It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. The girls and I went out to the tree farm mid-week and selected a live tree which we decorated that evening. There's not a lot of room left on our living room but I do love the smell of a real (pine) tree. Thankfully Basil doesn't seem that interested in the tree and it is tucked away in a corner, so I'm hoping it will survive unscathed.
As the girls were decorating they commented that it was hard to find space for all ornaments. So we decided not to make any new decorations for the tree this year. Instead we decorated the fridge - not seasonally appropriate but snowmen are still associated with Christmas here regardless of the fact that it is summer.
We also had a few minutes of fun playing this roll-your-own-elf game.
The one thing everyone wanted to do this Christmas was to check out the houses with Christmas light displays. So last night we drove around (singing carols loudly to ourselves as we went!) and checked out some of the lights.
Mr 17 completed another very successful tramp this week - five days and lots of rivers to cross. It was his final requirement for both the Gold Venturer Award and the Silver Hillary/Duke of Edinburgh award.
Miss 14 and I drove up to the mountains to collect him and the rest of his group and had high hopes of seeing some new birds. Sadly (for us at least) the guys were out sooner than they first planned so we only managed to squeeze in an hour of birding and didn't manage any new birds. Two birding trips earlier in the week also failed to turn up any new species.
However, Miss 14 did receive one piece of good news. She's been offered some paid coaching next year. Just two classes at this stage but we weren't sure she'd be offered any paid hours, and I wouldn't want her working too many hours anyway.
My exciting news was a letter from an old friend. We met each other when we lived in Canada and had kept in touch ever since. We lost contact a couple of years ago after her husband died so it was great to hear from her again. Even better news is that she and her daughter (who is the same age as Mr 22 - we met at a library story time for babies when they were both a few months old!) will be holidaying in Australia in the middle of next year and will be making a side trip to New Zealand to see us. By then it will be nearly twenty years since we left Canada. I'm really looking forward to catching up in person.
With formal homeschooling on hold for our summer break and extra-curricular activities winding down (trampolining finally finished this week) we've had more time for reading. Miss 14 has finished Eleanor and Park and made a start on Mockingbird. They are slightly grittier than her normal reading material - another sign that she's getting older I guess. She's also reading The Christmas Mystery (a chapter per day this month until Christmas Eve) and A Christmas Carol as well as some bird books. I finished Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time , which I didn't especially like (normally I enjoy Picoult but not this time - it may have been the psychic element), and The Funeral Dress which I do recommend, especially if you are a fan of stories set in the South.
The main event of the week for us was the last family birthday of the year. Miss 19 is now Miss 20 - homemade chocolate mousse to celebrate tonight!