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.

Searching for truth.

As I am a Christian, I have always known that there are several differences between what we believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Salvation; and what the Jehovah Witness believe.

Because of events of the last couple of weeks, I have once again been thinking about the differences between our doctrines. I feel very sad that people who love God, and have a desire to live for Him, and generally think that they are pleasing God, are actually living under deception.

Just take the name Jehovah for one thing. There is no J in the Hebrew language. The letters making up the name of God in the old testament sound more like Yahweh. That is the name for God that is more correct than Jehovah, yet the name Jehovah has become very important in the Jehovah Witness faith and in their bible translation.

Now if you really want to know what the names of God are, and the meaning of those names found  in different verses of the Bible, here is a link to a great resource…

https://www.gotquestions.org/names-of-God.html

So, I have been reading the New World translation and comparing it with the King James Bible. I have found words that are changed or missed out throughout the whole New World translation. I believe the King James Bible is a more correct translation, and I cannot understand why people of the jw faith, haven’t looked into the differences. Do they really want to follow the one true God? If they do, I am sure that a ‘thinking’ person would question what they are actually reading, instead of just blindly believing everything that they are told?

I have also found a great teaching on You Tube called ‘Jehovah Witness; beliefs, practices and errors. I found this video very informative. I am sure that if a Jehovah Witness follower would just dare to watch this video, they couldn’t help but question what they are doing with their life. So my challenge to you, any jw reader of my blog, do yourself a favour, and just have a look! If you are so sure that what you believe is true, what is the harm? God gave you a free will. The only one you should be worried about pleasing is God alone. The elders and leaders of the Jehovah Witness faith shouldn’t dictate to you what you can read or listen to. As I said I am a Christian, and have been for many years, and after looking into what Jehovah Witness’s base their doctrine on, I cannot believe that people belong to this group! So please, have a look at the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE5KQHf8fX0&t=784s

But, you know what? God loves you and He loves you so much that He sent His son Jesus to die in your place. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of His death and resurrection, we can have right standing with God. We can be forgiven and washed clean!  All it takes is a repentant heart and the desire to become a true child of God.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 10:9 and 10  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 10:13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

 

 

Star Quilt

I’m a real Pinterest fan, and I love getting my inspiration for making quilts from other peoples designs. I See a picture of a finished quilt I really like, and then follow through to the web page of the creator of it. I look to see if there are instructions for making a similar quilt, and then try it our for myself. This is probably the reason why I like to write up my quilt making process, and load up some photos. I hope that someone is helped along their quilting journey, by checking out my posts on pamperstamper, or some other persons blog.

The link below was the quilt I fell in love with, and decided to copy. If you open up the link you will see that there are wonderful and descriptive instructions on how to make this design. I have also taken photos of the journey of creating my quilt. You will see the similarity 🙂

Charming Stars Quilt

1. Pick your colours. Cut out all the squares, and place them in the way that they look their best to you
2. Four of the squares in each block will need the smaller squares sewn into two corners
3. Continue to sew the smaller squares into the same patterned material. Trim to sewn edge and iron flat
4. You will end up with a pile of stitched and unstitched squares that will create your block
5. Join the rows of three squares and iron the seams in the same direction for the top row and bottom row, but the other direction for the middle row. This will help the next lot of stitching line up easier
6. You now have a completed block. Continue to do the same with the rest of the blocks for the whole quilt
7. I used the little squares that were cut off the corners to fill in between each block, and also strips of the same material as the star. In my quilt I chose white
8. Continue to join all the blocks in rows using the white strips. Make a joiner row using just the while strips and little blocks, and then join all the rows together
9. Now you can border, layer, and bind your quilt.
10. I chose to topstitch my quilt by outlining the stars and blocks. I was kind of pleased with how the back of the quilt looked. It had a pattern of it’s own

Can you believe how easy it is to make that wonderful star pattern block with just 9 initial squares of material? Having the centre block, the little squares that are cut to make the points, and the strips the same colour makes the stars stand out. This could be a great quilt for using up lots of scrap material. You could make the quilt using different materials for every block.

Maybe I could make that next time?

Now if I have encouraged you to try making this patterned quilt for yourself, please let me know how you got on. A photo of the finished product would be great. I look forward to your response.

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?

Easy Zips and Binding a Cushion.

I have been sewing for years, having learnt most of my techniques from my sewing teacher at high school. That was approximately 46 years ago! Over time I have been able to sew most things, so my teacher did a pretty good job of teaching me. Having a seamstress as a sister was also pretty helpful, and she was great for giving advise or help when needed.

About 6 months ago, I decided to recover the squabs in our caravan, and looked to ‘You tube’ for instruction. I  wanted to make box shaped squab covers. I had the idea of how to make them, but watching a video of someone else sewing these covers, helped to confirm the technique. It was while I was watching them, that I saw of a new process to me, of putting zips in. And I used that process on the squab covers. It was so much easier and quicker than my old way.

Here is the process.

I am making a cushion cover and this is a fat quarter that I am using for the back of the cushion. It needs an opening for the soft pillow insert. The best way for that opening, is to put in a zip that is just under the size of the width of the cushion. I have folded over the top of the fat quarter and sewn a seam about a half inch in. This seam is sewn in the biggest stitch possible, as it will be taken out at a later date. A big stitch length is easier to unpick!

Cut open the fold

Overlock the seam edges, and press open the seam.

Now place the zip on top of the seam, making sure that the zip opening is right on top of the sewing stitches.

Sew the zip in with the zipper foot on your sewing machine. It is a little tricky around the zip pull. I stop sewing, adjust the zipper pull, and then restart sewing again.

You can see by the photo above, that I have stopped sewing about 2 inches from the edge. This is so I can undo the seam a little to allow the zip pull to move away from the sewing machine zipper foot. Now just finish sewing the zip in.

This is what it looks like on the good side of your cushion cover

Carefully use your seam ripper to undo the first seam that you made

And you now have a zip in the back portion of your cushion cover. How easy was that?

I had already made the front of the cushion cover.

As I like to bind the edge of the cushion, all I have to do is place both pieces together and overlock the edges. This helps to keep it all neat and tidy while you commence the binding.

The two pieces are held together by the overlocked edges. Note both good sides are facing out.

For the binding, I cut strips of material at 2 and a 1/2 inches wide. Place the corners at 90 degrees, good sides facing each other, and stitch diagonally across both pieces

iron the seam open

and cut the edge off to leave about a quarter inch

Press the seam open again, nice and flat 🙂

Make sure that you have enough binding to go right around the edge of your cushion. You need to leave an nice long tail as you start sewing. When you have gone around, stop about 8 inches from the start point. You will need to lay the long tail from the start on top of the binding left over at the finish. The overlap needs to be the same size as the width you cut the binding. Mine is 2 and a 1/2 inches. Cut the two and a 1/2 inch overlap and discard the rest of the binding. You can join the two together , and you will have the exact amount left to finish off binding the whole cushion.

When you get to a corner, you will need to sew up to a quarter inch before the edge. Turn the material, and sew off the corner. Fold the binding back on itself and then down the direction of the next side. You can then put the pressure foot down, and keep sewing. This will make a perfect corner when you turn the binding over to the back.

Fold the binding around to the back and stitch into the ditch on the good side. This will catch the binding on the back and sew it all down nicely. You will need to fold and turn the corners to match with the front.

Undo the zip and insert your soft pillow insert and zip up again. You now have a completed cushion to admire and cuddle up to 🙂

The challenge is for you to make one as well (or more). Follow my instructions and make a few scatter cushions for your home, or as gifts for friends and family. Please send me a photo of your creation in the comment section below 🙂

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!

 

Addiction!

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.

 

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.

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5197223?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5232994?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

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 🙂