Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas Lectures

I've got to go shopping today. Not only are we down to the last wilted vegetables at the bottom of the fridge, but it's only a few more days until Donny and Mel's birthday at the start of January. It's always a challenge trying to find something they want that they didn't get for Xmas, but at least it is half the price compared to what it was a week ago, thanks to the Sales. So, bargain hunting I shall go, after lunch.

The general TV viewing this year has been uninspiring. Usually Christmas is the time if year I tape more things than I can possibly watch, but this year it's been very poor. I half watched something last night, that was reviewed as "An eerie ghost story and poignant tale of love." Nope, it was a tale of Victorian lesbian duplicity. There were no ghosts, and the love aspect was a little dubious too. It wasn't what I was expecting at all.

The best bit about this season is the Christmas Lectures. These run for five days and are broadcast from the Royal Institute in London. They are always science based and they pick a different topic every year. This year it is about computers, last year was about human endurance and the year before was about mathematics. I forget further back. Anyway, they bring science to life with fantastic props and experiments (see the website - it's got lots of cool games and the lectures from previous years as web-casts).

The first one of this year is tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it. It doesn't matter that I don't know much about computers, or that I'm not hugely interested in them. They just do the lectures so well, that I know I'm going to love it. Unlike the ill-fated Victorian lesbian love triangle show.


Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Art of Doing Nothing, then Resting Afterwards

Sunday, is it? The days are rolling by in a haze of laze. The kids didn't leave the house yesterday. They spent it exploring the possibilities of their new games, toys and colouring books. I did make it to the gym and to walk the dog so I am a veritable hive of activity. Nick made it the the corner shop, discovered it was closed, and walked the 200 yards back again. Not exactly the most exciting of weekends.

At the moment the kids are putting together a new trampoline that they were given by someone Nick works with, who owed Nick a favour. Apparently it was a bargain. It's not one of those huge ones, but I'm sure many hours of fun will be had bouncing on it. I'm guessing they need to get some of the pent up energy out of their systems soon too, or everyone will start arguing and being miserable. Bring on the bounce!

I've been forcing myself to do lesson planning and other school related stuff that I'm not at all motivated to do. I know I will feel better when it's done, but just the thought of having to go back leaves a constricted, panicky feeling in my chest. I don't want to go to school! Please don't make me.

I think I'm going to go and finish the 500 piece jigsaw of Santa that is on the living room floor before Mel does his chores (ie the Hoovering...)


Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Day

Well, Santa did come, much to the relief of my children. Indeed, discovery of the stockings took place in the wee small hours of Christmas Day. The alarm clock said 4.11 and I won't repeat what I said. Eventually we persuaded them to settle back down for a couple more hours beauty sleep.

After breakfast we opened the first wave of presents under the tree. The singing dolls were popular, as was MouseTrap and Downfall board games. I had a CD of the Killers. Apparently I mentioned that I liked their music, but I can't remember ever having heard of them. I hope something jogs my memory when I have a moment to put the CD into the player!

[pic of mince pies]

We made a point of walking the dog on our way down to Mum's. It made us a little late, but fortunately Mike and Ang had stepped into the breach and got the goose and veggies cooking. Christmas dinner was a magnificent festival of dedicated eating, as always. We didn't quite manage to eat everything, but we had a good go.

Nobody could manage pudding, so we cleared a space and opened the second wave of presents. Mike and Ang, in their wisdom, have bought me an alarm clock that sets you a puzzle to solve before the alarm will turn off. I mean, how cruel is that? There is a Wimp Out button, but it makes the alarm shriek at you for 30 seconds as a punishment! What have I ever done to them??

[pic of Xmas pud]

We did finally get onto cheese, biscuits, kirsch Xmas pudding and Yule Log, but it was an effort to fit it in. We watched Dr Who (essential viewing), then made our way home to try out our new pyjamas.

[pic of Yule Log]


Thursday, 25 December 2008

How do I post pictures, then?

This year's school pictures of my beautiful children. Eartha and Saskia (5):

Melbryn (8):

Idonea (8):

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

Well, Merry Christmas everybody. Tis the season to be jolly and all that. We had a quietish day where Nick went off and did his Xmas shopping in the time honoured way that men do (i.e. at the last minute). The kids and I hung around, waiting for him to get back.

This year we're having the meal at Mum's house, which is only ten minutes drive away. We've split the cooking and preparations - I get to do the vegetables, my brother Mike and girlfriend Ang are doing the goose and Mum gets to do the drinks. Mike and Ang are staying at Mum's until Boxing Day. It's a short visit this year (and I won't be taking them swimming).

We did finally get down to Mum's today for about 4ish, and we had a manic hour or two chopping veg ready for tomorrow. There's no way I'm going to prepare masses of vegetables in the morning. I'll be far too busy sorting out acres of discarded wrapping paper and handing out the nibbles.

The kids all helped out, peeling potatoes, scrubbing carrots and chopping broccoli. They spent a happy half hour spearing cheese and pineapple onto sticks. And then scoffing the rest of the cheese. I kind of expected the plate to have regimented rows of cheesy-pineapple sticks on it. Not a chance. They are just piled up any which way, like one of those games where you have to pull out the rods and the first one to make the whole lot collapse loses.

We came home for tea, watched "A Christmas Carol" for the nth time and then hustled the children into bed. The stockings are out, and the mince-pie and carrot are waiting by the chimney. We will just have to see if we've been naughty or nice this year.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Just off for a swim.

I've been promising to take the kids swimming all weekend (yes, I know it's Tuesday). One thing or another has got in the way, and we keep saying we'll do it tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

We are usually regular swimmers. The kids all have swimming lessons and I try to get in the pool twice a week (OK, once a week is more accurate, but the intention to get wet more often is there). Despite appearances, I do actually like doing exercise. I go to the gym. I swim. I rock climb. I hill-walk. I walk the dog. Why I look like a blimp is beyond me. (A heavy dedication to food, I guess.)

Anyway, we piled in the car, leaving the dog at home. (He doesn't have a swimming costume and the life-guards object to the amount of hair he leaves in the pool). There are two pools within 20 minutes drive of our house. One has a slide and wave machine, but only shallow water. It's great for paddling and playing in, but impossible to actually swim in. The other one is a standard rectangle, sometimes with lanes roped off. If you ask nicely, the attendants will give you a float or a noodle. Noodles are thick, rope-shaped floats, as opposed to something you eat with stir-fry. (Mmm, food!).

I love swimming at Christmas. Everybody is so busy munching mince-pies and getting heavily into carousing and debauchery, that the pool is empty. The rectangle of blue was a still as a millpond, until we got in. We were the only ones in there. The life-guards were particularly attentive, probably because they had been bored stiff all day with nothing to do. The kids got a noodle each.

Well, we played 'mermaids and a merman', 'the shark's gonna get you', and 'I'm putting you in the sea-cavern on the steps and the only way to escape is to jump in off the side'. All staple games of the pool. I managed to do my requisite 30 lengths in between these more important activities.

We finally got out when we had all managed to become seriously wrinkly. Most of the kids had hot-chocolate. It was a lovely afternoon.

Monday, 22 December 2008


The blog on Hypnotherapy has been deleted because my husband said it was too honest and people couldn't cope with reading such 'open heart surgery'.

More sugary blogs to follow.


Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Tooth Fairy

I'm back again! Yesterday was a total rest day after a manic Autumn Term. The kids spent it slobbing infront of the TV. I was the most energetic of the family, and all I did was walk the dog.

Our favourite place for dog walking is the Wyre Forest.

I love this forest. It is mixed woodland, heavy on conifers and oak. There are deer and squirrels, owls and rabbits. The dog can run and run without either getting on a road or irritating people who think dogs should always be on a lead. He's the sort of dog that needs to run. There is no way I could walk him far enough on a leash for him to actually get enough exercise. Indeed I think it would be cruel to restrict him to my walking pace.

So anyhow, I love to ramble and the dog loves to run. Pal regularly races off into the undergrowth, chasing things. I think the squirrels are safe until he learns to climb trees. He is often seen staring up the trunk at their disappearing bushy tails, with a confused look on his face. On the down side, he has a habit of disappearing for 30 minutes at a time. I don't think he actually gets lost, because he always meets us back at the visitor's centre. This is what happened yesterday. I had a pleasant walk, mostly on my own, and the dog met me at the end.

Somewhere in his adventures he's managed to cut the pad on one paw, so he spent the evening licking it and limping. I've no idea what he stepped on, but I guess it's sore. It'll heal. It's not serious.

The news of the day, of course is that Saskia finally lost her first tooth. She is the last of the children to do so. Eartha (her twin) already has two grown up teeth and has done for some time. Saskia proudly phoned Grandma to tell her.

Some years ago, Donny (that's Idonea's nickname) was given a book about the Tooth Fairy. In this book the little girl refuses to give her tooth to the fairy until the fairy has answered some questions. She leaves the fairy several letters, which the fairy replies to each time.

This book has got a lot to answer for. For a start, my kids no longer just expect the requisite £1 per tooth. They now also expect long, informative letters about the workings of Fairyland and the use to which their teeth are being put. They leave out dolls' clothes for the Dental Sprite, and ask for sugar-free offerings for her. She is expected to reply in fairy script (non-recognisable handwriting), and to visit over several days to answer all the questions posed.

This is quite a challenge, as the Tooth Fairy in our house is not all that reliable and sometimes forgets to come at all. Last night, however, a lovely young fairy called Gloria did come and visit, spiriting Saskia's tooth away to be used as a mantle stone in her cousin's house. She declined the gift of the Barbie T-shirt as it would not fit over her wings.

I guess we should have known.

Rachel xx

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Well, I hadn't really planned on starting a blog today. It just sort of happened. I'm sitting in my gym clothes ready to get out there and actually be a bit active, but the dreaded computer has sucked me in again. I swear, it is a worse addiction that chocolate. You sit down and three hours later you remember that you were just about to put a load of washing on, honest!

So, maybe I'll start off by telling you a little about our family, just to set the context, and we'll see how it goes from there.

We are a fairly unconventional family. There's me, Rachel. I'm 38 and I teach science in a high school. I used to love my job because I love science and I love teaching kids and seeing their faces light up when they get an idea. At the moment I really don't like my job very much because I am truly fed up of being verbally abused by 'orrible teenagers every day. There's only so many days you can be called a 'tosser' or a 'cow' before you start to think life is way too short to bother with this sort of stuff. So, I'm looking for a way out, but I haven't yet found anything that tickles my fancy enough.

My husband of 12 years is Nick. He's ten years older than me and ten inches taller than me. Trust me, I'm not short - he's just kind of tall. He works for the railways. At the moment this means sorting out the London Underground system (not that we live anywhere near London).

We have managed to have 4 children in two batches. The first set of twins arrived in January 2000. Idonea was a couple of minutes before Melbryn. Three years and 13 days later we repeated the feat: Eartha is a minute or so older than Saskia. So somehow we managed to get four Capricorns in 3 years, which was maybe not good planning. It was efficient if nothing else!

Other than that, we have a white cat with ginger bits called Fergus, and a large border collie called Palafox, though most of the time we call him Woofer or Dog.

That'll do for a first attempt at blogging.... Let's see what happens next.