Whats The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Children?

When Noah was born I felt an overwhelming love and protection for him. Like a mother bear, it was an instinct to guard and watch over him, essentially giving my life for him. My heart was filled with unconditional love. I could weep when I looked at him or just thought about him. Then Scarlet came along, Aquila and now Selāh and I can firmly tell you the love doesn’t change, it just grows. And these intense feelings of love and giving my all for them hasn’t altered. As I sit in these feelings, sometimes so overwhelming I get hit with bad thoughts. Thoughts of ‘what if’s’. What if something happened to them or James and I. I hate to think about any type of pain my children might endure. Subconsciously I know I try to handle situations where I know they won’t get hurt or be affected. I find that I try my very hardest, in my own earthly ability to protect my children in each moment. In writing this thought I want you to know reader there is nothing wrong with wanting the very best for your child. The best life, best career and the best family. 

The next thought that follows for myself is this, Christian because of sin, there is heartache and pain and hardships. The bible also promises in Romans 5:4 that your hardships develops character. And isn’t that a beautiful thing right there to help our children, developing their character. Friends, that is one of the reasons why we homeschool. Only one of, but an important one. For me in those quiet moments as I watch them sleeping, breathing in and out, stroking their hair or holding their little hands in mine I know there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect them from the things that will hurt. 

Writing further on that point, our friends and family know we are mindful as to who we let our children play with, as a means to help them, so they don’t need to endure hardship or bullying. We know that this isn’t always possible and there might be situations where we aren’t able to be as ‘controlling of the environment’ – in cases like this we are able to help our children recognise right from wrong. It also means that, if appropriate, mummy and daddy can step in, protect, and guide an appropriate way to respond to certain situations, to know how to act and handle different people and situations. I personally feel, at this stage in our little ones lives, they are not yet at an age, or have the capacity to know how to always appropriately act and respond when confronted with a negative situation, so we want to be there. I know many of you are probably thinking, ‘how do they build resilience?’ or ‘it’s good to be bullied so they learn.’ And each to their own. We all parent differently, however we all want the same results. We want to help mould our children to be their best. Honestly I have been met with these types of questions and statements. In my own time with God, I see this as part of my role as a mother. We aim to help our children to consider and understand; It is important to forgive, however, if someone is continually unkind to you, do you continue to be their friend? What if they continue to hit you or say harsh words to you? No, of course you don’t. Like I said, this doesn’t mean you don’t forgive them and pray for them, seek reconciliation or restoration, however sometimes what is appropriate is to distance yourself. Reader please don’t feel you have to keep forcing your children to play with other children who aren’t being kind. If we don’t stick around unkind people as adults, why subject our children to it?

Now, for my children I can’t protect them from this world. I’m not God. There is no way I can do this. But when I see wrong or bad against them. My role is to protect. And in doing so, here’s the key point, we are teaching them how to deal with enemies. Bullies of any nature. I always found it so encouraging watching Noah and Scarlet at Martial Arts. Their instructors taught them to walk away. To state clearly, “STOP, don’t touch me”. “Don’t speak rudely to me”. If the bully continues and hit them, they need to then create space and run to us (or someone they know) for SAFETY. And what do we do friends as adults when we are bullied or constantly attacked? We run to the Father in Heaven for SAFETY. We pray for our enemies and forgive them, just as Jesus forgave us. 

Reader, you might have your own steps in helping your children deal with negative behaviour and that’s great. But the idea is through this procedure we then point them to Jesus. We help to teach our children to pray for their enemies. For God to shut their mouths and to protect us with the armour of God.

In the bad thoughts, the thoughts of doubt and fear for my children I also know that one day they stand before our Gracious God. Their actions and deeds are accountable before Him. On their own. So then, mum and dad ask yourself what could possibly be the best thing I could do for each of my precious babes? Pray for them. Let go of trying to control their lives and hand them over to God’s keeping. Into the Fathers hands.

Does that scare you? Does it make you feel like you’re not in control? Do you think you’re not looking after them? As I write this I’m shaking my head, because for me reader, the answer is YES! It’s so hard to give my babies over to Jesus. It’s a given as a parent to be in control of everything in your child’s life. I’m not talking about what will they will eat, should they go to school or homeschool? If they do go to school, then what school? What sport should they play? They are all great things but you and your child can work that out together. As you discover their God given gifts. I’m talking about the tough stuff. Their salvation. That’s the believers number one priority for their children. To be saved. Pray for that. Pray that Christ saves them and that His name will be glorified through them in their life. Then pray for the path they will walk. Because in this life they will no doubt meet suffering and pain. Ask God to teach them how to deal with the heartache when it comes. Pray for the Gift of faith and pray that they might be a vessel to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to many. All I can do in my own earthly ‘power’ I do. However, Christ can do far more than I could possibly imagine. There is a particular prayer I pray over my children as they go to sleep. When I am in my quiet time with the Lord. I’ve had seven years to add to it. It seems to keep growing as I ask the Holy Spirit to help me to hand each of my children into His keeping. Again, just like my post on singleness, I cannot do this in my power. I can ask God specifically to make me let go and allow his work in their lives to take place. Giving me a peace that surpassess all understanding.

Remember resilience comes from God. Character comes from God. He will guide and strengthen your children to know how to handle each situation. And you parent need to keep a safe and open relationship so your children can come and tell you just how they are feeling. Then mum and dad, with arms open wide and hearts ready. You listen and pray through every situation for guidance and protection.

Let me encourage you with a prayer I have for my four children. This prayer is one based around what we feel is most important for their lives as they grow. It begins with who God is as a reminded to myself that I have nothing to fear. He is enough and His power is unfathomable. I invite you to pray this prayer believer or your own, make it your own and pray for the things that matter.  

Almighty God,

You are so good and mighty. You are mighty to save, mighty in love and mighty in your promises. Thank you for sending your precious son to save us. Instead He has saved me and brought me out of the grave and given me life. You are so worthy of praise. Thank you for holding me up daily, teaching me and correcting me along the way. Gently showing me your ways and pointing me to your son Jesus in all that I do. Jesus you are my hearts joy and greatest desire. I’m sorry for the way in which I sin against you in thought, word and deed daily. Forgive me, wipe me clean and purify my heart. Allow me to always show this side to my family. When I am in the wrong to ask them for forgiveness, always teaching my children how to function and behave as a family unit. Close, understanding, empowering and rejoicing for each other. Holy Spirit come into my heart and do your work. Create in me, change me and strengthen me to be your vessel. To live for you and proclaim your gospel to all people. Especially my children. Oh Lord, that you will save them. There is nothing good they or I can do to make them be born again. But you can do it. You can change their hearts and take the scales from their eyes. Please Jesus bring each of my children to you. Let their hearts be changed and their longing to be for your laws and to have a heart after You alone. Holy Spirit transform my children to be strong and not waver from the truth. Cover them with the armour of God. Make it a daily wanting to be in the word and spending time with you. I ask that your hand is upon their lives. That like you say in Proverbs you steer them towards the right career. Where they will study. What they will do in this life. Remind them, nothing matters unless they are doing it for your glory. And God please help me to raise them to fear and love you. Help me to encourage, affirm, equip, train and correct them so that they might be the best they can be. I pray for their husbands and wife. I pray now that you are moulding them and strengthening them by your Spirit to be the best they can be for you and the families they will one day create. Make each of them be slow to speak and quick to listen and understand the needs of their spouses. Help my children to choose their partner wisely. Listening to your direction. Knowing your voice and obeying at all times no matter how hard. Jesus will you bless their families and homes. Bless them in ways I couldn’t even imagine. Help them to live in your joy and your covering. I pray for their children and each generation to follow. That all will be saved. All will call upon your name. And finally God when they experience hardship in this life, show them how to press into you, how to rely solely on you and give thanks. No matter what. Always declaring your goodness. Oh, give them a great faith. I pray that I will see each of their faces in Heaven. Praising you forever. 

Thank you Father, thank you.

Amen.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13.

Jennifer X

Noahs Dedication and First Birthday

As soon as Noah was born I pretty much had his theme for his Dedication/1st Birthday celebrations. It’s super easy to guess what it was…. Nautical. And that was it for me. I discovered the world of Pinterest and the rest is history! I was busy pinning and imagining all sorts of ideas on how we will celebrate. What we wanted to do is have our closest friends and family come together. Worshipping God and thanking Him for the gift of Noah’s life. Following this we would celebrate with a delicious luncheon. 

The invitations to Noah’s party were placed into glass jars and hand delivered.

First thing I needed to do was source the location. The location had to have long tables, chairs and a kitchen to make life easier. We decided on a modern open plan church at Miranda Salvos. Lots of light and easy access with parking for the guests.

James thought it would be best to hand out a small order of service so our guests could read along with our song choice and message. The party ran for only a few hours in total. I had my brother who is a graphic designercome up with a treasure map style of invitation. I then ordered small glass bottles on Ebay and super glued twine around the lid. I dropped a few shells inside and voila!! Possibly the best invitation I’ve ever made. Agh, but then I had to hand deliver all the invites… so a note here reader. If you decide to do this make sure your guests aren’t states or continents away! Haha!

Where was I, yes, invites went out and then I made a list:

Blue and white Table material cut into cloths from Marrickville.

Bamboo cutlery

Blue Paper Napkins 

We went for a bush walk to find thick pieces of bark and sticks to create decorations for the tables.

Tags Printed to tie around Paper Napkins

Order in 12 BBQ chickens cut into 8 pieces

Order in a large Ham leg to glaze

Order in Noah’s Ark cake

Paint shoe boxes to put the lollipops in

Make Origami Boats out of newspaper as bunting

Create makeshift Boats as Table Decorations

Create a playlist of music for during lunch

Buy a Fish Pinata and fill with candy

After I made this list it made getting the jobs done a whole lots easier. I ticked them off in only a matter of days. 

Now, the fun part. Organising the children’s menu. A given was hot dogs for the kids. Some of my drama students and families were invited, it gave the older children a great sense of responsibility. Frankfurts take a few minutes to boil. I already had the buns, sauce and cheese lined up. This is a huge lifesaver. While I pulled out the salads and corn to put onto the serving table the older kids gave the younger ones their dogs then. It’s all in the timing. So they weren’t sitting around bored. The little ones ate outside (fenced off area with play equipment). While they were eating the main was ready to go.

For the cake table/ kids dessert I made blue jello cups and placed a piece of mandarin on top and a toothpick with a tiny sail. They became little boats in water. So cute! I ordered in from America ‘Gold fish’ crackers and placed them into boxes. The centre of the table had the cake and behind a few of Noah’s room decor I hung up. I placed some fresh purple Hydrangeas 2 tin vases to sit on each end. A few days out from the party I went into kmart to buy the candy for the Pinata. (Another great idea to keep the kids busy while we picked up all the main plates and put out dessert). While I was there I saw these gorgeous blue and white lolliepops! Only $2 each! I grabbed as many as I needed. Making the cake table complete.

Reader, when you plan a party you need to think of these few things.

At each transition (mains, dessert, speeches etc) how long will it go for? 

Can the children sit around for said period of time?

What things can we have for the children to do or make their day a little more fun?

Always look at reject shops, dollar stores etc for cutlery, plates etc. Then compare it with what’s available on Ebay! 

Now for the adult menu. We catered for about 100 guests. A few helped by bringing a dessert or salad. You must be organised! I’ll say it again, organisation is key so you have a stress free event. 

Menu

Glazed Maple and Mustard Ham off the bone.

Bbq Chicken

Corn on the Cob salted and drizzled in fresh lime and Coriander (I boiled 3 bags of the frozen ones)

Asian Noodle Salad

Carrot Salad

Garden Salad

Chickpea and Roasted Veggie Salad

Tabouli

Hommus 

Fresh Bread Rolls

Condiments * Don’t ever forget the butter! *

Gravy

Dessert

Noah’s Birthday Cake

Malteser Trifle

Strawberry Gateau

Peach Cheesecake

Profiteroles filled with custard

Homebaked cookies

Watermelon cut into the shape of Fish

A Huge Box of Whitmans Chocolates (A gift to us)

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With the ham, I glazed it slowly at 150 degrees for an hour and a half. I simply put it on when I arrived in the morning to set up the venue. And for the corn I sent a friend into the kitchen to boil the water 10 minutes before the end of the service.

Thank you cards

I organised thank you cards for the gifts Noah received by writing a simple bible verse on his foot. On the back of the card was a personal thank you for each guest. I looked around and researched for an envelope that would really stand out. And I totally found one on Etsy. Unfortunately it’s not around anymore but the one I bought had a nautical pattern inside!! Seriously!! Just the perfect touch!

Like I’ve said before, James and I love to entertain and serve. A dedication and first birthday is a wonderful occasion. To have those you love witness us giving our precious child back to God followed by a celebration.

God is good. We cherish this day and each of our children’s dedications.

Jennifer X

Baby Essentials.

I’m at that age where everyone around me is having babies. If I’m not pregnant than I know at least three or four people who are. Just this year alone I have watched four of my students (whom I taught years ago!! wow!!) fall pregnant and start to have their own little families. It’s absolutely beautiful.

I have a very large family. For the past 5 years we have had three children born on each side. That’s huge. At the moment we are talking 21 children between James’ and my family!! 

Do NOT talk to me about Christmas shopping. 

Social media can be a great thing at times (obviously because I blog) and through it I have been able to see so many of my friends and family give their pregnancy and birth announcements and I’m fast realising women in my life must think I have all these ideas and knowledge up my sleeve for the best gadgets for baby. I get asked ALL the time, what I use, what item is best and how I go about discovering the best gadgets. It’s got to be because I have 4 children. This might look like I know the latest brands, the latest ideas and gadgets for baby. I DO NOT! I repeat, I DO NOT!!

But what I would like to share with you mumma’s and daddy’s are my top items you need as a first time parent, or really at any stage. Items I swear by. That make life economically easier in the long run.

You need to think ahead. I’m serious. Don’t think, ‘oh, we will just see how we go with one child.’ Chances are you will be having at least one more… or three… or four. Ok, I’ll try not to scare you. In doing this you will make wiser decisions on what pram you purchase, your car, your baby’s clothing and ultimately what type of home you will live in. Whoa, slow down Jennifer. Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you what type of home to live in!

So based on these factors here are my top 21 Baby Essentials.

Phil and Ted’s Porta Cot.THIS IS MY NUMBER 1!!! We travelled all over Europe with (something similar but just found out they don’t sell anymore!). It folds down into a small bag size. You can take it ANYWHERE! We popped our bad boy up in restaurants, airports, you name it, we did it! And Scarlet Jean loved it.

Love to Dream Baby Zip bags. These things are a game changer!! No wriggly arms will be getting out of these bags. And you can purchase them Organic.

Selāh in the Love to Dream Zip Bag. 3 to 6 Months.

Sun Visor– The Outlook Auto Shade Car Sun Shade helps protect from strong sunlight, UV and glare. Car shades screen up to 90% of harmful UV rays with UPF 10+ rated fabric. Make sure you find something that fits the dimensions of your car windows. We have a SUV with very large windows. It’s been really hard to find something that works.

Coffee Holder– That attaches to your pram. It is sturdy and fits most cups and bottles. Trust me, you WILL need this for the sleepless nights. This is the one we own. It’s had a few beatings against the car boot and looks as good as new. 

A Pram Hook- That allows you to attach your handbag to your pram. It comes in handy when doing the grocery shop. You can’t keep your handbag in the basket at the bottom of the pram and have room to put your groceries etc in the bottom. You can buy a $7 one at Kmart. Or go for something a little more Earth friendly with these Vegan clipsfor just under $20!

Notice how the second pram seat doesn’t sit down in the basket. It’s a fantastic model.

A COMFORTABLE pram! – Here’s my very humble opinion on prams. You need to think about the future, more children, storage space and getting through doors! Also, research what prams have won awards, how easily they can collapse and fit into your car. Do the seats change around or are they fixed? I’m sure there are so many more great options out there now. I’ve even seen a pram that folds itself!! Literally!! Crazy! My pram of choice is the Baby Jogger. It has 16 different configurations and it grows as your family grows. That’s all impressive but what sold it for me was the pram seats don’t sit down in the basket meaning there is so much room for shopping, and little legs. It’s also won a heap of awards.

All my babies sat in this Bumbo, wee all except Noah. He was too chubby to fit. It involves baby at meal prep and eating times around the table. teaching them to sit up.

Bumbo– Say no more, you want one of these. So versatile and easy to take any and everywhere to prop up Bub once they can hold their head up.

Baby Monitor- If I showed you our old bunged up one you would laugh. Due to fear of embarrassment I won’t!! However. I have my eye on a beauty. Go for something that has split screens to monitor future babies also. The one I’m super impressed with is the Uniden. It can split up to four screens. Now you may not need that but think about the play room or if the children are watching a movie and you’re in another area of the house doing the ironing or cooking! Again. Always think of the future. 

Nasal Saline Spray– This little guy will become your new best friend for baby’s colds and sniffles. 

Bouncer/swing- Ah yes, sweet sweet relief from holding baby ALL DAY LONG! My babies suffer with colic and reflux for the first 3-4 months of their lives. Having a bouncer helps them to keep their food down, stretch out and mummy’s arms are free to do the other million jobs! Depends on what you like. Some offer the a vibration or song, while others are fancy with a swing that can rock baby to sleep. 

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Essential Oils– Let’s talk…. Essential oils. If you don’t have them yet, then you need to get onto them ASAP. My favourite range stock beautiful blends for baby. Click hereto see some of the incredible packs to help baby to be living it’s best life essentially ha! They are expertly formulated by aromatherapist, Sylla Sheppard-Hanger and essential oil chemist, Dr. Robert Pappas, with both safety and aromatherapeutic benefits in mind. Each blend addresses the most common needs of parents and children, and has an aroma your little ones will love! Always 100% pure, and never adulterated, these blends are bottled with your little ones in mind. They also stock diffusersto go with these little gems. They add a range of benefits depending on what oil you diffuse in your child’s room.

Humidifier– These little guys can be particularly effective for treating dryness of the skin, nose, throat, and lips. They can also ease some of the symptoms caused by the flu.

A Stylish Baby Bag- Because let’s be real, this will now become the only bag you ever use for the next 5-10 years! My favourite is from the Iconic. It’s a tan leather backpack, in fact it’s so stylish I would buy it just as an everyday bag. It has two side pockets and one with a tissue dispenser. So good! I love, love that It’s machine washable. Mumma you are going to need this and love it just as much as I. With little sticky hands, spilt drinks and everyday happenings. I have included a few others with differing price ranges. New Chic,Tiny Fox and Peakaboobaby. What’s more is they all offer Afterpay.

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Affordable Diapers and Baby Wipes – We have tried a few over the years, I used cloth for Noah and really loved it, however I found they were a little bulky. I’m certain they are better now. Some disposables and wipes gave my children rashes and were harsh. The best disposable nappies, that we love, are you ready for it…. ALDI. Mamiaare brilliant and you simply cannot beat their price from starting at as low as 14c per diaper!

Breast Pump – Man have I gone through my fair share of breast pumps!! Most have been rubbish. The one I’ve personally used and kept the longest is the Tommee TippeeIt has great suction and is super easy to pull apart and wash. Go check it out. 

Baby Carrier – This really is something you need to go into a store and try/trial before buying. We own the Ergobabyand LOVE IT! We recently took a day trip to the snow and I nursed Selah in it for 4 hours and it didn’t hurt my back for one second. And that’s saying something. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have a good back at the best of times. It has brilliant lumbar support and you can wear your baby in it from newborn to toddler age. As for a few similar options, I’ve added them on here to make things easy for you.Take a look at BOBA X. The patterned designs are so gorgeous and boho. You can literally design your outfit around your carrier. I love that they don’t look like the standard black carriers. They are designed to carry your child for up to 30 months! The Lillebabycarrier can hold baby from newborn up to 20kg. What I really like about this product is that it the Hip Dysplasia institute has vouched that Lillebaby is a hip healthy product. 

Sudocream– Is phenomenal stuff! When Noah was born we tried a heap of different nappy creams and this was a HUGE stand out. I apply the stuff on all my children’s cuts and scratches also. Clears anything up in a day or so. Another alternative is making it yourself. I have made a beautiful baby cream for nappy rash. With Essential Oils. It’s so smooth, creamy and gentle on baby’s bottom (thank you Pinterest!). Why not make up a huge batch and have it ready for when baby arrives. 

Nail Trimmer – I don’t need to say much here. Baby needs his/her nails trimmed and so you need one! 

Bath Chair – What was I saying about my bad back… yeah, well this is a lifesaver of a product for me. I don’t have to bend over holding baby up and balance them with one hand and then with the other try to get your hand lathered in soap and wash them down…. NOPE! And that’s why this product helps me in my everyday life with my babies.

Baby Body Creams – I’m a little OCD when it comes to oiling my babies. I use olive oil, coconut, organic sunflower it’s all so wonderful on the skin. Recently I was gifted this beautiful baby care pack from my lovely girlfriend. It was a limited edition Doterra Baby wash, Cream and Diaper Rash Cream. I must say I was a little apprehensive, thinking I only wanted to use Shea Butter and gentle products and oils. IT WAS AMAZING!! It does have the Shea Butter already in there. We are using it not only on baby Selāh but all my bigger babies too! Click hereto check out Kel’s page and maybe ask a few questions or order in her baby pack. You won’t regret it.

Cot – Naturally you will need one of these unless you co-sleep. My only advice here is try to purchase one that doesn’t scream too much for one sex or the other. You want something versatile. For either a boy or girl. 

Clothing – This is the most exciting part of shopping for baby. ALL the cute clothes! If you aren’t finding out the sex (we don’t) opt for lots of unisex colours. Terracottas, mustard and creams are right in at the moment and perfect for baby. Some of my fav places to shop for our babies are our-folkChildren of the TribeFin and Vince, and Luca the Label.

So there you have it. My top finds and loves for 2018! What are your top baby essentials?

Happy shopping and enjoy this season. It truly is a magical one.

Jennifer X

Our Engagement Party

When James proposed we had only been dating 3 Months. As soon as I met him I knew he was the one for me. However we had two different dreams for our wedding. I wanted a beautiful old church and James wanted near the water. Considering we were getting married in Autumn and you can’t have an engagement party in a church… well normally, we went with a beach for our engagement party. And oh my was it everything we dreamed. We decided on a Moroccan themed Twilight Party. Our location was Kurnell in the South of Sydney. It is our favourite beach in Sydney. What’s so beautiful about this beach is not only does it have crystal clear flat blue waters but there is so much green grass (bike tracks) and a forest of trees planted by Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence and George Prince of Wales back in 1881. Well I say thank you gentlemen for creating a romantic backdrop to our special day. 

So we went down to the venue a few times to get a vision for our party. We ABSOLUTELY LOVE ENTERTAINING!! We love serving others and giving them a beautiful experience and lasting memories of being transported into a different time or place. I wanted people to love our engagement party just as much as we did!

Our location was a walk along the beach then up some enchanting sandstone steps and into the lush forest of green grass and trees overlooking the ocean. Yep, it really was as good as it sounded. But I was a little worried people wouldn’t know where to go exactly. My dad actually suggested to somehow have red and gold flags going up the steps to the venue so people know their way. Wow! This had to happen. Luckily he had sooooo much bamboo growing where he worked. He cut it down and after another trip to good old Spotlight and more red material and crinkly scissors (you know the ones that help save on sewing) we made some makeshift flags. 
I wanted lots of reds, cushions and blankets to be the flooring of our party. We sourced small stools from Tree of Life and literally bought metres and metres of red material from spotlight. Throwing in miss matched dark rugs, old Persian rugs and sourcing small side tables from the Salvos or Vinnies. 

So what we would do is place a rug down, a small table on top and then one day randomly I found at my local shopping centre (don’t you love when this happens at the perfect timing) a woman who was making pillows for $5 each!!! You could pick your choice of colour. We bought about 40 red and burgundy pillows. So now we had lots of little spots for people to relax and sit for the evening. 

The 3 Gazebos set up and decorated in a Moroccan feel.

With that vision coming together I realised there needed to be a few stations. For food. Our meats, salads and a red themed Lolly Bar!! We started looking on eBay and party hire websites, very slowly we were dying inside at the $$$$ just to hire Moroccan style tents! We had exhausted nearly every avenue when James found on eBay a simple Red Gazebo.They were affordable and draping material and lamps over them would jazz them up. So another makeshift success. We bought three of them and popped them up in a matter of SECONDS on the day! Wow! 

Our twilight engagement party was coming together. We had a lot of resources up our sleeves. As a music and drama teacher it was easy to grab a hold of some of our students to be the live acoustic music. Plus they were able to promote their band. They added just the right feel for the evening. So talented and such humble students. Not to mention a drama student of mine, Erin Latimerand a parent took the photos for the event. I never asked, they just did it from a love of photography and a love for us ha!

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So can we all say community. We have some incredible friends. We really do. To feed the masses in the woods meant we needed to use a generator to keep the meat hot. We used our friends huge spit. On it we cooked up beef and lamb. We served it up with a huge pot of gravy and an array of salads and breads. 

The Bridesmaids serving up the Salads.
The groomsmen served the meat and gravy to our guests.

Our cake was made my best friend. A huge chocolate mud cake iced in red with the writing in the same font as our engagement invitation!!! She is one talented lady that’s for sure! 

We had a delicious surprise up our sleeves. James and I would often buy Manoosh at Carlton after teaching. How good is Zaatar and cheese Manoosh?! Seriously, It’s Lebanese flat bread… baked from a dough in a hot oven with Mozzarella, Halloumi and cheddar and Zaatar. It melts and the spice is infused into the cheese. They wrap it up tight and oh my! It has you salivating and wanting more. Think of it as Lebanese Pizza. We ordered in over 100 of these to start the evening off! They went like hotcakes. Such a stand out of our night.

What’s a party without a bit of disaster…. We had one other delicacy up our sleeves. On our first date James brought me to a fantastic restaurant called Sultan’s Table in Enmore. *Side note, it’s super affordable and so delicious I promise you will be rolling out the door!!* During the week I went back to our well loved restaurant and bought about 10 tubs of their fresh housemade dips! Then I just picked up crackers to go with it. My thinking was, as the boys carve up the meat everyone can be eating the Lebanese pizzas and dip. Simple, yummy foods. BUT, when I went to go place all the crackers on the table i suddenly remembered I left the dips in my fridge back home! DYING!!!!! AGHHHHHH! So our guests has dry crackers on their tables… they must of been thinking, um, thanks for the Parrot food! I tell you coming home to gallons of dip in your fridge is not fun. You simply cannot eat your way through Garlic dip and Baba Ganoush without a not so happy ending! 
Ok, can we just take a moment to look at our lollie buffet! We had red M&M’s but instead of those initials, we had ours!!! You can actually do that. You can order in your own initials! What an element to bring to the party. On each of the candy lids we tied a small tag around it with ribbon. For the tags we printed famous romantic movies quotes. The lollies were in different sized jars and spread out along the table for convenience. We made up lollie bags for the children to keep little hands out of the jars and make the line up not so cluttered. 

The huge Lolly Buffet being set up….

My dress was really special to me, I bought it from Positano Italy when I was travelling that year with my friend. I bought it thinking I needed to wear it to something special. Our engagement was the perfect occasion. 

My Dress was purchased from Positano, Italy.

We stood back a few times throughout the evening and watched the children paddle in the water as the sun set. People were chatting and laughing, enjoying good food and fellowship. We took these moments in and thanked God for such a wonderful day. The sun was golden and shone down where we were celebrating the evening. A shining ray of warm light. Yep, The Lord was in this place!  And so our dreams came into reality creating this relaxing, ambient, romantic engagement party. Our hearts were full and I couldn’t wait to marry the man of my dreams and spend a lifetime creating memories and entertaining our friends and loved ones. 

Jennifer X

Our Snow Day 2018

Have you ever thought ‘gee, I would LOVE to take my very young family to the snow but not for too long, because they will get tired and maybe need a nap or get too cold so we will need a break, a hot chocolate, some hot fries and maybe just a few hours play to introduce them to the snow?” (*and breath*). Well I have thought it MANY times and I think I’ve found the right place. Growing up my family never saw the snow. I always wanted to go but it wasn’t until I was 27 years old that I had my first snow experience in New York for Christmas. I really wanted to be one of those ‘snow families.’ I imagined being that family with matching snow gear out on the snow fields making snowmen, snow angels and becoming expert skiers. A gal can dream.

Last year I thought I had better make it happen. I was trying to work out how many days we should be away for with a 5, 3 and 1 year old. We were looking at Air BnB’s, hotels, little farm stay’s and other places that were further out from the ski fields. They were all so expensive. I couldn’t justify the kids throwing some snowballs and tobogganing for a few hours at the cost of a fortune. After some research and almost googling my exact opening question I found the answer.

Corin Forest Mountain Resortis a commercial ski field and tourist destination located in the Tidbinbilla Range, south west of Canberra in the ACT. About 3 hours South of Sydney. This place has a family focused environment. Corin provides 2.5 hours of snow play sessions 3 times daily at 8:30AM, 11:00AM and 2:00PM. And the time goes by fast. We were tobogganing for most of our time. There is a seperate section to build snowmen and perhaps a little snowball fight! What’s great about Corin is that it offers skiing and snowboarding lessons also. The ski slope is designed to help beginners gain confidence and become efficient on the snow. The slope features an easy to use “magic carpet” ski lift and gentle terrain. The resort has you covered with toboggan, pants, jackets and boots forhire.

I had Selāh attached to me. She was so snug and slept the whole time.. we had to walk up a decent size hill, well decent enough for toddlers and mothers carrying their babies. Once we made it to the bottom of the snowy mountain, you guessed it, there was another mountain! James helped the children up the small hill with their toboggan. I spent most of my time laughing my head of at our children!! Once they got the hang of it they left us for dust. Noah carried the toboggan while the girls toddled up to meet him, on they piled, Noah was on the back to push them off. It was a success nearly every time… Apart from the occasional landing on poor little Aquila. If you ask them where they would rather holiday… at the moment for today anyway it’s the snow. What a fantastic way to introduce your littlies to the snow and help develop a real love for the big slops.

At the end of our session we were greeted by a large log cabin, it was almost calling to us. Surrounded by a thick fog we could just see the smoke filtering out above the cloud giving us the momentum to get indoors to that huge open fire. We entered the warmth and thawed out. Inside you can buy yummy meals, hot chocolate and marshmallows to toast on the open fire. What a way to end the day.

Now, I highly recommend you plan your day well. On the way down we passed some wineries,Goulburn Gaoland aDinosaur Museum. Why not stock up on bit of wine and great coffee beansfor mum and dad and then drop the kids off at the gaol… jokes! The wineries we recommend to pick up a few wines on the way back areEling Forest Winery,Lerida Estate WinemakersandMount Majura Vineyard.

This really is the place to be for a family winter outing. Here are a few snaps of our glorious time from our last visit.

Selāh was asleep, snug as a bug.
Jennifer X

My Thoughts On Fathers Day.

When I was in the classroom I would begin each morning with devotions. I would lead my children in song and prayer. We had this very ‘humble’ shoe box. We cut a slit at the top of it, whenever a student needed prayer they would quietly write their request down and then come out the front and place it into the box. No one placed their names on the prayer points so there was no fear. We came boldly into prayer with the Lord, petitioning Him, thanking Him and waiting for answers. Now and then we had a prayer request for some parents that seemed to be struggling or a broken marriage. I must say it was a rare occasion. The majority of prayers were about friendships or sport, sometimes holidays or sick friends. 

On this particular morning I had chosen our new memory verse as a class to learn. My 9 year olds were buzzing. I could hear the soft murmurs and little voices of joy ready to set themselves on a new challenge. I began to read King David’s Psalm 27… “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” The children didn’t speak. They were enthralled by the words a man wrote thousands of years ago. I continued, and eventually I came to the line “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” I went on and finished this beautiful Psalm filled with such glorious promises from God. By the end, I closed the Bible and looking up to engage with the class again I saw a flood of hands up in the air, waiting to have their say on this passage. I never knew or never could predetermine what those little hands had going on in their hearts. I was going to touch on friendships and loneliness, ah, but the Psalm struck many deeper chords. 

The first child I allowed to speak explained “my dad doesn’t live with us anymore.” The next, “ My parents split up.” And another “I hate having to go from house to house to see each parent.” Again “My dad hardly sees us.” These comments seemed to never end. My heart was aching as I listened to each child explain either a situation they were involved in or a friend of theirs. My heart sank… we had to put a hold on our lessons for the day. I remember thinking it’s so unfair. These little ones don’t deserve such uncertainty, such sadness, rejection. I stood there shaking my head clutching my Bible. As I breathed in deeply, taking it all in, in my mind I said “Lord, give me the right words to say to these children, to your children.” And so, as Father’s Day 2018 is drawing to an end I find myself saying the same words to you dear reader. “Father, give me the right words to help your child.” You might be hurting, you might be lonely, Fathers Day might be the worst day of the year for you.

I am here, I’m thinking of you and praying for you. You know what I told my year 4 class? I said “Look! look at what follows after the pain or losing someone or feeling abandoned. Look at what’s written next. There is more, there is a promise – ‘ The Lord will receive me.’” You see the Lord will always be there, He cares. It’s a promise and He does not break His promises, He simply cannot. Psalm 27 is about the essence of God the Father. We do not need anything else but Him alone. He will fulfill all our needs. He is our mother, our father, our provider, our protector, our fortress our strength. Only in Him and Him alone will we find healing friend. Only in Him and the blood of Jesus will our hearts find peace and real joy. An everlasting joy that cannot be taken. 

Oh reader. Your pain is real. You are heard, your cries are heard by a loving Heavenly Father who is ready to stand up and hold you up and carry you through. He is willing to sacrifice His beloved son for YOU. You need to only call upon His name, you need only believe in Him and you will have the gift of salvation. This Father’s Day allow God to do wonders in your heart. Allow Him to adopt you into His family, allow this to be the first Fathers Day where you can say “this is it, I will rejoice in this day for the Lord has made it and it is good.” Reader, if you are grieving, allow the Holy Spirit to come along side you and gently minister to your soul, gently love and speak to you. 

As we slowly looked back over Psalm 27 my students eyes were opened to see the goodness and kindness of God the Father and how much he wants us to trust in Him to be our ultimate love. Today you can walk away with a Father. You can be adopted into His Kingdom. You see, earthly longings, earthly yearnings and desires will always disappoint you. Nothing here on earth will fulfill us. Even those of us with wonderful fathers. They are just a taste of who God is. They point to our Father in Heaven and show us or show our children the amazement of a Father who never ever lets us down. Who never runs away, who never hurts us but only does what is best for us ALWAYS. Father’s, don’t instill a sense of confidence into children that is simply for self satisfaction. Instill a confidence and hope in Jesus. So that anything your children do is because Christ has done this within them! What lasting joy comes from this. 

Reader maybe you are the father who let your children down. Or perhaps you are going through a trialling time for whatever reasons. Maybe you go to bed at night lamenting, agonising over the what if’s or wishing you could change things. Let today be the first step for healing and restoration. BUT allow the work to begin with Jesus. Get down on your knees friend. Beg for forgiveness, stand up, take a deep breath and go forth with Christ behind and in front of you leading (as your Father) every new, fresh and exciting step. In His name. For His glory! Amen.

Happy Fathers DAY to all the dad’s/ father figures out there. 

‘If you, then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Matthew 7:11

Jennifer X

My Broth and Stock Recipes

Do you have go to meals for winter? We do! I can’t get through winter without these recipes. From around May I’ll get a kick start in the kitchen making stocks and broth. Freezing them up and starting the process for cooking and freezing up amples of lasagnas, tomato sauces, soups and a few more little bits and pieces!

I actually don’t know how to get through winter without my freezer full. We’ve just started Scarlet’s new dance classes. They run for an hour and a half. Meaning we get home at 6pm. Right on dinner time. Then the children have martial arts with the anticipation of a few other sport commitments coming up. And with all this running around we could soon become that ‘take out’ family. Spending WAY too much on junk food!

I believe you need one weekend (after making your stock and broth) to put together your plan of attack and cook your little heart out or what I like to do is let my little slow cooker do all the hard work on some of these dishes! 

Righto, I’m going to share my go to meals for our family that are so nutritious, delicious and filling. Remember the key here is giving yourself time. Time to make your broth/stock and time to cook up double, triple quantities to freeze up. Ultimately making your life super easy. 

Stockonly takes 3 hours to make. It’s full of nourishing vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s appealing to make when in a hurry. Brothcan take up to 36 hours in your slow cooker. Both Broth and stock aid in gut healing properties, digestion and helps to fight colds. Can I encourage you to look it up, research it yourself. You can make any broth but I recommend to use chicken because it’s delicious and it works with more dishes. Chicken Broth contains minerals that the body can absorb easily such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur. Bone broth (using beef and lamb bones) is another one worth investing into.
Oh, and an important note. We have watched one too many Netflix Documentaries. ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘What the Health’. We have been changed for the better and as a result and we only buy grass fed, steroid free, FREE RANGE meat. Helping the farmers, loving animals and the planet. For the family. It’s a win win. Pricy? yes, worth it? Absolutely.


Stock

Ingredients

  • Chicken carcass (you can get these for a couple of dollars from any good butcher).
  • 3 litres of filtered water.1 brown onion.
  • 2 stalks of celery roughly chopped.
  • 1 large or 2 carrots roughly chopped.
  • 10 Peppercorns.
  • 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother).
  • 2 bay leaves. (Any other herbs you might have in the fridge or garden adds great flavour).

Method

  1. Place bones in cold water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Place all ingredients on a pan and roast for 20 minutes, toss and then roast for another. Almost until very dark. Pop everything into the filtered water. Bring to the boil. Scrap off the bubbly scum.
  2. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 3 hours.
  3. Pour through a sieve 3 times and freeze in 250g – 1 litre containers. The perfect portions for cooking. 

Chicken Broth/Bone Broth

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Roasted chicken carcasess.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother.
  • 2 Onions Unpeeled.
  • 1 Australian Grown Garlic head.
  • 2 celery stalks including the leafy green parts.
  • 2 Carrots Unpeeled.
  • 10 Whole Peppercorns.
  • 3 Fresh bay leaves.
  • Small bunch of fresh Parsley.
  • Small bunch of fresh Thyme.

Method

Place bones in cold water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Leave all skins on the vegetables as they have so many health benefits. Cut entire garlic head across ways. Place all ingredients on a pan and roast for 20 minutes, toss and then roast for another. Almost until very dark. Then place into the slowcooker. Add water and vinegar so that it covers all ingredients by 2 inches. Cook for 12 to 36 hours on LOW! Strains 3 times to get rid of all the bones and scum. Freeze in batches. 

Also, halve the recipe if your slowcooker isn’t large enough. 

Pour through a sieve 3 times and freeze in 250g – 1 litre containers. The perfect portions for cooking. 

Ok, there’s our base for SO MUCH!!!! 

Winter Meal Ideas

Our weeknight meals in winter will look something like this. (Give or take dinner parties, sales on particular vegetables and outings.)

Monday:Soup and Fresh Bread.

Tuesday:Organic grass fed sausages or steak roasted Sweet potato, Brussel sprouts and broccolini. 

Wednesday:Fish and chips. Homemade. 

Thursday:My lasagna. (Click hereto find out how I make what my kids and husband say is the perfect lasagna).

Friday:Taco Movie night. (Click hereto make my SUPER EASY house made taco seasoning!)

Saturday:Homemade Pizzas. (Click hereto see how we make the perfect pizza dough).

Sunday:Pesto Pasta (click here to learn how to make our pastaand delicious pesto). James and I will usually eat a yummy homemade curry! (Click hereto grab a few curry base recipes.)

*Note soup and lasagna nights are nights we finish sport late.

Remember keep your life simple by planning ahead and freezing in bulk. Making pasta and drying it out. What you are trying to do is leaving out the numbers and additives and going as clean and fresh and healthy as possible.

Stay warm folks and feel free to let me know if you have tried any of these recipes and what you think.


Jennifer X

The Ultimate Fathers Day Gift Guide!

Father’s Day is literally around the corner! Next weekend in fact! How many of you give the same thing every year to your Father’s or husbands? The undies, the socks, maybe some fishing gear… let’s be real, it’s easy, most of the time they are in need of these items. I’m guilty of giving these little items over the years too. I mean who can say no to $2 undies from Kmart?! Come on!! I love a good bargain. Today I want to show you a few places you can buy the regular socks and undies as gifts but with a little more pazzazz! 

There is also other ways of giving affordable gifts that are a bit out of the ordinary or perhaps you assumed they were not in your price range or you may not have even had the idea before. Well ladies and gents I’m going to give you a list of varying gift ideas. Some for kicks and some very sentimental ideas. And the key, if you find it on a website or store and it costs a heap MAKE SURE YOU GOOGLE OR CHECK EBAY!!! Quite often there are alternatives or cheaper deals on the same item. And please don’t forget Catch of the Day. That’s a game changer right there!

Why don’t we start with the really sentimental items first. Recently James gifted me a gorgeous mapof the stars from the night of our wedding day. It’s so romantic, we framed it and it’s in our formal lounge. A real keepsake and huge brownie points for either him or her really but we are supposed to be focussing on dad, so for him it’s a great idea. An online store most people have heard of is ‘Hard to Find.’ It’s my go to for something different. The ideas are endless and again I will repeat, if you like a product look elsewhere before purchasing. Just to make sure it’s not somewhere else at a better price. Thinking similarly to the map idea they have cufflinkswith the coordinates of any memorable occasion also. Two very different prices, similar ideas and worth a look into. A way to make a gift really personal is to have it engraved. This place stocks iPadcovers or Whiskey Glasseswhere you can get your loved ones initials engraved. That’s a class act. Oh, and did you know that Country Road has a ‘Make it Personal’ page. Click on your item and then type the name you want engraved on your gift of choice. (If I have to write the word Engrave one more time…) where was I… Yes, and they have really nice toiletry bags that could be the perfect gift. 

Sneaky shopping that is super affordable yet comes across as ‘oh these must of cost you a fortune’ can be a good thing. It’s always nice to find a bargain and claim it but then again, isn’t there something sleek and exciting about finding a bargain that looks like you spent a fortune? Or am I on my own here? Maybe this shows you how exciting my life can be! Ha 🙂 I just totally went on a tangent, where was I, oh, pyjamas, and not just any pyjamas, 

Peter AlexanderPyjamas. I love buying these for James and they have sale items all the time. The quality is great and they are super comfy. Do yourself or your man a favour and buy some of these! Make it a little tradition, you won’t be sorry!

Another item I just bought James was a Round Ice Cube Tray. I went over to eBay and grabbed a bargain from them. Less than ten dollars! I was cheering! They really are the James Bond kind of look. And make any dinner party look all the more sophisticated with the details.

I’m a big fan of getting your man in the kitchen to help out and get along side all the deliciousness of food. Sooooo, why not a cookbook? and specifically I’m talking Jamie Oliver’s new Italian cookbookGive him something you can all benefit from 😏 get him in the kitchen trying new things or if you like to cook get him to mark what recipes he would like you to cook for him. Ha! I remember James doing this when we first got married. He would go through my cookbooks leaving sticky notes as to what he wanted to try. I still haven’t gone through them all. 

Something a little deeper and in need of our daily lives in our family is the Bible. I’m going to promote one today that works beautifully for James. I’ve never been a person who writes notes all over her Bible, I wish I was. Anyway, James is someone who writes all over his. I found the ESV Biblehas a journaling part with plenty of space for the reader to make notes, draw or sketch their thoughts and prayers to God. I just love this. 

Common gifts are great, there’s nothing wrong with them. Deals on drills and screwdrivers, I know they are around everywhere and people can be very particular about the brand they are after so I won’t post anything on them this time.  Back to those undies I was talking about earlier. Catch of the Day sells them online all the time AND a little fancier with good old Tommy Hilfiger check them out. Anyone who knows James knows he’s a socks and ties man. Sprezzais a really fun way of gifting your loved one with exactly this. For $36 a month you get 5-6 items chosen by stylists such as socks, ties, tie clips, cufflinks, sunglasses, corkscrews, a cigar cutter, a pocket flask… their ideas are endless and it really is my NUMBER 1 giftto give! A little of everything.  And this month in honour of Fathers Day they are giving away two of these gift boxes for the price of one. I say get your hot little hands on this gift idea!

James at the Sydney International Shooting Range. Watching our Dad’s shoot it out… he’s not nervous, much… ha!

Now, from past experience. The best Father’s Day gifts I can recommend was the Shooting Range. A few years ago we gifted our Father’s a voucher to come in and then take some practice at a range that’s situated on 80 hectares of semi-rural bushland at Cecil Park and it was brilliant. Great quality time. Another few outings we planned were Segways. Wow!!!! They are a blast. I was able to get myself a ticket to join the dads on this one. Oh, and one last gift I’ve given over the years, how could I forget the Go Kartracing out at Minto. Noah and I watched James and the dads race it out. It is something I really want to try myself. Maybe my mother’s day gift next year?? I might get James to read this post after Father’s Day.

And then there’s the traditional making gifts, the cards, baking, breakfasts and a favourite of ours is a book about Daddy every year. We buy one from anywhere. At the moment they have them for sale at AldiBig Wand Target. They have some great little reads for the kids to give to your favourite men. Making time together is your number one priority.

I think it’s really important to include something on Father’s Day where the kids can do something with dad. An activity like bike riding, rock climbing, putt putt or even just a picnic. Do what you love to do as a family. And make it your own, a tradition and memorable.

Happy Father’s Day to all the men who mean the world to us!

Jennifer X

Why We Homeschool

As with most Homeschool Mum’s I have been asked numerous times why we Homeschool and you know what normally happens for me? I clam up, I fumble my words and become this stuttering fool who looks like she needs some proper schooling herself. I mean, how could I possibly Homeschool if I can’t even string a single sentence together? 

Noah completing a maths equation.

In reflection I think it’s because I have so many thoughts swirling around my mind plus the anxiety that I don’t want to offend someone else if they chose another path for their child and in doing so I just blurt out the mundane ‘Oh, it works for our family.’ or the ‘there’s so much flexibility’ line. For each family it will be a different answer, sometimes a simple one, sometimes far more complex and others it will be a series of factors. Environment, finances, upbringing, values and so on.

Having a Blog can come in handy to actually write down these thoughts and send whoever is asking about why we Homeschool to get the well structured answer on my page before having another ‘dribble, dribble, dribble’ meltdown.

Our new home in Sydney has this small space
to keep resources, books and school projects.

For us the pros outweigh the cons and before I tell you all the pros for us let me just get this question out of the way. The five worded question we and many other Homeschoolers hear all the time… ‘Where do they get socialisation?’ What’s incredible about the homeschool community is once your child begins schooling (They must be age six to register here so we had to wait until Noah was old enough) there are many facebook pages and groups to join for support, groups for the kids to join and be apart of. Mothers are creating outings and get discounts for large groups and before you know it you are skipping along to art classes, science days, Medieval Fairs and even just the simple picnic. Not to mention the weekend sports. Lots of teamwork for our kids to be a part of. I think it’s important to educate people on the stigma of homeschooling. Many years ago when I finished my teaching Dip Ed I was contacted and asked to teach Drama to a group of Homeschool students. My first actual question was ‘ What’s wrong with them?’ I cringe when I remember saying that. The woman on the other end of the phone giggled and simply explained that nothing was wrong with the kids, the parents just chose to school them themselves. Now, that’s not to say that Homeschooling is for a particular type of child or parent. I think Homeschooling is for anyone! Any parent can do it, I know it can be daunting but there are so many of us around to support you and your children. I’ll list some sites you can look into a little later to find out more.

There are sacrifices, especially when you are on a single income BUT it is so worth it. And my goodness the deals and outings that are discounted with Groupon,Scooponand Dealscan save you hundreds! The bond and togetherness is deep. Family comes first and is always strengthening as we grow and learn.

Ok, so here’s my list as to why we have chosen to Homeschool? 

  1. I am their number one influence in life for training and guiding (besides God)
  2. The children learn at their own pace.
  3. We can really focus on their strengths and gifts. The children are able to chase their dreams early. University is an option from as young as 16 in Australia. Or even work or take courses during school hours. 
  4. They don’t need to sit exams or the HSC if they don’t want to and still be able to apply for UNI.
  5. I am a lifelong learner with them. I often find myself reading ahead in Math or History and I’m amazed and enthralled at my kids lessons. 
  6. I am the person who sees their character. The good and bad and correct it the way we see fit. I can come alongside them and work on this with them.
  7. I get to spend time with my children, deepening our relationship.
  8. I can pick what we will be learning each term. And it’s super easy. NESA has it all set out for us here in Australia. And I have a great program templatethat you can simply download to put your lessons or course outcomes in. EASY! It’s also great to look ahead and see what’s happening at the museum in the next few terms and align your content with it.
  9. I get to instill our Biblical values all day long, in conversation and in actions.
  10. We don’t experience the crowds for ‘excursions.’I am there for every step of success in their schooling. I see it and watch them in that moment and celebrate.e can take the day as easy or as fast as we like. Timing s flexible and that’s a great thing with having other children and timing their naps and when I need to breastfeed
  11. Everyday life becomes a learning opportunity.
  12. My children can avoid childhood bullying (as much as we can, it’s in every environment) and bad influences. Because we are present we
  13. are able to come alongside and guide in those instances. How our children respond is so important and also building resilience develops character.
  14. OUR LESSONS FOR THE DAY ARE OVER IN AN HOUR OR TWO!
  15. So much more time for us as a family.

It has been a lot of fun setting up a room of our home for schooling. Once we moved back to Sydney we set up a space upstairs for toys and books and resources. However we school around the dining table.

Below are some of the sites and Facebook groups I know of that are incredibly supportive and welcoming if you are thinking about becoming a Homeschool family. And I’m here also, to answer any of your questions and support your journey. Speaking from experience. IT’S A BLESSING AND JOY! 

Jennifer X

SHEN 

HEA

HOMESCHOOLING DOWNUNDER 

THE EDUCATING PARENT 

Our Home Birth of Selāh Jennifer

I never thought I would be one of those women who homebirth. I didn’t think I was strong enough and I read too many scary stories and ‘advice’ columns with ‘5 reasons why you shouldn’t have a home birth.’

When I was pregnant with my third child we moved from our home town to Newcastle. In booking my first midwife appointment, I was met by a kind lady explaining to me that, considering I had two progressively fast labours it is worth considering a home birth. With how hesitant I initially felt, we began researching into how to best birth at home. My third child was my first home birth and it was the most beautiful, tender, bonding experience as a family.

Noah, Scarlet and Aquila rubbing my back
through a contraction.

Unbelievably, my first three births occurred on their actual due dates! Statistically, a 5% chance! So naturally I couldn’t help but wonder if my fourth would be the same. We planned for another home, however, this time we were a little more prepared with setting the room up to my liking; essential oils, candles, soft flooring and plenty of towels. 

The 1st of May was our baby’s due date. It came by and went.  After that date every day felt like ten days in one! On May the 7th at around 4am I was lying in bed just dozing when I felt a huge contraction.

I layed there, waiting for that second contraction. Once it happened I woke my husband, James, and told him I was in labour. I had given him a list of things to do; call the photographer, the midwife, put the essential oils on, etc. I downloaded a contractions app and glued my eyes to my phone screen, waiting to hit the button. They began at 6 minutes apart, and noticed that they got quicker and quicker rapidly, just like my first 3 labours. As we wanted the birth to be a family experience, I went to wake each of my other children during that small pocket of rest. I’ll never forget their faces when I told them “mummy is having the baby now. Take your time to wake up and come out”. They were out within two minutes. We spent 9 months talking openly about labour, what to expect, how to help mummy best and not to be anxious or afraid of anything. And it paid off! 

I walked back into our bedroom into my little birthing corner awaiting the next contraction when James explained the midwife couldn’t make the birth. She was at hospital due to short staff and she said that our options were either, drive into hospital, or we call for an ambulance to take me there. So my dreams of a calm quiet birth suddenly changed due to unforeseen circumstances. 

When I found out that my midwife was no longer able to be at my birth I became anxious, causing my contractions drastically changing from 3 minutes back to 6 minutes. I never thought about the what if’s. I didn’t want to be anywhere but in my home with my little family bringing my baby into the world together.  The room was very quiet, but in my heart I felt uneasy. The children were rubbing my back and staying close to me. I needed to see my midwife’s face, I needed her to tell me it was going to be okay. 

When the photographerarrived, James explained the situation and together they put our children into the car to head to hospital. While they were gone I had time to pray and focus. Essentially, I was preparing myself to birth without my midwife being there. When James came back upstairs I explained I didn’t want to sit in a car in labour. I didn’t want to birth in the car. James was worried the ambulance officers would arrive and take me right to hospital but I clearly remember stating “call them, they can’t take me anywhere. They can be here as back up”. So that was it, and we were both really happy with this decision. James called 000 and explained I was in labour. They sent out a ambulance, but the telephone attendant isn’t allowed to get off the phone until the ambos arrive.  As I like to labour in complete silence, this didn’t help as I tried to stay in the zone and focus on my contractions. James had to politely ask the attendant to stop talking and ask him to just stay on the line, but leave the phone in the other room?’ In reflection this was a really funny moment we discovered, as the conversation went on, that the attendant was one of James’ mates.

Once the paramedics arrived, 15 minutes later they immediately tried to get me to stand and walk down the stairs to the ambulance. My contractions were only 2 minutes apart. (Now, I think it’s right in saying here that paramedics are trained in getting a person to hospital as quickly as possible for their safety.) The first of three, yes THREE ambulances arrived and a tall guy came in and proceeded to tell me ‘my wife gave birth to our first child three weeks ago, If you just get up and walk you’ll see.’ I was on all fours breathing deeply, I turned to him and said ‘No, you’ll see.’ 

I laugh when I remember that moment. He was really lovely trying to help, they all were but it became clear that paramedics are hardly ever called out for labour. When I heard the two guys outside my room calling for intensive care that’s when I really needed James. I couldn’t speak due to the intensity of the pain but my mind was incredibly distressed. I had a moment where I was thinking to myself is something wrong? But I know my body and I knew if I went to walk I would get no relief and judging by what happened with my firstborn, ultimately give birth away from my birthing space.

The kids were unbelievable during this whole time. They would rub my back, ask how I was and sit quietly. Noah (6) was enthralled by the photographer and how to take the perfect photo and the girls never left my side. Scarlet (4) and Aquila (20 months) sat and watched. 

So, by now I’m sitting at 2 minutes apart. There was so much noise happening in our home. We had 11 adults and 3 children all in there! Five males and one female ambulance officers, two cell carepeople (quietly waiting downstairs to collect our baby’s placenta blood and cord to be stored), a photographer and my husband and I. The ambos were talking and asking each other who was going to deliver the baby. They all stayed because they had finished their shifts and explained later it was good for their training. Only one of the 6 has witnessed and helped at a birth. They were also trying to coax me into the ambulance. Ha.

Finally one of them convinced me to get up and walk. He proceeded to tell me I had been sitting at 2 minutes apart for some time and I might be like this for a while still. Something overcame me right at that moment. I thought I had failed. I thought I must of been labouring for hours and had held up so many people. I suddenly stood up. I could see my reflection in the shower mirror and I will never forget my face. It was the face of defeat. I felt I had let everyone down. And so I took literally four steps out into the hallway and fell on the floor with another huge contraction and my waters broke. The paramedics proceeded to roll a chair up in front of my face and said they could take me down in it so I don’t need to walk. I was thinking, ‘get that out of my face.’ But apparently I was much more polite… James had put the children in the car for a second time and my photographer kept quietly telling the paramedics that it’s best not to move me. My husband walked back up the stairs with the children and said to everyone “she’s birthing here. We aren’t going to hospital. We are staying here.” And that was that.

I was in the hallway, just two metres away from my little sanctuary and I turned onto my back to push. Two of the drivers were holding each of my hands so I could push against them. The woman was down the other end to catch the baby with others gathered around to, umm, cheer me on maybe? I pushed out the baby’s head. The girls were sitting by my side quietly and Noah was down with James watching the baby being born. My second push was to get the baby’s shoulders out, as I was pushing I could feel the pressure. I looked down to see the poor woman’s face, a lab coat, gloves and what looked like goggles to deliver my baby. She looked slightly freaked out. (I just hope this experience hasn’t put her off childbirth!) I whispered “turn the shoulders, turn the shoulders.” And at that moment James came in and turned our baby and delivered HER onto my chest. I cried out “my baby, my baby” and the children gushed over Selāh Jennifer. Aquila called out ‘yay, baby, baby, yay.’ and then proceeded to kiss her and ended up with a mouthful of mucus, to which we have a lovely photograph of her reaction to the mucus in her mouth.

Noah was so thoughtful and brought me a drink
of water! Ahh! My boy!

James and Noah cut the umbilical cord together. We all had turns in holding our sweet baby girl. The girls kept sneaking moments to touch her skin while Noah took the initiative of bringing me a glass of water. My children displayed a maturity and boldness beyond their years.

Our homebirth was remarkable and truly a moment that brought our family unit closer with a lasting memory, only for our hearts to cherish.   

Jennifer X