Thursday, 4 February 2016

October 2015

On Thursday 1st October, I went to the funeral of the mother of one of my school Mum friends, Lisa Schiavo. Scott had to use my car as his is still broken, so I got a lift with another friend, Jen Biddle. It was held at March crematorium, and we got a bit lost on the way (turned up at a farm first of all!) 
I didn't know Lisa's Mum, but was going more as moral support for Lisa. It was a beautiful day, and a lovely service. Her family are quite musical, and there were some gorgeous musical items from them.
We had all been asked to wear black and white, as that is what Lisa's Mum always wore. After the service we released some helium balloons, then went back to the golf club for lunch.
I had a meeting in Northampton in the evening.

On Friday 2nd, I went to the local gym to have my introduction session, as I joined the gym in preparation for my Physical Assessments for the Fire Service. The lady who showed me round put together a workout that mainly focuses on upper body strength with the weight machines, which I've never really used before.

The morning of Saturday 3rd was a bit hectic! Lucy and I were going to Northampton for the Women's session of General Conference, for which I was supposed to be helping get a breakfast ready, beforehand. With only one car though, I had to take Tom to his friend Eddie's house on the way to Cambridge first, as Eddie's parents were taking them to their maths classes. Lucy and I made it in time for the breakfast, but I didn't do much helping! I got to serve the food though, so it was nice to chat with everyone as they lined up.

We watched General Conference at home as a family the next day.

This is Harry (4th October) with his very swollen black eye (you can't see it too well in this picture, but his expression in this one made me laugh!) He'd got clonked by accident at school.

Lucy's chocolate meringue and chocolate custard creation she made for dessert on the 4th October.

On Wednesday 7th October, I went for my first Hepatitis B immunisation injection (as recommended by the Fire Service.) It cost £40 but I can claim it back.
In the evening, Harry wore me out just by looking at him - he'd set up a runway in the living room and was practising forward flips!

On Friday 9th October, I got my hair cut in the morning (first time since March!) and in the evening I went over to Milton Keynes and met Gill Barstow at a lovely big posh Indian Restaurant. I'd invited her out so that we could just have a good catch-up, and we had a really, really lovely evening.

The next day, Saturday 10th, was a ridiculously crazy day. Jack went gliding, I dropped Scott and Harry off at the train station, before driving to Eddie's house on the way to Cambridge to pick him up, then Lucy, Tom, Eddie and I drove into Cambridge (my first time ever driving there!!) I couldn't park in the first two places I'd thought I could (one was the private car park for the alumni of one of the colleges - as Eddie's Mum happens to be, and the other didn't have a long enough time on it), so I winged it and drove right into the centre, and found a multi-storey car park (only my second ever time parking in one!) This will be nothing for many people, but felt quite an achievement for me!
We then dropped Tom and Eddie off at Queen's College, and Lucy and I had a wander around the place. I love this courtyard (there were wedding photos being taken here when Scott and I came together in September.)

Lucy and I went to McDonalds for breakfast and wandered round the shops before going back to the college for Tom's award ceremony, as this was the last of the classes.
As we were crossing a courtyard Lucy stopped and said hello to a woman who was Lucy's English teacher last year! Not only did I not recognise her as Eddie's Mum (I hadn't realised she was also coming for the award ceremony), but I also hadn't realised that Eddie's Mum was Lucy's English teacher!! She recognised me thankfully, and seemed to assume I already knew all the connections, but I felt a bit of a div!
The award ceremony was short and sweet, and we felt very proud of the boys. The Professor handing out the certificates made the point that these kids were the brightest of the bright, and he hoped they would want to study Maths at Cambridge. Tom doesn't, but he really did enjoy the classes!

In the meantime, Scott and Harry had got the train to London, bought a 5 year old Vauxhall Corsa (with 30-odd thousand miles on the clock) which Scott had arranged to view, then driven it to Birmingham, where they viewed and bought a 9 year old BMW Z4 as well! (With 50-odd thousand miles on the clock.) They left the Corsa at the old BMW owner's house, and drove the BMW home. Scott and I then drove back to Birmingham in the BMW to pick up the Corsa! It was only a few streets away from the first ever house Scott and I owned, on Capern Grove, Harborne, so we drove there first and had a little reminisce! We then picked up the Corsa, which I drove home, while Scott came home in the BMW.
It was slightly traumatic! It was dark, and I had to get used to driving a completely new car, with different position gears, and I didn't have the stand for the satnav, so couldn't really see it! I also ended up driving down Broad Street at about 9pm on a Saturday night - absolutely heaving, and with a load of road works and diversions!! Anyway, we finally all got home safe and sound! And very nice to have more than one car again.

In the evening of Monday 12th October, I went along to the local Fire Station where I'd be based, and  had a chat with the Watch Commander. He hadn't known I was as far along with the recruitment process as I was, and when he realised I wanted to know about the Physical Assessments, he got Lisa, the female Fire Fighter already working there to come and chat to me. It was quite useful, but got me a bit worried about upper body strength, because she'd failed first time round on one of the weight lifting assessments, and had to try again three months later.

The next Saturday, 17th October, was another crazy Saturday!
I went with Lucy to Northampton, for a day of meetings and a fireside with Bonnie Oscarson, General (ie. for the entire world!) Young Women President! Following that we had organised a Multi-Stake Dance. Elder Dryden and his wife, and the new Mission President and his wife were also there.
When I arrived they were all in meetings with missionaries, so I waited in the foyer with President Hirst, who was getting anxious that the meetings were running over time, and was wondering whether he should interrupt them! We had a bit of a laugh anyway, then a lunch was served for a few of us. I know the Drydens a bit (John was on the Stake Presidency with Elder Dryden) so chatted with them, and met the new Mission President and his wife, who is lovely, then Sister Oscarson asked to sit down with me, and while we ate, she asked me questions about how Young Womens is in this Stake. I felt pretty relaxed, and we had a good chat.
We then had a meeting with the Stake Young Women Presidencies (which I had to conduct) and then a meeting with all the Young Women in the Stake (again which I had to conduct, and which I managed to make a mess of...again), then people from other Stakes came for a devotional. In the Young Women meeting, three of the Young Women got called on to share their testimonies, including Lucy, who did a lovely job! I didn't feel like anything new was said in the meetings, but I did feel a renewed sense of priority and clarity.
While I was in the toilets before the devotional, Sister Oscarson was in there too, and she asked if I had any concealer because she was getting a spot! I'd got a make-up bag with some foundation in another room, so I ran and got it, and she used it while we had a little moan about spots!
Several people spoke at the devotional (for which Scott had bought all the boys... Harry was not impressed at being there, which his facial expressions clearly showed, and which Sister Oscarson commiserated with when we saw her!) Afterwards, I went and thanked Brother Oscarson for his good talk, and Tom was with me. Brother Oscarson is Bishop in the Ward where some of the Apostles live, including Elder Holland, and Brother Oscarson asked Tom if he had a message for Elder Holland!! (Which Tom disappointingly didn't!)
The Oscarsons left, then we had a mad rush to get everything ready for the dance which was starting straight away! The dance ended at about 10.30pm with a fire alarm going off. There certainly didn't appear to be any fire, and President Clayton was reluctant to evacuate everyone, but we eventually did, then after ages everyone went back in from the car park to get their bags and went home, while some of us stayed and cleared up. (Some of the lads had been in a storage cupboard where they shouldn't have been, and set it off, I found out the next day.)
It was a long but good day!!

Photos from the day:
Elder Dryden, Sister Dryden, President Hirst, Sister Oscarson, me, Gill (my 1st Counsellor) and Emma (my 2nd Counsellor).

Lots of the Young Women Presidencies from the Stake

Lots of my Young Women! (I think Lucy was in the toilet and missed this!)

On Sunday 18th, I went along at 5pm to the Harvest Festival at Richard and Jo's farm. Richard gave a short talk, and we sang some Harvest songs to live music, then had a hog roast. I knew a few people there, including Harry's teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, though I didn't know anyone on my table. I got chatting to a couple at the end of the table though - a woman who had gone to school with Richard, and her partner from the Middle East. We got on really well - they have done loads of interesting stuff, and we were still talking long after most people had gone home! A nice evening!

On 21st October I went to Harry's Parent's Evening. Mrs Wilkinson said he is getting on fine - his maths is extremely good, though he is a bit stubborn about doing things his own way. His English is about average (reading age is a year above), but he doesn't really enjoy it, and rushes to get it over and done with. I thought that sounded about right!

On Thursday 22nd, I went to Northampton for a Stake Council meeting, and took Lucy with me so she could go to the Institute class. We decided to travel in the Z4 with the roof down - great fun!
Part of Stake Council was fire alarm training (which I had requested following the dance!) and we also discussed the possibility of a YSA branch in our Stake. We were asked to go away and email our thoughts on the subject to President Hirst. I had a strangely wakeful night thinking about it all, and emailed him the next morning. It was on my mind a lot.

Friday, 1 January 2016

The second half of September 2015

On Sunday 20th September, Lucy and I went to Kettering Ward for church. The young women there are absolutely lovely, and they knew I had my Fire Fighting written exams coming up. After church they get together each week to say a prayer for people, and they invited Lucy to join them. She told me afterwards that they had prayed for me in my exams, and I was so touched!

On Monday 21st September, I went along to one of the local fire stations for an information evening about On-Call Fire Fighting. There were about 10 of us there, and we had an informal presentation (I was already familiar with most of the information), then a tour round a fire engine (or 'pump' as they are called!) It was quite a good evening, but really I just wanted to make sure there was no information I had missed, from my own research. 
Harry had given me a female Fire Fighter from his Playmobil set!

On Tuesday 22nd September at 5pm, after practicing all summer, it was finally time to take my written exams!
We had to go to Fire HQ in Huntingdon to take them, and I arrived first, closely followed by another lad taking them. I was pretty nervous, and had only managed to gulp a bit of soup and bread down for tea, in the car park just before. I'd taken some headache tablets, because I'd felt pretty rubbish all day. (My period, with stunningly good timing was just starting, and I had a headache and felt very muzzy headed!)
We got shown through to a cafe area to wait while the other candidates arrived. I chatted with everyone - there were 10 of us, all applying as On-Call Fire Fighters to different stations. One guy was on his third attempt! I was the only girl, and the oldest.
We got taken into a room with individual tables set out. I sat at the back of the room next to the clock.
We did some preliminary stuff, then did our first exam, the 'Understanding Information' one. I'd not let myself get too worked up, and as soon as I turned the paper over, it was like windscreen wipers went over my mind, making it feel really clear and focused. I honestly felt like that was an answer to prayer. The time for the first exam was pretty tight, and I only had a minute or two to go back over the questions I was unsure about. All the exams were multi-choice, but we weren't told the pass mark, so it was very hard to judge how I'd done on it.
Then we had a short break, before the next exam 'Working with Numbers'. I wasn't sure what to expect with this test, because some of the practice papers I'd done were OK, and some were really hard, and I'd run out of time doing them. Thankfully, the test went well, and I didn't struggle with it much, plus I had about half an hour left to go back and check all my answers.
The last exam 'Situational Awareness' like the first exam was hard to prepare for. I had to say what my response would be in a wide variety if situations, but often more than one of the options would seem perfectly logical. Time was tight on this one, and I had very little chance to go back over it.
It was a relief to get them over with!!! I felt I'd done OK with the maths one, but really couldn't tell for the other two (especially when you have no idea of the pass mark! Some people online speculate that the pass mark is around 80%, but that it can vary.) I didn't chat much with the others, and then drove to church to pick up Harry. I saw Brother Guy in the car park, and let off some of my nervous energy telling him about it. He was just smiling and said I was 'unique'! Then I went and found Scott to tell him, then took Harry home.
I spent a restless night thinking about how I'd done, and desperately hoping I had passed everything, so that I wouldn't have to worry about resits.
The girl who talked us through the exams said she'd ring us all the next day with the results, so thank goodness we didn't have to wait long, because the wait was awful!
Lucy was at home on Wednesday 23rd, and was there when I answered the phone. Firstly the girl asked how I thought I'd done, and I said good in my maths but I'd had no way of knowing for the others, and she said I'd got 100% in my maths, 100% in my Understanding Information, and that I'd done really well in Situational Awareness too!! I was just totally and utterly happy!!! I knew I still had a long way to go, but for that day at least I didn't let myself think about the rest of it, just let myself completely enjoy my success - it felt good!
The next stage to get through was a treadmill Fitness Test, and Medical, on 30th September. I also had to arrange for an eye test at Tesco, in order to take that along with me, and I prepared by going on the treadmill at home.

On 25th September, my Sizzix book arrived in the post! I went through the book and I had 34 full pages of my cards! Later I spoke to my Australian crafting friend, Frances, and she had loads in the book too - between us we had done about 3/4 of the book!
These are not cards that I am super proud of - they are done to a particular style, using specific products, but none the less, it was still great fun being in print!

One of my cards. I did like how they had created co-ordinating backgrounds for each of the cards!

Also on Friday 25th September Scott's car became unusable. He'd left it at home because the gear stick was getting stiff, but said I could still use it. I drove to Donna's house, and ended up not being able to get it into reverse gear AT ALL without turning off the engine and turning it back on again! That made for rather a fun four point turn in Donna's road, in front of her, her neighbours and some work men! We had to make do with just my car for a few days after that.

On Saturday 26th September it was the Stake Youth Hike around Oundle.
I'd been worrying about how hard it would be for everyone to find parking, but it turned out fine, and we all met up with no problem at the beginning of the route.

Richard Malachowski had come up with some group challanges, so for the first part of the hike everyone split into groups and carried out their challenges, including having one team member not touch the floor!

Lucy's group.

Jack's group carrying out the 'Most Original Photo' challenge, which they won!

Getting everyone through the cows!

Lunch.

We were really lucky with the beautiful weather, and the hike went without incident. I don't think it was the most exciting hike, but people seemed to be enjoying it. We finished the hike at a park, where everyone hung out for ages (I was a bit fed up with Jack for going off with his friends at the end without knowing what was happening, and not coming back when I told him to. When I spoke with him later though, I understood his reasoning a bit better.) I walked back into Oundle with President Clayton as he had some things he wanted to discuss.

On Sunday 27th September, I had planned to go to Bedford Ward, but had to go Huntingdon, having only one car. Scott gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on Strengthening Families, which I thought was really good.

I took this photo on Monday 28th - definitely starting to look Autumnal!
Anna Conway was my new Visiting Teaching companion, and on Monday we visited Becki Cain, had a cancelled visit with Naomi Hooker because of ill kids, and visited Maureen Samochwal and Hazel Bridle out in March the next day.

One of Harry's Minecraft creations on the 28th. He builds beautiful things, and this was the first yacht he designed. He gave me a guided tour of it!

On Wednesday 30th, I went to St. Ives Fire Station for 11am. (Scott went to work on the colleg bus, with all his students!) I had a Medical exam with a doctor first, which included various prodding and poking, and he looked through my eye test results, which said my eyes are better than average - 25/20. I then did a hearing test in a little booth, which I did totally wrong at first - pressing the button every time I heard a single beep, rather than than holding it down for the entire duration I could hear the beeps! The nurse just said to press it when I heard it... I can be rather literal!! The nurse was a bit brusque with me, but I did it again and scored in the top hearing band. I then had a lung function test, which I did wrong (I was NOT impressed with the clarity of the nurse's instructions), but I got above average lung function. Then it was time for the bit I was most nervous about - my fitness test. I had to go on a treadmill for 12 minutes with the incline being increased every two minutes. I was a bit out of breathe at the end of it, but it was fine, so I had passed everything. I was told to start getting my Hepatitis B immunisations, and I also joined the local gym that day, to get better prepared for the next lots of Fire Fighting assessments in November.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Cambridge (Saturday 19th September 2015)

Before the summer, Tom had been invited (via his school) to go to five Saturday maths classes at Queens College, Cambridge. One other kid from his school was at this particular set of classes - his friend Eddie (who turned out to be Lucy's English teacher's son, we realised on the very last session!) We took it in turns with Eddie's parents to take the boys.
This was their second class, and Scott and I dropped off the boys, then had a morning in Cambridge by ourselves. (Lucy was looking after Harry, and Jack had gone gliding.)

I was emailed the photo below, by the organisers. Tom said he really enjoyed himself.

It was gorgeous weather, and Scott and I started off with a little wander round Queen's College itself. Here's Mathematical bridge, built originally in 1749. It was made with all straight timbers, built to an unusually sophisticated engineering design, which is where it got its name.

The place is just gorgeous.

We walked into the main part of Cambridge after that, and were asked if we wanted to go on a punting tour for half price (£10 each). It was still quite early, so they were trying to fill the first tours of the day. We paid, but there was still a bit of time to kill before the tour, so we went and had breakfast in McDonalds.

We met back up with one of the tour guides, who walked our group of 12 down to the river, and after waiting around for a bit, got us into our punt.
The tour was great! We went through all the beautiful bits of Cambridge, and our guide was an A Level kid who was very amusing, and told us loads of interesting stuff about Cambridge.
The place is just so lovely, and posh! Part of me would love to be a part of it all!


The Bridge of Sighs!

On our way back to the starting point, it began to get busier - I think we timed our tour well!

Scott and I then went for a walk along the river in the opposite direction for a bit, then came back to Queen's College for another look around. It was nice just being allowed in through the porter's lodge, because we had kids doing the classes!

There was a wedding going on too!

Picking up the boys afterwards and heading back to the car.

Tom with his head out the window going down the hill on the way home!
What a really great morning!

First Half of September 2015

On Wednesday 2nd September, Scott was at work, and I went to Tesco. While I was away, I'd ordered a couple of vegetarian and vegan cook books, to try and increase the amount of vegetables we eat. I don't think Scott had eaten particularly healthily while he was at home on his own either, so I bought rather a large amount of fruit and veg!!

Harry went back to school on 3rd September, and the older kids went back on Monday 7th. Lucy had to let the school know on 3rd September which subjects she would be carrying on with for her A Levels. She chose Politics, History and Biology, dropping English. It was also Lucy's 3rd Diabirthday - her 3rd anniversary of getting diabetes.

Wednesday 9th September - bought myself some gorgeous flowers.

Also on the 7th I gathered together all my new craft stuff... I had ordered quite a bit of stuff while I was in France, so it was like Christmas when I got back! I'd also got some dies and stamps from Karen Burniston.

Also on the 7th, I tried out something I'd seen on Pinterest - baked pears - they were pretty good!

On Tuesday 8th September, I met up with Jo Blackhurst at her Mum and Dad's farm, for the auction of all their farm equipment. They recently sold their farm to our Church Farms - saw Ben Conway there too. I had a chat with Jo's Mum who was a little emotional. It must be strange to see everything being sold.

After the indoor lots, we went out into the fields for all the large machinery. Jo wanted to bid on a drive-on lawn mower (I think her parents had offered to give it to her, but Richard said they'd bid.)
Me perusing the catalogue! (I clearly looked the part, because someone asked me if I was married to a farmer!)

Jo and I hovered by the lawnmover, making jokes about scaring everyone else from bidding on it! She ended up being the only person to bid on it! I left not long after that.

On Thursday 10th September, Jo and Donna came round for a while with Donna's puppy, Loki.
We had milkshakes in my lovely new little milk bottles, then sat in the sunshine in the garden, while Loki went nuts.

On Saturday 12th, we used my box maker to make some boxes for Harry to colour in and make into a Minecraft character. He was very proud of it!

In the evening, I took Lucy and Jack to Cambridge for a Multi-Stake youth dance. Keely Watling, Scott's cousin was there, and she got all the Cryer/Watling girls together for a photo.
I spent most of the dance chatting in the Chapel with Grant, Keely's husband. He had applied to be a Fire Fighter when he was younger, and got through to the final interview, but had ended up arriving at the interview late, so didn't get in! We had a really good chat anyway.

On Sunday 13th September, Tom was set apart as the Deacon's Quorum President, with responsibility for looking after the other 12-13 year old boys at church. I'm proud of how he has taken his responsibilities seriously.
Also after church on 13th, Lucy, Scott and I met with Patriarch Wade, and after having a talk with him about Patriarchal Blessings, Lucy received hers. It was a lovely blessing, which meant a very great deal, and will continue to throughout Lucy's whole life.
In the evening we had a youth Fireside in Northampton, and I was the final speaker. I think the talk went well. I wanted to speak to the youth about my experience with the Book of Mormon over the summer, and also other aspects of my testimony. One of the Malzone twins came up to me afterwards and said he had enjoyed my talk, but it made him cry!

Harry's school friend, Henry Wakefield, came for tea on the 16th September.