2016 in review

January

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I kicked off January with a glow-stick dance party with my amazing Americans. It was lush to have a holiday over New Year (and I’m doing it again this year! 9 days to go until I see my tribe)

I also rediscovered my love for journalling and writing in January. I had a rough time as we went through Ofsted right after I got back from my holiday and I found that getting it out on to paper was helpful in processing it all.

February

I spent a lot of time ‘nesting’ in February; lots of self-care was needed after Ofsted! One weekend of half term Heather and I went to “Sent” which is a 20s conference held by our group of churches, Relational Mission. We travelled up to Norwich for the weekend and even though I had a cold and felt awful we had a great time. February ended with a weekend of fun with my mum; she came to stay and we went to watch The Railway Children at the Kings Cross Theatre in London as her belated Birthday or Christmas present. I liked February.

March

 

I was crafty in March – I learned to crochet and made my first blanket for my friend Rosie’s little boy who was born at the end of the month. I also made about 50 paper pompoms for a church ladies’ event and after the event was done I did a mad drive down to Devon to be part of Rebecca’s baby shower. Little nephew arrived about 8 weeks later…

April

 

We went on a family holiday (minus Rebecca and Simeon) to Tuscany, Italy. Lots of walking, stunning views, relaxing with a book… bliss.

May

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I fell in love with this beautiful boy…

June

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A pretty good month…although I don’t recall much significant, apart from turning 27 and being surprising gracious about it?! 27 still feels old but I’m getting used to it

July

I took a little trip to see family in Devon, and stayed at my sister’s to maximise cuddles with my love. It was a heatwave in July and I loved it! Also this month I was very brave and started to lead a small bible study group with some friends. We enjoyed the course so much we are starting another in January 2017

August

 

Of course I had an amazing time with My Americans. It was scorching hot in the States too and we spent a lot of time outdoors, floating down the river or enjoying the deck. I went a little wild and got my first (and only) tattoo, something I had always sworn would never happen! But it did, and I genuinely like and love my little ‘heart and crucifix’ reminder of Jesus’ love.

August was also the month that my brother and Alice got married – I flew back from the US on the Friday and the wedding was on Saturday, so I am impressed with how “with it” I appear to be in the photos!

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September

 

I got stuck into family ancestry discovery – something I plan to blog about soon – and loved finding out about all my long-dead ancestors and their lives. I also enjoyed the beautiful Autumn weather near my office, and started reading at bedtime again, to try and combat insomnia. It seems to have been quite effective which I am truly pleased about

October

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October was awful and I am glad it’s behind me now. This picture sums the whole thing up.

November

I was away from home a lot in November – firstly for my nephew’s dedication ceremony in Plymouth, and then the following weekend at my friends’ house in Banbury. We had such an enjoyable girls’ weekend with lots of laughing, catching up on lives, and drinking tea (and Starbucks)

December

This has been December so far… wrapping up hundreds (and I mean that literally) of gifts which my church donated to the women & children living in the local refuge this Christmas. I got to choose and buy all the gifts, and then spent approximately sixteen million hours wrapping everything. I loved it and they were so pleased to receive them!

December has also been parties galore – 3 just for work!! By the time Christmas day actually comes around I’ll have eaten 5 Christmas meals.

At the time of blogging, I have half a week of work days left (but a whole weeks’ worth of work to do, figures!) before going home to Devon for Christmas weekend – then on 27th I’m flying off to Oregon again and spending New Year and the first 9 days of 2017 with my favourites in the world.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017

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My life, and other ordinary things…pre-Christmas edition

It’s December! Already! How has that happened? I feel like 2016 has gone by much more quickly than previous years, but in other ways it has dawdled along so painfully I’ve wished for 2017 to hurry up and get here. October/November were not so thoroughly wonderful for me… thanks for that, PTSD, but it’s December now, I’m feeling much better, Christmas is almost here and I’m enjoying the cosy life.

Our Christmas tree is up, and looking beautiful.

Sadly our fairy lights went kaput yesterday so I think Norman the Norway Spruce will be light-less for the rest of his little life, as he is way too prickly for me to be reaching in to try and sort the bulbs out. As if I actually know what I’d be sorting. It’s a shame, Norman looked wonderful with his lights on, but it obviously was not to be.

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Check out my advent calendar! (Strictly speaking I’m not using it as such…it’s empty…I have a chocolate one) I bought this in the January sales last year, and was very sad when I couldn’t find the box that it was in. One of the problems of being efficient with storage is sometimes you can’t find the excellent storage spot that you have chosen and have to search every possible place in the whole darn house to find that thing you need.

*Case in point: in August I was looking for my travel adaptor plug. Could I find it, no, so in the midst of my mad dash through Heathrow I had to bolt into Boots and buy a new one. Post-holiday I was looking for somewhere to put my new adaptor, and decided to put it in my tool box, since it’s a tool of sorts. (Yes, I have a tool box. My tools have flowers on them) What else was in my tool box??? My original travel adaptor. So now I have two. Good times.

But back to the cute vintage advent calendar. It’s sitting pretty on my bookshelf and it makes me smile at its’ cuteness.

I love Christmas. For the faith reasons of course but I do also like the festivities that go along with it, the traditions that we make almost without realising, and the meaning we attach to those things.

When decorating our Christmas tree, Heather and I watched Elf, and then later Facebook helpful reminded me that we watched Elf while decorating our tree last year…and the year before that! It’s a silly little thing but I like that we have that tradition.

Tradition means a lot to me, maybe I’ve said that on here before – I can’t remember. For example, our family always has fruit kebabs for Christmas pudding – melon/mango/strawberry/grapes etc with melted chocolate for dipping and smothering and it’s delicious. It only started because none of us wanted actual Christmas pudding or cake after that huge Christmas dinner, but now it’s become our thing…just as much as it’s “my thing” to be the one to put our family Nativity scene together (although now I’m not at Mum’s to decorate, I always have to rearrange it to be my way)

When we were little, our Christmas “traditions” were simple – we always opened our stocking presents on Mum’s bed, and then she’d go downstairs to “check if Father Christmas has been” (i.e. she was making sure she’s put the scissors and wrapping paper away and hidden all signs that she was actually Father Christmas…) so that we could have the surprise of all the presents in our sacks the living room.

We always opened our sack presents from Father Christmas in the living room, usually before breakfast – usually before the sun was even up – and then spent the morning playing with our toys, watching whatever video we’d been given…before getting dressed for church. After church we’d have our Christmas dinner, and then in the afternoon it was time for family presents…presents from Mum, grandparents, each other…these were always under the tree and we’d (I’d) hand them out to everyone and watch them open them.

Christmas traditions have changed in the last few years – my brother and his (now) wife spend their Christmas together at home in Herne Bay, rather than in Devon, and my sister and her husband alternate Christmasses between Plymouth and Guildford (he has family there) Last Christmas there were just four of us and a dog on Christmas day…a few Christmasses before that, I hosted in Canterbury and Jonathan and Alice joined us, with Mum and Abigail coming to stay with me. That was the year Abigail was recovering from her surgery but my *wonderful* boss insisted that I was on call, meaning I couldn’t go home to Devon so they all had to come up to me.

This year will be our first Christmas with a baby. Little Ezra will be 7 months old and we’re doing the majority of Christmas day at his house (my sister and brother-in-law’s house, of course) because babies need their accessories and also, my mum’s house is not big enough for our tribe.

See, there’s a bunch of us! Aren’t we cute.

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I’m also hoping for lots of time with the little blond love … who is not such a baby anymore…she’s a big girl of 7 years old who is in her first Pantomime starting tonight!

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Hey…back on track. Traditions.

Since I’m a grown up now, living the free and single life, I’ve also started a tradition of my own… New Years in Oregon! Last year I flew out to the States on Dec 29th and stayed until the 8th January. This year I’m flying out on the 27th (because I was able book the last few work days of December off, so I can have 5 days with family and then my holiday) and I won’t be back in the UK until the 9th January 2017! I’m so excited. My friend Rachel said they had their first snow yesterday and even though it didn’t settle I am hoping there’ll be lots more to come while I’m there. (Maybe even enough to snow me in?!?!)

I should probably end here… I have tons more Christmas present wrapping to do and I’m having a Frozen movie night with my first-and-original little niecelet Emily who is 3 today!

Let’s just end by focusing back to the reason for the Season – through each part of the Christmas build up that I’m gleefully enjoying right now, all my odd and self-imposed traditions, I am trying to ensure that I focus on Jesus as the centre of my joy. I’m doing advent Bible readings, and lots of my decorations are faith-related (angels, stars, hearts – Jesus’s love, ya know – nativity scenes…) and in the midst of all the glitter, and decorations, and twinkly lights, I’m remembering the greatest Gift that was given and being oh-so-thankful that because of his Love I get to have this never-ceasing Joy. Hallelujah Amen!!

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