Pray first, pray more

Life has it’s ups and downs, doesn’t it? One moment you’re driving along in the sunshine, windows down, great music playing on the stereo. You’re singing along, looking forward to something-in-particular and feeling grateful to be alive. Nek minit, you’re dealing with a crappy situation, wondering how things changed so fast!

Many times the ‘crappy situation’ is not actually that bad, in the big scheme of things. Often it’s a minor but annoying thing. One of your cars needs repairs (again). You feel totally unappreciated by someone. Your computer packs in the day before somebody needs to print out an assignment. You have a really horrible day at work.

Lately I’ve had so many moments like that. We’ve had so many car troubles this year. Other things have gone wrong. Each incident on its own is not so awful, but when they all pile up it can feel quite overwhelming and frustrating. Last week, as I experienced situation after situation, I found myself sitting in my car waiting for Ethan to finish soccer training. I spent some time in prayer, thanking God. You see, in the middle of all of these annoying situations, I had been experiencing some very awesome answers to prayer. I had prayed about everything, from cars to computers to toilets, and most of my prayers had been answered immediately. I was grateful for those answers to prayer, and I had been thanking God for each one. But there was a bigger message that I hadn’t yet noticed.

As I sat in my car, that bigger message hit me. These things were opportunities to test my faith. Yes, I had prayed about each situation, but God showed me that it had taken me a decent amount of time to actually turn to prayer. I couldn’t help trying to solve the problem by myself first, finally turning to God in exhaustion, pleading with him to ‘fix things’. Which he did. At first, I was a little discouraged. But as I continued to pray, God showed me that I was making progress. With each frustrating situation, I was taking LESS time to bring my problems to Him. There was a really obvious pattern that became so clear to me. It was a real revelation.

Little did I know that I would soon be receiving an even bigger opportunity to test my faith. An even bigger, crappier, overwhelming situation. I reckon God was revealing a very important truth to me in that moment, sitting in my car. Would I come to him in prayer immediately next time? Would I simply hand the situation over to him without attempting to fix it myself? Even just for a second? Right then, right there, I felt confident that I would be able to do that. My faith was getting stronger. I could totally do that. But if I had known what the next situation was going to be, would I have felt so sure?

The next situation was a pretty big one, and it happened the very next day. I finished work at 5:30pm, and instead of going straight home, I went to the soccer field where Tyler was training. He was due to finish at 6:30pm, and I arrived 5 minutes early. My phone had rung a couple of times while I was driving, and I hadn’t been able to answer it. I checked it, and found several missed calls from Tyler’s coach and Rob. A text message said “How far away are you? Tyler’s hurt his shoulder.” I didn’t think much of it, but got out of the car and walked over to the pitch. There I saw my boy lying on the ground, covered with jackets and blankets, surrounded by his teammates, other parents and the coach. Tyler had fallen hard on his neck and shoulder, and couldn’t move. He was in horrendous pain. The other boys had heard a ‘pop’. The coach called an ambulance, which took an hour to arrive. As we waited, I comforted my boy and whispered prayers over him constantly. None of the kids or their parents wanted to leave, and we both felt so loved and supported. The ambulance finally arrived at 7:30pm and the paramedics put a cervical collar on Tyler. I went with him to hospital, and we spent the next 7 hours in the paediatric ED. The doctors suspected a broken collarbone and a possible neck fracture. He was in severe pain, and was given a massive cocktail of painkillers: Entonox, paracetamol, morphine, codeine, ibuprofen. We had to do a LOT of waiting. He had 8 x-rays taken of his neck and collarbone. When the results finally came back, we were told that his collarbone was broken, and the images of his neck showed an abnormality. He had to go back for a CT scan to rule out a broken neck. The situation, on paper, was quite scary. But throughout the whole thing, I felt God’s peace. I had to be strong for Tyler, who was also incredibly brave! We both prayed, over and over, pouring our hearts out to God as we asked for his healing and comfort. I have never felt closer to Tyler, it was very special. Our prayers were answered at 1:30am when the doctors came and told us there were no fractures, and the collar could finally come off. His neck is sprained and his collarbone is badly bruised, so he will need to wear a sling for a week or so. My wonderful Mum drove into the hospital to pick us up, since Rob would have had to wake Ethan up to come and get us. When I finally crawled into bed at 3am, tired and hungry, my heart was overflowing with gratitude to God for his presence and protection. It could have ended so very differently.

I never expected that a situation like that would come my way so soon, but in retrospect, it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth was. To walk the talk. Not once did I even try to deal with things in my own strength, because I knew I had none. I was weak, fragile, vulnerable, helpless. I needed God. I couldn’t do it alone. Handing the entire situation over to him from the very beginning gave me immense freedom and a huge amount of comfort. Yes, I was still scared. But I was not alone.

Rick Warren says, “Too often we see prayer as a last resort rather than as our first thought. Prayer is usually something you do way down the line after you’ve tried everything else. People will say, “I guess all we can do now is pray!” like it’s their last option. Prayer should be your first choice, not your last resort. If you want God to help you overcome the odds in any area of your life, you have to turn to him first.”

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Pumpkin Lasagne

Time for a recipe share! We had friends over for dinner at the weekend. Two of them are vegetarian, so I made my very first vegetarian lasagne … it was a big hit, even with the meat-eaters! Even my oldest, who doesn’t really like pumpkin, really enjoyed it. I’ll be making this again for us!

Pumpkin Lasagne

1 small pumpkin (I used a butternut squash)
2 x 250g tubs ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cooked spinach (8 oz uncooked)
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
black pepper
3 x fresh egg lasagne sheets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Drizzle pumpkin with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Place the halves cut side down on a baking tray lined with foil. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes, then allow to cool. The skin will come off easily. Mash (or puree if you want a smoother consistency).
Mix pumpkin with the first tub of ricotta cheese, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg until well combined.
Mix together spinach, second tub of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1/3 of pumpkin filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with lasagne sheets (cut these to size, but do not overlap them). Spread half of the spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with lasagne sheets. Spread another layer (1/3) of pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with lasagne sheets. Spread the remaining half of the spinach filling over the lasagne sheets. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of lasagne sheets. Spread the rest of the pumpkin filling over the top, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, herbs and paprika.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 180C for 30 min. Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

The Parent Map

I recently read the May issue of “NEXT” magazine, which was a special “Motherhood” issue for Mother’s Day. There was a fabulous article in there called “The Parent Map”, where five experts shared their top parenting tips. Some of the advice was so great, I found myself nodding and hm-hming as I read. I even grabbed a highlighter and got stuck in … and then I decided I would post my favourite tips here, for future reference (there’s no way I’d find the article if I ripped it out and kept it somewhere *safe*).

Jeremy Todd
– Manage your teen’s transition from child to adult. When children are young, we instil boundaries to protect them. As they become teens, too many boundaries can cause resentment, but it’s still important for your teen to know what behaviour is acceptable. Talk to them about what’s key to you and listen to their responses before deciding which issues are non-negotiable and what you can let go. Let them gradually take on more decision-making and control as they prove they can handle it.
– Reinstate the family meal. Teens value family time, and eating together is the ideal way to achieve this. Avoid bringing up issues that might cause conflict, and model the behaviour you want to see in your teen by putting your phone away. A family meal should make everyone at the table feel valued – a core need for teens – so ask about important things they have going on. [I LOVE this one. We always eat dinner together as a family, and we have never, ever allowed phones or devices at the table.]
– Support your teen. They need activity, stimulation, rest and relaxation in equal measure. Many come home late from school, watch TV with one eye, text with the other, eat, then dash out to see friends. Help them get the rest they need by letting them sleep in (within reason) at the weekend. They also need to burn off excess energy, so make exercise something you do as a family.

Lenore Skenazy
– Remember a childhood moment when you felt on top of the world. These don’t tend to involve parents: riding our bikes all day, or running an errand alone. These are memories we relish, and yet fear keeps us from giving these same memories to our kids. Whenever worry is about to stop you from letting your child do something alone, remember the joy and confidence you felt during your favourite childhood moment.

Jessica Chivers
– Adopt a ‘good enough’ mindset. Few of us have time to do everything perfectly. Equally, doing everything to a standard you’re not happy with is unfulfilling. Choose one or two things you want to do to the best of your ability and agree to do everything else to a ‘good enough’ standard – perhaps making three home-cooked meals a week instead of seven, or giving some presentations that aren’t perfect. If you find this idea difficult, imagine the knock-on effects of doing everything to 100%. Is that sustainable?
– Think ‘firm, fair and fun’. This is a good checklist to ensure you and your partner’s parenting is aligned or to stop you ruminating over decisions you’ve made. Firmness is about giving kids boundaries; fairness is about consistency, particularly in how you treat siblings; fun is about ensuring there is enough joy in the house, which could mean dancing with pants on your head or just having a lightness of tone. If you regularly strike this balance, you’ll be doing a good job.
– Be prepared to be persuaded by your child. This isn’t about giving in to nagging, but if your child can give a reasoned argument about why something should be done, like a bedtime changing, give it a go, at least for a trial period. This shows your child you’re a reasonable human being, teaches them negotiation and pitching skills, and demonstrates that rational argument is more likely to get them what they want than screaming and shouting.

Sue Gerhardt
– Don’t take things personally. When your child says or does something that upsets you, ask yourself: what’s really going on? They need you to keep believing in them, and in your mutual affection. As the parent, it’s your job to keep hold of the bigger picture and repair misunderstandings.

Laura Markham
– Accept emotions, limit behaviour. Children who know their feelings are ‘allowed’ are better at managing them. Feelings that are repressed tend to pop out uncontrolled. Once children can manage emotions, they can manage their behaviour. Making it safe for them to express emotions in a civil way teaches assertiveness and shows them that, while they can’t always get what they want, they have something better: a parent who loves them as they are.

We have a teenager in the house!

That’s right, my BABY is now thirteen. THIRTEEN! A teenager. I can’t even …

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Ethan’s birthday was over 2 weeks ago, and I’m only just getting around to downloading photos from my camera onto my computer. So we have had a teenager in our house for a couple of weeks now, and guess what? It’s been great! ;-)

While I wanted to have a huge celebration for his 13th birthday, Ethan wanted to keep things very low key. No party. He compromised a little by going to Jump! with his two best mates (but no cake, no singing). We celebrated a bit more on his actual birthday with our usual family dinner with my parents and sister. My sister’s birthday is the day before Ethan’s, so we often have a joint birthday dinner for her and Ethan. The birthday boy/girl gets to choose what’s for dinner. Leah let Ethan choose the menu, and he picked pork stir fry. Cake was also allowed (phew).

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This nonchalant attitude is pretty typical of Ethan. He’s a no fuss, no frills, low key kinda guy who is a little bit shy and doesn’t really like to be the centre of attention. He’s always had a party of some description for his birthday, but this year he really wanted to fly under the radar. This is despite having about a dozen or more really good mates that he could have invited over for movies! and pizza! and cake! At first I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t want to do much, but then I realised that it doesn’t really matter AS LONG AS HE IS HAPPY. And he was. So I was too. :-)

So, how does it feel to be the mother of a teenager? Pretty surreal, actually. But Ethan is an amazing kid, a real delight. Besides, 13 is just another number that happens to be higher than 12 and lower than 14. Right? I wrote a pretty lengthy message in Ethan’s card, so rather than writing something new for this blog post, I’ll just copy it here:

Ethan,
Sorry – I’m going to write an essay!
Today you are 13 – a teenager – wow! It feels like yesterday that Dad and I were driving you home from the hospital. We had NO IDEA what we were doing! But you were a great baby and a wonderful toddler and a truly delightful child – see the trend here? We need to be able to add “awesome teenager” to that list! :-)
I know there will be a lot of changes over the next few years, especially the big one – me becoming the shortest member of our family! No matter what the teenage years hold, I know that it will be amazing to watch you grow into a young man. I’m so very proud of the person you are, the way you love unconditionally, put family and God first, do your best in everything you do (school, music, sport), make us smile and laugh. I thank God for giving us such an incredible son. I love you much more than you will ever know, and I am proud to be your Mum. Have an amazing birthday, my “Little Guy” (can’t really call you that anymore). You’re so special to me – I love you. Mum xox
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

It wouldn’t really be a birthday post without some old photos, would it? So here’s a little timeline of Ethan on all his birthdays so far! :-) (You can tell we bought our first digital camera after Ethan turned 2).

ONE
One Year Old

TWO
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THREE
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FOUR
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FIVE
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SIX
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SEVEN
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EIGHT
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NINE
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TEN
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ELEVEN
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TWELVE
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THIRTEEN
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By Tyler …

“Ouch!” I muttered, as I carefully put my feet on the sharp rocks.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the sun was lasering down on me and my family. We strolled towards the quiet lake; we went through the luscious, green grass fields, over gates, across bridges, under trees that skyed above us.
Finally we could hear the lake. We dashed towards the sound of the ripples rippling. The sight of the lake came closer but was hidden by a pile of rocks. Slowly, we climbed up the rocks, and when we got to the top, we all looked out at what could have come out of a holiday brochure.
The sight of glistening diamonds on the water’s edge, it was like a humungous spread of blue butter. I broke into a sprint towards the calm water. It looked like the sun had sprinkled the water with stars. The water beckoned me to splash in its warm embrace. One lonely dinghy floated on the sky blue water.
I dived in, it felt like an elephant spraying me as my body sunk into the water. The sea weed pulled me down to sway with his friends.
After a long day of swimming and laughing the sunset started to shimmer on the water and it was time to go. I sadly got out of the water; now it was just the big walk home. As I walked the trees sadly waved goodbye and the grass tickled my toes, but I knew that we would come back one day!

Musings

A fair bit on my mind today … sharing a few of those thoughts …

  • Tyler is off school because he is sick, so I stayed home with him. I wanted to work from home, because he has (as I suspected he would) been sleeping and watching TV all day. But my company has a policy that no longer allows anyone to work from home while they are looking after children. Hence, I had an enforced “day off” work today. While it is a bummer to have to use up a day of sick leave, I have enjoyed having a day to relax! I had planned to read my book, but I haven’t read a single page yet! Glad I got a blog post written.
  • I’ve been experiencing severe pain in my left shoulder for almost 4 months. Rotator cuff tendinitis. For the first 3 months, I tried to rest it and survived (just) on a cocktail of analgesics and anti-inflammatories. No improvement. Two weeks ago, I finally got a proper diagnosis: calcific supraspinatus tendinopathy, low grade partial tears of the suptraspinatus, subscapularis and infraspinatus tendons, and subacromial/subdeltoid bursitis with findings of impingement. Last week, I had ultrasound-guided barbotage and a cortisone injection. Today I hung out 3 loads of washing – the first washing I have hung out since February. I can lift my arm above my head. Showering and washing my hair and dressing are no longer painful. Yay! I love cortisone.
  • I read an article today about nomophobia. Apparently this is a real thing. Nomo stands for ‘no mobile’ and nomophobia is — you guessed it — a fear of not having a mobile at all times (i.e. fear of being out of contact). We live in a pretty sad society when nomophobia a) becomes an actual THING and b) gets given an actual name. Yikes. Put your phones away, people. I’ve never had a smartphone and I don’t want one.
  • Looking back over previous blog posts, I re-read the one about our busy weekly schedule. I was thinking about that this morning as I was tidying up the dining room table and shaking toast crumbs off the placemats into the kitchen sink. I realised that despite our busyness, we still manage to eat dinner together as a family every night. Even with soccer training and pamphlet runs and water polo games and me getting home at 6:30pm on T/W/T nights, we always eat at the table as a family. I reckon that’s pretty cool. Especially since the boys’ activities are now evening ones, starting anywhere from 5-8:30pm. Eating dinner as a family and talking about our days is one of my favourite things to do each evening.
  • I love having things to look forward to. Date nights, dinners with friends, movies, concerts, trips, etc. On Sunday I’m going to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my sister (a fundraiser for a friend’s barbershop quartet). Next Saturday we’re celebrating Ethan’s 13th birthday with a trip to JUMP! with his two best mates. Queen’s Birthday weekend we are heading up to Whangarei to stay with Rob’s family. On 20 June we’re going to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Final with my parents and sister to celebrate my Mum’s birthday (she is a huge football fan). Rob & I are thinking of taking a winter road trip/holiday with the kids, maybe in the July school holidays. My sister and I are planning a special 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our parents in August. In December, Rob and I are taking the boys to an Ed Sheeran concert. Lots of cool things to look forward to (and many more yet to be added to the calendar).
  • Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mother. About how often I put the “Mum” hat on each day. I don’t think I ever take that hat off, really. I just put other ones on top of it. At home, there are physical reminders of motherhood all around me, even when the kids are not here. Soccer balls and dirty boots by the front door, homework books on the coffee table, lunch boxes on the kitchen bench, school notices on the hall table, the sound of laughter in the living room every evening during “The Crowd Goes Wild” (with plenty of ‘roughening up’ in the ad breaks). But there are the emotional reminders, too. I think about my boys so often during the day, when I’m not with them. I wonder what subject they are sitting in right now. Did they remember to take that permission form/money/book/note? Will they have time to get their homework done before sports practice? I wonder if they are feeling okay. I wonder if they are happy, or sad, or angry, or excited, or frustrated at this particular moment. Do they need anything? Will the traffic be extra heavy tonight, or will I get home a few minutes earlier than usual so I can spend more time with them? Always on my mind …
  • Autumn is well and truly here, and I must remember to take the family for a walk just around the block to a little park with the most gorgeous piles of red and orange leaves. It’s been ages since we took photos in the leaves! In fact, it was before we had kids! Definitely going to be on my ‘TO DO’ list. Playing in autumn leaves is ‘such fun’ (ala Miranda).
  • One can’t help but feel sad about things happening around the world. Devastating earthquakes in Nepal, volcano eruptions, other natural disasters, ongoing wars and sieges, homeless refugees, plane/train crashes, etc. Even in our own little country, we lost 10 people on the roads last weekend. So sad. Some days I can’t even read the paper. Hugging my own family a little tighter right now.

Sweet Sixteen

So, my lovely man and I have been married for 16 (SIXTEEN!) years.

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We celebrated our anniversary (on 1 May) by exchanging traditional gifts, as we always do. The traditional gift for 16 years is wax. I bought him hair wax, car wax and a funky candle. He bought me a scented candle, and he MADE ME THIS:

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How freakin’ awesome is that?! Straight off a Pinterest board, baby! I was floored, and so touched. I love it so so much. It has pride of place on my piano, next to my white ceramic owl, letter “B” and red vase. It made my little arrangement P E R F E C T.

We had a lovely dinner on the evening of our anniversary, at Plume Restaurant in Matakana. It’s a vineyard, but unfortunately it was too dark outside for us to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Next time. The food was amazing, and the service was outstanding. All the little ‘extras’ that only a fancy restaurant offers. Waiters who pull your chair out and place your cloth napkin in your lap. Free bread rolls before the entree. Complimentary amuse bouches.

He had:
CORN & CORRIANDER FRITTERS, chilli jam (spicy), lettuce cups, mint, coriander
CRISPY DUCK LEG, mandarin pancakes, spring onion and cucumber, hoisin plum sauce, Asian slaw

I had:
CHICKEN BREAST ROULADE, free range, ricotta and parmesan, wrapped in pancetta, caponata, red quinoa
STEAMED PUDDING, white chocolate, raspberry, salted caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
and a few glasses of Runner Duck Chardonnay …

In some ways I can’t believe we’ve been married for 16 years. It seems like such a long time. But in other ways those years have gone by so quickly. Every single one of those years has been wonderful, and it’s only getting better. What will the next 16 years bring? I can’t wait to find out!

We will remember them

As a nation, NZ has just commemorated 100 years since the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli in 1915, during WWI. Because it was the centenary commemoration, this year was pretty special.

I blogged a few weeks ago about how much Tyler had been learning about ANZAC Day, and how passionate and enthusiastic he was about it. He is very proud to have had two great-grandfathers serve in WWI (my Grandpa and Grandad) and one great-grandfather serve in WWII (Rob’s Grandad). While most other kids are busy posting selfies and photos of their pets/food/favourite sports players on Instagram, here’s what Tyler posted the other day:

Anzac

He also wrote the following poem a couple of weeks ago. Not for a school assignment or anything, just ‘because':

Poppies, blood red;
As they marched to their death.
The first gun left the first soldier dying:
and so did the rest.
White crosses stand,
in a field of failing hands,
We leave them lying in poppies,
We leave them lying in lands,
Because poppies represent something:
The Sacrifice.

My parents have a lot of precious war memorabilia that belonged to their Dads, including prayer books, diaries, medals, photos, passports and discharge papers. It has been fascinating for Tyler to see all of these items, and to know they are 100 years old! My Dad is currently in the process of typing up all of my Grandad’s war diaries, so he can send them to the extended family. I’ve already read most of them, and have written several blog posts about them. Still, I am looking forward to having a copy of them all, and sharing all the entries with my boys.

War

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During the past week leading up to ANZAC Day, Tyler’s school has been remembering in a number of very unique ways. Like many other schools, they set up a “Lawn of Remembrance” on the field, with white crosses bearing the names of NZ soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. The children made poppies which were attached to the fence, and it looked beautiful:

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The school also had a special day with the theme of ‘100 Years Ago’, where all students and teachers dressed up in outfits from 100 years ago, and bought school lunches wrapped in cloth – no packaged foods! They played old-fashioned games at morning tea and lunchtime, like hopscotch, skipping, hoop bowls, marbles, knucklebones and elastics. The teachers were suitably strict, with long rulers that were rapped sharply on the desk of any child who wasn’t paying attention. The children had to chant times tables, copy the alphabet in cursive handwriting, march to/from class in formation, and even wear a ‘dunce cap’ if they did something wrong. They loved it!

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On Friday, the whole school held a special ‘Celebration of Peace’ assembly on the school field. The teachers did a 21-gun salute using giant biodegradable party poppers, and the children released beautiful biodegradable helium doves into the sky. So lovely.

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On ANZAC Day, we went to the dawn parade at our local RSA with my parents and sister. It was a very moving service, with a capacity crowd. Tyler proudly wore my Grandad’s WWI medal, which was a huge honour for him.

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We also had a very special ANZAC-themed service at church on Sunday, which was so meaningful and thought-provoking. Tyler was asked to recite “Flanders Fields”, the famous poem by Lt. John McCrae. He had learned it by heart for school, and did a wonderful job of reciting it in front of a big crowd of people! I was very proud of him.

I’m really proud of my family history and the legacy I and my children have because of it. My grandfathers were both brave men, who left behind their fiancées to go to war. One to fight, and the other to patch up the wounds. I’m eternally grateful to them and to all the other brave soldiers who left our peaceful land to fight a battle on the other side of the world, having no idea what they were getting themselves into. So many did not return, making the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.

Crazy busy.

It’s the start of another school term, and this one is BUSY. Mostly as a result of all the sport my boys play. Term 1 was busy too, but with their summer sports (summer soccer, tag rugby and athletics) slowing winding down, there were a few weeks near the end where our schedules were pretty light. Now winter sports (soccer) are starting up, and year-round sports (water polo) are ramping up. With Ethan in Year 9 this year, the time required for his chosen sports has escalated. Water polo 5 times a week, baby! It’s getting to the point where he may not be able to do any summer sport because we will be DEAD by the time they kick off in Term 4.

Yep. This term is going to be a crazy ride, people. Just to give you a taste of what we’re in for, here’s a look at a typical week for our boys:

Monday
Ethan – swim fitness training from 7:30-8:30pm — this is optional, but he likes to go if he can

Tuesday
Ethan – water polo training in Albany (30 min drive) from 8:30-9:15pm — this means he gets home just before 10pm, which is pretty late for a school night!

Wednesday
Ethan – drum lessons from 4-4:30pm
Ethan – soccer training from 6-7pm
Ethan – water polo training from 8-9pm — this is also optional, and considering how busy his Wednesdays are, it doesn’t happen that often!

Thursday
Tyler – soccer training from 4:30-6:30pm
Ethan – water polo games in Albany (30 min drive), anytime between 6:15pm to 8:45pm

Friday
NOTHING! Well, Ethan has youth group every fortnight, which Rob runs.

Saturday
Tyler & Ethan – soccer games, usually at home one week and away (30-60 min drive) the next — their games are often at the same time, so Rob and I take one each week to different fields

Sunday
Ethan – water polo games at the local pool, anytime between 4:30 to 8:30pm

On top of all that, the boys have homework and Ethan also has a part-time job delivering pamphlets twice a week. They need to be collated and folded (usually one whole evening) and then delivered the following day (usually 1-2 hours).

On top of all THAT, Rob and I actually have lives, and stuff. Haha. We both have full-time jobs and I don’t get home from work until 6:15pm on Tue/Wed/Thu nights, which makes some of the juggling pretty hard. We seem to manage, somehow. Each of us have evening meetings every so often, which have to be slotted in. Thank goodness we don’t have as many meetings/rehearsals as we used to a couple of years ago, as there’s no way we could do it! One thing is for sure: when kids get older, their after school activities become evening activities, and it would be impossible for us to make it work.

I know some people probably think my kids are doing too much, but they WANT to do it. They love it! They both eat, sleep and breathe sport. If they weren’t doing it, they would be grumpy, listless, annoying, unhealthy and unhappy. I don’t want that. I want them to be enthusiastic, motivated, committed, healthy and happy. And they are. Ethan, having a much heavier schedule than Tyler, plus more homework, sometimes feels a bit stressed or overwhelmed about how much he has to do. Usually when a particular teacher gives him a ton of homework due the next day. But it wouldn’t be the sport that would get the flick, as that’s enjoyable/therapeutic for him.

Sure, it takes a lot of effort on their part and a bit of sacrifice on ours, but it’s absolutely worth it. Bring it on, I say! (whilst rocking backwards and forwards in the corner (just kidding)).

Lately …

Lots has been happening lately, so here’s a bit of an update!

Tyler competed in the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon again (see my previous post). It was a scorching hot day with sunshine and blue skies. Rob, Ethan and I all enjoyed watching him (and running to keep up with him around the course!) … a fabulous way to spend a Sunday.

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I turned 37 at the end of March. Although I had to work on my birthday, I was able to work from home which meant I could spend lots of time with my boys. I was also able to go out for lunch with my lovely Mum. That evening, Rob cooked a birthday dinner and my parents and sister joined us. I had a really awesome day! :-)

The boys finished school for the term a couple of days after my birthday, and are still on holiday now. We had a lovely Easter break, spending plenty of time together as a family (including some of our extended family) and of course celebrating the real meaning of Easter with our church family. On Easter Saturday we decided to explore an area our boys had never been to, South Head. I hadn’t been out that way since I was a kid. We went to Shelly Beach, where we walked, took photos, watched the birds and had hot chocolates overlooking the waterfront.

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After that, we headed further up the heads to Lake Otoroa. Neither Rob nor I had been out there before, but we had studied a map and thought it would be worth checking out one of several freshwater dune lakes in the area. It was well worth it! Beautiful scenery, and the water was lovely. We all enjoyed a swim, and there were hardly any other people around. We’ll definitely be going back there next summer! A little secret spot that not many people know about!

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We decided to spend the rest of the day at one of our favourite spots, Parakai Hot Pools. It was a lovely warm day, and the boys had heaps of fun on the slides. It was busy, as we expected it would be, but a great way to spend the afternoon.

Both Rob & I have been able to take some time off over these school holidays, which has been really nice. The boys have been enjoying a mixture of time with us, time with their mates, time with Nana & Grandad, and a holiday programme with their friends (brothers) who live a few doors down from us. It’s been working really well. I feel like I have had a *bit* of a holiday and the boys have enjoyed the variety and the quality time with each of us. Rob has Friday off to spend with they and they are planning an overnighter and canyoning out at Piha. The kind of outdoor/adventure stuff those 3 love doing together!

Until the next update … ;-)