Monday, June 30, 2014

Learning The Hard Way...

I came home from a meeting one night to sleeping kids and Juan's warning, "Just to let you know... Tori experimented with scissors tonight, and she kind of gave herself a haircut...". 
"Oh no... how bad is it?" I winced. "Pretty bad. But she was so excited to show me, I think she actually was proud of it at first. But my reaction wasn't good, so she quickly felt bad about it and now she's upset". 
Aw, I felt sorry for my little girl. She calls herself a "designer" and she loves to try new things with clothes and hair and drawings etc. Like me, she's not afraid to do different things with her hair, but I bet she thought it would grow back if she wanted it to...   

Before we 'fixed it up'. She had began to
realize the result did not match her expectation.
I remember when I was in 4th grade I used my sister's shaver and shaved both my arms in the shower one night. I was so excited to show my mum, but you can imagine her response, "You're going to regret that when it begins growing back". And she was right. I remember wearing my sweater to school for weeks during a very hot summer, until all the hairs had grown back. They were prickly and thick and I was just mortified. So I totally understood what my baby girl was going through. 

The next morning I called her into my room and braced myself for a shock. She hesitantly approached me with her head down. "Hey, that looks great!" I said. She looked up. "Huh?" "Yeah, I think it looks very pretty. It totally suits you". She smiled. I was lying of course, it looked ridiculous, but I honestly did feel that her face was pretty enough to pull it off, so it was not a total loss. But yes, it was a disaster, and she had cut off a LOT more than I had imagined. So I casually offered to 'straighten it up', and we got to work on fixing it. I tried my best, and the result was kinda cute in a Dumb and Dumber kind of way.. Having said that, for the first week I made a note to ask everyone we met, "So, what do you think of Vettoria's new haircut that she did all by herself?", so that they knew the style was in no way my idea... :-) 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Parable of the Popcorn

I had an experience the other week which I shared in testimony meeting at church. It had a big impact on me and many others, and I thought I would put it in here so that I always have a record of it for our family.
One Friday afternoon I made Eadith and Anabel a popcorn snack in the microwave. Eadith and Anabel each carried their bowl over to me eagerly to fill. Eadith held up a large plastic cereal bowl in which I placed two large handfuls of popcorn. She walked away happily grinning at the popcorn filling over half of her bowl. Next Anabel walked up and handed me her small toddler-sized bowl. I took one handful of popcorn and gave it to her. It filled the bowl and even cascaded over the top! “Wow Eadie!!” exclaimed Anabel. “Look how much popcorn I get!” As she balanced her way carefully towards her sister, Eadith looked from her bowl to Anabel’s and back to her own. Her smile quickly turned to a frown as she complained, “Mum, Anabel got more popcorn than me!” I explained that this wasn't the case, but since Anabel’s bowl was smaller it made her amount look bigger. “But her popcorn is filled to the top and mine isn't!” she cried. Despite my explanations I could not convince Eadith that what she was looking at, in reality actually worked in her favorShaking my head with a smile I watched them walk away together. 

I then found myself comparing this experience with similar situations we face in mortality.  It made me reflect on how we may make comparisons of our own lives, with others’. How often do we look at our life with a contented smile, only to look over at someone else and notice areas where we appear to be lacking, and they appear to be at an advantage? This experience reminded me that such comparisons not only steal away our own feelings of joy and contentment, but the comparison could possibly be judged upon unrealistic appearances. If Anabel and Eadith had sat down and counted all of their popcorn, Eadith would have realised she had a lot more than her sister, and I'm sure she would see how lucky she actually was. Likewise, in our own lives, it’s easy to look at others and compare what we see, rather than counting our individual blessings and acknowledging how much we have to be grateful for.   President Thomas S. Monson said, “My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love… We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” (General Conference address, 2010). 

I am grateful for this little experience with my girls. At the time it appeared to be such a normal day-to-day occurrence, but as soon as it happened I felt the spirit work within me and lead my thoughts to this perfect parable of being sincerely grateful for the blessings in our lives and not allowing ourselves to compare what we have with what we think others have. I am so blessed in my own life. I look around at what I have and I feel at peace that Juan and I are on the path that we are meant to be on and doing what we are meant to be doing. Having said this, we sometimes talk about 'regrets' we have; choices we would have made different as a married couple if we could do it all again. Hindsight is such a blessing and a curse ;-)  But then we stop and look at our life and can't help but be so grateful for what we do have and the decisions we have made that have led us here. 

I hope that I can instill an attitude of gratitude within my children as my mother did in me. She used the phrase an 'Attitude of Gratitude' often, and through her example I saw that she was grateful for the possessions and blessings that she had in her life. 

I love this little parable and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to experience it. :-) 

New Pathways...

I wonder how many kids I'll have with me by the time I graduate this one???
Anyone reading this who knows me will be convinced that I have A.D.D., and maybe you're right. :) But I feel as though I have been led to where I am and to the choices I am making at this time in my life, despite how crazy they may sound, and I bet by the end of my explanation you will also agree. :-)

The fact is, in one month I will be returning to University to start my Masters in Training & Development. (*insert excited little claps here!!*) I know, because I don't have enough going on in my life.. :-P 
But really, I'm sooo excited about it. And when I reflect on how this all came about, and how quickly it fell into place, I am just gobsmacked. It was as if a collection of little destined accidents just took over my life for a couple of days...

This is the story..
Since January I have been running my own business as a Family Day Care Educator. It has been a really great journey thus far and I am continually grateful for stay-at-home job where I can remain a full time mother and still earn decent money and look after my youngest child before she goes to kindy next year. I have also just completed my Cert III in Child Services which I have found really interesting. I am working 3 days a week and so far combining study and work is going well. But I always find myself looking to the future for when I plan to enter the Corporate Training world again. But I just never knew how to get back into it.. 

Then the other week I was at a birthday party chatting to a friend who was doing her Graduate diploma in Education. I mentioned how I had been thinking about getting mine too, in order to update my skills for when I entered the workforce once Bel was in Prep. She then warned me that the one year diploma was going to turn into a 2 year diploma as of next January, so I better get in now if I was going to do it. I ran home that day and jumped online. After researching the degrees available, I was convinced that I in fact didn't want to do a Grad Dip in Education, as I didn't really want to teach high school or primary school kids. I wanted to teach adults in a corporate or vocational environment. I then suddenly stumbled across something called the Graduate Certificate in Training & Development, a 6 month course I never knew existed. It was exactly the course I needed to do in order to make up for my lack of industry experience after being at home full time raising kids for 7 years. So I looked more into it, and then found out that the Grad Cert actually led into the Masters of Training & Development which was only a 1 year course (awesome!), but - get this - was changing over to a 2 year Masters as of next year! I was like "Wow, how lucky was I to have found this right now-- Cut offs are the end of the next month!" Plus it was at Griffith University where I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce so I felt comfortable with the school and its programs. 

I've always planned to do a Masters degree, but I had no idea they had one in the exact arena I want to work. Griffith is actually one of only two universities that offer the degree, it was amazing I even stumbled across it. Plus, I wasn't planning on doing my Masters for another year or so, but if I didn't apply now, I would be stuck doing a pat time Masters over four years... And I began to wonder... maybe it's the right time now??

So I called a company with whom I had a contract as a Corporate Trainer just before I found out I was pregnant for the first time back in 2006. They were the epitome of what I wanted to be, and I called them and asked if this Masters would make up for my lack of industry experience since having children. The CFO was convinced that it was the best decision I could make for my career, as it showed a seriousness to re-enter the profession and I would be entering again with newly updated skills and a professional academic qualification that many of the trainers actually didn't have.. Perfect!

Looking forward to wearing that heavy hat again!
So, after discussion with Juan and a lot of thinking, I applied, got in, and have enrolled to start for July 28th! So excited to study at uni again, I always loved it, and I can't wait to start something that will really help me in establishing a solid pathway for a career in the future. Plus, the classes are all in the evening, so I will still be able to work during the day! For the moment yes, I will still continue with the FDC, as I can adjust it if necessary, another bonus about my little business. 

I was walking around the uni campus with Anabel the other day, and remembering that I was pregnant half way through my commerce degree with Vettoria, and then pregnant with Eadith while completing my last class before graduation, and now doing my Masters I was walking hand in hand with Anabel... Hmm... I wonder who will be with me by the time I graduate this one? :-P haha.. I'll keep you posted :-)

Did I mention we have Guinea Pigs??

Yes, we are pet owners!! We have two adorable little piggies who the girls named "Cutie" (*insert eye roll here*) and "Diego". We bought them in early January and they have just been a great little pet. They are pure read Alpacca Guineas from a breeder, and they are just perfect for the kids at this age. They live in a wooden hut we bought for them off of Los Abuelitos next door neighbor (totally meant to be!), and during the day they play in a huge outdoor pen in the grassy backyard. The girls absolutely LOVE them, and they are never short of affection or attention. We did let them in the house (carried of course) up until recently when Juan got so sick of the little poo droppings, and I got so sick of the girls not respecting our rules to keep them off the couch, that we both agreed it was time to make them 'outside' piggies. Nevertheless, between the FDC and our adoring girls, the pigs are never short of attention. They play mummys and babies with them, they put them in the cubby house, walk them around, feed them, you name it. Anabel even pushes them in the toy pram! 

We have been very lucky that they are very tame and gentle and the girls have never had any issues with them. They are so patient with the girls who can often be very rough with the poor things, but it never ceases to amaze me how the guineas keep making their little purring happy sound even when the girls are playing with them in the oddest ways. It makes me wonder if maybe they really do just love playing being played with? Let's hope so, because they certainly get a good amount of it. Meanwhile, they have doubled in size since we got them and from the look of their daddy piggie when we picked them up, over the next year or two they may very well double in size again! Their dad was a show piggie, and he was HUGE. So I guess we'll see.. Meanwhile here's some cute pics to show you our little pets!! Oh, and btw, Juan and not touched them - not even once! He tolerates having them as pets to help teach the girls responsibility, etc, but he REFUSES to touch them or pick them up or feed them, etc. It's quite hilarious. :) 

Yes, that's yellow highlighter on poor Diego's nose!! "Anabel!!"
I think the piggies actually love it! Cutie will sit in there for hours and fall asleep! 

This was taken about a month ago... Getting bigger and bigger!

Day ONE of looking after our little guineas. Needless the say now that I know what I'm doing, the cage doesn't look quite so cluttered (or clean!) at the moment, but they are still very spoiled :-)

Just like old times...

So the other night Juan and I attended our Stake Ball. So glad we made the effort to go, because a lot of our friends were there, and it was great to catch up. We also went out to dinner beforehand with friends Kara and Eli, and the night was just so great. We got to dance (and in a circle again, haha) with long time friends Sam & Emily and Eli & Kara, as well as Juan and I just with eachother, which never happens unless it's at home and the girls ALWAYS want to join in... ;)

 It was just lovely to be there with old friends who we hadn't danced with since we were all single in our pre-mission, pre-married days. At one point we looked around and said, "Wow, we're the grown ups here now!" and it reminded us how long we have all been in each others lives. It was almost surreal, but very fun to see us still hanging out and having a great time doing what we had done so many times before. Unfortunately there were a couple of members of the ol' gang who were unable to make it, but for those of us who did, it was a great night. 

Eli and Kara Pollard, Emily and Sam Alfred, and us.. 18 years later and still dancing the night away.. :-) 

I love when I have an occasion to wear this fabulous dress I bought from America when I was 19!! An oldie but a goodie!! :-) 

Mum and dad still glamming it up! :-)

Random snaps of Bel..

Here are a couple of pics I snapped of Anabel over the past 4 months. She is so cute, front and back! Enjoy!

Sporting a new dress, she asked me to take this pic of her. haha :-)

Anabel would give a plummer a run for his money... she ALWAYS has her bum crack showing no matter what she is wearing.. I think it's from Juan's side of the family?? ;-) 

The perfect little milk mustache :-) 

Dancing with her daddy.. is there anything more wonderful?

Always up for a pose... what a cutie!!

Happy 5th Birthday Eadith!

Eadie's birthday was back in May and  I feel terrible that I am only now putting it in here! We have just been so busy, but at last here it is. Eadith Indiana is five years old, wow! Where did that time go??
I am so proud of my little Eadith and how she has grown into an absolute dream little girl. Not only is she physically stunning but she is such a sweet, caring, lovable little thing, Juan and I often just look at her and then at each other and say "She's so cute/pretty/adorable!" When Eadith was younger she was quite a handful. We went through more than our fair share of tantrums, hitting anything and anyone, pushing, yelling, and crying debacles. But then when she turned 4 and went to Kindy, something changed. Maturity took over, and pretty much overnight she transformed into an agreeable, lovely sweetheart who rarely whinged, always said sorry, and instead of being the trouble maker, was everyone's friend.  Everywhere I went, people would comment about how lovely Eadith was. How adorable she is, how sweet she is, how pretty she is. And I haven't stopped hearing it since. I am so proud of her, she is so quick to forgive, no matter what the offence, she is humble and reserved like her dad, and she always tries her best and has a desire to be a good girl. Her prep teachers rave about her. They go out of their way to tell me the cute things she did that day or just how much they enjoy teaching her. We are simply so proud of our little Melon Head, Eadie MacGreedy. :-)

So celebrating her fifth birthday was an occasion to do something exciting for her. Instead of a party, she opted to go to Dreamworld with the family, something we had never done before. So we purchased year long tickets so we could do the same thing for Tori's birthday as well, and we went to Dreamworld for a big day of fun! And boy was it fun! The kids were in heaven! All of their favorite movie characters brought to life in fun toys and rides and adventures. We went from ride to ride, and even though we have been back three times since her Birthday, it is super fun every time. We also let her choose a present from the Fairy Shop, and made her a birthday cake and blew out the candles that night after a yummy dinner. It was a low-key party compared with the fancy do's we usually put on, but it was fabulous non the less and Eadie had a great time. While sitting together as a family during the day, we each told her three things we loved about her, and it was so nice to hear the comments her sisters made. Eadie sat there with a little humble smile on her face and I know it made her feel very special. We love you special girl, we are so proud of you! Happy 5th Birthday!

Anabel while watching the Madagascar LIVE show :-)


Divas and Discos

So this year has been the the year of school discos! We have already attended two of them this year alone and have had a great time. These pics were taken before the first 2014 disco, and the girls were so excited! Once there, Anabel just sat with me as she was a bit overwhelmed by all the noise, but Tori was up with her friends straight away, unlike the first disco she went to. But Eadie took to it like a fish to water, and has been up there non stop dancing around for every disco since. Tori actually opted not to attend the last one as she says it's just too noisy, but Eadie is always on board for a night to dance the night away. Two traits passed down from Juan and I to Tori and Eadie, respectively :-) I also took some pics of the dicso once we were there. Can't wait to show them these pics when they're old enough to be embarrassed by them .. Enjoy!

It's back to school we go!

I can't believe I haven't written in so long! Time to fill you in with everything!!!
OK, let's start with the girls going back to school. I take that back... let's start with Tori going back to school, and Eadie starting school! Yep, I have TWO school girls now, how exciting!  They both looked absolutely adorable in their little uniforms and carrying their school bags, I just wanted to eat them up!

Anabel is still at home with me, and will be until next year when she goes to Kindy. Vettoria is in grade 1 - wow!! So far she is absolutely loving it. Being one of the oldest in the class, she is advanced in pretty much every area of curriculum and her teachers are very impressed with how easily she picks things up. She has outstanding results according to her report card, and the only issue that occasionally arises is the fact that she often chats with her friends sometimes while the teacher is talking (Hmm.. no idea where she could get that from..;-) but she always respectfully stops when asked. So apart from that inherited trait from moi, she is doing awesome and I'm very proud of her efforts and work. Great job Tori!

Eadie is one of the youngest in her class, so it has been a very different experience watching her progress this year. When Tori entered grade one, all of a sudden she was bringing books home and reading them out loud. Juan and I were like, "Whoah, you can read? When did this happen? Did you even have to practice this?" It was all very quick and, no joke, I never sat down with her and repeated words or even really sounded them out. They just fell out of her mouth as if she had always been reading. Eadith on the other hand, being so much younger has had to practice and make more of an effort with her work. And its been awesome to watch and be a part of! She is progressing so well, and at a beautiful pace. Her teachers often say  she is doing very well "for her age". This simply means she is not the quickest or the smartest in the class, but she is exactly where she needs to be for her age. We are so proud of the effort she is putting in. She is not afraid to try and practice and make mistakes. She asks for help and she tries every day to say something and read faster and do her best. Her teachers just rave about her, and it's not unusual for them to come up to me just to tell me how cute they think she is. She can now read a simple variety of books and has even given two talks in her primary class which she practices so hard and did such a great job for both. Eadie is also showing a lot of flare for art, and she has created some amazing pictures that not only look really cool but you can totally see what it is in great detail. I'm keeping all of my favorites both up for display and in a folder for her. She loves school and she has lots of friends and fans. Well done Eadie!

Anabel is so excited to start Kindy next year, she is sooo ready! I'm excited for her to start too! :-) She loves to learn new things and is already way ahead of the pack in things like puzzles and memory games, etc. She definitely has her dad's brain for maths, thank goodness, and I think she will show a lot of promise in science etc. But one thing that never ceases to make me laugh and also cringe, is her 'artistic abilities'. Her version of doing a painting is getting a piece of paper, getting some paint and a paintbrush and painting the ENTIRE page in that one color. It doesn't matter if she is doing aboriginal dot paintings using a cue tip, she will color the entire page and then grab another page and paint that in another color. It's ALWAYS a mess and it's NEVER the way the instructor intended the art to be. I learned this the hard way while doing FDC activities, and the FDC coordinators have also learned this at various activities they have had. No matter how many times I warned them, they didn't listen until they saw her in action. Painting with Anabel is a nightmare. End of story. But, like I said, she's exceptional at puzzles and memory games, so we'll focus on that and hope for the best. :-)

Caught this a couple of months ago...

How cute are my girls? I'm so happy that they get along so well, I really do count it as a wonderful blessing. Here they are in Tori's bedroom laying down and listening to Tori read fairy tales to them. A simple dream fulfilled. :-)