Tuesday 31 August 2010

Spending to save my money

Three items that cost money but have saved far more.

Clothes line-this was cheap anyway. I really could do with a second! Nothing like clothes dried on the line. One trick I've learnt, recently, is to put on a wash last thing at night so it is ready to go out first thing in the morning. In England, in Spring and Autumn, this is often the difference between a load or two dry rather than needing to use the tumble dryer or have damp washing round the house.

My steel thermos. This was brought in a National Trust shop sale in Devon, on a cold February day. I take a hot flask of coffee whenever I'm driving a long distance or when having a picnic lunch. Brought coffee is so expensive-just work out how much even one brought coffee a week is over a year vs taking your own. I do occasionally buy coffee out but try to make this a very special treat not an every day or even every month event. I had conventional thermos flasks before but they don't keep the coffee so hot and with each flask there is some dreadful moment when the toddler drops it and there is a little tinkle. The steel thermos has been dropped and has a few dents to prove it but works just as well as ever. Good for my sanity!

The breadmaker-this was expensive. We calculated that a breadmaker would pay for itself in 100 breadmakings. That was before we found that we could make a successful loaf with value flour rather than strong flour. Of course, if I was better organised I could make bread in the oven in big batches and save more but I'm not. I spent several years trying and failing to make regular big batches. The breadmaker works better for us.

I would love to know how other people have spent to save.

Monday 30 August 2010


Some of our harvest.

Hope of things to come.

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter and day and night shall not cease." Genesis 8 v22

Wednesday 25 August 2010

My schedule

Seventeen years ago, this month, I went on maternity leave, and two months later, our eldest was born.

I wasn't an intuitive mother and found that I didn't know how my days were meant to be organised. My little one was hungry, refluxy and colicky so took a fair amount of time but the rest of the day was shapeless so different from the world of work where I knew what time I was meant to start and where I was meant to be. I had always worked late but that was sort of part of the day's plan. Kind older mothers would invite me round and say things like "Come when you want". This added to my confusion. When our little one was three and a half months old, I went back to my structure, part time and left the baby with an experienced Christian mother who quite obviously knew what she was doing. Even so, my days at work were fine but the days at home a mess-not knowing what I was meant to be doing with my baby or my day and still not achieving a tidy house.

Looking back, so much has changed, through God's grace, although the longer I have children the more I realise that I don't know. I do think, however, that a schedule would have helped. Schedules seem to be one woman's meat and another's poison. Schedules are meat for me. Last year, was our first complete year of home education. We had a timetable that worked well for our nine year old and a rough schedule for the baby based around the fact that he slept twice a day at about the same time for about the same time. The three year old fitted in around things with a DVD and a visit to Grandma, who lives with us.

Now the time has come for a formal schedule. The baby is 19 months and well, is a toddler not a baby. Not surprisingly, he only needs one sleep a day but needs occupation. The three year old is almost four and keen to have some more structured activity. Our nine year old is now ten and a bit more independent but needs time especially as we hope to start a new subject this autumn. So, I've pulled out Managers of their homes and made a schedule.
"Managers of their homes" is a useful start for scheduling. It starts with the premise that God is a God of order and that we should start the day with Him and goes on with the nitty gritty of putting together a schedule. It is a bit pedantic-I certainly don't agree with what they say about scheduling babies although I'm sure that my big, hungry babies would have thrived on their schedule but perhaps not if they had been less keen to feed. I also couldn't cope with kitchen timers pinging every half an hour.
For me, scheduling is a tool. At most, we will keep to the whole day as planned twice a week but will use parts for the other days. Working out the schedule has helped me to work out why certain parts of the day don't go well and try to put in something more workable. That has included needing time to sit for half an hour after lunch and do quieter tasks-well, I mean read e-mails and look at blogs.
If I'm feeling brave, I might post, in a month or so, about how the schedule is going, whether we are still using it and how much I've altered it!

Monday 23 August 2010

Edith Schaeffer on hospitality

"Often...I have said to the children or someone helping me, "I can't face one more person today-and just want to run". So often what has happened when I have dished out the last of fifty-two desserts and decided that I was going to dash away to some quiet spot, the answer to my cry to the Lord-in the midst of throwing the spoon into the sink, and pouring the next cup of tea-there has been a knock at the door! Cruel? No. it has so often been a sudden answer on the part of the Lord in the direction of showing me what it was all about."

From Edith Schaeffer "What is a family"

Saturday 21 August 2010

Summer days

A few things that we've enjoyed this summer.

Bat walk in the local park. We saw plenty of bats although our three year old got rather scared-perhaps three is too young for watching bats late at night.

Teddy bears' picnic are much better for three year olds.

Making a mess with paint.

Picking, and eating blackberries.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Book lists-picture books for little ones 2

More books-so hard to choose the favourites

7.Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg very well known although I didn't know about this book until our third child!

8..Edwardian Christmas by John Goodall-no words just sumptious pictures.

9.Hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle-each child has had a copy of some sort-board/paper/DVD/pop-up. This has become a bit of an industry but we also like The Busy Spider, by the same author.

10. Just like Floss and others (not "The last train") by Kim Lewis. Our youngest has just started to enjoy Little Baa-a simple story about a lamb who loses his mother. This has beautiful pictures of bluebells and the countryside,in spring. I probably shouldn't be reading it to the children in August, they will get confused.

11. Make way for the ducklings by Robert McCloskey. This was a suggestion from a friend from the US. This is set in Boston. We have had great fun looking up pictures of the places mentioned in the book-the State House, the swan boats, Louisburg Square.

12. Richard Scarry's ABC has been a recent find-30p at a summer fair! The Richard Scarry Busy Workers book is a well established read, here. 

Saturday 14 August 2010


My husband showed me this John Newton hymn when I was very weary. It is a wonderful reminder of true rest. I hadn't seen it before nor had my husband. Unless we've missed something, I would have thought it should be better known.

Does the gospel word proclaim
Rest for those who weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim;
Sure that promise speaks to thee.
Marks of grace I cannot show;
All polluted is my breast;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

Burdened with a load of sin;
Harrassed with tormenting doubt;
Hourly conflicts from within;
Hourly crosses from without;
All my little strength is gone;
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth there's none
Can be more weary than I.

In the ark the weary dove
Found a welcome resting place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the Ark of grace.
Tempest-tossed I long have been
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in
Till the storm be overpast.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Behind a frowning providence, He hids a smiling face

My Mother's seventeth birthday is next weekend. I won't be throwing a party for her- much as I would like to do so. Mum has a degenerative neurological disorder and can only eat puree so will be fed her usual food in her nursing home.
I hadn't really expected Mum to reach this age but her tent is being taken down very slowly. It is sad to see my lovely, intelligent, spiritual mother unable to care for herself and yes, envy does get in sometimes when other people's mothers make Christmas lunch, knit for children and help when babies are born. Yet, God has designed all this for a purpose. My Mother was first diagnosed, many years ago, when I was thirteen. At that time, her brother wrote to her and quoted a hymn. My Mum, being the sort of person she is, let me read the letter and I've always been grateful for this and for applying this hymn to our situation.

 "God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

O, fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

There have been and are blessings. My Mother prayed for all of her children and knows that we all trust the Saviour.
She has had excellent care in a Christian nursing home for the last three years. Care that is not only good physically but includes staff who appreciate her smiles and an elderly lady who faithfully reads the Bible to her.
My Mother has always been a cup half full person whereas I struggle with being a cup half empty type. Yet, I was so thrilled when she was able to speak to me, this last February. I hadn't heard her speak for a couple of years prior to this and her speech is so, so rare but those couple of sentences, after what had been a difficult few months for me, are some of the most precious memories of my life.
It is sad for my parents not to be able to live together now-sad for my Father as he makes his journey to see his wife each week. Sad for the two of my siblings who were married after Mum was too frail to be able to attend. I grieve that my children only see my Mother as an elderly lady who is usually in bed and can't talk to them. I know that if she had been well she would have loved reading with them, talking to them and walking with them.
Yet, God knows His full design in Mummy's illness. I can't see it all but when we are with Him, He will make it plain and my Mother will, like all God's children, have a glorious new body.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Book lists-picture books for little ones

I'm a bit addicted to books-biblioholic. Anyway, several friends have contributed to lists of books as notes on Facebook and one sensibly suggested, thank you Rachel, keeping the lists together for anyone who wants to see them.
So this is a start! Please feel free to post comments with more suggestions! There is a second part to this-these are our oldest favourites. There are some newer ones to follow.

1.Psalm 127 and 103 illustrated by Johanna Bluedorn. We brought this when the pound was rather stronger even so it is a great book.

2.Peter Rabbit and various others by Beatrix Potter-wonderful illustrations and rich vocabulary.

3.Oxcart man by Donald Hall. From the US detailing a year in a family's life. A bit like Laura Inglis WIlder for little ones.

4.When Willie went to the wedding by Judith Kerr. Very funny-think it is out of print. Ours is a battered copy from a second hand sale but much loved.

5.Alfie series by Shirley Hughes. You've probably all read these and know them by heart. The pig getting into the tent is the best! The pig story is in the "Alfie out of doors storybook".

6.Tiptoes the mischievous kitten-old Ladybird book with 1960s illustrations.

Monday 2 August 2010

Help with the ironing

In this house, the ironing takes at least an hour a week. I know many well organised people who either don't iron or take far less time than this but an hour is a best I've ever managed. The plus side of this is that I have an hour of relative quiet, after all, there is no way I could iron with my toddler around!
In the last few weeks, I've enjoyed listening a to unaccompanied psalm singing. Psalm 102 v26 seems especially appropriate while ironing. There is even room on the ironing board for a psalter.

"The earth's foundation firm and fast:
Thy mighty hands the heav'ns have made

They perish shall, as garments do,
But thou shalt evermore endure;
As vestures, thou shalt change them so;
And they shall all be changed sure;
But from all changes thou art free;
Thy endless years do last for aye.
Thy servants, and their seed who be,
Establish'd shall before thee stay."

The last couple of weeks, I've listened to some talks by Joel Beeke, from Heritage Reformed, in the US, on teaching children piety. The first is about what piety is and the principles and the second is a very practical, convicting talk about steps we can take in bringing up our children. I was challenged. This particular talk is worth another listen with the next set of ironing.

"Delivering grace"

With joy we meditate the grace
Of our High Priest above;
His heart is made of tenderness,
It overflows with love.

Touched with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For He has felt the same.

But spotless, innocent and pure,
The great Redeemer stood,
While Satan's fiery darts He bore,
And did resist to blood.

He, in the days of feeble flesh,
Poured out His cries and tears,
And in His measure feels afresh
What every member bears.

He'll never quench the smoking flax,
But raise it to a flame;
The bruised reed He never breaks,
Nor scorns the meanest name.

Then let our humble faith address
His mercy and His power;
We shall obtain delivering grace
In each distressing hour.

Isaac Watts