30 December 2010

Forget Resolutions, I'm Writing My Bucket List

I have learnt over a period of many many many years (and failed attempts) that I should not even bother thinking up any New Years Resolutions, let alone writing them down. Like, don't even waste the paper and ink. Complete waste of time.

If I was writing resolutions I would have a very worthy list. It might look something like this...
  • Eat my 5+ a Day
  • Lose about 15 kilos
  • Spend more time exercising and less time blogging...
  • Spend more time playing with the kids and less time blogging...

But I know it's a waste of time even going there, making a list.

I simply won't follow through. I am the Queen of Procrastination and completely lack the willpower/motivation/stickability to complete my list.

So I'm not writing one of those.


I have thought for a long time about writing a Bucket List.

You know, a list of things you want to accomplish/places you want to visit before you kick the bucket.

I have just a few things to start with. But as time goes by I am going to come back and add to this list. And when I have done something off my list, I will cross it off. See, with a Bucket List you have a whole lifetime to accomplish it. So that's not quite so daunting. It's a wish list, a bunch of goals and dreams, things hoped for, as yet unseen...

  • Visit Ireland (DONE: October 2011)
  • Return to Ireland, stay longer, explore further (find my roots)
  • Visit New York at Christmastime
  • Visit all the beautiful historic cities of Europe... Prague, Budapest, Paris, Frankfurt...
  • Let my kids experience a white Christmas, build a snowman with them
  • Take my kids to Disneyland LA (like we dreamed of when we were on honeymoon)
  • Visit Switzerland (and meet up with Remaliah)
  • Meet my favourite foreign Bloggy friends: Laura, Maxabella, Meredy, Cat
  • Write for Parenting Magazine (DONE: December 2010)
  • Get my Kids Christmas Story published
  • Write a Novel and Get published!
  • Write another book. And another book... and another book... have so many ideas that the books just keep coming...
  • Earn enough money from writing that it doesn't matter where in the world we live

  • Buy a little cottage right by the sea and retire there when the kids have left home
  • Fill my cottage with flowers and books and paintings done by me; visiting friends, seashells and sunshine
  • A place with space for our grandchildren to come and climb trees
  • Begin each day with a walk on the beach and a swim in the sea
  • End each day with a glass of wine, a sunset and conversation with my best friend
To sum up... I want to travel, write and have an idyllic seaside life in my old age. I'll let you know how that turns out, OK?

What's on your bucket list?? Are you writing any New Years Resolutions?
29 December 2010

Good Mother...? Bad Mother...?

Some days I watch my kids and just for a moment, I feel a warm glow, a sense of, "I am doing a good job..."

Like today.
I took the kids through the drive-thru for lunchtime McD's (hey I aint no nutritional saint) and we headed to a local playground.

I slip-slop-slapped them very diligently and then stood and watched them play and interact with others.

This particular park has a push-train mounted on a concrete rail. Kids can cling to it from all sides and one or two lucky ones get to push...

Somehow my two big kids become the train-pushers. They plonked their little brother in the drivers seat and whizzed him around the track. More kids wanted a turn. I watched with a sense of pride as they slowed the train and enquired, "Do you want a turn??" and diplomatically found a place for the kids standing waiting.

I think my mother-pride would have been visible from outer space as I watched them; I fairly glowed with it.

Then disaster... as if from nowhere I spotted a tiny toddler leaning with both his wee hands on the concrete track... the train was nearly upon him but the train-pusher couldn't see him at all...

"Stop!" I tried to call.
"Stop!" other voices echoed.
"STOOOPPPP!!!" I shrieked as I ran...

Just in the nick of time the thundering engine ground to a halt and the little lad's fingers were pulled away by a man standing closer than I was.
It was sickening how close he came to losing his hands.

Then up strolled his calm smiling mother, not bothered at all... "Come on little one," she said cheerfully, without seeming to care how close her kid just came to being a double amputee; not noticing the horror on the faces of all those who witnessed the near-accident. Oh I was so tempted to judge right then.

I mean if that had been my kid, I would have been shaking and in tears, not laughing. But that's just me. And I am trying really really hard not to judge. Oh who am I kidding? I was totally judging her.

So full of my glowy pride-in-my-cooperative-offspring and their lovely playground manners...
So tempted to sit on my pride in the jury box on this mother who came so close to disaster and didn't seem to care...

But I am the LAST person who can sit in judgement on another mother. She who is without sin cast the first stone, right?
Because I have my days, oh yes I do.
Just ask anyone who has had to live with me for longer than a bank-holiday weekend.

Some days, like today, I have a glimpse of the good stuff inside my kids. Stuff I can be proud of and take credit for.

When my kids go away from home, all I get are glowing reports of nice manners and respectful behaviour. I may not always reap the benefits myself, but they do me proud out in the wider world.

But other days when they are scrappy and argumentative, cheeky and ill-mannered... that's my responsibility too. On those days it's so easy to feel like a bad mother.

My husband reminds me, "Don't listen to those negative voices..." but it's so hard not to, right?

I admit it, I tend towards the lazy side of life. If there's a chance for procrastination, I'll probably take it. If I can find an easier way or a simpler recipe, it will become my new modus operandi.

Yes, I like to blog. Yes, I love to read. Of course I'd rather watch a movie than dust or iron! And I tend to get a bit lost in what I'm doing... a bit pre-occupied, a little absentminded and forgetful... and too many some days my kids watch too much TV...

Yes I get frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, grumpy and growly... I have days when tripping over a shoe lying in the hallway is the straw that broke the camel's back.

I have days when noise overwhelms me and I have to hide in my room. I have days when I cry for no reason at all, where I am overly sensitive and easily upset.

Yep, some days it sucks to be my kid. Some days it sucks to be me. Depression sucks. Who needs it? Man, I would snap out of it if I could.

But does that mean I am a bad mother? Are they malnourished? Uncared for? Do my kids feel unloved?
Gosh no.

If they did, why do they leap into my bed every morning and wrap their little bods around me? Why does my two-year-old smother me with kisses and say "You da best mum!"?? Why is he the happiest most content little guy on Planet Earth if I am doing such a bad job? Why does my eight-year-old boy confide in me and have in-depth conversations about the deeper things in life? Why does my little girl say that she is going to have a house right around the corner from me when she grows up so she can visit me all the time?

This is what I need to remind myself.
So here I am reminding myself.
I am not a bad mother.
I am not a perfect mother either.
But my kids are healthy, happy and know they are loved. They have confidence, they are well liked and they know how to laugh.

I am doing OK.
In spite of everything.

PS: Photos taken at the same park but on a different day: Coyle Park Pt Chevalier, a lovely beach side playground with a view of the harbour bridge :)

28 December 2010

Easy Delicious Addictive Eggnog

I always used to think the idea of eggnog sounded disgusting. Who wants to drink raw egg, right??

So what if it's a posh drink consumed by the aristocracy. I just couldn't get past the rawness of the egg.

But in my search for delicious traditional things to wow my British mother-in-law with, I decided to give eggnog a try this year and began to google search for a recipe. Something simple. And easy. With the ingredients I could muster.

This is the recipe I share with you now, as modified by me.
The recipe for eggnog that has me dreaming of more.
The recipe for eggnog that has all-comers licking their lips and proclaiming: We love it! Raw egg be dashed!

It's so easy. And oh so delicious... Like a creamy spicy milkshake...

4 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy or rum (I used Baileys)

Put all the Ingredients in a blender and whiz until mixed and creamy.
Pour into glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Serve to any rellies you want to impress.
Mmmmmmmm.... yummo!

{serves four people; add an extra egg per person, plus proportionally extra milk/cream liquor etc to serve more guests}

This is traditionally drunk at Christmas but I think I'll be serving it up on New Years Eve as well!

Guess What I Got for Christmas...???!!

Jingle bells Jingle bellssssss... I got a fancy camera on Christmas morning...! Hallelujah!!

I spent the day figuring out how to use it...
Enjoying aperture priority, shutter speed priority and the ability to set the ISO speed!
I think I have figured out the basics... but my freind Meg might be able to help me fine tune things...

In the meantime here are a few of my snaps...

Talking to England on the phone. Nice light huh??

I like this one. Nice and close.

The Christmas Table under the grape vine... now how do I make the background blurry???

Mmmmm Sangria, my specialty drink. I also perfected the art of Egg Nog and Pina Coladas. Anyone want to come over and try one? Check out my shiny silver goblets. I spent two hours polishing them.

I even ironed the tablecloth. And the serviettes. Which were tied up with silver ribbon. We were very posh. (Loved that Jacobs Creek Summer Moscato, mmmm, bubbles...)

Awwww. Hugs for Grandma. I really want to figure out how to blur that darn background!
Nice. This one's better.
Here's a cheeky face worth photographing. This guy stayed in his new Christmas PJ's all day.
I just can't resist a cheeky face. And is that a blurry background I see before me?? Nearly.
Eeek. Macro'd just a bit too much. Mr G is looking a bit rough here. Nice smile tho.
Look at my super zoom macro! A teensy ladybug on our damask tablecloth. The detail!

Ooh and look! I was laying on the outdoor couch and I zoomed right in on the grapevine leaves... in the blurry background?? A Pohutukawa, our New Zealand Christmas Tree... just a little bit arty, aye?

What better way to spend Christmas afternoon than on top of your bunk bed with the neighbours building Lego...??
Or playing with your new Roary the racing car on your last year's parking garage..?
Or applying your Christmas stocking makeup...?
Why practising your photo-taking on your new Christmas camera of course!
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.
24 December 2010

Oh Go On Then... Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Me...


Merry Christmas from Dash...

Merry Christmas from Granny...

Merry Christmas from Miss Fab...

Merry Christmas from Mr G Dawg

And Merry Christmas from Super Scrag.


We hope you have a wonderful Merry Christmas wherever you are in the world.
However you celebrate.
Whatever you eat.
We hope that the Spirit of Christmas will be alive in your hearts.

(Photos from our Angel Wing hunt for the City Mission Yesterday)

Warmest Christmas Wishes to You all from Team G!
(and check out our Elf-Yourself clip for a giggle)

23 December 2010

Trying Too Hard

I've been gritting my teeth, determined that this week shall be filled with Christmas Spirit.
I wrote a list (I checked it twice).
The plan filled our days with Christmas activities, including plenty of focus on giving.
Watch the Nativity Movie.
Choose gifts for the poor kids in Africa from the Smiles catalogue.

Catch the train into the City and visit Santa in the Enchanted Forest.
Go to the giant telecom Tree, phone Santa, walk to see the Christmas lights on Franklin Road.

Gather up unneeded items from home and donate to the City Mission.
Do a photo-hunt for Angel Wings around the city - each photo posted on the City Mission's FB wall gives them $5 from their sponsor.
Make a gift box for our neighbour who recently lost her sister.

Finish off with our traditional Polar Express Movie Night complete with hot chocolate and popcorn.
{somehow fit in all the other Christmas Prep. Food. Present wrapping. All that mundane stuff.}

After a couple of days of thwarted plans, whinging and complaining kids, I was seriously asking myself: Why did I bother??

The Nativity Movie was of course way too slow moving for my kids. We gave up not very far into it after having to pause it so many times to shush them. When they were finally in bed and we'd pushed play once more, Mr G got a phone call and went off to answer it only returning as the credits rolled. Suckage. I really wanted to focus on the reason for the season.

The visit to Santa involved a one-hour wait in a long hot line of wriggling kids and tired adults. Only to have Scrag refuse point blank to go anywhere near Santa, as he pressed himself wailing into a corner and trembled with fear.

The Christmas lights were also a bust. "I'm tired!" "My legs are going to break!" "Why couldn't we just take the car??!!?" "I'm leaving this family!" (because we are so mean making him walk and forcing Christmas cheer upon him). Grrrr.

By yesterday morning I had all-but given up.

"What are we doing today, mum??" they all wanted to know. "Where are we going??"
Nowhere. We are going nowhere. Staying home. Postponing the angel wing photo hunt. Postponing the Polar Express night.

We cleaned up and sorted out things to give away instead. Miss Fab helped me sort through her stuff and clean her room in readiness for Christmas. Then I attacked the linen cupboard and the boys room. We collected quite a haul to take to the Mission. Nice clothes, outgrown. Duvet sets and cot bedding, no longer needed. Books, toys. And a gift each wrapped for "the poor children" by Miss Fab, labelled by her "to a boy from our famuly" "to a girl from our famuly".

Later we rode bikes to the park. Then put up the paddling pool and the kids splashed around.
An early night tonight, I reminded everyone.

Miss Fab wanted to wrap more pressies. We had been shopping for gifts for her to give. She wrapped each one thoughtfully and carefully. I sat there watching her and holding the sellotape, thinking, this is what I love. Seeing her enjoy giving.

Later I began wrapping my mountain of pressies while Christmas music played. Dash crept in and said, "Watcha doin'?"

I invited him to help me. We sat on my bed, wrapping gifts and he asked me about Christmas when I was kid. What was my favourite thing? What kind of things did I get for Christmas then? What did I hope to get this year?

"You just wait mum, I think you're gonna love it!" he said, referring to the gift he has picked out for me.

Today we will go to the Mission, take our pile of donations and hunt for some angel wings.
In a more relaxed fashion.
Because as I have discovered (the hard way), it's the little things. The simple things. Wrapping a gift together. Cleaning up rooms together.

So here's to a relaxed happy and un-try-hard Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you and all your family from me and mine.

God Bless and I hope at some point you do get a warm fuzzy moment where you capture the Spirit of what Christmas is all about.