Friday, December 30, 2016

Old snaps...

I found these old pics the other day and had to put them in.... classics now!
One was taken about a month before our wedding, when I was a bridesmaid for an Indian wedding to my friend Krishna, and the other is of our second year of marriage, when Tori was a baby... Time flies!

Time Out for Family Fun

We recently went waterskiing with'boating friends'; (aka: friends who have a boat and actually use it, in this case, the Harris's), and some work colleagues of Juan. It was lots of fun! The girls had a blast, and they even were brave enough to try wakeboarding and tubing, which I was really happy about. Even Juan had a go wakeboarding! I was so impressed as I watched and cheered pregnantly from the sidelines, unable to do any of it, but loving the day nevertheless.  I took some pics of Juan and Tori as they attempted to get up, get going, and then crash into the water. There were so many boats on the water that day, it was tough to get up and stay up because of all the wakes, and I was so impressed they almost made it up multiple times. 

Juan took both Tori and Bel out on the tube, but Eadie wouldn't have a bar of it, she was perfectly happy to stay in the boat. Especially after watching Bel and daddy flip face forward into the water on their first attempt on the tube, which really solidified her resolve that she didn't want to do it. But I was grateful that Bel chose to get on again and had the time of her life once they got going. 

It's definitely made us consider the option of getting a boat or at least some kind of water toys for the future, and we had a great time. Thank you Melanie and Brendan for letting us tag along on your fun day. It was just another day on the water for them, but for us it was a special family event! 

Christmas 2016

Another Christmas come and gone! We had a lovely time this year, it was quiet, but nice to be in a bigger house to call our own (after our tiny townhouse and my mum's place previously!) and especially to have Juan back so we were all under one roof again. 

We did the usual Hunt Family Nativity Spectaular again this year, and Tori had the honor of playing the coveted role of Mary, which she pulled off beautifully. We also went to a Stake Christmas nativity which my sister Sarah was in charge of, and Emilie played Mary, Anabel played an adorable little angel, and they both did a great job. She tried desperately to stand still for the whole time, but in usual Anabel fashion, ended up doing a kind of rocking back and forth like a little dance for a while, until she gave up and just sat down. It was so cute! And considering she was the only one of our kids brave enough to stand up there infront of the entire Stake and perform for the first time in her life, it was not only so sweet, but impressive :-)

The girls are all old enough now to really feel of the Christmas spirit, and we are trying to encourage them to think beyond presents and focus on the real Christmas message. Juan shared with them this year for the first time the story of his first Christmas in Australia. It's very emotional for him, as he and his family had arrived in Australia as refugees from El Salvador less than a month earlier with pretty much nothing but the clothes on their back. They were fortunate enough to have been given a house to live in, but apart from that, all food and clothing were donated by local Christian organisations. He shared with the girls how his parents were so sad because they had no money to buy anything for Christmas gifts or special food in that first year, but to their surprise and delight, good samaritans from local church groups brought to their homes boxes of used toys, clothing and food on Christmas day. Juan remembers as an 8 year old being so excited to receive used toys and clothes that were either too big or too small. He said that you could tell that they had all been used, but to them, they were new and beautiful and exciting. He remembers that his parents were so grateful and overwhelmed, as were the kids and it became a wonderful Christmas to remember forever.

Every year since we have been married, we have made an effort to annonymously buy groceries for a family that we know is in need. This year the girls were old enough to really participate, and every family prayer together we would pray to know who to give food to. We received our answer, and dropped the full laundry basket around. It was fun to watch the girls get excited about it, and really feel of the spirit of giving not just fun things to eachother, but things they had never considered 'gifts' to peopel in need. 

It has been interesting and wonderful to see how emotional the girls became when they found out that their dad, someone they love so much and know so well, had actually experienced such heart ache as a young child the same age as themselves. It's even hard for me to comprehend it all; what Juan and his family have been through coming over here to Australia back in 1988. I'm just so grateful for the sacrifices his parents have made for their children. They didn't speak any english, let alone know where 'Brisbane Australia' was, and they came over here without any friends or family support. Now, with each of their five children all married and active in the church, all with kids of their own, and all with education and successful careers to rely upon, it's a miracle to see the hand of the Lord having guided them in their lives. I don't know where I would be without my wonderful husband and the beautiful children he has given me and the life that we share together. 

This Christmas has certainly been one of gratitude for us, and our children, thanks to Juan being back here in Queensland with us again, as well as him sharing his family history, and I hope that the girls will always be able to take the humble and devistating circumstances of war and sacrifice that his family endured, and be able to turn it into positive experiences and changes for themselves and their families now and into the future, as we have and continually try to do for them every day. 

Mucho gracias Abuelio et Abuelita, et Felis Navidad! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Special pics for a special Grandma

This year for Christmas, Cassandra thought of the brilliant idea to give my parents a calendar with pics of all the grandkids in it. It came out beautifully! All the grandkids met at the park one day and we snapped some pics in age groups, birthday dates, and family groups, and Cassandra turned them into a beautiful work of art to give mum and dad. They absolutely loved it! It was well worth the time it took to pull everyone together in the heat and make them stand still long enough to get the snaps. I absolutely loved the ones of my girls, so I wanted to put them in here. Check these out: 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The first of the Grandchild Graduates

I can't believe my niece Emilie has graduated highschool! Given, she is about 18 months younger than her other graduate friends, but that is because she skipped grade 10, so she has technically only just turned 16 years old and has now completed highschool. Crazy! Alisha and Glen are very proud, as you can imagine. But the highlight for me was watching her get ready for her school formal. Another niece, Ava, did her hair, and I did her makeup, and with my mum and dad, as well as her's and all her six brothers and sisters looking on, it was totally a family effort glamming her up :-) And glam we did!  SO happy with how she came out :-)  Congratulations Emilie, exciting times ahead with driving, working and going to uni!! One down, only 18 more to go! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holy Moon!!!

My sister Sarah bought herself a huge telescope and we have been around a couple of different times to enjoy looking throug it. I was able to score a brilliant pic of the moon one night (with my phone through the telescope!) and I just had to put it in here. It is just so huge and bright, we could hardly focus on it for too long, it was so bright! I love seeing the craters on the moon edge in contrast to the black backdrop. It was so amazing. Thank you Sarah for buying such a special toy that we can all enjoy! xx

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Halloween 2016

For Halloween this year the usual 'trunk or treat' was not held, so instead we went to my friend Caz's house and let the kids run a muck while us girls sat around socialising. It was lots of fun. I went as a a lepoard, after Irma gave me a dress that would fit over my pregnant belly, Tori went as her dream character Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and pulled it off brilliantly much to her delight, Eadith was adorable as a pink princess after finding the dress in Alisha's dressup box and becoming obsessed with it, and Anabel was a perfect Snow White with her newly cut hair. It was a lovely time, as it always it with dressups and friends! 
Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Anabel's Big Girl Decision

Anabel waiting at the hair salon to have her big cut
So, Anabel recently decided she wanted to cut her hair. All off! She has been so proud of her long locks for the past couple of years, as her and Tori are always trying to compete with Eadith who currently holds the "longest hair in the house" title. I blame Rapunzel for all of it...  :-S

But one day she said to me "Mum, I want to cut my hair off... to here", motioning above her shoulders. I was surprised, reminded her that it wasn't going to just grown back the next day, and to be sure she really wanted to do it. She did. So off we went to the hairdresser. She was so excited and nervous, it was positively adorable. As she sat in the chair, the lady asked "How short would you like to go?" and I casually motioned  to just below her shoulder thinking Anabel wouldn't notice the difference. She did. She immediately stopped me and said "No mum, I want it to HERE" and motioned an inch ABOVE her shoulder again. I asked her one more time, "Are you sure?" She was. And so it began. I sat and watched nervously as the hairdresser snipped away, while Bel sat patiently watching. I could tell she was nervous, but, once she has her mind set on something, she goes all the way. (Don't know were she get's that ;-)  

The final product was absolutely adorable! It's like she knew how perfect it would be all along, and she was not surprised at all :-)  Check out my adorable brave girl straight after it was done:

The final product!! Ultra cute!! 

Such a cutie-patootie!! And get this, she STILL loves it, thank goodness!! Whenever she asks me "Mum, will my hair still look like this tomorrow?" and I reply "yes...", she responds with a resolute "Yay!!" No cutter's remorse here, folks.  And did I mention it's the easiest hair in the world to take care of?? I'm loving how easy it is for her to brush, and there are never any knots! Well done baby girl, you're brave and beautiful, a brilliant combo! xx

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The worst year yet...

I've filled the blog in on so many events over the past year, but not really the underlying emotional turmoils of it all in the processs. So many big things... none of which I really want to go into any depth about in such a public space, but there is nevertheless much to be shared. Where to start....

2016 has sucked, to put it mildly. It has by far been the hardest year of my 35 years on this planet. We have moved so many times, and had a collection of different trials and issues along the way. Here, I'll start form today and work my way back... 

The girls are at a new school, Rochedale Primary which is just up the road. We are also in a new ward, Rochedale, which has been another change for our family.  We moved to Eight Mile Plains about four months ago after we moved house for the second time in three months. For six months prior to us moving the first time, we were unemployed, as Juan’s work contract had ended and the economy didn’t sustain Electrical Designers in Brisbane very well at that time. The company he was working for previously then asked him to move to Darwin to work, which he accepted, with the plan that we would follow in a month or so. By then we had moved in with my parents, and for about 3 months the girls and I were living in their home as Juan worked in Darwin. Our plan was to move up there with him, but every time we began the process of planning to move, the Spirit would tell us it was not the right thing to do. I was just devastated. It was unbearably hard to be away from him for so long. He had a six month contact, and was doing “fly-in, fly-out”, with four weeks up in Darwin, and one week back here in Brisbane. It was excruciating each time he left, and I felt an aching hole in my very spirit every time he was gone. Tori and Eadie seemed to take it in their stride well enough, but Anabel took it the hardest. Her behaviour deteriorated, and I struggled for a couple of months with knowing how to manage her mood swings and temper.

After our second attempt to move up to Darwin with the knowledge that his contract up there would be renewed, we made plans to move the family up. But after visiting him a second time, and through prayerful consideration, once again, the move just didn’t feel ‘right’. How was this possible? I wondered. How was it fair that I was forced to live a single mother’s life and go through the anguish of being separated from my husband, for what seemed like no reason at all? We just had to have faith that the Lord knew best.

But, one thing I did know. I had to move out of my parent’s house. Living with them was a pleasant enough experience, but as a 35 year old woman with three kids, it was no place for me to be completely comfortable. So, my mum and I began to look at houses online, saw a townhouse we liked straight away, went to the open house the next day, and received a contract confirmation for 6 months before the end of the first week. It was an incredibly fast turnover, and it felt positively right. We were moved in less than a week later, and the girls and I were very happy to have our own place again. On Juan’s next visit home we were so excited to show him our new house, and he loved it too.

Towards the end of his 6 month contract we once again began the process of planning a move up to Darwin so our family could be reunited again. He had been offered even more money, a longer contract, all moving costs paid for, and did I mention, an all expense paid house for us to live in while we were there? The perks were high. Very high. But once again, I couldn’t deny it; the move just wasn’t right. Even Juan was tempted by the offer this time, and needed to rely on my spiritual confirmation that it was time for him to come home and look for work here. I was so nervous as he agreed to my pleadings. After all, we had been unemployed for 6 months previous to him being forced to go up to Darwin for work – what made me think looking for a job a year later would be any different? It was certainly a nerve-wracking time, but I couldn’t deny my prompting.

Juan came home around three months ago. For four days he stressed about finding work, and applied for every job he could see. Suddenly, a phone call from a church friend. There was an opening in the engineering firm he managed; was Juan interested in coming in for an interview? Yes!! He went to the interview and felt happy with how it went. That afternoon, he was offered the position and YES, we took it!! The perks of this position far outweighed the one con, which was that we were now living on literally half of the excellent income we were receiving during his time in Darwin. But the pros were outstanding; worth so much more than money. The location is a 7 minute drive from our house; it was in a field that he had not yet had experience, which was a huge addition to his career; and it was full time and not a contract position, so the potential for career growth, holidays and sick pay were now wonderfully available!

Within a year we have gone from being unemployed, to Juan living in another state, to working full time only a 6 minute drive from our house, and he now comes home for lunch every day! It has been a wonderfully amazing blessing and we can see how the Lord knew better than we did, the best outcome for our family.

2016 has been a really hard year. Not just the employment situation, but also in regards to family challenges.  It has been the atonement of Jesus Christ that has helped us through this year, and keeping focused on the eternal plan of salvation that has helped us feel joy in times that seemed so low and hard and desperate. We have never cried so much in our lives as we have this year. At one point my mum saw me and said “Oh my goodness, you look awful!” I have had people ask me “Are you ok?” randomly in passing, and I was relieved to have “I’m pregnant” as the response I could offer as to my weathered appearance. It wasn’t the absolute truth, but since our trials were so personal, it was all I could offer to relief their worrying. I considered it a blessing from Heaven.  Both Juan and I have trudged through the muddy waters of hell as we have faced both present and past realities that only surfaced their ugly head this year. But we walked through it together, and we will continue to hold each other up as we continue our journey toward perfection.

I have never been one to think that “the grass is greener on the other side”. Call me a sceptic, but I've always assumed that a smile at church didn’t mean a smile at home, just like a smile at home didn’t mean there was a smile at church. But I thought we were different. It turns out, we aren’t. Our lives are tainted with consequences and heart aches, just like everyone’s is. We are not immune to the batterings and darts of the adversary; even if you make choices to avoid them. I have learned this year that good choices do not equate to a perfect life; nor do they amount to perfect consequences at all times. You never know when negative consequences, whether by your own or others’ choices are going to affect your life and that of your family.

But I have learned this – it’s the good choices we make in our life that prepare us to withstand the battterings of Satan and deflect his fiery darts. A couple of months before Juan’s return home, the Spirit prompted me to “step it up” spiritually. It was so strong within me that I began to be more diligent in my scripture study, and to attend the temple weekly. It was a couple of months later that I realised the Lord was preparing me for the unforeseen and shockingly dramatic challenges that I would need to endure up ahead. This realisation was at first, I am ashamed to say, met with anger, as I wrestled with the concept that Heavenly Father knew what I was going to be put through, but hadn’t given me adequate warning... however this soon seeped into a feeling of humility and gratitude as I realised that he did everything he could throughout my life to prepare me, and within those final few months, to strengthen me spiritually enough to withstand the trauma that I was about to experience.

We have come so far from those early days a few months ago. My grief has turned to gratitude as I have learned so many valuable life lessons about myself, about others, and our individual journeys; as has Juan. I rely on him as my strength, as he relies on me. I genuinely believe that we are meant to be walking through this life together to uplift each other in the areas where we fall short. I am meant to lead him to perfection, and he is meant to lead me. What a wonderful blessing!

So, it has been 18 months since we were unemployed and living on Barbaralla Drive, and in two and a half weeks we will be moving into ANOTHER house! Our fourth one this year…. Did I mention 2016 has been a horribly crappy year?? :-S

But we are very excited, because this is a larger house which will suit our larger family a lot better now that Juan is home and we are expecting baby Emma in four and a half months. We can’t wait to meet her; and I can’t wait to get all my furniture out of storage! I’m so looking forward to 2017 and celebrating Christmas and new year in our new house with my beautiful family.  We are so blessed. xx

Friday, October 28, 2016

Look who's got glasses?

Anabel is absolutely adorable in her new reading glasses. Her prep teacher had noticed that she squints when she reads, and we began to notice it too. So it was off to the Optomitrist and sure enough, our little Bel-Bel needed specs for reading up close. She had a lot of fun picking them out and settled on a pair that were her favorites. I wasn't surprised that they were blue, as it's totally the new 'in color' in our household amongst the girls. And, the color just happens to look perfect with her school uniform which works well :-) 

When we got them I had to teach her the big work "responibility" as she was now responsibile for them not getting broken, etc. So she wears them for school when she does her work, but is careful not to wear them in play time nor let other kids play with them. So far she has been very responsible, and has proven to be a worthy owner of her special new item. I'm very proud of her efforts - and she's jsut so darn cute!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Drum-roll please...

We officially found out that baby number four is a.... GIRL! :-D

We are very excited about it, especially now that we are half way there. It has been such a wirlwind adventure so far, time has just flown by. Sometimes I forget that I'm pregnant! I will admit, I was shocked when we heard the news, as I had 100% convinced myself that we had a baby boy coming. I had a name and everything. Juan knew it was a girl the whole time, so he wasn't surprised, but me, I was shocked. It actually took me about 24 hours to wrap my head around the idea. I feel as though I even went through a 'mourning' process, my mind was so convinced otherwise. Anabel also took the news pretty hard, and actually said to us when we told them, "No! It's meant to be a boy, go back and tell them to check again!" lol.

But I'm happy to say that we are now all super excited to welcome our new little baby girl into the family. Now to pick a name!!!!! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Anabel Wookie

We went to the girls' school fete the other day and even though it was way overpriced, boring as anything, and was rained out within an hour, I still managed to get this adorable pic of Anabel, which has become a favorite. She loves swings more than anything, and she was finally old enough to go on this ride, much to her young girl delight. So she went on it twice :-)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Random snaps at the temple

While waiting for Yanci and Pete to exit the temple, we took some pics as a family. Unfortunately my pics of Yanci and Pete came out fuzzy, so I'll try and get some more to put in here of them :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aussie Book Week Dressups

This year at school the girls had a chance to participate in Book week, where kids dress up as book characters and parade around the school. This year's theme was Australiana, and Eadie was desperate to go as The Old Woman Swallowed a Mozzie, and Anabel chose Nutsie, a little girl koala from the Blinky Bill series. Vettoria, as a senior in the school, had the choice of whether they went in it or not and, to her regret on the day, chose to not participate. 

Their costumes were simple to make, and looked absolutely awesome, especially Eadith, who actually got into the finals for her costume which was very exciting for us all. Check out these cuties!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stuff we did while Daddy was away...

Life has been very different for us since Juan has been working in Darwin. Some things are the same, especially for the girls, but as you can imagine, for me it has been a crazy rollercoaster of highs and lows. But there are some things that have been pretty cool not having a husband around.... for one, I don't feel the big stress to have dinner ready on time every night. Seriously, wives really only cook for their husbands, not for themselves or even their kids. The kids are happy with 2 minute noodles or a plate of vegies, but offer that to a husband and he'd be like, "Where's the meat? What am I, a rabbit?" So that's one thing off my plate (quite literally!) 

Second, we can go to the movies at a moment's notice. This is lots of fun, and we especially love doing it straight after school pickup. I'll randomly say "Who wants to go to the movies?!" and they all shout "Me!" and we go and see some fun kiddy flick at 4pm during the weekday, something we would never have done if daddy was home, because he would have been home between 5:30 and 6:30pm and we would have wanted to be there to welcome him home and eat dinner together. But now, we can take off whenever we want. If we make it a Friday afternoon, we make a night of it; we catch a 4pm movie, and then hit southbank for a couple of hours where we eat chips and play on the toys. 

Another thing we do more regularly is hit the beach. Juan's not a big fan of the wavy water... or sand.... or heat, lol. So we don't go very often even though once we are there we usually have lots of fun. But, to fill in our time while daddy's away, we not hit the coast more often, and it has been lots of fun - even with Eadie's broken wrist! 

Here are some pics of us girls enjoying ourselves inbetween daddy visits. Nothing beats having him back and hanging out with us, but for now, these little fun adventures will have to fill the void... :-) 

Skyping daddy one Sunday afternoon

Ready to hit the movies for a girls night out!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Happy 9th Birthday Vettoria!

Our oldest girl is nine!!! What the--?? How did this happen? We still can't believe we have a nine year old in the house- almost into double digits!

Vettoria is just a wonderful little girl (or maybe I should be calling her a 'tween' now??) She is thoughtful and kind, and works so hard to be obedient and smart, and a good example to her sisters in all she does. She has been the standard by which I have based my mothering expectations of how kids should behave, which, admittedly is just terrible of me, because she has been such an easy and pleasant baby and young girl that it makes all other kids, whether my own or others', seem complicated and difficult in comparisson! Tori is just simply put, a delight. I adore her, and I'm happy to say, she also adores me too, yay! :-)

This year Tori was desperate to expereince horseback riding! She had gone on a school outing where she had the chance to sit on a horse and be led around, but she was desperate to do more. So, we made a plan to visit a 'local' horse riding ranch and we all (minus Eadie who had broken her wrist a couple of weeks earlier) spent the whole morning riding horses and learning how to trot and walk and stop and all the other things horses do. It was lots of fun! Even 5 year old Anabel had her own horse and was riding with the rest of us! I allowed Tori to take along her two besties, cousins Ivy and Sophie, after they slept over the night before and stayed up painting their nails, giggling through movies, and decorating her birthday cake all by themselves. In Tori's words: "Best. Birthday. Ever!" :-)  *tick for mummy!*

She is growing up so fast.... but she is very good at it. She's always been mature and responsible, and we are all so grateful she was given to us..

Much love, and Happy Birthday Vettoria Nicolle!  xx

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy Mothers Day to Me!

Another mothers day to be spoilt by hubby and the kids! I always have a lovely day thanks to them, filled with lots of attention, breakfast in bed, and lots of cuddles. This year Vettoria's Faith In God class put on a special Mother's Day Pamper night which was lot of fun; fun for me because I got to have a foot spa and massage, and fun for her because she got to paint my nails and make me a fabulous face mask, which I'm happy to say was made out of paper ;-) We only got one pic, but it's a fun one. 

Happy Mother's day to all the mother's out there!