Monday, October 22, 2007

Half Term Cinema

Continuing with my reckless disregard of the, oooh, twelve or so deadlines I have to meet before we can go away on holiday, Emily and I went off to the cinema again this morning. We saw Stardust, which was very entertaining and quite funny. I thought it was about half an hour too long, but Emily loved it, so that's what counts :-)

Mind you, I must have had a temporary brain slip and forgotten what a nightmare cinema during school holidays is. It was packed, complete with only one poor boy at the popcorn stand who had to issue all the actual tickets as well as deal with everyone's food purchases. Huuuge queues.

There are a lot of films coming up that Emily's dying to see; she's desperate to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age, plus Dark is Rising, plus The Golden Compass, plus Enchanted plus Nancy Drew, plus Mr Magorium's Magic Emporium, plus St Trinians, plus several more I can't remember! Looks like we'll be spending a while in the cinema between now and Christmas. We're hoping to get to see Elizabeth while we're away.

Speaking of away, we'll be going, as soon as possible (for which read: as soon as my deadlines are done) for as long as possible (for which read: as long as Jon's father will reluctantly and petulantly permit before he can manufacture an excuse which requires our presence back here). Jon's father isn't happy because I haven't yet made him his most recently demanded doctor's appointment, and might not get round to it until we get back. Mind you, the minute we get back I have to take him back to the diabetic clinic yet again, anyway. Which is what the doc appointment is also for, so he *really* doesn't need to do both but hey, everyone needs a hobby and it's not as if I have anything better to do. He can't see why we need a holiday in any case, since we apparently just sit around doing nothing all day every day. You have to laugh.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Therapeutic Art

Emily and I spent yesterday afternoon doing lots of encaustic art, which was quite healing and therapeutic.

Yesterday we also made roman egg custard and practiced some oracle card reading skills. Made a change from the normal Saturday of me being stuck at the computer - for the moment I've recklessly decided that deadlines can go to hell as I need some positive time out with my family.

On Thursday afternoon, when Emily and Jon came back from tai chi, we also spent a few hours colouring some beautiful mandalas from this book - that was very healing too; we both want to do more of that kind of thing. We can put some beautiful music on and shut out the stress of the day, just sitting quietly together colouring and chatting.

Our friends came round all day on Friday; I did some work on children's rights with Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine and in the afternoon I started teaching them the basics of Italian, which was fun. Much chatting and laughing was done both by the children and by me, Jon and Jackie, which again was healing.

It's just as well there are some positive things going on that I can cling to. I was greeted at 8 o clock this morning by my father in law demanding that I cut his toenails. Jon had already agreed to do this for him, but it wasn't done to his command yesterday, so he wanted to push the issue with me. I wasn't impressed. Jon did his father's toe nails before going out to karate with Emily this morning. I, however, spent most of yesterday evening and much of this morning so far in tears. The strain of the situation is beginning to show in arguments between Jon and I over what to do for the best. We are fortunately too strong together to allow my father in law's issues to undermine our marriage, but his nasty, vicious, spiteful attitude towards Jon and Jon's ever increasingly crumbling self-esteem and self confidence is breaking my heart.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Royal Mail's "Service"

I've just had to refund nearly £100 worth of sales to three customers who still haven't received their goods, all posted one or two days before the postal strike started, even though we're now ten days after the postal strikes officially ended. And that's only the customers who have now lost patience and are demanding refunds - I have at least a dozen more customers in the same boat who are still hanging on in there, whose patience I very, very much appreciate.

The customers demanding refunds are insisting that they're receiving "all the other" post as normal, and in various cases, insisting that their postman has told them the strike backlog was cleared within a day or two, therefore we must be a) lying about having sent it, b) be lying about having sent it or c) be lying about having sent it.

I also have a couple of customers who are way overdue paying for ebay items, but who state that their payment was posted around the same time as we sent those missing packages out. Their payments have not arrived here, but when you tell them so, they're irate, saying that we must have had the payment by now, "all the other sellers" they've paid have had theirs. Yeah. Right.

Why do people who are, presuambly, otherwise normal, intelligent, decent people have such a blind spot when it comes the the mail system in this country? Why on earth do they believe it's so brilliant? Why do they find it unbelievable that a packet could take this long to deliver? I'm sorry, but it can, and it all too frequently does.

I'm running out of patience here. With royal mail and random customers in equal measure, frankly. I'm still personally waiting for an item I bought on ebay which I'm assured was posted on the 2nd October. And I believe them, because I've seen at first hand how mind-bogglingly atrocious our postal service is. So I'll wait a goodly while longer yet before I'd even think about kicking up a fuss about it. I think maybe we should introduce a new rule - only sell to people who've actually worked in a business that relies on royal mail and therefore have the vaguest of clues about the real, disgraceful and dishonest state of our postal system. Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Moving Past the Negativity

(For non rant-ish normal, educational stuff, scroll down. There is some. Honest.)

Today I screamed blue murder at Emily, and I do mean screamed. What had she done? Nothing - I think she slammed a door running away from a wasp, that was all. Why did I react so badly and in such a disgraceful way? I was, at the time, so furious with something Jon's father was doing that I was almost bursting inside with anger. Emily's harmless action just came at the wrong time, and she bore the brunt of my fury since of course I can't say anything to him, because that would be nasty old Nikki picking on poor defenceless Grandad.

The way I screamed at Emily does indeed make me (for that moment) a very bad mother, but at least it served to teach me a lesson - that we, and especially I, desperately need to find a way to move past the negativity that living in this situation with his father brings. I did of course feel like complete crap for the way I'd reacted to Emily. She cried, I cried, we cuddled, I apologised and tried to explain, it all blew over quickly. But really, living like this is becoming so harmful to us as a family. Something has to change, and since he won't change, I guess it will have to be our attitudes that change.

Which stinks, frankly. We're doing absolutely everything we can for him and putting up with so much disrespect and emotional abuse in return - yet we are the ones that have to change. How does that work, exactly? But we'll have to find some strength from somewhere.

What provoked my fury this morning was that Jon's father went out into the garden and starting cutting down and uprooting a privet hedge. The hedge *is* due for removal, as we're doing something else with that part of the garden. However, Jon had said that he would deal with it himself **** in his own time **** which may well not be until after Christmas. So. This so-ill-can't-walk-for-newspaper man goes out into the garden and starts doing it. Deliberately. Naturally, he didn't finish doing it, because he's "too ill". So it's half done and looks a horrific mess. He knows this. That's why he's done it. He's done it so that Jon will not only feel obligated to go out and sort it all out, but that even if Jon doesn't jump to it smartish, he (father in law) can command Jon to go and do it **now**, because it looks so awful as it is.

My father in law never had any intention of finishing the job. He knew he wouldn't be able to when he started it. He knew exactly what he was doing. He does it all the time with mowing the lawn too. He tells Jon he wants the lawn mowed. Jon says OK, he'll get to in a few day's time. Then his father goes out and starts it himself, deliberately, and leaves it half done, so he can complain about it and get it done there and then. His whole life can be summed up with "he wants it and he wants it NOW". It's pure manipulative spite.

There was a thing in the newspaper this morning (yes, the one Jon had to go and get at the appointed time or else) about Wokingham in Berkshire being the best place in the country to live. Guess who grew up in Wokingham, from the age of 4 to 21 or so? Yep. To be honest I don't recall being that enamoured with the place at the time, lol, but looking back I liked it better than boring, ugly old Lincolnshire, that's for sure. And reading that just underlined, yet again, how trapped we are. We can't move away, anywhere - ***because father in law doesn't want to move*** because it's "too much hassle" and he would make our lives an utter misery before, during and after the process. And of course moving without him is absolutely 2000% out of the question. Apparently. How ridiculous is that?? OK, granted Emily wouldn't want to move away either as this is her home, it's all she's ever known and somehow, miraculously given the situation, she's very happy here. And for the time being, we would probably respect her wishes in that department. But that would be our *choice*. With the father in law situation, we don't HAVE a choice, so it seems, and that cuts like hell.

Anyway. I'm so wound up about all this that I constantly feel like I'm boiling inside. I'll have to change that, somehow, for Emily's sake if nothing else. So. Let's move on. Let's talk about the nice things that have happened in the last few days.

We've rediscovered a box of old books from my childhood, and found lots in there that we want to read together. At the moment, I'm reading Emily "The Story of the Amulet" by E Nesbit, which she's very much enjoying. She was enchanted by Five Children and It and also by The Phoenix and the Carpet, and I'd completely forgotten there was a third part to it! Found The Enchanted Castle, by the same author, in the box too, and I don't think I ever even read that one.

Ancient China study is continuing; we spent Monday afternoon learning about ancient Chinese philosophers, including Laozi/Daoism and Confucius. Emily drew up a chart comparing daoism/confucianism and we discussed a lot about the inherent wisdoms in the two philsophies/belief systems and how well or not they fit our lifestyle, which parts it would be helpful for us to embrace, what practical difficulties there are in following that kind lifestyle and so on. Very interesting.

On Tuesday morning we went with Hazel, Romy and Tansy to the cinema for a free schools showing of Bridge to Terabithia which we found an excellent, if very heart-rending film! I wasn't expecting it to be so emotional; sobbed lots! Emily really enjoyed it and we had some interesting discussions afterwards about how important imagination is and how fantastic (and healing) it can be to escape into a fantasy world. Since Emily spends so much time "in pretend", I think she's a bit of an expert on that, lol.

Emily's made two new friends this week, one at karate on Sunday and one in yoga on Tuesday evening. She also had her yoga test this week, which she passed with flying colours. I was helping in the lesson again and had half an ear in her direction during her test; was extremely proud to hear how impressed the teacher was with her knowlege and understanding of the various poses and their benefits. :-)))

Today, with my ear finally settling down, Emily and I went swimming. She did fantastically well; she's amazing me with how fluent she's become at swimming in such a short time. Once she decided, those couple of weeks ago, that she could "do it" after all, she's just taken off. It's like watching your little chick sprout wings :-))

Today was the day Voldemort and Severus finally learnt how to climb up on to Emily's high bed, too. They had an absolute ball up there. In her own kittenhood, Juliet claimed Emily's bed as her own, usurping our beloved Merlin who had priorly had sole claim to it (Cassie cat didn't "do" beds). It was quite poignant, therefore, but very funny too, to see Juliet's face when she realised her kingdom was no longer safe! To be fair, though, she did stay sleeping up there all afternoon, with the kibbies collapsing asleep up there in the end too - a respectable (and safe!) distance away from JuJu, of course! Here's handsome Severus staking his claim, whilst JuJu retreated huffily to the far corner, lol.

Also today, Emily's been going through a huuuuge box full of her old artwork, which was being prepared to go up in the loft. She must have sorted through hundreds of bits of paper, seperating out a few she was particularly fond of or which had special meaning for her, as she wants to keep those down. The box contents were some (just some!) of her artwork from around age 4 to 6, so she hadn't seen most of it for some time. It was a lovely if emotional (for me) experience.

We even found the two infamous pieces of art that were partially responsible for our decision to look into home ed in the first place: the beautiful multicoloured unicorn she drew for me and Daddy one day, only to have her b*tch of a teacher tell her that we'd be very cross with her for colouring it in such "silly" colours; and the lovely page of minibeast drawings she did for "homework" one night, only to then be terrified of actually showing it to the teacher the next day because she knew it would be belittled or ignored. She did actually refuse. among hysterical tears, to take it in to show the woman. That was a wake up call you just couldn't miss. I'm very fond of those two pieces of art. They symbolise the start of the journey we're on now, really. How far we've all come :-))

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another Long Rant

I'm sorry about the constant father in law issues going on on this blog. I'm going to keep documenting things on and off, however. When the last straw breaks the camel's back and we have to do something drastic, I want to be able to point people who will disapprove back at all this and tell them that if they're prepared to live with it, they're welcome to take him on - but that we've had enough.

Jon's father had been nagging for a dentist appointment. Yes, another one even though, yes, he only went a couple of weeks ago. So Jon made him an appointment, for Monday morning at 11.30. Yesterday in the post a health appointment Jon's been waiting for (for himself) finally came through. It clashed with his father's dentist appointment. Nevertheless, for reasons you'd only understand if you had to live here, Jon was prepared to cancel/move his own appointment to get his father to the dentist. So he went to tell him he'd made the appointment for 11.30. Cue almighty tantrum from father in law. He didn't want an appointment at 11.30. He eats his lunch at about 11am these days (?????) and it would inconvenience him to have to put it off until after the appointment. Was there a thank you anywhere in there, even a thank you but... don't be silly. There was just the normal huff, puff, sulk, tantrum, what did you make it then for you useless fool, you're trying to be difficult.....the usual crap.

So Jon moved his appointment all the way forward to the middle of November, which was the next available one. Is he happy with that? Is he hell. That's far too long to have to wait.

At least Jon gets to go to his own appointment. This is a rarity. Although somehow, now so sick of this man am I, that I feel that if Jon's father knew that by going to the dentist he would have stopped Jon going for an appointment, the 11.30 Monday would have suddenly seemed very attractive to him. Yes, he is that spiteful.

Jon went out before 7am yesterday to get his shopping for him. Not from our nearest supermarket, mind. Oh no, he won't have that. It has to be Tesco, which is quite a bit further away. Came back with shopping. Cue rant and rave. He hadn't got something which wasn't on the verbal list to begin with. He'd got the wrong brand of something. He'd bought something which was on special offer that he thought his father would like (he is under instructions to do this) - of course he didn't like, didn't want it and resented the fact that it had been bought. He didn't want to have to put his shopping away himself. And of course, it was much too late in the day and Jon should have gone earlier. Thank you, anyone? Of course not.

He used to go with Jon to get his shopping. Whilst this meant Jon had to be out of the door by 7am come hell or high water, and had to endure an hour of snide remarks into the bargain, at least then his father couldn't complain about what was bought. But now apparently he can't manage the walk from the disabled parking space into and around the shop. Oh, really? That's not what the hospital seemed to think.

The rest of the day for Jon was filled with random rants from his father, including one of his personal favourites about answering the door. We get quite a lot of deliveries, and his father takes it upon himself to answer the door, as his room is next to it. We've never, ever asked him to and would much prefer he didn't - he's not the sort of person you want "greeting" your guests or even being associated with you, frankly. But he does, even though he's been asked not to. And then he makes a point of coming to find Jon to complain about it, and just for good measure, to make snide remarks about how our business is run and how lazy Jon is.

And so we come to this morning. By 8am, Jon was already in trouble for not having been out to get his newspaper for him. Jon was up until the early hours working, as he is most nights. He was extremely tired and he's not all that well just now. I made him go back to bed and stay there until he feels like getting up. The newspaper has not been fetched for our lord and master, and isn't going to be unless and until Jon gets up and feels like going to get it. Where we live, there are three houses and a pub between us and a junction of our little road with an A road. Directly across the A road (which is easy to cross) is a mini mart type shop, which sells newspapers. It's insane that Jon's father is not willing to make that tiny walk, especially since he is now under instructions to *exercise* to help recover from his angioplasty. Ah - but to add to his other endearing qualities, my father in law is an out and out racist and proud of it. He doesn't like the race of the people who run that shop, not to put too fine a point on it, and has always refused to step foot in it.

There is another shop, about five doors away from that one, run by a "nice, white, middle class, middle aged gentleman", if you'll excuse the sarcasm. For some reason he doesn't like that one either. He wants his paper from the post office, which still isn't very far away; it can't possibly be more than a ten minute walk even if you're going extremely slowly. He claims he can't walk that far. This is an utter lie. If he was on holiday in Canada, he'd be mowing his eldest son's grounds, chopping wood for them and going out and about with them. He's just being bloody minded for the sake of it.

He could have his newspaper delivered, of course. But he doesn't want to pay the extra. And besides, that would be one less stick to beat his youngest son with.

Today, as far as I'm concerned, he can go without his bloody newspaper. There'll be no thank you if he does get one. And once he's got it, he'll complain that he can't read it.

I am so sick of being expected to tolerate this kind of behaviour. It's a constant, non stop, drip drip drip of tantrums, put downs, sulks, unreasonable demands, mental and emotional abuse. Far from getting better after his treatment, his behaviour is deteriorating even further. I really don't know how much longer we can be expected to live like this. And I really, really don't know how much more my husband can take.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Drawing Day

The ear infection I've been carefully nurturing for the last couple of days finally exploded last night, leaving me to enjoy a fairly sleepless night, lots and lots of owww factor and a fair amount of dizziness and nausea. Mindful of the fact that if it got any worse I wouldn't be able to get to the doctor's tomorrow (out all day) I thought I'd better give in an make a doc appointment today. Ha. Easier said than done. The receptionsists at our surgery are quite a fearsome lot and I was told in no uncertain terms that no, I couldn't have an appointment today and wouldn't get one tomorrow unless I rang at the crack of dawn either, and even then only perhaps.

I slunk away downstairs feeling thoroughly miserable; my knight in shining armour hubby, however, was having none of it and rang them back insisting that I was in a lot of pain and needed to be seen. Thanks entirely to his persistence, a doctor phoned us about an hour later and told me to come down to the surgery whenever was convenient to me. So I went straight away and was seen within five minutes of arriving. My hubby's a star :-)) Turns out that the infection is apparently "extremely nasty" and was liable to rupture my eardrum at any time, so I've been given a double dose of some antibiotics plus double dose of some gunky stuff for my ear. Feeling slightly better physically at the moment. It's not as if I'm at the flippin surgery every five minutes; I think the only few times I've been in the last five years have been for ear syringing, the last excruciating ear infection I had plus smear tests. I wish they'd develop a better appointments system; the one they have at the moment stinks.

Anyway, whilst I was indisposed this morning, Emily and Daddy did some fabulous drawing together. They didn't make it to tai chi because Daddy's poorly too, and we didn't make it swimming this afternoon, obviously, due to my icky ear. Emily enjoyed spending most of the rest of the day drawing away to her heart's content, producing a mixture of fantasy figures and cats. These are Emily's witch emerging from a crystal ball; oriental dragon; siamese cat; Severus and Voldemort fighting; Turkish Van cat.

Although feeling in a bit less pain ear-wise, I must confess to be extremely down in the dumps at the moment. I think "things" are getting to me and I'm finding it very hard to get motivated. Which of course isn't fair because it means Jon has to do practically all the work, which in turn makes me feel guilty and even worse.

On top of feeling intensely resentful about the Grandad situation, I'm also feeling depressed and insecure about the way we home educate. I am *so* fed up of being criticised; whether it's people who don't home educate fretting that Emily's not getting an education at all (because of course we abandon her all day long to her locked-in broom cupboard), or even a fellow home educator who feels that Emily is doing far too *much* work (because of course we're forever forcing her to do things she really, really doesn't want to do). It's all totally ridiculous as anyone who knows Emily can see that a) she's happy, b) she's well educated and c) she spends hours upon hours playing/creating/doing whatever she wants to do AS WELL as the time she spends doing more "structured" work. It is also, of course, none of anyone else's business and I'm normally perfectly able to see that. Put it together with my current mood and outlook on life, however, and I just want to scream at people to shut up and go away. Really need a break away from here. We're going off to St Bees for Halloween week, which can't come a moment too soon. It does mean we'll miss out on a friend's Halloween party, which is a shame, but we just need to NOT be here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Energetic Start to the Week

Emily spent most of Monday morning practising for her yoga test and devising ever more complicated ways of trying to learn the pose benefits she needed to know. This was followed by a two hour swimming session during roughly half of which we were the only people in the pool - heaven! Loads more swimming progress being made; Emily's getting stronger on her front all the time, although she's temporarily gone off swimming on her back due to sinking face up a few times and getting that awful water up the back of your nose feeling!

Yesterday was filled with tons more yoga; we went off to the lesson late afternoon and I got to play class assistant while the teacher was doing the tests. Didn't enjoy that one bit, but I get to do it again next week. Maybe it will grow on me. Poor Emily didn't get to do her test in the end, though. The older girls who were taking theirs took sooooooo long about, having to be prompted by the teacher through virtually every pose, every bit of sanskrit, every explanation of benefits - she only got through three girls out of about 10 who were due to be tested. So Emily will have to wait until next week, although judging by what I saw in the lesson she's learned everything a hundred times more thoroughly than was expected.

This morning Emily and I went out for a two hour wander around the village. Emily wanted to take lots of photos to build a photo map, so she enjoyed doing that. We visited the church and churchyard, the prison....sorry, I mean school, the playground, the post office and shops, the war memorial, the river and bridges etc, as well as a thorough exploration of the woods at the back of the church and a wander through some arable land too.
Emily showed me where she and Daddy had found loads of broken bits of tiles laid out in a mosaic fashion half way through a cornfied. Very odd. While we were out we collected lots of lovely autumn leaves, some of which are now in the flower press, and the rest of which have been pasted onto a cat figurine to make an autumn cat, which looks very nice so far, although Emily needs to wait for it all to dry off before she can finish coating it.

This afternoon, Emily's written an "essay" about home education, debating its pros and cons and concluding with her view which, I'm certainly reassured to know, was that it is A Very Good Thing. She's also spent ages going through various map pages, telling me all sorts of intersting things she's discovered. Tai chi and more swimming tomorrow, before we're off to Jackie's for the day on Friday.

Jon's father continues to be obnoxious. Despite having told everyone that after the angioplasty he felt he would be "back to normal" and able to walk the extremely short distance into the village to get his newspaper, etc, he's barely moved off his chair still, and is now going on about wanting to get a mobility scooter. The concept of gentle exercise being required in order to regain fitness is clearly completely over his head. Having endured several "I'm so sorry for myself unless there's someone on the phone I want to talk to" days plus having listened to yet more direct put downs of Jonathan and unfavourable comparisons of him against other family members, I'm back to near screaming point. It's extremely hard to feel any sympathy for people who a) won't help themselves and b) set out to hurt others. Still, I'm in trouble at the moment because I haven't been out today to collect his prescription which I had to drop off on Monday morning. The fact that he's got - literally - shelf loads of medication left and could probably last at least another 3-4 weeks without picking up any replacements is apparently neither here nor there. He wants it and he wants it now. You've got to laugh.

Meanwhile I've just had an email from the press agency. Could I please send them the next installments of no less than three contracts worth of work by tomorrow lunchtime at the latest. None of these items are due until early next week, but someone's going to be off for a week next week and they didn't bother to tell me this until gone 4pm today. I haven't even started on any one of the three pieces of work they're wanting. So the answer's a big fat no together with a really-not-my-problem-since-you-didn't-give-me-anywhere-near-enough-notice-of-the-change-of-deadline. I'm actually getting much better at standing up for myself work-wise; argued the toss with a different contract a week or two ago when one of the client's readers complained about the tone of what I had written as being sarcastic....the client wanted an "explanation" from me, despite the fact that the brief from the client was precisely to be.....sarcastic. The client backed off and apologised to me, much to my surprise but delight. I had been prepared to lose the contract on principle as I'm so sick of being treated like a doormat.

Now, if only I could find the same increasing levels of assertiveness with extended family members, I'd be laughing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Oracles and a Bat

Voldemort came home from the vets late on Friday much improved; they haven't a clue what was wrong with him, so let's hope it doesn't happen again. The swelling in his tummy went down, so that's something. He's been as happy as anything since he came home. Very sweetly, as soon as he saw us he wanted to get from the vet's arms to us and started purring and nuzzling :-))

Jon's father has now had his angioplasty done, apparently successfully. I went to pick him on Saturday morning and hopefully life should now start to get easier for him (and us). He's planning on going back out for walks etc, having basically refused to move from his chair for the last several months, so that's a good thing. Now we get to start on an endless round of follow up appointments, but at least we're getting somewhere.

Emily's been very self sufficient this last couple of days. She was fascinated by the I-Ching when we learnt about it during Ancient China work a few days ago, and she has spent a long time researching that and trying it out, asking the I-Ching to comment on all kinds of aspects of her life, with interesting results. She has also started to make her own crystal oracle set, with laminated crystal casting mat and interpretations.

While we were all busy looking after Grandad and Voldy, Emily was busy being the Tidy Fairy again, although this weekend she did manage not to injure herself in any way! She cleaned the kitchen out including the hob and would have washed the floor had she not run out of time!! She has this passion for cleaning and tidying at the moment. Oddly enough, however, it doesn't extend to clearing up her own room or clearing away after she's been crafting somewhere. She's a very efficient but selective Tidy Fairy, this one ;-)

This morning Emily went to karate, where George told he she has the strongest punches and kicks in the group :-) and came home bursting with a secret crafty idea she simply HAD to get stuck into. And that was the last we saw of her for a while, before she came upstairs proudly displaying this rather fabulous poseable, stuffed vampire bat:She'd designed it using a loo roll holder as the cylinder pattern (which she then removed to stuff the bat) and wire in the wings to make it poseable; she'd drawn and cut out all the patterns, worked out how to attach the wings and head securely, done all the sewing, the lot. :-)

Emily's also been busying herself with an entirely self-directed Victorian Servants project. We'd done a bit of Victorians work with Jasmine and Mei-Lin but Emily's imagination has really been caught by the whole upstairs vs downstairs stuff. She's read tons of books about it, made notes on everything that interests her and is now in the middle of writing a very detailed and imaginative Victorian Servant's diary.

Yoga test on Tuesday, which we'd forgotten all about, so there's also been a fair bit of frantically trying to learn the benefits of the poses involved in this level. Emily keeps coming up with things like "It feels like this one opens up the base chakra" or "This definitely stimulates the thymus"....which is a bit more esoteric than the very basic "stretches the back" bit she's supposed to be saying, so it's a bit of a struggle for her to remember what it actually says on the sheets she's been given. I'm supposed to be assisting in the yoga lesson Tuesday, now that my CRB check has finally come back revealing what a seedy and criminal past I've (not) had. Should be interesting.

Trying to plough through my writing deadlines this afternoon was greatly assisted - or not - by the continuous presence of some beautiful black kitties on and around my desk.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

One at the Hospital, One at the Vets

This is turning into a fun, fun seven days.

Emily and I went out craft-y shopping at The Range this morning; she gave tai chi a miss as her cold has got a lot worse and we didn't think the lovely elderly ladies who go to her class would appreciate being lurgied. When we left, Voldemort had been playing happily and schnuggling on Emily's lap. By the time we got back, he was lying by the big cats' food bowls breathing very oddly, crying when touched and moving very stiffly and slowly. He was clearly in discomfort or pain. I had to rush back out again almost straight away to take Grandad into Hull hospital, but Jon and Emily took Voldemort to the open clinic at the vets to have him checked over.

The vet thought his bowel might have folded in on itself (!!!!!!!!) - apparently this is quite common in kittens and would cause a lot of discomfort and trapped gas etc; by this time Voldy's stomach was bulging out on one side. They kept Voldy there this afternoon for x-rays to see what they could find out. The x-rays didn't show anything sinister, but he's still extremely listless and won't eat or move, so they're keeping him in overnight for observation since, as the vet put it on the phone when we rang, if he does go downhill it will happen very quickly :-((( They're giving him fluids and antibiotics in the meantime. Our poor baby, he's really having a tough old kittenhood. Meanwhile, Severus is feeling very lonely without his brother, I think, and I don't want to think about how Voldy is feeling all on his own with strangers all night, poorly and with no Sev Sev or big cats :-(

Grandad is now in Hull hospital; he was given a bed straight away despite his fretting that he would have to wait for hours. The staff nurse looking after him couldn't be nicer. If all goes according to plan, he'll be having renal treatment this afternoon, the angioplasty tomorrow and then coming home on Saturday morning. If they can't do the angioplasty - they couldn't do it last time as the arteries were too blocked, as far as I understand, which is why they're trying again but going in from a different direction - we're looking at another heart bypass, but I don't know whether they'd do that immediately or send him home to go on a waiting list. When he had his first heart bypass, ten years ago in London, I think there was less than 36 hours between him being taken by ambulance to the hospital in Reading and then being transferred to the Middx Hopsital in London for the emergency surgery - this time though, I guess it won't be treated as an emergency, so it could be a long and tense wait. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that for Grandad, and here's hoping our baby kit can come feeling much better tomorrow morning.

It's extremely odd only having one little black thing running around :-(

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Another Injury!

Double Trouble:

Emily's foot recovered well enough that we went swimming again on Sunday afternoon. Never, ever again at a weekend. It was horrible. Packed to the brim with sniggering teenagers of the worst kind. Emily lost a lot of confidence all over again, and in the process slipped down some steps twisting her foot nastily. It ended up swollen and blue, so we had to call off swimming on Monday.

Her foot's now recovered from both injuries, bless her, but she's got a sore throat and stinking cold instead. Romy, Hazel and Tansy came over to play this afternoon; fortunately, as they all had colds already, perhaps Emily's lurgy won't have been passed on.

Anyway; between the various injuries it's been a pleasant enough start to the week. On Monday we cracked on with Ancient China, watching a recorded DVD from the other day of the British Museum exhibition on the First Emperor and the Terracotta Army. Emily wanted to make notes while it was on and came up with several pages of very intelligent observations, so that was all good stuff. Yesterday we started a new biology book and braved the spiders in the garden to collect lots and lots of plant samples, ready to do some taxonomy work.

This morning we took Romeo and Juliet out the vets first thing for their booster vaccinations. This is Romeo still sleeping it off in a pile of dressing up clothes left out after Romy and Emily had been playing this afternoon:
The good news is that JuJu has now completely grown out of her heart murmur. The not so good news is that Mr Pome hasn't grown out of his, but it's a low grade one and it hasn't really caused him any trouble so far, apart from making him pant a little and cough sometimes, so fingers crossed that it won't get any worse. Casssandra-cat is due to go her for booster vaccination soon; she's looking a bit sorry for herself at the moment, but she's very affectionate and quite lively still. I think her fifteen plus years are catching up with her a little though :-(

The baby kits are doing fabulously well. They've finally got over the diarrhea and seem to have grown a huge amount in the last fortnight or so. They've got beautifully glossy coats and they're looking gorgeous :-) They're not very keen on being taken in the garden on their harnesses, though. Not like Pome and JuJu who couldn't wait to get out there every day. Mind you, the other day Voldemort shot out through the back door on his own, catching me unawares. I'd opened the door thinking the babies were nowhere in sight and he just appeared. Bless his heart, he only got a few feet outside the door and then froze, lol.

Here are some catch-up photos as I haven't done any for a while. The top kitten is Voldemort, the bottom one is Severus; the only way we can tell them apart now is by their faces - their eyes/noses are slightly differently shaped, as you can see. We can only barely tell them apart from above or behind, rofl!!! They do have very distinct personalities, but that's not going to be much help later on when we're trying to tell them apart from a distance outside!

This is Emily's windchime set that she made on Friday afternoon; she did all the drilling holes etc herself, so she's very pleased with it. She's going to add another ribbon at the weekend, ran out of time on Friday.
And here's Voldemort on Emily's altar braving the various cacti as he's discovered there are conkers in the offering bowl and they both LOVE playing with conkers! And Severus with the glowing eyes, practising for his role as Halloween Cat.