Friday, May 27, 2011

Ripple Blankey

Lately I have been super busy knitting these scarves for orders from Stitch Africa. They are quick and easy to do but are crazy repetitive. I'm pretty glad I only have 2 more scarves to finish (unless I get anymore orders! Let me know if you want one :) )



While I'm on a roll I've been attempting a few other (failed) projects. I tried to knit socks on double pointed needles with proper sock yarn. This was a mega fail. I got pretty used to the needles but I'm quite certain the pattern was just a dud. Anyway, I gave up right at the end of the first sock which took almost 2 weeks to complete. Sometimes projects just dont work out and I'm okay with that. I unravelled it and maybe in the future when I find a better pattern and work up the courage again I'll re-try.

I also bought some nice merino wool to make my beloved some of his own handmade gloves, however, today while I was in farmers they had a sale on so I bought him some machine made gloves for only $4. That's a bit sad isn't it? I love handmade, but seriously, $4?

I happened to have the new merino in my handbag so this afternoon I took it back to Spotlight and replaced it with all this (cheap but pretty toned) acrylic yarn! That's one of the great things about acrylic - it's cheap and comes in soooo many colours. However, you can never beat real good quality wool. Just so you know.


What am I going to do with all of that pretty coloured yarn I hear you asking? Well, duh, I'm going to make a Ripple Blanket. I've been practicing my Ripples... See...?


Now i'm sitting in a carpark for the next few hours and I've only got Ripples on the agenda. I found the best and easiest pattern here and its going to be the biggest project I've ever attempted but I'm super excited. As long as I stay excited (hopefully all the different colours will help) I think I could actually finish it! It's crochet cool?? Big ups to Holly for showing me the ropes. I got the colours to suit our MiniMoo, but I'm not sure if she'll ever get to use it. Her Nana has made her a DELICIOUS green blanket, among many others she's been given, so I might just keep this one for myself ;)

While you're checking out the easy peasy pattern and considering doing it yourself you should check out the rest of the things on her blog. Aren't they all lovely and skilled??

Okay, enough rambling - if you don't hear from me for a while it's because I'm making scarves or Ripplin'

Everyday I'm rippilin'

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Baby, Week 26 Update

Current weight: 67kgs (no change since last week)

Total weight gained: 2 kgs (original weight: 65 kgs)

Babys growth this week: Our little one is just under a Kg and is slightly longer than the long side of an A4 piece of paper. I can't believe she is squished up in my little belly like that! She has been able to sense light for a while now and will often wake or become active when light is on my belly. Her eyes aren't fused shut anymore and she can open them and is learning to blink. She is so responsive and her brain is working over time. She will respond to a touch or belly rub, to light, to my voice or Graeme's.

Times I have vomited this week: 3 (One out the window. Pretty proud of that)

Baxton Hicks Contactions this week: 1

Thoughts this week: This week has flown and we are officially in our third trimester! We are on the countdown! Some days I love being pregnant, other days its the worst. My emotions are all over the place and I can go from being ecstatic to tears in moments. Sometimes Graeme gets home from work and I just cry and cry for no particular reason. 

In other news, whenever I lay down I have been getting a very sore right ankle. My first thought was fluid retention but it's not swollen however it feels like it is. It feels like its tight and bruised, but its not. The pain goes away when I stand up and only ever comes on when I am horizontal. Any thoughts on what this might be?





This week Nanny Mutu surprised us with a whole bag of deliciously cute clothes for MiniMoo, her first Granddaughter. Everything was super sweet and I took a few photobooth photos of my favourites - Its true, they all happen to be pink and purple in these photos, but I assure you MiniMoo will be wearing other colours as well! Infact, she loves all colours except baby blue ;) But seriously, aren't these items super cute? I LOVE the boots, and even cried over them afterwards, the matching top and leggings is so sweet and the pink tracksuit top reminds me of j-lo! So many people have been giving us such generous gifts! Thank you!


Graeme and I also bought lots of reusable nappies this week in a great online deal. Hopefully they are great nappies! They seem just as good as other "Baby First" reusables that I have bought. 


Dearest,

Time is flying and you are growing so quickly. Before I know if you will be in our arms and learning too quickly for us to keep up. Somedays I wish time would slow down, others I wish it would speed up. I'm learning patience and the ability to enjoy this moment. 
At night time before bed when you are squirming around I pull my top up so the light hits my belly for you to see and I just watch you move around. Last night you were pushing so hard I thought you were going to break through my skin and then I saw something pointy roll right underneath my belly button - I gasped! It shocked me so much! I dont know if it was an elbow, a bum, a foot or what, but it made me realise how little room you must have in there now. You are growing so so quickly! 

When I consider who you are going to be I keep thinking you will either be one or the other - like your Dad or like me in certain areas. Will you be funny like your Dad or lame like me? Will you be good at brainy things like your Dad or good at creative things like me? Will you have a hard nose like your Dad or a pudgy nose like me? Will you hate reading like your Dad or love reading like me? Then I realised you are your completely own person. You inherit genes from us but to what degree I'm not sure. I'm so excited to meet a whole new version of Laughton-Mutu Hawes that's never been seen before. You are unique.

Love, Mama.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Quakes

I have tried to write this post many times before.
(You can read my published post on the September quake here, and the February quake here.) The only photos I have included in this post are directly related to things I have mentioned and do not include any pictures of quake damage or suffering. To view these you can google them.


I finish it and get stuck, my limited writing abilities do not do my feelings and thoughts on this topic justice. So, for perhaps the last time, this may be my final attempt to convey everything inside my mind into letters and words.


I suppose the reason I want to write about it so desperately is because it has affected us all so much. People heal in different ways. Some bottle it up and ignore it (and I think I have been doing that so far) and others talk and talk and talk about it and dwell on it. Neither of these scenarios are great for healing a person, we need a healthy balance of both. So in an effort to convey what I think inside I am trying to write this blog post. I wish not to drag up the past for the sake of it, and I wish not to encourage you to continue to worry and stress.


Matthew 6:27 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"


The first thing to know is that in Christchurch where I live we have survived the effects of 2 very large earthquakes in the last year. The first was in September 2010 and it was magnitude 7.1. In hindsight, it was huge, however, I had only experience a few very minor earthquakes prior to that so really had nothing to compare it to. The quake happened at 4.35am on a Saturday morning when most of our citys residents were tucked up in their beds, resting for what was to be a beautiful weekend ahead. Lawns would have been mowed (ours still was), cars would have been washed, beach trips takens and shopping done at the mall. Unfortunately this is not the way the weekend played out as we were awaken from our sleeps.


Everyone has different recollections and experiences depending on where they lived, who they were with and the damage that was done. For Graeme and I, we were in bed in a deep sleep and we were both awoken at the same time by a loud rumble. It was so loud we both woke up, had time to sit up and glance at the window and then at each other and begin to say "what the...?" Because the rumble was so loud it honestly sounded like a freight train was about to crash into our bedroom. In fact, in those few moments I honestly thought something was about to hit our house. Whether a plane, a train or a truck. I also had a secondary thought that maybe the rugby stadium next to our house was being bombed.


I talk in moments because in a situation like that I had no perception of time. The earthquake felt like it lasted minutes, but it was only 40 seconds. It's amazing what can go through your head and what you can achieve in 40 seconds to make it feel like minutes. Just like a car crash, everything slows down and you can analyse it all.


Immediately after we questioned the great noise the earth started to move beneath us. We jumped out of our bed and ran to the doorway. I was trying to pull the handle open furiously while Graeme was pushing it shut. I was panicing and shouting "Jesus!", then I realised that Graeme was holding the door closed I yelled (or at least I think the words escaped my mouth, I'm not sure) "Let me out of here!". "Dressing gowns" was his only response, then I realised that we both had no clothes on. Those extra moments will teach us for sleeping in the nuddy. I made my way over to the wardrobe where things were falling out, I managed to get down our gowns and put them on, all while the ground rocked and swayed beneath us.


Once we were in the hallway, the light was on and our flatmates Cha and Josh were already in their doorways. Cha was on the floor and she looked sick. We braced ourselves and waited out the rest of the quake. After many large aftershocks we braved the shelter of the doorways and checked out the damage of the house. No major damage was had except for items off shelves and jars broken. Thank God.


You have to understand that because I had such limited experience in such events I really had no idea of the scale of it. I realise that now. I called my mum anyway and told her there had been an earthquake and not to worry. She was up (at 4.30 in the morning) already and had felt the quake on the other side of the South Island. I laugh at the thought now, but Graeme and I decided to go back to bed and get some sleep. We were so tired so cuddled and talked our way through the magnitude 4, 5 and 6 aftershocks that followed throughout the early hours of the morning. Graeme used his Iphone to contact the outside world and read constant updates and see photos that people posted online.


My sister in England skyped us later. It had been breaking news over there, and I was a little confused as to why. She said people were looting in the city centre and buildings had come down. I was surprised. It sounded like mayhem, yet all was well in our little household.


As the day progressed we learned the real state of things. Building and homes destroyed, power and water off, sewage leaking, liqufaction. Yet our little home had been set apart. I was so grateful.


No deaths. That was the big thing. Somehow, everyone escaped with their lives despite falling bricks and sinking homes. Everyone seemed to be praising our building code - saying if it wasn't for that, we could have been a repeat of Haiti. Others thanked God that it happened at 4.35 in the morning when most were sleeping, and not a few hours before when most would be partying in town, or later when everyone would be hitting the shops and public places on such a beautiful day. It really did seem unreal that we got off so "lightly". I know people lost their homes, and I know many people are still without a home and sewage from the initial September quake. But when I compare that with the value of a life, there is hardly any comparison. Perhaps my feelings would be different if it were my home in ruins.


The army was called in, our firefighter friend worked every hour for the following weeks, police cordons were set, schools were postponed and work was on hold. Families grew together and called each other, friends gathered together and churches prayed. Our city was spared.


The following Wednesday Graeme and many people from our immediate group of friends had gone back to work. We encountered a severe aftershock early in the morning and work was called off for the day. Friends gathered at our house where I cooked everyone a delicious breakfast. We talked, we laughed, we tried to forget our stresses. At some point it was decided that everyone would go to Nelson together. Good friends up their offered us accommodation and we gladly escaped the stress of it all. I remember Graeme texting his supervisor to say he was going to be away for a few days. He text back and said "Do what you have to mate, but remember you still have to come back and face it" Or something to that effect. I have remembered those words since then. We still have to face it and heal from it. We cannot ignore it and we cannot dwell on such things.


We had a great time in Nelson (I blogged about it here). I tell you this because that morning with all of my friends in our home, eating and sharing so early in the morning on such an unusual day was honestly one of the best moments that I experienced last year, probably one of the greatest ever. I felt like in those moments I got to know my friends on a whole new level.


Months passed, building were demolished, aftershocks continued. Cantabrians somehow became seismologists and could determine the magnitude of a quake. Sometimes it was even a game. "I bet that was a 5.1!" "No way, more like a 4.9"


In January an old friends parents came back to NewZealand and we met them for coffee. During it they asked us how we were coping with it all. I was quite stunned by the question and gave them a pretty tame answer off the top of my head. I had never really considered that the quakes might still be affecting me. I guess they were deep down, but not in my day to day life like other people.


The second largest quake happened on February 22, 2011, and it was a magnitude 6.3. Considerably smaller in magnitude than our September quake (of 7.1) but considerably more violent, sudden and damaging.


PART TWO


It was a good day for me. I had a call earlier that morning wanting me to come in to the city for an immediate job interview that afternoon, I was nervous and excited! I had showered and dressed for it, found bus money, and decided to make some pizza dough in the mean time to keep my mind busy. I was in the kitchen getting out bowls when I realised I didn't know the portions for the dough. I went down to our bedroom to google search a recipe and as I stood with my laptop propped up in my palm while typing with the other hand I was thrown sideways.


At 12.51pm Without any warning, with no rumble like previous earthquakes the ground had moved underneath my feet and I fell against our bed. My macbook had fallen out of my hands and had landed on the floor. As we had all become accustomed to waiting out so many aftershocks I took a moment to think "Is this a big one?" In other words, did I need to shelter? Or could I just ride it out? Instantly it was apparent that this was no ordinary aftershock. The house twisted and shook. Our TV stand is ontop of our dutchess and it came tumbling to the floor narrowly missing my ankles. I jumped up on our bed in response and braced myself in the corner of our room. The path to our door was blocked by our TV and their was no where else to go. There is a wooden shelf screwed high up into the wall in our room. I pressed the top of my head into it to try and keep myself balanced but it was not easy. Alarms were going off, dogs were barking and I could hear great booms above all of the noises our house was making. I kept my face from our large windows, they were shaking and rattling and seemed to be under so much pressure I thought they would explode. I didn't want glass in my eyes. The ceiling was twisting, I could see it changing shape, the corners were being pulled and it was moving from side to side. I pictured the roof caving in and random assortments of household items falling and buring me. I know the Mutus use their attic for storage but I had no idea what was up there. I picture crock pots knocking me out and blankets suffocating me. 


My thoughts turned to the little baby in my womb. We had only seen her in a scan the week before. She was so precious to us already, and even as I write this my eyes tear up. Very few people knew of her and I worried that if something happened to me they would not know of our little baby. I was not obviously pregnant and in those moments of the earthquake I glanced around for a vivid or a pen to write "pregnant" on myself. Now, without adrenaline, I wonder what I thought they could have done had they known that information. Maybe if something happened and I was buried under bricks they might prioritise my little girl. I think that's what I thought. 


I was terrified.


I yelled out to Jesus. I screamed at him actually. I was so full of fear and I had nothing else besides my Lord in those moment. I closed my eyes and yelled for him to help me, I was desperate and manners and politeness in prayers was not observed. Jesus says to call on him, so I did. I called. I yelled. "Help me! Everyone! Help" were among my prayers. I braved an opportunity and looked outside our window. The sun was shining and there was a dog in our neighbours back yard who was panicking. The dog was running around in circles and back and forward barking. She must have been calling on her maker too. Our neighbours home was still standing, the sky was bright and I could see that civilisation still existed. That brought me a tremendous amount of comfort. 


The initial quake dulled down and I was able to breath. My heart was pounding in my chest and I spoke to our baby "It will be fine. Don't worry" But really I think I was just trying to reasure myself. In the lull of the quake I jumped down off the bed and scrambled to find my cell phone which I thought was charging. I realised it was in my pocket as a violent aftershock hit and I resumed my brace position. I realised there was no rumble with this quake either so I figured we must be close to the epicenter, which later appeared to only be a few kilometers away.


As that aftershock finished I realised I had to get out of the house. I climbed over our TV and wrenched the door open. The hallway had broken glass down it and it was dark. I had bare feet on. I ran for the front door which was blocked so I made my way out the lounge door, pushing my clothes horse away from the exit. The place was a mess. My Mother In Law's vases and frames and adorments were scattered on the floor, some broken. 


I made it outside into the fresh air, pulled out my phone and began to text Graeme, my husband, who was working in Sydenham at the time. He responded immediately which was a moment of joy for me saying he was ok and he would be home soon and things were a mess (I think he said that, or perhaps he said that later in the afternoon). Either way, I was satisfied. I sat on the pavement and text my Mum to tell her I was okay and that phone lines would go down so not to call. Its funny how much you learn after months of earthquakes. I knew the phones would go down, so I was surprised when Graeme managed to received my text and contact back. After that I lost reception as expected and I turned my eyes to our little dead end street. Neighbours were gathering a few houses down. A builder working on a house there called out to me to see that I was okay since I was sitting my by myself on the sidewalk. "Holy Crap" was all I could respond. 
I was in shock. A neighbours brick fence had come down and the husband was covering his elderly wife on their veranda during each aftershock. I realised they might be worse off than me and I made my way across the street to see them. Another large aftershock hit and I grabbed onto the lampost to steady myself. It was a wooden one and I heard it crack. I looked up and saw the powerlines swaying then I heard rocks tumble off the hills behind their house. Clouds of dust rose and we all stood and stared. I called out to them and they called back. In shock. Everyone was. 


[The date and time are probably why this email didn't get sent from Graemes work outbox. Twitpic from Graemes Twitter.]


I walked down the the builder and my neighbours, none of whom I had ever met. One lady put her arm around me for a brief moment. While I had been stuck in our house, they had already started from house to house to check on everyone. A quick census told us that no one was hurt and our attention turned to the 3 burst water mains in our street. Two were in the pavement and one was in the road. The road main was gushing out water and the others were trickling. I resumed my spot on the pavement, staring at the road. Water began to fill our gutters. Opposite from us a house on an elevated ground had brown water gushing out of it. It gushed out so quickly it started to flood our street. The neighbours talked of people they knew who they hadn't heard from. There must be death, they kept saying. How could there not be?


I felt so lonely, so cut off from the world. I didn't know anything. I didn't know where my husband was or why he was taking so long, I didn't know what my friends were doing, I didn't hear from my family, I didn't know the magnitude of the quake and I didn't know the state of the city. I just knew it must be bad. I went back inside in between two aftershocks and retreived my laptop from our bedroom floor. It was getting cold and I had no shoes and socks on, I sat in a car in our driveway and tried to go online. No power = no internet I discovered. I tried to distract myself and read the introduction to a pdf book I had saved previously. A text came through from my friend Megan in Wellington asking if we were safe. To my surprise I was able to respond and asked her how big it was. She said 6.3. In those lonely hours she was my only point of contact and I am so grateful to her for that. 


Before long my Father In Law arrived home. He brought with him no news except that traffic was terrible. Later, my beloved Graeme arrived home. His car was covered in mud. He was quiet and looked tired. His eyes told me so much. We embraced and I asked how were things. He began to weep. It was bad. We sat on the steps outside and he told myself and his Dad how buildings had come down. Graeme and his work mates had rushed to their aid. They had worked inside the Tasty Tucker Bakery where Graeme usually bought his lunch from. Young and old had been trapped inside. Some with great blocks of concrete pining them to the ground. Graeme and the men from his work had smashed out windows and used boards as stretchers to pull people out. Graeme cried as he told us their stories. He looked exhausted and I silently asked what seeing those sights does to a person. We later learnt that two of the people from Tasty Tucker sadly passed away but the others they rescued survived. 


Graemes Dad had already begun cleaning up the kitchen - litterally sweeping everything out into bins. Everything was broken. He had also begun to dig a longdrop for us to use over the coming weeks. He was so quick to act. All I wanted to do was sit and feel sorry for ourselves. We were unprepared and needed gas and water so Graeme and I went out on a mission. Of course the petrol stations we needed were closed, traffic was almost gridlocked and the state of our neighbourhood was a mess. We laughed at all the dirtbikes that were out taking advantage of the liqufaction. I felt sorry for the business women still walking home hours later with their highheels and briefcase in their hands and their legs and hoisery covered in mud. We returned home and had to park at the top of the street and take off our shoes and roll up our pants because the flooding had progressed.


Eventually my Mother In Law arrived home and our brother, Phillip. As it darkened I tried to distract us. We played cludeo. I desperately tried to make it sound fun. After that we charged the car batteries and listened to the radio. We heard no good news. We had a phone call from a friend in a panic in Australia, she needed help for her Pastors who were stranded and sick. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do. We were stranded as well. We told them to ring our friends Roy and Holly because they lived closer, but we didn't even know if they were safe, what their homeline was and cell phones were still down. Once again, I felt so cut off and useless.


It grew dark very quickly and we lite candles. Graemes Mum made us a delicious pasta meal on a gas cooker. 


Sharp aftershocks continued to roll through, and as it happened before, we were so close to the earthquakes there was no warning, no thundering noises to warn us. They came on instantly and sent us grasping for something to hold on to.


As we sat at the dining room table trying to play 2 player 500 by candlelight we realised that we had flights to go to Auckland early tomorrow morning for a national C3 leadership conference. We had no idea if we would still be able to make it but I was desperate to leave the city. I made contact with my friend Megan from Wellington who I had been able to get through to earlier in the day. She let us know that the airports were scheduled to open at 8pm and Jetstar flights had been cancelled, luckily we were on Air New Zealand. We made travel arrangements to leave the following morning and packed our bags in the dark.


That night was the longest night of my life. Every few minutes it seemed we were woken up by aftershocks. Graeme and I held on to each other tightly but I noticed he was considerably more jumpy and anxious about them than he had previously been. I tried not to react to them, hoping they wouldn't get the better of me. I knew what impact the house could take and I was sure that we would last the night. That night the family all kept our doors open and solar lights in the hall way incase of emergency. During a particularly rough aftershock Graeme jumped out of bed and almost ran into the doorway where he met his mum who had done the same. Then Graeme woke up and he was standing up, wondering where I was. I was still in bed, and he had sleep-reacted. It was humorous afterwards, but it was one of the roughest painfilled nights I have encountered so far.


The next morning we made it across the other side of town and into Avonhead where we met my Dad who took us to the airport. He had electricity and water on. It didn't seem fair. 


The airport was filled with weary looking Cantabrians who gave each other knowing and encouraging smiles. The lines were endless and no one pushed in. Everyone was exceptionally gracious and understanding of each other, a kind human spirit was in the air and it was so comforting. We were one of the first scheduled flights out, and the first to land in Auckland from Christchurch.


[Photo c/o stuff.co.nz Graeme on far left with red check shirt on. The kind man infront of him let us cut in front and we were fast tracked to the front of the line because of flight was being called.]


I really feel like in that time that God was carrying me. I look back in hindsight and I'm amazed that I kept it together. 


Our flight to Auckland was uneventful and we were met at the terminal by Redcross and Salvation Army workers, councillors and police. They had stations set up to take in quake victims. News cameras were everywhere and in peoples faces as they embraced for the first time and let their tears of pain leak through for all to see. People were being reunited and I held on to Graemes hand extra tightly. Our good friend Luke picked us up at the airport. He is Graemes oldest friend and is from Christchurch. We shared what we knew with him, but we didn't know much. Infact, he had most of the news for us and we listened intently to what he could tell us of our city and people.


We went to Dawns parents house and waited in the car for them to get home. We listened to the radio where John Key addressed the nation. I knew that people in Christchurch for the most part wouldn't hear it by I was touched by it all the same and it brought tears to my eyes. That afternoon I learned that they had started to find bodies in buildings and one of the first victims had been named, Jaime Gilbert. My heart broke. I had gone to highschool with Jaime. We shared our Drama and English classes together. Jaime was exceptionally talented and had so much going for him, he was a hard worker and was full of family pride. He tried to teach me to beat box, taught me to make a bong out of a soda can (not that I ever did), copied my english homework and kissed me on stage during a performance. He was a father to two very young children and had a partner and a loving family who he always talked about. I hadn't seen Jaime in about 2 years but I have lasting fond memories of him and couldn't help but feel it was a bad start to a whole lot of bad news coming. I later found out that my step families cousin had died as well. I was awakened to the truth that Christchurch is a very small place, everyone knows someone and I realised that even though we had our lives, we would be effected with grieving all the same. 


[Queensland Urban Search And Rescue workers after a month long service to our city. They were on our flight and the whole plane applauded them, and I thanked them and said we all thought they were heros even if we were too proud to say it. They were perhaps the most humble people I've met.]

Months later I still dream about Jaime. I keep seeing images of his lifeless body being pulled from rubble by two strong men, I see his sister with blood running down her face screaming for her brother and I see his partner and children weeping in their private moments. Sometimes when I'm out and about I keep thinking I see Jaime, only to have the person turn around and its not them. I don't know how I'm supposed to get rid of these images and thoughts in my mind.


A few other friends arrived from Christchurch, the rest didn't make it as their flights had been cancelled. We went to church that night and people from C3 Auckland hugged us, prayed, smiled and tried to make small talk. On the inside I felt hollow, like a shell. It wasn't until the worship time in the service that I really started to consider all that had happened and all that it meant. Songs were sung about worshiping God in all situations, when we "are on a mountain we will worship, we our city is falling we will worship". I broke. I was so angry, hurt, confused and devastated but all I could do was worship. I had no other choices. In those moments the only thing I had to turn to was God. I sung, I lifted my hands, I worshiped our Maker and I thanked Him that he was close in a time when everyone was broken and no answers were available. 


Revelation 21:3 "They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." A picture of what is to come.


We spent the rest of the week in Auckland, glad that we were there with power and showers and friends, but missing our friends and feeling as if we should be there with them, spending nights playing cards by candlelight, boiling water together, cleaning up church and our homes, offering support to those who need it. Once again, because I was out of Christchurch I felt so cut off from everything. I so badly wanted to be back. Perhaps that was the pastor in me coming through. We waited out till the end of the week and took our return flight back. Our home was still without basic power, water or sewage so we spent a few nights at my dads house and then the rest of the week at our good friends place, Perry and Hollie. 


When sewage was restored and we could flush the toilet we returned to our home and family. The street was messy and it smelt of poo. I had to cover my nose and mouth whenever I was outside because the stench was so bad for me. 


Weeks passed, months passed, and now it is 3 months since that fateful day. I am grateful that I have my family and still have my hope and that faith was enough to get me through. As we drove to a lunch date yesterday I came the closest to the cordon I have ever been. I saw flashes of flattened buildings as we drove past and my mouth dropped. It really does look like the photographs and images they show on the TV. Perhaps in real life it seems worse. 


[The NZ Army move in and clean up our street. Photo c/o Phillip Laughton-Mutu]


My thoughts go out to all Cantabrians everywhere who have lost loved ones. I have no answers for you but I am thinking of you and praying for you without ceasing. My thanks go to the rest of New Zealand, who are really like a family. Thank you for all of your support, your gifts and messages. Tears come to my eyes whenever I see the message board in Riccarton Westfield from you. Thank you to the Redcross who astounded me in those initial days. You are so quick and well resourced. Thank you to all the churches everywhere who sent man power and supplies. Thank you to the Student Army - Everyone is so impressed with you, and you did an amazing job in assisting your city. We are so proud of you. Thank you to the government stepping in, to WINZ for our grocery and petrol vouchers, and for a friendly face and caring touch at the welfare centers. Thank you to the Army who are still spending sleepless nights guarding the central city cordon, you are not forgotten. Thank you also for coming in with your trucks and cleaning up our street. Thank you to all of the Search and Rescue Teams. I'm so glad I got to meet some of you Australians on our flight the next month and got to thank you and applaude you in person. Thank you to our church family in Auckland who looked after us so well and attended to everyone of our needs. 


[water given out at the welfare centers, donated by Queenstown Primary School. "Dear Christchurch, I hope you are okay after the big disaster, from Queenstown Primary"]


Thank you to everyone for your love and support. We still need it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dear Baby, Week 25 Update


Current weight: 67kgs (no change since last week)

Total weight gained: 2 kgs (original weight: 65 kgs)

Babys growth this week: This week she weighs approximately 700gms and is the length of a watermelon! A whole watermelon! Inside my belly! Whoa-nelly! They say that from 25 weeks onwards if she was to be born now she would have a pretty fighting chanced at surviving with some good doctors and machines.

Times I have vomited this week: 4

Baxton Hicks Contactions this week: 0

Thoughts this week: Space is getting a little tight inside and I can feel her squirming and rolling around. Sometimes its quite uncomfortable and I have to stop what I am doing and wait for her to get settled. That just reminds me how much she has and is growing. Life is such a mind blowing miracle. She must also be growing tonnes this week because I have noticed a definite lessening in movement. Not a bad lessening... More like she's spending more time sleeping, which is probably a good thing because it seemed like she never stopped punching and kicking!

[professional Mini Moo Listening Device]

Dear Baby Girl,

You are such a mystery to me. This week your Papa tried to hear your heart beat through a toilet tube (a book told us that it would work) but it didn't work. He said he could hear lots of things, but none of them obviously you. I'm keeping the "listening device" for the future when you get bigger, maybe we'll be able to hear you then. (Don't worry, in 2011 we do have technology to listen properly... This was just something fun we did one night to entertain ourselves)

I love finding out more about you. Slowly, God is revealing more to me. When I was a teenager I always knew I would be married by 20 (even though I had no boyfriend and wasn't really interested in them either) and I knew I would have started our family by the time I was 23 (even though I knew nothing about children and had no maternal instincts). I don't know why I thought that, but when I married your father when I was 20 I knew that we would be starting our family shortly. Plans were made and it seemed like we wouldn't be starting our family for another few years. As I prayed about this I realised that there were other ways I could "have children". I was going to go to Africa and expected to fall in love over there, I expected to home a young primal girl who had no family... I was open to the possibilities of what "having children" meant. Then, [a good] surprise, you came along. You will be here just intime to celebrate my 23rd birthday and I couldn't be more thrilled. I thank God for the seeds he planted in my heart 6 or 7 years ago before I even knew Him, or your Papa, or you. 

I tell you this journey not to make you feel like you weren't planned... It is such a blessing to know that you were planned, so many years ago, since the beginning of time by your Creator. I trust and believe with all of my heart that you are a gift from God, and I will look after you on behalf of Him who sent you just as He will look after you too.

Be blessed little one. 
Love, Mama.



Dearest Father in Heaven,
Today amongst others I am so thankful for your devine power. Thank you for your plan that you have had for so many years and thank you that I am apart of it. I feel so blessed and honoured that you would choose ME, of all people, to carry your daughter into this world. Please help Graeme and I in everything we do for your little one because for the most part we have no idea what we are doing :)
Thank you,
Sophie

Thursday, May 19, 2011

FAQ

I share my blog publicly with a lot of people who I know in regular day to day life. They often ask me questions about my blog and my life so I thought I would compose a Frequently Asked Questions post to satisfy those who aren't so brave to ask me :)

Why the name Sophie Slim?
My initials are SLM (Sophie Laughton-Mutu). Before I was getting married my sister and I joked about names we could make with my new initials. We came up with Slim, Psalm, Slam. I thought Sophie Slim had a nice ring to it. It has absolutely nothing to do with my figure.

Why "Pretty Young Thing"?
My previous blog was called Pretty Young Thing. I love Michael Jackson and I thought they were great lyrics from a catchy song. I would love to stay young and youthful. I like the idea of being a pretty young thing :)

Do you mind me reading you blog?
I have always had an online blog. Previously it had always been private or just shared with a few select friends. This past year I have made it public. I am aware that people read it and I even advertise it on my facebook, so I expect people to read it. Some posts are more personal than others, but I post nothing that I dont mind people knowing about me. There are still many things that I don't blog about because I consider them too personal. By the time the words reach your computer they have been through my personal screening to make sure they are public appropriate.

Do you mind me asking about things on your blog in person?
Not at all, infact I usually get taken aback when people mention my blog in person. I forget that people read it and take an interest. I am always surprised by who reads it. The most unlikely people do! While some of my content is quite standard occasionally I'll have a deep and meaningful or encouragement post and I love it when people bring this up with me or want to talk more about it. I especially encountered this last year with my 30 days to live experiment. Many many people wished to talk to me about what I learned in the process and to also discuss their feelings on death and living life. I learn so much from other peoples views too.

Do you and Graeme have a perfect marriage?
I love Graeme with all my heart but keep in mind that I am a sinner, and so is he. Some times we hurt each other which makes for a less than perfect marriage. I am a hopeless romantic who likes to have hope in all situations but that does not mean I don't live in reality. The reality that every marriage takes a heck of a lot of work. Any successful (loving) older couple that you meet has had a whole range of challenges and I say good on them for persevering and loving in all situations! Graeme and I take each day as a new one and are constantly having to forgive each other and express our love in new and creative ways. Its a beautiful thing, really.

What do you do all day?
Right now I'm a lady of leisure, despite my desire to be. The truth is, I would love to be working. I wasn't able to get a job when I finished studying last year, then had terrible "morning" sickness which kept me in bed most days, and in a few months I will have a sweet little girl requiring all my attention. In the mean time, my morning sickness has eased (a little. Some days are still terrible) so I am able to get out and do a few things. Most days I go for a walk, I do wifey things like cook and washing and things, and the rest of the time I try and create. I knit, crochet, write letters, paint, blog, pray and read. Other days I try and visit non working friends too, or have coffee with beautiful girls from Church. Its a great life really, and I am super lucky that I am able to do it right now and my husband supports us both. I try and thank him for working most days because I am unable to. Some days I get very bored and house bound and those aren't very good days. The truth is I would love to be working, and I miss my old job at the beauty clinic. I would love to learn more about the industry and re-enter it at some point.

How long have you been Christian?
I think it has been 5 years now. It may seem hard to believe but I used to be a very very different person. I was angry, full of hurt and angst and didn't have any hope in the world. I got to a point where I was at the end of myself and had nothing left to live for. God literally saved my life and gave me a reason to live. That day I saw many miracles and put my hope in God. I still think back to those moments and thank God for all he has done in my life since then. I am a completely different person and because of all that God has done in my life I find it easy to have hope and faith in Him, He has proven that he is a much better Saviour than anything else I tried.

As I think of more questions that people ask me I will put them up. Please let me know if you have any more that I haven't included!

My Son The Saviour - Book Review


A friend introduced me to this work of fiction this week. It is a story of Jesus and the journey that His mother, Mary, takes as she grows in motherhood and as a follower of Christ. It is purely a work of fiction based on biblical events and the author makes that very clear in her opening lines. I was a little sceptical at first, because I have seen first hand people taking books and other peoples opinions as Truth. It was quite plain to me though that this was the authors imagination that formed words on pages and they were a delight to read!

The book was short which is a big plus in my eyes. It skipped between present day Mary and Mary of a previous time however the tenths was not hard to follow. It was very straight forward and provided a sense of "whats going to happen next?" or "how will this link to present day Mary?" which is strange, because I know the biblical story of Mary and Jesus but it seemed like a whole new tale to me.

Aside from the books tale, while reading it I had many revelations as to the biblical account of Jesus. My eyes were opened to many new things that I had never considered before. I realised that most people heard about Jesus through other peoples stories and how out of this world he must have seemed to them. Sometimes I think of Jesus as being too human. He would not have seemed human to his disciples and followers, he was the Son of God. I also realised how absolutely radical Jesus' teaching must have been to his first followers. I have heard the words of Jesus many times and sometimes they become stale in my mind. A new word or a fresh revelation is what gets me excited, when really his first words and commandments are completely radical they should still excite and challenge me.

Over the last few days I have been rereading the gospels with new eyes and ears.

If you are looking for a quick and easy fictitious book to read, why not give this one a go? Thanks to Amy for the lend of it! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Harry Potter 30 Day Challenge.... In One Night

Its no secret that I love Harry Potter, I feel as if I grew up with the books, I have read them and read them and read them, used to dream of being whisked away to a specialty school with special text books (this dream later came true when I studied Christian Ministry) (weird I know) and when I was younger cried myself to sleep because I wasn't Hermione and had no magical poweress.


Since knowing Graeme, I have taught him everything he knows about HP, and he has never read a world of J K Rowlings - I have also kept the ending a secret from him, which he prefers (because he's actually kind of into it) and I take great delight in.


This challenge was supposed to be spread over everyday but I am lazy and forgetful, so here goes one big post....


Day 1: Your fave book.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Always!! It had everything in it, and I LOVED reading about all the different schools and magic, and learning more about Old Voldy.

Day 2: Your fave movie.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - I thought they did this movie wonderfully, and it made such a change to the cheesy american versions that went before it.

Day 3: Is there any of the films adaptations that have made you angry because they’ve ignored important parts of the book.

I Didn't like the Order of the Pheonix movie, they had to communicate so much, and i think they made a good attempt using the newspaper headers, but I really dont see how non-book-readers could have got the full story. I also really liked how they went to St Mungos and got to see Lockheart and learnt lots more about Neville, which you neve see in the film.

Day 4: Least fave female character and why.

I dont like Narcissa. She annoys me and just suddenly pops up with very little development.

Day 5: Fave male character and why.

I like Neville, he's not my fave, but I like him. I think he's exceptionally brave.

Day 6: What house would you want to be in.

I would love to say Gryffindor, but I think really it would be Ravenclaw. They are so smart.

Day 7: Fave female character and why.

Lunas pretty awesome. No reason.

Day 8: What do you think would be your fave lesson.

Probably Transfiguration or Charms - Master either of those and the magical world is your oyster

Day 9: Least fave male character.

Lucious, he's a spineless git.

Day 10: Horcruxes or Hallows.

Horcruxes for sure. Down with Voldy!

Day 11: What character would you say you are most like.

Probably a good mix of Ron and Hermione. 

Day 12: Fave ship.

Tonks & Lupin <3

Day 13: Least fave movie.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

Day 14: Team Voldermort or Team harry.

'Arry Potta!

Day 15: Who would be your best friends at hogwarts. (three only)

Parvati, Lav Lav and Firenze

Day 16: Fave professor

Mc Gonnagol

Day 17: Are you excited about The Deathly Hallows movie or scared it won’t do the book justice.

Scared. Very scared. I will probably cry because the journey is finally over.

Day 18: Least fave book.

Philosophers stone, but only because I have read it sooo many times. I used to read it outloud in an English Accent to myself and put on everyones voices. I did it so often I could recite the whole first chapter off my head. To the boy who Lived!

Day 19: Do you prefer the books or films.

Books. Always.

Day 20: If you had to meet one member of the cast, who would it be.

Emma Watson, she seems like a dear.

Day 21: Out of all the characters that died, if you could bring one back, who would it be.

Lupin.. Tear.

Day 22: Harry Potter or Twilight

Lol

Day 23: Any part of the books/movies that makes you cry.

Lots. But mostly Sirius, Dumbledore and Dobby (And the ones who pass at the end (can't give anything away for hubby)

Day 24: Any particular scene you wished would have been put in the movie but it wasn’t.

St Mungos,

Day 25: Nineteen years later. Are you happy how it turned out, or do you wish something was different, ie Neville married Luna.

I'm Happy :) It's all very sweet.


Day 26: If you could be able to work one spell without a wand what would it be.
Wingardium Leviosa

Day 27: Would you rather own The Invisibility Cloak, The Resurrection Stone or The Elder Wand.

Invisibility Cloak - Dare you even ask since you know what happened to the 3 brothers?

Day 28: Do you listen to Wizard Wrock, what do you think about it.

Lol.

Day 29: Did you enjoy A Very Potter Musical.

I did, but could only watch half of it, the sound quality was terrible. I wish I had been in the audience.

Day 30: What affect has Harry Potter made on your life and how much does it mean to you

HP was my teenage years, so it's stuck with me for life. I know that sounds weird coming from a Christian, and I have considered that many times, and for a while I couldn't read it without it affecting me, but that time has passed and now it's all in good fun.

Tripple Mummys Baby Shower

Okay so i'm over a week late with this post, but last weekend the lovely girls from our Church treated myself and 2 other expectant Mums to a fun baby shower! The last time we had a babyshower during present time I may have said "Thats so cute my womb is crying out"... Turns out it cried pretty hard and days later I conceived the beloved MiniMoo

The ladies spoilt us - We had delicious food, fun games, and one of our good friends even flew down for the weekend! Stoked that Church friendships are actual friendships.

Anyway, [hi Celeste] the Mums played a game where we had to feed our "babies" instant dessert blindfolded. My Baby was very well trained and fed great, I won a rubber duckie as a prize! :)


Everyone was all super generous as well and presented us each with a whole hamper full of baby goodies! Mini Moo got beautiful blankets, dresses, rufflebumpants, art work and lots of other goodies! She's so spoilt.




[Holly explaining how to use her handmade baby slings she had made for us (!!!)]

It was a great time and I felt so blessed by it, thank you to everyone who came (or sent blessings and gifts from afar), I am so pleased that I am a part of an awesome community of strong, fun women. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Baby, Week 24 Update

Current weight: 67kgs (up 1.3 kgs since last week)

Total weight gained: 2 kgs (original weight: 65 kgs)

Babys growth this week: Average length from head to heel is 30cm, but I have an inkling she might be a little bit longer based on her parents genes ;) 680 gms and is forming footprints and fingerprints. She'd probably be the worlds sneakiest robber right now. 

Times I have vomited this week: A big. fat. ZERO! HALLELUJAH!! Seriously. This is big news. Gone are the days of vomiting 5 times a day. It reaaaaally makes a difference to my energy, my emotions and general life now that I'm keeping all my food down. I hope it stays this way!! :D

Thoughts this week: I seesaw between thinking this pregnancy is taking forever and also thinking its flying by. Last night I realised that it's only another 3.5 months away, and when you say it like that it doesn't sound like much, but when I see my friends Dawn and Holly who are due shortly I realise how long I've got to go. I have been exceptionally emotional this week, crying at the drop of a hat and for no apparent reason some times. I am becoming much more sensitive to foods, mostly caffeine and sugar so I am trying to cut back and limit my intake. I got the mad shakes and anxiety from my only coffee I had this week, and a few lollies gives me a headache and some hot cold flushes. 

The moral of the story is, my body really isn't mine at all. Ever since November it's had a life of its own and will do what it damn well pleases thank you very much. Because of this, I decided to celebrate Mothers Day this year and happily put my hand up at church to receive my gift (thank you C3!). Graeme waited till 11pm to wish me happy mothers day and I got raspberry liquorice out of it (that man knows the way to my heart). 

I used to think that being pregnant involved having a bigger tummy, wearing some bigger clothes and generally looking radiant. Today while walking the length of the mall I had to sit down 3 times to catch my breath. It was in those moments that I realised I know have full sympathy for all woman everywhere who have been through this - Especially working preggos and mothers. I really dont know how you do it. 

It's been a big week in Preggo land besides those emotional thoughts - Practically I met with my midwife again and she confirmed that I had my first Braxton Hicks contraction this week and she also tested my pee (lovely), and everything is spot on a-okay! 

(Taken last week, 23 weeks)

Dearest Baby Girl,

I cannot wait to meet you. Everyday closer to your due date I become increasingly more anxious and increasingly more confident. Thank you in advance for making me a better woman and wife and worldly citizen. You have already changed our lives so much.

This week your Papa made you a Twitter account so we can record our thoughts and your momentous occasions on it. He sent you your first Tweet (haha, will you even know what that means in years to come?) and when I read it I burst out in tears. You have changed him too, he adores you already. 

At the weekend we celebrated your impending arrival with some close and lovely ladies from church. They were so generous and gave you so many gorgeous outfits to wear and lovely artwork that we will put up in your room. Know that you will be taken care of, not just by us but by our amazing community of friends and loved ones. 

Stay safe little one,
Mum xxx


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