Up, down, spinning around....

Yeah, it's going to be one of those half terms!

Friday, school let out, and I had a blissfully relaxed and lazy evening. Which is lucky, because then it all kicked off....woke up early Saturday reday to drive the three hours north to Liverpool, to attend one of my favourite Join Meets, Loverpool. Arrived in time for a nice cup of tea with Jamanda and Laurie, and then off into town.

We met by the Catholic cathedral, as is traditional. That building is something else - it looks like an embassy from Star Wars or Star Trek! (Don't believe me? I'm sure google has pics!) A good couple of dozen Joinees from here, there and everywhere. Lots of chat and hugs and banter, and then we split into teams for our RAoK (Random Acts of Kindness) challenge - part scavenger hunt, part doing nice things for the people of Liverpool. I was on the kickass team 4 with Siobhán, Angel, Sheli, Ems, Jamie, Katie Boo and Craig and it was a riot - giving out sweeties and hugs, buying drinks and pies for people, making old ladies smile, and generally being silly. :-)

Then Craig, Sheli, Ems, Siobhán and I formed 'Team Eat' and went for tapas (mmmm, tapas), and were joined by the lovely Tigger, before joining the whole gang in the pub. Such a fun evening - laughs and hugs and tears and chat and fun and raising lots of money for a very worthy charity. Thank you, Team Loverpool - it was a triumph! By the time we got back to Casa Jamanda I was wiped, and was soon bundled up like a caterpillar, fast asleep....

....Sunday I woke up on the couch, in a room with eight good friends - it's very like boarding school at Join Meets sometimes! A lazy morning getting showered and fed and sorted, a quick jaunt to Asda, and then a lazy afternoon grilling and chilling in the park. How lucky am I? Then at teatime I headed home.

Yesterday was my one home based day of the break - lots of sleep, some baking, and just generally *not* haring about. I'm just about to jump in the shower and pack now....off to London today, then on to Birmingham tomorrow. Then back here Friday. Then back to London Saturday. Good thing I like to be busy, eh?

How are you?

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A backwards funk

Why no posts for a week?


Truth be told, I've been on a bit of a low.

Truth be told, I'm kind of bad at feeling low. I'm a carer, a bit of a mum, I like taking care of people...asking for help or support, I'm way harder at. So if and when I have a down period, I turn in. I curl up. I get by. I throw myself into work and mindless tasks in the evening. I don't call people or write letters like usual. The chores fall by the wayside, I snack way too much (I need to visit the gym, stat!), and just generally feel a bit poo.

The funk was nothing major - still a bit rundown, hammered by work (on one memorable day I had 96 exams to mark in one go. I'm still not quite sure how I got that do.), waiting for a few shoes to drop (moving dates, etc.), and a little lonely. Where I live can magnify loneliness like nothing else....as much as I may grumble a little about housesharing in future posts after the move, I'll be so grateful to have people to talk to at the end of the day, have a cup of tea and a cuddle and just relax. And being so close to Matthew and so many of my friends is going to be brilliant. Here once work is done....I go home. On my own. Same four walls. Same nobody to speak to or hang out with or even squabble with. I do have some friends at work, but we don't really socialise much. Well we do, but it's once a week tops. I need more. I miss the occasional coffees, the drinks, the movies outings.... I'm ready to have those things back.

Happily, I think the funk is on the way out. I don't feel as grey and blah (helped no doubt by the fact our half-term break just started today :-)). I feel like writing letters again. I'm posting this. And tomorrow I get to go and hang out with two or three dozen of my favourite people...

Here's to sunnier days!


PS I am working on the 'Ask Me Anything' post...will be up soon!
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"What would you like to talk about?"

I've seen these kind of posts here, there and everywhere (most recently on Cheryl's blog and Patrice's too)...but I can't recall doing one for myself before. Also, exam season at school is frazzling my brain and I'm low on inspiration tonight, so this is an ASK ME ANYTHING post.


That's right.

I would like your questions for me, please. The deep, the silly, the personal, the general.

What would you like to talk about? Is there a question you'd like me to answer? Perhaps you just wonder where I get my socks / who I want to win American Idol / what I think about plural marriage.... Although no doubt you guys will come up with something far more exciting and thought provoking than that!

I'll probably leave this up for a couple of days, then get to answering. Thank you in advance for your help, lovelies! :-)

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Don't stop believing...

(Hee. Have I given you an eighties-tastic earworm now?)

So, friends, Romans, bloggerbuddies...what do you believe in?

What fuels you, what inspires you, what keeps you going in the dark times, what makes the good times even better (and no, Wiwille, you can't just answer "beer"! :-)). I've been pondering this theme myself for a while, and here's what I've come up with (so far). Think of it as a little minimanifesto, Claire style.

I believe in family. As quirky and unconventional as my family may be, I love them dearly. Our extended family we rarely if ever see, but do you know what? That's OK. Because our gang of five get on so well. I'm so proud of my parents and all they've achieved, how hard they've worked, and how proud and supportive they are of us kids. I adore my sister Sian, in all her stubborn glory, and I just know she's creating a lovely life for her and my brother-in-law-to-be, Chris. I think my brother Peter is just the coolest - kind, clever, and blessed with one of the darkest sense of humours I've ever encountered. I'm so blessed to have a family like mine, and I just hope that as we all grow up (eventually ;)) we can stay as close. I can't wait to hang out with the whole gang come July!

The siblings and I, 2007

Dad, Mum and I on their wedding day. I was bridesmaid! And I *kicked butt* at it.

The year we became a trio. Aw yeah, I have *mad* baby holding skillz!

Sian and Samiwell, Christmas 2008.

Midimus and Dad, spring break 09.

Chris (b-i-l-t-b) and Sian, April 09.

Wee bro and Marmee. I love this picture!

I believe in love. I've always believed in love, and I've been lucky to see it manifested in so many places in my life - through friends and family, and now through my wonderful boyfriend. The kindness and thoughtfulness he shows to me each and every day is just stunning...I truly have no idea quite how I managed to deserve a man as wonderful as he. He *literally* makes me smile every day. And giggle just as much. And occasionally go ewwww, when he and Dave are having a 'burp-off'!

Mattheiu and I in Edinburgh last year, before we started dating. Fantastic holiday!

NYE 2008. I like this photo - because neither of us were aware it was being taken, we both look normal and natural! Rather than scared (M hates photos) or goofy (that'd be me, then!).

I believe in beauty. Just the gorgeous beauty of our world, and the way it's everywhere, all the time, if just we stop to look and see. Starry skies, trees waving in the breeze, old people drinking tea and laughing together, the crispness of a new writing pad, the smell of cookies baking, the ground after it rains....

I believe in friendship. I can say, hand on heart, that I have some of the best friends in the world. They are such blessings to me - they make me laugh, they spoil me rotten, they support me when I'm down, they listen and share and care and they believe in me so fervently. I never ever ever get tired of telling them all how ace they are. Ladies and gents....you really are! Whether they are my friends IRL, through the blogosphere, or a bit of both I am just so priveleged to have such awesome folk to call and consider my friends!

Siobhán and I cracking up.

Some of the Liverpool lovelies!
I believe in Jesus. I may not go to church regularly - that's a whole other post. I may make some moral decisions which make more conservative types raise their eyebrows (but I'm of the belief that that is *their concern* - my choices and lifestyle are between my God and me), but when it comes to the crunch I am a Christian. I pray daily for the people I love and care about, I know my Bible, I try to live by it and my choices are certainly informed by my faith.

I believe in peacefulness. The power of quiet. The beauty of stopping. Prioritising well being and peace and stillness. It's a skill I'm acquiring more and more....I love the gentleness and calm.

I believe in kindness. Oh man, how I love kindness. Such power from one emotion, one drive, one urge. I love to be kind wherever I can, and I think since I've truly started indulging in this passion of mine I've become (in some small way) a better person (although heaven knows I've a ways to go!). I'm guided by a need to be kind, and I think kindness is just wonderful - the power to help, to nurture, to make someone smile. I also love all the kindness I see around me, each and every day.

I believe in learning. Well, I'm a teacher, it was going to feature somewhere! I love helping others to learn, and I love learning myself. I've even made myself a little list of skills I want to learn (sewing, Spanish) and improve (photography, dancing, French, cookery, singing, scrapbooking). Plus I love reading widely and learning from that...there's so much to explore! Oh, and the occasional bit of chicklit, of course...

I believe in charity. And for that matter, giving. Whether it's my more zany schemes (such as lopping off my hair or losing weight for good causes), or just the day to day sponsoring and collecting and trying to help, I like to give back. It's one of my dearest desires that one far off day, when my student loan's paid off and I actually own a home, I'll be able to give 10% of my earnings straight to charity. That's the goal, that's the dream. The giving extends to charity, but also to family and friends - I love sending cards and gifts and treats. What a power - to make someone smile!

I believe in looking after yourself. Sleep, fruit and veggies, water, exercise, not being too hard on yourself, remembering that sometimes things go wrong. And that's OK. Looking after myself is a new thing for me. I'm getting good at it!

I believe in creativity. Writing, singing, dancing, cooking. Whether it's writing a blog post, learning a new song, drawing a cartoon (badly!) for a friend's child, or baking cookies, I love the chance to create. While sorting through some papers the other day I found not one but two stories I'd started then abandoned because of workiness...once I'm down in London, at least once a week (probably while the boys are watching a football match that doesn't interest me as much - I'm fast turning into a Newcastle and non-league fan, but can leave the big 4 for the main part) I'm going to hole up and work on these... I have other crafty creaty thinsg planned too...

I believe in silliness. When I think of how much of my time I spend laughing, I know how lucky I really am. Giggles and in-jokes and belly laughs and goofy grins are sprinkled across my life like hundreds-and-thousands on a cupcake. Mmmm, cupcakes....

Phil, Mlle Wilson and I, dancin' up a STORM!
See what I mean about goofy?

I believe in rest. With that in mind, I'm off to do a few last chores, and then snuggle up in bed.

Good night, all.
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Not me! Monday, May 11th 2009

Yay! It's been such a long while since I've done one of these! Not Me Monday's are the brainchild of the gorgeous and multitalented Mckmama, whose little boy Stellan was so very ill (and now back home and doing well, thank the Lord!). Obviously, no-one much felt like posting comedic anecdotes on our silliness while Stellan was ill, but now? It's back on!

So here are my things that totally, utterly, definitely did not happen this past week or so...

I totally did not have to call in sick for work this morning due to a nasty-ass reaction I was having. Because of course, being the sensitive skinned, ex-severe eczema sufferer that I am, I religiously study the ingredients of each and every product I ever come into contact with. So I did not have a red, angry looking rash all over my back, arms, and stomach. And it totally wasn't prickly and sore and painful. I did not feel nauseated, or feel faint, or have a monster headache. I totally did not take fifteen minutes to compose and type a four line email to my colleagues because I had to look away from the screen every ten seconds. I then did not go back to bed until one, and awake feeling a tonne better, and am not now feeling a world away from how I was last night/this morning. As if!

I so did not have to check the spelling of eczema back there. How silly would *that* be?

I certainly did not do a happy dance of glee because my beautiful Bentley bracelets arrived in the mail this morning. I'm totally not looking forward to wearing them soon....

I emphatically did not just have soup for tea in place of fresh veggies (which my fridge is full of), simply because I'm a little worn out and tired.

I did not get a little girly and embarassed by some of the party / drinking games that people were playing on Saturday at the barbeque, because of course I love joking about certain somewhat private and personal topics. So naturally I didn't wander off to the kitchen and do the drying up with Matthew inside, so that others could have their fun but I didn't have to go bright red (that would come the next day with the rash. Bdmm, tish!). I'm just not not that cool...

I did not fall about laughing when I discovered I still had one more Christmas gift to deliver. Vixie, this one *literally* has your name on it!

I am not contemplating making myself a little countdown till the actual date of the Big Move of 09 (tm). Or messing around with layouts for 'New Home' cards. I mean, come on! I am also totally excited about moving in with my three boys. It's going to be lively...(or should that be "it's not going to be lively?")

How about you?

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Currents (9th May)

The current favourites on my little planet...

Currently reading...a really good book called Bad Science. Interesting, thought provoking, and agrees with me on some of the rather odd claims of 'Brain Gym' (yeah, I have an issue with 'Brain Gym', the exercises many state schools (and several privates too) do with their students). Because in amongst all the good ideas there (drink water, take brain breaks, exercise, etc....) there's an awful lot of mumbo jumbo too!). Next up, The Undercover Economist. Also reading a fair few blogs and lots of online news too.

Currently watching...my usual mix of trash and current events. Loved the finale of All The Small Things (well, loved 90% of it!), and am keeping up with my rather sad 90210 and Gossip Girl habits. What can I say, I love a good glossy teen drama! Going to break out some documentaries next week. Oh, and I went to see Hannah Montana: The Movie on Thursday. Flipping BRILLIANT! :-)

Currently listening...to a whole mix of stuff - Chemical Brothers, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, Miley Cyrus, Bangles, Stevie Wonder...the whole shebang, as ever.

Currently eating...lots of healthy stuff, actually. Oh, and some plain chocolate too. This afternoon, I will be eating barbeque.

Currently drinking...water, wine, tea, and innocent juices.

Currently....sleeping lots and lots. Listening to the universe when it tells me not to go to the gym (I'd forgotten my trainers!). Planning and daydreaming about the Big Move of 09. Trying not to spend too much money, being seeing lots of gifts I'd like to get folk. Pretending to be a penguin in the yard with the Thornleyites. Living for the weekend, and working my socks off during the week. Writing and sending lots of letters (I love mail!).

How about you?

Have a lovely weekend!

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The merry month of May has barrelled in, and I seem to get busier and busier with each passing month of 2009. How about you? At least to quote Matthew, “a busy Claire is a happy Claire.” I guess I’d modify it slightly though, and add the parentheses (as long as she manages to get enough sleep!).

The long weekend (ah, happy sigh. I *love* long weekends) was suitably delicious, a veritable feast of fun – silliness and smileyness and fun with friends and cuddles with my boy and getting things more and more sorted for the Big Move of ’09 ™. I’m excited, but also terrified – I have a whole heap of stuff to pack.

Friday was lunch at a deli in town with some work friends – a lovely way to kick off, and then the train down to London and across to meet Matthew from work. He and I and his colleagues Alan and John went for a drink, and then Matthew and I went for a walk off round the city, followed by some Chinese (mmmmm, crispy duck pancakes….) and an early night.

On Saturday I caught the tube through to South Ken and met the lovely Kathryn and her two boys, Isaac and Xander, at the Science museum. It’s AMAZING! I can’t believe I hadn’t gone before, and am dying to pop back and explore properly. We had a great time and a good old catch up, before I popped back onto the tube, this time off to Streatham Hill.

For tea and chat and Jessica Fletcher chat with Caroline, Saz, Cheryl and Charlotte. Good times! And lots of sharing of stories of tat we have bought / tat we wish to buy / why we would totally walk another 10 minutes to go to a 97p shop instead of a 98p or 99p one. And then I had my first ever massage (which I was nervous about, of all things…), which was lovely, and very relaxing. And then Cheryl and I zipped off across town to Lee.

Because Ben was making delicious curry for Cheryl, Matthew and I, plus two more friends, Wilf and Siobhán. Lots of chat and wine and curry and just good company. I love having time to spend with my friends and am super excited that in two months I’ll be so close to so many of them! After the fun, it was bus, DLR, tube home, and then a good old sleep.

Sunday was our picnic day in Hyde Park. The ‘host’ was Matthew’s colleague John and his lovely fiancé Holly. There was an eclectic bunch of about a dozen of us, and we had a good time eating, chatting, and playing various ball sports (I even managed to get whacked right in the head once – score ;)), before repairing to a pub (the wind got a little chilly after a while!). After a couple of drinks Matthew and I went for a lovely walk and a drink before heading back home, to watch lots of music videos and drink tea with the Dave.

Monday, lovely lunch with Ems and Siobhán, on part of the roof of The Globe. Bracing and fun! Then shopping (I bought *four* books – Bad Science, The Making of Mary Bennett, The Undercover Economist and The State of Africa), and Nando’s tea with Matthew. Good heavens I love Nando’s. And then back to ‘home’. I love my little flat and my job here, but coming back was tough this time. I think having had such a lovely weekend and knowing I won’t be seeing Matthew for almost a month conspired to put me down in the dumps. Life does that sometimes, no?
But now it’s back to the whirl – exams to write, lessons to teach, friends to meet, workouts to complete, fun to plan. And the most exciting thing on my agenda for the next few days….?

The lie-in I have planned for Sunday!


Hope all is well,
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