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.

 

Let me reintroduce myself

Let me reintroduce myself

There are moments in life that define us – maybe immediately, or perhaps they set off a transformation that rolls out over time. A journey.

The last few years have been the latter for me. Quite simply, I’m different to the me who was here two years ago. It’s fair to say I’ve been through the fire and I’ve come out differently. But the same. But different.

I’m still Abbie – I still like most of the same things, my heart hasn’t changed. But I now have a different view of the world … and how I want to live in the world. So I’m back, with plenty to say, and after a process of reinvention, I think I’ve found my voice again – the authentic voice that will speak truly from my heart, no bulls*it, always keeping it real.

The marketer in me wanted to come up with a few key words to sum up my priorities. To focus on those things that have a big impact in this stage of my life, and speak about who I am (or am striving to be).

This is what I came up with:

(See what I did there? LOVE alliteration!)

Over the next few weeks I will cover these aspects and hopefully from there, you’ll have a good idea of where I’ve been.

Yay, I’m blogging again! Well, blog, singular post, but Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂

Thanks for reading x

 

Beautiful Heart

Beautiful Heart

My daughter is without doubt, the biggest challenge of my life so far. I love her dearly – each and every part of her that makes her … well, … her. But boy oh boy is my intelligent, highly emotional, stroppy, strong-willed girl a challenge to every bit of patience that I have.

She was the dream baby, healthy from the outset, slept through the nights from eight weeks old, and met all her milestones, many ahead of time. Because it was just her and I from when she was only weeks old, she quickly became mummy’s best little friend.

She was so compliant … until she wasn’t.

I don’t know what changed, but about the time she turned four, my little lady found her will. Her VERY STRONG will. Four years later, we’re still trying to find that compliant heart I know is there. But I have to be honest, compliance isn’t the most important thing to me.

Love, respect, honesty, integrity, being a great friend, humility, reverence, generosity. These are important, in a child and in the amazing adult I know she will become.

This doesn’t win me a lot of fans. I’m probably the mum that you hear repeating herself over and over in the supermarket and just want to shake while you yell ‘woman your child is a brat’. I get that. But I don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore. Yes, I have learnt a LOT about tolerance too!

She does have a strong will, but I see an amazing will that can take her far. Stubborn yes, tenacious too. Quick to question yes, an open heart and mind to learn too. Emotional yes, a big heart too. Stroppy yes, hmmmm, not sure I can find an upside to that 😉

I know God has an amazing plan for her life and I don’t want to break her spirit. I know that if I focus only on behaviour of instant compliance, we’ll only be frustrated – I don’t want her to be a robot, she has so much more to offer than that. Besides I also know I’m never going to achieve that. Don’t get me wrong, she still has to respect authority and rules, we just have to go about things a slightly different way. I will let some things slide that you might not, but in the big picture, it’s small stuff on the Natalie scale.

So lately, seeing a few glimpses of the amazing heart I know is in there, makes me more joyful than the words I write can possibly convey.

Over the weekend I received an email from another parent thanking me for raising Natalie to be the good friend she is. HALLELUJAH! I’m not happy for the praise of my parenting (ok, truth, it feels good), I’m really happy that my gorgeous girl is being an amazing friend. Standing steadfastly on the side of her friend who is being bullied, instead of straying to the side of the bully who is relentlessly trying to break them apart.

My girl was bullied for a long time last year, that’s why she’s at the school she’s at now. We’ve spent many hours pondering friendships and talking about being a good friend. I’m so grateful that her bad experience has come to good in that she can help her friend now. Generally in her new school she’s chosen to surround herself with beautiful girls and when the going gets tough, she stands strong beside them. That’s the kind of friend I want her to be. I’m happy.

I’m also happy that yesterday she got angry at me. Because I wouldn’t stop the car and drive back around the intersection – for a third time. Hmmm, ok, I’ll back up. Yesterday there was a man cleaning car windows at the traffic lights. This isn’t a common occurrence where we live so my ever-inquisitive daughter needed to know why. When I saw his pack on the side of the road I explained there was a good chance the man didn’t have a job, maybe he didn’t even have a place to live, so he was trying to earn money. Well, she was ready to jump out of the car then and there and hand over my wallet! She made me drive around the block and back to hand him some money. I did turn around, I couldn’t quash that sort of thinking, but we didn’t catch a red light so I had to keep driving past a second time.

Boy oh boy did my little lady get stroppy and let me have it (verbally).

So we’re not all the way there. Well actually we’re not even part of the way there. But she’s showing that she’s hearing me, the love, the words, the lessons … they’re getting in. I know they’re going to pay off in the adult she becomes.

Isn’t that really what we all want as parents?

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

I’m not enough

I’m not enough

I can’t be all things to all people. I’m always letting someone down. I know that. On some level, I know that trying to be what everyone else wants/needs is a pursuit that will never end well. I also know that I probably place more of those pressures on myself than anyone else.

But don’t we all have days where, in our own heads, we just don’t measure up?

The days I run non stop after the kids so that by the time I get to sit down with my husband in the evening I don’t have anything left to give him. I’ve let him down. The fact that I’m not the uncomplicated daughter/sister my family would like, the woman who will accept anything they say or do. To them, I’m a Jesus freak. I let them down all the time because I’m ‘different’. The days my body lets me down and then I barely function outside of the bathroom or lying on my bed. Those days I let everyone down.

I’m learning something though.

Even though I might fail to my own standards, or even to someone else’s standards, I am enough. Continue reading “I’m not enough”

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

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

 

 

 

To my strong-willed, passionate, very loved, almost-8-year-old daughter

Dear Nat

You have had a rough time lately and I want to encourage you. I want to tell you that you are amazing. I want you to know that even though we do most definitely have our challenges, we are going to work it out. I want to tell you (again and forever) just how loved and special you are to me.

Baby girl in your short life you’ve dealt with a lot. I say that carefully, because I know a lot of other kids have dealt with a lot too. Some of their things bigger. But you know what, in your life, you have dealt with a lot of big loss and change among other things, and I don’t want to take away from that. Nor do I want those things to define who you become in a bad way.

Yes your dad left you, pretty much at birth. I know what it is to be abandoned by your father, not so young, but I understand. I know that it makes it hard for you to trust people, especially Richard. It’s like a part of you, even though you don’t want it, is waiting for him to reject you like your father did. And I know that’s why you are so hot and cold with him. But my darling, you can trust him. He is learning to be your dad as much as you are learning to be his daughter. Please know I chose very carefully, he IS a wonderful husband and father and when you are ready, you will see that. He loves you. He makes mistakes, we all do, but he loves you. He is also sent from God. Harris6 is a family that is meant to be together and nothing will separate us. But know that I understand how you feel, it took me many years to accept my step-father too and you know that I now look at Pop-Pop as my only dad. Hang in there and trust. Trust me, trust Richard but most of all trust God’s plan for our family.

You live your life with so much passion – your emotions are so clearly on the very outside, you feel EVERYTHING so intensely. Good and bad. You are also a VERY strong-willed young lady. More than me and more than your Gee. That’s big, because you know that my mum and I are very strong ladies! These are not bad things. They can be good things if you are willing to learn about them. They definitely challenge me as your mum because at the moment, you want to question and defy pretty much everything I say and ask of you. Some days I feel like I’ve spent the day fighting a battle with you and that’s hard. I have always taught you obedience. How many times do you hear me say ‘obey straight away’? But I’m learning. I’m learning that it’s not your nature. That you need to know the reasons why, that you need to know what’s coming up, that I need to roll with it a little more and the less I fight your fighting back, the more we can get done. I’m trying baby. Every single day I’m trying to be the best mum I can – you hear me pray every night for God to guide me as your parent to help you be the best you can be, and I mean that from the bottom of my big toe.

Even on the days where your yelling and screaming and crying pushes me to the edge of crying myself, I never stop loving you. I never will bubba. I will love you to the end of the world and back. Sometimes I think your behaviour is purely to test this. Especially when I tell you I love you and you say ‘but how can you when I’ve been so naughty’. You will always get the same answer from me. “I will always love you. I might not like your behaviour but I will always love you. Nothing you can do will push me away or make me stop loving you. Same as God”. You don’t need to fear rejection from me baby. I will never do that to you.

Your strong will and passion will see you go far in life. I believe you have leadership inside of you. When you were dedicated Pastor Jack saw and prayed amazing things over your life. NEVER forget that. Sometimes, in the moment, when your emotions are running on super drive, remember that God is always working on us, always teaching us. He didn’t plant these amazing things in you to not use you for greatness in some way. And I will be your biggest cheerleader all the way.

Your Gee was also one of your biggest cheerleaders. One of her biggest sadnesses when she got really sick was that she wasn’t going to see you grow up. Wasn’t going to see you finish school, university, have a family of your own. She loved you so much and I know you loved her too. You are so lucky to have had such a special bond with a grandparent. I know you miss her crazy much, I do too. And that’s okay. You never have to stop missing her. Just know that you always carry her in your heart and she’s watching you from heaven cheering you on in everything you choose to do. Pop Pop is still here and he loves you as much as Gee did. I know it’s hard when he lives in a different town but you still get to see him and we’ll make sure you still get your special weekends with him.

You see beautiful girl, you are loved. So very loved.

Keep living a big life my girl. I think you are learning about friendships now and understanding what it is that makes a good friend. I hope for you to be a good friend and to make good choices about the people in your life. Choose people who make you the best version of you – and do that for them too. Don’t change who you are because of what someone else says or does. Don’t try to be anything other than yourself: an amazing kind and caring person who throws their whole heart into life. You don’t have to be the best at anything. You have to live a happy life and be willing to work hard. Let God direct your path, remain teachable.

Every night before I go to bed I come into your room. I switch your lamp off and kiss your cheek. And in that moment Natty, anything bad we said or did that day has disappeared. My heart grows with a wave of love for you. Together, we can work through anything. I love you so much I can’t even explain. You’ll understand one day.

Be strong, be you.

Blessings

Mummy x

Your than you

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

Making Memories

While super-glue is one potential way to bond a family together, as parents, we firmly believe it’s our job to come up with ways to create a lasting bond between our brood. This is especially important in a blended family context.

As our family grows and they eventually leave home, we want the kids to want to come back home to visit. We want our children to be friends, we want their children to know each other. And of course we want to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren (when they come). I want to be cooking for a LOT of people at Christmas, birthdays and lots of days in between for decades ahead!!!

To just expect this to happen, I would suggest is naive. No, Richard and I are very intentional about spending time as a family now and building the foundations for a family who sticks together for the long haul. I’m talking about shared experiences that the six of us will remember for a lifetime. Fun family times, creating laughter and memories that we can lean on when the going gets tough.

We have the everyday things. We eat dinner together around the table every night – which ranges from some serious conversations to the absolutely ridiculous! We attend each others sporting events and prize-givings etc. We attend church as a family most weeks (although to be fair, the kids head off in the direction of their friends pretty much as soon as we arrive!). Sometimes we just pull the curtains and spend the afternoon watching movies and eating popcorn.

And here’s our new fun:

caravan

Yep, we are going to spend our summers camping and tramping. The camping in the caravan, instead of tenting, will give us so much more flexibility. We’ll be able to take impromptu trips when the weather looks good as this uber-organised mama will always have it packed ready to go. It’ll just be a case of grab a change of clothes and away we drive.

We’re all very excited about this phase of adventures and all the new beaches and bush areas we will be exploring together…

AbbiesBabble

 

Goodbye to my Gran

A young Nat having a chat with her Great-Gran
A young Nat having a chat with her Great-Gran

Last weekend I said goodbye to my Gran. I am surprised how hard her passing has hit me. She was 93 years old and had struggled with her health for a little while now. It was a relief in the end, and for the last week it was inevitable – there was no surprise here but when I got the news I sat and bawled for 20 minutes. Then (I can see looking back) I shut my emotions down completely until the funeral a week later. I couldn’t deal with her not being around. Couldn’t deal with one of the most stable and loving influences in my life no longer being here to chat to. On top of still grieving my mum, it was too much. So I ‘zombied’.

My Gran and I always got on really well. When I was seven we moved to the same town she lived in so there was heaps of time with her growing up. Gran lived in the same flat in my living memory until about five years ago. Nothing changed – not the furniture, the smells, the garden, the blankets on the back of her mustard-coloured Lazy-boy. It was pretty much always the same. And so was Gran. She was always there with a ready smile, excited to spend time with her grandchildren.

She would apologise if the baking wasn’t fresh – but even the ‘old’ baking was great, and there was always baking! If I was ever home sick from school and Mum had to work, I would be tucked up on Gran’s couch. She was always at our birthday parties, even as grown ups. Gran had a great collection of Disney comics which I loved to read and an eclectic old box of toys that even my daughter loved playing with. I enjoyed going to church with her and as I got older it really just became about spending time chatting to her. We would play cards a lot too. My first ride in an ambulance was with Gran when she collapsed at church one Sunday and there were plenty of opportunities to visit her in hospital. She said she was making the most of the taxes she paid over the years!

As a teenager, when I thought my parents were horrid (reality: I was full of hormones and mostly the horrid one) and didn’t think I could talk to them, Gran stood in the gap and was my safe place, my person to talk to. A lot of people talked to Gran, she was a great listener. I will always hear her voice when she said “you always need to step out of a situation, walk all the way around it, and look at it from every perspective”. This has been good in conflict, in demanding situations and in making decisions. My Gran was wise.

No matter where I’ve been in the world, we’ve always kept in touch. She hated technology – she barely had a push button phone, thought email was airmail, and when she did get a clothes dryer with her new flat, she used it to store the toilet paper! But she would spend hours chatting on the phone quite happily. It was her connection to the rest of the world. For me, going home to Hawke’s Bay also meant a visit to Gran. I remember taking a friend with me once when I was in my early 20’s. As we drove away she said ‘you are so lucky, you have a real proper gran, like a TV gran’. I pondered this for a bit but did need to ask for clarification. Apparently because my gran knitted and baked, was ‘cute’ in her rocking chair, went out of her way to make our favourite things for our visit (I loved her meringues), loved to hear all our (grandchildren) news and clearly adored us, this made her special. To me, this was just the Gran I grew up with. But I don’t disagree, she was totally special.

My mum and Gran had a VERY special bond. Gran always said my mum was the daughter she never had, as she had known my mum since she was a tween (not that they used that term in the 60’s!). My parents separated when I was six – so technically Gran was my mum’s ex-mother-in-law. But they remained extremely close right to the end of my mum’s life despite the fact that my biological father (Gran’s son) as good as dropped out of my life decades ago. Mum and I would often pop around and spend a Saturday afternoon chatting with Gran. Gran included photos of mum among her family pictures in her room. Some women can’t stand their mother/daughter in-law so to see these two love each other in these circumstances, just shows what amazing role models I grew up with – and why I miss them both so blimen much!!!

My granddad passed away 38 years ago, the year before I was born – Gran never stopped missing him. I know now that she is in heaven with him, and no longer troubled by physical ailments. And probably with proper teeth (I learned at her funeral that she lost all hers when she was 13!). So now, Gran is in the best place ever, and someday, far away, I will join her. In the meantime, as with my mum, I carry in my heart the amazing memories and lessons she has given me.

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

Me and my girl

This weekend Nat and I had an action packed weekend as we headed down to the city (Wellington for those of you who know NZ) to see a show. The show was The Sound of Music – I was super excited to introduce Nat to the story and the songs. I was about the same age as she is now when my Nan introduced me to the film, an enduring favourite.

Well, my little lady absolutely LOVED it. I’ve taken Nat to a range of live performances including ballet, ice shows, gala performance, outdoor concerts and heck, we’re blessed we can hear awesome live music every week at church, but this was her first musical theater. I have absolutely no doubt there will be more!

Once or twice a year I make a point of getting away with Nat for some one-on-one mother-daughter time. For the first five years of her life, it was the two of us against the world. We both enjoy these weekends, but since we blended with the boys, we actually really need them too. It’s been a big change.

We’re girly girls at heart and while we both love tramping and the outdoors, and do spend  ton of time with the boys’ at their sports, these times are where we do exactly what we want to do. We managed some crazy road trip singing, a bit of shopping, cafe outings and an enormous buffet breakfast, and treating ourselves to magazines and some down-time in our hotel room.

Nat’s major love language is quality time. I can manage this by devoting a decent chunk of time to her each evening as she goes to bed. Time to read, talk, pray, sing and just be the two of us. She craves that and boy do we hear about it if it doesn’t happen! I’m a quality time kind of girl too so I do understand.

These extended period of weekends, or days if we take them, really re-charge her – and what’s not to love about spending time with my mini-me?! Our relationship comes our stronger and I do hope these will be memories she’ll always treasure. I know I will.

It was bliss. For both of us.We’re already looking forward to the next trip … whenever, or where ever that will be.

What is your love language, or your child’s? Is your language compatible with your child’s? How do you manage that?

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

SPRING HAS SPRUNG (YAY!)

Yesterday was the first official day of spring. 1 September. Yippee!

Spring is definitely one of my favourite seasons. Lambs, daffodils and blossoms.

And hope. I always think Spring has a real sense of hope, more so than any other season.

What’s not to love?!

On Sunday we hit the great outdoors and went for a good walk – 10km, at least the first third of that straight uphill. It was amazing. I was super proud of Nat (7) and Sam (8) who carried it off like pro’s. Okay well I might have used a few lollies to bribe them up the really steep parts, but seriously, they did awesome! And the views were more than worth it.

Can’t wait for summer and a lot more days like this…

 

IT’S AN INNIE THING

IT’S AN INNIE THING

I have hit THE WALL. Not literally, no car crashes or broken fists or anything like that. But that metaphorical wall has come up and hit me in the face. Again.

Before writing this I was sitting in my wardrobe staring at my shoes. For quite a while. Pretty much not having the physical or mental energy or desire to move. Even the thought of watching TV … yuck, too much. I have suffered from depression in the past and it’s kind of like a (really) mini episode. Depression is a big word which I never take lightly. I’m not undermining anyone who suffers mental illness. But I can relate, those feelings won’t ever be forgotten. This is definitely a fleeting feeling of those days.

In this case though, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a small wardrobe, it’s a walk in with a window, and shoes, well I do love shoes. So it’s not as drastic as it sounds.

Except maybe it is. Continue reading “IT’S AN INNIE THING”

MISSING

So it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve sat at the computer and written a post. Oh how I have missed it. This little blog that started as ‘oh I’ll give it a go and see what happens’ has opened up my mind – I want to write daily, I NEED to write daily now. Continue reading “MISSING”