Monday, December 31, 2007

Knitting Projects

I have a whole raft of knitting projects lined up for next year ... mainly for Little Cherub, who is at a great age to knit for. Little jumpers (sweaters) and cardigans for her don't take long to knit, and they use little enough wool that I can actually afford to knit using the yarn recommended by the pattern rather than a budget version.

I am already half way through knitting this little fur-trimmed jumper using Sirdar Snuggly and Funky Fur ...

I picked up some bright pink Sirdar Snowflake yarn in a sale bin a couple of weeks ago, and after trying and failing to adapt another pattern that used yarn with a completely different tension, have now ordered this pattern to make a little cardigan, and some sky blue Snuggly Bubbly wool to knit another using the original pattern.

I found a wonderful book at the library that has many, many patterns I would like to knit: The Big Book of Kids' Knits by Zoe Mellor. I like this so much I am tempted to buy it rather than keep renewing the loan. Thanks to a Christmas gift from my mother cotton yarn to knit this little jumper for summer is on the way ...

I am determined to tackle this long term project from the same book ... a knitted puppet theatre.

A puppet theatre that can hang from a door frame and be rolled up when not in use is far more practical for our limited space than a free standing one, and this looks so bright and appealing. Sizing isn't crucial, so any budget double knitting yarn should work. Even the puppets are knitted. I'm sure Star would love using this, and Little Cherub would get years of fun from it.

Unlike scrapbooking, knitting is something I can easily pick up and put down even with a toddler around, so I'm hoping I can get all these projects made next year. Another appealing aspect of taking up knitting again is that I am a good enough knitter to be able to knit while I read, which means I can keep up with both the Formation and Fun sections of my New Year's Resolutions simultaneously.

New Year Resolutions 2008

I'm spending some of my Christmas season downtime pondering changes I need to make and getting organised for next year ... starting with my New Year resolutions. Every year I make new ones; every year I fail to keep them, but that is no reason not to keep trying. I did better with my 2006 resolutions for which I focused on five specific areas than I did with my 2007 short-and-sweet version, so I'm reverting to the 2006 format.

A daily 30 minute quiet time for spiritual reading and prayer.

Keep on the Motivated Mom wagon for the entire year.

Walk to Rivendell with Frodo. I think 458 miles in a year should be possible. If I aim at 10 miles a week that allows for the inevitable slippage. HT: Heather at Doodle Acres

Read at least one history book each month. It has been a while since I have done any serious historical reading and I would like to catch up a bit with what is going on in the historical world, plus read up on some topics I'm interested in.

Knit. After doing virtually no knitting for years I have enjoyed the occasional knitting project over the last couple. I think I'll make 2008 the year of the knitting needle and take it up again properly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Happy Christmas

Thirteen things that made this a happy Christmas ...

  1. Singing carols in the High Street on Christmas Eve
  2. Happy girls sitting on our bed opening stockings
  3. Little Cherub's happy squeak of recognition when she opened a package and found Iggle Piggle
  4. Mass on Christmas morning (despite Cherub's best efforts at disruption)
  5. Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, the cooking of which all went to plan
  6. Socialising with family, friends and neighbours
  7. Chocolate
  8. The Doctor Who Christmas special
  9. My new iPod Touch
  10. A leftovers breakfast for Boxing Day (smoked salmon sandwiches for Tevye and I, houmous and yellow pepper for Angel, grumbles from Star because there was no leftover apple pie. Oh, and I finished up the Christmas pudding with brandy butter and cream. Yes, I do have good digestion!)
  11. Visiting Grandma for Boxing Day tea and enjoying the comparison with last Christmas when she was in hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery and we were trying to pack up her house ready to move
  12. Reliving my childhood by playing my brother's favourite childhood game, Coppit. I found a set in a charity shop and couldn't resist buying it for him.
  13. Watching a BBC adaptation of Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes - a real treat, despite a little plot tweaking to add a romance for Garnie.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant.
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and adore Him,
Born the King of angels.
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!

I hope you all have a very happy and blessed Christmas season.

Christmas Eve

New and old traditions today.

Old ...
A trip to our local metropolis (MK) to see the Christmas display and treat ourselves to drinks, cakes and biscuits in the John Lewis restaurant - on the first floor with an open gallery overlooking the square below, it is a great place for people watching and admiring the display below. We find going on Christmas Eve when everything is winding down for Christmas a much nicer experience than fighting the crowds earlier in December. This year's display was themed on The Wind in the Willows and was well done, I thought. Angel took Little Cherub for a ride on the carousel which she loved, waving and giving us beaming smiles each time she passed us. Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera. (Cherub, I'm glad to say, is making a rapid recovery from an upper respiratory tract infection that laid her low at the weekend thanks to a course of antibiotics.)

Newish ...
Joining two thousand or so others to sing carols in our local High Street (my guess of number, which could be wildly out!). Organised to raise money for charity and led by the Salvation Army band, it proves that the political correctness that makes Christmas an unmentionable word has not yet reached our part of the country. Carols sung with varying enthusiasm, Father Christmas in his sleigh on the back of a truck throwing sweets, and ending with Auld Lang Syne (a little early for New Year?) and God Save the Queen. All very traditional. We used to go to the Vigil Mass of Christmas which overlaps with the carol singing. Last year we managed to squeeze in both by running - more or less literally - from one to the other. This year we decided to do the carols tonight and go to Mass on Christmas morning.

New ...
For the first time ever we put up our Christmas tree on New Year's Eve. Angel and Star had both grumbled a little about not having it up earlier, but when it came to it thoroughly enjoyed putting it up today. It definitely added to the almost-Christmassy feeling. Maybe we will stick to this and make it a new family tradition. I usually leave the tree until a week or so before Christmas, but this year was particularly inefficient - not a bad thing, as it turned out.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Book Meme

It is a while since I have done a meme and as a bookworm I ought not to miss this one.
HT: Alicia

One book that changed your life:
Schools Out: Educating Your Child at Home by Jean Bendell. The first book I ever read on home education, that convinced me this was something I wanted to try.

One book that you’ve read more than once: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien.

One book you’d want on a desert island: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. A book I would love to re-read, but I suspect I would need to be on a desert island to get round to it.

One book that made you laugh: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

One book that made you cry: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Twomey by Susan Wojciechowski

One book that you wish had been written: A modern round-the-world living geography book for children. I'm thinking a cross between Michael Palin style travelogue and Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels.

One book that you wish had never been written: The Antiquary by Walter Scott. I had to read this for an English exam at school and have never been able to read any Walter Scott since.

One book you’re currently reading: Home Education by Charlotte Mason.

One book you're planning on reading: Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Confessions of a serial present buyer

Here is the run down on my Christmas preparations ...

Baking? Not done.

House decorated? Not yet.

Cards posted? Almost. I just have to stick stamps on and take them out to the post box. (And yes. I know I have missed the last posting date for Christmas. Still. I can hope!).

But here I sit with all presents bought and (almost) all wrapped.

I confess. I like buying Christmas presents. And I like wrapping them. Almost anything I buy for the girls during December (or even November!) is likely to get put away and wrapped. Even the jogging pants Angel needs for school got wrapped. Cold legs in December? Tough!

I don't think I am an extravagant gift buyer - certainly the amount I spend on each child is a great deal less than the average parental spend (£137 in 2005, according to Google). The same article points out that this is much higher than the £86 spent by over-50s when their children were young. Well, Tevye is over-50, our children are still young, and we don't make it up to £86 either.

I couldn't find an average number for presents, but I bet I beat it. I think I must be the queen of stocking fillers. The girls get one main gift, but all sorts of bits and bobs I wouldn't normally buy find their way into Christmas stockings and under the tree.

I truly hate the outbreak of Christmas materialism every year. So why am I a serial present buyer?

Is there a cure?

Do I need one?

Maybe. Maybe not. But I do need to get those cards posted ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Busy toddler

What happens when you leave a toddler briefly unattended in the kitchen while you put shopping in the freezer? You come back to find her sampling a stock cube.

What happens when you turn your back on the same toddler to clear up the boxes of stock cubes scattered over the floor? You find her busily pouring herself a bowl of cornflakes, most of which land on the floor instead of in the bowl.

At least she was too interested in watching me clear up the cornflakes to get into anything else!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back on the wagon

I fell off the Motivated Mom wagon.

I got back on FlyLady.

I fell off FlyLady.

I wallowed in a failed housewife mess for several months. I got pregnant and was ... too ... tired ...

Now I am no longer tired and I am motivated. I have downloaded my Motivated Mom planner for 2008 and I am so very thoroughly motivated I have even started early (I adapted the pages for next December). I downloaded the whole kit-and-caboodle. Daily planner pages with chores, space for a menu plan and even a plan for reading the entire Bible in a year. At only £4 ($8) for a full year of daily plans I don't have any difficulty justifying the expenditure.

I do think I am better suited to Motivated Moms than any other house control system I have seen. I simply don't see what needs to be done ... or if I do see it, I then forget about it. I like FlyLady for decluttering, but I do better with a simple checklist for basic household tasks. I like being able to check one or two items off if I have a few minutes to spare. I can also pick out more toddler friendly tasks as necessary. I just have to remember to look at what I have done and not get demoralised by things I don't get to, or if I have a few bad days.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We're cloning nine-year-olds

Star and her "twin" (best friend F) as photographed and edited by herself.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gentle Learning: Rhythmic Days

Still meandering slowly through my ideas for gentle preschool years ... I posted a while ago about yearly rhythm, and here - after a long hiatus - is the follow up installment on rhythmic days.

What do I mean by rhythmic days? Not days lived according to a timetable, but days that follow a regular and comfortable pattern. To me rhythm means something more than routine - it gives each day a natural flow, it allows for variation according to season and opportunity, and it encompasses the inevitable crisis days without falling apart as our routines have a tendency to do. Learning opportunities can be worked into a daily rhythm in such a way that learning happens naturally and gently.

Having said that, for me the way to routine and rhythm is often a timetable. I am not the most self-disciplined of people and my days can easily run away from me if I don't have a plan, and preferably a plan on paper. Setting out a timetable for the way an ideal day would run is a valuable exercise for me. I can see what it is realistic to include in our day (or week) without running into a time crunch. Once I have an "ideal" day on paper, I test it and tweak it in practice until it mutates into a routine or rhythm, and the original timetable disappears. The timetable is a tool and a means to an end.

The educational philosophy that lends itself particularly to rhythmic days is Waldorf, so this is where I have been looking for inspiration in this area. Charlotte Mason schedules are typically more formal and start at age six, and Montessori (as I understand it) allows for a specific period of "work" within which the child has free choice of activities. This schedule from Practical Waldorf at Home: Kindergarten with Your Three to Six Year Old by Donna Simmons includes much of what I would like to include in an early years routine - housework, outdoor time, "Circle Time" (which for us would include morning prayers), creative play, stories, art and craft, and reading aloud.

  • 8.00 Household chores
  • 8.30 Morning walk
  • 10.00 Snack time followed by Circle Time and finish with a story
  • 10.45 Creative play or project based on the story
  • 12.00 Lunch preparation and lunch
  • 1.00 Rest time
  • 2.00 Outdoor or indoor play
  • 3.30 Craft activity or painting
  • 4.30 Read aloud followed by supper preparation

The specifics would be different to fit into the natural rhythm of our family, but this gives an outline I could use as a starting off point. I know from experience that our daily rhythm constantly mutates as the child grows and changes, and it is also seasonal - we tend to spend more time out and about in the summer and more time indoors in winter. Days that include outside activities, play dates or errands obviously look different to those spent entirely at home.

Lessons learned by a brass band novice

When playing Christmas carols in the high street in near freezing temperatures remember the following ...

  • Wear at least one more layer of clothes than you think will be necessary. Or better still, two.
  • Do not wear fingerless gloves. If you do, put another pair of proper gloves over the top.
  • Two pairs of socks is not enough.
  • Three hours is a very long time.
  • Try not to think about mulled wine, warm mince pies, log fires and restorative tots of brandy. It only makes you feel colder.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Baby Love

Angel has adored babies since she was tiny. She spent many hours playing with her dolls, and once she was big enough was rarely seen at homeschool events without someone's baby or toddler in her arms. Little Cherub seems to be a chip off the same block. She also loves her doll and is fascinated with other babies and toddlers. Today she had her first opportunity to cuddle a real baby - little K, who is just three weeks old. Doesn't Cherub look a natural?

She was absolutely enthralled by K, and very concerned to look after her. After seeing K drink her milk from a bottle, Cherub produced her "Baby"'s bottle and tried to put it in K's mouth. Later she offered her a biscuit (cookie), and a ball to play with. Very thoughtful, if a little premature! Her delight when she was allowed to sit with K on her lap was palpable.

We were amused by the relative sizes. Cherub is still a tiny twenty pounder, whereas K weighed in at nine pounds and has already added another. Her hands are nearly as big as Cherub's! Incidentally, Cherub's hair is not as red as it appears in this photo - some trick of the camera flash that brings out every red highlight?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Saint Lucy's Day Miracle

Many people in the Catholic homeschooling world know - online, if not in person - Jenn Miller, who contributed many of the liturgical year articles at Catholic Culture and continues to share boundless ideas on how to celebrate the Christian year with children through her blog and elsewhere.

Back in March Jenn shared in this post her hopes and prayers for a long awaited second child and her struggle to accept the possibility that the answer to her prayers was "no". Today on the feast of St. Lucy she gave birth to her second son, Nicholas Peter, born safely by c-section at 36 and a half weeks.

As someone who has known the joy of a miracle baby myself, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to know someone else is experiencing that same special joy. Congratulations, Jenn! There are a lot of people who will be smiling their way through Christmas, thinking of you and that precious little boy.

I know it is a bit late for this year, but if you want ideas for celebrating St. Lucy's Day, check out Jenn's post last year at O Night Divine.

Christmas Meme

I've seen this meme a few times but never got round to doing it. I was finally spurred into action by reading it today at You Did What?

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Paper. Occasionally recycled gift bags ;).

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. Tevye has an uneasy relationship with Christmas trees which would not be improved by needles underfoot.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually a week or so before Christmas. I like the idea of doing it on Christmas Eve, but have never managed to hang out that long.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Epiphany or the day after if I don't get round to it on January 6th. I'm a firm believer in celebrating the full Twelve Days of Christmas.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I've never tried it. I'm not even sure exactly what it is. Do you drink it?

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I can't remember a single one! I think almost all our toys were either birthday or Christmas presents, so I'm sure some of my favourites must have arrived at Christmas - I just have no idea which ones. I only remember the general excitement of unwrapping.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Two. A soft, squishy plastic toddler one bought from the Early Learning Centre when Angel was little. It surfaced from the maelstrom of stuff that has swamped our garage just in time to use with Little Cherub. The other is a Playmobil nativity set. One day I hope to graduate to a proper grown up one!

8. Hardest person to buy for?
Michael, who doesn't do "stuff". Which means the stuff mountain we have accumulated over the years is entirely my responsibility.

9. Easiest person to buy for?

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I don't remember receiving anything I positively disliked.

11. Mail or email Christmas Cards?
Mail. Usually late.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
The Box of Delights. Though as it was originally a TV series I'm not sure it counts?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas ?
Usually September or October. I don't have a great deal of shopping to do, and I like to spread it out not end up with a last minute rush.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Christmas pudding with custard, cream and brandy butter. All at once.

16. Clear lights or colored on the trees?
Clear until last year, when I splurged and bought a bigger, better set of coloured lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Hark the Herald Angels. Sung in a full Church with the organ at full throttle.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Rudolf. Donner and Blitzen. Prancer and Dancer. That's it. How many should there be?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Tacky and rather squashed tinsel star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. Stockings (small) first thing, then the rest after breakfast.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Shopping mania, especially in large shopping malls. An annoyance I can now avoid thanks to online shopping.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
Everything. Apart from shopping mania.

24. Most difficult thing about Christmas?
Shopping mania.

25. Favourite Christmas Tradition?
Midnight Mass (which I rarely get to these days).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Star's Portrait Gallery

Our family, as seen and drawn by Star.

Tevye cooking ...

Me ironing ...

Angel using the computer (this one didn't scan so well) ...

She didn't draw herself or Little Cherub.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I dug out a few of our simpler Christmas books for Little Cherub and she has fixated on The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett. A good choice, as I love Jan Brett's illustrations.

When we read we have to spend some time dwelling on "five gold rings" - she is very impressed by these, as she had not discovered rings before and has to inspect my ringed fingers and her ringless ones carefully every time we reach this page. Another attraction are the squirrels on the first page - here she points to the back garden and the front window to indicate that here are places where she sees squirrels, then signs "all gone" to indicate there are none there just now.

Today, she had a lightbulb moment and made a new connection. Now, whenever we get to "eight maids a-milking" she insists on taking a break from reading for a little milk snack. Honestly Cherub, this is taking breastfeeding on demand a step too far ...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

iLove iTunes

I love iTunes!

I love being able to browse through music, listen to samples, and download just those individual items I especially want.

I love being able to feed my eclectic and rather random musical tastes from my own desktop.

I think I have discovered how to link to individual tracks on iTunes so that I can share what I am currently listening to, so here goes ... in Advent and Christmas mood ...

Veni, Veni Emmanuel by The King's Singers (Latin version of O come, O come Emmanuel)
The King's Singers - Christmas - Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Gaudete by Steeleye Span (medieval English carol)
Steeleye Span - The Best of Steeleye Span - Gaudete

If you click on the iTunes buttons they should open iTunes (if you have it on your computer) and link to the track in the iTunes store. It seems to be working OK for me, though a bit slowly. I'd love feedback on whether or not it works for you, so I know whether it is worth posting links in future.

If it does work and you want to play, here is the link maker.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A moment of weakness

Inspired by these posts from Theresa at La Paz Home Learning and Rebecca at A Gypsy Caravan, I had rapped myself firmly over the knuckles for being a heedless Christmas shopper and determined to be more thoughtful and creative in future (too late for this year). I even bookmarked things to consider next year for Little Cherub as an alternative to chain-store bought, made-in-China, plastic "stuff".

So what happens? I buy a beanie Iggle Piggle to slip into Little Cherub's stocking. Iggle Piggle is the "star" of In The Night Garden, the BBC's latest offering for toddlers, which makes the Magic Roundabout look like pacy, incisive drama. The wonder is that any episode can be drawn out for an entire thirty minutes (Iggle Piggle falls asleep in Upsy Daisy's bed ... Upsy Daisy is upset ... Iggle Piggle wakes up ... everyone hugs and is happy ... Upsy Daisy goes to sleep ... recap plot for those who may have missed it). The BBC, however, apparently knows its market. Little Cherub is entranced every evening for a very convenient half hour between dinner and bath time.

So much for my good Christmas shopping intentions. Though I suppose I did say next year.

And yes, Iggle Piggle is made in China. At least he isn't plastic.

How weak am I?

In my own defence I do try to stick to toys that are creative or have good play value, and I loathe anything electronic with noises or flashing lights. Also I'm not anti-plastic as such - we love Playmobil. I just want to change the balance a bit and look for more beautiful and unusual toys, and more creative gifts for the older girls.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Little Cherub's Book Choice: Two Tiny Mice

I picked up this book - Two Tiny Mice: a Natural World Adventure, by Alan Baker - in the library a couple of months ago, attracted by the beautiful illustrations and the idea of a book that introduces English wild animals to small children. It sat in the book basket untouched for a few weeks before Little Cherub decided it met her current book choice criteria. Those criteria largely involve animals - preferably animals she can identify (frogs! ducks! squirrels!) - and things to count (two mice!), so it was a fairly safe bet that she would eventually fix on this book as a favourite.

This is one of those library books I would like to own. The illustrations are stunning, with animals ranging from moles to otters set in detailed natural surroundings. The main text is just simple verse ("Two tiny harvest mice, scampering in the wheat. Wandering through the countryside, who will they meet?"), but this is a book you buy for the pictures, not the words. The revised 2006 edition includes a section of brief nature notes on each of the featured animals at the end, which would be useful to use with school aged children.

There is also a companion book, Two Tiny Mice Explore, which I'm hoping to be able to get from the library. I tried to reserve it, but their website is down. Bah! Humbug!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Figuring it out

You remember Angel? The child who drove me to distraction over maths while homeschooled? Not so much because she couldn't do it, more that she wouldn't because she had convinced herself she couldn't.

Last week she announced "I'm working as hard as I can in maths, because I want to get moved up to the top set". Why? Because her friends are in the top set. Who says peer pressure is always a negative thing!

This week she showed me the project she had been working on in class. Hard to describe, but it was an investigation into the properties of numbers in a grid - working out general rules to find the difference between products of opposite corners in a number square taken from any part of variously sized number grids. (It truly is impossible to explain without seeing it. So why am I trying?) . She had done pages of immaculately neat - and correct - work, and had stuck only at the final hurdle of working out an overall general rule involving square size and grid size. Given that it was an algebraic formula involving two variables and squares I'm not surprised she stuck. I'm just amazed that she made it that far, happily. What a difference a few months makes!

She also informed me that having to work on maths for an hour at a time was OK ... "when you spend time practicing it, maths is a lot easier". Well yes, dear. I could have told you that. And have. Frequently. But for Angel, it has taken working alongside others to realise that yes, she can do maths, and yes, practice does help.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fetching Headgear

Like little Bella at the Wine Dark Sea, Little Cherub has developed a taste for hats. Here is today's carefully arranged headgear ... a fetching pink sunhat. So appropriate for December.

Advent Ups and Downs

The ups and downs of Advent with a toddler ...

Up ...

And down ...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent Box

I managed to follow through on my idea of Faith Boxes for Little Cherub and put together an Advent Box. Here are the contents ...

And here is Little Cherub exploring them (and wearing a rather too large hairband belonging to a sister) ...

She seems very pleased with her box and has taken the contents out then repacked them several times today. The soft toddler's nativity set and the little Christmas board books were bought when Angel was around the same age. They had been buried and forgotten in the garage since Star outgrew them, and were unearthed at just the right time to use with Little Cherub.

The pictures are a product of my new toy - a laminator. I have coveted one for a while, but had no idea what to buy or whether it would be worth the cost. Finally I found one at Argos that was so cheap (£12 including £6 worth of free pouches) I decided just to take the plunge and hope it worked. It does exactly what it says on the box. It laminates. Which is exactly what I wanted. (Why I imagined that there might be laminators which don't actually laminate I'm not sure!) I included in Little Cherub's box pictures of St. Nicholas, St. Lucy, Our Lady (for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), the journey to Bethlehem, and a set of cards for the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. She seems particularly impressed with both the picture of St. Nicholas and the wooden Santa (which I think looks a particularly St. Nicholas-ish Santa).

Finally I added in a little Hannukah board book and a chunky wooden dreidl, so that I can begin to introduce her to the Jewish festival as well as to Christmas.

New Look for Advent

Thank you for all the prayers and sympathy on the loss of our baby. The last week or so hasn't been easy. Physically it has left me very tired and it looks as though it will take a while to fully recover from the miscarriage. Ever the optimist, I always assume I will bounce back from things quickly, and it comes as a bit of a shock when I don't.

Still, onwards and upwards ... it is Advent, and I am beginning to get some energy back!

I love the Advent season, which for me is always a time for looking forward, a new beginning. This year it could not be better timed. One thing I have managed to do over the past few days is put together an Advent box for Little Cherub. I still need to dig out the Jesse tree symbols and decorations for our Advent tree and I want to get a slightly larger tree as the little one I used last year drowned under the number of things I hung on it.

I have also updated my blog for Advent - I think I have finally mastered tweaking headers and backgrounds in Blogger without it being a painfully frustrating exercise. The picture in the header is part of the Jesse Tree window of Chartres Cathedral in France, to give a nice medieval Advent touch.