Friday, 26 April 2013

April days

April has majored in good weather and fun times. We've been to the mountains again, where the days were crisp and leaves crunched under our feet. We've met up with family and friends, and enjoyed lazing in the sun. The break from school has done us good.
Other things to make us happy have been:
  • Late morning starts (so not missing that school run)
  • Good books from the local library (it's only taken us three years to visit our local branch. It is small but well-stocked - and I'm only slightly nervous about losing any/all of the 25 items we borrowed..)
  • Morning coffee in my new Kate Spade cup + saucer = anniversary gift from lovely husband (June Lane design: dragonfly and scarab beetle)
  • Autumn leaves + sunshine + blue skies
  • Excitement of kids on a train ride (although the rest of the carriage may not have shared our enthusiasm as Arch yelled "toot toot" for almost an hour)
  • Loving the music of Adele, Sons of Korah and Madeleine Peyroux (feisty, faithful and french - what more could you ask?)
  • Kids who love reading (Jesse read his 6x birthday novels in under three weeks)
  • Found this massive blue and white vintage china platter for $10 at an op shop (will I be brave enough to hang it on the wall??)
  • SBS Feast (food) magazine (found these two for 20c ea at an op shop, great look and recipe ideas)
  • Flannelet sheets
  • Catching up with friends for relaxing chats over hot cups of tea and delicious treats
  • Festive plastic bunting from the party shop (as my 2012 Christmas bunting project has stalled, possibly permanently)
  • Cricket games in the park
  • Plane spotting
  • Garden walks and playing in the leaves

How are you enjoying your April days? Let me know, I'd love to hear..

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Decade of Parenting

Last week we celebrated Jesse's tenth birthday. The Birthday boy was extremely excited; while the parents were slightly dazed and amazed that what, a decade had passed since he was born?

Here is a link to a piece I had published in the Sydney Morning Herald  early on in my pregnancy, when the mysteries of having babies and all that it entailed was only just becoming apparent to me:

I still remember waddling (actually, I wasn't that big, really! Careful, don't make me rant about this..) into a bookshop at about the four-month pregnant mark determined to address my woeful lack of knowledge on all things maternal. I had had a certain pregnancy and birth handbook recommended to me and was appalled to discover when I perused the contents page that there were THIRTEEN chapters on pain management.
I know, THIRTEEN!!
That definitely fell in to the category of too much information for me. I'm not one of those people who believes knowledge is power. When it came to having a baby, I just wanted to know that a) my obstetrician knew what he was doing (because I certainly didn't), and b) that my husband would definitely be getting the time off work to drive me to the hospital (because I didn't have my licence then..).

The second book I picked up looked far more user-friendly. It had these great boxes with frequently asked questions and their answers. I was enjoying the format until I came to a particular box with the following question:  During labour will I defecate on the delivery table?

Aghhhhh!!!! I gasped so loudly people in my immediate vicinity feared labour was imminent. No, I smiled wanly, it's just a pregnant woman trying to find a book about labour that's not going to cause unnecessary cringing, panic and hysteria. No siree, we'll save that for the actual labour. Can't we? Needless to say, I left the book shop empty handed.

The book I did end up holding on to (when fear, panic and hysteria did occasionally take hold) was Kaz Cooke's Up The Duff - a really fabulous mixture of facts and humour. I'll be forever grateful to the two friends who gave me this book. I heartily recommend it to anyone who's pregnant and needs to know that less is more when faced with the alternative of graphic and humiliating bodily functions and thirteen chapters on pain management...yes, THIRTEEN!!!

Fast-forward ten years, and I now look back at my initial ignorance with happy nostalgia. And what a fun ride it has been since (don't worry, I'm not going to rehash the entire ten years, well not in one post anyway). Jesse was one of those babies who never woke up unhappy (really!), hardly got sick, did everything he was supposed to do (notably, walked backwards at exactly 18 months to the day, in exact keeping with the Milestones poster at the baby clinic which, I had publicly scoffed at the week before); and did something naughty, unintentionally, when he was about four years old.

Don't worry, we had other (babies), and realised then that nature and not nurture had much to do with our supposed success as parents. Now we just give credit where credit's due: Jo Frost, Super Nanny.
Thank you.

Anyway, as someone who had never related to babies prior to having her own, (and who knew next to nothing about what to do with one once they were born - sorry to keep LABOURING that point) Jesse was a true blessing and has continued to be. He is a wonderful big brother (most of the time, relentless teasing being a genetic fault), a great and caring friend and son, and a boy with a genuine faith and love for God.

Happy Birthday Jesse!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cleaning the Kitchen..small steps

Cleaning the kitchen is not my forte.
The only time my benches are clear - as in really shiny, pristinely, Pinteresty clear - is when I have shoved piles of stuff into cupboards; my splash backs (such as they are) never show my reflection; and my appliances are rarely polished to a radiant shine.
We're not living in squalor I'm happy to say - and no one is getting sick due to lack of hygienic practises.
But the piles of mail and school notes, collection of pens that don't work, vitamin bottles and general chaos around the food prep area do get me down. And recently I realised I was avoiding the pantry out of fear of yet another tin falling on to my foot when I opened the door.
So something had to be done.

My pantry is a deep cupboard that towards the back resembles a dark cave.  I have a vague idea of what may be back there, but I don't delve there often. However, one shelf  holding canisters of baking ingredients was driving me crazy. Whatever I needed ALWAYS seemed to be lurking in the back of the cave, and required pulling out pretty much everything to find what I needed.

Meanwhile I was using a deep saucepan drawer for baking trays, cake tins and metal cookware that seemed like a waste of all that space.

Then a dear friend dropped in for lunch and gave me a kick start. She had a great idea, to solve one of my "kitchen issues" and was gracious enough not to say "der" as she shared it.  Switching the canisters with the baking trays hadn't occurred to me.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to give you a new and clearer perspective.

I'd also read a decluttering blog that said to declutter properly you need to start with the hidden stuff. It meant going into the back of the cave...


So here's glorious pictorial evidence. I'm just giving "AFTER" shots, as the "BEFORE" ones were too embarrassing. Let's just say some canisters went straight into the garbage, contents judged too hideous, mysterious and evil.
Who knew nuts could turn so furry?

So now my baking ingredients are happily ensconced in the saucepan drawer. I keep sliding the drawer open to admire the order - I don't think Martha Stewart would be impressed with my texta labelling efforts, but I'll get on to that eventually. Small steps.

And now my flat trays, tins and metal ware are neatly slotted in to a shelf. Look how light and bright it is!!

Wow, this neat thing could really take hold.
Now, just need the energy to deal with the bench clutter...

Kitchen storage on pinterest opens up a brave new world, love these pics.


Strange that both of these pics have ladders..


I have a ladder but the rest of the elements of these superior organisational and marvellous spaces may be a little way off...but, hey, I went to the back of the cave, and came back out again!!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Conventioning at Easter

Had such a blessed Easter weekend - attending Katoomba Easter Convention in the beautiful Blue Mountains, where the weather defied all dire predictions (mostly mine) and stayed perfect for the duration.

The kids stayed well and loved the kids program - while the adults got to hear some amazing talks, enjoy fresh pastries and coffee each morning (swoon), and sweeping away the distractions of bunnies and eggs (yes, I'm talking to me) reflect on all that Easter means. What a great celebration for Christians it is - kinda makes you want to shout from the Montain tops: Hey Everyone! 
God sent his son to save the world!!!

Good Friday was a day to reflect on our fallen world, and the need for a Saviour to save us. It's not always easy and hardly fun to reflect on all that is going wrong in the world, and in our own lives. But it is vital that we do. 

There wouldn't be an Easter Sunday if it wasn't for the great sacrifice that preceded it on Good Friday (Eleanore wants to know why it's called "good" if Jesus died? I'm guessing that though awful things happened that day, they were inherently good for us and the world..) We have to acknowledge our utter helplessness in the face of sin before we can seek forgiveness and accept the great gift of eternal life. Definitely worth celebrating!

Kirk Patston's talks on Old Testament examples of people serving God with faith and obedience, zeal and kindness and through struggles were really challenging. Characters such as Abraham, Ruth and Phinehas showed qualities that enabled them to follow God in life-changing ways. Go to the  KCC website if you're interested in listening to them:

We  took an extra day at the end of the long weekend to soak up a bit of the grandeur of creation. It seemed a fitting way to end.

We also heard the Sons of Korah play and sing their really moving and inspiring words from the Psalms.
Psalm 91 was my favourite - here's a link to a recording on youtube: