Happy New Year

At midnight tonight a lot of the people who live in our area will congregate at the local fountain to wish each other a Happy New Year. Champagne and other alcaholic beverages will be quaffed and fireworks will be set off. I, as a father of young children will be in bed, cursing them all for making such a bloody racket and waking me up. However, I would still like to wish all my fellow bloggers a Happy New Year, and to those congregating at the fountain, I'll be there in a couple of years!

This is Harry concentrating very hard on his Tellytubby game, another reason why I don't get to blog so often!

My sister

The ulcer in the lining of her stomach is malignant.

However, the bloodwork indicates that the cancer does not seem to have spread to her lymph system and a CT scan did not show a large mass. Only surgery will reveal the true extent of what is going on. Jane and her husband, Pierre, meet with the surgeon on Tuesday to discuss removal of the ulcer and the variety of possible outcomes.

I hate this. I really really hate this.

Get Me

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Very Sir Lord Bazza the Potential of Londinium-le-Thames
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
I nicked this from Goldennib's blog, if you've never been there you should try her out. She's in my links as Nessa.

A good time was had by all (17 in the house at one point). Pictured above are Joe, Luke and Ethan, Katie and Harry's older brothers.

Big Day

Tomorrow we're having the in laws down, as well as my mum and step dad, and the neighbours amongst others. Why do we put ourselves through this?

Popped to Dalby Forest and Filey Brigg today. Nice to get some fresh air after yesterday, but it was a bit sharp up on the Brigg.

Cute or.....?

The new albino wallaby at East Park, looks like a giant white rat to me!

Christ is Born!

Today, the Virgin bears Him who is transcendent, and the earth presents the cave to Him who is beyond reach. Angels, along with shepherds glorify Him. The Magi make their way to Him by a star. For a new child has been born for us, the God before all ages.

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.

Glorify him!


A Tufted Duck on East Park lake today.


Harry with big bruv Joe who was 20 yesterday.


One minute it was there, the next minute it was gone. It's like being in an episode of the X Files.

24 hour shopping

Went to Tescos today at 7am to beat the rush. We spent the whole time trying to dodge the man on the electronic cleaning machine, who followed us wherever we went. Wifey picked up some trousers but couldn't try them on because the changing rooms don't open until 8am, we also tried to get some cheese from the deli counter but that didn't open until 8am either and neither did the fish counter. 24 hour shopping, my arse.

The latest...

My sister has a bleeding ulcer in the upper portion of her stomach. My brother-in-law breathed a huge sigh of relief until the doctor said, "Wait." The doctor is concerned that the ulcer might not be benign, that it might be caused by a malignancy. More tests tomorrow...


Blog, Interrupted

Like everyone else, I am swamped with things to do this time of year, with emotions associated with this time of year, and with things that have nothing to do with this time of year.

The boys and I head to Arizona in two days. TWO DAYS! I've taken care of presents and even sent out Christmas cards (first time since 2003). The house is well-decorated for our return and our Twelfth Night party. But I have loads of laundry to wash, and I have to prepare the house for my Christmas present to myself:

While we are in Arizona, someone is going to come in and clean my house from top to bottom. I will come home to clean bathrooms, a scrubbed kitchen, vacuumed floors, and dusted furniture. This is wonderful, and I truly hope that I'll be able to maintain the cleanness. However, I have to clear all the floors for vacuuming and all the surfaces for dusting and polishing. Easier said than done!

I am so looking forward to the Arizona trip. My brother will be there with his entire family. That may not sound like a big deal, but he lives in the mountains of the Idaho panhandle and doesn't leave that region very often. I last saw him at my father's deathbed in 2002; my boys have never even MET him. He's bringing both of his grown sons, one of whom is married and has two children of his own. I've never met the wife or the babies. Add Ron's presence to the mix -- yes, Ron is coming to Arizona for Christmas -- and it's really going to be something.

But part of me is dreading it. It's going to be very hard for me to be there with all my family... and for Nick to be absent. (At least, I think it will be.) His birthday is the day after Christmas, and I know that my family won't understand if (when?) I get all weepy about that. After all, Ron will be there, this man whom I love and who loves me -- why am I still going on about Nick? I know I don't have to explain it to most of my readers, but I'm reasonably sure that my family won't accept my tears.

Meanwhile, Ron almost canceled his travel plans because I did something incredibly insenstive. We worked it out, and he accepted my apology, but I damaged our relationship, and I am so sad about that.

The other huge emotional interruption is that my sister apparently has something very wrong with her: dizziness, fainting, acute anemia, rapid weight loss, bloody stool. She didn't go to the doctor until one day last week (after being really sick for several weeks), and she has an unpleasant round of tests scheduled for tomorrow. Her husband and my mother are confident that nothing serious is wrong, because she so much better than she was a few weeks ago. Maybe it's just because I've heard so many stories from so many widoweds, but I've got a bad feeling down deep in my gut.

Anyway, I'm not likely to have time to post anything else before leaving town, and with that whole crowd being in Arizona, I probably won't post anything while I'm there.

Prayers for a blessed Christmas season for all of you -- and Happy last few days of Hannukah! May the New Year bring us all renewed hope.

-- P, with profound gratitude that you are in my life

Updated 2:15 p.m.: My sister's anemia is so acute she is having a 3-hour blood transfusion in preparation for tomorrow's "procedures." I am so scared. Please hold Jane in your prayers.

uhhh... Mom, I need a little help here

I'm sorry it's blurry, but no further comment seems necessary.

Some Christmas fun

I'm borrowing this meme from Mimi:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Mmmm.... egg nog... REAL egg nog
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Well, Santa doesn't really exist. Some people who don't go to our church think that St. Nicholas is Santa, but they're wrong. (Jeesh. How pretentious is that! My kids are going to grow up warped.)
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.
5. When do you put your decorations up? I start putting them up gradually in early December. The boys always get a kick out of wondering what will be out next. The angel doesn't get put on the tree until after the midnight liturgy. We always leave the tree up through Theophany (Epiphany), and some decorations are usually still out through the Feast of the Presentation (February 2).
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Scalloped potatoes
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Standing around the piano singing, while my mother plays carols
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? The year my sister dressed up as Santa?
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Always. The first gift is always matching ornaments for mom and her boys (or for Grandma and her daughters)
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Colored lights, but the ornaments are all silver, gold, or red. Lots of bells, snowflakes, musical instruments.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Snow! Glorious snow! I love the snow!
12. Can you ice skate? On my bottom!
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Two: A bride doll that I received when I was 6; and a stuffed koala bear when I was 9, with a real watch around his ear
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Celebrating the Incarnation, naturally
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? My mother makes an amazing Devon cream with crimson cranberry sauce
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? The orgy of cooking
17. What tops your tree? An irridescent "shell" angel illumined with lights
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Yes.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song? full choir: O Come All Ye Faithful -- solo: O Holy Night -- a capella: Today the Virgin
20. Candy canes: Yummy
21. Favorite Christmas movie? Miracle on 34th Street, the original version
22. What do you leave for Santa? A list of things to pick up for my birthday the following week
23. Christmas tree: Real or artificial? Real, real, real!
24. Do you drive around just to look at lights? Yes. A State Park nearby has a spectacular light display, with lots of fun scenes, amazingly animated things
25. Do you hang Christmas stockings? If so, is there something that you always put in them? No. We had them when I was little, but we stopped using them when I was 8 or 9... haven't had them since, and Nick and I never started that tradition.

Am I late for Christmas? An anticonsumer's complaint

Since we're going to Arizona for a week at Christmas, I decided not to put a tree up in the living room this year, but on the deck instead. Then I'd put some nice fake (I know -- that's an oxymoron) roping around the living room windows to hang our special ornaments on.

Two weeks ago, Michael's had acres of nice-looking greenery. Two days ago, there was one Scotch pine garland left and lots of gnarly looking fir garlands. Ick. So I went across the street to Lowe's -- I need a wreath for my front porch and a replacement strand of lights for the deck. They had one large wreath for twice the amount I'm used to paying and NO lights... lots of those big lighted lawn displays, but no simple lights for the tree. And they had hardly any trees left at all. It was the same story at Home Depot: NO strands of lights. I did however find a nice tree for the deck, larger than I'd intended to buy but at a great price.

On to Target, where I was very successful in finding lights for the outdoor tree (but no replacement "web" lights for my deck). They had a whole wall full of lighting options to choose from. In fact, I bought new indoor lights to use next year, because I really liked what I saw. I also found some great ornaments for the outside tree -- I'm sure not putting any of my treasures from years past outside! But they were out of ornament hooks. Never mind; I improvised. The boys were delighted with having a tree outside and were very excited to put "new stuff" on it.

Yesterday, I found real Scotch pine roping at my grocery store. Hooray! The boys wanted me to put lights on them. They are very excited at how nice it looks. But I'm one strand of lights short. Back to Target this morning: The wall of lights has shrunk to a pretty meager selection. I wanted to get two more boxes of lights -- I got one, the very last one.

This really BOTHERS me. We all say we hate how early the stores push the holidays on us. I always resist that push and try to pace the good things of the season. But it's gotten to the point that if you "wait" until two weeks before Christmas (two weeks!), you're out of luck. How ridiculous is that? What are people who don't decorate until the week before or until Christmas Eve (gasp!) supposed to do?

Sigh... Anyway, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

The view from the street:

What I see out my kitchen window:

And some silliness: S loves to take pictures of whatever is on television.

Can you identify the movie these critters are from?

BTW, if anyone is motivated to join the ranks of those who receive my mysterious kudos, today is a likely day ....>>>> --->>>

Hooray for Elizabeth!

As for why? ... I guess that will have to be our little secret for now. Well done, dear!

BTW, ElizabethP is someone very near and dear to the heart of my family; I'm tickled to acknowledge her today.

-- Pentha, chuckling with delight

Come as you are Blog party

Sandy posted a “come as you are” challenge on her blog. Ali took her up on it. Now it's my turn.

The challenge is as follows: Take a photo of yourself RIGHT NOW and write a description of the photo . . . why you look the way you do in the photo, what you’re doing, whom you’re with, etc. No apologizing for the way you look because after all, it’s a “come as you are” event.

Here I am! (As a disclaimer, I didn't take the picture of myself RIGHT NOW, because right now was 3:30 a.m., in bed with my laptop. But I did take it this morning as soon as I remembered the challenge when I was browsing blogs.)

I had just finished cleaning the playroom, and now I have the evidence to prove it. It took a while to set up the camera at a good angle for the delay option to get both me and the room. I washed my hair this morning, so it's drying into its natural mess of curls, and I'm wearing my standard uniform of sweatshirt and sweatpants. I never go anywhere, why should I dress as though I do? Just as the timer went off on the camera, N came bounding up the stairs and crossed right in front of the camera. He was quite startled by the flash!

And here's my #2 son, being his usual crazy self in the newly cleaned playroom:

I hope some of my friends take the challenge!

Disarmed by laughter

The boys and I were playing our favorite game of Nooooooo-body Gets on Mommy's Bed. The rules change from day to day, but the general object is always the same.

N disappears into his room for a few minutes. I expect him to come back armed with socks (clean) to throw at me. But no. He returns wearing nothing but his tighty-whities and a red shirt tied around his neck. I'm Captain Underpants! I start laughing so hard, I fall off the bed. S, of course, has to follow (birthday)suit.

A few minutes later, after I've regained my composure (and control of the bed), N disappears again, only to re-emerge as Boxer Boy! wearing blue boxers, a blue shirt around his neck, and his tighty-whities on his head.

Laughter and love. What more does a weary mom need?

And a little child shall lead them

We went to church last night, for the feast of St. Nicholas. N decided to go to confession, which filled my heart with prayers for the healing and opening of his heart.

As soon as liturgy began, I started crying. Weeping and sobbing. Crying and crying. I just couldn't stop myself.

After a few minutes, N leaned over to me and said, Mom, go to confession. I smiled and kissed his head. And kept crying.

Mom, go to confession. You'll feel better. Another smile; more tears.

Mom, I'm serious. Just go. So I went.

I didn't stop crying, but what a wonderful little boy, with an open heart and sensitive spirit.

The Feast of St. Nicholas

The truth of your dealings,
our Father and Bishop Nicholas,
showed you to your flock as a standard of faith,
as the image of gentleness and as a teacher of self-discipline.
By lowliness you attained to the heights,
by poverty to great riches.
Therefore, we beseech you, pray to Christ our God
for the salvation of our souls.

Today has always been a feast day in our household. This is the day the first of the Christmas decorations emerge; this is the last day we feast before beginning the Nativity fast.

It is a day of remembering.

Not a day goes by

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Sung by Carly Simon
Not a day goes by --
Not a single day --
But you're somewhere, a part of my life.
And it looks like you'll stay
As the days go by.
I keep thinking, "When does it end?
Where's the day I'll have started forgetting?"
But I just go on thinking and sweating

And cursing and crying
And turning and reaching
And waking and dying.

And no, not a day goes by --
Not a blessed day --
But you're still somehow part of my life,
And you won't go away.
So there's hell to pay.

And until I die,
I'll die day after day after day
After day
After day after day after day
Til the days go by
Til the days go by
Til the days go by .

Today's profound thought...

... can be found in my response to Marsha's post on the subject of Thanksgiving and gratitude.

Just a side note from the theologian within...

The word eucharist comes from the Greek word for giving thanks. So whenever we Christians accept the Holy Mystery or receive eucharist or take communion -- or whatever your particular church calls it -- we are participating in an eternal act of thanksgiving. Think about it.