Thursday, 31 August 2006

Pretty girlie things, and getting ready for school

Spent all evening getting Sam completely ready for school. He is now in bed, waiting to be tucked in, having an early night for a fresh start tomorrow. It's his first day at the college. I'm sure he will love it. First days have got to be fun, right?

Yesterday Mum was here all day and we took a drive to Craigavon where my Mum lost her purse in Matalan! Luckily someone handed it in, but we had some fun re-tracing our steps and looking for it. Mum was a bit panicky, as you would expect. I had to buy Sam some trainers for PE, and a pc mempory stick to take to school. We all had lunch together in Sainsburys, where Sam reverted to a 2 year old and ran riot. You can't blame the lad on his last week before high school.

I was getting stresssed about it all this evening, not coping with it. Trying to gather together the last few bits n peices he needed (a wash cloth and a tea towel !?!) I wanted his room tidied and he was doing it real slow. Just as my stress levels were bubbling over Jude came to me with a surprise. She had been quietly sitting in her room making me some beautiful things. I love the little things the kids make so much, they just melt my heart. Luke made me a picture today of worms - basically a lot of lines - there was a Mummy worm, Daddy worm, Sam worm, Jude worm and two Luke wormies! He had all the length corresponding with how tall we are. Here are Jude's beautiful things that she made me. Aren't they adorable? She's just adorable too.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Reece's Rainbow Ebay Auction For Charity

Please click here to visit an ebay charity auction for Reece's Rainbow adoption fund for children with Down's Syndrome. This months auction is to raise money for Cesar in Guatemala. I see so far no one has bid any money on him, which is such a shame. Please take a look at it.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006


I finally managed to add the rest of the weekends photos to the entry, two entries below this one.

A book meme

Thanks Sharon for tagging me.

Oh this is a tough one to fill in. Some of my answers are going to be a bit of a cop out I think. And some of them I won't be able to keep to just one option. LOL. Also, I could answer 'the Bible' to a lot of these questions, but I won't, as I'm thinking it's supposed to be about literature. Ok,

1. One book that changed your life?
I'm not sure any one book has changed my life, as such, but there are some that have influenced my life. Euripides 'Medea' introduced me to a whole new genre of reading that I didn't know I would enjoy, it's a Greek tragedy, a play. Then there are so many books about diet and food that have changed the way we eat. I couldn't begin to list them all.

2. One book you have read more than once?
As a child I read the Enid Blyton Enchanted Wood books, over, and over, and over. They took me into a complete fantasy world. I must have read them so many times. I remember feeling daft at school when I found out everyone had grown out of them years before me, but they were just so magical that I couldn't stop reading. I read one of them to Jude, and the memories all came flooding back. (Except Jude made me change one of the girls names to Daisy, as she couldn't stand the real name (not one that's used these days!) and it was very hard to remember to say Daisy every time.)

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Hmm, is there one called Cooking with Coconuts? How to make fire? How to build a log house from palm trees? I have no idea about this. I guess I'd want a book I hadn't read before, but if I haven't read it then I don't know if it's any good, do I? Failing that, I bought Sam a book called The American Boys Handy Book, and its a great read. It tells you how to do all sorts of things that could be handy, or just fun, on a desert island. How to build a bridge, fly a kite, make a fire, build a hut from sticks... yes that could be handy.

4. One book that made you cry?
Hmmm, this is a tough one. For fiction, The Green Mile, by Stephen King, made me cry (I read it before the film came out). True life, the three books in one by Dave Pelzer were heart breaking to read. The story of a child abused by his mother. The three books are called A child called it, the lost boy and a man named Dave.

5. One book that made you laugh?
I'm really struggling to answer this one. Although I'm sure I will think of heaps of answers once I've posted this. I'm not sure that I ever read funny books, except some kids books. Nope, my mind has gone blank for this one, I'm afraid.

6. One book you wish had been written?
How to time travel effectively. Or, how to add extra hours to your day. Both of those could be useful.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
I don't know really. I haven't read a book that I wish hadn't been written. There's been books that I've put down after a few pages because they were so awful. But I couldn't say I wish that they'd never been written.

8. One book you are currently reading?
I'm reading a lot more than one book at the moment. At the book fair I picked up a copy of How Children Fail, by John Holt. That's my bedtime reading at the moment (despite the title this book is more about how schools fail children). I'm also browsing through a copy of The Over Scheduled Child. For a bit of light reading, when I want to relax, I'm currently reading The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, and Six More, by Roald Dahl - a series of short stories for adults. These are good to read at night, because each story is just the right length to read in one go, some are amusing, and some are factual, but all are written in Dahl's unique style.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Ahh, most of the books that the kids have in their study room, I look at them and think, I must read that sometime, it looks really good. Here are a few of them... the railway children, black beauty, little women, our island story, the story of the world volumes, robinson crusoe, treasure island... Basically, there are a lot of the kids classics that I've never read, and keep meaning to.

I'm tagging Breeze, Tammy, Anna, and I think everyone else has done it, more or less.

Monday, 28 August 2006

The weekend in photos...

I haven't had time to write a proper blog entry this weekend, despite all the fun I could blog about. We had a prayer and fast meeting here with people from Belfast and Dublin. I cooked and fed them all afterwards and a great time of chat and fun was had by all. Grandad took Sam fishing on Friday and then came back for dinner. Nanny came round for a roast dinner last night, stayed late and gave Steve a free cognitive therapy session (which I must say I rather enjoyed!) Today I cleaned out the study room and got rid of all the junk and grime that we have accumulated over the last year. And now I am about to plan some routine for myself, and work for Jude for the coming weeks. Sam goes to high school on Friday, and on the following Monday Jude will be starting back at her home education routine. So I'm trying to get that planned out a bit. Anyway, here is our weekend in pictures...

First of all, the weekend of fashion statements from little Lukey...
outfit number 1.
This is Judes white shorts and vest set, which says Babe on the front. Twinned with a gorgeous pink 'fairy princess' hat (judes - from Australia), and some red and blue bob the builder pyjamas. Stunning.

Outfit number 2.
The Babe t-shirt was worn all weekend, just about. Here is is nicely twinned with the pink egyptian hat and a pink puppy vanity case. (Note also the hairbands around the arms - nice touch).

Outfit number 3.
Once again, the white shorts and vest set, and pjs, has been accessorised with the red archery hat, and finished of nicely with a miners head torch! (Not everyone can get away with this look).

Outfit number 4.
Almost the same as number three, but with a subtle swap of the head torch for the pink puppy vanity case. Also, note the pink pig necklace that is a nice added touch.

Outfit number 5.
This is a new look for Luke. Last night his Nanny gave his Mummy a bag of clothes that she didn't want any more. Well, this was like a bounty from heaven for wee Luke. Here he is modeling Nanny's old silky shirt, a yellow alice band, hair bands as bracelets, and my favourite khaki green top (which he is wearing as a dress, under the shirt).

At his point, I should mention that Jude's room is very easily accessible to Luke, whereas Sams isn't, which is why a lot of the stuff he dresses up in is pink. Ahem, just in case you were wondering.
This entry isn't finished yet. I DID finish it with a heap more photos, when blogger decided to shut down and I lost all my work. Now Im too fed up to complete it today. So I'll be back to finish it tomorrow.

Ok, it's the next day now, so let's see if I can re-post what I lost. Here are the rest of the photos...

My Mum brought me round some flowers from her garden. They are gorgeous, despite my terrible flower arranging skills. I put them in the hallway, under my shelves of little ladies.

Luke's sunflowers are nearly all in bloom now. It's a shame that it doesn't stop raining long enough for us to enjoy them. But they look lovely from the road, as you can see in this photo.

Daddy spent some time with Jude in her room and they looked so cute that I had to take a photo. He was helping her to make her little sand people kit, that has been in her room for ages. They had great fun together. I love seeing the kids playing with their Dad. It's so precious.

Here is the end result. Two little sand bottle men.

Luke had a creative moment this weekend too. We have some special pens for drawing on windows. Luke's Aunty Jenny drew Luke's portrait on the window by the front door. The next day Luke turned it into a masterpiece, with the addition of some playdough. He was so proud of himself and wanted me to take a photo for the blog. Bless him.

Now for the last photo. After the fast meeting on Saturday the hangers on were treated to a play from the kids. Anyone who knows us, knows this is not at all unusual. Our kids often 'delight' visitors with plays - to date we have been treated to the Phantom of the Opera, Jungle Book, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and many others. This time it was the Three Little Pigs (Luke's current favourite story). Their cousins were involved too. It was very good. They all made pig and wolf masks and made houses from banana boxes, from the garden.

So that was our weekend in photos. It was a busy, fun filled weekend but I just didn't have the time to post about it in details, so this will do. Don't forget to click on the photos to see full size versions.

Steve made me a compilation tape

Just like in the old days, when we were madly in love! Steve used to make me compilation tapes back then. Well, I must be doing something right because he just made me another one, and it's a cracker. Here is the track listing...

Keane - Is it any wonder
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Dani California
Sigur Ros - Hoppipok
Scissors sisters - Laura + Take Your Mama
Johnny cash - Heart of Gold, Devils Right Hand, Pocahontas, Redemtion Son, and As Long As The Grass
Radiohead - No Surprises
Damien Rice - The Blowers Daughter
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Up Around The Bend
Harry Nelson - Coconut
Black Eyed Peas - Where Is The Love?
Gorizzas - Dare
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Teenager In Love
Kiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
Muse - Plug In Baby
Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven

Friday, 25 August 2006

Luke's Style Statements (for this week)

Ever the trend setter, Luke spent just as many hours this week trying out new looks, as he did asking for sweets. This cute little number mimics a pink hair do (cleverly acheived with Jude's pink poncho) , a dashing grey tie, matched with the grey dressing gown belt, and rounded off with a gorgeous read crocheted hand bag. Edit - note the favourite blue pj top wrapped around the knees too!

Outfit number two was created just last night. Here Luke models Mummys all time favourite top (specified to suit Mummys body shape by no onther than Trinny and Suzanna). Luke wears this number as a dress, and compliments it with an imitation English £50 note eraser.

The last little number, for the moment, is this great outfit. (Note how the red tones tie it all together?) The hat, all the way from Egypt, belongs to Sam, and the scarf (which Steve bought me in Belgium) belongs to Mummy. The dummy is the models own.

Who's a clever boy then?

Steve is! Steve is!

Oh yes he is!

Steve got an A in his GCSE photography!

Well done my darling! I'm proud of you, but I knew you'd get an A.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

International Adoption rant

Most people who know me well, know that I've talked on and off for years about adopting a child. I've read many books about International Adoption and looked at hundreds of websites over the years. I'd adopt a child tomorrow if it wasn't for the cost involved. Steve and I talked about adopting a child from an orphanage years ago when we had just two children. We even talked to the adoption department at social services. The lady in charge was very negative about it. She wanted us to adopt a child from NI and it was obvious that she was going to be as unhelpful as possible with regards to helping us get a child from overseas. Yes its true that there are many children in this country that do need good homes. But that is not what is in my heart. The children in this country, whilst they do want homes, are fed and looked after. Not to mention that the adoption process in this country can be very different from how some people imagine. Adopting a child here could mean that the child has ties with family, visits to parents or family members. I understand that this is for the wellbeing of the child, but it's not something I want to cope with or have any desire to carry out. What does spark passion in my soul is the possibility of making room in our home and hearts for a child that lives in poverty, in hell really. To take a child that spends 20 hours a day in a cot, that has no medical help, that is undernourished, unloved and forgotten, that may have been through terrible times in its few years of life, and to bring them to a home with love, affection and care. It seems impossible for us to do. The cost to do this in the UK is phenomenal. It would take years of fundraising and begging to raise the money. It seems immoral to me that the cost of helping a child is so high. In an ideal world these children would be helped free of charge into loving family homes.

So everytime this idea comes back into my head I dwell on it for a while, think about the possibilities, look at websites with photos of waiting children. Then I decide that it's not possible, that its just a dream, some silly notion that I've got stuck in my head. And I try to push the idea away and get on with life. I've prayed about it a lot. I've prayed that if this is what God wants me to do with my life, that he makes it obvious to me. And then I again put it out of my mind. But every time I manage to forget about it, something brings the whole idea flooding back to me. Lol. I received an email this week from a friend who found a website that helps families (including UK families) to raise money for adopting a child with downs syndrome. This lady 'felt' that she should email me the info. I spent a few hours reading the info, looking at photos of the gorgeous children, waiting for their forever families. I emailed the owner of the site who emailed me back immediately (usually no one ever emails back, once they realise you are outside of the US). She sent me a private link with details of children in the Ukraine that need adopting. It includes photos, which they are not allowed to publish publicly. In the Ukraine, children with downs syndrome that live in orphanages are put into mental institutions at the age of 4, if they haven't found a family to adopt them by that time. These institutions are not pleasant places, and the children are forgotten about until the day they die, often strapped into beds so that they can not roam around. Isn't that heart breaking? Some of the children's ads have large red messages on them begging for a family asap as they are nearing the age of going into the mental institution. I was in tears reading about them and seeing their little faces. What a horrible wicked world we live in. And it makes me so cross that there are charitable people out there that would take these children and give them homes, but the process is made so long, arduous and expensive that many can not or do not try.

If you can find it in your heart to visit the Reece's Rainbow website, take a look at the photos of children waiting for adoption. The ones with no photos are the ones from the Ukraine that I mentioned. If you can find it in your heart to make a small donation to any of these children then that would be great. Each child has a grant fund to help them pay for adoption. Some children have nothing in their fund, some have $500. If everyone who cared paid $10 into their funds they would be adopted much quicker. I guess I shall leave my rant there for now.

Edit - just to let you know that they do take paypal so its easy for anyone who feels moved, to make a donation, whether in the US or not ;)

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Armagh Planetarium

Yesterday we took a trip to the newly renovated Armagh Planetarium. We stopped at Jude's friends house on the way to see if she would like to come. Much to Jude's delight, T was able to join us. We all had a great fun day, made more enjoyable for Sam and Jude by having a lovely well behaved delightful friend present.

The woman at reception really should not have been working in the tourism industry as she was moody, unapproachable and very unhelpful. Not a good face to the new planetarium.

We had fun despite her. We booked a show for the 3 older kids at 5pm. It was called Big and was designed to show how big the universe is. The lady at reception didnt want the kids to see the show without an adult present, and Luke was not allowed to go into it, so what was I to do? I told her they were old enough and well behaved enough to go into the show without me. Eventually the manager saw her attitude and came over to take control. He said the kids would be fine without me.

The planetarium exhibition itself isn't very large but they had extra activities on, with it being the summer holidays. The children all made rockets from empty coke bottles. They decorated the nose cone and wings which they stuck on. A bag of rocks was placed into the nose cone and the bottle was half filled with water. Then they went outside where a man launched their rockets into space. Jude's went the furthest, much to her delight. Sam later made an astronaut which he strapped onto another rocket and sent into orbit. It was quite funny because the rocket shot into the air and landed 50 feet away, then these little silver strips of astronaut clothing gently fluttered down to the blast off point. A poor naked little astronaut had been sent into space. Sam thought that was hilarous!

This is T, Jude and Sam outside the planetarium entrance.

Luke really enjoyed running around over the glass map of Northern Ireland.

All four kids did a bit of moon walking while we were there.

And here they are making their rockets.

Before the rockets were launched. Sam has Lukes rocket and his own, as Luke didn't want to pose.

Here is one of the rockets about to blast off!

Another room was set up to make astronauts. All of the kids loved this room, as they are all interested in crafts. T, Jude and Sam made astronauts while Luke got sticky and messy with glue and paper squares. He just loved it. He made a 'planet' picture (so he had obviously picked up the idea on his way round the planetarium that this place was all about space). They also made badges, and helped to make part of a big space collage.

Luke quietly making his planet picture.

Three happy kids and three crafty astronauts.

The astronauts enjoyed moon walking almost as much as the kids.

Thankfully, the weather was nice, so we took a walk around the observatory gardens. This was just as much fun as the planetarium. We took a look into two observatories and could see the big telescopes pointing up into space. There were various outside planet displays. One of them had a scaled down solar system. We stood at the sun and then walked to each planet in turn. The planets were made out of metal balls and you could see their distance from the sun and their size in comparison with each other. It really helped the kids to understand the sizes and distances between the various planets. Then we went for a walk into a little woodland area and played a hide and seek game. We all took it in turns to seek while the others hid behind trees. You wouldn't believe how much fun the kids thought this was. Even Luke took his turns at hiding and seeking.

One of the outdoor observatories.

Jude sitting on Neptune.
T came back to our house for dinner and we printed out and laminated a page of photos from our day for her to take home. She also took home a lettuce which she had planted from seed last time she was here. The kids all had a wonderful day and were so well behaved. All the way around the planetarium and observatory they asked constant questions about space and the planets, expecting me to know the answer to each and every one of them! We had quite a time finding out some of the answers. I was pleased to see how much they wanted to learn while they were there. Obviously a few weeks with no set work has allowed their natural curiosity to learn to thrive again.

Photos of Lukes masterpeices

Finally, I was able to put these last two photos on. Luke sticking and glueing in the kitchen. A blue bird, a brown slide and a red ladybug. Plus a jelly baby wrapper with blue tissue paper stuck on. He is just so proud of these creations. They are pretty cute.

Monday, 21 August 2006

Mushrooms, paper mache, garfield and keiser cheifs...

Today was a pretty good day, all in all. Sam is back home from his two weeks in England. It is so nice to get him home. Luke seems really pleased to have him back and the pair of them spent a lot of time playing together on the trampoline. Because there isn't much time left until Sam starts school, I feel we should make the most of the days that we have left. So today we decided to go to the cimena to see Garfield 2. It was ok. Sam and Jude enjoyed it, and Luke was happy enough because there was only one other family in the cinema, so he was able to walk up and down the ilses once he got bored of the film, without me having to worry that he was ruining the show for other people. He seemed happy enough.

Apart from the trip to the cinema it was a pretty normal day. We took another look in our mushroom box and couldn't believe how much the mushrooms had grown in just one night! Luke and Jude picked one each and we will eat them with dinner tomorrow.

This evening I sat at the kitchen table with Jude while she decorated a paper mache cat with tissue paper. I bought it for her many weeks ago, for something to do during the summer holidays. But it got shoved in a cupboard and forgotten about until I tidied her room. So she decorated it this evening and was pretty pleased with the results. She's going to post a picture of it on her blog later.

Whilst Jude was being crafty, Sam, Luke and I had a boogie in the kitchen. Steve made me a compilation tape (just like he used to years ago before we were married!) of various excellent songs. It' s such a great tape. I called Sam in for a dance during the Keisercheifs "I predit a riot". After a good dance Luke decided that the craft work looked like fun. So he glued some tissue paper onto some broken peices of polystyrene, and made a bird, a slide and a ladybug. Then he decorated an empty jelly babies packet with peices of blue tissue paper. Boy did he have fun! He was so proud of his creations. (I have a photo fo his creations but blogger has gone on strike again and wont let me upload those ones so I'll put them on tomorrow). Here are the other photos...

Here are the huge mushrooms that we picked to eat for dinner tomorrow.

Here is Jude making her paper mache cat.

Sam and Luke having a boogie whilst Jude works on her cat.

Sam, me and Luke predicting a riot!

Today was no exception on the fashion front for Luke. As per usual he lost the trousers and socks I'd dressed him in. He kept the rather dashing red, white and blue England supports jumper and complemented that with a red archery hat (Jude's), and a grunge denim belt (Sam's). This was accessorised with a pink striped Victoria's Secrets bag, containing many essential daily items, including a red knitted handbag, and a plastic jug, a plastic burger and a plastic apple. Once again he looks the business.

Homeschool Meme (Tagged)

Homeschool Meme (Tagged)
Breeze tagged me.

Well, there are quite a few that we have enjoyed over the last year. Sam loved Trial and Triumph, (stories from Church history with all sorts of gory tales about martyrs, which really made him think about how different things used to be for Christians), we all loved Story of the World Volume 1, and are looking forward to the next few volumes. I thought Minn of the Mississippi and other books by the same author were enchanting.

The internet. No doubt about it. To answer all the questions that I don't know the answers to - why does it rain? what do wasps do to help with nature? who discovered the tomb of tutankhamun? Can I print out all the flags of the world and colour them in? Can I learn to write hieroglyphics? Can I learn how to write my name in Japanese?

The Story of Mankind. We wasted almost a year trying to read it, and even I didn't understand what it was talking about.

The Ulster Museum in Belfast. Firstly it's free, secondly it has a mummy, and thirdly all 3 kids got something from our regular visits.

Singapore maths series.



I have never read one of these.


I'm not exactly sure how to do this but Im trying to tag...

Deb1 Sharon Tammy Deb2 Anna

Am I supposed to tell them they've been tagged???

Sunday, 20 August 2006

Archery resuts for Jude

Click here to visit Judes blog and see how she did in the archery championships.

My boy is just the cutest little thing...

Luke has a passion for dressing up. I'm going to have to get together a box of dressing up clothes, hats and accessories for him. Every day he takes off what ever clothes I've dressed him in, and re-appears draped in various clothes, belts, ties, hats etc. Here are his fashion statements for the past two days...

This trendy ensemble was cleverly put together by wearing a darth vader mask backwards, so that it looks like a hat, combined with a stunning purple wrap top (belonging to Mum), accessorised by a dressing gown belt and a pink hair plait. I think you'll agree, it's very hip.

Todays outfit is one of Luke's favourites. The blue vest pyjama top draped around his neck belongs to Mum, but it is more often seen on Luke. Again, he is sporting the grey dressing gown belt, but this outfit has been cleverly accessorised by the use of a pink sequin head band. The yellow duck and mouse keyring were an essential part of the outfit, and were not just there by coincidence. After this photo was taken, the outfit was further enhanced by the addition of one of Daddy's sunday best ties.
I think our young man will be either an actor or a fashion designer when he grows up.

Oh, guess what we discovered today. Mushrooms! (not the wild variety). These mushrooms are growing in a box in the utility room, but we had given up hope of any actually growing. Two days ago there was nothing in this box apart from soil. Today we opened the lid and got a big surprise!

Saturday, 19 August 2006

Vegetable Garden Update

This evening we spent a little time in the garden, helping out the veggies where needed. Steve put up some trellis to protect the sunflowers from passing kids or hooligans. We measured the tallest one, and it was just under 9ft tall (275 cm, 108 inches) and now has a beautiful yellow flower. It will look lovely when all the flowers have developed fully.

All the fruits in the garden are doing well. Jude picked a bowl of strawberries, and Luke picked (and eat) a bowl of raspberries, which are his favourite.

The peas are growing really well and Jude harvested a bowl full of them to eat with dinner. We like them best raw, but even cooked they tasted so much better than frozen peas from the supermarket.

I have two types of pumpkin growing in the garden. One is butternut squash (they grow HUGE and spread right across the garden) and the other type turned out to be courgettes, despite saying they were small round purple pumpkins on the packet of seeds. But no, I'm pretty sure they are courgettes (zucchini). This is the best growing courgette from our 7 plants.

And here are a few baby ones which have just appeared (behind each flower you can see a little green baby courgette).

This week we used a few of our home grown onions in curries. I caught Luke heaving them out of the ground while I was gardening. He was so proud of himself and ran over with two muddy onions saying "Mummy, these ones are ready to eat". They aren't supposed to be harvested until Autumn but they are huge already and look just like proper onions to me.

Here is the veggie garden in all its glory. It changes so much from day to day. Unfortunately all our tomato plants caught something nasty. They all went black and died. About 20lbs of green tomatoes when black and mouldy. We harvested some green ones a few weeks back and have them ripening in a draw.

The garden is full of wild mushrooms at the moment, with all this wet weather. I'm trying to find out what sort of mushrooms they are, and whether they are edible or poisonous.

Archery Championships for Jude

Today was the first day of the Juniour Archery Championships. Jude has been practising for it for weeks. Today Steve took her, and tomorrow I'm going. It was a long day of shooting and the kids were all shattered at the end of it. They've to do the same again tomorrow. But doesn't it look like great fun? I'd love to take up archery...