Thursday, December 30, 2004

Christmas News

Dear friends,
I haven`t posted for a few days, as my DD1 gave me some news on Christmas Day, by phone from Colorado, which she wished to disclose to the rest of her family in person when she got back to the UK.....and of course, I was bursting to write about it, so it was safer NOT to blog, in case any of the family read it here first :-)

Having been sufficiently cryptic, and caused you all to fall asleep, I would like to announce that my eldest and beloved daughter is engaged to be married !
Matt popped the question and gave her a lovely diamond ring on Christmas Day, which was very romantic :-)

I have spoke to his mum, and his family are delighted, as are we.
We think Matt is a great young man, and they think DD1 is a wonderful young lady, so all parties are happy.

I feel so much better now I have written it.
Normal copious posts will follow over the next few days !
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Friday, December 24, 2004

The Feast Approaches......

The presents are wrapped, the kids are excited, and the house continues in chaos.
Ho hum.
We are now confined to four of us sleeping in one bedroom whilst the re-wiring continues apace, but in a day or two, we will have no lights in kitchen or bathroom either.(ie no ceiling or wall lights anywhere in the house !)
So we are celebrating the Feast in a similar way to folk 150 years ago, which is rather nice. In some ways, it makes Christmas more special, because it has removed the manic impetus to get the house decorated and perfect for Christmas visitors, rather than looking at the real meaning of the Feast...

Christ is Born !
Glorify Him !
The blessings of the Feast be yours :-)
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

This is DD4 inside the Ragdoll shop. It has fantastic themed play areas for the children and an awful lot of merchandise.....groan.Thank goodness they both had money from relatives for Christmas !
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This is myself and DD3 and 4 outside the famous Teddy Bear Museum....
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This is the other window of the Ragdoll shop, showing Tots TV
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This is the window decoration of the girls` favourite shop in Stratford, The Ragdoll Shop, home of the Teletubbies, Boobahs, Rosie and Jim, Brum and Tots TV...if you have young children, at least one or two of these will be familiar :-)
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I`mmmmmmmmmmmmm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack !

Stratford was just awesome :-)
This is the fourth time we have been to Stratford in the last two years, and we love it.
The hotel was super, scenery lovely, weather very very cold. Brr.
But we all had winter woollies !
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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Stratford, Here We Come !

We are off to beautiful Stratford upon Avon, home of William Shakespeare, on Sunday, for a three night break.
I have to say, I am looking forward to it - especially being able to turn on light switches in the hotel :-)

At home, work continues on the re-wiring, but it is a very messy and labour intensive task. I am finding the chaos , dust and the appalling mess just so stressful, I feel sick.

Add to that one 6 year old daughter who is so excited about Christmas that she is bouncing around like a demented mechanical toy, and a 3 year old who is now fully recovered from her illness and is her usual delightful, demanding, frustrating, argumentative self.

Also add the fact that I am sitting in near total darkness typing this, and that there is not a single light in the house adequate for me to read by, and my frustration reaches mega-heights. Deprive this woman of books, and you might as well be depriving me of breath...

I tried to pack stuff for the journey this evening.
Bad idea.
Have *you* ever tried packing by torchlight, when half the things you need are scattered in rooms all over the house, in weird places, because the bedrooms have been stripped of their contents so floorboards can be lifted ?
It`s a fruitless task, believe me . I have given up till daylight dawns tomorrow, and I can stand a sporting chance of finding essentials like underwear - oh, and shoes !

And I am missing my D1 !!!.
She has been away for six whole days. I am attempting to keep up a stiff upper lip, but I`m not doing a brilliant job, as you might have gathered.....

Speak to you all on Wednesday, folks !
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Friday, December 17, 2004

Normal Service Is Resumed

Well, nearly normal service :-)

D4 is finally recovering after a six day bout of high fever and no appetite, and has at last eaten something.
Admittedly we had to take her to the Domain of the Golden Arches to tempt her, after all else failed, but it was worth it . She wolfed down a bacon cheeseburger, hash brown and a large part of my pancakes with syrup.
It is so nice to see her eating again at last.

The next stop was the garden centre to buy a new artificial tree, but of course we got sidetracked and ended up buying a lovely 3 feet tall fibre-optic tree as well.
This wasn`t such a needless extravagance as it might seem, as we currently have no ceiling or wall lights in the living room due to the re-wiring, so we just have one bedside lamp plugged into the wall socket.

With the new fibre-optic tree and our ordinary Christmas tree with fairy lights, we have substantially increased the amount of light in the room.
At least that is our excuse and we are sticking to it :-)
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Nativity Play

The Nativity Play took place last night.
DH stayed at home with D4 who was still running a fever, so my mum and I went to see D3 being an angel.
The play itself was a modern re-telling of the classic Nativity narrative, and was beautifully done, with some super songs.

It made me decide to stop rushing around like a mad thing, trying to get my shopping and chores "done" for Christmas. After all, what was truly necessary has been done for us, glory to God.
It was a blessing to have attended it.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Eagle Has Landed .....

I`ve **always** wanted to be able to write that :-)

DD1 phoned me at 01.12 am UK time to let me know she had landed at Denver safe and sound, and met up with Matt and Lisa at the airport too. I was delighted to hear her sound so happy.
So everything went well for her, Glory to God !

D4 is still running a fever, at 40.3 C but seems quite bright. She is drinking plenty of fluids, though she doesn`t have much appetite as yet. Ho hum.
I do hope she feels better soon, or I shall cancel our 4 day trip to Stratford upon Avon on Sunday. It would be no fun for her at all if she is still feeling poorly.
When you feel ill, there`s no place like home, is there ?
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Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Well, my baby left for London at 04.00, and her plane was due to leave Heathrow at 12.55. I checked on the BA website and her flight left a few minutes late.

It seems so strange not to hear her clattering through the front door shouting "Mum, I`m home!" after she gets home from college.

Sniff, sniff. And yes, I did cry all the way home in the car, after waving her off on the coach to Heathrow !
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Sunday, December 12, 2004


D1 leaves for London at 04.00 tomorrow.
Last night she was ill, but is now feeling a bit better.
Today DH is we didn`t end up getting to Liturgy.
At least D4 is *much* better today, thank God.
Asking the intercessions of St Spyridon for their ailments, and for D1`s safe travel to the USA....
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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Home Front News

It`s tummy bug time again....sigh.
DD3 and 4 have both had it in the last few days, hence the lack of posts !
They are recovering, but whether my poor washing machine will ever recover is another question.......

We are preparing for D1`s imminent departure over the Pond to the USA for Christmas.
She leaves in the early hours of Monday morning to travel to Heathrow Terminal 4 by coach, which is a 4 and 1/2 hour journey to start off with.
I am going to miss her *so* much.

D2 is already sulking because she doesn`t want her sister to go as she will miss her so much. DD3 and 4 won`t get upset till they say goodbye and realise it really is going to happen :-(

As long as our small people are better, we will be going to Liturgy on Sunday en famille, and Father will read the blessing prayers for a journey over D1, who is a catechumen, and bless her new icon of St Tatiana of Rome (her patron) which she is taking on the plane with her, as well as her beloved icon of St Nicholas, Protector of Sailors.
I am starting to be tearful already, so I will stop typing and blow my nose :-)
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Thoughts About Prayer

This thoughtful gem was posted on a non-O mailing list to which I subscribe, and I thought I would share it ....

I asked for Strength - and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom - and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity - and God gave me brain and brawn to work.
I asked for Courage - and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for Love - and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for Favours - and God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted...and everything I needed.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Nativity Play News

There was dissent in the ranks of the parents picking up children at school today.......each family is limited to three tickets for the Nativity Play, and these will cost £1.50 each.
Apparently the money raised will go towards underwriting the cost of special events for the children at the end of term, but we don`t yet know what the events are.
Hmmmmm. I am intrigued.

I still think three tickets per family is miserly. My mother , my husband, D4 and myself will all want to watch, and that makes four of us. If my ex-husband (D3`s father) and my other daughter want to go, I can see World War 3 being a possibility.
Ironically, the Baptist Church where it will be held can hold at least a thousand people in the pews, and there are only 180 children in the school.
The reason given for number rationing is the need to adhere to Fire Safety Regulations, although there will be no naked flames, no candles, (they`re not Orthodox, after all !) and there are no less than three separate exit doors around the Church. Not to mention the fact that the Fire station is less than one minute away.....

Peace on Earth...
except when choosing which members of the family can go to the Nativity Play !
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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

St Nicholas ....

Yesterday, the girls enjoyed their St Nicholas Day gifts.
On Sunday night, they each placed one of their shoes by the living room fireplace, before evening prayers.
On Monday morning, each found a bag of chocolate coins in gold foil, and the young ones had a copy of the Life of St Nicholas in verse for youngsters.
Larger people received a copy of the new 2005 St Herman Calendar.
We read the story of the Life of St Nicholas, and talked about it too.
It was lovely.
Next Year I hope to add a small service in honour of St Nicholas.
Eventually I hope to build up to the Akathist to St Nicholas..........

Our town at last has another Orthodox Christian, who celebrated her Name Day, and we met together for the first time.
Many years to the Handmaiden of God, Nicola !!
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Monday, December 06, 2004

Bird of the week

Introducing a new feature :-)

Bird of the week

The most interesting bird to be seen in my garden this last week has been a lovely Grey wagtail, which appeared much to my surprise !
These birds tend to live in hilly areas, particularly where there is running water, as they are insect-eaters.
Quite what this dear little bird thought might be of interest in my garden, I am not sure, but I am so pleased that it decided to visit me.......
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A photo of a Grey Wagtail which I found on the web; I wasn`t quick enough to grab my camera and snap the actual bird in my garden !
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A Very Sad State of Affairs

Matt commented that he thought Britain would be more of a Christian country than it appears to be.
The Queen is the Head of the Church of England, and nominally Britain is a Christian country, yet in many areas, council-run public facilities such as Libraries are not allowed to display posters advertising Christian events or services in case they offend non-Christians who may use the facilities.......

Britain has become a nation of people where 48% of the population claims to be Christian, yet the churchgoing proportion of the populace is only 7.5%.
That`s right, 7.5%

A poll run by New Scientist magazine in 2002 found that 55% of the people surveyed do not believe in a Higher Being (ie God)

In 1984, there were 111,248 weddings in the Church of England, in 1994 this had dropped down to 86,000.....only a third of all weddings performed that year.
Between 1990 and 2000, the Church of England`s number of Sunday communicants dropped by 18%.
Even more worryingly,
"A report on youth published for the General Synod Board of Education in 1996, which says that 'the total Sunday attendance at Anglican Churches amongst 14- to 17-year-olds is 60,739', a drop of 34.9 per cent since 1987. [...] If the same rate continues to apply, there may be no young people at all in the Church in twenty years time. The report goes on to say that this does not just apply to church services - a similar drop has also been observed in church organisations."
C of E: The State It's In by Monica Furlong, p210.

The lack of knowledge amongst the non-churchgoers who profess to believe in Christianity is quite frightening; in 2003 a survey found that only 55% could name even one of the four Gospel books, whereas 60% could correctly identify the sacred book of Islam as the Koran.

Many folk say they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and know the Lord`s Prayer, but that is probably as much as they do know. I know quite a few people who honestly think that even if you never set foot in church or say a prayer, as long as you haven`t actually killed anyone, you are going to be let into Heaven because Jesus is a good guy and wouldn`t keep anyone out of Heaven unless they are really evil, like Hitler.......

For lots more statistics, check out

It is quite sobering reading.
Interestingly, Orthodoxy is identified as having a continuing growth in numbers from 196,850 members in 1975 up to 275,805 in 1992 . I am sure that more recent statistics would show a greater increase again.

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Countdown to Christmas

We have a beautiful Advent calendar this year; it is an icon of the Mother of God of Tenderness, with twenty-four windows forming the frame of the icon.
Behind each window is a snippet from the Magnificat, which gives D3 and I something fresh to talk about each day :-)

The two young ones also have a chocolate Advent Calendar each, which has a Nativity Scene.
True to form, Abby has ripped hers to shreds and devoured the chocolates already, but D3 is rather more disciplined at the age of six and half, and opens hers daily.
I have to say, I wish I were that disciplined !

Patience is **not** one of my virtues, as any member of my family will affirm.
Which brings to mind a little rhyme which I have sung with all my children...
"Patience is a virtue,
Virtue is a grace,
Grace is a little girl who doesn`t wash her face!"

They may not understand it, but it always makes them smile :-))
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Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas is Coming...Oops, "Season" is Coming

I have had to buy clothes for D3`s Nativity Play.
She is going to be an angel (!), and this year, the angels are going to be bright angels in multi-coloured clothes.
So a bright non-logo`ed T-shirt and black trousers are the order of the day:-)

I am counting our blessings that the school is run by a Christian head, and that we still have a Nativity Play, because the way multi-cultural Britain is headed, soon it may be compulsory to have a Seasons Greetings concert in order to promote cultural inclusivity, or some such politically correct drivel.

It really upsets me the way that just about every culture or faith or belief must be respected offically in Britain, but Christianity is a fair target for criticism, hostility, blame and outright derision by Authority.
Christianity could at least be afforded the same level of respect as other Faiths in Britain......
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On Wednesday night, I had a really unpleasant dream.
I dreamt that I was in London, with people who were obviously my work colleagues in that scenario, although I have never met them in real life.
Not far from St Margaret`s Church , Westminster, (pretty much next door to the Houses of Parliament) we heard a noise, looked up, and saw a helicpter with damaged rotor, spinning wildly out of control, whilst dropping a black canister of what looked like poison gas, before crashing.
At the end of the dream, I was summoned to describe to Sir John (some bigwig in a tall office building) what I had seen......
It was such a vivd dream that I woke up terrified.

Please God that London will not be the focus for terrorist attacks in the run-up to Christmas, when there will be so many people sightseeing and shopping...........
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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Mum`s Memories

I went up to my Mum`s for lunch today, and she started to reminesce about her early married life...... she and my Dad married when she was 17, and my brother was born when she was 21.
Mum and Dad`s first married Christmas was in a pit house in a mining village in South Wales.

The Mines owned a large number of houses, and rented them out to the pit workers. (My Dad worked underground digging coal, a dangerous and unhealthy job which precipitated health problems which eventually killed him, but that is another story.)

Mum and Dad could not afford to buy a Christmas tree, so Dad went out into the woods, cut a huge branch off a holly tree, and filled a bucket of frozen earth from the garden to put it in.
Mum decorated the tree with a few precious blue glass baubles, and they sat on the sofa, admiring their "tree" all evening.
The next morning, to Mum`s horror, the tree was on the floor and the glass baubles all smashed.
Dad hadn`t thought about what would happen if the branch was wedged in frozen earth which was then left overnight in a room with a coal fire ! Once the earth de-frosted, the bucket was full of mushy mud which couldn`t support the weight of the branch, and disaster struck.

As Mum said, life was tough then, but they appreciated every material possession they owned, and were thankful for them........

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I am reading a truly wonderful book about St John Maximovitch of San Francisco at the moment.
One contributor remarked that he vividly recalls seeing St John lovingly venerate and make a prostration before each icon in the Cathedral before leaving after each service, and when reaching home, he would, on entering his study, venerate each icon there too, as an act of love and devotion to God and His saints.
What devotion, reverence and respect !! And what awareness of the presence of God and the company of Heaven in his life..............

The book is Man of God, published by Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society. It is a collection of people`s encounters with St John, with a collection of his sermons and an account of the uncovering of his relics.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tummy Tales

D3`s tummy bug, which appeared to have resolved, has now reappeared...last night she was sick again, so today has been another day of starvation and clear fluids for her.
She seems ok now, and eager to get back to school tomorrow, so she must be feeling better :-)

On the other hand, I am exhausted, with less than 5 hours unbroken sleep in 48 hours.
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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Crazy Days.

It has been a mixed few days....D3 had a fleeting 24 hour tummy bug, which was most unpleasant while it lasted, but she is better now.
D4 has suddenly decided that perhaps this talking business is quite fun after all, and has started to be more communicative.
DH continues to work on the house, and the re-wiring is proceeding slowly.

The one bedroom we have been using as a store-room turns out to be the one which all the electric cables originate from, so we have spent a few days emptying that room so we can lift the floor boards up......So, out of our four bedrooms, two are empty and with floorboards up, and the six of us are crammed into two rooms :-)
At least it keeps us warm, LOL.

The stuff stored in the one bedroom is now all in the dining room, so we have had to put our table and chairs in the kitchen for the time being.
The plan was for my parents to come to us for Christmas Dinner, but that has had to be abandoned in the face of the great wiring disaster, and we are all going up my parents` instead.

We are busy getting ready for D1`s big trip across the pond to Denver, Co, to spend Christmas with her boyfriend`s family. It will be so strange without baby - sob sob. I think I will end now, before I start to blub.......

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

A snippet from "Journey to the Kingdom"

I have read this wonderful book by Fr John Mack several times, and I gain more from it each time I read it.
This is particularly appropriate for me at the moment....

From Chapter 1
"The day that God is rude to me is the day that I can be rude to somebody else.
The day the God is unforgiving to me is the day that I may refuse to forgive someone else.
The day that God condemns me is the day that I may condemn someone else.
The day that God treats me the way I deserve to be treated is the day that I may treat someone else the way he or she deserves to be treated.

Until that time comes - and it never will come - then I am to treat others the exact same way that God has treated me.
If God has forgiven me, then I must forgive them.
If God has been kind to me , then I must be kind to them.
If God has lent to me, then I must lend to them, asking nothing in return.
Even as He has done that for you, then you must do it for your wife and your husband and your friends and your family.

"Be merciful, even as your Father in heaven is merciful"
End quote.

It brings a whole new perspective on Do unto others as you would have others do unto you., doesn`t it ? If we ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and yet we in fact fail to forgive others, what a dreadful condemnation and punishment we are calling down upon ourselves.
Sobering Thoughts indeed.....
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Thoughts on Hell

Yesterday, I read a truly awesome post on Hell by Reader Nectarios, over on The Cracked Mirror blog.
I strongly urge you to visit and read

It gave me an awful lot of food for thought, particularly the bit about how we close our hearts even to those we love most.
I think today is being one of those days for me.
Lord, have mercy !

I am amazed at how prolificaly profound so many of you are with your blogs; I just chatter about my life :-)
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Happy Thanksgiving

A very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving feast to all my Blog friends over the Water !!
God bless you all :-)
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Dislocation of Time

In our town , quite a few of the houses have their outside Christmas decorations up already.

We always have Advent calendars for the girls, and we celebrate St Nicholas` Day with delight.
I tend to put our tree up a few days before the Nativity, along with our old and much-loved Crib, and we enjoy the anticipation of it all the more for celebrating Advent.

It just seems wrong when the shops are stocking Christmas decorations in August, and the Easter eggs appear at the beginning of January - the seasons are all awry..........
Although we are on the new Calendar, it seems as though we are all out of step with the secular world nevertheless :-)
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Fasting Feelings

The fast is growing on me :-)

One the positive side:-
I feel calmer, more focused, less avaricious and greedy, a bit more loving. A teeny bit closer to the person God intends me to be, I suppose.
I am enjoying my fasting food, which is tasting delicious now I am eating less and feeling properly hungry.

On the negative side :-
I have only had one frantic chocolate binge, which I have to say, I didn`t really enjoy, and immediately wished I hadn`t given into.
One day I will conquer my chocolate cravings.......
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Monday, November 22, 2004

The View

Last night`s rain has dried up, and the sun is shining.
It is a glorious day :-)

Surprisingly, the view from my garden window is still very green ! The honeysuckle flowers in the arbour have faded, but the plant is still sporting bright green foliage.
The creeper which produces blue/violet flowers is showing dark bottle green leaves, and the variegated ivies in the garden are evergreens anyway.

The mint in the herb garden is withering for the winter, but the other herbs are going strong still.
We will have loads of fresh sage and thyme to make stuffing/forcemeats for Christmas and the New Year.

Really, it is only the apple and plum trees which have completely lost their leaves.
In the lawned part of the garden, the cotoneaster has a huge crop of red and orange berries, which the birds will enjoy when the bitter weather sets in earnest, bringing the redwings and fieldfares down south to us.

I am laughing whilst I write this , as I can hear the budgies playing and chirping in their cage........they have the biggest cage we could buy, to give them maximum flying room until we tame them enough for them to be let out to fly free in the house for a while each day. It is amazing to think that in Australia, you can see flocks of thousands of these lovely little birds roaming free. It must be an amazing sight :-)

This is the day that the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it...... !!
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Saturday, November 20, 2004


The budgies are settling in well, and they are a delight !

Our new sofas arrived yesterday, and they are really comfortable, exactly what we had been looking for. It is noce to be able to sit down again :-)

The weather here is awful, torrential rain and bitterly cold. Brr. Winter in earnest..........
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Friday, November 19, 2004

Secret Ballot

Yesterday, we had two new arrivals !
After the council had come and taken our sofa away, leaving us with no seats in the living room for 24 hours, DH said that he had always wanted a budgie, so could we go and get one ?
It wasn`t much of a surprise, as we have been talking of getting the children another pet for the last few weeks, and visiting the pet stores to see what was available.

We already have a tortoise (my own childhood pet) and a cat, and we had eliminated chipmunks as they are so active and need a huge cage. Fish are nice to watch, but not terribly interactive.
So DH decided he really, really, wanted a budgie.

So off to the garden centre we went, and saw a wonderful choice of baby budgies just come from the breeder. We ended up getting two, so they would be company for each other and also so that the two younger offspring wouldn`t argue about whose bird it was.......

A large part of yesterday was spent ooh-ing and aah-ing over these two exceptionally pretty little birds, and debating names.
D1 wanted Sid and Nancy.

D3 wanted initially Annaliese and Erica from the new Barbie film :-(
but then decided on Mary and Joseph , as they are rehearsing the School Nativity Play.

D4 just grinned ectstatically and said "Birdies".

DH wanted Tony and Cherie (after the Prime Minister and his wife. Aaaagh !) Or Tom and Jerry.

I wanted Shrek and Fiona, as one of them is bright green.

We could not reach agreement, so we had a secret ballot, and D3`s choice of Mary and Joseph the green one is Mary, and the white one is Joseph.
They seem to have settled in well, and are chirping happily and eating.
Photo will follow soon :-)
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Keeping up with the Bloggers

Although I do like using Bloglines to keep track of the 50+ blogs I read regularly, I do find one drawback...............
I do tend to just read the entries as they appear on Bloglines, which means I miss the comments unless I physically go onto each site individually.
I do check out the comments at Nee people and Doxos very regularly, and that is how I found the latest treasure, of Orthodox fasting recipes from Christina on her new blog at
Hi Christina :-))))))))))
Welcome to Blogworld !
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

My Stomach and The Fast

Why is fasting soooo hard ?
Every ten minutes, I feel my stomach calling me ......
"Yoo-hoo, I quite fancy something tasty down here !!"

I know I don`t need the food or drink, it is just that I am so used to pandering to the whims of my gluttonous nature that I heed the call and obey without thinking - until it`s fasting time again :-)

My feeble attempts at observing the food fast go unobserved by my stomach for oh, all of an hour, I suppose.
Then the inner call from stomach-land grows louder and more querulous, and then I start to be tempted by thoughts like "one treat won`t hurt" and "Why am I doing this ? It is making me angry and I don`t want to do it, so there ! " and the best of all, the rationalisation ......

"The Fast is to help me overcome my passions, but I resent the physical discipline, which in turn makes me grumpy and snappy with my family, which in turn makes me angry, which is in fact inflaming my passions which just must prove that Fasting is bad for me as an individual, so it must be better for me and for my family if I don`t fast "

The truth is, that if my greed and gluttony were not so deeply entrenched in my body and soul`s bad habits, I would not find myself so aggrieved at the apparent privations of the Fast.
After all, I am having breakfast, lunch and evening meal, plus drinks. What on earth do I have to complain about , when there are places in Africa where they are lucky to get a single cupfull of rice each day?

What it boils down to is the fact that I like eating fancy food, treats, sweets, tasty food whenever I am bored, lonely, fed up or just plain peckish. Food has become my comfort, not a necessity . Plain fasting food doesn`t have the same WOW factor as a bar of chocolate does.

If I spent half as much time each day praying as I do stuffing my face full of food that I don`t really need, my soul would be healthier and so would my body..........

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Lentil Miscellany

There are still some summer plants in my garden which are continuing to produce flowers !
Haven`t they realised it`s halfway through November ? Poor things are climactically confused......

I have just decided that I want lentil soup for tea.
Problem is, I don`t have any lentils at home, and there is now no time to go to town and buy some before I have to head to school to pick up D3 and her schoolfriend who is coming to tea with us.
There is plenty of non-fasting food in the freezer, which will be OK for our guest, but not much for me :-)
Looks like it will have to be garbanzo and tomato sauce with pasta .
I think garbanzos taste more like meat than meat does, but that is probably just me......

I have contacted the delivery people to arrange for the arrival of our new sofas on Friday, and the council to arrange the disposal of our old ones.
There is a day`s discrepancy, which means we will be chairless for 24 hours, but we still have the floor, and cushions, and if all else fails, the beds :-0
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Bird Antics

My daily visitor, the robin redbreast, continues to delight me with his antics.
He is now visiting the garden several times a day for food......

I have hung a seed bell and strings of nuts as well, and one young jackdaw has reduced me to hysteria with his attempts to eat them . He is a large bird, and does not have the perching/climbing ability that seed and nut eaters naturally *do* have.
He persists in trying to walk sideways down the pole to where the seed bell is hung, and everytime he falls off, caws with annoyance, and flies off to peck up scraps of bread which he can reach.
I feel so sorry for him that I am going to buy some loose nuts and seeds and scatter them in the courtyard so he can stand safely on the ground and peck them up.....though it isn`t his natural food.
I just hope it won`t give him a stomach-ache !
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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Family Matters

Today, we went to visit family.
More specifically, we went to drop a "Good Luck" card to our step-nephew, Chris, who is joining the army on Monday. Chris was over his grandparents, so we spent a nice hour chatting to DH`s brother, partner and little girl who is a little younger than D4.
From there, we went to my mother-in-law`s, and we took her out for lunch.
It went about as well as a meal out with two wildly excited children aged 6 and 3 could go..........I`m sure you get the picture :-0
Put it this way, since we got home from our 45 minute drive, DH has retired to bed for a sleep in the dark, and I have put Shrek 2 on the DVD player so I can write this :-)

My heart goes out to my sister-in-law, whose son Chris is only 16. It must be really hard to watch him go away for his basic training , and know that when he finishes, he will be signing up for Army life and could be posted anywhere in the world, including the arena of conflict in Iraq, shortly afterwards.
Please remember Chris and his family in your prayers.
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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Mission Accomplished

Well, DH and I are now the proud possessors of two adjacent burial plots, namely section 4, row B, plots 14 and 15.
The deed was done yesterday, the cheque was signed and we await our deeds from the Council`s Legal and Technical Dept.

DH wants to photograph the plots soon, so undoubtedly I will post a picture :-)
They are in a nice spot in the old section of the cemetery, with well-tended plots around, they are close to the path, the water tap and a bench. There is even a nearby tree.
Every amenity for the visitor :-)

It feels reassuring, satisfying , but....slightly strange.
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Friday, November 12, 2004

Double-Glazing Evangelism

Today I did my first piece of explaining to a non-Orthodox what we believe :-)
A representative from the company that did our double-glazing last month called today to do a customer satisfaction survey, and when he had finished, he nodded towards the icon corner and explained he was a lapsed Catholic, and his brother was a RC priest.
He wanted to know what the difference was between the RC Church and the Orthodox, so we had a very interesting and good-humoured discussion about the differences.
A nice man, and I enjoyed the discussion.
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Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Perils of Growing Old

I went up my mum`s for lunch today. I met her in town, and we all caught the bus together to her house, which is about a ten-minute ride.

On the bus was one of her acquaintances, Mr P, an elderly, infirm gentleman in his eighties, who is now sadly almost completely blind. He is a a dear, kind, gentle soul, a true gentleman, who seems to bring out the very best in almost everyone who comes into contact with him.
I say almost everyone, because last year, he was prey to some ,uh , " people" whom I would categorise as low-life scum.

They knocked at the door of his house, where he lives alone, telling him they were gardeners and had noticed that his garden was becoming overgrown, and would he like them to do some work for him. Being as his sight is so very poor, he can no longer use any power tools or mowers etc, and he agreed. They did several hours work and conned him out of a thousand pounds, which he could very ill-afford. A local gardening firm would have charged about £50.
How anyone could do such a despicable thing to an ill and elderly person defeats me........

Today, there was a new young bus driver, who stopped the bus right where Mr P needed to get off the bus right at the kerbside and made sure Mr P got safely across the road to his home before continuing the bus journey, *and* he told Mr P to take care.
It was a pleasure to see such a kind and considerate bus driver, may he always be so helpful and compassionate :-)
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Female Thing

My male readers may wish to skip this post...

Do any of my female reader -friends find that their religious "thermostat" varies according to their monthly cycle ?
I don`t know whether it is because I am creeping up to menopause, but I am finding that my desire and need for prayer does seem to vary according to my monthly cycle......quite weird.
Or perhaps it is just me, and there are folk who think I am weird anyway ! :-)
My DH says he could never have coped with being a woman.............
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Now that the weather has become colder, I have started feeding my garden birds. Problem is, the birds didn`t seem to notice the food - for days and days !
In fact, I had far fewer birds in the garden than normal.....go figure !
I hung a seed bell up, and have started putting food out, and I didn`t see any birds for days. Then suddenly, yesterday, word obviously got round the bird community that there was FREE FOOD !
And my garden was filled with birds. It was and is great :-)
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Electric Shocks

DH and I are not happy campers at the moment.
We have just discovered that our house, which we thought had fairly new wiring, has in fact got extremely old and badly-done wiring..................
We moved in Feb 2004 and noticed occasional flickering of the ceiling lights.

We thought nothing of it, till DH decided to decorate one of the bedrooms and install nice metal wall lights. While he was channeling out the plaster for the wiring, he made the nasty discovery that we have the oldfashioned two-core wiring with no earth.
Now, you cannot have metal light fittings with this sort of wiring, as it can build up a charge enough to electrocute anyone who touches the metal light fitting, eg whilst changing a light bulb, even if the light is switched off at the wall.

Guess what we have downstairs ? Five sets of metal light fittings that were here when we moved in !
It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we have not been electrocuted........
No wonder the lights have been flickering !!!

The problem is, we have an extremely full four bedroom house. The house is going to need a complete re-wire, and to do this will involve emptying all the rooms and lifting up floor-boards. Not fun, especially with the number of books in our house.
Quite where we are going to put all the stuff, I have no idea. And with Christmas coming up.
And the cost, which will be approx £4,000 sterling. Very big gulp.
Actually, cancel the gulp..........just insert tears.

The house is going to be virtually unlivable in for an extended period of time, and now DH is thinking about doing it himself, which will take months and mean doingwithout electricity in whatever part of the house he is working on. He will do an extremely good and competent job, as he has re-wired two previous houses, but it means we will see very little of him for months.
I would rather pay someone to do it, and have a husband :-)
He would rather do it and not have to pay 4K, even though a professional would probably get it done within two weeks.
It has been a bit of a blow, I must admit. We could do without the stress, hassle and expense at the moment.
But at least we are all ok.

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Grave Thoughts

DH and I have been discussing our respective wishes for funerals during the last week.
As he is only 38 and I am only 40, some folk might consider this premature, but it is something that we have actually been discussing at intervals since his father passed away very suddenly last year, only three weeks after we had travelled up to see him. His father hadn`t even reached pension-claiming age (65 in the UK).

DH`s family have all been fans of cremation, as indeed have most of mine, and both my mum and step-father want to be cremated, as does DH`s mum. DH`s initial reaction was that he wanted to be cremated too, but when I held out very firmly for burial, he said he wanted to be with me, so he would be buried too.
I thought this was terribly sweet :-)

This week DH said he has been thinking about it a lot, and wanted to know how much a burial plot would cost and whether we could pick one I phoned the local council and spoke to the very helpful burials officer.

To reserve a single plot (which would hold three coffins, with extra space for up to 8 caskets of cremated remains) is £455 if we choose a plot in the current line of excavations in the lawned section. The only drawback is that there are very tight restrictions about the size of headstone, and it would not be possible to have a vault within the plot.

If we want more latitude with regard to having a vault, and a headstone with curbstones around the perimeter of the plot, we would need to have a plot in the older section of the grave yard which would cost £547.
The costs of reserving or buying plots will be going up again in the next financial year starting April 1st 2005; last year the costs rose by 20% and it is expected the price rise will be similar next year. Buy now, save money !!

DH is keen to buy two adjacent plots, so that the children could opt to be buried next to us, as his father did in his family grave, so this will limit our options as the older section is quite full and it might be difficult to find space for two graves. The burials officer will be contacting us next week to arrange a site meeting at the graveyard and show us what is available.

It would be nice to get it sorted, so we will know that the children will not have to worry about the arrangements. I will also be able to go there, sit and contemplate where my body will be awaiting the Resurrection of the Dead, and pray .................
I don`t know what it is about reaching 40, but it sure has raised my awareness of my mortality, and how fleeting our existence truly is..............
Lord, have mercy !
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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bonfire Night

Yes, I know this is being written the following day, but DH and I have enforced a strict "limited TV and computer use" policy which is being enforced most strongly by DH against me :-)
I admit I am a computerholic, and now is the perfect time to discipline myself, with Nativity fast approaching.
I am allowed one hour per day on the computer, which doesn`t go very far with mailing lists and blog reading !

Anyway.....last night was Bonfire Night, so I took D3 to the firework display whilst DH stayed home with D4 who
a/ does not like crowds and
b/ does not like loud noises.
So they stayed home and watched Shrek 2 ( If you haven`t seen it, run and get it. It is hilarious)

D3 and I had a great time; there were stalls selling hot dogs and beefburgers, chips, fudge, candyfloss, sweets....drool. I did resist the non-fasting stuff, but did allow myself a packet of sweets. D3 chose a lighting up spinning globe toy,which was lovely, so we got one for her little sister too.
Out of our town population of 18,000, there were 4,000 people at the display which was organised by the town`s fire brigade and the money raised at collections went to local charities.
The cost of the fireworks was £1,500, and the display lasted 10 minutes, but it was wonderful. The crowd was oohing and aaahing constantly, and it was nice to see that good fun could be had without TV, computer games etc.
The only drawback ? I missed DH and little one :-(
Never mind, next year she may well enjoy it as she will then be, how time flies !
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Friday, November 05, 2004

Crazy Day

I am exhausted.
Up at 06.00am with D3, made her packed lunch and got her safely off to school.
DH and I left the house at 09.30 to get the brakes mended on the car, so while that was being done, we went to McDonald`s for breakfast :-)
Of course, the hour that we were told to wait before picking up the car ended up with us having to wait an additional 50 minutes because the car wasn`t ready.
We finally got on the road at 12.10, and drove to my brother-in-law`s to give him his birthday present.
Then we went to my mother-in-law`s house.
On the way back we had to go to the DIY store for DH to pick up some things he needs. Then to Tesco`s to get some urgent groceries, as we had one of D3`s schoolfriends for tea whilst his parents went to a funeral.
Then to town so DH could pick up his mum`s house deeds from the solicitor`s, then to pick up the little ones from school.
We finally got home at 4.10 pm. Then it was time to cook tea, tidy up, play w ith the kids, and write this now at 7.23 pm.......
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ - thunk (sound of head hitting keyboard, LOL )
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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Election Time

Ours is a very happy household now that Bush has won the election.
My DD1 has blogged about the election at length at

The only voice of dissent is my DH, who is a died in the wool Labour supporter, who thinks Tony Blair is the best thing to happen to the UK and that John Kerry is a good man.
There again, my DH loves to play Devil`s advocate just to allow opinions opposite to my own some free speech..........

Of course, I`m not really an opinionated character - I do allow others to hold to their opinions, even when I Know they are wrong :-)

Just roll on the projected UK election in Feb 2005..........Time to get Blair OUT, folks !
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Psalm 22

The children are engrossed watching Shrek 2 on DVD, which was released in the UK today.
We saw it in the cinema and enjoyed it so much that we had to buy it on DVD.
It also gives me chance to write my blog without constant interruptions :-)

I spoke to my priest last night, and he advised that if I should meet this lady from the Baptist church again, it would be appropriate to point out to her that when Jesus said on the cross "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me" it was indeed a cry of sadness , grief and pain, but also the opening of Psalm 22, which every Jewish man who attended synagogue would have known.

That Psalm is a prophetic psalm, relating to the Messiah, and every Jew present would have known that. It would have graphically called to their minds the enormity of what was happening, and was also a Psalm of triumph at its end.

For Christ to have prayed the psalm whilst hanging on the Cross is just mind-blowing. It certainly did not mean God forsook Him because He bore all our ugly sins and became unfit to look upon........which is a relief to me :-)
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004


You know, I am *still* pondering last night.
I am still shaking my head in disbelief at what was said, and wondering whether I should have said something about my concerns to the speaker privately after the event was over.
I was too chicken to do it, because these folk actively evangelise door-to-door, and are very good at on the spot memorised Bible verses and exegesis. I am not good at verbal sparring.
Not to mention the fact that my daughter and I were invited guests on *their* property , at *their* event.
I know I would not be very happy if the roles were reversed.........

It`s "Ask yer priest" time, as dear Huw-Raphael says :-)
I can at least pray for them all :-)
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Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween- or, Jesus as Superhero

I was unable to access the computer last night as DH was busy re-installing software......hopefully our dvd drive will now work :-)

I think I have mentioned before that D3`s school has close links with the local Baptist church due to the assistant pastor`s two sons attending there. His eldest son is in D3`s class. They are a lovely family, very friendly.
Just before half-term, D3 came home from school with an invitation card from the Baptist church inviting her to their anti-Halloween party, or as they called it, a Superhero party. Fancy dress was allowed, but no Halloween costumes eg ghosts, wizards, ghouls,Frankenstein, Satan etc. Another child who goes to the Baptist Sunday School informed my daughter that anyone who celebrates Halloween will go to hell.

I have never been a fan of trick or treating, and have never allowed my daughters to do it. The most we have done is just had an old-fashioned children`s party, with bobbing apples, toffee apples, guessing games and food.

Needless to say, D3 was keen to go to the party, and as DH volunteered to look after D4 so I could take her, I went..... (Actually, I think DH reckoned that one rowdy toddler is a lot less stressful than attending a party with 40 noisy school-age children :-) )
Including D3, there were 4 children from her school, but not the assistant pastor`s two sons (!), and the majority of attendees were from the Baptist church Sunday School.

D3 did enjoy it, but I have to say, I felt uncomfortable.
I have been Orthodox for 13 years, and I just love our liturgical hymns. To listen to guitar and synthesiser -led clap-hands hymns just doesn`t appeal to me any more. ..........they sounded flat and barren of depth and meaning. They just didn`t seem like worship.
The kind folks who put on the party were thoroughly enjoying the songs, with their hands in the air and singing their hearts out, and I sat in a corner, mentally singing the Trisagion and wishing desperately I had brought my prayer rope with me.

They did have some really brilliant fun games for the children, and and presentations about superheroes, including Superman, David and Moses, along with a OHP presentation of how they lived up to Salvation, Sacrifice, Supernatural powers, Strength and Weakness.
At the end, the children had to vote for one of the three superheroes, with most votes going to David for beating Goliath, Moses being second (D3 voted for Moses, I think mainly due to loving the Prince of Egypt dvd!) and Superman trailing behind.

Then another Superhero was brought up for consideration - Jesus.
When the vote was recast, Jesus was the winner, but I was mega-concerned about what the children were told about Jesus by one of the helpers......
The fact that Jesus died on the Cross to save us - great.
The fact that Jesus defeated death and rose again - great.
The fact that Jesus *killed* the Devil ? Um, I don`t think daily life is abundant witness to the fact that the devil is alive and well and succeeding in tempting me on at least an hourly basis....

I was really concerned that they were told that because God is All-Holy, He could not bear look at how ugly Jesus became when He carried all our sins on the Cross , so God the Father turned his back on this ugly Jesus and forsook Him. Also that God cannot bear to look on anything that case, there is no hope for me !

So tonight I will be phoning my priest, and asking his advice how to counter these ideas that have been put in D3`s head. Big sigh.

One thing which did surprise me was a game where they had two children pillow-fighting on a plank. The plank was raised off the ground by - what *do * you think ? Bricks ?
No. The plank was raised off the ground by Bibles, which the children were standing on.
I always thought the Protestant denomnations had such reverence for the Scriptures ?
I just thought about our Gospel book, enthroned on the Holy Table in Church, and kissed and treated with great reverence . There was just no comparison.

One of the other parents who attends the church, turned to me and said "This is how it should be in Church ...Fun !"
I was speechless. Mercifully there was a call for silence at that point, so I couldn`t reply. Perhaps I should have........

Lord, have mercy upon me for my judgementalism, but I am so glad we are Orthodox.
I just wish my children were not the only Orthodox children within a 45 mile radius, and then we could have Orthodox children`s activities as a group, and not have to worry about what they are being taught by other denominations` social activities. I am thankful that the Baptist church is showing witness to Christ, and for hosting a fun party for the children on Halloween , when it can sometimes be hard to avoid the pressures of an increasingly pagan society, but I don`t think I will let her go again.
Perhaps next year *I* should host a saints party instead........

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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Change of Plans

You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men......
well, it`s happened today :-)
At last, another Orthodox Christian has moved to our town, and she very kindly offered to give me a lift to Liturgy tomorrow. I was so pleased at this kindness, only to have a very disturbed night last night with D4 who had a dreadful stomach ache and consequent explosions of a frequent and noxious nature at the lower end of the digestive tract....nuff said.
D4 has since developed a temperature, and I phoned my kind acquaintance and explained that I didn`t think we would be able to take up her kind offer of a lift for Liturgy, only for her to tell me that her car is playing up and she is having real problems changing gear.
So sadly neither of us will get to Church tomorrow.
Oh well.............we tried.
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Saturday, October 30, 2004

DVD Dilemma

Here in the UK, new dvd films regularly cost 15 - 18 UK pounds, so with an exchange rate of 1.7 dollars to the pound, I bet we are paying a lot more for our dvd films than our friends across the pond........

As we have a multi-region dvd player, there is no reason why we can`t source dvd from around the world. The problem is, that`s where the fun begins !
A lot of sites are not that much cheaper than here, by the time you factor in postage costs. The ones that are a lot cheaper make me worry about whether they are bootlegs or not. I am not interested in buying copies, fakes or bootlegs.

Can any of you let me know if you find good, reliable online suppliers of dvd films which are genuine ? Please !..........
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Friday, October 29, 2004

Head Coverings

I know this is a potentially contentious issue :-)

When I was at my mother`s yesterday, she gave my daughters a bag full of scarves, which she thought they would like for dressing-up. Of course, the little ones were absolutely thrilled, and peacocked around in them for hours !

There was, however, one little scarf which was delicate autumnal colours and which really appealed to me, and the thought flashed through my mind that this would be ideal for wearing during my prayer time...........

In our parish, no-one wears headcoverings, and I have absolutely no idea why the thought occurred to me . It did, and very strongly.
So today, I wore the scarf, and it did make me more thoughtful and reverent; it made me feel more focused and more humble.
I don`t know whether this is a good thing or a stumbling-block of possible pride, until I speak to my priest.
I am drawn to wear it to Liturgy on Sunday, but I do not want to cause offense or upset to any of my fellow-worshippers.
What do you all think ?
Feedback appreciated !

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Conflict of Interest

I was unable to post anything yesterday to a conflict of interest over the computer....DH wanted to surf EBay, I wanted to Blog.
As he had been away and unable to access the WWW since late on Sunday night, I gave in gracefully , went to bed and read some more about St Rachel of Borodino :-)

We were hoping to go visit my mother-in-law today, but this wretched bug has left me with a vile, painful, hacking cough that just goes on and on. I don`t really want to be generous and pass it on to her, so we will have to re-schedule.

I hope the rest of you remain well !

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The weather has been lovely today, really warm and sunny. The forecast for tomorrow is vile....60mph gales and heavy rain. Definitely autumn !
There has been a pair of blue tits flying round the garden - I`m not sure what they would be called in the US, but they are tiny little birds, very pretty, blue, yellow and black in colour. As soon as my Robin comes back to the garden, I will know that winter is on its way.

I don`t know about the rest of you, but I find it so hard to get up at 07.00 when it is still pitch-black outside. It seems utterly unnatural to have to get up when even the birds are sensibly still asleep till just before sun-rise.
I think my body clock is primed for rise at dawn, sleep at dusk, and it sticks to it resolutely, regardless of what convention, timetable or the clock might dictate.

Sometimes I yearn for a simpler life, more in tune with the cycles of nature. Unfortunately, such times went hand in hand with disease, ill-health, poverty and hardship, with death as an everpresent reality, not a distant spectre to be feared as it is now.
As I trace my family history, I uncover many deaths of young adults and small children, which would have been easily prevented with access to modern health care. Even my grandmother vividly remembered the smallpox outbreaks in Wales, and the long queues of people waiting to be vaccinated in the 1940s.

Everyone knew families who had been recently touched by death. Most people had seen at least one dead person whilst they were still young themselves.
The first dead person I saw was my father, in a chapel of rest the night before his funeral. I was 25. He was 58.
He looked peaceful. It wasn`t scary.

The second was my grandmother, who died suddenly, and I saw her at home before she was taken to the hospital for a post-mortem.
She looked scared and shocked.
To this day I wonder if it was due to the pain of the second heart attack which killed her, or whether it was something she saw, or just fear of death. It wasn`t scary as such, but I felt distressed for her.

What I fear is a sudden death, with no time to make my confession, to receive the Holy Mysteries, to be anointed and to say goodbye to my loved ones.

I don`t fear growing old or ugly or fat.
I *do* fear not having time to repent.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Soul After Death

I have just started reading Fr Seraphim Rose`s "The Soul After Death".
Fr John McCuen is quite right about it being challenging - not in the style in which it is written, but the content is amazing.
I have read the introduction and the first chapter, and I need "time out" to assimilate the enormity of what I have read. Although I just want to read on and on until I have finished, I am resisting the urge as it will not profit me to do so :-)

The "time out" consists of reading the life of the Eldress St Rachel of Borodino, Russia, who died in 1928. This is a wonderful book, titled "Consoler of Suffering Hearts" by Archpriest Sergei Lebedev and published by St Xenia Skete.

I am finding that reading the lives of Righteous ones shames me into being more attentive to my spiritual life, and I find such books very inspirational.
I am rapidly brought back down to earth by the antics of my two young ones, who cause mayhem in short order and remind me of my podvig in oh, so many ways and times every day !!!

This week is half-term holiday, and today has gone fairly well so far.
Blood spilt, 0
Accidents, 0
Episode of tears, 1
Tantrums, 1
Interruptions to Morning Prayers, 3
Expressions of delight at use of incense during Morning prayer , 3
Times Scooby Doo dvds watched , 3 (I know !)
Times Prince of Egypt dvd watched ,1 (this is both educational and Biblical so it doesn`t count as entertainment !)
Loads of washing processed, 2.

Nearly time for Prayers and bed, so I will wish you all goodnight :-)

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Monday, October 25, 2004

The 1000 Mark

I am amazed to have now had 1005 visits to my blog :-)
I am temporarily bereft of sensible and coherent speech, so I will marvel quietly in a corner until the brain cell(s) functions normally again :-)

The flu is mercifully pretty much over, my temperature is almost back to normal, but my head feels as if it is full of cement. I will draw a discreet veil over the horrifying amount of tissue paper I have needed for my nose. Suffice it to say that I could audition for Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and be in with a sporting chance......
I just wish the miserable muscle aches and pains would go, along with the exhaustion.
I could sleep for a week !

Hope none of my readers succumbs to the dreaded bug, with special commiserations to Matt and his family who have already been struck down. Matt, how are you all, especially your parents ? Did your sister catch it too ?
I wouldn`t wish it on my worst enemy, that`s for sure......
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Crawling out of the Pit

I`mmmmm baaaaack !

Feeling slightly more human today :-)
I am always grumpy when I am unwell. And I mean grumpy, as in "not nice to know, run away and hide if you see me coming" grumpy.
DH and I had an intense, spirited verbal dialogue last night, AKA as a row. This is a very rare thing for us, as neither of us likes confrontation or raised voices. It was something relatively small that got magnified out of all sense of proportion, but it took me a long time to calm down.

There can be few things worse than resolutely lying on your own side of the bed, being fairly sure you were in the right, but also knowing that both of you are really unhappy and that it only takes one person to apologise and defuse the situation......
I apologised first, DH apologised, we sorted out the disagreement and ended the squabble.

But still the after-effects linger on in my heart and soul. I feel lonely, sad, angry at myself for giving in to my temper, aware of the pain I caused my DH, and I so much wish it hadn`t happened.
It may have been trivial, but how easily a small thing can magnify, expand and cause chaos in your life............
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Feeling a bit better but still under the weather.

I had dreadful problems accessing Blogger last was taking several minutes for the page to load, and it would not let me access my page to add this post.

It is now 02.29am and it has finally let me on, now that I am wide awake after a nosebleed :-0.

Now that I am here, I am completely unable to think of anything profitable to write about, of course.........
I hope normal service will be resumed soon !
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Friday, October 22, 2004

The Lurgy

Hi folks,
I am sincerely hoping that I am not going down with the flu....I have a headache, I ache all over, feel sick, have stomach pain, am sneezing and blowing my nose.
Feel grotty, so I am going to bed very soon.
Feeling very sorry for myself :-(
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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rain, rain, go away........

The rain has returned ......... :-)

Many people comment on how "green" Britain is.
This is very true, but it is only because we have a phenomenal amount of rain, all year round.
We have rain when it is hot, rain when it is cold.
We do occasionally get spells of good weather (ie 4 or 5 consecutive days without rain), but it is wise not to bank on good weather.

D4 is rapidly learning this, and today , when she saw it was raining, she mumbled to herself "raining pouring" and went in search of her coat, hat, scarf , gloves and Tweenies character umbrella ready for our trip to my parents` for lunch.
Because of the rain, we caught the bus, and yes the umbrella stayed firmly up even whilst on the bus................

Be prepared is defintely her motto !

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

More Books

I have just finished reading Fr Seraphim Rose, His Life and Works.
It was an inspirational book in many ways, and I have now ordered his book "The Soul after Death" for my next read.
I have also taken out a subscription to the periodical he founded, "The Orthodox Word", so I will have *plenty* of spiritual reading to keep me occupied :-)

I am managing rather better at keeping my Bible reading up to date with the help of "The Bible and the Holy Fathers" book and this absolutely wonderful website
which can be set to Old or New Calendar dates, which provides the readings and troparia/Kontakia of the day, as well as the daily hymns to the Theotokos. If you want to follow the daily practice of reading the Psalms, they even provide the Psalms for each of the Hours......

I don`t know about the rest of you, but I often find it a real challenge just to manage to pray the morning and evening prayers every day, let alone the Hours. Some days I wonder how I can always find time to do "worldly " things, yet find it so hard to make time for the important spiritual things......

The nice thing about Orthodoxy is that you never get chance to become too complacent. There is no chance of resting on your laurels, thinking that because you go to Vigil and Liturgy, and read morning and evening prayers and read your Bible, that you have somehow "done enough".
There is always **so** much more you can be doing in terms of prayer and holiness.
And of course, we have the Saints as examples to strive towards in our daily lives too.

Several years ago, a rock group called Catatonia was very popular, and one of their songs contained the immortal line "Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I`m Welsh".

Well, I thank God every day for the privilege and blessing of being Orthodox :-)
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Dragon-Breath Weather

This morning, something really special happened.
I was taking D3 to school and we were on our 20 minute walk with D4 in her pushchair, just chattering about D3`s class mates and her school in general. Nothing new there, you might think, and you would be right.

But - today was the first autumnal wonderful combination of cold, dew, and moist air .........Each time we breathed out hard, it looked like we were exhaling clouds of steam :-)
My kids have **always** loved this weather, and called it "dragon-breath weather".
So, we simply had to zoom along producing clouds of "dragon`s breath" and shrieking with laughter as we did so.

It was a moment of absolute, unadulterated pure joy which I wish I could bottle and preserve next to my heart forever, (especially in those moments when my dear daughters are being plain awkward), to remind me of how wonderful the innocence and fun of children can be.

We had such pleasure and rejoicing in the glory of God`s creation, that when I came home, the only possible response was to prostrate myself before the icon corner and glorify God .........
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Monday, October 18, 2004

Abby Birthday :-)

We have had such a fun day :-)))))

Abby loved all her birthday presents, and has had some lovely new winter clothes.
To McDonald`s for brunch (this is a real treat for the girls!), then home for a buffet Party. I spent nearly two hours cooking and it was worth every moment..........mercifully quite a lot of it was shop-bought too !
We had sausages on sticks, sausage rolls, vol-au-vents with tuna and sweetcorn, Coronation chicken and egg mayonnaise fillings, sandwiches, meringue nests, hummus, mushrooms in breadcrumbs, spicy chicken pizza, mini-muffins, fondant cakes, pretzels, and THE CAKE - an enormous jam and cream sponge with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy as a picture.
I think we will be eating cake for the next week.........

Many Years, Abigail ! Mnogaya leta!
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Sunday, October 17, 2004

The cake !
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Abby age 3 and Helen age 6
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B-Day Approaches

As D4`s birthday rapidly approaches, I am taking advantage of her afternoon nap to wrap up her presents whilst she is asleep :-)
So, adios amigos, till tomorrow, when I am sure that photos will be posted :-)))))
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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Toddler Tears

The tears have been mine and D4`s, in equal measure today !
She was happy all morning, even exemplarily well-behaved at her dental check-up...then we went to Woolworths to look at the sale. Still well-behaved.
When we came out of the shop, she asked to go to the coffee-shop :-)
Being as it is her birthday weekend (she will be three on Sunday), we said ok. She chose her ice-cream (raspberry) and a scone, and was happy for about five minutes, until she suddenly started screaming, shouting and lashing out for no apparent reason.
DH reacted as normal, by being mega-embarrassed.

I just told him to sit and drink his coffee, and I marched out, with this screaming Moppet under my arm and told her in no uncertain terms that behaviour like that was totally unacceptable. By this stage she was sobbing for daddy, so I took her back in where she continued to sob quietly until we left.
By the time this denouement took place, I realised to my horror that the two ladies sitting at a table facing away from us were two of the nursery teachers from D3`s school, and therefore the teachers from the class that this screaming little Moppet will be going to next year.
Oh how I wished for the earth to open and swallow me up... :-(((((((

It is just so frustrating to have to face behaviour that ranges from delightful to practically demonic in the space of a few seconds.
It doesn`t help that DH and I have quite different parenting styles, mainly because I am a hard-bitten Mama to another three, and Moppet D4 is his one and only little one. He loves her and cannot bear to see her cry.
I also love her and cannot bear to see her behaviour deteriorating and am fearful of her becoming an obnoxious spoiled little brat.
Bit of an impasse here, folks..........
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Friday, October 15, 2004

More Castles

Daughter 3 went on a school trip to visit more castles today.
Stop number 1 was the glorious and enormous mediaeval Caerphilly castle, complete with a leaning tower , and swans swimming in the moat. It is one of the largest castles in Europe, covering 30 acres.

Stop number 2 was the equally wonderful Castell Coch, ("the Red Castle") , a Victorian folly built in the 1870s by the third Marquess of Bute on the site of a 13th century castle. He used this castle occasionally as a hunting lodge, and it was designed by the hugely talented William Burgess.

D3 went equipped with a disposable camera to take her own photos, but hasn`t finished the film yet. When it is developed, I will publish a few of her pictures :-)
These castles are approx 45 minutes drive away from our home. We are so lucky to live with so much history on our door step !

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

This is a tame example of the lavish fairytale interior decoration inside Castell Coch.....
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The entrance to Castell Coch.
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Caerphilly Castle - The famous leaning tower is on the right side.....
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I think it was inevitable that after yesterday`s revelation, that today should see some degree of despondency.

If I make such a poor showing of being a Christian, and my attempts are so feeble, is it worth bothering ?
Should I just throw in the towel and live my life like everyone else does ?

Ironically, when I most feel like this, I find deep in my heart the knowledge and certainty that I cannot turn my back on God, my Faith and the Orthodox Way of Life.
Now I have found the Pearl of Great Price, the Fount of Immortality, the True Faith, how can I turn away from it ? What is left to me if I turn away ?

Just dust and ashes, a meaningless existence where hedonism is the only path that makes sense when there is no certainty of an afterlife, of God, His Grace and His Mercy.
I have lived like that once.
I cannot do so again, it would destroy me.

Thanks be to God for His loving mercy and kindness to me, a sinner.
The only thing needful is for me to pick myself up each and every time I fall, to repent and try again to do better. Over and over again till my dying breath, trusting in God.
Easy to say, hard to do, but there simply is no other option....

Father Seraphim, pray for us all that God may grant us constancy and steadfastness to do His Will.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fr Seraphim Rose

I am avidly reading the Life of Fr Seraphim Rose.
What a truly incredible man !

I had no idea he was so pivotal in bringing the Life of the glorious St Herman of Alaska back to public and ecclesiastical attention in modern times..... I have an icon of St Herman on my desk as I type.
Fr Seraphim was involved with two of the saints I revere, St Herman and St John of San Francisco, and I didn`t know........

On the other hand, this book is profoundly disturbing.
I do not even know whether I dare call myself Christian any more, after reading about Fr Seraphim`s conversion to Christ and subsequent life.
He was so single-minded, so whole-hearted in his love for Christ and his determination to lead a truly Christian existence that I feel utterly ashamed of my own halting, pitiful and inadequate attempts to lead a Christian life .
If I met Christ in the flesh today, would I willingly give up my material pleasures to follow him ?
I like to think that I would, but am I *sure*, in my heart of hearts ?

I know my podvig is to be a wife and mother, but do I treat it as a podvig, as a means of grace, a labour of love and sacrifice, as a chance always to put others first and myself last ?
If I truly loved my family, I would not put my own wants, needs and desires first and foremost. It seems that the way I live my life just goes to show that I love myself more than I do anyone else.
I love my husband and children enough to risk my life for them if they were in danger, so why do I not daily and willingly "lay down my life" for them ?

Some days I treat my family as though they are an inconvenience, a hindrance to my life, not as a truly great blessing and the means by which I can work out my salvation with fear and trembling.

I am ashamed.
May God have mercy upon me and allow me time for repentance and for me to at least make a *start* of beginning to do good........

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Love of Books

Some new books arrived today :-)
The largest is an 1142 page biography of the life and works of Fr Seraphim Rose.
Now, I would be the first to admit that I know very little about him, let alone his connection to St John of Shanghai and San imagine my delight when I found several wonderful black and white photos of my dear St John in the book !
I am so far up to page 179, and I am enjoying it immensely.

The other items were "The St Nicholas Secret", the current issue of the Handmaiden, an illustrated children`s Life of St Nicholas and the Conciliar Press booklet about Confession by Jim Forrest, all of which I have devoured today.

Housework :2 jobs
Devotional reading :4 books

What does worry me is how much is appropriate for me to spend on buying Orthodox devotional reading. Today`s books cost £48.84p.
Most books I buy, I read repeatedly, and those I no longer want, I pass on to the local library so other people may be exposed to Orthodoxy. My eldest daughter is a catechumen so she reads them too.

The problem is that many Orthodox books are not cheap.....the book about Fr Seraphim was 22.99 pounds sterling. To me, that is great value for money.....but for my DH, that is an enormous amount of money to spend on a book :-)
I don`t even think I can justify how much I spend by claiming there is an increase in godliness and virtue in my life, more`s the pity........
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Monday, October 11, 2004

The Blustery Day

It was really blustery today, but we decided the children needed a good walk, so we went to the beach.
It took about half an hour to walk there, with the wind picking up as we got nearer.
It was cold enough for DH and I to be in need of a reviving cappucino at the local cafe, and of course the two little ones wanted cold drinks :-)

We did venture onto the beach, but it was like being in a surreal sci-fi movie........we were literally being blown along the beach at speed, and and the sand was being swirled up in rivers along the beach. I wish I had taken the camera with me, as I have never seen anything like it .
It was cold enough for us to be ready to go back after 5 minutes, to screams of disapproval from D3 who would have stayed there all day given half a chance. Unfortunately the rivers of dust were just at D4`s eye level, and we didn`t want to risk her getting sand blown in her eyes.
So D3 protested loudly all the way home...........It was a really good drying day for the washing in my garden though :-)
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Passport to goodness knows where.....

D1 needed to renew her passport in view of her upcoming trip to the USA in December to see her boyfriend. Because her appearance has changed substantially since her first passport was issued aged 13, she needed to have new photographs, and for one of them , along with her application form, to be countersigned by an adult of goodstanding outside the family who has known her for more than two years. That bit was easy; she just asked her best friend`s father, who has known us all for 10 years.

I also needed to have my passport amended from my previous married name to my new married name. Ok, I know it has been quite a few years, but I hadn`t been abroad since my second marriage and didn`t see much point in shelling out £42.00 just for the sake of it :-)
So dear Allan came to the rescue and signed my form and photo too.

Armed with my debit card, I trundled up to the post office to get the forms checked and given priority treatment. That cost another £6.00 each.
The poor cashier seemed a little bemused, and read every single word on the form with great care. And I mean great care. I think that this was possibly the first set of passport applications which she has processed.
I was just so glad the post office was quiet and there was no queue behind me, or I had visions of a lynch mob forming...........

When it came to checking my documents, she looked even more puzzled. I pointed out that I had enclosed my birth certificate, my first marriage certificate and my divorce papers, and my second marriage certificate, which showed the name I want my new passport to be issued in.
The supervisor had to be called. Why had I enclosed both marriage certificates and my divorce papers ? I explained that this was as per the passport office official guide to filling in the forms, in my particular situation.
"You have to show what happened to your first marriage in order for them to issue a passport in a new married name" I explained.
Blank looks.

I tried again : "You have to show that your first husband either died - when you would send their death certificate- or you got divorced, when you send them your decree absolute. Otherwise, you could be committing bigamy and fraud."
Faces lit up. It was agreed that I was right to include all my documents in that case.
I heaved a sigh of relief.
But then they couldn`t find what box to tick on the form to show I had enclosed my decree absolute. The supervisor was called again. Then the enormous Post Office Rule Book was consulted. It was established that the correct box for a decree absolute was ...............divd. Aaagh, Clear as mud.

At last, I was given a receipt for my applications, and the bill..........£99.00 sterling.
Only three more children to provide new passports for............I wonder if the kids would accept passports in lieu of Christmas presents ..... :-))))))))))
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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Window Clutter

I talk so much about the view from my beloved garden window that I thought this might raise a smile........

The sunrise was truly glorious this morning, and I thought about taking a photo of it to post here.
Then I looked at the clutter on the window sill (window shelf) and thought maybe not :-)

On the window sill as I type, there are:-
  • Husband`s green lava lamp with orange blobs
  • One pen tidy full to overflowing with pens (only two of which work) and worn-down unusable pencils.
  • Several money-off vouchers for our local supermarket (so I don`t forget where they are !)
  • One photo of D4 aged 11 months
  • One photo of D3 aged 3years and 4 months, holding D4 aged 15 hours.
  • A framed poem called "The Art of Marriage" given to us on our Crowning Day
  • A pair of lovely spiral pewter candlesticks given to me by a friend at a very low point in my life to cheer me up
  • A bottle of all-natural headlice combing solution (!)

From the sublime to the ridiculous in only four feet of space.................a bit like life, really :-)

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Windows !

Not the Micro$oft Win~doze, but real windows :-)
We have had two of our windows replaced with double-glazed units this morning.
They cost an arm and a leg, but are really, really nice. The fitters asked my DH and I to inspect them, which we did. One window was fine, but DH found a flaw in the glass of the upper pane in the second one.
There was a flurry of phone calls between the manufacturer and us, and the result is that they have made a new sealed glass unit today which will be fitted in a few days. I was hoping to have had it all wrapped up today, but never mind. As DH says, "worse things happen at sea !"

Thank you all for your kind messages about the death of Auntie Gladys. She was a lovely lady, full of love, fun, humour and wise advice. She will be sadly missed...............
Memory Eternal !!

We have been told that our beloved Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain will be visiting our parish in a few months. I wasn`t able to go the last time he was here for the Akathist in the Dormition Fast, so it will be wonderful to see him again and receive his blessing.

There isn`t much else to say news is good news :-)
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Sad News

I had some very sad news last night.
My Great-aunt Gladys died peacefully at the age of 93. She was a wonderful, redoubtable old lady, who cared for her disabled daughter until the day before her death.
Of your charity, please pray for the repose of Gladys, and for her grieving daughter Ray, and for our family.
This will be our third family funeral in eight weeks.........
Lord, have mercy.
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Kitchen Heaven......

At last, my cooker`s main oven has been mended and I have an oven that no longer cremates food :-)
I have celebrated by cooking Pizza, and D1 is busy making her favourite Coca Cola cakes.
Our repertoire of cookable food is expanding now that we can bake things again !
Despite the truly awful rain today, it has been a good day, with nice baking smells wafting through the house............................. domestic bliss :-)

D3 started folkdancing classes at school today. Much as I love my daughter, she has the grace and elegance of a fairy elephant, and I did wonder whether she would enjoy it. She most certainly did enjoy it, and can`t wait for next week. Perhaps she will become less of a tomboy now....though I doubt it !
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I was thinking about Confession today, mainly because I was looking at an orthodox book catalogue and I saw a title which I don`t have on my bookshelves.

I always know when I desperately need to go to Confession.
It is usually when I least want to go, when everything and everyone is getting me down, life seems tough and I am feeling low. This is when I realise I am in dire need of spiritual medicine.
There is nothing like a thorough examination of my life and my conscience prior to Confession to make me realise just how much God has blessed me, and how very much I have to be thankful for. It always raises me out of the doldrums.

When I go to Confession, after the prayers are said, my priest stands me in front of the Icon of Christ and tells me to confess my sins without fear to Christ, who already knows them and is just waiting for me to acknowledge my sins and ask for forgiveness.
It is surprisingly hard to meet the eyes of the Christ the Judge depicted in the icon with the sorry tale of my failings and misdeeds on my sinful lips. The feeling of shame can be almost unbearable sometimes.......

Father offers me advice and consolation regarding what I have confessed, and his loving gentleness always makes me tearful.

How can I describe the incredible feeling of my priest placing his epitrachelion on my head, making the sign of the Cross and assuring me of God`s forgiveness, both in this world and the next ? It is the most blessed and liberating feeling, to know that I have faced my many sins, confronted them, acknowledged them in front of a witness and asked for forgiveness.
To know that that forgivness has been granted, and my burdens lifted , is such a great blessing and a truly humbling experience.

The most amazing thing of all is that after my confession is ended, Father looks me in the eye, smiles and gives me the threefold kiss.
No matter what I have had to confess, however awful it has been, his unconditional love for me as his daughter in Christ shines out.

This is the priest who knows more about me than possibly any person alive, who knows my faults, my failings, my sins, my worries, my fears......who hears about the very worst of me, yet who loves me and cares deeply for the welfare and salvation of my soul, and can still look me in the eye, smile and care for me.

It makes me realise just how far *I* have to go to be able to truly love others, warts and failings and all.

What virtue is there in loving people who are easy to love ? Almost everyone does that.
It is much harder to show love for the unpleasant folk who may sometimes cross our path.
Now that is a real test of our ability to love all of our neighbours as ourselves........
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Monday, October 04, 2004

Castle in the Rain

Today, we went to visit a castle.
This was prompted mainly by the fact that DD3 is studying castles in her history lessons, and living in the land of castles, it is easy to find them :-)
We actually have at least 4 castles within 12 minutes drive of our home, so we went to the biggest and possibly best preserved of them.

Coity Castle was built firstly in timber in 1126 and then in stone in 1180.
It was left uninhabited when the owner, the heiress Barbara Gamage, married Sir Philip Sydney, Earl of Leicester in 1584 and moved to his home in Kent, leaving the castle to is still very spectacular even now, as I hope the photos will reveal.
It was, of course, raining when we went :-)
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Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Castle Moat, which I expected to be full considering all the rain we have had in the last week............
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The main entrance into the castle.
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An archway inside Coity Castle.
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DD3 and 4 with me inside the castle.
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D4 standing by the castle well
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Husband with daughters 3 and 4 in Coity Castle.
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New Image

Don`t panic, I have not done anything dreadful to the blog ! :-0

I did, however, go to the hairdresser today. My hair is past shoulder length, but was in dire need of a trim. Added to that, I needed to renew my passport and didn`t want to get photos done of my hair looking a mess....hence the trip to the hairdresser and afterwards to the photobooth.
I was only going to have a trim, but decided to have quite a lot cut off, and it is now a short bob.

Now, DH really loves my hair long. I was in some trepidation walking up the garden path in case he really hated it.............however, he quite liked it. So did DD1, 2 and 3.

D4 did not.
She climbed on my lap, ran both hands through my hair, lifted it up, looked appalled and shouted at me "That naughty, Mummy ! Not Mummy"
I obviously look very different to her eyes, yet still recognisable as Mummy.
Several hours later, she has adapted happily to the new image Mummy, much to my relief.
It amazes me how quickly we can adapt to people changing appearances and accept the new look as normal :-)

I can vaguely think of something theological here, but it is not well enough thought out for me to be able to communicate it clearly yet, so I will sleep on it tonight.
If anyone of you can see what I am trying to say, please tell me ! :-))))))
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Saturday, October 02, 2004

An Ordinary Day

A quiet day on the family front :-)
We went shopping, to the greengrocer`s and to the supermarket , and returned with the car full of food.
DH continues to strip old wallpaper from one of the bedrooms.
I pottered around, did housework and looked after D4.
Oh, D3 got full marks in her spelling test today, so honour is restored................she is happy.

Other than that, it has been a very quiet day.
The undoubted highlight is today being the N.S. Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos, who is our family`s unoffical patron, and the Icon of the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos has an honoured place in our icon corner wherever we live.
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us and save us, O Lord !!!

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Friday, October 01, 2004

Birthday Shopping

DH and I went shopping today for D4`s birthday presents. We hadn`t intended to, but there was a huge half-price toy sale on at Woolworth`s.
Her birthday is on Oct17th and she will be three.

We have now got her a large toy kitchen, which was reduced to approx £20, a zip up sqare case filled with pens, pencils and chalks, and a wooden frame filled with wooden blocks which you can spin round to show pictures , words, letters and numbers. This is something which she has played with in the waiting room at each hospital appointment she has been to, which is three so far this year, and with another appt scheduled before Christmas. She always loves playing with it, so I am hoping she will like to have it at home too.

I do wonder how much of what we buy for others is just wish fulfillment from our own childhood........personally, I am looking forward to her being old enough for a train set.
My brother is seven years older than me, and would never let me play with his Scalextrix set nor his train set for fear of me damaging it in my exuberance.......perhaps at 40 I am old enough now to have one of my very own :-))))))
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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Warning !

Be warned, I have borrowed a book on writing HTML code from the library :-)
I`m afraid the blog may take on a variety of appearances whilst I experiment.
I know my DH will collapse laughing at the thought of me learning to write a blog code(he is a senior systems analyst, and writes his own programs at work) but I will have a try.
A girl`s gotta do what a girl`s gotta do, after all ...........

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Whole Month Of Blogging

Well, folks,
I have now been blogging for a whole month !
It is a source of constant delight to me that so many of you drop by to read about my little world - especially the fact that my site has had 573 visits :-)
I love to read your comments and your blogs too.....I currently have 45 blogs which I read via a Bloglines account.
No doubt about it, I am a blogaholic.............
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Gardening Chores

D4 and I had great fun this afternoon, working in the garden.
All along the back wall is an enormous quantity of different forms of trailing ivy. All very attractive, but with the effect that the whole back wall of the garden is
Husband and I decided it was a little over the top, so this afternoon I hunted out the secateurs and pruned...and pruned....and pruned.....
You can now actually see some brick and some wooden fencing, instead of a continuous wall of green. I can now even reach the garden tap and hosepipe without having to insert my arm up to my elbow into a dense and almost impentrable green jungle :-)

I also pruned a trailing evergreen bush which produces glorious lilac blue flowers, but an enormous quantity of dark green foliage, and a bush which has what can only be described as producing delightful parchment texture flowers.
Both of these are lovely, but with one on each side of the wooden archway, they have grown so much this summer that I am struggling to get through with the laundry basket on my way to the washing line.

Last on the attack list was the honeysuckle which is just starting to produce its toxic black berries. Every branch of this within reach of D4 has been cut back for safety.

I would never have believed that D4 could have so much fun helping me.
I didn`t ask her, she just did it.
She was absolutely brilliant at bringing armfuls of ivy for me to put into rubbish sacks, and helping me fill the sacks. I thanked her for each armful, which must have made very tedious overhearing for our neighbours, but little one just looked at me *so* proudly and said "Helping ! " with a beaming smile.......

May she always have that desire to help, and pleasure in helping others. I only wish that I could recapture that joy, that enthusiasm, which is part of being a small child.
She gave me a great deal of pleasure today, and put me so much in mind of the story of St Euphrosynos the Cook.
If any of you have not read his story in a delightful book called "A boy, the kitchen and his cave", please do so. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. You will not forget the story.........and I will not forget today :-)
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Monday, September 27, 2004

My morning...or, Why did I bother to get out of bed ?

This was my morning......
Awake about 2.00am with upset stomach.
Awake at 5.30 am to wake DH up for work. Attempted to go back to sleep.
D3 awake at 06.00. Wants me to go downstairs and put the tv on for her. I alarm isn`t due to go off till 07.00.
D3 winges, whines and fusses in my bedroom till my alarm goes off. Am incandescent with suppressed rage.
I get up, make children breakfast and put the wretched TV on for them.
Make cup of tea, read email , try to feel like I am a human being.

08.00 Get D3`s clothes for her to dress herself.
Dress D4 in the meantime.

08.15 Tell D3 to hurry up.

08.20 Tell D 3 to hurry up.
Point out she has put her shoes on the wrong feet. (How can she *do* that ? I can`t even get my feet into the wrong shoes, let alone do them up and stand up in them !!). She promptly falls off the settee and screams theatrically. I lose my temper and shout.

08.25 Tell D3 I must do her hair. She screams because she wants to do it herself. We don`t have time as we have to be out of the house by 08.30 at the latest.

08.30 D3 cannot find her coat. Has a tantrum.
D4 puts herself in her pushchair but refuses to wear her coat. Shove her coat under pushchair.
Search frantically for D3`s coat. Fail.
Continued hysterical screaming from D3. I lose my temper again. Shout loudly.
Find zip up cardigan with hood. D3 agrees to wear this.

Now 08.35am and we are going to be late for school.
Run down street with kids. Postman stops me and says he has a parcel for me....should he just leave it on the doorstep ? I agree and thank him.
D3 dawdles, and comments on everything she sees. I am frothing at the mouth. I have been awake since 05.30 and we are still going to be late for school ! aaaagggh.
Never mind. I apologise to D3 for being mean and losing my temper. She apologises for being naughty. Big hug. Feel better.

Get to school gates just as the Buzzer rings 08.50am ....time for school. Tell D3 to run like the wind round the building to her entrance door. Kiss her and tell her I love her. She runs off happily.
D4 starts to cry because her sister has gone to school . Walk home.
I want to cry because I am harrassed and exhausted and fed up with getting exasperated with my beloved children.

Tomorrow......No TV till everyone is washed, dressed, had their hair done and had breakfast.
No exceptions.
Is it just me, or do you all have days like this ?

On the bright side, at least D3 wasn`t late , as she got to her classroom on time. But me ? Took me about two hours to calm down enough to start morning prayers at the icon corner. However, D4 excelled herself and asked to venerate every icon we possess, lovingly and with delight. I must be doing *something* right :-)
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