Monday, February 16, 2009

Stephen John

On February 11 1998, Stephen John made his entrance into the world. This would have to be one of my favourite new born photos of Stephen - taken at 3 am when he was three days old.

Hannah (6) and Michelle (2) were very excited to be big sisters.

I had been blessed with two very contented little girls but the first six months of this little boy's life were spent with him (and me) crying a lot of the time! Thankfully he seemed to turn a corner at about this time and here he is with an adorable smile at the age of seven months.

This next photo is of Whippy sharing Stephen's left over cake crumbs. Stephen is about one year old.

This is another favourite photo - Stephen is 18 months old.

I am still sorting out photos, although I think that I have finally scanned them all. I will continue to post some photos of the kids at different ages and stages purely because I am enjoying this trip down memory lane!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Michelle Ann

Well,nobody has left me a comment asking for more photos but I don't care because it is my blog and I will take a trip down memory lane if I want to! This time the photos are of my second born, Michelle Ann. She was born on November the 1st 1995 and remained nameless for about 12 hours. We had a name picked out until about 2 weeks before she was born and I went off it. It wasn't until the following morning when Warren brought Hannah in to see her little sister for the first time that we settled on her name. It didn't seem to bother her though as she made her presence felt right from the word go! She is now 13 years old and a delight to us in every way!
Here she is being greeted by Hannah for the first time.

I love this one of Michelle at seven months - what a smile!

This was not staged, by the way. I had left the pantry door open and 10 month old Michelle not only helped herself but also shared with the dog!

1 year old

When Michelle was about 10 months old she started sucking her thumb but she had to twiddle her belly button at the same time. I had all these gorgeous all in one suits that I couldn't put on her. She would really loose the plot if she could not reach her belly button when she wanted to suck her thumb! I just love this photo of her "twiddling" and sucking. She is about 20months old.

That's all for now - I am off to sort out some of my favourite photos of Stephen. Stayed tuned for the next exciting installment!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A trip down memory lane

I have been attempting to sort my digital photos into some semblance of order before they overtake the computer! As if I didn't already have enough digital ones, I have also been scanning a multitude of the children's pre-digital photos. It has been quite a job but I have thoroughly enjoyed my sentimental trip down memory lane. Even the children have oohed and aah ed over how cute they all were. I thought it might be fun to share some of the photos here.

I will start with our wedding. Warren and I were married 18 years ago on the 29th of September, 1990 (the day before his birthday to help him remember!) So the first photo is of us at our reception.

The second photo is of our cute little flowergirl who was nearly two when the photo was taken. Would you believe that she is getting married herself next week? Makes me feel really old!

In October the following year (1991)our first daughter was born. She was (and is) a beautiful child (young lady now!) who brings us much joy. It is going to be very hard to pick out just a few photos of her!

New born Hannah!

Look at those fingers and yes, she does play the piano!

Four months old on daddy's knee

Six months old - my sad face!

Twelve months old - what a cutie!

18 months old in the park

What a cutie - I told you it would be hard to pick just a few! I think it is going to take me quite a few posts to get through them (considering that she is now seventeen). And then there is Michelle and Stephen! Are you up for it? Leave me a comment if you would like to see some more and then go ahead and share some of your favourite baby photos.

January Catchup

I can't believe that I have somehow missed blogging the month of January. I will try and do a recap of the month. First off we travelled to Melbourne for my niece's wedding. It was beautiful, as weddings usually are! Here are the happy bride and groom!

Hannah also scored herself a job delivering catalogues. Her normal round is 500 houses in a nearby suburb, once a week. The catalogues are delivered Sunday morning, folded in the afternoon and delivered Tuesday. As well as her 'normal' round, she also delivered for several others while they took a holiday. One week she delivered to 1500 houses on the Tuesday and then 1000 on the Saturday. All three children help fold the pamphlets, then Hannah and Michelle deliver on bicycle. On the big rounds, everyone has been involved in folding and delivering. All the children appreciate the extra "pocket money" and we believe that they will gain a lot from doing the round - perseverance being the main one in this hot weather.

As it has been the summer holidays here, the children have enjoyed time with their cousins and friends. This involved trips to the beach and swimming pool and simply spending time with each other. All good things come to an end however and it is now back to school for the younger two and off to TAFE (further education) for Hannh, although she doesn't start for a couple of weeks.

I enjoyed the holidays but as is usually the case, it is good to get back into a routine and settle in to "life" as we know it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Christmas Down

While I want our family to enjoy the Christmas season, I want to see how much fun we can have not doing things for ourselves, "but by seeing how much greater the joy is when we focus on trying to celebrate Jesus and everything He means."
This is a quote from my blog posted on the 19th of November, when I was looking forward to Christmas. I thought it would be good to reflect back on how we went with that particular goal. The children went busking twice and raised around $220 all up, which they donated to charity. I was really proud of their willingness to do this. They also made gingerbread houses - the younger two ate theirs but Hannah made hers for our neighbours. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to taking it over so it went to grandma's instead, to be enjoyed by the extended family. They performed at a nursing home on two seperate occasions and Hannah also went carol singing to some elderly folk from our church on Christmas Eve. The other special thing they did was to make little felt christmas stockings for the majority of the kids in our church. They were all hand sewn with blanket stitch and filled with candy canes, a little christmas cracker and other lollies. Each had the recipiants initial stuck on the front and a little card also saying who it was to and that it was from Stephen, Michelle and Hannah. Here is a picture of the finished stockings.

Overall I am pleased with how Christ filled this Christmas was - there is always room for improvement but it was certainly a start. We never got past day five in the Jesse tree . Neither did we finish the Christmas book called Jotham's Story which was supposed to be read a chapter a day. I had to make a concious effort to not be upset or frustrated at the things that I did not accomplish - instead I reminded myself of what I said at the end of that "Taking Christmas Back" post "It is as much about the process as it is about the finished product."
I think I will always struggle with what I want to happen (the dream in my head) and the actual reality of what does happen. When all is said and done though, I do believe that we had a very blessed Christmas, one where God enabled us to keep our spirits gentle, our house peaceful and our hearts filled with His love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pay it Forward!

I stumbled across this blog this afternoon. I am not really into tags as such but I thought this was pretty special. Here is what you have to do...

Pay It Forward Exchange is based on the concept of the movie “Pay It Forward”.

I will send a hand made gift to the first three people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join the PIF exchange.

All the gifts will be made and posted out ’sometime within the next year’. How exciting to not know when your surprise package will arrive!

What you need to do in return, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. This Exchange is only open to those with active websites or blogs.

Would you like to join in the fun? Other comments are welcome, but only the first three will be my Pay It Forward recipients. So, leave your comment now!

And, if you don't have your own blog, this is the perfect opportunity to start one!

Make sure that you leave your blog and/or email address so that I have a way of contacting you!

Go on, make a difference in some one's life today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Newsletter 2008

I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my Christmas 2008 family newsletter to publish here. If anyone knows how (I wrote it using Publisher) could they let me know how it is done! Instead I will just re-type it - it won't look quite as fancy but you will get the gist of what we have been up to! Here goes!

Melville-Smith Family News

One of the problems with the children doing their own newsletter every few months is that they have all the fun designing them - I'm not sure that they would call it fun writing the articles! The other problem (if you can call it that) is that the articles are written from their perspective and quite naturally about themselves. So while you have caught up with a lot of what we have been doing this year, there is a lot more to our lives than just what the children write about. I will endeavour to update you a little on what life in the Melville-Smith household looks like from the parent's perspective!

The highlight for us as a family this year has been our involvement at Tea Tree Gully Anglican Church. The time that we have spent away from the structured church environment over the last couple of years has allowed us to focus on Christ and His Word, rather than on how we fit into the organisation called the church. It has been a time of significant growth and has been a real blessing. We felt however that it was time to integrate ourselves back into a body of local believers and we have not been disappointed. We all love attending church on Sunday morning, the younger two are involved in Kid's Club once a fortnight where Hannah is also a junior leader and the girls go to Youth Group on alternate Friday nights. It is a family church where we have all made some solid friendships, a place where we not only feel encouraged but are able to have input into other people's lives also.

In October we celebrated our third anniversary of homeschooling. While I had seen many benefits from the start, this year I have begun to feel much more relaxed and happy about what we are doing. Homeschooling allows us to educate the children based on our lifestyle. We desire to disciple the children and train them in godly character using the everyday learning opportunities that surround us. Our lifestyle provides the experiences that will give them a rich education. Book learning does take place but you might be surprised at how little! And I might add that the children are not the only ones being trained in godly character. I think homeschooling is as much about educating the parents as it is about educating the children!

Another encouragement to us has been our increasing involvement with other homeschooling families. Our pastor and his wife home school their five children. We have established a good relationship with their whole family (and others) which has provided significant interaction between adults and children. It has been great seeing the children's growing respect for adults outside the home - some of whom have become real mentors (not all of these adults home school their children). We are very aware that we cannot provide everything that the children need to become well rounded adults so appreciate all the support and learning opportunities that others have offered. As an added bonus, I have enjoyed some great conversations and much encouragement over many cups of coffee.

Music has always been a focus but this year it has become somewhat of a passion. All three continues with their piano (and flute for Michelle) lessons but now Stephen and Hannah have added clarinet and trombone respectively into the mix. They have all joined a concert band program this last half of the year which has involved weekly band practices and quite a few performances. What we have loved seeing is the way that music has encouraged them to interact with each other and how willing they are to use their music, even though they are not necessarily all that proficient yet. We are treated to mini concerts almost every day as they practice. There are many opportunities within the church to play an instrument and this has led to further interaction with adults and children alike.

Hannah gained her provisional driving licence back in October. She wasn't the only one to gain some freedom - her parents have too! Fortunately Hannah enjoys being out and about so hasn't yet balked at the task of taking her siblings to many of the places that I once had to. I will have to get her a sign for the car saing "Hannah's Taxi"!

It has been an interesting year for me health wise! I don't know that I would call it the five star holiday resort that Stephen did, but if you had to be in hospital, the Wakefield wasn't a bad place to be. It can't have been too bad since I had three visits there in the space of three months! I have on-gong auto immune issues which seem to be slowing settling down. This time of enforced rest has not always been easy but I have seen God at work even in this situation. When things are going well it is all too easy to be thankful to God but not necessarily rely on Him. When we are forced out of our comfort zone, we are often forced into the arms of our loving God yet find Him to be all that we ever needed anyway!

About mid year due to poor health I resigned my job at the Children's Hospital. After doing my initial training there, it is also the hospital that I have worked in for most of my nursing career. I have found that not working, even though it was only part-time, has been a blessing in itself as I have been able to take on a stronger role in 'educating' the children. This in turn has played a part in the new found peace that I mentioned earlier. I have given myself permission to enjoy Christmas with my family and so will begin looking for work early in the New Year. It will definitely only be part-time and may be down a completely different path to what I have previously done. I am actually quite excited about where God might be leading me!

Warren continues part-time/casual work putting up plasterboard ceiling and walls. The real bonus for him is that not only does he work with his good friend Ken, they also travel to and from jobs together, enabling them to listen to and discuss sermons! He will be enjoying several weeks holiday over the Christmas break.

We wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas, one where God enables you to keep your spirit gentle, your house peaceful and your heart filled with His love.
Looking forward to hearing from your family,

love Sheena and Warren

Go to / if you want to read more about our family from my point of view.