Saturday, 31 December 2016

The first three weeks of July 2016

My Facebook post on 1st July 2016:
''I'm fed up with feeling sad and cross about leaving the EU - I'm ready to feel happy and optimistic again. Mourning period over. I think it helps that I happened to read this at breakfast this morning:
“Opportunities to listen to those of diverse religious or political persuasion can promote tolerance and learning.
The Book of Mormon speaks of a time when “the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and … began to be scornful, one towards another, and … began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure” (Alma 4:8). Let us all remember that God looketh not upon the color of the jersey or the political party. Instead, as Ammon declared, “[God] looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Alma 18:32). Brothers and sisters, in the competitions of life, if we win, let us win with grace. If we lose, let us lose with grace. For if we live with grace toward one another, grace shall be our reward at the last day.'' ''

Also on the 1st, Lucy went to her Year 13 Prom. Someone in the photo was feeling self conscious, so they all covered their faces! (Lucy on the far right.)

On Saturday 2nd July, it was the Stake Athletics. we all went and took part in various events. I didn't plan to, but took part in nearly everything, though some of the longer distance track events were more of a 'walk and talk, and jog for the last bit' type thing! 
I spoke quite a bit with Jennifer Loftus (though she has a married name now) who has moved into our Stake! I also spoke with her husband who is thinking of becoming an on-call fire fighter.
I was pleased to win the 100m and 200m, which I tried really hard at, and felt really nervous about! I also won the Shot Put and Long Jump.

On 6th July, we had a family dentist appointment, and Lucy got her mission dental form filled out.

On 7th July, Lucy and I went to Northampton, where I was teaching Institute. It went fine, and Lucy enjoyed hanging around with friends afterwards.
Drawing on Ben Hirst's back.

Enjoying the night sky with Alex Bourne and Daisy Campbell.

On 8th July I got a new (2nd hand reconditioned) iPhone 5 from eBay. My old iPhone 4 from Scott's work had just got too rubbish. It's so nice to use! I had a scary time cutting down my SIM card, but got it working fine.
Harry and I playing with Snapchat filters, and discovering collage apps!

Also on the 8th, Jack had his Year 11 Prom. Thankfully Jack was happy for me to be his group's 'photographer' beforehand when everyone met at the school, so I could be bossy, and make sure we got a nice background etc. Jack had originally got a date for prom, but then their group decided to hire an old fashioned double decker bus so loads of them could go together, so the date thing fizzled out.
It was a beautiful evening, and I enjoyed milling around, watching Jack with his friends, and chatting with other parents who I'd not really seen for years.

Lucy also turned up with some of her friends who have siblings in Jack's year.

Jack with Lucy's friend Georgia's younger sister.

Transportation to the Prom dance at St.Ives, which Scott picked Jack up from at about midnight. He'd had a great night!

Messing around with my new phone again on Saturday 9th July.

In the afternoon we had a joint ward BBQ, which was very pleasant!

I had fun on the stilts till I fell off and somehow managed to cut my leg!

On Sunday 10th, I taught a Primary class, and after church Lucy, Jack and I went to Northampton for a Stake Youth Fireside. We got there early because we didn't want to go home in between, and sat in the car park enjoying eating our picnic tea!

A Facebook post on Monday 11th July:

''The last couple of weeks has been rather stressful for a heap of different reasons, culminating in my 6 month Fire Fighting assessment this evening. Very happy to say that I passed it, and I'm ready to enjoy this next week before we embark on our Asia adventure!''

July just felt rather stressful and busy, though I think quite a bit of that was because of the 6 month assessment hanging over me. It was fine in the end - it was just held at our local station, and though not perfect, I got all the main elements demonstrated OK. I had to do a BA drill, put up ladders, do knots, use the LPP (Light Portable Pump) and stuff. The Station Commander and a couple of others had a debrief with me afterwards, and said I'm doing fine (and go up and down the ladder like a whippet!) - I just need to have more confidence in myself.
Also, Meg and Dave had asked to use our house while we were in Asia, so I felt the need to get the house deep cleaned during this time too!

The next day, on Tuesday 12th, we had Abi Bleakley who was over from San Diego, coming to stay for the week. Lucy and I picked her up from the train station in the middle of a torrential downpour!! It was great to see her again - she'd not changed at all - as loud and crazy as ever! That evening, Lucy and Abi went to see Harry perform in his school play.

On Wednesday 12th, Lucy had a chest x-ray appointment at hospital, for her mission medical form, and we went to McDonalds on the way, for our traditional girls' breakfast! Just like the good old days!!
Lucy and Abi kept me (and most the x-ray waiting room) highly entertained till it was Lucy's turn. It was a bit stressful though because the place was packed and we were about an hour late for the appointment, and Lucy had a driving lesson to get back for. We made it back with about 2 minutes to spare.

Taking the girls and Jack to Tesco the next day.

Lucy had just got the Pokemon Go game on her phone, and was wandering round the car park trying to find one. Abi, Jack and I just drove off without her in the end and she had to come and catch us up!

I gave Jack and the girls a quick tour of the fire station on the way home. I also had a hair dressers appointment that day, and in the evening drove to Ely for a Road Traffic Collision course, which was really good.

Thursday 14th was rather a stressful day! It was supposed to be Lucy's driving test, but when she got there, it turned out that her test was supposed to have been on Tuesday 12th! She'd originally had her test booked for Thursday - it had been changed, but she'd saved the details of the Thursday test on her phone and had reverted to checking those details.
Driving lessons have been awful for her (like for lots of people!) and she was so hyped up ready for this test, and she felt so stupid, and like she had wasted money, that she was utterly miserable! She went straight out to the cabin and cried and cried. Abi and I went separately to check on her, but she just wanted to be on her own. We left her for most of the day, and by evening she had mainly shaken it off and got over it. Poor thing!!! She said afterwards that it was good having Abi there, to distract her for the rest of the week! She managed to get a new test booked for September, but was still pretty fed up about having the stress continue till at least then.

Friday 15th July.
A photo of me looking how I do most the time now - hair back and in my Fire and Rescue T-shirt.

In the evening, I took Lucy and Abi to the cinema to see 'Now You See Me 2'. We had enjoyed the first film, and this one was just sheer entertainment!! Thoroughly enjoyable!
Lucy and Abi killing some time on a dance machine beforehand.

On Saturday 16th, I took Lucy and Abi to Cambridge. As per tradition we got the guided bus from St. Ives. We wandered round the prettiest parts, and also did some shopping.

Also as per tradition we had lunch at Cafe Nero!

Some Crispy Creams to keep us going, before getting the bus back.

On Sunday 17th, we had church, and Abi's friends from Cambridge picked her up from there. We took some farewell pictures after church. It had been lovely seeing her again! Though Abi is pretty lively and full-on, she is also really kind and inclusive to the boys and it's fun having her stay.

That evening we went to the Wade's house for a Farewell party for the Doughtys, who are moving to Surrey.  It was a lovely evening hanging out and chatting with everyone. Matthew also showed me round the house, which I've not seen since they had a brilliant loft conversion done.
Some of the youth took off for a bit!

Monday 18th was Harry's sport's day. He made it pretty clear he did NOT want me to go and watch (he gets really self conscious about things like that, and it had taken quite a lot of persuasion to get him to take part at all). Lucy and some friends decided to go and watch though, which Harry was not in the least impressed about. He got a first and a second place.

I had actually planned to do last minute packing (ie. all my packing) and cleaning on Tuesday 19th, seeing as we were going to Asia the next day, but I ended up spending a few hours at March Fire Station! We got called out to be on Standby, because their pump had been called out to a big fire. Chatted with Tony, Phil and Martin a bit, and had a ready meal! Managed to get everything done OK still, when I got back.

Friday, 30 December 2016

The rest of June 2016

On Sunday 5th June, while the others were still traveling back from France, Tom and I went to Northampton for a devotional with Elder Oaks (one of the twelve Apostles) and Elder Kearon. The talks were good, and Elder Oaks spoke in a very informal and relaxed manner. 
Afterwards I was in the foyer when Elder Kearon came over to me, asking how 'our fire fighter' was doing! (We'd chatted a few months before at a meeting in Watford). He asked if I'd met Elder Oaks yet, and I hadn't, so he went and bought Elder Oaks over and we shook hands. I also got to catch up with Elder Kearon's wife Jennifer, who I've got to know a little bit. She's so lovely.

Back at home we were all together again! The kids loved telling me everything, and giving me the wondrous fridge magnets they'd bought and sea glass they'd collected for me, and I loved showing them the improvements on the house!

On Wednesday 8th, Donna invited me over, and she, her American friend Jen and I sat out on the patio and had a wonderful time talking about all sorts of things, such as Feminism and religion. I was able to explain more about my beliefs and go into some depth which is not normally possible. I know Jen has very different views, but there was such a lovely spirit there, and I know we all went away feeling closer and with broader minds.

Some 'sugar art' I found on the stairs following a Tesco delivery!

On Thursday 9th, I was down at the fire station with a few others for a Playgroup visit, but they didn't turn up!
In the evening, I went to Northampton to teach an Institute class, which seemed to go really well.
The next day, I was back at the fire station again for a driving assessment (basically so that I am able to drive any of the normal Fire Service cars including the co-responding car). I drove Mick the instructor around for about 2 hours (including to Peterborough B&Q so he could buy some paint!) and we chatted. He told me about the time he was car-jacked by a gunman, and had to drive him for a couple of hours! I passed the assessment anyway.

Lucy in the garden on 10th. She was fairly stressed out in the run up to her A levels, and was taking a 'moment' here!

On Saturday 11th, I spent the day at the Rural Museum with some of the other firefighters and the fire engine, for a show. We showed a couple of kids around it, but mainly chatted with each other and some of the visitors. I got talking to a guy I'd seen before from the fire fighters charity, who was keen on photography and we had a good time looking at photos on his phone.
In the evening I went with Lucy and Jack to Northampton for Seminary Graduation. Jack has finished two years, and Lucy has finished all four!

On 14th, Scott, Tom, Harry and I had our vaccinations for going to Asia next month.

On 17th June, Jack finished his last GCSE exam! He thought most of his exams had gone well, and was pretty confident! We let him celebrate by going with Lucy to get their vaccinations! (They'd not wanted to come at the same time as us, because didn't want to risk getting ill for the exams they had that week.)

On Saturday 18th, I met Martin the other probationer, down at the fire station, and he drove us to Huntingdon for a Breathing Apparatus course. Just as we'd got our breathing apparatus on and were ready to go in the smoke house, the instructors (who are Wholetime fire fighters based at Huntingdon) got a call-out and ran off, so we just had to take everything off and hang around. We went in the station and could see that they'd got called to an AFA (Automatic Fire Alarm), so might well be back soon. They were back soon, so we could carry on with the course! I was a number one on the BA wear, and it went reasonably well, and I was happy.

On Sunday 19th it was Father's Day, and we went for a lovely walk from Broughton.

Most of us felt a bit rubbish around this time - this is me on 21st June after about 2 hours sleep... bad night = big hair!

On 22nd June, Jack got round to burning his school uniform and papers! We couldn't pass the uniform on, because the school has bought out a new uniform now.

Also on 22nd June, I put this on Facebook, regarding the referendum on whether or not the UK should leave the EU:

''There seem to be a lot of people still undecided about the vote tomorrow. If you are undecided, you are basically saying that you don't hate being in the EU enough to want to get out right now (if you did, you wouldn't be undecided - you would be definitely voting out). If you are undecided and vote tomorrow to remain in the EU, you are keeping the current benefits of being in the EU, but retain the option to vote out if things get more unpleasant as a consequence of being in the EU, in the future. Of COURSE we can still vote out in the future, if we choose not to do so tomorrow. If being a member of the EU becomes significantly worse than it is now, any future PM can call a referendum if a clear majority of us want out (and they won't stay in power long if they don't). Tomorrow is not 'all or nothing' despite what the Outs want us to think. I put this on here, because I hate the thought of people rushing into something they're not sure about.''

Scott and I were pro-remain, and while I didn't have a problem with people voting to leave if they had a genuine well thought-out reason, I was fed up at the thought of people voting to leave as a kind of general protest to the establishment, but with no real thought for the possible implications. I was surprised actually at how strongly I felt about it.

Thursday 23rd June - another Facebook post:

''So proud of Lucy and happy for her!!! Last A level exam finished today, and last day of school! She's been hard working and diligent since her very first day!''

Lucy felt her exams were a pretty mixed bag! Some she felt had gone well, and a couple she thought had gone badly (one of her History exams she just got home from and sobbed!)

Also on 23rd, Lucy and I went to vote (remain) in the EU Referendum.

In the evening I went to Northampton for Institute Graduation, and afterwards had a committee meeting, which was a bit long and frustrating - we are still trying to get the structure sorted out. President Hirst had rung me in the week to see how I was doing, and we'd talked about my calling and other stuff. After the meeting I stayed talking with President Hirst again till late.

That night Lucy, Jack and Scott stayed up late watching as the referendum results started to come in.
I found Lucy like this the next morning.

I'd gone to bed at the point that a lean towards Leave was emerging, and so wasn't totally surprised at the final result, but felt still felt very cross!!

On Saturday 25th June, Lucy and I went to Northampton for the evening session of Stake Conference. I sat next to Claire Clayton, and we were both still feeling pretty fed-up about the referendum! Conference was good though, and I ended up staying late talking to Emma Corre and Gill Barstow. We miss being a YW Presidency together, and have such fond feelings for each other!

The next evening we had YSA FHE as usual, and celebrated Jason Solomon's 25th birthday (which was the day before).

I got out my nail polishes and the girls (and Scott!) enjoyed them!

29th June. My summer reading collection! I'd been reading reviews and buying them cheaply on Amazon for a couple of weeks. (With hindsight, this wasn't a great lot of books - quite disappointing really, though I always like Barabara Kingsolver books, and the Orchardist was good, and the Life Changing Magic of Tidying - but more about that later!!)

Also during June, Lucy worked on getting the medical papers for her Missionary Application filled in, I had my first co-responding call, though the lady wasn't having a heart attack but some kind of fit. I applied oxygen to her, and by that time a paramedic had arrived and took over. I did another clear-out on Ebay and made about £600, and we've rented both of our houses in Leeds out now for the next academic year. Also Harry seems to be happier at school again. He went through a bad patch with some of his so-called friends, wasn't enjoying his teacher and was pretty down about school for a while. I even considered moving him to a different school for a bit - it just didn't seem worth the upset to keep him where he was, but that decision never quite felt right. I'd even rung up another school to see if they had a space for him, which they did, and spoke to Mrs Wilkinson, his current teacher about it.