Monday, 30 July 2012

We are at DEFCON 3

We have now stepped down from ....DEFCON 2 
(Next step to nuclear war)

to DEFCON 3 (Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness)... 

The fleas are reduced and the hope is that in the next few days we will be at DEFCON 4 (Increased intelligence watch and strengthened security measures).

And eventually DEFCON 5 (Lowest state of readiness) 
once all trace of fleas have gone...

We have hoovered, scrubbed, wiped and sprayed in an attempt to rid ourselves of these fleas.

We are getting there, unfortunately they have held their position in some quarters and remain defiant...

I am seriously considering a bug bomb, traps and possibly shaving the cats...

It is surprising that now, everything that moves out of the corner of your eye could be a flea.

Every dot, every piece of lint, every speck and every crumb has been examined and scrutinised.

Even if it is not a flea, it has been sprayed, even beads on the floor and toast crumbs... 

There will be no hiding place...

We will be triumphant...!!!! 

Bloomin' Marvellous...

 Just a few pictures of how the flowers are fairing in the front garden. A while back I had bought some flowers from Katie's school. 

I had originally planted them in jars on this shelf. That may not have been the best idea as watering them was trick an they dried out really fast. I gave up on that idea and re potted them in more spacious troughs. 

And instead I put on the shelves these little lantern things and just one of the lobellias in an old basket pot thing.

To the side where the milk man leaves the milk there is the top of the old bird table. We didn't use the bird table any more as it was like ringing the dinner bell for the cats to come and get the birds and not the birds to get the seeds.

In the beginning the pots and troughs looked as though you could easily fit more plants in but they have grown and filled the troughs to bursting now.

Here there is the hanging wooden wotsit on the wall (as you may have guessed, I am without words today, everything is a thing or a wotsit) and in front is the top of the bird table on which is a small pot and an old shoe filled with flowers. I have had this shoe for quite a few years now and it has weathered quite well. It looks old and is perfect for putting a pretty flower or two in. :)

Here there are three small troughs at the front and the flowers have all grown to form this curve. I think they have done really well. I have remembered to water them too, which helps :)

Waiting for the rain...

Yesterday afternoon the weather was predicted to become more unsettled, and as predicted the clouds rolled in and the wind got up. We waited for the rain and looking at the clouds we thought there would be an awful lot of it...

 I went outside and pointed the camera upwards and generally twirled around taking pictures of the sky...

On one side of the sky the clouds were heavy with rain and yet turn 180 degrees and the sky was bright blue.

I'm sure my neighbours think I'm nuts...

It was all very "WOW!!"

This is my favourite shot. This is over my neighbours house, the corner of the house just out of view is our house.

There were two half decent rumbles of thunder and it rained lightly for about twenty minutes...
And that was it..

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Nearly flea free...

My word, WHAT A DAY......!!

Yesterday (Thursday, my blogger clock is sometimes up the shute) We spent the entire afternoon upstairs systematically clearing a room, hoovering it, wiping over the skirting and flat surfaces with disinfectant, taking out bedding, cushions and pillows to be washed, then spraying with R.I.P Fleas bought from the vets yesterday morning. We did each room like this and then shut the door for over an hour. When we re-entered the room (which was well ventilated) we hoovered the floor and the bed again, then remade each bed with clean sheets. The washing machine has been doing overtime with the sheets and bedding and cushion covers. Florrie had been sleeping in the top of my bedroom cupboard on a pile of jumpers, which all needed to be washed too...

All this in 28 degrees, I think I lost a half a stone just in sweat... 

Not to worry though, I found it again after I had eaten tea... :)

We hoovered and then sprayed down the stairs and stopped at the bottom by the end of a very long day.

 Today we will pull apart the living room and hall way and do the same to those rooms too. The kitchen and dining room will also get a good hoover, wipe and spray as the cats like these rooms the most. My desk here needs to be pulled out, wiped and sprayed. I feel itchy just thinking about it...

Thankfully Florrie and Penny were outside laying about in the shade yesterday and Charlie was on top of the kitchen cupboards out of the way. (note to self, must spray kitchen cupboard tops too) 

The children have been a great help and have worked along side me to get this all done. They don't like the thought of fleas either so they were just as determined to get rid of them as I was.

While it is still early I might get dressed and make a start on the living room, put in another load of laundry and hang another load out. By the end of today we hope to be flea free...

Who's fleas are these?

Oh Dear, We have fleas...

Well, the cats do and now, so does the house.... 

And Katie's legs have been munched all over :(

Does any one remember the episode of 
"The Good Life" where Tom and Barbara find fleas in their home?

It turns out to be Margo their neighbour (that has been in contact with a dog) and it is not their animals after all??

Well, that's us today. 

But it turns out, they are our fleas and not someone else's... :(

And I'd prefer to think of the little critters like this... 

If that's okay??

The cats have been treated with that Spot on stuff and Sam and Katie's bedrooms have been put under quarantine and liberally covered in flea killer. Their bedding has been washed and their beds sprinkled too. 

The bedroom doors were shut last night and they both slept downstairs, today Jim's, Charlotte's and my room will be done, as will the rest of the house. One pot of flea killer was not enough and we need to get in more supplies.

In the mean time we will need to hoover and clean like mad to get this under control. In the chemist yesterday the lady in front of me bought £20 worth of flea drops for her cats. I thought to myself, that was not going to be fun for her having to get rid of the fleas on her pets.

And yet here I am, waiting for the shop to open so I can do just the same... 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Holiday chores list...

When the children were little they would not be asked to do much at all to help around the home, the most they would be asked to do would be to make their bed or put their toys away. I wish I had done things a little differently and started to get them to help more when they were little. I should have taught them how to help me. 

As a result, helping out around the home is not second nature to them. Saying that, Katie is a great little helper and will gladly do her chores and feels she is being very helpful.(which she is :))

When we became a single parent family I needed them to help out more than they did, which was not much at all. 

All the time I struggled to keep on top of things. As in my marriage, housework was left to me to do by myself, all of it, with four children to look after, with no help.

Believe me, I struggled.

I struggled to get it all done to the point of exhaustion and tears and ultimately, resentment.

When their father moved out, in the days that followed, the children and I sat around the table and had our first "house meeting"(which we still have occasionally today). We talked about what to do now? how was this going to work? how do we want to live now? what were we worried about? how would we get through this?

The children were still young, Katie was 6, Sam 8, Jim 10 and Charlotte 12. However, we all had been affected one way or another by previous events, some of us more than others. We needed to pull together and stick together. I needed them to know this was going to be all right and we would all get through this period of time. 

One of the ways of doing this was to have stability, a routine, a defined time and place for events to happen, so we could feel safe and secure in our home. Going to school everyday, tea time at 6pm, bed time at 8pm, getting up at 7am, breakfast at 8am, Clean body, clean clothes, clean teeth and hair, out the door and on our way to school by 8:30am, doing homework, playing outside after teatime, bath time, bedtime story then lights out at 8pm.  

Having a messy, chaotic home did not help and only added to the stress and uncertainty of our situation.

I researched endlessly on what to do to help our situation and brought together all the things that would work for us. I know that my children are very visual learners, they learn by doing and seeing and not necessarily by reading or listening. So I needed something to help them SEE how much I NEEDED their help.

I took a piece of A4 paper and ripped it into about thirty pieces. I told the children I wanted their help with the jobs around the home and I wanted them to see how this feels for me to do it all by myself. The children stood in front of me and I gave Charlotte my watch to count the seconds. I asked them to watch me and see what I did. 

I dropped the pieces of paper on the floor in front of me and Charlotte timed me as I got on the floor and picked up, as fast as I could, all the tiny pieces of paper. It took me about 30 seconds to collect them all in my hand and stand up again. They all though this was so funny. :)

Next, I dropped all the pieces of paper and asked that, while I timed them, they should all collect up the pieces of paper together and see just how fast they could do it.

In 10 seconds flat, they picked up (with much giggling) all the pieces of paper and I asked them what we could learn from this...

Jim came straight out with it, "if we all work together, we can get things done quicker"
What an amazing child !!! Well done Jim. :)
 That was exactly my point...

From then on, to varying degrees, the children have all had chores or jobs to do to keep this ship afloat. There are times that this is easy and times that it is hard. There are days that no one, least of all me, wants to do chores, but the house cleaning fairies don't come here any more so we have to do it all ourselves now...

And, as with most things in this house, it starts with a list....

The summer holiday chore list is just a new version of the ordinary chore list, it is just changed around and so everyone gets to do something different over the holidays.

All the jobs that MUST be done are written down here.

The task in hand is often overseen by a cat, who must, according to the rules, sit on the notebook while you try to write on it...

For this chore list I found some labels and decided to write each job on these. Then they could be picked and put on the main list for each person.

I had divided them into sections. 

Every day...

When Asked...

And once a week...

Everyone has their own sheet and was able to pick from each pile which ones they would like to do.

I gave them this first weekend of the holidays off from doing their list, but they still have to help out if I asked for help. This week the new list begins and is going well. Charlotte is now doing her own laundry and in time, her own ironing. 

I figure I'm not just raising children, I'm raising adults. I also hope Jim and Sam's future wives will be glad when they find that they have married strong and capable husbands and are not afraid to give their wives any help that they might need.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Last Day...

Not only is today the last day for Katie at her primary school, it is also the last day that I will walk any of my children to school.

I have walked my children to and from school for the last 15 years. 

To and fro, to and fro. 
In sun, rain, hail and snow. 
(That was not supposed to rhyme...)

Last night we wrapped gifts for the teachers, helpers and the caretaker too.

We have been blessed with truly amazing teachers and helpers. It is nice to be able show our appreciation for their hard work in helping to educate our children. 

They all have such patience and are always so kind.

This morning I woke Jim, Sam and Katie with a drink and they got ready and went to school for their last day before the holidays today.

 As we do every day, we set off at 8:30am 
(or there abouts) 

We walk up the road and cross over, we walk along the road towards school and the first road we pass is The Willows.

We walk along "The Willows" and pass "Burydale" to our right.

We walk along "The Willows" and we pass the dribbling dog at the gate and "The Chicken car"...

To the end of the road, turn right and then left and 
ta-da!! We are at school.

Today the year 6 children had a special assembly, this  picture was taken before the rest of the school came in and filled the whole hall. 

A slide show showed pictures of their past year at school, music played and everyone had a tear in their eye.

When the assembly was over we all went out into the playground and the children each wrote their favourite moment from their past year and their hopes and dreams on a piece of card. This was tied to a balloon and set free.

There were some tears, but also a sense that this next adventure into Senior school was going to be fun. 

Out of a class of 18, 16 are going to the same school. 

Not only that, they have all grown up so much over this last year. 

This school is far too small for them now.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Skool is nearly over... :(

Katie is now only one day away from finishing primary school. They have had such a busy few weeks and this last week has been the busiest yet. 

They have been to the Natural History Museum, they have had half a sports day as the rain poured down an hour into proceedings (sports day was previously cancelled twice and rescheduled twice before this failed attempt because of the rain)... 

They all had a ride in a limo and went out for a meal at 360. They had a sleepover at school with their teachers where they watched films, played games, had a barbecue and a water fight. 

Last night was the school production of 
"A journey through Oz". 

We could only take photos of the children once the play had finished. One of the parents had recorded the dress rehearsal for all the parents and had converted it to DVD for the children to take home.

After the play we could have cakes, tea and juice that the children had all prepared beforehand. I bought the cake that Katie had made. She told me how she had decorated it and while she was in her classroom getting changed we were able to purchase the cakes the children had made. Knowing what her cake looked liked I was able to find it and buy it for her :)

All the money they had raised went to a charity. 
This year the children had chosen 
"The Wood Green Animal Shelter".

Katie had the best time. :)
(especially when the tin man got stuck in his costume..

This is Katie with her friend Georgia and their teacher Mrs Lawrence.

And their Head Teacher Ms Atkins

This is Katie with her friend Georgia and one of  the best witches I have seen so far, Sian..

You can't imagine just how much giggling and being silly goes on when Georgia comes to tea...