Month: January 2016

Snow fun :-)

There was great excitement back at GGHQ a few days ago … snow!  This makes the entire family (well, the human ones certainly!) very, very happy … we went straight out for a snowy walk, making snow angels, throwing snowballs and a certain member of the family adopted a pet snowball which he carried around with him. 

Of course, snow means sledging so the next day we met up with some friends and spent the afternoon sledging.  All of us love sledging and it’s definitely a family event … there are races and competitions to see who can slide furthest after we reach the bottom of the hill … there are also competitions to see who can spin the most as they slide.  The end result is always a huge pile of wet soggy clothes and a stampede into the bathroom to get to the bath first but it’s great fun.  I’m still covered in bumps and bruises from our sledging fun but it’s definitely more than worth it.

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Today I’ve been reading about love modelling the way.  The focus of the Love Dare was on how the reader responds to the other parent and how that provides an example to our children.  I found it an easy read for me today … I’ve a great relationship with Mr GG and I think we make a great team.  He’s a good man and I couldn’t ask for a better husband for me or dad for our children.  However, I’m well aware that it’s not the case for everyone and I think that the book has handled it well … not everyone is in a situation where the other parent is a good example or even someone that should be around their children.

The aim today is that we respect (where possible) our spouse or the other parent … that we don’t criticise them in front of our children, that we realise how confusing it is to children to hear their parents speaking lovingly to them but then constantly fighting with and being critical of each other.  Mr GG and I have always been open with the boys … we generally get along really well, we don’t argue much but if we do disagree about something we don’t hide it.  We do take time to do things as a family, to laugh together and be silly together (something we’re quite good at).

So, today’s challenge is to speak to the Junior GGs about something encouraging and positive about their Dad … I’m tempted to say that I’ll have to think for a considerable time before completing the challenge but that just isn’t true (and I’m only saying it to keep Mr GG humble) … there are no end of ways that I can praise Mr GG to the boys, I can remind them how he helped them build a go-kart, how he helps them with their maths homework (which I just can’t do),  how he plays games with them, reads with them, how he’s always there when they need him, how he loves them so very much and, most of all, how he’ll always do his very best to be the best Dad he possibly can be.  I’m not the only blessed person in this house.

Catching up

I hope I’m not alone in finding the transition from holiday to term-time a strange one.  It takes me a few days to get back into my routine and used to the boys not being around.  We’re now into our second full week after the holidays and I’m well on the countdown to the next ones … 17 more school mornings to go!

After a shaky start the boys are all now settled into school (more like resigned to it in some cases!) … they’re happy that activities have started again like Boys’ Brigade, swimming and piano lessons.  The downside is that Friday evening mayhem has started once again … three boys, one in each section of the BB all finishing at different times … Mr GG & I are something of a tag team on Friday evenings!  Still, they all love going so who can complain!

It’s almost two weeks since I last blogged about the Love Dare so I’m going to cheat a little … I’m posting about two days at once rather than two separate posts.

So, I’ve reached Days 16 and 17 … the halfway mark is approaching and the subject for the two days are “Love respects God” and “Love seeks God’s blessing”. 

As a Christian parent I seek to be a good example to the boys, to teach them about God and my greatest desire for them is that they grow up loving God.  I honestly don’t care if my sons grow up to be doctors or astronauts or cars (yes, that was the ambition of a Junior GG at one time), it doesn’t matter to me if they grow up to work in the Lego factory or Legoland or move to Japan (oh boy, I’d miss them though) … all that I truly hope for them is that they grow up to be men of God, to put him first in their lives and to work for his glory.

In Day 16 we’re guided to a verse in Proverbs which says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”.  I love that, it’s something that the boys and I have discussed at times … what does it mean to fear God?  All three of the GG boys have come up with some good answers to this but my favourites are these … when we fear something we’re careful how we approach it, we’re a little scared but we’re also intrigued, we don’t go crashing about but take our time and try to learn more.  It’s incredibly difficult for a child to learn about fearing God … especially when, as a parent, I’m encouraging them to speak to God and to know that they can tell him anything.  To be fair, even as an adult, one who was brought up in a Christian home, one who’s been a Christian for well over 25 years it’s hard to get my head around.

The challenge for Day 16 was to read Psalm 139 to my boys and talk about it with them … we approached this challenge over pizza one evening … some of our best discussions are at meal-times.  The boys all had plenty to say and we all learned something … I love how much my wee lads are teaching me, I learn so much more from them than I can ever hope to teach them.

Day 17 was another subject that I love … seeking God’s blessing.  I can honestly say that I pray God’s blessing on each of the Junior GGs every single day (and for Mr GG too), I give thanks for them (all four) every day and pray that God will protect them and help them in whatever they have to do.  The verses the reading focussed on were the Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5.  The dare/challenge for the day focussed on me … is my lifestyle inviting or repelling God’s blessing on my family … wow!  The life of a parent is an example to their children … it’s up to us, as parents, to live as we want our children too … it’s fairly daunting though isn’t it!  So, in addition to praying for the Junior GGs and Mr GG I pray for myself too … that I’ll be a good example, that I’ll show Jesus through how I act and respond to people … and I’m all too aware of how often I fail.  I’m thankful that I’m a work in progress, that my children love me no matter my failings and that God sees the potential in me and doesn’t give up.

Blessed indeed 🙂

Remembrance

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not really that great with dates.  I don’t mean dates as in mother/son dates, or father/daughter dates (I love a day out with “The Old Boy”), nor dates as in dates with Mr GG but dates as in remembering birthdays or anniversaries.  However, there is one date that sticks firmly in my mind … 10 January 2002.  That was the day that the first of our babies was born straight into heaven.  I can’t remember with total accuracy the dates that any of our other babies went to heaven, I remember the emotional and physical pain but not the actual dates. 

For me the dates aren’t important, but I will never forget each of those little lives, little people that I never got to meet, personalities that I didn’t get to know, I don’t even know if those little people are boys or girls … but they are my children.  They’re as much part of me as my amazing GG boys are. 

Just as Granny is very much an important part of the lives of our boys (although none of them ever met her), our four unknown (to us) children are part of our family … the Junior GGs talk about them from time to time, asking questions or pondering what life would have been like with seven children jumping around (I feel slightly overwhelmed at that thought … I’d definitely be much more grey!).

Every year on 10th January I feel a pang as I remember my unknown children.  I often have a little cry as I give thanks that my four children will never face the heartaches that the GG boys will have to face … they won’t be at risk of bullying, or heartbreak over a first love, they won’t be ill or get hurt when they run too fast and trip over their feet.  I miss them though. 

On this day each year I grieve the memory of my babies, I wonder what life would have been like had they lived.  I don’t regret having any of my children, not for a minute.  Experiencing the pain of losing a baby has changed me, made me more compassionate (I hope) and made me more determined to make the most of the privilege I have of being a parent at all.  I often feel miffed that the excitement of pregnancy was taken from me … after the first time, the feeling of seeing a positive pregnancy result was apprehension rather than anticipation … fear at the potential pain of losing another baby but, at the same time, a little voice telling me that this one might make it!  Talk about mixed emotions.

I’m sad today, sad but also content if that makes sense.  I’ve been blessed with seven children and give thanks every day for the three that I get to spend my life with.  However, most years on 10th January I hide away at some point … this year I’ll be shutting the curtains early and snuggling on the sofa for a movie night with the GG boys who are never slow to give me a hug when I need one like I do today … blessed indeed.

 

It must be love …

It’s a gloomy day in GGHQ … the holidays have ended and the Junior GGs are back to school.  For one boy in particular this is a day he has been worrying about since the last day of term.  I find it heartbreaking (as would any parent) to see him so anxious and worried … my scampering, feisty, lovable, giggling, chatty boy retreats into his shell as we get nearer to school each day and doesn’t really appear again until he gets back to the safety of home.  I find it sad that his teachers don’t really see the real boy … he doesn’t misbehave in school, he sits quietly and does his work which is great … but they’re missing out on the character that we have the privilege of knowing at home. 

As a parent I don’t believe I’m alone in questioning decisions and doubting myself at times … when the boys were little I often thought I would love to home-school them.  For a number of reasons Mr GG and I decided not to go down the home-school route, not least because of the social difficulties our children have … we felt that there was a danger they could become more isolated and even less able to interact socially.  Were we right?  I honestly don’t know.  Watching my lad struggle more at school as each year passes I question our decision.  I miss the boys dreadfully when they go back to school after holidays … that first day I always feel at a loose end and as if something is missing (it is … three rambunctious, noisy, crashing boys) … the house is too quiet (although today Mr GG is working from home which helps) … I’m constantly clock-watching until I go to collect the youngest two (only 38 minutes to go).

However, on the positive side, for me at least, I’m able to concentrate once more on the Love Dare.  The book had been set aside during the holidays so that I could fully concentrate on GG Family Time … and I wasn’t disappointed!

Today’s subject is love.  It’s an interesting subject isn’t it … love manifests itself in so many ways … I feel love towards my friends which is totally different to the love I feel for Mr GG which, again, is totally different for the love I feel for each of the Junior GGs. 

I well remember feeling a bit panicky at times just before Son No1 was born and worrying that I wouldn’t be able to love a child (I’m a bit of a worrier, just like my lad).  I also clearly remember the first time I saw him … I wasn’t overwhelmed with a feeling of love but rather a feeling of “So, who are you then?” as I looked at him.  Quite possibly the drugs that I’d been fed at the birth had an impact on me because I was really quite numb (and exhausted) but there is certainly no doubt that the love I feel now for Son No1 and Sons No2&3 is absolutely overwhelming and real.  Not so long ago I was reading about Jacob & Esau with the boys and we were talking about how Jacob was Rachel’s favourite son, I (slightly foolishly) asked the boys which one of them I loved most … I was heartened that they all immediately replied “None, you love us all the same” … phew!

Anyway, back to the love we have as parents for our children.  It’s immense!  I can’t imagine anyone loving my boys the way I do … feeling that rush of protection for them … hurting when they hurt … bursting with pride over the slightest thing they do … crying inside when I realise how much the world can hurt them … desiring only good for them … striving to teach them well … melting when they’ve had a horrendously naughty day but look so angelic when they’re sleeping … I could go on …

Yet, the Bible tells me that God loves them even more than me.  The Bible also tells me that God knows my boys better than I do and desires good for them even more than I do … I have to say that blows my mind and fries my wee brain … and makes me thankful. 

I’d like to quote today’s Dare in full … I love it:

“If possible, remind your children today that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and that he deeply loves them.  Pray with them that they will always know they can call on him as their loving, heavenly Father and pray for yourself, that God will help you receive his love for you and make you a channel of his love to your children (John 15:9).”  (Stephen & Alex Kendrick, The Love Dare for Parents, B & H Publishing Group, p74)

I began by mentioning the worries my son has about school.  His worries aren’t only limited to school … anything can cause him anxiety, the list grows, it seems, with every passing day.  One thing works with my lad.  Prayer.  When he is feeling anxious he likes us to pray with him, reminding him that God is with him, that God is always there for him to talk to.  Recently he has mentioned a few times that he doesn’t have any friends but then when I ask if he’d like friends he replies “No, it’s fine.  Jesus is my friend and he’s my best friend.”  I’d love my boy to have peer-friends and it hurts me to see him walking around the playground at school on his own but I’m learning that he’s content as he is.  I’ll never stop praying for my boys, I thank God for them every day and give thanks for the amazing family that I’m part of. 

Now, the 38 minutes have all but passed and it’s time to get my coat on and brave the rain to do the school run … in just a few minutes my home will be filled with noise once more … what could be better …

New Beginnings

And another year has flown past … just like that …

Looking back over the year I’ve much to be thankful for … Mr GG’s health has continued to improve and I’m so grateful for him, for his patience, love, crazy sense of humour and strength of character … Son No1 transitioned from primary to secondary education with relative ease (unlike his parents who were totally traumatised) … Son No2 has continued to delight and challenge with his quirky personality … Son No3 has made me smile with his cuteness and made me tear my hair out with his stubborn-ness!  Yes, I am truly blessed indeed.  I’m surrounded by a family that loves me so very much, I’m surrounded by friends (old and new) who make me smile, care for me and listen when I ramble on and I’m part of a great church where I’m being fed spiritually and growing in my faith.  What more could I ask for?

Christmas was different for the GG family this year … originally we planned to hide away, just the five of us, in a beautiful wee flat overlooking a harbour by the Cumbrian coast.  Unfortunately the weather conspired against us and, at the last minute, we decided to make the sensible choice and stay at home.  We kept to our plan of a quiet, understated Christmas with no huge traditional Christmas dinner … it worked!  The boys coped amazingly well with no stress and, apart from going to church in the morning we stayed at home all day playing with new toys and games (Trivial Pursuit got slightly over competitive!).

The whole festive season was successful this year … with trips to the zoo and trips to visit friends for pizza and a movie, we kept things low key and all three boys have said that it was “the best Christmas ever” (to be fair, they say that nearly every year but it’s always good to hear!).

So a new year has begun and with it a resolution!  I’m not really one for seriously making resolutions but this year sees a new me … I’ve resolved … wait for it … to learn how to properly play at least one of the boys’ Mario games!  I can play Mariokart and that’s my limit, I don’t understand the other ones at all and even with the boys (im)patiently yelling “Just press it” or “Shake the remote” I’ve no idea what I’m doing.  So, I’m planning to sit down once the boys are back at school and try to work it out once and for all.

Who knows what the year holds for any of us but I’m excited to see what opportunities open up for the GG family.  Thank you to those of you who’ve borne with my attempts at blogging and encouraged me to continue … the Love Dare will be starting again very shortly but, in the meantime, I’m still practising 🙂

And for now … Happy New Year, may 2016 be full of many happy memory making moments!