Sunday, 24 October 2010

( Backing Up) My Daddy Taught Me Good!

I can relate to this lady.
Although I've never been interviewed by the press after a robbery, I think this is how I might tell the tale:

 I'm not sure how they made a song out of it, but it's catchy:

HT: Creative Minority Report.

Friday, 22 October 2010

40 Days For Life in London

This post was originally part of a 7Quick Takes, but I gave it a post of it's own when I re read it and realised that it was too long and didn't really belong there.

Never a dull moment.
Outside the Marie Stopes clinic again yesterday with the children when a Volvo estate drew up alongside us. The window lowered and the smart looking lady driver, addressed Colmcille in clipped tones "Where's your mother?" I responded with a slightly wary, stiff smile that she was standing right beside him.
Without missing a beat, or acknowledging me at all, the driver continued to address him. Gimlet eyed she leaned out of her window glaring at him "Do you know what that means?" ( I presume she was referring to the sign which said "Pray to end abortion".)

  I stepped forward to her car to answer her, and to deflect her attention from Colmcille, but she leaned past me and said again to him, this time in a louder voice "How old are you?"
And then again, in a voice that was growing more shrill " Do you know what that means?".  despite the twinset and pearls and the Volvo estate, it was pretty clear to me that some violent emotions were simmering below the surface that could just bust out at any time. This is where a little experience both in A&E and on Labour ward came in handy. You meet a lot of people on the edge there.

Mindful of the old adage of a soft word turning away wrath, and not wanting an exchange to get out of control, especially infront of the children, I kept my voice as quiet and steady as I could manage.
I told her that I would answer her question but that she mustn't address him please. She responded that in bringing my son with me I had made him a "public voice".  I repeated that he was no such thing and that she was absolutely not to speak to him, that her tone was hostile and I would answer any questions she wanted to ask. She snapped back that she was a mother and knew how to speak to children ( I mentally congratulated myself for not rolling my eyes at this). I noticed she had a sleeping toddler in a car seat in the back of the car.
This time she craned her neck out of the window and shouted at him "How old are you?"
Poor Colmcille. He had immediately perceived that this was a mean and angry lady from the outset and was consequently, and quite sensibly, saying nothing. I turned to him and told him that I would answer this lady's questions and that he was quite right not to say anything at all.
Every time I tried to respond to her, she would shout me down with a new accusation. Each time she did that I stopped talking and waited for her to finish. After this had happened four or five times I asked her if she wanted to hear my answer because I was having a hard time finishing a sentence owing to the fact that she kept interrupting me. At this she appeared shocked and said "Oh you're rude! You're not setting a very good example for this..." she waved her hand at the three people standing on the pavement praying the Stations of The Cross and searched for the right term " this...cause" She dropped that word out of her mouth as though she was spitting out something nasty she just ate.

Much of her objection seemed to centre on what she saw as my "brainwashing" of my son, and "using him" to "push my own agenda" on people. I explained, at least when she wasn't talking over me I tried to explain, that I believe that it is a parents vital function to pass on their values to their children. And that among our most cherished values is the passionate belief that all human life is most precious and worth defending.I also tried to explain to her that I believe it is possible to be truthful in what we say to our children about sensitive or "adult" matters, without giving them the whole unvarnished facts.
I think "appropriate" is the word here.
So he knows that when we are talking about abortion we are talking about mothers who, for whatever reason, are scared and feel unable to cope with having a baby ( and by the way, I think there are many good reasons for feeling scared and unable to cope and I don't minimise that one bit. These mothers should never be caricatured as heartless or cold)  So I haven't explained the full meaning of abortion, the heartbreaking reality that it kills a baby before it is born and the various means by which this is done. And I would have tried to explain this to her. But she really didn't hear me, and she wasn't prepared to listen anyway.

At some point during our fruitless exchange a couple of cars were backed up behind her and she needed to move off. "I'm aborting you" she snapped as the window slid up and she moved off.
After she had gone, the other three, who had been quietly continuing to pray, were very kind and encouraging and commended me for having  remained calm during the exchange. I was glad that they had stayed out of it rather than being tempted to chime in .
I was pleased with the way I had managed to respond to her, in as much as I hadn't lost my temper or said anything that I regretted, but I was surprised  that I was a bit shaken inside.

The week before a man on a Boris bike had come past and sounded off at me for the "immorality" of taking children along to the vigil ( at that time I only had that baby and the toddler so they weren't really aware of what he was saying)
He was incensed at the presence of pro lifers outside the clinic and ranted, mostly pretty incoherently, about everything from the catholic church to paedophilia to homophobia. Myself and another chap answered all his questions and responded to  many of his allegations, and when he'd had enough he pointed to each of us in turn and gave us his expert diagnosis: "You're a f***ing idiot, and you're a f***ing idiot" and so on, until he got to me and said "and YOU, you're a f***ing immoral, irresponsible idiot".
It was oddly satisfying to be singled out for a little extra abuse.
And with that he jumped on his bike and cycled off, and with a final flourish he showed us all the finger and shouted over his shoulder "You're all f***ing lunatic idiots!"
And the funny thing is, that hadn't bothered me at all. In fact it was quite invigorating.
But this woman was different.

And 20 minutes later she came back.
The window drew down and she said to me, this time with a taut smile "I just want to let you know that I'm reporting you to child protection".
There was a pregnant pause as we regarded eachother. At this point my impulse was to giggle, because honestly, it was such an absurd threat, but when I did find my voice, I confined myself to saying, with a straight face " How are you going to do that? You don't know who I am"
To which she responded seriously, as she indicated down the street "My friend took your photograph".
I half imagined La Femme Nikita was out there in the shadows, observing us from behind a telephoto lens
 Perhaps I was meant to believe  that even as we spoke, an All Ports Alert had been issued with my photograph attached. " Mother forcing her incorrect views on her child! If you see her do not approach!".

As one of the others observed afterwards, it seems that we are expected to keep our children as empty, value free vessels for the state to fill up as the culture dictates. Parents values = "evil brainwashing".

7 Quick Takes


I excised  Quick Take number one because it was too long to be a Quick Take.
If you want to read it go here!


I found this video for childen about the Fatima story and  wanted to keep it somewhere so that I could show it to the children later. So I thought I'd put it on my blog since it's the best way of ensuring that I'll be able to find it again. Please ignore ( unless a cartoon of the Fatima story is your kind of thing! )


My son showed me this. For some reason the last line just cracks me up. It's the sort of thing a 3 year old would say.


This is something to keep you ( or the children)  fascinated for hours:
World clock
A friend sent it to me. Here's what he says:
"Not only does it tell the exact time anywhere in the world but also thousands of other bits of information based on right now. The more you check through and analyse all of the info available the more absorbing it becomes.
It updates information automatically every fraction of a second and runs on a yearly, monthly, weekly or daily basis covering not just time anywhere in the world but also things like births, deaths ( + cause ) , cereal crops grown, cars and bicycle built, no of spam mails sent worldwide, Nigerian scam mails (an interesting one to include) crimes and types of in the US etc etc etc
Once you have exhausted all of the buttons on the front page make a click just to the right of the arrow bottom left and a new page opens with further icons along the top.
Clicking on ALL APPS opens a whole raft of more specific ones including on page 3 a page for the number of deaths in the Holocaust  by this date in October in 1944.
An interesting, and very telling and sad one is to compare the number of deaths from war since Jan 1st 2010 with the number of abortions and suicides
Glancing just now I could see
WAR                  146,000
DROWNING     309,000
SUICIDE           674,000
ABORTION       33million 200,000 " 


My friends 15 year old daughter has had enough of the aggressively sexualised images that clothing companies use to market their brand at her and her friends. 
Jack Wills have attracted some controversy in the past over their use of partial nudity ( and smoking, although personally that's the least of my worries) in their seasonal "handbooks". 
They have rather cynically found a way around this by requiring customers to be 18 or over to be able to sign up to recieve the handbook. Of course this in no way means that the handbook won't find it's way into the hands of fashion conscious, cool hunting young tweens and in fact  increases it's allure for them. 
This makes them cynically manipulative gits in my opinion.
Here's Veronicas letter:

Dear Sir/Madam
      Honestly, I have so far been a fond buyer of your “fabulously British” clothes. Yet receiving the termly handbook brings me to a dilemma as to whether I should continue to support your stores. The advertisements you produce, especially in this Autumn Handbook 2010, seems far too shallow for the expensive smart clothing you produce. Is it really necessary for you to publish such explicit and Graphic imagery of two almost nude youths in bed or two young women passionately kissing? I personally do not give these images any artistic merit as these images are close to pornographic, involving as they do, highly sexualised scenes. You should consider that young girls read these handbooks.
I wonder what your intention is in encouraging young girls to see such sexualised images; and this at a time where paedophilia seems to be the worst of all crimes. Your implicit claim that these images are “Fabulously British” and something to aspire to is offensive to the patriots!
     I would be more likely to purchase from Jack Wills again if I were not concerned that I might be supporting such cheap and shallow minded imagery.
    Yours Faithfully

Good for her!

Two very good articles on contraception this week in the blogosphere.
This one,which I came across over here.
And this one over at the always readable and thought provoking Conversion Diary.
Here's a teaser:
When people see me out and about with my four young children, one of the most common questions I get is, “Do you want more?” (Or, more accurately, “DO YOU WANT MORE?!?!?!?!“)
I’m never sure what to say. “Yes” doesn’t sound quite right. Our fourth baby in four-and-a-half years is only eighteen months old, so I can’t say that I’ve spent a lot of time yearning for another baby lately. In fact, I’ve never really been a baby person. I’ve never had that moment other women talk about of holding a newborn and thinking, “Oh, I want one!” On the other hand, “no” doesn’t encapsulate what I’m feeling either.
I’ve thought about this a lot over that past few months, and I eventually realized that I have such a hard time coming up with the answer simply because it’s not the right question. Here’s why:
6 reasons why “Do you want more?” isn’t the right question
1. It’s not all about me
When I used to think about pregnancy and babies, I wouldn’t think a whole lot further than the first couple years of new life and how it would impact me. My first thoughts would be along the lines of, “But I don’t feel like being pregnant!” or “I don’t want to deal with all the work of the baby period!”
Thanks in part to my conversion and in part to watching my children grow, I’ve since had the epiphany of realizing that those high-maintenance pregnancies and fussy newborns are actual human beings! I know this sounds crazy, but I had a total mental disconnect where I kind of forgot that all the adults I know and love were once fetuses and newborns themselves. I hadn’t internalized the fact that a new pregnancy will lead to a full human being, just like me. Now that I get it, when I evaluate when and if to have more children, I try to remember to consider the life of the potential new man or woman as much as I consider his or her impact on my own life.
2. It’s not all about what I want
One of the biggest revelations of my conversion was this:
Doing what I want ≠ Happiness
All my life I thought that if I could just spend enough time meditating on what I feel like doing and then amass enough control over my life to go do it, I’d finally have lasting happiness. I was shocked when I found out that that assumption was wrong. I was more shocked when I realized what is the path to lasting happiness: serving others.
I used to think that if I could just hurry up and stop having kids so that I could get back to living “my” life, I’d be happy. Now I see that, not only is serving others the right thing to do, but it’s the only path to joy and peace. So the ideas of not having more children vs. having more children aren’t all that different: either way, I’ll be sacrificing and serving.

It's a great piece. I really recommend clicking over and reading the rest over at Jens blog.
I thought this was funny. A friend of mine ( the same one that sent me the clock) recieved this unsolicited email from someone rejoicing in a most beautifully apt name:

How are you today, I hope all is well with you .I am sorry to worry you with my Proposal for a relationship with you, but I know that you will grant my request in good sense and understanding, My name is miss Shady I saw your contact today in the internet forum site and became interested in you, I will also like to know more about you. I’m hoping to hear from you soon so that I can send you more details about my self including my picture. I believe we can move from here. Bear in mind that friendship and Love has no colors barrier, no educational back ground barrier, no social-economic barrier, religious, language, nationality or distance barrier, the only important thing there is love.

Yours Sincerely

OK. I  totally realise that I am incapable of making my takes "quick".
Mea culpa.
To see  Quick Takes  properly done, go here.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

On my mind

I'm heading out of the door shortly, and so in haste. But if anyone passes this way please, go here.
Pray for this little boy and his mother.

Little baby James Fulton is on my mind a lot lately, especially when I get a quiet thinking moment here.
His mummy is a weary, anxious champion.
It's hard to trust when we are afraid and tired.

  When I was afraid and tired I sat down on the battlefield, complained a lot, and let the tanks roll on over me.
It's pretty crushing
That's all.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My smiling and beguiling one.

 Marie Aibhlinn was a year old on the 13th of October.

For a whole year our family has revelled once again in the special sweetness a new baby brings to the home.
My dear ones, my darling ones, my smiling and beguiling ones.
How much I love them all.
To live this life, with these people, is such an incredible gift. My heart is so full I can feel it. It sometimes feels as though it might burst .
My husband and children are an immense blessing.
I know God has been kind to me.

Another birthday.

Observant Catholic apparitionistas will recognise the 13th of October as as the anniversary of the day on which the sun danced and spun in the sky at Fatima in 1917.
An auspicious date on which to celebrate the anniversary of our own little darling ray of sunshine.
Inspired by this post at Catholic Cuisine, I made my own version of a spinning sun cake:
 It's not easy to see the icing in this picture, but there were psychedelic swirls of acid lemon and orange in the buttercream.
And for extra razzle dazzle I put a sparkler in the middle along with the candle.


Always safety conscious, Pat was worried that an enthusiastic little hand might reach out to grab the sparkler so he made everyone stand back.


Honor wanted another blow at the candle (  Marie-Aibhlinn wasn't keen on going anywhere near the cake after the mini fireworks display)

 And we sing another chorus of "Happy Birthday!"
Cheers and applause, slices of cake, lots of jammy crumby messes around the high chair and on faces, slightly queasy full up tummies and happy hearts. Bathtime, teeth and pyjamas. Sleepyheads carried and chivvied to bed.
Simple birthdays at home are the stuff of beautiful memories.

She's my dear my darling one 
Her eyes so sparkling, full of fun

No other, no other, is like the likes of her

Oh she's my dear my darling one
My smiling and beguiling one

I love the ground she crawls upon

My darling Irish girl

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Marie Stopes: No Children Allowed

The children and I went again to the prayer vigil outside Marie Stopes House. 
I had been thinking about how to explain the purpose of our trip to Colmcille ,who is old enough to read the signs, but too young I feel, to need to understand what it really means.
He is a very innocent and optimistic child  and I  want to protect that while I can. So I just explained that some mummies are very scared when they find out that they are having a baby and worry that they won't be able to cope.
When we pray to end abortion, we are praying for all those mummies and their babies.
Initially, because I was concerned about offending his innocence, I was undecided about taking him along, But I became very determined to attend these vigils with the children when I can because I think the sight of children is a strong rebuke to the culture of death.  And also I think it is very encouraging to other pro lifers to have mothers and children join them.
The parish Priest of my local church told me that when he attended the vigil a man turned up with his pregnant wife and young child. He was quite adamant that this new pregnancy should not continue. It seems that when the wife went in for her appointment, the husband was asked to wait outside the clinic with the child.
  Whilst he was waiting on the pavement Fr. John managed to have a conversation with him. He pointed out to him that it was unusual treatment to ask a husband and child to wait outside in the street whilst the mother is being seen. Ordinarily the person accompanying the woman would at least expect to be able to wait somewhere inside, and little comforts might be provided, like toys for the children.
But this is an establishment where the visible presence of children is an unwelcome and discomfiting reminder of the nature of their business.
This struck a chord with the husband who agreed with Fr John's observation.

When I heard this I became determined to attend the vigil when I can with the children.
Although the older ones are at school during the day , I home educate the youngers, so it's reasonably easy, in theory, to find a bit of time to go up there.
The tricky bit is going on the underground. I think next time I'm going to go to Tottenham Court Rd and walk. It's further away, but at least I could get straight there without having to change lines.
But whenever we've gone it's been fine. Colmcille pushes Honor up and down the road in her buggy holding a little 40 Days For Life sign over his head. I manage with Marie-Aibhlinn in the sling. Passers by smile at them. We get doughnuts on the way home.
(These photos were emailed to me by Claz , an enthusiastic young catholic who also blogs. Nice to meet you Claz!   ). 
Last time I was there I agreed to be interviewed by Greg Clovis for EWTN.  I'm eyeing the pro life websites a little trepidatiously in case I see myself, but nothings come up yet.  Perhaps they won't even use it. 
At one point while I was talking on camera, I gestured dramatically with my hand to the clinic over the road, just as a man came past me with his takeaway coffee and sandwiches. I half walloped him, but he ducked like a ninja without spilling his coffee.
That little bit of "pro life aggression" could be interesting on the video. Signs and cute children are eye catching,  but nothing grabs the attention like a little wallop round the chops .

"Let me tell you why I believe abortion is the crucial issue of our age. First, because abortion, too, is about living within the truth. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed. Or to put it more bluntly: Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim."
~ Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, CO, Living within the truth: Religious liberty and Catholic mission in the new order of the world, August 24, 2010

(Update: Kate from At Home In My Fathers House has also posted about her vigil outside the London clinic, read about it here.)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A Random Act of Kindness

In hindsight I should have taken the tube in to the home ed National Gallery visit  on Wednesday.

But, feeling a bit daunted by thoughts of navigating vertiginously steep escalators and negotiating yawning mind-the-gap leaps with buggy, bags and children,  I decided to hang the congestion charge and let the Caravelle  take the strain.

Problem one became apparent as I was sailing down the Marylebone Road.
I had  forgotten that I have a completely appalling sense of direction.
Ever remember playing Blind Mans Buff? When they blindfold you and spin you round and you grope around, not knowing what's up or down let alone left or right? That's the feeling I have when I'm on less familiar roads.
I find my way around by recognising landmarks, so if I'm thrown off my usual track I'm lost. I have no sense of the geographical relation of one place to another.
Actually, that shouldn't have been such a problem since husband dear has equipped his directionally challenged wife with a satnav.  And satnav will get you there in the end. But satnav is no respecter of the peculiarities of London traffic.
So husband dear  is trying to direct me over the mobile phone ( hands free, no worries!) away from the traffic hotspots of Oxford Circus and Regent Street.
But it's no good. I was as one drawn by an unseen hand into the vortex. And I was late already.

Problem two emerged as The Knowledge ( which is what we call husband dear owing to his intimate knowledge of every corner and alley of this city) was helping me to find a place to park. He directed me to St James's Square and, just as he said there would be, on my left was permit only parking and on my right were the pay and display spaces.
Wow, I couldn't believe my luck. Apart from some white lorries, almost every space was empty!
This was too good to be true I thought.
And it was.
The parking bays were suspended for filming. The only parking bays in use were occupied by  humungous film catering behemoths.  At this stage I was resigned to being late.
But I was grinding my teeth at having to pay the congestion charge, plus parking ( when I found a space) for the privilege of sitting in traffic getting tension induced lock jaw instead of being  at the gallery hearing about Canaletto's Stonemasons Yard with the rest of our group..
Long story short, I did eventually find a space after some cruising around. And after putting £9.50 in the ticket machine and strapping the baby into the Ergo, and Honor into the buggy and loading up Colmcille, my little pack mule, with bags,I was ready to hit the gallery. Even if we'd missed the first half of the talk we could still jump in half way.
But feeling blindmans buffish, I didn't know if the Gallery was behind me, or in front.
So I saw this very smart looking lady walking towards me, and this is where the story gets to the good bit..
As I start to ask her for directions I notice she is speaking on the phone, and she gestures to me to wait. She tells the person she is speaking to that she has to go and then she hangs up and beams at the children as she  says hello to them.
As she's giving me directions she explains that it's going to take 15, maybe 20 minutes to walk there.
My heart sinks. I think that we will have missed almost the entire guided tour by the time we catch up with our group.
And then, she see's something over my shoulder and pauses, she waves her arm and changes tack.
"I'm going to put you in a taxi" she says decisively as she walks over to the black cab she's just hailed.
I follow her slightly confused and she calls out "get in, I've paid him"
Before I know it, we're all inside, baby and buggy and all.
It all happened so quickly, I just got the chance to jump out and give her a hug before we drove off.
The driver was amused and touched when I told him that I didn't know her, that I'd just stopped to ask her for directions. He said he'd never seen anyone do that before.
I have no idea why she did that. Perhaps she liked the look of us and acted on impulse, perhaps she was "paying it forward". 

But that one random act of kindness from a stranger was enough to nullify all the frustrations and tensions of my journey up until that point. It turned my day into a good day. A wonderful day.

And in case you're wondering, we did catch up with our group at the gallery in time for the second half of the talk. Afterwards, we had lunch in the car, and then crawled in stop start traffic and heavy rain to Whitfield Street where we spent half an hour under umbrellas with the 40 Days vigil outside Marie Stopes house before heading home.

A very good day after all, and a lesson in the impact of kindness from a stranger.
So now I'll be looking for an opportunity to "pay it forward".
But, unless husbands driving, I'll be taking the tube in future.