Friday, 19 September 2014

Sun Power

Our solar panels were installed today.  It was astonishing the speed in which it all occurred.

The solar company and the electricians arrived and 3 hours later we were taking full advantage of the power generated by the sun.

Our plan now is to become smart solar users, changing habits to ensure electrical appliances run during the daylight hours. Thus maximising solar power and reducing the electrical bill.

Finding Grace

Finding Grace - Laura Pearl
Last year I was delighted when I won a copy of Finding Grace written by my friend Laura. Most excitedly it arrived just in time to be tucked into my hospital bag along with the Tim Tams (chocolate coated biscuits). As all mummas know, essentials for a stay in the maternity ward include chocolate and a brand new book to savour, for those moments when your newborn is asleep and you are slowly going mad looking at the walls of the maternity ward. Finding Grace will always be part of my memories of Bella's birth, as in the 20 hours between Bella's birth and when we booked out, I managed to begin and finish reading Finding Grace. After labouring through the night, I was exhausted and should have been sleeping any moment I could whilst Bella slept, but I became hooked on the story.

Reading and reviewing a book when you 'know' the author was a different experience. Whilst Laura and I have yet to meet (we live on opposite sides of the world) we have been connecting over our blogs for more than a year. There are similarities in our personalities and our lives; we are both practicing Catholics married to practicing Catholics, we're madly in love with our husbands, we have lots of sons and love son dynamics, and neither of us were ever considered 'cool' and we're good with that:) so I'm always keen to get to know Laura more, if we ever do meet I'm certain we'd talk nonstop for hours and hours. Laura's my role model, she not only dotes on her sons but loves her daughters in law and grand-babies to bits, I want to be warm, giving and loving just like Laura.

When you read a book written by a friend whom you are wanting to deepen a friendship with, you read said book with a different mindset, as if gleaning for further insights even though your friend has clarified, though her characters share a couple of characteristics of people in her life, she has not based the novel on her life you still wonder... therefore your reactions to the characters of the story become more personal which makes it harder to review, as I'm aware I can be a harsh critic.
My thoughts, when the reader becomes so engrossed in a story that they really engage with the characters, liking and disliking them, then the author has done a good job. Long after putting Finding Grace down I was still thinking about the characters, plotting sequels for the other characters, I really wanted to know the story of one of Grace's childhood classmates but alas Laura assures her readers Finding Grace is a stand alone and her next book, Erin's Ring is totally different.

Synopsis, Grace Kelly (not THE GK) a thirteen year old is inspired by a comment of her father's to become a saint. The book is set in the early 1970s a challenging time for young people as the world recovers from the sexual revolution and young Catholics are not exempt from this shake up. Grace is raised in a Catholic home and attends a Catholic highschool, she calls upon Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother and the saints to help her navigate the rocky waters of growing up in this era. The author has been authentic to the period, to the culture, some of the phrases used made me smile as they were so corny and so 70s.

To be honest Grace in the beginning really irritated me, I so wanted to shake her and talk her into having a better sense of self identity, of her worth, she was so worried about her looks, she badly needed self confidence.  I don't recall ever being that painful at 13, she was embarrassingly obsessed. As her character developed in sanctity she focused less on the shallow. Grace's father bothered me, he preached at Grace, I don't take well to that sort of approach. Grace's mother I liked and was saddened that her and Grace were not closer and Grace's brothers were extremely likable and admirable young men. Tom Buckley, Grace's friend was a young man of impressive character, he had moral strength and consideration for others, no wonder Grace 'fell for' him, certainly an admirable young man.

Grace suffers lots of teen angst, battling with her own insecurities, whilst having to navigate the moral issues of the 70s, including teen pregnancy and abortion, issues which continue to be part of the challenge of young people today. The answers to moral issues of the 70s ultimately are no different for today's generation and Laura dealt with them very well. We see Grace develop from a young insecure girl into a young woman of depth, we watch her show compassion to others who have chosen different paths to hers and we watch her romance with Tom Buckley grown and mature.  I was thinking about the novel long after I put it down and I'm eager to read Laura's next book.

Linking up over at Housewifespice for this week's WWRW

Thursday, 18 September 2014

We're Goin' To the Chapel

Saturday we attended my brother's wedding, it was beautiful and elegant, a special day indeed. 

A day rich in precious memories

shared with our favourite people.

Oh my so grown up! just allow me a moment

 Living my own fairytale with my Prince Charming

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Week of Surf & Faith

We have just returned from our annual Catholic Home Education camp (our 14th year) a week of sand 

and surf, our children love the opportunity to swim at the beach daily.

We were blessed to have daily Mass with our camp chaplain, Father Terence-Mary

gathering together with all camp attendees. 

Each evening we concluded the day with Benediction and the Rosary always a highlight.

Every night after prayers we enjoyed various activities; ice breaker games, quiz nights and on the final night the children produced a play.

They worked diligently towards this event every day and impressed and entertained us with their talent.  We couldn't run our camps without the help of our volunteer parents and are most grateful for their assistance.

This year we were blessed to have Ronan Reilly from the Australian Sacred Music Association join us to run a series of successful workshops teaching Gregorian chant.  This was the first time Ronan taught children so young and he did a marvelous job. 

Ronan has a gift for teaching and a passion for Gregorian Chant and by the conclusion of the week we were comfortable singing the Kyrie Elesion, the Sanctus, Agnus Dei and the Gloria. 

Another regular highlight of the camp are our catechesis sessions, always popular with the children and their teacher,

 an opportunity for the children to receive instruction, ask questions and to be challenged in their Faith. 
We have returned home refreshed and renewed.

Friday, 5 September 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 205)

Home today from our annual Catholic home education camp. Another fantastic and successful year! Whilst we (the children and I) were off enjoying ourselves PC stayed behind and was a bachelor for the week.  He has stated several times the house was very quiet, also he was surprised that when he left a room neat in the morning he returned to find it in the same state in the evening, apparently homes stay clean when people aren't there through the day.

Taking ten people to camp meant it was easier to transport our luggage via the trailer.  I'm a fairly confident driver and normally towing a trailer doesn't bother me, I've even been known a time or two to back up with the trailer on.  Yet a hi-ace van towing a big trailer equates to extra long, and when we have experienced so many recent deaths out on the Highway I admit I felt very vulnerable. I really didn't 'breath easy' till I passed the danger spots.

One of the highlights of camp was having daily workshops on Gregorian chant run by the Australian Sacred Music Association. Being exposed to Gregorian chant gave me a sense of a much 'bigger picture' within the Church, of Adoration, liturgy, history etc, listening to the chants I realised I'm part of something much bigger, we were worshiping Him. I'd love to have the opportunity to listen to a monastery of monks chanting.

Whilst at camp Bella had an opportunity to have her first bath (as we don't have a bathtub we have always showered her) she HATED it!! She screamed, stood rigid, wouldn't sit, screamed some more, became even stiffer.  By the third night we went back to showering, obviously she wasn't going to co-operate.

Anna Maria (our newly 21 year old) and Einstein (17) were our camp cooks for the week.  They undertook to cook for 30 people with confidence and handled the job with aplomb.  Creating a menu including catering for dietary requirements, shopping and budgeting prior to the camp, then preparing, cooking and serving at the camp as well as cleaning up after were all part of the many tasks they undertook.  I'm so very much in awe of them and very proud.

Whilst working in the camp kitchen Anna Maria made a list of features she'd like me to include in my new kitchen, ideas such as; stainless steel or marble benchtops, an island bench, very deep sinks and a spar nozzle. Einstein's contribution to the list is a scullery maid.  Hoping to implement Anna Maria's ideas, as for Einstein's wish, we already have a few resident scullery 'maids';)

My brother's wedding is next weekend, so lots of finishing touches this week to do. Still need suits for Michelangelo and PC, shoes for several, wraps/cardigans for the ladies and hair styles to play with. Michelangelo gets his braces on this Monday too.  So a little to do but not too stressful this upcoming week.

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