Thursday, September 28, 2006

Surviving the life...

Well, birthday tea over and done with, and house in one piece, more or less. They are all pretty good kids, but when you get that many of them in the room at once, they do get a little hyper. And it's not like in school, where they expect to have to be calm, so you don't feel like you can just make them sit still the whole time (more's the pity). But I think Sarah had fun and the rest seemed to as well, so that's ok. Looks like we might have to postpone the Chessington trip until next weekend, though, as the weather looks like it's going to be foul.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Glorious weekend

We had some friends around this weekend - Geoff's colleague Heather, who works in the Boston office and his colleague Florian, who works in London. Also, Florian's girlfriend Alice, who I hope had a lovely time despite being somewhat overwhelmed by my kids and us all talking quickly in English (she's German and speaks good English, but it's one thing to talk one-on-one and quite another to keep up with a rapid, far-ranging conversation involving lots of obscure American and English cultural references - Heather and I had a conversation about Jon Hughes films in conjunction with proms, for instance...)

Anyway, the day was glorious, so after lunch and before dessert we decided to go for a walk over the park and past the school to the new development called the Hamptons - they had what appeared to be from a distance a rather good playground, so we thought we'd check it out. Poor Florian ended up carrying one or the other of the girls most of the way - here he is, carrying Sarah - photo taken by Olivia, believe it or not.

And here are the other two kiddies - Olivia posing in her usual manner, after having scraped her knee rather badly (I'll spare Heather the embarrassment of blogging to the world that it was all her fault due to an abortive attempt at swinging Olivia like an aeroplane) - silly Mummy was out without her bag, but the resourceful Alice had a pocket full of plasters in her bag, so all was well in the end. And Alex playing Mr Cool leaning up against the wall outside the school - very sweet! Thanks to Florian for the photos - for once I didn't have my camera with me...

Let the birthday season begin...

Tomorrow kicks of the birthay season in the North household (except for Alex who is in February by his lonesome, we are all within about 7 weeks of one another) - Sarah will be nine. Yes, nine. Hard to believe, I know. Where did those years go? Not much special planned for tomorrow, as it's a school day and Brownies night, but Thursday she's having a bunch of friends over after school for pizza and a movie and on the weekend, I'm taking her and Thalia and Olivia to Chessington World of Adventures for a treat. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it was last weekend...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Look out, Adam Ant...

This is what happens when one of his sisters leaves makeup lying around. Personally, I think it's kind of cute, though I appreciate it won't appeal to everyone. If he's still doing it when he's 10, I may feel differently...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I a schoolboy now

Well, Alex's first week of nursery is gone and he had a fabulous time - really settled in well. He's thrilled to be in big school, and loves doing all the stuff they do in nursery. He's a bit tired some evenings, but that's only to be expected. Once the newness and excitement wears off a little, he'll be less shattered at the end. And of course, there's the added excitement of having extra children in the house in the afternoon 3 days a week - with Gabriella and Katarina, the two little girls I am childminding after school (and before). He loves playing with Katarina, who is only a year and a bit older than he is, and of course Olivia adores having Gabriella here - she's one of her best friends anyway. Now that we're into the routine of it, it's going well - I won't pretend there isn't a little chaos involved, but it's organised chaos, so it suits me fine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Official First Day of School...

The girls started on Wednesday last week, but we decided to wait until today, Alex's first day of nursery, to take the official first day photo - aren't they cute? And isn't it amazing how close Olivia is to Sarah in height? Alex had a lovely day - settled right in and was very happy. One of the other little boys was a bit clingy and kept saying "I want my mummy" - Alex turned to me (he was playing at the playdough table - surprise, surprise, he went straight for it) and said "I don't want you, Mummy." "OK," I said, "Shall I go?". "OK," he paused and then said "But I WILL want you when you come back." Sounds like a good compromise to me...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em...

And today, I'm referring to computers, not husbands. Opened the main email this morning (Outlook Express) to find that everything, including thousands of old, saved messages, that had been in my inbox and the subfolders thereof, had mysteriously vanished. After some exploration and frustration, we eventually decided that what had happened was that the compacted backup files had corrupted, which could happen either if the computer crashed while Express was compacting (maybe) or if the compaction process was cancelled partway through (more likely, we think, although we did have a crash yesterday, but the email was still there afterwards, we are pretty sure). Not to name any names or anything, but some of us are more patient than others of us, so...

Luckily, I managed to find all the old compacted backup files and download a piece of freeware that extracts the messages from them, back into email format. The downside is that you don't seem to be able to then move the messages en-masse back to your email, but only one message at a time - fine if you have 20, not so good if there are years' worth. But at least I know where the stuff is and can get at it, to dig out the stuff I need (photos from friends, usernames and account numbers for online businesses, and so on). I did need to clear out old folders anyway, but this is sort of an extreme way to go about it!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to (what passes for) normal

Well, that's the end of the first (half) week of school - they started back on Wednesday, and have had a nice three days, complete with lovely sunny weather. Sarah adores her new teacher (which is great, although I think Sarah probably has a pre-disposition to like teachers anyway) and Olivia seems happy - she knew her new teacher fairly well before, so I don't suppose she feels that "new". I haven't done a "first day of school" photo because Alex doesn't start until Tuesday, so I'll do the three of them together then.

He's excited about "big school" - we went today to an open day in the nursery, and he painted, rode bikes and played with some plastic fish in a water table - so he'll be well in his element!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Windmills in my mind

We went up to Wimbledon Common again today, this time specificially to go to the Windmill Museum, which is only open on weekends. We've never been before, and it's one of those things I always mean to do and never quite get around to. We wanted a small outing with Grandma Lucy today, so this was just right.

Very interesting place, actually, with lots of working models of different kinds of windmills - Alex in particular enjoyed pushing the buttons to make the sails go round on the models. I learned that the earliest recorded windmills in history are from Persia, of all places - 400 or more years before European ones were recorded - very interesting.

Anyway, Sarah got a paper model of the windmill to build, so when we got home, I helped her with that - I think it came out well, and the sails do move, although they aren't that smooth. The entire top assembly of the mill moves around the vertical axis, as well, so you can turn the windmill to catch the wind. You can see for yourself how it compares to the original!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Champion tree...

which is apparently what they call any tree which is the largest recorded specimen of its species. Not sure precisely what species this is - some type of pine - but as you can see from Sarah beside it, it's big.

This was from our visit to Wisley (RHS Gardens) yesterday. They still have a lot of stuff in bloom, despite it being end of summer (my garden always looks a bit done by now). We took Grandma Lucy to see the gardens & ended up doing quite a lot of walking, including seeing part of the garden I'd not been into before (the Pinetum and National Collection of Heathers). More photos in my yahoo album (a few of the kids, but mostly, just flowers).

Bankrupting the tooth fairy

This seems to be the goal of the household this week - poor Olivia has lost two in two days. The first one, which came out last night, was very loose and had got to the hanging-by-a-thread state. Today's tooth, which was a bit loose, but probably had 3-4 weeks left in it, came out a bit early, aided by Sarah's foot. You will understand that of course they had been told dozens of times to "stop romping before someone gets hurt". I suppose if something like that has to happen, it's just as well it was a tooth that was loose in the first place, but still... I rather think the tooth fairy will bring a little extra for this one, more than the standard 50p.