Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is Chivalry Really Dead?...

Recently the topic of chivalry has been discussed between my Husband and I.  We pondered about the idea of chivalry, what it literally means, its breakdown in our modern society and how we can build it up again within our own home. 

Chivalry -
1. the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honour, justice, and a readiness to help the weak
2. courteous behaviour, especially towards women
3. the medieval system and principles of knighthood
4. knights, noblemen, etc, collectively

Please read this article posted by Mrs June Fuentes at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.  The article deals with 'Teaching Boys Chivalry'. 

Our discussion grew after my account of a recent occasion were myself and the children where in another family members home and we were invited to stay for a light lunch.  The home we were in is a modestly sized cottage and therefore has no room for a dining table; meals are simply eaten on laps whilst sitting comfortably on the sofa.  We were delighted to be asked for lunch and as we were very hungry we readily said "yes please!" 

Whilst I was in the kitchen helping to prepare the food, my children and two other family members were sitting in the sitting room; I would just like to add here that the family had already eaten their food.  Whilst I finished preparing our food, the mother of the family went into the sitting room and asked the seventeen year old son to please give up his seat so that the children and I could sit to eat our lunch.  "Urgh, why do I have to give up my seat, I'm trying to watch the TV!" replied the son.  To say I was cross at overhearing this loud comment would be rather an understatement!  To make matters worse the father of the son said nothing at the time and later on went on to defend his sons bad attitude!  Insisting instead that it was wrong of the mother to attempt to ask her 'adult' son to give up his seat for children!  The father gave up his seat and went about his daily business, this enabled the children and I to sit on the sofa and eat our lunch whilst the mother of this young man sat upon a wooden storage box within the same room...the young man in question never moved from his seat!

I was absolutely astonished!  Is this the kind of 'man' our society is raising?  A young man so lazy and arrogant that they think solely of their own comfort and will?  My husband and I discussed this issue in depth;  asking ourselves how we intended to demonstrate and train our sons to be chivalrous and gracious men.  My Husband lovingly demonstrates chivalry to me, daily to our children.  We hope that with the Lords guidance that we will raise our sons to be gracious, honourable, masculine and noble men...and in a world such as we live in today, they are sorely needed!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Learning New Skills...And Refreshing Old Ones!

Beautiful Cardigan For Our Baby...Made With Love

When our family lived in Australia for the year 2006, I was lucky enough to be taught how to crochet a basic 'granny square' by our very patient Italian neighbour!  My first square took me approximately two hours of careful, painstaking concentration and correction!

...Fast forward a few years and I am now much quicker at crocheting and enjoy it very much...although it must be said that my skills haven't progressed much beyond that trusty ole 'granny square'!  I've experimented with changing wool colours, enlarged the squares into blankets, made a purse, a winter scarf and begun a hat...

The Terrific Tank For Dylan

At present I am crocheting a mint green blanket for our new arrival and hope to be finished soon.  I researched on YouTube for a demonstration video on how to add a scalloped edging to the blanket when I have finished.  I also learned the instruction to the half-finished hat on YouTube...there really is a wealth of knowledge to be found there!

Very recently my dear mother has also been encouraged, to pick up her knitting needles again after many...many years of setting them down.  A beautiful green cardigan made for our little un-born treasure, was the first lovingly knitted item she made.  A dark-green tank top for Dylan came closely next and now she is knitting another beautiful white cardigan for baby.  It has actually been very lovely to sit with my mother on the rare occasion and sit, talk, knit and learn together!  What blessed memories!

This Baby Bonnet Was Made By A Talented Aunt Of Mine
...Many Years Ago!

I am hoping that when I have finished the crocheted blanket for baby that I will pick the simplest, most basic children's cardigan and have my mother teach me how to knit it.  In my youth she tried once or twice...but of course I knew it all already and was impossible to teach...hence, I now know nothing!

Dear ladies there is a very real need, to pass on these homemaking skills before they are lost through the generations!  What a blessing to our families to be able to provide them with lovingly created items of clothing!  Many a lady is frustrated today; trying in earnest to re-learn skills that they are lacking...either from their own youthful ignorance, lack of parental involvement or both.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We Finally Found A Church!

The Beatitudes 
- As delivered and discussed at our first sermon at Maranatha Fellowship

Hooray!  As you can tell from the title...we have indeed found a church fellowship to attend!  I am so excited about this, that I may just go pop!

We actually found it through a recommendation, made by my friend Erin on this post...many...many months ago.  Up until recently we had let things slide in regards to us making a firm decision in this area.  I finally got to the point were I felt if we didn't do something now, then we never would...and I was worried that the children would never experience Christian fellowship.

I gently urged my Husband to begin discussing this topic once more.  We finally agreed that the Maranatha Christian Fellowship is were we felt a leading from the Lord.  I (at Brian's request) sent an email to the Pastor explaining our need for Christian fellowship, stated that we felt led to join his church and that we would like to attend a service there.  Pastor Gerard emailed me back with a enthusiastic open ended welcome!

This Sunday we attended our first service!  It was all we had hoped and more!  We arrived to the sound of praise music seemingly lifting off the roof!  Both Brian and I had never experienced a service quite like it!  It was double to triple the duration when compared to an Irish Catholic mass...but none of us even noticed!

The Pastor showed us around after the service and welcomed us back again...we then joined the congregation for tea and biscuits!  We chatted and sipped our tea for about a half hour and then we said our goodbyes and proceeded to the playground around the corner.  I had promised Dylan that if he was a very good boy then he would be allowed to play for a little while afterward!  He was thrilled...Amy and he played about whilst Brian and I talked over our experience.

Brian and I were most moved by our first experience at Maranatha Fellowship and are looking forward to next Sunday with great anticipation!  The children also had a fantastic time and Amy told me that she very much enjoyed the sermon...and was looking forward to next week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Propaganda Pamphlets!

Above is a photograph of the information pack that was sent out to our family in relation to our daughter receiving the HPV vaccine; Gardasil.  If you did not yet read my introduction to this topic please do so here.  Don't you just love the cutesy teenagers all standing together on the front cover, smiling and happy because they are protected! 

The use of language in this leaflet is we feel a blatant use of careful word selection.  The design also has been done very cleverly; with images of: happy teenage girls, school copybook pages, graphics of 'flowery doodles' made to look as though a teenaged girl has 'scribbled' them onto her schoolwork, mobile phones showing text messages, calculators, rulers and post-it notes with 'key phrases' about the vaccine...blantant use of imagery to convince young ladies and their parents to opt in.

Here are a few carefully phrased sentences contained within this 'information' leaflet:

The HPV vaccine protects us from cervical cancer. (taken from the front cover of the information booklet)

Q. Is this vaccine safe? 
A. Yes, this vaccine has been shown to be very safe, with 60 million doses already given worldwide.

We expect the vaccine to provide long-lasting protection, but we will let you know if a booster is needed in the future. (note: the vaccine manufacturer states that immunisation past 4.5 years is unknown at this stage)

'Remember HPV vaccine tomorrow!  Had mine yesterday, no probs! Talk 2 u l8r. (taken from image of mobile phone showing text message of the above text.

I am trying very hard to guard my conversations with others about this topic (when asked for my opinion)  at present.  While I am still finding this difficult, I do feel blessed to have this blog to share our research and 'offload' some of our frustrations and opinions here...instead of on un-suspecting parents!  So please bear with me if you are finding me a little 'gung-ho' with this topic.  We ourselves are just parents trying to make the best prayerful decision for our own children! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Must Read...

A couple of years ago I challenged myself privately to read those 'classic' stories, that are so often the subject of many 'intellectual' debates and conversations.  I myself am an avid reader and have been so all of my life!

However as a young girl I had been disinclined to read some such tales as they simply did not pique my interest at that time and then felt in later years as though I had possibly missed out greatly in a literary sense.  Although I would like to add that in my primary school years I was told by my teachers that I could not read the 'black labelled' books within free reading time in the school library, simply because I wasn't old enough!

I longed for those forbidden tales:  Lorna Doone, Oliver Twist, The Hound of the Baskervilles...My father questioned the school, but they would not allow an 'exception' in case of causing a revolt among students all wishing to read ahead of their 'correct level' (shudder the thought)!  My wonderful father soon gifted me with a beautifully illustrated edition of Oliver Twist for me to delight in!  Thanks Dad!

Where was I?....Ah yes!  To cut a long story short (No pun intended...Ha!) that brings me to my latest literary classic 'conquest'...Jane Eyre!  Oh how I have loved 'Jane Eyre'.  There truly was never such a tale!  I immensely enjoyed being whisked away over the hills to Thornfield Hall, being both shocked and romanced by Mr Rochester's behaviour toward Jane and the sense of kinship I felt with Jane herself!  I loved it so much and talked of it so often, that Amy was so intrigued, that she herself picked up an extra copy of the book we own and began to read the first pages.  Amy's reading of Jane Eyre did not progress past that first chapter...however I can remember some tales that were a little mature for me (The Hobbit was one such tale) tempting and testing me for years till I could finally understand them!

After I had finished Jane Eyre with a sense of relief; the suspense and intrigue left me breathless!  I began researching to find a 'great' adaptation to view.  I found one such one, which seemed to me to have the most positive reviews and I ordered it for our family to watch.  On the day it arrived Amy and I snuggled up on the sofa to watch it and we loved it!  Of course now the story holds no secrets for Amy, now she has watched the adaptation...but I'm sure she may still enjoy reading the story when she is a little older.

I do not wish to give a 'book review' here as there simply is too much to say without 'gushing'...but I will have to strongly insist that if you have indeed not read this wonderful tale, that you check a copy out of your library as soon as possible and make time to read it!    

A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway.  
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All Donations Welcome!

Ooooh to some within our country this is a touchy subject!  Some people can become strongly offended if offered second-hand/pre-loved clothing!  It can be interpreted by some that by offering such items it is being suggested that they are...poor!

Some may feel as though they had it tough growing up, perhaps the economic climate at that time was dire, perhaps their father was unable to provide fully for the growing family or perhaps there were just so many children that there just wasn't enough money to go around to ensure that everyone had brand new clothes and such people are determined never ever to be classed as poor in adulthood...

When I was a child (an only child for 12 years), my family were very often given second-hand clothing for me, which was graciously received.  I always looked forward to receiving a large exciting bag full of treasures!  I remember eagerly trying on several outfits from a bag of clothing given to us by my only older cousin...I was delighted as she frequently had the prettiest, most beautiful dresses bought for her whereas my usual attire was a little plainer and practical. 

I too, when expecting Amy often gratefully received donated treasures and would scour the local charity stores with my mother looking for bargains for my little angel as she was born.  I remember that my favourite outfit that Amy wore when she was approximately six months old was a pair of denim dungarees (overalls) that cost £0.50p and a pink and white shirt to go underneath that cost £0.25p!  She looked so sweet in them!  I simply could not afford to buy her new clothes at that time! 

Both Brian's family and my own faced hard financial times when we were growing up.  Brian grew up as one of 11 siblings in rural  Southern Ireland in the 1970/80's.  Whereas I grew up in a small English town in the 1980/90's and I was an only child for 12 years.  Looking back upon our childhoods we both feel very blessed as adults, to know the difference between 'having' and 'not having' and we try our very hardest to be generous and sharing with what we do have, with others, and to not take for granted how very fortunate we are.  These are some of the values we hope to instill in our children.

Recently we were generously asked did we wish to receive a large quantity of pre-loved clothing...which of course we did!  Then several days later we were asked by a very good friend of ours the same question...again yes!  I sat upon the floor going through and making mental notes of the clothing, according to age, gender and seasonal types.  I always wash through, fold and pack away the too large items, or out of season and add the items to use immediately to the child's wardrobe.  It was then that my water supply gave out!  So I am slowly wading my way through the backlog (water is now back on!) of laundry and adding small amounts of the donated clothing to the washes.  Hopefully in the not too distant future I will have it all done...hopefully?!

Brian and I both feel so blessed by these generous gifts.  We believe that we are being led by the Lord to have a large family and by kind families giving us their pre-loved items we feel as though we are preparing for the children the Lord wants us to have!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Changing Seasons...

Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless,
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

John Keats - Ode to Autumn

There is a definite sense of Autumn falling around Plumfield House this last busy week; the wind is becoming cool and blustery and the leaves are slowly losing their lush green colour and gently dropping with each grand shake of the wind.  We have been harvesting, stoning, chopping, processing and freezing.   We have quite a bounty at present which is posing problems due to time constraints!  Still we are awaiting our crop of Roma tomatoes which everyone is waiting for with great anticipation! I have found a great recipe online for Tomato and Basil Soup, which I cannot wait to make!

Brian has been busy loading our hay, straw and silage into the shed ready for the winter to ensure our 'girls' are warm, dry and well fed!  As with the fruits and vegetables, we seem to have an over-supply of nearly everything this harvest which is in stark contrast to last year.  Brian laughs that we have enough hay and silage to last us about three winters!  This next week we are preparing to have one of our young bullocks sent off to a small local abattoir for processing...which fills us with anticipation and great excitement thinking of home-reared steak and shin beef winter roasts! 

The children and I have been enjoying a more routined approach to our schooling, with which we took a rather relaxed approach over the summer holiday period.  Amy is going at her book work at present with gusto and is even approaching her mathematics with a smile!  She is currently studying decimals which I was worried would send her into 'a tizzy' as it is so similar to her dreaded subject of fractions!...but it hasn't, so for that I'm pleased!  We are hoping to take a more 'immersed' approach to nature study with our learning and I am interested in any helpful articles and advice we can get...so I am gleaning the internet for articles and ideas for us to do with the children at this glorious time of year!

As you may have read here I am feeling the need to begin to get organised for our coming blessed arrival and for the Christmas time festivities!  I have ordered most of the gifts for our extended family and am waiting for the delivery to complete before I begin wrapping and labelling.  We usually always buy our nieces and nephews books or audio books as we feel that it is important to encourage them to read and what better time of the year than to present them with a wonderful storybook!  I usually always order them through Amazon who usually have the most fantastically reduced prices at this time of year, so in purchasing early we always make a large saving (we set a budget per child also depending on age) at an otherwise very expensive season. 

So we do have alot happening at the moment, there are many chores and activities that must be completed before the coming Winter.  Still we must also try to keep some sense of balance and try not to let ourselves become over-worked and exhausted! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Congratulations To My Wonderful Husband!

Several days ago whilst ironing our family's clothes in the morning, I pondered my own Husband as I pressed his work shirt for him.  I felt such a gratitude and love in my heart for him and I prayed for him...I asked the Lord that He would reward Brian's faithfulness, diligence and devotion to us, his family...

My hardworking man has, for the last six years worked very hard to attain the employment position he deemed best to suit our family's needs.  He found such employment and has been working diligently ever since to earn a 'permanent' position.  I would also like to add that when Brian arrives in from work he does not sit idle; he provides me his wife, with love and companionship, he spends time with our children and then puts in much hard work into managing our farm and animals!

Today I received a phone call from my Beloved announcing to me that he has indeed been given a permanent position at work!

I am so proud of my Husband that I feel as if I could burst!  This, I'm sure is his heaven sent reward for such diligence.  We now feel such a sense of relief as our family now can enjoy a feeling of security and we shall also enjoy some benefits which will be a huge blessing to our growing family in the years to come.

In five months time Brian and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary and I can honestly say that I love him more now than ever.  He has nurtured my growth as a young woman ever since we met and his wise leadership and patience have outlasted and tamed my impulsiveness, arrogance and feministic attitude!  We now enjoy a blessed marriage were we have balance and true unity.

Thank you my darling Husband for your leadership, friendship, wisdom, patience, endurance, love and faithfulness.  You are a true man of God and for that I love you.  You have earned this reward!  Congratulations!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

HPV Vaccine - Our Family's Research

Recently Brian and I were contacted via letter to inform us that our daughter Amy is now eligible to receive the HPV vaccine; more commonly known as the Cervical Cancer vaccine.  There was obviously some mistake I thought as I know it is given to young ladies entering High School and our daughter is one year away from being eligible?

Several weeks after we had received above letter, I was chit-chatting with a friend of mine during the childrens bookclub at our local library when I happened to ask her whether or not she had been contacted to inform her of her daughters eligibility for this vaccine; as her daughter is one year older than Amy?  She told me that she had also received a letter from the Health Board.

I asked her, her opinions about the vaccine, and she told me that she had indeed researched this vaccine and for her daughter she believed it "not such a good idea".  Intrigued, I tried to gain further information from my friend but she simply told me that each family should research on their own to avoid becoming influenced by another...so off I went to research!

In the meantime our own Minister for Health - Mary Harney declared that Ireland would not be providing this vaccine to girls of the appropriate age free of charge and if individuals wished it for their daughters they would have to pay out of their own pocket!  This caused national outcry... read these somewhat biased articles below:

Mary Harney relents on Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Irish Minister for Health Outlines Cervical Cancer Vaccine Programme - note how the cost of the vaccines decided which company was given the 'job'

Looking back on the initial decision made by Mary Harney; I have to wonder was she so unconvinced of the effectiveness of this vaccine that she was disinclined to spend borrowed governmental money on this vaccine?  Also the only sources who promote this vaccine are the vaccine creators (being paid to create), governmental health departments (being paid to scare us) and doctors (being paid to distribute)!

Our research began debating whether or not to vaccinate our daughter with the HPV vaccine and then led us to question all vaccines!  Why did we not question this topic sooner? Have we damaged our children's future health?  Will we continue to vaccinate our two children in the future?  Would we ever vaccinate our precious child who blossoms within? 

I discovered some horrifying facts regarding this vaccine:  I will provide a few of the many links our family consulted, here as there are far too many to detail!



www.guardian.co.uk - Detailing death of U.K Schoolgirl after HPV Vaccine

www.vaccinesafety.edu - Components of HPV Vaccine

www.irishexaminer.com - Irish Priest urges chastity over HPV Vaccine (an interesting article that resulted in public outcry at Father McCarthy's 'backwardness'!

Kindly concerning those reading who have already availed of this vaccine, please do not feel criticized or judged here, the opinions expressed here are based on our own family's research and we do not wish to place ourselves in a position of judging others; each family must prayerfully decide what is best for their own family.  Though if you are concerned about the issues raised here, please consult with your Husband/Wife and perhaps discuss researching, on behalf of your own family, the topic of vaccinations.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Thirst For Learning!

At present I am feeling compelled by the Lord to learn! Yes, learn! Lots and lots of learning!  I was feeling very confused over this a few weeks ago...but a recent wonderful late night talk with my wise Husband revealed more to me about this topic.

Several months ago when I was only just seven weeks expectant with this blessed life which grows within me; I feared that I was beginning to miscarry.  It was a terrifying time as we had miscarried a year previous.  I took to my bed emotionally and physically exhausted.  I was so angry at God!  Why was He doing this to me again?  How could I get through this again? 

My sweet Beloved urged me to read my Bible as he felt it would restore my soul and give me strength.  I really did not want to.  But he persisted and to please him I did.  The Word of God was like a balm to my soul...

...I felt renewed!  Immediately after reading I prayed my socks off and let all my fears and worries out in tearful prayer.  I asked the Lord to give life and His protection to our unborn child but I acknowledged that if it was not His will for this child to live then I begged for His grace and mercy to help me through the tough times ahead.

That day the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart in respect of the precious life within...She will be a mother of many and teacher to all...Wow! (though to note we do not know the gender of this baby as yet!)

Several weeks ago I began to feel a strong urging to learn as much as I could about vaccines, education, governmental control and medical secrecy...etc...  I was confused by this at first and wondered should I just ignore this prompting so as not to put too much pressure upon myself?  But the prompting continued so much so that I began researching online any spare second I could when the children were napping or sleeping at night and I have also ordered a few select books with my Husbands blessing!  Yes my laundry is beginning to pile up!

So whilst discussing all that I had been learning with my Husband several nights ago...he wondered if I was being Spirit-led?  Being prepared to impart wisdom to our 'arrows' through promptings of the Holy Spirit?  Over the next few weeks I intend to detail some of my topics of learning here to open discussion and to provide interesting facts to anyone who also needs to learn!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pregnancy Update!

 Baby O'Neill thriving at 18 weeks!

Well since I last blogged about our latest pregnancy many weeks have passed!  No kidding...I have been so tired throughout this pregnancy so far and I am now currently 23 weeks along.  My iron levels are good and I am getting plenty of rest; I just seem to need alot of sleep!.

Brian and I had our 18 week check up with my Domino midwife a little while ago and we had an ultrasound on the same day.  We took both the children along with us as we think it is an enjoyable experience for them both and we were planning on finding out the baby's gender...  Baby was totally not with the programme on this one and would not cooperate!  So we still don't know for sure...though I feel that the baby is a girl.  We'll just have to wait and see I guess :)

The midwife informed me that I may be scheduled for another ultrasound at 36 weeks to check the baby's size; as my last little one weighed in at 10lb 5oz...so they'll want to check that baby is not so big that I run into complications.  Which basically means that they (if I 'go over') may want to induce me earlier than the routine ten days...Hmmm not sure how I feel about that, as I had absolutely no problems delivering Dylan even at such a large size. 

I am getting a rather large tummy now which is wonderful, as I love to stroke, hold, rub and touch it!  I absolutely adore the miraculous feeling that pregnancy brings...the feeling of having life inside of me!  It totally blows me away when I think of it!  I often get teary when praying or listening to our worship songs;  I am so thankful that our Lord chose to bless us again with another little life!  I am handling my emotions much better than I did with our pregnancy with Dylan.  My Beloved would honestly tell you that, at times with our last pregnancy I was horrible to live with and generally 'demonic'!  The Lord has worked so many wonders with me since Dylan was born...

This week I am starting to feel the need to begin to get organised, so I have begun to make a list...(anyone who knows me well, will know that my lists go through several important stages: approximately 4 drafts of the list, spell checked, bulletin or numbered typed versions, divided into sub-sections per family member and/or based in chronological order, and finally a neatly copied out school board version for all to see...just incase anyone complains of being bored!)  My major list comprises of things I would like done, bought, washed, cleaned or achieved before Christmas and baby arrives (due 30th December), then secondly I have completed preliminary and final Christmas lists for the children and for our nieces and nephews. Most of our Christmastime shopping is completed!  I adore purchasing and wrapping gifts, as Christmas is my favourite time of year...however I do not like to leave things till the last minute and knowing how exceedingly large I do become in the latter stages of pregnancy... I decided to take all the gift buying and wrapping upon myself early so as to ensure that it gets done!...And yes I am so aware that my list making does make me seem exceedingly dull...but I love it!

So indeed as you can tell I am so delighted to be 'with-child' again and am enjoying every minute of it!  I am excited for the day that I will hold our precious bundle in my arms as he/she finally comes into the world...hmmm...nothing beats the smell of a newborn!