30 June 2009

Visiting Dad

Thanks so much to all my wonderful friends (both in real life and the blogosphere) who have been praying for my dad.

After a little bit of drama with fog and cancelled flights on Saturday, I did eventually arrive at my destination.

Mum picked me up and we headed straight to the Hospital - which was in lock-down as there was an outbreak of a Nanovirus and no visiting permitted.

Except that somehow Mum and I and my sister were allowed in. The other patients in my dad's room hadn't seen anyone in a week. And yet here we were, trotting in, oblivious to what a miracle it was that they let us in the door. (Must have been all those prayers??)

I was great to see the old codger with my own eyes, assure myself that he was not truly at death's door, but had had a little wakeup call.

My siblings and I are all in agreement that we want Dad to take early retirement from being a Postie. Yes, that's right, he's a Postman. My dear old dad gets on his bike, six days of the week at the crack of dawn. He lugs bags of Mail, out in all weathers, and never says no to an extra run when someone calls in sick.

In fact (sound of extreme indignation in my voice) on the day he came down with appendicitis four months ago, he finished his round, plus someone else's (some bloke who probably had a cold and didn't fancy going out in the rain) though it took him til it was nearly dark. Then he limped home. Mum took one look at him and raced him off to the hospital and next minute he was in surgery having his appendix out.

What can I say, the guy's a martyr. You can bet I gave him a good talking to. He's the only grandad my kids have left, and I am determined he sticks around for a good long while.

Anyway, here I am back home. Freshly landed at the airport. Dad is still in hospital waiting for the powers that be to send him to Wellington for more thorough tests. But he's looking perky, he's laughing, he's cheeky. A good sign.

Meanwhile Mr G held down the fort at home and managed superbly. The kids were great (no dramas); he let the housework go and just did a quick blitz before he picked me up from the airport.

Apparently my job is not as easy as it looks?? Yes indeed, he has a new appreciation for me. I was greeted with flowers and there was a love letter waiting for me on my pillow (awww, so sweet).

Yep, it's good to be home.

Please keep praying for dad if you can... he's not out of the woods yet and now my mum is rattling around on her own with the nanovirus vistor ban still in place. Thanks so much, friends!!
26 June 2009

Please Pray for my Dad

Hi friends, just a quick post with a request that any of you praying types out there please send up a few words on behalf of my Dad, Peter. He has been admitted this afternoon to hospital after being sick all week and having chest pains; tests have revealed he has had a minor heart attack.
I know they said minor, but to me, my siblings and especially my mum, this is major.

Our dad is an amazingly fit and healthy 63 year old guy. The thought of our dad laid up in hospital with a heart attack is inconceivable. Please pray especially for my mum. My dad is her best friend; I know she is freaking out right now. I am flying down to be with them first thing in the morning. Thanks in advance for your prayers. :)

Luv Simone
25 June 2009

Turning Five...

My baby girl has one month before she turns five and heads off into the big wide world of school.* How is that possible??

We have been having "school visits". Every Thursday we spend the morning up at the school with other children who are starting soon. The children get a taste of what their days will look like; they meet their teachers and future classmates. They get familiar with the layout of the school, they go on walks and learn about The Yellow Lines, which must never be crossed without an adult. They practise sitting beautifully on the mat, putting their hand up to speak and walking in a line.

Of course my Princess never actually walks anywhere. As the line progresses around the school grounds, she is the only kid skipping. But she manages to sit nicely on the mat without too much wriggling.

Proud (and nervous) mums and dads stand at the back of the classroom and watch their little ones practise being school kids.

"A for Apple, A, A, Apple... B for Ball, B, B, Ball..." they chant, turning around to check that we are catching their brilliance.

When the teacher starts to hand out scissors for the Phonics activity, Princess races over to me, clearly agitated...

"Mum, Mrs Martin doesn't know I'm not allowed to use scissors!" she stage-whispers.

"What do you mean? Of course you can use scissors!" I reply, slightly confused.

"No mum, remember, I cut my hair????"
Ohhh, bless her! I forgot I had banned her!!

Yep, it's only a month til my wee girl gets pushed out of the warm kindergarten nest, and into life as a Big School Girl.

We all can't wait!

* In New Zealand children start school straight after their 5th birthday. Photos in this post were taken by my lovely friend Meg, whose adorable son will be starting school with Princess.
23 June 2009

Tidy Up Song

This gem of an idea I have gleaned from Ian and Mary Grant of Parents Inc. ... and boy oh boy it works a treat.

The premise is simple: instead of having to nag, cajole and threaten your kids to tidy up their rooms/toys/mess, you put on the tidy-up-song and turn it into a race. In other words turn drudgery into fun.

We've been using The Macarena as our tidy-up song for over a year now. Whenever the kids hear that song cranked up, they sprint into their bedrooms and the race is on, no nagging required.

I used this idea recently when I hosted a coffee group. Of course I had spent ages cleaning and tidying to get the house ready for the guests' arrival, and with 14 or so little preschoolers playing for the morning, you can imagine the aftermath I would have been left with.

So I used the tidy-up song. I explained to the kids we were going to have a race to see who could tidy up their room the fastest and best. The boys would tidy Dash's room and the girls would do Princess' room. On went the song, and these little 2-4 years olds scurried to clean up as their mums watched, amazed and gobsmacked... "Who knew my kid could tidy up like that???"

There were quite a few requests for a copy of my tidy-up music, and I got txts from some of the mums who have started using the idea, telling me what a difference it's made.

Another friend was battling with trying to get her daughter ready and out the door for school. I emailed her the get-ready/tidy-up music idea and she sent me this email the next day:
"Thanks so much for your email yesterday. That is such a simple idea. My girls are really into Mama Mia and Abba at the moment so this morning I thought I'd try it. Ella completely surprised me and got so energised and got her tasks done within the songs. Oh my Goodness I have a different child on my hands!..."

So pick a song, any high-energy song (a longish one, say 4-5 minutes duration). It helps if the kids help in the choosing of it. Then try it out next time there's tidying to be done. Make sure the music is up nice and loud and can be heard from their bedrooms. Then stand back and be amazed... and pleasantly surprised!

(If you give this idea a try, let me know how you get on...)
21 June 2009

Soulful Sunday: Letting Go

This morning I preached to myself by accident. Dash was whingeing about Daddy putting him in time-out, and blaming me for the fact that he ended up there. (Apparently if I had been quicker to get his shorts for him he would have been been outside playing, so wouldn't have been inside getting in trouble.)

I heard myself saying to him: You know, you can't just go around blaming everybody else for what happens to you...

And literally felt my words turn around and bite me. Ooooh they cut me deep.

Suddenly through my mind rushed a list of things and people I was blaming: my church for making the music too loud; the kids for stressing me out; the specialist for being unsympathetic and not giving me answer I wanted...

There I was, wallowing in ugly self-pity, negative and defensive. Yuck!

With this at the back of my mind we rushed out the door to church. Today we were starting the new plan: drop the kids off at their programmes; I go to Starbucks until the music is over (thereby avoiding any hideous panic attacks) and hubby txts me when it's safe to come on down.

I had intended to take my journal with me, but in the rush to leave it was forgotten.

With the kids dropped off I was heading out the door of the church when someone called my name, and a girl ran up to me and handed me a book, tied up with a ribbon.

It was Bill Johnson's new book, "Face to Face with God."

A coincidence? I think not. The book was from our pastor for me and Rory. Talk about freaky timing. I walked up the road to Starbucks, ordered my coffee and sat down with a sense that God has me right where he wants me. He wants me to stop fighting my seemingly frustrating circumstances. He wants me to let go my blaming, my negativity, my self-pity. Let it go. Drop it.

That's all He wants for now. Just let it go and see what happens.

As I started to read, I was reminded of a couple of things.

1. The Caterpillar/Butterfly. There's a struggle but I just have to let go of that caterpillar skin. Stop fighting the process.

2. Eustace's un-Dragoning (from Voyage of the DawnTreader by CS Lewis).

If you don't know the story, mean old Eustace gets turned into a Dragon, starts to regret the nasty little person he was, but is trapped inside his dragonny self. One night he wakes up and Aslan is there. Aslan takes him to a Well which will restore him to a boy if he can jump in - but first he has to undress, i.e. scratch away his dragon skin. He scratches and scratches, revealing layer after layer of dragon-ness. Eventually he turns to Aslan for help. The Lion pierces deep into the dragon-skin with his claws and rips it away. It hurts. But Eustace trusts himself to Aslan and becomes a boy again. A better boy than he ever was before.

This story spoke to me profoundly, years ago. Try as I might to peel away the layers of my "issues" it seemed there was always more; I could never get to the end of it.

The secret lay in trusting myself over to "Aslan", let him cut me deep. Of course, here I am, many dragonny layers later; still quite dragonny; still trying to do it myself.

And so then God whispers in my heart this morning, "Let it go."

Stop trying to fix myself myself. It aint going to happen!! Can't be done! If I coulda done it myself, I woulda by now!

Stop holding onto anger and frustration and self-pity. If I'm going to work on something, work on letting go.

So, my friends, here's where the rubber meets the road. From now on, Sunday morning I take my book to Starbucks. I have a peaceful coffee with God and read. The book is just for Sunday. During the week I can mull it over, re-read stuff, draw/journal/blog about what comes up. That's it.

Oh, and of course: Let Go.
19 June 2009

Saturday's Coming...

Tis the night before Saturday
and all through the house
not a kidlet is stirring, not even mouse
The children are snuggled up warm in their beds
While visions of soccer goals dance in their heads

There's a Game to be won and Dancing to follow
In warm cosy beds we can never wallow
The frosty cold morning might nip at our noses
We'll wrap up all warm and put boots on our toeses
Umbrellas and mittens and scarves for each one
Autumn is over, and winter's begun.

18 June 2009

I Can't Breathe

I do it all wrong. If there was a breathing exam I would score a "D". Apparently. That's what I'm told. Apparently that's what is wrong with me. I am not very good at Breathing. In fact,
Here's me thinking I have a problem with my ears... you know sensitivity to sound which brings on hideous panic attacks... but the ear specialist guy says No. It's just that I Don't Breathe Very Good.

He tried to explain it... something to do with stress... makes me breathe in my chest instead of my "Diesel Engine Diaphragm" and so I end up breathing rapidly and there's some kind of chemical thing and somehow I end up sensitive to noise and freaking out.

Apparently there's a place I can go to learn how to breathe but sadly, there's nothing he can do to help me with my personality(!) and my Olympic prowess as an anxious worrier(!)

Boy did I feel stupid. I backed out of the specialist's office blinking back tears and feeling like a crazy nonce, a Hysterical Housewife who just never learnt to breathe and couldn't take the pressure of life as a stay-at-home mum with three kids and a nice husband.

It's OK, it's fixable, the Specialist reassured me.

Somehow I don't feel reassured. I mean it's taken me 10 years to drag myself this far. I was really hoping for something straightforward like: Oh yes, your ears are very waxy, just get them syringed and you'll be able to rejoin the human race.

Or perhaps: Well madam, in your case we do recommend surgically removing your ears; that should fix the problem and you will then be able to sit with your husband in church instead of up at Starbucks til the music is finished.

But no. No Easy Fix. No Magic Bullet. Nothing actually wrong with my ears that an immunity to stress and an ability to breathe wouldn't fix.

So all I have to do is eliminate stress from my life *guffaw* *snort* *chortle* (sounds of hysterical laughter)... oh yes and learn to breathe.

Simple really.
17 June 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Sporty Scrag

"OK, team, lets play some B-Ball..."
"Shoot, Scrag! Here I'll pass it to ya..."

"And it's a slam dunk! Score!"

15 June 2009

Fabulous Farmyard Party


This Saturday just gone, we had the privilege of hosting a fifth Birthday Farmyard Party for my friend Nic's daughter Sofia. They have just moved to Taupo, and with it being such a special birthday, they wanted to have the family and friends from Auckland... so we volunteered to have it at our house.


The weather forecast looked grim all week (not great for an outdoor party, complete with mobile farmyard). Thank heavens those forecasters are more often wrong than right. Apart from a few passing spits the weather was lovely - just right for a crisp day at the (suburban) Farm to celebrate turning five.

Nic put a huge amount of effort in to the plans with an amazing farmyard spread (see below). She had to plan and coordinate everything from a distance, which was pretty stressful, and we were still finishing off decorating the cake when the first guests started to arrive! However, in true "farming community" style all the mums pitched in to help finish off little sheep and piggy cupcakes... it was a great case of "mucking in".

We borrowed some hobby horses for races and there was apple-bobbing (with apples actually being eaten), tree-climbing and lemonade drinking until the farmer arrived.

"Farmer Paul" parked up his mobile farm truck at the park at the end of our street, and the kids went off to have pony rides, and pet the rabbits and mice.

It was a fabulous afternoon, the parents/aunts and uncles/grandparents enjoying it as much as the the kiddies. And then the wonderful "farming community" spirit kicked into action again at the end and left me a lovely tidy house with all the dishes done.

All in all, a truly wonderful party!

Fantastic Farmyard Food

Old-Fashioned Lemonade: What else for a Farmyard Party?? So delicious and refreshing served with lots of ice. Click here for the recipe...

Moo Shakes: Add some chocolate syrup to a 3 litre bottle of milk and shake well. Attach brown string to clear plastic cups (for a tail); stick white marshmallow halves (sticky side in) onto the cups just before serving. Pour in chocolate milk and finish off with a cow straw. (Photocopy a cow face, cut out and tape onto straw)

Farmyard Pies: Get a packet of pre-rolled short crust pastry; cut out in animal shapes with a cookie cutter; fill with a mixture of Minced beef, tomato sauce, bread crumbs and Worcestershire sauce. Press edges together, brush with milk and a scatter of sesame seeds. Bake at 180oc for 10-15 minutes.

Sheep and Piggy Cupcakes: Using pink and white marshmallows to decorate; with raspberry straps and chocolate chips for the eyes. You've got to love that buttercream icing! Mmmm...

Haybale Lamingtons: Using plain unfilled sponge cake cut into small rectangular shapes to resemble haybales. Dip into caramel sauce and then roll in shredded toasted coconut. We arranged them on the plate with some leftover chocolate "fences" and spare farm animals.

There was also:
  • mini-corn cobs (microwaved from frozen)
  • Iced Animal biscuits (using the same cookie cutters as for the pies)
  • Baby carrots (with their tops still on)
  • Mandarins (in a mini toy wheelbarrow)
  • Sausage rolls
  • Scones with crabapple jelly and cream; served with a cup of tea for the grownups

The Birthday Cake: Nic borrowed a number "5" cake tin and baked double recipe to make a lovely deep cake. She iced it with green butter cream icing, with a clay-coloured section in the middle. She piped melted chocolate onto baking paper in the shape of fences; the chocolate "fences" she stuck in a round the edge of the cake, then arranged plastic farm animals on the "farm"; the piggy was also stuck in a pile of chocolate mud and the ducks were splashing in a blue gel "pool".
The birthday girl loved it!


Setting the Farmyard Scene

Home-made Fabric Bunting: Nic made a string of bunting which we strung up under the carport where the party table was. To make: Cut out flag-shaped triangles of patterned fabric using pinking sheers (for a zig-zag, no-sew edge); Use a variety of spots, stripes and checked fabric. Fold over the top edge and sew, so that a string can be threaded through. Thread a long string through all the "flags" and you have a lovely strand of bunting.

The Table: Nic set the table with a red checked cloth; she had a number of enamel "pots" which she used to display the food as well as baskets lined with tea-towels; She had bought a selection of paper napkins in red and blue spots and checks, contrasted with plain red plastic plates. We found a wooden toy tractor in the toy box and popped it on the table. Apart from that, the food was it's own decoration. (Other tables were also covered with various bright checkered cloths.)

Apple bobbing: An enamel bucket was set up on the one haybale we had. Very farm-like.

{We ran out of time to Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Toss the Gumboot... we were all having way too much fun climbing trees and racing horses...}

  • Click Here for other tips on Planning a Kids Party
  • Click here for my FREE Printable Farmyard Invitation
  • Or get it personalised on my Etsy Shop...

12 June 2009

The View from Wits End

Wit's End. That's where I am. This has been one of those weeks when you realise how far you have let some things slide by taking the all-too-easy option of appeasing the little people. Then one day there's just one thing too many: a complaint, a fuss, a lie... in fact too much downright stubborn disobedience and insubordination. It has left you standing there feeling like your brain is about to explode and wondering when you handed control over to the children.

I mean, am I the mother or just the lackey??

Are the parents in charge or are we just the Go-to-Guys for little dictators? Since when do the kids get to tell me what they will and will not wear/eat/do?? Who rolled over and made them King??

I guess I must have. That's why the first rule of Government is Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists. I must have forgotten that.

So we have begun to re-instigate Extreme Measures.

The Big Boy was the first offender to reap the whirlwind of consequences for mutiny.

When he (a) refused to wear warm clothes to school (yet again); (b) threw all his fruit and yoghurt into the toilet rubbish bin before school and then (c) lied about (a) and (b)... I'd had enough.

I dropped him off at school, and returned home to take Dr Phil's advice and calmly remove everything from his bedroom. OK, not everything: I left him the bed and the chest of drawers, some books and a cuddly toy. I removed all his sports clothes, his soccer cards and all his toys and pictures. He came home to a very bare room.

There was a fair bit of crying and shouting ("It's not fair! I hate this family!" "You don't even love me!")... but when he realised that Mummy and Daddy were sticking together, standing firm and not about to be blackmailed or budged, the angry sad little lad calmed down and settled in to trying to earn his treasures back through good behaviour, obedience and truth-telling.

We are now into Day Three and his manners and attitude are remarkably different to the smart-mouthed little tyrant that was lurking around on Monday.

He has so far earnt back 8 soccer cards... and begun to draw pictures to stick on his bare walls (to make it look "neat").

Sigh. Take a deep breath and cross fingers.

Then there's that other little Madam. The Girl who is nearly off to school.

The one I take shopping for winter gear and who loves the clothes we buy while we are in the shop but as soon as we get home she refuses to wear them!!! Arrrggghhh!!! Socks and tights have annoying itchy threads, jeans are too uncomfortable, PJ's are worn once and then abandoned, slippers sit untouched in the shoe box. What a waste!!! So here I am again at Wits End.

I have been here before with her; Extreme Measures brought her into line. Drawers were stripped bare. Clothes had to be earnt back. She is on the brink of losing it all again.

I am trying one last thing before I do that... I have noticed that she loves to wear her friends clothes; so tomorrow I am doing a swap with her friend Yazzy's mum; a clothes swap. I'll swap her unworn rejected (lovely) clothes for some her buddy won't wear. Last chance, Princess! Schooldays are approaching. The time for Extreme Measures are at hand.

That seems to be the only thing for it, here at Wits End.
11 June 2009

Manner Jar

Table Manners at our house have been raggy round the edges at best. We have a bunch of squirmy worms, who regularly wriggle in their seats, talk with their mouth full, complain about the food and jump down (without permission) while everyone else is still eating.

I am thinking, I'd better do something about this before I launch these hogs into the world.
And then I remembered Rebecca's great idea of The Manner Jar. Rebecca wrote about this years ago (on her old blog),when my little piggies were still in nappies. Back then they were too young to try it out on them, but by golly they aren't now!

The idea is that you write down lots of different Table Manners on slips of paper, put them in a jar and at each meal, you draw one out and practise it at that meal. When everyone in the family is regularly displaying great table manners you are then fit to go out in public and have a special meal somewhere like a restaurant. We have made a start and so far it seems to be helping improve things.

Here's our list of manners:
  • Say “Please” and “Thank you”
  • Stay at the table until everyone has finished
  • Say nice things to the cook
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full
  • Sit nicely in your chair
  • Eat nicely without making a mess
  • Eat all your dinner without making a fuss
  • Ask “Can I leave the table” when you have finished
I let the two big kids pick out one manner each, so we get to practise two manners each dinner.

Dash reads them out (great reading practise). The kids love it. I love it. So much easier than nagging and growling. I'm all for that.

So watch out - we could soon be appearing at a Restaurant near you!
10 June 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Pearly Whites

With 8 little white gnashers and 4 ouchy molars on the way, Scrag is loving joining in the "cleaning teeth" ritual with the big kids...
Ahem... loving it so much, in fact, that when nobody is looking he sneaks back in to the bathroom and proceeds to chew through the tube of Wiggles toothpaste. Nice clean teeth though.
08 June 2009

Brothers and Sisters

As a kid I never understood why mum and dad would get so upset when us kids would fight or be mean to each other. But I get it now. Nothing gets under my skin more than when the kids are niggling at each other, or say something mean or try to get each other in trouble.

Then again, nothing gives me such a warm fuzzy glow as when I see them getting on with each other, helping, being kind or cooperating together.

The happiest sound is of them laughing and playing together... something that has been increasingly rare lately, sad to say.
In fact, Mr G and I have had about enough of all the telling tales, snide remarks, competing and general unkindness that was shooting back and forth between our eldest two.

They both dote on Scrag but are very impatient and grumpy with each other.
We have tried to stamp on it by growling, time-outs, confiscating stuff and threatening loss of privileges. The niggling continued unabated.

Finally one evening around bedtime, when Mr G was out, on a burst of inspiration fuelled by frustration, I sat them both down and we had a proper talk about it all.

Dash, Miss Fab thinks you don't like her, is that true?

Miss Fab, see he does like you... but he doesn't like the way you tease him and annoy him when he's doing his own things...

What kind of things does Miss Fab do that annoys you, Dash?

What kind of things does Dash do that hurts your feelings, Miss Fab?

We had a good heart-to-heart. I explained why it is so important for them to be friends... because in the years to come, they will always be brothers and sisters. Friends will come and go, but they'll always have each other.

I got them to say three things they liked about the other person. We talked about each others' friends and who they think is nice/cool (finding things to appreciate about each other).

I told them, One day you will need each other; one day you will want your brother/sister to be able to say nice things about you, not: Nah you don't want to go out with my sister, she's a real pain... or My brother? That jerk? No way, he's a meanie, stay away from him!

They laughed and thought that was funny and we had a hug and a prayer to ask Jesus to help us be kinder to each other and off they went to bed.

A couple of weeks have come and gone since then; some days it's been the same old ruckus, other days I get a glimmer of hope for something better. Like on Sunday morning just gone.

I was lying in bed and I hear them stage whispering in the kitchen, making plans to surprise me with breakfast. They figured out how to get the toaster working and prepared me a feast of jammy toast and juice. They even made some for Scrag.

The sound of their teamwork gave me a warm glow all over (I had to sneak out and take a few pics). Who cares that the kitchen was a bombsite afterwards, or that the toast was burnt?

Mum, I buttered the toast? do you like it? Mum, see I put this pretty cushion on your chair, is it comfy?

Wonderful, I told them. All wonderful. But do you know my favourite bit?

What? they chorused.

My favourite bit was hearing you guys working together so well. I love it!

Ahhhh, time for a team hug.
So I guess we'll just keep plugging away, encouraging them when we see the good, expecting nothing less. And keep hoping that over time these kinds of moments become more the rule than the exception.

Do you struggle with this one too? What do you do?
05 June 2009

Butterfly Wings

A friend of mine told me recently about an amazing clip she had found on YouTube, showing a monarch caterpillar turning into a chrysalis. The really wierd and wonderful thing was that the caterpillar didn't spin a cocoon (as I had always supposed); it shed it's caterpillar self and revealed the chrysalis within!

I did some googling and found the clip... (watch this, it's quick)

Wow, amazing. The chrysalis was formed inside the caterpillar. And then the butterfly was formed inside the chrysalis.

There's a profound truth hidden here. Inside me is not just butterfly potential, but rather all the butterfly-ness is actually already there.

 The process of revealing my true butterfly-self is awkward, somewhat embarrassing, and looks downright painful.

At one point it seems like everything is stripped away and I have become unrecognisable to myself. I am left hanging by a thread, looking and feeling useless and hopeless: not a caterpillar, not a butterfly. This bit seems to go on for quite a while.

It seems like nothing is happening, like I have lost who I am. But inside me something deep and hidden is being formed. Something amazing and beautiful. Something that can only emerge after a struggle.

Because if you help a butterfly break out of the chrysalis and the butterfly doesn't struggle to emerge itself, her wings will never be strong enough to enable her to fly.

When I was seven years old I remember our class watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis; we all wanted to help it get out because it was struggling so much, but our teacher said, no, if you do that, it will never be able to fly.

It's the struggle that builds our strength. And then we get to fly. Then our true colours are revealed - the beauty that has been forming inside us, hidden from all eyes.

I have lately been reading a book called The Portal written by my counsellor (and one of our pastors) Jill Smith. Her life has been a struggle on many fronts. But here she is in her mid-50's, a stunning, mature, fascinating woman. She is secure, she is creative, she has fought off cancer and depression. Jill is connected with God in such a real and deep way that it stirs up a longing in me for the same. Jill is using her struggles to help others. She is truly beautiful inside and out.

By the time I get to my later years I want to be one of those women, like her, who have that inner radiance which makes wrinkles and grey hair seem like the ultimate fashion accessories. I don't want to be a sad, bitter, complaining victim, where hardship (life)has made me hard. I would hope to emerge from my struggles better, stronger and more gracious than I would ever have been if my life had run smoothly.

So I guess I embrace the struggles and let God do his work in me; ask for his help to learn what I need to learn; let the rough stuff take off my sharp edges (OK, easier said than done but, as with the butterfly, perseverance is the key)

Then hopefully one day I'll get to emerge as a Butterfly.
04 June 2009

The Queen of Procrastination

I have a to-do list... somewhere. Problem is it's not written down. It's filed in my messy brain. Things keep getting lost in there. Like phone numbers, dates and appointments.

Hanging over me are a couple of things that I have been putting off for about a month now! Who knows why??

I was at a coffee group the other day, with a great bunch of girls who I can be totally honest with. We were all fessing up to the things that make us freak out/panic/get anxious (have you got all night??!!)

So I told them about my procrastination issue. All three things involved using the phone... to make a specialist appointment, to book a hall, to arrange a holiday with a friend. Random things. Why do I procrastinate, it's really not good for my blood pressure or my peace of mind!?!?

These friends came up with a bunch of suggestions to jolt me out of my procrastinating ways. One suggested penalties or rewards (been there, done that... it only increases my guilt); another offered to txt me every day to remind me (could get expensive?); finally a Gem of a suggestion: Why don't I confess to my procrastination on my blog... and then have to report back in a week!? That'd work! Brilliant!

Problem is, that was a week and a half ago, and here I am finally getting around to it! I know, I am the Queen of Procrastination.

But also today I managed to tick some things off my mental list: I booked the hall, I made the specialist appointment and I printed out a calendar to stick on the fridge so I can write all my appointments down (so I won't forget them, like last week). It's a Google calendar. You can input stuff and then print it, you can do it weekly, monthly, whatever. Mr G was impressed.

So now there's just one more thing on my to-do list. I have to ring my long-suffering friend in the UK. If she's still talking to me, that is!!

(Maya forgive me, I can't seem to to get the time zones figured out... give me a day and time to call!)
03 June 2009


There's nothing like a bit of Girl Bonding. It doesn't happen that often, mind you. It seems there are lots of sporting events for daddies to take their boys to, but not so many things for mummies and daughters. So when my friend Karen rang and suggested we take our girls to see Disney Princesses on Ice, I thought, Why Not?

We planned to have a nice mother-daughter lunch, or even High Tea before the show... but that was before my brain forgot days and dates and there was, of course, the Dawn Dash to get back to Auckland in time, which meant no time for fancy lunches. Barely time to slap on some war paint and change my shoes.

But we made it! And off we went, two little girls giggling in the back seat of the car, oh-so-excited.

And why wouldn't you be?? Disney on Ice is magical, for girls of all ages. I think us mummies enjoyed it as much as our girls did. And we were surprised how many 20-somethings were there, without even a borrowed neice to justify their attendance.

The set is clever, the skating inspired (apart from poor Aladdin who landed on his bottom a few times). It is a mix of all the Disney princess movies... all the best songs, all the favourite characters, joined together with leaps and twirls and fabulous costumes.

I had to keep turning to look at my princess's face: big eyes, mouth dropped open in awe, with a sound track of "Oooohhh!", "Ahhhh!" and "Wow!!!" followed by frenzied clapping as yet another wonderful leap or impossible landing is beheld. Fascinating.

At intermission, I overhear her friend Ruby say to her: "Isn't it wonderful???!!" A warm fuzzy gladness spreads through me. I am glad we spent an extra $15 each on better seats. It was worth it.
Then comes the finale... Cinderella in a sparkling coach, every Prince and Princess out on the ice together, spinning and leaping, and a great crescendo with fireworks. It is over. We all cheer and clap... then the princesses skate towards the front row of seats, waving and shaking hands with those lucky little girls...

Princess leaps from her seat and begins to run down the stairs: "I want to shake hands with the princesses too!" she exclaims as she runs. I see the locked gate, and disaster ahead...

Come back! Honey you can't go down there! I call over the hubbub.

She turns, and I see that bottom lip drop. Why can't she shake hands with the princesses??? Those other girls can, Why not her???

My brain scrambles for an answer...

"I think those children are from the hospital... they are sick, that's why they have special seats... (Well, it could be true? They might be sick kids... better to think that than they are rich brats whose daddies paid hundreds of bucks that us peasants couldn't stretch to??)

She starts to cry. Of course she starts to cry.

Around me other mothers meet my eye and nod in sympathy; I overhear someone else telling their daughter the same yarn... (hey we don't know, it could be true, right??)

Come on, I encourage my deflated daughter, let's think about how you got to see this amazing show, not about one little thing you couldn't have, OK?

Around me again, those sympathetic nods and smiles, as other mothers wrangle their princesses away from the $22 plastic tiaras (that can be had for $2 at the mall) and other (vastly overpriced) Princess paraphernalia.

Ahhhh yes, but still, a fabulous outing, a magical show, tears are dried and once again my Princess skips along (apparently skipping is an indicator of happiness??)

And off we go to a cafe with our special friends for a fluffy and a cake. Lovely.