Enjoying silence tonight. (So far, anyway. Mini’s got a cold.)
I love those points when the house shuts down for the night, and there is a chance for some brain space.
What to say of the last week?
Peter Rabbit reigns supreme just now. Kind relatives bought Mini the whole set of Beatrix Potter books for Christmas, and we are working our way through them at bedtime.
It’s interesting to try books that I knew nothing of before. Ginger and Pickles run a rather strange shop, and go out of business fairly quickly.
We also have The Pie and the Patty Pan. Were I writing crime fiction, or something detective-y, this might be known as The Case of the Double Oven.
Suffice it to say, I am with the dog character on this: I would prefer not to eat mice pie, either.
Mrs Tittlemouse comes across as very OCD these days, but there are the wonderful characters of Babbity Bumble (the bee whose family has taken up lodging without asking), and the toad who sneezes when offered a plate of thistledown.
Reading more Beatrix Potter means we can also get out the audio CDs. Patricia Routledge and Michael Hordern are the readers, and you couldn’t want for more comforting voices.
Mini is very keen on The Tale of the Two Bad Mice. Maybe it’s the temptation to bash up the fake dinner, discovering that it was only plaster. Somewhat more overt violence for a children’s book.
For my part, I rather like the way that reading more in the series lets you meet certain characters again: the dolls of Bad Mice fame crop up again, visiting the shop which Ginger and Pickles own.
I have also introduced Mini to the Peter Rabbit series on CBeebies. This is generally going down well so far. Mini is less keen on the hectic guitar music for the series, and I have to agree – it’s a bit heavy, for such lovely pictures.
Whether or not we make it through the whole series remains to be seen. If so, I might finally finish Little Pig Robinson (started many years ago) for myself.
We have an early birthday celebration at my parents, which also allows for further Eating Up of Christmas food items. Two birds and all that.
To be honest, any offer of being fed that includes a) smoked salmon and b) me not cooking is generally to be seized. Swiftly.
Probably the main present of the day was the amazing views of snowy fields, as we drove out to the Borders. In one area, water had run off fields that slope above the road, forming brilliant icicles on the hedges.
Having driven through all this, the kids were fairly underwhelmed to see almost no snow on the ground outside my parents’ house.
Thankfully, Granny Ro was prepared to put boots on and go hunting for more snow with Mini. At least enough was found for a small snowball fight.
In fact, there was even some on the ground back at home, the following morning. The sledge, which gets more outings on grass on the back garden than anything else, did just fine on snow too, at a nearby park.
(It also worked well for dragging some snow back home after. I’m not sure if there was scientific enquiry, or just a thought to practise throwing snowballs at the fence. Probably more of the latter.)
The previously-mentioned joint project of building a hotel in Minecraft has gone a bit quiet. I’m not quite sure whether they’ve finished, or agreed to go back to individual game time.
In the meantime, Junior has decided to do a bit more work in Scratch, a visual programming tool which allows you to build little animations, and I’m sure much more.
Stop-motion is hanging in there as something to do when there’s ten whole minutes spare before heading off for school. And at other times too, if Daddy’s available for a bit more team effort.
I continue my own roles in this area: a) let them get on with it b) smile appreciatively when required c) leave Dan to figure out the rest when they get stuck.
Dan meanwhile has the opportunity to age by at least a decade. I’m trying out those patches for elbows, for when jumpers have holes in them.
So far, rather suspicious – and the stuff the patches are made out of smells a bit too. We’ll see how we get on. We can always remove the patches and go back to holes in elbows – it’s worked for us so far.
However, I am making some tentative attempts at darning – or at least, fixing a hole in one of Mini’s school jumpers with some embroidery thread.
It’s not quite the same colour. It’s not wool either. But knowing Mini’s abilities to expand holes in clothes, it’s a case of getting in quick now.
Buoyed by the success of last week’s apple cake, I did a bit more Solitary Baking this week. There were some gluten-free muffins, which I’d tried doing before and like.
I also had a go at making some granola, having found a new recipe with fewer nuts, but with the additions of ginger and cinnamon. So far, so rapidly disappearing.
I think that’s a good sign.
I think the kids are fairly happy at the prospect of me continuing this on a weekly basis, if they get cake for after school snacks. So am I really, if I get to eat some too. And there’s fruit or veg in too, so that has to count for something.
In the same session, I had a go at a kind of chicken pot pie. Chicken good, pastry bit not so much.
There was a reason why the recipe showed separate pie tins, and I’ve discovered it. There is actually such a thing as too much pastry after all.
Junior and I are doing a bit of language learning, to tie in with a series of books we’re reading. I’ve found that the textbook I used for it in the past is now online.
It seems that even this kind of practice is cool if you can drag and drop words into the right columns, and do other more interactive stuff.
And if you get them all right, on one exercise, you get a flock of butterflies covering your screen. Which, apparently, is an incentive as far as Junior’s concerned.
The real test is whether Junior can learn enough to teach a school friend, so they can both speak to each other without others knowing what they’re saying.
Nothing like spy requirements to put you under pressure to come up with the goods.
Meanwhile, day by cold (and by turns rainy) day, the light creeps back.
I know, from previous years, that by the end of the month, it’ll be light at five in the evening. It was almost properly light at eight this morning.
I walk round the park before pick up, and admire the allotments. The leeks stand proud like bundled ribbons. The other remaining veg appears to wear hairnets.
But despite the cold, the wet, the relative lack of promise on the ground, the birds are already singing more.
And on days when my hands are freezing, even despite warmer gloves, that’s a good thing.