Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m Not Here, I’m at the Shops!

Today signified another contract ending and me going to a new contract in a couple of weeks. I am very humbled that as I look back over the past year, I have been blessed with continuous work when others have had to battle with knowing whether or not they will be able to earn an income let alone being able to have another job to jump to.

With the next contract I had resolved that this next employment will be the final one where I will be working for someone else. So long as I discipline myself to start to actually build my internet presence then I should – in theory – have more time set aside to complete my book, get the animation project going and update this blog on a regular basis.

On the animation and book cover front, I managed to get in touch with a family member who is a talented artist with a view to obtaining a quote for her to do my artwork and am looking forward to seeing how she progresses with her style.

Today I took another leap of faith by purchasing my own domain name and finally being known online as but what a faff at the expense of trying to save some pennies. I had initially clicked onto the wrong button and ended up creating an additional site which had the term ‘dotcom’ at the end of my name. I muttered under my breath in frustration and then proceeded to spend the next few minutes trying to work out how to undo what I’d done.

When I had eventually managed to work out how not to be billed for £84 my two wonderful offspring chose to buddy up and tag team me by taking turns talking to me just at the point when I was setting up the website again.

But again, thanks be to God I got to the point where not only am I no longer a “” website but I’ve managed to add to this blog.

So the moral of this story is make sure when you’re setting up your domain name on Word Press that you lock yourself in the closet with your laptop and tell your kids that you’ve gone out to the shops.

2021 – adaptation or Change….?

I’m sat here on day two of 2021 and like most people I am reflecting on 2020 and what I learnt from it. I initially could not wait to see the end of this year – I’ve lost an Aunt in such a Covid-19 way that she gave up the will to exist anymore as she had thought in her dementia state, that the reason why she no longer had any visitors was because we’d forgotten her. She was too far gone to realise nor understand that the hospital she was in had to go into lockdown due to a pandemic. So she literally starved herself to death.

Then there was the loss of one of our four-legged family members. Granted it was due to a tumour but he had to suffer longer than normal due to not being able to go to a vets to get him checked out when we first began to notice something was wrong back in March, at the beginning of the UK wide lockdown.

Yet all through last year there was a word which I clung onto…. Adapt

I had to adapt regular habits in favour of things which enabled me to survive and carry on. From getting up at the crack of dawn each Saturday so that I could get further up in the queue at my local supermarkets and not have to wait more than 4 hours in order to get food. To adapting to the idea of working form home and not having to commute to work. When society was more lax towards the end of August I had to adapt back to having to commute which was awful but I did what I had to do.

So with 2021 comes a new word…Change

Whilst with Adapt I would acclimatise to new circumstances, it seems like with Change this new season will see me moving into something completely new. As to what that is, I’ll save until the end of the year and let you know.

But likewise this Adapt/ Change involved with 2020/21 is not limited to just myself. I was blown away recently to witness how ferocious my cute resident kitty actually is! For the longest and especially while his brother was alive he was relegated to the front garden and a busy main road as his territory. When he’s indoors he just oozes with concentrated cuteness and at every opportunity, he’ll let out this kitten-like high pitched “Meow” which prompts a tummy rub/food/playtime/singing… he just has us well trained. Indoors, he was just a bundle of fluffy cuteness and came across as though he wouldn’t hurt a fly. And he doesn’t in the summer – he’ll just let those poo-eating blue bottles plant their filthy bodies on any kind of food and stare at them until he nods off. But a couple of weeks ago the whole household was ablaze with the fact that we saw a very different side of Vinny, a scarier, sinister, Hannibal Lecter kind of kitty who did not bullishly chase any Toms off his territory but who stalked a Tom cat out of the back garden, to the degree that the neighbour’s cat will need therapy. I mean the other cat was so freaked out by the fact that he was being pursued by an animal who made no sound, but made it plainly obvious that he was going to murder him, and bury him under the patio, that the other Tom ran all the way home!

The Cute Resident Kitty

So this is my conundrum – was that an adaptation from the resident kitty or a change?

Keeping an Eye on Your Mental Health

I was sifting through my Twitter posts and saw a meme which reminded me of how I felt at the moment of seeing the meme, and I thought I’d post it here:


If ever there was a meme to sum up me during 2020 it was this. But I was thankful because as I approach the shortest day of the year, I am keeping an eye on how I am doing mentally. Last week I was caught short and by Friday I seriously wondered if I was going to be able to make it through to the end of next week. Work has suddenly become more hectic which coincided with my son’s year group being on a 14 day self isolation stint due to one child testing positive for Covid. I was back to home schooling while holding down a full time job with no family support as my siblings are either in high risk groups or live too far away.

This is my third job this year. When we entered into Lockdown in March I was on contract but this particular contract was about to end and so by lockdown I was working through my notice, still training users how to quickly use MS Teams which had been frantically brought in to cope with the organisation suddenly being forced to work remotely. All of us was home and I was home schooling in between.

After this contract ended, I was blessed to move into another job. Whilst still in lockdown, I had to map out how I was going to deliver training for a course, get to know new work colleagues, learn the basics of approximately 5 computer programming languages (one each week or so) with a 48 hour turnaround to then deliver them to a course group. I still – as a single mum – had to try to keep the family together who by now were beginning to exhibit the stress of missing school friends and the familiar routine of school. It was during this period that we lost Knuckles to boot and I crashed and burnt resulting to needing about 2 weeks (I had the most amazing boss back then). But the task of juggling all these things meant that I needed to return back to common ground which was where I resigned and went back to contracting.

It’s crunch time with this current role but compared to the last role where I was having to grasp and apply my understanding of programming languages I’d never used before (beyond Python), this wasn’t as stressful. My primary school aged son was back in school and up until a week ago things were manageable.

Now, I am sharing this with you because by the end of last week I had forgotten about a few things which in turn made my stress and mood plummet:

  1. I failed to force myself to attempt only those things I knew I could achieve and to say ‘no’ to anything else. My Project manager has no idea what I was juggling and I should have told him
  2. I rushed into the day and took late nights. My mind was swimming with my ‘to do’ list and as a result I was going to bed later, shooting awake at 4am. With this one I managed to catch it mid-week but made sure this weekend to just plain sleep!
  3. I had stopped taking little walks in my garden. Part of my screen break was to wander in my garden and take in the goldfish in the pond, do a bit of weeding – just little 10 minute activities which helped me maintain being on terra-firma. Bad weather and work had caused this to pretty much stop
  4. I failed to put my son before work, which upset him and which in turn upset me (never like seeing him disheartened)
  5. I was rushing into the day and skipping my quiet time with God. Yes, a face palm moment for those of you who are believers

Friday evening I was an emotional, weepy old dear who began to wonder whether I was going to be able to pull myself out of such depressive thoughts. And yet on reflection (and after two very good nights sleep) I had forgotten to consider just how seriously blessed I am.

Well the good news was that it is possible to turn things back!

It was while I was reading back on my earlier posts that I was reminded about my post called “Running from your Lynels“. The main thing that I had forgotten to do was to remind myself who was with me every single step of the way, good or bad, hard or easy times. You see, with God all things are possible.

No one ever said my life or my experiences were ever going to be a walk in the park, 100% of the time. But by noting when things are beginning to slip and then reminding myself of who I serve and therefore, immediately casting all my cares, worries, fears, weariness, anxiety, depressive thoughts, discouragement, apathy…. you get the idea…. onto Him, the burden gets easier to carry.

The main silver bullet on this occasion that significantly carries me through these episodes of SAD/depressive thoughts is singing. Today, with the weather looking dull and overcast, I put on some worship songs on You Tube which included lyrics as well and belted out some praise and worship to the One who sustains me.

So if you have been drawn to my post, it is by no mistake – if you are feeling low, leave a reply below my post and I will stand in agreement with you in prayer to reassure you that you are not alone and you will get through this.

Annual Leave WOO HOO!

Why is it that annual leave comes with so much promise of the kinds of things you’re going to achieve but reality then kicks in?

I am one day into my first real break from working in a year and already the first day off is over. As with all good intentions I was going to purchase school shoes and work clothes, pick up some paint so that for the rest of the week I could catch up with the very things I couldn’t do because of working. but interestingly I am just. plain. tired.

Lockdown and home learning meant that what I perceived as being a walk in the park in terms of working with no commute nor school commute turned out to be more intense than the old 5 day week routine and it turned out that I was not alone.

One of the culprits was the scale of meetings that we were taking now that most of the world had to do video conferencing. I thought it was me and in particular my age but in actual fact Microsoft found that Brainwaves reveal that remote meeting fatigue is real.

Woo hoo! I can put the zimmer frame away for now but ultimately I need to get the old bike out and counter balance the increased fatigue with activities that promote a release of stored stress which comes from not taking regular holiday breaks.

Has this put me off working from home or freelancing? In actual fact COVID-19 has shown me that I can adapt to different ways of working and if I can find a vocation which allows me to work when it suits, then I look forward to the prospect of working from home in the future (but not as a result of a darn pandemic).

Well It’s About Time

At long last I have grown up to WordPress and have created this blog along with bringing over the previous posts from my old blog

I haven’t yet launched my new blog and so when I am not so tired I will continue to update these posts.

Why do this?

I realised that much of my traffic to all of my social media accounts were not really intertwined into one little area where, for example I could more efficiently create a video on Youtube but professionally embed it into an area such as this. Now I feel that I can.

I wanted a more personalised presence online where my branding could be subtle but ascetically pleasing at the same time. I’m discovering with Word Press that I can get ‘under the bonnet’ and add my own graphics over time. I felt more limited with what I could do with my backgrounds on my other blog. Here I’m learning very quickly to feel free.

The One Thing Only Pet Owners Can Relate to….

The loss of a pet…

2020 is officially a rubbish year!!! We have lock-down due to a Pandemic, so much division and hate, we’re facing job insecurity as global economies fail. What could be worse? Yeah I know full well one of the things that could be worse (aside to losing a loved one to COVID). Losing your pet possibly due to the current circumstances.

When I first created the SLS brand the profile picture on most of my social media profile was of one of my cat family, Knuckles. On my You Tube channel, he was the face of when I was exploring facial animation software back in 2012.

He was instrumental when I had did a version of the Harlem Shake You Tube craze:

He was a silent gentleman in that he would try to protect me outside and then cave in through fear if something kicked off in the garden leaving his mum to do her ‘veloceraptor’ stuff. More than anything he was a big part of our little family.

When lockdown started we were of course spending more time at home and initially all of our feline family were over the moon that we were actually home 24/7. For Knuckles it was as though it was Christmas every day because the secret treats of tuna and prime quality turkey would be given to him by my two as well as myself without us all realising. But I also began to notice that he was beginning to lose weight. He was still his bubbly ‘bad-boy’ self, terrorising his little brother and pushing his mum out of her feeding bowl – but in spite of having food pretty much on demand the weight loss gradually continued. So we upped our game, changed his diet to less dry food and more meat wet food. He appeared to improve over the weeks and through all this time was so content, having play mates (my son) giving him long grass to play with, as well as receiving loving tummy rubs on demand (with the food and treats), but it seemed that by just over a week ago he went downhill to the degree that I needed to take him to the vets. The difficulty with this decision was that I also knew just how much he feared the vets – he didn’t just hate going but he would literally tremble with fear. But I also knew that to not take him would be wrong.

One of the biggest regrets I have ever made recently was to accept an appointment at the vets at 4.30 pm on one of the hottest days of the year so far. I could not get an appointment with my regular vets which was 5 mins down from where I lived – again due to the pandemic the vets were spreading out appointments throughout my city. Instead the only available appointment was a 20 minute ride away. My gut instinct was to not accept it and try for either an early morning or late evening, but I ignored

that feeling and rushed him to the vets further away. He had been playing in the garden before it had gotten too hot and when we coaxed him indoors he had just enjoyed 4 packets of top quality cat food and had guzzled loads of water. He was purring until he saw the pet carrier…… and was so upset (as I knew he would be) when he got inside it.

We can’t afford a car with air conditioning and so I had the car doors and windows open for half an hour prior to leaving and broke speed limits to turn a 20 minute journey to 15 mins.  But as a result of that journey, the trauma of hating where he was going had accelerated his deterioration. That particular vets stabilised him but did not have the facility to keep him overnight so I was forced to make the same journey back home. They managed to take his bloods and said it would be ready by the next morning – I was instructed to take him again to my nearer vets as soon as they opened in the morning.

That morning, I rang my local vets to find that the bloods had not come back but they still wanted him in. I got a second opinion from another emergency vet and our consensus was that it would be better to not have him endure another traumatic ride until the test results came back. It took this company until 6pm Friday to tell me that Knuckles had a hyper active thyroid but there was also readings linked to his liver.

To cut a long story short I was able to take him to an emergency over night veterinary clinic (so one last traumatic drive in a cooled car in the evening). They ran some ultrasound tests and told me that my kitty had a tumour the size of a golf ball on his liver as well as hyperthyroidism – it was time to let him go.

I told my kids and we all got in the car about 11 pm to take the ride to say our final goodbyes. I watched as my oldest daughter went in – we had to enter into the surgery one at a time with masks on. When it was time for my son to go in, I could see this 9 year old boy gird himself up to keep it together long enough to say bye and pet his buddy.

Eventually I returned my son back to the car and held my cat one last time as the vet administered the euphanasia injection, stroking his head as his life left him. I thank God it was quick and that he went to sleep for the final time.

I was present when Coco had given birth to Knuckles on my cream bedroom carpet and away from the birthing box that I had made for her. I am proud that the stain still couldn’t come out but we have the exact spot that Knuckles came into the world which about sums up what an impact he made on our lives. I was present when he took his first steps outside in the garden, guided by his mum but petrified none the less. I was there when he use to flash us such a face of betrayal when we’d pretend to throw some turkey for him to catch and eat and it would remain in our hand. From the 24th August 2007 to 26th June 2020 I was there.

But for the first time as a family we are experiencing 2020 with out him…

So yeah, 2020 proper sucks about now but I can thank God for the last 12 years of fun laughter, and love that this beautiful example of God’s creation had brought into all of our lives.

RIP old buddy I may not understand all of the biblical references relating to pets but I pray that in the new heaven and new earth you will be there..

Death of Windows 7 in the New Decade Wahhhhhhh!

I’m beginning to see a pattern in my not so frequent blog posts which relate to tech that I love using dying off but this had to be my first entry for the New Year and the New Decade.

I’m one of the generation who enjoyed Windows 95, loved its interface and the new frontier it offered – and then it died off.

I had to then adapt to Windows 98 with its ability to play videos…. I was in awe and fell in love with this OS. This too was killed off but I could understand this one. We’d all outgrown Windows 98 and craved for more as the internet grew. Although it was the operating system which saw me through my teaching degree and signified my future as a Tech Trainer/IT teacher, my mourning was for a little while.

I held out and so did not need to endure ME which I shall not talk about any further, but went straight to Windows XP. Whilst I didn’t like this operating system as much as 98 and 95 it did teach me how to use the back screens whenever some random hacker decided to play with my devices.

So with the nightmare that was Windows Vista I finally converted my 2009 laptop to Windows 7 and immediately took a shine to it. Windows 7 still allowed me to take a peek under the hood, so to speak but it was user friendly enough to allow me to do what I needed to do day to day.

So fast forward to 2016 when Microsoft announced that the operating system that we all loved had reached its end of life for security support updates. I was open minded enough to try Windows 10 for free but found with my laptop that 10 clashed with the old laptop’s graphics card which could not be updated further. I was stuck with Windows 7 which I didn’t mind too much.

But it was when we were given a date when Windows 7 security updates would finally cease that my ‘tech grieving’ began. I just couldn’t end my relationship with Windows 7 – we’d been through so much together and letting go was hard to do.

But reluctantly I upgraded to a desktop with Windows 10, where I could still plod on with those tasks from this blog that seems to be on the continual backburner and so far things seemed ok.

Except for the Windows 7 laptop that I just could not let go.

I realised that this laptop still had software that was incompatible with Win 10 but that I still needed to use. I also had the dilemma of requiring a laptop to use online for tasks such as homework for other members of our household. I wasn’t in a position to buy a brand new laptop which was completely out of my budget, so I pondered what could be done.

Then like a knight in shining armour came the light-bulb moment for me which was the Chromium Operating system that I had used during my last but one contract. The school had used Google Classroom extensively and each child was in possession of a Chromebook which ran Chromium. What was great was that a company called Neverware was offering the OS for home use completely free. Niiiccce! (exaggerated to mimick my ds when he is impressed with something).

So whilst I didn’t want to overhaul my old laptop I instead went on a mission to purchase an old laptop, wipe it clean and install Cloud Ready Chromium so that it becomes a Chromebook for my son’s school work.

Yesterday I went to an old pawn shop and located a relatively old computer ( 2011 Dell Latitude E6220 4GB RAM 250GB HDD notebook) second hand for £79.99. The previous owners had upgraded to Win 10 but the machine was running real slow and must have been riddled with malware. So with a strong cup of tea and moral support from my cheerleading son, I set to work to wipe clean its drive.

While I was waiting for this to be done (took a number of hours) I created a bootable usb with Chromium on. I used a Usb with 32GB data on but smaller ones would have been suffice to be fair.

I had to boot to the BIOS (F12 on this machine) and deselected everything else so that the machine could only boot from the usb. I then booted up the machine and installed Chromium.

By last evening I now have a cleaned up Chromebook (the old machine was minging with dried food etc caked in the keyboard and mouse pad) and it is from this machine that I am updating this blog.

I am so chuffed that instead of spending a few months trying to save up for a Chromebook at £150 minimum I now have quite a powerful little notebook for homework use on a machine which only set me back at just over half the price.

So mums and dads if you’ve grieved over your deceased Windows 7 machine which is more than 8 years old, incompatible with Windows 10, and have nothing to lose on the machine itself, definitely  upgrade to using something like Neverware’s Cloud Ready Chromium Chromebook. Home work can still be done using Google Drive and Docs/Sheets/Slides but you will save significant amount of dosh instead of investing in either a brand new laptop or new chrome book.

As my son would say, “Niiiiicce”

Death of Google+ Death of my Profile…. WAHHHHH!

If you are anything like me then you will only now have noticed that your Google+ profile description has disappeared from the Blogger user profile.

Just had to quickly put something together while I was doing a little housekeeping on my Blog.

When you are in the bubble which is work-life-unbalance of a full time teacher, you note, through the haze of sleep, the numerous email warnings that Google provided regarding the death of Google+. I had loads but did not think it would have affected me so much because of the fact that I hardly used the platform.

It was only after I boosted my presence on Twitter that I remembered, “Oh gee! I haven’t posted to my blog for AGES!” and promptly took a look at my blog.

That’s when the shock hit me, my profile had disappeared! The offline job meant that it has taken me until 4 days into the Easter break, before I could update my blog…. to my shame!

So, this very short blog is to warn other bloggers that are on to check your profile out especially if you were previously linked to Google+.

Crochet for beginners – Create a Slip Loop My First Video for 2019

Guess what one of my New Year’s Resolutions is for this year?

It’s now beginning to take shape in terms of producing tutorials relating to both tech/ software how to’s and also my love of crocheting.

The below video was edited using Camtasia 2018 but I was a little surprised at how long it took to complete a 3 to 4 minute video. With tweaking audio recordings to cutting out a LOT of unnecessary footage, to system crashes and losing the will to live, it took a couple of days.

And….. still with some hic-cups

But for a first video it is not too bad.

God willing this will be a sign of things to come!

Life As A Single Mum and Those Darn Kryptonite Days

It is not very often when I am floored health wise but regrettably this past week has been one of those occasions. I have just lost half a day recovering from a cold or perhaps flu which saw me bedridden along with doing the unthinkable today – dropping my son off to school in my pajamas.

I’m not sure which is worse, feeling as though my face (or every part of my nasal cavities) has been slammed with a cast iron saucepan or that I resorted to not getting changed and driving to my son’s school in jammies. All I know is that I can thank God it was winter and the weather was awful enough for people not to notice.

I had admittedly pondered over the fact that my church prayed over me this past Sunday when I began to show signs that I was not feeling myself at all. I felt guilty when I popped pain killers and struggled through work on Monday. I confess that I began to question my understanding of healing by yesterday when I had to leave work midday with a headache more painful beyond the pain killers I’d again popped in order to get through the day. So as I struggled to sleep beyond a son who woke me up at 2am in the morning letting me know he couldn’t sleep to a teen so engrossed in her revision for exams that she stayed up until 3(or 4 or 5) am, also waking me up, I felt a tad guilty that perhaps I lacked enough faith to bounce out of bed this morning breezy and full of life.

In actual fact the guilt caught up with me – I began to think that perhaps it was a lack of faith that I took a ‘time out’ by not going into work, that would be a loss of a day’s pay but before that thought could gain a foothold the following verse was quoted in my devotional this morning:

Isaiah 40: 11

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young

 Whatever thought that my self critical mind could conjure up fell flat on the floor when comparing scripture. I’ve underlined the section of the verse that enabled me to rest:

“He gently leads those that have young”

When a farmer or a shepherd is dealing with livestock with young, they would not unduly stress any ewes or cows who are tending to their young, but instead that shepherd takes extra special care to make sure that none of the livestock gets left behind or lost.

We are sometimes our own worst enemies when we try to push ourselves beyond what our bodies can cope with. On seeing that verse, I had an inner reassurance that financially I was going to be ok – it was just one days’ pay and I’ve got enough in reserve to cover for that. I seriously did not need to make myself even more ill by trying to soldier through today plus stay behind for a meeting and then deal with rush hour traffic to pick my son up from school, THEN come home to cook, check and see that the kids had a good day.

God’s expectation of me was that I rested in His Word and got ……well.

As a single parent one can sometimes feel as though we have to work double the effort to make ends meet and to see that our kids have as normal a life as society dictates.

But we forget that we cannot and should not do that on our own but instead rely on a Heavenly Father who gently leads those of us who have young.