Life over the last few weeks had been a bit of a challenge. Nothing awful, everything was self-inflicted but I'm glad they are behind me.
After speaking to several loft conversions companies we selected the one we were happiest with and gave them the go ahead. They had a slot in late Feb (sounded fine to me) or one starting the next week. I was all for the late Feb slot - we had loads of decisions to make, the loft was full to the rafters with stuff, the mortgage was only just agrees, I was very busy with work and Christmas was swift approaching.
Loft bloke Carl offered £500 off the quote plus the extra plug points in the bedroom and the larger windows I'd asked him to quote for. My lovely parents offered to loan us the money until the mortgage came through and Mark pointed out £500 was an awful lot of cake I wouldn't have to bake to pay for it. So I rashly agreed.
The guys have been very nice and are decent blokes but it is still noise, mess (LOTS of mess) and disruption. This isn't that bad for people who can leave the house but as i was working 10 or more hours a day I was stuck with it. They worked 7 days a week and I am thoroughly sick of having workmen galumphing through the place now.
They've stopped for the holidays and are so very nearly finished that it's a bit frustrating. However, it looks a super job and I know it will all be worth it once we've got the decorating done.
Another advantage to having the loft room built sooner rather than later is the kids will have a room each that much sooner. Miss B and Z are sharing. Poor Z is clearly getting a raw deal as B wakes him up, is messy and bossy and roundly abuses him whenever she's in a strop about something and poor Z can't escape. He needs some space (and I need less brawling!)
The other part of the self-inflicted challenge was my workload. This year I sold 38 Christmas cakes and turned down another 7 because I was just too busy. I did several birthday cakes, including another couple of that very popular Hello Kitty cake and I had a stall at the PTA's Christmas shopping evening.
The stall was an experiment. I had great fun with it, could have sold more than double the number of cupcakes I took, and got some Christmas cake orders and a cake box subscriber as well. I think I'd do it again, although partly because it was fun rather than because it was hugely profitable once you'd taken the PTA's cut into account.
As a result of all this activity, I worked for 8 to 10 hours a day in the first half of December and 10 to 15 hours a day in the second half. By December 23rd, my last day or work, I was a punch-drunk, gibbering wreck of a woman. The presents were all bought and wrapped, the cards posted to (most) of our friends and relations, the tree up and decorated and the house a filthy mess of plaster dust and disorganisation. I spent a good chunk of that afternoon asleep and the rest looking dazed. I think it took me 3 or 4 days to feel human again.
We had a wonderful Christmas Day. The kids were gratifyingly thrilled with their presents, the hoarfrost made the outside world look sparkling and magical and Mark cooked my favourite breakfast in all the world (eggs florentine with hot smoked salmon). We drove to Mum and Dad's for a big Christmas dinner with my brother and his daughters and our younger 2 crashed the night with their cousins while Big Lad enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet with the grown-ups.
Boxing day was lunch with M's parents, an orgy of gifts for the kids (again) including 2 of the noisiest and most irksome toys imaginable that I have banned them playing with in the kitchen to preserve my sanity, to the giggling delight of the kids, and a lovely brooch for me by Parisian jewellery designer Lea Stein. That night M and I had a late night drinking, talking and Wii-playing session with my brother, which was absolutely ace. He's a top bloke.
We had an utterly wonderful couple of days with my fabulous pal B and her family, celebrating miss B's 5th birthday with them to boot. The guys played Wii golf for hours, the kids read, played and grazed on food, B and I crammed a year's worth of chat into a day and a half, iced a cake and taught her eldest how to make scones.
I've done just little bits of baking for fun - I make lemon tarts and mince pies for fun, who's have thought it! - and otherwise have mostly messed about, gone to the movies, read, watched telly with the kids and played about. Oh, and hosted a party, but that's my own darned fault and a good time was had by all.
It's been blissful.
I've only today and tomorrow left of my holiday, and I really MUST do my accounts and tax return - oh, and college notes as well.
Or I could make myself some coffee and paint mermaid with Miss B...