Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Striving for Success in 2012

Last weekend, I went through my wardrobe, and ditched half of my clothes.  The reason?  They’re simply too big!

Yep, after nine years of trying and failing, trying and failing, I’ve finally found my groove with my diet and exercise plan, and over the past nine weeks, I’ve lost about eleven  kilos. 

It is so good to finally have found my stride – I’m feeling great, sleeping well, and am gaining back a little of my self-confidence, which has, quite honestly, been completely shattered these past few years.  I've not yet lost enough for people to really notice - haven't had any of the 'have you lost weight?' questions yet, but it takes time.  One thing I have really notcied is my mental clarity - like I'm finally beginning to 'wake up' after years of a foggy brain and feeling lethargic.  And that in itself has made the effort worthwhile.

The Protein Power Plan was a huge success for me about eleven years ago, however, a very rough pregnancy and other matters led to the weight returning.  It’s amazing how tough it’s been to find ‘my groove’ again, but I finally feel as if I’m getting there. 

Together with the Protein Power Plan, I’m exercising about an hour each day – first, it was only with the exercise bike, as I have a heel spur, which prevented me from walking.  However, after loosing about five kilos, I was able to begin using the treadmill as well.  It’s quite bizarre, actually – I now look forward to my daily walk, when I can head off with my Ipod and take some time out. 

There is a long way to go, and I’m under no illusions.  For someone who is was my size, there is no ‘quick fix’, and it will take more than a few months to reach my goal.  There will no doubt be plateaus along the way, times when I’ll feel like smashing those scales, and times where temptations of my ‘old’ way of life will get to me (like it did last weekend - oops), but I intend to take things a day at a time, and to keep reminding myself that ‘success is simply getting up one more time than you fall’.   I'm keeping that end goal in sight, and will get there - no matter how long it takes.  


Thursday, June 14, 2012

From Happiness to ……..

Well, things can certainly change in a day.  I’m hoping that there is someone out there who could offer some advice…..

Both my Dad and Mum are now in the Old Folk’s Home.  Mum went in about three weeks ago, Dad’s been in there a couple of years.

I’ve been gathering a list of anything that any of my brothers or my sister would like to keep, once we decide what to do with the house.  My sister lives nearby, and we’ve had some discussions, but as Mum often goes home to check on things, sort things out, etc., we haven’t taken anything from the property – it’s still their house, after all.

However, we seem to have a brother (or more correctly, a sister-in-law), who feels differently.  They know that Mum is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and that she often promises things to several different people, and then has no memory of any of it.  A few weeks ago, they turned up, emptied several cupboards, and took off with them.  When I tried to intervene, they said that they had ‘an arrangement’ with Mum, and that she’d promised them these cupboards for years. Despite the fact that Mum said, right there and then, she didn’t want them to take them, they ‘compromised’ by leaving her one cupboard, but still took the others.

Fast forward to today.  I’ve just found out that they came up last weekend, spent a little time with Mum in the home, and then spent TWO days in the house, and I quote, ‘cleaning’.  This, of course, also meant taking more things, despite the fact that when I saw them last time, I explained that nothing else was to be removed from the house, until we’ve all had a chance to chat about it as a family, and make the list as to who wants what.

My other sister-in-law asked me to keep aside for her some special plates – royal plates actually, which are heaps old, and have been in the family – well, forever.  Guess what was gone when I walked into the family home today?  I am so mad at myself for not taking those plates as soon as she’d asked me to.  I really trusted the fact they wouldn’t take anything else  – stupid, stupid, stupid…….

When I called my brother to ask if they'd taken the plates, he said they had, but was very vague when I asked what else they'd taken.  I asked for them to be returned, and they said they might bring back a couple (no doubt the least valuable ones of the set). It's a SET, and it was promised to my other sister-in-law.  I know it, and my Mum has said this also.  My brother became very accusative and almost abusive on the phone - and when I said not to take anything from the shed, as my husband still has some of his tools in there, he basicially accused me of lying, insinuating that we were tying lay claim to things that were not ours.

So, the question is – what to do from here?  I was determined not to remove anything from the house while Mum is still alive and heading home to spend time there, but, I think I’m just going to have to go in and put into storage anything that is left.  

The really stupid thing is, no-one in our family is materialistic.  None of us really care about possessions, what we care about is this particular person coming into the family, and taking anything she can get her hands on.  I don’t ever recall any of us even having a fight before, but, we’ve got one now.   And, so long as they can sneak in and sweet-talk Mum into letting them take stuff, they will continue (if, of course, there is anything left of value).

And now, for the news that topped off the day totally.  My Dad.  I called into see him today, but he was asleep.  He’s been asleep for most of the week, and when he isn’t, he’s frightened because of all the bad dreams he’s been having, and experiencing dizzy spells.  He’s told my Mum that he is ‘ready to go’.  So, on top of everything, my Dad may be very well nearing the end, and I need to spend as much time with him as possible.

If there’s anyone out there who may have some advice or experience in these matters, I’d really love to hear from you.  I know what they’ve done is wrong, but it doesn’t seem there’s much I can do about it, and the last thing I need to do is to upset Mum, especially at this moment.  I just cannot grasp the concept of taking from the family like that, and justifying it with ‘but Mum said we could take it’, knowing her condition.  The entire family is furious, and yet, they still continue to say that they are in the right.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Warning: It’s a ‘Proud Parent’ Moment!

There's certainly been a buzz of excitement in our home tonight!

Last weekend, our daughter completed her first-ever music exam:  4th Grade Clarinet. 

She’s studied clarinet the past two years in Jamestown, and has become very proficient, producing beautiful tones and showing wonderful musicianship.

And, the examiners agree - the results arrived via email this evening – an A!

I hope you'll all forgive me, but I’m seriously feeling the need to put that grade into large, bold letters....

That grade again:

The criteria for receiving an A Grade is as follows:

“The candidate demonstrates an overall superior level of achievement in meeting the syllabus objectives in all Sections, in terms of musicianship, security of technique (including intonation, tone, phrasing, articulation, rhythm), and stylistic awareness.”

I have a feeling that her Grandfather, who was a music teacher and a very accomplished musician, is smiling down from heaven tonight. 

Congratulations, Helena – we are very proud of you!

Rocks and other Radical Research

First, some background info.

Around 10-12 years ago, when all my children were quite small, we came across an experiment in our science textbook.  The idea was for all the children to gather some rocks, and to then test their hardness by placing them on a flat surface and giving them a good whack with the hammer.  Sounds simple enough, right?

So, I sent the children out on a beautiful spring day to gather their rocks.  As they were little, I didn’t explain what we would be using the rocks for, but I knew they’d love watching the rocks being smashed to bits – I was excited – we were taking care of the hands-on stuff today, and it was going to be fun!

My little children lined up on the verandah, proudly holding their rock collections in their hands.  I took the first rock from my oldest daughter, and awaiting the squeals of delight that were sure to come, I gave that piece of sandstone an almighty thump. 

Of course, it smashed perfectly – with bits of rock and dirt flying across the ground.  I looked up, very proud of my accomplishment, with a smile on my face – only to see my daughter burst into tears.  ‘That was going to be my pet rock!’ she cried, ‘and you’ve smashed it!’ 

And that was the end of the lesson, and in fact, the end of our school day, as I spent the rest of the day trying to comfort her and calm her down.  It’s a day I never forgotten – and a lesson learned – in such cases, it’s a good idea to give at least a little forewarning of what is going to happen.

Fast forward to the present day.   Imagine my horror when I turned the page in our current science book (Science in the Creation Week, by Dr. Jay Wile), to discover the exact same experiment!  I took a deep breath, and very carefully, and in depth, explained to my three youngest daughters that today they would be collecting rocks, and we would be taking a hammer and smashing them.  After I was absolutely sure that they understood these would NOT be ‘pet rocks’, I sent them out to gather their collections – they were absolutely delighted that a hammer would be involved, and that they would have permission to smash something!

After a little while the rocks were gathered and all lined up, ready for their impending doom.  We started off very gently, with a lump of solid dirt, giving it a good tap, and watching the dirt fly. We then began on the rocks – softly at first, but we soon worked our way up to knocking the bejeebers out them!


We rubbed the rocks together, drew marks on the verandah, and chatted about which rocks crumbled, which rocks were tough, etc.  We also took the time to examine the various layers, and discuss how the layers may have been formed.  The only difficultly I had this time was having the girls come back inside to complete their notebooks – this was one experiment they thoroughly enjoyed!

So, a wrong has been righted.  I never thought I’d ever attempt this experiment again, but fortunately, this time, it all went off perfectly {insert a HUGE sigh of relief here}.

And, with that done, we’re moving on……  


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Little Girls, Little Girls, Everything About Them Is....

When I was a young married woman, pregnant with our first child, I began thinking about our future, how many children we'd have, etc.

I have a very vivid memory of one day when I was busy hanging washing on the line.  At that time, we lived on the edge of a creek, surrounded by gum trees. It was a beautiful spot, and it seemed that outside was the perfect place for prayer.

'Lord', I prayed, 'I know I'm going to have lots of sons, but could I ask for just one favour?  Could you give me just one little girl, so that I can do her hair, buy her pretty dresses, and do all those Mum / Daughter things?"

And God showed me His sense of humour.

SEVEN girls.  ONE boy.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I assumed I'd have mostly boys.  Maybe because it was typical in the Maher family to have mainly boys, I'm not sure.  But one thing I learned - never tell God that you 'know' what He has planned for you! 

Ironically, while I was growing up, and even into adulthood, I would often choose the company of boys over girls.  I just was never into the 'look at my nails' or 'what do you think of this dress'?  etc. conversations, but would happily ditch the girls to head down the pub for a game of pool with the guys.  While I certainly do appreciate my female friends these days, I'm still happy to spend time chatting with the men- something about being able to relax and not have to deal with all the emotions and dramas of females.

And again, I'm reminded of my seven (now mostly teenage) girls......

Life is certainly about learning, and moving out of your comfort zone, isn't it?  I'm now having a great time with my girls - we are the best of friends, and we have so much fun together.  And sometimes, when we can find the time, we do actually do those  Mother / Daughter things I'd prayed about - but on a much larger scale!

But here's irony no. 2:   who cooks most of the dinners in our house?

Yep, the boy!

And for a long time, while I suffered with depression and burn-out, he also took over the washing - every week, day in, day out, for over two years, he cooked and washed.  The girls of course were an immense help as well, but Daniel likes to have his 'set' jobs, and so he took over these two chores, with no complaints.

Fortunately, I'm getting back on my feet now - and I've taken back the washing job, but Daniel still cooks our meals and helps out in many other ways around the place.

Some days, I think it would be nice to be a 'normal' family - but hey, we're just not.  We seem to do everything backwards, upside down, and inside out.

Life is much more entertaining this way - I wouldn't change it for the world!


Friday, June 8, 2012

School --- Really?

Sometimes, school can be...  well, relaxed.

I occasionally read on other people's blogs how they are so disciplined, so organised, and so 'with it'.

I'm just not.

I mean - I 'plan' very well, and have very good intentions, but I'm just too much of a softie, I guess.

Don't get me wrong - I am raising a bunch of very independent learners.  Most of the morning school is taken care of with set workbooks, texts, etc.  This includes English, Maths, Spelling, Writing, Music Practice and Art.  Afterwards, with the basics covered, we usually get together for Religion, Science, History, and so forth.

But not always.

Take today - lunchtime came around so fast, and I then I thought that maybe I should torture them a little with some extra school work.  My son is currently away in NSW, and it's been quite different without him, having only girls around:  it's simply amazing how much the atmosphere can change when one is away.  So anyway, we settled back for another couple of chapters from 'John of the Sirius'.  We're really enjoying this book - we've read it before of course, but it's the first time through for my three youngest.

Since it was a lovely, sunny afternoon, I decided we'd then head outside for a science experiment.  This is one of my favourites - where one person takes a broom, and gives the shed a good 'whack'.                                    


The rest of the gang positions themselves at the other end of the yard, and takes note of when they 'see' the broom hit the shed, and when they 'hear' the broom hit.  In this way, they can see the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound.   Just my type of experiment - simple, effective, and easy to clean up afterwards!  


Now, I really had intended to head back indoors and tackle that history lesson, but it was so lovely outside, that I just couldn't do it.  After all - I did have my camera in hand, and it was so lovely out there - so, we decided it was time for some photography.

Here's our 'current' car collection:


Of course, that doesn't included the FOURTEEN cars that are in the sheds or out the side, nor the TWO old vans / busses, or even the TWO caravans.  One could think I married a mechanic (yes, I did!).

Then, it was off to our 'family tree' as we call it, for the girls to climb:


And, there was a bit of weight-lifting as well:


Lizzie then spied our pile of 'witches hats', and asked what they were for.  I explained that we set them up for learner drivers to practice their parking skills.  And then it occurred to me that maybe 'I' should practice those skills - I can drive OK, but parking has always been an issue (partly because of my eyes and problems with depth perception) - but well, why not?

So, we set it all up, I grabbed our little car, and very successfully demonstrated why I am NOT the one to give driving and parking lessons.  Yep, I really do need practice!


Naturally, at this point, dear hubby arrived, and just HAD to take the opportunity to show off (but, at least the girls did get to see how to park correctly)!  Of course, I gave him heaps for showing off, but, we made up eventually:


While all of the parking and such was happening, the girls were watching on - except one:


This is the time when the homeschool mother in me wanted to scream - 'Yes- we've got one - a READER!' - but I successfully managed to control myself.  :)

Hubby then proceeded to change a tyre on one of the other cars, and the girls got to watch that, too - as well as build a 'tyre tower' from the collection of spare tyres.


Wait - what's so interesting?

Oh, I see....

Looks REALLY happy, doesn't he?

Finally, we headed back inside, put all the school books away (see?  they did do quite a bit this morning, even without me!)   and finished off our 'school day' with a game of 'Masterpiece - the Art Auction Game'.  I'm afraid to say they thrashed me, leaving me in last place.

Can't win 'em all, I guess.


And that was our day!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Tell if You are a MoM (Mother of Many)

You know you are a MoM (Mother of Many) when:

1. You know where the bathroom is in any major store you visit.

2. Your car has more seatbelts than windows.

3. Your grocery budget is higher than your house payment.

4. You do most of your thinking and praying in the bathroom.

5. Creative decorating means lots of bookshelves and bunkbeds.

6. You no longer carry a purse, but use the diaper bag instead.

7. Your idea of good commercial building design means a comfy mother's lounge.

8. You constantly find yourself marveling how short the time is between birth and toddling, birth and schoolage, birth and graduation, etc.

9. Even your two year old knows that they must hold someone's hand in the grocery store.

10. You have a routine for stopping pacifiers, toilet training, cup training, and every childhood “phase”.

11. You have at least three witty replies to "Are they all yours?"

12. You just really wish people would not think they were clever for saying, "Don't you know what causes that?"

13. You have forgotten how many times you have been asked, "Are you Mormon or Catholic?"

14. You are still afraid to tell your husband how many more kids you want!

15. Your food storage takes up more room than your entire kitchen... And that is just for this week! 16. You have so much laundry that when you finally get to the bottom of the pile, it's actually stuck to the floor!

17. You spend a lot of time at church in the foyer or mother’s lounge, wondering why you can’t just stay home and listen to the baby fuss there!

18. You spend more money on diapers each month than you do on entertainment!

19. You instantly sympathize with any woman who is obviously pregnant in the middle of summer.

20. You are up to double digits in years that you have spent with a baby attached to you in one way or another!

21. Taking the kids grocery shopping with you makes you feel like a mother duck.

22. You hate carpools because you know who is going to get stuck doing the driving.

23. When you see photos of castles and grand mansions, all you can think is how many bedrooms it has (YES!), and how much space all those other rooms provide for the kids to mess up (NO WAY!).

24. You know that every time you move the couch or couch cushions, you will find Cheerios under them.... Even if you have not had Cheerios in the house!

25. You know the “law of crumbs”. “Any food item that will crumble will produce twice its own weight in crumbs.”

26. You know by experience that paint NEVER dries until it has been spread around in all the places you did NOT want it to be.

27. You know what to use to remove lipstick, shortening, and indelible marker from any surface.

28. You know how to get smashed raisins out of a carpet, and how to get bubblegum out of hair, and so do all your older kids.

29. You are certain one of your kids is sneaking rolls of toilet paper out of the house and selling them because you know there is no way they could be using that much of it, even if there ARE a lot of bottoms in your house.

30. When you go to order fast food, you order 6 hamburgers, one with ketchup only, one plain, one with no pickles or onions, two with no pickles, onions or mustard, and one with nothing but cheese, plus one fish sandwich, one chicken sandwich, one large hamburger, and one large hamburger with bacon. You then have to repeat yourself three times so the person at the window can get it right.

31. When your kids are learning a foreign language, you wonder how it is that they can find the words to insult each other faster than they can find the words to say “I'm sorry.”

32. If two kids bring home identical toys from their kid's meal, you know you have to put names on them first thing, or they will fight over whose is whose, even if both of them have one in their hand.

33. You spend a lot of time looking at the little kids, urging them on to the next step, while still wishing they could stay little just a bit longer.

34. You have a full baby book for your first two children, half of one for the next one, and nearly empty baby books or none at all for the later ones.

35. When the many-times-handed down clothing is finally too worn out to hand down again, you still have a hard time letting it go because it has so many good memories attached.

36. You don't have a wardrobe of “fat clothes” and “skinny clothes”. You have "regular clothes”, “pregnant clothes”, and “nursing clothes”.

37. When a child outgrows something, you put it away in a box in the closet or garage, even if you don't have a younger child of that gender, because you just know you are going to need it eventually!

38. Your idea of a great dining set is one that has lots of expansion leaves. When you see a corporate boardroom on TV, all you can think is what a great dining table the conference table would make.

39. You can list at least three different technological advances in diaper design which you, personally, have used on your kids.

40. You have at least one specialized medical skill because at least one of your kids has some kind of potentially risky condition which you deal with.

41. You sometimes wonder how it is that other moms get really nice gifts for holidays, and you end up with 6 pieces of cardboard with “I love you Mom your the best.” written on it in crooked writing. And you have a box in your closet that you put them in.

42. You cook dinner in pots large enough to bathe a baby in, and frequently lament over the insufficient size of convenience appliances like mixers, waffle irons, and crock pots – and you compromise by owning two of each.

43. Your car is large enough to hold the entire family, but if you go camping, you have to rent a trailer just to hold all the camping equipment.

44. You can't believe with the size of the larger RVs out there that they couldn't fit more beds into at least ONE of them, and you really wish they'd design one with two bathrooms!

45. If you see a home design with a Master Retreat room, you think what a great nursery it would make.

46. You can quote entire pages from Dr. Seuss without having to pause to think about it, and can sing any number of Raffi or Disney songs from memory.

47. You can think of more than three great Christmas gifts for a child of any age... Because you always have a child close to the age in question!

48. You have at least one story stored up for each of your kids which is guaranteed to embarrass them if you recount it in public.

49. You know, and are thankful, that when they get too old to send to their rooms, that possession of the car keys gives you the ultimate power!

50. When the first two kids move out, you can't believe how much smaller your family feels.

51. You think that a mini-van is just too small to be a practical family car - but you wish they'd make a shopping cart about that size!

52. Getting the whole family to fit into the Wal-Mart photo booth, and then getting a picture when nobody is crying, making bunny ears, blinking, or sticking their finger in their nose is a major triumph!

53. Your stretchmarks might better be described as "pleats".

54. Your kids don't need as many toys, because they always have someone to play with.

55. Other people dream of buying a Porche or other sports car, but all you can think is that it wouldn't be good for anything because it is not cheap enough for your husband to commute in, and it doesn't have enough seats for the family, and there's no WAY you are going to let your teenager drive that!

56. You have to take off your shoes to count all the kids.

Written by Laura Wheeler

Co-Owner of Firelight Business Enterprises, Inc, and Firelight Web Studio – Laura writes instructional materials, produces infosites, and builds affordable websites for her business startup clients. Her varied experience allows her to give exceptional service, and to produce instructions on a surprising range of topics. Laura is a busy mom of eight, homeschooler, and home business owner.

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Previous Blog Posts

When our Adnil Press website was ever-so-kindly deleted last year, not only did we lose all the product definitions, shopping cart, etc., but I also lost all my blog posts, as at the time, my blog was a part of the Adnil Press site.

Fortunately, several of those posts were first created in Word.  I discovered them tonight, safely tucked away in a blog file on my computer, and I thought it'd be a good idea to copy and paste some of them, so that they may 'live' again.

So, over the next few weeks, I'll be doing just that.  If something reads a little wrong, and you think, 'hang on, what does she mean by 'last month - September?'  or such, then that is why. 

Hopefully, I'll also be able to locate the pictures that went along with the posts - well, we can only try!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Alot is Better Than You at Everything

OK - so, it's nearly 2am, and I cannot sleep.  After a visit to one of my favourite message boards (TWTM), I came across this post and had to share - it's very cute!

Anyone who gets frustrated with 'text' language, like I do, will appreciate it.