A Butterfly Costume

It is late and I have been thinking. Not a good combination as I am very tired. But I have had so many thoughts racing through my head recently and I thought that if I type, a blog might appear.

So here goes.

Tonight was another disco. This time it was for Jack at his school. A pyjama disco. The pyjamas that Jack really wanted to wear had a massive tear in the knee that just appeared out of nowhere, according to Jack, before we had to leave so I used my amazing sewing skills to repair it 😉 A couple of weeks ago we had a disco to attend for India at her kindy. India enjoyed her disco so much. Jack, well, he enjoyed hanging out with his friends, but isn’t the dancing type. All India wanted to do at her disco was dance with me. I encouraged her to dance with her friends, but she wanted Mummy. So we got out on the dance floor and boogied. She smiled and laughed and twirled and was delighted with it all. “Who Let the Dogs Out” became a hit at home.

I look back at the things that I did as a kid, and one memory sticks out. My first school dance…I forget what grade I was in, maybe 4 or 5. It was a dress up dance or costume party and I was so excited to be going. My Dad was making my outfit….it was a butterfly outfit if I remember correctly. I remember its enormous wings. He spent such a long time getting it made, and being made by my Dad, it was going to be the best darn butterfly outfit he could possibly make, architectually designed and built to last.

I am sure that I was impatient through the whole process. But the outfit was made and the big night was finally here….so much effort put into the evening…not forgetting that I had two other brothers and a sister in tow, who I think were in costumes as well. My parents bundled us all in the car (which I now know as a parent that this is so much more difficult than it just sounded) and drove us to the dance.

I was buzzing.

I remember feeling like such a grown up going out at night to spend time with my friends and see what costumes they were wearing. We arrived, I walked in and my heart sank. My friends were all dressed in beautiful costumes as princesses and fairies. They looked so pretty! All of sudden my young heart and mind actually cared what I looked like. I was such a tomboy and still to this day sometimes it takes effort to dress up and stick on a bit of makeup. But in this moment I felt like I didn’t really fit in with these beautiful costumes my friends had on. I had never felt this way so intensely before. I had never really cared what I wore or how I looked. The night suddenly didn’t seem like so much fun anymore.

I started feeling angry with my Dad, why did he make me this costume? It’s not as pretty as the other costumes! How selfish and stupid I was to think this! I remember the night only got worse as not long into the dance I became really ill and proceeded to throw up everywhere. Mum and Dad bundled us all back into the car and home again. On the car ride home I started feeling sorry. I started wishing I could have changed my attitude. I can’t remember what I had said to my parents and what they said back, but I was reminded how much effort my Dad had put in. I wished I hadn’t felt jealous of my friends and appreciated my Dad more.

Becoming a parent has made me see things the way my parents saw them. Now I look at this story through the eyes of my parents. In my minds eye I can see them thinking “Why did we go tonight? We should have stayed home! She puked everywhere! What were we thinking doing this with four kids?! How can we get this girl to stop being so selfish? Why can’t she see the effort that was put in? Why can’t she see that her costume was one of the best ones there? Why can’t she see her own beauty and be happy in her own skin? How can we show her, teach her, these things?”.

As a parent you do things for your kids because you love them, you would give your own life for them, throw yourself to the wolves if you had too. The power of that love is something that is so great, so intensely strong, so beautiful and so fierce. I am pretty sure my Dad made my outfit because we may not have had the money to go out and buy a costume….or perhaps he wanted the challenge of creating something different for his daughter to wear. He loved building stuff and using his hands. But I know a whole lot of love went into that costume.

Needless to say, I learnt a lot from that dance. A lesson in being thankful, that love was shown from my Dad through creating this costume and not letting jealousy control my heart.

Going to school discos on a freezing cold night may not be the thing that I want to do, as reading a good book in front of the fire is way more appealing sometimes. But for Jack it is an oppurtunity of having shared experiences outside of school that help cement friendships; it is teaching him to become actively involved in his community; going to these things teaches my children that friendships mean putting in effort; teaching them not to be afraid to get out there and try new things, meet new people and have fun with their friends.
This has been my journey also.
I have to be in life to enjoy life. Since moving to Christchurch I have had to get out there and meet new people, something that I have found to be such a hard thing to do in the past, but I am discovering how much fun it is. I am shifting my attitude to view these events such as discos as a great excuse to see other Mums and enjoy their company. The effort to get to these things can sometimes be annoying, but the look of pure delight on my daughters face as we twirl to the music, or my son as he tells me the stories of what he and his friends did instead of dancing, is just delightful. I don’t want my selfishness to get in the way of having a good time. My parents didn’t have to go to my first school dance, they could have decided to stay in, Dad didn’t have to make my costume, but he did and we went and the lessons I learnt from that experience, as hard as they were, were all good for me to learn.

On the road

Since moving to Christchurch and driving around I have not once been at the other end of someone going a bit mental on the road. Driving around Brisbane I would get really annoyed at the traffic, the traffic jams, stupid drivers….and did I mention the traffic jams? Driving (or even walking) around Christchurch I find myself totally amazed by how nice drivers are. I often have people letting me in, signalling for me to cross if I am turning into a street, waving a sorry or thank you depending on whether they have cut you off or you have let them in. When I am walking I often get cars stopping before and even when they get onto a roundabout to allow me and the kids to cross. That is annoying sometimes, firstly because I am trying to teach my children to wait for the cars to pass and secondly because they have annoyed drivers behind them!

One afternoon after school we were crossing the road at a roundabout and a guy in his car pulled up just before he got to the roundabout to let us cross. He signalled and mouthed “please…you go…you go” I signalled and mouthed back “thank you very much”. I burst out laughing once I crossed the road….we could have actually spoken to each other as his roof was down and he was only a couple of metres away.

I must say though, I don’t drive even half as much as I used to in Brisbane. Maybe its just been a coincidence that I am on the road when all the nice people are 🙂 Really though, getting across town in Christchurch can take 20 minutes on a good run. I try not to drive the car too much these days. Dan takes the bike whenever he can and the kids love to bike or scoot to school. Supermarkets aren’t far away so it’s only ever a short drive if I take the car. Dan and I are waiting for the day when we become true locals ie: the day that we complain that getting across town takes forever or that the other side of the city is ages away.

We visited friends who have moved into a great house up on the hills the other weekend. Awesome views of the city from there. I looked out admiring the view and realised how much I love this city. The weekend Dan and I visited Christchurch before we moved over we were surprised how small the city was. That weekend we met new friends that lived in a little town outside of the city and it only took 20 minutes to get there. I love that it doesn’t take long to get places in this city.

I was concerned that the city would be hard to live in post earthquakes, but we have found it to be quite the opposite. Plug for Christchurch: This is a great city…. and I really love it! There is always something interesting happening around town, yes, there is a lot of road work EVERYWHERE, but hey, you get that after massive earthquakes. The people are genuinely nice and so lovely on and off the road!

The Familiar

I was over at our friends house the other night for a meeting to organise something happening at church. I looked around the room and was really excited. I was excited about what we were planning…but I think I was more excited about planning it with these people. Yes, the event will be fun, but it is because of these people who will be there. People who are my family over here.

Dan was away for a couple of weeks a little while ago and I was still getting into the rhythm of a new baby….(who am I kidding, some days the rhythm is still being found). A few of my friends at church provided meals for me over this time……angels! They really saved me in such a simple way of giving. They would say it was the least they could do, but for me, knowing that they had their own families, children, busy lives and meals to make, it was such a tremendous way of giving that helped me so much! I am so grateful for those beautiful souls.

As I drove away from the meeting that night it really hit me that things were really familiar to me now. I walked to my car in a street I knew, I knew my way home, I passed the same old things in the car that I always do coming home from that direction of town. Walking the kids to school and kindy the other morning there was a real freshness and chill in the air, some people even had their fires going and the smell of smoke wafted through the suburb….winter is coming…something else that I am familiar with.

Friendships are becoming more familiar as I get to know people better. A friend popped over tonight while she was out walking. It was nice to see her and have a chat and know I didn’t have to worry what she thought of the state of my house – she didn’t care, even if I did. The easiness of conversations with Mums at school and kindy – so love my chats with those Mums.

I welcome these familiar feelings, this ease of friendships. It is comforting, especially when I miss my family. It only reassures me that this is home. That right now, for this time, this is home. I love that feeling!


I have been looking at the port hills with a type of yearning recently. I am longing to go for a drive, find a quiet place with a great view and sit for a while with paper and pen.

Good time out is good for my soul. I think I need to make it more regular. I like to “check in” with myself on how we are doing as a family, maybe even just sit and not even think for a bit, maybe write a bit, pray a bit, enjoy my surroundings….breathe. Just me. Alone. All by myself.

For different reasons I haven’t been able to make this happen. A new baby being one of them! I will though. With Jackson at school next week, India at kindy and Eli sleeping so much, I can make it happen.

Life is busy….I almost forgot how draining the first few weeks of a baby’s life can be! Eli is such a joy though. I wake in the middle of the night to him and count myself blessed. He is beautiful…a gift. Even though I stumble into his room, tired as, I know now how quickly these moments pass, how these are only a tiny dot on the timeline of my life. One day Jack and Indi were tiny beings in my arms and by the end of this year they will both be at school! Every part of me says “Kerry, enjoy your baby, enjoy your children while they are still children and still in your care”. So I talk softly to him, sing to him, kiss his soft little cheeks and just love him.

I sat down to read to my kids the other night. I love reading to them and have made it a practice since before they were even born. As I was reading, Jack and India tucked in close to me, Eli was asleep in my lap. I enjoy this time. Jack didn’t move OR talk, India snuggled in close. The silence, the stillness of my children, just listening. Then it was time for bed…..the stillness and silence ceased and as Jack and India were tired and grumpy there was great commotions about brushing teeth, toileting, even just getting their bodies into bed seemed to be asking too much of them.

Enjoying the moments. Enjoying life. Something I am going to do more of this year.

Crossing the Road

My friend’s father-in-law sells orchids and has a couple of green houses full of them. It was harvesting time and there were so many orchids left over that were “flawed” in some way that she handed out a boot load of them to her friends. These “flawed” flowers were simply amazing by the way. She came over one night and told me she went round to her neighbours with big bunches of flowers and her name on a card. She said it was a great way to meet them. What a fantastic idea! I told her I would be doing the same thing with all the flowers she had given me. Another friend brought over even more flowers…so I was all stocked up.

The kids and I got the bunches together and set out to meet our neighbours. We crossed the road and went next door and met some really lovely people. I have always found it hard meeting neighbours as people tend to keep to themselves wherever we have lived. There is always that initial awkwardness and silently hoping they don’t think you’re a crazy person.

I grew up in a neighbourhood that encouraged community. For a long time we didn’t have fences around our yard, and when one was put up, Dad built gates into every joining backyard. Kids climbed over trees or fences to reach other yards, Mum’s walked up the road to have a coffee and kids walked to school together in herds.

I’ll never forget the time I met some previous neighbours. I was mowing the lawn with a 5 month old Jack strapped on to my front. It was crazy, he was grizzly and it was hot, but I was determined to mow the lawn…on a mission…my neighbour walked over and sat on the steps with Jack while I finished the lawn. We had a great chat and it was really lovely and easy to talk after that.

It just takes that initial step. Someone putting themselves out there and reaching out. The flowers were warmly welcomed when they realised I wasn’t trying to sell them anything and I wasn’t a crazy person. The kids also brought that “cuteness” factor and my pregnant belly helped them realise I wasn’t likely to murder them. Each time we handed out flowers the kids and I would cross the road again and get some more. I crossed the road the other day to invite our neighbours to our kids birthday celebration. It gets a little easier each time you cross the road.


Jack sat down the other day and wrote one of his friends names from kindy all by himself. His friends name is Joe. I was really impressed. After the praise he received he wanted to write all of his friends names. I took this opportunity, because sitting Jack down and practicing his letters is usually a hard thing to do as he doesn’t really get into it, but writing his friends names was fun and he wanted to show his teachers the next day. I watched as he carefully copied the names I had written down on some paper. He laboured over every stroke, annoyed at himself when it wasn’t up to his standards. It was something really special to him and he wanted it just right.

He was really proud of his work and Dan and I made sure he knew we were proud. His face beamed. My heart beamed. I love seeing my children learn and play. It brings me so much joy. When Jack brings something home from kindy it usually hasn’t had any modifications done to it, no craft stuck on to it, just an object of great interest and importance to him. He has already imagined what it is and tells me all about it. It has a purpose, and there are many steps involved in how it works…and a LOT of talking to me about it. Then he will bring it to kindy over the following days and adjust things on it. A nail here, a piece of scrap plastic there. And hey presto, it is something even better than what it was originally. Love it.

I am enjoying watching this boy learn and grow. He loves talking and explaining his objects to me. It can be another noise in my ear when I am busy and he is on a role…sometimes he doesn’t stop talking all day. It can drive me crazy. But I need to remember to have patience. These are the things that are important to him. I want him to be able to talk to me about anything that is important to him, no matter what his age.  If I listen close enough there is a lot of stuff going on as he talks about his latest contraption….cognitive development, learning how to explain himself, learning the best ways to get someones attention, working through solutions to solve problems – even if they are imagined.

To be patient, to be listening.

One day I might listen close enough and hear him talking about his dreams, his futures, his failures, his faith, his struggles, his triumphs, his wife, his children and all the love, hope, sadness, and joys that those things can bring. And my heart will beam and break with him and I will continue to enjoy watching him learn and grow. From learning how to write simple words, to learning how to live life. From a small boy to a grown man….I am loving this adventure…this teaching him…and loving that we are in it together.