Apart from for one day (the 22nd of December) I haven't been to either prison since Friday 12th December. I realised then that I was very tired so took the sudden decision to take a week's annual leave. During that week, we had a close family bereavement and then the funeral. The day after the funeral I had a tooth extracted. The socket then became infected and it became increasingly painful, and so I've been off sick over Christmas and New Year. Antibiotics and maximum doses of Ibuprofen got me through the worst. I'm fine now and going back to work on Monday. I feel very sorry to have abandoned the prisoners at what is as you can imagine a very difficult time of year to be in jail.
However, the result has been much more quality family time than I'd otherwise have had (originally I was only planning to take Christmas Day and the weekends off).
The combination of all this, plus my brother-in-law and sister-in-law being back from New Zealand for my mother-in-law's funeral, and also my cousin and her husband visiting Scotland for Christmas, together with this moving post by A Cowboy's Wife, has left me feeling very sentimental. To rub it in thoroughly, I was watching Mamma Mia on video tonight with the children and was very (!) struck by the words of this song:
It reminds me of how emotional I once became when expecting Penultimate Child. Him Indoors was having an exceptionally busy year and was out constantly. Blue Eyed Boy was less than two at the time and I heard for the first time the song "The Cat's In the Cradle" which, much like Rolf Harris's "Two Little Boys", should never be mixed with pregnancy hormones (which are not the cause of today's wobbles - don't get excited).
So, all in all, although I wouldn't wish an infected tooth socket on anyone (even someone I really really really didn't like), I'm glad to have had this time off, and I just want to dedicate the following to my no-longer-so-little cherubs. It's much less sentimental. I can't keep up being soppy for very long.
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