A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When You Just Want to Run and Hide

Sometimes life just gets too hard and we want to run and hide from the world.  But we can’t.  We have little people depending on us for their every need and we simply need to mother them, even if all we want is for someone to mother us.  So, how do we keep going?
  • Go to another room, shut the door and take a deep breath (any room is fine, even the toilet, as long as you are on your own).  Say a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in all you do today.  Try to remember that God is in control of your day, and He trusts that you can do what He has planned for you to do.  Even though there may still be chaos outside, you can leave the room and face it, knowing you are doing so with the help of God.
  • Be patient with yourself and remember that this is just a season.  These times happen to everyone and sometimes it is just a matter of getting through it, especially if you are the mother of very young children.  My baby just turned one, and I realised I have just gotten out of my ‘baby funk’.  In the last couple of weeks, I  have realised that I am much more willing to go out and do things, whereas before I just wanted to stay home and be a hermit.  I just had to accept that this too, would pass.
  • Change it up a bit.  One morning the children were going a bit wild, and I was at my wits end.  It had been a horrible morning, and I needed to get the baby to sleep.  So I asked them to build a big tent from chairs and sheets while I was getting him to sleep and we would have a little picnic. He didn’t sleep for long anyway, but it was long enough for us all to reconnect and have a fun little picnic (which really only included crackers and chips because I like to do it the easy way J)
  • Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Pray whenever it comes to mind.  Thank Him for everything – as soon as you notice a blessing in your life, give God thanks. And remember to thank Him for this hard time in your life – you are growing through it, even if it doesn’t seem like it now.  Ask the Holy Spirit for help.  He won’t let you down.  Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be our helper, and he truly is.  Sometimes my brain is in such a fog and I can’t for the life of me think of what to cook for dinner at night because of our many food restrictions.  I will usually pray about it, and would you believe, I always get an answer.  Ask Him to help you with all your needs, even the seemingly insignificant.
  • Bundle the children up and go for a walk.  Although may take a lot of time and effort to prepare for the walk, the results are worth it.  I am allergic ;) to exercise, and will try my best to avoid it, but I have decided it is time to make it part of our weekly routine.  It takes about an hour to prepare and about 20 minutes to walk to the park with several attempts at getting the children to walk in a group, but when we get to the park it is fun.  We kick a ball, swing, run around and just get rid of that extra energy (well, the children get rid of it – I somehow gain it).
  • Make a cuppa and sit outside.  Put the baby in the swing, and just watch your children having fun.  Enjoy their silly antics.  Laugh with them.  Live in the moment.  Relax.  This will brighten your spirits.
  • Do you have a favourite candle or aromatherapy fragrance?  My favourite candle is Dusk’s ‘Harmony’.  I will often light one of these in the kitchen whilst I am cooking dinner.  It just helps to gently calm me.  Whatever aromatherapy mix you use, try to include lavender too – it helps to calm everybody.  If you use aromatherapy oils, please make sure you only use pure oils, not ‘fragrances’.  Fragrances are too synthetic and are more likely to cause headaches and grumpiness (this goes for scented candles too).
  • Bach Rescue Remedy, or Brauer Calm (available from Health food shops and chemists) are helpful if you are feeling edgy and grumpy.  A Beroccawill give you energy if the thought of one more thing to do makes you cry. When I was pregnant with Jack, the thought of making dinner each night would have me in tears, so I would take a Berocca in the afternoon and it would give me that extra boost I needed to get me through the next few hours.
  • Play some music – either something calming to help you relax a bit, or upbeat that begs you to dance or sing loudly, or just be plain silly - for this you might need Colin Buchanan or Veggie Tales.  Here's one on YouTube to get you started.
  • Have something to look forward to, and put it on the calendar.  I usually get movie tickets for Christmas from my hubby as he knows that one of my favourite things to do is to go and watch a movie on my own.  There is no one I need to talk to (and hardly anyone else in our quiet cinema either) and I can just be transported for a couple of hours.  Or plan a special night for you and your husband.  We always look forward to our date nights. Sometimes just having something planned to look forward to can help you get through the tough times now.
  • Put a movie on for the children while the baby is sleeping.  Sit down and relax in another room for as long as they let you.  And don't feel guilty.
  • If all else fails, HIDE!  Ring your mum or an understanding friend and ask them to come and look after your children for half an hour while you lock yourself in a room and refocus.  For Mother’s Day I encouraged Rose to make me some vouchers to help look after the littlies instead of spending money on a gift.  I cashed in one of these vouchers the other day when Ireally needed some space.
    Please visit Natalie at Trusting God Each Day

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Joys and Frustrations of Being a Creative Mother

By Sue Elvis

Our house is Mary’s house. Pictures of Our Lady adorn every wall, and my favourite of all is the one drawn for me by my sister Vicky.

It is a pencil drawing based on Raphael’s Madonna della Seggiola. Vicky gave it to me, and for many years, it remained rolled up in a protective cylinder awaiting a frame and a picture hook. When we moved to a house of our own, several years ago, and I was allowed to knock as many nails into the walls as I desired, I unrolled my treasure. I framed the drawing and hung it in the lounge as part of my ‘gallery’, a row of pictures that are especially dear to me.
I cannot draw. My penciled people don’t even look as good as stick figures, and so I am in awe of Vicky’s talent. It seems rather miraculous to me that she is able to create such beautiful images. I watch transfixed as her pencil flies confidently over the paper.
But even though I am not an artist I feel a bond with Vicky. I understand her need to create. I also have an urge to make something unique, something beautiful, something that expresses the inner me.  I guess that drive, to bring something individual and beautiful into being,  is a faint reflection of God’s creative ability. We, who are born in His image, want to imitate our Maker. But for me, creation does not result in exquisite works of art. On the days when I am bursting with the need to make something, I will sew an embellished skirt for one of my daughters, or a fluffy rabbit with clothes for all occasions for my Goddaughter, or an intricate, redwork embroidery for a friend. Or create a story. What satisfaction there is in finding just the right words to convey an idea or conjure up a picture in the mind.
For a mother, there are often times when creativity must be put aside. The demands of children take first place. That longing to create when it is impossible can be frustrating. There have been times in the past, when I’ve wanted to sew but my arms have been full with a needy baby. Or I have wanted to sit at my computer and let the words flow onto the screen but I have had to nurse a sick child. There have been times when I have just entered that higher plane of creation and then had to bump suddenly back down to earth at the cry of, “Mum, I need…” How difficult that can be. But recently, with my children growing up, I have regained my own quiet time. And how I appreciate being able to use it to create.
I think of Vicky and her talents. I know there are many times she’d like to move into that other world of creation together with her paints or her pencils, but she can’t. Her little creations here in the real world are still demanding her attention.
 I came across a poem by Jan Owens which expresses this dilemma perfectly. In Young Woman Gathering Lemons, a young pregnant mother notices the light gleaming off the lemons she is gathering from a tree. She has an urge to capture the colours on canvas but she knows she hasn’t the time to create, and so tears fall from her eyes. Then her child tugs on her dress and she gives her attention to what is really most important in her life.
 ‘Who’s got a silly old mother, then?’
 She kneels to hug him close and breathe him in:
It dizzies her, the fragrance of his skin.
He nuzzles under the hair come loose.
The fallen lemons, nippled gold,
wait round them in the grass.
Vicky has drawn many pictures of Mary. It is one of her favourite subjects which makes me smile. I remember when Vicky, my sister-in faith, told me she believed in the truth of the Real Presence. She knew she wanted to join the Catholic Church. But there was still so much she felt uncomfortable with: “Sue, I am not at all sure about Mary. I don’t think I could have a devotion to her. It doesn’t feel right.”
I told Vicky not to worry. “Give it time, Vicky. Keep reading and keep praying. I am sure you will come to love Mary. You will soon think of her as a mother.” And as the Holy Spirit worked within Vicky, she came to accept and be thankful for the gift of Our Blessed Mother, whom she’d previously been wary of.
And looking at Vicky’s artwork and her favourite subject, there is no doubt in my mind that my sister loves Our Lady so very much.
Vicky once said to me, “Sue, what will I do with all my time when I no longer have a baby who needs me?” Again, I told her not to worry.  I am sure my sister is going to be very busy sharing her talents. She will create beautiful religious images that will capture our hearts and turn our thoughts to God. Or she will delight us with her unique portraits.
Update: Vicky has created her own blog, Victoria Leach- Portrait Art and a connected website. You can visit Vicky's website to enjoy a gallery of her work. Vicky is sharing her works in progress, as well as her entertaining articles of artistic hints, on her blog. Please visit and stop and say hello. She will be most encouraged if you take the time to make a comment. 

Please share more of my stories at my own blog Sue Elvis Writes

PS Vicky's drawing is much more beautiful that my blurry photo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Table Manners

By Erin @ Seven Little Australians and Counting
Table Manners is an ongoing process and something my husband and I believe important. Growing up I remember my father being emphatic that boys should not turn up to the table bare chested and your chair must remain on four legs, my mother was emphatic that each meal was worthy of a tablecloth, my husband's mother is emphatic as to what is regarded as 'polite table talk'. These habits are ingrained in my husband and I, and in turn we have passed these on, but we still have other areas to cultivate.

Table manners add or detract to the atmosphere of a meal. Whether it is your own child or a visiting child, behaviour at the table can't help but be noticable.

It appears that our six year old feels rather strongly about table manners too as she has been begging me to hang a 'manners chart' on the wall. To this end I have been searching for one, I found a list but after discussion with some of my favourite people, I decided to adjust the list as I realised that each family have their own unique areas that need cultivating.

I share with your our list, please feel free to take it and adjust to suit your own unique needs.
I'd also like to draw your attention to a fascinating good manners chart which covers far more than just table manners. The 'Good Manners' chart was first issued to Queensland schools in 1898 by the Department of Public Instruction as part of the systematic teaching of conduct and manners. The chart was based on rules formulated by the Children's National Guild of Courtesy which had been founded in UK elementary schools in 1889.

Table Manners
Wash your hands and face before sitting down.

Come to the table when called.

No books at the table.

Sit up straight, knees down and forward facing to the table. Sit on your bottom.

Wait until everyone is seated and served before beginning Grace.

Wait until Grace is said before beginning eating. Do not interrupt during Grace.

Don't interrupt conversations; wait your turn to talk.

Only engage in 'polite table talk.'

Look after other people; do not help yourself only.

Ask politely for dishes to be passed. Never reach across the table.

Do not be greedy.

Keep your elbows off table.

Turn your head away from table and cover your mouth to sneeze or cough.

Wipe your hands on your napkin, not your shirt or tablecloth,

Never chew with your mouth open.

Never talk with a mouth full of food.

Use utensils quietly without banging them on the table or plate.

Use a bread and butter plate for your bread.

Do not eat off your knife.

Ask to be excused from the table before you leave.

Thank your hostess for the meal, thank all for their company.

Clear your plate from the table and take it into the kitchen

Please read more of Erin's posts at Seven Little Australians and Counting.

Monday, June 6, 2011


By Sarah

When one of our daughters was eighteen months or so, a fellow parishioner referred to her as ‘the one with attitude’. This was mildly amusing (especially since it must have been fairly impressive to have been that obvious from about fifteen pews back!) but lately I have been thinking that it shouldn’t have been. There is nothing to admire in strident wilfulness, and whilst it might be temporarily permissible in a child of that age, the temporary should be stressed. The bumper stickers one sees so commonly which emphasise vulgarity, discourtesy and self-importance, or the slogans on t-shirts, of which I need not give examples but with which most will be familiar, quote the twenty-first century description of ‘attitude’ (i.e. bad attitude) as if it were a virtue.

Bad attitudes are responsible for a great deal of the troubles with which we are forced to contend in our present social set-up, especially bad attitudes to authority, honesty, gentleness and modesty. Yet these bad attitudes are exactly what is held up as worthy of striving for! Examine almost any magazine available in the newsagent, almost any television show (including the news), almost any literary curriculum in schools, indeed almost any recent example of any art, and the underlying thrust is the same: defiance of authority and glorification of self. It is often subtle enough that we don’t even realise how greatly we are ourselves influenced by it. It is connected with the modern idea that anything novel is of necessity good, and that individual self-expression is essential to the flowering of the personality.

How peculiarly this is opposed to the traditional Catholic ideal that self-denial is essential to the flowering of the personality – that true maturity, the uncomplaining carrying of one’s own little crosses, brings wisdom!

I am frustrated and saddened that so many people assume there is necessarily a conflict between young people and older people. Of course youth must learn, and of course wisdom must not oppress – parents, do not drive your children to resentment – but why is it assumed that our young people must become these monsters called ‘teenagers’? What is special about the teenage years other than inexperience, enthusiasm and idealism? These are ripe to develop into good attitudes. The conflict is not necessary. Sometimes we can inadvertently make it so by expecting our youngsters to be ‘teenagers’; but why not expect them to be worthy, charming, reliable and pleasant people instead? I do not speak here of youngsters in school, because the pressures upon them are so extensive and difficult to combat; I am treating specifically of home-schooled young people. Most youngsters allowed to develop normally in a secure family, that is without being crippled by having thrust upon them the attitudes and expectations of secular society, will develop attitudes of decency, even without the rigorous teaching of the Church.

Haven’t you observed even young women dressed in short tight skirts and ‘crop tops’, unconsciously constantly tugging at the hemlines to try and cover their exposure?
Despite the persistent message pushed at them from all directions, despite their anxious efforts to fulfil what they have been taught to yearn for, they are somehow subconsciously aware that they are immodestly dressed. The instinct for good has been subverted.

These youngsters have been betrayed into believing that liberty lies in doing what one pleases. Of course true liberty lies is doing what Christ pleases, and the Catholic Church is the custodian of that Truth. So of course our disciplining of our children’s attitudes, as of our own, must be the disciplining of the self to Christ. We must accept the authority of the Church. Humility is a necessity; obeying someone else means subduing our own pride. Our children will not accept our authority if they do not see that we accept higher authority. If they are to be co-operative and self-disciplined it will only because they observe the same qualities, or at least a striving for the same qualities, in ourselves. What a daunting challenge! But we could not face it alone. We will only succeed through Christ. A striking example of that self-discipline which we can provide is for our children to see us go to regular Confession.

I love the companionship and joy of my older children as they grow up. I love the easy expectation among our homeschooling families that our young people are simply that; our youngsters, growing from childhood to adulthood. I love the happy relationships that our little ones have with the older children, their trustful expectation of love and tolerance. I earnestly pray that it will not be riven by bad attitudes, but rather strengthened and reinforced by good ones.