My Personal Shoppers

We lived in Glasgow when our three older kids were young. They are fairly close to each other in age, and one of the least favourite parts of my week was the weekly shopping. Shopping for our groceries with three kids, all aged four or under, was not the most pleasant of tasks!

All you mums of young kids  know what I'm saying, I reckon.

But earlier this week...

... this happened.

And today, Catherine and Katie are heading off to town to do The Shopping. It honestly seems like it's only a couple of years since I was pushing that massive trolley around with three kids in it as well as the food.

And now, they are doing the shopping for me.

'Blink and you miss it' comes to mind, when I think of our kids' childhoods. I know things can be tough going at times when the kids are young. When I was at that stage with the wee ones, the Builder was never really around until late evenings, and he even worked every Saturday morning, so I had to do the shopping with the kids and without him - otherwise, his only few hours off, on a Saturday afternoon, were spent in ASDA! 

So today, I say to young mums everywhere: be encouraged. I urge you to try and get as much enjoyment out of the kids as you can when they are young. And on really tough days, remember this: It will be over in a flash.

And when these more tiring days pass, you have the pleasure of kids with whom you can have wonderful conversations, and with whom you can laugh. A lot.

Conversation and laughter are two of the most wonderful gifts you can have with your older children. But they probably come when you've had plenty of both with your younger children.


Photos from the Golden Wedding Anniversary

My Mum and Dad have their Golden Wedding Anniversary today. To celebrate this wonderful event, we had a family gathering last Saturday.

Mum and Dad are truly blessed to have had fifty years of marriage. When the Builder asked Dad on Saturday night what the highlight of these years was, he thought a while, admitted it was hard to give 'just one', but said, 'the top two would be ... the birth of my firstborn, and my own being born again'. 

He also told of how they first met and came to be ' a couple'. The story may or may not include a dance (which Mum and Dad insist on calling a Ball - a 'ball' being much more suitable  and classy). The story also may or may not have included an admission that a certain young lady who attended that dance ball arrived with her date, but, er, left the event with the teller of the story.

Shame on you, Mother!

Here are some photos of our evening.

Don't they look good?

My memory of folks celebrating this milestone is of really old people. But that's what perception does: everyone seemed old to me when I was young. 

Here they are with mum's two brothers and their wives. God willing, it wont be too long until they celebrate fifty years of marriage too.

What blessings.

The two bridesmaids Mum had are here on the left. They are still really close to Mum and both live just a stone's throw from me. Love it!

To the right is my Dad's brother's widow. This was the saddest part of our time together - that Dad's brother wasn't with us. 

And here's the group photo. All Mum and Dad's children, their spouses, and all the grandchildren.

I'm not sure Mum and Dad could have had a better gift than to have us all there with them.

Me an' my boys

Iona, my sister's daughter, with Katie. Aren't they lovely?

One of my nephews, Ross, and my two boys. I reckon they'd do well advertising for an optician.... they look good!

I love this photo! Ross, my nephew, Calum and Katie.

Now ... this photo simply shows my sister and myself. It does not show the hysterical laughter we'd had before we managed this one photo, showing a pair of apparently sane women....

Oh, how deceiving looks can be.

I also can't begin to tell you what the laughter was about. There are some things that are simply between sisters.

Isn't that right, Marina?


Dipping Today at the Fank

There's a fank on today, but because it's my Mum and Dad's Golden Wedding anniversary, we are not there.

('We' being DR and the Wee Guy. I assume you already assumed the we did not include me.)

Here's the post on last year's dipping.

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There was a fank on Saturday. Some sheep were having their dipping.

I know absolutely nothing about the whats, whys and wherefores of this whole process, so I'm going to ask my daughters some questions.

MeWhat is a fank?

GirlsA 'fank' is a number of pens joined together, where the owners work on the sheep - there's a place for shearing, for dipping, for dozing....

MeUuuh - they snooze whilst working on the sheep???

Girls: (loudly and clearly) d-o-s-i-n-g. The giving of medicines.

Me: So a 'fank' is a 'thing', a 'place'? But I hear them saying things like, 'There's a fank on Saturday' ??

Girls: Yes, because the word is also used for the events that take place in the fank. So, when the men of the village gather their sheep for dipping, or dosing (remember, medicines - not sleeping), or shearing, on a specific day, they call that a 'fank day'. 

MeHow often do the sheep get a dipping? Get dipped? (Not sure of terminology, but too scared to admit that!)

GirlsOnce a year.

MeWhat's it all about?

GirlsIt's their bath. To clean them up.

MeBut the 'stuff' they're dipped into isn't as gentle as bubble bath, is it? 

GirlsNo. It's poisonous to us. Very dangerous. That's why our menfolk are clad in waterproofs, and our kids are kept at a safe distance.

The men push the sheep into the dipping 'bath.

Notice the 'man' in the middle here. It's my boy. My boy! I need to have a word with Big Brother.

The sheep are allowed to swim for a couple of minutes whilst they regain their breath. They're then pushed right under to make sure they've washed behind the ears.

Here they are.......somewhere?!
I believe this is them getting dunked. No goggles, no nose peg. Such cruelty.

And the escape. Phew!

They may be clean, but I bet they're traumatised. 

Poor sheep.


Thirteen Things ...

I began writing this post on the 13th of last month, and decided I'd give thirteen facts about myself.

Knowing, of course, that y'all got up this morning wishing to know thirteen more things about me. Right?

#1I like the number 13. I know lots of folks don't, and I don't tend to like many of the Prime numbers, but this one is nice. I think it's because my sister's birthday is on the 13th of June, and June is a sunny month, and my sister is a sunny person, and sunshine makes me smile.

#2I am the most logical person you'll ever meet. See #1.

#3I used the word 'nice' in #1, and I dislike the word intensely. Ever since my English teacher spoke against the word in our 1st year class (Grade 7 to you guys across the Pond). His rant was in response to someone's piece of writing in which the word 'nice' was used again and again.

"Nice is just a ... a... nothing word. It doesn't convey anything. I don't feel anything when I hear something is nice. Nice is NOT nice. Don't use it again to describe anything!"

Can you see why I got the message?

#4This year, we are going to be using online classes for two of Katie's subjects. This is a first for us ...

#5The Wee Guy has had tonnes more enthusiasm for the re-start of school than I have. I'm still waiting to have my holiday.

#6Jackson has decided he likes to sleep on the wee sofa in the kitchen. His place there may be safe until The Builder finds out.

Update: Jackson's newly found sleeping place lasted all of two days. 

#7Our weather today is:

Wind: 40-50mph
Temp: 10C (50F)
Rain: Erm... Yes. Frequent.

#8We had a wee frog outside our house the other night. This is the first time I have ever seen a frog in real life.

Yep, the first time.


He was awfully cute.

As the FB readers already know, we had Guga on Saturday night. 

It. was. good.

And, as if the Guga needed any help in being the perfect meal, we had this fella ...

...not only share our meal,

but savour it too.

Can this wee guy get any better?

Now that I'm writing this well after the first ones were written, I can tell you that our Wee Guy's enthusiasm for school - see #5 - has wavered only slightly. But I can also tell you that today's 'education' is on animal husbandry. 

Or something like that. He's at a fank with Big Brother, so it's definitely an education.

Read about another fank earlier in the year here.

My Mum and Dad celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary next week. More on this to follow....

I think my older daughter may be obsessed with Poirot. I call him The Little Penguin, which offends her greatly. Such fun!

Whilst reading the book of Ruth today, I was struck with the evidences of kindness throughout the book. Ruth was so kind to Naomi, but it was Boaz's kindness to Ruth - first of all when she came to glean in the fields, then when he spoke to her in the middle of the night - that really struck me.

I think it was the Builder's kindness that made me first fall in love with him. And his kindness to me makes me love him more and more every day. 

Kindness is such a beautiful thing.


A Lovely September Day on Patrice's Porch

Here we are, on Patrice's Porch again. It is so nice to imagine this porch right now... actually, it is always nice, but today, with a windchill of 5C - that's 42F in old money - it is particularly pleasant to imagine a lovely September day in the US.

Before I answer Patrice's questions though ... you may remember some English friends who came to visit last New Year. You may also remember that they decided to have a dip in the sea in temperatures that would make you weep.

Well, two of the family are staying with us right now, and one of them wasn't up at New Year. So, what does she insist on doing? Yep, you guessed it.

In this photo you can not see the wind. It was strong.

You cannot feel the cold. I've already told you - 42F. 

You can see the raindrops on my lense.

The shower came in from the sea, horizontally lashing me and my camera. Yet, she went for her dip.

Mad, I tell you. Mad!

1. What's the last thing that made you cry?

Oh, that's easy! Yesterday, I watched a video of the events of 9/11. It certainly made me cry. I do get mocked here at home because of the number of things that will make me cry, but who could ever watch these events and not cry? Not me, that's for sure.

2. Have you ever had any small pets?

Not really. I do remember, when I was around eight or nine, spending time with my friend, Shona, in an old graveyard at the machair. There we found and 'rescued' countless snails. I remember them being all around our house and climbing the house walls. I especially remember them climbing the chimney wall. I guess they liked the warmth! It's just as well my Mum wasn't much of a gardener and didn't have a lovely array of leafy plants ready for the snails to feast on!

Not sure they ever classed as pets, but they were small!

3. Waffles or pancakes?

I've only ever had waffles in the States. We make pancakes here often - a few times most weeks, but they are not what you would call pancakes. I think you'd possibly call them Drop Scones.

My pancake recipe can be found here.

Scottish Pancakes

4. Do you like politics? We don't need to know who you want to vote for if you are in the US, but just asking if you find the whole thing interesting.

Well, I wont be voting in your election! But I love Politics. I am interested in British politics, but I think American politics is more fascinating. I follow what's going on as much as I can ... Isn't the internet fabulous!

Four years ago, we were on holiday in the US, and were able to attend a couple of political rallies.

Such fun!

For me. And for DR. The other members of the family tagged along.

5. Please fill in the blanks: If only I could  ____________  then  _____________ .

Oh, I can think of loads to put in here, Patrice!

'organized' ... 'I could have a clean house'

'swim the Atlantic' ... 'I would be in America'

'hire professional help' ... 'have time to read my longed-for books'

But in reality, I have so few 'If only' things in my life. I am so blessed, and so even my constant housework is but a sign of my blessings; my lack of time for reading is too but a sign of my having been blessed beyond words. 


We will Remember Them ... Or Will We?

Most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard the devastating news on September 11th, 2001.

That gut-wrenching moment is not easily forgotten. And neither should it be. I was on holiday in Canada, just across the border from the USA, in Ontario. We heard the news from a tearful woman working at some show-homes in London, Ontario. Work came to a standstill. Our plans came to a standstill. And, with all around us, we watched the scenes unfold before our eyes. Scenes that were too horrific to seem real. Scenes we wished weren't real.

But real they were. And the consequences of that day are all too real for thousands and thousands of people. Mothers lost sons: nothing can ever change that, nor end that grief.
Wives lost husbands and children lost fathers and mothers, their lives snuffed out by wicked deeds of wicked men. That day changed lives forever.

And today we have passed the 10-year anniversary, and some may wonder why it is necessary to keep remembering.

Others wonder how anyone can ever forget.

But we are so prone to forget. I was reading a couple of days ago these words:

"And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that He did for Israel. And Joshua .... died. 

"And also that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel." (Joshua 2: 7, 8, 10)

Is this for real? There came a generation, just shortly after Joshua had died who didn't know the Lord, and who didn't know what He had done for Israel.


The Lord had taken them, as a nation, out of the idolatry and slavery of Egypt. He had led them, fed them, kept them as a nation and then given them a nation - a nation for which they hadn't worked. 

What they had experienced and what they had seen is almost beyond words. But a generation coming after Joshua forgot it all. 

It takes my breath away. But clearly, the children were not being told what great things God had done. And in a generation or two, it was forgotten.

And we think we'd never do this. Right?

But, if we are saved, then we have also been taken from the bondage of our Egypt, we have been granted life, we have been fed spiritual food in abundance, and one day, we will reach our Promised Land. Our Saviour gave His life for us, and to think of God incarnate, taking to Himself humanity so He could suffer the wrath of God for us; so He could die for us .... there are no words sufficient for the praise we ought to be offering. But God, in His wisdom, gave us a Remembrance Day, so we would never forget what our Lord did for us.

"Take," He said, "eat. This is my body which was broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me."  And we partake of the Lord's Supper to 'remember His death until He come'.

See, God knew that even for this greatest wonder ever - that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - we would have to have specific times to remember.

And so it is right for nations to remember. We say we will never forget. But nations ought to follow God's example and set us days where we are to remember times of great sorrow, or times of great liberation.

To any of you who suffered personal loss on this day in 2001, or as a result of what happened on that day, I know that I cannot enter into your suffering. But you have my heart, and you have my prayers. 

For the rest of us, let us commit to never, ever forgetting.


Great Discoveries for a Homeschooler - Study Guides!

One of the best discoveries us homeschooling mums can make is materials that have been published along with ready-made study questions. 

Here are just some of our ready-made-by-the-publishers-study-guide-included stuff!

We are using Economics for Everybody from Ligonier Ministries.

This is what the blurb says:

Everybody talks about it. The news is full of it. But most Christians know very little about it. Economics: it’s everywhere, influencing everything, yet so rarely understood.
Economics for Everybody seeks to remedy that through an insightful and entertaining exploration of the principles, practices, and consequences of economics. Thoroughly unconventional, it links entrepreneurship with lemonade, cartoons with markets, and Charlie Chaplin with supply and demand. It’s funny, clever, profound and instructive.
If you want to know why economics is so important to understand, this is the series for you. In our day and age, it’s a message every Christian needs to hear.

The printed workbook comes with information on each lecture; appropriate Bible readings; copious lecture notes; and ...

a selection of questions: multiple choice, Short Answers and longer Discussion Questions.

I'm hoping we'll come across thoughts that provoke us to dig more deeply to really know what we think; that send us to Scripture to really know what it says; and thoughts even that we disagree with. Disagreeing with what confronts us normally forces us to question why we think what we think. 

If there is anything I'd love for my kids to be able to do it's to think

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This set of DVDs called Reformation Profiles is not expensive at all. We were able to download the DVDs and the Study Guide, and so we did not even incur postage costs..... always a bonus when you're buying from Across the Pond.

The site's summary says:

People new to Reformed theology may wonder just what it was about a five-hundred-year-old historical movement that affects our thinking so much today. So join Dr. Stephen Nichols for an inviting, approachable take on “Reformation 101,” as he explores the events of the Protestant Reformation from the perspective of important figures from each of four key countries in this new seven-part teaching series. More than a history lesson, Dr. Nichols helps believers understand why the Reformation mattered then and matters now.

We've done the first couple of lectures, and so far, we are enjoying this series. The best of this type of situation is that you can use the same questions but have different expectations from the different age groups. I may ask for a detailed written answer from one of the older ones, but simply sit and talk about the answer with the Wee Guy.


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One more.

These books - the Crown and Covenant series - are great historical fiction books, but when I bought them online, I realised there was the added bonus of ...

a downloadable Study Guide.

Have you made discoveries like these?

What are some of the discoveries you homeschoolers have made that have made life easier for you? 

Spill the Beans!

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