I did a family photo shoot for some friends on Sunday. I had such a great time photographing them, as they are a really fun, photogenic family! I thought I’d share some of my absolute favourite shots here – I hope you enjoy them.
I haven’t blogged for quite a long time.
Unfortunately, I have lost much of my motivation for ‘creative’ things like writing and scrapbooking. Even reading has taken a nose-dive, and I read a LOT. Commenting on blogs is not a happening thing right now, either.
I know this is just a stage I’m going through, as I adjust to my new reality (whatever that is going to look like). People are telling me to look after myself, and I know I’m not doing a particularly good job in that area. But I am going to try harder.
In the meantime, this post is just to let you know that I’m still here. I’m just not writing. Sometimes I do have things I want to say, but no real way of getting them out sensibly. Other times I can barely summon up the mental energy to think, let alone express those thoughts in words.
Don’t give up on me. I know I will be back; I’m just not sure when.
I have no idea where this recipe came from, but it’s really yummy! Who doesn’t like chocolate cupcakes? And these ones have a twist, with a dollop of raspberry jam in the middle of each one. You can use other types of jam if you want. I’ve used plum jam before, and I’ve also left the jam out. You can halve the amounts for the topping if you like, as I find I often have quite a bit leftover (which I may or may not eat on its own … ssssshhh).
Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes
125g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup raspberry jam
25g butter, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into the creamed mixture and mix until combined. Gently mix in the milk. Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake cases. Fill the cases halfway with batter, then add a small dollop of jam. Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle topping over each cupcake.
Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
Thank you all for your supportive and encouraging words in response to the news in my last post.
I’m really grateful for the kind comments here, and the many more I received on Facebook.
I shared the link to my blog post on Facebook, which I don’t usually do. That post has had 264 views in 2 days (140 of those were on Monday night, after I wrote it). People read my post who don’t normally read my blog, or didn’t even know it existed. To be honest, that was a little scary for me. But the main reason for my post was to get my thoughts and feelings down. The other reason was to let people know. I simply couldn’t face having to tell the story over and over again. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Writing it down helped me, in more ways than one.
It sure has been a rough few days for me, and my family. But I am doing okay. I am trusting God, and taking things one day at a time.
And right now, trusting is about the only thing I can do.
This post is not easy to write, but I need to do it. I need to get some of my thoughts and feelings down, and I need to let some people know about what’s going on in my life at the moment. A few of my close friends already know, but it’s a difficult thing to share with lots of individuals. I don’t find it easy to tell the story over and over. Hence this blog post.
I’m a medical writer, and I love what I do. I started my job straight out of University back in February 1999. I was a 20-year-old, fresh-faced Science graduate with a passion for writing. It was my dream job, and I have loved every single one of the almost 15 years I have been there.
Last week, we found out that all content production in our department (of ~50 people) is being moved to India. The ‘proposed’ date for the end of our jobs is 31 May, 2014. This also affects my sister, Leah, who works in the same department as me (albeit on a different product).
I am losing my job. The one I love so much.
We had all received an email at 11am that morning saying that we needed to attend an important meeting at 2pm. I had a feeling that the news might not be great. Don’t ask me why, but it turns out others had the same sense of foreboding beforehand. Because I work from home, I wasn’t in the office for the meeting. Normally I would have dialled in for the meeting, but I couldn’t because I had to take Tyler to a dental appointment that he has been waiting months for. So at exactly 2pm, I was sitting in a dental surgery watching Tyler get his very first (tiny!) filling. I was staring at the time on my phone, wondering what on earth my colleagues were hearing at that very minute. I was hearing a few things … the sound of Jessie J’s “Price Tag” on the radio, and the sound of Tyler’s dental nurse telling me that she would be giving me a list of orthodontists in the area, as Tyler would definitely need to have work done at some stage. What my colleagues were hearing was the sound of people in suits telling them that we would all be losing our jobs.
I lost my job at the exact same time as the lyrics “It’s not about the money, money, money” played and I was quietly contemplating how many thousands of dollars I would have to fork out for braces. The irony is not lost on me.
Right now, I feel like I’m grieving. For the first 2 days after the announcement, I experienced the full gamut of raw, difficult emotions. Shock, anger, hurt, sadness, anxiety, fear. I wasn’t just losing a job — I was also losing my passion, my career, my identity, my daily routine, my friends. After crying buckets of tears and going on an unintentional 35-hour famine, I began coming to terms with things a little bit more. I still have moments of sadness and anger and fear, but I am also experiencing a lot of peace, comfort, anticipation, optimism and even a little excitement.
Ethan & Tyler took the news hard when I told them. There were lots of tears from both of them. I had to hug them and wipe their tears away and reassure them that everything would be okay (while trying to tell myself the exact same thing). Rob has been amazing. An absolute rock. He said (and continues to say) all the right things, and just holds me when I cry. Without him, I would still be lying on the floor of my office in the foetal position, rocking backwards and forwards, sobbing my guts out and feeling like my whole world had collapsed around me.
I’ve spent a lot of time praying, reading Bible verses and listening to worship songs. I’ve also spent time just reflecting on all the good things in my life. I am truly blessed. I am so thankful for my amazing family, my faith, and my good friends who have been there for me since I got this news on Thursday (thank you ALL, you are such a blessing to me). I’ve woken up the past 3 mornings feeling so grateful to be alive, to have my health and my beautiful family and the ability to breathe, talk, walk, live and love.
I don’t know what my future holds. I have no idea. There is a lot of uncertainty, and I have a lot of questions and doubts. But that’s okay. Experiencing those things is just part of my journey, and as Rob keeps telling me, I must go through each stage and allow it to last for as long as it needs to. He is one wise, wise man. I asked him how he knew all the right things to say, and his answer was simple: “I don’t know, I’m just being what you need me to be”. And he so is.
The next 7 months are going to be interesting. I’ve looked at job sites, I’m working on my CV, I have joined Linkedin. It feels weird but at the same time okay to be doing those things now (it was a mistake to try doing them the day after the announcement though). I don’t know if I’ll stay until the “end” or not. I don’t know if I’ll try to find similar work, or if I’ll consider doing something totally different. I don’t know if I’ll go back and do more study. I don’t know anything yet, but I do that I’m going to make it. I’m going to be fine. And so is my beautiful, talented, amazing little sister. My heart aches for her, because I am feeling her pain as well as my own. But she is being incredibly brave and I am so, so proud of her.
Some people have asked if they can do anything to help. There isn’t a lot that people can do, practically, but I have already appreciated the emails and texts and phone calls. Just hearing somebody say “that really sucks, I am so devastated for you” brings me so much comfort. I don’t need or want heaps of advice right now — I’m not really at that stage just yet — but it’s just nice to know that people care. If you’re the praying kind, I’d appreciate as many prayers as possible. I’ve been feeling them already, and they have lifted me up and encouraged me in a way that I never imagined possible. Some of my friends have shared amazing verses of scripture that have spoken to my heart and given me the courage and strength to make it through another day. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to do that, you have no idea what it means to me.
Last night was date night, but not with my husband. Tyler and I went on a date together.
Yesterday morning, he told me he would wear “nice clothes” (he ended up wearing his new birthday clothes from Hallensteins!!) and we would go to a “nice restaurant” (we went to the Indian restaurant up the road).
He may not have worn a shirt & tie, and we may not have dined at a 5-star establishment, but it was PERFECT.
He looked perfect.
The food was perfect.
The atmosphere was perfect.
We had a wonderful time together, just the two of us.
It was just like a real date. We laughed and giggled. We sang (yes, in the restaurant). We took photos of each other, and the food. We chatted about all kinds of things. We shared each other’s food. Our waiter even commented on the fact that we were enjoying a “Mum and Son evening”.
After dinner, we went to Yoko for frozen yoghurt with lots of ‘help yourself’ toppings, and then came home to watch American Ninja Warrior.
Despite the fact that my date was asleep by 8.45pm, it really was a lovely way to spend the evening. I had time after he went to bed to watch unsuitable comedy on telly (TV3 Friday nights FTW) and then spent some time with Rob after he & Ethan came home from Youth Group at 10.30pm.
Thanks Tyler, for taking me out on a date. I didn’t even mind doing the driving and the paying! Let’s do it again sometime. Love you x
I’ve posted several times before about love, marriage, romance … about how love is a verb, not just a feeling. I truly believe this with all my heart. Today I read an article on this very topic, and I thought I would share it here. Sadly I don’t know who the original author is, so I cannot credit him/her. However, I really like the overall message in this, and I hope you do too.
Every relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls, want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love.
People in love sometimes say, “I was swept off my feet.” Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something happened TO YOU.
Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It’s a natural cycle of EVERY relationship.
Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.
At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, “Am I with the right person?” And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships break down.
The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.
People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfillment. Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it.
I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later.
Because (listen carefully to this): The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.
SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it.
Love is therefore a “decision”. Not just a feeling.
Here’s how I see it. Love might begin as a feeling, but real love can’t grow deeper and it won’t last if there isn’t a decision and a commitment behind it. I do believe that love is a verb, an action that requires involvement and participation. True love requires patience, forgiveness, sacrifice, compromise, understanding. You have to work at it, you have to put in some effort. And after nearly 15 years of marriage, I can say that the hard work is definitely worth it.
“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”
- F. Burton Howard
As I mentioned in my last post, I took a day off work last week to spend with the boys. We had intended to go to the Museum, but it was such a beautiful day that we decided we wanted to spend most of it outdoors.
We started the morning with a bush walk at Shakespear Regional Park, which is a beautiful nature park just a few minutes drive from our home. There are gorgeous beaches for swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing and collecting shellfish, acres of green grass, fantastic walks (including the one we did), picnic areas, a campground, mountain biking tracks. The area is home to farm animals and many varieties of native birds, all protected by pest- and predator-proof fences.
We walked to the Lookout along the Heritage Trail, which passes through Waterfall Gully. The first half of the walk is in the bush, where the waterfall can be found. Then second half is over open farmland, with amazing views in all directions.
Once at the lookout, we stopped for a drink and a snack. We listened to the army doing some kind of target practice in the distance. The land at the end of the peninsula is owned by the Ministry of Defence. The army purchased the land way back in World War II, and it was an important defence site during the war. They constructed pillboxes, searchlights, electrified barbed wire entanglements and an anti-tank ditch, the remains of which are still there today. We also spent some time looking out across the Hauraki Gulf, and locating our favourite islands: Rangitoto, Tiritiri Matangi, Kawau, Great Barrier, etc. We reminded ourselves how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.
Once we finished our walk, we stopped at one of the beaches (Okoromai Bay) for a picnic lunch. After lunch, the boys played rugby and I read my book. There were hardly any people around, and we were fortunate enough to spot a whole family of black swans swimming the length of the beach. Unfortunately I didn’t have my zoom lens so I didn’t get any photos of them. They were beautiful. The weather in the afternoon wasn’t quite as nice as the morning, so we decided to have a game of Ten Pin Bowling and get ice creams from Wendy’s. The boys kicked my butt at bowling! We picked up a couple of DVDs so we could have a family movie night when Rob got home. I made burritos for dinner, and we watched “Escape from Planet Earth”.
It was a lovely day for us to spend together. Because I’d been sick during the wfirst week of the holidays, I felt like I hadn’t done any ‘fun’ stuff with the boys. When I wasn’t working, I was sleeping. So to have a whole day without having to worry about work was just perfect. Rob was able to finish a bit earlier the next day, and surprised the kids by taking them to Dialled Tramp & Skate Park, a new indoor trampoline and skate park. They came home saying it was the most fun thing they had ever done!
Back to school yesterday, ready for the last term of 2013. It’s only a few weeks until Christmas now! I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. I know I say that every year, but it feels like time goes more quickly the older I get!
It’s been a crazy old week here.
Firstly, school holidays.
Secondly, I still have to work.
Thirdly, I’ve been really sick. Today is the first day in 8 when I haven’t had to take any pain killers. I’m pretty sure it’s a sinus infection but hopefully all the things I’ve been doing (regular pain relief, nasal sprays, Vicks, cough medicine, vitamin C, etc) have helped to kick it, without the need for antibiotics. I’ll know by the end of today whether or not it is truly on its way out. Right now I’m very grateful for the many citrus trees on our property, and for a husband who spends ages juicing oranges to help me boost my vitamin C levels.
Thankfully the boys have been really good. Well behaved and extra helpful. I wasn’t sure how the holidays were going to pan out, because the last school holidays were characterised by more arguing than I cared for. But this time, it has been much better. I’m sure the fact that I was sick (and still trying to work, apart from the 1.5 days of sick leave I ended up taking) encouraged them to get along well. Or perhaps the fighting last time was just an anomaly, since they usually get along pretty well. Whatever the reason, I’m glad.
Just prior to the start of the holidays, Tyler awarded me with a special certificate. In case you can’t read his writing, it was given to me for being the best referee. Not ‘retard’ as a couple of my Facebook friends thought!
Because I was sick, I had to cancel/postpone/miss quite a few fun events/outings last week. I missed out on several runs, a coffee/dessert night, a hair appointment, book club, manicures and pedicures with the girls. I was pretty sad about that. I was pleased that I still managed to meet up with Trace, Annelie, Megan and Michelle for dinner/dessert one night while Trace was up in Auckland for the week (in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have gone out as I felt much worse the next day … but I’m still glad I went). Thankfully I was well enough by Saturday afternoon to go to the rugby with Rob and the boys. We watched North Harbour play Otago at North Harbour Stadium, and we had a great time (despite the score; Harbour lost).
Back in the office yesterday, I had a meeting with my team leader. We both agreed that after last week, I could do with a day of annual leave to spend with my boys. So I’ve got Thursday off, and we’re going to spend the whole day together. We’ve decided to go to the Museum. My boys – especially Tyler – get frustrated when they visit the Museum on school trips, because of the rushed nature of the visits. They want more time to look at things properly. So that’s what we’ll do on Thursday. If the weather is nice, we might also have a picnic or go for a walk.
I’m REALLY looking forward to a day off with my boys. Rob is hoping to have Friday off so that he can do something fun with them too. And yesterday my parents took them into the city for the day. They played Lost in Time mini golf and the boys spent some of their money at Factorie.
This weekend we’re off to another rugby game – North Harbour vs Canterbury. Then it’s back to school next Monday for the final term of 2013. Despite the craziness and busyness of Term 4, it reminds me of what is to come. Summer. Christmas. New Year. Holidays. All things I dearly love. I’m already super excited about Daylight Savings starting. For me, it represents lots of great things. Running outside in the evenings with my little sister. BBQ dinners on the deck. Open doors and windows. Bare feet. Short sleeves. Walks on the beach in the evening sunshine. The promise of being able to swim very, very soon (or now, if you are a kid, an old person, or just plain crazy).
My whole mood changes at this time of year, and I am filled with anticipation. And now that I’m feeling well again, I’m able to really appreciate all those things. The weather was absolutely gorgeous last week but sadly I was too sick to be able to get outside and enjoy it. I will be endeavouring to change that over the coming weeks. Bring on summer – I can’t wait!
On my wedding day, my mother-in-law gave Rob & I one piece of advice. She said it was the only unsolicited advice she would ever give us, and I have to say that she has been true to her word. Over the past 14 years, she has only ever given me (great) advice when I have sought it.
That one piece of advice has stuck with me over the years – I guess that was her intention. So many times, her words have come to mind and reminded me of what is important, and what is not.
This was her advice: “Keep a loose hold – a very loose hold – of your material possessions.”
That’s it. Nothing overly complicated or controversial, just a very wise comment based on a lifetime of experience and observations.
Both Rob & I grew up in homes where we had what we needed, but not too much more. We weren’t poor, but we definitely weren’t rich. I know my parents often struggled to make ends meet, and worked hard to make sure we had food on the table and clothes on our backs. Rob recalls only ever wearing hand-me-downs from his older brother and cousin, and eating things like battered luncheon sausage when money was tight.
As a result, both of us are pretty conservative when it comes to spending money. Rob more so than me! We try to make sensible and responsible decisions about how we spend our money. We own our home, but it’s a modest one. We could probably afford to have a bigger mortgage and a ‘nicer’ house, but that’s not what’s important to us. We could probably drive newer cars, but we would rather not have money tied up in vehicles.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be rather nice to win $33 million in Lotto (although we don’t play, because we both think buying tickets is a waste of money). I can easily admire photos of beautiful houses and high fashion. But I feel that I can appreciate all of these things without feeling (too) jealous, thanks to my mother-in-law’s sage advice.
When it comes down to it, at the end of the day, the best things in life aren’t things. The important things in life are the people who are in it. For me, those people are my husband, my children, my family, and my friends. I don’t want to have an unhealthy attachment to my material possessions, because I know I cannot take any of them with me when I go! I also know that I could live in a cardboard box on the street with my loved ones and still feel rich. Likewise, I could live in a beautiful mansion all by myself and still be wanting. It has been said many times that nobody lies on their death bed wishing they had more ‘stuff’.
Our short-term mission trip to Fiji last year allowed me yet another reminder of how money and ‘things’ cannot make us truly happy. The people I met over there had next to nothing, and yet they were so incredibly content and satisfied. They had so much joy, the kind of true happiness that one just doesn’t see very often in our Western culture. It was inspirational, and I came home determined to live my life very differently. That’s not an easy task, but I like to think I’m trying.
Anthon St. Maarten says: “We have created a manic world nauseous with the pursuit of material wealth. Many also bear their cross of imagined deprivation, while their fellow human beings remain paralyzed by real poverty. We drown in the thick sweetness of our sensual excess, and our shameless opulence, while our discontent souls suffocate in the arid wasteland of spiritual deprivation.”
How true. Sad, but true.
I’ll be forever grateful to my mother-in-law for sharing that little pearl of wisdom with us back in 1999. It is a phrase I have shared many times with my own children, in the hope that they will learn to place value on the things that are really important. Right now, material possessions are hugely important to them, but they are learning some lessons about that. Lessons that I myself had to learn as a child. I never had label brands when I was growing up, and I’m sure I felt hard done by because “everyone else” did. But I soon grew to understand the concept of paying for a name, and I hardly ever do it. We were at the mall last weekend. Ethan had his eye on a $70 singlet at the Quicksilver shop, but I showed him a $7 one at K-Mart that looked almost identical. A teachable moment. It’s my job to teach him about being smart with money and about placing the right emphasis on things. Like placing a smaller emphasis on ‘things’.
I won’t apologise for ending my post with a bible verse, because after all, the bible is what I base my values and beliefs on.
Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message)
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”