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.


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 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 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!