Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Week of Surf & Faith

We have just returned from our annual Catholic Home Education camp (our 14th year) a week of sand 

and surf, our children love the opportunity to swim at the beach daily.

We were blessed to have daily Mass with our camp chaplain, Father Terence-Mary

gathering together with all camp attendees. 

Each evening we concluded the day with Benediction and the Rosary always a highlight.

Every night after prayers we enjoyed various activities; ice breaker games, quiz nights and on the final night the children produced a play.

They worked diligently towards this event every day and impressed and entertained us with their talent.  We couldn't run our camps without the help of our volunteer parents and are most grateful for their assistance.

This year we were blessed to have Ronan Reilly from the Australian Sacred Music Association join us to run a series of successful workshops teaching Gregorian chant.  This was the first time Ronan taught children so young and he did a marvelous job. 

Ronan has a gift for teaching and a passion for Gregorian Chant and by the conclusion of the week we were comfortable singing the Kyrie Elesion, the Sanctus, Agnus Dei and the Gloria. 

Another regular highlight of the camp are our catechesis sessions, always popular with the children and their teacher,

 an opportunity for the children to receive instruction, ask questions and to be challenged in their Faith. 
We have returned home refreshed and renewed.

Friday, 5 September 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 205)

Home today from our annual Catholic home education camp. Another fantastic and successful year! Whilst we (the children and I) were off enjoying ourselves PC stayed behind and was a bachelor for the week.  He has stated several times the house was very quiet, also he was surprised that when he left a room neat in the morning he returned to find it in the same state in the evening, apparently homes stay clean when people aren't there through the day.

Taking ten people to camp meant it was easier to transport our luggage via the trailer.  I'm a fairly confident driver and normally towing a trailer doesn't bother me, I've even been known a time or two to back up with the trailer on.  Yet a hi-ace van towing a big trailer equates to extra long, and when we have experienced so many recent deaths out on the Highway I admit I felt very vulnerable. I really didn't 'breath easy' till I passed the danger spots.

One of the highlights of camp was having daily workshops on Gregorian chant run by the Australian Sacred Music Association. Being exposed to Gregorian chant gave me a sense of a much 'bigger picture' within the Church, of Adoration, liturgy, history etc, listening to the chants I realised I'm part of something much bigger, we were worshiping Him. I'd love to have the opportunity to listen to a monastery of monks chanting.

Whilst at camp Bella had an opportunity to have her first bath (as we don't have a bathtub we have always showered her) she HATED it!! She screamed, stood rigid, wouldn't sit, screamed some more, became even stiffer.  By the third night we went back to showering, obviously she wasn't going to co-operate.

Anna Maria (our newly 21 year old) and Einstein (17) were our camp cooks for the week.  They undertook to cook for 30 people with confidence and handled the job with aplomb.  Creating a menu including catering for dietary requirements, shopping and budgeting prior to the camp, then preparing, cooking and serving at the camp as well as cleaning up after were all part of the many tasks they undertook.  I'm so very much in awe of them and very proud.

Whilst working in the camp kitchen Anna Maria made a list of features she'd like me to include in my new kitchen, ideas such as; stainless steel or marble benchtops, an island bench, very deep sinks and a spar nozzle. Einstein's contribution to the list is a scullery maid.  Hoping to implement Anna Maria's ideas, as for Einstein's wish, we already have a few resident scullery 'maids';)

My brother's wedding is next weekend, so lots of finishing touches this week to do. Still need suits for Michelangelo and PC, shoes for several, wraps/cardigans for the ladies and hair styles to play with. Michelangelo gets his braces on this Monday too.  So a little to do but not too stressful this upcoming week.

Visit Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Happy 21st Anna Maria!!!!!

Wishing our Anna Maria much love, 21 today!!!!!
We are so very proud of you darling, words can not adequately express how much we love you.
It seems like only yesterday we were blessed with our precious girl who changed our lives forever.
Many, many Happy Birthday wishes darlin'

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Before I Had A Seven Year Old

Kate has asked mothers of older children to share what it was like 'back in the day', back when all their children were under seven. So heading down 'memory lane,' sharing a few recollections of those years.

We are blessed with ten children and one whom awaits us in Heaven. Our girls are; 21, 12, 10 & 8 months. Our boys are; 19, 17, 15, 8, 5 & 3. Once upon a time, many years ago we only had little ones, they were special years and they were stretching years.  

When our oldest was six we had four children, they were 6, 4, 2 and a baby, and life was actually becoming easier. The winter our fourth child was born is one I look back on with fond memories, it was a 'picture perfect' winter in which the children and I spent most of the time snuggled together under a doona on the lounge reading Beatrix Potter for hours and hours. The truth is any phase of our lives has seemed far easier compared to the years in which we had three under four, our four year old was easy, but our two year old was a handful and the baby had colic/reflux and screamed and screamed and screamed.  It might seem funny to say that life with ten children is easier than life with three but it's true.  Never since have I known such sheer exhaustion and felt regularly that my life was totally out of control, 'little' details seemed so insurmountable, everything was an effort. We had no local family support, our parents lived a couple of hours away and my Prince Charming worked long, long hours, sometimes coming home for tea and going back to work again until the wee hours of the morning, a few times he even pulled all nighters! 

The overwhelming feelings were balanced with the fact that we lived life at a slower pace. It was a time of making solid friendships, our friendships forged in those years still continue today and those friends share pieces of our lives that forever entwines us.  Nursing Mother's, Playgroup, Mother's groups at Church, morning tea with friends whilst children played together, these times were imperative to sanity. Talking to today's young mums I'm not certain this rhythm happens as much and it saddens me, they are missing a sense of community. 

It was a time of really immersing ourselves in our little ones' world, focusing on their joy and wonder as they discovered the world around them.  They baked, we read, they dug in the dirt, swung from trees and played hide-go-seek, we played make believe games, they explored the world around them and we had charming conversations. We enjoyed focusing on the world from the viewpoint of only little people, having only little ones is a precious time that can never be recaptured again. We still have little children and enjoy watching them discover the world around them, but there are now more distractions as we are also busy navigating the world from the eyes of older children as well.  

When we only had little ones every undertaking was mammoth; getting out the door, loading up the car, arriving at Church in a timely manner, visiting the shops, morning tea with friends, many details were involved and they loomed largely. It became easier to load up the pram and walk to the shops and Church rather than struggling with car seats and the pram.  I certainly became fit and the loaded up double pram 'clocked up frequent flyer points'. By nature I'm fairly laid back but I always found dinner prep and bath times stressful when we had only little ones, this time of the day involved a lot of juggling and it was a challenge. As the children grew older and their 'hands' were available it got easier, but we ate far more pizza than was healthy back then. 

As the children grew life became a little easier, they were able to help in small ways, they learnt to clean up after themselves (of a sort and some better than others;) most importantly they entertained siblings (no longer did I daily have to play make believe games, oh yeah!) and we began to have meaningful conversations. Today I no longer have to take all the children with me wherever I go, whilst I still often have a child or two with me I can duck out leaving teenagers in charge, most life changing recently with an adult daughter at home is I have even left our baby a couple of times! 

PC and I were blessed to have been raised in large families and as I was the eldest of eight over a twenty year age span I was most familiar and comfortable with many aspects of parenting. I'd been fortunate in seeing my mother breastfeed my siblings for extended periods of time and breastfeeding to me was a comfortable and familiar part of being a mother. We have always consciously focused on developing independence within our children, this has been a major decider in much of our parenting approaches and choices. Though being a sibling certainly isn't the same as having your own children I did enter parenthood with experience and confidence. Parenting ten children ranging from twenty-one to eight months has its own challenges; the early years stretched us personally and physically, the middle years stretched us mentally, and the teen and young adult years are stretching us spiritually. 

Parenting has been a wonderful journey of falling in love with our children and of self discovery. Although sometimes I long to go back and give a little advice to my younger self, I'd encourage myself to focus more on our, my husband and I, relationship, reassuring myself that our children won't suffer for spending a few hours occasionally with a trusted babysitter and about 'at home date nights'. I'd also let myself into a secret, that making sure I nurture myself doesn't mean I'm selfish, it means if I'm nurtured then I have more to give to my children.  Mostly though I would tell myself the years will race by and you will never have this time again, I'd tell myself to hold onto these years, to treasure and savour them.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

My Daybook: August 27th, 2014

Outside my window...
it's an overcast day, hoping for more rain, the water tanks need filling

I am thankful...
  • to be living in freedom 
  • to be able to tuck our children into a warm bed at night with full bellies
  • to be able to worship my God 
I am thinking...
about the atrocities in Iraq and Israel/Palestine, my heart is heavy, so heavy, God is weeping

First time slashing the paddocks:)
Learning all the time...
  • interest and ability in reading for Jelly Bean and Jack Jack is coming along at a great pace:)
  • steady progress in all areas for the children. Totally astounded that despite all the stresses of our life at present, learning is the one area that is booming! God's Grace.
Celebrating the liturgical year......
um, not really, just surviving at this stage

From the kitchen...
healthy salads, lots of salads, minimising sugars and grains

I am creating...
excel and word documents for our upcoming homeschool camp next week

I am working on...
  • achieving all on my 'to do' list for said camp, including a plan to 'fit it all in'
  • finalising menu plans for camp, Anna Maria(21) and Einstein (17) are catering this year for the first time

I am going...
shopping with the children this week to finish buying presents for our Anna Maria's 21st in 5 days!!

I am hoping...
camp brings many Graces to all

I am praying...
  • for our College boy, far from home and extremely ill with the flu
  • for our adult daughter who turns 21 this week!
  • for the success of our annual Catholic homeschool camp next week
  • for our brothers and sisters in Iraq

I am pondering....
egos and pettiness

I am reading...
Alvin Fernald, Foreign Trader to the children, and um Enid Blyton to myself, blush. I am completely stressed and only capable of total fluff

I am listening to......
nothing really Sarah's podcasts are still on my 'to do' list

I am hearing...
silence, the children are sleeping in, love it when the house is quiet:)

I am struggling...
with staying calm, to savour the moment

Clicking around...
Back to School - "This is your season of life, your time to be with your young children, or not so young children. They will grow up and need you less (though, in my experience, they will never NOT need you at all, thankfully).   Try if you can to live in the moment, savouring this precious time with your children making the boring sameness of the moments count. Try not to waste the time you will never be granted again. Try to savour it."

Tepee building with old trampoline mats
Around the house...
  • PC has just completed tiling and grouting the bathroom:):):)
  • The laundry is being waterproofed this week:)
  • We moved all the tools out of the laundry in preparation. Huge shelving of tools now resides in the toyroom opposite the children's toys, 'cause everyone has tools in their toyroom don't they? Big boys and little boys toys together;) 
One of my favorite things...
Teaching Jem(5) to ride a bike yesterday!  He picked it up so quickly!!

A few plans for this week...
  • Dance lessons for Princess
  • Soccer 'break up' party for Jem and Jelly Bean
  • Grandma staying for an overnight visit 
  • Physics teacher coming for a lesson with Einstein
  • Shopping for Anna Maria's birthday 
  • Shopping for camp catering (an epic and daunting undertaking)
  • Packing for camp (for 10 people this is epic too) 
  • Celebrating Anna Maria's 21st!!!!!!!
A little peek at my day...
Dance, soccer and Grandma today, the lull before the storm.