Thursday, December 27, 2018

Post Christmas, Pre New Year

Oh, hello! I am here, having made it through Christmas, Boxing Day, and the assorted cat sitting duties that came before and after. Christmas is a lot of work, isn't it? Even with ours being fairly low key, there are still presents to wrap, food to make, etc., etc., etc. And somehow our house is a disaster throughout the Christmas season. I see photos of other people's supposed Christmas disasters, with a bit of wrapping paper strewn throughout an otherwise clean room, and I think, "Really? That's as bad as it got?" In our house, there's recycling piled up, laundry piled up, dishes piled up. And sprinkles pretty much everywhere. How do they end up everywhere? I swear they can walk, or maybe fly.

But it was a good Christmas, mess included. We got a lot of things cleared up on Boxing Day, and that felt good. I still have a list of things which need to be attended to, but that's just the general state of my life. Now we are taking advantage of J being off work until the new year and are spending some time doing family fun type things together. Today we went to the cinema, and tomorrow we'll head for one of favorite palaces, where there are always special Christmas things going on. Our weekend looks pretty typical, but then we've got New Year's Eve and New Year's Day fun planned. I hope to have a little more time to take it slow before Genna, and then we are back to normal life. Time is flying.

Friday, December 21, 2018

We're Going to Need More Butter

I mistakenly thought that three of these blocks of butter, at 250 grams each, would be plenty for our Christmas needs. Ha! It's barely enough for the triple batch of sugar cookies and assorted frostings we need in order to be Christmas ready with our treats for Santa and for Christmas liturgy at church. But don't worry, I got eight different types of sprinkles. We're all set with that. However, judging by the catastrophe I turned my kitchen into (see spilled nuts and flour above), I also might need a maid before all is said and done.

We are now fully into the throes of Christmas activities. We don't have tons, but we have plenty of traditions we like to keep, and those take time and effort. I also have taken a job over Christmas, so there's that to attend to.

Yes, a job.

Over Christmas!

But don't worry, it is nothing too taxing. I have become a professional cat sitter. With online booking and insurance and everything! I will be looking after two British shorthairs beginning tomorrow, and an elderly tuxedo cat with a thyroid problem beginning on Christmas Eve. I like all the cats and their owners quite a lot, and while the scheduling on Christmas Day might be a bit of a juggle, I'm happy to do the work and earn a little extra money.

I'm not sure how often I'll come here to write next week. We've hit pause on most of our usual things, but I might still feel like doing this usual thing. I will keep you posted. Pun intended.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

(A Shorter) Bob's Your Uncle

My friend L came over today and cut my hair. I had a bob already, but I wanted her to trim it up a bit and get it ready for my next hair plan. This is not the most glamorous photo I could've shared of my new cut, admittedly, but frankly I didn't have much else to write about today, and I felt like it would be weird to talk about my new haircut without a photo of it. So here you are presented with the bathroom selfie. But it gives you the general idea, yes? I went a bit shorter than the bob I had before, with a few little layers, and I like it. I like it a lot. But it won't stay like this for long. After this, I'll grow it out. Thus the layers - they'll grow out more nicely than a more blunt cut.

I figured out sometime within the past two years that it is easier for me to have short hair in the winter. The reason for this is: winter hats. They fit over my short hair better, and they don't press my hair into my neck, which I find to be supremely uncomfortable. Try as I might, I never figured out a way to get a ponytail under a winter hat (and also arranged to accommodate my winter scarf) in a way that didn't look weird, and leaving longer hair loose never worked out either. Conversely, I find that longer hair works better in the summer, when I want it out of my way and have no need of a hat. In the summer, the breeze would blow bobbed hair right into my sweaty face, and I couldn't pull it back. So for summer, a ponytail is my jam.

And so, here I am, with less hair in the winter, planning to have far more by summer. It does seem counterintuitive, doesn't it? But it works! So I'm doing it! Yay!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Lazy Days

A little while ago I saw a blog post linked in an online home ed group I'm in, about how the author learned to treat homeschooling like it was her job and made her life better, and I clicked right through, because I find homeschool work/life balance to be a bit elusive. I thought she was going to espouse things like stopping at a certain time and having time out from chasing after the Best Education Possible, but in fact she wrote about working harder at it because she treated it like it was a job, and obviously everyone wants to work as hard as possible at their job.

Honestly? I am not interested in working harder at it than I already am. (Working smarter and better, sure, but harder? Nope.) I'm interested in some boundaries so I can stop feeling guilty about all the things that I am choosing not to do for and with my children, in service of everyone getting adequate rest and having emotional balance. So that blog post was clearly not for me. Maybe no one has written the post that I need to read. That post would say that it is 100% possible to be a workaholic when your job is to homeschool your kids. Because it is. And it's just as undesirable in home ed as it is in other professions.

In every job I've ever had, there have been times that there was a lull in what I was required to do. I never felt guilty about not doing enough work at those times. Pass the magazines! Is it 5pm yet? But here in my house, where the lines between the job of educating my children and the work of making other things run smoothly is blurred, it is harder to embrace that lull. There are always more things to do around here. I feel a little guilty that for the last week I've not felt like doing many of them, or that I've only wanted to do one per day, even though I've got time for more. But we need a break, and I know it.

Our mornings have always been slow, but now they are even slower. As of today, we are minimizing what we do in our school lessons. E has a reading lesson, I read from a couple of novels for Z (with E listening in and making both excellent observations and funny ones), and they do some work on education apps that they like. That's it. Christmas is coming. The family business of homeschooling is in a lull. Pass the magazines! We are going to embrace this.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Winter in London

Saturday was the first day this year that I felt chilly enough that I consider it to be winter here. Up to this point, temperatures have been fairly mild. I don't expect it to freeze - that's just not London's thing most of the time - but I expect to not be sweating inside my coat. I grew up where winters get very cold, so to me London's usual winter temperature range feels manageable. I try to refrain from complaining about the weather until late March, when I feel it is officially acceptable to be sick of using the radiators and getting cold at bus stops.

But I will admit that the kind of cold that we experience here is different, and so I won't begrudge anyone else their bit of grousing about it. It's a damp cold. It slips under the door of these old Victorian houses and stays awhile. And it rains. A lot. Most of the year, I dry my clothes outdoors. That doesn't work in the winter. Even when it is not raining, there is so little daylight that nothing will dry during the sunny hours. My theory is that this is the real reason that most houses have radiators; people need a place to dry their clothes.

The other problem with rain is that you cannot stay out in it nearly as long as you can in the snow, unless you've outfitted yourself with waterproof trousers in addition to a raincoat and wellies. I have a lightweight, waterproof jacket that is big enough to fit over my winter coat and goes nearly to my knees, but anything below it eventually gets fully soaked. The only pleasant thing about that particular experience is getting home and getting into dry things and having a cup of tea on the sofa while I recover.

But still, I can't complain about the winter. It really isn't that bad. I just have to manage it. There's been a bit of a learning curve, but this is our fifth winter here, and I think I've got it mostly sussed. It's important to check the weather app before leaving the house and see if and when the rain will be arriving for the day. Sometimes it comes by surprise, so tucking my rain jacket into my bag for a day out is never a bad idea. An extra pair of gloves is helpful. For a mist or drizzle, my winter coat and hat will keep me dry enough to run my Saturday errands, but if I'm meant to be outdoors for thirty minutes or more, that won't do.

An umbrella is handy only in certain situations, and I mostly don't like to mess with it, so it's better to bring the rain jacket if I only want to carry one thing. In fact, I'm not a big fan of the umbrella overall; it's so little protection with so many possibilities for things to go a bit wrong. More often than not, I leave it at home. A water resistant bag has been incredibly helpful - I have two Orla Kiely laminated bags (one backpack and one messenger) that mostly keep out the water. I'm mindful not to put my phone too near the zip closure, and I've never had a problem, even when caught briefly in a downpour. But mostly the smartest thing is to try to stay out of the heaviest rain. It is rare that a downpour lasts for more than ten minutes.

It is also rare that winter lasts longer than I can bear. Not being a fan of summer, I am happy to make these adjustments in order to be comfortable when I am out and about in a season that doesn't leave me sweaty and unable to function normally. One can always add more layers. Or, just stay home and have a cup of tea.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Our New Addition

Yesterday was busier than anticipated, at least in the hours after noon. This is the reason that I didn't manage to post. There was hair to do and dinner to make, and J was at a Christmas party, so I gave up my computer so the children could watch a movie after dinner and not feel like they were missing out on fun that someone else was having. Blogging from my phone is a no go, so I just didn't do it. I considered just letting it go and posting again on Monday, but I can't wait that long to introduce you to someone. She's very special.

Friends, I am overjoyed to announce the arrival of our new family member, Buttercup. She has been longed for since I had to leave my previous yellow KitchenAid in the USA due to voltage differences. I briefly considered getting a KitchenAid of a different color, because other colors were cheaper, but I couldn't do it. I'd just be disappointed every time I looked at it. With Buttercup, I only feel happiness.

All joking aside (and I'm not joking about calling her Buttercup), I am very happy to have a KitchenAid mixer again. I got a serviceable stand mixer when we arrived here, but we were on a budget, so I couldn't spend much. We were replacing all our small electrical items at one time, and a KitchenAid would've used up the entire budget I'd set out for that.

The cost of the KitchenAid is entirely justified, in my opinion, as it functions so much better than any other stand mixer I've used (and definitely better than my own two arms), but that doesn't mean that I could just go out and buy one. So I made do with a basic mixer that had good reviews on Amazon, and it was fine. Some tasks were harder and/or more annoying, but it was okay. I'd rather live in London and not have a KitchenAid than not live in London and have one. But now I get to have my cake and eat it too, it appears. I assumed that I wouldn't have a KitchenAid for another couple of years, at least. But J offered to pool his birthday money with my birthday money to get one, and so here she is. I am endlessly grateful.

Welcome home, Buttercup. You are a dream come true.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Food for My Family

E made her own lunch today, and she was very pleased with her choices. Nutella sandwich, and a sweet in each category: chocolate and fruit flavor. I was pleased that I didn't have to make her lunch. Everybody was happy.

I know I've written about how my kids eat in the past. At least, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it. But it's been awhile, and some things have changed, so I'm going to mention it again. The way we approach our kids' food has been liberating both for them and for us, and it ranks high on the list of things that have made day to day parenting easier. We have very little conflict about food (except when someone eats the last cookie, and then I get annoyed).

I'm not saying that this is the way to approach food with kids, but I thought I'd share in case there's something we do that resonates with you as something that would be worth trying in your own family. We came to our current system by seeing what worked for others and trying some of it ourselves, so I'm just passing along what I've learned along the way.

Basically, here is our deal. We loosely follow Ellyn Satter's food responsibilities. As parents, we are in charge of deciding what is available to eat and drink and when it is available. Our kids are responsible for choosing what they will eat from the available choices and how much. We don't follow all the Satter directives in terms of timing, because that part doesn't work for us. It's too regimented. Our kids can eat whatever they'd like to have throughout the day from the foods that are available (usually leftovers, fruit, and treats in our treat basket), though I've requested that they not prepare themselves the equivalent of a full meal when it's just an hour before dinner time.

Somehow they started asking me if they could have certain sweets (probably because I kept getting annoyed when someone ate the last cookie), which is nice because I sometimes will recommend they have something in addition to those sweets if I know that they will be hungry later without something more filling. But I nearly always say yes to whatever they want to have, because the deal is that if we've made it available, they can have it. A lot of people feel that this type of practice puts children in the danger zone for the dreaded obesity epidemic, but we have not found that to be true. I think that the causes of what is being called the obesity epidemic are a lot more complicated than unfettered access to sweets and calories in/calories out. So I do not worry about this at all. Often my kids will prefer what they refer to as food food to sweets or other "junk" food.

We eat dinner together as a family most nights. I make one meal for all of us, and I try to make sure that there's something on the table that each person in the family likes. Sometimes this means that one of us will only eat one thing on the table. This includes J and me. In my case, having battled chronic heartburn and finally managed it in a way that makes my life feel mostly normal, I know that I need to listen to my body in terms of what I should eat. I want my children to do the same, and so far it seems that they do. E doesn't eat as much veg as I'd like, but I keep making it an option. Sometimes it takes awhile for a kid to feel comfortable trying something new. Z sometimes has very particular reasons for rejecting a food, and I do my best to respect those. My only quibble with my kids choosing not to eat something is if they insult the cook in the process of rejecting foods. And as they are normal kids, sometimes this happens.

I don't think this system is perfect, but it is working out well for us for now. I am hoping to figure out more veg that all of us like to eat and to prepare more of a variety of meals. (I'm in a bit of a meal planning rut.) I buy more processed things than I feel is ideal, but at this point in time I can't make my own bread or most breakfast foods that my kids and I like to eat. Sometimes we have homemade banana bread or muffins, but mostly we have been having Tesco doughnuts, crepes, and other pastries. Our kids are growing well and are generally healthy, just picking up the odd cold or tummy bug like most kids do, so I feel that their nutritional intake is working for them. As the meal planner and cook, I'm happy with the low stress level of this style of managing food for our family. It's ok. Not ideal, but that's not what I'm aiming for. This works, and we will keep doing it until it doesn't.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Where to Find Me for the Rest of 2018

Right here.

Ok, well, not all the time. But having gotten our last planned activity of the term done, I intend to spend more time under cats, in my bed, coffee in hand, than has been possible lately. This is always how I start my day, but there's not been much lingering here lately, and I do love to linger. Now I will have my chance. As we march steadily toward the solstice, the days get shorter, and it is time for a well earned rest. When the sun rises around 8am and sets before 4pm, it feels natural to spend a little less time doing things and a little more time getting cozy. I am ready for it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Teaching My Children Through Literature (is Pure Joy)

After confessing yesterday that I pretty much hate teaching my children to read, I thought I should counter that with telling you about my favorite part of homeschooling. It is this, as pictured above - reading aloud to my children and discussing what we are reading. I love reading good books to my kids. I love exploring history and different perspectives and why people do what they do. All the other subjects come alive within the context of stories that expose the human condition. We read biographies and fiction and Shakespeare and myths of all sorts. Historical fiction is our current favorite; we can't get enough. When we have time, I read more than I had planned for the day. I pick up extra books which aren't part of the curriculum. Because we love it.

Right now we are reading The Book Thief and The Poisonwood Bible, neither of which are part of the Charlotte Mason curriculum that we use as the framework for our studies. These are primarily for Z, but E often listens in. I edit a bit as I read to omit things which are not age appropriate, but the stories and themes are things we can discuss. We ask each other questions. I tell them what I think is important, which is mostly that it's essential to do your best to find out what's really happening and why. Who do we want to be in our own stories? What can we learn from these people, both the ones who walked this earth and those who are fictional characters? How do our own experiences affect how we take in information? When we talk together, I feel like I am teaching my children the things that matter. 

I don't know how successful I am at this - results are not measurable, like math or spelling. And they don't have to receive or retain the lessons. But I hope they do. I hope that what they learn allows them to understand others and to be critical thinkers who can suss out the truth from all the information that will be handed to them. I am pouring my heart into this, hoping for the best. And I am loving it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Teaching My Children to Read (is Torture)

I started teaching Z to read much earlier than I intended to. We hadn't been homeschooling long when she announced that she needed to know how to read. She was younger than I thought she'd be when we commenced reading instruction, but she would not be deterred. She insisted, because she couldn't wait for us to read her stories every time she wanted one read. Sometimes we were too busy or too tired or one of the other reasons that adults have for not doing something that a child wants them to do, when the child wants them to do it. This has been her way with a lot of things; if we can't or won't do something, she will just take care of it herself. So she determined that she needed to learn to read, and she did, despite some difficulties in her way.

With E things have been different. She said she wanted to learn to read, and we began the same book I used to help Z learn (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons), and we installed two reading apps on the old iPhone she uses for this sort of thing, for independent study. But E wasn't as keen on continuing to learn after we got through about a third of the lessons in the book. At some point she decided the book was too boring and too hard, and she didn't want to do it anymore. As she was just on the cusp of turning six years old at the time, I set the book aside and encouraged her to use the apps when she wanted screen time. But I didn't push it.

In most cases, I would rather wait until my children are ready and willing to learn things before we make a herculean effort. To me, one of the greatest weaknesses of current education policy is the expectation for kids to learn things ever earlier. This is something that I feel that a lot of people don't understand about kids and academic pursuits - many kids can learn early, but it is a much bigger challenge than if you wait until their development advances a bit. And for those who simply are not ready to learn, it gives a sense of failure that is unfair to say the least. In our case, I knew E could learn to read if I pushed her. I absolutely could have forced her to do the lessons last winter and spring, but it would've been really difficult (for both of us!) and utterly unnecessary. I'm not into doing things that are difficult if they are utterly unnecessary. It seems...rather silly.

This term I realized that she was ready, but being willing is another thing altogether for E. With plenty of people around to read to her or tell her stories, which Z is keen to do frequently, she had no need to read things for herself most of the time. If she were going to learn at this point, she would have to be required to do the lessons. I wasn't opposed to waiting a bit longer, but there are a lot of things that she wants to do that she could do independently if she were able to read, and while she may say she doesn't want to read, she does want to do some of those things for herself. So I decided that, for her own sake, I would force her. We started the book over again. She flew through the first quarter of the lessons; we did two per day. Then she asked to do just one per day, and I agreed. We are on lesson forty now, and it is going well. I wouldn't say easily, as she would still rather not have to do it, but we manage. There are a few things that she wants to do each day which she cannot do until the reading lesson is done, and so she does it.

I have confidence that she will move through the remaining sixty lessons with relative ease. I've promised her that after she's done all the lessons and knows how reading works, she won't have to do any more required reading for me. This is what keeps her going without excessive whining - if she does the lessons daily, she will be done well before Easter. She looks forward to this, and I do, too.

When we set out to homeschool, I didn't really think about what the hardest parts would be. We were just trying to do what was right for Z, so we did it. But in hindsight, I see that my biggest challenge as a teacher has been reading instruction. There are other hurdles for sure, especially as we encounter more advanced material for Z, but something about the reading instruction process is difficult for me in a way that other things aren't. I am pleased as punch when my kids can read, but I do not get a warm, happy feeling from the learning process, as some fellow homeschooling parents have described. I'm white knuckling my way through it.

I get the sense that I'm not the only homeschooling parent who feels this way, which is why I am writing this today. It's okay if you don't love it. It's okay if you don't feel particularly nurturing while trying to get your child to say the sound for h when she wants to say Hamilton every time instead. (This was cute the first time. It got old fast.) We don't have to adore every aspect of home education. Sometimes, we just need to get the job done, and so we do it. There is nothing wrong with that. And as a bonus? For those of us who hate teaching reading the most, at least we're getting our biggest frustration out of the way early. After this, I'm pretty confident I can manage to teach my kids anything.

Friday, December 7, 2018

What Happens When It's Just Us

This week has found us mostly on our own. I think the last time it was just us for this long, we were in Nice (which is where the photo above is from). This week has been really good for all of us, in my opinion at least. When life is slower and we don't have a lot of outside input, we are all more relaxed. I get more done with less effort. We get through our school lessons in what feels like record time. My children get along better. That's the best part. It's not that they don't get along well most of the time, but when they are given a lot of time together, they fall into an easy rhythm, and they enjoy each other more. At the end of this week, I've found them in the same room with each other most of the time. They've got  a wide variety of things they are doing together, an endless array of ongoing activities to choose from. Their arguments are worked out within moments, and they continue with what they are doing. It's like a little bit of sister magic, all week long.

Obviously we can't have weeks like this all the time. But I hope that we continue to have them often enough that the relationship they have with one another continues to be well rooted in a sisterly bond, and to grow as they do. There will come a time when they will not have so much time to spend together. What we have now is an opportunity that will pass, and I am more aware than ever that the years that we can arrange our lives in this way are fleeting. I hope that we have enough weeks like this that the easy rhythm becomes well practiced, and they can fall into it whenever they are together, for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Motion of Life Slows

Tomorrow we have a full day at home. I can't remember when that last happened. We seem to always have somewhere to go, something to do, if not during the day, then in the evening. But tomorrow, there is nothing. On Monday, E had her last ballet class of the term. I have washed her uniform already, but I didn't need to rush it. I did it because I had time. That felt nice. I tucked it into her drawer today, knowing I wouldn't have to reach for it for a month.

On Tuesday, Z will have her last violin lesson of the term. We end the homeschool meet up term with a party on Wednesday. And then the hustle and bustle of term time life pauses altogether. I haven't made any decisions about when we will pause our usual lessons; we are enjoying them right now, so I see no need. It seems to be enough to have the space allowed by no extracurriculars to attend to. Even the Saturday classes are done. For the next month, we have a little breathing room.

Even the usual errands are tapering off, and this Saturday instead of scurrying from one shop to another as I normally do, I am taking the train to Windsor to take things slow. That is my intention for the entire Christmas season from here on out - take things slow. I am excited about this. It's going to be so good. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

More Than I Deserve

I was away at a parish council meeting for much of the evening, and I rode home partway with a fellow council member. We got to talking about holiday plans and where we come from and how we have decided to do what we are doing now, where we are doing it - both for the Christmas season and in life overall. We somehow got on the subject of homeschool, and as a person who has worked in education and who knows my kids, she had a lot of observations to share, and I walked away thinking about how lucky we are to have this option for our children. Sometimes I get to feeling overwhelmed with all that we need to do and all the decisions we need to make, but when it comes right down to it, the opportunity to do this is a gift. I'm sure I've said this before, but it bears repeating.

So much of what my life is filled with falls into this same category, of being a gift. I did not do anything to deserve this. I think that as human beings we like for things to make sense, and what would make sense is that if someone works hard and is kind, many good things will come to them. But I know lots of people who work hard and are kind who are struggling. I don't think that our own actions have as much to do with it as we'd like to think. Which is not to say that we shouldn't do the work which is set before us and be kind, but that we shouldn't be so eager to pat ourselves on the back. We shouldn't conjure up connections which don't actually exist.

I have been given so many things lately that I want. It boggles the mind, really. Here I sit in my warm house, with my family falling asleep down the hall. Soon I'll get into my own bed and read a book that I ordered because I wanted it, and another that was a gift from my godmother. I'll wake in the morning and shuffle into my kitchen, where there will I will pull my favorite coffee mug from the dishwasher and make myself coffee that I will drink in bed. I don't have to wash my own dishes, and I spend time just sitting in bed in the morning - if that's not luxury, I don't know what is.

When I was so busy last week, there wasn't much time to think. I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't see what a privilege my entire life is right now. But as things have slowed, I see it. I know that I am blessed and lucky. I know that I have it easy in ways that many people do not. I am glad for this reminder of it, and I am grateful for this life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Adding Quiet

Where that chair is in the photo, there is now a Christmas tree. I got up earlier than I preferred on Sunday morning to go more than an hour by Tube and bus to get the IKEA Christmas tree deal - buy a tree for £25, and get a £20 voucher to spend in January. I really couldn't resist, as I've got more than £20 worth of things on my "to buy at IKEA" list. I thought this might not work out, because the kids have wanted to go to get the tree as a family in the past, but this year they didn't mind if they didn't come along. I think that the past two years of getting the tree at the Marks & Spencer food hall has left them with a pervasive sense of boredom when it comes to Christmas tree acquisition.

This was more than fine with me. I was happy to go on my own to get the tree. It feels lately like there is a lot to do with a whole lot of people, and that leaves me feeling utterly unsettled. I need time to myself to feel okay. One might argue - and be right! - that queueing for a Christmas tree at IKEA isn't exactly time to myself, but at least it was time that I didn't have to be keeping track of anyone else or negotiating which tree to get. I got the one that I could bring home most easily on public transit; that was my only priority. And for a few moments on the trip to and fro, I sat quietly on my own.

I am trying to find more of these moments for myself. Part of my quest to get the Christmas tree was to get that necessary item checked off the list, to have very little left to do before the holiday itself. There is a lot of pressure to be doing things at Christmastime, but I am working on making this time of year quieter, not just for myself, but for us as a family. We've got another week in which there are some activities, but after that, I am planning nothing. I am stocking up on tea and baked goods. I have ordered some books. There are a few activities we always do over the Christmas holidays, and we will do those things, but I am adding nothing new. Instead, I am adding quiet. Or at least, I am trying.

I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Of all the things that happened in the last week while I was insanely busy, obviously the most important thing was that I celebrated my 43rd birthday. Forty-three isn't a very significant number, and I don't feel that it's much different from being 42. In fact, prior to my birthday, I kept forgetting that I wasn't 43 already. But now I am, officially.

Like many adults, I did my usual work during the day on my birthday. It was the day of one of our fortnightly home ed meet ups, so I did that, came home, and really didn't want to do much else. This is where it came in handy that it was my birthday, because I didn't feel at all bad about sending my children away to have extra screen time so that I could sit alone in the living room and read. I joked that it was an introvert's birthday party - no one else was invited, but cats were allowed. Honestly, it was just what I needed.

And then J came home with takeaway dinner and cake, and I didn't have to do much of anything that I normally do in the evening. I got the gifts I wanted and one surprise, and it was just right. I don't need or want a big celebration. I want a little bit of a quiet and a meal I don't have to make myself. So it was perfect. Hooray for 43!