Sunday, 30 December 2007

An Irony...but not for for those of a weak disposition!

We have lived in our house for 17 years and apart from the furry mammals that we have chosen to share their lives with us, we have never had what you might call a rodent problem.

We live backed by allotments so the opportunity is certainly there. Our neighbours constantly seem to suffer, although there are plently of cats in the area - one of our neighbours has 5!

For 16 of the 17 years we had cats too - Smudgie going to cat heaven this time last year and, while he evidenced that there were mice about, bringing little dead gifts back now and then, we had never had any in the house until last week, when I saw one.

A trip to B and Q ensued and I purchased a humane trap and 2 death traps ( poison bait). The children begged me not to use the death traps so we persevered with the humane one, really looking forward to the time we would then have to take the trapped mouse 'up to a kilometre away to release it' to ensure it wouldn't come back and hopefully all its friends and family would leave too in a grand expedition to find it.

The humane trap appeared to have a mind of its own however, and tricked us on numerous occasions into thinking we had caught the mouse. At one point the mouse had been in, eaten the bait and gone again before the trap politely shut, leaving me with Tom and Jerry images of accomplices and orphan mice etc.

So we gave up on the trap and didn't check it for a couple of days. The instructions say you are supposed to check it ever 6 hours so that the mouse, if captured does not become traumatised inside the trap.

DRUMROLL............

On Friday evening, Joe came in to the living room to announce that the mouse had been caught, the trap was sprung and it felt heavy. I was astonished as I hadn't set the trap properly at all and certainly hadn't checked it since Weds Eve when Keith and I had decided to make 'other arrangements' mwahahahaha!

I was not going for a kilometre drive or walk so suggested the kids take it to the end of the garden to let it go.

Shock horror - the humane trap had become an inhumane trap and the mouse was ever so horribly dead. Joe gave a blow by blow description and we all felt sick, Elyse was broken hearted and Thomas was delighted to have found her Achilles Heel, whispering 'Dead Mouse' at every opportunity - kids are so cruel.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Still having Fun?




I like the way Christmas has fallen this year because I seem to have ended up with a couple of chill out days on the process, days where some manner of consolidation can occur before the next onslaught and today is one of them.
Christmas Eve we went to see Enchanted and it really is a lovely movie....nice even, but just what you need on Christmas Eve. I cried a whole lot because it's such a happy movie, the heroine is so fundamentally happy ( she's a Princess you know) bringing cartoon standards into the 21st centuary with hilarious results....and SO MUCH LOVE. AAAhhhh!
Joe went out with the Youth Group Carol Singing dressed as one half of the Blues Brothers ( Mark was the other half) and they looked really brilliant. They were accompanied by an elf, a fairy, Rocky Balboa, some extras ( hmmm more like couldn't be bothered) wonder woman etc.


Christmas Day after we'd opened gifts from Father Christmas, we went to church, which was still standing after the Candle Light service on Sunday ( woah, what a potential blast that was!). It was a great service and always good to share Christmas Morning stories with other families - what did YOU get etc and especially as there were three congregations sharing the service that day. Keith even met a guy that he used to work with at the Post Office, Mr Tom Dingley ( what a great name) who, funnily enough married someone I used to go to school with who is the daughter of the manger ( now retired) of one of the Lloyds Bank Branches I used to work in. The whole family attend the URC - small world.
We went home for our lunch, after another present fest, and then all piled round to my brother's where my mum and dad were spending the day, for tea and other present fest. My nieces are gorgeous - Libbie was very excited and Ellie and Daisie were too although they couldn't quite communicate that, but they were. They are getting all smiley and very fat which is great


Boxing Day we visited Keith's sister and family, where Keiths mum and dad had gone for Christmas and enjoyed another present fest and Gillian's legendary Boxing Day Mashed Potato. My niece and nephew are lovely, really grown up now and very into debating stuff, so we discussed destiny ( by way of the String Theory - trouser legs of time etc) and bringing up kids and according to a 16 year old girl, how random that is, why would you want to put yourself through all that and how some people research buying a fridge for longer than they might consider the implications of having a child. TRUE, but then I introduced the concept of love and we went off down that rollercoaster ride. It was good stuff.


Yesterday was Consolidation Day 1 and Keith and I went for a romatic trip to B and Q and bought a new bin with a voucher and some light bulbs, but I dropped the box and they broke....but we laughed out loud. My dad popped round to sort out some stuff on his laptop and my nieghbour knocked to remind us that it is Bin Day today, because she had noticed that we didn't put any rubbish out last week, which is kind, but a bit worrying at the same time.
We also used my mum in laws amazing Vax machine to clean a rug that is going into Joe's room - it was incredible.
When the kids went to bed we watched the Bourne Ultimatum - great movie and very satisfying conclusion.

Which brings me to today - washing machine has been on, ironing pile growing nicely, Keith has gone in to work for a while and in a mo we're off for a walk.
Tiddly pom!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

What's It All About?






Elyses Question Of The Day - Why do people who say 'Oh God' and 'Jesus' for swear words sing about him at Christmas and believe in him? Is it just for the presents?

She told me that one little boy admits to miming the words because he doesn't believe and I admire his 'integrity' but am sad for him at the same time. Old head on young shoulders - his dad is 'away' etc. Or maybe he just doesn't know the words?

The thing is school choirs around the country are singing words like this:

Child in a manger born
I want to know you more.
Know you are near me,
Love you more dearly.
Jesus my Lord

and:
And they call His name Jesus,

Jesus the Saviour

And they call His name Jesus

Saviour Of the World.

The tunes are catchy, and I think the words are profound, and I'm not surprised that some kids don't want to sing them, but I'll suggest that the kids will be singing these words or humming the tunes for ages, because rehearsals are like Boot Camps - You're NOT going to play until you've doen it properly etc. Its' really drummed into them, I've witnessed it myself and teachers get stressed and say things they don't mean etc.

I was talking to a friend who's church have a Crib service on Christmas Eve and she says the church is packed with families of the kids from the local school who never attend church at any other time - it's standing room only.

I guess we give our children permission to suspend realilty at Christmas Time and so I guess, for some kids, Jesus is just part of that package?

There was a small controversy over a song that our songsters sang this last week - Felice Navidad, as the words say,

'We want to wish you a Merry Christmas, with lots of presents to make you happy'
...and one very wise mate said,'If you think of it as presence, it's okay really.


I really pray that you all get loads of presence this Christmas, because that's what it's all about.



Tuesday, 18 December 2007

In,Out, In, Out, Shake It All About.


No, this isn't another rant about my frustrated daily doings, it's a celebration of a morning's work well done - I think.


Yesterday afternoon I recieved a text from friend who was due to run 2 parties today for the children who attend her Church - toddlers this morning, children this afternoon.


Help, she said, I'm not well. Could you give me a hand at any point, I'm sure you must be really busy etc.


Busy? Yes and No. Not busy in the hussle and bussleness of some folks days this close to Christmas, but busy in that things need doing to hit the ground running in January and hopefully, make all our lives easier eventually.


Anyway, I went to help at the Toddler Party and realised that my friend was indeed quite ill, but would she go home - NO!


I spent most of the morning in the kitchen, making cups of tea and coffee - Fiona, stop laughing - then I came out to facilitate song time, all the faves, Oakie Coakie, Twinkle, Twinkle, Duke of York, Our God is a Great Big God ( nearly cried!!) and Jingle Bells, to ensure Father Christmas knew where to find us.


Once he was safely esconced dishing out the prezzies, I returned to the kitchen to sort out the food, then dish all that out once Father Christmas had gone. Seriously, he's one busy man!


Then there was the tidying up, so that the hall would be ready for the 'Over 60's' club. Hopefully they wouldn't be too untidy as the Incredibles would be turning up at 4 ish for fun, games, food and a visit from Father Christmas - what a guy!


Money for old rope? Possibly...but this is what my friend does every week - 51 of them without Santa -along with all the other stuff she has to do.


So I guess this is a tribute to all the ministers out there who are frayed and frazzled - and if you know some and get near them this week, give them a hug and say thanks.



Monday, 17 December 2007

An Old Friend.

Lord I'm really glad you're here.
I hope you feel the same when you see all my fear,
And how I fail,I fall sometimes.
It's hard to walk on shifting sand.
I miss the rock, and find I've nowhere left to stand;I start to cry.
Lord, please help me raise my hands so you can pick me up.
Hold me close, Hold me tighter.
I have found a place where I can hide.
It's safe inside
Your arms of love.
Like a child who's held throughout a storm,
You keep me warm,
In your arms of love.
Storms will come and storms will go.
Wonder just how many storms it takes until I finally know
You're here always.
Even when my skies are far from gray, I can stay;
Teach me to stay there,
In the place I've found where I can hide.
It's safe inside
Your arms of love.
Like a child who's helped throughout a storm,
You keep me warm
In your arms of love.
Amy Grant.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Journey Interrupted.


AArgh! What a week!


Monday : we celebrated Thomas and Elyse turning 9 with cakes + candles and hot dogs for tea - their choice. The candles were a bit chewy though.
They still haven't been on the trampoline yet. Getting up and coming home in the dark - it's horrible...and I've noticed that not so many folks in our street have lit up their homes with twinkly lights yet. Normally, by the 1oth we can rival Oxford Street and I always moan because it seems to early, but I miss it now :(


Tuesday: I attempted to go to Welwyn Garden City and got nearly to the M25 when the traffic news advised me that there was a 10 mile tail back from the A10 and that my other route, A1/M was also blocked, so even if I'd made it that far, I would still have been wasting my time. So I cancelled that visit.


In the evening the Singing Company were carolling at a Gardening Club at a local Corps and I ended up looking after the children that felt sick and eventually called various parents to take them home. However, I did get to enjoy some of the programme and had a flashback when one of the girls was reading the Christmas Story and got the giggles. I recalled a similar experience when leading a responsive bible reading in Sunday School, not long after I had been made a Senior Soldier at the tender age of 14, and had been invited back from the dizzy heights of bible class, I guess to be a good role model. I was rubbish at it.


Wednesday: Christmas Lunch Day and I shared a car on the way to Colchester with 4 of the loveliest people in the world...well on Wednesday anyway! Not really, they still are lovely, even on Friday.


It was a stunning day weather wise, crisp, frosty and sunny, Colchester is quite a nice town to wander round, and we did have a bit of a festive laugh. I can recommend the food in the The Lemon Tree, although we did question the wisdom of the Marquee extension during December. The waiter confessed to turning the heating off, when he returned to see how we were faring and we all had our coats on - not good!


Thursday : Using December at work to get prep done for 2008 events and plans, but forgetting that people I communicate with are really, really busy doing Christmas Stuff and don't want to know about Summer next year just at the moment, but that's fine - still smiling!


Thursday Evening was T and E's Party at the Pizza Hut - brilliant. They had both invited 5 friends each and 4 each turned up, so Thomas and his friends sat at one end of the table, Elyse and hers ( all boys) sat at the other, and Keith, Joe and I were in the middle.


Thomas and his mates were all over the place, chucking crayons about, crawling under the table, not eating their food, until prompted - they were SO into their game, they didn't even realise it had arrived. CHAOS.


Elyse and her friends, on the other hand, were like mini adults, eating with knives and forks, chatting calmly (I know..I couldn't believe it either), laughing politely at each others jokes hahahaha. You see, girls just do have such a civilising effect. She's been invited to Top Golf Party on Saturday - her friends are all members. BIZZARE!


Mind you, when the Party Bags were given out, they all got a bit random and scary, well Keith was scared, I'm a professional!


Joe then had to be back at school for The Christmas Event.


Friday : Another day in the office, but was also looking forward to a visit from the DCO from London South East, bringing SABAC resources and we WERE going out to lunch too. However, she phoned me this morning and cancelled as she's ill. Booo! I text my Boss, as he was going to come to lunch with us. The word 'phoned' in predictive text is 'sinned' so nearly sent - Denise Cooper has just sinned. ( She's a Captain in the Salvation Army - they don't sin!)


Friday Evening - I was really looking forward to visiting Chelmsford Kids Club as they were going to be watching Shrek the 3rd on their big screen, oh and to encourage, equip, empower and enable their team, but I had to come home first and collect my kids in the process as Keith wasn't sure what time he was going to be home.


The A12 was solid from junction 14, so I phoned and said we would be late, but turned off at juntion 17 hoping to wizz down to the Army and Navy Roundabout, but it too was solid, due to some silly traffic light arrangement at the roundabout,which certainly keeps Chelmsford free of traffic, but causes those who eventually get there an hour and a half after they set off, to just turn straight round and go home - nearly crying, but being brave 'cos the kids were in the car.


So, just over a week to go to the big day and it all still feels a bit far away and chaotic, quite a long way from the festive feeling I had this time last week.


Looking farward to a good day tomorrow with another lovely person and then Christmas With The Salvation Army at the Queens Theatre.


It's All About Jesus....it really is!


Saturday, 8 December 2007

Getting Festive.


Yes, it's happening, I can feel it and a number of things have conspired to ensure that the Christmas Spirit is now brave enough to lurk about around me.


1) Collecting while the YP Band were carolling on Wednesday. People were very receptive, singing along, kids were excited - in the band and in the houses - and the band played my fave carol, Hark The Herald Angels, and as it's number one in the Carol book I didn't have to wait long.

2) The Christmas Tree is now up at work in the foyer and the lovely smell that greats me each morning is very evocative.

3) On Friday, a beautiful Nativity scene was placed in pole position in the office. Very serene and peaceful.

4) Christmas Cards are arriving, reminding me that I really should write mine.

5) Thomas and Elyse are begging me to put up our tree, and normally we wait til after their birthday ( Monday) but I am considering it this afternoon after we've been to Tescos.

6) The prezzies are now consolidated - not wrapped, but at least all in the same very safe hiding place - still got some to get and waiting for others to arrive in the post though.


So yeah, the Hall's are getting decked for Christmas - wooohoooooo!

Monday, 3 December 2007

You Are Here!


Today, I had a wonderful day planned, visiting a colleague who has revitalised the Children's Ministry in her Corps. I was looking forward to encouraging and being encouraged.
My Sat Nav has broken, so I had to rely on the tried and tested method of map reading and planned to download instructions from AA Route Master - like in the old days, only the page was out of order.
Not too worry, because I thought I knew where I was going anyway, I set off on my journey having spoken to Sarah on the phone, advising her that I might be a bit late as I probably would get a bit lost. She suggested meeting at the SA Hall, as she doesn't drive and her navigating skills are poor ( her admission) and I knew roughly where the Hall was. Or so I thought.
So I travelled up the road I was sure I had seen a sign to Ware , only to find that I had either imagined it, or the sign had been moved - conspiracy theories sprang into my head but as I travelled further up the road, it became clear that I was in fact on the wrong road.
Turning off into a farm I checked the map - DUR! - and sure enough I was million miles from Ware. However, a small A road not far from where I was, promised to drop me off in Ware and I so I began the tedious journey behind tractors and Late Sunday Drivers to Ware.
I arrived half an hour late, about 11ish and went into the hall to find a Weight Watchers Class in full swing - hmmm, another conspiracy me thinks, but no Sarah.
I phoned her at home, phoned her mobile - no answer - text her and waited. At about 11: 25 my mobile rang. It was Sarah.
'Where are you?', she asked. 'I'm at the Hall', I replied. 'Oh so am I she', she responded.....' at Harlow'
Here's the thing - all I had was her postcode to punch into the Sat Nav and the 1st line of her address, but no town. She attends the corps at Ware, but lives in Harlow!
Big mistake - HUGE!!
Not only can I loose keys - I can now actually loose myself too - ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hallelujah or Hello?

As our Corps/ Church are now in a state of flux, having only one worship service on a Sunday at 2:30 in the afternoon, it's all been rather odd and I don't think we've cracked it at home at all.
If fact, ( see * 'The Problem Is') I don't think we have had a run of normality yet and with Christmas coming, I think it will be January before we recognise a routine.

The Sunday Programme is running nicely, folks are coming and going, some are using the opportunity to take stock and trying other things, but everyone is I think, on the whole, giving it a good old go.

The thing is, at home we really want Sunday to be different from other days so have said to the kids that the tele will not go on in the morning, we'll share a nice breakfast and or brunch depending on whether or not we go for the healthy walk we promised that we would try and do.

*The problem is that other Corps have their meetings and kids programmes in the morning and so, as I occaisionally need to visit them as part of my job, it means leaving the family to it and then bumping into them again either at home, halfway through FOJ ( Followers Of Jesus ) Club or in the afternoon service.

Anyway, all that aside, variety is the spice of life and ....all that.

So today our Corporate Worship was led by Majors Mike and Lynn Highton our Divisional Leaders and they were BUZZIN'. Mike was particularly in an energising kind of mood, but recognised early on that we, the congregation, needed to relax a bit, chill, let go etc

I get the feeling that we didn't ever really get that far and when a particularly challenging 'sound bite' ( I don't mean that, but you know what I mean) was issued, and there was no Halleujah in response, it was noted and I was sad. I'm not one for shouting Hallelujah, but I must admit, it has been a while since I heard one.

What I did hear though was a little boy shouting Hello a couple of times, which really made me want to laugh.

What does God want to hear us shout - an affirming exclaimation or a 'Hello, are you there?'OR a bit of both...and actually who does a yell of hallelujah affirm? Surely it's more than just a hear hear, or encore.

Where are all the people gone that shout Hallelujah or have they lost the fire that makes them want to verbally agree with an inspiring speaker delivering a word from the Lord and if so, then why?

Saturday, 24 November 2007

I've Found the Key!


Being a lady of a certain age ( i.e mature...in years), I am pretty sure that there is nothing I have now to learn about myself, the way I react to things, the things I'm good at and the things I fail miserably at and I'd like to focus of the last of those attributes in this honest and heartfelt blog.
Some of you may recall the Shower Quiz that takes place in the hall household most mornings when I - NEVER Keith - get into the shower and suddenly everybody needs to know where all their illusive stuff is and yells their requests through the door into my water filled ears for me to dicipher and then provide the correct answer.
I will digress here, because I don't want you to think for one minute that Keith never has a shower, far from it, he has a very relaxing shower without the anxiety of 'THE WRONG ANSWER', in fact the children will do anything to avoid asking Keith any favours or questions because he is consistant, or at least they assume that he will say no.
So if I am upstairs getting ready for example, and Keith is downstairs IN THE KITCHEN, generally a small person will come up the stairs and ask me what is for breakfast or can they have a drink etc.
I will exclaim that ' Daddy is downstairs, why are you asking me?' to which the response generally is, 'He's getting ready for work' I will then ask, 'What do you think I am doing then' and more often than not, the response is, ' I don't know'
I have asked him what it is he does that makes it so obvious to them that he is indeed getting ready, and why they can't seem to grasp that me drying my hair while applying make up and sometimes ironing a top at the at the same time, does not give them some kind of clue as to what I am doing - maybe I am doing too much at once and their little sensors become overloaded?


Which brings me to the point of my blog - doing too much at once!
One of my worst failings, and here is where the Shower Quiz Event is SO funny, is that I really can't very often remember where I have put something. I mislay stuff all the time and almost have a reputation for it. People give me things and ask if I will be ok with them and it's got to the point where I will say something like, 'You'd really better not give me that because I WILL loose it'
So it was with great fear and trepidation that I took responsibility of The Key To the YP Cupboard at the URC. There is only one key and Dawn has very capabily has held it for 4 weeks and she knew as she handed it over that it was in grave danger of getting lost, we even joked about it - haha!
I placed the key in a fail safe place, my uniform pocket, knowing that I would be wearing it again the following week and would not need the uniform at all in the intervening days. The key was safe - Ha HA!
When I went to give it to my dad, as I realised I would not be at the URC in time for the start of FOJ Club this week, confidently going to my pocket, can you imagine the horror, when I found that The Key was gone! Boo hoo!
Panic gripped me as I mentally retraced my steps; where had I been, where could it have fallen out? I did that odd thing where I kept going back to the pocket in the hope that the key would somehow reappear.
Another digression - I was walking into the town on Friday afternoon and saw a lady trip up, which was funny because, well it just is - she didn't fall over anything, but she did turn around and give the offending paving slab a good hard stare. Why?
Anyway, we had been to a party on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the dedication of Ellie and Daisie and I had got changed at the venue, so I phoned my sister in law to ask her if a key had been found - NO KEY!
The following morning, before confessing my misdemenour to Dawn, I checked in the car. It was such a thorough check that anyone walking past might have mistaken it for a drugs bust ( I've seen them on the tele!!) - the whole inside of the car was out on the pavement - NO KEY - or at least, not the one I was looking for!
Confession time, not only to Dawn, but to Ann and Richard and the Minister at the URC. She was out, so I left a message, in the slim hope that she would ring back and tell me not to worry, they actually have hundreds of keys because people loose them ALL the time.
I spent Friday in a state of real anxiety.
...and then, in the early hours of Saturday morning, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a vision of me slipping the key onto a keyring and shot out of bed and downstairs to my bunch of keys only to find................ that it wasn't there. ( yep, I felt just the same as I'm assuming you do now at this gripping point of the story - totally deflated)
I went to hang my keys on the magnetic key hook on the fridge door - they don't go there often and what do you think was hanging there?
( it was the key by the way)
Well I was jumping about, squealing as quietly as I could and whispering excitedly to Keith that I really must ring everyone and tell them, when he very gently reminded me that it was 1:45 in the morning and they probably wouldn't be that bothered. I fell asleep grinning like mad - which must have looked really very odd indeed, but I didn't care!
At some point during the week I had moved the key from the safety of my pocket onto an accessory made especially for looking after keys and I had NO recollection of doing it. It is at this point in the blog that I am considering deleting the whole thing because I do infact, sound like a mad person, or someone on the edge of dementia, which I may well be, but might not want the whole world to know about it just at the moment.
I think I do just do too many things at once and don't log what most of them are and I'm not being a martyr to that, it's just how my life is and why I am rubbish at being a guardian for things.
The minister at the URC did ring back and I told her the good news and she said that as I was so good at finding keys, perhaps I could find hers to the actual church - huh I really had her on a pedestal and now I know she's just a normal person!
I have since recalled the parable of the woman and the lost coin and can relate completely to her experience and have a tiny little inkling of how delighted God must be when someone who has been lost is found.


I've found the key!
PS I can't seem to make the spaces happen here, so that's why this posting is stripey :)

Monday, 5 November 2007

Oh WOW!


I am just googling for churches in our area who have a children's ministry of some sort - I googled 'Kids Worship - Romford' and the second entry is MY BLOG!!


I am VERY EXCITED!


Tuesday, 30 October 2007

What Does Hope Look Like?


Have a look at this website and tell me what you think.




What do you GET from this?
What do you understand about this?
What do you feel about this?
What can you see happening through this?
( think that's all the learning styles covered!)


If you have joined the Hope 08 Facebook Group, have you had a proper look at what you are aligning yourself to - no leaving the group now!


Romford Bloggers - anyone got a burning desire to turn what is essentially a vision into something more tangiable, doing more, doing it together with other churches and doing it in word and deed?


Other blogging friends and profile viewers - you know who you are- let me know what you think too PLEASE :)

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Why We Intentionally HAVE to minister to our Children

A while ago I wrote about how kids in our meetings are influenced by what they see going on around them, body language during sung worship, attitudes in prayer, attention paid to the preacher, listenening to a post mortem of the meeting in the car or around the dinner table. It all matters.

I admit to being fundamental about ministry to kids, I guess it's how I've ended up doing what I do, but the following is an exerpt from Nicky Cruz's book ON HOLY FIRE, which was a wake up call to me and, as I said in an email to someone earlier on this evening, 'it just means that the responsibility we have is even more awesome that we initially thought!'

I will recommend this book to anyone who might be looking for reassurance that they are not the only one who feels passionate about 'God's Holy Spirit unleashing his power in your life, your church, you neighbourhood', it's not just about ministry to kids, infact it hardly is at all.

Nicky had a vision and here it is:

God...has shown me a coming time when the Holy Spirit will move in the quietness of the night and stir up our children as never before, They'll be like the young boy Samuel in the bible who ran to Eli because he didn't know whose voice was speaking to him in the darkness....

....God is calling our children to make a difference. He knows that so many of their parents have not fully surrendered their lives, their time and their energy...to his control, so he's calling the children of our time to fill the gap. My message to the parents of ( and for me today, those who work with) these precious children is this:

Do not stop them. It is God himself calling them. It is his fire, his Holy Spirirt, prepareing the way for the greatest transformation ever to take place in the world.

If this vision is going to be fulfilled, we are going to have to invest more heavily and work more intentionally in discipling our kids. It's no good waiting until they are 'older' and can begin to reason it all out. I'm not talking about brainwashing, I'm talking about taking the discipleship to children seriously, listening to them, letting them teach us, giving them time to explore when it's good for them, base the programme around their needs rather than how well in fits into what we want to do.

If God is calling our children - raising up an army made of those who are still young - then who is going to teach them how to recognise his voice?

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Happy Birthday Keith.




Yep, the great man is another year older and he's kind of spreading out the celebrations.

Earlier this month he went, with Joe, to see Rush - a Canadian Rock Band of epic proportions. Well, actually there is three of them, but they are fairly legendary, if slightly cultish, in the world of Rock and special mention goes to their drummer Neil 'The Professor' Peart who's kit alone would stike terror into the heart many lesser drummers, of which there are, indeed, many -in our humble opinion.


They are pretty old now, but ...so is Keith (!) However the fact that Joe is now totally sold out on them says something about their communication skills...or maybe Joe has lousy taste in music. Nah!
Early in November he, Keith 'Grrr' Hall is off to the Motor Bike Show at the NEC, Birmingham with Heaven's Angels who are Dom ' Rookie' Willmore, Richard 'Motormouth' Borrett, Cedric 'Thunderbirds' Hills and Mike 'Speed Demon' Willmore, and so far has a whole £20 to spend - woohoo.

Today, we had a really great Brunch with Marks and Spencer food to begin the Birthday Day and it's at this point that I will welcome you to the world of mealtimes at the Hall House - Andy, if you're out there, you might need some protective clothing, it gets a bit random!


Whatever I cook and however lovingly I have prepared something, there is always someone who will, figuratively speaking, turn up their nose, and while I am proud to have bought up children who know their own mind and would say NO loudly to anyone who tried to get them into a car, a mealtime evaluation during the actual meal is sometimes hard to bear and I don't think it will be too long before I slide under the table never to return.


So this morning out table was groaning under the weight of Croissants made with real french butter, raspberries picked from the end of the rainbow,eggs especially manufactured to reduce colesterol, orange juice NOT from pulp, sausages subtely spiced with ...spice, bacon from a pig and mushrooms plus a variety of other accompaniments and specially lightly boiled egg for Thomas who is not keen on what is essentially a fry up, whatever fancy language you might choose to employ and so it started.


'Oh you should have done tomatoes'....'Where are the baked beans?'...'A jug of iced water would have been nice' and the piece the resistance, 'What about a chimpanzee on a unicycle?'


I have pinched myself repeately but I am awake.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Proper Second Blog of the Day

Ohh I am on a roll today.

I can see that there might be some confusion about my previous posting, in that it was essentially the first blog of the day today, but I began the posting prior to that in draft yesterday, posting it today, so TECHNICALLY it was posted today, even though it has Thursdays date on it!

Also, I have added a page element called Blogs I have Not Yet Written so that I don't forget to follow up some of these little seeds that have been sown over the last couple of postings.

And FINALLY, we did visit the babies today and I have to report that they are SO lazy, they even cry and drink their milk with their eyes closed.

Seriously though and what IS incredible is that if eveything had gone to plan, they still wouldn't actually be born yet!!

WOW

Second Blog of the Day

( Hah, the typo for this title made it read Second Blob of the Day, but that didn't make sence at all, so I've corrected it. However as I have just found out that A BLOB is a collection of binary data stored as a single entity in database management systems and they are used primarily to hold objects such as images, videos, sounds, documents, etc I guess it might have been relevant to somebody.....anybody?)


Here's a BLOB anyway.




Sex sells and selling sex has come to Romford. Just when you thought that the town centre really could stoop no lower,it seems we are going to be hosting a massive Sex Shop, descreetly named Night Thoughts ( nice, thanks for that) opposite WH Smith for goodness sake, in the shop that used to be ....shock horror....Littlewoods! (Mr Littlewood would be turning in his grave, if he was dead!)


Now I could rant and I guess people have, and I also guess that there are pros and cons to this that I haven't really had time to think through, but all I want to say today is that these guys really know how to sell the concept.


On the way into the Liberty Shopping Mall ( no longer just an arcade, because it now has LUSH) every column holding up the offices above the shops has a yellow and purple banner yelling out that Night Thoughts is coming. What has made me think though, is their tag line which is something like,

'Exclusively for the discerning man or woman of any persuasion'

So essentially ....for everyone (over 18 I guess)!

My relatively unimportant question, among the many questions that I assume have already been asked about this venture is how can it be exclusive if it's for everyone?

Ooooh another delicious seed for a new blog later on. Hold me accountable PLEASE!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

More OF Less.

Firstly, the title of this blog was meant to be More OR Less, but a typo has led to the title it now has and I think it's important, but I dont know why yet, so fasten your seatbelts and join me for a ride.
Here's a round up of stuff that's been happening in my world lately and hopefully it will give me some insight as to why I might be feeling like I do and what might be the next thing I need to think about/do/ react to/ instigate etc.

Firstly,I haven't been well and it's not really so as you'd notice, but I have found the effort of feeling less that 100% really irritating - or it could just be the onset of old age.I have been even less diligent around the house than normal because I've felt tired. I have been more snappy and less tolerant with the people I love. I have been wondering why people seem to make so much fuss about such daft things.

Those proof readers amongst you will notice that I have used firstly twice - which isn't a typo, it's to high light a thing that has quite literally driven me nuts lately, which came to a head only yesterday when we went on a family day out to Eagle Heights in Kent.

A really good afternoon out, even though it was very cold.

One of the many things that made it good was the number of shows programmed in during the day - falconry, reptiles, mammals etc, . The keepers were great and really knew their stuff, but we soon got to realise that there were a number of words they used INCESSANTLY, which were, 'Basically' , 'Before we start' and 'Firstly', even when we had quite obviously moved on to the second point.

For example, 'Welcome to the Reptile show and before we start ( BEFORE WE START ??) we are going to show you Billy the Boa'

Now this might have been a ploy to make us get excited about what was going to happen after we start, but in all honesty I felt sorry for Billy who was great entertainment, but was somehow in the overture rather than the main event.....not The Main Event, but hey, there's a thought for next time.

'Firstly, we are going to basically tell you about Billy and then we are going to bring him round for you to touch' Great - we love touching snakes...no really we DO!

'Ok so, firstly, before we start ( again) can I say that basically Billy....blah blah...' I lost the plot at that point.

So, after the Main Event, I had a day off which was really tough, as my brain was in complete overdrive so I didn't really benefit, which might be why I still feel odd. However the next day I visited a corps who were hosting an Ultimate Church Visit - open house at the Salvation Army for local schools. They had done a tremendous job in advertising and contacting schools and for three days the hall was packed with children learning about the Who,Where, What, Why and When of the Salvation Army.

I was involved with the History Zone and one group finished early, so I took them to look at the crest on the lecturn. There were all standing on the area in front of it which, for those not familiar with a Salvation Army Hall, is our formal place of prayer. I asked the children to step off and explained what it was and what we did there and they ( 12 of then) asked if they could pray.So I said yes, and it was amazing.They were reciting their school prayer, talking about pets and releatives who had died etc. The teacher came over to find out what was happening and she was really cool about it, which was a relief.

I loved that!

Our Corps are now out of our building and sharing the URC just round the corner and we have had a good old explore and it really is a sensational building - lots of places for the kids to run around and get lost prior to FOJ club!

Last Sunday was our first 'stand alone ' day, but as I had already driven 80 miles and run a Fun Morning at Colchester, I really couldn't settle to the new regime. There were also lots of people away on holiday, so it seemed really empty, but hey, the Holy Spirit doesn't head count and I felt really blessed towards the end of the service - it's going to be OK, it really is.

The other reason I may have been a bit edgy was that I felt quite tired after spending an amazing day with our friends Keith and Fiona. I think the last time we had quality time with them was when we went to America with them 18 months ago ( wow, time really does fly), so it was a well overdue event and we celebrated in style.

We went to watch the Mighty Arsenal play Bolton and it was my first trip to the Emirates Stadium. Initially I was underwhelmed to be honest, I mean it was exciting but I couldn't initally see how we would get in, which somehow seemed really important at the time. It was a bit like an ivory tower.
Anyway, once we were in, I have to say that for a place, it is cool, overwhelmingly huge and very RED! By the second half I had found my Football Voice - it's been longer than I can remember since I last went to a match, so I was initially a little shy (!) - and Arsenal won - yeay!
We then went back to their house, ate a massive Indian take away and watched the Rugby, which doesn't really come close to explaining why it was a good day - it just WAS!

UP to date, I am looking forward to spending another day with Joe, Elyse and Thomas today, probably shopping , but certainly visiting my sis on law and her baby twins who are still so tiny and I haven't yet seen both of them awake yet - maybe today??

We went to see Ratatouille yesterday - jury is out as far as I'm concerned, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.

So - there you go.

Having re read blog this for posting I notice that I have begun to use the word INITIALLY fairly often, which goes to show that vocabulary can be catching and illustrates a point Billy Connelly used to make in his show, that the more you take the mickey out of somebody for doing a certain thing, the more likely you are to begin doing that very thing yourself - so be warned.

As far as the title goes, I'm no nearer to discovering why it's important, but it might be the seed for a new blog at some point - even if it's only to stop Kirsty going mad at me about not blogging.

Monday, 8 October 2007

It's GONE!


The Main Event is over, but as always, as with any event, it has kick started a whole bunch of other things and so I guess that the results, good and maybe, for some, not so good, will live on through challenged and changed people.


I have been rummaging through my 'people who blog' list and have caught a glimpse of their Main Event experiences, so thanks for that.


My Main Event was with the LNE children and the Kids Klub Team from Blackheath Corps together with some willing and relentless 'volunteers' from the division and a super Sound Tech called Andy.


I found myself in the role of resourcer, photographer and adminstrator for the Kids Venue, which, even though I had planned it that way - why invite a team of 12 and still expect to be doing it all - was difficult to start with, as I'm normally the up front person, but, as with Sarah, God is changing ME too.


My Closer Moments?

Seeing children on a journey over the three sessions.

Seeing kids respond.

Witnessing kids get saved - a real answer to prayer in one case!

Praying with my daughter and God giving me the words to say - it was intense.

Sharing a prayer with a member of the team and for the first time, hearing speaking in tongues - it was so beautiful.

Seeing God honour the plans that I really believe he had for the event, even though there have been times of real frustration and heartsearching during the months of planning.

Seeing Matt Leeder still alive at the end of the weekend - a star!


My Far Away Moments?

Joe not wanting to come on Sunday.

Seeing some kids falling through a gap.

Now this minute, feeling very under attack and focussing on my far away moments.


Tribute, thanks and biggest love to Keith and my kids for releasing me to do....what I do !

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

It's Getting Closer!





Well, it's nearly here - our divisional MAIN EVENT.

Beautiful venue at Cressing Temple Braintree, the promise of great weather, a programme full of variety for ALL the family.

Check out the website http://www.themainevent.me.uk/ for a final update on guests and programme.


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

I love LAUGHING

Today, I really laughed....loads, and it has occured to me that I haven't laughed like that in ages, which is way too long.

Even though I feel a bit poorly, and even though I was working, there were some truely priceless and unexpected moments when I actually cried because I was laughing SO much.

Laughing is good and I must do it more often.

Friday, 21 September 2007

The Wait Is Over!

Here are my new little nieces Ellie ( in the pink hat) and Daisie ( in the yellow hat).

If you have Facebook and are a friend of Jon you can check out some more pics there.

My other niece Libbie was very excited on the way to the hospital last night to visit. We had stopped at a red traffic light and she said,'Oh come on, we have to get there!' - she's 3. I had to explain that unless a baby was being born in the car, which it wasn't, we really did have to pay attention to the rules of the road! She also suggested driving over the roundabout rather than round it - Jon DON'T EVER let her learn how to drive - she's a speed demon!

So it was all very surreal when we arrived, Libbie was very full of beans, but Jon and Tracy were exhausted and Ellie and Daisie was just getting used to being out really.

They are tiny and pink, very calm and quiet and move in slow motion, at the moment. I guess gravity is a thing they are having to get used to.

Anyway, they are here and all is well.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

So...yeah...


Well it's been a while and trust me, I can't think for the life of me why.


Of course I have the usual excuse of 'being busy', which I have been, so it's not really an excuse - it's true.


Tomorrow, or even later today will be an opportunity for a really great blog about my family and I will post pictures and everything, but today at this moment in time, it's a normal working, waiting kind of day.
By the way, the picture is of a sculpture by Nnamdi Okonkwo of Orem, Utah and portrays the emotions associated with waiting. The figures do not represent particular people, but humanity. The artist chose women because he likes the fluid lines and the simple, elegant shapes embodied in the female form. In the arrangement of these large, round shapes he finds his ideal of order, balance and beauty.
Sorry ....'women, fluid lines, simple elegant shapes'...ok good so far.....'large round shapes'..oh no, I've gone right off Mr Okonkwo of Utah!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Mirror, mirror....


So Graham and the band did the biz, the theatre was very nearly full, so God honoured the organisers prayers - thanks Fiona, Neil and Ian, have 10 years off to recover!


The finale was Shine Jesus Shine - GK called in the Shiny Song and said that he wouldn't get out of the theatre alive unless we sang it. I have to disagree there as I think we, as a church have overdone this song and so my inital reaction was- OH no - very similar to my reaction when 'I'll Go In The Strength Of The Lord' is announced as a final song. It's the tunes really.


The words however are a challenge and, looking deep, maybe that's why I dread these songs. and The Shiny Song gets me everytime...mirrored here may OUR lives tell YOUR story.


Sometimes I don't like what I 'see' in the mirror.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Out of The Ordinary

See : Graham Kendrick and his band!

When : THIS Sunday Evening.

Time : 7pm

Venue : The Queens Theatre Hornchurch

Ticket Price : £9 From the Box Office 01708443333

http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/

See you there!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Frantic!




As expected, the post holiday anticlimax was indeed painful and frustrating.

I worked from home and grateful though I am to my line managers for encouraging this practise from time to time...well those of you who have children and have anything purposeful to do during a day when they are being themselves, will recognise how hard this can actually be.

I had to hit the office at one point though and bought Thomas and Elyse with me and they promised to be good, which I guess they were for a while......Elwyn Harries, line manager, DDE , magician and all round decent bloke got NO work done after the Elastic Band Trick. It occured to me as people began to make their excuses to leave the office...I have to go to Clacton...I have to get my tyre sorted out....and I have to go to a funeral ...that maybe it wasn't the best idea I'd ever had.
Thank you to the great folks that I work with!
Visiting holiday clubs wasn't too bad and I have to say big hurrah to all the corps in our division who did go the extra mile this Summer, and Thomas and Elyse were fairly objective in their feedback - Even though we have sung and danced it, stuck and glued it, and heard it all before....it was good!
The culmination of this fractured week after a 21st birthday party on the Friday Evening, was a fairly busy weekend, running the Children's programme at a Corps retreat on Saturday and leading the YP Annual meeting at another Corps on Sunday ...where the enemy really tried to distract me.
Missing resources, no power for the laptop, mislaid flash disk and a sudden realisation that I didn't know where my purse was - all with about 15 mins to go before the first song.

However, as the meeting was based on Ephesians 6 v 10- 21, The Whole Armour of God, I thought I'd better listen to what I had prepared, stand firm and put the armour on.

The Songsters ( Senior Choir) sang 'Don't Despair', someone had bought a flash disk along, my purse was in my bag ALL the time and in the end, we only needed one responsive resource.


God is good, and as ever, closer than we think.

Thank you Nick and Ian for retracing my steps to see if I'd dropped my purse on the way to the Corps, God will reveal to you at some point why that had to happen.
Thank you Keith for your patience and support and I WILL plan more carefully in future X
PS Question of the Day, asked in all honesty and with complete conviction by a 7 year old:
'Can you speak to God on MSN?'
Answers in a text box please.







Sunday, 26 August 2007

Pay It Forward...the noo!

Having read Ann and Richard's holiday shinnanigans ( see side panel for links) I feel a fraud when I think of what made me cry while we were away.

Bonnie Scotland was less than bonnie when we arrived at Glen Nevis Camping and Caravan Park - it had been raining solidily for 3 weeks and the pitch we had been given was boggy in places. Neighbours advised us of the best place in the quicksand to pitch and soon we were gazing proudly at our very brightly coloured trailer tent - looking slightly out of place in amongst the muted greens and blues of our neighbours, but we had arrived. However, day one was not yet over and already I had half a black bag of washing..and it was still raining. In fact it hardly stopped for the next 24 hours and by the time we were making our way out for day 2 I had a full bag of washing, had argued with Thomas ( a misunderstanding, but horrible none the less) and then I began to cry.

The ground keepers at the site agreed that we were in an awful position and said they would return in the afternoon and help us move to a more suitable pitch, so off we went to explore Fort William in the rain.

The groundsmen could not have been more helpful, but here's where the Pay It Forward starts. A family were watching the goings on and the dad ( Andrew) came over and asked if the kids wanted to hang out in their tent with his kids. All my Safe and Sound antennae were twanging like mad, but the kids were getting soaked and we could see them all the time so off they went. It's kind of different when you go camping - everyone really mucks in.

That wasn't all - he then came over to help, plyed us with coffee, invited Joe in to watch a dvd on their PSP and helped some more. Needless to say we remained friends for the rest of the week.

Later, through the rain, the sun came out and what was plastered over the hills behind the site - a rainbow, we could even see the end of it!
Then, on the Monday a guy arrived on site with three children and was having a nightmare putting up his tent.I felt bad just sitting and watching him, but Keith and Joe had gone off for a bike ride,and knowing my tent putting up skills are pretty lame went to offer them anyway. He declined, so I offered to make him a drink, which he also declined, but I had payed it forward and set the tone for what was to become another great friendship for the duration.
HowALL the kids ended up in our tent most evenings eludes me somewhat, but it was great.

Scotland is a land born out of conflict. It's very existance is down to some rather violent volcanic eruptions and sliding together of fault lines pushing up random mountains ranges, with glens and lochs filled with melt water from the ice age! Fighting for political independance, the Scots fiercely mark out that they are Scottish in anyway that they can: The National Trust, SCOTLAND; The Daily Mail SCOTLAND in fact any daily paper SCOTLAND.

The Highlands are littered with Battle Sites, we visited Culloden and were embarrased to be on the side of the percieved baddies. We drove through Glenshiels -site of another Jacobite uprising. We read of the Clan Wars and I could see how people would be prepared to die for a patch of the beautiful if unforgiving land.



But we also visited what has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world - Loch Sheil at Glenfinnan. Historically important as it is said that Bonnie Prince Charlie landed there from France to raise his fathers standard and begin the Jacobite Uprising, and it also has the viaduct used in the filming of Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets but all that aside, stunning anyway.
While we were there we must have taken about 20 photos and looking at them the sky is different on each one, the shadows on the mountains are different and ripples on the loch are different and we were only there about half an hour.

Was this Loch and the surrounding hills the result of some random clashing of tectonic plates or did God think long and hard about placing this hill here and that rock there and know that when the sun shines on it from any angle it could, if you were in the right frame of mind, break your heart?
I don't know, but I do know that I was reminded that day that God NEVER changes, no matter how much the landscape appears to and wondered how someone so constant could create a world so amazingly diverse, so awesomly beautiful...yes and sometimes so randomly ugly; why slugs, I just don't get it?
We returned to Glenfinnan later that week for their Highland Games, the sky was grey, the rain fell in buckets, but still folks in kilts tossed cabers, swung hammers, danced the Highland Fling and piped their hearts out and there is nothing quite a stirring as the drone and skirl of the bagpipe on the banks of a Loch. I cried again.
We also visited Fingal's Cave on the Island of Staffa, just off Mull. Another jaw dropper, but be warned, there are no loos on Staffa, you can just about hold on to the Island as you creep around on million year old basalt paving slabs!
The only mountains I have now and ones made out of clothes to be ironed - ho hum, home sweet home.


Wednesday, 8 August 2007

These are TWO of ....


Today I had the offer of a pot of Green and Blacks Chocolate Ice Cream , which I didn't turn down, and OH MY WORD it was truely divine.


Also, I have rediscovered Diva by Annie Lennox. A seriously timeless album, many of the tunes evoking memories of those early heady days after Joe was born and the world was good, or at least more peaceful that it seems to be these days.


If music can be delicious, then this collection of tunes totally IS!


'Precious Little Angel', 'Walking on Broken Glass' and the uplifing, if oddly disturbing 'COLD'.


Chocolate and music, could there be a better combination, do you think?


( Tom and Jerry is NOT allowed!)



Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Invisible or Transparent.


This snappy title has been rolling around in my head for a while when our meetings were about Faith. AM Unbelief and PM Exposure.


My morning thought was about a quote which suggested something along the lines of - the more doubts we have, the deeper our faith is, the less we doubt the shallower our faith is. I was distracted by that for a moment.I get the concept, but was prompted to to think about friends who have the gift of faith and just don't doubt for a moment. Some of them have pretty deep faith. I guess there is always an exception.


Following this up with a chat with one or two people I was challenged to consider that faith, or the appearance of it could sometimes be considered as a kind of lacking of spiritual responsibility. Does that way we attribute various things - inspiration, opportunities etc to God equate to us shirking some kind of responsibilty towards those 'things'

OR maybe it's easier to believe than doubt, because doubting means thinking and thinking means looking inside ourselves, dregging up stuff that just isn't pretty. Thinking means finding the time to explore the thoughts and sometimes time to do that is hard to come by. Thinking and doubting also means spending quality time with God....um...!



Does than mean that belief is the easy option then?- did the father of the possessed boy ( Mark 9 v 24))say 'Help my unbelief ' because he wanted an easier life? Did he somehow think it would be the right thing to say to make Jesus more likely to heal his son, particularly as Jesus has just seemed to have dispaired of the unbelief of the 'generation' ( v 19)? How different was his life and how much deeper was his faith after he witnesed a miracle...and would it be easier to believe after seeing something incredible like that.

Just musings you understand.

However the evening meeting prompted the blog title, as we were thinking about having our faith/motivation/everything exposed before God, to be totally transparent.


I have to admit to sometimes feeling like a complete fraud. I feel totally transparent and exposed and assume that everyone else knows more than I do, has more experience than me, is better qualified ( NOT hard!) and can really see me for what I am. Now it might just be my hormones that cause this occasional paranoia and maybe it's God's way , if He works like this, of keeping me humble, but it's jolly uncomfortable


I once had a friend who did really well in her her job and got promoted really fast and we all congratulated her. 'How did you manage in the interview?' we asked. Her response I BLUFFED!!


Sometimes I feel like I'm bluffing!


Of course, there is the 'transparent' that means we are totally honest, our motives are pure and we have left a trail of accountability for all to see. The problem here is that even if WE think we are like that, we will always be judged by other people's standards and motives will always be questioned.

Sorry this is a bit of a gloomy blog, and I haven't been 'misunderstood' lately, that I'm aware of, to promp this angst, it's just how I feel.

Then I read Cedric's blog about the beauitiful and transparent building that is IHQ ( The Salvation Army's International Headquarters)

A building that can be seen into and out of but how much impact does what goes on there have on the people that walk past it everyday? Might it just as well be INVISIBLE?
Might I just as well be invisible? Might you?
There might be a part two to this at some point as this still feels unfinished and illusive, but I was fed up of it being in my draft box!





Friday, 27 July 2007

For Whom the Bells Toll!


Summer Holidays wouldn't be complete without ice cream vans plying their trade and on the whole, I'm partial to a Mr Whippy, but on my terms!

So when the jingly bells echo down our road at the most inconvenient time - just before tea time, during tea time or when I have no money to hand out, it stikes fear into my heart.

It's not really the Ice Cream Man's fault, it's just that saying 'Not Today' to the children isn't as easy as just saying no because alongside the - IT'S NOT FAIR...YOU PROMISED ( I NEVER promise, I know what I'm like!) my children have this uncanny nack of being able to recite every time when I have done them out of an ice cream.

This is despite the fact that we have some really yummy cartons of the stuff in the freezer which they can have whenever they like - within reason of course, unless thay have lain a MASSIVE guilt trip on me about some other neglectful misdemenour.

The thing is, I like to be able to choose when I buy ice cream , in the same way that I like to choose what company to buy my gas and electricity, home insurance, car insurance, Accident Protection Insurance from.

That's all folks!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Vaaay - caaay - shun!!!

So, the School Holidays are upon us, or me rather, and at this moment in time, I feel the weight of them bearing down on me.


I really messed in my School Holiday Planning this year, writing in my diary that the Easter ones finished earlier that they actually did and that the Summer ones started later that they actually do. According to me, my kids don't break up 'til next Friday.


Anyway, Keith and I have done some amazing team work planning which means that our kids don't have to go and assist the roofers at school for the next week, which is good because it's probably against the law anyway and I really can't see what any learning outcomes might be...actually there's possibly loads to be honest but....nah!


I guess for any working mum that isn't a teacher and actually for working mums who are teachers (as they still have to work in the holidays) as the children run out of school full of plans for bike rides and swimming, all day long footy tournaments and picnics, our hearts sink as we (I) realise that I'm going to have to still say no sometimes, so what makes the holidays different to any other day?

Stop snivelling and pull yourself together - they'll survive!

Why?


I will over compensate, I guess, and give them some of the most fun filled, adventure packed moments they have ever shaken a stick at and do you know what?

Apart from getting a whole bunch of fulfilment from shaking a stick,they will still want to be in front of the tele in time for High School Musical 2 every time it is shown.

Mr Disney, I salute you!





http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/originalmovies/highschoolmusical2/

Disney Channel from Friday 17th August!!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Very Interesting.


To save you having to do this experiment at home, you should know that a Toffee Hoops Crunch Corner, when droppped from about 70 cms ( roughly half the height of a Hall 8 year old - small prize for the first person to correctly guess which one!) creates an abstract splatter pattern spreading over an area of about 3 mtrs by 1 mtr.


The toffee hoops highlight the yoghurty splat in a compelling way, suggesting that if you joined the dots the resulting picture would be... well...very interesting.


The vanilla smell lingers for some time afterwards even when you have used Vanish Carpet Stain Remover.
I await your thanks!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

You Saw Me Before I Was Born.


Well, I think it's time to share with all the world (!) the amazing and exciting news that my brother and his wife are expecting identical twins. We know what sex they are going to be too, but I'm not gonna blog that!
Tracy is now 24 weeks into this marathon and apart from one blip last week is doing really well. She has to rest now, which is by far and away the toughest part of being pregnant.
The pregnancy has been incredibly fragile and if the babies had not separated when they did, they could have been co-joined ( see diagram c above). They are highly dependant on one another even though they are two separate little things and only one ounce in weight difference - , in fact they only weigh about a pound each anyway - isn't technology amazing?


When our twins were born there was a pound between them, but they are boy and girl so fairly easy to tell apart although some people still got confused in the early days, ' How do you tell them apart when they are in the bath?' 'OOhh umm...you've got me there' and 'Which one is the girl?' 'The one in the dress!' - and no, it wasn't Keith!!


So my brother is trying to get his head round the fact that the Doctor has told him, ' Mr Fuller ( cos that's his name) these babies are so identical that you essentially have one baby.......only twice!' Apparently even their fingerprints could be the same.
Anyway they have had their photos taken quite a few times now and most everybody who's anybody will have seen them before they are born, but what's amazing is that only God will have a specific plan for each baby as an individual.


I am really excited and terrified at the same time! Please, if you do, pray for Jon, Tracy and Libbie and the two little shadows with a flashing sparks of life, that have so much potential.


Thanks


Will keep you posted :)

Friday, 29 June 2007

Thinking Conceptually

QUIZ SHOWER.

The contestant has to advise the quizmasters that she/he will be having a shower and then anticipate a number of questions that will be asked, at random, through the bathroom door while the contestant is actually having a shower.

1) Where is my ........?
If you can correctly grasp what....is and know where it is just off the top of your head, bonus points can be earned here!

2)Have you seen a pencil?
Bonis points for an answer that isn't dripping with sarcasm.

3)Can I use the loo?

4) Is my watch in there?

5) Mum, I still can't find my.......
More of a comment that a question, but still a test none the less.

6)How do you spell Rapunzel?

7) Bye I'm going, love you!
Again another comment, but the trick here is to discren that it isn't just another question and respond with ' LOVE YOU TOO' rather than ' OH WHAT IS IT NOW!!!'

8) Something Thomas says.
Even face to face in the morning is tough for Thomas.

9) Silence
The trick here is not to worry that something has gone wrong, and just carry on with the shower. If you get out at this point to find out what is happeneing, you've lost, because they'll all be fine!

10) Can I adopt a dophin?.


Another good game is: Get the contestant to sit in front of a mirror and begin drying their hair. The quizmasters rush in and jump around on the bed asking questions, which is a sneaky trick and you really have to focus here, so that later they absolutely CANNOT invoke ' YOU PROMISED!' against you.

An adaptation of this game is where the contestant has to work out what the quizmasters are saying by lip-reading backwards in the mirror.
Turning the hair dryer off at this point is a sign of weakness and leads to a bad hair day and then EVERYONE SUFFERS!!

Would this be funnier if it weren't true?

Thursday, 28 June 2007

When is a dustbin not a dustbin?

Have you ever wondered what a dustbin might do when it's bored of sitting in your back yard being a dustbin? Well I haven't either until one came bouncing along the A406 towards me this morning. I have to admit, the last thing I thought was - 'Ah, so THAT'S what they get up to!'

How it didn't hit me, I do not know, but it clipped the guy beside me and caused a whole bunch of chaos behind.

Two cars in front of me was an open backed lorry with all kinds of stuff hanging off it, and the guy beside me put on a spurt of speed to catch up and force it into a layby. I didn't look after that!

Iwas also abused by guesture and word on the way home..... for sticking to the speed limit - ho hum!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Shock Horror....Smile!

So, that's TWO photos courtesy of the Ministry of Transport in TWO months ; this time, 51 mph in a 40 mph zone approaching the roundabout on the A127 that used to be called The Five Bells, so take care there!

I am actually quite nervous now and have been advised that I am now in the ZERO tolerance zone - even 1mph over a limit with evidence to prove it and I think it's a hanging offence!

GULP!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

It Does What It Says On The Tin.

KIDS ALIVE OUTSIDE

There were Kids, they were Alive ( and continued to be until home time, after that, I have no further knowledge, but assume all is well) and they were Outside - job done!



It rained, but not as heavily as the great storm of numpty nump, so we still have a legend to beat, but it was an awesome weekend.



Kids pushing the boundaries both physically and spiritually, some amazing challenges and activities, great teaching, stupendous worship ( well, I enjoyed it!), more than enough food ( phew), cooks who had it all under control, tuck to die for ( and smartly bagged too) great sharing with kids and adults alike and a bit of a tan to top it all off, but not quite dark enough to hide the MASSIVE bruise I sustained when falling out of a canoe in inappropriate attire.You should really read the kit list and follow the instructions the DCO gives you and remember that the activities are primarily for the children!



We have room for 80 kids, so friends in London North East - look out for the publicity for next year's event - it's already provisionally booked for the 20 - 22nd June 2008.


Friday, 15 June 2007

The Weather....and 53 kids going camping!


This is the weather forecast for the weekend. Heavy showers!!
So, at least we'll have a new wet camp tale to tell by Monday, the old one has become legendary and it's time to get real!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

FACEBOOK


So, facebook is the new 'thing' and Keith's all depressed, 'cos he got into blogging to join in and now everyone's moved on. He's considering deleting his blog! I did tell him that everyone in the world could read it, not just friends, but even that didn't help. SO if you don't want Keith to deleted his blog, PLEASE comment on it :)


Facebook though - wow, it's taking over the world, and I was filling in my 'details' thinking, I'm really too old to be doing this you know, I don't think anyone else as old as me would be on here, when I received a hello from an old friend - possibly older than me, certainly old by facebook standards but I'm using the word to mean a friend from 'way back when'.


So there you go, Facebook works, but why and how?
I looked up some stuff on google (http://eduspaces.net/csessums/weblog/9412.html) and there was a study about a 14 year old girl doing badly at school, but spending a lot of time on Facebook,and Dr CD Sessums finds as follows:
It seems clear that the online virtual community fills, to some extent, a void in her face-to-face community, satisfying some pressing need.
If you were to randomly poll several hundred teenagers and ask them if they find school boring, I’m willing to bet an overwhelming majority would respond “yes, and how!” Online communities offer a range of possible friendships, cliques, and means to experiment in ways that face-to-face communities cannot.

One could argue that many parents have trouble responding to the identity development of their children and become disengaged and disconnected from the thoughts and feelings of their offspring. Clearly if parents and schools are not offering meaningful forms of identity formation (i.e., membership) and negotiability then children will likely seek communities and economies of meaning outside of it.

VERY interesting!


Elyse got a DS for Christmas and to add a 'fun for all the family' factor we bought the Brain Training pack. My brain age has gone from 75 -28 and hovered places inbetween depending how tired or stressed I'm feeling, but one of the cute things about the game is that it gives you handy hints on how to improve your brain activity 'in the real world'.

One of the tips? Get out and talk to people!

As well as being a good way to maintain relationships, it also exercises your prefrontal cortex.

So, I have been sucked into the world of Facebook, but I think I prefer to blog - I'm just a gobby girl.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

ENERGISE!

So what?

· God is our strength – Here’s a radical “so what?” With the Spirit of God inside, you can stop praying prayers like, “God, please give me strength.” The fact is, he is your strength. Your prayers can move toward allowing his strength to transform you. (Strength is just an example here – this also applies to wisdom, peace, joy, etc.)

· Up close and personal – God is not a distant God. His spirit is working within you. Paul suggests this is a down payment on the eternity to come, but it also shows that God values intimate relationship over rules or religion.

· Expect God to work in you – You are “God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works ….” (Ephesians 2:10a NIV) Don’t hope that he’s at work in you; expect him to work in you, transforming you into a reflection of Christ. Ask God where he’s working in you, and then expect him to show you.

From todays Purpose Driven Reading - bold is mine, seems significant?!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Sound ....of Silence

I know that to be found blogging on a Saturday might mark me out as some sad sack, but listen..........the sound of nature( or at least domestic noises that aren't coming from my house anyway)

After an eclectic week balancing going to work with actually being at home most of the week, I have a hour of solitude, while Keith has taken our progeny to the driving range - golf, not cars.

I imagine they will have a great time, but the reality is that there might be lots of rowing and misunderstanding going on and two enranged 8 years olds swinging golf clubs in anger against a dad who is laughing and a big bro. who is cringing with embarassment could get messy.

The last words I heard my daughter say as they all trailed out of the front door were something like ' It's not a competition is it, I mean it's just to get better isn't it?' and that would not have been for her benefit, she would have been announcing it to her brothers just in case they thought someone was going to be a 'winner'. Anyway, I'm not there to see it so... tra la!



So, I have the luxury of flicking though the Daily Mail that I bought in Tescos this morning and I have to say, it's a riviting read.


Damien Hirst has unvieled his latest creation called FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, a platinum cast of some skull he bought from a taxidermists and then encrusted in 8,601 flawless, ethically sourced diamonds - so it's fair trade too. He said' I was slightly worried that we would end up with an Ali G ring. You want it to be flawless,like a diamond'

Why the title though? There is actually no mention of that in the article.

Maybe the answer lies in another quote if his, 'I hope it makes the people who see it feel good, that it's uplifting, that it takes their breath away'

Read into that what you will - rest assured I'm going to be having some very sparkley nightmares.


It seems that the RSPB are banning the use of the word cock to describe a male bird for fear of offending some of their more 'delicate subscibers' and the Scout's Forest Chapel has been torn down after 70 years because it might offend non Christians. Now that headline was carefully thought out because it is supposed to entice the reader into thinking that a bunch of thugs had gone in and desicrated it. It was actually demolished properly and in it's place - a camp fire setting. I'm not saying it's right, but to sensationalise it really isn't ( I know, buy a better paper than the MAIL for proper news)


Oh, what IS the world coming to?


And then there's Big Brother and a very intersting article by an undercover reporter who nearly made the final cut as a housemate.If what she writes is to be believed then what a twisted and abusive production team runs THAT show, like you hadn't realised already. Goodness I thought my last posting was dark and murky, but they take the biscuit ( whatever that means)


Finally, further to becoming a CRIM for doing 57 mph in a 40 mph zone ( road works on the A13, not a residential area, but it's still wrong so I am sorry!) I had to get my picture taken for a new driving licence, as the old paper one went into the washing machine ( not at the same time as my phone I hasten to add!) and actually - it's not half bad!!

The young lady in the booth before me was getting one done for her passport - I knew this because her flustered dad was saying, 'Oh come on, it's only for your passport' and she was on her final chance to get it right before having to pay another £3.50. I helpfully said,'Well she will have it for 10 years' and from behind the curtain a hand extended with a thumbs up. We all laughed hahahahahahaha!


Yep....still quiet... aahh lovely :)

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Control and....forgiveness - AGAIN!


Disclaimer:
To my lovely friends who ‘read between the lines’ I’m ok, this has been helpful.
To my lovely friends, and the rest of the world who I don’t know, that this might help come to some conclusions, fill your boots!

What prompts us to hold onto things after the cause has:
just gone
moved away,
apparently been forgotten
said sorry but didn’t really mean it, in our opinion,
or even died?

My intension was to post purely about CONTROL but it occurred to me that our desire to control ourselves, situations, relationship etc.etc, is possibly/ quite probably a symptom of something else that is eating away at us, but that we just can’t begin to or just don’t want to rationalise, vocalise, visualise. Also, I don’t think that I have enough experience of it if I’m honest, and looking at my question, I can see that the conclusion of this blog is not going to be at all fulfilling unless I go somewhere dark and murky first .

I don’t put myself into the set of people known as Control Freaks and I don’t think many people who know me would say that I am controlling or even am in control for much of the time.

I am a reactive kind of person, it’s very freeing, almost a relinquishing of responsibility really, and am not proud of that either. I am intentionally training myself to have more of a plan, not just for my day to day work, but for my day to day LIFE, so I have the intention to be more in control, but the desire to be in control eludes me.


I wonder if that’s because, at the end of the day
I don’t want to be responsible when it all goes wrong!!
See…. a dark and murky place.


*1 Funny though, that I beat myself up frequently, because so often I think that it all goes wrong anyway, so there must be some other reason that control eludes me.
*1Added after 50th proof read

This post is an exercise in CONTROL. I am typing it in WORD first, rather than just rattling it off as a quick post and I have to say, that it’s quite an enlightening, if actually alarming way of exploring an issue. It will make for a long posting though.

During my NVQ course I touched minutely on Child Psychology and one of the theories is that the adult characteristics we grow into, are as a direct result of the events we experienced as a child – it’s not Brain Surgery*2, to see that, in many cases, that’s true – might not be true for everybody but it probably is and there we have it:

Isn’t that what control is about?
Modifying our behaviour to mask or deny what’s really the issue.


*2The traditional comparison here might be ‘it’s not Rocket Science’, but it has been pointed out to me that Rocket Science is actually quite easy – equal and opposite forces, thrust and fuel, whereas Brain Surgery is actually much harder. In my imaginary world where everything revolves around me, and everyone in the world reads my blog, doctors will now adore me, physicists will not – ho hum.

So, as the topic of forgiveness seems to be one that continues to pepper my thoughts, posting and comments on other people’s blogs, I’m wondering if being able to forgive, or actually being unable to forgive, is something that becomes the cement in a wall that we build around ourselves to keep control.


As a person who really doesn’t have the time to explore many complex issues (‘That’s an excuse!’ I hear all you psychologists in the world who are monitoring my blog shout), maybe that’s my externally imposed control…yeah, a posh phrase for EXCUSE. I don’t want to explore complex issues, so I’ll get married *3, have 3 children and a variety of pets, think about maintaining a long garden, have a job that’s mental at times, be active in my church and get a blog.

*3 It was our 19th wedding anniversary on the 28th May, and for Keith’s prezzie, I taught him how to create a blog – he’s ever so grateful.

So, I think that actually, forgiveness is an issue, not just for me, but for lots of people, and there are SO many ways of dealing with the consequences of needing some kind of forgiveness or being able to be forgiving, but just not being able to become vulnerable enough to ‘go there’ .

So at the end of this posting, I have discovered that the actual issue for me is it that when push comes to shove, I just don’t like confrontation, so someone says ‘sorry’, in a round about way, and I say ‘that’s ok’ when actually it isn’t, life goes on and XYZ years later…it still comes up sometimes.

( I won’t be pre - posting in word again by the way, far too scary )

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