Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014 - Hello 2015 / Last book review 2014

Last Book Review for 2014:
Thought to have a book review as my last blog entry for 2014. I'd already read the second book of the "Hunger Games" trilogy in September called "Catching Fire" that my eldest had received as a gift and watched both movies with her after a lot of pressure from school classmates for having not watched it. My initial hesitancy was over the notion of 'kids killing kids' and what that teaches our children.

So decided to watch it with her to discuss some of the concepts of the movie. And indeed it had a classic 'love story' plot (with two possible beaus), a quest to stay alive in the 'Hunger Games', a hero/heroine with certain talents, underdogs in a society who begin to question the norms and values of those ruling over the underclass with themes of power/oppression and a certain 'uprising' rebellion brewing.

It reminded me of the many times and places now and in history where such ideas have killed thousands - millions of people over time. It was a well crafted book, thoughtfully written about a ruling class society who saw the killing of children as an acceptable sport. She included in her Q and A section that her father, a military specialist, had influenced her ideas as he had explained to her the background of Vietnam.

My parting entry for 2014, is to encourage us as caring adults to be watchful over our children and to be advocates for their hearts and minds. I've observed how our society has developed and is more complicated technologically but our universal values have pretty much stayed the same which is way such movies ring true for many. The first part of the third movie is already out showing at movie theatres.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy and prosperous New Year for 2015... Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Praying/Planning ahead for 2015

I'm really looking forward to what 2015 holds and above is one of those templates (from FB) that might help me/you towards meeting one of the goals. Pretty much at the end of every year I set aside time to review my present year and the year ahead with goals for myself and for my family members taking into account their needs and our coordinated efforts.

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting goals charts (in the "Templates" page of my blog) that I've been using over the years for my own individual goals and will also include a family goals sheet as well. This is particularly important because it's been said that if you don't write down your goals and review regularly then you're less likely to achieve them.

I've also used, over the years, a personal planner, an A4 appointments diary with a full week over 2 pages that helps me to plan out my days/weeks ahead and includes all the different places that I need to be with my family and their needs as well. This has proven to be my best time organisation tool as a smart phone can sometimes have a dead battery or can be easily lost.

If you haven't already, maybe this is a good time to pray ahead and set some goals for yourself and for your family and after reading an inspirational book i.e. my latest book review by Bear Grylls - the sky's the limit!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Last days of 2014 - Book Review

Book Review of: Beary Grylls' "A Survival Guide for Life: How to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character."
(c) 2014  Bantam Press, Great Britain.

It's neat being able to squeeze in time to catch up on some very inspirational reading. This particular book is a condensed version of wisdom and experience over many years. I read his best selling book "Mud, sweat and tears" a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how (although it was quite substantial) - it was easy reading and fascinating to know the background as to how he got his TV series started and he even climbed the Himalayas!

I would definitely recommend both books to read and particular to inspire men. I like how he is very candid about his experiences and not at all macho as some people might think. This particular book is a paperback with some 280+ pages full of quotes, old wisdom sayings and relates to his knowledge of surviving. He's also shares Christian principles that I also value and he made me reflect on things in my life too. Very easy reading.

I'd also encourage women and teenager/young adults to read through this book as it helped me to reflect on my goals and encourages us to think outside the square and to see our obstacles etc as a means to getting to the destination. I also like how he shares universal values about giving and being humble as opposed to showing off - traits that I was encouraged about by my parents.

I see this book as one that I will be referring to again and again. It was given to my eldest child for her prize giving and I think well picked as to have this information as one grows up is better than hindsight.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Last weekend of 2014 - Carrot cake recipe

This last weekend of 2014 has been 'kick back' day/s (as my children love to say) with no plans, no pressure and just taking it easy. I've been catching up on a bit of reading with another book review pending and enjoying my time with them. Also have my lil' sister (with her 19th birthday next month) over for the holidays and it's nice to see them sharing ideas on music, art and everything else in between.

My mum's a great cook and really miss her cooking (she was also my inspiration in crafting) as she's enjoying leisurely retirement days by the beach with my dad in Samoa. I must admit that as a family, we were really spoiled with her cooking as she poured a lot of love and great technique into her each dish. My year older sister is similar and I picked up a few tips but I like to only stop by at the kitchen for short lengths of time. Hence...

Last night, I made a carrot cake and it's turned out beautifully moist and thought to share the recipe with you (from the Edmonds cookbook) which I've perfected for my own taste over the years.The measurements are approximate as you can add to taste. I call it the 'one bowl cake' because I put it all into the one bowl and then transfer it into a large cake tin to bake.


3 eggs
1 - 1.5 cups sugar
0.5 - 1 cup oil (I use vege or canola)
2.5 - 3 cups flour
2 teaspoons Baking soda
handful of sultanas
1 medium tin pineapple pieces (add in juice)
handful of cherries (without pips)
chopped walnuts (a few to taste)
1 - 1.5 cups grated carrots (I clean them but unpeeled)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until all folded in and mixed well but don't over stir. Pour into a greased large cake tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Prick test (with a fork) to see if cooked. Then cool and serve.

I do sometimes add a cream cheese frosting which is simply made as:

1 - 1.5 cups icing/powdered sugar
1 small container of cream cheese 
couple of drops of lemon juice or lemon essence

Mix well in a bowl and when cake is cooled, spread onto of the cake to decorate and then serve with tea/coffee.

Makes a nice 'fruit cake' for these 'kick back' summer days.

P.S. Please leave feedback if you tried the recipe out.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day - on Love

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas season and a Happy Boxing day from Auckland, New Zealand. This season to me is all about love - with Christmas celebrating the birth of Christ and God sharing His love with us in gifting His son Jesus and we in turn gifting each other and then Boxing day was an English tradition of giving boxes with after Christmas day treats to servants/employees to take home to families.

It's one of my favourite times of the year in spending precious time with my children without the pressures of being a working mum or the activities of schools and clubs. It's just nice to spend quality time with them and started jogging with my eldest to prepare for her next month's soccer trials; watching my middle child enjoying her creativity in creating crafts and my youngest in just being fun and able to be around mum.

It is also a neat time to catch up on some reading which I rarely have time to but this Christmas I received a book gift from my eldest called "Another mother's love" by Karen Scott (c) 2014. My children love to read from the numerous library visits I've encouraged since they were quite young and I love to read too but with my busy work week schedule it is more of a rare treat.

Initially, I wasn't interested to read it as I'd just started reading the "Hunger Games" series but because she looked so disappointed at my disinterest, I thought I needed to give it a go. However, when I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It was such a moving non fictional story about the experiences of one loving 'blended' family's attempt to support a young troubled boy as their 'foster child'. I finished reading it's 300+ pages on and off throughout the day.

Karen Scott had me laughing in the book and crying at the end as I could relate to being a mum (to only 3 children) as opposed to her 7 but I also related as a step sister in growing up with 4 younger adopted siblings as the youngest biological child of my parents. It was compassionately written with a lot of love and very frank about their ups and downs. It made me aware of how grateful I was of my upbringing and parents and the stability I had that I try to give to my children.

I would definitely recommend this book to read for mum's and dad's wanting to foster a child but more importantly to any who have a heart for hurting children. I definitely thought that as a mum she certainly had more patience than I would have put up with but when it comes to love and kids - that's a hard one as I love having children. It's definitely a special blessing that I have been most privileged to consider this Christmas season.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve and the day/s before Christmas

Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas when children begin to anticipate the opening of presents, the mad rush of shoppers to fill their last minute shopping lists and Christmas Eve caroling. Going to the beach is another neat time of anticipation for the children in my family as a family legacy that my father often did during the holidays when I was younger.

The pics above show a local park that we visited and frequent on not so busy days and only a few minutes drive from our house. I love this lagoon like setting where I used to go outrigger training (when I was single and before the kids came). I love the peaceful atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of suburbia and other distractions.

How different it must have been at another scene where a tiny baby was born, so peaceful and serene. Christmas really isn't about the number of presents that we receive (or didn't), the food we eat, or the people we visit (or don't visit) to me it's about taking time out to reflect on how a special God transformed our world so that we could understand how much He loved us to come to live with us... and a baby was born!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Keepsake box and a violence-free Christmas

At last week's end of year work breakup and Christmas outing with work colleagues, we had a 'secret Santa' event whereby you draw out another colleagues name (from a hat) a few weeks ahead and then you are to buy something to the value of $10. A neat friend bought me a 'tea cupboard' which I then transformed into a keepsake box.

It reminds me this Christmas season about some of the families who won't be having a very merry Christmas. I remember a few years ago, I volunteered with the Salvation Army (Christian charity organisation) to support a family whom had gone through a lot of difficulties. I was to assist and 'mentor' of sorts. We were given Christmas gifts to share with them and we'd share about our lives. I particularly got to know the mother well.

Over the course of a year, I learnt a lot about how alcohol and drugs, poverty through choices and the limits of having no qualifications had taken a toll on her family. Unlike the nice keepsake box that I had symbolizing beautiful memories of my life, her's in contrast seemed shattered by abuse, neglect and trauma yet she was such a beautiful women who needed a lot of support.

As time went on, I discovered that some families were well known to the police during Christmas season for violence and it's sad to think that children were often a witness to it. Even swearing to a partner/spouse which is often caused by anger, to intimidate and control a situation in order to instigate fear should not be tolerated and is a form of psychological abuse/violence. This Christmas season may it be violence free for many especially where children are concerned.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas cards, kit set furniture and trust

This year with all the flurry and end of year work party breakups (3 weeks off work) and a family crisis, I forgot all about giving out Christmas cards to fellow colleagues at work and for my children to give out to their friends. It's like a ritual 'thank you card' to people for sharing a part of your life during the year and similar to gift giving.

But one thing I have enjoyed is taking time out to assemble a kitset of drawers which I've been needing for a while. I like the idea of being able to create something (as if I've got carpentry skills) from a box although it does take a bit of time, patience and the art of translating instructions into actions. I find it very stimulating, challenging with neat rewards at the end of the ordeal.

It reminds me, in this Christmas period, about trust. It took me a long time to assemble the set of drawers and often it takes people a long time to build trust between friends. It's a strong character trait to be a trustworthy person as a wisdom choice about having integrity. Sadly this is lacking in today's society of 'white lies' and compromise in doing things without fear of taking responsibility.

Children on the other hand can trust blindly, hence the warning for 'stranger danger'. That's why we should monitor our children's websites and between spouses/partners it's about freely sharing Facebook passwords without having to delete anything. Trust goes a long way and with it we can gain more respect, love and people will honour you for it especially children.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Favourite Christmas Carols over the years

This still remains as one of my favourite Christmas Carols that I learnt to sing in our church youth choir as a teenager and when we would go out carolling in 2 hired buses till after midnight on Christmas Eve to church members houses and the neighbours would come along to listen.

My other favourite Christmas carols are: "Away in a Manager", "Oh come all ye faithful", "Oh little town of Bethlehem" and "Joy to the world". I remember my parents had a Jim Reeves casette tape that they would play in the car and I got to know all of his renditions as well.

It was also interesting to listen to the backgrounds of many of the Christmas carols on Radio Rhema (NZ's National Christian radio station) that explained how they came about and the countries that they originated from.

I hope that our children in schools and churches all over the world are still learning Christmas carols as they have become a special part of the festive season and a timely reminder of the real reason for the season ie. the birth of Christ and not so much about Santa and his elves, Christmas shopping and Christmas feasting. It's really about God gifting us with the birth of His son to change our lives for good.

P.S. I have a poll that you are most welcome to enter your experiences on too.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A second prize giving winner - overcoming obstacles

Last night was another winner for our middle child having received awards that included a certificate for top literacy prize in her class with a book prize and a $ voucher. Congratulations my dear, you have overcome obstacles and still achieved. May God bless you in your journey ahead.

Teachers have a lot of influence on a child's achievement (both +ve and -ve) which is often underestimated. Having been a secondary school English teacher myself, it takes a lot of determination for a student to succeed despite this. I learnt this through my own experience in education in Mangere where I had a mix of both inspirational teachers and lazy, couldn't-care-less self-centred teachers who really didn't bother to teach students well.

Although I wasn't the 'best' teacher when I first started in my teaching career, I know that I certainly tried to make a positive difference and I especially observed this when I became a teacher for a few years and witnessed office politics and teachers behaving badly in and out of the classroom. One of the main reasons I stayed clear of staff rooms and why I am very interested in my children's educational environment.

Today, I am very involved in my children's education and keep abreast of what they are experiencing in the classroom in daily interacting with them in conversations about how their day went. I try not to 'rescue' them and allow leeway in letting them make their own decisions, mistakes (sometimes) and to explore their ideas. Our two elder children have achieved well, thus far, and we are thankful to God. Malo le taumafai.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Academic Achievement Awards - Generational Inspirations

Last night we attended our eldest child's prizegiving and we were pleasantly surprised that she achieved the academic award for her year with a trophy and book prize by Bear Grylls (a favourite sporting author of mine) with an accompanying certificate and we gave her a box of chocolates.

It took me back to the times when my parents encouraged us to do well in school, to listen to the teacher and do what they say. To my folks, education was one of the keys to achieving well in life after loving your God, your family and serving as well as being humble. They gave and accepted no excuses and provided for us an environment whereby we were able to excel if we wanted to.

Our eldest deserves the accolades as I observed the late nights, discussing ideas and planning ahead. The learning programme that is project based at the school definitely sets up the individual to learn for a life time with emphasis on research, self directed learning and time management. These are some of the aspects that I encourage students with at the degree level and that she is learning.

Well done, eldest one, may you continue to learn, to mature and to succeed in your endeavours to add to the things that my parents taught me, that I now teach you, and that we hope will succeed from generation to generation. Ia manuia.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

There's no time like the present...

Today I went to work in my jandals, I know typical Samoan (in Samoa it's perfectly fine) and got some wonderful news that one of the Year 3 Bachelor of Social work students that I had been supporting had passed her oral presentation exams, handed in her last essays and is set for graduation next year. Her story is simply inspirational.

This is absolutely amazing as (I know she won't mind me sharing her story) I met her as a Certificate of Social services, level 4 student some 3+ years ago. She was accepted into the degree programme and was a high performing student and was expected to cruise through this year being her last with sights set on graduation.

During the year, she'd ask me to check her essays and they were consistently on track, however, she had been experiencing headaches and thought it was migraines until she was sent to the hospital in August and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in her brain that needed urgent treatment. I was surprised to see her in September after her surgery looking very different.

Her radiation and treatments started and her hair fell out but she was fiercely determined to complete her degree. In her final presentation she taught me about some of the tools that she had learned: about having karakia (Maori word for prayer) every morning and evening; about having a daily 'gratitude' journal, a positive frame of mind and she smiled throughout her journey. She taught me that today is a present a gift to be cherished.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas to come with 2015 a year of Harvest

Only a couple more weeks to Christmas and already it's at a frenetic pace since last week with so much to do. This week I have to attend three school prizegivings, a school Xmas break up, an end of year concert with lots in between and hoping to have a relaxful weekend at the end of it all.

Am also considering my study pathway for next year with ideas earlier on a 1 year Diploma of Publishing course of study which in fact costs the same as a Masters 1 year course i.e. a Master in Educational Leadership which I am now considering or even a MPh which is a 1 year Master in Philosophy studying a subject in your chosen field.

Still not sure but contemplating what the year ahead will bring with various plans yet just trusting that God will show me the correct path to take. Am looking forward ahead to 2015 and the promises that has been said about a 'year of harvest.'

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Niece's wedding at 'Castaways' Waiuku

Niece's wedding at 'Castaways' Waiuku

Niece walks down the aisle with black sand beach in the background
Yesterday my family attended the wedding of my neice and her beau at 'Castaways' in Waiuku just a 45 minute drive out into rural Auckland. It was a beautiful day for her family and friends at the cliff top wedding and we had to make sure that our little one didn't run off past the harekeke (flax bushes) with its sheer drop onto the black sand beach below.

One thing I've learnt about weddings over the years is that much planning, fanfare and $ are spent on the wedding day but the actual real work for the couple begins the day after when the marriage begins and especially after the honeymoon ends.

I love weddings and have happily made silk wedding bouquets and flower arrangements over the years, however, I think it's probably one of the most important vows that an individual can make to another and especially to God about living faithfully throughout the turmoils that life can throw.

I wish this couple the best for their future and trust that they will remain strong in their commitment to be faithful to each other and especially in their commitment and vow to God. May any curses be nullified, as the pastor prayed and "ia fua tele le nui" (may there be many young coconuts - literal Samoan saying) which means may they be blessed with many children.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Poem "Little Runner" by T Fritz Filisi

Our little runner - who likes to run where others walk

Sharing a neat poem written by my husband Fritz about our little rocket.

by T Fritz Filisi (c) 2014

You sing so beautifully
carefree and speak of amazing encounters
communicate clearly
speak of love and forgiveness
hugs and kisses
sorry for the happenings
three wonderful years of growth
laughter and joy are your ways

tonight you inspire us once again
songs of freedom fill your heart
swing, slide, the castle and sand
you want more so you explore
around the basin you walk
three years from birth till now

you want to run ahead of everyone
you say you are a winner
you say you will never give up
and you ran and made it to the first stop
from the mouth of a baby comes encouragement
we were amazed at your achievement
you walk and run the talk
doer of inspiring words

you leave your footprints in our hearts
and we marvel at your awesomeness
unique in every way
may you be nurtured in growth and admiration
when in your full potential in maturity will not be an end
but inspire us all to follow a trend
your honesty is duly noted

when you were tired you stop and want a free ride
but then you see the end product
the park is just around the corner
you said you will never give up
you said you are a winner
you ran all the way and claimed your spot

I thought what a lesson to learn
some just need to see a goal and summon more strength
others just need to talk and walk
one step, two step until you reach the end
yes you are a winner
yes you never give up
talk walk run

thank you for reminding us how it is done
I treasure your words of wisdom
we are blessed to have you my little friend
you have inspired us to keep on keeping on
a winner will never give up till the end

Friday, 5 December 2014

He Waka Hiringa - Masters Exhibition

We say farewell today to Dr Manulani Meyer who leaves Te Wananga o Aotearoa back to the shores of her home in the Islands of Hawaii. Going to miss her especially as she had already accepted to be one of my PhD supervisors but hope to keep in touch with her.

This particular Masters programme is the first of its kind in the world and upholds the importance of indigenous knowledge much of which has become lost and only found in museums, old photos and books where current indigenous generations are no longer the holders of the knowledge etc.

I thank God for allowing me the privilege of learning and accessing much knowlege about old Samoa in my first Masters thesis (Geography) through my parents and grandmother and some of the elders who have since passed on. I hope that my writings soon to be published, will reflect some of that knowlege to future generations.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Weetbix "Tryathlon" Champions

A pic with World Champion Shotput athlete Valerie Adams
Yesterday my children competed in the 'Weetbix Tryathlon' in Manukau which was a 50 - 75m swim, 8km bike and run. Both finished their respective races and one even got to have a pic with Valerie Adams (albeit reluctantly - rather shy).

My only claim to fame with Valerie Adams, is that we both went to the same high school of Nga Tapuwae College and were both brought up in Mangere. She has gone on to become a champion athlete, is currently the Sportsperson of the year for Manukau (13th year running) and again a World Shotput champion medal/cup winner (7th year). She was in tip top shape and very supportive of the event.

It would be neat to see more Pasifika/Maori students attending such events as there were many palagi but fewer of our students/parents but I think that it will grow with many now seeing the importance of keeping not only our minds learning but also spirit/soul and body fit, it will only increase in future participation. Go our champions!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Crafts and Creativity runs in the family

My creative child's lil loombands

My special lil gift
These are some of my creative child's recent creations with loombands that swept through as a craze earlier in the year. There are a couple of Aerials (mermaids) and a Rapunzel (with the long golden yellow hair). The one on my purse was gifted to me and is shown to my friends with pride.

When I reflect upon the creativity gene in my family it definitely runs from mum and growing up I remember watching her create amazingly tasty meals, beautiful baking and she could make lovely dresses and even our school uniforms. Amazing on precision and the creativity has been passed on to the 3 of us.

My year older sister Norma (gifted with the painting I gave her) and her children. You can check out her blog on:  and my younger sister who is gifted at line drawings and then myself and my children.

Monday, 1 December 2014

'Love bears, believes, hopes, endures...'

Got so inspired with a gift that I gave to my sister that I painted one for my family along the same lines but with a Christmas feel to it. I've just shortened the biblical verse of I Corinthians 13: 7 which was incorporated into our Fiji wedding ceremony years ago by our officiating minister the late Rev Kenape Faletoese.

Can't believe that it's Christmas in just 3 weeks and looking forward to the break away from work and spending time with my family. Have already plans for relaxing with the family, with painting and writing some more in the mix.

This week in particular will be busy with supporting family members in the 'Weetbix Tryathlon', a violin recital, a wedding to attend and much, much more. I also made a kiwifruit cake from my mum's recipes years ago and the family really liked it with lemon cream cheese frosting that I've had requests to make it up again and then will post up a pic and the recipe...