August: started with a meet-up with some friends at the Living Rainforest. When Hazel and Kieran did Irish dancing Hazel became friends with one of their dance mates who has four brothers. Kieran and one of her younger brothers, Jamie, have become great friends over the years. Knowing Jamie was into birds I suggested he join the local rangers group with Kieran, so the four of them did that for a couple of years together. We met up at the Rainforest and the four kids had a great wander round. Then we gathered Jamie’s things from his mom’s car and brought him home with us, Kieran was hosting his first ever sleep-over and it was Jamie’s first sleep-over.
The timing of the sleep-over was perfect as the next day there was a special event at the local lake, a show of birds of prey. The three kids loved it and proved that they have all learned so much about birds. Jamie was the only one in the crowd who even knew what a Harris Hawk was. The kids all got to hold a bird of prey and to have the Hawk land on their arms. We then decided to take Jamie for a walk to the canal because he hadn’t been there before. It was a lovely warm day and we all enjoyed the outing. By the time we started to walk back I realized it was getting very late so decided to buy them a sandwich at the lake café. I think it went well for the first sleep over experience for either boy. (I know it had, because as I am writing this, Jamie is sleeping over yet again!)
Two days later it was his sister’s turn to sleepover. The girls spent the time doing what they do—talking, reading, talking about books, watching movies and baking!
The main event for me that month was the Perseid Meteor shower during the weekend of the 10th. We saw so many meteors—well over 20! We were all huddled outside with blankets as it was rather cold—but we were so excited to see so many.
The rest of the month was spent with visiting friends, Michael was away for just over a week in August and the kids were counting down the days till their first scout camping trip. This one was for two whole nights, and they were beyond excited, even though it meant they wouldn’t see their dad for an extra couple of days, as they went to camp a few hours before he arrived back from the States. I have to admit—when I dropped the kids off I literally came home and tracked Michael’s flight till it landed. I was so excited he was home & it was going to be great to have two days together.
We spent Sunday in Oxford shopping for books. It was a hard struggle, but I did manage to find a few new ones. We also found a nice little tea-shop that we had never seen before. It was the Vaults and Garden Café in the Oxford Universities’ Old Congregation House built in the 1300’s. Monday we had lunch out, then we did some shopping and then we went to another pub for a light snack before driving to pick the children up. Sadly, the camp experience wasn’t all that great. The two of them were really disappointed by the lack of any decent activities. Sitting around playing card games was not to their liking. We had thought they would go for hikes and other outdoor activities but sadly nothing was arranged. Hopefully the next one will be better.
For my birthday outing I decided to go to Sudeley Castle, mostly because I knew Hazel wanted to go as much as I did! Hazel is still really interested in the Tudors, and she wanted to see where Katherine Parr lived and died. It is a great castle with some really informative rooms. We also spent a great deal of time going over the family tree of the family that restored the castle in the 1800’s onwards. Mostly because one of the tour guides heard me talking to Hazel about it and he thought I’d be ‘clever enough’ to make sense of his special paperwork on the topic. Made me feel just so special! 😉 Oh, and they had the best apple cake, in case you were interested!
September: Not too sure when we started this, but we tend to have an outing on the first official day back to school. This year it was a warm and gorgeous day, so off to the beach we went. It was one of those perfect beach days, not too hot, yet very sunny and warmish water.
A couple of days later our road was resurfaced, yet again. I think it’s the third time since I’ve lived here that it’s been resurfaced. The kids decided to sit out front and watch the men for most of the few days.
The Great British Bake Off dominated our Tuesdays this month. The kids decided to bake something to eat during the show, but it had to fit with the show’s theme for the day. I think they did a good job, and it was a nice way to make sure we didn’t just have cake or scones. We did buy cream slices the one week—I’m not going to be that adventures in the kitchen yet.
This summer we noticed a variety of caterpillars around the place. My favourite find was the Elephant Moth Caterpillar—honestly, we were amazed by it. Took me a little while to identify it, but we did. He built himself a cocoon and is in our shed, waiting till we go to be rehomed at the neighbours. Hopefully they will get a photo of him when he turns into the moth.
This month also meant that all of their groups were starting up again. They’d fallen out of love with Rangers as their favourite leader left, but other than that they were happy to continue. Kieran’s band had a small gig which Michael’s parents and his nephew came to see. We also had a family visit into the American Embassy—always a real treat.
On the 30th I had a minor surgery, which ended up being even more minor than they set out for. Basically, the laparoscopic surgery was stopped almost as soon as it was started. My insides were a complete mess, so they photographed everything, woke me up to tell me they needed about 5 hours to go in and fix everything, not the news I wanted to hear. Especially after waiting over 18 months telling them that something else was wrong the whole time. The added aggravation was, Michael and I knew about the trip to the USA and had hoped to be there by January—but NHS waiting lists meant that couldn’t happen. Needless to say-I was booked in far quicker than normal, but later than what the doctor wanted. Unfortunately the main surgeon was having his own neck operated on, so couldn’t schedule me till mid-December, and I did want him there. (More on that later!)
October: Obviously this month got off with the bad news of knowing I needed more surgery and that we were going to have to postpone our trip, again. (We’d already postponed it waiting for the September surgery.) The main dilemma was when we should tell the children. Our main sticking point was that Kieran would have to leave the band & Hazel, who is now a first flute, was going to leave her choir. The goal had been to tell them after the last scheduled performance the first weekend of October for Kieran’s band, but that was before we knew I needed more surgery. We didn’t want him playing knowing it was his last performance. This wasn’t a major issue for Hazel as the choir didn’t have anything planned until after we were supposed to leave & we know she can slot back into the choir without any problems.
On the way to the last gig, which was at the Bucklebury Beer Festival where they performed the last three years, we were still undecided when to tell the kids. (It was the band’s first performance there that made them the mini YouTube sensation that they became.) When we arrived at the festival we met up with some of Michael’s workmates who almost blew the surprise for us, luckily enough Hazel hadn’t heard what the two guys said. That sealed it for us—we’d tell them when we got home.
The kids knew we had turned down this offer before, so weren’t completely surprised when we told them. We were met by tears—but Hazel assured me she was excited and had no idea why she was crying. The real trauma for all of us was that this did mean we would have to re-home our lovely rabbits. Not something I was ready to deal with.
The fun bit for me was that Hazel had decided something amazing was going to happen during her 12th year—and I’d been hinting for ages that I was sure it would be. Fingers crossed it’s the awesome year she is hoping it is.
The rest of the month was just fairly low-key. I was recovering from the minor surgery, getting my head around the one to come & starting to work out the logistics of the move. The kids continued as normal with music and groups and visits with friends. We actually even made a few Halloween crafts, not something we had done in a few years.
Halloween is getting better all the time in the UK—they even went trick-or-treating and got quite a few treats, and we had about 7 lots of trick-or-treaters come to the house. Hazel was quite determined that she wasn’t going to dress up this year, but when she saw the one dress she decided that another year of dressing up was in order. Kieran was as caught up with Halloween as he has always been. Halloween music was played from the day after Easter; the costume discussion was carried on all summer until the chosen one was ordered! Let’s hope Halloween in America holds up to everything I’ve made it to be!