I'm really enjoying getting back into the gentle swing of things. Christmas and the New Year was even more chaotic than usual, with an increase in parties, plus a few family members needing surgery/ medical tests etc - oh, and we went to the local pantomime, which the boys loved, but then we lost Youngest after (it was late, and his tiredness combined with pantomime-induced excitement sent him even loopier than his normal energetic state. He didn't want the experience to end, and the only way he found to protest at our leaving was to do a runner. At least ten minutes of searching later, and he was eventually found outside the theatre! You know, I really value his zest for life and unquenchable determination - they are such great qualities to have - but sometimes he makes me look with admiration (and sympathy) not at the great explorers and adventurers of history, but rather their mothers, who must have wondered at times if their unstoppable youngsters would ever make it to adulthood!
Anyway, I digress. He was returned to us (still in full-on stroppy mode), we got the boys home and into bed as quickly as possible - and then sat and stared at inane TV while our adrenaline levels returned to normal! Since then, things have calmed considerably. The family members undergoing surgery and tests are all doing well, and I am really grateful for the slightly manic cleaning that I did right at the start of the year. My house is clean and tidy (apart from the obligatory room-whose-door-must-remain-shut-at-all-times-to-hide-the-accumulated-junk) - and as I blogged in early September, it makes a HUGE difference to me. We are back in our lovely routine of getting up; making sure bedrooms are tidy before going downstairs; having breakfast (without the TV going on first), and then having the day stretching ahead of us, full of possibilities, with only a few daily chores that we all share. I can't really explain how peaceful it makes things for me, but I just knew from the beginning of last term that if this term was to get off to a good start, we would need a tidy house. As soon as it gets beyond a certain level of mess, I seem doomed to spend my time endlessly trying to catch up on tidying and never actually getting to focus on the boys.
Anyway, so that is I've been doing: focusing on the boys. Other than a mercifully successful (and therefore short) shopping trip this morning (Middle and Youngest have both suddenly and strangely ran out of socks), we have been at home, enjoying hanging out together. Often this involves learning academically: such as my having one-on-one time with both Middle and Youngest at different parts of today, showing Youngest how to form letters, and helping Middle to make a start with cursive letters, and Eldest showing me part of a grasshopper leg and bicarbonate of soda (his favourite experimental material) through his new microscope (fab Christmas present). There was also time spent learning valuable life skills: such as when wanting to negotiate for the game any one of them wants to play, they are (slowly) learning that gentle persuasion and kind words are more effective than shouting and dictating... also that working together makes a team more likely to conquer a certain difficult level on a computer game than getting frustrated and shouting if one's brother doesn't do what he "should"! (imagine that!).
Oh, and I received a parcel in the post that I'm very excited about... it's a nesting box with a built-in webcam! We can put it up in our garden, hope for some bluetits (or similar) to move in - and then ideally via my laptop screen, watch them raise a family...! We loved the nest cams that we followed last year - but how much more exciting to have our 'own' birds to follow! I can't wait to get it up outside...