Wow

I can’t believe it. For the first time ever since I started blogging in 2005, I have gone a month without posting. June 2016 never existed according to this blog! I always swore this would NEVER happen, but alas, life took over last month and kind of threw me for a loop.

I can’t really talk about much of it here, not in detail anyway. In a few words, there were scary health issues, waiting for test results, BAD bullying of one of my boys, stressful work ‘stuff’ … all on top of my chronic shoulder pain. It has been 18 months now and I am waiting for surgery. Waiting … waiting …

I hate waiting.

Anyway. Life goes on, right? And blogging takes a back seat. Well, more of a back seat that it already had. Which was pretty far back, to be honest. I’m sorry. I do intend to post at least once a month from now on. I’m bummed that I missed June, I really am. But it wasn’t the nicest month and I’m kind of okay about saying goodbye to it. There were a few nice things in there – like my beautiful Mama’s birthday! – but mostly it was sad.

Moving on!

When I find time, I will post about something else. Something nicer. But I don’t have time right now. I’m busy making the most of life and looking for the good things each day. They ARE there, if you make the effort to look for them. Even amongst the bad, sad stuff, they are there. I just didn’t really look enough last month, but I’m determined to look more closely from now on. Appreciate those little things, those moments. Relax, stress less, look after ME. I can do it.

And I will be back. I promise!

Fourteen

IMG_5958 (1600x1067)

Ethan turned 14 this week. He’s grown so much lately. At the start of the year, he was about 1/2 inch shorter than me. He would ask me every day or so, “Am I taller than you yet, Mum?” … sure enough, it wasn’t long before he caught up, and then kept on growing! We checked again on his birthday and now he’s 4cm taller than me! I’m not short, so it’s going to take some getting used to! His feet are huge and he’s quickly growing out of most of his clothes. I feel like there’s another man in the house. He’s definitely not a boy anymore.

He let me take a photo of him on his birthday before he headed off to school. Same as the past 3 years. I just HAD to make this photo collage – look how much he has changed in just a short time!

Ethan 14-15y (1132x1600)

My sister’s birthday is the day before Ethan’s, and we usually have a joint family celebration for them. Ethan even wrote in Leah’s card, “I love having our birthdays consecutively and sharing the attention!” … he is not one for lots of attention, so this is very true! Sharing it makes it easier for him. Last year was the first year he didn’t want a birthday party, and nothing’s changed this year. I guess it’s partly his age, but mostly his personality. He prefers our low-key family dinners, and would rather spend time with a couple of good friends than have a big party with heaps of people. He did love his birthday parties when he was younger though!

On Leah’s birthday (the day before Ethan’s) we went out for dinner as a family (including my parents) to celebrate both birthdays. Leah & Ethan chose a local Southern American restaurant, Jambalaya. It was super yum! Mum had made a chocolate cake and we sang “Happy Birthday” in the restaurant (which probably embarrassed them both but we had to do it).

Because Ethan’s birthday was a Friday, the boys had youth group. They went to Parakai Hot Pools. I made butter chicken – one of Ethan’s favourites – for an early dinner and then they headed off for the evening. It was a little strange not spending more of the day with him, but he loved going to the pools with his mates (and Rob was there too, since he’s the youth group leader). Unfortunately Tyler was sick so he had to stay home with meūüė¶

The day after Ethan’s birthday, I made him a carrot cake which we had for afternoon tea at Mum & Dad’s place. We had bought tickets for the Blues vs Crusaders rugby game at Eden Park ages ago, thinking it would be a fun thing to do for Leah & Ethan’s birthdays, as they both love rugby (well, we all do). Unfortunately Tyler and Mum were not feeling 100%, so they didn’t come. But Rob, Ethan, Dad, Leah and I went and had a fun night. The weather wasn’t perfect, but we had our ponchos!

13323601_10154317856753319_77913524229250344_o (2)

In terms of presents, this year Ethan only wanted new pieces for his drum kit. He obviously wants to choose them himself, so we (and most family members) gave him the best gift a 14-year-old could ask for: cold, hard cash:-) He already had lots of money saved up from his part-time job, and together with his birthday money he should be able to get either a brand new kit, or some new pieces to replace ones that need updating. Exciting!

IMG_5955 (1600x1067)

So, Happy Birthday, Ethan Jakob! 14 years ago today, you made me a Mum. And ever since, you have given me and your Dad so much joy. I’m not a bit biased: you are a truly delightful human being! You are kind, smart, strong, hard working, fun to be with and an absolute delight to parent. I have loved watching you grow into a wonderful young man, and I’m incredibly proud of you. Still can’t believe you’re taller than me though! Love you xx

17 years

Rob & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last weekend. Wow, 17 years! So many people were surprised it had been that long. I guess we did get married pretty young (I was 21, he was 25). I’m at the point where I can say I’ve been with Rob for more than half my life – and that’s really fantastic!

I’ve posted before about our anniversary traditions. Ever since our 1st anniversary, we have given ‘traditional’ gifts. Paper, cotton, leather, etc. It gets hard after 10 years because there aren’t always traditional gifts for all the ‘non-important’ years. I mean, there’s stuff for 20, 25, 30, 40, etc. So sometimes we have to go with the ‘modern’ anniversary gifts when the traditional ones aren’t known. 17 years is furniture, and we have decided to get a joint present … a new TV! I’m not sure a TV is technically furniture, but we need one and I want one … so it fits this time!ūüėČ We haven’t bought it yet but we are looking. Quite exciting.

Our anniversary was on a Sunday, so we opted for a lunch celebration rather than a dinner. Rob organised it, and booked us a table at Mikano in Auckland. He had never been there, and I had been once (years ago) for a work Christmas function. It’s set in a beautiful spot, right on the harbour. There’s a helipad right outside, and when you sit at the tables in the restaurant you can see helicopters taking off and landing, with a gorgeous view of the harbour and Devonport in the background. Stunning!

Speaking of stunning, the food was A-MAZ-ING! So delicious, beautifully presented and the perfect size. We were a bit concerned that eating a 3-course meal for lunch might not go down too well, but it was just right. Not too big and we didn’t leave feeling stuffed!

13086643_10154252358708319_6957507036243929047_o (2)

Clockwise, from top left: Mikano Crab Lasange w Lemon Butter Sauce and Watercress Shoots (my entree) / Roasted Lamb Rump in Green Chermoula w Parsley Couscous Salad and Pomegranate Dressing (Rob’s main) / King Garlic Prawns w Tomato, Parsley, Crouton & Confit Shallots (Rob’s entree) / Apple Crumble w Vanilla Ice Cream (my dessert) / Cr√®me Brul√®√® w Biscotti (Rob’s dessert) / Kiwi Snapper Wrapped in Prosciutto w Garlic Mash Potato & Parsley Cream Sauce (my main)

After lunch we walked around Wynyard Quarter and had hot drinks at one of the cafes there. On our way home we stopped to buy new hair straighteners for me (they had DIED that morning! It was an emergency purchase!) and then headed home to spend the evening with our boys. We had bubbles and a cheeseboard and it was lovely:-)

I’m so happy that I have been able to spend the last 17 years married to my best friend. He is the best husband in the world (sorry, but it’s true!) and also an incredible Dad to our boys. I love spending my life with him and I’m excited about celebrating many more years together. We’re planning a tropical island holiday for our 20th (we went to Fiji for our 10th) and although that’s 3 years away I am already feeling quite excited about it!

Me & my other boy

Back when Ethan was 10, I planned a special weekend for the two of us. We stayed in a fancy hotel, ate out at restaurants, used the hotel pool, spa and sauna, watched rugby on the TV on our room and just had a wonderful time together. You can read about it here.

Tyler is going to be 12 in September, and we still hadn’t done our special “Mum & Son Weekend” … until last weekend! I finally found a good weekend, booked it in … and then we both got sick (Tyler more so than me). The night before we were due to leave, he was feeling really miserable. He was sad because he thought he wouldn’t have a good time, and I was sad because he was sad! But we prayed for him, and the next day he woke up feeling much better.

We had a really wonderful time together. Instead of staying in Auckland City, as Ethan and I had done, we stayed at The Spencer on Byron in Takapuna (slightly closer to home). I wanted to avoid the CBD as they are doing a lot of construction work at the moment. Takapuna is a great place, with plenty of shops and restaurants and a lovely beach, and I made sure the hotel had a pool and spa!

The whole idea of this weekend was to have special one-on-one time with my boy, and he got to choose everything we did. I did suggest a few things to do before we checked into our hotel though, including a ferry trip from Devonport to Auckland. It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, and we were able to have lunch in the city before getting the ferry back to the other side.

13029587_10154233922593319_2767491255400660980_o (2)

We stopped outside the ferry terminal to take photos of two clydesdale horses who were pulling a cart. The guy asked if we wanted to take a tour, and Tyler decided we would. It was a great experience! We got to ride all around Devonport and see things from a different perspective. We both really enjoyed it. After the horse and cart ride, it was finally time to check in to our hotel. The first thing Tyler wanted to do was hit the pool! It was outside, but heated. The spa was lovely and I spent most of my time in there.

13048141_10154234088228319_3685602006584574440_o (2)

We spent the rest of our day exploring, taking photos, eating yummy food and watching rugby (Chiefs vs Hurricanes) on the TV on our hotel room. We don’t have SKY at home, so it was great to be able to watch the game live. As part of our booking, we received a free pizza which we had AFTER dinner … needless to say, we only ate half of it and left the rest in the fridge!

13072686_10154234361913319_2530066572292960392_o (2)

On Sunday morning we indulged ourselves with the buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant (only affordable because we had a $25 voucher to spend there). Tyler was in heaven! I don’t think he had ever had a buffet breakfast before, but he loved it and ate my money’s worth of food! Unfortunately Sunday was a bit wet and wild, so we couldn’t do any outdoor activities. We decided to check out a bit earlier than we had originally planned and catch a movie – Kung Fu Panda 3 – followed by the BEST hot chocolates ever at Paper Moon. It was such a nice way to end our special weekend.

13029415_10154236362553319_1255585268657240466_o (2)

I know Tyler really enjoyed himself, especially as he had been looking forward to ‘his turn’ for such a long time! 3 years since Ethan’s one! It was lovely for me to spend so much time with him on his own, and it made me realise once again what an awesome person he is. He’s so much fun to hang out with. We had so many laughs and great conversations.

13041317_10154235780923319_3029691527796782376_o (2)

I’m so pleased I made time for these special weekend getaways with each of my boys. I know the memories we have made will last a lifetime, and that’s pretty neat. If you have kids, I encourage you to think about taking each of them away on a special trip like this. It doesn’t have to be a flash hotel getaway – Rob has done a trip with each of them (the “Big Weekend”) and slept in the back of the station wagon! But for me, money wasn’t really an issue. Whatever I spent on each of these weekends was well worth it. Actually, I’d go as far as to say they were both ‘priceless’.

Lately …

I was right, this blogging thing has definitely become a monthly thing! I’m not quite ready to let the blog die, so a monthly update on what’s been happening and/or what I’m thinking, baking, capturing or creating will have to suffice.

Since my last post, a lot has happened.

The boys represented their college at interschools – Ethan for athletics (high jump) and Tyler for swimming (freestyle and backstroke). Tyler has thrown himself into every sport he possibly can, doing zone days for everything from tag rugby to futsal to hockey! He is loving all the opportunities.

The boys finished up their summer Athletics season. It’s been great for keeping them fit and they both really enjoy it. There’s a guy who takes photos each week and he captured some really neat shots of both boys.

12800175_10154072568913319_3503796966759322664_n (2)

5981fa_936aa15552004985955c266ae748c034

_QRgdQPCCO4zTbPNyq-c4TKxaqN7KWqAZVI9vpzH55A

5981fa_f780dff1d4c6468bb69acfc6d50a0fbb

My Mum had a total knee replacement, which went VERY well. She is recovering nicely and I’m really proud of her. It’s a painful operation and the postop exercises are also painful, but she is working really hard and achieving really good results.

We celebrated Easter. It was a busy time, with Mum only just home from hospital and a big Easter Art Exhibition at our church that Rob, Tyler and I all helped with. Rob read stories in the kids area, and Tyler and I both helped in the cafe. Tyler was an excellent waiter!¬†We had a roast lamb dinner with my parents and sister on Good Friday, which was really nice. This year Ethan decided that he wanted to do an Easter Egg hunt for Rob & I, since we always do them for the kids! He biked up to the mall, bought Easter eggs with his own money, and organised a hunt for us on Sunday morning. It was a race, and I won! It was so sweet of him to want to do that for us. I think we have a pretty awesome teenager! As a family we also¬†went to see the new movie, “Risen”. Cliff Curtis, a NZ actor, plays the part of Jesus. Awesome movie – what a great way to end our Easter Sunday!

12891615_10154145525193319_6313755538605608977_o (2)

12795133_10154145828333319_1977917870912313926_o (2);

12819338_10154151959353319_6830700912449621423_o (2)

We bought Tyler a guitar, as he is going to be starting lessons next Term. He’s already playing it lots, thanks to my Dad who was able to restring and tune it for him. I know he can’t wait to learn some songs, and it won’t be long before he does as he is so passionate about it!

12440656_10154148705738319_5252930385331531049_o (2)

I took a couple of days off work to help look after Mum¬†after she came home from hospital. One of those days just happened to be my 38th birthday. Now, my lovely Mama usually makes me a birthday cake, but she obviously wasn’t able to this year. So I made my own birthday cake for the first time ever! It was quite fun, really. Since I had the day off work, I had plenty of time to do it in between watching DVDs with Mum. I tried a new egg- and dairy-free recipe for Crazy Italian Chocolate Cake and it was really nice!¬†I enjoyed my birthday this year. I know I’m getting close to the big 4-0 but I don’t care at all. I’m happy, no regrets. My family & friends really spoiled me with lovely gifts, cards and flowers. I felt very special – a lovely birthday indeed!

12719418_10154172940198319_5250813928233813810_o (2)

12888762_10154173717418319_9003573760788480687_o (2)

The soccer (football) season kicked off last weekend, which is always exciting in our house. This year I am managing Ethan’s 14th grade team and Rob is co-coaching Tyler’s 12th grade team. Our Saturdays are spent watching our boys run around and have a blast. We love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Looking forward to another fantastic season for both teams.

12672172_10154181810128319_3343898361160138070_o (2)

Last weekend Tyler also competed in his 3rd Weet-Bix Tryathlon. This year they moved the North Shore event¬†from Narrow Neck (Devonport) to our neighbourhood. In fact, they moved it to the park that is quite literally right behind our house! It was great having it so close. We didn’t have to get up at 5:30am as we have done in previous years. We slept in until a more reasonable hour, and woke to the sounds of people arriving at the park, and music playing in the ‘village’. We walked AROUND THE CORNER, and we were there. Tyler put his bike in transition, chatted to some mates, and then we went home for breakfast. We headed back to the park for the pre-race briefing at 8:30, and found that his age group was LAST and not due to start their race until 11am. So it was back home to chill out and watch all the action from our deck. The bike leg went past our house twice (4 times for the older kids who did 2 laps), so we had a really great view of all the competitors. The beach is only 300m walk from our house so we strolled down just a few minutes before Tyler’s group were due to start, and watched him do the swim leg. Rob and Ethan saw him go to transition, and then we headed back to our own driveway to watch him cycle past our house (4 times). The neighbours were out there with their lawn chairs and cups of tea. It was fantastic! Then we wandered back around the corner to the park, just in time to see him finishing the run and getting his medal. Great day and perfect weather!:-)

12919699_999748283434308_8214255223981400499_n (2)

12901242_10154184032543319_6976807445734589912_o (2)

1Swim

2Bike

12890849_10154184042963319_884539599826475575_o (2)

3Run

4Medal

12961404_10154184094153319_5743608104670447647_o (2)

I had a wee operation on Friday. Nothing serious, but I was a little nervous beforehand. It all went well though, and I’m feeling pretty much back to normal again now. Good to have that issue ‘sorted’ … just need my shoulder to come right for good and I’ll be sweet as!

School holidays are coming up – I can’t believe Term 1 is nearly over already! – and Tyler and I have something special planned. When Ethan was 10, he and went on a special “Mum & Son Weekend”. We stayed at a flash hotel in town, and had a great time. You can read all about it here. Tyler is going to be 12 in September, so he’s had to wait a LONG time for HIS weekend … but it’s finally booked in for the middle weekend of the holidays. We are both really excited. I’ll definitely take photos like I did with Ethan, as it’s great to look back on that weekend now and remember how special it was. I’m really looking forward to having some special time with Tyler, and I know he is too.

That’s about it for now! I guess I’ll have a lot to catch you up on next time I post …ūüėČ

Monthly

I think that’s probably how many times I envisage posting on my blog from now on. Monthly. As in, once a month. It got down to twice a month over the past couple of years, and I feel like I have even less to write about now! Mostly because my kids are getting older, I am no longer scrapbooking, and I am extremely time-poor. But also, I just don’t feel the urge to blog as I used to. Not many people read, and that’s okay.

Anyway, I thought I would just pop in briefly to mention that yes, I am still alive. Life is keeping me busy, and we are settling in to the new routines of 2016. Both boys at the same school, my job going well, and our days/weeks filled up with lots and lots of stuff. Pretty boring, really!

I hope to feel inspired to write something meaningful and interesting soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to say hello to any readers I do have left! I’m determined to post at least once a month so that my blog archives don’t have any gaps … that’s the OCD in me coming out. So you will hear from me again … I promise!

Time for an update

I’m sorry, peeps. I have been very absent of late (more so than usual!) as we’ve had a lot¬†of stuff going on.

Almost 2 weeks ago, my friend Mel passed away¬†from¬†stage 4 breast cancer. It was a very sad time, especially because I didn’t get to see her after she was moved to Hospice, as she got sick very quickly and died¬†only a few days later. I did manage to write her a long message saying everything I wanted to say, and I know she read it because she replied. Mel and I had been friends since we were kids. She was only a year younger than me, with 2 young children. Needless to say, it’s been a rough time for her family over the past 3 years, but she has fought so hard and was with us for a lot longer than the doctors thought she would. She was one of the bravest people I know, and I will miss her.

Less than a week after Mel’s passing, Rob’s father¬†Julian had a kidney transplant. He’s been in kidney failure for some time and has been on dialysis for over a year. Rob’s older brother Greg donated one of his¬†kidneys to Julian. A truly amazing gift!¬†The transplant took place¬†last Wednesday. There were a few complications with Julian’s operation, and he took a long time to come out of recovery. The hospital phoned us to say that his speech was not normal and they were sending him for a CT scan, so we were concerned that he may have had a stroke. Thankfully the scan was clear and his speech came right a few hours later. Greg came home from hospital on Friday night, and Julian was moved from hospital to an apartment just down the road on Monday. For the next 6 weeks he will be living there, accompanied by a family member or friend, and will be having daily tests at the hospital. Julian’s partner, Rob’s siblings¬†and family friends are all taking turns to stay with him and take him to his appointments. Rob’s sister is with him now, and Rob will be staying with him for a week later this month.

In the middle of all of this, the boys went back to school.¬†Tyler started college (Year 7). He has settled in so well and absolutely LOVES it. He has a great teacher, good friends in his class and year, so he¬†is¬†very happy. Ethan is in Year 10 this year and he seems to be pretty happy with all of his teachers too. It was great for us that the back-to-school adjustment went so smoothly, as it has been a pretty¬†emotional time with everything else that has been going on (plus a few other things that I won’t go into on the blog). It’s great having both boys at the same school again. They walk to college together in the mornings, but walk home separately (usually with their own friends). I thought I would be more emotional about my ‘baby’ going to college, but he was so ready for it and is so happy there … how could I be sad? Although having said that, I would really like to freeze time RIGHT NOW because oh my goodness, ages 11 and almost 14 are fabulous! Loving this stage so much.

IMG_5854 (1600x1067)

IMG_5857 (1600x1067)

IMG_5858 (1600x1067)

IMG_5859 (1600x1067)

IMG_5860 (1600x1067)

So that’s my little update for now. I’m not sure when I’ll get time to post again. I’m only blogging today because I’m home from work with a bad cold. In summer! I feel quite ripped off!ūüėČ

Until next time …

Summer lovin’

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I’ve been far too busy enjoying our Kiwi Summer! I had 3 weeks off work over Christmas/New Year (Rob and I both went back to work on January 11th) and that time has been filled to the brim with summertime fun. Just the way I like it.:-)

As I’m sure you all know by now, we live right by the beach. We love the beach and go there whenever we can. If we ever get sick of ‘our local’, we have more than a dozen¬†other beaches in very close proximity to choose from. If it’s windy on one side of the peninsula, we can just go to a beach on the other side. For somebody who LOVES summer (that would be yours truly), we¬†live in the perfect place. Beaches everywhere. People from other places come to our area FOR THEIR HOLIDAYS. It’s that nice. And before you ask, YES,¬†I’m completely aware of how blessed we are to live in a place like this, and I am grateful for it every single day.

So. It kind of goes without saying that we will have a swim (or two) at ‘our local’¬†beach most days. It’s a short,¬†gentle, flat stroll to the end of our¬†road, or through the park, then across the road to the beach. It’s easy, and we love it. But we also like to get out and about, exploring and visiting our favourite places. We do that as much as we can all through summer. Now that we’re back at work, we are¬†making the most of our afternoons/evenings and weekends. We’re not home often!ūüėČ

We’ve been strawberry picking as a family. This is one of our post-Christmas traditions. We always go to the same orchard (Sweet Red), and we always get an ice cream made from fresh strawberries after we’ve picked a couple of kilos of fruit to take home.

Blair Family (2)1 (1600x1600)

Rob and the boys love jumping off stuff into water. Our ‘other local’ beach (i.e. the next closest beach to ours, on the other side of our very skinny peninsula) has a big cliff and an awesome big tree with rope swings and a trapeze. The water there is gorgeous. I always feel like I’m swimming in fresh water, it’s so clear. We’ve visited this spot several times so the boys could jump!

Blair Family (3)1 (1600x1131)

Blair Family (2)2 (1600x1131)

Friends of ours have a 3-person jetski and we’ve had a great time hooning around on the water with them. The boys loved being towed behind the jetski on the sea biscuit. There were some beautiful days just after Christmas where there was no wind and the water was dead calm and flat. Perfect for skiing!

Blair Family (2)1 (1600x1000)

Shakespear Regional Park is another favourite place of ours. It’s right out the end of the peninsula and offers a bit of everything, really.¬†Beaches, bush, farmland, waterfalls, mountain bike tracks, beautiful park-like grounds … it’s just stunning. We had a swim here one evening and also came for a church picnic a week or so later. Love this place.

Blair Family (2)3 (1600x1131)

Up in Warkworth, about 45 min drive North from our house, there’s an awesome swimming hole (used to be a quarry) that we love going to. It’s nice to swim in fresh water for a change, and it’s so deep. The quarry was¬†part of the old cement works. Some is free to explore, and the other more dangerous/unstable parts are fenced off. However, you can still get a really good view of it all in its rundown,¬†ruinous state. I went for a walk and took lots of photos.

Blair Family (2)4 (1600x1000)

Blair Family (2)5 (1600x1000)

Right behind our house is a huge grassy park with the best trees (I know. We are so lucky). On Saturday our city council hosted one of their ‘Music in the Park’ events at ‘our’ park! It was fantastic. Heaps of locals turned out with their gazebos, picnic rugs, chairs, sun umbrellas and food/drink, to enjoy an afternoon of awesome soul/funk music. There were 3 different bands over 3 hours. Such fun!

Blair Family (2)1 (1600x1131)

We often go to the thermal pools at Parakai, also about 45 min drive (West) from our house. We headed there yesterday afternoon¬†with some friends of ours and my sister. The pools aren’t really that hot in summer, so it’s still really nice and refreshing to swim there¬†on a hot day. The slides are a big attraction for the boys, of course. Rob took heaps of cool videos on his GoPro and they were really fun to watch afterwards! Unfortunately they’re a bit big to upload here, but I’ve put one on my Facebook page.

Seriously. Who needs to go away on holiday when you live in a place with all of that (and more) to offer? A ‘staycation’ was all we needed.

Having said that, Rob DID take¬†the boys away, but just for a couple of days. It was their 6th annual ‘Man vs Wild’ trip, something they look forward to doing every January. This year they spent 2 days hiking, adventuring, exploring and bonding in the wilderness around the Kauraeranga Valley near Thames. No cell phone coverage (so no way I could know where they *actually* were!), no campsite, no tents, no mattresses, no toilets or running water. They slept in hammocks in the trees in the forest, peed in the bush, boiled water from the stream and wrote a song that they sang together often called ‘Breaking the Law with Dad’ (don’t ask … I don’t know anymore than that and I don’t want to!). Needless to say, it was a very successful and enjoyable trip for the 3 of them. I’m so glad that Rob loves doing this with¬†the boys, and that the boys¬†love it so much¬†(especially Tyler, who is very into his survival/wilderness stuff). They are making awesome memories every year.

Rob's camera1 (1600x1131)

Rob's camera1

Amid all of the activity above, Rob and I both managed to find time to write a sermon each. We both preached on the same day, on a ‘Foundational Verse’. Mine was Romans 12:12 (“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”) and Rob’s was from Luke, about building on a firm foundation. If you want to listen to the podcasts, you can find them here.

Until next time — I’ll be off ‘Summering’ for a few more weeks at least — see ya!

New.

So. It’s 2016. A new year, brimming with new possibilities, challenges and opportunities. I led worship at church this morning and shared this devotional based on one I read during the week. I thought it was the perfect way to look at the new year. Hopefully it encourages others too!

‚ÄėA Year of New Things‚Äô
Thanks to Christmas, we all end the year with new things‚ÄĒnew toys for the kids, new clothes, new kilograms on our bodies. We start the year off with new things, too‚ÄĒa new calendar on the wall, new bills to pay, and new resolutions for the days ahead.
Everybody likes new things, including God. He‚Äôs called the Ancient of Days, but He says, ‚ÄúDo not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already ‚Äď you can see it now!‚ÄĚ God begins His book with the story of His creating a new world; He ends it with His plans to make a new heaven and new earth.
Our heavenly Father wants to do new things in the lives of His children. He desires to teach us new truths about Himself, provide new opportunities for ministering to others, take us to higher levels of worship and deeper levels of trust. But too often we’re like the Israelites when they were travelling in the wilderness. God promised to provide for them by raining down bread from heaven six days a week. He instructed them to gather only enough manna for each day, except for the day before the Sabbath when they were allowed to store up two days’ worth. When some of the people disobeyed and tried to hoard extra manna, it became rotten and full of worms by the next morning.
I‚Äôm like that sometimes. God wants to do new, fresh things in my life and in my ministry for Him. But often I try to hold on to yesterday‚Äôs stale manna. I don‚Äôt want to let go of what is comfortable and familiar‚ÄĒsome old way of thinking, a certain way of doing things, my usual area of service to Him. I may miss new and exciting things God has planned for me if I don‚Äôt fully trust His guidance, even when He seems to be leading me down unfamiliar paths.
A good way for a child of God to celebrate the New Year is to let go of anything that has gone stale or rotten. Then we‚Äôll be free to live each day expecting new, fresh things from the One who promises, ‚ÄúI am making everything new!‚ÄĚ

Then I prayed something along these lines …

Lord, whether we’re leaving behind a year of joy and blessing or trials and difficulties, we pause to give thanks. We thank you that you are always with us every single day of every single year. Please remind us of your presence in the year ahead, even when life is busy. We are so thankful that we serve a God who makes things new and gives us the grace of fresh starts and new beginnings. Be glorified in our lives this year. Amen.

AMEN!

Christmas 2015

Finally getting around to posting about our Christmas Day celebrations with family.

Things were a bit different this year. We had breakfast with my family and then lunch with Rob’s family. Normally we can’t do both families on the same day, but Rob’s older brother and his family hosted ALL the Whangarei tribe at their house. There are 23 of us now!

The day started with reading the Christmas story from Luke as a family, then opening presents from each other at home.

Christmas 2015 (1600x1000)

Christmas 20155 (1600x1600)

Christmas 20152 (1600x1600)

When your brother gives you a new Xbox game but puts it inside a Weetbix box so you don’t suspect a thing …

Christmas 20151 (1600x1000)

When you get your dog a Christmas present and he’s like, “WHAT the heck is THAT?” …

Christmas 20154 (1600x1600)

When your parents get you your first cell phone (and it happens to be a smart phone) …

Christmas 20153 (1600x1600)

At my parents house, we had a yummy champagne breakfast with bubbles, OJ, French toast, bacon, bananas, maple syrup, strawberries and cherries. Oh, and scorched almonds. Because scorched almonds!
We opened presents with my family, and decided to take some long overdue family photos. Including one with the timer, which proved rather difficult! You might be able to tell from the practice shots I took while trying to line it up properly!

Christmas 20156 (1600x1600)

Christmas 20157 (1600x1600)

Christmas 2015 (1600x1600) (1600x1600)

Lunch at Greg & Sarah’s was awesome. The whole family together in one place, all the cousins running around and having fun. The food was delicious and the company was fabulous.

Christmas 20158 (1600x1000)

Christmas 20159 (1600x1000)

Christmas 201510 (1600x1000)

Christmas 201511 (1600x1000)

Christmas 201512 (1600x1600)

We ended the afternoon with a walk down to the beach, and most of the kids decided to go for a swim (many of them in their underwear or clothes, since we hadn’t planned for a swim). It was beautiful down there and lots of other people had the same idea!

Christmas 201513 (1600x960)

I got my annual “cousin” photo … aren’t they gorgeous?

Christmas 201514 (1600x1600)

Rob’s younger brother and his family stayed Christmas night at our place, and we spent most of Boxing Day at our local beach with them. Swimming to the pontoon, paddling in Rob’s new wooden canoe, playing beach soccer with the cousins and making sandcastles. We had a long, leisurely lunch of leftovers on our deck in the sunshine, and they finally headed back home to Whangarei about 3pm. After they left we met up with friends down at the beach for a relaxed fish & chip dinner … just lovely.

I hope all my lovely blog readers had a wonderful Christmas! I know I don’t post much but I trust there are still some of you other there. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

IMG_5399 (1600x1067)