No more Babble

No more Babble

I think it’s been pretty obvious for a while, that my blog hasn’t been high on my list of priorities. Which is sort of true. I still spend so much time writing posts in my head and wondering what new ideas I can come up with. I love to write, I love to blog. But the time has come to make the decision to let Abbie’s Babble rest.

I’m very much of the opinion that if I can’t do something well and with my whole heart, then I probably shouldn’t do it at all. I started this blog as a means of dealing with the grief of losing my mum all the while adjusting to my new role as mum of four in a blended family. That season has passed now. My grief will never end and I’ll always be a very blessed mum. But right now, I need to focus on being hands on raising my family and being an amazing wife.

So I’ll say goodbye. And thank you. Thank you to all the wonderful people who have read and commented on my posts. I was always amazed at every comment – that anyone would take the time to read my words and then actually connect enough to say something.

My posts will stay here as I love to go back to read, to see just how far I have come. The memories are real. But for now, I’ll say goodbye. Or maybe see you later … in another form if I feel the need…

Abbie x

 

Reintroduction: Family

Reintroduction: Family

I don’t for a second believe that family is only those we are tied to through shared genetics. I grew up with a step-father who is my dad in every way (aside from the obvious biological difference). So I knew from a young age what real family is.

As far as my immediate – husband and children – family goes, there is no higher priority for me. Thankfully my Mr and I look at this from the same perspective. We dedicate time, thought and energy to ensuring that our beautiful blend has an amazing sense of love and security, and shared experiences/ adventures/ memories. Family.

I’ve been blessed with four amazing kids. I love them all. But only my daughter is genetically of me. How could I possibly say that my three step-sons are not my family, just because we don’t share genetics? I can’t.

I love them, I’m proud of them, they frustrate the heck out of me … and vice versa no doubt! As I said to them when their dad and I were engaged, I want to be the “mum-type-person” in their lives as much or as little as they will have me (their mum passed away years earlier from Cancer). I’m lucky that they let me be their mum-person in almost every way. We ARE family.

I experienced a big change in my own family dynamics after my mum passed away. We sure did have to do a reshuffle in the way we think and operate. It wasn’t all smooth, in fact some of the lowest lows for me were related to this transition, but we’re over the bumps now. I’m proud of how we’ve overcome. Not proud of my part in it at the low points but on the other hand,  emotions were running sooooooo high, and … well, I don’t need to revisit it now. We’re good and that makes me happy.

Those bumpy months did show me just how important some people are my life. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, is worth breaking those special relationships. Those months also illustrated for me the importance of the ‘mum’ role. I think it gave me a bit of a kick to really intentionally be the wife and mum I want for my nearest and dearest.

There’s so much more to write about family but really, I think when I say that my roles as mother, wife, and daughter have become really key in who I am and how I face every day, then I’ve nailed the key points.

|||||This post was prefaced by: Let Me Reintroduce Myself, which you can read here.

 

Eating myself well (ish)

Eating myself well (ish)

20150918_160103That, over there on the right >>>>> is me at 4pm on Friday. This week I worked two half-days and one full day, I slept most of Wednesday and both afternoons where I only worked the morning. There were more naps in between, and outside of work, driving kids and cooking meals, I’ve sadly achieved very little.

I’m a train wreck.

I feel like someone has heated my bone marrow to boiling point, everything burns from the inside, especially the joints from my knuckles to my toes and all in between. The fatigue is ridiculous to the point of sometimes not even being able to complete a sentence. I used to be called Jabba-jaws – this is not natural for me!

I’m battling an unknown disease. I know some things it’s not. Which is great – it definitely takes the pressure off knowing that while I’m possibly battling something chronic, I’m not looking at terminal. I have a wonderful Dr who I know is battling right beside me. At this stage I’m waiting to see a Rheumatologist at the hospital – it’s going to take two plus months to get an appointment.

In the meantime, there are two things I can control here.

Food and medication.

My Dr would like me to go on Prednisone (steroids) to keep me going until I can see the specialist. It’s a means to an end. I have reservations about this. My mum was on steroids long term and it wasn’t pretty. I also struggle with treating symptoms when we still don’t know the cause. I’m thinking on this one, I’m leaning towards toughing in out for a few more months medication free but we’ll see.

Food is a big card in my favour. I wrote a while ago that I was looking into the Paleo way. I did go fully Paleo for a while. I enjoy the food but when I’m so blimen exhausted and have a household of seven to run, it IS hard work. That said, when I don’t look after my diet, my pain goes up, my quality sleep goes down and the brain fog closes in.

I don’t think I’ll ever be fully Paleo, I need coffee (yes, need, don’t try and tell me otherwise please!) and enjoy my Friday evening vino with my husband too much. But mostly, I am heading back to eating clean, very clean, in an attempt to love on my body as much as possible.

Let’s see what happens.

I won’t stop fighting. I will always make the most of the good days and I have learnt to accept the sleep days for what they are – out of my control and completely necessary…not a reason to feel guilty. I am so blessed with a very understanding husband who is completely supportive and never makes me feel bad for the things I can’t do. I love him.

My life is still good. Great. I am blessed.

Note to self: Honesty

Note to self: Honesty

There’s a song I’ve been playing over and over a lot lately.

If We’re Honest. I love love love this song. The tone, the lyrics, the message, and of course the divine voice of Francesca Battistelli (I love this vibe for her, much more than her more commercial ‘pop’ sound).

Honesty is something that’s very much on my heart at the moment. It always is, really. But I’ve been living ‘pretend’ for a while now and I’m really needing to not do that anymore.

I’ve been unwell for over a year. Really feeling horrible and struggling each day to do what is required of me. I’ve hidden it. Always pretending I’m fine. Pretending to myself to a point, yes, to the rest of the world, definitely. It’s only in the last couple of months I’ve been admitting my weaknesses to some friends and family. I find that really hard. Those who see my Instagram posts will have seen a little more transparency (isn’t it funny how I, and maybe you, find is easier to be real with complete strangers?!).

I’m so much about ‘keeping it real’ yet by hiding this very big part of my life, I’m not being authentic. And that bugs me. It’s hard to be happy when I’m not being myself.

I know why I hide. I grew up in a home where, if someone asked how you were, you replied ‘I’m fine thank you’. It’s not that nobody cared, I guess I was just taught that we keep our private issues private, we don’t head out into the world looking for sympathy. That stance right there has also stopped me being good at reaching out for help. I also place extreme standards upon myself. Yup, I’m a bit of an overachiever in a lot of ways. At the moment, I consider myself failing as a wife and mother because I’m physically not able to do all that’s required of me in these roles. I’m a stay at home mum, my kids are at school, yet I still struggle to do the basics – the driving, washing, meals, cleaning. And that’s really hard to admit.

So the time has come for honesty.

To be honest with myself about what is real and realistic foremost.

Nothing good will ever come from dishonesty. From lying or misleading, no matter how good the intentions.

To be authentic is to be honest, dependable, trustworthy and real. This is who I am.

So honestly: I’m not perfect, I’m fully flawed and I need to accept this. I am how my creator made me. I will not hide from or be ashamed of His plan for my life.


In case anyone is wondering, my Dr is working hard to reach a diagnosis for me on the health issues. It’s a process but after many (many!) tests and specialist appts we’re hopefully closer to working this out. That will be a happy day, to have an answer and hopefully, a plan…

Happy birthday baby

Why I love gifts #abbiesbabble (1)I love birthdays.

Actually, I love gifts. Buying gifts, wrapping gifts, giving gifts. I absolutely adore watching people open gifts that I’ve given … although it also makes me nervous as heck. I always want to make the right choice. Give a gift, no matter how small, that makes someone really happy, makes them feel like I see them, and have thought about what they would actually like.

Today is my husband’s birthday.

It was a bit of a weird one on the gift front.

I gave him a renovator tool. Don’t get me wrong, this is something he really (really really really) wanted. In fact it was on my list of possible gifts LAST year. Yep, he’s wanted one for a while. So it was definitely a happy gift. But as we’re mid-renovation, I gave it to him earlier in the week. No gift wrapping, no surprise (he had to be with me to make sure I bought the right thing!).

Gifts aside, it’s been such a lovely day. Yep I do love family birthdays. We make a point, especially when it’s Richard or myself, to spend the day as Harris6. We also have a student staying with us from Vietnam so today we were Harris7.

Abbie with an NH-90
I never get sick of visiting these!!!

After church (where I ended up stuffing flour into balloons in kids church, not just a little bit scary for a celiac!) we headed out for lunch. We tried Vietnamese with the guidance of our lovely new friend. And it was super good. Then we headed out to the Airforce base for a swim (despite it being 13 degrees outside!) and a look at the helicopters. I NEVER get sick of seeing them, they are so cool. Back home for dinner and to watch the Smurfs2 movie as a family.

I love days like this. Yep, I love birthdays.

My Richard (not really a Sir!)
My Richard (not really a Sir!)

Our Sundays often roll like this, without the meal out though ($!). I am so blessed to be married to this amazing man. We are so on the same page when it comes to prioritising family time. We both had 20 other things we easily could have done today – but family first. Just one of his many amazing traits.

Happy birthday baby x

Celiac journey – six weeks in

Brain filing cabinet
Image by Laura Lee found at This Illustrated Life

It is only six weeks since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Wow. Seriously, wow! It quite honestly feels like months. I can not believe how much information has been crammed into the part of my brain filing cabinet section labelled ‘food and nutrition’. Obviously, I have also had to start a whole new draw in that filing cabinet called ‘gluten free’.

On the emotional side of things, acceptance is still all good. I’m still happy that it was this diagnosis and not something worse. I do have days where I think how lovely it would be to just grab a sandwich for lunch, or pizza for tea, but I’m learning that these are no longer options in my reality. I have no doubt that the more I do this, the easier it will become.

There have been a few changes that are obvious to me since I became gluten free:

  • I spend a LOT more time thinking about food. Mostly what’s coming up, not like, obsessing over what I can’t have or anything (most of the time!).
  • I no longer wake up with my hands, feet, knees and everything in between aching everyday. This started easing within days of giving up gluten. I’m very happy about this.
  • The kids check ingredients on things for me, like salad dressings to make sure I’m ‘safe’. In reality I’ve checked EVERYTHING at the supermarket but it’s sweet that they’re looking out for me and I love them for it.
  • I take photos of my yummy meals and post them on Instagram now – it’s like I have something to prove. Gluten free can be yummy and beautiful too!
  • We go through up to four dish cloths a day in my kitchen now. I’m getting pretty finicky about cleanliness in there and it’s not like my standards were low to start with. My husband and kids are totally following suit and and mostly being so so so careful.
  • I’m a lot more motivated to get myself out walking and keep myself generally healthy. This is very good.
  • I can now go 2-3 days without a nap. Sometimes. This is huge progress from sleeping every day, up to 2-3 hours a day when I could fit it in.

So as you see, this doesn’t just affect me, my family have to be on board as well. I’m lucky they’re with me in this and willing to do what it takes to keep me healthy.  I read about others in shared accommodation trying to maintain gluten-free-ness – I can imagine that would be more challenging.

One of the biggest upsides, aside from the fact that I’m starting to feel better, is that I’ve really connected with a friend who has recently started on a full auto immune protocol diet, also for health reasons. You think gluten free is brutal? Her road is a lot tougher to walk. Realising we’re both on a similar path we share recipes and ideas and can be very honest with each other about how we’re feeling (physically and mentally) and what’s really going on. This has, and no doubt will continue to be, an incredible sanity saver for me. God is good, He knows what/who we need and has everything/everyone perfectly placed ahead of us.

If you’re a newbie on this journey like me, hang in there and look on the bright side, there will always be a bright side. And find someone else on the same journey to share with (I’m here). We can do this!

Abbie x

When 1 + 1 = 8

Earlier this month we went to one of the most beautiful weddings I think I have ever attended. The setting was gorgeous, outdoors under well established trees in a beautiful garden. We sat on hay bails covered with white taffeta as the sun dimpled through the trees. The groom was handsome, the bride was stunning. So were their children. And I don’t think a single person there could deny that God was in ‘the house’. Oh yes, these two are meant to be together.

As much as the setting was gorgeous, for me, my heart-strings were really pulled on a deeper level. I could so relate with this couple. A widower who tragically lost his wife far too young, leaving him to raise their four children. And a young woman raising her twin boys alone. The joining of this gorgeous couple didn’t just bring together a husband and wife, but a big beautifully blended family.

The best man (the groom’s teenage son) spoke of the order his new stepmother would likely bring to the house…as only a woman can! The father of the groom was overwhelmed with joy when he could talk of his son’s renewed happiness after some really awful times. He also reminded the bride that she was inheriting two sets of in-laws with her new husband’s, late-wife’s family as well.

Oh yes, Richard and I could so relate! I’m just so excited for this new Mr&Mrs. It’s not an ‘everyday’ beginning to a marriage but it’s one I have lived. And continue to live. It’s not an easy beginning to a marriage but are any of the beginnings really easy, if we’re honest? Besides, there are also some really cool aspects that I pray work as well in their life, as they have in ours. The growing bonds between step-siblings, the very extended family, the maturity and experience brought to the marriage from the outset.

These are gifts.

the secret to happy marriage #goodadvice #instablogging #abbiesbabbleSomething I took away from the Pastor’s message was a little nugget of wisdom gleaned from a couple who had been married for 65 years. When asked what their secret to a successful marriage was, they said “we come from a time when, if something broke, we fixed it”. Isn’t that beautiful?! Words to live by I think, I’m getting a bit fed up with this ‘disposable life’ that seems to be so fashionable now. But that’s a whole different blog post…

 

CC Image background It’s All About Love by Candida.Performa via Flickr
abbie123

It’s been so long it’s a new year!

Hello hello hello my lovely blog world. Happy New Year!!!

Me and my rock x
Me and my rock x

I have been so super busy since school finished for the summer on 12 December but I have constantly missed the world of blog. I’ve been away from home (still am) and traveling without a laptop which has forced some serious down time. What can I say, much as I miss blogging, having the persistent online distraction taken away from me has been great. Loads of time spent with the family, I’ve already read a few books and taken a lot (seriously, a LOT) of naps! Still doing lots of writing, my journal has taken a hammering 🙂

In the last four weeks, including the last week before school finished, a lot has happened. I only have a short time on a borrowed computer so here’s some highlights as a reminder of posts I want to write/things I want to reflect on in the new year…

  • We’d been struggling with bullying at Nat’s school, I removed her from school 10 days before the end of the year. After a meeting with the school Principal, who completely denied a problem (don’t get me started!), Nat has been enrolled in a new school for 2015. I’ll reflect more on this later as I think it’s something a lot of parents, unfortunately, go through.
  • RoadtrippingWe’ve already traveled over 1,000km this holidays. We have plans for around another 1,700km yet. Much of it with our caravan. That’s a lot of travel in a pretty small country. Good thing our family loves road trips huh?!
  • We had a lovely weekend mid-December to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday and an early Christmas for that side of our family. These people are so special and I’m so honored to be adopted into their family. Being Aunty Abbie to 10 nieces and nephews is just fabulous! Technically they’re not my in-laws, they are my husband’s in-laws (his late wife’s family) but they have wholeheartedly opened their arms, hearts and lives to me, and I love them all to pieces. AMAZING people.
  • I’ve had a REALLY bumpy lead up to the holiday period, this being the first Christmas and New Year since my Mum died. And still raw as we come to the first anniversary of her passing in a couple of weeks. A lot of reflection and I know that a lot of people will be experiencing similar things. I didn’t expect the grief bug to bite me again so hard, but that was probably just naive (or really hopeful!). Still standing, and still moving forward though 🙂
  • I wrote about feeling strong late in November. I feel like I’ve been pulled through a storm backwards since then, but as a new year dawned this morning, those feelings remained. 2014 has been pretty brutal and a year I’ll never forget. Now I’m looking into 2015 knowing it will be different. There is hope. There is always hope, and I’m going to fight hard to stop smothering mine. My focus is on my faith for my strength. A lot to look back on from 2014 and move forward with in 2015, watch this space.

I hope you’ve all had a lovely, blessed holiday period. I look forward to catching up on blogs in February. I haven’t given up on blogging, despite the long absence, I’m just living the summer in the real world with my family. I will be back!

InstagramIn the meantime, I’m a very regular Instagrammer so head on over to my page @abbiesbabble if you want to see what we’re up to.

 

AbbiesBabble

Thankful Thursday (December 4)

Be thankful in all thingsOops, I just realised it’s Friday and I forgot to post my Thursday post. Well, I’m sure it’s still Thursday for some of my readers!

This past weekend I was reminded to be thankful in ALL things – I was given this little prompt while doing chores and it was most definitely the recurring theme over the next few days.

Yes, I was getting grumpy as I put ANOTHER load of togs and towels through the washing machine. But hang on, why was I washing their togs and towels again.

Because the kids had a water fight inducing a great amount of fun, laughter and squealing. I am thankful for that.

As I spent three hours reorganising a child’s bedroom I started to feel annoyed. Why was I doing this, there are plenty of other things I could be doing. Then I looked around and realised how blessed we are – we have a lovely home, our children have what they need and then some (a lot more ‘some’!). And I have children, I know something not everyone is able to be so thankful for.

While vacuuming the dog hair off the rug I thought about our dog and how much joy he brings to our family. He’s just so cute and loving, quite often a balm when things are stressful.

I dusted the bookshelves and was so grateful for the fact that I can read, I am educated, and the same goes for my children.

So you get the picture. What started as me going along doing my usual chores and feeling grumpy, turned into me looking forward to the next thing so I could find another blessing to be grateful for.

AbbiesBabble

This is my story #testimony

Last week I wrote about how, for the longest time, I didn’t think I had a testimony to share. I was ordinary. God hadn’t changed my life in big, jaw dropping ways. Or so it seemed. And wasn’t that the point of people who shared their testimony at church – the high impact, spectacular stories, the near death and life altering interventions by God.

Yeah … nah.

We DO all have a story and we should all share it. If we have God in our lives, then our story has started. The way I see it, our testimony is quite simply, how God came into our lives, and the changes he has made since. By telling our story, we can glorify Him and His work in us. It doesn’t have to be attention grabbing, I think it’s more important that it’s real. And it doesn’t have to be full of biblical jargon. Keep it simple, keep it real and make it about God.

We all have a #story #testimony abbiesbabble.wordpress.com

So here’s my story…

I grew up with parents who didn’t want to believe in God. My mum grew up with extremely religious parents and unfortunately, after a life of having religion shoved down her throat, she rejected all things to do with Christianity (as far as I could see) until the last months of her life. I, however, was completely open-minded and quite curious about God. My brother and I spent part of most school holidays with our grandparents who took us to church and ensured we were exposed to the bible – which I loved. It was one school holidays, when I was seven, that I responded to an altar call at their church. I can still remember pulling on my Nan’s arm, looking up at her and saying “Nan, that’s me, I want that, I want to give my heart to Jesus”. And I did.

I didn’t do a lot with that decision growing up. Sure I went to youth group as a teen but that was more of a social thing than anything else. I always believed in God, I always defended never denied that faith, but never did I seek out a relationship with Him. Then came my 20’s, leaving home, going to University, then moving on to a bigger city. Life was busy establishing a career and partying far too hard. On the outside I was living a great big life. I was empty inside and totally dissatisfied, but never did I think to call on God.

God started tapping on my shoulder when I was married in my late 20’s. I pushed Him away saying ‘some day I will listen’. A few years after this (yes, I’m still ignoring the gentle, yet persistent reminders saying ‘Abbie I am here for you’) my first husband left me. Our daughter was six weeks old at the time. My life was thrown into turmoil. This time I responded to God. Over the next few months I talked to Him. I learnt to trust Him. I found a church – ironically my mum, who didn’t want anything to do with religion was instrumental in getting me there. The first time I walked through those doors and the worship started my heart melted. I’d never felt anything quite like that before. I was home. And I haven’t looked back.

Since then (seven years now) I have actively worked on my relationship with my heavenly father. He has changed me from the inside out in ways I didn’t know were possible. He doesn’t stop working on me – I screw up and he’s still there. And that right there is the beauty, the spectacular, the amazing and most definitely the life-altering in my story.

The emptiness I endured in my 20’s has been replaced by peace and confidence in who I am (in Him). The fears and insecurities I faced are melting away as I learn to see myself as God sees me.

He has taught me about forgiveness. I have been able to genuinely forgive people in my past – people I thought I had forgiven but until I had been truly forgiven myself, I didn’t understand what this meant.

I have been able to lean on God through the most stressful periods of my life, and retain a sense of knowing, that in spite of everything else, He will carry me through. Life hurts, but I am never alone and there is always hope.

I was sustained through five years of being single, holding on to the promise that there is a greater plan for my life – that promise is the most amazing thing. Now I am being shown what it is to be a wife within a christian marriage which is truly blessed.

I am grateful for everything I have, which I know comes from God. I also strive daily to actually live a Christian life. It doesn’t always come naturally to me (especially patience!) but as each day passes, I find the things I need coming to me more and more. I know that this is the work of my amazing God. I slip up. Often. And I am forgiven. Always.

My faith and my relationship with God are making me strive to be a better person – to positively impact my world where before, I was all about me. To Him be the glory. I’m just following the steps He places in front of me, and listening to the whispers of His voice.

I still consider myself a ‘baby christian’ and I’m okay with that. But in light of that, and the many and amazing ways my life has been changed, it’s pretty awesome to think of the possibilities as I get to know my heavenly father more and more.

Will you tell me your story?

AbbiesBabble

Feeling strong

It came as a bit of a shock to me the other day.

I realised I was okay.

I am actually okay. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have clarity, peace and calm – my thoughts and feelings aren’t overshadowed by one specific emotion or event. I’m living and I’m doing fine. Better than that, I feel strong!

We’ll ignore the massive head cold which has me taking over-the-counter medication every six hours just to function. Because that’s not a big deal, that’ll be done by the weekend.

I’m talking inner, emotional, I can deal with life right now, strong.

It’s probably a bit sad that this came as a shock but if I look back, well I’ve been through the wringer in the last few years. I’ve dealt with my mum’s illness and passing, moving to a new town where I don’t know anyone, blending a family, watching my daughter struggle so desperately with the changes in our lives, and saying goodbye to my Gran. Oh, and being a newlywed. So yes there have obviously been some extreme highs in that time too!

I am still grieving my mum (10 months) and my Gran (one month) and I know I will, possibly forever. I won’t ever let them go. But I’ve reached a point where my grief no longer controls me. I don’t doubt Christmas will be hard. Very hard – I’ve already swallowed back tears more than once when I’ve heard The Little Drummer Boy playing in stores. My mum used to play this on the piano, I can still see the torn yellow cover of her sheet music. But the things is, I’m able to swallow the tears now. Most of the time.

Life comes and goes in seasons. I hope that I’m approaching a season of ‘normal’ life. Whatever that is?! Something settled perhaps? My husband has only really known me when I’ve been dealing with challenges (bless him, he’s a-m-a-y-z-i-n-g). I’ve leaned on him so hard, I’m so grateful to God for sending me this wonderful man at a time I wouldn’t want to have gone through alone.

Yes I will still face challenges. Nobody ever said life was easy. But I feel more well-equipped emotionally to deal with things at the moment, without spiraling into stress with every little thing. I’ve got this. Actually, God’s got this, He’s got me. He’s had me all along. This has definitely been a year of growth in my spiritual life.

Never Lose HopePhilippians 4:13 became a bit of a mantra for me in this time, I was often muttering it under my breath.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Yeah, sometimes just saying it once wasn’t enough!

I will say, to anyone reading this who is facing tough times please hang in there. Please know that it will get better. This is the first time in 3-4 years I could ever say that I felt strong and calm. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, always hope, always a way through.

What a ramble. Thanks for still reading!

AbbiesBabble

 

Thankful Thursday (November 27)

Today is Thanksgiving in the USA so to all of you celebrating this day:

Happy Thanksgiving

For me here in little old New Zealand, it’s just another day. But every day is for gratitude and as it’s Thursday, here’s what I’m especially thankful for this week.

This week it is most definitely family.

Last Wednesday I was able to fly to Auckland for a few days away. Just me, no children, for three days complete break. It was bliss. It would not have been possible without a big pile of my extended family (it really does take a village to raise a family it seems!).

  • My husband who not only supported me in taking off, but encouraged me to take the break and negotiated reduced hours at work for a few days to look after the boys. He also drove Nat two hours up to…
  • …My dad who looked after Nat while I was away. She’s not great at being at home while I’m not there so my dad stepped in and looked after (spoilt!) her. She probably really needed that time with him anyway.
  • My cousin and her husband who looked after Nat while my dad was at work – the highlight being the frozen coke they treated her to!
  • My great-aunt and great-uncle who picked me up from the airport, had me stay, showed me the sights and spoiled me quite completely. It was a joy to spend time with them, with family who know me, who knew my mum. I can talk about my mum with lots of people, but those who knew her aren’t really in my life on a regular basis. My husband only knew her since she got sick, my dad has a new partner so that’s a bit awkward and my Gran passed away recently. To share stories of my mum, especially with my great-aunt who my mum adored, with all that history, was really special. Because sometimes I do want to talk about her. A lot. I miss her and she feels more alive when I know she’s in the hearts of other people too.
  • In memoryMy super talented cousins who conducted 500 children in an amazing choral performance. It was amazing to see them in action. They also dedicated the evening to my mum, Lynley. One of the songs in the line up was the song they sang so beautifully at my mum’s funeral. There were tears – it was really special.
  • My cousin who I met for the first time who is in NZ on a gap year – how cool is that to meet a new cousin at the age of 37?! Such a lovely person and I so enjoyed her company.

So wow, in three short days, look at all those family members who had a part in me being away! Yes, I definitely have a lot to be grateful for.

AbbiesBabble

 

 

 

That sliding doors moment

Do you ever wonder ‘what might have been’? If you’d just made ‘that’ choice, or if something had just gone ‘the other way’. What could have happened in your life?

A bit like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors where we see two realities played out based on what happened if the character did, and if she did not, catch the train one day.

Dog walking got us thinking
photo credit: OrangeCounty_Girl cc

My husband and I had an odd little moment like that over the weekend. All the kids were away (which almost never happens!) and on Saturday evening we decided to take the dog for an impromptu walk.

It occurred to me then, this could have been our reality.

It got us to thinking about what might have been if we’d met ‘at the traditional time’ rather than as a second time around couple. Next month will be our second wedding anniversary. So really, a lot of ‘young marrieds’ would be doing just what we were doing – taking the dog for a leisurely stroll on a weekend evening. Sans children, because at that point, children may not even be a reality yet.

We had a few giggles over the possibilities and talked about the early days of our first marriages. Then came to two conclusions:

  • If we had met earlier in life, we wouldn’t have been right for each other. Back then, I was very much a party girl, and very lost. God still had a lot of work to do in me. We wouldn’t have looked twice at each other. Well, actually we agreed, we both would have looked twice, but then dismissed each other as so not right.
  • If we had met and married at any other stage in our lives, we wouldn’t have the depth of relationship that we have now, as boy oh boy have we negotiated some storms and learnt a lot about ourselves and each other in our short time together.

I know we can’t change what’s passed. Nor would I want to. But it was nice to think out the possibilities and to realise that it all came together just as it should have. Thank God for His perfect timing.

AbbiesBabble

 

Just put the screen down

Social MediaI’m really starting to annoy myself.

Do you constantly find yourself checking for new activity on your blogs, tweetbooks, facetags, instapins and hashmails? 😉

I do.

I can hardly wander past my phone without checking the notifications some days. If I’m sitting “watching” the kids at sport, you’ll probably find me on my screen a lot.

Over at Pendulum World, Marla posted recently about being present with our kids, not letting our own things get in the way of really connecting with the little people in our lives. Because I’ve already been feeling frustrated with my behaviour, this really struck a chord with me.

Like Marla, I love the world of blogging. I do love to write and have found such freedom in expressing myself this way. I’ve also found joy in the community of bloggers (hey you guys!) and love to communicate on my blog and others. I link some social media with my blog (Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest) but I also love to interact with my real world friends on Facebook.

That said, God has given me the amazing blessing and huge responsibility of raising four children within a wonderful marriage. To put all that ‘social media’ stuff before them is just plain wrong. For me. I do think God is really speaking into my heart at the moment and saying, put the screen down, look at your family, they need your attention. And I know He’s right. So I’m called to act.

I have to admit, I’ve tried to be more focused at sport this week. At volleyball I enjoyed actually following the game and encouraging the team. A few times Tom looked over and I was able to give him a thumbs up or word of praise and his big grin was well worth it. Same with Nat at swimming – as she swims past me and takes that one breath where I’m in her line of sight, I see her smile when I wave stupidly at her.

I will defend myself a little here. I do think I’m a good mum. I love my kids completely and my life is pretty well devoted to making sure everyone in my family has what they need, when they need it. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Lately though, I feel like I’ve dropped the ball a bit and maybe that is because my priorities are slipping just a little too far in the direction of what I want, instead of what I should be doing. This balance will be addressed with the changes we’re making in the new year – I’ll post about this in the next few weeks.

So here’s the deal: I’m really focusing on the time between school pickup and dinner. This is to connect with my children and my husband. When I’m out with the kids, my phone is not out (excluding photos, my phone is my camera). When we’re at hockey or swimming or volleyball or whatever, I’m watching them, not my screen. On the rare afternoon that we’re actually at home, I’m going to make a real effort to stay off screens completely in this time. Eeeek, I know I’m up for a challenge in this.

Anyone with me???

Raising Children

AbbiesBabble

 

Thankful Thursday (November 5)

Thankful Thursday

I LOVE:

  • Being a mum – this is a privilege for me. I love looking after my family, teaching and nurturing, providing a safe and loving home for them. Meeting their needs, while definitely challenging, is enjoyable for me. Yes, sometimes when I collapse on the couch at the end of the day, when the washing machine has stopped beeping at me and the kids have finally all fallen asleep I don’t feel it so much, but overall, being a mum is cool and this time, having children at home, is a part of my life I know I will always cherish.
  • My kids – I do love these four little people. I have a different bond with each of them, especially given that one is biologically mine and the other three I have met later in life. But honestly, I see them all as ‘ours‘ and I’m so proud to call myself their mum/step-mum.
  • My husband – well obviously! But seriously, when my first husband left me with a newborn I learnt a lot. About life and about me. I made a decision, for myself and my daughter, that I would not casually date ‘just because’. That I would not settle for just anyone. It was also this time that I entered into a genuine relationship with God. So I waited five years (five long years single!) for this man to walk into my life and it was worth every lonely second. My husband is honest, genuine, loving, patient, caring, loyal …. and I could just keep going. Just know that God blessed me with a man who has all the characteristics to be the perfect husband to me (especially the patience bit, I’m prone to stroppiness). Oh and did I mention tall, dark and handsome 😉
  • Good food – yes I love good food. Fresh food. Healthy food. I love preparing good meals for my family and it’s so nice that they really appreciate the effort I put in.
  • Grace and mercy – God’s unrelenting love, offered regardless of what we’ve done, whether we think we deserve it or not, has changed my life no end. The person I am now is so different to the person I was 10 years ago. I am thankful daily for the work God has done, and I know will keep doing, in me.
  • Our new caravan – roll on summer, can’t wait for some fantastic trips away. SO excited!
  • My pets – I’m one of those people who truly loves cats AND dogs. Which is why I have one of each. They hate each other, but I love them both! Polly is a rescued tabby cat who is the most smoochy loyal little thing ever. Moe is a border terrier who we are caring for while friends are overseas for a few years. He is loyal and super affectionate. I am never alone when my pets are in the house, their affection is unreserved and without conditions. Polly lives upstairs (with a litter tray after we established she had peed in the Lego many times!) and Moe lives downstairs. They make it work 🙂

This is a list of things in my life that I love – it’s not a complete list, not even close, just a small sample. These are of course, all things that I am extremely thankful for.

AbbiesBabble

On the happiness trail … why I quit my job

Last Monday I let my employer know I would not be accepting their offer to extend my contract to the end of 2015.

Happy Jumping
I’m so happy!
photo credit: Denis Messié cc

And it felt great!

Why would I give away a perfectly good job you may ask? A job that wasn’t unpleasant, that offered good hours allowing me to drop my kids to school and pick them up again at 3pm. Especially in these times when jobs can be hard to come by.

Because I am on a mission to find myself, and to create a truly happy life for myself and for my family. And because my mum told me to on my birthday.

Being out of the home five days a week, even if only while the kids were at school, has put too much pressure on me to be able to effectively run my home. I feel constantly stressed and tired, chasing my tail trying to get things done. This is not happy for me and definitely hasn’t allowed me to spend any time finding myself. My life is totally tied up in being ‘mum’. I am, as all mums are, more than just the mother to my children.

In August I wrote about needing to find myself, about feeling lost and not completely happy and needing to make changes but not knowing what they were. Well here’s one of the big changes, a big step in the direction of happy.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a whine. I know a lot of people have to work full-time out of home and full-time parent as well. I did that as a single parent myself. I’m simply working the life I have. If I sound ungrateful, I’m REALLY not. I’m just intentional about having the best possible version of my life (and that for my family as well).

I have an EXTREMELY supportive husband who recognizes all of this, he does see how hard I work and just for the record he’s awesome at helping out. I’m conscious though that his job is demanding and when he gets home I want him to be able to chill and spend time with the kids. And there are some things that a mum just has to do, that only a mum can see, and this particular mum has pretty high standards (self-confessed, I know it!) and sometimes I just have to do things to get them done right the way I like it 😉 Not to mention that it’s almost impossible to eek out a spare hour for myself, which I have learnt this year, is not a bad thing to want.

And the core of the issue is (pretty sure I’ve said this before), if the mama bear is happy, the family are happy. I have realised this year, as I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, how much I influence the atmosphere of the home. That’s some scary power right there!

Happy Girls!
Happy!
photo credit: simpleinsomnia cc

So, as a husband and wife team, we have decided to take a financial hit, to receive a lot more time in our bank. I am going to study part-time (Graduate Diploma in Management Information Systems, I know, GEEK! I am SO excited) and have a lot more time to focus on my husband, my children, my home and myself.

I know we are fortunate that we can make ends meet on my husband’s salary (it will be tight) and that he is willing to go on this journey with me. I do feel a little self-indulgent taking on study ‘because I want to’ but mostly I think that’s because I’m worried about what other people will think – and I know I need to get over that.

Besides mostly I’m excited. I love to study, I love that I’m going to be able to go on all the school trips, and for me, being able to calmly keep an organised-tidy home, is something I enjoy. It’s hard to explain, but if I have the time, it’s not a chore/stress, it’s a part of my role as wife/mother that I love and take great pride in.

NOW is the time to be happy, I’m not putting it off any longer.

Sign off

 

Thankful Thursday (October 16)

Thankful Thursday

So much to be thankful for. Always. But especially when I haven’t written it here for a few weeks. So here goes, in no particular order, just bullet points today…

  • Two weeks school holidays with my family, only a couple of days where I had all four kids to myself but we made the most of them. Lots of lovely moments with each of the children, and my gorgeous husband who was on leave for part of the time as well.
  • Being able to help friends in ways big and small.
  • Friends who reach out to me when I need them.
  • Nature/creation, and being able to spend time in it.
  • Spring (and the anticipation of summer).
  • Amazingly supportive in-laws.
  • Booking summer holidays – can already feel the memories we are creating with our family!
  • Naps. I love naps. There was time for a few of those over the holidays.
  • That my Gran is in heaven now. Sad she’s not here, but thankful she is in a better place with our Lord.
  • My new fridge which is as tall as I am (1.78m) and that I can fill it once a fortnight.
  • Sunshine. Did I say that? I love sunshine!
  • People who are willing to teach and lead our children (youth pastors, teachers, Brownie leaders etc).
  • A tidy garage and for the day in the holidays where my husband and I could get together and attack it to make it so – we really to make a good team. Messy generally does my head in, it’s awesome having this sorted out.

What are you thankful for?

 

Oh how I missed my Blogdom

I don’t even know if ‘Blogdom’ is a word. I’m not going to check the dictionary. I don’t care, I like it, so it stays!

I haven’t been in the land of blog for nearly three weeks now and I have so missed reading, writing and interacting – I think I actually went through withdrawal!

It was a mega-mayhem two weeks of school holidays which I packed full to the brim. There’s been adventure, fun, happiness, sadness, family and friends, and I see today a few more blog awards. I have a veritable smorgasbord of posts to write.

Check out my Instagram page for a few snapshots and in the meantime here’s the highlights:

  • Our friends Ben and Charlie stayed for a week
  • I went on my first hunt
  • My Gran passed away (ok, so that’s a low, not a highlight)
  • Nat had her first Brownie camp
  • Richard and I had a blissful 43 hours child-free
  • I quit my job in my quest to live a truly happy life
  • We booked our summer camping holidays

And I’m sure there’s more but that’s enough for now! I hope to be back up to speed with my Thankful Thursday, Scripted Sunday and other regular posts I mentioned earlier as well. Oh it’s good to be back 🙂

Sign off

Thankful Thursday (September 18)

Thankful Thursday

It amazes me how complex we humans are – that I can feel so many conflicting emotions all at once but somehow, manage to compartmentalize, so that the bad does not overcome the good. I have so much to be thankful for, I’m walking in a state of perpetual gratitude at the moment. With that, comes joy. It’s a beautiful place. But then there are struggles with family, watching friends go through rough times, and spontaneously crying as I think of my mum (although this is happening less these days).

There are things I give thanks for EVERY day: family, safety, provision, food, being loved, health and God’s grace.

Highlights from my gratitude journal this week:

  • A lunch date with my husband – a blissful two hours to ourselves. Moments always to be treasured as we intentionally work on our husband & wife relationship in the midst of raising four children in a very busy family environment.
  • That my children are healthy, active and motivated – especially after Sam and Tom did so well at our school sports prize-giving last night (check out the haul of awards).
  • Looking forward to the weekend with my beautiful girl. A mother daughter night away as we go to a show in the city.
  • The ability to help a friend in need – editing a thesis. Believe it or not, that’s totally enjoyable for me and I love that I can help her out.
  • That my children have dreams (I will post more on what prompted this later).

What are you thankful for?

 

Where abbiesbabble is at

Today Wordpress told me I have now published 100 posts. I have 154 people following me. That’s not bad in four months – little numbers for most of you I know but for me, I’m happy. I didn’t do this to get followers but I have to admit, I love it when I know someone new has read something of mine and liked my writing/my perspective enough to want to read more. It’s an honour. I’ve only been blogging such a short time but it’s like I’ve found a new way of life that enhances all the good I already have going on!

The 100 post milestone prompted me to look through the archives. I can’t believe how far I have come so quickly. I started blogging because I was in a hole, getting stuck trying to grieve the loss of my mum/best friend, working out where I fit in my life without her, and in my family (a relatively new 4+2 blend). These were big enormous things – the most life changing defining aspects of my life to date aside from meeting Christ properly and becoming a mother myself.

Map
I’m finding my way again

So yes, my head has been in all sorts of states. Looking through my archive, I hope I haven’t come across as too much of a whiny girl. I’m usually very strong, positive and determined. Actually that should be D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-E-D. In establishing this place, that is my own, and getting back to journalling, I have worked through a load of stuff and my perspective is much healthier now.

I stand (sit) here now stronger and more focused than when I started blogging back in May. Aside from the healing I discovered in writing, I’ve read so many blogs I can’t tell you. I’ve formed online friendships, I’ve been inspired, I’ve been given (and have taken) advice and reality checks. Thank you blog world for helping me get my sh*t together. Not ignoring my awesome husband who has been especially wonderful and supportive in the process of sh*it togethering 🙂

So what does this mean for abbiesbabble?

To drink tea and to journalWell, I sure as heck am not going away. I’ve changed the look of my pages slightly to reflect a stronger me – the previous headers were just all too soft for the real Abbie. No guarantee I won’t play with this further (hmmm, yes, a distinct probability!). I will continue to journal and to blog openly and honestly about my life and the random things I come across. And I will continue to read and be inspired by other blogs. I do intend to keep an eye on the tone of my blog though – positive and real are what I’m aiming for.

I can see posts with themes of family, faith, food and fun.

FAMILY – well any family has dynamics, mine is no different, especially as a blended family. I include my grief journey with my mum in this category.

FAITH – I walk deeper into my relationship with my Saviour every single day. I can’t and won’t ignore this.

FOOD – I’m embarking on a major sugar reduction in our home. We’re not really too bad but could be a lot better. I don’t doubt we will have some success and some disaster – all blog-worthy! Watch this space anyway.

FUN – well come on, we’re all after a bit of fun. This summer we as a family intend to get into tramping (hiking) which I’m so looking forward to. I’ll share photos and compare blisters if nothing else!

@abbiesbabbleOh, and in case you missed the post, I have a Twitter handle now: @abbiesbabble. The Twittersphere is all new and moves very fast but I’m working it out … I think. Join me!

Loving you blog world – please keep writing!

 

Today is September 11 in New Zealand. Every year this anniversary makes me reflect on what happened in the US and how much the world seems to have changed in that time. I don’t have a lot to say, I just want to acknowledge it x

THANKFUL THURSDAY (August 28)

Thankful Thursday Squares

I give thanks to God every day – for His provision, endless love and grace.

This week I am especially thankful that my children are healthy. That we are able to spend time as a family, especially in the great outdoors. That we live in an amazing country which is peaceful, safe and where one can choose their life. I honestly believe this for everyone in New Zealand, some people sadly, just haven’t been taught the FULL spectrum of choices they have to pick from.

On a less serious note, I am also very grateful that my iPod and my car stereo are fixed. I smashed my iPod screen, my car stereo had a battery issue. At the same time!!!! Both easy fixes thankfully as a life without music, especially all the driving I do, is just plain wrong.

Image background:  Texture Time

Work? Optional!

Daily Prompt: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

Well this is a prompt I can really relate to. In fact it is an ongoing discussion between my husband and I right now.

Classroom
photo credit: rosipaw via photopin cc

To set the scene, I work in a high school. I manage the Withdrawal Room which is basically time out for the kids sent out of class for a single period, or kids further down the discipline chain who need to be here for a full day. I’m not a teacher, I’m a supervisor. I definitely get to meet some of the more colourful personalities in the school. And I love it.

I work Monday to Friday, 9.00am-1.30pm and I have school holidays off. This is great to balance the needs of my family – they need taxiing around to their various after school activities and as we live across town from their school that’s also a 45 minute round trip. This means I get about 30 minutes between finishing my paid job and taking up my ‘Mum’ job (which generally keeps me active until about 8.00pm). On weekends we have sport, church, youth groups etc. so sometimes it feels like the weekends are busier than the week days in terms of running around.

So how is this relevant to the daily prompt?

Well, my job is on a contract that ends at the end of the school year (December). I’ve been asked to come back and take it on again next year. Part of me wants to, I enjoy the kids I work with (seriously) and the money makes our bank balance a little more elastic.

But I’m exhausted. I have so little energy. There is never any time to take for myself. My husband works night shift every other week so he disappears while I’m out picking up the kids from school – that week we don’t see him aside from breakfast. The house is ‘kinda’ clean and tidy and while I’ve learnt to lower my standards, it is only getting the bare minimum attention. I’m constantly battling that washing pile, there is plenty more I could do around the house, and we’re eating takeaways on a weekly basis which I don’t love. Basically I’m not able to give anything 100%. Yesterday I had to decline helping one of my chosen charities with their annual appeal as I would be at work when they needed me.This makes me sad as I like to help out where I can.

The Kidlets
These little people need (and deserve) a fully functioning, happy and energized Mama bear

So my husband and I have agreed that we’ll take the hit financially to better balance our lifestyles. We’ve prayed on this. I’ve asked my boss if they’ll consider me job sharing and cutting down to three days a week. I’m pretty sure that’s not a realistic option for the school but it’s worth asking the question right?! If the answer is no, I won’t renew my contract.  We’ll step out in faith and believe that something else will come along. We’ll make the financial sacrifices to allow a better quality of life for everyone (when the mama bear is happier, the rest of the bear family are much more settled!). This will allow me to have more energy for the kids, run the house how I like it, to have time to myself to relax and exercise (essential to good state of body and mind), and my husband and I to spend time together before he starts night shifts allowing us to be more than just ships passing in the night.

We both recognise that there are plenty of families who balance two full-time jobs with raising a family. Some out of financial need some out of financial want. I am feeling so blessed right now that Richard and I are on the same page and he supports me so fully even though it does mean sacrifices for us all.

If money honestly was not an issue, I would do my Masters/PHD part-time which would still allow me to balance my family needs with my own needs. I love to study, I’m such a geek! Who knows, perhaps I’ll take on the study option at some point anyway.

 

THANKFUL THURSDAY (August 21)

Thankful ThursdayI am thankful for a hockey trip up to Hawke’s Bay on Sunday – my home. I haven’t been up there since March, it’s been hard to face. Hockey kind of forced the issue. It was hard but I’ve done it now. Phew.

Lambs and daffodils – spring is nearly here. Oh my goodness, how cute are lambs bouncing their way around the paddocks and don’t get me started on those little tails wagging as they feed. Guaranteed to bring a smile to my face 🙂

My children being healthy. As I watch another family prepare to say goodbye to their daughter, only a toddler, I hug my children more tightly and thank God for every day I have with them and we have together as a family.

Books. I love books. And book week at school. Tomorrow is the dress up parade. Can’t wait!!!!

Teachers who are willing to go the extra mile for their students. Even if it means dropping them home at 8.30pm with a massive bruise on their face (hockey injury)!

My husband. He’s awesome. I should probably just permanently put this one on every Thankful Thursday post as it’s always true ♥

 

WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP

WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP

I haven’t been posting so much the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what to say. Which is VERY unusual for me. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write, it’s that there’s just so much.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like I’m in a real transitory place – accepting a new life in a blended family (it will be two years in December so not so ‘new’ really) and working out where and how I fit. Thing is, I spent so much time making sure everyone else in the family was ok, I didn’t work on me. And I got lost. So very lost.

So now I’m at a point where I really have to spend some time working out who I am. It’s going to be a process.  I’ve got a lot of thinking to do and have no doubt it will appear in future posts. I’ve never been scared to write about what’s deeply personal and close to my heart!

I want to be true and authentic. And I want to be happy. At the moment, there’s too much empty and lost, to be properly and consistently happy. But I do know that happy is within reach. And I do know:

I can’t do this alone. Continue reading “WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP”