Wednesday, December 31

Missing in action...

..but now I'm back. We spontaneously extended our break and arrived home about 2 hours ago (so about 7pm, New Year's Eve instead of last Sunday). I have fed the children and put them to bed and I'm now unpacking (where did all the stuff come from?). Later I shall have a glass of something and see in the New Year with Tom. Then I shall sleep for about 12 hours (yeah, like that will happen).

Over the next couple of days I'lll read your comments and visit your blogs and write a post or two about our holiday break. Bet you can't wait.

I hope you all had a good Christmas, it's nice to be back.

Sunday, December 28

A green meme

I wasn't tagged but Solsticedreamer offered this meme to anyone who fancied doing here it is!

the rules are simple...
1. link to Green Meme Bloggers
2. link to whoever tagged you
3. include meme number
4. include these guidelines in your post
5. answer questions
6. tag 3 other green bloggers

  1. Name two motivations for being green - The terrifying mess we're making of our world and my children...and my children's children...need I go on?
  2. Name two eco-unfriendly items that you refuse to give up - My air conditioner and my laptop
  3. Are you at peace with, or do you feel guilty about no.2? - A little guilty but not enough to stop me using them both.
  4. What are you willing to change but feel unable to/stuck with/unsure how to go about it? - We have plans for water tanks and recycling grey water but it's a lot of work and expense, one day we will do it though.
  5. Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average? It's smaller.
  6. What's eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live? - We're rural and not close enough to schools/shops/work so must drive everywhere. Great kerbside recycling, good council with subsidies for solar hot water and recycling water.
  7. Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow you own? - Yes to all of those.
  8. Do you have a green confession? - No I don't.
  9. Do you have the support of family and/or friends? - Tom is an environmental scientist so that would be yes. Family and friends have similar philosophies.
Ok, I'm not passing this on, do it if you feel like it!

Saturday, December 27

I am an Ingrid!


You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.

  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.

  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.

  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.

  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level

  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people

  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life

  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor

  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others

  • * having aesthetic sensibilities

  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair

  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved

  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people

  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me

  • * expecting too much from myself and life

  • * fearing being abandoned

  • * obsessing over resentments

  • * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games

  • * are very sensitive

  • * feel that they don't fit in

  • * believe they are missing something that other people have

  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.

  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood

  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are

  • * support their children's creativity and originality

  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings

  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective

  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Friday, December 26

Are you still full?

.....or did you have Christmas pudding for breakfast this morning?

Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a Merry Christmas,
Solstice Greetings, Yuletide Blessings
and a
very Happy New Year!

Thank you to all my blog friends for
the entertainment,
laughs, tears, love, support, and kindness that
you have provided over the past year!

I'm looking forward to even more of it in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24

Christmas meme

Describe what goes on for you and your house and your family for Christmas:

My typical Christmas morning it depends where we are, but if we are at home, the children wake and make a lot of excited noise. We come through and make coffee for Tom and I and hot chocolate for the girls. The present opening commences with lots of happiness and the taking of many photos. When that is finished we clean up all the paper and make a special breakfast - I like Kedgeree on Christmas morning but we vary it. We then eat and relax and enthuse about our gifts. If we are at someone else's house (my in-laws or my sister's) it's similar but with more people and less kedgeree.

The best thing about Christmas is the girls' faces when they see the tree surrounded by presents on Christmas morning...I know it's a cliche but really, that is it for me...their happy little faces.

The worst thing I have already told you about

My Gift-giving philosophy is to try to give something that will give the recipient pleasure and is something they wouldn't buy themselves. I don't like giving 'useful' presents. It should be a little bit of luxury.

Shopping destinations - I love to shop online, if I can't I cry a little then go to the 'big shops'.

Budget - Yes, we have one and usually try to stay within it...give or take.

Receiving gifts is a bit of a chore. I have a husband who DOES believe in useful gifts...that's why I get things like casserole dishes and cheese graters. I have to be careful mentioning something I want during the year because he stores that information and tries to please me by presenting it to me on Christmas morning when I try to look pleased and sound grateful. So while everyone else is reading a new book and listening to a new CD I am grating cheese. Note: it was a very fancy and expensive grater...but still a grater.

Decorations are minimal. A tree, a table centre, a beautiful red velvet Mage.

Theme - No, my Mum did themes, it seems like too much work for me.

The tree is small but with lots of lights - I like lots of lights (clear ones though they must be clear, not coloured) . It has a mix of old and new decorations (some from when I was a child) and some decorations the girls have made. It's very pretty.

My decorating wish is a bigger tree.

The menu - We'll be at the beach house for present opening so perhaps kedgeree for breakfast? Lunch is at my in-laws farm, my MIL always over-caters so there will be ridiculous amounts of food - always the traditional Christmas fare.

The vibe - depends who you are, children are excited, some adults are exhausted, others are...ahem..merry. Me? I don't have a vibe.

Your best timesaver tips - Keep it simple - one dessert is enough (ok, maybe two).

The wow factor is not getting a cheese grater.

Preparing for guests is someone elses job because this year WE are the guests.

On the day after Christmas I'll be...hiding at the beach house, probably gazing woefully at a new Dustbuster and generally just glad it's over. I'll also be looking forward to coming home.

Tuesday, December 23

I stole a meme...

....from Blackbird

Things you've already done: bold

Things you want to do: italicize

Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. Two in fact.

2.. Slept under the stars. Yes, but it's not one of my favourite things to do.

3. Played in a band - or musical. I use to play Celtic harp...but not in a band or musical.

4. Visited Hawaii. It's not on my list.

5. Watched a meteor shower. Yes.

Given more than you can afford to charity. All the time.

Been to Disneyland/world. Not my thing.

Climbed a mountain. Yes, well walked up a mountain actually...and not a very big one but still a mountain.

9. Held a praying mantis. Good God in heaven NOOOOOOO!!!

10. Sang a solo (in the shower). Probably.

11. Bungee jumped. That's a definite NO.

Visited Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. From the shore? Does that count? If so, yes.

Taught yourself an art from scratch. I'm an impatient person, I can't wait to take the course so I teach myself just about everything.

15. Adopted a child. No

16. Had food poisoning. Yes, yucky.

Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. No. I would like to get to the top but I don't want to WALK, isn't there a lift?

18. Grown your own vegetables. Yes, with varying success

Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Yes, several times.

20. Slept on an overnight train. Yes, a few times, never the Orient Express though.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitchhiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Well of course I have, it's called a 'mental health day'.

Built a snow fort. Snow MEN, snow ANIMALS even a snow WOMAN once...but never a snow FORT..why a fort...boring.

Held a lamb. Lots.

26. Gone skinny dipping. Getting a bit personal now.

27. Run a Marathon. Oh Puh-lease....

Ridden a Gondola in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run. What is that?

Been on a cruise.

Seen Niagara Falls in person.

Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. I was born in the birthplace of my ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community. No, but sometimes during a power cut I pretend I'm Amish.

36. Taught yourself a new language. I have 'taught myself' a little of a couple of languages, never the whole thing (I went to University for that) so I have only put half of it in bold.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. I'm not sure what this means? Satisfied with what? I've been satisfied when having very little money and dissatisfied when having more money.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing. I use to regularly climb.

Seen Michelangelo’s David.

Sung karaoke., I'm really not a Karaoke kind of girl.

Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. No, but a colleague of mine regularly did a good impression of it.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. I've given a stranger money to buy a meal.

44. Visited Africa.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. I only had a broken collarbone for goodness sake, I didn't need an ambulance!

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Quite a lot about Paris in this meme.

51. Gone scuba diving or
snorkeling. Snorkeling once with Tom and I was so terrified and freaked out it was a disaster.

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud. Does gardening count?

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Yes, not a fan.

55. Been in a movie. I was in Gone with the Wind. (how honest do I need to be here?)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. Alas, yes.

Taken a martial arts class. I'd quite like to learn a martial art.

59. Visited Russia. Oh yes please!.

Served at a soup kitchen. Not yet.

Sold Girl Scout Cookies.

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. No, they won't take mine.

Gone sky diving. I have absolutely no desire to do this. EVER. NOT EVER, do you hear me?

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. No. I won't be either.

Bounced a check. Oops, it was an accident...honest!

Flown in a helicopter. Loved it.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Yes, I still my koala...Simon is his name.

Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar.

72. Pieced a quilt.

Stood in Times Square.

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job. Not yet, but I'm thinking about firing myself from my business - I'm crap.

76. Seen the changing of the guard in London. Very nice.

77. Broken a bone. Wrist and collarbone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Once, that was enough.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book. Only an e-book. I've had a couple of short stories and several articles published.

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible. I've read lots of bits of it though.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox. Very badly when I was 15...I have the scars to prove it.

89. Saved someone’s life. I haven't, but it's not italicised because really, is that something you'd WANT to do? I'd rather not be in that situation but if I ever am I shall make every attempt to save the life in question.

90. Sat on a jury. I did get called for jury duty but didn't have to sit on the jury in the end. Yay!

91. Met someone famous.

92. Joined a book club. I don't like being told what to read.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby. Two of them.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. Not THE great salt lake, but A great salt lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee

I wonder why there are only 99? Why not just add another and make it a nice round 100?

I stole this meme so if you need something to blog feel free to steal it from me.

Monday, December 22


Due to the wonders of modern technology you are reading this while I am on holiday. Clever isn't it?

That is assuming my scheduling worked. And that I am actually on holiday and didn't have to cancel it all due to lack of interest. And that you are here reading the blog.

I should be about 2 hours into the journey. I'm probably sick of listening to The Wiggles by now and just about ready to cut my own throat. However, the beach house is getting closer and soon we will be there and then we can unpack the car, put up the makeshift Christmas tree and open a bottle of red.

Good times.

Sunday, December 21

Packing and preparing

Today will be spent sorting, organising and packing for our week at the beach house. I have about 20 lists (I'm a list maker) but the only thing I'm really worried about is forgetting a vital Christmas present and having a child think Santa has let them down.

We have a quiet week planned down there, the girls will spend a couple of days with their Grandparents and I intend to spend much of the time lying around reading interspersed with the occasional beach walk. Thursday will be the obligatory family Christmas lunch then back to the beach house for more relaxing.

Oh and there's some cricket thing happening too, my job is to provide crayons and throw shrimps at a barbie apparently.

During my absence there will be a few random posts scheduled all over the place to keep you guessing. Unfortunately as there is no internet connection where I am (not even a phone...what bliss!) I will be unable to visit my favourite blogs so you'll get a break from my comments. I will catch up on our return though so you're warned.

Saturday, December 20


My Gran was an amazing woman. She was born in Scotland in 1918 and although I'm sure those were difficult years between the wars she always spoke fondly of her childhood, her parents, particularly her father, and her brothers and sisters.

During the war my Grandfather was in the Navy, stationed at Scapa Flow, like so many women during those war years she went to work and did a job that in any normal circumstances (in those days) a woman wouldn't have done. Of course the men were all at war so someone had to do the work so she went to work in a munitions factory, driving a forklift. I remember the first time I heard that I was amazed and proud of her. She was such a 'lady' the idea of her driving a forklift was incongruous to say the least. Her whole life my Gran wouldn't even wear trousers because she felt they weren't feminine, when driving a forklift she had to wear overalls.

She had two children, my Mum and my Aunt. Here she is with them both, this photo is inscribed on the back 'To my darling, with all my love, Mary xxx'. It was a photo she sent to my Grandfather during the war.

Like many of her generation she had very high standards and strict rules about behaviour. My Mum and Aunt always talked about how strict she had been. She wanted the best for both of them and they were provided with a loving and stable home life, despite all the rules. This is my Gran and Grandfather, Mum (on the right) and my Aunt Marlene (on the left) attending a family wedding.

She mellowed by the time her grandchildren came along, I only remember her actually telling me off once...and since I'd just spilled the contents of a cod liver oil capsule all over one of her silk scarves she was probably justified. In every way she was the perfect grandmother, kind, loving and generous. We were very lucky. Here she is holding me...

As a family we spent a lot of time together, I loved going to Grans, partly because I knew I'd be spoiled the whole time we were there but always because she was such a pleasure to be with. Over the years I learned a lot from her, I can't make macaroni cheese without thinking of her, she taught me how to make a proper cheese sauce using a roux. I still can't make it as well as she could though.

In later years she was delighted to become a Great Grandmother, sadly - due to the distance - she didn't meet my or my sister's children but she did know some of her other Great Grandchildren and spoiled them just as much. This was taken at her 80th birthday party.

She had her share of sadness, the death of my Grandfather in 1986, then her youngest daughter, my Aunt was lost to breast cancer in 1987. She adored my father, her son-in-law, and was devastated by his death in 1997. I think the final straw was the loss of my mother, also to breast cancer. Gran never recovered from that and withdrew from the world and from life, we spoke on the phone and my sister and I both travelled to Scotland on a couple of occasions to see her and there were visits my cousins (who still lived near her) but it became obvious that she'd lost interest in life. She loved us all, but she had suffered so much pain and grief it was hard for her to keep going with any enthusiasm. She still lived alone and was determined to do that as long as possible, she wasn't interested in sheltered housing 'with all those old people' as she put it.

She had shown signs of dementia for a number of years and it was gradually getting worse. About 12 months ago she went into a nursing home, it was no longer safe for her to live alone. We couldn't speak to her by phone anymore, she didn't know anyone and the only person she was looking for was her own mother. We sent cards and gifts and she had no idea who they were from. Finally on 16th December at 7.20am she passed away. The distance and the lack of direct communication with her did not diminish in any way the love and connection that myself and my sisters felt for her. She was our Gran...still a vital part of our lives and the last connection with that part of the family, especially our Mum. The greatest comfort for me is knowing, absolutely, that she is now with her loved ones, reunited with her own children.

The best tribute I can offer is to share a little bit of her with you and to make sure that my own children know about her and the life she lived, so she will always be real presence in their lives too.

Wednesday, December 17

My Gran

Mary Cameron
30 April 1918 ~ 16 December 2008

We're heading for the nuclear shelters... least that's what I thought when I happened to pop out to the shops this morning. I needed to do a quick run to the bank and the supermarket. First of all I couldn't find a parking space for about 10 minutes (unheard of where I shop) then I had to battle through crowds and dodge crazy parking idiots who seem to forget all the road rules as well as common courtesy when negotiating their way around a car park.

The bank was pretty quiet (no-one has any money left probably) but the supermarket was insane...what are people buying? It's still a week and a day until Christmas! It will all be stale and off by then! Also, why do people need to buy so much, the shops are only closed for one day (and even then some little 7-11 grocers are still open in case of emergency. I cannot understand why everyone is stockpiling! Do they know something I don't know? It's madness!

Anyway, I did my banking, did a little shopping, came home and ate some Terry's Chocolate Orange...I needed the calming effect of chocolate.

That's been my day...what did you do?

Tuesday, December 16

Unplanned renovations

Remember I mentioned that I was planning to put up the Christmas tree on Sunday? Hannah had a birthday party to go to that day and I said we'd put up the tree when she came back. In the afternoon, while she was gone, I started to organise the furniture to accommodate the tree. I happened to mention to Tom that we really should have moved the piano as we've been planning to do for a few weeks. 'Well, let's do it now!' he said. 'Ok!' I enthusiastically cried.

Later, after we'd removed two doors and a built in cupboard to get the piano to it's new location, I nearly had a little cry.

Everything from that cupboard was piled on our bed. The office was in turmoil, there were tools over all over the floor, the tree wasn't even close to being put up and the children were whining about that and the fact they hadn't been given dinner yet.

'Shut up' I said. And they did.

Since then things have been tidied up, the tree is decorated and looking lovely, the children have recovered from the slight malnutrition they suffered on Sunday and I'm getting better with some counselling.

And I'm really glad that cupboard has gone, it was an eyesore.


Sunday, December 14

Nothing exciting to report...

...shocking I know! Yesterday I had a two hour nap...TWO HOURS!!! Then I ate dinner, watched a DVD and went to bed! I may have sleeping sickness.

Today I made a feeble attempt at sorting through the year's worth of art work that came home from school on Friday. I seem to be just shifting piles of it around various locations. I wish I could resolve the 'art work' issue. My children are obsessively attached to their work and they are the most unbelievably artistically prolific children I have ever met. They draw, paint or create daily...and never just one...oh no, it's always several pieces. I don't want to spoil the fun, but really there just is not room for all this art! Where in God's name can I put it all? I can only dispose of it by stealth, always leaving a few behind hoping they may not notice. They do though. I've tried offering to photograph it all for posterity and just keep it on a special disc. They're not buying that though. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be grateful.

Later today we will put up the Christmas tree. I haven't done it yet because a) I've been too busy b) I don't like putting it up too early (I get sick of looking at it) and c) we're heading to the beach house next weekend so I wasn't sure there was much point. Apparently that is very un-Christmassy of me and we can't get into a Christmassy frame of mind without the I've relented and we'll do it this afternoon. We'll also do a smaller version at the beach house so Father Christmas knows where to leave the presents. Two tree decorating sessions, yes that's sure to get me in a Christmassy mood. Or some kind of mood anyway.

Friday, December 12

No more pencils, no more books...

....I won't finish that little rhyme because I won't make derogatory comments about teachers on this blog (after all I was one myself) and also because I would hate to offend Cathy. Also I love teachers. Especially teachers I know (like Cathy) and my daughters' teachers.

Have I sucked up enough?

Ok, on with the show. It is now officially the SUMMER HOLIDAYS!!!!

As you can see from this picture taken 5 minutes ago.

I picked up the girls today and attended the short 'end of year' assembly (not the official one, that was last week - just a quick 'have a great summer' type assembly). It gives the kids the opportunity to do the official countdown to the final bell and make a lot of noise and get thoroughly worked up with excitement before sending them home with their parents - some kind of teachers' revenge I think.

During this assembly one of Hannah's classmates was invited to get up and tell everyone about the school's under 10 cricket team. He looked a bit bewildered for a minute then got up and said 'well....we've lost every match so far'. Apparently they can never score more than 60 and the other teams always score more than 100 (that still seems like a lot of goals to me). He got a big round of applause anyway.

We are home and have cleaned out the school bags and stored them away until next year. I now have a mountainous pile of art work that has come home with the girls as well school books and numerous sets of pencils and felt tips. It's fantastic because I was hoping for some more clutter just before Christmas.

Thursday, December 11


Well would you look at that, sit down at my desk on Monday and the next time I look up it's Thursday. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, I haven't been sitting at my desk constantly. It just feels like it. I am, however, happy to report that I'm making progress. At this rate I will be able to drive off to the beach house in a week or so with a clear conscience and not have to take any work with me. Huzzah!

There was a slight disturbance in The Force yesterday though. While I sat here frantically busily writing a very important article about business plans (exciting no?) I received an email from my sister. In this email she conversationally commented that she had gone Christmas shopping and tried to buy a particular gift for someone only to find that it was out of stock. Everywhere. EEEEEK!! I suddenly realised that a couple of things the girls have asked Father Christmas to bring are quite popular at the moment. The other day Aislin asked me if I thought Father Christmas would really bring the present she had asked for. I said 'of course he will, you've been such a lovely, kind and generous girl how could he not?'. Oops. I'll tell you how he could not...if Target are out of stock that's how! OH NO!!! I leapt from the desk and headed immediately to the shops. Then a kerfuffle of mammoth proportions ensued including visiting a number of shops and me almost rugby tackling anyone in my path to get the last two sets of something called Beados (don't ask, I don't know) from the shelf. The 'main' presents have also been secured, I won't go into details, but trust was touch and go there for a while.

I also discovered that several days of non-stop (more or less) working at the desk creates something in the laundry called a 'bloody-great-mountain-of-clean-washing-that-needs-to-be-folded-and-put-away'. I only know this because Hannah went to look for clean socks on Monday night and finally emerged from the pile on Wednesday morning after which she gave a full report of the anomaly. I dealt with it last night. Very late last night.

Anyway, now I'm back at my desk. Still working. Blogging a tiny bit. And not reading blogs at all. Sorry my best blogging friends, I'll be there soon to catch up missed posts and leave inane as usual coming soon to a blog near you.

Thank you for not giving up on me.

Monday, December 8

Assistant wanted!

I am inundated with work at the moment, unfortunately this huge amount of work is not income producing - it's that kind of preparatory work that one hopes will lead to income. I have a 'to do' list as long as Santa's and I think I need an assistant.

Any takers? The pay is crap (well non-existent actually) but I'm nice to work for and make a lovely cup of tea and there may be the occasional bun to go with it. No?

I will try to do at least a token post every day...they may not be the fascinating and absorbing pieces of literary magic you've become used to reading here, but at least you'll know I'm still alive...sort of.

And you can always pop by and just read the archives.

Saturday, December 6


Someone...someone who is apparently a friend....called me 'The Grinch' yesterday. No, not because I'm green (I'm not) but because I don't care much for the festive season. There I was, enjoying a pleasant email exchange with my friend (let's call him Nic for that is his name) and as we arranged to 'catch up' (don't you hate that expression? I do) I happened to make a comment about Christmas and how much better I'd feel when it was over and in his reply he called me 'Grinch'.

Now as I recall this Grinch character is very angry with the local townspeople (The Whos of Whoville) because they treated him badly particularly around the Christmas season. He is angry and vengeful. This is not me. I bear no grudges to anyone at Christmas time (or any other time really). I am not The Grinch.

Neither am I Scrooge. He was miserly and lonely and hated Christmas for those reasons (more or less). I am very generous at Christmas and I'm certainly not lonely, I have no problem with everyone having time off work, enjoying Christmas cheer, going to Mass, opening lots of presents and eating a big turkey dinner. I ensure my children have all the fun and excitement of Christmas and work hard to create a Christmas as magical and fantasy-laden as mine were as a child (and for most of my adult life for that matter). Santa letters are written, Christmas trees are decorated, advent and Christmas services are attended, snacks are left for Santa and the reindeer, we even have an elf that visits in the days leading up to Christmas leaving letters and chocolate coins. I do this for them and I never tell them that I'm not that keen on Christmas myself, I reserve that information for grown ups with whom I feel I can be honest.

So let me clear about this...I don't enjoy Christmas. I am not angry, vengeful, lonely or miserly. I didn't have terrible Christmas experiences as a child. I never received coal in my stocking or had to deal with family disputes during the Queen's Christmas message or endure slobbery kisses from Great Aunt Gertrude. There is no deep and troubled past causing me to find Christmas painful.

What is painful is that Christmas no longer holds my mother. She adored Christmas, my whole life I watched as she planned and made lists and cut out pictures and recipe ideas from magazines long before the day. She decorated the tree beautifully every year (sometimes with a theme) and gathered the family and cooked the most amazing Christmas dinners, she never failed to make Christmas special and magical and exciting. It wasn't just the hype either, she really loved Christmas and all it stood for. Her enthusiasm was contagious and as she was the centre of the family we all caught the bug. With her I loved Christmas. It's just not the same any more. Yes, I've heard all the platitudes about making Christmas my own now, carrying on her traditions and creating new traditions and experiences for my own family. I do that, but I do what has to be done to make it special for my children and I pray for it to be over. I'm not sad and sobbing into my mince pies (Mum hated soggy pastry) and I'm not tortured...I'm just indifferent.

Sorry to bring the mood down and everything but there you have it.

Oh and it's not lost on me that the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with me. 'Nuff said.

P.S. I also don't like all that consumerism but that's a whole different blog post. You're warned.

Friday, December 5

Concerts and stuff

It's been a busy couple of days, although not nearly as bad as last year. The school concert last night went well. A few hundred parents relatives and friends crowded into the school hall and the children came in one class at a time and gave their performances (there just wasn't room to have all the children in the hall too). It had been raining off and on all day and shortly after the concert began it really started to rain heavily. The noise of rain on the roof was so loud at times it drowned out the singing...which may have been a good thing. By the time we left there was a bit of flooding round the classrooms and people were dashing to their cars in the downpour.

This morning was the last assembly of the year and Aislin's class were leading it. Because the children hadn't been able to see each others performances we were subjected treated to another round of their songs. Then parents were invited to a morning tea, frankly I think we deserved cocktails. I wanted to come home because I'm tired and have had enough of school, but that seemed rude so I stayed for a cup of tea, socialised a bit and managed to resist the scones.

Next week is the last week of school and then we have the long summer holidays stretching before us. Looking forward to that, as long as it doesn't start the way it did last year.

Thursday, December 4

Cast away!!!

Cast away...bit of play on words there...cast....away....castaway....get it? Ahem.

Anyway, today was a big day, Aislin was back at the hospital to have the cast removed (we hoped). As it turned out that did happen although the doctor warned that the growth part of the bone may be affected but we won't know unless it gives her trouble so all is ok for now and she could have the cast off.

She was very nervous, wouldn't smile for the camera....she'd been able to hear the saw going from the waiting room and it was freaking her out.

The saw came out and the nurse assured her it couldn't cut skin and demonstrated by touching it then got me to touch it. I don't remember that being in the contract but I did it anyway. She began to cut and it was very noisy and Aislin was not happy, but stayed very still and quiet and didn't complain.

Then there were some big plier type things to prise the cast apart.

Then the cutting of the inner bandages......

.....and then it was gone.....

Apart from some funny looks from the nurse as I was taking photos (she obviously doesn't have a blog) everything went well. Aislin is limping slightly but that's more from stiffness and lack of use than pain. The doctor said she'll be fine in a couple of days.

She's now soaking in the bath, she's been longing to do that and has already been in there for about 45 minutes. I'm going to have to fight to get her out.

Tonight is the school Carol Concert. Every year we're encouraged to pack a picnic and sit on the school playing fields to hear the carols. Last year is was 35 degrees, 100% humidity and ended in torrential rain and a thunder storm. The year before the parents were all huddled in their picnic rugs it was so cold. Today it is raining and warmish with storms forecast. Should be a good night.

Wednesday, December 3

Sweet blog

A blog award with built-in tag from Lee at Solstice Dreamer - thank you Lee!!

7 things to do before I die

  • Finish the effing website
  • Own a Jag (S-type)
  • Spend a year or two back in the UK
  • Have my work published
  • Draw and paint more
  • Visit the Middle East
  • Live in a house I actually like
7 things I do now
  • Procrastinate
  • Read emails
  • Blog occasionally
  • Work
  • Sit at the computer too much
  • Stress out a lot
  • Complain about Christmas
7 things I can't do
  • Speak Italian
  • Domain map my website
  • Understand Wordpress
  • Sail
  • Paint in watercolour
  • Enjoy Christmas
  • Stop procrastinating
7 things I find attractive in the opposite sex
  • Sense of humour
  • Shared interests
  • Sense of adventure
  • Faithful
  • Spiritual
  • Supportive
  • Money (just kidding...kind of)
7 things I say most often
  • Be quiet!! (I hate noise)
  • Have we got any chocolate?
  • Have we got any wine?
  • F*&king Wordpress
  • Hurry up! (everyone is so slow around here)
  • I love you
  • I hate Christmas (well I do, shut up)
7 Celebrities I most admire (you've got to be kidding me!)
  • of crickets here....)
  • I dunno...Judi Dench? Is she a celebrity or just a good actor? I like her acting and she seems like a good person....but....admire??
  • Sorry can't do this one...
  • I don't admire 'celebrities' really, I appreciate some are good at what they do though.
  • Now if you'd just asked for people I tons of those...but none of them are celebrities.
  • ...but celebrities? Really?
  • Nah, sorry.
7 favourite foods
  • Chocolate
  • Wine (it is too a food)
  • Watermelon
  • Curry (all Indian food really)
  • Tea (it's a food as well ok?)
  • Coffee (don't even think it)
  • Cake (most kinds)

I'm so healthy.

Ok, so I'd like to pass this on to......

Moy@ Journal of my Life at Home

Cathy@ Love and Madness in Suburbia

Dave@whatever his blog is called this week

Miss R@ Tales of Inglewood

But remember!!!! No pressure, only if you have the time and the inclination.

Monday, December 1

Things I learned from NaBloPoMo

Well it's over, after a month of having daily blog posts hanging over my head like an unrelenting Sword of Demacles at last I can relax. I was going to treat myself to a day off today but I decided that bloggers all over the world are probably doing that and I hate to be predictable.

So what did I learn? Couple of things actually.

  1. I don't like the pressure. It's one thing to write a daily blog post because you want to, it's a totally different thing to feel you have to. Didn't like that. At all.
  2. There are actually more important things than blogging (didn't know that did you?) yes, it's true!
  3. (I know I said a 'couple' but I just thought of another) it is quite difficult to explain to people a) why you're doing NaBloPoMo and b) why you are determined to keep doing it even when you don't want to. They just don't get it and you know why they don't get it? Because they understand point two.

I actually found it quite difficult, it didn't help that I am very busy at the moment so it was always a case of finding some time to fit it in and there were a few occasions I was writing a post and feeling guilty because I wasn't doing something else I was meant to be doing. Now that is just silly.

So it's back to business as usual, I'll very likely be here most days, but not if I'm too busy or don't have anything to say. We'll be away for Christmas too and the beach house doesn't even have a phone, never mind an internet connection so there won't be any posts that week.

I won't be doing NaBloPoMo again.

Sunday, November 30

Two reasons to celebrate....

....the first and most obvious is that I have completed NaBloPoMo!! Huzzah!!

It is also St Andrew's Day (he is the patron saint of Scotland) and Scotland's National Day. We shall celebrate by holding a Ceilidh, having a wee dram and eating a big plate of haggis. Not really. I have no haggis unfortunately.

Of course just as Christmas is not about presents but about Jesus, St Andrew's Day is not just about Scotland. It's about this man and it would be wrong not to acknowledge that.

Saturday, November 29

More pageantry

Last night we attended the local Christmas Pageant. The girls were participating with their school. Their theme was 'Summer' or something and they had to dress in hula skirts and wear Leis and flowers in their hair, despite the fact it was freezing cold and raining intermittently and really not very summery at all.

The girls looked sweet (if a little strained, they're wearing so many layers they can hardly move).....

....but 'horse man' was just weird and creepy.

There are more photos but with my dodgy internet connection I'm not willing to risk it.

Today we are resting, it's been a busy week with one thing and another and I think I see a lot of lazing around in the immediate future.

Thursday, November 27

3 posts to go....

....after this one that is...until the end of NaBloPoMo. I think I'm going to make it!

I haven't got much to report today, I had a big fight with Wordpress with whom I am trying to start a relationship. It was so good in the beginning, I was full of hope that things would work out between us. Sadly, today our future does not look bright. Wordpress was full of potential but he's (it is male I'm sure of it) a bit too high maintenance for someone of my limited web design and HTML skills (not to mention patience). Why can't they make changing things on it as easy as it is on the blogs? I didn't think I was asking too much, my needs are simple, but it seems it is not to be. So I think it's over. I'm trying not to be bitter.

Not much else happening, tomorrow is busy, the girls are in the local Christmas pageant with their school and my in-laws are arriving for a short visit. It will be a busy day. I'd better post early, I'd hate to miss one at this late stage.

Wednesday, November 26

Thank you!

To everyone who wished me happy birthday by email, e-card, Facebook, Twitter, telephone, on their blogs and in person. I feel very special.

Hannah and Aislin put the candles on the cake, there are 22 on there.

I wish.

Tuesday, November 25

Sweet things

A little taste of home....

...and cake....I wonder who it's for?

Monday, November 24

You'll need a magnifying glass for this...

Well, here's something I never thought I'd see in my Inbox (you'll have to click on it).

Or this....(sorry click again)

And yes, they are the real ones. However they're not my new best friends or anything, both of them are also following about a million other people (and each other), I think they just follow out of politeness.

Which is very nice of them.....or their lackies

Sunday, November 23

Sunday in pictures

We all had a nice day and are suitably tired but happy.

There was also a birthday pavlova provided by my sister-in-law, it wasn't around long enough to photograph.

Just a reminder for anyone new to this blog, I spoke here about my reasons for watermarking photos of my (and other people's) children on this blog. Just in case you think I'd suddenly imagined myself Annie Liebovitz.

As I mentioned in the post that I linked to, help yourself to anything you like, I'm not that precious - they are words and pictures - not that important in the grand scheme of things and I certainly don't have any delusions of talent that require me to copyright it all - but leave the children alone.

Saturday, November 22

Is it bedtime yet?

Well I haven't stopped all day and I'm exhausted. This morning they were fed, dressed and entertained for hours, we made paper bag puppets and had a competition for the best collage monster then I made a tuna pasta sauce and gave them it with pasta dinosaurs for lunch, they ate that and some fruit for dessert while I cleaned up the mess from all the craft.

Then Tom took over for an hour while I went and did the shopping and as I came back he left (it was planned, he wasn't running away at least I don't think he's running away - he assured me we'd planned this). I bathed the youngest (Lachlan) and cleaned up the toilet (don't ask), unpacked the shopping, made popcorn (real popcorn not microwave) and prepared apple juice drinks for all (no, I didn't squeeze the apples) and put on a movie for them (cheating I know). Then I set the chicken drumsticks to marinade, cut and seasoned potatoes to make wedges, put a load of washing on and unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded it with yet more dirty dishes.

I made myself a cup of tea and a piece of toast (it's 5pm and I haven't had lunch) and came through here, heaved a sigh and started to write this post and......Hannah came in and said 'Mummy, the movie is finished'. I looked at her for a moment, looked at my tea and toast, looked at my half written blog post and said 'want to watch another one?'. So off she went and put another movie on (don't judge me, I don't care). I turned back to the computer and heard a little voice saying 'oh no, not again'. Let's just say the youngest is back in the bath and I'm about to go and clean the toilet again. His aim really isn't very good at all today.

We do this child swap regularly (I've mentioned it before) and usually it's no trouble at all, the kids all get on well and pretty much entertain each other. They are, on the whole, polite, well mannered, undemanding children, however for some reason this time is testing me. Admittedly I'm doing most of it alone because Tom had other obligations this weekend (so he says) but even that doesn't usually worry me - I may not be the most domesticated woman on the planet but I'm actually quite capable (despite the way it may appear if you read this blog). Just not this weekend.

Anyway, tomorrow we are having a birthday afternoon tea when the boys' parents come to pick them up, Oliver, the oldest boy will be 7 on Monday and my birthday is on Tuesday so it's party sausage rolls and fairy bread (ick!) all round.

That's assuming I last the night.

And Dave if you point out any typos or spelling/grammatical errors today I'm going to jump in that teleport and come right over there and punch you on the nose. Or leave the children with you.

Friday, November 21

Stop, drop and have a gin and tonic

Today I had to accompany Aislin on a school excursion to the local CFS station. Something I was thrilled about as you can imagine. It's a 10 minute walk from the school but as Aislin is on crutches it was decided that she should be driven...normally the Principal or another staff member would drive her but that couldn't happen today so it was me. Hurrah.

The CFS* presentation was entertaining for the children, they learned all about the service and the different types of emergency they attend, then some fire safety stuff like 'Stop, Drop, Cover & Roll' and 'get down low and go, go, go' (personally I prefer the Macarena but whatever). They also learned how to strap someone into one of those rescue stretcher things and how to work the Jaws of Life.....all useful stuff for 5 year olds. The highlight was that the kids all got to ride in a fire engine.

While we there it started to rain....really, really heavily. The plan was to have a snack break in a local park then walk (except us) back to school. That plan was changed. I spent some considerable time ferrying Mums back to the school to pick up their cars, then we crammed all the kids into various vehicles and drove them all back. Normally this requires a special permission slip to allow your child to be driven in a private vehicle by another parent. Seemingly when the choice is to break the rules or get really wet, breaking the rules wins.

Once Aislin and her classmates were all settled back at school with their snacks I left to run some errands, I had some shopping to do and a birthday present to buy and some pharmacy items to purchase (you get the I said...errands). I got home with enough time to unpack the groceries and eat a bowl of cereal for lunch (cornflakes if you're wondering). Then it was back to school to pick up the girls and rendezvouz with my brother and sister-in-law for a child hand-over as we are looking after their boys this weekend. Now I'm home and hiding from all those children out there until it's time to go and throw them a dead Wildebeest prepare them a nutritious meal. It's going to be a four cocktail weekend I can tell.

*Despite my lighthearted comments I want to say that the CFS are some of the most incredible people in existence and they have my undying respect, admiration and gratitude for what they do. For those of you that may not know this, in this country the standard Fire Service only serves the metropolitan area, anyone outside that area is under the protection of the CFS (or other rural fire services depending where you are). The amazing thing about these rural services is that they are staffed almost entirely by volunteers....especially the firefighters...all volunteers. Did you get that? These people fight fires FOR NO MONEY AT ALL. Highly trained and experienced volunteers but volunteers nonetheless. See all those enormous Australian bushfires that you see on the news? Volunteers fight those...and volunteers from rural fire services in the various states and territories will travel to wherever they're needed to fight fires if necessary. Most of them have jobs and they take time off work to do this. But it's not just bushfires...if my house caught fire? CFS. If I was trapped on a cliff? CFS. If I was lost in the bush? CFS. If I had a car accident and needed to be cut from the wreckage? CFS (admittedly if all this really happened to me I think the CFS would be getting pretty pissed off). They do it all. Sadly there have been occasions that a CFS firefighter has lost their life doing this. And they don't even have to be doing it. They choose to volunteer and in doing so risk their lives for all of us.

The CFS is awesome.