Saturday, June 26, 2010

Road Trip!!!!!!!

Well, the dance concert went wonderfully last night. The children weren't nervous (relief for me!) and danced with confidence and big smiles. I was so proud of them!!

This morning my parents went home, and we headed to rehearsal for the Gala Concert coming up in July. Always a full day with rehearsals, but fun times! The children are all finding the experience of hanging out at the theatre for hours on end pretty exciting too. :)

We will all be in bed early tonight after a very full week. Then tomorrow we are rehearsing 9am-6pm, again. Phew! And then............ drum roll please...............

................... I'm going on a ROAD TRIP!!!!!! Just me and my friend Kate, straight from the theatre tomorrow night, all the way to Brisbane, to stay with a friend of hers for two whole days!!!!! Can you tell I'm excited?!? The open road before us, music playing, great conversation, then two days of drinking tea and coffee and reading and chatting and visiting the Brissie shops, etc. etc. I can hardly wait I am so excited. I haven't done anything like this in a long, long time.

My wonderful man who is now on school holidays is literally manning the fort at home with the children so that I can take this time just for myself, to refresh and rejuvenate. So nice.

So. When I get home, sometime mid-week, I will hopefully have some photos to post and stories to share with you! In the meantime, have a blessed sunday tomorrow and I'll see you all post-roadtrip! :P

Thursday, June 24, 2010

God is Awesome!!!

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

It's so easy to 'delight ourselves' and trust and rest in God's love when things are going well, isn't it?! To pray, to see the beauty in all things? It is just easier to believe that God has us covered when everything is running according to plan. Well, to our plans that is. Not necessarily His. And yet we know He has a plan for our lives - for every one of us. It's so hard to comprehend, but it's true!

"I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

As you know from my recent post, I have had a difficult few weeks. My emotions have been up and down, Stuart has been very absent through this end-of-term time, and in general I have just been out of sorts. Thankfully I am learning over the years that this is normal. Life is seasonal. I still struggle during the down times, but I don't give up! On myself or on God. The hard times are important too. They are character-building times. They are opportunities to learn. I have discovered that the down times are the most important times to lean on God, to trust Him, to release ourselves to Him. I still often struggle on my own for a few days over an issue before praying hard about it (why is that?!?)...... and this past couple of weeks was no exception. But. After many teary nights and moments of frustration with myself, I prayed fervently and handed my emotional mess over to God.

I asked Him to heal my heart. He has.

I asked Him for my motivation on the home front to return. It has.

I asked Him to help me find my joy in being with the children once again. He has.

I asked Him to forgive me, to keep believing in me, to help me get my spirit back on track again. He has.

Finally, I asked Him for some time out, some me time, some moments of rejuvenation. And oh boy, has He delivered!!

Seriously, God is awesome. First He sent my Mum up - not just for 2 nights as planned - but for a whole week! What wonderful help and company that was. He has sent friends to rally round me... through phone calls and meals and emails and hugs. There has been something almost every day, despite the fact that I have been 'hiding away' somewhat! We even received an amazing package from a friend this week, but more about that in a later post. :) I love feeling loved!

AND I have had more time out this week than ever before. Lots of time with friends, just me, has filled my cup to the brim again. I needed it. Not just wanted it, needed it. And God knew. And God cares! For me!! It's overwhelming. I am so thankful for a "yes" answer to my prayers. :) Last night I even had an unexpected trip out to the theatre to see QLD Ballet perform Swan Lake! A dear friend had a spare ticket and asked me to join her. It was a magical night, and I am still floating today it was so beautiful. I am so thankful to Stuart for gifting me this time out without complaint. He too knows I need it at the moment. :)

And here are my darlings tonight at their dress rehearsal for their dance concert which is on tomorrow night! Saraya is one of the many Tinkerbelles, and Elijah is the one and only Peter Pan. :)
As you can see, he is lacking confidence on the stage. :P

So, from down to up I go. I thank God for forgiveness and grace and love and yeses and free gifts such as these good things filling my cup. He is good.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I am a firm believer in our lives having seasons. You know, waves. Ebbs and flows.

Right now, I'm in a funny sort of season. I'm not quite myself. My priorities and goals and ideals are no different, yet my vision is a bit out of focus. My lens is a little misty. Yet, I'm not worried by this. I know the wave will shift, the breeze will blow, the lens will become clear again.

I would describe this season as being quite introverted. A shade of blue. I'm thinking a lot. My sleeping and eating patterns are all out of whack. I can't think of what to cook. I am exhausted but cannot sleep. I'm going through the motions, but my heart is not quite here. Where it is.... I'm not sure. It's just distant. Thoughtful. Perhaps gone into some form of self-preservation mode?

I apologise for having no photos to share! I don't even really feel like taking photos this week. Life has been fairly mundane (which I don't mind... I need the down time), and not really photo-worthy. But I'm sure I'll be my snap-happy self again soon. :) The children are all doing well.

I have been thinking a great deal about how to avoid burn-out lately. Why? Because.... I have been feeling some signs within myself and I'm striving to prevent them going further. Reading and seeking lots. This post is excellent.

I have been reading some great books. Just finished "Dancing With My Father" by Sally Clarkson, which was excellent. I am also in the middle of "Embrace Grace" by Liz Curtis Higgs. These are two of my favourite Christian authors, ladies who have so so so much wisdom to share. And Liz is so funny! :D It's good to laugh. The book is all about healing past pain, embracing God's grace and believing we are forgiven and whole and loved, just as we are. I am also re-reading Wuthering Heights, just for pleasure. :) It is wonderful.

And so life goes. Quiet right now, for me. Well, busy on the outside but quiet within. Dreaming and wondering and processing and praying.

Hope everyone is having a restful weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I just hopped on today and noticed that I now have 50 followers!! Thank you to the lady from Much Moore Fun for joining me! :D I so don't blog to get followers, but it's been sitting at 49 for so long.. it just feels nice to jump up to 50. :)

Clearly it's the little things which bring a smile to my face these days......

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trying to Rest

This is us today.

Just trying to rest. Blankets and pillows and books. And even some tv this morning. We had a HUGE weekend, and are all feeling exhausted! Funny when your weekends do that to you. :) Yesterday we rehearsed all day for the gala concert we're involved in. It's coming together well. Tiring work but such fun!

We've caught up on a little school and house work this morning, but mostly just trying to find some time to rest.

Lunch soon, then baths and groceries and dance class later today.

Hope everyone is having a good Tuesday.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Can't Keep Up!

It's true. Her appetite is practically insatiable.

3 weeks ago, she picked up her first chapter book. And her independently-read list now consists of:

The Boxcar Children #1

The Boxcar Children #2

The Little Missionaries

The Wishing Chair

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie


Christie's Old Organ

All these books have been fairly lengthy, at least 150 pages each. And some of them she's read in 24 hours. She reads in the bedroom. She reads in the loungeroom. She reads in the trees. She reads in the bathroom. She literally keeps reading while she takes out the rubbish, book in one hand, rubbish bag in the other. She reads while you brush her teeth!!

Am I complaining? No! This girl is a busy little girl. Always playing, always moving, always creating, pulling out craft stuff, wanting to cook, wanting to make, etc. etc. etc. Reading is something she can do all by herself, and she's sitting still, and doesn't need help, and it doesn't make a mess. Ahhhh. :) Bliss.

Only thing is, she's wanting to read the third book in the Boxcar Children series - and I need to either find it in the library or purchase it from the Book Depository for $5.04 - in either case, she'll need to wait a few days. So instead today (after whinging that she didn't have a new book to read) she's pulled out The Rainy Day Book (things to do when there's nothing to do type book) and is now constructing a giant cubby on the verandah. With sheets, pegs, indoor chairs, outdoor chairs... and Stu's help because it simply wasn't working!!!!! Yep, that's what happens when I can't keep up. :) Not that I'm really complaining. She's a great kid. She's just so so so busy.

Just wanted to mention we had a lovely day yesterday. Definitely a golden day!!!
I taught my first two piano students in the morning, and both were successful. Enthusiastic boys who actually learnt far more than I anticipated in a half hour lesson. I'm really excited about this. Something I am doing outside of mothering / homemaking, and even earning us some money too. I'm hoping to end up with 4 or 5 students, just keeping it to Saturday mornings.

Stuart worked on report cards at work for the entire afternoon/evening. And the children and I shared that time with Kate, at her place. A win-win-win situation! We picnicked and talked and played and the children climbed the same giant climbing tree that she climbed when she was a little girl. :) Another friend arrived with her 3 children, and we had a regular playgroup! So nice to sit in the sun and just hang out together. Later I bathed the children in Kate's lovely claw-foot bath (they were stoked!!!) and we all ate dinner before we left to pick Stu up just after 8pm. Poor man. Fancy spending 8 hours on a Saturday, working on report cards. I just feel blessed to have a friend to share all that alone-mothering time with. We all had a great day.

And today, Sunday. Pyjamas and dressing gowns and slippers. Worship music playing. Pancakes. The paper open on the table. Coffee about to be brewed. :) And kids constructing cubbies.

And tomorrow's a public holiday!

Things are looking up. :) Happy weekend everyone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Green Day

I call it green, because it wasn't quite blue. It was partly blue and partly yellow. So, a green day.

The yellow bits were sunshine. Reading lots of books to the children. Having an enthusiastic daughter learning about abbreviations this morning. A content couple of kids playing a big game for literally hours this afternoon. A watered garden. family visiting. :)

But there were blue bits too. William is teething and tired and cranky. And I am sleep deprived, tired.... and a bit cranky.

Mum went home this afternoon. My stepDad Ray came to get her, and stayed for a few hours too which was lovely for the children. They love spending time with their Grandpa. Nice leisurely coffee on the verandah and a good long walk around the property, showing Grandpa everything - cubby houses, the dam, the orchard, etc. But now of course my family is gone and my time with Mum is over, for now. I miss her so much already.

I know I have mentioned my friend Kate several times over the last few months. I am feeling a deep sadness as she will be leaving sometime next month, to work elsewhere for an unknown period of time. She has a beautiful home up here, and will certainly return at some stage.... but that may be 6 months or a year away, or longer. We have become very close and I am having trouble imagining life without her. :(

And I am having difficulty (once again, this is a recurring difficulty for me!) getting my head around the enormity of Stuart's job. He loves his job, and works very hard to be the best teacher he can be. And he is a great teacher. But. His job takes him away from us 5 days a week, 7:30-5:30 most days. And he spends countless hours working at home. Or hours back at work in the evening or on weekends. I am doing this whole house and child-rearing thing almost totally alone. And when he's not at work, he's thinking about work. Will I ever get used to this?

So there you have it. Sunshiny bits and blue bits.

A green day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How He's Blessing Me.....

.......... this week. :)

* My Mum is here! She couldn't make it up for Elijah's party, but arrived Monday afternoon and has been with me all week. It's been so so so wonderful. We've just been doing all our usual things, and having Mum come along with us has been great!! The children have been enjoying having lots of time with Nanna. :)

* I have been cooked dinner the last two nights. This is unheard of, as Stuart simply does not cook. He gets home too late... and we've just gotten into the habit over the years that I do the cooking. Last night my dear friend Kate came with a grocery bag of ingredients and cooked us all a delicious spinach and feta baked risotto. She even brought dessert. And wine!!! What a treat for me, sitting there with my feet up having dinner cooked for me. And tonight, as I type, Mum is beginning dinner preparations. She's making a yummy mexican dish, and once again I'm sitting down smelling it cooking. I can't tell you what a blessing this is for me! Just feeling loved and taken care of is filling me up with joy.

* The children have had a settled week. We've been doing the basics with schooling, and keeping busy doing lots of things on the side.

* William has slept well the last 2 nights and hasn't been waking up at 4am like he had been for days beforehand. Yay!

* We have a long weekend coming up. Even though Stuart will be busy with report cards, I'm going to try to fit in some nice times with the children. And then we have gala concert rehearsals all day Monday. :)

* I have my first 2 piano students on Saturday morning. I love that He is stretching me to do this. After 8 years of "just" being a Mama, I have feelings like maybe I can't do this..... but I know with His help all things are possible!

Hope everyone's having a great week and that you can see God's provision in little ways all around you. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Elijah's 5th Birthday Party

"Elijah, we are going to give you a birthday party this year! Turning 5 is a very special age."

"A birthday party? With friends and games and everything?"

"Yes!!! And you get to choose what sort of party you would like, who comes, what food we serve.... everything."

"WOW Mama!!! This is my first party!!" Thinks for quite awhile...... "I want to have a Charlie and Lola party!" Then a week or so later.... "I want to have a Mary Poppins party. Yes. And you can make me a Bert cake Mama. 'Cos I want to be Bert, and wear a dressed-up shirt and a hat!"

"Um.... okay. Wow! What a great idea Elijah. All right, a Mary Poppins party it is."

And so it all began. :) The guest and food lists written, the cake baked

balloons out front

Let the party begin!!!

Great excitement as he opened a birthday gift..... a long-awaited shirt and tie! He had spotted it a few months back and loved it so I secretly bought it and hid it away. :) And it made a perfect Bert shirt!
Of course he posed for some photos in the garden. How handsome is this boy?!

This is my personal favourite!! It's just Elijah's personality shining through!

Balancing Bert........

Cutie William in his bow tie!! Didn't stay on for long but was adorable.

Grandad Fern as Admiral Boom - how impressive is this costume?!!
He even fired 2 blanks from his gun to signal the start and the end of the party - which scared the kids and got the neighbour a bit upset! :(
But oh so in character, and the men who were here thought it was pretty awesome. And Elijah loved having his Grandad here.

Mary Poppins :)

This is the stage Stu rigged up for Eiljah's present. :) He bought the frames for $5 each from a garage sale, and purchased timber to screw on top. Such an appropriate gift for him, and it got a good workout yesterday!

A little friend brought Elijah this spider in a jar - love the look on his face!!

Ruby as miniature Mary Poppins

Declan as a chimney sweep

"Jane and Michael Banks" :) (bits of costumes missing here!)

These two had everyone smiling yesterday. They have known each other since they were 6 months old, and have always had lots of theatrical fun together!

Trying out the stage! We had the soundtrack playing on repeat.
"It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary......."

And "We love to laugh, ha ha ha ha...."
Elijah insisted Stu had to dress up as the laughing Uncle Albert!

"Pavement Painting"

The kids had a great time on this swing Stu rigged up. FUN!!!

Elijah / Bert the one-man-band!

And the kids did Saraya up as well!

Afternoon tea time!! All Elijah's favourites were served.

Blowing out 5 candles.

A game of What's the time Mr Wolf?

Happy birthday beautiful little man!!
I love being your Mama, and am so proud of the confident, creative and loving little boy you are growing up to be. :D xoxoxoxo

And today (Monday) is his actual birthday, and we are taking things very easy after such a full weekend of fun!!! The children are currently watching the Mary Poppins film. :) And I've been doing lots of cleaning up from yesterday. We will read together later, Saraya will do her lessons, and I have just found out that Mum will be arriving here later this afternoon! Very exciting; she and Ray were meant to be here yesterday but were unwell. Elijah's very excited she is coming for his BBQ tea tonight. :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recommended Books for Young Children

Amanda recently asked me to write a list of chapter books I would recommend for a six year old. This is difficult, as all six year olds are different in their interests and level of comprehension when it comes to reading. But I still wanted to help, as reading is a passion in our household!

So instead I decided to list all the chapter books we have read to the children over the last 5 years, and tell you a little about them. I don't think I've forgotten any, but there may have been others. Reading aloud as a family is a wonderful time of closeness, and creates memories and interests and adventure and creativity during free play times too. I have always been very careful about the books I read to my children, starting with pictures books from the library. Introducing concepts too early, encouraging some negative behaviours, or just downright scaring a child can happen easily if we're not careful! We read the children a lot of classics, and of course many, many picture books each day too. It's a big part of life and learning. :) Anyway, here goes.....

I read this one to the older two children when they were 5 and 3. It was a nice simple story. I'm sure the first one is as well!

Well, Saraya scoured the bookcase just this morning and chose The Wishing Chair. I did love Enid Blyton as a child.... wasn't quite sure if I she was ready for this one, but she's half-way through it already and loving it! I found her and Elijah sitting up in the orchard this afternoon on a rug, and Saraya was reading to him. Made me happy. :)

Poor mixed up Amelia Bedelia had us all laughing when we read a few books in this series. A friend loaned them to Saraya when she was just starting to read independently at age 6. These are great books for early readers, and are nice safe stories which get your kids laughing!

Leaving Anne of Green Gables until the children are older, The Story Girl (also by L.M. Montgomery) seemed a more age-appropriate read for them last year. Still, I think we skipped a chapter or two.

For poetry, I would recommend both of these titles. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic. We have a large illustrated version and the children all love it.
Now We Are Six is a little collection of poetry by A.A.Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books. Simple, beautiful poetry for little ones. Lots of good verses to memorize in here too!

We only have half of these precious books, but have borrowed the others from the library! Not chapter books, but charming stories in 'old English' that will challenge and inspire young readers.

We are currently reading this one. Elijah is almost 5, and this is his favourite read-aloud so far.
We will read The House at Pooh Corner next. (And after that, Narnia, yay!!!)

A beautiful book of Christian short stories. I read this one to all the children last year, and Saraya read it on her own again earlier this week. Full of moral lessons, it's great!

Heidi by Johanna Spiri was a little challenging for Saraya when we read it - I think she was only 3. :P I plan to offer it as an independent book for her later this year.

Saraya read Book #1 in the Boxcar Children series last week, and LOVED it. There are 19 titles in the series by the original author, and I'll encourage her to read all of them. This would make a great read-aloud for any child 4 and up.

Stuart read Little Men to Saraya when she was 4, and I have just read it again to her and Elijah this year. It is absolute gold. :D I'm leaving the other books by Louisa May Alcott for when the children are older.

We worked through the Little House on the Prairie series when Saraya was 5-6 years old.
They are all absolutely wonderful! My favourite was Farmer Boy.

One of the children pulled Alice In Wonderland off our bookcase last year, and loved the illustrations in it. Of course then they requested it to be read to them. I did read it to them, but some parts were a bit confusing for them. Probably better for 7-8 year olds.

Stuart read Danny, The Champion of the World to Saraya when she was tiny. I think they both really enjoyed it! It's the only Roald Dahl book the children have read so far, but they have listened to James and the Giant Peach on audio CD.

And last but not least, Charlotte's Web. :) This was the very first chapter book we read to Saraya - she was 3 1/2 years old at the time and really enjoyed it.

So there you go. I hope this was helpful! We have read other titles which I haven't included as I wouldn't necessarily recommend them. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew is one we read half of a couple of years ago..... up to the part where one of the children is stolen by a bad man! The story was getting too intense and disturbing for our little ones at that point, so we stopped reading it. We also read The Wizard of Oz last year, purely because Stu and Saraya were in the musical and we were all interested in reading the original story. It was fine, just not generally recommended reading for under 8's.

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it
at all". Oscar Wilde


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