Christmas holidays

Just a couple of hours before the girls break up for their Christmas holidays. It has been eight weeks since October half term, so we are all more than ready for a break, and I am really looking forward to, hopefully, some relaxed family time together. We are going to Worthing, just for a night, at the beginning of next week for a get together with my husband’s family, and then we will be back home for Christmas itself. After Christmas we are going to Manchester to stay with my brother and SIL and spend some time with my side of the family. All, of course, assuming that the ever-circling germs stay at bay. I think my 5yo’s class was down to 20 pupils at one point last week, through a combination of chicken pox and chest infections!

My youngest has absolutely aced her first term at school, seems to be really enjoying it, and is well on her way with reading and writing. I have missed her a lot, especially at lunchtimes when I am preparing my solitary meal, and automatically find myself starting to get her special plate out too. My eldest starting school coincided with two kittens joining our family, and being able to throw myself into kitten care definitely helped my loneliness. I did hint to my husband that maybe we should get another kitten (one of our cats sadly went missing a couple of years ago, so we just have one now), and I don’t think he was totally averse, but we are all worried that Henry Cat would not approve of having to share his home with a new kitten.

In some ways it has been quite a difficult autumn. I have struggled with the shift in my life from ten years pretty much full time at home with first one and then the second preschooler, and trying to work out what comes next for me. I have also had some health problems, with a flare-up of ankylosing spondylitis (or possibly psoriatic arthritis!) and psoriasis. The psoriasis has been mainly on my eyelids, which I hate. It is a super-itchy and super-sensitive area, and it also means I can’t wear eye make-up, and I always wear mascara. I have barely been out without it in public since I was about 14, and now it just isn’t an option. The joints in my fingers have also been stiff, swollen and sore, and I have had the normal back pain and fatigue. My rheumatology team have now decided I need to try a kind of medication called biologic therapy, which will basically dampen down my over-active immune system so it hopefully stops attacking my own joints and skin. This will be at some point in the new year, and in the meantime there have been lots of tests and medical appointments to prepare for it.

I did have an absolutely enormous To Do list, of basically 5 years worth of ‘I’ll do that when S starts school’, and predictably there was far too much to fit into 30 hours a week. So I haven’t completely spring-cleaned, de-cluttered and re-decorated the house. And I certainly haven’t re-modelled the garden. Or sorted out 10 years of photos, some still on our phones and some printed but shoved randomly into drawers, into a selection of neatly labelled albums. And I haven’t lost a stone (this is always on my to-do list!).

But I have achieved some things. Firstly, and probably most importantly, I have signed up with a new literary agency, following my former agent’s decision to retire, so I am now fully represented again. And following a meeting with my new agent I have re-written a manuscript which I have been working on for a couple of years, and submitted that to them to read over the Christmas break, which is both exciting and really nerve-racking. I have been elected as a parent governor at my children’s school, and I have continued to volunteer there for a couple of hours a week listening to Year 2 children read. I did a small amount of freelance copy-writing and editing work. This last week I finally got round to joining the local authority gym, and booking an induction with a personal trainer to learn how to use some of the utterly terrifying machines. I have also organised a Halloween party for the children, and a 5th birthday party for the youngest, and, although there is still a lot to do, I have made good progress in de-cluttering, and of course made a lot of preparations for Christmas.

I am hoping that I get some time over the Christmas break to do a bit more reflecting and some (realistic!) goal-setting for 2020. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

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