Thursday 29 December 2011

Think we're going to like it here!

It's definitely a touch more rural (for which read: miles down winding single track roads with sheep grazing (unsuccessfully) in the middle) than we've done for a while. It's warm, cosy, the company promises to be excellent, and it's home for the next few days. Oh, and the views aren't bad either!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas, it's Christmas, it;s Christmas once again

and if you've been at Christchurch for a while you're now singing along. If not, then just for all you lovely people who don't have the pleasure...

Christmas, it's Christmas,
It's Christmas once again.
The Birthday of Jesus,
Born in Bethlehem.

The Lord, who was that tiny baby
Existed long before the birth
He laid aside his heavenly glory
To be Jesus, Saviour of the Earth!

Christmas, it's Christmas....

The Lord, who was that tiny baby
Grew up to show the Father's love.
He laid aside his life to bring us back to God
Raised to life, he's back in Heaven above.

Christmas, it's Christmas...

I'd insert a video here but apparently we and Cupar Old Parish Church are the only people who ever sing it. In the gospel according to Google, anyway. I am truly sorry I can't share the earworm. Tried to find something equally irritating catchy for you, but failed.

So am sharing this again because it still makes me grin.

I'm finding myself wondering at the moment. Nativity stories love to include the innkeeper. The Little Princess has been Inky the Wife more than once (I guess innkeepers' wives spend a lot of time sitting down). But, you know, there's no mention of an Innkeeper graciously or begrudgingly allowing Mary and Joseph to sleep in their stable. Just the fact that they did. And I can't help picturing them waiting until the middle of the night, and slipping in amongst the animals, dragging themselves up early again the following morning before they were discovered. Or wondering how many other people were already crowded in with the animals in some kind of temporary refugee camp. I wonder how many nights they'd been there before Mary gave birth. And how many nights it took them to get there from Nazareth. And what they did for nappies. I'm thinking that a Heavenly Host of angels and a flock of shepherds probably blew their cover if they were hiding out.

And then, warned by angels, Mary and Joseph took the baby and fled to Egypt. Shortly before Herod killed all the male babies in Bethlehem. I wonder how much stigma they suffered there - a potentially illegitimate child, certainly one conceived before a betrothal became a marriage. Refugees, who somehow mysteriously managed to escape a mass infanticide no one else knew was coming. How long had they been in Bethlehem before that? How many of those mourning mothers had been Mary's friends, supporting her as a stranger in a strange town around Jesus' birth?

And I wonder what it was like growing up as Jesus' little brother or sister? We know the oldest in the family is always the perfect one (nb: I am the oldest in our family), but how must it be, realising your older brother really IS the Perfect Son? What must it have been like for Mary, having an average child or even an exceptionally wonderful child, after having the perfect, sinless one?

What happened when they finally went home from Egypt? What happened to Joseph? Did Mary save that Myrrh and use it on that fateful Friday 30 years or so later? Or was it sold, used for other relatives? Did that gold fund their exile in Egypt? And at what point did Mary realise her son's Kingship would kill him? How about Joseph? What was it like, being God's Stepfather?

Christmas; it's a time for children. The magic of a tiny little baby with cute fluffy animals, and kings and angels and fairy princesses, fat jolly men who provide endless wish fulfillment (or provoke a deep terror and tears at bedtime, because either you don't let Father Christmas in because he's scary and then you won't be scared but then you might not get presents either, or else you do let him in but then he's scary, and the suggestion he might not in fact be real is even scarier yet). Pantomimes and cinemas and "specials" for every tv programme. Whilst we the adults wish a longer labour on Mary as we wrap and shop and wrap and bake and clean and decorate and prepare and, well, and maybe, just maybe, manage to spend a bit of time forgetting the trimmings and cutting back to the meat of the story. Emmanuel, God with us, God humbling himself, pouring his might and majesty into a frail human body. Fully human and fully divine; a mystery still dividing the world two thousand years later.

Happy Christmas Birthday.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Sign 26137 that you may have a medically complex child

When you go to the Theatre Direct Admissions Unit, and the day's patients' notes are all set out neatly on the top of the nursing station.
And you can tell, instantly, what number you're going to be, because your child's notes are not just a neat pink folder but a giant, sellotaped together because it's falling apart because it is so heavy green and white box full of big fat pink folders.

No surgery today, incidentally, just sorting through photos. No surgery next month either, which is nice, ish - been delayed until Feb but should still be over by Easter.

On a not entirely unrelated note, if giving your child a suppository shortly before a carer is due to come and give her a lovely shower, it is probably best to check said carer is actually coming and is not in fact at home making mince pies having completely forgotten about the shower.

On the plus side; I now have no need to share the Chocolate Nutella Sea Salt Fudge I made earlier. Although I'm not sure that a whole batch is necessarily the best thing. I would share it with the girls, but the Little Princess turned her nose up earlier, preferring broccoli. These are the times which remind me she is adopted.


Monday 19 December 2011

Cuts to support for Children with Disabilities

This is one for those of us living in the UK. You might not have a disabled child yourself, but I urge you to respond anyway, please. According to Every Disabled Child Matters and Mencap, the government is proposing that the premium added to Child Tax Credits for a disabled child (currently £53.62 per week) should be halved to just £26.75 as a part of the new Universal Credit. That's a cut of £1400 per year, or £22,000 over a disabled child's childhood.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation calculate that a disabled child can cost between 3 and 10 times as much as a non-disabled child over the course of their childhood. Disability Living Allowance covers some of these extra costs, and for families on lower incomes, disability premiums on Child Tax Credits help with some others.

£26.75 a week doesn't sound like much perhaps. For us, that's slightly less than the cost for one session for one child at the only local playscheme which will take both my girls occasionally in the holidays. For a friend, that's the cost of replacing her son's coat because he's chewed through the sleeves on the school bus yet again. For some local families, that's the cost of the additional incontinence pads they are now forced to buy, the PCT having decided to ration children to just 4 "products" per day. For another friend, that's the cost of having someone meet her daughter after school occasionally, in order that she can give attention to other children - her Local Authority having decided their need is only severe, not critical. It's the cost of being able to keep the heating on and high enough to keep a fragile child out of hospital. It's out of season soft fruit, high fibre brown rice instead of Tesco Value, all the dietary supplements needed to keep immobile bowels moving and avoid the complications of constipation. It's taking that duvet to the launderette again, or replacing the washing machine when it dies, yet again.

The recent decision that the mobility component of DLA should be removed for people living in care homes has been overturned, the government apparently not having realised (really?) that people living in care do actually still need to get out and about and lead meaningful lives, and that yes they do in fact need vehicles in order to do that. Full credit to them for deciding not to implement that; please now help to encourage them to think again about the impacts of this decision.

Here's a link to the Every Disabled Child Matters form for emailing David Cameron and asking him to rethink this decision. Personally, we'll be alright here. But that's because we have adoption allowances, and by definition, birth families don't have that luxury. And nor do every adoptive family. And I know too many families who are turning every penny twice before they spend it. Cutting their income like this, whilst food and fuel and everything else continues to go up in price could well be the difference between coping and not coping. And not coping is going to cost the gov't an awful lot more than £26.75 per week, if that child ends up in hospital or foster care.


Sunday 18 December 2011


I've been trying to get a video uploaded for the past couple of days, but Blogger isn't working. So, here's the still version instead.

The active version is louder. With a little more enthusiasm from Mog, and a hint of outrage from the Little Princess. It amuses me.


Friday 16 December 2011

Little Princess, Big Prowess

It's a rare event that the Little Princess condescends to tell me anything at all about what happens at school. Today though, she couldn't wait to tell me that she'd been declared "Writer of the week."
The rest of the certificate explains that it is for excellent independent writing.

Now, at home, tLP's independent writing tends to be illegible scribbles all over the walls, new toilet chairs, tiles, keyboards, my books, and anywhere else which will accept whichever pen she finds.

So finding, tucked behind the certificate, this little book, was fairly impressively outstandingly excellent and an altogether brilliant way to end the term.
I love the sheep.

It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas

There's magic happening in the windows of the cake shop
Little Princess climbed up on Mog's lap to get a closer view.

Father Christmasses being created from tubes of icing
Christmas pudding cakes getting a covering of custardly icing.
And an edible Albert Hall. Yum.

At home things are smelling a little seasonal, with gingersnaps and pears and Christmas candles.
Fresh pine, so much fresher when it's genuine from a tree and not masking the toilet bleach.
Last night we had one of those magical moments where I want to stop the clock and freeze time. A lovingly if not beautifully decorated tree, the Nativity finding this year's home safely on top of the piano, the playroom lit by twinkly lights and our Advent Candle, and both girls singing together - Little Princess with the words, Mog with the harmonies, and myself on the endearingly (ish) out of tune piano. Away in a Manger "Sing the Lord Jesus again, Mummy please" roundly endorsed by Mog with a big "Ahhhhh" of agreement. And so we did. And again, and again, with brief and mostly unsuccessful forays into Once in Royal or In the Bleak Midwinter but mostly coming back to the children's carol and rejoicing in its combined familiarity and wonder.

And I can't freeze time, and bedtime has to happen, and morning comes and the days go on. But if I can't freeze it, then perhaps recording it will serve to remind me of its sweetness.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Reviews - your thoughts please

I occasionally write reviews for BookSneeze. It's a nice system; I choose a book from their site, they send it to me either electronically or in print. I read it, review it on my blog and on one other site (Amazon, ChristianBooks, wherever else I fancy), I send BookSneeze the links to my blog review and to the review on another site, and then I can choose another book. There's no obligation for me to write a positive review; there's no obligation actually to write any review at all - except that I won't get another book until I've reviewed the last one. Suits me; I don't get into our local Christian bookshop very often, and so I get to see books I wouldn't normally notice. Plus, I like reading. Lots.

Now I've had an offer from Thomas Nelson, offering me a similar set up and the chance to review their new Bibles etcetera as they come out. And I'm thinking this sounds good, but what do you lot think? Does it bother you if I review things on the blog? Do you like them, think they detract from things, don't care what I post as long as I post something?

From time to time I get offers from people wanting me to review things which really aren't a part of who I am - a very nice site for silver jewelery offered me a pair of earrings, but I didn't really fancy getting them pierced again. People suggest I might be interested in balloons, or mechanical gadgetry, or various bits and pieces which seem to be vaguely linked to one post I maybe wrote a few years ago, and I generally decline. Lots really isn't relevant to me or mine as an English family living in the UK. But, I've just had a nice (I think) offer from a digital scrapbooking site, offering to send me a copy of their software for review, and one for a giveaway. I know I've got some scrapbooky people out there; would you be interested if I did this? Or are these reviews just a slightly subtler way of sticking adverts on the blog?

Let me know

Wednesday 14 December 2011

BookSneeze Review - Stumbling Into Grace, by Lisa Harper

Stumbling into Grace: confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman is a book I knew I'd be able to identify with as soon as I read the title. I manage to open my mouth only to change feet far too often, and I had a feeling this might be the story of someone similar. With chapter titles like "The Very Real Problem With Pantyhose", I was expecting this to be a good read.

What I was not expecting was for this to take me a month. Not because it was a difficult read, certainly not because it was boring, but because this is less "Confessions" and more "Bible Study and Life Application Guide." Every chapter comes with a series of questions for group discussion or personal study, Bible passages to read through, and the suggestion to make a journal entry starting with for example "So Jesus, today I've been thinking about , and..." Meatier spiritual food than I was expecting, but good nevertheless.

From the beginning "God doesn't just see us; He gazes adoringly at us. He doesn't simply notice us; He moves heaven and earth on our behalf" via quotes collected from others - Mark Twain's "Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." and Anne Lamott's "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do," to the vindictively absurd "I think people who peddle pornography for a living should be forced to share cramped, windowless apartments with camels who have irritable bowel syndrome." This is a book full of one liners and longer passages I shall be re-reading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookSneeze®

Monday 12 December 2011

More from the palace

"Curtsey while you're thinking what to say, it saves time."

Do I look smart enough?
You look fine, how about us?Add Image
Add Video

Really? Really really a princess?
He looks good and strong, bet he could hoik me up in my chair when I need it.
Every Christmas Tree decorator needs a sword for those hard to reach branches.
He probably pruned it into shape too
It's hard work, all this tree decorating, may I help you to some chocolates?
I want Ham Sandwiches, please
Certainly dear.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Making Memories.

They're changing Guard at Buckingham Palace Clarence House
tLP and Mog went down with Alice Mummy and Grannie and a pile of children from Helen HouseDo you think the King Duchess of Cornwall knows all about me?
Sure to dear, but it's time for teaSaid Alice Tia.

Better photos, proper photos, big fat "I have a camera so vast it takes three people to hold it" type photos in the links underneath.

Spot the Mog

Spot the Little Princess shaking hands with the proper Princess. "Is she really a Princess, Mummy? A real one?"

It isn't every day you get to help the future Queen of England decorate her Christmas Tree. Better photos on Grannie's camera, but Grannie's camera has gone off with Grannie to her next meal out, and I know people were waiting to see things here.

We drove. Something involving lots of police and flashy lights slowed us down considerably on Edgeware Road. I remain tremendously grateful that I get to visit London less than once a year, and that I don't live there. Huge admiration for those of you who do. And I say we drove; I drove to Helen House, two very nice Helen House volunteers drove us the rest of the way.

We arrived. Policemen climbed into our bus to check we were who we said we were, soldiers paraded up and down outside the bus, and eventually we were allowed through the gates, under the archway and into Clarence House.

We took our coats off and had them squirreled away into a cloakroom. I too would be tidy if I had a fully staffed cloakroom with several people just itching to take my coat and fold it for me every time I took it off.

Room number one; many press-type people, a regiment of London Cab Drivers bringing local Underprivileged Children, Sister Frances and Tom from Helen House, a smaller team of Royal staff, and a smaller but very present group of children.

Room two; a giant Christmas Tree, a real live toy soldier with a sword, and many decorations. Lots of opportunities to help HRH hang the decorations on the tree. It goes much more easily when one has a soldier with a sword to hang the highest decorations. And a super small boy to adjust the lower ones until they are just right.

Room number three; a beautiful dining room with Christmasly party foods. A Duchess, inviting tLP to partake of the chocolate stars. And a Little Princess insisting instead on steadily munching her way through the ham sandwiches. A very giggly Mog making the most of the atmosphere and definitely NOT kicking the Duchess, although she did kick her switch very nicely to say hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. And Hello. Ah, the limitations of a single switch.

And then back into the bus, and a cold drive home. Two girls full of Christmas food and Christmas spirit, with Buckingham Palace Gift Bags and immense chocolate pennies. More presents inside the bags which the girls were too tired to explore. And a long drive.

Back to Helen House carpark, into our bus, home, and into bed, slightly splashily after a long day out.

For Mum and I, the memory of tLP refusing Her Royal Highness' chocolate in favour of what I assume was Duchy Ham. Of Mog, helpless with giggles, grinning up at the living Toy Soldier standing behind her. For tLP, perhaps the memory of hanging a decoration onto the soldier's sword, and watching him hoist it high into the branches of the tree. Or having a flag fight with the toddler in the chair next to her. Or eating Smarties on the way home. And for Mog, lights. Smiles, faces, lots of admiration of her dress, and the chance to meet a real live Princess. For the Duchess? I don't know, but I hope she enjoyed our company.

Thanks to all who arranged it and especially for thinking to invite us.

Wednesday 30 November 2011


Tonight, I am, once again, a STANK. I am stanky for opting for evening routines and bedtimes instead of unlimited Cbeebies, and Stanky for banning another repeat of Justin's House, and very very stanky for insisting that hands are more or less wiped with a flannel to at least attempt to remove some of the glitter paint used at Rainbows. And I am a stanker stanky stinkstank for wanting Mog to be able to enter the sitting room instead of being parked blocking the front door. But I am also apparently a lovely precious Mummy and MY Mummy and I need endless kisses.

Turbulent times. I'm not looking forwards to the teen years.

Happily, Mog finds this entertaining. Which is good, because she'd otherwise get lost in the battle. I am after all the biggest stank of all for taking "GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE" as a cue to go and get Mog sorted and into bed. How unreasonable of me.

It's been one of those afternoons. And I can't help thinking that actually, I probably am a bit of a stank, even if not necessarily a stanky stinkstank. Because most of the stankiness could have been avoided. tLP was expecting to come home to a sausage sandwich. I didn't make (or buy) bread, so she had sausage and potato instead. Change bad. Sweet potato even badder. If I'd moved a little faster on the way back from Rainbows, she wouldn't have run into the backs of my legs, and I wouldn't have shouted. If I hadn't been grumping about having just been run over, I would have been able to pre-warn tLP that her next move was to park her chair and hop into the bathroom. She needs warning of imminent lack of Cbeebies. Change, as I may have mentioned, bad.

And if I'd spent the day differently there would have been nicer things waiting for her. If I'd spent the hour she was at Rainbows differently, then at least evening drugs would have been drawn up, evening feeds set up properly, and the long distance Take your jumper off/YOU ARE A STANK cycle could have been swapped for a friendlier, more cooperative getting ready for bed closeness. But instead I mooched around and made "waiting in for deliveries" into an activity in itself rather than doing anything vaguely useful whilst waiting. And Mog had a music and bubbles day - pleasant for her, but perhaps a waste of a nice awake without attention-grabbing sibling day?

And now the girls are in bed, and the stankiness of the day was relieved somewhat by the snuggliness of the evening, and huge and vast sighs of relief all round at jobs done, routines over, and the gentle hum and whirr which passes for silence in this house. And I'm sitting here stewing over my own inner stankiness, frustrated that one of the deliveries didn't turn up, and annoyed that I think I've recycled one of the smaller deliveries without actually removing the delivered item from the packaging first. Is that stanky or just stupidity?

And I'm thinking that four years ago today we buried Goldy today. And we've tried to commemorate her life in various ways. Friends bought us a tree - it died. We bought some cats which linked to other parts of Goldy's life - and one of them died, and one of them is now not stanky but decidedly stumpy. And there wasn't even time or thought tonight to eat a Goldy Pizza. And I know she wouldn't care - if she wasn't eating it herself then there wasn't much point to it. My purple-headed pizza eater, we have for the past few years enjoyed troughing doughy slabs in her memory. I think perhaps forgetting her funeral pizza might count towards further stanky behaviour. It's also just possible that deciding to move her out of our house and into the supported living placement which ultimately caused her death is pretty stanking too.

So there you have it. A few of the reasons why I am in fact a Stanky stinkstank. Mog could, I am sure, add to the list. I'm reasonably certain she think's it's very stanky of me to object to her midnight singing. I think tLP is right. I am a stanky stinkstank, a stanker and a stank.

Which is precisely why I am so thankful for this

Stankfully yours,

Oh dear...


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