gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Mixed bag of a year, but then aren't they always?

Christmas was as Christmas always is, so I'm not going to dwell on that. I did have some fun performing with my choirs though, in a few different places. And choir nights out have to be my favourite :-)

Some changes this year: we finally got to move out of our dingy basement flat, thanks to yet another flood; Rowan moved up to the high school; we both began singing lessons, and I'm sure there's other little bits and bobs that I'll remember once I hit post! ;-)

The move was a challenge, both personally and professionally; The salvage crew absolutely hated dealing with me, as I had so much stuff! lol! They don't fill the boxes to capacity when they clear houses, for safety reasons, and when you take into account my cds, dvds, books.... yeah. Lots of boxes. I still have a dozen or so to empty, but those are the random bits and bobs - a lot of it would have probably been tossed away if I'd been packing the house up myself for a normal move, but the emergency conditions meant it all just got thrown in for me to deal with when I get around to it.
I had to go back to the office while we crashed at Mam's - since I couldn't set my system up on her dining table! - and once we got settled in our new place I was no longer permitted to work in my own living room (despite having done so for a year and a half) and have since been working out of my bedroom :-( Giving very strong consideration to going back to the office permanently in the spring, as well as increasing my hours now that Rowan's that little bit more independant. Still not in a position to go back to full time, at least while I'm still working towards my degree, but getting there.

High school has been a challenge for Rowan, as he struggled with doing his homework and getting there on time. He's had multiple friday afternoon detentions, which are specifically for students with attendance issues, as well as a proper detention for still not getting his act together. I think some of the issues with his homework is confidence, and not quite grasping the point of it all - he likes to have a reason, rather than be told 'get on with it, because that's what's expected of you!', and sometimes he doesn't quite grasp what he's being taught without a different explanation. But then again, that's true for most of us, right? I try and help, but he doesn't always let me know he needs the help till it's too late. He's also walking there and back now, which is saving me heaps on bus fare! He just needs to get better at getting out of bed and ready for school early enough to get there on time - a major part of why he was almost always late last term is because he kept stopping to pre-order his lunch on the canteen's automated system, which got him to his registration room late! *sigh* He really needs to stop eating ham and mushroom pizza for lunch every day.... lol!

I don't think I'm ever going to regret finally biting the bullet and approaching a vocal coach for singing lessons. It's frustrating at times, but I expected that going in. Listening back to the audio file of the lesson is hard, because of all the stammering I do unconciously, but I'm happier month on month with how the songs sound. I'm waiting back to hear about an appointment with the speech therapist; I frightened myself with just how down I was getting about it, and even my GP was a bit concerned about my mental health as I blubbered my way through my request. I don't think my vocal coach thinks I need to go back into therapy - particularly since I hated it so much the first time around - and is musing over things we can do in her sessions, but perhaps time and a different perspective will make me less resistant.
Rowan seems to enjoy his lessons too; he had all the issues that were spotted in my voice, but I lack the training to deal with them in him without giving him a complex! lol! He doesn't always concentrate well, but she's brilliant with him. I make a point of keeping almost completely silent during his lessons - partially because it's being recorded for home study, and partially because I can be a major 'helicopter-mother' which stresses him out and makes him act up even more. So I stay quiet, smile encouragingly and try to keep the 'pay attention!!' glares to a minimum. I also love how it's always Rowan who decides when his next lesson is going to be, since I make a point to never force him into anything like this. I don't expect him to do anything with these lessons, ultimately, but he loves to sing just as much as I do, and if I can help make it more enjoyable then I will.

The resumbission of my final assignment for the OU music course is due next week. I don't honestly know how that'll pan out, but ultimately it'll be okay. I simply may have to do another level two course somewhere down the line, but for now I'm getting excited for my level three course in English grammar, starting in February. It's been cemented in my mind that I don't learn practical things well in a distance-learning environment, but never once did I dislike the music course - I'm even contemplating signing up for the evening classes in music theory at Cardiff Uni's Lifelong Learning Centre! Big difference from how I'm usually pulling my hair out in frustration halfway through my OU courses, huh? :-)

Fun things about 2013: getting to see Pentatonix live in Birmingham was such a blast! I really hope I can see them again on their 2014 tour. Also seeing 'Singing In The Rain' was fun - I didn't get a programmme this time, so I had no idea that Lina Lamont was Faye from Steps!? It takes a hell of a lot of talent to sing that badly, so kudos to her. We couldn't help laughing at the poor souls who sat at the front, cheerfully enduring multiple soakings! Looking forward to seeing 'Wicked' in April, as a birthday present to myself! :-)

So, 2014.... I'm not sure what the year will bring. I know things need to change at work, and I need to help Rowan cope with school better next term. I'd like to be less of a Debbie Downer next year, though I think some of that comes with having no-one to vent to when things frustrate me - which means you poor sods have to put up with my whinging! lol! I don't need to earn buckets of cash, but I would like to be less worried about money; I almost have my head around the bills for this place, now we've been here a while, so it's all the other odds and sods I need to get a grip on.

I want to sing more, write more, spend more time with my friends - do more of the things that make me happy. I also hope to be a better parent to Rowan, and a better friend to all of you.
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I've been having fun today proving to myself that childhood indoctrination does indeed work! :-)

I'm on a bit of a Beatles kick, so I finally went out and bought myself CD copies of the Red and Blue albums - I've had them on vinyl forever (read: my Dad's LPs mysteriously found themselves in my collection. Ooops?) but it's been a very long time since I owned a working record player, sadly. I have the 1s album already, plus Revolver and Rubber Soul, but all my other Beatles albums are vinyl, so I figure it's waaaaaaay beyond time I did something about that!

I put the Red album on this morning when I got up, and within a minute Rowan was singing along. We're now listening to 'Hello/Goodbye' on the Blue album, and he's still singing along! *beams* Sure, he doesn't know all the songs, but I consider this a first round win!

He doesn't want to play Beatles Rockband with me this afternoon though... *pouts*

I've always maintained the Beatles are woven into British DNA ;-)
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
So! As you guys are aware, back in May we got flooded out of our flat for the second time in five years. We lost every scrap of furniture save for two desks, and even the white goods got written off this time out. In keeping with post-flood tradition, here's a picspam of the chaos, as captured by my phone.
Picspammage ahoy! )

On the upside, the council did agree to find us somewhere else to live - initially as a temporary measure, but by July we were offered the chance to stay permanently. You can bet we accepted! While the new flat's not much different in layout, and possibly even a little smaller since I can't fit a double bed in my room, it certainly feels less oppressive than the old place. The living room has a heck more light, being up on the top floor, and the ceilings are incredibly high - such a difference from being in a basement, let me tell you!

I took a whole load of photos of the flat when I first got shown around, mostly for reference purposes when planning my replacement furniture, but those aren't worth sharing. I'm one more IKEA trip away from being ready to take shareable pictures, since I need a few more bookcases! *laughs* We still have lots of boxes hanging around, and I've yet to purchase rugs (not bothering with carpets this time), but otherwise we're pretty settled now. The only headache is that when my new team manager came by for her first 1-2-1 meeting with me, she was concerned with the fact I had my workstation set up in the living room; this, she felt, was a security concern - despite the fact I don't take any calls, and keep an almost paperless workstation. In order to resolve this, I ended up having to move my system off the big desk I have set up in a really nice, well lit area of living room, and reassemble the little desk work provided in a corner of my bedroom! Where there's about as much light as the living room of my basement flat! *sigh* So I am now spending pretty much my entire day in my bedroom. You can imagine my joy...

On top of that, she also triggered a review of the policy with regards dependants being present during working hours - with the final decision that it's absolutely unacceptable without another adult to take responsibility for them. So, after a year and a half of being able to work even if Rowan's on school holidays, or sick, or there's a teacher training day, I now have to look into childcare options again! Or take unpaid leave if he's too sick to go to school *quitely fumes* It's not like I don't understand where they're coming from, I'm just so frustrated 'cause it was working so well for me! I was hoping to up my hours soon, now that I don't have to do the school run anymore, but at this rate I'll be working those extra hours just to pay for the sodding holiday camps! *sigh* I was allowed to have him home with me this summer, since the situation was under review, but not from here on out. Plus the poor sod was lonely, since he's used to having me in the living room with him, even if he has to let me to get on with my work undisturbed.

Still planning to get someplace else to live, if only to be closer to town, and hopefully have a separate room in which to work, but it's not as desperately urgent as it was in the spring. It's been lovely this last week, actually, being able to pop down to the district's shopping centre before Rowan arrives home, whenever I've needed a few bits and peices. I used to have to do that on the way home from school, which wasn't a problem as we had to get the bus from Albany Rd anyway - and I do miss having daily access to the shops there, which are so much better than around here - but it wouldn't be anywhere near as convenient from the old flat. So, y'know, every cloud and all that...
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I think I've known all of you long enough now that you may all remember this incident in September 2008, where my flat got flooded out after heavy rainfall.

Yeah. Guess what.... )
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
We had a very special rehearsal at Superchoir on Wednesday night - it was our first anniversary! :-) One of the sopranos, Cath, had mentioned bringing in cake in order to celebrate - something she does from time to time, and has done since our six-month anniversary, as I recall - so I decided I wanted to do a little something myself, and the two of us made a plan. This resulted in a 'mission' that I was tweeting about in vague terms for the entire day *laughs*

Since Cath was making cake, I decided that I would make some of my home-made jelly. After all, what's a party without cake and jelly, right? I've had a great deal of success with a Jamie Oliver recipe, which basically involves real fruit juice and gelatine leaves instead of those blocks of artificial flavouring that you dissolve in hot water and chill. I made a huge 'traffic light' one (Red, Orange and Green) for Rowan's tenth birthday that was a big hit, and I've also made ones with various fresh fruit juice mixes like pear and apple, or apple and raspberry, that were very yummy. I decided I was going to make another 'traffic light' jelly for the choir folks, but I couldn't actually afford to go shopping till the Wednesday morning so that meant Rowan and I had to be on the bus to the supermarket by 7:30 (thank goodness for school holidays!) in order to get the various supplies we needed and be back in time for me to make a start and still log in to work on time. We were thankfully back home by 8:45, so I had time to make the first layer of three pots of jelly (I have moulds with lids these days! Love them so much!) and still have a calm breakfast before work.

Now, of course, it's not as simple as all that. What ever is, right? There's a couple of ladies in the choir who are vegan, so obviously they're not able to eat anything Cath and I prepared; on learning this some months back, Cath researched alternative recipes for vegan-friendly cakes, and appears to have had some successful results. I didn't have the time to look into and practise making jellies without gelatine, so I had to think of other alternatives. A quick websearch later gave me the inspiration to put together fruit kebabs; quick and very easy - or would have been, had I been able to find kebab sticks!! I asked a member of staff, only to be told that since the barbeque range would be out shortly, the store had discontinued them for the moment *sigh* So this meant that I would have to run out after work and go into town to find them. Picked some up in the very first store I went into (the awesome Kitchens, where I could happily spend quite a lot of money) but then got delayed going home when Rowan insisted on stopping in Burger King for his tea prior to spending the evening with his grandmother. Despite explaining to him that I needed to get back home to put the third layers of jelly in to set (I'd spent my lunch break doing the second layers), he still dawdled *eyeroll* Wouldn't have been so bad except the second layers hadn't quite been set enough for an additional layer when I'd finished work.

As it is, the pots needed a fourth layer in order to be full, but that would only have been possible if I'd been in a position to start it off the night before. I ended up having to ask my mother to give me a lift down the Bay to rehearsal, in order to be able to leave the moulds in the fridge for as long as possible, then having to speak very nicely to the kind bar staff of the hotel about borrowing some fridge space in their kitchen till the end of rehearsal. But in the end the jellies were fully set - even if the layers of orange jelly intended to represent Amber overwhelmed the layers of apple that were supposed to represent Green - and everyone seemed pleased. The fruit kebabs Rowan and I made were also very popular, and the ladies were happy about the carrot, celery and cucumber I sliced up to go with some vegetarian houmous dip I picked up. I was anxious about the dip, since I don't know the full in's and out's of what's acceptable under a vegan diet, but Beth assured me it was fine, and was in fact its most eager consumer! *laughs*

The rehearsal itself went brilliantly; everyone was in a stellar mood, especially Patrick, who began teaching us 'Wings' by Little Mix (an awesome song, if you've not heard it look it up!) - he's been wanting to do it since it came out, so he was brimming over with enthusiasm. And this is a gentleman who epitomises excited energy, so you can imagine what he was like that night! Some of the less experienced choristers were apparently trying a little too hard with learning the harmonies, taking it too seriously, since Patrick felt the need at one point to tell them to chill out! *laughs* I love being in learning mode - I actually prefer it to the gigs, most of the time. We're doing Adele's 'Skyfall' at work too, so it's a good time for me! I wasn't able to go to rehearsal at work the next day, since I'd stupidly forgotten that it was Good Friday that week so I wasn't allowed to swap my day off, and I no longer have my usual childcare options on a Thursday during the holidays. *sigh* Probably going to have to do the same again next week, but at least the practise tracks for 'Skyfall' have been uploaded, so I can practise at home.

Oh, and both Rowan and I very nearly screamed out loud when we went back to the supermarket the following afternoon for some regular shopping. What should we see alongside the jelly and custard, and again on the bread aisle, but some sodding kebab sticks!!! Didn't have any in stock, my arse.... If we'd not been in a hurry, and could have gone up and down all the aisles like we usually do, we would have found them and I wouldn't have had such a nightmare finishing my jellies! *eyeroll*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
....long time no update! And I see quite a few things have changed about the general look of LJ while I've been navelgazing elsewhere....

You know how you think of lots of things you might want to tell people, but then you get distracted or lose confidence that anyone - even yourself - gives two hoots about what you have to say? Yeah. That.

I did do something of interest this weekend though! Two things, really; Saturday morning saw me and the Admiral/Superchoir gangs down Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, for a gig to raise money for Tenovus. It's always cool when we have gigs that combine several of the choirs, as the more voices the better the sound. It was a long set; three sets of three songs, followed by an encore after the raffle, but it seemed to go really, really well. Patrick, the Superchoir faciliator, was conducting us and Dave, the Admiral facilitator, was in amongst the Tenors. We usually struggle with getting enough male voices, but with the four choirs combined there were thankfully enough. Andrea, George and Emma came and joined the ladies for the encore, which was 'Lean On Me' - Andrea's voice always stands out when she joins us, being classically trained and everything :-) She lets fly with these lovely vocal runs at the conclusion to the songs, which always adds that little something extra.

Saturday evening, we treked our way to another remote part of the city across the motorway from the boondocks where we reluctantly reside, so I could have my first ever face-to-face singing lesson with a lovely lady called Angela. Angela knows and has worked with George and Andrea in the past, so I know she's good at what she does, and I thoroughly enjoyed my lesson. She had me working on getting the nasality out of my tone, and also some work on crossing over from my chest voice to my head voice - at one point she had me quite easily hitting the C above Middle C, which is around my break these days. It always frustrates me as I still feel like I should be able to hit that note like I did when I was younger. I realise that voices change as we get older, but that C still seems so low that it bugs me anyway! :-) It's the E above it that I should be struggling with, surely! *chuckles*

Interestingly, she didn't say anything to indicate she thought I was playing it safe singing as low as I normally do in choir - unlike when I had a Skype lesson with Eric. She actually kept me down in the Alto/high Tenor range for the most part, but maybe that's because she was just focusing on the break rather than exploring my head voice too. She also had some observations about my stammer in relation to my breathing - often describing it as a 'tsunami' of breath, and that I didn't tend to stammer if I hadn't taken a breath immediately prior to speaking. It was interesting, and she was a little affectionate-but-stern-school-teacher about working on improving that - which, to my dismay, made me choke up a little bit but I think I mostly retained my composure, and therefore a modicum of dignity. I think it was an element of 'holy crap, does this mean there actually is something that can be done?' All my year of therapy when I was sixteen consisted of was talking about my feelings with regards to my stammer, which did me no good whatsoever! I was in a good place the following year when the therapist asked me if I felt it was worth continuing - to which I responded an emphatic no! - but the April I turned seventeen was a good time for me; I'd met my best friends for life, I was in my first relationship and still pretty content with it, tertiary college was going well.... I was just generally fairly happy at that point in my life.

I'm booked in again in three weeks time, though that kind of gap between lessons is really not ideal. It's going to be a struggle getting the fee together for that though, let alone weekly lessons. This is something I want to do, though, and maybe I'm being selfish but it's just nice to do something for me for a change.
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I'm currently having a tweet conversation with the representative of Manchester Airport! *mind boggled*

There's a new series on BBC2 called 'The Choir' where this bloke called Gareth Malone has gone around a number of big companies in the UK and started up workplace choirs, looking at how they effect moral. Which, as you guys know, is what Andrea and George have been doing since 2008! *grins* So we've started hanging out on Twitter while the show is on, commenting encouraging things and - as a useful side effect - raising awareness of Sing & Inspire and what they do.

The hour or so beforehand involves a certain rallying of the troops, so there's a bit of chatter going on already - the Manchester Airport tweeter spotted this and sent me a comment, so we've been bantering back and forth a little bit. *grin* I have no idea how people manage to post Twitter threads on Livejournal so I can't show anyone, but it's amusing me no end! *grin*

/random

Sep. 20th, 2012 08:45 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I have been known to bitch about the drivel on constant repeat on the childrens cable channels, but there are some entertaining things about it. For one thing, I've spent the last ten years playing 'guess the voiceover artist', from CBeebies all the way to Disney XD. It's certainly good for your sanity when you're forced to endure this stuff day in, day out.

The more recent, interesting developments (at least to me) include getting to see that the kid who plays an irritating (yet sometimes endearing) supporting role on the kids show 'Zeke And Luther' (a somewhat annoying show about a couple of teenage skaters - but there are many, many worse shows out there) now has another supporting role as one of the bullying jocks in the new season of Glee. Which amuses me to no end.

Plus the new series of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' not only includes voice artists from 'Ben 10: Ultimate Alien' and 'I'm In The Band', but Agent Coulson's still about - and voiced by the same guy. *approves*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
It's the annual Mardi Gras this weekend, and once again we had a spot on the caberet stage - which was rectangular this year, and therefore not as bouncy as the previous octagon-shaped one, but only slightly! We were given a long enough slot for eight songs, which was cool, and a couple of the ladies from the Superchoir came along to hand out fliers for the Superchoir and encourage people to buy our album :-) It was a fun gig and went really, really well - with no hiccups courtesy of the CD player like last year! lol! Though at one point the next track came on a little too quickly, so we had to really focus on Dave - the composer, who was conducting us today - in order to make sure we stayed in time while we settled into the song.

Had to scarper out of the event pretty quickly, as Rowan had a hairdressers appointment that I never got around to rescheduling - I've been really bad about getting things sorted out lately, and I can't stand making phone calls as it is - but we came back afterwards 'cause Rowan wanted to ride the chair-o-planes. He changed his mind at the last minute though - I think the speed of the rides alongside freaked him out somehow? :-/ So we only stayed about twenty minutes in the end.

We then popped over to the lawn in front of City Hall, where they previously had the Olympic rings on display above the pool of the water fountain and have since replaced it with the Paralympic symbol, which is cool. I took pictures, but my phone's having issues with uploading photos right now. I might upload it at another date if anyone wants to see.

On the bus home, Rowan and I had another of our recurring conversations about his academic future - I swear I'm not one of those parents who insist that their primary school age child give serious thought to their future careers, though of course we've had the 'what would you like to be when you grow up' talk. Rowan's seemingly given up on his intentions to be a racing car driver (he thinks it would make him rich! lol!) and has set his heart on becoming an astronomer. I responded encouragingly, saying that I think he might enjoy that since it involves a lot of mathematics. Rowan takes after his Dad in the sense that he enjoys Maths more than English - though I do think he could do okay with English too if he would just get past the mental block he has about it. He loves to read and tell stories, and he's got quite a vivid imagination. We've talked many times about how I think he'll enjoy Physics when he gets to high school, seeing as it's quite a mathematical subject. Rowan wanted to know what he'd need to study in order to be an astronomer - we guessed Maths and Physics - and I also tried to get him to think about what else he could study, both as a back-up plan and for simple interest. Then when we got home I checked the website for Cardiff Uni's astronomy program to see what the entry requirements would be - as we guessed, Maths and Physics A-levels.

My son is ten years old. This is a very strange experience for me. lol! But anything that will put a rocket up his behind academically is fine with me. If he wants to have a goal in mind, even this early, then awesome.

Tonight also saw the return of a long-standing Saturday night tradition; snuggling together on the sofa to watch Doctor Who :-) I'm not going to talk about the episode, for fear of spoilers, but it was very nice to have that hour's cwtch after a knackering day and we finished off a tub of Phish Food that was in the freezer. I am soo ready for the sumer holidays to be over and have life get back to normal, even if it does mean the chaos of Christmas is fast approaching.

*dreams*

Aug. 20th, 2012 09:11 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Rowan's taking a liking to watching reruns of 'Man Vs Food' and I gotta admit I'm getting quite into it too. One reason is that it's giving me ideas for my future epic tour of the US - that I will do. One day.

See, my plan is to - predictably - visit all fifty states. I don't necessarily want to spend a whole lot of time in each state, as I'll likely be under time constraints. But I want to spend at least a couple of hours in a place of interest in each state - and watching Adam Richman geek out over various resteraunts in various cities certainly helps with ideas! :-)

Rowan really wants to go to the seafood resteraunt in Seattle where they serve a seafood medley directly on to the table! lol!

I'm still very much in the early planning stages, but I know I'm going to spend a great deal of the trip in Ohio! lol! Not only will I want to hug one of my bestest friends till she pops, I want to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Plus the Gleek in me wants to get a coffee in Lima (even if the Lima Bean doesn't exist), and get my photograph taken outside a Gap store in Westerville :-D

The trip's going to be a mix of visiting friends - even if only for a coffee, checking out one or two baseball parks (I also want to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown), and checking out a few 'must-visit' eating houses :-) Now if I could just get the money together to actually do this.... bloody real life responsibilities.... *mutter mutter mutter*
gothams3rdrobin: (daffodil)
Getting in the car after the gig up the Rhondda tonight:
Me: "So, what did you think?"
Mam: "It was alright."
Me: "Oh. Cheers."

Paying for petrol at the supermarket Mam works for:
Mam to colleague: "Yeah, on our way home from the concert. It was fabulous!"
Me: *eyetwitch*

So yeah. That happened.
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I tend to think of a million things to waffle about on here, when I'm away from my computer... :-p Then, on the increasingly rare occasions I'm actually sat at a computer (I do a lot on my phone these days, and typing on that thing is tedious) I'm either too distracted by the various things I want to read, or I've gotten it into my head that what I wanted to say isn't interesting enough to post.

This is, I realise, my own blog and I'm as free as everyone else to write whatever the hell I like. And I would like to get back into the habit of writing up notable things that go on in my life - if only to convince myself that I do sorta have one. I just don't tend to... *hands*

Read more... )
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Hylo peeps! :-) Long time no blog! lol! The downside of doing a lot of my net-lurking on my phone (which I've had for a year now! o.O) is that I rarely have the motivation to fuss around with typing up comments and posts - hence I'm even quieter than normal! *ignores the deafening applause* ;-)

Anyhoo - at some point in the last week or so, my little Tilly-Tilly Ossenfeffer reached a year old! Can't believe she's been with us for ten months already! So to mark the occasion, I'm going to pic-spam you all! lol!
Pics pics and more pics! )
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Listening to some old Mp3s while I work and a plot bunny just bit me. In a fandom I don't write.

I have too much on right now, dammit! Lol


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

gothams3rdrobin: (me)
This probably isn't news to you, but I could swear I just saw Warbler Trent walking the halls of McKinley High!!!

*is stupidly amused by this*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Work finally arranged for a computer to be installed here today, ready for when I start working from home. Still don't know when that's going to be, though they reckon it should be by the end of the month. *sigh* I know they need to get as many possible issues resolved before we 'go live' as they can, but honestly, the phrase 'couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery' springs to mind...

I still don't know exactly how my shifts are going to be organised, or where exactly I'm going to get my work from. I could probably talk to the Operations Manager who put me through for the trial, but I don't know if he knows any more than I do. The woman co-ordinating us certainly doesn't! I'm really hoping I can shuffle my hours a little so I can get Thursday off as well as Friday, as this will help me with my studies - if I can manage to hold down two courses this year and next, I'll be graduating by the end of next year. Plus if I can sufficiently increase my hours, there's a good chance I'll be able to move. Need to be closer to wherever the hell it is I'm going to be sending Rowan to high school anyway - I've only got a year and nine months, and I have to start the application process in nine months time.

Those of you who also have experience with working from home for long periods of time; do you have any suggestions for what works best at lunchtimes? If I stay home to study or clean I have a bad habit of not bothering to eat, or maybe snacking on something unhealthy. I'm also trying to lose some weight through calorie counting - started off quite well, but I do tend to go on a bit of a binge over Christmas. I've been cutting bread and dairy out of my diet as best I can, as I've noticed it makes me somewhat congested and sluggish. My nose is a lot less blocked these days, and any time I eat a sandwich or some toast I feel a bit rubbish. It's quite wierd, actually; one time I ended up eating a breakfast bap, followed by a sandwich for lunch, then some toast for tea, and my sinuses went nuts! I had a headache for days afterwards.

I won't be able to walk as much as I do at the moment, as my current routine has me attempt to walk between the office and Rowan's school at least once a day, if not twice. Can't do that between school and home due to very steep hills - I used to walk home from this district when I was at my first high school, when I was living down where Rowan's school is, as it was mostly downhill. But in order to get to that long downhill part, you had to walk halfway across this estate (which took me half an hour on a good day last year when it snowed) then up a long hill to the top of the downhill leg of the journey.... I did it sometimes in the summer when I wanted to spend my bus fare on a Mr Freeze ice pop - but as you can imagine it wasn't a habit!

The upside is that it will make my online shopping a lot easier, even if work are somewhat disapproving of that idea. I should therefore be able to keep ingredients to hand much, much easier.

Right now, however, Matilda is snoring as she snoozes across my arms, and I almost fell asleep watching Transformers with Rowan. Looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Hello peeps! Long time no update, huh? Been difficult to find time for anything other than micro-blogging for the last little while - my latest OU course is kicking my arse, and winter is always a hectic time anyway.

But! But but BUT!

This morning we took delivery of the first production run of our album!!! And while I can't help listening back to it and thinking "Yeah, we could have done that bit a little better...", I absolutely LOVE it! When you're right in the thick of the group you don't get to hear the whole effect.

It's not available for download yet - there's still some legal paperwork that needs to get completed, but Andrea's anticipating that being finished in January. Meantime, if anyone would like to have a listen, there's a couple of tracks available on our Soundcloud page. I'm helping to maintain it, along with one of the guys - not sure yet how the site works, but should be fun finding out!

The thing I love most about listening to the album is the memories it brings back of the two days we spent in a recording studio at Newport University; we were hot, exhausted, going hoarse and mainlining Ricola throat sweets, but having the best time ever! I also can't help trying to pick out my own voice, particularly in those moments when the Altos had a solo line. :-)

It's so cool guys! I'm on an honest-to-god album!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
(Yes, I know - it was deliberate)

Our big fund-raiser at the Tiger Tiger nightclub is tomorrow! *bites nails* While it's not the biggest venue we've performed at (RAH two years ago, naturally) it's the biggest performance we've given to date - we're singing about ten songs, in three sets.

One of the claims staff wanted to be able to sing a special song for the gig, as a specific tribute to Alex and Bethan - Queen's 'Only The Good Die Young', which I absolutely adore. Andrea was initially wary - particularly as there was very little time for us to learn the song - so she said "Fine, but you are going to have to perform it solo." Next thing she knows, Kim has gotten together with Tony and they've turned it into a duet - though not in the same way as the song was originally written, with Brian and Roger taking verses each. This plan was so popular with the rest of us that last week our composer Dave came into rehearsal to listen to them perform it, with a view to perhaps throwing together a two part harmony for the rest of us - despite he and Andrea having a monumentally heavy schedule at the moment.

They stayed up all night last Thursday working on it, before going to London for the weekend for their own gigs/networking/etc, then spent Sunday recording it for us so it could be uploaded to the website by Monday morning. We have then had the rest of the week to learn it in our own time, before the rehearsal today. Naturally Andrea was really anxious whether or not this would be enough time, but you know how people can rally together with enough motivation? Yep. We belted it out, and made her cry *chuckles* Several of the choir were tearing up too - particularly those who actually knew Alex and Bethan, but some just for the sadness of losing a child. To me the song is an open letter to Freddie Mercury, and he's been gone for such a long time now - Sting's 'Fields Of Gold' on the other hand... combine that with the imagery of a certain advert for a cancer charity back when Rowan was a baby? I used to bawl my eyes out!

Anyway, we have a two hour rehearsal tomorrow afternoon when we're gonna run through everything, with the Swansea guys able to join us too. They've been trying to negotiate a once-a-month rehearsal for all of us, to make things easier when gigs come up, but so far it's not happened. Most of the Swansea members haven't gone through the big 'Born Free' medley we did for the Albert Hall, which of course we have to perform tomorrow, so it's really important we have that one nailed.

It's been a bit of a nightmare the last few days though; Mam's having Rowan for the night, as it's a lateish gig at a nightclub, but her cousin's husband passed away suddenly and the funeral is tomorrow. In the Valleys :-/ She wanted me to see if there was anyone could collect him from school for her, but the person I used to be able to rely on moved away over the summer, and Rowan's best friend went to visit his Dad in Crewe for the weekend after school today. Everyone else I could have approached either already has afterschool clubs to deal with, or no longer feel the need to hang around the schoolyard so I don't get to see them at all! So in the end I've had to take him out of school for the day - something I do as rarely as I possibly can - and keep him with me till Mam can get the train back after the funeral. I just hope she doesn't have to stay too long in order to not feel like she's running away and snubbing the family.

I can't wait! I'm excited, nervous.... it's going to be a hell of a night. And then next month we get to record!

So...

Aug. 28th, 2011 12:53 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (eddy writing)
The summer hols are almost over once more - thank god. It's been trying, as always, and I'll be glad when I no longer need to arrange childcare for Rowan while I'm at work.

He spent the first week camping at Chepstow Racecourse with the St John Ambulance, and he seems to have hated every minute of it. I missed him while he was away, and didn't get anything done that I had planned - I mostly came home from work and crashed out for the evening. I did take the opportunity to go see 'Captain America', though I would have preferred not to go alone. Such is my life, however.

Since he got back, he's spent the first three days of each week at his usual holiday club in a nearby leisure centre, then Thursdays with his grandmother. On Fridays I've been taking him with me to the rehearsals I've been running for the alto section of my choir - though only one or two ever turn up, and they're usually the ones that make the effort to attend the regular rehearsals every week and only need a little bit extra practise. The whole point was for the people who've missed several weeks, or are new, to get the chance to catch up! *sigh* I realise it's not easy for everyone to make it - I get excuses about meetings and team lunches and all sorts - so I try not to let it get to me. It can be hard to reign in my inner Rachel Berry though, when I hear people in my section bemoaning how they 'don't know this one' - they're not even practising at home! *grrr*

Anyway. After the rehearsal is done, Rowan and I go get a bite to eat and spend the afternoon doing something fun. Usually it's the cinema; we've seen 'Harry Potter', 'The Smurfs' (though in 2D - I recommend the 3D as I think we missed out in certain places. Didn't expect to, as most of the 3D in the films I've seen have been shoehorned in) and yesterday we went to see 'Glee In Concert'.

Best. Use. Of. 3D. Ever!

I don't care if anyone's sneering at the screen now, 'cause we went to see that. I loved it, and so did Rowan.

Last Friday I took Rowan swimming - something I haven't done since he was a baby, though he's spent time in the pool over the last couple of years through school. We were in the water for about two and a half hours, and loved every minute of it. He can't actually swim yet, but his confidence in the water is wonderful; we messed around with the floats a lot, pulling each other through the water, and he would cling to my back while I jumped around, both of us laughing like idiots. The last hour or so, we were deep in the middle of the pool - one of the advantages of me being short and him being tall is that we can currently mess around at more or less the same depth - and he was launching himself off my thighs into the water, trying to do somersaults. The only sad thing about it was that they never put the wave machine on the whole time we were there *pout*

The next day, we were joined by Rowan's classmate Lewis, and Lewis's little sister Eryn. Their parents were having to move house - all the way to the other side of the city too, so they've had to change schools.... *sulks* - so we kept Lewis and Eryn entertained for the day. They have four kids in total, the eldest being old enough to help out with the move, but I wouldn't have been able to cope with the toddler as well. Rowan's excitable enough when he has friends around, but when Eryn's around it's like they're a pair of Tazmanian Devils! *laughs* Neither of them were truly naughty, though I had to tell Eryn off more times than I'm used to 'cause she kept running off, and Lewis is always well behaved. We took them bowling down the Bay, which went well, then they cleaned me out on the amusement arcade *sigh* But I think they all had fun, and their Dad came to collect them just as I was dishing up some pasta for their tea. Going to miss having them all around, but hopefully the 'net will help with keeping in touch.

Work's been as dull as ever, and there's less work to go around at the moment too. We get our work allocated to us through an Excel spreadsheet - and hasn't that been a nightmare, having up to thirty people trying to work off the same file simultaneously! - and they've recently started training up previously 'phones-only teams to do some of our work. Which, of course, means there's less for the rest of us... *eyeroll* I really hate coming in of a morning to find maybe an hour and a half's work for me, then have to spend the rest of my - admittedly short - shift trying to locate more. My productivity always seems to suffer when I have to go looking.

There has been a new development, however. They're looking into testing how feasible it would be to have staff working from home. I think the main focus is on 'phones staff, as IT will have to install a system and phone into the work area of whoever tests it, but I emailed the Ops Manager asking whether this would also apply to someone like me since it would be very, very easy to arrange. All I would need would be access to the database software that hold's the policy files, the excel files we work off, and my work email account. I didn't hear back from Wayne, but a couple of days later I'm included in an email to those who have been selected to do the trial! I honestly don't know how well it would work out for me - I don't have a room I can use as an 'office', just a small desk over to the side of the living room where the home PC is. But depending on how they would expect me to organise my work hours, it could make things a lot easier for me regarding childcare - or I could find being at home extremely distracting. I honestly don't know, but it might be fun to find out. Plus attending choir might be a bit of a challenge, since it's a thirty minute bus ride each way. The trial's supposed to be for between four and six months - we'll just have to wait and see.

My new course for the Open University begins in about six weeks! *bites nails* It's a music course, and I've been going through their preparatory programme to revise the music theory I was supposed to have been taught during my GCSEs. As I'm sure you can imagine, the music department in my school wasn't that well funded and it was considered a 'bird course' by five out of the nine pupils in my class. I've been learning how the Sibelius software we've been provided works, mostly by painstakingly typing in scores out of my collection of song books - that is the best fun ever! And it helps cement some of the mechanics of music into my head as I go so it's not a waste of time. I'm really looking forward to the course itself, and once Rowan's back in school I'll have the majority of my Fridays back to get stuck in before it actually starts in October.

We have lots happening in the choir too; Mardis Gras next Saturday, which should be a blast, then we have a gig in London a couple of weeks later!! Just a small one in a hotel in Picadilly, but it has some sort of link to the BAFTAs? *hands* Then at the end of September we're throwing a party at the Tiger Tiger nightclub as a fund-raiser for our album, before we get stuck in to actually making it at the end of October! \O/ I honestly can't wait! We should have the actual discs in our grubby little paws by Christmas!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
So it occurs to me that I haven't mentioned on my LJ the new addition to the household; my twelve week old kitten Matilda (Tilly), who joined us on July 8th and has been causing chaos around here ever since!

The story so far! )

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