I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I am going home for Christmas.  Home to New Zealand, to join with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families and grandchildren and in-laws.  I am excited to be flying off in 3 days.  I haven’t had many extended family Christmases over the years.  When married to a Pastor, that was our busy time and after those years, it was the most expensive time to travel – so it just didn’t happen.  In the 35 years I’ve lived in Australia, this will be only my third Christmas home.  So I am excited.

Kiwi Christmas

I have always referred to New Zealand as my home because that is my birth place but having lived in Australia significantly longer than I did in NZ, I know that Australia is my real home now.  My Boys are Australian and I always find that as much as I love to visit my beautiful country of birth, by the end of my trip I am ready to go Home!

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*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries.

So I am excited for my visit but I can also feel the sadness creeping up on me, as leaving day approaches.  This will be the first Christmas since we became a family, that I won’t be with any of my Boys on Christmas Day.  Some of us have been apart previously, but I have always had at least one of my Boys with me.  This year I could have had all 3 of them with me but circumstances prevailed.  (Story for another post!)   So my Boys will Christmas together and I will Christmas in NZ!

Not that I have missed out.  We have already shared Christmas celebrations with 2 of my Australian families and their kids.

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Typical Aussie Christmas Day lunch.

And I hope to share some Christmas cheer with my BFF  before we go to spend  An Evening with Oprah tomorrow night.  Did I even tell you that? ….. Oprah and Me!!!!!!  Bucket list ticking off happening right there!

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But I digress … It was so great to see my Boys in the pool with our friends kidlets or twirling them around and around or just generally having fun. Backyard cricket was the game of their day – pool cricket was what they were taught by the 3 & 6 year olds last night!!  Surely, it seems only yesterday that they were the ones being tossed in the pool or enjoying their presents.

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So, I prepare for my journey home with joy and anticipation.  Looking forward to making memories and filling my heart with love and blessings.  But each day, I may just be caught in thought of what those gorgeous Men that Adrian and I made together, might be doing at Home?  Knowing they are there for each other and totally enjoying their special Christmas together.

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Illustration by Julie Vivas from the book The Nativity.

*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries recipe here.

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“The Plane Is Hovering!”

Last week I was so tired that I could not function!  I was unable to string two words together coherently or move without bumping things.  Thinking clearly was just not possible.  I was physically and mentally shot!

It had been a busy weekend, which included, a quick flight to Adelaide and then a hire car drive to Murray Bridge to visit my mother-in-law (MIL) who had had another fall and was in hospital.  BossBoy and BabyBoy accompanied me and I could not have survived without them.

Sleep is my number one stress release and when stress increases, so does my need for sleep!  When you are on a quick trip – jam-packed with activity, sleep is not a priority but stress is high!  It began with Brisbane being hit by some massive storms, which closed the airport for 4 hours!  Free wi-fi was found.  Junk food was eaten.  People watching took place.

You would think that when we eventually boarded the aircraft, I would feel relief?  Not so!  Flying is not my thing and walking out on the tarmac in driving wind and rain, made me pray that the Valium I had just taken would kick in quickly!  Of course, squeezing into budget airline seats and having to ask the cabin crew for a seatbelt extender did wonders for my stress levels.  I have never ever seen anyone else ask for or be given one of those things.  My stress levels continued to rise.  It was a bumpy flight with plenty of turbulence and my sons held my hands.  I couldn’t sleep and was happy to get off.

By this time it was almost midnight, we were 4 hours late, our phones had run out of battery and no one could remember the name of the rental car company!  BabyBoy began the arduous task of entering every rental car premises in the airport car park and asking if they had a booking for us!  The very last one did!!!  We checked into our hotel and then wandered out to find somewhere to eat – none of us had really eaten since breakfast the previous day.  It was after 1am before we climbed into bed.  I was exhausted before we had even seen my MIL and we still had an hour or so drive in the morning before we got to the hospital.

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A midnight Pie Floater – meat pie, mushy peas & sauce. Their father would be proud!

The next two days was a mixture of lovely family time, beautiful Autumn scenery, pub food, out of date packet food, remembering, meetings to decide important care issues, trying to do the best for MIL, trying not to step on anybody’s toes, bad beds, hospital visiting, encouraging, listening and talking, talking, talking!  We were grateful for the small band of distant relatives that live closer than us and had put their hands up to help with the care of our 96-year-old MIL and Nana.

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Nana and her Boys!

By lunchtime on Monday, we were all packed up and back in our rental car to return to Adelaide for our flight home.  We took a more scenic route back, thanks to BossBoy’s creative navigating!  Note to self: BossBoy is a useless navigator!  The Boys wanted to visit some of their father’s old haunts so a brief visit to the Sturt Football Club, the old Luther Seminary and a meal at The Welly were squeezed in before we all hit the wall of exhaustion together.  It was decided that any other planned activities would not be fulfilled.  We would head out to the airport and find somewhere to sit/lie and wait for our plane.  It was about this time that BabyBoy remembered that we still had an ancient computer in the boot of the car to dump!  I smiled to myself as I watched my sons, under the stealth of darkness, wait until there was a break in traffic, then deposit the offending computer and monitor into someones wheelie bin that had been left at the side of the road.  They were in their father’s territory …. he would have been proud!

Luther Sem
Luther Seminary aka Australian Lutheran College.

We returned the rental car, more easily than picking it up – we remembered the company this time.  We found our boarding gate and sat for an hour before a change of gate saw us moved then boarded.  I took my Valium, but no longer cared that I had to ask for an extension belt.  I closed my eyes but my mind would not close down.  The flight was smooth but my son held my hand for take off and landing.  I do believe that if you are flying on a budget airline and the flight is only 2 hours, you should NOT be allowed to recline your seat!  For 2 hours I could not move my legs or use my tray table.  I got fidgety and jiggly.  I tried to distract myself by looking out of the window.  It was pitch black and I made the comment to the Boys that “The plane is hovering!!”  The looks of shock that came back from the Boys, gave me the first inkling that my brain and body was no longer functioning properly.

I was quiet on the taxi and car ride home. At 1:15am, I sank into my bed but my over stimulated body and mind was not conducive to restful sleep.  I had to attend work in the morning and I knew in my gut that my job was no longer going to be available for me.  I eventually fell asleep just before the alarm went off.

Work went as I had expected.  I almost fell asleep at my computer screen.  When the news about my job was confirmed, I cried!  I felt weary beyond anything I had ever felt before.  My drive home was not a safe drive.  I couldn’t concentrate.  When at last I sank into bed, I did sleep, but it took until Friday for my body and mind to feel normal.

In the last week and a bit, I had stretched my mind and body further than I thought was possible.  I had made it through and come out the other side with no sense of despair or failure.  I enter into the next scary part of my life knowing that the two things that I thought have been my weakest – are strong enough!  I am strong enough!

Always remember ...

Loving my kids! Loving myself!

Loving my kids is something that I have always found easy to do.  Liking them …. sometimes, not always so easy!

When my boys were little, although my heart was often breaking for them, I felt  like I could usually fix things for them when they were in need.

Not in a Christopher Pyne kind of way ….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

Hungry?  Easy – bread was my go to filler. Although frozen poppas and frozen tubs of yoghurt took a lot longer to eat!!  Injured? Usually a hug, a kiss and sometimes a band-aid did the trick.  Tired?  A cuddle on the bed with a book was often enough.  Lonely?  I would sit on the floor for a play.  Sickness?  I was the one they wanted  and I could comfort and reassure them and get them the medical help they needed.  Of course with 3 boys, fights were a big deal.  They weren’t so hard either because I had one that was quite happy to go to his room and be alone – so the reverse was required of him.  He had to spend time out in the kitchen or wherever, with me!  And I had one that always wanted to be where the action was – so, of course, he was sent to his room for a while!  The littlest one was usually  left to continue playing!  Being 6 years younger had to have some perks!

As the years moved on, the needs were pretty much the same, with the addition of a few new ones.  Transport, school requirements, money, sporting disappointments, broken hearts were added.  But I still felt like I could help!

Now my boys are men!  I still feel like I can help when there is a need.  If they find themselves in the middle of a problem and they share it with me, I immediately want them close to me.  I want to give them that supportive hug.  That listening ear.  That nourishing hot meal.  That few extra dollars.  Those familiar things that I did when they were young.  I want to do the thing that will take the pain away from them and build them up with love and comfort.

So the question that I am posing to myself is …… Why don’t I do this to myself when I am in need?

The things that I do for my sons, are exactly what I need when I am feeling down.  I need to do the thing that will take the pain away from me and build myself up with love and comfort.  I need to be  kind to myself.  I need to eat nourishing food.  I need rest.  I need to listen to myself.  I need to give myself a hug.  But I find myself, thinking negative thoughts and eating crap (or not eating at all) and not sleeping and berating my attempts to move forward and isolating myself from everyone!

Recognising my needs and listening to them is the only way to love myself.  That doesn’t mean that the needs of others are to be pushed aside.  Never!  But if I know how to and can recognise when to, take care of myself, I am much better equipped to serve the needs of others.

Treat yourself

Endings and Beginnings.

Do you ever wish things would never end?  Or do you just want some things to end quickly?  I do both of these things at different times.  If the footy is poor and the night is cold – I just want it to end, so I can go home and warm up!  But if the sun is warm and the sea is rolling in gently, soothingly – I want to stay forever!

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I’ve come to realise that letting go of heart stuff can be the same as something coming to an end.  Often times a quick ending is less painful than wanting to stay forever!   But not always. As 2014 comes to an end and 2015 starts it’s engine, I am aware of the necessity of saying goodbye to different important parts of my life.  These are not quick endings but long slow painful ones.

Abi 2 days old

I am losing my baby!  Well, not my baby but my gorgeous god daughter Abi, is starting school and that means “I’m a big girl now. Not your baby any more”, as she happily told me on Christmas Day.  How am I handling it?  Not well at all!  Of course, as a retired teacher, I am thrilled to see her development and growth.  I have no worries that she will cope and fit in easily.  But ME?  I really don’t want her to grow up.  Who will give me those whole body, smooshy, never let me go cuddles?  When Abi was born, she filled that constant yearning for physical touch, that comes from living with someone for 28 years and then losing them.  I could hold her and stroke her hair and smother her with kisses when I saw her and no one would know that I hadn’t actually touched another human being for a week or more.  I would drown myself in Abi, drinking up her unconditional love – hoping it would get me through the coming week.  When my Counsellor asked me what I was going to do to fill the gap when she started school – I sincerely looked her in the eye and told her as soon as Christmas was over, I would be out on the street looking for some pregnant woman who would like to share her baby with me!  She almost fell off her chair and it wasn’t until she saw my wink at the end of my statement, that she realised I was joking ….. kinda, sort of, maybe!!

I don’t want to say goodbye to the relationship we have.  I want it to go on forever.

Mum's Day Andrew & Patrick                       Jonathan Brewers Christmas 2014

My boys are men!  They are 31, 29 & 23 years old.  I no longer have any of them living at home and this has been the case for 6 or so years.  I have been saying goodbye to my little boys for many years now but no matter how independent they become, I still want to take away as much of their pain and heartache as I can.  Their dependence on me for financial back up or transport needs or the occasional home cooked meal (although all are very good cooks), means I am still their mother and they need me!   It also means that I am able to enjoy the mannerisms of their father, that I miss so much.  But I want my men to live their own lives and continue to develop their independence and find that special someone to share their world with – that isn’t me ….. kinda, sort of, maybe!!

I don’t want to say goodbye to the relationship we have.  I want it to go on forever.

And then Sons of Anarchy finished – forever!!!!  Yes, I know!  It’s a TV show!  It’s not real!  The characters were BAD boys!! But have you seen Jax Teller?

Jax 2

I know that TV shows do not go on forever ….. kinda, sort of, maybe!!

I don’t want to say goodbye to the relationship we have.  I want it to go on forever.

With endings come beginnings!  Just as endings can be hard, so too can beginnings have their dangers.  It’s a risk to do something new or different.  Just in the same way, looking at old relationships with new eyes and expectations is also difficult.  Fortunately, humans keep changing and growing – especially young people – and that forces us to keep changing and growing as well.

So with 2015 only one day away, I am thinking about the ways I can make sure those special relationships do go on forever.  Not as they were, but as they can be. Will be!  Have to be!!  So the changes that occur will be natural and satisfactory for all involved.  But there will be changes.  My 2015 Resolutions will not be the normal unattainable  ones of years gone by – lose 30kgs & get fit.  This year they will be simple and helpful.  Encouraging me to keep changing and growing.

I will simply ……..

add a little structure to my life

forgive myself

love myself

If I can do these 3 things, who knows what beginnings lie ahead for me?

Love yourself

And as Jax Teller would say

Jax

“I got this!”

The Abi Diaries (part two)

I really don’t get it!  Having only been the mother of sons, little girls obsession with changing their outfits multiple times a day is a complete mystery to me.  Now I know I am generalizing here but it’s my Blog so I am allowed!  Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes as much as the next girl but I do not remember wearing more than one outfit a day as a youngster, unless I was going out or swimming.  You also, need to know that all the boys in my life, when little, have been only too happy to dress up when the time was right.

Jon Andrew Dress up
BerlinBoy and BossBoy – early days!
Andrew dress up
BerlinBoy – legs for miles! It must be the heels because he is the shortest!
Patrick dress up
BabyBoy had expensive tastes!

My gorgeous god-daughter, Abi, is a totally different level of fashionista!  She loves clothes and at 4 years of age, has a very definite opinion of what she will and won’t wear.  Did I mention accessories?  That girl knows what she wants!  So after having spent a wonderful day with Abi, while her Mum & Dad were at work, I decided to look back over some of her best outfits and the reason she gave for the fashion story!  Some are from awhile ago but they are too good to ignore.  Some of the photos are taken by her parents and sent to my phone to enjoy.  Others I have taken when babysitting!

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The first series of photos show Abi’s frilly frou frou stage.  If there was a tutu to be found – you should definitely wear it or them!  Over your pj’s, your nappy, your mother’s boots or if the occasion was really special – over another few tutu’s!

As Abi grew – it became all about the accessories!

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Abi fashion accessory 4

Abi fashion accessory 3

They are pretty she says!  Too much?  No she says!  Abi loves to clash her colours and accessories.  Almost but not quite, matching colours and BIG flowers are the go!  Any colour big flowers because they are pretty and make you smile she says!

Abi fashion 5

Abi fashion 6

Abi fashion 8

One of Abi’s favourite things to do is costume dress up.  Whether its a party, a game or just to read a story – dress ups are a favourite.  Life is one great big occasion!

Abi fashion 9

Abi fashion pirate

I love this little fashionista with all my heart and if she continues to bring smiles and colour and happiness to the world with her outfits – I can cope! But I don’t think I will be following her beauty tips any time soon…….Abi cream

My Men!

It has been an emotional, gut wrenching, I’m so lucky, it’s time to celebrate, roller coaster ride these past few weeks.  Anyone that knows me well, will know that I don’t do roller coasters –  having tried to jump off  twice in my life!  Once as a child at the Auckland Easter Show – thank you dear Brother for holding me on while my Mum got the bloke in charge to stop the ride and let me off and once at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, where my husband held me on while my then, preteen BossBoy, was heard to say …. Just let her jump, Dad! …. (due to my embarrassing antics) and my Mum, who was visiting from New Zealand, just shook her head and said … I told you so!   So with my emotions on a roller coaster ride my thoughts turned to those that hold on to me when the ride gets bumpy – my Men.

Men have always been important in my life.  As a child, I wasn’t really a girly girl.  More of a tomboy who enjoyed the physical challenges hanging with the boys could bring.  I liked the teasing that went on from my boy cousins and loved nothing more than  hanging out on the back of their motorbikes, or riding horses on a friend’s farm or to be at the skating rink with my brother and his mates.  Don’t be mistaken, women & girls were and continue to be a big part of my life but when my third and last baby arrived as a third son …. I kinda sighed with relief.

The beginning of November, always brings my Dad to the forefront of my mind.  His birthday falls in this month as does Remembrance Day and the anniversary of his death. So November is definitely a Dad month for me.  He was the first man that held on to me when I wanted to jump but although he supported and provided for me, our relationship was never an easy one.  So many personality traits the same and so many differences between us and then there was the, what I believe to be, life changing time he spent in the army in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped – long before I was born.  He loved his family …. hard!  Just like me.  But communication was not his strength and I was a mouthy child and teenager (I know that surprises you) who insisted on trying to get him to express his thoughts and feelings!!  This often caused friction for me and anger from him.  Dad struggled to tell me what he freely told others – that he loved me and was proud of me but was always there when I needed him.  I know these things now and am pleased that I can use the important gifts he gave me, such as loyalty, a love of family, the place of respect in relationships and my great love of sport!  So November comes with Dad memories but no regrets.

My Dad and his grandson.
My Dad and his grandson.

My Brother has always been there for me – see above roller coaster incident!  He was also there when I tried to drown myself at a surf beach as a teenager.  He is younger than me and is the strong silent type.  As he gets older, he is becoming more like our Dad and this can also cause friction between us, as I turned into a mouthy adult (I know this surprises you) who often leads with her heart and not her mind.  Which doesn’t mean my Brother doesn’t lead with his heart but rather means he is very thoughtful and clear with his point of view.  I, on the other hand  am often not!  My Brother is an awesome father and grandfather who loves his family …… hard!  I am so glad I am in his family and therefore loved – totally, if not a little quietly for my liking!!!  Thank you God for not making everyone just like me!  He is my rock and I always know that if I need anything, he will be there for me.

Peter Zack's baptism
My brother and his grandson.

My Boys are the constant men in my life, especially in the 10 or so years since their father’s illness and subsequent death.  They are true champions and I am grateful to have them in my life.  They are each different and therefore hold on to me in different ways.  They all tend to be quiet and thoughtful, while I tend to be a mouthy mother (I know this surprises you) who shares too much about herself and her Boys and this sometimes causes friction for me and embarrassment for them.  This month has been a struggle for each of them with work stress, visa stress, moving stress, money stress, health issues and storm damage.  But they continue to hold on to me, so that I do not jump off that roller coaster.  I’m certain at times they all wish they could say like BossBoy of years ago – Let her jump, Dad!  But they don’t say it.  They hold me on through their love and support; through their creativity in art and music; through their travel and adventure; through their loyalty and encouragement.  They  love our family …. hard!  They ride my roller coaster with me – holding me on – always!

Weber Family 2012  12 - Copy
My Men and Me. Photo credit to Andrew Barclay

I can pee with the door open!

Did you ever have so many options that you didn’t know where to start?  You know, the jobs are piling up but your thoughts keep wandering to other things.  The weather is beautiful so the outdoors is calling.  The cricket is calling, so the TV beckons.  The tumble weeds, from your cat, are beginning to resemble a desert rather than your kitchen floor. Just one more level to be conquered on Candy Crush.  Bills to pay, phone calls to be made, groceries to be restocked, books to read, birds to watch, blogs to write …. and of course the really big one!

It is only 63 days until Christmas, people!!!!

Fev's fur tumbleweed!
Fev’s fur tumbleweed!

It was during one of these many days of options, that I thought about the things I love about living alone.  It doesn’t relate you say!  Oh for me it does – big time!  You see, when Adrian was alive and the kids still lived at home, my days of options were limited.  Indeed, mostly my days were mapped out for me around the needs of my family.  We went to swimming when the boys needed to.  To doctors appointments when necessary.  School events and social events revolved around the family.  Meals were expected at certain times to fit in with each persons busy schedule, as was the whole laundry thing!  I was teaching full time, so if stuff didn’t get done – chaos reigned!  I longed for the day when I could choose what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it.

Well, that day has arrived and it is everything I thought it would be.  I can wash when I run out of undies!  I can cook whenever and whatever I feel like eating.  I can stay up as late as I want and sleep in if I need to.  I can choose the food I buy and know that when I go to the cupboard for something …. it will still be there and unopened!  The toothpaste always has a top on it; the lights are always switched off when not being used; I can pee with the toilet door open; empty toilet rolls no longer can be found piling up on the floor …. need I go on?

It is truly everything I thought it would be – and worse!

Who knew that having so many options would do my head in so quickly?  Not me!  How annoying is it when the bathroom needs cleaning and you have no one to blame for the toothpaste on the mirror, but yourself?  How soul destroying is it get up in the morning, only to remember that you decided to make yourself a smoothie for dinner at 11:15 pm last night and so there is no milk for breakfast or even for your morning cuppa, until YOU drive to the shops to buy some?  Then of course there are the days when you have put something important in that special place, only to find you have no idea where that special place is any more!

You have to make the decisions!  You have to take the responsibility for those decisions – right or wrong.  No more arguments  I mean discussions, about who or what or when or where or how or how much.  Just options, for you to choose from.  It’s what you longed for or is it?

And then your kids come to stay or you have overnight visitors.  Schedules all of a sudden become important again.  You spend long hours chatting and eating and planning outings.  It is so much fun to prepare and consider and be a part of a team again. You realise that you have become quite sloppy and ill disciplined and that structure feels good and necessary and comfortable.  You bask in the inclusion – for a while!

Questions start to slip into your mind, like – How long are they staying?  Do we have to eat that …… now?  Would it be rude to chat with my laptop on my knee, playing Candy Crush at the same time? I’ll turn the sound off!!  Why can’t they put the toilet lid down?  Not to mention Fev’s antisocial behaviour that kicks in!!  You love these people of yours but something has changed.  You need your space more than ever before.  You need to choose the TV shows that you want to watch.  You need to be able to lie on the couch in your pj’s, if you really feel like it.  And mostly you need to be able to pee with the door open, so that the loose doorstop will NOT make that dragging sound every time you open or close the door!

Loose doorstop!
Loose doorstop!