This year things have not gone the way I like them to. I like to try and keep Advent quiet of extra things so we can focus on preparing for Christmas. This year I have been ill and had lots of extra training to do for a new job. Many of the things I like to do, including not being rushed, have not happened.

Some of the good things though have been:

Going to a folk festival with great friends, I loved The Young Uns and Edwina Hayes (we heard her on the Introducing Stage and she was great). We were also brave enough to sing at the sing around – first time we’ve done that at anything other than one of the local little folk nights here on the Island at The Hideaway, we opted for our attempt at Beth Rowleys’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine

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 After the folk festival I had a week of training for a new, and only very p/t, job. This meant lots of trips to the mainland, dashing too and from the Red Jet, being in a not quite as warm as I would like swimming pool and this was not good for my cough, so I went downhill rapidly the week after and had to cancel loads of things I was planning to do – most notable the Learning Zone Christingle. However I was just well enough to manage to do the advent meditation i had planned for church and it was lovely I was really pleased I managed to get this done it was probably the highlight of the advent period for me.

However I was well enough to contribute to the cookie exchange and one of the joys of having older kids is that they can make their own cookies without help too and Jonathan took them to the meet up and distributed them and came back with a mountain of yummies from other home ed families.

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I was too ill to sing carols with any gusto which I felt very sad about but did manage to get out for a cocktail with some friends and we managed to:

decorate gingerbread houses

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Get the Christmas tree put up – the girls did it the Monday before Christmas when Rebekah came home from uni.

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Get my driftwood tree up and the potato advent wreath made

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make a very plainly decorated Christmas cake

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Jonathan managed a large star for the window

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and we played some games

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Happy Easter.

I woke up at 5.30 so rolled out of bed and dashed off to East Cowes for their dawn service – I was a wee bit late, but in time for communion and bacon sandwiches. They didn’t sing Thine Be The Glory which was a slight disappointment and the sun rise was hidden by the clouds but it was still brilliant to be on the beach at sunrise celebrating Easter Sunday with other Christians from the island.

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And our mantelpiece is transformed from the solitary bare cross to a vibrant fruitful display.

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After much debate and searching of the ethical consumer website we decided on a compromise of Thorntons eggs, Thornons came out better than most of the mainstream fairtrade chocolates. I was very pleased with my Attic 24 inspired Easter wreath.

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And our bare branched tree is now covered by crosses and eggs – the girls thought my moustachioed eggs were not in keeping with the Easter tree but I was very pleased with them!

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I haven’t managed a single blog post throughout Lent so now a quick round up.

Facebook:

For the 3rd year in a row I gave up facebook for Lent, this was surprisingly both much harder and much easier than previous years.

It was harder because I found that I use facebook in a different way to the last couple of years. I am using it much more to arrange things and to keep in touch with local friends and I realised part way through that a number of my local friends I only have facebook contacts for and it was very hard to connect with them in a practical way without. at one point I had to get one friend to contact a group of other friends to let them know about a meet up I was having as I didn’t have any other contact details. I also run a maths tutor group and I have a facebook page that I interact with them on – in the end for this I set up a different facebook persona so I could keep doing this group and felt this wasn’t cheating. In the last couple of weeks a friend was trying to keep a number of us updated with some important news and in the end I joined this group with my second persona as I felt keeping up to date on this issue was more important than my facebook fast a case of “the Sabbath being made for man not man for the Sabbath!” I don’t think I will do this again next year as I actually found it very hard to practically contact people without facebook, particularly in a group setting.

It was easier because I found I didn’t miss sitting at my computer wasting time on it as much as I had in previous years. I think this was due to my increased interest in crochet and zentangling as well as connecting with my other Lent discipline.

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Living Intentionally:

I decided to try this for a second year, to not specifically take up or give up something but rather to try and live as I intend rather than what just happens to happen to me. Some time ago I read a book by Michael Neill called You Can Have What You Want. This was really the first specific self help book I had read as I had been rather snooty about the genre as the people I saw reading them seemed to jump from one to the next and never actually changed – I have now become one of these people – I love self help books. The main thing I took from this book was the concept of “do what you want not what you feel like” and this is what my living intentionally is about – doing what I really want to do not what I feel like doing at the time. This has worked in some ways and not others, I have been trying to keep on top of things at home by making sure that everything gets put away when they are finished with, doing the last of the dishes before going to bed. these things were very successful for the first 4 weeks and then suddenly seemed to get much much harder for the last 2. I have tried to meditate more – this worked well for the the first couple of weeks but then rather went by the wayside! So I have definitely been more thoughtful about how I’m living but sometimes i haven’t let my actions follow my thoughts.

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Family Stuff:

We decorated eggs – keeping it simple this year with shapies

We’ve done our family beans again. We get a dried bean for every good deed done and on Easter Sunday they are transformed to jelly beans, This year we also gave bravery beans and achievement beans.

The girls have done 40 acts again and Jonathan, Martin and I have been doing the Love Life Live Lent booklets again. The girls did well and were fairly consistent, Martin and I were rubbish at doing ours and Jonathan has been trying to do about 3 weeks worth of activities on Easter Saturday!

I tried to do Lent candles with the the family as suggested by Sacraparental but this hasn’t really been adopted by us as a family in the same way as our advent candle and readings – perhaps because it isn’t dark or just perhaps because it is getting a little late in the day to start new traditions with the kids.

We also managed a Learning Zone Easter egg hunt.

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Rebekah is clearly getting indoctrinated by me. She suggested on Good Friday that we lit a candle for each of the 7 last saying of Jesus which we did while listening to At The Foot of The Cross on Radio 2

Church Stuff:

We took the palm Sunday service at church and I was scheduled to preach on the cross – you can listen here if you have 20 minutes with nothing better to do! This gave me a good excuse to give out palm crosses. We also took a meditation service on Good Friday – this has become a tradition for us now and every year our congregation grows – it’s a chance to be quiet and reflect – I love doing this.

Jonathan and Rebekah did the Good Friday walk of witness through Newport and the rest of us stayed at the church and prepared teas and hot cross buns.

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Baking:

We usually make an edible Easter garden but this year we have made hot cross buns, Easter biscuits, nests and a simnel cake.

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A few weeks ago Jonathan was baptised at West Wight Pool. He wanted to do it inside (not in the sea) and when he could swim. So this was the opportunity.

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The church hired the pool for an hour and we started with a quick swim as everyone came in, then we had about 8 baptisms, children, teens and adults.

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Making his statements of faith:

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ready to go under:

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back up again:

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We had some friends and family joining us which was lovely – Jonathan particularly wanted to give his grandfather a big hug!

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And then there was more swimming afterwards followed by some time spent down at the church. We had to rush off afterwards as we had Burns’ Night celebrating to do as well 🙂

I’m still catching up on blogging so despite the fact we are half way through August I’m still blogging about June!

This year was the first year for ages that none of us was working at the Isle of Wight Festival some of us are usually volunteering for Gift To Nature, so this year we spent the whole time at church where we have our own fringe festival.

We do free tea, cake, hot dogs

  

 

and most importantly of all phone charging and free wi-fi.

  

We also do some entertainment of our own too.

  

  

  

We also gave out lots of God Loves Me wrist bands (we are sometimes known as the God Loves You church because of our sign outside that people can have their name added to) and had a graffiti wall.

  

  

I love festival weekend at church because to my mind it’s what we should be about – loving people without strings.

 For many people we are just a chance to get a freebie and that’s fine but for many we are more than that. For exhausted festival workers we can be a place they can have a chat and a cuppa away from work stress, for those who’ve had their hours cut we can be a place to moan about it and to get something free to eat and drink that they can now ill afford, we have dealt with distraught people who have lost tickets etc. and managed to print them off for them with little stress and no cost, we have provided a listening ear and a smile along with a cuppa and a chance to charge up a phone. We have been a home from home for people who have no church connection but have come back everyday of the festival because they felt welcomed and loved – and so much more.

Festival weekend is one of the reasons I love my church.

Some of our Christmas activities.

Martin and I went out for a Christmas meal, we went to The Taverners at Godshill, I’d never been before but it was lovely with lots of local food and I’d definitely go back again:

  

 

Making pomanders a few days before Christmas with some friends:

  

  

The we follow a pattern each year. My family comes over to visit the weekend before Christmas just a few days beforehand this year. It was only a quick visit but there was time to share dinner together and to exchange presents.

  

  

The day itself saw me up first – not the kids. So I got the breakfast ready and then everyone congregated in our room to open stockings together! Time for breakfast simple but nice – croissants and yoghurt and fruit and very very local honey from Sue Bailey. Rebekah reads us the note from Father Christmas and then it’s off to church where we were leading the singing and Martin took part in a strange ritual of finding the spiritual significance of many presents and Jonathan showed off his onesie!

  

  

After church we have our starter of dips and vegetables, then we open presents and then have our main meal (not a roast – this year Hairy Bikers Chicken Paprika). Then a game (ticket to Ride – although Ruth went and had a nap) then Christmas Doctor Who and Outnumbered and pudding. We do the same things more or less each year and everyone seems happy with it.

  

  

 Last day of celebrations for us on boxing day when Martin’s family come and visit. They were delayed by a missing ferry but we still managed to fit in lunch, a short walk, present exchange, game of cluedo and yummy dinner before they had to go back again.

I am so far behind with blogging but really really want to put up these clips from our Sing For Fun group’s Christmas concert. We sang sea shanties:

Video 1 – John Kanakanaka

and Christmas carols:

Video 2 – Sweet Bells

Everyone seemed to have a great time and we exchanged 100s of cookies in the break – fantastic 🙂

More detail might or might not come later!

We’re just back from a mainland trip – as an aside when my children produce children of their own I want to opt for Granny Island as preferred name, talking about the mainland always makes me think of Katie Morag. There will be more detail later but here is an overview.

We started with Martin’s Dad’s retirement service and bun fight.

 Then a trip to Snowdonia with some HE friends.

Then back to Martin’s parents to help with their house move – Jonathan and I skived off to visit the Fishbourne Roman Villa instead.

 

Then Ruth, Jonathan and I dashed home and I dashed straight out again to the Lovely Lucy’s hen night.

Then Ruth and I spend a whole 5 hours on Friday making and icing cupcakes.

And then Saturday ended our week with Rick and Lucy’s wedding.

I couldn’t sleep so I got up early listened to the sunrise service on radio 4 and decorated the fire place area that we had cleared for Good Friday.

Paper flowers on the cross, fruit and sweets (in place of the beans in our sacrifice jar) on the mantle piece and some flowers.

  

   

I added the decorated eggs to the Easter tree and put a basket of decorated egg on the table.

  

We did have a few chocolate eggs too.

The eventually the others got up and we had some of the fruit with yoghurt for breakfast – yummy!

Then a trip to church where I was delighted to sing Thine Be The Glory – it is to Easter what Oh Come All Ye Faithful is to Christmas – an absolute necessity if you ask me! Jonathan got a chance to show off his cake based Easter Garden. He made the cake with Ruth, the cookie stone with Rebekah and the icing with me – he was really impressive with the icing bag as he’s never done that before – and Martin took the photo so we were all involved.

The weather was yucky so we didn’t go and do our egg rolling and instead went home and had a lovely leisurely afternoon eating and playing demons and Wizard and watching Bang Goes The Theory.