Thursday, December 31, 2009

20 Years of Marriage - 'Truly' Another Reason to Celebrate!

December 2009 has been the most wonderful month for celebrations at eight acres of eden. Birthdays for twins, a boy turning 10, the arrival of our seventh child in the days before Christmas, the Birth of Christ and now a Wedding Anniversary. As the year draws to a close and I am on my 'babymoon', 20 years ago I was about to go on my honeymoon! To marry during the Christmas Season was a dream of mine and it came true for me when I married the love of my life, Brett, the New Zealander who had traveled to London in England for a working holiday, not realizing that he would bring home a wife who would one day bear him 7 children!

We married at the Baptist Church in North London where we first met 18 months earlier, at a Thursday evening Bible study. I had returned to London to take up my first occupational therapy position at the hospital where I had completed most of my clinical practice. I had chosen this hospital because a year prior, I had met some wonderful young people from this very Baptist church at a 'Operation Mobilization' conference.

I did not realize that God was sending me here to meet my future husband and may I add, a man of integrity who loves his family and shares with me, the same vision for multigenerational faithfulness (I have already written a tribute post entitled 'My Father's Hands' to him this year, which you can read at my archives) Just four months after our wedding day, I would leave the city life behind and move to a much greener land down under! See that gray sky, I never knew what blue sky was until I moved to New Zealand!

Brett and I were introduced at that Bible study -love at first sight? Maybe - I saw him turn to the guy sitting next to him and whisper 'Who is that?' Brett had been in London for almost a year attending the Baptist church that I had attended during my clinical placement - my friends were his friends too! Of course, all those friends attended our wedding which took place on a very chilly December day, just six months after he proposed to me during a trip to Scotland.

As it was a Christmas wedding it was so exciting for me to add seasonal details. The bridesmaids wore burgundy satin gowns, I designed the headdresses and bouquets and took the drawings to a florist. I carried a bouquet of winter white roses, holly and ivy! I wore a designer wedding gown - the only time I have ever paid full price for designer! I still have my dress which, yes, I can still fit into and I hope that, at least one of my daughters will wear it one day for their wedding! We were able to afford this extravagance with the budget we had been allocated by my dear, generous father (who now lives in Heaven) because we were careful with how we spent money on other wedding day expenses such as the reception venue, catering and flowers.

God provided wonderfully, an exquisite cake was a gift from my auntie Joan, a most talented cake decorator. Our best man hired us a Rolls Royce as a wedding car and Brett's cousin who worked in the tourist sector, booked us a 17Th century cottage in the country, for our honeymoon!

The most romantic moment of my life was when a guy from our church with a soulful, Heaven sent voice, who could sing like Lionel Ritchie sang 'Truly' at the close of our vows. I felt so honoured; he had sung to his own wife as she walked down the aisle 'You're Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady'! A few years later in the early 1990s, I heard that he had captured the hearts of the English public on a TV talent show called 'Opportunity Knocks' making it to the finals. My mum was so excited - this guy had been my wedding singer! I wish I knew where he was today.

And so, last evening we celebrated as a family. I added a few romantic touches to the table and begged my daughter to make chocolate eclairs for dessert!

After, she produced this dessert the evening before, her first ever attempt at making choux pastry. It was melt in the mouth perfection! I will show you the book next year which is inspiring such delectable culinary creations. She is now ready to take on that profiterole tower as seen on 'Masterchef Australia'!

Next year is tomorrow! A new day, a fresh start, another year to walk with God, to seek His face and see His promises fulfilled. He has been so good to me this year. One of the answers to my prayers was friends - I was in need of friends, especially as I am a mum who stays close to home. Those friends came as a result of starting this blog in March 2009 and I am so glad I did! I have met some wonderful people in both this country and the USA through blogging and I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you who leave the kindest of comments, who offer me encouragement and allow me glimpses into your everyday life. You all cherish family as I do and that speaks to me of hope - hope for our churches, our communities and our nations! Keep holding on, keep loving those husbands and raising those precious children - they are our future! God is with you on this journey and the best is yet to come!

Happy New Year!

With Love and Joy,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby's First Christmas 2009

One week ago, on Christmas Eve I brought home a very special gift to my family - a beautiful baby boy. As I write this post he is sleeping peacefully - I could watch him all day! He will be waking up soon, as dinnertime approaches and he is always awake at mealtimes - he is a very sociable, alert baby who is always looking around, listening, so interested in everything that is going on in this busy family home!

I might add that 'no crying he makes' but this is not true - he cried after experiencing his first bath. He does not cry that much at all but he is very communicative! He gurgles in response when you talk to him and lets you know he is ready for a feed - he was born an expert and I can already see him putting on weight, he is thriving on nature's gift of mother's milk and the oxytocin is helping his mum relax, it also makes me very sleepy in the evening!

I wanted his first bath to be at home, not have to join the queue for the baby baths in the maternity unit which was very busy. So I just 'topped and tailed' him in my own room - what a blessing that was, I had my own room - they are hard to come by, you either have to be having twins or be a private patient to be allocated a single room at the hospital but one was available and I was very grateful. My room also looked out onto a courtyard with trees that happened to be in full blossom, I opened the blinds each morning to look out on to this lovely sight - it was these little reminders that God was with me, even in the hospital, watching over me and my baby. I was so happy to come home though and returning on Christmas Eve to be 'home for Christmas' felt very special. I realize I entitled my first Christmas post for this year 'I'll be home for Christmas', that is almost as prophetic as the 'Delivery before Christmas ' headline I unwittingly used in a previous post!

The round vanity basins in our family bathroom are perfect for bathing a small baby - the taps swivel away too. Who needs to fetch water to fill a plastic bath when you can use what you already have. Last evening he also enjoyed a relaxing bath with his mum in our deep, claw foot bath. He did not cry on this occasion!

And so Christmas day arrived. Here are some of the family moments from our very special Christmas 2009.

In the morning after opening presents, my husband and I had to head back to the hospital for a third blood test for our baby to check his bilirubin levels due to a positive Combs test and blood incompatibility issues. The paediatrician had called us on Christmas Eve to ask to come in the next day for which he offered a thousand apologies - he was one of the nicest doctors I have ever met and as our baby boy was a lovely, healthy shade of pink I was confident that jaundice would not be an issue. (The doctor later rang us with the good news - the levels had dropped and jaundice would be unlikely to develop!) I left the food preparations for Christmas lunch in the capable hands of my teenage daughter. We arrived home before lunchtime and I relished the opportunity to set my Christmas table!

Here is a glimpse! This is my place setting. This year I used a silvery gray tablecloth rather than white - a much more sensible choice when you have young children. It worked so well with my colour scheme for this year and was very suited to a Christmas celebration on a hot, humid day.

This is my Christmas table centre piece. The silvery glass dove is held in place on the hurricane lamp with a dab of blu-tac. It was a last minute inspiration to add this finishing touch!

This is the food we enjoyed for dinner. The lamb had been marinated overnight in a mango sauce, honey, olive oil and fresh mint were added together with chopped raw macadamias for a crunchy, delicious coating. I added diced mango and red onions to this mix the next day to make a fresh mango salsa. The lamb was cooked slowly and watched over by my daughter on Christmas morning. As a result it was beautifully tender and accompanied by roasted potatoes and kumara (sweet potato) which co ordinated well with the orange of the mango salsa! I also made a big salad - the zucchini and cherry tomatoes were picked fresh from the garden.

My daughter also made a chocolate, mocha pudding to go with the ice cream Christmas cake made the evening before, embellished with chocolate sticks in a lattice work pattern and fresh strawberries - which did not last long enough for me to take a photograph, as by this time, our new son was also requesting his Christmas meal!

The chief and assistant cooks - my chief cook has just produced the most amazing profiterole dessert using a recipe from her new cook book, a Christmas present deliberately chosen for its sumptuous looking desserts! It is going to be dessert for this evening and I am going to take a picture to show you in a future post. The assistant cook made the gingerbread this year, enjoyed on Christmas Eve. Notice how the girls dresses match their crackers - this was not intentional!

The twins were very excited about this Christmas and have fallen in love with their new brother. They received dolls but have played more with their $2 jigsaw puzzles from Big W! They are the 'puzzle twins' and I thought 100 pieces would challenge them - wrong! They also like the Bindi Irwin doll which big brother bought for one of them - Bindi talks and I swear, if I hear 'Crocs rule' or 'Extinct stinks' one more time today - I will scream - no, that is not really true, the oxytocin is chilling me out! It takes a lot to upset this mummy at the moment!

I now have three handsome boys just to even things out. This 'boy' will be 18 next year. He was my first born and the resemblance between him and his new baby brother I cannot ignore.They were identical weights at 6lbs 12oz!

Another of my December babies. This is my fourth born and he celebrated his tenth birthday on 16Th December, just six days before his new brother arrived. He will be eventually sharing a room with his new brother and is making the most of being able to construct Lego models in there before his mother bans all the small stuff from the floor - marbles will be confiscated - he understands this now!

I could not resist showing you this photo - this is me, one week after having a baby. I'm sorry this is true, I can wear jeans again! I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I will be taking my baby with me everywhere I go, to prove I actually had a baby! This is just what happens to me!
But I will not be leaving home that often, my van is off the road and I'm confined to barracks but there is no place I would rather be - than at home enjoying these first precious weeks with my beautiful baby boy!

With Love and Joy and Tonnes of Oxytocin!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Gift A Baby Boy!

Today it is Christmas Eve and my prayers have been answered. I am home for Christmas with my very special gift, my baby boy, born on Tuesday evening at 7pm, weighing in at 6lbs 120z following a labour of just one and a half hours!

I am just experiencing the joy and delight of this precious child given to my family by God who knows how much I love the Christmas Season that He chooses to bless me with a darling baby boy who arrives in time for Christmas and works all things together for good to bring me home to my husband and children to celebrate a very special, family Christmas together as we remember the birth of another baby boy who brought hope, joy, peace and salvation - the very presence of God on earth. Jesus, Emmanuel, God is with us.

And in the past few days I have felt the very presence of God my Father who answered all our prayers - so thank you dear friends who prayed for my baby to grow and be healthy - he was and the perfect size for me. I do admire those of you who push out big babies - I do not know how you do it!

When I wrote my last post I was in labour - truly! But not established labour. The signs had been good the previous evening but things did not really get going until later that day. I headed into hospital at 3pm and I was even considering coming home but because my waters were trickling out slowly the midwife on duty encouraged me to go for a walk around. At 5pm we returned and at this stage I was still able to talk through contractions. I think I was saying ' No, that was fine, not too bad' or something like that, in the picture below, that my husband took, saying 'Here's a good one for your blog!'. He did not think I would be game enough to post it on my blog but I am!

By 5.30pm, labour in the true sense of the word, established and I progressed from pain free to painful! I had a wonderful midwife on duty who had read my birth plan and adhered to it from start to finish! I birthed without any intervention, apart from the cannula inserted into a vein on my hand - only a precautionary measure for treatment should my previous c-section scar be affected by the contractions - it was not needed! No pain relief was offered apart from a warm towel across my back. When the midwife kept reassuring me that the baby was very close, I did not quite believe it but she was experienced and knew that my baby was only minutes way - the only checks she did was to use the Doppler and each time the strong heartbeat was heard, I was given a little more reassurance - all was going well!

After just a few pushes he came out with his eyes open blinking and looking around the room as if to say 'Where on earth am I?' The midwife then waited for my placenta to come of its own accord - not until the cord had stopped pulsating - another wish on my birth plan granted!

It was really a wonderful experience of natural birth in hospital following a previous c- section - yes, it is possible! And this I know is true - 'All things are possible with God'. I have also come home after a two night enforced stay in hospital with a few hiccups along the way - possibility of jaundice and blood group incompatibility issues which never eventuated - praise God! This is why you did not hear from me sooner!

I am home now and ready for Christmas - just a few gifts to wrap tonight as I sit up late watching Carols by Candlelight feeding this dear boy, the lights on the tree twinkling - oh what a present- I could not have asked for anything better! Over the next few days I will email my dear friends to let you know the name (as I have time or if you are on Facebook find me there and add me as a friend, I'm posting there too - send me a quick email if you do not know my surname!) BTW we chose the unconventional name, I am so glad I chose it - it means 'God is Good!' I can testify this is true!

May I wish all those who read and follow my blog a very blessed, beautiful Christmas in sunshine or snow. May you enjoy your time with family and friends as you also gather to celebrate the birth of a baby boy - for my family this year it is cause for double celebration!

With Love and Joy and a Baby Boy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Countdown to a Christmas Baby!

There are four more days to go to Christmas and during Advent, each morning my younger children have delighted in taking turns to place one of these handmade cones constructed from recycled Christmas cards on our patchwork Christmas tree Advent calendar. (I did not make it - bought it in a garage sale for $2!) Of course there is a little wrapped gift tucked inside - some jelly babies and chocolate coins and on certain days, extra little surprises such as colourful erasers, pens and hair ties.

The Advent Cone Calendar under construction. The 21st is not going to be the baby's birthday!

As the Advent tree has filled with cones, I have wondered on which day my baby would arrive. I can report, it may well be on one of these days - the signs are good! There were several things I wanted to achieve before my baby arrived and I'm almost there! I wanted to have at least one Christmas baking session and try out a recipe from the December issue of NZ House and Garden magazine for white chocolate Christmas truffles. They were delicious and there are only two left in the fridge! I also made my coconut flavoured biscotti - recipe to follow!

Yesterday, I also crafted. Last week I had painted two terracotta pots silver and coated them in shimmery, silver glitter in preparation for making a silver themed candle holder. The glue gun was given yet another workout as I ripped apart faux, glittery poinsettias for their silver leaves and rearranged them, adding in some silk roses and ivy. If I have time today I will make the second one! They will most likely sit on top of this cupboard - the wooden letters were painted and glittered last week. This fine glitter stuff gets everywhere and adheres to everything, even to me! I sparkled for several hours!

My craft cupboard did not really need reorganizing but even I was surprised at what a pregnant woman furiously nesting could achieve with some simple rearranging! I now have my children 's art supplies to hand - they used to sit on a top shelf in the office and I was tired of hauling in chairs to stand on, in order to reach them, especially when pregnant!

Notice only one roll of gold paper left. I sat up on Saturday evening, watching 'Carols in the Domain' on television, wrapping presents as I was given a preview of my baby's musical tastes. I can report the baby slept through the Wiggles but began moving fervently when Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins began to sing and settled down again until Mark Vincent's rendition of 'You Raise Me Up' brought on leaps - of joy, I presume. My teenage son said it was a violent reaction! I don't believe that - I am going to put on my Josh Groban CD today to satisfy those classical yearnings!

I did sit down and put my feet up and enjoy some Christmas reading as I taste tested one of the truffles. I also managed to put up a post on my favourite Christmas books and magazines at my Christmas blog. Do pop over and enjoy some of the beautiful images from books that inspire me.

I was hoping the baby would allow me one more episode of 'Man versus Wild'. I quipped to my husband that some of the scenes were just too much and it could have been 'Woman bears Child' whilst watching 'Man versus Wild'! From the comfort of our sofa, we tucked into our pre-Christmas truffle and biscotti treats, enjoyed with a cup of our favorite coffee, viewing one drenched, ex-special forces soldier and survival expert, Bear Grylls, leap over waterfalls, ascend to the canopy of the rainforest by means of vines and tuck into termites (they are packed with protein apparently - no, I'm not going to be raiding the termite nests here to gather snacks for labour!) BTW, if you haven't found a present for the man in your life, the 'Man versus Wild' DVDs would make a great gift. I went to my local Dymocks bookstore which stocks SBS DVDs to buy one for the boys in our family but they had sold out.

I chose not to save the truffles and biscotti for Christmas Day for several reasons. No matter how hard I try to hide baked goodies, the teenage son and husband sniff them out from several kms away. They don't even need to be baking in the oven! They would never last until Friday and as I might not be here and could possibly miss out on the fruits of my culinary labour - they were consumed last night and the last of the biscotti disappeared at morning tea time.

I will put up the biscotti recipe a little later - need to go and walk around for a very good reason. Yes, it is highly likely that I am in the early stages of labour and have been all morning, even as I typed this post!

I told you I would keep you posted! Hope you are enjoying your Christmas week preparations. It is good to know I do not have to head for the malls and all the madness- they say 46% of people leave their Christmas shopping until the last week! If you are one of them I wish you well, you are very brave and as for me, I'm just heading to the labour ward, exactly when, I do not know! Maybe my next post will be a birth announcement or a recipe for biscotti! Check back soon!

With Love and Joy,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'I Just Haven't Met You Yet! '

This wonderful, catchy, uplifting song by Michael Buble is my song of the moment! It is receiving lots of airplay on the radio and I love to sing along and I have been singing it to my baby - who I am still waiting to meet! Yes, I am still here enjoying days of nesting and excited anticipation, as I clean and organize and sing along to Michael Buble songs.

The scan was on Wednesday and showed - yes, a small baby, measuring 37 weeks with an estimated weight at term of around 6 lbs 7oz which is about the average weight of most of my babies - the technician was puzzled by the first 19 week scan measurements (picture above is from that scan) which she had to compare these results with, which had put me 2 weeks ahead but I knew this was not right and the obstetrician listened to me and agreed to work off my dates of around the 20Th December which is tomorrow! I have not been summoned by the hospital and I'm still feeling well, the baby is still reminding me of its presence by moving and reacting to sudden noises such as mobile phones ringing in stores and even the squelch of that blue 'belly jelly' at the scan! Amazing! Yes, my baby can hear and I will not be waiting for the 'bell ringer' lady to come along to do hearing tests on my newborn if I am ready to go home after the birth! If I do have to stay in and she arrives, I might ask her to play 'Jingle Bells' instead!

Flowing waters bring forth LIFE!

Last evening I had my first set of painful Braxton Hicks contractions - whoa, they were good ones. I was also watching the British disaster movie 'Flood' which was really quite pathetic, so I turned it off and went to bed but later I though how appropriate it would have been if my waters had broken but they did not! I also went to the stores today and I even went into a bookshop and my waters did not break. This only happens in the movies? Wrong, it happened to me in a bookshop in the twins' pregnancy but at least it was more of a gentle, running brook than a gushing stream! And I kept calm and smiled at the assistant and paid for my books and I am thinking 'I cannot believe this - I am buying books, my waters are starting to break and I AM CALM!'

Saturday is my grocery shopping day and I was hoping that I would have this done before the baby arrived. It is! The leg of lamb is in the fridge and mangoes were 99 cents each at Aldi which is awesome as I hope to make a mango salsa to accompany our roast lamb and salads on Christmas day. Of course, I could be in hospital on Christmas day and forget labour pains, what I am not looking forward to is a hospital Christmas dinner after my previous experience of the food at our local 'health campus' - they don't like to call themselves a hospital these days! I endured a 3 day stay after the birth of my twins and it put me off rice cakes for life! (go and read my post 'Healthy Hospital Food' from earlier this year and find out what awaits me if I do have to stay!) I have let my family know - they have to deliver me my lamb with mango salsa and sweet potato salad, also bring a white tray cloth, one of my table arrangements, a candle which I will not be able to light due to fire regulations I know, and my handmade cracker! One of the white ones please!

My bags are packed, the baby's bag is packed. Every closet is organized. My family in the UK have received the gifts I sent. Today I bought the last of my presents for my children. My daughter has been talking of having frangipani trees outside the 'caravan of chic' - her bedroom. Before we headed off I suggested to my husband that we buy her the frangipani but I did not want to trek around nurseries today. I wanted to do just a few more garage sales - could not resist (not that I need any more things for the baby!) We walk into the first garage sale and what is there, sitting on the garden path but frangipani plants in pots! Established ones at that - we bought four for the price of one small one at Bunnings!

The pink top on the right is the one I was wearing in my 'baby bump' photo. Yes, it is designer - was $5, from a garage sale of course. The gorgeous embroidered dress coat was purchased in Pakistan and sold in a garage sale to me for $15! I wear it over 'Country Road' pants which have a sparkled thread running through the fabric - purchased at my favourite recycled and vintage clothing store! I'm looking forward to wearing them again!

I love garage sales - last week I went to a garage sale and bought a maternity bra! - a brand new, designer one at that! - the people at this house own an online, designer maternity clothing business and once in a while, clear stock by having garage sales with 50% off some of the prices. I had actually prayed on that morning, for them to have another garage sale before my baby came and they did. It has just occurred to me that when I go out with my baby, wrapped in a brand new designer wrap ($10 not $60 - it is gorgeous, will show you later, it's a giveaway as to gender!) or tucked into the Baby Bjorn front pack ($5 not $180) or in the $80 sling (as new) I paid 50 cents for - yes you read it right, cents not dollars! I will be wearing my new, favourite long skirt - it is designer, hardly worn, cost $250 - I paid $10 and get this, it is size 8 and I'm wearing it now- it sits over the baby bump. It is the same colour as the 'stretch' cotton canvas skirt with embroidered roses I am wearing in the baby bump photo - another garage sale find - cost just $1! Told you my other name was Olive Oyl!

So that is my update and maybe my next post will be a birth announcement. Thank you so much for all your prayers and comments. I so appreciate them. It's time to go and do some more cleaning and guess what song I will be singing! I must buy that album - kids are you reading this, if you want to buy mum another present - you were thinking of buying me Stan Walker's album, I would really like M.B - hint, hint!

And finally, to my precious baby - I am so looking forward to meeting you, you are indeed my gift from Heaven, baby seven - I just haven't met you yet but I cannot wait!

With Love and Joy,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grow Baby Grow! A Prayer Request

I am still here and waiting for my baby to arrive - just 5 days to go to the date (20th Dec) which is marked on my file as the EDD (revised). I'm having a small baby - I have always known that - I have small babies but last week at my antenatal visit the doctor expressed some concern that the baby is possibly too small and has booked me in for a scan tomorrow - I had to wait a week for an appointment, such is the pressure on health services in NSW. I am officially 'small for dates' and I know what that means - I have been through this before when my second child was determined to be SFD because I had lost a kilo in weight midway through my pregnancy and was several cms behind with the tape measure on the tummy. I was sent off to see the obstetrician and subjected to several scans and the term moderate IUGR (intra uterine growth retardation) was marked across my file.

During that pregnancy, just like this one, I had perfect blood pressure and an active baby. I was allowed to go overdue and in the last 10 days my little daughter grew some more and became a ASB (an anatomically small baby) which is what she was all along - just a small baby. Following a 6 hour natural labour I gave birth to my little girl who weighed in at 6lbs - she was in perfect health.

My next baby was my heavy weight at 7lbs 12oz - my biggest baby! My boys had weighed in at 6lbs 120z and 6lbs 6oz respectively. My twin girls were born at 38 weeks - 5lbs and 5lbs 30z, small but like all my others perfectly healthy. I had been warned that twins were more prone to infection, likely to be sickly and suffer from possible developmental issues such as speech delay. My tiny girls have been my healthiest children - they have never been to the doctor for reasons of illness. And as for the speech delay - I am often to be heard saying to them 'You talk too much' and 'You know too many words! They are now eagerly anticipating the arrival of their new sibling and pray every day for the 'baby to come out'!

As you can see from this photo below, I am very much a slim girl and always have been. I hated the word 'skinny'. I have become used to the comments over the years such as 'Look at those arms - there is not an ounce of fat on you.' ' Have some more cake Ann - we need to fatten you up.' I'm more than happy to have a second slice of cake but it does not make much difference. I do not put on weight except during pregnancy and that is the only time when I go over 50 kilos! All the weight I put on is the baby and its support system - no extra fat and when the baby is born, the weight drops off - within days!

I'm not sharing this to make you envious, just to let you know this is me and although there are many benefits - I enjoy good health, low blood pressure, have good energy levels and can wear my teenage daughter's clothes, buy age 14 clothes from the girls clothing range at Target and wear size 6 jeans- there are some drawbacks, such as what I am going through now. I always measure behind and so do my children - I stopped weighing my babies after my third - my babies were always at the bottom of the chart in their Plunket books (a kiwi icon) - then I found out the statistics used for the measurements were outdated and came from an era when many babies were bottle fed and also took into account New Zealand's Maori and Pacific Island population. I decided to trust my motherly instincts, breastfed all my babies on demand knowing I was giving them the best start in life and 'tuned out' to the comments which inevitably came my way 'Oh she is so tiny', 'Look at those skinny legs' and my favourite ' Is that a doll or a baby?'!!!

I know I do not put up too many photos of me - I don't pose for the camera that often but I decided to make an exception on this occasion!

Olive Oyl was the term of endearment used by my dad for me when I was a young girl and when I celebrated my 40th Birthday it seemed appropriate to have Olive on the invitations! When I was a teenager he called me 'Twiggy' after the iconic model from the 60's. When I left the house he warned me to watch out for grids in the gutters in case I slipped through! ( A typical Liverpudlian sense of humour!) Now if you can imagine Olive with a little, compact baby bump, you can picture me - the figure not the face and I'm not tall like Olive who was seriously lanky!

I never intended this post to be humorous but could not resist slipping in that picture of Olive into a blog post! I would really appreciate your prayers because there is always that worry in the back of my mind - 'what if the baby is really very small - is the placenta still working properly? Will they want to induce me (with Christmas just around the corner this is one concern for me - that they will want my baby born before everyone goes on leave) or will they give me the extra days for the baby to grow some more and be born when it is ready?' The scan will of course reveal this and my husband is sure that the baby is just fine - he feels the kicks and the squirms - it seems every time a worry niggles me, the baby wriggles and I know movements and plenty of them are one of the best signs of all.

So this is my prayer 'Grow Baby Grow' and I wonder if this header I used for my poem about the commercialization of Christmas in any way prophetic?! Do go and read 'The Big Red Store' at my Christmas blog if you have not already! I seriously didn't think about what the ad said until I had posted it!

Thank you for all your kind comments and I truly appreciate your prayers. I'm signing off now and going to eat a few more bananas for morning tea!

With love and joy and anticipation of a Christmas delivery!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Lighting for a Teenager's Desk/Study Retreat

My daughter has been searching for some time for a lamp for her desk which is located in a caravan on our property that was renovated and converted into a bedroom and very special teenage retreat. You can read about her caravan renovation and makeover project in my previous post from October 2009 'Caravan Chic' - A Teen's Caravan Renovation Project

She was thrilled when I informed her that I had been contacted by an online home wares company to review one of their products at my blog and that one of their divisions was lighting! Buysterlighting have a very comprehensive range of products and as we browsed their website my daughter spotted what she believed would be the perfect lamp, in a very desirable shade of dusky pink that would appeal to many a teenage girl. It even matches her mobile phone!

She was right - the MOBY Halogen Desk Lamp was just the right shade of pink and it coordinates beautifully with the purple, mulberry and silver colour scheme she chose for her room. Finding a stylish desk lamp for an older girl's room can prove to be a challenge - many desk lamps are utilitarian, more suited to an office environment and colours are restricted to the bright primaries or black, white and chrome finishes. She was adamant her lamp had to be purple but pink was acceptable, provided it was not 'Barbie' Pink' which she has long grown out of!

The MOBY Halogen Desk Lamp is a 'dual switching' lamp which offers you the choice between a 35W or a 50W setting, the latter being ideal if you are using the lamp for tasks that require more light. It would be ideal for the table or room where you do your sewing and craft work. Wish I had thought of turning the caravan into my craft room first!

We were very impressed with the quality of this lamp. It's base is quite 'heavy' and it is very sturdy. It has a flexible chrome arm that allows you to position the light where it is required, as you can see in the above photo, my daughter enjoys relaxing on the window seat adjacent to her desk and does not need to move the lamp in order to enjoy her reading.

Our only disappointment with the lamp is the fact that the electrical cord is black rather than white. The power point in the caravan is above the desk rather than below it, which means the cord is on show. It does have a long cord which is useful for positioning the lamp on a longer desk or table but we will look at drilling a hole in the back of the desk and running a white extension cord down so that the lamp can be plugged into a board underneath, making the cord less obtrusive.

You will find the MOBY Halogen Desk Lamp and many other online shopping choices in home, caravan and office lighting at which I should point out is an Australian company.

Overall, the MOBY Halogen Desk Lamp is a very stylish, modern and functional lamp. It comes in a range of 'metallic' colour finishes - including the pink my daughter chose, purple, silver and gold, a very funky apple green and a lighter marine blue that would suit a boy's room but also appeal to girls who are over 'pink'!

Considering that it is a quality Halogen Lamp (complimentary 50W bulb included) that combines both style and functionality, at $55 I consider its price to be quite reasonable and well worth paying to prevent possible eyestrain. I believe good lighting to be essential for a young person's bedside table or desk, especially if your son or daughter likes to read books in the evening. How I wish my mum had provided me with a good lamp in my room - it might have prevented the eyestrain I suffered and saved me the cost of many pairs of contact lenses and glasses (I am just about to shell out again for new specs!) This I attribute to doing homework in a dimly lit room and reading books by torchlight under the covers! Do not allow your children to do this!

I actually quite enjoyed writing this post - my first review. To my friends reading this - yes, I am still here and it looks like my baby might be my Christmas present this year! Hopefully, my next post will be the announcement of my special arrival!

With Love and Joy,

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Christmas Baby ? - Maybe!

It's about time I posted a picture of me or to be more precise, my baby, soon to be born. This is me at 38 weeks plus 2 days. My dates were revised when I worked out the 19 week scan which put me at 21 weeks did not correlate at all with my own dates. Following the scan my GP worked off its EDD of December 5th but right through I have been measuring closer to my own dates of around 20th December. A Christmas Baby? Maybe or maybe not.

At my last antenatal visit my suspicions were confirmed - the baby's head is engaged. I've had some excellent 'Braxton Hicks' contractions recently and the baby is very active, especially in the evening. My babies are always active right up until the start of labour! Blood pressure is perfect and I'm not even feeling tired, more like energized!

Today - another good sign, another episode of furious nesting. Cleaning out not only my fridge but also the freezer compartment which I admit, I often neglect but not today! Every crevice, every seal, every basket and shelf was wiped down, sanitized and all my packs of frozen banana reorganized - it has been so hot here, the bananas are ripening quicker than we can eat them, so its all into the freezer for banana cakes and delicious smoothies this summer!

In the afternoon, it was onto more Christmas decorating. Wrapping a few presents and embellishing them with ribbons, silk leaves and flowers to place under my Christmas tree. I also decorated the fireplace as I wanted to take some photos for a post at my Christmas blog. As I wrote up the post and began uploading the photos, I started to feel 'crampy' - the onset of labour 'crampy' which I am still experiencing as I type up this post! It did occur to me that I could go into labour when blogging, as there are so many posts I wanted to do before the baby arrived! Could this baby be on its way - maybe tonight? Tomorrow? Later this week? I will keep you posted and if you do not hear from me, you could probably suspect that I am in established labour.

I would appreciate your prayers at this moment but right now I'm signing off and going to go and pack a bag just in case. If you do not hear from me, pop over to 'Christmas at Eden', if you have not already, and enjoy visiting some corners of my Christmas home - I am so pleased I prepared early!

With Love and Joy,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Caravan Chic' A Teen's Caravan Renovation Project - Update

My daughter the designer!

This post has proved to be one of my most popular at eightacresofeden and my daughter has been thrilled to receive so many compliments from family and friends on Facebook and is very surprised at the number of visits it is receiving via her mum's blog. People who are considering renovating a caravan or transforming a caravan into a teenager's bedroom or retreat are coming across this page. When I checked why this post was so popular and typed in 'caravan renovation' on Google I was amazed - lo and behold on the first page and in eighth position was my daughter's caravan!

At her recent birthday party she was inundated with requests to 'see the caravan'. It has been so affirming for her to receive so many compliments for all the effort she put into this project, such a reward for all her hard work - so if you left a comment at my blog - thank you!

She is really enjoying the fruits of her labour and was blessed with so many lovely gifts from her friends on her birthday - most were for her caravan/bedroom, carefully selected with her design preferences and favourite colours taken into account!

She continues to add finishing touches to the decor - this is a glimpse of the bevelled edge mirror that now graces the wall above her dressing table. She is giving consideration to her study area and has been searching for a purple desk chair - not easy to find unless you are prepared to pay for custom made. I am happy to report that her quest to find a desk lamp in the appropriate shade is almost over. It was just perfect timing when I was contacted by an online home wares company and asked if I would consider reviewing one of their products at this blog. They specialize in furniture and lighting and as we browsed their comprehensive website my daughter was excited to spot a desk lamp which comes in a very desirable shade of pink which she thinks would be perfect for her desk/study area.

In the next 'Caravan Chic' update we will share our review of the desk lamp. Good lighting is an essential component of the design process, especially for student desks and study areas.

If you have not yet been on a tour of the caravan, check it out at the original post, especially the 'before and after' shots ( at my archives for October 2009) - it is quite a transformation. I still can't believe that before my husband recognized its potential for a renovation/rescue and my daughter set to work and started demolishing, decorating and designing, that I wanted to tow it to the local dump! Her passion for design is growing - she is starting to research interior design courses via distance ed. She is also requesting trips into town - not to visit the mall but her father's favourite store, she wants to look at decking and purchase some frangipani plants. The outdoor area awaits its transformation!

With Love and Joy,

Twins - Twice the Reason to Celebrate!

'On the First Day of Christmas my dear Lord sent to me'
'Two Gorgeous Girls as cute as cute could be!'

Yesterday on the first day of December and at the official start of our summer in Australia, my twin girls celebrated their 4th birthday. They had a lovely morning playing with their new puppet theatre and watching their 'Tinkerbell' movie - a gift from their older sister. They were so thrilled and very appreciative, declaring an emphatic 'Oh - Thank you mum, Thank you dad' - they thanked each of their siblings too - it was a joy to behold!

For the past four years, they have rarely spent a moment apart. They love to be together and they rarely fight. They were side by side as they entered this world just 2 minutes apart - both in the breech position - I often wonder whether they were holding hands! The incredible bond which twins possess is beautiful to watch. They have unique personalities but the closeness they share is undeniable! They have brought me so much joy and I seriously used to pinch myself sometimes, as I looked down on them sleeping so peacefully in the cot which they shared for quite some time. I can only describe it as a sense of wonder - it was such an unexpected gift (there are no twins in the family) from the Lord, my double blessing for which I will ever be thankful for. Yet, people still say to me 'Oh twins - double trouble' to which I usually politely reply 'Actually, it is double joy' I truly mean that, even though I know it is twice the work and as one of my girls astutely observed on her first day of being 4 'Mm twins, two messes to clean up.'

I always have two eager, enthusiastic helpers in the kitchen and tasks must be allocated to each girl. I always have to get out two sets of utensils! They sometimes call out 'Yes Chef'! - Forget 'Hi 5' or the 'Wiggles', their favourite programme would have to be 'Masterchef' and one of the girls is still coming to terms with the fact that 'Poh' did not win the original series - she would sit on the couch and shout out encouragement to their favourite contestant, 'Go Poh!' she was so upset when Poh did not win the title and sulked for days! They also urge their mum to 'Make that!', and would love for me to make a 'Croquembouche' (yes, I had to check the Masterchef website to check the spelling!) - for the uninformed this is basically a mountain of toffee embellished profiteroles and the most complicated dessert ever attempted on 'Masterchef.' My older daughter thinks she is up to the challenge and wants to attempt to make it for Christmas!
They also love to play outside and if I cannot see them I know to look up - into the trees which they scale like mini goannas! They love the freedom they have to explore and play and I am ever so grateful that they now know to call a worm a worm and not a snake!

It only seems like yesterday that they were just tiny babies and I have so many beautiful memories of their first four years . I am so pleased that they will both be able to be big sisters soon. In just a few weeks time - they are really excited and so am I and as I sign off this post and say a 'Happy Birthday' to my girls, my latest blessing is kicking me and reminding me that very soon I will once again be blessed with the gift of a child at Christmas.

With Double the Love and Double the Joy,

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