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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Christmas is for Everyone

I have heard it often, ''Oh, we don't bother with that now, Christmas is just for children.''
Ever heard that? I am sure you have. I was reminded again as I read aloud our book for the Advent.
If we believe Christmas is just for children, then we have lost the whole idea of Christmas. Yes, we can argue Christmas has been commercialised, but I refute that. I claim Christmas back, back to what it is meant to be. What does Christmas mean to us?

Being thankful for God's precious gift, the gift of his son Jesus. John 3:16 ''For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but hath everlasting life.''

Being joyful that he has redeemed us, in such a dark season, we are reminded that He is light, and there is no darkness in him. I have some scented candles, they make me think of the light in Christ, and the fact that he is everything good, and holy. A sweet aroma.

Salvation cannot come without repentance. The end of the year brings reflection, and time to evaluate things, maybe asking ourselves have we been walking in the Spirit. What areas of weakness do we have, what about our children?

Christmas is about giving, not receiving, the joy is in giving. It isn't about expensive presents, consumerism, worldly expectation.
We like to keep it simple, just a few gifts, a main gift each. We keep the meal simple, just a turkey roast dinner. A relaxed, but happy day. A family day. A day for strengthening bonds. There are so many who are poor in this life, but with salvation in Christ you are never poor.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Saving Money on Groceries-Continued

When I wrote the last post, I included the basic framework for money saving. If, however, you wish to take it a step further, you may want to consider these options:
1) Check out your local markets.
If you live in a place where there is a lot of farming, then this is usually a good option. Look out for in season fruit and veg, and check out local box schemes. If you end up with excess veg, you can just put it into a pizza, bolognaise, or soup.

2) Check out farmers' places for your eggs, and potatoes.
We can get a 25kg sack for £7, and if we buy 5 we save more. Potatoes will keep for a few months in cold conditions. In summer, I buy less in bulk.

3) Check out places like Approvedfood. They deliver, and you can also pick up, if you are near Sheffield. They offer food past its best before date, but which is still safe to eat. (I have also found discounted stuff past its sell by date in out of the way cheap stores. Keep your eyes open!)

4) Grow your own.
Even if you don't have loads of space, you can still grow herbs, and salads in pots. Even through winter on south facing window sill.

5) Check out the supermarkets' reduced aisle.
Often this is good an hour, or two before the shop closes. So, generally at the end of the day.

6) Do a menu plan. Make sure you have a variety, I have 3 red meat meals, and at least one veggy meal a week. I can change this to fit offers, and such, but it means I know how much I need to buy!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

How I save over £3000 on Food each Year

If you have a large family, you will especially notice how the food bill can so easily tot up, and get out of control. Here, is how I manage to save each week....
1) I tend to do a bulk of my grocery shopping online, as we live a long way from any supermarkets. I save on delivery slots by opting for the cheapest slots, and working around that. Waitrose offers free delivery, a free newspaper, and magazine. Asda, Morrisons, and Tesco offer £1 slots.

So, firstly, I always log onto Reason being, as it compares prices across all the shops, including Aldi. Also, there is often good cash back on items, and sometimes they can be free. They pay the money within a couple of weeks straight into paypal. Very handy if they are things you buy.

2) I register with every possible online grocery store there is. I find then, that they often send money off offers, especially if I haven't shopped for a while. Two current offers are with Waitrose, and Morrisons. Spend 2 £100 shops with Waitrose online before 10th Nov with my Waitrose card, and they will send a £20 voucher in end of November. Morrisons spend £40 a week for the next 6 weeks to get £25 off your Christmas shop. Not to be sniffed at, they now price match Lidl, and I already have earned my first voucher to use online.

3) Bulk buy stuff you use when it is on offer. A current example of this, is the porridge half price offers, which some of us like to have for breakfast. There are a lot of things we like to eat, but I wait to buy on an offer, and then fill the freezer accordingly.

4) When I do get time to shop at a store I go to Lidl, or Aldi. Watch out for £5 coupons in the Saturday Daily Telegraph. I have found a couple of late, which have been very useful. I top up at Lidl and Aldi with free range chicken, ground coffee, croissants, nuts, and chocolate. Great quality, at not to be missed prices.

5) Quality, that is one thing I don't like to compromise on, especially when it comes to meat. Check out beef offers, for joints at Christmas, and Easter each year. It goes for half price in most stores, meaning I can stock the freezer. Very expensive otherwise, especially for a family of 12.

6) If you are registering for the first time with a grocery shop, check out topcashback, or quidco first, as there is always cashback for new customers. I got £11 back off my first Morrisons shop.

If you have another idea, or something you have found helpful, leave it in the comments.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Healthy eating

I am always learning new things about health and nutrition. It has been a bit of a passion of mine for many years now. I believe that God created different foods, and plants for our healing, and nutrition. If we make good choices, then we can help ourselves by having less health problems, and illnesses etc.

After having being disappointed by The Trim Healthy Mama diet, I decided to do more research on losing weight (I have actually lost 2 stone since then).

I have also since discovered I can tolerate small amounts of xylitol. You can purchase this as ''total sweet'' at Holland and Barrat, and Waitrose. This isn't zero calories, but is half the amount of normal sugar. Beware though, as this is highly toxic to dogs.

I have also decided to try to concentrate on eating more lower GI foods. Gi, is the glycaemic index which has been given to foods, based on how the blood glucose level rises after eating certain foods. Porridge, for example gives a steady response, and is low GI, and Cheerios gives a quick burst, which then slumps,giving it a high GI. Protein lowers the GI content, so it is important to choose protein at every meal, and probably why I lose more weight when I snack on nuts!

Now, it is impossible to cut out all sugar from the diet, because even vegetables. However, I have tried to cut it right down, by not choosing grapes, eating only just ripe bananas, etc. I gave up sugar in tea and coffee a couple of years ago, and that has cut a dramatic amount of sugar from the diet. Think 4g is 1 teaspoon, and I was having 3 coffees, with 2 sugars in each, and 3 teas with 1 sugar. That is 36g of sugar, less, and in ten days is equal to more than a third of a small packet of sugar!

I have a grave concern with how diets such as THM use an awful lot of high fat foods, such as double cream, cheese, etc, and also fatty meats like pork, etc, which also contains nitrates. I believe moderation is the key with everything, even vegetables! We all know the effects of eating too much fruit, and veg.

So, what am I eating, and what am I doing?
Well, I bake a lot of my own, which means I control the amount of sugar, etc, and use good ingredients.
Here is a typical list of what I eat during a typical day:
Breakfast: a small bowl of porridge with wholemilk, and a sprinkling of xylitol.
Lunch: 2 slices of wholemeal toast, with butter, and baked beans.
Dinner: Roast free range chicken, roast sweet potato, and half a small roast normal potato with 3 different veg, and gravy.
Pudding might be some yoghurt, or some home made cake.
snacks include nuts, a piece of fruit, veg, and a hot chocolate made with almond milk, and a teaspoon xylitol.
Occasionally I allow myself a 15g pack of crisps, but usually only once a week.

So major keys to weight loss?
1) Cut down the refined sugars
2) Eat less carbs (you don't need as much bread and potatoes, as you think you do)
3) Exercise. (Very important, as you can be slim, but unfit)
4) Eat saturated fats in moderation, and ditch meats like pork. Free range chicken is much healthier.
I find by not denying myself a pudding, I am less likely to feel deprived. My pudding usually contains no more than 30g sugar, and that is less than what I was having in hot drinks!
This week I shall be experimenting with a healthier muffin in a mug recipe. Watch this space! When I have tweaked it, I will post it.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Natural Toilet Cleaning

I have been using vinegar to clean windows, and generally around the house, but never thought of using it to clean the toilet. That was until a local man said it was the ONLY thing to rid the toilet of the dreaded limescale rings.
Believe me, I had tried everything on the market, but none delivered. All I got was a nasty cocktail of chemicals, which will eventually damage the environment.
So, the first thing is to purchase lots of white, distilled vinegar. They sell it quite cheaply at Asda and Tesco, at around 50p for 500ml.
First put some in a spray bottle, this is to squirt around the rim. Squirt some on the toilet brush too, leave for 30 mins, then scrub. It will start to loosen off, but may take a few applications to come off completely. Do this weekly, at least.
Next, you need to empty the toilet bowl of as much water as possible, and this can be done by plunging the toilet brush up and down. If it is very bad, then you will need about 2 cups of vinegar. Pour it in, and then leave for at least an hour. If possible, overnight is best. Then scrub.
Vinegar is a natural anibacterial product, so it will kill germs dead. Forget the dettol, which costs 5 times as much, and is full of cancer causing chemicals. Here are some more uses for vinegar:
1) cleaning windows- put a little on a cloth, and wipe, or spray on.
2) The dishwasher rinse aid- just pour in, and it will also help kill germs!
3) The rinse drawer of the washing machine- great for softening, and fab for nappies, and towels etc, as it adds germ power.
4) general bathroom cleaning-tackle limescale effectively, and safely.
5) worktops, and highchair trays.
If you can think of any more, then let me know!

Saturday, 4 October 2014


Much as I love Summer, the end of it heralds some great foraging.
Last week we picked a couple bushels of apples. I am going to peel, and cook them this weekend, and use them to freeze for sponges. I will include the sponge topping recipe at the end.
We also found lots of juicy blackberries, which I also made into bramble jelly/jam. It is quite simple to do, just wash them, and weigh them, and add just under the same quantity of sugar to a saucepan, with a little lemon juice. Boil for around 7-10 minutes, and leave to cool. It should set nicely.
Yesterday, we found some sweet chestnuts. There were also some conkers thrown in though, but it is easy enough to tell the difference.
Here is the horse chestnut, which as you can see has less spikes, and different shaped leaves...

The sweet chestnut, which I think sometimes looks like a furry animal! Well, the outer casing does, anyway.....

(pictures courtesy of woodland trust)
Here are some of us picking them...(Good idea to use gloves)

Oh, and I almost forgot about picking Bilberries/wynberries in Wales. They are like a smaller and sweeter version of blueberry. Taste lovely with a sponge on top, and the best organic icecream you can buy!

Interesting, as we spotted just two bushes in Sherwood Forest, the last ones left.

Here is the sponge recipe, to go on top of fruit. This serves six, so double, or triple, as needed.
Marg/butter, selfraising flour (I use some wholegrain, too) sugar, eggs, milk.
Cream 4 ounces marg with a little sugar (maybe 2-3 TBS)
Add 2 beaten eggs
Fold in the 6 ounces of self raising flour.
Mix, and add a couple TBS of milk. Add some vanilla if you like.
Spread evenly over your fruit mix, so it is on top.
Bake at 200 c for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes clean.
Enjoy with ice cream, or custard!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My Joy Stone

Yesterday, we were looking at stones on the beach, and Angela picked up a stone. At first glance, it seemed a bit run of the mill, until I got a closer look......

Hard to make out anything from the picture, but it seemed to spell the letters, J...o......Y
A few of the children thought the same, too. Made me think a little. We can choose to be joyful, or we can be just plain grumpy. Of course, it is easier to be joyful when we FEEL like being joyful. My joy, apart from in the Lord, has been in serving my family. There is JOY in serving others. Joy in meeting others' needs, and joy in giving, and being unselfish.
I had left my bag on the beach, and hadn't realised that the little ones had filled my bag with quite a lot of stones! I ended up lugging that bag a couple of miles, up steps, over rocks, beaches, and down steps.......Phew, I was feeling the weight of it. When I got back, I found all the stones! Reminded me of Pilgrim's progress, and Pilgrim's burden. If only I had realised I didn't need to carry those stones! Of course spiritually, Jesus takes our burden of sin, and makes it his own. Through HIS death on the cross. If only we repent, and believe, we can be relieved of this burden. The burden of sin.
Of course, even as Christians we can make life burdensome. By choosing to be joyful, and thanking God in EVERYTHING, we can make life a lot easier. I am going to call the stone my 'Joy' stone, and have put it in a trinket box, so I can be reminded of it when I don't feel especially joyful!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Home made Muesli

I like a good muesli. One with lots of different fruit and nuts in. However, those ones always tend to be the ones that are very expensive. I have discovered it is more fun making your own, and definitely tastier. What's more, it only takes a couple of minutes.
Here is a rough guide of how to, and of course you can tailor this to your own preferences.
Ingredients needed:
Rye flakes,
Now Asda, and Aldi seem to offer the best value in dried nuts and fruit. Here is what I put in mine:
5 cups oats
2 cups wheat flakes
2 cups rye flakes
1 cup sultanas
1 cup nuts
1 cup of nuts/fruit mix
Fot a treat you can add chocolate chips, some dried coconut is nice, too. Really, there are loads of different combos.
Make sure you shake up, and store in air tight container like the cereal ones you can get at Poundland.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Be Ye Kind

I noticed with a sighing heart that the younger children were starting to be particularly rude to each other, to the point of name calling etc. They had been disciplined, but it seemed to go in one ear and out the other.
One of Angela's memory verses she had learned that week was, ''Be ye kind'' so I decided to see how long they could go without being nasty to each other, and name calling. If they lasted a week they would earn a Kinder Surprise at the end of it. Amazingly it worked, though for the youngest it took 2 weeks. It made them stop and think before they say things. Something I have had to learn recently, too! Always good to think before we speak, and it has made them that much more aware. A couple weeks later, and they are not perfect, but things are a little more harmonious.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

How Home Educating Does Equip Children for the World

Yes, you have heard it I''ll bet, and I have as well. Too many times to mention in fact, and often from people in church. They ask, how will our children be able to interact in the world if they don't go to school. Now, this assumes that you need to go to school to be able to interact with others, and suggests that the school is not just for education.
First of all, you need a decent education to be able to get a job at the end of the day, and recent reports have shown that schools are even failing that, as the Tesco, and Morrison's bosses found. However, that aside, when schools are asked to explain why there is a trend to poor social skills in school leavers, they blame the parents. Ha, it is the parents who are responsible for this. Interesting, eh? See, that is it from the moment the child is born, the parents interact with the child. The child learns to smile, and picks up his/her first language from the parent. It is parents who teach them table manners, politeness, etc. We reward positive selfless interaction with other children, and siblings, such as sharing toys, sweets etc. They won't be able to make friends as easily, if they don't learn how to share, and regard others' feelings, and it is us as parents who teach them that.
School can be at a disadvantage here, as children are grouped according to age. The problem is, group a bunch of five, or seven year olds together, and you are not going to help them get on with all age groups. They are more likely to pick up negative behaviours, especially being immature.When I was in school I had a few friends a couple of years younger, and the teachers reported that this wasn't ''normal'' How so? In the real world my friends are by no means even close to my age always. I haven't even mentioned the Christian aspect here of children learning things which are clearly unbiblical. When children are not arranged by age group I have found that the older children will have a positive influence on the younger children, and it helps them to mature in the right way. (That is indeed if the older children have been brought up well.)It also helps older children exercise nurture skills. The peer-age bias is diminished, meaning that children are free to be individuals , and not to feel that they have to do a, b, and c to fit in. How is wearing a certain brand of clothes, listening, and following certain celebrities positive? Children should be able to express individuality, not follow the crowd.
This is where the Christian element comes in, as ''Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.'' Ps 1
Why on earth would Christians need their children to be educated by non Christians to ensure that they are to be successful? If the school that we would send our children to teaches things contrary to the Bible, and/or promotes ungodly behaviour, then why would we want to expose them to that negativity?
One of the major benefits of home education is that children get exposed to all age groups, and make lots of different friends in different places. I think we have made more friends, and met far more people home educating, than we ever would of had if the children were in school.
When I was in school, I remember just mixing with the same people all the time. Ironically, I didn't really learn to interact well with others till I joined the church. I was shy, and being thrown in the deep end helped.
So, remember, we are equipped for this! It doesn't take a ''professional'' to teach these things, though I may need the help of a rocket scientist if my children decide to visit the moon. :-o

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

To Judge or not to Judge, that is the question.

Have been thinking about the concept of judging others recently, and again I am guilty. I am sure that it is a trend that we lean to, even without meaning to. I had always thought of 'judging' as rather forming an opinion of someone, or even pronouncing a judgement on them. However, it goes deeper than that.
I was reading Matthew Henry recently, as I have his commentary in a study bible. It has been so edifying, and sometimes convicting. I love the fact that he is so thorough, and biblical. He stated, '' We usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view.''
That made me think a little deeper. How often have we said so and so did that because of.....I have been guilty of judging my husband like that, and also others. That is why it is very good to think the best of people first, even though human nature is desperately wicked at best.
I have had accusations by others made, like, Oh you broke that because you wanted a new one, or you broke that because you were angry. It can make you angry when someone thinks, and says the wrong thing!
I have heard of long term friendships end in just a few seconds, and usually over something so silly, but sadly often an example of the one judging the other. It happens again, and again, and again, and in Christian circles too. Even in the church.
So, it is not for us to question motives of others. There may be a perfectly understandable explanation, not to mention hidden things which we cannot see. There are two sides to every story. There is a lot of this on the net, as certain preachers are accused of heresy, or gross sin. People jump on the bandwagon, and yet it sometimes turns out that the remark was taken out of context, or the 'gross sin' was rumour. I have had the consequences of rumour, when we were mistaken for another family, and consequently it got a little out of hand. When I explained to one who had believed it, she said she had no idea, but rather assumed. Again....assumption, can be a terrible thing.
So, let's think more about others, especially within the church. corinthians 1:13 (charity in this case = love)
''and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.''
We will not always agree on things, and it is a good thing we are all unique individuals. However, this should never be in the fundamental issues of salvation and faith. In Phillipians 4, Paul exhorts Euodias, and Syntyche (2 ladies involved in God's work) to be of the same mind. It is important that even though we may disagree, we should never let that interfere with the bonds of love we share as fellow believers.
Also to remember that no one is perfect, and yes, even friends will do foolish things sometimes. We need to be quickly able to forgive and forget. Another thing people do is to bring up past transgressions that happened years ago/months ago. If we are still holding that against people we have not forgiven. The most powerful help we have in respect of forgiveness is the indwelling Holy Spirit, and prayer. If we feel bitter, than pray!
There is a time when judging is taken out of context, and that is often when we say something is wrong, for example fornication. The Bible is very clear on this, Acts 15:20 ''But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.''
Yet, people will often say I am judgemental. These things are clear, and if a person calling themselves a Christian engages willfully in it without repentance, then they need rebuke. These are not my opinions, but the Bible's commands. Some things are not so clear, and in these smaller things we need to be patient, and pray for more understanding, and not to be argumentative. It is good to discuss, but we have to be respectful too, unless serious error is presented.
Let us not think that even though we shouldn't judge, we shouldn't be discerning, as in Phillipians 3:2 ''Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beaware of the concision.'' Strong warning there, as ''dog'' is quite a strong term for the day. The Bible constantly warns that false teachers will come among us. So, what can we do there? We need to KNOW the scriptures, so we can test their doctrine against God's word. So many fall for false teaching, they may be meek, and humble, but those qualities without discernment, and a knowledge of the scriptures are dangerous.
To finish, is this verse true of us? Do we truly love the saints? ''By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Also, let us think next time. Am I judging her/his intention/motive? We would have far less misunderstandings, and hurt if we could only think, and not be so quick to judge! (Me included :( )

Friday, 28 March 2014


Yesterday, we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. We had a nice day, at M&S for lunch, a spot of shopping, and a meal later. The two eldest girls cooked the dinner for everyone else. I think they appreciate more what I do, now!
I was thrilled to pick up an opera arrangement book for piano. It was done in the 1960's, so quite old, they did some great arrangements in those days. I always love to have new pieces to play, and like to just pick it up and start straight away. I found it ironic, that as part of the collection, it included the Bridal Suite. Ironic, as it was played on our wedding day. I attempted it, but threw a few wrong notes. Oops! That is what marriage is about. You will always have the wrong notes, the moments of discord. Whenever I get it wrong while playing, I just pick up again from where I left off. That is exactly what we should be doing in marriage. Picking up where we left off, and apologising if required. No one is going to play all the notes perfectly, as none of us are perfect. Important to remember. It is very easy to expect extremely high standards from our spouses, while falling terribly short ourselves.

As The Lord expects us to walk in obedience to him, before we can expect any blessings, He also expects us to work at our marriages. Not an easy thing at times. Especially if you are like me, and hot headed, stubborn, and proud at times. Sometimes I have felt sooo frustrated, as men are wired different to us. However, it is about learning to complement these differences. A prefect fit? Maybe not, but as a little denying ourselves things to fit into that new skirt, or top, we also need to make sacrifices to make our marriages the best they can be. Of course fully relying on God in prayer first, too. Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Daily Devotions

I had a lovely flower diary given to me, which has an illustration on every weekly page. I thought it was too good to write my normal stuff in it, and then I had an idea. I thought it would make a great notebook to put the devotional quotes from my every day reading in.
You know when you read a great quote, and you think, hmmm, I must take a note of that? It also means that, when it is full, it will be great for a daily reading devotional, as there will be a quote for every day.
I guess you could do lots of other things, too, and give as a gift to someone. It could be personalised, or more journal type quotes.
Another thing I am doing, is noting down blessings, trying to think of one for every month. Another something to be thankful for, but not the trivial stuff, the more major things.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Chocolate Scones

Ah, now wish I had taken a pic. However, didn't really think of it at the time.
Recipe coming up......



8)bake in oven on hot for 10- 15 mins.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Why so many Children?

We got married nearly twenty one years ago. I was still in college, and on the birth control pill. Had I known what I know now, about the possibility of conception, and then the pill aborting that, I would never have taken it. Also naive to think that my carreer was far more important than anything else!

The pill made me very sick. I had migraine headaches, and vomitting. Eventually, I said enough was enough. God was telling me to give up my teacher training, and the pill. Within a couple of months I was pregnant with my first child. Not an easy pregnancy really. I had horrid morning sickness to start, and developed tachycardia later on, and severe anaemia. Had to see a heart specialist, as a rather pompous obstetrician diagnosed me with anaemic heart failure. (don't always believe what so called experts say) I was subsequently told my heart was excellent, and that obstetrician had wasted his time. I had planned a home birth, so when my waters started to leak, my midwife came out. I didn't actually feel contractions, I was in agony ALL the time. I had 16 hours of that, even running out of gas and air. I finally was transferred to the hospital 32 miles away by ambulance. Cherith was born 30 minutes later, just as my husband told the midwives, and me. They said to my husband, ''you must know something we don't'' Yep, prayer, and faith in God, our creator. I am afraid, we had said before we married that we would both be open to a large family. I however told my husband that there was no way I was having any more........Funny how the Lord can help you forget, and soften your heart.
Breast feeding was awful, as I had such soreness, I would actually bleed. A friend encouraged me to keep going, but half formula. I am glad she did, as I was all for giving the breast up!
Five months later, I was pregnant again. A lovely baby boy later, and an amazing birth. Just six hours. So much different to the first!
We had decided to have as many as the Lord gave us, and trusted that he would provide the finances, and indeed the strength, both emotionally, and physically to endure it. Now some say, you are tempting God to have lots of children, and expect the Lord to provide. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that supports this, in fact the opposite. ''children are an heritage from the Lord.''
There is nowhere in the Bible where it tells us we should limit our children due to finances. I heard one pastor say, when he was critiquing the idea of ''quiverful'' that we don't try to aqquire as much money as possible, so why should we do it with children. What a ludicrous suggestion!! As if children can be equated with money. ''the love of money is the root of all evil'' Children, are a blessing, and the fruit of the womb. They are the natural by product of marriage. If it was not so, the Lord would have said!

Our third child was a boy. He was born still in the amniotic sac. The midwife said he would be special, and was one in a million. (No wonder it was so hard to push him out!)
Our fourth child, another boy, and the first of our Scottish children.
Our fifth was another girl, and the most demanding. The midwife demanded that I put her in her cot on her own, and leave her cry...........30 minutes later, and the midwife conceded defeat. It seemed Charity only ever wanted to be close to mummy. Now, she is a very loving thirteen year old, but feisty, too!
Our sixth was a boy, and he was the first real late one. two weeks late, and we thought we wouldn't have a babysitter, as she was going to have to go home!. He was born on her last day, after much prayer! I wasn't induced, as I believe, unless there is a major medical concern, they will be born in the Lord's time. Not always our time, or in our comfort zone.
Our seventh was a month late. Now that WAS a testing time. We ended up with 2 babysitters, and a grumpy me, as it was a summer pregnancy, and I carried for over ten months. I also had a severe varicose vein problem in my leg, causing extreme pain at times. Again, I did not get induced, though at the end, due to contractions coming irregular, I had pitocin administered. We called her Hosanna Patience. Don't ask me why!
Our eighth child was born 20 months later. I had a severe post partum haemorrage. I recovered without a blood transfusion. I just didn't want to take the risk. I had been offered a transfusion before my first, and that year, a whole batch had been contaminated. I don't take these things lightly.
It was at this point that we decided to try to avoid certain times for my health, as I needed to get strength back, and iron levels up. There was a threee year gap almost, and then baby number nine was born. She was very difficult, and had severe reflux as a baby.
Three years later, our tenth was born, again nearly a month late. This time the hospital was rather annoyed that I was the first in its recent history to go over the 2 weeks without induction. One was not needed, as she was born in the Lord's time, and it was probably my best labour.

So, does the Bible say we must have as many children as God gives us? No, we are given freedom, as we are saved by grace, not works. However, works being evident, and a sign OF our faith. I believe that you cannot enter into a Christian marriage, and not expect to have children. This totally confuses one of the purposes of marriage. We also can't expect to turn on our fertility like a tap. I am forty now, and do not know if I will be blessed with any more. Mara is three and a half now. I do believe it is something that should be discussed before marriage, and also something that should be taken seriously, and prayerfully. God does bless obedience to him. He wants us to joyfully do His will. We need to seek out what his will is regarding our fertility, we cannot take it lightly. I have not heard anyone regret having the children they have had, as a norm, but plenty who have looked back, and wished they had more.
Maybe you are suffering ill health, or you feel you just can't handle any more children. Pray! Ask for the Lord's wisdom and strength. It has been a real blessing birthing 10 children. Hasn't always been easy, but the Lord has ALWAYs provided. Sometimes in amazing ways.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Lessons from the Classics

We thoroughly enjoy reading the classics such as Austen, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Trollope. Just lately we have been watching a few of the dramatisations. Jane Eyre, Our Mutual Friend, and Pride and Predjudice. These are ones you can watch again, and again in my opinion. I will never forget the first time I read Jane Eyre, it was in my sick bed and I was very sick with chickenpox, and also 5 months pregnant with our first child. I was captivated, and have since read loads more. I think all the super analysing in school had put me off. For A level English we had to read Emma, by Jane Austen, and it is tedious to say the least when you are trying to analyse, and read things into the book that probably are not there intentionally, and most certainly do NOT have a hidden meaning.
Anyway, what I like about them is the characters that are developed in the story. Dickens, and Austen especially have a remarkable knack for pulling out various traits, and with Dickens the result can be at sometimes somewhat dark, but oh so true to life.
Take Our Mutual Friend; the schoolmaster is shown to have an obsessive jealousy. In the bible we read that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. In this case it leads to almost murder. The heroes are always the ones with the good character traits, and in John Harmon, and Mr and Mrs Boffin we see how they do not set their hearts upon money, and are shown to have humility. It really is a tale of how jealousy can corrupt, and in different ways.
Pride and Predjudice, is exactly as it says; a story of how our prejudices can get in the way of what we think about people, and how indeed things really are. How silly choices, and following youthful lusts can lead to ill consequences.
They make an excellent talking point to discuss with our children. Discussions about marrying the right person, making the right choices, and how the character's actions tie in with the Bible, and what the Bible outlines as moral, and good. I wonder if people do not wear their hearts on their sleeves these days so much, but maybe hide behind social media, for example. Again, we need to teach our children not to always assume people are who, or what they say they are.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Preparing for a Local Authority Visit

Most Local Authorities like to visit Home educators once a year. If you have never had a visit, it can be a bit daunting, not knowing what to expect. I am writing this post in the hope that it will help, especially having had experience over the last fifteen years of home educating.
Really it is not something you can just do on the spur of the moment. You need to prepare the year's work in a manner that is accessible. The first thing they will want to see is what you have been doing for the last year. They can get overwhelmed if you bring out all of the work your children have been doing, so it is a good idea to get some samples of their work during the year. You can file it in a folder, and then it forms a rather nice keepsake later on.
So what sort of work do you need to file? I would say anything that you have been doing and consider as part of your home educating.
Maths work, stories, science work, paintings, worksheets. It may be a good idea to keep a variety, and file for different subjects if you have a lot of work involved.
What if a lot of your work isn't written though?
This is where photographs can come in. You can take pictures of art creations they have done. Maybe it is just a den in the woods they have built. Maybe they have baked a cake. It can be photographed and logged.
Sometimes I have offered them a written report of my children's work over the year. The workbooks they have completed, and the topics we have covered. They always find these helpful. I don't always havetime for them, but they are useful to me, too, as I can see that yes, we have actually got somewhere in the last year of home education! Sometimes it is so easy to think that we have accomplished little, when we have accomplished far more than we thought, and yes, you can see the children's progress. If they were in school, the teacher would have to log regular reports, and to record their learning targets, etc.

So, make sure you have all this to hand when they call, and relax! They just usually speak to each child in turn, and ask them what they have been doing, interests, and how they like home education. It is so much easier if you have their work set out in neat piles. They like to see order, progression, and age suitable work, and materials. Don't forget to include the stuff you do at home ed groups, and field trips, too.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Change 4 Life?

I was going to write this post, and then forgot, then was promted again by a post on facebook.
Heard of the change 4 life programme? Supposed to be healthy. Basically, you swap high fats for low fats, sugars for sweetners, and sugary cereal for plain cereal.
Sound good? Hmm, on the face of it, it sounds logical......however.......
Sweetners in my opinion are NOT healthy. I have done a lot of research into this, and cannot tolerate any sweetners myself. I tried truvia, and even that affected me. However, you may want to research the natural stevia extract, as there is some promising research on this, though personally I don't want to try that. I would rather cut down on sugar which I have. In fact I was only reading yesterday that orange juice is unhealthy. I knew that yonks ago, and now just rather the fruit instead, pure and unadulterated.
For years I switched to low fats, from butter to marg, semi skimmed, and yep, even lo fat cheese. (aagh, that stuff is tasteless)
Now, what is the point in NOT enjoying food? Nope, I would rather enjoy it. So, I have been embracing butter, and full fat milk, but being sensible, and yes, it really does satisfy.
Now, only one I can agree on, and that is the swapping sugar laden cereals to plain. That IS sensible, and I think you get more energy too. I feel sluggish if I have devoured a sickly sweet breakfast, but give me porridge, with half milk, and water, and half a teaspoon on sugar, and I am raring to go. It has the yum factor too, but thenI am odd anyway, and like wierd things.
Oh, and I forgot to mention for the first time ever, that the weight I lost has stayed off. Funny isn't it? I must admit though, I have been making sure I do serious exercise three times a week. ;-)

Monday, 6 January 2014

When I fall in Love.....

Ever heard the song, ''When I fall in Love, it will be Forever'' ?
With friends celebrating anniversaries in the last month, it has brought it to mind.
Given the number of divorces, and break ups though, what is going wrong, many of them had thought it would be for at least a very long time? Sadly, this is not only non Christians.
I think one of the major reasons, is our understanding of the word love, and the concept of falling in love. Is love a warm, and fuzzy feeling, and does it make your heart beat faster? You may answer yes, to this, but that isn't something that will last. We will be 21 years married this March, and those warm fuzzy feelings do not last, it needs to be built on something stronger than that.
What does the Bible say?
1 corinthians 13:4 '' Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.''
What can we learn from this?
I think first things first, we need to stop wishing our husbands were someone else. Mine isn't particularly the romantic type, he has his moments, but is definitely not the type to write me love notes, and give me flowers often. However, (and this is the extremely practical part) he will clean up sick, poop, and bring me coffee before he goes off to work. So, there you are, love is practical.
We need to focus on our duties as wives, and to meditate on the bible, and what the bible says about women. There are many unhappy marriages, because the wife is domineering, and not submissive. Our husbands are to lead us, and we are to respect that. Not easy though, I have not been good at this sometimes!
We need to encourage, and be cheerful. Sadly, I sometimes fail in this. My daughter sometimes describes me as a negative realist. Something I need to focus on, as no one likes someone who is constantly negative.
Weneed to believe the best in our husbands, and certainly not to be quick to judge their intentions, or actions. Remember, there is often an explanation for misperceptions.
We need to remember both are imperfect, and it is easy to be blind to our faults, and yet able to pick out loads in our husbands! We need to pray that God will show us our faults. Oh, rue the day, when I think I am perfect! If we do have issues, then disscuss, and pray, but never nag. It is so easy to nag. I am afraid, mine often forgets to do things, and I have to gently remind him. He hates it when I nag. I am sure we would hate it if our husband started nagging, but it doesn't seem to bea trait that men are prone to.
I end with this wonderful quote from Matthew Henry; ''that the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.''

Friday, 3 January 2014

My Barley Grass Experiment

A year ago I was desperate. Desperate for relief from my yeast issues, and my constipation issues, which in turn brought on a very nasty case of haemerrhoids. Not wonderful if you are a mum of any, never mind ten, as I could barely walk at the worst times.
With a friend's advice I started taking barley grass. I bought it in the powder form from I started with just a tea spoon mixed in some hot water, and took it before breakfast. Over the year, I worked up to 1 tablespoon, and to be honest, I think the one tablespoon dose has been the most effective for me.
A year on, and I have lost 1 and a half stone, am mainly free from yeast issues, and rarely suffer with the issues of constipation I had, so yes, I think it has made a big difference, as it is also something I have taken every day.
Barley grass has several benefits, and some reckon it is the best thing you can take nutritionally.
1) It is easily digested- In minutes, in fact.
2) Contains high levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and chlorophyll.
3) Has stong alkalizing effects. (Great for yeast conditions, due to this factor)
4) It is claimed it is the only vegetable supplying ALL the nutrients we need.
5) Relieves constipation, and improves digestion.
Some even say it can help with diabetes, and asthma. I can see why for diabetes, as it does help with the blood sugar, as in stabilising it.
There are many other considered benefits, I have just listed the ones I feel are credible in my experience.
It is always best taken first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, for best effect.
If you are reading this, Anne, thanks for the great advice! That is why I am posting this, as maybe someone else can be helped in the way I have.