Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Tied together

Cherubs + Ties = Super cute!

A little gift to make you smile today.
Go on....I know you want to.

One of my all time favourite pictures of Eli and Sam.
I just want to kiss those chubby cheeks and listen to those giggles all over again!

Remember to come back tomorrow for my Linky!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nathan and 100,000 step challenge

My son Nathan is an extremely motivated and competitive young man.
He likes to set goals for himself and achieve the impossible.

As his mother, I sometimes worry about what crazy goal he is going to set for himself.
It is hard for me to watch as he pushes himself so hard and to see him end up being disappointed every so often because he did not reach his goal.

Nathan's class at school is participating in the Global Children's Challenge. 

It is a health initiative designed to get children from all over the world active, and instill in them the habit and importance of daily exercise for the rest of their lives. It is facilitated by teachers within classrooms and it empowers children to change their relationship with exercise, their bodies and the environment. The benefits extend beyond making exercise easy and fun – it compliments the curriculum, covering everything from geography and social studies to history and technology.

Every student in the class has a pedometer to record how many steps they take each day.
At first they were instructed to aim for an average of 15,000 steps a day.

Nathan was happy with this and managed to pass this amount easily. He has been trying his best to get as many steps as he can each day to support the total amount of the class in the challenge running online.

Last week Nathan decided he was going to try to get 50,000 steps. He woke up early, walked to school, walked home from school and spent all his waking hours running around our back yard until he reached his goal of 50,000 steps.

He was super excited and very happy with his result. I was impressed that he gave up his computer time and all other fun activities after school to achieve this result. He went off to school proud of his result.

A couple of days later he came home from school to tell me that someone in his class had beaten his top class score. I stayed silent, waiting. Waiting for what was to come next. I knew in my heart that Nathan was going to set some impossible goal and I was scared. For him and for me!

So, during the week Nathan got this idea in his head to try to achieve 100,000 steps.

After mentioning it to his class teacher and hearing his response of something like this:
'Nathan that is not something you need to worry about or that is impossible to achieve'.
I knew we were in trouble and that the response was like a red cape to a bull!

Nathan decided to chose Saturday as the day to accomplish his 100,000 steps challenge.
He sat down and calculated just how many steps he would need to achieve each hour to reach his goal.

He woke up early on Saturday morning and started ‘stepping’ at 5:30am.

It was a hot day, a long day and Nathan worked really, really hard all day to get as many steps as he could. I was so impressed with his commitment to his goal, his determination to achieve it and with how hard he pushed himself to get as many steps as he could.

Nathan halfway through the day at 50,000 steps - worn out!

Halfway through the day I could see that Nathan was tired and needed a boost.
So what does a mum to do? Start 'stepping' too!

I put on my ipod and started my grandma shuffle around and around the backyard. We sang loud songs, high fived each other everytime we passed, laughed and had fun!

One of my favourite moments came when the three little ones spotted us outside and all came running out together and followed us around and around. It was great to be running together as a family and to be supporting Nathan in his crazy challenge.

At around 8pm at night, Nathan was exhausted. He had been running all day and still had a long way to go towards achieving 100,000 steps. I had a chat to him. I told him I was impressed with his efforts and that he had worked really, really hard. I reminded him that if he stopped now he still had done a wonderful job and it was alright to change his mind about the challenge.

Nathan thought about it for a minute and then said that he wanted to keep going.
He wanted to reach his goal of 100,000 steps. I could see he was beyond tired, his legs ached and his feet were sore. But, he had a vision of what he wanted and knew he could reach it.

This boy is just amazing!

At 11:45pm Nathan reached his goal of 100,000 steps.

I could not believe it. He ran from 5:30am-11:45pm and pushed himself so hard.

Getting close to the goal!
 The finishing time!

He is a great example to me that if we are prepared to do some hard work we can achieve our goals and achieve the impossible. I love that he let me tag along for the ride and helped me to push myself too!

I was so glad to see my bed at the end of the day and am now hoping that Nathan does not decide to set another 'stepping' goal!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Mother's Heart, a good mother

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. It has changed my thoughts and my heart.

One of the greatest changes has been my perspective on what makes a good mother.

As a young mother I had these grand notions that being a 'good' mother meant playing with children all day and letting them do whatever they wanted. Man, did I have my head in the clouds! I can still remember clearly the day I was shocked to learn that I needed to discipline, to teach, to restrain and to help create a house of order in our home.

At the start I found it difficult and emotional. Now, after being a stay-at-home-mum for 12 years, with my younger kids I often think to myself:
"Good try...
I have seen it all before! 
So not going to work". 

My poor cherubs.

Recently, I was asked by a young friend of mine to list what I thought were essential qualities needed to be a good mother. I thought it would be an easy task and found I needed several days to really ponder over what I would add to my list.

It was a wonderful opportunity to assess where I was at, what I believed to be essential and to look at the long way I still had to go in my mothering skills. Here are some of the qualities that made it onto my list in no particular order (now remember this is an ideal kind of list and there is no such thing as a perfect mother):
  1. Knows the power of prayer (is humble and knows she is not alone in this work)
  2. Cooking skills (knows how to plan and make healthy meals)
  3. Sense of humour (being a mother can be down right depressing some days, being able to laugh makes a big difference)
  4. Organised (a house of order brings happiness and routine brings security)
  5. Kindness/compassionate (children face pressure everywhere, they need a soft voice and a refuge at home)
  6. Self reliant (can emotionally face challenges and deal with them)
  7. Selfless (understands that being a mother is about serving the family 24/7)
  8. Good listener (knows when to bite her tongue and just listen)
  9. Honest (with herself and her children)
  10. Patient (knows the importance of sacrifice and going without)
 There are a lot more qualities I would add but to have a little fun I decided to also send her my added bonus list:
  1. Knows how to have fun
  2. Can sing
  3. Can dance
  4. Has fashion sense
  5. Technology skills
  6. Knows how to throw a good party
  7. Can draw
  8. Bargain shopper :)
So what would you put on your list of what makes a good mother? 
Is it a long list or does it just have a few qualities?

While you are thinking about it - I would love you to link up with our 'Mother Heart' Linky.
It can be an old post, a new post and any type of post that relates to being a mother.

I am looking forward to your thoughts and heart felt words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

no sugar family challenge

Every so often Matt and I like to challenge our family.

When things are cruising along smoothly in our home {I am talking about 'general' every day things running smoothly - it actually does happen...sometimes!} we like to add a challenge to the mix to get us out of our comfort zones a little and stretch ourselves.

We do it to remind the kids that we can do hard things in our family and with the support of each other we can do 'incredible things'.

Of course I always feel I should be excluded from all 'stretching activities' as after having seven kids - I have been seriously stretched in more ways than one! Lets not go there.

Anyway, back to the challenge...

It all started when I began noticing that every day we seemed to be having some sugar type snack after school or sugar loaded dessert after dinner. It was being purchased, cooked and dished out like we were addicted to it.

So I came up with a plan.
The Plan.
Step 1. Go to the cheesecake shop.
Step 2. Buy the biggest, yummiest cake you can find.
Step 3. Put it in the fridge and don't tell anyone what it is for.

The cake selected for the challenge. Step 1, 2 and 3 complete!

Step 4. Gather everyone to the table.
Step 5. Bring out the cake.
Step 6. Smile whilst the ooohhh! and ahhhh's! take place.
Step 7. Start the talk:

I have noticed lately we have been eating a lot of sugar. A lot of lollies, cakes and treats. I think we need a break. It is not healthy to eat so much sugar. I would like to offer you a challenge.

The challenge is to not eat any food that contains lots of sugar for 10 days.
{meaning lollies, cake, chocolate, treats}

I chose 10 days to start with because my children are young and I knew it was a number they could cope with and count to.

To start this challenge we will have a piece of cake as a celebration of our last sugar fix and to remind you that we are not eating sugar.

{I know this sounds weird but I knew my kids would remember eating a cake from the cheesecake shop and know we are on a challenge}.

You can only have a piece of cake if you accept the challenge.
Who will accept the challenge and wants a piece of cake?

Let's see who wanted to participate in the challenge:
Hmmm....I count 9 cake plates.

By the way
~ can you see the hunker of a cake piece I cut for myself ~ 
Houston we have a problem!

You would think I was going on a sugar fast for 10 years
Oh! No! left overs...

The Result.

I was really impressed with my four oldest children. They took the challenge seriously.

They turned down offers of snacks from friends at school, they turned down chocolate cake at church and they were great at home. I know they were secretly counting down the days until the end of the challenge and could not wait for a sugar hit. I was so astonished that I only had to remind them a few times about the challenge when they started asking for lollies or cake. I thought I would have to be at them constantly and it made it so much easier to get through with their support.

The younger children did not understand the challenge as much as the older ones and to help them I made sure there was a lot of fruit on offer whenever they got hungry and wanted food out of our snack cupboard.

Overall, we really did not miss the treats. I felt so much better for not eating it and I noticed a difference in the behaviour of our children. It was worth the effort and I secretly want to keep it up. I am trying to add more fruit and vegetables to our diet and to provide healthier snacks after school. I find it takes more planning and money to eat healthier. The benefits are worth it and I am finding it a challenge to stay on top of it.

What do you do in your family? Do you create challenges or do you have enough already?

Friday, October 15, 2010

100 ways to be happy - Number 15. Look for personal growth

As a mother I spend most of my time helping my children to progress and grow. I am kept busy training and teaching them skills in relation to homework, sports, cooking, housework, emotional/spiritual/mental strength and daily tasks.

I celebrate and find joy in the little achievements they make and feel a great sense of peace and happiness in seeing them flourish and mature in their development.

Often I forget about myself.
I do not stop to see how far I have come and what personal growth I have achieved.

Becoming the mother I always wanted to be did not happen the moment I had a baby. Nor did it happen when the baby came home from the hospital. I needed time and experience to learn, to grow and to develop. Often it came from painful experiences, many times caused by my own mistakes and those moments in life where you feel stretched past your limit. I know you know what I am talking about!

When I had my first daughter, having one baby was all I knew and it was all I could handle and cope with. There were days when it was just too much effort to leave the house and to go to the shops. It was hard and I felt exhausted and stretched to my limit. I felt grumpy, tired and often depressed that I was not being the type of mother I wanted to be and I only had one child! and she was a good, happy child too! I had no idea how I was going to cope with having a large family and knew that this was going to be a lot harder than I thought.

Now, I have had more experience and I can go to the shops with seven children if I really need to. It is still hard but I can handle it and I have grown into the role of mothering seven children.

{painful shopping experiences that is for sure! I still remember clearly this one day when I had four kids with me all screaming their heads off in the grocery store and a lady walked past and said 'I am so glad I am not you!' and walked off not even bothering to help me out!} 

As I look back I can see that I have grown in many ways...

some good 
{I can cook better, discipline better, be better organised and have life skills to handle situations that come my way} 

and some not good 
{talk about butt has grown, my chocolate eating has grown and my stress levels have grown} 

as I have been on this mothering journey. I have tried my best to learn from my mistakes and make real changes in my behaviour. I have come to learn that to be happy I need to look for my own personal growth.

To do this I need to look beyond the daily routine of life which consumes so much of my time. When I find I can get a moment to myself it makes a real difference when I can see how I have improved and blossomed. Most of these moments are simple:

  • celebrating cooking a new recipe
  • making time for exercise
  • finishing a book
  • staying calm in difficult situations
  • finishing my to-do list
  • catching up on paperwork
  • keeping up with the bills
  • getting everyone to an event 
  • getting everyone home from an event!
To look for personal growth I also find it helps to keep a healthy and realistic perspective.

"Rise to the great potential within you. 
I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. 
I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. 
I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know how. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.'

Gordon B. Hinckley

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

reflections on motherhood, letter to myself

Some of you may have seen this clip about reflecting on motherhood....
It is a simple message that brings your mind back to the basics of mothering.
I enjoyed it and it got me thinking about what advice I would have given myself as a young mother.

After viewing this clip and pondering over the messages, I decided to write some thoughts down on what I would have let myself know:

You have great dreams and aspirations about being a mother.
Hold fast and strong to your dreams and goals. 
It will be the hardest work you will ever do.
You will make mistakes along the way and you will learn many lessons.
It will test you and stretch you more than you could ever imagine.
Your body is an amazing gift that will support you in your dreams.
You will vomit and cry, vomit and cry and vomit and cry some more.
You will pray and search for help and find it when you need it the most.
Trust your instincts and follow your heart.
You will face opposition about raising a large family from strangers and even your closest friends and family.
At times you will feel that you cannot go on....
that this lonely road is too hard to travel.
At those moments know that you have the inner strength, the determination and the wisdom to clearly see what choices you need to make that will bring you and your family joy and happiness.
You will be blessed with wonderful, caring, gorgeous children who you will delight in and make all the pain, tears, lack of sleep and exhaustion worth your while.
Learn from other mothers what works best and apply it to your family. 
Your husband will be your greatest support and strength.
He will be there for you every day as you travel this journey of raising a family and will still love you when you are large, emotional and worn out.
Look to him for love, kindness and humour.
Don't try to be perfect.
Forgive yourself daily.
Love who you are and what you are trying to become.
Your children will love you and cherish you.

Naomi the mother of seven cherubs

What would you tell yourself?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

motherhood, be at the crossroads

I have been doing a little reading about motherhood and falling in love again with a talk I read by Ezra Taft Benson titled 'To the Mothers In Zion". I love his uplifting, encouraging words:

"Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realisation of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world"

Some days I feel like all my effort and caring is not making any difference, that my children don't appreciate the love and tenderness I try to show them. His words remind me that this great work I am doing within the walls of my home is making a great influence and is a noble work.

His talk also got me thinking about how as a mother I try to be around for my children. To be at home during those crucial times when they might need me. For those precious moments when the children leave and return from school, when they bring friends over and when in the future they return home from dates and other fun nights out. 

I want to be there for them whether they are six or sixteen.
I want them to know I am interested in them.
That I care about them.
That I am a support, a listening ear and a friend.

Often they don't seem to need me, or want to chat to be about anything really serious, or really seem to need me to be there but...I make it a priority every day to be available during those times in case they do need me and I can do or say something that might help them for the better.

Being at the crossroads means I need to be prepared.
I have a snack ready so we can sit down and chat.
I have thought of questions I want to ask them and clear my schedule so I can listen.

Often I use this time to chat to the kids about school.

How was your day? Who did you play with?
What games did you play? Did you feel sad today?
What made you happy today?

These questions have really given me an insight into how they are feeling which in a lot of ways I feel is more important than what did you learn today or what did you study about today?

I believe that as we focus on being around at those crossroads moments we can help guide them to live a memorable happier life. We can help them with the choices they make and support them in the challenges they face.

I know not every mother has this luxury to be at home and many mother's are trying their best to be available when it matters most. For this I think mother's will be blessed in the relationship they have with their children. It helps them grow into secure adults as they feel of the devotion that mothers have towards them.

Being a mother is a noble work and I love that I get to make my life more memorable by being at home and get to help the life of my children be more memorable as we chat and snack and talk about the things that matter most.