31 July 2012

Giving a Damn

Guess what?
I don't need you to fix my problems - I just need to know you care.
When I'm struggling, I don't expect you to have the answers - all I need is to know that you give a damn.

These are some of the revelatory thoughts that have been swimming around my brain lately.

The nice thing I've realised about this, is that the same is probably true for you.
If you're struggling, you don't need me to have the answers either - you just need to know that I give a damn.

This is very freeing for me.
Because sometimes when I notice friends struggling, or hear of someone going through pain, I feel powerless,  frozen into immobility by the hugeness of their grief or loss.

What should I say? What if I say the wrong thing?
I've never lost a child/parent/partner, been divorced or had a miscarriage so how can I relate?

Worrying over doing or saying the wrong thing in the face of someone's infinite pain can be extremely paralyzing.
I want to help, but how?

Now I know.
I don't need the answers (there probably aren't any this side of Heaven)...
I don't need the right words (nothing anyone says could take the pain away)...
I don't even need to have gone through the same thing (I've had my own pain so I can draw on that)...

I just need to let them know that I care.
I DO give a damn.

Now, how can I show it?
I can only go by what works for me.
It's the little things, simply being remembered and thought of can be such a powerful thing.

We know life goes on for those around us.
We are stuck, washed into the swamps of grief, not moving forward, while our friends are swept along in the tide of busyness and endless doing as we once were, before pain sidelined us.
So when a friend, busy as they are, takes time to remember us... it means so much.

Things that loving friends have done for me at times when I've been struggling include...
  • a card in the post
  • goodies in my mailbox
  • an invitation to coffee
  • dropping by to just say hi
  • dropping by to do my housework
  • a phone call to say "how ya doin?"
  • a meal dropped off
  • a heartfelt encouraging email
  • a txt that just says "thinking of you"
Practical things, each one like a big warm hug that tells me "YOU MATTER".

Taking inspiration from this, I can let these be some of the ways I can show others that I give a damn.
That although life does sweep inexorably on, it does not go on without them for me.

I've written this as a challenge to myself. Anyone else who wants to take up the challenge, please feel free.

Remember what Jesus said:
"By this shall people know you are my followers: that you have LOVE for each other."
Not great music, not awesome preachers, not exciting outreach programmes or a happening youth group. These mean next-to-nothing. The only thing that matters is


Showing people that they matter. They are not forgotten, alone or abandoned in their time of difficulty. 
And we DO give a damn.


P.S. For those new to my blog, my own personal journey through pain has been a long battle with depression and anxiety, as a result of burn-out doing youth work. This year I have turned a corner, found an amazing counselor and I'm starting to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Of course this is not without its moments. The past two days have been a blast from the past which is why I've been thinking along these lines. I am also hugely inspired by SophieSlim's Love Bombs as one way of showing those who are struggling that they are not forgotten.
30 July 2012

Best in Blog *Lite* (Link up here)

Source: flickr.com via Angelina on Pinterest

Brrrrr. As I write this it's a stormy Sunday evening in rain swept Auckland.
(What, you don't think I am organised enough to be up at six a.m. blogging on a Monday morning, do you? Post scheduling, people. It's a beautiful thing.)

As I was saying. Rainy. Windy. Stormy.
Hubby is in by the fire, chilling in the easy-chair, watching TV.
I'm hunched over the computer wishing I was in there. On the couch, cosied up under my tartan lap rug.

So let's make this brief.

"Best of Me"
Well last week I launched Saturday Night at the Movies (in conjunction with Fatso. Have you signed up for your free trial yet? Come on, I want them to LOVE me!)
Next please.

Oh Yeah, Mrs Readalot finally posted her Book Review and I'm holding a Giveaway (or at least Mrs Readalot is). Hey, you need to leave me a comment on this post to win a free book of your choice...

Oh dear I am really reading like a used car salesperson this evening morning.
Don't worry I'm not going all commercial on you.

Actually Saturday was my baby girl's eighth birthday. Somehow she ended up with two celebrations, since her party was earlier in the month, the lucky girl. She got spoilt rotten. Except she's not really rotten (rather sweet actually).

"Best of You"
Here's my favourite posts from the past two weeks' linkies...

So there you go.
Now I'm off to the couch by the fire. *BLISS*

Source: Uploaded by user via Citybase on Pinterest

 How to join in with my "Best in Blog" linky.
The "Best in Blog" Linky opens at 7am every Monday (NZ time*) and closes midnight Friday.
You don't have to write a special post, or take a photo on a theme or anything that requires extra work...
All you have to do is pick your favourite post from the past week (the one you are most proud of) and share it with us. I will feature my favourites on next week's Best in Blog.

Just one thing you need to do before you link up... Can you please dress your post with this pretty button I've made so your readers can find our linky too?

Best in Blog Linky

Thankyou kindly!

(Oh, and please leave us a comment telling us why you picked this one... even if it was because it was your only one, hahaha!)

*For some of you US readers, that will be sometime on Sunday!
28 July 2012

Movie Night: SpongeBob Squarepants

Welcome to our very first 
Saturday Night at the Movies 
Family Movie Reviews for Fun Nights In

Every Saturday we will be sharing with you our ideas for family movie nights. Movie reviews and fun theme night ideas.

Meet Our Super-Cool-Fab Review Team...

Our crack team of expert Movie Reviewers has unanimously chosen to review The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. No matter how hard their mother tried to persuade them to write about something less annoying a different movie, our expert were adamant. It had to be SpongeBob.

It should be noted that all our reviewers were all able to quote large chunks of the movie off by heart; they sing the Goofy Goober song around the house almost daily and watched it during the holidays at least ten times. What can I say? They think SpongeBob is hilarious. They are kids.

Movie Plot Summary: Plankton is up to his usual tricks, and SpongeBob misses out on a promotion. It's like the TV show only longer and with more silly songs.
Starring SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr Krabs, Plankton and King Neptune..

[Released in 2004]

Here's what our experts have to say about The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie...

Dash. B. Cool: "It was funny, bro. I think the cartoon shows are better than the movie but it was still cool bro; che-che bro. It was meanage because I think everyone can enjoy it and my opinion is that some grown ups could enjoy the movie if they are cool enough (fun grown ups that like kids stuff)."

Dash scores this movie's "coolness" as: 

Foxy Fab: "I liked this movie because it was cool and funny. I think fun people will like this movie. All kids will like this movie, if they are girls or boys, big or little. Maybe some grown-ups might like it, but only if they are fun, I think."

Foxy rates this movie's "fabness" as: 

Super Scrag: "You should watch this movie cos 'Shell City here we come!' I love that part. And "O man PLANKTON..." where they walk like zombies. It's cool. I think all my friends will like this movie. I watched it this many [holds up ten fingers]. This movie is my favourite and I love the Thunderbirds too."

SuperScrag scores this movie's "super-ness" as: 


OK, I have to admit that I secretly don't mind SpongeBob. It's silly, harmless and (although annoying at times) can be a good laugh... or at least a snigger.

Although this wouldn't be my first choice for a family movie night, it appeals across all the ages in my family, and that has to be a good thing. This was one movie they could all agree to watch when they were bored.

[the PaisleyJade Family Pink & Yellow SpongeBob night]

Idea to Make Your SpongeBob Movie Night Even More Super-Cool-Fab:
Take your movie night to a whole new level of fun with a Pink and Yellow theme like PaisleyJade's Family did. PaisleyJade says: "Heaps of fun was had by all - Hubby wore my pink pyjama pants (much to the children's delight) and we enjoyed pink and yellow food and drink (ham rolls, corn, chips, yams, banana milk, lemon jelly etc.) and finished off the night with watching Spongebob (after all, Spongebob and Patrick are the best pink and yellow guys out there!).

What are your best Movie Night Ideas? Send me an email with your ideas (include a picture or link to a blog post if you can) so I can feature it here on Saturday Night at the Movies.

Have a great Saturday!
27 July 2012

Loving Her at Eight

Birthdays seem to come around so fast these days.
Wasn't it just a couple of months ago that I was planning a Fairy Party for my girl's fourth birthday?
No. That was half her life ago. Now she's Eight.

I can't get the years back, but thanks to blogging and endless photo taking, 
I've managed to catch some moments as they've breezed past, 

This is a Birthday Post for my Girl. The only girl I'll ever have.
As I whispered in her ear when I said bedtime prayers last night,
"Thankyou God, that out of all the girls in the world i got the best one..."

I wouldn't swap her or change a thing about her.
As time passes, I'm coming to understand her better.
How we are similar and how we are different.
I love to take her out for coffee, or walk with her holding hands.
I love that she still likes to hold my hand even though she doesn't need to anymore.

I enjoy her energy and spirit and admire her fiery boldness.
I am in awe of her strength, both inward and outward.
How she stands up to bullies and gives it all on the sports field.
I love her gentleness with little ones and animals; her tender heart and nurturing instinct.
Her mix of strong and soft, loud and sweet gives me goosebumps.
She is truly fearfully and wonderfully made.*

So Happy Birthday Darling Girl.
Eight Years Old and more beautiful with every passing day.

Love Always from 




*From Psalm 139
26 July 2012

I Heart Movies (and Fatso)

Three things you should know about me.
  1. I am very forgetful (your secrets are safe with me; I'll have forgotten by tomorrow)
  2. I'm a terrible procrastinator (better late than never is my motto)
  3. I love watching movies
Unfortunately the combination of these three traits has led in the past to some rather hefty fines at the video rental shop.

Of course I'd seen the witty ads for Fatso before, promising No late Fees Ever...

...it sounded interesting, but wasn't enough to convince me to sign up (remember, I procrastinate).

Then just before the school holidays I spotted a One Month Free Trial offer on my Online Shopping website (yes, I am also lazy). The promise of a month's worth of free DVD's and No Late Fees was too good to pass up so I clicked the button (I can also be impulsive) and signed up for  Fatso.

A couple of days went by and I realised that all the DVD's I'd chosen for my Queue were super popular and I worried that I might be waiting a while (I can be rather impatient). Then I noticed a little label called "Get Now" on some movies. Ahhhhh, there we go, let's pick those ones. All I had to do was click on the movie displaying the "GN" (for Get Now) and it was sent out to me the same day.

Much excitement when we got our first envelope from Fatso, containing three DVD's.
The kids were happy. I was happy. Movie nights abounded.
Fatso even sent a couple of Postage-Paid envelopes for me to return the DVD's in when we were ready. It was so easy (and did I mention FREE?).

When the kids had watched the movies enough times I popped them in the envelope provided and dropped them in the post box. Then we picked some more movies, which arrived the next day. Too easy.

I started raving to my friends about  Fatso, feeling so clever for having free Movies to watch for the holidays, with all those impromptu movie nights and sleepovers.

Then I thought, I could totally blog about this. My readers would love this deal.
So I did something I've never done before. I googled  Fatso's PR company and put a proposal to them: Can you please offer my readers the same deal I got to try?

Emails flew back and forth, and within a few days we had worked out an exciting way for me and Fatso  to work together.

PLUS I get to offer you, my sweet readers, a Month Free Trial on the Super Plan (worth $28.99/month) by entering this Magic Code when you sign up for your trial:


The Super Plan gives you 10 DVD's per month, sent to you three at a time. If you hate it (which I doubt) or you think it won't work for you (which I also doubt) you can cancel at any time.

The more I learn about  Fatso the more reasons I find to love them...
  • they have just reached a whopping 30 000 titles in their DVD and Blu Ray library
  • there are almost 3000 titles under the Children/Family genre
  • no late fees, ever
  • it's a perfect scheme for families with little kids or in rural areas where getting to the DVD store and back can be just not worth the hassle
  • They have stacks of movies that are hard to find in Video stores, like the old Classics
  • They have new releases as well - and it's no extra to watch them
  • They don't only rent movie DVDs, but also have TV series and even Playstation games 
(plus their PR people are really really nice and they love my blog - bonus! )

We've come up with a really fun way for us to work together. From now on every Saturday on Greatfun4kids will be...

Saturday Night at the Movies 
Family Movie Reviews for Fun Nights In

I have managed to put together a team of crack Movie Reviewers, experts in their field...

Dash. B. Cool: An expert in all things cool, hip and happening. If a movie is a dud, lame or boring Dash.B.Cool will let you know. Dash.B.Cool represents our tween viewers.

He will score a movie's "coolness" out of five hearts:

Foxy Fab: Specialising in movies that girls love, Foxy Fab will add that vital female perspective. If it's stylish, funny, lovey dovey or simply fab, Foxy will tell us. Foxy represents our girlie viewers.

She will score a movie's "fabness" out of five hearts: 

Super Scrag: Our specialist in the Action Genre, Super Scrag favours movies full of laughs, stunts and fast cars. But he's not a one-trick Movie Review Guy - he also likes movies about heroes who have super powers. Super Scrag represents our younger viewers.

He will score a movie's "super-ness" out of five hearts: 

Find all the Movie Reviews and Theme Night tips on our Brand New Movie Nights Index Page. The fun starts this Saturday. But you don't have to wait until then to sign up for your free Fatso Trial... I hope you'll click through and give it a go - I honestly believe you will love it as much as I do.

Psssst... don't you think this is cool?

P.S. Offer open to NZ readers only sorry :(

25 July 2012

WW: The Best Things in Life are Free


Biggest Loser came to New Zealand last year. They brought the whole bunch of contestants and trainers DownUnder to Kiwi Land. Then they took them up the Sky Tower and told them to jump off. 
(If you're not a Biggest Loser fan this will slide right on over your head as completely meh).

Bob was here. Up the Sky Tower. In my town.
(If I was on Biggest Loser, I would want Bob as my trainer. In our house we are Bob's people.)
(Sorry I know this information is way old, but we get shows very late here in little ole NZ)


...on Saturday we went up the Sky Tower too.
The kids had been saving up their stickers and (after watching Biggest Loser) picked the Sky Tower as their family prize destination.

It's not cheap. But the view is great.

So here we are in the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Pointing out landmarks. Looking for our house. Standing on a glass floor...

It took about twenty minutes for the whingeing to start.
"I'm hungry."
"I'm thirsty."
"Why can't we jump off the tower too?"
"Is this the highest bit?"
"When are we going?"
"Can we gooooo noooow???"

A guy jumped. It distracted them for about three minutes.

We gave up trying to stretch out our stay and took the elevator back to the ground, shaking our heads.
Bought pies, went to the park. For free.

Of course they loved it and didn't want to leave.
Just goes to show. Some things can't be bought.

And the best things in life are still free.

24 July 2012

Mrs Readalot Reads a Classic and Holds a Giveaway

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

It's a pretty old book, this one. Published in 1948 just after the war and just before Apartheid was implemented, Cry the Beloved Country is a book about South Africa that stirred people all over the world. 

The book inspired two major movies as well as stage shows, musicals... and countless social justice reformers.
It was a huge success around the world, selling over 15 million copies. The book is a story, yes, but it's more than that. Within its pages are revolutionary ideas which seem normal and obvious to us nowadays, but when the book was first written, they were dangerous and provocative.

Mrs Readalot was blessed to win her copy from this month's Book Club host, Meghan from MNM's. A lucky thing indeed, because the library copies are still all out - a measure of this book's enduring popularity.

[From the 1995 movie starring James Earl Jones]

Cry the Beloved Country is not an easy read. It's not.
I did not look forward to curling up in bed with this book at the end of a stressful day, it did not transport me to a magical world far away from the cares of the world.
Rather, it shoved pain and grief and humanity into my face and made me think, made me feel.
At times I didn't want to read any further. I dreaded turning the page and finding that the worst had happened.

I was reminded of another revolutionary classic, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which I read many years ago. That book was instrumental in changing opinions in 1800's America about the lives of slaves and is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause.

Cry the Beloved Country is very similar to Uncle Tom's Cabin in that it created waves, it divided opinions and revealed injustice in such a way that people could not ignore it. You can't read these books and not be moved and challenged.

This quote from which the title came, sums it up:

"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear."
[Alan Paton]
Of course with the exit of Apartheid from South Africa in the 1990's this books is far less dangerous and controversial than what it would have been sixty years go when it was written. Right on the cusp of the birth of that evil system, the author wrote his book with an almost Biblical authority and insight (he was a dedicated Christian and his faith in the face of human suffering is a powerful theme of the book).

Alan Paton's life is an interesting read (on Wikipedia). He was not just a provocative writer but he lived out his ideals and tried to do something about the inequality he saw.

I wouldn't say that this book was enjoyable, but it was powerful. And memorable. It deserves it's status as one of the true Classics that have helped shape our world for the better. I'm glad I read it (and I think I might have to see the movie too).

Mrs Readalot gives Cry the Beloved Country:


Mrs Readalot wants to give you a book. Not just any book - but the book of your choice. Got a novel on your reading wishlist? A book you've been waiting for at the library but the waitlist is six years long?
Well, Mrs Readalot wants to buy it for you.

There's just a couple of things you'll need to do.
  1. Leave Mrs Readalot a comment on the bottom of this post telling her which book (novel, biography or non-fiction) you'd really love to own and you'll get one entry into the draw.
  2. Link up a book review to the Bookclub Linky over at Stacey's Place  (open until August 31) and get another entry into the draw. 
A name will be drawn out on September 1st*, and you will be notified by email. Mrs Readalot will ask you for your postal details and order the book from Book Depository for you the very same day.
So get commenting, reading and linking to Win a Book.

If you are a keen reader, we'd love you to join in.
How it works:
  • Book Club members take turns choosing a Book of the Month (or theme) and hosting the linky
  • You can choose to read and review either the Book of the Month or a book of your choice
  • Anyone can join in the linky fun - you don't have to be a signed up member
  • Members are kept up to date via email, so nobody misses their chance to link up or host
  • Linkies go up on the host's blog at the beginning of the month and remain open all month 
  • If you're linking up, grab the button...
  • Mrs Readalots bloggy Bookclub

August  Bookclub (linky open until August 31st)
Stacey over at Dear Future Me is hosting and has come up with a great idea for Bookclub - rather than choosing a specific book, Stacey has picked a theme: "Books that Make You Want to Travel"

Stacey explains...
"As I'm currently in England for a couple of years, travelling, I want my Bookclub Theme to be books that make you want to travel or help you feel close to a country (similar to what Meghan has said about 'Cry the beloved country' and how that made her feel about South Africa.) There are other books like 'The Kite Runner', 'The Bronze Horseman' 'The Help' etc that have that same effect... Fiction or non-fiction books that draw you in to a country and particularly to its history and culture."

So for August please share with us a book (or books) that make you want to visit a country, or which capture the essence of a place for you

(and don't forget to leave Mrs Readalot a comment with your Book Choice, so you can Win a Book)
23 July 2012

Aaaargghhh! It's Monday already! (Best in Blog Linky)

I have a camera full of photos from the weekend and a head full of witty stories, but no time to share any of them right now.
In between cooking a roast meal, hosting guests for lunch and washing endless dishes, I spent all day Sunday creating a Recipe Book on Snapfish for my daughter's birthday. Each page created in Photoshop and uploaded. It's a beautiful book, if I do say so myself.

Nothing says I love you like a Homemade gift, I reckon.
Time + Effort = Love.

I don't crochet, or sew.
A recipe book shall be my offering.
Full of photos of friends and baking days, plus the favourite recipes we make together.

So when I tell you that I have run out of time to visit and comment on all the links from last week's linky, you will forgive me won't you?
I will get to it, I promise.
And NEXT week, we'll have a double list of favs, OK?

It's just that my butt is numb and my shoulders are cramping and I still need to do the online shopping.
PLUS there's a book on my nightstand crying out to be finished. (A book I won, thanks to the lovely Meghan from MNM's, this month's Bookclub host).
Mrs Readalot is waaaaay behind when it comes to this month's BookClub.

I am just so lucky to have such understanding readers. Blessed indeed.

Right, so here's the linky details and how to join in.
I promise I will do better this week and not leave it to the last minute to come visiting...

 How to join in with my "Best in Blog" linky.
The "Best in Blog" Linky opens at 7am every Monday (NZ time*) and closes midnight Friday.
You don't have to write a special post, or take a photo on a theme or anything that requires extra work...
All you have to do is pick your favourite post from the past week (the one you are most proud of) and share it with us. I will feature my favourites on next week's Best in Blog.

Just one thing you need to do before you link up... Can you please dress your post with this pretty button I've made so your readers can find our linky too?

Best in Blog Linky

Thankyou kindly!

(Oh, and please leave us a comment telling us why you picked this one... even if it was because it was your only one, hahaha!)

*For some of you US readers, that will be sometime on Sunday!