Monday, January 25, 2010

'A Poem for Australia Day'




Why we Love Australia!

We came to Australia in 2002
We weren't really sure what we would do
Leaving NZ, a place we held dear
But knowing that God wanted us here

Heading north in our four wheel drive
Exploring each place when we'd arrive
In Port Stephens, Nelson, Forster-Tuncurry
No one seemed in much of a hurry
At Port Macquarie, we had to stop there
But everyone seemed to have gray hair!
'We' re not retiring!' mum said to dad
We got back in the car
Boy, was I glad!


And drove on past the gum trees and more gum trees
and more gum trees
until ....
The scenery changed from brown to green
The most beautiful place we have ever seen
Fertile valleys and sapphire blue sea
This is where we were meant to be!


But we had to learn the language
Little did we know
That all you have to do, is simply add an O
The servo, a garbo
I'm going out this arvo
To buy myself an eskie
To keep my drinks cool
Put on my swimmers and hop in the pool!


We love our rugby as all Kiwis do
But turn on the telly, what do we see
They don't have one goal post
Instead they have three
Kick the ball high and kick it some more
How on earth do they work out that score?

If Aussie rules baffles our brains
At least they play some proper games
For cricket, they know how to score
And managed to cope without Steve Waugh!



Now wildlife abounds, this is quite true
No need for us to visit the zoo
Koalas, echidnas, goannas we've seen
But when it comes to snakes, mum's not so keen!
All creatures great and some not so small
Like the rather large python mum met in the hall
I said 'Let's give it a name, like Monty or Jack
We christened him 'Arnie' - 'I'll be back!'

Whilst coping with reptiles
Mum's been a failure
She still says she loves Australia
The 'Great South Land of the Holy Ghost'
And from the outback to the coast
God is moving in this place
Pouring out His saving grace
It's why we are here, the reason we live
So let's not be afraid to give
Our all for the task that God has planned
To see Christ rule in this great land.
Lives will be changed, families made strong
With Christ as the head, we can't go wrong
And as the world in 2000 did see
Australia will impact Eternity



Penned in 2004 for an Australia Day church service and narrated by my son.

It is 2010 and I still have not worked out the rules of Aussie rules. I'm sorry but I cannot switch allegiance in rugby union or rugby league - I still support the All Blacks and the NZ Warriors. I know not to refer to the corner store as a 'dairy' but sweet potatoes will always be kumara. I miss kiwi chocolate bars - Frodo frogs are no match for chocolate fish or Mars bars for Moro bars and I wish they sold proper jaffas. I cannot get out of the habit of calling swimmers 'togs' or bring myself to call flip flops or jandals, thongs! For my friends overseas - an eskie is a cooler, one of those plastic chest thingies you take to the beach or picnics and place all your drinks in, they make good seats too! A servo is a gas or petrol station and a garbo is a binman or the guy that collects your household refuse! Half the male population also adds 'o' to their first name - John o, Stevo, who started this trend?


This is an esky! Doesn't matter what brand it is, everyone calls them eskies!


I do pass some of the test questions on 'You Know you are Australian if....' that did the rounds on the internet last year. Some of my favourites included ......

You think it is normal to have a Prime Minister named Kevin

You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep (Kiwis do this too!)

You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis

You wear ugg boots outside the house

You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle



Your biggest family argument over summer concerned the rules of beach cricket

I have ties to three different countries and have lived in both cities (Liverpool and London) and the countryside of New Zealand with its stunning scenery. Each place had unique qualities and good people.

I thank God for my heritage, for each place I was privileged to call home and especially on Australia Day, I give thanks for this wonderful country, a great nation. I know I am blessed to be able to raise beautiful children in such a beautiful place. I will never take it for granted.


Wishing you a very happy Australia Day
Hope you enjoyed the poem!

With Love and Joy,
Ann

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Domestic Terminal of Life

Family outing to an Airshow Summer 2006


When I first landed in the domestic terminal of life in the early 1990's, I intended my stopover to be a short one. I was happy to be home with my first born but I was on maternity leave and rather than return to my familiar position in the Health Service, I chose to apply for another job in a different part of the country. I boarded a plane and flew down to attend the interview taking along my husband and my 3 month old son. He was left holding the baby as I was grilled by a panel of four senior managers for over an hour. I was offered the job and I accepted, believing that somehow I would be able to juggle everything with my husband taking on duties in the domestic terminal on my behalf, as I traveled between two destinations - home and the workplace which was my 'international terminal' with a lot more going on, more people to deal with, deadlines to meet, connections to make - life is always busier in the international terminal but I had a passport (my qualification) and thought I had to use it outside of the home.

Today I still have a valid passport, my hard earned qualification has not expired but I have chosen to leave it in the drawer and live my life fully within the domestic terminal of life. I expect to be delayed in this terminal for quite some time but I am not complaining! I have ripped up the boarding pass and I will not be boarding a plane to go anywhere soon. I no longer read the situations vacant columns to see if my occupation is still in demand or to discover what salary package it now offers, for I no longer measure my worth in monetary terms. The Bible tells me that a good wife is worth far above rubies. In a word, she is priceless to her husband and family - this is how I would prefer to be valued!



If you have spent any length of time in a conventional airport, even in the international terminal, the novelty can wear off. Believe me, I know - I once spent 14 hours waiting for a connecting flight in Singapore - the airport there is expansive but after 14 hours I could find my way around with ease - if only I could have earned frequent airport terminal walking points rather than frequent flyer points! You have tested every perfume in the duty free store, browsed every magazine in the bookshop including the ones in other languages, sipped more than a few lattes from cardboard cups or worse, suffered 'International Roast' just to keep you awake (always the coffee at my workplaces!) - you just want to go home! And this was my desire as I roamed the 'international terminal' of the workplace - I just wanted to come home and stay home. I thank God that He heard my prayer and made a way for me to return to the place where I longed to be, to be all that He had created me to be.

The domestic terminal at the airport is somewhere we do not wish to linger, it is just a place to pass through but the domestic terminal of life is a place I have come to love and I am so pleased I chose to step off the plane, climb down the career ladder and exchange it for all things domestic!

Today I cannot imagine a life spent outside of the domestic terminal. Retrieving some clothes from the washing line the other day, I discovered my twin girls playing a game they had invented using toy dinosaurs stolen from their brother's room. These are the moments I do not want to miss out on!

It is called 'Toss the Dinosaur'!



Let's play it again - this is so much fun!


And here is the most recent photograph of another of my reasons for not wanting to leave the domestic terminal.
He needs me to stay in the domestic terminal of life, there are nappies to change, feeds to be given, wind to be brought up and kisses to be planted upon his chubby little cheek right throughout the day!


And there are others who are not totally dependent upon me but appreciate that I am here to oversee the management of everything that happens within the home as I fulfill the role of wife and mother, being a helpmate to my husband and taking care of all the domestic details, as well as the vital act of nurturing.

There are those who would describe the domestic life as one of drudgery, a life of menial, unrelenting tasks and unpaid labour but that's not how I see it. I thought about what I achieved yesterday and it did not seem like much until I realized it was so much more - I gave the gift of optimal nutrition (at regular intervals throughout the day and night) to a baby which will bring strength, health and vitality to his growing body, and along with this came comfort and emotional wellness through bonding for both mother and baby!

I offered 'educated' guesses to a teenage son, who was reading and trying to decipher a wordy sociological text about the media in preparation for a university assignment. Did I help him? Probably not! - but in listening to his opinions I was letting him know that I appreciated the effort he is putting in to his degree - communicating with teenagers is so important - show an interest in what they are interested in, it will pay dividends!




I baked my husband's favourite rhubarb cake which was appreciated by all the members of the family who like rhubarb, this also filled my kitchen with the aroma of baking which drew people into the kitchen, the heart of my home and a hub of domesticity. The cake brought other benefits - we stopped our individual activities and sat down together as a family to talk, laugh, drink coffee and eat cake.

I accompanied my husband as we drove to a local nursery to choose some water plants for our pond - a major landscaping project my husband has been working on, as we tend to our eight acres of eden. On our return the children helped to fetch an old bath tub which was sunk into the water, secured and filled with rocks and planted with Louisiana iris. One outdoor work project was the chance for a husband and wife to communicate, a family to work together and another section of our garden was beautified.

These were the main accomplishments of the day. I did not have time for intensive house cleaning, craft projects or even the computer which can entice us away so easily from our everyday life and the people who need us the most. I was encamped in the domestic terminal of life and it is where I am returning to now. My father-in-law arrives for a visit from NZ on the weekend and there are domestic duties to attend to and a new school year to prepare for.


Faith our Border Collie who also needs us to be home - she loves company!


I am grateful for summer holidays and even though the days are hot and humid and our air conditioning is not working and we are roasting, it has caused me to slow down, to remember that beautiful Scripture in Isaiah 40 v 11 that reminds us that the Lord gently leads those with little ones - it is simply too hot to race around town or work for hours in the garden - I am so grateful for mulch, I need to use it more! I also have a baby who needs my attention and I have deliberately chosen to stay home more and live a life 'less complicated.' Therefore I do not crowd my schedule with summer sports, organized 'educational' activities outside of the home or visits to town unless absolutely necessary - no window shopping for me!


A twin trying to look and stay cool!


Of course we still find time for people - over the weekend we enjoyed our local markets ensuring we arrived as soon as the stalls set up, avoiding the crowds and the heat of the day and there was time to stop and chat with folk, buy veggie plants and enjoy a cup of ice cold homemade lemonade! We attended church on Sunday morning followed by more fellowship at the church picnic. My daughter went to a birthday dinner at a Thai restaurant last evening and I spent this morning engaged in animated conversation on the telephone with my former neighbour who had received our family newsletter, it was so lovely to hear from her - we talked about family and caught up on so much.

Life will get busier over the next few weeks. I will have less time to blog, so my blog posts will be short and sweet - this is just another way of living a less complicated life for me and setting my priorities in order. This is my chosen field, my vocation and calling, this is my life and it is where I want to be - the domestic terminal of life, a place I am happy to call home!

With Love and Joy,
Ann

Monday, January 11, 2010

Our January House Guest

I cannot believe that I actually took this photograph! I am not that fond of snakes and I do not intentionally invite them into my house but all that oxytocin my body is producing as I feed my newborn, is having an amazing effect. I actually allowed my son to bring in this baby carpet snake which was curled up outside a bedroom window, and I actually stayed calm to get close enough to take a photo! My first reaction was ' Oh no - You are not bringing it into the house!' when son and snake first appeared at the kitchen door! Our January house guest was warmly greeted by all the other members of the family.


Especially my ten year old son who loves all creatures great and small!


And even the twins were pleased to meet our reptile visitor!

January is traditionally our snake month - it was during this month in our first year in Australia that I met my first snake who I encountered in the hallway just inches above my head - if only that snake had been a little one too - no, the one I met was about 2 metres long and one of the biggest pythons I have seen here and it scared me to a speechless standstill (read that as paralyzed with fear!) I just was not expecting to meet my first snake inside the house!


So if you do visit me at home during the month of January, I am letting you know now. You have been forewarned! The black bin with ventilation holes punched in the top that sits on the patio is not a compost bin or a worm farm. Don't lift the lid to throw in the veggie scraps or you might get a fright! I really should label this bin as one of my visitors on one occasion was about to throw their food scraps into this bin until we shouted out 'No - not that bin!' Can you guess what's in the bag? Yes, this is a job I leave to my husband - carpet snake relocation duties are definitely on his job description - not mine!


Released from the bag onto the ground, the snake considers staying for a moment! He had been found in our chicken house just waiting for the right moment to help himself to fresh chicken before his presence was discovered. This always happens when my husband is at work and it is on days like these I declare that I am so glad I chose to homeschool my teenage son who is more than happy to catch a snake with his bare hands (the non venomous ones that is!)


He disappears into the bush and I now accept that he will return later, or it might be his cousin or sister or maybe one of the offspring. I was feeling so proud of myself and my new found calmness around carpet snakes until I was sitting at the computer typing in a comment at a friend's blog when I felt something in my hair, then a smirk from a son 'Hi mum' and then the realization of just what had been placed onto my head! The oxytocin stopped working and this mum lost her cool demeanour and jumped and screamed ' Get it off my head now!' I was just about ready to book my ticket and move back to New Zealand - no snakes there!

I should have never allowed my children to enjoy this educational experience when we first moved to Australia!

With Love and Joy

Ann






Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blissful Baking and Baby Coconut Biscotti

My daughter left her new cook book on the kitchen bench this morning and I could not resist having another browse through as I congratulated myself on making such a wise choice at the bookstore - this is the gift that will keep on giving and I'm certain 'The Big Book of Cakes and Cookies 365 Much-loved Classics and New Favourites' by Hannah Miles is going to be one of the most used cook books in this household during 2010.

I had intended to buy my teenage daughter the 'Masterchef Australia' cookbook for Christmas 2009 but when I spotted this book at a third of the price and had a peek inside at some of the most delectable, tempting, baking recipes I have ever set eyes upon, the Masterchef cook book went back onto the shelf. The author of this baking compendium was a finalist on Britain's Masterchef competition and her book came with glowing recommendations from the judges. This morning I made the chocolate and macadamia cookies - very delicious, chewy and moist and gone by the end of morning tea!




I am hoping my daughter will be making more of Hannah's choux rings after the first one was received and consumed with delight. She used slices of fresh nectarine rather than raspberries. There are paperclips on many of the pages - all recipes my daughter wants to try! Can't wait!

I am hoping that she makes this coffee gateaux one day. I love coffee cake!

I did pay my daughter the ultimate compliment the other night when I informed her that the double mocha and white chocolate cheesecake she presented for dessert was one of the best cheesecakes she had ever made and how pleased I was that she was using her new recipe book on such a regular basis. 'But mum - I didn't use the book - that was my own recipe!' was her response! I will coax the recipe out of her and ask for a repeat performance so I can take some photos to accompany the recipe - chocolate lovers will not be disappointed!

I only share family recipes at this blog and do not reproduce recipes of other people (You should buy the book, visit the website of the author or request a loan at your library) but here is one of my own that was promised before Christmas that was interrupted by labour pains before I could type it out! I'm going to call it my 'Baby Coconut Biscotti' because my baby was on the way! I made a batch this morning and they are sitting on my kitchen bench waiting to be iced.




Baby Coconut Biscotti

1/2 cup coconut oil
3
eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup fine, dessicated coconut



1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 c

2. Beat together in a large bowl, the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the coconut oil - it needs to be runny, so if it is cold, you may need to melt it - no need for me to do this today, it is 35 c outside and 28c inside! I use organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil. I'm so pleased I discovered coconut oil - it is the only oil I use for baking - I use it in my muffin recipes and to combine my dry ingredients in my homemade muesli.


3. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and combine into the wet mixture to make a stiff dough. Add the coconut before you start to form the dough. You will be rolling it into logs to bake, so add more flour if the mixture seems too wet for rolling. Here are my logs ready to go into the oven. Use baking paper to line your tray.


4. Bake your logs for 10-15 minutes until they are a nice golden colour. If they are still a little doughy on the inside, don't worry - they will be going back in for their second baking after you have cut them into thin slices. Allow them to cool for a while before you slice them and as they don't spread, you can place them close together on the tray.

5. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes. They should come out a nice, golden brown colour.



6. Allow to cool before making a thin white icing to drizzle over haphazardly - haphazard drizzling always looks better in my opinion!



7. Make a plunger of good coffee and enjoy - dunk the biscotti if you desire! Once again, a plug for my favourite coffee- find it at Woolworths, the French Vanilla flavour is good too but chocolate macadamia is our absolute favourite.

Guess what we are having for afternoon tea today? I just need to go and ice my batch before they disappear from the tray - the family has just come in from the pool and I need to go and guard both my clean floor and the biscotti - I happen to like mine iced!


With Love and Joy,
Ann




Monday, January 4, 2010

A Blissful New Year 2010

I am having a blissful New Year! I hope you are too - not just a 'Happy' New Year, a blissful one! The dictionary defines bliss as 'supreme happiness', 'utter joy' and 'contentment'. 'Blissfully' is defined as 'full of', 'abounding in' or 'enjoying' and I am experiencing all of the above! Much of this is due to this blissful baby boy. He is such a delight - he is indeed bringing us bliss!

I am tired, yes, even weary but not in the least resentful. I know that the sacrifice of sleep is bringing sustenance to his little body that digests his mother's milk in just two hours. I love to breastfeed, it is almost second nature to me now. It has been a blessing in my life which has given all of my children health, vitality, comfort and so much more!



I am enjoying my Christmas Tree for one more evening - or maybe two. I usually leave my tree up until 'Twelth Night', or the 6Th January. I know many of you take down your decorations before the New Year but I have been otherwise occupied! This is my new tree - my Christmas gift from my husband, purchased in the Boxing Day sales. My previous tree (which was a decade old) went down on Christmas Day with one resounding crash when the stand collapsed - it was a sign! - a new tree for a new decade! BTW Renata - I am giving my angel the beautiful Maori name you suggested!

I am also still receiving Christmas cards and well wishes for our new baby boy from friends and family overseas. I will leave up this card holder which has LED lights which cast a beautiful glow in the window at night and attach the baby cards I am receiving, when the Christmas cards are taken down.



I am writing out my 'Kingdom Notes' for 2010. Not goals but 'Kingdom Notes' - I chose to use this title for planning my year, after reading the post at Mrs Fuentes beautiful blog 'A Wise Woman Builds Her Home' . Her post on 'Kingdom Notes' is inspirational and I have taken her suggestions on board and I am using her list of questions to write out my vision and what I want to achieve this year. Her blog is on my blog list in the sidebar should you want to visit and find out more about 'Kingdom Notes'. This post and her blog is a blessing in my life.



Today I sat down when my baby boy was sleeping and tackled the first question. I prayed and asked the Lord ' What did He want me to do in 2010?' I opened up the Word and He answered me by leading me to a beautiful passage in the book of Psalms, with a particular emphasis for me, on verse 4 of the 105Th chapter and with these words of wisdom I will close this post, as there is a little man who is beckoning his mother! BTW I have not forgotten the biscotti recipe which my labour interrupted from being posted! I will post it soon!

With Love and Joy,
Ann

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