Sunday, December 03, 2006

Catching Up - Again!

I can't believe it's been a week since I last blogged!

Let me try and catch up on some bits from the week..

On Monday Joshua went out for the day with his friend Theo to celebrate Theo's birthday. This entailed a trip to the Natural History Museum, a turn around the ice rink, and lunch at a noodle house. Joshua thoroughly enjoyed the day and I was glad that he felt confident to go out without either of us.

In the evening, Theo's parents kindly invited us over to share the evening with them and some more of Theo's extended family. We were very blessed to be invited to share a meal with them all and very touched to be included in what was obviously a special family time.

This week we managed to get the second car fixed and re-MOT'd which was a relief. We've also ordered a new alternator for the Kia, which should mean THAT car gets back on the road soon!

Tuesday was our regular meeting at the indoor play area, with 7 families coming along including a new family. I know I've said it before, but it is so good to see so many different aged children getting along at this event.

We are currently doing a sponsored "Find the Cranberry" for Cancer Research and the group has also decided not to exchange Christmas Cards, but to put donations in to getting an Oxfam Unwrapped gift instead.

On Thursday we had some HE friends over for the afternoon, which was very pleasant. Again, the wide variety of ages and interests that the boys come across within their HE friends now can only be good for them. I definately know that their socialisation experience and skills have improved a hundred fold since leaving school. It is also a relief that my children now have friends that I'm happy to have come over!

In the evening we popped round to see friends, and to help them a little with their house move - always a stressful experience, but more so when it is not through a positive choice (as we've found this year) and also not this near to Christmas.

Friday I had a meeting with Bromley LA. It gave me the chance to meet the new team at the newly created Children & Young People's Service over there and to put names to faces. As before, it was a quite open and frank discussion, but I genuinely felt that we all came away from the table having learnt something about each other that can only positively contribute towards the future relationship between us.

Saturday it was time to start Christmas! It was quite interesting going back to my blog from this time last year and seeing what we did - nothing much has changed!

We've always made it a whole season experience both as a way of avoiding an anticlimax on Christmas Day, but mainly to be able to focus on Advent and the truth behind Christmas. As a family it is a special time for us.

This year is, of course, very poignant. My Dad was always such a big kid at Christmas - he had an awful childhood really and, somewhat like Roarke, determined to make the Christmas's of his married life, and later family life, the ones with the memories to treasure. Putting the decorations up, for me and for Mum, was almost unbearable. I can hear and see him in every piece of tinsel, and in every Christmas song on the radio. I never want to hear a Carpenters' song again..

Still, I had to do it, for the boys sake. Roarke is not a fan of tinsel, so our decorations centre around lights. No plastic snowmen - and the robins mentioned in last year's post got stolen last Christmas - but we have got some white icicle lights, and one rope light out the front. Inside, we have a beautiful tree, and more lights (!). I'll try and take pictures (yes I know, I always say that but rarely remember!)

One family tradition is to decorate the children's rooms. We now have two upstairs grottos! Actually, they look quite lovely. Joshua has green garlands across his (small) room entwined with coloured fairy lights, a few tinsel strands colour coordinated to his room, and some star decorations. Samuel and William (a large room) have a tree in the window (our old one) which we let the boys decorate (I had to tie my hands behind my back and promise myself not to redo it the moment they turned their backs!). There is also tinsel around all the walls, and fairy lights across it too.

I helped Mum through some of the pain of putting hers up. That was not easy. Now to face the cards...

In the evening on Saturday Grace and David came over with Theo and Toni. A lazy evening was had - watching (I must admit shamefully) The X Factor. Yeah I know! In my defense its the only thing like this I've ever watched! Somehow I've got suckered in when Samuel has been watching it!

Today I was too ill for church. I went to bed with a migraine which I can't really take anything for, whilst I'm pregnant. On top of which, the very strong winds made it very noisy. I've always been a light sleeper and very in tune with the weather which frequently keeps me awake.

So I had a quiet two hours, on the sofa. Having the boys home 24-7 you do forget just what an empty house sounds like!

The first of the two Christmas cakes have been eaten! Did I mention them? I tried two gluten free receipes. I used the Glutafin recipe with their own mix (but you can substitue Dove's flour quite easily or any other gf flour mix) and it was nice, but definately beaten hands down by the recipe from Heather on Peter Thomson's site. Do try it even if you are not gluten free - its the most moist cake ever!

So having had the legitmate reason this year for making three cakes (as also mentioned last year!) I now need to get baking again. Oh, and I made mince pies too!

We've started on our Advent pockets - I made them last year out of felt and bits and pieces, and each day after dinner we get one down and the boys get a chocolate coin. This year we are reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens each day. We couldn't find a children's version, so the adults are reading it and having to amend/change the language/interpret as we go along! Anyone know of an online version for children?

Talking of online books, Joshua made and printed some Christmas stories from tonight. Whilst he knows all about the "real" Christmas, we never stop them playing on that site as it adds to their sense of fun and festivity. Not for all Christians, I know, but we've found a way over the years to stop the children from struggling too much with the discord between what we as a family believe and practice, and what they see around them everyday in the run up to the commercial Christmas.

Joshua is also working on a script for something the boys are working on with Theo. He was trying to get his ideas down on paper, so I showed him some sites on storyboarding which seemed to help.

I'll leave you with my new word for the day. I came across this on one of the email lists, debating many of the things going wrong in our society today:

"The Panopticon as described by Foucault was a device to enable prison guards to see all the inmates of the prison without them being seen. Although the inmates would know that this device was in place, they would never be able to be sure if they themselves where being watched at any particular moment. Therefore, they had to simple assume that they were being observed and would then behave accordingly. This meant that the prisoner would see themselves in the same way they wanted the guard to see them (behaving) and thus be self surveying."


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