Friday, October 17, 2014

Looking back

I have just spent the last half hour re-reading my blog posts surrounding our journey of infertility and with our miscarriages. Tears formed in my eyes as I was taken back to some of those dark, lonely days. Yet here I sit - almost 35 weeks pregnant - spending my days nesting getting ready to greet this new little person.

For those of you who know us well and have journeyed with us these last 4 years we have tried to add a new member to our family, you will know how hard it has been for us. You may have seen the tears, angry outbursts, hopelessness, and grief. You may have listened as we tossed and turned the different options for growing our family around from IVF to foster care to adoption. You may have held our hand as we lost another little life to miscarriage August last year.

I want to take this moment to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Honestly it has been such a long journey and I still have days where I can't believe we are here, about to welcome a baby into the world.

Thank you for the meals you cooked us.

Thank you for the play dates with James to give us some rest.

Thank you for listening even when you had no idea what to say in response.

Thank you for crying with us.

Thank you for encouraging us.

Thank you for distracting us when we needed time out.

But most of all, I want to say to those who are still on the journey, to those who are still waiting for their 'rainbow' baby or even their first baby, to those who have suffered loss through miscarriage, still birth and child loss - I want to say to you that I love you so much and my heart is so full for you. I have felt your pain. I have walked where you walked - perhaps not exactly the same steps but a similar journey just the same. I just want to be able to love you in any way I can and yet often I have no idea how, despite having been there myself.

I want to encourage you not with empty words and promises that it gets better or that eventually you will receive your long waited for child. The harsh reality is that sometimes this just isn't the truth of it. I want to encourage you to discover who you are in the middle of the journey. While looking back at old blog posts I found two that brought to light how I spent time doing this just before we found out we were pregnant this 4th time around.

One post I wrote was on Identity. It looked at where we get our identity from which is particularly relevant when we feel like failures due to our lack of being able to conceive and carry a child to full term. Another post was about Reflecting and making changes. I encourage you to have a read and perhaps take this time to really evaluate how you are doing and where you are going. I'm not talking about increasing your self image or trying to justify things. I'm hoping that you will be able to discover more about who God made you to be and who you are in Him. I'm hoping that you will draw closer to Him and get your needs met by Him and not by the flimsy things of this world that can fall away in an instant. I'm hoping that despite what heartache you are currently going through that you will find rest in this time of reflection, that you will find space to grieve and space to process. I'm hoping that by doing these things and taking the time to really look at your life that you will be able to come to a new understanding and a new hope for whatever the future holds, knowing that God's plan truly is the best possible for you no matter how much we want things to be different sometimes. It made me laugh seeing a post two months before we discovered we were pregnant this time around that I had written about putting a pause on our fertility journey and how because of what I had been doing by reflecting and looking at identity, that I was ok with taking this time out. I am not in anyway suggesting the dreaded "just stop trying to get pregnant and it will happen". I know this isn't helpful and don't believe it for a second! I just find it a blessing that when I took the focus off ME and put it on HIM that I became better equipped to walk the path we had to walk.

I pray that you will find some rest and peace dear ones. I pray that things happen for you as you dream they would. But most of all I pray for you to be able to still find the joy and blessing that life is even in the midst of the trials and pain. I pray that you will find there is still life to be lived and that it doesn't have to be taken over by your pain. There is a release waiting for you, a God who wants to carry that pain and burden if you will let Him. So take a leap and let go. Face it and then allow Him to comfort you as you mourn and deal with the hard times. I hope that soon there will be a time when you can look back and see your journey through different eyes, as a journey that built your character.

We also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

*I love reading your comments! Thanks! *

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pancreatic Cancer

Recently my family has been rocked with the sudden news that my Dad has terminal Pancreatic Cancer. It seems to have come out of nowhere and we are all pulling together to help Dad and each other through this time.

My Dad is being so incredibly strong throughout his diagnosis and his Chemo treatment. Whilst suffering through pain and illness, he is still attending his grandchildren's birthday parties, his rugby club's rugby games, and having a laugh with family and friends at church. He is so strong in his faith and it is really inspiring to those around him.

My siblings and I (with special thanks to Steven and Sarah who set it up!) have set up a fundraiser to help Mum and Dad out at this time with the medical and life expenses they are facing whilst not being able to work due to the nature of the treatments and illness. My brother Joe is going to shave his head if we can raise $5k. Our Mum has also courageously put her hand up to say that she too will shave her head if we reach $15k. Several other family members including my husband Nick have said they will join them too to help the fundraising. The more we raise - the more family members that will shave their heads!

If you would like to keep updated on Dad's progress and also check out the fundraising photos and videos that will be uploaded as they happen, please take the time to check out our fundraising website here. If you would like to donate that would also be fantastic - the website is secure and done via credit/debit card using the Paypal system (which you don't have to have a paypal account to use). Please feel free to share this around to help us reach our goals!

Thanks everyone for your support!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Our Children

Today is a special day. Today is the day we were due to have our little baby we lost at 6 weeks last August. It has me thinking about our children.

March 25th 2008, the due date of our first child. I spent the day crying and writing a letter to our precious little one who we named Jessie when we miscarried on the 12th of August at 9 weeks pregnant. We had spent 7 months trying to conceive and were thrilled to find out we were expecting a baby! Sadly a few days after we found out I spent a day in hospital while our baby slowly passed from my body. I hadn't had any symptoms of pregnancy and with my cycle being all over the place we didn't know we were pregnant until I was nearly 9 weeks.

James and I at Taylor Dam in New Zealand, the place Nick and I had gone to cry after we miscarried 2 years earlier.

In August we will celebrate James' 5th birthday! He is our second child even though many consider him to be our first. We will always remember our Jessie even though we never got the chance to know if we are remembering a boy or girl. Of course instead of explaining all of this to most people we just answer with "yes, James is our only child". Sometimes it's just not worth it to get into an explanation with a stranger.

Our big school boy :)

James has been our blessing and our bright spark. We love him so terribly much and are so thankful to have his smiley little face in our lives. He brings us so much joy even amidst the trialling times of parenting. James my darling, I love you!

We recently named our little one we lost in August Bailey. Today we would have been due to have this little one and celebrate his or her arrival. Again sadly we miscarried at 6 weeks. I didn't have any symptoms except extreme nausea but that had continued on from the fertility medication I had taken so I'm not sure if it was pregnancy related as my hormone levels were not very high.

Today we have reason to celebrate as well. In November we will welcome our 4th child! We are incredibly blessed to have conceived NATURALLY with no fertility assistance as we had put off trying while I was in the beginning stages of my year of study so we wouldn't be due before my school year finishes. Sometimes for all our plans God knows a better way and better timing and we will be due the day my oral presentation of my literature review / thesis is due! I am not sure what's going to happen with study yet but we will figure that out. Unlike all my other pregnancies (including James) symptoms this time have been very present! All day nausea and some dry retching (ugh), breasts that feel like they've been hit with baseball bats, extreme tiredness, and crying at the drop of a hat (or Nick saying he didn't like the nursery colours I picked out - he was joking but I burst into tears!) My blood tests have all come back very strong and this in conjunction with my strong symptoms encourages us that this little one is going strong.

At just over 7 weeks, I have had people wonder why we have told some people this early - especially when we have had two miscarriages in the past. Nick and I talked about what we wanted to do and in the end we decided that we really appreciated the support and understanding we got from our family and friends during our miscarriages. It would have been hard for us to go through that alone. Another reason, and my main one, is that we consider this baby to be a real, live baby even from this young. We will celebrate our children no matter how long we have them. If you knew that your child was only going to live until their 1st birthday, would you remained worried, ignoring and not acknowledging that child with your family and friends, trying not to be excited and thankful for that year? Or would you cherish each moment, each milestone, each day you get to spend with that child. For us we are choosing to be positive and to cherish these days. After all, none of us know how long our children will be with us anyway.

So please, whilst I appreciate your concern for our 'premature excitement' - keep it to yourself. We have decided to celebrate this little miracle every day we have him or her with us - both in the womb and once they are born. Celebrate with us!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Good Wife - Part 4

Welcome to part 4!

7. Listen to him.
You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the right time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Ok. First off I will say that I don't agree with the last part of that point - his topics of conversation being more important than yours.

Putting that aside, have you ever come home and been barraged with complaints and quick talk that doesn't let up? Ever think "Gee, just let me get in the door first!"? The moment when your husband gets home should be a moment of greeting and a sigh of relief for both of you. Time to just spend a couple minutes having a kiss and a hug and greeting each other again. Often James will run up to Nick as soon as he walks in the door, jabbering away with quick conversation. Nick will often respond with "just let me put my things away and get changed first buddy". He needs a moment to sort himself out first and not be smothered by information. 

8. Make the evening his.
Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, and his real need to be at home and relax.

This point again is one I have contention with. We plan our evenings together with what we are going to do. Whether this be heading out to a Bible study, relaxing at home, or one of us going out to spend time with friends. I believe that both of us need a time out at night time, one of us from work and the other from a day of juggling our son and study. I do not however begrudge Nick a night out or a night of peace - time to himself. It is more often me going out at night to see friends than Nick so if he ever mentions going out I'll happily agree and encourage him in it. We usually prefer to go out to friends places together anyway. I do understand "his real need to be at home and relax" though. Having had 8 hours at work plus a 3 hour round trip to get there and back - Nick needs and deserves a night of peace and relaxation!

9. Your goal.
Try to make sure that your home is a place of peace and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit

You may have guessed already but yes - this IS my goal. I must be the first to admit here that recently our home has been chaotic with me starting study and with house guests. One of the last things it has been is peaceful and tranquil! There are still times of quiet rest and time to renew though. I haven't been the best at creating this in the past couple of weeks and really feel I have dropped the ball on this one. I find I am getting grumpy and short-tempered quickly and it is something I am going to work on. 

Yes - I want to aim for this goal. No - we don't always have it in our house. Yes - sometimes that is because of me, my fault. No - I am not going to try and hide this. Yes - I want to be open and honest so that you understand that these are guidelines, helpful hints, suggestions that will not always be able to be perfectly followed. I don't hold myself to a standard of perfection. Rather I aim to do my best and hope that the shortfalls along the way can become lessons for myself, my family and others. 

I am a real person. A real woman. One who is flawed in many ways but who also aims to be the woman God created me to be. I won't hide from this world and will share my struggles and triumphs equally when it is appropriate. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


I had a conversation with a woman who was hurting today. Like me she suffers from PCOS. Like me she recently went through a devastating miscarriage and is trying to pick up the pieces left over of herself.

Ever since I was young I have wanted to be a mother. I would answer the question posed by teachers "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with "a mother". It was then repeated "yes, but what do you want to do?" - answer - "be a mum!" They would sigh and shake their heads - obviously thinking I was a no-hoper who had no ambition.

The truth is, I had huge ambition. I wanted to care for and nurture children of my own and raise them to be amazing contributors to our world. If that isn't a respectable ambition then I don't know what is. The young lady I was talking to today also has the ambition to be a mother. What happens when that fails? What happens when your ambitions lie out of your reach?

Often women who suffer from fertility issues feel like failures. Our identity is so wrapped up in our struggle to conceive that we feel totally worthless when we are unable to. Worthless. Failures. Less of a woman.

So are we truly worthless? Should our whole value depend on whether we are able to produce offspring? Where should we find our identity? Jonathan Pearson wrote in a blog post recently:

"...we often look for (our) identity in things that aren't stable enough to support it. We look for our identity in the temporary and non-satisfying things. We move from thing to thing and are left with emptiness and unfulfilled potential."

Being a mother is something unstable. Sadly not all of us are able to conceive and carry children. As much as it sounds like a wonderful thing to find fulfillment in - motherhood - it still is something that can fall away.

So then, if we aren't to find our identity in what we do or what we have, where is a stable place to find it?

When an artist creates a work of art, they are the ones who are truly know what it represents, what its meaning is. They know what inspired them to create the masterpiece. They are the ones who give it a name. They know what the piece was created to do and the purpose it has. Sure other people can have opinions on what the piece signifies to them but only the artist can truly understand the depth of what the piece was intended to be.

Humans, with all our incredibly intricate cells and DNA, are works of art. We were created by an incredibly creative artist who not only knew what we were designed to be but also what our purpose is. We can allow others to describe us and put a value or price tag on us. We can let them name us and decide on our worth. But what does our creator, our artist, the one who truly knows us to the last hair on our head and the tiniest cell in our body - who does he say we are and where our value lies?

In Ephesians 1:1 it says:

"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ,... He had His eye on us, had designs for us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."

We find our true identity in Jesus Christ. We find out what we were made for and why.
I love this verse in Jeremiah 17:7-8:

"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord... They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit."

When we find our identity deep in the heart of Christ, we are able to hold strong when trials and hard times come along. We know then that who we are is not dependant on our circumstances.

I have found so much on this topic today in the book by Rick Warren "The Purpose Driven Life". I could almost share the whole book with you as it talks about what our purpose is and where to find our identity. I will simply leave you with one passage to ponder and encourage you to read the book.

"It's not about you.
The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It's far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose... Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you won't discover your life's meaning by looking within yourself. You've probably tried that already. You didn't create yourself, so there is no way you can tell what you were created for! If I handed you an invention you had never seen before, you wouldn't know its purpose, and the invention itself wouldn't be able to tell you either. Only the creator or the owner's manual could reveal its purpose."

Maybe it's time to read the owner's manual?

*Thanks for your comments! I really love reading them!*

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Good Wife Guide - Part 3

First off - my apologies for not posting last week. Things caught up on me. Here is part three...

4. Prepare the children.
    Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces, comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

5. Minimise all noise.
    At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

6. Be happy to see him.
    Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

I am doing these three points together this week. To me they all seem to fit together. It is all about the environment and mood your husband comes home to.

My husband travels almost 1.5 hours to and from work each day. That's 3 hours of travel a day! He leaves the house just after 6am to start work early at around 7.30am. Then he works until 4 / 4.30pm and heads home again so he can spend time with our son before he goes to bed. That is one busy day!

Imagine the noise of public transport. The hours at work amongst colleagues. The busyness of the city. I think making home that bit more peaceful and calm when he gets home is necessary! I have said in previous posts that I want our home to be a haven. A calm place. A refuge from the crazy busyness of the world. I will talk more on making my home a haven, calm place and refuge for others in another post about hospitality.

When my hubby gets home from work he is met with happy smiles and excited cries from our son. At least this is what happens most days when we are not having tantrums! James loves it when Dad gets home! Nick often has to say "hang on buddy, just let me take off my shoes first and get changed" as James just wants to smother him. It is not usually quiet when my hubby gets home which is something I do want to work on. Often Nick and James will settle down for some quiet activity (lego, Wii) while I finish dinner though and have some time out together. As for James being neat and clean - he is usually getting ready for dinner then so has washed hands etc anyway. I'm not sure about the kids "playing the part" of angels though :p

I try to make it a priority to greet my husband at the door when he comes home. This dates back to our days when we were engaged. We completed pre-marital counselling which was required by the church we were getting married at - something I would strongly recommend to anyone getting married! During our counselling we were asked to name three things we would like the other person to do for us more often. One of the things Nick asked was that I greet him at the door when he comes home from work. I had done that several times when he had come home from University and he really appreciated a happy, smiling, kissing woman to greet him at the end of the day. Now days that we are married and living together, it still puts a huge smile on his face when I come down the hallway and give him a big ol' smooch when he gets home. It's one of the ways we keep a "spark" in our relationship. James giggles and thinks it's funny when Mum and Dad have a kiss and cuddle in the hallway or the kitchen. It often ends with each of us putting a hand under his arm and lifting him up to join in the hugs and kisses. He loves it - and so do we.

 It has been famously said...

I absolutely agree! The same goes for Mothers.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An up / down week

This week has been both good and bad.

The good:

I was incredibly blessed to receive in the mail a copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. Wow! It was such a wonderful surprise! I'm thinking that someone who reads my blog has had it sent to me and whoever you are - I am so so thankful! I absolutely love it! I have only read snip-its so far but it's awesome!

Another awesome exciting part of my week was my doctors visit today. I just went for something small but while I was there they got me to jump on the scales and I was excited to discover that I have reached my goal weight of 60kg! I am so excited! So over the past 4 months I have lost 16kg total! Yippeee! I also measured my mannequin which I had set to my measurements in October and discovered that when compared to my measurements now, I have lost between 2-3 inches (5-8cm) all over! No wonder why my dress I wore at a wedding that I made in October doesn't fit anymore! So I have adjusted my mannequin and it is now on it's tightest setting for the hips and waist. Oh dear - better not lose any more or I won't be able to use the mannequin! So I am very excited anyway. I feel so much lighter and now when I pick up my 17kg son (just 1kg more than I used to have in excess weight) I can't believe I carried around all that extra weight! No wonder I was tired!

The bad/sad news this week for me is the Doctor Who experience coming up in March. "Whoniverse" is something I've been so excited about since it was announced in December with the chance to meet my favorite Doctor - Matt Smith! He is going to be joined by Karen "Amy Pond" Gillan and Arthur "Rory Williams" Darvill. Wow what a trio to have down under! This is the first (and most likely ONLY) time they will be in Australia and will be a once in a lifetime experience!

Sadly, prices were announced yesterday and the price just for entry is $150. I was prepared for that and somehow hopeful to be able to sell product and raise the money to pay this and then save up to purchase photographs and autographs in March while there. Unfortunately due to time and other restraints - photo opportunities and autograph opportunities will only be given to those who purchase the $650 Silver tickets or $950 Gold tickets! I am so sad and disappointed! If I had time I would save for the $650 but sadly the tickets will go on sale within the fortnight. It would have been the most incredible thing to meet these people and get photos with them. Wow I get a bit fan-girly giggly just thinking about it LOL. I'm not sure how I'd actually react if I got to meet "Doctor" Matt Smith! I think I'd giggle and just get really flustered! I did much the same when I met Colin Ferguson from Eureka at Comic Con last year!

So yes - I am a total geek / fangirl / freak / Whovian! I still hope and pray that somehow a miracle would get me a Silver ticket but I am working hard to make a general admission ticket possible. Fingers crossed aye!

*Thank you for your comments! I really love to read them!*

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Time for a break

Sigh. Another month. Another failed attempt to make a baby.

But this month is different. This month, I'm ok with the failure. I am a little sad but honestly ok.

You see this year I have made the decision to go back to study. I have one more year to go until I will be a practising counsellor! This last year has been on hold since I got pregnant with James and now that he is starting school, it's time to realise my dream. I made this decision after going through the fertility stuff this month so didn't know if I would be tackling both baby and study at once. Now I know I will be able to concentrate on my study. So we won't be doing fertility for the next 3 months until I wouldn't have a due date during my study. 

I am becoming more and more surprised though that the further I get from our second miscarriage, the more ok I am becoming about not getting pregnant again. I don't know if it's God working on my heart or just changing expectations. I am just getting the feeling that perhaps I won't have any more 'natural' children. I still want more kids, don't get me wrong on that. It's just that I'm starting to feel more drawn and open to foster care and adoption. I've always had a heart to adopt and Nick and I were foster carers in New Zealand before we moved here. With the proposed changes to foster-to-adopt and adoption that Tony Abbott is making, this is becoming more and more possible for us. 

So I'm ok this month. I am looking forward to studying this year and hope to bring some insights from what I am learning to my blog posts. 

*Thank you for your comments! I really enjoy reading them!*

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Good Wife Guide - Part Two

Today I will cover points 2 and 3.

2. Prepare yourself.
    Take 15 minute to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it. 

I like to look good for my husband. Over the last 5 months after our second miscarriage, I have lost 14 kg (2 to go until my goal weight!!) Losing this weight has really helped me to become aware of my personal appearance. I'm not saying in a vain prideful way, but in a way that I look after myself and try to make more of an effort to present myself in a clean, tidy and nice way. I am usually still in bed when my husband leaves for work at 6am. If I have put some effort into my appearance that day and dress nicely and put a little make-up on, he really seems to notice it and compliments me with smiles and sneaky cuddles when he gets home. 

Let's face it. Men are designed to be approving of things that are beautiful visually. This is why the porn industry attracts more male customers than female. I want to be the most beautiful woman my husband has seen all day. The woman that makes him want to come home quickly to spend time with at the end of the day. 
I have also found that it really benefits me to have a few minutes rest in the late afternoon (usually just before he gets home). It's good to put my feet up with my son while he watches a little TV and have a breather before the madness of dinner, bath and bedtime descends. 

3. Clear away clutter. 
    Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up school books, toys, papers, etc and then run a dust cloth over the tables. Over the winter months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

This is something I have been working on lately. I get my son to help and we go through the house at around 4.30/5pm before my husband gets home and just put things back in their place. I must admit though that I very rarely dust and it is something I should probably think more about! I do wipe down the kitchen bench and clear everything away though. It helps us to have the house tidied up from the day's activities before dinner time so that we can eat, play outside with the neighbours and catch up with them after dinner, quick bath and then story time and bed to finish off the day. 
I would LOVE to have a fireplace to have a nice warm spot for my husband to put his feet up and take a breather when he gets home in the winter months. We get more hot weather here in Western Australia than cold so we have air conditioning only installed in our house. In the summertime I will have my husband give me a text when his train is nearly at our station so I can give him a ride home so he doesn't have to walk the 10 minutes in the high heat. If he walks home I will get him a tall glass of ice cold water to help cool him down after his sweaty walk home. 

Who wants to come home to this??

My husband works really hard in often boring and tiring situations at the office. I love the fact that he can come home (when I am organised and following this advice) and find rest and relaxation. I don't want him to come home to chaos and mess so that he has to brace himself before he walks in the door. It really helps our whole household by creating this haven. I definitely get a lift from it! I DO get satisfaction from providing some comfort and care to my husband. I love him and want to make our home the calm port in the storm of life. 

*Thanks to everyone who has been commenting! I really enjoy reading them!*

Friday, January 3, 2014

Reflecting and making changes 2014

2013. Hard year. One of my hardest.

Today I have been sitting in my newly organised and clean bedroom (with drawers!!) in my rocking chair and having some me time while James sleeps (he's TOTALLY going through a growth spurt!) I have intended to do these reflection pages created by a friend of mine - Amanda Viviers - for a few days now but our house has been full and busy. You can read Amanda's blog and download the reflection pages here.

I must say, these pages were great! I had been thinking during the last month that I could not wait to get out of 2013 and move on to brighter futures. My thoughts were that 2013 was nothing but an awful year. While doing these pages and writing down my answers, it became clear to me the good things that happened in 2013. Things that had been overshadowed by the negative experiences.

What was surprising is that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these things were to do with spending quality time alone with Nick and as a family with James. These are the times I value the most. My greatest moments of 2013 were when I was surrounded and spending quality time with my family. Quality time. Not watching TV. Not sitting in the same room on two different laptops. Not sewing while James plays in the other room. Quality time. My surprise weekend away with Nick. The times we have gone out as a family for a special day (even sometimes the movies). Going to Comic Con with Nick and again with James the second day. Our trip to New Zealand. Playing board games with Nick. Dreaming about our future. Talking. Sharing smiles and cheeky grins over the top of James' head when he does something funny, geeky, silly, or intelligent.

And so at the end of my reflections today, I am left not remembering 2013 for the hard year it was but remembering the beautiful. Remembering the gentle. Remembering the kind. Remembering the funny. Remembering the sweet. Remembering those quick secret moments of joy.

Two of the final prompts in the reflection pages talk about what you are prepared to do differently in 2014. So instead of New Year's Resolutions, this year I am just going to aim to work on these areas:

  • Limit TV time. Turn it off when you're not actually purposefully watching something.
  • Monthly out-of-the-house dates with Nick.
  • Walking to school with James to grow in my health and fitness.
  • Allow myself at least 1 hour a week of journal writing or reflection time alone.
  • Keep the house in a better state of cleanliness and order (which I've been already working on the last month or so). Re-do the garden!
  • Be more disciplined with my time.
  • Save money.
  • Value James and spend more one on one QUALITY time with him.
  • Make more of an effort to connect with God. 
  • Make relationships a priority. 
  • Don't be satisfied with 'just passing' my study - aim to get great results!
  • Say NO! I over commit often - I will be saying no more often this year.
  • Be more disciplined with my blogging.
  • Complete at least 7 things on my 30 before 30 list.
Why not head on over to Amanda's blog and do these reflection pages for yourself?

The Good Wife Guide - Part One

Today I will address the first point of the Good Wife Guide.

1. Have Dinner ready.
Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

My husband is ALWAYS hungry when he gets home from work. He travels just over an hour each way to work everyday and by the time he gets home it is around 6pm. This one just makes sense in our house. If I don't have a meal ready by the time he gets home, we eat much later and our son is tired and cranky and well past hungry. That's the practical side of it. 

I am a stay-at-home Mum and yes most of these things are more suited to someone in my situation. I don't expect it would be an easy thing to do if you worked full time. You may even get home after your husband does. This is where the attitude comes in. Of course you don't have to cook each night. My husband shares the cooking and helps out most nights. Let me put it this way for you:

Imagine. You get home after a busy day and pull into the driveway just as your husband also arrives home. Both of you are tired and have had crazy days at work. Both of you just want to relax and unwind. Your husband turns to you and says "Honey, go and lie down or read some more of that book you are reading. I'll sort dinner out". He won't take no for an answer. You gratefully lie down on your comfortable bed and read your latest novel obsession all the while hearing him potter around the kitchen. He comes in to tell you dinner is ready and you go out to find he has cooked your favourite meal all ready for you, just the way you like it. 

Ok. So what do you feel right now? Are you grateful? Relaxed? Impressed? Feeling full of love and appreciation for your husband? He didn't have to do that for you. It was his choice to put you above himself and give you time out. Take that feeling and realise that this is the gift you can give him when you choose to serve him in this way. 

But what about me you ask? What about my needs? Why should he get let off the hook and I do all the work?

It is this kind of attitude that can be lethal to a marriage. Me, Me, Me, Me. If both partners of a marriage went into it only thinking about themselves, what would that look like? How would that help create an atmosphere of love and selflessness? How will that teach your children to be caring and kind?

You can't do anything about your husband's motives apart from nagging him (unless of course he reads this and takes on board the advice as well). All you can control is yourself and your motives. Who knows, just like it made you feel loved and want to be thankful and reciprocate when you thought of your husband cooking for you like that - maybe your actions doing that will encourage him to be more giving as well.