Thursday, August 31, 2006

The prayers for rain seem to be working. We are onto our third showery day in a row! It is still not drought breaking rain, the dam levels have remained steady, but it's a start. Even after the very first shower the grass seemed a little greener. Now, after three days, you just have to step outdoors to feel the life returning to the garden. I have taken a few photos. My sunflower started to open its petals this morning. It accidentally grew from spilled bird seed, and has already brought us great joy. The ladybugs seem to love it. They have been all over it since it sprouted!

This week I have been focusing on building a household manual, trying to work on my housekeeping skills. I had an epiphany. I have always hated the housekeeping, and viewed it as a thankless drudgery. I was reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, a passage about how our creativity is someting we use all day, every day, as we cook, deal with our children and go into the world. She said "Women are artists of the everyday. The world does not acknowledge or applaud everyday art, so we must."

I am trying to find ways of feeling creative and turning housekeeping into an art form. I have felt like I let down myself when I don't have beautiful crafts to post pictures of or delicious meals to illustrate. I need to find the creativity in my everyday. So, with that in mind, here's the sunflower outside my kitchen window. I'd even be able to see it as I wash dishes, if I were just a few inches taller! And now I am off to find the beauty in coleslaw.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Eight Years Old Today!

My darling eldest turns a whopping eight years old today. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday, an impressive feat for me, as I couldn't tell you what I ate for dinner this day last week! Yesterday (Sunday) we celebrated with a pirate and princess themed party with a few of his school friends. It was quite a successful day. Brett and I usually dread these parties, but with a carefully planned programme we made it through alive and with most of our hair!

The most well received idea I had for the party was the final game we played. I hide the loot bags in a box behind the shed, and the kids were issued with a map (pictured) and the first of a series of clues to follow to find the 'treasure'. Writing the clues as rhyming couplets was a bit of an ordeal, but the kids had a wonderful time reading them and figuring out where to look. Other activities included musical islands (based on musical chairs, but with newspaper 'islands' as we did not have enough chairs), making icecream sundaes, a doubloon drop (dropping coins into a glass in a bucket of water) and we decorated door knob hangers for the kids to take home. Of course we ate cake, I am always proud of my creations!

The day finished as my Dad always said a good story should conclude: "Tired but happy, we all went to sleep." A very good day!

Friday, August 25, 2006

First, and most importantly, I must thank everyone who left kind wishes on my blog in the past few days. It was a rough time, and you all helped me through, especially with very little other adult contact to sustain me. We are all much better now, and my sweetheart (who fell ill at his conference, poor love) will be home this evening. My world is back on its axis!

Today is Daffodil Day in Australia. It's a fundraising for cancer thing that has gone on for years. It has always been a bit special for me. Every year I go out and buy a bunch of daffodils for myself, and have done since I was at uni, and could only afford a single flower. My eldest child, Christopher, celebrates his birthday this week too, and all the bouquets we received when he was born were full of daffies. So this is a picture of this year's daffodils.

And here is where they are sitting. My favourite wall of our little home. One day I will have a whole house full of lovely stuff, but for now this is it. Pretty much the only furniture in the whole house we bought because we love it. Usually there is a bowl with pebbles and candles sitting where the flowers are, but when I have flowers they take pride of place! Annoyingly the cabinet doors won't close properly because our floors are nowhere near level.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Update: Christopher has recovered and gone to school today. Joshua has relapsed :( I have also caught the dreaded bug. It's a real struggle at the moment. The house is a mess, I am a mess. If I have to wash the carpet one more time today I will cry.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's not a good day today. I will warn you, gentle Reader, that there may be Too Much Information in this post. Our home is in the grips of a tummy bug, and I am too tired to censor myself right now. Oh, and I may come across as a bit whiny, that's the lack of sleep talking.

Last night at about 11:30, 30 seconds after I started to drop off to sleep, Joshua started vomiting. He sleeps in our bed so that meant that we all had to get up, bathe Josh, hubby also had to shower, bedspread and pillow cases in the washing machine, fresh quilts on the bed, towels under Josh in case of relapse, then try to get to sleep. At 12:30 he threw up again, so we had to rechange his clothes, get fresh towels etc. Then he had really bad stomach cramps. It was heartrending. He wanted to snuggle but the pain was so bad he was grinding his teeth. Even more amazing was that this pain only lasted about 10 minutes, we managed to figure out what the problem was, microwaved a wheat bag, popped it on his tummy and he immediately relaxed and fell asleep. I mean it was instantaneous! I have never seen anyone go from pain to asleep so quickly. So we all finally went off to sleep at about 1 am.

This morning my darling hubby had to leave for work at 6:30am, with suitcase in hand, as he is headed to a conference for a few days. And after only about 4.5 hours sleep. Josh woke to throw up again when hubby got up, so I figured I'd have a cup of tea and kiss hubby goodbye before trying to sneak another hour's sleep. Not happening. ALL the kids woke up, and the day had begun.

Christopher is supposed to be at school doing some very important exams today. In Grade Three all the kids in Australia do these tests to see where each child is at, and assess the general standard of the education. The kids are ranked, and it can make a significant difference in their education careers. But my poor boy, who was actually looking forward to the two days of exams, woke this morning with stomach cramps and was running to the loo all morning. I was not sure if it was nerves or his brother's bug, so we pressed on with getting ready for school. I was agonising over this decision, because if he was genuinely sick it could make a difference to how well he did his exam. We stopped at a bakery just near our house on the way to school. As we walked out Christopher threw up in the parking lot. Sooo, back in the car we got, turned around and went home. I called up the school, explained that Christopher couldn't get to the exam, ascertained that they will let him do it on Thursday instead, and told them that Samara won't be at school either (not driving 15 minutes each way with two vomiting kids in the car, no way uhuh!). The school secretary agreed with me on that one!

So here I am, Chicken Little on TV, two little boys tucked up on separate chairs. It's 10:38 am, not even lunch time, and I am pooped. I have done 3 loads of towels, sheets, quilts, loved stuffed toys in the machine. I am supposed to be writing an English Lit. paper, due next week, but I don't think I can get my brain around the 'isms' today. I need a nap. And it really stinks that noone is coming home to me tonight.

On the bright side, isn't my family beautiful! I love this picture of my gorgeous little family!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I cannot deny the truth any longer. Winter is over. Normally brief, this year it seemed to barely touch us at all. I am feeling let down by it, I live for those chilly nights and cool, breezy days. The sunshine, so harsh and glaring in summer, seems comforting and gentle in the winter.

We don't really get a true spring. If we do, I guess it is this week, as all the flowers surviving in my parched garden are sending up buds and blooming merrily. It's a limited garden at the moment, petunias, sweet peas which still haven't bloomed, aloe vera, pawpaw (papaya) and lime trees and a knee high frangipani tree. I have to water by hand, not hose. Our water restrictions, harsh now, will be worse in the next couple of months if we don't get significant rain soon. The long range forecast says there is a 10% likelihood of that prayed for event occuring, so I don't like the odds. Soon we will be banned from watering outside at all. In these circumstances, as much as I long to plant a summer vegie garden, it does not seem prudent.

Instead I will pray for lots of summer storms. My poor sad lawn won't last much longer without.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Three posts in one day! I have set a personal record! But I just had to tell you how yummy dinner was ... Four Bean Soup with Barley, a recipe from the June edition of delicious, my all time favourite food magazine. It turned out beautifully, full of rich vegetables and beans, flavoured with fresh thyme. I also used the breadmaker to make the dough for crusty fresh knot rolls, perfect for dipping in the warm soup. I felt very virtuous as we all enjoyed our meal. It's so satisfying to see all the children devouring dinner and asking for more, though I may need a second breadmaker to keep up with demand!

Mmmm spiders!

A few days ago Christopher came to me excited about a 'new' recipe he'd discovered. It only took me a moment to realise he was talking about an old childhood favourite. My Dad used to make us spiders for a treat. For the uninitiated, it's just a scoop of icecream in your favourite soft drink (pop, soda, whatever you call it in your corner of the planet). Watch it fizz and use your tongue to catch the inevitable overflow! I love using creaming soda (vanilla flavoured), because it goes so well with icecream, though I do concede that lime and orange flavoured drinks are really nice too.

Please ignore the crumbs on my kitchen bench! They seem so much larger on the computer screen than they did in real life! I swear I do wipe my benches regularly ;)
You might have noticed I have changed my blog name. The old one just wasn't quite right. For a start, I live in the subtropics, so a hearth is almost out of the question. I don't really know what I'd do with a hearth if I did have one. I think I'd be too scared I'd burn the house down to relax and enjoy it. And we haven't even turned a heater on for more than an hour or two this winter, so a hearth seems a bit pointless really!

I also felt that the old name made me sound a bit more domesticated and capable than I really am. The new name suits me far more. I love being at home, and often long to stop leaving at all. I'd rather stay at home than go out any day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Grocery shopping day today. Usually I don't mind it so much, but today I had three little tagalongs, and they were not in the mood to follow nicely. I had a list, so I had hoped it would go smoothly, but after wrangling the kids through half of the list I was ready to just abandon my trolley and feed them takeout until Saturday, my next opportunity to shop alone. We survived, there is now food in the house, and I am calming my frayed nerves with a lovely hot cup of Earl Grey tea.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I am shocked, I tell you, shocked! I came to a realisation this morning about myself, a startling glimpse into my personality, a truth about myself I never thought I would have to admit. Now I must warn you, you are about to hear a confession that may rock your world. Are you sitting down for this one?? Ready???

I like doing laundry. I can't believe I said that. After years, a whole decade, in fact, of complaining about what a thankless task washing is I actually enjoy it! I was outside, in glorious winter sunshine this morning, hanging out the laundry, feeling relaxed, happy and even contented. I love the smell of freshly washed clothes, especially straight out of the sunshine. We line dry everything, except when it's been raining for days. I do own a dryer, but use it almost never. Queensland winters are beautifully mild, especially in my corner of the state. Perfect drying weather, sunny, not too hot to go out and hang the clothes, not too cold to be fooling around with wet fabric. I love the clothing looking so neat and tidy hung out on the line. I used cloth nappies (I know, I know, diapers) for the satisfaction of a perfectly arranged Hills Hoist!

I am even a little vain about my laundry. I wash every day, and try to always bring everything in before evening. I feel that laundry is the part of my housekeeping that the neighbours can see. They can't see the clutter in my children's toy boxes, the calcium deposits I can't seem to remove from the glass shower door, the open peanut butter jar on the kitchen bench, but they can tell how often I wash the towels, and that I bring the laundry in at night. I look like a good housekeeper when I do laundry. Now ironing is a whole other story!

On a totally different topic, I am practising with my camera, I can't believe I've had it two years without learning anything more than point and click. I love this picture of Joshua, with his laughing green eyes. He was a very cooperative subject!

Monday, August 14, 2006

1 Corinthians 13
The Gift of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

These words were read to us during our wedding ceremony over ten years ago. I find them so meaningful in every relationship I have, with my husband, God, children, best friend, parents, shop assitants, everyone. I think one of the things that has really worked in our marriage is that we knew that all we have in the world is each other. Material things come and go, jobs and friendships wax and wane, but we have brought together this family, and it will remain forever.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Please pray for George, a much loved cousin who died suddenly today. He has left behind a wife and three daughters, and numerous grandchildren. George and his wife were very encouraging to us when we first were engaged. George, in particular, was a mentor to my husband during his high school and college years. We are very saddened by his passing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I have been trying hard to upload some photos I took of a family excurion we took on the weekend with absolutely no success at all. I am getting quite frustrated, but have been getting a bit of housework done, as I complete a chore with each attempt.

So now I am trying to upload them one at a time, with a little more success. We took the children on a trip into the heart of the city to see the replica ship Duyfken, which was docked just metres from my darling husband's workplace. The Duyfken was the first European vessel to have discovered the northern coastline of Australia in 1606.

We caught the ferry into the city, an adventure in itself, then queued for about half an hour to see the ship. I was shocked at just how small it was. Just imagining the courage of a little ship with twenty brave crew setting out into uncharted waters is mindboggling to me. It was so very small, inside the cabin I could feel the top of my head just brush the ceiling beams, and I am only 5 feet tall. This photo was taken inside the cabin, in which eating and drinking utensils were displayed. The children were very impressed with the cannon. I loved the timber smell that surrounded us a we climbed down into the ship. It was so dark below deck. A couple of lanterns lit our way. We saw the cargo hold, where we learnt a little more about the spice trade. Nutmeg was a very popular cargo, being valued the same as silver! Even a tiny ship could carry a fortune in spices.

In all it was a very uplifting day. I have a passion for history, and Brett has a more specific interest in nautical history, so we both greatly enjoyed passing our interest on to our children. The kids were very impressed with the whole experience. I think they were hoping for pirates, but managed to mask their disappointment. Cannons and the carved figurehead made up for their loss!