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Showing posts from July, 2008

Clipped Wings

I can't fly.

I'm grounded.

My wings are clipped.

Life is weighing me down.

At times I battle despondency to such a degree that I find it hard to carry on. Apart from my husband, no one knows how deep and ugly the despair becomes. I hide it from my family, my friends, my kids, my church, my colleagues.

It can be triggered by tiredness, by stress, by hormones. Usually it's a combination.

Last night I crawled into bed, tears pouring down my face after an episode of extreme self-loathing and, curled up in bed, I tried praying.

God heard me.

And answered.

Isaiah Forty-three.

Um, that's my blog verse isn't it? The one about eagles' wings?

Isaiah Forty-three.

Yeah, my blog verse. I'm sure it's from there somewhere. Or is it perhaps from Isaiah forty? Does it matter?

Isaiah Forty-three.

Okay, okay.

I reached over the side of the bed and picked up my Bible and turned to Isaiah forty-three.

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee ... and He that formed thee ... Fear not: f…

In The Round

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I heard today that Son#2 finally received his parcel (this post) so now I can post about the jumper I knitted for him in under two weeks (I didn't want to post before he received the parcel because he didn't know about the jumper and I didn't want to spoil the surprise). I've never knitted anything so quickly before but the fact that it was 14ply wool (chunky) certainly had a lot to do with it.

Actually I started knitting the jumper for Son#3 and when I realised how quickly it was coming together I ordered more wool to knit one for Son#2. But when the jumper was finished I got Son#5 to try it on. It fitted fine. Ditto for Son#4 (pictured here). But when DH tried it on he felt it was a snug fit and that the next size up would be a better fit for Son#3.

So I sent the jumper off to Son#2 and when the order of wool finally arrived started knitting for Son#3. I hope there's no hard feelings! I'm just not convinced that I've chosen the best colours to do Son#3'…

Who Will Lead the Children?

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I love my work. I make no apology for that fact. But every day I am aware of a personal/professional tension that I've never resolved and probably will never resolve. I love babies and toddlers. I love working with them. But personally I believe that young children should not be in day care.

As a professional with a diploma and degree behind me, I am no stranger to the overruling childcare philosophy that regulates our services. I’ve read the policies and studied the research. I’m familiar with the government’s strategies to get women away from the home and into the workforce, offering incentives to working mothers and effectively discriminating against those mothers who stay at home but would welcome a break one or two mornings a week to go shopping, play tennis, or pay the bills.

On one hand, I believe quite passionately that children – especially children under two years of age – should be at home with their mothers; on the other hand I work as an early childhood teacher with in…

Serving Others

We were late to church this morning. The Most Adorable Granddaughter in the World had stayed the night because her parents had a work 'do' on but they'd forgotten to leave her car seat so they had to pick her up from our home this morning rather than meeting us at church. They were late which made us late.

Being late we had to choose a pew where we had to slip past several people. We sat down, our knees touching the pew in front, and opened our newsletter. Oh no! DH and I were on morning tea which meant we should have been there early to set up.

When everyone stood for the next song, we again slipped past all the people in our row and went downstairs to set up. If people had failed to realise we were late coming in they couldn't help but notice that we were leaving just as the service was getting started. We felt so conspicuous!

I don't know why it is but I hate being on morning tea. I have a roster but never look at it - probably in denial! It's not that I don…

I Didn't Say It!

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Overheard in our home this past week:

"Where's the canon?"

No, we don't house a canon in our home nor was he talking about a toy canon. What Son#4 was looking for was the music for Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D major that I'd filed away in my music folder (after it had sat on top of the piano for several weeks - perhaps even months).

Son#4 is in his second year of learning piano and was given this piece by Son#2. Neither of them can play it - yet. It's keeping me on my toes as I get back into practice so that I can help them learn it. We could find a simplified version but Son#4 is determined to master this piece and I suspect he just might do it!

His Eyes Are On The Sparrow

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Luke 12:29-31).

Yesterday I went to post a parcel to Son#2. I'd already paid $3.70 for the post bag after deciding not to pay $16.40 for the courier bag which included postage because I reasoned that postage would only be a few dollars.

I was wrong. The postage came to over $12 because of the size of the parcel and because it was going inter-island. How can it be that I sent a box weighing 10kg to Son#2 and it cost me $30 but a parcel weighing one tenth that costs over $12? It doesn't really make sense.

The person who served me must have sensed my dismay because he suggested that we re-shape the parcel to make it smaller. He folded over the top and the sides and secured them with tape. Th…

Just the Right Size

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(Or Introducing the Family Part 6: The Most Adorable Granddaughter in the World! And yes I made this quilt in preparation for her birth.)

Sons#4 and #5 have introduced The Most Adorable Granddaughter in the World to the joys of hockey. But there's a problem: their sticks are as tall as she is. So last weekend DH set to work creating a stick just the right size for The Most Adorable Granddaughter. He shaped and sanded and painted and taped until he had a stick that was almost as cute as The Most Adorable Granddaughter:



It looks very similar to the uncles' sticks but is smaller:



Sadly, the uncles broke the stick before The Most Adorable Granddaughter in the World got to see it. DH has fixed it and now we're eagerly waiting for the reaction of The Most Adorable Granddaughter when she finally gets to see and use it.

Nothing prepares you for grandparent-hood just as nothing really prepares you for parenthood except for hands-on experience. Everyone told us it was different, but we…

Spitting Chips

This appears to be a distinctly Australian expression which basically means "I am so angry that I can't get an articulate word out and can only spit". Apparently it once meant "I'm so thirsty that I can only spit dry" but over the years it has changed and now if anyone were to say they were "spitting chips" you'd know that now would be a good time to make your exit unless you wanted to be on the receiving end of a severe tongue lashing!

Anyway today I'm spitting chips. I'm so angry that I want to cry - but I'm too angry to actually cry. What has brought this on?

Money. Or to be more exact, pay rises. All early childhood teachers have just received a pay rise. Cool - except that my organisation has apparently decided that they no longer need assistant supervisors and so are not going to pay the assistant supervisor rate. Instead, I'll get paid the same rate as teachers. I'm still expected to fulfil the same responsibilities I …

Back To Work We Go

The holidays are over and now it's back to work we go. I've had a lovely break and it's going to be so hard to get back into the swing of work and routines again. I had big plans for these holidays so now it's time to see how I did with that huge 'To-Do' List that I made two weeks ago:

Spend more time in prayer. If I'm honest I would have to say that I spent too much time on the computer and too little time on what was important: relationships with God, family and friends.

Lie-ins in bed with a good book. I didn’t even get to the library but I did get to listen to some of Frank Peretti’s audio books. It only took 2 nights to get through Monster and we're halfway through The Visitation. I never thought I could enjoy listening to someone else read so much! And I did re-read some favourites.

Spend time with the kids. (See first answer). DH went hunting with the boys and to the movies. I made ice-cream with them (from scratch and without an ice-cream maker), l…

Homemade Soup and Pumpkin Scones

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DH made the soup: I made the scones. Scones seem to be a leftover from our British heritage. I don't know how to describe them except that they've been likened to the North American biscuit (which is not the same as our biscuit which is known as a cookie in the US - confusing, eh?).

This is an easy recipe. (For those that read my homemaker post: these did turn out and they did taste good and there's none left now.)

1 pkt Pumpkin soup mix (or Pumpkin and Bacon)
2 cups flour
1-1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese
50g butter
3/4 cup milk

Place dry ingredients in food processor and process until mixed. Add butter and cheese and process until mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs (alternatively, rub butter through the flour with fingers). Add milk in steady stream until the dough forms a ball around the blade.

Knead gently for a minute or two, then pat out until about 3cm thick. Cut into rounds (I use an upturned glass) and place next to each other on an oven tray (ungreased). …

A Real Little Homemaker

DH was reading my blog the other day and said, "People are going to get the impression that you're a real little homemaker."

So what's wrong with that? I am - aren't I?

What??? You want me to be real? To be genuine? To be transparent?

To show the failures as well as the successes? The messy rooms (I do have teenage sons), the doughy bread, the paint-chipped surfaces, the failed cakes, the threadbare carpet, the weed-infested vegetable garden?

I don't think so.

This is my blog and I'll be real if I want to (and right now I don't want to).

Anyway, I am a homemaker. Not a very good one at times, but I am a homemaker. So there!

A Thorn in My Side

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Actually it's in the side of my thumb. And it hurts. A lot. I woke early this morning and all I could feel was my thumb throbbing. Why is it that something like that has the power to cause your whole body to focus in on one teeny tiny spot?

Yesterday I helped DH prune our roses and rosemary and lavender bushes. An awful job. And one that I promised to do. You know how it goes: "You can have XYZ only if you promise to look after it." Well, "you" is usually the kids and "XYZ" is usually an animal, but this time "you" was me and "XYZ" was roses.

You see, DH hates roses. Well to be exact, he hates pruning roses. He readily admits that he doesn't understand their needs and that he doesn't want to be responsible for them.

Enter Jules who loves them and wants a garden filled with them and agrees to care for them. Until the time comes to prune them and she has absolutely no idea what to do. Like the knight in shining armour that he i…

Kiwi Ingenuity

New Zealanders are apparently known for their ingenuity. Before the days of airfreight there must have been times when New Zealand, as a small island out in the Pacific, felt cut off from the rest of the world (I feel it even now especially when trying to source hair toys). Waiting months for goods to arrive from England or America, Kiwis took things into their own hands and fashioned what they needed with what they had.

There's some debate that 'Kiwi Ingenuity' is a myth, an urban legend that has grown up to make Kiwis feel that they're superior (or at least equal) to the rest of the world. Myth or not, 'Kiwi Ingenuity' is definitely alive in my home. Last weekend, unable to buy the correct size of circular knitting needles, DH looked at the bamboo ones in the shop and offered, "If you can find the correct size in straight needles, I can remove the needles off a circular set, cut down the straight ones, and then put them on to the nylon to make a set the r…

I Can Jump Puddles

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Yesterday I had The Most Adorable Granddaughter in the World visit for a few hours. It was a mild day (for winter) and she wanted to spend time outside jumping in puddles. As I watched her for some reason a title of a book that I've heard about but never read came to mind: I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall - the story of how he overcame childhood polio. Why it came to me at that moment I don't know (possibly a link with what my granddaughter was doing), but it made me reflect on the books that I've read over the years firstly as a child, then to my children.

There are a lot of good children's books out there but they can be so hard to find. So I'm going to share some of my favourites. And perhaps if you've never read them, you might like to seek them out.

A few all-time favourites - these are the ones we read again and again: Treasure in an Oatmeal Box by Ken Gire (a story of love and courage and a very special boy); Brown Ears and Brown Ears at Sea by Stephen…

Recycling Part 2

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After years of sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe, I finally undid this jumper (jersey, sweater, knitted pullover, depending on what part of the world you live in) that I'd knitted 25 years ago, washed the wool, and wound it around chairs to dry. After several days of not being able to use our dining chairs (if you know me in real life and you're reading this blog don't laugh and don't give the secret away) it was dry enough for me to wind into balls. Then I went shopping for some more wool to make a jumper. But alas, 12 ply wool (in some places known as 'Aran' although this is open to interpretation) isn't readily available anymore. So I had to do a rethink. I knew I had enough wool for a jumper for a child but not for an adult (even a small adult) so I decided to knit for my granddaughter.

I've started it (the blue and white piece in the photo) but am going to undo it and start again as I'm not happy with the tension. Usually I have to knit on …

The House is So Quiet

Son#3 went back to University yesterday, DH and Son#4 are at work, and it's just Son#5 and me at home. He's working on one of his models and I'm just pottering around doing housework and stuff. It's so quiet! I don't like it. And the scary thing is that in a few years time it's going to be like this most of the time. I'm not ready for that! I'm really not ready!

About Me

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I've introduced several members of the family already, now it's time to write a little more about me. You can skip this part if you like!

You may notice that I prefer to use “mum” rather than “mom” and that some words are spelt differently. This is because I’m Australian and prefer to use the words and spellings common to my part of the world. Hopefully any unfamiliar terms I will be able to explain (such as “fringe” instead of “bangs”).

I was born in the beautiful Hunter Valley (NSW, Australia) forty-something years ago and for 30 years didn’t move very far from the town where I’d been born. Until twelve years ago that is when my husband and I packed up house and kids and moved to New Zealand to be closer to his family (you can read about it here). This was quite a change for me and even after all this time I still haven’t acclimatised to the cold winters!

Not long after we moved we bought a big old house that had been built in 1913 with the aim of doing it up. If I’d known th…

Stick Collection

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My new hair sticks from Fox arrived the other day. She does a terrific job: the sticks are so smooth and are finished beautifully. Most (if not all) of my sticks are by Fox. I especially love bone sticks as they glide in so smoothly, especially in wet hair.

The three black sticks in the centre are my new ones. They're bone and I'm enjoying using them.

I'm getting quite a collection. Hard to believe that just over two years ago I'd never even heard of hair sticks let alone used one or owned one.

Fringe Benefits

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I’ve worn my hair with a fringe (bangs) cut in since I was ever so tiny. I really have no idea what I look like without a fringe although the few times I’ve pulled all my hair back off my forehead I've been totally convinced that I was never meant to wear my hair that way!

I have a love-hate relationship with my fringe. I love that it coves my uneven (and rather unattractive) hairline and emphasises my eyes but hate the way it refuses to sit nicely at times, the way it’s affected by weather, and the fact that I always trim it too short and have to wait ages for it to grow out again.

I must admit that I love the look of long hair without fringe/bangs or with just a thin wispy fringe. I’m considering growing my fringe out and having a thinner fringe but there’s one problem – no two: I can’t stay away from the scissors and I’m impatient!

I usually get so far then cut it all again because it's driving me crazy. And then the cycle starts all over again: trying to love my finge but wi…

Introducing the Family Part 5: Son#5

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After Son#5’s birth I often joked that had he been our firstborn he would have been an only child. A difficult pregnancy and birth and first few early weeks left me exhausted and even afraid of the whole childbearing scenario. It was many years before I could look back on that time without reliving the fear. Perhaps the fact that I had four older children to also care for made those times even more difficult than they should have been (Sons#1 and #3 were not easy pregnancies or deliveries either but they didn’t affect me in the same way). However despite that difficult time, we definitely wouldn't be without him!

Son#5 arrived 28 months after Son#4. For a whole year I had three preschool-aged children. Strangely, when I hear mothers talking about how much work two or three preschoolers are I don’t remember that time as being any busier than any other period when my children were little.

Son#5 became a Christian when he was just 2-1/2 years old. Had the Lord not dealt with my scepti…

First Time

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There's always a first time for everything! Tonight I lit the fire. By myself. And without any kindling. And there's still some paper left in the house! It was either that or freeze.

DH and sons have gone hunting. They're after fallow deer but so far this week haven't had success so I'm not holding my breath. Last night DH asked me if I wanted to go, adding that I could hide my face and cover my ears if they spotted any game.

DH knows that I prefer to buy my meat in little square packets in the supermarket that bear little resemblance to any animal. The more square the package the better. While I don't mind that DH and sons enjoy hunting, I prefer not to be acquainted with the grizzly details. Same when they go out to DIL's parents' farm to butcher lamb.

I asked DH if he really wanted me to go with them or if he was just asking because he was feeling guilty. The grin on his face told me everything.

I opted to stay home and told him that I'd clean the h…

Recycling Part 1

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Remember this rather humiliating post? The vest was the last word on what not to wear. However I hate to waste anything so today I spent around one hour making some minor adjustments and now have myself a knitting bag:


Sons#3 and #5 still are not impressed but are relieved that at least I won't be wearing it down the street!

And A Closed Book

I finished editing my novel today. I thought it would take much longer. Now the scary part: print it out and let DH read it. I hope he's kind.

An Open Book (A Meme)

This was on my friend Amy's blog and I thought it would be fun to do. Perhaps others might want to carry it on too.

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
My mother used to read to me when I was a child. I have a picture in my mind of the two of us in bed - I can't be any more than 2 years old - and mum's reading to me. I don't know if the picture is based on memory or on a photo or slide that I've seen, but it's clear to me. I know from family lore that mum did read to me and that I used to love it so I suspect that is when my love of reading started.

2. What are some books you read as a child?
I had a whole stack of those Little Golden Books as a child. Then I progressed to mystery stories (Nancy Drew, Three Investigators, etc, etc) and series such as Little House on the Prairie. In fact I read just about anything I could get my hands on including the back of cereal boxes. I also spent my holidays writing my own stories and wrote my first novel-…

Hair Recipe

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After discovering that my hair loves hydrolysed soy protein (recent post) I was reminded of a recipe I copied out two years ago. I went searching and found it without too much trouble. Here it is:

1 cup pure water
1 teaspoon each of herbs of choice
1 scoop powdered soy protein

Bring the water to the boil (in a non-aluminium saucepan) and add the herbs. Turn off the stove and allow the herbs to steep for six hours. Strain and discard the herbs. Add the protein powder, stirring until well mixed. Store in a plastic squeeze bottle. To use, apply to wet hair and leave for at least three minutes before rinsing off.

I've not tried this but I'm wondering if an easier way would be to pour boiling water from a jug or kettle over the herbs, cover with plastic wrap and leave for six hours. This is how I make my herbal tea to dilute my shampoo and it works fine.

I have rosemary and lavender growing wild in my garden at the moment (I need a nice sunny day so that I can get out there and do some p…

Thanks But No Thanks

Last week we had staff appraisals at work and I guess it was inevitable, but I was asked about my goals and whether I was interested in becoming a supervisor. Ah thanks, but I’m happy being assistant supervisor and anyway I don’t want to work full-time which is what I would have to do if I took on the supervisor’s role.

The question came up again a few days later and again it was made quite clear that I don’t want to work full-time. Well, what about when all your children have left home in a few years time? No not even then.

I enjoy my job despite the personal-professional tension that I experience on a daily basis (I actually believe that preschoolers and especially those under two years of age ‘do better’ at home with mum but I’ll write more about this later when my readers have forgiven me for my most recent controversial posts). But I also enjoy being at home. For fifteen years I was a full-time-stay-at-home-mum while my children were little and I loved it! They were the best years …

God Created

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The Bible tells us that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). I don't have a problem with this. It says God 'said' and it happened. I believe it. I don't need Gap Theory or Long Ages or anything else to explain what happened. I already know. God said and it was so. By His word the earth was created.

I guess I'm what is known as a young earth creationist. I don't have a problem with this either. I believe the earth is roughly 6000 years old. I believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans to walk this earth. I believe that death entered the world only when Adam and Eve sinned.
That's one of the problems with the Gap Theory: that God used evolution to create the world (as if He didn't have the power to do it unless He enlisted 'help' from evolution; as if He couldn't just speak and it happened; as if our God is not a BIG God). If you believe in the Gap Theory then you have to believe that suffering a…

Hair Cuts and Other Small Matters

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Today I gave Sons#3 and #5 hair cuts. I’ve given up offering to pay for them to have haircuts at the local stylist. The last time I did that was for their brother’s wedding and they came home and asked me to ‘fix’ what the stylist had done. It seems that when it comes to haircuts they have particular needs and want it to be ‘just right’.

I cannot even begin to imagine the number of haircuts I’ve given over the years. Some days I would cut the hair of all five sons in one session. Afterwards on the floor would be blonde and red hair, black and brown hair, straight hair, and curly hair all mixed together. And each head of hair was unique just as each of our sons are unique.

Son#1’s hair has a slight natural curl that hides any imperfections in the haircutting technique. An extremely useful characteristic in a first child when mama is still learning the art!

Son#2’s individual hair strands are quite fine. Cutting his hair is a pleasure – the scissors smoothly cut through each strand withou…

Introducing the Family Part 4: Son#4

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We didn't plan it, but Sons#1, #3 and #5 have similar features that resemble my side of the family, while Sons#2 and #4 are more like DH's side. However, where Son#2 is dark blonde and blue-eyed, Son#4 has the darker colouring shared by Sons#1 and #3. Son#5 is different again in colouring: dark blonde and the green eyes that he inherited from DH.

Son#4 was led to the Lord before he was five years old by Son#3. Apparently one night in bed they were talking (Sons#3, #4 and #5 shared a room at that stage) and Son#3 ended up praying with Son#4. Some time later they decided to tell me (just the most important thing that I wanted to know and they didn't tell me until much later!) and after talking with Son#4 it was obvious that he understood the step that he had made. There's more to this story but I'll share it when I introduce Son#5.

Son#4 was baptised when he was around 13 or 14 years of age. This was a difficult step for him to take as he is extremely quiet and prefer…

Arrghhh!

Blogger has changed and I can't format my posts the way I would like to. I've tried and tried and still my posts don't look like the previews. And I'm getting spaces all over the place where I don't want them and can't add them where I do. So frustrating! I liked it the old way - but guess I'll get used to this way. Please be patient as an old dog like me tries to learn new tricks.

My 'To Do' List

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This term is almost over and we have two weeks of school holidays! For those in the Northern Hemisphere our school year may seem a little strange. We start our school year at the beginning of February and finish some time in December. We have four terms with each about 10 weeks long and with a two week holiday between each term. At Christmas time we have six weeks of holidays (got to make the most of that gorgeous sun). Easter sometimes falls at the beginning of a term break or else is in the middle of a term. We have Friday, Monday and Tuesday off for Easter.

So today we finished Term 2 and we have two whole weeks before Term 3 starts. Yay! I'm slowly getting together my to-do list for the holidays:

Spend more time in prayer. This is so important but something I tend to rush or overlook when I'm busy;
Plan for long lie-ins in bed with a good book (make note to self to visit the library and borrow some good books);
Spend time with the kids (I wonder if they would like to visit the…

Hair Talk

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I got Son#4 to measure my hair yesterday and then DH checked it again today. I've gained 1/2" in length! Finally after months of not growing or hardly growing, my hair has got back into the habit again. Yay!

I'm now at 34-1/4" or 87cm. So close to my goal of 36". The plan was to get to 36" and then maintain that length until I felt my hemline had thickened. It's not noticeable in photos (and possibly I'm the only one who sees it) but I feel that the sides are not as thick as they could be and I want to try and even them up.

However, today DH said that he thought another 4" would look good on me which would make a final length of 38". If I decide to go that extra little bit I might hold off the maintenance programme until I hit 38" since it should only take me another 4 months to get there.

I can't believe I'm so close to my goal. When I started 2 years ago it seemed like forever until I reached longer lengths. Of course, it'…

Missing a Vital Gene

I'm not sure when it dawned on me that I'm not like other women. Perhaps it was during my teen years when my sister was so interested in fashion and hairstyles and I couldn't care less.

Perhaps it came later when my youngest son started school and I felt so different to all the other mothers with their short sleek bobs and up-to-date clothes. Or perhaps it didn't really hit me until I realised that other women enjoy shopping. I mean they actually enjoy it!

But if I ever had any doubts these were dispelled a few weeks ago when we attended a church camp and had to share bathroom facilities. As I stood in the bathroom brushing out my hair I watched as one woman applied eyebrow pencil. It was then that I truly realised that I am different. Vastly different. I've never ever applied eyebrow pencil let alone owned one!

And it didn't stop there. A few hours later several of the women decided to go into town shopping. Now our town with it's three blocks of shops lining…

It's Finally Finished

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It's been 10 years in the making but I've finally finished it. And would you believe it, I haven't even tried it on yet! Too scared to I think.

I bought this yarn (it's 100% cotton and knitted up to make a beautifully soft garment) before my youngest son started school. He's now fourteen.

In that time I've returned to part-time work, studied part-time to gain first my diploma in early childhood teaching, and then my degree, and devoted more time to patchwork and writing than I have to knitting. In fact, now I usually only knit when going on long trips in the car.

To be honest, I only started knitting this particular garment twelve months ago. I had knitted the front and back up in another pattern but decided that I wasn't happy with it, so last year I finally undid it and experimented to come up with this. The original pattern from which I adapted this one, didn't have the lace inserts starting at different points to give the 'V' effect.

I love the…

Surrendered Wives?

DH and I watched a documentary last night on a new movement that seems to be taking some countries by storm. It's based on a book entitled "The Surrendered Wife" and if the couples they showed are anything to go by, then it's a little scary.

Don't get me wrong. I believe the Bible when it says that wives should be submissive to their husbands. I just don't think the husband has a right to demand it or that it should become just another form of slavery.

Yet watching this documentary, this is the impression that you get: that wives are literally slaves to their husbands and that husbands have the right to dictate every area of their spouse's life right down to what she does each day and wears each day and even how she does her hair.

One husband made a list of household chores for his wife to do each day! As if she wasn't able to think or plan for herself. I wonder if he also told her what friends she was allowed - or perhaps she wasn't even allowed out…

Chalk and Cheese

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My little sis turns 41 today. How old that makes me feel! As her birthday has approached, I've spent some time over the past few days reflecting on our relationship. Growing up we were alternately best friends and worst enemies. We used to fight over everything (whose turn it was to do the dishes/peel the potatoes/feed the dog/get the washing off the line, who was the more attractive, who was our parent's favourite etc) but underneath it all we really loved each other.

We’re as different as ‘chalk and cheese’. Sis is out-going, the life-of-the-party; whereas I’m quiet and introverted and would rather stay at home with a good book. Yet despite our differences – or perhaps because of them - we were really good friends, particularly as we left our teens and entered our twenties. It was then that we had more in common: we had husbands and children (nine children between us) and were busy with our families.

But then things changed. I moved to New Zealand with my family and she left…