Wednesday, 25 November 2015

More of July 2015

Sunday 12th July. Scott had bought a new torch in preparation for going on Young Men's camp at the end of the month, and basically just annoyed everyone with it, including Lucy in the cabin...

I came downstairs to this... nutters!

Monday 13th July. I'd been making cards, and had some random sticky letters left, which spelled out this... not sure why I stuck them to the chopping board, I just felt like it!
Lucy had her 3 monthly hospital check-up at 4pm, which Harry and I took her to. She wasn't expecting a particularly good HbA1C result, but it was 7.2 which is pretty good. (The hospital rang me the next day with the result.)

On Tuesday 14th July, Young Womens was at Jo Waters' house, and all the Mums were invited too. Jo and her friend Sharon had gone to a great deal of trouble to make everywhere beautiful with bunting and gorgeous flowers in jars, and there was a wonderful spread of food. Originally everything had been set up outside, but it chucked it down and so everything was moved in doors. It was a lovely relaxed evening and I felt very spoilt.

On Wednesday 15th July, I went Visiting Teaching to Becki Cain in the morning, and after school Harry worked on the vehicle he had started making at Activity Night at church the night before.

I recently got a $35 voucher for doing a couple of card tutorial blog posts for Elizabeth Craft Designs, plus I get 50% discount at their online store for being on Karen Burniston's Design Team. One of the things I picked out were some Panpastels. They're really creamy solid pastels which blend beautifully on paper and aren't too dusty. Harry copied some gems from the Rocks and Gems book with them.

On Thursday 16th, I went to a lovely lunch at Rachel Lamin's new house with a few other school Mums. She's got a beautiful massive garden, and after looking around we had a delicious lunch on the patio.
In the evening I went with Becki Cain to Northampton Chapel for a Stake Council meeting.
During the meeting I was asked my opinion on something, and I gave it freely without thinking much first. With hindsight I would have expressed my views in a more gentle and considered way than I did, because I worried afterwards that I had upset the person who has some responsibility for the area I gave my opinion on. Also later in the meeting President Hirst gave some counsel/gentle chastisement - in my mind to me - and I felt awful, and could hardly keep the tears back for the rest of the meeting. (Much later, at camp, I had the opportunity to speak to President Hirst about it, and say that I had taken his counsel to heart and had tried to put things right. He didn't know what I was talking about and when I explained he was exasperated - saying that his comments hadn't been meant for me at all, but someone else in the meeting, and that he always finds my contributions in meetings valuable!! Oh well! I still learnt lessons from it all!)
After the meeting though, Steve Wright and Martin Guy could see that I was a bit upset and spoke to me kindly, which did make me cry! On the way home, Becki tried to cheer me up too and said I hadn't said anything too bad anyway. I asked Scott to give me a blessing when I got home, and I felt better afterwards, with a determination to just 'own it', and to try and be more humble, more mature and more loving, but also to have patience with the process of improving.

On Friday 17th, I went with Jo Blackhurst to Becky Wakefield's birthday pub lunch, with a lot of ladies I didn't know.
It was nice - sitting in the hot sun, eating nice food (lasagne), and chatting with new people about totally new stuff (walking holiday adventures they'd had!) It really took my mind off things.
On the way out through the pub afterwards, I heard Becky saying that she'd wanted to apply to be an On-Call Fire Fighter. My ears pricked up because for a while I'd been seeing the couple of On-Call Fire Fighter recruitment banners put up in town, and thinking 'I'd quite like to do that!' I'd not given it more thought than that though, but when Becky said she had, I asked her about it. She's friends with someone who works at the Fire Station, and he'd encouraged her to apply, saying that she wasn't too old or anything. She'd sent off for the application pack, and bought a load of books to help with the application process, but was struggling with the practice written tests in the books, and didn't think she'd be able to pass them. She said she'd give me all the stuff so I could take a look at it. I felt quite excited, though only superficially really - expecting that there'd be some glaringly obvious reason why it couldn't work out.

On Saturday 18th July, Scott took Harry to Joseph Wade's football birthday party in Alconbury, and I spent most the day making card kits for the girls to make on camp, as one of the activities.
I made about 80 kits... what a mess!
I felt really lucky that the preparation for camp this year hasn't felt too stressful. My counsellor Emma Corre took on the role of camp director, and has done much of the organising, while I took on a few specific assignments and have just chatted with her frequently to OK things and give advice.

In the evening Scott and I went to Brixworth near Northampton for Emma Corre's 40th birthday party. I knew lots of people at the party from church, and chatted with quite a few. I was still feeling pretty bad from the meeting on Thursday night though, so when a couple of my closer friends asked how I was I told them I'd shot my mouth off at a meeting and felt awful. The Goodwins cheered me up no end, and said they do stuff like that all the time, and that I am not a horrible person! Also I went and apologised to one of the other guys who was at the meeting, but he said he agreed with me anyway.
Also at the party we got chatting to Emma's brother, who it turns out works at Preston Temple and knows Mum and Dad pretty well. He was quite excited and took our photo so he could show them who he'd seen at the weekend! He's a lovely chap and we had a jolly conversation!
It was a nice party anyway.

The next day at church, before Sacrament Meeting started I went and apologised to the person I thought I might have hurt. He was very kind, and said no apology was necessary, but I said it was, and we left it on good terms.

On Monday 20th, it was Harry's Sports Day. Originally he didn't want to do it (partly because I think he gets stressed because he wants to win so much), but I said he had to and in the days leading up to it, I chatted with him a couple of times to try and take the pressure off. He was happy enough by the time the day came, and Lucy and I went along to watch him. He came 1st in the sack race, and 4th in the running race, and had a good time cheering on his fellow 'Mars' teammates (all with red T-shirts on.)
Lucy and I sat on a park bench to watch, next to a lady and her husband. I didn't recognise them at first, but then realised they were the couple we had sold a Ford Ka to a few years back. We had a nice chat, and I was happy to hear the car is still working well for them! She also said she'd bought a book a while back from the hospital charity shop, which had been mine!
Later on for Family Home Evening, we decided to all walk into town to buy chips. We stopped at the park on the way, to go on the keep fit machines and play football (I just watched the football!)

Waiting for our chips!

We took the food back to the park, and the boys played for a bit longer. A very happy evening!

I went Visiting Teaching out to March on Tuesday, and in the car on the way, I pondered and prayed to know whether I should start the application process for the Fire Service. I had a very strong confirmation that I should, which was rather a surprise to me.

Wednesday was Harry's last day of school and I spent the week gradually getting everything ready for camp.

On Thursday 23rd July, I got the Information/Application pack I'd rung up to request from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, and which I read through with great interest. Becky Wakefield had also given me all the books she'd bought on the recruitment process. It's quite a long process:
-Application Form
-Suitability Interview/Form
-x3 Written tests (Working with Numbers, Understanding Information & Situational Awareness and Problem Solving)
-Fitness Test (The Chester Treadmill Test) and Medical
-Physical Assessments (Ladder Climb, Casualty Evacuation - dragging a dummy, Ladder Lift/Lower Simulation, Enclosed Spaces, Equipment Assembly and Equipment Carry)
I rang up Recruitment and asked them if I could pop along to the local Fire Station on a training night, just for an initial look around and to ask some questions. They said that was fine, and I arranged to go on the Monday following camp.

Also on Thursday, I let Tom sleep out on the trampoline - he'd been asking to for a while.
Lucy helping to test his bedding!

The tomatoes we grew from seed were doing well! Nearly as tall as Harry!

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Stake Athletics (11th July 2015)

On Saturday 11th July it was our Stake Athletics!

The whole family went, including Lucy and Jack in their new trainers, and one hiding Harry! I actually felt quite nervous about competing!

Not many people were there for 10am - Josh Cain and Tom ran their first race (200m) on their own! More people turned up after a while, with most wards competing, but Huntingdon had the most, and we had a good time cheering every one on!

We used the poster we'd made!

Harry had said he wouldn't run, but ended up taking part.

Jack and his friends running.

I was determined to only run the 100m and 200m, because I hate longer distances, but I ended up taking part in the 800m and 1500m, purely because lots of the other 40+ women from Huntingdon were too, and were willing to mostly walk! Karen even did one of the races in her sandals, as she'd just arrived! We had quite a nice time walking round chatting away!
I came 1st in the 100m (which I was pleased about - I was really keen to give that one my best shot!) but I missed the 200m because I was talking to Suzanne Holmes, whose husband recently died. I came 4th in the 800m, and 5th in the 1500m, plus came 2nd in the Long Jump.

Scott, Lucy, Jack and Tom also took part in a variety of events. I think Scott even did the High Jump!
Here are Jack and Stephen Amos carrying Sam Waters for part of the 3000m!

Tom also took part in the 3000m.

Lucy with Bethany Doughty and Alice Freeman.

Huntingdon Ward won! We'd had a good time, and felt in a very cheerful (and worn out) mood on the way home! We stopped off at McDonalds for tea.

At home I had time to get ready, then head out again to pick Donna up on the way to Kat's 40th Birthday party.
It was a lovely evening, with some of the other school Mums. Kat had put out big tables in the garden, with loads of candles everywhere, and there was a gazebo with lots of delicious food laid out for us.
Kat has an incredibly long garden with a gate at the bottom leading out into the fields, so some of us went for a little explore down there!

Becky Wakefield and I had a good chat during the evening.

The First Part of July 2015

On Wednesday 1st July, Harry went on a school trip for three days (two nights) to Burwell. Scott took the day off work, so we both took him to school, and waved him off on the coach.

From left to right: Thomas, Harry, Jacob, Reuben, Henry, Joseph and Dion.

It was the hottest July day on record (or something like that - very hot anyway), so Scott spent a lovely day in the garden while I got on with gloss painting the kitchen doorway, living room radiator and some skirting boards and all the downstairs toilet woodwork.
In the evening, we had a Chinese take-out which Scott, Lucy and I ate outside... lovely!! The pretty flowers were from Jessica Brewer, my American Visiting Teaching companion.

On Thursday 3rd July, Scott and I went down to London Temple. We weren't in a mad rush, so decided to take a walk round the grounds and have a meal in the canteen before doing some Temple work. I really enjoyed it this way round - it felt like one of the nicest times I've ever been to the temple.
In the evening I went to Bedford for a youth committee meeting.

On Friday 3rd July, some of Lucy's friends came over to decorate plain T-shirts they'd bought, ready for a party the next night.
They cut stencils of their names from cardboard then spray painted them with fabric paint. They didn't turn out too badly!
From left to right: Giorgia Corona (studying at their school for a year from Italy), Katie O'Grady, Lucy and Ellie Hurrell. I like how their hair is in colour order too!! They are really nice girls.

Some smoothie I enjoyed on the patio, made from freshly picked strawberries and raspberries, Saturday 4th July.

Also on Saturday, Lucy's friends came back over to get ready for the party in the evening - they wanted to plait Giorgia's hair, leave it for a while then take the plaits out so it would be wildly frizzy!

I also got the girls to help me paint a big banner I'd decided to make for a Stake Athletics competition the following Saturday, to support our ward. They didn't take much persuading, and finished the the whole thing off!

Scott got back late on Thursday 9th July - he attended a big graduation ceremony for his college in Peterborough Cathedral. He was impressed by how professional everything was, including the food, cooked by catering students.
I'd picked yet more fruit from the garden, made more smoothie, plus bought cakes from the shop, and saved some for when he got back.

Friday 10th July - new books!! I read the Liane Moriarty book in about a day, and quickly bought and read two more by her... lovely sitting in the sunshine, doing some easy reading!

Harry on the 10th, with our first ever crop of gooseberries! We ended up making gooseberry fool with them.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

June 2015

June was a good month for progress on the house.
I hit the ground running after our holiday... 

Monday 1st June: Ordered all the decorations for the church Multi-Stake Seminary Graduation dance that's coming up, did 4 loads of washing, 4 loads of dishwashing, caught up on emails and ordered new beds for Tom and Jack.

Tuesday 2nd June: I did one coat of paint in Jack's room (covering the jungle green with white! This was Tom and Harry's old room), and some guys came and built a new shed for us behind the cabin. All the stuff from the old shed had been at the bottom of the garden, covered over with the old shed roof, so I spent quite a long time cleaning mud and slugs/snails off everything, and getting it all organised into the new shed.

The new shed's smaller than the old one, but everything fit in quite nicely. We haven't got any bikes in England now. I loved having everything super-organised and clean in there, and getting the golf clubs and other stuff moved out of the living room!

Wednesday 3rd June: The boiler guy came back to drain the whole central heating system and power flush every radiator. Donna came over for moral support!
I also painted two more coats of Jack's walls, ironed for a couple of hours, then built Jack's new bed.

Thursday 4th June: Got Tom's bed built, and got his room (Lucy's old room) looking all ship-shape. Tom had previously scrubbed all his skirting boards, shelves etc. It's a tiny room, but he has plenty of storage space. He's been keeping his room really tidy since getting his own room.

We also got Harry's room (Jack's old room) thoroughly cleaned and re-organised. It's so nice when you know everywhere is really clean - even behind the wardrobes!

Friday 5th June: Jack's room looking very white and clean! It's his first time having a double bed and a desk, and he loves it! He needs a proper chair still, as he's using one of the new patio chairs at the moment! I hadn't finished painting the wall with the window in at this point yet though.

Saturday 6th June: The older kids and Scott went up to church in the evening for a fundraising activity for camp. They had an Italian evening, where Tom and the other Deacons were waiters. (Tom with Alistair Kent and Caleb Erickson.)

We had a skip for a week, and this photo is from 10th June, when we had cleared the patio (which had been completely covered with rubbish) and I'd got it swept and weeded, and put the patio set out for the first time. So lovely to have the patio back! There was still some wood on the lawn, which we kept for fire wood.

On Thusday 11th, Jack took part in an Athletics meet for about seven schools, in which he came 2nd in the Hurdles, and 2nd in Discuss. Jack also belongs to the school Golf Team!

On Friday 12th June I finished making these posters for the Seminary Graduation Dance, and in the evening drove over to Northampton with Lucy to meet up with Emma Corre, her kids and a few others who came to help, where we decorated the hall for the dance. I'd assigned all the refreshments out, so didn't need to worry too much about those.
We put the big banner up in the hall, and used the smaller poster as part of a photo backdrop in the foyer.

I couldn't be at the dance itself on Saturday 13th June, but it sounded like it went well. Here's Lucy and Bethany Doughty using the photo backdrop and props.

In the afternoon on the 13th, I met up with Liz Knight and Patr Kitchen at the train station, and we traveled to London. Last year, Liz had been looking for someone to go and see 'The Piano Guys' in concert with, and I'd agreed to go. I'd not heard of them at the time, and ended up not listening to a single one of their pieces before the concert. I could have looked them up on Youtube or something, but never really got round to it, and thought I might as well just listen to them live for the first time!

We met up with Liz's sister and twin nieces beforehand, and had something to eat in Pret a Manger, then made our way to the Hammersmith Apollo. I'd not been there before, and it was quite nice, and absolutely packed!
Liz and Patr queued up in the foyer to buy some merchandise while I went for a wander upstairs to explore the building.
When we got to our seats, which were fairly central and not that far from the front, I was amused to see we were sitting behind a row of Senior Missionaries! We got chatting to them of course, and had a lovely time! I also saw President Jordon, the Mission President, sitting a few rows away, so went and sat with him and chatted for a bit.
As for the concert itself, I was in complete bliss from absolute start to finish. The guys themselves (who incidentally are Mormons) were really funny and entertaining, the big screen showed videos throughout the music which were visually gorgeous - set at various locations throughout the world, and the music itself was heavenly - fantastic mash ups of some of my favourite modern music, with beautiful classical music. The depth and layers to the music just seemed to fill all my senses completely, and I felt transported!
I've listened to some of their recorded pieces since the concert, but they just don't compare to the live music, so I don't bother! I've said that regardless of cost, next time they come to the UK, I will be making Scott and all the kids come with me to experience it. I think it will help the kids understand the joy of this kind of music, without having to endure some of the more boring/long sections of traditional classical music. I didn't have one moment of my mind wandering off during the show - ALL the music was riveting.
During the interval (Liz's sister bought us all icecream), the Jordans came over (Sister Jordan had arrived by then) and all the missionaries and us had a fun chat. I've got to know the Jordans a little bit from various Stake Conferences etc. and they're great.

After the concert, we got the tube back to King's Cross, then the train home. We basically talked about how wonderful it was all the way home! Liz and Patr have been complete fan-girls for a long time, and I wouldn't say I'm one now (not bothered about having the T-shirt/mug/programme etc), but I will definitely seek out that kind of live music again. What a lovely surprise that just going along to accompany Liz turned into something I loved so much!

In the June the garden sprouted nicely! The scented roses on the trellis down the garden bloomed beautifully, and our raised fruit bed did very well.

I snapped this picture of Harry on 19th June... it made me so happy to see him! It was before school, and he'd got a little pot, and was picking himself strawberries for his packed lunch, and singing to himself! Nothing beats seeing your kids being happy and doing wholesome stuff!

After school, Harry and I got permission from Mr. Allen, the headmaster, to pick Elderflowers from the school trees. We collected a load, then went home and prepared some Eldeflower Cordial ingredients.

In the evening on the 19th, Scott and I got ready to go to Ben and Anna's house for a Murder Mystery evening. We had all been given cards telling us which character to dress as. Scott was some explorer chap - Major Payne, and I was an English country lady - Gladys Knott-Me. I'd bought Scott a hat from Amazon!

We got there fairly early, so I had chance to spend a bit of time with Ben and Anna's kids, who I love! They are so sweet!

Scott and Ben (a German)!!

Everyone arrived and I'd bought my camera and tripod, so we could get a picture of us beforehand - it was so funny! Josh and Linnea Erickson, and Mallory and Kurt Grover came too.

The murder mystery was set at an archaeological dig in Egypt, so Anna had set up the kitchen as a tent! We had an Egyptian meal - I'd bought a starter of pitta bread strips, hummus, olives, sundried tomatoes, cream cheese with chili sauce, tomatoes etc, Anna had cooked a gorgeous sweet curry, and Mallory had made some amazing Baklava for dessert which we had with honey icecream. Yu-um!!!
We then listened to a tape, complete with background sound effects, which guided us through the mystery. It was a bit daft, with various people having to leave to be killed off, or coming back as new characters etc, then a big discussion at the end about who we thought had done it! What a laugh! A good evening!

The next day, Saturday 20th, Scott was at something with the older three kids, and so Harry and I decided to walk into town and get ourselves some chips! We had a nice time on our little date!

On 21st June, our Elderflower Cordial had 'stewed' for long enough, so we strained it and bottled it, including setting aside two jars for Mr Allen, and Harry's teacher, Mr. Dickinson, who had been there when we'd asked permission to pick the Elderflowers!

Another crop of strawberries from the garden, 25th June.

In the last week of June I worked like a Trojan with the decorating again. I sanded the marks on the dining room ceiling where the old wall had been, painted the whole dining room ceiling, and repainted some of the dining room walls and kitchen ceiling.
This picture is pretty boring, but I love that you can't see the marks from the old wall! It's only taken me 10 years to do!!

I also painted FOUR coats of paint on the back of the doors into the living room, finally covering the dark brown varnish. This is them partway through. I spent a few 5 hour stints doing this, while watching/listening to Amazon Prime programmes on my Kindle Fire (which now has white paint slodges on it!)
I had to wait a few days for the gloss to dry thoroughly, before using a Stanley knife and glass scraper to get the edges around the glass looking beautiful and neat. I've got a scar on the inside of my left wrist now, where I had an accident with the razor blade in the glass scraper - a deep little cut, fortunately in between two veins!

I also removed the sealant from round the bath and sink, and re-sealed them (a PIG of a job), glossed the radiator and some skirting board in the dining room, and sanded and painted two lots of undercoat to the doorway into the kitchen, and all the downstairs toilet woodwork.

There's still a fair bit to do in the house, but I keep stopping and admiring the bits I've done!
I had thought they'd stopped making proper oil-based gloss, and had been dreading painting everywhere - thinking I'd have to use the less hard wearing eggshell paint, or the horrible streaky water-based gloss, but I got some gloss from Wilkinsons, and it turned out to be good 'spreadable' old fashioned stuff, which was really great to paint with. I think my relief at the decent paint is what lead me to do so much!

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June it was our Stake Conference. I went to Northampton in the evening on Saturday and we had a really good meeting. I said goodbye to the Jordans who were finishing being Mission President and wife the following week. President Jordan made me laugh, by saying I have the prettiest eyes, and did lots of people tell me that?! (Umm... no!)
After conference on Sunday we went for a walk round the outskirts of town. (Not sure where Jack was!)

The golf course.