Waiting during Infertility with Grace, Patience and Purpose

Waiting During Infertility

Infertility is such a difficult journey and there is long periods of waiting during infertility. Infertility involves so much waiting. Waiting for a positive pregnancy test, waiting for a cycle to begin, waiting for blood test results, waiting for doctors appointments, waiting for scans, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for your turn. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Waiting patiently for children or contemplating a possibility of no children sometimes feels like an impossible chore. Except it’s not a chore, it’s an existence. Living with infertility is an existence where everything is hopeless and every feeling you have is limited to your feeling of loss. Thoughts are constantly about the baby who is not in your arms.

I can remember there was an evening during my journey of infertility when I changed my perspective of waiting and started to concentrate more on living.

It happened as I watched a grieving husband kneeling by a graveside, weeping for his dead wife, lamenting his loss and contemplating raising 2 daughters on his own. Unseen by him, I could see his wife’s ghost. She was begging him to cease his grieving. She implored him to not waste a moment while  alive but to value and cherish life, recognizing that even the small mundane things in life are “important enough” and that he should value “every, every minute.”

This mourning husband grieved on a stage during a scene of the famous American play “Our Town”. the poignant image of the dead watching us live our lives and willing us to respect the enormous privilege we have to be alive affected me enormously.

As I watched, it occurred to me that perhaps I needed to ensure that the fleeting minutes that belong to me as I live on earth are not wasted.

At the time, my husband and I had been married for 4 years. We married relatively young and during our marriage, we were already on the way to paying off our modest little white farmhouse that we lived in, I had finished my degree, a Bachelor of Education and in the evenings Alex was studying externally working on his degree, a Bachelor of Accounting. We were working during the day which had developed a passion for travelling and funded overseas European adventures and had a great social life with a variety of friends.

Young and infertile
Alex and I back when we were young and childless.

But, for almost 2 years at that point, we had been trying to have a child.

It is not that the quest to have children was crippling me and leaving me unable to live a meaningful life. I was very happily employed as a lower primary teacher at Christian Outreach College. I adored the children in my classes and I enjoyed teaching. In many ways I was able to redirect my instinct to mother towards those children. I would make sure they ate their lunch, ensure they felt loved and accepted, govern the squabbles and conflicts they had with their friendships. I would spend hours preparing games and designing lessons so that the learning was as fun as possible while the content that I taught was solid and my students had strong academic foundations in those early years.

But even though I loved my job, there was still a level of discontent that one feel when you are experiencing infertility. The yearning to have your own biological children can be deep and painful.

I am a Christian. I talk to God and he talks to me. I believe God talks to me in a variety of ways. Sometimes I feel dirction by God when I read His words in the Bible. Sometimes as I pray, I can feel a presence and deep down inside my Spirit. I hear a voice that is wiser than my own. After I have prayed, ideas and answers that become guidance come to me, more often and more quickly then if I do not pray. So for me, this is proof that God talks to me. When I am at church, often I hear from God when I sing a song or listen to the Pastor preach.

Then there are the times that God speaks to me in a more unconditional way. For instance, a walk in the bush contemplating nature, and suddenly God drops a metaphor into my mind that applies to a situation in my life.

On this particular occasion God used some words written by Thornton Wilder and a group of student actors to get my attention.

Later that evening as I contemplated the message of the play, I heard God speaking to me. I felt a clear directive that I was not to waste my life worrying that I would never get pregnant or speculatively obsessing about my future.

Would I be a mother?

Childless? Was I going to be always without my own children? How would I cope, would there always be a part of me that would feel empty and unfulfilled?

That night I realized that while it was natural to feel emotional about this topic, I was spending so far too much of my thought life contemplating scenarios of what may or may not be. At the end of the day, the obsessing was not getting me anywhere. There were two scenarios. I would have children, or I wouldn’t. Either way, if I wanted my life to be meaningful, I would need to work out a way proceed and find my purpose in each moment.

And so I stopped dreaming about the “what ifs” and living more in the moment and planning for the future that I knew. I was living, seeking to fulfill my days with meaning and gratitude. Of course I still dreamed about being a mother, but when I did so, it was with the confidence that whatever my future was, it was secure and it was good.

And it has been good! After five years of trying to conceive, I discovered I was pregnant with our first child. I was living in London at the time. Ringing my parents and my sister and telling them the news was one of the happiest moments of my life.

In my wildest dreams I would have never imagined that after my first little boy was born, I would have four more children and that my youngest three would be triplets.

Large Family 5 kids and triplets

Parenting is hard work. Really hard work. I am blessed that I am able to stay at home with my children and raise them during these early years. Each day is precious and I treasure so many moments with my children. It’s not all happiness. There are the stormy waters of childish tantrums, stubbornness and jealousy to negotiate. When the tempests brought on by angry little humans surround me, I often remember the days when I yearned for these children. Suddenly my perspective is restored, and somehow I navigate our ship into safer harbours and enjoy the sunshine when peace is restored.

I remember the words spoken in the play, “Our Town”, that I watched back in 2002. Emily, the young wife who had died asked, “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it … every, every minute?” The response from the Stage Manager who narrated the play was, “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

I am not a poet, and my family would testify that I am indeed no saint. I am determined to live my life in such a way that it is meaningful. While I am here on earth, I don’t want to just value every moment, I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I want to make the God that I pray to proud of the life I lived and I want my life to reflect the goodness that he is to me.

Because, to once again quote Thornton Wilder’s words in “Our Town”,

“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars … everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”

 

 

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I Wanna Be…

Dress Ups and Children's books

There are two books that are very popular in our house. Written by Heath McKenzie, I Wanna Be a Pretty Princess and I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur are two books that encourage imaginative play, independence and individuality not to mention fancy dress!

I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur is about a little boy who professes that “More than anything else in the whole wide world, I wanna be a great big Dinosaur!” A friendly T-Rex overhears this statement and offers to teach the boy all the skills necessary to be a great big dinsosaur. So he learns the basics: like ROARing, stomping and eating but then starts to discover some of the activities that little boys engage in. By the end of the story, the dinosaur reverses roles and wishes that more than anything else in the whole wide world he wants to be a little boy. And why not? Eating delicious foods more than just meat, reading, soccer and video games makes me want to become a little boy or girl again also. (Some days!)

I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur

I Wanna Be A Pretty Princess follows the same pattern. A little girls wants more than anything else in the whole wide world to become a pretty princess. A princess overhears and shows her the rudimentary requirements and etiquette required to being a pretty princess. The little girl is not completely thrilled with all these rules, so makes up her own rules. I must say I think the little girl literally rocks the princess role in her rainbow tights and tutu as opposed to the perfectly manicured princess with no room for error.

I Wanna Be a Pretty Princess

To be truthful, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book when I first read it. Maybe it was because my little girl, isn’t the princess type generally. She is more the super-girl, roaring dinosaur dress up girl normally (fits right in with her four brothers). She LOVES this book though and we have read it a million times,  and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. (Sometimes the boys even request it when she’s not around, so that has increased the quota also) Maybe the encouragement towards self expression suits her?

These are a great addition to our kids library. Both books are loved by both boys and girls and are filled with vibrant and humorous illustrations and fun dialogue.

 

 

Reading I Wanna Be
I started reading the two books with Imogen and Jayden today. Toby wasn’t interested and was busy playing with mobilo. I loved how gradually he was drawn from two rooms away (complete with dinosaur tail and mobilo belt) and by the time the 2nd story started he was well and truly engaged with the text.

 

These books were gifted to us by Scholastic. All opinions are my own, of course!

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I Was Offended by Sexualisation of Women on Mother's Day

To the young man who sat next to me on the plane on Mothers Day,

Plane Sitting

Mother’s Day is a day celebrating motherhood and thereby it is a day we cherish womanhood and esteem femininity.

Let me tell you, I did not feel valued as a woman and esteemed as a mother when I looked at your shirt. The topless young blonde in tiny lacy knickers displayed on your shirt was sexually objectifying women. There is never a good day to objectify women and on Mother’s Day it was particularly offensive to me. For the first time that day I was glad I did not have my children with me. I am glad that my four boys did not see an image that should never be thought as ‘normal’ and the fact they are young enough to not be turned on by a naked lady but enthused by the water pistol the woman on your shirt pressed to her oversized breasts just makes it more dangerous. I’m glad my daughter did not see a picture that debases females.

You seemed to be a nice enough young man. You smiled as you sat down and spoke to my husband politely. At the end of the flight you considerately passed my husband his suit jacket from the overhead locker. I don’t know whether you have even considered or realised that there are some people who would find your shirt offensive. I wish I was brave enough to tell you in person. I will use this platform to explain why I take exception to men who wear shirts with images that belong in a porn magazine. (And might I add that I don’t think porn magazines and their extreme objectification of women belong in society? That is another issue however.)

I wonder, if you knew that on Mother’s Day you were going to sit on a plane next to the mother of the girl on your shirt, would you? Or if this woman was a mother, would you sit next to her children with their scantily clad mother plastered over your chest? Would you like her mother or her children to know that you look at a picture of her daughter or their mother and imagine having sex with her? And would you like them to know that you don’t imagine having sex with her because she is a special person or that she has a delightful personality or that she is lovable? How could you think of her in that way? You do not know her, she is a merely a pictorial object that causes you to have a biological reaction?

You might say that my indignation is unfounded. You might say that the way you wear this shirt is nothing personal to the young woman depicted on it.

That, young man, is my point. You have a sexually explicit picture on your shirt and it is indeed nothing personal. It is a woman you do not know and it makes you, and others who look at her meaningless. Sexually gratifying to a certain point for you. Exciting to behold perhaps? But meaningless, as her image only produces a mere instinctual reaction.

Sex should be far more than a biological reaction. When sex is seen as impersonal, womanhood is not valued. The loving sexual relationship that men and women have,  that produces children who are  loved and brought up in a loving family needs to be esteemed. Our society is damaged by depersonalising sex and our thoughts regarding sex.

Young man, I wish I had the confidence to tell you this to your face. I wish that I could be as confronting to you as your shirt was confronting to me.

I wish you could realise on Mother’s Day that having sex in a loving committed relationship upholds a woman’s dignity and worth as a person and not as an object. I wish you could realise that wearing sexual images reduces the dignity of womanhood. The fact that you dare to wear this in public may not be offensive to all, but for those who it does offend, it is reasonable for us to feel this way.

I wish that you did not feel the need to advertise your own primal desires publicly on your chest. I wish that you would recognise that if more young men changed the mentality that sex is a commodity to be thoughtlessly imagined and consumed, then there would be less young women feeling the need to degrade themselves by dressing in a provocative way to get your attention. Because even though women do dress in a way to evoke a sexual response from you, there are very few women that actually want meaningless sex. I am confident when I say that most women want love, committed love, more than they want sex.

Please young man, think twice before you wear clothing with naked women photographed on it. I know that the woman has posed for it, and it was her free choice to do this. Don’t take away society’s free choice when we choose not to look at sexual images. When you walk up to us with that image, you take away that choice. You evoke other men to have lustful thoughts governed purely by biology, whether they wanted to or not. On so many levels, that shirt is not fair.

Yours sincerely,

The Mother sitting next to you, rushing home to hug her children before they go to bed.

PS. I saw you checking Instagram and Facebook in the air. What if our plane had dropped out of the air and I didn’t get to see my kids again because your failure to place your phone on Flightsafe mode….

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Building a Birdhouse With a Child

Making a birdhouse with my child was a fun activity using nature to interact with nature. His birdhouse has been swinging in the garden from a cherry blossom tree for over a year now and I’m pleasantly suprised how it has endured the seasonal changes and weather.
Building a birdhouse was an activity which certainly required adult assistance and was quite time consuming for a seven year old. Some older children might be able to construct one independently, although a bit of guidance from an adult would most likely be helpful, particularly during the first time. We have found it a good project to work on during the holidays or on a weekend that has ample free time available. Jonty has made two now. The first one hangs in our garden, the second he gave to his best friend for Christmas. We really need to make a third. A friend asked Jonty to make her one and he said he would, and even though she has made Jonty some recycled birdhouses, we haven’t reciprocated, which I feel awful about, but it is a time consuming activity and our lives are so busy. But no excuses, we really ought to do it soon.
The first step was to go hunting in the yard for leaves and sticks. We have plenty of gum trees around us so this wasn’t too hard. Depending on where you live you may need to go on a bushwalk or an excursion to a national park. The trick was to find sticks a variety of sizes that were able to be broken into smaller sizes easily enough.
We used an empty juice bottle as the base to stick the sticks and leaves onto. Cutting the holes out for the birdhouse was tricky and certainly needed to be done by an adult. We made sure that the hanging string was in place right from the start.
Birdhouse made by a child
After that it was a case of using the hot glue gun to apply the sticks. There were a few burnt fingers here (for both of us!). Assembling the sticks require a bit of thought and time to fit them together like a jigsaw so there was minimal gaps. I would line up a stick, Jonty would glue it and apply it to the container. Just a hint, we ended up sitting on a large piece of cardboard to catch the dripping glue. This was the time consuming part of the project.
Child making Birdhouse with hot glue
Jonty first put bread and grapes (his idea!) into the birdhouse. The next time we went shopping we bought birdseed and kept a container in the pantry. It lasted a long time because the birds haven’t seemed to cotton on to the free food!
Birdhouse food
Although this was a time consuming project, it was a great chance to spend some quality time being creative with my son. If you have a block of time, I would heartily recommend this as an activity to try with your child. It’s also very exciting when birds eat from it, and a great chance to learn the names of various birds.
Project Birdhouse
Do you have birds in your garden? Do you ever feed them or have a birdbath? Any hints on tempting the birds to eat from our birdhouse more regularly?
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To the Mother Who Feels Like She is Drowning

 

To the Mother Who Feels Like She is Drowning

Dear Mother who feels like she is drowning,

I know you are struggling to breathe. I can hear the strangled sounds as your head pierces the water and you gasp for air. I can see your legs kicking furiously underneath the surface valiantly fighting for survival.

I know that mounting to do list is drowning you. I see you feeling suffocated in dirty washing, dirty dishes, dirty window sills and unclean toilets. I know that sometimes when you breathe it must be shallow breaths because the smell of urine seems to permeate so many places in your home, not least of all the toilet which you cleaned from top to bottom 20 minutes ago. I know how the sound of crying, screaming and whining dulls your senses and follows your relentlessly. I can see you locked in your cupboard struggling for composure, praying for sanity and I see that before you regain the equilibrium you seek, you rush back out to the cacophony because if you don’t, you fear that some tiny bodies may perish in the battle that constantly surrounds you.

I see you tentatively venture into the wider world, silently praying that you will not sink below the glassy sea while everyone is watching. You hold the little hand beside you tightly and every fibre of your being wills the life form that you have created to hold it together otherwise you could break. And while everything goes smoothly I know you feel like a hypocrite as people applaud you for being “such a good mum” when you know that any moment you are about to fall apart. And when the inevitable comes, the mother and child’s truce disintegrates and the battle with your small charge recommences, you swallow your pride as you struggle to control the writhing body as it convulses in a tantrum. You are once again absorbed in their world trying to decipher their needs and tame their wants, yet still aware of the averted gazes and silent disapproval as humankind passes you by.

To the Mother who feels that she is drowning.

You will not drown. Look up for a moment. There are life rafts you can get onto nearby. If it seems too far away to swim, take a moment and yell for help. There are people nearby ready to throw life buoys in your direction.

I know so often if feels like you are all alone because you are immersed in your personal pain. There are always those who want to swim beside you or help tug you to safety if you look. Just stop and look and you will find a compassionate friend, a counsellor, a person in a community group or local church. They are all around holding life jackets for you, ready to put it on you and keep you safe. Believe me mother, tread water for a little while, call for help and grasp the hand that extends towards you.

Get to that raft and breathe. Find that place of safety and work out a plan. Your survival depends on it. Recognise that surviving does not equal perfection. Not every dirty room will be clean and not every moment will be calm, but learn to be happy amidst the clamour of daily life. Be happy and confident even if you are surrounded by imperfection. As you sit on that raft, look ahead at the distance you have to swim. Don’t feel overwhelmed but notice that in the stretch ahead, there are life rafts dotted all over the place. When it’s time to get back in the water, you only need to swim to the next raft; the next mother’s group meeting, the next church service. Swim to the next mothers group meeting where you can breathe with other mother’s who are taking refuge, swim to the next church service where you will find motivation to continue the marathon, swim to the next family function where arms will wrap you in love, even when you don’t feel worthy.

I promise you, the land will appear on the horizon. Some day you will reach the shores of sanity. Your house will be gleaming, there will be no more public tantrums, your children will link arms and walk with you on that shore and you will sit and eat a luxurious meal uninterrupted in comfort. As you look back out at the ocean you will feel peace because you know that it was a long hard swim to get to this promised land, but it was worth every stroke. You will remember the treacherous seas and the pain of the journey and you will find a boat and and row back into the waters and throw life vests out to those who are still swimming.

We swim this thing called life together. The old and the young, the weak and the strong. No one needs to drown.

 

Do you feel like you might be drowning? What are your life rafts as you wade through the waters of motherhood?

Are you able to throw the life vests for people? How do you recommend mothers get to safety?

 

Today I’m linking with Essentially Jess’s fabulous IBOT. Check it out, find a life raft and read some blogs. It will do your heart good.

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Face Painting – Holiday Fun

Holiday Face Painting

Face painting is always a popular activity for children. To be truthful, I’ve been scared at the thought of how to face paint. Today is the last official day of the Queensland school holidays and the kids discovered a packet of face paint crayons they were given as a gift awhile back. I took a deep breath, did a Pinterest search, “Easy face painting ideas for kids” and started. Much easier than I thought! Truly! I’m not a highly artistic person, but I can copy simple shapes, so using the internet images as a guide, I whacked the crayons on, and hey presto, five happy kids!

Plus, it has inspired their play to such an extent that I’ve been able to sneak away and write a quick blog post about it! Fresh off the press!

Trent started the ball rolling, requesting to be Batman.

Face Painting Batman

Next, Toby wanted to be a blue bat dog. This is my interpretation of a bat dog. Which is basically a dog with blue spots. My crayon wasn’t quite fine enough for the fine lines. Did he mind? Not at all.

Face Painting Blue Dog

Immy want to be a crab. She was quite enraptured by the crabs at during our holiday at the beach during Easter recently. So why not paint one on your forehead? I ask you.

Face painting crab

Jayden wanted to be a spider. Once again, a finer tip would have been good here, but not one word of complaint.

Face painting spider and web

Jonty wanted to be Captain America. It made me stop and think, but turns out it wasn’t hard at all either!

Face Painting Captain America

And here is the crime fighting, barking, arachnid scuttling fivesome!

Face Painting kids holiday activity

This little activity today has just made me think how sometimes I don’t do things with my children because in my head they need to be perfect. But truly, it doesn’t take much to make a child happy. And to be truthful, it’s far more healthy for a child to accept and love activities and things that are simple and rejoice in the moment rather than breed them to become fixated perfectionist standards also.

Just keeping it real, before I could finish writing this, I went to check on the triplets who were still in the sandpit, however one was drenched in water, another was naked, (and consequently got bitten by a green ant on his bum), another had sand through his hair. I bathed all three. Batman than decided he preferred being Captain America #2, so a face was re-painted.

The highlight of the morning for the kids was Grandma and Grandad coming to visit. Grandma had a sun painted on her cheek by Trent, Jonty painted a tractor on Grandad’s cheek, and Jayden and Trent also scribbled on Grandad’s face. The children are blessed to have grandparents who are totally good sports!

Facepainting Grandad

Have you painted faces before? What have you drawn? Any face painting tips? (I need plenty!)

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Prevention and Coping Skills for Teenage Depression

As I have been writing about issues affecting teen girls lately, I keep seeing that the issues often have a common side effect. Depression.

Depression
Photo Credit: Photo Dropper

 

Sexualisation leads to depression. Growing up in a dysfunctional family and family breakdown breeds depression. And when a young girl is trapped in domestic violence, depression is very understandable. The list keeps continuing: teen pregnancy, isolation at school, relationships, friendships, drugs, social media. The issues that teenagers need to navigate are complex and if they are not lovingly guided there is a great danger of experiencing depression and other mental issues.

A study by the Murdoch Research Institute showed that females aged between 15-29 are almost twice as likely to experience depression compared to males in the same age bracket. This is particularly sobering when you consider the implications of teenage depression. A depressed teen will have more trouble at school and maintaining a job. They will get sick more often. There are higher rates of pregnancy and STD for teenage girls with depression. 30% of teens with depression will develop substance abuse. Teenagers with depression are 12 times more likely to commit suicide, particularly if the depression is untreated, and sadly only 33% of depressed teens receive help.

If you suspect your teen, or a teenager you know is depressed, here are some ideas to help them. (These strategies may not work for severe depression. Professional guidance will be required for severe clinical depression.)

1. Get Help
See a doctor. Your teenager qualify for a mental health plan so you can work towards getting better. Severe depression may require medication. Medicating for mental illness should be viewed in a similar way to medicating any other illness.

2. Identify Coping Skills
Help your teen to recognise those things that help lift their mood when they are feeling down. Exercising, listening to music, counting until feeling calm, getting outdoors are all examples of coping strategies to counter negative feelings when depressed.

3. Maintain Rules and Boundaries
While sensitivity needs to be applied to help a teenager through a time of depression, make it clear that rules still apply. It might be difficult for your teen to get their homework done when they are depressed, but if you still require them to reach your standard and expectations, you are assisting them to develop emotional resilience and to rise above their problems. Let your child develop strategies to work around their illness rather than using their illness to develop strategies to avoid work.

4. Keep Them Busy
Avoid allowing your child to pull their head over the covers and remain in bed all day. Responsibilities actually help people to rise above depression. Simple things like getting dressed and showering are a good start. Don’t be harsh, but be firm. Set simple tasks at first and increase the challenge as your child responds. Consider getting your teenager to help with projects outside the home like in a soup kitchen. Considering other’s needs can help breed purpose and help them to focus on other’s needs rather than their own.

Depression is not inevitable for all teenagers. There are many things that can parents can initiate to prevent their child becoming depressed and luckily for those of us with young children, we can start putting these safeguards in place right now. Of course there are no guarantees, but it’s certainly worth trying.

1. Discourage Talking Negatively
Sometimes life is difficult and everyone can feel discouraged, but it is important that children learn to recognise that their expectations of themselves and their image of themselves is realistic, but not hyper-critical. For instance, if a child says, “I’m hopeless at Math”, teach them to re-phrase this to, “I don’t enjoy Math”. Your child has then expressed their frustration, but is no longer shouldering blame or projecting failure. Likewise instead of saying “I always look awful and no one likes me” teach your child to express emotion without making blanket statements. “I don’t feel pretty today, so I’m glad you and Dad still love me.” is a better statement. It acknowledges feelings, but also finds a positive. It’s not always easy for children teenagers, particularly those with depression problems to phrase things positively, but the more they are gently guided to do so, gradually their thinking will become more positive also.

2. Teach the Child the Benefits of Failure
It doesn’t feel nice to fail, however some of life’s most useful lessons are learned after experiencing failure. Teach your child to appreciate challenges and not to fear failure. Giving your child the confidence that they can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again after failure teaches them emotional resilience which makes it hard for depression to take control.

3. Talk to Your Child
By taking an interest in your child and talking regularly with your child from a young age, trust is established. When you take the time to listen to a child, you can understand their perspectives and their thought processes. It will also give you a more natural way to coach them through life’s hardships without preaching or lecturing. Building relationship makes you more approachable and accessible if there is ever a crisis that your child is walking through.

Letitia Shelton 40 Days Cycle
Letitia about to start cycling on a cold morning!

Depression is not an easy illness to navigate, it needs to be treated with sensitivity and concern. There also needs to be a degree of firmness to help children understand that they can arise above challenges rather than using them as an excuse. I have been writing this series on teenage girl issues that affect our society while my friend Letitia cycles 40km in 40 days. She is on her last week now, if you’d like to motivate her aching body to finish strong, head over to City Women and make a donation.  The money will directly help girls in our city. I was talking to her on Sunday, she’s definitely having to push through the pain now!

Have you ever seen a child experiencing depression? Do you have further advice of how to help kids cope when depressed or prevention strategies?

 

 

 

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Talking to Children About Childbirth

Talking to Your Children About Childbirth
Image Credit

We were sitting around the table last night eating dinner, when all of a sudden the question I have long been dreading came up.

“How does a baby come out of Mummy’s tummy?” asked Master 8.

I awkwardly cleared my throat, trying to phrase a dignified response in my head that would also be appropriate to be heard by the five year old and 3 three year olds also present at the table.

Before I could issue a carefully worded response, Daddy abruptly responded, “You came out from between Mummy’s legs,” Master 8’s face was looking puzzled and bewildered but he quickly forgot this as he heard Daddy say, “and while you did, your Mum did this”, and then he proceeded to emit a  dramatic moan and panting.

I was mortified. Absolutely mortified I tell you.

The children were delighted and laughed ecstatically which only fuelled Daddy further.  He moved onto a description the next childbirth in the family (that had not had an epidural) and emitted a horrifying comical wail and scream.

The children were in hysterics. I was not. Daddy looked very pleased with himself. Not one ounce repentant.

The triplets wanted to know what I did when they were born. “Oh you were just cut out of Mummy’s stomach. She didn’t say anything.” Everyone looked disappointed, except Master 5 who had turned slightly pale. I’m fairly certain he was picturing a woodsman with an axe cutting the babies loose, just like in Little Red Riding Hood. The rest of the table appeared to accept that it was far more logical for babies to get cut out of stomach’s rather than come out from between someone’s legs.

There was a little more irreverent talk about C-sections and pregnancy before the children trotted off and grabbed some yoghurt for dessert. (I must have still been shell shocked because I didn’t even notice the two little boys hadn’t finished eating their dinner.)

Daddy and twins
Last night on their way to bed. Everyone (except maybe Mummy) was in high spirits.

 

As embarrassing as Alex’s ‘talk’ was for the children, it really wasn’t all bad. Somehow, he managed to tick some of the boxes of my requirements for sex education.

1. Begin Early.
I want to talk about sex and associated activities, i.e. childbirth(!) while the children are young. I don’t want to run the risk of my children being educated from others and being taught misconceptions and inaccuracies.
Check: Three year olds have have heard about some aspects of childbirth.

2. Be Informal
When I was given, “The Talk”, my mother was so factual using terms like “egg” and “ovaries” that when the time came to menstruate, I had no idea what was going to happen. (Sorry Mum!) I want to be specific in an informal way when talking to my children, so they understand while remaining innocent.
Check: Role play dramatically increases informality.

3.  Limit Embarrassment
Our sexuality is a natural part of life. I don’t want my kids being embarrassed about it or thinking it is dirty. Having said that, I do what them to be respectful when talking about sexuality and talk about it appropriately in the right context.
Check: Our kids weren’t embarrassed.
Future action: May need to reconsider whether childbirth and other associated talks are appropriate at the dinner table. Also may need to follow up and approach subject delicately to ensure children are not describing the way they were born on the playground.

Sex Education
Master 8 last night. Not one bit embarrassed.

Thank goodness somehow Alex is doing the right thing. (How do Dads do that???) Obviously he hasn’t scarred our daughter either. As I tucked her into bed she patted her vagina and said, “I’m glad I have a china. It’s special and the boys don’t have chinas.”

He remains unrepentant. “I can’t believe you told the children that at dinner tonight!” I told Alex after the kids were in bed last night. His response was a huge smile and he walked away chuckling saying, “The kids didn’t mind.” Considering we have four sons, Alex will be responsible for the majority of these talks, so I can only imagine what conversations in the future will look like.

Have you talked to your child about childbirth or sex? How did that go? 
Is it on your “To Do” list? What are your expectations?

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Easter Books

My children love Easter books. It is very special and poignant to read Christian stories about Easter with the children, but I also like them to have a little fun also with Easter eggs and bunnies.

Scholastic gifted us some very fun books.

Where’s the Easter Bunny – Louis Shea

Where's the Easter Bunny

Hands down, this is Jonty and Trent’s favourite of the Scholastic books this year. Just quietly, it is not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited when I first saw it, truly, I was. But that was because I know that this would be a hit with my kids, the illustrations were bright and even though there isn’t much text, there is still enough for the children to engage with and become familiar with words as they search for the clues. But, I really don’t get excited with search and finds and waiting for the children to find the hidden pictures. Alex is great at it, so I’ve now made a rule that Daddy does search and finds and Mummy only does books with stories in it. I know it’s a bit mean, but at least they aren’t missing out altogether.

Plus, they read it themselves a lot also, so they haven’t missed out trying to spot over 500 things! The boys love hunting through the hilariously detailed illustrations to find the Easter Bunny and other characters on every spread – they more they look, they more they laugh. And it’s always the sweetest thing to see two little heads bent over a book and laughing.

Those Pesky Rabbits – Ciara Flood

Those Pesky Rabbits

 

This isn’t really an Easter story. It just has rabbits in the stories. So that classifies it as Easter at this time of the year, but it can remain a favourite for the rest of the year as well. I would be in favour of repeat reading of this story. Those bunnies are such lovely bunnies. (Quite unlike bunnies in real life.) The book tells the tale of a family of cheerful rabbits who make their neighbours life unBEARable!

Old bear is a bit of a hermit and wants to be left alone but his rabbit neighbours don’t get it and keep trying to engage with the bear. Eventually their unselfish kindness wins and bear ends up making some wonderful friendships. A great story bringing out beautiful themes such as being a good neighbour, generosity, community, friendship, togetherness and consideration for others.

Little Barry Bilby Had A Fly Upon His Nose – Colin Buchanan and Roland Harvey

Little Barry Bilby

Ok, so once again, this isn’t an actual Easter book, but this time is about Bilby’s. Which in the real world are far more preferable to bunnies. It’s become very Australian to include Bilby’s in Easter celebrations and as a farmer’s daughter, I can see merit in this. Rabbits can be so destructive to crops and land. Bilby’s on the other hand are little natives who are far more likeable.

This book is set to the classic Little Peter Rabbit song, performed by Colin Buchanan. The book comes with a CD. Also very Australian is that Barry Bilby and his friends Peter Possum, Colly Cocky and a few others get absolutely attacked by Aussie bush bugs. (I winced when one character had a tick on his tail.) Roland Harvey’s illustrations (as always) are perfect. This is a great Aussie alternative for children at Easter. (And the rest of the year.)

Ten Easter Eggs

Ten Easter Eggs

A friendly board book for children, the triplets particularly loved this little counting story. A great introduction to subtraction. The illustrations are sweet and the plastic eggs are so touchable.

 

So, if you are looking for some stories to read over the Easter weekend, these all have my hearty recommendation.

Do you buy chocolate bilby’s at Easter? Do you enjoy reading search and find books, or do you prefer to leave children to their own devices and search independently?

 

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Broken Eggshells Easter Collage

Last Easter we completed an Easter craft activity today that had been over a year in the making. Generally we don’t walk on eggshells around here, we’re pretty much a straight shooting family. However last year I did go through a stage of saving eggshells, with the plan of doing an awesome art activity. Eggshell collages of Easter eggs!

Broken Eggshell Collage

It takes a long time to collect enough egg shells for five children to smash! Luckily I like baking! Every time I broke an egg I would gently wash the shells (the shells stored better clean) and store them in a bowl.

Broken Egg Shells for kids craft

By the time I collected enough egg shells that I thought would be sufficient for all the kids to have a good time, we were in the middle of moving house. Finally we were settled enough to let the children have some fun smashing! (Look how small they were!)

051

This was a great sensory experience for the babies. The older boys also loved it too. In fact, it kind of suits all age groups! I kind of like the feeling of smashing the eggshells myself! Of course it was completely messy, but that’s just the sign of a good time, right?

Twin boys crushing egg shells

Once the eggshells were broken we soaked the shells in food colouring. You need to add quite a bit of dye to soak into the shell. We also left it soak for quite some time – several hours in fact.

Dying Eggshells
I’m not sure what Trent was upset about, but isn’t he a good little blogger’s son taking a picture for me.

Then it was time to dry the shells out on paper towels. We stored them in zip lock bags until we were ready to collage.

dyed eggshells drying

As you can tell from the differences of age in the next series of pictures, we kept them stored in those zip lock bags for quite some time! We did use them in other craft activities, but I really wanted to use them on an Easter activity, and didn’t feel like saving eggshells again! It just seemed right to use them at Easter!

After all the hard work getting the eggshells, the craft was quite simple. I drew a (wonky) egg shape and let the children glue the eggshells onto it.
Easter Egg Eggshell Collage
It was actually quite complex trying to get the two year olds to glue in colour groupings. Jonty and  Toby did a fantastic job though. (The others had a wonderful time glueing with gay abandon.) I can never quite get Toby. I so often think he has poor concentration, but then he gets into something, and he will far outshine the others.
Collaging Easter Eggs Child's easter craft with broken eggshells Collage Easter Eggshells
Toby also glued eggshells onto a cross and talked about the cross being the most important symbol of Easter for Christians. (The other children were quite content just colouring their crosses.
Easter collage of cross with eggshells
If you would like to read some Christian Easter books to teach your child about Easter as you craft, check out my post reviewing Easter Books from Koorong.
This was a delightful long term craft project. If we do it again, it will be better co-ordinated and won’t stretch over two years! It was messy, but it was such a great experience on so many levels, creativity, sensory, patterning, fine motor skills, patience, etc. that I think it was certainly worthwhile.
Easter Collage using eggshells hanging on wall
Do you think you would be able to save eggshells for a craft activity? Do you have other ideas of what could be done with the broken eggshells? Believe it or not, I still have a few zip lock bags left. I should finish it off and make it a three year art project!
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