Friday, 28 August 2015

Tea By The Sea and Other Stories

Pip completed her second swim intensive for the summer and the challenge was deep water confidence, she did very well and swims like a fish :-)  I have also set myself a challenge and that is to overcome my lack of confidence in the water and so I begin an improvers' class next Wednesday!

Pip has been ploughing through the read, write inc phonics books and has now finished set two and is moving on to the third set.  She also completed an assessment for Singapore Maths.  The test consisted of twenty questions incorporating a variety of mathematical concepts, number bonds, addition, subtraction, word puzzles, shape, size and sequencing.  The test was split into two parts with a significant rest break in between.

 The level of difficulty increased as the test progressed.

 Funny stories with Quentin Blake style illustrations.

Whilst Benedict was at the gym with Shein this morning, Pip enjoyed some quiet time with me and chose an interesting set of stories for her quiet time:

A real family favourite!
As a reward for all their efforts ( Ben sat his math assessment when he came home) we decided to buy fish and chips for tea and eat them at the seaside:
 Making the most of the sunshine.

 Tastes much better in the fresh air and a bonus for the parents no washing up!


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Roasted Chick Peas :: Visitors :: Retinal Scan

I saw this recipe on Frugal Queen 

Really simple and tasty roasted chick peas ~ drain and rinse a can of chick peas, place in a bowl and add a glug of olive oil, a good helping of black pepper, a sprinkling of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of medium strength curry powder.  Great as an addition to a salad meal but these would make an alternative healthy snack option to crisps.

Kathryn and Mary Grace visited for the day and as always their visit was a welcome change from the usual house related chores:

 Get ready now ...

... and blow!

Benedict overcame his nerves and went for his retinal scan today.  He is very wary of new procedures and quite rightly so, since he has had all manner of unwelcome tests as a result of the diabetes.  This test will now be performed yearly so that any changes in his eyes can be identified and acted upon:

 "Mum!  Not snapping again!"

 He did a great job keeping still, let's hope that the results are good.  I think they should be since his bloods although not always within target range have been reasonably stable.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Well Rested

Dave and I were away from Friday to Sunday of last week, our first time without children in over twelve years!  Benedict stopped with Sara and Tom and Pip stayed with some friends and their kids.

The reason for the jaunt was an early birthday treat for Dave, who'll be 50 on the 27th September.  Initially I had hoped to take him to Paris (ever the blue sky thinker!) but a jolt with reality brought me back to earth!  We decided on a visit to a steam railway, anything train related and he is one happy chappy.  

Here are the highlights from our stay:

 Our view from the upstairs lounge.

 Quietly Knitting.

 Wider view of the lounge/kitchen area.

 Dave's secret weapon for eradicating the horse fly,(of which there were a fair few since we were staying on a working farm) was a A Henry Vacuum Cleaner  the blighters bit and drew blood but thankfully we did not suffer any horrendous infections!

 If you have ever seen the original "Karate Kid" film then you will know what I am doing!

On Saturday we visited the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, the last time we were here, Pip was but a toddler! We had a lovely time watching the engines and sharing some cake and a hot chocolate and I was pleased to capture these images for Dave:

 The weekend was also a no cook weekend for me, hooray!!  I bought a reduced price Indian takeaway from Tesco for the Friday evening at the knock down price of £5.00!  The meal for Saturday evening was ready made cheese and bacon baked potatoes with a large bowl of salad, we even stretched to a glass of wine with our meal!

We are now back to the grindstone and I am currently repainting some of the chipped paintwork in the downstairs hallway which being a main thoroughfare takes a real battering!  The door frames have been stripped down to almost bare wood and have been sanded, ready for undercoating and glossing tomorrow.  The small entryway/porch was painted last week and so I don't feel to ashamed now when visitors pop by.

I have also downloaded a year eight curriculum for Benedict encompassing history, geography and science.  He's chosen his own ICT project and in case you are wondering where does the maths and english fit in, they'll be rumbling along quietly in the background :-)  Living with and attempting to support a kid with special educational needs has not only taught me to think on my feet, but to also think outside the box.  His core subjects of history, geography, ICT and science can be "taught" in a very practical way with little to no writing, which is great for a kid with dyspraxia! Let's see if I can get beyond the first week without either him or me having an epic meltdown :-)

Friday, 7 August 2015


"Judge not, that ye be not judged"

Matthew 7v1

I heard her long before I saw her, remonstrating to her four year old about not moving quickly enough.  The rain that had once begun as a few drops settled as a steady drizzle.  It was not the only water that flowed as the child's wailing reverberated in the pedestrian area.  Passers by skirted around her as the tirade continued and my heart felt heavy; a mixture of sympathy for the mother, empathy for the child and embarrassment for myself at witnessing such a scene.

A few steps farther and I encountered a group of locals ordering burgers from a trailer, complaining about some dispute with a friend, a lack of money and in true British fashion the state of the weather!  By now they were soaked to the skin and I narrowly missed being splattered by the dog in their midst.  My heart at this point was closed and I was about to pass judgement on them all; the mother for causing such a scene and the group for being in my way.

No sooner had these thoughts entered my head, I remembered the heated words spoken to my children that very morning, the shouting, the put downs and the hurtful words.  Making a scene in public might not be socially acceptable but at least "what you see is what you get."  It is all too easy to portray an outward persona of respectability and then once the doors are shut behave differently.

I thank God that such exchanges within our home are not a frequent occurrence and for the most part we work together as best we can.  The children understand the value of teamwork and know deep down they are loved and appreciated.  When there is discord neither adult nor child are afraid to admit their mistakes.  "Sorry" is such a small word with a great deal of meaning and with that too comes the willingness to forgive another their wrong doing, not just once, not just seven times but over and over.  Jesus challenges us to turn the other cheek but not without the assurance of His strength.  After all how could those affected by heinous crimes find the grace to love their enemy and move on from the past?

I am a "work in progress" a useful Face Book status if ever there was one!  I am eternally grateful that God is not done with me yet, that His mercies are new every morning and that little by little, He is teaching me to be a better person.

Pray ~ Thank you Lord for taking my sins upon yourself and nailing them to the cross at Calvary.  Thank you that I am able to seek forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation and that you always welcome me with open arms and a loving heart.  Thank you for so much love.

Act ~ If you are struggling with forgiveness share your heart with your pastor, spiritual advisor or close friend.

Write out the pain and anger and then burn or tear the paper into tiny pieces.

Remember that forgiveness is an act of the will and is a daily commitment done with God's grace.

Above all you are not alone x 

Sorry not to have been in this space lately but God is calling me to write and so I am writing every day.  It is as yet unclear whether I will attempt to submit my work to a catholic periodical, share it here or amalgamate my ramblings into a book :-)  So for now I am showing up at the appointed time and being faithful to His call.

I have continued to take pictures of the kids and will share these in an end of week round up this weekend.

Thanks for reading x  

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Cross

The stamping of feet in my head increases steadily as does the screaming voice, "But I don't want to!"

I don't want to carry this cross anymore,
I want to hand it back,
I have had enough.

It's not what I would have chosen anyway,
God got it wrong,
Does He really know what He is doing?!

These thoughts have tormented me today.

  Just for today I cannot see the sense in the suffering and I really do question my place here on earth.  Did I really come into being just for the sole purpose of being a sick person, an unpaid carer and a voice crying in the wilderness?

The frustration rankles me and what peace there may have been at the beginning of the day, has for sure waned by the day's end.

Then in the silence of the writing these words won't let me go:


Be still and know:

That I am God.
That I love you.
That My Son gave His life for you.
That all is not lost.
That I see your pain.
That I am with you every moment of every day.
That in your darkest moments I Am The Light.
That nothing is wasted.
That I make all things new.
That all will be revealed.
That there is an answer to your why?

Keep hoping, keep trusting and keep your eyes on ME.

Your loving Father in Heaven x 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Easy Elderberry Jam

We have a freezer draw full of these delectable jewels and given the fact that, our redcurrants are ready to harvest, a jam making session was long overdue!  

Elderberry Jam


Elderberries washed but not de-stalked


Jam Thermometer

Large Crock pot

Clean Jars

1.  Place the washed jars onto a baking tray and bake at 100C.  Once the oven is up to temperature bake for half an hour to sterilize.

2.  Place the jam lids in a pan of boiling water and boil on a stove top until needed.

3.  Place the washed berries in a crock pot, add a little water to prevent sticking to the base and cook on a medium heat until the berries have softened and burst.

4.  Once the mixture has cooled, place a fine mesh sieve over a mixing bowl and slowly tip the berry mixture into the sieve.  Using the back of a metal spoon press the mixture to release as much juice as possible.

5.  Once the mixture has been strained, place the crock pot onto some weighing scales so that the liquid can be measured as it is tipped in.  The amount of sugar needed is 75% of the liquid weight.

6.  Place the liquid onto the hob and heat slowly.  Whilst the liquid is heating, warm the correct amount of sugar on a low setting in the microwave.  This will make it easier to dissolve.

7.  Once the sugar has warmed, add to the elderberry liquid and turn up the heat to a rolling boil.  Use the thermometer to check the temperature and once 102C has been reached, stir continuously for a period of 8-10 minutes.

8.  Don't worry about skimming off the scum, should any form add a tiny piece of butter at the end of the cooking time and the scum will disperse.

9.  Let the liquid cool for 15 minutes and then tip into the sterilised jars.

Naturally home made jam calls for a home made treat and so when my friend Debbie called on Sunday, we enjoyed a different Sunday Gathering snack and an afternoon tea was the order of the day!  This gal is my stalwart friend and  it was nice to present her with a well deserved gift at the end of her second year at University.

 Even Peter Rabbit joined in the fun!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

From The Margins

 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1 v 12

Some folk write in the margins of time and others live in the margins, whether that be through homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment or disability.  Living in the margins is a hard and often times lonely road which can be made worse by "seeing" others live a charmed existence; one only has to scroll through a Facebook feed or scour a Pinterest board for such evidence.

Living in the margins is an SAS training ground for those willing to accept a challenge and the "green beret" is in fact the crown and eternal prize talked about in the book of James.  We are running the race set out before us and it is a one man competition!  Each track is pertinent to one individual only and so their is little gain in looking left or right or even over your shoulder! It is a case of keep your head down and keep going!

Even if it is impossible to find your tribe within your own physical community, the internet has made the world a smaller place and through careful consideration real friendships can be forged and sustained across the miles.

In an ideal world I would share a cup of tea with my friend Sue after having had an early morning walk in the Australian Bush.  We would chat about self directed learning and she would reassure me not to worry about Benedict and that everything will turn out OK.

With a hop, skip and a very big jump I would land in Houghton, New York State just in time for lunch with my dear friend Eva!  We would chat about life in general and if her husband Peter were home from campus I am sure he would keep us entertained with his sense of humour!  The family Christmas letters are  funnier each year :-)

Of course if I am going to be in New York then I absolutely have to visit my friends in the big apple.  We were fortunate to have Chanda stop with us for a few days last summer and that girl lives, eats and breathes ballet!  I would enjoy observing one of her dance classes, we would have tea at Chocolate Bar and take a walk along the high line admiring the view over the Hudson River.

There is a friend who I have yet to meet who graciously opened her doors and her heart a few years ago in welcoming our daughter Sara to her home in the Scottish Isles.  We might be separated by land and sea but our faith is the tie that binds us.  A light of a candle and an arrow prayer said in the early hours might seem insignificant to some but to those suffering in the margins it is priceless.

Thankfully we are blessed to know a real life home schooling family and what began as a tentative internet connection has blossomed into a sustainable friendship.  Not for nothing is that gal known as sustainable mum.  She has a great love of the outdoors, frugality and growing your own.  Lunchtimes are peppered with food from her back garden and she doesn't quell at the thought of catering for whacky dietary needs!  Our physical abilities might be poles apart but there is never any sense of inadequacy on our part; we love hearing about their wild camping adventures and all things craft related really unites that bond.

Sometimes those on the margins might be the folk you live with day after day.  It is easy to reach out a hand to a stranger but it can be a challenge when it is much closer to home.  This can be especially hard in a caring role where the work done is often unseen and therefore unappreciated in the context of the wider world.  We have only to look at the proposed goverment cuts to ascertain exactly what is of "value" and yet without the input of unpaid carers our society would be socially and financially poorer.

The heart of hospitality is finding people in the margins and bringing them in; what can you do to help someone on the margins today?