Sunday, 25 January 2015

A 'Quiet' Week

I was thinking this week was a quiet week, but actually we still seemed to fit a lot in!

On Monday 19th January, Tom and I walked (and skateboarded) with Harry to school, then Tom and I drove to Peterborough for Tom's first Orthodontist appointment. I struggled to find parking on the first drive past the Orthontists, so had to drive round the one-way system again, before finding a little car park. We were in the Orthodontists for about two minutes in total after all that! They just confirmed that he would indeed be starting treatment with them for his overcrowded teeth, and gave us an appointment to come back on Friday. I dropped Tom back at school for the afternoon.

On Monday and Tuesday I worked on a couple of cards, and blogged them, ready for them being featured on a craft company's blog on Wednesday. It also turned out I had a couple of cards featured this week in an online magazine-type blog, in an article on interactive cards. The reporter had contacted me a couple of weeks ago, asking my permission to use a couple of my card photos she had come across on the internet.

Did other usual stuff on Wednesday and Thursday - washing, ironing, a load of Stake Young Women phone calls and emails, organised things ready to stick in Harry's baby book, did an online Tesco shop for all the refreshments for Friday night, organised my Stake Young Women folder, getting all the contact details for everyone up to date.
The kids and Scott have all just been getting on with their stuff as usual too, though Lucy has had four mock AS Level exams this week, which she has been pretty stressed about. She doesn't think they went very well. So far she has found out she got a C in her biology.

On Thursday morning it was my turn for doing the early morning Seminary run, and on Thursday evening I drove to Northampton for a Stake Council meeting. One of the things I enjoy in Stake Council meetings is when we have returned missionaries come along to give a report of their missions. We had 5 at this meeting, and I love listening to their experiences, their wonderful, strong, unique testimonies, and their love for what they have done and the people they have served.
After the meeting I got chatting to Ben Hirst who was waiting for his Dad, and we had a really good conversation about church and life and what-not. I got back home some time after midnight.

On Friday, I picked up Tom after his first couple of lessons and we drove to Peterborough again for his second Orthodontist appointment. For some reason the satnav took us to a totally random street in Peterborough, even though we used the exact same address as Monday! We ended up driving all over the place and were about 5 minutes late. This time Tom had some x-rays done, some photos taken, and rubber moulds made. When his lips were being help back by the plastic scissor things, Tom reminded me strongly of Wallace, from Wallace and Gromit! I didn't dare take a photo, but this picture is close enough!

We were done quite quickly again, but I had signed out Tom for the afternoon, so I rang up Scott, and we drove to the college where he works, and he took us to dinner at the restaurant there. I really enjoyed it, and it was nice to spend time with just Tom. After that Tom wanted to sit in the car while Scott gave me a guided tour of the college, and introduced me to a few more of the people he works with. It's nice to have an idea now of where Scott is every day! It seems a pretty decent place.
(Naff phone photo.)

Driving back home, Tom and I were very interested to see that they are building a few new windmills near the one we have had here for years. (A phone picture of one of the new windmills with no sails yet, and a crane.)

On Friday evening I made tea early, then Ben Conway came over and I drove Lucy, Jack, Tom and Ben to Northampton for a Seminary Meeting and Deacon /Beehive Forum. (Tom's first Stake Youth event since being in youth!)
I was with the younger kids who had a choir practice for a couple of hymns we are singing at Stake Conference next Sunday. We sang for a bit, then played some games in the hall, then when the Seminary meeting was finished we went and joined the older youth in the chapel so that we could all run through the hymns together. There were well over 100 kids there, and when they all stood on the stand to practice our positions for the day, it was a wonderful sight! All 'my' lovely kids together and singing! We finished off with the refreshments I'd bought, and then we cleared up and drove home. The drive seems a lot quicker talking to Ben!

Yesterday (24th January) we had a good lie in, and the biggest job I had to do all day was to cut Tom's hair.
Tom in my hair dressing studio!


 Harry being goofy!

Last night ended up being pretty eventful. Scott and I were quite late to bed, but almost straight away I could hear Harry up - he'd had a nightmare. I went in to comfort him, and saw that Tom had fallen asleep midway through messaging a friend on his ipod. I read the string of messages, and was a little taken aback at the content. Tom wasn't saying or doing anything bad, but I realised he's not a little kid any more, and after I'd got Harry back to sleep, I talked to Scott about it, then lay in bed feeling sad and worried at what Tom faces, and just that things had fundamentally changed.
I'd only been asleep for a couple of hours after that, when I was woken by two neighbours having an argument in the street. I think at least one of them had been drinking and they were pretty upset, and shouting. I think they finally quietened down at about 4.30am, and I got to sleep some time after that. I felt bad for them, especially having the whole street hear their problems word for word. They're usually a really quiet couple.

This morning Scott had his pre-church meeting, and the kids and I went to church at the normal time - it was good, but we were pretty tired! I also had a chat with Tom about the conversations on his ipod. He seemed a bit sheepish about it, but we had a good talk, and I felt a lot happier and that there's still plenty of the 'kid' left in him.

Today, we had our second 'no-screen-Sunday'. (I also said that Tom and Harry can't have devices in their rooms after bed time.) It was really nice again! Tom drew, read and used my watercolour inks, Harry wrote a story and drew some comics, Jack and Scott read, Lucy slept, and I did this picture with my watercolour inks. (We had a spare frame, and Lucy has taken it for her room.) The boys all helped me make banoffee pie, and after tea I read all of  'The Spaghetti Tangle' to Harry and Tom.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A crafting party, rainbow books and a screen-free day

On the evening of Friday 16th January, I held a Stampin' Up party at our house. Throughout 2014, I held a card class at our house one Thursday morning each month, with a few of the Mums from school and some church friends. I decided to do an evening one this month, so some of my working friends could come, and base it more on Stampin' Up products (an American craft company).
I really enjoyed spending a bit of time on Thursday and Friday making some cards and cupcakes, all on the same colour theme.

Starting to set up in the dining room, with the fold out table and chairs. There happened to be eleven of us in the end - handy, because that's how many chairs I had!

People came at 8pm, and I had prepared a couple of cards for them to make, I talked about some of the new products (we all like the special board for making gift boxes!), and then we ate food and chatted for ages, with the last people leaving some time after 11pm.

After school earlier in the day, Lucy had an appointment at the local clinic for her diabetes. Pretty much a total waste of time for us - the nurse couldn't answer any of my diabetes questions, but they needed to collect some basic data on Lucy for their system. We were a bit sad though, because Lucy's HbA1c score (from her last hospital visit) was quite a bit raised. We need to keep this score low for her body to have the best chance to remain as undamaged as possible as the years go by.
Lucy and I also popped to Tesco to get a load of refreshments for the evening.

Mess in the kitchen after everyone had gone. The kids were happy about all the nice left-overs the next morning! (Though Lucy is still doing her Sugar-free January.)

We had a very lazy Saturday yesterday, thank goodness, and I put in the Stampin' Up order, and got to choose quite a few free things (very nice, seeing as I am still doing my no-spending-on-me-till-May thing!)
Tom went to Henry Williamson's to play in the afternoon, and in the evening, I decided we should sort out our book shelves in the dining room. Scott helped me, and we ruthlessly got rid of about a quarter of them! The bottom shelf is travel guides, craft books, gardening, poetry, self-help, and kids books (though they each have their own book cases in their rooms too), the middle shelf is photo/blog books, history, science, more travel books, and church books. The top shelf is all novels, which I took enormous pleasure in rearranging in rainbow order!!
The kids then came in and seemed horrified about the pile of books we were getting rid of, and rescued a few armfuls for themselves!
Lucy and I have continued to find much delight in the rainbow order every time we go in the dining room (it looks more noticeable in daylight), whilst Scott claims it is stressing him out because one of the John Grishams and the Harry Potters aren't next to each other!! He'll just have to cope somehow!

Today (Sunday 18th January 2015), we went to church this morning - where we enjoyed two really good talks on the Sacrament (even Lucy said she had gone up to the lady - new in the ward - afterwards to thank her), and then went home separately, as Scott and Lucy had Bishop's Youth Council meeting after church.

I decided this week that we would try and have screen free Sundays from now on. (I am letting myself write this blog now the kids are in bed though!) We put everything away, and after church Harry, Tom and I looked at an Architecture book (uncovered last night!), and Jack was reading some history of British invasions book.
Harry did make me laugh though - he sellotaped six A4 sheets together, drew a 'really posh' TV (with wood-surround speakers), plus an X Box, and blue-tacked them to the wall over his bed!! While he was downstairs with us, he said his soft toy birds were watching them! Screen-free rebellion!

We went round to Shane and Dawn's for a couple of hours before tea, (except for Lucy who couldn't be roused from her bed - she's been really stressed and tired lately from studying for her upcoming AS Level mock exams this week) and played Boggle and Rapidough (like Pictionary, but with play dough).
We had a late dinner (delicious pork and veg), then I read a book to Harry and Tom, snuggled up in my bed, then we read another longer one, each taking it in turns to read. It was lovely, everyone was happy, and quite a successful first screen-free day.

I thought I'd get a photo of Harry and Tom in their bunk beds (in their messy room), before they all swap around rooms.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

CHA 2015

CHA is the Craft & Hobby Association's Conference and Trade Show (the biggest in the world), which has been held in California over the last weekend. Craft shops come and see what the new products will be in the coming year, to help them decide what to stock in their shops.
I've been lucky enough to be on Design Teams for both Stephanie Barnard, who works for Sizzix, and Karen Burniston who works for Elizabeth Craft Designs. I receive lots of their new products and among other things am paid to make card samples for their booths at the show.
Here's Stephanie's booth from this past weekend, along with a couple of my cards.

Here's Karen's booth, where some of my cards are also displayed.
I can't tell you how much I would love to be at one of these shows, and get to see all the new products from all the top brands, plus meet a lot of people in the industry who I now know!

A Busy Week Part 2: 11th - 13th January

On Sunday 11th January, Scott went to the chapel early for a meeting before church, and I made some soup to take in flasks for our day out. We went to church, and for about the first time ever, Scott and I sat in Sacrament Meeting on our own together! Harry was in Nottingham, Jack was still pretty ill in bed, Tom was passing the sacrament (the first time I have seen him do it! He did very well!), and Lucy sat on the stand, as she was reading out the talk which Jack had prepared and was supposed to be giving! The talk was pretty good, and I was proud of them both.
I felt absolutely shattered throughout church - too many late nights and fighting a cold. After church I rang Jack to see if he wanted me to go back home, or if it was OK for me to go with the others to London. He was fine with me going.

Our family, Luke and Stephen Amos, Andy Collings and some other kids he was taking, all had lunch (Pot Noodles in our case!) at church before heading down to London. There was a Devotional being held in the evening at Hyde Park Chapel by Brad Wilcox from BYU, for youth and YSA.
A few of us had decided to go down early so we could walk round London a bit beforehand.

Stephen, Luke, Tom and Lucy.

Love driving through London! You see so much, including the rich and poor sides of life.

We parked in the Imperial College car park directly opposite Hyde Park Chapel.

While we were waiting for Andy's car to arrive, we went upstairs into the overflow room, which looks out over the Science Museum. Scott reminisced about old times here.

Lucy coming back from the car...

Tom and I went for an explore, higher up the building. We went right to the top as far as we could. On the way down, Tom had gone off, and a man I haven't met before walked down with me. We had a bit of a bizarre conversation, with him trying to chat me up. When I said I was just here for the Devotional (and not the Young Single Adult Ward), he asked me if I was Sister Wilcox (the main speaker's wife!) Um, no!! He did offer me chocolate though!

While we were still waiting for Andy, we decided to have a quick look in the Science Museum.

I got a bit confused, and (rather embarrassingly) in a loud voice asked where the dinosaur was??! (Wrong museum!)

We met up with Andy's lot in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has a beautiful courtyard.

I've never actually been in the V&A before, and didn't realise there would be quite so many naked statues everywhere!

We then headed round to the Natural History Museum.

We all split up, and met back later. I took these photos of some of the kids on the bridge in the main hall.

 I just love the main hall!

Tom, Scott, Andy and I spent quite a bit if time in the whale hall. Brilliant!

Tom was a lot smaller the last time he came here!

We the headed back to the chapel, wanting to get there half an hour early, at 5.30pm, so we could get decent seats.

When we arrived, it was wonderful, because the place was about a third filled, and mainly with people from Northampton Stake! It was so lovely to go round and greet all the youth, parents and leaders! More and more people kept arriving from our Stake, and I was so happy! In the end, the place was packed, including most of the cultural hall, off to the side of the chapel, with people from several Stakes.

There was a lovely musical item first, then Sister Wilcox spoke briefly, then Brother Wilcox took the rest of the time. I was excited, because he has written a book called 'The Continuous Atonement', which was an incredibly useful and important book for me. President Hirst had lent me the book the year before last, and I got my own copy last year so that I could go over it again. It's helped me understand so much better what the Atonement of Jesus Christ really means.
Brother Wilcox works for BYU, and has been on the General Sunday School Presidency, plus had a lot to do with the Especially For Youth programme. He's good at speaking to youth! I think everyone enjoyed his talk - he was pretty blunt, and taught the Gospel with the Spirit, and also with humour.
He had finished by 7pm, and there were milk and cookies afterwards, and we all stayed for at least another hour chatting with loads of people.
Lots of people wanted to speak to Brad afterwards, and I wanted to, but felt awkward about it. Not long before we left though, I ended up being near him when he wasn't too busy, so had a chat with him, and got to thank him and tell him how meaningful his book has been to me. He was lovely, and gave me the biggest, longest hug, and we talked some more. I also had a good chat with President Hirst, which was nice because I haven't spoken to him in months.
When we had finally gathered everyone up, we went back to the car and had a load of food, then drove home. I was kept very entertained by Luke and Stephen Amos talking to me about their love lives the whole way!

Brad Wilcox.

We dropped the Amoses home, and got back to ours at about 10pm, As soon as we pulled in the driveway, we realised we had forgotten to collect the Rover from church, so Scott and I had to go back and get it. What a pain!

The next day (Monday 12th) Jack missed Seminary, but he dragged himself to school (still ill) because he had some assessments. Lucy made it to Seminary, but stayed off school because she felt like she was going to be sick. At lunchtime I set off to Nottingham to go and collect Harry. I didn't feel the least bit bad having him miss a day of school! I'd contacted his school in the morning, and was truthful about why he was absent.

Harry had had a great time with my Mum and Dad, playing with Adam, going to church, having a tea party on the Sunday afternoon with Niki's family, and going on the school run with Niki on Monday morning. Unfortunately though, later that morning, Harry had gone with Dad to pick up a new fridge-freezer, and on the way Dad had gone full tilt over a hump-backed bridge (to be exciting for Harry!), and the car bottom had crunched, and the car just died. They came home via two buses (Harry wearing Dad's coat), and then Dad had gone back again, and tried to fix the car by the roadside in the pouring rain. It wasn't what he thought it was though, so the car's still broken, and he came back by bus again, soaking wet, and not very happy! I wasn't there at that point, so couldn't help out with lifts.

While I was there, Mum gave me a lesson in researching Family History using the church's Family Tree website, and I finally feel like I understand some of the key concepts now!!

Harry and I got home by about 5pm, and we all had a pretty quiet evening.

Yesterday (13th January) after the morning school run I picked up Jo Blackhurst on the way to Dunelm, as I needed to get curtain poles for the cabin. They had a 20% sale on, so I also got replacements for all our bedding, which I had planned to do later in the year. We met up with Jo's sister-in-law and her friend in the cafe, and had a pleasant time. I dropped Jo back home, and came in to try and fix her computer, which I just about managed to do. Had a chat with Richard her husband who was writing an essay for his last year of a Theology degree at Spurgeon's College.

In the evening, I took all the kids into town to get Jack some new school shoes (his had fallen completely apart on Monday!) and new football boots, plus we got some tea stuff in Sainsbury's. Lucy and Harry had stayed in the car, and Lucy had been teaching him her A Level Politics stuff - he explained what a referendum was when we got back to the car, and gave us some examples!! We then went straight to church for Activity Night (Harry), Seminary (Lucy and Jack) and youth (Tom and Jack - Lucy came back with me and Harry, so she could get on with some revision for her mocks.)

A Busy Week Part 1: 8th - 10th January

The past week has been pretty busy, including a lot of travelling.
On Thursday (8th) it was my turn to do the Early Morning Seminary run, where I pick up Xander Waters at 6am, then come back for Lucy and Jack, then pick up Kirsten Cryer, and take them to the chapel for their class. I sit in one of the other classrooms and do some scripture reading, and other reading, then take everyone home again. I can't complain, as I only do it every other Thursday, taking it in turns with Scott, Mick and Jo Waters, and Shane. I'm also super glad that the kids all choose to get themselves up and ready, and want to go and study the Gospel before school three mornings a week!

On Thursday evening I had a Stake youth meeting in Bedford, which Carys Robertson, our Stake Young Women Secretary gave me a lift to. One of the roads was closed on the way home (as often seems to happen after meetings), so we had fun finding a new way back!

After school on Friday I took Jack to the clinic for an immunisation - his second of the day. They had all had one at school too.
I was out again on Friday evening for book club at Donna Wright's new house. The book was 'Double Negative' by Ivan Vladislavic. It's set in South Africa, and I was about the only one who enjoyed it!

On Saturday, we all got up pretty late, except for Tom who was picked up just after 7am by Henry Williamson's family (one of his school friends) for a day in Hemel Hempstead, paintballing.
At about 10.30am, Mum and Dad came to visit. They are having their two week winter holiday from the Temple at the moment, and are back in Nottingham - living with Niki and Robin, who moved into Mum and Dad's house a few weeks ago, so they can get on with decorating their own house ready to sell.
We had a pretty quiet day (we had planned to do some painting in the cabin, and other jobs, but it was too horrible and windy outside to want to.)
When Jack finally woke up he was ill, and could hardly speak he felt so awful - a result of his immunisations. It was horrible seeing him feel so rubbish, because he is almost never ill. He had every possible side-effect listed on the leaflet we were given!
Lucy stayed in her room most the time, doing A level work.
Harry spent the morning playing on the boys' new second-hand X Box, but he had a complete melt-down in the afternoon when I said he couldn't go on again, resulting in a ban for two days the next week, and him moping in his room for a while. Later on though, he played chess with Dad.

I slow-cooked a nice lump of pork for a late lunch, and later on got Harry's stuff ready for staying at Mum and Dad's in Nottingham for a couple of days. I really wanted to go with Scott and the youth to a Devotional at Hyde park Chapel on Sunday night, so had asked Mum and Dad if they'd take Harry back with them, which they were happy to.

Some pictures of Tom at paintballing - from Henry's Mum's Facebook. He had a super time!

I left at 5.30pm to travel to Milton Keynes for a birthday meal for my Stake Young Womens Counsellor, Gill Barstow. There were 24 of us, all on one long table, at the Thai Modern restaurant.
I sat next to Sharon Preston, from Milton Keynes Ward, who I get on with really well, as she has been our First Aider on a number of YW camps.

The starter which Sharon and I shared! I've never really had Thai food before, and this was gorgeous!

We sat opposite Mary Norton and Sharon's husband, Peter. We had a really good night, and certainly didn't run out of conversation.

Me with the birthday girl! I was so glad she had a happy night - she's a wonderful person. 
At the end of the meal, we all moved around a bit, and I had good chats with a number of other people - most of whom I know from church. I got back home some time after 11.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

My spot on Karen Burniston's Designers Team

I tend to keep my every day life, and my 'craft life' fairly separate, but today there is a post on the Elizabeth Craft Designs Blog (an American company), featuring Karen Burniston's Designer Challenge Team 2015, of which I am one. 
Karen, who designs products for the company, made this display piece for the upcoming CHA trade show in America, and I'm proud to be part of it. I feel like Karen and the other women on the team have become my friends over the past year or two that we have worked together, even though we live all over the world. They are a lovely bunch! We have a private Facebook group where we share ideas, and our excitement!

Lucy, Jack and Tom started back at school today, (Harry yesterday), and as well as ironing through 2.5 films (empty ironing basket at last!), I finally got blog posts on this blog finished for 2012, and a blog book ordered! It wasn't cheap, but it will be quite a hefty book! Yesterday I got paid for some cards I made for another American craft company - The Stamps of Life (to be used at the same trade show), and that covered the cost, so that's nice!

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Weekend of 3rd & 4th January 2015

We had a nice quietish Saturday, and I spent a fair bit of time organising a youth choir we are having at our church Stake Conference in a month.

Scott cleared a load of wood from the old shed base, so that we could move the trampoline into its permanent place, and Harry and Jack started chopping up scrap wood into more manageable pieces. I could hardly bear to watch them with the axes, but we've taught them to be as safe as possible, and I just need to let them get on with stuff.

Had a nice roast beef dinner, and in the evening Scott and I bought a treadmill online. I have been running about twice a week since the beginning of October, and Scott wants to start again, plus Lucy, Jack and Tom all go out running reasonably frequently. With the cold weather though, I haven't been for a couple of weeks, and buying a treadmill is something we've toyed with on and off for a while, so we bit the bullet and went for it. I'm quite excited!!

On Sunday, we left home at 7.15am (though it took us a while to de-ice the car) and drove to Chelmsford for church. It was lovely seeing lots of Scott's old friends! Matt and Kim McIntyre, Roger and Sasha Spoors, Debbie and Colin Stewart, the Futters, some of the Faggs etc, plus Keely Watling, Scott's cousin who we were spending the rest of the day with. (Grant, her husband had to be in a different ward.)
Had a lovely roast dinner (which Chloe did most of), and we bought up two Banoffee Pies and Brownies, then people played Cheat!

Elliot's hot chocolate mug.

Elliot and Tom watching the game.

Harry realising that I was taking photos, and he'd been 'got'!

Keely and Grant's 6 kids + our four. I really like the Watling kids - they're lovely!

Just like this one because of Lucy!

Me, Scott, Keely and Grant. We had a lovely time just chatting for ages, then headed home at about 7.30pm.