Monday, 21 February 2011


My kinship care journey does throw up some strange stuff for me to work through sometimes.  I have become increasing aware over the last week or so that my niece is always referring to us to other people with just our Christian names, leaving off the Aunty and Uncle bit.  We have had lots of discussions with her over the last two years about what she calls us.  At one time very early on in this journey she asked if she could call us mum and dad.  At that point I was really not ready for that at all and I knew my daughter couldn't handle the thought of it.  Then I noticed just a few months ago before her biological father came back onto the scene after a 6 month absence, that I was quite hankering after her calling us mum and dad.

We have made up names with her sometimes, Manty and Duncle were two of my favorites, mixing mum, dad, aunty and uncle!  That has never really stuck either.

When I started to notice this just calling us by our Christian names I have to admit I did not like it.  To give her credit she has not been speaking to us using just this name.  Why does it bother me?  I think my brain was thinking that it was not very respectful.  However I have been praying about it over this last week and have really felt God saying to me, "What is wrong with the name that you have been committed to me under?"  What can I say to that?  Do we not call God and Jesus by many names?  Thinking on it further I realised that as a teenager I can be proud of the fact that I have heard her using our real names, not some nickname that she has made up for us, that could potentially be very rude!

Continuing to thank my blessings with the gratitude community:

495. Respectfulness being shown.
496. A Successful 'respite' day for my niece with her Godparents.
497. A flexible job where I can fit in my hours to suit my children's and husbands needs.
498. Enthusiastic children in Junior church.
499. Funds to enable us to see one of my young people from church perform as leading lady in an amateur dramatic version of West Side Story.
500. A successful visit.
501. Completion of crafty God inspired idea for a sick friend.
502. Training days/conferences on many subjects close to my heart that I am able to attend.
503. Crafting with my young daughter.
504. A puppy dog trying and failing to become 'top' dog by sitting on the top of the sofa above my head!

Why not visit some more fabulous bloggings sharing their blessings over here:

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

When you disagree with fellow Christians.

I have got myself involved with a debate on facebook posted by a friend whom I have known for many many years though have only recently become reacquainted  after approx 8yrs.  His post was asking people to agree with him that the 'equality' bill, which is currently being formulated, was the worst thing ever to happen to a Christian Society, based on this story by the BBC (a story which I have said I think is appallingly written sensationalism).  There have been many comments (over 60), the debate has gone off on tangents of which I have been apart.  What I have learnt from this experience is that Facebook is not the best place to have a debate, once one starts it can be very difficult to remove yourself from it.  I have found it very difficult to not take offense at comments such as 'have you even read this ....part of the bible', however I have tried very hard to stay loving towards all involved in the debate.  

I suppose my real bug bear on the whole debate is the feeling that some Christians appear to believe that they have the right to go around quoting the bible to point out peoples sins.  Without context I can not relate to this at all.  If I am asked my opinion on whether something is a 'sin' according to the Bible, I will use my Bible knowledge to try and answer them clearly.  However if I meet someone, or discover that someone I am  know is committing a 'sin' as the bible might interpret it, is it for me to go about asking them if they believe in God and the Bible and whether or not they know/realise that they are sinning?  Am I, as I feel some are suggesting, condemning them to Hell for not doing precisely this, withholding (I don't think I actually hold them!) the keys to the Kingdom by what I am not saying?

I often reflect of the miracle of my dramatic conversion which I blogged about a couple of years ago here.

Maybe it is because of knowing a life without God that I can have such compassion on those around me without continually feeling the need to point out their sins.  There has been one exception to this and I am still trying to let God deal with that, his ways are however gentle with me.

I hope and pray that I am not causing any person I meet to stumble in their relationship or veer away from God in any way.  And if I am then I am truly sorry and will repent before my God!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Another Monday

Today is valentines day, not a day I can celebrate anything anymore, it should have been my sisters 39th birthday.  This is the third birthday she has missed and it hurts more as she stays ageless and our lives move on.  If there were only one lesson to take hold of for me since her death, it is to cherish lavishly those that you have around you, so that when the time comes you know you loved all you could.  I continue to count with the gratitude community:

485. An amazing trip to America.
486. New dear friends, willing to feed and taxi me around.
487. A family that missed me.
488. A clean house and flowers in the hearth on my return.
489. The familiarity of folding our laundry.
490. All the encourager's that God has surround me with.
491. The moments of quiet and stillness I can find in my week.
492. Knitting nearly finished!
493. The joy of giving home-made presents.
494. Strength of spirit renewed just in time.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

My Trip Alone

Last Friday morning I woke up early with butterflies in my tummy.  The day had arrived, I was on my way to see a friend I had only met over the internet (through blogging, tweeting and facebooking).  My parents were very concerned - you should not meet people you have only met through the internet, never mind fly thousands of miles as well.  It took a great deal of explaining to my children why in this instance it was a safe thing for me to do.  I know my friend was having a bit of anxiety over us meeting as well - what if we didn't like each other in real life!

I needn't have worried - I landed in Boston, USA in the evening after a flight made very bearable by some noise reduction earphones.  I really could not have done without them as there was a high school ski party taking up the majority of the cabin (that is why when I checked in on line there were so few seats!).  I saw Katharine the moment I walked into the arrivals lounge, we hugged and it felt good.

We then had an exciting adventure on the bus and subway and finally a taxi to get to her home which is within the city boundaries.  This gave us the opportunity to start to get acquainted without her children around (she has 5 I was under no doubts chatting would be difficult with them around).  There was lots of giggling, even with the taxi driver - I think I may have gotten a little giddy with all the newness!  I arrived at their house at about 9pm.  It was dark but I could see just how much snow there was around.  They live in what I consider a very typical New England home, the houses are around 100 years old in this area.  This is Katharines house
It looks big, however this family of seven are having to live with just one bedroom on just the ground floor of their property - that is amazing and the way they are doing it, is such a testament to what God is doing in their lives. (This photo was taken on my last day so the snow had actually melted considerably from when I first saw it).

After an hour getting to know Katharines husband and children I was driven 15 minutes to Brookline where I was staying in a Guest House, and what a guest house it turned out to be:

My room was in the bottom right hand corner as you look at the picture, this was perfect as when Katharine or her husband were coming to collect me I could see them arriving from the warm comfort of my room.  My room was just gorgeous, it was huge and beautifully styled, I didn't even have to make my own bed!

There was a gorgeous writing desk which I made use of.

 and a pretend fire that made the room feel sooooo cosy.

I had reasonable sleep in a very comfortable bed, I was waking up early every day but managed to snooze again after a bit of a read/write.  Saturday morning I went slowly communicating via FB and twitter with Katharine (so no cost involved as there was free wifi!).  When I was ready they came over and collected me, taking me back to their home for the rest of the day.  We had so much fun, the children are lovely and we had a great time of me giving gifts out and them showing me things that they loved/had made/just wanted to show me.  In between Katharine and I got to chat, she is amazing in the kitchen making most of their food from scratch.  I had to take this photograph as it was just how I imagined she looked typing away in her kitchen

The older girls took me on a tour of the whole house, how I am praying that they will be able to get it all habitable VERY soon.  By the time I was taken home, I felt as though I had known them all forever, I collapsed into bed knowing that Sunday was going to be American Culture Day for me.

The day started going to visit their church which I have blogged about on my work blog here.  It was lovely to meet lots of their new friends there.  It was lunch time by the time we got back and a lovely pick and mix lunch was put on with home-made tomato soup - yum yum.

We then had an afternoon to while away, playing games and chatting before the big event - The Superbowl.  Katharines two boys tried so hard to educate me into American Football, they managed a reasonable job, I did have more of an idea by the time it started than I would have done without their help.  During the superbowl we got to eat Tex Mex food which was just absolutely scrumptious (and drink beer!).  By the time it finished we were all very tired, it did not take me long at all to drop to sleep when I was taken back to my room.

Monday unfortunately saw me floored with an awful migraine, this kept me in bed all day.  However by early evening I was starting to feel myself again and was able to get up and took Katharine out for a meal at an indian restaurant and had more scrummy food, after a quick drop into their house afterwards to let the kiddies know that I was okay and it was back to bed.

Tuesday I took a bit of time to myself in the morning,  I walked to Coolridge Corner which is one of two small village centres in Brookline.  Here I was able to look around and spent an age in a fabulous bookshop and just generally window shopping.  The photo shows a small cinema which I then found out was where Katharine and her husband had their first date!

I then went and got myself a taxi (I felt soooo grown up) to the Boston Museum of Fine Art, which I did a small blog about here, as well as the embroideries there was a great exhibition of clothing which was fascinating.  I'll blog on that another time.  As well as some beautiful stained glass which I adore.

This very much made me think of my other internet friend Susanne who Katharine introduced me to over the blogwaves.  Her husband has produced some amazing stained glass.

I had checked out of my guest house but they had kindly let me leave my luggage there, so I got a taxi back to Brookline and Katharine came and fetched me.  We had the chance to have an early supper before embarking on a return adventure on the subway to get me to the airport for my evening flight home.

What did I enjoy most about the trip? well it certainly wasn't Mondays migraine!  Though to just pick one thing out is just impossible.  What I will definitely savour the most I think is the conversation with Katharine.  We talked about what God has and is doing in our lives, and I think both felt that my visit was a gift from God for very different reasons to each other personally.  One thing is for sure,  I know we will be friends for life,  I feel so privileged to have met her children and pray that I will get the pleasure of seeing them turn from fabulous kids to amazing adults.  I shall definitely be saving my pennies for another visit and pray that they might get over to see us to - I have so much to show them!

Friday, 11 February 2011

My work blog

I wrote this blog over on my work blogsite yesterday.  It is all about my experience of Church while I was in Boston in America.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

English Samplers in New England.

While on my travels to Boston USA, I got the opportunity to go and spend a few hours at Boston Museum of Fine Art.  I cannot remember the last time I got to spend time on my own in a museum, only looking at the things that I wanted to look at.  I had hoped that I would get to take my friend Katharine with me but unfortunately when we had it planned I went and had a migraine for the day!  The exhibition I definitely enjoyed the most was confined to one room and it was full of embroidered samplers.  Here are just a small selection with a few close ups - it was incredible that as long as you didn't like use a flash you were allowed to take photographs of everything!

 I find the detail absolutely incredible.

 And adored the sentiments in the paragraph - and it has come true.

These samplers were done by young girls coming over from England as the first settlers were arriving.  I had already known that samplers were done as a way of young girls learning how to stitch and for something to do as entertainment options were severely restricted.  What I had never appreciated before was that they were doing them not only to learn stitches but to remember them as well.  Whereas I can look in books for stitches or look on the Internet to get inspiration when wanting to stitch, these girls had only their samplers to review.  It goes without saying then that those that had the biggest variety of stitching on were probably from the most accomplished stitchers.  When it came later in life for them to be wanting to embroider pillow cases, napkins, dresses, etc they would look to their samplers and decide on the patterns to use.  I far prefer the thought of doing it this way than just looking in books or the Internet as we do now.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Home-schooling - My Way

I have friends in real life and through blogging who home-school.  I would love to have home-schooled.  I have always said that the reason I don't is because I am too selfish with my time.  However thinking about it again last night I realise that one reason that I didn't really consider it was because it was still a very alien thing to do, my experience and exposure when my children were tiny was very limited.  Now I can see that it probably would not have been a good idea on a full time basis for me.  Yesterday I was completely floored by a migraine, in bed sleeping all day.  My husband works and so there would have been nobody to spend anytime with the children, I do not think that would have been good. 

As my health is generally not as good as my peers I have had to learn an awful lot about time management.  My dear friend Katharine introduced  me in her blog to the idea of doing things 10 minutes at a time, she has used this to enable her to home school 5 children and still write - she has just finished her first novel!  I use the 10 minute concept for everything.  On bad days I will clean or do a chore in the kitchen for 10 minutes and then rest for at least as long again.  On very bad days I have to break down even the simplest tasks like getting up in the morning.

One thing I have indulged myself in with my rest periods is reading blogs which is exactly what has brought me to the USA to spend time with a friend with whom I have been blog corresponding (as well as by facebook and twitter) for two years now.  The blogs I seem most drawn to are blogs on living simply, it just turns out that many of these bloggers are home schoolers as well.  I have learnt so much from them and though in the beginning I used to find that I felt guilty for not homeschooling, I can now appreciate the wisdom and look for how I can use it with the time that I do have with my children at home.

I have read this blog this morning from Suzy a UK blogger who is homeschooling her children it is full of such richness for me and encourages me (now with some study behind it) to continue as I am.  A conversation with Katharine last night has helped me to also clarify which areas of my children's education needs most of MY attention with the time limits I have.  Those areas are:
  • Social skills
  • Emotional well-being
  • Relational well-being (especially through puberty)
  • Home-making and financial skills.
It is a hard job not being able to do all aspects of the learning (not to say it would in anyway be easy if I was doing that).  I am going to have to battle with having to help them to unlearn skills that they are picking up at school in order to make room for the ones that I would prefer them to take on board.  That however is a battle I am very willing to take on. 

Thank you all my inspiring blog friends for helping me to get this far.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Dear Sis - Letter number two.

I have written about the background to these letters over here if you are interested in why I have written them.

So what do I want to say to you Sally?  In ten days time you would have been 39.  You were only 36 when you died.  I am not going to say when you left us, that implies that you had some say in it.  I don’t believe you did, given the choice of a healthy life or death you would have grabbed a healthy life with both hands without having to think at all. 

I wonder what your daughter would have chosen to do for your birthday – what do you reckon?  She has asked me if we can watch Dirty Dancing again.  That’s what we did last year, along with eating frozen mandarin cheesecake, she says that was something she had done with you once, a whole one just between the two of you. 

You wouldn’t believe what I am doing at the moment.  It’s the first spontaneous outrageous thing I think I have done since I had the children.  I am on my way to meet someone I have only been in contact with over the internet in Boston in the United States of America.  I only booked it 3 weeks ago – how bonkers is that.  I hope it inspires both of our girls to believe that it is the sort of thing they can do when they are adults.  I am having a real spurt of wanting to ensure that I am setting them both a good example at the moment.  This is especially important at the moment as I been a bit too worn out.  I am sure you can imagine what a big job having Amy with us is.  It seemed so easy when she was a little girl to say to you that we would happily take responsibility for her if anything happened to you.  I don’t think I could have ever actually imagined what it would be like if that something did happen. 

I guess my little daughter has got to the point now where she cannot actually remember much of what life was like before her cousin came to live with us.  Is that a good thing?  In some ways I think it is because she cannot miss what she can’t remember, but sometimes it feels a shame, she has had to grow up very quickly.  With me coming away she wanted to take on the role of being Mummy in the house, hopefully my darling husband will reassure her enough to not let the weight of that responsibility weigh her down.

You would love your nephews laid back attitude to life.  He is finally able to express it as that and not as the uninterested attitude that many people (especially his teachers) have taken it for when he was younger  He is an 11 year old boy who is still enjoying (maybe even more than he used to) cuddles and kisses with his mummy and daddy.  He is also very perceptive and can see when an argument is brewing (especially between Amy and I) and is often able to say something that brings me back down to earth and to being The Parent again.

My dear husband is just as wonderful as ever.  It makes me so proud when I hear him talking to your daughter or about her, an outsider would never know that they were not blood related.  I do sometimes worry that our mad dynamic family is wearing him out to quickly though – his memory is absolutely shocking!  I feel so sad that you never got to experience the same sort of long term feelings as we have, you most certainly deserved to have someone loving you and taking care of you as I am by him. 

Right I am going to finish this off for now, I have completed another first, I have never had a computer on a plane before to tap away on, it’s a very lovely way to have whiled away a little more of the 7 and a bit hour journey I am making.  Miss you so much Sal, you are never far from our thoughts xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Excitedly Nervous

I am about to embark on a trip abroad by myself, the first time I will have done that since I have had children (over 11 years!).  My flight is tomorrow, I'm off to Boston, I'm going to meet up with a friend who I have met through another friend via our blogs.

Thing is I know there will be something that I will have forgotten to take!  I am an experienced enough traveller now to know that I will definately have forgotten something.  I seem to play this little game every time I go away.  Until I leave the door I will be wondering what I have forgotten, once I have left the house, I will start wondering when I am going to remember what it was!  Fortunately I have never so far forgotten anything vital like my passport - though have been away with people who have suddenly discovered that they have lost theirs the day before we travel!

One new thing that I will be taking with me this time is our little netbook.  We got this second hand from another friend a couple of months ago to help out with the children when they are all needing to look up things for thier homework.  As it is considerably lighter than my laptop I should be able to carry it along with cameras in my hand luggage without too much difficulty.    This will mean that I can keep in touch with my lovely family at home if the need overcomes me.  Mind you it will also mean that if Katharine and I discover we do not know how to communicate face to face we could always sit next to each other with our computers on :o).  Hopefully I might even get the opportunity to blog while I am away.  What fun!