So things must not be as bad as I sometimes think they are.

So two months of not writing here is because of this. It’s not about not having anything to write or say. It’s just not having the energy and time to sit down and concentrate for an hour.

For now I’ll probably just write small snippets here and there. But I promise I’ll be back properly.

Can’t promise when though.

Keep-Moving-forward

Togetherness

Our little Bettina is growing up. Now that she’s bottom-shuffling and learning to express herself, she has become Cesca’s perfect buddy in crime. From the day Bettina was born, Cesca was constantly asking me when her little sister would start playing with her. It seems those days are here for now when together, they are inseparable. Their favourite way of playing is very messy and involves all the toys they have, but they spend hours together, playing, fighting (mainly B pulls C’s hair when the latter takes her toys) and giggling. Oh the giggling, how I love hearing them laugh together! Bettina is constantly following Cesca with her eyes, and I swear she gives her big sister a unique look of total love which neither me nor Anthony get. And Cesca (known to us, her parents, as our full-blown diva with the sky-high self-esteem and total love of self), has found her perfect role as a big sister. Bettina is the perfect audience. She claps when Cesca calls her, she claps when Cesca sings, and she claps when Cesca gives her toys. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it now – from the moment we found out we were having another girl, this is what we wanted and wished for. This camaraderie they seem to have, this hidden bond which ties them together. Bettina was a godsend to Cesca. And Bettina is lucky in a way that Cesca wasn’t. Bettina has a full-time entertainer, talker, performer – Cesca only had me as that. And my eldest daughter is a million times better a performer than I ever will be.

They are spending more time together now than in winter, and although tiring (and draining in this awful heat), they are a laugh. Their characters seem to be different. My friends all agree on the First Child Syndrome – the first child is the one who is unarguably spoilt, has a great sense of self-worth, struggles a bit when s/he learns that the world does not revolve around him/her alone and is somewhat a bit bossy. Cesca is all that. She loves an audience, insists on being called a queen, and I’m pretty sure she will start referring to herself in the third person pretty soon. But is so much more. Her sensitivity surprises me and the love she gives is a joy. She surprised me most with Bettina – she fully accepted her without an ounce of jealousy, and every sentence starts with “Me and Bettina…” Unfortunately third parties are sometimes rudely excluded. To their face. With a pointed finger ordering them to go away.

The Second Child Syndrome mainly involves the child being somewhat more of a fighter. S/he fights to find his/her own place in the world. S/he never knows the full and total attention of the parents as the First Child did, and this is due to obvious reasons. But the Second Child is observant, more knowledgeable about what is going on around him/her and although may appear quieter and calmer than the First Child, when need be, s/he will make his/her voice heard. Bettina is more ‘gathered’ than Cesca. She has an air of tranquility around her which makes everyone who meets her remark on her jolly nature. In these nine and a half months she’s been in our lives, the only times I have known her to get upset is when she’s hungry and when it’s time to take her out of the bath. Otherwise it’s mostly she smiles, I smile.

Together they click. And how!

Christmas in July.

Christmas in July.

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This is basically the sum of my lives together with these girls :)

This is basically the sum of my life together with these girls 🙂

We Are Five

We are five years old.

Five years ago I became Mrs. Farrugia and Anthony became my husband. We’ve been through so much these past five years that it seems more time has passed.

We’ve endured lots, but we’ve made it through.

So here’s to many more to come.

We're older and poorer lol...but happier :)

We’re older and poorer lol…but happier 🙂

And this little munchkin is four. She turned four two days ago, and I’m still mourning the baby she no longer is. It’s a joy watching her grow up, but I miss the years already gone by. She is a little joy, a trouble-maker, a non-stop talker and a protective sister. She made me a mother and the happiest person alive.

Kikkina, we love you 🙂

My Queen

My Queen

Hang On. Tight.

Tomorrow Cesca finishes her first scholastic year. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this year flew by. With so many things happening, and me looking forward and fearing the start of school, it seems like yesterday that I was buying her uniforms and trying to figure out how life with a new student and a new baby would work out.

Like sisterhood, school has been a godsend for Cesca. Both events happened together (quite literally), and although there were early teething problems, she took to both quite well. She has learnt that the world is not all about her, she learnt the importance of sharing, and in both situations she took to the roles of elder sister and fellow pupil very well.

School has helped improve her social skills tremendously. She is still very picky on whom she befriends, and if she does not like you (or the look of you, unfortunately), she will not hesitate one minute in telling you so (much to her parents’ embarrassment). However she is friendlier with her friends and whenever she feels like it, she will talk to strangers like there’s no tomorrow. Her vast vocabulary has now turned into fully-fledged sentences, and she can spend minutes talking about everything. She has learnt new nursery rhymes, she sings all the time and comes up with new expressions and words which sometimes baffle me. I smile whenever she uses ‘otherwise’, ‘in the meantime’ and ‘anyways’ in sentences. She has started using Maltese words and although her use of the language leave a lot to be desired (“Jiena ha taghmel…”), I admire her trying to speak Maltese with new children she meets.

My fear of Kinder One proved to be fruitless. Luckily she had teachers who made her comfortable and who were patient with her, especially in the early days. She has the same group of friends she mentions all the time, and seeing her interact with them makes me feel better about my unfounded fear of her not blending in well. Thankfully she does not seem to be lacking in the confidence department. In fact, she lately refers to herself as “Queen Cesca”. Not “Princess” – that title is saved for Bettina. Cesca is the Queen, I am the Super Queen and Anthony is the Super Hero. We had an episode of sorts last weekend, when we were in a shop full of people and she asked in a loud voice, when we were going back to our castle. Because you see, our little home is a castle in her eyes.

These past two weeks have been trying for us though. She is suddenly scared of everything under the sun. She fears the wind, the fan, her spotted socks and even the red hair-brush. She is also suffering from separation anxiety when it comes to leaving me alone for a minute. For that reason she has refused to go to her crafts lessons for the past fortnight – something she used to love doing. She now visits the bathroom with me, helps me hang the clothes and is always hovering round me. There are some perks to this phase – I get impromptu kisses and hugs, declarations of love and lots and lots of ‘mama’ this and ‘mama’ that. However it is a trying phase for me, especially with another baby in the house and trying to juggle everyone and everything. Hopefully this phase will pass. And I know it will, because if motherhood taught me anything, it is that childhood is one phase right after the other. One phase ends and another one will start immediately afterwards. It’s just that when you’re in the eye of the storm, things look a million times worse. Once out of it, everything resumes calmly. Till the next storm that is.

So if you have a child starting school next September, don’t worry too much. Like everything, the teething phase will be difficult. Believe me when I tell you that it was a hundred times harder for us, because we had Bettina arriving on a Tuesday evening, and Cesca started school on Wednesday morning. I was having closely-timed contractions at home, sorting out Cesca’s school uniform and satchel, telling Anthony’s sister what to prepare for her for school the following morning, clutching my tummy with pain, praying Bettina wouldn’t be born in our kitchen, and feeling useless as a mother for knowing I would miss out on Cesca’s first day of school. Learn to trust in higher powers, in your child’s ability to fend for him/herself and know that it will all be okay in the end. There will be discouraging episodes which will throw you back at times – having your child cry leave when you leave him at school in the morning, times when they wet their pants again (in school, for two straight weeks – yes, we had that too), the first Monday after two-week long Christmas and Easter holidays. But they will pass, don’t worry.

Perhaps the worst part of schooling happens to parents. For me, it was learning to let go of Cesca. I had to learn to trust her by herself, with new people, in a new setting, without being there to check up on her like I usually would. I have to admit that the temptation to call up on the school and ask about her was very tempting in the beginning, and there were days when I would stay for a couple of minutes underneath her class window to see whether she would cry when I left her. I was jealous of the time she spent with her teacher and with her new friends. But then I would see her coming out of school laughing, smiling, with messy hair and paint-stained fingers, with star stickers attached to her forehead, waving good-bye to her friends and teachers, and bursting with the need to tell me what she did at school, so much so that I could barely understand her rushed words, and I knew it would be okay.

So remember, the first cut is the deepest. Hold on and hang in there.

And come next October, I will re-read this post because I know I will need the reassurance again. And again.

This seems like yesterday.  01.10.2014

This seems like yesterday.
01.10.2014

Their bond is enviable. Their smiles and giggles make every second of a hard day worth it.

Their bond is enviable. Their smiles and giggles make every second of a hard day worth it.

Same girl's birthday party, one year apart. Last year she was the grumpiest ever, refusing to join in on the bouncing-castle fun and not letting the entertainer draw glittery doodles on her hand. This year she was the total opposite. Changes.

Same girl’s birthday party, one year apart. Last year she was the grumpiest ever, refusing to join in on the bouncing-castle fun and not letting the entertainer draw glittery doodles on her hand. This year she was the total opposite. Changes.

She drives me up the wall at times. She's stubborn, set in her ways and loves an argument. But she's the most sensible girl I know, and she has my heart.

She drives me up the wall at times. She’s stubborn, set in her ways and loves an argument. But she’s the most sensible girl I know, and she has my heart.

The end result of Kinder One :)

The end result of Kinder One 🙂