Where to Start?

I so dislike when weeks have gone by since I’ve blogged properly! It just makes it so much harder to remember everything we’ve done and in what order! So I guess we’ll start with big decisions, spending the kids’ inheritance, then move onto days out and then a report on the usual!

Big decisions: The biggest decision was that we won’t be buying a new car for me. Yes it is official—I am the pickiest person in the world. After one showroom after another, I can’t find a car I like! How picky is that? We finally decided to get an estimate for the work we needed on our Escort, and if it was under £1000(twice the value of the car) we’d go for it. The estimate came in at just under £900, so we booked a couple of appointments and so now our old car should be good to go for awhile. I really do like the car—not too small, not too large and still looks fairly good. All the visits in the past six months to the showrooms has been very educational—my two can name most car emblems and can spot a Mazda from a distance-and tell you which model it is.

We’ve also changed, yet again, some of our decorating plans. We’ve decided not to bash a hole in our kitchen wall above the radiator for a built-in bookshelf. Instead, we have moved a huge dresser there and have decided we like it. So, back on the phone to our new plumber to see if/what it would take to move the radiator. He and Michael came up with a plan—so all systems go. The new radiator will be here Monday and hopefully installed before the month is out. We were just pleased that we could do it with a new plumber—we’re tired of telling our builders of yet another change—this poor guy doesn’t know how fickle we are yet! Though I still have to tell our builders that we’re going to cancel that job and change three more plans with them. See—we look like complete idiots with those two. What happens is that they are so busy they leave us waiting around for months, which just gives us too much time to come up with more plans and twice as many changes. We won’t be changing the side door and adding a porch, we no longer want a brick wall in the front, we’ve decided on another brick flower bed out back. Yes—we do drive ourselves to distraction with one plan after another!

As to spending—sometimes we just loosen the belts on the wallet just a tad too much and start getting everything we’ve wanted/needed all at one time. We have been debating, as only we can do, on the merits of actually buying a TV. We’ve been watching TV via our computers for about two years now and so we have decided to get a new one. Of course this means endless searching for just the right one, making up our minds on exactly what we want and how much to spend on it—when I say—are you sure you only want a 19” screen? This leads us to leaving the shop, to go home, to go online to buy a bigger one. Cha-ching says Mr. Retailer! (This hasn’t taken into account yet that we need a new stand/table for this new TV!) The new TV also meant a trip to a home furnishing shop to see about buying something for the kids to sit on to watch said new TV. We decided against bean bag chairs so they didn’t get anything—but the sofas finally have throw pillows, I have a new magazine box and a new picture for the room.
Now that we are printing more things for the kids we have decided that the sub-standard service our 9 year old printer is giving us was not to be put up with another day. It takes about a week of research to come up with the ideal printer for us—and so we made Mr. Retailer very happy yet again!

Then of course, we need to spend money on the kids, as that’s only fair. No, they weren’t indulged with toys and fun things—instead we bought them clothing. See—we haven’t lost our minds completely. They were both getting down to having very few of even the most basic things—so a trip, I mean two trips, to Mothercare was needed. I like their clothes as they do tend to fit Hazel, unlike most of the other shops. I also decided that we were to buy no denim—for either child. It’s all they wear! So Hazel is the owner of a very girly wardrobe (ok—yes a pair of grey denim jeans made it home—but they weren’t blue!) and Kieran has some really nice outfits, though I do think he’s mostly happy with his new boots. Mothercare can now pay their electric bill for the year—aren’t we generous?

No, that’s not the end to the spending—we ran out of toilet roll/paper! What, how can that be note worthy you ask? Well, that’s because it meant a trip to Costco to renew our membership. Oh, these retailers are loving us! We don’t generally buy too much from Costco as I’m not too keen on spending money for things before I need them, especially as storage is at a premium here. But we do save so much on our paper products from there. What we’ll do is just stock pile up on them over the year while they are on sale, and then we won’t need to renew our membership for about 2 years. This of course means our attic becomes a sea of whiteness, but it is a savings! And of course—the kids and Michael were quite happy to have some pizza and a baked potato for lunch—ohhhh, the fancy places we go!

Which leads nicely to —Days out! We haven’t had too many trips out; as I’m sure by now you’ve noticed we’ve been spending all our time in the shops. The major events were a couple of small local events in our town last weekend. Last Saturday there was a small arts and craft type of festival—small being the name to best describe it. I feel bad at times that turn-out is so low for these events, but there really isn’t too much to see. Saying that—we made a great find—yes it meant more spending, but not much! In one of the halls a woman was selling baby doll clothes she made—they were very pretty and very cheap. Hazel got two doll dresses with pants and Kieran got two cardigans for his dolls—all for under £9. She sells them weekly at a local WI meet—so I think we’ll be visiting that venue on occasion. She said she’d do some boy doll clothes for us if I give her the sizes I need.

On Sunday we went to our Farmers Market in town and then over to the library for a family fun day. A small event—but we were very busy and saw a few friends and some of the kid’s classmates. We saw some Morris Dancers, people singing some songs from Oklahoma, a group playing recorders, some reptiles and an acrobat/juggler. The kids played some drums with an African drum group—Kieran really enjoyed that. They both helped the women from one of our local supermarkets to make a mango-passion fruit smoothie. They also had some fun with the fire service people—the kids played on their computers and coloured in some air-helicopters, they went into the fire engine and asked the men a few questions. Hazel learnt a bit of CPR and had a try with one of the CPR dummies.

Inside the library they both coloured in an animal mask. While they were doing that I saw a Young Embroiders group sign and went over to see what that was about. It is run by two women and they only take children from 7-18 years old. As my mom was a wonderful seamstress, it is a shame that my only talent in that area is to do counted cross-stitch kits. Hazel has a strong interest in it and I think has some talent for it. When the kids were done with the masks Hazel came over to the table and impressed the two women. They said that if the group is full and she wants to come, they’ll take her. She did some braiding and lacing up very quickly. It was evident she had never braided anything before when she first started, but she caught on in seconds when she realized it was like weaving. Last year my sister-in-law sent Hazel a loop-n-loom kit to make potholders etc.. by weaving the loops—Hazel finished it off in no time and I think it has been the best present she ever had. She has always
loved patterns and weaving gives her that freedom to indulge in colour schemes. After that we go upstairs to find the local weavers/spinners group! Yet again—Hazel impressed the woman. She made a lovely sample piece and didn’t need any help once the woman got her started.

No—Hazel wasn’t the only one to brag about that day. Yes—even Kieran showed moments of genius! While Hazel was weaving her sampler, Michael and Kieran wandered over to the area where some chess sets were set up. Kieran wanted to know what it was about, and in minutes had impressed the man (a UK champion chess player) by how quickly he caught on to the names and which way they all should move. He can still tell us who’s who and which way they should move. Of course this meant Michael (who played at school) was online ordering a proper set for the kids! He has a set but the pieces aren’t the official ones, so he had to get the official looking ones. I seem to notice that though I’m doing all the bragging—none of this talent the kids seem to have has come from me! I’m hopeless at chess and a crafter I’ll never be.

The thing that impressed Michael and I the most that day is how grown-up and confident our two have become. A year or so ago they would have shied away from most of these activities. This year they were joining in, becoming helpers, asking questions and most importantly seeking out things that they found interesting. We didn’t suggest they take part in any of these activities; we were just there to watch them have fun exploring.

We also had a lovely walk last week—we went through our local nature reserve and along the canal to the lake. It is a very round-about way to get to the lake, but a pleasant walk we haven’t done in about two years. The kids hadn’t realized where we were headed to and were so surprised to see the lake. They have become such good walkers, so it’s fun that we can go longer distances with them. We got to the lake minutes before the mini-café was closing, so we had some tea/water and wandered over to the play area before walking home—the short route along the road. Where do kids get all the energy?

Today we visited another National Trust site, The Vyne, for an Apple Day. I thought we could pick the apples ourselves, and the kids were disappointed that we couldn’t. It was a nice site, but not a very good event.

Regular life has been mostly the usual, with a few changes. We missed a couple of recorder classes because the car was in the garage. The kids started back to Monkey Music—and are enjoying it as much as ever. They are doing a newer version geared more towards 5 year olds and it seems just right for them. We actually walked to the hall last week as the car was in the garage and I won’t drive Michael’s large car. It was just over two miles and Michael picked us up on his way home. Hazel ‘viewed’ a new class last Tuesday and has decided she wants to actually try it next week. If she sticks to it, I’ll let you know about it. If she does choose to join—that will mean we have an activity every day except Sunday.

Michael worked an odd schedule this past week—he was on call for a few nights at the beginning of the week, so he had the days off to rest. He was only called in for Wednesday night, getting home just after 5am. It was nice to have him around in the daytime mid-week, though I’m glad the night duty only happens about once a year!

And the TV came just in time—Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars) is back on—Hazel is thrilled! Especially now that the results show is on Sundays because then she can see it. We all picked our favourites and called in to vote for them. Last year we only voted for the last six shows, this year I decided we’d do it for every show—and everyone could choose who they wanted to vote for. I just hope Hazel doesn’t get to upset if Lilia (one of the professionals) goes out of the competition!

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