Friday, April 27, 2012


This is the second post in the series "Becoming a Mum via an Alternate Route", and is the second half of my friend "K's" story. Please read the previous post as well as this one to get her full story.

"We had been married 10 years before the miracle happened. Many people had mentioned adoption to us but we both had felt that this was a very serious commitment and had seen situations that had brought much grief to both child and parent. We were not adverse to adopting a child but really wanted confirmation that this was the right path for us. 
At one time we were asked to adopt a baby by a mum that we knew and so we then began the arduous procedure. This mum miscarried her baby but the process of adopting had been begun. It was humiliating and time consuming having to fill out numerous forms including Doctor's certificate and getting references from friends and family. 
When an opportunity to go overseas for 2 years came up, we were told that our application would be rejected as my husband would be too old at 35 for adoption! We decided to go overseas anyway. It was while we were away that friends of ours came to care for a wee boy whose mum was not coping. She made a decision to adopt him - to us - and these friends contacted us in Cameroon!! We were back home with that beautiful baby boy in our arms after 12 days of travelling by sea and air. We loved him as our own from the moment he came into our lives. He is 25 now, married and a lovely son and husband. 
One of the many amazing things about this for me was that I had a very vivid dream 10 days before being contacted by our friends. In the dream I had a baby and was told to go home and take care of my new responsibility. There were many other miraculous things that happened to bring this all about and we both felt this baby was a gift from God. This boy has been such a joy. He is very talented especially musically. I am sooo grateful that his dear mother gave him the right to live, was willing to go through that pregnancy and birth and then the huge heart wrenching decision to give trust him to us.
We had to wait until our son was 3 years old before we could start the process again for a second adoption. We were finally accepted 6 months later and another miracle happened almost immediately! It was like we didn't have much to do with it....just watch the drama unfold and feel a deep certainty in our hearts that this was orchestrated by God and something that we could never have done ourselves and if we had tried to, would probably have really mucked it up.
Those two boys love each other better than many blood siblings do. When our younger son turned 21 last year, the two of them went away for 4 days on their own to just hang out. Surfing, eating, fishing, jamming!
Our friends and family have always been supportive of us regarding these adoptions and both of the boys have made contact with their birth mothers and other members of their family. We decided to talk about their adoption from their earliest days and they have never appeared to be ashamed or distressed about it.
For me looking back on my situation, I am so grateful for my life and for the path given to me. We don't know where the course of our lives will lead us, but rather than run away from the difficult bends or try to straighten them out ourselves - I have found that facing them as a challenge and seeing them as the most important components in determining the direction that our life will take, who we will become and the part we play in this life we are given.
I remember once crying out to God as I was nearing the age of 42 and still wishing for a baby of my own. The words came to me "but I have chosen for you the very best!" and I started to think about how special those 2 boys are, how I could never imagine loving children born to me any more than I did these; and realised again how blessed I was.
Going through infertility is not something I would have ever chosen for myself but through it I have become stronger as a person. 
We all have something in our lives which we wish we could change. We can't always change our circumstances but we can choose how we will respond to them. I can not imagine my life without these two wonderful boys .... and so our infertility brought huge blessings to us and our wider families and friends.
I hope that I am a lot more understanding towards people who do not have children and more sensitive and tactful. And I also am able to encourage and comfort those in similar situations to my own because I truely understand the pain."

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This post, written by my friend "K", begins a series on "BECOMING A MUM VIA AN ALTERNATE ROUTE" - Part 1 "Infertility".


"Hi. I was married at 21 and had always hoped for a big family. I was crazy about children ..and especially babies. I had completed my nursing training just before getting married and all seemed sweet. As the years passed it was evident that getting pregnant was not going to be an easy matter.

It then became evident that due to my husband having mumps as an adolescent – we would not be able to have our own children. Of course we were both devastated. Many of my friends were by then having children and my dear sister who was married a year after me, seemed to be pregnant all the time. She had 6 children in 10 years!! 
I found it extremely painful to see pregnant women, babies, mum's breastfeeding their babes, to hear mothers talking about their children all the time and especially when they complained about the hardships and their lost freedom.
I was not at all interested in having someone else's child through IVF.
I just felt in my heart that it wasn’t right for us.
We both felt that we did not want to manipulate the situation - and one day regret our decision.
Many people would say most unhelpful comments like “when are you going to settle down and have some children?" !!
Dealing with these situations was very difficult at first. Sometimes we
became quite blunt and just answered “we can’t have any children of our own” and that usually shut them up! But over the years I learnt to tell myself that it was not intentional unkindness and chose to not encourage those wounds to fester. I think this works best by just not feeding the memories - choosing not to think or talk about them.
 Feed your mind instead with good stuff, happy memories
and things to be thankful for. I didn’t go around telling the whole world about our infertility. I didn't even discuss it with my family very much. I just had a couple of close friends who I knew I could trust and would talk to them when I needed their encouragement.
I kept secretly believing for a miracle and so month after month I would be hoping that God had heard my prayers and I would be pregnant..but month after month there would be disappointment and deep sorrow. There was a constant struggle for me. As a naturally sunny person (true sanguine) I didn't want to become neurotic and make others miserable because of my problems.
 I also had a strong belief that I was created with gifts and abilities that when used – not only benefited those around me but also gave me self worth and deep satisfaction. I believed that my life had a purpose and that we are not here on this earth to simply become parents. 
I decided (over a period of time) to choose daily to be content with my situation. I believed that if children were to be a part of my life then God would bring them to us (in whatever way He chose) at just the right time.
And if not...then I would make the most of whatever each day would bring. I cannot say that I succeeded all the time - but what a difference this made for my management of my emotions: choosing to be content and to be genuinely happy for others, looking for ways to use my gifts and abilities and to quietly trust God for the things that were out of my control."


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


"Today is Monday, Today is Monday
Monday is wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

Today is Tuesday, Today is Tuesday
Tuesday is Ironing, Monday is wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

Today is Wednesday, Today is Wednesday
Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing
    Monday is wash day,
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

Today is Thursday, Today is Thursday
Thursday is baking, Wednesday is cleaning
   Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should sat!

Today is Friday, Today is Friday
Friday is fish, Thursday is baking, Wednesday
  is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing, Monday is
  wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

Today is Saturday, Today is Saturday
Saturday is shopping, Friday is fish, Thursday 
  is baking, Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday
  is ironing, Monday is wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

Today is Sunday, Today is Sunday
Sunday is church, Saturday is shopping,
  Friday is fish, Thursday is baking, 
  Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing
  Monday is wash day
Everybody happy?
Well, I should say!

This is the fifth and last post in the series "SOME PLANS TO SIMPLIFY HOUSEHOLD JOBS".
"Grocery stores are designed to keep you in the store as long as possible. All 'essential' items (milk, bread, produce) are located on the extreme corners of the store, so you have to pass by lots of other tempting merchandise even if you're just running in for a quart of milk. The most expensive products are placed at eye level (except for kids products, which are placed at their eye level). Products on display at the end of aisles, are usually not on sale or a special buy."
"How to Grocery Shop - You Need a Plan" : Linda Larsen Guide
".... two-thirds of our grocery-shopping decisions are made in the store, says Barbara E Kahn, PhD, director of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. People come in with a general idea of what they are going to buy, but their list tends to be vague .... when decisions are made in the store, you are vulnerable to cues such as corner displays, big red 'Value!' arrows and other in-store merchandising."
"Lost in the Superemarket: Men Without Lists" : Daniel DeNoon.

What's your view of 'shopping'? Are you the sort of person who meticulously plans the list, the order of the shops, the amount to be spent in each, and the time allocated to the task? Do you shop impulsively and spontaneously with no budget in mind? Do you dread any form of shopping, putting it off, using any excuse to get out of it? Is the daily pop into the shop a 'fix' for you?
Some say your attitude to shopping is affected by how busy you are, your income, stage in life and temperament. 
Regardless of where you place yourself, the need for regular supermarket visits in person or on line, is a requirement for most parents.
Here are 10 points that I hope help to simplify your grocery shopping day ~
This seems to be the number 1 piece of advice from many sources. Check the fridge, pantry and cupboards and have a well prepared list of what you need and expect to use before the next shop day. This way you will save yourself extra trips back to the supermarket for items you forgot - saving time, effort, petrol and money.
Stick to the list and don't get conned by the specials! If you don't usually buy it, don't buy it just because it's on special.
For years I had a map of where all the products were in our supermarket, but you can write the items on your list in the order you come to them. This speeds up shopping time.

~ Some people plan all the meals for the week /fortnight then make the list of what's needed. I have shopped like this and it does save money when finances are really tight!
~ Another help to to make the shopping list is to keep a magnetic paper pad on the fridge to write down items when you see the are running low - don't wait till they have run out. At times we find the supplies in one area of food which are meant to last for a fortnight, run out earlier. If this regularly happens then you need to stockpile these things when they are on special, so you have a backup supply.
~ Some people recommend a pantry list of everything you have in there and the number of each item. Then you need a space to cross off when you use an item. They say this speeds up making the shopping list. I have never done this but am considering it at our bach where so many of the family use the family food pantry, but I'm not sure everyone would do the crossing off....??/8%z# :-)
~ You may choose to check newspapers and advertising flyers for saving coupons on items you intend to buy. That's why it's best to have the shopping list written before you look at the coupons.

~ I don't like grocery shopping, so I shop fornightly. I believe it saves money as I often make-do with what we have till the next shopping day.
~ Shop out of peek supermarket times - you get through much faster. I simply can't catch the fascination so many people have with being at the supermarket with the throng of thousands trying to find a car park, wait for a free trolley, squeezing along the aisles, having to rudely reach over people to get things off the shelf, and then standing and waiting in line-ups to pay for the food! Ahhh - that's why I regularly ask at my supermarket when the quietest day/slowest times are. Tuesday is still their slowest day. When our kids were little I shopped after 8pm after they were in bed, it was a quieter time to shop. Likewise after lunch before the school finishing time has less shoppers.
~ Don't shop before a meal time, when you're hungry - it's too easy to be swayed by the lady handing out free food samples. You also have less physical energy or discerning brain function to make decisions with.
This is the number 2 biggest piece of advice from many sources. If you have limited finances, shopping with a budget gives less pressure to the shopper on their return trip home. Keep a running tally of rounded up costs as you shop, in your head or on your phone calculator. You can write down the total at the end of each aisle then start again. As you're approaching the budgetted total you need to consider 
  * if to buy less quantity of an item from here on
  * not to buy certain items at all
  * to buy smaller sizes of what remains on the list 
and if you still can't keep in the budget then you need to apply the three options above to items bought earlier in the shop.
Some people hold an extra amount each month which is outside the weekly budget, to give themselves liberty to buy things on special which they stockpile for use over many weeks.
Buy the generic store brands rather than Brand names. Some items are no different eg flour, sugar, tinned tomatoes, pasta, rice, tinned fish, whole grains.... to their Branded cousins. You definitely save money this way!
The supermarket where we shop is annually the cheapest in the country, so we are lucky. Some supermarkets have good meat prices, others cheap household goods. Compare the prices at your local supermarkets so you know you are getting a good deal.
You can try open air weekend markets and co-ops or organize you own co-op with neighbours or friends.
Do you like to shop with the kids/ or not? I have done both - certainly found a quick helping hand - trolleys rolled out to the car for me... when I was fully pregnant and had a few kids in toe! 
  * shop without kids - get the task done quickly
                                     - had a few 'freedom' moments
                                     - could think clearer eg hand over the correct money
                                     - not occupy so much floor space at the check out
  * shop with the kids - teach them how to shop
                                      - another time of them learning selfcontrol
                                      - opportunity to give them responsibility
                                      - show off the kids new shoes...
                                      - a special Mum and one child time
If you have your own supermarket bags made of cloth, plastic weave, foil... you can have them ready for the check out person to pack your things into them. Or if they won't do that, you need to take a child shopping to unload the trolley onto the conveyor while you pack the checked out items into your bags. They are tougher and can cope with far heavier weights that the supermarket plastic bags, as well as being easier to lift and pack into the car. Another benefit is you cut down on the number of plastic bags you take home.
I have never done it. There is controversy  as to if it saves money or not. It also comes down to that I'd prefer to choose for myself, once I see all that's available.
  * DON'T buy fizzy drinks, juice, fancy teas and coffees or alcohol. Drink water, milk and simple tea and coffee.
  *  DON'T buy frozen meals, semi-prepared meals in packets or tins. Make it fresh, yourself.
  *   DON'T buy junk food or snack food. Prepare your own muesli bars or use fresh fruit in season, dried fruit and nuts that have reasonable prices.
  *    DON'T throw out left overs. Use them to create another meal - pie, over pasta or rice, into a soup or lasagna or curry...
  *     DON'T shop at the little corner store or petrol stations for food.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ happy shopping! The little poem at the top of the post ends with "Sunday is church..." and this is what I'm intending to do, but what about you - how do you recharge your tank, stay encouraged to keep on track in life with and for your family?

Monday, April 2, 2012


"The quince has a noble history, having been presented to Joan of Arc after the Orleans siege, being considered all over Europe as a gift appropriate to royalty and, in the form of small balls of fruit, being tossed into the bridal chariot for good luck after wedding ceremonies in ancient Athens."
We have a neighbour who years ago planted a lavish orchard of citrus and stone fruits as well as pears, apples, avocado, feijoas, nashi, macadamias and more. We also have relatives on the family farm with an abundance of produce this past month. The problem is that the quantity of fruit produced by so many trees is far greater than what can be eaten. So this month I'm sharing two simple recipes which you can adjust to what you have a surplus of.

When it's busy we often end up with fruit rotting in the fruit baskets. Here's a simple way to process and use this fruit before it's 'beyond-it'.
 " Put 5 cm of water into a medium saucepan and heat on the stove.
 " Wash or peel, core and slice 4 - 6 pieces of fruit and put into the water  
     once it boils. Put the lid on.
 " Cook for 10mins or until the fruit is soft.
Cooking in little batches like this, means you save some of the fruit. Once cooked, ladle it into a plastic container and while hot sprinkle sugar over the top, as desired. Stir through. If you have time do a second or third batch in the same water, and put on top of the first batch. Keep in the fridge. As you eat it, you can cook up new small batches and add them in, so the mix changes.
My batches included apples, pears, peaches and quince. If you have never eaten quince, hopefully the above quote will entice you to seek some out and join the royal class. You can use any seasonal fruit that can be cooked. 
The cooked fruit keeps in the fridge and is safe to eat for a couple of weeks.
Apples, pears and peaches all have vitamin C, but quince is rich in vitamin C, making it an appropriate food leading into winter. It has a short growing season of March-April.
Apple cucumbers are rarely found in the supermarket but when properly home grown, can be deliciously sweet and juicy. Home grown tomatoes can be likewise. 
 " Peel the apple cucumber then slice in large chunks into a serving bowl.
 " Wash the slice the tomatoes in too.
 " Refrigerate and give some generous slurps of balsamic vinegar as you 
     serve it.
The cucumber has been grown since ancient Mesopotamian times. They were so loved by the Romans that Emperor Augustus and Tiberius devised ways to grow them in hothouse conditions.
The apple variety of cucumbers is said to be easiest to digest. Some cosmetics include cucumber in them as it has health benefit for the skin, hair and nails. The cucumber has excellent vitamin C levels, is fat and cholesterol free, low in salt and gives good fibre if eaten with the skin on.
You can swap cucumber for capsicum and still get a great supply of vitamin C. Capsicum also has vitamin A,B and E, potassium, is low in salt and cholesterol and fat free.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ don't leave the fruit or vegies to rot - add a salad to dinner tonight or cook up a small batch of fruit for dessert or breakfast. If your kids are 5 years or older, they can be your assistant cook.