Tag Archives: family life

Home is where the slugs are.

P1120046Ah it’s good to be home, even though I could happily live on Iona and spend an inordinate amount of time in Edinburgh.

I loved the clean salt air on Iona and convinced myself that I was breathing much better (my dear daughter, named for said island, thinks otherwise, but an ol’cripple can have her dreams).

I learned that the school there had 15 pupils which sounds lovely, and for all those out there who think the “S” word for home education I have to say there are 22 children in our home ed group at the moment.

Iona has some wonderful photos which you can peruse HERE

Home to sunshine – which is good because the washing pile is HUMUNGOUS! All hands on deck for unpacking, sorting, cleaning and washing. We arrived home to be met by Alex and Anna as Anna had cooked a massive veg soup and made a cake. Marvellous! Alex has chosen a very good wife if you ask me.

We were also met with a…work of art…all over the front room carpet as the slugs had taken our absence as an open house invitation. Bloomin’ slugs, “don’t even know what the point of them even is…”

Off to the hospital this afternoon to see the Cardiologist – only to find there’d been a last minute cancellation of the clinic. Hope the Prof is ok.  Have new appt for Sept.

Next week have lung tests and week after have Rheumi appointment to discuss Lupus.

Been told it could be a long wait to see the voice/throat specialist.  Have no voice again at the moment. I get the feeling dh doesn’t mind the wait or my voicelessness…umm…

Plans for the near future:

Spend scary amounts of money of curriculum for Sept onwards. I think I just have to grin and bear it over the import duties on educational materials. I’m a bit cross at this silly Govt we have though.

I am hoping to begin selling some of my self made lessons over the year. This will mean having the time and brain function to do it, so we’ll see how it works out. I have not had much to offer Kalei recently for her website (Please go and have a look at the updates there and get signed up) because my fogginess has been pretty severe, but just recently I feel a clearing of the little grey cells; enough to write something hopefully.

I don’t know how this will go but I thought it was worth a try. I’ll update you on it as I progress. Say a prayer.

So I’ll be back to blogging on all things home ed, chronic illness and faith and anything else that comes into my foggy little mind.

End of term. Little garden party for the children.

Iona and her friends organised a garden party at her friend’s house. They have one every Summer and then a dinner party here in the Winter for Christmas and the Christmas tide birthdays.

Well, little Miss Heleyna was somewhat put out that these events went on and she was not invited to them. “Aha!” she cried, “When I’m a grown up girl I will have a garden party and not invite you!”

TRADITIONAL-SCHOOL-MILK-BOTTLE-CRATE-MILKSHAKE_1Feeling a touch chagrined on behalf of her youngest sister, and being in possession of some very neat mini milk bottles and some left over paper straws Iona decided that an end of term garden party for the children was in order.

So today the washing line was hung with bunting and the garden table loaded with finger sandwiches, crisps, homemade sausage rolls and many other goodies. There was pink milk and chocolate milk with proper paper straws.

All followed up with ice cream.

A lovely day.

I’ve looked at the photos but I wont upload them as I haven’t talked to the other mums about permission. Must do that.

Don’t touch the light switch!

It was around 6ish this morning (I think) when Josh knocked on the door and announced that water was pouring through the kitchen ceiling, down the lightswitch and down the walls.

So Al had the task of getting the flood stopped and the leak fixed before he went to work. I’ve never seen a man enjoy himself so much!

Josh was quick thinking and had put a large crate under the leak and it was rapidly filling with greenish water (must be copper pipes).

The light switch was still dripping water even this evening so the children are barred from touching it.

Al went off to Wicks at half eight, which was a special treat as he usually only gets to go there at weekends and holidays. He loves shopping there, the way those shopaholic women like department stores. Fortunately for us, Al’s love of Wicks does us more good as a family than if he was into department stores.

Long before mid morning he had fixed the leak and the watcher had stopped pouring through the kitchen ceiling. It was Alex who had the pleasure of bursting the great blister in the ceiling paper to release its burden of green water.

There’s a lot of drying out to be done and I am not so sure my child height measuring graffiti is accurate now the paper has slipped, but all is well, and no one has been electricuted.

A wedding.

I was going to wait until the ring situation was sorted,  but good news shouldn’t have to wait. Alex is engaged to Anna! He has designed her engagement ring and the first stage of the making process is done. I’ll post on that properly when the ring is finished and Anna has the chance to wear it. She’s being very patient, as the process is taking quite a while.

We had a lovely day with Anna’s family om Sunday. Alex is marrying into a lovely family, and poor Anna is marrying into ours and worse still, she is getting me as her mother-in-law!

There is a lot to organise and sort out. It will be a wedding on a shoestring budget but they have some great ideas for making it work with as little flash as possible. Anna is a gifted seamstress and will be making her own dress. That’s pretty impressive. Meanwhile Alex is making a pile of origami swallows; it seems to be very therapeutic for him.

Our PP is away but he is back this weekend so hopefully they will have a date booked by then. They have decided to get married in our church rather than Anna’s for the sake of space and the hall, where they will have their reception.

They are also looking for somewhere to live. Sadly the first place they found, which would be ideal, has fallen through. They are still looking.

I’ll post more when we know more – and I am looking forward to showing you all the ring Alex has designed.

Happy Birthday 18!

Iona turned 18 yesterday. She and her friends gathered for a lovely dinner party. Iona and her friend C did the cooking and there was lashings of tea all round.

She got some lovely presents from people – a lot on the tea drinking theme. Al and I joined them for the deserts and present opening. I laughed when she opened one of her presents from us – a mould for making chocolate tea pot and cup and saucer – there was a universal “OH WOW!” from the girls. The boys had a less exuberant response. LOL.

A lovely time was had by all.

Marriage and weddings.

We went to a wedding on Friday which was really lovely. The couple are committed to Christ and to each other in a way that I am sure “shows” through how they took their vows.

I was listening to Catholic Answers the day before and heard Jason Evert say he had heard a priest preach on marriage. He had said that all marriages have three rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and suffering.

That suffering is part of life and in marriage it is part of the Sacrifice that the husband must make for his wife and she for him. St. Paul teaches that husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the Church – He was crucified for her. The word Passion actually means “to pour out” as Christ poured out Himself in His Precious Blood and the water that finally flowed from His Sacred HEart.

I have never head Ephesians 5 read at any wedding. It is usually avoided because modern thinkers don’t like the idea that wives should be subjects to their husband, but there is just as much avoidance of the role of the husband in the family as it is called (in Catholic tradition) the domestic church.

The vows however, are a reflection of the Gospel message when the couple swear to be married through sickness, health, richer and poorer til death parts them. They swear in God’s name to be faithful together.

The role of marriage according the Church taught from the beginning is that the husband and wife are to bring each other to heaven – dragging each other if necessary. The couple are to be open to life as God calls them and to take very seriously their vocation as parents, the primary carers and educators of the children God gives them.

Marriage is a public institution. Strong, healthy marriages are the root and foundation of a strong, healthy society. In marriage the children are taught how to be good people, offering something worthwhile to society. The Church is strict that a valid marriage is based on the choice of the couple to be married. It must be a choice freely made. Love itself is a choice, not merely a feeling. Each day, no matter how we might feel, we are called to love the other – pouring ourselves out for one another.

I went through a bit of a phase when I thought I would like to be a wedding planner. Then I watched a series on TV following the work of a wedding planner and I decided I couldn’t do anything so gruelling. I can’t remember if it was this woman or another planner who said she had met many women who were ready for a wedding, but few were ready to be married.

Al wondered if we were a bit of a ‘sign’ at the wedding. We have been married for over 22 years and it’s pretty obvious – what with the wheelchair and all – that we are doing it through the “sickness” bit. I hope that was, as he suggests, an inspritation rather than a moment of “I couldn’t cope with that!” (lol)

Fortunately for society there are people, like the couple we saw on Friday, who are ready for marriage and we hope and pray that as they pour themselves out in the marriage that it will bear much fruit and bring all in that family to heaven.


The well oiled family machine.

We have a routine. We tend to do certain things on certain days whether lessons, work shifts or which night Iona does the cooking. It’s a kind of groove for our family life, without becoming a rut to get stuck in. For it to work well there needs to be some flexibility, so that everyone chips in for emergencies.

This flexibility helps ensure there isn’t too much unnecessary stress. We all just shift around a bit taking over one another’s usual jobs so that it all happens without making a crisis out of a bit of a problem.

So it was today. I watched the whole process shift nicely to accommodate the sudden Vertigo and vomiting attack of Miss Heleyna. I was already in the kitchen preparing the dinner. Roni was getting ready for Beavers and  had arranged who would take him.

As small child clung to her mother with the world spinning and vomit flying, the well oiled family machine kicked into action.

Iona came down and fetched clean clothes for the dizzy one while I washed out bowl, got changed and started a wash going. Then I took back the dizzy one while Iona set about the cooking. Meanwhile Alex came to the rescue to take Ronan to Beavers.

We all just shifted around a bit. No stress.

And the vertigo attack ended after an hour or so and she’s back to normal. Lovely.

Confessions of a working mum

In the previous posts about the ‘cult of expert’ and away from the cult of expert we got talking about mother’s leaving their children in child care because they either have to or choose to go out to work. I don’t judge women who have to work- been there done that. It can become a bizarre trap.

I was still a student nurse when I got married and through a rather careless approach to being healthy (I was only barely Catholic at the time) I quickly became pregnant. Josh was born and six months later I had to return to work because I had to finish my training and there was no way we could pay basic bills on just Al’s newly qualified nurse pay. So I found a child minder and left my baby behind. It was horrible.

 The hospital were fairly accomoding and I was allowed for most of my third year of training to work 8 to 4 on a rehab ward. I learned a lot and think it was one of the best ways I had of picking up a lot of skills. But the child care situation was a nightmare. The childminder was one I had found from a social services approved list, but she was barely coping looking after her own kids and certainly could not cope with mine and another mother’s babies on top of that. I soon found I had to quickly find different care for him. I did so with another child minder, who had come recommended.

She was lovely. But to get Josh there I would get up every morning at 5:30 and get ready for work. Get him up and ready at just after 6 am and then walk to the child minders and drop him off at 6:30 and then rush to the train to get to work for 8am. I wouldn’t see him again until 5pm that night- presuming nothing bad happened and I could get off work on time.

Continue reading

Honestly, young people!

If you want to know what the Young People around here get up to when our backs are turned READ THIS SHOCKING EXPOSE coupled with the HORROR OF TEENAGE GIRLS SHOPPING.

My Christmas present!- a Bread machine

To my surprise there was a huge box, nicely wrapped, sitting in the hall on Christmas day. I knew I hadn’t wrapped it so I wondered where it came from-and it turned out it was for ME!

It’s a very posh Kenwood Bread Machine. OooH I just love it. I’ve been wanting to get a new machine ever since our old one died a couple of years or more ago.

More recently I had decided the only thing left I could think to do to help Avila’s bowel problems and her general tiredness that goes with it, is to take the gluten out of her diet again. I tried it some time ago and she improved, but when her blood test for celiacs and wheat allergy came back negative we didn’t bother any more. However she needs something done, so I planned the gluten free diet again and needed a bread machine to make low gluten and gluten free bread that isn’t horrible. Apparently, I have read, blood tests for celiacs can be very unreliable and give plenty of false negatives-and as Celiac disease has a genetic link with type 1 diabetes I think it’s worth cutting down gluten-and just see.

So this this a brilliant pressie.

And there’s a story to go with it.

My crip scooter ran out of battery power last year. It was harder to get it to go anywhere and in the end we gave up. I looked at getting new batteries or replacing the scooter but it all cost too much and so I had to rely on the ‘shove it’ wheelchair. This meant essentially that I couldn’t get out and about very easily.

I started a jar. Well, you just have to don’t you.

But then one of the home ed mums decided she would try and raise the money for a replacement scooter or new batteries and without me knowing anything, she and Iona and Alex plotted to get me mobile again.

Well they were scuppered when Al found a place near where he works that sold batteries at a sensible price and I got new ones for my birthday from him. Whey hey I was mobile again and believe me it makes a huge difference.

So J asked Iona whether she should just give me the money she had already raised and Iona said no way I would just spend it on the kids curriculum or something. She had a better idea…

And so on Christmas day I got the Bread Machine!

I have been blessed with so9me amazingly kind and thoughtful friends. Another friend sends money just to help us out. We never have to ask; he just seems to know and sends something; and of course there is the lady at church and a very special aunt who also makes sure we keep swimming. I never take this for granted and am so grateful.

Most often we spend the money on things that can be shared with others or passed on. I hope we can give back something of what we have been given in some way.

Thank you.

Feast of the Holy Family

I missed Mass yesterday for St Stephen’s day, which was a shame, but it was lovely to go this morning for the Feast of the Holy Family. The Church still looks really lovely with the tree and candles and the light streaming in through the windows.

I managed to take a couple of photos before too many people were already in Church.

Father talked about how his parents had a picture of the Holy Family up at home but sometimes with himself and his siblings around things weren’t as holy as they might be. LOL.

The readings for the day were aimed at both children, instructing them in respect and honour as well as care of elderly parents; and also just as importantly at parents- telling husbands to love their wives and reminding parents to be good to their children.

I have an unfinished blog entry to work on, where I was thinking about the role of being a mother. It was after conversations with Donna -but when she died I never finished writing it. I think I need to go back to it soon and think it through.

I noticed when I got home and had a look at the computer that Ed Balls has suddenly changed his mind and after 12 years of actively undermining marriage and family has scratched his head and muttered that marriage might be okay after all, and not just because those of us who are trying to bring our children up to be happy and mentally healthy are paying something like 40% extra tax either. Sometimes I am left wondering what on earth Balls and his mates actually THINK about.

Father reminded us that the Holy Family had a difficult time of it, not just because Jesus ended up being born in a stable, but the flight into Egypt because Herod was out to kill him and then having to try and re-make their lives back in Nazareth when it was all over. He talked about the terrible problems in family life these days with divorce and family break down, but pointed out there was nothing new under the sun and families have always faced horrors of some kind. Having to run away from the authorities because they were out to get you being just one.

After Mass Heleyna sat by the crib and waved at the baby Jesus. The pictures the children made are there in the photo and Heleyna’s is behind her.

A kind lady, one of the mothers of the church, handed me some money to help us out with the costs of Christmas. There are some very thoughtful, kind people around. She isn’t the only person who has been kind at this time. I really hope when I’m older we can do the same for young families in our parish, remembering how our struggles to make ends meet were helped by others.

And on that note I have to say I have received a really lovely Christmas present, which I will tell you all about later. Must run now.

Entering adulthood. Does it happen at 18?

Yesterday we had a birthday party for Alex who will turn 18 next week. We had what has now become the family tradition of the ‘wall of fame’ that is photos of Alex from just before birth to now-with a small extra bit to add photos for the next week.

Officially, as far as our culture is concerned he becomes an adult now. Although there seems to be stages to the process from 16 then 18 and then 21. I don’t think Alex is really noticing too much that there is a step up at this point. He has been planning for it gradually anyway.

As the children reach adulthood parenting adults is a bit different. I think some people think their role is finished at 16 or even younger, but the fact is once a parent always a parent, but the role changes. So we all have to adjust a little.

Continue reading

Frugal Living- thanks to the 44% extra tax we pay.

This article in the Daily Mail has been doing the rounds showing how one income families with a mother in the home are paying 44% more in tax than the rest of the developed world. I don’t know whether the research also took into account the higher cost of living over here as well.

One or two of the comments about how individual families struggle so much because mum is at home struck a cord. I’m not sure I believe in ‘frugal living’ any more. Or rather I am not convinced it is possible to have a family with one wage and stay out of debt. In reality all that happens is we put off and put off buying what’s needed until in the end we have to buy a load of stuff in one go, blowing any hope we had of pulling back some cash. Mind you the fact that I have just spent loads on curriculum material means I got a 10% discount. lol.

It seems to me the level of tax imposed on single income families constitutes theft. It would be good to know a Tory Govt would put a lot of this right; but they seem rather quiet on the matter of being pro-family.

So, how to beat them eh? On the whole I don’t think we can; but we don’t need to cave and join them either. There are ways of keeping the inevitable debt down.  But more than that be careful how you think and don’t get tempted to horde stuff for fear you will never be able to replace it if you ever need it again. On the other hand don’t be throwing out things you will need again. Try not to think that you are entitled to stuff because others have it. I would guess this is harder for people who have had to give up a lot of things they once had, than for those of us who have pottered along like this for a long time.

SHARE what you do have. I think this really is the way to make small amounts go a long way. Children’s clothes are great for sharing as is food and for the home edders curriculum stuff. SHARE time and any talents you might have as well. In this way an alternative economy can work. Don’t do it on a tit for tat basis. Just give what you have more of and see what happens.

I am also very keen that the children learn to take care of one another. I really think a lot of the struggles families face in paying bills is because there isn’t enough sharing going on. I am hoping my children have learned that they are ‘my brother’s keeper’.  They don’t need to spend money on ‘stuff’ and lots of holidays and meals out while one of their own is struggling to pay the gas bill.  I also want them to be there for each other in a crisis. There is something utterly soul destroying about trying to cope with a serious family crisis with no support from family, and I am teaching (I hope) my children that this must not happen.

The way to beat this Govt at their anti-family game is for families to work even more closely together and God will take care of the rest 🙂

Kindess and Concerns

My sister in law was over today and we got talking about the way communities seem to work. She is working with people who live in a more rural area than she used to. She feels she relates better to them than her old client group who tended to live in high rise flats and housing estates. In many of these places people, even the worst of estates, can find a kind of community. Certainly it may be easier in rural places where there is a village culture, but even inner city places can have these little oasis of kindness and community.

With the way the economy is going there is a lot of worry that people will be left destitute.lancasterbishop1 Bishop Patrick O’Donaghue, affectionately referred to as POD, has talked of how this time around the economic downturn could have serious effects on families because families and communities simply are not as strong as they were even in the 80’s when we had the last massive problem economically.

He pointed out that families simply seem not to be taking care of one another these days and that a change in behaviour was desperately needed to ensure people got through what could be a number of very difficult years.

I think there are real signs that people are trying to care for one another even in the most difficult circumstances. I know of one case where a friend came and stayed with a friend of mine while her baby was in hospital and helped out. I know of a sister who has offered to pay the gas bill for her sister because she has no children and understands the problems of heating a home with little ones in it.

In my own life I love how the mums share so much so that we all have a way of caring for our children and for each other.

I think it was St Francis of Assisi who said that anyone who owns more than he directly needs is in effect stealing from those who are in need. It’s a good thing to remember as I think it won’t hurt to hoard all those kids clothes for a while.

A lot of support I see in my local area is done quietly. It’s the neighbour who takes care of a garden for someone less able. That same neighbour who kindly gives you a lift on the day the tutor at college phones to say he has called an Ambulance for your son (as happened to me last year).

It’s the person at Church who asks what help you might need when a new baby is due-or a child is sick.

It’s the time taken after Mass to offer support to a mum with a concern about her child, or the mother who has just lost her baby.

I know of parents who are working when they could be retired to help out their children and grandchildren.

I know of teenagers willing to help someone sort out a house they are moving into.

There are loads of these little things going on just around here. It’s not too gloomy is it?