Sleepovers

We don’t do sleepovers. Well not the regular school buddy kind. It seems that the chapter on “sleepovers” was missing in our parenting manual early on and we learnt the hard way. Being busy, working and juggling small children our oldest did go to the odd sleepover party. And there was little sleep, a random choice of television viewing and various adults present whom we did not know. Mostly he did not have a great time.

Having a small tribe of children now, we have made a blanket rule – no sleepovers. Until 10 years. There are exceptions with family and super close friends, if the occasion demands. But regularly we don’t encourage it and quite frankly the kids are fine with it. They know it is our family rule, so I now have mums ring me to negotiate how our little one can attend the 6 year old party but not stay over. It provides me with an opportunity to explain why we have the rule in place and to admit it is often easier to have all kids under one roof (no extra taxi runs).

Michael Grose has some interesting ideas on the sleepover. It can be good practice for independence and socialisation, but we do have a duty of care. Kids still wake up scared, at home. They have bad dreams, get sick and have unexplained anxieties. There are no hard and fast rules about sleepovers, but I think it is important to know your child and determine what your family culture and philosophy will tolerate.

This family rule has led to conversations about how we, as a family get to know our children’s friends and their families. We want to offer welcome and hospitality to the whole family. Sometimes people are nervous about this, but more often than not an invitation to the entire family is accepted eagerly. So rather than doing sleepovers do family overs, for meals conversation and welcome.

Friends

Thank God for good friends –

who have seen you at your rockbottom and still love you
who reply to text messages
who call just to say hello, nothing more
who share the same, ordinary issues of family life
who laugh at your jokes
who repin your pins on pinterest
who still like to use snail mail
who journal and create and cook
who really know what gift would light up your day
who can hear your tale of woe and not make fun of your anxious state of mind
who are always up for a coffee or wine
who recommend good books to read
who speak the truth into your life
who encourage you to love God when it is all too hard
who reminds you of the good choices you have made
who tells you that you are a great mother, wife and friend
who does not keep count of wrongs
who gives you another chance
who will always be just that, a good friend

The Search for Authenticity

image from the Resurgence

I have been thinking about this idea of authenticity a lot lately. And simultaneously the notion of identity. It seems to me that as individuals, families, communities as a society we are not happy with who we are, who we have become and indeed who we envisage ourselves becoming. Being authentic in today’s media and technology saturated world is harder than you might imagine. Nick Bogardus writes:

Millennials value authenticity, but we have no idea how to be authentic. Just look at the social media habits. We spend the majority of our days adjusting our image online for our friends rather than being known by them. We text instead of have verbal conversations…. we base our identities on the same things our parents did.

Bogardus points out that we no longer believe in the Western American Dream equivalent and there is a lot of evidence in people for a longing for the past, a simple life, a thoughtful existence and a meaning to just belong.

The search for authenticity takes people to many places.  They quit sugar and carbs, they exercise in intense people groups with high accountability, they meditate and refocus in retreats, they pay homage to and worship the environment by fixing the damage to the local landscape, they raise money for sickness and disease, they write letters and lobby  politicians to defend asylum seekers and advocate for freedom for those caught up in human trafficking, they dig veggie patches, hunt and forage, they knit and sew they thrift and busk, they join community choirs, sports clubs, book clubs. We make. We create. We try to connect. But it would seem we  still fail.

Until Millennials come to trust Jesus, they will live life like Facebook: confusing connection for intimacy, and a self-edited presentation of themselves online for really being known. Until then, they will continue to confuse recycling for justification, simple living for sanctification, and gardening for the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. You can read more of Bogardus  @ the Resurgence.

The 7 Stages of Motherhood

A recent blogpost on motherhood from Deb has caused me to remember a powerful book I read some years ago, and one I should revisit. Anne Pleshette Murphy’s book, The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Making the Most of your life as a Mom came across my desk at an interesting time. It was that limbo time between being settled with three children and debating with my man, myself and my future life whether to have another child.

Being a parent is hard work, amazing and life changing. It is the ultimate transformation, a powerful and thrilling metamorphosis. Most parenting books focus on the dos and don’ts of baby and child care, not on the role and well being of mothers. Murphy looks at the emotional lives of mothers, at how we change and grow from the moment we get pregnant to the day we watch our kids graduate from high school.

To realise that motherhood is not a journey of high risks and great adventure from which you will come back home, unchanged, ready to resume ‘normal’ life is liberating. In fact it is a journey that you never return ‘home’ from. As a mother you change; we all do as we parent our kids. Murphy guides our thinking on this topic. And little by little we discover that  ‘home’ becomes a new place, where you find yourself with your man, your child and your heart. 
A new home and a new stage – for life.

Suits & Style


 Suits.  I love a good suit. It is a uniform of sorts that can transform a bad day into a good one.
I have recently discovered Suits, the TV series starring Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams. The premise is an interesting one. A super smart college dropout talks his way into being hired as an associate for a top New York Law firm Pearson Hardman. A legal firm is the background, but essentially the television drama is all about relationships, how we communicate, whether we care and whether we need to win.
Harvey Spectre comes across as arrogant and full of bravado. But there is depth and complexity to him and his colleagues. And he looks sharp. As the series title suggests it is about suits – men in high end tailored suits and women who dress impressively. So good was this tailoring that Mr Porter – an online shopping mecca for well styled men – has collaborated with USA network’s hit television series to produce a pop up shop, and an app that helps you choose that special suit.


Mad Men brought retro style and design back into the average Joe’s living room, but Suits does this better. For that special man in your life, this could be the app that gives him that edge, a special ‘armour’

Decision Making

I think we all struggle with making decisions. Big ones. Life changing or semi life altering ones.

As a woman, wife, mother and well….you know I wear many hats, the ongoing question of work life balance is never too far away.

Work. Paid work. How do you know when it is  the right time to go back to work? When is it ok to move from casual to part time to full time? Why work at all? Don’t I have enough to do with 7mouths2feed? Is it not good to work hard to care for my family?

I am thinking about the grid, the framework that I test all of these ideas against. Who do I talk to? How do I think about this in a helpful manner? What is ultimately going to honour the priorities I aim to keep?

So…there is a wee job on the table. What is a girl to do?

Tomato Sushi Rice

We eat a lot of rice in our home. It is more of a staple than potatoes to be sure. Recently I realised that many of the little people in our home enjoy steamed rice with…..wait for it, tomato sauce. Now this might seem odd to you, but on reflection it is just a fast flavoured version of sushi rice. If you have made your own sushi rice and nori rolls before you would know that white vinegar, salt and sugar are the basic ingredients. Add some tomato via tomato sauce and you have an easy sushi rice for a quick snack to serve as a nori roll, as a bowl with poached chicken, avocado, cucumber and shallots.

As the weather warms up here sushi rice will feature in school lunches, picnics and lazy finger food.

Here is a recipe for making sushi rice. Japanese rice is short grain rice and gets slightly sticky when it is cooked. Long grain rice isn’t proper for sushi because it is drier and doesn’t stick together.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

Put the rice in a large bowl and wash it with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes almost clear. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes. Place the rice in rice cooker and add water. Let the rice soak in the water at least 30 minutes. Start the cooker. When rice is cooked, let it steam for about 15 minutes.

Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture.
Spread the hot steamed rice into a large plate or a large bowl. Please use a non-metallic bowl to prevent any interaction with rice vinegar. It’s best to use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji (rice spatula) quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice. To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It’s best to use sushi rice right away.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Heaven is Real


I don’t actually spend enough time thinking about heaven you know. The everyday, the now, the ordinary seems to consume me. A friend shared with me that she found herself thinking about it more recently because her kids were of an age that meant they asked lots of questions about ‘heaven’.

Whatever you believe we all want to affirm a belief in an afterlife. For me it is heaven. But for some it is heaven coated in cotton candy and childish tales. And you know what – believing in the experiences of a 4 year old who claims to have been to heaven seems to have pulled at the heart strings of many. Todd Burpo’s book Heaven is For Real made the New York Bestseller list in 2011.

As  friends and acquaintances reach for this book and read it, I feel a tight knot in my stomach. The alarm bells ring. And a growing anxiety creeps in.

But mostly I ask them what they think about the book. I am polite. Gentle in my probing. I hope they ask me what I think. But more often than not they don’t. “No, I have not read it” I reply. So I obviously don’t have any grounds to comment. Or do I?

I know the Bible does not tell me to wait until a 4 year old dies, goes to heaven, returns and tells his experiences to his pastor Dad, who then writes them down 6-7 year later and turns them into a bestseller, so that I can find out about heaven.

I know that Isaiah 65:17-25 and Revelation 21: 1-4 gives me a great starting point if I am serious about understanding more about heaven.

I know and trust the scholarship and theology of others who have read and reviewed Burpo’s book. Tim Challies does it in his review of Heaven is for Real.

I know that I don’t have time to read things that are unhelpful.

So even if you, as a dear believing friend want to give me a copy I will be taking Challies’ advice: Reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so.