Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Updates...

Sorry everyone, my blog is rather dull lately I know. :(

Here's the latest.

Stuart is in Adelaide for a conference for four days. The night he left, I had an episode that wound me up in hospital for the night. That was hard. I miss him so much. Mum has come up to be with the children and I, which is giving me much comfort. It's so nice just knowing she's here, and having her wonderful company.

The chest discomfort continues - a tightness, pressure, feeling of something being "stuck" in my chest, a bit of difficulty breathing, some pain, etc. I don't know if this lingering pain is linked to my heart, or to anxiety, or possibly heartburn!? I just don't know, so I'm trying my utmost to relax and not worry about it. Please pray that it leaves me soon?

My heart issues seem to be fairly manageable at the moment (despite Tuesday night). I am booked in to see a Cardiologist in the city on the 21st of October. He will analyze the results of my Echo test etc. and may suggest some medication to correct the problems. We'll see.

School holidays continue and the children have had some lovely experiences this week. We went to the wildlife park, and to a great indoor playground in a nearby city, and they have had several play-dates with friends. Saraya even had a sleepover on Monday night. :) So they're happy.

I am off to bed. I have just taken one of Mum's Zantac tablets in the off chance that I am experiencing heartburn / indigestion for the first time in my life. How nice it would be if this chest discomfort is not linked to my heart problems!

Goodnight all. I promise to offer some more interesting posts soon. :) xx

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recipes Promised!

Here are the recipes Saraya cooked for our dinner last week. I promised I'd share them, and here they are.

Baked Potato Soup

2 rashers bacon, cut in strips
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups of milk
10-12 small potatoes, diced
1 cup grated cheese
Garnish - chopped green onions, additional cheese and bacon

Fry bacon in a saucepan, place on paper towel to drain and preserve 2 tbsp's bacon grease in the pot. Add celery, carrot, and onion and saute until they soften (5 mins). Add flour and stir. Whisk in stock and milk (we actually used 3 cups stock and 1 cup milk). Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 mins. Add cheese and stir. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Serve out and garnish with sliced green onions, extra grated cheese and strips of bacon.

And to have a change from serving the soup with bread or toast, she made...

Parmesan Twists

1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the oil, salt and garlic in a bowl and stir to combine. Brush the pastry with the oil mixture and cut into 2 cm strips. Sprinkle with parmesan, twist and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until puffed and golden. YUM!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Children's Bedrooms

We've sorted, we've tidied, we've rearranged and cleaned and settled in. The results? Three children who are very happy with their new rooms!

Saraya's Bedroom...

Elijah and William's Bedroom...

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, life just keeps right on rolling. Which is the way I like it. :)

It is school holidays for us at the moment, which means Stuart has two weeks off work. Except that he's going to Adelaide next week for four days Professional Development.......... Aside from that, we're together every day! It's so wonderful having him home. We have already enjoyed lots of chat time and achieved much around the home too. We have spent the last two days changing the bedrooms around. Saraya moved into what was the play room - she now has her very own little girl room which she just loves. It works well because she can lie awake reading in bed until 7:30pm, whereas Elijah really needs to be asleep between 6:30 and 7pm, he gets so tired. William moved out of his cot and into a BED!! and is sharing a room with Elijah. The boys have bunk beds and love them. This has given Stu and I our room back (yay!) and William has even been sleeping better in his big boy bed. Hoooooooray. :D I will post some photos of their rooms tomorrow. We've worked hard but I'm so happy with how they look!

What else?? Well, we have been pretty inspired by Junior Masterchef and I hope to give Saraya more time in the kitchen with me - really cooking, not just helping. I had her go through recipe books with me this morning and she helped do the meal planning for the week. We braved the rain this afternoon and went to town to do the shopping. And tonight, Saraya cooked dinner!

She made a delicious, hearty meal of Baked Potato Soup and Parmesan Twists (recipe in my Donna Hay Seasons cookbook). It was, seriously, delicious. I am so full! Saraya loves to cook, and I need to trust her more in the kitchen as she really is an excellent little chef.

I have (mostly) been enjoying being caffeine and alcohol free. Not that I drank a great deal of either, but after abstaining completely I do feel more settled within myself, my heart has been feeling more normal again, and the alternatives I have been drinking are much healthier! I have also been trying to walk daily, and get to bed before 10pm. All these things, as well as having my husband around at the moment, and prayer of course, are helping me feel much better. It is so so so nice.

In bigger news, God has lead our family to the decision to put Saraya and Elijah into school next year. This is huge for me particularly, as I have always felt so right about having all my children close to us and at home together. The primary reason for this is my health, but there are other factors as well. In my little package of "lifestyle changes" which I need to make, one of the steps is to minimise physical and emotional stress. The doctor was very clear about this. Being honest, homeschooling simply hasn't been working for a good many months now. With me being constantly unwell, and tired, and stressed, Saraya particularly has struggled both emotionally and behaviourally. She complains of boredom at home, lacking friends and stimulation. She is disinterested generally in anything but reading, though becomes cranky after doing that for too long. Ordinarily I can cope with this - we plan excursions and outings, playdates with friends and lots of interesting projects at home. Unfortunately I have been unable to provide her with these things since about July, and am still slowly getting back on my feet. We feel that one year at the Christian school where Stuart teaches (Elijah will actually be in Stu's prep class :)) will do us all good. William and I will spend time at home together next year, and the older children will receive more time with their daddy, and some broader opportunities. I know there are pro's and con's to everything, and we are focusing hard on the pro's of school for next year. I still very much have homeschooling on my heart, and we have always said we will take one year at a time. I will cherish the rest of 2010, having all my children under our roof each day. Next year, I will pray and trust and share the load, rest and recuperate. This hasn't been an easy decision. I have shed many tears over it. But, this is life, our life, for now.

The other step in this whole plan is our probable need to move house, to downgrade, to minimise our mortgage in order to afford school fees - and to take away the stress which has affected us all (but mostly Stu) since buying our dream home last November. It's beautiful, but it has us stretched to the max. We're looking around at some houses in town, just getting a feel for the market, getting our place here looking ready to list if necessary, waiting, and praying. It isn't easy, but once again I trust God completely for His perfect provision. He has always provided for us, and I trust this time won't be any different.

So yes, that's us this week. :) Lots going on, as always. But we're together, and life is rolling, and that's what is most important. The spring rain is falling outside, filling our water tanks and watering our budding fruit trees; two little boys are fast asleep and my little girl and her daddy are reading a book all about the Romans together on her bed. Life is a gift. :) Blessings, friends! xx

Friday, September 17, 2010


Although the ultrasound technician couldn't officially tell me anything today, he was kind enough to share that he couldn't see (I quote) "any nasties". :) It looks like I have fibrocystic breast condition, common enough and not serious. Phew!!!

Stuart was a darling and took the day off work to be with me today, even though it was the last day of term and lots of special things were happening at school. Honestly, that meant the world to me. So we have had the afternoon as a family, and our spring holidays have started a day early!

We have 2 weeks at home together, and lots to achieve in that time. More about that in another post.

Echo test next Thursday. Until then, no more posts about medical stuff I hope!

We had a picnic and a walk in the park this afternoon, and walked down to a gorgeous little shop called Pop-In Tea. I picked 4 bags of herbal teas to alleviate my disappointment over losing my daily teas and coffee - nice to have an alternative! I have Pina Colada fruity tea, Women's Wellness tea, Vitamin C boost tea, and Energy boost tea. I can feel that all these lifestyle changes are going to lead to a much healthier me, and for that I am grateful.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hard to Swallow

Just a quick post tonight. I had news today which has been a bit hard to swallow.

The holter monitor testing showed that yes, that 'extra beat' I've been feeling in my heart really is there. I think they call it ventricular ectopic beats. Also, my heart was going into SVT at times during the monitoring (top measurement was 166 beats a minute, so not severe but still rapid). The Echo Test will show us if there is a physiological reason why my heart is doing this.

For now, I need to make lifestyle adjustments. I need to eliminate all caffeine and alcohol from my diet.


No tea. No coffee. No chocolate. No wine.



Yep, it's a bit hard to swallow.

Also (and this is the bit that is really worrying me, to be honest), the lump I felt in my breast really is there and I am going for a breast ultrasound tomorrow. This will show if the hardening is simply fibrocystic (and benign) - or you know what. I don't even want to say it.

So that's where I am tonight. I'm going to bed to prevent myself thinking any more about all this. Just wanted to share. Please keep praying, I so appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

We have been ever so blessed this week to have my Mum staying with us. She arrived Monday lunch time, and gave me her company and encouragement and cooking and cuddles and time out and time to get things done and rest and reassurance. I feel amazingly better than I have in weeks. Thank you Mum!!!!!

She got the kids in the kitchen and made strawberry & raspberry jam with them.

It's delicious! Mum also took them on a couple of outings which gave me time here at home. Amazing.

And we woke this morning to the signs of Spring, everywhere. The sun was warm, and the breezes were blowing. We discovered a nest of baby minor birds in our front garden, to the delight of the children!

Spot the nest?

Sadly, one of the babies must have fallen out of the nest (it was quite windy today) and our cat Molly brought her inside. :( I think they only hatched this morning - they are tiny with no feathers yet. The children spent ages watching the mummy and daddy bird flying back and forward with food for the babies.

Then later today we spotted a whole family of wood ducks! Mummy, daddy and their 3 ducklings waddled across our land and swam across the dam. We ventured down to watch them - they were SO cute!

Mum went home this afternoon and I miss her so much already.

I am back to the doctor tomorrow morning to get the results of the heart monitoring. I've already been told I need to have an Echo (like an ultrasound of the heart) - not sure if that is routine or if they picked something up with the monitor. I also feel a bit of a lump in my breast so I'm getting that checked out too. Please pray for me - I just so want to feel well again.

And this is for you, Amy. Just 'cos you sent the boys these gorgeous shirts and I thought you might like to see them in them. ;)

Visit Ann and Guatemala

If you haven't been following Ann's experience in Guatemala over the past week, I strongly encourage you to do so.

She is raw, and real, and it is a window into a world we can barely imagine. I thank her for her courage and for her story.

Friday, September 10, 2010


God is so good. When we pray and listen and rest in Him, the answers simply come.

Some answers have come for our family this past 24 hours.

Change is on the horizon, and we are ready to embrace it, afraid as we may be.....

I am feeling much better; thank you all for your kind thoughts! The antibiotics are doing their thing, and the infection is clearing. I am slowly getting my voice (and my energy) back. The weekend is here, and aside from piano teaching for me, and book and toy library visiting for Stu and the children tomorrow morning, we have some free family time together. I am so looking forward to that. May your weekends be wonderful friends. :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Health Update

In case anyone would like to know (and yes please to prayer!):

- I have another chest infection and am on another round of antibiotics. I am also taking probiotics and vitamins and trying to rest as much as possible. We'll pop down to the markets this morning to get lots of fresh fruit and veggies as well. Want to knock this one on the head completely.

- I have absolutely no voice!! Being mute and mothering 3 young children all day long isn't easy.

- I had to have a chest x-ray yesterday as the doctor could hear noise on my lungs. The results didn't come back as 'urgent', though I do need to go back to the doctor to discuss them. The x-ray guy said "yeah, you've got a lot of gunk in there". Excellent.

- I have returned the holter monitor, and once the results are evaluated they too will be sent to the GP. I'm very interested to see what they show (if anything).

- My heart definitely feels like it is still all over the place. :(

- When I had blood tests on Saturday, my white cell count was high. Once I finish the 6-day course of antibiotics, I will go again for a full blood count and hopefully my WCC will have come down.

- I am really, really tired and breathless most of the time. Stuart is being really attentive when he is home which is blessing me enormously, and my sweet friend Petrina has looked after my children for the past 2 days while I was having all these tests done. She is amazing!

- I would appreciate your prayers! I just want to be well again. It's been so long.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lots Going On

There is a lot going on in our family this week. May I share?

I have had some issues with heart palpitations / shortness of breath / dizziness on and off for the past month or so. I went to see my GP about the issues a few weeks back, and was booked in to get a holter monitor (you wear for 24 hours for heart monitoring) on the 16th September. On Saturday morning, the palpitations got really bad. My heart was positively racing, despite the fact that I had had no caffeine or any other stimulants, and I was home alone teaching my piano students - my most relaxing day of the week! I wound up very short of breath, and very dizzy - and ended up going into the ER at our local hospital. To cut a long story short, I was in for about 5 hours, on an ECG and oxygen, and was diagnosed with PSVT - basically a rapid heart rate along with "extra" beats. It is unknown what caused this to happen, and numerous tests are being done to find out. Right now I am sitting here with the holter monitor strapped to my body (we were able to get it earlier based on the issues I had on Saturday) and have cords all over the place. It's not a pretty sight.

I must admit all this gets me pretty worried. I just want to be well to take care of my family. The thought of having a heart defect (yet to be determined) scares me - the thought of not being around to see my children grow up terrifies me (morbid I know, but the thought does cross my mind). Anyway, would you pray for me please? Lots of tests are being done this week so I am desperately hoping for some answers soon. God is giving me enormous peace and amazing support through some wonderful friends, which is helping so much. I know 3 people who work at the hospital, and all three were working the day I was in - and 2 of them, who are strong Christians, came and prayed with me while I was there. Amazing grace. :)

In other news, we are pondering deeply some big family decisions. Will we stay living here, or move back into town? Will we continue to homeschool next year, or will Saraya (and possibly Elijah) go to school? These are huge decisions, and I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom for us as we make these too. It is an interesting time. Lots and lots running through my mind. I feel God prompting me to relax, to trust, to rest, and not to worry. So I'm trying really hard. ;)

Life is filled with seasons. This one is a little hard because it is filled with unknowns. But I lean on this verse, and I am filled with peace.

"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future". Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 6, 2010

Books To Read

As you know, Saraya has lately become an avid reader. She and I sorted out our children's classics bookcase this morning into piles - what she's read, what she wants to read next, and what she will read when she's older.

We did this because she just exhausted the pile our friend Jane loaned us (thanks Jane!), and the other books I recently purchased for her. I thought I'd share the titles Saraya has enjoyed these past few weeks so you can share them with your own little people!

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (I am slowly collecting these; I think Saraya has read about 10 titles so far)

Little Pear by Eleanor Francis Lattimore

"B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood

The Boy with the Green Thumb by Barbara Euphan Todd

Hello, Mrs Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton (we borrowed 2 of these from the library last week, and Saraya loved them)

The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton (same as above!)

Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin

Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

I'm sorry I haven't included links - I just don't have time! Please check your local library or the ever-faithful Book Depository.

See this post too for other books Saraya has enjoyed, and this post for other books we would recommend - many were read-alouds in our family.

Today I am reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and Saraya is reading The Pied Piper of Hamlin. We will read a chapter of The Secret Garden later, and no doubt the little boys will by flicking through the pages of Dr Seuss or Curious George!

What's in your lap this week?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Simplified Play

"Children's play flourishes when we let it rather than make it happen."

"Moving away from things and toward experiences, we can be indulgent with time and opportunities for exploration. We can be lavish, unsparing with the space and time kids need to move and be physically active; bounteous with opportunities for them to connect with nature and others. Our generosity can stretch and expand in response to their need for make-believe, art, purpose, music, and joyful, busy involvement."

From "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne. More quotes to come!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today's Thankful Things

I feel, with all the sickness lately, that I have been a bit negative / whiney / down in general. But today was the first day of Spring, and I felt God saying "Look around you my child, at all the good things I have given you!" So this afternoon I reflect on all the beauty, the blessings, the gifts that surround me, straight from heaven. :)

A big girl who can make this all on her own! She baked the banana cake yesterday, and served it up to us this afternoon with sliced banana and honey drizzled on top. YUM!

Flowering lavender on the front verandah.

One shoebox filled for the Operation Christmas Child project.
We shopped today, and will send off boxes to bless two children this Christmas. My children had such fun choosing what to buy for each child!

A toddler browsing the bookcase for something to read.

A pile of chapter books now all read by our bookworm, Saraya.

Our new second-hand swing set which I purchased for the children on the weekend. Look at that view out behind! Never ceases to amaze me. :D

Two very neglected gardens receiving makeovers this week! The above one will be filled with the potted lavender below, and the other one has been claimed by Saraya. After-photos to come once we finish them off!

Sibling fun. These two are best friends and never seem to run out of ideas for creative play.

Apple tree covered in new growth.

A washing line filled with clean, drying laundry. Sometimes I resent the mountains of laundry I have to wade through, but today I'm thanking the Lord for clothes and washing machines and a beautiful place in which to hang our clothes as they dry.

A lone little sunflower in a very neglected vegetable garden, and oodles of parsely!

The autumn colours fade on our peach tree.....

... as it becomes covered in new buds and flowers.

Nectarine tree, covered in new growth.

A home more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Potato plants in flower. Hope there are some jewels below all that mulch!

A growing orchard.

Kittens to play with and cuddle.

Our dam glistening in the afternoon sun.

Pink roses blooming everywhere!

A toddler in training pants who followed me everywhere while I took photos this afternoon.

And who can peel his banana all by himself!

And dump the peels all over Mama's lap. ;)

So grateful tonight for all of these things. Life is good!


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