Pulling the Plough

When Josh was ordained I knew that I wanted to be involved in his ministry. I know a lot of clergy spouses who shun the idea of a stereotypical vicar's wife but for me it wasn't fitting into a role, but instead a fulfilment of many of the things I love and feel called to do in my own life; raising our children, showing hospitality, loving others and working in the church through serving and administration.

However, since moving into our first curacy over a year ago there have been things to distract me from church. Moving house, getting pregnant, being sick, having a baby and then a family bereavement has meant that I haven't had the time or energy to fully commit or get stuck in in the way that I imagined I would.

Since September this has changed. The distractions have stopped and I've been able to throw myself increasingly into Pembrokeshire life.

At the start of the autumn God gave me a picture of a horse pulling a plough. It was clear he was saying that it was time to get back into the harness of church ministry and it was time to work...hard. I felt him say that we (as a church - particularly the leadership) needed to pull and strain on that plough and that a season of hard work was coming. It was important that we keep on going, climbing a hill and putting one foot in front of another because soon we would get to the top of the hill and change was coming. It wouldn't be such hard work then, but at times it would feel like the plough was out of control, slipping around behind us.
However, God reassured me that it was his hand guiding the plough even when it feels out of control.

Those words have been such a comfort to me because the last few months have been busy, hectic, rewarding, exhausting and fruitful.

Several influential people have moved away from our churches leaving gaps that need to be filled, lots of new people have joined the church, Josh has taken control of one of our morning services, we're in the process of revamping the children's work and refurbishing parts of the church, I'm becoming more involved in several areas, we're planning a huge Christmas event...

...and my to-do list is out of control.

Before and afters of church play room

Having two children is a full time job in itself and I feel like I just cannot stop. There's always another load of laundry to fold, another nappy to change, more emails to catch up with, a cuddle to be given, some event to prepare for, or more.

If God hadn't given me that encouraging picture I think I would be going crazy, but instead I'm just excited.

Exhausted, but excited.

Tomorrow we go on holiday for a week and I cannot wait. We aren't going far but it's going to be a time to leave the lists, phone calls and responsibilities behind. The children will have our full attention, we'll go on dates, we'll hold hands, read a book, savour the moments...and we'll slllleeeeeep. Oh, how I need to sleep. It will be time to catch our breath before we dive in again for Christmas.

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A Day at 5 Months*

* I decided make this record of our day with Alys at five months as I did the same for Ivy the same age (read it here) and it's a really good snap shot of what our lives are like at this time. However, by the end of the day we were all a mess and I was fretting to Josh that I was the worst parent ever so I wasn't sure whether to post it. A few days on, I'm over it and I've decided to share. Our days are normally a little more harmonious than this but hopefully it'll show that we're just a normal family with mundane (sometimes stressful) days just like you!

7.11am: I prise open heavy eyes to the sound of rustling and pattering feet. A cheeky face pokes around the door..."mummy, I've got a poo!". Oh joy. Our day begins.

7.30am: We all snuggle in bed until Josh takes Ivy downstairs for breakfast and I feed Alys whilst trying to pretend I'm still asleep. Another 3am feed has left us tired before the day begins.

8am: Josh gets ready for work so Ivy comes back upstairs; we snuggle and play and then I get her dressed and do her hair.

8.30am: Josh's boss arrives for an early meeting. I put Alys down for a nap and Ivy in front of Dora and jump in the shower.

8.50am: I sit down with cereal and a (much needed caffeinated) cup of tea to try and read my bible in peace while Ivy is watching TV but after five minutes Ivy is fed up of watching Dora and wants to play downstairs. I give up trying to get any bible reading done and we colour pictures of flamingos and talk about eggs and baby birds.

9.20am: We do teeth and I wake up Alys, dress her and feed. Ivy runs off screaming after I tell her it isn't appropriate to shout 'BUM' at her sister.

9.45am: We pack a bag and head out to a local parents and toddler group. I realise I've forgotten some books I needed so run back to the house. We are now running late.

10.05am: Arrive at the zoo that is parents and toddlers. Juggle Alys and Ivy through playing, snack time and songs.

11.30am: Powerwalk over to St Mary's to catch the end of their mid-week communion. The ladies like to see the girls and it's good to catch up. Alys naps.

12.15pm: We walk home and I prepare lunch. Josh joins us later so I slip away to feed Alys and eat cake in peace.

1.30pm: We all head over to church to discuss and plan some Christmas events. Ivy plays and we try to get Alys to nap.

2.45pm: Alys falls asleep in the pram as we head home. I try to get some housework done, but it's slow going whilst trying to encourage Ivy to play independently (I failed), doing potty runs and clearing up failed potty runs.

3.30pm: I've still only managed to unload the dishwasher and start the washing up when Ivy has a tantrum and wakes up Alys. Ivy and Alys 'play' while I speed clean the kitchen.

3.35pm: I tell Ivy off for jumping on Alys. Alys cries. Ivy cries. I consider whether it's too early for gin.

3.55pm: I feed Alys and try and contain Ivy who is rapidly deteriorating into a tired, snotty mess. It all goes downhill from here. We snuggle in bed and watch 15mins of the Great British Bake Off to try and regain some sanity.

4.30pm: I put Alys down for another nap because her sleep has been a bit disrupted today and try (but mostly fail) to play a fish counting game with Ivy.

5pm: I start to prepare dinner (leftovers from yesterday) for me and Ivy. Josh is working.

5.20pm: We battle our way through dinner (I should have given a main meal at lunch time). Ivy is too tired to reason with so I give up and put her straight to bed an hour early. Bedtime is fraught.

5.45pm: I lie in bed watching the end of the Great British Bake off, eating pudding and feeling like a bad parent.

6.15pm: I wake up Alys (she didn't appreciate it), dress her for bed, feed and then back to bed at 6.45pm! Tidy up downstairs.

7pm: I had planned to do several jobs tonight but instead I write this blog post and lie comatose in bed watching The Good Wife. Today has been a tough one!

9.30pm: I feed Alys and put her back down.

10pm: Josh gets home from work and we chat and go to bed. ZZZZ

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Our little Ivy turned THREE last week. Can you believe it?! We had a fairly quiet day as Josh was working all day but she enjoyed celebrating at church and getting lots of attention! We put a helium balloon outside of her bedroom to find in the morning and we could hear her giggling all the way along the hall as she made her way to our room! It was such fun that she could understand what was going on and get excited this year!

At three:

// Ivy has made the transformation from toddler into little girl. In the last six months her conversational skills have really come on and she can communicate whatever she wants now, and regularly comes out with some hilarious things. She also loves running, jumping and climbing.

// Her favourite food is fish and chips (she'd eat it every day!). Eating is still quite a battle, but it has improved from what it was. It is still a challenge to get her to eat any fresh vegetables but we try to disguise what we can and she'll happily eat fruit.

// She doesn't nap in the day anymore so we tend to put her to bed at about 6.30-7pm depending on how tired she is. She will normally sleep until about 7am. Bedtimes are generally okay, although sometimes it's a challenge to keep her in bed. Normally she is so tired that she doesn't have the energy for a fight!

// Ivy is potty trained! Finally! We have been potty training on and off for the last few months but Ivy never really got it, and with lots of travel and disruption over the summer I didn't have the energy to push it. However, the day after she turned three she started to use the toilet and has been dry ever since. We're still working on night-times but have had a couple of successes so far.

// She loves reading, doing puzzles, cooking and watching Dora or Peppa Pig. She doesn't like getting her hands dirty.

// She definitely has her own opinions! Some three-year-old behaviour is certainly challenging, and although Ivy is old enough to know what she wants to do it's difficult to reason with her about things that aren't such a good idea! We're just trying to be consistent and hoping this will pass?!

// She is still very friendly and sociable and is great fun to be around. She loves giving hugs and kisses and especially loves being around her sister - although she has been a bit rough recently. She also likes talking on the phone and Skype.

I love spending my days with this girl - even if it is exhausting sometimes! Ivy starts nursery part-time in January so that will be a big adjustment for us all.

Happy Birthday sweet one!

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