2 Cor 12v9

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Good Friday Fun on the Farm

We spent yesterday in the Lake District at a friend’s farm. It’s the third time we’ve done it during a lambing season and the boys absolutely love it. As well as getting treated to a warm welcome and a huge feast (including rhubarb and raspberry crumble which was one of the best combinations EVER!), the farmer allows the boys to get stuck in with the animals. We went up on the fells to herd sheep into different fells, rescue small ones stuck between fences, and reunite lambs with their mothers.
Ace is in his element in environments like this. It’s about doing, not talking – using intuition and all the senses to engage, and learning with his hands. We brought a lamb down from the fells that had been rejected by its mother. He carried it all the way back himself and sat cuddling it at the bottom waiting for the farmer to return. He kept reading the number sprayed on its side and whispering to it; ‘One hundred and twenty three. I will remember your number and then I will know you.’ I think he’s logged it for our return next spring J
In the barn with the parentless lambs:

Scooby was keen too:

Turtle and Rocky were more cautious and kept their distance but they were all very keen on the idea of these:

Thankfully so was the farmer and unexpectedly gave Richard the key to the other one:

I don’t know who was more excited, him or the boys (although once they got up on the hills Scooby was clinging on for dear life screaming ‘This is the best day of my life! This is better than Christmas!!!’, so maybe actually the boys won):

Turtle got to ride up front with the farmer:

Me and Baby headed back to the farmhouse for a peaceful rest while they spun round the hills for forty five minutes.
They arrived back dirty, windswept and tired out – just as a day out for boys ought to make them.
And an extra highlight for me was this. As we were wandering, Ace spotted a piece of wood and ran excitedly to his brothers yelling, ‘I found it! I found Jesus’s cross!’
We turned to look and there he was with this:

For a boy who is short on words but big on actions, I love what he’s captured here, especially this ‘power’ shot J

Thankyou so much, our farm friends!

Thursday, 14 April 2011


I am a rubbish photographer. I often see potential amazing scenes that are in front of me every single day but I know that in trying to capture them I usually miss the moment by a mile and in trying to reproduce them once the moment has passed I just get cranky children giving me weird looks into the camera.
That’s motherhood I guess. A thousand amazing golden magical moments every day but a brain that’s been turned to mush and is incapable of holding any of them in its memory.
Anyway, these are from a while back (about 18 months ago) and are taken by an amazing photographer with an amazing camera and a tidy background (yes, the three things that I don’t have). Obviously they didn’t make the cut into wall photos but I kept them and saved under the name ‘potential’. I love the story they tell.

 ‘Okay, fantastic positioning. I’ll just adjust the light and the focus, then I need all of you to look at me and smile at the same time.’

‘No no, ignore your daddy making funny faces over there, look this way towards me. And smile.’

‘No really! I’m over here! Scooby, there’s nothing under there, leave the backdrop alone – this way please!’

‘No no! Now two of you are looking and smiling but Rocky has got up – go back! Back! Not you Ace! Come back out from the curtain!’

‘Aargh – it’s too late. We’ve lost the shot and the camera is about to be eaten....’

‘Oh well. I guess we'll go with one instead.’  J

Magic moments can come in so many different ways, but rarely what we are expecting.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


I cannot imagine life without brothers and sisters. I know many people don’t have that luxury due to circumstances beyond their control, and I am so glad I am not one of them. I grew up in a family of four children, and was determined to have four children myself. But then I got greedy and added an extra.
I don’t know why I was so determined to have four. If you’d have seen me as a twelve year old, claiming that my brothers were the worst creatures on earth and that I couldn’t stand being around them, you’d have wondered why I was thinking of inflicting the same punishment on my own children in the future. Fighting over who controlled the remote, yelling at them for stepping into my private sanctuary  bedroom, kicking each other under the table for making irritating noises at meal times and trying to spread the blame for any trouble we found ourselves in – we must have driven our parents crazy. There were times of real genuine loathing in our teenage years where our prime aim in life seemed to be to either gain supremacy over each other (through verbal arguments or worse) or just make sure we avoided each other like the plague. I honestly started a weekly countdown in my head in the year before my older brother left to go to university.
Despite all the aggravation though, there was something about the security of having those people alongside me in life, sharing experiences and learning to navigate  a path with them already on it. Between the conflicts, there were (sometimes few and far between) moments of comradeship and understanding that made it all worth it. I can’t say I ever remember my older brother specifically rescuing me at any point during our school years, but just having someone always in the year ahead of me meant that I never had any fear of what was coming up, even though I was really really shy when I was little. I think I just assumed if he was already there, then it would be okay, and if there was anything to warn me about, he would let me know first. (In fact, I do remember a late night talk now just before I started high school where I was filled in with some general lingo and innuendo that meant I wouldn’t be exposed to any ridicule by not knowing it. I don’t know what cost you bought all that information at, but you saved me the same grief by passing it all on for free. Thanks bruv.)
I can’t imagine who I would be now without those experiences. I think I may well have grown up with an unrealistic view of who I am. There’s nothing like siblings to bring out the worst in you and make you face those secret, unpleasant places that can so easily be hidden to the rest of the world. Without that, how would you grow as a person and understand your need for forgiveness and redemption?
As we have grown into adulthood, our relationships have changed hugely. We are now really close friends and allies. We have challenged each other, helped each other and even lived with each other temporarily without any fighting between us!
And there have been several times when I honestly think we have saved each others’ futures. There are at least two occasions in the last few years where one of us was teetering on the brink of making choices that would have caused irreparable damage, and at the point of crisis, it was siblings who were there in the right place at the right time to tip the scales back. God used that unique brother-sister relationship of equality, common history and knowing each other inside out which meant we could hear and grasp the heartbreaking agony of making those decisions but still speak the truth that needed to be said.
Of course there have been other times when we have interfered and got it really wrong, but we’re allowed to do that with each other too!
I hope and pray I can foster some of the same relationships in my own children and see that irreplaceable bond between them in their adult lives too. I hope it will make my own times of watching the sibling rivalry more bearable. I may need to remind myself of the necessity of it a few more times before I’m done.
We have walked together, cried together and celebrated together and I think we will continue to do so for many years to come.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Why I Don't Do Twitter

There are two reasons.
One is that I am really nosey and would feel compelled to check everything posted by everyone I followed and it would steal many hours of my time. I just about manage to keep up with Facebook.
And the other one is I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to read the domesticated drivel that makes up my daily life. Here is what today would look like for example:

0645:  Please Baby it's Saturday. Go back to sleep.
0654:  Will regret it later but now am so happy she likes to pull all the shoes from wardrobe. Her fun = our few more minutes sleep.
0721:  Oh beautiful Saturdays with your precious lie-ins. How I do love you. And my husband who gets up with children.
0837:  Lie in over. Awoken to pancake wars downstairs.
0856:  I love my cooking husband. These are the fattest pancakes I’ve ever seen. Bravo.
0921:  Under table sweeping. I spend a lot of time down here.
0937:  Usual decision between shower or dealing with pandemonium. The latter won again, of course.
0958:  Trying to get Baby down for nap but apparently Scooby’s reading record needs to be signed NOW. It just can’t wait till Monday morning.
1013:  Darn it. Finally got Baby to sleep but R is fixing sink so all water is off. Missed my shower window – now in pyjamas for rest of morning.
1027:  Rocky found white board markers and decorated himself AGAIN. Have no high places left to hide them.
1045:  In playroom with boys doing what should be our weekly tidy up, except we've been out for the last few Saturdays. This is going to hurt.

1107:  Losing the will to live.

1119:  Taking a break with juice and biscuits and showing the boys Grocery Store Wars on YouTube.

1140:  Restarted playroom excavation. Had inspired idea to play Richard’s American Anthems CD while we do it - boys all pumped up now!

1146:  Oh yes. RunDMC and Bon Jovi are getting things moving!

1214:  Wow, best tidying session ever. Must remember to use that idea again!
1233:  Ace is playing peekaboo with Baby and she is giggling so much. Love their mutual love.

 1302:  Saturday = soup for lunch day, nom nom nom.
1336:  Post meal sweeping again, mixed in with a little wiping down of soup smeared children.

1355:  Shower is running again, time to be clean!

1418:  Ew. Just put Richard’s work clothes in the laundry. Stuff on them I didn't want to see or touch. Wish I'd saved my shower till after. Boak.

1532:  Walking along the prom. I love how Morecambe comes alive in the spring :)

1555:  Boys playing a ‘find every colour in nature’ search. Struggled for purple until Turtle pointed out bruise on baby's forehead.

1611:  Stopped for toilet break and to get cash for ice cream van. Too cold for ice cream really but the van’s there so it must be done.
1649:  Going to pick up 100 daffodils reserved at flower shop on way home. Will be giving them to ladies on the prom tomorrow J

1710:  Mix up - our flowers been given to someone else. Only unopened daffs left which look like sticks of asparagus! They won’t make anyone’s day!
1724:  Home and cooking tea while Richard goes on a flower hunt.
1749:  Now have bucket full of roses and tulips from Asda at 5x cost of daffs but they are very beautiful. Maybe God knew we needed better ;)
1758:  Baby ate carrots til she tasted potato wedges. Now all carrots are on the floor.
1804:  Now all potatoes on the floor & she is crying for more fish. Mental note: must make her eat ALL unfave first before giving her fave food...
1818: You’ve guessed it – time to sweep!
1851:  Move night YEH! Usually Fridays but had meeting last night. Brew, popcorn and many people under a blanket.
1932:  Aargh. They love new Karate Kid movie but keep hopping up to copy the moves! Be still children!
2027:  Have paused movie to finish tomorrow night. It is good but very long and R has work to do for church tomorrow.
2044:  Well, laundry mountain, it’s just you, me and a cup of tea. And maybe a Mark Driscoll podcast to keep my brain awake.

2150:  My quest for simplifying sock pairing is paying off. Everyone now has one colour each and life is much simpler.
2202: Still pondering the sad state of that last message and how excited I am about new socks that save time.
2327:  Mountain defeated and organised into beautifully cuboid piles. Ironing will have to wait till tomorrow though, too much to do.

See? It would depress me too much to read back on my day. And I think the only people who would appreciate knowing these details are other people who have similarly mundane domestic schedules. So if you’ve enjoyed reading this then.....