Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Rolling down from Dubbalin town...

Pope Benny's address on the Big Screen

We have been away for the last few days. Up in Dub-a-lin (Roo loves adding extra consonants to placenames) at the closing Mass of the Eucharistic Congress.* We organised it before I was pregnant and it was a trip into the unknown for us. The five of us go to Mass on Sunday all together and it's hard work!  So I wasn't sure how we'd get on at managing the bookles at a fourhour long outdoor Hyper-Mass... hmmm.

The lads were excited and in good form from staying the night before in the hotel.  On opening the thick hotel room curtains, we discovered that the day was brighter and warmer than I had expected, so things were off to a good start.  

We took the Luas into town with Granny and Uncle Bee, with Roo asking at each stop, 'is this the one?' and Poonch cheerful in the buggy next to a sleeping Toot.   We walked from Busaras to Croke Park through the usual dodgy bits and thanks to the double buggy, made a big entrance through the gate used by players' buses.  Hopefully not the last time our boys will go in that way!

Much to Mum's chagrin, RTE had quite a presence,  'thought we could escape from them for once' and there were a couple of politicians there too.  From where we were sitting, we could see a diverse range of people, with a good few children.  It was very loud in the stadium, which was great because it meant the lads' chatter wasn't disturbing anyone too much.  The music throughout was good: my favourites being Maynooth Gospel Choir's version of the Hallelujah chorus and some hymns that Mum and Bee were familiar with.  From then on, I'm afraid it became the usual containment operation I experience every Sunday at Mass and so I can't give many details of what happened, except a feeling of joy and warmth at being there.     

I was really looking forward to the Pope's address at the end and felt a bit disappointed as I thought their would be a live linkup with the Vatican, instead of just a recorded message. I think Pope Benny's homilies are beautiful stuff, but I knew I would have to go away and read what he had said because I find it a bit difficult to understand what he's saying when I have a 22 month-old trying to climb up the Davin Stand underneath other people's seats! But I did catch some of his address there and then, and in particular, I loved his words about the history of the Catholic faith in our country.

How "Ireland has been shaped by the Mass at the deepest level for centuries, and by its power and grace generations of monks, martyrs and missionaries have heroically lived the faith at home and spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness well beyond your shores."

He reminded us about the enormous, positive effect Irish Catholics have had on the world: "You are the heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world, and which has given a profound and enduring love of Christ and his blessed Mother to many, many others."

He seems to be encouraging us to emulate the holiness of our forebears in the Church, to keep the Eucharist central in our lives, rather than allow the "revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care" to take away our "thankfulness and joy at such a great history of faith and love" so that we can "pass on a love of the faith and Christian virtue to other generations".

It was lovely to stand and applaud the Holy Father with thousands of other Irish people, such a different image to the one we hear about in the media day in day out.  It was such a happy occasion and lovely to share it as part of three generations of our family.  This was what inspired a kind stranger to take our photo before we went in.      

As we left the stadium, I felt a huge sense of relief  (at the weather, the good behaviour of the boys, that I had coped ok with them in my pregnant state) and a feeling that we need to show our love for Jesus in everything we do, so we can make others want to share that love too.  

*Roo had been telling people we were going to the 'conga', but the closest we got to that was the orderly little procession of people that snaked through the stands at Holy Communion time.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

11 Things and an announcement

Hello again! It's been a long time, but I'm back at the blog again. For various reasons, well, mainly one reason, I haven't managed to get around to completing this post until now. Over two months ago, Jennifer at Raindrops On My Head tagged me and since then I have been meaning to get round to it and finish it.  Some of the answers are a bit vague, but if I had to think of better answers it would take another two and a half months, so here goes...

(1) The first rule is to post these rules. 

(2) Post a photo of yourself then write 11 things about yourself or your life. 

(3) Answer the questions set for you by the person who tagged you. 

(4) Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them. 

(5) Go to their blog/Twitter to tell them they've been tagged.

11 things about me....

1. Errrrrrmmmmmmm! I have found it hard to come up with 11 things that other people could be remotely interested in. I hate talking in front of a crowd or giving my opinion to people other than close family members. This blog is after all, written under a pseudonym.  I was always labelled 'shy' as a child, or, even worse, 'quiet' -such a dismissive term, but better than it's counterpart, 'loud', I suppose.  I am one of the few Irish people who never has the courage to sing a song at a party. But then again, I am one of the only people in this country who always sings at Mass. I've always found that a bit strange.  As for a photo of me, well I do bare a lot of resemblance to the Playmobil mum at no.5 below.  

2. I come from a family of five children, but am one of just two who survived to adulthood. As you would expect, it was a terrible time for our family (two of my siblings died within months of each other, while another died before I was born). Now that I have been blessed with children of my own though, I can more fully understand the immense pain my mother has gone through in losing three of her children. 

3. I am pregnant with our fourth child. The last few weeks I have been in survival mode which means getting myself and the boys dressed, providing them with something resembling food and stuffing one load of laundry-in-most-danger-of -becoming-mouldy into the washing machine each day. I haven't had the energy for anything else, including thinking. So you see, this post has taken a while to write, and a lot of thinking.  And I don't get much time to think these days.  

4. I hate having my photo taken, although since having children I have become more relaxed about it. I don't really need more things to worry about and I haven't much control over my appearance, so why bother?

5. I buy toys that I would have loved when I was little, and give them to my children and their friends. Sylvanian Families, Lego, Playmobil.  Am I right in thinking that toys are, relatively, cheaper than when I was a child? Back then, Playmobil seemed to be this luxury item that we couldn't afford. I remember one of my brothers being given a Playmobil set and finding it years later, unopened, in a cupboard because Mum had deemed it too good to be played with!

Me and one of the lads

6. I love Playmobil. Probably too much. And possibly more than my children do. Possibly. Not sure how you would measure that. In any case, I am very pleased they love Playmobil too, because I get an immense amount of pleasure watching them play with it.  And um, of course, I buy it because it is great for improving my little boy's fine motor skills.

7. I secretly would love to homeschool my children, but my husband isn't keen, and I would get tired of continually justifying my decision to people.  Homeschooling is viewed as seriously odd in this country.  But the idea grows on me every day.  

8. Mooing is important, and not just for bovines.  I think more people, especially pregnant women, should know about the power of moo-ing. It's all to do with the Sphincter Law. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, and especially if you are, or know, a pregnant woman, I would urge you to read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth.  Helps with potty-training too, incidentally.

9. We have used Natural Family Planning since the start, and not just for religious reasons.  I think we do our young women a huge injustice by not informing them about Natural Family Planning.  How come so-called feminists don't talk about it?  I would have thought it would appeal to their desire to 'empower' women.  On a similar note, how come some people consider the use of NFP/temperature-taking/charting to conceive as 'a bit clinical and calculated', but think nothing of taking daily medication to prevent ovulation at other times?  

10. I love reading about the lives of saints but especially St Joseph.  One of my boys is named after him.  I just love thinking about him and his closeness to Jesus and Mary and their family life.  None of his spoken words were recorded in the Gospel, yet he was the man chosen to be the guardian of Our Lord and the husband of the Mother of God.  He led a quiet, modest life, yet his influence on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, must have been immense.  Talking of pondering, pondering that makes my mind boggle a bit.  (How exactly does a mind 'boggle'?)  

11. On a similar note, I love the thought that, while he was alive, many people met Jesus in quite mundane ways (selling things to him at the market, sitting next to him in the synagogue, buying wooden items from Him and His dad...) and they never realised they were in contact with the Son of God!!!! There's a lesson for us for everyday life there, I suppose.  We're supposed to see Jesus in everyone we come into contact with.  Easier said than done....
Some of these thoughts come to me when I am saying the rosary in the dark last thing at night when the house is still, my jobs are kinda done for the day, and I can think.....

Is that 11 things yet?

And now for the answers to Jennifer's questions:

What makes you most happy?
An easy one: being with my children and husband. Something that happens all too rarely. My husband works long hours each day and most weekends. 

Which housekeeping task do you most hate?
Definitely doing the washing up after having made the dinner and put the children to bed. There is something about seeing my kitchen counters covered in pots, dishes and debris at the end of the day that makes me want to run and hide behind the sofa.  Fortunately, Lee does it every second night.  

Which task do you enjoy?
I think I speak for most women over a certain age and certainly all mums, when I say that a line of washing flapping in the breeze is one of the most uplifting sights there is. I love hanging out the washing, love it, love it, love it. Possibly am a bit unusual in that I like to photograph it, though.

What do you do to chill out?
At this stage in my life, with three busy boys, my only opportunity to chill out is when I sleep!  Every time I climb into bed, I think, this is lovely, I should get here earlier.  And next night I end up climbing in at the same (mental, late) time. 

Is there any ordinary incident that you still ponder?
Hmmmmm, probably lots of them, but none spring to mind immediately.  Was this question inspired by Mary's 'pondering things in her heart'?  Probably not.  Mary's life was full of quite extraordinary incidents that took a lot of pondering.  

What is something you still hope to achieve one day?
Teaching young children.  I went back to college as a mature student to get a primary school teaching degree, but aside from teaching practice in college, have not actually used my qualification yet.  At the moment, staying at home with my children is my priority and as yet, I can't see a 'good'  time to end that arrangement.  Unfortunately, the longer I leave it, the less employable I think I will be.  Sometimes I wonder if homeschooling was the reason God led me to the teacher training college.  

What is your favourite memory?
Well, other than the births of our bookles, our Wedding day was a pretty fantastic day.  Before I got married, I remember being at other people's weddings and wondering how the bride and groom could still be so chatty and lively at 2 and 3am after such a long day.  But then on the day that we got married, I could have stayed awake for days.   I didn't want it to end.  I can't understand why some people's ceremonies don't start til mid- to late-afternoon.  That's valuable hours of one of the best days of your life you're wasting!!

What would be an ideal date with your husband?
I just consulted with Lee for this one.  
I said, 'Leaving the house.'  
He said, 'On time.  No phone.  No deadline to come back.'
That was ok.  Then he said, 'not having to turn around at the top of the road because you forgot something.'
He has known me for 19 years.  But he still doesn't love that aspect of me.  I'm still practising though.   
Favourite movie?
Sorry to be predictable, but I love It's A Wonderful Life, especially that scene when George is on Mary's phone to his big-shot friend in New York and he realises he loves Mary and will never leave Bedford Falls.

Favourite book?
I do love books.  Difficult to pick a favourite favourite.  There are so many categories: children's, fiction, non-fiction, religious...  
One I return to again and again is St Thérèse's Story of A Soul.  

Something you love doing with the children?
Most things.  At the moment they don't mind spending time with me, actually seem to enjoy my company, so I'm making the most of it by putting them to work.  Just messing!  It's lovely.  Making food.  Chores like filling the washing machine.  More effort and takes longer, but we all benefit in the long run.  Also love it when I share something like a painting I love, not expecting them to really be that interested... but they are.  

My questions:

  1. Who is your favourite saint?
  2. What's the most interesting thing you've ever made/done with a paper plate?
  3. What have you done in your life that has made you most proud?
  4. How do you prefer your toast, hot or cold?
  5. Someone you would like to meet, living or dead, and why?
  6. What was your favourite book/story as a child?
  7. What do you spend more time doing than you should?
  8. And what should you spend more time on than you do?
  9. What animal are you most like? 
  10. What did/does your father do for a living?  
  11. What did you do with your life before you started this questionnaire?   Only joking, what makes your mind boggle? 
I am going to tag my dear blogging friends, Idle Rambler at her lovely blog A Miscellany of Musings, and Breadgirl at the great Last Welsh Martyr.  Over to you...

A magnificent shoal on St Anthony's Feast

It was Roo's idea to make some 'biskies' in the shape of fishes to commemorate St Anthony's miraculous speech on the shore at Rimini.
So together, we made a shortbread recipe that was passed onto me a couple of weeks ago and got out the cookie cutters. The only fish shape we had was a sort of Angel fish, appropriate in the circumstances, I suppose.
And, much mess later, here they are!

It's good to be back again.I hope to blog a bit more now that I have a better camera on my phone and that I have a bit more energy back. I have been writing another post for a while now...