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.
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.
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.
This video is adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’
This video came up on my Facebook feed and I found it so very interesting. I wanted to share it on my blog, to see if others may find it just as thought provoking and helpful as I did.
My opinion after listening to the video…
Loneliness and disconnection is horrible, and can have a horrendous outcome on a persons life. We all need to feel we are loved, we belong, we are accepted and we have a sense of purpose. Withdrawing into isolation from others is a reaction, and the alternative is the need to be proactive in a positive way. To turn your life around can be very challenging for those who already feel inferior, unaccepted and worthless. Extremely challenging for those who have already opened the door to addiction as a way of escape to the daily pain that life brings them.
A desire to change takes commitment, lots of loving support, choosing to be vulnerable, and also huge bravery! You can’t do it alone! Building new relationships with the right people is a huge step forward. Good counselling, loving family and positive friendships! But the warning I give is that we should never allow others to give you your self esteem. If they can give it to you, they can also take it from you! We are all damaged people. Life can be amazingly wonderful, but it can also be cruel! What we put into a relationship comes not only from our choice to be the best to another and love them totally, but also from our life experiences, good and bad. And we make mistakes! We are human and that is one of the conditions of being human!
Praise God He loves us unconditionally, and as we are! He never gives up on us or leaves us. In Him we are loved, belong, are accepted and our life has purpose 🙂 To have a personal relationship with God is solid! It’s like having your house built on solid ground. When the storms of life come, you can rest assured that your faith in this loving God, will help you stand firm. ‘For God so loved the world (everyone… even you), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (NKJV). We are all equal at the foot of the cross! Everyone! There is no bias!
I know there are lot of people that disagree with me about faith in God, but no-one can argue with the peace that I have from knowing who I am in Christ 🙂 I have no fear for the future as my life is in His hands 🙂 He is my hope for the future and my ever present help for today.
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!
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!
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 🙂
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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?
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)
Of course I had to make him a cake for the occasion 🙂
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.
Mum felt just as special as Dad did, after all they are ‘one’ really, after 67 years of marriage 🙂
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.
It was so good to be able to have all our immediately family together again. A great opportunity to get a group photo!
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 🙂
I can’t believe it! I have made another blanket! I’m really on a roll at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying myself.
This time I used the disappearing nine patch block for the main part of the quilt and then added a border and binding. The material is a Riley Blake fabric and is very pretty and bright. I’m not actually sure if I will give the blanket away or keep it for myself to enjoy. I have never made one for myself as I usually have a person in mind, or a reason for making the blanket before I start.
Here are the instructions…
Now you can try out the disappearing nine patch block on your own blanket. I suggest you make a little babies blanket first so you can practice before commencing a larger one. It really isn’t hard and looks great when finished. It’s one of the first block patterns that I tried, and I have been really happy with the finished blankets. If you look up patchwork in the categories, you can see my previous quilts and blankets. See if you can find the other disappearing nine patch ones 🙂
There is nothing like a baby being born to get me in the mood to create!
Over the years I have made hundreds (a slight exaggeration) of bibs, cuddle blankets, leggings, little tops, cardigans and bootees. And, if you search through my past blog entries you will see that for my youngest three grandchildren, I made each of them a crochet blanket, and I also made them patchwork ones.
Robins niece had her second little baby girl on the 18th of April. It’s nearly a month later, and today I finally popped in to meet little Fable and give her our gift! I spent all day yesterday finishing the blanket off, and it turned out great! (even if I must say so myself) I was so happy with the finished blanket that I thought I would share the process with you, my reader. There are often little tricks with Patchwork that make something that looks very complicated, actually quite easy to put together. Of course the material choices make quite a difference to the finished product as well, and that is often trial and error. Luckily the combination of fabrics looked great this time.
Awhile ago Spotlight had a sale on and I purchased 8 different materials that would blend together, and about a quarter of a metre of each one. I then purchased two different plain fabrics that matched one of the colours in the fabric pieces. I got approximately a metre and a half or two metres of this solid colour fabric.
So here are the instructions…
Now I find that there is no greater pleasure than to give a gift that you have hand crafted. I pour my love into the blanket as I sew it up and I imagine the little baby that I am making it for, laying on it, kicking their little feet happily. I pray a little blessing on the child and hope that the Mummy enjoys seeing her child playing on the pretty blanket.
I also get a great sense of satisfaction seeing how the colours and patterns fit together. These two blankets had the inside panels the same and yet the outside borders were completely different creating a unique blanket for each child.
I hope that the instructions are clear enough and you can now be bold enough to attempt your very own patchwork quilt or blanket. Let me know how it goes! Send me a photo of your one finished so I can enjoy the colours and patterns that you have created.
The first half of our year is full of celebrations starting with Robin’s birthday on the 2nd of January. This year was his 60th and we celebrated his day with a lovely wine tour in the north of Sydney!
C5’s birthday was on the 15th of January and G2 turned 9 on the 29th. Within that week we had G5 turn 1 on the 4th and then on the very next day G3 turned 9! Phew! But that doesn’t end the February birthdays. G1 and C6 both had milestone birthdays, with G1 turning 18 and C6 21 on the 24th! Yes they share the same birthday. G1 is now at University, and we are very proud of the beautiful young woman she has become 🙂
C6’s 21st was a biggie! And I decided to do most of the decorating myself! And did I have fun!
Let’s start with the cake…
We hired out a local club and had a wonderful evening together. C6 is my baby and to think she is now 21 is unbelievable. Where have those years gone? C6 is very talented, and a beautiful young lady. I am very proud of her 🙂
The birthdays haven’t finished yet! On the 18th of March we celebrated G6’s 1st birthday with an amazing Star Wars themed party, which I have written about approximately three blogs down! Go have a look. It was the best themed birthday EVER!
In early April C2 came to New Zealand with daughter G7, and while they were staying here, I decided to put on an early 1st birthday for her. Her actual birthday is the 21st of April, but she would be back home in London by then. It was fantastic having them both to stay so it really was a double celebration! I purchased ladybug table napkins and decided to make her cake to match them. Here’s what it turned out like…
C3’s birthday was next on the 17th of April, and coming up next week is mine!
In August 2014, I left New Zealand for our second son’s wedding in Poland. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that after the wedding, we went on a Tour of the Balkans, all of which is written about on here with many photos of the wonderful sights and places visited. After the tour I flew to London to Nanny our youngest grandchild for three months, followed by a wonderful Christmas in Sydney. I finally arrived back in New Zealand mid January 2015.
Before I left New Zealand in the August I noticed that a small freckle on my right forearm seemed to be a little darker than it used to be. I wondered if I should be worried about it, but decided that it only looked like a freckle and should be okay. I told myself it was moles that you need to be worried about.
Because of the position of the spot, it caught my eye regularly, and I would touch it and pray that it was okay and nothing serious. But it definitely was getting darker and it seemed to have a little line running from it.
Our eldest daughter is a nurse and she remained in New Zealand while we had our overseas trip. We met up again four months later at our family Christmas in Sydney. As soon as Joanna saw my arm, she said that she didn’t like the look of the spot and that I needed to get it looked at by a Doctor as soon as possible. But I was in Sydney and still had two weeks holiday left!
By mid February I decided that I really should get it looked at and went to my GP. He wasn’t too sure about it but had another Doctor run a clinic monthly who did surgeries for unusual spots or moles. And I was booked in to see him!
On the 2nd of April I arrived for my appointment and as soon as I walked in the door, immediately the Doctor said he could see why I had come, he grabbed my arm, and said that it is a Melanoma! He was almost certain, and so was his wife, his nurse! Oh my goodness, why had I left it so long to get it checked out? Please get your spots and moles checked people!
It was cut out straight away and sent for testing.
Because I am on blood pressure tablets it bled fairly badly and needed internal dissolving stitches to help stop the bleeding. A clean dressing was put on a week later, and the stitches were removed a week after that.
So from one little mole to an inch long scar. But a scar I can cope with. What I was concerned about was that the Doctor said that if it did test out to be Melanoma, the most serious form of cancer, I could be dead within eight months! Oh, he also said that even if I had come along any earlier, and it was Melanoma, the prognosis maybe wouldn’t be any different. I had two long weeks to wait for the results!
Now for the emotions to set in! As a Christian, I knew and believed that God could heal! That Jesus took all our sickness on Himself when he died on the cross for us. I also knew that sometimes He doesn’t heal, that it isn’t always in His plan. So I was faced with the possibility that I may die a whole lot earlier than I wanted to! Yet I had prayed over that spot many times over the last eight months and I believe God hears our prayer. I also know of a couple of amazing Christians who died of cancer, even thought many people were praying for them. And I know people suffering the effects of cancer now!
I really was in Gods hands and had to trust Him completely for whatever the outcome. I actually wasn’t upset at the fact that I could die, we all are going to die eventually, but I was worried about the process of death (yet, still hoping that everything was going to be okay). I know that I have salvation, that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour. I also know that I have His Holy Spirit within, as a seal, a promise that I am a child of God. So I know that I am going to Heaven when I die. Yes, I believe in Heaven! But I also became more aware of the many people who have no faith in God, and no hope for the future, and are going through the same wait as I was. Is it cancer or isn’t it? Am I going to die? What are their thoughts about death, and heaven and hell? Do they think that when they die, that is it?
The big questions of life huh! I believe us humans are made of body, soul and spirit. The body is the flesh and bones. The soul is the mind, will and emotions. But the spirit of man is what relates to God! The Spirit in us is the hope of glory!
As we just had a long weekend, Anzac weekend, on the Friday I drove a three hour trip to Palmerston North to pick up my grandchildren and then the three hour trip back home to New Plymouth. This to be repeated again on Monday to take them back home. While I drive along, I choose to listen to podcasts. This time I listened to three different ones on the way to Palmerston North. I was so excited in my spirit when I listened to them because the explanation of Death, Heaven and Hell was just great and an applicable topic for me! I would love it if you my reader would have a listen and then leave your comments/opinions later on. I guess the sermons are for Christians, but I am sure an unbeliever would also find them great to listen to, ponder about, and maybe be challenged about, especially if you are facing a life threatening illness! And I don’t want any of my loved ones to miss out on this free gift of salvation. Your eternity depends upon it! Please listen with an open mind 🙂
After a L O N G two weeks, I phoned my Doctors to get the results of the mole and flesh that was removed. It was a Melanoma but in Situ! Which means that the cancer was contained to the mole region only. There was 4mm of clear cancer free flesh under the mole. I am now booked in to go and get a further piece of flesh removed as the preferred clearance is 5mm! Really that is minor compared to what it could have been.
From this experience I recognise the fact that none of us know what we could face in the near future. Our days are numbered, and we don’t know when our time is up. What we can be sure of though is where we will end up. The choice is ours to make! But it has to be made while we are still alive and living on this earth. Accept Jesus and His gift of salvation, or reject Him?
If you want to accept and believe I have a short prayer for you to pray…
Dear God in heaven,
I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin. You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour and according to His Word, right now I am saved. Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honour to you alone and not to myself. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
If you just cannot pray this prayer of salvation, as you aren’t quite sure about it all, just ask God to reveal Himself to you and I am sure He will. He loves you 🙂
Grandson 6 turned one year old on the 18th, and because his Dad (my eldest son Matthew) is a Star Wars addict, the theme for G6’s birthday had to be Star Wars! You must know the conversation from the movie between father and son! This pillow is one of four Star Wars themed ones that are on Matthew and Rebecca’s sofa!
Luckily C1 has a very accommodating wife who not only wanted to make G6’s birthday special, she also wanted it to be a celebration for C1 as well. After all, G6 is the treasured son after two beautiful daughters!
Here is the birthday invitation.
So the party planning began!
With the help of ‘Pinterest’ Rebecca began creating. One of the first things was a converted flip lid rubbish bin!
Isn’t it amazing! A perfect R2D2!
And who would have thought that swimming pool ‘noodles’ and a little tape would make great light sabers? Look at this container full just waiting for all the little Jedis to have a training session during the party.
And when ‘Luke’ the children’s party entertainer arrived, they all had a great time learning to ‘use the force’.
The best purchase I felt that D1 had made in planning for the party was a long roll of black plastic. Originally designed for cutting into lengths as table clothes, D1 also splattered white paint on lengths cut for the walls to create Galaxy scenes.
The main lounge became the dessert and Cake table and also the children’s dining area.
The dining room became ‘Hutt Dog Station’ where we had yummy Hutt Dogs, cute little Han Burgers and delicious Pizza the Hutts to eat!
The outside deck area became ‘Fueling Station Ergo’
And D1 purchased Star Wars accessories and labels to compliment the rooms that were set up for the party. Just look at the amazing entrance and backdrop for the photo booth. The Fabulous backdrop was created by ‘Little Dimple Designs’.
In this photo party boy G6 is in his mums arms (Princess Leia), with G1 dressed as a storm trooper, and G3 dressed in style as well.
And here is Dad, Darth Vader with his three children! (I told you it was the best Star Wars themed party ever!)
Now no party is complete without take home bags for the children. Just have a look at what these children got!
And that wasn’t all…
Very cute shaped cookies! Four different designs in each bag! And those cookies and even bigger ones were available for adults too, along with other theme based food 🙂
These were all on the sweets table or dessert table 🙂
There’s those cookies again and some with coloured fondant on top!
Leia’s buns were yummy cinnamon buns. Isn’t it amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination!
And now the masterpiece…
That is the most amazing cake! Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker on the top just make it! And it was the most yummy chocolate mud cake, rich and very moist! So delicious 🙂 Many thanks to ‘Cakes by Koo and Cupcakes too’
The table setting for the cake was perfect! The labels were from a purchase D1 made from ‘Hello My Sweet’ via Etsy.
Singing Happy Birthday to G6. I am sure he knew the day was all about him 🙂
The adults drinks were well catered for, but look at these very cute drinks for the children.
No kids party is complete nowadays without a Piñata. Rebecca made her own one to fit the Star Wars theme. Nothing better than a Death Star to destroy and free the goodies from inside!
Friends and family were invited to G6’s first birthday and each family group made the effort to dress appropriately with the Star Wars theme. They all helped to make the party extra special 🙂
How cute are these two little girls! And Mum and Dad look pretty great too 🙂
We had a few Princess Leia’s at the party but all the outfits were slightly different. This little Chewbucca was fabulous at nine months old 🙂
Yes, I think grown men like to dress up too 😉
We all had a fabulous time. And I am sure that G6 knew he was the main ‘little man’ of the day. He loved it! Not a tear all day but a very happy little boy who thrived on all the attention.
Happy Star Wars first birthday to my very special grandson G6 xoxoxo
Mummy D1 is a very clever lady and she can now have a well deserved time of rest and relaxation. Three children’s parties in two months are over and each one very successful!