2014 In Review

2014 Year in Review

I have an annual tradition since we have been married. At Christmas time I have sent out Christmas cards accompanied by a newsletter about our year as a couple, and then in later years, as a family. I actually love Christmas cards. I love buying attractive cards, I like writing on them and as much as possible adding a personal little note. I also love receiving them and stringing them up on display. I like drafting and printing the newsletter also. There’s something nice about reflecting on all the nicest parts of your year and laughing at a few of the more embarrassing moments or the catastrophes that you made it through. Alex and I always discuss what goes into the newsletter, but I’m always the one who writes it and adds the pictures. Alex’s job is normally to print it.

That was until 2013. And then 2014. For two years in a row I have had massive Christmas card fail. No cards were sent out from our family. In 2013 I just couldn’t find the energy to find the time and complete the project. I must say I was very disheartened by the fact that we hardly receive any Christmas cards. It seems to be a dying tradition in Australia. Within our circle of family and friends anyway. Either that or they just like us less then I thought… There’s also the fact that I have this blog, so throughout the year, you can now keep up with our family antics, so it seems funny to write it out in condensed version again.

Anyway, for all those reasons, and plus a few more, I didn’t get a card and newsletter out in 2013. But then we did receive some cards, I was so ashamed that I hadn’t reciprocated. I also just missed the whole process. So I decided that I would certainly do better in 2014. I didn’t. I must say, we were just so extraordinarily busy most of 2014, and the year just galloped to a close. I could see how busy the year was, so I blocked out one Saturday to write the Christmas newsletter. I lined up Alex to be on kid duties, I turned down invitations. I was going to get them done. Then the night before.

I didn’t feel so well.

The next day.


I spent three days in bed. When I emerged, I jumped right back on silly season carousel finishing up the school and kindy year (I hang my head and admit that my child was the only child to not give out Christmas cards to his Kindy friends also. But, I had to let it go, because seriously, the kids can’t read to begin with…) and plunging into the school holidays while wrapping up employment odd jobs. I just couldn’t find the time to write. Do you know it’s really busy with five kids? Do you know that two and three year old triplets can suck energy from your very being and the aura surrounding you?

Once again, the cards arrived. I hung my head in shame again and crossed my fingers in hope that I was not struck off the few Christmas card lists we have remained on!

I’ve already told you about my expectations for 2015. So I thought perhaps I would send out a New Year greeting to some of our friends, and I count you, my wonderful blog readers, among that number.

So here, in the style of a family newsletter, is 2014 in review.

Happy New Year, from our family to yours!

family Christmas photo

We trust that you had a blessed Christmas full of special moments. We celebrated Christmas this year with Caitlin’s family at her parents and sister’s home on their property, “Bantry” one hour from our house. We decided to maximise the festivities on the day we would stay over Christmas Eve and Christmas night. The kids happily stayed an extra day beforehand with Grandma, they love their special “Grandma days”. They don’t get them as often now my parents live further away, which probably makes them even more special. 



2014 was a year when our children continued to grow and flourish. It’s amazing when you look at photos from the beginning of the year and realise just how much they have grown and how they have developed. Alex and I have also grown spiritually and emotionally this year. It has been a year that has been often challenging for us, but challenges are often the events that make your roots dig deeper and develop character and strength.

Highlights of 2014 for our Family.

1. Family holidays in Bargara.

Family at the Beach

As much as we are able, we take advantage and use my parent’s beach house in Bargara. It is a base for them and my sister to use when they visit the Bundaberg farms, but we make the most of using them for recreation. The children are very well acquainted with beaches in Bargara. Their particular favourite (and Alex’s!) is Kelly’s Beach because it has waves that they can surf. The big boys are becoming very good at catching waves on their boogie boards and the triplets delight in playing in the shallow waters. Another big attraction about Kelly’s Beach is the food van parked there every day. The lady now knows our family and she is popular with the kids thanks to her yummy hot chips and ice blocks!

2. Alex, Trent and Jonty travelling to PNG.

PNG with kids

In July Alex took Jonty and Trent to Papua New Guinea. It was a return trip for Alex to the village of Kiru where they stayed with missionaries and former mission pastors of TCC, Walo and Namana Ani. They were originally travelling with another family, but pleasantly their visit coincided with a team from Crosshands and they assisted where possible erecting wind turbines to generate electricity for the village. In the Crosshands team was Adrian and Brenton, so the boys loved hanging out with their cousin during the day. It was a wonderful way for the boys to develop global awareness and particularly to be exposed to a Polynesian culture and the joys and limitations of living a village life with less services and facilities compared to our western culture. The boys gained such valuable perspectives and constantly talk about their trip to PNG.

3. Alex’s 40th Birthday at Peregian Beach

Family at 40th Birthday

Alex turned 40 in April! What a blessing this man is! We were honoured to celebrate all the wisdom, integrity, faithfulness and humour of Alex at this 40 year mark. We were very grateful for Alex’s family and friends who travelled to the Coast to celebrate the event with him. We rented an enormous house at Peregian Beach and enjoyed going to the beach each day and relaxing. Alex’s father, his wife and step-daughter stayed with us, so it was good to spend time together, something that is difficult to do as Alex’s Dad is still living in UAE. We also had friends stay in the house over the birthday weekend. The birthday party was a wonderful evening at Peregian Springs golf club enjoying a BBQ buffet in relaxed surroundings.

4. Aunty Julienne’s Wedding.

Bush Wedding

Caitlin’s sister Julienne was married in a sultry hot day in October to her beloved Matt. We all think they are a wonderful match and it’s been refreshing to see Matt fit into our family just as easily as Adrian and Alex once did. Matt has four children, so when they are with their Dad, our family functions are huge! 14 kids in total combined with Katrina and my own children! Julienne and Matt’s wedding day was at Bantry. A true bush wedding, they married under the shade of trees in God’s cathedral. Afterwards there was a fun fair with roving entertainers as well as stalls laden with delectables. This was followed by an evening meal. Caitlin was honoured to be a bridesmaid, which left Alex with the arduous task of dressing the five children and getting them to the ceremony on his own. He did an amazing job, although we won’t mention the child who wore shoes four sizes too large!

Bush Wedding Jump

Sadness in 2014

Earlier in the week before Julienne was married, we farewelled my grandfather, Clarence Joseph Youngberry. (Trent shares his Great Grandad’s middle name.) Caitlin’s paternal grandfather passed away at 96 years of age after declining health following a stroke earlier in the year. We feel blessed that Grandad was such an active part of our lives and we loved him dearly. 

Triplets meet great grandfather
Grandad adored babies, so it is appropriate to put a photo here of when he met the triplets for the first time.

Family Members Updates


Alex has completed another year as Senior Accountant at Arch Roggeveen & Assoc. Alex has really enjoyed working with this firm and is flourishing as he helps individuals and business with tax.

Alex received a Yamaha WR450 motorbike for his birthday. The children love riding on the motorbike with Daddy and is a favourite Saturday afternoon activity. He has really enjoyed how smoothly it rides, although it has been difficult for him to find the time to go out and enjoy it with a busy family life and an increase in church and school commitments this year.

Motorbike riding with children

Alex is now a member of our church’s management committee. This has not been an easy job to walk into and Alex is prayerfully working with the committee to solve some issues that have surfaced in the past 18 months. It has been a very challenging journey, and if you look with natural eyes, the task seems insurmountable. However, we have a strong sense of calling to this church family and believe that God is at work despite the hardship and that his name will continue to be glorified in this House and from here to our city and world. Alex also has begun service on the school board of the school Jonty attends. This has also been a lot of work learning how schools function, government policies and effective administration of a school community. Despite the workload, Alex is enjoying his role in creating a secure place for quality Christian education of the next generation.

As a Daddy, Alex enjoys reading bedtime stories to the children every evening. It is such a special time that the children look forward to each night. With our extensive gardens and land surrounding our house, Alex spends a great deal of time on Saturdays doing yard work. He constantly has shadows as he works as the children traipse after him. He almost always is accompanied by small helpers  and they particularly enjoy rides on the lawn mower. Alex also keeps our pool in order and has enjoyed the challenge working out the PH and balance of the water and keeping it maintained. The pool has looked a lot better in the latter half of the year once he purchased a new sand filtration unit.

Daddy reading to kids

Altogether Alex has an enormous year and well and truly enjoyed our beach holiday at the conclusion of the year.


Fashion Challenge

Caitlin has been busy this year continuing to be a SAH  for the five children. She has really enjoyed finding moments to have one on one time with each moment. These special moments of connecting has been some of the highlights of her year!

She has enjoyed continuing to work for USQ as a Professional Experience Liaison as it’s a flexible job that allows her to use her education skills.  

Caitlin continues to take much joy investing a lot of time and energy into her blog. It was her aim to increase readership, move from blogger to wordpress and to have her own domain name, she just scraped in achieving her goals with her blog rolling over to www.caitlinshappyheart.com on Christmas Eve. She is really praying that the blog will become more well known and that stories and tips from her happy heart is infectious and that she brings joy to others who read it.

As a step in the direction of making her blog more professional, Caitlin attended one of the largest blogging conferences in Australia in August. Problogger was a highlight of her year and very inspiring time for her, even if it was a little bit overwhelming also. It was held at the very funky QT hotel at the Gold Coast. Apart from the great information during the conference she particular enjoyed eating a lot of delicious food – the included meals were amazing and as for the in-house restaurant Bazaar – yummo!

Problogger Collage

As much as Caitlin loves time with the children, she also adores getaways with Alex. They were able to getaway twice this year. Once to Brisbane, dinner at Eagle St. Wharf and staying at Stamford for their anniversary in January. A bit later in the year they also had a quick trip with an overnight stay to celebrate a friends 40th birthday. 


In September Caitlin had her first speaking gig. She spoke to a group of ladies about “Pursuing Your Passion and Being Purposeful” at a craft retreat at Ravensbourne. She also loved hanging out with some friends at the retreat and doing a lot of crocheting. She almost finished a UFO (unfinished object) of a single bed blanket. Unfortunately on returning home she hasn’t picked it up again… Maybe a resolution to finish it in 2015 is in order?



Jonty completed Year 2 this year and had a wonderful year at school. He was truly blessed to have had a wonderful teacher who understood him and his little personality quirks and worked with him gently guiding and inspiring him throughout the year. He started learning the piano this year. Practice is a bit of a bore for him, but he is actually persisting with it so he can play another instrument, but we have said he needs to prove that he can stick with the piano first!

For Jonty’s birthday this year we gave him a trip to Australia Zoo with the family. Just to make it extra special for him he got to choose an animal to have an experience with. It was so special seeing Jonty bond with an echidna. It was a lovely 8th birthday tradition to start, but the day was very difficult with three over tired two year olds. Luckily at the end of the day, after we had retrieved a lost child from the gift shop, Jonty remarked what a wonderful day it was. It seemed the public meltdowns didn’t phase him at all. Crocs rule over cranky triplets apparently!

Jonty with an Echidna

During the winter months Jonty played soccer for our local team. He has had the same coach for three years now, and it’s good to see his skill continue to improve. Jonty is extremely talkative and will constantly plaster us with questions or explain in great detail little schemes and inventions he is planning. His favourite activities are climbing trees, playing with Hot Wheels cars, and riding his Yamaha 50cc motorbike. He has become passionate about becoming a farmer. Almost every library book he loans is about farms or tractors and when he goes out to Bantry and during a trip to Moolin Downs out west, he is Grandad’s shadow ‘doing farm work’ as much possible. It has been beautiful to watch Jonty’s hunger for Spiritual elements of life as well.


Trent Collage

Trent’s formal education began this year with an amazing year of Kindy. His delightful teacher (who also taught Jonty) ensured that his year was one full of play, learning and just a little fairy magic. (Trent was infatuated with the Kindy fairies Sunshine and Martin!) He would come home covered in dirt and full of stories, quoting little rhymes and catchphrases and singing little ditties. Trent is our little superhero and is obsessed with all things heroic. Most days he is donned in superhero clothes and costumes. He is full of energy and testosterone, often running around roaring for no apparent reason. He has also developed an obsession for Lego after receiving several boxes for his birthday. He can follow the instructions and put the pieces together remarkably well for his five years of age. Trent flourishes with kind words and encouragement and in return will also come out with many loving words of his own. He has been a great big brother to the triplets and they will miss him greatly next year as he heads off to school. During the days he was at home, he would have them organised in creative play and be doting and encouraging to them. (Breaking for regular fights, as is the custom of sibling relationships.) Trent’s favourite colour is green, and will normally wear (if it’s not superhero related) paint, write and eat all things green. Have you picked up that he has a slightly obsessive personality when he likes something? He is a true little extrovert he loves connecting with people and spending time with his friends.

The Triplets

Triplet Collage

It’s hard to believe the triplets turned three in October. They had a small ice-cream party with the extended family and a friend. Unfortunately we survived the “terrible twos” and all the mischief that their united forces showered upon us, but as soon as the triplets turned three they descended into the dark hole of three year old tantrums and have taken their in-house bickering and sibling combat up a ferocious notch! At any one time one of the trio is normally sporting a bruise or a bite mark they have received from the other. Throughout the year they have also (almost) conquered potty training! If you are imagining that this would be a mess, tiring and sometimes down what gross job. You would be absolutely correct. There are still accidents during the day on occasions and they are not quite there during the nights, but we are very proud of their progress. It is just a delightful gift watching multiples grow up together. Despite the fights, they are one another’s best mates. They always hang out together and it is amusing to listen in as they chatter with one another. They are wonderful talkers and their conversations are a constant source of joy and amusement.


Toby 4 Collage

Toby is a little dynamo. He talks the least of the triplets and is the most introverted. Jayden and Toby seem to have a connection, perhaps it is the identical factor. However Toby will happily play on his own for extended periods of time. He also talks the least of the children, but to make up for it he has perfected a posed smile leaning his head to his shoulders, squinting his eyes and doing a contorted smile. It’s very funny. While he might be introverted, he is by no means reclusive. In fact he is quite the bully of the trio and is quick to manhandle others to get his own way. Teaching him gracefulness is still a work in progress! Toby loves to cuddle and when he wraps his arms around you and snuggles into your neck, it’s just about one of the best feelings in the world!


Triplet 2 Collage

Jayden is the strongest extrovert of all our children. He is constantly looking to gain eye contact with others and engage in conversation and have a laugh with. He is consistently the mischief maker and can create havoc in ten seconds flat. He is normally the common denominator when things are ‘triplet trashed’, probably because of his inquisitive nature and his reluctance to play on his own. He also has a beautiful sensitive nature. He is quick to respond to correction and apologises quickly and (mostly) sincerely. It’s been amazing to see his personality develop and along with it his love and concern for people. He is a true ‘people person’.


Imogen Collage

People often say Imogen will be very protected having four brothers. While we think that is true and we are training our young men to be gentleman and caring to girls and women, it is also safe to assume that Immy is well adept in protecting herself in most situations to begin with. With four brothers, she is one tough chick!  Nevertheless, she is completely female from her higher pitched girly voice, to her love of salad (which may well be a saving grace considering her insatiable desire for chocolate and cheese) and her absolute passion for shopping. She is a bright little thing, and if she senses that a shopping trip may be on the cards, her handbag will be ready and she will watch any movements toward the car like a hawk and beg to go shopping. Once she is on the expedition, she will repeatedly plead, “Just one more shop?”

Imogen is also mad keen at drawing and crafting. She will happily sit for extended periods of time with her paints, textas or pencils – something our boys have never been as keen to do.

Imogen talks with absolute clarity and uses her words to boss the boys around continually. (To her chagrin, they normally ignore her) She knows she is as cute as a button and has a giggle designed to charm and literally knows how to bat her eyelashes. Perhaps our boys will need to be on her guard after all!


Bronco Collage

Our labrador Bronco continues to be a beloved part of our family. Although his roaming had stopped in his previous days, when he returned to the house we now lived he remembered roaming free and wild in the days of his youth and began the project of introducing us to our neighbours. Unfortunately this project meant that he consistently would cross the busy highway opposite our house. In the last several months he has ceased playing in traffic and now when he has the chance will head several kilometres down the back paddock and visits his doggy mates living at a house backing onto the our property. If he tires of this friends, he will trot up the road to another house with dogs. This has turned out to be a great convenience for us as Caitlin always knows where to find him when he goes missing now. Luckily for Bronco, his mate’s humans are wonderfully nice people and have our phone number on speed dial and are quite indulgent in letting him stay for a play.

The children adore Bronco and he is as good natured as ever with them, although he is quite happy to gently steal food from the children and for the most part they now have protective behaviour when eating food outdoors. (The triplets generally put their food on their heads in between bites if Bronco is around.) Alex bought a trailer this year, so now Bronco is included on family holidays, it appears that he thinks the bumpy trip is worth the extra time with the family.


So that was 2014 for our family in a nutshell. What were some of the highlights of your 2014? Tell me! I’d love to know!

Joining with Sarah from Creating Contentment today because I am Thankful this Thursday.

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2015 – Ready or Not, Here I Come!

2015 New Year

HELLO!!!!! I don’t know if you have missed me, but I have certainly missed you! Although I indulged in an extended Christmas/New Year break from publishing on my blog, I certainly haven’t neglected blogging. Have you noticed the address? Welcome to my new blog!!! My very own .com! I feel so grown up!

The lovely Tanya at Blogelina did a wonderful job helping me out. I highly recommend her Blogger to WordPress transfer and design transfer. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but I barely have time to write this blog let alone to learn how to do all this behind the scenes technical stuff. Everywhere I had searched previously told me that to do this would cost more money than our family budget could stretch. It was such a blessing that Blogelina had such affordable prices.

So 2015 has begun with the same blog under a new domain name. I’m still learning how to work in WordPress, but as I do, I am quietly hopeful that my dreams for this blog continue to come true. Firstly I’m hoping that I can find set times and become more regular in my contributions. I still have ideas whirring in my mind on how this blog can be an encouragement, inspiration and help to you. Please don’t be shy, let me know what you love and what you would like to hear more of on this space. Maybe we can both help one another!

Don’t you love a new year? It is bright and shiny and just beckoning for you to enter and soar to new heights.

I am feeling very optimistic about 2015. After all it’s my 40th year of life, that certainly is momentous! I should add that I will not turn 40 until the end of November so I for most of this year I am certainly still in my 30’s! However, I love a party, and when you are a grown up it takes a decade before you are justified kicking your heels up and having a great shing ding. I’m already speculating what we will do, I’ve got ideas but no plans yet. Plenty of time for that.

I have resolutions racing around in my head. I want to get them down onto paper. To make them real. And include an action plan. So that they will happen.

I have started the process. I didn’t want to write it all out on January 1. I want to be careful and considered so that my goals are realistic and achievable. We were away on holidays at Bargara. I had been getting up early and walking along the coastline, at the end of the walk I sat down at a picnic bench and while the sea breeze blew I started writing my plan. It felt good. I need to continue because the storm clouds gathered and as the rain started to spill I raced back to my family eating their breakfast and bickering over who got to sit in the ‘best’ seat.

Some years I don’t write resolutions because it feels so cliche and I don’t want to write something I will fail at. Because that’s what you keep hearing, that most people don’t follow through with their resolutions. To be truthful, I do succeed sometimes, and then there are failures. This year I’m setting many goals, but I want them to make differences in my life and for those I love. Many of my goals are the simple things. Because there are plenty of simple things I can improve on that will make a huge difference in my life and for my family. I have goals for my family, organising my home, my spiritual walk and my blog.

We welcomed the New Year with friends. We sat on the balcony across from the ocean (we couldn’t quite see the sea) and ate seafood and sipped champagne. Earlier we had cooked fish and chips for the children. It had taken a bit too long doing this, so we missed watching the fireworks on the beach like we had planned, but the kids watched them from the car as we drove closer to them. Whoops! We then turned around and let them play with the sparklers on the deck before getting tucked in for bed.

Then we sat on the deck and chatted until midnight. After midnight we said a prayer blessing the New Year before heading to bed.

Another New Year with my love. It was stinking hot and the humidity sky high in Bargara and the a/c was broken. Hence the shiny skin and frizzy hair!
Another New Year with my love. It was stinking hot and the humidity sky high in Bargara and the a/c was broken. Hence the shiny skin, no make up because it’s slid away and frizzy hair!

We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.  Cycling by the seaside (Alex and the kids cycled, I walked the dog!).  Ice cream breaks and hanging out with friends.  Sunshine and swimming in the beach.

Girl at the beach


Dog and boy on the beach

Boogie boards and kids on beach

And all too soon, it’s back to reality. Although there is something about returning home from holidays in a new year. That sense that the holiday is over and the anticipation that real stuff is about to begin. Somehow the new year has brought a feeling of restoration. 2014 was a challenging year for us and contained hurt from people we trusted and heartache from things beyond our control. I felt disheveled and limped over the finish line. I was praying for this New Year and felt my word for this year is “New Beginnings”. I am believing that God can make all things new again and can sense there is fresh hope in this New Year so I am taking a deep breath in and looking forward with optimism. I don’t think that it is going to be an easy year. Already there are dark shapes looming in the distance that I know will take courage and perseverance to pass them by. But come the end of 2015, I know I will be a stronger person (even though I will be 40. Sigh.) and have learnt lessons that will continue shape my impact on my corner of the globe.

Anyway, I’m getting deep and philosophical. Enough about me. So tell me, how was your Christmas and New Year? I would really love to know? How are you feeling about the new year that stretches before you? Do have goals, words or impressions of what this will be for you?

Today I’m linking with


Talking of which, I love Grace’s post about her Year of Small Things. Make sure you check it out. Kind of sums up life for me now. Because small things are often the big things in life.

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Elf on the Shelf – Easy Peasy Ideas!

Last year The Elf on the Shelf joined our household. Our elf was named “Elvey” by the children and each day they would seek him out to find out where his new spot for the day was. For those who aren’t familiar with The Elf on the Shelf, (it’s a newish concept for most of us in Australia, even though it’s firmly established in the US.), our elf, like all other Elves who sit on shelves, is a scout elf. He sits and watches the children all day and at night magically flies back to Santa where he tell Santa what’s been happening in our household. (Oh yes, there were some naughty moments last year where I did point to the elf and then witnessed a miraculous behaviour shift.) There is a story book which arrives with the elf outlining all of this, and the book also makes it clear that to retain the elf’s magic you cannot touch the elf. (Sheer brilliance, it’s clear the author was familiar with children!)

Elf on the Shelf from Amazon

During December, we really had so much fun with Elvey. Mind you, I wasn’t always creative with his placement, (Hello! I had two year old triplets!) There was some mornings that I was secretly hiding the elf behind my back and scampering through the house to shove the elf in a new spot for the day. Thanks to the innocence of childhood, my children were delighted to see him even if he was doing nothing exciting, the thrill of finding him was enough for them. Exhibit A & B below!

Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf was hanging from the fan.
Jonty discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Jonty looking at the elf simply sitting on a shelf!

Elf on the Shelf Hanging Underwear from the Ceiling Fan.

Elf on the shelf on a ceiling fan

 Oh yeah. That cheeky elf looked very comfy hanging in the kids pants. Trent was a little disgruntled, but happily saw the joke eventually.

Elf on the Shelf in undies

Sitting on a Shelf With Candy Canes looking Christmassy.

Hanging Out in the Bathroom and Plastering the place with Bows.
This was actually more complex then I expected! The bows just would not stay on and were dropping off everywhere! By the morning there was basically a pile of gift bows on the bench top.

 Elvey was hanging on the shower screen, but kindly offered the children the candy canes for a Christmas snack.

He also left a letter giving them some feedback!
Luckily the boys thought it was cool!

Hanging out with the Nativity crowd.

Getting spicy in the spice rack.
It took forever for the boys to find the elf this day, and the needed some substantial clues before they could locate him. Another example of how simplicity did not disappoint.

Hanging around Drawing
I gave my sister the honours of elf placement one night when she was visiting and this was what he ended up doing.

 Mixing it Up.
The elf on the shelf was in the playroom mixing an invisible something in the toy pots and pans this day. Trent ‘wrote’ (it was dictated) a letter to Santa and got us to put it on the Shelf with the Elf so he could deliver it to Santa when he flew back to the workshop that evening. (He got one thing on the list, Santa can’t deliver everything it turns out!)

Checking out the Aussie Animals Cards
Turns out even elves can get sucked in by Woolworths brilliant marketing ploy.

Wise Old Elf on the Shelf
Once more Elvey is on a shelf. This time hanging with the owls.

Elf on the Shelf with owl
Reindeer Loving Elf
Last year I bought these gorgeous white reindeer from Coles. Elvey loved the little guys as well. Must have made him homesick for the reindeer back at the North Pole. So he fed them carrots. This was actually my favourite elf position that I did, even though the poor little guy needed to be roped in as well. It can be hazardous hanging on to a carrot that is more than your body weight.
Elf on the shelf feeding a reindeer.

Another morning Elvey was riding the reindeer. As you can see, the boys thought this was funny.

Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Toilet Paper Mischief
It seems that scout elves often end up creating mischief in the toilet. Trent was aghast. Personally, I  would not be hanging out in our loo if I were an elf. Trust me. Little boys have bad aim. Our WC is not always a pleasant place to be.

Elf on the Shelf in the toilet

Elf on the Shelf with toilet paper

In any case, The Elf on the Shelf was a lot of fun for our family last year and I’m looking at finding more places for Elvey to hide this year. It will be more fun for the triplets this year also I think.

I’ve got a Pinterest Board full of ideas of where Elvey can hang out – but would love to hear a suggestion if you have one! Have you heard of Elf on the Shelf? Do you have a scout elf at your home or do something similar? Are your kids starting to catch the Christmas spirit yet?

Linking with Essentially Jess

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Triplet Potty Training Week 2

And so the potty training continues. You can pop over and read Triplet Potty Training Week 1 if you missed out last week.

We have been allowing them to spend as much time with ‘big girl/boy’ pants or no pants at all as much as possible. I had been putting nappies on them to sleep. It soon became apparent that Imogen was holding on for as long as possible to do a wee in the nappy. I then started to put her to bed with no nappy whatsoever. I was very surprised that she was waking up dry from her daytime nap! In the evening if she hadn’t been to the toilet I also put her down without a nappy, which did mean wet sheets on one night. The second night she fell asleep without wetting the bed and I put a nappy on her after she was asleep. Most of the time she pretty well refuses to wear pants. It is getting colder, so I’m hoping she’ll start wearing them soon!

The boys are showing some interest, more enthusiasm from Imogen, but it hasn’t entirely clicked in either of their heads yet. Toby seems to have more awareness though then last week when he virtually had none!

All of them have done number 1’s in the potty, but have not done this with any regularity. They quite liked sitting on the potty together at times. Miss Stacey has been doing a great job with helping them on their journey to pants!

I’m still not certain that we will continue or give it another shot when the weather warms up. We’ve had some successes, but there is still a lot of resistance coming from them. If it gets too much, I will try again when they are going to be a bit more enthusiastic. At least when the weather is warmer it’s easier to run around naked!

But without further ado, I’ll show you some pictures of the potty training triplets journey for Wordless Wednesday. Which is kind of Words are Less, rather then no words type of Wordless for me!

Toddler Boy Potty Training
With so many little individuals fascinated about toilets right now, why wouldn’t you spot this as you walk past a hallway?

Toddler Boy Potty Training
And then disappearing around the corner.

Triplets Sitting on Potty
Miss Stacey patiently encouraging patient sitting.

Triplets sitting on potty
They had a pleasant communal evening potty session.
Potty training triplets
This time a tandem potty sesh.

Potty training triplets
They both needed to go at the same time. I turned around to pick something up and before I knew it the toilet paper was being loaded into the loo.

I might have stopped it from happening the first time, but later in the day I went into the toilet to find the roll had been ‘used’. (And of course the empty roll was still on the hanger. We’ll get to that lesson later…

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My Little Drummer Boys
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Easterfest Day 3

Easterfest 2014 is all over. If you missed it, watch below for an action packed re-cap.

You can also read what our family did at Easterfest on Day 1 and Day 2

I’m not sure whether to be sad or a little bit relieved. Sad because Easterfest is a fantastic festival, great artists, so many things to do and fun. But I am relieved we didn’t go today, because as much fun as it was, gosh it was so tiring doing it with five kids under seven – and in particular, you guessed it, the three two year old triplets.

When we were home from the festival, the triplets did sleep well, let me assure you! Alex and I my parenting strategy is just to get in and do things and deal with the fallout afterwards. So Easter Monday was officially devoted to going slow and recovering. Don’t tell the triplets, but because they were fully zonked out and taking an extra long nap, they have missed out on a post Easter egg hunt with some friends at a local park. The big boys were happy to go along though – not that any of them needs extra sugar, but that’s another story.

Talking of which, sugar is exactly the way Easter Sunday began, with Trent, our living alarm clock, running in and letting us know that the Easter Bunny had came! He then specifically came over to me and made a point of saying, “The Easter Bunny has given me chocolates, not you. Just the Easter Bunny.” We tell him every year that the Easter Bunny and Santa aren’t real. (Just our choice, no problem with those who don’t) It doesn’t matter. He simply refuses to believe me. At least he can never say I lied!

Little did he know that after coming in late from a watching the jazz at Easterfest, (See ) I had stayed up late not only filling their Easter buckets with chocolate, but also loading a new game onto their leapsters/leap pad so they had something to distract them at the concert on Sunday night.

The triplets normally are locked in their bedroom in the mornings. (On account of their super powers of destruction if they get up before us.) I didn’t trust them enough to leave chocolate in their room with no supervision. They were pretty happy to find the buckets at the door when they woke up!

Small girl emerged without clothes on. She defies fashion trends and has decided she hates onesies.  It is an ongoing battle between her and I at the moment…

Of course there was chocolate for breakfast.

There’s only one day of the year you can get away with chocolate for brekky!

Anyway, onto Easterfest. We headed to Mainstage for the church service. As usual it was a brilliant time of corporate praise and worship. Our church traditionally runs the Easterfest service, and there is always a big crowd from Easterfesters and particularly the campers. We were so proud of one of our great pastor’s Nat Spary preaching the sermon. Nat shared his testimony about growing up in a dysfunctional home. He was so poor “that we couldn’t afford the R in poor and that just left us with poo.” Because of the Resurrection that we were celebrating on Sunday, Jesus has set him free from a life of hurt, pain and addictions. He learned that God’s love had the power to heal and to save. These days Nat runs an awesome ministry called The Base which ministers to the poor and disadvantaged, to kids who are in a similar situation to him.

This is Nat and his incredible wife Tiff. I had run into them in Kidsworld the previous day!

After church we went home and settled some very tired triplets down for a sleep. The big boys and Daddy kicked back and watched a DVD, so I took advantage of the peacefulness and escaped back into town to watch Jars of Clay at “The Palace” (tent!) It was so nice just being out on my own and enjoying the music. I had to run away a bit early, but I couldn’t resist ducking in to have a quick look at the Lifeline tent after hearing such great things about it. I picked up a cute shirt and dress, complete bargains. Yay!

Once I was home I discovered the triplets were still sleeping, (they clocked up a three hour nap, thanks to Easterfest exhaustion!) so I raced madly around the house packing things, particularly warm clothes, (Toowoomba is chilly at this time of year), so we could go out as a family to the final event on MainStage. We were a bit nervous about how we would go with all the kids. As always, we decided to plunge in and just do it. We always have an “Abort Mission” clause that we’ve agreed to if things aren’t going well. A few times, a very few at that, we’ve aborted missions. But for the most part we find that we get through things, and we would prefer to be doing stuff rather than sitting safely at home and missing out on the fun.

Minus one child in the pic Sunday night.

Having said that, it may be that the people sitting behind us were wishing that we aborted the mission sooner. There was certainly a lot of movement from our little patch on the grass! Thankfully no one seemed to notice or mind the strange attire and state of our
kids. Because we had whipped them out of bed and into the car, there were dirty faces, crumpled clothes, Jayden was wearing a girls hat that he refused to take off, the identical boys refused to wear shoes, so ran around in their socks and later in the night, Imogen refused to wear her coat, despite it being freezing. And when she finally gave in, it took her half an hour to get it on because she then refused to accept help. Ah, the joys of toddlerhood! We made it through most of the evening, even if we arrived later than we wished and missed out on Alabaster Box and Jimmy Needham, (I really wanted to hear him!)

Getting towards the end of the night…

Dami Im was brilliant. I loved seeing how genuine and passionate she is about her faith, and she really has the Wow factor as well as the X factor when she belts out a tune!

I was so impressed with how the OC Supertones worked the crowd. They had everyone up on their feet and participating. Even my kids listened and obeyed! (I wonder if they do house calls) As the kids danced around, raised their hands and clapped to the songs, I was so glad that we made the effort to come as a family.

A presentation by the crew from Yes He Is was truly inspiring.

New Empire also rocked the stage. Towards the end of the set, it was apparent that it was time to take the kids home. It would have been good to stay for the Worship Party finale, but this is just the stage of life we are at.

Altogether, I am very grateful that the organisers of Easterfest giving us tickets. It has been a pleasure to share with you about this well organised, fun, inspirational festival that is full of talent, passion and faith. To be honest, it hasn’t been easy taking five kids to the festival every day. We were absolutely exhausted by the end. There are a lot of moments I just wanted to give up. When we came home at lunchtime I felt like bawling while the kids were all crying, I had a sore back, I was tired and I was worried because our dog had run away since Friday night, (Thankfully our neighbours on the other side of the highway found him at their place when they returned from camping.) But after a little sniffle (such self control!) I just pulled my big girl pants up, thanked my God for my blessings and kept pedalling like mad, because it’s a glorious ride this life and I want to make the most of it!

Just to remind you as I say this, I’m under no obligation to say anything but my own opinions here. Easterfest hasn’t sponsored these posts or all my social media contributions over the weekend. I just really want to heartily endorse and recommend Easterfest as a great event for people to go to. As a family, we had a blast. Sure we don’t get to do as much as we might like, but everything we did do was awesome. (Cue Lego theme song… Everything is AWESOME!!!)  Kidsworld was so good at keeping the younger ones engaged, it may not feel you are getting value for money when you are stuck in the sandpit, but like my sister said as she hung out with me there on Saturday, “I come here when the kids are young because I want to support this festival in the hope that it will still be here when my kids are teenagers.” Her family got a one day pass, but her 11 year old eldest daughter loved it so much her and her father came on Sunday as well.  For families, if you have kids who are in their pre-teen and teenage years, I think they are the ideal age to enjoy the full benefits and value of the wide range of music available. Of course it’s ideal for young adults as well if we are talking more than families, but everywhere I looked there was people of every age group. There were a lot of grandparents sitting up the back with us at MainStage also, and they certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves even if their mosh pit days are over!

The big announcement of the festival was that Switchfoot will be there in 2015. The news hot of the press is that until April 30 you can get discounted tickets online for 2015, so it’s definitely worth checking out, or letting someone know if you think they will enjoy it. Hop over to the Easterfest and click on the tickets button.

But in the meantime, I loved it, but it’s time to take off the festival wrist wear and get on living the life that glorifies that God we spent the weekend proclaiming.

Linking with Essentially Jess

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Easterfest Day 1

Easterfest 2014 is a good one. The children particularly have had an absolute blast! Kids World is amazing!  To be truthful, I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s there, but hey, that’s to be expected if you take 5 kids to a music festival – especially when said festival caters for the kiddos so well. You’re bound to stay in that corner!

The Accountant was very adamant that the lawn needed to be mowed this morning.  It rained while we were away, so the grass was long. He did have a point. After all, I didn’t want tigers that have hidden in the grassy pasture of our backyard jumping out of the long tufts and devouring our children.

And so he was out on the ride-on this morning, doing the obligatory rides for each child. Thankfully, once each child had their turn, he was happy to give it a break since the lawn was heavy with dew this morning, so it wasn’t easy to cut.

So, we headed into Easterfest. Perfect timing really, we got to line up with my bestie Belinda from BBeingCool.

Belinda has crutches at the moment because she had an ankle re-construction. The poor thing had to explain this repeatedly throughout the day, and I suppose she will be explaining the whole time she sports a moon boot – which she wore with flair, I might add!

Because she is such a lovely person, there was no pretence she didn’t know us while our children dropped to the ground repeatedly and did their toddler thing.

Once we got our tickets (Thanks Easterfest!*) We had to deal with the toddler fallout. The two year old identicals did not approve AT ALL to having ‘bracelets’ put on. Mammoth two year old tantrum was thrown. You know the type where everyone turns to see what the heck is happening.

(Of course, Immy had no probs with the bracelet, thought it was the perfect accessory for the occasion. Look at her showing it off to her little friend that she bumped into at the animal pen later in the day!)

(I do hope she wasn’t rubbing in the fact that we had a premium upgrade though!)

We made it as quickly as possible over to Kids World. The boys didn’t want to be distracted from their very important tantrum, but within three minutes they gave in. Honestly, resistance was futile with the myriads of exciting activities therewithin! At that point I blew The Accountant a kiss and raced down to “The Forum” to listen to Nanalew, Meekakitty, (awesome you tubers, search them, so cute!) and the dude behind yesHeis (can’t remember his name, but he was seriously inspiring) and our very own Toowoomba blogger, The Crafty Mummy.

After that finished, I returned to Kids World. The Accountant was slightly frazzled, but still in control. Seriously, my husband is a legend. I know for a fact that there are many Dads who wouldn’t stay on their own with five kids for an hour and a half in a public place. Or Mums for that matter, to tell you the truth the thought scares even me. Alex ran out for a little bit for a look around, and I was very grateful the kids were happy eating some lunch and watching the SU chaplains run a  SUPA club. It was so good seeing the kids engage with the Gospel message.

After SUPA club, we did a few more fun things like play in the giant sand pit, merry-go-round, pirate boat rides, knock-it-down games, petting zoo and a giant shark slide.
Oh, and I shouldn’t fail to mention, we met Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber! Christian vegetable royalty! 
With the triplets at first…

I hadn’t noticed the duo at first. Toby kept pointing and saying, “Look!” I finally noticed that he was pointing to a person dressed as a tomato. I just commented, “Oh yes, a big tomato.” I thought it was really random that they decided to have a tomato walking around the grounds when there was a pirate theme! (In my defence, Bob was standing side on and I couldn’t see his eyes!) The boys kept getting excited and watching the tomato. Then Larry walked out and I finally got it!

Then the big boys saw his and joined in. Having grown up on a cucumber farm, I have soft spot for good ol’ Larry.
So, altogether a really fun day. Oh, except for the walking out bit. Which was much like the walking in bit. Toby was objecting loudly because he didn’t want to leave. Then he screamed blue murder while we buckled
him into the stroller. Unfortunately the mega you tubers were right next to us conducting an interview on camera. I don’t know why they decided to interview them in Kids World – although I’m glad they did, while they were waiting for the interview to begin, I had a chat with them while I was in the petting zoo. Nothing like shaking the hand of a famous You Tuber with around a million subscribers while a goat is pooping next to you. (The goat had no social graces.) Anyway, to leave we wheeled a screaming two year old through the crowd and went home. Hung clothes on the line, had fish for dinner, put tired triplets to bed, read a devotional with the big boys and said some prayers remembering Christ’s sacrifice on this Good Friday. 
The Accountant went in to see the night time action at Easterfest while I’m looking after the kids. I’ve received a text from him. “Jars of Clay playing some good tunes. The Flood – old classic. Music not to loud so I’m not too old yet!” 
Meanwhile I’ve been sitting here looking at all the #easterfest2014 hashtags on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and reflecting how awesome this event is. If you live in Toowoomba, or even nearby, seriously it’s not too much of a drive for those who live in Brisbane and other nearby South East Queensland areas, you really should consider making a spontaneous decision and coming, you can buy a one day ticket at the gate. 
I’m going to indulge in a little editorial at this point.
The tickets aren’t cheap. Especially for families. Some of you really couldn’t afford it, and I get that. There have been years that we have not come because of the money also. However, if you do have the funds, consider coming if for nothing else to support the cause. Because how seriously awesome is it that there is an Easter event in Toowoomba, in Queensland, in Australia (because this is the biggest Christian music festival in Australia) that there is an event that proclaims God’s name into the supernatural realm of our town/state/country? It is the type of stuff that by just by the amount of worship that comes out of this event, darkness is pierced. 
You might have a family like ours, or be an older couple. I get it that you don’t want to spend all that money to sit in Kidsworld or don’t have a connection with the majority of the artists. But can I encourage you, your children pick up something of that spiritual dimension just by being in the place. You will pick something up. Just being here allows God to work in your spirit. Just coming is stating that as a family, we support this cause because we want God’s name proclaimed. The reason Easterfest tickets do cost so much money is there is soooo much funds that are required to run a festival of this magnitude. If you’re just not into this type of thing so you think that it is not value for money, think of it as a donation and think of the value this event is to our nation. If you have tweens or teens, it is excellent value on all accounts. This is absolutely quality music and a super fun venue.
So stay tuned to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as I track our movements at Easterfest 2014. We are feeling the Crazy Love**! 

Jars of Clay playing at the concert I missed out on tonight. (sniff, sniff) Glad that Alex is enjoying it! Photo taken from Easterfest’s Facebook page.
Are you at, or have been to Easterfest? Favourite moments there?
What type of music is your type?

* Easterfest gifted a family pass to us, and another pass as a giveaway. But everything I have shared about the event is my honest opinion. Because a liar liar pants on fire is something I’m not.
** This years theme for the event!

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Wordless Wednesday – 40th Birthday Party

I haven’t shared many photos of my husband’s 40th birthday party, so I thought it would be a good chance to this Wordless Wednesday. If you want to read a few details on how and what we did, head to my post about Planning a Milestone Birthday Party. But here is the night in pictorial detail.

Immy’s grand entrance
The Birthday boy and the whopping big gawdy badge my sister put on him. I wasn’t very impressed at all when I  turned around and saw him wearing that. I’m already finding something incredibly tacky for her to wear on her 40th in several years time. Except I wouldn’t be that nasty.

The room.
The triplets were ready to eat the bonbonneires (giant freckles) well before dinner was on the table.

Hanging out with my family. Mum, Dad and little sis. (I’m sure she would like me to clarify that she was not the badge giving sister.)

Alex with his family and Toby. His Mum, Dad and sister.

How boys keep themselves amused at parties in the iPad age.

Toby and Imogen packing up at the end of the evening.

Oh yeah, she knows how to work a camera!

Immy had her entrance, Toby had his exit. At the end of the night, he stood at the automatic doors and giggled hysterically at them opening and closing.

My beloved and I at the end of a lovely evening.

Linking up at these lovely places:

My Little Drummer Boys

My Little Drummer Boys

Twinkle in the Eye

Twinkle In The Eye
Ms Mystery Case
5 Minutes

for Mom

Mama to 5 Blessings

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Toddler Worship

Can a two year old worship God?

I stood in the pew. The music soaked into my soul but all the while my attention was split between the corporate singing and being mindful of the little bodies squished around me. Those little bodies don’t ever stay still during waking hours and church is no exception. And neither should it be. The old tradition of sitting still in the pew in fear and trembling, not able to move all the while uncomfortable in stiffly starched clothes are mostly gone.  The church now is an inviting place and my children enjoy coming into our Spiritual home on a Sunday morning. Why would they not? They have friends to play with and adults who indulge them and give them attention and love. There are formalities, but when the talking gets interesting for adults but boring for young minds, they are able to disperse to various locations that cater for their age group and have fun, play games  and all the while learning about a faith that embraces their innocence and nourishes their spirit.

And at the start of church, there is music. There are hymns, (not played on an organ though) but mostly we sing songs about our God that have been composed in accordance of contemporary rhythms, melodies and strong beats.

While the band plays these tunes and people join and sing enthusiastically all around, my Toby worships. For three Sundays now I have particularly watched his involvement. Treasuring his enthusiasm in my heart in the way only a mother can.

His favourite position to worship is standing on the back of the seat in front of him and leaning against an adult. Toby is easy going and will be held by different people on a Sunday morning. Jayden, despite his tendency to be social, is being snobbish right now and making a point of clinging only to Daddy whenever he can. But that is another story.

And so I stood singing, Toby perched like a little bird in front of me as the music played. My boy bounced up and down, up and down. His eyes gleamed and he smiled. He watched and he continued his movement. It was deliberate and it was joyous. You could see him concentrating on his own rhythm and toddler bop. I watched him recognising that he was caught in the moment. This was his way of making a connection in the atmosphere he was a part of. I smiled as I watched him. And the words of the music confirmed my feelings,

“You are good, you are good, when there is nothing good in me.”

My heart overflowed with thankfulness. “Thank you Lord”, my spirit sang, “That you are good to me, that you have given me this opportunity to be a mother. To watch these little spirits blossom.”

The child in front of me continues to bop up and down, up and down. His funny little dance. This is my child who has limited concentration skills. Normally he would have lost interest.

“You are Lord, you are Lord. All creation will proclaim. You are here, you are here. In your presence I’m made whole.” The song continues.

As does my prayer. “Thank you Lord for being here. Thank you that my child can feel you.”

The worship ended, the service was concluded, the week progressed. The toddler was a toddler. There were giggles and laughter, tantrums and tears, cuddles and snuggles. And then we were back in church.  The music played and this time as Toby stood with me, once again perched on the pew in front, he swayed to the music. And swayed and swayed. He was worshipping again. In toddler style, doing what felt right at that moment.

Today, another Sunday, he stared and stared at the band. And then he started pointing the instruments after examining each person playing their craft. And then, probably copying those around him, but nevertheless in an expression of his contribution to the worship, he raised his little hand and kept it raised all while humming tunelessly.

My little Toby loves to worship. He is only two, but in his own little way he participates in the worship at church on Sunday mornings. Some may not think it is possible, but little ones are remarkably perceptive and pick up on far more than grown-ups often give them credit
for. It doesn’t matter if their worship lasts for two, five or ten minutes. It is them expressing themselves at the level they are at. No one is too young to connect with God. Because that’s the way God designed us. Mortal beings with need for an Immortal connection.

Toby, my darling. Always stay connected. Always worship. May your life give Glory to Him.

(And always keep on the helmet of Salvation Toby boy.)

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Valentines Day 2014

Valentines Day is a great chance for family’s to show their love to one another. In Australia, the popularity of Valentines Day is growing. When I was a child, there were flowers available in the shops, (Thank goodness, because my Dad was farming flowers for quite a few years during my childhood! Valentines Day was good for business.), but certainly only a certain number of people would give flowers or exchange cards. However, we do have a tendency to follow the traditions made popular in the US, (especially when the shopping centres realise the commercial lucrativeness of these special days), and now, like many places in the world, the shops are overflowing with Valentine opportunities and it’s not an easily forgotten day anymore.

When I was a girl, I loved seeing all our flowers picked, and ready to be delivered to the florist – roses, carnations and babies breath. (It was the 80’s after all). I used to dream of a man giving me flowers and showering me with gifts on Valentines Day. Luckily for me, The Accountant has used Valentines Day to display his love to me – it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. A girlhood dream come true is very satisfying. For those who accuse Valentines Day of being purely commercial. I don’t care. If it takes a commercial prompt to remind people to express their love, I’ll take it! Gladly.

Alex had left for an early morning meeting this Valentines Day so woke me with a kiss and a Happy Valentines Day wish. It was a little thrill to find his card later in the day, and I must say I did a little happy dance when I read that he has some Royal Doulton I have been desiring on its way. Bit surprise, because I’ve enrolled in a painting class, and he had told me that was to be my Valentines gift. Spoilt to the max! My fancy candle and massage oil for him, seemed a little insignificant, but I made it up to him. 😉 Say no more!

Excitedly unpacking the beautiful mugs and plates once they arrived.

From what I have observed over the internet, the Americans, (and probably other countries also, but Americans are most easily ‘seen’), celebrate Valentines Day with their children also, with class gifts and exchanging Valentines mail and craft activities. While I don’t think that children should be pressured to be romantic with one another, (there is plenty of time for that later in life), I do think Valentines Day is a great opportunity to teach children about the depth and meaning of love.

So, in our house, we celebrate Valentines Day. At this stage I follow a simple formula. Bake some Valentines snacks, do Valentines craft and have a special dinner together.

It’s very easy to bake some biscuits, ice them and let the children decorate them. This year, we cut them with heart shaped cookie cutters and decorated with pink sugar balls, raspberry M&M’s and lots of sprinkles.

Using a toilet roll that was folded into a heart shape and a cookie cutter, the children did printing with red and pink paint onto cardboard.

We made cards and placemats, to be used later that evening at dinner. It’s a shame I don’t own a laminator. (Perhaps one day soon.) Laminating the placemats would have meant we could have used them for the next week at least. But unfortunately they were a one hit wonder! But it all added to the atmosphere of family love!

Trent didn’t want to paint, but he did cut out paint chip samples into hearts and stripes to make cards. He had also seen Mr Potato on TV that morning when watching Peppa Pig. He wanted to make Mr. Potato, but I suggested Mr Heart Head instead. I thought his Mr. Heart Head turned out very cute!

Finally, we had a special family dinner. My preference would be to teach the children how to set a beautiful table. However, I wimped out, knowing that the triplets was going to make that project a little insane. I did try to convince Trent to help me, but he can be an obstinate child for no good reason at times, so I set the table with the home made placemats, a little chocolate treat in ‘wine glasses’ and flowers from the garden. I forgot the candles, (I was rushing), but normally the children adore candlelit dinners. On the menu was spaghetti bolognaise, (so simple, but we haven’t had it for a little while, and nothing says, “I Love You” to a child more than spag bol. and chocolate brownies. Once again, simple, but my kids always get yoghurt for dessert regularly and anything with sugar is an exciting upgrade.  But anyways, who can refuse a good brownie? I am on the hunt for an excellent brownie recipe at the moment. One that is chewy on the outside and squishy in the middle. I think I may have found it, but my oven is misbehaving right now, so I need to try it again to be sure when it working properly. (Fingers crossed the technician turns up this week.)

Of course, dinner, even though eaten with gusto, had it’s typical insanity. Life with four children under four, particularly the three two year olds, means that love is not demonstrated in peaceful whispers and silent meaningful moments. Although there are still loving family moments. Like holding hands to say grace together.

As always The Accountant and I breathed a sigh of relief once the children were in bed. Until I realised there was still the clean up to go. The meal had ended in mayhem and we quickly ushered the kids to the bathroom and the

n bed without pause to clear the table…

And that was our simple, but loving Valentines Day. I spoke a lot to the children about love and doing things for one another to show love. Of course it’s very simple at this age, but I fully intend to continue to bulk it out as the kids grow older. Having four boys, I think it’s important they grow up being able to express their love for others. I also want my girl to expect the male in her life to treat her with love and respect. Valentines Day is a great training day for future life and a day where children feel secure in the immense love that a family gives.

What do you do on Valentines Day?

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Imperfections in the Happy Heart

My husband and I have been doing a lot of bickering lately. It happens from time to time in a marriage. (For most people, if you never have any fights with your spouse, share your tips NOW!)

Last night, I was really exasperated with my husband once again not being able to see my point of view. In desperation I said, “What is it? What am I doing so wrong that you can never be nice to me lately?” (Not entirely a true statement, but when you bicker, it’s exactly the not entirely true type of statements that get uttered first.)

Of course, the ideal response from my husband would have been, “Oh, I’m so sorry darling. I’ve been awful. I’ll do much better in the morning. For now, let me finish cleaning the kitchen, you go have a hot shower and I’ll come in afterwards and massage your shoulders.”

Are you surprised that this was not his response?

Instead, he was brutally honest. His reply expressed his annoyance that I was always snappy and always reactive to whatever he said.

To tell you the truth. I was surprised. Mainly, because this is exactly the way I would have described him – not me! Therefore my first thought was to think if he stopped berating me all the time, maybe I wouldn’t be snapping. But just as quickly, micro seconds later, I had a Holy Spirit moment – you know when that quiet inner voice speaks the real truth to you?

The truth was, the truth is, regardless of who snapped at one another first, lately I’ve been being selfish. I have been placing my own agenda first. I have been boiling under the surface when I don’t get to do what I want to do. Silly little things like read a book or watch something on TV. I’ve been wasting time trawling the internet or playing Candy Crush. (I can’t believe how I’ve become addicted to this little game and I’m always finding a moment to try and pop a few more colourful little morsels. It’s at the point where I’m wondering whether I should delete the app altogether.) I’ve been distracted wishing that I could find time to write a blog and making up imaginary posts in my head, rather than living in the moment and enjoying the people who are right under my nose.

It’s all selfish. I’ve been all about thinking about what I want to do rather than how I can serve others. After all, being a mother requires sacrificial love. Too often these days you find encouragement to take some “Me time”. “You deserve it”, is the phrase that is whispered, seductive and tempting. And yes, there are moments of time we can use to do something for ourselves to refresh the soul.

In reality, there needs to be more encouragement for us to push aside seeking self pleasure, and laying down our own wants in order to make someone else happy. Playing in the sandpit with a child rather than sitting back and basking in the sunshine, spending a little more time to make a special dinner rather than whipping together the quickest meal possible. Taking the time to discipline by patiently and calmly correcting the behaviour rather than yelling in frustation. Tidying up before the husband arrives home so that he feels contentment as he walks into an organised home rather than checking facebook for the upteenth time. Choosing not to get angry about the mess that has just been made, but rather to be grateful for the little person who made the mess being in our life.

It’s all about priorities. If I say my family is the most important thing in the world to me, then I should have the actions to prove this sentiment. I don’t want my children and my husband to feel that I love them only when it is convenient to me. I want them to always know that they are always the greatest loves of my life.

I am not perfect. Already today I have fallen short. But I learn. I grow. I keep listening to the still small voice within and let the Holy Spirit guide and lead me, helping me to the best mother and wife I can be. It is in this service as a mother that my heart truly is happy. Caitlin’s Happy Heart is dependent not on fulfilling selfish desires, it’s by submitting to the higher calling, living my destiny to be a mother. Laying down my life in order to serve others. To do this is to follow the example which is in the gospels. And today I choose to follow it and be more Christlike.

Do you struggle to overcome selfish ambition?

So blessed to have such a wonderful family. They will continue to be my motivation to being a better person.
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