Monday, December 31, 2007


No, not the program !

I do not currently have a knitting project. I knitted three scarves just before Christmas, and whilst I have wool to make more, I don't actually want to knit any more of them at the moment.

I do feel lost without having any knitting on hand.

I am quite tempted to make myself a prayer shawl, especially as the icon corner is in a room which is not heated for the vast majority of the time..........the extra warmth will be nice.
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The Nicene Creed on BBC Radio

An interesting discussion on the history and role of the Nicene Creed on Radio 4, with Orthodox input from Fr Andrew Louth, can be found and downloaded from here.
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Preparing for Typica

At home today, I prayed the Typica.
It seemed like a good idea to photogrpah the icon corner and the books I was using:-

Orthodox Study Bible for the Gospel reading

Apostolos for the prokeimenon and epistle

Menaion for Troparia and kontakia of the day.

Calendar /Lectionary for the readings and saints.

Printed sheets of the Typica service.

Oh to be able to have all these things in **one** handy volume like the RCs and Anglicans. But if we did, we would probably need a wheelbarrow to move it around :-)
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I wanted to post this picture as a sign of hope for the New Year.

A young Russian couple, Dimitri and Varvara Artamkin, lost their first baby and had fertility treatment, which resulted in a quintuplet pregnancy. In Russia they were strongly advised to undergo fetal reduction and abort several of the babies. As devout Russian Orthodox Christians, they refused. Varavara's father is an Orthodox priest.
A businessman friend of the family offered to pay for them to go to the UK for specialist care, and the babies - all girls- were born 14 weeks prematurely. They are doing well, and two of them are well enough to be able to be held by their parents. The Russian friend is underwriting all their medical expenses (which will be very considerable) and the parents' living expenses, so there is no burden on the UK government. Despite this, a number of people have commented on the story complaining about these "foreigners" being a drain on the British people. I am concerned that some people in Britain are obviously incapable of reading a story and understanding that in this case there is **no cost** involved to the British public.........

Personally, I find it utterly heartwarming that this young couple placed their trust in God and tried to give all their babies a chance at life. God grant them all Many Years !!!!

Full story - and more photos - here. I would not bother reading the comments :-)
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Thursday, December 27, 2007


Christmas Day started at 4am with the elephantine thuds of DD3 "tip-toeing" downstairs. This necessitated me getting up to haul her back to bed, as I had only finished wrapping the presents and gone to bed at midnight !
As a concession to her going back to her room (note - not back to bed!) I said she could open her stocking.

This was not a good move.

In her stocking was a Tamagotchi and a gameboy game of Stormbreaker. I know she played with both because I could hear them FOR HOURS. She wasn't noisy; it was just that the house was so quiet every noise was magnified a hundredfold.

I finally gave up and got up at 7am.
I was officially feeling like the Grinch. DH and DD4 got up - with prodding- at 8am to open presents.

I never really got into the Christmas spirit. I just felt flat, jaded, deflated, exhausted and cheesed off. I went through the motions, smiled, paid compliments and set up the Nativity icon and sang the Nativity hymn, but my heart wasn't truly in it, which distressed me no end. This feeling of spiritual malaise has plagued me since halfway through the Fast.

The children loved all their presents, and we headed off to my mum's for Christmas lunch and met up there with the older two daughters and their boyfriends(both of whom are absolute darlings, and I could not wish for my girls to have nicer boyfriends!)

My mum's elderly neighbour joined us for lunch and seemed to have a wonderful time. We were so glad to see him there as we would have hated to think of him being on his own on Christmas Day......

I ended up heading to bed at 8pm, feeling less tham stellar.

On Boxing Day there was a Liturgy at our priest's delightful garden chapel. Even going there, I dutifully kissed the icons and felt ..... flat. I had made my preparation prayers for Communion, but felt so bad that I had mentally decided I should not receive the Holy Gifts.

At this point I should mention that DD3's godmother and DD4's godmother were there, as well as a friend's little girl who was three years old. The children were incredibly well-behaved, and stood still throughout the Liturgy, joining in as much as they were able. My two made bee-lines for their beloved godmothers :-)

For our pre-communion hymn, we sang Adeste Fideles in honour of the Feast.

What finally broke the relentless and devastating stony hardness of my heart(and may God be richly praised for this) was hearing those three children sing their hearts out.

The adults present all made a point of falling silent as it came to each chorus of "O come let us adore Him...." so the only sound was of these three joyous and delightful innocents ages 3, 6 and 9, worshipping and praising God with all their hearts.

It made me cry, and that was the point when I felt that I should indeed approach the Chalice on this Feast, with great fear, trepidation and a childlike trust that God would accept me "just as I am", sinful and broken, lest I indeed fall prey to the ravening wolf of souls mentioned in the Communion prayers.

God was merciful to me and the joy of the Feast truly entered into my heart and soul. It was such a blessing to be able to go to this Liturgy, and it was only possible due to the loving kindness of my husband who willingly sacrificed his whole day to take me to Church because he knew how much it meant to me.

I am truly blessed.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

A blessed, joyous and Merry Christmas to you all :-)
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A Christmas Blessing

A wonderful visit from DD3's much-loved Godmother today !
DD3 is looking quite unnaturally demure :-)

Part of our extended Church family :-)
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Reindeer Feed

The annual reindeer feed of the deer herd at Margam Park on 23rd December.....
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Catching My Breath

This has been a roller-coaster week.

Today was the last day of school,and I have been at school for at least part of - if not the whole- day, every day this week and most of last, mostly in my capacity as a member of the Parents -Teachers Association.

We have wrapped 150 presents for Santa to give to the children when he visited; helped at the Nursery/Reception Nativity play, attended the Christmas Concert,and prepared refreshments for this afternoon's Karaoke party for the children.

Not to mention getting many our own presents wrapped at home before the children are around to see what I am doing :-)

I am now officially exhausted.
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rhydian as the Phantom

Rhydian singing "Phantom of the Opera" :-)

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More Rhydian

Rhydian singing with Welsh Diva Katherine Jenkins

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Rhydian Was Robbed

This is the man who **should** have won the UK's "X Factor 2007" competition -

Rhydian Roberts, singing O Night Divine.....

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our Stove

Our stove in action.
In this photo it is only burning logs, not the paper bricks. I will try to get photos of that soon :-)
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Last Lap

The kids have one more week of school left.

We have the Christmas Concert on Tuesday evening, Santa visits the school on Wednesday so I will be spending at least a large part of Monday and Tuesday helping to wrap the presents the school children will receive then.

Friday is the end of term Karaoke party in school. I can feel my toes curling in horror at the very thought of having to be present..........

On a happier note, we have booked our family ticket to go to Margam Park to see the big Reindeer Feed on Christmas Eve morning. They are really fallow and red deer, with a few very rare Pere David deer, but the children always love it, and it marks the onset of Christmas in our house :-)
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Making Paper Bricks

We decided to recycle our newspapers and generate heat at the same time :-)
First crumple a sheet of newspaper and soak it in water, then pack it firmly into the briquette maker mould.Repeat until the mould is full.
Next, place the draining weight on top and engage the handles. Several compressions later, the water has been squeezed out and the brick can be removed from the mould and left to dry thoroughly before it can be consumed in our wood-burning stove and make our log supply go further !

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Dawn at Fuschl

Webcam image of the dawn at Fuschl am See, Austria, this morning
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the Colorado shootings.

On her last visit to her fiance's parents, DoomHamster went with them to a Christmas service at the Colorado Springs church where the second attack took place.

When we heard the news, we immediately contacted them to make sure they were ok, as DoomHamster's fiance is currently visiting us over here for this Christmas, and all our minds were put at rest to hear that Matt's parents had not been present during the attack, neither had any of Matt and DommHamster's friends and acquaintances .

Lord have mercy on us all.
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Aieeeeee !!!

If you hear a stressed screaming noise in the distance, it is probably me.

1/ DH has had flu and been virtually bedbound for 6 days. Not to mention the disturbed nights shared by the whole family as a result of the coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing etc. He really has been very poorly. Mercifully he is on the mend today.

2/ DD4 woke up late Sunday night with a temperature so high you could practically fry eggs on her back. She had caught daddy's flu. She is now much better today and will hopefully be returning to the haunts of academe on Thursday.

3/ DD3 woke up today feeling ill. Luckily not with flu, and was well enough to come out with me when I took crazy dog for a short walk at teatime.

4/ Letter from school to say that DD4 needs an angel costume for the Christmas concert next week. And it needs to be handed in at school by Thursday. Yesterday I tried on her two old costumes; neither of them fit her. So that meant a half-hour walk to town today to search for one. I did find one, age 5-8.
Got it home and it is too long. So I spent a fair while tacking it up.

5/ DD4 brought her beloved "Kipper the dog" soft toy downstairs and left it unattended on the settee, despite me warning her not to put it down **anywhere**. Needless to say, Basil found it and chewed one ear off completely. The sobs were heart-rending, so whilst in town, I went to the craft shop and bought brown felt so I can make Kipper another ear.

6/ Dear Mother is now mercifully recovering from her gout, even though she is now on so much medication she rattles when she walks.
Yesterday she ventured out to town for the first time in ten days. At the supermarket, whilst she was waiting in line at the checkout, some bozo of an employee overstacked the baskets she was collecting from the checkout and they fell and collapsed against my mother's leg. Mum bled all over the place from the cut, and has now got some truly spectacular bruising. Not to mention the fact that it has really shaken her confidence about going out with help, and she has always been so fiercely independent. Ho hum.

On the good side - we completed all our Christmas shopping except for one person's gift and some stocking fillers for the young ones. Yippee !

Thank heavens for online shopping - with husband and children ill, there is no way I could have physically gone shopping !
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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bottle Tree

I saw this when web-browsing, and thought it was so pretty. Utterly impractical in houses with pets and small kids, but it made me smile :-)
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy St Nicholas' Day !

I know this is only just clocking in on St Nicholas' Day, but the wish for you all to have/have had a happy and blessed day is sincere.

I'm just logging in briefly as I have DH home ill with flu, and my mother has been stricken with an horrific attack of gout to add to her many other joint problems,and she cannot walk.
We are waiting on the results of blood tests, to see what medication she can have which will not interact with her many other necessary medications, so I have been with her all day to make sure she has eaten and been cared for..
Prayers would be much appreciated ! DoomHamster has a dental abscess and has had an unpleasant session at the dentist's too........

Tomorrow is the school's Christmas Fayre and I am muchly involved with that too, so tomorrow is likely to be bedlam, LOL.
See you soon.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Band -Aids

Small adhesive dressings for minor wounds are called Plasters here in the UK.
I know many other countries call them Band Aids.

What I had never seen before is Jesus plasters.
On EBay.
I kid you not.
I was hunting for novelty plasters, as it is a long running family joke for DD2 to have a pack of novelty plasters in her Christmas stocking.
She will NOT be getting Jesus plasters......
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Calendar Of Christmas Cookies

Not fasting compliant, but oh so scrummy :-)
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