I am raising a couple of Lawyers!

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Yesterday the kids and I took a road trip to collect Phil from the airport. It’s only just over an hours drive for us, but the kids decided they needed candy for the “long trip”.

Gracie decided on a big bag of skittles and Jackson decided on a smaller container of tic tacs. But of course it doesn’t matter what you choose, the other person’s candy is always calling you, tempting you, making you wonder if you chose the right candy for the trip. Should I have gone for another option? What if theirs is nicer? What if theirs lasts longer?

“Do you want to swap some candy?”
“Sure, we can make a deal?”

And so the negotiations began….

Now when it came down to it, Gracie wanted one of Jackson’s, more than he wanted hers, so he had the upper hand (and he knew it, actually he even brought that up at one stage in the negotiations!). On the other hand, Gracie had copious amounts to negotiate with, and Jackson, not so much! She wanted a tic tac but was not completely happy to part with her precious candy! And so the banter began:

I’ll give you 2 for 1
No, 3 for 1
No way, that’s a rip-off! 2 for 1
Ok, 4 for 1
What! You can’t go up in price
Yes, I can!
No way, I don’t want one anyway (long pause) Ok, 3 for 1 and I choose the flavours or 2 for 1 and you can choose
But I want 3 and to choose
Nope, 2 and you can choose, and I can choose the colour of the tic tac
No way, I choose the tic tac you get

And so on…. And so on…. And so on!
This honestly felt like it went on for the whole trip!

On one hand, it was driving me nuts and on the hand I was kinda proud of the kids! Ok, so they were only negotiating over candy, but both of them knew what they wanted, and were prepared to work it through till there was an amicable agreement. Neither, just gave in, got angry or got aggressive! Lawyers in the making right here!

It got me thinking about how we raise our kids. I could have stepped in at any stage and stopped all the fuss, I mean really, all this negotiating over 2 bits of candy, seriously, are there not more important things in the world to negotiate over? I could have laid down the law and told them to just stick with the candy they chose or I would just eat all of it! But what would that have taught them? That Mum just comes in and fix things with her solutions (which I have learnt over the years aren’t always the best answer!) That they are not capable of coming to a solution themselves? That someone else will always fix things for them, or tell them what to do? No, this is something the kids had to sort out themselves. Sure, it’s only candy today, but who knows what it will be later on in life. And  I won’t always be there to “fix things” for them!

So in the end, Jackson got 3 skittles of his choice and Gracie got her choice of tic tac, so 2 happy kids, that came up with the solution all by themselves.

As for me, well, I had my own stash, and I wasn’t negotiating with anyone!

a choc

My Babies are Leaving Home!

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It goes like this….. One minute you are rocking them to sleep, comforting their boo boo’s and wiping their grubby little faces.  The next minute they are bigger than you, taller than you, smarter than you and are teaching you about the world and how it works!

How and when did this happen? I mean seriously, it only feels like yesterday they were babies, and now they are creating their own adventures in the world, leaving me in their dust to pick up my breaking heart and wonder what the future holds for me and Phil when they have flown the coop!

Ok, so they haven’t quite left home yet, but there has been plenty of talk about it lately. Both kids have grand illusions of getting their drivers license, buying their own cars and never been seen around him again. Of going flatting with their friends and of earning copious amounts of money and never having to struggle, budget or ask for pocket money again! And the freedom, oh the freedom that will come with leaving home, no more chores and no more parents to tell you to get off the x-box! I won’t burst their bubble with reality just yet, plenty of time for them to discover the cruelties of the real world themselves!

Somehow all this talk has seeped into my dreams and I dreamt the other night that both, yes BOTH kids moved to China and left the house without even a kiss on the cheek, in fact, they were literally running down the drive! (I don’t think they were going to run to China, but it was like they couldn’t leave the house quick enough!)

I have given us 5 years max! Yip, 5 years and our youngest baby will have left home, hopefully not to China, but she will be making her own way in the world. Her brother (according to him) will be long gone by then! For some reason, this reality hit me like a brick in the face this week and I have struggled with the thought of an empty nest! Sure, there will be perks: no more Mum’s taxi, freedom, less washing, tidy house (oh no wait, Phil will still be around, lets not get too carried away!) smaller grocery bill, getting to choose which music gets played in my car, not having to fight for the last cookie in the jar, yes, I can see there will be benefits. But let’s be honest, all those perks don’t compare to having them around!

One of the things I love about God is that He is gentle, loving, compassionate and He knows our hearts. He knows I am struggling with this and so is dealing with it now instead of the actual day they move out and I have chained myself to their ankle, being dragged along begging them to not leave me. Wailing at the top of my lungs that I have been a good mother and how can they do this to me! Nope, I don’t think that is the memory I want our kids to leave home with, although it would make for some fun stories to tell the grandkids. So I am putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it like any rational Mum would…… I have grounded them for the next 4 years! Just kidding (although I have thought about it!) I haven’t quite gone to that extreme, but I am making the most of the time I have left. I am being intentional about the way we spend time as a family and creating as many ‘life stories’ as we can, that will go with the kids when they leave and hopefully set them up well for whatever adventures God has in store for them. Yip, I want our kids to leave home well adjusted and well equipped for what the world will throw at them and the best way I can help them is to be the intentional Mum God has called me to be.

Ok, let’s be honest, there will still be some tears along the way! Thankfully, I have an understanding husband, copious amounts of tissues and a God who will give me the tools to cope when that fateful day finally arrives! But for now I will enjoy the chaos, the fighting, the hormones and the craziness of a house filled with teenagers!

Where have my babies gone-

Square Burger, Round Bun……AHHHH!

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It’s just wrong!

Square burgers were made for square buns and round burgers were made for round buns, right?
I mean, who in their rightful mind would put a square burger in a round bun? Well, Wendy’s would, that’s who! Now for that very reason I would never normally eat there, but this week was different. But first a tiny bit of history to clue you in……

I’m a little OCD and I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed to admit it! But I do love it when things are lined up perfectly, labelled and put away where they should be. I love it when the petrol pump finishes with a round number and I can’t stop running until I hit that full kilometer! The tv volume is always on an even number and so is the temperature in my car! I love things in straight rows, hence the reason why I got rid of all my circular Tupperware in my pantry and the reason I got rid of the striped duvet cover on my bed (I spent way too many hours making sure the stripes were straight and figured it was easier and less time consuming to just not have stripes!) The clothes in my wardrobe are all hung according to colour categories and all the lovely lined boxes that sit on my top shelf are labelled and neat as a pin! Yes, the world is a happier place when things are lined up, labelled and in the right order!

a burger squareSo back to square burgers in round buns. Again, it’s just wrong, but it’s amazing the things we will do for our kids. Jackson has been working so hard with his school work and I promised him if he got 6 100%’s in a row, I would take him out for lunch (without his sister!) He hit that goal at the end of last year but we just hadn’t found the time to make it happen. Seeing his sister is away this week (that is a whole other story in itself!) I said we would finally do it……… His pick! Wherever he wanted to go would be fine with me! Of course, I was secretly hoping he would choose one of my favourites, but I kept my mouth shut! Now, Wendy’s has just opened by us so of course he wanted to try this new place. I had seen the ads, and I knew they put square patties in round buns, but this wasn’t about me! This was Jacksons reward, this was all about him. And so as much as I was screaming in my head “NOOOOOO!” I said out loud “Sure thing Buddy, it’ll be nice!” But could I do it? Could I actually eat a square burger in a round bun, and live to tell the tale?

So I sucked it up and ordered 2 square burgers in round buns! It took everything in me when I got my burger to not trim the corners, but I didn’t! I ate every last little bit, yes, even the square corners! To be honest, I think Jackson found it quite amusing, the fact that his crazy old Mum would eat a square burger just for him! We had a great lunch (ok, not the food so much but the company and conversation definitely made up for it!)

I know for a fact I won’t be rushing back for another one anytime soon! Sorry, all you Wendy’s fans out there, I hope I haven’t offended any of you, but it’s just not my thing! I think from now on, I will stick with round burgers in round buns, and peace will be restored to the world, well my world anyway! I know I am the Burger Queen, but there are even limits to what this slightly OCD girl will put herself through!

a burger

Why not have a “Yes” Day?

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Keep yes.jpgDo you ever get tired of saying no?

  • Can we do…..NO
  • Can we go…..NO
  • Can we get….. NO
  • Can we have….. NO
  • Can we watch…… NO

I actually get tired of saying no! I think sometimes it falls out of my mouth before I have even thought about it. I guess as a parent it’s an automatic response. Now I’m not saying it’s the right response, but when things are busy, it just seems the easiest answer to give! But it definitely doesn’t fall into my “Great Parenting Moments” when I have said no what feels like a thousand times a day!

So, I have decided that we will have “YES” days! Now, I don’t tell the kids I am doing this otherwise we would end up at Disneyland and living with 100 puppies. But I resolve that on particular days my response will be yes!

It’s actually not as easy as it sounds when I have been programmed for so many years to automatically say no as my first response! It takes me to slow down and think about what I say instead of the first thing that falls out of my mouth.

Now my kids haven’t clued on to this (I might have to be more careful once they read this!) so I haven’t had to deal with any hugely outrageous requests. So far, it has been nothing that will scar them (or me) for life:

  • Watching a movie in the middle of the day.
  • Ice cream for lunch.
  • Finishing school work mid morning.
  • Friends over to stay the night.
  • Baking with me in the Kitchen.
  • Chocolate right before bed.

So as you can see it hasn’t been anything earth shattering, but I can honestly say it has changed the atmosphere at home on those days. I seem to be less grumpy, and the kids, well they are just happy….. all because I stopped myself from saying no and said a big fat yes to cake right before dinner!

Seriously, give it a go, what have you got to lose, or more to the point, what have you got to gain?


Way to go Jackson!

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jackson guitar.jpgHe did it!

After making his deal with God (if you missed that blog, you can read it here) Jackson has finally saved up enough money and is now the very proud owner of a Gibson SG!

It has taken him a little longer than he was hoping but apparently it is well worth the wait and the sacrifice. He is one happy Chappy!

I have to say, as his Dear old Mum, I couldn’t be prouder! He has worked hard, saved hard, and gone without to get this guitar.

He has made some hard calls, but as I sit here and try and concentrate, there is music blaring through the walls and I know it has all been worth it for him. The look on his face, when he walked out of the Rock Shop with his guitar in hand, was absolutely priceless and something I won’t forget for a long time!

Jackson has definitely taught me some great life lessons through his journey:

  • Sacrifice is always worth it.
  • To stand strong and go after the things in life that are important to you, no matter what other people say.
  • To not let small things get in the way of what you really want.
  • Being generous throughout the journey will always be rewarded.
  • When things get tough, have people to back you and remind you that the sacrifice is worth it.

So what’s next on the list for Jackson……. A car, of course! He still has a year before he can even drive, but I have no doubt this time next year I will be writing about Jackson and his new car…… watch this space!

I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to the point where my kids will cease to amaze me…….I certainly hope not!

Yip, We’re one of Those Families Cont….

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So at the end of 2011 it was time for us to choose a High School for Jackson. Now, back in the day you went to the closest school to your house, there were no comparing schools, choosing which had the best subjects, or the best sports teams, nope, it was the closest school full stop!

These days (I know, I know, I am sounding old!) life isn’t that simple. There are so many choices, it could almost do your head in!

So we had been back from our World Adventure for coming on 2 years. The kids had been happy at their little country school, but now Jackson was hitting High School and we had some decisions to make. To be honest, I had been stressing about High School since he was a little fella. There were a number of good options for him, but none of them sat right with us. Then in one split second of craziness I said to Phil “Why don’t we homeschool the kids for High School” No sooner had the words come out of my mouth, than I was thinking “What the heck, where did that thought come from?”

But the more we talked about it, and the more we prayed about it, this crazy idea that was for all those other Mum’s, was becoming a reality. We talked about it with Jackson, asked him to pray about it and let us know what he thought! A few days later he came back to us and said “Yip, let’s do this”

And so our Home Schooling journey was starting….. again!
We decided to leave Gracie at her current school until she hit High School and then let her decide if she wanted to be Home Schooled or go to High School (she also chose to be Home Schooled) Just because it was right for Jackson, we didn’t want to assume it would be right for Gracie. We have said to the kids if at any stage Home Schooling isn’t working for them, we are more than happy to put them in High School. We have nothing against High Schools, we just think Home Schooling fits our family better!

And so now we are into our second year of Home Schooling and to be honest I am loving it. I know some families Home School to protect their kids from the world, but I think for us it is the opposite. We have thrown our kids into the world head on, taking them to Uganda earlier this year and numerous other experiences they have had that they wouldn’t have had if they were at a school. The fact that we don’t have to work around school holidays makes life cheaper and less crowded and we have plans for lots more travel!


“Field-Trip” to the movies in the middle of the day!

Life at home is more relaxed (most days!) with no deadlines to be out the door by a certain time in the morning. There are no homework issues and no peer pressure from school mates!

In saying all of that, it is not perfect! Some days they drive me nuts (I’m sure the feeling is mutual!) my grocery budget has gone up with all the culinary delights they whip up for lunch and some days I wonder if they are missing out not being at the High School.


But I think at the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you and your family, and for us, in this season, this is right!

Yip, We’re one of Those Families!

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Benjamin Wu

Benjamin Wu

You know what I am talking about! We all know a family like that!

We talk about them, laugh at them and even mock them sometimes.  One of those families, yip, I confess…… we are a homeschooling family!

There, I said it!

Now most people conjure up images like the one to the left when they think of homeschooling, but we are nothing like that…….in fact I don’t even own a dress!

I’m not quite sure why homeschoolers get such a bad rap. It seems that if you want to be a homeschooler, you must wear clothes from the 70’s, have at least 8 kids and travel round in a people mover. (Sorry, my homeschooling friends out there!)

Well, I am here to lay that rumor to rest. We are a regular family (well kind of!), we don’t have 8 kids, I don’t wear clothes from the 70’s (although my kids would beg to differ) and we don’t drive around in a people mover, not that I have anything against people movers, they are very practical cars, but just not for me!

In 2009 when we took a year out and travelled the world, it obviously meant taking our kids out of school! Both kids had been in school since they turned 5 and I had no intentions of doing anything different. I wasn’t very disciplined so figured homeschooling wasn’t for us, I would leave it to all those other crazy Mums out there that were structured, organized and worked to a schedule! Those Mum’s that could turn a yoghurt pottle into a work of art, that could grow amazing gardens, live off the land, bake all day and all the while teach their kids algebra, science and how to be a law abiding citizen. Yip, I would leave it to those Mum’s!

So we left NZ  without a hitch, but when we got to the USA no one wanted to know us. The US Embassy said we couldn’t put them in school as we weren’t citizens and the  NZ Embassy said, well actually you are in the States, we don’t care what you do!

So it was sink or swim. It was either me teaching them or letting them free and the world teaching them! As much as I agree with “tough love” I thought sending out our then 9 and 11-year-olds, out into the big wide world by themselves, without equipping them the best we could, was not really an option for us, so it came down to me!

Oh my goodness, I was now responsible for my children’s education! There was no more blaming the Government, the schools, the teachers or even their friends, nope, this was now on my shoulders. What if I got this wrong? What if I screwed up and my kids couldn’t add 8+7 when they were 14? What if I taught them the sky was blue, and it wasn’t? What if, what if, what if? The pressure. The angst. The feeling of inadequacy. Ahhhhhhh!

But you know God is awesome, he calmed me down, told me to take a deep breath and said “You can do this. You don’t think I would give you these precious children and not equip you, do you?” Well, no of course not God, not when you put it like that!

So we did it! We had an incredible year. The kids (and actually I did too) learnt so much. Not just from books, but more importantly from life experiences. If you want an ice cream in the middle of Paris and you can’t speak the language you WILL work out a way to communicate! I believe book learning is important, please don’t get me wrong, I am all for it, but the things we learnt by “living” has taught us so much more, and those experiences are memories we will never forget.

When we came home in 2010 we decided to put the kids back in school but then in 2012 something changed……..

35 Days and Counting…..

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Well, my Poppet turns 13 next month!

PicMonkey Collage-Gracie3.jpgSeriously, where has the time gone? I know that’s what all old people say, but it seemed like only yesterday that she was a tiny tot bouncing on my knee, with the chubbiest wee arms, and the most kissable cheeks you have ever seen. She is now just as tall as me (ok, that was never going to be hard!) and loves to borrow my clothes, my shoes, my ear-rings, my bags, in fact nothing she can get her teenage hands on! Thankfully, I have a couple more years before I hear the words “Mum, can I please borrow your car!”

Hard to believe I am old enough to have teenagers in the house, but it’s a fact, and one I accept willingly.

To be honest, I LOVE teenagers, they are so much fun and the more the merrier. Every weekend we have “extra’s” and our house turns into a battle between guys and  girls, who can make the most noise, who can eat the most food and who can have the most fun! Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am the Mum, and not get too carried away joining in!

But I digress! Back to my baby turning 13……

It’s a biggie in our house, turning 13, ok, I admit it, I turn every occasion into a biggie but why not? Isn’t life worth celebrating? (Hmm, maybe there’s a blog in that!)

So the countdown is on! Speaking of things I love, countdowns are near the top of that list! I will countdown to anything: Christmas, birthdays, holidays, family visiting, gosh, I will even countdown to others people’s adventures! Yip, I gladly wear the crown of “Countdown Queen”

So Gracie and I are counting down to the big “Girls Weekend Away”. Every year we go away for a girlie weekend, but being 13 deserves a bit more than 2 days away so we are heading off to Melbourne to do some serious shopping! 5 whole days of just me and my girl, shopping, a musical, movies, shopping, eating out and no doubt more shopping!

To her credit, Gracie has been saving every single cent she gets for the last year. She has been dedicated and diligent in her savings, and sacrificed for this trip. When her other friends were at the movies or spending their money on lip gloss, Gracie would say to me “It’s ok Mum, I can wait till Melbourne” Both Phil and I have been super proud of her savings achievements and commitment, this from a girl who would normally spend her money before it even hits her pocket!


Gracie and I have started our countdown, and with each cross on the calendar, the excitement rises……


How did God do that?

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God did something this week that Phil and I have been trying to do for months. Now it’s no surprise that God can do something we can’t, but it would have saved us some frustration if we had just realized this earlier! If we’d left it in God’s hands instead of trying to do it our way!

Let me explain……

Our son Jackson is extremely talented when it comes to playing the guitar. When he was 6 he started playing the drums, but never really took to it, and asked if he could learn the guitar. My sister had an old one he could borrow so it wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg to get him started, so we thought why not?

Well, he took to it like a duck to water. We never once had to ask him to practice, and he would spend hours teaching himself songs off youtube. He started lessons with one of the young guys from Church and went from strength to strength. Now, I know as parents, we probably sound biased, but he is ridiculously talented and we wanted to share his talent with the world so suggested he join the kids’ band at Church.

Oh My Goodness! You have never seen such resistance in your life! There was no way he was going to join! Didn’t matter how much we encouraged, how much we coerced, how much we threatened (no more lessons if no one gets to enjoy your playing!) how much we tried our parental powers of persuasion, nothing was going to get this kid to play in front of people……. or so we thought!

After a couple of months, we gave up, defeated! Our teenager had won the battle and no one except us and the cows in the paddock were going to get to enjoy his musical talents!

gibsonSo being the guitar enthusiast that he is, he decided that he would like a new guitar. The one he has is ok (don’t worry, we did upgrade him from his Aunty’s old guitar) but he wants a Gibson SG (apparently in the guitar world this means something!) These cost in the thousands and even though he has a number of jobs, it’s still going to take a while to save for. But this is something Jackson REALLY wants!

Jackson decided that he would make a deal with God!

He said to God that when he gets the Gibson, he will join the kids’ band. To this, God replied “When you join the kids’ band, then you will get the Gibson!”

Wow! Doing deals with God at the age of 14, this kid has got guts! But I love God’s response and love the fact that he has a sense of humour!

So to cut a long story short, Jackson has joined the kids’ band (we had nothing to do with it this time, he did it all himself) and has even played in front of people (we weren’t privy to watching his first performance, in fact, we were told that if we were there he would leave the stage, so we respected that and hoping to watch next time!) He is getting over his crippling fear of playing in front of people and he actually admitted that he enjoyed it!

Something we tried for months to achieve was accomplished in a 2-minute conversation with God!


I love the way God works and I am looking forward to sharing the story of how and when Jackson gets his Gibson!