Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nearly Nine & New Year Ponderings

We've taken down the Christmas decorations now. Well, I say "we". Jon and Emily did upstairs yesterday and Nana and Gramps did downstairs plus loft. I sat at the desk and grumbled a lot about having to get back to work, deadlines calling. During the rest of the weekend, we played more with Emily's Christmas loot. She and I tried out a learn to crochet kit, which Emily hated with a passion and which induced tears of frustration. So that was a good buy, then. I, on the other hand, was inordinately and quite disproportionately pleased and proud of the small wonky rectangle and tiny, slightly less wonky circle I managed to crochet. We also tried out a Delta Sand modelling set that Nana and Gramps bought for Emily, which was a lot of fun, although much trickier than it looks. We practiced a while with it and have lots of ideas for what to do with it now we're getting the hang of it. Emily has also been scoubi-ing like mad, reading books, journalling and coming up with poetry at odd hours of the day and night. And playing with barbie stuff; this morning she and I sat on her bedroom floor for a couple of hours playing a most inventive scenario where one of the dolls was Bellatrix and one of the males was Voldemort, and he was holding a competition to choose his new death eaters. As you do.

This afternoon Emily went out to Hemswell with Nana and Gramps, which gave me and Daddy a chance to wrap up birthday presents. I've got to go out tomorrow to get some stuff for Emily's birthday tea plus a couple more decorations, but apart from that we're good to go for the 2nd January :-)) Nowhere near ready to go for her party on the 12th January, mind you. Had my traditional pre-birthday party nightmare last night - all the guests arrived and I hadn't even decorated the place let alone prepared any games or activities, and spent the rest of the nightmare trying to invent stuff as I went along whilst watching Emily's mortified embarrassment and heart-breaking disappointment. Cheerful stuff. I hate birthday parties. I keep saying never again. I also keep reminding myself that my own expectations of the damn thing are probably way higher than any of the kids' expectations, and that I should be more relaxed about it. Hrrrmph.

Anyway. So New Year's Eve approaches. I do like New Year's Eve. Like many people I do sometimes get a bit emotional at the thought of another year gone, but hey, I can feel like that most of the time, I don't need a particular night in December to do it. On the night itself, I'm more likely to be feeling optimistic and positive about what's to come. Oh yes, we all start with such wonderful plans, rofl.

Looking back at 2007, I think we've done pretty well on the whole. I'm pleased with Emily's education, in general - although the fact that by the time we get back to work after 12th January we'll have had six weeks off is a bit alarming. Then again, we did work through most of the summer when the school kids were off, so.... Apart from education, I'm pleased with the rest of Emily's year too, as if it were my place to be pleased about such a thing. She's learnt to swim and she's doing outstandingly well at both karate and tai chi. She's finally abandoned the ballet which was doing nothing but eating up her self-esteem. She (and we) have made some wonderful new friends this year and Emily's social confidence continues to increase slowly but surely. Financially, life has been a bit of a struggle for us grown ups at times, but then what else is new? It's been a hugely positive year for Jon as he has discovered new talents and taken steps towards developing them. Issues with extended family have been a complete pain in the neck, but if nothing else all that has served to make Jon and I stronger as a team. So overall, it's a Not Too Bad to 2007.

I asked Jon and Emily this afternoon what their hopes for 2008 are. Emily replied that she wants to "be brave enough to try lots of new things", which I thought was a very positive one. Jon replied that he hopes to make me and Emily proud of him (because he can't see that we are already enormously proud of him, obviously), to make us financially secure, and to finish the three courses he currently has on the go. I don't think the financially secure one is going to happen, somehow. But the last one is good, very good indeed.

My personal hopes for 2008 are to get healthier. Yes, OK, that does mean lose (a lot of) weight, but I'll settle for tiny steps. Considering this was also my ambition last year, and the year before that - well, you see what I mean. So I'm setting much smaller goals in that department. Financially and business-wise, I hope to see the pending book deal through to a successful conclusion, break away from some of the contracts I'm currently tied to but which I loathe, pay off *some* debts and start to put a little bit of money each month away for Emily. I also hope to see Jon develop his potential in whatever way makes him happiest. And he has no choice but to join me in the getting fitter bit, too.

Possibly my biggest personal, psychological goal for 2008 is to stop wishing time away. I always seem to end up doing a lot of things I dread, and I find myself constantly thinking "OK, I've got to get through this on Tuesday and this on Thursday and this on Saturday and then I'll be OK for a few days", and wishing it all past. I can't believe how fast 2007 has gone, and my attitude obviously hasn't helped. I can't get out of most of the things I don't like doing (or I wouldn't be doing them!) but I can and I will try to find the positive and stop living only for the small gaps inbetween the more difficult things!!

Educationally, I have lots of goals I hope to help Emily with in 2008.

English and Maths
I'm quite confident with Emily's English. She loves to write, and what more can you ask? Emily also loves poetry, so we want to work on that. She needs more organised spelling stuff. She needs (possibly) some more advanced grammar work - she speaks and writes with perfect grammar, but actually studying grammar and sentence diagramming and stuff might well help with the logic and further latin studies we're hoping to get to soon. Creative writing is absolutely no problem at all, but Emily would like to start a personal journal, so we'll probably encourage her to write in that every day mixed in with the odd bit of other assorted stuff. Would like to do some proper book studies.

Maths. Ah, maths. Well, we're still struggling with the times tables, although she does have 2, 5, 9 and 10 off pat. Emily has a bit of a weird thing going on with maths. She's very, very good at understanding the how and why of maths. She grapsed the logistics of long division, percentage increases and decreases, ratios and simplifying fractions, for instance, with no problem at all. It's just the actual working out she hates. I'm sure it's just a speed/practice thing. It takes her a while, so she feels inadequate so she dislikes it. And because she dislikes it, she makes it take ages, which puts both of us in a bad mood and eats up far too much of the day. I guess it's going to have to come down to the little and often theory; fifteen minutes first thing in the morning each day followed by a swift move on to something much more fun.

We hope to carry on with Jackie's occasional German lessons. Need to get back to Latin. Emily was doing fantastically well with that but then we hit a tough patch and stopped. That was such a shame. We need to do something much more organised with Italian too.

We like History Odyssey, mostly, so we'll be sticking with that. It's taken us longer than the expected year to do Ancients - we still have Greece, Celts and part of Rome to do, so I can't see us being finished with that before Easter. After that, though, Emily's asked if we can get the next section of the course, Middle Ages, so we'll definitely do that.

Um. There's lots of mapwork in History Odyssey? Nana and Gramps bought Emily some beautiful map stickers in her Christmas straw box, lol, so that will hopefully inspire us to get on with some geography. We've got a good course book in the Geomatters Trail Guide to World Geography, if rather US centric. We really should do something with it. We've been half heartedly looking at Europe, on and off, but we need to get organised with this.

Well, crafts we have coming out of our ears. Emily's done tons of craft stuff in 2007 and I'm sure that will continue in 2008. She'll be getting lots of fabrics and a fashion design kit for her birthday (ssssshhh!) so we're hoping to encourage some proper design/sewing/outfit making on a barbie scale too. We did start an art portfolio and were working through a Discovering Great Artists project book. Yet again, we've got the materials, it's just a question of fitting it in.

Hmmm. Well, we've finished all three of the Real Science 4 Kids books now, biology, chemistry and physics. They were very good, but now we need a fresh approach. Not quite sure what. I quite like the idea of Emily doing a science journal of some kind, but we'll have to see a) if she likes that idea and b) which major books we'd use for that.

Design & Technology
Rofl. I do love these subject headings. Well, apart from just about everything an inventive child does coming under that one, we're also now the proud owners of a Knex Exploring Machines set, complete, apparently, with 96 page teacher guide. So I guess we'll do that.

The biggest problem with all these fine plans is TIME. By the time we've factored in everything else we regularly do each week, we're only left with a total of 2.5 or sometimes 3 full days a week. Which leads me to my next and quite possibly biggest of big New Year Resolutions. The final one. The one on which all others depend:

Get Up Much Earlier!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Magical Christmas

We had the loveliest Christmas I can remember. Semi-miraculously, we were all fit and well for the day itself, which had been touch and go. I know some others weren't so lucky and had a very poorly Christmas, so we do feel fortunate.

Emily woke up at 4.15 and came bounding into our room, stocking in tow. I'd only been asleep for an hour, and Jon not much more, lol. We'd had to shut the kittens out of the sitting room where they normally sleep, lest they rip the paper off Emily's pressies before she even got there, so they were running amok in our bedroom all night. Constantly on and off the bed, fighting, miaowing, climbing things, that lovely claws in carpet sound as they ran at top speed around the room for hours. What fun. So we managed to persuade Emily to go back to sleep in our bed for an hour, before the Grand Stocking Opening at 5.30. Emily declared it the best stocked stuffing ever and was delighted with all sorts of bits and bobs. We headed downstairs for a candelit breakfast before coming back upstairs to Emily's main presents from us under our tree.

She was delighted with everything and unfeasibly thrilled with anything connected to Harry Potter, lol. Emily was very lucky this year and enjoyed tons of presents, including her favourite, a Barbie plane/boat thingy.

Eventually, after I'd fallen asleep (!) we went downstairs to see Nana, Gramps and Grandad. Nana and Gramps had packed all Emily's presents into a huge straw filled box, nearly as big as she is. She thought it was sooooo much fun delving into the straw to find things. The downstairs sitting room looked like a stable by the time she'd finished! The kittens appreciated the straw too!

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner expertly cooked as ever by Jon. We always save one present to give to Emily after she's finished her dinner while everyone else is still eating - this year it was 30 handmade Barbie dresses which I found remarkably cheaply on ebay. I'd tissue wrapped each one and put them in a huge box full of polystyrene beans. Emily was thrilled to bits with them :-))

After Christmas dinner we grown ups opened our presents, including the ones Emily had chosen for me and Daddy, which were gorgeous, and ours to and from our parents. We were all thoroughly spoilt :-) In the evening we watched the Miss Potter DVD about Beatrix Potter, which was pleasant. Emily wanted to play party games, so we all stayed up very late playing "what am I?" with the secretly selected object drawn and sellotaped to our backs, and 20 questions to try to find out what it was. About five rounds later we'd progressed to such esoteric "objects" as Cinderella's Glass Slipper and Imagination. Was extremely impressed with Emily's intelligent lines of questioning!!

Boxing Day was very peaceful and relaxed, although Jon was poorly by then :-( having looked after us all the day before and done all the cooking, washing up, sandwich making, drinks fetching and generally spoiling us rotten. We played with some of Emily's new "stuff", watched Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark together and had more family games in the evening, this time playing "coffee pot" and "in the manner of" - much fun. Emily loves it when we all spend time together. Guess we obviously don't do enough of it during the year, but then what family ever does?

Yesterday and today have also been good fun, with lots more of Emily's "stuff" being delved into. She and I put henna designs on each other's feet and various tattoos in other places, as well as moulding and painting some Harry Potter figures, investigating a making paper kit and watching the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix DVD with my Mum and Dad. Emily and Jon tried out a new drawing tool Grandad bought for Emily, Emily plastered her room with Harry Potter posters, did scratch art and all kinds of other bits and bobs. We also watched the Ballet Shoes dramatisation that had been on on Boxing Day, with Emma Watson in it (she will always be known by my daughter as Hermy, no matter what she does with the rest of her life, lol). Today we've been on a bit of a manic tidy up trying to find homes for the one hundred and one new and thus far homeless items. Clever Gramps has been making a brand new box for a beautiful 200 piece mineral/rock collection Emily had for Christmas.

So, it was a lovely time all round. Very good humoured, festive and family focused. We'll be having another family celebration on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and then of course the day after that there's the small matter of Emily's 9th birthday to attend to - only four days to go now!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve

Emily still has a cold, but fortunately it doesn't seem to have developed into anything worse. We've had a very pleasant Two Days Before Christmas, with lots of baking, playing board games, festive music and fun TV watching, as well as manic pressie wrapping.

This morning Emily and I made a yule log cake, complete with marzipan holly and presents, and some scrummy mince pies; it's traditional now to bake the family Christmas tree on Christmas Eve morning, lol.

This afternoon we spent a while in the garden with the kittens, took some pictures of our outdoor Christmas lights and generally got excited :-)) Emily has just gone to bed, after writing a note for Father Christmas and leaving it, along with a mince pie, a glass of red wine and a carrot, on the hearth downstairs. She heard sleigh bells from outside just as she was settling down into bed, for the third year running. I think Santa must stop off in Scotter for some veg for the reindeer before going on up to Scotland. Daddy missed hearing the bells, again!!!

Looking out of the window just now it's turning into a peaceful, if rather fog bound night. They'll need Rudolph's nose tonight, I should think! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lovely Yule - Plus, Alas, Bleurgh Part 3

We had a lovely day yesterday celebrating Yule with Hazel, Romy and Tansy. Emily and Romy made Mother Winter's Wish Bread and put wishes inside the dough with dried fruit. They also created symbolic outfits for God and Goddess wooden figures and listened to some Yule stories. The girls also got crafty with some yule logs cut from one of our eucalyptus trees, drilling into them and attaching holly from the garden, fir cones, wooden beads and so on. Finally, we created a little "cave" in the garden from some long twigs, gaps filled in with holly and evergreen bits. The God and Goddess figures went inside and we lit four candles at the entrance, which we left burning through the night to keep the goddess company as she prepared to rebirth the sun. It was very pretty in the dark. Emily and I had lots of fun and we hope our guests did too :-)

Jon was out all day getting the Christmas food shopping and having a good old root around for some last minute pressies too. He came back chuffed with his finds, as indeed were we, so that was all good too.

Less good was that by 7pm, Emily had a high fever. She'd started having a sore throat around lunch time, but had managed to shrug it off until we'd finished our yule bits and bobs. It really hit her quite hard yesterday evening, though. Poor love had a bright red throat, a blotchy face and a very high temperature and was aching everywhere. She was also violently sick half way up the bathroom wall having run to get to the toilet but not quite made it in time :-(( She had an extremely fitful night's sleep and was utterly miserable.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel Emily's friend Maisie coming round for the day today, as she just isn't up to it. Emily's feeling slightly better at the moment, as she and various combinations of me and Daddy have spent all day snuggled up on the settee watching telly. We've all just watched the first half of the Hogfather DVD which brought lots of smiles as she'd been dying to watch the DVD having seen it on Sky when it was first shown last year.

Meanwhile I'm still not that much better either. Thought I was going to be OK for yule yesterday and I was alright in the morning, but felt progressively worse as the wore on, and have now developed a hacking and quite painful cough, even though the sinus pain has gone.

Fingers crossed now that Emily will continue to get better and will have shrugged off this latest lurgy before Christmas. And that mine will finally go away. And that Jon won't develop either mine, Emily's or anyone else's. And that Emily and I won't give one another the other's if we haven't already got various versions of each other's to start with. Who knows. It's a bit like a hospital ward here at the moment!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bleurgh Part 2

Wasn't getting better. Had one of the worst night's sleep I can remember, tossing and turning, shaking, sweating and shivering and with huge painful pressure behind my eyes, in my cheeks and down the sides of my neck. You know when you're feverish and you get a fragment of a dream or pre-dream thought and you just can't seem to move on past that (or is that just me?) - no matter how many times you drift off to sleep you seem to get endlessly "stuck" on that same bit and then wake up again just a few minutes later? Well, anyway, it's horrid.

Went to the GP this morning as I really, really, really don't want to still have this over Christmas and I was pretty sure by now that it wasn't just a viral cold. Our very sweet GP thinks I have a nasty sinus infection. He's given me some nasal spray and some weird antibiotics (since I'm allergic to penecillin) which, he cheerfully told me, are mostly used to treat malaria and bubonic plague and would probably make me feel violently sick. He was certainly right about that. Bleurgh.

The doctors were running very late, so I got back too late for Jon to take Grandad shopping before he (Jon) had to go out to the dentist. When he gets back he'll take G out, then when they get back Emily and I need to go out to Asda. I shall make a valiant attempt not to throw up in the aisles.

Meanwhile this morning Nana and Gramps took Emily off to the Brigg garden centre for their traditional Christmas root around. Emily came back laden with secret goodies for me and Daddy, as well as a beautiful cat statuette and a stunning black and gold feather mask which she chose because she can use it in festivals to represent the darkness giving way to the sunlight. She rather liked this beautiful green goddess statue they had on display too!

Tomorrow we're having our yule day with Hazel, Romy and Tansy coming over for the day; we'll be doing some baking, listening to yule stories, making a yule cave the god and goddess figures in the garden and generally being arty crafty, assuming I can drag myself out of my zombified state by then!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Have the cold from hell. It started late Sunday night and progressed to full blown horror by Monday morning with exceedingly sore throat, aches, pains and sinuses fit to explode. I didn't go to the party on Monday night as I was feeling too poorly and sorry for myself. Jon went though, and had a fab time :-)) By Tuesday morning I was feeling so ill that I went back to bed and slept for a few hours, which is very unusual indeed for me. Feeling slightly better today, although not a huge amount. My main worry now is that Jon will get this lurgy just in time for Christmas :-(( I'm not too worried about Emily as I think she gave it to me in the first place, but poor Jon is in charge of our Christmas dinner so we can't afford to have a poorly chef ;-)

Emily and I did go out yesterday afternoon, to see Enchanted at the cinema. Emily absolutely loved it. I thought it was passable enough but slightly annoying in places, and much too long. Then again, that may have been the cold speaking. Then again again, maybe I'm just getting old - I seem to find most films too long these days, except the Harry Potter films which aren't long enough.

Today Emily has been making Christmas cards for Nana, Gramps and Grandad, which are absolutely adorable. We've also been putting the finishing touches to their presents. Normal "education" seems to have gone out of the window this December. Never mind. We've had a very arty crafty few weeks, which must count towards something. Tomorrow morning Emily is going on the traditional Christmas garden centre trip with my Mum and Dad which will hopefully give us time to finish our secret pressie wrapping.

Wish Jon would show signs of being ill, lol. Then he could get it over and done with before next Tuesday!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Proud Moments

I'm exceptionally proud of both Emily and Jon at the moment :-))

Emily's had an extremely busy three days. On Friday, having successfully fought off her lurgy, she and I went to our friend Jackie's for the day, complete with sheets of "stained glass" glue and paint mixture. Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine made lovely pictures on acetate with them, cutting and fitting the pieces into wonderful snow scenes and angels. They also had a huge play while Jackie, George and I had a long, long chat. I'm very pleased and proud of Emily's dynamic with Jackie's two youngest girls. She's fitted into their sisterhood really well, really quickly and I love listening to the three of them chatting together. I think the relationship works so well because all three children treat each other as equals. Emily's the youngest by four years, but none of the three of them either boss the others around or is bossed around. They treat each other with a lot of respect - they talk to and listen to one another with genuine interest, they make sure that each of them has an equal say in what they're doing and they all really look forward to our Fridays. It's lovely!

Yesterday morning Emily and I baked, iced and decorated 50 Christmas gingerbread shapes for the karate Christmas party, as well as making sandwiches for it too. The gingerbread mixture was exceedingly yummy! We had four tray loads of these in the end!The party was a big success. Emily looked beautiful in her black and turquoise outfit and she was very poised and grown up looking, even while running around like a lunatic, lol. I was proud of her increased confidence, too, happily playing with the boys and even being asked by one of the other Mums to take care of her little girl who was scared of the bigger girls. Photo fest coming up! Keyboarding Christmas songs before we left to go out:Doing the balloon race with Jasmine:
Cheering on her team:
Enjoying party tea:
Playing yo-yo with little Giselle:
Getting into the spirit of a racing game:Getting ready to play pass the balloon:
Getting the giggles!

The highlight of the party was of course the visit by Father Christmas. Jon did an even more spectacular job than he did last year, happily chatting away to the kids one by one as they came up onto stage to collect a pressie, right from the tiniest tots to the teenagers, putting the little ones at ease and making the big ones crease up laughing, lol. He looked fantastic in his costume and certainly had the small-middling size kids thinking he was the real deal!! Emily and I were a very proud wife and daughter :-)) Unfortunately, most of my pictures of Jon came out blurry, including the one of Emily getting her pressie (damn!) but I did get some good video footage of him too. Here's a couple of pics, despite the blurriness.

This morning it was back to karate for Emily's karate grading. She passed with flying colours and is now officially a green belt :-))) George often gets Emily out to the front to demonstrate moves during the lessons, or puts her in charge of helping the younger ones. Together with a boy who's just about to move up to the next class, so he must be 11, she is officially the strongest kicker in the class too, and definitely the only one who has all the Japanese terminology off pat, as well as having already memorised katas way past her own official level. It's amazing how well she's doing, especially since at the moment we can only go once a week. Next year (not long now!!) Emily's starting kick boxing too, so that will be interesting.

As soon as she got back from karate, Miss Busy Bee had time to grab some lunch before it was time to go back out again to the final rehearsal for her yoga play performance. Dropped her off and mooched about waiting for Jon and my Dad to come and join me for the actual show at 4pm. We had tickets for my Mum too, but unfortunately she fell down some steps this morning and injured her back, so she didn't get to see it. Gramps filmed the whole thing, though, so that was good news!
Emily had been quite nervous about this performance, even though she's done several before - she had a much bigger part this year. The story was about four children (Emily being one of them) who had to travel to four different worlds to rescue parts of a magical snowflake otherwise Christmas would be ruined (sounds familiar to anyone who's read the flippin' rainbow fairies series, I bet!). As well as being in all the scenes where the four children were together, and having songs to do too, Emily was alone as the main part in the world her child had to journey to, Forest World, so she had a lot of lines and actions to remember. She did fantastically well, and we were extremely proud of her yet again :-))

So, Christmas is approaching fast, which means New Year is also approaching fast, which means our little girl is very nearly nine years old!! I was looking back over our blog the other day and it occurred to me that I've spent a lot of time writing about Emily's various problems at times: lack of confidence, friendship woes, "difficult" moments, arguments, rows. We're not the kind of parents who are blind to our daughter's problems and, yes, faults - nobody's perfect and I don't believe it's healthy (or good for the child) to wrongly believe your child is perfect either. Emily is, at times, extremely argumentative and defiant at home with us. She can be quite wilful and she certainly knows how to push our buttons, particularly mine. A bit of a handful at times. Outside the home, Emily is a very different child to the strong willed Emily we have at home. She is often over-compliant and much too easily led. Sometimes she still struggles with initiating conversations with people she doesn't know well even when she would clearly like to. She allows herself to be bossed around way, way too much. Her frustration at being bossed around sometimes spills over, and she doesn't yet quite have a handle on how to react to it appropriately without being sulky towards the other person. So she could do with learning some more positive assertion skills. Yes, Emily has some problems/issues/difficulties. Who, honestly, of her age doesn't?

But perhaps I don't write often enough about how astonishingly honoured we are to be Emily's parents. We are so blessed to have her. We couldn't possibly wish for a more special daughter, and we wouldn't for a moment wish her any different to how she is, problematic "bits" and all. She's amazing company, very creative, hugely imaginative, intelligent and thoughtful, warm, funny, quirky and "weird" in the very best way, kind, generous and so loving that I think her heart must surely burst at any moment - but then just when we think we can't possibly be any more proud, she does or says something else that makes us just want to shout our pride from the rooftops :-))))

Well, we're set for another busy week next week. Lots more Christmas things to do, plus another cinema trip. Romy and Hazel are coming to join us for some yule celebrations next Friday, and Maisie is coming for the day on Saturday. Tomorrow evening we're all three of us off to a late night Christmas party at Jackie's house. It's all go!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hectic Weeks

It's been a busy old time at this end. Getting busier by the minute, in fact. Where did the first two weeks of December go?

In between rushing around Emily and I have done lots more crafty things. Emily made these beautiful Christmas figures, four painted and decoupaged wooden ones, plus the two red "tomte" Christmas girls which were cut from a pattern and stitched.

She has also been making lots of funky baubles out of recycled cards cut into circles and stapled/glued together, and she made a load of paper snowflakes for the festival tree too. And there are still dozens more crafty things in the pipeline - can't believe there's only one full week left to fit them in!

Friday last week was great fun; Jackie and her girls came over for the day and amid much gossiping (grown ups) and hide-and-seeking (girls) we painted various cling-filmed baking trays with paint mixed with pva glue, in the hope that it would have set by tomorrow, to be used in stained glass art. It has taken nearly all week to set, mind you, not the 24 hours it was supposed to take, but it's finally done, so tomorrow Emily and I will take the various now rubbery sheets over to Jackie's for stage two of the process. Should be interesting. Last week the girls also did some festive sewing, producing two lovely stuffed snowmen (Emily's is in the pictures above, hiding behind two wooden figures) and a stuffed penguin.

The weekend passed in yet another blur of deadline meeting. On Monday we went swimming, having missed a fortnight's worth of swimming due to the utter chaos that passes for daily life. Daddy carved time out if his workload to come with us and watch Emily demonstrating her newly acquired skills. He was very impressed and proud :-)) The last yoga lesson of the year was on Tuesday afternoon, although there's still the dress rehearsal for the play and the play itself on Sunday afternoon. On Wednesday afternoon we went for a lovely play at Romy's house, which was good fun. And isn't it cold?? It made me laugh yesterday morning - Emily woke up, took one look out of her window at the heavy frost, threw on her clothes and ran out to take pictures of the garden. While I sat smugly thinking of the parents and kids struggling through the icy roads to school while we could go out just because we *wanted* to, not because we *had* to. Although we do have lots of blossom on the cherry tree that Emily planted near Merlin's grave. Weird seasons.

This morning Emily should have gone to tai chi, but she woke up with a horrible temperature and raging sore throat, so that was out of the question. Ditto with our planned cinema trip this afternoon - although she's feeling quite a bit better now, and has made scrummy cranberry muffins this afternoon.
Fingers crossed then that Emily will be OK for Jackie's tomorrow, followed by the karate Christmas party on Saturday, followed by her karate grading on Sunday morning and then yoga play on Sunday afternoon.

Jon's being told off at every opportunity by his father at the moment, because he (Jon) hasn't yet chosen, sourced and bought all of Grandad's Christmas presents for everyone else, including himself. Yes. Grandad doesn't even bother to put any thought into what anyone would like, he just commands the whole thing done for him. We even have to wrap the bloody things up. Jon had literally only just walked off the top step into our study having come home from tai chi this morning, and was going to see how Emily was, when his father yelled up the stairs that he was waiting to go food shopping and how much *longer* was Jon going to be. Woe betide anyone who mixes up their priorities - Grandad comes first, poorly child or not. Mind you, as I've just returned from a horrible drive to pick up Grandad's prescription, which couldn't *possibly* wait even though he has enough medication for another fortnight, during which journey the car skidded nastily on an icy country road and gave me an awful fright - I'm not in the most benign of moods towards certain people just now.

On a more interesting note, on Monday night I went out in the dark to take a picture of some new garden lights I was trying out ahead of Emily's birthday party. Caught this weird mist on the first photo. Click on it for a better picture. One the second picture, taken seconds later, there's nothing there. It wasn't my breath because I then deliberately tried breathing in front of the camera to see if that could be it. It wasn't misty, and I hadn't seen the mist with the naked eye. Spooky!

And in other random pics, here are our three Big Cats in a rare "together" photo opportunity over the weekend when it was pouring with rain and they all wanted to go out - but didn't want to go out. Cassandra, Juliet and Romeo. Plus one of just Mr Pome and JuJu together as they looked so cute and brother/sisterly :-)

Plus here we have Voldemort playing with (and trying to eat) my plait - he has a thing about hair. Plus Voldemort demonstrating why it's hard to get much done at weekends - I sit staring at the screen waiting for inspiration to strike and help me write "stuff" to meet deadlines. And he sits there looking cute. Not distracting at all. And Severus, fighting with a ball of wrapping paper. Naturally. Both kibbies are doing very well. The shaven patches from their neutering are growing back very fast. Both are still desperate to go out. Grrrmpph.

Speaking of kibbies - Severus made friends with a cranberry this afternoon while Emily was cooking. In scenes extremely reminiscent of Romeo's Love Affair With a Sultana over two years ago, Sev absolutely loved that Cranberry. [Edit: I can't get the hang of linking to former blog posts. I've changed the link now so it points to October 05; for anyone interested, the Romeo/Sultana epic is about a third of the way down the page on October 23rd. And my word, don't Romeo and Juliet look sweet as kittens still!) Unfortunately, Sev's cranberry was lost beneath a skirting board before I had a chance to grab the camera and document the touching scenes. Never mind Sev. The rest of the cranberries had already been sacrificed in the muffins. We'll get you another one soon, promise.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Crafting Away, Movie-Going and A Shoe Dilemma

Took Voldemort and Severus to the vets on Tuesday to be neutered. Brought them home on Tuesday afternoon pretty groggy still, but extremely purry to be home. I was expecting them to have had a little bit of one front leg each shaven, which they did have, but I wasn't expecting to see a large part of their necks/chests shaven. I didn't even notice it until we got them home, as they were curled up in the carry basket when I got them. Don't know what that was for. Never mind, it's already growing back well. Being without their "bits" hasn't really calmed them down much, lol. They're still completely manic and *desperate* to be allowed out. We're trying to hold out at least until after Christmas, even if we don't make it past Emily's birthday. I have visions of some local yob deciding his girlfriend wants a black kitten for Christmas. They're staying in for now.

Apart from V.E.T. day, we've been having another busy week. With the rain we've been having, we finally decided we had to do something about the Emily Shoe Situation. At the moment (and for much of the last year!) she's been living in beach shoes and croc type shoes, as we couldn't find any decent shoes or even trainers to fit her. The lack of shoes wasn't that much of a problem until now. Anyway, we were snowed under with work, so my Mum and Dad took Emily into Scunthorpe shoe shopping. Her feet were measured as a 3H. Blimey. Knew she needed a wide fitting, but we didn't know it was that wide. None of the shoe shops had anything in that width. Literally nothing. Not even one pair.

Emily came home very disillusioned, so we started to search online. Found hardly anything there either, certainly nothing that she remotely liked. Apparently, the problem is that the D, E, F and G width fittings are made using the same manufacturing plate, but for H fittings it involves a different plate, which of course isn't cost effective for the manufacturers. Never mind the kids, eh? Apparently, as the comments under this article show, we're not alone in having problems finding decent H width shoes :-(( Nana and Gramps are going to take Emily to Lincoln next week to try the shops there, but not with any huge hopes of success. This hasn't done a lot for her self-image, the poor baby :-(

Took Grandad to the diabetic clinic yesterday. They had his notes (yay!) and there was only a small delay for his appointment. He and I saw a very, very nice doctor. Let's say his ethnic origin was not white British. Grandad didn't like him. What a surprise. The doctor patiently explained, several times over since Grandad always pretends he can't understand an accent, that there had actually been an improvement in his blood sugar readings. This is good. Less good is that he's gained nearly a stone in weight since last time - even though, as he huffily told said doctor, he "hardly eats anything". Even less good is that his blood pressure is up. The doctor explained to him that it's really important to lower the blood pressure in order to prevent his kidney function deteriorating further. He said he would write to Grandad's GP with some treatment suggestions and that we should go and see the GP in the New Year about it. I thought it was a very helpful, positive meeting. Grandad said it was a waste of time, the doctor doesn't know what he was talking about and that there's nothing wrong with his blood pressure or his diet. So. He's nothing if not predictable.....

We went to see The Golden Compass today. Shouldn't have done really, as we were still snowed under with work and deadlines, but what the heck. Emily and I got in free thanks to our nectar points, which I was chuffed about. We still have enough points for another three adult/child cinema trips. The film was great! I really enjoyed it. I hadn't read the book, although Emily had given me an overview of the plot before we went. She loved it too, but I was fascinated listening to her on the way home telling me about the way they'd changed the order of some of the plot for the purposes of the film, and about all the bits they'd missed out. I imagine some of the film would have been quite frightening for younger children - I'm at a loss as to why it was a PG when, for instance, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a 12A. They should have both been the same rating (whichever one) imo. In fact HP was probably less worrisome for small kids than the Northern Lights is. But then cinema certificates have always been a bit of a mystery to me! Anyway, Emily and I are both keen to find out what happens next. Father Christmas is aware of this and may well be facilitating said wish with a Subtle Knife book delivery on Christmas Day ;-)

In our spare moments this week, we've completely gutted Emily's room for one heck of a clear out, and have moved her dolls house and some other items back in there. Quite a lot of items, in fact - we needed to clear space in our big landing area (which is supposed to be Emily's play area and is in fact, loving called "The Dollshouse room" by everyone in the family, lol) because Nana and Gramps had bought Emily a lovely canvas wardrobe. She's never had a wardrobe before - all her clothes have had to be stuffed into a chest of drawers because her bedroom's too tiny for a wardrobe. But since we have plans next year to completely revamp the big landing (which is about three times the size of her bedroom) and turn it into a proper, enclosed room for her, the wardrobe is living there now. Very nice it is too. Emily now has an empty chest of drawers which she can use for her huge tape and CD collection. She's looking forward to painting the plain canvas wardrobe next year to match whatever theme she decides on for her new room :-))

We've also been "tinsellating" madly and doing a lot more crafts. Among other things, we'v made some lovely little dry felted robins for Emily's yule tree, some more white angels, and Emily's dressed her Yule festival figures - the mother Goddess giving birth to the Sun and the winter God in his snowflake cloak. I know it's a bit early for Yule, but last year we didn't get to do half of what we wanted to do because everything was so rushed, so we're doing all our crafts and things bit by bit this year.

Some other random piccies:
This is Severus with his toy of the moment - a mince pie case, lol. He carried it around and played with it almost non stop the other day.

This also Sev, in his most favourite place in the world, i.e on Jon's shoulder. Whenever he possibly can, he snuggles right up to Jon's face, nuzzling at him really, really hard - it's so adorable! Sev Sev is definitely a Daddy's boy :-)
This is Severus yet again in a remarkable moment - with a sleeping Juliet! Close to miraculous. To be fair, he didn't get up there by himself - Emily put him there. And Juliet woke up seconds after this picture was taken and was, um, not very pleased. But it's cute.
Here's JuJu in a nest of tinsel she found, too.

Next up is Voldemort having a cuddle:....and Voldy in a new home, lol!
And finally, a beautiful Barbie dress Emily made all by herself when I was out at the clinic with Grandad. She's getting really good at this sort of thing :-)