outnumbered: days 6 to 7

Dear friends

Day 6 – Much to say about everything today. A refreshing start with a solo run – our eldest daughter has caught a cold from her sister who caught it from their dear father who began suffering days before travelling. Solo was fine – it was a beautiful, sunny morning – a time for thought and prayer.

Back home, after my shower, the children began to wake. Our eldest son has maths revision class in school today, leaving our eldest daughter to baby sit.  I could foresee the day – much Dragons (Cressida Cowell), DC comics films, some homework and cheesy tuna pasta for lunch.  But the younger two will be happy!!  I came back yesterday to find our youngest daughter with partially straightened hair – our eldest daughter having used my old tongs we found in the garage – and a burnt ear! That’s when they stopped 😉

A completely hectic day at work… 2 meetings plus site visit which came to 4 hours on site; engineers not attending when they’re meant to; explaining why lime (not cement) render was specified; an architect off sick with feasibility study due; work placement student in on Monday (fortunately I don’t have to look after them this time); and no proper lunch = I grabbed a cookie and a cereal bar – no bread to pack a sandwich = expecting to buy something more substantial but no time for that.

Fortunately, there was enough chicken sauce from last night for a second dinner of chicken and rice. I should have added vegetables to the rice as a variation!!  I must ensure we don’t appear malnourished when my dear husband arrives back home!

Day 7 – Dedicated but slack mum continues!  Brunch (cereal & toast), milkshakes while out, pizza and ice cream back home, hot chocolate and cheese on toast…; no need for me to wonder why there’s never any bread!  A few years back and I used to make our bread, rolls by hand, loaves in the breadmaker. But gradually I got out of the habit, the breadmaker broke, the children got older, we earned a little more so could afford to buy sliced bread. But I bought bread flour today so I might do some this weekend – it always tastes so good and we never ate so much – it must be healthier.

I dropped round some photocopying at my Dad’s this evening – he is well enough and appreciated me attending the funeral of our cousin last week. He had dropped by in the middle of the week when I was at work with some paperwork to copy and met the children home, alone, in the garden trampolining and inside (our eldest son is 16 so there’s no babysitting issue). Dad then asked me, with a pitying look, this evening,  how I was coping.  With what,  I thought, so I said, what do you mean?  “How do you cope with the children, I mean, the little ones don’t speak.”  I laughed, Oh, they do, just a bit shy around some people.  I know they shouldn’t be around family but they are and you can’t force anyone,  they’ve got to choose.  I didn’t say that last sentence but as I left, I thought on how ‘coping’ sounds like I’m dealing with something final or long lasting, not temporary.  I know our children and they know me and their father; we love and understand each other and that intimacy in our family is something that only we understand.  I think that’s the same in most families.  I’ve never lived with my father,  I grew up with my mother; nothing is going to change that now and however much I love and care for my father,  I feel we will never have that closeness that I enjoy with my mother, and in some way, which I never intended, that has affected the grandfather/ grandchild relationship.

We watched Epic this evening:

many leaves, one tree

I like that phrase.  Some of us are simply far apart on those branches but we’re still there for each other 🙂

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outnumbered: days 1 to 5

Dear friends

No, I haven’t abandoned you all.  I’m on my own. My husband has left for an overseas trip to visit family – my mother in law is well into her 90’s – so I’m alone with our four dear children, aged 7 to 16.  And, I’m weakening… It’s day 5 of 10 in my minority position…

Day 1 – dear husband had not even reached the airport, I’m persuaded to purchase not 1, not 2, but 3 DVDs.

Days 1-5 – with permission from his father, our youngest son has decided to sleep in our bed. I’ve been kicked in the night, moves constantly (OK, that’s an exaggeration) and I think he’s fallen out of bed twice; he constantly pushes the covers off, and I’m a covers woman; I’ve left the windows open in the (vain) hope that he finds it cold; it’s ridiculous how uncomfortable it is sleeping next to a 7 year old boy! And it’s a king size bed!!

Day 2 – a quiet one, the Sabbath; home made pizza & ice cream sundaes!

Day 3 – a bank holiday, so I was home; we began clearing out the garage. Why!? I hear you cry. Because these last 10 years in this house I’ve got the blame for the state of the garage – it being (apparently) full of my journals and memorabilia… And I’d promised my husband earlier this year. I can work better on my own. I made 3 trips to the city recycling centre/ household waste.  I’m determined to finish it on day 7 when I’m next off work. And our eldest daughter repainted the front fence – our side and our neighbour! Her next goal is the front porch – I need to buy her paint!

Day 4 – had to go round to Mum’s to help with shopping… via the ‘self absolutely everything’ store to pick up some paints for our youngest’s Titanic model project. Did I mention it’s school half term break?  We ate takeaway chicken and chips (fries to my US readers) and I was persuaded to watch ‘Inception’ – bought alongside the paints… – fourth DVD bought in as many days!

Day 5 – I took up the hall carpet. We’ve spoken about it many times so despite the dismay of our dear children, I feel I’m doing my husband a favour and speeding up the redecoration programme!  I cooked tonight – chicken and rice – in between ordering the children to clean up paint pots, the Titanic model is in an embryonic stage – painted pieces hung to dry, the four red and black funnels identifiable.  Our eldest son cooked lunch today – (chewy) burgers and chips was the description I received on arriving back from work. I learnt a DIY fact – stick a match into a hole where the screw has worked loose… Yeah! Our dining room door is back on it’s hinges!!!
I’m exhausted and ready for a run tomorrow morning. Bring on day 6!  This is a very apt verse – Alma 58 verses 10 to 11 – not that our children are my enemies but I am outnumbered!!

Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength…
Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls

saying farewell

Dear friends
Thursday was the funeral of a cousin, my father’s cousin to be exact – their mothers are sisters. 

I can’t say I really knew Ada, but my father spoke of her often so I really went to support Dad.

I’m not good at funerals; who is? But I have a hard time not breaking down in tears. So, arriving early, I sat a couple rows behind my aunt and my cousin – there was no space on their row – and I saw on the programme that they were both participating – a poem (Do not grieve) and the eulogy. My Dad arrived with the family and casket.

One thing about Caribbean/ West Indian church services is the singing 🙂 so loud and passionate. Even though I couldn’t quite manage to sing the last couple verses of ‘All things bright and beautiful’, the singing uplifted me and the old man next to me sang wonderful harmony to Bill Withers ‘Lean on me’ the music on leaving.

Another thing about attending West Indian church services in my home town is that I am guaranteed to be recognised by someone that I don’t recognise. My dear husband has decided that I don’t recognise them because, in his words, “you’re not a people person.” !!!
So as everyone filtered out into the foyer after Bill Withers, two women (I DID recognise one, but I couldn’t remember her name) said hello and asked for my Mum, sister and brother. You see, growing up, our Mum sent us to the New Testament Church of God for Sunday school and we dutifully attended. My Mum was not a member and stayed home enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning with her Jim Reeves albums, I always suspected 🙂 I stopped attending Sunday school after my 16th birthday, not because I didn’t believe but because I did believe. That church did not have everything which I could see, from the Bible, that Jesus’ church should have. My sister continued to visit when she came home from university and so everyone knows her. Therefore, amongst this group of people, I am always seen in the context of my big sister, rather than as an individual, at least that’s how I feel.
Even one older woman who approached me – who I know I’ve not seen in about 30 years and I gave her a big hug – and asked if my sister has any children. I said no, waiting for her to ask for my own family, but no, this dear lady asked for my brother. He’s well, living in L, my sister’s in B and I’m here. Pause. I’ve got children, four of them. And that was the end of the conversation until I asked for her children, who I recalled were older than me, and who now live all over!
I began to wonder if it was the presence of my bright red coat, but I was carrying it and wore a dark work suit with white blouse. Sometimes families ask for people to wear bright colours, so I’d come prepared!
But I’ve decided it’s more likely that I am seen as rebellious, fallen or wayward. I was always a nonconformist in the small Sunday school. I was asked once to offer a prayer – I offered it with only Amen said out loud. Another time, I challenged the teacher by declaring that discos (this was the 1980s) weren’t inherently bad places – you could choose not to get drunk or do bad stuff. And let’s face it, a year after leaving the Sunday school I was baptised, with my mother, as a Latter Day Saint. I’ve never really expressed to them what a big positive impact Sunday School had on me! 🙂
So as I said farewell to our cousin, I felt I was saying farewell (again) to people from my past. I felt sad that although we all pleasantly speak, we go back to our own worlds, ne’er to meet again, except around the next casket!

the begging person

Dear friends

Yesterday was parents’ evening at our eldest daughter’s school. During a break between appointments, we walked down to the local shop for a drink – I had come straight from a work meeting and our daughter had stayed on from school. As we approached there was an older man sat on the pavement outside the shop asking for spare change. I literally had none since I was heading for the ATM machine in the wall, where a younger man sat, also asking for change.  I gave nothing to either man and we headed into the shop.

As we went round, selecting cookies and drinks, my daughter began talking of homeless people needing to help themselves and how they’ll probably spend it on cigarettes or alcohol.  I said little in response because in my mind I kept seeing the old man. As we came out the shop, heading back to the school, I gave a coin to the old man.

Typically, I don’t give anything to people begging on the street though I recognise one must have little other options at that point.  I haven’t, consciously, made any judgement on what they may or may not spend the money on. It is simply a case of my own perception of me and my family. I feel we have sufficient for our needs, but not an excess. Apart from a few days at the temple over the last few years, we’ve never been on holiday together.  All the children have had to wait for new school shoes at some time,  including this year and we’ve all worn clothes from the charity shops.  I do pay my tithes, fast offerings and donate to other humanitarian funds which support people all over the world.  I guess I have justified not giving away more because we don’t have a whole lot in the first place.

After parents’ evening, we walked back past the shop, back past the old man, who was now smoking, who did not ask for money.  He recognised us by asking for no more than a brief smile.

As I’ve thought on this brief experience last night, and pondered why I felt impressed to give when so many times I haven’t, I have been taught, and I hope I am humble enough to learn and make a difference to my actions and motivation in the future.

The Saviour’s observation of the widow giving her ‘mite’ came to mind, Mark 12 verse 44:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

So, I may not have abundance, but I do have more than some and when we truly serve others, maybe it should stretch us.

Also, King Benjamin’s beautiful sermon on how we should serve, including towards others, Mosiah 4 verse 19

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have,…

I do rely upon our Father, I do cry for help and forgiveness and I feel he was teaching me that I can do more, I can be a better rescuer 🙂

a thought on ranting

Dear friends
A thought – when I was younger, my big sister used to tell me to stop moaning.  This probably happened frequently because I still remember it now. I always felt justified, of course, but I think my sister learned early on something that it has taken me considerably longer to learn.

Some things we may feel are worthy of a rant or moan…

Like the guy driving in front of you, in a huge range rover with smoked windows who doesn’t know how to use the indicators when turning and appears to be on a mobile phone.  Grrrr…

Like those people who feel it’s OK to squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube and leave it that way for the next person… 🙂

Like the wages of professional football (soccer) players, oh, and public servants expenses…

But after my rant, I rarely feel better – I mean feel (really stress that word feel) better. Do you?

So, now I try to not moan or rant about things that I can’t or am not prepared to change.  It doesn’t mean that I passively accept all things, but I try to be like Nephi after his brothers were tied him up to leave him to be eaten by wild beasts in the wilderness, 1 Nephi 7 verse 21 (a fairly just reason, I think, to moan…)

…I did frankly forgive them all that they had done,…

That’s how I deal with matters when other people are involved,  which is most of the time.  At the end of the day other people have a choice,  and although it’s hard when their choice directly impacts our lives – e.g foolish car drivers, I try to forgive them.  My personal measure of if I have forgiven, I try to imagine how I’d feel if I saw that person in real need, and no one else were around (a good Samaritan scenario – Luke 10 verses 30 to 37) would I help?

And when others aren’t involved, then I need to forgive myself, change if necessary, and move on.  Those words of Queen Elsa – I promise not to quote Frozen too often 🙂 – apply to ourselves:

Let it go! Let it go!!

keeping busy

Dear friends
I am so sorry! It has been a busy week, but I hadn’t forgotten you 🙂

After the election result shocker, I’ve been recovering with like minded friends on FB. It’s surprising the solidarity that can be found. Even a client at work spoke of how she hadn’t recovered from the weekend results, and she was not referring to the football!

Since then, exam season has begun in earnest with no.1 and no. 3 child having an intense week. My dear husband gave them both a father’s blessing at the beginning of the week which was a comfort to them both.

Work has been busy too. The week began with a visit to a school… I didn’t know it was on a split site, then walking up to the other site to meet my colleague, we discovered they expected us Friday, not Monday!  The week continued with various mini crises – setting out coordinates 120mm too far south; structural engineers asking for everything; colleagues jumping into my taxi after a late meeting and 4 of us having to order and wait 20 mins for another taxi back into town; client deciding they want blue doors with blue frames rather than green doors with white frames agreed during design stage, it’s now construction stage – but then today came the ultimate.  An email sent at 1807h yesterday evening informing of an office move/ shuffle/ desk move today – sorry, but our IT guy is on leave next week.  That is just wrong!! As a label got stuck on my desk under the growing pile of architectural journals, the operations director appeared and said, “just checking the view!” His name was on the label. As for me – a window seat on the west side, overlooking the port – not too bad and in time for me to enjoy the solar gains of the summer months…

And back at home, we substituted cycling for running a couple of times, twice the distance in the same time, more achy legs and bottom 😉 and I’ve been deep into reading Dan Brown The Da Vinci Code.  I’ve read this before, about 10 years ago – I’ve not seen the film – but it’s good to read it again – feminine and masculine are equally sacred and that union is also sacred and should be kept within the bounds of a lawful/ recognised marriage union, as God intended.

A couple of things that I remind myself of during busy times lik

e this

, first the words of a prophet and king, Benjamin, from Mosiah chapter 4 verse 27

:

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

And then, my dear children and I discovered this great funny song several years ago when my dear husband was away studying.  Our children felt it described their mother’s day perfectly if you throw in full time paid work. It’s Hilary Weeks with The Ultimate Mum To Do List Song – here on YouTube, channel Time Out For Women (TOFW).  Enjoy!!

‘V’ days

Dear friends,

Do you remember that TV show back in the 1980s ‘V’?  Aliens taking on a human form to take over planet Earth?  Scary stuff… I digress…

Tomorrow (8 May) is VE day – when we remember victory in Europe, the end of world war 2 in Europe.  I gave up history in school before studying the 20th century so forgive me if I’ve missed something. There’s been lots on the local radio – tears sprang to my eyes listening this morning.  War is not good for anyone – I would certainly be a pacifist if I didn’t believe in the right to defend ourselves.  Maybe most people would be?

Today (7 May) is voting day in the UK national and local elections. Polling stations close at 10pm – our local scout hut is the station rather than the local school so the children didn’t miss school for once.  It’s been political campaigning for about 3 months and on Sunday our afternoon was even disturbed by a councillor canvassing for votes!! I was once described as a conservative socialist – have I said that before? – let’s just say, I’m hoping for a new Prime Minister come next week!  And, since so much of our work is local government, it will be good to get some decision making on schemes waiting approval!!

Both of these V days help me appreciate and be thankful to our Father in Heaven that I live in a place and time where, as a black woman, I have freedom to vote, freedom to live, freedom to believe.  Many women, men, children, of whatever colour skin, still do not enjoy this freedom.  We must remember and help them in whatever ways we can, including by prayers. As I was reminded last Sunday, look how peacefully and swiftly the Berlin Wall fell.  It does and can happen!!

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Article of Faith 11)

thoughts of You

Dear friends
When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I asked my school teacher, a dear Scottish woman, Mrs Sheffield, who made God. I don’t recall what led to this question and, to be honest, I don’t recall her answer.  But I remember the incident; Mrs Sheffield told my dear mother – and I recall hearing my mother telling other adults.  The impression I always had from that incident was that I was either too curious or too peculiar to even think of such things at that age.  To me, it seems quite a natural question – Who created the Creator?
So yesterday night our youngest child lay in bed,  exhausted after a hard day at home 🙂 = public holiday, too tired to offer a prayer, and he asked – what’s the point of praying? I haven’t even seen Heavenly Father!  And I smiled and lay down next to him, told him that I hadn’t either and shared with him Elijah’s experience (1 Kings 19 vv11-13):

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

A couple of things we can learn from this: the still, small voice – we need to be reverent so we can hear and feel Him; and He knows our names! :). Our Father in Heaven has not left us alone.

welcome to the I generation!

Dear friends

First there was the modem. Remember the dial up, the fuzzy line sound, the ‘bings’ as it connected… brings back fond memories…  Phone or email? Browsing, what was that?

Then there was the broadband cable connection – the direct link between a computer and the world.  It was all so simple. Email, Skype, browsing but oh, the size of the phone bill!!

Then the dongle – who invented that name? – great but we needed more

Then, the mifi, our own mini WiFi, 15GB per month, surely that would do? And it did suffice for 5 years or so until 2.5 teenagers and 3 tablets later, it kept running out after just 10 days.

So now, the fibre optics, the wireless, tablets, phones, laptops, security, parental controls, it’s come, it’s here, it’s working, it is the unlimited home wireless broadband network with speeds that mean no buffering!

I’m aware that the next big thing in terms of technology is already in use by the military, somewhere. But right now, our family is very excited and grateful for unlimited home Internet access!! Yeah!! 🙂 🙂