Phew, it's been a old busy week here. Between Bella's birthday, Christmas preparations, seeing family and running around after the dog, each day has been packed to the limit. Bella turned ten on Sunday and at her request we went into Chichester to spend her birthday money and to Pizza Express for lunch. My mum threw a little family tea party later in the afternoon and we all gathered together for cake, including Molly, who stole a whole slice right off the dining room table.
On Tuesday we held Bella's party at a local gymnastic centre, and they had an hour on the equipment, supervised by an instructor, followed by a party lunch with all her school friend and cousins. It worked really well. It was, of course, completely exhausting (I do not particularly enjoy hosting children's birthday parties) but Bella enjoyed herself immensely which is all that matters. I thought her choice of birthday cake this year - chocolate, decorated with strawberries - was a grown up choice. Her tastes are changing, although she was over the moon with her Sylvanian Families toys and new doll, so she is still my little girl, even if she is now in "double digits".
We had the most glorious walk on the beach at the weekend. It was Molly's first proper visit to the sea and is was wonderful to watch her sniff and explore. I would love to watch her run on the sand and I really hope we can let her off her lead at some point in the future, but unfortunately her recall training is non-existent at the moment. We have removed her muzzle now and she is happy to sniff and play with larger dogs but not fond of little ones - still work to do there. But what I noticed is that we had four lovely conversations with other dog owners on Saturday - people old and young who we wouldn't normally chat to - about our dog, their dogs, the warm weather (the kids were in t-shirts!) and it was really nice.
I've found our daily dog walks a welcome moment of calm in these busy days. It's a juggle to fit them in but, once we're out, it's very restorative. We discovered some woodland with a stream running through it just five minutes from our house, and it's become my favourite daily walk with Molly before work. Usually I march us around (I've lost four pounds since we became dog owners!) but yesterday I went with my sister and nephew, and we lingered down there for ages while the kids paddled in the stream, clambered around the woods, looked for big sticks and generally got completely filthy. It was great.
Something shifted today and I felt some of the Christmas pressure lift. My parents took Bella, Angus and Molly out for a walk this morning and then gave them lunch, giving me around four hours alone in the house. Four precious, sweet, blissful hours where no-one shouted "Mum!" or had to be let out for a wee in the garden. It was just wonderful. I basically cleaned everything and then wrapped lots of presents - nothing glamourous, but it was so good to have some time alone to get on with jobs unhindered. My to do list is now shorter and, while there is a lot to do tomorrow (the food shop, collect the turkey, visit my Grandad, ready the house for John's parents who are coming to stay for Christmas), I think there will less frantic rushing around and hopefully a few moments to relax and enjoy this time of year.
Do you remember that I was crocheting a koala and chimpanzee for Bella and Angus? Well, Bella's koala is finished and wrapped, but Angus's chimpanzee....oh dear. I've crocheted one leg so far and it's highly unlikely it will be done in time for Christmas. I told him this and he said brightly, "It's OK Mummy, you can give it to me on Boxing Day!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that it probably won't be ready by Boxing Day, either.