Of Updates, Self Expression and Bodily Autonomy

So, we have two children. This is not (or should not be) a surprise to my regular audience. If any of you still exist of course!

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#1 Son

He’s almost 12. In exactly 2 weeks in fact! No, I can’t believe it either. My baby boy has graduated Elementary School, begun Middle School and has damn well nearly finished 6th Grade!

From this:

From Kindergarten all the way through 5th Grade

To this:

This is Sixth Grade!

And while I tell myself he’s still my baby (I mean, he’s my son, he’ll always be my baby!)? There’s no denying he’s growing up. Faster than I think even he is ready for. Because puberty? Is heading towards us hard and fast! Boy howdy is it!

Anyone who says that only girls are emotional? And that puberty isn’t rough on boys? Does not have a gosh darned monkey fudging clue – and has likely either forgotten or has never been around pre-teen boys. Add in ADHD rage to a puberty hair-trigger and life is becoming… interesting. Which would be fine but TT is both a target and an antagonist. She is definitely a ‘morning person’ at the moment (in direct opposition to what everybody tells you about kids with ADHD!) and he… is not. At all. And as caffeine has the same effect upon him as it does upon me?

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There’s really nothing we can do to jump-start his brain in the mornings. And for school he has to be up at 06:30!!! So at weekends we are currently letting him sleep as long as he likes – with the caveat that I’ll let his sister be her usual levels of noisy from 10:30 and I’ll start pointedly yelling at around 11am. He needs to get up some time! That’s going to get ‘worse’ before it improves, but that’s normal.

He’s also struggling to study appropriately because all he wants to do is hang out with his friends and play video games.

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And he’s a bright kid so he’s coasting. Sadly, because we are in the USA and no longer in the UK, the grades he’s currently getting aren’t worth the equivalent they would have been were I or his dad the student attaining them. In Trimester 1 he was averaging A- which was awesome. He did have a chance to aim for an accelerated Math programme which would begin in 7th Grade but… Trimester 2 he completely tanked his grades because of the above.

Now, ADHD does impact here of course – but the kid has made choices. Including lying to me about completing a project then doubling down. Which, when I figured that out?

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Fortunately (for him) the child got lucky and there was an unexpected Snow Day called and he managed to complete a 10-slide presentation in 24 hours. And also managed to present it to the class for Extra Credit eventually.


The kid has his dad’s sense of humour (Goddess help me!) and he has no fear of public speaking as yet. Totally opposite to me there. Long may that continue!


So sadly he’s unlikely to be in Compacted Math program, at least from the start of 7th Grade. Which frustrates me, as I know he’s got the aptitude – but he hasn’t demonstrated it. So as much as I hate the saying? He has only himself to blame. Apparently though if he excels during 7th Grade he could be moved up. This is good because there’s a couple of Modules that are only available in 12th Grade if you’re on the Accelerated route – and I think they’ll interest him. But on the other hand, it’s a lot of pressure on 11/12 year olds.

We’ve also had a little discussion about him not being pissy if TT manages to get on to this program if he doesn’t. I will never ever compare my kids – they are light and dark – but if she managed it it would be through her own effort so I don’t want him salty with her.


And I did talk to him seriously about the program. What it would mean, how much work it would be both to get on it and what it would mean load wise going forward. I did not just throw him in at the deep end and force him to do it.


He was initially interested. And I gave him every opportunity to back out. He just didn’t like the effort required. Which is all normal. Honestly I’m completely relieved to be dealing with normal pre-teen kid issues that have nothing to do with ADHD. Obviously it’s always a contributing factor, but this is fine. See there are multiple steps he needed to complete to qualify, and I am certain he hasn’t met enough.

There have been other minor squabbles around school work. As I have his academic life on my phone – because Google Classroom allows for that. So oftentimes I can see when he hasn’t handed something in, or if it’s late. Which led to the following:

If you could see I’d forgotten to hand it in Mom, why didn’t you just turn it in for me?

Frustrated #1 Son – age 11

Ah nope Sonny Jim. That’s not how any of this works. If I started turning in his assignments for him, then it’s becomes a potentially slippery slope to simply doing the work for him. And that? Just won’t happen.

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What the hell will I be teaching him if I start going down that route? So we butt heads often. We occasionally fight. But, as I’ve said to both of them:

I am your mom. Not your friend. At least not yet. Hopefully when you’re grown, we will become friends. But right now? My job is to parent you. So that is what I’m doing. You’ll probably (often) hate me a lot before I’m through. But I’ll never ever stop loving you, and doing my darndest to turn you into a reasonably competent adult.

Me. Perpetually. Often exhaustedly

In other respects though, he is firmly coming into his own. He now self-identifies as HatBoy!

In summer 2023 one of his best mates gifted him a Boston Bruins baseball cap. This thing did not leave his head for weeks. He realized he loved wearing a hat. We did have some issues with older/other MVMMS students knocking them off his head and dropping them in puddles, but apparently you can wash baseball caps so that’s fine.

Then he discovered beanies/toques. He wanted to wear one constantly. So in a winter sale I nabbed multiple. Then I remembered I can knit/crochet. But the vast majority of my yarn stash is sock weight (yes yes it’s also known as fingering weight) I can feel you all sniggering in the back there.

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And whilst I love knitting, and I love the colours and variations you get in sock yarn (most of my stash is hand dyed and it’s all stunning).

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Unfortunately it is as thin as a very thin thing. As a result it means all items made have to have literally hundreds of stitches. And, as I may have mentioned? I have ADHD. So I go from:

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To:

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Practically instantaneously, and certainly with little to no warning. And I needed to churn a few of these buggers out and quickly. So I went scouring the internet for a pattern or two. Because I do not have a head for Math and so I couldn’t work out a way to do this myself from scratch.

Ironically it was a short video on the Book of Faces that found me what I needed. A designer has created a stash busting set of patterns (@knitstitchrepeat) and her Monster Hat gave me exactly what I needed. It’s designed for Super Bulky Weight but gives detailed instructions on how to make up that weight with multiple strands of thinner yarns. So I thought, why not try Fingering Weight yarn? I’ve got so bloody much of the stuff.

I didn’t jump in completely at the deep end and instantly start using all my ‘good’ yarn. I knitted up a few test ones in bog standard DK weight first.

This was my first attempt. I made a hat, but sadly it was slightly too short in the length for #1 Son so we threw that one at TT and I attempted another.
Much more successful, please excuse his rashy face – during the multiple bouts of strep and (in his case) Walking Pneumonia we have discovered that both kiddos are allergic to penicillin’s goddammit.

TT then demanded one made just for her. Which, fair.

Then I accidentally made a Minecraft inspired one:

No, I don’t remember what I said to make him laugh his head off. I might have asked him to discuss his veganism. Which… he’s not vegan so… laughter?

Once I had the basics for a well-fitting hat for him in yarn I didn’t particularly care about, it was time to move on to the stuff I did. Now, the designer herself isn’t insane and so hadn’t tried it using sock, because guess what? It takes nine or ten strands of yarn to do this. So yes, they get tangled. Yes there is swearing. But it’s damn worth it for the smile on his face and the fact that he is loving wearing hats that I have made for him!!!!

I was particularly proud of this one, as it was a really subtle play of colour and neutrals – with a bit of sparkle.
And, as you can see, it earned the seal of approval.
He picked the colours out for himself. All 10 of them. I had no idea that it would work up as pretty as it did.
It’s now one of his most-worn hats.

This isn’t all of them, I’ve put together a lot. Especially whilst the hus-creature was convalescing the basement with the dreaded ‘vid. As it turns out? I craft when I’m stressed. And the ones I’ve made for TT I may include in her section/post.

So now he is HatBoy. But summer is once again heading our way, so we will need to obtain a few baseball caps for him. Because sadly I can’t craft those.

I’m so damn proud of this kid. He frustrates me to death sometimes, but when I look back on where we were a few years ago? I can scarcely believe it. My current phase of parenting my eldest child can be summed up by vaguely mis-quoting a song:

At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You’re an asshole but I love you

True Love – P!nk & Lily Allen

And even though I am regularly Bad Cop? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Please stay tuned for TT’s update in a Part 2. Because it’s late, and I’m tired and arguing with technology takes it out of me! And she deserves equal page time.

Summer update

Wow it’s been a while (again) hasn’t it?

The issue is that for us, summer rolls on and on and therefore nothing really changes on a daily or, even weekly, basis.

#1 Son finished his summer camps. The reading one keeps trying to coax us into a fall programme for a mere $199 but given how disruptive he was for a good period of the first one, I really can’t justify that.

The Summer Learning Academy was much more successful, and I really hope we can build on it from August 29 when he starts 1st Grade.

Don’t know who his teacher is yet, nor have the supplies lists been issued, so I await that with bated breath.

He is signed up for Education Stations (basically after school club) for one day a week – pending cashing of cheque as I let that little bit of house admin slip past me!

Which will give him a little socialisation outside of school hours with his peers. I’m hopeful about it. It coincides with knitting group as daddy needs to pick him up so that seemed smart.

The wonderful A has agreed to pick him up from school for the rest of the week for the foreseeable. Yes, I will get my MA licence – I’ve just been terrified. I’m actually considering learning to ride a bicycle instead. I mean, it’s good exercise, but it’s mostly because driving here scares the beejeebus outta me!

As for me? Well I’ve lost almost 20lb and can fit into dresses I was wearing four years ago! Admittedly those are merely a (U.K.) size 16 but hey it’s progress in the correct direction.

I have finally gone to the dark side of men’s sandals but goddamnit they are comfortable. And they don’t look too bad with the dress – which is actually loose in this picture as it’s (U.K.) 18 but I felt good.

I’ve been baking more and it’s nice to find my zen.

These are the stages of a butterscotch pie – so good. I will be baking that one again!

Next up this week is homemade lemon curd.

TT continues to amaze and amuse. Her language is coming on in leaps and bounds. She is such a determined funny little person. She seems to finally have accepted that daytime clothing is a good thing. Occasionally she even lets me brush her hair!!!

She has also rediscovered her love of baths and even occasionally asks for a hair washing!

We still haven’t made it up to the damn beach as every free weekend we’ve had, the weather has been shite.


Not unlike Old England really πŸ˜‚πŸ€£


So the current plan is for the hus-creature to take a midweek day off and we will either head up to the beach or to the local indoor water park we’ve found.

In less than a month we are heading back to the U.K. for about a week for the wedding of my gorgeous sister in law and her handsome soon-to-be husband and I cannot wait. I’ve missed them so much.

We will be crashing with my parents, so I get to see everyone which is awesome.

My best friend lives within short driving distance of mom and dad too, so we are going to pop and see them too before we head back. I need my bestie cuddles too.

It’s not long enough, but we can’t keep #1 Son out of school for longer than a week (including jet lag recovery time).

He has a doctor’s appointment today for a Polio shot (he’s going to hate me!) and an IEP update. He’s decided he wants his daddy to take him. Am I a little miffed? Well not really – it’s lovely that he feels able to state a preference for the parent he wants. Daddy is more practical and won’t weep so I get it. I’ll stay home with TT to keep her out of the way, and the boys will go for ice cream after, to deal with any residual trauma.

I have a checkup with my own doctor on the 27th for blood pressure things – maybe I can also get some anxiety meds but we will see.

I also have my six month post operative check up on the 22nd. Since I’ve lost 20lb (and there’s still a little time to shift more) since they last saw me, I’m hopeful I won’t get too big a lecture on not having completely broken up with dairy πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I shall sign off now. There might be changes in post formats to try and encapsulate more stuff “as it happens” rather than trying to wait for enough to write an epic.

I leave you with a recent collage of my offspring. Because I’m bloody proud of them πŸ’—

An announcement

It’s been months of planning, building stock, blood, sweat, tears and self doubt; but as of this evening, I am thrilled to announce:

Tiny Tyrant Yarns is open for business

Yes, I’ve done it. I’ve officially put myself, and my creations, out there for all the world to see and (hopefully) admire. It’s thrilling, terrifying and wonderful. And the best thing?

I’ve had two orders already!!!

Please note that those prices do include postage!

But it’s a great start.

Thank you to my customers

Eeeeeeeeeeeeee I have customers!!!!!

Our weekend

It’s been another up and down-er.

Saturday, well a few good things happened.

The lady lady sent her handyman fiancΓ© down to fix our various issues.


Let us just gloss over the fact that we were given six minutes notice, and that I was still in my pyjamas.


So he fixed Nathan’s door handle straight away (though borrowing our tools to do it) but needed to return later to affix the new toilet seat and deal with the bathroom lock*

Which he did, at 17:00 with ten minutes notice this time.

The new toilet seat was equipped, and a hook and eye lock installed – almost out of my reach, so no worries about the children in the main.

He also noted that they were getting in a plasterer to fix H’s bathroom ceiling next month** so if we had any similar issues to report them and they would get them seen to at the same time.

Considering I will be recuperating from major abdominal surgery, how about no to random people in my house doing random crap? Plus H sent her son up two weeks ago and he dealt with the holes in our walls.

We then had Date Night. We saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I liked it. I mean yes there was some sad stuff, and some stuff that could have been better. I wonder what they will do about the next film given Carrie Fisher is no longer with us. But there were some adorable moments.

I want a Porg. And a Crystal Critter. And I used my scary spooky abilities and spotted the actress who played Dr. Ellie Stadler in Jurassic Park.

Which, leads me nearly on to some of the trailers I watched.

Films Which I Now NEED To See:

  • A Quiet Place
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • A Wrinkle In Time
  • Panther
  • JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM***

There were a few others, but given you cannot have your phone in the cinema, I’ve forgotten some.

So that was lovely. Film was good. Food at the cinema in-house bar wasn’t great but they do good cocktails. We had 45min to spare before the film, so we went to the arcade and played a Jurassic Park shooter – and I didn’t totally suck!!! So that was fun.

Behold the awesome that is reclining cinema seats though!!!

Didn’t get home til half midnight, but the sitter had cable and snacks and the kids hadn’t been evil, so she’s happy to come back next week for our Burns Night shenanigans.

Then came Sunday.

We had a visit from the lovely Libidia, and First and Third. Sadly Second was poorly-sick five minutes from our place, so his daddy took him home and vowed to return to collect his lady and remaining offspring anon.

TT adores Third. However she constantly refers to them as “baby”, which, as they are actually older than her we all find hilarious.

#1 Son gets on amazingly with both First and Second, so he was sad at the diminution of expected guests but they had fun.

However. I learned that I cannot trust him to play in his room at the moment.

During the course of the visit, we noticed three separate small marker pen drawings on the hallway wall. They were too well formed to be TT or Third. And Libidia knows her offspring well enough to know their “lying face”


I wish I did!!!!


#1 Son however not only denied it vociferously but blamed his sister. Now, one of these smaller drawings was a traced handprint. And he had the offending marker on his hand and palm. Yet continued to deny and deflect blame.

So we left that for a bit, until at the end of the visit we went to find them. To be greeted with this:

Now, he was not alone in this. First did assist. Libidia offered to help pay for cost of supplies to repaint.

Fortunately this was not required. Though it did take more than two tubs of wipes to clean off:

And it ruined my poor nails:

So, as you can imagine, neither myself nor the hus-creature were enamoured of our eldest yesterday.

And do not worry dear audience, he did not escape unpunished:

  • No allowance for last week.
  • Costs of materials needed to repaint were to be taken out of his savings.
  • No screens for the rest of the day.
  • I confiscated all colouring materials.
  • I made him tidy his room unaided whilst I scrubbed his walls.

He was not impressed. But he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me why he had done it.

So I shot off a quick email to his therapist, enclosing those photos and asked her to talk to him about it – if she deemed it appropriate.

So that was not a good end to the day.

However, look what I finished:

Yes – IT IS THE SOCKS.

The socks of wonder and joy.

My photo shoot got photobombed!

Despite all the trials and tribulations, I love this kid so darn much πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•


*There was much blathering about the existing one being a Mortise Lock and worry about the kids getting the key and similar.

Look, at this point I don’t frigging care – just get us a damn door lock!!!!

**Uh huh – we all believe that.

***No, really I NEED to. I regress to being an over-excited 10-year-old whenever there’s a Jurassic Park film involved (well except Lost World, but that was due to my disappointment with the book) this is one of my all-time favourite franchises and I cannot wait!!!!!

Self striping yarn

I am never one to shy away from a challenge. So, having figured out my warping board, I decided to have a play.

Most people would have started on say:

  • Sock yarn
  • In a superwash base
  • Certainly without silk, alpaca, cashmere etc
  • A simple co-ordinating colourway.

You know, what with it being their first attempt and all…

Would anyone like to have a guess at what I did?

Anyone?

  • Worsted weight.
  • Non superwash
  • 80:20 alpaca silk
  • Teal and a self made orange (1/4 tsp each of Jacquard Cherry Red and Sun Yellow). I think I might have gone too heavy on the red but we shall see.

So yeah, not the usual starter probably. But see, I’m knitting these glorious bed socks in 100% baby alpaca. I’m not going to try and sell my first striping attempt, so why not play on a base I can turn into more comfy bed socks for me?

Sister in law – see what you have inspired.

The skein all dyed up and ready for wrapping and steaming.

Okay so it’s a completely clumsy job, but here it is all wrapped and rolled:

Steaming away quite contentedly:

The rinsing process begins:

And now to the drying:

All I will say is that, though fun, and highly creative (since I can definitely see pretty much endless possibilities here)

I CAN SEE WHY THIS TYPE OF YARN IS EXPENSIVE TO BUY

Not counting drying time (which I can speed with the aid of the gas fire) this single skein has taken over four hours to produce.

Oh and it does this to hands:

I did wear gloves while actively dyeing. I just didn’t for the rinsing of the foam brushes… or the skein…

*hides from Na, her nail tech*

Warping 101

So, I dye yarn. I enjoy dyeing yarn, but I’ve yet to pass beyond the basics. And, if I want to actually try and sell what I make, I need to improve my skills.

On my Amazon wish list before Christmas were:

  • New wooden swift
  • Two warping boards.

The hus-creature got me my swift, and my wonderful in-laws got me my warping board.

I cracked them open today. Now, my tutor said to wind the skein of yarn into a ball before using the warping board.

These seemed like an unnecessary waste of energy to me, considering the the swift was already set up. And since it’s instructions said you could knit straight off of it in lieu of a winder?

Why couldn’t I warp straight from the swift?!

No good reason that I could see anyway.

Now I was tremendously pleased, until I took it off the board and discovered the loop effectively has a ponytail.

I then had my Leonard Da Quirm moment* and tried my next attempt:

While better, still not right – it’s not a continuous loop on removal darn it!

I will study some more, whilst attempting to understand what to do with these looped up skeins.

Stand by for Warping 102/202…


*Brain storm followed by “I think I know what I did wrong”

Random acts of yarn kindness

Well sort of.

I haven’t really talked much about one of my main keeping sane hobbies – my fibre arts.

That’s actually because most of my most recent projects (“works in progress” or WIPs) have been gifts or surprises so I haven’t really been able to publicise them.

I’m planning on getting back into the dyeing groove in the New Year (I am desperately awaiting my warping board) so I thought I might do a “Look Back on 2017” sort of thing.

At least for those projects now safely with their recipients.

So these are from a Swapalong. The idea is that we all completed a questionnaire stating what we were prepared to make and what we would be happy to receive and in preferred (and not preferred) colours.

As I can really only make shawls yet out of the stated options, I decided to make them a bit more special and one of a kind (OOAK) by dyeing up the yarn myself.

So in the summer came this:

This was a crocheted special and yes it truly was that big.

In the winter came this:

I chose the purple rather than the multiway.


Note: the pastels were caused by using a protein fibre dyeing method on a 50:50 Merino:Cotton blend – 50% protein and 50% cellulose.


This one is knitted, and I had discovered knitting with beads by this point.

Such fun to do πŸ˜†

As it was smaller than the first, I popped in a skein of the Wonder Woman sock yarn I covet so.

Both giftees seemed very happy.

In parallel to this, I was working on a much bigger project in 80:20 Alpaca:Silk (such gorgeous yarn to both dye and crochet with).

A friend and former colleague was diagnosed with that bastard cancer and I wanted to help, so I decided to make a “you will kick this thing’s backside” blanket.

This is one I am very proud of.

The darn blanket got stuck in customs, but it found it’s way to her in the end.

I’m finally working on something for myself now – I have a yarn advent calendar with an exclusive pattern πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘πŸ»

Our (Festive) weekend

This weekend just gone, a snowstorm was predicted.

As an aside, I have been more than a tad grumpy that there hadn’t been any snow. I mean gloom and doom from predicted from November and it’s now mid-December

Anyway, my prayers were answered on Saturday and it snowed.

But not a blizzard. Just a steady, visually light, constant shower of snow that, by the end of the afternoon, left 5-6 inches on the ground.

It stopped too late to let the kids play in it though. #1 Son was most sad about this.

However, on Sunday, whilst TT was napping, the hus-creature took him out to play in it.

Behold the first ever snow angels.

He had so much fun. Then there was Snickerdoodle hot chocolate.

After TT arose we also decorated our tree. Our real non-fake Christmas tree.


I swear, I was more excited by this than the children πŸ˜‚πŸ˜†πŸ€£


Baubles were divided by coloured thread topper:

  • Purple – #1 Son
  • Orange – The Tiny Tyrant

We subsequently found the box of “special” ornaments. You know the ones, every family has them. Either bought for, or made by, the children.

Yes, those are Adventure Time baubles.

TT also spent much of the day being a modern Disney Princess

Ana with a light saber.

It was a good weekend.

The (apparent) aftermath

I am unwell today.

I’ve had killer headaches off and on for over a month – a lot of that can most likely be attributed to my untreated hypertension (started my new medication yesterday – I am now on three pills a day πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜‚)

But at 3am this morning I was dragged awake with a screaming head – to the extent I actually woke the poor hus-creature by sobbing.

And I remained awake for at least an hour.

This beautiful creature kept me company though:

I’ve often said we have a dog-cat πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Sadly kitty-snuggles were not sufficient and at 4am I was calling God on the porcelain telephone.


Note: American toilets are not comfy for doing this if you are used to British plumbing.


Oddly I felt better enough to then snuggle down with my furry companion and my cuddly hot water bottle (that would be the hus-creature) and basically pass out until the alarms went off.

I’ve pretty much been a zombie for the rest of the day though. Just mainlining stodge, carbs, sugar and caffeine to get through.

No it’s not healthy but lord has it helped.

My head is still pounding, and #1 Son has a half day today, but he’s being lovely and TT is also being reasonable.

A little Christmas present from me to me arrived today:

Which has helped.

I am so tired of feeling sick and tired. Endometriosis is a bastard, and all the other conditions can get in the sea as well.

December Madness

Begins.

I’m still working on the Thanksgiving update so stay tuned for that dear audience.

So. Yesterday was December 1st. Therefore Advent Calendars are back in this household.

However this year no edible ones.

Mainly because we think TT is still a bit young for daily chocolate, and she’s old enough to be totally annoyed if her big brother has one when she doesn’t. So we went with fancy toy ones.

But, there are very few options for two year olds.

#1 Son has a Lego one. TT? Well we scoured everywhere and finally found a Paw Patrol one with no tiny pieces. TT still insists on sticking non food items in her mouth!

As for me, normally I have a Hotel Chocolat sharing one, but I didn’t think about it in time and I don’t know if they ship here.

So instead, I treated myself to a Sparkle Yarn advent box from Tinky Dye Yarns. The lovely Maria has been still shipping my clubs to me so this was a lovely addition.

The glorious box:

Dec 01:

It also comes with a bespoke pattern which will soon be on sale on Ravelry from the lovely Julie-Ann Amos and I am happily working my way through it.

I have not yet opened today’s window.

We also went to the Melrose Christmas Lights switch on last night:

There was live music

The children wanted some of the light up plastic tat that they sell. #1 Son got a light sabre, TT a snowflake magic wand.

That wand lasted less than 30 minutes before she whacked it against the stroller hard enough to shatter the snowflake πŸ™„

It’s not like they were $10 apiece or anything….

But the piΓ©ce de resistance of the evening was seeing SANTA.

Yes those are the Melrose High School cheerleaders.

The best bit though?

The kids. Both were so thrilled to see Santa.

I teared up with the happiness. I didn’t expect the sheer delight for both of them.

Mall visits will happen soon.

Today or tomorrow we will buy a tree and new decorations.

Oh, I’m also trying a new nail salon tomorrow as my last set didn’t last two days 😑😑😑