Saturday, July 27, 2013

Risking it All

I made a really big decision recently.

Really, really, REALLY BIG.

Life-changing, schedule-altering.

Scary, very scary.

Exciting.  Hopefully a new lease of life to compensate for the scariness. 

Many ramifications I knew of, and some I have since realised.

But sometimes you have to take the risk.  Sometimes, you’ve done all the research you can do, mitigated your losses as much as you can, and prepared as best you know how.  But it’s not quite enough to be one hundred percent sure.  How often can I expect to be one hundred percent sure?  I’m guessing that with the really big decisions of life, not a lot.  Maybe 90% sure?

What did I do?

I pulled out of my studies at Massey.

Yup.  Pulled out.  Well, okay, I’m pulling out.  I withdrew from two papers, and will probably withdraw from the third.  I’m transferring my studies to a local provider.


If you know anything about my study path so far, you will realise immediately that this is a very complicated process to try and attempt.  I am nearing the end of year 2 (of 3) of my degree.  I’m a scholarship student, which means I MUST complete my degree by the end of 2015, and I MUST continue studying (can’t just take a semester off and start again next year – already took my only year off allowed)…if I want to retain my scholarship.  As it pays my fees, I am considerably motivated to keep it! 

I added to the complications by leaving it until the second to last day for withdrawing without financial penalty.  Without checking with my local provider first as to how easily they could cross credit me into their programme (which is significantly different to the one I have been studying).  Their semester doesn’t start till next week, which is helpful.  But their staff are away.  Not so helpful!

The thing is, I wasn’t going to do it.  I’d thought about it, and decided it was all just way too complicated.  I’d just have to stick it out with Massey, I thought.  At least until the end of this year, then maybe transfer to Waikato early next year for my final year.  But then I thought about the changes that would create for my Munchkin: different hours, potentially longer days, and so on as I would be a face-to-face student.  I concluded there are benefits to me staying extramural (distance).  He can go to kindy the same days every week, and I just study on those days.  Plus we can pretty much live anywhere (opps, one of those “ramifications I have since realised” is that I am now committed to staying here till the end of 2015, yet my husband finishes his diploma and needs work end of 2014.  Ugh.

I started semester two.  I was pretty well burnt out starting it.  I’d survived placement (just), done my essay and exam (barely) and then spent the 2 weeks of holidays trying to throw off a cold.  I managed two weeks before I canned it.  But I figure two weeks was enough.  It was enough to realise that this is insane.  A 30-40hour study week for a 50% load student is just WRONG.  Getting up at 5am is so NOT working (I was falling asleep over my study books) and then my kid was sick and it all went out the window…as an extramural student there is a certain pressure (at least for me there is) to ‘catch up’ if you ever miss a week.  In face-to-face classes, I’d just call in sick.  If there were notes, someone would pass them to me.  Anyhow, it was insane.  The whole degree has been, really.  But I needed to study, and extramural allowed that.  Plus, I’ve made some decisions along the way.

I don’t want to teach Primary.  I thought I might when I started, so this Massey Early Years Degree was a good fit.  It gave me the option of lower primary if I wanted.  But the reality is that there are an abundance of primary trained teachers out there, and my degree is not widely recognised as covering primary, despite the intense workload the primary component produces.  What I really want to do is own and manage my own early childhood centre.  I don’t need the Early Years Degree for that.  I need an Early Childhood Degree.

I have very little doubt that if I’d continued on with the semester, I would have had either a mental breakdown or a physical breakdown.  Or possibly both.  Before we got to week ten.  Definitely before placement in September.  The workload was just too much, and more and more of it is primary focused which is becoming less and less my focus.  Plus, the Early Years Degree is being phased out.  Massey is no longer offering it.  This means many of our lecturing staff have had to go find other work.  Very disruptive, having your lecturer leaving and there being no replacement announced a week out from their departure.

I am still doubting myself.  Still wondering if I’ve made the right choice. Still worrying.  But trying to trust, trying to believe that if this is what I need to do, then God will help me sort out how to do it.

Bethlehem Tertiary Institute (BTI) have been amazing!  I studied with them before having Munchkin and studying at Massey, so they know who I am.  They are cross crediting me into their ECE Degree!  Waikato, who I originally thought of going through, will only do a max. of 1.5yrs, which I have already done more than.  Plus were not very helpful. 

So on Thursday I deposited two large boxes of folders on a poor lady’s desk at BTI.  She is the beleaguered soul who has to work out what specifically they can give me Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for and what they can’t.  She’s hopeful.  It looks like I will get first year credited without any issues.  Second year is problematic.  There’s some big holes between what I’ve done and what BTI covers.  BUT, they are looking at creating a customised plan for me!  One in which I might go to a module or two of one paper, a module of another, combine that with some personal tasks (i.e. assignments they tailor to me) to fill in the gaps – combine that with some partial cross-credits from my previous papers, and hopefully I will still be fairly well on track.  Hopefully.  But I decided when I made the decision that if it means I have to pick up extra papers (at my own cost), then it would be worth it just to get out of the Massey degree.

I’m finding that being a Mummy makes decision making so much harder.  I not only have to think about my own needs, my husband’s needs, but also my son’s needs.  And he’s little.  He needs my protection and care.  He needs my time.  He needs SO MUCH.  I’m hoping this will work out so that he doesn’t have more kindy than he already has.  I’m hoping that it won’t be too disruptive for him, that most of my class hours will be within his current hours anyway.   But I know that the thing he needs most in the world, beyond good kindy hours, way beyond that, is a Mummy who is okay.  He doesn’t need a Mummy with depression, or a Mummy who is constantly stressed and sick.  He needs me to be okay, so this is it.  This is how I can be okay.  Not to say that things are going to be all perfect now.  Things are probably going to be messy.  But I feel confident that they will be manageable.

There’s no going back.  I have pulled out.  I can’t just decide to do it next year instead.  I’m committed to this.  It’s this, or no degree.  This, or the past 3.5yrs have been a waste.  So this is it!

I’m really looking forward to being in a class again.  I’ve been missing having peers to discuss ideas with.  While I love writing, it is just not the same as a real conversation.

Not sure at this point whether I will continue my remaining Massey paper.  It’s got my placement attached, which is a yr3 primary class…not really helpful for transferring to an Early Childhood Degree.  And pretty high-stress when I know my primary planning is so not up there.  If BTI can, they will probably get me into classes this semester, a whole mish-mash of bits and bobs to get my credits sorted out, plus put me into an ECE placement.  In that case, I’ll probably drop the Massey paper…I will lose the ability to get an allowance bonus on my scholarship if I later study full-time.  But I can live with that.  Then next year, it looks like I’ll be doing a mix of 2nd and 3rd year papers.  Again a bit of a mish-mash but as long as I’m not trying to be in two classrooms at the same time, never mind!

I’m trying not to think too hard about having to change Munchkin’s hours and whether they’d have a space for him when I need it.  I’m trying not to think about how to get to BTI, or if I’ll have time for assignments.  I’m trying to just remember that this is what I need to do.  That I spent the past few weeks begging God to show me what to do, how to survive this semester (and the rest of my degree – if it was only this semester I might’ve made it, but I had another 2years after that!).  This is the solution that presented.  Because I studied at BTI before, crediting is easier (I have 3.5papers through them if I don’t have enough other yr1 papers that match up!).  It’s a small team, and it will challenge my faith as well as my professional practice, and I do like that.  After talking through my piles of folders with me, the lovely woman helping sort all this mess out then took the time to pray for me, for my study, for wisdom and grace as we go ahead.  Wow.  I felt myself sigh inside.  One of those deep, bottom of your lungs sigh.  The kind of sigh that says “I’m home, it’s time to rest.”

Interestingly, having made the decision, my son has been sick.  Not just “got a headcold or a runny nose” sick.  He has had a virus (that was the week I made the decision), a lingering chest infection, and a double ear infection.  Needless to say I’ve not studied.  I’ve not slept much either!  But the grace of knowing that I don’t have to get up at 5am when I’ve been up two or three times in the night with him, wow, what a difference that has made.  Knowing that he could stay home from kindy for a whole week without me having to study while looking after him (even though he drove me nearly spare!).  Relief.  That’s what this strange feeling is called.  Relief.  It’s still a long haul.  We’re not there yet.  The next few months will still be busy and crazy, but not insanely so.  And for now, for now I’m in a little oasis.  A moment of rest before journeying on.

Is the risk worth it?  I guess I will find out.  But I think so.  That's the thing with risk.  We might never know for SURE.  We just guess, or feel, or think.  Then we have to step out.  You will never know whether the bridge will hold you if you don't step onto it.  You'll never know if you're capable of reaching your dreams if you do not try.  And you won't know whether a decision was worth it until later.  I'll let you know later, okay?!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Hidden Treasures

One of the things I love about having a 'new' garden is the revealing of hidden gems throughout the seasons.

My mother-in-law and I noticed these funny looking shoots coming up on the corner of the garden.  Hmm, they might be tulips?  Or maybe snowdrops?  Definitely  not just the standard agapanthus that are found in abundance along the rest of the front edging.

I waited.  And waited.  They seemed to take forever to do anything.  Then finally:

They are lacinalias!




Old-fashioned lacinalias.

The memories that come surging back.  My grandmother had some right along both sides of their driveway when I was little.  Not these coral coloured ones, but bright orange ones with black and yellow stripes.

I'd so love to have some myself one day.  There's just something about them.  Something that reminds me of carefree days spend picking and eating plums and feijoas, mandarins and banana passionfruit, of hot summers and playing on the beach or down by the creek.  Plus I just love their amazing, crazy boldness of colour!

It's got me wondering.  How many of the things I love are because of how they look and how many are because of what they remind me of, the moving images they invoke?


And One for Boyo

I had to laugh when I saw this sign a few weeks back when I was at Half Moon Bay in Auckland!

Then I had to stop and take out my camera and get a snap of it.

Boyo just HAS to see this one.

Very, very, VERY true!

Boyo, are you prepared???

Counting down to trout fishing season.  Only three months to go...


For Elizabeth

I don't often get decent cloud and/or sunset pictures.

Usually, that's my sister-in-law's domain.  She gets loads of sunsets, sunrises, and everything in between at her place (and also has the tenacity to take the photos to prove it!).

This one is for you, Elizabeth!

It was late afternoon, and Munchkin and I looked outside to see this huge cloud bank heading our way.  The sun's rays turned it into an amazing pink and orange spectacle.

Taken in through our windows, it was a beautiful sight.  Don't know why I didn't think of going outside (and avoid our lights in the photos!)...maybe it was really cold???  Of course the photos don't do it justice.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


My son is not an arty-crafty boy.  He just isn't.  He draws.  Occasionally.  Usually when his mother presents him with drawing materials and tells him he has to draw something for one relative or another's birthday!  He likes gluing sometimes.  Then pulling everything off that he just glued on.  I guess that's normal for a three year old?

I ask him what he did at kindy today.  Painting?  No.  Playdough?  No.  Singing?  No.  Drawing?  No.  What did he do?  Sandpit.  Running.  Feeding the pigs.  They actually feed all the animals, usually twice a day, but for some reason or other Munchkin has taken a shine to the pigs.  Blossom and Bandit they are called, and if I ask what he did at kindy, he will almost always reply, "Fed the pigs!"

I haven't pushed craft on him.  I figure if he wants to play with cars, let him.  If he loves sand, well there's nothing really wrong in that.  Children have so much pushed upon them without me doing it when he's this young.  But I would like him to learn some of the skills that playing around with paint or pastel can bring.  Holding a pencil, writing his name, concentrating, drawing a straight line, imitating things from real life, talking about stories that he creates within a drawing...all those sorts of things.

So I've decided to get a bit smarter.  My son likes diggers.  Diggers, trucks, planes, trains.  Anything with wheels!  It's time I tailored other activities to suit his individual interests.  It should mean he gets more involved with them.  That's my theory at any rate.

Today we made a picture.  We used glue and I cut things out, put glue on, and he stuck them on.  We used buttons and beans and lentils.  He likes tactile things.  We used cotton wool.

He's got a bit of an obsession going at present about snow.  We even went to a mid-winter Christmas thing that said it had snow last weekend.  Only to discover that it wasn't REAL snow, they were foam machines.  Duh.  Bummer.  Not that Munchkin cared.  He only wanted to look at it anyway.  There's no way he was going to stand under it and let it float onto him!  He had a great time, and it fueled his interest in snow.  Along with a couple of episodes on some borrowed DVDs, and seeing frost and mist a few times lately, he's now really interested in snow.

The fake snow...looked nice despite not being real!
Here is our finished product:

We are quite proud of our handiwork (Mummy perhaps slightly more so than Munchy!).

Then there's what he did with the beans and lentils when Mummy wasn't looking!  Inventive, have to give him that.  He has been told he will have to pick up all the beans and lentils off our (previously) clean carpet.  Tomorrow.  When he's finished digging them.


Vegingly Frustrated

I am feeling somewhat vegingly frustrated.  No, it's not a typo.  Vegingly.  This is meant to somehow imply to you, dear reader, that the object of my frustrations is my vegetables.  Did it?

After having two Foodboxes, and going once to the market, I decided to keep my Foodbox on hold and go back to the markets.  I was so pleased with last fortnight's stash, it seemed a great idea.  Ugh.  Why, oh why do I do this to myself???  I went.  The guy with the lovely cauliflowers last time wasn't there.  That meant no cauli, broccoli, silverbeet, or cabbage.  The lady who sells really nice little bunches of kale wasn't there again...I wonder if she's gone for winter?  I came home feeling disappointed, and (you guessed it) vegingly frustrated.  If I hadn't needed to buy a tray of eggs it would have been a waste of time.  I got a lettuce ($2), small bag of baby spinach ($3) and some tomatoes ($3).  It's not that they weren't nice.  They were very nice, it's that I then went to the supermarket and got a cauliflower ($3 or something), and more (but I forget what!).  Then came home and grumbled my way through the rest of the morning.  I'd been to two separate places, but got less than half the things I wanted/needed for this week.  So I reinstated my Foodbox.  Mum priced her's out (actually went to PaknSave and priced each item from her last box) and was happy with the prices, plus the greens are definitely fresher than at the supermarket.  It is just easier at the moment to know that we will at least have some veges in the house, without me having to traipse around town all day to do it.

I completely forgot that it was due to arrive today, so was pleasantly surprised to find it on the doorstep!

This week we had:

2 x 250g mushrooms
2 x silverbeet (you can't see in the photo that there's two bunches in that bag)
cos lettuce
cherry tomatoes
grey pumpkin
gourmet potatoes
1/2 celery

Plus 2 pears, 2 apples, and another mushrooms as a 'top up' from when the website was saying the wrong veges a few weeks back!  Grin.

We are eating eggplant for the first time ever tomorrow night!  Got a recipe from a good friend who says it is fabulous, so I'm hopeful!

I made a menu yesterday:

I've worked out that the best way to utilise my Foodbox (or any other groceries for that matter) is to make a menu based on them, so I did this menu knowing what would be in my box.  Rather than just writing the meat or main idea for the night, I'm now writing the specific veges I will use.  That way I'm less likely to forget to use them!  And I'm more likely to realise I haven't planned for them when making the menu!  I also checked the freezer first, as shown on right of the top photo - that way when I did the menu I knew not only what veges (on a separate list) but also what meat I had to combine with them.

I picked up a 1/2 savoy cabbage from New World for $1.30 as well as some potatoes and kumara, and we've got onions and carrots already so we now have a fridge full of veges (seriously, there's not much room for anything else, but I guess that's not a bad thing!).  I'm wondering if I should just have a rule that I can buy whatever veges I want, no long as I never throw them out!?

I am still feeling vegingly frustrated.  I'm still spending time getting veges.  Our Foodbox is still too small to do a fortnight on it's own, but I don't want a weekly one as they don't seem to be getting kumara, spinach, etc that I want.  This is a compromise.  The best we can do right now.  I guess I want a market I can go to myself that has EVERYTHING in it, pretty much every week, cheap as, and very, very, very fresh!  Hahaha.  Dream on, Amy.  Oh well, in the meantime, Foodbox is helping me cover some of it.  Looking forward to our summer garden too.  Have you ever thought about how much time we spend organising food?  I mean, really sat down and added it up?  DON'T!  I don't want you getting depressed.  And just think, we hardly ever grow it all ourselves these days.  But then good food is worth spending time on.  I know it is worth making sure my family eats well, and I'm remembering just how blessed we are to simply HAVE nutritious food.  So I will try not to grumble too much over the how and when and where our veges are coming to us at present.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peace and Quiet

There is snoring emanating from the upstairs master bedroom.

There is snuffling coming from the lounge.

I am therefore here in the office.

I gave up on sleep.  After spending the night on the couch due to Boyo's snoring, then being joined by Munchkin in the early morning, my hips and back were just too sore to spend another moment lying down.  Munchy-baby eventually fell back asleep (after wriggling and jiggling all over me, poking my mouth, pulling my chin, wrapping his little arms around me, pawing me with his feet like a cat, coughing in my face, and generally being very lovable in a not-totally-enjoyable way!).  He is still there, snuffling away.  I suppose I really should go and wake him up.  But I know that he's been sick, and therefore is completely wiped out.  I don't know why it is, but my kid just doesn't sleep well when sick.  A week of disrupted nights and I'm wiped out too.  It's not like I had good sleep before that (the week before it was Boyo and his snoring that were to blame, ugh!).  I was so tired on Saturday that I went to bed at the grand hour of 8pm.  And slept.  Till 10 when Munchkin woke needing more pamol.  Then till Boyo got home around 1am, then when he came to bed at 3am, then when Munchkin woke again at 4...I gave up at 5:45am when my back was screaming at me...Boyo asked me in the morning if I'd had a good sleep.  Hmmm...  Well, I don't really know whether to class that as good.  If I'd had a sleep like that back in my 'before baby' days, I'd have been moaning for weeks!  But now?  It's just normal.  Oh, how sad I have become!

I really should go and get the Munchkin up.  But he's tired, and I'm tired, and sometimes it is just better not to be together too much when we're both tired.  You know what I mean?  And now that he IS sleeping, he probably needs as much as he can get.  I hate chest infections!  Coughs and colds I can take, but it is just so awful thinking my boy is getting well, then watching him crash all over again, listening to him wheeze, watching him fighting for air, hear him tell me he is freezing cold all while he is burning to the touch.  I hate chest infections.  The doctor assures me that kids usually grow out of their susceptibility to them.  I sure hope so.  We're doing all we can.  We now live in a mould free house!  Horray!  It's dry and warm.  He has a heater on at night, just to make sure and is on preventative asthma meds.  We dress him warmly, feed him wisely, and give him several immune boosting top-ups...which cost quite a bit, but I know in my heart of hearts that my boy's health will cost more if we don't look after him well!  And he is doing better.  He doesn't have a constant underlying wheeze this winter.  So that's an improvement.  And he isn't getting sick as easily.  Or having a less-than-average cold turn into a chest infection.  This is his first this year.  We've had a few close calls, but I'm much better at reading the signals and getting onto things earlier.  I realise where it leads, and there's no way I want my boy fighting for breath the way he was last winter!  But it still all takes a toll.  I'm just worn out.  He's been home most of the week.  Frustrating.  After doing the right thing and going to the doctors, keeping him home and looking after him Monday/Tuesday and then thinking he was well Wednesday only to discover he'd developed the secondary infection and we had to go back to the doctors Thursday.  We did get to see family who were visiting this week.  I'm really grateful for that.  We don't get to see them often so it would have been so disappointing to have missed it.  But it really was too much for Munchy, and while he wasn't really contagious when we saw them, I do hope we didn't pass anything on.  Colds are just colds, but they sure can make life yucky when you've got little ones, or even when you haven't (thinking of some of the doozey colds I've had as an adult).

Well, think I just heard noises from the lounge, other than sleeping ones.  Time for another cuddle then breakfast!


Some Perfect Shells

We visited the beach recently.

Once again, I found myself thinking that we really need to do this more.  I just love the beach.  It's the sound, I think.  The sound of the waves.  When we lived in Townsville, we'd drive up the coast to get to a beach that had waves.  Beaches without waves are just not beaches in my mind.  The beach is all about the sound of the waves.  Big waves, little waves. I don't really care.  I don't go to the beach to swim anyway, so it's not like it matters how rough it is.  I go for the sound, and the smell, and the vast open spaces.  I don't think I'd enjoy European or Californian beaches much.  A beach should not be jam packed with people!  There should be just me.  Maybe a few folks wandering with their dogs, a surfer or two, someone sunbathing, a couple of kids playing.  But that's all.

And shells.  A good beach always has shells.

I learnt shell collecting from my mum.  My husband knows all about my shell-collecting ways.  He knows that as long as I don't look down, we can have a normal walk at a normal pace.  But if I look down.  Well.  I just can't help myself, I have to look for shells to collect.  Whether I need or want any, it doesn't matter. It's  just something I have to do. In recent years I have sometimes taken to collecting them as I walk, and then leaving them on the beach when we go home.  Someone else can collect them.  I don't need them, I just like looking at them, holding them, feeling their texture and weight, and noticing the intricate details and delicate colours.  I like shells.  Which reminds me: really should go for a walk on the beach with Mum sometime soonish!   No-one rushing me then.  Grin.

So on this recent visit (after we walked around Mauo - Mt Maunganui), while my son dabbled in the rock pools and my husband climbed rocks, I happily shell collected. I borrowed Munchkin's bucket.  I dug through drifts and flitted among piles, discarding this one or that, and keeping only the best.  They had to be perfect.

Then we brought them home where they have sat in the garage.

One morning, when Munchkin and I were at a loose end, out came the shells, along with a piece of string.

Because my 'perfect' shells were all ones with holes in them.  Nice, big holes for little fingers.  I figured we could make a necklace or something.  Of course, my son decided it was a crane!

He really enjoyed threading a few through, and I noticed just how hard it is for young  hands to manage a piece of string and a holey shell.  But he quickly turned his string into a crane, and enjoyed raising and lowering it repeatedly from his chair.  Oh well, never mind.  I guess threading might happen another time?  After all, I do still have a nice collection of perfect threading shells!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Eating Addictions

I should be putting things up on Trademe to sell.  I am (obviously) not particularly motivated to be doing that just now...I really should, I know, it is just so BORING.

So I thought I'd tell you about my latest eating addictions.  Being in study mode means I usually go one of either two ways...option one, forget about food completely until I am feeling almost sick from hunger, then feel way too hungry come afternoon/evening.  Option two, snack all day.  Probably better for me, provided I can manage to find reasonable snacks.  I am finding my best bet is to put out a plate of snacky foods as soon as I walk in from the morning kindy run.  I'm usually hungry about then (9:30am), so at least that means I've had something to eat before 2pm!

Been eating a lot of this lately:

Homemade hummus with carrot sticks.  The interesting thing is that normally I do not like eating carrot sticks.  But with hummus, I devour them.  A great snack.  Protein through the chickpeas, without feeling like I'm eating chickpeas, plus low GI energy in the carrots.  Delicious.  Not at all a trial to eat!

The only issue (other than that my freezer stash of hummus has nearly run out and I need to make more!), is that I finished off that really nice snack pictured above with chocolate slice.  Two slices of, in fact.  Duh.  Way to spoil some good eating.  I am just so addicted.  I make it especially.  It's my little treat.  Only the sugar in the icing is probably not doing me any good...but without the icing the slice is nothing.  Ugh.  Really should stop making it.  Maybe next week???


To Market, To Market

You know how the saying goes?

To market, to market to buy a fat pig.  Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

Well, I didn't exactly buy a fat pig, nor did I want to.

But I did come home with some goodies.

After my big debate over our Vege Patch Foodbox, I thought I'd try the local markets again.

This is what I got:

It cost me $23.  Including the fudge!  Grin.  It was good.  Really.  Good.  Fudge.  The produce isn't half bad either!  All very fresh.  Most impressed by the cauli for $1.50, locally grown.

Still debating, but it is looking more likley that this is the best way for us to go, provided I am disciplined enough to head out and buy a decent amount, then use it all up!  It just means we get more of what we actually want/need and less extras.  If you don't count the fudge!  But I figured the total cost was so reasonable, why not a little 'payment' for all our hard work going and buying it!  Hehe.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Still Here

I thought I'd better pop in.

Just to let you know that I'm still here.

Started Semester Two this week, you see.  I've ploughed through admin guides, set up study folders, noted assignment due dates (and topics, gulp!), ordered printed materials, and tried to decide whether to buy required course texts (or just borrow from library - they will cost me about $160 total and we simply don't have the money - so far I am borrowing and will see how that goes!).

This on top of booking a physio for my poor back, finally sorting the craft and study boxes (three of them!) into some semblance of useful order and squishing the craft stuff into the hall cupboard and the study stuff into the office cupboard, half-sorting the laundry cupboard (hmm, really should get that other stuff out of the washing basket before we need to use it again!), listing various outgrown Munchkin items on Trademe, preparing for a big church event for Share (the church ministry I run), buying some Brolly Sheets so we can get Munchkin out of day-time sleep nappies, and persuading Munchkin that he can go to sleep without his dummy at night now (an ongoing concern - he is pretty motivated to get the toy truck on top of the kitchen cupboards and has been going without the D for day sleeps for a few months - the issue is really that he's finally sleeping through the night well and I don't want to mess with that, so we are just doing 'going to sleep without dummy' at present but getting it if crying in the night, then will ultimately throw it out).

Plus of course the usual grocery shopping, eating, sleeping, getting everybody up and dressed and to kindy on time, feeding chooks, weeding garden, making sure guinea pigs don't run out of get the idea!  Normal Mummy-ness in fact.  Grin.

I'm facing my biggest workload in the next 2.5years.  It's scary.  But I guess if I can do this, I can do the rest!

Things are having to be culled.

The bigger guinea pig hutch might remain pieces of wood in the garage until summer.
The half-finished blanket may stay as just that.  I will not stop knitting, by any means, but I don't have the where-with-all to get it finished in a month's time for shipping.  I need to just plod along, therapeutically calming my study-hyped brain with row after row of brightly coloured knitting.  No pressures, thanks.
The Operation Christmas Child boxes will also probably not make it to shipping.  A money issue more than a time one.
If I plant spring veges, they will be seedlings.  No growing from seed for me this year.
Dinners need to be I'll be thinking about what worked well during Placement and focusing on those recipes.  That means I won't be making the delicious pumpkin pie a friend shared a recipe with me for.
Blogging will be a 'when I feel like it and have time for it.'  Hmm.  The interesting thing will be how often (or not!) those two variables combine in one week!  Grin.

Study is priority.  Passing is essential.  Being nice to my family is also rather important!  Taking care of myself, likewise.

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of workload here.  Thought the first week would just be a bit of 'hi, how are you' stuff.  Huh.  Guess I was wrong.  I have 5 readings in one paper, 3 in another, and then I realised part-way through today that I'd completely forgotten about the existence of my double-semester paper!  Opps.  That could be problematic.  Note to self:  REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE THREE PAPERS THIS SEMESTER!  Do NOT forget again!!!

I will be here, lurking, as always.  You might hear from me.  Or you  might see a few pics from time to time.  But no promises of greatness.  Other than study greatness, of course!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

To Sabbath or Not to Sabbath

The Sabbath.

You know, that day each week where we are meant to rest?

God did.

Figure we should too.

But it somehow doesn't seem that clear cut.

As Christians, we try to live by the "ten cool rules" as Munchkin's learning in kids church.  Don't lie, don't steal, etc, etc, etc.  One of them is to Keep the Sabbath Holy.  I've noticed that in our society, that rule is very easy to overlook.  After all, we live by grace now, right?  Jesus died so we don't have to scrabble around trying to fulfill a law book that is way beyond our wildest hopes of ever achieving.  But, he never said he was ditching the law.  In fact, when asked what's most important, he said to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (quoting from the Old Testament) and to love your neighbour as yourself.  All the law and the prophets 'hang' on these two, according to Jesus.  Hmm.  Find myself thinking that he might have been meaning that if our heart motivation is to love God and love people, then we will probably find ourselves doing all the other laws anyhow.

So, back to the Sabbath.  The Sabbath has been a rule I've thought about quite a bit on and off, kept diligently for short periods, but largely ignored.  But I keep coming back to it.  It must be important.  It's included beside "don't murder" for goodness sake!  It FEELS important.  Having just done over six months without a weekly rest day, I'm worn out.  I'm frazzled.  I want a rest.  I want a holiday.  I want, I want, I want.  I NEED a Sabbath!

Back in 2012 we were very particular about having our Sabbath.  Between us, Boyo and I worked and/or studied (frequently both in the same day!) six days a week.  But on Saturday, we didn't.  I don't honestly remember what we DID do on Saturdays.  Probably not much at all, considering how busy the rest of our lives were.  But I do remember it kept us sane.

Sanity is something that's a little bit lacking in my life at present.

So I am making some changes and bringing back our Family Day of Rest.

Saturday's here we come!  I'm really excited!

Saturdays have been designated, because they just make sense.  Boyo works Thursday and Friday.  I study Tues/Wed/Thurs.  He studies Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri.  We have church Sunday.  Now, I could say that Mondays will be my Sabbath.  But I've been down this road enough to know that it won't work.  I forget.  I have housework to do and life takes over.  Doing it on my own just doesn't cut it for me.  And half the reason for us to have a Sabbath is so we can go and do something together.  Something relaxing or reviving. Something FAMILY.  We just aren't getting enough quality time together.  We see each other, sure.  But there's always stuff to be done.  So I figure if we have a Saturday Family Day,  then it at least opens the door to the possibility of going for a bushwalk, or heading out to the beach or the park.  Or doing nothing very energetically!  Together.  No housework, no study, no set commitments (which is why our Sabbath will never be a Sunday - having to be somewhere does not constitute a day off in my books!  Church on Sunday is very important to me, but so is having a day of rest).

In order to make this work, I'm moving cleaning for my mum to a kindy day.  That means less study time.  So in order to do that, I'm going to be getting up earlier on Tues/Wed/Thurs (study/kindy days).  I'm hoping that it will feel worth it.  I know (in my head) that it will be.  I'm just wondering how I will feel sitting in the cold dark office studying when my bed is still nice and warm.  I've really enjoyed not having to be up before 6am these past twelve months.  I am not relishing the prospect of that changing.  But I am looking forward to our Sabbath.  The other thing we are going to try out is having a Housework Sunday.  In other words, rather than trying to fit our household stuff in over various days during the week, we're going to try putting a designated amount of time aside on Sunday where we both become Energizer bunnies and get lots done...vacuum, dust, bathrooms, mop, weed, lawns, all that sort of stuff.  Because there's about 3hrs a week of work to do keeping up with our new place, compared to about 1.5hrs in our old place.  It will be interesting to see how well that works.

To days of rest!


Moving Entertainment

When we moved recently, my son had to fend for himself far more than I'd typically like.  He's a pretty stoic soul, so coped admirably.  We did get some major clinginess later on, which I suspect was a flow on effect of both parents filling box after box after box, then Mummy going on teaching placement almost immediately after.  But during the move, we did manage to find him some novel entertainment.

Boxes are really quite amazing playthings, you know!

Some lines drawn on with a vivid, and wa-lah, a custom-made road for toy cars.

I must admit that I can really struggle to spend quality time playing with my boy.  This little project was ideal. Mummy got to use cellotape and scissors, Munchkin operated the cars.

As we were moving house, I figured we may as well bring out the stash of little boxes I'd been saving up for cardboard creations.

There were a few shops.  These promptly became garages.

A post box.  With letters for posting.

And, of course, the fire station in fire-station red!

When that all started to get a bit old, some rocks appeared for digging work to commence.

We had so much fun!  We spent the better part of a morning creating, brumming, and playing together.  And once it was no longer as interesting a week later, it simply did a quiet disappearing act into the recycling bin.  I think this is such a fabulous idea because it combines motor skills (posting letters into letter box and fishing them out too quite a lot of concentration for my three year old - it wasn't a very big letterbox!), creativity (we made some trees out of cardboard and drew a pond for our plastic frogs to sit in), literacy (we wrote Fire Station on the red box), imagination (Munchkin quickly created scenarios and imaginary play with the stores/garages), and hours of free entertainment, some in relationship with me or his Dad, some by himself while we madly packed!

We made another road last week.  This time I remembered to turn the box over so it didn't have any words on it before I drew the roads!  Our latest road had a cardboard tunnel.  Munchkin thought that was pretty cool too.


Foodbox 2

Well, I've been through the throes of shiney newness, experienced my week of buyer's remorse, and am now coming back to centre.  At least I hope so.

And what's it all over?  Vegetables.

Just plain, boring, ordinary veges.

After finding that carrot in our letterbox, I've had two vege boxes from Foodbox.

The first one was amazing!  The second, not quite so much.  It just didn't feel like I got nearly as much as in my first box!  Buyer's remorse quickly set in.  Had I made the right decision?  Was this going to work?  Had I wasted our precious money?  Were they ripping me off?  Had I jumped to ecstatic delight too quickly?  Or was it just that circumstances had conspired to make this box a little less appealing than the last?

I'm hoping it is the later.  There's certainly been a combination of contributing factors.

Firstly, there was apparently a glitch in the system which meant two items I thought I was getting I didn't (they were listed accidentally on the website).  Foodbox apologised and offered an extra top up next time.  No worries.  I'll just take silverbeet quiche off my menu.

Then there was beetroot and fennel, both specialty items that I'd not normally buy.  Both nice enough, but having them means (I think!) that you get less volume, as they are more expensive veges.  In all honesty, I need volume.  We're trying to eat a lot of veg.  Yes, we want variety, but we also need good value.

Plus, I did a bit of a tricky thing and asked to swap out my onions for Ambrosia apples.  They were on the list for other boxes...not mine of course as mine is officially a vege box.  The lovely Foodbox people did happily include the Ambrosia apples, but that means we got an apple each when probably I needed to ask for another lettuce or something green instead!

I didn't get a box this week.  I'm on fortnightly orders so my next one won't come till next week.  My mum did, however.  She asked whether my veges had been okay.  "Yeah, sure." I replied.  Well, she's had a few freshness issues (corriander that was too limp to revive, cucumber with rotten end, silverbeet leaves with rot in top).  She's going to email Foodbox.  I'm actually quite surprised about it, as one of their drawcards is that their produce is fresher than the supermarket.  Not quite sure what's gone on there.  Now, obviously every grower, food supplier, or any kind of business for that matter has 'off days.'  But it's still a bit weird she's had three things.  And in her first box.  Not a good look.  Hoping they sort it out quickly.

So having done the pendulum of delight, disappointment, and then subsequently still wishing I was getting a box this week when I saw the Foodbox van driving past (hehe!), I have made some decisions.

1...I will continue my Foodbox for one or two more fortnights and decide after that whether to continue it or not.  2 boxes is probably not enough time to really be sure about whether this is going to work for us.  It's such a different way of doing your groceries, so it takes some getting used to not just buying what you want to cook with, but cooking with what you have instead.  I'm really enjoying how it's helping me menu plan and use up what we have.  When I used to not buy enough veges because I'd not want to spend the money, instead now I'm really motivated to use what I've already spent money on.

2...I'm being more ruthless in my 'banned items' list.  Our box is really too small fortnightly, but too big weekly.  So I'm trying to balance out the fortnightly one by banning some items that store well.  Carrots and onions to be specific.  Still deciding about the potatoes, as the first ones I had with Foodbox were so, so, so nice!  Grin.  I'll buy my carrots and onions at the supermarket.  They keep well, they are cheap.  Then I can get more other things in my Foodbox, hopefully making it last better.  I'm banning not only things I hate, like brussel sprouts or corriander (which makes me nearly puke!), but also things that are okay, but simply not good value for us.  The beetroot last week taught me that.  I got three.  I don't like them roasted, so I boiled them, skinned them, sliced them, and marinated them.  Now it's not a really awful process or anything, but that was time I could have spent doing something else.  I really don't mind tinned beetroot.  No more Foodbox beetroot.  I am so wishing I got another lettuce instead.  The lettuce we had last week was AMAZING.  So tasty.  So crisp.  Just not big enough.  All gone.  Sigh.

3...I'm returning to our local Farmers Market.  When I first moved here, the Farmers Market was too exclusive/expensive.  Not enough variety, too high price.  But there are some newer traders now, and I can get some local greens and other veges for good prices.  I haven't been going because I've been cleaning for my mum on Saturdays.  But I'm going to try changing that now, which means I can go to the market Saturday mornings again every few weeks without it becoming this majorly big hassle.  I am going to try just getting some greens.  Our vege gardens are just not producing enough...not enough for salad or stir-fry let alone that I make us about 3-4 green smoothies each week still!  What is growing, our chooks get before I do!  So greens from the market.  I'm going to take $20 this week and see what I can get.  I might yet stop Foodbox and go markets.  The main issue with this is that I still can't get EVERYTHING at the markets.  So I'd still have to go there, then at least one other shop (whether supermarket or greengrocer).  Our local greengrocer has discount fruit which is terrific, but not good quality veges.  So I'm stuck between Foodbox and whether it is good enough value for this very lean season of our lives, and having to shop around and around and around which I already do too much of in order to try and get our general food items on special! I like the idea of supporting a business other than the gigantic supermarket chains, and not having to leave my house to get my veges, but still need to make a really good financial decision at the moment.  Ugh.  Well, on the bright side, we are eating just fine.  Definitely no hunger in my household.  I guess I really don't have anything much to complain about after all, do I?


What I got in my second Vege Patch Box (above):
10 carrots
3 Ambrosia apples (instead of onions)
baby cabbage
butternut pumpkin
2 packs mushrooms (smaller, one of button, one flat)
½ celery
3 beetroot
1 fennel bulb
1 butterhead lettuce (small)
1 leek
bag of mesculun
5 stems rhubbarb

My current permanent ban-list:
carrots, brown or red onions, garlic, broccoli, mung beans, brussel sprouts, red cabbage, large green cabbage (asian, savoy  or baby cabbage are ok!), lemons, EXTRA mushrooms (1 per box is great!), beetroot, coriander, swedes, fennel
I've asked for them to be replaced with more salad or stir fry greens.