Something Stinks

on Friday, October 22, 2010




What is it about families? We can have the biggest, most heart wrenching issues in our lives, yet we refuse to acknowledge it little loan discuss or address it. Instead, we walk around it, ignore and talk about everything but it.


In fact 'it' sits there like a big fat elephant in the middle of the room and instead of pulling together to get this big stinking mess out of our lives, we will pretend it's not there, walk around it or even hang pictures on it to assimilate it into the decor.


The weather becomes a fascinating subject. We will clean house within an inch of it's wooden life, become suddenly fascinated with study or throw ourselves into emotionally safe areas of our life but DON'T dare discuss what is creating cracks under our feet crumbling the foundation of what is most precious to us.


Heck!! That elephant isn't going to go away until we acknowledge it to begin with and then work together as a family and lead that stinking thing out of our lives and the clean up the crap that it left behind.

The Boy Who Changed The World

on Wednesday, September 8, 2010

by Andy Andrews




A parcel is being jockied down our long dirt driveway by my mob of children emotionally peaked by anticipation. It's a children's book and right there I knew, our day won't move on until we shared it together.

At the first page, they are drawn in by the beautiful colors and images. The story will have to wait until they are finished absorbing what they see. There is so much to read even before we start with the words.

And when the words start, they aren't disappointed either. Andy Andrews takes us on a journey of four generation of boys, stacking their lives like blocks, he allows us to wonder at the strength and significance of the wall that is built from their lives meshing together, to see the legacy fed by the fruit of good choices. As Susan Carver says in the story .. "little things make a big difference".

Following this construction of lives through the story and the butterflies through the pictures, these little things we do illustrate the 'butterfly effect' our lives have. Just like the butterfly's wing makes such a small movement of air, we can offer our small fishes and loaves confidently that our lives will and can make a big difference.

Road Block Bye Bye

on Saturday, February 6, 2010

0805091446-00Hey. Does anyone remember me?


I'm the one who posted 'sick egg' back in September and then proceeded to throw a chronicle of reposts; until all the good ones run out.


Well. I have news.


The world has stopped moving!! I’ve just been on a really bad patch of bendy road and now, I get to turn off. My head now no longer spins. This is reason for extra lashings of excitement yet at the same time it feels surreal with a captial S.


For those who don’t know, I have been to three doctors over the last six months; one was like a dad who would call me in the morning to see if my sick kids were all right, one was lovely and wanted to look past my big family which everyone keeps blaming and the third; well he's young but definitely thorough. Loved them all. I was checked for a plethora of diseases from aids to ross river to cancer and everything in between. I have good news. Those tests all came back negative. Hate to think what it cost our medicare system. Although I have more news. I was still not functioning.


But three things then happened that I believe were God and I found myself in the office of a biochemist. He went straight to my blood. Only the tiniest amount. And when he looked at it, he told me my story. He rattled off my symptoms. And when he told me the cause, I looked at him blank. Unbelieving even.


Actually there were three things that needed addressing although in treating the first, the others would go. Although the cure, argh! I would have preferred to dip seven times in a muddy river. But I am in a place where I want my health more than I want my fleshy desires so I was good to follow his instructions; to the letter. And three days later I was cleaning out my larder; voluntarily.


You wont believe what shackled me! Things like this don't happen in prospering countries; do they? I am a health freak; well almost. I am active. We eat fresh, organic, whole foods. Heck, we even grind our own wheat and milk our own cow. And now! I guess we wont have to. Cause wheat and milk are now banned substances. Not sure of the why yet but I am feeling amazing, almost healthy so the why is really just a technicality.


Reversible. That's what he told me. I wont have to find a ‘new normal’ in my life and can expect to find vitality again. And I'm also stoked that after who knows how long, someone found out the 'why' of my 'fuzzyness'. I'm not crazy after all. {sandra does happy dance} Was getting sick of being sick, of not being able to live past my own existence, of not being able to enjoy others.


And you know what sweetens the whole discovery? My problem is not because I chose to embrace children. If someone told me I was unwell because of my choice to have a big family one more time, I was ready to smack 'em. My Father told me that children are a blessing and I believe Him.


And I now get to resume life but with a massively refined perspective courtesy of the One who carried me over for the last however long.


I have just one more opinion. I like driving on this road a whole lot better.

The Wheels On Our Bus Go ......

on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

... out and about cause their 'too cool to be hot' and the car has airconditioning ...


... they go left and right around the stack of potholes in our road and yet Brielle, head banging our shoulders, sleeps on ...


... and the wheels go back and forward when we leave a few who shouldn' t have been left....


.... but lately they go up and down getting two flat tyres in a month.



Mostly though, they do go round and round ...

... and round and round ...

... and round and round ...



We have definitely done some miles in that big blue lunchbox of a car this month I tell you.

Welcome To My Fishbowl

on Saturday, January 2, 2010



When people discover that Mark and Sandra De Hoogh have ten children, their reactions are varied. “Wow! You look so young!” “Are you Catholic?” “Don’t you have a TV?” or the most common “Have you worked out what’s causing it yet?”

With the characteristic sense of humour required to raise a large family, Sandra’s serene response is “Yeah, we have and I’m surprised you’ve given it up!”

Mark and Sandra have been married for 21 years, and have ten gorgeous children together. Eldest daughter Ashley is almost 19, Rowena 17, Jordan 15, Caleb 13, Naomi 11, Isaac 9, Gabrielle 7, Timothy 5, Brayden 3 and baby Kyler is 18 mths. The family live on a property outside of Dungog, and the kids are home-schooled. If that sounds incredibly saint-like and overwhelming, Sandra is quick to dispel any myths of super-mothering powers.

“I don’t want people to put me on a pedestal because I’ll just fall straight off it. But it is possible to have a bigger family than society says is ‘normal’. Breeding is easy. It’s the life you live after you have a family where the challenges are.”

Sandra says the biggest challenge of having such a large family is the realness and transparency. “There’s no-where to hide or pretend in a big family. I can’t be a hypocrite, or the wheels just fall off, and ‘if Mum ain’t happy, nobody’s happy’. A big part of it is being not too proud to admit that you don’t know what the heck you are doing sometimes.”
But the hardest thing is also the best reward. The family have a terrific ready-made community when someone needs a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to or play with. “In a smaller family, if someone is busy, you might not be able to find the right time to be able to talk to somebody, but in a big family, there’s always someone available.”

Having ten children is something most people baulk at, but Mark and Sandra have been intentional about growing a large family. “We never found a good reason to stop. It’s not that we just love kids, although we do, but we love people. We just want to do life with our kids.”

And the De Hooghs hang out a lot. After some negative school experiences, the family decided that home-schooling was a better fit for them. Accidentally, they discovered that they enjoy learning together, and although the door has always been open for the kids to attend school, so far they have all chosen to be educated at home.

There are no school lunches to prepare in the morning, but feeding a family of twelve requires some planning. “We don’t use a microwave, because by the time you’ve heated the fifth dish, the first four are cold.” Two trolleys are required for the monthly ALDI run, and the family cruise the outlets for bulk foodstuffs, buying for up to six months at a time. Because they live on a property, Mark is able to raise beef cattle for the table, making meat considerably cheaper, and also has a dairy cow for milk. Buying in bulk at the Sandgate fruit and vegetable markets saves money too. Still, the monthly food bill is between $1000 and $1500.

Cooking could be a chore, but the De Hoogh family has an ‘everyone has something to contribute’ policy. “Rowena cooks 3 meals a week. All the big boys are ‘in training’ for one night a week and Naomi does one night too, so I’m almost out of the kitchen!” reveals Sandra gleefully. And she admits, she does enjoy cooking alone that one night.

But what is the cost of having such a large family? Though it doesn’t come cheap, Mark and Sandra have made it a priority and found ways to make it manageable. “We’ve learned to live more simply, without the things people feel are culturally necessary. We found a lot more substance in the things that were free, in doing things together and functioning as a family.”
With a family of a dozen people, there is a lot to do to make everything run smoothly. “I don’t have the energy or desire to be the big boss, standing over everyone to lay down the law. We had to start running our family based on relationships, instead of rules and regulations. Everybody is a valuable contributor. We praise them for whatever they do offer, and that praise inspires them to want to do more.”

“We had to outline the minimum things around the house that had to be done everyday, food, clothes, transport, and ‘stuffonomics’. We wrote it out and said ‘What do you want to contribute?’ I was blown away when Ashley said she’d do all the washing. She’s happy and feels no guilt. She does it because she wants to not because she has to. It’s so freeing, so liberating. I believe that’s the best thing I’ve learned as a mum. But it’s really hard to do it this way, and I’m only just getting it.”

“This season is one of living with anticipation of what people were going to offer, instead of expectation. It was a big bridge to cross and we are still walking it out!” You get the feeling that the journey is mostly a positive one. The children are well-mannered and considerate of others, their love for each other evident in the way they relate. The family exudes a sense of togetherness, their home a haven for all who enter.

Little Kyler toddles about with his gorgeous toothy grin, a picture of cherubic babyhood. With a precious family of twelve, are they planning to add to the joy and make a baker’s dozen?

Sandra smiles with a twinkle in her eye. “We never say never.”

Both P'd in the Same Week

on Monday, December 21, 2009



Bo with her red P Plates and Ash with her Green P's

For international's who have no idea what I'm taking about:
Here in Oz, new drivers have the honor {or debasement... however you want to look at it} of sticking a gigantic red or green P to their car. This lets other drivers to undoubtedly know:

  • that they are a new ... or newish .... drivers
  • that they are young, cool, hip and good looking or
  • to give them plenty of space on the road even if it means using the footpath to be safter.
Fly free my babies but avoid the ouchies, k?!


Reason I Breath

on Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just seems so appropriate to repost my very 1st post which was a piece written 10 years ago, for my 101st post after a 1 year of blogging with almost 100 followers. That's a lot of 1's don't you think? Really bizarre.


A cool breeze pushed through the open kitchen window and I felt it's freshness on my face. Breathing deeply, I drew in the scent of the emerging evening and freshly cut grass, this enticing me to soak up the scene across the valley. Full and low, the sun was now setting red, lighting up the hill across the river. Cows were now rising to graze in the shade, lethargic from a searing summer’s day, their calves dancing energetically to the crickets’ song.

Inside, dinner smells still lingered through the kitchen and clung to my sticky baby who was perched on my lap. He was studying a small piece of paper, clumsily exchanging it from hand to hand and making contented noises. Nestling him in closer to me, my lips and cheek smoothed his downy head. All my senses stood on end; life was wonderful. I felt that small space inside me, which can sometimes feel so empty, burst with a warm fuzziness impossible to verbalize, words not even fringing on description. Closing my eyes, I drew in a deep savoring breath, only then to embrace an amazing sense of Gods presence. Such a feeling of wholeness, such a profound change in my view of life and only after a few minutes soaking up the essence of The One who loves me most.

This brief moment was shatter simultaneously by the sound of wet children running inside from an evening swim, a baby's frustrated squeals to achieve motor skills not attainable by one so young and a concerned alert to a crushed pancake that had annihilated behind the curtain, and Oh! Yes! A new smell had definitely clouded out the grass, the breeze and carefully prepared meal. The contents of a filled nappy jolted me back to the day to day events which busy my life, but now with a softer, gentler, more loving spirit.

Still, did He give me this moment to draw me closer, to fuel desire to seek “His face” or is it maybe possible that He just wanted to be with me be it only a few minutes of my hurried day. Both are likely, though possibly this was the only time all day I took to notice Him. How often I do that; struggle through my whole day alone yet God is right there waiting for me. Just like Peter who, sank when he took His eyes of Jesus while walking on the water, we sink if we don’t look to Him for our impetus in every thought, action and motive.

As the creator of imagination, He won’t always use cows, breezes and babies to catch our attention. Looking at Him and to Him always, He won’t become small or insignificant and comprehension will explode in our hearts of who He actually is; our creator, our all consuming fulfillment and our very purpose of life. We are to Him the object of His enveloping affection. He made us for Himself and when this fact takes root, we will hungrily seek Him and find ourselves in that sweet place of His presence way more than just a few stolen moments.

Seek my face [inquire for and require my presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. - Ps 27:8 amp