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Aylesford Family Day Out

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For the past several months, Eoin and I have been involved in the Family Development Foundation. It’s designed to give families practical help and advice in bringing up children using everyday scenarios. The programme splits about 20 couples into groups of 5 and then we meet up in our small groups to discuss a scenario each month. Then the following week all 20 couples meet up together to go through the scenarios with a mediator.

Eoin and I have found the whole programme so helpful, mainly because of the other families we’ve met through the process. We’ve been incredibly blessed I think to find such lovely families who want to bring up their children in a similar way to us.

The programme is coming to an end now but I have no doubt we’ll all keep in touch. One of the couples suggested having a big family pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory last weekend and it was such a fun and blessed time. We started with the Rosary Walk, then had Mass, and then finished with a picnic.  I’m hoping it will be an annual event at the least!

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A holiday special {phfr}

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Joining Like Mother Like Daughter for this week’s {pretty, happy, funny, real} post.

We’ve been back from our holiday for over a month and I still haven’t written about it! I thought a {pretty happy funny real} post would describe it very well…

Eoin, Benedict and I travelled to Germany with my sister and some friends for a few days in July. We had also wanted to visit Eoin’s sister and her two children in Spain, so after a beautiful stay in Germany the three of us flew to Spain. There’ll be quite a bit of jumping back and forth into different countries in this post, but bear with me!

{pretty} Germany

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This is the German holiday home we stayed in… Inside was just as beautiful and quirky, and the surrounding views were stunning. The shutters were perfect for napping babies during the day!

Below is one of the downstairs rooms:

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My sister, Hannah and B in the garden:

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Below is Lake Constance where we boated, paddled, sun-bathed, painted nails, ate, played beach volley ball, and entertained little ones:

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{pretty} Spain

Now skipping to the {pretty} Spain photos! The photo below was taken when we first arrived in Granollers, Spain and the first time Benedict met his two cousins, Anna and Quim. I think we were all so excited!

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Anna and Quim with mum Fiona and Uncle Eoin:

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And some pretty close ups of Quim:

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And Anna:

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{happy} Germany

Back to Germany for some {happy} photos! On one of the evenings in Germany, we went to our friend’s mother’s home for a BBQ with proper german sausages and barbecued cheeses.

Marcus’ mum had a hammock in the garden which the little (and big) ones very much enjoyed!

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Mary and Phil with their lovely little boy Sebastian:

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Below is back on Lake Constance with our friend Marcus’ boat:

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{happy} Spain

Ahead to Spain for some {happy} photos! Because it was Benedict’s first time meeting his cousins, it was really lovely seeing the three of them play together; I think he was fascinated by them, he just kept watching them!

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{funny} Germany

Back to Germany… This wasn’t funny when it first happened, but by the end of it we were in hysterics. I’m not even too sure how it happened, but we ended up in the middle of a German field, stuck in the mud in the rain… It wasn’t very funny! We were trying to find our holiday home which was really poorly sign posted, and our friend thought maybe one of the signs was pointing into a field with no road…

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After lots of spinning wheels in the mud, Marcus went off into the woods in search of some help. For about half an hour we wondered how on earth we were going to retrieve our car from the field, and then Marcus comes out of nowhere riding on the side of a digger… You really couldn’t have made it up, it was brilliant.

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Another funny German moment on the lake… While the boys were hard at work figuring out how to put the boat together, the girls were sunbathing and painting their toe nails!

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We also had a session of beach volleyball on one of the days in Germany… well, we tried to have a session of beach volley ball. It was exciting when we managed to get a rally of two hits over the net:

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{funny} Spain

To Spain… Anna, Quim and Benedict had tons of fun in Fiona’s hall way with human tunnels:

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I thought Benedict looked quite funny here just in his nappy playing the grand piano!

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{real} 

Something has to bring you back to reality at the end of a fab holiday… Eoin’s wallet got stolen in Spain, and our flight was delayed! So he used that time to cancel all his cards. He took it all very much in his stride though, and dealt with it really well.

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One mammoth {pretty happy funny real} post for a brilliant holiday with such lovely memories!

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{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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My first {pretty, happy, funny, real} post! Like Mother Like Daughter have a {phfr} post every Thursday for other bloggers to post pictures of their week – something pretty, something happy, something funny, and something real – capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. Love it!

{pretty}

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Last week Benedict and I visited my sister-in-law who was staying at Wickenden Manor. Its the best time of year to visit this place, the grounds and gardens are beautiful and all the flowers are in full bloom.

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Both so pretty. Benedict started to make his “going-to-sleep” noises on Auntie Catriona’s shoulders – he must have been pretty comfortable!

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You’ve got to love that beautiful smile! And he’s doing what he does best – crawling at top speed when no obstacles are in his way!

{happy}

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This photo makes me so happy, I love it! We were just at home messing around but it reminds me how lucky I am – such an awesome family!

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{funny}

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This photo makes me laugh every time I see it! Benedict loves spending time on our balcony and I just caught him when he was cheekily putting his mouth up against the window!

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{real}

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I have never dropped an iron, until my husband and I bought our first home… We now have two iron marks on our sitting room floor!!! The first time wasn’t completely my fault(!) Eoin spilt wax on the carpet, so dutifully I tried brown paper and iron (but the heat on the iron was at its highest!). The second time I actually did drop it, and I just stared at it in complete shock that now we have two iron marks on the floor… Not great but unfortunately very real!

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More than two?!

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When the conversation with my “non-religious” friends turns to how many children we’d like, they look at me as if I’m absolutely crazy when I say at least five would be incredible!  I know the norm nowadays is two, preferably one of each, and I think even that “norm” is increasingly decreasing to one child in a family. But I’m from a family of six which I guess is relatively big in today’s world; Eoin is from a family of ten! So I think we’ve always hoped to have our own big family.

Recently I’ve been reading Kimberley Hahn’s book “Life-giving love.”  It’s a good book to dive into when you have a quiet moment; a baby-napping moment!  It’s refreshing to read about children in a positive light; that it’s actually exciting to find out you’re having a baby! The main point throughout the book is openness; it doesn’t matter how big or small your family is, as long as you’re open to life.  The book also addresses the moral issues clouding marriage today like contraception, infertility and sterilisation, as well as talking in depth about the Church’s teaching on natural family planning.

If Eoin and I do have a big family, I know it will be challenging/chaotic/stressful/noisy etc, and my friends are probably right to think I’m crazy. But I know it will also bring about generosity/joy/laughter/fun/happiness.

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Happy Easter!

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It really doesn’t seem to matter where I celebrate the Easter Triduum, it always manages to blow me away. When the Gloria is sung at the Vigil and the bells start ringing, I can’t help but be so happy and thankful! So much waiting and anticipation, and it’s always so much better than what I remember from the year before.

For Good Friday, Eoin spent Maundy Thursday in the kitchen making some home-made hot cross buns – they were delicious!  And what better way to teach children about the Triduum than through baking. I know Benedict really isn’t old enough to understand yet, but we’ve been singing lots of nursery rhymes with him, including ‘one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns’, and thought it would be fun to make them this year. Here’s the recipe.

Anyone who knows Benedict will know his love for food; he could easily challenge his dad with eating as many easter eggs as you can in one go. So passing on the faith with food is probably the way forward!

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Home from home

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Eoin, Benedict and I went to St Patrick’s Church in Soho yesterday for Palm Sunday, and in true St Patrick’s fashion we processed around Soho Square holding our palms and singing hymns. And as with any religious procession around Soho there was no shortage of hostility, which I guess means all the more reason to process.

I absolutely love going back to St Patrick’s. I think it is the most alive and active parish I have ever known, and one that is really living Pope Francis’ call to evangelise. It evangelises like one massive steam roller; making its presence felt and really not afraid to go ahead!  After Mass and lunch yesterday, the SPES students and seminarians, along with Fr Alexander went out on to the streets giving out palms and talking to people about Christ and the coming of Easter.

Its because of this passion for evangelisation that I am so glad Benedict was baptised in St Patrick’s. I don’t think Benedict could begin his life within the Church in a better place.

 After Benedict’s baptism, with Fr Alexander:

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With his Godparents – my sister, Hannah and Eoin’s brother, Stefan:

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With Eoin’s parents, my Granny and Nanna, and my parents:

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