Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Busy, busy, busy {and a home-ed freebie find!}

I just wanted to check in, to let you know I am still alive and well!  Just very busy!

This is the week we have our Holiday Bible Club at our Church.  It's crazy for the days leading up, and crazy busy the week it is on. But, such a worthwhile thing to do.  Reaching boys and girls with the news of salvation!   We had 21 Yesterday, and 29 today, so we are rejoicing in that. Praying for even more children tomorrow (and I have ordered extra craft supplies in the hope that we do!)

Please pray that the Lord would bless this week, and we would see souls saved.

I just wanted to also quickly share something with you.  With Tapestry of Grace, we sometimes have classic stories which the older ones read.  I like the younger ones to share these stories, but at their own level, so I have bought Penguin Young Classics in the past. They are also included as literature books, officially, on the way through TOG.

I had picked up one, last Christmas, of A Christmas Carol, to work on in the last week of school before Christmas.  I had googled free worksheets, and found a random page to accompany the Penguin Young Classic book. It had various types of questions to accompany the book, chapter by chapter. It was a great find, and I intended to find out exactly where this PDF had come from, but had forgotten.
Scroll forward to last weekend.  A fellow TOGster  (what we fondly call other TOG Mums! - a TOG-Sister!) had asked about literature suggestions for a reluctant reader.  I had suggested subbing in some of the classic books, with Penguin Young Classics, instead.  It then got me looking for the list, which brought me to the website, upon which I stumbled across the source of all the *FREE* wonderful worksheets and teacher idea sheets to go alongside each book!!!


All you have to do is go to this page, click on "Teacher's Area", and it will ask you to register with the website.  Once you have registered, go back through that area again.  You will find a box on the left which says "Go to Penguin Readers".  Click on that, and it will bring you to a page with an orange bar down the left side, with various headings.  Click on "Downloads Area".  That will bring you the page, with the 6 levels of readers.  Click on the level you want, and it will list ALL the books available for that reading stage, and then "Teacher's Notes", "Activity Worksheets" and "Answer keys".  I was very excited about this find, as you can turn simple literature assignments into a deeper learning experience, ALL FOR FREE!!! The teachers notes give great ideas for discussion and related activities.  The Activity worksheets give you all sorts of different comprehension and deeper study questions.

Considering it is all free, I think it's a great place to find ideas to expand the experience - instead of simply reading a story, they can think about what they have learnt as well.

Having now just looked a bit deeper, whilst typing up this post, I found something ELSE!!! With that log in that you have done for the above, you can also access resources for their new range of graded reading books! They are called "Penguin Kids - Graded Readers".  Most of them are adaptations of Disney animations, with a few factual ones as well. Go HERE, log in with the same details that you registered above, and you will see a link, in a green picture box on the right, to "Teacher's Notes and Audio".  You can then find lots of great, fun ideas to expand the themes in these books, and worksheets to go alongside!! Also, the audio version of each of the books - so they can become a "read-along"!!  Again, it turns a simple reading book, into a whole literature lesson! If you don't like Disney stories, this will not float your boat.  If you do, you will be thrilled!  It would be especially great for young readers.

I would definitely say that this is my Home-ed find of the week!!!

All you need to do now is look at the lists of books available, choose one (or, maybe more....!!) and get started! You may even be able to pick them up in your local library, but if not, they are not very expensive on Amazon.

Ok.  That's all folks.  I am alive.  I am tired.  I am sharing!!!

Have fun, and I hope to get another post up later in the week.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Patient Gardener (growth takes time)

This summer I am finally getting to see some growth in my garden.  The smaller plants that I put in last year are now filling out the borders.  Once they begin to flower, it will look fuller and more mature. There's still room for growth - for change - for adjustments.  It's takes TIME, though.  Knowing what works best in certain places is not an instant thing.  You need to watch the plants in the place you have put them, and sometimes they need to be moved.

I have bought some new shrubs for another border, that my lovely husband has cleared for me (in my opinion, if a plant has not got a)flowers, b)interesting foliage or c) pretty branches when the leaves fall off in winter, it's not worth being in my garden.....so, plants WENT!!)  I have bought a ceanothus, a philadelphus and a lilac. The philadelphus (mock orange blossom) holds distinct memories of my childhood - the heady scent of that plant brings me right back to my early years, when my Mum had one and the neighbours down the road had a HUGE one on the corner of their garden, right where we walked past! The thing is, what I would REALLY love is to have a fully grown plant of each of those, instantly appear in my garden.  I think it's possible to get much larger plants than the ones I bought, but for a MUCH larger price. So, I have to wait - wait for the plants to grow into something that is more mature and sturdy.

I don't know what your personality is like, but I have a bit of a struggle with patience.  Ok, so more than a bit.  It has taken me time (and I am STILL learning) to have patience in  life.  I'm talking about patience with others, here.  I especially struggle with others who don't "get" what I am trying to explain to them, or they just don't understand or grasp something that I find quite simple.

I tried to teach my children how to play the piano, a couple of years ago, but we kind of gave up because I struggled to have patience with them when they didn't "get it" as quickly as I thought they should.

It's a battle in my life, and I wish that I could just fix it in an instant.

How about those traits in the lives of our husband and children?  Those faults that we see, those sins that they struggle with, the character that we are trying to grow up in the children?  The "annoying" personality traits in our spouse?  Things that can irritate, or simply things that are sinful that we wish we could just remove in an instant?  Our children displaying attitudes and behaviour that are far from perfect. We pray, hope and try to encourage growth and change.

What about our OWN lives?  We see failings in others, but we are far from perfection ourselves!! I inwardly despair at times, at my own lack of spirituality - at my stumbling time and again.  The same struggles and battles seem to remain.

We want all these things to instantly mature. Like my garden, we want to see them full height straight away.  But our spiritual life is no different to my garden. It doesn't happen straight away.  In fact, we are told in the scriptures that sanctification is NOT instant.  It takes time.  It takes the Holy Spirit working daily in our lives - a continual growth  - in order for us to become more like the Lord and reach more maturity in a spiritual sense.

Just like my garden, the way to growth is time, water and food. I need patience.  I need to make sure the plants are nourished and watered in whilst they establish and grow.  So it is with those around us - and for growth in our OWN life.  We have to run with PATIENCE the race that is set before us. We need to patiently work at growing more like the Lord.  Feeding on God's Word, being watered with prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Waiting for our character to become more Christ-like, and to mature and grow.

Is there some area in our husband or children's life, that we have been praying for change in?  Change takes TIME.  We need patience, and allow the Lord to work in their lives, as it takes time in our own.  Children, especially, require our patience.  They take time to grow, develop and mature in their lives.

There's really no such thing as an instant garden.  Similarly, there is no such thing as instant and complete sanctification! Be patient whilst your "garden" grows around you.  With time, you will find plants growing, flourishing and looking healthy, strong and truly beautiful.  Just be patient!

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
II Peter 3:18

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Chatting with Patrice {on the Farmhouse Porch}

Well, a good day to you Patrice!  We still have our hot weather, here in the UK.  We also had a night of ALMIGHTY thunder-storms, which kept me awake and then had me sweltering in the humidity. But, the rain made caring for the garden a bit easier the next day! *grin*

So, chatting with you today, as we finish up our shcool for the summer, and get started on summer sorting, planning and organising, ready for September to roll around.... oh, and ready for a new addition to our family. 

There won't be as much publicity about the ariival of OUR baby, as there has been for HRH George Alexander Louis Mountbatten-Windsor, but our baby will be loved deeply and dearly, nonetheless. 

So, onto our chat!
  1. Do you use any type of water filter (pitcher or sink mount) 
We have a lovely, big, Brita filter "tank", that belongs in the fridge.  I am a stickler for only really enjoying water if it is COLD.  

At the moment, however, we are having fridge issues.

What issue?

The fridge is not big enough for our family's needs.  So, the filter tank had to come out. 

Sad days.

It sits, looking sad and unloved, on top of my fridge.  Waiting.  Just WAITING, for me to buy a bigger fridge, so it can go back where it belongs!

In the meantime, it's ice cubes all the way.  It's the only way to get a REALLY lovely, cold drink of water in this weather. 

2. Do you have any tips for staying hydrated in the warmer weather?

Drink lots.

Sorry, is there any other answer??....

3.  Is your hair naturally curly or straight?

Now, this is an interesting question. 

My hair USED to be quite straight.  In fact, almost completely straight, with a little bit of a kink on the way down, which was just annoying.  

Hair straighteners were not even thought of.

Then, I had lots of children.  Or, was it that I just got older?   Who knows?  One of the two, has meant my hair has got wavyier and fuller as time goes by. Now, if I leave it to dry naturally (is there any other way??  Hairdryer, you say?  Phshaw.... I have no time for such things...), without even combing it until it's dry (don't worry, it doesn't look horrendous during that time...not that I ever look at myself in the mirror to check...), then it gets really wavy and full these days!!   I wouldn't quite say it was CURLY, but it is certainly not straight!!

4. Are you on top of all the chores/work you do, or are you always running behind?

*Coughs, splutters, and nearly chokes on the drink she is not actually drinking, but if she was, she would be choking...*

On top?   Does that mean like on the summit?  Looking down below at what lies beneath?  

I am RIGHT on top of decluttering - yup, there is a huge pile of clutter to sort, and I am RIGHT on top of it, looking in despair at what needs to be sorted. Sitting, forlornly, looking down on it all. 

I have just about conquered mount laundry... for today.  That is until tomorrow, when we make more clothes dirty, and it all starts again.

To give a serious answer, there are some things that I have got more on top of lately, and plan to blog about in the very near future. Then there are other things (like that clutter) that seem to be a constant struggle. 

So, a bit of both?

5.  If you could sing a song to Wendell, what would it be?


It would have to be a firm favourite of my children.  The regularly ask for it, and enjoy the excitement it brings....

Is this just a British thing - sitting your children on your knee and singing this song, bouncing them up and down?  Then putting them REALLY high on the "giddy up" part?  They especially love it if we also drop them down at the end!

Well, it's been lovely to chat, as ever. Hope you have a wonderful week, and I hope to chat again soon!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Family resemblance {who do our children look like, REALLY?}

The world is in waiting.

Well, OK, maybe not the whole world.  Certainly, a lot of people, and especially mothers who know what being through labour is like.

Waiting for the Duchess of Cambridge to have her baby.

We had the official announcement this morning, from Buckingham Palace, that she was, indeed, in the early stages of labour, and at hospital.  It's a first baby, and so like many other first time deliveries, it is unlikely to be swift.

It won't be long, in once sense, before the world will get to see the long-awaited "Royal Baby".  How quickly will there be the comments along the lines of "Isn't he/she like her mother/father?" We always like to be able to catch a glimpse of a particular parent in a child.

I don't know about others, but in our family we often get remarks about how much our children look like a parent.  More often than not, they see them looking like Daddy, and his side of the family.  Sometimes, they will see them looking like me, or as I looked when I was a child.  Sometimes they look like cousins, or how an aunt or uncle looked when they were wee.

This first picture is of Robert (on the right) and his brother, Edward, and his sister, Anna.  I can certainly see some family likeness here, especially with Anna, more than with Robert! I can Simeon in Anna!

My sister dug out some of our old photos recently, and I can see family resemblances quite clearly.

This Angela, David, Stephen and I. (from L-R)

(Angela, Stephen and I, from  L-R)

I can especially see Elijah looking like Stephen, in the photo above.

For those who know my children well enough, you can make up your own mind!  One thing is for sure, when my children looked at them today, they all knew who their Auntie Angela was!

But, thinking about family resemblances, got me thinking about something else.

We all want to think our children look like us - you long to see little traits that are like yourself, reflected in your children.  Eye colour, smile, dimples....

But what about how they BEHAVE?  Is there a family resemblance in CHARACTER?  Certainly, there are little things that we can chuckle about.  The same way the boys can't find things, just like their Daddy. The same way the girls "talk" with their hands, just like their Mummy.  What makes them smile and laugh. When you notice that Simeon says "hiya" and he says it because that's what I say every time I get him out of his cot. The little things that wind them up.  They just seem to somehow be "inherited" sometimes - like it's a built in character trait.

Then, there are the resemblances that make us laugh in an awkward kind of way.

When we notice them getting frustrated about things - and see that it's the the same things WE get frustrated about.

When we hear them use the same expression of annoyance with their siblings, that WE use with them.

When we hear them shout at each other over things that really don't matter, just like WE do.....

Seeing BAD things in our children, that resemble our own sinful and weak behaviour.  Not so good. No smiles about that.  Only a sad despair, that we are not passing on the right "traits" to our children.

It's so challenging.

So convicting.

So awful.

To see or hear them mirroring our behaviour.  The not-so-good behaviour.

There is good news, though.  They are still young.  With God's grace, those negative traits can be turned into positive.

It takes effort.  It takes diligence.  It takes time.  It takes us to be patient with them, and to persevere in the training that is required to guide them in right ways.

It's not just effort with our children.  It's effort in our own hearts and lives.  If our children are reflecting negative traits from us, then *WE* need to work to hammer out those imperfections in our OWN behaviour, so they are not reflected in our children's. We need to daily seek to stamp out the "old man", and seek God's help to nurture what is good and right. Firstly in ourselves, and then in the lives of our children.

Remember, God is gracious with us in our failings.  If we come repentantly, seeking His forgiveness and mercy, He is gracious.  Remember that we need to show that same grace toward our children, as they grow and learn as well.

This week, I will endeavour to make sure that the family resemblances that I see in my children, are reflected from the image of Christ that is seen in me, and not in the sinful character that I need to stamp out, by God's grace.

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
1John 3:18  

Friday, 19 July 2013

Perspective {how motherhood changes your outlook}

{warning - this post contains details about bodily functions...wooses, walk away *winks*}

Can you remember life before children?

I can barely remember such a thing. I have now been a mother for around a third of my life.

Marriage brings the first changes of adult life.  You go from "me" to "us".  Instead of thinking about only yourself, you are thinking alongside a partner, as one, new unit.

Then comes the children.

You go from "us" to "everyone".  You lose the ability to think more than one straight thought in a line.  In fact, you do well to think one straight thought AT ALL.  With children, who jump from one thing to another, it's hard to remember where you are and what you were actually DOING, before they made an enquiry.

That aside, (see, I can't even think straight in anything - motherhood, plus pregnancy, kind of has that effect....) I was also contemplating about what makes me excited in life.

Before marriage, I was excited about trips out with friends, or holidays.

After marriage, I was excited about days off work with Robert, meals out, easily planned and implemented trips to visit family, and quiet evenings playing board games and impromptu suppers with friends.

I realised how much life had changed, for the umpteenth time, this morning.

You see, I am attempting to toilet train Elijah.... AGAIN.  I tried, with no success whatsoever, last year.  Now that I am a) allowed to lift heavy things again (ie, ELijah), b) not feeling nauseous any more, c) experiencing warm weather with more outside play time, and d) aware of my increasingly large middle, and impending struggle to walk, never mind think about toilet-training, I decided that it was time to try again.  Plus, this whole "another-child-crawling-around-getting-in-the-way-whilst-trying-to-change-his-brother's-dirty-nappy" thing, was not amusing me much.

So, the forecast said "more good weather", my diary said "not going out this week", and I said "let's give it a whirl".

Monday dawned.  Conveniently, Elijah obliged with a dirty nappy, before we got as far as pants.  (Readers from the USA - from now on, read "pants" as an underwear item, ok??) *Phew*.  One less pair of dirty pants to clean THAT day.  Initially, how shall I say this?.... he was NOT keen to put on pants. (read "screamed, yelled, and made a huge fuss about it, despite them having Lightning McQueen on them"....)  Having "got over" that problem (read, "with application....") he was then keen to be a "big boy".  He squeezed very hard, and a reasonable dribble came out, on first attempt.  We went out in the afternoon, and he didn't want to take pants off, so we put a nappy over the top.  He even slept on the way home.  He was DRY when we returned.  However, he then (conveniently) did a wee outside when we got home.  Very little in the toilet all day - several accidents - but a very keen little boy, who kept coming voluntarily to TRY and do something.  Not MANY accidents, really.  I have concluded his bladder holds its contents quite well! (Or, I am not having him drink enough, or both...)

Day 2, something similar.  Day 3, same again.  Very little done in the toilet.  2 poo accidents a day.  (At least THAT is a blessing.... twice a day, I can cope with.)

Wednesday night, I was talking to Robert.  I was wondering if Elijah had an issue with knowing how to make his brain understand how to allow the wee to pass. Like he couldn't make the connection as to what to do.  I asked some friends for prayer on the issue, as I want to be a wise Mum, to know how to help and encourage him, in this vital, but hateful task.  (I really do NOT enjoy this part of child-training).

Imagine my surprise, then, this morning.  Elijah finished breakfast, and asked to go to the toilet.  His nappy was DRY!!! He had stayed dry ALL NIGHT!! Now, this alone was exciting, as my boys have not got a good track history of night-time dryness. I praised him, and told him he was a good boy.  He sat for a moment, but told me he couldn't do a wee.  I went off to put some things in the bin, and put him back on the toilet (because, of course, he had followed me, half-naked, whilst I went to the bin...).  I told him to try again.  And, would you believe it?.... he did a massive wee in the toilet!!!! I was SO excited!!! I jumped up and down, screaming in a rather high-pitched voice"you CLEVER boy", , whilst clapping !!! Yes, I looked slightly insane.  But, I was excited!!! I had only just asked for prayer, HOURS before, and here I was having it answered!  He got FIVE little sweets for his achievement, and he was SO chuffed.

I came away chuckling.  How excited can one mother get about a child WEEING, in the toilet?!?? Pretty excited, I tell you.  It made me chuckle, because to so many, it would mean NOTHING.  Why get so excited about urinary output?  It was so much more than that, though.  It was an answer to prayer.  It was a little boy mastering something.  It was me not having to clean up a mess.  SO many things.

OK, so based on the rest of my day, MASTERING, may be slightly extreme.  Doing something ONCE, may be more accurate.  Do it, he did, though! The small step forward - the positivity - my excitement over something quite weird - has kept me feeling positive for the rest of the day.

It made me think that I need to look more to the positives in life, instead of dwelling on the not-so-good stuff.  You know, the kind of stuff that happens all day, as a mother?  Bickering children.  Hurts and accidents.  Children not doing as they are told.  Disasters of all grades and descriptions.  If I can use a positive toilet-training experience to keep me joyful, I must surely be able to find something good in EVERY day??

The Lord tells us, "in everything give thanks". There is something to be thankful for, no matter the situation you are in.  Sometimes I can find it quite easily - like Elijah's major achievement.  Other days, I *MAY* have to look a bit harder.  But, the lesson I have learnt, is that it is up to me to make my day positive, by having the right attitude.  A stick-in-the-mud, who is very matter of fact about things, may not have allowed themselves to be propelled through the day, with joy, by something so mundane.  I CHOSE to have the right attitude.  Many days, sadly, I don't.  I don't stop for long enough to find those "joy in the mundane" moments, and so my day is shaped accordingly.  I get more easily frazzled, and I don't have the same positive outlook.

So, I carry on with the toilet training. I have Elijah's enthusiasm, and the joy of the Lord as my strength.   It may not work out as fast as I would like, as mess-free as I would like, or the way I would like, but we will get there in the end.

No matter how much life has changed from how it used to be, I can still choose to have the right attitude, and make my days run along smoother.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pregnancy Update {rejoicing, with good news!}

It has come to my attention that I have not given you a recent update on the pregnancy situation.  I had such a busy week last week, that I forgot to let people know how it had gone.  BAD me.

As I mentioned at my 20 week scan, the consultant wanted to see me every 4 weeks, and for me to have a scan before I saw her each time.  It seemed rather tedious to me, but I was willing to accept the situation, if she thought it was necessary.

So, last Wedenesday, I trotted off to the hospital for my scan and appointment. I was so relieved that I didn't have ages to wait, and the appointements all ran pretty much on time. Rare!

I went in for my scan first.  It wasn't my best ever sonographer experience.  She wasn't exactly chatty, and was quite cut and dried/matter of fact.  She very simply checked the head circumference and abdomen circumference, as you would for a growth scan, whilst asking why the consultant wanted it done at all?!?  I explained about the bleed, at the start of the scan. Then, she was about to finish, WITHOUT CHECKING!!! I had to remind her to look for the area of haemorrhage.  I must admit, she was not as slow, and careful, as the previous sonographers had been, in checking it.  But, even as far as my untrained eye could see, there appeared to be no area of bleed any more! She declared the same, and printed off my report.

So, next it was in to see the Consultant. She was a nice lady, and I have been happy to see her.  She looked at the scan results, (after commenting, again, about my lovely, low blood pressure!) and stated it was all looking good and I didn't need to come and see her any more!!  I was so glad about it, as it means I get to see my lovely Community Midwife instead.  I asked her if she wanted to see me at 37 weeks, like they normally do, because I am "high risk" (multiple pregnancies, over 35, and had a previous c-section for number 5....). The answer?.... NO!! Observing that I have had 2 very good deliveries since the c-section, and always have healthy pregnancies, she saw no need for me to come in before 40 weeks. WOOHOO! As her clinic is a Wednesday, and I am due on a Saturday, she gave me the choice of the 30th of October (39+4), or the 6th of November (40+4).   I asked if it mattered, and before I got the chance to decide, she just said the 6th of November would be fine - "to give me a chance to go naturally, before even going in and discussing induction"!!

There you now have my prayer request!  To labour naturally, before I need to see her again.  Now, bear in mind that my average amount to be overdue is more like 6 days (maybe the average is actually more, since my 12 days over last time....?), then to be less than 4 days overdue may be quite an ask! But, nothing is too hard for the Lord, right? They would not induce at 4 days over, but it would just be nice to not have to go back in for that appointment.  At least I know where I will be on Wednesday morning, on the 6th of November!

I am so thankful that things that seemed so bad, humanly speaking, at the beginning of all of this, have turned out so well.  I feel incredibly blessed.

I would say that it has made me far more appreciative of every moment of my pregnancy.  We cannot take the future for granted, at all.  I still do not know what the future holds for this precious babe, but I know I need to continue steadfast in hope.  I am trusting in God alone, for the future.  I will love and enjoy every little flutter and kick from my baby, even if it is uncomfortable or at a time where I would rather be resting! These are my little connections with the precious child growing within me, that God has blessed only the mother to experience.  What an amazing privilege! I may be hot, but I would rather be hot and pregnant, than cooler and not. I may struggle as the weeks go on, but better to struggle and be pregnant, than to have a life of more ease, and not. Pregnancy is a blessing of its own, never mind the wonderful conclusion, when you get to finally hold that longed for babe in your arms. The joy of knowing a baby is growing, developing, and getting ready for "arrival", all in a fearful and wonderful way.

There we have it.  My positive update, on Cordle baby number 8.

Only about 15 weeks left.  Time flies!

(This picture is a few weeks old - I am even bigger now!!)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Praise where praise is due {saying "thank-you" to your husband}

There seems to be a concerning trend, in today's world, of being openly critical of one's husband.  People seem to think it's all ok to groan, complain, grumble and downright speak BADLY of their husband.

I don't like it ONE BIT.

I'm talking about in a very open, public way.  I know some ladies who have shared struggles and difficulties, but not in a disrespectful or nasty way.

Others, however, are not so wise and restrained.

It's not how we should be about ANYONE, let alone the husband that we have been blessed with.  Such negativity is detrimental on so many levels.  It shows a  lack of respect.  It shows a lack of self-control of the tongue.  It shows a lack of honour.  It shows a lack of thankfulness and gratitude.

On the internet, it is referred to as "husband-bashing".  I think that paints a rather accurate picture.

It goes totally against the instruction in Ephesians.

"and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5:33

It is not showing that we revere and respect our husbands, if we are openly critical of them.

In a day and age like this, I think there is a simple antidote.

Praise and thankfulness.

When last did you express your appreciation for your husband.  I'm not just talking about THINKING it. I'm referring to TELLING it.

Telling your children.

Telling your family.

Telling your friends.


It can be so incredibly easy to be nit-picky and negative.  To find what's WRONG, instead of being thankful for what's RIGHT.  It can happen with our children, and with other people, too - but, it's really not nice to hear women being negative about their husband.

So, how do you combat such negativity?  Decide to start being thankful and giving praise where it is due.

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

Edifying means to "build up", or encourage, and the grace, spoken of here, refers to gratitude.  Our words should be used to encourage and show gratitude!

I think most husbands like to hear that you appreciate them.  To know that you see, and are thankful for, the things that they do.

My lovely man has been VERY busy around here lately. He has been busy with Church things, as always, but he has been doing a lot in the home. He cleared a border in the garden.  He laid some paving slabs, ready to put a shed in the garden. He built a shed.  Not a diddy one, quite a reasonable sized one.  Before that, he treated the fence that would get blocked in by the shed, and the all the parts of the shed before he built it. It took him a lot of time and effort to do it.  The shed - was it for him to have a place of retreat and escape?  No.  It was for the children to have their bikes brought back to the house, after being away at the Church shed since before we moved house - they have not had them for pushing on 2 years. Now the shed is built, the bikes are back.  They have needed quite a lot TLC, to get them back in use.  Robert has then spent a lot of time repairing them - doing things that I would have NO idea how to do - to get them in a usable state.  He has made some VERY happy children, and another will be happy today.

It would be so easy to take all his efforts for granted.  To just watch all he is doing, without acknowledging the hard work he has put into it.  That would show an incredible lack of appreciation on MY part. Instead, I have been letting him know that I think that he is simply great! I express my thanks, for the skills and gifts that God has given him, which allow him to be so "handy" around our home.

Which one of us does not appreciated being thanked for what we do?I know Robert doesn't DO it FOR the thanks, but I am sure it encourages him, nonetheless.

I think it's also important to be an example to our children.  If we constantly receive from others, and accept their efforts and the good that they do, all without showing thankfulness, then it's not setting a very good example.  It's never good to take the gifts and kindness of another for granted.  It's certainly not how we should want to raise our children.  They should hear us express our thankfulness to GOD, first and foremost, but also to each other.

There are several outcomes from having a spirit of thankfulness and encouragement.  First of all, you will encourage a general spirit of love and kindness in your home.  If our words are filled with positives, our home will be filled with the same spirit.  Secondly,  you will help to motivate them in what they are already doing.  So, if it's a practical thing, just a few words of encouragement from you may help them to finish get the job done, because you have helped their heart! Thirdly, you will encourage your husband to carry on with what they are doing.  The more you encourage whatever good you see in them, the more likely they are to carry on with the same good. Maybe there are only glimmers of things that you feel you can give encouragement in?  The little words of praise you bring, will help that good to grow, and overflow into other areas. Fourthly, and really importantly, you are showing a spirit of Christ in your home, and encouraging a loving and generous spirit.  Generosity and giving is not simply about physical giving - the giving of THINGS. It's about giving in other ways, too - and that includes our words and our attitudes.

"provoke unto love and to good works:"
Hebrews 10:24

The key to it all, of course, is our own hearts, above all else.  Do you see what we read in Matthew?

"for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things:"
Matthew 12:34&35

It's what is in our HEARTS, that comes out of our MOUTHS.  If we do not have a heart that is LOOKING for the good -  FINDING the blessings - GRATEFUL for the good - then, it's not going to come out of our mouths.  If we are busily festering thoughts of ungratefulness, or bitterness, or negativity, then we are not going to express thankfulness and love.  If our hearts are grateful for the husband that God has given us, then we will want to first of all thank GOD for our husband, but also let our husband know about our thankfulness, too. 

We try and teach our children to say "thank-you", when someone gives them something - it should be no less ready to escape from our lips, when our husband blesses us with his time, effort, abilities and kindness. 

I pray that our hearts, and our words, will be filled gratitude today, as we express appreciation to our husbands.  (And don't forget that it applies to our children, family and everyone else, as well!....)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Proverbs 31 Ponderings {feeding our family with the best}

"She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar."
Proverbs 31:14  

Now, this is an interesting topic.

I think that in order to understand the teaching, and apply it to our present-day circumstances,  we need to get the context.

Imagine you are living in Old Testament Israel.  It's not exactly the lush, farming land that we get here in England, or in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere.  In fact, parts of it are plain arid and dry.  If you think back to when the land was divided between the tribes, there were certain areas that were coveted because of their streams of water.  That enabled more farming and cultivation. A lot of technology had to be invented to get water to areas for farming.  Certain crops and grains we do know WERE farmed.  Think of the times of harvest mentioned in the book of Ruth. We know they grew olives, and that is still a major industry even today.  Likewise grapes and vineyards.

However, a lot of their food, especially varied spices and certain fruits and vegetables, would have been imported.  We studied the Phoenecians with the children, as part of our school, and we learnt about the early established trading routes with the rest of Europe.  These are the kind of merchant ships referred to in this verse.

Staple foods were available locally, but we see here that she is not just relying upon those.


Our Proverbs 31 woman is getting in those special, hard to get, items, that could only be obtained by putting in some effort.

This verse certainly does NOT say that you have to be self-sufficient and only eat what you grow yourself.  I am not condemning such a life.  I admire those who are willing and able to do such a thing.  I can imagine there is a lot of joy in eating what you have laboured to produce.

The verse says almost the opposite.  It is a good, and right, thing,  to source and obtain your food from further afield.  She was trying to obtain items that were special, almost luxury, by bringing food from afar. I know it does not say that she GETS her food from the merchants, but if she is being likened to them, she is certainly obtaining food outwith the "easy option" of the locality she is in.

So, how can we apply this to our current situation?

Firstly, I would suggest that we should not feel guilty about only buying our food, and not growing any of our own.  There is a certain pressure and culture, especially amongst home-educators, to eat a certain way, and live a certain way.  There is an element of legalism about how you should live, and the choices you make regarding food and eating. Not everyone CAN grow their own.  They may have no space, no time, or no interest.  That is FINE!  (well, I hope it is, because that's me in all 3...) It's great if you have space, time and interest.  GO FOR IT.  But, don't condemn those who don't.

Secondly, I would suggest that we are being advised to be wise shoppers.  We need to be willing to put some effort in to finding the best food for our family.  We need to source what we think is good and right to eat, and be willing to get it from wherever we can.  Maybe that will mean shopping around.  Maybe that will mean sourcing it from places other than a regular supermarket.  Maybe it will mean thinking about making changes that are good for your family, even it requires a bit of effort to do so.

Thirdly, I think there is an implication of getting the BEST and to a certain extent TREATS, for our family!  Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman could have stuck with local produce.  I am sure that it would have meant they had an adequate diet, and would have been well fed.  To me, however, there is the element of finding something a bit special, in this verse. To me, it would be buying certain fruits and vegetables that may not be the "norm" for us, by finding what's on offer and treating the family. For example, nectarines are not a staple fruit for us (that would be apples, bananas and grapes....), but I am willing to get them just now, because the children will love them, and they are on offer!!! I will even get some things, NOT on offer, to make sure my family has a varied, healthy diet. Robert and I work on the principle that we will go without many things in life (gadgets, treats, games, etc) but we won't scrimp on food.  If our last penny had to be allocated somewhere, it would be in making sure our children are fed with good food. I am not telling everyone else they should do the same, I am just letting you know what WE do, though! *grin*

To a certain degree, the culture we live in already takes the work out of this task FOR us.  Have you ever stopped to look at WHERE all your food comes from.  Some day, if you haven't done it before, make a list of all the countries of origin of the food that you eat.  Most our ours in the UK, certainly, is labelled quite clearly to show you. You get tuna from the Pacific, and around Africa - fruit and vegetables from Egypt and other African countries, other thing are from South America.  It's a fascinating topic to study to do with your children, or even from your perspective.  Get them to makes a list of where they all come from, then put it on a map and learn a bit about how they get from there to you!

So, I deviated there!  Oops.  Turning my Proverbs 31 post into an educational one! *teehee*

Let's be wise shoppers this week, and get the best we can for our family.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Being near to the Lord {lessons from a runaway child}

I love it when the Lord uses my children to teach me spiritual lessons.

A little while ago, we went for a walk to the post office.  Our village is in a "square", of sorts, with 4 roads.  We go down 2 sides on the way there, and finish the "square" off to come home. We had taken the scooter with us, and the children had decided to take turns riding it. After the Post Office, it was Susie's turn.  I had to stop and sort out something with Simeon in the pram, and when I looked up, Susie was already at the corner.  When *I* reached the corner, a village lady stopped to say hello.  When I had finished a quick chat with her, Susie was NOWHERE to be seen. I sent Beth off ahead, to see if she could find her, but she couldn't see her up ahead AT ALL.  I sent the boys BACK, in case I had somehow missed her, and she had actually gone back the way we came.  Nope.  No Susie.  I then sent Beth WAAAAAAY on ahead.  In one sense, I didn't like to send another child off alone, to find a lost one, but thoughts of little children being abducted were starting to fill my mind.  I walked as fast as I could with the pram, and Abi trying to keep up beside me, whilst the boys went back again, the way we had come.  We had planned to go to the park, so I was just hoping that she had managed to "scoot" really quickly! We got all the way to the street leading to the park, when Beth appeared with Susie in tow.  I was SO relieved.

I gave her a lecture about how she needs to ALWAYS stay within my sight.  If she can't see me, I can't see her.  I tell ALL the children that, regularly. However, she got so caught up in her own little world, that she did not realise how far away she had got from me.  I explained that there are some nasty people who could take her away, if she wasn't near me.  I never quite got to the panicking stage, but I didn't like not knowing where she was.  I also had to remind her, and myself, that because she doesn't hear very well (VERY blocked ears), she needs to make special effort to stay nearby, to hear instructions.  She needs to have her ears specially tuned in to listening for instructions.

It is so like our walk with the Lord.

It is the moment that we take our eyes off Him and start going our own way, that we get lost and into problems.  We can't just decide to do our own thing, and wander away.

 "I have gone astray like a lost sheep;"
Psalm 119:176

 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;"
Isaiah 53:6 

We can take our eyes off the Lord in so many ways.

- We can neglect our reading of the scriptures, and praying.  Bible reading and prayer are two of  the best ways to make sure we ARE close to Him. (2Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." ; Philippians 4:6  "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." )

- We can start listening to advice from non-Biblical sources, which pulls us farther from what the Lord wants in our life. (Psalm 19:7-9  "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.")

 - We can neglect being with God's people, when we COULD be with them.  God has given them to us to be accountable to, and to help and encourage us to walk in His ways.  (Proverbs 11:14  "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.")

 - We can choose bad friends. Ones who give us advice other than God's Word, or who are not faithful in encouraging us in God's ways, will pull us further from Him.  We need to seek out the company of those who will give us wise advice, based upon God's Word. (Proverbs 27:9  "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.") 

 - Maybe like Susie, with her "deaf" ears, we need to make sure that we are not distracted by earthly things, and particularly pay attention to "tuning in" to God's voice.  Not just reading the Bible, but really LISTENING to the lessons we should be learning from it.  Taking time to listen to sermons, over and above the ones on a Lord's day.  Reading good books.  All these things help us to "hear" God's voice. (Psalm 119:15  "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.")

 -We can also become discontent with our situation.  When we start to grumble, complain and feel dissatisfied with God's plan for our life, we in essence wander away from Him.  A heart that embraces the perfect plan that God has for us, is a heart that is close to God. (Philippians 4:11 "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.")

 - we can yield to the temptation to sin, instead of relying upon God's grace to resist. (Romans 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.)

The problem is with wandering, is that we are more often than not quite happy, and almost oblivious to it! Susie had NO idea she was so far from me, and was quite happy and unconcerned.  We need to take stock of our hearts, and make sure we haven't become comfortable in a life that is neglecting the Lord. Self-examination.  When we examine ourselves, it must always be that our measure is God's Word, and being like the LORD.

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
James 1:22-25

We need to look into God's Word, above all else, and make sure that we are hearers of His Word, AND doers. We will be blessed by living a life that is tuned into God's voice, and walking beside Him.

Susie, as a vulnerable child, on her own with no adult beside her,  was far more likely to be snatched by some undesirable person.  The devil is just like that - He looks for those who are separated from "the flock", so to speak.  Like a wolf looking at sheep, he will find the most vulnerable.  When we are not walking close to the shepherd, then that's *US*. The devil is constantly looking for the weak, to hurt and tempt.  He will be far less likely to try and snatch us, if we are under God' watchful eye, and close to Him.

My prayer for my own heart, and for all of you, this week, is that we would walk near to the Lord.  To be so close to Him, that He never leaves my sight - in all that I say, think and do.  That I give no occasion to the flesh, by wandering in my own ways.

 O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let That grace, Lord,  like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Children & forgiveness {God's mercy, and how to learn from it}

Do you ever have days on end, where you seem to have a child having to say "I'm sorry", over and over again.  Forgiveness is duly offered, and certainly in our house, a hug and a kiss seals the deal. But then, it happens again.  Maybe not the same child, or the same misdemeanours, but certainly the apology/forgiveness happens once more.

There are times where it can be frustrating.  We are often amazed at a child's inability to learn a particular lesson, or certainly not learn it very quickly. The same disobedience over and over again. And yet, we still forgive.  As much as we may not always FEEL like it, due to exasperation and dismay, we still accept their "sorry", once more. We would never dream of turning around and saying "forgive you?.. you're sorry?... well, I'm not interested and I don't forgive you."

It's interesting then, despite our deeper understanding of things spiritual, that we cannot understand, or expect,  that God would continually hear and answer our continual pleas for forgiveness.  Like the very children who may frustrate and exasperate us, we sin over and over again. We seem to be equally slow to learn, and to grow in areas where we are still so immature, spiritually speaking.  We come to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness... again.... and almost feel like He couldn't possibly hear.  That we are a lost cause.

Thankfully, as I heard my husband preach last Lord's Day,

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:"

I had often thought of the first part, as a great encouragement in a day of spiritual decline. I had never really applied the latter part to MY situation.  Yet, it's true.  The Lord's ears are never blocked up to the requests we make.  The "heavy" word, in the verse, really translates to "not hard of hearing".  He's not deaf to our prayers and petitions.  He is ready to hear, and willing and able to forgive.

Psalm 103 is a wonderful Psalm, when thinking about our sins, and God's forgiveness.

You see, forgiveness and mercy are all tied up together.  It is because of God's mercy and kindness that He is so ready and willing to forgive.

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." 

Isn't it wonderful to read these words?  To know that God is not quick to get angry with us when we sin.  That His mercy is plentiful. That He does not *stay*angry with us. That He does not repay us what we are due, when we sin.  That His mercy is higher than the heavens, and that our sins are removed completely. That the Lord PITIES us - He remembers our human frailty, and we come back to the beginning and see His mercy all over again, BECAUSE we are sinful beings.

Verses filled with such hope and blessing, which we do not deserve.

Similarly, in Psalm 86.

"Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. 
Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." 

Just like the Psalmist, our requests for forgiveness are a daily thing - or they certainly SHOULD be. Coming again and again for forgiveness and mercy, which He is so ready to bestow upon us, undeserving though we be.

Having thought upon all of this, and delighted in the fact that the Lord is so ready to be merciful, slow to anger, and forgive, I think to my own parenting. How quick *I* am to get angry, and show my frustration with my children.  How my words and rebukes are with a heavy sigh of frustration.  How grace vanishes so easily in my frustration with their frequent erring. My heart is sinful, even in my parenting.  When I should be showing grace and mercy, I am showing a quick temper and frustration.  I am hardly being an example of God's mercy to us, in how I deal with my children.  It's not that I should ignore their sin, it's HOW I deal with it.  I need to have more grace and mercy in how I deal with them, and my conscience is pricked.  If I am to be more like the Lord, then I need to have equally abundant grace and mercy when dealing with my own children.  Just as God doesn't overlook our sin, and is certainly willing and quick to forgive and merciful in how He deals with US, then that's how we must be as parents. 

As a wife.... oh how sad that I also show such quickness to anger and frustration in marriage.  Instead of patience and forgiveness, it seems to be so much more easy to be frustrated and short-tempered. I am often humbled and thankful for a husband who shows more patience with me, than I do with him. 

I am so thankful for God's mercy and forgiveness - without it, I would simply be a sinner heading for a lost eternity.  Instead, I am redeemed, saved, KEPT, by God's power and grace, mercy and forgiveness. 

Today, by God's grace and mercy, I will be thankful for all that God shows to me, and endeavour to show the same to those around me. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Silk painting {a non-crafty mother's recommendation!}

So, I thought that I would review my, I mean, my children's fun, with silk painting.

I must confess, I am not the world's best art & craft mother.  These things make mess.  More mess than life already throws at me.  I am no glitter lover.  I get paint out very infrequently.  I mean, life is not less rich by NOT doing these things, right?

I do enjoy these kind of things, when I build up the energy to do them, every other year, but I do NOT do them on a weekly basis.

So, when we were throwing out ideas for HS group, and we were basing it on the theme of "Ancient China", non-crafty mother threw out "silk painting" as a smart idea.  "Yes, that would be great if you did that Caroline", was the reply.  No thought from me about the whys, wherefores or effort involved.

I started to look into it, and was initially having palpitations and regrets...silk frames, at £30 a pop??? Special silks?  YIKES!!!

Ebay came to the rescue, when I realised that you could actually do it FAR more simply, and less expensively, than I initially thought! *phew*

I found that you could get pre-printed pieces of silk, with the pattern, the "gutta outline", already there.  You could also, apparently, just back it with freezer paper, with no need for frames for each child! No special brushes, just "normal" ones.  Better still, the lovely lady, who sold me the items on ebay, sent me an instructional video, on youtube, that she had made to show how to do the painting!! Happy Days!

So, on the day, I simply demonstrated to all the children what they needed to do, and let them get on with it. You only need a little paint, and it spreads very quickly on the silk.  Also, because of the pre-printed outline, even my 3 year old did it, with only a little colour direction from me. ("Erm, maybe NOT the black and brown shades, Elijah, on your DOLPHIN picture?"....I gave up with Abi, and just clenched my jaw, smiled sweetly and said nothing, whilst she painted her sunflowers in techni-colour!!) It was easy to do, effective and as simple or complicated as the child wanted the colouring to be.

Here are the results...

Elijah's (3yo)

(I can't find Abi's just now, but will add it when I find it)

Susie's (6yo)

Daniel (7yo)

Beth (10yo)

Joshua  (11yo)

And, mine!!! (way older than them....)

Beth and Josh then had another try today, with the remaining prints we had left.  They vastly improved in their technique and abilities.  Joshua especially, who loves all things arty. 

Beth, take 2.

Josh, take 2.

You can really see the improvement, I think?

So, for those in the UK, and for others around the world to get the general idea, this is what I bought for the project.

Paints - £14.99 for 8 pot.  They are 30 ml pots, but we used so very little - not even 5ml, maybe?  (for 20 silk prints)

Pre-printed silk  - £2.99 for 5 (there are several different designs, from flowers to animals)

The kind lady sent us freezer paper for free! 

Then, all else we needed was our own brushes! 

Full instructions are on the YouTube video.  I would HIGHLY recommend this as a fun activity for any child, or adult, for that matter!

I plan on getting some plain silk, and using the Gutta outline pens to do our own designs.  SO, hopefully the fun will carry on.  

Hopefully this will inspire even the least-arty, fellow mothers to give it a try!  So grab you supplies, and give it  a whirl.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Happy 100th, Patrice {100 chats....}

Everyday Ruralty

Today is Patrice's hundredth chat!!! I have not been joining in for THAT long, but I have enjoyed the ones that I have participated with!

So, onto today's.  No sunny porch here - indeed, no sun.  We had rain last night, but I think we are due for some heat into the weekend!

  1. What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I don't often remember specific advice, but as it's a special chat, I am going to tell you the two that have stuck with me.

Both are to do with marriage! 

The first was when we got married. I think more than one person gave the advice, but not everyone.  It was this.  Don't go to bed after a disagreement, without sort it out.  "let not the sun go down on thy wrath".   If you have an issue - a fall out, an argument, however you look at it - sort it out, and say sorry, before you end the day. This advice has given us a marriage where issues are resolved nearly straight away.  We don't let things fester and boil away.  One or the other of us will speak up and apologise, or set things to rights, pretty quickly. It may be a few hours, but never more than that. (And only because one or other of us has had to go out before resolving, but a phone call sorts it out)  I am particularly thankful for a husband who does not hold grudges, and who nearly always answers the phone with a special greeting, if he knows it's me.  It always smoothes things over instantly, and makes me smile.  I would say, on the whole, we have very few disagreements any more.  

The second advice was more to do with our ministry and work for the Lord.  We were on a Youth Group panel, doing a "Mr and Mrs".  We were the relative newly-weds, starting out in our ministry, and there was another couple, Mr and Mrs Beggs, who were retiring from full-time ministry.  They were asked to give us each a piece of advice.  Mrs Beggs gave me advice that I have never forgotten, and endeavour to dilignetly put into practice. "Be your husband's encourager."  It's simple, but profound.  SO many others will be a discouragement to a PAstor in his ministry - people who criticise and complain about all sorts of things.  My job is to be his encourager.  So, I don't pick apart his sermons.  I don't tell him he was too long, too short, or anything in between, in his sermon length.  I don't point out negatives.  I don't complain.  Instead, I encourage him, and try and be a spiritual bolster. I could work on being even better, as we all can in our whole life, but I certainly don't DISCOURAGE.  So, if I know he would be encouraged by my presence, even if I spend the whole service out the back with grumpy children, then I go.  If he asks me to do something for him, in the Church, I do it without questioning.  I try my very best, by God's grace, to be a constant encourager, and never a source of discouragement.  I think EVERY pastor's wife should seriously consider that they should be doing the same. 

2.  Do you have houseplants?

I have ONE.  No, two. No, two and a half....

I often have flowers, whether cut from in the garden, or ones that Robert gets me. However, in reality, those are dead the moment you cut them, so I can't do them much more harm!!

However, I seem to have the hand of death upon houseplants!!  I have tried, and failed, on numerous occassions, to keep them alive, to no avail.  I currently have 2 that are alive and one that is on its way out.  All given to me.  

The first, an aloe vera, is about the 4th in a line of attempts to keep one alive.  My friend in the Church kept giving them to me, and I could NOT sustain life for them!!  Until now.  She got smart.  She gave me a HUGE one (I think it may have been the mother plant??!), by which time I also had my new shelf in the kitchen.  That meant the plant was not in direct light.  So, at the moment, it's looking happy and healthy!! PLUS, it was handy when Susie burnt her arm, providing instant relief from its cooling sap.

I also have an orchid.  Now, that has done well for me!  Since I learnt that you only water infrequently, and you must let the water drain right through and out the bottom (ie, not sit in the water), then it has survived.   Plus, as far as I know, once it finishes flowering (and it's been going since my birthday at the end of January!!), you just keep it somewhere out the way, and it will flower again at some point!

The flowers are so pretty!

Then, I have an azalea.  Someone in the Church gave it to me, and it's WAY more thirsty than the others.  I forget to water it, and so it's stopped flowering.  It certainly lasted much longer than cut flowers would have and I am hoping it may still revive.  So, it's my "half" plant!!

See?  Not very alive looking....

So, there we have it.  My few house plants.  I am much better with outdoors, where the fresh air and rain help them along!

3. Do mosquitoes bother you or leave you alone?

Now here's a relevant question.  I am not sure that I can blame a mosquito, but SOMETHING ate me alive in my sleep the other night.  All up my right arm.  BOY, has it itched like billy-oh. I don't normally get eaten alive, although I got a nasty spider bite last summer which turned nasty.  My Mum?  She must have super-sweet blood, because insects LOVE her!

Thankfully, my Mom's Love Rub, from my lovely HS friend, Jan, in the USA, relieves the itching!  It's a cream you can use for any scratch, itch and skin problem, with great effect, and all made by her fair hand!! (plug over! ) 

This is it today, and it started on Monday.

4.  What's your favorite charity? If you have one.

Its the kind that begins at home! 

Our Church is a registered charity, so that would be our major source to give to. We also support missionaries as a Church, so we give to that.  We don't have any "high street" charities that we give to regularly, but if I was to give one-off donations, they would be to cancer charities, first and foremost.  I also like to support the British Legion fund in November, to help out retired and injured troops.  It's well worth supporting, I think.

Other than that, I like to think of "charity" in its deeper sense, which is, of course, love.  If you apply that Biblically, then as well tell our children, it's the most important thing.  So, all I do and say I try and do with charity.  I am a sinner, far from perfect, and often fail, but I *TRY*.

5.  Do you like mint? Which variety is your favourite?

As a candy, no.  I ABHOR mint sweets, and the smell of them. It gets right up my nose.  I like mint tea.  I like CHOCOLATE with mint! (most things are fine with chocolate!) I like it crushed, with butter, on new potatoes! I like it fresh, in a drink.

If it is in gum (which I rarely use) it has to be spearmint.  

If it is in cooking, it is whatever is growing everywhere in my border in the back garden, alongside copious amounts of lemon balm!!

My ever spreading mint!

So, there we have it!! Your 100th chat, which it was my pleasure to share with you, Patrice!