23.4.15

A Somebody Moment..

I had a somebody moment and I didn't even realise it.

I recently listened to a podcast from church about an "everybody" to a "somebody" message, one that moves from a generic message for everyone to one that is spoken directly to you ( as our pastor so eloquently explained).

Well, it happened one Sunday during the afternoon service of missions giving.

The whole month of March was missions month and we got to hear stories from our church missionaries. Along with that came the challenge to prayerfully give towards missions. So my husband and I prayed separately, and as missions Sunday came, I asked him how much he felt we should give, to which he quoted double the amount that I felt we should. I kept quiet. I wish I can say I quietly prayed but I didn't. I was silently calculating in my head where the money will come from.

I think for as long as I can remember, when we pray about how much to give and we get different amounts, we have decided to go with whichever is higher. I don't really remember why, we just did.

That Sunday when the missions giving was about to be collected, I picked up the form and began filling it out, leaving the amount empty. I negotiated with God in my head. I did not want to verbally complain and nullify whatever "return"  that giving means but I sure complained nonetheless, I even had a scripture to back me up. I was asking God questions. In the end we did not let the bucket pass us by without putting in beyond what we could.

That evening we came back and it felt like God was personally talking to me during the whole preaching. The speaker used the scripture that I was thinking about that morning.  And when he said that the only way he and his wife gives is all in, that was exactly one of the thoughts I had, except I was asking why we always had to give " all in" even when we didn't have anything.

I felt a God moment that night, with every single reason I raised in my head gently reassured. I felt a sense of relief that we released the finances anyway even if it was not easy and completely beyond our ability.

A week later, we went away for a few days, had the best fun, and paid everything in cash. Sure our car battery died and had to make an emergency expense, but we did not break the bank.

The next week I got paid, and to my surprise, I received more, a little bit over the amount that I struggled to release that Missions Sunday.

I thought it was a reminder that God is looking after us, that every single thought we have is important to Him, even the ones that remain unspoken.

I know that I would still have received extra if we didn't give because it actually came from penalty rates for working during the holiday, but it wouldn't have meant as much as it did when we found out. And the timing of the amount we released and the extra pay is nothing short of amazing. I'm glad we obeyed anyway, even if I grumbled, albeit in silence. Good thing it did not disqualify us from experiencing the joy that came with it.

If I learned any lesson from this experience, it is that God is NOT intimidated with my questions. And even if my circumstances says I can't afford it but I clearly heard what I needed to do, I should release and obey anyway.

31.1.15

Camping at Bendeela Recreational Area

It is safe to say  that after our first camping ever, we are sold out  and completely love  it! It was a really great experience for us and the three nights and four days that we spent at the site, we made so many amazing memories, visited new places, and learned a trick or two for our next camping trip. Here's our list of our newbie camper essentials.

Some of the views on the way to the camping site
I have to be honest and say that the way I looked at it, it was just like going away to a new place for a holiday, except we slept on a tent. The kids thought it was the best idea anyone ever came up with and we saved so much money on accommodation. If you know me well, you will realize that it is right up my alley, being the person who puts premium on economic reasons.

Picking a Campsite
Since it was our first trip, I thought we should take it easy and stay close to home so Bonnie Vale Campground was the obvious choice because it is powered, it has hot shower and has mobile coverage. And my darling husband being on the job most of the time, making sure a resource facility is running smoothly without hitches,  it was an easy choice. But at the time I was looking, it was fully booked til close to school opening.

taken from the website here
I read about Bendeela Camping Grounds being highly recommended and I did know that it has basic facility, unpowered, no mobile coverage and FREE! I probably only read the last bit properly because I managed to sell the idea to my unsuspecting family who actually got excited. The other thing was we were talking about Kangaroo Valley a few years back and almost went, except our then GPS could not locate it and found Kangaroo Island in South Australia instead, but that is another story.

We arrived at the campsite at 4pm, after almost cancelling because of a little argument about storage. That did lead to lots of ideas on decluttering, forcing me to book for council clean up, which was good.

We forgot our lighter so on our first night, we had fruits, sandwiches thinking we couldn't cook. We found out the funny way that the advice to try equipment before going makes sense. Sure we knew our tent could endure some rain and we can stay dry but we ran out of time and left getting the butane gas last minute and did not care to read the instructions. Good thing we did not starve that night!!

Testing the Waters
We went out for morning walks just after breakfast, and spend some time subtly checking out other peoples' tents and caravans and talk about what we would do the next time.We did not see a lot of people jump into the lake but there were heaps on their canoes.I think the image of sea monsters kept bugging me, making the water less enticing. While we cooked breakfast and dinner, we would go to the closest attraction, have lunch and go back in the afternoon.

Chasing Wombi the Wombat
Playtime

Fitzroy Falls
We had brunch at the visitors cafe, after a massive breakfast at the campsite. We were probably bracing ourselves for a little trek, that even the kids enjoyed themselves!
This made us want to jump in!

Jersey Lane with this two

At the Cafe where I was trying to make a point about not being scared but....

Tallowa Dam/Lake Yarrunga

We were ready to turn around but after driving for a bit, thought it would be silly to turn. So we kept driving til we can see the water. It was a beautiful lake, with a picnic site and kangaroo running around. There were a number of guests going for a canoe ride.The lake was a much better spot for swimming as it wasn't as muddy and the toilets were clean.








Spotted at the Dam

Kangaroo Valley Town
A small town with lots of crafts ,shops  restaurants and hotels, I was surprised to see signs that all accommodations were full.There was even a powered camping site at the town centre and a public pool that made us want to jump in. We saw lots of signs saying they make the best pie and the one we tried were definitely delicious!
Love the look of the police station

Kangaroo Valley Town Hall

This is a private play area so we had to order some kids meal after lunch so we can stay

This was the pie place we went to whose name escaped us


shop at the main street


Pioneer Museum Park
My most vivid memory of the museum was a sign that cars parked by illegally will be towed and  turned into beer cans! It has lots of history in one venue,with every cottage a story of its own.
One Vehicle at a time

Main Office

The Kids were getting bored but they lightened up when I told them there is a Tardis outside.
It is a telephone booth of course

The Telephone Switchboard

The Hanging Bridge (I'm sure it was called something but forgot)


















I found very sad a bench donated by a church that had to close after decades of ministry. It made me think of the next generation and how important it is to disciple and bring them up into the things of God. That sign was the exact same reason why it makes me sad when I hear or read well meaning individuals say that they are giving their children a choice and they can make a decision on what to believe when they are older. In my opinion, it is rather unfair to expect someone to make a choice in the future if they were not trained and taught when they were young.

Of course it is not a guarantee but we can only hope that what they learn at a young age will stay with them and when they are stuck or have to make decisions in the future, they will remember the things that they were taught when they were little.


Comic Relief
We spent  some time practicing letters and numbers with the kids. Mr D was oozing with confidence while his sister, eleven months his junior skips a few things and asks us for clues. We specifically grilled her with her numbers  because we noticed that she goes ....14..16...17..18.One time after repeatedly asking her, one of us went, okay - can you count 1 to 20 for me, to which she would reply - 1..2..20 :p Other times she would burst into tunes that she made up herself,one of which was a variation of a song from one of her favourite games with lyrics that says - i'm so fabulous..i'm so fabulous!!! Not to be outdone, the little mister would then pose in one of his superhero characters then scream: I AM the INCREDIBLE Daniel!

The most hilarious was probably when I gave them a bath using water from  the tap - they both screamed like little girls -MUMMYYYYYYYYY it's too cold!!Mind you it was a very hot day so the water was not so bad.

Kiama Stopover
Naturally we stopped for ice cream in Kiama on our drive back! The kids also went to see the blowhole and a bit of trampoline fun.


All photos taken through Google Nexus  and the really sharp and vivid ones via OnePlus One


Learning Curve
Because I read that we should go early, by the time we got there,we sort of panicked and picked the first available spot we liked. The spot was fine but the ground was not flat in the middle, which was okay when kids slept on that side. It became a problem when two adults slept on it, causing back pains. So we learned that we should have driven around to see the whole area, which we did on our last day and saw lots of empty spots that would have been perfect.

We also realized that we needed to account for the proximity to toilets, tap and showers.

We clearly did a research of the area but probably not well enough to organize our movement and be more efficient and effective with our time.

I suppose in the end, for a first time, it went really well. The fact is we had great fun, the kids were gadget free and we went out and enjoyed the beauty of nature. What kept running in my head as I sat and look at our view was the magnificence of the surroundings and how surely it did not just pop out without  a Creator behind it!

Our little family is truly grateful for such a beautiful experience! I think we are in for a great adventure ahead!

19.1.15

Our Newbie Camper Essentials

A few months ago, our little family decided that we are ready to camp. After years of looking into it, hearing from friends and colleagues talk about it, we thought it was time to give it a go! 

What probably made us most hesitant  was the huge initial investment required. And we weren't even sure if we will like it so spending too much was not an option, apart from not having the money to spend anyway. But our due diligence led us,  thanks to Google, to this website that has relevant information about camping. I found most useful  the  list of 10 basic things needed by new campers:

1. Tent. Just when we were looking for a tent,  Aldi, our favourite source of cheap but quality stuff has a camping kit on special, including a 4-person tent with 2 adult sleeping bags and 2 camping chairs. Naturally we checked the reviews, and was quite pleased with what we read. We tested the tent in our backyard one night and discovered that it can withstand moderate rain, wind and thunderstorm. Setting up was also easy as the concept was similar to our sunshade that it was assembled by the female adult and kids in the family (bragging aside ha ha!).

2. Table. We also got the folding table from Aldi. It was very light and came with a bag.

3. Camping Stove + cookware. Aldi also had this double burner lightweight camping stove. We left this at the last minute that we did not even realise that we did not need a lighter to make it work. So on our first night we ate fruits and sandwiches instead of cooking anything due to that misunderstanding. We also drove over 20 kilometres, via the tourist drive, thankfully, to buy a lighter, among others, only to find that it was not necessary.

The cookware included plates and cups so it was good too.
4. Beddings. Since the camping kit only came with adult sleeping bags, we needed two more for the kids. Good thing we already have one for Miss Z so we only needed one more. We found what we wanted at Kmart for a bargain. 

We also got the air mattress and air pump from Aldi but on the night that we tested the tent, we slept very well with just our sleeping bags that we thought it was not important. We did not have a very good experience with  air mattresses before, and we already have something that we can use alternately. So we returned the air mattress and air pump and got a refund.

Maybe next time we can get the self inflating mattress.
5. Rechargeable Lamp. Aldi had a battery operated LED lamp with fan so we got it but we felt that we needed a rechargeable lamp since we were going to an unpowered site. We went to Bunnings and got ourselves a lamp. We also got the kids their own torch that they had fun playing with at night time.

6. Esky. Also from Bunnings, we got ourselves an Esky with wheels, making it really easy to move such a heavy box that contained our food and drinks. A fridge would be nice :-)

7. Shovel. We just got ours from Kmart. We did not really use it this time.

8. First aid kit. We bought from our local chemist and just added things that we thought we might need.

9. Bucket. We just used one we already have, and as advised, it proved very useful. It's good we brought two along.

10. Sense of humour. I suppose this should be on top of the list because I imagine it takes people with lots of sense of humour to put themselves in a position to make life a bit difficult and a little inconvenient in order to make memories. But the kids love it and it kept them away from the television and gadgets the whole time. Win-win.

My selfie stick did not make it to the list although it almost ruined it for me especially that we had to take turns when taking pictures. But because we had heaps of sense of humour on our first camping trip ever, somehow I managed to get past it.

If you are like me, you would want to know the figures and this is probably on the low end as we got these things on special. We probably spent under 400, max 500 for these essentials and we will be using them again when we go next which comes out way cheaper when I think of going away for breaks and the huge amount allocated for accomodation. It totally justifies every expense and discomfort considering the priceless memories we collected as a family! x

13.10.14

Let it Be

I never thought anything could be so low as the one I have  seen and heard but I must admit it just went to a whole new level. Coming from someone you used to hold with respect is a bit disconcerting.

But it did. And I shouldn't be surprised. But I am. I really only have myself to blame. I should be able to recognise these characters by now. But I like looking at the good in them that I overlook my better judgement.

Not anymore. Especially with this kind.The bullies who stir trouble and blame others in the end. The ones who throw accusations and make them sound as truth. And are they believable!!! At some point it is best to  give up. And  in some cases it is best to let go. And let things be.

For the sake of peace.

Because  there are more important things in life. And being proven RIGHT is not on top of my list.

Enough said.

6.10.14

this parenting gig: raising this miss 4

I love how she is so confident and aware of how much she is appreciated and valued. I suppose you can say that I mentally decided not to starve her with the longing to verbally tell her she is loved, even though it is a love language that I do not eloquently speak. And so I tell her how much I love her every single day, whether she is being silly or on her best behaviour. And the more I do it, it starts coming out without making an effort. And the best part is, she starts telling me that she loves me,  even when she doesn't want anything. Sometimes at the most randomly appropriate times, she tells me and instead of being upset with her, she gets away with certain consequences.

My parents love me and my siblings equally and I know that without a doubt. But growing up I couldn't remember a time when I was verbally told of their love and affection. When I was old enough to understand, I never blamed them because I knew they did the best they could and were probably doing better than their own experience.  But with it came the decision to deliberately make an effort when the kids come.

And so they came, and now I am scratching my head. What wrong did I do that she can be really stubborn and single minded when she has decided on something.  Why does she take ages to listen and obey really simple instructions? And how did she learn to use her charm on us so she can be spared of the repercussions of her action?

We have tried having a chat and for a time it works. We gave her treats and we even remind her often how it is NOT like her and that she is upsetting people.

Just when I was beginning to think that this phase is exclusive to our darling Miss 4, our ever so gentle Mister 5 gave us exhibit A to the opposite Not sure where the reasonable little boy we have went - the one who came home with us that day was  inconsolable because we wouldn't give him more time to play or eat treat foods When he calmed down, in between sobs he said, sometimes it is hard to stop crying mummy, even if I want to.

And that gives me hope that all our prayers, chats and efforts are not in vain. That they hear us, they want to  obey but at times they get overwhelmed, and that's good enough for us. Amidst all the stubborn streaks and inconvenient dramas, I can see a glimmer of  sunshine that as we remain steadfast and consistent, things will get through to them in the end. 

1.10.14

this parenting gig: when hovering has its benefits

i was once accused of helicopter parenting by a random person because i would much rather stay close to where my kids were playing. which was close to the road, the alternative being that i listen to a whinger about a relationship that's falling apart. i suppose i would much rather be accused of anything, because I would much rather hover over my kids than have someone else dump their rubbish on me.

and those times that i do hover are really amazing especially when i hear about their conversations between them or with their friends. others we are able to nip some things in the bud, before some words become part of their everyday vocabulary.

we have always spoken to them as we would with adults, even before they started talking. these are just a few of the things we/others have had a chat with them that they surprisingly took on board -

1- how special they are and that God loves them very much. they started hearing these ideas from one year old at a class in church via a memory verse that goes - God even knows the number of hairs on my head. I am worth more than a million birds Luke 12.7 Imagine my surprise when our little miss said something to that effect when someone else was telling her something different.

2- not to be afraid. sometimes they get this, other times they don't and they often use it when it is convenient such as when one of them wants company to go upstairs. an appropriate as well as convenient reply is often - that's okay, God is with you, remember?

3-private parts. we  had to do this chat a bit early because of an incident that happened around them. i am very grateful for the mum that mentioned it to me, prompting me to pray and  google what to say!! Thank God for what I uncovered after a little research. Someone mentioned that to pretend that the issue will go away is ignorant. How interesting that our now 4 and 5 year-olds make random comments related to that conversation when they were 3 and 4, including about dancers and swimmers who don't cover their bodies.

4-secrets. a necessary corollary to our private parts conversation is secrets. we had to stop using the word altogether because apparently it is a word often used by perpetrators. we told them we do not keep secrets from each other and that we should always tell. We can surprise each other, not keep secrets.

imagine our amazement when we slip and use the word secret and little people comes to us reminding us that we don't keep secrets. very impressive! it made us conscious at remembering what we tell them because it will come back to us.

5- ugly/fat/stupid and words like that. we had to tell them that there are some words they will hear that we don't use. and because they somehow understand #1, it is easier to engage them in conversation, point them back to God (like we do when they start having tantrums when we don't buy them everything they want in the shop, our #1 standard question being - did you talk to God about it?)

i can keep going but  i feel that in the end we will only be held accountable for what we do with the little lives that we are given the privilege to raise. the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 says Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

it goes without saying that we do not have everything figured out. everyday is a learning experience. some days we fall into the trap of screaming, getting annoyed and being impatient instead of being gracious and loving. most days though, we needed to be deliberate about telling them how much they are loved, how gorgeous little miss is and what a gentle champion our little mister is. we also have to learn to correct them in love. 

needless to say, i have now kept my distance from that random person. what great observation skills - i will have to give credit to that. i just wish it is used to build and encourage. instead of tear others down - but that's another topic for another day.

21.6.14

Tread Carefully -

- please.. It usually takes me hours to finish a blog. Let me tell you - it gets me really excited when I have put a story  or a series of unrelated stories into one. It's like giving birth every time - the bit where you meet your newborn for the first time. And I have to admit feeling really pleased.

I am a mum to two preschool kids. I can't even count the number of times they surprise me with words like reality, idea, actually, imagination used in the right context - just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. But other times I long for adult conversation, and blogging has become that avenue for me to do a narrative ( because I can't do that with my kids - I get politely interrupted with "excuse me mummy, I have something to tell you") and a creative outlet, if I may be so audacious to use that term.

So when I found out that some people, a few of whom are very close friends of our family, were offended by one of the points I blogged about, I was deeply saddened. I was literally physically sick that I almost could not accompany my son to a birthday party!  Never mind that they have long forgiven me way before I even found out!

I thought maybe there are others who are just lurking out there and not saying anything, just waiting to explode. (we don't want that.. I can get a bit dense, unless I am told that there is an issue)

What prompted me to ask them was an incident totally unrelated, with another person then becoming historical, finding undertones on stuff that I blogged in the past. What I found very sad about the later was - this person, whom I thought knew me better, would much rather talk to others instead of confronting me about the issue. Even after I opened doors for a conversation, the "door was slammed" all because of a misunderstanding. After giving it some thought, I realised that there was more to the issue as I thought I knew or the whole thing would not be blown out of proportion. Which happens when offenses are not dealt with. But no judgement there - just wished it was dealt with differently.

I remember being confronted  as a  young person, and learning early that - people who are NOT part of the PROBLEM or SOLUTION do not need to know about an issue or it becomes gossip. And if I ever get offended, I should speak to the person involved. In cases where I do not want to, I should just let it slide. Or look at the situation from the person's point of view, hopefully it will shed some light over the differences of opinion.

Because of the abovementioned incidents, it made me rethink why I blog, what motivates me to make time to put together my thoughts, and tell stories etc. Anyone who knows me well will hopefully know that I will never  offend them ON PURPOSE!  I think of myself as transparent - the what you see is what you get sort. I do not subscribe to disposable relationships, thus I don't go about making friends while secretly scheming something on the side.  I would like to think of myself as one who aspires to builds up, not tear people down. Many times I had to bite my tongue in the name of keeping quiet when I have nothing positive/encouraging to say. 

With all those thoughts invading my mind at different times, it made me realise that maybe I needed to state the obvious and spell things out -

1. Whatever I write or have written in the past, it has my BELIEFS, BACKGROUND, SOCIO-CULTURAL ORIENTATION, EDUCATION, LIFE EXPERIENCES all over the place! Please do not read something in here and analyse it based on what you think it means. If you're not sure, ask me. I might even pay for coffee :p It is my opinion. I am not writing to criticise other people's choices or pass judgement, that is NOT my place. It is not like me. And if you thought I was being offensive, please ACCEPT my APOLOGIES. I am only expressing my opinion on a subject that I am passionate about.

A friend said that if people will choose to be offended, they will always find something to be offended about. True that - even if a line starts with no offense.

2. Let's agree to disagree - there will always be something that I will blog about that you won't be happy with. Let's leave it at that. We are all different! And that's what makes life exciting! I don't know about you but I wouldn't want a friend who will agree with me at every opportunity.

When I was feeling sick and a bit depressed over the dramas of my life, I messaged a long time friend who once told someone that if they wanted a friend who will tell the truth even if it hurts (only when asked) to go to a friend like me. I miss my friends with whom I have had long history with. The kind that knew me, without having to explain anything to them. At the same time I am grateful for the new friends that I have made who even though I haven't known them that long, feels like they have been there all along.

3. Some things are not worth losing friendships for! 

I remember being in a situation where I felt that I have every right to be angry and offended over a friend's action. However when I calmed down and thought of what my reaction would have done even if I felt that I had every legitimate reason to feel entitled to be angry, I calculated that it was not worth losing a friendship for.

A favourite speaker once said - if you overlook my imperfections, I will agree to overlook yours.

4. We all need grace - getting what we don't deserve - and if we have experienced grace from THE Creator, it makes it easier to extend grace to others.

Someone once said that one of the best test to a lasting friendship is when they get past offenses.

At the end of the day it would be nice if this was known as a  venue where anyone reading will leave encouraged, hopeful and joyful. At least to all five of you who regularly read my blog! (Haha - thanks!) And, if after reading this you feel like giving me a piece of your mind, will you sleep on it? And if you still feel the same way afterwards, maybe we are due for a catch up anyway. :-)