Monday, 28 December 2009

Holiday Week

This is the time I love- all time bets off! Nothing to do now but sit back and enjoy together. Only dilemmas are when to make it to the Museum, visit friends, meet for coffee? Today, however, is all about putting presents to good use...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas...

...and may 2010 bring you much food for thought, much delight in your lot, and all the joy that lies in the small detail.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Happy Anniversary, Prince Charming! (Or a life in a tree!)

A Christmas wedding. 1998.

A New Year in Times Square honeymoon. 1999, followed by a few years running around with friends.

Baby's first Christmas. 2003. Babies' first and second Christmases. 2004.

Shattered parents.

Nativity plays.

Wife recovering from knee surgery for tenth anniversary. 2008. Thanks for the ten tins of tuna, Edwards family!

First family trip to the theatre. 2009.

Monday, 21 December 2009

holy experience

111. Hope, peace, joy, love-
112. Wensleydale with cranberry
113. Mince pies
114. Snowball fights in street with friends
115. Warming up with friends and big mugs of tea and left-over carrot cake
116. Driving out to more friends for mulled punch and afternoon tea!
117. A husband who sings Joseph's Song with a sun in one hand and guitar in the other!
118. Nativity plays and family with whom to enjoy them
119. Interesting Woman's Hour discussions about Christian Christmas vs a Christmas without the negative undertones of sanctified virginity and death

120. Jesus

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Fourth Sunday in Advent- Love...

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, Surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Santa, sofas and cakes

Our annual Sunday School Trip to see Santa this morning. It snowed as we arrived at Logwood Plant Centre and the magic just went on and on! Santa Trail around reindeer, donkeys, turkeys (of great and surprising longevity!), on through the Elves Workshop for colouring, present making, snowball throwing and snowman building...

...and finally the Great One himself. We were so excited that we had to spend the rest of the day under blankets, on sofas, watching a succession of festive flicks.

Meanwhile I'm working on my third cake in a week, and hoping that it will be the first one to work. Tonight's carrot cake refused to cook through and now lops on the cake stand awaiting tomorrow's white chocolate and cream cheese icing. Ho ho hum!

Lo, snow!

I took this at 8 this morning (I'm still in Friday, even though technically it is tomorrow!) in case all snow would be gone when I got back from school. I suppose we're not so high here, because it was indeed mostly gone by lunchtime- end-of-term for me. Happy Ho Ho Ho!

Suns won't finish until Tuesday, however, but it was nice to be a four family walking up the hill this afternoon- devising rhyming sentences for snow. Because it did snow for the brief twenty minutes it takes us to get home! We got to five...

Lo, snow! I know. Let's go. Don't be slow!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas presents too

These were possibly the smallest Christmas presents in the world for our morning coffee at the Bean today! Here snuggling in the branches of our tree, pre-departure! They were Snapdragon brooches that I got at the Country Living fair when Mum amd I were in Glasgow last month. The VW Camper Van was obviously for Crafting Catherine who craves one!

It was a morning of threes. These are two out of the three Bean snowmen, and the sign beyond, which I couldn't capture, advertises three wishes- or three tasty coffee options!

Queen Niqi had brought us her speciality Christmas boxes, each filled to the brim with QS. Lovely! Small tokens of huge esteem...

My term ends tomorrow, suns' term ends Tuesday, Bean Nativity is Wednesday with associated children suitably attired. Merry Christmas, Bean Crafters!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Presence!

So, at Mothers' Union on Monday night there was to be a Secret Santa exchange of presents. Absolute embargo on anything more costly than £2. Not a lot to go on- unless you are confident in your cooking and crafting! I would have happily wrapped up some shortbread or Christmas cake, but there wasn't a crumb left after Sunday afternoon, and as it transpires that this was quite fortuitous!

I therefore arrived with my tiny little envelope, containing Most Ingenious Idea. And placed it with not a little trepidation on the table groaning with surprisingly large gifts. £2?

Seated at the very end of the long table, between two happily friendly (Grand)Mothers, I grew increasingly concerned as my turn slowly came. Numbers were drawn which would correspond to their numbered present. To my two pillars I expressed the fear that my Most Ingenious Idea would not be up to MU scratch. They were both appalled that this might indeed be so. No comfort there!

Unbelievably the little envelope had still not been drawn before our turns. Anne received a large wrapped present from her number. I received a silver wrapped present from my number. Molly drew the final 18. A little red envelope. She looked at me in disdain.

"Anne, let me tell you my Most Ingenious Idea, and if it's awful, tell Molly to take my present instead."

Frantic whispering. A face lit up. "Molly, swap with me; let me have Margaret's envelope!"

Presence, not presents. I told Molly to bring her diary to church on Christmas morning. Hopefully she'll read the message inside the card and not just use the teabag...

Monday, 14 December 2009

holy experience


101. A happy, relaxed afternoon with many wonderful, interesting friends.
102. Finding joy regardless of circumstances.
103. Finding faith regardless of feelings.
104. Having suns who flourish and flower and think and feel and deduce and conclude and explore and express and still find time to hug their mum!
105. Having three babies in the house today who all went home ultimately without my having to change them or feed them or anything!
106. This progression that I've never fully considered before that starts with the hope of Christ, without which there wouldn't be the peace of Christ, and now to wallow in the joy of Christ, because all else can nestle in the preceding two.
107. The delight that I admittedly feel at the Secret Santa present I have for Mothers' Union tomorrow night!! Approved by PC, still on his Advent Conspiring, "Presence, not presents"...
108. And on Wednesday SarahC flies off to a university interview. Was she even one when I met her?
109. CoGS Christmas dinner on Saturday night! A revelation!
110. Easy times over the last few days- a nice reminder that sometimes life isn't so complicated, especially when your Christmas cake comes out of the tin and opens slowly like a flower!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent- joy! And even a joyous Christmas present from Crafting Catherine that I was instructed to open immediately- how perfect!

Every year we know it's Christmas when we have our annual Mince Pies and Mulled Stuff Open House, so that was very appropriate for a joy day as well! I loved it today- thanks to all of you who came and brought us joy (and homemade mince meat and homemade fudge and homemade Christmas scones- oh wow, Martin!- and sweets and presents and cards!)

You bring us joy all year round! We went from this, and more... this...

Joy to the World!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

That lovely day!

Photos from Preparing for Advent have arrived at a perfect moment. PC has been my beautiful assistant with Christmas Cake preparations and the kitchen now reeks of Christmas! Classic FM is carolling merrily, butter is softening for mince pies and shortbread, and today is ORGANISE A TURKEY Day!

It's the third weekend in Advent and joy is seeping through; this was the first hopeful weekend...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

holy experience


91. Mattman wasn't kept in hospital yesterday and is holding an attack at bay.
92. Mum's arm is not broken, and she rings Physio tomorrow.
93. Jojo negociated a birthday party today with no aggressive outburst- that I could see!
94. Strawberries have manfully taken over the role of Ghost of Christmas Present, me having found myself unequal to the task!
95. I have been gently prompted by Prince Charming to open my annual Book of Christmas and write a list.
96. I will be taken, I am informed, to Chirpy Chappy (local butcher) to order a turkey tomorrow!
97. If Mattman makes it to school tomorow, PC and I will have a whole school day in town alone together.
98. If Mattman doesn't make it to school tomorrow, he'll have some Alone with Mum and Dad Time in town!
99. The Beatties
100. The January 11th entry of Daily Splashes of Joy

Second Sunday in Advent

Second Sunday in Advent- Peace.

Mattman wanted to put the santons out this year, and so he did. I got around to looking at them the next day, and was stopped in my apathetic tracks by his arrangement. No posing for the audience in his mind. All intently focused inwards, lost in wonder, love and praise...

Monday, 30 November 2009

holy experience

86. I'm grateful for the still, quiet days in November when you can breathe in the cold, darkening day and exhilerate in the beauty of a town surrounded by hard hewn hills.

87. This week has the thought of Hope throughout, brought by the first Sunday in Advent, and remaining with us, note to self...

88. Honesty and nights of sleep.

89. Beatrice who comes to visit at a different season every time, and lets us look at the Lough with which she has fallen in love through her spell-bound eyes.

90. Although even Mattman felt the awe of the sunset over the waters and the hills yesterday afternoon. "Mummy, I'll never be able to draw like real artists." "Even real artists were just six at one point, my love..."

Sunday, 29 November 2009

First Sunday in Advent

We do put our decorations up on the first of December every year- and always have done, so can't blame it on the suns! We're not generally organised in advance though, so the Advent candlestick isn't ever in place for the first Sunday in Advent, hence the little temporary replacement!

First Sunday in Advent- hope.

We went from church this morning straight to Belfast's annual Continental Christmas Market- as if our French visitor wasn't familiar with the very best of market life! Obviously crepes were de rigeur..

The matching of Mattman's hat to the carousel lights was, however, a fortuitously happy touch!

As Beatrice shopped we took warm refuge in a cafe (not just any cafe, a well-known high street brand cafe) and discussed what we hoped for this Christmas. My peace in Afghanistan won few plaudits; Jojo hopes for snow every day over Christmas, while Mattman just hopes that every day could be Christmas!

A short chronicle of yesterday's lovely, lovely, lovely Preparing for Advent will come soon- just waiting for photos from Cooking Catherine's camera- as obviously I had forgotten mine own!

Happy Advent...

Friday, 27 November 2009

One more sleep

Tomorrow will be Preparing for Advent!

Cooking Catherine has the house ready- and her husband and four teenage men know that lunch will be served here with my menfolk.

Crafting Niqi has Christmas Boxes scored and ready to assemble.

I have a Mary and Martha thing simmering in my mind, and we have a Cloth for the Cradle thing to tie it all up at the end. (I must remember to cut fifteen lengths of varied material before I go to bed...)

All that remains is for Prince Charming to collect Beatrice from tonight's Paris flight and for a nice bottle of white to be consumed after sunny bedtime!

Sunday will be the first Sunday in Advent- hope.

I hope now actually to start thinking about Christmas and all that it brings!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Gratitude and Glasgow

Mostly I feel I've persevered well over the last two years, and I have admitted to the irony at which I realised my title hinted... But once again I reel from the maelstrom that can be our life here in what does always seem to come back to being the Land of Tearful Strawberries.

So apologies that all I can do in these weeks is endeavour to count blessings. Nonetheless 82 is for the network of friends without whom life and logistics would not work, and 83 is for a mother-in-law who will drive muchly across town to pick up the slack.

84 and 85 go back to the PMFW (Pre-Mother's Fall Weekend) and are loudly and passionately in favour of our two little seats and our two little desks at the Christmas Wreath workshop at the Country Living Christmas Fair! Oh, Jane of Snapdragon- how lovely!

And because I'm endeavouring to sleep more and stress less, I'm off to bed with my unfinished Georgette Heyer; bonne nuit!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

holy experience

This week I am extremely grateful that 72. if I had to be in the middle of so much money being sucked into my cars' calamities it at least happened at a time when I'm teaching one extra day a week and still at the library for two evenings a week.

For 73. I am most grateful that Mattman's teacher has changed her focus, and for 74. I LOVE how well my two clever suns do their homework, even coming home briefly from Saint K's house this evening for that express purpose.

I know he's in a lot, but at 75, I really love my husband. Who will not only have been the main man tonight and tomorrow while I'm at work, but will also be the single rudder, peace broker and referee when I'm in Glasgow this weekend.

76. I'm in Glasgow with my mother this weekend! For the Country Living Christmas Fair in Scotland and there's even a French Film Festival on at the same time. Christmas is coming early to Mags! She might even buy something nice- perhaps at the Burrell Collection on Sunday!

77. is for our new vice-principal who does seem to be a most humane individual, and he has a very nice green coat. 78. is for the kind colleague who will give me a lift to school on Friday morning. 79. is for the other kind colleague who reminded me that it's not actually me who has to produce GCSE coursework for all the recalcitrant pupils under my tutelage.

On the other hand (pun alert) I shall give 78. to the fine set of elegant grey wrist-warmers that I have nonetheless managed to produce in time for Glasgow.

79. is for the Christian God who is unashamedly the reason why I unreservedly celebrate Christmas and who graciously continues to sustain this little family of mine.

80. belongs to all the friends offering car journeys at this carless time, but 81. is for the summer eleven years ago when we held out for our house because it was in such beautiful walking distance of everything we need!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Cars and crises

I haven't done anything for two weeks, except be completely on top of washing and ironing and therefore uniforms, homeworks, shopping, cooking, washing up and even, to a lesser degree, cleaning. No posts because no inspiration! Despite the fact that I LOVED Vintage Vicki's reality check, and even took a photo that I planned to use.

At 12.10pm today I remarked to Bean Boss that my life was either crisis or boredom, latter being my temptation just now.

At 12.12 I reversed my car straight into the car behind.

At 12.22, on my woe-ridden way home, the clutch died unredeemed.

The most expensive ten minutes of my life- I'm asking for yours?! Crafting Niqi's were apparently those spent deciding not to replace the central heating pump, but redo the kitchen instead.

Ouch x2...

(Thankfulness postponed until tomorrow, Ann!)

Monday, 9 November 2009

holy experience

Have for a while been thinking about all the women who have made me, and shaped me, and kept my lurches nonetheless between the hedges. Ergo, here are nine of them...

60. My mother
61. Aunt Mog, the fairy (trips to London and the National Gallery) godmother
62. Margaret, youth leader extraordinaire
63. Claire, woman of God
64. Fiona, first teaching colleague and friend
65. Carol, woman of worth and integrity
66. June, hospitality is a sign of the Kingdom
67. Catherine, food and knitting and a house-load of teenage boys and Steve Bidulph
68. Karen, neighbour and rock
69. Catherine, craft, coffee, care

And the last thanks go to a man, because he has blown me away with his wisdom and protection this week!

70. PC

ps I should probably put Jane Brockett's domesticity thing in as an influence at number 71!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Mummy, put this in your blog!

Take one of me building it.

(Mattman's at Anchor Boys, but Jojo's keeping busy!)

Monday, 2 November 2009

holy experience

51. A Reading Specialist who will come to your house, play "reading games" with your child, and pronounce him to be at a perfectly acceptable level.
52. A husband who nonetheless knows how absolutely essential it is that he be by your side for the parent-teacher interviews on Thursday.
53. A little house in the Mournes for a stormy Hallowe'en weekend with no homeworks to be done.
54. A whole week of no homeworks to be done, no uniforms to be washed, and no morning panic other than deciding what to put on the tray for breakfeast in bed!
55. A truly fabulous pumpkin party last night, with truly fabulous friends.
56. The privilege of having been designed and formed to be Mags and men, Psalm 16:5-6.
57. An October that, in being only hard, was better than the month before.
58. A Youth Co-ordinator who will listen to your cry, and set you back on the path.
59. My mother, and her little bags.
60. The knowledge of the saints who cheer.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Why did the saint cross the road?

We have had much pagan celebration of the season about here lately, so it's time to join with the celebration of those saints who encourage us and those who cheer us on from beyond. You could only think of the Beatties really. Nigel the greatest encouragement I've ever met in one person, and Carole now cheering loudly from the stands.

And I'd have to add one of my sunly saints. After a whole mealtime worth of , "Why did the x cross the road?" jokes, all culminating in increasingly random and surreal responses, Mattman wondered, "Why did Jesus cross the road?" Nervous response from parents, "We don't know. Why did Jesus cross the road?"

"To talk to all the people."

That would be Prince Charming's worship introductions sorted for this morning then!

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