Friday, December 30, 2011
In this box, contains an envelope for each month of the year. Each envelope contains a pre-planned activity for us to do. Big Spring isn't allowed to open each envelope until the beginning of the relevant month. I let him open up January's envelope early, but you won't find out what the activity is until after the event and I blog about it!
There was one extra envelope in the box, which held 'instructions' on what the box contained and how to 'use' it:
The envelope contained a calendar, representing booking in our date for each activity, written instructions, explaining the box and a block of chocolate, in case Big Spring felt a bit ripped off for not having received something tangible for Christmas that he could use straight away (he also got a wallet from Little Spring, but still!).
My plan will be to scrap book about each date night, so we have a collection of our (hopefully!) memorable dates throughout the year... and possibly beyond if this concept takes off as a yearly tradition!
I also plan to blog about each event, so stay tuned for each of those!
Monday, December 26, 2011
We had church in the morning, where we spent our time celebrating the birth of Jesus with great passion.
Little Spring and I came home to get the final preparations done for our big lunch and Big Spring headed up to the Tablelands for a Christmas service at Atherton.
The table was set and ready (actually, it was set and ready on Christmas Eve morning - for those of you who know me, I'm overly organised sometimes!):
So I had plenty of time for finishing touches to the house (cleaning etc) and making Mum's German Potato Salad (a tradition each Christmas) before everyone arrived.
While waiting for Big Spring to get home, we ate plenty of cheese, dips, crackers and other Christmas treats. When Big Spring arrived, the feast started and the 3 couples and 1 single lady who came to join the Springs for Christmas laughed and had a wonderful time and ate until we could barely eat anymore.
At this point we'd only had main course, not dessert, so to give our stomachs time to make room for dessert, we opened our Kris Kringle presents. Always fun!
Then the feast continued... pumpkin pie (made by me!), pecan pie (made by another American!), pavlova, fruit salad, fruit danishes (affectionately nick-named dessert pizzas by the group because that's what they looked like - pizzas!) and my Rudolph buttersnaps.... sooo much food!
Once we let dessert settle, we headed out to the pool for the rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy the fine weather. Later in the evening, everyone gradually went home. We collapsed on the couch, exhausted, but happy and very satisfied!
We're looking forward to hosting another 'orphan's Christmas next year!
I pray that you and your family/friends had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas.
(Sorry that there weren't more photos, but I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to take photos, except the group ones at the table!)
Monday, December 19, 2011
Christmas is just around the corner. As it seems to each year, it has really crept up on me! It is certainly going to be a new experience for us this year. It's the first time that we aren't going to be around extended family. Every other year, either we've travelled to them, or they've travelled to us. Instead, Big Spring has church commitments (being a pastor, that's not surprising, with Christmas being one of the main seasons on the Church calendar!), so we aren't able to travel to them. And with us being up in Cairns, it's a long way to travel for them, and would be leaving behind other family members, so it's understandable. So, what will our Christmas look like?
We'll be attending (or leading, in Big Spring's case) a 7pm service at church. We'll then head home for a quiet family night of opening up our Christmas presents (a tradition with my family that I had growing up, that now works well with Big Spring being a pastor!).
Church in the morning again. This time at 8am. Big Spring then heads up to his second congregation in the Tablelands for an 11am service. He'll hopefully be home by 1pm, when we are hosting an 'orphan' Christmas Day lunch... there are a number of people in our congregation that don't have family up here to share Christmas with, like us, so we decided to host lunch for those people. It should be a heap of fun! We'll have a Kris Kringle and lots of yummy food and drink. It's certainly going to be very different from having Christmas with our family. Instead we'll be celebrating with our Church family, who are just as important!
What family traditions do you have at Christmas? I'd love to hear how you celebrate!
My prayer for you and your family this Christmas season is that while you celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, you have time to stop and reflect. Christmas can get so busy; so many presents to buy, big Christmas lunches to cater for, dealing with a influx of family members living in close quarters with you, or you them: it's easy to forget why we have Christmas. So, try to remember to stop, breathe and remember the first Christmas.
Wishing you the comfort of His love, the joy of His salvation and the peace of His presence.
- interstate travel
- dinners, brunches and other catch ups with parishioners
- a root canal
- my Avon business starting to really boom/bloom and turning more into a business than a hobby
- dealing with the "Terrible Twos" of my 'angel' Little Spring!
- the build up to Christmas and all that entails
- helping friends move house
I'm sure one could forgive me for being silent on my blog!
So, our recent interstate trip actually included 2 different States. Firstly, we flew into Melbourne for Big Spring's sister's wedding
The newly married couple and our niece & nephew
The Spring family, minus Little Spring, who was having a nap
The Happily Married Couple!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Once again, I have covered this challenge well here, here, here and here. There are so many other people that I could cover in this challenge also, but I'll just keep with my obvious family theme here and use this picture:
This picture covers 2 people - my mum (left) and her sister, my aunty. Both are very special women in my life and both live quite a distance away so I don't get to see them very often. My mum and I have always had a very close relationship, so it's hard not living close to her now, especially raising Little Spring and missing the family support that would be helpful. Over the past 10 or so years, my relationship with my aunty has really developed. With her living overseas, our catch ups are few and far between, but for each catch up we've managed, it deepens our connection. So much so, Little Spring was named after her!
I thank God for the internet, so keeping in touch with Mum and Aunty Ellen is much easier... not to mention the great phone plans so I can even call Aunty Ellen in the States quite cheaply (or even for free, if I use Viber!).
(On a side note: any of you with iPhone or Andriod, I'd highly recommend you download Viber for free; you are then able to call anyone else with the app for free, anywhere in the world, so long as you have internet on your phone at the time!)
Monday, November 21, 2011
Yes, another picture of Little Spring! I just love this picture. I walked in to check on her while she was napping one day, and this is how I found her... somehow her dummy had stuck to the side of her face! I quickly went downstairs to grab my phone and thought for sure the dummy would no longer be there, but amazingly enough, it was, so I snapped a picture and even got a smile from my little angel!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Our new iPod docking station. Soon after moving up here to Cairns, our stereo system decided to stop working. That meant not having a CD player - doh! I love putting music on and turning it up, especially when I'm doing housework. So, we've been without music for quite some time (except for Little Spring's children's CDs which have been playing in her play area with the portable CD player).
Over this last week, we decided to finally bite the bullet and bought this docking station...which was on special - bonus!
Wow! What a difference it's made having music back in the house... Big Spring has been feeling more refreshed with his favourite band, Third Day, playing most of the time! What a blessing technology can be... and just in time to start playing all my Christmas CDs!
Well, I pretty much covered that challenge here, here, here, here, here and here! Can you tell I love my family much?! So, just for something different, here's another photo (or 2)!
I decided to go with a slight twist... I LOVE these photos of Little Spring when she was only a few days old. Those are my hands in the photo (so, yes, it's technically a photo of me and a family member!). I especially love the one of her tiny, tiny feet, that I could hold in one hand! And then the precious photo of her tiny, tiny hands grabbing my finger!
My beautiful little girl. How I love you so!
(These photos, plus a heap of others, were taken by a good friend who was a professional photographer in a previous life.)
Friday, November 18, 2011
It's not all together obvious, but this is a jar of "Leible Homemade Applebutter." And why does it mean a lot to me? Well, a few weeks (months?) ago, my family in the States, who I miss so very much, got together for their annual applebutter making. I was so disappointed that I couldn't be there when all the family were gathered together. The applebutter making is a huge event (much bigger than I even realised!) and occurs all day, while the family catches up. Was I jealous much?!
Anyway, to my absolutely surprise and excitement, a jar of this 'famous' applebutter arrived on my doorstep! My beautiful, wonderful cousin had thought to send this to me with a lovely card "Dearest Janelle, please enjoy this gift of applebutter from our Leible family bounty autumn 2011. May you feel all the love & hugs from Missouri!" Oh, what joy! And such amazing timing... I was having a hard day after hearing some sad news, so to have this arrive, really, literally, made my day! So, yes, I think I can say that this is a photo of "something that means a lot" to me!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Seriously? Well, it's easy enough to find a picture of me from last year... but how I've changed? I don't really have another picture that would reflect that very well. And what exactly has changed about me? I don't really think much, except superficially (i.e. no deep changes have occured, that I can think of!)... okay... let's find a photo from last year and see where it takes us!
Right! So, the first thing I had to do, was find a picture of me from last year... I had quite a few photos to choose from, so thought I'd go with literally, a photo of me from one year ago (as opposed to just 'last year'). The closest I could think of was the "Sem Wives' Graduation" night which is held at the end of November/beginning of December. Instead of going with a traditional, front on view, I decided to choose this side view for something different, and to show off my hair, which I'd had done at the hairdressers just for the evening (Big Spring told me to go and get pampered for my special night - sweet!).
And the second part of the challenge... how I've changed.
Hmm... this is hard! I can really only think of 'superficial' changes... does that make me shallow?! Well, let's start with those then. I've changed:
- where I live (moving from Adelaide to Cairns)
- from being the wife of a student to the wife of a pastor. Although the bigger change was for Big Spring becoming the pastor, of course there are implications for me. I guess I could go into how becoming a pastor's wife has changed me, but to be honest, with the lack of sleep I've had lately, and lack of time now, I'm not prepared to broach that subject right now! Briefly, in some ways it hasn't changed me at all, but in other ways, life has changed completely! A satisfactory answer? I think not, but that's all you're getting from me for now!
- how I spend my days. When we were living at the Sem, my life mostly revolved around Sem life and those living there. I would do most things with my friends living next door and up the road and would often pop in for a drink, or walk up the road to hang out at our local coffee shop. Now, I don't live next door to all my friends and the local coffee shop isn't just up the road to walk to. Instead, I've had to find activities for Little Spring and I to be involved in and catching up with friends more involves making a date and meeting up, rather than a last minute, knock on the door with a suggestion for a catch up.
- the dynamics of friendships. I've got some wonderful friends all over Australia. Some of these friendships were forged over 4 years living at the Sem, in fairly close quarters to each other. Now that we are all living far apart, the dynamics of those friendships have changed. Not to say that we aren't friends, or any less of friends, just that with our situations changing, our friendships have as well, being long-distant types. Coming up to Cairns, I had to consciously change the way I thought about friendships up here because I was so used to the Sem life and those friendships and it was such a unique situation!
So, I don't really know if I did a good job on this challenge, but that's me at this point (sleep deprived and have dinner on in the back ground!).
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
This challenge is really hard! I'm desperately trying to think of something and nothing is coming to mind! Okay, finally thought of something and managed to capture it in one photo (okay, one photo collage!)
I wish we could change the distance we live from our family. Being interstate and international, it's hard not to be able to see them on a regular basis. Thank goodness for the internet and cheap and easy calls that we are able to contact them to make that distance seem at least a little bit less.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I don't really have any one favourite book... I just love them all! But I decided to put "Back Home" by Michelle Magorian as today's Photo Challenge. This would have to be the one book I have read the most. In high school, I used borrow this book from the library all the time. I can't tell you how many times I borrowed it, but there was something about the book that I loved.
A few years ago - I don't know why - I thought of this book and decided to hunt it down. Borders didn't have it, but they ordered it in for me. I was so excited when I got the call that it had come in. It was a different cover to what I remember, but the story was exactly how I remembered it. I wasn't sure I would enjoy reading it as an adult, but I actually did, and it took me back to my childhood as I read it and remembered the story and how I felt reading back then.
Since buying the book for myself, I've only read it the once, but I should really read it again, for old time's sake!
For those of you that are interested, here is the blurb from the back of the book:
It is 1945 and twelve-year-old Rusty is back in England after five years in the USA. In a world of war-damaged cities, rationing and drabness, where even her family seem like strangers, Rusty feels alone and homesick as she tries to belong to two countries at once. Finally, her tough spirit leads her to a dramatic and devastating rebellion.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Cake decorating: I love baking and decorating cakes, but I'd really love to learn some techniques. I know I could do much better. I've learned a few hints and tips through a couple of birthday cake books, but have never done a hands on course. It would be so much fun and very useful!
For those of you who know me, I'm a bit of a perfectionist in many areas of my life, but cake decorating is one area that lets me down (or, I let myself down!).
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Our very good friend, Bec. She and Big Spring used to work together in ministry and became friends. We then started hanging out as well and our friendship grew from there.
Things I admire about Bec are her passion for women's ministry, her faith in God (and her obedience to His Will) and her strength in character. When I see Bec, I see confidence and contentment in herself, a trait I look for in myself. If I need good, sound, unbaised advice, I know that I can contact Bec and that's what she'll give me. She's very level-headed and has a deep insight to help with problems - she can see the bigger picture and help talk us through things.
Bec and her husband, Michael, are Little Spring's godparents for good reason - they live out their faith and have a genuine heart for following Christ. So, not just Bec we admire, but also them as a couple.
Thank you for being in our lives, and thank God for bringing you into our lives!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Well, I kind of already covered this topic on Day 15 of the photo challenge (which shows I haven't pre-planned the photos and choosing photos day by day!).
Big Spring hasn't been to a lot of places in Europe (and didn't take many photos whilst over there), so I didn't have a photo in our collection that seemed suitable... Google came to the rescue instead! I hope this isn't cheating, but how else would I find a photo of somewhere I haven't been? LOL
I love this "Holly Hobbie" type photo of Little Spring. This was taken a few weeks after we'd moved up to Cairns and she was enjoying some time in her wading pool that we'd set up beside the big, inground pool... a little independence in the water! Anyway, I love her eyelashes and the angle I captured her on.
I have many favourite places... I thought I'd show this picture as it's a photo of my cousin, Tammy's house. And why her house? Check out Day 2 of my photo challenge. I LOVE this photo... we don't get snow over here in Australia (well, we do, but really only on the mountains!) and I love how snow makes things look so beautiful. Tammy and her husband have a beautiful house anyway, but with fresh snow overnight, it becomes even more picturesque!
A picture of your biggest insecurity
I used to be more insecure about my stomach, pre-baby. However, after having Little Spring, I now have the 'excuse' that I've had a baby, so feel I have more of a reason to have a tummy. Not to mention the fact that I don't have a picture of my belly to show you (surprise, surprise!)... so I thought I'd show you another insecurity:
Okay... when I was thinking about this photo topic, my mind kept drawing back to this photo as I've always hated this photo of me (as much as I LOVE the memory of when it was taken)... but as I look at it now, I guess it isn't as bad as what I thought, but I'll analyse it for you!
- Mostly, I hate my red cheeks. I've always had rosy cheeks throughout my life and although they don't seem as rosy as they used to when I was younger, I'm still conscious of the redness. If we are going somewhere and I know there's the potential for photos to be taken, I'll put a little bit of makeup on... not much, mind you, just enough to cover a bit of the redness.
- My double chin... it always shows up in photos! I've tried to do that whole tilt your chin/head forward in a picture so it eliminates the double chin, but that generally doesn't work and I end up looking even more awkward!
- The top I'm wearing... what was I thinking? It was too big for me and so very unflattering! But we'd somehow acquired it (I think it was given to Big Spring), but it was warm and I was travelling to the USA, in winter, when it was very cold... (oh, so THAT'S what I was thinking!)
So, I guess that kind of covers my insecurity...
On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.
We write bold and beautiful and free. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.GO:
I start crying as I wait for my blood test to be taken, not because I'm afraid of needles (goodness knows I'd had a million over the past few months, or so it seemed!), but because I already knew what the results would be: I'm not pregnant, again.
It was tense at work that morning, waiting for the phone call to confirm what I already knew. The phone rang and I jumped up and ran to the corridor to find a semi private area of our office.
"Hello?" I answer timidly.
"Hi, Janelle, it's Paula calling from the clinic. I have some good news." My mind starts racing. What good news could it be? We have extra embryos to try again. But I already know this... what other good news could there possibly be? Just tell me! Paula breaks the ranting in my head with the statement: "You're pregnant!"
I'm in shock. How can I be pregnant? I started spotting last night, so knew for sure that I wasn't!
And so began our unexpected journey to bring Little Spring into the world approximately 8 months later!
Playing along with Five Minute Friday
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I was a flower girl in my aunty's (my dad's sister's) wedding when I was about 5. This is one of very few photos where I was actually smiling! I still have the dress... I used to wear it all the time and was so disappointed when I got too big for it and couldn't wear it anymore!
Monday, November 7, 2011
I would absolutely love to travel Europe. Big Spring has been there a number of times on business, but unfortunately I've missed out on going! Hopefully one day... in the future... the very distant future!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
This post relates to yesterday's photo challenge! I LOVE reading! I don't get to do it as often as I'd like, but I do enjoy it when I manage to find the time!
I have a few other pastimes that I love as well, but reading is the one that generally manage to fit in!
Saturday, November 5, 2011
This picture encompasses a number of things that I love: hot chocolate, chocolate in general (in this instance, "Mint Slice" biscuits), a good book and relaxing on the couch.
I do miss the above scene here in Cairns, firstly because it's generally too warm to curl up on the couch with a good book and hot drink to warm up. Secondly, I have a very active 2 year old, so reading generally happens... rarely! I try and read a little in bed before going to sleep, but getting through a novel takes a lot longer than it used to!
Friday, November 4, 2011
On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.
We write bold and beautiful and free. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.GO:
Such a broad subject! And so many memories flooding back just thinking about the topic remember!
Remembering my innocence... my teenage years and how complicated it seemed, but it wasn't really! I remember thinking that I would be married by the time I was 21 or 22 (was actually married at 24, almost 25!) and having my first child when I was 23 or 24 (I was 32 when I had Little Spring).
I remember as a child really hoping for this one toy ("Upsy Daisy" doll) for Christmas and I promised and promised and promised my mum and dad that if I got the doll I would keep my room clean always! I promise! Especially seeing as I would be playing with her all the time, I wouldn't have a chance to mess up my room! Obviously my parents didn't believe me, but I did get Upsy Daisy for Christmas!
I remember the day the clinic rang to tell me that I was pregnant. I couldn't believe that the nurse said that I was, because I was truly expecting another negative result. I remember calling Big Spring and telling him that he was going to be a daddy and crying on the phone quietly (I was at work and had to find a private place in the office!).
My mind is full of so many memories and I love that photos can capture so many of them!
Playing along with Five Minute Friday
Have a look at yesterday's photo challenge and flash back 6 years...
Our wedding day (just in case you didn't guess from the picture!). I love this picture. It wasn't an intentional pose... while we were waiting for the photographer, we were just relaxing like this. The photographer liked the look so then got us to 'hold the pose' a bit longer while he took some shots.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Our 6th wedding anniversary. I was going to surprise Big Spring with what I had organised, but he's not big on surprises, so I ended up telling him before the night! Anyway, I hired a '57 chevvy (with driver) to pick us up. He took us for a 1 hour drive through the city and some beautiful look outs, before dropping us off at Mt Lofty Summit for a delicious dinner where we watched a beautiful sunset as we ate.
It was a gorgeous night that I will never forget. Our driver then picked us up and drove us around for another hour before dropping us off at home.
I would definitely love to do that again (I could have used that for my Day 3 challenge!)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
There, of course, have been many people who have helped me through life crisis/issues etc, especially in the days of my singleness, but having Big Spring in my life has been such a Godsend and blessing. He has seen me through some of the hardest times of our lives as we dealt with infertility, the decision for him to become a pastor, moving even further away from our family as we moved up to Cairns and being the biggest support when I struggle with being a mother (yes, I admit, it does happen!).
This picture was taken on the day of his ordination. I was so proud of him (and still am!).
I love you Big Spring and I thank God every day that he brought you into my life.
(sorry, got a big sappy at the end!)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
To do, or not to do, that is the question! We've just 'celebrated' Halloween here in Australia. In the past, I've never really thought a lot about it. It's never been a big thing over here, so I haven't really had to think about it much. For some reason though, it really took off this year over here. It's been interesting reading people's responses to Halloween, both on Facebook and on various blogs... there are a lot of opinions out there and I must say, it's gotten me quite confused!
In Australia at least, there seems to be two main reasons that people are against Halloween: 1.) It's part of the American culture, so why bring it to Australia? Keep it in the US where it belongs (or thoughts along those lines) or; 2.) It's part of the occult and we shouldn't be involved in anyway, no matter how harmless it seems.
So, let me address each of these:
1.) It's part of the American culture, so why bring it to Australia?
As I've said many times in this blog, I'm an American. I've never lived over there, but my mum and her family are from there and in many ways, my heart belongs over there too. So, for American traditions to creep into Australia, I don't mind so much! It brings a little piece of the home I've never actually lived in, to my home here in Australia. So, yes, I'm a little biased in that regard. I don't know how I'd feel about it if I didn't have an American heritage... but I love, love, love the US so I'm pretty open to it!
I'm amazed that Halloween has started to take off here... I remember years ago, when I was still in primary school, I dressed up in my nurses dress up outfit and went trick or treating with Mum and my brother/s. We only did the street and our block and when we got home, the only thing we actually 'scored' was an apple! None of our neighbours had any clue really that it was Halloween. These days, even if you aren't prepared (and don't have candy at the ready), most people will have some inkling that it's happening around them.
2.) It's part of the occult and we shouldn't be involved in anyway, no matter how harmless it seems.
This point isn't as easy to make a decision on. I'm really not sure which way I sway. I hear one argument and think that person has a valid point, but then I hear from the other side of the argument and think that that person has as just a valid point as the first person.
My biggest contention FOR Halloween is that Halloween, Easter and Christmas (along with other dates in the year) were originally pagan rituals that became Christianised. If I were to 'boycott' Halloween because it originated from pagan rituals, I feel that in order not to become hypocritical, I would need to also boycott celebrating Christmas and Easter because they also have pagan origins. I can't imagine doing that, especially seeing as my husband is a pastor and Christmas and Easter are the two main seasons on the church calendar, not to mention the fact that I wouldn't want to boycott them!
One of the best arguments I've come across to combat the above thought, is that Christmas and Easter have a very specific purpose in the church calendar, and it celebrates the birth and death/resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, Halloween does not have this. Although, the church do have "Reformation", "All Saints Day" and "Harvest Festival" (lesser known here in Australia), they aren't actually associated with Halloween celebrations.
Actually, I don't have one! Because there are so many arguments for and against Halloween in light of the occult, it's really hard to make a decision. Because my heart errs on many/most things US, I think my persuasion for Halloween is "to do", (I can't work out which side I agree with regarding point 2 above, whereas I wholehearted don't have a problem with American traditions coming to Australia, so it kind of defaults to the 'yes' answer as opposed to the 'I'm not sure' answer) but I would try to tone it down a little in regards to the gore factor etc.
Little Spring was too young to participate in Halloween this year, but if we were to choose for her to be involved in future years, I think I would like her to be dressed up in something less occultish (such as witch, vampire, zombie etc - the 'stereotypical Halloween costume) and something a little more gentle (such as an animal, a particular person, TV character etc (which isn't so big yet here in Australia, but is much more common in the States now).
This year, I bought up big with the candy/chocolate as I was advised that the neighbourhood kids are big on trick or treating in this area. To get into the spirit (no pun intended!) of the occasion, I also bought a carved pumpkin candy jar to put the chocolates in and a couple of fake spiders to hang out the front.
I have so much to think about for next year. I would really value any opinions you may have on the matter, to help me clear my head!
(NB: I haven't gone through all the arguments that I've come across; there are so many of them and I didn't want to confuse you as well. If you are interested in some of the arguments I found, please click here or here. These were the main 2 sites that I came across.)
I didn't even have to think about this picture... as soon as I saw the topic, I knew which photo I would use! While we were still living in Adelaide, I was outside putting washing on the line and when I turned around, I saw Little Spring getting friendly with the door. Thankfully I had my phone outside, so I was able to snap a picture!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Well, my 'true self' is many things, so I thought these photos might sum it up well: