My Sunday Photo

Ukuleles seem to be the next big thing in our household.

First our eldest got one for her 15th birthday, then DD2 got one for Christmas. And when DS turned 9, he used his birthday money to buy himself the one below. He was the only one who would let me get a photograph of him.

Ukulele boy
They are all learning chords and strumming/ singing away.  Sometimes they even play together and learn from each other.

Ukuleles are a nice little instrument for kids. They are light, cheap ( although don’t get the cheapest as they go out of tune as soon as you look at them) and easy to learn. They don’t sound too horrendous when being practiced but shaping the chords does  make fingers hurt a little after a while, so it’s usually self-limiting. Don’t bother with books, just go onto YouTube where anyone wanting to learn will find all they need to know.

Next week DD3 will be turning 11. (Yes, we know, our family planning regarding births around Christmas leaves a lot to be desired.) I bet you can’t guess what she’s getting…Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

This week we got some of our windows replaced.

Two things.
Number one, don’t get this done in winter. Especially when snow is forecast. Luckily they don’t leave you with great holes in your house overnight.

Number two, bay windows are VERY expensive! Bear this in mind if you are buying a house with bays, and you think you might replace the windows at some point.

New windows
Never mind, it’s all done now but thank goodness we don’t have to do it too often.

Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

DS turned 9 this week and so we had the annual hunt for a suitable birthday party.

Can I just say, I can’t believe my youngest is now 9? That means next year he’s 10- a tweenager!

j-9
It’s a PITA having a child born soon after Christmas. If you aren’t super organised, and I’m not, then trying to get together contact details for the children your child wants to invite to their party can be a nightmare.

And I’m always worn out after the festive season . The thought of organising anything vaguely celebratory once December the 25th has come and gone strikes horror deep into my soul. I needed a party idea where I had to do as little as possible,and after asking around someone suggested I look into hiring a Gamewagon.

A Gamewagon is basically a bus that is fitted out with video game consoles and screens, so your children get to play games of their choice with their friends for 90 minutes. Best of all they do this on the bus, OUT OF YOUR HOUSE, and under the watchful eye of a Game Experience Manager who makes sure no one gets left out or upset. It is an inspired concept.

We managed to scrape a list of avaliable friends together and thanks to the wonders of modern technology (aka WhatsApp), I was able to send out last minute electronic invites. And almost everyone came!

Here they are, lining up and ready to be entertained. I know the bus doesn’t actually look that big, but there was plenty of room for 13 8 and 9 year olds and two full grown men. The house was quiet for a full 90 minutes and they were not excessively hyped when they come in for lunch.

j-gamewagonparty

It was far and away the easiest birthday party I’ve ever organised, so I’d have to recommend it to the parents of any child who enjoys playing video games.

Sunday photo

My Friday Photo

We’ve had some misty mornings here in the leafy surburbs of London lately.

I quite enjoy a misty morning, as long as it doesn’t drag into a misty afternoon.

My favourite thing about fog is how it shows off the spiderwebs on the hedges. This one was a veritable web gallery.

All the spiders are showing off their artwork; maybe it’s their version of Christmas lights?

spider-gallery

Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

Three weeks ago, one of our dogs had a pretty major operation to repair both his cruciate ligaments. These ligaments in his knees ( hind legs) had spontaneously ruptured, leaving him lame and in pain.

No one knows why this happens in some dogs but it’s thought to have a genetic component in dogs like Labradors. Our dog is part Labrador. Anyhow a big operation means big costs and when we were presented with a bill of over £5K, we were very pleased that we were insured with Petplan.

Costs aside, our dog is doing really well. He’s had to be confined to a crate for a time and he is only allowed short lead walks, but he’s reached the stage where I can walk him into the woods a short distance, so he can have a bit of a change of scenery. He’s walking well, weight bearing on both legs although still sits rather gingerly.

You can see he’d really like to be out there, running free and ‘following’ squirrels. I wish we could explain to him that one day he will be able to again.

But in the meantime he looks just a little silly with his shaved legs, epidural and pain patch sites. I’m hoping his fur will grow back about the same time he finally gets off lead, so the squirrels don’t risk falling out of their trees laughing at him.

f-three-weeks-post-tplo

Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

This is the holly bush belonging to  our neighbours-across-the-street. We know Christmas has arrived when it gets lit up like this.

Lots of lights seemed to go on/up early this year. ( Early = before December)

But not our neighbours; they waited until December had arrived.

But now it’s finally here, every night we can look out of our front window and get a good view of the most festive holly bush on the street.

There are only two weeks to go…

xmas-holly

Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

Say hello to one of our dogs.

We’ve had him about 18 months and he came from an Irish dog pound, his 7 days were up and if he hadn’t been claimed by a Heathlands Animal Sanctuary, a small but fantastic dog rescue,  he would have been put to sleep.

He’s been a lovely pet, despite his less than ideal start, and my eldest daughter has been doing agility with him. They have both been doing well. But about 8 weeks ago he started to limp after getting up. He’s a very energetic dog, so we restricted his exercise for a couple of weeks and for a while he seemed okay.

But then he started to get worse and it became time for a visit to a vet. Everyone thought his pain was in his hips but the xrays showed that was not the case, it was his knees that were the problem. His cruciate ligaments, to be exact.

So on Wednesday I took him up to a specialist up the A40 where he had both hind legs operated on. Again, if you are interested in the details, he has had a bilateral TPLO. If you are wondering about the cost, our insurance company will hopefully pay out £5.5K. Thank goodness for Petplan.

Everything went well and we picked him up to bring him home on Friday. This is him in the car. To me it looks like he’s saying ‘Take Me Home’.

So we did.

Now he has at least 8 weeks of cage rest and on-lead walks only to look forward to. It’s going to be a long winter.

f-coming-home

Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

This week I  spent a couple of days at a conference at the ExCel Centre in the London Docklands.

It’s about a two hour tube journey each way from our house, and I really wasn’t looking forward to the 8 hours of travelling over the two days.

But then someone suggested I think about staying the night in a nearby hotel, instead of schlepping back and forth during rush hour, so I did. DH worked from home and ran around after the kids for a couple of days while I had 36 hours off from parenting.

I stayed in the nearby Novotel, caught up with a friend who lives in the area for dinner and enjoyed having a room all to myself. And I got to see this lovely sunset, over the O2 and the Emirates Skyline.

Did I mention the peace and quiet? It was almost deafening.

o2
Sunday photo

My Sunday Photo

Every school day morning, our school run starts with a game of hunt the cat.

cat-under-desk
If we find him, we lock the cat flap so he can’t go out. But if he’s one step ahead of us, which is often, then he follows us down the road to school and sits on the side of a busy road and watches walk away.

A couple of times he has crossed the road to follow us further and scared the crap out of us, but has managed not to get run over so far.

And when I return he jumps out from under a car, or down from a tree and runs in front of me to lead me home.

He waits for me to open the front door and sometimes follows me inside, but quite often he loses interest once I’m safely in the house, and heads off to terrorise the local bird population instead.

cat-walking-home

Sunday photo