Monday, August 25, 2014

Impulse buy

I was in a book shop today when I saw a book I had to buy.  My challenge now is to actually use it and not just leave it to collect dust on my shelf.

When Bethy was born she was given a handmade knitted doll, named Poppy (Thanks Auntie Tammy).  I love Poppy and so does Bethy.  Poppy makes me wish I could knit.
As I was trying to hurry out of the bookshop with my purchases, and my extra purchases to stop a small girl from screaming the shop down or destroying a book from the shelf, I saw this book.  I'm pretty sure it actually called out to me.

There was little time for consideration.  I took a quick peek inside and fell in love.  This book has a pattern for how to crochet a doll, designs for a multitude of essentials for any doll (like clothing, cakes, teddies, a pet penguin, toy bucket, baskets, shoes, etc), and suggestions for a few different ways to make her hair.  Here's a peek at some of what it offers.

I'm excited at the thought of what I could make and a little tense at the thought of how much yarn I am going to want to buy.  I guess I'd better drag my yarn box out and see what's in my stash before I buy new stuff.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lunch box ponderings

It's been almost 12 months since my last blog post so it's probably time I made a quick note.  It would seem that after such a long absence I should get back into blogging with some important topic.  But, before you get too excited I'd better let you know that I am just going to talk about filling a school lunch box.

Filling a lunch box… It sounds like it should be easy.  Throw in a sandwich, some fruit, a snack or two.  How hard can it be really?

Well… actually, I find it extremely difficult.  Not only do I have the problem of remembering which child won't eat tomato, which one abhors cucumber, and which one prefers strawberries to grapes, (and many other personal preferences, likes, dislikes, etc) but I am now feeling the 'unhealthy lunchbox mum' syndrome. (That's not an actual syndrome, I just made it up.)

In recent conversations with an assortment of people I have begun to dread the possibility of anyone peeking into my children's lunch boxes. Recently I've heard comments similar to these:
     "You wouldn't believe the rubbish some mums buy for their kids. They just give them pre-packaged chips and biscuits and other junk."
     "It's so easy to just cut out sugar and preservatives when you give it a try."
     "I've never had any plastic wrap in my lunch box!" (from a grade 2 child).
     "What about your lunch boxes kids? What does mum put in there?  She normally uses containers doesn't she."  (From a teacher, talking about pollution and recycling).
     "I just whipped up some home made snacks for the lunch boxes this week.  You have to be so careful about what you feed them."

Each of these comments was somewhat okay in the circumstances of the conversations but, this morning, as I stood in the checkout queue at the supermarket and observed the woman behind me frowning at my purchases, each of these comments echoed in my mind and I felt the 'unhealthy lunch box mum' syndrome creeping over me.

I do believe mothers should endeavour to feed their children a healthy, balanced diet, but there comes a time for some mums when the battle they choose to fight that day is not the battle against pollution and national obesity.  Rather it is the battle to get out of bed, ensure the children are fed, dressed in clean(ish) clothes, have something edible in their lunch boxes and get to school.  The rest of the day will be spent battling to keep up with the demands placed upon them by a multitude of circumstances, which differ for every mum.

This is me on most school days.  I try to make sure the sandwich is somewhat healthy, but yes, I normally use white bread.  I prefer the sandwich gets eaten than returned to me at the end of the day.  I always include fruit, especially for the primary school children.  At our school it is required that this fruit be cut up, which means it has to be some form of fruit which can handle being jiggled around in a school lunch box with out getting squishy, brown and icky.  I've seen pictures of lovely looking fruit platters and fruit kebabs as suggestions for lunch boxes, and I find myself wondering how different they look when they comes out of the lunch box to be eaten.  Do they survive the bouncing, jiggling rush of being transported in a lunch box that is itself bouncing around in a school bag, being thrown into a car, carried on the back of a child running to their classroom and generally tossed around here and there.  Do the cute little fruit kebabs come out all firm and crispy, looking oh-so-delicious and appealing, or have they disintegrated into a bruised, sticky, gooey mess, falling off a stick and dripping juice on all the rest of the food in the lunch box?

I also like to include some other snack food.  If I get very inspired I will try to bake biscuits or cakes, but since I view cooking as a "has to be done for survival" type job, not as a pleasurable past-time, I find it difficult to get this done frequently.  Plus, normally when I do get inspired, it's all devoured in a day.

The quick and easy solution is packets of biscuits or chips, some muesli bars (non-nut ones, of course), and other quick, simple prepackaged foods.  This aids me greatly, because it means on really busy mornings the children, especially the high schoolers, can grab their own snacks and throw them in a lunch box as we run out the door.  This also means a greater chance of the food being eaten as they chose it themselves.

The other big issue with lunch boxes is how much rubbish they generate.  Now, my children have (or have HAD…) their own small containers for lunch boxes.  These containers can be used to hold all their small snacks, instead of putting them in plastic wrap of some type.  Sadly though, these containers have a habit of venturing onto the playground (apparently entirely on their own) and never being seen again.  We have tried stickers to identify them, fresh permanent marker names every morning, and even engraving names into the plastic.  Still… those little containers like to go astray and seek their own place in the world (they obviously do not desire to be a part of our household).  I have found it difficult to keep up with the expense of replacing these containers and have resorted to using plastic lunch bags These come home EVERY day in either the lunch box or the pocket of the shorts (obviously lunch bags do desire to be a part of our household…).

So, I live with a fear that the teachers or parent helpers might peek in my child's lunch box one day, and I will be forever condemned as a terrible parent for contributing to both the national obesity problem and also to the destruction of our planet through pollution (not to mention I'm already contributing to overpopulation because I have five children).

As I stood in the supermarket this morning, I was tempted to turn to the lady behind me and say something like "Today I'm just trying to keep it all together.  Maybe next week I'll be able to tackle the healthy lunch box issue, but please don't glare at me and condemn me today."

I didn't say it.  She probably wasn't looking at me at all.  Maybe she was just thinking of her own concerns and I should not judge her because I don't know what battle she had chosen to fight this morning.

In the car on the way home from school today, I asked my children what other kids have in their lunch boxes.  It seems my high schoolers eat better (both more food and more healthy) than most of their friends, and my primary schoolers think they eat the same as their friends, so… maybe I'm not such a bad parent after all.
I hope this doesn't sound TOO much like a whinge.  It's just been bugging me for awhile and I needed to get it out.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Being the "Pastor's Wife" and life as a home schooling mother.

It seems I have changed my identity in the last few months.  I am now "The New Pastor's Wife".  This new title/job comes with different expectations from everybody.  Most people assure me that they don't expect anything of the pastor's wife.  They say I am just meant to care for my children and support my husband is his ministry, but then the next comment they make will demonstrate that they do in fact have certain assumptions about what a pastor's wife should be like and how she should behave.  This is frustrating, because it means I am never able to work out exactly what it is that people are expecting of me.  It would be so much easier if people said, "I always think the pastor's wife should do…." or "A Pastor's wife should be involved in…", etc.  This way I would be able to directly address their assumptions and let them know why I will/will not be living/dressing/behaving in the way they expect me to.  However, I must admit I have not felt heavily judged by anybody for what I have or have not done.  I just feel the weight of unknown expectation.

Following on from any introduction is either of the next questions.   "Are you all settled in now?" or "Where are the children going to school?"

I confess to becoming more and more puzzled by the first of these questions.  What exactly does "all settled in" look like?  Am I all unpacked?  No, not yet.  I don't expect to achieve that for a long time yet.  Do I feel like this is home yet?  No, I don't.  I still feel like a stranger in the shops, the school and especially in church on Sundays.    Have I made friends?  Well… I am still getting to know people, and I see some people who may be closer friends in the future, but I'm also aware that as the pastor's wife I need to be cautious in my friendships, so no, I don't have any close friends yet.  Do I live here and function within this community on a daily basis?  Yes, I do that.  Mostly when people ask if I'm all settled in I just say "We're getting there."

As to the second question, regarding schools, I can answer that the boys are happily settled into the local Christian school and seem to be enjoying it and doing very well already.  People then look at Abby and say, "So, where are you going to school?" and I have to explain the whole homeschooling thing to them.  Again, I have not felt judged by most people, and some have been very helpful and supportive, but it has been awkward as Abby's official school books did not arrive until this week, and we have been working from some other curriculum I have bought and helping to refresh her on some subjects she struggled a little more with.  We have several teachers at our church who ask Abby questions about maths or English Literature books, and we would both feel a little flustered, but now we have the official workbooks, and Abby has been doing a good job this week of getting stuck into her work.

In case I sound like I'm complaining, I'd like to state that we love our new country town, and life here so far has been great.  It's an exceptionally beautiful area and I think Abby is getting sick of hearing me say how much I love being out of Sydney and back in the country.  There is one particular road we sometimes come home on and as we come over the hill there is a beautiful view spread out before us and it almost takes my breath away to know how blessed we are to be able to live here.

I will just add… Church politics!!!!  Wow!!! Who knew it could be so intense…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Busy Days

Yesterday was my 38th birthday.  It passed in a bit of a blur as we had a VERY busy day.

In the morning we had a Presentation Day assembly at our children's school.  We had received a letter informing us that one of our children would be receiving an award of some sort.  I suspected it may have just been Abby's year 6 graduation certificate, but we were happy to attend anyway as she was also singing in the choir.

We were very pleasantly surprised and proud of our children when, as well as the graduation certificate, Abby was also awarded the Rosalie Kerr School Library Award, meaning her name has been engraved on a shield that lives in the school foyer awards cabinet, and she received a $25 voucher to a book store.  Tim and Ben each received a class award for 'Enthusiasm for Learning', each with a $10 voucher to the book store.

As soon as assembly was over we took the kids from their classes and dashed home to have a quick lunch and leave for an interview at a church we are in the process of talking with about a pastoral position next year.  In the afternoon we had an interview with the church deacons, which was informative, encouraging and tiring.  This was followed by pizza for tea at a lookout where we had a view of the town which may be home to us next year.

The church had arranged accommodation for the night for us, and when we returned there the kids went crazy.  They had a ball taking silly photos with my new ipad (a combined birthday/christmas present for Simon and I).  Sometime during this silliness and hysterical laughter, I realised I had received a message on my phone.  A quick check showed it was from my Dad, informing me that my very ill Grandfather had just died.  Not quite the birthday present I wanted, but somewhat of a relief also, knowing he was healthy and well in heaven now, and no longer suffering with the dementia and physical impairment that has plagued him over the last few months.

Grandad was a wonderful, loving, godly man.  I am proud to be his grand daughter and I will miss him incredibly.  

Today was also an incredibly busy day.  We had an interview with the principal of a school in the area, then an interview with the Pastor of our prospective new church and, after a quick lunch, another meeting with some of the key leaders within the church.  Our children have been incredibly well behaved over the last two (very boring for them) days.

Now we are tired, grieving, excited, daunted and feel like we are in a bit of a fog.  It's been a very big few days. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

School Camp and life in general.

Today I farewelled my two biggest babies as they head off to their school adventure camp.  They will be canoeing, rock climbing, doing archery, having a disco and doing the high ropes course, among other things.

I found it interesting to note my reactions as school camp approached.  Abby and Tim were both very excited, Simon was pretty calm and assured me they would enjoy camp, but I have been very on edge and nervous about it.  I mostly put it down to being a mother and worrying they may forget to take something they need, but as we actually said good bye at school I began to feel physically sick.

I have only vague memories of a school camp I attended in year four at school.  I don't really know what happened on camp, but I'm pretty sure I ended up on my bed in tears and I never attended another school camp after that.  I managed to avoid every camp by begging to not go, or by getting 'sick' the morning camp started.  Watching my own children head off to camp has brought back all the emotion I felt every time my own school camps were drawing near.  I am left now to just pray that they have a wonderful time and see it as a fun and exciting memory, not a black mark on their past.

However, I suspect that some of my emotion and stress lately is due to accumulated stress over the past few months.  What do I have to be stressed about?   There are a few things happening.

In 10 weeks and five days we must move out of our current home.  I have no idea where I will be moving to.  Simon does not yet have a job for next year, and we don't know what to do if he doesn't get one sometime very soon.  That is probably some cause for my stress levels to elevate a little.

Relating to this move is a feeling of inadequacy on my behalf.  I don't really feel cut out to be a pastor's wife.  I'm not sure I can get over my naturally introverted ways and give out as I feel a pastor's wife should. Anywhere with a large crowd of people has been a struggle for me lately, and church has felt especially difficult.  I have a constant struggle with feeling socially inept in large groups, and the more this happens the more I feel unsuited to being a pastor's wife.

Simon is feeling the pressure of his last few weeks of study and the thousands of words he must get written during that time (and the reading needing to be done before writing those words).  He is also feeling the pressure of next year, and I find myself trying to be calm and hold it together because me falling apart is not going to help his stress levels.

Added to this is an almost 9 month old baby who, whilst being absolutely adorable and mostly placid and content, still doesn't sleep through the night, leaving me with a general feeling of exhaustion from the moment I wake in the morning.  She is also becoming increasingly mobile, leaving me feeling as though I have no time to clean the house, let alone sort and pack everything we own to move to an unknown location.

Then, of course, there are the daily issues related to family life; squabbling and bickering among the children, and issues related to being a godly, wise and consistent parent.

Before this sounds too much like I am whinging, I have to say that amidst all this I am confident that God has a plan for us, and He does know what He is doing.  There have been good things happening also.  The last week of the holidays has been enjoyable, and I find myself somewhat dreading the return to school days, making lunches and rushing through the morning to get ready on time, instead of being able to wake up slowly and allow the children to set the pace for the day and enjoy each others company (which they have been doing a lot more lately).

Not long ago, I reread some of the older posts on this blog, written just before our move to Sydney.  I found them to be very encouraging, especially the first one I wrote after we got here, where I said "Here I sit in my beautiful new home, wondering why I wasted any time last year worrying about how my family would cope with a move to Sydney."  God blessed us and provided for us SO well throughout our last move, and I KNOW He will do so again.  I try to remind myself of this daily.

My prayer at the moment is that God will show us His plan (sooner rather than later…) and that we will continue to see evidence of His work in and through our lives as we follow Him to… wherever.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Today Elizabeth has been very sooky at home.  She was fine when we went out to Bible study this morning, but her time at home has been filled with tears and a desire to be held constantly.  I offered baby toys and more baby toys, and then some other different baby toys.  Nothing pleased her.  She grizzled her way around the floor finding any 'non-baby' toys she could on the floor, close to the edge of the couch, or getting them while sitting on my knee.  She also found the nappy bag.  She would then chew on things until they were taken away or got boring.

So far she has attempted to devour:
the TV remote,
one brother's sword (it's okay, it's only a toy),
another brother's light saber (also only a toy),
her sister's ruler,
the box of wipes,
a clean nappy,
some clean clothes,
the couch,
her socks,
her toes,
the floor,
a bookmark from the school book fair last week and
a pamphlet about the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Trying to cram in all the information about the Jewish Museum (See all the toys she refused to play with…)


I think I need to be creative with toys for the next little while and maybe put away her familiar toys, at least for a week or so.

And in case people were wondering, she is not crawling yet, but she somehow manages to wiggle around on her bottom and covers a lot of floor space this way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Update on my letter to Target...

This morning I received an email from the Target Online Team in response to the complaint I made regarding their lingerie advertisement.  This is what they said:

Good Morning Esther,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding our recent intimate apparel television commercial.

We want you to know that we take all of our customer’s concerns seriously and it’s certainly not Target’s intention to offend anyone. As a result of ongoing feedback, we have slightly amended our television commercial to remove particular images that made viewers uncomfortable. This amended commercial is on air now.

Thank you once again for writing to us, we appreciate having the opportunity to respond to your concerns. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything further we can assist with.

Kind Regards,

Online Team