oantiphon

It’s O Antiphon time!!

I love traditions!

Growing up as number 4 I had the blessing of a family life well established with traditions.

Traditions for birthdays, Lent, Easter, Saint namesake feasts, Advent, Christmas…. each year marked out by treasured memories!

Creating traditions is therefore one of my most favorite aspects of parenthood! And discovering NEW old traditions, especially when it comes to our Catholic Faith…. well I’m like a child in a candy store!!!

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This year is the first year we will be adding the O Antiphons into our Advent traditions! (squeal!! :) )

In the evening prayer of the Church called Vespers, the beautiful prayer “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55) is preceded by an antiphon. In the 7 days leading up to Christmas, these antiphons all start with “O”. These beautiful antiphons find their origin in the Monastery’s of the 6th/7th centuries. They reflect the words of Isaiah anticipating the coming of the Messiah, crying out from the wilderness through time and into our hearts and homes. They are also the verses we commonly know from the Advent hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.….. Ah Ha! I hear you say :)

Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah:

O Sapientia (O Wisdom),

O Adonai (O Lord),

O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse),

O Clavis David (O Key of David),

O Oriens (O Rising Sun),

O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations),

and O Emmanuel!

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There are so many ways to add these beautiful prayers into our Advent celebrations and so many great resources online! As we are only beginning this year, I’m trying to not be too ambitious! :)

DECEMBER 17th – DAY ONE – “O WISDOM”

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O Wisdom…. how we all need the Wisdom of God!

King Solomon knew that Wisdom was greater than any treasure he could ask for.

“Come and teach us the way of prudence”

Prayer: I have downloaded and printed out this great prayer companion from Family, Feast and Feria which we will pray tonight at dinner time. We will also listen to these beautiful audio tracks of the antiphons being sung…. not to mention listen to “O Come O Come Emmanuel”…. here is one of my favorite versions… LISTEN HERE

Decoration: Red Poinsetta table cloth, Advent wreath, colouring in sheet (from Michele Quigley)

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Gift: Catholic Prayer book – I have some pretty amazing ladies who I know through online groups and they enjoy making prayer card images which they share with us all. I was able to take these beautiful prayers and put them together in a Diamond Photo 6 x 4 photo book. Each of the children received one this morning as their “O Wisdom” gift.  photo (12)

Fuzz and his prayer book!

Fuzz and his prayer book!

Food: I’ve heard sheep’s brains have been served as an option for today…. firstly I don’t think I could handle cooking them and secondly I think only Curly Sue would be brave enough to try them, seeing that she is my Lambs kidney fan!

So I’ve gone for a safer option and have made a version of my Date & Almond cocoa balls. I figured dates are rich in Selenium which is good for your brain and the almonds are a good source of protein :). Wisdom balls they are!

Recipe for “Wisdom Balls”

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- 1 packet of pitted dates chopped (I use scissors)

- 1/2 cup of water

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/4 cup cocoa powder

- 3 tbsps honey

- ground almonds ( I free pour this so it will make sense soon!)

1. Put chopped dates, water and vanilla into a saucepan and heat slowly until the mixture becomes completely mushy

2. Take off heat and add cocoa powder and honey. Stir until completely combined.

3. Now add ground almonds until you have a stiff enough dough to make into little balls.

4. Wet your hands (this helps them not get too sticky) and roll into balls.

5. Roll in ground almond or leave as is.

5. Refrigerate until firm.

Have a blessed day!!!!

Ruth

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Weapons for the Battle

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I am one of five, 4 girls and 1 boy.

My husband is one of five, 4 girls and 1 boy.

The genetic “math” then to us seemed as if we were likely to produce girls.

When we had our 20 week scan with OUR number five and for the first time we asked to be told

the sex, I think we were both rather shocked to learn that we were now the proud (slightly stunned)

parents of THREE boys and two girls.

THREE boys! Having only had a younger brother and my husband the only boy,

we felt like we were treading uncharted water.

When I watch my Mr 7 constructing intricately designed robots out of legos with a myriad of

weapons, dodge my Mr 3 as he catapults himself through the house with vehicles in hand or gaze

at the big blue wondering eyes of Mr 4 months, I am in awe of the task God has given us.

How are we to raise strong, virtuous, faithful men in a world that will do everything to pull them down?

So we are on a journey to discover what weapons we need to give our boys to fight the good fight.

This post I’m going to pick up HUMILITY.

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“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)

Well St James really hands it to us.

God will resist the proud.

If my boys are to grow in a relationship with God, then they must learn true humility.

Ouch. Humility hurts.

Humility is something we all rebel against and in a world that encourages us to strive daily to

achieve more, be more successful, earn more, own more… to be bigger and better in every way, it

is not surprising that it strikes us hard.

“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all

how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”

­­Saint Vincent de Paul

The weapon of humility therefore is something our sons MUST know how to wield. So how do we

go about teaching them true humility?

Firstly, we teach them about God.

NOT the vague, white bearded “God is watching us from a distance”, warm fuzzy character..

BUT the Alpha and Omega, omnipotent, GREAT I AM!!!

Small children have the incredible gift of grappling with and understanding the profound mysteries

of faith, because in their innocence they can believe without questioning and trust without fear.

They will listen to the story of Creation with wide eyed wonder and questioning minds!

They will marvel at the powerful God who strikes terror into the heart of Egypt to free His people!

They will cheer as the boy David slays the giant Goliath not by his might but by the power of God!

They will sit one eye covered, one eye open through the passion and death of Jesus, growing in deep respect

for a God who would suffer so much for them!

And through coming to understand the Awesomeness of God their Father,

they will come to understand their smallness, their weakness…

and that is the beginning of humilty.

They must then learn how to grow in humility not despair.

This part is a life long journey, but it can and needs to be taught to our boys from very young.

Put God first.

FIRST!

Not as an after thought, but as their first thought in all that they do.

“Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God)

No matter what they are doing, or who they are doing it with, EVERYTHING is done for the

Glory of God. All good, all praise is due to Him and they are merely his hands and feet in this

world. Their mission (my boys like missions) is to give God glory whether it be in their actions

towards others, their school work, sport, altar serving etc.

If that is their focus then the seed of

Humility has a chance to grow.

If they do something well and are acclaimed for it, they can rejoice and point to their Father in

Heaven saying “God is merciful and good. Let us give thanks!”.

If they work hard at their school and receive praise or awards, we can teach them to accept

gratiously, thank God, place their future once again in His hands, asking Him to guide them. If

they do well at sport, we can teach them to serve others and help the less skilled. We can teach

them to put the person first before the game outcome. We can teach them to play hard and well and

if there is success, be always curteous to the opposition and not boastful.

And at the end of each day, we can teach them how to examine their consciences and humble their

wee hearts in prayer, asking God for forgiveness.

Here is a great examination of conscience for children...

http://catholicparents.org/oxcart/examinationchild.html

Little step by little step we can equip our sons with the weapon of humilty, and let us not forget

that we too must be humble… mind you…. children have quite the knack of teaching us, their

parents, humility in quite orginal ways!!

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes

men as angels.”

–Saint Augustine

Next weapon: Self Control

Blessings!

Ruth

St Joseph - original painting by Ruth Green 2013

Wonderful St Joseph

It is the Feast of St Joseph, husband of Our Lady and foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a feast!!! :)

As each year of rich liturgical feasts and celebrations role by, I get more and more enthusiastic with incorporating them into our family life! Now the children are older and therefore more able to understand and participate, I have great joy planning for each big feast. I am also dutifully reminded by Sunshine and Master Luke about what I have done in the years past… just in case I forget :)

Last year I came across a truly beautiful Italian tradition for celebrating the Feast of St Joseph… A St Joseph Altar. Below are a few links to give you the history and also a peek at what others have done (not to mention a link to my last minute attempt last year! :))

- History of St Joseph Altar

- Shower of Roses 2013 St Joseph Altar

- Our humble attempt at a St Joseph Altar 2013

Therefore I am REALLY buzzing with excitement about tomorrow! :)

This is what we have planned to celebrate the wonderful, humble man who was given the precious role as head of the Holy Family.

ACTIVITIES:

- A simple family altar set up with pictures of St Joseph, Holy Family and candles

St Joseph picture

This is my latest edition to our holy pictures collection :) I LOVE the added gold highlights

- Family morning Rosary (Joyful Mysteries to meditate on the role of St Joseph)

- A St Joseph Mini Lapbook – I use a simple manila folder and the children cut, paste, fill out and colour to their age and stage :). I have put this together myself, so the link for the PDF is highlighted if you would like to download it. If you do, please make sure you link back here if shared. Thanks :)  St Joseph Mini Lapbook

- Sort the Order colouring in activity and pinned timeline – I have quite a lot of BRILLIANT Catholic colouring in books that I photocopy on a regular basis for my kids. I have sourced a range of pictures depicting scenes from the life of St Joseph. The kids will have to order them as a timeline correctly and after colouring them in (if we have time :)) they will pin them along a string chronologically above the family altar. Below are the three I have used for St Joseph.

Life of Mary Colouring book by Sr Karen Cavanagh

Life of Mary Colouring book by Sr Karen Cavanagh

Colouring Book about the Rosary - St Joseph Coloring Books

Colouring Book about the Rosary – St Joseph Coloring Books

Communion of Saints Coloring Book - Holy Imitation series

Communion of Saints Coloring Book – Holy Imitation series

- St Joseph Altar

Our parish is having a sung Latin Mass tomorrow evening at 6pm to celebrate the Feast. St Joseph has a very special place in the hearts of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (the order who look after our Parish). It is worth reading why… CLICK HERE!

Following the Mass we are going to have a shared feast to celebrate. We will decorate a St Joseph Altar and share in some of the traditional foods that are found in Italy on this feast. The kids and I are going to be VERY busy baking, cooking and crafting our contributions tomorrow!

Here is our MENU we are creating (Catholic Cuisine by the way is a WONDERFUL site to check out for feast days!)

- Pasta Milanese

- Honey Pasta

- Lentil Soup

- Zeppole

- St Joseph Bread

- Fig biscuits – thanks Catholic Icing for this clever way of recreating the original :)

- Frittelle di San Giuseppe

Yum, yum, yum!!!! :) The house will smell wonderful and our hearts will be lifted up in thanksgiving…. I very much look forward to tomorrow!

One last thing :)

I have recently painted a picture of St Joseph (below) and have limited edition prints for sale on my Etsy store. Here is the link if you would like to check it out :) ETSY STORE – RUTH GREEN

St Joseph - original painting by Ruth Green 2013

St Joseph – original painting by Ruth Green 2013

May your own feast of St Joseph be truly blessed!!!

Ruth xxx

 

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“Stand fast in the faith” – St Perpetua

Today is the traditional feast ((tomorrow the new) of Sts Perpetua and Felicity,

early martyrs of the Church in Carthage.

perpetuafelThese two heroic young women, both mothers,  were put to death in the arena for their belief in Christ and refusal to pay homage to the Emperor. Perpetua,a Roman noble and Felicity her slave, are two of my most favorite martyrs. Curly Sue has Felicity has a middle name, so today I decided would be a special day to remember their courageous display of faith, and in the spirit of Lent, discuss suffering and sacrifice.

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Almost 3 years ago, I came across a preview for an animated film on their matyrdom, released by Catholic Heroes of the Faith. In the few seconds of the preview I was brought to tears…. sobs actually! The animation is simple, but the intense story of faith, suffering and triumph coupled with a powerful soundtrack spurred me on to buy it then and there. However, when hubby and I watched the DVD ourselves, we were so greatly moved that it was put to one side until the children were a little older (6, 4, 2 at that stage).

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So today was the day that the long awaited DVD was brought out :)

What is brilliant about this production from Catholic Heroes of the Faith, is that it contains on the DVD an entire series of well planned out lessons and activities to go along with the movie.

This morning we read about Jesus telling His disciples to go out and spread the good news to all nations. This was illustrated by a big ball of plain, uncoloured playdough symbolising the earth. A hole for Jesus was poked in the ball and 4 big drops of red food colouring were added. We discussed how only a few people knew about the good news at the time of Jesus’ ressurection. I gently squeezed the “earth” and the food colouring started to spread. The instant reaction from the kids showed they understood the point of the exercise! We placed the playdough “earth” inside a clear snaplock bag (to keep their fingers clean from red colouring!) and they all had a turn “spreading the good news”. We then had a discussion about the red food colouring. Why red? I loved how they immediately talked about the blood of Jesus and it lead beautifully into a discussion about martyrdom and the power of the blood of the martyrs (we followed this by reading the account of Stephen’s martyrdom in the book of Acts).

The next exercise from the DVD was a series of sheets teaching them about the early christians and their need for secrecy. They were introduced to IXTHUS, the sign of the fish and the word “Catechumen”.

The much anticipated DVD had us ALL in tears and the mood afterwards was quite sombre. I gave them all cuddles and reiterated that the ending was actually happy, as they had achieved sainthood and eternal life in Heaven. Some sunshine and fresh air was needed and then they quietly chose one of the 4 colouring sheets provided on the DVD (the girls chose the saints rising to heaven with the angels, while Master Luke chose the martyrdom scene!). This quiet time with peaceful music playing helped them process a little more and Sunshine afterwards came to me and said “Mum. I don’t feel discouraged by that story…. in fact I feel really inspired to be more like them and to be brave and to be a Saint!!!”. I think it will take a lot more gentle discussions and time to let it all sink in, but WOW what a way to celebrate their feast! :)

Here is the link to the Catholic Heroes of the Faith site. There is a preview for the movie on there and I thoroughly recommend checking it out!

Hope your Lent has started with a whoosh and a roar :)….. now to ask God for the grace to continue!!!!

Blessings

Ruth xxx

 

 

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Into the desert

Lent is almost here again.

I can still feel the pancakes from our EARLY Shrove Tuesday breakfast digesting in my stomach :). Curly sue and Fuzz are finishing theirs off for morning tea while watching an episode of Mister Maker. The elder two  wish they had not eaten theirs in one sitting :).

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The rain is pouring outside, the wind roaring and whistling down the chimney. It is a bleak day. Autumn is here doing its best to remind us that winter is just around the corner.

And as I take a moment to gather my thoughts, I am struck by the stark beauty of the season upon us.

Lent strips everything back like the stormy wind outside.
It exposes our weaknesses and failings.
It makes us vulnerable and in need of protection.
We find our hearts seeking shelter, seeking the warmth of Gods merciful embrace.

Lent opens our eyes again to the brutal, humbling reality of the Cross

Allowing us to pick up our own with renewed vigor as we walk beside Christ.

Lent is not pretty or comfortable.
It is inconvenient and long.

Through the season of Lent we are painfully, beautifully moulded into a better likeness of Christ.

I have come to LOVE Lent!

As today is the last day before it all begins, I have been making preparations. Below is a list of what our wee family will be doing. Feel free to use any ideas as most of mine are inspired by others :)

Lent in our Home

Hubby, Myself, Sunshine (9), Master Luke (6), Curly Sue (4) & Fuzz (2)

- Family prayer table covered with a purple sheet and simplified. Room made for Lenten prayer focuses. Crucifix left uncovered.

- Lenten chain – a paper chain made up of a purple link for each day (a different colour for Sundays) before Holy Week. Each link has something written on it to do. Each day you break open the link for the day and action what it says. I got this idea from a range of pins on Pinterest :), but below is the list I have created for our family :)

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  • Ash Wed: Bury Hallelujah (make a sign with the word Hallelujah on it), seal it in a plastic bag and bury it :) You get the symbolism
  • Thurs 6th – Trad feast of St Perpetua & Felicity (watch DVD from Catholic Heroes) and talk about sacrifice and love
  • Frid 7th – Stations of the cross (great colouring in ones online)
  • Sat 8th – Temptation cookies (bake cookies and place them somewhere prominent to cool. Kids can’t eat them until Sunday. Discuss temptation :)
  • Sun 9th – Confession and Mass (feast of St Dominic Savio)
  • Mon 10th – Make a tomb scene (pinterest has HEAPS of ideas!… not sure which one we will use yet :))
  • Tues 11th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet (these happen to fall onto the same day for us with our outings!)
  • Wed 12th – Memorise the Act of Faith
  • Thurs 13th -Fill a bag of toys/clothes to donate to SVDP
  • Frid 14th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 15th – Acts of service around home
  • Sun 16th – Confession and Mass
  • Mon 17th – St Patrick’s Day
  • Tues 18th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 19th – St Joseph
  • Thurs 20th – Make a get well parcel for Great Grandma
  • Frid 21st – Decide on and make a meatless meal for the family
  • Sat 22nd – Family Sabbath meal (as a child my family used to have a very simple Sabbath meal each Saturday night to welcome in the Sunday. I’ll post about this closer to the time :))
  • Sun 23rd – Confession & Mass
  • Mon 24th – Trad feast of St Gabriel
  • Tues 25th – Feast of the ANNUNCIATION  (other activities as well as bring flowers for Mary statue and visit Jesus in Adoration)
  • Wed 26th – Make a salt dough crown of thorns and nails
  • Thurs 27th – Make up a food parcel for SVDP (St Vincent de Paul Society)
  • Frid 28th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 29th – Acts of service at Grandparents home
  • Sun 30th – Confession & Mass
  • Mon 31st – Make stick puppets for Holy Week (stay tuned!)
  • Tues 1st April – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 2nd – Write thank you letters to Priests
  • Thurs 3rd – Visit the local Zoo – talk about the significance of Jesus the Lamb of God and see the donkey’s (weather permitting!!!!) … otherwise we will use toys and books at home :)
  • Frid 4th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 5th – Sabbath Meal with friends
  • Sun 6th – Trad PASSION SUNDAY – Confession & Mass (religious pictures/statues put away or covered with purple tissue paper)
  • Mon 7th – Finish making puppets
  • Tues 8th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 9th – Watch an Easter Movie (this is a fave… “the Miracle Maker”… need to find a DVD copy as we don’t have a VCR anymore! :))
  • Thurs 10th – Make prayer cards to give out as gifts on Palm Sunday
  • Frid 11th – Make an Easter parcel for an old lady the children now
  • Sat 12th – Feast of St Gemma Galgani
  • Sun 13th – PALM SUNDAY

- Fasting from meat and only simple meals on Fridays

- Listening to Lent in Ephesus , a BEAUTIFUL CD of music for Lent :) ( I got mine off Itunes)

For me personally I am doing the following:

- No Facebook :)
– Skirt/dress a day…. Aghhhh! This one I’ve been unsure about but it would be VERY challenging for pants loving me… So therefore probably very beneficial :)
– reading some of St Alphonsus Liguori’s work and A Thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp
– rising before 6am to pray

I pray that this wonderful, graced season will bear much fruit in your life and in the life of your family.

Remember all is naught if there is no charity in our hearts! :)

“Do everything in Love!” – 1 Corinthians 16:14

Blessings!

Ruth xxx

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“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:19

It is 10:28pm.

One Master Luke is asleep after vomiting for the second time.

The house is again quiet, the street outside hums with traffic and for the meantime I am alone to ponder in the silence.

“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart”

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As I travel along this path of motherhood, I too find myself storing, pondering, treasuring a wonderous assortment of things. Some pass fleetingly through the central business district of my mind as clouds on a windy day, while others stamp their permanent mark with dramatic force or quietly dig themselves a burrow to be rediscovered in God’s timing.

To ponder is part of motherhood.

Our precious Mother Mary, from infancy, had a heart prepared for the great joys, trials and sufferings she would bear through her Son Jesus. No woman, no mother has ever had the fortitude, humility and grace that Our Lady did to ponder such extraordinary events and to continue on with her daily life trusting in the will of God. From Simeon’s prophecy ( “a sword shall pierce your heart” Luke 2:35) to the finding of the child Jesus at the temple (““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49), Mary must have pondered often as she cooked and cleaned and went about her chores. She must have gazed at Jesus crawling on the floor, observed him as he climbed a tree and sighed as she saw him learn from St Joseph the tools of carpentry. Those words, those events would have weighed heavily on my heart, but for her they were treasures, rare gifts of knowledge and preparation for the path of suffering she would walk one day with her beloved Son.

As we begin this new year, I have much to ponder and much to give thanks for.

I have four beautiful children who are growing so quickly physically, mentally and spiritually. I have one precious yet unknown child growing within me and are once again struck by the incredible mystery of the womb, the crafting place of Almighty God. I have a husband who after 10 years of marriage is still able to astound me with his passion and wisdom and inspire me with his conviction. I have a vocation that is overflowing with life and I have no choice but to let it take me where it runs.

God has given mother’s the gift of pondering… treasuring…. because when your life is overflowing, those words, those moments in which God is present and speaking, can be missed. By storing both little and small moments, God is able to work in a mother’s heart in the still silence of her inner being and when the time is right, He sheds His glorious light upon His work and we have one of those startling “Ah HA!” moments while washing the dishes.

So often have I been struck with an “Ah Ha” that leaves me speechless and feeling unworthily blessed.

The weekend before last was one of those moments. It was my 31st birthday and the 3rd anniversary of the big earthquake that significantly damaged my home city and resulted in the loss of 185 lives. I knew it was going to be a joyful and painful time celebrating and remembering. However, we were invited to come along to a Latin Mass at the Carmelite monastery on Saturday morning. It was to be said by Fr Antony of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and as it has been in discussion for a while, our Master Luke (6) was asked to serve for the first time. This was the cause of great excitement for our children. To top this off, Fr Antony asked if we would like to be enrolled in the Co-fraternity of the Brown Scapular. Here is where the “Ah Ha” moment occurred!

Through out my childhood and youth, I had a great desire to be a nun. From wearing a “mother Teresa” style tea towel on my head while drying dishes, to spending lots of time reading about the Saints, I felt passionately about giving my life completely to Jesus. At the age of 19, in the year following the tragic death of my brother David, I went to daily Mass at the Carmelite monastery. In those precious morning Masses I felt the presence of God’s peace so strongly. Like a healing balm on my wounded soul, I felt the call of Carmel, the call to separation from the world and full union with Jesus. I once again desired greatly to shed the world and to be clothed in the habit of religious life. But as I corresponded with the beautiful sisters, they encouraged me to continue praying and discerning outside of their walls and consider coming to stay with them after I turned 21. Well God had other plans (which is another story) and by the time I was 21, I was married to Matthew and was pregnant with my first baby, Sunshine. That call, those moments of grace were stored deep within me, put away to ponder, put away as treasures.

Saturday morning was VERY warm and miraculously all six of us were at the monastery by 8am. As I walked into the chapel, I was overcome with the very same peace and sense of home that I had felt all those years ago. But as I prayed during the Mass and watched my son serve with such reverence and dignity; as I listened to the voices of the sisters behind their grill and heard the words of Father’s sermon on the Brown Scapular, God shed his glorious light upon those treasures from long ago and I heard His voice anew.

His call to Carmel had been authentic. His call on my life had not been a figment of my grieving heart. His call was not just for me, it was for my family. It was for Matthew, Sunshine, Master Luke, Curly Sue, Fuzz and the little one within me. As we all knelt on the sanctuary following Mass, Fr Antony prayed the prayers of enrollment and placed a Brown Scapular over each of our heads. I knelt and pondered. I knelt and gave thanks. I lifted up my heart and declared the glory of a Heavenly Father who in His time brings all things to Himself.

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Master Luke is in the front

We MUST ponder and we MUST treasure those moments in our hearts as Mary did. God has made us the hearts of our homes and it is our duty and privilege to be the safe keepers of His Divine plans. I look forward with such joy for the “Ah Ha” times ahead. Some may bring great suffering and some may bring great joy, but all will be part of God’s marvelous plan for our lives and the lives of our families. Let us give thanks for He is good and his love is everlasting!

Blessings

Ruth

 

 

 

 

Chalk and Cheese

I started this blog back in March 2012 as a way of recording the many beautiful lessons I have and continue to learn as wife, mother and homeschooler. What I didn’t expect was the journey of discovery I would undertake in particular regard to my two wonderful girls, Sunshine (8) and Curly Sue (4).

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As different as chalk and cheese, my girls at times overwhelmed me with their different needs, desires and expectations. The same parenting, the same structure, the same emotional investment could not be applied to each of them. I started to struggle under what felt like the most impossible of tasks.

Until… :) (“pause for dramatic effect” – Gru )

I started to actively and consciously love them as incredibly unique individuals. But to do this I had to learn what was required for my Sunshine toolbox and what was required for my Curly Sue toolbox…. not an easy task!

Labels are not ideal and I do prefer not to go down that path, but they have certainly helped me equip myself to a degree with strategies and tap into the past wisdom and experience of others. The labels I had to come to terms with were to do with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), for Sunshine it was “Sensory Sensitive” and for Curly Sue “Sensory Seeker”.

The diagram below I have used before but it is pretty clear…

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In lay mans terms, Sunshine is the yellow (how appropriate!) and Curly Sue is the pink (even more appropriate!). Sunshine experiences the world in technicolour, full stereo surround sound with 4D effects and responds immediately to this stimulation in many ways, most often emotionally. Curly Sue finds everyday life unstimulating and can often be heard saying “what can I do NOW?”. For her there is a real daily need to be stimulated physically, whether it be swinging, tasting, jumping, squishing etc. As evident from the above graph… my two girls are completely opposite! Chalk and cheese!

This discovery was simply life changing for me and turned my parenting on it’s head :)

So where are we know? Am I still struggling? Do I have this SPD parenting sorted? Am I able to blog about how brilliantly we handle these gorgeous kids?

The reason this particular blog post has come about is because I have been pretty unmotivated in my consciously competent parenting (see here for post on this!). The result of this lack of motivation is an ever increasing impatience and frustration which festers and feeds on itself. I haven’t got it all sorted….. in fact I have been only just coping!

Cue a much anticipated trip to Australia for one very blessed Sunshine and her Daddy.

Suddenly for the first time in almost 9 years, I am without my Sunshine for 6 days. Master Luke (6), Curly Sue and Fuzz (2) are without their big sister for 6 days. EVERYONE feels the absence. EVERYONE misses her!

And I get some much needed thinking and praying time, and a good kick up the backside (excuse the expression) in regards to my attitude and lack of unconditional love.

My children are such precious treasures, and having one absent has opened my eyes to the richness they bring to my life! So instead of sharing some of the challenges and tools that have come my way dealing with SPD recently, I want to lift up the unique beauty of each of my girls.

CURLY SUE

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Strong, willful, generous, righteous… at 4 years old Curly Sue looks like the cutest of poppets with her big green/blue eyes, long lashes and head of golden curls, but she can roar like a lion and fight like a pirate given half the chance! She has a take on the world that is calculated, unemotional and wise beyond her years but will be moved and brought to tears by unusual things. She is fearless when it comes to physical feats, but cowers behind her big brother in the dark. Her voice at play is the loudest in our family, but she can be lost for periods of time at home curled up quietly in a “nest” of her making. Out of all of my kids, she is the one I struggle the most to find any resemblance to me in, yet she is the one I look forward to dealing the most with as a teenager :).

I love her by letting her have a voice and listening. I love her by letting her sit on my feet as I walk around the kitchen. I love her by creating goop, playdough and warm spaghetti baths even when I have just cleaned. I love her by letting her push her physical boundaries (within reason :)). I love her by letting her cross the road walking close beside me not holding my hand. I love her by swinging her round, hanging her upside down, wrestling her and letting her snuggle against my skin inside my dressing gown. I love her by kissing her when she roars at me. I love her by thinking of creative, messy, sensory play ideas. I love her by letting her be Curly Sue and by providing a strong, unwavering set of boundaries that give her the courage and confidence to grow! I NEED to love her by reading this again tomorrow and actively choosing to do these things :)

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SUNSHINE

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Radiant, sensitive, deep, theatrical, emotional, philosophical…. at almost 9 years old, Sunshine can be a brilliant ray of light in our lives, or just as easily grow into a rocking, rolling thunderstorm. Her anxieties and drama queen episodes are very real and often all consuming, but her effervescent chuckle and smile illuminated from within are priceless treasures! She is sensitive to sound which leads her to feel music and interpret it with grace and depth of understanding. She sees beauty in created forms and constantly thinks of ways to recreate them herself. She daydreams the hours away, lost in a vivid imagination rich in characters and language. She knows God and loves him personally from a faith that wells up from within calling us all on in her own special way. She likes order and routine, always seeking to know what is coming next and suffers deeply when plans change. She invests her heart freely into people, always desiring to make bosom buddies but is still learning how to read social cues and seek what is in the other person’s best interest. She doesn’t play with things, but would rather be in character. She is slow to undertake or complete normal daily activities, getting distracted or lost in her imagination….. but this trait that frustrates me the most about her… taught me a valuable lesson the other day!

photo (14)Sunshine had the idea to make a doll of Our Lady of Guadalupe. So feeling motivated and inspired I said “Yes” and we got the required materials and began. I gave clear instructions on hand sewing which she had only done a few times before but in a much smaller degree. “Keep to the line as much as you can and keep the stitches small and closely spaced to help the stuffing stay in”. Master Luke (6), launched in guns blazing and got off to a great start. He was half way done when I glanced over to Sunshine who had completed not quite a quarter of the stitching. I made the occasional “you might need to speed up” and “if you are going to get this doll finished you will have to” comments, but to no avail. It was then that I heard a slight mutter coming from her lips. As I listened, I realised that she was praying a Hail Mary for every stitch……..

………………….OH…………………………………humbled……………………………………….wow!…………………..

I asked her what she was doing and she told me that because it was a doll of Mary, she wanted to treat it with respect and thought that praying her way through making it would be a good thing. I really was speechless. Here I was trying to speed her up, when in fact she was making the most of ever second by offering it up to God in prayer. To add salt to my pride…. when she finished, her stitching was AMAZING :).

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I love Sunshine by making myself present. I love her by taking control of her coping mechanisms. I love her by providing stable routines. I love her by giving her space and a time frame to get things done. I love her by making my expectations clear and simple. I love her by feeding her good music, literature and art. I love her by encouraging her to take physical risks and letting her do them in her own time and pace. I love her by teaching her filters and providing her with tools for social environments. I love her by feeding her the right food for her brain chemistry and avoiding the junk that messes up the wiring. I love her by being her advocate and not her judge. I love her by affirming her strengths and not emphasizing her weaknesses. I love her by giving her responsibility and trust. I love her by giving her my ears and mind to download on. I love her by recognising her fears and anxieties are real. I love her by helping her rise above them and to soar. I love her by taking her to the Sacraments. I love her by accepting that she sees and will continue to see the world in a different way than I do, and by giving her a solid foundation of love and acceptance which will give her the strength to fly! I NEED to choose each day to consciously and competently love my Sunshine!

Whoever your children are, what ever quirks, gifts, personality traits etc. that God has given them, no matter how they exceed your expectations or fail to live up to them…. they are treasures! Here today, gone tomorrow, our lives are truly precious and as parents we need to live a life of gratitude and praise for Our Heavenly Father has entrusted us with the extraordinary gift of raising His own! It is ok to struggle and it is ok to wonder how you are to possibly love a child in the midst of a struggle, but LOVE raises us up, strengthens us and makes us capable of more than we think is possible!

Tomorrow, embrace your children and then spend the day looking at them in wonder. Observe them, ponder them, allow yourself to learn about them and then take those heart notes and turn them into a mission…. a mission to actively love!

Many, many blessings my friends!

Ruth xxx