Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

What does New Year mean to you?

For me, New Year's has never really been about New Year's Eve. It's always been more about New Year's Day.

I love the fresh start that a New Year brings.

I love opening the pages of a brand new journal and writing my goals for the year on the first page.

I truly believe that we can make a fresh start any day of the year. Every day can be a new beginning if we want it to be.

But for me, there's something special about the first day of a new year. Something that makes me feel more than ready to make changes, to let go of the old, and to make space for the new.

New Year's Day makes me feel thankful to be alive and grateful for all the blessings in my life.

And it gives me the feeling that I really can achieve all that I want to.

So from me to you --- Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Reading

I'm sure you all understand that for a reader like me, once all the family oligations and festivities of Christmas are over, it's time to read!!!

I was fortunate enough to borrow some books from a dear friend and also my sister. I also received a book for Christmas.

So far, I have read...

I seem to have lost the ability to write book reviews, so you'll just have to trust me that I enjoyed all three of them and they were very different to each other.

Dragon Tattoo and House Rules are very well known, so you've probably heard enough about both of them or have even read them yourself.

Choosing to See you may not have heard of. It is an autobiography of Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, and focuses particularly on her struggles with depression and grief.

What have you been reading?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Is...

Do you celebrate Christmas? Christmas as in the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus? Christmas as in Santa and presents? Christmas as in family and friends and good will to all men? Christmas as in some time off work and parties and food and drink?

Christmas for me is a little bit of all of these things.

It's a time to be reminded that I am loved by God.

It's a time to give and receive presents.

It's a time to share with family and friends.

It's a time to enjoy some special foods and have a few drinks and relax and have a laugh.

This year we hosted Chris' side of the family on Christmas Day. I was a bit hesitant at first, having never hosted the in-laws for such an important family event! It turned out, however, to be a very nice day.

It was particularly heartwarming for me to see the generosity of family members in terms of how much food and drink they brought along to contribute to the dinner, and the joy everyone got from giving gifts to one another.

We had beautiful weather on Christmas Day which meant that we could spend a lot of time out of doors. Chris was in charge of the barbie, and we also enjoyed cold ham, prawns and salads.

All in all, we enjoyed a relaxing and happy day.

I hope that, whatever you celebrate, you also have had an enjoyable holiday season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I guess you are breathless with anticipation to know what I've been doing!

I'm sure that you'll want to get caught up on what I've been up to over the past few days.

On Saturday we had the kids' gymnastics party celebrating the end of the year. Sorry, no photos, but we did take video of the performances. Will try to upload it soon.

At church on Sunday morning we had the Sunday School Christmas celebration and presentation. Alana wasn't involved this year, being in high school now, but Josh helped read a poem...

...and the preschoolers did a very cute Nativity.

I remember when Josh was younger and was in the Nativity it used to make me cry, it was so beautiful!

Sunday afternoon we travelled to Sydney to my Mum and Dad's place for an early Christmas dinner with all "my side" of the family.

Josh with three of his cousins.

Alana with two more of the cousins.

Our traditional Christmas meal is cold ham and turkey with salads.

This year Mum roasted a "Turducken".

Today I took the kids to the beach (with one of Alana's friends from dancing). I should have been cleaning the house for the influx of relatives that I'm expecting on Saturday - we're hosting Chris' "side of the family" for Christmas day - but I guess I still have a couple of days...

How are you coping with the Christmas festivities? 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almost time to farewell 2010.

Today was the last day of the school year for the kids and I'm feeling a bit melancholy. For some reason, the beginning of the school holidays and the Christmas parties and carol singing feels like an ending.

The year is ending. And while that's nothing to be sad about, I'm somehow feeling the loss.

I have a lot to look forward to. Christmas presents. Christmas dinner (times two) with the family(s). A week in a caravan at the beach. Getting a job.

And when school starts back at the end of January, Josh will be starting at his new school; so that will be exciting.

Maybe I just have to go through a period of "letting go" and almost grieving the old year before I'm ready for the new one. Who knows?

I'm grateful to a good friend who has lent me The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Between my friend and my sister I have a nice pile of books to read over the summer break. Maybe I'll even get my act together and write a review one of these days!

How about you? What are you looking forward to over the Christmas season? What books have you got to read? How do you feel about the end of 2010?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I think somebody better stage an intervention.

I started playing CityVille on Facebook.

I know, I know, people warned me that it was addictive, but I didn't appreciate just how addictive it is. Even now, as I write this, my fingers are itching to open another tab so I can plant some crops or collect some rent or build some roads...

In other news, I've started using an iPhone app called MyFitnessPal. I'm using it to help me to be more aware of what I eat and my portions, and to record how much exercise I do and how much I weigh. I have input my goal weight and the app has calculated my net calories per day. Every time I eat or exercise I enter the details and the app calculates my net calories for me.

Also, Chris has been doing some major gardening/renovation/clean up around the house to get everything ready for hosting Christmas Day for the family. He's been working really hard. I guess there's nothing like a deadline to inspire, after all, we can't exactly postpone Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 2 of Christmas Gratitude

It's amazing how gratitude works!

Yesterday I made the conscious decision to banish the grumps by focusing on things that I'm thankful for. I wrote this post about the number one thing that I'm thankful for, my husband.

I got a great response in the comments and via facebook, but the most important thing is - I FEEL BETTER!

Just by choosing to focus on the positive I have changed my entire outlook. I can see the blessings so much more clearly.

Now on to my second day of Christmas Gratitude.

A close second to my husband in terms of things I'm thankful for are my two beautiful children Alana and Joshua.

Alana made "beautiful biscuits" in food tech at school.

Josh with his academic achievement award.

I'll be the first to tell you how attractive, clever and talented my children are, but that's not what I want to do here. Instead, I want to tell you one special thing about each of them that makes me love them.

Alana is the most honest, faithful, loyal, kind and trustworthy girl I know. She makes me want to be a better person! Her friends can trust her completely to keep secrets and always be supportive, and she doesn't like to hear a bad word about anyone. Alana not only knows what the right thing to do is, she does it. I can't quite believe that I'm fortunate enough to have such a special girl in my life.

Joshua is fun! He's the most playful boy I know. From the moment he wakes up until the time that he goes to bed, he wants to smile and laugh. He's the master of quirky humour, funny faces, and sometimes I think he should be on the stage! He always wants me to join in whether it be on the trampoline, playing "dead" when he "shoots" me, tickling him or playing cards or a board game. I'm a lucky mum to have him in my life.

Your turn now. What are you thankful for?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fa-la-la-la-la! How I met my husband.

In an attempt to kick the bah humbug out of me, I've changed my blog template to something more Christmassy.

I've also decided to do a series of posts about things that I'm thankful for. Because I know that I'm a very fortunate girl who has so many blessings.

Today my number one: my husband! I know that you don't want to be bored by me waxing lyrical about his good looks and handyman skills, so instead I'll tell you the story of how we met.

Many years ago, a school friend of mine was a member of a very popular youth group. It was well known for its social outings and as a great place to meet people. One day she came to school excited to tell us all about her boyfriend, Chris. A youth group outing to the ice skating rink was the scene of their budding romance. Of course being very excited for my friend (and a terrible busy-body) I invited myself along to church the next Sunday to meet him.

Did I know that I was meeting my future husband? Of course not!

I thought he was a pleasant enough fellow who was quite good looking but unfortunately was not much of a singer! (I sang next to him during the happy-clappy choruses.)

Fast forward a couple of years. My friend no longer attended that youth group but my brother did and I decide to give it a try. It was nearly Christmas, and the youth group planned some carolling around the streets followed by supper. I decided to tag along, and quickly found myself on the mini bus next to Chris. We chatted easily, and I discovered that in the years since I had seen him last he had gotten more good looking and even his singing had improved!

I knew exactly who he was, but he couldn't place me. "Did we meet at a bush dance?" he asked innocently.

* For the uninitiated, "bush dances" were quite popular youth group socials during the 1980's. Every Australian child suffers through PE classes learning "The Pride of Erin", "The Heel Toe Polka", "The Barn Dance" and other traditional partner dances. *

"A bush dance? No, actually I once visited the church escpecially to meet you," I replied.

And the rest is history...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Heart Instagram!

I have found a super-dee-dooper iPhone app that I looooooove. It's called Instagram and it's free!

If you have an iPhone you MUST zip to the app store immediately and download it!

Instagram is a photo-sharing platform. Take a photo, then apply one of the filters to give it that arty-farty look.

Here's a photo I just took in my back yard. See along the bottom of the screen there are a whole lot of sneakers? They're the different filters I can choose to apply to my photo.

I've chosen the one called "Lomo-fi" here:

See how it makes my photo look ever so much more "special"?

Then I click "share" and all my followers get to see my photo. Easy! There are options to share your photo to Twitter or Facebook too.

I can follow others so I get to see all their photos. It's like having an ever-changing photography exhibition in your pocket!

So get to it all you budding photographers out there - it's easy and oh-so-fun!