Good News

There is a blog I always read, even in my busiest times. It's called Spilled... because my cup overflows, and Davene, its author, has such a wonderful way with words. She also has four gorgeous wee boys, and often has photos of them, and writes of what they have said. Yes, this is a definite attraction for me.

Wee boys = delight

Well, recently she announced she was pregnant again. Would you believe me if I said that...

- I wasn't jealous in the slightest bit;

- I didn't feel broody; 

- I didn't sigh and say, 'Ahhhh, if only....', before I caught myself, gave myself a mental check, and thanked God for the four blessings I have been given. 

Well, back to Davene and her boys. These boys are cute. Really, really cute. Delightful. A pleasure. They are blessings. Adorable. 

It's got to be said that a mother is not lacking much when she has Christ, a wonderful husband and four gorgeous sons.

Well, as I said, Davene is pregnant again, and she has just announced she's expecting ..... a girl. 

A Girl!! 

Now, nobody could love wee boys more than I do, and I never looked at her blog and pitied her because she had all these boys and no girls, but I have to tell you that I squealed in delight when she told us she was having a girl. I was so excited for her that I really wanted to jump up and down and hug her - a lady I've never met! The whole thing got me thinking:

I was delighted when she announced she was pregnant, but why was I ecstatic when she told us it was a girl?

I know it wasn't because I prefer girls to boys.

I know it wasn't because I loved to dress girls in pink.

I know it's not because I loved to play with dolls with them.

I think it's because I have the blessing of having both. I am the mother of sons, and the mother of daughters. Both experiences are so precious to me: one is not better than the other, nor more precious to me. But they are different experiences.

One experience is not better; nor worse: not greater; nor lesser. Just different.

And now, God willing, Davene will be able to experience the blessing of being mother to a daughter as well as being mother to sons. I would wish for every mother to experience both.

I sure wouldn't swap either ... not for the world.

But I also wish for every dad to experience both. For Davene's husband, being the father of a daughter will be a whole new experience too. What I have seen of fathers and daughters gives me to believe that this relationship is truly special too. And if I were to ask any father who has been blessed with having a little girl what he thinks.... I reckon he wouldn't swap that for the world. Yes, Mr Spilled... all being well, this little bundle is gonna change your world. You are going to discover emotions of protectiveness you never knew existed. 

Oh boy! Look out anyone who doesn't treat this little girl right! Look out, I say!

And so, to Davene and to her husband, I wish all the blessings and joys that having a daughter can bring.

To the little girl? Well, don't tell anyone I said this, but what I honestly wish for her is that she may, one day, have a sister.

Shhhhh. I said don't tell anyone I just said that ;)


The Last Couple of Days...

We haven't seen Big Brother's sheep for a while. Today, some of the ram lambs, or tup lambs, were being brought in for the winter. These animals will be sold next year, so they have to be at their best when it comes to selling time. 

Because they're inside, their food will be used by their bodies to grow big and strong, whereas if they were outside, the food would be used, in part, to keep their bodies warm.

The wind was strong today, though not quite at the speeds we've had over the past few nights. Big brother, the Wee Guy and another nephew, Daniel, were well wrapped up against the 50mph winds in the afternoon.

The Wee Guy is clearly enjoying himself.

Oi, cove! Smile like your cousin!

As you all know, we had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday evening. We had such a lovely time. Good food and great company.... What more does a person want?

Okay. Cake-pops, home-made by Dawn;

...and a gorgeous bunch of kids.

They spent the afternoon painting leaves, 

and writing names on our place settings.

The Wee Bundle didn't want to miss out on any of the action.

After we'd eaten....

... the Bundle's daddy giving him raspberries to eat.

They didn't go down well.

...but we loved seeing his reaction.

Again and again!

Tonight, as head to bed and anticipate the Lord's Day tomorrow, we look forward to a day of rest when we can meditate on all the goodness of God to us, and give praise for all His our reasons for thanksgiving. As I type, the winds are around 80mph, and the forecast is for the gusts to be even stronger than that. What a blessing a warm, secure home is.

May you all have a wonderful Lord's Day, and may the resurrected Saviour, who is the reason for our weekly day of rest and of blessing, become all the more precious to us all.


Preparing for Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, we will have our Thanksgiving dinner. Today, I went out to the plot to lift some of the vegetables we'll eat.

Yet another cause of thanksgiving...

Along with the turkey, we'll have roasted carrots, parsnips and red onion...

... and brussel sprouts, which I par-boiled today and tomorrow I'll stir-fry them with butter and bacon.

The turkey is swimming in Nigella Lawson's brine, awaiting tomorrow's roasting.

I made a couple of Apple and Raspberry crumbles today, and (in the interests of my guests, of course) tested one of them tonight. I've never made it before, so can't really tell whether it tasted like it ought to taste or not.

I liked it, but I'm no crumble connoisseur. 

I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Tomorrow, I'll keep all of you who are on Homeschool's Facebook page up to date with how the cooking's going.

Tomorrow, whilst I slave over a hot stove, you Americans will be either:

a) eating left-over-turkey sandwiches

b) washing dishes you didn't have the energy to wash tonight

c) groaning over how much you ate today


d) pushing and shoving your way through Black Friday sales (that will bring out the best in y'all....ahem).


Pre-Thanksgiving on Patrice's Porch

Good morning, Patrice. And a Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends here on the porch! Us Brits don't do Thanksgiving like you folks do, but because so much of our reading  materials and curriculum materials are American, we feel like we're part of your celebration.

It's blowing a hoolie here today. The ferry was cancelled last night, and has already been cancelled for the end of the week. I'm so glad I'm not having to cross today. I feel Bleugh! just thinking of it!

And so on to your first question...

1. What are you thankful for?

Oh boy, where do I begin? Those of you've visited me on my blog for some time will know of the countless blessings I have, and you will know there are too many to write here. So, just for something different, I am going to say that I am thankful for the internet.

Yes, I know the internet gets a bad press, and on many occasions, it's with good reason. But I don't know where I'd be without it. All my schooling materials are either downloaded, bought online, or are at least discovered online. 

I have so many encouraging 'friends' online: some of them don't know I even exist! I also have online friends with whom I am in touch frequently. I am so thankful I've 'met' them. They have been of such blessing to me. I hope we meet this side of eternity, but if we don't, we'll meet in endless praise to our Saviour.

And despite a lot of my blog-life, whether writing or reading, being not-strictly-necessary to my life, I am thankful for my daily light relief.

So, all in all, warts an' all, I am thankful for this place we call the internet.

2. Jellied cranberry or whole berry cranberry?

Say, wha'?? 

3. How many will sit at your dinner table Thursday?

Let me first point out that here, in the UK, in English we'd say 'on Thursday'. Got it? We do things on days. We don't do things...days. Get it? We'd have people sitting at our table on Thursday.

You guys care? No, thought not. Still, I thought it my civic duty to let y'all know.

Oh, and by the way, we don't in Gaelic. 

Don't do things on days. We just do things..days.

Is this clear? Crystal clear?

What was the question? Oh yes, dinner table and numbers. Well, our Thanksgiving day, here in Lewis, is on Thursday, but we don't do Thanksgiving like you guys over there. We have Thanksgiving services, but we've never developed a family-get-together type tradition. However, me being me, and me always looking for an excuse for a good scoff, we are having a Thanksgiving turkey on Friday. (Did you notice that?.... on Friday). Aye, I'll make English scholars of all you Americans yet. So, on Friday, we plan to have eleven around our table. 

Man alive. That was a long answer, just to say: 11

4. Would anyone who visits the porch be interested in some type of Christmas card or small gift exchange?

Well, I think it would be a lovely idea if you're in the same country. Postage would probably be prohibitive for sending and receiving to and from here. But I'd say to y'all to Go for It! I think you'll love it.

5. Do you venture out on Black Friday?

Er... wrong country again. Does it have something to do with the cranberries in Question 2? 

Actually, I know what it is, and it's probably akin to our Boxing Day sales. What can I say? I'm in Lewis... and linking back to the first question, I'm thankful I can shop online. Phew! All that rushing, and stamping, and grabbing, and bargains, and.... er, hang on... I'm beginning to think I'm missing out on something here.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, all you Americans. Like you, we have so very, very much to be thankful for.

"Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever." Ps 106v1


Forty-five Today

It's my birthday today. I'm heading off to bed, feeling like a stuffed turkey (without the being dead part). I wasn't allowed into the kitchen to make tonight's meal. That made it doubly tasty. We had fillet steak, creamed tatties and roasted veg, followed by White Chocolate Cheesecake and raspberries with ice-cream.

Thanks kids, and hubby.

A wee while ago, Katie and Calum took some photos of the Builder and me. They wanted to have another photo of Mum and Dad that they could add to their vast collection of photos of us....

Tonight's photos will go alongside our wedding photos. I reckon every twenty years is often enough for photos.

Man, I hate having my photo taken. Think visit-to-the-dentist type 'hate'.

 Painful. Really, really painful.


Katie: She has her uses, you know

Yesterday, Katie took Jackson for a walk just as the sun was setting.

Did I mention to y'all the amazing weather we've been having.

Blue skies. Sunshine. All day.

Today, normal service was resumed. 

We have grey skies and we have rain. So, today, Katie made Lemon Meringue cupcakes.

That settles it: I've decided I'm gonna keep her after all.


On a Gorgeous November Day, another Chat with Patrice and Co

What a stunning spell of weather we've been having, Patrice. Apart from Saturday, which was wet and windy, the past week has been so beautiful. Blue skies, gorgeous sunrises, little winds - enough to blow the creases out of my washing on the washing line (have I told you my tumble drier is broken? For the past months... yes, months. I only mention it here in case my beloved happens to read this. Ahem - my readers now know it's broken: any chance you might have a look at it? Pleeeease.)

Anyway, the weather has been so amazing this past while, all the clothes are being dried outside, and most of them come in crease-free. 

So, on to our questions:

1. Where would you take the blogger group for a chat, if they came to your house?

Ah well, Patrice, that would definitely depend on the time of year and the weather on the day. If it was one of the three or four summery days of our years, I may take you to our sand dunes, down the road.

In the dunes, although we're on the beach, it's more sheltered from the breeze, so it's certainly a lovely place to sit and chat. We'd take a picnic basket down and have our cuppa there.

Er, yes.... I said 'cuppa'. We'd take the flasks of hot water, take some teabags, our china mugs and have tea on the beach. Y'all got a problem with that? 

It it was windless as well as sunny, we could sit on the beach itself. 

If you were determined to be outside and we didn't go to the beach, you could end up looking like this:

Alternatively, we could stay inside, sit in the lounge ...

(Jackson, don't you dare tell the Builder you were up here)

out of the wind and the cold, and enjoy the view from inside.

All in all, I'm not sure the place would be important. The company is what would matter.

2. How do you handle 'toxic people'? They're the ones that are very difficult to be around and generally don't bring out the best in us.

Mmm, I don't really know many of them. I think I'd just keep clear of them if I was able to. Thankfully, I don't have them in my family circles, so I can choose that option. 

3. In high school, were you the athlete, the cheerleader (actual or just your personality), the geek, the social butterfly, or lost?

The athletic cheerleader.

Er.... Why did y'all choke on your tea? And WHY are y'all rolling about the floor, laughing??

Okay, okay. Option 4: Lost. I hardly even have memories of high school, and if I do, they are not particularly great. They aren't awful, horrendous or traumatic. Just ...nothing, really.

4. What's your favourite thing made from apples?

See above!

5. Do you do most of your shopping in stores or online?

Well, seeing as we have such a variety of huge shopping malls just down the road from us here......

Yep, you guessed it: online. I love that I can do so much of my shopping online and have it delivered to my door. I long for the supermarkets here to begin doing online shopping for the groceries. That would be fan-tas-tic. No shopping trolleys; fewer trips to town; no loading into bags and the checkout and then into the car (in the driving rain, often!). Grrrreat!

We were buying a new freezer a couple of weeks ago, and discovered that we could shop online from one of our local electrical stores, and they delivered the freezer to us the following day. That was our ideal situation. We really wanted to support a local company, but I do love the convenience of online shopping. Here, we found both could be done. So, good for you, Lighting and Electrical. Best of both worlds.

I'm off now, Patrice, to do some work. The Wee Guy is doing his Maths; the girls are doing Maths too, and I'm gonna get a bit of my translation work done. So, much as I'd love to stop and chat longer, I've just gotta go.  

See y'all next week.


Our Local Remembrance Day ...

I'm an emotional wreck.

This year, like every year, we attended our local Remembrance Day service, held at the monument in our district.

As always, I cried. 

I wept thinking of boys (because that's what many of them were: boys. Boys, but the best of men) who left their homes and their families in 1914, and then again in 1939. Some of them left full of  bravado; others left with realistic fear. But they joined up, did their duty. 

During the First World War, Scotland lost more than double the number of men, per head of population, in comparison with the UK as a whole. I don't have the figures for the islands, but I have been told that we lost more (again, per head of population) than anywhere else in Scotland. Our losses were huge, and in a close community like we have, nobody was unaffected by the deaths suffered during these wars.

But what often gets to me more than anything else is this:

They left home; some of them suffered unspeakable horrors; they fought alongside fellow soldiers whom they grew to love, and who became their family, only to see many of them die beside them; they suffered extreme cold, extreme heat, extremes of every description; they lived in constant fear, but bravely conducted all the operations they had to; they had their senses bombarded daily with the sounds of bombs blasting close by, of bullets whizzing, of  screams of agony from injured and dying comrades.

All that, and so much more. Because words cannot properly convey loneliness and fear - especially the words of a writer who knows nothing of what these boys went through.

And what happened in 1918 and in 1945 when it was time for them to come home?

Well, they came home. They worked. They married and raised families. They carried on working. They asked for nothing. They claimed no compensation; they sought no pity; the attended no therapists.

Their bravery didn't end when the war ended. Their actions for the rest of their lives speak volumes that I can not articulate. How many memories they must have lived with. How many conversations they must have had in the privacy of their own minds and hearts. How many tears were shed behind closed doors? We will never know. It was not their way to draw attention to themselves.

Their way was, and is, the way of duty. 

Of honour. 

Today, these young cadets stood at our memorial. I pray none of them will have to endure the horrors their grandfathers and great-grandfathers endured.

This man, one of only two Ness men left with us who could have attended today, laid a wreath. Over sixty years have passed since he experienced the horrors of war, and yet he struggled with his emotions as he laid the wreath.

I spoke to him afterwards and he said he almost didn't make it. He almost broke down. Oh, what memories are stored in this man's mind.

This lady's uncle was lost in the Iolaire disaster. I posted about that horrific night here. Her mother was ten, and she always remembered the excitement of that night, the anticipation of her older brother's imminent return. He was 20 years of age, and had been fighting for years.

Can any of us even begin to imagine what that family went through? All that anticipation, just for the joy of the long-awaited meeting to be snatched from them at the last minute.


You're dead right. 

And once again, let us never forget....

Freedom is not free.

Let us never take it for granted.


We Will Remember Them

We Will Remember Them

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We will remember them.

Some of my favourite photos from this year's Remembrance Day...

Today, we remember our troops who have been lost during the two World Wars, and those lost in wars since.

Our serving troops, though, are in my prayers every day of life. I pray they'd be kept safe; and that they would come to know God as their God and their Saviour. I pray, too, that our leaders would be given wisdom every day, and that our troops - precious sons, husbands and fathers to their families - would never be sent into danger unnecessarily.


Egg First, or Chicken? On Patrice's Porch, Thinking out Loud

Good morning, Patrice. We could almost have sat on our porch this last couple of days. We've had the most gorgeous weather, and I'm trying to enjoy it all, knowing that it wont be here for long.

We're kind of busy just now with normal schoolwork, although all four kids had a bad virus, so we're on a bit of a go-slow.

Catherine is beginning a piece of historical fiction writing, so she posted on her Facebook wall that she was looking for suggestions as to what era she ought to go for. What would you guys choose? 

Roman times? All that hedonism, blood, gore and battles? 

Celtic times, with all the rituals, tribal life and more battles?

Victorian times, with delicate ladies, chivalry and Colin Firth?

...er, what do you mean, he wasn't around then? You just ask the Bennets... he was, you know.

One of her friends, very helpfully suggested... 'It depends on the story'. So I got to thinking (always a bit of a danger)

"Does the story depend on the era? Or does the era depend on the story? Did the egg depend on the chicken? Or the chicken on the egg? " 

What do you all think?  

And so, we move quickly on to Patrice's questions:

What accomplishments make you the most proud?

Oooh, I'm not sure I have many accomplishments. I have so many blessings in my life, and I know my life is so different to what I deserve.

I have been gifted salvation. It is "the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast".

I have been gifted a wonderful husband. He truly has been a gift, and is so different to what I deserve. These are not idle words - this is just the way it is, and I have come to realise it more and more as I go on in my life. The life I lived before I married and before I was saved would not have made me a candidate to make such a good choice in a husband. I can simply say: 'It is the Lord'. And yes, it is 'wondrous in my eyes'.

I have been gifted four children, who are blessings above and beyond anything I could have imagined. They are not my accomplishments; I can take no credit for them. They were given to me for a season. My desire for them is the salvation of their souls; for them to love the Saviour; for them to grow into kind and loving adults; and for them to carry out God's will for their lives to His glory.

At one time, I would have felt pride about the way in which I got through my pregnancies and my labours. I know that is so utterly foolish, but I was so healthy and my first three pregnancies and labours were such a doddle for me. I used to joke that my labours were easier than going to do my weekly grocery shop. I was only half-joking. My pregnancy and my experience after the Wee Guy was born taught me much - What do we have that we have not received? 

In much lesser things than those wonders, I don't really accomplish much.... I would love - absolutely love - to be able to play the piano. If I were ever to achieve this, I'd fill in this space with this achievement. Until then... it's onto the next question.

When did your family first come to the country in which you now live?

Absolutely no idea! Unlike you guys who live in 'young' America, we live in ancient Scotland! Some of my peoples would have been here since Viking times; others from Celtic times. 

What is your favourite way to serve carrots?

Well, this will amaze Wendell, but up until two years ago - when we harvested our own carrots for the first time - I never ate carrots unless they were raw. I didn't like boiled carrots at all. When we had our own, though, I couldn't bear the thought of not eating something that smelled so good! I still don't eat them boiled, but I absolutely love them roasted: plenty olive oil and black pepper  - they're the necessities, but some garlic is nice too. If they're roasted with parsnips and red onion, the flavours are wonderful.

Do you decorate with anything that has Santa or Father Christmas when you prepare for Christmas?

I don't think so. We never did Christmas decorations when we were growing up. The Builder did, and so we do now. It's mostly the tree and some garlands. I don't think there's anything Santa-ish there, but I'd need to check when we open the box next month.

Do you prefer big dogs or small dogs? Something in between?

Oh, Patrice! What a question to ask me! Definitely big dogs. Small dogs are only okay if they're actually the puppies of dogs that will soon be big dogs. 


Blue skies...

I just got a Facebook notification saying:

Katie just added a photo of you.

And so I went to look at what masterpiece she'd unearthed and posted on the dreaded Facebook.

This is the photo...

Er... am I missing something? 

As Jackson and I went for our morning stroll today, and watched the sun rise behind the mainland hills... 

Let's just stop right there. Doesn't that sound good? 

Me. Walking. Morning. 

Let's just dwell on these three words for a moment, realising they were placed, correctly, in one sentence.

And now I can't remember why I began the sentence in the first place. No matter: it was worth putting in just for me to emphasize these three words.  

Talking of the sunrise, if you head over to Eoropie Tearoom's Facebook page, you can watch a video of that very sun rising, this very morning.

Have you watched it? See the mainland hills? Nice.

I reckon if any future tourists are planning on visiting Lewis, they might think of booking a November holiday. These past few days have been as bonny as any days we've had all year. Last year, around this time, we took OMSH on a tour of our local sights.

We showed him the lighthouse,

and Port Beach

The skies were blue that day too. And that was November. So... mark my words - you wanna see our island bathed in sunshine, visit in November.

The Tourist Board ought to pay me for my in-depth studies into weather patterns on the island. Just sayin'

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