Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Humble Index Card

This is the most used part of my home school tool box at the moment. Very high tech hey!

But you'd be amazed what they can be used for!

I have several envelopes filled with words Erin knows how to read written on index cards. We compose sentences together after lunch, dishes pushed to the other end of the table. While "The cat sat on the mat" can lose it's narrative pull after the thousandth read, "Erin sat on Mummy" or "Billy will hop on the cat" never gets old for a four year old. I find these cards so much better than shop bought pre-prepared cards because a child will learn words as they MEAN something to them more often than those words they are technically phonetically ready for. For example, Erin has been able to read "Christopher" by sight for months now, but I doubt that word will be in any shop bought beginning phonetics flash card set.

I have a set of picture cards that we drew with simple outline figures. We compose sentences to match them. A sentence like "The fat fish sat on the red mat in a big hat" takes ages for a child with developing fine motor skills to write, but with the cards they can compose in less than a minute! Plus, they always set us off giggling (I am no Picasso!).

We have the parts of the body written on index cards and one of our favourite games is to take them out and stick them all over themselves and each other. It's hilarious! It is easy to forget how much we are learning. We also have the same for furniture and other household items, stuffed animals (cow, dog, tiger etc), and things in the backyard.

I have a set of cards labeled one to ten and Erin sets these out with the appropriate number of pasta pieces, buttons or counters on top of them.

And there are many more plans for the future! I just need to get to Office Works to get myself some more index cards.

One of my favourite future projects is the re-organisation of our scripture memory. I will organise a set of cards into sections for 'daily', 'odd', 'even', one for each day of the week and sections labeled 1-31. Then we will read the scriptures according to the day and the date. For example, on Wednesday the 2nd we will read the scriptures that each child is memorising in the 'daily' section and review the scriptures in 'even', 'Wednesday' and '2', the next day we will do 'daily', 'odd', 'Thursday' and '3' and so on. Review will just be a quick read through or getting one of the kids to say it for me, not a big test, and all up it will probably take 10 - 15 minutes a day at the most. I will rotate the scriptures as they get memorised or I think we need to review them. This is an adaption (OK, shameless copy) of a product I saw on the website Simply Charlotte Mason (please go to the site to assuage my guilt for copying! It is a very good site) and I love the way it constantly reviews and reinforces the scriptures we've memorised.

So the humble index card is a brilliant schooling tool!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


is crying out for some one on one attention at the moment. She isn't being naughty (often anyway) just very "In Your Face". As in literally only inches away from my face talking at me. You know what this tells me? She hasn't had enough one on one lately. She isn't like this when she gets some quality time on a regular basis. Of all of the children she is the one who most craves attention. Lately I have been hurrying far too much to get stuff done or crawling back into my little shell to take a break for a while. This has put Erin into pursuit mode and she spends far too much time talking at me non-stop or doing things to deliberately get my attention. Solution: I need to slow down a bit, I need to stick with the routines and I need to give her the time she needs and deserves. If she is put to work next to me as my helper, she is ten times easier to be around.

still has the odd habit of eating dirt. I am sure he is meant to be grown out of that by now! He was very tired today and asked to go to bed before lunch. I couldn't put him to bed because Christopher was already asleep and going in there would wake him up (NOT a good idea!), so by the time he got to bed this afternoon he was SO ready for it! I think he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. It takes him about a week to recover from one very broken night like we had last week.

is as adorable as usual even with his sleeping quirks! I shouldn't complain, most nights he sleeps through no worries, but he was woken up by some trays being dropped in the kitchen and took about 45 minutes to settle. Not too bad really! He CAN take a couple of hours. Last Friday though he woke up at 3:45am because his "sucking fingers" (index and middle of his left hand) had got caught in the sleeve of his sleeping bag. He then decided to holler at the top of his lungs unless being held or kept company. He was in no pain, he just simply wanted company. You know how I know that? When I gave in at one stage and put him in our bed he started singing and belting us both around the head!! And people wonder why I don't co-sleep! Every time he was picked up or even had someone standing there talking to him he would smile and coo and chat away, the minute he was left all hell would break loose. Even with all our usually very effective techniques - including letting him 'cry it out' - he still kept going until 6am waking everyone else in the household. Then he woke up when Daddy's alarm went off at 6:20 (Daddy had to go into work very early that morning of course!) and it all started again. Oh it is lucky he's cute! Whenever you think you have any single part of this parenting thing down, something will happen to change that!

The New Baby:
had kicked Erin a few times lately which thrills her to bits!! I looked up a picture online of what the baby looks like now for Erin and under the picture it said "Only 16 weeks until the baby is born!" YIKES! That sounds so much less than one hundred and something days!! I had a brief panic about the amount that I have to get done, then made a mental list:

Put bassinet up and put blankets on it (it is in pieces at the foot of our bed)
find and wash baby clothes (not too hard, they're in our room too)
Pack bag for birth centre (I usually do this when I am in labour)
buy infant size disposables, plastic boxes to store clothes being used and maternity pads
buy some infant size nappy covers from

and that's it really. One shopping trip and an afternoon's work.

What I would LIKE to get done extends into completely finishing stage one of renovations, unpacking ALL the boxes, working out how to arrange my caravan sized kitchen so it is usable, re-arranging the lounge room the way Beloved wants it including the surround sound speakers being mounted appropriately, fixing up the kid's schooling stuff for easy use, re-organising my home management book, doing some MAJOR work in the garden and reaching the half way point on my Avon earnings which I am putting toward (hopefully) starting uni again through distance learning some time in the future (I have these crazy, persistent ideas of a post-graduate something somewhere in my future). Surely that's all do-able! Maybe....

I think I will just start with list one and see where we go from there.

The home:
is starting - STARTING - to get back to normal. The key? Starting routines again. So simple and profound, yet so easy to NOT do!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Mythbusters: early risers

There seems to be this mistaken belief out there that all parents with young children are up and about at the crack of dawn. This wouldn't bother me at all except for the fact that some people with this assumption feel perfectly fine about dropping in unannounced before 9am, or even 8am! I have even had phone calls before 7am because they figured I'd be up and about "with all those children".

Sleep is a contentious issue for most families with young children and I have met no two families with the same approach. Sleep patterns are adjusted around work, social events, parenting style, teething, illness, bad dreams and personality. In our family the standard is kids in bed by 8pm and we USUALLY don't hear from them again until 7:30-8am. They know they are allowed to play (preferably quietly!) in their room in the morning but they must not leave their room until they are told they are allowed to unless it is for the toilet or to knock on our bedroom door and speak to us. The fact that none of us are morning people means that if we have been out late the night before and have no pressing need to get up, we have been known to sleep in until 9am or even later! Especially if we have had a restless night for some reason.

Even if we are bang on routine, and I have "risen while it is still dark" like the proverbs 31 woman, there are some mornings I simply don't make it out of my PJ's until after 10am. When I was in the habit of getting up between 5 and 6am, I often put off getting dressed immediately so I could slip back into bed and give Beloved a cuddle with his morning coffee. If I have had a crisis like urgent nappy leakage to deal with first up, getting dressed slips down on the list of priorities. Now I am rarely dressed up to the nines, but I do not consider my night attire appropriate for receiving visitors! Of course I am not going to turn anyone away because I am not dressed appropriately, but I would prefer non-urgent visits were put off until a decent hour! I had a neighbour who had a habit of sending her young teenage sons around with messages or questions before 9am (sometimes even before 8am) which was EXTREMELY embarrassing for the poor lads and myself. I would have preferred she pop over herself or call, but never got up the guts to mention it to her. The thing is a part of me feels I SHOULD be up and dressed and have the housework done by 4am, however irrational that is.

Even families who DO get up and going early are often very busy during the fringe hours of morning and evening, preparing for the transition between day and night. If you do not know a family's routine, in my opinion, the polite thing to do is leave phone calls until after 8am and unannounced visits until after 9am (10am if you are visiting me!). Be sensitive to the fact that mornings are a very busy time in most households. I often have a phone tucked under my ear while I do morning chores and chat to my Mum or a friend but not everyone is as adaptable.

The conclusion is all families are different! I am not going to tar and feather anyone who breaks the 'rules' however, like most others, I appreciate people being sensitive to my family's needs.

Don't assume you know, be open to learn what is.

Myth: Busted!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A vision of what I want my home to be

To look upon our home and call it "messy" or "loud" is to say the same of a rainforest's floor or wetland wilderness. To the uneducated observer it looks like chaos much of the time.

Books spill over every flat surface in the living room. The little ones have their fingers plunged deep into dough at the dining table while a jam jar crammed full of wilting blooms oversees their work. The kitchen is a hive of activity, dishwasher humming over the morning's dishes, flour over the kitchen bench, spilling on the floor a bit. The vegetables for the evening meal waiting patiently for attention on the kitchen sink, remnants of garden soil still clinging on after their hasty rinse under the garden tap. Jam bubbles on the stove and the unmistakable autumn smell of harvest floods the house.

Sister is in the laundry re-loading the machines and singing at random intervals, the sound mingling with the jerky piano practise at the other end of the house. In inextricable part of the symphony of our home are the noises from outside; the dog barking at the frisbee flying through the air, the beginnings of a minor property dispute by the trampoline.

And in the midst of this is Mum, moving as a spider spinning her web, or perhaps a lioness leading the hunt. She tweaks and fine tunes the intricacies of this eco-system, Her face wears a grin of delight at another wilted bloom for the table, a frown of concentration over the latest culinary disaster, an enthralled look of wonder at a grasshopper in a jar held by grubby hands, or even the dreaded stormy glance or raised eyebrow at a misdeed or oversight. Sometimes, somehow, she wears all these looks at once. She doesn't run often, she glides.

Every now and then, usually after a series of eyebrow raising deeds, she grows flustered and stomps about, threatening hard labor and bemoaning the lack of "Home Beautiful" opportunities. The children quietly fall into order for a time and give a bit of spit and polish, but it doesn't take long for another jam jar to appear on the table and the contents of the book shelves to again start their slow migration across the house.

As evening approaches, books and games flutter to roost in cupboards and shelves, the vacuum cleaner and broom banish the day's dirt. The hum of activity in the kitchen changes pace almost imperceptibly as the evenings meal takes centre stage. Their duties and play complete, the little ones tumble into the wisps of steam and emerge with damp curls and shiny faces from the bathroom. The jam jar on the table is temporarily replaced by a 'real' vase, with the least wilted blooms being joined by fresh contributions.

Finally, The Return. The dog's welcome is joined by the shrill cry "Dad's home!" The little ones jiggle impatiently at the door and Mum clucks impatiently at the number of things she "didn't get done" today - but you can see in her eyes she doesn't really mind that much and a part of her jiggles at the door, as impatient as the toddler. His progress to the door is slow and deliberate as he returns the dog's greeting, examines the progress of "Project Billycart" and gives advice on a bike repair taking place in the car port. When he finally enters the house, the little ones resemble a sack full of puppies. When they are sated with beard-tickles and cuddles he scoops Mum into a bear hug and gives her a big kiss - he is finally home.

The pace of the kitchen slows as tea is finally dished up, and we join together at the table. The house quiets around the glowing coal of family life that is our dinner table. Each room still evidences the richness of evening pursuits. Dishes rest on the benches and newly filled jam jars cool on the sink. When the children are finally head off to bed, the evening closing into night, a project is still spread out on the table to show Dad, the books have again slowly emerged for bedtime stories and stolen quiet moments, like wallabies feeding at dusk. A coffee cup rests by Dad's chair and a stray toy peeps unnoticed from behind the couch.

Our home would not make the cover of a magazine. Few of the tidy freaks I have met would be able to completely relax. But somehow, I don't think Mum notices as she curls up on the couch next to Dad. And the look on Dad's face as he gives the last goodnight kiss, that look could be described as nothing but content.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Check out this hat

This hat is just awesome! There is an etsy shop with heaps of these (giraffes, bugs, foxes etc) and you can get a version of this one with a neck warmer - in ADULT size! I love it!

Just thought I'd share :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kitchen tip

After confessing where I am with the house, I just want to share something I learned a few weeks ago. If you are as messy in the oven as I am with various roast dinners etc you'll know that one of the worst chores is to clean the oven racks. A tip I picked up was to put them in the bath overnight with hot water and a bit of laundry powder. I just give them a quick scrub with a scourer the next morning!


Just a quick update today

looked at a catalogue I had sitting on the table beside me and said " A-V-O-N, what's Avon mummy?" I was impressed! Especially as our formal school work is erratic at best at the moment. She is one clever cookie. Her extraordinary patience and willingness to help also blows me away daily. I do not know what I have done to be so blessed. Simply by being she lights up my life.

is thrilled with the second-hand three-wheeler double pram we got given. He climbs in next to Christopher and they cuddle and chat as we go for walks. They are adorable to watch. Billy has developed a rather strong attachment to the television. I should just turn it off for a week or so to remind him there are other things out there! But I confess I have been using it as a babysitter in order just to get things done at the moment and I am reluctant to give it up just now while things are hectic. While Jon was away Billy missed him like crazy. We all did, but Billy was especially noticeable. He is becoming a real Daddy fan at the moment which pleases me

is walking around pushing things along which is huge! He has gone back to sleeping properly now. His sleeping patterns seem a lot more fragile than the other two, or it may just be that he is more stubborn and persistent with his LOUD requests to get out of bed. He has had another growth spurt I think because carrying him around is really beginning to hurt after not long at all. His grin still charms me though! And the laugh, I wish I could bottle that laugh. While it is cute now, I daresay it will change substantially by his late teens. Those fleeting moments of their childhoods, I wish I could hold them in my heart and replay them like old movies.

The New Baby:
is very active now! Every night as I sit still or after I hop into bed there is a great tumbling exhibition in my belly as if to say to me "hey Mum, now you have a moment, talk to me!!". Some people don't like the late night kicks, but for me they are one of the most special parts of pregnancy. I love those moments of connection. I forget sometimes to take into account that I am pregnant and I get frustrated that I am not more robust and energetic both physically and mentally, those moments remind me of the very special task my energy is being directed to. It reminds me of the honor that has been bestowed on me.

The house:
Well, I have officially lost steam and crossed over to being simply neglectful. It pains me to admit this!! I hit the bottom mentally and emotionally over the last few weeks and the house is suffering, and so is my family. I have plans of how to fix things, but one of the major things this last few weeks has shown me is that there are times I simply can't keep on top of things. Therefore I am going to start planning NOW to have a cleaner in during the last few weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks of bub being born. I know me, I know how heavy and uncomfortable I can get during that time and the heat of summer is unlikely to improve that! So I am considering it wise to look ahead and plan for whats coming rather than plunge into depression or get snippy with my family (or both) because I can't do it all.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Mythbuster: Mums of Many are Superwomen

I've decided that every now and then on a Monday, I am going to bust a myth. The number of myths "out there" about families, especially large families, is astounding.

Myth #1: All Mums of Many are Superwomen

Of course I can only speak from my own experience, and I am only just technically a Mum of Many (the government classes families with three or more children as 'large' families), but all my experience says - no, we aren't. It is strange to get comments like "Oh, I don't know where you get the energy!" and "You must be a saint, I struggle with two!". The thing is, I remember the milky tears of getting used to my firstborn, the panic of working out the logistics of bathing TWO children and getting them to bed for the first time, losing my temper with the older two children and sending them to their room before sobbing along with the youngest whose fingers just got jammed in the door (well, that was only a fortnight ago!). Today, I crashed out for twenty minutes in an arm chair again while the boys were asleep without clering the lunch dishes or tidying the bomb site that is my lounge - perhaps that's where I get my energy! The thing is, those times when I hit a wall are when I start thinking I SHOULD be supermum. When I start beating myself up about the dishes in the sink, when I am paralysed with the guilt of not being everything to everyone. And get this, I'm a good Mum! Really, I am. My kids are healthy, reasonably well adjusted, emotionally secure, bright individuals. They aren't perfect, but they're pretty good. I hug them every day, read to them every day, pray with them every day, feed them semi-decent food (healthy by many standards!) and clothe them in clean, comfortable clothes.

The thing is, I'm not a superwoman. None of the Mums I have met are. The fact that I'm not a supermum hasn't put me off having more children mostly because I have known some BRILLIANT mothers of large families who are also gloriously human. I wish all women could meet these Mums. The thing is, I have met some wonderful mothers who have told me that they would LOVE to have more children, but don't because they have bad days with the ones they have. I find this tragic. I think I have about the same number of bad days now as when I had just one. They happen! Paul wrote to the church of Corinth "he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." We need to stop pretending to be superwomen and give the glory to God. Perhaps then, women will stop being guilty for not being superwomen and draw on HIS strength. Perhaps then women won't be afraid to have more children if they so desire and plunge head first into the wonderful, amazing world of larger families.

Myth: Busted

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On a lighter note...

If, like me, you are convinced that high school children 300 years in the future will study the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly in order to soak in the BRILLIANCE that is Joss Wheedon and you loved the musical Buffy episode "once more with feeling", you will be thrilled, nay, GIDDY AS A SCHOOL GIRL to find out about

It seems that during the writer's strike Joss made this and released it free onto the web. So not only do we get a dose of his writing genius, we also get a dose of the acting prowess of Nathan Fillion (who played Mal in the Firefly series and the movie Serenity and Caleb in the last season of Buffy) AND some musical comedy goodness with a little dark twist. So, when the kids are tucked up in bed asleep (it's not a kid's show, there are some rather...well, it's not for the kids anyway!) go to the official site. If you can't get the download to work, you may have to go to You Tube and type "Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog" into the search bar.

Just be sure to buy the DVD and soundtrack!

WARNING: as with everything, this will not be to everyone's taste. It is not Christian and certainly not something I will be allowing the kids to watch for a good few years. But I love it!
If you don't, well, that's up to you.

Abortion debate

There is a proposal before the Victorian government to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks gestation. The bill also lays out restrictions for abortion up to full term. This floors me. Perhaps, removing all belief in a compassionate creator, reducing things down to the flawed logic "it doesn't look like me therefore it ain't human - it's just foetal tissue", or even putting forward the idea that a person isn't a person until they can survive outside the womb - perhaps then one can understand the view of those who support early abortion being freely available and strongly recommend to some. Even while vehemently opposing the view, I can still understand the logic, flawed though it may be. But 24 weeks gestation? How is that logical, even in a twisted sense? I personally know TWO children born younger than this . I prayed for their families and for them as their frail, yet surprisingly tough little bodies defied the odds with medical help. Today they are indistinguishable form their 'normal' peers. They were at less than 24 weeks, a life, capable of surviving, growing and being, well, being HUMAN. Surely anyone with a recognition of the sanctity of human life could not have a logical view that these children, these PEOPLE, should die simply because of the circumstances of their parentage? My own child is at about this gestation at the moment. He or she is a MAJOR part of our lives. To say that because this child still lives within me, their life could become forfeit for my "psychological well being" - well, that as unfathomable to me as killing one of my older children because their existence caused stress and trauma to me. I think anyone reading about "Baby J", the girl born at 23 weeks in Darwin a few years ago, crying and trying to breathe for half an hour before she died (Abortion has a new adversity by Angela Shanahan, The Weekend Australian September 6-7) or reading the biography of Gianna Jessen has to carefully consider their stance on abortion.

Now I am not about to make this blog a personal political commentary, but I just could not let this one slide without comment. I could wax lyrical for pages and pages about the intrinsic ethical dilemmas, inherent philosophical stances, women's rights, the rights of the unborn, disability and catastrophic circumstances etc. but I won't. There are plenty of others who have done so far more eloquently than I can using good quality, current research. So I will leave it to you to do your own research on this issue and see it for the insanity that it is. What I will write about is what WE can do about it.

  1. If you are in Victoria, e-mail your local member. Let them know your views and that votes WILL ride on this issue. Please be kind and respectful. Some members have received thinly veiled death threats on this issue which only serves to paint those who are against abortion with the same brush as fanatical fundamentalists who bomb clinics and blow up buses. Members need to know that the average person, the average voter, has a view on this issue.
  2. Help set up abortion alternatives. There are big ways to do this - crisis centres, adoption agencies, hot lines, counseling etc. But for most of us, the reality is our time and access restrictions will mean that our support will be in the form of donations, prayers and letters of support. Don't belittle the impact of this, whole armies have been turned aside through the power of prayer. If nothing else, please pray specifically that these alternatives will become more available.
  3. Love and support the women and children involved. Why would a women go to illegal backyard abortionists, risking their own lives and ending that of their unborn? Shame, feeling overwhelmed, feeling alone, thinking they would loose everything - everyone - they cared about. I can imagine these are among the weapons used by the enemy to hound women to such an act. But we, as a church family, need to make sure we aren't passing these weapons into his hand. Too many women have been forced to wear their illegitimate children as a scarlet 'A' for the rest of their loves. The young men involved and the promiscuous girl whose birth control 'worked' still happily singing in the choir, avoiding all accountability. The unforgivable sin, it seems, is to sin so the neighbours can see. Is it any wonder that one in five women in America seeking an abortion claims to be an evangelical Christian? We need to be the soft place for these women to fall, not the iron fist of judgement or the acid bath of gossip. How would you shape up if every one of your sins had a public and lifelong consequence? What happened to showing compassion to the fatherless? Lets step up and show that compassion by bringing a message of hope and healing to their mothers. Perhaps start now by praying for some of the girls on this site or invite the "unwed mother" home for lunch this weekend and get to know HER as a person.
  4. We also need to teach our children what sex SHOULD be. In a perfect world, every little girl would feel so loved, she would never need to seek love among unscrupulous men. In a perfect world every little boy would pride himself in self respect and self control so much that notches on the bedpost wouldn't even register as manly. I know it isn't a perfect world, but I hope I can contribute to my own children having these views as well as every other child who enters my influence. It is simply not enough to say "don't have sex or you will end up with AIDS, get pregnant, God will hate you and what would the neighbours say?". We need to show Song of Solomon to our kids ("Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you, do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" S of Sol. 8:4), we need to reveal God's plan for marriage in scripture and we need them to know that their virginity is the most precious gift they can give to their spouse. We need to remove the focus in church groups on the "romantic" (eros) relationship and put it back on the Divine Romance. Too many youth groups - or even 'grown up' church groups - are all about finding a partner. Place worship and the word back in the heart of our families and our church.
  5. Value life. Don't avoid the disabled but welcome them into our society. To find out that your child may have Downs Syndrome has to be traumatic - but it has to be even more traumatic if you have never met someone with Downs Syndrome. There is much heartbreak involved in parenting a child with a disability - even one uninitiated such of myself can state that. But I watched at a distance the journey of a women who had a son a few months before I had Christopher, he was also named Christopher. Her Christopher had profound and multiple disabilities. He had multiple operations, was subjected to many uncomfortable procedures and spent lots of time in a little plastic box. But as she posted pictures online of his first smile - even with the cleft lip and the tubes I could recognise that smile and it still stays with me. His life was but a few months long in the end, but his existence was, what's the word, profound, valued, important - no, it was a miracle. His few months affected the lives of many profoundly,myself included. His mother's favourite phrase for a time was "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Now, there are many in this debate who would say that his existence should never have happened, that the pain and trauma of his life outweighed the value of it (they never met him obviously). There are those who would argue that his care was a 'waste of resources' as he was unlikely to ever have a fully independent life. I am yet to find where it is written that a life dependant on others is worthless. We need to recognise EACH life as a miracle and shed the tones of Nazi that tell people that a disabled person is worthless. ETA: I also want to take a moment to mention the fact that families with profoundly disabled children need HELP. The costly, time-consuming, emotionally draining nature of caring for a person with special needs is VASTLY underestimated by many - myself included I'm sure. We need to raise the carers payments and rebates (some families struggle to pay for the basic medical needs of their children such as dressings and toileting needs, let alone transport to therapy etc.). We need to provide respite care, counselling, support for siblings - we need to provide a COMMUNITY! And at the centre of community (the Bendigo bank tells me) is U, yes you. Now right at this time I certainly can't provide respite care, but I can plan to in the future. Right now I have very limited funds, but I can let a Politician know I'd prefer reform of the carers allowance etc. to another tax break. I don't have any nearby friends and neighbours with severe disabilities, but I can show support to organisations that do care for those with special needs. It may appear that I have gone off on a tangent here, but these actions change society, these actions respect life, these actions support families in choosing to keep a disabled child rather than abort. I want to clarify that I DO NOT sit in judgement on those who have made that heartbreaking choice, even given my beliefs on this issue. I believe lack of support is a core contributor to that choice and to take that leap of faith would be difficult enough for those with a strong faith in this social climate - to take that leap when you DON'T have that faith, that is nothing less than a miracle.
  6. Attack the anti-child culture. Don't join in the Mummy whinge fest that occurs so often at playgroups, on playgrounds and in the school car park. I'm not talking about crying on a girlfriend's shoulder, we all do that, I am talking about the "whose got it toughest" competitions that are so often the theme of conversation among parents. When people talk about how hard parenting is (and it is, I'd be a fool and a liar to deny that!) try and balance the conversation by tactfully testifying to the POSITIVE aspects of parenting. Also, discipline your children. Do this for their sake, but also for the sake of society. Honestly the default behaviour of many children seems to be "Brat", is it any wonder people don't want them around? Kid's have bad days, we have all dealt with the tantrum in the supermarket, but if this becomes the rule rather than the exception, we as parents need to step up. Parenting skills can be learned through many resources (I personally recommend the No Greater Joy ministries as one resource and the Growing Families International organisation also has may good ideas) don't be afraid to equip yourself, consider it your gift to your kids, and to society! Make it a part of your mission to remind the world that children ARE in fact a blessing.
  7. Foster a positive attitude toward adoption. Adoption is often dismissed as an alternative to abortion because of the social stigma of "giving up" one's child. While past traumas of the stolen generation in our own culture and the Magdalene girls in Ireland are very real and need to be remembered and learned from, not all adoption situations should be painted with this brush. There are times when this is the most generous, loving, thoughtful course of action a mother can take. We now live in a day of open adoption where communication can be agreed upon between the birth and adoptive families. We also live in a day of unprecedented levels of infertility - no child should be unwanted anymore.
  8. Advocate for adoption. It is inevitable, sadly, that the population of children needing a home will explode if the abortion laws are ever revoked. At the moment our system is not set up for the influx. A report into international adoption was tabled in federal Parliament in November 2005, few if any of the recommendations in that report have been implemented yet, but that is a whole other post. What concerned me is an appendix in this report that detailed some of the difficulties faced in domestic adoption
    "The committee [writing the report] received evidence that there is significant interest in local adoption, but people do not pursue it and examine inter country adoption instead because the chances of a positive outcome are so low."
    Now, you only have to read the rest of the report to realise how difficult and costly international adoption is in Australia, this is a worrying situation. The report recommended a separate inquiry into local adoption, to my knowledge no further action has been taken in almost three years. Maybe it is time we wrote to our state and federal members and asked why? Maybe we need to get FAMILIES and child welfare back on the political agenda.
  9. Consider adopting a child yourself. I know not all families are able to do this, but have you honestly considered as a family your own ability to provide a home and a family for a child? What about in the future? Right now it isn't an option for us, but down the track..... who knows? It is not enough to say no to abortions, we need to provide homes for the children who need them - especially those with special needs.
  10. In the infamous words of Douglas Adams "Don't Panic". Looking back over what I have written, there is a lot to be done. But take a deep breath, pray and do what you can. After all, "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" The first thing everyone can and should do is pray. If you do nothing else please pray. Pray for the decision makers, the mothers, the children, the doctors, the bio-ethicists, the philosophers and pray for us as a society. Prayers move mountains, perhaps they can move hearts too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

And what on earth are you doing up at this time of night?

That's what I just asked myself anyway. It doesn't really make sense, especially as I woke up at 4am today. Beloved is off on a car purchasing expedition (we need more seats!) and isn't here to entice me to bed with a warm body. He also isn't here to wriggle around and make ME wriggle around so when I fall into bed absolutely wiped at the end of the day I don't actually move until about 4am when the sound of every muscle in my body screaming in protest wakes me up. Then there is the fact that my lovely youngest has decided 4:30-5am is a good time to ask for company. That's all he wants, company. Then there was the thunder storm that started this morning just as I finally convinced him that sleep was the better option. Both he and Erin ended up in my bed. I tossed her out as soon as the thunder was over as she kept patting me affectionately and wanting conversation. I don't converse at that hour, no matter how cute you are

Beloved has been gone two nights so far and will be back Sunday morning. The first two nights I was in bed and asleep at least an hour earlier than usual - the warm body does entice me to bed, but exhaustion did the job those nights - tonight I called Beloved and got the password to the laptop. I then found A word of warning, don't start looking unless you have a bit of time up your sleeve! I am enjoying the silence and ignoring the mess, exploring the world and writing.

To be honest, I am finding things overwhelming at the moment. The lack of computer access is dispiriting. My natural writing mode is a keyboard and although I have an exercise book, I am still not writing as much and the quality is down a fair bit. It is just a different type of writing when you can't edit with a few key strokes and I am not adjusting well. The inevitable mess is discouraging too. I can't avoid the boxes at the moment, or unpack them until the study is usable. The living area is significantly smaller than our old one already and the boxes make it worse. I have less cupboard space until we can get things rearranged so my linen is stacked in plain view. Even when I am on top of things and the routine is clicking along beautifully, the dirt hides in the various nooks and crannies then leaps out and shouts "surprise!" as soon as I turn around. Quite disheartening!

I keep counting my blessings, telling myself it could be SO much worse and it WILL be worth it in the end. I keep reading the Word which is the one thing that is really pulling me through (it is hard to wallow too much in self pity when you read the week of passion or Isaiah or Psalms or...well any of it really). But if I am honest, as honest as David and Jeremiah and Job. If I trust God enough to be honest about the really sucky parts of life as well as the blessings. If I trust Him enough to be working all things to His glory and my benefit, even when I can't see it. If I believe that He doesn't need me to create false PR with a painted on grin and pat cliches. If I believe that He is the God of my reality not of a constructed fantasy. Then I can admit this.

I am tired, in spirit as well as in body. The feeling that I never quite completely ACHEIVE anything with my days is sapping my strength. This spirals as I acheive even less with my days because I am tired which makes me more tired. Some mornings it is a sheer act of will to get out of bed and get moving rather than plonk myself on the couch and switch on the TV or grab something to read - simply to escape. I am eating far too much processed sugar and I am not exercising like a should and I am generally short tempered and narky. I get cross with myself for being narky, especially as I know I would be coping so much better if I was faithful in the little things, stuck to my routines and laid off the sugar, and this knowledge serves to make me even more narky.

I know in my head that things are going to get better very soon. Jon will have weekends at home soon and be able to do things like fix the shower and the study. I will have access to my gardening tools and be able to make a start in there. The boxes aren't forever and this time has been a time of growth for me even among the narkyness and discouraging lack of self control. I will be so thankful when things are sorted and I will not take them for granted as I may have done if we had come into the perfect house with the perfect furniture and the perfect amount of storage. I know these things in the same way I know that the contractions getting closer together and more intense is a good thing and the baby will be here soon! I know it, it carries me through, but it doesn't make it easy.

A few days ago when I was opening the Word my eye was drawn to the stories of many being fed with little. 1 Kings 4:38-41 Elisha fed the hundred - and there was some left over. It is told in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus had compassion on those who had come to hear him because they were hungry, so hungry he was afraid they would faint with hunger on the way home if he sent them away. So he fed them with a few loaves - and when everyone was full they collected basket after basket of torn bread. I am ravenous. Each time I think I will faint fron the hunger, a song or a scripture finds its way into my heart. It opens the flood gates and soon I find that I could fill basket after basket with this wonderful Bread of life. It hasn't stopped me being hungry, it hasn't stopped me being tired, it hasn't stopped me craving rest, solitude, prayer, order, peace, contentment. But I am one who was starving and is in the midst of feasting. I am not yet full, I am boyed up simply to fall again upon my meal, tearing at the bread and stuffing it in my mouth to quell the hunger pangs. I was warned in my heart that this hungry time was comming. Knowing it was comming, did not stop it. But as my heart cries out, as the gnawing in the pit of my soul hits - He is faithful.

Scriptures. In Jeremiah He calls to me.....Return to me.....I have drawn you with loving kindness...I have plans for you. In Isaiah He reminds me...He gently leads those who have young.....your sins are as the morning mist....eagle's wings. Psalms cause me to sing in a sacrafice of praise....I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free....Your word is a lamp to my feet....The Lord is good. And the stories are a balm to my heart. The widow whose oil and flour never ran out after she made that small loaf for Elijah, God chasing away the Philistines with thunder as the children of Israel gathered around Samuel who prayed for them, the baskets, oh those overflowing baskets, as the God we worship didn't just give what was needed to get by but gave until the recipients were overflowing. These stories, scriptures and songs have been etched on my heart, not by hours of study, but by an ever faithful God who knows my weakness. He knew I would struggle. He knew I would have these days where nothing went right. So He etched them on my heart, to lift me from the mire. To sustain me on the days when I am too tired to do much more than sigh in His general direction.

So here I am. Truthfully, tired, a little depressed, longing for times to come and struggling to find things to enjoy in the now. But I am sustained, no, more than that. I am a starving woman, but before me is set a feast. I need only taste it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Update - at last!

It has been forever since I had a chance to get on here and blog and I have been missing it. I dream of the day that my computer is set up in my beautiful light blue sunny study, book shelves surrounding me as I write and write and write. A spot to sew! The front window letting in the afternoon sun and providing a view out onto my lovely front garden. At the moment the study is still partially lined with the old horse hair plaster that is a horrible dirty yellow, the floor is unsealed (the hardwood will polish beautifully! at the moment, it is just filthy) and the front window looks out on a wild mix of weeds, an overgrown rose bush and overcrowded bulbs refusing to flower! A large part of living in a renovator's delight is living on dreams.

is sporting a few grazes from her first major bike stack. She landed face first off the foot path on the road (no cars in sight and it was in a parking area really) and, after a few kisses, jumped back on the bike and continued riding. I didn't even notice the graze on her cheek and developing bruises! I was very proud of her for keeping at it. She constantly surprises me. Where I spent the majority of my childhood with my head in a book showing little (if any!) interest in my peers - or people for that matter, she attracts children like a flower attracts butterflies and has much of our little village on first name basis with her doll. Where I would either not try or blunder through life's challenges, she is so cautious (to the point of being fearful sometimes) and is an absolute perfectionist. She craves success and accolade, where the praise or otherwise of others has never had a major effect on my life choices. She is not a reflection of me or an extention of my person. She is a unique person, with a uniques roll in the world, given to me to nurture for a time. What a blessing, what a gift, what a responsibility!

has all of a sudden grown up overnight. My favourite thing is when he tells me he loves me or warns me of incomming kisses! I can't put my finger on any one thing that makes him so much more grown up lately. Increased conversation, his quiet determination to learn to read and do everything else Erin does (including ride her bike), his attempts to join in games with other children (he doesn't quite have the social finesse of his older sister, but he does OK) and his fierce insistance on doing jobs for Mummy (setting the table, making breakfast, stacking wood!) all add up to make him seem so grown up. He still needs a fair bit of translation when talking on the phone to Nanny or Nana Julie, but his speech is getting even more clear by the day. He plays beautifully with Erin and Christopher now. He actually plays better with Christopher than Erin does at the moment because he allows Christopher some limited choice and freedom! The enthusiasm he showed at seeing the 'new baby' on the tv (ultrasound at the hospital) was adorable. He still has patches of dry skin on his cheeks which I am treating with QV lotion.

is walking around furniture and even letting go while standing up for a minute or so! I am not ready for that yet. I know he is getting older, but I just figured he took so long to crawl he'd put off things like that for a while. There are definate attempts at words among his conversations (most of which is very articulate for not containing any actual words) but nothing I would actually call a first word really. He tries to push the boundaries and try out ruling the roost a bit which seems to be typical of our kids at this age. It seems early compared to a lot of other children and I don't know if this is because they are very strong personalities or because we don't over baby our babies so tend to notice it sooner. Either way, he would definately rule the roost if we let him. He has not interest whatsoever in the idea of being a big brother. So long as it doesn't effect his cuddles and boobie access he's happy!

The New Baby:
will not be arriving until mid-January most likely. I was a little uncertain of my dates and my cycles were a little irregular so the Ultrasound and my midwife's estimate places us about the tenth of January. This is a little disappointing for me as I had plans to go to our Church camp on the 16th and bubby, in all likelyhood, will still be firmly in place at that stage! We will just have to play things by ear. My iron stores were very low but this is probably because of all the nose bleeds and I am now taking a liquid herbal iron suppliment which makes a bit of difference to my energy levels. I am loving feeling the little pokes and prods, even when bub kicks straight up and causes my breathing to give a little hiccup! I'm no longer bending quite as easily and there is a definate difference in my posture, but I have got a few lovely belly rubs from Beloved!

The house:
has benefitted from routines, but amid the boxes that I can't unpack until we have the study ready, it is difficult to keep things anywhere near clean let alone tidy. We hand in the keys to the old house in a fortnight and I will be VERY happy to have that off our backs. We need to just focus on here. I find it tiring and depressing to be constantly tidying and cleaning but still have the house looking like a bomb site with little possibility of relief until Jon can finish some of the projects. As I said, renovation is living on dreams! One area where I am still experiencing success is the laundry. This was a major area of struggle for me so I consider it a major triumph to have been on top of the washing for almost a MONTH! As we speak, all my ironing is done! This is major for me. I don't mind ironing, it is just a matter of finding time when little ones aren't underfoot. There is still no shower and, although I am hanging out to have one again, I have developed a renewed love of bubble baths. I often read a chapter in there which works better than trying to read in bed where I tend to fall asleep a few sentences in. Our routine has made a space for me to spend some time in Bible study every day which has done wonders for my sanity. The lack of computer access has had me pining a little for writing (my best writing is done at the keyboard!) and I have scraps of paper and exercise books falling apart with snatches of ideas. The dilema of any writer: to have a life uses up so much writing time, to be without a life leaves one with nothing to write about! Everything to it's season. One day I will write that novel, complete those articles, and compile that book of poetry. One day I will edit out all those exclaimation marks that I so overuse in the blog and refine, edit, refine, edit and actually have something I'd be happy to see in REAL print (this doesn't count, it's just a glorified journal for me! I forget there are real people out there who read it).

I am finding it difficult, I confess. I am still walking most days but I am lucky to make it to the exercise bike once a week. Why is it slipping? Partially self discipline - I keep finding other things to do instead, and partially the difficulty of trying to organise this chaos. There are never enough hours in the day and exercising, I'm afraid, simply gets rationalised away. I need to do it too as I am eating everything not nailed down. If I try and cut down on my food intake I start to resemble a sloth - it seems where some people's metabolism first digs into the stores on their hips, mine actually thinks my brain is where it should dig in to boost it's nutritional needs. I'd like to say I am trying to just stick with the healthy food etc. but true confessions? Jon and I polished off choc chip and stem ginger biscuits last night, after I had eaten several biscuilts during the day (I got them to take to playgroup, I'm Mum of the Month and it's my job ro organise crafts etc. so I had to sample!) and because I made a special tea for Jon and I after the kids were in bed, I somehow managed to snack constantly between feeding the kids their tea and eating ours. There is also an empty bucket of icecream that Jon got very little of (I rationalised that by saying I needed the freezer space) and I should really know better after how HUGE I got when I was having Christopher!!