Saturday, 31 March 2012

Just about ready

Sermon illustration for tomorrow - a fluffy toy rabbit and a box of chocolate cakes in one hand, a palm cross in other hand.. Easter is about God, don't you know!?!!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Abundant life

Christian friends, my eyes have been opened a little wider today - read John 10:1-10 and then read v10 again. Depending on the translation you are reading, the exact words will vary, but the common thread will be the same.

Good News bible says, "I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness."
The NIV has, "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full."
The NRSV (Anglicized version) says,"I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly."

Our lives should be full and abundant - these are positive images of plenty and enjoyment, not lives wracked by guilt, feeling that we should constantly be working, sacrificially for others. Sure, we should do plenty of good things, but we have to get life in balance. Balance. No sitting on the sofa watching DVDs for 12 hours a day, but a proper balance.

We are called to love one another AS we love ourselves, as well. Wise is the woman who can do that, and I am not her, yet!

I was blessed today by the posting at The Quiet Home, and I watched the film that the post links to, and I think that if you are anything like me, you would benefit from watching it too.

I am going to spend some time on ME, and thinking about how I can get life more in balance.

After I have folded the washing, cleared the kitchen up, and remade the bed.....(joking...not!) ;)

Small investments make a difference

(image from

Small investments make only small differences but like the famous saying goes, "it all adds up", and indeed it does. The price of stamps is going to rise quite dramatically at the end of April, so I have a month to make perhaps a series of investments.

Buying stamps is like buying loo roll - I just know that I am going to use them eventually!!

The price of first class stamps will rise from 46p to 60p each and the second class stamps will go from 36p to 50p. Yet it is possible to buy them now and they will still be valid even after the price rises, because they have no value printed on them, just the indication as to whether they are 1st or 2nd class.

Second class stamps are fine for most of the letters and cards I send out, so I plan to invest £36 and buy a hundred. After the 30 April, those same stamps would cost me £50 so the saving is clear. If I have another opportunity before the end of April, I may even invest in a second book of 100. They don't expire, so if they last me a couple of years, I am still quids in, and I just know that the price of stamps is never going to come down, unfortunately.

I use less stamps now than I used to, with the advent of email, online and telephone banking, and bill payment online and on the phone. But I do still send cards and letters through the mail occasionally, and that personal touch is still important at some times.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Keeping the balls in the air

Or the plates spinning, or any picture you want to paint to imagine the same thing.

I can't keep them all up at the same time, and when a new one needs to be kept up, one of the others comes crashing down. So the plates called School, Gymnastics, Church, Children, and Husband, and Finances are all spinning nicely. Unfortunately, the ones called Me and House crashed some time ago. If I try to put either of those two back up, others are going to come down.

Church is looking shaky, I have to admit, and it could be that one of the more stable ones will have to wobble a bit more in order to make Church spin a bit faster! Which one to wobble, though?

Finances can't wobble, as that affects everyone. If I let any wobble, someone gets let down. When Me and House wobble, fewer people suffer, so they are easier to let wobble.

BUT letting the plate called Me be one of the wobbly ones means that perhaps my ability to keep all the other plates up is compromised..........

This is a recurring theme here, and the answer is still the same - what do I do? Who do I let down? I wish I could just hire a cleaner twice a week! I have thought of a plan - wouldn't ever work but it is wishful thinking - most of what I do is voluntary work at school, church and gym, so if everyone did a few hours a week, those who don't want to do things that need qualifications (like gym) or require study (church) or taking serious amounts of responsibility (school), then people could sign up to do supportive things for those of us who do those things - they could help with housework or gardening!

I had a wonderful friend in Scotland who came and did my ironing every Friday morning who was a Godsend, and she did it for love, just because I did things for her, took her places and did things for others as well and that was her way of paying back. It felt a bit uncomfortable the first couple of times, but I soon realised that she wanted to contribute and it made her happy to be useful at her time of life.

So, I need to get off here and do something - clean up the breakfast debris, hang out the washing, hoover the sitting room, write a Building Report, call the contact at the church I am preaching at on least the weather is glorious again!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Looking forward

I've now done 950 posts, so I guesstimate that I may post the 1000th sometime in about June, perhaps around the longest day - and last night we changed the clocks, which has made me look forward to better weather and more energy.

I do suffer a little with SAD, the lack of sunshine which makes me a little depressed, but I don't get it anywhere near as bad as I used to. This time of year is hard for me, remembering my mum. Every month just now there is something to jolt my memories of her back in to a sharper focus; she is there all the time but the loss becomes more acute at this time. February marks the anniversary of her death, March brings Mothering Sunday, and April is the month which holds her birthday. Three months in a row. No wonder I used to really look forward to the middle of April, when I knew that the days would be brighter and this time of remembrance would have passed.

But now I look at it differently, and I try to enjoy the remembering instead of suffering it, and bask in the memories of the good times, and the happy things. So many things which she loved remind me of her at this time of year in particular - she loved the little daffodil-type flowers called Cheerfulness, blue irises, snowdrops and bluebells.

So I plan to put together a little box of items which I will accumulate between now and that 1000th post. They will all be items which my mum would have loved - those things I see and think, "Oh, Mum would have loved that!" so who knows what I will find in the time to come. All commenters between now and then will be entered and I'll let you know when we are approaching the 1000th post.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Loving the weather

The weather we are enjoying this weekend is great. Yesterday was glorious and we are promised the same over the weekend and into next week - yesterday was more like May than March, so I hope it lasts a while.

The garden is not even remotely ready for spring sowing, though - I am hoping to get out there and get the remaining three beds dug over, and the first three hoed so that broad beans and perhaps potatoes can go in very soon! The lack of water won't help....we are in a hosepipe ban area from the beginning of April. We are exempt from that, actually, because the FH has a disabled Blue Badge, but I don't intend to take advantage of that exemption - I do find watering cans concentrate the water where I want it far more accurately, and I kid myself that the exercise of lugging the cans is doing me some good. We are not ones for watering the lawn, either, so we don't even have a sprinkler!

This morning I am being grateful for my semi-tidy and clean sitting room - it is a joy to have a clear dining table at last! Again! It gets cluttered easily and I do have to work when it is clear to keep it so...

Hope you all have a great weekend and that you have some sunshine where you are too xx

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Catching up again

Life is getting complicated but you seem to be having patience with me - thanks! There is just so much to do in real life that keeping up to date on here is less of a priority these days.

I'll just record the highlights of the past week or two:

The EFG has been offered places at all three of the Sixth Forms to which she applied. She now has to work to get the grades to be able to attend the one she really wants. That means I need to start the savings campaign for her train fare: £300 a month between now and September....and if she gets in, that will be for the train season ticket we will buy in September, and then we will put away £150 a month for the next year to buy the second season ticket the following autumn. I'm going to phone the bank and open a Season Ticket account, I think!

The YFG is working for a gym competition just after Easter, so she is training hard. She is also helping a volunteer train to become a coach, so attended a day at a gym near Norwich last Sunday, and will do so again this Sunday, and loved having access to better equipment than we have - a vaulting table, a sprung floor and foam pits! She came home with sore hands, and exhausted, but having really enjoyed herself....

The OH has got his spring burst of energy and is spending time outdoors in the good weather, returning to the fireside when the clouds come. His health is up and down, but generally stable.

And me, I am OK. I feel under pressure with everything that I have taken on, but determined to carry on with it all. Yesterday I blocked the day out in my diary and spent the day at home, ironing and pootling around the house doing things! There is a need for more days like that, but I will struggle to get one each week. Today brings gym this afternoon, tomorrow the after-school club and a meeting at school, Thursday has piano lesson and then a Governor training session, and Friday has chapel knitting and gym. Saturday holds gym and ballet, shopping and washing, and then we are back to Sunday. I have no service to prepare this week, but for Palm Sunday, I have to take an assessed service - I hadn't realised that one of my services has to be assessed each plan, but I am getting used to it.

And the eating round here? The EFG claims not to "understand" the plan and says she will eat what she is given. That to me means that she is taking no responsibility for herself, and adds to the strain. I suppose she can then say that if the weightloss is not there on Friday, she has eaten what I gave her and therefore it is not her fault. But there is more to it than that, and her drinking and activity levels are also relevant - she often doesn't drink enough through the day and has been advised to drink more. She stayed the same last week, and so I hope that there is a loss for her this week.

I am looking forward to our holiday in Bridlington - I have to make the balance payment this week, and so I am relieved that the savings have mounted up over the last few weeks so that I have accumulated the amount needed. The next focus will be for acquiring some spending money; I have been doing some ebaying to declutter some stuff from the house, so that will be ramped up in the next few weeks in the attempt to have a clean house before we go as well as some money in our pockets for some treats and days out! I have quite a stash of Tesco Clubcard vouchers so I plan to check out what we can do in the area with some of those....I'm sure there will be something.

Enough wittering for this morning - hope you all have a good day, and thanks for coming back again!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mothering Sunday

(photo from

Blue irises for my mum - they were one of her favourite flowers.

Hope you all have a good day xx

Friday, 16 March 2012

Gaining weight

Not the EFG, she has stayed the same this week but that is not what this post is about!

No, the Sealed Pot challenge from SFT's blog is what I am talking about today - I have no record of how much money I have put into my tin, but I am very happy that it is getting heavier! I weighed it last night and it recorded a weight of 720g, which means nothing in terms of actual cash, but I thought that if I Weighed it now and again, it would encourage me - I think it is almost a third full! Feeling optimistic that there will be enough to do something good with for my birthday, anyway.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A moment to treasure

I was driving to Wisbech last night through the Fens, and there are ditches or dykes alongside the roads out there. The moon was bright but kept disappearing behind clouds and then coming out again - and the most glorious sight occurred: a beautiful white barn owl swooped up out of the dyke and flew alongside the road for a few seconds before whirling round and going back the way it had come as I drove off. The moonlight was reflected on its plumage and it was a truly amazing picture!

I wished I had been able to take a photograph, but you just have to imagine....

Monday, 12 March 2012

A jolly good day

Yesterday was amazing!

Glorious sunshine
Friends visiting
Dad coming round for a cuppa
A baptism at church
Lots of chatting after the service
Cleaning out all the chooks - very satisfying
Friends winning two rosettes at Crufts on Saturday
Girls making a bike dash to the village shop for sausages
An impromptu BBQ with an old disposable BBQ
Sausages in buns with salad
Marshmallows roasting near the embers
Warming our toes over the dying coals
Wrapped up in rugs and chatting together
Seeing two very bright stars in the west and finding out that they are planets
Getting the school ironing done
Watching the last in the series of Wild At Heart
Lots of snuggling on the sofa with the girls
Sinking into bed quite exhausted and finishing off my library book!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Trying again

I haven't got a list of meals to share yet as with the children being off colour, the meals haven't been particularly inspiring, and the EFG in particular has been off her food this week. She has still recorded a 2lb loss this morning, but having lost more in previous weeks, she felt disappointed with that. I know that when you don't eat a lot, your body holds on to what it has got, so I will be encouraging her to eat more this week!

The sun is shining gloriously here just now, although we have had showers and cloud on and off all morning. Hope you all have a great weekend xx

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

And slapped again...

The YFG has woken up with symptoms this morning, so they must have both caught it at a similar time rather than the YFG catching it from the EFG. As I write, they are both fast asleep!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


The EFG has got slap cheek, the viral infection - I haven't been beating her up! She had very rosy cheeks this morning and felt rather off-colour, so I rang the school and told them that I wasn't sure what the matter was, but I wouldn't be sending her in on the bus. I gave her an antihistamine, in case it was an allergic reaction to something - she's allergic to horses and cats so we know what that looks like in her, and I am have an allergic reaction on my face if I eat fresh cherries - and she held a cold flannel on her face. The school advised me to speak with the doctor's surgery, who confirmed that the slap cheek virus has been reported locally, so they diagnosed her over the phone!

She'll be off school tomorrow as well, but I hope she'll be back at the coal face on Thursday. The doctor told us that once the rash has appeared she is no longer contagious and could go to school, but she feels quite rough, so I am not rushing her back.

The EFG went to the climbing wall at the local activity centre with the Guides last night - it was subsidised so it only cost £2.50 to us, which was excellent value for money. It wiped her out though and she didn't come to gymnastics tonight.

Hope you are all well!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Meals for the EFG

I will keep a note of the meals that the EFG eats this week, and then I can share and pass on ideas.

Tonight the rest of the family has had a mince mixture (like bolognaise for spag bol) with rice and broccoli, but she has had a sort of pancake made from 2 eggs, beaten up and then just poured into the flattest frying pan and allowed to cook through. I then put it onto a baking dish, put a couple of spoonfuls of mince onto one side of it and flipped the other side over it and sprinkled some grated cheese over it, popped it under the grill for a couple of minutes and hey presto - a savoury pancake which she had with some broccoli. She said it was nice!

For Rainbowchild and others

Rainbowchild asked about the regime that the EFG is using for her weightloss. I am sharing it here, but feel free to ask questions if you want.

I will say now that I am not opening up a debate about the health, safety, scientific proof, efficacy or anything else of this particular regime - I am JUST sharing information.

The rules we are following work like this:
  • Fruit only on an empty stomach (first thing in the morning or at least a couple of hours since the last food eaten)
  • Carbohydrates eaten only with non-fat foods. NOT with proteins or fats. Carbohydrates should be wholegrain, so we are using wholemeal pasta, and wholemeal bagels/bread. I would be using brown rice if the EFG would eat rice!
  • Proteins can be eaten with fats, and with vegetables. NOT with carbs.
  • There should be at least three hours between meals of different sorts - so between carb based and protein based meals for example.
  • No sugar.
So a typical day for the EFG might go like this:

  • Breakfast - omelette made with a couple of eggs, cheese and bacon.
  • Mid morning snack - fruit
  • Lunch at school - smorgasbord collection of raw veggies, salad stuff and cheese/cold meat type of meal
  • Snack at home time - a re-run of lunch as a salad on a plate, perhaps lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cress, hard boiled egg.
  • Tea with the family - whatever we are having modified slightly - bolognaise (mince, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onion, etc) but with veggies instead of with spaghetti; roast meat (chicken, pork, etc) with veggies; etc
  • Supper - wholemeal bagel with Quark and chopped onion; wholemeal bread with salad and fatfree dressing; wholemeal pasta with salad veg/veg and fatfree dressing.
There are a lot of vegetables and salads, a fair amount of protein and fat, and not that much carbohydrates in this case.

It works for the EFG and we will continue for a while with this regime. On Friday evenings we get home from gymnastics at about 8pm, and she is allowed to have whatever she wants for her tea, and a sweet treat if she wants one.

If something like this helps others, good luck. At the moment we are following this pretty strictly and using simple recipes. I know that there is a lot of scope for using more interesting recipes to develop this as a longer term lifestyle. It is likely that the EFG will have to avoid sugar as a lifelong choice in order to help her insulin levels. I just hope that when the doctor reviews her again, he notices the difference!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Proud mum feeling

The EFG has achieved a further 5lb loss this week, and I am SO proud of her. She chose some Ben & Jerry's cookie dough flavour ice cream for her treat for tonight, and she certainly deserves it! She is allowed a treat on a Friday night, so that she has something to look forward to, and it is a little splurge from the rules of the regime. Last week she had a few oven chips with her chicken, which would not normally have been allowed, before having a little ice cream. You have to have a little treat now and again!

I just wish I had her backside isn't getting any smaller....

We are on our Co-op bandwagon for March, and are planning to save more money for the holiday payment at the end of the month - we have until the 22nd, I think, to get together about £700. It is a good job I like a challenge! I have paid off the credit card bill which had the two car insurance payments on it - bad timing that they both went on the same month's bill - I'll have to try to spread it out a bit further next year. I do prefer to pay those in one annual payment rather than having dribs and drabs going out of the account each month.

There was a meeting at school last night for the EFG and I - we received her school exam timetable for her remaining GCSE exams, and found out all the arrangements for study leave. The upshot is that it seems that most of her exams fall before the June half-term, and then after that, she will have one week for further study and then her final two exams fall on the following Monday and Tuesday - and she's done! She seems to be free then from about the 18th June until she starts Sixth form somewhere in early September - whatever will she do? We know that she will have the opportunity to attend induction days for Sixth form, but she is also thinking about getting some work experience in there too.

And the YFG? She's badgering me to allow her to start Ballet...can we fit it in? Do I want to fit it in? Will the FH co-operate with the transportation because it is not that much will it all cost? More thinking about this one required!