Friday, 8 August 2014

Summer 14

It's been a while, I know. Lots and lots has happened too.

The highlights over the past few weeks have been:

  • Child #1 making a bid for freedom and deciding that, at the grand age of 16, she is big enough to move all the way to Scotland, share a flat with her boyfriend, and be independent. Needless to say that she has learnt rather a lot in a very short space of time but she's still in one piece anyway!
  • I've had 2 lovely but very very busy weeks off and, to be honest, will be glad to get back to work next week for some normality.
  • We have a new addition to our family.

So Child ~1 then. Well, I did see this coming, and it's exactly what I did at her age, and I turned out ok. I could have demanded she stay, refused to let her go, shouted, made her feel guilty, told her she was stupid etc etc. That would have been rubbish, and she would have still gone but wouldn't keep in touch. She would also be far less likely to ever come home if it all went wrong. So I am, therefore, being the very supportive mother no matter how much it hurt at first (I am far more used to idea now, and I know she is ok (ish)) So she's moved to Wishaw near Glasgow. It could be worse, she is only 3.5 hours away and very easy drive. We proved that this week by visiting her on a day trip and it was great. It's hard watching her doing things the hard way. She has no understanding of how much harder things will get either but I'm here if she needs me and always will be. More to follow on that in the future I think.

My busy 2 weeks have been really busy. The state of Vivod was really staring to annoy me a few weeks ago. The front room is still a mess and we are awaiting a plasterer who isn't coming until later September/October. The front bedroom, previously child #1's was empty. The landing was a mess. So I realised that despite owning a perfectly big enough house, if not too big for us now, I was only using about 75% of it. Things had to change! I vowed to do something to our house everyday, or nearly everyday, whilst I was on leave for a fortnight. So in the past 2 weeks we have:

  • Sanded, repaired and varnished the front bedroom floor.
  • Stripped the wallpaper, sanded the paintwork and began painting it all.
  • Sanded and varnished all of the landing (I never realised just how big the landing is)
  • Moved into the front bedroom and set up the attic room as a useful space/spare room/bedroom for Child #1 if she returns (I have told her this by the way and she is fine with it)
  • We intended to restore the fireplace in the bedroom, clean up the hearth, paint the ceiling, replace the plastic windowsills with wooden ones and wall paper.
  • Oh, and I also sent the bedroom doors to be stripped too. (Currently awaiting their return - there are no secrets in our house at present!)
I will take some pictures and show you soon but I feel much happier that there is now only one room out of action again and that the landing is also far nicer.

So finally...the new addition. Time for some pictures I think...

I thing the word is 'tolerating' rather than 'friendship' at this stage.

So this is Louis. I was asked to give him a home as a colleague needed to rehome him and didn't want to sell him (he's a Bengal cat). I bought him home on my last day at work so that I could settle him in. Everything was fine for a week and then he escaped! after 48 hours I resigned to the fact that I would never see him again. Until last night, when a lovely lady from a few streets away reported him to the local vet! So happy he is back although Oscar is less happy about this but he will be ok in time.

As you can see...(even non cat people)...he is adorable! He is also off to the vet later for micro-chipping followed by a collar and tag purchase, although he is currently under house arrest for the foreseeable future!

Monday, 9 June 2014

What the mind can conceive, it can achieve...

Well I think Napoleon Hill was right.

This is a quick post to update you on 2 equally important things.

Number 1. Yesterday Child #3 and I achieved an A pass in our first Tae Kwon Do gradings. We are fully fledged yellow stripes now...and we have those all important belts to prove it. So now we are learning Chon Ji, and it meaning, and we are learning lots of other Korean terms, and we are getting fitter and stronger and we are learning together. Child #3 insists we will become 8th Dan black belts together...I didn't have the heart to point out that, due to timing restrictions on gradings, I may be dead by then or at least very very old!

I won't lie. It was, at points, terrifying! One of the other adults that was also grading from my club, whose son has done Tae Kwon Do for a while commented, while sat on a bench waiting to be called, "I can't believe I put my child through this!". I knew exactly what he meant! Some of the kids were tiny...and there was me...36 (just) and scared! 

We were called for the practical in groups of 10 ish, and whilst some things went well, I couldn't block and reverse punch for toffee. I was rubbish. I wanted to cry. Thankfully the examiner didn't have a direct line of sight to me and I may have got away with it. I won't next time and I need to up my game.

Number 2...I am going to complete my MA. Yes, I mentioned it some time ago but I never really thought I would be motivated enough to do it. I am though. I have got as far as submitting the protocol (the plan of what, how and when I will do things) and I have also written about 750 proper words (so only another 19, 250 to go). I know now that I will get it done though, and surprisingly, I am actually quite enjoying it so far.

So, my motivation? Well I want to do another degree of course! I suddenly feel the need to learn everything! (See kids...this is what happens when you O/D on Omega 3!!) I had been thinking about doing another degree for a while and have always wanted to do a maths degree. When I first applied to university I was offered a place on a Maths, Stats and Computing degree. It would have been great except that at the time I had 2 young children. I assessed the amount of time I had dedicated to my IT vocational course at college compared with the amount of time towards A-Level Maths. I think i spent 4 times as long on the maths to be honest and only got a C, whilst I got an AA in IT. I decided that, being as this was my first degree, I would be better just doing Computer Science and sailing through with minimum effort and maximum output. After all, a degree is a degree no matter what and Computer Science degrees go a long way. It was the right decision and I came out 3 years later with a 2:1 (less than 1% off a first though!!) but it did what was needed and I know, now, that I made the right choice back then. 

It's always bugged me though, the fact that I never did maths. I can't say I regret not because I don't but there is still plenty of time, so why not now? Well, the only thing preventing me enrolling is that unfinished MA. So I have to finish that first and I think the promise of doing Maths, or Maths and Stats is keeping me motivated. The OU has September and February starts and I will make the February one at the lastest but will do my best to make the September start!

So that's it for now. Hopefully in September you can call me Master, and also a Yellow Belt (next grading is September 28th I think!) Will keep you posted!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Garden

The sun finally came out today again for the first time in days so I rushed out and took some pictures of the garden before it went back in, which I'd been waiting to do all week. (The sun actually stayed out all afternoon though which was nice.)

The garden has been on the to do list for some time, if you remember it was nothing to be proud of...

 So after a lot of digging, shovelling and wheelbarrowing (yes I know that's not a real word but that's what we did), 

the garden is now far more respectable...

There is obviously far more to be done at some point but the garden isn't the top priority project at Vivod. For now we at least have a space that is far nicer to spend time in and very low maintenance!

(I'm also really impressed with the quality of those last 3 pictures which I took on my new moto x phone...not a bad little camera at all!)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Tae Kwon-Do

I think I mentioned a few posts ago that I've found something new to occupy me in the form of Tae Kwon-Do. Now, in all honesty, if you had told me in January that this year I would be unable to resist joining a Tae Kwon-Do club I would of thought you were barking mad. I would of rolled my eyes in 'yeah...whatever' kind of way and muttered something about not know me at all. 

Well, I finally got around to calling the local club to see if my youngest could join, after he had been nagging me about it for weeks. Yes, he could, we just needed to turn up on Thursday at the local high school and he could have a go for free. Which we did. Along with many other parents I sat and watched while he made it through his first session with the aid of his 'helper' who showed him what to do and where to stand etc. I was pleased he seemed to like it and began wondering whether it would be wrong to sit there knitting each week to stop me being bored. 

So, the following week we went back and I watched more closely. I was quite impressed that during the warm up he had to do press-ups, sit ups, some serious stretching and a bit of running and wished that I had something similar to motivate me back into shape. I carried on watching the session and noticed that in places there was a lack of effort and seriousness and that I would need to have a chat with him about this later. At the end the kids session there is another session straight away which was attended, it appeared, by quite a mix of different people from young to old. Whilst Child #3 was getting his shoes on etc I watched their warm up, again wishing that I was as motivated.

Week 3. I watched, and after having a chat with my boy I was expecting great things. I didn't get it. He punched like a girl. In fact the girls were punching far better than him. He kicked like he couldn't be bothered. He chatted and got told off. He didn't listen and fell behind. We went home and I had another chat. A little annoyed with me he replied "I am doing it don't know about it don't do it!!' Hmmmm.

At the same time I was attempting to distract Child #2 with more planned activity in her spare time. We had a few issues with her being around the wrong type of people too much which was concerning me. Equally she hates just being on her own at home. I'd got her back to cadets at this point but could see it wouldn't last. Then I noticed that there was a mixed Tae Kwon-Do session on a Sunday tea time. I though she might like to join too with her brother. So I enquired. Yes, we could all go on a Sunday. Hang on....that wasn't quite what I was thinking....I meant her and her brother, not me too! 

3 days later I found myself running around a sports hall, barefoot, doing pressups (well attempting to), sit ups, stretching etc. Child #2 enjoyed this bit...kind of. We then moved on to learning a 4 Direction Punch. co-ordination needs work. I also need to learn my left from right! ('Put your right leg back'....'No...put your other right leg back'...) We did a bit of sparring...I didn't have a clue what I was doing but went with it and met a lot of great and very patient people that day. Child #2 was now checking the time and sighing lots. I knew she hated it. Child #3 thought it was just plain funny that I was there in 'his' Tae Kwon-Do class.

Class over, I was knackered, we left, and soon as we got out Child #2 announced 'Well that was s***, why did you make me do that??!' I pointed out that I didn't, I just offered her the opportunity. 'Well I'm not going again, it was rubbish.' Fine...don't. I, however, loved it. The following Thursday I watched Child #3 again. I knew then that I would be in that class again on the Sunday afternoon. I soooo wanted to join in there and then. 

So now I go at least twice per week. On a Sunday Child #3 and I go together and on a Thursday we watch each other (I go to the class after his). We are both a bit excited too at the moment because in 10 days time, on the day after my birthday, we have our very first grading. With a bit of luck we will be swapping our innocent white belts for ones with a hint of colour...just a yellow stripe but enough to prove that we are serious about this and we do want to stick at it.

So what's the attraction? Well for him I have no idea. I don't think its for the same reasons I love it anyway. I love it because we are reminded on a regular basis that, within the club, we are one big family. There is a real team work effort where the more experienced help the less experienced to learn. Its an environment where everyone wants everyone else to do well. I love that we have to commit to something that applies just as much outside of the Dojang as in it. Its about respect, and rules and its nice to be told what to do for a few hours a week and not have to make any decisions...just do as I am told. I love that to achieve each grading there is both a physical and theoretical element and that both must be perfected. I love that it's already made such a difference to so many areas of my life. I love that it's something the my boy and I can do and learn together, and that we are equal in this rather than mother and child. 

It never ceases to amaze me where my children take me and what they lead me to achieve. If it wasn't for them I think I would miss out on many great things in life.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Accident - C.L. Taylor

Time for another book review, although this one is overdue as I finished it about 3 or 4 books ago but I will do my best! 

The Accident was brilliant, and I think I read it in just over 24 hours. I discovered the book because I follow the Book'd Out blog and Shellyrae posted a review some time ago, I ordered it there and then and read it as soon as it was delivered. As it was published in 2014 I realised it could count towards the reader challenge too. 

Back to the's a psychological thriller based on a mother finding the diary of her daughter currently in a coma after walking out in front of a bus. Consequently she uses the diary entries to track down the events that led to the accident. It has a pretty gripping plot. It was slightly predictable once you got about half way through but that didn't make it any less enjoyable and there were still a couple of unexpected turns within the rest of the book. I'd recommend it to friends without a doubt. (In fact I already have...)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Granny Stripe Blanket

Hello! I know its been a while...bit of hectic month really but I have spent the last few days finishing off the Granny Stripe Blanket. It started it May last year (I can't believe its been around that long to be honest!).

It made another appearance in these posts...

And now its finished! 

It's made from James C. Brett 'Cotton On' yarn (50% cotton / 50 Acrylic), lots of but thankfully it's quite cheap. Apparently washable at 40 degrees so I think this may end up as a picnic/park blanket. It was a pleasure to make and its so warm and heavy it will be great in the winter months too, to snuggle up under on the sofa.

I just need to find a smaller project now for all the left over yarn! 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Murder is Binding - Lorna Barrett

Another book challenge review. I finally understood what 'Cosy Mystery' meant. This was ok...I gave it three stars. It was a bit tame and slow moving for my liking but I guess that's the genre. It only took me 3 or 4 days to plough through it and parts of it I really liked. The book is part of a series and centres around a street containing different book shops. A murder took place in the cookery book shop and the owner of the mystery book shop was the prime suspect. Obviously she goes on to solve the crime but I won't spoil it any further for you. I have the next 2 in the series to read but they can wait for another day!

Happy reading.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hello....long time no see

Its been ages! So much to tell you.

My last post was apparently the 18th March...I've done loads since then. 

I have:

Finished stitching the Kiss kit by Emily Peacock (better photos will follow when I make it into a cushion)

Plodded on with the front room, there is actually progress there but you can't see it...honest.

Not sure I ever showed you the fireplace that's going to go back in there though...

Its all original, and would have been what was in the house when it was build. The only reproduction parts are the tiles.

Started a new ripple blanket (have given up with trying to keep open projects to a minimum...its just not me)

Started Tae Kwon Do (Yes really...I love it almost as much as knitting). I will tell you more another day.

The most recent project is the garden. Its annoyed me for 3 years, and little progress has taken place but the annoyance level must have tipped the point of no return and yesterday was a back break day (almost literally) for which I am now suffering and I'm also sunburnt!

Remember this...

Well it looked worse than that more recently, but last week I tidied up that border and put some plants in...

Then yesterday we dug...and shovelled...

This is about half of what was removed. The rest is in skip bags.

So on Tuesday a tonne of hardcore arrives, and then I need to make the final decision on what is going on top...paving or pebbles. Time will tell.

Oh and the other day I made one of these. They may move to the garden at some point but for now it can hang here and grow some mint. Great for using up random bits of yarn...I may knock up a few more.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New Stairs!

Short and sweet post today just to show you something.

After months and months of these being sat behind my sofa and tv cabinet they finally made it to the landing!...

We now have so much more space on the landing too. Obviously the bannister and spindles still need adding but they already feel far safer than the old ones. Remember them? Here's a reminder...

The even better thing is that I can now continue with the Landing....if I knew what I wanted! We will get there eventually.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Harvest - Tess Gerritsen

Definitely the best book I've read in the past 12 months. It got me from the first few pages and I then took every opportunity I could to read it. This book also proved that the reading challenge is definitely worth completing as I doubt I would have read this otherwise. I picked it purely because it was one of the best rated medical thrillers. 

The main character, Abbey, is a doctor training to be a surgeon who gets mixed up in a heart transplant battle between a young boy and another wealthy, older, patient. The boy gets the heart but this then leads Abbey to uncover some very sinister and illegal arrangements. The book is fast paced and keeps you interested until the very last page. It got 5 stars from me on Goodreads and I still felt that wasn't enough. I will be reading more of Tess Gerritsen's books this year, without a doubt.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Sunny Day Blanket

You may remember that back in July last year I started making, as commissioned by Child #1, another blanket. This was the beginnings.

Well I am pleased to say, along with wishing you all a very happy St David's Day again, that it is now finished! As she is away in Scotland this week and it was half term so I had a lovely week off, I decided to work as hard as I could and complete it before she got home.

I think it was in the summer that it was named the 'Sunny Day Blanket' as that is what it reminds me of and I also hooked a lot of it sat in the garden last year on sunny days...