The Reader & The Artist: A Tale Of Two Brothers

The Reader & The Artist: A Tale Of Two Brothers

One of the many things I enjoy about being a mother is appreciating not just the similarities but also the differences in my children especially as they get older. Especially seeing how my 2 sons are growing, my baby girl has only just had her first birthday so her interests seem to be chewing on things, making a mess and following her brothers around.

Jason reading

Jason is very empathetic, sensitive and annoyingly enough has his dad’s sense of humor. He also seems to have inherited my love for books. He is an avid reader and though he’s only had his sixth birthday a few months ago is capable of reading at about an 8 year old level. Because of his reading capabilities I have trouble finding appropriate books for his age and skill level, as some books that are written for children at least 8 years old have content that is not suitable for a 6 year old.

A few months ago now I asked him if he wanted to read Cory Jane’s book “Winging It” not expecting anything – however he read it with only a little bit of difficulty. The books I have found best for to test his reading limits are non-fiction books about some of his favorite topics – especially books that are rugby related as Jason does not only love reading he also loves rugby and can retain simple player stats that I find difficult. When it comes to specific information his mind is like a steel trap; yet when it comes to instruction from his dad or I, it seems that his mind is like a sieve.

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Alex likes to copy his big brother and often will show an interest in what Jason likes, yet there are some things that he doesn’t like to the same extent. Alex enjoys doing puzzles and is quite good at them; he’s not so good at looking after the pieces. At 18 months old Alex was able to complete puzzles that 2 year olds would find difficult. Alex is also the type of boy who likes to try new things and when he was around 3 years old accompanied his Uncle on a hunt, he sometimes seems to have no fear. Alex can also be very strong-willed (aka stubborn) and if he doesn’t want to do something then sometimes as parents we need to have a stronger will and not back down.

The hardest thing for Alex is when he wants a book that Jason has yet is nowhere the reading capability of Jason and I’m not keen on reading a chapter book to Alex.

Another way in which my boys are different is that Jason likes to write and Alex likes to draw; Alex also likes to be read to and a lot of the time it’s his big brother that reads to him.

The boys can sit through a whole movie if it’s something they want to watch. Alex however finds certain movies not as scary as Jason finds them. They love being outdoors riding their bikes and scooters though it seems that Jason does enjoy it more, though is hesitant about trying new things.

The boys are 20 months apart and come from the same gene pool yet their personalities and interest can be vastly different which is why my hope for Alex when he starts school is that he will not be compared to his big brother and there be a expectation that his abilities be at the same level as Jason’s were when he started school.

I am sure that whatever my children do in their life they will excel at different things and that is okay. If my boys had the same personalities and interest there would be little opportunity to grow as parent. As it is in their differences where some of the growth comes.

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Without Family, Life is Mission: Impossible

Without Family, Life is Mission: Impossible

Family 3Life has felt so hard lately but it would have been Mission: Impossible without the help and support of family and friends, with some of those friends being just as important as family.  Family doesn’t need to be defined by those that are related ever by blood or marriage but family can also be friends who are by your side through thick and thin.

Whatever the definition, family plays an important role in all our lives. Family gives us a sense of belonging; they can be a refuge and a support system. Children need a sense of belonging to help them to grow.

Without knowing where we belong, how can we feel secure in going forward on our life journey and know we have roots to secure us. In my opinion if children are deprived of a sense of belonging from a young age then there is a possibility they will look for it elsewhere and it may be in places or with people they may not be good for them.

Family 4One of the places I have found family outside of my relatives is at church. The tells about how we are brothers and sisters in Christ; there are times when that is true however as it is with people there are times when that idea is just that and though people may call each other sister/brother it is superficial or disingenuous, this happens when it is religious rhetoric and not heartfelt. Words unless lived are just words and often family in church needs to come from the heart and not from the head. Some people may not truly understand the meaning of family and so say or act the part but when it comes down to the core of things and they need to give of themselves there is hesitation or resistance.

Life isn’t easy and relationships do take work because if they didn’t relationships/friendships wouldn’t grow. Family in many cases allows us to grow and at times is a safety net for us to venture out knowing someone’s there to help us or to “catch” us if we fall.

If we have no Family around that’s when friends can fill that place, even if we have Family however if they are not there for us is another time when having friends is great. Sometimes Family can put unattainable expectations on family and in those cases sometimes letting family go is the best thing for us. Family shouldn’t be the ones to drag each other down but to embrace no matter what; there will be those times when family members might need to dissuade us from a decision that is detrimental but in the end the choice is ours and it is great when family are there to pick us up.

 

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Riding The Storm – Until the Sun Comes Out

Riding The Storm – Until the Sun Comes Out

wedding-dayRob and I have been married for almost 9 years and in that time there has been many medical dramas because of the epilepsy that Rob was diagnosed with at age 6. Well last week we had another medical incident; it was serious enough that an ambulance had to be called. Rob having seizures has sometimes been a part of our daily routine and normally I know how to deal with it and stay calm at the same time; however last week was something I don’t think I’ve had to deal with in all the time we’ve been married and I actually went into panic mode.

In the days leading up to the incident, Rob had realized that he had missed a dose or 2 of his medication and would try to make up for it which would have been fine with most of the medication he’s on but one particular one just increased the level in his system and the level rose to a dangerous level. The amount of this medication in his system put him in an almost comatose state and it took the medical personnel about 6 hours to have him more alert and responsive.

On this day I felt torn between being with my husband or being there for our younger children who were at home, fortunately a friend who lives in our vicinity was passing by and when she saw the ambulance she came in and took over with the children as I was in no state to make decisions. My sister-in-law had arrived earlier and taken over with dealing with Rob and was the one who told me to call the ambulance. She was also willing to pick up our eldest boy from school if need be and had taken the initiative to phone the school to let our boy know that she was picking him up. Though by school pick-up time I was in a calmer state and able to pick him up myself while my friend looked after the younger two kids at her place.

engagement-dayEpilepsy has made life hard for Rob, because unless you see him have a full-on seizure or know about the epilepsy you wouldn’t know it affects him, this has led to some well-meaning but misplaced comments. I’ve had people comment asking why he can’t work “as they know people who have epilepsy and work” more often than not these people don’t realize the extent of the epilepsy.  In Rob’s case it’s not something you can understand by reading a text book or comparing it to others, as very few people in New Zealand have it as bad as him. We’ve even had some medical personnel try to treat him like any other epileptic which has not helped. Rob seems to know more about his condition than most doctors he has come across.

In my opinion, one of the hardest things for him is the fact that for the meantime having a job/career is not on the cards for him and that out of necessity he is required to rely on others for transportation. There are times when I can’t leave our kids with him as he’s in no state to watch them and be responsible for them and when that happens he feels hurt; not being able to leave them with him can also be an inconvenience for me yet that it is sometimes the way things play out. Rob probably feels at times that he’s not living up to society’s expectation of men and that makes it hard on him as well.

There have been times when people have made snap judgments concerning his intelligence because his speech can seem slow due to a stroke on the operating table at age 11. However he is very intelligent and if someone actually had a proper conversation with him they would come to that realisation.

Many married couples have their rough patches and sometimes it feels like we go through more than most; and if I’m honest there are times when I feel like ending our marriage but then those storms past and the sun comes out (until the next storm). It’s the good times and loving moments that make it worthwhile because no matter how bad things seem at times I often just have to ride the storm and hold on until the sun comes out which can be easier said than done, but I choose everyday to hold on and wait for the storm to pass as it always does

.Tara & Rob

Words Matter – Let Positivity Reign

Words Matter – Let Positivity Reign

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Compliments have always been difficult for me to accept especially in my teen years when my self-esteem was very low. If someone complimented me I would shrug it off or actually disagree with the compliment. It got to a point that I would get compliments that seemed to come from a person with an ulterior motive that I myself would seldom compliment others for fear they would think it came with an ulterior motive.

Even today accepting compliments is still a working progress in my life; not just accepting compliments but also gratitude from complimenting someone. I can be my own worst enemy and second-guess myself by worrying about what someone else’s opinion of me. I don’t know if the second-guessing comes from low self-esteem, anxiety or a mixture of both.

Some of my late night musings have been along the lines of maybe if you don’t accept a compliment or you try to downplay it, you possibly could hurt the other person’s feelings and make them feel like you’re ungrateful and you actually make them feel bad. When you accept a compliment in a gracious manner you are allowing positivity to spread and encourage compliments to be given – not just to you but to others as well. Complimenting someone without an ulterior motive should be readily given and received. If no-one gave compliments then that would allow negativity to run rampant.

Compliments should come without strings or expectations; I suppose that unfortunately there are people out there that compliment with ulterior motives but I would hope that it’s not the norm and that the majority of people give honest and true compliments. What would the world come to if we always put ourselves first and that there were strings attached to every word and deed?

A compliment has the power to lift someone up when they feel down, compliments can be a way of letting someone know that they matter, that what they do is noticed and appreciated.

Actions do sometimes speak louder than words; yet even better are when both are in correlation with each other without an ulterior motive being present, maybe complimenting someone brings a blessing to the giver but that shouldn’t be the reason the compliment is given in the first place and that blessing should just be the cherry on top.

Selfless words and deeds need to abound in everyday life and allow them to be an example to future generations, to counteract the rise of bullying we need to fill the “buckets” of those around us with positive words and actions.

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Social Media – A World of Strangers

Social Media – A World of Strangers

Social Media plays a big part in today’s society connecting people around the world, making the world seem smaller, on the other hand it seems that certain things can get a bit out of control which leads me to the topic of bullying on Social Media

Bullying on social media seems to be quite prevalent these days. Why is it that some people think that they can say whatever they want to other people on Social Media, without thinking about the impact of what they say.

I know I have written a blog about the topic of bullying on Social Media but I believe that the more we speak out about it, there’s a greater chance that it might stick with people that bullying – even on Social Media is wrong. Just because a person may not physically be in front of us doesn’t give anyone the right to say to another person whatever they want without consideration of that person.

I’m on Snapchat a bit and it seems that lately I’ve been hearing a bit from certain “high profile” social media personalities about what they are being subjected to and I’m actually a bit relieved that my “following” has nowhere near the numbers of those that “follow” them. For if I was subjected to some of the comments that are thrown their way, I’m not sure if I could cope so huge props to them they are keeping up with their social media presence, when it could be easier to just throw in the towel.

Just because you may follow a person on social media and in cases like Snapchat know a bit about their life doesn’t mean you know them. Relationships can be built via social media but if there hasn’t been true give and take, positive connections, then all we are – are strangers. Would you want a stranger to just randomly come up to you on the street and say something to you because they disagree with something you are doing; that’s what is going on it seems when bullying is taking place on Social Media. Its often excused by the idea “I was just giving my opinion” Don’t get me wrong sometimes an opinion can be helpful. However, when it puts someone down then its not so helpful, and didn’t need to be shared.

A person may not think they are bullying but maybe before commenting on a post/snap we think these things:

  • How could it affect the other person
  • Would I want it said to me, if I was in that person’s shoes
  • What is the reason behind the comment, and
  • Would I say it to the person’s face

Within social media, tone of voice is not easily portrayed, and often we need to think before we press “send”. There could be times when the comment is innocent yet someone could interpret it wrong, in that case we should be able to explain/apologise if need be. If someone posts something that’s not specifically aimed at anyone, yet someone takes offense then it might not be the original posters intent and if so, that poster shouldn’t need to apologise, an explanation might do if that’s what the original poster wants to do.

This is not a cookie cutter world and people are different so will act/say/do things differently to others and just because a person may reach out and ask for an opinion we can at least be nice about it and not have the other person feel attacked. If a comment you want to post is not positive or at least neutral then scroll on down without comment. Just because you may disagree with a post doesn’t mean you need to comment.

If you do make nasty comments and the other person responds to it in a way which makes you feel attacked, either ignore it and move on or privately message the person and ask them why they responded that way

Life is hard enough without us tearing down one another. There’s enough negativity and bullying in this world without people adding to it via social media.

When Childhood Is A Struggle

When Childhood Is A Struggle

Coming from a broken family my childhood was anything but carefree, there were some fun times and carefree times but it wasn’t a constant. As a child I guess I felt confused about why my parents fought, I mean at the time I probably thought that only children fight, it was just a part of having siblings. Now as a parent myself I understand that everyone argues; sometimes it means that love has gone but other times it’s just a clash of differing expectations/opinions. When differing personalities are joined, there are sure to be disagreements just as there would be in area of life.

As a mother I try my best to give my children a stress-free childhood however due to situations beyond my control I’m not sure how feasible it is for my children to have a completely stress-free childhood. I love my children beyond the beyonds and would give my life to protect them; unfortunately life itself is not carefree. With my husband, their dad, having epilepsy they are learning about compassion for others and that not everyone is “normal”. For my kids living with someone who has epilepsy will give them an experience of people with epilepsy more than what their peers may experience.

I myself have to deal with anxiety issues and try my best to protect my children when the anxiety overwhelms me as I want my children to be children as long as possible. I don’t want my children to grow up too fast as I did. It’s not fair on children to put adult problems on their little shoulders, for our littlies to worry about us adults when being a child in the 21st century can be difficult enough

Children that grow up in households that are far from stress-free may grow in ways that other children with easier lives may not. Though of course this is all relative, having a stressful childhood can also have detrimental effects on some children, I think a lot is determined on the personality of the child and whether that child can break through the negativity that he/she has had to live with. Some children may build “walls” to protect themselves and never know to break through, yet others may build “walls” but eventually allow the “walls” to weaken.

Everyone has different experiences as children and often that may determine how we are as adults, then again there are times when adults need to adapt to the world around them and if they can’t, they may find that life is more stressful than life is for others.

Music Soothes The Beast

Music Soothes The Beast

Within music there are many different genres and sub-genres that appeal to different people, people from all different walks of life, there are those that are into hard rock, some that like classical and some that like pop music. There are probably those that like all genres. My preferred genres of music would most likely be contemporary country and pop; my husband on the other hand likes rock.

These genres do have a more melodic rhythm and when I’m feeling down it helps me as often it calms my anxious thoughts and helps me to think clearer. When even the positive and uplifting words of friends can be shrugged off, this genre of music speaks to my very soul. When I can’t find the words to express how I’m feeling certain songs express it for me.

However, when my temper gets the better of me and I need to release some anger I go for a drive with music by Pink blaring and that’s like a release valve and eventually my anger cools down. My favourite Christian artists would have to be Amy Grant and Twila Paris for when I need that softer touch. Amy Grant’s song “Don’t Try So Hard” is my favourite song at the moment as it is a reminder that God’s grace can’t be earned as it is freely given. There are also songs that I like to play when I’m missing my baby girl that we lost like Eric Clapton’s song “Tears In Heaven”, and it allows me to feel what I might otherwise keep pushed down.

I’m not a good singer but I love to sing along to songs that express how I feel but can’t get the words out myself, often I sing in the car or when I’m just around Hubby and the kids. When I was a kid I had another kid say to me “You know you can’t sing” which at the time was very hurtful and actually stopped me from singing at all for many years; but as I loved music too much in time I decided to not allow those careless words to stop me from doing something I love.

Music has always been like a security blanket for me. When I listen to music and sing along it opens me up more than anything else, I like to sit down and get lost in a good book but music is the one thing that helps keep negative thoughts at bay, or at least allows them to flow safely away without affecting my life.