Month: May 2012

Veni sancti spiritus! Come Holy Spirit!

Pentecost…

I have spent many a prayer time meditating on what it must have been like in that room.

To experience the coming of the Holy Spirit as the disciples did… WOW…

We have had a sick week with Fuzz, Curly Sue and myself down with bad colds.

The upside to this has been a week of busy hands and lots of stories… mostly on two topics, Ancient Egypt and Pentecost πŸ™‚

Here are two activities that have kept us busy…

Gifts of the Spirit Flaming Mobile

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The children were keen to make something for Pentecost with flames. While playing outside last week I was inspired by their hula hoops :). So what was once (and will be again in a week of two) a pink hula hoop is now a “Ring of FIRE!!” (you need to do the finding nemo voice!).

Fairly simple craft…

Step One: Cut A4 pieces of coloured paper (red, orange, yellow) into strips width ways. Staple these around the hoop, creating a pattern of red, orange and yellow.

Step Two: Cut out 7 large red flames, 14 smaller orange flames and 14 even smaller yellow flames.

Step Three: Stick the orange and then yellow flames onto the big red ones on both sides

Step Four: Write in black marker one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit on each flame

Step Five: Punch a hole in the top of each flame and tie to a piece of string.

Step Six: Attach the seven flames evenly around the hoop and hang your mobile up to be admired πŸ™‚ (we have an extra flame created by Curly Sue :))

The children are enjoying standing underneath it and pretending to be the disciples πŸ™‚

We had a fantastic lesson on the importance of the Holy Spirit and the gifts while the children were busy cutting and sticking. As a creative person I often find it hard to step back and let the children cut and stick their own way… it is hard not to hover and dictate what things should look like πŸ™‚

BUT how are they going to learn if not by doing and experimenting… I have to limit myself to the odd gentle suggestion! πŸ™‚

Chocolate Mud Cake Pentecost Cupcakes with Madarin Cream Cheese Icing and Marshmallow Sugar flames

What a mouthful to say…. and what a YUMMY mouthful they are!

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest (SEE HERE), Master Luke and Sunshine were really keen on making our own versions. So as usual they differ a little from the original and as I said before… I let the children do the decorating, so they are not as “professional” as the ones from the pin πŸ™‚

STEP ONE: Make up a batch of my Gluten Free Choc Mud Cake recipe (Click here for the recipe)

STEP TWO: Divide into mini cupcake pans. We made a double batch of mixture and it did 36 mini cupcakes and 4 texan muffin tins

STEP THREE: Cut mini baking marshmallows in half and dip the sticky cut side into sugar (coloured with several drops of yellow and red food colouring… a FUN exercise in itself for the kids!)

STEP FOUR: Make a batch of cream cheese icing. We used mandarin zest instead of lemon for ours… just to be different! Add a few drops of yellow food colouring.

(Click here for the recipe)

STEP FIVE: When the cup cakes have cooled. Put a teaspoon of icing on top and arrange the little marshmallow flames in a circle.

Voila! Pentecost cupcakes… Green Team style πŸ™‚

May you all have a blessed Pentecost πŸ™‚

Ruth

Feast like an Egyptian

All I can say is YUM!! πŸ™‚

Today we feasted like Ancient Egyptians… well as close to it as we could muster πŸ™‚

On the menu:

Morning Tea/Afternoon Tea: Dried Figs, Date & Almond Balls

Dinner: Beef Kofta, Pita Bread, Yogurt & Cucumber sauce, Falafel

Pudding: Rice pudding

DATE & ALMOND BALLS

We found a similar recipe online but have adapted it to suit what we had in the cupboard and to compliment some of the information we had been reading about Ancient Egyptian food. While making these, take the opportunity to really enter into discussion with your kids about how food was found and processed.

1 cup of dried Dates

1 cup of whole roasted almonds

1/8 cup of water

150gm bought ground almonds

(substitute with another cup of whole roasted almonds if you want a crunchier, more unprocessed result)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

1/2 cup of runny honey

  1. Chop up dates and put them into a saucepan with the water. Heat until dates absorb water and become mushy. Add more water if needed. Take off heat and add the cinnamon and cardamom.
  2. Grind the whole almonds until nicely crushed. The children used a mortar and pestle for this and we talked about ancient food processing techniques πŸ™‚
  3. Mix the date mixture with the crushed almonds. If the mix is still not quite firm enough to roll into balls, add a little of the bought ground almonds.
  4. Roll into walnut sized balls
  5. Dip each ball into the runny honey (heat the honey if not runny enough) and then roll it in the bought ground almonds
  6. Refrigerate for 30mins
  7. Enjoy the sticky, finger licking goodness! πŸ™‚
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DINNER MENU
(I used the recipes below as guides… never follow things exactly! :))
RICE PUDDING
(Good old Alison Holst!!!)
This makes very little, so double… triple the recipe! The kids were full after the main course so hubby and I got to enjoy the pudding πŸ™‚
3 tbsp short grain rice
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Mix the rice and milk together in a saucepan
  2. Add the butter and bring to the boil
  3. Cover with lid ajar, and simmer gently for 30-40min, until rice is tender
  4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer a further 15-20min

Pudding doesn’t thicken up until last 10 minutes or so.

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Our Egyptian Feast!

The tea towels were an after thought as our treasures love to dress up. I informed them they were more middle eastern than Egyptian, but as everyone, including Daddy (taking the picture), wore one… it made the dinner even more special πŸ™‚

We were each given a name. Rameses (Daddy), Nefertiti (Mummy), Hutepi (Sunshine), TutankhamunΒ (Master Luke), Cleopatra (Curly Sue) and Amun (Fuzz).

My immense clean washing pile from the day (yet to be folded) takes pride of place in the background. Let’s say… it was our pyramid πŸ™‚

A lovely family meal… a lovely home schooling day!

Blessings!

Ruth

10 tricks to survive grocery shopping with kids!

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7am

The sun is still slumbering, the world is quiet and dark.

I figure the road works and “No entry” signs don’t really mean anything at this hour of day, so my route to the super market is much more straightforward. (constant time waster in Christchurch these days! :))

Three cars in the car park.

Hundreds of shiny trolleys lined up in immaculate rows.

Shelves laden with rows of lined up food and the faint sound of music playing through speakers.

For a busy mum… this is supermarket heaven!!

Well, that didn’t happen Saturday as our weekend was punctuated with various activities and lack of sleeping babes.

So, off to the very busy, people congested, mid morning mayhem of supermarket shopping with four kids in tow!

How did I do it without turning prematurely grey?

My 10 tricks to survive grocery shopping with kids

  1. Feed them, water them and toliet/change them BEFORE leaving!!
  2. Come prepared…. crackers, nappies, wipes, drink bottle, book, dummy… anything that could act as a distraction or time filler
  3. Restrain those who can be restrained :)…. I love those double seated trolleys, perfect for Curly Sue (2yrs) and Fuzz (1 on thurs!).
  4. Establish simple but firm guidelines for walking (running!) kids eg. no touching, be aware of other shoppers, stay where you can see mum (& she can see you… these ARE entirely different things!), when Mum says hold trolley…. HOLD TROLLEY! πŸ™‚
  5. Engage with your shopping helpers… talk about the displays, colours they can see, what would they cook with eggplant (sorry bad example!!), how many packets of different peas can they see etc. Make up stories… sing songs (some are brave enough!)
  6. Those that can be helpful…. UTILISE!!! Get them picking up the low items (especially handy when pregnant!) and running ahead in the isle to get items on the list.
  7. Don’t bellow! As hard as it may be, calmly deal with any craziness. It is a well known fact that children often suffer from supermarket sillies and lose all sense of decorum, Calmly approach the afflicted and CALMLY inform them of what is not ok and then give them a job or I have the “hold onto the side of the trolley until I say you can let go” for the more severe cases.
  8. Don’t break the bank, but include in your shop something that will inspire piety in your helpers, that they may consume as soon as the shop is over.
  9. Arm yourself with distraction items for the check out and activate “mummy vision” to stay on top of check out trolley swipers! (Fuzz was in fine form this morning with the chocolate bars!)
  10. If you go to a supermarket where you pack your own groceries, line your helpers up on the floor beside the trolley (mine like to sit under the packing bay bench) and feed them their well deserved treat. This should buy you a little time and peace to quickly pack your items and leave before anything can destroy your successful trip to the supermarket!

Pat yourself on the back!! You have managed to undertake something that makes the single and childless quake in their boots…. and hopefully you still have a fine head of hair πŸ™‚

Blessings

Ruth

Empathy… to understand even the itchy tag!

emΒ·paΒ·thy

1.Β Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.
2.Β The attribution of one’s own feelings to an object.
This is my battle against self today.
How to empathise with my Sunshine.
“Mummy I don’t like tights that go over my feet”
“Mummy my fringe hurts”
“Mummy one shoe is slightly bulgy at the side and feels different”
“My hood makes my hair feel funny”
“Arrghhhh!! It just feels strange and I don’t like it”
“I want to sit by you”
“I just want one more cuddle goodbye!!!!”
“I don’t want to go! I don’t want to leave you! I DON’T WANT TO GO!!!!”
I feel the rage inside me that wants to break out and say “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!”
BUT… she can’t…
Not yet…
That is why the rage must not be and why instead there should be empathy… (not a bad rhyme!)
In his book The Challenging Child, Stanley I. Greenspan talks about the four basic elements of a parenting atmosphere required for Highly Sensitive children. They are: empathy, structure and limits, encouragement of initiative and self observation.
As this is just the beginning of our journey of discovery, I am very much still digesting the concept of empathy.
How does one empathise with a child who seems entirely unreasonable to a calm adult brain?
How do I validate feelings and experiences which at times can seem utterly ridiculous?
The answer I feel as I embark…. is CHOICE.
I have to choose to empathise because as Stanley Greenspan says “such a child is feeling overloaded, ruled by sensations constantly assaulting her. She feels her emotions more intensely than other children and is more disturbed by them. She needs parents who can react compassionately to her plight, just as they would to an adult friend who was having a difficult time.” (The Challenging Child, 1995)
To tell you the truth, as I sit here this afternoon in the quiet of a house with no one but me and a sleeping baby, I feel exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally.
I have heard many people speak of the grieving process parents must journey through when their child doesn’t fit the “norm”. I too need to grieve, but it is not a grief about Sunshine. It is a grief over things not being simple, easy and under control. In other words… I have to let go of what I expect my life as a parent to be and make room for an ever changing, often creative, challenging, unpredictable life, one which will help Sunshine to shine how she was made to shine.
This is going to require my hubby and I to be a unified force, an impenetrable fortress of empathy and compassion, firm in our boundaries but unlimited in our love!
I thank Jesus today that He ascended!! Β I thank Him for going to the Father and sending His spirit to dwell in my heart. If Our Lord was just a prophet, I would be on my own with ancient words and traditions, beautiful but stale. Instead Our Lord has risen! He is ALIVE! And He lives in me πŸ™‚
Through the Traditions, the Scriptures, the Divine Sacraments, I am fed and watered and enflamed with a living Spirit and I have the strength to journey on…
Blessings!
Ruth

Ascension Craft!

Yay! We have arrived at the feast of The Ascension! Jesus goes home to the Father πŸ™‚

Here is a little activity I did with the kids this week…

ASCENDING JESUS

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What you will need:

1 sheet of A4 in each of the following colours: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, White

A side plate, Glue stick, Scissors, Colouring in pencils, a Jesus figure (DOWNLOAD HERE)

STEP ONE:

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Place the side plate on the bottom of your green piece of paper so that half of it is on the paper. Trace around to get a nice semi circle shape and cut out.

STEP TWO:

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Β Take your white piece of paper and draw three fluffy white clouds. Then cut them out πŸ™‚

STEP THREE:

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Take your orange and yellow pieces of paper and trace around your spread out fingers. You will end up with one orange hand and one yellow. Cut them πŸ™‚

STEP FOUR:

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You can download this simple Jesus outline HERE or use any picture of Jesus you like.

Colour Him in and then… cut him out πŸ™‚

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STEP FIVE:

Stick the clouds, hands, and hill onto your piece of blue paper like this…

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STEP SIX:

Cut a strip the width of an A4 piece of paper about 2cm wide. Fold the end over about 1cm and glue it on to itself, then repeat once more. Stick this end 2/3 way up the back of Jesus.

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STEP SEVEN:

Glue one of the fluffy white clouds onto the bottom of Jesus, so that he is standing on a cloud.

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STEP EIGHT:

This is the slightly tricky part. Take your piece of blue paper with the other bits stuck on and fold carefully in half width ways. Using big scissors cut a slit that runs up the middle of the piece of paper from half way up the hill to half way up the sky.

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(Curly Sue likes to add her own details to projects :))

STEP NINE:

Put the strip of paper that is attached to Jesus through the slit. Fold the part sticking through over on itself several times and glue together. This will provide you with a thicker tag for moving Jesus.

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STEP TEN:

Have fun watching as Our Lord ascends into heaven!! πŸ™‚

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Blessings!

Ruth (and my team of makers! :))

The birds and the bees

My baby is 1 next week!

A year ago we were overdue and HUGE, waiting for the arrival of our number four.

“Fuzz” has been our earthquake baby.

We found out we were pregnant with him on September 5th 2010, the day after our city was rocked with a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. My pregnancy was not an easy one, with 3 other little ones, bouts of pneumonia and whooping cough and to top it all off, another massive earthquake on February 22nd 2011, in which we lost our home and our lives changed forever.

My hubby and I are great supporters of Natural Family planning, and especially the Billings Ovulation MethodΒ (will blog about that another day! :)). This means that we are aware attune to Β my fertility cycle and know when we conceived each of our treasures. Before “Fuzz” was conceived, God showed me a picture in my heart of His hands outstretched, holding within them a bright, pulsating light. I heard His words echo in my heart… “It is your choice”

It IS our choice…. to be open to life or not…

This choice isn’t an easy one and to tell the truth, there never really is an “ideal” time to have a baby, BUT we need to trust!

Here was God offering me this exquisite new life… this pure, beautiful future saint πŸ™‚

I was cross at first! I must admit…

I shared with my hubby how this was entirely unfair of God as I had this, and this and this reason NOT to have another baby.. yet…

Then we prayed! (well my hubby started and I dutifully followed :)… still steaming a little)

When we brought our hearts to the Creator, when we humbled ourselves before Him and surrendered to His will… then the power of His life giving Love had room to work on our wills!

Anyway… we were blessed πŸ™‚

“Fuzz” was born after much waiting 9 months later, weighing in a whopping 10lb 11 πŸ™‚

He IS a light! A beautiful, happy, placid, affectionate baby boy who seems to be completely unaffected by the stress I carried throughout my pregnancy (except his hair that is! It stands straight up :))

I praise God every day that we didn’t follow my will and wait , as we would never have had the opportunity to love such a precious treasure!

Well enough about the birds… Now the bees… πŸ™‚

Here is my GLUTEN FREE Choc Mud Cake recipe I used for his birthday cake and cupcakes. It is rich in flavour but much lighter than your traditional mud cake.

Melt 60gm of good quality 70% dark chopped up choc with 2/3 cup water over low heat until smooth.

Beat 90gm softened butter with 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar and 2 eggs until light and fluffy.

Sift into butter mix, 2/3 cup of gluten free self raising flour (I mix 1 cup gf flour/1/2 tsp salt/1 1/2 tsp baking powder then take out 1/3 cup :)), 2 tbsps cocoa, 1/3 cup almond meal.

Then add water/choc mix.

Stir until completely mixed and put into a 20cm round cake pan.

Bake at 150C for approx 35-40mins

I double the mixture and use half for cupcakes πŸ™‚

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These buzzy bee silicone cupcake cases I found at our local Warehouse. Have had a look online and can’t find a source for you, but they were super cute and so easy! I needed something that was little to no fuss as we were having a combined Mother’s day lunch for both our mums, plus a mini party for Fuzz πŸ™‚

I also cut out of the 20cm round cake, a beehive and decorated it (not my best job as I was in a hurry) but the overall effect with the cupcakes was cute πŸ™‚

Enjoy baking and check out the Billings link πŸ™‚

Blessings!

Ruth

Living with a Sensory sensitive child :)

For those of you who are following this blog, you will have journeyed a little of the ups and downs, calm days and stormy days of loving my Sunshine πŸ™‚

We are on a whole new journey of discovery at the moment as we look into the are of the Highly Sensitive Child. There is so much research out there, and it can be a little overwhelming and at times misleading.

I have the wonderful blessing of a sister who is a qualified child developmental psychologist and it is to her wisdom we have turned recently.

The other night as we sat and chatted about Sunshine and her beautiful but fragile temperament, my sister shared with me a little diagram. I have found the one below from the web and it matches pretty closely to what she drew.

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Without an explanation it probably seems a bunch of gobblety gook! πŸ™‚ (it did to me!)

So here goes my layman explanation and if anyone out there who is an expert finds any mistakes in my explanation, PLEASE comment and correct me :). Remember… this is me learning from the deep end!

Everyone experiences life and the world around them at various levels. For the average person, sound, light, touch, taste, smell etc. effect us, but don’t overwhelm us in general, as we are able to filter them and manage our responses. For those with high and low sensory thresholds, it is a different story.

HIGH SENSORY THRESHOLD: These people need more sensory input, greater stimulation and experiences to feel normal. For an Sensory Seeker, this means standing on your head, jumping off high objects, putting your bare feet into the snow. For the Low Registration person, life almost doesn’t graze the surface and they need to be shaken into reacting.

LOW SENSORY THRESHOLD: For these people, the normal pace and experiences of life can be overwhelming! I like to think of it as a more colourful life. For a Sensation Avoiding person, this means strategies! Covering ears, reading books, counting the floor tiles etc. For a Sensory Sensitive person… well life hits them with all it’s fullness and they react and respond however comes naturally, emotionally or physically.

When my sister was so patiently explaining the basics of this continuum, I found myself staring at my two girls!! One a Sensory Seeker and the other Sensory Sensitive!

It is mind boggling how out of the same genetic pool, such opposite temperaments can be born! πŸ™‚

The beauty and gift of this information as been a new found enthusiasm and motivation for both my hubby and I to actively love and support our children more. Our two girls need different things from us! They need different levels of input, different experiences, different strategies and a SAFE place to grow into the wonderful women God made them to be!

Like I said before, we are very much in the beginning stages of a journey of learning, so these ramblings are naive and probably flawed in many aspects. My aim in sharing them with you is, that maybe someone out there, is finding themselves on a battle field with their own children and they know in their hearts they could be doing something more.

With this new found knowledge, here is how I tackled two separate occasions with my girls this week…

CURLY SUE (my energiser bunny!)

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One morning while sitting on the floor reading our morning stories, Curly Sue had the case of the fidgets. She hopped around, sat on me, then on the others, grabbed the book, jumped off the couch, and basically caused mayhem. Taking the above info to heart, I grabbed her firmly (not with anger or aggression) and plonked her head between my crossed legs and flicked her legs up and over my shoulders. She squealed with delight and after getting down, wanted to do it again. We worked out a way between us that she could suspend herself upside down around my neck while I continued to read to the others. The strong sensation and closeness to me brought peace to her active soul! πŸ™‚ I had a different child on my hands! Stay tuned as I discover more ways to tame my wild child πŸ™‚

SUNSHINE (my true spectrum of colour!)

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The playground has always been an environment fraught with hazzards for Sunshine, both of the physical sort and emotional. Her perception of space and her own body are not strong, and as we do this research into Highly Sensitive Children, we are learning that this is quite common. The volume of children’s voices at a playground can be quite extreme for even the most normal of ears and the intensity of visual stimulation is high. The biggest challenge for Sunshine is always trying something for the first time. As she can’t predict how something is going to turn out or what it will feel like, she becomes very, very hesitant and often anxious.

The slide is a classic example of this.

This weekend we were at a park with good friends. There were 9 children between us all and lots of little boys! Sunshine climbed the ladder of the big slide quite happily and sat down at the top ready to come down. NOW, several factors then came in to play. Firstly, the other children followed her up and started to line up in a confined space for their turns. Secondly, there was verbal pressure for her to “hurry up”. Thirdly, the longer she sat up their, the more aware of the height she became and therefore the anxiety started to build. Within seconds we had a child in tears and in full panic mode. Having been in this situation more times than I can remember, I immediately climbed the slide (amazing what you can do when you have to!), straddled her back (once again a sight to behold!) and slid down with her. I then took her aside and worked on the soothing πŸ™‚

Next came the hard part! The Mummy needs to be super patient part! The part that requires much grace when you have a child with such a sensitive soul πŸ™‚

After the others all headed back to the house for tea, I stayed at the park with Sunshine and she went back up to the top of the slide. For the next 15 minutes she sat there and we talked. We talked about her past good experiences of slides. We talked about how it really wasn’t that high compared to other things she knew. We talked about safety and how your feet and hands can slow you down. We talked about how brave she is and how great she would feel when she actually did it. SO now you can see why it requires so much patience! One important factor… NO PRESSURE!!! I had to keep telling myself…. no looking at my watch! No “do it now or we go!”… No “hurry up, you are being silly”. I had to have faith in her for her to have faith in herself.

AND SHE DID IT!!!!

For a 7 year old, a slide is no great achievement. But for Sunshine… you would think she had conquered Mount Everest! That is the beauty of a child like this. That no matter how small the challenge is, the exhilaration and sense of pride are something to behold when all is overcome! πŸ™‚

One strategy we came up with walking back to the house was this… “I use my feet to slow myself down” (sung to We three Kings). Sunshine responds to music greatly and so I often use it to help her remember things. Over the last few days I have heard her singing this to herself… we will see if it helps next time she is at the top of a slide! πŸ™‚

Much, much to learn!

Much, much more prayer and discernment required!

But… I am excited! Very excited and pumped to LEARN!!! πŸ™‚

Blessings!

Ruth