This post was called something else, but then my mum called ...

And we all know by now that my mum's a bit like deja vu in the Matrix, every time you see her it means she's been in fiddling and changed something ...

Anyway. This was supposed to be a post where I would ramble on for a few paragraphs reminding everyone about the time my mum said she was going to take Chloe on holiday with her, she even went so far as to tell Chloe that. A couple of years passed where my mum would book a holiday, Chloe would ask if she was going and be told she was a bit young to go this time and to be honest I'd kind of written the idea off as one of those things on my mum's 'to do' list that she would never actually get round to doing. So I stopped worrying about it.

Then she calls last week (this would be the first call that would have resulted in the original post, but there's been another since then).

She's booked a holiday in June and she's already booked and paid for Chloe to go and I need to get her passport sorted out. Next comes two days of me panicking because "June" is what's commonly referred to by mothers, fathers and most importantly Head Mistresses as "End of Term". It's when all the good bits like assessments, class transfers and class induction days happen.


Anyway, long story short, I got my knickers in a bit of a twist for no reason because her teacher assured me that if there was a good time to take a child out of the class (not that there's a great time) it's the two weeks Chloe will be away and she'll be back in time for all the changes which happen in the last two weeks of school.

Mind at rest ...

Then my mum calls again!

I should quickly clarify something before I go, my mum, dad and Chloe were going on this holiday with my aunt and her daughter who is the same age as Chloe and they get on like a house on fire, but

My dad booked the holiday and opted for one large room. My mum didn't find out until the confirmation arrived. Now while it's entirely reasonable for five people to share a room if you're one big family, when it's actually two families sharing you kind of like to have your own space and a bit of privacy.

So my mum called and changed it to two smaller rooms, which means paying for another adult whether one goes on the holiday or not*.

So I'm off to Fanabe in June:)

Woohoo. I feel a lot better about Chloe going on holiday now knowing that I'll be there too, but I do still feel a bit rotten about Robert not going even though he's says it completely fine by him and he can man up for a fortnight. He'll likely even enjoy a small dose of bacheloritis for a while. Hopefully I can get past the feeling that I'm running off and abandoning him for two weeks.

A dip in the pool might take my mind off it:)

* Yes it sucks but that's how package holidays work here and it's the biggest reason that I never book a package, I book a flight and figure out the rest myself at some stage. Basically package holidays are set up and price on even numbers of people travelling (except 3, 3 works for them). So if 2, 4, 6 or 8 people are off on holiday it's all good and you only pay for the number of people going, but if 5 people are going then you have to pay for six because the tour operator wants the most money possible for each room. That's just the way it is. One day I hope to make my mum realise that she hasn't spoken to a holiday rep in 7 years yet she pays through the nose every year for the sake of having access to one.

Oh yes we did

I know what you're going to say ...

It's only November!

It was Halloween five minutes ago!

You need locking up woman!

And maybe I do, but where's the fun in that. So here it is, Chloe's first "It's only the middle of November and you're mad you are Christmas Tree".

You never forget your first Christmas tree or at least I didn't forget mine. It was tiny, about two foot tall and all the decorations and lights were permanently attached to it so 'putting up the Christmas tree' for me meant taking it out of the box, demangling the branches a little and plugging it in. Not much I know, but it was mine and I was the boss of that tree. It stayed in the box in the bottom of my wardrobe and it was up to me when I put it up in my room, usually the middle of November.

I can't in all honestly take any credit for Chloe's tree though. My mum first mentioned it a week or so ago that she was going to keep an eye out for a little fibre optic tree she could keep in her bedroom and Robert remembered the spare one we had in the roofspace.

The spare one was my first Christmas tree, I was 17 and working in a job that paid a pittance. I walked to work for two weeks instead of taking the bus so that I could buy that tree. When we moved from Belfast to this house and I bought The Biggest Tree Ever™ I just didn't have the heart to get rid of the old one.

So now it's Chloe's tree, even if it is seven years older than her already.

Robert even took her out last week to pick the decorations for it, pink and purple tinsel and a stack of resin decorations, plus a few of my own. The little wooden nutcracker decorations are the set I bought 12 years ago:) You'll notice though that Robert being Robert, he couldn't resist wrapping up one of her stocking fillers and putting it under the tree to torture her.

Do you think she'll still remember her first tree when she's my age? I hope so.

Alls well

Oh here, three weeks! That's quite bad isn't it?

Oh well. You know when everything is just going so well and you roll with it and enjoy life and let time get away from you. Well that's exactly what I've been doing lately, I make no apologies. Life has been great.

Chloe is loving school at the minute. We had her parent teacher meeting just before Halloween and apart from the fact that she sometimes rushes things and can be easily distracted the odd time her teacher is really pleased with her progress. There isn't a book she's brought home the past few months that she has trouble reading and she's excelling in maths. Her teacher likes to let the kids progress at their own speed and there are different stages in each topic but if the kids are ready to move past their current stage she lets them, so some are further along in reading, some in maths, some in writing. Logistically it must be a nightmare or the woman is a genius herself because I can't quite imagine keeping an eye on what 25 kids are doing when they're not all doing the same thing at the same time:)

Financially we've had some good news too. We are due to come out of our current mortgage offer on 1 December so I called my lender* to renegotiate, figuring that either I could get the same rate fixed for a few years or a small reduction. I didn't. Instead they more than halved the rate, effectively cutting my current mortgage payment in half as well and fixed it for two years for me. Now it's blue sky and plain sailing for a while with more spare cash maybe for a holiday (Robert's Chloe's desperate to go to Disneyland in Paris) and definitely for Chloe's trust fund so I can start to build that up again.

Plus we got a letter from the gas company to say we've overpaid this year by nearly £70. Roll on the warm toasty Christmas:)

My dad's all better, it's truly been an amazing thing to see. You really wouldn't believe to look at him that he had Cancer a few short months ago, or that he had major surgery to treat it. He actually counts it as a blessing now because a) he's much more aware of his own health and actively looking after himself and b) he was able to spend loads of time with Chloe while he was off work. My dad doesn't have kids of his own so he just loves the fact he has a grand daughter. The only problem was that he worked nights and would be tired during the day and Chloe being the handful that she is, this meant she spent more of her time with my mum when she was at their house.

The fact he's been able to spend so much time with her is brilliant, she gets it now that my dad is "the fun one", the one who will put her in the car and drive 30 miles just to show her a bit of tree trunk because it looks like a bum or he'll let her make shortbread and milkshakes and completely destroy the kitchen in the process because "otherwise the brush and mop were a waste of money".

He's back to work now on light duties, but he's realised that it's better to have more time than more money so he's sworn off the idea of overtime. Hopefully this means he'll have not only more time, but more energy for his family now.

And lastly to top off the good news, Robert's boss reminded him last week that he hasn't taken any holidays yet, he also reminded him of the company motto "It's Christmas, stuff the work". His boss wants to shut up shop while the kid's are off school for the holidays, he didn't need to ask Robert twice so now we'll all be home together for the holidays. I couldn't really ask for more to be honest.

*Progressive Building Society for anyone interested. They're absolutely brilliant to deal with and their customer service is second to none. I've never known a company to go so far out of their way to be helpful and most importantly they do this both when the times are good and when they're bad whereas most other banks seem happy to drop their customers like hot turds when the chips are down, Progressive have always been brilliant and got me out of a tight spot once or twice.