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A Magnificent Storm

Sunday 27th November the occasion of a magnificent storm, with the wind turbines on mainland Orkney reportedly recording gusts of up to 130mph!

These photos as well as the video at the bottom of the post were taken looking down the main street of Whitehall village, Stronsay, with the harbour on the right.

Note the seaweed in the road, as well as in the video below, which was taken just outside our chapel.

The Lamps thereof are Fire and Flame.

from the
Silver Jubilee of
Religious Profession

Sister Maria Auxiliadora
da Divina Providência, O.SS.R.
Redemptoristine Nuns
in the
Apostolic Administration
St. Jean Marie Vianney
Campos, Brazil.

Sister at the Choir enclosure.

She renews her religious vows before
The Apostolic Admistrator,
His Lordship Bishop Rifan.

She receives afresh the Religious Profession ring.

Put me as a seal upon thy heart..
for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell,
the lamps thereof are fire and flames ...

She receives the silver jubilee crown of roses.

The lamps thereof are fire and flame...

Many waters cannot quench charity,
neither can the floods drown it:
if a man should give all the substance of his house for love,
he shall despise it as nothing.
(Canticles 6:8)

Sister received the Papal Blessing.

Ad multos annos Sister!
Pray for us.

Erecting the Stations in our Old Mass Chapel, Stronsay

Yesterday during the storm
we erected the
Stations of the Cross
in Our Lady's Chapel

Br. Nicodemus Mary
measuring the cord out for hanging each Station.

They are beautiful old Stations.
The last three, closest to the altar,
are markedly darker than the others
reflecting sorrow and the darkness that covered the earth.

Br. Magdala Maria and Br Yousef Marie
erecting the Tenth Station to its place.

Domum tuam decet sanctitudo Domine in longitudine dierum.
Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, unto length of days.
Psalms 92:5

Domine dilexi decorem domus tuae et locum habitationis gloriae tuae.
I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house;
and the place where thy glory dwelleth.
Psalms 25:8

Papa Stronsay Calendar 2012

Our calendar for 2012 is now available from the Papa Stronsay Shop.
Please click here to order.

one little bird studio and giving thanks...

i do like Leanda, i like her a whole lot.
and as i thought perhaps we are getting to that time of year when you may be making wish lists, or thinking of another to gift to, it would be a perfectly perfect time to introduce you to Leanda.

one little bird studio has the most peachiest of prints and one little bird studio belongs to Leanda. 
i marvel at her wonderful work, how time after time she comes up with images i would happily hang on my shed's wall in a heart beat. yes i marvel at how gifted Leanda is with her designs.

recently she has produced some prints which made my granny retro heart skip a beat. especially this spiffy number. so much so, it is now hanging on our shed's wall. the most beautiful midnight blue background truly makes me happy alongside of the wonderful pops of bright colours.

whilst i was waiting for my 'home sweet home' print to wing its way to my door step (which may i add, it did so very safely in the sturdiest of cardboard mailers i have ever come across, my kitchen scissors were no match for its sturdiness, thats how sturdy it was!)... well as i was waiting, Leanda only went and popped her 2012 calendars into her shop.
gosh, see, take a look at this one in all its mustardy glory
now does that not make your granny retro heart skip a beat all over again. 

surely if ever there was a person who does not do calendars, and they happened upon Leanda's 2012 calendar print, i am without doubt they would be converted into being a calendar loving folk. how do i know such a thing? what proof do i have? well i don't really, but none the less, i'm a believer and i stick by what i say, and that is, the 2012 calendar from one little bird studio, is quite the most peachiest calendar i have laid eyes on.

i do think showing you the wonderful printed world of Leanda, is a lovely note to end on, for tomorrow it is Thanksgiving, my favourite American holiday, and so i will be taking a week off until December 1st when i will return for the joyful gleeful season!
hip hip hooray!

so for now, i will leave you with saying "thank you" for the kindness you have shown me and my constant canine companions this week, for all the offers of fingers, paws and fins crossing over the coming few weeks. and indeed for all your wonderfulness over the past year, from the incredible embracing of my book, to your continuing wish to visit me here on my shiny place and being most generous with your comments on my crafting, time and time again. 

you have truly filled my heart with such a brilliant feeling of warmth, 
and are such an important part of my world.
so once again, i can only say it the best way i know how.
"thank you kindly dearest readers, you are the bees knees to me"

she is wishing you a wonderful happy thanksgiving in the USA and is wishing everyone else an happy week too ~ Tif

God defined it. It can't be redefined by any power on earth.

There is a government proposal to "redefine" marriage.

All Catholics and all who love God
living in Scotland
have to oppose this.

If you have not done so yet
please click on the image
and fill in the form.

This is the only valid definition of Marriage:
The conjugal union of man and woman,
contracted between two qualified persons,
which obliges them to live together throughout life.

Marriage was instituted by God.

We read in Genesis that
God created them male and female,
and blessed them, saying:
"Increase and multiply";
and also:
"It is not good for man to be alone:
let us make him a help like unto himself.'

Adam said:
"This is now bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh:
she shall be called woman,
because she was taken out of man:
wherefore a man shall leave father and mother,
and shall cleave to his wife;
and they shall be two in one flesh."

These words, according to the authority of our Lord Himself,
as we read in St. Matthew,
prove the divine institution of Matrimony.

Not only did God institute marriage;
He also rendered it perpetual and indissoluble.'
What God hath joined together, says our Lord,
let not man separate.

(From the Catechism of the Council of Trent)

update on Used Dog...

it has been many years since i wrote a christmas wish list 
but this year i have one, 
it is quite simple and i am only asking for one thing:

1. a clean bill of health for my constant canine companion

i have high hopes it will not be too much to ask for.

last night, Used Dog came home. 
she made it through the operation which turned out to be a tricky dicky one, 
leaving her with several layers of stitches and 30 plus staples in her side. 
but still her little eyes shined brightly 
and her tail wagged when she knew she was home.
('cos that's what doggies do best, even on bad days)
we lay side by side in the lounge all night long. 
just me and my secondhand dog. 
now some may call me insane, but i think not. 
for my dog has been by my side through good and bad for over 11 years, 
so at a time in her life when perhaps she is not feeling the bees knees,
 i think it perfectly sane for me to lay next to her, 
so she need not be afraid.

the next few weeks her side will slowly mend, 
the staples will be removed 
and the long wait will be over. 
we will know if our Used Dog, 
despite the doctor's concerns, 
has a clean bill of health 
and a few more happy doggie years left on this earth

so i must take a moment to thank you all so kindly,
for all the fingers and paws crossing you have been doing
on behalf of our Used Dog
and may i be so bold and ask if perhaps
you may care to continue to do a bit more 'crossing'
until we know she has a clean bill of health.
i know it may be tres tricky to go about your daily lives
with crossed fingers and paws,
but even just a little 'quick crossing'
 every now and then would be spiffy.

and tonight, 
when Used Dog comes home to the shed again,
after another day at hospital
and we lay in the dark,
just her, me and my florence nightingale cap.
i will be sure to tell her of your kindness 
whilst i administer half hourly doses of ear stroking.

she will be back tomorrow with the peachy 'one little bird' to share ~ Tif

Limited Fert and sET Consult

I had a consult with the another clinic in our area that does frozen oocyte (egg) cycles last Friday. The point of the consult was to find out what a frozen egg cycle would look like and what it would mean in terms of a limited fert and sET cycles. The RE there was great and informative and (surprisingly) all but convinced me to stay at my current clinic.

Basically he said that frozen eggs are are relatively new procedure and he had no statistics and data to back up their success. He explained that eggs don't freeze as well as embryos (due to their higher water content) and that they don't provide as big of a "confidence level" for cycles as they are an unknown.

If we went with that clinic, we would ICSI three eggs for a frozen egg cycle with an sET. The remaining eggs would be frozen for later use. They'd watch my ICSI'd eggs for fertilization and then push the embryos out to day 5 to let nature pick the strongest one and that would be what we'd transfer. Obviously, with three eggs, we risk having nothing to transfer at day 5.

The RE explained that frozen egg FETs could be a lengthy process should that become our next steps (i.e. if we don't make it to transfer with our fresh embryos or the sET doesn't implant) and here's why. When they thaw eggs, their goal is to get one that survives the thaw. The clinic then ICSI's that egg, watches it in the fertilized drop and checks on it 24 hours later to see if it continued to develop. If that one egg doesn't fertilize they can try to thaw and ICSI more eggs the next day, watch the second round of ICSI'd eggs for 24 hours and see if they develop. If after two days of thaw and ICSI nothing fertilizes the cycle is over and you have to wait another month and start all over again. After sticking e2v needles in my arse intramuscularly for 4 weeks, I can say without hesitation that I would lose my mind if I prepped for a month to not even make it to transfer (and I would lose it even further if that happened multiple times).

This RE seemed to indicate that frozen egg cycles are much more volatile and they may mean a lot of cancelled cycles because you are playing with an unknown. Will the egg(s) survive the thaw, will they fertilize, will they continue to thrive beyond the first 24-48 hours? The timeline with a frozen egg cycle is also very sensitive since the eggs start on day 0 on a medicated FET cycle (essentially the day you would have an ER for a fresh cycle) and then you only have so many days to create a successful embryo and transfer it before it's game over.

The conversation kept coming back to the fact that with embryos you have a known entity, that is graded, it has statistics to back up the success and that the only what if (once an embryo is frozen) is whether that embryo will survive the thaw.

The RE gave me a test case scenario taking frozen eggs out of the equation and focusing instead on limited fertilization. He suggested fertilizing six eggs and discarding the rest of my eggs from the next fresh cycle. Explaining that, statistically speaking, someone my age with our Dx (Unexplained IF) should have 2-3 embryos strong embryos from 6 ICSI'd eggs. With an sET we'd transfer one (obviously) and freeze all that remain on day 5 in separate straws.

He said we should focus on how many embryos we can live with having and what we'd do with them if we were done making a family and we had snowbabies left. It seems as though a limited fertilization with more embryos created would up our chance of success and lower the number of cycles we'd have to do/length of time we'd be TTC for.

In the end he said if we're comfortable with our current clinic and they are willing to do a limited fert, sET and separately freeze of all our remaining embryos on day 5, then there's really no reason we should leave them given the success we've had there. Our current clinic is $2000 cheaper for a fresh cycle, so if we take out the notion of frozen eggs, then he's right, we probably are better off sitting tight.

My consult with my clinic for our next cycle is the first week in December. If all goes well, I'll start BCP mid-December and start stims on January 8 with a retrieval around Jan. 18.

Depending on what my RE says at my consult and consent review, we'll move forward with fertilizing 6. It's a number we're comfortable with, and given my clinic's success rates with FETs (13%) and the fact that they don't vitrify, 6 probably gives us the best chance of conceiving #3 without doing a fourth fresh cycle again in the future.

Now that I'm armed with a little more knowledge and a plan, I'm actually excited to cycle again. I have a lot of hope for our next IVF. January has always been a good month for us (I cycled for my first IVF and got KU in January 2009 and I gave birth to our amazing twins in January 2010) so hopefully we can continue the January streak.

a long day at mossy shed...

today Used Dog is in hospital for an operation.

we have told her to be brave

we have told her "we love you Used Dog"

and now all we can do is keep our fingers and paws crossed
(a little tricky for a little critter with limbs on the short side)

and wait patiently for Used Dog to come back home to mossy shed so we can feel whole again

~ Tif and Little Olive

Santa Spoiler

I guess it's a good thing that Santa is bringing someone a baby stroller and a Stella doll for Christmas this year...

Happy Anniversary - Feliz Aniversário

Sunday, 20th November, 2011, we wish our
Sister Maria Auxiliadora da Divina Providência, O.SS.R.
Sister Maria Help of Christians of Divine Providence,
a very happy and blessed
Silver Jubilee of Religious Profession.

Domingo, 20 de Novembro, 2011, desejamos a nossa
Irmã Maria Auxiliadora da Divina Providência, O.SS.R.
um feliz e abençoado
Jubileu de Prata da Profissão Religiosa.

Please join us in remembering our faithful
Redemptoristine Jubilarian
of the traditional Monastery of the Holy Face
and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary
in São
, Brazil,
in your prayers,
Holy Masses and Communions.

Vivat in Aeternum, in Aeternum Vivat!

round and round...

'tis no secret, i am partial to a stool or two in our mossy shed. i appear unable to say no to little waifs and strays of stools i come across in my daily travels. however there is one stool i hold dear, above all the other little stools within our nest. now of course i know it is terribly wrong to have favorites but i cannot help myself. for the stool in question has been there all my life...

(i am quite sure i have told this story before but as it is buried deep with in the rambling archives of this here blog, i'm just going to repeat myself rather than try to find it as i fear it could take all day to unearth it)

 as a small child i would sit on a stool at my mother's dressing table every sunday evening. where upon i would don what can only be described as a shower cap attached to a long flexible tube which in turn was attached to a box which was attached by a cord to a plug in the wall. 

my mother would switch it on, the cap would inflate and hot air would start to dry my tresses. after half an hour, my mother would remove my head from the hairdryer of sorts and say "voila", where upon i would sit there silently praying that this time my hair would come out poker straight and gloriously shiny. upon opening my eyes, every sunday the vision reflected in the mirror, told me once again, my prayer had not been answered and thus a week of going to school with kinked, fuzzy, cow licky hair proceeded until the following sunday when i started praying again...

despite the horrors of my childhood hair-do i still look back fondly on those moments, and i am quite sure that is mainly to do with the stool upon which my derriere sat. for it was a glorious tulip stool and its fine form, is to me, one of the best a stool can have.

nearly 14 years ago, my mother kindly entrusted the tulip stool to me. in the years that followed it has had many little coats of various grandness, some quite dubious, like fake fur, or lilac sateen, but still it never felt unloved. recently, (and when i say recently i mean the past 10 days), i got itching to be stitching it a new little jacket.

inspired by lovely folksy round cushions, i took one large doily and started going 'round and round' with strips of lace, fabric and one embroidered vintage doily for the middle.

i spent many many happy moments with embroidery floss in hand. i then went a little nutso on the french knots which are my fabby fav thing to do. they are so peachy, you do one and it looks just right, and so you do another and before you know it, there are many little knots doing a brilliant job of looking spiffy.

after which i took my large decorated folksy doily and appliqued it like a cap 'on top' my stool.
i am most happy with my lovely folksy stool

however i must confess, i was not happy with my man when he came in from running around a soccer pitch for 2 hours in the rain last night and promptly sat his derriere down upon my fine and roundy stool! it took all my willpower to remain quiet, i took deep breathes followed by recalling my 'labouring' breathing exercises, for fear of what was happening to my french knots under the soggy soccer gear. i thought i had it under control, i really did, i channeled my inner kindness with all my might, thinking of the long day at the office he had had, and how i needed him to fix a lamp for me and all those other good things he does for me daily but alas, no! my french knots and their fate was too much to bear. i could not get past 2 minutes before i burst and had to ask him to find another stool to plonk down on... any stool, any dumptie just get off my french knots hoppity quick 'pretty please'

she has 3 lads haircuts and one 'constant canine companion' bath lined up for her thrilling saturday morning ~ Tif 
footynote: a little message for Katie (Bob) i have tried to send you several emails today, alas they keep on bouncing back to me, not sure why. could you please email me again with your email address so i can respond to you. many thanks :)

10 Months Old

We're on the countdown to one. I can hardly believe it. 

{ 10 months old! }

Ten months has brought about tooth number 5 for Ryan and tooth number 3, 4, 5 AND 6 (all at the same time, lord have mercy!) for Reese.

{ Oh, hello Sophie! Who designed a teething ring to look like a gag ball? WTF? }

Ryan got his first hair cut. It broke my heart to do it, but he was starting to look like a chia pet. Now he looks like a little boy (who is this little boy that ate my baby?).

{ I think he knows he's cute... }

Miss Reese is full of personality. When she eats she sits with her legs crossed. She's also learned how to fake eat. She takes food to her mouth, puts it in, gives it a small chew (a taste test if you will) and then slyly spits the food she doesn't want into her hand, holds her hand out over the edge of her tray, waits for Gracie to move closer and then drops the food to the dog. Little shit. I got an email from baby center that says they don't know what they're doing with food throwing, it's all about cause and effect, yadda yadda. I guess my kid is smarter than the kids that baby center tested, because she knows.

She dances to music, says "mama", "mommy" and "hi daddy" which cracks me up. We call our daddy a few times a day and I'm always telling the babies to say "hi daddy" and one day Joe came home from work and she looked at him and said "hi daddy". We both almost died. 

She can give hi-fives and thinks it's the funniest thing ever when you hold up your hand and say "hi-five". She plays with Gracie nonstop, and follows that poor dog wherever she goes. Just last week Gracie was eating and Reese crawled up to her bowls, stood up, reached in the bowl and grabbed some kibble for herself. I grabbed it just as she was giving it a taste test. Lordy, lord. 

Reese loves to read. The book nook I made for them in the basement has been a huge hit. She crawls over to her book racks, pulls down a book and sits down with it. She'll whimper until you read to her. And I am more than happy to oblige. Our favorite right now are the Karen Katz lift the flap books. We're learning about body parts and where they are. Her favorite part of "ears, nose and toes" is the tongue. She thinks it's a riot when I stick my tongue out at her and when I reach in and touch her tongue. Giggle fits.

She giggles when you kiss her. But she doesn't like to be held for long. This girl is on. the. move. She can walk behind toys, cruise the furniture and even walk while only holding onto one of your hands. But she hasn't taken a solo step yet. Peanut is a fraidy cat. 

Both babies are mobile now, which necessitated a few well-placed baby gates. Baby jail is kind of funny. Reese has figured out that the bunched fabric is flexible and she will press her face into the fabric as far as she can so she can look down the hall and see what's going on. Ryan recently figured out how to pull up to his knees and (sometimes) pull up to standing. The problem is he doesn't know how to fall. So he just hangs there and when he gets tired, he cries. Baby Huey.

Ryan still moves around utilizing the worm. Although lately he's been getting on all fours and rocking. His daddy is holding out hope that he'll "really crawl" someday. I can tell he's already more focused on standing and walking. I think he's tired of being outrun by his sister. 

This sweet face is the face of a biter :( Stupid mommy nibbled on this munchkin every day of his cute little life. It makes him squeal with delight. And then one day he crawled up to me, pulled up to his knees, leaned in and gave me a hug and just like I have for all these months he "nibbled" on my shoulder. Except his puppy teeth and baby brain don't know how to not hurt you. And he bit me HARD. He has since bitten his sister on the shoulder too (breaking skin). I taught my kid to be a biter. Oy. That's not been fun. The worst part is he thinks he's being affectionate. 

And affectionate he is. My boy loves to hug and kiss. When his nanny comes he leans in for the kill 263 times. Love him. He'll kiss you all day long. That's fine by me. He hugs with his whole body and rubs your back when he hugs you. I can't stand him. The cuteness is too much. Lately, he's been grabbing his sister and pulling her in and giving her a big open mouthed kiss. It looks like he's trying to eat her face. This makes her laugh hysterically. In my lifetime, I've never witnessed something as sweet as this. 

Ryan is a wonderful sharer and loves playing with other people and his sister. He'll offer you his food while he eats. The only thing he doesn't like to share is his milk sippy. That kid thinks drinking from a straw is the coolest thing to ever happen to him. He gets giddy and waves his hands in the air and starts to shake. When he sips his eyes get wide and he gulps frantically like he may drown. He's a character. If I offer his sister the cup, cue. the. tears. 

Ryan is proving to be a boy's boy. He loves roughhousing, rolling around, being tickled till he can't breathe, bouncing, jumping, being scared (Joe will jump out from behind things and shout "boo" and he laughs hysterically). He loves trucks and banging on things and bouncing a ball. He's a hearty laugher and there is nothing better than making him lose it.

I think the last half of nine months and the beginning of ten months has been my all time favorite age. They are affectionate, interactive and they laugh all the time. I love it.

{ ten months }

{ ten months }

They play together (a lot). Joe and I often wonder how hard singleton parents have to work to entertain their kids. Ours have a built-in playmate. Sometimes they don't even want to play with us, they're so busy with each other. Life is amazing. I'm so thankful for these little mushies. They take up every second of my day and every space in my heart.

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