Posts Tagged ‘family’

No Joy Without Forgiveness…

November 14, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 10 months (22 months)


41 days to Christmas


Christmas is coming.  I am not getting excited.

That is quite a statement as I am generally Christmas mad.  For starters, my name is “Natalie” which means “Christmas Child”.  What choice do I have?

But this year, there is something holding me back; a darkness dwelling in my soul;  a sadness.  It may have been there before now, but this year has added to it.

Ignoring is not the same as forgiving.

Ignoring does not take the hurt away.

But when it hurts, it is hard to forgive.

This year, DH and I are hosting the Christmas party for my siblings and offspring.  We may also be hosting a 12th night party for his siblings and offspring (they are still working out who is in what part of the country when.)

My heart is not in it.

Yes, there is a lot of work involved.  I am one of eight.  DH is one of five.  Don’t even get me started on the next two generations.  (Yup, two.  We are great uncle and great aunt on both sides.)  That is a lot of people to organise in this day and age.  (Aside:  I hate the way that instant communications – emails, mobile phones etc – have stopped anyone from making a commitment to anything until the last minute.  No, the last minute is not soon enough to find out.  I want things organised so I don’t keep stressing about them.)  A lot of people when you hate crowds of any size.

But that isn’t it.

It is true that DH and I still battle a bit with our different families.  Our families have different ways of doing some things.  His family is very happy living in each other’s pockets.  For example, they love to all stay in the same house for a week.  We once had 18 people in a three bedroom, two bathroom house.  As I had a 2yo and a 6mo at the time, I found it VERY difficult.  That is how they do things.  No introverts allowed.  (Not great for me!)  My family – well, I am discovering that it is a bit of a skill living with some of our customs, too.

Because of this I dread the whole Christmas/January family thing.  Every year I try to get involved.  I try to get excited.  I try to plan things.  Every year it (or I) end in tears.

But this year is worse.

This year there have been several hurtful events occur throughout the year.  Things that obviously were buried, rather than forgiven.  Things that are coming up again.  Things that make me think I don’t want some of these people to come to my home and join in our celebrations.  These people that have been some of the closest to us throughout our lives.

For example:

“I have so much to do looking after my own kids and grandkids, I can’t cope with your children, too.”  (In response to an invitation for coffee.)

“Our home is not an appropriate place for your children.”  (Which is why I have not been back to that home.  And actually, neither myself nor the kids have been invited back, only DH.)

“Just go away, Bandicoot.  You are not wanted here.”  (By a visitor in our own home.  My rather subdued response to this lead to a lot of discussion behind my back and quite a disagreement with DH.  I still don’t think it was an appropriate way for someone to behave in my, and Bandicoot’s, home, especially when he was just trying to join in.)

So what do I do?  I HURT.  I have tried to put it aside, to keep it from DH and the kids.  I don’t want to spoil their Christmas.  But it is spoiling mine.

To be honest, I don’t want to celebrate with either extended family.  I really don’t.  I just want to have a quiet time with the five of us.  I know that my kids and DH won’t like that, ‘though. 

I also know that it will not bring me peace.  Oh, it might for the day.  Maybe for a few days.  But over time it will still be there, rotting my soul.

How do I forgive?

Loaves and Fishes

April 6, 2012

Possum is 5 years 11 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 9 months

Little Princess is 1 year 3 months (15 months)

Right about now I am looking for an Easter miracle.

In the Catholic (and the Orthodox) tradition(s), the Easter Tridium is a time of prayer, reflection and fasting.  The celebrating happens starting on Sunday (well, after the Easter Vigil on Saturday night).  The Lutherans that I know around here start celebrating on Thursday night.  Many of them have big gatherings and feasts on Good Friday.

Not that one way is right and the other wrong, but when DH and I have grown up in two different traditions, this is one of those times it gets a bit confusing.

As a compromise, I fast, but only by the modern Roman Catholic directions, he eats a little less and we don’t party up big.

Thus, I was making a vege casserole in the slow cooker for dinner tonight.

Enter SIL #1.  Our 19yo nephew from interstate is moving to a city 100km from here.  His Mum (DH’s sister) and his brother have decided to drive him over.  They had planned to stay at our place overnight, but thought that they would arrive late and leave early, leaving catch-ups until next week.

Except that they got a good run on the roads and are now looking at arriving several hours earlier (and require dinner).

Now Enter BIL.  We are still assembling that ginormous cubby house.  DH’s brother has come around after Church today to help with the roof.  He also would like to see his sister, seeing as she is arriving earlier.

And he has a wife (SIL #2 for this post) and four kids.

And none of them fast on Good Friday.

3pm was not a good time to find out about these changes, not when the kids need to eat in 2 hours and the shops are shut!

SIL #2 and I had a discussion on the phone for about 15 minutes as we rummaged in our fridges and pantries.  I think that with pasta and pooling of our salad veges we might just pull it off.  I have found some bread for garlic bread and I will bake a cake (bake a cake on Good Friday???) and hopefully no one will starve.

My pantry is pretty low – catering for fasting days and then going to a function on Sunday, and so was her’s (she hasn’t had a chance to go shopping as she is in the choir at Church), so really that everyone will get something on their plates IS an Easter Miracle.

Do Not Be Afraid – Christmas 2011

December 15, 2011


But the Angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

Have you noticed how this is a recurring message?  Of course, having an angel suddenly appear in front of you is probably very frightening, but I think there is more to it than that.

Do not be afraid.

I think we all have a lot of fears.  I think we are insecure.  I think that this world can be a scary place.  I know I do and I am and it is for me.

Do not be afraid.

What is it that you are afraid of right now, this Christmas?  What are the angels telling you not to fear?

I know of what I am afraidI am afraid of being Bandicoot’s mother.  I am afraid that Little Princess will grow up to be like Bandicoot.  I am afraid that Possum is growing up too fast.

Do not be afraid.

I am afraid of going to stay with my in-laws for Christmas.  I am not afraid of my parents-in-law.  They love me and I love them, even if it is often hard work, if sometimes we seem like strange creatures to each other and rub each other the wrong way.

I am afraid of exposing Bandicoot to people who do not love him as much as we do, who cannot accept his uniqueness as we do.  I am afraid of the judgement that I will (and I do) receive as a parent to such a spirited child.

Poor Bandicoot.  We call him our Wild Child.  That is an affectionate term for the turmoil we often feel.  As you have heard before, he suffers from Can’t-Sit-Still, from My-Body-Seems-To-Be-Bigger-and-Stronger-Than-I-Realised, from BUT-THIS-IS-MY-QUIET-VOICE, from Oh-Were-You-Talking-To-Me?-I-Was-Busy-Doing-This-Thing-That-Now-Seems-To-Have-Made-You-Angry, from Desperate-Need-For-All-Your-Attention-All-The-Time

He is also very, very loving.

He is the kind of kid who would thrive as an only child.  If I could give him the attention he craves, he would just about always be well behaved.  At least well enough behaved that I would be able to visit people occasionally.

But he’s not.  He is sandwiched between two other kids, close in age.

And the result is a nightmare.  Disobedience, yelling, kids crying, Mummy in tears…

But now we have to take it out of the house.  Out of our safe and private space.  And not just out in public where no-one knows us.  We have to take it to functions that involve lots of people, excitement, party food, tiredness.  We have to be around people not used to such live-wires (or at least, not used to them anymore!)  We need to spend extended periods of time with people who are very uncomfortable around our kids (it is sad but true that many of our siblings are in this category). And I am afraid.

In short, we need to EXPOSE our family’s dirty little secret… we are not perfect. 

Do not be afraid.

We love, we cry, we muddle, we ARE.  And we need to be accepted by those close to us as we are, not judged, not lectured and PLEASE, do NOT take it upon yourself to SMACK our Bandicoot.

I am very frightened.

Do not be afraid.

Can you accept this gift of peace this Christmas?


July 30, 2011

Today I made Soup. “You mean, ‘soup’”, you say.  No.  I mean Soup.

I am not a fan of soup.  I really don’t get it.  My MIL loves soup.  Oh, I am sure she would deny it.  I am sure she doesn’t even notice.  However, she has a vast repertoire of soups, most without names, and throughout winter at least, lunch and dinner are punctuated between Grace and Main with soup.  Sometimes you even have a choice.

It isn’t that I actively don’t like soup.  (I also like my MIL!)  I just don’t get it.  It really doesn’t do anything for me.

But Soup is different entirely.

Today I made Soup.

My parents used to make Soup.  It was a wonderful weekend food (and aroma) in our home during winter.

It would start the week before.  Mum would boil a chicken.  I never liked the smell of a chicken being boiled, but my heart would start to beat a little faster whenever it happened.  To this day I get a little overly excited at the smell of boiling chicken.  A bit like Pavlov’s Dog, methinks.

A boiling chicken meant two things.

Firstly, we would be getting yummy chicken sandwiches for lunch at school this week.

Secondly, one of the large old peanut jars would soon be sitting in the fridge, filled with hot yellow liquid which would magically divide into golden, gelatinous goop and a hard white layer (later skimmed off).

And what did a jar of stock in the fridge mean?  Next weekend we would be having Soup.

Come Saturday morning, Dad would peel and dice the veges – parsnip, swede, turnip, potato, carrot, celery and onion.  He would chop up the celery leaves (oh, they smell so good!).  He would lightly fry off the onion and then all the goodies would go into the stock pot with a couple of handfuls of barley.  (If we were really lucky, sometimes he would toss in alphabet noodles for a treat.  Can you get alphabet noodles anymore?)  The stock pot would slowly simmer and the aroma would infuse the house.

Aaaah.  The smell of home in winter.

The first serving was Saturday lunch.  By the small bowl served at the start of dinner on Saturday night, the flavour was more developed.  On Sunday, it was served with bread.  And on Sunday night, it was thick and stewy as we finished it off.  Unless of course, we had eaten too much already and it needed to be drastically watered down to go the distance.

As a child, I was sick of Soup by Sunday.  (By then I would even have referred to it merely as ‘soup’).  And sadly, although I loved this Soup, I took it for granted.

As an adult it has an almost spiritual aura about it.  The smells evoke the memories of a happy home, a warmth that was not just from the stock pot, a gathering of family.  I lean over the pot to test the balance of flavours and I think of my brothers and sisters.  I wonder with love what they are doing at that moment.  I remember sharing this with them.  The steam feels like a big hug.

I am delighted today.  My husband and all my children – even the baby just starting “solids” enjoyed Soup.  Hopefully, one day, they will also lean over a pot on bubbling vegetables and think of their loved ones.

I am happy, for today I made Soup.

Some other beachside activities – pic heavy

October 19, 2010

Possum is 4 years 5 months

Bandicoot is 2 years 3 months

There were so many other things to do, too.  Like:

Dancing in the lagoon with Aunty M… all the way to the shore.  (It was really freezing cold that day!)

Or a Mexican Fiesta for dinner.

Snuggly stories with Nana

Bike riding, of course.

How about a big walk up to a lighthouse?

A bit tough at the end of a long day at the beach.  Still this bloke seemed to manage it quite well:

And he kindly left some scats for us to examine.  Nothing like a bit of poo to intrigue the boys!

This lighthouse was much easier to get to.  We even got to check it out at night-time.

Possum caught an eel!  They are supposed to be good eating, but I really don’t like eel and I wasn’t about to gut it *blush* so he got thrown back in.  Pretty exciting stuff, ‘though!

And what is better than playing in the dirt with your diggers while waiting for for your salt and pepper calamari?  Well, when a real one gets to work across the road!

Fish and chips on the beach for dinner.  The seagulls got the leftovers.

Mummy and Daddy even got to go out to dinner one night, all by themselves.  We have only been out about five times in the last five years, so this was a real treat.  The boys refused to go to bed, but they did go to sleep.  They left us pictures and “ice-creams” for when we got home.

Aaah!  A great Australian Icon.  I am a sucker for “Big” things.

Actually, the Big Banana has lots of information about how bananas grow.  The boys found it very interesting to see pictures of the trees and flowers.  They then had lots of fun spotting them as we drove past the plantations that line the highway here-abouts.

And there weren’t too many complaints about the giant banana flavoured ice-creams, either!

We also stopped to visit some friends who live on a giant bush property in the hinterland.  This is there yard!  Their “farming” is natural bush regeneration.  The boys had a fantastic time with their girls.