NOT sleepy

And within ten minutes of last night’s post about a sleepy Amber she was up again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until the cuteness had completely worn off.

This morning, she was up at 5.30, asking to come in with us, to which the Lovely Melanie explained that, as usual, she would have to to wait until 7am (we don’t specify times to Amber, obviously, but we told her again that she wasn’t allowed in until “morning”).

At 7.10 she was banging on her door again so the Lovely Melanie let her come in with us; whereupon Amber crawled all over the bed, chattered continually to White-White and kicked everyone else in the stomach, before standing up and switching the bedside light on.

After five warnings my temper snapped: I scooped her up and dumped her unceremoniously back in her room and shut slammed the door.

Cue a 30-minute screaming fit that really set everyone up for the whole day – all except Millie who miraculously slept through it.


Putting some washing out upstairs I was just caught unawares by a knocking on Amber’s door.  I opened the door and a sleepy-faced imp with blonde tousled-hair looked blearily up and reached for a cuddle.

I picked her up, cuddled her and gave her some water – and was sleepily instructed not to put the lid back on her new cup (which I had done).

20 seconds later she was fast asleep again.

She won’t even remember this tomorrow, but I will. 🙂

Christmas 2010

Not an awful lot to write about Christmas 2010 except that we had a lovely time, as usual.  It seemed a bit more tiring than usual, but that might be explained by the Amber flu that everyone is fighting.

We had the in-laws – Pam, Dave and Kristine – round Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which made it extra special since Kristine flies back to Australia tomorrow and who knows when she’ll be back again.  I hope you enjoyed your Christmas with us, Kris, I know all of us enjoyed having you here.  The girls were up at about 6.30 – a time that felt earlier as we went to the pub on Christmas Eve, but then the Lovely Melanie and the Lovely In-laws all went to a carol service down in the village – although it turned out to be less a carol service than a full-blown religious service with some carols – and didn’t finish till 1am.

Opening presents took about two hours, despite Millie and Amber both starting at a cracking pace.  For Amber it was definitely a sprint event, the sheer joy of opening presents blinding her to the contents hidden inside the wrapping; Millie is a little more considered these days and it was my favourite part of the day seeing her smiling face and hearing her squeal with delight upon opening every single gift.  At least three things were what she’d always wanted most in the world.

Christmas dinner was a stupendous affair with enough food to feed twice as many, all of it delicious, and all of it thanks to my amazing wife. 🙂

My parents, middle brother and his wife came up on Boxing Day.  As is proper for a Carter Christmas, there was much good-natured arguing over Guess Who, loads of sweets and then we hunkered down in front of the television to watch…well, I can’t remember, but it felt like a real family Christmas.

Today my Mum and Dad took myself, Millie and Amber to Lewisham to buy some gerbils for the cage Millie got for Christmas from us.  She was terribly excited, but quickly chose two girls – a white one and a grey/silver one.  They have been christened Glitter and Sparkle. and seem to be settling into their new home in Millie’s room very well.  I’d forgotten how fascinating small animals can be to watch as they scamper about on their own little business, and I think they’re going to be an excellent addition to the family.  Even the Lovely Melanie, who dislikes any animals smaller than a cat, is slowly warming to them.  Slowly…

There are pictures of our Christmas and our new family members here.

Christmas Eve

Judging by the cries of “It’s Christmas Eve!  It’s Christmas Eve!” here I can only assume it’s Christmas Eve at last.

But we’re back from the pub in New Cross, both the girls are fast asleep and it’s deliciously quiet here, so it must be Christmas Eve at last.

It’s taken a long time for me me to really feel as though it’s Christmas, but I’m delighted to report that I finally do, and am very much looking forward to tomorrow.  Having spent last night rushing to finish the girls’ Christmas story for this year and every night previous to that rushing to sort out one thing or another there’s now just a single book review to write over the Christmas holidays and the prospect of a nice family Christmas to enjoy.

And do you know, I haven’t the faintest of dim ideas what my gifts tomorrow will bring?  The first time I’ve been able to say that in a very long time…x

I’d like to briefly mention my Uncle Graham’s blog post upon the death of my Nan (his Mum) which was the most honest, mature and yet heartfelt meditation upon the death of a loved one that I’ve ever read.  I wish I could directly link to it here but his website doesn’t allow for that sort of thing.

Suffice to say, I both agree and sympathise with every single word he wrote, and aspire to write a post of such quality myself one day.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Death and Millie

This morning we explained to Millie that Great-Nanny had died yesterday, and I was impressed at how intelligently and compassionately she handled the news.

She asked if we had any pictures of Great-Nanny on the computer (“Yes“) and could we print one out for her (“Yes“), and suggested making a card for Grampy (my Dad) to say how sorry she was.  She asked if Great-Nanny had gone to heaven, to which the Lovely Melanie carefully replied that if people were religious they believed she would, but that there was no proof that heaven is a real place and we, her parents, didn’t think so.

I suggested that Great-Nanny had lived a long long time, that lots of people had loved her very much, that she had died quietly in her sleep and how, even though she was dead, we would all remember her, and that this was good enough.

Next Millie wanted to know how she died, where she died and old she was; then how old I was.  Finally, with no prompting, she said how sad she was because she had loved Great-Nanny, which made me love our little girl more than ever!

And the other little girl?  We haven’t told her yet – she’s a bit young, really.  She still managed to cheered me up though.

One of her slightly less successful catchphrases was “Get with the program!” which we taught her to say a couple of months ago.  It was funny for a day and then she promptly forgot it.

Or so we thought.  Coming home on the bus from nursery last night the Lovely Melanie reports that it was a very slow journey – slow enough that even Amber noticed and took to shouting – ahem – “Get with the television, bus!



My Nan – my Dad’s Mum – has just died, about 90 minutes ago, peacefully in her sleep after a short illness.

I don’t want to write much here as I’m quite upset.  To me she was always the archetypal ideal of a grandparent – I loved my other grandparents, but I saw a great deal of my Nan when I was growing up and hence felt closer to her.

Nan’s husband – my Gramp, my Dad’s Dad – died when I was about Millie’s age, and I only have vague memories of him (her other grandchildren had no memories of him at all, so I feel lucky in that respect to have any).  After he was gone my Nan never remarried, never seemed to want to, and the house always seemed to be busy when we went round.  Various family members (indeed, even whole families!) lived with her at one time or another, and I remember many many happy Saturday afternoons spent round there with my brothers, Nan looking after the three of us while our parents went and played their football and their netball.

There would be cups of tea that tasted better than anyone else made; we would explore her house, finding all manner of treasure hidden in the cupboards and drawers; she would show us her false teeth, which astonished us anew each time we saw them; we were allowed, at an insanely young age, to have bonfires in her back garden, burning all of the rubbish she’d accumulated that week; we’d explore down the railway lines at the bottom of her garden, finding no end of junk wonders there; and she bought us all a packet of sweets every single week without fail, despite struggling on a rather meagre pension – even buying me expensive diabetic chocolate after I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Our times with her were, in my memory, like an Enid Blyton story, sunny and magical, with a tiny exciting edge of danger to them.

She became ill with pneumonia earlier in the week and died peacefully in her sleep about an hour ago.

And I miss her already.

Home, but not alone

I had to stay home from work yesterday waiting for a locksmith, and Amber had to stay with me.

When the Lovely Melanie left for work just after 5am she couldn’t shut the front door behind her, not for love nor money.  She woke me up and called me downstairs in my dressing gown, and even with motivation of -9 degree temperatures I couldn’t get that door shut.

So in the end we had to wedge it shut as best we could and call a locksmith.  I phoned two 24-hour locksmiths in Bexley (twice!) and neither ever replied.  At about 8am I tried another one who not only answered his phone but agreed to come round at about lunchtime.

Geoff the locksmith was pleasant, efficient and fixed our locks, and I highly recommend him to anyone who needs a locksmith in Bexley!

It transpires that our door has never locked properly in the whole time we’ve lived there and someone could have broken in at any time, which is a bit worrying.

Or would be if Geoff hadn’t fixed things.  Thanks, Geoff!  And thanks, Amber, for being so well-behaved and funny yesterday. 🙂  The only downside of the whole day was that it made coming back to work today a real chore. 😦

And in a seamless segue, here’s an awesome pic of Phobos orbiting Mars taken just last month by Mars Express.  I missed the total lunar eclipse this morning so I’m making do with pics of someone else’s moon!

Beautiful, isn’t it?  Just hanging there in space, a massive multi-trillion tonne ball of rock.

Click on it for a link to the full-size version which is even more impressive.