Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's Time

I've been contemplating for some time whether it is time to finish blogging, or whether it is time to pick it up and run with it again.

I've decided it's time to go.

I have loved blogging.  There's something so empowering about the creativity and freedom of being able to express myself through words and pictures here, of being able to write and write and write, or capture a moment with a single image.  I've loved having the outlet, and for the past six months or so have been hanging onto the idea of returning to write again.  But my life has changed.  Drastically.  It was always going to.  I've one year left to complete my degree.  Boyo has started work.  We've moved towns.  Munchkin will begin his schooling journey in the next year or so (we have already made the decision to hold him in early childhood at least until he is five and a half...long story but the basic gist is that children are not actually required to attend school till age 6 in NZ, although every seems to think they must go the day they turn 5. People tend to ask if there's something not-quite-normal developmentally for him.  No.  We simply think this is the best option for him.  He's got thirteen years of school ahead.  Why not let him play for six months longer?!).   With all the changes for our family, I don't have the same time that I once did to blog.  Or rather, I feel that I need to prioritise my time towards other things.  House things, most likely, as we plan on buying a house when our Liberty Trust Loan comes available next year (wahoo!!!!!!!!!!!  It's coming due two years earlier than anticipated, right when we need it).  Between most likely renovating a house and transitioning into work, which includes completing two years of Teaching Provisional Registration paperwork, I think I'll be rather well occupied.  The other changes that have contributed to my lessening need/desire to blog have been among our extended family.  We now live almost next door to two of my main blog readers!  They'll see it in person so no need to write about it for them!  And our overseas family are getting regular (often daily!) photos and updates from us through free Aussie minutes, and WhatsAp messages.  I do so love WhatsAp!  We have family threads, in which anyone of us can put a photo, video, voice message, or text for everyone to see.  So you see, many of the people I was blogging for now have other ways of keeping up with our little goings on. 

So I will say farewell to you, readers.  I'm not saying for forever, because I suppose one day I might be back.  But it's unlikely, I think.  Thank you for reading and listening, for being an audience to my ramblings and musings.  It's been a wonderful journey of self-discovery and delight, this blogging journey.  I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store as I continue to walk with him on life's winding roads.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Getting in the Spirit

It's Christmas Eve tomorrow.

Seems a little surreal.

The tree is up.  I've been singing Christmas carols.  I'm about to put the fruit mix to soak overnight for Jesus' birthday cake.  Yet it still doesn't quite 'feel' like Christmas if you know what I mean?

But then I guess it didn't feel like an amazing event to Mary and Joseph as they trudged into the damp, smelly stable.  It probably felt like an average, cold winter's night as the shepherds settled their sheep while the sun sank slowly behind the horizon.  And it was.  On one dimension it was just another night.  Nothing extraordinary.  Nothing abnormal.  Just a small boy born into poverty, like oh so many others that night and every night since. 

But on another level, everything was different.  Our calendar is based upon this event.  Yearly, we celebrate it.  Christmas.  CHRIST mas.  The day, the moment, when the king of all glory laid down his rights, his title, his position of rulership and justice, to be one of us. The night he was born into abject poverty, cruelty and pain. 

He lived like us so that we can be like him.

And that fact remains regardless of whether or not I 'feel' like it's Christmas.


Monday, December 22, 2014

What a Year

A crazy, whirlwind, tumultuous year has just flown past.  I was looking at my blog last week and realised (with horror) that my last post to you was in April.  APRIL?!!?  Where has the rest of the year gone?  It feels like someone turned on a giant vacuum cleaner and just sucked it right on up, day after day, week after week, month after month.  I've been hanging onto a table leg, hair streaming, feet dragging, as time tries to suck me into the black too.

I didn't intentionally stop blogging, believe me.  You know I'd have told you, right?  If I'd decided.  But the thing is I hadn't.  I still haven't.  It's kind of just hanging in the balance.  Do I?  Don't I?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  It takes up time and brain space and energy that could be devoted to other things.  That's what I tell myself.  And it is essentially true.  What I sometimes gloss over though is that it's not all about the time blogging takes up, but more to do with my mental state of mind.  I have to think to blog.  THINK.  And thinking has been something that has been in short supply lately.  Or at least spare thinking time and brain space has been.  I've been thinking.  A LOT.  All the time, it seems.  Sometimes even in my sleep, haha.  I've been thinking about assignments, and getting a reading done before class, and when to spend some time with my husband or my son.  I've been thinking about a friend I should be praying for, or another that I need to catch up with but when am I going to do that?  I've been thinking about moving (yes, you heard right!), about settling into a new town when I didn't want to leave my beloved Bay.  I've been thinking about how to keep a house tidy and a child clothed in things that are not too small for him already (growth spurts are such a pain, although I'm grateful he is growing happily to be sure!).  I've been thinking about work, work for me, work for Boyo, how so much of life is work, work, work.  And how work is actually good for us, provided we take time to rest.  So of course I've been thinking about rest too, and how to make sure I actually DO rest regularly, and more than just vegetating in front of the TV, which seems to have been my standard solution this past six months or so.  See, there's the reason I haven't blogged.  By the time I get to a point in the day where there might be time to blog, I am so darn tired that my brain wants nothing more than to turn off and pretend like it's in a coma.  So not quite, but pretty close.  And TV is really good for that.  I couldn't work it out.  I blogged like crazy last year, while studying.  What's wrong with me?  Why can't I find words to express myself and stories to tell?  They're all still there, I was just struggling to find any momentum to share them with you.  So I'd just put it off another week or two.  Then another, then another.  And now suddenly here we are at the end of the year.  I can't honestly believe I am writing to you on Christmas week! 

My husband has a theory, and it seems valid.  He reminded me recently that I've been a full time student this year.  It's different.  It requires more of me than the part-time I've been doing for the past few years.  I think he's right.  There are way more assignments for starters.  Way more readings and more classes.  So more study-related-thinking.  Instead of energizing my bloggy-brain like it usually does, it sapped the life out of it, sucking up every ounce of available inspiration, energy, and words for use in those assignments (some of which were, just as an aside, rather large).  There wasn't much left over.  And what there was has been required to run a household.  I am making it sound a little like Boyo just wambled around not doing much all year.  He didn't.  He worked hard.  He worked hard at part-time work and at being Daddy.  He did all the weekly housework.  He cooked once or twice a week.  He had a large A4 book with a weekly list of all those extra things to get done, like mowing the lawns, getting petrol, calling the landlord, posting the birthday cards, etc.  He was amazing.  But I still did most of the groceries, cooking, and 'organising' which you know takes time.  Someone has to remember there's a birthday, make a card, get everyone to write in it, then ask hubby to post it.  You get the idea.  Grin.

Not that I'm digging for sympathy here.  Just trying to explain, both to you my dear readers, and to myself, why it is that we have come to the end of the year and I haven't talked to you, even a little bit, in eight months.

I guess moving didn't help.  That's my understatement of the year.  A story for another post, that one, as it is quite amazing in and of itself.  But in a nutshell, we have moved.  To another town.  Only an hour away from where we lived before but for me, being a city girl, it feels like a totally different world.  People drive slower here, there are less shops, houses are delightfully cheap to buy but sometimes sadly neglected.  And it is colder here.  Much colder.  There's family here, for which I am eternally grateful.  But I have left my parents behind.  Boyo has an awesome job, just the right fit for him.  It's incredible, honestly truly, a total answer to prayer in every sense.  After five years of waiting and looking, it was time.  After five years of wondering why he was always second on the list, he was finally first.  After five years of settling in our church, it was very suddenly time to leave.  I knew it might happen.  I'd been planning, working towards the maybe since we first heard about the job.  But it has still been incredibly difficult and there's more to come.  I have a degree to finish.  I started this past semester at a run, madly finishing assignment after assignment in order to clear a week for us to be able to move in mid-term break and ease my workload enough to survive the final 6 weeks of classes and assignments without Boyo.  He moved here with all our stuff you see, but Munchkin and I live here and there.  We are commuters.  Each week, we spend several nights at my parents' house (God bless my parents, how grateful I am to my parents!).  I attend classes, Munchkin continues to go to his preschool so he has something familiar and stable in all the change.  It works well, but it is exhausting.  I love the drive, that's not the issue.  It's the packing and unpacking, the organising of food and study stuff, the trying to work out when to do washing, and of trying to settle into a town I don't fully live in yet.  Work in progress.  Going to take time.  This is what I tell myself when I feel frustrated and lonely and discouraged.  I've got one year left to finish my degree.  One year.  Surely we can manage that?  Must be.  I felt really strongly, and still do, that this is completely right.  This is our path.  Rocky at times, steep and unyielding, but one day we will reach a summit and gaze back at where we have been realising just how much it grew us.  On that day we will look forward and be amazed at all the opportunities that lie ahead because we chose to follow this path.


ps - I just love the word tumultuous!  It just sounds so much like what it describes.  Tumbling head over heel, head over heel, blown in the wind like one of those seed heads from a sand dune grass.  Churning like the waves against the rocks in a storm.  Yes, that has been my year.  But it is done and this week I can breathe deeply and remember Who walks with me and the sacrifice that enables Him to do so.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Lost: One Brain.
Somewhere between the beginning of the year and today.
If you find it wandering around aimlessly, looking forlorn and slightly bedraggled, please contact the owner.
It would be really helpful to have it back.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Child Free

Recently we had a whole week child free.

A number of people asked how I could do it.  They seemed frankly surprised when I said I wasn't missing my boy.  It's almost like they expected me to be almost falling apart.  "That must be hard, how do you do it?" they'd ask, wonder in their eyes.

Ah, well it's quite simple really, I give the child to my mother and don't think about them too much.  I have a rest.  He has an amazing time with someone who cares deeply for him. (Okay, disclaimer: I did think about him a reasonable amount.  And he was with the person in his world who can settle him when he is unhappy, which is always a helpful thing to know when your child is off far away on a big plane so you don't worry TOO much!).

So what did we adults get up to without a child in the house?

Well, wouldn't you like to know!  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  Shhhhhh....some things should remain a secret.  Okay, okay, I'll tell you...

I read a whole entire TWO NOVELS!  Ah, bliss.  We had icecreams.  Just us.  We went on a spontaneous visit outside town.  I did NO study for once, as it was mid year break.  And I can't remember what else, except that it honestly, truly didn't feel long enough before my delightful noisy, demanding, curious, huggable, lovable boy returned to us with tales of zoos, trains, boats, planes, uncles and aunts, and great adventures with his grandmother.

But I can tell you that we enjoyed a lovely bush walk.  One I'd hoped to take Munchkin on sometime, but am glad we did alone.  It would have been too steep for him, for at least a year yet.

We went to the Whataroa Falls at Otanewainuku.

We saw some gorgeous toadstools and lovely little robbins.

The falls were a bit of a disappointment.  See them, beside my handsome man?

Haha, did I fool you?  Those aren't the real ones.  Here are the real ones!

It was lovely to get outside and walk without worrying about when we might need to be home or whether it was too far for small legs.

I just love being out in the bush.  There's something about it that fills my soul to overflowing with calm and much-needed peace.  Is it the crisp air?  Or the quiet?  Or that I'm out walking and walking is wonderful exercise for me?  Is it all that green, which soothes the eyes?  I think I must be about due for another bush excursion, all this talk of it is making me lonesome for a bushwalk!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Small World Play

Over a year ago I first made Munchkin a 5 little speckled frogs small world play set up.

I thought I blogged about it, but of course I can't find it!

It was just before we moved, hence why I know it was over a year ago.  It was the only imaginary play thing I could think of doing that didn't involve diggers and trucks, or needing to buy anything.  I got the idea from The Imagination Tree (see the original here). 

He absolutely loved it.

And spent hours playing with it, both with the frogs, and his own variations.

And over a year later, he still asks me to make "five speckled frogs" for him.

I don't quite know what the allure is, but something about it must appeal for him to remember.  We don't have it out often, but every few months the request comes and he spends time playing with his frogs in the little imaginary world we create.  This last time we ended up with a shell in there, from a wedding I attended years ago.  I love how things end up being reused in the strangest ways at times.  This was just recently...

Tomorrow morning he's going to wake up to something new...

I've been hoping to do some other little imaginary play things for him, especially now we have some other plastic animals, but somehow it never seems to end up on my to do list.  So after a weekend of having my dining table commandeered by a wooden ramp (taped to the table) and a car garage (perched precariously on top of the piano stool which was wedged on the other side of the table), together with a makeshift camping tent for several cars (made of some cardboard and containers on the dining table), and two duplo dragons and their friends the duplo robots, I had had enough.  I made him pack it all up.  But I softened the blow by promising to create him something new to play with.  It will be interesting to see what he does with it, considering past variations to the original theme (grin).

A mix of jungle on one side, and snow (with arctic pond and a ah, artic frog??) on the other.  We went to the snow recently which was a big hit.  Don't have any snow animals like polar bears or anything but goats and reindeer is close enough, right?  After all, it's all about using your imagination!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Earning Money When You're 4

I came across this article in our local paper about a month ago.

It really got me thinking.
Firstly, about teaching Munchkin about money (which I'd already been thinking about anyway).  Then secondly, about ways we can help prepare him for the future.
We're not exactly raking in our millions, so finding extra money for him to earn by doing jobs at home isn't particularly feasible.  Plus I want him to learn that doing chores at home is just what you do as part of being in a family and living in a house.  You don't do it because someone's going to pay you for it.  Heck, if I was expecting payment our house would never get vacuumed and we'd never be fed.  But while I want him to grow up with a good strong work ethic, focused on doing what needs to be done for self and community, I also want to train him how to manage money well.

This article gave me some ideas...

If you can't see if clearly, it tells of a young family who help their children earn money each week.  The 3 year old boy walks a neighour's dog for $5 a week.  But he doesn't keep that money.  It's going into a college fund for him.  Sounds a bit mean?  Short term pain for long term gain perhaps?  But the thing is that this boy loves dogs.  He's simply being paid for a hobby.  And his parents are helping instil in him the ability to wait and to plan.  Their daughter has friends over for baking lessons.  Their parents don't mind contributing towards it because their kids get a fun activity that doesn't involve their time or their kitchen getting messy!  I like how this idea is social, as it's time spent with her friends as well as saving money for her University fees.  Now it really is work for the parents as well as work for the child.  The parents have had to initiate this, and keep their children interested and persisting with their money earning.  But I think I could handle walking a dog each week, considering I like to go for regular walks anyway.  And I think I could bake or craft or something with a few children from time to time (perhaps not weekly though, I might lose the plot doing that!).

Imagine if we all took some of this on board as families?  If we saved for our children's Uni fees, or their first home, but in this way that also actively involves the child so they learn to have ownership of it too?  Imagine how much better positioned they'd be financially starting out as adults, but also how much more resourceful, persistent, and money savvy?

Now to think of things Munchkin and I (or his daddy, hehe!) could do to save for his first house....hmmm.  Any suggestions?