Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friends, Accidents & A New Colour Scheme

An eventful few days! We've had three accidents in three days, for a start. First of all, Emily hurt her neck on the trampoline late on Thursday. :-( On Friday, Voldemort got his paw/claws completely tangled in the trampoline netting, couldn't get himself out and was twisting his paw and shoulder horribly and screaming in pain :-( Jon dashed to rescue him with scissors to cut him free, but he finally managed to free himself just as Jon got there. He was quite shaky afterwards; I think it must have hurt a lot. Here he is curled up with brother Severus shortly afterwards; Sevvy was so affectionate and loving towards him, bless him.Then today, Emily missed her footing climbing on to the trampoline and ended up with a very, very long and painful scrape right down her thigh, which drew blood and has turned a most fetching shade of purple :-(

Being in the wars aside, we've had a nicely sociable few days. A friend and her daughter and enchantingly gorgeous baby boy came to see us on Thursday and the two girls seemed to have a very lovely play, while we had a very interesting chat. On Friday Jacki and her girls plus Natalie arrived for the day amid the usual fun'n'frolics, with much trampolining and play-writing. Jacki's been extremely ill recently and was waiting for a final diagnosis at an appointment late on Friday afternoon, so we adults were rather on tenterhooks about that; she rang us as soon as she got home from the appointment though with the somewhat fabulous news that although her condition is serious, it's entirely treatable :-)))

Today I've been working away at ebay while Jon has been busy in the garden, planting some trees, loads of flowers, putting together an archway and sorting out some hanging baskets. Emily, bless her heart, has spent all day (apart from the traumatic trampoline incident...) working on props for the play she's writing for herself, Mei Lin and Jasmine. She's made three lots of cat tails, three sets of ears on headbands and a huge tree to be the sky oak which features in her scenes. Next Friday when it's our turn to go to Jacki's, the three girls are all going to act out each other's plays, and I'll video them. Much excitement about that, lol. Here's the playwright at work.
This evening we've finally got to grips with our plans for redecorating our main bedroom. Tomorrow, after Emily's karate grading, we're off out to buy the paint, new lampshades, bedside tables, some wall hangings, fabric to make new curtains, etc. We're dedicating Mon/Tues/Weds next week to finally getting it all done. We've started peeling off little bits of wallpaper; it's quite alarming how "clean" the bit underneath the adhesive border was compared to the rest of the wall!! The bright/clean purple/green strip in the middle is what was underneath the border, the yukky green wallpaper and mucky purple paint effect is what we were living with. Ahem. Mind you, it is ten years since I originally decorated it, when I moved up here and Jon was still in Berkshire having to work out his notice.
We've also been writing all over the wallpaper. As you do. We're going to go for cream walls, but with blocks of rich red and purple, with the soft furnishings/accessories also in reds and purples. The alcove that is currently a huge wardrobey area will become Jon's little spiritual retreat place and we're looking forward to ripping up the carpet and enjoying the bare floorboards, moving all the furniture around and generally making it feel like new. We desperately need a new bed, but the budget won't stretch that far this month, so we'll have to wait until the end of May for that.

The joint factors of disruption/chaos/expense have seen us put off this decorating for months now, but it's finally happening, lol. Can't wait now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

All Kinds of Fun Stuff

Emily took some very cute pictures of Voldy and Sev this afternoon, up at the top of the trampoline netting. Here's Voldemort lying up there (he stays up there for *ages* just lounging!) and Severus showing off his tightrope walking skills. It's very high up. They love it. I'm less keen, myself - it's OK if they jump down onto the trampoline itself, but it's a hell of a height if they decide to jump down the outside instead. I try not to look!

We've had a good week all round. Yesterday afternoon Emily and I went swimming and had great fun racing each other to a giant float we were pushing around the pool. I'm sure some of the adults present felt my behaviour was most unbecoming. Good.

Yesterday morning Jon did tons of biology with Emily, which she lapped up with great enthusiasm. They looked at the seven signs that show something is alive; at the parts of a plant; invented and drew/labelled their own imaginary plants; pressed some plants; looked indepth at animal vs plant cells and drew more diagrams.

Monday morning Emily and Daddy planted lots of stuff in the garden, including lettuce, beetroot, onions, celery, cabbage, potatoes and carrots in the bit of vegetable patch Grandad has allowed Emily to have. Daddy and Emily both did Reiki on the young plants together, lol. Mind you, that didn't stop Grandad from wanting to pour cold water over things yet again and giving them a lecture about how it's too early to plant this, that wasn't done right, that shouldn't be there, that wouldn't survive, blah, blah, blah. The shame of it is that he is a very experienced gardener and no doubt there's a huge amount Emily could learn and enjoy learning from him. But not with that attitude, thanks very much. She's no longer interested in what he has to say and I can't really blame her.
All through the weekend, Emily and Daddy worked in the garden too. Well, Daddy worked in the garden. Emily bounced. A lot. They've been clearing an area ready for a rock garden, which is taking shape nicely.

On Monday this week we went to Jacki's as normal for the psychic circle. Emily normally takes some bits and bobs with her to share on Mondays like art stuff and drawing pads and nintendo games, because the girls have to stay fairly quiet on Monday nights when the adults are trying to do meditations and so forth. This week though the three of them plus Alex apparently spent all night "having a great chat". For four hours?? Goodness. My little girl's growing up ;-)

We saw Jacki, Mei Lin and Jasmine on Friday too, when we went over to them for the day. Lots of English work ensued, with the girls each writing character studies and plot outlines for little theatrical scenes they're going to write. Each one will have three characters so that when they've written the scripts they can all three act in all of the scenes. They're very enthusiastic about that, lol. Emily's writing a fantastic Warrior Cats scene, about two cats from rival clans who fall in forbidden love. The third character is the one who finds out about their relationship and tries to warn them of the consequences. Warrior Cats are undergoing a huge revival of interest here, now that there are new books to read. Emily absolutely loves, loves, loves the series. The forbidden love across clans was inspired by the (heartbreaking!) relationship in Forest of Secrets between Graystripe and Silverstream. I've only read the first six books (first series). Emily and Jon are up to book 3 in the third series, and are eagerly awaiting new releases. I'm going to have to read series two and three (so far) to keep up with her imagination, lol!

What else have we been doing, let's see: Emily and I started our look at medieval history by learning about the rival claims to the throne which prompted the Norman Invasion. She has also been doing a lot of guitar practice and finally getting to grips with some of the times tables, thanks to lots of ball throwing and trampoling-whilst-shouting-out-numbers, lol.

I've signed up today to something that looks like a very interesting volunteer project: Proofreading for Project Gutenburg. It looks fascinating and probably something that I can get Emily to help with too. If you like good literature and feel like volunteering online, go and have a look!

Tomorrow we have friends coming for the day; Friday too we also have friends coming for the day, so Emily's a happy bunny on the social front too. Sunday is her next karate grading - time's going by so fast!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Let the Music Play

Had a big re-think on Monday. Another one! Decided that we could do with focusing on an objective, or set of objectives for Emily.

So, our objectives for the moment are: learn to play the guitar, start to learn the keyboard/organ, learn about classical music history/famous composers, focus on fitness, progress with latin and delve into medieval history. We've done so much science over the last couple of years that I think we can safely leave that for a little while in order to concentrate elsewhere. Until June, we're going to focus on the above. Plus a mountain load of arts and crafts.

We finally got my old guitar down on Monday and worked out how to tune it and Emily's child size one. Found my old classical guitar books from when I had lessons as a teenager too. I have to say that Emily's taken to it like a duck to water so far and is really, really enthusiastic. It's only been two days, but she's already learnt to read music for the basic e, a, d, g, b and e notes and is playing a couple of simple exercises/tunes using combinations of those. Her little guitar turns out to be absolute rubbish, however, and she's getting on much better with my full size one, so I'm using the little one, lol. Need to find a music stand for her from ebay, since at the moment she has the book propped up on the whiteboard and can't get close enough to read it comfortably.Yesterday we also started to learn about the history of classical music, using the Classic FM Friendly Guide to Music. Although the CD that goes with that is a bit lacking. Will have to try to go through our extensive but largely unlistened to CD collection to dig out examples of the different composers and styles. Anyway, we started off with learning about Hildegard von Bingen and about Gregorian chant, and Emily wrote a bit about that.

Yesterday morning we also did some geography, mainly labelling a UK map with the upland areas of the UK. Really wasn't as fascinating as it should have been, and that was what prompted the re-think. That plus something someone said to me at last night's psychic circle, about trusting my gut instincts more. I know what Emily needs in order to thrive both educationally and emotionally, but I always tend to over-analyse and second guess myself instead of just getting on with it.

Today has been lots more guitar, plus history. Emily wanted to do a quick look at the Celts before we move on to medieval history, so we watched a DVD during which she made extensive notes and sketches, bless her heart. Pretty good study skill that, I would have though, and one which she does instinctively, without the need for being "taught how to study" by a bored school teacher.

We've been focusing on incorporating more exercise into our daily lives for a while now, although Emily's trampolining for at least half an hour a day which surely must count for something. She and I lapsed with our yoga practice; must get back into that. I'm finding it hard to get motivated in our personal life just now - there's so much we need to do in terms of sorting out the house, but it's just overwhelming. Sigh. Need an injection of enthusiasm from somewhere.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Busy Times

Getting very behind here again. Life's been hectic recently on all kinds of fronts. Some random happenings have included absolutely THE largest spider I have ever seen outside a zoo, which happened to pop into the sitting room last week. Jon valiantly picked it up on a mop and let it loose in the garden. Two minutes later, Severus brought it back in and headed upstairs with it. When I shrieked at him, he dropped it and it started to make it's own way up. Ack. I'm afraid I instinctively squashed it. And boy did it make a mess. Ugh.

Beautiful rainbow photo Emily took at some point this last week. She's added photographer to her list of favoured careers. Fashion design is still the clear winner at the mo, but you never know!
Emily and I started making a very large sun and moon papier mache wall hanging/mobiley thing. Haven't painted it yet, but it's looking like it will turn out rather nicely. That was about the sum total of "education" this week, as it's been very hit and miss due to other things going on in life. Emily's had plenty of things to keep her busy though, so she's not complaining, lol! She's been helping Jon in the garden (amazing how much use you can be whilst bouncing on a trampoline...), writing stories, illustrating, researching prices on ebay and pondering sending a letter to Erin Hunter, author of the much beloved Warrior Cats series, with information about a new cat clan she's invented.

On Wednesday, Emily's friend Maisie came to us for a 24 hour sleepover. The girls had huge fun (and actually got *some* sleep - result!) although I was about ready to drop by the time it was all over at 10am on Thursday. Janette came back to dinner with us on the Wednesday evening, having dropped Maisie off in the morning, so it was a nice chance to catch up with all her news. Here are the girls with the obligatory midnight feast and doing lots of neopet-ing and nintendo-ing instead of going to sleep

I took Grandad to the hospital eye clinic on Thursday, which was apparently a waste of time, he says. I thought it was a constructive visit with a lovely lady doctor who was very kind and attentive. Funny, that. Jon went to the dentist on Friday and came back unexpectedly with one tooth less and in a great deal of pain :-( The dentist was supposed to have been fixing a crown he put on a few months ago which was already failing, but apparently he decided he couldn't fix it so turned to extraction instead. He's an absolute butcher, that one. Horrible man.

Voldemort and Severus have a new hobby - climbing right up to the top of the netting surrounding Emily's trampoline and tight-rope walking along it, before throwing themselves onto the trampoline itself. V.v.v.v.v.v.v funny, once you get over the shock of seeing it for the first few times. Romeo and JuJu look at them as if they're completley nuts. Gawd knows what matriarch Cassie Cat makes of it all. I have a load of cute cat pictures to post, but it will have to wait....

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Huuuuge Snowflakes!

It's snowing again. Started about 6.30 with the most enormous snowflakes I think I've ever seen; the garden was covered in about five minutes flat.

Naturally, we all had to go out in it. What else is snow for? Emily's had an absolutely horrible cold all week; this morning it was even worse, so she had to miss karate* but snow is a miraculous healer, so out she went ;-)
Now, it's all very nice, this snow and stuff. I'm not one to complain about some interesting weather for a change. But. Emily had a friend coming for a 24 hour sleepover at 10am on Wednesday, and we also have friends coming over for the day on Friday. Couldn't it have snown on one of those days instead so she has company for running around like a crazed loon?! On the other hand, I also have to take Grandad here there and everywhere else this coming week. For which snow would definitely NOT be an advantage. So perhaps I'd better be careful what I wish for......

*Actually, it turns out she didn't miss anything at all; within seconds of the time she and Jon would normally have left, George rang to tell us that Jacki was very poorly in any case, and he'd had to cancel karate. Which made Emily feel much better, knowing she wasn't missing anything, but her deciding not to go to karate is indicative of how poorly she's feeling, poor baby. Normally wild horses wouldn't keep her away.....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Runes and Pendulums

I'm a bit behind here, again. Not much point trying to recap on everything that's happened since my last post, and I'd never remember it all anway, but in some edited "highlights":

  • Emily did lots of encaustic wax painting, as chosen from "the list".

  • Microscope work was also chosen from the list, so we spent an afternoon finding out how microscopes work and examining all kinds of bits and bobs. Our one was finally classed as pretty useless, so we resorted to using Gramps' very old, very posh one. It's a beautiful item, all sealed away in its purpose solid wooden cabinet, complete with rusty old key. The cabinet's full of the old eyepieces, weird things that I couldn't begin to know what to do with, plus dozens of old slides from the time when I was a child. Emily particularly enjoyed looking at cat dandruff, hair, wax, feather, torn grass, soil, skin and the chip ripped from an old, expired credit card.

  • During last Monday's psychic circle, we tried a rune meditation where we each blindly chose one of George's runes and then meditated on its meaning. This was remarkably successful given that none of us had a clue what the meanings were just from looking at the symbols, as none of us were familiar with runes.

  • Tuesday evening was Emily's last yoga lesson. I went in to help with the party, which wasn't as horrid as I'd thought it was going to be. The teacher presented me with a huge bunch of flowers to say thank your my help over the years. Which was very sweet of her. And made me feel guilty for saying horrible things about here. But there you go.

  • We've also been to Tansy's first birthday party, which was good fun for all. Emily got to know a lovely friend who she's barely really ever had a chance to get to know before, and I likewise had a good chat with the Mum concerned, who I've also really not had much chance to talk with before :-))

  • One afternoon this week I showed Emily what George had taught us about pendulum dowsing. She got the hang of it immediately and I think she has a real flair for it. We did an experiment with a shell hidden under one of four cups and we eached dowsed to see if we could tell which cup it was under. Out of five turns, Emily got four spot on and the fifth one she was torn between two cups, one of which was the right one. I was impressed. Me? Ahem. I was only right once out of the five times, so less than I would have been with random guesswork alone. Cough.

  • The same afternoon, I also did a rune meditation with Emily. Again, her results were much more impressive than mine. Sulk.

  • Yesteday, we waved my Mum and Dad off to the caravan in St Bees for a while. I want to go! Now!

  • Also yesterday, Emily and I went off to Jacki's for the day. Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine had a fab time doing a fashion show and filming/photographing one another. So I gather, not that I saw hide nor hair of her for five hours after we got there. Meanwhile Jacki and I had fun debating the likelihood of Emily and Mei Lin eventually ending up at fashion college together....
  • Today I've been busy with press agency deadlines as usual. Jon's been painting the walls. Emily has been playing Civilisation on Gramps' computer downstairs (it doesn't like either of ours any more) and is now emerged in a re-read of Harry Potter Deathly Hallows. Karate tomorrow. Don't the weeks go by fast these days?