Fathers Day Ideas

2015-01-05 04.34.35As we draw yet again towards another celebration – namely Father’s Day – it is easy to become overwhelmed by the cost and complexities of yet another special day. In the chaos of it all we then loose sight of actually celebrating the person and what they mean to us. Besides where do we begin to thank and celebrate these special men that hold not only our children’s hearts but ours too!

I would like to offer you a few simple ideas of ways that you can enjoy the day together without it becoming overwhelming and you spending an arm and a leg.

Firstly we all love to get and give cards and gifts on Father’s day. Yet – I’m sorry – but Men are some of the hardest people to come up with ideas for! I have however noticed over the years that the handmade cards, handwritten notes are some of the things that my husband has treasured. For this reason we always make homemade gifts and cards. It can often be hard to think of new ideas so here are a few to help you out….

Having loads of little people’s art all over the house can become overwhelming so why not put up a hook for each child and for every Father’s Day or birthday or Christmas you present him with a new art work. Here are some great ideas of personalised artworks and cards your special little people can make for dad.

2014-12-28 03.54.12Some gifts can include the usual chocolates and other bought items or you can make him something special.

How about making some hot chocolate on a stick (place cooking chocolate in an ice tray and stick a sucker stick into it and then once set package it. Then you simply stir the chocolate stick into a mug of hot milk.) YOu could even turn this into an event of everyone having their hot chocolate on a stick while you look through old photos or watch old family videos.

Another idea is a snack bag for him to keep in the car or on his desk. This could have all sorts of little packets of chocolates, dried fruit and nuts. Then to make it more special you could ask your child to write little notes that they can intersperse with the goodies – so that each time dad opens a pack he gets a little note too. This works well with a jar of biscuits too. If you cut up little pieces of paper and write love notes on these, then roll them up and tie them with cotton. Put these in among the biscuits in a jar for Dad.

Instead of spending huge amounts on visiting crowded restaurants on Father’s day one of our treats is to have a picnic. This can either take place in our own garden or we go to a nature reserve or the botanical gardens. Then part of our gift to dad is the picnic basket packed with all his favourite treats. Living in South Africa the middle of winter can present us with an awesome picnic day or a freezing day. Don’t be discouraged however…. a picnic in the lounge (you could maybe string up a few blankets over some chairs as a make shift tent – is a day always remembered. Taking photos on a special day such as this can then contribute to his gift as you give him and I-Owe-You in the form of an empty photo frame that you can fill with pictures from that day. The photo frame can be a bought one or one of the homemade examples from the link above.

Above all Dad wants to know he is special and loved. This will look different for every family but I can guarantee that taking the time out to do something special as a family and presenting him with something made from his little person’s heart will let him know just how much he means to you all.

We would love to hear from you all about your father’s day creations.

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The Odd Sock Fallacy

So I have tried to ensure that all 7 of our children not only have socks – without any holes – but that they actually have socks that match. So often I’ve been tempted to grab two pinkish socks and declare them a pair. But yet even in this I know the truth – that if anyone were to have a close look, they would see… odd socks.

socksWe don’t just have a few odd socks lying around, we have an odd sock box!  Oh I have tried it all. I have even tried pinning the socks together in the wash. This not only resulted in me spending my precious time now untangling pins from socks but we now had holes in the socks too.

Yet something keep welling up within – what will others think if they see that my kids socks don’t match? Will they not begin to question what else has unraveled within our home?

Odd socks today and rebellious teenagers tomorrow!

I have however just realised, that in the busyness of our present reality my diligence in the sock department has somewhat slacked in the last while. And to my horror I noticed one of my children at a church meeting with odd socks! But not just odd socks as in two blue socks that weren’t quite the same.

No these were odd socks!

As in one was maroon and the other white with some cartoon character upon it. I must have looked like a fish staring at her feet but when I finally yanked my stare away – oh my – I noticed that the 16 year old next to her also had on odd socks! Slowly the reality, the truth of the situation sank in. She was wearing odd socks and yet their home was not falling apart and these teenagers are some of the most awesome people I know.

It was as if scales had fallen from my eyes.

What else had I perceived as being reality and yet there had been placed over my eyes a warped hue of untruth. I see people’s clothes, homes, cars, holidays and Facebook realities and somehow feel like I know them and are able to contain them within some kind of box and yet the truth is that I cannot define anyone by the colour of their socks.

So as I’m learning to be gentle upon myself and not place my expectations beyond my reality I’m beginning to have grace with those around me too. So please don’t judge my effectiveness as Mommy on my children’s sock co-ordination. In the bigger scheme of life I’m choosing to lay down this battle for sock perfection and instead be real.

No I don’t have everything under control, no I don’t rush out to buy new clothes when a hole is torn climbing a tree, not I can’t stay up every night darning socks and warn knees….

20150117_065840But I can love my children beyond their wildest dreams, pray with them and tuck them in at night, I can chase and tickle them and run around the garden catching falling leaves or stand in awe of a butterfly. I can honestly say that odd socks are no longer able to define me! Instead they are able to free me to see that there is in fact more to this crazy life than being perceived to be a perfect mom. Instead I want to be real and revel in the freedom of odd socks!

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A Wintery day…

So the last month has been once of the craziest ever. About 5 weeks ago Kadin underwent a huge chest operation. It was far from home and the kids had to stay with my folks while I was at the hospital and Neil was back and forwards.

We were home for about 4 days before we had to start packing to move house. We had decided only the week before that to rent out our home and move to a farm a few kilometers away. So it wasn’t a major move to a new town – but enough to rock little people’s lives. With the move our business suddenly required me to go back to work 8 to 11am each day. So need one say it has been a rough month.

So on Saturday with the new kitchen flooring lying in the dining room waiting to be put down, boxes still calling to be unpacked we succumbed to the cold wintery day and just had a day out. I think some children even spent their day on their PJs. So amongst the clutter and chaos around us we were able to just doing what we each enjoy doing – be that playing on the computer or putting up a tent in the play room – it was amazing to have a day off to just be as a family.

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A weekly round up 24-25/4/2016

With all the public holidays this last week was a holiday week. After a month that was full of chaos – Kadin having a major op and the others spending a week with my folks, the next week we moved house and then I needed to go back to work for the month – I’m usually at home with the children but business called for the month. It was really a hard month on us all. So this week was such a blessing and we all beginning to feel slightly human again.

I even managed to blog a piece of writing I wrote a while back. Raising Little – Big people 

 

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Raising Little – Big People

What a privilege it is to be a Mommy and be able to daily watch our little people grow from scrunched bundles of pink to dirty toddlers into lanky teenagers and beyond….. As we navigate this uncharted territory with each individual child I repeatedly remember someone once telling me that, “We are not raising children but adults.” In our homes we don’t have before us a future Big Kid but instead a little Mommy or Daddy, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a dancer, an artist, a friend, a home maker, a designer. All these things and so many more are all packaged up – often not so neatly – into these little bundles set before us. So as we discipline and train and mentor our children as much as it feel tedious and that I’m doing this to just have some quiet or order in my day today – we are in fact missing the whole point. All our hard work parenting isn’t about the here and now or today but rather about the “..ever after.” And yet what we do today can deeply impact that to become a “happy” or “disastrous” ever after story.

As I hear my son speak sharply, using harsh, barking commands with his sisters everything within me wants to give him a piece if my mind and send him into a timeout – till he can be nice! Yet what will this gain? How will he know “how to be nice” if I never equip him with the gentler tones to replace those bossy ones that come so naturally to a born leader? I once again gently draw him aside reminding him how you use your voice matters and how it effects  people. We talk about what our home would be like if his daddy spoke to me like he spoke to his sisters. We talk about him being a Daddy and a business owner and how he thinks his family and employees would like to be spoken to. Because the reality is the way he talks to his siblings will overflow into the way he talks to his wife and those around him in his adult life.

Beyond just managing the way our children talk to one another we have an awesome opportunity to use our daily lives to equip them with business, family, home making, people, leadership and many, many more skills that they can draw from in their adult lives. I send an older child to fetch a younger sibling off the trampoline, ask a 8 year old to make biscuits, request an older sibling to bath, dress and make a bottle for the baby, I require one to call the library to renew the books or another to phone the take away to order dinner. By the age of 10 every child needs to know how to run the home for a day – do and hang the washing, cook 3 meals, look after the younger siblings and such. A challenge each of our children have risen too and been so proud to achieve.

So as I lie on the grass in the park and watch my 13 year old stroll off with his 2 baby sisters in tow – seeing him playing with them and taking such joy in them as well as taking the initiative to take their hands and care for them my heart swells with pride as I see not before my eyes a clumsy, lanky 13 year old but instead a little Daddy. A small man-child growing in his role of leader, provider, carer and protector of those placed within his care.

As I hear my 9 year old ensure that everyone is doing their part to clear and clean the kitchen after dinner I see before me growing a leader and CEO who understands a job well done. As I need to yet again remind an 8 year old to put her clothes in the washing or cupboard I am seeing to the training of a homemaker. As we discuss money spending and saving principles in an aisle in Spar I am witnessing the training of business men and women. When I once again train a tone or attitude used in jest or nastiness toward a sibling we are building good friends and citizens of the world. Don’t be fooled by their size – nothing is ever lost on these little people of ours.

Let us not underestimate these “little people” who right before our eyes have the capacity to change the future through the way they will one day love their families, run their businesses and share their talents with the world around them. So keep on keeping on. Your efforts will reap many a reward in the years to come.

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Sharks Board Outing

20160323_145308With Kadin in hospital recently we needed to do something special and differnt with the other children – yet we didn’t want to leave Kadin on his own for long. So I was really excited when I remembered that the Sharks Board we situated across the road from the hospital. I remember going there as a child and I have vivid recollections of the demonstartion. The sights and smells are still so real today that it felt surreal that in such a fast changing world – there could be someting I could share with our children just as it was when I was a child. Amazing how nostalogic we become in our old age 😉 Then again just as we loved to hear about things our parents did – in the old days, so our children like to hear about us in the old days and to have the opportubity to visit somewhere I went to as a little girl was just as exciting as teh outing itself.

20160323_14530020160323_150730And we were not disappointed. On arriving we bought our tickets and were ushered into a room to watch a movie on the history of sharlnets in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This was a really great opportunity for the children to see footage of the old beachfront as well as to apprciate how far technology and general development has come and yet some things just stay the same as they are alreay working well – so why change them.

After this we went to watch a shark disection. This was really facinating – and just as smelly as I remember it to be. They found a baby shark in the stomach of the shark which means that would have been one of its last meals – before it was caught in the nets. After the talk we browsed the museum and shop before heading back to the hospital. The children learned so much from the hands on experience and it opened so many discussion points over the next few days. This has really created a special memory during a hard, chaotic week of our lives.

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What a Week

 

Just out of theater and already looking up his English League soccer results.

So this last week has been one that I would not choose to repeat anytime soon and yet as difficult as it was we have been challenged, stretched and grown. Kadin has for a while been due to have corrective surgery on his ribcage. So this was the week.

Unfortunately it had to be done at a hospital an hour and a half from our home.  After much deliberation we decided to leave the other kids with Neil at my folks house half an hour from the hospital while I boarded with Kadin at the hospital.  A family split in 2 for 4 days and a child in ICU after having one of the most painful operations done stretched us to the core. Yet we had to find a way to survive.

The beautiful view from the hospital window.

 

Eventually we struck the silver lining by realising our only way to cope was to be thankful. Thankful for this horrid intrusion in our lives? Thankful that Kadin needed a metal bar inserted into his chest? Thankful that we were exhausted beyond imagination and thankful that everyone was being stressed in ways we had not known before?

And even now he reads!

Needless to say – we had to dig deep – really deep to see why we could possibly be thankful for this to be taking place. We began with thankfulness that Kadin and I could spend so much time together watching movies and just being together. He was thankful for the soccer he was able to watch on TV at the hospital, the awesome food he was given and the sweets visitors brought him.  We then began to dig deeper and I realised that I was thankful that Kadin had this opportunity to grow his character. To learn about bravery in a non traumatic way and to really know what pain was so that he could grow his compassion for others in pain. I was also thankful that the other children had an amazing time with their grandparents that they will always remember, we managed to squeeze in a family trip to the sharks board and I too learned so much about patience and servanthood this week.

 

Loving the spoiling at Bibi and Babu’s house.

I realised that too often we focus on our difficulties and not on how they can actually bring such growth and give us new and different experiences that we would have otherwise missed.  So in this crazy week I learned that if we take time to still ourselves long enough, choose to dig deep enough and open our eyes we can in fact find joy in all circumstances.

At home being looked after by his Littlest People.

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Mommy Tides

Waves

Pulsing forward, relentless, endless, foaming blue, climbing green. Reaching, pulling, tugging forming tide after tide, year after year waves pound and crash. Immediately ripped back from whence they came. Always reaching yet never arriving. Always trying, hoping yet never satisfied. Instead they pull and tug, shape and form the world below them.  Churning sands, crushing shells, throwing creatures from their home upon desolate sands. Striving, striving, driving, driving, pulling, tugging, churning tide after tide, year after year forever restless achieving nothing yet altering everything.

Does this churning, relentless mass reflect parenting, my life, your story? Striving, pulling, churning, tugging. Always trying, trying whilst churning and crushing the world below… Trying to ensure the home is not only well kept but sanctuary to all, including the wandering, distant stranger. Crushing every imaginary fort, artistic pursuit or creative flair in the chase for a perfect home. Trying to ensure manners are blossoming without reaching the broken confused soul beneath the plastic grin? Trying to ensure a solid educational foundation ignoring, hence squelching the quest for true knowledge, curiosity and insight desperate to be heard? Trying to show little ones God, his love, miracles, mercy and grace all the while tugging and pulling their natural gaze from Him toward the parent instead? Trying to create aesthetically and nutritionally awesome meals at the cost of pushing aside little hands and hearts desperate to be involved…. Trying, trying, pulling, pushing, tugging yet achieving nothing. Depositing scraps of sand upon the shores of life only to have the next wave wash it away again.

Above the relentless ocean soars the gull on wing and wind. Instead of the relentless tugging, pulling, scraping, it glides. Free, soaring. It’s nest is tenderly, thoughtful woven together. Built of the strongest sticks lined with the softest down, tenderly, lovingly prepared. Built to just the right size and shape for that year, that season, those tiny birds dependant on Mamma this year.

As our year draws silently toward its close let’s assess where we have been and how we have done it. Tugging, nagging, dragging or tenderly building and weaving something eternally beautiful into the lives of our precious little people.

Then just breath in the sweet salt air – free to all who choose to stop and drink it deep into the well of their being.

Nesting

As we sit and ponder the year behind and the one ahead let’s choose, not just for today but for the future of our children, let’s choose to soar. Instead of year after year tugging and pulling let us take this season to weave, with love, foreknowledge, instinct, care and compassion a nest designed just right in which your family can flourish. A nest that protects and provides warmth yet allows for individual growth and exploration. A nest safely tucked against the cliff, far above the crashing waves and sheltered from the howling storm. A nest keeping everyone safe within the protective boundary of love and acceptance. Then one no longer needs to keep striving, trying, pulling instead one can soar high upon the wings of creativity, free from a lifetime of bondage to this wearisome toil. Knowing for this season all are protected and safe within the boundaries of the nest. We can also rest assure that from this season, fledglings won’t be crushed and maimed but instead fed to flourish so that they too can soar!

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Growing a Great People

So the many days rush by blurring into yet another year… “My how they have grown.” “How old are they now?”, “Look he’s taller than you” – yeh… well… almost!

In the trenches we don’t see or measure these things. We just keep the meals coming and washing folded. Yet truth reigns and another year slips under the radar – hard to measure yet easy to view as friendships deepened, clothes seem to have shrunk as legs have sprouted and confidences have grown.

This Mamma heart swelling with pride as our little troop joined in the Christmas service – violin poised and voices raised. Greeting adults with young manly handshakes and choosing to not take the biggest or be brave enough to say they don’t need yet another slice. Why yes I do see they have grown!

Small army of ours gathered outside on a chilly, windy, Christmas eve dressed as shepherds guarding their little toy flock. Bread poised above a shared pootjie pot of soup. Sparkling eyes, brother banter, voices rising to sing into the Silent Night.

I stand in awe as I survey this festivity our love has created. One Mamma’s heart swollen beyond this created realm.

Sleep evading me I crept out to greet a dark, wet Christmas morn. Enveloped in the predawn the presence of God wrapped around a deep worn heart. Candles flicking Hope into this new season as preparations for the day ahead are being born. One man child emerging from his slumber into the candle light to share his mother’s joy. Unrestrained exuberance digging into his stocking treasure. Full of awe I watch this teetering between unrestrained childishness and embracing the uncharted territory of adulthood as he digs in gleefully, then pauses – looks up grinning, “These were such good ideas for our stockings – Thanks Mom.” Slowly more little souls emerge clutching their loot come join us in the candle light.

Mamma’s heart filled with deep warm oozing love for these great beings from which I daily learn so much. Yet as I survey this my heart breaks. It breaks for my humanity that I carry – how I so easily crumple these precious ones with my careless words and harsh tones. If my Heavenly father spoke and instructed me in the ways I often allow to carelessly slip off my tongue would I want to call him Father? Yet these resilient children of mine look up with eyes brimful of love and endearment. Again my heart breaks. “Father fill me with your wisdom as I raise these souls of yours! Fill me with your thoughts and your words! Fill my well and capacity so deep that my patience expounds all reason and logic.”

As I gingerly reach for each of their gifts they have for me –  from bookmarks to flowers to poems and chubby finger scribbling – each one personally thought of and made just for me, as I watch them thank a sibling for the grapes they have given them or share in the joy of another’s gift – my heart strings pull. Heaven is filled with my prayer – “Oh Father God how did you dare entrust me with these precious children of yours?”

So today as I stand and see the morn of yet another year sprinkling the horizon. As the rays peep over the closing of this chapter and the opening of another new year I cling to the request of Solomon,

“But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people…. So give your servant a discerning  heart to govern your people and to distinguish  between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

“A Great People” – Yes who am I to be entrusted with such as these? Each day this week, month, year – till I begin to get it right – I pray Dear Father help me guard my words and give me wisdom to train these Great People in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it but will instead be ready to do the will of their Father.”  So yes this year they have grown greatly, in all aspects – but above all that they are loved more fiercely by this mamma every day.

 

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Building Beyond the Holiday Season

As the craziness of the holiday seasons engulfs our reality it is so easy for us to become caught up in the business of it all and in so doing in fact nullify it all. Despite your background or religious preference December has become a time of holiday and celebrating family. We organise our lives around trips to visit long lost family members – be it granny up the road or a cousin in another province – as well as travelling to distant corners of the world. We may not even have to travel far but “getting together” and connecting with each other is what is on all our minds. We race around purchasing gifts, arranging menus, organising food and entertainment. We become so caught up in organising this amazing family get together that we do in fact often miss the family in it all.

This may simply outplay in that as we are finally all gathered that we are in fact all too tired to actually enjoy each other’s company or with all the planning and scheming and imagining, the day doesn’t go quite as we expected so disappointment, hurt and resentment knocks loud at our door – leaving a bitter taste in our lives. These can however be avoided by simply resting well and choosing to keep our minds on the reality that we are all human and that things will therefore not usually play out as we imagined. So keeping expectations real can allow us to experience these family times as something to treasure – even if they are not perfect.

A deeper concern however, is that in the business of this all we totally miss each other – especially our little people. We are rushing in and out to shops, baking cooking, organising outings and playdates and the holidays are bustling and happening all around us. We are all together – in the same house – most of the time, and yet do we really stop and truly see one another.

In his play Our Town, first performed in 1938 Thornton Wilder perfectly captures this in a scene when Emily asks to return from her grave to visit her 12th Birthday. She is then seen observing the day from the future. Her words capture so much that we too often don’t wish to acknowledge:

“Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me….. I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another….. I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed.”

How easily the days and years slip by. How easily it is to provide our children with a beautiful home, amazing food, friends, entertainment and toys beyond their wildest dreams but if we stopped and asked them what they truly desired more than anything else – they would say they would give it all up for your time. All our children – and aunty and granny for that matter – really want from us is our love and attention. They want to know that they are more important than the food being presented just right or the table being laid perfectly. They want to be a part of our lives. They want us to stop running and take the time to push them on the swing or sit on the floor and draw with them. To include them in our shopping and let them help make an imperfect pudding or set the table with us – including the name tags that they have lovingly scrawled out for each guest.

So as we bustle about creating the perfect day don’t forget about the people that are all a part of your reality. People that love you dearly and wish for nothing more than to have you share that love with them. The challenge here is to take a moment in this craziness to spend a quiet moment with each of our special little people. Bake some biscuits with your daughter or make a puzzle together. Single out one of your children to cuddle up on the bed with to watch a movie or take a slow walk around the neighbourhood or simply take the time to stop and listen to what they are trying to say to you – as Sally Clarkson experienced – you may be suitably surprised by what you hear them say.

As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise it’s not the perfect roast but rather these little intimate moments that our children will remember. And above all its these times that weave into creating relationship with each of them something that will become the fibre who you are as a family. Something they can hold in their hearts as they grow – knowing my mom and dad loved and valued me more and beyond their “to do” list. So let’s be challenged this holiday to not become so caught up in organising family time that we miss the Family in it altogether.

 

 

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