We've had a lovely few days here. On Christmas Eve we went over to my mum and partner's house for traditional Christmas get together. Five grandchildren in attendance and lots of exciting presents opened and yummy food eaten. Back at home for the evening Dani and I had an hour hunt for a present we had hidden rather too well! Pearl cuddled up at bedtime with her new Bagpuss hot water bottle, complete with singing mouse. Leo was eventually in bed after watching all three Dr Who episodes on his new DVD.
Christmas Day started at the civilised hour of 8.15am with the kids staggering downstairs with big pillow cases of presents to to open on our bed. Leo was thrilled with his new dalek, which he named Satellite. Pearl quickly assembled the Sylvanian Families play park that came with instructions in Japanese only! We all got lots of lovely things. My presents included home made chocolate truffles that the kids made in secret on Christmas Eve.
The tree first thing in the morning.
The guinea pigs got little tents – very cute but full of wee by tea-time!
Yet more Sylvanian stuff
Christmas day afternoon brought two local cousins to admire new pressies and play for an hour or so. I failed in my mission to get relatives to eat up some of the excessive food we had made – huge trifle and mince tart.
Dr Who in the evening was lovely. Kids adjusted well to the change of Doctor and we are all looking forward to the new series. Leo dissolved at bedtime, alternately yawning and sobbing because the day was over.
On Boxing day my dad and his wife came for lunch. We made soup with home-made bread and Delia's individual sticky toffee puddings. We all played with a new game of Leo's called Animal families and then moved on to playing cards – Black Jacks and To Hell and Back.
Today brought snow – the first real flurries the kids have seen in years. Sadly it didn't lay and was gone in an hour. As a child in Brighton I usually got at least one good snow fall per winter – enough to play in and enough to shut the school. Leo hasn't seen any real snow in his life, and Pearl can only remember one heavy fall when we were up in Leicestershire visiting family when she was five or so. Dani has seen snow before but she still got excited!
We're looking forward to some quiet days at home now.
Dani went to work today – she's much better. She has made her usual speedy recovery from illness. On Tuesday morning she was ill enough to faint on the kitchen floor (the noise from downstairs was like nothing I had ever heard before!) and by today she is working, shopping in her lunch hour and coming home to cracker making and guinea pig mucking out! Must make sure she doesn't overdo things…
Pearl, Leo and I had a much needed quiet day at home today. The kids spent the day in pjs but they did lots of things. One of our Christmas plans this year was to try out a recipe for biscuits with a 'stained glass' window made from a boiled sweet. Much to my amazement they worked!
Also to my amazement we managed to get through the whole day with no raised voices, tearful outbursts or stroppy door slamming! I think my decision not to set foot in a shop today really helped. The kids and I calmed down and worked together on the biscuit making with lots of cooperation. They also spent a silent hour in their own bedrooms playing, which seemed to do us all good. Pearl tidied her doll's house for Christmas and Leo worked on 3-d representations (in duplo and stickle bricks) of a fabulous machine of his own invention called the 'Fossilizer 2000'. Pearlie also painted her first creation made with her new mitre saw – it is a golden archway to welcome people to Sylvania. I had a lovely time changing sheets in my own room and watching supermarket sweep, which I remember fondly from unemployed days in a bed-sit.
It is worth blogging that Leo is suddenly able to tell the time extremely well. He casually mentioned to me that it was twenty to one today and he was right. It is interesting that he has not learned all the 'simple' points on the clock first, but rather he has been slowly figuring out the whole thing at once.
Tomorrow we're off to the Brighton grandmothers' house for our usual Christmas Eve get together and then a pretty quiet Christmas Day at home. Merry Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah or whatever this time of year means to you.
We spent last weekend in Leighton Buzzard, having a Christmas family gathering with my parents, my sister and her partner and children. The house was great, and it was a blessing to have a dining table that could seat us all, and a long corridor in which children could happily rampage. We were right next to the canal, and woke on Sunday morning to find the whole thing frozen over – much excitement and fun throwing stones onto the ice.
As is traditional on these occasions, the children wasted little time sleeping or eating (apart from copious amounts of chocolate) and consequently found that their tempers were quite short. Despite having to cope with rather more tearful outbursts than any of us would have liked, we did manage to swap some lovely presents, cook and eat several delicious meals, and explore the towpath near the house.
Along with the presents, we managed to exchange germs, so I have since been suffering my sister's dreadful fluey cold. Managed to drag myself out of bed, heavily dosed up on painkillers, to the fantastic Burning the Clocks event this evening. P. and L. coped wonderfully with all the waiting involved, and we were rewarded by a wonderful fireworks display at the end of the spectacular parade.
Other things we have been doing lately:
Making comics – Leo and his cousin invented some new superheroes over the weekend, and he spent a lot of the journey home making copious comics.
Using tools – Pearl got a wonderful set of tools from my parents, including a mitre saw. Now we just need to find some wood…
Decorating our Christmas tree
Watching David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth – excellent as always
Reading a lot – Leo has been re-reading Ricky Ricotta books, and Pearl has been re-absorbing some of the Horrible Histories. When the British Empire was mentioned in conversation the other day, she said "Queen Victoria was the first, last and only British Empress of India. She died in 1901." Allie read Winter House while we were away.
Knitting – I'm still working on the wrist warmers, and also started on this cardigan
Origami – I made a stellated rhombic dodecahedron while we were away, but forgot to take a picture before I gave it to my sister, so I can't prove it!
Hot on the heels of cousin B's 6th birthday last week, we have been celebrating my 37th and A's mum's 70th this week. Tomorrow is a bit of a mad day for the kids, as they have trampolining in the morning, followed by a friend's 6th birthday party in the afternoon, then straight on to a family party for their grandmother in the evening.
In other news this week:
Allie and Leo have been ill, with a rotten cold. P. has remained healthy (as always) and kept to her full schedule of two HE groups, Woodcraft Folk, capoeira, and a visit to the library.
We've been making Christmas cards – no glitter, some of you may be relieved to hear.
Leo is beside himself with excitement at the prospect of the Doctor Who Christmas special – he even spent this week's pocket money on his own copy of the Christmas Radio Times
Pearl has been developing her interest in coins – this evening she discovered that a coin collector is called a numismatist.
Our Monday HE group moved to a great new venue, with much more space.
We've been playing Monopoly and cards quite a lot – Leo can suddenly do almost all the necessary arithmetic and reading with no problems, and is developing a mean tactical acumen.
Very pleasant visit from HE friends P, M and J, for lunch and a good long afternoon play for the kids. J and L. completely trashed a room, then helped to pick everything up again. They made some lovely Fimo creations, and built some splendid devices out of octons. P. played wild games with the boys for part of the time and slipped away to send emails to her cousin when this all got out of hand.
We all enjoyed watching Strictly Come Dancing in the evening, when Allie got home from work.
A. had to work again, so I set off with the kids for their cousin B's birthday party at a large soft play centre on the other side of town. The kids dealt with the somewhat frantic atmosphere well, and nobody was seriously injured (!)
Spent the evening internet shopping, watching Scooby Doo, and playing cards.
Pearl and I making an ill-fated and extremely muddy journey by train and bike to…
A wonderful day looking at life in Victorian times at Michelham Priory. We saw a blacksmith at work, explored the (working) water mill, investigated household artefacts in the kitchen, and made Victorian Christmas decorations. We missed the beginning, due to getting lost and caked with clay in the woods, but the guide kindly showed us the artefacts everyone else had looked at in the morning, and other HE families gallantly stepped in to transport us and our bikes home.
Game playing, reading and lunching for A. and L. at the grandmothers' house, followed by picking up cousin S. from school, then watching her dance show at the community centre.
Kids club and grandmothers visit for P. and a cosy day in for me and Leo. He made a display of eggs (chicken, dalek, dragon and tadpole) and then another of power rangers paraphernalia.
Another HE group today, where the kids made Christmas cakes and cooked them at home in little sweetcorn cans. This was also a welcome chance to meet up with our friends O. and J. and they came back to our house for a cup of tea and a play after the group.