Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 Annual Review

Standard

 What went well this year?

  • I finally (after four years) went to America to visit my husband’s family
  • I got pregnant! Baby Fowler is due January 2016
  • I took Emiko to Disneyland Paris as planned (wasn’t a total success though)
  • I successfully completed my beginner’s archery course
  • I took and passed my Grade 3 music theory exam
  • I did actually work on my Grade 3 flute exam
  • I danced a World Record breaking Charleston (most people doing it simultaneously)
  • I did a five kilometre obstacle race and a five-mile race with RJ before I had to stop racing for the year
  • I finished the Trefoil Guild Bronze Voyage Award (first person in my Guild to do so)
  • I started the Trefoil Guild Silver Voyage Award
  • I have (to date) written 33,139 words of my novel (up from 15,500 this time last year)
  • As planned, I have spent more quality time with my daughter, mostly through working on her Brownie Interest badges with her.

 What did not go well this year?

  • I did not manage to have a go on a trapeze
  • I did not manage to take my Grade three flute exam this year
  • NaNoWriMo could definitely have gone better but stinking cold plus pregnancy headaches made me very un-inclined to stare at a computer screen for long periods of time and then we moved house…maybe next year I’ll win. At any rate, I have not yet finished the first draft of my book.
  • I joined a cheerleading squad to fulfill a lifelong dream and then became pregnant and had to quit –I’m definitely revisiting this one once my former physical fitness returns.
  • In fact, since becoming pregnant I had to give up all my sports/social activities –roller blading, morris dancing, archery, running….I even had to stop leading my Rainbow and Brownie units because I couldn’t cope anymore 😦  

Goals for 2016, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • Be a good mum to both my children –parenting two with such an age gap may well be challenging but I want to do a good job of it
  • Start cheerleading again and get to do at least one competition
  • Ideally at least be able to cartwheel but I’d like to learn to do a round-off as well
  • Have another go at winning a beauty pageant (or more than one, if that’s what it takes)
  • Keep writing my book –it’s bound to get finished eventually
  • Get my driving licence and a car
  • Take my Grade 3 flute exam
  • Get my Going Away With licence so I can take my Brownies camping
  • Since I am going to be my Trefoil Guild’s Chairman for 2016, I want to do a good job of that too

CONCLUSION for 2015

It’s ok that I had to give up so much this year to have a baby because it’s only temporary and she is totally worth it. I managed an awful lot in spite of the pregnancy and I’m quite pleased with it all, looking back at it. I am super excited to meet my little one in 2016! I hope you all have as good of a year as I plan to have. 🙂

new-years-day-1063435_1920

Image from Pixabay

Disneyland Paris with Elliot and Emiko – 27th to the 30th August 2015

Standard
In front of the Disney Castle

In front of the Disney Castle

Going to Disneyland was something I dreamed of as a child, as did every child I know. It never happened and I was left to change the dream to taking my own child to experience this mythical, magical wonder. Finally, when she turned eight, I figured Emiko was old enough to both enjoy it and remember it. I booked a trip for myself, my daughter and my husband for three nights and four days at Disneyland Paris at the end of the summer holidays when it was marginally more affordable. I had lowered my expectations in some regards, as the visit was to take place whilst I was five months pregnant, and expectant mothers are not allowed on most rides and attractions. I still figured I could have some fun though, and would get enjoyment out of my daughter’s pleasure. Here are my diary entries from the trip:

Day One (27th August)

Emi in our hotel room

Emi in our hotel room

Travel goes as well as it can and we arrive only mildly stressed by it. We check into Hotel Cheyenne after queuing at vastly crowded reception and go to our room only to discover the following: the lock you put the key cards into doesn’t work that well and requires multiple attempts before we can gain access to the room; tea, coffee and even kettle are not complimentary as in even the most basic B and B but are costly extras which must be acquired from aforementioned crowded reception and the TV has only four channels in English, two of which are news. We have just spent several days in a Premier Inn in Oxford while visiting Elliot’s mother and grandmother; so far the Premier Inn is nicer. Unpacking, I realise that somewhere between train and shuttle ride, I have lost my mobile phone. We head to reception to report it missing and find out where it might go if it was lost on the shuttle and handed in by someone but no luck.

Emi and Elliot in front of the Disney Park

Emi and Elliot in front of the Disney Park

We venture out to the Disney parks despite the constant rain. The rain doesn’t stop all day and it turns out neither my aging boots nor my ‘waterproof’ jacket can cope. I spend the remainder of the day cold and damp. We do some enjoyable browsing of shops and checking out locations of stuff in parks. To get out of the wet weather, we go to Starbucks and discover the ‘Starbucks Name’ is a thing in France too -here I am not ‘Lizzie’ but ‘Léti’. I wait with Emi while Elliot goes on the Armageddon Experience -I’d have liked to go too but I’m not allowed because I’m pregnant. Elliot later says he can’t see why that is.

We eat dinner at hot sandwich place called Earl of Sandwich -it’s not bad. We stop to watch the Disney Parade which was good, except for an annoying woman with a camera constantly blocking Emi’s view trying to take pictures. This is aggravating as she pretty much pushed her way in front after we’d been waiting for ages, and also clearly the parade is aimed at children; I let quite a few in front of me so they can see better. Frankly my feet and back are killing me by this point. We head back to hotel as it is getting to Emi’s bedtime. I spend the evening watching Bones on my laptop (thank goodness Elliot had the foresight to say we bring it and have it ready stocked with entertainment.) Other occupants of the hotel apparently have no regard for time of night and are excessively noisy in hallways. I have a terrible night of sleep, where I wake up constantly. I cannot get comfortable, as there are not enough pillows and I am persistently thirsty. I drink lots of water and have to get up to use bathroom several times.

Day Two (28th Aug)

Elliot and Emi on the Studio Tour Tram

Elliot and Emi on the Studio Tour Tram

Today is not raining, it is actually quite nice weather. The day starts okay, breakfast is not bad and we take advantage of the buffet style food to make several ham and cheese rolls to take with us for lunch, as well as a quantity of croissants. Everything is so expensive here we figure we may as well. We head out for look around. I buy myself a headband with Minnie mouse ears and bow, I’m quite pleased as it was the only souvenir I had really wanted. We discover that several Disney character’s are out for meet and greet. Unlike in TV adverts, they do not just wander the park at random, oh no. Queuing to meet Minnie Mouse is expected to take two hours and Mickey is no longer with her. Other characters have similarly long lines. We are somewhat disillusioned as it seems like a ridiculous waste of time. We go instead to the Sleeping Beauty castle to see what’s what. My bladder decides today is going to be the day to insist on constantly demanding attention, go pregnancy! Eventually we decide to buy Emiko a princess dress (Ariel’s wedding gown) and tiara as seems like a large part of small girl’s Disney experience.

Emi in her princess dress.

Emi in her princess dress.

We queue for 30 minutes to take 2 minute ride on carousel as it is one of the very few rides I can go on. A group decision is made that the queues for Alice’s Labyrinth do not justify walking through a bunch of chest-high hedges. What is the point of a maze when anyone over four and a half foot can see over the top? We go into different section of the park, I end up sitting on a bench whilst Emi and Elliot ride Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m glad they enjoyed it. We wander through various fake caves and man-made waterfalls for a while until we come to an Indiana Jones ride. Elliot wants to go on it but Emiko doesn’t. I am not allowed to. Elliot doesn’t want to go on rides by himself and is frustrated that Emi only really wants to go on the sort of rides we have in our hometown and none of the bigger rides, which she says are scary. This is the point where the day starts to go wrong.

Emiko gets stroppy because she claims we haven’t bought her a souvenir. I point out that we got her a princess outfit and she says that she didn’t really want it. I say we wouldn’t have spent that much buying it for her if we’d known that because she sure seemed like she wanted it it the shop. Somehow the situation escalates until Elliot and I are cross with her for being so ungrateful and she is saying she wants to go back to the hotel and sulk. The final straw comes when she tries to hit me and says we are ruining her perfect holiday. I point out that it is actually her who is ruining things. No one is happy now so we abandon the ride Elliot wanted to go on and head for Starbucks for coffee because it is the only thing we can think of.

Eventually Emi apologises. Elliot and I explain why her behaviour was unacceptable, then say that if she wants any more souvenirs she will have to spend her pocket money on them and is not to expect any more funding from us. We head to the Studio Park and wait in line to see Spiderman, which cheers everyone up.

Emi being rescued by Spiderman

Emi being rescued by Spiderman

The day continues a little better but Emiko is still reluctant to be adventurous with rides. Nothing she wants to go on is really worth the queues and everything Elliot wants to go on intimidates her. He doesn’t want to do any of it by himself and I am too pregnant to be allowed on any of it anyway. Emiko then pulls herself and Elliot out of the line for Thunder Mountain (one of the few rides she and Elliot both want to go on) because she needs the loo. The line is 70 minutes long so they do not bother to go back in. She doesn’t want to go in the haunted house and the boat ride is closed by the time we get there, so we spend forever waiting for the little train. We circle the park once and get off at Discovery Land. E and E do the Star Wars experience. I wait outside for ages as I cannot do that either. They both enjoyed it and I am happy.

This is what I was hoping for -they would have fun and I would live vicariously through them. They get in line for Space Mountain and I am patiently settling down to wait when they return, Elliot looking unimpressed. Emiko did want to go on it but then it made a loud noise and she changed her mind. Both Elliot and I are feeling like it was a bit of a waste of money to come when Emiko is not making the most of it so we decide to go back to the hotel. We stop to watch Queen Elsa go past as it just happens to be time for that. I am trying very hard not to show how disappointed and disillusioned I am with how this is all turning out. I don’t think anyone is enjoying this trip as much as I had intended. I am hoping tomorrow is better.

Day Three (29th August)

Us with Mickey and Minnie.

Us with Mickey and Minnie.

Day three is much, much better. Prepared for the queuing, we arrive earlier to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse and although the line is still long and the wait even longer, eventually we get to pose for pictures with them. Elliot is extremely amused when Mickey accidentally hits me in the face with his ears, because I’ve been doing it to Elliot all day with mine. We get tea and coffee and go to the Studio Park to watch the car stunt show, which is extremely entertaining and has choreographed chase scenes with shoot-outs, jumps, explosions and a biker who slides through flames and runs around on fire (planned and safely).

Lightening McQueen at the stunt show.

Lightening McQueen at the stunt show.

Following this, we wander around for a while then go on the boat ride we missed yesterday. It is also quite enjoyable. By this point my feet are killing me and I am too hot as it is very sunny, so we get Frozen-themed slushies and sit down. Then we take Emi to the Disney Store to spend her allowance, which has been burning a hole in her pocket ever since we arrived. She leaves with three new toys and we leave with a realisation that somewhere our parenting has gone wrong and we have to work on her materialism. We make her buy her own dinner with what’s left of her allowance to help teach her the value of money.  Thankfully, she is reasonably accepting of this and I think it helps her realise why we wanted her to experience the trip fully and not just think about buying toys the whole time. I also think she actually enjoyed getting her own receipt and food timer -it made her feel a bit grown-up and independent.

Day Four (30th August)

It’s our final day, so we check out of our hotel and go to the Disney Parks for a final look round. We collect our photos of us with Spiderman and Minnie. We end up going to see Stitch Live, which I probably enjoy as much as the kids do. My amusement is more entertaining for Elliot than the actual show, I think. I spend several minutes afterwards busting out my impression of Stitch (which I’ve been told is pretty good). Later we go to see the show CinéMagique. I’m not sure what to expect but it turns out to be a semi-interactive clip show which is very cool, although I wish they hadn’t included the clip from the Exorcist because the show was billed as family friendly. Emi may not have known what it was but she didn’t like it and I don’t find vomit remotely humorous.  We spend a long while killing time in Starbucks, as we have run out of things to do that we can logically fit in before our train leaves. We take a last look in the shops and I buy a fridge magnet for my collection and a pencil and pen for my friend RJ as little gifts-she is starting uni soon so I figure they’ll be useful. Train ride back is pretty uneventful and I am glad to be back home with my own bed.

I enjoyed parts of the holiday more than others. I am naturally inclined to focus on negative aspects of life but I am determined to come away from this trip remembering mostly the good times -I refuse to let a few unlucky moments darken my experience. I have never taken a child on holiday before and I think everyone learned some lessons there. We probably should have anticipated more how overwhelming it would be for Emi and we should have taken advantage of the disability fast pass you can get if your child has autism (but since her autism is mild we frequently don’t use things like that, it feels like they are aimed at people worse off and we like to give her the opportunity to cope for herself. Next time I think we’ll just take it when offered.) It was difficult being pregnant, I don’t thing we’ll go on vacation next time I am. And I won’t expect magical perfection from my next family holiday either -even if it is the fabled land of Disney.

2015: Other Things I Did

Standard

I did do a couple of other things off my list this year that just don’t seem big or interesting enough to warrant their own posts, mostly as they are really sub-goals of larger goals.

So, on the 4th March 2015 I completed ‘Pass my Grade 3 Music Theory Exam’. I studied for several months, I took the exam and I passed it- yay me 🙂

On the 18th July 2015, I took part in the successful attempt to break the Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Charleston Dance’. We had to all dance the same choreographed routine for a minimum of five minutes and fulfill certain costume requirements in order to qualify.

You can actually see me in most of this video of us dancing -I’m wearing a dress that is blue, purple and green and I’m largely surrounded by ladies in black dresses (plus one person in white trousers and a red top. I’m usually near the bottom few rows on the screen, so if you want to spot me, that should help you find me.

The previous record was 319 dancers (Australia), our record was 503 dancers (Bexhill, East Sussex, UK). It is my third group World Record.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2015/8/bexhill-town-swings-into-the-record-books-by-performing-the-largest-charleston-da-390110

Although, I believe it was subsequently broken in October of 2015 by a group in London, UK, with 975 dancers.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-charleston-dance

Well, there we are. I said it wasn’t all that interesting 🙂

Learning Archery – 21st February 2015

Standard

I have always fancied taking up archery, so when my friend RJ invited me to come up to our local sports centre and shoot with her, I gladly accepted. It quickly became evident that it would be a good idea to take some sort of lessons, so I signed up for a six week beginner’s course.

28. 49. Learn Archery

Me and RJ

Here are some of the things I learnt:

  • Even though I am right-handed, I am a left-handed archer, because apparently I aim entirely with my left eye.
  • This makes it awkward in several respects, because it means I have to fasten my arm guard and nock arrows on my bow with my non-dominant hand.
  • I also feel really puny because my left arm is only strong enough to manage a 14lb draw.
  • Although I love the idea of the horse bow, it is much easier to sort out components for a 14lb draw, left-handed recurve when you are having to borrow equipment.
  • Getting hit by the bow string hurts.
  • I have a terrible habit of sticking my elbow up in the air instead of keeping it level which may be throwing off my aim.
  • Every time you think you are getting the hang of it, you change something (smaller target or new sight) and you are back at square one.
  • Archery can be very frustrating but nonetheless really enjoyable.
28. 49. Learn Archery (3)

My favourite one of me

Well, since I found out I’m pregnant I have not been shooting (I’ve stopped all my sports over the pregnancy as they became harder to manage or just unsuitable) but I will go back to it when I can. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the pretty pictures RJ and I took of each other (I borrowed a horse bow from someone since I don’t own my own bow. I don’t know if you can tell but I actually couldn’t bring it to full draw.)

I may not be able to go back to it any time soon (it’s money and child-care dependent) but I can be very patient (about some things, anyway.) Once I can take it up again, my next plan is buy my own bow and start thinking about competitions.

 

September to November 2014 – No.61: Cure my Stage-fright

Standard

In 2013 I took my Brownies to see the Hastings Gang Show. For those who don’t know, a Gang Show is a variety show put on by an area’s local scout and Ranger groups and they are great fun to watch. Well, I thought they looked liked pretty good fun to be in as well, and I knew other Brownie leaders who were in it, so 2014 rolled around, and I signed up. Turns out you have to be a part of the Scout Active Support unit (they volunteer as occasional support for Scouts in order to take part as an adult, so I signed up for that too.

Now, I have no problem acting and dancing in front of people, or even singing in a group, but I do have  quite bad stage-fright about singing solo in front of people, so I was nervous about that part of auditions. (Auditions are to help casting decisions, not to see if you can or can’t take part.) I needn’t have worried though, I managed to do much better in auditions than I thought and ended up with some quite good parts.

DSC_0034

In my dressing room

We spent weeks rehearsing and also fundraising; you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to put on a show like this in a proper theater. Eventually, performance week arrived. We were doing one show Thursday night, one Friday night and two Saturday -a matinee and an evening show.  I was partly nervous but mostly excited. All the rehearsal time had paid off and I wasn’t scared of my solo bits anymore, I was looking forward to them.

GS1_66

The Opener

Opening night came and we gathered backstage in our our jeans and black t-shirts, bedecked in bandannas and rock accessories, clutching our neon inflatable guitars. Since we arranged youngest/smallest to oldest/tallest, I was in the back row and one of the last to emerge on stage. The music reached our cue and we danced out singing to a mash up of We Built This City and Here I Go Again.

GS1_131

Everyone squealing for ‘Simon’s’ attention in The Gang Can’t Sing

Up next was a quick change and then it was ‘The Gang Can’t Sing’, featuring a (pretty dreadful) song based on X factor auditions and an amazing singer who thinks she can’t sing. I feel I should clarify that it wasn’t our performance I think is dreadful, just the actual song. I was mostly filler in this one, a ‘fan’ who spent most of my time shouting for Simon Cowell’s autograph and reacting to other characters.

GS1_175

‘Morris’ dancing in Dance Around the World

The next thing I was in was ‘Dance around the World’, where each age group (Cubs, Beavers, Scours, Rangers and Adults) represented a different country via an approximation of it’s national dance. Adults were doing England, so we were ‘morris dancing’. As an actual morris dancer, I know exactly how much was wrong about our dance but since most of my well-meaning advice to the choreographers fell on deaf ears I had to let that slide.

GS1_266

Me singing my solo in We Remember

Then it was the last bit before the interval, ‘We Remember’ a long section commemorating the 1914 war, as it had been 100 years. Many people had not bothered to check the era of their costumes (we provided our own for this part) and were dressed more appropriately for World War Two than One but never mind. Our songs led us through the camaraderie of street parties and the sadness of waving our loved ones off to war (where my solo came in) through the tragedy of the battlefield and the eventual return (or not) of the soldiers. It was pretty moving stuff.

GS1_412

Me and the other two female leads in Doo-Wop

After the interval, it was time for ‘Doo-Wop’, set in a 50’s diner, I was playing a teenage girl who meets a teenage boy and through flirting and the various interference of his and her friends, ends up with a sweetheart. This was really awkward, because I was the only one of the six main actors who wasn’t actually a teenager. My ‘love interest’ had only just turned 15 -and I was a 26 year-old married woman. I’m pretty sure I was cast in the role because I’m a really confident public speaker and looks-wise I could still just about get away with it but like I said, it was awkward and we made the producers write the kiss out of the script in favour of a more chaste hug.

GS2_807

Sink or Swim

The next item I was in was Sink or Swim, a synchronised swimming comedy skit where the girls were all serious competitors and the blokes were larking around.  We had to pretend to dive, swim and do tricks behind a barrier of fabric. It was pretty funny but I’m sure the audience in the higher seats could see us crawling around behind the blue fabric ‘waves’. I’m the girl at the front on the right-hand side.

GS1_712

Way Out West

In the next bit, Way Out West, I was background filler, a random Oklahoman singing songs from the musical Oklahoma. It was alright but I could have done without being in this number because it made it a very tight costume change for the next one, where I had a solo.

GS2_929

The Sing-Off (a Pitch Perfect inspired number)

Up next was The Sing-Off, inspired by the movie Pitch Perfect, it featured a ‘Girls vs Boys’ premise. I had a solo verse in ‘Money’ and did harmonies in the other numbers. We finished with girls and boys joining together for ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. This was probably my favourite part of the show.

GS2_990

Last of all the Finale, where again, we were arranged by height and age group, so I was in the back. We sang several songs, including the famous ‘Crest of a Wave’, without which no Gang Show would be complete. Flash pots went off, glitter fell from the ceiling and we took our bows.As the curtain fell, the cast burst into one last song- “We love you Gang Show, we do! We love you Gang Show, we do! We love you Gang Show, we do! Oh, Gang Show, we love you!”

Summer 2011, 2012 & Winter 2014 – No.48: Learn to Rollerblade

Standard

26.48. Learn to Roller-blade (1)

This, I suspect, will be quite a short post. After all, there is only so much you can say about roller-blading. I actually started off on quad skates but I really did not get on with them. RJ tried for most of a summer to help me get the hang of them but to no avail.

The following summer, another friend of ours introduced me to inline skates instead and that was much more successful. However, I was still very slow, wobbly and insecure. I didn’t do anything for this goal in 2013, I can’t remember why. Then in the winter of 2014, RJ started taking me to a roller-disco on a weekly basis and a lovely lady who runs a local roller derby squad helped me massively.

After several weeks, I was no longer wobbly or worried and could finally go faster than walking speed. I will admit to some unusual techniques to distract myself at the beginning -skating round the hall mumbling random Japanese phrases to myself did stop my brain over-ruling my feet though! I reckon now I can skate well enough to say this one gets crossed off. Although I have stopped skating since I got pregnant due to the risk of falling, I will pick it up again at some point next year and I hope to improve my skating further then.