Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pretty As A Picture

Jon took Emily to have her hair cut this morning and she came back with this beautiful chin length bob!
She suddenly decided a couple of days ago that she wanted it done because she was fed up with lying on her hair when reading. She adores her new style and we love it too, she looks so grown up! She's never had hair this short before, the shortest it's ever been is shoulder length. She brought a 7 inch long swirl of cut off hair :-))

It's been a very good few days for Emily, work-wise. She's returned to her Romans project and looked indepth at Roman towns, the major types of buildings and how the towns were laid out. She also designed her own Roman town from scratch, marking out a grid street system and placing the forum, shops, houses, baths, temples, aqueducts, town gates and so on.

Emily has also been working on Roman religion and has predictably enough been very interested in the mythology and the Gods and Goddesses. We found this "God Checker" site, which was very useful and a lot of fun too. As well as reading her roman myths book and working out the family tree of the Gods, Emily has made cards for each of them with their picture, major information about them such as what they're God/Goddess of (obviously), their symbols, what they're usually shown carrying, whether anything is named after them and so on, plus who they're related to and who their equivalent, if any, would be in Greek and Egyptian deities.

Emily's also been working hard on maths whizz and doing lots of reading. At the moment she's re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with great glee. She and Daddy have just finished reading Witch Child too. We're looking forward to Imbolc/Brigid tomorrow and Friday as we've got lots planned for that. We now have a seasons/festival tree, which is a huge branch from our red tree in the garden and we'll keep it decorated with different things throughout the year depending on the seasons and festivals.

On Tuesday night at yoga Emily found out what she has to do for her final yoga bugs test which is coming up shortly, I think it's the next but one. She has to write and perform an imaginative story featuring 30 different yoga poses that flow properly in vinyassa style, and she also has to write the class warm up and wind down visualisation/meditation to go with it too. That's going to be quite a challenge! Yoga's starting to get a lot harder now - for her next test she has some difficult poses to do including Crow and headstand. During Tuesday's class they did auditions for the play they're going to do on 31st March.

On Monday night Jon went off to his regular psychic circle meeting and has now finally agreed to go on some mediumship/psychic development courses. There's one coming up in Scarborough soon....

Oh yes, and on the spur of the moment, we've bought a laptop. It'll really help with Emily being able to have internet access downstairs (it's hard all round for her to "work" online up here because our and her computers are next to each other in the study and she and Daddy manage to distract each other all the time!) and it'll also mean that I can get work done whilst I'm waiting around at her classes and stuff.

When Merlin was weighed by the vet on Monday, he'd gone from 5.2 pounds to 5.8 pounds just in that week, which was the week he started the raw food diet. That's an increase of 10% body weight and the first weight increase in over a year now, so that's fabulous news. Plus he's looking a much happier cat too :-)))

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Merlin's Altar

Sadly, it's looking increasingly likely that our much loved Merlin won't be with us for very much longer :-(((

This morning at 5am when he got up, Jon found Merlin downstairs shaking with each breath. He thought he was dying before his eyes :-( After a cuddle, Merlin recovered from that, but he's quite weak now and I've noticed him making a bubbly, rumbling kind of noise each time he starts to purr, about four or five strange noises before the purr sets in. Although the vet said there was nothing wrong with his heart or lungs, you have to wonder.

So: this morning we had to spell it out to Emily that we don't think Merlin has all that long left to live. It's one of those things that (to an adult) is probably fairly obvious, but we weren't sure that Emily realised it - and she hadn't. Much tears from all of us, and a distraught little girl :-( Made us feel awful, but we didn't want to pretend it wasn't happening and then have it be a shock when the time does come. Now she knows, she can take extra time with him and we can gently discuss every so often what we believe will happen to his spirit when Merlin dies. Once the tears had settled, Emily went off to her computer and gathered together loads of photos of Merlin, which she arranged on a beautiful card for him.

Yesterday we finally cleared off a table in the dining room which had been full of arty crafty stuff (now neatly put away) and we said we'd use it as our pagan/seasonal altar - this morning Emily decided it should be Merlin's altar. She found the cards she's made for him recently and some special ornaments that are associated with him, and she arranged these and the new card on the altar, so she can focus her energy to try to help heal him. He was very impressed ;-) and had a good sniff around it all.

Here's Emily giving Merlin a vitamin tablet this afternoon:
When she came back from ballet this afternoon, Emily set about making some clay figures to add to the altar and some more lovely arty crafty things to celebrate Merlin. I think she feels better with a focused place to put things, so I'm really glad she had that idea.

I don't know - maybe Merlin will surprise us all yet and fight back. It would be so wonderful if he does. But. He's not putting on any weight at all, his fur's not growing back, he doesn't want to go outside and now his breathing seems to be an issue. He doesn't seem to be in any pain (and if he was, we would consider euthanasia) but nor does he seem to be making any progress. This time last week he seemed so unhappy with his one-food-only diet that Jon and I had a lengthy chat about it and decided to go completely against the vet's advice/instructions. It's not in my nature to contradict experts - I guess I'm rather naive that way - but it was painfully clear that even following this horrible diet Merlin wasn't going to be living an extra five years or anything like that. He was clearly depressed and not showing any signs of improvement and he was also clearly upset that he wasn't allowed what the other three cats were eating. Just like I suppose a human would be thoroughly miserable if they'd only been allowed one food for the previous three weeks.

So we decided that since we feel Merlin doesn't have all that long left, we weren't prepared to make his last few weeks/months/whatever miserable with a diet that wasn't really going to make much difference. Jon did a lot of research into the raw food diet for cats and pretty much that's what we're doing now. Merlin's eating (and seeming to really enjoy) raw chicken, raw liver, raw oily fish etc as well as the vet's food and as a result he does seem much happier in himself. We're not giving him anything processed at all so whatever sparked off this bloody digestive disease can't be doing him any more harm since he's never had raw stuff before. He purrs away now and show s a real interest in what he's eating, which is a huge improvement. He's due back at the vets on Monday. I daresay he still won't have put on any weight, and I daresay we'll be "in trouble" for having chosen this route, but we're doing what we feel is right for Merlin.

Today after ballet we said goodbye to Kate and her Mum who are leaving for Poland on Monday, possibly for up to four months. We were very sorry to see them go and they were both in tears, so that was a bit traumatic too :-/ Emily had made Kate a beautiful card; she drew both of them holding hands in gorgeous dresses, with Kate holding the Polish flag and Emily holding the Union Jack. We'll miss them, but we'll be writing, emailing and phoning, so I'm sure the time will pass soon enough. They'll definitely be back by the time summer arrives, so the girls are looking forward to long days spent in paddling pools!

Yesterday evening at ballet I had a long chat with Kayleigh's mum too. We haven't seen that much of Kayleigh this month since her Dad's been bringing her to ballet and he whisks her off as soon as it's finished, but we've set up some dates for the girls to play now. Trish was telling me all about Ireland too - they regularly go on holiday to Ireland and have really whet our appetites, so we're hoping to hire a cottage there sometime this year. Together with two trips to St Bees, our London holiday to see the Tutankhamun Exhibition and other assorted sights in October, a possible trip to Poland and several 2-3 day trips planned to places like West Midlands Safari Park, it looks as if we'll be travelling more than usual this year, so that's all good :-)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let There Be Light

Emily's enjoying our light topic a lot, I think. Yesterday we spent all day working on that, apart from Emily's maths whizz session in the morning. Before lunch, we looked at mirrors and how they can be used to control/direct rays of light. We borrowed Gramps' laser pointer and set up mirrors to bounce it around the dining room, then we dragged a very busy Daddy away from his desk to come and assist with bouncing a torch beam from the mirror in the hall all the way around the room and up the stairs in the corner. Lots of fun!

In the afternoon, we spent some more time looking at light and colour. Emily experimented with colour filters and a torch - she found several brightly coloured objects, darkened the room and tried looking at them with different filters applied to the torch, and discovered that when using the red filter, for instance, the other objects virtually disappeared. She understands that this is because the red object appears red to us because it's reflecting red light and absorbing the other colours - so it's looks fine through a red filter, but the other objects are absorbing red light, not reflecting is, so they appear black. We spoke at length about how a filter only allows light of that colour to pass through it, and experimented with shining a torch through different pairs of filters in turn to prove that a blue filter gives a blue dot of light but that blue dot of light can't pass through a red filter onto the white paper. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Then for fun, Emily went off with the filters and her camera and took lots of photos around the house and garden. When she has time she wants to set up a still life group of objects and photograph them with different filter combinations before putting them together in a sort of pop art montage.
Yesterday evening was yoga, and Emily came out with some exciting news - at Easter, her group is putting on a yoga play. Apparently they've all got lots of lines to learn and complicated vinyassas to perform. :-))

This morning we were due at the opticians at 9am but we woke up and saw "the snow" and changed our minds - there wasn't much of it, after all, and it would have been a waste not to play in before it vanished ;-) Here's Emily, Romeo and Juliet enjoying what little of it there was. It was all gone by mid afternoon! The big cats were too sensible to go out in it ;-)

We didn't have time for work this afternoon, as we were making scrummy wholemeal jam buns in time for Kate and her Mum to arrive for tea and a play. Emily and Kate played shops, did lots of drawing and dancing and generally had a lovely time. Margaret took video of a lot of their giggling - they're leaving for Poland on Monday and may not be back until June, and since Kate's sad at leaving Emily behind, we thought some video would be a nice idea for her to take with her. Can't wait until they get back! Margaret and I had a long chat and I brought her and Kate's natal charts up on screen for her to have a look at too.

Also today, I finished the educational report I was going to send to the LEA following their super polite letter in November - we decided that we'd send them one even though they pointed out they knew it was entirely voluntary, as we'd like to maintain the good (i.e. they leave us alone, lol) relationship we now seem to have with them. It's 16 pages long........but then, when I went to write the covering letter, I found that I've lost their original letter so I don't have the contact information anyway! Still, it was interesting to write :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Good Start to the Week

Today's been really nice :-)

Got up at a reasonable (ish) time this morning and Emily did some maths whizz without fuss or complaint, which was a good start. After breakfast she came up with one of her infamous "what if" pretend plays, so we spent half an hour play acting what might have happened if Harry Potter had actually been Lily's son with Remus Lupin (don't ask) instead of James Potter, and and how that may have changed the story. Apart from being highly bizzarre and really rather funny, I thought it was an endearing way to mark "literature appreciation/understanding" off for a few days, anyway!

Downstairs we got back into our science work on light. Emily read about refraction and diffusion and tried some experiments with a pencil in a glass of water, and using a torch and prism to create a spectrum. We used a torch through a glass of water to the same effect too. She's done this various times before, years ago, but it didn't really sink in then. Today I think it did, and she was able to explain to me confidently about white light rays splitting into spectrum colours because of the different colour rays being refracted at different angles. Did some nice diagrams of it too. We also spoke about how come we see colours, i.e. different objects absorbing all but the green (or whatever) light and reflecting that back to us so that we see it green. Emily found that harder to grasp, but it is a fairly tricky concept. I think she understood *what* happens, but she wants to know *why* everything happens, which is a lot harder.

This afternoon, we started our work on rivers. Emily used her globe and atlas to look up some of the world's most famous rivers, their sources and which sea or ocean they flow into. We also traced the route of the Trent (since it's our nearest major river), looking on various maps to find the source and it's eventual connection with the Ouse forming the Humber. We have loads of river stuff planned including lots of experiments, so that should be good.

Time then to get ready to go out - we went to meet friends at Cheeky Chimps, a big soft play centre near here. There were three parties going on and it was absolutely packed, you could hardly hear yourself think - but Emily had a fabulous time for several hours. It highlighted to me how she's growing up. We haven't been to a soft play centre for quite a while and normally we used to go during school hours so they were pretty deserted. Once 4pm arrived and it started to get busy, we'd normally leave as Emily hated these kinds of places when they were full and even when they were empty she'd be back at the table for some reason or other every ten minutes or so. Today though she wasn't bothered in the slightest. From the time we arrived until the time we left, the only time we saw Maisie and Emily was when the food arrived, since we'd decided the girls could have their tea there too. It gave me and Janette time for a long, uninterrupted chat and she made me feel tons better about recent events too, so it was a lovely few hours.

No snow as yet. Jon's gone off to his psychic circle tonight; once he's driven back safely from that I hope it snows like mad. Unlikely, I know, but we live in hope. I don't have to drive anywhere tomorrow (apart from yoga) so it'd be nice to have a day in the snow.

Business wise, it was a less great day, since our franking machine finally gave up the ghost this morning and wouldn't allow itself to be refilled down the phone line as it had reached it's maximum use. We've got to get a new one, but that'll take five working days. Good job the local village post office knows us well, since we'll now be dumping approx a hundred packages a day on them to be weighed and franked instead of doing it here. We ought to get a daily collection from here sorted out really, since we're way over the threshold for a free collection in terms of volume and value.

Still, that little blip aside, it's been a really good day and a positive start to the week. Off to watch project catwalk with Emily now.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rest of the Week

Hmmm, well, it's been a funny old week. Haven't really achieved very much at all, due to a combination of bad moods/depression (mostly mine), colds and sniffles (mostly Emily's) and business chaos. I really can't remember what happened on Wednesday, which is probably a good thing since it certainly wasn't very educational.

Thursday Emily was poorly all day, so she missed tai chi for the second week running. She'd perked up a bit by the afternoon and we were all set to go off to the first drama lesson of the term, but then the wind blew up a right storm here as just about everywhere else, so it seems. With TV aerials and chimney pots blown down from three houses just next to us and Emily almost unable to stand up outdoors, I didn't fancy the drive plus the hour's wait in a carpark dominated by an extremely tall and not very thick tree :-/ So, call me a wimp, but we gave drama a miss. I did like listening to the wind, though. So much more refreshing and alive than blue skies and silence.

On Friday morning I was extremely upset about various issues so I went back to bed and slept all morning - something I hardly ever, ever do, so it must have been bad. Well, that's my excuse anyway! At lunchtime Emily and I set off to Grimsby to see the Shakespeare for Kids performance of Midsummer Night's Dream, which Emily enjoyed a lot. I wasn't that keen - it was certainly very funny, but rather TOO funny - the original play may have been a comedy but it wasn't a flippin' pantomime. Think they rather overdid it there, especially with Pyramus' death. Much preferred last year's Romeo and Juliet which had half the audience in tears by the end of it. Then again, perhaps having been in an extremely grumpy mood all day didn't exactly endear it to me.

Today we've been off to ballet and tap, and Emily and I have spent most of the afternoon working together (note cunning use of the word working there) on the Harry Potter/Azkaban PC game where we both keep getting stuck. Hey, it's IT skills, isn't it???? Jon and I have actually got sooooo much work to do, but we're both feeling the pressure at the moment and unsure where to start. Here's to a better week next week. We've got a rescheduled soft play centre visit with friends to look forward, and another friend coming to tea/play mid week, plus various appointments including Emily to the opticians, plus all her classes, plus potentially, so I understand, some SNOW SNOW SNOW perhaps it will be better. I'm sure it will.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cityscape & Shadows

Set the alarm clock this morning and got up at a halfway decent time, which made a big difference to the day. Emily was pleased because it gave us time to do some Harry Potter pretends straight after breakfast ;-) and I was pleased because it made me feel slightly more human and less like an irresponsible layabout.

And the day did indeed progress rather well. If you don't count the major meltdown first thing this morning because Emily's maths programme asked her to do something horrifically complicated and clearly well beyond her abilities..... 300-2.... I mean, how unreasonable!!! Rolls eyes. She lazily entered a wrong answer to begin with, got it wrong, and promptly burst into tears claiming she couldn't do it. Couldn't do 300-2. Okkkaaay. Now if she really couldn't do 300-2 that wouldn't be a problem. But since I know darn well she has the ability to do it standing on her head whilst singing the Grand old Duke of York backwards, I was rather cross with this morning's little scene. Fortunately, Daddy intervened with a dose of humour before the customary mother-daughter maths war broke out. Order and harmony was restored, and suffice it to say that after much giggling I don't think Emily's going to forget what 9x9 is in a hurry.

Ahem. So after that, it was back to a good day's work. This morning Emily settled down into her Light and Sound science topic, with various experiments on shadows and what the behaviour of shadows proves about light travelling in straight lines. She did some great diagrams and made notes; over the next few days we'll be looking at prisms, spectrums and colours, using mirrors to bounce light around corners, using coloured filters with the camera, looking at refraction in water and so on.

This afternoon, we gathered together piles of junk and Emily created a cityscape with them, which she then photographed with her new camera and loaded into paint shop pro, where she was able to cut the cityscape from the room background, paste it in as a new layer over a sunset photo she found on google, and darken it up to look like a silhouette. She also played about with the contrasts to create a bright alien looking cityscape too.

So this:
became these:

Emily found it quite hard to get the lasso tool to follow the edges perfectly but the slightly ragged edges make the silhouette look a bit like a ruined city, so we liked that effect.

Anyway, having mastered the cut portion of image away from background and superimpose somewhere else basics, Emily was keen to experiment with it, so she then went on to produce these two, the first of herself aged 5 at Normanby Hall with Cassie-cat superimposed at her feet, and the second of her head superimposed over Harry's - of course. Her head is a little bit too big in that one but she worked really hard to get the scales of the separate images right, which isn't easy when you're not overly familiar with percentages.
This evening Emily has been to yoga, where she and her friends Paige and Rhiannon had fun making up mirroring vinyassas, whatever they are. There was lots of laughter, so that was a successful end to the day. Oooh, and we've nearly paid off the second mortgage on our Animal World home, so we should be ready for expansion tomorrow. And one of the inhabitants gave us an apple the other day, so now we've got apple trees too. And a golden shovel (thanks Sarah!). Oooh the excitement!!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Does anyone out there play Carcassonne? We were given this Carcassonne: Big Box edition for Christmas and have only just got round to trying it out - my God!! Complicated or what?? Emily and I puzzled over it for several hours this afternoon and couldn't really get to grips with it at all. Is it just us? It's a shame because it looks really good, if only we could "get" it. :-//

We've had a good weekend and Monday. On Saturday it was ballet and tap; while Emily was in her lesson my friend Margaret (Kate's Mum) and I hot footed it back to her house to try and sort out an internet problem (well, that was the official reason, lol, it had nothing to do with cups of tea, biscuits and gossip). Sunday morning was karate for Emily. Poor love tripped whilst running to the car (we were running late) and badly cut her hand and grazed her knees and feet, putting holes in her karate suit trousers and blood all up the jacket :-((( She was very upset, but brave enough to change into something different and still make it to the lesson. Which was quite something considering how traumatised she gets at the sight of blood. I'm not sure the karate suit's ever going to be the same, mind you - think we might have to get a new one.

This afternoon we've been to Kate's house to play and for tea. Kate gave Emily a beautiful medieval figurine as a belated birthday present, as they'd noticed that Emily collects historical figures. Margaret started teaching me Polish today, which was, um, interesting! She, Kate and Mariusz are going back to Poland for four months at the end of January, so that Margaret can work out her notice in her old job before they come back here permanently. We'll miss them until they come back; they're such lovely, genunine people. Still, we'll see them a few times between now and then and the two girls will chat on the phone while they're away. They've very kindly invited us to Poland for a week but I don't know that we'll be able to go, due to pressures of work. We shall see.

This morning Emily spent more time on Maths Whizz, which is working very well for us. We also spent a lot of time deciding on what to do next in geography and science. After much deliberation, we've decided we're going to look at rivers in geography and light/sound in science. Much gathering of resources followed and we're keen to get started, although since we were going out to Kate's this afternoon we didn't actually, um, start. Tomorrow. Maybe!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Poetry & Paper

Better day today - some education actually took place!

This morning first thing Emily did half an hour on Maths Whizz, then she spent the rest of the morning reading some poetry and writing her own "opposites poem":

Jane likes cold things
things that freeze:
ice cubes melting
on a rough tongue

Tara likes hot things
things that burn:
flames licking
smouldering wood

Jane likes cold things
things all chilly:
icicles, stalagmites, ice rinks
cold wind on your face

Tara likes hot things
things all steamy:
fire, flames, warm, wet baths
plates of burnt toast

Jane says - glass
Tara says - candle
Jane says - ice
Tara says - sun

Jane says - ice skates
Tara says - flip flops
Jane says - water
Tara says - de-icer

Give me, says Tara
the flicker of an oil lamp
the heat of the stars
the desert in my palm

Give me, says Jane
the glide of a snowflake
the frost of a crystal
Antarctica in my palm

After lunch (and lots more animal crossing) Emily got out the Paper Fx kit she had for Christmas; she worked out how to use it very quickly and made a sample little coaster in no time:

She loved it and had soon demolished several old magazines wanting to make a bigger square in an abstract/random magazine paper style.
This second square looks really good, will photo it when I get time. I'm actually rather impressed with this kit. All to often these craft type kits end up being a big disappointment, but this one does seem to do what it says it will. Obviously you can weave paper without this kit, but it's a nice set of tools and Emily's really enjoyed using it. She's going to make a handbag and a few boxes next.

This evening was the start of the extra Friday tap lessons ready for the exam in March, so we've been to that. Emily had a great play with Kate, who she hadn't seen since before Christmas, and we set up various playdates etc between now and the end of January. Had to get a lift there and back with Gramps, because our car went off the garage today for its £700 worth of work....they failed to get it all done in the day and so they're bringing it back sometime tomorrow morning. They'd better not bet late, since it's ballet again in the morning.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Still Not Back to Normal in still not achieving much education-wise. Or maybe that is normal for us. Now there's a worry.

Yesterday Emily completed some lessons on Maths Whizz, which I'm starting to like rather a lot. We spent the rest of the day on a massive tidy up of her room, moving the big dolls house out (which meant I had to tidy the place it was moved to as well, which was no small feat) and moving some other toys back in, putting up her Harry Potter posters and generally trying to make sure things are accessible and in some kind of order. Ho ho ho. That'll last.

Today Emily's had a day off (what, already?? 'fraid so) because Jon and I have had to do some manic work catch up and I had a deadline sprung on me at very short notice. Jon and Emily didn't go to tai chi this morning because neither felt well enough. I'm not quite sure what Emily's been doing all day, to be honest, as I've hardly seen her. But she's very smiley so I'm sure it was something nice :-//

I'm still determined to get back to some serious education, but things keep cropping up that are taking up our time. We have a whole new round of hospital/doctor/nurse appointments to look forward to for Grandad, and Emily also has appointments at the dentist and optician; next week we're going to Grimsby to see a Shakespeare for Kidz performance and we're also meeting friends at a soft play centre....when you take all this on top of Emily's various classes etc it's just too much. There's very little time in the middle to actually DO stuff. Will have to get seriously organised. And up earlier. Lots earlier.

On a more positive note - We now have a shovel!!!!

Well, to be precise, we have TWO shovels on animal crossing wild world. How exciting is that???? If you, dear reader, are not finding it exciting then I can only suppose you' actually have a life, shame on you. So, shovel in little hand, our little characters have been busy planting things and digging up fossils and weird robot things the name of which I forget and, oooh, all sorts. Even Jon now has a character too and is busy helping us pay off the mortgage. Which, since he has precisely zero minus 20 minutes of free time each day says something about the addictiveness of the darn thing.

Me to Jon this morning when he paused for breath in the middle of something business related: "Go and play game. We' ve still go 75,000 bells of mortgage to pay off!" We have to get our priorities right. We have debts in real life of course.....but hey, paying them off is nowhere near as much fun :-)))

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Getting Somewhere with Maths

Two posts in one day. You'd never know I have work to be doing ;-)

Well today Emily and I *did* get back to work, albeit horribly late in the morning having failed to wake up early yet again. Emily did the online maths assessment at Whizz Maths and in doing so set my mind hugely at rest. Turns out she has an average "maths age" of 8.8 years, with some areas such as fractions being 9.75 years. So, we must be getting somewhere after all then, despite the tears and the tantrums (from me) and the obstinate refusal to understand that the two times table is not the most excruciating form of torture known to mankind (from Emily).

Mind you, it said the assessment would take 30-40 minutes and it took Emily well over an hour - think that's to do with the flippin times tables again. She's perfectly capable of working out 6x4, 3x9, 5x8 blah blah, but that's exactly what she insists on doing - working it out. Which of course takes so much longer than just knowing it. Bizarrely, she'd rather spend ages painfully working out a times table sum each time she needs it than spend a little time actually learning and remembering the damn things. Oh well.

We spent the rest of the day practising yoga ready for Emily's test this evening, and we also played 29 rounds of Get a Letter, which Emily won by 18 to 11 :-//

Of course we also had a little foray into Animal Crossing Wild World ;-) Well, you have to, don't you? Still no shovel :-(( I'm starting to get a bit cross about that now. Sarah, thanks muchly for your advice. Unfortunately I can't get the wireless thingy working either at the moment, so I'm a bit stuck. I went through the set up procedure and it successfully "found" our BT Voyager wireless thingy, but then said it couldn't connect via it. If the shovel still hasn't appeared by this time next week then I think we'll have to scrap the game and start from scratch and hope it turns up next time, otherwise we'll just get increasingly fed up not being able to grow anything or dig up fossils and stuff. Did build another snowman though - and this one wasn't perfect either, lol. It's quite scarily addictive, that game!

Right, well, back to the real world. I've just accidentally marked 30 odd items as despatched on ebay without having printed them off first, so now I've got no idea what was due for despatch on there today and will have to trawl through the records in the hope of catching everything. Oh joy.

Tagged by Elle :-)

6 Weird Things About Me


Each player of this game starts with the "six weird things about you" blog post. People who get tagged need to write their own six weird things post and state the rules clearly. At the end of the post tag six more people and don’t forget to leave a comment on their blog to tell them they have been tagged and tell them to read your blog.


1. I don't wear make up. Ever. I don't even own any make up. I absolutely loathe make up and I really dislike seeing people wearing it. Just can't see the point, unless there's a specific, important reason such as being on stage or covering a birth mark. I must have worn it perhaps twice or three times in my late teens before deciding never again. I did bow to pressure of "the done thing" and wore make up on my wedding day though, and neither looked nor felt like me. Mind you I don't get the whole "girly thing" anyway. I prefer male company to female any day and I simply don't do girly chats, girly shopping, girly gossip, girly celebrity fandom or girly anything else. Can't stand clothes shopping and I only own two pairs of shoes, and one handbag which I never use.

2. I have a telephone phobia and go to great lengths to avoid speaking to people on the phone unless I absolutely, seriously have to. Needless to say that our mobile phone, although we do own one, only comes out of its hidey hole when we're away on holiday. I don't know its number, never carry it with me and have no idea even how to retrieve messages from it let alone use it "properly".

3. I'm a professionally qualified astrologer. Which, although I don't find it very weird, apparently makes me extremely weird not to mention stupid because *of course* I *fully* believe that if you're a Virgo you shouldn't go out with a Gemini, that all Aries people love dangerous sports, that all Scorpios are sex maniacs and that every Sagittarius in the world will meet a tall dark handsome stranger at work next Thursday. Sigh. I have no issue with people dismissing astrology, in the same way as I dismiss other things - I just wish people would inform themselves about the difference between sun sign rubbish and proper astrology *before* being rude to me about my chosen profession.

4. I would love to study wicca and witchcraft. Despite being outwardly quite a respectable, "middle class" person, I'm a witch at heart and I'm drawn very strongly towards that area. One day, I'll find the time to follow up on that particular dream.

5. I don't like summer! I'm sure that's not *that* weird and there must be plenty of other people who don't either, I just haven't met any of them. I love the rain, wind, thunder, lightning, hail, sleet, mist, fog and snow. I love dark mornings and dark evenings. I find blue skies and sunshine boring and irritating if it lasts longer than a week at tops.

6. Back in the dim and distant days when I had to work for other people, I had quite a habit of walking out of jobs. I think I've walked out of at least four good, well paying jobs in total, each time not having another job to go to. That makes me either a) very irresponsible with money and completely devoid of staying power or b) a bit of a free spirit who just had to call "enough" on a succession of jobs that weren't letting me be me. I know which interpretation I prefer ;-) Fortunately, now self employed, this isn't a habit I have to face up to any more!

People I'd like to tag to do this - um, I don't really know many other people in blog land. I'd say Elderfairy, Kris at Mud & Mischief (although I suspect she and bump have other things to do just now!!), Sarah, Dani and Allie at Green House by the Sea and Alison, although I can't seem to get to any blogs at the moment to see if any of you have already done it and/or to leave anything in the comments box!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yellow Belt! And A Snowman.....

Emily's karate lessons started back yesterday; normally Jon takes her but yesterday I went along too to see Emily being given her new yellow belt and certificate :-)) I thought the belts were solid coloured but apparently junior belts are supposed to be white with a coloured strip instead. Who knew? Anyway, she's exceedingly chuffed and we're very proud :-))

The rest of the weekend passed in a blur of coughing, sneezing, feeling woozy (especially Jon who now has this cold v.v.v.v.v bad, bless him), writing to deadlines and generally trying to earn some money. Emily decided to completely tidy her room and single handedly cleared the two long high shelves that run the length of her room and were full of, well, miscellaneous stuff, some of it left over from when she was much younger...there were even packets of nappy wipes and nappy cream up there untouched for about six years. Hangs head in shame :-///// Anyway, she did a fantastic job of clearing it all and dumping what needed dumping and transformed the shelves into extensions of her ornament shelves. I'm setting her to work on our bedroom next, lol.

This morning Merlin went back to the vet for a checkup. He's doing remarkably well but had gone off his prescription diet this last few days and since he's not allowed anything else, he'd lost more weight. Result, as far as he's concerned....since the vet has now allowed him fresh chicken in a bid to get the weight back on. Canny cat. He knows what he's doing, that one. His pills are no longer a problem thanks to a natty little syringe type thingy that shoots them down his throat with water. It's not dignified and I'm sure it's not all that much fun either, but it sure beats his woeful look when every food plate of the day had to have medication hidden in it.

Today Emily and I were supposed to get back to work. Ho Ho Ho. We didn't get up until nearly 9.30 I'm afraid. We did one page of fractions and um, that was about it. She's gone off to Lincoln now with my Mum and Dad. Perhaps we'll start back properly *tomorrow* - and I think I'm going to have to set the flippin alarm clock.

And the snowman? Well yes, we've built one.... in Animal Crossing, lol. Although he hasn't given us anything. Yet. We're waiting with bated breath. Sarah, if you read this, could I ask you a couple of questions? Thank you!

a) We *still* haven't been able to buy a shovel, although the shop has upgraded and several new residents have moved in - surely we should have been able to get one by now?

b) Does Redd visit every week or just some weeks? Emily was asked by Lyle what day she wanted him to come and she chose Mondays....but he's not there today. It says in the user guide he comes a random day of the week - is that the same day every week or not then?

c) I annoyed Limberg last night because he wanted to come and visit me; I gave him a time but then completely forgot about it and now he won't speak to me. What do I do to make amends?

(and yes, it's got me hooked, never mind Emily!)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Distinction :-))) the grade Emily received in her ballet exam, so we discovered today at the lesson. Cue extremely excited 8 year old and hugely proud parents :-))

Seeking a Return to Normality

Here we are, already at the 6th January. We need to get back to "normal", whatever that is - life seemed to go on hold a bit in the run up to Christmas and Emily's birthday. We need to get Emily's education back on a more structured basis and we desperately need to get back in gear workwise ourselves too - this latter urgency having been brought sharply into focus by an unexpected £700 car bill this week :-//

The Christmas decorations are down now and so are Emily's birthday decorations apart from her secret cave bit. This morning we're back to ballet for the first lesson of the year, so I guess normal life is catching up after all. I've had a very heavy cold for the last few days and I think Jon's about due for it. Emily, surprisingly, is showing no signs of the dreaded lurgy - yet.

We still haven't yet done the ritual early January "move piles of Christmas and birthday presents off the floor and into piles in a cupboard"; daresay we might get round to that this weekend inbetween deadlines. Emily's spent the last couple of days in play heaven - between us we've played tons of board games, she's played like mad with Harry Potter stuff and has Nintendo'd a LOT. She's playing Animal Crossing Wild World now; well, we both are since I'm her roomate. She seems to like it a lot, although I must confess I'm getting rather fed up with it since a) we need a shovel and there's never one in the shop to buy and b) Emily's just "had to" buy insurance from "Lyle" as no matter how many times she said no she couldn't get out of the conversation and c) it seems to be completely the wrong time of year for catching bugs etc. I daresay it will grow on me.

I did have a whole set of educational goals in my head for 2007, but I've forgotten most of them - bodes well, doesn't it?! I know this time last year we were worried about Emily's social life, or lack of it at that time. A year on and that's absolutely not a problem - well, possibly it is, but at the the opposite extreme. She's now doing so much "stuff" that it seems *too* much. She has ballet twice a week, yoga, tai chi, drama and karate, so that's out six times a week, plus come February when football starts again that'll turn into out seven times a week, plus we're supposed to fit riding in there too. For someone like me who would be more than happy to hibernate here indefinitely, the social interaction is a bit too high on the scale, lol. Still, she's happy, which is what counts. She's made some lovely friends at these activities, it's just a shame they're all at school.

Academic work-wise, we need some structure. Which I must have said several dozen times over the last 18 months, and which we're still sorely lacking. Last year Emily completed two BIG projects, on the "Human Body" and on "Weather" and a mini project on the Titanic. I really want to get away from the project based thing, though, as I don't think it's working very well for us any more. We need to do lots more science and lots more craft. we need to solidify the maths. We need to move on with IT applications. Emily wants to write tons more poetry to go with the tons she wrote last year. I want to build in some "reading time" into the days since I'm concerned that with so much else going on Emily recently only seems find time to read in the car. Oh, we need to do all sorts of stuff. And I wanted to write a summary for the LEA in response to the friendly-and-surprisingly-legally-correct letter they sent us a while ago asking if we'd care to update them on Emily's educational provision.

We need a timetable that isn't a timetable. Have no hope in hell of actually sticking to one, but something to aim at would be helpful. And we need to make the most of Mondays (temporarily) and Wednesdays, which are the only days not interrupted half way through the afternoon by going out somewhere. Gosh, that's a lot of need to. Better get thinking cap on, as it's back to work for us on Monday.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

When Emily Went to Hogwarts

Well, she's been and gone and done it now - Emily was 8 years old on the 2nd January :-))))

All's Quiet in Hogwarts....the night before the morning to come!

Emily says her birthday was "beyond words", which was a lovely thing to say. I've just spent the last hour trying to work out how to use flickr as I wanted to have one of those lovely badge things "everyone else" has with all our photos on it, but I've given up now, so I'll have to do it the old fashioned way and spend hours sorting through photos to choose some to put here instead!

Anyways. Emily's birthday was a real family affair. On New Year's Day, Gramps and I spent hours transforming our big dining room into Hogwarts Castle using rolls of castle wall background, starry night background and forbidden forest background. Meanwhile, Nana was baking Emily's birthday cake and making Harry Potter birthday crackers. When Emily woke up on Tuesday morning, she found a helium balloon being delivered by her cuddly Hedwig who was also carrying a scroll, which was an invitation to spend her 8th birthday in Hogwarts attending lessons in divination, charms, transfiguration, defence against the dark arts, potions, care of magical creatures, history of magic, herbology, astronomy and ancient runes before hosting a birthday feast. After uncountable hours of effort ;-) Jon and I had come up with a series of fun challenges for Emily to complete. Before she went to Hogwarts ;-) her first two surprise presents were a sorting hat - every new student needs sorting, after all! - and a proper black and gold Gryffindor robe. Then it was off to the castle!

Some of the challenges were very crystal maze like as Emily's a big fan of that, so she had word chains to make for transfiguration, for instance, and a stepping stones puzzle to complete before she could even enter the room. This was one stone which said "number of Hogwarts Houses....divided by 2" - the answer to which was obviously 2, so then she had a choice of four stones to go to in the next row which might be "number of Malfoy children....times 4", "number of books in the complete series....minus 3" and so on. She had to choose the stone where the first part equalled two, and then the sum part told her what number to look for in the next row and so on. I don't think I've explained that very well, but any crystal maze fans will probably know what I mean. All of Emily's presents from us were on a sofa at one end of the room which had been screened off with the floor to ceiling starry night/forest stuff. At the end of each challenge she got a magical Harry Potter coin and only when she had the right number of coins did she get a clue about where the pressies were - then she had to cut through the screen to get into the cave and find the pressies, lol.

She LOVED it and seemed completely thrilled to bits with the day from start to finish. We're leaving the decorations up for the next few days. After that, most of it will have to come down as it's obviously completely impractical to have all the furniture and books ungettattable, but we'll leave the settee at the end of the room in its secret cave for a while long.

Anyway, here are some piccies. You'll have to excuse me for posting lots and lots of them. Emily's tasks took a whole two hours before she found her presents, but she was having so much fun I think she'd have been happy to carry on all day!!

The Birthday Girl still in jim jams at breakfast time:

Very busy completing tasks in potions:

More tasks in Divination, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration and Ancient Runes:

But where are the presents? You don't mean THIS forbidden forest?

Yes, really! Scissors were required:

There they are!

It's a Nintendo DS!!

Opening a box of Harry Potter figures - all second hand as I couldn't find them new anywhere, but Emily didn't seem to mind:

More pressie opening delight:

Temporarily away from Hogwarts, more pressies in the afternoon, including a digital camera from Nana & Gramps and another webkinz pet from Aunty Barbara and Uncle David. Emily was certainly a very lucky girl this birthday!

Real Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans caused much amusement all day. Fortunately they came with an identification card - and yes, the vomit, earwax, earthworm etc flavours were indeed truly disgusting!!

Birthday cake - made by Nana, decorated by me - and Emily with her new camera during birthday tea:

Some of the lessons paperwork! I think the potions class was a present in itself as far as Emily was concerned. We had over 20 different ingredients and she loved that so much she's since spent hours making even more potions, never mind the three she "had" to make during "potions class"!

We all stayed up late last night playing Dragonology, which Grandad bought for Emily. Fabulous game, highly recommended, and a great end to a wonderful day.

Today, well, obviously, there's been lots more playing. Here's our fabulous eight year old in her secret den immersed in Goblet of Fire on her new Nintendo.

Happy 8th Year, Emily our Love. We're so proud of you!