parenting

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

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

“Side by side on my piano keyboard”

Tolerance.

the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with

This word has come to mind a lot today.

There is a lot of tolerance and intolerance in this world we live in.

I tolerate some things and certainly won’ t put up with other things! (like crass language in front of my kids!)

But when it comes to people and interactions, relationships, general everyday living… this word “tolerate” feels void of compassion…

So where am I heading with this I hear you say? Another late night wafting ramble Ruth?

Our Sunshine, from the minute she rises until the moment she sets each day, displays such a rainbow of behaviours and emotions, so freely, that we are daily witnesses of tolerance and intolerance from those in the world around her.

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As a mother of a highly sensitive child, as well as three other beauties, levels of tolerance play a big role in the outcomes of my day. For example, the tolerance of an 8-year-old (who looks older than 8!) singing Christmas carols at the top of her voice in Wal-Mart while shopping the day before Christmas eve vs. the intolerance of this same child doing the same but in the middle of the year, makes a HUGE difference to the stress levels of a VERY busy mum! Sunshine doesn’t have a filter that says, “It’s not Christmas and people don’t want to hear Christmas carols while shopping in June”, she just bursts forth in song when happy. Having to suppress this outburst of joy due to the unhappy and somewhat annoyed fellow shoppers who do their best to communicate with glares and “intolerant” glances is a mammoth task and one I do not cherish. But today I was struck by something….

The “tolerant” looks today from Christmas shoppers, as Sunshine trilled like a songbird to Rudolph the red nose reindeer, were in no way threatening like I mentioned above, and I felt no need to say “hush!”,  BUT they were void of compassion and in many cases were pitying and judgemental.

“Oh what a dear! Must be something simple about that child”,

“Poor mother! She has got HER hands full!”,

“Must be hard to manage a child like that when you have SO many!”

…. I think most mums have read those thoughts on well-meaning faces before!

To tolerate something different is not bad, in fact it is in a simple way… good.

But to seek to understand, to learn about, to love another’s differences is a strength and a gift!

So on the eve of Christmas eve, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who does more than tolerate my precious girl!

I want to say thank you to those who hold her hand when attempting a new physical challenge. 

To those who offer encouraging words when she does a little (or LARGE) panic.

To those who show compassion even for the tiniest graze or loose bit of skin.

To those who patiently help her with fussy clothing or sleeves that need folding just right.

To those who don’t get offended when she orders them around.

To those who calmly tell her to say “excuse me” and wait her turn to talk.

To those who watch her many dances or listen to her songs and applaud.

To those who play along with her imaginary games.

To those who love her by their actions and words and allow her to shine happily!

Knowing there are people out there like you, makes being her mum an easier adventure!

There are days when I scream out inside “JUST BE NORMAL!!!” and then I see her do something extraordinary or just simply Sunshine, and I THANK God for giving me a child who teaches me about humility, patience, sacrifice, faith, courage, and ooodles of LOVE every day!

Choose to LOVE rather than TOLERATE.

Toleration will get you by… But Love will give you the eyes and heart of Christ! 🙂

Blessings & Happy Christmas

Ruth 🙂

ps. what song is the title of this post from? 🙂

 

 

“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?

YES!!

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…

I GIVE THANKS!!!

Blessings

Ruth 🙂

There’s spaghetti in my bath tub!

Curly Sue is my Sensory Seeker extraordinaire…

From sitting precariously on the back of her chair at meal times to licking sweet potato peelings during dinner prep, my sparky 2 year old has to experience life, hands, feet and tongue! 🙂

Over the past two weeks, I have taken a step back to look at many, many areas of my life as wife and mother. Having sick children can put you in a pensive mood and with climbing toddlers and clingy big kids, blogging was not an option 🙂

Curly Sue will be 3 in August, and I am pleased to say, I believe she is moving past the screaming weeblie stage and things are in general, more tranquil. But, there has been no letting up, nor ever will be I imagine, on the intensity of desire to explore and experience life to the fullest! Therefore, after much musing and praying, I am going to intensify life for her, safely and in a controlled manner :).

There is SO much good stuff out there on sensory play and I could get lost among all the wonderful blogs and sites teeming with inspiration. So here is my plan, incorporating some of the ideas I have seen and catering them for my girl…

CURLY SUE’s SENSORY PLAYTIME

– Each morning after our Faith Formation time, I will set up a sensory activity for Curly Sue.

– The activity will be something she can play peacefully with on her own so that I can work on maths and reading with the big kids.

– I will record the experiences and make a scrapbook of memories for her to look at

So…

DAY ONE: Spaghetti Bath

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It is has been snowing and COLD, so a warmed up bathroom and a whole pile of freshly cooked, warm spaghetti was “nice” on the feet! Curly Sue’s face was worth the 90c I spent on cheap spaghetti :). She happily played for close to 45minutes, making birds nests, feeding babies, creating mountains, sliding around the tub…

The result, a subdued, peaceful, content girl for the rest of the day! EUREKA!! This might be a VERY good idea 🙂

Plan for tommorrow: Paint sealed in snaplock bags and taped to the kitchen table

I encourage you to have a look at the below websites for more inspiration:

http://www.childhoodbeckons.com

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com

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! 🙂
  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 🙂

Blessings

Ruth