Wednesday, 30 October 2013

One step forwards, Two steps back

Come back to Blogging you say, but what is there for me to contribute. I don't do anything special or really well, I don't have any recipes or frugal ideas. I'm not witty, or pithy, and I don't have brilliantly funny insights into everyday life. I lead a fairly mundane, ordinary, average life, sometimes not all that well, so what is it you would like me to blog?

If you like, I could tell you how I spent my day today. Recently (end of Sept), my youngest lad, Morgan, (now turned 9 since I last blogged), decided that he really wanted to join the Pony Club. He has tried horseriding a couple of times before in the last few years as a, once a year, school summer holiday activity for a couple of hours. In fact I'm sure I've blogged about it before too. However this July, when he went for his one session, he loved it so much he wanted to go again a.s.a.p. So a few other things had to be sacrificed (including my lovely Taekwondo), to start paying for sessions as we go.

He has been going fortnightly on a Saturday morning from 9:30am - 1pm and for £30 has an hour lesson in the riding school with a 20 min hack at the end and spends the rest of the time, learning about horse care, grooming, tack etc. So he has done a total of 3 sessions since Sept 28th when the Head Instructor asks if he wants to do the extra session for Half-Term this morning and then stay on for this afternoon to do the "Pony Show".

Well he was pleased to do some extra riding (the extra £40 I had to pay for the day didn't even cross his mind, I'm sure) and I love that he has found an activity he loves, and already in only 3 sessions he has managed to get off the lead rein a couple of times and do some starting, walking and stopping all by himself. I did ask if it wasn't a bit too early to do a "Show", but was assured they would find something he could do.

So this morning, we set out at 9am and the morning session was the usual kind of thing. Here he is on Pongo, off the lead rein but with a helper near the pony's head just in case.

 Hard to see here, but he is standing out of the saddle for his "rising trot".

Then he went out for his hack, and he was left to do everything by himself. Stopping, starting, steering, trotting, ..... oh my goodness......... my little baby, in charge of a "vehicle" - ALL BY HIMSELF.

 Perhaps I should point out, that he was the only rider in his group who was let off on his own for the hack!!

A spot of grooming.
Then after lunch it was on to the show - his very first show ever, and he was learning as he went along, as it has never been explained to him and he didn't know at any point what was about to happen next - exciting!

First rule of "Showing", (apparently!), is you must have clean boots.....
Second rule, you must have your jacket done up and be looking smart! Tough job for a 9yr old boy!!!
Well it seemed he was in with a very good chance of coming First, Second or Third in his class.

Then the first 'section' it transpired was the "Showing", which is where they have to show they can walk, trot and canter their pony around the circuit of the Riding School. The "School" is the fenced in rectangular arena. Well Pongo didn't really get past a trot but Morgan did do quite a good 'rising' trot, stopped and started and changed rein all by himself with no verbal help either, while being assessed.

The second section it turned out, was a Gymkhana! Morgan has never even heard of one of those, but apparently it's different games to show off various skills including bending, reaching and the obligatory trotting, turning, stopping etc. The first game was to weave in and out of the cones and trot back. The second was the cup race - trot to the end, retrieve the first cup and bring it back to a pole at this end, then go back for the second cup and put it on the first and over the finish line.

Next came the egg and spoon race.
Then a flag race.....
Then a straight race, race....
After another break, while a couple of other groups did these sections, it was on to Section 3, a complete surprise to Morgan, "jumping"! Everyone, even the much more experienced riders in the other classes had to be on the lead rein for this as it was in a different arena, with GRASS! If someone wasn't holding on to the ponies, all they wanted to do was munch grass all afternoon, quite funny!! However, Morgan had to remember the course of 6 'jumps' for himself, steer around the course and head for the middle of each 'jump'.
Well what can I say about "jumping"....... Morgan absolutely loved it. He swears that Pongo did a 'proper' jump over one flat pole as if it was higher, and he thought it was fabulous...... move over Nick Skelton !!! I've never seen his smile beaming so broadly and I got a little, secret thumbs too, when he thought no-one else was watching.... his favourite part of the whole day!!

....... and after all these photos, you're probably wondering where he was 'placed'................

............First !! at his first ever Show !!!! Yay!!!!

I am so pleased for him. He did absolutely brilliantly and beat two girls who have been riding a lot longer than him. I am trying hard not to be too big-headed and un-British, but I am failing dismally. Instead I am one very proud Mommy!!

After lots of tidying up, got home at 6pm and have been editing photos all evening and basking in the glow of Morgan's triumph, living vicariously and loving it!!

Hope this verbosity is a little of what you wanted and I haven't just bored you to death.

Love Arwedd xx

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I must be mad .....

I'm on the Primary School PTA (Parent Teacher Association) again this year and our next event at the end of March is a Ladies Pamper Night (my suggestion!). We have some lovely shopping stalls booked like the Body Shop, soap & candles, handbags etc, plus mini pamper treatments throughout the night, wine and nibbles, plus (fingers crossed) a mini fashion show.

My next bright idea was to provide a small free goody bag, but when I was asked what would go in it, I really excelled myself and dropped myself in the deep end yet again. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut. (I'm only joking really, I've been having fun, as you will see!)

Well, I said, we could have an individually wrapped chocolate heart or two, I have 50 bottles of mini hand lotion (the kind you get in hotels), plus we could give them a lovely crocheted flower corsage. Then we could put in any discount leaflets or business cards the stallholders could provide and there may be some other little things we can think of to go in. But who will make a crocheted corsage?.........

I'm half way there, here are the first 30.

I've used every ball of yarn I have and altered the buttons to try and make them all unique. I'm sure the Mums don't want to see someone else in the playground with a matching corsage. Unfortunately I can see that I do tend to go for one particular colour palette!!

My favourite button is this little sheepy one.

This very fluffy yarn with the gold metallic thread was a real *@$* to crochet with and I won't be using it again. It's hard to see in the photo, but it's quite sparkly in real life.

My favourite one so far though is this blue one, I don't know why as it's usually the lilacs I prefer.

Someone suggested putting a price on the goody bag, e.g. "a free goody bag worth $20" kind of thing, but I'm wondering what all you lovely peeps, think these would be worth?

Can you see a favourite? Any ideas what else could go in the bag?

Actually, the fact that I'm on the PTA and back crafting probably means I'm not as mad as I was a year ago. I certainly couldn't have faced it then.

Still stepping out in faith and sending you blessings.

Lots of Love Arwedd xx

Monday, 14 January 2013

Progress & a Lovely Meal

DH and I have made some good progress on those jobs we need to do. We're not there yet and our curfew has slipped by us a couple of nights, but we're definitely feeling more positive.

Tonight I thought I'd just pop in to share my cheap but perhaps a bit odd meal tonight. Our weekly shop is tomorrow so it was the ususal what have we got left mish mash and I thought I'd actually try a spot of home cooking.

I don't have a lot of spices in the cupboard so this is what I threw in the frying pan:-

Most of one red onion chopped (I didnt have a white one!)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp finely grated root ginger ( I have a huge root and haven't used it yet as I don't really know what to do with it)
2 tsp ground  cinnamon
2 tsp paprika
1tsp tumeric
1 tsp mild chilli powder
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp artifical sweetner ( not the aspartame kind)
250ml vegetable bouillion
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 long life carton of haricot beans
1 can sweetcorn

A totally fat free, very low cal, healthy tea. I probably could have done with less stock as it was very liquid-y, but that "mopped" up nicely with a couple of slices of wholemeal bread. I was able to put aside two portions for another day and still had an enormous plateful.

Will be checking in on all your Blogs later, so hope everyone has been well.

Lots of Love

Arwedd xx

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Doing things differently

DH and I had a quite heavy discussion this afternoon, for a couple of hours, as we thought about our year ahead. It was all very 'grown-up' and we were totally "on the same page". Odd as I still don't feel very grown-up, despite my advancing years.

We were both in total agreement that several things have to change this year. I'm not really in a position to share most of them, which sounds very cryptic and I don't mean to be, but they're not just my things alone to share, so I won't. Suffice to say that we are both getting very lazy as we reach "middle-age" and we're just not keeping on top of all those things we should be. Today we have resolved that we must do better.

We have to be stricter with ourselves, if we want to achieve our goals for 2013. We are both procrastinators and great at wasting time, or allowing ourselves to be distracted by others, either in person or reading our daily Blogs, or tidying out a cupboard instead of making an important phone-call. We have tried to renew our resolve today and promised to help each other.

For both of us, one thing this means is getting an earlier night. Its quite hard when you have a teenager who doesn't go to bed until 10pm to get to bed early yourself. We tend to find that if we were to go when we really needed to, we would be going at the same time as him. This leaves us with absolutely no evening "to ourselves". Not that we dislike his company, but some things we do need to talk about without his presence. However, we must get to bed by 10:30pm, at least half the nights, if we are to increase our energy to do the other things, that must now be done.

For me, this means I cannot continue to spend so much time on leisure activities. Unfortunately, I count amongst these writing my Blog. I therefore simply must reduce the frequency of my posts. It also means the crochet or card- making, or any other crafts, can only be picked up when I have done at least something, every day, towards all the other tasks. It means not sloping off to my favourite Cafe so often, when there are things which must be done, no matter how lovely it is there.

Apologies, therefore that you will see less of me, but if we don't put in the effort now, then we only have ourselves to blame when we fail. I hope you will still continue to support me as your comments have often helped far more than you will realise.

Here's hoping for something Exceptional.

Lots of Love Arwedd xx

Monday, 7 January 2013

Clouds in my Coffee

I'm not exactly sure why Carly Simon had clouds in her coffee, but I've made the decision not to have anything in mine and I'm regretting my decision already, and it's only Day Two.

One of the things I am determined to do in 2013 is change to a more healthy eating and drinking regime. Nothing too limiting, I can stand all those cravings again, but it definitely has to be Fat Free at least for a while. I don't have butter on bread, in sandwiches, although I did use it for frying and have now swapped it for a low fat alternative. I have cut out cheese, and I don't use a lot of milk, as I don't have cereals etc. I tend to use it for a chesse sauce, (got to go), and in coffee. Boy, do I like a milky coffee. I'm a real Latte fan, but I have decided to try and drink my coffee black. We do use Semi-skimmed milk, having tried the Skimmed and found it just too watery the boys just can't tolerate it. However, for health reasons I really do want to go dairy free for a bit, and I don't really want to try a different type of milk, as that's just something else to buy and I would have to go through just as much, to try and get used to the taste of that, just for extra expense.

No I'd rather try and get used to it without, but I can't get over how different the coffee tastes without milk.

I do vaguely remember though, when I first started to have my coffee without sugar, more than 20 years ago. I know I stopped because a schoolfriend (Hayley, I wonder whatever happened to her?), was told by her dentist to cut out sugar and I wanted to support her. I also remember it was equally as difficult at first and I had to persevere through several horrible cups until my taste changed. Now putting sugar in it tastes disgusting. I do hope I don't have to suffer too long before my tastebuds change this time, as I do love my coffee. It's not because of the caffiene as I have mine Decaff, my heart objects otherwise, so there must just be something comforting about hugging a mug of coffee, and maybe I can see clouds in it after all.........

Lots of Love Arwedd xx

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Not a good start

My prayers today go out to two special ladies.

One of my best friends just wasn't herself in Church this morning and when I asked her after the service, if everything was really Ok, she broke down and told me her Dad was very poorly. He went for a New Years walk, fell and has badly broken his upper leg/thigh. He has had surgery and it has been pinned. Unfortunately because he was in the woods, they had to get an all-terrain vehicle out to rescue him, so he was on the ground for nearly two hours. As a result, he has an infection in his leg and also a chest infection. She said he is in Intensive Care and when she spoke to him very briefly for only a minute or two he was not himself at all and very confused. He lives 'up North' from here and I know how difficult it is when you can't physically get to see your sick relative for yourself. It just adds to the anxiety and worry. I am thinking of you both and the rest of the family today.

Another friend said to me after the service today that she had been really struggling since the New Year. She like me struggles with depression and has had long periods off work. As soon as she said it, I could identify with that strange disembodied, numb, flat feeling she was experiencing, which is somehow made worse when everyone around you seems to be full of fun and hope and looking forward to a New Year. I'm sure we are not alone and there are lots who find the start of a New Year actually quite hard. When your brain doesn't work properly all you can hear is a very sarcastic voice saying "Yeah, great, bring on another crappy year, brilliant!"

But when we are all thinking straight we know that the Year doesn't have to end the way it started. (I know FM would agree). Things can change so quickly, and the sun can appear immediately as a storm stops. So I pray for these two lovely ladies, that things will improve from this moment on.

Lots of Love

Arwedd xx

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Twelfth Night

Not sure when exactly this is, or what the exact consequences are, but my  decorations are now down and back in the attic. It managed to keep the boys entertained for a while this afternoon and we actually sorted out several boxes of decorations we don't use any more. Broken bits are ready to go to the tip and some bits are on their way to the Charity shop. Sorry to all those Mums who keep every decoration their kids have ever made, but there was some right 'tat' that my kids have made at nursery, that will never go on the tree and are now in the bin.

The house now feels bare, except for the bits that always come off the tree and the tinsel. I have only hoovered three times so far and it normally takes several more goes round to get rid of it all.

Oddly this evening we have been watching Christmas movies on the TV. Tomorrow #2 Son has a Cinema trip with a friend to see Madagascar 3 in 3D, so a nice way to bring the holidays to a close. Now I only have to find something to entertain him on Monday. Nearly there!

Lots of Love

Arwedd xx