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  1. Hello everyone, for those of you who don't me; I shall give a short intoduction: *daughter of the King *bibliophile *tea lover *creative Anything else you want to know? Just ask.
  2. Mrs Van

    Fix'er Up

    FIX'ER UP This is a follow on from last time where I went to the Moon through House Flipper the game. Well, I'm back on Earth, but instead of fixing houses in the game, I'll be starting to fix things around our own place. Seeing that it is now winter and all, the season for fixing. So I'll be fixin' myself up, as well as fixin' the house up. Same formula with a little tweak here and there: Bible study every day Weighing/Measurements (preferably on a Sunday/Monday morning) Cleaning (the house): floors, dusting, wiping, washing... Fixing: I actually have June-July-August for this Clean windows; Wash curtains (I did a lot of curtains about end of last year, only had front rooms left to do); Fix dining room table (Brandt) - I have to sand and re-varnish, etc. Varnish front door frame, and other wood surfaces as needed; Paint security gates properly (I painted the rusty spots a month or so back); Paint garage door; Replace window putty around glass, and repaint (two weeks later after putty dried); Sleep: In bed by 21h45. Exercise: At least twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday, or as possible) Jump Rope 30x Walking Lunges (10x15m) Pushups 10x Tire Rope Pull 10x15m~ Russian Twist w. tire 10x Sit-Twist Stretch Tire weight is 7.7kg
  3. Seriously, just realised now (4 May) is International Star Wars Day May the fourth be with you! (A trying to be funny tall tale, made up on the fly. Don't think too much if you read it, just go with the flow...) ... ... Moving to the Moon (This is the house I bought on the Moon in the House Flipper game) I have to work out a new routine for my responsibilities, old and new: My usual To Do's: Bible study/Pray/Quiet time; [every day] Weight (and measurements when I remember) (there is artificial gravity, I don't need extra weight ); [Monday weigh] Sleep (before 21h45, preferably 21h30); [every night] Cleaning (No vacuuming when Brandt has to talk online with colleagues - we have more of an idea of their schedule now) [vacuum Sunday - dust Monday]. New Moon Duties: Shooting (dry fire practice for security) [Monday] Chosen workout (modified from Darebee's Chosen One workout) [Tuesday] SpaceLann workout (modified from Darebee's Spaceman, and Lannister workouts) [Thursday] Gardening/DIY [Friday and Saturday] Chosen Workout (modified to suite me better): Jumping Jacks 10x High Knees Twist 10x Reverse Lunges 4x (each leg) Side-to-Side Lunges 2x (each leg) Side Leg Raises 5x (each leg) Reverse Lunges 4x (each leg) Calf Raises 4x Plank Rotations 4x (each side) Mountain Climbers 10x (each leg) (put foot down in front, no foot touch) Sit-Twist stretch Butterfly stretch Butterfly fold over stretch Rest 2min. after this set, before continuing on with the 2nd set. SpaceLann Workout (modified to suite me better): Jumping Jacks 10x High Knees Twist 10x Wide hands Push ups 5x Diamond hands Push ups 5x Shoulder taps (no push ups) 5x (each side) Jumping Jacks 10x Side-to-Side chops 10x (each arm) Straight Punches 10x Standing Band Row 10x Sit-Twist stretch On Knees in ball hold (5 count) Superman hold (5 count) Rest 2min. after this set, before continuing on with the 2nd set. Dry Fire Training (Shooting): Unholster/Holster firearm (f.a.) Practice Israeli grip and point Magazine load, unload from f.a. Garden/DIY: We are still not allowed to buy any DIY things if we are not a registered builder, plumber or electrician with a valid permit. We don't have a lot of things left to do DIY with (paint, varnish, seal...) but we'll go on with what we can. My main focus will be in the garden, pulling out weeds, cutting back, mowing (last month before winter). Things in that line. Welcome to my Moon Base!
  4. Spring has Sprung! Dis heerlike lente, die winter is verby weer vrolik die velde, vir jou en vir my. (It's wonderful spring time, winter has gone) (happy the fields, for you and for me) loosely translated Die Ystervark I realised that some of the funny in the name is lost because of translation, but hubby (Brandt) called this weight plate storage stand he built, "Die Ystervark". Direct translation is "Iron Pig", and we found it appropriate because it is not just made of iron, but holds our iron weight plates and training paraphernalia. There is also a saying in Afrikaans "gooi die ysters rond" (throw around the irons - directly translated) for someone training with weights. And of course the normal comparison with a porcupine - little squat body with all those quills sticking out. Just going on with the normal routine that I've been trying to establish since... for ever. This is the first year where I did manage to train relatively frequently throughout winter. Other years I stopped my morning training for two, three challenges at a time. Bible study: every weekday morning; Strength training: 2x a week (Monday and Thursday mornings); Joint circles (warm up) Jumping jacks 20x (warm up) Plank2Pullups 10x Abs roll out 10x Front lunges 10kg 10x Deadlifts 30kg 10x Flys: front, lateral, bent over lateral (back shoulders) 10x each Bridge & Pinch 20sec Sit-twist stretch 1x Shoulder and Chest stretches 1x each Walking: 2-3x a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons); Tue: with Brandt and the boys +-3-3.5km (up and downhill) Wed: alone +-5km (flat farm road) Fri: with boys +-3-5km (nat.reserve or neighbourhood) Dry fire: 1x a week (Wednesday morning), and 1x a month at club; Food: focusing on what I'm eating: loosing weight by cutting down on carbs/starches; drink 1x bottle water a day; BUT if I really crave something, then I allow myself to eat that as long as I don't overdo it. This goes hand in hand with a lot of brain things going on upstairs about WHY; measurements beginning and end of challenge. Sleep: be in bed by 21h30 every week night. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We had a hiking/rucking weekend planned for 22-24 Sept. which might not happen because all accommodation in the area are fully booked because of the long weekend, private school holidays, and some trail races planned for that long weekend. So we'll have to play that one by ear. In the meantime we are trying to spend more time together as a family.
  5. So, time to finish this challenge trilogy that started on Feb 5 - to go out of my comfort zone into the unknown and run the Wings for Life World Run as fast as I can. It wasn't easy for Luke to turn himself in to two most powerful Sith in the Death Star II in a desperate effort to restore freedom to the galaxy in that final battle. And it was quite a duel, both physically and even more psychologically, just like every good race. So, the main quest again stays the same (though I am rising the minimum to 12 km instead of 10 km) and it will hopefully and finally be fulfilled during this challenge. Subquests are also very similar, with upgrades/increases (marked purple). Why? I don't want to experiment too much before the race; I just want to hold myself accountable and improve on those things that work for me. Subquest 4 is entirely the same since I failed it last time. Decided to put to an end to those hurried devotions by designating at least 20 min of uninterrupted devotions, which means I'll have to be really disciplined in going to bed in time (Subquest 4) so that I can also get up in time to do the devotions before the day kicks in. Main quest: Run between 12 and 15 km in the Wings for Life World Run (Zadar location) on May 6 Subquest 1: do: (a) >6500 steps each day; (b) 1 weekly long run (>12 km, but shorter in the taper week); (c) 1 weekly speedwork with <5:30 min/km. -> 3 STA + 2 DEX Subquest 2: strength train 3 times a week with a weekly increase of the reps in a set on the pull-up bar (+1 rep each week - starting from 5 half pull-ups and 10 half chin-ups). -> 2 STR Subquest 3: have a: (a) vegan protein powder after each workout and (b) an IF three times a week. -> 1 CON: facilitates muscle gain & repair and fat loss + 1 CHA: increases attractiveness and confidence Subquest 4: go to bed between 10:45pm and 11:15pm, without internet; only devotions and time with wife permitted. -> 2 CON + 1 STA: boosts my immunity and energy levels Subquest 5: start the day with at least 20 min of uninterrupted devotions (incl. Scripture study, meditation and prayer), and end it with at least prayer. -> 2 WIS: helps me make wiser decisions + 1 CHA: makes me peaceful and better with people Let's bring freedom to the galaxy!
  6. Becoming a member of the League, The Justice League! The Age of Heroes Wonder Woman has made it through the first test (Muddy Princess OCR), and is now facing the next (Waterra - Heroes in Training). She has joined the Justice League to fight against an Earth destroying evil (Darkseid) that might just break her spirit and mind. His parademons are non too bright, but they are already here on Earth in their thousands, every single day, to attack. Mike seems nice and docile, but he has a nefarious plan - stop Wonder Woman from attaining spiritual and physical health. Stop her from doing bible study in the mornings (5am get up time), stop her from sleeping enough at night (21h30-21h45) and don't let her near water (1x bottle - 750ml/day)! Rag Doll wants W.W. to flounce around with no strength because ... it's Wonder Woman ... child of God ... strength to beat them all (when properly trained)! She will do everything in her power so Wonder Woman doesn't get to morning or afternoon training. If there is one thing Wonder Woman needs to do, it is keep up and improve on her current strength level after her rib muscle injury. Darkseid is not an easy opponent. She has to do morning exercises (strength) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with Self Defense lessons for the children of the Justice League, on a Tuesday afternoon, as well as walk on a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. Wonder Woman normally uses her Lasso of truth, indestructible bracelets, projectile tiara, sword, and shield in a fight, but Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman, would prefer her to become proficient with a fire arm as well. Therefore she is to wear her f.a. of choice (CZ75B) at least three times a week on her when going out (EDC / concealed carry), and do dry fire training. And all this while being her usual stylish self (makeup / style-ish dress - dress right and nicely for the situation - 3x per week). Lastly, but not the least, she has to sort out her finances, as the Paradise Islands are in ruins, and they can't spare a dime for Princess Diana to live on while saving the world. Themyscira has to be rebuilt from the ground up, ready to face Darkseid when he comes in 11 weeks. If anyone can do it, the Amazons can. Together with her team (NF friends) she will face the parademons who are already on Earth. To win the prize, Wonder Woman a.k.a. Diana of Themyscira, must reach at least 80% for each goal in 4 weeks. Pass for each goal is +-75% Spiritual and Physical Health: (80% of 28 days = 22 days) (Pass = 20 days) Bible study (First 15 and sermons/daily reading) - get up at 5am to do it. Sleep - go to bed before 21h30, latest 21h45. Water - drink at least 1x bottle (750ml) per day, and unofficially cut back on coffee again. PRIZE: A new Clive Cussler book. Exercise: (80% of 24 training sessions = 19 training sessions) (Pass = 16 training sessions) Morning exercises - after bible study on Mo. We. Fri. Afternoon exercises - Tu. We. Th. PRIZE: 2x new weight plates. Fire arms and Style: (Almost) Every day carry of f.a. - 3x/wk Dry fire training - 3x/wk Dress stylish for the situation - make up when appropriate, neat exercise clothes when outside in public view, neatly dressed when out in public in general, at least 3x/wk (i.o.w. don't dress frumpy!) PRIZE: For each 3x dressed and/or makeup put on, I can buy 1x accessory. (Pass = 9x) PRIZE: For 8x dry fire training and/or edc I can choose something at the gun shop. (Pass = 16x) Finances/Stats: Eish! The usual finances - January and February to be done. Keep my measurement stats up to date, but not for prize. Just because... PRIZE: An Easter Egg filled with either caramel or cremé! (Pass = Jan./Feb. done)
  7. This Padawan passed the first challenge in a Han Solo fashion (started good, went back to scoundrel habits, and only barely passed by showing up at the end). Now, as a Level 2 Padawan, I plan to do it more like Luke Skywalker (consistent throughout) - and learn how to do instead of try, especially getting more sleep. My main quest remains the same - only the race is now one month closer, so it requires greater discipline. At the same time, I tweaked goals to be more attainable (e.g. aiming for 10:45pm bedtime, but permitting 11:15pm as a pass). Subquests serve the main quest and my long-term fitness goals. I decided to make them more tangible and fun by adding stat points (full points can be gained only at 100% of completion and will be decimally reduced by lesser percentages). Main quest: Run between 10 and 15 km in the Wings for Life World Run (Zadar location) on May 6 Subquest 1: Follow the weekly running+walking program: (a) >6000 steps each day; (b) 1 weekly long run (>10 km) that includes hills; (c) 1 to 2 speedworks (tempo/HIIT/fartlek) per week. -> 3 STA + 2 DEX Subquest 2: Strength train 3 times a week (bodyweight + dumbbells; barbell is optional). -> 2 STR Subquest 3: Have a: (a) vegan protein meal after each run or strength training, and (b) an IF twice a week. -> 1 CON: facilitates muscle gain and fat loss + 1 CHA: increases attractiveness and confidence Subquest 4: Go to bed between 10:45pm and 11:15pm, without internet. Only devotions and time with wife permitted. -> 2 CON + 1 STA: boosts my immunity and energy levels Subquest 5: Start each day with Scripture study, meditation and prayer, and end it with at least prayer. -> 2 WIS: helps me make wiser decisions + 1 CHA: makes me peaceful and better with people So, let us DO!
  8. Everything that is worth it, is an uphill battle! (Landon Kyker) I'm standing on this plato. I've already climbed some steep hills the last couple of years, but there are more ahead of me. The last two months' battle was to get back to being strong and fit, as well as the emotional/personal battle which is ongoing. Now to continue on that trail yet improve in some other areas. Then it hit me, there is a huge area which I want to focus on: my personal image! I won a mother's day makeover prize last year and the change was shocking to say the least. I'm not a makeup, accessories, dress to impress kind of woman, but I can look better and not like a frumpy housewife who doesn't care about herself. Because I do care about myself and by caring about what I look like, I show respect not just to myself but also to God and the people closest to me. So I joined the "Frumpy Fighters". It was put together for moms of all ages, by a mom. I like that in her free 3-day course she places emphasis on spirituality, health and fitness, and then appearance. Your body is a resource - use it, embrace it, maintain it! I don't just want to build my body, I want to make it look good in clothes too, get some style going. What are the use of gainz if you can't show it off sometimes GOAL 1A: FIRST 15- I get up at 5am, put the coffee machine on, start exercising, and then later relax with a mug of coffee and bible study. Unfortunately I don't always get to finish my bible study, or sometimes just don't have time left to do it early morning, before I have to start with breakfast, packing hubby's lunch, clean the kitchen, make the beds, feed the pets, etc. etc. So after listening to pastor Landon Kyker's first sermon on Uphill battles, I decided that I will start my day with First 15: 5min. Bible reading -> 5min. Worship -> 5min. Prayer, and then I'll do my exercises. I'm aiming to start Monday to Friday this way. GOAL 1B: MORNING EXERCISES (Physical and Mental)- Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays will be BW exercises at 5am. I can't do it 4 or 5 mornings a week, that is just too much for me. I've tweaked the exercises a little bit from last challenge, and will list them in another post. Tuesdays and Thursdays are Bible study mornings after First 15, continuing with Joyce Meyer's Win the battle in your mind - 100 thoughts (loosely translated). GOAL 2: AFTERNOONS- Mondays: OFF (Rangers' mini exercises focus) Tuesdays: Self Defense with the boys - when possible Wednesdays: Walk long distance Thursdays: Walk with Adam Fridays: OFF (Rangers' mini exercises focus) or catch up on my exercises GOAL 3: FINANCES- Not just all play, some serious work too: January finances to update. GOAL 4: FRUMP TO STYLE- I have to "style it up" when I go out or stay in. I don't have to dress up, just look neat and hopefully a bit stylish, and NOT like a Frumpy Mama. Focus on the following: Basic makeup: mascara and lip gloss/lip stick (the rest will just melt off in this humidity and heat, I tried yesterday); No-frump clothes: neat top and pants/skirt/shorts, or dress. No track suite, oversize t-shirt, etc.; Aim for 3 days a week, so let's say 10-15 days this challenge. I'll also try to go through some of the style worksheets from Frumpy Fighters and Style for 40+ groups every week. PRIZE: Sunglasses... (my last pair just broke) GOAL 5: SLEEP- I have to go to bed earlier. 21h15 finish up whatever I'm doing and get everything ready for next morning (meat out to defrost, start dishwasher, shower, etc.) 21h45 in bed, lights out! PRIZE: IF I am in bed between 21h15-21h30, then I get a bonus point. For every 5 bonus points I can buy 1x accessory for style scarf bangles ballet flats uuhhhmmm help me think, please I'm not good with this or another scarf? GOAL 6: FUN, FUN, FUN The boys and I have this tradition when I buy them new sleeping t-shirts, I get plain ones and then draw a picture on the front of their choosing. Didn't do any last year, but this year there are some tall orders: Yoda with a seagull (because of this YouTube song), Halo's Masterchief, Intro scene from T.A.B.S. (Totally Acrobatic Battle Simulator), an anatomy drawing of the human body (for work we are doing this year). And I wanted a Wonder Woman t-shirt, but decided to make it look like her uniform, not have her face. Those dark lines, maybe some gold applique at the top and bottom... So this is for FUN! Try to finish one t-shirt a week. Serious fun! I have to practice E.D.C. and dry fire drills (drawing and holstering): 1x house drill with Brandt, clearing rooms, getting under cover, changing magazines; 3x morning draw and holster drills when I put my f.a. on And just to have it on, and not forget: Measurements, taken every Sunday morning. Will edit later with pics of stylish superheroes, have to start dinner and feed the pets...
  9. Calling all Guilds! Several of us in the Ranger corps are reading through Psalms this month, and we are going to talk together once a week about things that we learn and want to think about. Scholars and mystics from all guilds are welcome to join us! Current member list: @Starpuck @Elastigirl @JustCallMeAmber @IAmInfinite @MiaulinTheCat @Genevieve Fox
  10. A figure dressed in the simple brown cloak of the Jedi stepped forward, bowing down before the Jedi Council. Pushing the hood back, she reveals the light green skin of a Mirialan, with a few facial tattoos dotted mainly around her eyes. Her dark brown hair is pulled back into a simple bun, held together by a leather cord. "Kareesh, the Council has called you here today to present you to your Master," an elderly Human said, his arms motioning towards a male Nautolan. He stepped forward, bowing his head slightly. "This is Knight Yel Arru. He is now in charge of your training." The human turned his attention to Knight Arru. "Do you accept this Padawan under your charge?" The Nautolan looked at Kareesh for a moment, his black pupiless eyes examining her closely. Without turning to the Council, he said," Yes, I accept this charge." "Then, from this moment until you deem her worthy of the title of Jedi, Padawan Kareesh is under the charge of Knight Yel Arru. May the Force guide you and be with you." Later, Kareesh was kneeling before Knight Arru. He stood before her, silent for the moment as he reflected on the responsibility he had just taken. Kareesh was the first Padawan he had taken on, as he had only become a Jedi Knight a year before. "Padawan, there are many steps to becoming a Jedi. It is not an easy path, but those who are determined, and who believe in the Force can do it." He started to pace slightly as he spoke. "First, we must have the proper mindset. If we allow our thoughts to become clouded with emotions, especially fear and anger, then it creates small cracks in ourselves. Through these cracks, the Dark Side is allowed in. And if the Dark Side is allowed into you, then it will consume you slowly. Do not allow this to happen. Make sure to stop throughout the day and refocus your mind. Clearing it of all emotions. Allow yourself just to be. Focus on your breath. Focus on your body. Do you understand, Padawan?" Kareesh thought for a moment about what her Master had said. "Yes, I believe so." Knight Arru nodded. "Good. Secondly, you must learn about the Force. You have had many teachings about it when you were a Youngling, but now you must take those studies and make them your own. I want you to go into the archives and study upon the writings you find there. Find how the Force applies to your life." He paused for a moment, as if to let Kareesh have a say. She couldn't think of anything to say, so she just nodded to show her understanding. "Lastly, but no less important than the other two, is you must train your body. The Jedi have always been called upon to help those weaker than ourselves. We have fought against the Dark Side time and time again. Therefore, we must train our bodies in order to be able to fight and defend when we must." "I understand, Master," Kareesh said, nodding slightly. "Good, Padawan. Let your training now begin…" And so it begins indeed. I'm excited for this challenge, and excited to get back on track to becoming the best I can be. I've made you read enough so far, so I'll try and keep the details nice and short-ish. Jedi Mindset (Mental) Meditate for at least 2 times a week Learn About the Force (Spiritual) Bible study at least 2 times a week Jedi Training (Physical) Do yoga at least 2 times a week Count calories at least 5 times a week Stick to diet at least 5 days a week Workout at least 3 times a week To allow myself to become a Jedi, I must consistently do these things for 30 days straight. I will allow myself certain cheat days, but if I have 2 cheat days in a row without a good excuse (like traveling or being sick), then I have to start counting the days over. I'll explain a bit more about the goals here. First, spiritual. I've allowed that to take a backseat to everything else, and I really need to get back to a better place with that. Unless I feel super inclined to share, I probably won't share much with what I'm studying (unless ya'll are super interested or something). Secondly, mental. I have not had a good mental state for awhile. I use to do some meditation,and that helped a bit, so I need to get back to it. As of late, depressive thoughts have been overtaking my life. I've been unable to do things that I want/need to do. I've also been a lot more angry, and that's not good when I'm a wife and parent to a 5-year old. Last, but not least is physical. I'm clinically obese, and I need to change that. Sure, I could probably put part of the blame on my PCOS, but I'm not about to let that control my life more than it has to. My husband and I have been trying for Kid #2 for over 3 years, finally being diagnosed with infertility due to PCOS. Losing weight will help with some of that, so that's going to be my first step to help my health. So, that's my challenge in a not-so-little nutshell. I'm sure I'll share more about me in a later post. Hope to see you tag along!
  11. KEEPER OF THE SILVER BOW Chapter 7: An Aim Strong and True mission: growth The screaming shout of the man could be heard long before his crashing footsteps approached our camp. Our corps leader, Ayre Kallana, met my eyes and signaled me to move into the brush, while the older members melted silently into the shadows with practiced speed. Only minutes passed before we could hear him come thrashing and tumbling down the hill and landing hard in a gasping, sobbing heap at the bottom. "Oh please help," he wailed, his voice a parched scream, his breathing coming in huge choking draws. "Please, someone please! I need help! Help me! Help me!" I could see him from my hiding place; he did not seem injured, but his limbs were shaking and he kept his face pressed into the dirt, weeping as if all hope had left him. I glanced over at Ayre, who was pressed closely against a tree, his eyes flickering quickly over the man, into the woods beyond and back the way we had come. When he felt me look over, he looked out of one eye and shook his head. He would handle this one. Still, I lifted my magic Silver Bow off my shoulder and fit an arrow into the string. The civil war was growing more violent every day, and traps and deception were rampant in the woods and villages beyond. Ayre made no sound as he stepped out from behind the tree and kneeled beside the man, gently touching his shoulder and rolling him over. The man was likely no older than me; but I barely stifled a gasp when the light fell across his face. His cheeks were sunken deeply into his skull and his eyes bulged in his yellow-gray face, barely visible under the greasy hair that fell across them. His toothless mouth was open in another moan when he became aware of Ayre's presence, and he cried out and scrabbled backward in the dirt, flinging up one skeletal arm to protect himself. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't do anything," he shrieked, huddling away and cowering as Ayre tried again to reach out to him. "Please don't hurt me!" "I'm not going to hurt you," Ayre reassured him, holding out his open hands. "I heard you yelling for help, and I'm here to help you. What's wrong?" The man stared for nearly half a minute with his mouth open vacantly before he realized that Ayre was telling the truth, and he crumpled in defeat, lowering his head to his knees and beginning to sob. "My whole village," he whispered. "The dark elves - they came into our village over a year ago and started giving people 'medicine' that was supposed to help us get stronger. But it didn't, mister. It was poison. All of us - we can't live without it, but we're dying, all of us are dying. I escaped to get help, but they got hold of me before I left. I'm a dead man, mister. But I've got to find someone who can help my village before I die." Ayre's wrinkled brow closed over his cloud-gray eyes as he listened, and I saw his jaw flexing. He reached out and put his thin hand on the man's much thinner shoulder. "What can I do for you?" The man snapped his head up and grabbed the front of Ayre's shirt, his eyes frantic. "Tell them," he cried. "Tell them it's poison. Tell them they need to fight and get free of it. Get a doctor who can heal them. But please, mister - you're a solder, aren't you? Help them fight - you've got to help them fight!" His impassioned plea was too much for his weakened body to handle. With a brittle moan, he sagged forward and fell to the ground at Ayre's feet. "Sky!" Ayre lifted the man off the ground and looked over his shoulder. "Sky, I need you!" I slung my bow over my shoulder as I leaped out of the bushes and ran down the hill, skidding to my knees next to him and quickly putting my hand on the man's thin shoulder. A wretched, poisonous smell reeked from his body - I gagged and coughed as I reached up with my other hand and cradled his greasy, dirt-caked face. But when I closed my eyes and prayed for strength, the healing warmth of the Silver Bow's power began to build deep in my chest, rising and spilling down through my arms and fingertips, flowing into his diseased body. "May the King have mercy on this poor man," I whispered. Ayre bowed his head and joined me as the healing powers intensified: "May the King in His mercy heal this man and save his spirit." After a few minutes, the yellow-gray color began to fade from the man's skin, and he stirred. His breathing no longer rattled in his chest. When he opened his eyes, they were clear, no longer jaundiced and unfocused. He tried to gather strength to speak, but I shook my head. "No, just rest. Everything will be all right. My name is Sky Elvenword, and I'm a healer. This is my mentor, Ayre Kallana. He's a teacher. I think our friends can help you and your village." The man closed his eyes, and his chest trembled as tears began to run down his face. "My name is Yazl Henry, miss. I wasn't sure I could find any more of the King's servants in these dark woods. You are the ones I've been praying for all these years."
  12. I had everything worked out on another theme when Oldest made a comment to his riding teacher: What I'm aiming for... but maybe without the lasso This cowgirl-to-be needs to be STRONG, and obviously has to be able to RIDE (again). She needs to be FIT and for various reasons must be able to defend herself and her loved ones. Most importantly, she needs to take CARE of herself. STRONG: Self Defence (1x/wk), Strength training (1x/wk), Flexibility (2x/wk) [16x for the challenge] RIDING: Get back in the saddle, literally (1x/wk) [4x for the challenge - except if lesson was cancelled for some or other reason] FIT: Walking, day hikes, outings with the boys (to museums and nature reserves, etc. count as well), or mowing (2x/wk) [8x for the challenge - weather permitting, and no unforeseen circumstances, because life happens here] SELF CARE: Bible study (just tick off - not keeping track), Water (bottle/day - at least 25 days), Sleep (at least 7hrs/night - 25 nights) MEASURES: Slowly but surely come down in measurements (cm and kg) (did something come down that week) [overall did cm or kg come down?] Now what about the cat and dogs part, you ask? Well, we got a cat. A young thing pitched at our door two nights ago. Hubby was sure he would return to his home, so I gave him a blanket and left him on our (relatively wind protected) stoep (verandah/porch). The dogs were very upset. Next morning (this morning) the kitty was still there, so we brought him into the house, fed him, warmed him up, and kept him in the bathroom with a blanket, window open. He promptly jumped out the window and went on a merry inspection of the property. Dogs shortly on his tail. Long story short, he came back to the house later the morning. I moved stuff around in our back room to accommodate him, and be able to close the door properly against investigating dogs. Opened a window, and he stayed. We checked in on him quite often. And he stayed, and purred, and meowed, and rubbed his small little head against our shoulders, and hands and anywhere he could touch. So the boys named him Stampy, and they hope that the messages we have sent out about a lost kitty will not be answered. (Me too on the hoping). A blanket and sheep's wool "nest". If he stays, I'll buy him one or two proper sleeping "nests" (basket with a roof/dome), one for the room and one for in front with us. In the meantime it is my job to get him and the dogs acquainted to such a level that they can at least tolerate one another. Our Jack Russell will be the biggest problem. She is very upset just smelling him on me, so I/we will have to give lots of love to all the parties in the coming weeks. And after all this, I hope to be on my way to ride like this:
  13. Fanmade video (not actual trailer - is a bit gory!): From the books - Halt's Cabin PS: Taking reader-liberty to adapt the story. This gives the background of how Elize ended up as... The Ranger's Apprentice Choosing Day was the pivotal point in the life of the castle wards. They were orphan children raised by the generosity of Baron Arald, the Lord of Redmont Fief. For the most part, their parents had died in the service of the fief, and the Baron saw it as his responsibility to care for and raise the children of his former subjects-and to give them an opportunity to improve their station in life wherever possible. Choosing Day provided that opportunity. In less than nine hours, Elize realized, she would face the Choosing. Elize's father was a cavalry lieutenant who had died in the battle at Hackham Heath, when Morgarath's Wargal army had been defeated and driven back to the mountains. Elize's mother, devastated by her loss, succumbed to a fever some weeks after giving birth. So there was plenty of room in the Ward for the girl child, and Baron Arald was, at heart, a kindly man. The huge fig tree growing close by the castle's central tower had often afforded the girl a haven. Heights held no fear for Will, her friend and he climbed smoothly into the tree, continuing long after Elize stopped - she was not as comfortable with heights. There was a rustle of soft feathers and a barn owl landed on the next branch, its head swiveling, its huge eyes catching every last ray of the faint light. It studied Elize without concern, seeming to know it had nothing to fear from her. It was a hunter. A silent flyer. A ruler of the night. In less than nine hours, she realized, they would face the Choosing. A long time later, as if in answer upon a silent question, they simultaneously caught the other's gaze. Silently, apprehension almost palpable, they climbed down from the tree and made their way to their respective dormitories. On the morrow they have to face Baron Arald and the Craftmasters, hoping to be each chosen as Apprentice, preferably together. oOo The Craftschool heads entered Baron Arald's room in no particular order of precedence. As a group, they admired and respected one another and so rarely stood on strict ceremonial procedure. Sir Rodney, head of the Battleschool, came first. Next came the Horsemaster, responsible for the care and training of the castle's mighty battlehorses. Lady Pauline followed. Lady Pauline, who had been awarded the title in her own right for her work in foreign policy for the kingdom, was head of the Diplomatic Service in Redmont. It was perhaps only natural that Nigel, the Scribemaster, followed close behind Lady Pauline. They had been discussing matters of mutual interest while they waited for Martin to summon them. Nigel and Lady Pauline were close friends as well as professional colleagues. It was Nigel's trained scribes who prepared the official documents and communiques that were so often delivered by Lady Pauline's diplomats. Master Chubb, the castle cook, came in last of all. Inevitably, he was a fat, round-bellied man, wearing a cook's white jacket and tall hat. He was known to have a terrible temper that could flare as quickly as oil spilled on a fire, and most of the wards treated him with considerable caution. Elize, eyes down, shifting nervously from one foot to the other, suddenly had the strange sensation that someone was watching her. She looked up and actually started with surprise as she met the dark, unfathomable gaze of Halt, the Ranger. She realized that the mysterious figure must have slipped in through a side door while everyone's attention was on the Craftmasters as they made their entrance. Halt stood behind the Baron's chair and slightly to one side, dressed in his usual brown and gray clothes and wrapped in his long, mottled gray and green Ranger's cloak. Halt was an unnerving person. He had a habit of coming up on you when you least expected it-and you never heard his approach. One by one each ward was chosen by a Craftmaster, until only Elize was left. The two (Will and Elize) have garnered quite a reputation for themselves, one scaling the tower to the kitchen's windows, relieving the Master Cook of his pies, still steaming, cooling off on the window sill, while the other kept an eye on the guards. On another occasion Elize wrote quite the missive which saw them getting two whole days off tutoring! Luckily her skills with animals of all kinds had saved them on yet another occasion when they were supposed to be planting fields. The Horsemaster's favourite plough horse had been attacked by a swarm of bees, and Elize and Will had managed to pull him to safety in the small lake, until only his head was sticking out of the water. Elize's continued whispers had calmed him enough that he didn't panic, but ducked his head under with her, and the bees had to fly off. "Is there any one of you who could use this girl?" Baron Arald said. One by one, silently, the Craftmasters shook their heads. "There is something you should know about her, my lord," Halt said. Halt's voice was deep and soft-spoken, with the slightest burr of a Hibernian accent still noticeable. He stepped forward now and handed the Baron a sheet of paper, folded double. Arald unfolded it, studied the words written there and frowned. "You're sure of this, Halt?" he said. "Indeed, my lord." oOo Halt's cottage lay some distance away from both castle and village, nestling under the shelter of the trees at the edge of the forest. The sun was just rising over the trees as Elize made her way to the log cabin. A thin spiral of smoke was rising from the chimney, so she reasoned that Halt was already up and about. Elize stepped up onto the verandah that ran the length of one side of the house, hesitated for a moment, then, taking a deep breath, she knocked firmly on the door. "Come in," said a voice from inside. Elize opened the door and went into the cottage. It was small but surprisingly neat and comfortable-looking inside. She found herself in the main room, a combined living and dining area, with a small kitchen at one end, separated from the main area by a pine bench. There were comfortable chairs ranged around a fire, a well-scrubbed wooden table and pots and pans that gleamed from much polishing. There was even a vase of brightly colored wildflowers on the mantel shelf, and the early morning sun streamed cheerfully through a large window. Two other rooms led off the main room. Halt sat in one of the chairs, his booted feet resting on the table. "At least you're on time," he said gruffly. "Have you had your breakfast yet?" "Yes, sir," said Elize, staring in fascination at the Ranger. This was the first time she had ever seen Halt without his gray-green cloak and hood. The Ranger was wearing simple brown and gray woolen clothes and soft-looking leather boots. He was older than Elize had realized. His hair and beard were short and dark, but peppered with steel gray flecks. They were both roughly trimmed and Elize thought they looked as if Halt had cut them himself with his hunting knife. The Ranger stood up. He was surprisingly small in build. That was something else that Elize had never realized. The gray cloak had concealed a lot about Halt. He was slim and not at all tall. But there was a sense of power and whipcord strength about him so that his lack of height and bulk didn't make him any less daunting a figure. "That'll be your room. You can put your things in there." He moved away to the woodstove in the kitchen area and Elize hesitantly entered the room he had indicated. It was small but, like the rest of the cottage, it was also clean and comfortable-looking. A small bed lay alongside one wall. There was a wardrobe for clothes and a rough table with a washing basin and jug on it. There was also, Elize noticed, another vase of freshly picked wildflowers adding a bright spot of color to the room. She put her small bundle of clothes and belongings on the bed and went back into the main room. "What Rangers do, or more correctly, what Rangers' apprentices do, is the housework." Elize had a sinking feeling as the suspicion struck her that she'd made a tactical error. "The… housework?" she repeated. Halt nodded, looking distinctly pleased with himself. "That's right. Take a look around." He paused, gesturing around the interior of the cabin for Elize to do as he suggested, then continued, "See any servants?" "No, sir," Elize said slowly. "No sir indeed!" Halt said. "Because this isn't a mighty castle with a staff of servants. This is a lowly cabin. And it has water to be fetched and firewood to be chopped and floors to be swept and rugs to be beaten. And who do you suppose might do all those things, girl?" Elize tried to think of some answer other than the one which now seemed inevitable. Nothing came to mind, so she finally said, in a defeated tone, "Would that be me, sir?" "I believe it would be," the Ranger told her, then rattled off a list of instructions crisply. "Bucket there. Barrel outside the door. Water in the river. Ax in the lean-to, firewood behind the cabin. Broom by the door and I believe you can probably see where the floor might be?" "Yes, sir," said Elize, beginning to roll up her sleeves. She'd noticed the water barrel as she approached, obviously holding the day's water supply for the cabin. She estimated that it would hold twenty or thirty buckets full. With a sigh, she realized she was going to have a busy morning. As she walked outside, the empty bucket in one hand, she heard the Ranger say contentedly as he poured himself a mug of coffee and sat down again: "I'd forgotten how much fun having an apprentice can be." oOo
  14. Since I didn't do as well as I would have liked during the last challenge, I decided that I needed more balance in my life; especially in the area of sleep/general health. I'm hoping that since my stress level has been reduced; I'll better equipped for this challenge.
  15. Main Quest: a balanced life A. Warrior's Barracks 1. Work out 5 times a week 2. Track food and sleep 3. Mordor 4. Splits Challenge 2 B. Athenaeum 1. Continue learning Spanish (3 times a week) 2. Finish reading The Mayflower 3. Journal before bed C. Monk's Temple 1. Start Growing Through Prayer Bible study (8 week Bible study) 2. Lectio Divina (sacred reading) 3. Memory verses (study/review every day
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