Thursday, March 24, 2011

Say it with cake!

Last week my sister-in-law's Mother passed away. We wanted to show our love and support in some small way and racked our brains as what to do. My second oldest son loves to bake so I asked him for some ideas. He baked and decorated this all by himself! I think it is great.

It is so wonderful as a parent to see your child so happily give service to others. Especially when you know how much he wanted a piece!

The passionfruit vine and the postman.

We have a beautiful passion fruit vine over our front fence. The passion fruit are riping and we have had about 80 passion fruit off it already. They are nice and sweet too!

Anyway right near are postbox are a few ripening passion fruit hanging, making it a little difficult to get to the postbox. They have been like that for weeks.

Earlier this week when I collected my mail, I noticed someone had written on one of the letters. It was in fact from the postman! He wrote:
You do realise of course that when the passion fruit get ripe I'm going to have to eat them all to get at your letterbox- Postie.

I thought it was hilarious and I wrote a little note the next day, telling him to help himself.

It is nice to be asked. Last year we pulled into our driveway and saw a boy at our vine, with a bag about to help himself. He had obviously been under the instruction of his parent- who was looking on from his driveway a few doors down !

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We've become a high tech family!

This year has been a big year for us. For the first time not one, not two but three of the boys have gotten their own laptops. The older two got theirs with their starting at a private high school this year and Josh got into the one laptop class for his grade. Also the older two have mobiles now as they are travelling further from home and helps us work out any transport problems.

I was a bit nervous to start with. It meant new rules, new ways of doing things... I am really concerned that the boys don't ever view pornography or play really violent games. In previous years we haven't let the boys play computer games during the school term, as we just found it was to distracting. If you let one kid play computer gamesif they had finished their homework, then all the other boys would come and watch, instead of getting their things done. Plus I think it really limits their playing and active time which can affect their weight and fitness.

In a way the boys having laptops have meant we have had to relax our control a little on some things. They have more freedom this year on what do with their computers. I have noticed a few copyrighted games on their which we have had a chat about. One child has had some violent games, he had to delete that.

We have been focusing on teaching the boys to be accountable when they are on the computer. Which the schools are telling them too, which is great. They all have to have their screens so you can see what they are doing if you walk pass. So they often study at the kitchen table or bench or laptop table.This helps them not play too many games or hopefully too many time wasting activities. We also sometimes check their internet history, to see what they have been doing. Our oldest two boys have seen fellow students suspended from school for having inappropriate material on their computers. So they are fairly compliant for all the parent checks. ( I think they have worked out they either get the parent check and give no resistance or give resistance and get the parent check and the computer safety lecture :D. Smart kids.)

But you know the new technology has kind of been fun too.  I can e-mail the boys during the day, send reminders, little words of encouragement. Its been a good tool with communicating with each other.

Keeping up with technology is a challenge for parents. Its a balance between letting kids use technology and protecting them from it too. Some of those chat rooms and that can be really scary. Its hard keeping up with the kids who always seem to know more then you about it. For example one of our kids was showing us how to password protect our phone and another was showing us how you can delete your internet history... great!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The world is a tough place

I really feel sorry for kids sometimes. The world is such a tough place to send them out into every day. School can be a hard place, kids can be really unkind to each other. It just breaks my heart to see anyone being teased or bullied. This week I was taking my sons trumpet to class, (about the 11th thing he had forgotten that week) and I saw this kid sitting all alone, looking like this was the last place in the world he wanted to be. The expression on his face, he just looked miserable. There were kids on his right sitting and talking and kids on his left, but no one included him. It wasn't even my own child but it makes me feel sad even now just thinking about it. Why can't the world be a kinder place?

Last year one of my boys was struggling with bullying at school. Not just being bullied himself but seeing those around him bullied. It was a really hard time. He didn't want to go to school and I didn't want him to be sad, but I made him go anyway (most days). I just felt at the time that you can't stay home forever. It was really sweet though because at the end of the year he said to me, 'Mum I have learnt a lot this year. I learnt to have thicker skin and I learnt to be friendly to those who didn't look like they had friends and I made new friends. (That was great as I had encouraged him earlier in the year when he felt like he had no one to play with to look around and see who else looked alone, as there was always someone who looked lonely. Exciting to know that this worked. Though I didn't know for months later.)

Ben with his good friends a couple of years ago.

This year my older two started a new high school and it was a challenge for them being new students and getting the hang of longer hours and getting to know new people. Also my year one son was in a class where he only knew two students and he just wanted to stay home with me. I really have wanted to support them and help them as much as possible, so this is what I have tried to do:

Hayden with his special friend at school.

Make home a sanctuary. Try and make home a place where they can relax and feel loved. This is actually hard as kids fight with each other and you get cross them and loose your temper. But it is a goal we try and work together as a family. I really try and work and not criticizing them too much. Some days are better then others! (Especially with smelly teenage boys!)

Encourage them to keep trying. As awful as it is they have to learn to cope in the world. We managed too and it has helped us be the capable people they are. We can't shield them from life. In saying that 'mental health days' or TLC days at home are good. (Unfortunately my youngest wants another one the next day too). Maybe go through situations they are dealing with and talk about how they can best handle that. With boys one time we felt we had to teach our boys how to be more friendly. So we did some role plays on what to do in certain situations. One was , 'If someone you know is at the door do you a) run and hide (that was what one of my kids does often) b) say hello etc.... It worked really well. When we had some friends come over for dinner they were telling us how friendly are kids were. This was a great break through!

Listen, its so hard to find times where your kids can really tell you how they feel. For one of my kids it was swimming in the pool together. He just poured his hear out on all the mean things people were saying to him, like 'people call me a nerd because I like wearing my hat'. I wanted to give him some advice, but he was so busy talking he didn't stop and listen. I realised he just needed a sympathetic ear, not for me to solve his problems. I know I have times like that too.

Keep up the doses of fun up. I find planning and making sure we have fun things in our life, swimming in the pool, going to the park, going out for icecream help us cope with the hard things in life. This is what my husband and I need just as much.

Extended family support can be great too. I've noticed my kids just lapping up any attention from family. My older boys really listen to their aunts and uncles too.

This is at one of our family christmas parties. Josh is dressed up as a wiseman- I know its hard to tell. Granpa is... well a funny man? :)

I really believe in prayer. I pray for little specific things like, 'please help my child have a friend to play with today' or 'please help me be stay calm in this situation'. I really see this working in my life and it is a great comfort to me knowing that even if I can't be there all the time, God is watching them too.

Be involved in what they do. I always love to help in the classroom. You always find out so much about the teacher, the dymanimcs of the students and get extra insight into whats going on. Today I went into my youngest classroom and realised how strict his teacher was. But I did feel sorry for the kids who got into trouble, they are so little. I guess you can see I am such a softie!

Teach your kids to be kind and stand up for others! There is no prouder moment then when they do.

Anyway this is what helps me keep going when my family is struggling. What do you do?