26 September 2008

Our "Room at the Inn" Christmas Project

What? Talking about Christmas? Already?? Am I nuts!? Hey, I've got to admit I look forward to Christmas all year. Not the crazy shoppers' feeding-frenzy and mad ads screaming about specials and buy this or that... nope, I am more of the nostalgic type. I have many fond memories (thanks to my very creative mum) of childhood Christmases - the sense of anticipation, the festive mood, the magic. It is one of my goals to make Christmas special, memorable and meaningful for my kids.

I really get into the traditions, the music, the decorations and all that... but that by itself doesn't quite do it in terms of creating a sense of meaning for what I think is the best time of the year.

Because it's so easy to get caught up in the getting. Especially for kids, with all the hype about presents. Even strangers in the check-out line ask them, "What is Santa going to bring you for Christmas?"

I don't want to leave it to chance that my kids will pick up on what Christmas is really all about. There was a Baby, a stable and no room at the Inn; it was about bringing Peace on Earth and Good Will towards Mankind. It was about Love and Giving and Hope.

So this year we are taking the bull by the horns and focussing early on the Giving side of Christmas.

I have been inspired by my friend Gail, who has involved her 4-year-old Livvy in a project to raise money to buy a Cow for a family in Africa through World Vision's Gifts of Hope.

I was also inspired by the Watoto Childrens Choir from Uganda who visited our church recently. The children all all orphans whose parents have died of AIDS; they have been rescued and given new families and a future through Watoto. I checked out their website and found out that Watoto have also recently begun a Baby Rescue Centre, the "Bulrushes." (see the before and after pictures; click to read the story)

So adding it all together, our family has begun a Project to raise funds to help Watoto rescue some Babies. We are also inviting some of our friends and neighbours to pick a project of their own and join us in making this Christmas about Giving; about making Room at the Inn, and populating some Stables! We have sat down as a family and come up with some workable ways the kids can get involved in raising money. Click here to read more on our fundraising efforts.

Then on December 6th we will bring everyone together for a fabulous Christmas Party. Because Christmas is also about Celebrating and Joy. There will be Food and Music and Lights and Games and Santa Claus (hey I have no problem with the guy in the red suit). And I plan to decorate a big Tree with symbols of all the Gifts we have managed to gather.

As they say the Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single step. Our journey has begun - I'll keep you all posted!

(Princess with one of the Christmas Cards we are making to sell)
23 September 2008

Off to Mauritius!

OK now, don't be jealous, but I have to tell you that this time next week we are off to Mauritius!
Just me, Mr G and Bub. It's a work thing, really, Mr G is an insurance broker and he qualified for this trip. We can't take the big kids but baby Scrag gets to come.

So soon I am sure I will be writing about the joys of travel with little ones. We've done it before, no probs! (yeah right) We took Dash to the UK when he was 8 months. Luckily he was (and still is) a great traveller. Princess, not so much! Short hops around the Pacific have been our limit. She is improving though, as she gets older, so maybe next year we take a trip to visit the English rellies?

In the meantime... ahhhh! Mauritius beckons! The Hilton, no less! (OK, I am bragging now).

It's a long way to go though. I am frantically making lists for our babysitter, trying to find a lay-back stroller and work out what I need to take for bub that will all fit within our baggage allowance.

Last year the trip was to Malaysia. I had just found out the day before that I was pregnant; the morning sickness was chronic, and the smells...!!
This year, I will be able to enjoy a glass of wine!

So, it may be a while before I post again, as I will be mad busy getting everything ready. But I'll be back... with photos!

17 September 2008

Cool, Spunky or Spirited Kids?

Today was one of those mornings. Princess was tired and didn't want to go to kindy; everything she tried to do got her frustrated and upset. Little things set her off and the volume got louder and louder - the SAS have never faced that kind of audio torture! I can only compare it to an air raid siren right in your ear. There's no getting away from it.

I tried everything to help her calm down, but in the middle of the morning rush (made easier with the help of my "Get Ready" CD of course) it was all I could do to get her out the door on time.

Talk about spirited! Intense! Persistent!! In the car, Dash tried to help; he said, "I know what... Something that will help you is try taking deep breaths...!" There was silence for about a minute as we all breathed deeply. Then she remembered she was on her way to kindy and the siren started up again!

Compare this to last night's magical moments: we had a cuddle on the couch before she went to bed; we talked about what her name means and how the lady in the Bible she is named for was a wise and beautiful princess. When I tucked her in bed she kissed me repeatedly on the cheek and as I exited her room she was still blowing me kisses.

A child of extreme constrasts is our Princess. Wonderful or... well, painful!

I would have gone out of my mind trying to fathom her if I hadn't read that book, "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. (To read my earlier post explaining it, click here).

Even if your child is not "Spirited" as such, the explanations the author gives really help to understand different aspects of your kids' personalities. For instance, Dash is a not spirited, but still scores very high in Intensity, Perceptiveness and Sensitivity. Those are areas I need to be aware of with him, and have had to work better at managing.

I have posted the Test on my website, as well as further explanations of the nine aspects of temperament: Intensity, Persistence, Sensitivity, Perceptiveness, Adaptability, Regularity, Energy, First Reaction and Mood.

This is condensed from the chapter "What Makes Kids Spirited"... you can work out whether your family is populated by Spirited, Spunky or Cool kids, or a combination of all three!
14 September 2008

Magical Dress-Up Box

Where would we be without our fabulous dress-up box? We have had hours of fun from it. Whenever there's a birthday party, we raid it for costumes. At a moment's notice we have had theme dinners, hosted the Queen for a Birthday Tea Party and filmed movies (our "Noah's Ark" was epic).

On any given day our children can be seen playing "Narnia", Superheroes or Kings and Queens. The Crocodile Hunter was a regular visitor at our house (before his very sad demise) and various wild animals are often seen on the loose in our garden.

Regular members of our family also include Pirates, Fairies and Dinosaurs.

The dress-up box is a goldmine of ideas and creativity.

It began with a simple tiger tail from the zoo shop and some $2 Shop hats when Dash was about 2 years old. Dressing up found such favour I then scoured our hall cupboard for old outfits Mr G and I had used when theme Balls were on our social calendar (it's surprising how many there were!!) Some wigs, hats and crazy ties were added, along with Mr G's old Ministry of Works jacket (perfect for becoming Bob the Builder).

Over the last few years we have added to the collection bit by bit; one Christmas Dash got a lion suit; another year a dinosaur tail. Miss Fab has an impressive collection of fairy wings and dresses; we now have a great collection of animal noses, ears and masks and face paint.

There is serious imaginitive fun to be had in a dress-up box.

It calls for inventiveness. It makes kids become someone else; it gets them thinking, imagining, pretending and playing.

If your kids are not in the habit of dressing up, you could kick-start them by showing them how it's done (kids think it's a crack-up when grown-ups are silly)! You could try having a family dinner on a Theme, which involves every member of the family dressing up.

One night we had an Animal Party. We all had to dress as an animal (ears, tails etc); I took the kids to the vege shop and they picked out fruit and veges that animals would eat. We decorated the table with toy animals, and the kids had to identify which animal ate which food.

Another night we had a Kings and Queens night, followed by watching the Princess Bride movie. Then of course there was our Spanish Dinner (click here), and once there was even a Party for No Reason.

If you haven't got a dress-up collection yet, start with what you have stashed away in cupboards. Old jewellery, funny old hats; visit the local $2 Shop... you'll be amazed what you'll find there.

You don't need a fancy box, any large box or container will do the trick. Then just let your imagination run wild!

And of course the parents are the two biggest kids of all...!
10 September 2008

Wardrobe Wars

Once Upon a time a Great Battle was raging, day in and day out. The Princess scoured her closet for beautiful clothes and alas, there were none to be seen.

She wailed and howled, crying and weeping over the lack of sparkly dresses and gorgeous gowns.
Every morning the King & Queen of that realm would awaken, dreading the moment when the young Princess would begin to get dressed only to find her wardrobe totally inadequate.

The Queen was at a loss. She had taken the Princess shopping many times, returning with items which seemed so lovely in the shops. Alas! In the cold light of day, nothing was good enough. And so the battle continued day after day, as the Queen attempted to get the Princess dressed. The Princess fired angry words, wounding the Queen and fuelling her frustration: "I have no beautiful clothes!" she wailed.

The Queen retaliated with threats of Time Out, and No Gymnastics. Meanwhile, lovely clothes languished in the Princess's drawers, wasted and rejected. She was simply too fussy, a Terrible Tyrant.

Finally one day the Queen of the Realm had had enough. She woke up to herself and realised that SHE WAS THE QUEEN OF THE REALM!

As the verbal volleys continued, the Queen marched into the Princess's bedroom and took her clothes hostage. She emptied every drawer, every cupboard. She bundled up the clothes and imprisoned them all in her own wardrobe.

The Princess was shocked and startled. All of a sudden those clothes (which had seemed so unattractive) became highly valuable. She wanted those clothes!

The King and Queen called a parley. "Here are our terms..." they told the now-subdued Princess. "Choose now two items of each type of clothing. From now on the clothes remain in our possession, until you have earned them back. How do you earn them back? By appreciating what you have, and making NO MORE FUSS ABOUT CLOTHES!"

From that day on, the Princess wore her clothes without a fuss. Every day that went by without a fuss, she won back another item of clothing. Amazingly, she discovered that her clothes were actually already beautiful! She also discovered that the Queen had some good suggestions that were worth listening to.

What's more, whenever she would start to complain about a lack of beautiful clothes, all the Queen had to do was to remind her... "Remember what happened when you made a fuss? You don't want your clothes back in mummy's wardrobe do you???"

Peace has reigned in the Land of the Wardrobe from that day to this!
09 September 2008


I am not a morning person, which is why I need things like my "Get Ready" CD to get me out the door on time. (See my post under "Getting Organised).

The other day I was on time, the kids were ready, we were a well oiled machine, walking out the door at 8.30am on schedule... until I get in the car and can't put it in gear! I try (gently) to shift the gear stick, but it is jammed, locked, not budging!

OK, don't panic, I say to myself. I have 15 minutes to walk (run) to school.

Get the pram out, put the baby in, get a water bottle, nope can't find one, too bad, just get going...!

We practically run all the way to kindy, drop off Princess, back out the gate and up the hill... By now the bell has gone. Smug parents who have been on time shake their heads at me as they return from dropping off their punctual offspring.

I rush (quietly) into Dash's classroom and explain to his sympathetic teacher why we are late... "It's a mystery! We were on time and then for some reason the gears jammed!"
Ahhhh... now a leisurely walk home, just in time to beat the rain. Put the baby in bed and then ring Mr G to let him know the car is broken...

The conversation goes like this:

ME: "You wouldn't believe what happened, I had to run all the way to school and only just got there before the roll went to the office! I was on time but then I just couldn't get the car to work. The gears were stuck!

Mr G: Hmmm... did you have your foot on the brake when you tried to shift the gears? You have to have your foot on the brake; it's an automatic!

ME: Ahhhh... what?? Ohhhhh?!!! Nooooo!

Sure enough when I try it again (this time with foot on brake) the gears work like magic! Duh!!

(PS: Goes to show that my brain really is still asleep til after 10am)
05 September 2008

Characteristics of a Spirited Child

Both my big kids have full-on personalities in their own way. We had been battling with different aspects of both their personalities when a client of Mr G's lent us the book "Raising Your Spirited Child". When we read it a light switched on for us - this book explained so much of what was going on.

The subtitle reads: "A guide for Parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic." If your child is any of those, read on!

I thought I would include some of the info here so that you can get a taste for what it's about.
The following is an except from Part 1, Understanding Spirit.

The Characteristics

"Each spirited child is unique, yet there exists distinct characteristics in which more is very apparent. Not all spirited children will possess all of the following five characteristics but each will exhibit enough of them to make them stand out in the crowd.

1. INTENSITY: The loud dramatic spirited children are the easiest to spot. They don't cry they shriek. they'renoisy when they play, when they laugh and even when they take a shower, singing at the top of their lungs... But quiet intensely observant children may also be spirited... their intensity is focussed inward rather than outward. No matter where the intensity is focussed, the reactions of spirited children are always powerful. There is rarely a middle of the road. They never whimper; they wail. They can skip into a room, smiling and laughing only to depart 30 seconds later inflamed. Their tantrums are raw and enduring.

2. PERSISTENCE: If an idea or activity is important to them, spirited children can "lock" right in. They are committed to their task, goal-oriented and unwilling to give up. Getting them to change their minds is a major undertaking. They love to debate and are not afraid to assert themselves.

3. SENSITIVITY: Keenly aware, spirited kids quickly respond to the slightest noises, smells, lights, texures or changes in mood. They are easily overwhelmed in crowds by the barrage of sensations. Getting them through a shopping centre or large gathering without losing them to a fit of tears is a major acheivement. Dressing can be a torture. A wayward string or scratchy texture can render clothes intolerable. Every sensation and emotion is absorbed by them including your feelings.

4. PERCEPTIVENESS: Send them to their room to get dressed and they'll never make it. Something along the way - perhaps an Ad on TV - will catch their attention as they wal by and they'll forget about getting dressed. It can take 10 minutes to get them out of the house into the car. They notice everything - the latest oil spill, the whit feather in the bird's nest and the dew in the spider web. They're often accused of not listening.

5. ADAPTABILITY: Spirited kids are uncomfortable with change. They hate surprises and do not shift easily from one activity or idea to another. Adapting to change, any change, is tough: ending a game in order to come to lunch, changing clothes for different seasons, getting in and out of the car. All of these activities signal a struggle for slow-to-adapt spirited children.

While each spirited child is unique, most are intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change. Many, but not all, possess four additional "bonus" characteristics: aspects of their personality that can make being their parent even more challenging...

6. REGULARITY: Figuring out when they will sleep or eat is a daily puzzle for parents of spirited kids who are irregular. It seems impossible to get them into any kind of schedule. An eight-hour night of undisturbed sleep is a mere lingering memory in your mind from the days before their birth!

7. ENERGY: Not all spirited kids are climbers and leapers. But they do tend to be busy - fidgeting, taking things apart, exploring and creating projects - from the time they wake up until they fall asleep. Although sometimes viewed as "wild", their energy is usually focussed and has a purpose.

8. FIRST REACTION: A quick withdrawal from anything new is typical of many spirited kids. Any unfamiliar idea, thing, place or person may be met with a vehement "NO!" or a quick disappearance behind your leg. they need time to warm up before they're ready to participate.

9. MOOD: The world is a serious place for some spirited kids. they're analytical, meticulously reviewing expereinces, finding the flaws... even if they scored three goals in the soccer game, they'll focus on the one they missed.

Being the parent of a spirited child can be lonely. Because they are more much of the advice that works for raising other children is ineffective with spirited kids. To ignore your child's tantrums is ridiculous - he can rage for an hour (or more). Send him to his room and he is likely to tear it apart. There is no distracting him from something that he wants... as a result you can feel crazy, wondering what you are doing wrong, chastising yourself for not "getting control" and thinking that you are the only parent in the world whose child acts this way."

Does this ring any bells with you??!! Even as I have been typing this out, I am thinking of countless examples of both Miss Fab and Dash; Miss Fab scores highly on the chart, Dash is just on the threshold, a kid who is extremely intense, sensitive and perceptive. Miss Fab has all these plus is greatly persistent, highly energetic and very irregular!

Click Here for more on Spirited Kids...
Click Here to take the Personality Traits Test...

Seriously, this book is a gem! If you want to get a copy yourself (http://www.goodbooksnz.co.nz/ stock it and offer free delivery).

Bundle of Joy

This is Scrag's Story...

He nearly didn't get here. I don't do pregnancy very well, and after Miss Fab was born I thought: That's it, I'm done, I've got my boy and my girl. Two kids is my lot.
Mr G and I used to think we'd have three kids, but that was before we had any. Parenting is harder than it looks.

I trucked along with my two, certain that was it for me. If anyone asked, I was pretty definite... almost!When Dash was four, a friend from kindy came to play, bringing his mum, his little sister and his new baby brother.
Dash was smitten. After that visit, he began with the begging: "Mum can I have a baby brother? Mum, I'm so sad for my baby brother... mum, my baby brother can share my bunk; my baby brother can have these toys... it's not fair cause Caleb has got TWO brothers and I don't have any!"

Poor kid, I felt sorry for him. I thought (and said), there's just no way I can do another pregnancy!
I told him, "Sorry honey I don't think it can happen. Mummy has a sore back and a baby would hurt it more..."

He figured a way round that: "I'll pray for your back to get better, mum... dear Jesus please make mummy's back all better so I can have a baby brother, amen! There mum, it's all better, now can I have my baby brother??!!"

I thought it was a phase that he'd grow out of. Nope. Months went by and every now and then Dash would ask again.

I tried reasoning with him... "Honey, you know we can't choose if we get a brother or a sister. Even if I had another baby, you might get another sister!"

"No," he said firmly. "Because Jesus knows in my heart it's a baby brother."

I spoke to a wonderful wise lady I know, and asked her, was someone up there was trying to tell me something? Because this kid would just not let up!
She suggested I pray and ask God that if it was "meant to be" it would grow in my own heart. So I did. And then forgot all about it for a while.

Until I started seeing baby boys wherever I went and to my surprise, I even started feeling... clucky??!!

I spoke to my doctor, my counselor and chiropractor... wanting to make sure I wasn't being unrealistic about whether I could cope. They were supportive, but some family members were quite skeptical and were concerned for my health and wellbeing. One in the health sector, flat out said, You are blessed with two healthy kids, but with your history that's a miracle. You'll do what you want but in my opinion it would be crazy.

The funny thing was, all that negativity just made me want it more.

Mr G said, "Hey, I've always wanted three. It's just whether you think you can cope with it."

I felt like my window of opportunity was closing as I was edging closer to 40 every day, but I couldn't make up my mind. One minute I was like, "Oh yes, we should!" the next I was thinking about broken sleep, endless nappies and having to go back to the "baby stage" when life was just starting to get easier!

Finally one day I woke up and said to Mr G: "I can't take any more of this limbo. I just need to know, is it yes or no? How can I tell?"
"Ask God to show you in your heart, not just your head," he replied. Wise man.

That very day I was at a birthday party for one of Miss Fab's friends whose mum had recently had her third baby - a gorgeous baby boy. I held this little treasure as his mummy ran around hosting, and what do you know, he fell asleep on me. For an hour and a half, I cuddled him as he slept and for the first time I could picture myself holding another baby.

All of a sudden I knew that if we never had that third baby, I would regret it.

As soon as I got home from the party I rang Mr G to tell him I knew I wanted to get started on making Baby Number Three...

Within two months I was pregnant and I hideously sick, far worse than with the other two. And my hips and pelvis already ached and I was limping badly. One day I was so bad, I literally couldn't get out of bed. I phoned the kindergarten to inform them Dash wouldn't be in, and bless them, one of the mums came by to pick him up for me; another mum supplied lunch for him. I was so touched - what a great community!

The whole pregnancy was tough. It never let up. If it wasn't puking and nausea, aches and exhaustion, it was dizziness, low blood pressure and panic attacks, through the hottest summer for years!

Near the end I had to consult a specialist because the baby was in the top 5% for size and I also had large fibroids showing up in the scan near the cervix. In the end it was decided to give me an elective caesarian. Thankfully I got a date two weeks early (I was HUGE); I thought a planned caesarian would be a cake-walk, but it's actually quite scary and wierd.

Mr G had wanted to keep the baby's sex a surprise so when they pulled the baby out and held him up, the shout "It's a boy!" sent me into floods of tears.

I would have been happy with another wee girl of course, but I knew that Dash had been praying for this little brother for nearly two years!

The surgeon told us later that Scrag wouldn't have been able to be born naturally; his head was wedged behind the fibroid and wouldn't have gone down. I hemorraged after he was delivered and my uterus wouldn't contract due to the fibroids. I lost nearly two litres of blood and ended up in HDU for a while. Scraggy was 9lb 3oz two weeks early - he looks like a wrestler in his early photos!

From the first day I knew I had a little gem. I was in agony (all the handling during the hemorrage, the cut, my pelvis) but when I looked at my little boy it was so worth it!

I swear to you, he smiled at me while we were still in the hospital. He looked me right in the eye, as if he recognised me and his expression seemed to say, "I know you! You're my mummy!"

Scraggy is a pure joy. He first laughed at two months old, a deep throaty chuckle; he has a great sense of fun and cackles every time you change his nappy or even catch his eye.
He's a treasure, we all love and adore him to peices and I am SO GLAD that Dash started asking for a baby brother!

Sometimes I have a scary thought: What if I hadn't listened? Where would we be without Scraggy?

So I am grateful, incredibly grateful, for this little character. He's going to be a chatterbox, and will be right at home in our crazy family full of clowns!
01 September 2008

Things that Help Me

I got an email yesterday from someone who had read "My Journey" with depression and found that it had helped them a lot.
It made me really glad that I had taken the step (the risk) of sharing such a personal thing with you on my blog.

It has also been on my mind to share some of the things that help me cope - my "medicine for the soul". Hopefully you may find some of these things give you strength on days when you need it! Even if you don't have depression, some of these things will probably still be helpful on the crazy days.

I find beauty soothes me, calms my ragged nerves and is like a kind of tonic. By that I mean, sitting in a sunny corner with a cup of tea, looking out at the trees waving; or some fresh flowers put on my windowsill (I love the freesias that are out at the moment, they smell so delicious).

Last week I was having a rough one, pretty much all week. Monday morning started badly, I was tired, baby was unsettled. All my nerves were jangling as I tried to chase the kids into the car. They had disappeared into the front garden and then came around the corner holding out handfuls of... my daffodils! My first thought was irritation, but that was quickly replaced with a little warm glow as I looked at their cheeky grins, and heard their self-satisfied chorus of, "For you Mum!"

By Thursday I was still struggling, and was due to host a coffee group at my house. I needed help quick, I was in no fit state emotionally to be the happy hostess. So I went into my garden and picked myself some more flowers, lovely sweet freesias. And I made a pot of tea in my pretty teapot, put out my tiered cake plate (for the Farmbake cookies) and turned on my "Jesus" music... the CD I made with all my favourite encouraging songs.
Then I rang my friend Margs and let her know I was struggling and asked for her help.

As it turned out it was a lovely morning, I avoided having any panicky moments and everyone said how pretty the table looked. I told them, "I just really needed to surround myself with beauty this morning!"

Calming music is something that I have turned to many times. For a long time I couldn't pray or read my Bible; the best I could do was to fill my house with music that would lift me up when I was down. I would just put on one of my mix CDs (all my current favourites) and sit with a cuppa and let the songs wash over me. Music helps set the tone. I can't stand loud hyper music, or screaming ads. I start to feel overwhelmed and swamped with all that noise. I have to either turn it off or get out. Sometimes all I need is "the sound of silence" (rare as that may be).

There's no point faking it; if you're struggling, people can see right through the plastic smile and calm veneer. Hopefully you have got at least one friend that will stick with you and accept you and love you even if they don't really "get" what you are going through.

One of my best friends did this for me. I've known her for years, we did youth work together, were bridesmaids for each other, had kids together... when she saw me struggling in the early days with depression she later told me she really didn't understand and couldn't relate at that time. But she stuck by me, she accepted me and loved me. She is one amazing girl, and I thank God for a friend like her. Later on she found herself struggling with depression herself, and then I got to be there for her too.

Other friends that I didn't get to share with, wondered, "Gee what has happened to Simone? She has really gone off the boil! She used to be into everything and now where is she?" I felt really hurt when some seemed to misjudge me. Fear of being judged just added to my misery!

But then I became a mum, and it seemed like every second person I spoke to had battled this at some time! Now I know that letting people know what you are struggling with is the best way. It gives people the chance to be there for you. You can ask for help on days you are not coping. They may not "get it" totally, unless they've been there, but if they really are your friends they will stick by you.

It's hard to be creative when you are battling depression, but if you can find some time and space for something creative, it's amazing how it will energise you. This blog is part of my creative outlet. My kids parties are part of my creative outlet.

Sometimes I paint.

I have a Visual Journal, which works like a written one but with colours and paints instead of words.
My counsellor taught me this technique as a way to connect with God and also to work through things. When our minds are all frazzled and our thoughts tangled, it's next to impossible to write in a journal. It was definitely in my "too hard" basket. But painting by-passes our brain, and comes out of our spirit. It's been amazing sometimes the things that have come out when I have painted.

Once I painted a forest, black trees with a path and a glimmer of light starting to show through. In my mind it was the Forest of Depression, which I was starting to see a way through at the time. After I had done it, I realised it was actually the Forest of Unforgiveness! There were five big trees in the front of the picture. My counsellor asked, who are those five people? She told me, nothing is insignificant in what you paint. You paint things you didn't even realise you knew. Out of that painting I started the process to work through a whole lot of stuff to do with the past. It was amazing.

I also love to paint canvases, in acrylic; mainly seascapes. I find it very calming, mixing colours right on the canvas and seeing where it takes me.

Winston Churchill (that great man) battled depression; he called it his "black dog". When he was feeling low with it he would paint, or garden, or make things. Creativity is a great antidote.

I am not an outdoorsy person at all, but I have to say there is something very healing about getting outside into nature. I have discovered that gardening really refreshes me!

On Friday it was a lovely day, and I just felt like getting dirt under my fingernails. (My week had improved a little but was still on thin ice). After kindy I put the baby in his pram, set my daughter up with her easel and paints in the front garden, and started attacking the weeds. I felt so energised and revitalised by the end of it - and the garden was much improved.

My other favourite thing is going for a walk on the beach. I like the west coast surf beaches like Karekare for this. The wildness really appeals to me.

Ask for time for yourself...
Guys are really good at taking time for themselves; Mr G plays indoor soccer and sometimes goes out to play golf or other sporting outlets.
Like many other mothers, I forget to ask for time for myself! I'm trying to get better at it; time with other grown-ups, uninterrupted conversation, coffee, movies, whatever. It's energising, revitalising and necessary if I want to have gas in the tank for my family.