Thursday, 14 November 2013

Table talk

As my first born graduates from high school and is about to embark on a brand new chapter of his life. My heart spins to an uncharted rhythm. He already spends most of his time @school, work, or with his mates. His dinner times at home now are counted on 1 hand rather than 2.

We have children with the hope they grow into healthy, happy, independent, community serving adults. But when they reach this stage, it's harder to let them go than imagined....

No parenting book prepares us for the barrage of feelings that accompany this phase in life. Though there are myriads of books written on the 'empty nest' syndrome or of children leaving home. The reading of, the knowledge of, still doesn't immunise against the mixed emotions that accompany it. Happy. Sad. Nostalgic.

My fourth born commented recently how much she loved that we turned the TV off and ate dinner at the dinning room table every night.

Such a simple act.

Such precious time.

She had recently had a sleep over where watching TV couch dinners were the norm, nobody talked to each other she noted.

Dinner time. T A B L E  T A L K has always been highly prized in our family. We have only had the TV on during meal times under super, exceptional circumstances {Usaine Bolt running the Olympic 100mtr sprint, an absolute must to catch live} and other momentous world events. At all other times, the TV is off during dinner.

Dinner time is sacred.

Couch dinners are a rarity as much as the momentous world events in our home.

Sunshine's comment about loving family dinner times was music to a mother's ear. We all hope that precious family traditions as simple as they maybe, are etched with positivity.

As my four stretch their wings, with dancing, part time jobs, music and social lives, it is becoming a treat for us all to be @home at the one time to dine together anyway.

All the more to treasure these times. To debrief. To talk through the day. Plan the week ahead. Logistics. Raise issues. Debate. Laugh. Love. Live. Cherish.

Cherishing table talk
Cherishing dinner time
Cherishing milestone moments yet again

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Newborn adoration

We all know the mesmerising factor of a newborn. Their tiny perfection. Their smell. Their cuteness. Their adorableness. What is it with newborns and babes that strikes such wonder in the hearts of all?

The same cutesy wutesy pinch able cheeks and chubby thighs on a baby just aren't as cute on an adult are they?

Their flawless skin, innocence and helplessness melts even the hardest hearts.

Every move they make be it stretching to yawning sends us all into ooohhhs and arghs. Being adored for any little facial expression, every roll, every attempt at a smile, pretty much anything they do except crying, we wow at.

It reminded me of when EQ was a newborn and of being in the city at a popular cafe. We just happened to bump into the very famous, Tommy Emmanuel! For those not acquainted with Tommy's music, he is an Australian guitarist, one of the world's most acclaimed. We were both standing in line to pay for our bill, quietly debating whether to ask for his autograph when HE asked us if he could sniff our baby? "I love the smell of newborns", he said! If it hadn't been Tommy Emmanuel we would have thought it a weird request by a stranger! However his fame somehow made his request acceptable and yes EQ was sniffed by Tommy at about 1 week of age! EQ does play the guitar and though his brush with fame has not led him to be a super guitarist himself, it is a bemusing story we like to tell.

Sunday our family had a beach get together and our newest little cousin, 3 months old held centre stage in his car capsule. Wooing us all with his baby magic. While his older toddler brother came a close second running around just being super energetic.

It struck me again how the wonder of new life has existed the world over since time began. Seeing my daughters caught in the wonder of their newborn {3 months is not quite so newborn anymore, but new enough} cousin, fixed on him for almost 2 hours was pure delight.

The phenomena of newborn adoration fills most families where children are cherished. No wonder children struggle grappling the concept they are not the centre of the universe when for much of their early years we treat them as though they are!

Babies and toddlers by their very nature demand our whole attention as they need us for absolutely everything. Yet as they grow and become ever slowly more independent they tend to loose centre stage.

The focus shifts from being adored as a babe to being nurtured, cared for and encouraged to flourish and shine be it at school, in sports, in dance, in music, in life. We go from being adored simply for who we are to being appreciated for our achievements or what we do.

A gentle reminder to cherish our children simply for who they are, not what they do or are becoming.

Our culture is so easily production driven. Though it's wonderful to see our children strive for excellence in what they do and to achieve their full potential it is also wonderful to see them thrive simply just being who they are too!

Cherishing the wonder of newborns
Cherishing the lessons of new life 
Cherishing our children for who they are

Saturday, 21 September 2013

artistic potential

Rose bud creation, making food come to life! 

Being able to see the artistic potential in the world around us isn't just for artistic types; painters, poets & professionals, it's for ALL of us regardless of artistic ability.

This week our lunch was kindly prepared for us by a delightful young chef at one of the RACFs (Residential Aged Care Facilities) where I work. He made a tray of simple sandwiches into pure art each day creating something special out of something most of us would throw away!

Exhibit a) above, rose bud out of tomato skin.

It struck me again how creativity oozes in everything. Even a boring plate of sandwiches can come alive with some artistic creativity and flair.

Little things delight me. This little rose bud reminded me of the artistic potential in each of us and especially within each of my much yet to be released.

We may not be a culinary chef or sculptor in the pure essence of these but we do create, sculpt and fill as parents. Some of it is without our control (the creative process of embryo to baby) however once they are born how we shape our children's lives is largely within our control.

Being able to see the potential in our children and nurturing that is the wonderful privilege we have as parents. Seeing it as a joyful responsibility and not a burden is a part of cherishing them.

We see such diversity in their unique personalities, their likes, dislikes, their passions, interests, strengths and weaknesses, their friendship circles & networks...... seeing their potential to be the best they can be is like creating roses out of tomato skins!

Cherishing the little things
Cherishing artistic potential
Cherishing our responsibility as parents 

Monday, 26 August 2013


"Well it's kinda like cool but with swag, like xyz has swag, but only swag when he walks, the way he walks, he doesn't dress with swag, I'll show you a photo of swag" - my daughter trying somewhat successfully to explain what swag is.

When I grew up, a swag was a sleeping bag that you rolled out under the stars.

Now it's a style. A fashion statement or way of being or carrying yourself. Like punk, indi (individual), hippie, gothic, metro, hip hop, swag is apparently just another one to add to the list. It's the type of clothes you wear, the way you walk [with attitude], & even talk. It's usually associated with rap artists & the hip hop style of clothing with baggy jeans, exposed Bonds undies, hoodies and hats.

Are we getting close? You know what I mean!

I did laugh as Thoughtful Princess was trying to explain it. She knew what she meant but couldn't articulate it clearly. We were driving to a concert, her & a friend were chatting incessantly when the word, swag popped into the conversation. I was curious to see if my interpretation aligned with what their teenage definition was. It was pretty close.

We are speaking the same language. Gotta check these things, as it changes with such speed. I banned the word 'gay' in our house for quite some time, thinking it was discriminatory towards homosexuals, but quickly learnt that it was just the current trend to describe basically anything that was great to embarrassing or uncool! Everything was gay for a while. Now everyone that's cool has swag!

What about style & fashion for our kids & teens?

We certainly can't dictate what or how they carry themselves, we see them evolve into their own style over the years. Not to box anyone in, but in general terms it's often what our kids are into that to some extent influences their style. For example in our family we have a surfer, a skateboarder & 2 dancers - and pretty much their preference for clothes and style fits broadly into what most of us would think those activities/styles would wear. With one exception, one of our dancers is a hippie {for good or bad she gets that from her mother}!

Confession. My hippie like daughter got in the car yesterday ready for church wearing ripped jeans, a sloppy joe and her ugg boots. I couldn't help but say something. And immediately regretted it. So what if she goes looking a bit casual? But it reflects on me? Am I not a good parent providing nice clothes? "You have so many nice dresses can't you wear one of them"?

I felt this incredible tension as a mother {& by far not the first & only to feel this tension!};

a] wanting her to have more respect for herself and pride to dress up for some occasions and
b] not wanting to make a fuss over clothes, it's really insignificant.

I think on this one I stuffed up. It was about me - feeling embarrassed, not about her comfort or having space to find her own style.

I listened to a gorgeous talk recently on Brene Brown's blog page - a lovely mother describing to her daughter the difference between style and fashion. The link is below, it's well worth a listen....Click on the hyperlink here and scroll down the page to the video of Katherine Centre reading her "What you now know" essay.

Cherishing different styles
Cherishing the nuances of language
Cherishing the naturalness of my four

Saturday, 24 August 2013

it does get easier

Three loads of unfolded laundry sit destitute in the hallway, the kitchen cupboards are covered in handprints, tea stains & drips of old gravy, the dinning room floor looks like it hasn't been vacuumed for weeks & you just did it yesterday, your toddler nearly makes it to the toilet but wees on the bedroom carpet just near the ensuite, the phone won't stop ringing, you're out of your mind tired & wish you could sleep for a week without interruption & find yourself singing, "hot potato, hot potato" {aka Wiggles} in the shower on your own when your preschoolers are already tucked up in bed.

Have you ever felt like this?

Out of control? Overwhelmed?

It does get easier! 

My memories of being a young Mum with 4 toddlers under the age of 6years are of sleepless nights and endless days of lactating, nappies, cooking, cleaning, washing, toilet training and toddler taming.

Though I LOVED being a stay-at-home mum, and am eternally grateful we could afford to do that for 7 years & would not exchange an iota, those days were tougher than some of my busiest night duties working as an RN.

Crying babies, sleep terrors, toddler temper tantrums and wanting my boobs back after breastfeeding for 4 years are vivid memories!!

Some of you reading this  maybe experiencing something similar right here, right now.

I wish I could say I cherished every second. I tried too. But sometimes it was downright pure grunt and grind. A day in and day out menu of weetbix, mashed banana, sultanas, cheese stix & spaghetti {with some minor variations} Playschool, Sesame Street & the Bear in the Big Blue House, trips to the park, library and Nanna's house.

They were absolutely wonderful days. And they were absolutely exhausting days.

For anyone maybe feeling like they are on the merry-go-round of motherhood and wishing your toddlers to grow up el pronto so the mundane doesn't feel so quite mundane, can I encourage you to step back laugh at yourself, your messy house, your uncoloured, unbrushed hair, make-up less face and, hug your children tight, read to them, forget about the house, do less and cherish more. 

They grow up oh so fast.

The overfull laundry baskets won't be there forever, nor will they.

We can't have the time back again. I often wish I could.......

It does get easier. 

"It's not supposed to be easier though is it? The beauty is in the struggle. Bravery only comes when we have something to be brave about. It's the same with strength, tenderness, self-sacrifice, motherhood & all the noblest things about being human." - Katherine Centre 

As they grow the physicality of parenting, meeting their every need changes to supporting them emotionally, socially, spiritually. As they become more independent, they become our friends and the hard work of those pre-school years starts to kick in! Instead of changing nappies we are giving relationship advice!

Cherishing the memories
Cherishing those days and moments
Cherishing the fruit of invested time

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Threads of mystery

 Thread of Life image/willows95988

An element of mystery keeps us all suspended.

If we all knew everything life would be boring wouldn't it?

An artistic friend spoke this phrase recently and it grabbed my attention as words have a habit of doing. It speaks to me of the mysteries in our lives that are woven in to become a part of our tapestry. Threads of the unexplainable, the sacred, the divine, of transcendence that don't make rationale sense but are a very real, vivid part of our lived experience & are definitely not just our imaginations.

Like golden threads that weave their way through our lives, some clear, some more ambiguous, adding to the mystery, our story, our journey. Perhaps these are the threads of mystery that keep us yearning towards something/someOne bigger than ourselves.

Like the times when there is no money in the bank to pay bills and out of the blue there is a remittance for something that perfectly covers the total.

Like the mystery of deep connection that keeps friendships strong against all odds.

Like the mystery of callings that people sense to be, to do, to follow, like Florence Nightingale (called to nursing), Nelson Mandela (called to politics), Mary McKillop (called to work with the poor, children & women in early Australia), Dame Cecily Saunders (called to medicine & care for the dying, mother of modern palliative care).

Like the mystery of feeling deep, inner peace in the midst of something really terrible. How is it possible?

Like the mystery of forgiveness and how it sets us free from anger, hate & bitterness.

Like the mystery of dreaming about someone you haven't seen for a decade then bumping into them the very next day!

Like the mystery of merely thinking of buying sewing kits for the women of Mangiliu in Vanuatu & then a stranger ringing to say they had 20 kits prepared.

Like the mystery of a multi-cultural dance group wooing hearts back to their Maker.

Like the mystery of healing and miracles people the world over testify too.

Like the mystery of potential, ambitions, visions, hopes & plans that become a reality.

Do we unconsciously make them happen or is there a higher force working with us?

Like the mystery of Diana's death? Was she murdered, was it an accident?

There are some things in life we will never know. There are some things that we are invited to accept by faith.

Inviting us to cherish the threads of mystery in our life whatever they maybe. May they lead us to peace, wholeness, gratitude, purpose and to find meaning that matters.

For me that meaning is acknowledging someOne bigger than my insecurities, struggles, doubts & circumstances, greater than what my physical eyes can see. Who is mystery and meaning personified. Who makes meaning out of the madness of this world. Who gives hope in the midst of the misery and mysteries of life. Who gently & tenderly weaves all the threads of my life, our lives together to have destiny & direction in the now & beyond.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Keep no record of wrong

 Photo by Focus on the Family

After dinner table talk turned to people the kids find difficult to get along with. I could sense the conversation quickly deteriorating into a hate session so tried to hijack/steer it back in a positive direction. 

To avoid an all out gossip session, thought we could turn it to finding the good in the bad. I challenged the kids to find something good in the person they were struggling with. Someone @ work, someone in their class, school teachers. 

It's easy to find things we don't like. Not always so easy to find the good. But it's really, really helpful to train our brains to look for the good while we are young, so it becomes second nature. Unfortunately I think our hearts are more often naturally bent on complaining & finding the bad than gratitude & goodness. 

Bending it back the other way can be painful but needful! 

It takes a bigger person to not fixate on the bad. To not keep a record of wrongs. It takes grace {not feelings & sometimes pure grit} to forgive those who have wronged us. 

We also debated about 'judging' someone. What does that mean? We all need to make 'assessments' of people. How do we judge without condemning? Yes we all make conscious and unconscious judgements about each other, but when that becomes negative is that unhealthy, nonconstructive judgements? 

We want out children/teens to have good judgements, read people well, give people the benefit of the doubt, to be a good judge of character, to be discerning so they don't get sucked in, taken advantage of, bullied or harassed. It's sometimes tough to find the balance! 

Cherishing the times we have to sow seeds of compassion and grace into our teens hearts. We can't ignore the fact they will have people in their lives they don't particularly like or get along with, nor hope against all hope they won't just succumb to negative attitudes cause it's easier. Rather try to give them strategies to more than just cope, to aim towards thinking & speaking positively of others in spite of personality clashes or frustrations.  

So for family prayers I suggested we pray for those we struggle with. To pray a blessing on them. It wasn't easy. Even for me. But I felt it was a positive way to end what could have been unfiltered negativity. 

One of my teens prayed - "Lord help me to love those I hate"!  

Refreshingly raw & honest. Love it. Powerful. Change always starts with a willingness to do so! 

The above photo caught my eye on Focus on the Family facebook page after our table talk conversation, it came with a reminder to pray for our own children; 

"......that they would have the grace to forgive those who hurt them instead of keeping a record of wrongs.".

This has got to be be better than back stabbing & carrying bitterness, hatred & negative thoughts towards others. I think maybe it's not just for our children or teens, but for all of us......