Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sad Loss

Today I heard some news that hit my heart hard....
Sadly Neil Armstrong aged 82, (5th Aug 1930 - 25th Aug 2012) the first man onto the moon, had lost his fight against heart trouble. He had died following complications to heart surgery he had a few weeks ago.

I actually had grief for someone I don't know.

However in a small way I do know him. Or at least I know about him. I have taken an interest in him.
You see back in 1986 my parents moved to America and why to this day I will never understand, we ended up living in a small city in North West Ohio called Wapakoneta (pronounced Wapa kon eta) also known as Wapak.

It is a small city, pop of just over 9000, located on I75 at junction 111.
Its main claim to is the birth place of Neil Armstrong. It is where he was born on 5th August 1930.
When we lived there in 1986, his parents were both still alive and they lived on the renamed street of Neil Armstrong Drive and they were lovely people, I know I met them.
Well more like I spent sometime with them holding a hosepipe over a ladder whilst people ran the marathon around the town that was part of the annual Race to The Moon.
We held a hosepipe up because the summers in Wapak are hot.
Just today I checked with the local paper and they were in the 90's (about 32c for all of us) so yes hot, but then in the winter they get cold cold and have snow, so from one extreme to another.

It is a small Indian city, where when we lived there I felt time had forgotten it.
Lima is the closest large place and was the place to go for civilisation!
Although you could survive very nicely without ever leaving Wapak.
Kids in typical fashion would complain about the size of Wapak and the lack of up to date activities however many seem to fall back there to live and raise their own families, so it can't be all that bad a place to be.
I have lived in many places during my life and of all the places I have lived, Wapak is the place I left my heart.

So to all my friends in Wapakoneta, Ohio, you are in my thoughts and prayers, as you go through this sad time.
And to everyone else, the next time you see the moon at night, look at it with love in your heart and show a smile or wink for Neil Armstrong, the man who made history but to this day felt he never did anything special apart from just doing his job.

God bless you Neil Armstrong, you will be sadly missed

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Soccer Season

Today, soccer season ends.

No more early Saturday mornings!
No more having to be in 2 places at once!
No more drying soccer boots after Wednesday practice and before Saturdays game on newspaper by the heater!

yes that is fog on a Saturday morning!

No really, I am going to miss soccer season.
We are lucky to have 2 super little players in our family who have happily given their all throughout the season.

They have practiced hard, kicked for all their might, scored the odd goal along the way and saved just as many in their time.
I am proud of what they have achieved in this season and for the way they have grown in their abilities. They have learnt more about team work and team spirit and have shown they have what it takes.
Thank you soccer season 2012, it has been fun. I look forward to 2013 but excuse me whilst I just go off and have myself a great summer first.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I have a friend and school mum, who I will call Angel (cause she is) who along with the rest of her family (husband and kids) foster children.
All I can say is that I am in total awe of Angel and am immensely proud to know her and her family.

This past weekend was however very hard for them.

Let's take a few steps back.....
Last year they started fostering, they had an older girl for a few weeks and then they looked after a 6 month old baby whilst the adoption papers were going through. Angel worked with the new parents to ensure they understood the baby's routine for at least 2-3 weeks prior to the baby leaving them and she was also available to them for a few weeks after to ensure they had a smooth transition.

At the beginning of this year they got a call and were asked to take a 3yr old for a couple of weeks, short version of the story is that it turned out there was a 1yr old sibling as well and the services were going to separate them. Angel said NO, she declared that it was in their best interest to keep the siblings together as long as possible especially as the services were already considering inter family adoption of the siblings separately.
So Angel started appearing at school with 2 extra people in tow.
It shocked our whole world, well the small community of mum's who are all friends because we all have kids the same age. We were shocked because the children were adorable, friendly and full of life. It surprised us that ones so young could have so much spirit after the neglect they had suffered.
However, 6 months later and these 2 little darlings were still in Angel's care! Yep the system was not working really really hard to place them, they seemed happy with the care they were receiving. Which on the one hand is a lovely compliment of Angel and her family but on the other hand not good for the little ones as they really needed to start having a settled permanent life. Now although Angel was working hard to get these children settled she was never happy for them to be taken from their family and placed into another family whilst waiting for adoption, she was determined that they would not be moved around the system too much if she could help it.

So after a lot of communication from Angel to the services they have finally managed to place the older child with extended family. An aunt who lives a long way away from here and has family herself but has the heart to take on 1 more.

This is where the sad part comes in folks......

The 3yr old, who we have all grown to love, who runs up to us and gives us all hugs every time we meet at school, who has had a birthday whilst with us all and is now 4yrs old and has even started to make friends because Angel pushed for the child to attend Kindergarten whilst in her care.
The same little person who when asked how are you? Would answer with either of the following answers "I'm naughty or I'm good"! Has left us all this past weekend. The process finally worked and the child has moved with their aunt.

It was sad. I have never known a community so hit be sadness over the loss of a gorgeous little 4yr old.
They will be sadly missed, we wish them all the best in life, we wish them nothing but happiness and the ability to be a 4yr old from now on, not someone who had to fend for themselves and siblings! We hope all their dreams come closer and they have a happy life.

However, the 18 months old sibling is still with us and I can see further sadness and loss when their finally get placed.
It has definitely been a village effect with these children and we have all been involved and until this past weekend I don't think any of us realised just how much we were involved.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I am a terrible reader, don't get me wrong, I can read! Have been able to since I was about 7yrs old.
I am a terrible reader in that it is all or nothing.

Once I pick up a book then life stops.

I am not the person who reads a little prior to falling a sleep. I am the person who reads a little prior to going to sleep then gets so engrossed in the book that suddenly it is 1am and I am determined to finish the last 2 chapters before I turn the light out.

I am a person who will do everything else around reading.
I will watch the tv but as soon as the adverts come on during the programme I have my book open and I carry on reading.
Same with cooking. I love that the kitchen is not connected to the living room. I can stand and read whilst waiting for something to cook, stopping every now and then to stir the pot.

If I get into a good book and then find that it has another connected to it then I am screwed, as I will want to finish book 2 just as quick as book 1.

I have been known to read myself stupid, so much so that I have then not picked up another book for weeks  due to being read out! At that time the thought of reading a book is the worst thing imaginable.

And just to prove the point, I have just spent the last week reading 5 out of 7 books in a series. Thus the reason why there have been no posts for a week!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weighing In

I am still slowly plodding my weigh (ha ha) through this weight lose.
I have chipped at it week by week and am still enjoying it.

I don't get too much out of the meetings each week but still enjoy going. Only once have I not felt like going to weigh in but at the last minute I decided against not going and rushed in to weigh. I find I feel guilty if I don't weigh, which means that so far I have attended and weighed in every week I have been on the programme. Very proud of myself for that.

I am actually doing really well and thought I would share some stats with you:

  • I have lost 6.2kg (13.67 lbs) to date
  • I have achieved my 5% goal. This is loosing 5% of your starting weight.
  • I have 100g (0.2 lb) to lose to achieve my stone (6.3kg or 14 lb approx.)
  • I have 1.3kg (2.86 lb) to loose to achieve my 10% goal
  • I have only 2.8kg (6.17 lb) to loose to achieve WW Goal.
  • Then I have to maintain for 6 weeks to achieve Life Membership
  • Personally I then still have 2.5kg (5.51 lb) to loose to achieve my personal goal
So life is ticking along at present and all is good.
I am still eating the crap some days but it is not the main thing to eat.

The biggest thing I have learnt from all this:
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Watch your portion sizes, this alone can screw up an otherwise great week
  • Listen to your body when eating. If it says it is full then stop eating!
  • Get enough sensible sleep
  • Get moving......I wear a pedometer everyday now and this is helping me to move more as I must achieve my 10,000 steps per day (ok I am not achieving them but I am getting closer)
I have 5 more weeks of this cycle before I have to start paying to attend, up until now this has been an at work programme that they have paid for. So I have to work hard to achieve goal in that time then I only have to do 6 weeks of maintaining to be a life member and not have to pay anything. Yea me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


This past weekend I found some new blogs, this all came about because Rinda, who organised the scavenger hunt I am currently undertaking, did a catch up
This allowed us (all 70 of us) to link up with her and go and view what the others had been photographing for the hunt.

One blog I got to reading mentioned about being 17, at the time she was 17 but everyone else that linked up to the post were writing about when they were 17.
This got me thinking to when I was 17, to when I turned 17, which if I have to be honest is just coming up to 25 years ago! Yes I turned 17 in 1987.

When I turned 17 my parents were living in America in Ohio.
My brother was with them going to Junior High and I was in England at boarding school on my own.
I was just starting my last year of my O Levels, yes I was in the group of students who were the last to complete O Levels, everyone after us took GCSE’s.

I was loving life and having a lot of fun. I was loving school where I was taking my normal courses plus singing in the choir, playing the clarinet. I remember during this year going on choir trips to other schools to sing evensong.

I remember that when I flew back to school after Christmas I got stranded at Newark Airport about an hour before my flight was due to leave. It had started to snow and the flight from the day before had been cancelled. I was not a happy traveller when I managed to get in touch with my dad before my flight left.

The Easter after I turned 17 my parents were not sure if they were going to be in the US so I stayed in England for the holidays on my own and travelled around to stay with relatives and friends. I got to stay wherever I wanted, I planned my itinerary and had a wonderful time travelling between people and staying a few days.

When the school year finally ended my parents were still in America so I flew over there ready to go to High School. I got to go to Band Camp ready to start the new school year and had a great summer hanging out with friends I already knew in the small town we lived in.
Sadly I never made it to High School, immigration caught up with my dad and gave us 7 days to leave the country. It was a great 7 days too.

So there is a sneaky view of my life coming up to 25 years ago.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Has the Olympics sparked any memories for you?
One of the events I love in the summer Olympics (and I don't like many as I love the winter Olympics much more) is the equestrian events.
The show jumping and the cross country in the 3-day event is enough to have me glued to the tv for the entire event.

They actually do a 3-day event in Auckland at the beginning of December. Steve and I have been once or twice, think we may have to go again one year and take the boys. It is such fun.

Anyhow, back to my memories......the equestrian events make me think of an amazing film that I loved as a child, must have been a child as it was made in 1978.

 International Velvet

That wonderful sequel to National Velvet

I was never into National Velvet, although when you look at it today and see the wonderful cast involved, I am amazed at who was in it Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Angela Landsbury all as young children.

However I loved the sequel International Velvet. The story of a young girl Sarah, who is orphaned by a car accident and goes to live with her aunt, Velvet Brown (yes a now grown up). She still has her famous horse Pi and when a foal is born of Pi's Sarah falls in love with the foal and names him Arizona Pi and what follows is her story of horse riding and eventually attending the Olympics for the British Team.

It contains some amazing actors:
Nanette Newman plays the aunt, Velvet Brown

Her partner in the movie is non other than a young Christopher Plumber

The other main character is Captain Johnson, the horse riding coach who is played by the wonderful Anthony Hopkins, a very young Hopkins I might add

The young niece, Sarah is played by Tatum O'Neal and she does a great job, seeing as the whole movie is based around her.

Now you do have to remember, if you ever get the chance to watch this movie, that it was made in England in 1978, it is old and will show in the style of movie and the acting. However it is a lovely story and will sadly be one that you require a box of tissues for, because even though there are sad parts the happy parts will have you reaching for a tissue just as fast. It is heart warming.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


To the 2 newest members of our family
Banana Monkey and Tigress

Via Creating Paper Dreams I found Lizzie Made who had a small tutorial on how to make sock monkeys. Next thing I know I have brought some socks and was starting to make one, however he got adopted twice in the space of 5 mins so when finished I had to quickly make a 2nd. Not bad for 1 afternoons creations. Although I do now have socks to make cousins and friends so watch this space for more additions....!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Sad but Proud

Today is my baby brother's birthday (my only brother).

My brother and I at my wedding in 2008
He turns 40, yes he is now a big boy and can officially join the ranks of adulthood.
He has survived, he has made it. He has fallen down and broken things, fractured things and crashed things but he is still here and is alive & kicking his way forward.
I am very proud of most of the things he has done and achieved over the years, ok there a few down right stupid things he has done but we will forgive him those minor indiscretions.

This also means that it is a sad day for my parents as both of their kids are now in their 40's and that means their kids are no longer babies, to some extent (although I know it never stops) their job is done. Although I think we both still have mum on speed dial.
They can both be very proud that they have grown 2 super children to adulthood. They have gotten us both through the trials and tribulations of childhood, university, first loves, 2nd loves and even 3rd, 4th and 5th loves!
They have watched us move countries, leave their side and grow by ourselves.
They have been there to support us when we finally found the 'one' and celebrate us both getting married.

Iain, Mum, me and Dad
As my brother and I are both very obliging, we have happily produced 4 grandsons between us (sadly no girls) and they know have the pleasure of watching us grow these little people, although they are not so little either ranging in age from 7 to 11.

So happy birthday to my brother, may you survive another 40 years and just keep on growing with age.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Have you joined yet?
Word of can be addictive!

I am going to have to live to well over 100 to manage to achieve all the things I have posted that I would like to make, see, cook, read, watch!!

However I have made a very small step towards that and made this recipe the other night when I had a girls night.
I made this creamy hot chocolate, seeing as it is winter here then having this cooking on such a cold night was just perfect

This picture and recipe came from Mrs Happy Homemaker


1.5 cups cream
1 14oz can Condensed Milk
6 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Mix altogether with whisk in the crock pot on low, stir occasionally, let cook for 2 hours on low.
Serve in mugs with marshmallows on top

I found this amazingly over sweet, the condensed milk just sent it too much over the sweetness edge for my liking, and my diabetic husband nearly had to take more insulin after just 1 little mouthful of this!
If I was making this again, which I definitely will do, I will omit the condensed milk and add an extra 1/2 cup of cream.
Apart from that this has a yum factor of at least 100.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Mid Way Catch Up

We are now in August and this scavenger hunt is halfway through.
Would you believe there are apparently now nearly 70 of us taking part in this! There are some awesome pictures popping up all over the place.

So how are you doing? Having trouble achieving any of them?
I am more than halfway through which is encouraging, although only just at 12/21
I have decided to list each item and add a link to the post if competed.

  1. A pier
  2. A clothesline - 1st item I found
  3. A border 
  4. A roadside stall selling something
  5. A train
  6. A historical landmark
  7. A person playing a musical instrument 
  8. A person dressed as an angel or a statue of an angel - may have to start visiting churches and statues to find this one!
  9. A fountain
  10. A horse - would have thought I would have completed this one by now!
  11. A shadow
  12. A maze, labyrinth or trail
  13. A library
  14. Someone playing with a ball
  15. Someone dancing
  16. A bride
  17. A church, chapel, cathedral, mosque or temple
  18. A movie poster 
  19. An outdoor stairway
  20. A swing hanging from a tree (or hammock)
  21. A picture of you standing with something that symbolizes your nation
This has turned into a great way to pass my winter, as New Zealand is down under and it is winter time for us. The family have also enjoyed helping me find items to picture.
They are always asking me what is on the list? I put the list on my phone so I had it with me at all times to refer to when out somewhere, very helpful.

Easiest Items to Find

Clothesline - as there is one in my back garden
Library and fountain - as these are both in the same area downtown

Simple Ones I Should have Achieved by Now

A horse - I live in a huge farming area and there are horses everywhere you turn
A movie poster - we have at least 3 cinemas in Hamilton, just shows how often I don't go!

Hardest Items to Find

A bride - it is winter time so brides are not exactly popping out at present but come December January and they will be everywhere
A person dressed as an Angel or a statue - the Cathedral didn't have an angel so will have to keep looking

Item I Wish I Could get a Better Picture of

Historical landmark - have found a place that is on an historical heritage trail showing you places of history to the town, but it is nothing that is widely known around the world. Would like to have found something better to take a picture of, something more significant.

Item I May Not Achieve

I would say probably #8 person dressed as an angel or statue of an angel, but apart from that I should achieve them all. Hopefully no having to find a heart shaped stone or four leaf clover for me!

Well I look forward to visiting you to see all the wonderful fun you have been having this summer so far.
Remember if you are not part of this hunt then you can always still join in. You just have to take a picture of all the items lists before September 20, 2012. Also go over the Rinda's and let her know you are playing along.

Happy Hunting to You All

Friday, August 03, 2012

Scavenger Hunt #19 An Outdoor Staircase

As mentioned in my last post I almost used the cathedral stairs as my outdoor staircase

but I knew I could do better than that.

I firstly saw these stairs and thought they would be something different

A set of stairs not yet complete

But then again whilst at our caravan weekend I spied these semi natural made stairs and knew they were perfect for the picture of an outdoor staircase

How more outdoors can you get with these? They lead right down on to the beach, just perfect.

Scavenger Hunt #17 A Church, Cathedral, Temple or Chapel

We have a beautiful cathedral that we drive past everyday.
Unfortunately it is right on a major junction so a little difficult to get a really good picture.

I actually made sure I had the camera in the car and then over a week tried to take a picture. This meant trying to be the first person at the lights so I got a clear picture of the place or by driving really slowly round the corner hoping that a bus wouldn't go past as I was taking the picture.
The boys were always asking if I had managed to get a good picture or not. I think it took about 5 attempts to finally get a nice picture that was good enough to show here!

Just a shame it has a traffic light slap bang in the middle of it!
I did also then decide that I could use the stairs leading up to it to achieve #19 An outdoor staircase but then I managed to find something much better to use instead.

Isn't it funny how you see something that is what you are looking for but you want to find something better?

Here is one of the pictures that I got of the place during my attempts

2 seconds later and the bus would have blocked the view! Plus the cars behind were beeping at me to go a little faster through the lights, obviously they wanted to get through before the lights changed!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Still Kids

During the school holidays I took the boys to the big shopping mall. It happened to be the day they had a big advertising campaign on for the new Ice Age Movie.
I didn't know this and we had only gone for an hour for an ice cream as a treat.
However the boys managed to get pictures like these whilst there

Sid the Sloth
Scrat with his precious acorn
Such a great treat during the holidays.
Luckily they haven't really asked to go and see #4 at the movies, so obviously not that bothered by it.

Scavenger Hunt #1 A Pier

This item was going to be one of the slightly more complicated for me as we don't have places like Blackpool and Bournemouth to rush off to. Piers are not a widely seen item in this country, however we do have small wooden structures that could be classed as the same sort of thing.

Again whilst at the caravan for the weekend, I got loads of items that 1 weekend!, I found a pier in the estuary.

Tide was out at the time, but when the water is near it is used a lot for fishing off of or just sitting and watching the world go by.

Because as this picture shows, when the sun shines it is beautiful.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Scavenger Hunt #20 A Swing Hanging from a Tree

This 1 was successfully completed by my family and not me, well I took the pictures but they found it.
Whilst at the caravan for the weekend a few weeks ago, that is when I told them family about the hunt I was taking part in at Rinda's Place. The list that I need to complete is just on the right hand side panel.
Whilst going through the list of things to find and picture, they told me they knew where there was a swing in a tree, down by the water.
This took us on a little adventure as we walked round the estuary towards the front of the houses that over looked the water and low and behold someone had been a busy beaver and put up not 1 but 3 swings of different types.
As it was winter time then there was no one around so the boys got to have lots of turns on the swings.

This shows you the trees in the distance with 2 of the swings, Alex is stood by 1 of them and Steve the other. What you can also see if you look very closely is Ben sat on the 3rd swing on the right hand side, just between the grass and the tree.
They had a ball playing here and I had a ball taking pictures so Be Warned there are a lot of pictures in this post!

the swing in the tree that fulfills the hunt requirements 

2nd swing just for good measure

little help required

and away we go....wee

This was an awesome family moment, everyone out on a mission to find a swing for me and all having lots of fun at the same time