Thursday, 31 October 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and then some!

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Happy Halloween!    The one night of the year that the streets team with spooks and goblins and trick or treaters!   It's one of my favourite nights of the year!  I thought it would be fun to look at some of the folklore, traditions and origins of the holiday this morning.

The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows' Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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 Gabriel, Luke and daughter of my heart Anne carving their annual Halloween Pumpkin.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.  (Spooky!!)

The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

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Trick-or-treating, is an activity enjoyed by children on Halloween.   Dressed up in costumes, they proceed from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

Some residents go to great lengths to decorate their homes and properties on this day, with spectacular light displays, spooky music, carved pumpkins and the like. In short, plenty of Halloween atmosphere to please the kiddies and send shivers down their backs as they run through the neighborhood.

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Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas."

I can remember as a teen, going "Mummering." Dressed in costumes we visited friends and family in the countryside withholding our identity as best we could.  Mummering, mumming, or janneying ( in Newfoundland and Labrador) describes the practice of visiting several homes throughout an evening while dressed in a disguise. Usually groups of friends or family will piece together their disguises using whatever they have around their homes. They might change their walk, talk, shape, or size—whatever it takes to make them unrecognizable to the hosts of the homes they visit.

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Upon entering a home, the hosts would try to guess the identities of the mummers who were hidden behind some kind of mask. They might get poked at and prodded, or asked a series of questions. When answering questions, mummers would often disguise their voice. The most well-known tactic involved speaking while inhaling.

Once a janney was identified, they would remove their mask. The hosts would then usually offer them drink and food. In many homes, a host would not offer a drink until they guessed the mummer’s identity. With the lifting of the veil, the stranger becomes the friend and the whole group would socialize until the mummers suited up and headed out to the next home.

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A jack-o'-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O'Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween. Typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. During the night, a candle is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is.

In folklore, an old Irish folk tale tells of Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn't get down. Another myth says that Jack put a key in the Devil's pocket while he was suspended upside-down.

Another version of the myth says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack's wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped. In both myths, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul.

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After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from Hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favorite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or Jack-o'-Lantern.

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Trick-or-Treating hasn’t always been a part of Halloween celebrations. In fact, Halloween has only been celebrated in the US for a relatively short time. Celebrating All Hallow’s Eve was a practice that came over to the US with the first large wave of immigrants who came from Ireland, England and Scotland. In some parts of these countries it was common for kids to go out “guising” on All Hallow’s Eve to beg for food, money or other items. People who refused to give anything would sometimes find chalk drawings on their doors the next morning or find they were the victims of other pranks. When immigrants came to the US they brought their traditions with them and on All Hallow’s Eve each year in some immigrant communities it would be common to see small children, usually boys, with makeup or soot on their faces or wearing crude masks made from bags going around begging at different houses.

At the beginning of the 20th century “guising” was still not very popular and most people didn’t really know what Halloween was. But by the early 1920s the young trendsetters were beginning to throw lavish Halloween parties and there was renewed interest in “guising”. Stores started selling pre-made costumes that people could wear to disguise themselves and indulge in a little good natured Halloween fun. During WWII Halloween celebrations were toned down due to sugar rationing and the generally somber mood of the nation. By the time the war was over and people started the mad exodus to build homes in the suburbs the celebration of Halloween had gotten popular.

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The 50s and 60s were the decades when Trick-or-Treating became the important Halloween ritual they are today. Trick-or-Treating became the focus of Halloween celebrations because going Trick-or-Treating was seen as a wholesome activity for the whole family. Trick-or-Treating also became popular in the 50s and 60s because that was when living in subdivisions and newly built suburban neighborhoods became popular.

Trick-or-Treating remained popular through the 70s and 80s but by the 90s the practice of Trick-or-Treating began to change. Many different factors like the rise of people living in apartment buildings instead of free standing houses in suburban neighborhoods and the rise in non-traditional households contributed to the major changes that shaped Trick-or-Treating at the end of the 90s. In order to accommodate parents with busy schedules and in an effort to make Trick-or-Treating safer for kids it was moved largely indoors. Malls began to open for specific Trick-or-Treating events where kids in costume could go to different stores to receive candy and coupons.

These structured Halloween events also usually feature games, activities, and clowns and other performers to make the event even more special. Many neighborhoods have also designated special Trick-or-Treat hours to prevent a lot of Halloween mischief and help protect the safety of Trick-or-Treaters.   At our church we usually have "Trunk or Treat" events, where we can take our car to the church parking lot and the trunk or boot of the car is opened and decorated.  The costumed children move from car boot to car boot and get their treats and then there is generally a bit of a party inside the chapel afterwards.

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However which way you choose to celebrate Halloween this year, I wish for you a safe and happy event!  Even if all Halloween is for you, is sitting in front of the telly, watching a scary movie and munching on bite sized candy bars and sticky popcorn!

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No, it's not another costume.  It is my son Bruce and his dad.  Congratulations to Bruce on his accelerated promotion to Corporal, presented to him by his proud dad.  We are all proud of Bruce and love him very much! 

A report on the findings from the hospital yesterday . . .

Once again I had an abnormal EKG, although my blood pressure was very normal.  I was given a blood test for thyroid function, which suprisingly had never been done.  I am being given an appointment to have a Coronary Calcium Score, which is an X-ray investigation which involves a CT scanner which will take pictures of slices of my heart.   If there is any furring up of the ateries to the heart muscle there will be small areas of calcium which will show up.  If this happens then I will be given a CT Coronary  angiography.  I am also going to be given an Echo-cardiogram, which is an ultra sound wave of the heart.   At least I am in the system now and hopefully won't have to wait too long for further treatment!  Your prayers and happy thoughts are always appreciated! 

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

Learn to smile at every situation.
See it as an opportunity
to prove your strength and ability.
~Joe Brown  

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . a tasty Bread, Cheese and Tomato Omelet.   Cooking for one.  Or Two.  Easily multiplied.

Have a safe and a Happy Halloween!

PSSTT!!  Today is also my thirteenth anniversary of arriving to take up residence in the UK!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Wednesday musings . . .

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Not a lot going on here at Casa de Rayner this week . . . we had a delightful meal with the Elders last night. I call them the Hoole Elders as that is where the apartment is that they are staying.   Hoole is way across the city.   Then there are the Blacon Elders which live around the corner from us and the Welsh Sisters that are staying in Wales.  Our Ward covers a HUGE area so they are quite spread apart, and none of them have cars at the moment so getting about has to be done on foot, by bicycle, on the bus, or via the kindness of a member.

We have always loved having the Missionaries in our home.   As I have said on countless occasions, they always bring a special spirit with them whenever they come.  I know that being on a mission is often not very easy for them, although they always seem to be very happy to be here.   I know that they love sharing the Gospel with people, but I also know that they miss their families and often feel homesick or lonely.   They have left everything which is familiar to them for two years (18 months for the girls) to share the message of the Saviour and during that time they will speak to their families only twice a year.  Once on Christmas Day and then again on Mother's Day.

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At a time when most young people in the world are having a great old life, clubbing and partying, going to University and having fun with their friends, these dear young people go off and spend two years in service to their Lord and Saviour.

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Twenty Four hours a day . . . seven days a week . . . 365 days a year they spend their time immersed in the scriptures and service to their fellow beings.  They are not allowed to listen to the radio, or watch the television, or use computers (except for 1/2 hour weekly to send e-mails to their family and friends).  They are not allowed to listen to music which isn't Gospel oriented, but only that which is uplifting and wholesome.

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They wear out their shoes and their suits and their shirts.   They go out and about in all kinds of weathers . . . in the heat and in the cold . . . in rain and in sunshine . . .

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They spend countless hours in service as well . . . clearing rubbish, clipping hedges, mowing lawns, cleaning houses, etc.   Whatever service is required to be done, they do it all and without re-embursment.  They do it out of love.   Love for the Gospel.  Love for the Savior.  Love for their Heavenly Father.   Love for their fellow man.

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They are not all young.  Many older couples serve the Lord in this manner as well.

For the most part they pay for the priviledge of doing so, having saved for their missions since they were young children.  Any extra pennies from chores done, or summer jobs etc. going into their mission fund.   Members of the church all over the world also give money to the church's missionary fund to help those who don't have enough to pay for their own missions but still want to serve the Lord in this way.  That way serving a mission is not just a priviledge for those who have means, but a priviledge for all who desire to serve.

Many interrupt their education to do so.   All put everything else in their life on hold for the time required and they do it because of Love.  I have great honor and respect for these dedicated people.   I admire them and I do all that I can to help them.  It is a priviledge to have them in my home and to be able to feed them.  They have a special light and it's a light that they yearn to share.  If you see a Missionary on the street, or one knocks on your door,  I hope that you will stop to speak to them and share a kind word with them.  Remember that they are someone's son or daughter, sister or brother . . . and in some cases mother and father, and they have sacrificed to be where you are . . . because of love.  Remember also that their family has sacrificed for this purpose as well.  Be kind.  It costs nothing.  What have you got to lose?

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I did a little picture the other day.  I actually had sketched it out a couple of weeks ago and done all the inking, then day before yesterday I did all of the colouring in and yesterday I stuck the words on it.   I quite like how it turned out.

Must dash as I have to get ready to go to the hospital, but I'll leave you with a special thought for the day . . .

"Go out into the world today
and love the people you meet.
Let your presence bring new light
in the hearts of people.
~ Mother Teresa  

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Herbed Mushroom Mac & Cheese.

Have a wonderful day! 


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Simple Woman's Day Book

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 FOR TODAY  October 29th, 2013

Outside my window...
It's still quite dark and the rain is bucketing down.  Mitzie didn't want to go out for very long this morning and I can't blame her!  We were very lucky here in that we didn't get any of that horrible storm that battered the South Eastern parts of the UK yesterday.  We are very blessed to live in Chester.  It's God's country I think, but then again . . . I am a tad bit biased!

I am thinking...

I have my appointment at the hospital tomorrow morning at the Cardio Vascular Unit.  I am thinking it is a blessing I live in a day and age where you can get help like we do in these modern times.

I am thankful...
For the missionaries.   We have two of the Elders coming for supper tonight and I always love to have any of the missionaries in our home.  They bring such a special spirit with them.  It's always a good thing to have them here.

In the kitchen...

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Check it out in The English Kitchen today . . .  Spiced Tomato Soup, served in my new Emma Bridgewater mug!  This is sooooooo yummy and the mug is so pretty!  I am a lucky girl!

I am wearing...
Nothing new here! Yep, in my nightie! Today I have added a robe because it is decidedly chilly!

I am creating...  
When my kids were growing up, we always had an Advent Wreath that I created on the sideboard, and Advent Calendars.  I thought it would be fun to share some that you can make yourself today.  I may even make one for Todd!

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Now here is a simple one.  Using lined envelopes.  You can find out how to make this one on Real Simple.  Just my style.  I am rather lazy at times!

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No source for this but it looks easy enough.  Just get some of those  string things that come with little clothes pins.  (I think they are Christmas card holder thingies)  Make 25 little stockings out of Christmas scraps and hang em up!  Ok, so a tiny bit more complicated than that, but the average sewer could easily figure this one out.

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Loving this one.  I love red and white anything.  Washi tape would make this super easy.  Find out how on Soel Boutique!

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A wonderful idea from Kate's Creative Space.  Twenty five individual little gifts mounted in a frame.  How cute is that!

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Not at all fond of the colours, but really liking the idea.   I found this on Windy and Friends.   Its made from match boxes.  You all know how much I love playing with match boxes!

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I love the simplicity of this advent wreath that I found on One More Mushroom.   I love simple things.   I love Christmas.  I love keeping Christmas Simple!

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My Santa Keys all done and dusted!  I hope the my grandchildren like them.  I may get them each a Night Before Christmas Book to go with them, just to add to the excitement!

I am going...
TodayI am going to go to Aldi to pick up a few bits for supper tonight.  We shop at Aldi most of the time now.  It's the cheapest place to go.

I am wondering...
Which came first . . . the chicken or the egg?

I am reading...
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Mercy, by Jodi Picoult.
Police chief of a small Massachusetts town, Cameron McDonald makes the toughest arrest of his life when his own cousin Jamie comes to him and confesses outright that he has killed his terminally ill wife out of mercy. Now, a heated murder trial plunges the town into upheaval, and drives a wedge into a contented marriage: Cameron, aiding the prosecution in their case against Jamie, is suddenly at odds with his devoted wife, Allie -- seduced by the idea of a man so in love with his wife that he'd grant all her wishes, even her wish to end her life. And when an inexplicable attraction leads to a shocking betrayal, Allie faces the hardest questions of the heart: when does love cross the line of moral obligation? And what does it mean to truly love another?

Enjoying it so far.   I want something new to read though . . . something different.  Any suggestions???   I don't like anything smutty or implausable.  I am quite fond of history and I don't like pap.  (No tall order there or anything, lol!)

I am hoping...
That they discover something that is easily treatable when I have all my heart testing done and dusted.  Praying for miracles here.

I am looking forward to...
TheMissionaries coming today.  Always a treat.

I am learning...
I am becoming ever more aware that my time left here on earth is somewhat limited.   I am only a few years younger than most of my ancestors were when they passed on and indeed, older than some!  My mother and father are still alive.  I reckon with any lucky I have at least 20 more years, God willing.   What do I want to do with it?   I am learning to make each day count as never before.

Around the House ...
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Like that's going to happen anytime soon! Ha ha!  I don't think the Ironing Board could take the strain!  But the idea is to take advantage of little boughts of exercise when and if you can during the day!  Good idea in theory.

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There is some excellent advice on doing this over on Planning With Kids.   Excellent.  I need help with this.

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Some great ideas on organizing your spice cupboard on Organizing Home  Lots of printables and workable plans!

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DUH!  Now why didn't I think of that????

I am pondering... 
Howmuch more water the grass in the back yard can hold before it turns into a lake.  Yes, we are in rainy season now.  Note to self . . . "You will not melt.  You will not melt.  You will not melt . . . "

A favorite quote for today...  

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You are unique,
and if that is not fulfilled
then something has been lost.
~Martha Graham

One of my favorite things...  
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Tea Parties.   I think everyone should have a tea party every once in a while, even if you are the only one there and it's just a mug of cocoa and a biscuit.    It's about celebrating the simple.  The secret to an abundant life.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Missionaries tonight, hospital tomorrow.  Nothing else yet.

A peek into my day...

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Gratitude.  I try to practice it every day, but that isn't always possible.  I am not perfect.  I do try to be thankful as often as I can.  Life is better when you walk in the steps of gratitude.

 ⋱ ⋮ ⋰
⋯ ◯ ⋯ Take time to enjoy the small*´¯`.¸¸.☆
⋰ ⋮ ⋱ blessings in life.*´¯`.¸¸.☆
✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿ ✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿
░░░░░░░░░░░░░ ░░░░░░░░░░░░░  

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Small and Wonderful Things

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"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But who gets excited by a mere penny?...It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. what you see is what you get." ~Anne Dillard 

A few of the small and wonderful things which bring untold joy into my life.   It's the small things in life which truly mean the most.  Simple abundance . . . it's the best.

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Pirates in the family.   This is our Bruce with his partner Sara and their Baxter, dressed for a birthday party for one of the nephews.  Just for fun I went to a pirate name generator.   Sara's pirate name is Mae "Toothy Grin" "The Plunderer of Lion Bay!" Bruces's was George"Silver Tooth" Scoby "The Soul of Jewel Creek!"  I don't know what any of that has to do with their real names! But I thought it would be fun.  I did not try to Piratize Baxter!

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I think Baxter is one of the cutest dogs, next to Mitzie of course!  (She's cuter, but then again I am a tad bit biased!)  He is a Daschund/Terrier cross, which means he has the longish body of the Daschund and the hair of a terrier.  A very cute mix I think.

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What do you think??? It would be pretty hard not to love that little face.

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This photograph of the Duke and Duchesse of Cambridge with wee Prince George made my heart melt.  I hope that my parents looked at me with that kind of love in their faces when I was a baby.  I think it is just precious.

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Small peanuts to some, but pretty large to me.  This fabulous machine is my pride and joy at the moment!  I really am such a lucky woman.   I won that yellow Kitchen Aid Blender from Sainsbury's  Magazine  back when I was living down in Brenchley, last year I won a National Award from the British Turkey Association, this year this lovely machine from  Gourmandize UK/Ireland . . . what's next???  The lottery??? I dunno.  I already think I'm a pretty lucky woman.  Lovely husband and family, fairly decent health, the Gospel in my life, all of you . . . what more could anyone possibly want or have!  My cup runneth over!

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I think "Uncle Bruce" is all of the grandkids' favourite Uncle.   They all seem to love spending time with him and he seems to love spending time with them.

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I noticed when I was home that Maryn particularly was very fond of him.   That is so nice.  I did not have an Uncle like that when I was a child.  I think he will be a great father.

All of my son's are great fathers.   It is a wonderful reward as a parent yourself, to see your own children grow up and be good parents.  It makes you feel that, despite all the wrongs you may have committed . . . you must have done some things right!

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In my heart I always wanted to be this grandmother.  The one that the grandchildren came to and wanted to do things with and cuddle with.   Reality has meant that I am forced to live quite far away from my grandbabies, and that was my choice . . .  I know that.  It wasn't supposed to be forever, only for a couple of years, but life has a way of getting in the way of the way you would like things to be.  Instead I have to be this kind of grandmother in my heart and try to make up for the time and distance apart in other ways.   I have spent the weekend, crocheting and glittering and cutting and gluing and writing, and little bits of my heart have been spread through it all.  I hope that my grandbabies will be able to feel of that love in some way.

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Warm socks on a cold day.  I got to get me some.  Mine are all thirteen years old and the ones I brought over here with me when I first arrived to live here in the UK on October 31st 2000.  It is hard to believe that thirteen years have gone by already.  I hope the next thirteen years don't pass by as quickly as these did!  

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

When you get older, you realize
it's a lot less about your place in the world
but your place in you.
It's not how everyone views you,
but how you view yourself."
~Natalie Portman

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . a delicious Pear and Apple Spice Cake!

Have a fabulous Monday.  May it be filled with lots of small and wonderful things!