Because every family has the crazy Aunt who tries to get into the otherwise lovely family portrait!
A new routine for us this year. Walks with Murphy! The day started hot but an afternoon of walking beside the lake we get to enjoy the shelter of the palm trees and the cool breeze on our skin.
I am lucky enough to be God-mother to two wonderful children. A little girl around the corner and a fantastic teenage boy in the UK. They are both very different and both very dear to me. Today I am celebrating the birthday of my God-son Myles. This year he becomes a teenager. I really enjoyed seeing him when we stayed with his family in the UK in January. He has grown and changed since I last saw him but he is still essentially the same, funny person that I remember.
I'm sure my friend will think I am mad when she sees that her repetitive chore has become my photo of the day!
Today was a sad day. Is there ever a good time for a funeral? Not for a 30 year old. Not for his wife and kids left behind. Not for someone who only stood in our house last month looking healthy and happy. Cancer sucks. Would he have wanted to know that he had only eight precious days from going to his GP to his final breath? Would he have done anything differently?
In the words that were spoken about him there was description after description about what a "gatherer" he was. He was the one that would ring around and arrange bbq's, camping trips, get togethers. His ability to gather friends together was going to be missed. At the end of the service was a challenge. To think of life as a relay race. To see Mitch as having run his segment and holding out the baton to the next person. We were asked to go away determined to spend our time well. Spend it in the presence of family and friends. To be gatherers. To live the rest of our lives with as much passion and enthusiasm as Mitch had lived his.
This Christmas-time is the perfect time to live this message. To reach out to friends and family that we have not spoken to in a while. Ring your aging relative. Accept that offer to get together with friends. Invite some kids around to make a mess in the kitchen.
A big part of this weekend was spent making and eating! Hundreds of cookies were baked and then iced, ready to give away as gifts. I have my Christmas Girls Night Out tonight and everyone brings a $10 wrapped gift to do "Secret Santa" The best part is the swapping and stealing that goes on as we unwrap a gift according to the numbers we have pulled out of the hat! This year I found a lovely white china serving plate half price in a sale. It brought a previous budget breaker into the perfect price range. I've put some of this weekends cookies onto it, added some edible glitter and wrapped it in cellophane. Another layer of Christmas paper to hide the contents and I am ready to put it in the boot of the car. I can't wait to see who gets it. I will show you what I bring home tomorrow!
Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. I've noticed a drop in the number of cards we receive each year. Maybe people are more environmentally aware, maybe the cost of the postage is getting too much, maybe we all have less time to sit and write.
I like a physical card. Especially from my overseas friends. Many of our friends put a photo of their kids inside and it is exciting to see how much they have changed from the previous year. I know many friends are on Facebook now and maybe the idea of the annual keep-in-touch is less needed.
Our postage here in Australia has gone up significantly in the last two or three years. If I go into the Post Office with four cards I can no longer hand over a $10 note and get some change back, I'm left scrabbling for some extra coins to hand over. Even though we have started to be sensible and reduced the number of cards we post I still handed over $100 to our local Post Office last week to post this years overseas cards.
Every year I question "Is it worth it?" I hope so. I know I love the feeling of opening a card from a friend, seeing an envelope covered in little stickers from our Japanese students, or the shaky handwriting of an aging relative.
I 'm not ready to let this art die out just yet.
It was an overcast day, warm but not hot. We needed some fresh air and decided to bring Murphy to a local dog beach. It was so much fun to watch him run around without a lead, interacting with other dogs and bounding back to Rhiannon for reassurance every now and then. I swear he has a smile on his face in this photo!
In Ireland there is a beautiful shop called Avoca. When I was home last December my sister bought me some Avoca baubles to hang on my tree. They are rustic and simple. Twine and wool baubles.
I don't want to pull the labels off just yet! They remind me of the evening we bought them. If I close my eyes I can go back in time, hear the Irish accents around me and feel the crisp cold air on my cheeks.
For me Christmas is a time for nostalgia where every decoration has a story and the simplest of things can bring a lump to my throat.
“Where words fail, music speaks.”
Happy Birthday to our wonderful 12 year old. Here are 12 things we love about you...
1: Your face. You have your Dad's face and it melts my heart to see you grow more and more like him every year
2: Your smile. Just like your Dad you are almost always smiling. How can I be mad at you with a cheeky grin like yours?!
3: Your honesty. You cannot lie. It shows on your face like writing on a page. It is a good trait. Don't lose it.
4: Your appetite. You love every single meal I place before you. You give your dinners 11 and 12 out of 10 even if it is beans on toast! When the rest of the family push their food around the plate you critique it like a Masterchef finale! Sometimes number 3 (honesty) lets me see through the words but you always try to show gratitude!!!
5: Your whizz bang brain: You didn't get your brain cells from me, I'm grateful for that! If I could count the number of times you start a sentence with "Did you know...."
6: Your ability to share. If you ever have a bag of sweets or a bar of chocolate you are the first to offer to share it out in the family. Maybe you are hoping we will share back our treats with you but you never hesitate to offer even if you only have a small amount to share.
7: You are quick to apologise. Too quick sometimes. I remember one of your sisters being mean to you when you were smaller. Your face crumpled and I snapped "Say sorry" to her at which you immediately apologised to her instead. "Not you Gareth!" I was talking to your sister. We all burst out laughing. The tension diffused because of your willingness to be kind.
8: Your affection. You were always a very cuddly child. As you get older the public hugs and hand holding are getting much less frequent. That's ok. It's how it should be. But in the comfort of our home you still give great hugs and I cherish them!
9: Your wit. Oh boy do you have some quick smart answers for me! If there is a funny answer to a question I've asked it comes out of your mouth quicker than my brain can register! How many times have I stood there with mouth open lost for words? Don't lose it!
10: Your laughter. As I stand there, mouth open trying to think of a witty response and failing miserably you break into the most amazing laughter. It starts deep in your belly and explodes out of you. You have distracted me out of many a lecture because your laughter is so infectious I lose my train of thought.
11: Your memory. You have the memory of an elephant. The small details you can recall from events ridiculously far away astounds me. Again the brain of your father. Be grateful you got his. Be very grateful!
12: You. Plain and simple. You! For the love you bring to our family. You are the third child I wanted so badly. You make our family complete.
Happy Birthday to our favourite son!
(ok, you're our only son but who's counting?!)
I have always been a worrier. When I was younger I worried so much about school. I worried before exams, I worried during exams and I worried waiting for the results to come out.
My Dad used to tell me not to worry so much. I remember once as I stressed waiting for results of a maths exam he asked whether the worry I was feeling at that very moment could in any way change my result in that exam?
No. The answers were written and handed in. The teacher who marked it would simply go through my answers and add them up to give me my result. That result was now fixed and nothing I felt or did would have any impact on it at all.
It was a lightbulb moment. It never occurred to me how futile my worry was.
As I have grown into adulthood I still worry. When the anxieties build and grow and make my stomach sick and my head ache I try to stop and remember that conversation with Dad. I try to let the worry go. Much easier said than done, isn't it?
And now I have teenagers of my own. I see them worry and I know it wont help change their outcomes either. I am trying to pass on my Dad's advice. Recently someone posted a quote on-line from the Dalai Lama. It has stayed in my head, a variation on my Dad's words. I've needed those words a lot recently.
And so this morning I lay down on the grass in my garden and took a photo of the beautiful sky above me. I decided to put those wise words on it so I can print it and keep it where I will see it often. A reminder to take deep breaths and let the worry go.
Life is changing. Situations are unfolding. Some will bring tears, some will bring happiness. My worry is not going to change the outcome of any of them. I have to breath deep and live each day at a time and focus on the good that it holds. Today it is blue skies and unfurling Agapanthus flowers.
One day at a time...
Except maybe sweet smelling kisses before he runs outside to roll in the garden!
Watch this space...!
This is a Mandala that she designed herself and painted. It is a quarter image that is turned and redrawn, turned and redrawn until a full circle is achieved. She got 100% in this project and was so glad to get to bring it home where she plans on hanging it in her room.