Thursday, 28 October 2010


I emerged this morning at about 10.30am, to find Lucy and Abigail (in T-shirts they made on Young Women's camp) making pancakes for themselves and the boys. I felt more human after eating 4 of them.Playing in the garden.
(That is the boys in the background, pouring water down a plank on the slide, which they then skate board down into the muddy bog at the bottom. In their pyjamas.)
Yep, the sleep deprivation finally got to her... she has gone well and truly bonkers.I finished the quilts we were making for a local Alzheimers home, today (whilst watching our new 'Knight Rider' DVD with the kids). Tom and Harry making sure they work! And finally - a common sight nowadays!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lucy's 13th Birthday & Half Term

On Friday, the boys all had the day off school, and later on Lucy had her sleepover. We didn't have quite as many girls over as planned due to illness, but 5 girls was plenty!
Here they are after having an icing fight (they were decorating cupcakes.) They looked pretty much the same later on as well, after applying makeup to each other with their eyes closed!
Lucy had a great time anyway, and they finally got to sleep at about 4am...We had a relatively quiet weekend, which was nice.
This week is the half term holiday.
Monday was a beautiful sunny day, which showed up very well our impressive collection of cobwebs. We invented a long handled duster (Little duster+duck tape+broom), and Tom did a good job de-webbing us.
I then encouraged the kids to play animal hospital (something I remember doing as a kid), and that amused them for quite some time. We made plasters out of white sticky backed plastic, and I cut them some bandages from white fabric.Quite a few casualties!
Tom's 'friends' - well fed and cared for! Yesterday, Jack went out with a friend for the day, and I got a BIG bag of lavender in the post for making stuff for Christmas, and for a stall I am doing. I had no idea about weights, so ordered half a kilogram. I made lots of stuff, and Harry and Tom designed bags for me to make for them, which they are quite happy with.
Harry also did his first 'paid' job. He cleaned out the microwave (which really needed it!) and I bought him a Hotwheels car in Tesco. He was so proud of himself, and he actually did a pretty good job.
In the evening, Lucy, Jack and Scott went to rehearsals for the Roadshow at church (a short play, which is done as a contest with other wards' plays.) They all have parts - Lucy is a Russian princess, Jack is a wimpy prince, and Scott is in the olio act (the bit inbetween two plays). Lucy went from there to a Young Women's sleepover, and the boys and I have just picked her up now.
Lucy's friend Abigail is coming for a sleepover tonight, from Lincoln.
Three sleepovers for Lucy in six days! If that doesn't induce sleep deprived 'teenage behaviour' then nothing will!
Scott is busier than ever, but managing OK. He will carry on as acting Principal till the second week of January 2011. He got an iPhone 4 from work (which he decided to order for everyone!), and is in love with it. He can't get over just how much stuff they can do... though he has mainly used it for playing Settlers of Catan on, and doing a training thing that builds you up to doing 100 press-ups. I think he may possibly have checked his work emails once or twice, too!
We are all going to stay with my brother John, and Hannah, in Yorkshire on Friday. Looking forwards to it, and looking forwards to seeing some beautiful hills!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Parents' Evenings, Principals & Pickled Pears

This week I have been on church visits every day, but found time for some crafting and baking in between (and guilt-free, because there are only 2 things in the ironing basket, and the house is reasonably tidy!)
Scott has had a busy week - a new Principal has been appointed, but Scott will need to carry on as acting principal for a while, till they work their notice. There is lots of change in the air.
The kids are all quite happy. The boys all had their Parent's Evenings this week.
Jack's teacher said he could work a bit harder after he has completed the work that has been set, but that even if he just coasts, he'll still be head and shoulders ahead of most, in all his subjects. I said that it sounds fairly typical of a 10 year old boy to not create his own work, once he's finished what has been set, and asked the teacher to just give him some follow-on work. Jack's teacher seemed happy to do that anyway.
Tom's teacher said he is a delight, and an asset to the class, he is interested in everything, and a good all-rounder.
Harry's teacher said he seems happy at school, has loads of friends, is interested in learning, has a creative streak, and needs to not chatter during carpet time quite so much, and help tidy up a bit more!
Lucy turns 13 on Sunday, and has a sleep-over with a few school friends tomorrow night (and a church sleep-over, and a sleep-over with her friend that moved to Lincolnshire, next week too!)
We are proud of all of them, and lucky that they enjoy school, and find it easy enough, and work hard.
Anyway, today as well as church visits, I thoroughly enjoyed dehydrating orange slices, making blueberry muffins, and Pickled Pears, with a load of pears someone gave me from church. Sweet and tangy and syrupy....mmmm.....Here's the recipe (someone asked me for it today):

8 lb cooking, or unripe, pears
1 stick cinnamon
3-4 cloves
2 pints white wine vinegar (though I didn't have any to hand, so used a mixture of cider vinegar & pickling vinegar)
3.5 lb granulated sugar

Tie the spices in a piece of muslin (though I didn't bother with the muslin), and add to the vinegar with the sugar. Bring to the boil and set aside.
Peel the pears, quarter and core. Put pears in a pan, barely cover with cold water and simmer for about 1 hour.
Drain pairs and add to spiced vinegar syrup.
Simmer slowly until they look clear, and are quite tender. (This may take up to 1 hour)
Take out with a draining spoon, pack down into jars, and then boil the syrup until thick. (I boiled mine till it is nearly like runny toffee sauce, but I don't think it needs to be quite that thick!)
Then pour syrup over the pears to cover completely, and seal.
Leave for 1 month before using.

I'm planning on saving mine till Christmas, and eating with nice cheeses, or maybe a good vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Helen the Hermit

A quick catch up.
On 8/9th October, we stayed overnight at the London Temple. The kids enjoyed staying in the Accommodation Centre. I enjoyed it less - in my top bunk, fighting with all the layers of bedding and waking up 350 times or so. I did like walking round in the quiet, peaceful dark, with this as the view.
The next day, Scott and I took it in turns to go into the Temple. Scott took the kids to Gatwick Airport, where they watched the planes and played on the trains, while I was in the Temple. It is always good to be in a place where perspective is re-established, and the outside world is far away.
I tried to get a good picture of the kids. They were not in a posing-nicely-for-pictures mood!
Last week I helped Harry with his homework one day - doing a traffic survey - how many of each colour cars he saw. Here he is sitting in the front garden, watching. (Silvers won, in case you are wondering.)
Lucy had Thurday off school, as it was her Target Setting day. We just had to go in for a meeting with her from tutor. He said Lucy is 'exceptionally bright', and 'works her socks off'. The target she had set for herself was to work harder in lessons, but her tutor realised she is finishing her work early, and so is having spare time in lessons, so he is emailing all her teachers to tell them to provide extra work for her. (I think she should have kept quiet, and have an easier time of it!!) We are proud of her anyway. (I also asked Lucy's tutor what his targets are. He has a violin that he has started from scratch, and needs to finish, so I told him he should get on with it.)
So apart from the odd couple of things, I have pretty much been a hermit for the past two weeks. We didn't even have any internet last week (good old AOL! [Not.] I know all their being-on-hold music off by heart.) This is the opposite of Scott, who has just been dealing with a lot of stuff. (Mainly to do with being Principal.)
I have been busy doing something at the top of my 'list of things to do when Harry starts school' - catching up on the kids' baby books. It has taken me literally HOURS & HOURS, and I am nearly done now.
I don't mind the effort, because the kids love them. I think they give the kids a strong sense of who they are, and a sense of belonging.
I'm not going to be able to be such a hermit next week. Pity really.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Conference Weekend

We spent yesterday in Nottingham at Mum & Dad's house, along with both my brothers and sister, and their families. The men went off to the Priesthood meeting of conference in the morning (the women's meeting was the day before), and in the evening we all went to a general meeting.
It was so good to hear talks given by people inspired of God, and feel the spirit confirming that their words are true. A few things that were said stood out in particular to me, which I need to act upon, including President Monson's talk on Gratitude. (It will soon be on our church website, here.) I felt very much that as a family we should be more grateful for our blessings, and that having an evening family prayer that mainly focuses on thanks, will help our kids and our home environment be happier.
I enjoyed being with my family - I did mean to take lots of pictures of everyone, but forgot. I'm not even sure who took these ones - maybe Lucy. Hannah, John, Robin and Scott watching Dad doing something on his shiny new laptop!
Katy and I went to visit Grandma after lunch. She has changed so much in the short time since I last saw her. It felt like she was a child almost. She asked where the children were - we had thought it might be too much for her and hadn't bought them, so I went back and collected 5 kids (mine + Adam), and they all went and told Grandma what they have been up to (and had a good explore of her en-suite/ornaments/photos etc....)
I hate seeing her so uncomfortable, and so weak she can't open her eyes... you feel so useless. Katy and I were crying as we left - wondering all the time if we will see her again.
When we got back, it sounded like John had been trying to persuade Scott to move up North nearer to him and Hannah. I think it would be great in a lot of ways, but don't feel enough push/pull factors at the moment.
In the mean time, John and Hannah invited us to go up and stay in the half term holidays, so that is something to look forwards to!
My niece Amy with my Mum.
We got back fairly late and bundled the kids into bed. They all seem happy this morning.
(Harry while walking to school: I HATE school!
Me: Are you playing the opposites game?
Harry: Yes.)
I have a relatively quiet week this week, and hope it stays that way. Scott is at a meeting of college Principals today. He takes up the role this week.