Sunday, 22 October 2017

Hygge Happened!

As far as I can tell, this weekend hit perfect hygge. 

DH, bear and I hung out in the study.  We were all comfy, the weather outside was awful (but not as awful as some, I am grateful that we haven't been hit hard), we had nice food, talked, joked, watched stuff separately and together and generally relaxed.  Now it's Sunday evening so DH is upstairs, bear is allegedly going to sleep and I am taking this weekend as a win.

I was quite grateful as I made the application for bear's school places today and I needed all the hygge.  For those who are unfamiliar with the process of getting secondary school places, it's relatively simple.  You go online and register an account.  Then you choose five schools in the order of preference.  Then you press submit.  Then you hope to heaven you've made the right choices. 

I admit I looked through all the schools in Leeds.  It was quite depressing.  Some looked good but were distant, many were okayish or failing and near.  DH's old school has gone from being pretty awesome when he was there with lots of students reaching A levels down to a state where it is barely scraping by.  I was also saddened by how few schools got more than 50% of their pupils through a decent grade in English and Maths, the absolute basics that they will need later in life. 

On the bright side, I used my Sainsburys coupon and I included some ravens in the order.  We have a fondness for ravens in this house, or at least a healthy respect from a safe distance.  Sainsburys have been selling plastic ravens for Halloween so I used the money from the coupon for two ravens (and purchased one extra, what can I say).  I left one in the dining room and when I went in without turning the light on I really jumped.  The silhouette in the shadow was incredibly lifelike and my first reaction was 'how the heck did that get in here?'

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Sainsburys are Tempting Me

I got a booklet of coupons in the post today.  I can get up to £13 off a shop - if I spend £90! 

I don't know about that.  It's easy to spend £90, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much.  The total doesn't include alcohol either.  Also I would rather do two shops of £45 each per week rather than one of £90. 

The coupons are spread over five weeks, so it's not even worth doing one big shop and stashing a load away.  I can't use my freezer as it really is failing.  I'm trying to hold out for Black Friday (and keeping an eye on the current prices).  I can't use it to hold stuff. 

I suppose I can stock up for Christmas.  I can put aside a few nice bits and have a look at some of the presents.  I don't really need that much, though.  I think I'll have to do some seriously careful sums.  If bear is going to grammar school then I'll need to learn to drive and we will need a second car.  I can't afford to waste money.

I managed to get out today.  I had a quick look around the art gallery.  I liked some of the paintings and didn't understand the rest of them.  One thing that struck me was how dusty some of the frames looked.  I think it says something about me - I go to the art gallery and look at the frames!

I had a quick call into Aldi on the way back and then home.  Tomorrow I have to go out as I have promised to help out in the church.  It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Parent's Evening

Bear had his parents' evening tonight.  He got a very good report and will be getting a reward this time. 

I don't want to take bear for granted, but there was a hint of 'same old, same old'.  For the last few years the reports have been the same - he is significantly above expected levels across the board, his behaviour is fine, his handwriting is awful and the teacher has had to google something bear has told them and found that it was right.  This year it was apparently a town in Norway.  I hadn't heard of it either.

Bear has not got a large part in the school play and is very disappointed that he only has a few lines, but I pointed out that he passed the grammar school tests and some of his pals didn't.  I had an uncomfortable encounter tonight with a mum who's son didn't and had no idea what to say. 

Bear's handwriting is a thing of wonder and has been all the way through school.  He'll produce an awful scrawl, get pulled up about it, he'll reform his writing and then it will slide into a different type of awful.  His teacher has offered to send home sheets so fingers crossed he will crack it this time.  I hope that a lot of stuff is typed in high school. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Bear Did It!

The letter came on Saturday.  Bear passed the grammar school exam.  Over 800 children passed the exam, around 200 passed - and bear was one of them!  I am so proud. 

This doesn't mean that bear automatically gets in.  There are a limited number of places.  Children in care, get automatic entry if they pass the test, as do those with siblings already at the school, those who live in the local area and those whose parents work at the school.  Bear doesn't fall into any of these categories.  It now depends how well he did compared with other children.  We will find out in March whether he is going there or not.

I can't tell you how proud I am.  Bear, of course, is taking it very much in his stride.  I hope his pals who sat the exam the same day pass as well. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Darn it to Heck

I wondered where the gluten was coming from.  I knew I was having some, but I couldn't figure out where.  I have been very scratchy.  I'm not sure that I have the better deal than those who have really bad stomach reactions to gluten.  It must be horrific for them, but I feel very unclean with the amount of eczema I'm now struggling with, and of course it can take months to work through the skin.  To be fair, it looks like I haven't had much, just enough to make me feel unpleasant but not enough to mean a trip to the doctors.

It turns out that the Sainsburys version of bear's favourite hash browns, while not actually containing gluten, are manufactured using a method that involves wheat.  It serves me right for not making them from scratch.  Other brands of hash browns are fine.  Ironically they are sitting next to the Tesco Curly fries in the freezer.  While Tesco hash browns are gluten free, their curly fries aren't.  I really ought to just stick to the healthier options. 

Tomorrow I'm off on a coach trip, away for two nights.  Bear and DH are staying at home.  I've stocked up the fridge and the treat cupboard.  DH patiently explained that they were unlikely to starve in the three days and two nights that I would be away and that the kitchen was already stocked.  But, as I said, you never know.  I'm sure that they'll be fine. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Bear Considers Value

Bear loves to play Eurotruck.  I sort of half watch over his shoulder as he trundles his truck along from Iceland to Poland, down to Romania and across to Portugal.  He finds it soothing, and along the way has learned the relative positions of the countries of Europe and their major cities.  As the parts of the game are sometimes divided by country, he also knows whether, for example, Liege is in France or Belgium (it's in Belgium, I had to look it up). 

Bear has a comparatively inexpensive steering wheel and pedal set that plugs into the PC but told me that his experience would be greatly enhanced by an H-stick gear.  I asked him to translate and as far as I can see it's a sort of gear stick that also plugs into the PC.  I asked him how much it was.  Bear was evasive.

I had a look on eBay and Amazon and flinched.  The only thing that nearly fit bear's description was over £100 at the cheapest. apparently unavailable second hand and would still need to be used with a different type of rig which would bring the cost to over £200.  I could more or less almost possibly consider that amount for something like a tablet that he needed for school work, or perhaps a reconditioned phone to play his favourite games, but not a gaming accessory, not at 10 years old.  I suggested that he had a good think about it, and as he had a lot of pocket money saved up then perhaps he could pay for it himself. 

Bear does have a lot of pocket money saved, and one of the reasons he has a lot saved is because he strenuously resists spending it.  He thought about it for a few days and then told me that regretfully he couldn't justify getting a gear stick as it looked very complicated and he probably wouldn't get the benefit.  I was unsurprised.

He is willing to spend his own money on Lego, however.  I did try him with a large Block Tech set, which looks like Lego, is apparently Lego compatible, but is a lot less expensive, especially when the sets are half price in the Tesco toy sale.  I got a couple of absolute bargains, stashed one  and passed the other to bear to see if he could trade down. 

Bear gave the whole matter a lot of thought and decided that he would rather have less Lego than more Bloch Tech.  Apparently Block Tech just don't reach Lego's standards.  Some things, he said, are worth paying a little more for, even if it's with his own money. 

Mind you, Parents' Evening is next week.  Bear will expect a reward for a good report.  He didn't get a good enough report last year, so he will be on pins seeing if this year he gets a treat.  If he does earn a treat, I have a good idea what he'll ask for!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Getting Ready to Snuggle

I didn't get out today. 

But I did start getting ready for the autumn nights.  I've replaced the pillows on all beds, which was overdue, and I swapped the old mattress toppers on mine and DH's beds for new ones and also swapped the duvets.  I'm going to have to get rid of my old bedding.  The sort of eczema I've had over the last few years has taken a toll.  However I'm going to take DH's bedding to get washed and I'll stash it.  It will be great for spares or, if the winter gets really cold, I'll layer the old duvets under the sheets and put extra blankets on top.  I really recommend a blanket of sorts under the bottom sheet in cold weather.  It makes a surprising difference.  

I have a very large heap of blankets anyway.  Some are those I've knitted and some have been acquired over the years.  I'm very keen on using blankets before fires this winter.  I just need to get the curtains sorted.  It's not going to be this weekend, and next weekend I hope to be away, but the weekend after I hope to hang the winter curtains which are duvet covers with heading tape sewn on and lined with fleece kept in place by fabric glue and a few stitches.  I still need to line them, but it's not that complicated (I hope!).  

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about getting ready for winter.  The window in the junk room really needs to be replaced, and the windows in the living room and study are heading there, but otherwise the windows and doors are snug, there are plenty of blankets, the boiler is getting serviced soon and I feel that we are ready to settle in. 

Thank you for the support.  It means a great deal to me.