Sunday, 23 May 2010

This Weekend

I'm not sure why I thought scraping the moss off the roof was the most vital thing to be done yesterday (especially considering the state of the inside) but that is what Lucy and I did while the boys were still at camp. And we washed and cleaned out (and vacuumed inside (I'm really a wanna-be neat-freak)) the gutters, and washed down the porch roof etc. While we did this Harry washed the car with a window squeegee and various scrubbing brushes. We could hear him muttering away to himself 'I'm fed up of this sun... it keeps drying up the water...' He was so funny. Anyway the car was a total state by the time he'd finished and later Scott took it to the car wash. At bedtime I pointed out the window how shiny the car was, and Harry said absolutely beaming and proud of himself, 'I worked SO hard on that!'
Harry taking a short break from cleaning
In the afternoon, of course the next most important job to be done (ha ha,) was to paint the newishly built playhouse. We thought it would be a good idea to paint one of the walls inside with blackboard paint, and luckily we had about an inch of the tar-like substance left in the garage (I think it's about 7 years old), so anyway, I got on with painting that, while Lucy, who was supposed to be painting the ceiling, got on with dropping great blobs of paint on the top of my head. What a total mess. The playhouse is looking pretty good, but Lucy and I spent a long time getting paint off us last night.Harry has been happy with a hammer and some nails over the last couple of days. I bought the boys an Ikea tool kit a while back.
This picture sums up how I think summer should be! Grubby little boys in a slightly scruffy garden, enjoying themselves.
Today we had church in the morning - Lucy's talk was good, and then some friends invited us over later for food, which I cannot tell you how happy I was about!
Now I am realising that I only have 2 days left before we go away. It's a case now of washing, drying, ironing, packing, cleaning or tidying up virtually everything we own. (Except the gutters.) Not that I can complain though - I am dreaming of all my favourite places in our bit of France, and of seeing them all again very soon!

Friday, 21 May 2010

This Evening

It's very quiet here just now. Scott took Jack and Tom on 'Father & Sons' camp (I did ask if he was taking Harry too and just got looked at by way of answer - maybe next year then!), Harry is asleep in Tom's top bunk and Lucy is out swimming with a friend.
I feel very noble. I stripped the chairs with loose covers today and washed them - making use of this beautiful weather to get them dry. I also managed a ruthless clearout of lots of my books (3 bin bags full). Our books now fit on the bookshelf again. Also fixed the decorative trim onto the playhouse roof, and did paperwork.
It was a year ago that Lucy and I stayed up till 4 in the morning watching every episode of Bleak House - last Father & Sons camp! I'm not planning on going to bed that late tonight (still feeling ill) but I have selected: 'Northanger Abbey', 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' or 'While You Were Sleeping', for Lucy to choose from when she gets in. (My bet is Northanger Abbey - we had a whale of a time last year watching loads of classics!)
'Seven Brides' reminds me very much of Aunt Dot. She's not my real Aunt, but a lady from church where I grew up - one of the loveliest ladies in the world. (And not just because she would bring HUGE lumps of Thornton's toffee to church for me, from her sister who worked at their factory, or had me as her bridesmaid...)
Anyway, she was my teacher at church one year and she invited me and my best friend Juli (we were about 12?) to her house where we watched it for the first time. I remember loving it but haven't seen it since. I bought it at the charity shop a little while ago with the idea Lucy might like it too. Aunt Dot is fighting cancer now. Battling on cheerfully and quietly as always.
Lucy is back now - I guessed wrong. 'Seven Brides' it is!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Just bits

After having a horrible cold all week - more sleepless nights, best part of 2 days in bed, unable to shout at kids (!) etc, I felt a bit better today, and finished planting out the other vegetable bed, got some ironing done, and attempted some food shopping with Harry. We got the essentials - 4 rolls of double-sided sticky tape, a ream of paper, a clipboard for Harry, a washing-up bowl for the boys to play with, a box of 'Fab' icecreams, and fruit - before Harry had totally had enough (I don't think he is feeling great either) and starting shouting DON'T BUY ANY MORE THINGS!!! and crying. I felt the same way so we went home, with no bread, milk, stuff for dinners or cereals. Lovely Scott is just getting back from doing a proper shop as we speak. Oh - I did buy him a nice new tie though - and even wrapped it up and everything! (In pink ballerina paper.)
I thought I should take pictures of Lucy, Jack and Tom today too, as I seem to mostly take pictures of Harry.
I found Tom doing his homework on the porch floor of all places!
He has finally finished doing his 3x tables at school this week! Hurray! Every time he got tested, he'd forget one. I was fed up of Threes! He's been enjoying doing a Times Tables workbook that Nanny gave him though, and asked me to get him some more. Good old Amazon, with free postage! Two new books heading his way. Jack was watering the vegetable bed that we planted up a couple of weeks ago - look at those cute little rows of onions and cauliflowers!
Jack is happy - he pulled out a tooth today, and was well impressed by the long roots on it! He also had his friend Xander from church, round for tea yesterday.
He is also really looking forwards to a Maths Challenge day on Monday - all the local schools put together a team, and they compete, and Jack is on his school's team.
And Lucy was preparing for her first ever Sacrament Meeting talk, which she is giving this Sunday. I am proud of her - speaking in front of approx. 200 people is not the easiest thing to do.
She went to Kensington Palace with school today. (I'm still not quite sure why - it was only a minibus full of them and they didn't have to pay - something to do with some arts award she is working on.) She loved it anyway - said the rooms were amazing.
I don't think I mentioned Lucy's Parent's Evening that was last week or the week before.
All her teachers spoke very highly of her as a person, and said she's doing about as well as it's possible to do. Even in science, one of her least favourites, she got the highest mark in her class's last test. Her English teacher said she had been 'looking forwards to this one all evening' - i.e. getting to give Lucy's report. So we are quite proud of her school-wise too!
Lucy's also been great at home - she is always asking if I need any help, or just gets on with helping Harry etc. She is good to talk to, and pretty sensible. I'm glad she is our oldest child - she's doing a good job of setting a good example to the boys.A picture of cake never goes amiss... some we made at the weekend. (The kids have also been doing lots of Hama bead creations lately - on the window sill - they sit there for weeks till I get nagged enough to iron them.)
And now it's later and the kids are in bed, Scott is enjoying sitting in the garden, looking at our holiday photos from America on the laptop. That seems so long ago already! Good job we are going on holiday again next week!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mum and Dad

Dad just scanned this old slide - him and Mum when they were 17 and 18 - aren't they cute!!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Last week was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting. A strange mixture of good, and bad - some very worrying, and out of my control. My mind has been on overdrive, especially at night. We also have had sick kids to nurse, Scott has been ill and is on antibiotics (though he's carried on as usual), and I've got a streaming cold.
We are pretty cheerful though, and have been enjoying each other's company. I feel like our home is a haven and I am grateful that we have the knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some pictures of Harry and Scott, which I took yesterday, while we were hanging out. (You wouldn't guess Harry had spent all night being sick!)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

My excellent Barbie birthday cake from Anna!The stupid playhouse (minus a roof & ladder) which did my back in. (Don't tell the kids I used the word stupid.)

A busy but good weekend. Friday was nice - Rebekah back from America came over in the morning and we had a nice catch up over cake, and in the afternoon, we had our first Relief Society presidency meeting at my house.
After school I took 2 extra boys home, but then Tom stayed round one of their houses, Lucy had a friend over for a sleepover, and Jack was at drama.
Later on I had my book club (about 10 houses down the road). Lots of great things discussed, including even the book for at least a few minutes. Very good peanut butter cookies. Still couldn't sit in an easy chair though, so a bit uncomfy on the floor.
My back thankfully is feeling a lot better now - down to a much more manageable pain.
Saturday was the getting things done day - trying to find school trousers for Lucy, school shoes for Tom (this is his 3rd pair of Clarks shoes THIS YEAR!!), more screws/nails for the playhouse, a Dunelm visit - returning my suitcase which fell apart on the flight home, and various other stuff, including buying proper running shoes for me and Scott.
This involved our having 'gait analysis', where our running on a treadmill is videoed, and we are matched up with the right pair of shoes. Scott's was fairly straight forward - he has a good gait apparently, but I tried on about 70 different pairs, and had to keep going for little runs outside the front of the shop (looking very attractive with my rolled up jeans and borrowed socks, in the pouring rain), and finally got a pair suited to me. I have never spent so much money on a pair of shoes before IN MY LIFE, nor on such a revolting looking pair. Oh well. At least there is no way on earth now that I cannot go running - I've spent too much to not.
Scott wanted to wear his beautiful neon-yellow-trimmed monstrosities to church today, with his suit - to 'break them in'.
It was also our family's turn to help clean the chapel, but when we got there, the other families who were helping had already been and done it all beautifully. We felt humbled and blessed by truly kind people.
Today was Ward Conference at church, where all our Stake leaders visited. I really enjoyed all the talks (including Scott's.) The Stake President met with Scott and I during church, to see how we are doing. He also gave us both blessings, which were pretty amazing, and have given me a ridiculously lot to think about. I think members of our church will know what I mean if I say it was like having a Patriarchal blessing again. I have never been given a blessing with such boldness or authority, before.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Well it looks like it might be a long evening, as Scott is threatening to stay up and wait for all the election results to come in. Might as well catch up on what's been going on since America. This can be summed up in 4 words: Tired, Yorkshire, Sore Back.
The Monday after we were all reunited, Harry and I cleared out one of the vegetable beds and planted seeds (onions, leeks, broccoli & cauliflower), and the next day the kids got on with clearing out the other bed. They have been happy to be in the garden, and enjoying each other's company, I think. I just spent last week feeling shattered and having to take naps here, there and everywhere. Luckily, Scott who was back at work on Monday, said he felt pretty OK, even though he has had masses to do at work to catch up. Straight after school on Friday, we were all packed up and in the car on the way to Yorkshire. My brother John had organised a Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge. We had booked along with Mum & Dad and some others to stay in a stone barn called Dub Cote, in Horton in Ribblesdale. It took us 4 hours to get there, with the kids being superb on the journey as usual.
Got the kids to bed (in various bunk beds), then enjoyed an evening chatting and laughing (to the point of crying... something to do with Mum/Dad/their honeymoon/a not working fridge...)with Mum, Dad, Ken, Bev, Denise, Dale, Katy & Dan.Dad had also made me a birthday carrot cake (very nicely decorated by Mum in Christmas stuff!)

(Took me three goes to blow out five candles...)My, Lucy, Mum and Denise's room.
Some more guys turned up at about 6.20 am, and after cooked breakfasts (except Dad who had Shreddies with milk, sugar, whipped cream and marshmallows), we met up with John's part of the group, and set off.
Katy, Dan, Amy, Harry and I didn't drive down to the village first - we just set off up the hill to the foot of the first peak - Pen y Ghent. Harry was a bit fed up walking at first (he can normally just scoot everywhere), but then got into his stride. View back down on the barn etc.

Pen y Ghent
Harry really perked up when we met up with the rest of the group, and he led the way, starting off up the peak, chattering away non stop.
Our lot, and Dale at the top.
Heading back down.
I love all the dry stone walls and sheep and grass. It reminds me of childhood for some reason (Derbyshire I think). After all the amazing vistas we saw in America, it is still wonderful to see this kind of England.
We got to the road again at the bottom, and Harry would walk no further. He had walked 8 miles. Scott went on to get the car and pick us up!

Meeting up with nearly everyone later on. (Mum, Bev and Denise showed up later.)The Ribblehead viaduct. Start of the next peak. We decided to go back home then - we had been lucky with the weather, and wanted to leave before the rain, and get home at a reasonable time.
Dad, John, and a few of the others did all 3 peaks, though Dad was really freezing by the end - he had been separated from his waterproof, and got stuck in hail and heavy rain.
Keeping warm before leaving.
Sunday was my 35th birthday. It was also Fast Sunday (no chocolate for breakfast...), and I got a new calling (assignment to take on a specific role at church) in Relief Society (the women's organisation).
Mum and Dad had bought me a couple of gorgeous sewing and quilting books, so I had a very happy time looking at them. Made a very interesting vegetarian lasagne for my birthday tea, as we hadn't got very organised with the shopping yet. (Kitchen smelt of burnt boiled cracked wheat...)
I was just thinking about what to have for dessert, when Anna turned up with a Barbie birthday cake, complete with pink icing for me! It was fab!!
On Bank Holiday Monday, my main objective was to get the wooden playhouse, which had been lying in the garden in about a million bits, put together. We bought it off my friend Harriet when she moved house.
It took about 4 hours, but when we tried to move it, I did my back in, and have been in lots of pain ever since. So far I can't really sit down - just stand (which I did for about 4 hours straight yesterday afternoon at a party I took Harry to) or lie down. I'm getting a bit tired now, but think it's starting to improve. Spent yesterday morning pacing around not knowing where to put myself - very reminiscent of being in labour! I'm also fed up that I've had to miss my first two Relief Society meetings, last night and tonight - I can't drive or sit for long enough. We also had a huge Tesco shop delivered yesterday, which I had bought online last week - all food storagey stuff - tins and packets. I just tipped it all out in a massive mountain in the porch, and the kids helped me unpack it after school!
Anyway, next week I am planning on catching up on all unpacking, washing, ironing, cleaning, gardening, cooking more normal things, and being pain free. (Though might just catch up on reading, quilting and sleep!)
Election Night Special has just begun on TV now. Scott and I both voted today (me along with Harry, sparkly crash helmet, Scooter and a big bag of Cadbury's Mini Eggs, and Scott with Tom, on his way back from picking our car up from being serviced - not looking hopeful that our boot will ever be able to open again - fixing it will probably cost more than the car's worth!)
I was disappointed there was no Raving Loony party candidate for our area. I don't think anything I voted for would make much difference - we are in such a strong majority area.
Twelve minutes since polls shut now... stuggling to stay awake!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Holiday (The first bit)

The adventure begins... John & Hannah turned up at our house, and in spite of good intentions to get to bed early, we were still packing and messing around till about midnight. I think we got up at 5.30 the next morning, and then drove to Heathrow. Scott had booked a company to collect our car and park and store it for us, so that was nice and easy.Thought we had better start our holiday off the right way - with a big American breakfast at Heathrow airport! I had no idea of time, and we ended up being the last ones to get on our flight! John and Scott spent a lot of the flight playing Settlers of Catan game on John's phone. I watched a couple of films, and read a bit. The flight didn't seem too bad. Getting some sleep at our stop over in New York.
We then got another flight to Salt Lake City. Scott and I sat with a guy who was also a member of our church, and we had a really good chat. Played the in-flight quiz, which Scott was the overall flight champion of...
When we arrived at the airport, a lady John had met on his mission picked us up and took us to another family's home in Holladay - the Varners - who John also met on his mission. The Varners had Scott and I for our first two nights, and made us feel so totally at home - they were wonderful and welcoming - I loved being there, and their home was amazing! We stayed in their son(a keen hunter!)'s room. I was pretty glad to get to bed - we had been up for 26 hours!Our first morning in America! I loved the view from the room we stayed in - I hadn't realised how in the mountains we were because it was dark when we arrived.Ross Varner gave us all a ride into Salt Lake to our car hire place, then we picked up our tickets for Conference, then took John & Hannah to the airport to get their hire car too. We split up then, and Scott and I wandered around various places near Temple Square.The beautiful decor and stained glass of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Salt Lake City Temple, which took the pioneers 40 years to build.
We visited This is the Place Heritage Park, then Scott patiently waited in the car while I did some shopping in a couple of craft shops!
In the evening we drove up to Snowbird, before returning to the Varner's house. The snow was incredible, with whole cars covered, and it started snowing while we were up there, which was wonderful... I had not visualised this holiday with snow in it - an added extra!On Saturday 2nd April, we went to the Conference Centre and attended two sessions of 180th General Semi-Annual Conference of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The conference centre itself is really something amazing - vast and beautiful, but the talks and music were the best bit. In the 2 sessions, there were 4 talks on raising children, and having strong families and relationships with your kids. These really struck me, and have given me a lot to ponder on. I also got to hear the Tabernacle Choir sing my favourite hymn How Firm A Foundation.
It was great outside too, being among such a huge throng of Church members. We also bumped into a few people we knew!
After the afternoon session of Conference was over, we headed straight off, out of the Salt Lake Valley to our first hotel in Green River (the Melon Capital of somewhere-or-other, apparently)On 3rd April (Easter Sunday), we went first to see the view from Dead Horse Point, then carried on to Arches National Park. This was a fabulous place, and I didn't know looking at big rocks could make you so happy!
Lunch at Denny's!!
More Arches.
The chapel in Monticello.I was so glad I was able to snap this picture from the car - I love it!
Driving into Monument Valley.High winds at the Utah border.
We then had a long drive to Cameron, Arizona, not too far from the Grand Canyon. This was the view from the balcony of our hotel room. The next morning - 4th April - we went to Grand Canyon.The Little Colorado River before in enters the Grand Canyon.
Inside the watchtower that overlooks the Grand Canyon.
We were in a traffic jam for ages leading up to Hoover Dam. I was anxious to get there before the sun set, and luckily we made it in time.
I could just look and look at Hoover Dam all day. It's wonderful!After Hoover Dam, we drove to our hotel in Las Vegas.
Our room - overlooking the gardens - with the Flamingos!
We spent the day of 6th April driving from Las Vegas to Death Valley and back again. I love Death Valley! It is definitely one of my favourite places - just such a wholy different landscape. We played on the sand dunes, and it was HOT!
Death Valley is popular this time of year for its spring flowers.
Salt!That night we wandered from our hotel up the strip to the MGM (for their grand buffet!) Probably Scott's favourite bit of Las Vegas - about 70 TV screens all showing sport...
Probably my favourite thing about Las Vegas... the musical fountains outside the Bellagio