Wednesday, 31 May 2006


I had another appointment with the doctor this morning regarding my pulsitile tinnitus. I saw a different doctor a few months ago who told me all I could do for it was listening to the radio at night, so that I wouldn't hear the pulsing. What a load of cobblers. I looked the condition up on various websites and discovered that it is not the normal form of tinnitus. It is the sound of pulsing in the ears, or the sound of the heartbeat. It can be caused by various underlying conditions, including problems with the arteries. This time I went to see my own doctor, who is much better. She has referred me to an ENT specialist. She says that pulsitive tinnitus is extremely rare in someone of my age, although common among the elderly. She took my blood pressure which was normal. So now I'll wait and see how long it takes to get an appointment with the specialist.

Steve picked up my new treadmill today. Luke had never seen such a huge box and was extremely excited about the whole thing. He helped unpack it, and put it together. And then the kids tested it out for me. Steve tried to run for 1 km and almost died after about 30 seconds! Unfortunately there is a problem with the socket in the room I wanted the treadmill in. Every time we switched it on the trip switch went. So at the moment it is set up in the kids study room, which isn't ideal. I just managed 5 minutes on it before writing this blog, and I'm shattered! I'll have to build up slowly. I'll do another 5 minutes in a mo, before watching Desperate Housewives.

So this afternoon Sam decided to paint the discarded treadmill box. He painted 3 sides to make a ship, then painted smaller boxes for the ships supplies. Luke joined in at the end and painted the last side, and his legs, and his jumper, and his hands and hair. I had to give him a bath! Fortunately they were in the garden at the time.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

It's been a very stressing day today, for one reason or another. Actually, I'm not sure what the reasons are, I'm just stressed.

Luke is still potty training and managed to get to the potty this morning. He is wearing 'big boy pants' now which he is so proud of. When he did got to the potty he had to phone his Daddy, Caroline and Aunty Jenny to share the news with them. Sam and Jude were here this time and they made such a fuss of him. We were all dancing and singing for him!

Its been just another day here really. The kids did their schoolwork, I went to Tesco just to get a few bits for the fridge and managed to spend £75. I tried to get something for Tabi's babies but there wasn't anything nice in Tesco. I don't know when I'm going to get time to shop for something nice.

Oh yes, I bought a treadmill yesterday. There is a guy in Belfast who sells gym equipment on ebay. I kept bidding on his treadmills and getting outbid every time. I was bidding up to £200. Anyway, I noticed on his auction listings that some of the newer auctions had 'buy it now' or 'submit best offer'. So I submitted a best offer to him of £200 for a treadmill that he was selling at £349 buy it now, and argos were selling for close to £1000. I had seen it going for over £400 on his auctions already, so I thought he'd laugh at my offer. Well, he didn't - he accepted it! So now we just have to collect it from Belfast. I can't wait. I figure that if I get going on it I could lose a few pounds before our spa weekend in 10 days time.

Monday, 29 May 2006

I'm in the middle of cooking spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. Jude is off to Brownies in about 20 minutes time. Tonight they are doing their 'reading badge', and they have a teacher coming in to see whether they should pass. Each girl has to bring in 4 books that she recently read. Jude is taking Minn of the Mississippi, Caddie Woodlawn, The Four Story Mistake and The Princess & the Goblin. I think they are pretty impressive for a P5 age child!

Well, this morning Luke decided it was the day to begin potty training. I had no intention of this whatsoever, but he decided it was happening whether I liked it or not. So I had to go along with it. He spent 20 minutes sitting on the potty singing, to no avail. Then Caroline turned up and told him that if he did a pee in the potty while she was at Tesco she would bring him a treat back. He tried a few times with no luck. Then I heard him calling "I've done a pee Mummy" and there it was in the potty! Well, I made a huge fuss of him. We sang, and danced, and I hugged him. He was so excited to empty it into the toilet and flush it himself. He has spent all day with no nappy on but hasn't managed to make it to the toilet a second time. He pee'd twice in the garden, and once in the drivers seat of the car! Nice one. So begins our potty training adventure.

The kids had a day off today, seen as it was public holiday and all their friends were off school. They won't get a day off on Friday now. They went to the park with some friends and had a good time. I have started to help Jude sort through all the toys in her room. She is having a big clear out, like we did with Sam a few weeks back.

Sunday, 28 May 2006

I found out today the name of Tabi and Matt's new babies. The bigger baby is called Madison Olivia (7lb8) and Meadow Violet (4lb15). Madison is very alert and looks around a lot, while Meadow is more like a premature baby. She is very sleepy and doesn't feed well, so she is feeding formula from a cup at the moment. I can't wait to see them. I just want to fly over right now! I will leave it a while though, until she gets on her feet and all the visitors have died down. Then I can have them all to myself.

Yesterday I was so sick with the cold. I was miserable. It started on Saturday evening and then yesterday I was streaming. I spent the whole day in my pajamas with a handful of tissues. I drunk half a pint of wheatgrass and spirulina, in an attempt to boost my immune system! Today I am feeling fine, with hardly any sign that I had a cold at all. But poor Sam has it now.

So yesterday was the day all the P7 kids found out which Secondary School they will be going to. Sam has been accepted into the integrated College, which he is so pleased about - and so am I. The other high school seemed like a terrible place to send a child. So we applied for the integrated college, but we had a 50/50 chance of getting into it. I wasn't sure if we would be accepted when the school phoned to ask me to clarify why we fit into the category of 'other religion' instead of Catholic or Protestant. They really wanted to box me neatly into one of the other categories and I refused. That made me wonder if we wouldn't get a place, because we were too much hassle. Anyway, he got a place and I'm much happier about him going there in September than the High School. I'd still much rather he stayed at home, but I feel we need to give him to opportunity to try secondary school out, otherwise he will always resent us for taking that chance away from him. We have agreed with Sam to do a one month trial at the school, and if he is unhappy we will continue to home school him. I really hope that he enjoys it there, and learns as well. It seems like a nice place, with only 20 children per class instead of 30. They have a great drama department which suits Sam perfectly. My concern for sending Sam to school is that he will daydream the next 5 years away, as he is prone to doing, and may come away with nothing.

On Friday I took the kids swimming with Heather and her daughter. I spent most of the time in the baby pool with Luke, freezing to death. Heather and the kids played in the bigger pool. I think the children all enjoyed themselves. I did manage to get Luke into the bigger pool for 10 minutes but he clung on to me for dear life the whole time. We got out much earlier than the others and watched them from the balcony. That evening we had a barbecue in the garden with Heather & Davy, although the weather wasn't as good as Thursday and we all had to wear coats. But it was good fun anyway. Steve and Heather did all the cooking and I sat there lazily watching. I did help tidy up afterwards though! In our house I seem to do all the cooking and cleaning, until we have visitors when Steve takes over. Therefore all our visitors think that Steve does everything!

I've decided that I will change Sam's school work schedule between now and the end of term. I am going to do away with a lot of the reading that he has and get him to concentrate on maths, spelling and grammar. I want him to be up to scratch in September. I believe that if children read a lot of good literature then the spelling and grammar will all come naturally without sitting endless mind-numbingly boring spelling tests. Sam and Jude are both reading way above the level that they were expected to in school. I am sure Sam's P6 teacher would be shocked at the progress he has made in reading. When it comes to writing we have concentrated more on developing imagination and style, rather than correcting spellings. But over the next few weeks I will concentrate more on Sam's spelling. I know he can spell as well as anyone else, but often he is so caught up in the imagination and drama of his writing that he forgets that spelling even matters. I would worry that he goes to high school and the teachers will presume he is not achieving because he spells badly. Teachers are not known for noticing talent in a child, but for noticing correct answers and correct grammar. Who needs an imagination, or flair, or talent??? As long as they can answer the right questions in the right way.

This is a photo Steve took of the kids in Belfast yesterday. Because I was ill Steve had to take Sam to stage school. They went to the market first, and then Daddy, Jude and Luke went to the cinema whilst Sam was at drama.

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Tabi's Babies

Woo Hoo! Tabi had twin baby girls yesterday - 26th May. They weighed 7 lb 4 and 4 lb 15. I can't wait to speak to Tabi and to see a photo. But at the moment all I know is that mother and babies are all keeping well.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

A good day at last!

Hurray! It was sunny today! At last!
I spent the whole day in the garden, and a whole day really wasn't long enough, so I hope the weather lasts a bit longer. After inspecting the garden I was quite pleased with its progress, but I can see that the veggies would benefit from a bit of sunshine. We are being attacked by slugs, so I got Steve to buy some beer. I put the beer in dishes set into the ground and this evening I've caught ten of the little blighters already!

So today I wheel barrowed in another 4 loads of topsoil. Jude and Sam did a fantastic job of evening it out across the patch. Jude planted all the French Beans for me, around some bamboo poles, and then I planted the sweet pea plants which we grew from seed, into the soil to grow up the chicken wire. In another bed I planted the nasturtiums, which we also grew from seed. We are having a full nasturtium bed. It should look great. At the back of that I planted the remaining onion bulbs that we had left over. The onions are growing really well, as are the potatoes. Hopefully everything else will take off with a bit of sunshine and slug control.

Steve was accepted onto the HND Photography course at Lurgan College. I'm very proud of him, but he seemed to take it with a pinch of salt. I hope he does do it, he deserves to pursue something that he enjoys. He works so hard and rarely gets time for any other pursuits.

Today I got a text message from my best friend in the world, Tabi. She is going into hospital tonight to be induced in the morning, which her little twins. I'm so excited! I can't wait to hear what she has, and I pray that everything goes well for all of them. I can't begin to imagine what having twins must be like. I'll post on here when I hear anything, and I'll put a photo on when I get one too. I'll be out of my mind tomorrow waiting for a phone call to say they've arrived.

Right now I'm off to soak in a long bath and have an early night. I'm shattered.

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

A Day To Myself

Luke woke us all up at 6.30am this morning. He was up singing the dawn chorus with the birds. So Steve got the kids up and dressed by 8.30 and he took them all out to breakfast, for a treat. I was invited too but I chose to stay at home and enjoy the peace and quiet. It's unusual for the house to be empty.
I met Heather for a coffee in Hillsborough. We went to a few quaint little shops and then we found a nice little cafe with sofas to relax on. The scones were absolutely delicious there. They do chocolate fondu for 6 for £5 there, so we are going to take the kids there one day. Luke is very fond of 'chocolate doo'.
After our coffee I went shopping in Lisburn centre. I didn't plan to buy anything. But it's always the way that you see so much nice stuff when you are not shopping, and if you particularly need something you can bet you wont be able to find it. So I did buy a bit. I got Luke a few new outfits, which he sorely needed. He was so excited when I told him on the phone that I was buying him clothes. He sounds so sweet down the phone. When I got home with them he tried them all on, one after another (he has seen me trying my new things on). I bought him such a cute little white shirt with a pale blue pattern on it. When he saw it he said "now I'm just like Daddy". I also bought Sam and Jude one of those mood rings each. We saw them in the aquarium for about £4 each and I wouldn't let them have one. So today when I saw them for £1.50 I thought I better grab them.
For myself I managed to buy 2 pairs of new jeans. I find it so hard to get jeans to fit that look good, so when I do find some I try to buy a few in different colours. I tried on all the expensive jeans, and they all looked hideous. Then there was a rail of half price jeans in BHS, reduced to £12.50 each. I almost didn't try them as I guessed that they must be really bad if they had so many unsold. But when I did try them they fitted like a dream! So I bought 2 pairs. I also got some jogging bottoms, a belt and a pink top.
Well, it was nice to have a day away from the house, but it wasn't quite what I'd planned. The weather was so awful that taking a walk didn't seem like a great idea. Still, it was nice to dander round without rushing, or without trying to entertain a bored 2 year old, and it was nice to spoil myself a bit - although I only bought bargains!
This evening I played a gave Luke a bath, played a game of battleship with Jude and wrote to my prison pen pal. Now I'm reading to conk out in front of the telly (not something I do very often) with a nice cup of tea. Desperate Housewives is on tonight. I'll have to stay up for it because I couldn't possibly miss it!

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Good boy Luke

It was yet another miserable day of wet windy weather. We didn't venture outside once. Although I did find Luke splashing in the puddles, during a downpour, with no shoes or wellies on. Bless him! Actually Luke was an angel today. I can't tell you how much of a relief it was. He has been a little so-and-so for the past two weeks. He is very stubborn, doesn't like to be told what to do, was asking for food constantly, and wanted one on one attention from someone at all times. He was really beginning to get me down, as much as I love him. He is the cutest little thing but he is very strong willed. For the last week I've been really putting my foot down, and being very firm with him. Every time he kept whinging, or had a tantrum after not getting his own way, I put him in his bed until he calmed down. It was hard going, but he always behaved for 5 minutes afterwards. I have been completely strict about food. I have not allowed him to eat anything apart from breakfast, lunch and dinner. He asks me for food constantly, and although I usually say no, the constant nagging can be too much. I often give him a healthy snack like sunflower seeds, or nuts, or fruit (if he will take it). But this week I've not given him anything between meals. Well, today he was like a different child. I can honestly say that he hasn't had a single tantrum, he hasn't asked for any food either, and he eat all his lunch for the first time ever! Not only that, but he entertained himself all day, and was happy and pleasant to everyone. What a difference! I only hope that it wasn't a one off, and that he continues to be a good boy. After he ate every last bit of his lunch (raw pepper, raw carrot, banana, grapes, strawberries, blackberries & crackers) I was so proud of him that I rewarded him with a treat. I told him that he was getting a treat from his easter chocolates because he had eaten all his lunch and he had been a very good boy. He was delighted!

I have the whole day to myself tomorrow. Steve has taken heed of the fact that I need a day off, and organised to stay at home with the kids. I don't know how that will work with the home education side of things. Last time I went out for a morning, he phoned me after an hour asking how did I cope with the kids and school work? And this week they are doing extra work, plus Sam needs help with his maths. I don't know what I'm going to do. I had hoped for a nice scenic dander round some countryside but the weather has been so appaling that I doubt it will be pleasant. I could go shopping, but I don't really want to. I could go out with a friend for lunch, but that defeats the object of having some time alone to think. I may end up staying at home to do the ironing!

Last night Heather phoned to say that a problem had developed in our plans to get away for a spa weekend. The hotel we have booked has a beauty area which do spa treatments. But they are fully booked for the weekend that we are staying there! I was gutted! Then I realised it wasn't so bad, we could still relax. But after many phonecalls (mostly on Davy's part) we have managed to book the pampering for the Friday. That means that only Heather and me will be pampered as the other girls can't get there till Friday evening. But what is the point of us all missing out? The only other option we had was to drive 30 minutes to Killinchy on Saturday morning for spa treatments in another place. I thought that defeated the whole point of a relaxing weekend away. I didn't really want to have to get up and rush off at the crack of dawn. So now it is all booked and sorted out. What a relief. Poor Davy was about the have a nervous breakdown trying to organise it. Who knew that spa breaks needed to be booked about 2 years in advance? Not me.

I was looking at courses on the internet. My Mum sent me a website with some good courses on it. The thing is, it's hard to actually decide what to do. I'm not planning on doing anything at the moment but I was just thinking about the future. Is there one perfect career that we could just excel in and enjoy? Or is it possible to be good at many things? I did a vocational test many years ago. It was a fabulous test, which tested all the various parts of the brain to see which areas we were particularly strong in. I did extremely well on the whole test and was told that I could do almost anything. Hmm, helpful. I scored an unusually high score in abstract reasoning and problem solving. I don't know quite what that is good for. When I look at the courses available it seems to me that I would enjoy pretty much anything, which makes it harder to choose a certain direction. I enjoy teaching, social and health areas, computing, art, literature, music, nutrition - the only thing I know absolutely that I would hate is sales. It's so hard to just pick one area and say 'that's what I want to do'. I saw a course in Life Coaching which I thought was interesting. I could take that course just to work out my own life, nevermind anyone elses.

Monday, 22 May 2006

Rock Band Photo

Another photo of the kids and their rock band, which Davy took. Don't they just look the business? I'd buy their album.

Veggie Garden Update

I've just been outside for the first time in about 2 weeks. It just hasn't stopped raining, and it's so windy that it's not pleasant to be outside at all. Well, some of the vegetables seem to be growing, and some are looking a bit the worse for wear. The mange tout seem to have been destroyed by something like snail or slugs. They are almost completely dead, but there is no obvious sign of animal life on it, apart from slime. I didn't realise slugs could climb 2 ft up a plant. The lettuces have been munched at by something. But the potatoes and onions are coming on well, and the parsnips and carrots are just coming through the soil. They are only babies at the moment though. I'm hoping for a few nice days this week, otherwise I'm going to have to brave the cold weather and get out to do something about it. I've still got some plants waiting to be planted in the soil. Apart from that, the lawn has turned into dandelion heaven and desperately needs mowing. Wouldn't it be lovely to live in a hot country.

Monday Morning Motivation

Ah, Monday mornings. Who needs them eh? I slept in this morning, which wasn't a good start to the week. I fell back to sleep about 5 or 6 times. Steve left for work at 9.30 so I decided it was time to try and drag myself out of bed. When I got downstairs it was lovely to discover that Luke had spread 1/4 box of co-co pops all over the kitchen floor, and then tried to sweep them up himself!

Usually I work out about 6 weeks of the kids schoolwork in advance, and I just stick up the new weeks rota every Monday morning. But now we have got into the swing of things with Home Education I find I can quickly write it out on a Monday morning (easier if I get up on time). I use the Ambleside Online Curriculum as a rough guide, so its not that hard. We also have a morning chore rota which I print out and stick up on a Monday morning. Before work begins the kids must be washed, dressed, their rooms must be tidy, the pets must be fed, and they each have the job of either unloading the dishwasher or tidying the study room. I also schedule showers into this morning list, as I would forget to make them shower, and they would never volunteer! The chore list used to be a lot longer, but I find that the kids are happier getting up later and being more relaxed than getting up early and helping with the house. I know, it sounds like typical children, but they still get their chores and they seem to work better on their school work in a more relaxed environment.

This week we have decided to try something new. We have spread Fridays school work across Monday to Thursday in an attempt to have Fridays off. This means they will study harder Monday to Friday but will be rewarded with a longer weekend. The reason we are trying this is because Sam has stage school on a Saturday and we have a lot of fellowship responsibilities on a Sunday, so Sam and Jude never actually get a completely free day, to do whatever they please. I have warned them though, that this will only go ahead if they work just as hard and learn just as well.

So I have just completed this weeks education schedule. Here it is, for those of you that may be interested:

Maths is always 40 minutes, Free Reading is always 1/2 hour minimum (Sam is reading Jungle book, Jude is reading Carrie Woodlawn), Story of Ireland and Paddle to the Sea are spread across the term, Pilgrims Progress and Secrets of the Wood are read by me,

Monday: Maths, Free Reading, Trial & Triumph ch 21, Our Island Story ch 20, Story of Ireland, Music Listening (Johann Strauss Jr - Blue Danube), Pilgrims Progress, Piano practice for Jude.

Tuesday: Maths, Free Reading, Story of the World ch 4, Creative Writing, Landing of the Pilgrims p10 - 17, Shakespeare, Bible study or film, Piano for Jude.

Wednesday: Maths, Science Lab in a Supermarket, Parables of Nature ch 6, Paddle to the Sea, Art Study (John William Waterhouse), Free Reading, Piano practice for Jude, Archery.

Thursday: Maths, Story of Inventions p259 - 270, Secrets of the Wood continued, Free Reading, Poetry (Longfellow), Bible study or film, Nature Study, Piano for Jude.

Friday: Off!

I find that they can usually complete this work in about 3 hours. So if we get up on time they are done by lunch time. Then, of course, they are learning all afternoon anyway, by doing their own thing. I find that children like to be busy and learning most of the time, naturally, if they are not completely distracted by TV and playstation games. The hardest part is keeping Luke out of their way until they are finished. He just loves to play with them and he doesn't understand why they are so busy. Sometimes he even gets his own books out and says he is doing his school work!

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Quotes about Children

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.

A three-year-old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

Eda LeShan
Becoming responsible adults is no longer a matter of whether children hang up their pyjamas or put dirty towels in the hamper, but whether they care about themselves and others -- and whether they see everyday chores as related to how we treat this planet.

Hodding Carter:
There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings.

James Baldwin
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

Jane Nelson
Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

Thich Nhat Hanh
People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.

William Shakespeare
It is a wise father that knows his own child.

Covering Our Humanity - Above Rubies

This was the message from Above Rubies today. We have been trying to implement meal times as a family round the table, which are more fellowship orientated. So I enjoyed reading this one:

Covering Our Humanity

Exodus 25:23-24, "You shall also make a table of acacia wood. and you shall overlay it with pure gold."

The first mention of the table in the Bible is in the above passage where God tells Moses to make a table from acacia wood and then to overlay it with pure gold. In the Bible wood always speaks of humanity. The pure gold speaks of the divinity of Christ. It is interesting that this table was to be made of both wood and gold, speaking of Christ's humanity and His divinity. However, I believe it also relates to the tables we have in our homes.

We come to our table, loaded with humanity. We come with our
weaknesses and failings. Our children come to the table in their humanity. They are certainly not perfect. Sometimes they are fussy. Sometimes they don't want to eat. They may grumble and complain. There may even be arguments. Without God's intervention, it can be a total shambles! But God, represented by the table overlaid with pure gold, wants to come to your table.

He wants to bring His presence to your table. He wants to cover your humanity with His divinity. He wants to fellowship with you at your table. This is what He did at the beginning of creation with Adam and Eve, and He wants to continue this practice throughout all generations. (Genesis 3:8-9) Every day He came to talk with Adam and Eve. He did not come to them in the heat of the day or during their hours of work (for God established the principle of work before sin entered the Garden of Eden). He came to them in the cool of the day, in the evening time-the time of the day when we gather around the meal table to eat together, fellowship and relax.

God wants to join you at this time of each day too. Invite Him to come. Don't hide from His presence as Adam and Eve did after they had sinned. Make sure that you are gathered together as a family to meet Him. I think that many times God comes to homes, waiting to join them as they sit at table together-but the table is empty! No meal is prepared, mother is preoccupied with other things or is still out in the car with the children, or the family is snacking in front of the TV!

The table of wood and pure gold that God told Moses to make was for the Holy Place in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Each week the priests would bake 12 loaves of bread which they would place on the table. These loaves were called the Bread of His Presence. At the end of the week the priests would eat the loaves together in the presence of the Lord. This also speaks of God delighting to fellowship with us at our table.

When you give thanks at the beginning of each meal, invite God to come with all His divinity to your table. Acknowledge His presence. His presence will bring the atmosphere of Heaven. It will cover your earthy humanity. I don't think you can do without Him at your table. I can't.


Saturday, 20 May 2006

Loving Terry Wogan

Wow, what a busy day. For some reason the house was just trashed this morning when I got up. It looked like I'd done nothing all week. Being Saturday I had to take Sam to his stage school in Belfast. That means leaving the house by 1.30pm. I got practically nothing done all morning, apart from getting Luke dressed (he then stripped himself naked and hid in a box). My new vacuum cleaner arrived. I got it on eBay for £35 brand new - in Argos it was £145. It has a hepa filtration system that is supposed to be good for dust allergy sufferers. Our old hoover was just terrible. It had no brush on it, hardly any suction - there was hardly any point hoovering with it at all. So this new one arrived in a box twice the size of Luke. The kids all opened it up and when I went to see it the living room was covered in packaging and paper. Luke was more interested in the box (I have no idea why he had to be naked to play in it - other than that he has just learnt to take his own clothes off and feels very clever about it).

Anyway, I made a deal with Steve that if he cooked dinner when he got home from work, I would tidy and clean the house from top to bottom. I should have offered that the other way round really. While Sam was at drama I took Jude and Luke to W5. Luke had decided that was where we were going as soon as he realised it was drama day. They have a level which is like a dream world to 2 year olds. It has a kids supermarket, kids cafe, more play areas than are imaginable. So we stayed there for almost 3 hours. But this time it was so easy for me. Jude was like Luke's little Mummy. She took him all round the place, played with him constantly and photographed him every 60 seconds! I actually sat and read a book! Unbelievable. What luxury. If Sam had been there things would have been different because Luke would have been left out. I am reading a book my Mum recommended called The Five Languages of Love. The book describes how people can speak any of the 5 love languages. Your partner will feel loved if you express love in his/her language. So the key is for couples to find out what their languages are. It works for kids too. We all have a love tank and when it is full we feel happy and when it is low we feel sad. Our partner may love us dearly but if he speaks the wrong language we can feel unloved.That'sts about the gist of it anyway. The 5 languages are; quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch. haven'tnt got to the chapters which deal with which language I speak. To be honest don'tnt have much of a clue. I suspect its not gifts or words of affirmation. Anyway, I'll give the book a go. I am presuming me and Steve speak the same language anyway as we have always felt loved. But I'm keen to see how it applies to children. Sam and Jude seem to feel loved in completely different ways. Jude is generally happy whereas Sam gets very down if he hasn't had enough cuddles.

So this evening, as promised I tidied the whole house. From top to bottom. Mostly the top actually. Jude wanted to hoover her room with the new vacuum cleaner. It was a novelty. I'm sure that will ware off. I tidied all the upstairs bedrooms and shower room, and I hoovered the stairs, landing and bedrooms. I felt like the woman from the old 'shake n vac' adverts! They were desperately in need of it as I had been holding off doing it until the new vacuum arrived. I couldn't believe the amount of dust in the cylinder! By 9pm I was finished tidying. Instead of feeling tired I felt revived. I really felt like going for a long walk or something, but that was crazy. The kids were watching the Eurovision Song Contest. I watched a bit of it just to listen to Terry Wogans sarcastic comments. That man is hilarious!

Friday, 19 May 2006

An evening with Heather & Davy

Its Friday night. I'm so pleased it's the weekend. The kids school work really stressed me today. They had so much stuff that they needed help with, and I had so much to do, and Luke was in a particularly agitating mood. The house was trashed from top to bottom, and every room that I tidied Luke just trashed again. Luke whinged and whined all day and I had to send him to his room a few times. Sam and Jude bickered all day long, and just wound each other up. By lunch time I was ready to blow a fuse, but luckily my friend Caroline turned up for a cuppa so I managed to chill for an hour or so. Thank goodness for friends. Then I managed to get Luke down for a nap in the afternoon. It would have been nice to use that time to clean the house, (ok, not nice - perhaps necessary) but instead I had to do some school work with Sam and Jude. We read the poem called 'The Raven' by Edgar Alan Poe. I think the kids like it. I certainly did. It has such a great rhythm and dramatic sound to it - its not all airy and floaty like a lot of poems. Then we read a bit about Kingfishers in Secrets of the Wood, but by that point I was losing my voice so we left it for another day.

Anyway, things got better. We went to Heather and Davy's house for dinner. The idea was for us girls to discuss this health spa weekend, and to finalize any details about it. But, unknown to me, Heather had already booked the place and it was all sorted. Excellent. We are going in 3 weeks time. There are 2 other girls going to, but I'm sharing a room with Heather. I can't wait now for the next 3 weeks to fly past. I desperately need a weekend away from the house, a change in lifestyle, just for a moment. Sometimes life as a Mum, wife and teacher just gets a bit much to handle. I never get to the stage where I am unhappy, but sometimes I just feel a desperate urge to climb a mountain, or sit in a forest, with no other human contact. To just be alone with nature, and to have nothing to think about - almost like meditation. This urge doesn't happen very often, so I can't complain. A weekend away with the girls will do just as much good I reckon.

The kids, as usual, all had great fun. Luke just loves the play room and spent hours playing with C's barbie cars. True to tradition, the kids put on a few performances after dinner. First we had a short version of Narnia, with Sam playing Aslan, and C playing the witch. Then C sang a beautiful rendition of the 12 days of Christmas. Dressed in her fairy outfit, it was like watching an angel sing. Then, the part of the evening we always look forward to - the kids got dressed up and sang rock music to us. This time I think it was 'I believe in a thing called love' by The Darkness, although it was hard to tell. Above you can see Jude and C dressed in their rock chick outfits.

And here is Sam and Luke, two of a kind, enjoying the limelight with a microphone. Luke is just a little version of Sam, only cheekier and more stubborn. Thankfully Jude has also managed to rub off on him a little, and has blessed him with a love of learning. Did you ever meet a 2 year old that knew which way the fridge magnet letters should go? When I first put them on the fridge he turned them all up the correct way, although we had never taught him, because he recognized the letters from reading stories with Jude.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Down and Out, Down Under

Me and Jane

Jane took me to the local womens night at the Baptist Church. They run an evening every term for all the ladies who take their kids to the mother and toddler group. This evening was called 'Down and Out, Down Under'. We were served some lovely food and had a nice chat and a laugh. Then we had to listen to a lady give her testimony. This bit usual makes me groan. These women get up and tell about how they got saved and I don't like listening to it one bit. To start with, they never talk about what being saved is or how they know they are saved. I always find that phrase rather odd - I mean, surely no one knows whether they are saved until God tells them "Yes you've made it". Anyway, I settled down for an hour of boredom. Me and Jane usually sit at the back and giggle like naughty school girls. But this lady was very interesting. She didn't talk at all about the Baptist church or getting saved. This lady was in her 50's and she had been an alcoholic since the age of 16. Her grandfather had abused her from the age of 8 - 16, when she had left for a new life in Australia. This life turned into years of misery and despair. The woman had some amazing stories to tell - with hilarious anecdotes about the time she was arrested for driving on the airport landing strip in Malta, thinking it was a motorway. She was in tears telling her story, but she still managed to get the hilarious anecdotes and jokes into her heartbreaking tale. One time she got home from a binge night to find a live sheep in the boot of her car! Well, I actually enjoyed listening to her. All in all, a pleasant evening out, and free (always a bonus). And they didn't try to convert me, although they did give me a booklet on the way out which I haven't looked at yet. Now it is almost midnight and Steve is in the bath waiting for me to bring him a towel! Better go.
Our table at the womens night

Jane on the right, Janet in the middle, and Janets Mum on left. Janet is the lovely lady who works in Steves shop, and the Mum of Judes best friend.
The Aussie Lads who stayed with us last night.
Jason, Pete & Nick, from Adelaide.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

I should be a hunter gatherer

We have 3 Australian lads coming to stay over tonight. Steve has gone to the house meeting with Jude. Luke is in bed and Sam is staying up late to watch the football. We agreed that he could stay up to watch it if he did something to help around the house. He did a few chores (willingly - for a change) and now he is all set up in the living room. I'm keeping well away until 10pm when Desperate Housewives starts, and he'll be kicked out whether the football's gone into extra time or not!

Went to see my Mum today with Luke. It was nice to get out with him on our own. No kids arguing in the car. He asked me again where the rain comes from. Then he asked "Mummy, who made the birds?" He's too cute! My sister Hannah was at mom's house as she is between homes at the moment. She might be coming to stay with us for a while (Sam was dead excited when I told him that). Luke spent the whole time we were there asking for food. He thinks if we are at someone else's house then there should be a constant supply of goodies and treats. A boy after my own heart.

Tomorrow Steve has an interview at the college for a HND in Photography. His GCSE teacher has been trying to persuade him all year to do the HND in September. He hasn't decided whether he can do it yet, but first he is going for the interview. If he gets accepted he can ponder over it then. I think its one day a week, term time, for 2 or 3 years. If he wants to he could transfer to the degree course at the end and get a degree in an extra year. I would love him to do it but I don't know how he can afford to - he would have to pay someone to work in the shop whilst he was at college - unless me and the kids did it. And also, I'm really not sure if he has enough free time for it. But at the end of the day, it's his decision, and it is nice to see him enjoying something for a change, instead of working.

Myself and Heather are still working on this health spa retreat idea. Actually, Davy is doing most of the work. We are going to their house on Friday night for dinner, to finalize it. I'm hoping Heather picks somewhere nice as I'm really looking forward to it. Heather has invited another friend, which is a shame as I was looking forward to spending some girlie time with her and getting to know her better. But its ok. I may have to invite a friend too, to even the numbers and stop me feeling like a gooseberry. I'm in desperate need of some relaxation and pampering - let alone a few beauty treatments! I wonder if I could get a bit of lyposuction done while I'm there!

I am on the look out for a cheap second hand treadmill. New ones are so expensive. I love walking in the countryside, but its hard to do that with the 3 kids around. I'd like to use the treadmill just outside the patio doors in the summer. That way I could get some well needed exercise and enjoy the sunshine, whilst the kids play in the garden. I can't find any for sale at a decent price in the free ads. That's always the way - when you want something, no-one is selling it.

I'm reading the Pilgrims Progress with the kids over the course of the year. We read it twice a week during school time. It was recommended by the Ambleside site that we use to plan our lessons. I thought it would go over their heads. I tried to read it myself years ago but found it too heavy going. It's one of those books you need to read in small doses - you need time to digest the snippets of information - a bit like the Bible. I have been amazed at how much the children have enjoyed it. Especially Sam. Every week I ask "who can remember what happened last time we read it?" and Sam is always able to recall the story in great detail. It has sparked of some fantastic discussions about life as a Christian. In fact, we read very little in one go, and we spend most of the time discussing the meaning of the dream and how it relates to a Christians journey. I am always amazed at how both the kids can pick up on the significance of various parts of Christians journey and relate it to our own lives. They don't miss a thing. This week we got to the part where Christian has climbed the hill and come to the large mansion. He has to walk passed the roaring lions to get to the gate for entry. We read about the people he met in the house and the things those people talked about. The kids decided that the house represented the fellowship or church, and that Christian was sharing his testimony with the people there. The rooms with various objects in, they decided, were equal to the parables and teachings in the Bible. Christian was able to go to the house for rest and refreshing, the way we come out of the world to rest in our fellowship on a Sunday. I was very impressed with them! I honestly thought that they would hate reading it.

We gave up on our history book "The Story of Mankind" (also recommended by Ambleside). I couldn't understand what was happening half of the time, so it's no wonder that the kids were bored with it. But I had already bought a set of books from Halfmoon books in Waterford called The Story Of The World Volumes 1 - 4 which have been sitting on our book shelf. We took a peek into it and read the first chapter. It was so good that the kids asked me to keep reading (that's always a good sign!) So I agreed to swap the history books over to this new one. They love it. Its much better for me because they can understand it and read it alone, although I'm learning a lot from reading it to them. I've learnt that I'm living in the wrong era. I belong with the hunter gatherers of old. The thought of roaming the land foraging for food and sleeping under the stars with a hut made from skins kind of appeals to me. I'm just not convinced on the never-having-a-wash front.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006


The happy couple.
Jude took this photo on Saturday evening.

On Tuesday evenings Steve takes a GCSE photography class. Tonight he is handing in his 2nd project which had to be based on textures. This is his final 12 photos nicely displayed. I took this photo last night.

Its done nothing but rain all week but that hasn't stopped Luke from having a good time and getting plenty of fresh air.

Today we visited the dentist. Jude, as our resident photographer, was kind enough to take the camera! I'm sorry but the photos of me getting my upper pre-molars cleaned was too horrific for a family orientated site. This is the photo Jude took of Sam.

And the photo Sam took of Jude. Luke was so terrified that he cried and hid behind a chair. He wouldn't let the dentist anywhere near his mouth, despite how excited he had been about the whole thing just moments before.

A trip to Tesco's to buy some essentials and some ginger bread men soon cheered him up. Jude took the camera again. This is me getting the gingerbread men. Dont forget to click on photos if you want to see a bigger version.

Chapter 2 - Sam's Story


It was a hard journey but with the supplies we brought we managed to survive until a fishing boat found us and took us back to England. We were taking to the nearest hospital and Montgomery was free to go but I had to stay in because I had a very big cut on my left arm. In my private room in the private hospital I was lying on my bed when there was a nock on my door. “Come in!” I shouted. The door opened and Montgomery stepped in and took a sit. “Hello.” He said. “how are you?”
“Fine. I’m just hoping to get out of this dump soon.” I said. The door knocked again. “Uh who could that be? Come in!” The door opened and a shadowy figure dressed in black with a scar on his eye came walking in. “Hi. You are John? The explorer?” he asked. “Yes I am. Why?” “Well, its about these sea monsters. I wanted to know if you would team up with me and a couple of other explorers as we are interested in these sea monsters. We will split the money equally. I have a boat and a good team ready to go. There are seven other explorers willing to come, as famous as you. We would make the front of every newspaper and we would become millionaires. You’d be named the discoverer of mysteries. Think about it.”
“Well I think that’s a fantastic idea John” said Montgomery. “Well, there would have to be a couple of conditions. Number one, we split the money equally. Number two, I am not told what to do, I do what I want. And number three, Montgomery can come.” Montgomery looked at me with his eyes opened wide. “Well” said the stranger, “I suppose I could arrange an extra space on our boat.” “Excellent!” Montgomery said, “I shall get ready right away.” I smiled as the black figure walked out of the door, with Montgomery. “What is your name?” I shouted after him. “Pascal” he replied as he turned and walked away closing the door behind him.

copyright Samuel Mayger 2006

Monday, 15 May 2006

Sam seemed a little annoyed at first when I started to help him during Maths today, but then we had a chat and agreed that seen as I was going to be helping him, we might as well enjoy the time together and make the most of it. Things went uphill from then. I learnt how to add fractions, subtract fractions, I learnt all about improper fractions, mixed fractions and simplifying fractions. It's amazing how much we forget from our school days. Maths just hasn't stuck in my head at all. I guess I didn't find it very inspiring. We had a good laugh together working it all out for an hour and I'm actually looking forward to it tomorrow. Not because I enjoy the sums, but because I found it really rewarding to see Sam understand and learn something. Very satisfying.

Apart from the maths it was a pretty dull day. It rained all day so there was no chance of going outside. Although Luke did have great fun splashing in the puddles in his Darth Vader welly boots and waterproofs. He loves the rain. Today he asked me "Where does the rain come from Mummy?" I thought that was quite an inquisitve question for a 2 year old. I explained that the clouds are full of water and when they get too heavy the water drops out as rain. He thought that was fascinating. Then I explained that all the plants drink the rain water from the tiny daisy to the biggest tree. We were in the car at the time, and all the way home he pointed to every tree and flower that he saw asking "is that one drinking the water too?" I love them at this age. Everything is so awesome to a two year old.

It's 9.45pm and I'm about to write a letter to my pen pal. I have 3 letters to answer from him and I'm slacking. He'll be wondering what's happened. We write once a week usually. I've been letting him stew as I didn't like some of the attitude in one of his letters and I couldn't motivate myself to write back to it. But his last letter was lovely and cheery again so I better get going and write back to him. He says that my letters at the only thing he has to look forward to in life. None of his family ever visit or write to him and he has been inside since 1989.

Chapter 1 - Sam's Story

hi this is chapter 1 of my story. from sam
Chapter 1

As the silent wind blow round the sail of my boat I looked out at the water which made no movement. The air was misty so I couldn’t see very well and I had know idea were we were going. The boat on they other hand was made of wood and had three large sails as I don’t like the engine running boats because I think they let you down to much. “captain” asked Montgomery in a soft voice
“yes?” I replied “I just wanted to know if the leak was fixed.”
“yes it is. I fixed it earlier on.”
“oh good.” Montgomery used to be one of the best explorers in the howl of Britain (better than me) and now even though he’s 50 years old he still comes exploring with me. He was now walking down the centre of the ship when in front of him burst a sea-monster through the wood and knocked him flying to the over side of the boat. I went to grab my gun when in front of me a smaller sea monster came through the wood. It looked at me in a cute way until it opened its mouth reviling two rows of sharp teeth. I stepped back a bit. The sea monster was about 1 ½ meters long and its skin colour was navy blue. It then slid forward on its belly. I quickly dodged out of the way and started running to my gun witch I just about got hold of in time to shoot another small sea-monster. At this time there were about 10 small sea monsters on board and the ship was sinking fast. The big sea-monster on the other hand had eating about 5 men and had been shoot 18 times and so it decided to sink back into the water. Montgomery had got up and was now cornered by two small sea-monsters but thankfully I shot one and the other ran away. Montgomery ran to the life boat and I came with him. He quickly got in and I pushed out the boat. It hit the water in no time. I immediately jumped into the boat as we sailed away. As tuff as the journey was we made it to the end.

(Copyright Samuel Mayger 2006)

Sunday, 14 May 2006

I hate Mathematics

Today I didn't get up till very late, due to the fact that I didn't go to bed until very very late. I had planned to mark the children's maths work. It's something I rarely do. They follow a maths system called Singapore Maths, and it's very good. I'm not mathematically minded at all and so I just let them get on with it. They do 40 minutes of maths every day. I took them both down a year in the subject because I felt that they hadn't really understood their last year at school and I wanted to consolidate that year before heading on to new pastures, so to speak. The books are self explanatory - the exercise book explains how to do the sums, and then they work in the work book practicing what they have learnt. I have told Sam that if he wants to start High School in September he needs to get himself up to the stage that he should be at in Maths, even if that means working on it through the summer. He said he was fine with that. But this morning I sat down to look through their maths books. Jude, being a lover of rules and routine, has worked through the books at a slow and steady pace. She is meticulous about answering every question and she takes a long time on her maths. Sam, on the other hand, races through each question as if the book is going to self combust within a certain time. There were pages of workbook which he just didn't bother to do, just left them blank. He obviously isn't reading the exercise book which explains what to do, and is just going through the workbook - because sometimes he gets his answers right, but not using the method explained in the textbook. He answer the sums in a long winded way, when its much easier another way. I feel really guilty about this because I should have been checking it more regularly - rather than trusting that he was working conscientiously. So tomorrow I must start the arduous task of sitting with him at maths time and working through these things with him. He's not going to like it one bit. But I've decided not to be cross with him, as I'm as much to blame. I hate marking their maths work. Instead of marking it every day like I should (I just don't get time) I leave it until there is a mountain to mark and it takes me hours. That'll teach me. Now I will have to spend a precious 40 minutes every day doing maths with the kids. Argh - the thought of it! I guess it will be very rewarding when I see them progressing with it.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Trip to Open Farm

On Thursday we went to Streamvale Open Farm. We didn't actually intend to go there. We were heading for the Balmoral Show in Belfast but after sitting in traffic on the M1 for an hour and a half we decided we couldn't take it any more. It was stifling hot in the car and Luke was getting very irritable. So, seen as Luke was expecting to see farm animals we headed to the open farm in Dundonald, and then went on to my sister Jenny's house afterwards.

We arrived at the farm 30 minutes before it opened so we sat in the car and had a pic-nic of strawberries, melon, blackberries, cookies and chocolate. Luke had a little nap and that kept him going for the afternoon.

The kids had such a good time at the farm. It's one of those things that all 3 of them can enjoy, despite their age differences. Jude took plenty of photos with daddy's camera. She is getting very good at photography. I think she might have a natural talent for it.

As it was a school day the farm was practically empty. I think there were only 2 or 3 other families there. They had a feeding session when the children could give a baby goat or lamb a bottle of milk. Luke wouldn't feed them but he watched Sam and Jude. The little lambs were just like babies. They were so trusting and friendly. We wanted to take one home with us!

Sam particularly enjoyed the huge penn full of rabbits. The children were allowed to go into the pen and sit with the rabbits. Sam, Jude and Luke were the only ones in it. There were about 15 rabbits in it and they were so tame. I found Sam lying in a corner surrounded by black fluffy rabbits. He was in a world of his own. He has a black rabbit at home called Juniour. Since coming home he as lavished attention on Juniour.
Without a doubt Luke's favourite part of the farm was a new area full of kiddies trucks, tractors and diggers. He was the only child in it once Sam and Jude left. On a Saturday I bet the children have to fight for a tractor, but Luke had free run of the place.

We also got to hold new born chicks and Luke had his bottom bitten by a viscous cockerel! We watched all the cows being milked in a viewing chamber above the dairy. There must have been 150 cows there! I was fascinated watching them getting milked but Luke wanted to go back to the indoor play area and slides. We could easily have spent a whole day there but it closed at 4.30 so we headed off to Jenny's house for the evening.

It was nice for all the cousins to spend some time together. They all enjoyed each others company. As usual they put on a play for me, Jenny and Luke to watch. It was very good, very funny - all about fairies and goblins fighting over something - I think! As always they had a raffle at the end of the play and me and Jenny had to fork out a load of 5p's. They spent another hour making one raffle after another and we were broke by the end of the evening!

Sam is staying over at Jenny's house tonight so I'm sure it is a mad house there. Today we had a prayer and fast meeting here at our house with the Belfast fellowship. Then the Dublin fellowship joined us for a dinner evening, with Eva and Olga from the Czech Republic, and 2 guys from Australia. I'll post photos of that tomorrow. I made a big stew for everyone to break our fast. We had a special time of prayer for Wendy in London who has just found out that she has breast cancer and is possibly going to undergo surgery, and we also prayed for Joan from our fellowship who is in hospital this week following heart trouble.
The fellowship this evening was good and everyone has just left at 11.30pm. Rachael, Anthony, Steve, myself and the 2 Australian guys talked all about the end times and bible prophecy (a favourite topic in our household these days - a close second to the topic of organic vegetable growing!) The Aussie lads are coming to stay with us during the week, when I'm sure I will hear their names enough times to actually recall what they are. Sorry lads!

So it's now midnight and I'm writing this because it's the first chance I had. It's been a good week. The kids have been in good form. It's been one of those weeks when I've really noticed the benefits of home education as opposed to schooling. I'm really rather hoping that Sam doesn't like the high school when he starts in September so that he can have a proper education at home again. The experiences they get at home, and the quality of learning themselves as opposed to 'being taught' is priceless. I wish I had never sent them to school in the first place. I certainly won't ever be sending Luke. Both Sam and Jude's reading has come on tremendously since leaving school, and they now have a love of learning that they didn't have before. They have developed interests in subjects they previously hated - such as history.

Last night Steve told me that it is Geneva, in Switzerland that he is taking me in October! Woo hoo! I have no idea what is in Geneva, but from all accounts there isn't a cheap hotel to be found there. We may not be able to afford to eat when we get there, but we will be sleeping in style.

I got a new prison pen pal this week. A lady. I've been writing to my death row pen pal for almost 2 years now and I wondered what it would be like to correspond with a woman. She seems nice enough from her first letter so we will see if she is interested in writing some more when she gets my first letter. She is due to be released in 2013, so at least I won't have to go through the horror of an execution with her. My other pal sent me a photo this week. It costs him a lot to get a Polaroid photo taken by the prison guards. So its like getting a present when I receive one. My Mum sent me info about a course in psychology & Criminology which looks very interesting. It's a distance learning one, but I don't think I could afford to pay for it, and I highly doubt I have the time to do it at the moment. Mind you, I'm learning more through educating the children at home than I did through all my years of schooling, so I'm like an encyclopedia of information at the moment. Yes, I can cheer up any awkward silence with a little snippet of factual information.

Guess I better go to bed as its passed midnight now.
Good night.

Friday, 12 May 2006

I've hardly had a chance to post this last couple of days. I just haven't had the time.
This morning Luke crawled into our bed as usual and Steve went down stairs to make him his morning bottle of milk. When he went into the living room there were two birds flying around! They had obviously come down the chimney and they were frantic! So we all ran downstairs to see them and I had to open the window and let them out. Because we were all up Steve decided it would be a good time to go through our finances with me. He had prepared a list of incoming and outgoing expenses. A few weeks back Steve stopped most of his mail order business and we decided to try and live on just the takings from the shop alone. Steve was just working too hard running two businesses and never had time to relax or spend with us. So for the first time we are living on one wage. As it turns out we now have more expenses per month than we have income, so we are losing money every day. It was a bit scary to see it all on paper. We looked through the list to see where we could save money. It was hard really to find any way of saving. We can try to buy cheaper food etc. The kids go to a few clubs but they dont consitute the bulk of our spending. Most of it is of course, the mortgage and running the car. Steve discussed getting rid of the car altogether and trying to live without one for a few years. It would seem very odd not having a car, but I reckon we would get used to it. Anyway, Steve still wants me to go to this spa retreat with Heather but I just feel so guilty spending that kind of money when we are trying to save money by eating beans and lentils instead of meat! We will see.

Today I cleaned the shower room upstairs at 5pm. Luke watched me with interest. I cleaned the toilet, sink, floor, walls and shower. He sat and watched and chatted to me. After I'd finished I took all the cleaning products downstairs and left Luke to play upstairs while I loaded the dishwasher. I heard the toilet flushing and thought I better check on Luke. He heard me coming up the stairs and was saying "don't come in Mummy". I opened the door to see such a mess! He had re-cleaned the whole shower room with Johnsons Baby Powder! The toilet was worst hit. There was a mountain of talc all over the seat. The sink was covered, the shower, the scales - and even all the walls! The floor was like a slippery talc ice rink. He put his hands over his eyes and tried to hide. I sent him to his bed and told him he had been very naughty, and I set about re-cleaning the shower room. It took me longer the second time and I could harldy breath in it! While I was re-cleaning I heard Luke calling me from his room "I'm happy now Mummy" he said. "Good" I said "But that was still a naughty thing you did in the shower room". "I'm sorry Mummy. I'm really really really really sorry Mummy. I'm a good boy now. I'm happy now. Can I get out of bed now?" Thank goodness I hadn't left the bleach in the bathroom!

Keeping up to date with the mystery trip in October I have now discovered that it is to one of the following places - either Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Austria or Sweden. I think I'm going to find out the full details pretty soon. I'm almost sure its not Norway, Finland or Austria from some of the things Steve said. He said their was an E in the city title so it could be Geneva. It's definitely not Italy anyway - and I have always wanted to go to Venice and Rome - but nevermind. I'll love it where ever it is!

Monday, 8 May 2006

How much is 2 1/2 tons?

So how much soil is 2 1/2 tons of soil? This much! Steve ordered some topsoil for the remaining veggie patch. "How much do we need?" he asked me. "I don't know" was my answer. So he ordered 2 1/2 tons, I guess by recommendation of the guy from the topsoil place. It arrived on a lorry. Luke was ever so excited! And they tipped it in our driveway, where much of it still remains, 3 days later. Between the 3 of us (Me, Steve & Jude) we must have wheeled about 60 wheelbarrows full into our veggie patch. There's still about 1/2 a ton left in the driveway but we will put it to good use.

So the veggie garden is almost finished. Here's hoping that something actually grows. I've never managed to keep even a house plant alive, so I guess its wishful thinking that we will have a bumper crop of juicy organic, caterpillar free vegetables this year. Yesterday was a glorious day again so Steve dug in the remaining four pallets. One of them is for peas, one for carrots, one for parsnips and one for red cabbage. At the moment they are still seeds so there's not much to see. I also planted in 2 blackcurrant bushes, 4 raspberry canes, and a red currant bush. There is still one patch left which we will grow beans and pumkins in. I'm hoping that now all the digging is done it will get a lot easier. I have made an earwig trap out of a stick, some hay and a small plant pot as there seems to be a lot of earwigs that like munching on juicy leaves. I don't know if the trap will work, but I hope so.

Luke has yet another streaming cold and is very miserable again (this is him this evening eating chocolate cappucino powder whilst I was cooking the dinner). The last cold he had lasted 4 weeks. He finally got rid of it 2 weeks ago and now he has another one! I'm starting to wonder if it is an allergy. This one started on Friday when I was cleaning out under our bed. It was very dusty and I pulled the bed back and was hoovering. Luke was sneezing terribly and has had a cold since then. Today I bought him some vitamins (although I don't like giving the kids synthetic vitamins) and some echinacea drops. I've also been feeding him lots of berries. I sometimes wonder if spending the first week of his life on antibiotics killed any immune system that he had.
On Sunday night when we all went to bed we each found a card on our pillow from Sam. Cute little dog in saucer cards that he got at Christmas time. My one read
"Dear Mummy
I love you so much
You are like Lush in my bath
You make life exiten and keep
me nice and fresh
From Sam"

Isn't that just so cute! And I love Lush in my bath too :)
I'll be sad when the kids grow out of leaving little notes on the pillow. Jude left me the cutest letter in my bed a few weeks back that had me in tears. It read...
"To Mummy
I love you as much as a manchin with 600 chimnies and 500,00 satalights! How much do you love me? I have written you a story and I hope you like it. One day in a faraway castle there lived a queen and she had six sons and she was to choose one to be crowned king. She didnt know how to. She didnt know who was and wasent wise. SO the next day she got 6 eggs and gave them to 3 of her sons (she new the others werent wise). One said lovely eggs! The other said There a bit sour, and the other just said thankyou mother for the most kind meal. So he became king and they ALL lived happily ever after. Jude xoxoxoxox"

I think we have a budding writer in the family, and a wise one at that. Those notes will both go into my little box of precious things.

Well, I got a funny email today from Davy "Hi Hazel As you know, I'm constantly on the lookout for ever more imaginative ways to brighten up your blog, so how about this one: Heather fancies a couple of days of serious pampering, and apparently tea and heavily buttered toast in bed just isn't good enough, so she would like to know if you fancy two or three days away at a health spa. I've linked one below, but it's just an example -- there are plenty more. Do you think Steve could cope with the kids for a couple of days? I've already volunteered to look after Catherine and since Steve is three times better with kids than I am, it should be no problem to look after three. I don't think she has a date in mind yet but I suppose late May or June would be best as it's bound to be a lot busier in the summer months. Can you let us know. Davy the failed masseuse."

So I'm off to a health farm! Wahey! I've always wanted to spend a few days in the lap of luxury beautifying myself. I certainly need it. I said yes straight away, then I thought about the cost and what else we could do with the money. But I got an email from Steve saying that I deserve to go and pamper myself for a weekend. No need to ask twice! And just to top it off, Steve is going to take me away for a weekend in October. He wont tell me where yet, although I know it is somewhere I've never been before, with an E in the title of the city! Yes, I'm getting clues again. Just like I did for Brussels last year. Steve sent me 3 clues over 3 weeks and I had to guess what the surprise was. This time I've had 2 clues and I have no idea when I will find out for sure.

Friday, 5 May 2006


I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
"Oh excuse me please" was my reply.
He said, "Please excuse me too;
I wasn't watching for you."
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
"Move out of the way," I said with a frown.
He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.
While I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,
"While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.
Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers there by the door.
Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes."
By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
"Wake up, little one, wake up," I said.
"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"
He smiled, "I found 'em, out by the tree.
I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."
I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way."
He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay. I love you anyway."
I said, "Son, I love you too, and I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

Thursday, 4 May 2006

T-shirts from America

Today Daddy came home from work with a parcel from America. How exciting! We finished our dinner and then openend the parcel. Inside were 3 presents all wrapped up with cute little message written onto them. Luke was shaking from the excitement of having an unexpected present! Sam, Jude and Luke each received a t-shirt from Colleen and her girls in America. Colleen saw a message that we had posted on the internet last year, looking for postcards for our home school postcard project. We received about 200 postcards altogether, which are displayed on our study room wall. Colleen sent us postcards too, but she also sent the kids a huge box full of sweets that we cant get in this country. wow, it was like christmas. We have received 4 parcels from Colleen now and enjoy each of them. We havent finished the sweets from the last one yet. So we thought we would post a photo of the kids sporting their new t-shirts, and eating their american lollies! Thanks so much to Colleen and her girls (and special thanks to Taylor who thinks I'm pretty! What a lovely child :)

Exploris Aquarium

Yesterday, as planned, we went to the Aquarium in Portaferry after my x-ray appointment. It was a good drive to Strangford Lough, and then we drove the car onto the little ferry that crosses to the other side of the lough, where the aquarium is. Its quicker to do that than to drive to the other side of the peninsular. Luke was so excited about seeing the fish, and he especially wanted to see the sharks and starfish. Sam and Jude were still a little disappointed about the organic farm. But we had a great day at the aquarium.
Because it was a school day the place was pretty quiet. There were touch tanks with fish that the kids could touch - starfish, sea urchins, friendly sharks, and extremely frienly ray fish that loved to have their noses stroked! The kids like the touch tanks the best. This time there were 3 rescued seals and they were all out sunbathing on the rocks. They have changed the upstairs part of the exhibition to enclude a fantastic new play area. It kept our kids amused for hours. There were all sorts of costume to dress up in - Jude dressed up as a diver, Sam as a jellyfish and Luke as a crab! There was also a new beach hut which had an area for making sea-life puppet shows. Needless to say we had to watch a show performed by Sam about the hermit crab who was looking for a new home!

You can click on the photos to see them bigger.

After we had spent a few hours at the aquarium we drove home through Downpatrick. We had an hour to spare so we stopped at St Patricks grave. The kids were recently learning a little about St Patricks Day so we thought they might enjoy seeing the grave, and the Cathedral. There wasnt much to see really, just a large grave stone with an ancient graving sayin 'Patrick' on it, and a stone with a little info. But we also popped into the Down Museum, which was free. We love free stuff! We took a little tour of the gaol - the prison from many moons ago. The kids loved that. In the prison cells they had waxwork people dressed in old costume, and there was info telling about the people who were kept there and what their crimes were. Outside the prison we could see where the gallows pole used to hang across the street - this is where they would have publicly hanged the condemned. Kids love anything gorey like that! For some reason there was a huge outdoor chess set in the grounds, so we all had a play at that too.

Here is Sam, Luke, Steve and Jude at the gravestone of St Patrick, in Downpatrick.

Playing chess in the prison grounds.

Me, Sam and Jude looking gorgeous, in part of the new play area.