Growing Up

The family, minus my boy

Ok, so it is term 4. In fact the school year is almost over and I am sitting here with half and hour before the school run begins and I am doing my nails. Not a full manicure but a basic cut and file. This is basic maintenance. But I realised that it wasn’t so long ago that I struggled to do anything extra in those hours before getting the kids to school.

It was hard to take a shower and dress. It was a good day if I managed the mascara and some lipstick. I rarely got a chance to read the word, the media or my social media feeds to see what was happening in the world. I was not able to contemplate listening to ABC radio or playing some new tunes.

My mornings have generally been hard work. Each activity finely tuned and organised. Making breakfast, packing lunches, organising school bags, finding uniform, school hats, signing the diary, permission forms and the like. But suddenly the pressure has eased up. It could be argued that the kids are just getting better at being organised. Maybe that is true. But what is more startling is the realisation is that they are older and becoming more independent.

I recall wondering if there would ever come a time when I would be free of doing up seat belts, wiping bottoms and getting sipper cups of milk. Well the time has come. We are all a bit older, more experienced and growing in independence. It does not mean that we don’t have mornings that go absolutely pear shaped. We do. But it is on the whole a lot easier than it used to be. I hadn’t noticed until my man pointed out the obvious change in our household. Our kids are growing up.


I had hoped that we might have made to mid year before the season of sniffles, coughs and colds arrived. But apparently not….there has been someone sick at home every week for the last month or so. I am a little bewildered as to how I should respond. I struggle being the patient, gentle spirited mother mopping the brow. I interrogate each child ten times over if they suddenly take ill in the morning before school, so at times I may not be as sympathetic as I should be. But it is perhaps a reality when you have a large family. There are just more mouths to pick up the odd virus or ingest the latest germs.

We get through each strain of illness using a bit of panadol, a lot of rest, fluids, some favourite books, a movie and more recently the iPad. Sleep is encouraged, but at times that too can be elusive. If I am feeling particularly generous I may make soup, squeeze lemons for a hot honey and lemon drink or make cups of ice to suck on. But honestly I struggle during these times.

And what I struggle with is the opportunity I have been given to serve my family. I am overwhelmed by all the things that I now cannot do because I am confined to home duties. The tape that plays in my head is characterised by self pity, resentment and discouragement. There is no joy, just disappointment. I confess this because I suspect that I am not the only one that has to take three long, deep breaths when the kidlets fall sick. To change plans, adjust the to do list and simply go with the flow can be h.a.r.d.

But if I am honest, I know He is sovereign so this is all as it is meant to be. I am meant to be home. I am here to serve and I should trust that the unexpected blessing of being with my family will bring me joy. Somewhere in this season of illness and weariness there is healing for us all.

Money for the Kids

I have failed at the pocket money thing. Ask our kids and some of them may recall various different schemes we have had to distribute pocket money over the years. The bottom line is that we need to be consistent and I forget. We don’t encourage the kids to spend a lot of money and we have a framework of sorts in place for purchasing big ticket items. But is is holidays and the kids will have the opportunity to travel and see new things and no doubt want to purchase a trinket or treasure, a game or a book.

So I have been thinking about pocket money again. Some things I know need to be foundational. We are a busy, large family and there are a lot of chores and household jobs to do each day. Again we are not good at implementing a routine on this, but in essence pocket money should not be linked to doing chores. We all need to regularly contribute to how our household runs. I also know that pocket money needs to be age appropriate and that as parents we need to make suggestions for how it is to be used.

I love the SAVE SPEND SHARE approach that Michael Grose advocates. With  little and big people it would seem that having three jars (not boxes, piggy banks or purses) that are clearly labelled works best.

Giving children pocket money is an opportunity to encourage kids to save – for a range of larger items that they need to contribute to like a bike or a new basket ball, to spend – a sweet treat, a new book or some Smiggle stationary and share – contribute to the the family’s sponsor child, charity or missionary friend you support doing work overseas.

The aim is to encourage children to be independent and to understand that having money is an opportunity to exercise responsibility. Being given pocket money is not an invitation to spend more, want more or have more. In fact it should have the opposite effect. We want to reduce covetousness and create opportunities to communicate with our kids about how money works in this world – for good and bad.

The BIG question is how much do you give your kids? This is one area where being fair seems unfair. The four year old should not get the same amount as the 13 year old.

So what do you do? Mums, Dads, Grandparents, friends …….. share your wisdom.

Inside Out – Play

Where do your kids play? If they are young and still engage in imaginary play, play with toys, arts and crafts, mess and chaos then I an curious – where do they play? Inside? Outside?

Some people have dedicated playrooms, spaces and areas. Other people have back rooms and sheds and for some all the play things are kept in the bedroom.
Even with our own tribe of five the question of play is a work in progress. As the older ones have specific needs to hang out and “play” the younger ones still want to take out several games and activities and move from one to another. The result…..controlled chaos. Crazy.
We have always tried to limit the play in the bedrooms. Feeling that supervision and interaction with the kids is important. But as they get older this changes. There are special toys that need ‘care, like massive lego constructions. Or there are music devices, book collections or instruments that take the kids away from the main living area.
Kid’s stuff, whether it be games, toys, technology, musical instruments and the like need to be organised and kept properly. But there are times when our living area looks like the home corner of the local kinder, the kitchen bench is an art studio and the dining table is a homework area.
When friend’s come to play we do set boundaries. We need to be able to see them, talk to them and engage with them whether it is inside or out. Where do your kids play?

Jesus, Kids and a Glorious Inconvenience

We have been thinking a lot about our family life and kids and how we  minster to them, this year. We are well and truly over run with little (and not so little) people. So this has posed some logistical questions to family worship time, expectations and the experience of our time together.

image from

But A and I have persevered with doing family worship after dinner, in a different room ( NB we all have to move which has proven to be a good tactic) with all the musical instruments and more. We have made music together and enjoyed reading the bible and praying.

I am always encouraged to find others who are also thinking about family worship and devotions.

Have I mentioned Seed Family Worship?An awesome new resource in our home – music, sheet music and memory verse printables. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

And our friends in the city who have planted a new church here and are thinking hard about community and family ministry, even while numbers are growing.

Of course my fix of Challies resources always leaves me with work to do, and this was evident in his approach to personal devotions for his kids. He prepares curriculum, weekly. Are you up for that challenge? Kindly he has a free PDF sample on his blog.

And finally, A and were challenged listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon from Luke 18: 15-17 – Children are a Glorious Inconvenience. How does Jesus respond to the children? What does he do and say? Does he grow impatient having to spend time with them? No. Apparently Jesus was fun. Omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. And Fun!!

And often we believe the lies of the world in how we approach parenting and loving our kids.

This is Driscoll.

One of the lies that has been promulgated is that you don’t need quantity time with your children, you need what? Quality time.
Here’s the truth: You don’t know when the quality time is going to come, when their heart’s going to open up, when a situation arises, when they need you. You just don’t know. So you can’t say, “Well, on Tuesday from 3 to 4 p.m., we’re going to have deep, heartfelt conversation.” Alright, you don’t know, so you need to be there a lot, need to be available and attentive. And then when their little heart opens up, love and serve, encourage, instruct, correct, whatever is needed at the moment. …
Now, say, “Where do you get that?” Look at Jesus. This was not, “And now we’re going to do the children’s discipleship lesson.” Jesus is teaching. There’s a big crowd, there’s a lot going on. There’s nothing in the schedule for the kids. But the kids decide, “Let’s go see Jesus.” So Jesus is attentive, he’s present, and he makes them a priority. He disrupts his plans. He allows them to, in the providence of God, interrupt his day, and he makes them a priority.
There’s a great parenting lesson there. The children are a priority. They are a blessing. They are a gift. And that quality time comes sometimes when you don’t expect it. And this was one of those quality time moments between the Lord Jesus and children.

I have so much to learn from this. How about you?

Basic Bar Recipe for Busy Family….

The great thing about a big family is that we do learn to care for each other, well. Somedays it is in a hurried haphazard way, but mostly we know we are all on the same team and need to help.

The children all love cooking and although there are days when I inwardly dread the “Can I cook something?” request from one of the kids they are now safe and well skilled to do most things.

My eldest girl made Donna Hay’s “Make 1 Make 3” Muesli Bars (Kid’s Issue Annual 6, 2009). The basic recipe really works. In the past I have made the healthy muesli bar that crumbled when I simply looked at it. I assure this won’t happen. It does have to have some fat and some sugar in it to glue it together. I think we chose olive oil instead of vegetable oil with great success. Hay has a number of different options to change the flavour of your bar – fruit, seeds, choc chip, cornflakes instead of oats and so on. Let me know if you want to make these treasures this week.

The only problem is that there may not be enough left for Friday when school starts!

PS Thanks for asking. Here is the recipe…..with my edits.

Muesli Bars

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
2 tbs brown sugar
1 cup sultanas
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cu[ golden syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 160 c. Place all dry ingredients in bowl. Heat honey and syrup in small saucepan over medium heat until runny and then whisk in oil. Add this to dry ingredients and combine. Spoon into greased 20cm x 30cm tin lined with non stick baking paper and flatten with a spoon. Bake 35-40 mins or until golden. Cool and cut into pieces. *Can be made in 40 ml capacity muffin tins

I love cooking, I love dinner

I want to help.

Ok, can you go and get a chair? (Lily drags a chair over to the bench.)

I want to wear this one. I like this one. ( Selects an apron.)

Can you stand on the chair?

Yes…..I want to mix.

Look at the camera, Lily.

I love cooking. I love dinner.

She is nearly two years old and she is loving cooking dinner!