Saturday, 6 February 2016

This Week

It's been a while since I blogged and radio silence at this end usually means only one thing and that is I have been struggling with my health, caring for family members and keeping the house running at a bare minimum.  I think the previous two weeks caught up with me and my body decided to let me know in no uncertain terms :-)  Still, I have managed to snap some shots of this past week and thought I would share them here:

Monday was our "Little Flowers Group."  We were low on numbers since one family was travelling home from a christening but the rest of us had a lovely time.  Our saint for the session was St Joan of Arc, so after the usual introductory prayers, song to St Therese and memory verse, we listened to the story of St Joan and then completed a page for the notebook as well as a colouring sheet:

Benedict had some fun in the workshop on Tuesday and spent a good hour or so whittling.  We bought him some whittling tools and a book for Christmas and so he chose to have a go at a spreading implement, so here are some shots of a work in progress:

In amongst the paint tins and in front of Dad's work bench.

 Stage One Complete.

Wednesday was an unexpected home school day for Pip.  I had been up half the night battling a migraine and had only managed to settle again at half past six in the morning.  Since Dave is currently unable to drive and we do not live within walking distance to school, the only option was to teach her at home alongside Benedict.  Pip is an enthusiastic learner and easy to teach, we worked on Singapore Maths, Cooking, Reading and Religious Instruction.  Here she is wearing the apron I made her from her drawing of an angel, it is a combination of applique and machine and hand stitching:

 I think she is happy with it, don't you agree?!

On Thursday we watched the documentary "One Simple Question" produced by Teresa and Ben Carey.  The whole film from start to finish was expertly put together, the scenery was epic, the story well told and the photography just awesome.  Pip was very impressed and drew a picture of Ben battling the elements during a violent storm with Dory the ship's cat in tow, Teresa was below decks navigating.  We posted the picture to their face book page so hopefully they'll see it before too long:

The boat is named after Ben's mum.

Friday was a struggling along home day and to be honest just getting Pip to school and back was my successes for the day.  In the past seven days I have had two days in total where I have felt remotely well, not a great hit rate I know!  To keep my spirits up and as an accountability tool, I have decided to undertake the 30 day minimalist challenge; on day one you rid yourself of one item, on day two, it is two items and so on up to day thirty, whereby over four hundred items should in theory have left the house!!  Now I am not a hoarder and had a substantial clear out just before Christmas and again before I was hospitalised, so this challenge should prove interesting.  The following is a montage of items for the charity shop:

So Far, So Good!

God also gave me a great big nudge today, to remember to look for the daily joys :-)  I let that slide when I was ill and no surprise my mental and emotional well being also took a tumble!  My daily joy today is a blog link.  I found this lovely lass via another blog and her site is such a happy place :-)

Be Blessed x


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Hospital Edition Part Two

Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes :-)

 The ID tags I had to wear so they knew what did not agree with me and that they didn't mistake me for someone else!

The clinical nurse performing the endoscopy recommended entonox for pain relief as there was one part deemed particularly painful and she was right!  I have given birth four times with no analgesia but the pain was very similar to the pain over a week ago, so not only was I " off my head" on entonox I started to lose consciousness again.  At one point I thought I was back in my bedroom with Dave on that fateful Sunday morning!

The good news is that everything looked normal but to make sure they have sent in a sample for testing.  The staff were wonderful especially since I spent the rest of my time in recovery crying!!  A common side effect of the Entonox, good job I didn't use it in labour then :-)

I have managed to eat a small amount and have been drinking plenty.  God is good, I have been upheld in prayer and I was able to offer an arrow prayer for a lady who was terrified of her procedure.  Remember the story about the love of God spanning an ocean?  Well Em rang this afternoon to check how I was and didn't even know that it was my day for the procedure, in the chaos of the past week I had forgotten to tell her :-)

I know He holds me in the palm of His hand, what an amazing Father!

Love to you all, San xx 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Daily Joys :: The Hospital Edition

In a blink of an eye I went from this:

 Saturday night yarn dyeing with Pip.

 Gloved and Gowned.

 Magenta Pink Mix.

 Testing different colour mixes.

To six hours later waking at 3am with very severe abdominal pain, which led to shock and a split second loss of consciousness.  I quickly recognised the symptoms as a "gluten cross contamination reaction" and although horrendous thought my body would sort itself out.  This however was not to be the case and when I began to bleed I realised something very bad was happening, so an ambulance was dispatched.  Thankfully I was able to contact a friend and her husband who came to help Dave until family members arrived.  My friend Bea came in the ambulance with me and stayed until they moved me from A&E to acute surgical.  Kath travelled from Barrow to collect Pip who was looked after by family and Sara and Tom stayed to help Dave.

By early evening on Sunday my condition had stabilised and the consultant satisfied that my lower intestine and bowel had not ruptured, declared me able to return home.  I must admit I felt wretched as a result of being dehydrated but knew that I would have much needed peace and quiet at home.  My recovery is a slow process and I have lost my appetite and as a result feel nauseous most of the time.  I have been allocated an appointment for an endoscopy on Tuesday to ensure nothing sinister is lurking.  Your prayers and good thoughts would be much appreciated at this time.

Naturally I haven't been in much of a state for taking photographs but I would like to share a story with you:

Our daughter Sr Emma Maria was praying on Sunday afternoon with the community of sisters and when they reached the last decade of the rosary, she felt this overwhelming need to pray for me and her dad.  Straight after the prayers, she sat down to have a snack and the next minute the phone was ringing, it was Dave telling her that I had been admitted.  An ocean separates us from her in northern Spain and us in the UK, but the love of Christ never separates us :-)

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Daily Joys :: Epiphany Week

Benedetto's Pop Up Restaurant

 Sweet potato and celery soup 

In the pan

 Chatting and chopping

Paleo cottage pie, using mashed cauliflower and leeks as a topping.

Working Together

 A rare occurrence these days, the two of them working on a Lego project whilst Dave and I enjoyed a few moments peace :-)

Little Flowers

 Making sugar paste roses to top ...

 ... eton mess for our afternoon tea.

Epiphany Day Presents


  Beautifully wrapped presents, thank you Dorina, Greg and all.  Benedict read the Star Wars book in one sitting and we are using "Adam of the Road" as a read aloud.  Pip's "Blue Willow" book is our chapter book at bedtime and you can see from the smile on her face that acorn girls were a real hit.  Dave and I have yet to try the tea and coffee and this bag ...

 ... is now my knitting bag :-)

Looking back over these images not only makes me smile but is a reminder that joy really can be found in the midst of great difficulties.  It has been a really hard week this week:

 A very dear friend is dealing with a suspected serious medical condition and the thought of losing her seems to sad for words, so we are storming heaven for a good outcome and healing.  Both her and her husband have played a major part in our lives these past sixteen years and in the absence of family near by, they are our "local family."

 Dave started with a nasty virus on New Year's Day which in turn has exacerbated the MS, so his walking has dropped off again and I've lost sleep helping in the night.  We are both exhausted and frustrated by our circumstances but God's will is found in sickness and in health as well as in sorrow and joy.

Pip really did not want to return to school and she made a very convincing case on Wednesday night:  "You, Dad and Ben are at home each day, so why do I have to go?  All I do is work, work, work and Ben gets to go swimming, do some cooking and play with Lego!"  Despite her complaints she did get up the following morning and after a breakfast of her favourite food, boiled eggs with corn crackers, her and I were soon on the commuter run across town.

I am stretched thin and find it increasingly hard to deal with everyday events; it is by God's grace that I have not succumbed to a breakdown, but in my weakness is His strength.  In addition to my "daily joys photography" I have been writing out scripture passages  today's writing says it all:

"This is a great joy to you, even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved ~ to your honour when Jesus Christ is revealed."  1 Peter 1 v 6-7

Be Blessed x 


Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year, New Beginnings

New Year, New Beginnings.

We are bombarded with diet plans, detox programmes, plan your holiday, declutter your home.  Resolutions are made, goals are set but there is one thing we cannot control and that is life getting in the way!  There is an age old phrase, "if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans!" 
Some folk myself included have learned not to set new year resolutions because one can almost guarantee instant failure within a matter of days :-). Any dieter will tell you that to make a food out of bounds is to make that food suddenly desirable! 

Magazines and the Internet exhort us to make this year the best ever and one  popular theme  is finding your word for the year. My word for 2015  was Hope.  So no surprise that over the course of the year I was given plenty of opportunity to try and live that word :-).

 I remember listening to a lady share her cancer journey and she wrote many words of encouragement and scripture passages and dotted them around the house.  One such phrase was, " To hope means hoping when everything is hopeless, otherwise it is not a virtue at all.   Hope requires us to look ahead and almost cast aside the mess in which we find ourselves. To fix our eyes on Jesus as the storm rages around us, so much easier said than done.

When Dave encountered an unexpected and scary relapse late on in the year, I knew that my only way of coping was to look for some semblance of joy in each day.  As always I look through the camera eye and so began a series of daily blog posts and images that upheld me during the darkest moments.  God knowing me through and through blessed me in so many ways and as the days rolled into advent my yearly participation in the DPP began.  Sharing with others one photo and a comment for each day, not only documented  the usual feasts of St Nicholas and St Lucia, gift wrapping and candle lighting but also the unprecedented rains, caravan cooking for friends and stories by candle light due to the power outage.  Each photo a tangible memory of that moment in time and space.

It can be hard to remain positive during adversity but when we concentrate on lack we become depressed;  when we are depressed we see the glass half empty instead of half full and suddenly we are dying of thirst.  Some folk keep a gratitude journal.   Can you keep a running list of giving thanks?  Ann Voskampf did just that and wrote a book charting her journey.   The thirteenth century German mystic Meister Eckhart believed that, " if the only word you ever said was thank you," it would be enough. 

If however this year fills you with uncertainty and dread do not be discouraged.  St Benedict in his writings always reminds us to begin again, this might be at the start of each day or several times throughout the day, which is often referred to as a do -over in our house :-).   Jesus fell under the weight of His cross so that we might remember that it is the getting up again that counts! 
Your challenge might be to live each day as faithfully as you can and to offer the sorrows and sufferings to God.  No suffering is wasted as He takes all and in so doing weaves a beautiful tapestry unique to each individual.  When you rise tomorrow ask, "What is the true work I am to do today?"  Teach me O Lord to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom.

For when we take the time to not only offer our day to God but to ask for his guidance and open our hearts and really listen God allows the Holy in the commonplace. For me it was an unexpected oasis of peace on Christmas Eve ~ a God planned moment of not being at home cleaning and baking but a quiet moment at Leighton Moss RSPB cafe for a cappuccino!  Last minute food shopping as well as card delivery to friends in Silverdale afforded this interlude. Sunshine, blue skies and no demands, God is the best physician :-). 

Whether you are a planner, a dreamer or a take life as it comes person, be open to the Spirit within you.  All change takes time and this is God's greatest gift to you at the start of this New Year; three hundred and sixty five never before lived mornings and starlit evenings, fifty two weeks of discovery, twelve months of growth and four splendid seasons.  So as you enter into 2016 take the hand of your creator and "welcome this New Year of things never been."

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Looking for joy :: The Christmas Edition

Christmas this year was a mixed bag but overall it turned out well ... hindsight and rose tinted spectacles help enormously ;-)

Christmas Eve

This was my reward for tackling the supermarket for last minute items and loading the car with the logs for the wood burner.  It was God's gift to me, half an hour of peace and quiet at Leighton Moss!  Note to self must do this next year :-)

Christmas Day

 Opening presents a knitting machine for Pip and a build your own catapult for Benedict.

 A Lego Fr Leopold Celebrates Mass.

 Sara setting the table~ it wasn't that cold it's just that she loved her snowman hat!

 A flaming Christmas Pudding!

I cannot believe that I didn't take any pictures of the Christmas dinner, it was a case of eat it before it gets cold!  Suffice to say it was the usual roast dinner fayre with extra accompaniments of bread sauce and sage and onion stuffing.

Later in the day we played a new board game entitled "Best of British" and it was a load of fun.

Sara and Tom stayed an extra night as many roads were impassable due to heavy and prolonged weather and so they took the kids to the cinema for two separate screenings.  In the afternoon, Pip saw the "Good Dragon" and in the evening Benedict watched the latest Star Wars film, he was one happy chap!


Benedict spent the day with his cousin and Pip and I visited our home ed friends with their twin girls.  We had a very busy and fun day; the kids drew pictures, played with their toys and watched a short film.  After lunch we took their dog Alfie through the woods and into a field.  The walk is literally five minutes from their house but at the top of the hill you have a wonderful 360 panoramic view of our city, the sea and the lake district fells.  Pip and I both managed to slip in the mud so thank goodness for spare clothes :-)

Once home we were rewarded with a mug of steaming hot tea and a chocolate from the sweet tin.  We played pin the nose on the snowman followed by filling some home made bird feeders to take home:


Pip and I visited Leighton Moss but were confined to the sensory garden and feeding stations since the majority of the paths were knee deep in water due to the recent heavy rains:

 Making Music.

"Hello There!"

  We have had some rather unusual visitors these past few weeks; first Abigail followed by  Barney, Clodagh, Desmond and Eva.  Storm Frank is now battering our shores so I guess tomorrow will definitely be a home day :-)  

Christmas Blessings x  



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Looking for joy :: DPP Day Twenty Three ~ Birthday-ing

Seven times around the sun and as always the adventure begins at midnight when I am finally finishing with birthday prep and fondly reminiscing of early labour signs at that exact moment!

 Wrapped and ready.

Pip woke at her usual time of six thirty but was happy to hang out in her room until I was sorted a little while later.  She found the large box shaped present very intriguing and her response upon opening was absolutely delightful:

Meet Shannon who likes nothing more than being outdoors, she is an our generation girl

Once the remainder of the presents had been opened we made our way into the front room for the "x" marks the spot, you were born here at 8:30 am:

 My not so little baby just about able to sit on my knee :-)

It wasn't long before Pip's best buddy from school arrived and they had great fun:

 Sharing a how to draw book.

 Decorating cup cakes.

 Pink icing, Christmas sprinkles and chocolate hearts!

 Watching and waiting ...

... for the fountain!  

I had "technical issues" and could not strike the second match quickly so that they would burn simultaneously!

After lunch we made spoon puppets:

A flower girl puppet for B.

We also had several other visitors throughout the day dropping off cards, presents and good wishes.  Pip remarked several times that it was the best birthday ever and kept thanking me for the party and the treat activities.  We bought her a birthday card with her absolute favourite phrase:

" Love you to the moon and back"

And she also adds, " and deep down into your heart."

As I write she and Shannon are tucked up snug in bed and since Pip is not usually a bed sharer with her teddies and rag doll this is quite an interesting turn of events :-)

Smashing Seven! Oh to be young again :-)

Advent Blessings x