Friday, May 25, 2012

Birds, Bees And The Birds & The Bees

I've been thinking a lot about sex lately

...but more about that later...(now I know you're going to keep reading :-D)


Six years ago John hung a few bird boxes strategically around our house exterior, I'd heard it sometimes takes a while before you get any takers but six years is quite a while and though they were checked out a few times, this year we've had our first successful tenants, a pair of blue-tits.  My housework has suffered greatly as I've spent so long watching the comings and goings of this very dedicated little couple.  No whinging for 'me time' there.

It also happens to be the first time we actually have a half decent camera in our home though I still haven't mastered any of the settings apart from auto.  Maybe over the summer I'll read the book it came with. Oh and please don't burgle us to get it, it's taken us 17 years to acquire and would probably take is 17 more to replace it!!

One morning after several fruitless attempts of impersonating a BBC Wildlife photographer (boy those little birds move fast) I managed to capture a few moments:

I'm so proud of my little visitors.


You know we have a little honey in our home.  She's two and a right little busy bee, she learned how to open the garden gate today so I'm off to buy a lock first thing tomorrow, the older ones will have to climb over. Well anyway, I sent away for this little outfit for her, it came a day or two ago, now she's a little cutie bee too...

And on the subject of bees, over the years I have tried out many, many baby products, changed a million billion nappies, massaged little backs and tummies and generally made little babies kissable with every type of bubble, cream and oil I have been given as gifts or otherwise stumbled upon.  By far my favourite is Burts Bees.  I got a gift (from myself) of a little sampler set when Peter was a baby and fell in love with the natural, fresh and so very baby smell of the products.  They're a bit expensive but really nice for an occasional treat or to give as a gift.


Which brings me onto the real subject of this post...

The Birds & The Bees.

So yes, I've been thinking a lot about sex lately.  And the reason is that I'm in the process of wading through a mix of tweens, pre-teens and teenagers these days. So I'm praying, and studying and talking and guiding each little ladeee through these important times as best I can.  For those of us who have come to the conclusion that our culture's presentation of sex as little more than a fun recreational activity is at least dubious and at worst an utter disaster there is a big task on hand.  The bottom line is that it is ultimately a parent's job to inform and lead their children, to guide them through the quagmire and to equip them with what they will need to navigate their own way when they are old enough.  It is not a task which can or should be left to schools, the internet or anything else.  It's your job's your  job Dad!! 

Sex is more than a recreational activity...much much much  more and for anybody with an eye in their head it's not difficult to see that human sexuality and all that goes with it has been sold so far short. 

To the best of my knowledge there has yet to be invented a condom for the human heart nor is there one on the horizon.  So what has been left exposed in the early sexualisation of children, in the hook-up culture, in the porn culture and the growing addiction problems connected to it? 

What is left exposed is the young human heart which so so often ends up with life long damage and hard to shake baggage.  And all this in the name of something which has as it's intent human intimacy, the expression of the person as a gift to the other and the means by which our ever-loving creator has chosen to add to the human family.  Yet we feel at a loss as to where to turn to help our children avoid the pitfalls, maybe the same pitfalls we have fallen into ourselves. All the more so if we have tasted the bitter after-taste of the fruit that cannot satisfy. All the more if we have entered adulthood ourselves with hearts that were ripped or damaged, with a body which felt wrung out and cheap, all the more so if the word abortion sends a knife through our soul. All the more so if what was sold to us as 'fun' 'doing no harm to anyone' & 'everyone's doing it'  only to realise that we were sold a pig in a poke and that 'fun' didn't have the last laugh. 

And now there are these little people we love so much and we want to guide them to something better, to the excellent ideal we know there is.  I spoke about a year ago to a mother of young children who told me with tears in her eyes that she really believed there had to be more to parenting these children who were so precious to her and into whom she had invested so much love and care, simply at the end of it all to hand them a packet of condoms and a pill, it just seemed so...little. But she didn't even know where or how to start.

Do you remember before Christmas I wrote several posts about lovely things I'd come across which would make good gifts.  That was nice and fun, but now I'm going to share with you some gems I have discovered along the way which I can wholeheartedly share and recommend to you as aids in the task of educating your child in the truth and meaning of human sexuality, in aiming for the high ideal and in training them how to pick themselves up again should they fall.  I don't think God does anything for nothing, and Jesus falling under the weight of the cross not once, not twice but three times, getting up each time, was not for nothing.  We are going to fall, our children are going to fall...but we and they don't need to stay down.  Get up again and onward...

Teaching a child about the correct use of their sexuality begins as a tot, when they want the sweetie now, when they want that toy now, when they want the cookies straight out of the oven before they're cooled, and you say 'Don't grab' 'wait till it's ready' 'don't rip open that present until Grandma arrives' 'think of the other' You are teaching them that they can and should be masters of themselves and their wants, not be a slave to them.  So it applies to all sorts of areas of their lives, not just sexuality.  The teen who can wait for the coolest phone until they can save up for it will be a better adult than the teen who 'needs' it now at all cost (to their parent), and usually through no effort of their own.  That will be an adult who is a slave to whatever chaff the breeze sends his way and probably not too financially  responsible.

Actually, this post is getting a bit too long and unwieldy so I'll post the resources in a day or two. I'll just finish here by saying that this is something that is worth putting effort into. The stakes are high...very high. We all want our children to be happy and when this is right, more often than not, most other things fall into place.  Sexuality is such an integral part of the human psyche, we can't just leave it to chance and vague hope that everything will magically work out for the best.  

Tune into part two...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Without Dance, What's The Pointe?

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

I could have been a Dancer you know...God knows I tried.  

Here's my unlucky tale...

First of all, I could have been in Riverdance.  I started Irish Dance classes in a little galvanised community hall in the countryside when I was about three years old.  I don't remember much about it apart from one two three four five six seven, one two three, one two three...and I remember the little tartan skirt and moss green coloured tights I wore because they were so itchy. I'm sure I would have been good at it.  However, we moved away from the area before I had a chance to be discovered.

And that marked the end of my Irish Dancing days.

Speaking of Riverdance, I looked it up and was once again captivated! We're used to seeing it now but when it was first performed, it was so completely different to anything before it. It blew everyone away!

Have a watch of what was one of Ireland's two high points 

(The other one being that  moment in 1990 when Packie Bonnar saved the day-that was the happiest Ireland probably ever will be, though, like Gatsby, we didn't realise it at the time.  We were too busy having a street party that could be spotted from space)

Here's Riverdance:

When we moved to our new town, I was signed up for ballet lessons as soon as I was old enough to join my older sisters.  I had been smitten by the flowing dresses they had worn at a performance and was starry eyed at being allocated the part of a baby robin in the next show.

Unfortunately it transpired that my sisters weren't that interested in ballet and began another activity which was on at the same time.  In those days children did one out of school activity.

That was the end of my ballerina days.

But dance was in my not to be discouraged, some time later, another sister and I went to an open day of the now gone Digges Lane Dance Studio. It was a state of the art dance school. Our aim was to become masters of swing:

(Something like this:)

We joined one of the free sampler class and  were soon enthuiastically dancing barefoot to the strains of Reet Petite, when suddenly looking down, my sister noticed she was jiving in a pool of blood!  Somebody (clearly a worse dancer than us ) had inadvertently trod on her foot which was now spurting blood all over the highly polished professional dancefloor...which now looked something like this:
We left with embarrassed  haste.

And so ended my Swing days.

Well God loves a trier, so the next year I spotted a flyer for Latin & Ballroom Dance classes.  The day and time suited me perfectly...

Source: via Judy on Pinterest

The only problem was I had no boyfriend and none of my friends were too interested.  So I rang the number on the flier and told them I wanted to take the class but that I had no partner.

"Oh that's no problem at all, come along and there's always a partner to be found"

Armed with that reassurance I signed up...turned up...and no spare dancers to be found...

"Oh that's no problem" said the male dance instructor "You can be my partner...I need someone to demonstrate.."

So with stars in my eyes and dreams of my name in lights I enthusiastically joined the troupe.  All went well until the instructor needed to go around the other dancers checking on them.

"Oh that's no problem...just continue on..." 
He told me.

So I continued my latin moves, whirling and swirling keeping perfect time with my partner...air.

My humiliation was complete when a young married couple in the class who were near me felt sorry for me and asked me would I like to join a threesome.

And so ended my Latin Dance days.

But this story has a happy ending.  Last year my children got a gift of Wii 'Just Dance'.  All my dreams have come true.  And even if my teens see fit to close the curtains and beg me to stop whenever I turn on my favourite tune and if even if yet another sister laughed heartily at the sight...who cares???

Well anyway, do you know that Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected.  Time for all of us.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Before I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I have to admit, one of my favourite moments of the day is one of the last.  Getting into bed, clean from the shower, the lights dim, my feet relishing the coolness of the sheets and the weight of the day slipping of life's genuine little pleasures.  I sometimes remark to my husband how kind it was of God to think of making us require sleep, otherwise we'd just keep going...and going...and going...just like the Duracell rest in sight...

Falling asleep is another of the moments I anticipate with pleasure.  I usually have a plan of something interesting I'm going to think about in those moments.  When I was a new mother I read an article (you much of our life's wisdom comes from 'I read an article'??) about how worrying in bed is so detrimental to our peace of mind and our mental health and how Mothers in particular so easily fall into the trap of using what should be a restful time to think about all their problems because that may be the only time they stop 'activity'.  What results is that going to bed actually becomes the trigger for worry. A very difficult habit to break out of.  Reading that article I recognised the budding of that very thing in myself and from that moment on I made a huge effort to try and nip it in the bud.  I'm not saying I ever fully mastered the art of serene bedtime and many's the night over the years I have lain awake trying to slow my mind down.  However to recognise a danger is half the battle.

But even before nodding off and even before climbing in, I have discovered there are a few moments which, if used well, can actually be the most productive of the entire day.

Did you know Mark Twain did most of his writing in his BED?

I don't think there's one among us who doesn't relish the memory of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, whether from reading them by torchlight under the blankets in the forbidden hour, or from the myriad of movies and animated films.  Now I'm not suggesting you write an iconic novel in your bed, but I have a little suggestion which I have found invaluable ever since I was a child and my very wise mother imbued a lovely habit into her children. She taught it as a way for us to take ownership of our actions and to guide us in our friendship with God.  It's very easy for children to rattle off bedtime prayers almost as though they are nursery rhymes, but to teach them to ponder, to look at themselves and their little faith journey and to evaluate their day...that is a treasure which will always stay with them.  To the best of my knowledge, my siblings have maintained this custom in one form or another and are carrying on the tradition.

All of us, whether from a faith perspective or otherwise, can improve.  We find it so easy to notice the faults in everyone else...our spouse heading the pack and closely followed by our acquaintances...emm...strangers...and taking up the rear (if at all) ourselves!!
Yet we know that no manner of nagging, pointing out or suggesting on our part can change a single person (well, maybe our children, but you know what I mean).  The only person I can change with any real affect is ME. But how can I change if I have no faults and when it's everyone else who has the faults-they're the ones who need to improve??  

This is where my little suggestion comes in.  
Here's how it goes:

1.  Get yourself a pretty notebook. (or chic, or funky..whatever is your style) Well any notebook will do but I think if it's pretty and tactile we're more likely to keep up the habit. Have a look at for something special like this . Add a pretty pen if you like.

2.  Sit down for maybe two or three minutes and just think back on the day.  How did I work?  How did I treat those around me? My spouse? How did I spend that precious and unrepeatable time that I was given today? Was I thankful? And especially...what went well...what am I proud of? Can I do something better tomorrow, or do I need to scrap the whole day and start afresh? Did my God even cross my train of thought?

3.  Now write down a few little notes, little reminders and a small plan of something I can do better.  Here can I recommend just from my own experience...have this as something very small, otherwise nothing is surer than that it won't be done.  The days I plan that I'm going to be perfect tomorrow are usually the ones that fall flat on their face!!

You don't need to make these little scribblings legible to anyone else, write in code, or one word points, you're not writing a novel, you just want a few very short pointers. But to physically write them down all the same is so important.

4.  If you believe in God, now is the moment to say Thank You. Thank You for this insight, thank you for what I did well, Thank You for today.  And Sorry.  I'm sorry because You love me so much and I love You less. I'm sorry because I didn't notice all those moments You put in front of me today. And finally...HEY!! Tomorrow...Bring it on!!!

5.  If you don't believe in God...shur, why not do those things anyway...just in case???

All of this should literally take two or three minutes.  Next morning you'll be glad you wrote it down because you'll be amazed when you look at your notes and remember your little resolution...did I think that?? Wow!! Go Me!!

I'm telling you...just try this for a week. You'll be delighted how something so small can have such a big affect.

And now...Sweet Dreams. 

(and no worrying!! Do you hear me?)