30 September 2011

Things I'm Loving 30.9.11

Having to dig a bit deeper this week....a nasty flu bug has knocked us for six....but more on that later.

When being OCD Organised does pay
Loving that in this instance having this need to be ahead of the game meant I found a sale on flights to Australia so that all nine of us going to Nic's wedding jumped on the bandwagon and got great deals on flights. Loving more that Mark's parents gifted us their airpoints which made it an even better deal for us four to go...thanks lovely parents! Loving finding a great, really reasonable apartment in the city for us four MNM's to enjoy sightseeing in Melbourne together. Loving that it has 2 bedrooms (we're really sooky and are not great at sleeping in the same room as the kids) and an indoor heated pool and carparking, and is on the free city circle tram line.

Loving that my nifty little Internet searches this week also found us all a big house to all stay together in when the others arrive that includes the use of a 8-seater people mover car. Loving that it's all booked and sorted and now we can just relax and look forward to the trip.

Oh and I'd had my eye on this little dress in the window of Stax for a few weeks, even before the official proposal. I tend not to go out at lunchtime since I'm always trying to work my hours to leave for school pick-up but I just happened to pop out at lunchtime on Friday for a quick five minutes, and just happened to walk past Stax to notice they were having a 50% closing down sale for that week only. And wouldn't you know the dress on the mannequin in the window made it's way into the changing room, jumped onto me, and that was it. Done deal...a dress for the wedding sorted a day after the proposal...you gotta move quick to keep up with this gal!

Little conversations
Favourite phrases heard out of the mouth of our two year old:

"I'm forry" (sorry) which he seems to be saying a lot at the moment!


"I luff oo mummy" which always makes my heart melt despite how narked I might have been feeling about why he had to say "forry" in the first place!

Little steps
I wouldn't say we LOVE the trampoline yet, but we quite like it. Which is a big improvement on last week. But then this kid is mad on balls so anything that involves balls is generally gonna be a winner.

And loving that old trampoline boxes can be put to use a second time as boats and aeroplanes.

Real RWC fever
Mark had been planning to drive up to New Plymouth for the Wales/Namibia game on Monday. Despite having a bit of a cold last week, he'd been feeling OK on the weekend whilst I was holed up in bed at points feeling flu-ey. So it was a bit of a surprise to get a text from him early Monday morning (I was already at work) saying there was no way he could drive up and needed to go to the doctors. Turns out he had both a chest infection and ear infection so put himself to bed for the day. He was feeling marginally better Tuesday and worked a part day.

On Tuesday night, Noah started looking a bit peaky, complaining of a headache, and then a little visitor came to see me at 2am saying his tummy hurt. After a few dry retches in the toilet, he collapsed on the floor saying his legs hurt and begged to come into bed with me, and as Mark was sleeping downstairs, I caved in. I felt him shiver and shake his way through the next few hours with a hot hot fever. Mark woke up again feeling rubbish so both he and Noah were at home together. Sounds like they made short work of The Incredibles, Megamind, Planet 51 and Star Wars during the day.

Hopefully we'll start to be on the up again soon, and as it turns out despite Mark's disappointment at missing the Wales game, we now have a date we don't want to miss with the All Blacks on Sunday after some lovely friends sold us their tickets for a song as they've been upgraded to a corporate box seat at the game. Here's to full health and wholeness for the family so we can make it along to the game.

I love that my bloke is so patriotic to his own team that he will proclaim it from our rooftop, but I also love that lately he has conceded that he 'doesn't mind' the All Blacks - he had a bit of a love/hate thing going on for a while there since a lot of Kiwi rugby supporters were pretty nasty to him especially after England won in 2003.

Anyhow, that's about all the loving I have in me this week. Hope all is well with you and yours and happy weekend ya'll!

Linking up over at Paisley Jade's place


28 September 2011

How To: Before & After Pics using Animated GIFs

Early this year when I finally took Simone's advice and started using Photoscape, I was immediately impressed with the range of edit features, photo effects, and collage options. And I'll happily admit that 95% of my photos are edited in Photoscape these days.

Much as I like Photoshop I find it more time consuming to use and more technical to learn and usually a quick fix is just as easily found in Photoscape.

A couple of weeks back I discovered a new feature in Photoscape - the animated gif. Yes, I know I'm probably a bit slow off the mark, but bear with me. Despite sounding like some kind of monkey, the animated gif is a great way to show a before and after of an edited photo to contrast the change.

So how to do it?

Firstly, you need to use Photoscape's Animated Gif tab.

1. Drag the photos you want to use for the before and after effect into the main area.

2. Edit the time lapse between the shots or the transition you want between the shots.
3. Save.
4. Upload your picture on a free external site like Photobucket.

5. Click on the HTML code (which will automatically copy the code) and go back to your post, change the Blogger setting to HTML rather than Compose and paste the link into your post.




It really is as easy as that!

I love being able to take an ordinary picture with a little bit of promise and turn it into something kinda special!

27 September 2011

The Fruit of the Week - Self Control

I'm not talking apples and bananas and what's cheapest in the supermarket here.

I'm talking about the fruit of the heart - you know Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness,  Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.

Me and my life group lovelies are taking one fruit at a time to really do some soul searching about the meaning so for me I want to think on what it means to me, how it could impact my life if I let it, and what might be holding me back from embracing it. So without further ado:

Week One: Self-Control

I have to admit I really struggle to think of self-control in a positive light. To me it just brings to mind negative thoughts like 'I know I shouldn't be doing this - where is my self-control?' 

And doesn't even the word itself sounds like it is something we should be able to easily do it in our own strength and willpower? I mean isn't that the whole point, it's just about you being in control of yourself?

 But it's here where I first fall down. Thinking that self-control is something I CAN do on my own, instead of asking and receiving and accepting it as a gift from the One who CAN give it.

If we're honest, we all know deep down the areas which we struggle the most to have self-control over. For me, there are a few things right now that spring to mind. One is this 'need' for something sweet that leads me to give into chocolate or other treats most nights after dinner. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. Do I say no? Hardly ever.

You might look at me and say, but you can afford to eat chocolate, what are you even worried about? It's not so much about whether I can afford to or not, it's about being able to say no and mean it, and to actually follow through. And to know when to stop.

And then there's the late nights. I know I should be getting more sleep than I am, particularly when I'm out the door so early these days. But that little computer screen sucks me in, and despite me looking at the clock and seeing the minutes ticking by past my own imposed curfew, I seem to easily find more reasons to stay up than I do for getting a good night's sleep.

And how about that moment when I'm just about to blow my stack with the kids when they won't play nicely with each other? And in that instant I could choose to breathe deeply and count to 10 or I could just go ahead and lose it at the top of my voice? My kids seem to be on the receiving end of more shouting than they are of quietly calm, controlled discipline.

That passage in Romans 7:14-22 is such a picture of the inward battle that goes on in my own heart and head day after day.

14-16 What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

 17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions.

 21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

 24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

I'd never really thought before about why self-control is last on the list of all the Fruits of the Spirit, but I think perhaps I've seen it as less important than the others simply because it's mentioned last. But in fact, I've come to realise that it easily could have been first because here's the revelation: Self-control is actually the glue that holds all the other fruit together. How can we practice and live out other fruit like kindness and gentleness in our lives without consciously 'choosing' them over the alternatives like cruelty
 and pride? Like other fruit of the Spirit, self-control is a gift of grace. It has been called 'disciplined grace',  grace because it is a gift we are free to choose, but disciplined because there is also something for us to do in the equation.

I know until now I've probably thought of self-control in a negative way, and if I'm honest I still find it hard not to. But it is such an important part of accepting grace itself. When we fail to control ourselves—our feelings, our appetites, our drives—then they control us . So, we must choose self-control under the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Or inevitably, the alternative is that we accept being controlled by someone or something else.

We are the ones who decide. Daily, hourly and sometimes even by the minute when we have to.

Every skill has to be practiced . Self-control does not come in a day . It comes in hits and misses, in successes and failures, as we try to practice it day after day. But it's still the trying that counts. Despite missing the mark, and finding ourselves doing the very thing we wish we wouldn't, we choose to hold on like Paul does in Philippians 3.

12-14I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

And this, dear friends, this is what we hope for.

26 September 2011

Giveaway: A Jo Frances Photography Experience

A few months ago we received a voucher for a free photography session with Jo Frances Photography, a well-known Wellington photography studio which came highly recommended from other friends, and as I'd been thinking about a family portrait for a long time it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

So, one Saturday morning in late August, we headed down to the Thorndon studio for our session. Our photographer, Kelly, a lovely girl with a gentle Irish accent, immediately put us all at ease. I couldn't believe how well the kids responded to her, and the way in which she managed to engage them (particularly Noah) in some fun antics with her 'tickle stick' (a feather duster) and with a few choice selection of cute but deliciously naughty toilet words designed to get some real giggles out of the kids. Mylo was completely oblivious to this but all the banter and laughter going on around him put him in great spirits too.

We'd taken down a couple of different changes of clothes, the boys starting out in their matching Icebreaker tops and cords for some cute as pie sibling shots before changing into jeans and bare skin for the rest of the shots. If you'd asked me before the shoot about the bare-top look, I'm not sure I would have gone for it, but I think you'll agree the results are stunning, and I'm so glad we just went with the flow. And the whole photo shoot took less than an hour, which is pretty important when you have a scampy 2-year old who is not that interested in sitting still for long periods - although the photos don't give that away at all!

The only problem (which is still the best kind of problem to have) was when it came time to view the pictures, it really was impossible to choose just one that stood out and instead we came away with a wonderful package of 9 shots as well as all the shots in low resolution on a CD to keep. I (somehow!) justified it to myself that this was an absolute treat and a once in a blue moon experience for our family.

When I look at the amazing selection of shots that we were able to choose from and the lovely feeling we had from the experience, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jo Frances Photography to others.

And as luck would have it, two lovely readers can have the opportunity to experience this for themselves since I have two free vouchers (for a similar photography session plus 1 free print with any other purchase) to give away.

The details are:
1 x photography session (approx 1-1.5 hours) and 1 free 6x8 print with purchase
Winners must be able to attend the Wellington or Auckland studio for their photography session and post-viewing or gift the voucher to someone who can.
Voucher expires December 2011

The giveaway will be open for one week, so leave me a comment on this post to be in to win (either via Facebook or on the blog).

I'll draw the 2 winners on Monday 3rd October at 7pm.

And now to enjoy the results! Here are the shots that made up our package:

24 September 2011

The Weekend in Pictures

Not what you'd expect to see on the Wellington waterfront 

 Resene paint swatches bringing life to a plain old shipping container

Our New Zealand flag almost on fire in the sun's flare

Simply everyone everywhere is backing Black 

Another sight to make you believe you are instead half a world away

 Not perfectly formed but still proud of its beauty

Caught in the act

23 September 2011

Things I'm Loving 23.9.11

Porcupines, snakes and spiders
I love our little zoo, it really is the best 'little zoo' in the world. Love that even after just two month's since our last visit, we noticed new exhibits, new animals and new experiences. Sarah of Catching the Magic wrote a lovely post this week about her recent experience that mirrored our little excursion last Friday afternoon.

Love the crazy-looking porcupines, it was our first time seeing them out of their usual sleepy cave hang-out. Can't quite decide what they look like? A mini pig, a wombat, whatever they are, they sure are odd looking!

Love the new snake slide and the climbing spider.

Fraternizing with the enemy 
So Mark's version of my When (it all went wrong) post on Monday has a happy ending. He made to the Australian High Commission just in time to hang out with the who's who of Wellington and meet a few of the players. Here he is with Quayde Cooper (earlier in the day he also met Robbie Deans, Berrick Barnes and Nathan Sharpe over coffee with the same contact).

And he still managed to get to indoor footy on time and not let his team down either...what a guy!

Streaky window people
Love the blank canvas that early morning condensation provides, and that the sun is coming up just at the right time in the mornings at the moment to catch them in all their glory. Need to make the most of it before the clocks go forward and the mornings are darker again for a while.

CJ Munro
So we have a really talented friend in our life group who has put out a couple of singles this year which have been playing on Life FM radio. I was going to write that he is about to become a daddy for the first time in about three weeks with his lovely wife Marie but as we speak they are in the delivery suite as bubs has decided to make an early appearance. Check out Cam's tunes. Solid!

Get the free download for I Need A Reason  here.

And hear the new single here via the CJ Munro Facebook page.

There's one boy in the house who is in absolute LOVE with the trampoline - he's been out there every day for at least half an hour bouncing around. On Wednesday he had one of the next door neighbours over and they spent an hour and a half on it only stopping to chow down food to get enough energy to go back out on it again. So great to see him loving it.

The other little boy? Not so much. Won't go near the thing....sigh! I can see we will have to go gently, gently with him until he gets the idea that it is actually quite fun. I remember the same thing happening with the wooden rocking horse we got at the Kelburn fair earlier in the year, it took him about four months but once he finally decided it looked like fun...he was away laughing. It kinda cracks me up though that Mylo is scared of it cos he is so rough and tumble and not afraid of being hit by balls or any flying object for that matter and is a pretty tough nut if he hurts himself. So funny how they get these little scaredy-cat thoughts in their heads about the darnedest things...!

Engagement in da house
Saving the absolute best for last, cos last week on Kim's birthday (she and my brother Nic are born exactly 10 days apart), my brother flew down to Melbourne for the day both to surprise Kim with his presence, and then later on the day he surprised her with a very special proposal.

Yahoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! We are so happy for you both.

So we'll be off to Melbourne for the big day on 24th March next year. Can't.wait. And I'm so excited to be welcoming such a gorgeous sister to our family!

Happy Weekend y'all! Phew I made it.

Linking up with Thing's I'm Loving over at Paisley Jade's place

22 September 2011

The 'Epic Fail' Record week

So this week pretty much takes the cake for epic fails all round, I can't believe the number we've racked up in the space of the past few days, so here goes:

1. Mark started the week well on Monday by getting the day completely wrong for his date with the Wallabies which led straight into....

2. Mashed up cupcakes and a wee on the carpet.

3. Then there was me trying to decide how to kill some time while waiting for the warrant of fitness in a pretty boring part of town, so we walked a bit and I had this lightbulb moment to go and buy the boys 60c kiddy cones at McDonalds so they could then go and play on the playground for a bit. And here I am thinking I'm an ace mum for treating them (we never go to McDonalds) and Mylo refuses to eat a bite of it or play on the playground. Have you ever known a child to refuse icecream? Hello, weirdo. So I'm then forced to eat the whole thing, lock stock.

4. On the subject of icecream, we completely forgot it was icecream fundraiser day at school on Thursday. Noah was pretty much the only kid in his class whose parents didn't give him money for an icecream. When I went to pick him up and heard all the other parents asking their kids 'how was icecream day?', how bad did I wanna feel? So to make up for it, I took Noah to the shop on the way home so he could have a Choc Bar icecream. I took it up to the counter with some sour cream that we also needed for dinner, went to pay and lordy, where's my wallet?! The answer to that was at work on my desk. GAAAAAAH! Thankfully I had a spare eftpos card and some coins at home so we were able to stop back in to the shop on our way to town to pick up Mylo for the very long awaited icecream. I must point out that not once did Noah get upset or blame his silly parents for forgetting which way their heads were screwed on.

5. On Thursday morning I got to work (on one of my early 6.15am starts) and the new swipe card I'd been issued with the day before wasn't working! GAAAAAAH! I figured I might have to wait up to an hour for someone else to arrive and so was busy getting changed in the toilet when I heard the lift 'ding' and thankfully another early starter had arrived so I was able to get in without too long a wait after all. PHEW!

6. Mark nearly ran a girl over tonight who walked out in front of his car, completely her fault for walking out onto the road without even looking and luckily Mark managed to stop well enough for her to just glance the bonnet...close call!

7. I was in a hurry to get to Pilates on Wednesday and was busy trying to adjust the seat forward whilst driving out of the driveway at the same time. Not my finest idea, as the car picked up speed down the driveway, the momentum of the seat being adjusted forward threw me at speed into the steering wheel and now I have a nice black bruise on my arm to show for it.

8. I completely forgot my wallet on Wednesday (it was at home not at work this time!) and had to beg and borrow money off a colleague for my usual early morning coffee and then had to get another friend to shout me a soft drink when we met for a quick 20-minute catch-up. Bludger alert!

9. Ah yes, and how could I forget the email I got from Mark this morning. I'd already been up to an upset Mylo at 4.45am and then I didn't make it back to sleep before 5.30am when the alarm went off, but here's how the rest of Mark's morning panned out after I left, recounted verbatim from his email for your entertainment:

So, Mylo was SHOUTING at 6.15am... which in turn woke Noah up....which in 
turn got me up.... which in turn made me get Mylo up.... phew. 

I have cooked a Beef Stroganoff, so can you please get some Sour Cream 
on the way home and turn slow cooker off when you get home. If you 
can't get sour cream, I can get some... just let me know. 

And then... at 7.50am I looked at our disgusting floor and thought... yep 
I'm going to run the hoover over it. Well...... Mylo was playing with 
Noah's 'Darf Dayder'(otherwise known as Darth Vader in non-2 year old speak), 

and I accidently sucked up the small red light saber... 
(queue tears from Noah).... quick stop, took everything apart, cut bag open 
to try and find light saber, but to no avail. But the light saber had instead 
been brushed aside... not sucked up??? AAAARRRGGGHHHHHHH Now 8am, hardly 
any hoovering done, dust and crap everywhere.... so very quick hoover and 
boys to get their shoes on... poooooh, stinky..... Mylo had done number 
Anyway... we got out of the house nearly 

on time, but what a crazy morning.... 

10. I feel like there were more things that happened this week, but I think my brain might be actively trying to forget them if there were!

Thank goodness we're on the downward slope to the weekend! I'm hoping it might give the grey matter some much needed down time to recover from all its recent bloopers!


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