This is the new orthodontic appliance that Tyler got last week:




This is the second stage in his orthodontic treatment, after already having a palatal expander to widen his upper jaw. The Herbst will encourage lower jaw growth and bring it forward. After all this he will need braces.

I wasn’t sure how he would adjust to it, but he has been such a trooper! For the first day, he ate mostly soft/liquid foods like soup, yoghurt, pureed fruit, etc. It didn’t take him long to be able to eat food like pikelets, English muffins, diced fruit, etc. He’s not quite at the stage where he could eat a steak or anything, and there are some foods he will not be allowed for the entire year that he has to wear the Herbst (gum, caramel, sticky/chewy lollies, hard nuts, ice).

I’m really proud of him! He’s done amazingly well and I know it can’t be easy. But it will all be worth it (and worth the $$$$ too, I’m sure).

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Being mindful


It’s the ‘buzz word’ right now. Everyone is talking about how to be more mindful.

Psychology Today describes mindfulness this way:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

As you are all aware, I am a Christian. Many Christians have a problem with the idea of mindfulness because of its Buddhist roots. While it’s true that mindfulness (and meditation) is a Buddhist practice, the mindfulness that I’m talking about (and that most of the Western world is talking about) is actually devoid of spirituality.

When you take away the spiritual side of mindfulness, you really just have an intentional focus on being aware and present. It’s not about ’emptying your mind’ (which is how meditation is viewed by many Christians). It is being aware of your thoughts, and clearing away the erroneous junk that crowds our brain. Put it this way: what is the opposite of mindfulness?


Only half listening to someone talk while you’re busy doing something else.
Eating without thinking about what you’re eating.
Extreme multitasking (aka doing too many things at once).
Running on autopilot and not remembering how you got from point A to point B.

Mindfulness is the opposite.

Listening intently to someone when they are talking to you.
Eating slowly and savouring each mouthful (and stopping when you are full).
Concentrating on a task so it is done well, then moving onto the next one with a sense of achievement.
Taking time to enjoy the solitude of a car trip, looking out the window and admiring the scenery.

I’d rather do the stuff in list two. So I’m actually on board with this business of being mindful. I’m not into weird stuff like alternate nostril breathing or staring at a lit candle for an hour but I am trying to focus on the present a lot more. Instead of yearning for the past or worrying about the future, I like to think about what I can be doing right now. To live in the moment. Not frivolously or recklessly, but intentionally. To enjoy the little things — because I’ve actually noticed them and been aware of them, rather than letting them pass me by.

Several different activities have been purported as ways to promote mindfulness. Everything from adult colouring books to washing dishes by hand. Both of these I can relate to!

Along with half the population, I’ve jumped on the adult colouring bandwagon. I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. Besides the fact that I’m an arty/crafty person, I enjoy the fact that it allows me ‘down time’ and helps me de-stress.

Several years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to wash my dishes every night. This used to be my most hated chore. But I have kept this resolution ever since. Along the way, we got rid of our dishwasher and we have been washing our dishes by hand ever since. It’s now a chore I don’t mind doing. I get a lot of thinking done while I do the dishes!

Who would have thought? Colouring in and washing dishes! :-)


I haven’t blogged for ages, but lots of things have been happening.

I’m dealing with a shoulder issue. I’ve been dealing with it since February this year, and it’s far from resolved. Basically, my whole left shoulder is ‘a mess’ (those were the radiographer’s words) and I may need surgery. I’ve got several things going on: bursitis, impingement, multiple tears in multiple tendons and (the main problem) calcium deposits in the tendons of my rotator cuff. This causes severe pain, which I have been living with on a daily basis. There were a few beautiful pain-free months in there, thanks to an injection of cortisone. But sadly that has now worn off, and repeat scans and x-rays have confirmed the problem remains (slightly worse, or much the same, but definitely no improvement). Tomorrow I am seeing an orthopaedic surgeon and will know more about what the future may hold. I don’t know if he will recommend surgery or not, but if he doesn’t then I am demanding another steroid injection because I want to actually enjoy my summer holidays!! Life is painful right now, and I’ve quite frankly had enough.

What else is going on? Well, Ethan has just finished his first real exams. Only 2-hour ones in Year 9, but this is practice for the real thing in Year 11 (NCEA). He’s got results back for most of them, and has done well so far. He’s not sure why they have to bother going to school for another 3 weeks since exams are over, and asked if he could ‘have a few days off’. I told him he will soon be having TWO MONTHS off, and that would have to do!

Tyler’s sick with a nasty tummy bug at the moment, but is on the mend. He did well in his school athletics last week, coming FIRST in high jump! So he is off to interschools soon. A great achievement for his last year at primary school. He was chuffed. Sprints have always been his ‘thing’ but he’s had a really painful heel lately (Sever’s Disease, we think) so he didn’t do quite as well in the running this year (he came about 3rd/4th in his heats, instead of 1st/2nd).

I’m looking forward to Christmas! Are you? It’s only a few weeks away now and I am especially excited about finishing work a lot earlier than I usually do this year. My last day will be 18 December, and I’m looking forward to the following week where I can shop, wrap presents, bake and do all those things without feeling rushed off my feet! Plus, I will get to spend lots of quality time with the boys, who will both be off school. Yay! :-)

Okay, have to rush off now and finish dinner but I will try to post again soon. I know my posts are few and far between these days. I think I need to post some photos next time! :-)

Brain soup

I don’t know about you, but my brain is constantly swirling with ‘stuff’. Thoughts, ideas, concerns, worries, dreams, plans, random musings … it never, ever stops.

One of my favourite things to say to my husband is: “It must be nice living in your head.” Not because I assume he doesn’t use his brain, but because I know for a FACT that he doesn’t have *quite* as many things knocking around in there, messing the place up. He seems to be remarkably clear-headed most of the time, while I quite often have a million things that I need to ‘brain dump’ somewhere … be it at work (writing manuscripts), in my diary/planner, at home (stuff the family need to know about, questions I need to ask them), at church, with friends (catching up! … which guys don’t seem to do in the same way as us girls … they just hang out and there’s not a huge amount of talking … seems rather nice and easy).

There is that other little thing, though. He doesn’t remember all the stuff I remember. Which means it’s not in his head to swirl around in the first place. He also doesn’t worry. About anything. No idea what that’s actually like, but it seems rather lovely.

When I go to bed at night, my head is full of All. Of. The. Things. The day just been, the next day, the coming week/month/year and beyond. What happened today? Why did that happen? Did I get everything right? (probably not). Did I do anything wrong? (fairly likely). If so, how do I fix it/stop worrying about/let it go? What do I have to remember to do tomorrow? What’s on my ‘to do’ list? How many errands do I need to run, and when will I do them? What do the kids have on that I need to remind them about? Does Tyler have an orthodontist appointment? Is there a mufti day they need $1 for? Have I filled in that permission slip? Is their homework done and in their bag? Has Ethan been revising for exams? How is it possible that I have a child old enough to be sitting EXAMS? Have they remembered about soccer/tag/refereeing/drums/pamphlets/athletics/youth this afternoon? Who is picking up who from what and when? We really should start a taxi company. We’re oh so good at it, albeit a little lenient when it comes to charging for rides.

So, what is it like to live in my head? It’s a bit crazy at times. Today is Friday (or at least it will be when this post gets published). It’s the Friday before a long weekend. I have next to NO plans. That should be an occasion for celebration! ‘No plans’ is a misnomer when it comes to my life. I always have plans. So many plans. Too many plans. I should be positively GIDDY with the anticipation of a weekend with barely any plans. I am, kinda. But part of me is also a little concerned. WHY do I have no plans? Something must have been forgotten! Shock, horror!

The thing is, I generally don’t forget things. I have an old school paper diary that I write everything in (if it wasn’t for the diary, I would definitely forget things … and be completely lost). When I say I write everything in my diary, I mean EVERYTHING. So many ‘to do’ lists. There’s one TV show that Rob & I watch religiously every week: Downton Abbey. It’s on Thursday nights on a channel that doesn’t have a ‘plus one’ version or an ‘on demand’ (online) service. We have a DVD recorder but it’s not a fancy one that you can programme to record every episode in a series. Ergo, if we don’t remember to watch the show at 8:30, we have missed it. We cannot catch up. Can you see where this is heading? That’s right, in my diary on Thursday nights I have the following entry: DA 8:30.

What is it about me that I a) actually write things like that in my diary, b) remember to write things like that in my diary and c) continue to exist without spontaneously combusting because my brain is too full? Like I said, it might be nice to live in someone else’s head for a day. It might be quieter in there. Less ‘soupy’.

I know many of you will be able to relate completely to what I am saying. You can relate, right? Please tell me you can. I’d feel much better about things if I knew I wasn’t alone in this. It feels like my brain is full, but I know that’s not actually the case. Brains are not like hard drives, with finite amounts of memory. They don’t really get full. I have learned over the years that a good filing system is crucial, and I think I have a pretty good handle on that. But there are days – and today just might be one of them – where the filing system gets a bit messy. A few cards haven’t been filed properly. They’ve just been thrown into the box, and now things are not fitting in a neat and orderly fashion.

So perhaps this weekend I will take some time to sort out that filing system. Give it a spring clean (good thing it’s still Spring). Tidy things up, put them away where they belong. Tick a few things off my empty ‘to do’ list, just so I can get the joy of seeing those tick marks. I love them so.

Maybe that will help get things back in order again. For a little while, at least. After all, DECEMBER is on its way. I absolutely adore December, but it does have a nasty habit of throwing up all over my diary and messing things up a little. School events and sports days and prizegivings and graduations and camps and work functions and parties and meetings and end-of-year get-togethers and planning and shopping, oh my! It’s worth it though, for what comes after all of that. CHRISTMAS! And NEW YEAR! And SUMMER! And HOLIDAYS! This year, I’m taking 3 full weeks off work for the first time in forever, which gives me a deliciously long break. I’ll be on holidays from 18 December until 11 January … can I get a high five, people?! My brain will most definitely be having a break during that time. Well, as much of a break as my brain can handle, right? ;-)

I am …

Reading …

“Waking Hours”, the first novel in the East Salem series by Lis Wiehl. It’s good so far. There are a few more books in the series so I should be set for reading material for a while.
I’ve just finished reading Miranda Hart’s book “Is It Just Me?” (brilliant) and “Close Your Eyes”, the first Kendra Michaels novel by Iris and Roy Johansen (I’ve got the next 2 waiting to read).

Wearing …

Bare feet, a black top and THE MOST COMFORTABLE PANTS IN THE WORLD, which I bought a few weeks ago. They are soft cotton harem style pants with an elasticated drawstring waist and cuffed ankles. Navy blue & white geometric pattern. Unbelievably cosy and pyjama-like, yet acceptable to wear anywhere. WINNING!

Watching …

The 2015 Rugby World Cup. OF COURSE.
Rizzoli & Isles season 1 on DVD. I love Tess Gerritsen’s novels, and the show is based on them. I’m a late convert, I realise. I think they’re making season 8 or something. The acting IS quite cheesy, but I actually really love the actors who play Jane and Maura.
As a family we’re excited to start watching season 6 of The Middle tonight. It’s our fave.
Rob & I are also re-watching Downton Abbey in preparation for the final series which is about to screen here in NZ. Sad that it’s ending, but I also don’t like it when really good TV shows go on for too long and circle around the runway for ages instead of just landing already! Better to go out on a good note a little early.

Listening …

Tyler got a James Bay CD for his birthday and I’m really liking it! He plays it a lot at home. It may or may not be on right now (it is).
I’ve found myself listening to the radio to & from work in the car, instead of CDs (probably because I no longer have a passenger who can change them for me while I’m driving, now that my little sister is not working at the same place). Life FM is my station. One of the bands I love at the moment is For KING & COUNTRY, especially their song “Shoulders”. Also enjoying new stuff by Mat Kearney, Capital Kings, Plumb and The Soorleys. My favourite worship song right now is “Good Good Father” (I like the version by Zealand Worship ft. Phil Joel).

Eating …

Healthy. Ish. Sort of. I have just starting running again so I’m trying not to undo my good work by eating rubbish. Although I had brownie last night and I ate a few sausage rolls today. We had a morning tea at work and the word “over-catered” comes to mind.
Rob is cooking dinner at the moment. Lamb chops. Smells amazing. I need to go for a run tomorrow!

Getting away

It’s the school holidays here in NZ (our version of “Spring Break”) so we decided to take an opportunity to have a family vacation up north. Rob’s family live in Whangarei, which is classified as the “Far North” and is about 2 hours drive from where we live. We ventured a lot further north this time … about 2 hours further. We rented a friend’s bach in Whatuwhiwhi on the Karikari Peninsula, Doubtless Bay. Actually, we’re still here! We were offered an extra night free of charge, so after checking with our bosses, we took the offer. We head home tomorrow (reluctantly).

While up here, we decided to make the further 1.5 hour trip to Cape Reinga, the very tip of the North Island. Rob and I have both visited the cape before, but it was a first for the boys. On the way back, we stopped at the Te Paki giant sand dunes and the boys were in heaven! We’ve done a lot of driving and have visited a number of gorgeous beaches … Whatuwhiwhi, Tokerau, Rangiputa, Puheke, Karikari, Matai Bay, Tapotupotu, Spirits Bay, 90 Mile Beach, Ahipara/Shipwreck Bay, Taipa, Mangonui, Coopers Beach and Cable Bay. The boys had their first swim of the season (remember, spring has only just started here).

Our evenings have been lovely. Late dinners thanks to daylight saving, then movie nights with popcorn and ice cream. We’ve introduced the boys to the Mission Impossible and James Bond movies, and they love them!

Here are a few photos from our holiday. The weather has been simply amazing and we have been so blessed to be able to really make the most of every single day, enjoying our beautiful country. We’ll make a few stops on our way home tomorrow, Kerikeri and Bay of Islands, then head into a fun-filled weekend of rugby, hanging out with old friends and more relaxing in the sunshine! Back to reality next week as work beckons for Rob and I (the boys are lucky to have another week off to enjoy more long, lazy days).



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Wow, I can’t believe my baby is 11 today! The time has just flown by, and soon he will be off to college and I’ll have no more primary school kids. In no time at all I will have two teenagers in the house (it sometimes feels like I already do).

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Tyler has been counting down the days until his birthday with great excitement, as he always does. This year is pretty cool, he has an action-packed few days coming up:

* Today all the kids in Year 6 are going to the Leisure Centre for the whole day to play games and swim. It’s a wrap-up of their DARE (drug & alcohol education) programme that they do in Term 3. Just happened to be on his birthday … bonus!
* Tonight my parents and sister are coming for dinner. Tyler has chosen the menu: chicken korma with naan bread, and chocolate cake!
* Tomorrow is the last day of Term 3. Tyler’s school house (kowhai) had the most points for the term so those kids get a free mufti day. His class is also having a shared morning tea, and he gets to order his lunch (that’s a birthday treat in our house).
* Tomorrow night Tyler will have his first night at our church youth group, which is for age 11 and up. Since Rob runs the group and Ethan has been going since he was 11, Tyler has been anxiously waiting for the day he was old enough to go. Even better, they’re going rock climbing (one of his faves!) and he’s got a good friend coming along.
* On Saturday we’re having a party for Tyler and 4 of his best mates. We’re going to hang out in our church basement which has a games room (pool, table tennis, darts, air hockey) and they’ll watch a movie on the projector screen while eating pizza and cake.
* On Sunday we’re going away for a wee family holiday, 5 days/4 nights up in the beautiful winterless north. Friends of ours have a bach at Whatuwhiwhi in Doubtless Bay, and we want to take the boys to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach. Can’t wait!

No wonder he has been excited!! Lots to look forward to.

There will be some big changes coming up for Tyler over the next year, but I know he’ll take them all in his stride and will make the most of all the great opportunities. I know it will be a fantastic year.

I’m really proud of my boy. He has his challenges to deal with, but I’m impressed with the way he handles them. He’s a kind & caring friend, a very hard worker, totally committed to everything he tries, has an awesome sense of humour and is just a lot of fun to be with! Love you, Tyler Robson. Happy 11th Birthday, fella! x

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Ruby Anniversary

*Warning – this post contains LOTS of photos!*

**Apologies if you’ve already seen these photos on Facebook**

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It’s no secret that I have amazing parents. In August, they celebrated 40 (FORTY!) years of marriage, and my sister Leah and I wanted to do something really special for them. First, we surprised them with tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert (in November). Second, we hosted a formal dinner party for them and 8 of their closest friends. I was head chef, Leah was my sous chef (and sommelier), Rob was maitre d’ and MC, and Ethan and Tyler were waiters.

Here are some photos from the big night, which was a huge success. Mum & Dad loved it and so did all their friends. It was a lot of hard work (I basically spent 12 hours in their kitchen!) but it was honestly heaps of fun to do this for them. They kept saying it was ‘so much effort for a couple of old fogies’ but (they’re not old, and) they deserved every last bit of effort that we made.

The invitations I made:

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Photos taken by the boys during the day:

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Tyler’s ‘Welcome’ sign outside the front door:

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Photo collage I made:

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Wedding photos from 23 August 1975:

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Photos from the past 40 years:

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Dinner table set in the living room:

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Table set for dinner:

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Mama’s place setting:

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Table decor:

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Bunting says “We Still Do” …

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Framed wedding photos:

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Heart-shaped collage that I made and framed:

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A red rose for Daddy and another one for Mama:

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More bunting, this one says “40 Years” and the sheet music is from “Because You Loved Me”, a special song for Daddy & Mama:

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Champagne glasses ready:

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Drinks list:

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Fresh flowers:

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Our theme colours were red, black and gold:

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Dinner Menu:

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Dressed up and ready for the guests to arrive:

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Rob the maitre d’ and MC:

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Cooking in progress:

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Tyler helping to serve:

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Entree: Pumpkin Soup

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Main course (option 1): bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken breast with Parmesan potato stack and winter veg

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Main course (option 2): French style slow cooked lamb shank with Parmesan potato stack and winter veg

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Dessert (option 1): Salted caramel and chocolate tart with ice cream and cream

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Dessert (option 2): Homestyle apple pie with ice cream and cream

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The guests enjoying their meal:

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Reading ‘telegrams’ from relatives/bridal party who couldn’t attend … this one was from Mum & Dad’s niece and flower girl Kaye Patterson of Greytown:

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Tyler reading a ‘telegram’ from groomsman Phil & his wife Shelley Jakobson in Summerland, Canada:

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Tea & Coffee on offer (sign written by Tyler):

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Beautiful mud cake made by Daddy & Mama’s neighbour Jade:

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Cake & tea in fancy china:

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Opening presents:

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Best Mum?

I thought my kids might be getting too old for me to post little anecdotes about the funny things they say. I haven’t done it in a long time! But I had to share this one. It’s perfect!

Conversation with Ethan (age 13) last night.

Me: “Do you love me?”

Ethan: “Yep!”

Me: “Am I the best Mum in the world?”

Ethan: “Hmm, I’m not sure. I don’t really know that many Mums.”

Me: “Well, am I the best Mum you know?”

Ethan: “Definitely.” (gives me a hug)

Ethan: “Although … my friends’ Mums are all really nice to me.”

Me: “You mean, you only see your friends’ Mums on their best behaviour.”

Ethan: “Yeah. They don’t yell or anything when I’m around. You are a good Mum, but sometimes you get mad and stuff.”

Me: “Your friends’ Mums might yell and get mad when you’re not there.”

Ethan: “Yeah.”

Me: “But I’m really nice to your friends, aren’t I?”

Ethan: “Of course!”

Me: “So I probably AM the best Mum you know. I’ll take that.”