Happy Birthday!

Today, we have a birthday celebration.

It's can't be the Builder, because he, along with DR, is in July.

It can't be the girls, because both of them were born on Mothering Sunday, two years apart. Mothering Sunday is in March.

It isn't the Wee Guy, because he shares a birthday with my Dad, and their special day is in April.

Yep, you guessed it. It's Jackson.

I'll begin by showing some photos of him when he was young. This is to get you all Awwwww-ing.

Did you say Awww already?

He has mixed allegiances at times. This was on July 4th, but we soon told him that he had no right celebrating that bunch of people who wanted liberty even if it cost them short-term security.

Pfft! What kinda people want liberty, and are willing to fight tooth and nail for it?

Oh, hang on ...

Anyway, this post is about Jackson. Let's not get waylaid with trivialities such as liberty.

Whilst on subjects of grandeur, I'd like y'all to know that Jackson has Royal blood in him.

Well, kinda.

Jackson is, of course, a retriever. And retrievers ...erm, retrieve.

He is of very noble birth, and he claims his forefathers retrieved for Royalty. In the absence of Royal Grouse, he lowers himself to Toy Ducks.

It matters not. He has blue blood in him and he's proud of it.

Can't you tell? Doesn't he look regal?

He even rests regally (when the Builder's not around - Shhhh. Don't tell him.)

Well, it'd be lovely to keep the whole Blue-blood-regal-stuff up, but reality needs some checking.

This is more like the Jackson we know.

and this ...

and this ...

This one in particular says, 'Even though I'm filthy, Mum, I'm still adorable, amn't I?'

This one says, 

"Even though I'm an absolute goofball, you still love me, don't ya?"

This was the day I almost put him up for sale.

At this stage, he was Free to Good Home.

In fact, he was Free to Any Home.

I also considered selling this pair, 

knowing they were guilty for introducing Jackson's mouth and my precious boots.

They're lucky they bake such delicious cakes, otherwise they may just have found that boot booting them oot the door.

Happy Birthday, Jackson.

We simply cannot remember, or imagine, life without you.

The rabbits on the machair can't remember a time without you either.

... a time when they didn't have a Lab to mock with their speed, agility and underground hideouts.

But you have the last laugh. They don't sit at their back door watching the sunset, and then come in to a cozy bed in front of a peat fire, do they?


The Great Island Bake-off

The Great Island Bake-off took place today in the Caladh Inn. What a fantastic day we had. We had Jo Wheatley who, along with a local chef, Alan MacRitchie, judged the cake entries.

In 2011, Jo won the BBC Great British Bake-off, and it was a delight to meet her in person.

Some of the cakes on display were simply stunning.

The Eoropie Tearoom site can be found online. Mrs Eoropie made some incredible cakes for display. I have never seen anything like them. The theme of her display was Afternoon Tea, and isn't this teapot and cup and saucer absolutely amazing. My photo actually doesn't do it justice. All the pieces also sat on a bed of iced lace. Some people have incredible talent.

Another of her cakes: Mad Hatter.

Can you imagine the skill, patience and time that goes into something like this. Really and truly, I take my hat off to her.

This had some lovely cakes, but I really loved the cake stand. It looks like an old one.... Isn't it gorgeous?

When we went to have our tea and cake, we just happened to sit right beside Jo herself.

I'm sure she was chuffed to bits to have Marina and I plonk ourselves beside her.

Dawn had been given Jo's cookbook for her birthday, so she was chuffed to have Jo sign the book.

By the way, Dawn says the book is full of fabulous, do-able and wonderfully tasty recipes, so if you're wondering whether to buy Jo Wheatley's book ... Go ahead!

Now for some of the entries ...

This was one of the cakes in the Showstopper category. It didn't win, but the detail on it was fabulous. There are some mighty talented, and incredibly patient folks out there.

The winner of the Showstopper category was ...

...this cake! I cannot find the superlatives to do this incredible piece of artwork justice! I wish my photos were better, so y'all would get some true idea of the beauty of this masterpiece.

Well done, Rebecca!

Another winner was ...

Rona! Rona won the Macaroon category.

Rona is also Marina's sister in law.

She is also the mother of one of the wee boys I'm gonna steal one of these days. If you think some of today's cakes were delicious, you ought to see her wee guy.

Adorable. Keep a tight reign on him, Rona!

And another winner, for her amazing Iced Fingers .... *drum roll please* .... was

Dawn! When her name was announced we ('we' being Marina - that's my wee sister ('wee' being true only in the sense of age. Nobody is more 'wee' than me. Unless they're under the age of twelve.), and some of our her nutty friends, and myself) kept nice and quiet and simply clapped politely.

Yeah. Right.

Here she is with her prizes, and with Jo and our own local chef, and judge for today, Alan MacRitchie.

Today, as I was spending time looking at cakes, bumping into folks I hadn't seen for years in some cases, having lots of yarns, enjoying cups of tea and cake, and generally having a lovely day, my mind began to wander ... as it is wont to do.

This past week, I've been reading a book on Gladys Aylward, an English lady who was a missionary to China during the 1930s and 40s. She faced so many hardships, and none greater than the terror and anguish faced when the Red Army swept through northern China in the late 1940s. How different my situation is. I live in a time of peace, on an island where there is plenty food, a temperate climate, very little crime, no fear. I get to enjoy days out with my daughters, my sister, friends. There was so much beauty on display today; so much friendship at the event; so much laughter going on, and I couldn't but thank God for His kind providence which placed me at this time in history, and in this place on the earth.

Truly, unto me the lines have fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16).


A - Z of Me!

I saw this on Caroline's blog, The Joyful Keeper, and seeing as my own inspiration has gone AWOL, I thought I'd steal her idea.

This is the A - Z of Me!

A - Age: 46

B - Bed size: Actual: King Size. Preferred: Double giant King Henry VIII size. Yep, you guessed it ... I like space when I'm sleeping. 

- Chore you hate: Just one? Oh, okay then. Cleaning the bathrooms.

D - Drink of choice: Tea. Plain ol' tea. With cake.

E - Essential start to your day item: The Builder comes to me every morning with a mug of hot water. That's what begins my day.

F - Favorite color: That's easy. Blue. And blue always looks especially good when joined by red and white.

G - Gold or Silver: Gold. My wedding and engagement rings are yellow gold, but I do like white gold too.

H - Height: You're having a laugh. My height simply is not. When one can't even put half an inch after five foot, then height is not something one talks of.

I - Instruments you play(ed): In my dreams, it's the piano.

J - Job: Job? Playing mum to four, wife to one. Oh, and mum to a mutt too.

K - Kids: Four. Y'all know them by now. I have:

Two boys. They're ten years apart, and having Calum is like living a replay of DR. They are so alike in so many ways.

And then I have two gorgeous girls. Do you know that both my daughters were born on Mother's Day? Who can claim to have ever been given better Mother's Day gifts than this?

Oh, okay. I also have Jackson, who takes up similar amounts of time and energy as the other four.

L - Living arrangements: In our home, built by the Builder, but provided by our God.

This was taken on a January morning last year. This year, so far, we haven't seen a flake of snow.

M - Mom’s name: Catherine.

N - Nicknames: Ummm, none, though the Builder has lots of names for me. I'd tell you some of them, but it may just ruin his reputation.

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Until I had Calum, I'd never been in hospital other than one night when DR was born. After Calum was born, I spent three weeks in hospital.You can read of something of what I experienced the day Calum was born here.

P - Pet Peeve: Oh, I'm not the type of person to get annoyed at anything.

Did you believe that? Or did that last statement cause you to almost choke on your drink? 

I get seriously peeved with badly behaved kids whose parents do nothing to better their behaviour.

I get seriously peeved with our bloomin' politicians, who seem set on poking around blindly for answers to countless social ills, listening to every fad and fashion, instead of using the common sense they'd find in Scripture.

I get peeved when people moan about the weather.

You get the picture?

- Quote from a movie: "Mrs Bennet, life holds few distinctions, but I do believe that here we have three of the silliest girls in England.

Of course, in our frequent quoting of the above, we change the 'three' to 'two', and the 'England' to 'Scotland'.

Such fun!

R - Right or left handed: Right.

S - Siblings: One brother, who is older than I am, but looks years younger, and one sister, who is younger than I am, and who, well, looks it.

T - Time you wake up: Pass

U- Underwear: Erm ... what about it? All I can say is that they're bought in M&S. Always.

V - Vegetable you dislike: Courgette (across the Pond, they're called Zucchini). I often make courgette soup, which is nice, but courgette as a vegetable. Ooooh, they're so ... yeugh (I know - I mustn't say that for food, and that's two posts in a row in which I've done that. Bad, bad me. But really - for courgette, it's true).

W - What makes you run late: You mean there's another way to live?

- X-rays you’ve had: None.

Y - Yummy food you make: Well, the Builder loves my Lemon Cake; I love the oatcakes

DR loves 


Catherine would go for Lamb Chops in any shape or form, 

and Katie makes my favourite: Victoria Sponge.

We do kinda like our food in this house.

- Zoo favorite: Oh, I haven't visited a zoo since I was a wee very young girl. DR and Catherine visited Toronto Zoo last summer and loved it.

Me just now to DR: "DR, what was your favourite animal in Toronto Zoo last year?"

DR: "Oh, that's a good question.... The Rhinos were pretty cool. The jaguars too. Oh ... the Lions, definitely the White Lions."

So there you go. Twenty-six useless pieces of information.

Bet y'all were dying to know these things.


Patrice and her Porch

I'm with Patrice again, on her porch. Head over to Everyday Ruralty and read some more from the chatting ladies. Here are Patrice's questions for this week:

1. Do you eat eggs? What is your favourite way to serve them?

Patrice, I do not like eggs at all. I mustn't use the word Bleugh for food, but really and truly.... Eggs = bleugh!

Egg Mayonnaise sandwiches - Seriously?!

Boiled eggs? Fried eggs? Nooooooo!

The only way I will eat eggs is when they're baked with flour and some other ingredients. If the eggs are part of 

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies,


in the meringue of Baked Alaska, 


in Lemon Loaves.

Ohhhh yes, I'll eat eggs in these forms. But eggs as eggs? Nope. 

Thank you.

2. Do you have a favourite item that you really like having around? (a pillow, a chair, a sweater, a teddy bear etc)

Ummmm ... I don't think so. Mind you, our American friends gave me a blanket wrap for Christmas. It's the coziest thing I have ever used. When I go up to the Lounge at lunch time for my quiet time, I wrap it around me, and it truly feels like it's heated.

Thank you guys!

3. Is  most of the furniture in your home dark wood, light wood, painted, lacquered, or distressed?

In the Lounge, it's mostly  dark wood. Almost all of that furniture has either been in our home since we were married, or has been given to us by others.

You can't really see a lot of the furniture here, but the framed pictures on the wall give an idea of the colour of the furniture.

In the Family Room, though, the furniture is pine.

This is our slouchy room, where we kick of our shoes, put our feet up, 

and it's where Jackson loves to gaze out longingly at the world outside.

4. Please fill in the rest of this sentence. "I could write a book about ____________ "

I could probably write a book about beginning projects which remain unfinished. But of course, the book would be begun and not completed, so you'd never get to see it.

I could almost certainly write a book on the number of times I 'speak' to a person in my mind, but don't actually pick up the phone to call them.

But I'd probably be best at a book that was specifically designed to appeal to any who may wish to read the ramblings of a home-schooling, island-living, kid-loving, somewhat-disjointed mother of four blessings.

5. If money and calender/family obligations weren't an issue, would you prefer to spend next weekend at a Bed and Breakfast, a posh hotel, a cabin in the woods, or on a sailboat on a calm body of water? I guess the last thing - the sailboat - would have to be someplace warm :) (It's 30+ degrees here).

My choice would definitely be a cabin in the woods. Total peace and quite. A log fire (Are they safe in a log cabin in the woods? I have visions of something going awry, and realizing that that log fire would have a whole lot of fuel right on its doorstep. Oh, not a nice thought... But I'm still sticking with the cabin in the woods.)

You offering, Patrice?


Last Week's Facebook ... And Other Stuff

Over the past week, these are some of the photos and comments I've had on the Homeschool on the Croft Facebook Page. If you don't have Facebook, I don't want you to miss out, so I share some of them here.

I shared this from a link DR had put on his own Facebook page.

How many of you can relate to it?

*      *      *

I was so glad to see this on a number of Facebook Pages. Our children will be Godly only when God works in their hearts. Making them 'godly' is not our job. Thankfully.

Being the Godly parents this picture speaks of is our responsibility. 

Ouch. That truly convicts.

*      *      *

The Wee Guy found this hilarious, and has told everyone he's met this story.

*      *      *

This photo was from an older blog post, but I re-posted my recipe for Scottish Oatcakes on Tuesday.

*       *      *

I posted this on Friday. It may be slightly amusing, but it is true.

The Builder phoned me yesterday around lunch time.

Builder: "I am SO glad I married you ..."

Me: contented sigh

Builder: "You make an amazing Lemon Cake."

Aye, I suppose I have my uses then ...

*      *      *

On Saturday evening I posted this photo. There was a slight aurora, as you can see, but I really wished I could show you the awesomeness of the sky all around us. No wonder the psalmist said in Psalm 8, 'When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained ... What is man, that thou art mindful of him?'

Yes, David. That is just what makes me wonder when I, in awe, consider the vastness and beauty of the stars.

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: Amos 5: 8

*      *      *

And on Saturday, I posted this photo, taken (of course) from my Family Room window. The Wee Guy is in the bright yellow Hi-viz jacket, and himself, his cousin, his auntie and Big Brother are ... are ... erm ... "Calum! What were you doing on Saturday with the sheep?"

Calum: "We were piercing their ears..."

Oh. That seems reasonable. They're girls after all.

*      *      *

And now, the tone of this post is going to change. Big style. Do you know that since I began posting last Monday - that's a week ago, this has happened:

* each day, 125,000 unborn children have been taken from their mother's womb. In a week, that amounts 875,000 babies who will never have the opportunity to learn to count and to read, who will never sit with their siblings watching TV, who will never receive one hug or one kiss. 

Over three-quarters of a million babies will never have the opportunity to learn a trade, to marry or to have children of their own.

* of these 875,000 babies, over 20,000 of them would have grown up to be American. Twenty thousand ... just in one week. They will never sit round a campfire, or fly the flag, or play baseball.

The same thing has happened in my own nation over the past week too. And today, I wonder how I can live my own life, and barely give these children a thought.

I think it's because it's too much.

The numbers are too huge. It almost doesn't seem real. Like the figures in budget deficits, they seem incomprehensible. They are figures on a page. Surely they can't be representative of real, live human beings?

The sorrow is too great. I can't look at these numbers, accept the statistics, or read the facts without ending up in tears. I just cannot take it. It's agony for me. I have carried four of these precious bundles myself. I felt them move, learned of their different stages. I saw them on ultrasounds, and loved them before I ever met them. These are babies! Real, live children. And they are being torn from their mothers' wombs, and I can't bear it.

I want to put my arms around every one of these young mums who are making the decision to terminate the life of their child. I want to hug them and love them into changing their minds. I want it to stop. But I feel utterly helpless and hopeless. I want to tell them how much they will love this child once he or she is born. 

I wish I felt the same love towards our leaders who allow this to happen, but right now I feel anger towards them. I pray for a spirit of prayer for them. I do pray that God would have mercy on them, but I feel anger too. 

The problem seems too huge to be able to do anything of any worth. I pray. I weep. I try to talk to my kids, but I weep when I talk. I pray, weeping, that God would give them grace to DO what I haven't done.

And I don't even know what to do. But now, at this stage, all I know is that I must do something. I pray that God would show me what to do. I hardly know what to do. It seems easier to do nothing. I hardly know what to feel. It seems easier not to feel anything ... it's less painful.

And do you know that since you began reading this blog post, another seven hundred unborn children have lost their lives? It really is simply incomprehensible. 

Oh Lord, have mercy ...

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