31 May 2013

Always Grateful on a Friday

I'm always grateful on a Friday, you know that about me. What's not to love about Friday, right?
But today, after three days of focusing on the good stuff I am feeling even more grateful than usual. Like, gratitude is overflowing. It's almost embarrassing the way my emotions are so close to the surface. I read your blogs and well up. I sit in school assembly and nearly bubble.

It's a good thing.
I'm finding that once I start focusing on seeing the blessings in my life, I see them everywhere.
Things I have been taking for granted, I am beginning to appreciate more.
Read on and you'll see what I mean.
So Friday is always my favourite day, because it means the end of the week, the anticipation of the weekend, IceCream Friday, movie nights, and this week it's even a Long Weekend.
Therein lies the danger.
Whatever new habit I am trying to form, I usually get derailed during the weekend.
This time I am going to be grateful all weekend as well.
There may be nobody here reading (Saturdays are slow days for blog-reading; I know this) but i am still going to take 20 minutes to come by and WRITE.
It's might be *Grateful Lite*  but still.
I can't afford to skip a day. Not now. Not when I am just getting started.
So for now, here's today's bubbling gratefuls.

(I'll be back here tomorrow with more, whether anyone else is or not.)


I am grateful for Scrag getting a certificate in assembly today for "always working hard in all areas and lovely mat manners." Anyone who knows me knows that I was a bit anxious about how Scrag would go at school. Well, he's doing beautifully. Grateful much. This mama's heart sang, seeing him shaking hands with the Principal.

I am grateful every time I hear our National Anthem. Every time I go to assembly and hear our kids singing those words in Maori and English and Sign language, well I get all choked up. I almost sobbed this morning, but managed to hold it in. God of Nations at thy Feet... I love the words. It gets me every time.

I am grateful for our school. I love our school. It's amazing. We are so blessed. I am grateful to live where I live in this wonderful community, with this wonderful school. Feeling very "community" this morning.
I am grateful for Dash's teacher; he couldn't have gotten a better one. The way she manages him with such wisdom and sensitivity, it just makes all the difference. Such a difference this year. So so grateful for that, you have no idea.

I am grateful for the fantastic Mathletics website. That may sound like an odd thing to be grateful for, but this is like a total miracle the way Dash is engaging with it already. Just yesterday we took the step to fork out the hundred bucks for a year's licence. Already it's worth it. (Grateful we could also find the hundred bucks)

I am incredibly grateful my kids are born in this era of technology. Educationally it is such a blessing for kids who learn differently, who go "round the outside". I am just now beginning to appreciate this, and am feeling so so grateful.

I am grateful for coming to terms with some truths about myself. Like that fact that I am one of those people who "goes around the outside". I'm different. Finally acknowledging that there are some things I have always struggled with. Always. I am grateful for some new self-knowledge. It's a relief.

I am grateful for these words Jane got me to write on a card: "If going round the outside is how I do things, that's OK." It's OK. I'm different... and it's OK. You have no idea how good it feels, to say that to myself.
Finally I am grateful for blessings which come in the mail. Winning Sophie's Hello Lovely jewellery giveaway really gave me a boost; and when the package of these gorgeous earrings & pendant arrived, what should I also find but a voucher for a dinner out for me and my hubby. Thankyou Sophie. What a blessing you are.

What are you Grateful for today?
If you are joining in with us on Twitter and Instagram it is #thegratefulproject. I have been really encouraged by all the messages from people who are wanting to give this a go. And I am finding my whole outlook is more positive already - I'm so GRATEFUL Jane set me this homework.

29 May 2013

The Grateful Project

Today I'm starting a new project, both in my life and here on my blog.
A project to focus on goodness and all the things I am grateful for.

This is my homework, from Jane (my counsellor).
A project to replace old stories in my head with new ones.
A project to tell my soul that life is good - hard, yes - but Good. And WORTH LIVING.

I don't need to go into the details of why I need this right now, more than ever.
Suffice it to say that some of those bad-old thinking patterns have been exposed; those deeply held core beliefs in the very depths of my soul - the ones that make me constantly doubt myself and feel "less-than" and "not-enough". These are the stories I tell myself. The stories I have believed forever. These stories have to go.
And part of their destruction process? Gratitude.
Writing down, every day, the things I have to be grateful for.

So I have turned a little notebook into my Grateful Journal.
I began last night, and was surprised to find the gratitude flowing freely. Ten things, just like that (and this morning another nine... so many blessings when you stop and look).

I'm also going to dedicate the next two weeks to The Grateful Project, here on my blog.

It's another way of keeping myself focussed. Keeping myself on track. Keeping doing it.
You might want to join me, grab a notebook yourself and start a Grateful Journal of your own. Or blog about it, whatever.
I'm doing this for me, but join in if you need it too.
(Cos we all need this, at times, don't we? To remind ourselves of our blessings?)

So here I go. From the top of my head on a crispy Wednesday morning...


Grateful for seeing my boys hugging in the kitchen this morning. And hearing Dash say to Scrag: "I Love ya! Meet me at morning tea and lunch time, OK?" Really. I needed that. Warmed my heart. 

Grateful (so grateful) for my warm bed and extra blankets to keep out the cold (on the coldest night of the year).

Grateful I remembered Fingerknitting, last night, and taught it to Miss Fab in 30 seconds flat. (She was getting upset cos I couldn't teach her crocheting or knitting, saying, but I just want to spend time with you). We made each other friendship bracelets. She loved it (and then went to bed and made about 6 more metres of the stuff which is wound around her neck this morning.) Grateful for a special moment.

Grateful for the way we've all started sitting around in the lounge, by the fire after dinner, doing homework altogether. It feels warm and cosy and not hard or a chore. Maybe we can stick at this?

Grateful that my hubby took the kids to school for me (again). So I can sit here in my dressing gown, writing and being Grateful.

Grateful for a clear sky and sunny day after a stormy freezing day of hail and sleet and thunder yesterday.

Grateful this means Miss Fab will get to play netball today (last week's game was cancelled). And I get to watch and cheer her on. And hubby is coming too.

Grateful I have a slow cooker, so I can put dinner on this morning and it will be ready and waiting for us when we get home this evening, after netball. So there's no stress or rushing to cook.

Grateful for new words, new stories about the way I Mother. Instead of "I'm not enough" I can see that: I am WARM. I am INTERESTED. I am AFFECTIONATE. I am a LOVING MOTHER. It's enough. And I am Grateful.

See? Nothing earthshattering. Just the regular stuff of life. And yet... I really am grateful. For all of it.

What are you Grateful for today?

(more Grateful Posts)
27 May 2013

Bear Stew & Magic Pie - A Brave Night

Brave. A Disney movie set in Scotland about a reluctant princess, her mum, a bear and some magic.
Will-O-the-Wisps, destiny and tartan kilts.

It's a perfect theme for a family dinner-and-movie on a chilly autumn evening.

The (hastily scribbled and fax-machine copied) invitations for the event were pinned on Agnes, Angus, Duncan & Fergus's bedroom doors the day before.
"Wear Tartan" it told them; "Use a Scottish accent"...

I dug up tartan picnic blankets and table cloths; splashed out on some new (bargain) tartan winter PJ's and a "bearskin" rug and bought the DVD with my shopping vouchers (it's a keeper) 

I planned a simple menu:
Bear Stew and Magic Pie

To set the scene we decorated with lanterns...
(green and blue jar lanterns dug up from Parties past, to suggest the Will-O-theWisps)

...and candles....

(I love how this moody painting of mine suggests the scottish highlands)

On the table, some TradeMe bargain silver goblets from Christmas 2010, more lanterns 
(and shortbread)

We drank ginger "bear" from the goblets

And gobbled up our Bear Stew with Roasted Tatties. Mmmmm.
(not a takeaway in sight; I love my slow cooker - see recipe below)

We ate Magic (Chocolate) Pie for dessert
(but none of us turned into bears. Phew. The magic was in the TASTE)

Then we put the movie on....

Snuggled under bearskin rugs...

...and tartan blankets (in our tartan PJ's)

We munched popcorn

...and enjoyed the movie. SUCH a good movie.

There are a few scary bits where the mad bad bear (not the mother bear) is chasing them, but we muted the sound during these bits. (Without the soundtrack the scary bits lose their tension and can be coped with much better by the younger family members). We'll be reviewing the movie in more detail this weekend.

Afterwards Daddy Duncan said (in his best Scottish accent): "Brilliant mummy. That was a great night!"

And it was. A theme night that was simple to set up, yummy (easy) food, making use of stuff we already had which helped set the scene and give us a wonderful Movie Night Experience. Everybody tried hard to speak Scottish.

Although Scrag Angus decided after a few minutes of banter, that he didn't want to speak Scottish, he wanted to speak ENGLISH Daddy!!!! And could instead of being Scottish, could he please be a little kiwi kid with no mum and dad who was lost in Scotland?
He he. That kid. What an imagination.

So all in all we thoroughly recommend this as a theme night for your family.
And if you want to do it, here's the recipes for Bear Stew and Magic Pie...

Slow Cooker "Bear Stew"

1kg of beef, cut into cubes
1 packet of gravy mix
1 can of tomato puree
soy sauce (a generous splash)
red wine (a generous splash)
a cup of water
a scatter of herbs (I used basil)
Cracked black pepper

Put it in your slow cooker in the morning; Simmer on low all day.
30-40 minutes before serving, put some cubes potatoes in to roast (I was lazy and used a bag of McCains frozen Potato Roasties; but you might prefer to peel and chop and roast by hand...?)

Ladle the stew into bowls and serve with Roast Tatties on the side.

Magic (Chocolate) Pie adapted from here

1 1/4 cup of sugar
3 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 whole eggs
5/8 cup of Evaporated milk
50 grams butter, melted
2 sheets of ready rolled sweet short pastry

  1. Pie Crust: Line a pie plate or tart tin with baking paper; press your ready-rolled pastry into the tin; patch up any gaps with extra strips of pastry pressed in;  prick your pastry with all over the bottom with a fork
  2. Combine the sugar and cocoa powder with a whisk.
  3. Add in the eggs & melted butter; beat well
  4. Carefully measure 5/8 of a cup of evaporated Milk. (This equates to 5oz. If you can find a 5oz tin, even better). Add to your mixture and beat some more

Finally, pour your chocolatey mixture into the pastry shell and bake on 180oC for 45 minutes. (Not fan forced; just regular).

Smells so good.
Tastes even better.
Serve with Icecream or whipped cream and hope that nobody turns into a bear.
(Don't blame me if they do. This Magic Pie is just meant to taste good, not change someone's fate.)

**Have you tried doing theme nights with your family? What's your favourite?**

Our Other Theme Dinners:

Fancy Shmancy Dinner
24 May 2013

Sick Day... Movie Day... Friday

It's Friday, a day for many plans. Such a sparkling bright Friday, too. Only the plans have had to be modified as I have two under-the-weather kids lurking in PJs on couches.

Cough-cough. Went the first one. Oh dear, that sounds nasty.
"Everything hurts" she whimpered.
Better call the school.

Then the next one did the same. Oh dear, two down. What about the third?
Thankfully the Littlest Schoolboy was full of beans, not coughs, so off he went with a friend to school, leaving me to wonder what to do with the other two sickies.

[Go away mum!]

See, today was meant to be my Planning Day; my Prep Day for our Family Theme Night tonight.
Things have been a little... sad around here lately. Too much glum and not enough fun.

So I remembered PaisleyJade's trick for injecting fun when things feel dour, and I sketched up some invitations to a "Brave Night":

Brave Theme Dinner and a Movie. The Lounge. 6pm. Wear Scottish attire and an accent.
On the menu, Bear Stew with Roast Tatties and Magic (chocolate) Pie.

The invitations were posted on each person's bedroom door, along with their Scottish name for the evening, to help build anticipation. (Angus, Agnes, Fergus and Duncan. Just call me Fiona).

I had plans to hit Geoffs and score some tartan, pick up some candles from 2Cheap; grab a "Bearskin" throw bargain from the Warehouse...
But having two sick kids at home on the couch has put the kybosh on my shopping plans.

The best I'll be able to do is dash to the supermarket while the cleaner is here; pick up the ingredients for Magic Pie and the Brave DVD with my Countdown voucher.

Lucky I managed to find some tartan-ish blankets and tablecloths...

The "bear stew" is simmering in my slow cooker and my two invalids are languishing in the lounge watching Fatso DVDs. Phew. Thank goodness I had ordered a whole bunch of new ones. Otherwise you just know how the day would have gone...

"Mum I'm Boooored!"
"If you're bored you mustn't be sick. Shall I take you to school?"
"Mum can I go on the Tablet???"
"Hmmmm.... If you can play on the Tablet your headache must be better. Shall I take you to school?"
"Mum I'm hungry. Can I have a Pie? A biscuit? Some chips?"
"Gosh if you're able to eat all that you must be feeling better. Shall I take you to school?"

But thanks to my stash of unwatched Fatso DVDs, I can have a relatively peaceful day cooking up Magic Pie and draping things in Tartan.

What they're watching:
"It’s a sci-fi/fantasy adventure that combines Tibetan history, psychokinesis, telepathy and time travel into one unusually trippy package. Chris O’Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn are endearing siblings who stumble onto some strange crystals and a tatty rabbit doll named Mimzy during a holiday at their parents’ beach house, and find themselves holding the key to the future’s survival. The Last Mimzy has a great ‘80s feel about it - Spielberg certainly comes to mind - the film is constantly propelled by the fabulously imaginative premise and a sophisticated approach to family material that doesn’t resort to the usual toilet jokes." (Available on Get Now GN)

Fat Albert: (G)
"Fat Albert and the rest of the Cosby Kids are living happily in their animated world of Philadelphia when one day, a young teen cries on her remote control because she doesn't have any friends. Fat Albert and his gang then magically come out of her TV and enter the real Philadelphia! They decide-being such good kids-to help the teen make friends. Albert then falls in love with the girl's beautiful foster sister-but oh, no! If Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids stray from their TV world, they begin to fade away! Will Albert be able to return home after enlisting the help of Bill Cosby himself, or will he and his gang vanish forever?" (Available on Get Now GN)

Cool Runnings: (PG) One Dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty Below Zero.
"You'll love Cool Runnings - the outrageously funny comedy hit inspired by the true story of Jamaica's first Olympic bobsled team. They were four unlikely athletes with one impossible dream. Now, with the help of an ex-champion as their coach (John Candy - Uncle Buck), four Jamaicans leave their sunny island home and enter the chilly winter Olympics to compete for the gold in a sport they know nothing about - bobsled racing! Finding the courage in each other to give it their all, they meet the challenge, and soon become heroes - taking the whole world along for the ride! You'll be cheering long and loud for this unlikely team in this feel-good comedy hit!"

The verdict so far:

  • The Last Mimzy:It was good, mum. Really good.
  • Fat Albert: This is so funny. Let's watch it again.
  • Cool Runnings: This one should be landing in my mailbox after lunch. Maybe just in time to put the finishing touches on the Magic Pie and put my feet up. Might just watch a movie with my kids.

As you can see I am saving myself a job and combining my Fatso Weekend Movie Post with my Things I'm Loving Post. Aren't I Efficient?

No matter what, I love Friday. And Fatso. Sunshine. And Theme nights.

If you haven't tried Fatso Online DVD rental before, check out my post about why I love it. Then click the box above and use the magic code FAMILY45 to get a Month's Free Trial on the Super Plan (worth $28.99).

What have you got planned this weekend?