Inspirational Story: Success Against The Odds

Max Candy Was A Big, Bouncy, Bonny Boy

Max Candy Was a Big, Bonny, Five Kilo Baby

Here’s a story about faith, determination and team work

It’s a success story which I hope will inspire you to strike out for what you want and achieve your goals, even if the odds are stacked against you.

It’s a story in which I faced my fears, followed my gut instincts and believed in myself when some medical practitioners wouldn’t. Today is my second son’s eight birthday and I’d like to share his homebirth story with you.

Best of all it’s a story with a very happy ending. Well, more of a happy beginning really, the beginning of Max’s life with us.

The Challenge

Having experienced a caesarian section with our first baby in 1998, and almost dying after the surgeon left me with a bleeding artery, I dreamed of giving birth to my second baby in the comfort and privacy of my own home. After that caesarian in an Auckland hospital I needed eight units of blood, and went back to surgery under general anesthetic for a second operation to stop the bleeding. There are six hours missing from my life, my first six hours as a new mother, but I’m lucky to have survived.

Statistics say that caesarian sections are more dangerous for the mother than vaginal births, and I was unfortunate enough to experience that first hand. I wanted to have a home birth with my first baby but I ended up going to hospital and being convinced to have a caesarian because the doctor thought I was having a big baby. They got that right as Luke weighed in at 10lb 12oz (4.9kg).

Since baby Luke was a week overdue, and so large, I wanted to have my second baby early in the hope that she or he would be smaller. I was delighted when I went into labour ten days before my due date on a Monday morning.

The Struggle

At first labour was very slow and I wasn’t sure if it was the real thing. I went for a long walk on the beach, had a siesta and was examined by Alison at 4pm and found to be 3cm dilated. So far so good. For the uninitiated I’m referring to the cervix, which needs to be 10cm dilated before the baby can squeeze through it. I slept a little that night.

By Tuesday morning I was 5cm dilated. My friend Jayne arrived and another friend, Mel, looked after three year old Luke for us. Me, Jayne and Rich hung out, picked flowers, pottered round the garden, and got things ready. Alison came back at 2pm and I was happy when she said she was going to stay now and started setting up her equipment. The four of us laughed, chatted and listened to reggae. The pain got worse but not too bad, I was in and out of the bath and took a few walks, kept eating and drinking throughout. Around 6pm Alison broke my bulging waters ~ woosh, I was soon fully dilated.

Pushing that baby out was hell, but thank heavens it only lasted 45 minutes. I was in agony and changed position with every contraction. I touched the baby’s head as it crowned, then Alison said the baby had the cord round its neck and I let out a terrible wail. “But not tightly” she added. I gave a huge push.

The Reward

Out the baby came, strong and healthy, another big boy. My entire body had split twain in two, at least if felt like that, but my amazing doctor came to the house and sewed me back together again. I was so exhausted I fell asleep while she did it.

None of us could believe that the baby weighed 11lb 1oz (5kg), even more than Luke, who’d been delivered by caesarian because he was so big. We decided to call the new arrival Max which means ‘the greatest’.

I soon recovered and healed fast. I felt vindicated ~ now I knew not only could I grow big strong babies, but I could push them out the natural way too. I was so happy that I’d finally had the home birth I wanted, surrounded by people I knew and trusted.

That night our oldest son, Luke, stayed with Mel and the next day me, Rich and baby Max had a well deserved lie in.

Good luck with all your plans! I hope you succeed in making YOUR dreams come true.

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Related Articles:

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes
>> Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once
>> Changing Crappiness Into Happiness

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101 Ways To Feel Happy

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

Do you want to feel happier than you already are? Do you find that most self-help books are too long, detailed, embarrassing or complicated?

The simple solution is these 101 quick, easy and free ways to make you feel happy right now. They’ll help you get the big picture on how you can feel happier, and from there you can start to add more ideas of your own. Make sure you get your daily dose of happiness, because life’s too short to be miserable.

I’ve read enough self-help and personal development books to fill a couple of tea chests, and I’ve traveled all over the world in search of happiness and fulfillment. So now you don’t have too. Here’s the most important stuff you need to do to make you feel happier, all compressed into one quick list.

If you haven’t already had your happy fix today, or if you want to feel even happier, try these 101 quick, simple ideas, but maybe not all on the same day.

Please, dip in to these happy hints, try them out one by one and start to feel happier day by day:

1. Smile.
2. Connect with nature.
3. Surround yourself with positive people in person or online.
4. Do something you’ve always enjoyed.
5. Do something you’ve never done before but have always wanted to try.
6. Learn something new.
7. Smell something that makes you happy: a mandarin, your lover’s perfume, chocolate, you decide.
8. Reward yourself for your good habits.
9. Eat something that makes you happy, but not too much if it’s fattening.
10. Spend time with a good friend.
11. Touch something that makes you happy: a cat, velvet, the bark of a tree? Take time to notice.
12. Don’t worry now, worry later.
13. Say, or sing, something that makes you happy.
14. Challenge yourself, I dare you.
15. Look at something that makes you happy.
16. Stop procrastinating, do something.
17. Take a small step towards your goal.
18. Congratulate yourself.
19. Tell someone you love them.
20. Do a good deed.
21. Face your fears.
22. Read a book you love.
23. Get outside.
24. Spend time with inspiring people or read about someone who inspires you.
25. Clear out your junk, literally.
26. Let go of negative memories.
27. Dwell on positive things from your past.
28. Be creative.
29. Dare yourself to do something.
30. Give someone an unexpected gift.
31. Change your habits just this once, do something unexpected.
32. Watch the sunset.
33. Get up for sunrise.
34. Open a savings account.
35. Be active.
36. Plan for success.
37. Eat something healthy.
38. Trust your instincts.
39. Follow your passion.
40. Throw a party, or plan to soon.
41. Avoid drama queens and energy suckers, you know who they are.
42. Write stuff down, keep a diary.
43. Set a goal.
44. Clean your house, bit by bit.
45. Say no.
46. Spend a day alone.
47. Devote a day to family.
48. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
49. Wear your favourite outfit.
50. Be present.
51. Go for a bike ride.
52. Do something you loved as a kid that you haven’t done for years.
53. Forgive someone, especially yourself.
54. Go slow.
55. Have a meal somewhere different: try a picnic.
56. Avoid advertisements.
57. Pick a bunch of flowers and put them in your house.
58. Ban all media for the day.
59. Let something slide.
60. Display a colorful fruit bowl and eat one or two pieces a day.
61. Be romantic.
62. Play a game: uno, monopoly, chess, poker.
63. Make a smoothie.
64. Have a siesta.
65. Do something you’ve been putting off.
66. Dream big.
67. Start small.
68. Seek out supportive and like-minded people.
69. Understand that all things come to an end.
70. Feed the ducks.
71. Persevere: pick up something you gave up on.
72. Start a new habit, a good one.
73. Look at yourself in the mirror, pick what you like best and flaunt it.
74. Seek sensuous activities and enjoy them.
75. Look for funny things and have a laugh.
76. Rest up.
77. Change your routine.
78. Take a photo, look back at old ones.
79. Stretch your body.
80. Meditate.
81. Write a mantra.
82. Focus.
83. Don’t buy something, see if you miss it. Put the cash in a savings account instead.
84. Notice what makes you happy and use it in sad times.
85. Ignore people who annoy you, stop being with them.
86. Play hide and seek with some kids.
87. Put a picture of something you want on your wall.
88. Tell someone your dreams.
89. Love yourself.
90. Be grateful.
91. Visualise.
92. Unblock.
93. Use your brain: try a crossword or suduko.
94. Make a good choice.
95. Acknowledge your feelings.
96. Go on a journey, long or short.
97. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally connect with.
98. Be grateful for life.
99. Write a poem.
100. Teach someone something you know well.
101. Choose to be happy every day.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Related Articles:

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes
>> Give Fear The Finger And Live The Life You Want
>> Live Your Dream In A Material World
>> Seven Reasons To Go For A Walk

Please Help Me Get More Readers

If you like this article, please Tweet it or tell a friend. I hear that if you Digg it, or bookmark it on Delicious or Stumbleupon, that will grow my readership as well. Many thanks for your help with this, I appreciate it.

Celebrate With Chocolate Fudge Cake

I’ve already written about the importance of celebrating your successes and recognising what makes you happy. Now it’s time to combine these two ideas and, drum roll, make a cake!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Well, who needs an excuse? What could be more enjoyable than making a cake from scratch? When was the last time you did it?

Kids love baking so it’s fun for all the family and it’s an easy recipe to try even if you’ve never done any baking before. Best of all, when you’ve finished you’ll have the most delicious cake ever, with plenty to feed ten or more people, and after one bite they’ll be friends for life.

Now, I admit, this cake is probably not that good for you, but it’s not like you’re going to make it every day is it? So don’t deny yourselves, pick something you really should celebrate and get baking, then fill your home with the rich aroma of chocolate and the warmth of special friends to share it with.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Highly calorific and truly delicious. With many thanks to the excellent Kiwi chef, Julie Le Clerc for the recipe.

Cake Ingredients

1 Cup water

250g dark chocolate

250g butter

2 cups caster sugar

1.5 cups Self Raising Flour

0.25 cups cocoa powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Icing Ingredients:

0.75 cups dark choc in pieces

0.5 cups sour cream

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and flour 24cm spring-form cake =
tin (warning, the cake rises a lot!)

2. Combine water, butter, choc and sugar and melt in microwave, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool to room temp.

3. Sift together flour and cocoa and gently stir in choc mixture. Now lightly whisk in the beaten eggs and vanilla.

4. Pour into prepared cake tin. Bake one hour or until skewer comes out clean. I’ve noticed this cake often takes longer than an hour to be fully cooked. If it’s starting to get overcooked on top then put foil on it after an hour. Allow cake to cool before removing from tin.

5. Once cold, ice with choc icing.

Icing

Melt choc in microwave, stir in sour cream to form smooth icing. Spread over top and sides of the cold cake and allow to set.

Enjoy!

If you want me to email you the recipe in a print format just post your comment below saying: yes, I’ve got something to celebrate, gimme that recipe right now! I’ll send it to straight to you.

Have fun celebrating your successes and good luck with your plans!

Thanks for reading, feel free to add a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

>> Blogging Away With Growing Success

>> For Posterity’s Sake

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Seven Reasons To Go For a Walk

The Candy kids doing the Waiheke Island sculpture walk with granny

The Candy kids doing the Waiheke Island sculpture walk with granny

Are you looking for fun, cost effective ways to entertain the whole family? Then you’ll love going for a walk.

I know, it’s not exactly rocket science, but do families actually go for a walk together any more? Traditionally they used to go for a walk once a week after a big Sunday lunch, but now I’m not so sure. Anyway, to make the most of going for a walk you really should do it more than once a week.

We’re always out walking and we’re still discovering more walks to do around Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, as well as more ways to get our kids to do them. I think the Candy kids might have finally got used to the enforced marches now as they hardly even bother to complain any more. Our four year old even likes to boast about how strong her legs are. I wonder where she gets it from…

How To Get Your Kids To Love Walking

We’ve been taking our kids out on grand treks for years and that’s one tip I’ve got for getting them to do it ~ make the whole thing sound totally amazing. Even if you’re only going on a ten minute walk round the block, don’t ever call it a walk! Call it a jungle exploration looking for endangered species, call it following a river to find the source, call it building up an appetite for a yummy lunch, but never, ever, call it a walk.

When Luke was two we’d take him walking on Waiheke Island in the amusingly named Whakanewha Regional Park. Well, it’s amusing if you’re a boy under ten and you know that in Maori the ‘wh’ sound is pronounced ‘f’. Anyway, to get him moving jam sandwiches were good.

Scenic Coromandel walk in New Zealand

Scenic Coromandel walk in New Zealand

The other alternative was to take a small cuddly toy and run ahead to hide it from him, then the little lad could look for it and find it a hundred meters down the track. It’s amazing how far you can get a two year old to walk by doing this. If you forget to take a cuddly toy, you can just play a walking version of hide and seek. This time you run ahead and hide behind a tree then leap out on top of your unsuspecting child just as they’re starting to get bored. This does become a little embarrassing if there are a lot of other walkers, but I’ve got used to the odd stares people give me as they discover me squatting in the bushes. It’s all part of the fun.

Long Walks and Short Walks are Good Walks

Also, bribery helps and our kids would trek across the Sahara desert for a $1.20 bag of sweets. But only use this if you’re really desperate. You don’t need to go on a long walk to benefit from walking though. A twenty minute walk around your neighbourhood taking time to notice which flowers are blooming and what birds are singing will do the trick just as well. City-slickers can substitute people watching and vehicle spotting or head to the nearest park.

Seven Reasons For You To Take A Hike

Here are seven good reasons why you’ll enjoy a regular walk, be it long or short, solo or with company:

1. You’ll have fun.

2. You’ll get fitter and maybe even slimmer.

3. You’ll visit new places.

4. You’ll be outside.

5. You’ll save money because it’s free. Just make sure you don’t walk round the mall.

6. You’ll notice things you’d never see from the car.

7. You’ll can talk to the kids or a friend without distractions. Or go for a walk alone and enjoy an uninterrupted conversation with yourself.

Happy hiking!

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> The Drawbacks of Walking: being attacked by leeches
>> How To Listen To Kids

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Winter School Holidays: Sunshine Coast, Australia

Looking South from the top of Mt Coolum

Looking South from the top of Mount Coolum


The Candy kids are now enjoying their two week Queensland winter holiday. They’ve had fun and enjoyed the opportunity to do stuff that’s usually strictly forbidden, like watch TV and play on their computer games in the mornings. Ahem, they might be doing that right now actually.

But when I’ve got a bit of writing done, I’m always keen to get the kids out of the house and exercise them. We’re all happier with lots of running around and fresh air. Free activities are best, so the last two weeks have been an endless round of walks in national parks and on the beach, scooting, frisbee, football, handball, fishing, tree climbing, playing tiggy, basketball and loitering with intent at various playgrounds. Swimming at the Noosa Acquatic Center isn’t quite free but it’s got to be one of the best deals in town. There have been plenty of play dates and sleepovers too, so we’ve usually had more than three kids to entertain.

Explore the Sunshine Coast More

We’ve had time to visit a couple of new places in the Sunshine Coast too.

Kennilworth

This one horse town in the Hinterland, about a 45 minute drive from the coast, has a brilliant kids playground with a flying fox, a merry-go-round and a lot of unusual equipment. There’s a dairy opposite where you can have a cheese tasting and buy an ice cream. Take a picnic or grab a pie in town. Another great free day out. Next time I’ll combine this with a trip to Maleny which has lovely bush walks.

Mount Coolum

The landscape round the Sunshine Coast is quite flat, but every now and then a mountain rises up out of nowhere. Some are perfect cone-shaped peaks, but Mount Coolum is more of a dome. It’s a steep walk but after half an hour you’ll be rewarded with stunning views all down the coast both north and south, and inland to the hinterland. We even saw some whales spouting out at sea. Free activities don’t get much better than this and just like fellow Kiwi Sir Edmund Hilary, who we were discussing on the way there, the kids loved being fearless mountaineers and conquering the mountain.

Caloundra Rollerdrome

This was a blast from the past. Overcome your fear of shared footwear and ignore the pong of hundreds of sweaty feet. Buckle yourself into some rollerblades or rollerskates and whizz, stumble or fall round the rink, while the DJ plays Michael Jackson, Abba and Beyonce for you. They even organise games, which stops the kids from getting bored and keeps them rolling for the full two hour sesssion. It all comes in at just under $50 for four people but we had a laugh and got a free workout so I’d love to go again.

Enjoy the Photos!

Hinterland views from the top of Mt. Coolum

Hinterland views from the top of Mount Coolum

View north to Noosa from Mount Coolum

View north to Noosa from Mount Coolum

Weekend fun at the Noosa public pool

Weekend fun at the Noosa public pool

Everyone loves the red rocket

Everyone loves the red rocket

Adorable Roller Girl

Adorable Roller Girl

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

Read More About Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

If you haven’t already read these stories about things to do on the Sunshine Coast check out:

Culture Shock for New Immigrants to Australia

Sunshine Coast Tourist Guide: Family Activities

Sunshine Coast Tourist Guide: Australia Zoo

Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Live Your Dream in a Material World.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

How To Listen To Kids

Candy Family Communication Problems

Happy, Chatty Candy Kids

Happy, Chatty Candy Kids

I’ll be the first to admit that often I don’t really listen to my kids. In the mornings they’ll be chirping away merrily about this and that while I prepare sandwiches, make breakfast, look for clothes and add to the shopping list, usually all at the same time. When I’m able to make a conscious effort to really listen to them, sometimes what I hear surprises me.

This morning my second born son, aged seven, forgot to take his violin to school despite being reminded in the morning.

“Oh dear, how many times did I ask you if you’d put the violin in the car?”

I irritatingly asked.

Poor kid, he already felt bad about it and I needn’t have made him feel worse. So I couldn’t argue when he replied:

“Twice, but I didn’t hear you.”

My four year old has an interesting way of thinking too and is showing an early grasp of maths since she loves to count with her fingers. The other day someone asked what time it is and I said it was three thirty.
“How much is thirty?” she asked.

“Well,” I stupidly explained, “thirty minutes is half an hour so it’s half past three.”

“No!” She bellowed, holding her tiny paws in the air and clearly infuriated with this answer.

“How many is it in fingers?”

Yes, it’s definitely time for me to listen more closely and think like a kid myself.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!