Covid19 Lockdown at our home!

When the new year ticked over, I felt such hope and promise for a wonderful 2020. In fact my first Instagram post for the year said ‘I have decided that 2020 will be a ridiculously amazing year’. Today, I woke up with similar excitement. I decided that no matter what the circumstances are, I am going to have a great day. I had a delicious breakfast with lots of yummy feijoas. Our neighbour gave them to us over the fence a couple of days ago, making sure we kept our 2-3 metre separation of course! Actually this neighbour and I have chatted over the fence more in the last week, than we have in the whole 22 plus years that we have been neighbours. See! Good does come out of bad situations.

Back to today. While eating breakfast, I had worship music playing and I was singing and humming along with my faith in God strong and sure. ‘Waymaker’ is an amazing song that speaks truth about God working in this world and in lives without us even knowing what is going on, or what the outcome is going to be. We just KNOW that He is working in our midst, and we praise Him for it. He is the way maker, a miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness, my God, and that is who He is! I had found a recipe that I had post onto my Facebook last year for a feijoa loaf, and planned on making this loaf straight after breakfast. Life was ticking along nicely, no big dramas, everyone was happy and entertaining themselves without conflict. So peaceful and my heart was happy.

And then, once again, before I could gather myself, I was once again in stress mode! The strong-willed youngest argued over a teaspoon! A teaspoon! She wanted the bigger one, not the one I gave her! There is always a trigger. My response should be ‘walk away’, but when these so-called little things happen ALL THE TIME, I react! And ultimately, I’m the one who suffers! This is the reason that Grand parents should not be in the role of a parent. We aren’t young and don’t have boundless energy for the growing and disciplining of young children. We are getting old, and need to have life slow down and become more peaceful. Life with children isn’t peaceful! Well certainly not all the time!

Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday! We have been talking about Easter all weekend, and the significance of the cross and what it represents for each one of us. I’m so thankful for my salvation and the hope for eternal life because of the fact that death has been defeated by Jesus, and that He is alive! He has risen from the grave! Hallelujah! Read Romans 10:9&10. Believe, confess and you are saved. So, where did I spend Good Friday morning? Not at home celebrating, but at the accident and emergency department, trying to find out what this annoying rash is that has been on my chest for the past few days! Turns out that I have shingles!

What causes shingles? Stress! One of the main causes for Shingles in my age group is stress! I have been told so so many times in the last 4 years that I need to have more down time, to slow down and have less stress. But it is actually impossible! We have three children aged 14, 10 and 6 to care for and raise.  Living life with 3 children means that peace and harmony are virtually non-existent in our home, even though we as the adults are working hard for it.

Last November both my husband and myself developed Viral Conjunctivitis. A horrible horrible viral infection of the eyes, that cannot be treated by antibiotics, your body has to fight the virus in order for you to be healed. Four months later I was still having steroid drops in my left eye as there is still remnants of the virus in my eye. It has possibly caused permanent damage! When Corona Virus hit the world, my husband and I were very wary. We knew from personal experience that a virus is extremely hard to be healed of, especially if your immune system is low. To be raising three grandchildren in our 60’s means that we are constantly running ‘on empty’. The Corona Virus has put NZ in a state of Lockdown! That means for 4 weeks we are to stay put! No school for the children. No ability to distance from each other for a period of time, except for getting outside and doing projects around the house. My husband has been fortunate that he is still employed and is working from his home office. So from 7:30-5:30 Monday to Friday, he is ‘at work’, and I have full responsibility of the home and children’s needs.

The first couple of weeks seemed to be pretty successful. I made a schedule for the children which consisted of working in the areas of education, chores and exercise, to gain rewards of computer time, Playstation time and special treats. And because it was pretty much self-directed, I was able to find time to get out and sand and paint two walls of our house. A project that has been waiting a very long time to be completed. My husband also helped in the weekends. We also managed to pull out a lot of old tree stumps and add iron on a boundary fence. We have only 5 stumps left of about 20! I was feeling so positive and also elated that these jobs were getting done. But each day, there was housework, meals to prepare, check that the children were following the ‘program’ and also personal hygiene to take care of. Mostly, I needed to keep control of all these things whilst trying to get some freedom and alone time while doing outside chores. How people home school is beyond me. They must either have very compliant children, who have somehow grasped the idea that their education is a top priority in their life, or the parents are enforcing the ‘rules’ constantly in order to achieve the daily requirements! I personally can’t wait until the schools reopen. I thank all the teachers for willingly choosing a career that means they are surrounded by children for 6 hours everyday. God bless you! I need that school time break every day!

By the third week, I knew I was getting very tired and run down. I actually felt the challenge to slow down, but resisted because the sense of achievement was such a great reward and honestly a great feeling for me! I wanted to get all the delayed jobs completed before Lockdown finished. My mind was buzzing with all the plans I had, and even sleeping was broken and difficult because I couldn’t switch off.

Then the rash appeared!

Now to do a little reflection. I’m trying to ‘care less’ about getting the children to use the time as constructively as I was trying to do. I’m also trying to stress less and get more rest. I have to! This Shingles is slowly spreading from my chest to my neck and up to behind my ear, under my chin, and over my shoulder! I don’t want it in my ear or eyes as the prognosis isn’t good if you get shingles there! I have no control of it so I can only rest more and pray! I can still be thankful though. I am thankful that I’m loving Lockdown for the ability to stay at home and not have to meet all the daily commitments we used to have. Our weeks were so busy going places for this and that. I’m thankful for the internet, and the ability to keep in touch with family and friends via messenger video chats. I’m thankful that I have shingles and not corona virus (although shingles is so darn itchy and stingy). I’m thankful that I have constant companionship. Children may be hard work, but they are also great entertainers. I think I would be rather bored without them around. I’m thankful that these children are healthy, they eat well and they sleep well. I’m thankful that we get the opportunity to help show them what a good loving home should be (when I’m not overtired and stressed). I’m thankful to be able to give them the security that they have a stable home and that their daily needs are taken care of.

I’m sad that the children’s parents didn’t provide Easter goodies for their children. They didn’t even hear from their mother, in fact they haven’t heard from her since January. I took them down to say hello to their Dad for Easter (from the car). They had home-made cards that they wanted to give him. He was super happy to see them, but he had been drinking and was way too giggly and silly, and he didn’t have the promised Easter eggs for them. A 37-year-old parent who behaves more like a selfish irresponsible child than their own children do! I’m thankful that the children don’t see that behaviour, all they see is their Dad. They love him so much! They were so happy to see, and talk to him, and they quickly forgave him for his broken promise, in fact they excuse all his failings. Oh to love like a child!

PS I made the Feijoa loaf and it was delicious 🙂

Parenting all over again.

For the last three and a half years I have had custody and guardianship of three of my grandchildren. We brought them home on the 20th of December, 2015. It has been three and a half years filled with many wonderful and happy times, but also times filled with lots of worry, stress and extreme fatigue! Parenting full time isn’t meant for 60+ year olds, but sometimes you have to do, what you have to do! And under the circumstances, we had to!

Today must be a good day! I have been thinking about my life, and feeling thankful. I am so thankful for all the little things I get to be involved in with these kids. The list is endless!

Every Monday, after school, it’s gymnastics for all three. Tuesday it’s tap for Ella, and Basketball for Christian. Friday it’s Park City youth group (Pumped) for Jayden. And Sunday it’s church and Sunday school. Then everyday it’s the things that every family does with their kids. I get the happy good mornings and the last kiss and cuddle at night. The daily I love you, and the grumpy tired tantrums. I get to buy and pick their clothes, along with washing them, folding them and putting them away in their drawers again. I have even enjoyed sewing pretty dresses and dance clothes for my little granddaughter. I love to see her dancing in her special Nana made clothes.

I’ve seen the first day of kindergarten, the first dancing lesson, the first day at school, the first nervous day at high school. The annual dental check ups, the tooth fairy visits and all the excitement that comes with that.

I’ve cuddled them when they have been sick. Made the trips to the doctors. Sought after the best treatments, picked up their medicines and supported them to health. I’ve also disciplined and dealt with bad behavior. And as any good parent does, I’ve talked about how they could do better next time. I’ve also taught to apologize and also the importance of forgiveness. What a privilege to speak wisdom into a child’s life!

I have loved organizing advent calendars and watching the joy each morning brings as we share the days up to Christmas. I’ve also had 4 Christmas mornings and days! Secretly buying the Christmas presents, filling the stockings and wrapping the presents. Sharing in their joy is heart warming.

I’ve made 12 birthday cakes and planned 12 birthday parties. Each birthday has had a theme where the invitations, decorations and cake, have all matched the special theme that the child has wanted. It has been so good to be able to bless them and see the happiness a birthday party gives them.

We have had many weekends away and holidays including two trips to Australia. We did a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs, spending time at Uluru! Then flew to Brisbane to experience the theme parks and beaches. We even had a weeks holiday on a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney! We stayed with my eldest and his wife, and another three of our grandchildren. The kids reconnected with extended family and we all loved it.

We’ve had a weekend of fun in Rotorua, a week away exploring Taupo and Mt Ruapehu. We have had a driving holiday to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island. We stayed at many places on the way there, and back, and saw all the tourist spots and highlights on our travels.

Right from the first day the children arrived at our home, and it then became their home, we changed, and created the surroundings to suit family life. We added swings, rings, bars, bikes, hoops and scooters. We made a special girls room for a little girl, and a LEGO table for building and storing for the boys. We made built in drawers in the wardrobes so the room space was bigger for play. We installed insulation in the outside walls to make the room warmer and cosy . I guess we were probably going to do that at some stage, but having two little boys in the room was really the motivation to get the job done.

I’ve brought the school stationery and covered the books in plastic wrap with pictures that are special to the boys. Brought lunch boxes that have separate little spaces for the different types of food, then prepared the food and filled the spaces, daily!!! Ahhhhh back to making school lunches!

I’ve been to the yearly triathlons, swimming sports, beach visits, sports games, parent teacher interviews and chats with the principal to discuss the children’s learning experience, or behavior!

We went to the pre high school days visit. Filled out the enrollment papers and then once accepted, returned to the school for the information day. I shared in the excitement and nerves of starting secondary school. Together we went to organize, and buy, the new school uniform. I had this experience with the little 5 year old as she started school as well. Both the start of secondary school and the first day of school are such momentous events in a child’s life. And I got to be the ‘parent’ to support, love and be there for each child! How spoilt am I?

As our household food needs have advanced from just two adults to a family of five, I have kept up with gardening, preserving, freezing and making jam. We’ve brought in bulk and tried to be as wise as possible with grocery purchases. We have had fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the garden to help with healthy living, and to teach the children the benefit of reaping the rewards from a little hard work.

So as I ponder the wonder, and struggles of daily life parenting our grandchildren, I wonder what on earth their parents are doing? What do they do with their day? What is their motivation for living day to day? What are the excuses they are making for not being a healthy influence to their children.

Wouldn’t you think that losing your children would be enough to motivate you to turn your life around? Wouldn’t you want to become the person that your child could look up to? Wouldn’t the thought of someone else bringing your children up, be enough to make you take the steps to sort out the mess you have made of your life? Everyone knows that a child needs to be loved unconditionally, have a home to come home to, food to eat, to feel that they belong, and that they are accepted and important to their Mum and Dad, and extended family. Does addiction mess around with your head that much, that you lose all sense of what it means to be a good parent? If so, I think addiction is a very selfish illness. And I feel very sad for the children. They must feel that they aren’t important to their mum or dad, and the feeling of being neglected by them must bring so much hurt! All I can do is try my best to provide the children with their basic needs, plus add a mighty dose of love, acceptance, value and a sense of belonging to each one of them. I hope and pray that with Gods help, I can do enough to help them to become whole and healthy, and eventually secure and contributing adults. That their sense of abandonment be replaced with the knowledge that both Grandad and I have opened up our home and hearts to them. That they have love and security here with us. We are on their side and we are their loudest supporters!

Young people please listen. When your parents warn you of the dangers of bunking school, being promiscuous, being lazy or selfish, taking drugs, or hanging out friends that are a negative influence on your life; please listen! Your parents love you and they only want you to have the best life that you can have. When you are feeling like being rebellious as a teenager (or anytime in life), please don’t think that just sampling drugs won’t hurt. They can give you an amazing feeling of euphoria, and can be an amazing way out from the normal humdrum way of life. But that feeling can become more desirable than living a clean drug free life. The high on drugs could make normal life seem dull in comparison, and the need for self control and self discipline, just too much like hard work. Believe me, taking drugs can totally mess up your thinking and your life! And it can end up being a full blown addiction!!!

Not only can addiction mess up your immediate life but it can also ruin your future. It can make it very hard to get a job or keep a job! It can take priority in your life where all you want is your next fix. Drugs will just mess with your head and cause you to forget the things that really matter, like your darling children! The effort it will take to clean up your life and become a healthy person again will seem overwhelming and way too difficult. But it can be done! It will be a long bumpy road but one well worth traveling. Get help immediately! Go and get some counseling and find out what it is that triggers your need to take drugs. If the pain of change is lesser than the pain of staying the same, you will make the change. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got! Be brave and get better not bitter.

In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine raising our grandchildren without my amazing man, their Grandad. And I am so very thankful for his love and support. Together we are honored, and yet exhausted, to be parenting all over again. These are great kids and we love them very much. Our lives are enriched because of them. And yes, I am thankful.

Chevron patterned Quilt

I’ve always loved the Chevron pattern. I have made two crochet blankets in a chevron pattern, and now I have also made a chevron patchwork blanket.

My first chevron crochet blanket.
The chevron pattern looks great!

This blanket was suppose to be for our youngest Grandson. He was born November 2016. I made it in pure New Zealand wool, but it ended up being so heavy. I would have to pay a fortune in postage to get it to London, where he lives. My eldest daughter now uses this blanket at work. On a cold day it is perfect to wrap around her legs and keep her toastie warm.

Great colours for a little baby boy 🙂
This photo shows the colours better

This was my next attempt, and I am really pleased with how it turned out. I made it out of acrylic, which is really great for wash and wear. It was also much lighter and cheaper for postage 🙂

Look how snuggly this blanket turned out! Little grandson is tucked up nice and warm in his Nana made blankie.

Now onto sewing Chevron. It is actually a whole lot easier than it looks. In fact with patchwork, there are often little secrets to the sewing that make the whole process a lot easier than you think. Thank goodness for that, because, by nature I am a rather impatient person, and to have shortcuts really suits my personality.

Here is the process I used to create my quilt.

Start off with two piles of square cut materials. One pile is plain fabric. I used calico. The other pile has a number of each colour. The amount depends on how big you want to make your quilt
Place the two squares together, good sides facing each other, and sew a quarter inch seam right around the outside joining the two pieces of material together
Using a cutting mat and quilting ruler, cut diagonally in both directions
You will end up with 4 new squares from each of the original squares. These ones have a join in the middle and have two different materials
Once all the squares are cut and pressed, lay them all out to work out the pattern and colour scheme you want
Sew each row together and iron the seams one way on one row, and in the opposite direction on the next row.
I keep the rows in order as I sew, so it is easier for ironing and joining
Now you sew the rows together. As you sew them together, you will notice that they fit together nicely when the seams are ironed opposite.
once the mail chevron pattern is sewn together, you can pick how you would like to border the quilt. Put the layers together and do your top stitching
I’m lucky to have a lovely big craft room with two big tables that I can spread my quilts out on. This makes putting the layers together a little easier. I love the curved safety pins that I can use to temporarily hold all three layers together while I do my topstitching.
I do all the topstitching with my cheap brother sewing machine. It has served me well, I can tell you. I roll up the quilt, and slowly feed it through as I sew. This is a process that requires lots of perserverance and patience. I do my own topstitching as I am too scroogey to pay for it to be done professionally. I’m quite happy with the finished effect.
The finished product

To finish my quilt, I did multiple rows of stitching on the outside border. I then sewed the binding on and it was complete. I love it and it has become my quilt that is used the most. I can just throw it in the washer and it comes out great. A very practical quilt that is pretty to look at as well 🙂

I hope you can follow my instructions and create your own Chevron Quilt. You can finish it off to your own liking. Please post a photo of yours in the comments below. I would love to see what you create.

Taylor Swift in Melbourne 2015

This was one of the best impulsive decisions I have ever made.

Years earlier, when my two youngest were teenagers, they used to sing Taylor Swift songs all day long! I got to know the songs pretty well, and I really liked them. I appreciate that Taylor is a very gifted musician and singer, and always thought it would be great to see her on stage one day.

So in August of 2015, I’m sitting at home, with my iPhone beside me, when an alert arrived. It was Air New Zealand advising that Taylor Swift has added another concert to her Melbourne tour. The tickets could be purchased immediately and only a limited number available! Her two already planned concerts were sold out! That was enough for me! I purchased 4 tickets! This was a travel, airport transfers, accommodation, CD, T-shirt and show pass deal. The show wasn’t until December, but that gave us enough time to organize life to fit in with this impulse buy… I hoped!

It all worked out nicely, and in December us girls took off for Melbourne to see Taylor perform. I think I was actually the most excited!

Us four at the Airport!

Two sisters, and two daughters 🙂

Us four very excited ladies on the transfer from the Melbourne airport to our Hotel.

The bonus was we had all afternoon free for shopping and then again the following morning. Melbourne is a great city for shopping!

Looks delicious huh!
and a bit of sight seeing

As it happened, my eldest son was also in Melbourne for work! How great was that! We all met together and had a very nice lunch and catch up 🙂

At the show and waiting for it to start
And there she is!

This girl can entertain! And her talent is amazing. The whole show was just wonderful, and I was just stunned at how many songs I knew, and could sing along to. The show was well worth going to.

We weren’t too far from the stage, but every now and then Taylor would be standing on a platform which moved out and across the crowd. She ended up singing almost right in front of us! And what a voice! Who said that Nanas can’t enjoy a good rock star hey!

This November, Taylor has another show. This time it’s in Sydney, and my eldest grand daughter is taking my 12 year old grand daughter, her sister. Do you think Nana Pam should buy tickets and go join them?

Pink Minnie Mouse Cake

I thought it would be great to show you the process I used to make G5’s 4th birthday cake.

I decided to make her a vanilla cake. It is nice and plain and yet moist and tastes yummy. I doubled the mixture and it cooked nicely in 50 minutes.

Next was to even the cake, make it level and cover with butter cream icing.

Once covered with the buttercream icing, I put the whole cake into the fridge to harden the butter so I could smooth the icing ready for the fondant.

I was a little worried here as the cake was very cold and the fondant once rolled and placed on the cake, sweated and went quite shiny. It actually worked well for adding the next layer of fondant.

White fondant placed on top of the pink, so that the Minnie mouse face will eventually stand out. I just cut it with a wavy edge.

The next step was to print out an outline of Minnie mouse a few times and then cut out the layers on the paper. These layers were placed on the coloured and rolled out fondant and cut out with a sharp tipped knife. I was pretty pleased with how easy it was to do, and how it all fitted back together.

This was going to be my finished product, but I just wasn’t happy with the bow. It should be white spots not green!

I was suppose to put a lot of white dots in various sizes around the sides of the cake, but decided that little flowers would be prettier.

G5 is pretty happy with her first look at her cake.
I brought the correct ribbon and made my own hair clip bow for the top of the cake. Bonus was that G5 has now got two bow clips to wear 🙂

The new pink bow with white spots looked great! I added white lettering to say Happy Birthday and a pretty pink number 4 candle. Around the bottom edge of the cake I rolled little balls of pink and white fondant and placed them all around.

Ella’s pink Minnie mouse cake

It turned out great, and G5 was very happy with her cake. You don’t even have to have lots of cake decorating products. I have a mat that I purchased from Ikea to roll the fondant on. This mat can roll up with the fondant on it, and then I unroll the fondant over the top of the cake. I guess that mat is my one purchase that I can’t do without. The playdoh letter cutters have been used many times, and they aren’t even sold as cake decorating things. The rest can be cut out with a paper pattern and a sharp tipped knife.

I hope that you are encouraged to give this cake a try. Let me know how yours turns out. Maybe you can add a photo of yours in the comments 🙂

Cake Creations over the past 2 years

Since late 2015, I have had three of my grand children living here at home. Our third son, their Dad is living here too. The empty nest didn’t stay empty for long! So I am back to having a pre-school child back in the house, and two primary aged kiddies, and I love it. Just when we were slowing down, and getting a little selfish with our time, we now have these wonderful children to help us to think young again, and give us plenty to do 😉

And I have had the opportunity to once again create some children’s birthday cakes. The first grandchild’s cake I made was actually for G7, who lives in London. Her daddy and her came for a months holiday and she was turning one just after she arrived back in London. I wanted to give her a New Zealand birthday as well. I found a very cute birthday party set of cups, plates, napkins and table cloth of a pink ladybug. I copied the picture of the bug and made that the design for the cake.

The table decorations and the cake
I made some cupcakes as well, and we needed balloons, of course
The birthday cake banner

The first of the three who live here was the oldest of the three, G2. He turned 10 late January, 2016. He is really into minecraft! He watches you tube videos of people playing the game, plays it on the PS3 and talks about minecraft all the time!

Here is his cake.

Cake number 1.

This was such an easy cake to make. Just a simple round cake, green fondant with little fondant squares cut out in various shades of green, fondant letters cut with playdoh cutters, and minecraft ‘lego like’ blocks. Jayden also liked creeper and wanted a minecraft creeper cake, so I made him an extra cake as well. This was a pretty simple cake to make as well.

Minecraft cake number 2

Next birthday was just one week later and that was G5. I had decided on making her a Barbie cake with the doll in the cake and the cake as a dress. Daughter C5 brought the Barbie doll while I made the cake. Once putting them together I realized that to get to doll to fit the cake, I would need to cut her legs off, or make an extra cake to make the dress part bigger. It was getting late into the night and I had a bright idea to use doilys instead. G5 was turning two, and I didn’t think that she would be too fussy, she just wanted a cake. He is how it turned out 😉

With a bit of imagination, I extended the dress for Barbie 😉

And with the added cupcakes for the party.

Ella’s cake and cupcakes

G5 was a very happy little girl and I was quite happy with the finished product.

The next birthday was in the May, when G4 was turning 7. Look at his cake! It was a big one!

Super Hero Theme

I had so much fun making this cake. I had brought the party supplies from Spotlight so decided to make the cake to go with the table decorations. G4 loved it. He is a very active little boy and it suited his personality totally. We even went to a indoor trampoline park for his party. He and his friends jumped around like superheros the whole party!

Skip the rest of the year, and we are now back to G2’s Birthday. This time his 11th. The theme for this party was Pokémon. This kid collects Pokémon cards, and has about 4 albums full of them! He also likes, and knows the names of heaps of the Pokémon characters. So it HAD to be a Pokémon cake and themed party.

We started off G2’s birthday with a Pokeball hunt. Each Pokeball had a little character inside.
The Pokemon party table and decorations
G2’s Pokemon cake

So, I am now getting lots of practice making Birthday cakes again. The week after G2’s birthday is G5’s birthday. This time (after searching Pinterest) I decided in making her a princess themed birthday, making her cake out of lots of cupcakes. It was lots of fun, and I had to stop myself from putting too many decorations on the cake!

Princess G5’s pretty princess cupcake dress cake
The Princess party table and decorations

For G5’s birthday celebration, we went to the movie Ballerina with some friends. G5 had party bags to give her friends at the movie.

Party bags for Ella’s princess party. We even went to the movie Ballerina, and the girls were able to eat the goodies during the movie.

After G5’s birthday in the February, I travelled to Sydney for G6’s 3rd birthday. Now, I didn’t make this cake, but his Mummy did, and she did a great job. G6 loved his cake and he had a wonderful birthday party.

Happy G6 with his Cars cake!

In May 2017, came G4’s 8th birthday. By now I’m loving Pinterest! And as I was looking for easy boys cakes, I found this one! It became the theme for his birthday, and presents!

The Incredible Hulk Cake. And a very happy G4 🙂
Incredible Hulk hands around the cake!

2018 came along pretty quickly, and I have now made another two birthday cakes. First is G2 again late January. He turned 12 this year, and decided that he was quite happy with having a plain cake rather than a themed and decorated cake. Phew! He still had to have a cake though. And this is what I came up with. He was happy 🙂

A nice simply iced cake

His cake had two layers. A Vanilla cake for one layer and a chocolate cake for the other. I put the layers together, and iced all over, with vanilla buttercream icing. Broken flake chocolate for the top, number 12 candles, Jaffas (chocolate/orange lollies) around the bottom edge and it was finished! It lasted all of two days!

While shopping in Spotlight one day, I came across a pink Minnie Mouse party pack and decided that as G5 has a Minnie Mouse that she cuddles and plays with a lot. Pink Minnie Mouse should be her birthday theme! I also brought some Pink Minnie Mouse Curtains and decided that I could definitely make something out of them to fit the theme of the party.

G5’s pink Minnie mouse cake
Pink minnie mouse theme
Decorated for G5 to wake up to on her birthday morning
Before the food and cake was brought in. Cute pink minnie mouse plates etc. Look at our cute G5 minnie mouse!
The pretty pink minnie mouse skirts. I made 5 of them. One for each of the little girls that came to her party.

After her party and an all afternoon play at Rumpus Room indoor playground in New Plymouth, G5 thanked her little friends with her own little gift. In their gift bags were lots of Minnie mouse games and girly things, like bangles and ear rings and hair ribbons. Then they each got their skirts. We had 5 little pink Minnie mouse girls running around the playground, and 3 boys. They had a great time. I did too. All the preparation of food, serving the food, party games and clean up was provided by Rumpus room! So good 🙂

Christmas 2017

This Christmas has been wonderful! I have had all of my 6 adult/children home, along with their partners and children. The only one missing was our beautiful eldest grand daughter. She lives in Sydney, is starting a full time job as a nurse this March, and because of work commitments over the holidays, she had to stay home. She was certainly missed!

To get most of our family in one place and at the same time is a miracle!

We have one son, with his wife and two children, living in London; We have another living in Sydney, with his wife and three children; We have another son, and his wife, based in Sydney, but travelling all over the world; We have another son, and his three children, living here at home with us; We have a daughter living in Auckland, New Zealand; And we have another daughter living in our home town who is in the process of building a new home. Can you see how amazing it has been to actually get them all home?

We have had 17 of us living together over the holidays, and actually 18 for a couple of nights. My home has been full, and I have been so happy. A happiness that fills me to overflowing. It’s so hard to describe, but I feel like I am in love with each of my family members all over again! They are all great people, and I am so proud of each and every one of them. I am so happy with how they all embraced the time together, and how they all loved each other in spite of all the differences between us.

In honour of having us all together, I wanted to have a few family photos taken. I love photos, and the memory moments they give us all, forever! My eldest daughter is a very talented photographer (and the second to eldest as well), so we arranged a time, and a place, and C5 took some photos. The last time we managed to get group photos taken was in December 2009. We have had four more grand children born since then, so I felt we really needed an updated photo.

Family photo from December 2009
Family photo from January 2018

Oh my, we have all aged in the last 8 or so years! But those years have been great, and we have all matured in personality, character and experiences. I can imagine the many stories each can tell from those past 8 years.

Our 4 grand children from December 2009
Our Grand children from January 2018. Our eldest grand daughter is missing from the photo.

The three eldest in the back row are the three with our eldest grand daughter in the photo above this one! Four more grand children added and three of them were born in 2014 in February, March and April!  Three grand children born within three months 🙂 The youngest grandson turned one last November.

If you have visited my blog before, you will see that I now have a new blog header (that is the photo you see when you get to my site) and that header is our new family portrait! That is my whole family, minus 2! Our eldest grand daughter and one daughter in law are missing, but all of my adult children are in there, and their families.

I love it!


Tongariro Alpine Crossing

For the last 15 months we have been opening our home to airbnb guests. It’s been really interesting. We have met so many lovely people, and we now have new friends from all over the world! For reasons which I will explain later on in my post, I have filled in the availability calendar for our home, so it is unavailable for a time, but we did have two guest rooms which have been well used. Here are the links to those rooms if you would like to have a look.

The summer months seem to have been the most popular for tourists visiting New Zealand. The most common places of interest that our visitors have been to see before they got to our home in little Waitara (Taranaki), has been the Waitomo Caves and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Most of our visitors travelled south from Auckland and were making their way down to the South Island, where they planned on driving down to visit Queenstown. The popular cities that I heard mentioned visited in the North Island were Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo. And, of course, I would promote a visit to our local city of New Plymouth, of which I have already written a blog post about!

New Plymouth – It’s a fabulous city!

When our guests spoke of the wonderful experiences they had seeing the Waitomo Caves, and walking / tramping the Tongariro Crossing, I would feel slightly guilty. Here I am a New Zealander, and I haven’t even been to either of those places myself, well I hadn’t! But I have now. In April I took my grandson to the Caves 🙂 We only went through the Glow worm cave but it was fantastic. I have visited the Jenolan Caves near the Blue Mountains in Australia, and I have to say that the Waitomo Caves are equally as good. Definitely worth the visit.

In March I joined a group of local people to travel North to The National Park to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and I have to say it was the highlight of my year so far! It was amazing, and what a sense of achievement to have completed it! Yes, I can definitely say it was on my bucket list (after hearing about it so much from our visiting tourists) and it has now been ticked off!

The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.
The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.
Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing :-)
Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing 🙂
This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.
This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.
The only toilets en route!
The only toilets en route!
One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!
One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!
Mt Taranaki way in the distance
Mt Taranaki way in the distance
Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit
Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit
further along the long plain
Further along the long plain
Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe
Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe
Looking over the edge :-)
Looking over the edge 🙂
Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer :-)
Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer 🙂
That was much harder to climb than it looks!
That was much harder to climb than it looks!
The big climb up to the Crossing peak
The big climb up to the Crossing peak
Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park
Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park
The last slope upwards
The last slope upwards
The view of an old vent on the volcano
The view of an old vent on the volcano
another view of the old crater vent. Can you seee the people climbing across the other side?
Another view of the old crater vent. Can you see the people climbing across the other side?
Daughter Joanna looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below
Daughter C5 looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below
Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind
Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind, and the Tongariro summit ahead 🙂
Joanna with Ngauruhoe behind her
C5 with Ngauruhoe behind her
Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!
Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!
My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her
My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her
Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro
Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro
From the summit looking back to the crossing
From the summit looking back to the crossing
The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark
The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark
Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea :-)
Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea 🙂
Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight :-)
Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight 🙂
The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort :-)
The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort 🙂

After four long years of just having my husband and myself at home, this year has completely changed for us. We now have two of our adult children living back home, and we also have three of our grand children living here with us as well. We are so spoilt to have company all the time, and activity filling our lives. Children are great at keeping you young. So, this is the reason that our airbnb is now closed for a time, but I am very thankful for the time we had our guests staying here. If it wasn’t for their wonderful recollections, telling me about doing the Tongariro Crossing, or seeing The Waitomo Caves, I probably wouldn’t have put the effort in to see them for myself!

Now I can be the ‘expert’ when we eventually open our airbnb again.

If you have 20 minutes to spare I have also made a movie file of the crossing 🙂

Scrapbooking while in Sydney November 2015

I know…   I know…  I seem to always be in Sydney 🙂

Eldest son C1 and his wife had a trip to Las Vegas for a conference and some fun as well, and I am here to look after the two youngest grandchildren. The eldest is now 18 and very independent. She is studying to be a nurse, has a part time job and drives herself everywhere 🙂 I am feeling extra blessed to be spending time with baby G6, who is actually not so much of a baby now. He is 19 months old and such a happy and busy boy. I’ve had so much fun with him 🙂

Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline :-)
Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline 🙂

And G3 has been such a great little girl while Mum and a Dad have been away. Every morning she got up and got herself organised for school, including making her own lunch. I had the priviledge of doing her hair some mornings 🙂

Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well :-)
Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well 🙂

I love to be productive no matter where I am, so while G6 has his afternoon sleep, and once the children are in bed at night, I have been scrapbooking. I love the feeling I get from creating a page and being able to finally look at the finished product. Mostly the pages are finished, but as I don’t have all my embellishments here with me, there will be a few little extra things I will add when I get back home.

This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute :-)
This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute 🙂
A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.
A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.
A portrait photo of Leeara and Jessica taken a few years ago.
A portrait photo of G1 and C6 taken a few years ago.
Simon and his boys Jayden and Christian. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.
C3 and his boys G2 and G4. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.
Christian talking to Uncle Ben on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.
G4 talking to Uncle C4 on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.
Leeara in Uniform and going to School. Her irst year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.
G1 in Uniform and going to School. Her First year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.
At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story :-)
At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story 🙂
Beautiful eldest daughter Joanna at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.
Beautiful eldest daughter C5 at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.
Photo of Leeara when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.
Photo of G1 when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.
Jessica and Leeara on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.
C6 and G1 on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.
My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat :-) Echo Park papers, this and that.
My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat 🙂 Echo Park papers, this and that.
Another Leeara page. I'm trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.
Another G1 page. I’m trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.
Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of Jayden and Christian while on holiday in New Plymouth.
Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of G2 and G4 while on holiday in New Plymouth.
Christian on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.
G4 on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.
Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.
Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.
Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.
Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.

I still have another two days left in Sydney and then it’s back home to get my gardens tidied up. I really want to get our vegetable garden producing some great vegetables for us over the summer. So it will be all go once I get home, and no time for Scrapbooking!

I wonder if I manage to produce another page or two before I leave?

I did it! Two more pages 🙂

Leeara amd Jess with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.
G1 and C6 with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.
These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper
These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper

And now it’s time to pack my bags!


The Seasons Of Life

Our family has just had a huge celebration! My Dad had his birthday and it certainly was one to celebrate. He turned 90 years old! That’s right 90! Not only was the age worth celebrating, but my Dad as a person needed celebrating as well. He is an amazing person! Always has been! I have been very blessed having him as my Dad. He is the best Dad a person could have (I’m not biased at all)

My Wonderful Dad!

Of course I had to make him a cake for the occasion 🙂

My second attempt at making a cake using fondant. The first was for my youngest daughters 21st.
My second attempt at making a cake using fondant. The first was for my youngest daughters 21st.

We had the party at my eldest sisters place, and us four girls and my sister in law made all the food for afternoon tea. People arrived from 1pm and stayed until approximately 6pm. At one point there were 80 people wandering around the gardens or sitting and chatting!  Dad had a great time catching up to old friends and family.

Cheers Dad! You are worth celebrating!
Cheers Dad! You are worth celebrating!

Mum felt just as special as Dad did, after all they are ‘one’ really, after 67 years of marriage 🙂

Ohhhh that's cute :-)
Ohhhh that’s cute 🙂

Only two of my adult children and their family were able to come to the party. My eldest sisters daughter came, along with her family as well. And, my brothers son came too.

Mum and Dad with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren that came to Dad's party.
Mum and Dad with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren that came to his party.

It was so good to be able to have all our immediately family together again. A great opportunity to get a group photo!

From Left to right - Myself (the baby of the family), Kerry (2 years older than me), Dad, Mum, Judy the eldest, Lynday (two years younger than Judy), and Rodney (the middle child and only boy of the family)
From Left to right – Myself (the baby of the family), Kerry (2 years older than me), Dad, Mum, Judy the eldest, Lynda (two years younger than Judy), and Rodney (the middle child and only boy of the family)

So I titled this post ‘The seasons of life’, because of the fact that my Dad and Mum are in the ‘Winter’ season of their lives. Thankfully they are well and still having a great time of ‘living’, although Mum is a little slower nowadays. I really can’t imagine life without my precious Mum and Dad to chat to, have our weekly family dinner time together, and have their continued input into my life. I have been blessed to have them both as my parents, and I am so very thankful.

Both Robin and myself (and all my siblings) are now in the ‘Autumn’ season. The times of our lives have gone so fast. When I was younger and surrounded with lots of children, each demanding my time and energy in some way or another, and I was frequently tired; people used to say to me that these years would pass before you knew it, and your children would be all grown up and left home. In fact, sadly, because of the busyness of life, I often wished that those years of freedom would come sooner. Now, I would love to go back in time and live through those years again. It was a wonderful life and I loved being a Mum to my young children. I loved the feeling of being vitally important in their lives. Now they are individuals, adults that are making their own way in life. Each unique personality doing it their own way, and I am so proud of them all. I am still important to them, but in a completely different way. And that is healthy. That is the way it should be!

Celebrate the seasons of life people. They move along so fast, they really do!  Memorise as many moments as you can along the way. Take heaps of photos, and journal your life. It will all be great to look back on, especially as you enter the less energetic seasons of life.

Yet in this Autumn season, there is still so much to look forward to. Robin and I now have the ability to make decisions about our lives, that no longer impact our ‘children’ like they used to. We can make plans for holidays together, have evenings out regularly, and generally do as we please. Does this sound selfish? I see it as a reward for selflessly parenting our children first and foremost during their formative years, and into adulthood. We can now become a ‘couple’ again, and enjoy the wonders of discovering life together as a couple.

Yes! This season of life is great!

PS…. As part of my celebrating ‘who I am’ in my Autumn years, I have decided to let my grey show! It has been a great topic of discussion, I can tell you. But I am happy with who I am. I don’t feel the need to impress anyone, or feel I need to try to keep young looking. I am actually loving my hair, and wish it was actually white all over. And you know what…. it is very freeing 🙂