Tuesday, 31 March 2009

a whole new level...

...of stress, sadly. Never before have I woken up to find my fists tightly clenched, crushed beneath my body, leaving me with the most incredible ache in my wrists & elbows. And my knees & ankles kill too. I feel like I have aged by 40 years over night. It's truly horrible, and makes cycling an interesting experience.

just playing






Taken with Canon Eos400D

Saturday, 28 March 2009

a memory

As I was browsing the Martha stewart website, I happened upon a photo which brought back a memory which I had no idea was still in the recesses of my mind…funny that as I saw the photo, I was listening to ‘the call’ by Regina Spektor where she sings, ‘let your memories grow stronger and stronger til they’re before your eyes…’

The photo was of a large oak tree with a custom made bench that had been built around the circumference of the tree.

In that instant I was taken back to an afternoon 5 years ago when I was on a tour of the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne, Australia. We had stopped for a break & I remember shafts of much-welcomed sunlight coming gently through the branches of the tree that we sat under. There was a wooden slatted table which one of the guys who was on the same tour as me was lying on. Just a young guy whose outer appearance & style was one of a man who cares passionately about the earth. He was the one member of the tour party who did some form of meditation when we reached the summit of a hill overlooking the south coast of Australia. That was my memory. Not one of any lasting significance, other than that it was one of a million pieces that made up a fantastic trip to the other side of the world.


The twelve Apostles


Great Ocean Road from the air


The twelve Apostles...well, a few of them

Thursday, 26 March 2009

today

i have...

heard the wind howling & roaring right into my ears

made 35 scones (27 with the help of 3 year olds)

spent an hour on the phone to the internet man

marvelled at how uncomfortable a child could feel when baking

loved that Pip (who has featured in my stories before) decided after seeing me demonstrate how to make just two stitches with a needle & some wool on Binka, that she wants to 'sew a jumper of my sisters' (her Mum's having twins). When I suggested that perhaps this was a rather ambitious task, she said, 'yeh, maybe I should just sew a ring or a necklace or something.'

planned my running training for the next 6 weeks

and a whole lot of other things in between.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

design

So it has been the case lately that I have suddenly needed a whole lot of fliers & invites designed for various church events. I am very blessed to have two exceedingly gifted brothers who help me out a whole lot more than I ever help them, and time and again come to my rescue. John, thankyou for doing such a wonderful last minute design job yet again this week. You are amazing.

Having been so impressed with some of John's work, a good friend of mine asked if he might be able to design a flier for a charity coffee morning next week. (I know I didn't tell you this John - it would have needed to be done yesterday & I thought two jobs in one day was pushing the limits just slightly.) So, not wanting to inflict more work on my brother, I suggested that we (which I ultimately knew meant 'I') could make one. All we needed to do was take a photo of a cup of coffee, upload to picasa, add some text, and wham, bam, thankyou m'am, we'd have ourselves an invite.

Amazingly, it all worked out. The only downside was that I had to drink a cup of coffee in order to take the photo. Not really a bad thing. Only yesterday, for me, it was a bad thing. I had already had a large coffee with this friend who needed the flier, and one cup is my limit. Anymore and my head will feel like it is trying to take off, and I will not sleep well.

'Decaff?!' I hear you ask. Yes. I'd totally intended on getting decaff, but totally forgot. So I was buzzing like a crazy little bee for far too many hours yesterday evening. And here is the caffeine fuelled goodness that was the cause of my bee-like-ness...


Simple, I know, but hey, it does the job and I like it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

giddy


...is the way that seems to fit the effect the recent splurge of sunshine has had on me. Giddy to the point of signing up to do a 10k run in 7 weeks time. It's amazing the effect a little sunshine & listening to some of my favourite running tracks as I cycle can have on me. While this is the shortest race I will have completed, it will still be no mean feat. Running has just not come naturally to me these last 5 months. The prospect of it has been enough to make me want to cry. So I haven't been running. But I resolve to overcome the mental & emotional battles that have stopped me from running - through prayer & perseverance.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

funny.

I have noticed over the last few days that when I have read the digits '2008', they don't sound right. 2008 sounds like it was a long time ago. Feels like it was a long time ago. Yet we are only two and a half months into 2009. When 2009 started, I did not like the sound of it. '2009' felt like it did not fit. And in some ways I feel like it still does not fit. I do not feel like I have moved on a long way since 2008, yet I find it funny that '2008' doesn't quite fit. Because it's not. I suppose that's why. Hmmm these words seem like slightly innane ramblings from my tired little head. It has been one of those days where I have had no adult conversation. Now, I am sitting in the quiet of my room, feeling the day drawing to a close, and wondering, 'what next?' I don't know. I find it funny that as much as I love this house & this little space I have created to be my home for the time being, I am still not entirely used to it, yet I've lived here for nearly 2 years. The never ending hum from the motorway at night is still not familiar. Not familiar in the sense that it still rouses me from my slumber in an unnatural way, and does not lull me off to sleep. Maybe it's not meant to ever be familiar. I suppose in some ways I am glad that I have not become completely content with the reality of cars speeding past my window at all hours of the day, blaring their horns regardless of the fact that the world around them is sleeping....

I feel like this is the right place to end this post, even though I have not drawn any conclusions from it.

the way it should be

On Sunday evening, my precious friend Hannah and I went for an impromptu hot chocolate at Brown's before church started. My, what good hot chocolate they do.




Need I say more?

...And while we sipped we planned May-time adventures. Oh the fun to come...

oh yes


Yes, dear friends, that blazing fireball that you see before you is the sun. How truly glorious. Yesterday I treasured the fact that it was warm enough for me to sit outside at a lovely cafe where I shared my mozarella & salami panini with a friend. Amazing, that it was warm enough to not need to wear my jacket as I sat under the sun. How wonderful.

Friday, 13 March 2009

the power of the right words + powder paint = red clouds

We've had the powder paint out a lot at school lately, unmixed, just pots of powder, pots of fresh water, and clean paint pallets, ready and waiting for children to come along and seize the opportunities that a blank canvas and a bit of creativity present.

There are some children who are instantly drawn to this kind of activity, and some who are not. One of my boys, let's call him Ollie, is not. However, Ollie loves to work out how things work. This is what makes him tick. In the windy Autumn days, he spent hours outside, experimenting with the hand held colourful windmills, running, twisting and turning at different speeds to see what effect speed had on the rotation of the windmill. When we made a pirate ship, he made a propellor to go at the bottom of a shute, which he then put 'treasure' down in the hope that it would be heavy enough to rotate the propellor. In everything he does, he is thinking about how it all works.

On Tuesday, I made it my mission to get him to do some painting with the powder paints. Our conversation went a little like this:

Hannah: 'Hey Ollie, I'd like you to come and do some painting with me.'
Ollie: 'Well, painting's not really my favourite thing.'
Hannah: 'I know it isn't, but I was thinking, you know how you love to think about how things work?
Ollie looks at me, his face lights up, and life comes into his eyes
Ollie: Yes!?
Hannah: 'Well, I think you'll find these paints really interesting, because we have to mix two different things together to make it into paint, and I think you'd love to try and work out how it all changes to become paint!'
Ollie: Ok!!

So, Ollie and I had a lovely time mixing colours and talking about why colours change when you paint a new colour over the top of them. Ollie then said,
'Maybe this is where I will have to come and play at group time.'

NB: 'Group time' is when we tell the children where we want them to play, and they have to stay there for the duration of group time.

Seizing upon Ollie's new found interest, I suggested to his group leader that maybe she could send him to the painting table at group time so he could experiment more.

...I realise this is a slightly long-winded story...sorry...

So, that's where he went at group time.
Being the little explorer and investigator that he is, Ollie managed to find his way into the massive bucket of un-mixed powder paint that lives under the table, and discovered a huge lump of the powder that had got stuck together. So, his attention had been averted from what he was supposed to be doing.
I encouraged him to start mixing his paint, then carried on with the activity that I was doing with my group of children. Shortly after, I became faintly aware of a banging sound. As it continued, my suspicions started to rise, so I turned around to see where it was coming from. It was at this point that I realised the whole of our end of the classroom had become shrouded in a red cloud. My eyes fell on Ollie who was banging his red-stained hands on the table, which was producing the ever-growing red cloud, as he was adding more and more powder to his paper, using his hands as the tools instead of paintbrush and water.
I had to smile, because once again, Ollie's curious cause-and-effect nature had come out once again.

The end learning product of Ollie's group time session? We can make red clouds.

Children are brilliant.

children's creations




On Monday, one of the girl's at school presented me with these two pictures, proudly exclaiming, 'I did these for you!'
There's something truly wonderful about children's drawings, and something even more wonderful when they are created with you in mind.
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Wednesday, 11 March 2009



As I left school yesterday afternoon the view in front of me was this - sunlight bursting forth. The view behind was the total opposite. Sky almost black, looming clouds brimming with fat drops of rain. I was very grateful that the view all the way home was this bright sunshine, so bright that I could not see where I was going properly, allowing me to forget about the darkness.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

a little story

Today, one of my girls at school (ok, I probably shouldn't refer to her as mine but there's that level of affection there that makes it feel right to put it that way) was sitting at the Graphics table with an empty paper book in front of her, fresh for writing her own story. For a four year old, she's a brilliant writer, but today she was in need of a bit of help. So, she told the story, I wrote and she illustrated.
The story went like this...

'Once upon a time there was a king and a queen in a castle.
Their castle was on a hill where it was quite windy and quite rainy.
The queen just sat there and looked at the king where he was dancing with another friend.
The friend went away and the king sat down on his chair.
The glass broke because the queen said she didn't have any more glasses to drink with.
The end.
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Sunday, 8 March 2009

St Werburghs starting to bloom

finben men

I have never made gingerbread men before. At least, I have no memory of doing so, so if I ever have, it was a long long time ago.

The other day at school, the teacher was reading the children the story, 'you can't catch me!' about the gingerbread man, and I thought, 'aha! A perfect baking opportunity! We can make some of our own!' I knew the teacher would be down with this as she has previously said to me, 'as you seem to like baking, why don't you think of some things we can bake with the children?' What a wonderful offer.

So, yesterday I did a trial run. They're pretty tasty, I have to say, with a lovely texture to them too. The recipe itself was not well written and did not state that the dough would need chilling time.

I had started making the little men shortly before I was due to go to a friend's for a movie night. I was a little sad at the prospect of not getting to finish the gingerbread men off right away, so rather than leave them chilling to the max in the fridge overnight, I wrapped them in cling film and popped the dough into my handbag, along with a cutter, and set off for my friend's house. I had a little chuckle to myself about how this was a slightly odd thing to do, but hey ho, it's fun. You should try it sometime. Make up some dough - bread / cookie / biscuit - any kind - pop it into your bag & take it to a friends' to finish off and share the baking fun.

Here is one of the finished little men...


(The reason for the title of the post is that when I worked in a bakery, the manageress' youngest son used to call gingerbread men 'finben men' when he was a toddler, so I had that name resounding in my head as I baked these little babies.)

I also baked some banana & date loaf yesterday, just for the fun of it. Oh, and granola too because it has been far too long since my taste buds experienced the delights of my childhood cereal.

Friday, 6 March 2009

out of my window part 2




I know this is not a good photo technically speaking, but I like it.

bathed in gold



These were taken mid-flight/walk. (Obviously I was not flying at the time, but 'mid-flight' has more of a ring to it than 'mid-walk'.) On the way home from school. Not to my home, to the children's home. On this particular walk home, we stopped off at the book shop, whose black and white striped canopy is featured in this photo, and I purchased a children's book called 'Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball.' Purchasing children's books has been a bit of a theme this week. My other purchases included:

I am too absolutely small for school. (Charlie&Lola)
Giraffes can't dance
The Night Pirates


Lovely.

Monday, 2 March 2009

new life appearing

I am loving the colour that is starting to appear. just a little bit here and there. letting us know that Spring is on its way.



Wales

This weekend was our Church youth weekend away. We went to Brecon in Wales and stayed up a mountain in a place called Wern Watkin, Llangattock. Everything about the place was beautiful. From the heated stone floors to the woods out the back of the house, to the incredible views of the Welsh valleys. I went on a run yesterday morning, and, as you would expect, the higher up you go, the further you can see. It really was quite amazing. Sadly the sun waited until midday to come out and play, but when it did, my oh my was it wonderful watching the shadows of the clouds dance across the landscape.









Sunday, 1 March 2009

the sky is glowing

Glowing. For the last fourty minutes the sky has been glowing. It is a beautiful sight to behold. The drawn out length of dusk this evening is another sign that Spring is on its way. I feel like I have felt the lack of light more than normal this Winter. The sun came out in all its brilliance today and so I went outside and just stood awhile, staring up at it with eyes closed, soaking in its wonderful warmth.