Monday, 28 December 2009

On the feast of the Holy Innocents

"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, for they were no more."

I read a piece today that was linked to on MommyLife.
It is the response of a Rabbi to a question from a mother who has learnt that the baby she is expecting has Downs syndrome. She wonders whether she should end the pregnancy.
It is a beautiful response. This especially touched me:

Since this will be the soul of a child who will need special care and who will know the world differently than others, she has a special mission. She is chosen to ignite the kindness that lies dormant in people's souls and plant the seeds of empathy in their hearts; to teach caring, patience and tolerance in a way no other teacher could. She will enter the world armed with lessons and tests for all who will come to know her—and she will leave it a much kinder world, a world blossoming with compassion, a world where people can feel for one another and put aside their own concerns and comfort to run to help. She will leave behind a touch of the heaven from whence she came."

Read the rest here.

Today the church honours the memory of the infant victims of King Herod.
It's a sombre reflection, and it would be hard to believe that such savage cruelty would be possible, were it not for the daily reporting of similar horrors. Horrors against which we mostly become inured in order to protect our hearts and perhaps also to preserve our sanity.
The normal instinct responds protectively to weakness and vulnerability.
Where we see innocence, we sense something delightful, liberating and true.

When power is turned
against the helpless, rather than in defence of them, our hearts are unsettled. Sometimes it is simply too much, too intractably difficult, too sad for us to contemplate.
And we turn away.

Today, I am thinking about the weak, the vulnerable and the innocent.
My prayer is that they inspire in me always an impulse to cherish, to protect and to humbly learn from "the least of these".

I am thinking also, of those parents who have known the loss of a child. My prayer for them is that they have the assurance and comfort that God gives to the completely weak and defeated.

I am thinking especially today of Olivia, my own 'holy innocent'. Whose short life wrung out my heart.

The pangs of sorrow are immeasurably eased by the blessing of Marie-Aibhlinn. Nonetheless, I miss her. And I know that without her, inwardly, I will always be walking with a little limp.

Dear Olivia, loved and carried always in my heart, until we meet in heaven, pray for me.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

7 Quick Takes. The very late edition.


Behold the crib! A very plain version this year , but I've decided that plain is the way to go since I have it at child's 'fiddling height'. My previous attempts at more elaborate nativity scenes have made me very possessive of the 'look' and twitchy about little fingers constantly giving it a makeover.
This year, assembly was fuss free.
  • Dark felt backdrop tintacked to underside of bookshelf suggesting a dark Bethlehem night: Check.
  • Fairy lights hitched crudely onto tintacks suggestive of twinkly Bethlehem skies: Check
  • Nativity figures awaiting the darling promised baby: Check
Done in five minutes.

Oh, and Honors subsequent not so final touches:
  • Woolly sheep from farm set: Check
  • Plastic cow also from farm set: Check
  • Plastic polar bear from zoo set: Check

Be it ever so simple, the crib is the loveliest of all the Christmas decorations. When everyone has gone to bed, I love to just sit with a glass of wine and stare at it. And of course, tweak the polar bear a bit and move the angel just a touch. It's like a holy dolls house.


I get a lot of inspiration from other bloggers.
Here is a photo of Gabriel and Colmcille last night which handily illustrates three advent activities all going on at once, all of which owe in some part to various lovely blogs.
See the lovely tree on which hangs some Jesse tree symbols? I got that tip here.
( click on the photo to see how tres tres 'rustique' the symbols are)

See the advent candle ring in the foreground? Got that recommendation from here ( although sadly the seller was out of stock and it only arrived a couple of days ago, so it is still sans greenery at the moment. It will be greened up tomorrow)

Notice the papers that the children are busy working on? They are the most lovely O Antiphon colouring pages which I found here.
We used metallic gel pens in lovely colours and then I laminated the pages. They look wonderful, like illuminated manuscript. The boys love using the gel pens, and even though they sometimes go on 'colouring in strike' they happily did this while I read to them and were happy to do it again this evening.


Just after I took the photo of the crib, Honor dropped the camera and I notice that there is now a shadow on the bottom left of the screen. At first I thought it was my thumb occluding the window, but I now realise that it must be damaged from the fall. What a pity.


I don't watch the telly much, but caught the tail end of this new sitcom on BBC2 the other night. It's called Miranda and it tickled me so much that I was still snorting after I had finished watching it. I only saw the last 10 minutes, so I looked it up on iplayer and spent a half hour at lunchtime, while Honor was napping and Colmcille was doing something with a pair of scissors and a cardboard box, watching it again.
And just incase you think I was recumbent on the sofa at the time, in a Juicy Couture tracksuit eating bon bons. I was not. I was peeling potatoes. I think that laughing and peeling vegetables counts as multi tasking.
And I don't wear Juicy Couture tracksuits. I have standards.
If you are tempted, here's the link. Go on, laughing is good for you It's like a massage on the inside apparently. All your internal organs get pleasingly jigged about. And that's a Well Known Medical Fact (TM)


The actress who plays Mirandas mother is Patricia Hodge. I briefly looked after her after she had her second baby when I worked on the private ward at Queen Charlottes. I recall her being charming, and well... younger!
Much younger. Whoever said Tempus Fugit spoke the truth. And I think it is fugitting faster every year.


Has anyone tried this? Do I need it? Will it change my life?
I certainly DO find myself losing track of my life. I identify with the foolish man in the video.
I need to know if it's the next thing that I have to have. Advice please.


Do I have to always post 7 things?

( more quick takes here.)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Hate debate?

I enjoy a ( friendly) argument. But it can be hard to find a willing partner.
With my husband, whose temperament is completely different, I have to temper my natural impulse to toss every question back and forth several times and examine it from every angle. To him, this is being picky and splitting hairs.
I think it's energising to have a spirited debate. He finds it draining, isn't excited about the minutiae that I find so stirring, and prefers what he calls a 'live and let live' philosophy ( not, despite the implication, that mine is conversely 'kill or be killed' lol!) and he is not fascinated by following minute points to their ultimate conclusion in the way that I tend to be.

I realise how irritating my 'arguing hobby' must be to some (ok most) but in my defence, it does come with a plus point in that I'm not touchy or easily offended when people disagree with me. Au contraire! Another opportunity to indulge in my favourite hobby!

On one of the home ed email lists I subscribe to, a question was posted about some 'friendly banter between the poster and her good friend who is an atheist.
This is what he said to her:

Is that the sort of love that leveled Sodom and Gomorrah, flooded an entire planet leaving only two survivors and committed various other genocidal atrocities eg Judges 19:29 , 20 , Numbers 31:18 , 25 and various others? Oh yes, Old Testament god, before the image makeover."

She wondered if anyone had anything interesting to say.

One of the responders said that it was better not to engage him as he was probably only wanting to make faith look foolish and to win the argument. She suggested praying for him instead and offered some very lovely suggestions for how to pray very specifically for him.
Her response got me thinking. Because of course she is right. But she probably isn't an 'amiable arguer' and, like my husband, tends to see comments like this as contrary and even hostile.
I don't. Because it's the sort of thing that I would say and sincerely not mean any offence at all.
So I thought I'd respond giving the perspective of an amiable arguer, because we are a sadly misunderstood and dare I say it, even unappreciated lot.
(Of course I don't know if the chap in question is in fact 'amiable' but since the poster describes him as a dear friend, I'm going to assume he is.)

Here's what I said:

Can I offer another perspective from someone who enoys the cut and thrust of friendly argument?
Sometimes this kind of provocative rhetoric is meant to actually drive the conversation forward rather than stop it in a hard place.

I've been around the tracks a bit in my spiritual journey and when I was questing it was a real treat to meet someone who was bright, articulate, willing to engage in some banter without getting easily offended and not afraid of tackling the hard questions.
I often asked hard, possibly offensive questions myself, not with the intention to provoke or to win the argument ( even though it may have looked like that) but because I really was sincerely interested in whether there could be a reasonable answer, however unlikely that may have seemed to me at the time.

I think a discussion of this nature can easily run all over the place and when it does it loses it's focus and therefore it's power to help us to think and even change our minds.

With the atheism/theism discussion I would use a similar approach to the one I use when discussing the issue of abortion. Be willing to discuss the hard issues, but first clarify why you believe your baseline principle or belief is reasonable and valid.

For example, with abortion, I start by explaining that I believe abortion is wrong because it involves killing a baby, and it is always wrong to do that. Then follows ( hopefully) a spirited discussion on the nature of what it means to be a baby or even human, in order to elaborate further. Once we have established that, it is easier to discuss the hard questions like abortion in the case of rape or fetal abnormality. Or at least, the discussion makes more sense.

Likewise, when discussing the issue of belief in God, I would first want to nail down some of the reasons why I believe it is reasonable, sane and logical to hold this belief.
The bottom line is that Gods existence isn't really something that we reasonably accept or reject because we like the sound of Him and approve of what He does.
We are free to accept or reject the idea of God based on those feelings, but the existence of God, or the non existence of God doesn't change according to our view.
It's either true or it's not.

And that's another very good question for another day.
Please leave me your thoughts, contrary or otherwise. I know you'll be amiable!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today the church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Having, until fairly recently, been standing on the other side of the theological fence, I feel sensitive to the ickiness, perplexity and even downright offence that this teaching provokes.

When I was 'away from the church' I never felt repulsed by the Marian doctrines, as I know some are. I was just completely disinterested in them. They seemed odd and irrelevant. How could we possibly know? Why did it matter?

Today I still feel surprised by how different the view looks from this new perspective.
Reflecting on my new acceptance of the authority of the church to teach ( something I have come to understand as being entirely scriptural and related to our trust in the competence of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into all truth ) the dogma of the Immaculate Conception now seems to me to be a part of the seamless theological garment which, rather than deifying Mary ( which is how it appears to some of my protestant friends) in fact upholds and emphasises the deity of Christ.

I've been thinking about Moses, who was instructed to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. And about Uzzah, whose unfortunate fate underlined the undefilable holiness of the ark of the covenant.
Anyway, while my mind is turning on these things, I'm planning to listen to this talk tonight.
The speaker is
Professor Lawrence Feingold of the Association of Hebrew Catholics and his lecture is on Mary’s Immaculate Conception and her role as the New Eve . He sounds suitably boffinaceous for bedtime listening.

On a more practical note, I've been thinking about how on earth those mummy bloggers who post delightful pictures of liturgically themed teas and arts and crafts do it. Do they have an army of domestic staff in the background doing the washing up and wiping bottoms?
I went to mass this morning with the children and we stayed for 10 minutes afterwards for adoration. The children were uncharacteristically quiet and biddable. Marie-Aibhlinn slept in the sling and Honor and Colmcille knelt in an attitude of picture postcard piety before the Blessed Sacrament.
Rather than maximising this little heavenly opportunity for personal contemplative prayer, I spent the ten minutes being fascinated by the childrens behaviour and wondering how long it would last.
After ten minutes I figured any longer would be pushing my luck so we left while the going was good.

When we came home we made some spiced biscuit dough, and a banana cake in honour of the feast day. The biscuits never actually got baked, but the dough is sitting in the fridge so we'll get round to that over the next few days. This colouring page is still in the works.
While we made eggy, floury messes in the kitchen, we listened to this:

Because of all the baking ( which,
owing to all the 'help' I have in the kitchen, always takes far longer than I ever imagine it will) supper was yesterdays leftover bolognese. None of the planned read alouds got read. Apart from a little handwriting practice and ten minutes German ( thank you Rosetta Stone) we didn't get any of the other planned home ed stuff done.
Even the laundry didn't happen until this evening after Honor went to bed. I'd love to watch a video play back of my day, because I want to see how it is possible to move around so much, and get so little actually done. I must be being uneconomical with my time somewhere. Perhaps I do need one of those home management binders that I keep reading about?

Badman review press release

On Tuesday 8th December from 6.30p.m. home educators are holding a vigil in Old
Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament.
Inside, history is being made as home educators begin to petition the House of
Commons to get rid of Clause 26 of the Children, Schools and Families bill.

More than 250 identical petitions from constituencies all over England, an
overwhelming record in parliamentary history, are to be presented to Parliament
over the next few weeks.

Under existing law, Local Authorities have powers to take action if they have
reason to believe home educated children in their area are not receiving a
suitable education, according to their age, aptitude and ability. Under section
47 of the Children Act 1989 they also have the power to intervene and gain
access to the home where there is evidence that a child is at risk of
significant harm.

However, under clause 26, the Government is seeking to dramatically extend State

· The Bill requires that all home educators apply annually for
permission to continue home educating.

· Local authorities will also to have the right to enter the residence "where
the education takes place" and potentially to interview children without the
parent present.

· Home educating parents will be required to formulate an annual
educational plan, which must be approved by the Local Authority. Parents will
then be assessed in accordance with the plan.

· Non-compliance with the demands of the Local Authority will result in a
Statutory School Order being issued.

The proposed legislation is in direct opposition to Section 7 of the Education
Act that it is the `duty of parents to secure education'. For the first time in
British legislative history, the Government will become responsible for
children's education instead of parents. This represents a fundamental shift in
power, allowing the State to intrude yet further into family life.

Currently home educating parents take full responsibility for their children's
learning, at no cost to the taxpayer. They are sensitive to the shifting
developmental needs of their children. However, the proposed legislation
threatens this educational approach, as parents who diverge from the enforced
plan will have their children forcibly sent to school.

The Government is proposing to spend £1000 per child per annum on just
monitoring each home educated child (no funds are earmarked for providing
support or improving access to services for home educated children). As there is
no evidence that this monitoring will improve
educational outcomes for children, this is an unwarranted additional expense at
a time when massive cut backs in existing services are necessary to stem
Government debt.

Radio London's Drivetime 5 -7 p.m ( GMT). will be covering the demo outside Parliament tonight and is likely to cover the political angle more.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

For my American friends

Ah, Thanksgiving. That great American holiday where scattered kinfolk trek back from the four corners of the earth to gather together at the family table and remember, um, remember... the story of Pocohontas?
No, wait, that's not it.
Hang on, don't tell me...

Naturally Thanksgiving is a strictly American tradition, and one of the few USA things that hasn't been exported around the rest of the world.
Until I started blogging all I knew about Thanksgiving I learnt from watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
If I didn't visit so many American websites and blogs, Thanksgiving would pass completely beneath my radar.

But I like reading all the enthusiastic Thanksgiving posts about what people are doing what they are planning to cook. And there is something noble and fitting about setting aside a day to remember and be thankful for the first pilgrims, what they endured and the foundations upon which America built her astonishing success.
It's good to look back and be grateful. And it occurs to me that it is not unlike a Passover meal in some respects ( always a plus in my philo semite books)
So this is just a little shout out to my yankee doodle dandies across the pond to say 'Have a good one!'
And if you need any encouragement to relax a little and not to take too seriously the business of making the day fabulous, then take a little negative inspiration from the following example.
I've seen it around the web lately. It originated on this blog and is, I believe, completely authentic, with just name changes ( although the original writer of this piece must surely know by now that her Thanksgiving epistle is famous)

From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don't feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don't care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel - please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!


Gosh Marney, I'll bet your guests can't wait.

And finally. No Thanksgiving greeting would be complete without a little piece of classic John Candy and Steve Martin. Planes Trains and Automobiles has more quotable quotes than almost any film I know. This particular excerpt has the slack jawed yokel uttering the immortal line " Her first baby... come out sideways. She didn't scream or nothing."
I can't tell you how many times that's been said around here.

For your viewing pleasure:

Monday, 23 November 2009

This was a bit weird.

When I was a student midwife, a photographer working for the BBC's photo library came to the ward looking for people willing to 'model' for her. The ward sister was in no mood to be photographed. I think she was having a 'bad hair' day, or a 'fat' day or something, but she didn't want to turn this photographer away.
So, the job of posing with a baby, posing with a colleague and posing with a new mother pretending to plump up her pillow and laughing carelessly at some fake conversation we were having, fell to yours truly.
I never saw the photos, and I never thought about them again. Until about five years later when someone phoned me all excited having seen me on the news. I was all ears naturally, because it's not every day one gets to be on the telly. But I was totally baffled when she explained that it was a news item about an NHS pay dispute and mine (
mine!) was the chosen image of NHS champion, neat as ninepence in stripes and a petersham belt, selflessly ministering to the patient and generally oozing the sort of goodness that deserves a payrise.
It's not all cake when you're really really ridiculously good looking.

Honestly, it had me going for a while until I remembered having those photos taken.

Then last week a friend who emigrated to the States about 10 years ago sent me an email saying:

"I hope you got paid for this"

That was all she said. She doesn't go in for alot of words. I thought "Huh?". I do wish she wasn't so attached to extreme brevity.

Attached was a news item in the Times online about education. And there, in the body of the article was a picture of this kid, looking positively nerdily neat in his school uniform. Holding a pen and appearing to be paying close attention to the (out of shot) teacher.
He looked like a 'Back To School' advert. All ship shape and bristol fashion.
"What a boffin!" I thought "That kid is just begging to have his tie yanked and his lunch money nicked."
But wait a minute. I recognised that boy, and unless I gave birth 15 years ago to identical twins one of whom was snatched at birth and raised by a family of very neat people, that kid in the picture was my son Dominic. After a boffinaceous makeover, naturally.

Funnily enough, my husband didn't think it was him, just a very neat and tidy boy who looked very similar. Like Uday Hussein's body double.

I was scratching my head, and ready to raise cain with The Times who had
clearly photo shopped my sons head into a school uniform catalogue!

Then Dominic came downstairs, having been persuaded out of his long-hot-reading-a-book-and-relaxing-for-hours bath, by the commotion of a younger brother banging on the door and telling him that he was famous. He was as confused as the rest of us at first. Then the mist cleared.
Turns out it was all legit after all. A few years back a friends photographer husband had asked Dominic to do a few sessions for him and I dimly remember signing a photo library release. We got a nice photo of him all muddied up playing fake rugby in a studio and he got a bit of money.
It seems he modelled lots of other looks too, one of which was the studious tidy boy who brings the teacher an apple and gets duffed up at playtime ( I jest, but Dominic will be reading this so I can't say anything too soppy)
Actually, he was a very cute kid. Still is. Only now that dimpled chin is starting to get a little bristly. How did that happen?

(And what were the chances of my friend In the US coming across that?)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Eureka! (Finally)

I know, I know. Don't say anything, I feel bad.

Instead of blogging I've been spending a lot of time gazing mistily at this picture of sweetness...and wondering...what the heck her name is!!
Before she was born, we had names sorted, believe it or not.
A boy would have been Peter Patrick or Patrick Peter ( for my late uncle and of course my husband and all the multitudes of Paddys in our family)
For a girl, I was quite determined to call her Edith Benedicta Teresa, for St Teresa Benedicta of the cross
Edith Stein was beautiful and brilliant as well as saintly. And Jewish of course, which is almost as good as being Irish.

I'm really drawn to all the Teresa's. The three carmelite ones and Mother Teresa. So I kind of wanted to work something Teresian in there.
So at first she was Edith. But calling her Edith didn't work. It's rather Teutonic as names go. It doesn't seem to fit with our line up.
Then my uncle Seamus suggested Blathin. You have to hear it said, it sounds prettier than it looks. It means 'little flower' so that would have been a neat association with St Therese.
That was vetoed pretty quickly by the big fellas in the house who just didn't like it at all.

So then we spent a while calling her Marie-Clare. But that's the name of a magazine here, so after a few days she became Mary-Clare. ( She was born on the 13th October, a Fatima date, so we were had been thinking of working Mary or Lucia in there)

My husband had been tossing Aibhlinn around for a while, but I wasn't convinced. It was a name that we had considered before when we were expecting the twins. It's a soft, pretty name.
In Irish the 'bh ' is said as a 'v' ( like 'Siobhan') so the name is said 'Ave lin'.
It means 'longed for child' which is apposite. But I really wanted a saints name so that, like all the others, she could have a feast day. And there isn't a saint Aibhlinn ( or Evelyn which I think is the English equivalent).
Eventually we decided to give her a double barrelled first name and after calling her Mary-Aibhlinn for a bit, we finally settled on Marie-Aibhlinn ( the 'Marie' is said as 'marry' as in Marianne or Marie-louise)
We kept it quiet for a bit though, because having called her Edith and then Mary-Clare, it took a little adjustment to get used to calling her Marie-Aibhlinn.
I didn't want to post her name only to change it again.
So I just laid doggo for a bit while the name grew on me.
Now I just love it. Her name fits her in a way that the others didn't.

And in a fit of name greed, we gave her a double barreled second name too. After all, if long, impossible to remember names are good enough for the crowned heads of Europe, then they are good enough for Her Majesty the Baby.
So now she rejoices in being called Marie-Aibhlinn Teresa Benedicta.
But we'll probably be calling her some silly pet name or other eventually, we always do.

Goodness. I feel like I've blethered on far too long here about the name choosing process, but really, I never imagined it would take this long.
I'm sorry to have left you all in suspenders, but it was bad enough having to tell my parents a new name to call her every few days without having to re announce her name to blogsville too.

Now we have to go and register her.

And as a post script, and for no reason at all other than to please Honor who loves it when she sees photos of herself in one of her many hats ( she wears them indoors and sometimes more than two at a time) here is Honor in a hat:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A somewhat belated introduction

Just coming out of my baby bubble to introduce our little daughter.
Born at 14.10hrs on the 13th October. She's a dainty little thing and weighed in at 5lb 14.5 oz ( 2.680 kg).
Healthy and well. Thanks be to God!

The past week has been one of cosy seclusion. It's hard to describe how awed I feel without getting terribly profound. I look at her and my throat gets tight and another big fat tear starts to roll down my cheek.
It must be love. And it feels like healing too, like a warm compress on a chronic ache.

Before she was born we had narrowed down name choices to a couple of favourites, but now she is here those names don't seem to fit.
I am praying for divine inspiration because I know she has a name.I just don't know what it is yet.

This poem is from my little book of quotes. When I was 15 and rather romantically inclined, I kept a little notebook and jotted down anything that I found beautiful. Sometimes it was a line out of a film or a book. Sometimes it was something funny that a friend said. There are lots of poems in there and this is one of them.
I think it's very apposite right now.

My Baby Has No Name Yet

My baby has no name yet;
like a new-born chick or a puppy,
my baby is
not named yet.
What numberless texts I examined
at dawn and night and evening over again!
But not one character did I find
which is as lovely as the child.

Starry field of the sky,
or heap of pearls in the depth.
Where can the name be found, how can I?

My baby has no name yet;
like an unnamed bluebird or white flowers
from the farthest land to the first,
I have no name for this baby of ours.

Kim Nam-jo
(trans from Korean by Ko Won)

Many thanks to my communications secretary for putting the birth announcement on her blog while I was out of commission.)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Pregnancy diary 38 weeks.

Pics taken on oldest sons mobile phone and emailed to me. I wish he'd told me to do something with my hair, I'd forgotten I'd pulled it back like that. Sons are, sadly, pretty rubbish at 'styling' photos. I'd also woken up with a 'morning headache' which always gives me a somewhat wan appearance.

Anyway, I just wanted a record of the bump before it's gone. I'm always a bit surprised to see myself in photos because I feel gargantuan, and I'm now staggering around with a bocky pelvis that feels like a wobbly jigsaw ( in addition to my varicose veins).
Then I see myself in profile and think "Is that it?".
Everything else is holding up pretty well, but I seem to have got some very old ladys legs by mistake.

Anyway, by tomorrow midday all being well, I will have a baby in my arms rather than my pelvis. No idea if it's a Paddy or a Bridget ( no, we haven't chosen names yet, they are just the current 'pet' names) but whatever variety, I can't wait to meet this most precious little person.

I'll be out of commision for a few days, and I can't ask husband dear to do blog duty amongst his other jobs keeping the domestic ship afloat. So if you're interested, head over to Elizabeths blog where she will do the bloggy birth announcement thing on my behalf.

And now. I must away to bed. Early start tomorrow, and a big day ahead.
Prayer from those of you that are the praying sort would be much appreciated.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Europe really, really, like, 'hearts' Obama

And in recognition of his, um, being not George W Bush ( Distinctive: Obama being for world peace, Bush being, like, y'know, against. Obviously ) he has been awarded the Nobel peace prize!
Which, in fairness, he probably ought to share with every Miss World contestant who has ever espoused the same desire for an end to, like, fighting, and hate and bad stuff like that.

I was on the fence about global harmony, I could see both sides of the argument. But I'm really starting to come round to Obamas way of thinking.

I broke up an argument between my 6 year old and my 11 year old today, and I got them to sit down and
listen to eachother( and me LOL!) . I said

"Guys, it's all about respect. Things may seem broken, and you may wonder if we can fix it, but today, I believe that together, we are able to say, in the spirit of Bob the Builder, 'Yes! Yes, we can!' "

My gift for oratory and rhetoric was a bit lost on the little savages, but it's a start.

Oh and, I can count on one hand the number of times I've smacked botties, let alone waterboarded
any of them ( a practice that has always been strictly verboten in this house)

And even though I have owned a pair of cowboy boots, they came from Faith shoes on Oxford street and weren't the real article. Furthermore I've
never worn them at the same time as I've worn my cowboy hat (TopShop). And I wouldn't know an oil well if I fell into one.
So I'm definately nothing like Dubya.
So can I be in the running for the peace prize too?
(Not that it matters, but does the winner get a million dollars, or is it pounds? Either way, it'll more than cover my bathroom remodelling budget. And there's bound to be
some left over for charity)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

7 Quick(ish) Takes


I love to use up leftover food and make something really tasty. It's a particularly satisfying and delicious frugal thrill.
This week, sitting in the fridge, I had the cold and fatty remains of a roasted shoulder of lamb and a dish with a couple of servings worth of tomato and lentil soup.
A couple of onions, a tin of tomatoes and some curry paste later, et...voila! Delicious frugal lamb and lentil curry.


13th Oct. is D day.
Last week I saw the doctor. They don't want me to go much past 38 weeks and so they want to deliver me either by induction of labour, or planned section.
I do labour pretty well as a rule, and odds on, it wouldn't take much to get me going. But...she explained that they would, in view of my history, have a very low threshold for intervening and doing an emergency section if things didn't all progress very smoothly. The prospect of a very 'managed' induction with all the high tech bells and whistles is so very different to the midwife led homebirths I have had in the past ( pre twins that is) Even now, the thought of listening to the fetal heart being continuously monitored gives me palpitations. I'm such a worry guts now. Having had something actually 'go wrong' has rather played havoc with my usual Pollyanna ish optimism.
I just want to have this baby lifted out, like the finest Dresden china, and handed to me.
So that is what is happening on Tuesday next week. Kinda weird to have it all mapped out like that, but a huge relief also.


So. With that decision made, I'm now in full on organising/nesting mode.
I am the grim reaper of clutter, the merciless, all conquering nemesis of 'stuff'.
The local charity shops are fairly packed to the gunwales with the fruits of my scorched earth clear out.
Jobs still outstanding include washing the baby clothes in fragrant Fairy non bio (I have found all the little gowns, but no vests. Odd. I know I put them somewhere. I will have to buy some more tomorrow.)
I have the car seat.
I'm borrowing a co sleeper cot from Elizabeth.
Need to get a newborn insert for Ergo carrier.
Oh, and nappies.


I've cancelled our Farmaround delivery for the next four weeks. I think my husband will have enough to do without figuring out what to do with rainbow chard and marrow.
Pizza and bagged salad will be fine for a bit.


Bathroom. We are in the middle of re modelling it. Which is a bijou fly in the ointment of baby readiness.
I'm taking it in my stride however. We always manage to have some ongoing building work when I'm expecting, and this time is no exception. It's all taking shape nicely and I'm giving myself a little credit for being more grateful than impatient. In the past I've indulged a pretty bad attitude to home improvements that don't progress as quickly as I would like.
I think I might be growing up.


My friend Nora came round on Sunday and stayed for 2 nights. She told me to 'line up some jobs', so I did. Long story short, she radically transformed my front garden. Weeds gone, all the leggy stuff cut right back. Lavender and hebe planted along the front path ( I love to brush against lavender when I'm going up to the front door) Spring bulbs hidden in the mud waiting to make their glorious debut come March.
And a clematis potted against the trellis beside the front door.
That is what I call a friend.
Oh and she also helped me to clear out 3 huge Ikea bags worth of books. My bookshelves look much clearer, and it feels like another little victory in the ongoing rear guard action against 'dross lit'.


I had written a seventh quick take about my uncle Peter, but it turned into a longish take about my other uncles too.
I think I'm going to keep that for a separate post all by itself.

(The home of quick takes is here.)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

It's hard to believe he's gone

My uncle Peter died on Friday 2nd October, the feast of the guardian angels.

He had been unwell, but the end came very suddenly. I had been communicating with him by text and he had been quite chatty in his responses. Suddenly he lapsed into unconsciousness on the Feast of Saint Therese to whom I had been praying a novena for Peter, which had ended only the day before.

Below is the death notice from the Meath Chronicle.

In 1969 he gave his whole life to God and was ordained a priest. He was truly a man of God.

May the Lord of mercy welcome his beautiful soul into his heavenly reward.

My father is over in Ireland now, in Peters house, where in the company of his brothers and sisters they will stay with the body until the funeral on Monday, at which my uncle Fr Seamus will preach the homily. I wish I could be there, but I can't travel at this stage in my pregnancy.

Please pray.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May Fr Peters soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Published: Friday, 2nd October, 2009 6:22pm

Death of Fr Peter Mulvany, PP of Moynalvey and Kiltale

Image related to story 391675, see caption or article text
The late Fr Peter Mulvany.

The death occurred on Friday morning, 2nd October, of Father Peter Mulvany, parish priest of Moynalvey, after a long illness.

Fr Mulvany was parish priest of Moynalvey and Kiltale since 2001.

Father Mulvany is reposing in the Parochial House, Moynalvey from Saturday 3rd October from 4pm to 10pm. Removal of remains from the Parochial House on Sunday at 6.30pm to the Church of the Nativitiy, Moynalvey arriving at 7pm.

The funeral Mass is at 12 noon on Monday with burial afterwards in Church grounds. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Michael Smith and the homily will be preached by Father Seamus Mulvany, parish priest of Glasson, Co Westmeath, brother of the deceased.

Bishop Smith has conveyed his deep sympathies to Father Seamus Mulvany, the members of the Mulvany family and the parishioners of Moynalvey and Kiltale.

Born in Wilkinstown, Father Peter Mulvany was educated at the local National School, St Finian's College and St Columban's, Dalgan Park. He was ordained on 22 December 1969 and served on the Korean mission until 1983. Father Mulvany was involved in mission education in Ireland until 1985 and parish work in Ballymun, Dublin until 1990. Following his appointment as curate in Navan in 1990, he was incardinated into the Diocese of Meath in February 1992 and became Administrator of St. Mary's, Navan in 1993. He was appointed Parish Priest of Moynalvey in August 2001.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Feast of the Archangels

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael pray for us!

Dear Gabriel
Next year, please God, we will celebrate your feast day more fittingly.
This year however, I thank you for bearing with your mothers weariness.
She feels like a champion when she manages to get supper on the table and keep the laundry situation under some control. These days, the mere basics of daily life are about all she can acheive without becoming truly overwhelmed and frazzled. And as you are aware, frazzled mother is no fun at all.

I hope you enjoyed your chocolate cake as some small nod in recognition of this day.

Your name, as you know, means 'God is my strength'. My prayer for you, is that you always know the wonderful truth of these words.

How very appropriate, at this time of waiting to welcome our newest little soul, that your angel is, among other things, the patron saint of childbirth.
His salutation to the Blessed Virgin, Hail full of grace... has become our familiar prayer.
How strange that must have seemed when those words were first uttered.
Our Ladys 'Yes' was an act of trust in God that truly ensured that ALL generations would call her Blessed.
Lets pray for the courage to not be afraid of the plans God has for us, and for the security of knowing that He is our strength.

Perhaps, in honour of your patron, we could try to pray the Angelus?

And lets not forget the other two archangels who share this feast day.

Here is the prayer to Saint Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle! Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
And here is some information about where that prayer came from.

And you can read the story about the Angel Raphael and Tobias in the book of Tobit.

Take a look here.

Lastly, here are some beautiful images by artists ancient and modern who have been inspired by the story of the Annunciation.

By Henry Ossawa Tanner ( 1898)

By John Collier

By Sandro Botticelli

By Fra Angelico

Next year, we'll try to do this, and perhaps this, and maybe some of this.
Until then, thank you for your sweet, good natured patience.
With love and squeezes
Mummy x

Friday, 25 September 2009

7 Quick Takes


Having a multi generational family is the coolest thing ever. I hadn't anticipated this back when I started out having babies. I couldn't imagine having teenagers and babies. Well, I probably just couldn't imagine having teenagers!
Now I think the combination of teenagers and babies is utterly perfect. For parents, for the babies and for the teenagers. It's win win win.

Here's why:


It was Honors birthday on the 18th September.
Goodness me, time flies. How she has grown.

It was a bittersweet day however. I'm hoping that future birthdays won't be so laden with complex emotions as this one was.

I do think that being almost exactly as pregnant as I was when she was born, and Olivia died, has brought those memories into much sharper focus.
I Cried alot remembering the mixed emotions of this day:

And this:

And then I woke up at 3am with a cracking headache and a paralysing attack of night terrors that something would go wrong this time too.

There were very lovely moments too though. We are so grateful to have Honor, and I don't want her birthday to be overshadowed with loss. In reality, nothing is lost. There was no mistake.
With God, death is not a disaster. Olivia is gloriously
But I miss her and sometimes I sigh and wonder, if she was here...
Most of the time though, I am busy enough living in the present moment.
And there is so much sweetness in that.


In my slightly crocked condition ( both emotionally and physically) it was probably very optimistic to imagine that I could turn out a fabulous blogworthy cake.
This was Honors birthday cakewreck:

It collapsed when I opened the oven too early and, well, it all went down hill from there.
My friend said that the collapse was so perfect that it made the cake look like a nest, so I threw some blueberries in there, and then squeezed some lurid pink icing around haphazardly, and then...actually then I started crying again.
Pregnancy hormones are potent and not to be trifled with.


Changing tempo...

A childrens 'hymn' to the President. Is this sweet, or is it creepy?

I have seen this on a few blogs lately ( Mama Says and MommyLife) and wanted to air it here. I found the almost verbatim lifting of some of the lyrics of that old childrens hymn 'Jesus Loves The Little Children' rather, um, 'icky'.


"Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight."

He said red, yellow, black or white All are equal in his sight"

Depending on your perspective, I suppose this will either make you go "ahh" or "ew".

Come to think of it, I've never liked that old childrens hymn either.

But the slightly 'Obama Messiah' flavour of the lyrics reminded me of this:

Who buys this stuff?


And just to show how much more sage and deep our political take here in the UK is, here is Hip Hopper Dizzy Rascals thoughts on the election of TFBPOTUSA*.

(*The First Black President Of The USA)


Since I'm on a bit of a political roll , here's a video I saw on MommyLife that I wanted to show my children. It's a commentary on the 'branding' of the American President.

I found the observation about the ubiquitous 'O' really interesting. That 'O' is everywhere. Still. And it is, to me at least, somewhat redolent of those regimes whose objective is to imprint the lordship of the Dear Leader deep in the psyche of an acquiescent populace.

Personally, I was very enthusiastic about Obama when he first came to international attention as a contender for the US top slot.

That waned pretty quickly when I realised how manipulative the whole business of image making is. And the extent to which it seemed Obama had become a brand.


I feel we have been here before, to a lesser extent, with Tony Blairs administration which also sang the 'Hope and change' theme, but to the the of 'Things Can Only Get Better''.

Back then, it lifted my heart. These days, I'm a little more jaded.

( "Quick Takes" LOL! If you want actual Quick takes visit Conversion Diary)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Pregnancy diary 35 weeks

I am totally bored stupid with my wardrobe now. As far as my 'look' is concerned, I've got to the past caring stage. I can still wear some clothes, like this blouse, which are not officially 'maternity', but capacious enough that I don't look poured into them.

The white belly band I am wearing in ths picture, was loaned to me by Elizabeth and has been a brilliant little prop, enabling me to wear tops that would otherwise stop short of decent belly coverage. Also, lots of maternity trousers, like the ones that I'm wearing here, seem to be cut very low on the hips, and I'm of the opinion that showing my knickers to the boys is a sartorial no no. So the belly band, which looks a bit like I'm wearing a t shirt under my blouse, has been a wardrobe staple lately.

Not long to go now. But I'm itching for the moment when my dress choices are no longer dictated solely by comfort and modesty. I'm starting to understand why the elderly ( probably grudgingly) settle for zip up crimpolene dresses and velcro slippers.

I imagine that as soon as I get the chance. I'll be hitting the shops, hyperventilating, salivating and nostrils flaring, like Homer Simpson in a doughnut factory.

"Mmmmm... pea green skirt...we were made for eachother!"

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The "little flower" visits England.

Looking ahead to the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux to England and Wales from Catholic Church (England/Wales) on Vimeo.

The relics of Saint Therese have arrived in England!
The secular press have been unusually attentive to this event, and there has been some interesting reportage, devoid of the usual sneering one has come to expect.
The BBC covered the arrival of the relics here.
Here's an article in The Times about the arrival of the relics. Here is another one briefly explaining a little background to the Catholic interest in saintly relics.
And here is an account by Mary Kenny describing her observations of the very human yearning to "touch the supernatural" . She recounts how, when the saints bones toured Ireland a few years ago, the post modern cynicism of many of her countrymen was swept away. I seem to remember reading that three quarters of the entire population turned out to visit the relics.

Here is the website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, which covers it very well.

I am very much hoping to go, although I am expecting to be taken in to have this baby a couple of weeks before my due date. That will be around the 9th or 10th. Her relics arrive in London on the 12th. The timing, from my point of view, could hardly be worse. But we'll see. I'm asking her to pray for me, and for England.