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

-x-

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Spring into Summer… hello again

I love summer. I love early sunrises, late sunsets, sunshine in general. Of course, since I live in England it’s actually hit and miss whether you get the sunshine but it’s completely appreciated and adored when we do. (Last week we had a 27 degree bright & sunny afternoon, followed by torrential rain and flash floods a few days later. Variety is the spice of life)

WordPress has reminded me (prompted me, elbowed me in the ribs…nudge nudge) that I have only posted about 7 times in the last year. That is shocking. Sorry, if you happen to actually read my ramblings and have anything like a vague passing interest. I wish I could say it’s because life is so exciting I have no time, but that would be a lie. Life can be exciting, but I certainly could make more time for this little blog of mine. Otherwise what’s the point? And, as said many times before, I actually do like writing.

So, here’s a little update for you. Spring…into Summer… told in photos, since I am addicted to Instagram. [Current favourites include #embossing videos, #cakedecorating videos, sarcastic memes and pictures of dogs)

March

You already know from my last post that I did the mad Devon-dash (that’s what I’m calling it from now on, I foresee it happening a lot on my future now that a wee person has arrived, more on that later…)

But March also had some lovely family time with the non-pregnant siblings. We went to Tuscany on the 26th, the first family holiday we’ve had in five years and the first time Abigail has been abroad in 11 years. Poor girl. One day she can be a jetsetter like me 🙂 I had to drive in Tuscany, for some ridiculous reason, but managed not to kill my entire family plus Abigail’s friend Melissa who came with us. So that was good.

We stayed in a villa I found on Air BnB and the only drawback was that the pool wasn’t open yet. It was gorgeous and in the most beautiful, peaceful surroundings. So relaxing to just hang out at home and rest, colour, crochet, sleep, read…do jigsaws… we loved it.

We had day trips to Florence and Pisa, getting the train from our nearest town into the city centres – way better than the prospect of driving! Abigail and I were the only ones brave enough to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an experience I certainly will never repeat. You can’t tell from the photo but I’m clinging to her for dear life and trying not to throw up.

Also, we walked MILES. With frequent stops for ice-cream, but MILES.

April

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I did some dreaming in April, and found all these pretty quotes and images online which made up a sweet phone background for a while. It’s nice to not always have your feet on the ground, right?

Not much happened in April…

I started watching the TV show “Full House”12987980_10157034838650122_846505130_n.jpg

Super exciting, I know. I actually only started because I watched the first episode of “Fuller House” on Netflix and despite all the hype it made no sense to me because I hadn’t seen the original. Now I’m up to season 6… #bingewatching    It’s stupidly easy to watch and have on in the background. Not a lot of concentration is generally required, which is good.

 

Also in April, this absolutely fabulous bruise occurred:

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There is a story behind this bruise. I’m not normally in the habit of displaying my injuries but this one was fairly epic…those pictures show the progression over a few days but it was still bruised 3 weeks later.

So, what happened was: I was hanging out with my friends Debbie and Aaron. You remember them, they have Emily and Eli. Well, Aaron has a bakery business now and bakes AMAZING things from their humble little kitchen. Check him out at http://www.beardybaker.net ! (shameless plug)

Anyway. On this day we were all in the kitchen and the children were playing… brownies were cooling on the top of the movable island that they have in the kitchen. Somehow one of the children managed to knock the island and the brownies – still hot from the oven – toppled over, almost landing on top of Eli’s head! I say ALMOST eecause thanks to us three quick reacting adults we managed to get the children out of the way and the brownie became affectionately known as ‘floor brownie’ (still good)

But unfortunately for this quick reacting adult, I had to slide off a wooden stool in order to get to the baby and in doing so did some kind of injury to my leg! Totally worth it to save small child/ren from molten brownie but OUCH

Moving on…. also in April I learned to make macarons, and tried my hand at painting furniture. I had a pine frame bed, and a pine desk – both of which had been given to me for free, and which I was growing to hate because they were different shades of pine! Cue paintbrush 🙂 I have since also painted four black dining chairs to match them to our dining table and they look great too. Having a white bed and desk has transformed my room and I had a lot of fun! #makedoandmend

Impressive, no? I couldn’t find a recipe to get the macaron filling the same as it is in the shops, but I was still so stupidly pleased with myself that I almost cried when I got them out of the oven!

May

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Just a fun photo of me 🙂 Actually I had a very random day in London this month. I was virtually order to attend a meeting, in Wembley, but when it came to it I turned up and they had cancelled the entire thing and not told me! Helpful. Since I’d blocked out my day to attend, and my work phone died, I ended up just mooching around London for a little while until my train home… hence the smoothie and sunnies.

Sometimes, these odd things happen in the social work life.

The second most exciting thing that happened in May, is this:

BYE HAIR!13227988_10157173626930122_2002220906_n.jpg

The boldest hair decision I’ve ever made! There was so much hair on the floor. The stylist was really excited, the lady behind me was freaking out… it was very exciting. It has taken a little while to adjust to it, particularly not putting it in a ponytail to go swimming. Every so often I catch sight of myself in a mirror and have to do a double take, but I’m loving people’s reactions (and compliments, won’t lie) It’s something I’ve thought about for years but never been brave enough and I finally decided, hey, it’s hair, it’ll grow back. There are way worse things that could happen.

But now, the most exciting thing that happened in May…….. Baby Ezra has arrived!

Baby! Sunday 22nd June, weighing 9lb 9oz. Isn’t he sweet? Jonathan and Alice and I did the Devon Dash on Friday 27th (Abigail’s birthday) and came back on Sunday… only a short trip to meet him but we had a good weekend, and lots of cuddles.

I officially now have seven babies in my life, with names beginning with E… it’s a good letter!

June….. will have to wait for another day, it’s only halfway through!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little photo update of joy… see you soon

-x-

 

 

 

Back again…this time for good (I hope)

Hello.

I am back again after yet another prolonged blogging break.

To be quite honest, I have thought about writing a blog post countless times (at least once a week) but that has never actually evolved into a physical blog post. I’m sorry if you are following (or lurking) and have been waiting for a post with any kind of anticipation.

The truth is that life has been quite overwhelming lately and I just haven’t known how to put anything into words and not have it turn into a frustrated-at-the-world rant which would a) not achieve anything but prove that I know a lot of angry words, b) be quite unnecessary, and c) not glorify God in the slightest – which is the best reason I can find for having “held my tongue” over the past few months.

As the ever-so-wise Thumper rabbit said:

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Or as the writer of Ephesians said: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Plus, everytime I watch the news I am saddened and horrified and humbled that my problems are so insignificant compared to the problems faced by others in the world right now, and I feel a bit ashamed of myself. My problems feel very real to me but I am aware of their insignificance and sometimes that helps me re-focus my prayers where they need to be.

All I seem to do in the last few entries is write a blurby-overview of what has been happening in the long intervals between posts and then make an empty promise to post more frequently. Sorry. I won’t do that again – promise, that is – I am definitely going to blurby-overview my last few months. Beware, many photos ahead!

Here’s what’s new with me:

Home …

Bingley Palace

As of August 1st I am an official resident of the “Bingley Palace” and it is quite lovely. It was a very difficult transition – emotionally, rather than practically (thank you Moving Men!). I found it very difficult to pack all the *stuff* in my sweet little house into boxes and decide what I got to take with me and what had to be donated/stored. I lived with chaos and boxes for weeks and I hated it.

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This is my 11th move in 16 years and for some reason it hurt me more than any of the others. I think because I had really felt that my little house was a gift from God and a chance to finally settle…and it turned out not to be the settling-place. I had to fight not to be angry or annoyed at God for allowing me to feel that connection to the little house, and then letting it be taken from me – instead I had to choose to be incredibly grateful to God for providing the Bingley Palace (it already had the nickname before I got here!) and 2 sweet Christian girls to live with.

I have lived here for almost 4 weeks now and it feels like home. Although I often forget where I live and on several occasions have driven halfway to my old house, I am already seeing the opportunities that God is giving me in this place, and I am beyond pleased to have housemates again. Heather and Emma – you are wonderful already.

Work…

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Ofsted is pending. And that’s all I need to say.

Family…

Jessica newborn

This tiny bundle of gorgeousness starts school next week, and turns 5 in 6 weeks time. I don’t feel like I have had enough preparation for this moment.

Jessica June 2014

This is her on holiday a couple of months ago. She loves Frozen (who doesn’t?!)

I am hoping to go home for a weekend in September to celebrate her birthday. I haven’t seen her since June and it aches.

Other family news is that my sister and brother-in-law graduated University in July. Mum and Abigail drove up to Bangor from Plymouth and Jonathan and I were both able to take time off work to join them for a few days. We were able to watch her graduation on live stream (hats off to Bangor Uni for that!) as there were only enough tickets for Mum and Simeon to sit in the ceremony, but it was very special. It was fantastic to see my little sister get her degree (a FIRST!) and to see the place she has lived in for the past 3 years.

rebecca graduation screenshot

Chester Zoo

We also had a fun day out at Chester Zoo which was equally, but differently, fantastic!

Life in general…

I had a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend, thanks to my incredible friends. I went to visit Rachel and Phil who are now living in Peterborough and expecting their first baby in 4 weeks time. It was a very peaceful few days; lots of tea and cake, board games, movies, and chatting about the baby. I was able to completely shut off from thinking about work and just enjoy re-connecting with my bestest Uni friend. I went to their church on Sunday and it was a really great service. I felt connected to God and enjoyed meeting their friends.

Bank Holiday Monday was a wash-out (torrential rain ALL day) but I didn’t mind because Rosie and I had planned a sewing day, and we spent many happy hours transforming a dress of hers into a skirt. I taught her how to sew on the machine and it was very quaint and civilised. We also watched the film Safe Haven which was traumatic and there were tears shed. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Or at least make sure you have tissues and a friend handy.

i have a new car! It’s pretty swanky and I rather like it. After the small incident with my Corsa I didn’t feel very confident in driving or parking it – what if something else decided to fail with no warning?! I decided to explore the mystical world of Car Finance and am now the proud sort-of owner of a “Silky Shadow Green” Astra. It feels much larger than the Corsa…the size of a tank in fact – but it is safe and mostly clean (I left a window open by mistake and half a tree got in) and it drives like a dream. So I like it.

I’m getting married.

Jokes! I am still very much single. No, I went to my colleague’s wedding reception – and caught the bouquet! There were only 5 of us (plus a 4 year old) in the running so the odds were pretty good. It is a very pretty bouquet and is still a little bit alive in my living room. 

Long Wedding - bouquet

I’m watching the BAKE OFF!!! I love this programme. It is so calming, despite the baking tragedies which occur. I love the pastel colours and the measuring and the commentary and the contestants little quirks and oddities. I love Norman whose pesto is exotic, and Richard who measures everything, and Chetna who uses so many spices I can almost smell it through the TV. I mostly love Martha because I decided in Week 1 that she was the Christian contestant – and then yesterday I found out that she is! And she goes to a New Frontiers church and is a baker/fundraiser for Teafund which is doubly and tripley awesome. I had hoped to make something from the Bake Off each week…but my excitement waned. I basically didn’t want to make florentines or any kind of biscuit…and then last week’s break week was throughly uninspiring, but watch this space. I am quite pleased with my Swiss Roll from Week 1!

swiss roll

And finally: my current excitement…

Mum and I are going on holiday on Saturday! It is quite alast-minute, but much needed, 5 day/4 night break to Prague in the Czech Republic. A few weeks ago I had a bit of a meltdown and decided I needed to do something radical, like cut off all my hair or get a tattoo, otherwise I would go absolutely crazy with my life. Fortunately my reasonable side kicked in and decided it would be a good idea to book a holiday – so I did! Mum and I fly out of Heathrow at silly-o-clock on Saturday morning and get back on Wednesday evening. We went to Majorca together 2 years ago and it was such a fun time, just the 2 of us.

Sometimes you just need to get away from things for a little while, you know?

I know I said I wouldn’t promise…but I will try to get back into blogging. I do miss it really!! I hope you have enjoyed the little update. It has been a nice way to pass the evening, and a good reminder that despite the stresses and anxieties, there is a lot of GOOD going on in my life.

-x-

 

 

misdirected emotions

I am a great example of how to display an emotion completely separate from what I m actually feeling. I have written before that I can be an ostrich when it comes to emotions and feelings but I also have a knack for completely dwelling on something minor as a way to distract myself from what I’m really feeling.

Case in point: about 2 hours ago I said goodbye to my wonderful American friends. I just about held the tears back as the kids all got emotional and as they prayed for me and told me their favourite things about my visit. I felt so sad to be leaving that I wanted to tell Rachel to turn the car around and I would just stay forever!

(But of course I didn’t and I said goodbye at the bus stop with a huge knot in my tummy and a lump in my throat from trying so hard not to lose it)

So then I spent an hour on the bus trying not to cry, reading my Bible and praying and looking at pictures. By the time I got to the airport I still felt sad but I was thankful for my time with the Libbys.

Then I checked in and my bag was too heavy and I had to pay the excess fee and instead of being my usual practical self and rearranging items between my carry-ons to make my check-in lighter I just went ahead and paid the whole charge! Which left me kicking myself all through Security for not making a wise decision.

Of course, I got so frustrated with myself over it because I didn’t want to think about what I was missing with Rachel and the kids.

I really had to fight to let go of that frustration and not let it take away from the joyful time I’ve had. Seriously, I’ve just had 2 wonderful weeks with some of my favourite people and I’m going to dwell on an insignificant thing like paying a baggage charge?!

How could my heart and head be so ungrateful so suddenly. It honestly took a lot of prayer and thanking God for all blessings of the last two weeks to make me see that while yes, maybe I made a silly split second decision, but it was even sillier to let it spoil my heart.

In the end I was thanking God that he provided me with enough spending money in my purse that I could pay the charge in cash and still have enough for a Starbucks while I wait for my boarding time. He didn’t have to provide that, but He did, because He loves me.

One thing I am taking away from this experience is to always have a thankful heart even when you feel silly or frustrated with your situation, because there are too many blessings to count if you look for them.

The other thing I am taking away from this is to be more wware of what I am feeling and why. This has always been a thing for me, and I have to constantly examine myself: what am I feeling, why am I feeling that way? But now I also need to challenge myself to change my attitude if it is not right and focused on God.

Such deep thoughts whilst sat at Gate D11. I have another hour or so until my flight starts boarding so I think I will head around the concourse in search of that Starbucks!

-x-

being Auntie Sarah

How cute is this little cherub? Emily is the absolutely charming and lovely 12 week old daughter of my friends Aaron and Debs. In the last few weeks she has really developed her own sweet personality…and has also suddenly begun looking like Debs! I am so privileged to be Auntie Sarah to this sweetie. Rest assured I did campaign incredibly hard for her to be named Sarah…alas she is not a baby Sarah, but Emily May is a true joy!

I don’t thank God enough, but what a blessed girl I am, to get to be Auntie to some lovely little ones.

I am counting down the days until I get to see my other little niece-lets and nephew over in the USA. Just 18 days to go. I’m so excited, but also so unprepared…I have a ton of things to do and really need to get going with them:
…travel insurance
…ESTA (tourist visa)
…exchanging money

As well as general life stuff too! For today though, I am resting resting resting since I got barely 4 hours of sleep last night.

Catch you later

-x-

Tired. Just tired.

This is me. A sleepy little pug who needs a cosy warm bed, but could equally fall asleep on bare floorboards right now.

I have been on call for the past two weeks. In the midst of that, I found out my sister has cancer and went home for 4 days – but I was still on call and dealing with emergencies.

In the past 14 days I have had to manage 3 missing person incidents, four emergency placement moves, two incidents involving the police: one for criminal damage and one for assault, and a child protection investigation.

It’s been so wonderful.

I have no idea what is going on with my kids, or their carers, but I hope something settles down soon. We are due Ofsted any time now and I don’t think my poor little anxiety-girl heart can stand anymore stress.

In good news, I’m getting a back/neck/shoulder massage tomorrow and I am looking forward to it in a way that words cannot even describe!

-x-

I’m still here

Still here…but pretty exhausted.  It’s been a very long week and a half.  Work has gone insane again,  on top of everything with my sister,  so I have worked late twice this week. 

I’m not really sleeping…it takes a long time to get off to sleep and I wake up early…but I’m doing ok.

In other news,  my manager had a baby yesterday! A lovely little girl. And that has made me smile. 

-x-