Sunday, 23 February 2014

Insomniac blogging

You don't need to know the finer details of the digestive distress I've been experiencing lately (the medication I'm on for my back now officially hates me. Woe. Oh woe is me), nor the fact that it seemed prudent to stop taking said medication so now my left leg is having a party independently of the rest of my body at inconvenient times of the day and night...

You don't need to know that, but it's my blog so I'll bitch about it anyway. But at least the stomach's doing better.

But still. Seeing as I have nothing better to do, why not waffle on about something to take my mind off things? Why not indeed. So here we go.

Part of the busy run up to the Christmas period involved a spot of decorating, just like the year before when I redecorated the kids' bedroom. The plan then was to give the kids something a bit more suited to their age – less babyish – with a view to preparing things for when they would eventually have separate rooms. So Tom, who would stay put, got to pick the colours and went for a combination of light mustard and what was disturbingly akin to Communist-China-red. Which was... vibrant.

Tom also wanted bunk beds, which was fine by the both of them because Tom got the top bunk and Rosie got the bottom bunk, which she turned into a sort of nest. Nana made some purple voile curtains to go around the bottom bunk and enclose the space, and she also got a tea set so Rosie could have tea parties with her teddies. It ended up that any kind of random 'arty' crap got hung off the top bunk as she felt like it, including the cros Bríde Rosie made.

With Tom being an early riser and Rosie being very much not, however, she ended up deciding to move into her own room a little sooner than we were anticipating, so she could get an extra hour or two in the morning without Tom interrupting. This meant following through with the promise that she could have it decorated to make it 'hers.' Naturally Tom decided that he wanted a revamp again, and seeing as he couldn't think of anything else he wanted so dearly for Christmas, I relented. After much deliberating Tom went with a space theme and he picked out the darkest blue he could find and asked for myriad glow in the dark stars (and a glow in the dark moon. There had to be a moon). It was better than the plane crash idea from last year, so that was easy enough, and voila:

He eventually decided he wanted the glow in the dark stuff concentrated on the wall opposite his bed, so that he had a whole wall of night sky. He has the rowan charm at the window and now he has a cross up as well, from earlier this month. I made him a moon-and-stars plaque to hang up on one wall (the clay didn't dry flat for some reason so it's a bit skewed but he still liked it), and after knitting Rosie some hearts for Samhainn, which I turned into a rowan charm for her, Tom asked me to knit him some stars. He picked out some yellow wool and I set to it – picking out a six-pointed star pattern because the five-pointed pattern required fancy needles I don't have...Except when I finished it, I realised that the particular yellow and the star pattern looked disturbingly like the Yellow badge a la Anne Frank. Oh dear. Mr Seren strongly agreed and I can't bring myself to let Tom have it hanging in his room, so I've said I'll have to think of something else.

My mother-in-law had given Rosie some curtains she'd made for my nieces but never used, and she also gave me the spare material. Tom decided he liked the fabric so asked for curtains (I had to make blinds in the end). After much loud swearing at the sewing machine, which refused to sew, I ended up having to do it by hand. They haven't fallen apart yet, which I consider to be the height of my achievement in adult life so far, but I should probably confess that neither do they draw up as well as they could if someone who knew what they were doing made them. But Tom's happy, and that's the main thing, right?

Rosie's room was a different kettle of fish. Initially she decided on a space theme like her brother, but with a BIGGER MOON. Then it was an under-sea theme, and there had to be dolphins and a mermaid please. Then it was back to space with the built-in wardrobes painted to look like the TARDIS so she could put her favourite teddies into it at night, so they could have adventures while she slept. But then she decided on a delightful combination of chartreuse and coral pink, which was fine until I realised she'd picked out the most expensive paint possible. So then it was orange and red, please, until we got to the DIY store and Mr Seren convinced Rosie that the colours would clash horribly. So, under Mr Seren's guidance, we ended up with this:

'Mango' and 'Jellybean Green,' with 'Jazzberry' to bring the two together. Rosie briefly contemplated having a pink ceiling, to bring together the walls with the curtains, but I vetoed that one on the grounds that she'd already exceeded the two-colour limit. Also: Grounds of taste. She wanted some pictures up on the wall, to create a "Wall of Wonder," so I offered her some spare frames that weren't being put to use. She ended up deciding to keep the pictures that were already in them, so in the end only had to choose one more picture for an empty frame. She wanted a picture of the dogs, Eddie and Mungo, and we put up the cros Bríde she made last year and some other bits and pieces she liked, to break up the photos:

The one Rosie chose – of the dogs frolicking – is bittersweet considering our oldest dog, Eddie, is starting to struggle a lot. He's coming up to 15 now, and since Christmas he's become basically incontinent. This past week he's not been able to manage more than a toddle up and down the road close to the house without being absolutely knackered, and while he's happy enough in himself to sit out in the garden while it's raining (I've no idea why he loves it so much) and merrily pee all over the place, a decision will have to be made pretty soon as to whether –when – it's a kindness to let him go than linger. It's one of the most inevitable things when it comes to looking after a pet, but it's no less gutting.

In the meantime, the kids are ignoring the fact that the inevitable is likely to be sooner rather than later and are pinning their hopes on being able to get a husky puppy (not bloody likely), because cute and fluffy is a happier thought than old and decrepit. They've been keen to know where he might go, once the end does come, though. Tom likes the idea of Eddie hanging out at the beach, while Rosie likes the idea of him coming back again, because then we might meet him again. Coming to terms with having to let go is hard.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

New Article – Children and Family in Gaelic Polytheism

So I've posted this in a few places and might as well post it here, too:

Gaol Naofa is proud to present our latest article for the website, this time focusing on Children and Family in Gaelic Polytheism. 
Although the main purpose of the article is to give parents ideas on how to include children in a family-based Gaelic Polytheist practice, we hope it will also prove useful for individuals – whether youth or adults – who are new to GP, as well as to other sorts of multigenerational spiritual communities. 
The basics of belief and practice are broken down into their various elements, and practical ideas and examples of simple prayers are given that a child or beginner should be able to get to grips with easily enough. 

Brìde and her menagerie

Usually this day sneaks up on me somehow, but for once I managed to keep track of time long enough to be prepared. Hurrah! I'd make a terrible Brownie or Girl Guide. Whichever one is supposed to Be Prepared.

Aside from Samhainn, this is the festival that the kids love the most and are keen to get involved in, mainly because there are lots of things for them to do and make. Also, Rosie in particular thinks of Brìde coming around with her cow as being akin to Father Christmas dropping round, except this time we have to leave presents for her. I assured Rosie that we'd leave out some food (just like we do for Father Christmas, after all), but she insisted on something more:

She drew a picture before it was time to go to school on Friday morning and was going to colour it in later, but then decided she didn't want to ruin it. I've no idea why the cow is saying "oom," so I can only conclude that bovines, like gods, work in mysterious ways. Or else six-year-olds do.

I wanted to get hold of a kit to make our dealbh Brìde but the local garden centre didn't have anything that was particularly appropriate for the kids to join in with. The next best thing was a book with a set of pipe cleaners and some ideas for things to make, which were simple enough for the kids to make themselves. Tom wasn't sure he was keen on the idea of making a doll, so it seemed more inclusive, too, which was a plus. In the end, the day before we were going to celebrate, I made the dealbh Brìde and the kids made some of the things from the book. We ended up with quite the menagerie:

Tom made a snake all by himself, which seemed quite apt. Accompanied by a very authentic lizard, penguin, grape, and banana, I'm sure you'll agree. The grape ended up being repurposed as a lantern for Brìde, at Rosie's insistence. She's taken the festivities to heart this year.

So on Friday the house was cleaned and tidied, ready for the evening of festivities, and then we feasted on roast chicken with sticky toffee pudding (at Tom's insistence, and which he made), we danced and sang, and we invited Brìde in and set the icon in her bed. The house was sained and devotions and offerings were made, and the kids took forever to get to sleep because it was all just so damn exciting. At bedtime they decided they wanted to leave a blanket out each, for blessing, so I promised I'd do that for them. I put some things out for me and Mr Seren as well.

We didn't have time to fit everything in so some of it spilled over into today. Rosie and I made a cros Bríde each:

And then Tom decided he'd like one for his room, so I said I make another one if he wanted. He wasn't keen on doing it himself, so he picked the colours and I set to it. The one I did is the largest, while Rosie picked red and yellow for hers. Tom wanted a mix of all three:

For dinner this evening we had beef and barley stew with another go at Skye bannocks for after, which I blessed as I made them:

They certainly looked better than the first go I had at Lùnastal, but the blackberries I put in then were a nice addition. The sultanas I added this time round were good too, but blackberries have the edge, I think.

While dinner was cooking I had to nip out to the shops to get some bread and Rosie took it upon herself to write a poem for Brìde as she entertained herself with Minecraft. It was completely her own idea, and she was very excited to show it off once I got back. I insisted on taking a photo for posterity:

Then when I went to dish up the dinner and the kids were waiting at the table, there was a miracle! The kitchen windows had steamed up and a heart had appeared on one of the panes of the back door where we'd invited Brìde in the night before. The kids insisted that neither of them had done it and Rosie was so giddy because that just had to mean Brìde had been to visit, she almost passed out. There was definite communication with dolphins...

All in all, things seemed to come together nicely. As much as I've been at this for a good while now (by today's standards, anyway), now that the kids are starting to become more involved with things it's like being able to see it through a different point of view at times. One thing that's becoming more clear than ever is that it's the simple things that can be the most meaningful, whether it's a heart in the window or the first crack of sunshine after weeks of cloud and rain and sleet.

Brìde has been. Spring is on its way. Brìde is welcome...