Saturday, 22 March 2014

7 Quick Japanese takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 151)


Well hello! I sent my husband on holiday to Japan for a week this week, resulting in a complete lack of blog posting and indeed doing much else other than make food for children, transport children, bathe children, put children to bed which, quite frankly, makes for a very boring weekly roundup so I am using my husband's week vicariously instead, because who DOESN'T want to see loads of stuff different from the norm?

Toilet Control Panel. Looks like fun, yeah?


A view of Tokyo from the 'burbs. Beautiful orange moon. Although Google tell me that it's due to pollution. Different perspective on the night sky, anyway.


While the 4Sisters and I attempted plaice goujons with sea salt and black pepper crumb for a new (and actually quite unpleasant) Lenten meal, FabDad's dinners appear to have been another thing entirely. Walking the Kumano-Kodo route for Buddhist pilgrims, accommodation and hospitality was apparently provided (paid for) in someone's home for a night at a stop along the route.


We are HUGE Studio Ghibli fans in this house, and much of our perception about Japan is coloured by their films. Happily, a misty mountain walk was described by FabDad as straight out of Ghibli :-)


We hoped that my husband would land in Japan for Cherry Blossom season, but sadly he's a week too early for everything to be in bloom. Still there has been some cherry blossom and other interesting sights.

Entrance to Buddhist Shrine


Much of the trip seems to have been about smelly buses and trains, although maybe that's my perception from the emails I've been getting! Still - train food looks good:



Thanks to my husband for providing an interesting week of pictures for my viewing entertainment, that I was able to share with my reader/s. Juxtaposed with assisting 2ndSister in making Sports Relief cakes (from bottom, clockwise: tennis racket and ball, tennis ball, bowling ball & skittles, football net & ball, soccer ball, cricket stumps, bat & ball)

Prepping for Easter

and 3rdSister with a bonnet for a very early pre-school Easter Fair, this pretty much sums up my week!

* with thanks to Jen Fulwiler @ for hosting - head over there now and read a whole load of other Quick Takes!

Friday, 14 March 2014

7 thankful quick takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 151)


Thank you, Lord. For exercise. Honestly, it makes such a difference to my outlook (if not to my fluctuating figure, yet) so I'm thankful for a husband who can take care of the kids while I do a morning pool workout. This is MAJOR as I can't do impact exercise out of water, and trying to get out in the evening....don't even go there.


For worship songs. Sadly I haven't got my ass in gear about Lent and haven't got my favourite meditative CD in the car, but I replaced batteries on my bathroom stereo, finally, so I can listen to some songs properly.


All the Small Things. Not the Blink 182 song. Although, that too. But all the things like changing batteries, and having the kids outside to play, and all the other things which may seem standard and trivial and small but at the end of the day, are HUGE.

Oh Lord get us out in the fresh air and home before it pisses it down.


For the huge things, like the biggest event our town has ever seen that happened last night - an armed siege with hostages which ended safely. My husband rang to say he couldn't leave work as there were armed police who had told him to stay in his building away from the windows. Later he was evacuated from the building under armed guard and came to join the family. Trust us to rent an office next to the building where this happened. Four years ago we were camping in the Lake District on an idyllic family campsite and there was an insane gunman on the loose there.


For daughters. 2ndSister was home from school yesterday with a stomach upset yet still entertained the smaller children so I could get the online grocery shopping done.


For babies. FabDad and I still rejoice just in gazing at 4thSister in her final stages of babyhood (she turns one next week). The way she holds her head, the nape of her neck, the way she plays 'row row row the boat' in the bath. All treasure. And she eats anything I make for her (see below.)


This is my 'clean' look
For those who clear their plates without whinging, when they're having full three meals a day. I'm working on this in our house. Following our attempt at French Kids Eat Everything, 2ndSister's eating habits have improved, but an increase of fish and vegetarian dishes during Lent isn't really helping them appreciate that their tummies would be full if they filled them up. A special thanks to 4thSister for whom I can currently stew beef, potato, turnip, pepper, onion, broccoli and spinach, and it gets wolfed down.

Also - I'm thankful dance exams are over (low merit, high merit, distinction gained, hurrah!), that I booked 2ndSister's birthday party well in advance and that tomorrow morning I'll get 30 minutes at church in Morning Prayer. Alone. hah!

* with thanks to Jen Fulwiler @ for hosting - head over there now and read a whole load of other Quick Takes!

Lent Lite

For a moment here I thought I was having Lent-lite.

And then I remembered that even though I didn't make it for ashing, that I was late with the kids' materials, I've cancelled my attendance at ecumenical Lent group and I'm re-reading a Lent book of poetry from a couple of years back, then I shouldn't be surprised when God grabs me by the ankles, dangles me from a great height and says

Look at this! Look at all this is happening! Because you made it so! Because you allow it to be!

Last week someone mentioned to me that having a 'whatever will be, will be' attitude only works if you're a willing partner in the exchange and do some of the work. I agree to an extent, but what we didn't discuss is that God only needs a

sliver, an
inch, a
glimpse, a
tiny glimmer of interest and willingness and then suddenly, boom! it all starts to happen.
From the moment I sat in a 10am service, having been slack and left all 4Sisters at home with FabDad, I realised how much I needed Lent. To be topsy turvy for a while. To think about what we don't have, and what we do have.To realise how the slightest  Bible reading and the deepest prayer can call us to arms, and remind us who we are, who God is, and why we take this time 'out', liminally, to rediscover this.

We didn't collectively give up confectionery this year -  it's generally restricted to weekends anyway - although I have been trying, mainly unsuccessfully, to cut down on sugar. We haven't really given anything up at all, although we're using Christian Aid resources again to think and reflect. But thankfully, when the sun came out on Sunday, suddenly we had the gift of fresh air, exercise, running children!

1stSister reluctantly came off Minecraft and an hour later was refusing to come in because she was enjoying riding her bike around the block too much.

I took 2ndSister to the park to practice riding without stabilisers and had some close time with her.

3rdSister wanted to scoot, skate and cycle all at once although all of these things elude her but she's just happy being out with the others. As is 4th Sister.

Tuesday, they begged to go out after school again and homework was done in record time.

Thank you God, for moving our asses away from difficult neighbours and a road busy with traffic, to a new estate where our privileged kids can get out and play like I used to when I was a kid. With some of the local under privileged kids, sometimes.

And as for me? I spend 45 minutes at a new aquaaerobics class which was perhaps the best euphoria I've had since clubbing on MDMA.

And these small, few things remind me I am restored, renewed, in Him. It can only take a small tweak, a little effort, to engender great change. We just need to reach out and trust. Say that prayer. Feel that prayer. Ask. Do.

A little like a Bible verse we had at hospital prayer this week, you think?

...your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6: 8, part.)

And if anyone needs an earworm, I remember this from Sunday School, and it's taken from the same chapter:

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
and his righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Allelu, alleluia.

Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by ev’ry word
That proceeds from the mouth of God.
Allelu, alleluia.

Ask, and it shall be given unto you.
Seek, and ye shall find.
Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.
Allelu, alleluia.

Okay - 4th Sister needs getting up from her nap...