Thursday, July 4, 2013

Patience and Perfection

We recently discussed a talk on 'Patience" by President Dieter Uchtdof in our Family Home Evening.  Our discussion focussed particularly on the importance of applying patience to the journey we all have as we work our way toward perfection.  We noted that many people are so burdened by feelings of inadequacy and a lack of belief in themselves that it's especially hard to continue on in the face of repeated failures to accomplish perfection.

So I wanted to pass on a thought I've had about our need to be patient with ourselves:

toddler walking stages

Babies, children, toddlers are wonderful!  They try, and try, and fall or fail, and try again, until they 'get it'.  We know that eventually, they will walk, talk, toilet themselves, say 'Mummy, I love you'; even learn to ride a bike, swim across the pool, and read by themselves.  Eventually, their toes will touch the floor while they are sitting on the pew in church; their fingers will eventually reach the doorknob, the top of the doorway, (and sometimes, in the case of teenage boys straining to be picked for the basketball team), the ceiling.  These things will all, in the normal course of life, always be achieved, just as surely as a 10 kilo snack of chocolate is going to show up on the scales.   

Babies don't ever ponder the possibility of failure.  It just never seems to occur to them!  So they keep trying, until they do advance; achieve; succeed.  And we take their eventual success just as much for granted; we also believe that their destiny is to be successful.  (Except for the universal proviso of young mums who sometimes wonder if their child will ever sleep through, or ever be toilet-trained, or stop wetting the bed.  They will  :)

Little Ballerina's Dream painting by Roberta Martin

To look at a baby or a small child, it could seem incredible that they will be able to accomplish so many intricate, fabulous things one day.  Except that we know what is possible, and probable, because we have already managed it ourselves.  How sad it would be to ever see a baby just give up on trying - to walk, or talk, or feed themselves, knowing as we do know, the progress that would have occurred if they had just continued their efforts.   

I wonder if this is the way that Heavenly Father looks at us.  He sees us fall over, again and again, and I think that His response probably somewhat mirrors our response to our own children: a warm and vitally interested desire to encourage and support, and a feeling of overwhelming love for the child: walking or not; successful or, not just yet.  Perhaps He loves us in the same way that we love our babies, even when they can't do anything much yet!  Perhaps He smiles understandingly, as we occasionally do, when the baby who is learning to sit up, puddles over onto their side, or sometimes falls flat on their face, or even when one throws a tantrum.  Maybe it really doesn't bother Him that much that it takes us a while to learn what we need to - since He knows that eventually, with His help, we will, inevitably, succeed - if we will only choose to disregard all notions of failure.

Girls at Piano Part Trois by ~padraig13 on deviantART

I remember with a lot of loving humour the picture of our oldest daughter, Tammy, learning to play her first piano piece for the Beginner's exam.  She sat at our piano each day, plonking out the few simple notes, trying over and over again to play the childish tune, before throwing her hands to her eyes and crying, with real anguish one day, "I can't do it, I just can't do it!  I'll NEVER be able to learn this - it's too hard!"   

Fast forward to her seventeenth year, to the exceptionally difficult and lovely music pieces she practised each day then, in preparation for her Diploma of Music exam.   How wonderful it was to hear her filling our home with such intricate and beautiful melodies..

How wonderful to know that our stumbling, occasionally faltering, and even our sometimes emotionally hysterical attempts now to sound a tune, are one day, most certainly, if we 'continue in patience', destined to become performances of great beauty too!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Importance of Beauty?

My grandmother once told me most sincerely that she considers the most beautiful woman in the world to be Queen Elizabeth.  I was surprised at the time.   I believe that what Gran saw as beautiful was the queen's great sense of duty as much as her graciousness and comeliness. 

It seems to me that the best people I have ever met or known of have not generally been the best looking.   Not that I have anything against good looks - I appreciate and enjoy beauty very much, but it's just one part of what we can be, and surely not an overly important part, when all is considered. 

I wonder if our modern world is so replete with an over-abundance of human images everywhere, (in mirrors, reflective windows and other surfaces; in photographs and pictures, in magazines, on posters, in advertising, through media, etc, etc, etc), that we've become hyper-sensitive to this one aspect of humanity - giving it an importance far beyond what it deserves. 

Added to that is our modern way of interacting with many people each day only by viewing them and having them view us, usually very briefly, as we quickly pass one another along our busy way.  The impression we are able to make upon others is therefore reliant upon what they see in that one brief glimpse. There's some pressure!  We are evaluated time and again by only our appearance. 

Before escalated population growth and the miracles of modern transport, most people lived all of their lives among a relatively small community of people in an often quite limited geographical area.  People got to know each other for who they really were in those circumstances.   Perhaps looks were less important in a situation where the way you acted had greater relevance.  A beautiful soul could perhaps be truly appreciated only under such a sustained and discerning light.

I suppose another factor in our over-concern with personal appearance is our over-abundance of free time.  If I had to work longer and harder each day, I doubt I'd be spending so much time worrying about my looks, or anyone else's.    You know those lovely, wrinkled and weathered faces we sometimes see in National Geographic photos of aged peasants?  Those faces look like they've got more on their minds than just visage, don't you think?   

I sometimes consider that the Saviour of the world was described with the words: “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."  Physical beauty does not appear to be a requisite for true greatness, goodness, valour, usefulness or capacity.  Strange then, that it has assumed so much importance!

Considering a little about why I worry so much about appearance is not, unfortunately, the same as not worrying about it anymore...  But perhaps it helps a little :)

Climbing Mountains

I only ever went on one school camp, that I can remember. It was when I was about 15 years old and in year 10. Our grade of about 300 students traveled up from Adelaide to stay in cabin accommodation in the South Australian Flinders Ranges. The highlight of our week was to be a climb to the top of the highest point in the Ranges, St. Mary's Peak.

I was worried leading up to the day we were to make the climb.  I was very skinny back then, and not particularly strong.  I was afraid that I might embarrass myself in front of all the other students by being too weak to make it to the top.  The teachers took us to a hill near our camp on the day before the climb, as a kind of practice.  I remember making it only part of the way up before I sat down, puffing, feeling exhausted, and quite hopeless about my prospects for the next day.

The climb up St. Mary's began with a gentle walk for the first few kilometres.  We were in single file, and I wasn't doing well from the first.  I was about two thirds of the way back in the line of students and teachers, and failing fast.  It didn't look as if I would get very far.  So - I put on a big burst of strength in order to pass all of the people in front of me, until I reached the front of the line.  Eventually, I was one of only nine people to reach the top of the mountain, and was the only girl or woman to get there.

It was good to stand on the peak and spend some moments enjoying the view.  It was wonderful to know that I had achieved the goal, and had not dropped out along the way.  Surprising that so many had. More than that though, I learned a lesson that has helped me out many times since.

I have no doubt that had I stayed back in the line, I would have failed to get very far.  By getting out in front of the crowd, the rest of the line seemed to propel me forward, actually bolstering me with the strength I needed to get to the top.  I realize that everyone is different - that perhaps line position would not have been so pivotal in importance to others. But it was for me.  Why?  It just seemed easier when I could see the goal ahead clearly, and did not feel that I was being held back by anyone, or that I had to travel at someone else's pace.  It was easier to be succeeding than it would have been to be failing.

I was reminded of my experience with this some years later, when I read the story of 'The Five Dollar Lawn', as retold by Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone in Conference, 1973.  If you would like to read it the story is here.

I really love that story!  It seems to echo my own experience, and now my belief, that we have to aim for the highest and the best if we hope to succeed with the best of what we have in ourselves;  that failure comes more often from setting our sights too low rather than from aiming too high.

A good brother in a Sunday School class questioned whether aiming for perfection is just too daunting for some. I think that not aiming for perfection is much more so!  I believe that we are children of God, and that eventual perfection is our true and natural endowment.

To achieve that end, I believe in my heart that we need generally to ask more of ourselves, not less.

(This is a reprint)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Inspiration for Perfection

Our women's Relief Society class at church on Sunday was about patience.  One sweet sister made the comment that it is sometimes hard to be patient with yourself when you can see others around you who seem to be so much further ahead and more successful with everything in life than you are. 
 "Don't worry," the kind teacher assured her,  "they just look perfect on the outside.  They have just as many faults and troubles as you!  You know that sister that everyone talks about: the one who bakes her own bread, makes her children's clothes, always has her house tidy, does her scripture reading every day?  She doesn't exist!!"  And many in the class laughed a little and seemed to feel better.  

I remember my wonderful mother-in-law, who was a stake Relief Society president for many years, telling me years ago (when I was a young mother), about a large women's meeting her stake had recently enjoyed.  One of her counsellors spoke about 'this mythical Mormon woman', who seemed Perfect in every way.  "And do you know what?!"  the speaker assured the congregation of mormon women, "she doesn't exist!  And if she did exist, she wouldn't inspire me!  I'm inspired by You!  By your faults!  Because I can't relate to that 'perfect woman'!  I can relate to you!"  My faithful mother-in-law told me how much the talk had meant to all the women there; how much everyone there had loved it.

"I don't think we need to be threatened by perfection,"  I ventured to comment to the teacher on Sunday.  "I think there is so much to learn from each other, and I am so grateful to have examples around me of people who can do so many things better than I do."

"Yes, but if anyone seems to be too perfect, it's just discouraging!" 

What then of the wonderful gift of our Saviour's perfect example, I thought?   Are we to feel badly about ourselves because He was without fault?

Isn't one of the greatest blessings we have here on earth, not only the perfect teachings, but also the perfect example of our Saviour?  Are we not able to take great strength not only from the teachings of our prophets and apostles, but also in great measure from the example of their lives too?  As with the lives of so many other good and great people, both the humble and the feted, that we are so blessed to have around us, or to know something of?

My grandmother's example, for instance, taught me that you really could have a beautiful, perfectly clean, perfectly well-ordered home, and that such a home could provide a strong base for a peaceful family life.  I wouldn't have known that so well if I hadn't seen it modelled in her home.  Other examples I have garnered from friends, leaders, family members, and much-appreciated biographies, have taught me that I can be more loving, more hard-working, more patient, more forgiving, more generous, more brave and valiant, more humble and meek, more studious, more spiritually attuned than what I currently am - and have shown me that perfection, and certainly improvement, is veritably attainable in all these areas.    

I don't find inspiration in under-achievement.  How could I?  I'm already there!  If I am to perfect myself, it won't be from looking to people's faults, or stepping on others, but will be by having kind hands, loving faces, and fine examples before me, to help raise me up.  Before and above all others, we have the example of the Saviour to guide us all.  

Perfection in others is surely the very opposite of discouraging!  If someone else can do it - isn't it likely that you and I can too?  Are we not all children of our loving Heavenly Parents?  Are we not all sent here with the same divine potential, and with the same sure promise of celestial success, according only to our own choices?  

I cannot think of a single person I know who I don't look to for an example in some thing, or that I can't learn from.  I'm constantly amazed and delighted at how truly wonderful people are.  It's a big part of my testimony that we are in reality, all children of God - especially when  I can see and feel the truth of that in the people I come in contact with each day.

I'm always amazed when people fail to know that about themselves - how infinitely special each of us is.

I believe that a lot of the things that we think of as being faults in ourselves and others, are probably somewhat insignificant in the big scheme of eternal everything.  And that a lot of the kindnesses, and courage shown by many every day, are actually more significant than we currently understand - in much the same way that the stumbles of a toddler learning to walk are really just moments along the way to his knowing how to run: important as part of the process, but eventually all but forgotten in the glow of his eventual, sure success - if he keeps trying, that is.

I'm grateful for your good examples!  In so very many ways, you are more creative, more sociable, more diligent, more insightful, more progressed, more all sorts of wonderful things than I am.  I am so grateful that you are!

So!  Please don't hide your perfections under any kind of bushel.   Your shining lights are helping me to find my way forward and upward too  :)


Monday, July 1, 2013

Whatever I Want

"What are you going to do?"  my husband occasionally asks.

"Whatever I want," I smile in reply.

As Abby explained in the previous post, we three all decided not to be committed to this Blog in the same way any more for now.

But occasionally I would still like to write something up.  The difference is that I am just - you guessed it - going to write, or not write, 'whatever I want.'  To be fair, that has always been largely the case of course.  But I plan to be perhaps less circumspect in my topic choices and write more freely about..  whatever I want!  I'd be very happy if you can find anything among it all that is of some worth to you.

(I know I could have started a new Blog, but decided against it.)

What to expect?  Books, thoughts, beliefs, ideas.. a variety of topics.

I love your comments too! :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The End of all Regularity!

Aaaahh I forgot my post again this morning!  That's been happening a lot lately!  And a lot of stuff is happening for all of us right now, and so after my "Abby, your post isn't up again!" conversation with Mum this morning, we've decided to ditch our regular posting days until further notice!  We may still come on and post, but we don't want to commit to anything and not follow through!

Thank you to all the lovely people who come on and check up on us each day, and for the lovely comments :) We have enjoyed 'meeting' some lovely people here in Blogland, and will keep checking your blogs even if you don't hear from us every day or even every week! :)  We would like to keep posting but have to prioritise 'life' right now.  Perhaps in the future we'll return to regularity! - who knows?  But for now, signing out!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Nail Houses

Pertinacious (adjective):  Holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action.

Mum shared a really interesting article with me the other day (you can read it here), all about Nail Houses - which I hadn't heard of before.  In a nutshell:  You know how sometimes the government needs to purchase a bunch of houses so they can knock them down to make way for a new highway, or a new airport etc. etc?  Well in many parts of China now they seem to have laws that protect homeowners to the point that if they chose not to accept the government's offer and sell their homes so they can be knocked down for new roads etc., then the government can't force them to do it.

So the government (and this is where it all gets just a little fabulous), simply knocks down everything else, and goes ahead with the project anyway.  Sometimes they'll even pull down half of an apartment building, leaving the section containing the apartment that won't sell! This perfect mix of stubbornness on both sides means that some proud homeowners suddenly find themselves living in the middle of a freeway:

Now from what I've read, it seems that sooner or later a house-stopping-the-freeway-from-opening will draw huge national media attention and heavy pressure will rain down on everyone involved.  And then it seems that eventually (as was the case with the above home) the homeowner will sell their home and move, but not until after the Government folds and gives them the much higher asking price they were demanding in the first place.


But of course, it also seems like some simply adjust to life in the middle of the road. 

Which I think is pretty awesome really :)

xo Tammy 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Present Box

Do you have a present box in your home?  This is a simple idea, but if you are not already using it you might find it a handy tip to use.

With seven children to buy for at Christmas and birthdays, (and we tend to go overboard a bit with presents - we still have a sack for each of the grown children!), plus all the gifts they have needed to take when they are attending the birthdays of friends, I've found it a real time and money saver to have a box that I keep more or less full of potential gifts, ready to be used at any time.  Mine is a good-sized cardboard box with a lid, (actually, sometimes two or three boxes), that I keep under the bed or in the bottom of my cupboard.

I also don't love shopping that much.. so whenever there are really great sales on, whether online or at my favourite shops, or whenever I visit the big discount centres like DFO or Harbourtown, I shop 'til I drop and come home with bags full of gifts I think I will need in the future.  I'm a bit like a robot as I whisk  through each store, all programmed up with the names and ages of all our family members, with some ideas of what they might like, my head skimming from side to side, alert to any bargains within the radius of my purview...  - or at least that's how I imagine myself, which makes the whole 'I'm out shopping' thing just a lot more exciting I think :)

Mostly though, I'm pretty much always on the lookout whenever I do need to be at the shops.  So for instance: perhaps I happen to pass Prouds' Jewellers while I am on my way to a haircut, and notice that they have a 60% off sale on all their sterling silver.  I go in, reconnoiter, and emerge 15 minutes later with  a lovely bracelet and earrings for Bethy's birthday in two months, some earrings and a necklace for Tammy for Christmas, 3 lovely little bracelets that were a terrific price, that I think our twin boys might be interested in as birthday presents for friends, etc.  And it all goes in to the present box, to join some books ready for various grandchildren, some children's clothes and toys for next Christmas, some of Abby's favourite hair products that were on a great special, etc, etc.  If you do this all year, you will have almost all you need before you even get to Christmas.

Another of the benefits of shopping in advance is that I miss the dreaded Christmas rush, thank goodness!

Do you like this idea?  Are you already doing something simliar?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Blue Screen of Death!!! - And Sartorial Kiddie Quotes :)

Have you ever heard of the Blue Screen of Death?  It's a computer thing, and it basically means the end of all computer life as you know it..  not good!

Abby has just encountered this tragedy, and while mourning her computer and all the good times they shared, she has been literally unable to post today.  She is hoping to be back on line tomorrow and will post then if possible.

In the meantime, she dictated these few snippets of quotes from the two little girls for me to share with you all. Maggie (age 3) and Ana (age 2) are both very fashion conscious - today's theme :)  

Abby came out of the bathroom this morning with wet hair and began to brush it through.  Maggie was of course already dressed up to the nines.
Maggie:  "Oh dear, Mummy!  Don't come too close, you might get my shoes wet!"  (Her little high heels.)

Maggie hit Ana and Ana was crying.  Abby told Maggie that she needed to apologize.
Maggie: "Ana, I am sorry for hitting you and messing up your dress!"

The girls were playing and Ana was rolling on the ground, then Maggie stood up.
Maggie:  "Quick, Ana!  You better get up - you're crinkling your beautiful skirt!"

(This is re-occurring:)
Maggie: "Mummy, Jesus died, and everybody was so sad!!!"
Mummy:  "And then what happened?"
Maggie:  "Then he was resurrected, and he got new clothes!!"

Every time the family leave the house Maggie rushes to the new full-length mirror, which is near the front door.
Maggie:  "Mummy, I'm just checking myself out...  (gasp) .. and I look Fantastic!!!"  :)

Abby was wearing new earrings and helping Maggie with something.
Maggie:  "Mummy, I love your new earrings!  You look so cute in them!"  :)
Soon after, Abby went outside to where Ana was playing.
Ana:  "Mummy, I love your new earrings!  You so cute!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Change is a'comin'

So it's official.  I've given notice at work, and will be finishing up in a month.  It has been a great job for the last almost seven years and I've learnt a lot. So much, in fact.  I've had lots of great experiences, and met lots of really interesting people.  But it's time for a change and I'm really looking forward to it.  My lease is also up around the same time, and I've decided not to renew so I'll be moving house too.

What's next you ask?

I have absolutely no idea.  I don't have a new job yet, and haven't really applied to many jobs.  I'm not even sure what I'd like to do next.  I realize that's not particularly responsibly - especially since I'm not a woman of leisure who can just afford to holiday for a month in-between jobs.  But at the moment, I'm just so excited with the 'being finished' part, that I'm having trouble focusing completely on the 'starting again' part.

I have dreams of taking off for a few months and traveling the world in-between this job and the next, but the funds aren't really there, so it will probably (hopefully) be a matter of finishing, taking a week or two's break to move house, and then starting a new job.

But that's okay, they say change is as good as a holiday, and I am very much in need of one!

So here's my questions for you:

a) What do you think I should do next?  (honestly, any suggestion is likely to be considered.  The other day I spent a happy half hour thinking about just how casual and stress-free and utopia-like it would be to work as a Sandwich artist at Subway)

b) If you've ever made any huge life changes and they've turned out good or bad, I'd love to hear them.

Four (and a half) weeks to go!!!!

xo Tammy

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Are Little Girls Going Through Puberty So Early?

Many news stories recently have alerted parents of young girls to the as-yet unexplained rise in the prevalence of early-onset puberty, with a new study showing that 15% of girls are beginning puberty at the age of 7 or 8, or even younger!   This is called 'precocious puberty' and is 10 times as common in girls as in boys.

Did you know that girls in the USA now typically enter puberty at the age of 10 or 11?  Apparently, back in the 1700's it was unusual for girls to menstruate before about the age of 17 or 18.   Obviously, improvements in diet and living conditions have impacted the onset age for puberty over the years, but researchers are searching for additional causes.

All of this means that some girls as young as in grade 3 are having to cope with acne, menstruation, growing breasts, underarm and pubic hair, mood swings, and everything else that comes with all those hormone changes.

Getty images

It's a bit horrifying, isn't it?  Or, at the least, concerning.  It's a lot for a young girl to contend with, and doctors worry that children are unlikely to be emotionally prepared enough for puberty at these young ages, and that these girls demonstrate a greater risk of developing behavioural problems.  Girls with early-onset puberty also tend to have lower self-esteem, and to battle poor body image, and engage in high-risk behaviours, such as those leading to unplanned pregnancy.

Furthermore, early onset puberty appears to have links to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Other studies indicate that early-onset puberty may stunt the child's growth, causing her to be shorter.

What are the causes of this phenomenon, and are there any commonsense actions you can take as a parent to reduce or avoid these outcomes?

Obesity is likely to be at least partly to blame - so a fresh, healthy, and balanced diet is key.

Environmental factors, such as exposure to estrogens in plastics, chemicals and foods, are also likely culprits.

Although they admit that they do not yet have all the answers, experts do suggest the following:

  • Encourage our children to 'eat from the farm, not the factory' - to eat more fruits and vegetables than sweets and fats, which will encourage a healthy weight, with less chemicals in the diet.  
  • As much as possible, buy organic, hormone-free milk and meat, and limit animal fats.   
  • Keep the child away from external sources of estrogen (and testosterone), such as prescription medications for adults or dietary supplements that contain hormones.
  • Use a stainless-steel water bottle, rather than a plastic one.  (The concern here is that chemicals leach out of plastic when it is heated, which is often very likely to have occurred in storage or in transit to a store.)
  • For this same reason, only ever use glass containers in the microwave - never plastic, even if the container was made for microwave use.  Use a plate to cover the container, rather than plastic wrap.
  • Use clothing rather than sunscreen, as much as possible, to protect children in the sun, thereby minimizing the use of chemicals on the skin.

If you would like to learn more, you could start with links here and here.  If I was a mother of young girls now, I'd be pretty interested in this!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Readers...

We began this Blog last year with the decision to post every Monday to Friday.  We are pleased that we have pretty much accomplished that, (just slipping sometimes recently on Tuesdays..)

With some recent events we have decided to par our output to three times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - one day for each of us to write.  We hope that is still a reasonably respectable output, and that you continue to enjoy the Blog :)

We really love your comments! :)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Extremely Innovative Idea

Entrepreneurs out there!!!  Please take this idea and make it into a chain of shops so there's bound to be one near me wherever I'm living!!!  I'm sure it will take off, because I'll keep you in business, all my myself if I have to!!  I can't tell you how many times I've wished it existed!! And by all the exclamation marks clocked up in this post already, you can tell I mean what I'm talking about!!!!! ;)

And what is my extremely innovative idea?  It's for times like this:

Image from

Or times for even when they're not asleep, but they're in the back seat nonetheless, and it takes at least 5 minutes to get them all out and all into the car, and you need to pick up some bread and milk.  Or toilet paper.  Or nappies.  Or wipes.  Or something else you can't live without.  

So here's my great idea:

A drive through 'essentials' store.  

Honestly, I'd be there all the time!  I do almost anything to avoid pulling all three of my aged 3 and under children out of the car and in again when I only have to 'run in' for something.  Of course I can't leave them in the car by themselves even for a minute, so I'm forever doing this, and it's lost all of its charm!  And it literally takes me at least 10 times as long to run into the shop as it does when I'm alone in the car, which is almost never!  Just yesterday, I may have gone over and picked up my little (not that little) brother to come for a short drive with me so he could sit in the car with my babies while I ran into the post office quickly (okay, the post office is probably my LEAST favourite place to attend with my babies - everything is so very exciting to touch, and you're trying to figure out the cheapest way to send your package and writing the address on it while desperately trying to stop them from touching things and wishing you had 4 hands.  And my children are actually pretty reasonably behaved!).  A bunch of healthy snacks at this drive-through window would also be appreciated.  I mean I should be packing them myself when we're going out but sometimes you are having 'a bit of a day' and forget, and it would be great to drive through and pick up some cheese and yummy bread rolls instead of having junk or nothing available without leaving your car!  While I'm at it, let's make this place reasonably well priced :)

I'm a bit busy looking after the reason I need this innovative idea, but if there's anyone out there who wants to steal my idea and use it, just me being able to drive through for a bottle of milk after a long day of running around doing errands with my children at the end of their ropes, would be payment enough ;)

PS:  Why does this not already exist?  Surely it would be profitable?!  Surely!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weathering Life

When the news of the Oklahoma tornado came through yesterday morning, and I started to hear (in particular) about the parents screaming out the names of their children as they ran to the school that had been so completely devastated, I felt my heart break a little.  The United States has been doing it tough lately, with storms, shootings, explosions and tornadoes, and I know there are towns all over the world going through equally or even more devastating experiences every day.

As these events occur, I find myself glued to the news reports during the day, and ticking things over in my mind at night. Like many, I have a faith in God that pulls me through the hard times in my life.  But regardless of whether you believe or not - there are few things as uplifting and comforting as hearing about the ways that people reach out to each other with things seem overwhelming.

Members of the Oklahoma National Guard look for survivors in rubble in Moore on May 21.

I particularly enjoyed this article by Jason F Wright this morning:

Like many of you, I’ve watched hours of the live coverage broadcast from mountains of rubble and rippled asphalt parking lots. Stories are emerging of friends, neighbors and strangers saving lives. ... As the anecdotes roll in, I wonder why it sometimes takes such tragedy for our hearts to fully engage with one another. Does it seem we’re all a little kinder after school shootings, marathon bombings and natural disasters? Don’t we love our fellowmen on the good days, too?
We’ve seen recovery footage featuring volunteers climbing up and around dangerous piles of rubble that appear as if they might collapse like a Jenga tower. Their bravery reminds us that God could do this work if he wanted to, but he expects us to be his hands.
We know he could pull people from trapped cars, put out fires or carry a stranger’s body from ruins to a resting place. No, he doesn't need our help — he wants it.
Heartbreak of this EF-4 magnitude tornado teaches us that our Father in heaven is a God of perfect miracles, but often the day-to-day heavenly miracles come through imperfect, earthly hands.
We know that tragedies only teach us if we allow ourselves to learn from them. Perhaps the tragedies of the past few months have reminded us that the best way to honor those who’ve lost their lives is to be more kind, more patient and more loving.

And with all of this in mind, I came across a really wonderful story on Facebook that is definitely worth a watch.  It's a quieter example of how tragedy and hard times can bring out the best in us and actually enhance our lives.  Zach passed away a few days ago, on the 20th of May, but his life has touched so many others (especially with this video now going viral), and he was able to be strengthened and touched by so many in return.  If you've got 22 minutes and a box of tissues, I'd highly recommend it:

So I guess in summary:  Storms are scary, and there are certainly a lot of them around.  Some people's storms are so severe that I can't even begin to relate. But I'm grateful to know that the sun will always continue to shine above the clouds - even when they block our view momentarily - and that it will eventually find a way to break through.

xo Tammy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How To Cover Bad Skin With Make-up

Our beautiful daughter, Bethany, was troubled by really quite bad skin as a middle to late teenager.  I used to feel awful for her, and frankly, I sometimes wondered how she might feel about going out in public at times when most of her face was so very red and inflamed.  (I never said that to her of course.)  But then Bethy would appear on her way out the door, looking like the gorgeous young girl she was, and you couldn't see a pimple or spot in sight!  We all knew that her self-worked-out routine required some mysterious time factor, because Bethy always worked her days around the time that she needed to begin applying her face, but the truth is that I don't think any of us ever really asked her for the actual details of her routine.  We were just all in awe at the incredible result!
I thought that it's finally time for us to find out Bethy's secret.  Thank you Bethany! :)

I have added a couple of photos of Bethy from that time period.  I know that looking at these photos, you will probably not believe that she was suffering from acne.  That was the magic of her routine!   She was actually so good at covering her bad skin that when Bethy looks at these photos now, even she thinks that she couldn't have had a too big a problem back then after-all - but she really did :)  

I have included the photo below, not only because it was a bit hilarious, but because if anything shows Bethy's awesome face-saving make-up skills, this is it.  Not only was Bethy in the middle of a break-out, but she had just returned from a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in time to be a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding.  Of course she had thought that it would be great to have a suntanned glow for the big day, so had managed to burn her face to a crisp a few days earlier.  It didn't look too bad the day before, but on by the morning of the big day her skin began to turn a very dark brown (think multiple layers of dying skin), and begun to peel.  By midday she had thick, bark-like layers practically dripping off - and later spent half an hour in the bathroom removing her nose, forehead and upper cheeks, after which things looked slightly better.   (This photo was taken heading in to the drippy stage.)  Yet she still managed to look completely beautiful!   She is a bit of a make-up genius, our Bethany :)


I've always had the bad skin in the family (yay for me :S) and I remember all through my teenage years hating my skin and thinking it was awful. I hit the lovely age of 20 however, and that's when my skin decided to show me what awful really was!! What?? I thought when I finished teens my skin was meant to get BETTER, not WORSE! I thought I was meant to feel MORE confident in myself, not LESS!
*sigh* So not fair :(

Now I look back on photos of that clear, lovely skinned 17, 18, 19 year old girl that I was and am jealous. Didn't know how good I had it!
Now, even though I know that my skin was way better back then, mum says I still struggled with it, it's just that I can't see it in the photos because I covered it up so well (woohoo :))

So anyway, mum asked me to write a post about how I apply my make-up.
I'm really not in any way a beauty artist. I can only seem to cover the make-up basics on my own face and would be horrible at even attempting to apply somebody else's make-up.
But for some reason my mum and sisters have always talked with admiration and wonder about my foundation-applying abilities. Maybe it's just because none of them have ever suffered the self-loathing phenomenon of bad skin (blessed things! :P) and so they've just never had to try that hard to look good. But they seem amazed that one minute there's an ugly red blemish, and the next minute it's gone! Viola! :D
I just figured that's the whole point of foundation. But apparently, I "do it well"  :) (go me!).

If I have to stop and think about it, there is something I do a little differently to the other females in my family. It's a little technique that has earned me the nickname 'Spotty' from my siblings throughout the years :) I don't know if others out there do it, I'm sure they do, but this is what I do:

I cover my face in spots.

See, I have this theory about letting foundation 'soak in'. Let me explain...

  • I start out by using liquid foundation on my face to give it a bit more of an even tone all over. 
  • Then I get my concealer stick, and dot all my pimples or blemishes with spots of concealer.
  • I then leave it there and continue with my day, letting the make-up kind of 'soak' into the skin a bit. 
  • A little while later, I might come back and lightly pat my finger over the spots or around the edges so it blends in with the rest of my face a bit better, but not too much, and then go about my business again. Still soaking.
  • Every now and then I'll repeat this, until it's time for me to actually get ready. Then I'll lightly pat around the edge of my concealer spots so that they blend in completely with the rest of my face.
  • After that I brush my face lightly with foundation powder. Done!

I don't know if this makes any sense at all. But this is how I do my make-up.
The more time I have to do it, the better the end result! So the nicer I care to look, the earlier I start my spotting routine :)
If I only have 10 mins to get ready and do all my make-up, then there's less time for the 'soak' to happen and it won't look as good. If I want to look nice for, say, a formal or something then the initial make-up and 'spotting' applications begin in the afternoon so it can sit and soak for a lovely length of time :)
(I'm sure letting make-up really soak into your skin is probably not good for your pores and stuff (probably contributes to the whole 'bad skin' thing)...but hey, at least I wash it off every night before bed! :))

This morning I only had about 15 mins to do my make-up for church, so it's not the best job, but I took a couple of photos. Now I'm really wishing I had stopped to check them because they are not in the least bit flattering!! But hey, we're all women what the heck. No shame.

After the foundation I put my first concealer spots on. Not sure if you can really see them from this angle. Yes....I really do need to deal with my eyebrows...   And I don't know what sort of expression I was trying to pull :

After the mid-way pat. The spots are a little less obvious now (at least that's the idea! :P) Normally it's best to have time to do this a few times. Still don't know what's up with that expression :

Finished. Did a bit of a final smooth of the spots and put powder on. At least this time my smile isn't so creepy.. :

I guess the fact that I had earrings in and was dressed in real clothes instead of daggies in this photo helps also :)

I know I didn't show you a before photo of my skin. I'm willing to put some hideous photos up here, but not that hideous :)

Anywho, so that's that. Happy pimple covering :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lost Treasure Found at March House Books

There are some memories of childhood that have a savour so sweet as to hold almost an ache of longing.

I don't recall much about the time before I was five and my parents separated.  When that happened, we moved away from where I was born in central Australia, and my mother and sisters and I made a new start a long distance away in Adelaide.  I'm sure I was confused, (and I'm sure it was hard for our mother).

I began school that year, and as soon as I learned to read I escaped into books, not raising my head to rejoin the world until the end of grade seven.  Somewhat the archetypal bookworm, I read as I walked to school, read a book under my school desk through as much of the day as I could, sat by myself with a book through every recess and lunchtime, and read through every spare minute at home.  I even read when I was in the shower and as I rode my bike.  I loved books like friends, and the people in them populated my world.

But the first book I ever loved was from that earlier time before my parents divorced, and it's that book or group of books that is to be the source of one of my happiest early childhood memories.  I suppose my mother or father must have read it to me when I was little.  Or perhaps I sat for hours by myself, turning the pages and absorbing the pictures.

Down through the years I have remembered these as 'the Belinda books'.  All I could remember was that a young girl called Belinda lived in a magical kind of forest, and that she was able to talk to her forest friends, the animals, there.

Every now and again I asked about these books at second-hand book shops, but without success.

Until back in April I visited Barbara's wonderful Blog on this page at March House Books and thought to ask her if she might know what it was that I was remembering.  You can hardly imagine my delight when she directed me to this page on her Blog, and I was able to rediscover these lost friends from my childhood.

I now own seven of this series.  I'm very happy :)

I am also very grateful to Barbara, who is so very knowledgeable about children's books, and who was so very kind and helpful!  She knew that Belinda was actually a character in the Pookie books.  I recommend Barbara's online book store to you very highly!

Isn't the internet wonderful, and aren't the people you meet there lovely?! :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Advice For a New Mother - Part 1

It can sometimes be hard being a new mother.  Sometimes harder than you thought it would be.  Here is my basic, simple and practical advice for new mums, part 1.

Advice before the birth..

It's good to have a bit of an idea of how you would like things to go during labour - an idea about what is involved, what will be happening, what pain relief or other options are available, etc.  Just please don't be too rigid about it!  The hardest part of the birth for some girls is having things work out differently to what they had planned.   Perhaps you want to go drugs-free - and that's great - as long as you have that as a loose plan and can feel comfortable about changing directions during labour if you change your mind.  Strangely enough, no-one gives out medals saying, 'Yah-Hoo!  You did it all without drugs!!'  You do get a wonderful, swirming and tiny prize however - either way :)

Just go in there and do your best, and let 'come what may, and love it!' :)

Advice for after the birth

You might absolutely adore your baby from the first moment that your eyes meet.  (Yes, they will look at and see you from the first moments.)  All the gushy, overwhelmingly tender and fiercely protective love that you never thought anyone could feel this strongly might rush over you in that moment, irrevocably changing your understanding of your place in life forevermore..

..Or you might feel nothing.  Or nothing much.  Or perhaps a bit of awe, or fear, or even resentment - this was the reason for that, afterall!

Be patient with yourself.  There is nobody standing by, grading you on some cosmic mother-appropriateness meter. It's really ok to be yourself and to be honest with yourself and others about how you feel.  Give yourself some time to grow into things.  Ask for help.  Talk to somebody who will be understanding.

There is one thing that is more important than anything though - even more important than your feelings and challenges at this stage, and that is the safety and health of your new baby.  For good or ill, you are the one person on earth more than any other who has the responsibility of ensuring the safety and well-being of that tiny person.  There will be people around to help you if you need it (and very often even if you don't :) - but yours is the prime responsibility, unless you officially pass it on to someone else.

Doing whatever it takes to get through the day

I had a good friend, a lovely girl, who was home alone with her new baby one night, pacing the floor with a baby who would not stop crying.  She did all she could, until finally, she said, she had, "an overwhelming impulse to throw (her baby) against the wall."   She put the screaming newborn carefully into her cot, then left the house and walked around the block a couple of times until she had calmed down enough to go home.

Leaving your new baby in a house alone is not normally the right thing to do, but in this case it was a matter of doing what she had to, to get through the day - something of a mantra that I think should always be kept in mind by new mothers.  I believe that the daily objective of every new mother should be to keep their baby safe and healthy and themselves sane, and to do whatever it takes day by day to achieve that! :)  If you can get to the end of the first few months with your baby safe and well and yourself sane - well done!!  You made it and you are doing great!  Really :)

Perhaps this will mean having lots of take-aways, (or easy, throw-together meals like, say: a tin of tuna, a banana, some frozen green peas straight out of the packet, a tomato and a drink of milk - Ta-da!   Nutritious and it just took you one minute and 18 seconds to prepare :), or letting the dust in the house accumulate and the ironing mount up..   This time of night feeds and unsettled tummies won't last forever, and you will eventually get back on top of things when a routine finally kicks in.  It will happen.  Until then, don't fight it my friend.  Remember the mantra, and the daily objective :)

Ask for help, and say 'yes, thank you!' when people offer

You're capable, smart and independent.  When people offer to help in any way after you have had a baby you ought to say, 'yes, thank you!' - because that is what capable, smart and independent people do! :)

Maybe you won't have anyone offering.  It's nice if you do, but you'll still make it if you don't.  While it would be nice to have someone dropping by a home-cooked meal some days, you'll be ok without it too.  But if you do need help in achieving the Daily Objective, (of safety and sanity), then you need to ask somebody for help.  It might be a friend, family member, kind neighbour, or a helpline.  I think all Australian hospitals have someone 24/7 that you can talk to for advice whenever you need to.  You're not alone, remember that.  There are people who care about you and your baby and who will gladly help :)

Advice and criticism

You're almost bound to get a lot of advice as you embark on this challenging adventure.  (Here I am, giving my share, and I've got still more to come too :)  It's pretty much all well-intentioned, even though some of it may even sound like criticism on occasion, (perhaps when you are tired and frazzled :)

This advice will range, (and I do mean range!), from whether or not to breast-feed your baby, when to toilet-train, whether or not to enforce a schedule, whether or not you should leave your baby to cry, whether you should swaddle, when you should start feeding solids...  ...   !

My advice is to listen humbly to it all - but most of all to your own mother's advice, if you can.  She will probably love you asking her for advice, and you will probably find her an amazingly helpful resource.

Then, you should do whatever your own mother's heart tells you to do.  That's my advice.  I believe that mothers are often blessed to know what is right for their child.  So: learn from others, but most of all - trust yourself!  You're a mother.  What feels right to you?

(If you are not feeling anything, then go to the advice of the person you trust the most :)

Anne Geddes Galleries | Miracle 1
Photos by Ann Geddes

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother Heart..

Last week, our daughter Ana turned 2.  

Ana has a doll called ‘Jenny’, who she takes extremely good care of.  Especially since we brought our little baby boy home from the hospital, Ana has demonstrated exemplary care of her little baby.  

She feeds Jenny, puts her down for regular naps, cuddles and kisses her, tickles and giggles with her, chats and coos to her, bounces her in our baby bouncer, styles her hair, plays music for her, and holds toys in front of her face to entertain her.  

If Ana’s outside playing, you can be sure that Jenny’s been made comfortable for her absence – I’ll find her napping in our son’s bassinet, sitting in Ana’s high chair in front of a plate of plastic food, or lying in our baby playmate with the music going.  

Every night when we kneel to say Ana’s prayers with her before bed, she gently helps Jenny kneel down beside her, and folds her arms.  Then she holds Jenny’s folded arms carefully with one hand, folds her other hand, bows her head and is ready for prayer.  

Ana loves Jenny.  She takes so much joy in looking after her and meeting her needs.  

Just as naturally as Anamaria’s learned to eat, walk and run in the last 2 years, she’s become a little mama.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best App Ever

Okay, apologies in advance for those who aren't THAT interested in what I'm starting to think of as the 'cool things online' series that I seem to have started up through scattered posts over the last few weeks, but I HAVE to tell you about this awesome app that I've recently discovered:

Now, there will no doubt be a small group of you going 'Sleep Cycle? Seriously?  That thing's been around forever!'  And you're probably right. But I'VE only just discovered it, and honestly, I think it's amazing.  Here's the gist, in a nutshell (and yes, I'm quoting directly from the website):

Have you ever woken up feeling completely wrecked when the alarm clock goes off, despite the fact that you have slept “enough” hours? When this happens you have probably been awakened during a deep sleep phase, and your whole day can turn into one long zombie marathon. Other days you spring out of bed with a smile on your face, feeling completely rested even though you shouldn’t. As the alarm clock goes off, chance seems to play a big role in how your day will become. But does it really have to be that way? This is where the Sleep Cycle alarm clock application comes into play.
During the night you go from light sleep to deep sleep, occasionally entering into a dream state which is called REM-sleep. These are things that your normal alarm clock does not care about, and will go off at the set time regardless of whether you are in a light sleep phase or in the deepest sleep. However, since you move differently in bed during the different phases, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock is able to use the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in. Sleep Cycle then uses a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase.
I actually heard about this App a while ago.  You put your iPhone on the corner of your bed as you sleep, and it's sensor's pick up when you move and monitor how much you move to know how deeply you're awake or asleep. They then plot out a graph of your deep-light sleep cycle, and then wakes you up at the best part of the 30minute window you give it the night before so that you wake up feeling awesome!  But it all sounded a little too fantastical and far-fetched, so I ignored it.  But after (on the weekend) I heard my brother Ben talking about it and swearing by it, I decided to give it a go.  I downloaded it for 99c from the AppStore, and have now used it for 3 nights in a row.
And here's what's absolutely amazing to me - this thing actually works! Like, seriously works!  I never get more than 6 hours sleep during the week, and often need to get up very early (3 or 4am).  And I have SUCH a hard time waking up and dragging myself through the next few hours until I've finally shaken it off and woken up properly.  But the last 3 mornings in a row, when that little alarms has beeped, I've been WIDE AWAKE!  Instantly. Awake.  It's wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful :)
SO.  If you have an iPhone, you really need to give this a try.  It's like a whole new world, where people can be people, and not zombies. 
xo Tammy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Told You I Was Sick :)

I'm going into hospital tomorrow morning for an operation.  Nothing too serious or worryingly out of the ordinary, but I am feeling a tad apprehensive.  Having been a nurse, (in a time long, long ago), I am aware that while most surgeries go to plan there is that very small number that don't.

Not to be morbid or anything, but I really don't like the thought of being caught out, so just in case anything does go wrong, I have given our eldest daughter the five minute version of what to do in the extraordinary event that I die, which is mostly, "Take care of Dad," and, "Could I please have lots of nice music at the funeral, just in case I am there? Could Abby play the viola please?"   If I am in a coma, then, "Please play French tapes or something, just in case I am still in there but can't communicate, so I don't get too bored!  And perhaps play Mozart?"

All sensible precautions I think :)  But it has got me thinking about how it would be if I were to suddenly die.  What would I regret not having finished yet?

For me, there is a book that I would like to write for my family.  I've been thinking about it for years, but there is always something else to take my time that seems more immediate.

This slight touch of potentially-imminent-deathness that I appear to have contracted makes me realise that I ought to get on to doing what is really most important to me now, rather than just plan to begin sometime.  I want to write that book while I still can.

Do you have anything like that - something that you would like to accomplish before you shuffle 'off this mortal coil'?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Okay, first, a post from my personal blog from November 6, 2012 (with large sections deleted - it turns out I was really wallowing... :)):

Ever Seen a Pregnant Woman on Crutches??
WARNING:  Long sob story, with some excess of wallowing... :)

So yesterday, I walked (obviously excessively powerfully) by my couch, and stubbed my toe.  I collapsed on the couch in pain, and after it
 really sunk in (the full strength of pain was a tiny bit delayed), I realised it was really bad - like, worse than any other stubbed toe pain I'd had.  I looked at my little toe, and was nearly sick - it was sticking out at a disgusting angle, away from my foot!  Ew!!! 

Fortunately I had my phone in my hand, so I called James (in hysterics, a little bit) and I do not remember the exact wording, but the fact that he was in the driveway and bounding up the stairs maybe 30 seconds later... might give some indication that I was fairly urgent (and possibly a little demanding) about it.  As I was hanging up from James, Mum was calling (she's got that intuition thing
 down).  I blubbered that I'd broken or dislocated my toe, and she offered to come over to look after the girls.  I hysterically yelled "Can you be here in 2 MINUTES?!" and she calmly said "No, but I'll be there in 15" (which is about how long it takes to get here).  She also mentioned that if it were dislocated, James could probably just 'pop it back in', to which I may have screamed something about real doctors and painkillers, and "NO!!!". 

When we got to the hospital, he parked where you're not supposed to (not afraid to defy parking rules in light of a wife's sore toe - my hero ;)) and carried me into emergency.  I was painfully embarrassed  but I wasn't having a great deal of success with my attempted at hopping again :p  When we finally got in for the x-ray (they covered baby boy in my belly with 2 of the iron aprons and assured me it was 100% safe before asking if I was sure I wanted to proceed since I was pregnant lol) and then into the plaster room (after a wait long enough to allow me to imagine the awful pain of re-setting my almost certainly dislocated toe many times over and enough to make me shake all over), the doctor said "You've actually broken your toe".  Oh.  Did that mean they didn't need to re-set it??  Of course they did - it had snapped right through at a funny angle and was sticking out - they needed to put it back in place to heal properly  :(  After warning me that they would hurt a LOT, she then gave me 2 giant, painful, horrible awful needles, right into the bone, on either side of my little pinky toe.  The doctor was right.  It hurt, a LOT.  I cried out and sobbed into James!  I was so embarrassed, but I couldn't help it!  And James even seemed to think it was justified, because they were huge, and the doctor seemed to think they were going to half kill me with the pain, and can I use the 'pregnant' thing??  Anyway, thank goodness she'd let me bring him in! :)  And then the anaesthetic (okay, there was a GREAT reason to put me through those needles, shudder) set in, and she fiddled with putting my toe back into place while I was mercifully without feeling in my foot.  Hooray for anaesthetic!!! :)  I was soooo grateful not to feel it, I can't even tell you!  It was like when I got the epidural when I was in labour with Maggie, and suddenly the world was a happy place again :)

So they strapped said snapped little toe next to it's closest relative, and gave me a lovely set of crutches, to use for the next 6 weeks (that's right - until I'm 35 weeks pregnant! - 1 week before Christmas!), or until the pain goes away and I can walk again.


Oh for the sake of one little toe!!!

{Okay, I just Googled images to find a picture of a broken toe to better illustrate this story for you, but am disgusted by the images that came up, and I think this will suffice..}

I was in a lot of pain, for a long time, and despite everyone assuming so, having given birth twice and anticipating it once more didn't help my toe feel any better in comparison! - Turns out I don't like the pain of childbirth or the pains of broken bones :)

Anyway, yesterday I was walking past the (killer) couch in my living room, when I stubbed that same poor toe.  I hopped around holding it and collapsed on the couch, only to realise after a moment that the pain was not going away - it was worsening.  And it felt strangely familiar....NOOOOO!!!!  I broke it again!!!  Is there anyone else out that who's uncoordinated enough to have achieved this TWICE?!!!  

I'm really asking you that:  Is there??!!!  Twice?!?!!

After a few minutes of trying to swallow the pain I timidly looked down at said toe, and thankfully confirmed to myself that it wasn't as bad as last time - no funny angles!!  So I didn't go to the doctor, I just hurried James home (thank goodness it happened at the exact moment he was finishing coaching for the afternoon!) and strapped it up, and have been hobbling around in pain since...  Today the bruising and swelling have come up, and I can't move it, and did I mention the pain??...

...And I just can't believe I did it, again!!!

So from the very bottom of my heart, here's a piece of advice for you all to keep you out of this sort of trouble.  From the very first words spoken by dear James when he hurried home from school yesterday afternoon:

 "Sweetie, I think you need to take a wider berth when walking around the couches"

Thank you, dear.