Sparkles

As many of you know, my family and I have been fostering  rescue cats through  North Queensland Animal Rescue  for a little while now.

All up, we have fostered a total of 10 cats now, and it has been a truly rewarding experience for our entire family.

It is also very ironic that before fostering cats, I had never ever owned one, to be honest, I actually thought cats hated me!

February this year one of our foster cats was delivered to us.

She had been found wandering the streets, and once more research had been done, we realized that she had been missing for 6 weeks, being fed by lovely people in a nearby old peoples home.

She shot out of her cat carrier the moment she arrived,  running to hide in the darkness under Kiara’s bed. Whenever anyone came near, she would howl in fear and visibly shake. There was even a very cranky hiss to be heard at times.

Though I wasn’t ever scared of her, I could tell the poor thing was just so frightened.

It was our daughters turn to name a cat, so she choose “Sparkles”

Hiding in our bathtub

Hiding in our bathtub

It took forever to gain her trust, and still for weeks she would hide away.

That serious look never left her face.

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Then slowly she got a bit more used to us, allowing an occasional pat, but any sharp movements would have her sprinting off scared.

I did all I could to show her I could be trusted, and to help her feel safe.

I made sure she had easily accessible hiding spots, and I would talk to her in a soft soothing voice.

Slowly, we got there, though some days I felt it was one step forward, two steps back.

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She started to come out of hiding more often, however, whenever someone other than family came over, she could not be found again.

I also was afraid to admit, but I was falling in love, and hard.

A few people showed interest in Sparkles, but the moment they would come, she would run off again, sometimes just crying loudly from her spot, and being visibly shaken for hours to come.

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In July, Jamie made the executive decision and suggested we adopt Sparkles, neither of us could see her easily transferring to yet another new home when it had taken 5 months of hard work for us to gain her trust.

For a while I really thought her name did not suit her, many people would say

“Sparkles is not really very “Sparkly” is she?”

Now I realize it suits her to a tee.

We were fortunate enough to watch an amazing transformation.

We were lucky enough to watch a scared little kitty turn into a lovely,trusting cat.

I think we got to witness the wonderful.

We got to witness Sparkles Shine.

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Then it was real!

We owned our first cat!

My Sparkles and I

My Sparkles and I

Jamie chuckles to himself quite often when Spakles runs after me in the house, or when she jumps on my lap as we watch tv, she has also taken to sleeping at my feet every night.

“To think you used to think cats hate you” he says

“That one is in love with you”

I proudly reply back

“And I am in love with her”

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

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In My Garden

Our house is a home, we live in it, so therefore it sometimes also looks like a cyclone (aka children) has torn through it.

Some days the view from the outside is not much better, we seem to have come to a halt with renovations, and need to finish off some painting, tidy up the tools lying everywhere, and deal with the never-ending weeds, as well as the destruction  that two very energetic dogs make.

This all gets me a bit down at times, but then I chose to focus on all the great things that can be found in our garden, and decided to share them with you  (cause nobody wants to see pictures of the not so great things there!)

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Storm and Zen, our two beautiful, and crazy dogs.

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One of the Willy Wag Tail birds that frequent our garden.

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Our frangipani tree, silhouetted by the sunset

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One lone flower, that survived the destruction rampage of our dogs.

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There is all kinds of life cycle’s and events happening in our yard, I just need to remember to open my eyes and look up and around.

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Dew drops on a leaf

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Tree Orchid, only flowers once a year.

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Cute Lady Bugs

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Wet Season

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Raindrops on frangipani in our front garden

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View from our front porch of neighbors stunning palm tree

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The garden is the perfect place to enjoy a cuppa and slice of cake!

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Our shed was once used by a sunbird to build one glorious nest

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The current sunbird hanging around our place, I caught him in the car port today checking himself out in the side mirror on the car and having a chat to himself! Thanks for giving me a much-needed smile birdy!

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View from the backyard at a sunset over the mountains

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Technically the Singapore Daisy is a weed, but I still think it is rather pretty!

Little Moments

I have been having a bit of a Facebook detox of late.

Just getting back to basics, taking a step back and simplifying things a bit more.

I do it at least once a year, when my mind starts feeling a bit mentally drained.

As we all know, the little moments continue to tick by, to appear at any given time, on any given day, so here I share with you some of my recent little moments.

All of these photographs have been taken in the last few weeks.

Enjoy!

Kiara collecting shells on a visit to the beach.  I love seeing how the beach calms my kids as much as it calms and soothes my soul. The beach is really my happy place.

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Noah found the meditation app I had downloaded to my phone.

He went on it and proceeded to follow all the instructions, it was beautiful to watch!

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Took the kids to the local zoo, the Bearded Dragon kept putting it’s paw against the glass as if to say “Hi!”

Noah was concerned with the fact this lizard had “Dragon” in it’s name and was waiting for it to breathe fire at us!

We got to see some other lovely animals, including Koalas, Cassowaries and Kookaburras, all wonderful Australian animals.

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The zoo also has the biggest snake I have ever seen!

It is a python that can grow up to 200kg in weight! arrghhhhhh!

Made me feel a bit uneasy after I found a snake skin in our backyard the other day……….. thankfully the skin was no where near as big as the one on this baby though!

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Pinterest inspired me to try out this funky hair style on Kiara and myself.

I recreated it for her for school today, along with some funky hair clips.

Kiara came home happy to announce that her friends think her Mummy is pretty clever, that made my day, seeing I usually lack any hair styling skills.

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Storm smiling at me through the dirty door.

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Whilst chilling out on the hammock, our dog Zen decided to join me for a cuddle!

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My dreams for a lovely backyard garden seem to be constantly hindered by two digging loving dogs, so I was pretty impressed to find this Desert Rose flowering in our backyard, saved by the dogs, beauty in among a huge mass of destruction.

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I got to ride in the back of the car with my kids recently.

It gave me a whole new perspective of travelling, seems like forever since I have been in the back of the car.

Kiara and Noah held my hands along the way, it was lovely.

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As I prepare to publish this post, this is the sight at my feet.

A short time ago a loud, unknown explosion went off in our neighborhood.

When I went out in the backyard to investigate, our two dogs raced inside, scared and shaking.

They have found a spot at my feet, and as I rubbed their tummies to make them know all is ok, they slowly calmed down.

It is not just them that are comfy right now!

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I hope things are well in your world right now,

and no mater what is going on,

may you find a moment in your day to take some time out

to think of the little moments in your life.

( Can I count on someone to remind me of this too?!)

The Return of Joy

Photography has been a passion of mine for many years. I simply love taking photos.

In the depths of my depression, when I lost joy for many things, photography was one of them.

It felt like months passed in between me picking up my camera, I just did not have any urge to take a photo.

I am happy to say that the joy has returned, and while I am not taking loads of photos, I do enjoy playing around with the ones that I do take, the reminders of little moments in my life, the memories they bring with them, and the feelings that I capture as I take them.

Here are some recent photos of mine I would like to share with you, and the fact that they signal

“The Return of Joy”

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Found this gorgeous tree at Emerald Creek.

We journeyed here on a recent family road trip, beautiful crystal clear water, cicadas chirping near by  and the calming sound of water running over rocks.

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Feel very blessed to live in this part of the world.

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Up close with a Crocodile at a local Crocodile park on our first visit as a family.

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This owl at the same park reminded me of my good friend who loves owls.

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Basil, our latest foster cat who narrowly missed being put to sleep at the local pound.

It has taken a while, but he is finally learning to trust people again.

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Miss 6 and Basil have become good friends.

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My favourite flower, always makes me feel happy!

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Raindrops on a frangipani leaf.

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Kids exploring a beautiful old tree at a local park.

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Oh how I love the smell of coffee, AND the taste of coffee!

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Mr 3 all excited to return to Kindy for the year.

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Needs And Wants

A few weeks back I posted the photo below on the right on my Facebook page, the comment read like this:

I would like to apologize to the customers of smithfield shopping centre who just witnessed Miss 6 coming down from her spending high in the most undignified way.
The kids were given christmas money from their great granny.
Miss 6 went crazy spending hers, even though I reminded her a few times that the faster she spent it the faster it would be gone.
Mr 3 spent his a little slower and had enough left to get a kmart brand pillow pet.
Miss 6 chucked a mega tanty when she realised she didnt have enough money for one too.
While I could have paid the $7 myself, kids need to learn about the value of money and delayed gratification.
I hope today helps teach her a few important life lessons.
And the joy of being a Mum is taking these tanty pics for future reference!

I was blown away by the replies, and a staggering 138 likes of the photo, that was a record for my page! It seemed a lot of people agreed that kids need to just learn to wait for things, and work towards them.

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We are a household of  learning the difference between needs and wants, something in which I hope is a life time lesson for my kids, and I am very thankful for a program at Kiara’s school named “Kids Matters”, that backs up our ideals on this subject as well.

Kiara cried for ages after that photo, and when we returned to Kmart for the back to school shopping, she hinted at the pillow pet again, but I told her she had to work towards it.

She attempted to have a toy sale out the front yard, but $20 per used toy was a bit steep, and she asked me to let her go busking at the local shopping centre alone, but I told her she was too young.

In the end, she charged for tickets to her very own concert, and ended up helping me with odd jobs around the house to save up her money.

I was so very proud on Sunday when she set out to help with dishes, laundry, making dinner, cleaning the toilet and tidying up the lounge room with me.

This was more than enough to convince me to give her the remaining $2 needed for her prized item.

We went out and got it the next  day, a smile beaming from ear to ear.

When we got home, she told me she was so proud of herself, happy tears were lining her eyes.

I told her I was very proud of her too.

The things we work towards are always so much better then if they were just handed to us.

I hope this is a lesson my little girl will always remember.

What I am proud of

I saw a quote online the other day, this is it:

Such a simple quote, yet it really touched me, I really agree with it, and I found the rest of the day I constantly came back to thinking of this quote.

It has been a huge year in our house, in my life, but I am happy to say at the end of the day, I am proud of where I am now, of how far I have come.

We all continue to grow each and every day, life’s experiences continue to enrich and challenge us, and assist us to develop into hopefully the best people we can be.

So it made me think,

What am I proud of?

Sometimes that is a hard question, none of us want to come across as conceited, but perhaps we should each take a moment to look inside ourselves and think about what we are proud of about ourselves.

So here is my list:

  • I am honest and reliable:  Unfortunately I have seen first hand what devastation and havoc lies can create on other people’s lives. I am proud to say that I value and respect being honest and reliable to others.
  • I admit to my mistakes– I will NEVER pretend I am perfect, no one is, especially me. It is a very important thing for kids to grow up knowing that their parents are only human.
  • I have an amazing, supportive team of friends and family, and I am so thankful for them– I feel so incredibly blessed by some of the amazing souls that surround me in life, and every day I count my blessings to be able to share my life with these amazing people.
  • I have finally realised that it is time to let go of the things that I have no control over in my life– something that even a year ago was almost impossible for me to do.
  • I’m becoming more assertive– For years I have said that I think my lesson in life is to be more assertive, I have been trampled on by others, had my feelings and views squashed and ripped apart. I have had hundreds of sleepless nights worrying about what others think or say about me. Now simply don’t care, my skin has grown thicker, and I know that those who truly love me know the real me.
  • I have fallen apart and put the pieces back together again:  This year has been a shocking one, I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom, and I know that it is impossible to feel “normal” again overnight, but I did it. Some days it feels like some of the pieces are falling apart again, but I am safe in the knowledge that I know how to heal myself, and that I am finally able to be more gentle on me.

 

Now it is your turn, What are you proud of?

Thankful For Five Kittens

I have never really thought of myself as a “cat person”, have never owned one, and have more often than not been scared of them or annoyed by them.

I have countless cat stories, of various feline’s attacking me, or doing something to make me either afraid of them or not very much of a fan of their species.

This year however I was lucky to meet a beautiful cat that made me see the good side in them, fast forward a few months later , and a local animal rescue organisation was asking for foster carers to help with the influx of animals they had needing to find a forever home.

Many were being saved from the local pound, and unfortunately not all could be saved.

I decided to do my bit to help, and put our hand up to be an animal foster carer.

The day after I filled my forms in, I was rung to say 5 kittens were needing a foster home, and would I be willing to give it to them?

That was when Tia, Asha, Bella, Lara and Spencer were introduced into our lives, and brought much more into them then I ever expected.

As you can imagine, a house filled with kittens was chaotic, the kids wanted so badly to play with them, and I was worried they would hurt them.

Noah especially was loving them way too roughly, and kept picking the poor kitty’s up by around their necks, I was freaking out that he would accidentally kill one, and a lot of time was put in to show him how to correctly hold and play with a cat, something I am thankful to say he has finally caught on. Of course the first few days saw the kids fight over the cats as though they had taken to all out war.

The smell and mess 5 kittens made as you can imagine was huge, and a bit to get used to, however I was very surprised by how quickly cats are toilet trained in comparassion to dogs.

A couple of times in the first few days I wondered exactly what I had put my hand up to do. When I told friends that we were fostering five cats, more often than not I was asked how crazy I was, and what possessed me to put my hand up for such a thing.

No one called to say they were interested in adopting one of the kittens, no queries were made, no forever homes seemed on the horizon.

Among this all, a fairly shocking and stressful family event occurred, bringing lots of pain and angst into our household. On the evening that this all happened, I lay on the lounge chair, and simply cried, big, hot painful tears of sadness, hurt and confusion. I sobbed in the dark, hurt beyond words and belief…………. then suddenly a little ball of fluff joined me in my spot, Tia curled up into my arms and gently wiped my tears away with her soft paw, an unexpected gesture of kindess n my time of need.

In the following days, the cats provided a much-needed distraction for us all, and many laughs with the crazy antics that they had.

As they grew, it seemed a bit too difficult to keep all five of them in our house, so two were handed over to another carer, and then a friend took a liking to Spencer, and he was adopted into his forever home.

As we waved goodbye as our friends left with Spencer in his car, little Kiara started to cry, I told her that she knew from the start that they were not our cats to keep.

“I know Mummy” she replied “These are not tears of saddness, but tears of happiness that Spencer has found a great forever home”

On going back inside, we were unable to find Tia, who had become Spencer’s main playmate.

After half and hour of searching, we finally found her huddled up in a corner shaking, as I held her close to me, feeling her heart beat a hundred miles an hour, my tears begun to fall too, while I was also sad to say goodbye to the cheeky Spencer, I felt sadness for this little kitten, obviously upset at the departure of her dear brother, it was a sign that touched my heart.

We have been fostering for a month now, and have only Tia and Asha left in our care. I do hope they find their perfect forever homes soon, but in the meantime, I am so thankful for all that these feline friends have brought into our lives.

Since we took on these kittens, our bank account is a little lighter, our house a bit smellier, there is chew marks and scratch marks in various places, but I am so thankful for all these little feline friends have brought into our lives. Some of the wonderful things include:

*The laughter and smiles their antics have brought to our faces.

*Free playmates for the kids.

*The fantastic feeling of doing something good for these beautiful kittens.

* Finding out how peaceful it is to sit with a purring cat on your lap, or lay with one snuggled up beside us, resulting in more then one of us relaxing so much and being lulled off to sleep by their soft gentle purrs.

*The joy of listening to 6-year-old Kiara talk about how much she wants to rescue animals in need when she grows up, as well as seeing what amazing stories and drawings have been done at school by her as a result.

*Bringing out care and compassion in my kids.

*Opening my eyes to what beautiful, clever creatures cats really are.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, and fostering has been a big commitment, but it is one I am very glad we took, because the rewards have definately been worth it.

What The Sunbird Taught me

Back in the midst of my Gratitude project, I chose #190 to reflect on being inspired by nature, the words included:

“….It always amazes me how clever birds are, they essentially make their houses using their mouths, imagine doing that? No machinery, plans or engineering.

The nest got caught in a huge gust of wind…. I held my breath, was is strong enough to hold on? It did! All of a sudden the bird popped its head out of the nest, as if to say “hello!”, and my soul skipped a beat of delight. 

Here I was, feeling down in the dumps and full of doom and gloom, while this little bird sits in it’s nest, which is a little miracle in its own right. This tiny little creature is open to the elements, sitting not far away from two hungry dogs, and in a spot that catches every gust of wind and drop of rain.

Despite this all, this little bird has absolute faith in itself that it has chosen the best spot, and created the best little “home” to bring its baby into the world.

The situation is not ideal, but the bird is making the most of what it has, and where it is. 

This little bird inspired me today.”

Fast forward a year, that lovely bird left its nest with its babies not long after I wrote that post, the beautiful nest remained hanging there, in a windy area, hanging on tight, defying nature with an amazing amount of strength to hold on in even the most windy of days.

I found myself in the backyard  today, walking around doing a quick tidy up of rubbish lying around.

Soon I became lost in my thoughts, they became deep.

I thought about how I sometimes think other people do not see me for who I am, but other times the real person who finds it hard to see the person I am is simply me.

After a series of multiple symptoms, I found myself yet again in the Doctors office this week, only to find I have a stomach ulcer, hormone issues and blood tests ordered to have further investigations.

A phone call from the surgeries nurse this afternoon informed me that I also have a calcium deficiency.

The over thinker in me goes right to the point of wondering what I have done wrong. Perhaps I am not taking good enough care of my body?

With all my recent health issues, I realized that I was on the brink of a break down and was forced to step back and simplify life somewhat, as well as make time for me, something that was long overdue.

I wondered in my walk around the backyard if I was failing a bit…… then something caught my eye.

Under the frangipani tree lay the remains of that sunbird nest, having clung on for so long, it had finally succumbed to the strength of nature and broke.

I picked it up, examined it’s beauty and felt sad for a moment at it’s ending, but then I stopped to think about it a bit more.

This piece of art, and architecture that one little bird constructed using only it’s mouth.

The nest was a series of  various materials, feathers, grass clippings, spiders webs, leaves and more all woven together.

The bird would have only needed to make it to be able to last long enough to incubate it’s eggs and hatch it’s babies, yet it was strong enough to last even for another year after the nest was vacated.

I wonder if the bird had faith in it’s ability? I know this nest was at least the second attempt after the first one broke mid building.

Despite all of the signs pointing towards the bird failing at it’s mission, it accomplished what it set out to achieve and more.

Maybe I do not have the right amount of faith in my own personal abilities, maybe others don’t either, but there is only one thing to do……. prove us all wrong.

With a  bit of determination this little sunbird was able to do what seemed impossible,  and when I think of it, we all have a bit of magic inside that can make what seems impossible turn into the possible.

We all have something in us to overcome any obstacle, big or small.

Sometimes we just need to believe.

The little moments of renovating

Essentially you can say we have been renovating for years, not all in one go of course, just getting tasks done and then saving up for the next project.

I  know the “joy” of cooking on a camp stove in our gutted kitchen, or traipsing through torrential rain with a 2 year old whilst heavily pregnant to have a shower in the shed.

I know the frustration of not being able to get the thick layer of dust off of the floor and from underneath your feet. The feeling of dust even being carried into bed, the smell, taste and grotty feeling that comes with it.

Or the feeling that there is a non stop parade of tradesmen and their noise coming through our house.

This lot of renovations has been going on for 7 months.

It really has been a journey of blood, sweat and tears – literally.

I happened to be flicking through photos on my mobile phone today, and came across many documenting the “little moments of renovating”

I thought I would share them with you.

We still have a bit to do, odds and ends here, but the place is looking great, our dreams are coming true, our hard work is paying off.

A conversation in which someone mentions an upcoming renovation is giving me an involuntary shudder, that may still continue for a while, but I am very proud of all we have done, together, as a family.

This photo is from our house, looking out into our original carport, which we had enclosed in and made into a playroom for the kids.

For approximately 2 months, the only way into the back yard was to climb through this window. It was fun for a whole 2 days or so, the novelty soon wore off, and we all were sporting bruises on our knees.

I helped knock that wall down, and hold the ceiling panels up while my husband screwed them in (oh the aches of the arms!). I also helped lay the floor boards we finally put down. I am pretty impressed with myself, especially since I have never considered myself the least bit “handy”

It took approximately 5 months to get it to this stage of being plastered, it looked like a bomb site for a long time, I felt it was never going to get finished, but it is almost there now, at last!

Still a bit to do to the room, but I am so impressed with it, and find its an area to chill out for all of us, not just the kids.

Everyone helped, from painting, to drilling, we all got together as a team and got the little and big jobs done.

Biggest mention goes to my wonderful husband who works very long hours, and has spent pretty much most of his days off working on the renovations, he has been worn out and exhausted, but still pressed on.

The start of closing in what would one day become our bathroom, much longer process then imagined.

tiling commenced, 6 months later…. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Dirt, digging and torrential rain make for a huge mess!

I was sooo excited when Jamie put these cupboards together.

They still need to be moved into their permanent place, but it means that our lack of storage space is looking like a thing of the past!

A photo of the taps filling the bath tub up for the first of many times.

7 months after the renovations commenced the kids could finally have a bath without using numerous buckets to fill it.

I have enjoyed relaxing in there myself, and we joke our kids are the cleanest kids in town, they are pretty impressed with having a bathtub!

I always imagined a post about our renovations would be best filled with photos that look like they are from a home magazine, some beautiful, gleaming result, the thing is that only now, when we are finally nearing the finish line, the photos that are most important to me are the little moments, filled with the milestones and memories, of the joys and tears.

For months I organised catch ups with friends at their house or a park, feeling ashamed of how much mess and destruction lay around our house.

I would joke that they did not want to come visit me in our ” demolition zone”, now I wish that I had every person I know come over countless  times in the last 7 months, maybe then I could really let those who are close to us see how far we have come.

The truth is, while I am so pleased with what we have, I really am most proud of how far we have come.

Never did I ever imagine that in the midst of dust, dirt and destruction, I would really experience some very special moments with my little family, and while I am so glad that the major stages of our renovations are over, I am very grateful that we all pulled together as a team when we needed to the most.

These photos make me really see how far we have come.

The box of memories

We hired a skip bin this week to rid the yard of building rubble and debris created by our never-ending home renovations.

With a little room to spare in it, we decided to have a quick clean out of our shed, also known as “The Black Hole”.

Whilst doing this, I found a blue plastic crate, one I had forgotten I had, filled with treasures and memories.

I took a moment to sit and sort through it, things I don’t ever see me throwing out, things that brought a smile to my face, a tear to my eye, and brought up memories that in some cases I forgot existed.

Here I share some of them with you:

A childhood photo of my big sister and I

A drawing I did of my family in Pre School

My thoughts of what the world be like in the year 2000.

I did this in the year 1988, when 8 years old, got a giggle out of this.

The Bicentennial medallion given to all Australian students in 1988 to mark

200 years since Australia was founded.

Taken approx 13 years old, I was still losing my baby teeth up to the age of 16, as you can imagine, I did not get as many visits by the tooth fairy as others!

I had dreams in my teens of being an actress, whenever I went to the movies I would pretend it was me up there on the big screen.

The closest I got to this dream coming true was getting an audition for “Home and Away” and staring in a few local tv commercials.

A news paper article on my sister Tamina (pictured here with her beautiful dog Kokereka).

The article was titled “Conquering cancer”

Unfortunately a few years after this article was written, Tamina sadly lost her battle to cancer.

A note written to me by Tamina xoxo

A note Tamina’s daughter Jazmine wrote me when she was younger, she is now 15 years old and had a giggle at all her art work when I brought it out.

A  copy of the Eulogy I read at my Grandma Joyce’s funeral.

She was and continues to be one of the most influential people in my life.

There was so much more in that box to look at, photos, letters, poetry memories.

I had forgotten about that blue box.

I am glad I found it, and all the treasures it holds inside.

It was delicately packed up,

Safely put away for another day,

Another trip down memory lane.