family life

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!!!


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!


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! 🙂


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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”


– 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!!!!



Weapons for the Battle


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.


“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.


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...

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



My ever evolving, beautiful life…

I’m a perpetual juggler, very rarely stationary, always dreaming, a constant beginner but not always completer of tasks.

As a teenager I used to wonder at those remarkable people with focus and direction. People with a singular, glorious talent in which they could excel and inspire with.

I on the other hand could do a plethora of things, well but not brilliantly. I could (and still can) fly by the seat of my pants and seem knowledgeable about a lot of things…. BUT I lacked the perseverance to follow through completely unlike certain wonderful members of my family and close friends.

I was an early developer in many ways, but I feel like I’m a late bloomer when it comes to perseverance and patience. Aging is gracious to people like me, for as you become thoroughly aware of your faults, you also become wise to the fact that they don’t define you and if humble, one can learn to change 🙂

So here I am, months of no blogging behind me, ready to share a little of my daily, beautiful life. Beautiful, because it is ever evolving and developing and because it is infused with Divine Grace which makes even the most chaotic, fault riddled life, a work of art!

Here are a few changes going on in my world :)…

1. I’ve decided to ditch the site and stick with simple old WordPress. I will blog about whatever I’m inspired about and do my best to tag effectively so you don’t have to troll through too much that doesn’t interest you :).

2. I am opening an online shop for my art TOMORROW!! So feel free to check it out and like the Facebook page which will keep you up to date with what is for sale and specials. Here are the links to my: Felt Shop and my Facebook 🙂


3. I’m falling in love with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and my family and I have made our new Parish home with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (a branch of the Redemptorist’s who celebrate the Extraordinary Form solely). This has been and is continuing to be a marvelous journey of faith and trust which I will blog about soon. It is a sensitive topic for many, and I want to approach it the right way :). NO FEAR, we still love the Ordinary Form 🙂


4. After 14 years of journeying from the darkness into light with my dearest friend, I was privileged to stand beside her as she was fully welcomed into the Catholic Church last weekend. It was an extraordinary moment of grace and an amazing gift of which I will be forever thankful for! It was an even greater day due to the fact her 8 year old son and 1 week old son were baptised as well :). Praise the Lord!!!


4. 3 years after the magnitude 7 earthquake we experienced here in our city of Christchurch, our family home is finally up for repair. This is going to be  a mammoth job of which we will keep a video and photo journal of.


(Note: You used to have to climb the steps and then step up onto our front door step…. it now sits almost one metre below!)

In a nut shell, life is busy, slightly chaotic, colourful, challenging but gloriously full! I am grateful for the rich blessings God has and continues to bestow and I ask for your prayers that I may lean less on my own strength and more on His!

God is good!


Ruth xxx

26 steps to Grocery shopping in subzero conditions!

Well hello there 🙂

It has been a while since my fingers and thoughts have culminated in a post. Life has been… a whirlwind and for the first time in months, I actually feel sane enough to compose my thoughts! 🙂

(Leaving our warm NZ for a wintry America)

Since I last posted, we have flown across the world to the beautiful, yet wintry North of St Cloud, Minnesota. Hubby is here for work and I, plus four cherubs have come to. Which brings me to the theme of today’s post…


1. Children toileted, bag of tricks packed, jackets on, apartment keys on hand… check!

2. Two littlest in pram to save back and set off down the lift to the apartment foyer.

3. Leave two bigger kids in charge (repeat instructions 10 times!) and walk to garage which is certainly not near the foyer entrance. Walk slightly quicker as the temperature permeates clothing. Pull hood down over face and utter a few clean muttering words as nose starts to lose  feeling.

4. Drive car from garage round to entrance (remembering to stay right!) and load children quickly… QUICKLY into car. Watch ice on ground!!

5. Try and stay cool, calm and collected while warding off multiple questions from the back of the car as you REMEMBER to drive on the right, stop for pedestrians and indicate with the indicator not your windscreen wipers!

6. Unload already ill tempered children and find trolley… OOPS shopping cart! When no double seated “shopping cart” can be found, resort to the rather laborious, extra long cart with plastic car attached to front and use body weight and downwards pressure to steer.

7. Slowly work through the isles reading packages as if they were in a foreign language and try not to run over any unsuspecting old lady as you take the corner on the left!

8. Gradually strip off the many warm layers as the balmy, subtropical environment of the supermarket causes you to work up a sweat.

9. Balance groceries precariously on shopping cart as you start to shop for two weeks!  The prospect of doing this again soon, makes you rather faint.

10. Usher groceries and children through check out, micromanaging turn taking on the ride on horse and understanding the young man’s accent on til.

11. Pile children and groceries into TWO shopping carts, do some deep breathing as you manage a screaming 3 year old, navigate out one set of doors, jackets on, navigate across the freezing desolate landscape of the carpark (now with 2 crying!) and get everyone and everything into the car. RUB and BLOW on hands to regain feeling!!

12. Drive home… (notice external temp is 21 degrees Fahrenheit)

13. Realise that you live on the 2nd floor and you have a boot full of groceries and four tired hungry children.

14. Park car near entrance. Unload 3 children and get them into foyer. Go back for sleeping baby, who wakes up when cold air hits his cosy warm cheeks!

15. Take everyone upstairs and into apartment. Put one wee man to bed and set up others with paper and pens.

16. Downstairs (16 of them… not that I was counting :))

17. Get first few bags out of car, through one heavy door using some good bum action and realise that the next door will have to be unlocked each time. Unlock door, put groceries inside and back out.

18. Repeat step 17, 7 times. Resort to holding keys in teeth so they are easy to reach.

19. Finally stand breathlessly looking at the pile of groceries and then at the stairs… and then at the groceries… and then at the lift….

20. Choose stairs! First load up and into apartment… feeling good! Empowered! Like I’m on the Biggest Loser!

21. Second load… paper bag handle breaks on heavy bag… now feeling like a big loser as you snatch at the bag trying to save the contents from spilling out. Stagger the remainder of the way…

22. Repeat…

23. Bring the final load up and peel off jacket so that you can breathe.

24. Kids are now “very hungry!”

25. Crack open the new box of Gluten Free Chocolate Chex cereal, pile 3 bowls high, pour in milk, hand to rather gobsmacked kids and LIE DOWN!!!

26. Remember to ask hubby VERY NICELY later to put the car in the garage! 🙂

Ordering online is looking OH SO tempting now for the rest of winter, that’s for sure!!!!



“I don’t need anything… but YOU!”

I’ve been a musing…

So many bloggers write a “thankful” post on a regular basis. This seems to be quite the thing to do, and probably has a lot to do with the type of blog and blogger I follow 🙂

Being thankful, choosing to see and count your blessings… is a POWERFUL thing!

Jamie Jo at Lord, Make Me a Saint, has often brought me to tears with her Thankful Thursday posts, not always because of what she says, but because of the choice she makes to turn trials into gifts by her gratitude!

“The joy of the Lord is my strength!”  Nehemiah 8:10

My life has been nothing less than hectic recently, hence the lack of blogging!

My amazing hubby is currently in St Cloud, MN, working on a big project… a VERY long way away from New Zealand!

He is there for 3 weeks, which means 3 weeks flying solo with four children…

and here is where the thankfulness thing comes in…

Musing today as I bustled from thing to thing, my heart was struck by a profound and enlightening truth.

Yes my life is extremely busy, somewhat chaotic, never dull and often uphill,

but it is FULL to the brim with LOVE!

These guys…

… make my life so incredibly beautiful!!!

Am I thankful?


I started to wonder as I cruised the supermarket aisles, two strapped in front of trolley, one loading groceries and one flying like a dragon… what would my life be like if hubby and I had not started our family yet?

We got married, much to some people’s concern, at the very young age of 20 (me) & 22 (hubby). He was final year engineering at university and I, well, had been planning on entering the convent, so had not committed to any future job path :). (I see what God was up to now!)

In love, passionate about God and the vocation of marriage, we were open to any life He chose to give us… and by jove He gave us life! 🙂

Sunshine in 2004, Judah (miscarried 2006), Master Luke in 2007, Curly Sue 2009 and Fuzz 2011…

My wonderful, wonderful Man has been providing for a family every single day of his working life. Never has he had a professional income that is his and his alone to spend. Right from sitting his final university exams two weeks after Sunshine was born to the factory in St Cloud, hubby has worked tirelessly to give all he can to his growing family! To this man, who holds my heart, I will be forever grateful!

But when my best friend and soul mate is away working hard, either here at home or overseas, I have a house so full of life to live in and four wee friends, as loyal as can be, to spend my days and nights with! This is the fruit of our choice for life!

I am thankful for…

early morning snuggles in bed

babies that say “mum mum mum”

constant chatter and singing

cuddles and kisses and “I love you mummy”s

wrestling brothers

tickles and giggles

cosy blankets and stories by the fire

reminders to pray grace before every meal, little or big

imaginary dragons and dragon tamers

hummed imperial march to Lego building

swings, roundabouts, sesaws and slides in the winter sunshine

inquisitive minds and ingenious answers

family nights with yummy treats

sleepy babes to sing to and soft hair to stroke…

We might not have traveled the world together (yet :)), or own multiple properties.

We only own one vehicle and a falling apart mountain bike.

Seasonal wardrobe changes… huh?

We have no holiday fund or large entertainment system.

Evenings are spent washing dishes, folding washing, getting kids to sleep… not out in town… or the movies… or dinner…

But all that said…

I would not change a thing!!!!!

I love my life in all it’s dirty nappy, sibling referee, blurry eyed, unmanicured glory!

I’m no saint but God has given me one heck of a team to get me there and for that…



Ruth 🙂

Feast like an Egyptian

All I can say is YUM!! 🙂

Today we feasted like Ancient Egyptians… well as close to it as we could muster 🙂

On the menu:

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

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

Pudding: Rice pudding


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 🙂
  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! 🙂
(I used the recipes below as guides… never follow things exactly! :))
(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 🙂
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.


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 🙂

We were each given a name. Rameses (Daddy), Nefertiti (Mummy), Hutepi (Sunshine), Tutankhamun (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 🙂

A lovely family meal… a lovely home schooling day!



10 tricks to survive grocery shopping with kids!



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! 🙂
  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 🙂