Saturday, December 31, 2005

Um, Okaaayyy - Figures

The Death Card
You are the Death card. Death is a stage in the
cycle of life. Without death, there would be no
room for new things to grow. When you receive
the Death card in a tarot reading, fear not;
Death is only an indication that transformation
is about to occur. Death allows us all to
evolve by removing that which is no longer
needed. The end of one cycle makes way for a
new one. Old behaviours and patterns which have
tied us down are released. Death cleans house
so that we don't have needless drains on our
energy. In Death's ruthless destruction there
lies compassion. Image from: Danielle Sylvie

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

5 Goals for 2006

Nothing like copying the idea from other blogs :-)

5 Personal Goals for 2006 (for me, Jon's are different)

Lose at least a stone every two months and use exercise bike regularly.

Redecorate our bedroom and clear it out, turn it into somewhere nice to be instead of the hell hole it currently is.

Clear clutter through a combination of ebay, charity shops and bin.

Say "yes" more often to Emily and Jon.

Say "no" more often to everyone else.

5 Work Goals for 2006 (again, for me, Jon's are focused differently)

Actively seek more writing contracts instead of waiting for them to fall into our laps.

Change online shop software, get a fresh stand-alone domain and revamp the shop category by category, line by line.

Switch the answerphone off and make more effort to deal with those endless phone calls, at least a few of which might actually be orders or people we want to talk to, as opposed salesmen and people expecting the impossible.

Investigate new ideas such as fairy letters and the zodiac fairy.

Consider going back to doing personal, face to face astrology consultations.

5 Home Ed Goals for 2006

Be more structured (albeit in a loose, unstructured kinda way....) so we cover some history, geography, science, music and art every week as well as the standard English and maths. Give the topic based approach a miss for a while unless a new burning passion emerges which has to have our full attention.

More physical activity of one kind or another. Yoga classes. Gymnastics in the garden.

Get up earlier :-)) having thought through the day before what we're actually getting up earlier for. Better planning and time management, in other words.

Make better use of the library and less use of our wholesale book accounts....

Encourage fiction reading without discouraging the avid non-fiction reader we have.

Kitty Igloo

Romeo and Juliet in an igloo Emily made for them on top of her bed.
Ordered new collars for them today from Kitty Collars - very cute! The ones we originally bought from ebay when they were tiny don't have any elastic in, so aren't safe. Grrrr. Then we bought a second lot from various petshops, but they're not soft enough to sit right. Sigh. Finally settled on two today that have quick release fittings, ID tags and are lovely and soft. Hopefully should finally do the job then! As soon as the collars arrive they're having one day wearing them indoors to get used to them....and then kitty freedom beckons. Still quite scared of letting them go, but they're nearly seven months old now, and desperate to go out. Can't keep them indoors forever, and wouldn't want to in any case.....I feel that cats need more freedom than, wish us luck for those first few nail-biting days!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Enchanted Narnia

At last - proper snow!

Today was set to be a busy day with a doctor's visit, hectic orders, writing deadlines and umpteen trips to the post office for Jon laden down with packages. But overnight the snow fairy finally did her magic. There's something utterly enchanting about waking up to a winter wonderland - never fails.

So despite our busy schedule, Emily and I were out in the swow before breakfast:

She's spent most of the day outdoors with one or other of us. We took the kittens out for their first taste of snow, which Romeo enjoyed rather more than Juliet did, and we had fun identifying the various animal tracks we found in the garden.
Later on while I got on with work, Jon and Emily went off for a wintery walk to Scotter Church and its surrounding beautiful, pristine woodland which of course was instantly christened Narnia. Here, because after all snow doesn't happen very often "round these parts" is a large selection of pics:
Climbing over the stile into Narnia

This is soooo much fun!

Tree Climbing

In the magical climbing tree

A well earned rest in Narnia

Throwing snowballs at Dadddy from the tree

A sleeping snow queen

and two views of Scotter Church looking rather pretty in its seasonal coat:

Made a snow cat in the garden too, and finally made it inside just before dusk!

We've just finished setting up this National Geographic Rock Tumbler which was another of Emily's presents from Nana and Gramps. Think she surprised Gramps because she could already identify the rough stones which came with it without needing to use the reference chart, lol. She's really looking forward to making Daddy a Tigers Eye pendant and me a Carnelian ring in a couple of weeks when the whole tumbling process is finished. We've got an easy source of rough gemstones via one of our wholesalers (plus the beach near the caravan which is famous for its agate) so this could hopefully turn into a hobby which runs and runs.

Had a phone call from the Mum of one of Emily's old school friends today, confirming that her daughter can come to Emily's party. We had a lovely long chat and a catch up, so that was a nice way to round off what's turned out to be a much, much nicer day than the one we were anticipating!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

And A Lovely Time Was Had By All

Had a magical Christmas :-)) Hope everyone else did too.

Christmas Eve night was wonderful. Nana came with us to the carol service, which was standing room only - good job we got there early! Emily sang her heart out and we walked home through the churchyard and the long way round by candelight from her Christingle candle. After a takeaway pizza supper it was bed time. Emily and I heard sleigh bells from outside in the garden as she tried to go to sleep. She was so excited I thought she was going to burst! Oddly, Daddy didn't hear them - I think he was busy at the time ;-) - but there were definitely reindeer flying overhead!

Jon and I got sidetracked watching a film and didn't get to bed until around 2 a.m. - and were interrupted at half past three by a thrilled to bits child landing on the bed yelling "Santa's been!!!". Hmmmm. Next year, Santa is under strict instructions not to visit this house until nearly dawn, lol. Told Emily it was too early to open her stocking and she'd better come in and cuddle down with us until a more reasonable hour. Well of course, that worked. Not. One and three quarter hours and not one wink of sleep later, we gave in, and the stocking was officially opened at 5.15 in the morning. Although even Emily couldn't stop yawning, never mind us two!

We went downstairs afterwards for a lovely candlelit breakfast (yes, it was still dark) before getting back to the Christmas tree for the proper pressies. Emily was delighted with everything.
Last present from us to be opened was a gorgeous, authentic Tudor/Elizabethan dress with a detachable ruff and a hooped, split gown. Fits perfectly and has been very much a favourite over the last couple of days!

My pics of Emily wearing the dress have all come out blurry; did take a photo of someone else's photo (since our scanner gave up the ghost a long time ago) but that didn't come out well either. Will post one when I get one. Her other pressies from us included lots of Barbie bits, new dolls house furniture/accessories, keyboard, crystal lab, audio books, greek goddess outfit, PC games, jigsaws, board games and the usual girlie type bits and bobs.

After watching Snow Queen (during which I fell asleep) and a good old play, we went down to spend the rest of the day with Nana, Gramps and Grandad. Emily was thrilled with her presents from David and Barbara in Canada, as were we - the funny hats went down a treat and were worn for most of the day! Christmas Dinner was cooked by a valiant Jon (still suffering quite a lot) and was absolutely scrumptious and good fun with fresh mistletoe all over the table for plenty of kisses :-)) and musical crackers with whistles in for us all to play tunes while Emily conducted. Emily's yule log was deeeeelicious! After dinner while we grown ups were still eating, a certain someone was delighted to discover an extra delivery from Santa - lots and lots of books which we'd kept back from the main presents. Told her they were too heavy for the reinderr to carry overnight ;-))

More playing, then time for the grown ups to open their pressies and for Nana and Gramps to give Emily hers. She was over the moon with lots of real "grown up" artist stuff - an easel, proper canvas, oil paints, palette knives, watercolours and so on. I feel some proper art lessons coming on in the new year! We grown ups all loved all of our bits, and Nana and Gramps were especially pleased with various St Bees bits we'd found for them - old prints and history pamphlets and the like. I'll have to wait for my main present from Jon though. He's bought me a beautiful heart shaped glass pendant which is to be filled with his blood (always wanted one of's my goth instincts, lol) but we managed to lose the sterilisation instructions so the deed hasn't yet been done!

It was a lovely day. Think Emily was a little sad when it came to and end, as were we. We don't get a proper break for full-on family time anywhere near often enough :-( Will have to change that in 2006.

Boxing Day and today have been very relaxed. We must have played a thousand games of Cluedo, Emily's listened to her Narnia tapes at least 57 times and we've all enjoyed Treason in the Tower a lot too. Dolls house stuff and new Barbies have been well and truly played with to bits, the Barbie/Pegasus PC game has also been played to death and Horse Adventures has been enjoyed too. They're quite well done, those two games. And not as annoying to listen to in the background as some, lol!

Having been promised "heavy snow throughout Lincs" on the weather yesterday, we were rather disappointed to find today snow-less, unless you count the odd flurry that didn't have a chance to settle. Still, it is finally snowing properly as I type, although how long for is anyone's guess. Back to work with a vengeance tomorrow. Orders have piled up like mad, we've got doctors to get to and deadlines to meet. Oh yes, and the small matter of a 7th birthday party to plan that I STILL haven't sorted out!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Darkness is Falling... I write, and we're heading into a peaceful Christmas Eve night. Well, I say peaceful - I know a certain someone who's rather excited about tomorrow.

I don't know how old I was when that magical feeling about Christmas vanished, but I do remember waking up one Christmas morning wondering what all the fuss was about. Quite a sad moment, that was. Thankfully, Emily's still young enough - just? - to listen out for sleigh bells tonight and be absolutely awe inspired by the candelit carols and the thrill of the run up to the big day. Long may it continue!

It's been a busy Christmas Eve, but we've got there in the end. Emily and I baked the yule log - I hadn't realised how tricky swiss roll recipes are for those of us who are somewhat culinarily challenged, lol. Still, the end result looks scrummy:

Emily has also made brandy snap fruit baskets, wrapped up presents for the assorted cats and kittens and put the finishing touches to the Christmas cards she was making. We'll be off to the carol service shortly, and then back to snuggle down for a cosy evening before Emily eventually goes to bed, and the reindeer arrive with their special delivery :-)))

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Absolutely Livid: Business Related Rant

Well, we were, although we've calmed down a little now. Had a threatening letter from a certain "world's most famous hypnotist" (according to him) and his solicitors, demanding that we remove five of his products from sale and undertake to never sell them again, and threatening to sue us for profits made thereon. Now, any regular readers may recall the considerable time, effort and expense Jon went to in preparing to attend a court case ***in support*** of this same hypnotist's legal action against his record label. At the end of which, we were told that the titles in question were being withdrawn, but that all existing retailers were to be permitted to sell off existing stock, which is what we were doing. Mr Hypnotist has evidently done a U-turn. Again.

Well now, that's his perogative I'm sure, but to be threatened in that way after all the effort we went to. Well. Since he appears to be so litigation happy I'll refrain from commenting in public as to my opinion of the man, but let's just say we're disgusted. I daresay we could have taken our own legal advice and stood up to the demands which, I'm fairly sure, have no basis in law. As a matter of principle, however - because we have more important things to do with our lives and our time - we've chosen instead to just eradicate him and all of his products from our business lives completely. Be damned if we're going to comply with someone's little power games by being ditcated to over which items of theirs we can and cannot sell. Could hit our new year motivational/self help sales pretty badly, but hell, that's not the point. Don't want to be associated with that particular "brand" any more, thanks very much.

Anyway. Apart from being so downright childish/petty/insert-your-own-adjective, that particualar development could be seen as a blessing in disguise. We've been umming and aaahing about the direction our online shop sales are taking, and this looks likely to be the prod we needed to take things off for a total re-vamp and re-think. Come New Year, we'll be looking to switch from Actinic to (perhaps) OS Commerce (assuming I can make head or tail of it), streamlining everything, moving to a new domain and switching directions slightly. All good, positive, long overdue stuff. Funny how it takes something nasty to really give you the impetus to change things for the better.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it's still nearly Christmas. Jon's doctor's appointment was cautiously positive, we'll have to wait and see what happens with that. Emily's spent the day still wrapping presents (ever get the feeling you may have overspent?) and this afternoon we've made various homemade choccies: dark chocolate covered Brazils for Gramps, milk choc marzipan balls for Nana, and milk and white chocolate rum truffles for everyone. Emily had a ball shaping the truffle balls from the half solidified choc, cream and rum - she looked like a chocolate covered elf by the time she'd finished!

She's also played a lot on this site/ which Hazel pointed out to us a few days ago. Great games!

Tomorrow Romy and Hazel are coming to play which will be fun, assuming I can clear up our sitting room sufficiently to give them somewhere to sit. Then lo, it shall be Christmas Eve - and we'll still have a Yule Log to bake, Christmas cards to make and probably - at this rate - pressies to wrap before the long-awaited carol service.

10 days until Emily's birthday and counting. Had an awful dream last night - that her birthday afternoon had arrived and I hadn't prepared anything for this party: no decorations, no activities/games in mind, no food, no party bags, no nothing. I had to run around like mad trying to amuse some very disappointed and bored children whilst trying to pretend that this was how I'd meant it to be all along and ignore the hurt and embarrassment on Emily's face. Horrible stuff, woke up really shaken. Suppose I'd better actually get something concrete worked out before I get another kick up the bottom from my subconscious which is clearly more organised than the rest of me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Did you get the beer, darling? Even better than that...

Sigh. I am so not a born shopper. Braved Tescos today. There was just one - one! - item on my list, and that was a box of beer. Emily and I came back several hours later with a boot full of stuff that we didn't need. And no beer. I'd completely forgotten about it. Although to be fair, in my defence, I was going to get some more wine, but having worked out that the wine aisles were so crowded you couldn't fit a cork down them let alone a trolley and a nearly seven year old, I abandoned that thought, and with it, evidently, thoughts of any other kind of alcohol. Oh well. Daresay we'll survive. I'm not going anywhere near the shops again until after IT is over, that's for sure.

Emily's cold seems to have come back, but she's made a valiant effort this afternoon at making some Christmas cards for our nearest and dearest, and wrapping pressies. It seems I may have spoken too soon about the slow down in orders, since today's been busy on that front, most of them accompanied by "delivery before Christmas please" requests. Yes, Madam, I'll just go and saddle up the reindeer.

Jon's reading Emily "Not the End of the World" by Geraldine McCaughrean at bedtimes as the moment. It's a dark, fictional re-telling of the Noah story, written from the point of view of a young daughter who has to cope with the violence, wonder why they're not saving any humans, deal with the second-class nature of being a female at that time, and so on. Brilliant book, has made her think and question such a lot. Two interesting reviews of it here and here. Exquisitely written. It deals with a lot of difficult issues so it's not a light and giggly book by any means, but I'd highly recommend it to anyone wanting something thought provoking and moving.

Jon's in a lot of pain, which is obviously causing a great deal of concern. We're looking for some answers from the doctor tomorrow. Why is that if you search on the internet for information on a women's health issue you get more information than you can shake a stick at. Search for a male issue and the information is woefully inadequate. Likewise with clinics, screenings etc. Seems we womenfolk are rather better cared for than the blokes. Our surgery does at least have a well woman clinic but ask them about a well man clinic and they look at you as if you've just landed a spaceship on their lawn. Grmrrrmmmpphhh.

Well, I'm off to wrap both presents and orders. One with rather more glee than the other.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unleash the Beast?? Yeah. Sometimes. (Evil Laugh)

Actually, I do have a hell of a temper, so I suppose it kind of fits.....

Hi, person! You are the very long Christmas list.
That means that you could either be naughty or
nice, although you may go along with nice more.
You may consider yourself the regular guy/girl.
You don't like it, though, when people take
advantage of your goodness. You can easily get
mad and leash out the beast. You may try to
control your anger, which is a good thing.
People could like that about you. Yeah, Merry
Christmas =)

What Christmas Figure Are You?
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Relax, It's Nearly Christmas :-)

Emily's over the worst of her cold now, although Sunday was pretty bad. Unfortunately, I've now got it (and it's horrrribblle) which means Jon's in line for getting it smack bang over Christmas itself. I'm sure he'll love cooking Christmas Dinner with a raging sore throat and a temperature :-( He's also in some considerable discomfort from "a man thing" we thought had been resolved (and I'm sure he'll love me telling the world that...) so it's back to the doc on Thursday for him. Double :-(

Health niggles aside though, things are going pretty well. Suspiciously so, in fact. I shouldn't feel this calm with 4 days to go until Christmas and 12 to birthday. I'm sure something will crop up and bite me on the bum when I least expect it, though, but for the moment we're about as serene as we ever get.

Emily went out for the day with Nana and Gramps today and came back laden with goodies, some of which she kept hidden until she could shut herself in her room with wrapping paper and tape, emerging later with a big grin and some secret pressies. :-)) Here she is with Nana comparing notes on the shopping spree:
The temporary child-free zone meant Jon and I could finally get to grips with the large pile of pressies that has been cluttering up the bedroom, so we spent the day doing our traditional what's-for-Xmas-what's-for-birthday sort through. Everyone's presents are now accounted for, apart from one or two from ebay which have failed to arrive. Hrrrmppph. How come we run around like a madly running around thing getting orders out to people to make sure they catch the last recommended post (today), but when I order something from someone else, two weeks ago in some cases, they just can't be bothered??

Anyway. So. Apart from the above-mentioned last minute order packing today, orders have dwindled now. Part of the cycle, I guess people aren't ordering now because they know they can't rely on getting stuff in time for The Big Day. It'll go potty again with a New Year self-help/motivation rush, so we're not too worried. Plus it gives us a chance to actually b-r-e-a-t-h-e. All the writing deadlines have been met (just) with the exception of a certain mobile phone company who wanted 40,000 words by Christmas. And which I said they could have. On the 3rd December. And which they could have had, except that they have yet to send me the rest of the spec. I'm fully expecting it to arrive tomorrow. With two working days to go. Ahem. Doormat I may well be, but that one 'aint going to happen.

Education-wise - well, the usual Christmassy stuff. *looks around shiftily when someone asks what that actually is*. Lots of arts and crafts. Oh and lots of Christmas poetry reading too, so that counts. We still have Christmas cards to make for friends and family, choccies to make for family and a yule log cake to make, but hey, we'll fit it in somewhere. Even the kittens are slightly calmer. Looked everywhere for Romeo this morning. Found him curled up on the windowsill, behind the blind, on a pile of crimble cards we've yet to put up. Awww, bless!

Oh yes, and there's a party to plan too. Still don't know what that will actually *involve* as such, although I do now know that the room will look rather fab. Well, I think so anyway. Last time we held a party for Emily was for her 5th birthday, and I was a nervous wreck for weeks beforehand. This time I'm rather more chilled. I'm sure it will be just fine. And I might actually get to enjoy it too. I must be mellowing in my old age. Hold that thought.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Emily's got a stinking cold. Yesterday she threw up all over the bathroom floor (and no, I still can't find the febreeze), this afternoon's she's been sick twice. She slept in little ten mintue bursts last night, has a raging temperature, a sore throat and a general air of misery :-(

Still, I guess at least we're getting it out of the way now and this does mean (hopefully) that she won't be poorly over Christmas and her birthday. We were only saying the other day that it had been a while since her last cold. Talk of the devil, and all that. Sigh.

Well, Wednesday we went to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe film. It wasn't quite as magical as I'd hoped, but it was a good film all the same. Mind you, my tolerance for it may have been somewhat underminded by having sat through nearly 40 minutes of adverts before it started, at which point my legs were already wanting to be elsewhere. Emily loved it, but I agree with Hazel's mention on her blog that I'm surprised it was a PG. It was definitely uncomfortable viewing in some parts, especially Aslan's humiliation and death at the stone table.

Thursday we went to the HE Christmas party with Hazel, Colin and Romy. That was good fun in parts, although Emily really doesn't cope well with extremely boisterious groups which led to some tears and uncomfortable moments. Friday we tried very hard to get some work done, gave up and had lots of cuddles instead. We also spent lots of time making decoupage photo frames for Nana, Gramps and Gradnad for Christmas, each painted a different colour with symbols of their favourite things on.

Today Emily was invited to Romy's Taekwondo Christmas party. We went along early with Hazel and Colin to watch Romy's lesson, and were very impressed :-)) Unfortunately, Emily's poorliness had really kicked in before the party actually started, and we had to leave early as she was crying, shivering, shaking and about to be sick.

So as weeks go, it's been a bit of a mixture of laughter and fun with a fairly large dose of tears thrown in for good measure. Not just Emily's either. We've got masses of deadlines to meet before Monday; we have more orders than we can cope with; I still have very little idea on what's happening with this birthday party; we can't move for boxes; kittens are driving us up the wall; and assorted other stresses and strains are beginning to show too. Time to pull selves together, get a reality check and realise that life is supposed to be FUN!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Worry Fairy Bank

Emily designed a worry fairy bank last night while Jon was reading to her at bedtime. She can never just sit and listen, lol, she always has to be drawing or making something at the same time. Takes after her Daddy in that respect. Me, I can do "sit still quietly" for hours at a time given half a chance....

Anyway, it was very endearing. She came trotting out of her bedroom to show me what she'd done. It's a big folded chart with a pocket on the front, and the idea is that she writes her worries on slips of paper, puts them into the worry fairy bank, and overnight the worry fairy comes to check what's bothering her and makes the worries disappear. Awww, bless!

I must confess I sneaked a peek (with permission!) at what was written on the current bank deposits. To my relief it didn't feature such things as "not getting enough Christmas presents" or "not getting a decent education". Our little one is evidently worried about fires, aliens, people getting ill and black holes and the sun burning out. Ah yes, the black holes/dying sun issue is back to haunt us again. That all started about a year ago, when we thought we'd do a space project. Got a lovely book and Emily vanished off to read it. Next thing we knew she was sobbing her heart out because she'd read about black holes and that one day the sun may die thereby robbing us poor souls of a half decent world in which to live. Needless to say, the space project never really got off the ground after that, but that particular worry still rears up every now and then :-(

Anyway, as far as I know the worry fairy did come to visit in the night, because I asked Emily this morning how she felt about her worries and she said they'd all gone. Apart from the dying sun. Sigh. Not much we can do about that one.

Yesterday we took Grandad for a blood test and then braved the High Street on a pressie buying mission. Didn't buy anything at all for all the people we were supposed to be buying for, but did buy some more snow queen party stuff which cheered us up no end. Town centre was packed, heaving and horrid. Thank heavens for the internet.

Today we've done tons and tons of mental maths, which went astonishingly well. We had carols playing all the way through which seems to have helped, rather than distracted. Hmmm. May investigate a musical background for our work in future. We also went off to see Cinderella in the theatre. Yet again, for the second year running, we were the only non-school people in the building, and yet again it was absolute murder, with several of the little "darlings" kicking the backs of our chairs throughout, with their adult supervisors either unable or unwilling to stop them. The din was deafening and the panto was a good half hour too long - but Emily thoroughly enjoyed it which is after all what matters. Next year though we are NOT going to the panto before the schools break up!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Ballet and a Visit from Santa

Emily did her Christmas ballet show today, which was lovely. Here she is in her Miss Christmas outfit afterwards. She spent ages the other day writing out her Christmas cards, so she distributed some at ballet today, together with a party invitation for her friend Kayleigh. We've had four acceptances for the party now, so we're just waiting to hear from two of Emily's old school friends; she sent invitations in the post to them yesterday.

Plans to turn a room downstairs into a magical winter grotto for the party are, um, proceeding apace. Kinda.

Meanwhile, Santa came on an "early scouting visit" to our street this evening in a big lit up (and exceptionally noisy) sleigh, pulled rather disappointingly by a knackered old volvo instead of the requisite team of prancing reindeer. Still, he and his elves were very jolly and loved Emily's Miss Christmas dress (was unable to prise her out of it once ballet was over). She sat with the man himself in his sleigh and told him what she wanted for Christmas and he promised (rather rashly, if you ask me) to do his best. Hmmm. Thanks Santa.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Downsizing the Christmas Tree

OK, I finally cracked. After "fixing" the Christmas tree on average five times a day for the last week, I've had enough. We now have a much smaller Christmas tree, since it's had the bottom half of its branches removed and all tinsel, decorations and assorted shiny kitten attractors replaced at a high level. Look at them - the picture of injured innocence...

Honestly, the kittens have gone completely potty. Pottier than potty. We're now all bearing the scars of a week in which anything that moves, tinsellated or not, has been attacked. Grrmmmph.

On a trip into the garden earlier this week, Romeo decided to eat some bird seed that we'd scattered about. Later that evening, we noticed a yukky stink. A certain kitten had done an extremely runny poo (too much information, I know) all over our bed....and all over the stock which had just been unpacked on our bed. "No, Mrs Customer, I'm afraid I have no idea why your Archangel Oracle Cards whiff a bit. It's a mystery." Minutes later, with several very expensive hardback books in the bin bag, Romeo decided to throw up with a vengeance. Nice. That's what you get if you have a kitten that eats EVERYTHING. Grrrmmpph again.

We had a fabulous time glass painting at Romy's on Monday afternoon. The finished items were supposed to be presents, but Emily decided she likes them so much she doesn't want to part with them, lol!

We've spent this morning designing and making party invitations and generally faffing about with festive crafty stuff. Earlier on in the week we did lots of maths, and started on a KS2 Year 3 English book with lots of work on prefixes and suffixes.

Healthwise, Emily went to the dentist yesterday and was given a glowing bill of health. Jon went for a diabetic eye check up on Wednesday, and still has near perfect vision. Grandad apparently needs yet another blood test. Honestly. Still, I guess everyone needs a hobby. Some people paint, some people knit, Grandad has blood tests.

Busy week next week - we're going to the pantomime on Tuesday, on Wednesday we're off to see the Lion, Witch & Wardrobe film with Hazel and Romy and on Thursday it's the local home education group Christmas Party. Romy has also invited Emily to the Christmas party at her Taekwondo club, which should be fun. Last ballet tomorrow, so Emily gets to go in fancy dress and put on a show for proud parents.

Having somewhat rashly agreed to this Snow Queen party malarky, I'm now spending large amounts of time trying to come up with exciting party ideas. More grrrmmph. And Christmas won't stop getting closer. And we have four major writing deadlines to meet between now and Xmas, plus we've got a new commission from a mobile phone company the deadlines for which are also urgent. Ho-ho-ho!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Crafts & Party Planning

Well, despite my best efforts to hold back the tide of time (we're simply not ready for December!!) both Christmas Day and Emily's Birthday are approaching with relentless speed.

So it was time to get organised. We've finally bought some pressies. It's a killer having Christmas and Birthday within a week of each other. Thank heavens for the trusty bits of plastic tucked away in the wallet.

Meanwhile, we've got a Winter Snow Queen birthday party to plan. And orders are still flooding in. And writing deadlines are approaching with speed. And we've got family Christmas presents to make. And the email never stops arriving and the phone never stops ringing. It's slightly busy up here just now.

Among all the chaos, there has been the odd productive moment. On Saturday, Emily had a wonderful time at ballet, practising for a Christmas show they're putting on next week. Meanwhile, Jon went Christmas shopping in Ashby high street, and managed to find all the presents he'd told me about previously - I was supposed to be getting them when I took Emily to ballet last week, but couldn't find any of them!! I contest that we must have been visiting two different high streets. I'm not rubbish at shopping. Can't be. We females are supposed to be good at that. It's in the genes, apparently. Although I loathe shopping - which might explain why I failed my Xmas shopping mission dismally.....good job Jon's there to go back and get all the bits I failed to spot!

Emily spent a happy couple of hours on Saturday afternoon doing a British Kings and Queens jigsaw obtained from the charity shop for a bargain 50p, and making some chocolates to hang on the tree. On Sunday morning she helped Nana and Gramps decorate their Christmas tree, while I attempted to get some work done. Sunday afternoon we played, faffed about a lot and Emily did some window art from this Klutz set which turned out very nicely indeed, especially with half a ton of glitter added to it.

Yesterday I packed orders all morning, Jon rushed about like a madly rushing about thing and Emily did LOTS of drawing and art. We finally had a breather to sit together in the afternoon, and made the most of it with two big crafty sessions - the first to make frosty branches with glittering leaves:

and the second to make tissue paper baubles.

We're off to visit Hazel & Romy this afternoon and do some glass painting, which sounds lovely. After which that'll be another day ticked off leaving only 26 days until our baby girl is 7!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tree's Up!

Yes, yesterday we braved it and put up the Christmas tree. Emily loved decorating it, and was especially pleased to re-discover some of the most precious decorations, ones Aunty Barbara and Uncle David gave her each year when she was little and ones she made at playgroup before she started school. She also had fun decorating her bed with (fake) holly, bows and tinsel so it's now a Chritmas Princess' bed. Surprisingly, the kittens showed hardly any interest in the tree or the bed yesterday afternoon and last night.

Bedtime was rather fraught though, as Emily suddenly developed a panic about what if the kittens broke her special decorations. No amount of reassurance seemed to work, and I'm afraid I rather lost patience and said a few ill judged things along the lines of "If Christmas decorations are more important than the kittens perhaps we shouldn't have had kittens in the first place. Perhaps we should take them back." Which, naturally enough, didn't exactly help. Ahem. Another bad Mummy moment. Still, all was resolved in the end - the most special decorations have now come down and been wrapped up to keep safe for next year when kit-bits are no longer kits-bits and will presumably be less manic.

Because manic they certainly have been this morning. They've had a ball this morning climbing the tree, pulling branches out, playing football with baubles, dragging tinsel around the house, getting their heads stuck in the frame round Emily's bed, eating her pretend robin (!) and much more jolly fun besides. Sigh. Think I was lulled into a false sense of security yesterday when they weren't that fussed. But then they do tend to sleep most of the afternoon having been manic in the mornings, so I guess I just hadn't bargained for Morning Christmas Kittie Play Heaven.

Meanwhile, work is still potty and busier than we can manage. We've had some very productive discussions about where we're headed with the business in the New Year, though, so that's quite exciting. I've got plans to get a lot more structured with Emily in the new year too. She's had way too much time left to her own devices recently, and although up to a point that suits us and I can see the benefit of it for Emily too, beyond that point I don't think it's benefiting either Emily or us. Hmmm. We shall see how things develop.

Tree's Up!

Yes, yesterday we braved it and put up the Christmas tree. Emily loved decorating it, and was especially pleased to re-discover some of the most precious decorations, ones Aunty Barbara and Uncle David gave her each year when she was little and ones she made at playgroup before she started school. She also had fun decorating her bed with (fake) holly, bows and tinsel so it's now a Chritmas Princess' bed. Surprisingly, the kittens showed hardly any interest in the tree or the bed yesterday afternoon and last night.

Bedtime was rather fraught though, as Emily suddenly developed a panic about what if the kittens broke her special decorations. No amount of reassurance seemed to work, and I'm afraid I rather lost patience and said a few ill judged things along the lines of "If Christmas decorations are more important than the kittens perhaps we shouldn't have had kittens in the first place. Perhaps we should take them back." Which, naturally enough, didn't exactly help. Ahem. Another bad Mummy moment. Still, all was resolved in the end - the most special decorations have now come down and been wrapped up to keep safe for next year when kit-bits are no longer kits-bits and will presumably be less manic.

Because manic they certainly have been this morning. They've had a ball this morning climbing the tree, pulling branches out, playing football with baubles, dragging tinsel around the house, getting their heads stuck in the frame round Emily's bed, eating her pretend robin (!) and much more jolly fun besides. Sigh. Think I was lulled into a false sense of security yesterday when they weren't that fussed. But then they do tend to sleep most of the afternoon having been manic in the mornings, so I guess I just hadn't bargained for Morning Christmas Kittie Play Heaven.

Meanwhile, work is still potty and busier than we can manage. We've had some very productive discussions about where we're headed with the business in the New Year, though, so that's quite exciting. I've got plans to get a lot more structured with Emily in the new year too. She's had way too much time left to her own devices recently, and although up to a point that suits us and I can see the benefit of it for Emily too, beyond that point I don't think it's benefiting either Emily or us. Hmmm. We shall see how things develop.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Is Coming

I seem to have lost the art of regular blogging. This may have something to do with being snowed under with orders - blogging kinda takes a backseat when you have upwards of 300 items to pick and pack of an evening. Still, it's all good. Obviously. Even if it doesn't always feel that way at this time of night.

Let's see, what's been happening? Well, over the last couple of days Emily's done some baking - we tried making nice star biscuits with boiled sweets in the middle, a la Usborne Christmas Cooking book....but they turned into what Emily named Boiled Sweet Explosions instead...boiled sweets somehow managed to melt to cover the entire baking sheet (so tough it took me ages to get the darned things off) rather than sitting neatly in their little circles as they were supposed to. Grrrr. We've also been Christmas shopping to....wait for it.... Tescos. OK, so we didn't get anything very exotic, although we did pick up a new party/Xmas/Birthday outfit for Emily since she's well and truly outgrown last year's offering. She's grown over an inch during November. Clothes can't keep up!!

Some vaguely educational things went on yesterday too, but I can't quite remember what. I think I'm suffering from stress induced amnesia.

Today we had a ball. Romy and Hazel came over to play, make gingerbread biscuits and make hanging angels - to hang on the tree, that is, not an exercise in capital punishment! The girls seemed to have enormous fun weighing, measuring, mixing, rubbing, kneading, cutting out and then icing and sprinkling. Hugely messy but rather tasty too!

Emily has decided that December is official Crafts Month (like she ever has a month that isn't) and wants to do "at least" one craft a day from here so it should be a busy month! We haven't got our tree and decorations down from the attic yet (although tomorrow is pencilled in for that, if we get ten minutes to breathe) but a little pink fibre optic tree I ordered from ebay **weeks** ago finally did put in an appearance today just in time to delight a certain small person, and is taking pride of place in her bedroom adorned with her (already large!) collection of home made decorations. The kittens think it's rather entertaining too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Patients Are Home

So glad that's over! The kittens have now been neutered, and both are home safe and well. There were a few tears this morning getting them ready to go and dropping them off, though. It did feel almost as if we were taking Juliet to be executed, given the risks involved. Emily in particular has been worried sick all day, and was a bit alarmed to see poor Ju-Ju with lots of fur shaved off when we went to get her back. But now it's all done, and they're absolutely fine. Romeo wants to keep licking Juliet's stitches, though, so we'll have to keep an eye on that.

Emily went out for the day with Nana and Gramps today, in a bid to keep her mind off worrying about the kittens. She still worried, of course, but she had a wonderful time exploring Lincoln Cathedral with them, and apparently enchanted one of the guides :-)) She's come home full of tales of the Lincoln Imp and the beautiful architecture (and laden with the odd treat from the gift shop!!).

Jon's found a place in Gainsborough running a children's yoga class and children's tai chi as well, which sounds really interesting. They restrict the classes to 16 kids (which is a relief after the ballet class "as many as can fit in the room plus a few more for luck" ethos) so I don't know yet if we can get Emily a place - I'm waiting to hear back from them, but hopefully she'll be starting both yoga and tai chi after Christmas.

And I still haven't got my head around Christmas/Birthday presents. Eeep! Where did November go??

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's Snowing!

Quite heavily, actually. Enormous big flakes. The ground's very wet, though, so I daresay it won't settle on the roads, which is somewhat of a relif given how much driving around we've got to do this week.

Still, someone who doesn't have the jaded eyes of a world-weary grown up is absolutely thrilled to bits, and has spent the last half hour in the garden running about and shrieking with delight :-)))

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kit Bit Pics

Here's Juliet in her new favourite sleeping place, half way up Emily's bookshelf unit:

and Romeo with a "mouse" (polystyrene packing bit, but hey, he has a good imagination):

Off to the vets for neutering on Tuesday. Can't shake off my nervousness about Juliet having the operation with her heart murmur, even though the vets assure us it will be absolutely fine....but her not having it, and having to remain an indoor cat for her whole life, is just not a viable option with our constant round of deliveries, open doors, etc. and wouldn't, we feel, be truly fair on her either. Shall be a nervous wreck all day Tuesday, but I do think we're doing the right thing.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Hectic Days

Blimey, where did the week go?

No point in me doing a day by day recap, since there's lots I can't remember - it's been an extremely busy time business-wise, and an even busier one with health appointments and errands and whatnot. Highlights of the week include:

  • Meeting all our article deadlines. Just.
  • Massive increase in ebay activity as well as amazon and shop sales.
  • Jon coming out in a rather scary rash as a reaction to new medication, which cleared up just before we decided on a dash to casualty, as advised in the leaflet, but was rather alarming just the same...
  • Emily mastering two new notes on the recorder.
  • Taking Nana swimming and Emily showing off her water skills.
  • Lovely play at Romy's on Tuesday.
  • Making a plaster of paris brain, which Emily's going to paint in different colours according to what goes on where.
  • Lots and lots of maths, including some tears when Emily realised that a) she needs to know the 2, 5 and 10 times tables in random order not just one after the other and b) that she can't yet do that.....followed by lots of smiles when I pointed out that (probably) nor can the kids in her school year, yet, and that it doesn't matter how long it takes her to learn, we'll get there in the end.
  • Tons of very impressive spelling. Emily now has all the various vowel combinations off pat, I think, so she can do spellings like the boil/soil, cloud/sound, could/would, bread/head, air/chair, boat/moat type groups without thinking now, as well as -le and wh- words and quite a few of the miscellaneous words like because, usually and so on. More to the point, she's starting to spell them correctly in her own writing too, rather than just when "tested". She asks to do spelling a lot, for some strange reason!
  • Suicidal kittens. Yes. Romeo has taken to tightrope walking along the very narrow bannister at the top of our front stairs. The one with a good 25 foot drop down at the furthest edge. He likes to wander along it, and then sit, poised to leap at a cobweb hanging across the stairs on the wall. Oh how we laugh. Not. It's been fun sitting in our "work" area in the open plan room at the top of the stairs watching him doing that and waiting with bated breath for him to fall to certain injury. Yes, I know cats are supposed to have a good sense of self preservation and won't do anything daft. Think Romeo was away when they handed out that particular skill, though. Oh and of course, Juliet now copies him. It's even more fun when you have two of them there, poised to fight and pushing past each other on this extremely narrow piece of wood.

There's been rather a lot of carol singing, too. Emily's found her Christmas CDs and has had them on, um, lots. She knows all the words and has been singing her heart out, lol. She can't wait for the carol service on Christmas Eve. I used to feel hypocritical taking her there, since I'm by no stretch of the imagination a Christian, but I've now come round to a different point of view: just as it's morally wrong to push a religion on a child, it's also, imo, morally wrong to push a child away from a religion if they've expressed an interest in it (which Emily frequently has, it's not just a once a year issue). It's very easy for me to pooh-pooh Christianity, but how is that any better, or any more right, than forcing her down a path of my own choosing? Jon is a little more Christian than me (but not much) - but it's funny, isn't it, how none of us would dream of pouring scorn on a different religion, yet it's OK to pour scorn on the one most familiar to you. I haven't found anything particularly meaningful in any of the religions I've investigated - but that doesn't mean that Emily can't, or won't, or shouldn't. If we had easy access to other places of worship, or knew people of other faiths and could join in their celebrations we'd jump at the chance for Emily to experience that....yet I balk at taking her to the one religious centre we do have ready access to. Odd - and worrying, too.

Emily definitely has an interest in God in the Christian sense, and it's not just what she was brainwashed with in that first year at school, either - it's lasted beyond that. We often talk about God and spirituality and religions. We've explained how, for instance, in our opinion, the Bible stories cannot be considered actual fact, but we've also been careful to point out that many people believe they are, and that it's up to her to make up her own mind about that and other aspects of Christianity as she grows and matures. I hate the thought that she should automatically take on our views and opinions on anything at all, including religion. She's not a Nikki'n'Jon clone, and we wouldn't want her to be. It's a fine line to tread between explaining your own point of view and not, on the other hand, crushing a child's emerging personal opinion. Now if only we could leave all that moral guidance malarky to school, lol.......

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Welcome Home Grandad!

It's been a busy week :-)

There was lots I wanted to blog, but as usual it's all vanished from my head now I'm actually looking at the screen. Oh well, brief recap here we go:

Tuesday was spent frantically trying to meet deadlines. Nuff said.

On Wednesday we went to Normanby Hall with Romy and Hazel for a play - and supposedly to collect nature stuff for making more fairy furniture, but the girls were having too much fun just playing so I think the collecting was a bit of an afterthought! Emily did find a great Nanny McPhee stick, though, and spent the rest of Wednesday evening and much of Thursday morning playing out scenes from the book and film with it.

Thursday was welcome home Grandad day as he arrived back from Canada with Uncle David and Aunty Barbara. Emily made chocolate shortbread in their honour and we all had a good old chat, spirits lightened by Jon discovering at a doctor's appointment that a health issue we'd been worrying about wasn't anything serious after all :-))More cooking on Friday - lemon cake this time, which was truly scrummy (and I should think so too, the amount of ingredients in it....five eggs and three lemons indeed). Having gone out for the day, David and Barbara came back to join us for a meal and a chinwag again, and Uncle David and Emily between them had fun doing a 200 piece glow in the dark skeleton jigsaw.

This morning Emily was enchanted to see such a heavy frost when she got up, so we piled out in the garden at an unfeasibly early time in the morning and spent a lovely hour wandering around taking in the beauty of it all. There were incredibly intricate little ice crystals covering our garden decorations, and the leaves of our red tree have finally started to fall, so the garden around the tree was covered in a carpet of leaves that looked as if they were wedding cake decorations frosted in sugar. Gorgeous. Whilst out there we remembered something we'd seen somewhere about making ice lanterns, so thought we'd have a go. Emily was in her element collecting lots of bits of nature to go in the bowls, then we taped smaller bowls inside the big ones, filled them water and popped them in the freezer. Here's the Frost Queen collecting her bits:

David and Barbara popped round to say goodbye just as we were giving the kittens a run in the frost, so Emily had lots of hugs since they've got to last until next year now!

Then it was off to ballet, and lots of arty crafty stuff this afternoon. The ice lanterns turned out quite well for a first attempt, although they could have done with an overnight freeze and a slightly bigger candle. They really do look magical in the dark with the candle shining through the ice and lighting up all the leaves and berries. I did take pictures of them in the dark but none came out well enough to use, so here's one taken with the flash:

Today we've had the dubious pleasure of discovering we need to pay nearly another grand to the VAT man by the end of the month, which given that our cashflow is a bit wonky at the moment should be interesting. Hmmm. Better get back to work, then! There are three article deadlines approaching on Monday, and I haven't started on any of them yet. Ahem. Bye bye for now!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sneaking Ten Minutes.... blog today before I have to knuckle down to some serious deadline meeting for the press agency.

Took Merlin and Cassie to the vets this morning for their boosters. Merlin, apparently, is underweight (despite the fact that he never stops eating). Cassie is massively overweight (well, we knew that) and needs to urgently lose some. Easier said than done when we rarely see her eating in the first place, and she's often sick straight after she's eaten anyway. I suspect there's rather more to her obesity than 'cat who eats too much', but for now we'll follow the vet's instructions (like we weren't already) and see how it goes.

Back from the vets we decided to make the most of our last day of freedom for some time - between pending health appointments for various members of the family (dozens of 'em!!....well, seems so anyway), work deadlines, the seasonal business rush and the dire need to fit in some education, it's going to be a busy run up to Christmas from this week on. So Emily and I took ourselves off to the cinema to see Nanny Mcphee - yes, probably the last people in the country to do so. It was absolutely brilliant, we both loved it to bits and it is, in Emily's words, "miles better than Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus" (you don't say??). Emily has been chunnering away ever since about the differences between the book and the film (of which there are, um, very, very many). She's read up to chapter six of the book this last couple of days. Jon has already read it to her once, but she wanted to re-read it herself, which is pretty good going, I reckon. She can't decide now whether she likes the book or the film version best!

Straight from the cinema we went swimming for a bit, which was OK if you like freezing to bits. Wish they'd do something about the temperature in there!!

And so home, and it's deadline time for me. That should take care of tonight and tomorrow, then Wednesday we need to clear out the stockroom - ahem, I mean Grandad's bedroom :-))) - ready for his return from Canada. And Emily will have lots of baking and cooking to do to feed our (hopefully hungry) guests!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Running Fast But Standing Still

We've been exceptionally busy - and that's an understatement so large I'd better move before it falls over and squashes me. Jon and I haven't stopped to draw breath this past couple of days - but no matter how hard we work, there's always more to do, lol. Oh the joys of self-employment. Sometimes we just don't seem to be getting anywhere. Probably because the goals we set ourselves are too high. If I put my un-jaded glasses on, I can see that we're making progress in our business goals - but sometimes it's hard to see that from the middle of the chaos!!

Emily has been wonderful company recently. Only seven weeks until our baby girl is 7 years old - where on earth have the years gone???

On Friday afternoon we had fun in Twigmoor woods with Romy and Hazel. Despite strict instructions to not paddle in the lake any higher up than the heels or their welly boots....well, need I say more? Paddling in November, collecting mud from the lake to make fairy cakes, while the school kids were sat poring over their 400th SATS practice paper of the term. Hmmm. I know which I'd rather for my daughter.

Saturday and today have passed in a blur of activity. Emily had a fab time at ballet, she's done yet more loads of arty crafty things, we've played lots of a great hieroglyphs board game (Emily's back in Egyptian crazy mode again), she's read lots of DK Find Out magazines, played lots of neopets, written lots of stories and generally been a superstar. And lots.

Better get back to work before the world stops spinning. Sooooo much to do. Must just post these two photos of our beautiful golden tabbies. Took them this morning when we found the kit-bits asleep on this gold organza (bought to make a curtain under Emily's bed). Just love the colours :-))

Have a crack of dawn appointment tomorrow morning for the two big cats to have their booster injections. Brought the cat carrier in from the shed this evening and they both moved faster than they have for a long time....straight out into the night, lol. They're not keen......the kittens, though, have yet to develop a fear of the vets (give it time....neutering soon...) and wanted to get in it!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pottering Along

It's been a very free flowing couple of days. Kind of loose and warm and sleepy. Nice.

Although Tuesday evening wasn't quite so nice. The second of Emily's teeth that had been wobbly since May was at the hanging by a thread stage and was merrily swinging at a very odd angle, but she refused to touch it or have it removed. She was munching a carrot whilst watching The Herbs and it suddenly started streaming blood. Cue much hysteria and panic, poor thing. The tooth had suddenly gone very grey for some reason, and we really didn't fancy the prospect of Emily trying to sleep with a steady trickle of blood (it wouldn't stop) and a grey half out tooth, so I wanted to remove it. Ahem. Poor Emily was terrified. It was not a good hour or so.

Thankfully, once it was over it was, well, over and beaming smiles soon returned once Emily realised she could now talk properly and eat, lol.

Yesterday we did lots of work - times tables squares, more about teeth and healthy eating, and Emily pottered away at arty crafty things under her own steam most of the afternoon. She and Daddy made "Jam Explosions" (jam tarts gone rather odd, rofl), sausage rolls and cheesy squares, and we all enjoyed a rare sit down meal of roast chicken, veggies and oodles of white wine together (it's usually either me or Jon eating while the other one works). (Well, Emily didn't have the white wine).

The characterisation and description detail work for "English" is going very well. We played a fun game yesterday where Emily and I drew and coloured a "monster" each in secret, and then wrote down details of its description, after which the other person had to draw from the written description and see if it matched the original picture. Liked that. Good way of exloring how words create a mental image which, unless chosen very carefully, may or may not be what the writer had in mind.

Today maths was a bit of a struggle, but more work on balanced diets and more English characterisation went well. This afternoon, Emily attempted to follow the instructions for this 3D Picasso Faces thingy from Art Attack, which she had seen a little while ago. Needless to say, as always happens with us and Art Attacks (is it just us???) the instructions were woefully inadequate and the whole 'cover it with kitchen paper' malarky just did not work. We abandoned that and painted it white instead. Tomorrow she'll paint it cubist style. Still on the Picasso theme, Emily spent a while filling pages of a book with abstract style facial features - a page for face shapes, one for eyes, one for nose, one for eyebrows, one for mouth, one for hair and one for ears. She seemed to enjoy drawing really quickly, without thinking too much, and did well at capturing different emotions using jagged shapes, fluid shapes and so on. Using these ideas, she then created a Picasso style forward/profile mixed up face in about three minutes flat, which I think has a certain spontaneous charm :-))

She was very keen on that, and wants to do more on an on-going basis.

Another very civilised family dinner of Lasagne and oodles of red wine. Now if only I could grab a snooze as easily as the kittens do.....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Having spent the whole flippin' day collating exhibits, reprinting pertinent emails, going over Jon's statement etc and waiting anxiously for The Email telling us when exactly he was required to appear in the High Court, and expecting to have to drop everything to rush a train station at any minute.......we finally get an email at nearly half past five telling us that the case has been settled, and he's no longer required after all. Yay!!!!!!! That's an enormous relief (although the whole thing has left us pretty irritated, and has swallowed up huge amounts of our time and nervous energy over the last month or so).

Jon even had to go out and by a mobile phone this morning. We don't "do" mobiles, but wanted him to have one to keep in touch while he was down there, as we didn't even know how many days he'd be gone. We do possess an old one but it hasn't been used for 18 months, and when we found it the other day we no longer remembered the security code, nor how to top it up, and the instruction manual had long since been consigned to who knows where. So, we're now the proud owners of a new and very smart little Virgin mobile thingy. Haven't a clue how to use it, and now have very little use for it - but I daresay now we've got it we might actally switch it on once in a while. Just for a giggle.

Education? Er, well, no, not really. Read a bit more of Magician's Nephew, and Emily did the 5 and 10 times tables picture puzzles. Other than that, she's played all day whilst Jon and I have fussed and fretted. Now this court malarky is settled, normal service will be resumed shortly. We hope.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dangling in Mid Air

No, not the kittens. Although they do their best. Us.

The Paul McKenna court case begins in the High Court tomorrow, and Jon's been told he definitely has to appear. Only trouble is, given the nature of these things, they can't tell him whether they need him tomorrow, Wednesday or Thursday, or how long they'll need him for, and they've been uncharacteristically (for lawyers) vague about all the details, including tiny little insignificant pieces of information like the name of the hotel he's been booked into. Verrrry helpful. Especially if you're 200 miles away from London and need to work out train journeys, times, arrange for someone to be here to sign for deliveries whilst we're out taking Jon to the station, and all the rest of it. It's getting rather fraught at this end, and very nerve-racking even for me, so heaven knows how bad Jon's feeling.

Other than the horrible dangling in mid air sensation, it's been quite a productive day. I started reading the Magician's Nephew to Emily this morning. She adores the BBC Lion Witch & Wardrobe dramatisation, and has watched that DVD to death. She can't wait for the film to come out, but we've never actually read the rest of the saga, so thought we'd better get started. I read it all as a child, but can't really remember that much of it (must have made an awesome impression then....) so it's an adventure for me too.

After what seems like weeks without much actual "work", we also took a gentle step back into the world of maths, with Emily doing the 2 times table hidden picture puzzle from The Multiplication Tables Colouring Book. That was painless enough. She then did quite a few pages from the Just Write book, all about characterisation. Finally - and very topically, with yet another tooth now hanging by a thread - we did lots of looking in mouths, drawing different types of teeth and working through the second half of the CGP Teeth and Eating Workbook.

Major meltdown at lunchtime when said tooth came even closer to coming out. That particular perfomance featured screams, hysterical tears and full blown tantrums for a full half an hour, at which point I became Bad Mummy and totally lost patience, but eventually Emily calmed down sufficiently for us to go swimming with Hazel and Romy. The pool was absolutely FREEZING!!! The two girls had a nice long play. Not sure much actual swimming took place, mind you, but they seemed to have fun, whilst Hazel and I watched and slowly turned into icecubes.

Right then. I'm off to look up train timetables and wonder why life is never as simple as it should be :-//

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Settling Back Into A Routine

That's not what we're doing, but it's what we need to do.

The last few weeks have been ever so bitty really, in terms of "education". Emily's played loads, but our routine has gone right out of the window whilst we struggled to get some more business work done. I'd like to get us back on track with some proper work, especially on the Vikings and Art projects which have stalled not through lack of interest on Emily's part, but lack of time. Ho hum. Why are there never enough hours in the day?

This morning before ballet Emily spent a while doing crafty stuff, and made some lovely miniature things for her dolls house, including a very detailed cat climbing tree/scratching post/toy tree thing from wire, beads, polystyrene and felt. Then it was off to ballet, where they had great fun doing firework dances. Afterwards, Emily proudly introduced me to a new friend she's made. I was very impressed with her sociability this morning - she'd never seen this little girl before, but by the end of the lesson she'd found out her name, how old she was, where she lived, chatted to her about wobbly teeth (as you do) and made friends to the huggy-hand-holdy stage. I complimented her on nicely she'd got to know this little one, and she told me "Yes, I like making friends now. I know that if I see someone looking a bit on their own like me, all I have to do is go to them and smile and start to talk and then I can make friends with them." Yay! Progress! Things we've been encouraging Emily to do are beginning to sink in, it seems. A while ago she wouldn't have dared speak to a new person, let alone initiate a friendship.

This afternoon we had fun looking through Ecology Crafts for Kids which arrived from the wholesalers this morning. Yet more dozens and dozens of ideas for things we want to do if only we could carve out the flippin' time!!!!

After dark, Romy, Hazel and Colin popped round to share our garden fireworks display and sparklers. High tech it certainly wasn't, but it was quite pretty and made up for not having time (again) to go to an organised display this year. Especially for Grandad (still in Canada) here are some pics of the vegetable patch being put to good use!

And - breaking news - Juliet has miaowed at us not once but three times in the last hour! Looks like she's deciding to make her voice known after all :-)))

Friday, November 04, 2005

Utterly Magical

Got back yesterday from a wonderful break in St Bees, Cumbria where my Mum & Dad have bought a caravan holiday home in Seacote Park. Now, anyone who knows me knows that of all the places in England and Wales I've lived in, worked in or spent extensive holidays in, my heart belongs to Snowdonia....but a rival to my affections has seriously emerged here.

We had an utterly magical time. The caravan is gorgeous. The weather was perfect....well, for me at least. The wind screamed at gale force or just under, the rain boiled down from the skies so hard that at times you couldn't hear yourself speak over it, the caravan at times gently rocked under the force of the elements - I loved it. I've always had, ever since I can remember, a "fantasy" if you like, a kind of imagined sequence of events which can send me off to sleep in seconds when I'm feeling troubled - of being safe and cosy in a tent cuddling up with loved ones while the rain and wind lash down furiously outside. I don't know what it is about wild weather but I adore it, it leaves me energised and alive - unlike plain old sunshine which I find boring and at times depressing. Everyone thinks I'm odd, but I rather like it that way :-))

We didn't have time to really get to know St Bees and that little corner of the Lake District, but as tasters go, it was fabulous. We're really looking forward to returning in the spring for a longer holiday, and we've got so many places we want to go and things we want to do there!

OK, so it's a long drive - 4.5 hours each way - but it was worth it. Emily was enchanted with the beach from the minute we got there, and it really is perfect for a child - it has miles of sand which, when the tide is out, turn into a heaven of tiny paddling pools, sand islands and fortresses; it has a huge stony/pebbly/rocky shelf expoosed at low tide; it has a stream running into the sea; it has massive rock pools and climbing rocks at the foot of St Bees Head - everything you could possibly want from a beach, all mixed in together.

Tuesday morning, despite the extremely strong wind, we ventured up onto the first couple of miles of Wainright's famous Coast to Coast Walk which starts from the cliffs at the edge of the beach. It was absolutely glorious - if a little iffy in the wind, which was strong enough at some moments to make us adults lose our balance, let alone Emily. Here's Emily and Jon cuddled up against the wind:

and climbing a cliff top stile which, although you can't tell from the photo, seemed to have a pretty sheer drop at one edge (gulp!)

Despite a few anxious moments, the views and the exhiliration were well worth it. We made it as far as St Bees Lighthouse, but decided against descending to Fleswick Bay due to the weather, which was taking a turn for the worse, safety wise. We will definitely get down to the bay in the spring though. It can only be reached from the cliff path or by boat, and is apparently famous for its semi-precious gemstones.

Tuesday afternoon we spent hours on the beach, playing, rockpooling, getting extremely wet and muddy and generally having a ball. Here's a photo of the pink fisher girl:

Wednesday we were spoilt for choice of where to go, but eventually decided to visit Trotters World of Animals/ which turned out to be be a very, very good decision. Despite being nearly the only visitors there, we were treated to a fantastic Birds of Prey flying display (which included Emily being nearly knocked off her feet by a lovesick vulture called Fred, lol) and a close up touchy-feely encounter with several snakes. Here's me and Emily getting up close and personal with a Beauty Snake called Lucy:

I love snakes, I think they're some of the most beautiful creatures. Spiders - uck. But snakes, now that's me. Back to the caravan for more beachcombing, despite the driving rain and howling wind - I don't know if some of the clothes we've brought back will ever be clean again!

Thursday it was time to leave after an all too short stay. It was a long drive home, but we had a wonderfully warm welcome from the kit-bits, who had been kitty-sat by Nana & Gramps while we were away.......and we came came back to nearly 400 orders demanding immediate attention. Sigh. Guess what we've been doing all last night and all day today. Still, mustn't grumble - it would have been far more alarming if we'd come back to none, lol! We're kind of caught up now, just about, which is great - but it's a shame to look out of the windows and not see the sea and the raging elements in all their glory. These waves were just breaking onto shore near the stream, and I'm sure they were taller than me! Certainly freaked Emily out when Jon went to the waters edge to get the photo, anyway...
Never mind - all good things must eventually come to an end, but we've got our next visit in early spring to look forward to!

Must just add this photo of Romeo chasing rainbows on Emily's bed this morning. He spent ages rushing to and fro, bless him.
Juliet was up there too....but had rather more sense than her brother, and idled away the time between paw-washes looking on in a faintly amused must-humour-him kind of way....

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Guess Who Forgot....

...that the clocks went back an hour last night?

There's me hurrying Emily along cos she's still having breakfast at "10 o clock" and we've got so much to do today.... meanwhile, Jon's dashed off out to Tesco...which of course doesn't open on a Sunday until 10 o clock, and it's actually only 9 o clock...and we don't "do" mobile phones, so I can't phone him and tell he'll have to waste an hour either waiting outside or coming back here and then going back to the shop again.

Grrrrmmmph. So much to do today, can't see how it's all going to fit in, even given the apparently extra hour. Double grrrrmmph.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Getting Ready go away for a few days. Why is it that everyone else seems to swan off on holiday at the drop of a hat, but with us it takes a full 3-4 days to get work up to date, last minute orders packed, accounts ready to go (VAT due again soon), find the stuff we need to take, work out how to get there...blah blah. We need a holiday to get over preparing for a holiday, lol. That's the trouble with being self-employed. It has soooooo many good points, but the stress and loss of income that results from a short holiday has to be seen to be believed!

Yesterday, while Jon and I rushed around like headless self employed people, Emily yet again amazed us with her ability to amuse herself. She did several 250 piece jigsaws completely unaided, enjoyed a long and involved made up game of Tudors-meet-Egyptians, tidied up (!), drew, read and was generally a superstar. During a breather all three of us enjoyed doing this Usborne Map of the World jigsaw (why doesn't mention its jigsaws???) which was extremely big and pretty hard!!

Nana & Gramps also came back from their latest stay in the caravan yesterday, laden with goodies for Emily, so we had a good old chat about the area and what to see/do when we get there.

Off to ballet in a bit. I thought there was a witchy potion making activity on at 20/21 today, but I got the dates completely fuddled - for some reason, that's not until mid November. So, um, we'd better not go to that today, then. Halloween this year is going to be a bit of a non-event, as we're going to be driving up to Cumbria on the day. We would have done a spooky dinner for family tomorrow, like we did last year, and done the whole pumpkin carving/dressing up/games/spooky stories malarky, but we're just not going to have time. Really wanted to do some background work about the pagan origins of Halloween and how pagans celebrate Samhain (could do with some help from Kris there!)....but again, just ran out of time. Maybe next year. We'll try to do some background work about Yule, though, definitely.

This morning, though, Emily's been doing some Halloween 3-D pictures, which are very impressive. I had bought lots of itty bitty sissix ghost/witchy/bat/pumpkin/haunted house/spooky tree type shapes from Ebay (before I realised Halloween was going to cease to be) - she found them earlier on, and has been using double sided sticky tabs to build up 3-D scenes with them on black card with chalk and gel pens too. Verrry nice!

Meanwhile, a piccie of Friends & Allies - Merlin and Romeo have finally stopped hitting each other, and look like they're ready to co-operate on being the Boy Cats of the household. (Can't say the same about Juliet and Cassie-cat, though....)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Romeo settled down for a nap at the top of the verrrrry tall kitty haven. Posted by Picasa

Juliet practising her leopard pose, half asleep. Posted by Picasa

Leopards, Wasps and the Tooth Fairy

It's been a very giggly day, which has been healthy and healing all round. The Tooth Fairy is due to flutter by tonight, at last. Emily's two top front teeth have been wobbly since about May, but one of them has been literally hanging off since Monday. She was hysterical on Tuesday when it moved to its final stage of wobbliness, as a) she was terrified of there being a lot of blood (to be fair, there was an astonishing amount last time, but that's probably because it came out too early) and b) she'd got it into her head that she was going to look silly with a gap. That bit she was really panicky about, even to the extent of worrying that Kris' children wouldn't like her yesterday if her tooth came out before they arrived. Okkkayy. Finally, this morning during breakfast, it popped out so easily and with so little fuss that she didn't even notice until a few minutes later. Broad beams all round. Like all children, she looks beautiful and extremely cute with her gap, and we told her so.

Don't know why she has hang ups about how she looks. I think it must be a throw back to school where she was teased about her glasses and about the strawberry birth mark on her back. Can't think what else it would be. Sometimes, Emily seems to have all the emotional angst of a teenager, but with only a six year old mind to process it all. Can be tough. But she's happy as larry now the tooth incident is all over, so fingers crossed the run up to the next one (due any day now..) won't be so traumatic for her.

We ventured up into the loft today, for a bit of an adventure. The aim was to find my old dolls and dolls clothes, but it turned out to be rather more "thrilling" than we'd anticipated. Somehow we managed to disturb a wasp's nest, and the most enormous wasp you have ever seen decided to repeatedly dive bomb me and Emily. Not a lot of fun in a very cramped space with no easy exit - due to the layout of our loft access, I couldn't get Emily down without Jon underneath to help, and he was in another part of the house and couldn't hear us yelling. By the time he came to see how we were getting on about ten minutes later, Emily was petrified and I wasn't having a ball either. On the plus side, though, I did manage to find my old dolls pram, so we got that down. Lovely thing, I'd forgotten how big it is, Emily can only just manage it. It's got enormous twin fold down hoods and a beautiful embroidered panel all around the edge of it.

Meanwhile, in cat land - we'd found the kittens playing chase up the shower curtain this morning. Bathroom bottle and pot plants everywhere. Having decided now definitely we're not letting them out alone until January, we figured we'd better find them some new entertainment before they wreck the place. Some pets at home vouchers arrived this morning, and clinched the deal - after an hour or so moving furniture and clearing space, off we went to get a 'normous three storey play area for them. Horribly expensive, but I reckon it's worth it if it keeps them happy and saves our sanity. And they love it. After a full hour playing on it once it was assembled, they both feel asleep on it. They looked like leopards up a tree, bless 'em. Especially since they're almost camouflaged in it, lol. It's very tall, considerably taller than Emily, and we've put it in the window of our upstairs sitting room, so they have a fab view outside.

Here's Romeo and Juliet having fallen asleep before we moved it to the window:

Hmm, blogger seems to be sulking, so I'll add the other two pictures seperately.

It's been confirmed that Jon has to attend the McKenna court case during w/c 7th November. Damn, damn, treble damn. That's stressed us out somewhat, and put a bit of a damper on an otherwise amusing and productive day. Boy do we need a break next week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dreaming of the Future

Had a houseful this afternoon when Kris and her delightful brood came to play. All four girls seemed to have very girly fun with dressing up, playing barbies, and lots of polly pockets. Was tempted to sell Kris half of our stock, but she was very self-controlled and resisted the urge ;-)

It was lovely to have lots of laughter and voices in the house. We've no imminent plans to expand our family (just as well, as Emily is incredibly adamant that she doesn't want any siblings, lol) but it would be nice to help Emily forge a wider circle of friends than she has at the moment. And it's good for us to meet new faces too. Being a naturally shy person, it's not always easy for me to have the get up and go to arrange to get to know new people, but I'm getting there.

Kris' visit was a very pleasant antidote to what has become an incredibly stressful day and a half. It's been an emotional, deeply hurtful time, having been accused, out of the blue, of all kinds of unpleasant stuff by someone we loved and trusted. Sadly the rumpus that has caused in my head has left me just about as world weary as I've ever felt. I've never so much wished to just up sticks and walk away. If moving was a practical option right now, I'd be at the estate agents before dawn.

But it's not a practical option. Not just yet. Been window shopping on the fish homes site, though, and I've loved what I've seen in Wales and Scotland. Hey, we can all dream. Never say never. After all, Jon and I did both chuck in well paid jobs "down south" to come up here on a wing and a prayer seven years ago. We've done it before, who's to say we can't do it again, when the time is right?

We'll be going away to the caravan for a few days next week; couldn't have come at a better time. Some peace and quiet to get our heads around recent personal events, and also to chill out before the stress of Jon's McKenna court case attendance and the traditional November/December business explosion. Bring it on!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Can See The Floor!

Not all over the house, you understand, but at least in the playroom bit. Had booked today in as a major tidy up day since we were falling over things as soon as we moved, and Emily was getting majorly frustrated by not being able to find the right crafty bits for whatever arty thing she was working on.

So. Today has been sleeves rolled up and get on with it. Have dumped three large bin bags full of junk in our biffa bin and reorganised everything into clear storage boxes of various sizes. Feeling v.v.v.v organised, lol. Reckon it'll be at least, oooh, three or four days before it descends into chaos again.

Meanwhile, Emily's been playing with various bits of stock which were discovered in odd places during The Tidy Up and were no longer in saleable state, including this, this and this - she likes it when we have a clear out as there's invariably goodies at the end of it, lol.

We had to dash out at lunchtime as we'd managed to completely run out of cat litter without noticing. Got two enormous bags in the trolley at Pets At Home...and of course one split completely as I was lifting it up to be scanned at the till. Cat litter everywhere. Still, we did get some more toys for the cats (can never resist) and seriously eyed up - again - the enormous cat play centre thingies they had. Now the playroom is clearer, we could move a chest of drawers from the sitting room and might just have room for one in front of the's very tempting....especially with Juliet doing her caged lion impresson again and both kittens still knocking over piles of books and climbing over piles of stock. Found Romeo chewing the end of a very expensive wand yesterday, grrrrr.

In other news, we've signed up for various courses in Lincoln for home educated kids, starting with five weeks of a computer course. Emily's extremely computer literate already, but I gather they're going to tailor the lessons to people's abilities, so, we shall see. Evidently after Christmas there will also be courses in meditation, Spanish (might give that one a miss though - I really don't like the spanish language, I feel it's the ugliest of all the ones I speak, and might just serve to confuse Emily's grasp of Italian), and history (yay! right up our street) among other things, so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Have also booked Emily and Jonathan into a "finds processing" day in December at Scunthorpe museum, where they get to clean up and help catalogue some of the finds from the summer's fieldwalking activities.

Still have a fair bit of tidying up to do (why is that tidying always makes the place look worse before it looks better???) but we've taken a break to play a few rounds of Hnefatafl - won a lovely set from ebay months ago, with carved wooden pieces and linen playing mat, but forgot all about it. Something else unearthed during today's tidy up! It's proving very addictive, and Emily's got a real knack for the strategy of it. It's somewhat embarrassing when you're consistently beaten by a six year old...

Monday, October 24, 2005

There's A Viking In My Bed!

Love that story. Emily's been listening to the tapes in the car today - I'd never heard it properly before, although I do remember it being on TV a few years back - when Emily was too young to care, typical! Come to think of it, there are lots of programmes I remember either from when I was a child, or from when Emily was younger, which don't seem to be on anymore and that I do wish they'd repeat instead of some of the, um, questionable entertainment that's on "these days". Sigh. I'm starting to sound old now!! Why, in my day....

Had a lovely afternoon today visiting another home ed family. We'd met them briefly at a party nearly a year ago, but it was good to see them again. Emily enjoyed playing with their two utterly charming children S & E; hopefully we can meet up again sometime soon.

Have come home to a mountain of queries from customers whose parcels royal mail have managed to (surprise, surprise!) lose - not good - and an extremely tidy house :-)))) - now that bit's good. Whenever we "pop out" for a couple of hours, Jon seems to step into a tardis and accomplishes three day's worth of "stuff" in that short space of time, lol. Wish I had that skill! Now all we need to do is not breathe, play, cook, change clothes or unpack any stock, ever again, and the house might actually stay looking like this!