Eternal Spring Flowers

Looking for  a fun, easy yet effective spring craft… I stumbled upon se7en’s cardboard spring flowers.

They were so simply and we had such fun making them.

We simply had to outline on cardboard with a permanent market, paint in the spaces,

Cut them out and stick a kebab stick on the back.

And voila we had a beautiful bunch of happy flowers!

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Being Mom – at Home

1am this morning was not what I expected 1am to look like. It began with Amber-Mai crying and before long she began throwing up – again, and again and again – every 15 min or half hour for the rest of the night. During which time Nate joined her in their midnight adventure. Dozing in and out of broken sleep I was dreading the first rays of dawn…

The day did however unfold in the most gentle way. Em rushed off to write an exam and Kadin had to go to a 2 hour violin rehearsal, Amber-Mai fell asleep and Nate lay relaxing on the couch.

Nate not up to doing anything today.

Poor girl – not even a clean sheet left for her to sleep on.

So suddenly I, Mom of 6, found myself alone with the twins. Interestingly they had decided to pretend they were going to school for the day and were needing a snack for their lunch boxes. So we grabbed the moment and the 3 of us quickly cooked up a storm! What a special time it was cooking alongside these special girls – with no interruptions! We made the most delicious fudge-choc biscuits and they designed their own colourful treats.

While we measured and mixed I managed to squeeze in an impromptu “lesson” on how to work out half and quarter cups. They were fascinated that 2 halves really filled the 1 cup and that 2 quarters made a half etc… We then mixed only red, yellow and blue dough before I had to rush out to fetch Kadin and they were left to create orange, purple and green dough. Hmm, suppose that counts for art ;)

The twins then had the most delightful picnic outside in the fresh spring sun – with their “school” lunch boxes – while I dashed around sorting lunch and other children needing me again.

Nate looking for something to do sat reading a whole reader and listened to Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery – before he fell asleep too. The day was spent juggling medicine, dry toast, meals and snacks for my healthy kids, saving cookies from the hot oven, rushing to extra-murals, checking temps and yet the day was one of the most peaceful we have encountered in ages. We did so many things we never get around to doing – the boy even played a board game together this afternoon.

Maybe it was because all else – outside the home – had to fade away and I was forced to focused purely on the immediate needs of my family.

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Finding Spring

This winter has been an exceptionally hard one. It has been bitterly cold – at least for this one Mama it has been – so many long dark days. I am sure the sun did shine many more times than I saw but it was not a fun few months. Having grown up in a lush green suburb that never really felt winter, living now in a place shaded only in brown and dusty yellow, split by streaks for fire burned black, winter bites the depths of my soul. Finding joy in winter is something I need to daily dig really deep to discover!

So spring has been so anticipated, I’ve longed for the longer warm days, to once again walk bare foot upon soft green shaded grass, to watch ducklings scoot across the pond as the weavers noisily build their cozy nests. To be greeted each morning my the sparrows chatter and each evening by the sweet fragrance of jasmine.

The 1 September – the day we use to celebrate the unofficial start of spring – is greatly anticipated in our home. The table is laid beautifully, flowers are collected and then we sit down to sweet fellowship and delicious food. Strangely, as much as spring was anticipated this year, I never really saw it coming. Having gone to bed far too late the night before and then woken far too early by a little person on this special morning, I was already not in the mood for Monday long before dawn! As the fog of sleep lifted slightly I realised it was 1 September and instead of the exuberant enthusiasm I felt only the cold of winter dig into my morning soul. No blissful joy that usually wraps this day only the thought of yet another thing to have to pull off! Yet, in true Mom sense, I rose to the occasion and began to look cheery and bright, yet my heart still clung to the darkest of winter’s days. I helped dash around the garden gathering flowers and quickly bake fresh scones, yet my heart was far from the enthusiasm of the new life represented on this day.

Eventually the candles were lit and we were all seated around the table, heads silently bowed in prayer. It was then that Peace arrived. Silently it invaded the corners of my soul. The flowers, the sweet smell of fresh scones, the warm smiles, homely laughter, candles flickering sure, strong and white…. The next half hour was spent reading poetry as well as many funny attempts of trying to remember spring poems from years gone by. Time stood still as we simply stopped to celebrate life.

Suddenly Dad needed to get to work and school needed to be started and it was time to clear up and move along yet my soul had begun to thaw. In the busy blur of yet another Monday, school, extra murals, friends, dentists and new guinea pigs spring begun to take root.

So often we push through to create special memories and events for our children and yet today I discovered that the pushing through today was in fact for me. And as Mom finds spring she’ll lead the way for others to follow and how blessed I am to have a houseful of little people to walk down this path beside me, encouraging me to keep on.


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Grapefruit Lollies

Hmmm – as uninviting as they sound my children have made an awesome discovery! Grapefruit Lollies! Well actually they were at a friend on Monday who introduced them to the idea so naturally on Tuesday we had to spend the morning making them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea it to basically peel and cut grapefruit into thirds or quarters,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll it in as much sugar as Mom will give you…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick in a wooden stick, lay on a baking tray and freeze over night.

And voila you have grapefruit lollies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can imagine these going down really well on a hot summer day. Just how to store them till then. Will need to give that some thought!

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Parenting For Eternity

Someone recently posted a blog asking parents how they discipline, train and disciple their children. So many answers, so many opinions, so many philosophies – most totally contradicting one another – my head was swimming! So how do we know what is right? What are the chances of us doing a “good job” in raising children that not only “behave well” but children who choose to do what is right, even when they don’t feel like it, just because it is right. How do we raise children to think of and consider others before themselves? Children who have an undying, personal love for God, the earth and those around them, Children who are passionate and expressive, strong yet compassionate and gentle?

Honestly I don’t know!

But…

I know someone who does! Someone who not only knows all these answers but also knows each of my children personally. For this reason I do believe that the biggest, most important investment I made into parenting my children wasn’t buying the latest jungle gym or saving for a dream holiday but rather seeking my heavenly father for wisdom in raising the little people he has put into our care. Through the years He has gently guided, encouraged, rebuked and corrected our parenting and we have learned so many valuable lessons along the way.

So what I’ll share with you here are a few things we have found to be fundamental to parenting our children…

I remember, when our first child was a baby, hearing someone say that they did not allow fighting in their home. This took made me so a double take. Made me sit up an listen. Made me stop and consider all I knew about family, siblings and raising children. “Not allow it!?” As I processed this information I began to realise that as parents we are given our homes to “have dominion over”, to rule and reign. We have the right to determine the atmosphere, the attitudes, expectations and out play of bevaiour with this space we had been given dominion over. With this in mind we set out to determine what we wanted to have our family and home look like.We set high expectations for our children with regards to their bahaviour and attitudes toward one another. One of these is that our speech is to always be full of grace – love, forgiveness, patience and understanding.

Now setting the expectations and obtaining them were 2 separate things and in different seasons, for different children working towards them has meant different approaches. Ultimately when they are very little it meant removing them from a room, or sitting looking at a wall, till they could chose to talk nicely, chose to be kind or chose to change their attitude. As they became older and now knew the expectations we would ask them to “try again” when they used a harsh tone or were mean to someone else. This also often came hand in hand with role play and practicing how they will behave in a situation.

This set them up with a picture in their head of what was an appropriate response rather than just disciplining or punishing them for “being naughty” – leaving them with no idea on how to rectify their behaviour.

As the years have rolled by many situations have simply been spoken through. With the older children we have discussed how you respond when a friend leaves you out or says something hurtful. How to ensure a new child feels accepted in a group or that the boy who scores his own goal in soccer is not made to feel embarrassed. These discussions have once again set them up with an appropriate, loving response rather than leaving them to figure it out all on their own.

I remember hearing years later of another family who would not allow their children to entertain the idea of being a “teenager” due to the connotations, expectations and liberation this word presented but that they would rather become a “young adult” – an adult in training. This immediately changed the expected behavior and attitude of the child from one of reckless, selfishness to one of responsibility and maturity. With this in mind we started speaking of these things with our young children so that by the time they reach 13 they know what the expectation is of them. They look forward to being embraced into the “adult” world and their behaviour grows into this expectation.

God obviously also plays a vital role in all this as our children look to Him as their guide and as their personal relationship with him grows so does their desire to live in a way that honours him.

So no we don’t have all the answers and don’t always get things right. Yet we have learned, through God’s wisdom and guidance, that parenting is not about discipline but rather exception and then training, discipleship and mentoring a child into becoming all they were made to be.

 

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Coming Home

Nagging and Nagging. Deliberate disobedience! Fighting. Arguing. Nastiness. I could no longer recognise my home. As I escaped to do some shopping I found myself walking the aisles dreading going back home. What had happened? After 12 years how could everything so quickly have fallen apart? How could my sweet, helpful children be the same people as these back lashing, nasty creatures that had slipped into our life?

Pacing up and down the pasta aisle my fervent prayers we met with a still, honest answer. I had neglected Being Mom. As much as I didn’t want to hear the truth I chose to look into the cold eyes of reality and take stock of my heart and focus in life. As I pushed the trolley past the milk I realised that unless I “came home” not only physically but emotionally too I would be setting out to “tear down my house.”

It wasn’t as if I had neglected my children. I spent almost every hour of every day with them and yet – when I chose to see the truth – even in being with them I had been absent. We have had the awesome privilege of setting up a homeschool learning centre. This has been an amazing adventure that we as a family had embarked upon as a ministry and we stand in awe of how God has used it to affect so many people’s lives. My children loved coming to do school at the centre. They had so much fun playing with the other children and all the art and crafts, science experiments and great things we offer there. I was there with them all morning. So how could anything have really changed?

Yet how silently and quickly the downward spiral had descended upon us! The symptoms I was now desperately trying to escape from were in fact my children desperately crying out not just for their mom to be around be for her to be present and her heart to be beating alongside theirs.  As I slowed my trolley I knew the truth. Yes I had been physically present with them but my focus had been on the other children. Always pushing my own aside, telling them I’d help them later at home – a later which in fact never came. With us rushing out in the morning we no longer sat and savoured breakfast. The afternoons were a flurry of extra murals. By the evening I was prepping for the next day – time only for bath, supper and bed. No stories or snuggle time. Mom was stretched beyond and having so many people relying on her she let her own slip between her fingers.

In a haze I left the shop and silently began the journey home. My mind full of all that now needed to take place for me to once again return home. God in his love and grace speedily sent me two amazing facilitators to run with lessons at the facilitation centre. They have been such a blessing and have done such a marvelous job. With that I was able to quickly return home. Back to lengthy breakfasts, one on one reading and maths lessons with my weaker children, stories outside in the sun, cuddles when a knee or heart was sore. Healthy food once again began to appear on our table and within days all the nastiness disappeared. Yes, my children do still fight and they still don’t clean their rooms when asked but those things were always there. It’s the grating, antagonising and deliberate disobedience that has all vanished as a vapour that never was.

This Mommy has now learned the truth of Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” And by keeping God close by my side I do trust to keep walking in wisdom.

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Let’s Vote

Today was a special day here in South Africa – it was time to once again vote for the people we see fit to lead our nation.

20 years ago we stood before a land mark decision for South Africa to become a nation in which all are recognised, acknowledged and valued. The past 20 years have faced many challenges. There have been many amazing advances forward but still many disappointments and disillusionment have filled many, many lives. So today as we look upon yet once again a restless nation we all fell hopefully empowered to yet once again help make a difference in this beautiful land.

Our children have not missed the hype and excitement building up around them. Time spent in the car, at breakfast and dinner have been bristling with discussions about different parties, what makes a good president, how one votes and how having a seat in parliament works. Today we were able to take our children with us to vote, they were allowed to stand in the hall and watch how it all came together. Their excitement has been so tangible all day. So yes this vote of ours today may mark a change in South Africa’s history or it may not. It did however begin a shift my children’s minds and hearts toward their love for our land, their future right to vote, their voice in the country, their place as adult citizens and how they too have a responsibility to make a difference in the future of this amazing country.

This could not have been summed better than just after we voted Nate comes to us and says, “When I”m an adult I won’t be voting – because people will be voting for me!”

Nate’s own political party’s badge – Rainbow Nation Freedom

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Cedar Wood

At the beginning of 2013 God led us to begin a homeschool facilitation centre. This has been a most awesome privilege and adventure to embark upon!

We started out with my 4 and just 2 others last year and are now up to 12 children. The vision God has planted into our hearts is to open a learning environment that is an extension of our home. A place that breaths God, a place where individually, excellence, diligence, creativity and a high standard of academics are valued.

Each child is on their own individual program – which makes for interesting mornings, but as they are at their own level for each subject, engaging in work they are excelling in, at a pace and presented in a way that is personally unique to them they are all so motivated.

Each child has a tablet, connected to the wifi, which they use throughout the day to access their reading or maths, science or history. They are required to to do daily research and then narrate about what they have discovered.

Cedar Wood is based upon a Charlotte Mason philosophy and we use a great deal of the Sonlight curriculum – especially for the history and geography. Neil runs awesome weekly science lessons that the kids can’t wait for and many Fridays are spent attending various outings or herb club (run by Peter’s Gate a farm in the midlands that grows herbs and produces herb products.)

Each child is issued with a planner of their day’s work and what they need to achieve during the day. What they don’t complete in the morning they do at home. We don’t have a break time – they simply get to eat when their work is done.

I have stood in awe of how responsible each child is for their work – even our youngest 4 year old diligently takes responsibility for her own learning! The children manage their time and their own work program. It is so interesting to watch the level of excellence and work ethic they place on themselves.

Yes there are squabbles and irritations and attitudes that need to be tweaked but just as in a family these are dealt with promptly and given natural consequences and choices they usually come right quickly.

I think the biggest reflection that this is something good that we have stumbled upon is that the number of parents who have called me to say that within 5 weeks of their children joining Cedar Wood their confidence has skyrocketed. This was never something Cedar Wood aimed to do and yet as the children have grown in responsibility and freedom to be who they were made to be this has been a natural progression.

So as we step boldly into 2014 we hope to soon have many more children learning in this sort of environment.

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A Mere Breath, A Moment, Breath

To hear the whisper of his voice brush the corners of my soul…

 To Know the One who created the depths of the universe

 cares and loves me enough to guide my every step along life’s way.

 To see the breadth and depth of colour.

 My breath catches – it’s hard to breath.

 Sunlight’s dawn caught upon a misty spider web.

Spider's Web

 My children’s eyes.

 Water: cascading, spilling, splashing upon the ancient rocks.

English: Waterfall

 A single feather. Held, between my mortal fingers.

Feather In Hand

The wonder of a world beneath the silent waves.

 The trust of innocence.

 The firm grasp of a baby fist.

 Autumn leaves – dying beauty…

Autumn Leaves begin to fall-052

 The marvel, the wonder, reaching beyond…

 Transending mind and body – Drenching the soul.

 Erupting beyond the physical – embracing the eternal.

 For every breath…

 -all birthed – and held – within a mere moment –

just breathe…

I am thankful!

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At last!! We’re 6!!

Oh my for so long we have counted the months, weeks and days and finally Joy-Summer and Lily-Grace can tell the world that they are 6! With their birthday right in the middle of December we decided to have their Princess Party in mid-November.

It was a simple party, they made princess paper dolls, iced biscuits, had to ward of brother dragon who stole the party packs and then they had a real tea-party! They did however savor every moment and it was a roaring success.

This last week however the “real birthday” arrived. True to tradition they woke to find the breakfast table set and they a breakfast treat awaiting. This time it was waffles and ice-cream!!The excitement of opening presents was however too much and so little was eaten – for a change!

We then all got ready to head off to Butterflies For Africa for the day. We had organised to meet up with granny and grandpa there so we had a full day ahead… Browsing their little butterfly shop is a treat in its self but spending the morning holding butterflies and searching for little caterpillars was so special. The girls were in their element!

They fed the fish and stoked the stick insects -aagh! A picnic was in order during lunch time. Oh and did these little princesses eat!! – before heading back into the butterfly house yet again. By 3pm we bundled 5 dirty,full and happy little people into the car to head home. It was such special day and, “Yes, NOW you can tell everyone that you are 6!!!”

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