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.
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…
This week we got some of our windows replaced.
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.
Never mind, it’s all done now but thank goodness we don’t have to do it too often.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every school day morning, our school run starts with a game of hunt the cat.
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.
This photo was taken from the top of one of the hills in Northala Fields, beside the A40 on the outbound side.
You have probably noticed these if you use this road at all, they are hard to miss. They are also quite difficult to get to if you want to explore them on foot, which is a pity as they are great for families and kids. You have to get on the the London bound side of the A 40 and get off at the Target Roundabout, then drive live you are rejoining the A40 but instead take the road to the left of the slip road. This leads down and under the A40 and you will see a carpark for the Fields to your right.
It’s not that close to us, but I had to drop one of the dogs off at a vet clinic nearby, and so I took the remaining hound up the hill to get one last look at London in the sunshine, before winter descends. It’s not a great walk for dogs, basically the path spirals up one of the mounds and there are a lot of people using the path who don’t like dogs and are horrified when ours appear.
This day, my walk was also complicated by a film crew who had taken over my usual car park, and were filming a group of uniformed teens traipsing up and down one of the hills. I don’t know what they where filming.
If you look closely at the horizon in that photo, you can see the City of London in the distance. There are boards at the top of the viewing hill which tell you what landmarks you are looking at and it’s also fascinating to watch the big planes land at Heathrow, one after the other.
The hills are artificial and are constructed from the rubble in the foreground, which comes from the demolition of the old Wembly Stadium.
It’s not just a great park for the summer, if we get any decent snow the hills make for some interesting sledding experiences!
Usually, when I get home from the morning school run, I am greeted by two hopeful dog faces wanting a walk.
A couple of weeks ago we changed the rooms in the house around a bit and converted what used to be my DH’s study into a bedroom, so that the kids can all have a bedroom each. This means we have a downstairs bed, and the dogs think it has been put there especially for them.
There is intense competition for it and the rule seems to be; You move, You lose.
So these days, when I return from the school run, I only have one hopeful face at the door. The other face is attached to a body busy snoozing, usually upside down on the bed in my DDs new room.
Such a great watch dog!
DS has a number of physical issues but the one that troubles him the most is his hypermobility.
His handwriting suffers most, in class he rarely manages to grip his pencil for more than 5 minutes before his hand hurts too much to write anymore. One of the things the occupational therapist has asked him to do is ‘play’ with some of this theraputty before he starts writing. It’s supposed to strengthen the muscles in his hands and warm them up before he starts work.
On Monday, I got a phone call from Welfare. ‘ There is no need to worry, but we just wanted to make you aware that DS has managed to get a bit of putty in his hair.’ I have to say this was a new call from the school about one of my children, so I have to give DH full marks for originality. But to say he had a ‘bit’ of putty in his hair, is like saying that the fate of the Titanic was a ‘bit’ of a disaster.
Everyone who saw it just shook their head and said ‘Oh Dear’.
DS had no idea how the putty got there. Apparently one moment he was holding it in his hands, the next it was in his hair. Surprise!
When he got home, I combed some out and then, once my ears had stopped ringing from the screaming, I did a bit of Googling. Apparently what we needed was baby oil.
DH bought some home and DS sat around for 30 minutes with half a bottle of oil dissolving the pink putty. Five lots of shampoo later, DS had some very clean, putty-free hair.
At least we didn’t need to cut it out.
I’m sorry to say it, but it’s *that* time of year ago. I know it’s early, but these slots get snapped up fast.
We always have our Christmas Day shopping delivered. In fact, we usually book two slots. Just In Case.
At this point we use bottles of very expensive champagne as place holders and put notes in our diaries to alter the order to something less indulgent before the order goes through.
I can’t remember the last time I went to the supermarket for Christmas supplies but I suspect it was pre-children.
How does everyone else do their Christmas food shopping?