Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Gratitude List

I cannot lie.  The outcome of the EU Referendum has left me reeling.  I voted Remain even though there are parts of the EU that I do not agree with such as the unnecessary waste within the goverment departments and the pressure on faith schools to promote certain practises that are not in line with church teaching.  This is contrary to the original ethos of the EU which was to promote a moral and stabilising force in addition to supporting peace, solidarity, subsidiarity and to improve living and working conditions throughout the member states.  Over the years there has been too much emphasis on economics and so the original vision has been diluted over time.  These concerns however pale into insignificance when it comes to the reality of our current situation within the UK.  Our country is in a crisis, the political parties that are meant to govern are feuding amongst themselves, Scotland quite rightly is now calling upon another referendum to divorce itself from the UK as they voted overwhelmingly to remain and even London wants to remain part of the EU.  We have also witnessed the worst of society which culminated in the death of Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen who was murdered at the end of her surgery and since Friday there have been physical and verbal assaults against anyone not deemed "British."  The far right "Britain First" neo nazi party have called for the repatriation of all foreigners and quite rightly so many folk are frightened indeed.  In short I am ashamed to say that I am British.

As a Christian I know that God calls me to reach out to those in need, to love my neighbour, help the oppressed and in short be that good samaritan.  When all was falling around me on Friday He graced me with a passage from scripture during my quiet time in adoration:

 God is good!

So without further ado here is my list of thanks this week:

Glastonbury is on i-player, it's the nearest I'll get to ever being there :-)

Pip finished another set of Singapore Maths books so we will be consolidating what we have learned and then moving up to level two at some point during the week.

I managed to get both kids to mass today, now THAT IS NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE!  Pip and I attended St Joseph's this morning which included children's church.  Benedict and I went to the Cathedral this evening, I cannot remember the last time him and I were on our own!

I've got back into the swim of things quite literally which has included an extra swim and pool physio lesson before the usual Wednesday swim meeting.  That extra half hour session really made a difference to not only my swimming but also the pain in my back, right shoulder and knees.

Carrying on with the exercise theme I have even hopped back on the exercise bike, 12 km travelled each night after tea.  I use this time to catch up with you tube subscriptions and so I don't feel bad about screen viewing during this time.

Dave has been having reflexology sessions at Slynedales and we have noticed a small improvement in his walking ability as each session and week goes by.  He also finally had his first session with a neuro physio on Wednesday.  She is working on strengthening his leg muscles but as we suspected his upper body strength is really good, he uses his arms to really pull himself up the stairs.

Whilst Dave was in his physio session, Pip and I walked to the Royal Voluntary Service cafe for an ice cream:

 " Cheese, mummy!"

On our walk back we also spotted this interesting landing place:

The helicopter landing pad!  It was only after I had taken the picture that I had noticed the sign that said, " no unauthorised personnel" oops!

We were treated to really gorgeous weather on Thursday and spent the day with some home ed friends at Holker Hall.  The kids had the play area to themselves leaving the parents to chat and drink tea!

 Butternut soup and gluten free bread.

 A discussion about which ice creams to choose, it is a very serious business making the right choice!

 Gorgeous blooms!

Pip learning to play the harmonica.  We have been treated to its melodious tones at six in the morning!

Looking at these pictures has really lifted my spirits, so a timely reminder to keep looking for the joy ;-)


Monday, 20 June 2016

Waldorf Wanderings

The day began with the usual routine of maths followed by an activity of your choice and Pip chose to work on Scratch computer coding.  She worked well with Dave whilst I was being prodded and needled at my acupuncture session!

After a quick outside recess and an apple snack, Pip and I settled down to another main lesson fable entitled "The Wind and The Sun."  We read the story from the Waldorf Teachers Website and once more Aunty Mable came up trumps!

The Windy Day.

We both enjoyed watching the programme and then we discussed the moral behind the story. Pip did a great job explaining that the wind seemed to be quite proud and boastful and the sun was soft and gentle.  The sun won the challenge and so the lesson learned was first impressions can be deceptive and that nobody likes a boastful person!

We had rain first thing this morning but by late morning the wind had successfully blown the clouds away and so a windsock craft was the order of the day!  I found a really useful idea that also linked in with pre first communion preparation and so it was a win-win situation all round.

 Sharing is caring ~ we share with others just like Jesus shares His love with us and Himself in the Eucharist.

 A waving wind sock.

 Paper fronds fluttering in the breeze.

It was then time for another weather story, this time it was, "Katie Morag and The Tiresome Ted."  Since the stories are actually based around the Isle of Coll in the Outer Hebrides, there are plenty of geography links dotted around the internet. So whilst I was gathering resources, Pip went on a rabbit trial of her own:

 Working Hard.

 Pirate Pip, complete with the latest fashion accessory that every self respecting pirate needs ... a telescope attached to your hat!  No more last minute hunting around for that lost telescope!

Two fun filled Monday's in a row, totally pleased :-) 


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Midsummer Fairies

It was Pip's fairy day today.  As always her best buddy from school and her younger sister attended as did two other recent friends, one from Brownies and the other from Mad Science.  It was three hours of crafting, outside games and eating a yummy picnic lunch:

 Twinkle left a Shrinkles Fairy Bead Set and a box of make your own Brilliant Hair Bands.

 Pip received two extra treats a fairy figurine from B and a fairy princess book from DM.

 Decorate your own fairy cakes activity.

 Plenty of icing and assorted sprinkles :-)

Whilst I was making lunch the kids went outside and played a variety of Sports Day activities:

 Egg and Spoon Race.

 The sack race which I am sure is now banned in schools due to health and safety reasons!

 They had a whole heap of fun jumping up and down!

 Toss the bean bag into the ring.

 The three legged race.

After lunch the kids finished their shrinkles bracelets and then just had time to work on their flower garland headbands.  Two little friends stayed on for a little while longer which meant that C and I could have a chat and well deserved cup of tea :-)

 Three little flower fairies and two of them not wanting to go home!

Monday, 13 June 2016


Our day began with the fable "The crow and the pitcher."  I used the guidelines provided by the Waldorf Teachers' website as a starting point for our discussion and the re-telling of the story.  It was interesting to see Pip reach her own conclusion about the importance of water and the message behind the fable.  She had great fun re-enacting her own version of the story and learning about Archimedes principle of displacement.

 Water in the glass.

 Add the stones and the water level rises, clever old crow!

 Water Play.

Pip's interpretation of the lesson and the story.

 A water colour and pencil drawing of "The Crow and The Pitcher."

Whilst we were working hard the heavens opened and the rain came tipping down!  It bounced off the driveway, dirt spattered on the front door and the back garden lawn was awash!  

 The front drive.

 The back garden lawn and conservatory steps.

 Water for washing up.

Water for cooking lunch.

She also enjoyed watching two episodes of the long standing children's programme, " Come Outside" with Aunty Mable and Pippin the dog.  Sara used to watch this programme when she was five and she'll be twenty seven this year!  Pip's alter ego is Pippin the dog :-)

Come Outside ~ Water.

Come Outside ~ A Rainy Day.

Pip also helped make celery and sweet potato soup for lunch, followed by Singapore Maths and subtraction and addition number cards.  Her well earned reward was some time on the computer playing Minecraft.


Saturday, 11 June 2016


 The birthday table.

 One simple cake.

 Gathering and Singing.

 Can you see a theme for this year?  Plenty of hands on activities during the forthcoming days :-)

Making a start.

Happy Birthday Benedict :-)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Minimalism Musings: The More Of Less

"Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them."

Minimalism will therefore vary for each individual, for some it might be white spaces and Zen-like living, others might decide to pare down their items to 100 things or have a desire to fit all they own into a suitcase.  Like everything in life, it is not a one size fits all policy and is a lifelong attitude as opposed to a once in a lifetime event.

Clever marketing, magazines, blogs and other social media sites are keen to perpetuate the myth, that happiness is found in stuff.  The problem with this mentality is that like any addiction the thrill of the purchase is superseded by the crash and as in any addiction the cycle of want-buy-crash is continued ad infinitum.  I have never been a shopaholic since, as a child growing up, disposable income was in short supply and my mum did a great job managing on a single wage.  Sometimes there was envy on my part, when I saw what other friends had but on the whole I was very grateful as I knew that buying a treat for me, meant that my mum went without a new item of clothing.

We don't have to be shopaholics to be hoarders as our possessions can take over when we are unable to say "no" to the gifted bags of hand me down clothing, books, toys and games.  When Uncle Bernard died over two years ago, it took over six months for family members to clear out his house.  He was a serious hoarder and by the time he realised that he had a problem, he was too poorly to do anything about it.

Minimalism and Simple Living has been a cause dear to my heart over the past few years.  As I have grown older and been a home owner since my early twenties I have recognised the need for space and organisation.  You Tube offers a plethora of interesting videos and books abound on the subject, even the Holy Father challenges us to take social justice and the environment seriously.  My latest read has been The More of Less and I was fortunate enough to receive an e-copy for review. 

Joshua's opening story recounts the all too familiar tale of an extended weekend, a garage clean out and no time to play ball with his son.  It is a chance remark by his neighbour that sparks his journey into minimalism which is, to identify what matters and ditch the rest.  Within six months Joshua and his wife Kim had jettisoned over 50% of their belongings and the blog "Becoming Minimalist" had been born.  Two years later Joshua would relinquish his role as a student pastor and instead spend his time speaking at conferences and writing books and articles about his journey into less.

He debunks two myths surrounding minimalism and that is "you have to give up everything and it is another means of organisation."  Minimalism is defining your objectives and then discarding items or activities that do not meet with that focus.  Removing extraneous physical clutter from our lives not only frees up space but allows us to re-evaluate true needs from wants.  This in turn forces us to question every item coming into the home.  Gone are the impulse buys and instead, we pause and, nine times out of ten, that "need" disappears into the ether.

When the rich young man asks Jesus, "Good Teacher what must I do to gain eternal life."  He is met with an honest and challenging reply, " Sell all you have and give it away to the poor.  You will have riches in heaven, Come follow me."  Joshua skillfully sums this up in one thought provoking comment:

"We search for the greatest good we can accomplish with the one life we have been given.  We decipher what possessions we need to accomplish this role and then refuse to allow anything to keep us from fulfilling this purpose."

He shares the nitty gritty on marketing ploys and our "own wants from within" that can derail us if we are not on guard.  We are encouraged to be mindful when shopping and to recognise that happiness and contentment are found in appreciating what we have, family, friends and home.  He also offers practical advice on the minimising process and uses experiments to help you figure out just how much you really need.

The latter part of the book encourages the reader to find the ways of being the best we can be in this one life we have through:-

  • Volunteering and Mentoring.
  • Self reflection. Are we living an authentic life? Do our actions match with our values?

  • Clearing out the mental clutter - this is an area that is a current work in progress in my life.  
In fact the mental clutter in my head is at maximum overload and has been for sometime, I am however taking steps to deal with this: regular quiet times in the day, handwork projects that are restful, trying not to feel guilty if I do go out on my own and weekly counselling to offload.

In closing, this book intertwines practical challenges and directions with real life stories and biblical teaching.  Most simple living and green books are often found in the secular press and so a book like this, that encourages the reader on a spiritual journey, is a rare treasure.

Full disclosure: I received a free download in return for my review at Blogging For Books.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Daybook For May

Looking out of my window:  it is pitch black save for the street lamp on the roadside.  Earlier today the sky was grey and there was a decidedly cool nip in the air.  Summer is almost around the corner but I think Mother Nature is in denial!

I am thinking: that I spend my days being really cross with myself!  Most days I run on coffee and adrenaline, rushing from one problem to the next.  I have this daily worry that I have not managed to kick my writing into gear and that as the potential income earner in the family that I have let everyone down.  I am still also grieving over the loss of Aunty Maureen and when all seems to be under control, something will tip me over, the flood gates open and the tears roll.  I have also developed this rather annoying habit of over thinking and boy is that paralysing :-)

I am thankful for: the gift of friendship both near and far.  We had our "Little Flowers" meeting on Monday and it was so good to spend time with other like minded souls.  I have a planned coffee date with another dear friend on Friday and the " jump for joy" chance of meeting a longstanding friend on the weekend, here's looking at you Ros!

One of my favourite things: rediscovering my joy of knitting.  I lost my mojo well over a year ago but a spark has been re-ignited and I am one happy knitter.

I am wearing:  a flowered linen shirt and jeans but should really be in my pyjamas as it is way past my bedtime!

I am creating:  pages of notes and jottings in the hope that inspiration will strike and that those words will be put to good use.

I am reading:  "Work Simply" by Carson Tate ~ embracing the power of personal productivity style.  I now understand why I could not get into the whole planner, washi tape and sticker thing, it is just not my style!  Give me a piece of paper and a pen and I will prioritise and visualise my day :-)  Think goal orientated and comprehending the big picture and that is me! 

 I am also incapable of having just one book on the go so on the kindle app on my phone I am reading, "No Impact Man; saving the planet one family at a time," Colin Beavan.  I have also finished reading another e-book download about simplicity and minimalism which I received in return for writing a review, which I am hoping to share on here before too long.

I am hoping: to find some peace in my days :-)

In the kitchen: the menu planning and organisation has been out of the window for a good few weeks.  We have transitioned once again to an organic veg box scheme and I am trying as far as possible to reduce the amount of plastic entering the home.  The pesticides are an unwanted toxic burden on an existing overwhelmed body and the plastics are not only a pain to recycle, they are also known to disrupt hormone levels so not great in particular for the women in the house!

In the school room:  we are hitting the non negotiables of maths and english on a daily basis.  I am still however trying to find a joint activity for both kids but that requires some peace and quiet and thinking time, all of which are in short supply at the moment!

In the garden: we have an array of flowers and a small amount of vegetables thanks to Sara and Tom

A peak into our day:

 Pip and her friend from Little Flowers who we visited earlier today; they had a great time and so did the adults chatting, drinking tea and enjoying a delicious salad and cheese smorgasbord

Joining in with:

 found over here