Bella turned eleven on Monday. This feels like more of a milestone birthday than any before, although I don't really know why that should be. I think it's the knowledge that her time at primary school is gradually coming to an end and, with that, a distinct era of her childhood. She is very definitely still a child - reading, playing, doing all the things she always did - but so self sufficient too. She gets herself up and ready for school, makes the packed lunches, organises her school work, reminds me to take certain things in on certain days. I haven't been needed to wash or style hair in months. I don't know where she gets her self motivation from but I'm proud of her.
Her gifts included clothes, Lego, books, toys and stationery. She chose not to have a big party with her friends this year, but wanted to go shopping then out for lunch to Wagamama, which we did. On Monday night her cousins and my family came round for tea and we sang Happy Birthday to her then. Her cake was, at her direction, chocolate marble sponge cake. This proved fairly easy: I made some plain vanilla cake batter, then the same again just replacing about a quarter of the flour with cocoa powder. I dolloped equal amounts into the cake tin then roughly swirled it around. It looks a lot more impressive than it should. Icing was plain buttercream with gold dots, topped with a cake topper I ordered from Etsy at the last minute. It was all good, and not too stressful.
Thank you for your thoughts on Christmas stress. I think, as some of you astutely pointed out, that these kinds of pressures are the flip side of the coin that is having a full and busy life. I have a lot of people to shop for, a lot of gifts to wrap, but then I am blessed with a big, close-knit family and dear friends. I have meals to plan and food shopping to sort out and a lot of cooking to do, but I will have a house full of guests and meals full of chat and laughter and wine. My house seems to endlessly need cleaning but we have a puppy. The washing...well, I can't think of anything positive to say about the amount of laundry I seem to do on a daily basis, not to mention the ironing.
The weather has been lovely these past few days - cold, crisp and sunny, with some beautiful frosts. It's my favourite kind of winter weather, short of snow, which we rarely get down here. I heard tonight that the weather forecast for Christmas will be wet and mild. The worst kind of winter weather. Throw in "windy" to that combination and I'll just stay indoors for the rest of December.
We have one more day of school, one more get up, one more morning rush. Tomorrow, after work, I'm having my nails done, then walking Ziggy, then a hot shower before putting on my only little black dress and going out for our work Christmas party. I have some hot pink tassel earrings and new shoes. I'm probably going to drink too much and I'm definitely going to do some bad Mum Dancing. I can't wait.