Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Time for Blogging!

I've managed to get out of the habit of regular blogging, obviously. Oh well, I guess it's a good sign that we're busy!

Emily has new glasses now, picked up from the lovely little independent opticians in Kirton Lindsey - I'm very impressed with them. The morning we went to pick them up we parked diagnoally opposite the little bank there - it was all cordoned off and surrounded by police cars; the entire front of the building was gone. It turns out that thieves had used some sort of vehicle to smash it in during the early hours of the morning. And despite it being surrounded by buildings including a block of flats, nobody heard anything. Riiiight.

Emily had a busy week last week, with swimming, yoga, tai chi and karate. On Wednesday, Hazel, Romy and Tansy came to see us and the girls had a nice play and made a Christmas angel each from a kit I had. The instructions were only in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, but we managed ;-)

Friday was a very busy day; Emily and I went out to Jackie's for most of the day. Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine had a ball playing chess for hours (me too!) and we also did a little bit of work from my five minute fiction book. We had about an hour once we got home before Emily was picked up by Colin and Romy for - ta da! - her first ever sleepover! Alas, it didn't quite go according to plan. Emily and Romy had, I gather, a fantastic play all evening and really enjoyed themselves, but when it came to the actual sleeping bit, Emily felt quite tearful and wanted to come home, so we went to fetch her at about 1.30. It was a shame, as she'd been so excited about going, but I guess she just wasn't quite ready for the experience!

Yesterday morning was the Grand Official Annual Opening of the Loft. A few days early, actually, as we had been planning to get the Christmas stuff down on Thursday, but Gramps was looking for a beautiful chess set (modelled on the Isle of Lewis set) he wanted to give to Emily to celebrate her new found obssession with the game, so while he was up there he gingerly lowered down the four hundred and thirty six boxes of decorations, trees and assorted "sparkly stuff". After lots of oooohing and aaahing over the contents of the boxes, Emily and I played four games of chess (and she won all four!) before we gave up on the thought of where we were going to put all the boxes and went off to do some cooking instead.

A little while later and Emily had made some wonderful chocolate chip shortbread snowflake cookies for Jon to take to the weekly psychic circle at Jackie's house, where, I gather, they went down extremely well indeed.

Today we were going to do some "work". Ahem. Instead we played another three games of chess (guess who won?) and erm, well, moved furniture. A lot. In our dining room/Emily's education room we had a computer desk with a very old and completely defunct PC on it. We got rid of that, leaving a nice big space. And you know what it's like when you've got a nice big space. You start finding things to put in it. So we tried several different permuations of furniture before finally finding one that we liked and which would leave room for a Christmas tree to go in there too, as well as the one in Nana and Gramps' sitting room and our main one in our sitting room upstairs. We'd only just found the right combination, though, when it was time to rush out to yoga - so I've still got most of the room to sort out tonight. Oh joy. Still, it'll be nice when it's done.

We're having a few problems with Juliet and the kittens - she won't leave them alone, but not in a playful way, she's really quite aggressive towards them now. And, bizarrely, despite being beaten up every time they go near her, they won't leave her alone either. It's all a far cry from Romeo, who adores them to bits, and Cassie Cat, who's maintaining a dignified and aloof indifferent distance from the babies. Not JuJu. Last night the three of them were winding each other constantly and we had to keep intervening to seperate them. During the course of all that, Severus managed go give himself an electric shock (we think) by chewing through some wire!! I've booked Severus and Voldemort in to be neutered next week. They'll be nearly six months old then, which is older than Romeo was when he and Juliet were neutered - I'm wondering if they're starting to mature in that sense, which is why they're bothering JuJu, and if she senses that and is threatened by it, which is why she's bothering them. We're really hoping it will all calm down when the babies come back minus the salient bits of anatomy :-//

Oooh, and yesterday evening when I was in the downstairs loo, I caught sight of a weird flashing just outside the window. I grabbed the camera and took a few photos outside the door. The first one I took has these orbs on it (click on the photo to see it bigger). The next one, seconds later, has nothing.
In answer to Helen, who asked in the comments on my last post: the orbs are believed by some people to be spirit energy. Others, of course, completely dismiss them as being nothing but (insert technical explanation here) something to do with digital cameras, or flies, or moisture droplets, or various other things.

I'd *like* to believe that the orbs are spirit energy, although we're keeping an open mind. Emily and I have some experiments planned to see if we can deliberately recreate them. So far I'm not convinced by any of the technological explanations, for various reasons. For instance, pictures taken just seconds apart, from the same place with the same camera, can have orbs on one and then not on the next - the moth theory holds up there but in all honesty, it's not hard to see moths with your eyes, and we do have some pictures that have moths in them....looking very much like moths. Anyway, with photos in quick success like that, imo the "it's a digital camera thing" or moisture droplets really doesn't fit. Also, I've been back through hundreds of photos we took before this year, with the same camera, and I haven't found a single orb on any of them. It's only this year, and specifically since the spring when Jon started his mediumship training, that we've ever found any on pictures we've taken. I've only posted a handful on here; some of the ones I've posted (not this one) I've sometimes lightened the background so you can see the orbs better because they simply don't show up very well at a small size, but on the actual original photos they show up clearly without any lightening needed.

If orbs are caused by something to do with digital camera technology, I don't get why it doesn't happen all the time, to everyone. However, I do admit that it's strange that orbs were not usually noticed on cameras before digital - but I don't buy the technology being the cause of it, if you see what I mean. If it's something physical like moisture, I don't see why it would be disappearing *that* fast, or only visible on one camera if more than one person takes the same photo at the same time. So I do err towards these orbs not being as easily explained away as some people claim they can be - but I'm looking forward to experimenting to see if we can recreate them. I'm doing a lot of research on the net and in various books about this too, from both points of view. I'm very interested to get to the bottom of it if that's possible :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kitty Castle & Party Invites

Today's doings - Emily's designed and hand made the invitations for her Ancient Egypt party, with lovely pastelled sunsets and cut out pyramids and palm trees. I'm very keen this year to try to get everything organised well in advance, for Christmas, for Emily's "real" birthday on the 2nd Jan and for the party ten days later. I'm trying to be super-organised because I would really like to be able to relax and enjoy the last couple of weeks before Christmas and the New Year instead of tearing my hair out and trying to get everything done.

"Education" as a school would recognise it has been fairly short on the ground this last couple of days, apart from some long division, but Emily's been doing lots of reading and lots, lots, lots, lots of drawing and designing. On Sunday afternoon she built this fabulous kitty castle for Voldemort and Severus from a big box which had delivered secret things a few days earlier. The kittens absolutely loved it, and are now using it as their preferred sleeping place at night - it's so cute to see them curled up inside it!

Romeo and Juliet have had a good old sniff around it too, although Cassie Cat deemed it all a bit beneath her. The babies are now LOVING going out in the garden for their walks on harnesses. So much for my hopes that they'd be homebodies. They're itching to be let loose, bless them. Will have to book them in for neutering during December, although we won't be "letting them go" until after Emily's birthday - cuts down on the stress levels as lost kittens are not a pleasant thing to be worrying about over the festive season!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Late Sparklers

In the garden, this evening. Orbs on some photos too (but not all, so it wasn't anything atmospheric), but I won't bore you with any more of those. We're getting quite a collection of them now!

Nearly December!

Can't believe how time is racing by. It'll soon be time to make the annual pilgramage up into the loft for advent calendars and assorted trees and decorations. With Emily's birthday just a week after Christmas, that's rolling round alarmingly fast too. We've finally made a decision about the birthday party issue - by moving the party from 2nd January to 12th January it means that more of Emily's friends can come (two being away for New Year) and it also means that we don't have to run around like loonies on New Year's Day trying to get everything ready.

It also means, of course, that Emily gets to enjoy two exciting days instead of just one ;-) When I first hit on the idea of moving the party, she wasn't at all keen for reasons she couldn't really explain, but she's very excited now, bless her heart. It's going to be an Ancient Egypt theme, so I'm busy brainstorming ideas for transforming our big room into an Egyptian tomb ;-)

In the supermarket this morning, Jon bumped into the mother of a friend Emily had at school. She mentioned to him how she always thinks of us as she has to drive past our house every school morning. He innocently remarked that we're usually not up at that time ;-) Not strictly true (well, not always) but it's nice to remind harrassed school Mums sometimes that stressing yourself and your children out trying to get everyone out of the house at an appointed time every day isn't necessarily a positive thing to subject everyone too.

It's been a busy week here: we've got loads and loads of writing deadlines still looming, there was an extra last minute contract from the press agency, more work to do with the hopefully imminent Astrologer's Toolkit book, plus Grandad to drive around to various appointments. Emily went to yoga on Tuesday evening and to tai chi on Thursday morning. We've also been swimming - Emily swam a whole "length" (it's actually a width, 'cos it's a weird shaped pool, but it's 50m) of the pool non-stop :-)))) Very proud of her. She won't win any points in a style contest, as she currently does a weird combination of doggy paddle, breastroke and front crawl all in one (!) and sometimes her legs are angled downwards quite a bit, but she's getting stronger and faster all the time. She also started to learn to swim underwater in the little pool.

We've also had huge internet problems this last week or so, only able to hold a connection for ten minutes at a time, constantly. Big thanks to my Dad who eventually sussed out that it was our long extension phone cable that was the problem and rigged us up with another one :-)

Today we've had friends around for the day; Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine have giggled themselves silly all day, inbetween a bit of maths and some watercolour mandala painting. Yesterday we'd planned (after a few false starts due to organisational chaos at this end!) to go to see Hazel, Romy and Tansy, but in the end we had to put that off until early next week when we'll be going swimming together and hopefully having a good play and early Christmas craft session for the girls.

Instead, yesterday afternoon Emily and I went out to Hemswell antiques centre, where, as luck would have it, we ended up buying quite a lot of things from a discounted Egyptian stall - just right for Emily's birthday party bags. We also found, again discounted, two one metre tall blow up Egyptian Gods which will help me no end with the somewhat tricky decorating challenges this party is going to present, lol! We were tickled pink with the blow up Gods and spent the rest of the day doing silly voices for them :-))

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Settling Back Down

It's always hard to get back to "normality" after a holiday, but we're gradually settling back down here.

Emily's had a great week, very busy with lots of fun. She has done lots of maths and English and a fair bit of history too. She's also been doing a lot of surrealist art work with pictures cut from magazines and her own weird backgrounds. Yesterday and today Emily's been having a huge arty-crafty session, making lots of secret Christmas presents and cards, as well as helping Daddy repair a big bike that Jackie gave us and helping him take down the trampoline too.

We've been taking Voldemort and Severus out into the garden a lot more since we got back from holiday. Until recently, they really didn't want to be out there at all and would barely move, but now they've finally got the hang of it and are having a good old explore :-)) The garden, however, is littered, every single day, with a large assortment of dead things ranging from goldfinches to the normal mice to voles and even a rat. Nice. I think Romeo, Juliet and Cassie-Cat are trying to teach the babies what to do :-//

Emily has also been trying to learn her lines for her Christmas yoga play; she has quite a lot to say and do this time round, and since we missed the first lesson of term while we were away, she's trying to catch up with the others. We were a bit sad on Tuesday night at yoga to find that the teacher had changed the date of the play to Sunday the 16th December instead of the Saturday, as we thought that clashed with Emily's karate Christmas party (Daddy's being Santa again, lol). Fortunately, though, Emily found out today at karate that the party date has also moved and is on the Saturday, so that all worked out rather nicely after all!

This is a little poem Emily wrote in the car when we were away on holiday; I've just found it and various other poems which she's going to type up on the PC, set to nice background images. This one is called "Time":

Time is a mode of thought
An earthly measure
With mysteries taught.

What the trees grow with
What the clouds change with
Is time, divine.

I love that one, especially since she wrote it while Jon and I were frantically trying to find our way out of Carlisle city centre! Poetic thought in the midst of chaos :-))

I liked this too, found on the Secualar Homeschoolers list: The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List :-))

Mind you, I took Emily to a little tiny, old fashioned independent opticians on Friday morning - they asked her what school she went to and were hugely positive when she said that she was home educated. Glad to see that not everyone in the optician's world is of the Specsavers ilk.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back From Holiday

Hello :-) We're back from St Bees.

We didn't get away as soon as we had hoped and we didn't get to stay for as long as we'd hoped either, but we did have a wonderfully refreshing and relaxing break while it lasted :-)

The weather was, um, Autumnal, which is of course as it should be. Besides, it's such a beautiful place that even when it's grey it still has a great deal of magic about it. The beach was mostly deserted, and Emily loved practising her tai chi on it!

Jon took a *lot* of orb photos while we were away; I couldn't believe how many there were! Most of them don't look at their best when scaled down to go on the blog, but here are a few taken on St Bees beach at night.

We didn't go visiting many places while we were away, as the whole point was to relax instead of rushing off from one place to another. We did make a return trip to Keswick and bought some beautiful beaded wall hangings and a huge bamboo windchime. We also made it to Carlisle Castle, which unfortunately was a bit like Lincoln Castle in that it was very, very empty and pretty unimpressive, in now way living up to the hype in the tourist brochure. Warwick Castle it was not. Carlisle Cathedral was nice though, and we loved Carlisle city centre. Bought dozens and dozens of books from charity shops :-))

We went on long beach walks every day and Emily had an absolute ball beachcoming and rockpooling, as normal. She saw lots and lots of starfish this time, and collected more carrier bags full of shells. We also visited a beach we'd never been to before, just a few miles away at Parton on the outskirts of Whitehaven. It's apparently well known for its plant fossils, and we did find a few, along with an absolute ton of pottery fragments and what Emily likes to call "wave-ified glass", so she collected all of those too and wants to make a mosaic with them.

We also went to the cinema and saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age - brilliant film, loved that. And we played endless games of scrabble, skip-bo, uno and other things we rarely get the time to do at home :-))

A highlight of the week was our trip to Muncaster Castle on Halloween night. We were all in fancy dress and we'd booked a ghost tour too, which was fascinating. The whole evening was very dark, very spooky and very fun! Didn't see any ghosts on the ghost tour (boo!!) but yet more of Jon's photos contained orbs, like the bottom one of this little lot:

We were invited to watch a firework display at one of the neighbouring caravans, and we rounded off the holiday with some spectacular sunsets :-))

We arrived back home to find that Romeo had injured himself for the second time in a row on the day of our return :-(( Hope he's not going to make a habit of it! This time he'd managed to somehow rip most of the flesh off one of his front "toes". It looked awful. My Mum and Dad took him to the vets the day we got back and brought him home with antibiotic pills and lotion to bathe the wound - he's not impressed with either, but he's being quite good natured about it. He has to go back next Monday once it's hopefully healed a little so they can assess the damage to his claws.

All three big cats were pleased to see us and so were out little kibbies who seem to have grown a lot while we were away. It's good to be surrounded by purrs again :-))

One piece of news did put a heck of a damper on our return: while we were away, a huge London agency contacted us offering me a £1000 contract for what would have been, quite literally, just a few paragraphs of work. Unfortunately, they got in touch on Monday the 29th October, and their deadline was that Friday, the 2nd November. We didn't get any of the messages until we got back on Monday the 5th. I got straight in touch with them, but they had in the end given the job to someone else, naturally enough. They're going to come back to us next time they need something similar, but that could be who knows when. So we've waved goodbye to a thousand pounds not to mention an "in" to a huge agency who could no doubt have been very good for us.

Given our somewhat dire financial straits, this was *extremely* upsetting news and has provoked a few tears of pure frustration. I can't believe such bad luck. Of all the weeks for them to get in touch. I could get all resentful now and point out that it wasn't even our free choice to go away during that particular week - it was the only time we *could* go given, ahem, "family commitments" piled up on either side of the holiday. Had we had a choice, we wouldn't have gone at that time. But I won't point that out. Oooops, I just did.

Trying to be philosophical about it now; I guess spirit, the cosmos, call it what you will, is perhaps trying to teach us something. Maybe we're being taught that we don't truly need as much money as we think we need (although if that's the case, I'd like spirit to take a somewhat closer look at our bank balance and debts!). Or maybe we're being taught to work even harder and forget about being lazy and going on holiday. I'm sure that's the interpretation someone I know would like to put on it. Maybe taking the contract would have someone been A Bad Thing in the long run, or maybe not taking it has cleared the way for something else to come along. I'm trying to believe, however, that we're learning (the hard way) that no matter how tough day to day rob Peter to pay Paul life is getting, and no matter how stressful dealing with extended family issues is becoming, the *really* important things in life, such as family time for me, Jon and Emily, are free.

On a more positive note, it looks as if Quarto are on the verge of a publishing deal for my Astrologer's Toolkit book; apparently someone's flying to the US shortly to finalise the details, which is exciting :-))

Took Grandad to the diabetic clinic this morning. They didn't have his hospital notes. Who knows why. They would have seen him anyway, but there was going to be a delay of an hour or so while they tried to find some of his history. He threw an absolute tantrum and insisted that he wasn't willing to wait more than five minutes past his appointment time. After a set-to with the staff, he stormed out with me following meekly, as you do. That's reasonable. Not. It was hugely embarrassing and he was extremely rude to the staff. I've been ordered to get in touch with the complaints manager at the hospital again, but with strict instructions to make sure she has our phone number, not his, because he doesn't want to speak to some "bloody foreigner". Some things never change. It's sure good to be home.