Sunday, 25 April 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday

I know it looks like this is swiftly turning into a 'religious' blog....but it's not really. It's just been another one of those weeks which has run away with me. You know the sort.

Anyway, as it is Good Shepherd Sunday, I wanted to share my absolute favourite devotional from my 'downstairs Bible'. (Don't ask).

Some years ago I spent several weeks in England. One afternoon we took a drive in the country. A sudden storm came up, so we pulled off the road to wait it out.

In the distance I saw a man standing by a huge rock. He had a large cloak on and a shepherd's crook in his hand.. He was calling his sheep. They came, bells tinkling, from different parts of the field. The shepherd never moved in all that rain and lightning, but stood steady for his flock to gather round him.

That scene has been forever engraved on my memory. The shepherd didn't leave his sheep. He didn't abandon them. He didn't let them find refuge of their own. But neither did he take them out of the storm. Instead, he bore the storm with them. He provided them with safety and security by his presence.

So God, our shepherd desires to do for us. In times of crisis, in the midst of a storm, let us not try to save ourselves. Let us run quickly to the shelter of His arms, where we will find refuge, and let us stay there until the storm passes by.

Ann Spangler

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Cracked Pots

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old woman smiled: “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

So, to all of my cracked pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Monday, 12 April 2010

That Was The Week (and a half) That Was....

3.45am, Wednesday 31st March

FF: Mum, I'm in a taxi on the way home. I think I've broke my arm

She has come out with numerous similar comments over the years.....
.....MUM!! I'M BLIND!!!....(shampoo in eyes)

....MUM!!! I'VE BROKE MY METATARSAL!!!.....(stubbed toe)

.....MUM!! I'VE GOT CRUCIATE LIGAMENT DAMAGE!!! (twisted knee)

.......and so on..... I wasn't unduly worried......

.....until I saw it.

It swiftly became clear that, since her wrist was in one place and the rest of her arm was in another, my usual diagnosis/treatment of 'Run it under the cold tap and have two Panadols' was not going to be much help.

So, off to Casualty we went. Again. For the second time in two weeks.

It needed an operation to re-set it.

The Football Fanatic was not amused. There is only one thing on earth which strikes fear into her heart. General anesthetic.

So she did what any normal, sane person with a deformed arm would do in the circumstances.

She discharged herself.

Many, many hours of persuasion, a different hospital and a surgeon who had re-set Ryan Giggs' wrist later and she signed the consent form.

If only that were the end of the story.

The surgery was then cancelled FOUR TIMES during last week, which meant four days of starvation, four days of assuring her that yes, she really would wake up and four times of having to tell her that it wouldn't be tomorrow after all.

It was finally done on Sunday morning, by which time I felt like a bit of chewed string.

Anyway, it is done. Over. She woke up. Her arm is back in the right place, albeit held together with two wires and she is back home.

I plan to have an extremely boring week.

I deserve it.

And I have seen enough of these..........


.....and these....... last me a lifetime.

Thank you to everybody who was praying for her.

I have had a Mass said for your intentions.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Sunday

We've got a lot going on here (for which your prayers would be gratefully received) so I've got no time to stop and chat.
Just wanted to wish everyone a happy and peaceful Easter..........

..........and of course to show you my new Easter bonnet!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak,
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne.
But to our wounds, only God's wounds can speak,
And not a God has wounds, but Thou alone.

From 'Jesus of The Scars' by Edward Shillito

Sunday, 28 March 2010

It's Been a Trying Week....

....what with trying to stop The Noise from causing any more damage to her already broken wrist.....

......inordinate amounts of cleaning for the way, has anyone else had to carve dried- on ice cream out of the bathroom bin?.......

.......scouring brochures in an attempt to actually find a holiday which costs less than the National Debt.......

(As usual, this picture is wildly inaccurate. Real life has found the Father of This Lot spending every spare moment in the Mare and Foal, coming home and asking 'Have you STILL not sorted it out....?)

.......praying through most of Thursday, that the Football Fanatic, who had gone to Alton Towers, would not be tempted to go on the new ride, in case she died of heart failure..........

(It didn't work - she did go on it and pronounced it 'rubbish - not even scary')

Today is Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week, which means that I may as well move my bed into church due to the amount of time I will be spending there.......

......and to top it all, the Father of This Lot has managed to get himself a bout of manflu.....

I hope nobody else wants me for anything, as there is not enough left of me to go round.

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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Lovely Bones?

My Spring Cleaning week was hampered slightly by a phone call from The Noise's school to say she had 'had a bad fall and was a bit shaken up' and would I come and collect her please.

A rather suspicious looking lump on her wrist meant that a trip to Casualty ensued, and a mere four and a half hours later she emerged with a wrist brace and an appointment for the Fracture Clinic the following day.

It turned out to be a hairline crack which didn't need a cast - she's just got to keep the brace on for three weeks. And no more football. Told you they should have all been boys.

It hasn't stopped her racing around like something on speed. It is her birthday on Monday, so today I have taken her and four of her friends to see 'Alice in Wonderland'. Just short of fifty pounds to get in, a whopping £25 for drinks and popcorn and another £20 for the minibus home.

And....they are all staying the night, so I have fed, watered and entertained them and they are now playing an extremely noisy game downstairs.

I would probably get a headache....... if I didn't already have one from two hours of wearing 3D glasses.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Dear Dad.....

......I'm dressed in green.

I'm wearing the same Celtic cross you used to pin on me when I was a little girl.

There's a shamrock on the windowsill, and I've been to Mass.

It's not the same on my own.

But I'm doing it anyway.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mother's Day? You Can Keep It!

Not for me the old breakfast in bed, lunch out at a posh restaurant routine. Oh no.

The Football Fanatic and The Fixer went to watch the match, The Singer and The Peacemaker went shopping, The Father of This Lot went to the Mare and Foal (no surprise there then) and me and The Noise ended up cleaning at my mother's!

All in all, it was NOT what I expected!

Still, since I seem to have taken on the look of a scheming Katharine Hepburn, I shall probably sit here and plot some deep, dark revenge!

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Thursday, 11 March 2010

There Are No Words.....

I have been completely out of things to say all week (well, that and cleaning the house from top to bottom) but, true to form, the Football Fanatic has come to my aid with a comment worthy of a new post.

The Noise bounced into the living room and asked us:

Have you seen that new film 'Constipation'?

The Rest of Us: No.

The Noise: I'm not surprised. It's not come out yet!'

Sadly, even the sight of The Noise rolling around the floor hysterically aughing at her own joke did not stop the Football Fanatic from asking:

'Who's in it?'

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Third Sunday of Lent

I have decided to stick with Fr. Jack throughout Lent, if only for the fact that listening to him makes me rather uncomfortable, and I always feel that Lent is a rather uncomfortable time.

What I have gleaned from sharing my ironing time with Fr. Jack over the last couple of weeks, is that whilst I am fantastic at being a traditional Catholic, I am not that great at being a Christian. Sadly lacking, in fact. It needs work. Quite a lot of work, actually.

Anyway, here's what he says about the poor:

'In the Gospels Jesus gives us a very clear preview of the general judgement. The questions will be scandalously materialistic. I will not be asked about prayer, religious experiences or church observances. I will be asked about food, drink and clothes.

When I was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger or in prison, what did you do to help me? That is the acid test of my Christianity.

Using figures from a seminar on evangelisation some years ago, if there were 100 people on earth, all living in the same village, 67 of them would be poor while 33 of them would be at various levels of being well off.
93 would have to watch while the other 7 spent half the money, had half the bathtubs, ate one third of the food and had ten times as many doctors looking after them as the other 93 put together.

The real problem though, occurs when the 7 attempt to evangelise the 93, telling them what a wonderful Saviour they have, while throwing out more food than would feed the 93, and building bigger and better basilicas to this God of theirs, while the 93 find it more and more difficult to find a place to live'.

I told you it was uncomfortable.

Have you heard about the Robin Hood Tax?
Watch the video.

I can't see it happening, but I've signed the petition.

I live in hope.

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Friday, 5 March 2010

Voice From the Gods

Last weekend the Football Fanatic soared over and above the realms of stupidity that usually only she can reach.
What she did not only bordered on absolute lunacy, but was so incredibly dangerous that it has left both myself and the Father of This Lot shaking our heads in disbelief at what sort of offspring we (well, me, mainly) are bringing up.
I am hoping that time, the great healer, will erase from my mind the thoughts of 'what-could-have-happened-to-her' and for that reason, I have no wish to record the incident here for posterity.
However, this is Mother's Pride, and as usual, there is a lighthearted ending to the whole sorry tale.
The Football Fanatic was at University the following day, doing some kind of broadcasting assignment. They were in a studio, waiting for the lecturer, and the Football Fanatic had seated herself on what she thought was a table while they chatted about their various weekends.
When she told them what she had done over the weekend everyone sat there open-mouthed, obviously having the same reaction (WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD WERE YOU THINKING OF??) as I had done myself.
Then she turned around, and noticed the lecturer, on the other side of the glass screen, showing a group of prospective students around the campus.
Strangely, the whole group were also staring open-mouthed at the Football Fanatic.
She thought that this was rather odd, until she heard the lecturer's voice, clear as a bell, over the connecting speaker:
'And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should never park your backside on a mixing desk'

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Ceiling Whacks

The Fixer was on the phone to the Father of This Lot when suddenly there was a loud crashing sound followed by some yelps of pain. Actually, scratch that. Whatever he may be, the Father of This Lot is not a yelper. Make that agonised shouts.

The Fixer: 'Mum! The ceiling's come down in the Mare and Foal! Right where Dad was're not laughing up there are you?'

Me: No! Whatever made you think I was laughing?

I was actually in the bathroom stuffing a facecloth into my mouth to mask my squeals of hilarity.

Anyway, The Fixer ascertained that her father was unharmed and then came to find me.

Her (accusingly): You thought that was funny didn't you, Mum?

Me: Not at all. I didn't think it was remotely funny.

Divine justice is what I thought it was.

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Friday, 26 February 2010

School Daze

Some comments from The Fixer's Parents Evening:

'highly academic'

'practical and problem solving'

'no shortage of ideas'

'could charm the birds off the trees'

'talks too much'

Tell me something I didn't know.

That makes three Parents Evenings this month and two Options Evenings yet to go.

As one teacher remarked to me lastnight,

'Good God, are you here again?'

I'll be on the payroll next.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Carry On, Nurse

Well, I bit the bullet and decided to 'do as I would be done by', and the result was that the Father of This Lot and I are, for the moment, back to this:

Don't get too excited. In my experience, this state of affairs never lasts very long.

In the meantime, I have spent the week up to now dealing with

2 ear infections

1 case of sinusitis

1 inflamed knee

several swollen glands

(and a partridge in a pear tree)

and now I feel that I may need some of these:

Sunday, 21 February 2010

First Sunday of Lent

So, there I was, trying to be all extra-holy during Lent.
Fasting? Check.
Almsgiving? Check.
Praying? Double check.
Quite pleased with myself you might say, even though we are only into the first week.
Anyway, I thought I had better tackle the ironing, which had once again assumed Biblical proportions, and while I was doing it, I put on a CD of a talk by a priest called Fr. Jack McArdle. (Told you I was being extra holy).
Well, I was enjoying myself, because he was quite comical, and I do like a comical priest, when all of a sudden, he started talking about....forgiveness.
Here's what he said:
Forgiveness is healing. No matter how hard it can be, to forgive someone releases you from the bondage that they have over you by the act they committed.
Forgive. Even if it takes time due to the severity of the act, forgive.
Remember the Lord's Prayer and its conditions for receiving God's mercy:
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
If we don't forgive others for the wrongs they have committed against us, we cannot expect God to forgive us for the wrongs we have committed.
You can start small by opening up to the person. A small act of kindness can smooth the way for forgiveness.
You may remember that the Father of This Lot and I are still 'daggers drawn' over his latest escapade.
To give him his due, he has made one feeble attempt to start talking, which I resisted.
A bit like this:

(Actually, this picture does look a bit like me. It looks nothing like the Father of This Lot, apart from that shifty, 'has-she-fallen-for-it' expression.....)

Sorry. It's tough being holy AND married to the FOTL.

Anyway, it dawned on me that now matter how extra-holy-during-Lent I'm trying to be doesn't matter a jot unless I start getting down to brass tacks. And I reckon nursing a two-week-old grudge qualifies as a brass tack.

So, as difficult as it might be, I suppose I'd better bite the bullet.

I'll be back when I've done it.

I may be gone some time........

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Let's Give It Up For........Lent!

One of my favourite journalists, or 'an old hack' as he describes himself, Stuart Reid, has this to say in the current issue of the Catholic Herald:

'Blimey. Can Lent really be upon us again? Yes, it can. How time flies when you are old and unemployable....'

The man obviously reads this blog.
Did I not say the very same thing last Pancake Tuesday? I knew there was a reason I liked him.

So, I have eaten the last of the chocolate, I have put all the ribbons in the right places in the breviary to pray the Divine Office each day and I have rooted out the Lenten reading plan entitled 'Forty Days with the Church Fathers'.

What fun.

(Although how you are supposed to get through the Church Fathers without a bit of chocolate remains to be seen).

And then I saw this at Crazyacres...........

..............a Lenten de-cluttering challenge!

What a marvellous idea. Getting rid of a bag of rubbish a day during Lent. And because it is Lent there is absolutely no excuse for getting fed up halfway through!

At Crazyacres, Mary Poppins (Not) is hoping for 'more detachment to stuff and that some personal growth will take place'.

My aim is slightly less spiritual. I'm just hoping to be able to walk into a bedroom without the threat of something crashing down from atop a wardrobe.....

Here's the link if you want the rules.

Monday, 15 February 2010

You Bring Out the Animal in Me

It is not unknown for The Father of This Lot to enter a room, survey the systematic anihilation of it by his brood and declare:

'It's like living with animals'

He has several variations on this theme, including:

'If pigs lived here, they'd move out'

'If you had a dog living in these conditions, you'd have it put down'

and that old tea-time favourite:

'I'll bet the chimps at Chester Zoo don't make this much mess at feeding time'

So in his honour, and because it is Chinese New Year, I have researched what type of animal our birthdates relate to in the Chinese calendar.

We consist of a Ram, a Dragon, a Rabbit, a Rooster, a Boar and 2 Oxen. Not a pig, dog or chimp in sight.

Then, in for a penny, I thought I might as well see if our character traits matched up.

The Football Fanatic: Intelligent, enthusiastic, brave

The Singer: Bit of a loner, can be very outspoken

The Fixer: Tolerant and determined

The Peacemaker: Kind, gentle, even-tempered

The Noise: Friendly and sentimental

Me: Dependable, trustworthy and patient

And the Father of This Lot?

First to complain about something, pessimistic

How amazingly accurate.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Find out the animal in you here!

Friday, 12 February 2010

How Many Teenagers.........

......can one person be expected to cope with?

Yes, we did it again.
Another birthday, another teenager.

They'll probably put up one of those blue plaques on the house:


.....or words to that effect.

Happy birthday to The Peacemaker.

May your teenage years be good ones.

And by the grace of God, may I survive them.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Parents Evening

Lastnight was Parents Evening for The Peacemaker.

I was not particularly hopeful, mainly due to the iPod Touch which both she and The Fixer received at Christmas, and which have transformed them both into a type of mummified zombie, unable to hold a conversation, complete homework assignments or get to school on time.

However, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by her teachers' reports.

Well, most of them.

There was a slightly embarrassing moment with the History teacher. Apparently, they have been learning about the Pilgrim Fathers. The teacher said that the journey on The Mayflower had been a long one, and wondered how they had kept themselves entertained during the voyage.

The Peacemaker put her hand up and asked:

'Didn't they have any alcohol, sir?'

Like father, like daughter, it would seem.

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Monday, 8 February 2010

Passports to Paradise?

The Father of This Lot arrived with a stack of passport forms and grunted that they needed to be filled in.

Obviously, he is considering arranging some sort of holiday.

However, since he is normally more likely to utter something along the lines of:

......I am, naturally, quite puzzled.

Unfortunately, I am not speaking to the Father of This Lot due to a particularly dastardly trick he pulled at the weekend, and pride therefore, stops me from asking about it.

YES, I KNOW pride is ANOTHER one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

May as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I always say.
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Saturday, 6 February 2010


Yesterday, I sent the Football Fanatic to Tesco for a celery.

She came home with this:

According to Wikipedia, 'despair' (to give up all hope or expectation) has somehow, over the centuries, been bundled in with 'sloth', one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

If you're listening, Lucifer, you might as well throw another log on the fire.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Don't Ask Me.........

.......because I have no idea why today I took delivery of a catalogue from a company called Jack Wills bearing the legend:


and addressed to The Fixer.

Delusions of grandeur, that one.

Nice shop front, but at £24 for a pair of tights, I don't expect we'll be visiting it in the near future.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Key of the Door

Well, it's finally happened.

My eldest child has reached her majority.

I feel quite old.

I was going to give her the wisdom of my experience, but as they say, advice, like youth, is wasted on the young.

So instead, I have waved her off at the door on her way out to her celebration.

Actually, I helped her down the snow-covered path into the taxi because it is quite difficult to walk in snow whilst wearing five-inch stillettoes.

I do, however, have a word of advice for anyone who happens to be out in Manchester tonight:

Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Atmosphere Was Electric.....

Here's a question for you.

If you saw an electrical appliance....let's say it was a hairdryer.......whose plug looked like this:

.....and you had just finished washing your hair, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that your hands may be slightly wet.........would you blithely pick it up and plug it in?

a) Yes


b) No

You know what's coming don't you?

The Singer answered 'A'. Then there was a bit of a squeal.......

Anyway, amid shouts of 'Oh dear God' and 'Run it under the tap!' the Father of This Lot was summoned from the Mare and Foal to unplug the offending item. There followed the usual diatribe of '....don't know what sort of kids you're bringing up here....' and the various other pearls of wisdom in much the same vein which he airs on every conceivable occasion. The hairdryer was duly fixed and the Father of This Lot was waved off at the door before he could cause any further verbal damage.

Personally, I keep well away from hairdryers. I never got over that business with Valerie Barlow. It left a mark on my childhood psyche which remains to this day.

Anyway, thankfully, The Singer appears none the worse for her adventure apart from the tiniest little blister on her thumb.

Well I think it's tiny. She's carrying on as though it was a third degree burn.

Someone remarked to me this morning after Mass that she had been 'very lucky'.


Luck doesn't come into it, mate.

With this lot, I find that being on your knees for upwards of sixteen hours a day invoking the protection of the Almighty is the key. And that's the method I intend to stick with.

And since she does seem to have escaped unharmed and is back to her usual hair-tossing self, I just couldn't resist this witty little graphic........

Monday, 1 February 2010


......that's what I am.

By your comments, I mean.

I didn't realise you had been worried about me.

Did you think the Father of This Lot had 'done me in'?

Were your minds racing along the lines of...............

or worse..........


You know me better than that.

Wouldn't this have been nearer the mark.....................?

Actually, this is a very inaccurate picture.

For a start, that punch is way too girly and playful for my liking, and I think that rig-out gives the Father of This Lot a bit of a look of Jason King.

If you are old enough to remember Jason King you are most welcome to this blog.

If not, please leave now as you are depressing me.

Anyway, I'm back.

Without explanation or excuse, I might add.

Real life got in the way.

You know how it is.

And I shall be easing myself back into this blogging lark with very short posts.

I thought this best since it took me three hours lastnight to remember how to get on to the thing in the first place.

However, I shall leave you with this little text gem from the Football Fanatic on Saturday night:

FF: Have you ever met anyone from Sicily?
Me: No. Why, have you?
FF: Yeah. Two lads buying us drinks.
Me: Are they good looking snappy dressers who keep going on about how much they love their mother?
FF: God, Mum, how did you know that?

Me: Dunno, kiddo. Lucky guess?

I thought it prudent at this point to step up my prayers a notch until she arrived home.

Which she did.


Is There Anybody There?

Will anyone remember me?

Will anyone still want to hear stories ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous?

Will anyone comment?

I wonder....