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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Not a very monarchist family

Conversation overheard this evening between Anna (6) and Amaia (4):

Putting on dressing-up clothes...

Anna: I'm going to be a princess. No, I might be a queen. I'll be Queen Elizabeth.
Amaia: I'll be Queen Ursula then.
(Their Danish cousins are called Elisabeth and Ursula).
Anna: No, Elizabeth is a real queen.
Amaia: Is she?
Anna: Yes she's real and she's still alive. She's the one who lives in London.
Amaia: Oh! I thought she was just a made-up queen they drew on the back of coins.

This made me cry

Friday, November 28, 2014

Baby Lily Mildred Buchanan-Widmann!

After last week's upset, we sneaked out on Tuesday morning to acquire a new family member. We got to see two boy hamsters and four girls. One of the girls, an all-over brown one, had already been reserved. That left this one, one who was almost identical to Rosie, right down to the triangle, but with red eyes (so we ruled her out as being too much of a reminder) and finally a really pretty fluffier creamy striped one. Of the boys, one was also really fluffy and coloured like a ginger cat. Almost immediately I started to toss up between the cream girl and the ginger boy. The owner said this grey one was friendlier so we played with all three for ten minutes before ruling her in and the creamy one out. She was a bit too chewy to live with young children unfortunately as she was stunning. This grey one was a tiny bit more curious, The ginger boy was so laid-back we weren't sure we'd ever see him again once he discovered our deep sawdust compartment, so she was chosen.

Once we picked the kids up from school and brought them home to their surprise, we had a conference on what to call her. Everyone, excluding Marcel who was at work but including granny, who'd dropped in for coffee, had opted for Lily but Anna was on a bit of an over-tired, post-school power trip so dug in her heels. Eventually she gave in with pouted lip and folded arms. The following morning, well-slept, she decided she needed to climb down though. Firstly, she tried to claim she had misheard us and thought we were trying to name a girl hamster 'Louis' and claimed that had been the reason for her strop. But later in the day she decided once again she needed somehow to have one up on her siblings so told me quietly 'Since the others got to choose her name, I think I should be allowed to choose her middle name'. Not realizing such a small animal needed one, I saw no harm in agreeing. Then she announced this tiny ball of fluff would be known forthwith as 'Lily Mildred Buchanan-Widmann'. Apart for making me laugh, I do wonder how she's even heard the name Mildred. I thought they all died out when Phyllises were still in nappies, and that was nearly 100 years ago!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The child of a campaigner?

The local primary must have been doing some slightly premature St Andrew's day celebrations today. Amaia and I were sitting in the living room when we heard lots of children's voices. This isn't unusual as we are equidistant between two primary schools, but this time they were accompanied by a piper, no less. As he made his way past our house we heard the bagpipes being played very well for a good five minutes without a break. Amaia sat quietly, listening and when silence finally reigned, she turned to me, smiled knowingly and announced 'Mummy, I think there is a Yes outside!' 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rosie Hamster 12-4-13 -> 21-11-14

You can't spent 18 months living with someone without getting attached... On Friday our little Rose Hamster fell in her cage - she was always a climber. She broke her leg too badly to be treated.

At 5pm I was happily making dinner and sharing a slice of the butternut squash with our much-loved hamster and by 7pm I was listening to three hysterical kids as we buried her in the garden. This is the last photo I took of her a couple of weeks ago.

We were already having a shit enough day without that (a combination of watching another UKIP win down south - this time by a man who just last week stated he wanted EU citizens repatriated as soon as 2017 - goodbye husband?) That, and a wonderful new piece of legislation from our favourite ever Tory government stating that people whose circumstances change between taking out a mortgage and it coming to its end 25 years later (excuse me for being naive, but isn't that eventually likely to be almost everyone?) will no longer be eligible for new deals on fixed rates, trackers etc even from their current lender, but will be forced onto the standard variable rate. I don't really understand the logic of forcing people onto a variable rate when they most need stability and visibility, unless it is a way of increasing the government housing stock by repossessing everyone's house. But there you have it, and ours runs out next week! Wowser.

Anyway back to the main topic.

We originally chose a hamster, to be honest, because we couldn't really be bothered with a pet, or rather we wanted one and felt the kids would benefit from one but had so much on our plates that we couldn't commit to dog walking and knew a cat would end up under the number 4 bus that passes our house every 15 minutes all day long. We figured a hamster would serve the purpose of teaching them about care and companionship without us having to get overly involved. I did worry a hamster wouldn't have much personality to be honest. I now ask myself how wrong I could have been?!

Within days of getting Rosie, however, I was surprised to find I really liked her. I guess she entered our family at the point I usually have another baby, so she became that! And once she was installed in our internal hall, the one leading to all the downstairs rooms in our house (except our bedroom), I found myself talking to her every time I passed through. Hamsters are good listeners, especially when life throws shit your way. They look both interested and understanding. They nod a lot when you talk to them. She got to know the family routines and got up every morning at 8 to wave the kids off to school before retiring until about 5pm when dinner smells would again have her up for a chat. She knew us each by smell and was always happy to chat to us as any nosy and outgoing creature would. I'm the family salad maker so whatever I was making, she got a slice. She loved everything in a salad, except tomatoes. Tomatoes were a definite no-no. Thomas and Rosie had a chat at bed time every night - in Danish, of course. Like our kids, Rosie was a bilingual hamster.

Now maybe I'm just a soppy old git but if you'd asked me last week what I was most dreading when she eventually died, which I thought wouldn't be for about a year, so I hadn't even started psyching myself up for it, I'd have said the kids' reaction but today, two days on and having only caught about four hours sleep since Friday, I feel utterly lost without her. I miss sharing my salads, I miss our chats, and the house feels too quiet by half. Unlike the stereotypical mum showing relief at no longer having the hassle of cleaning her and feeding her and the likes, I find myself missing her dreadfully. She had her own wee character, so in a way is irreplaceable but I already find myself googling where I can adopt another little hamster I can chat to about its big sister, who died in such a silly way at just 19 months old. I find myself going through my flickr pictures sobbing, like a daft cow... She was such a sweet baby when we got her, so tiny.

I think one of the things that surprised me most, never having had a hamster, was the fact that she was very like a human, in many ways: curious about the same things and similar in her reactions to situations. Her little hands looked just like mine.

Every two or three months we'd get up and she would have rearranged her furniture - she had a three room cage and we'd suddenly find she'd moved all the bedding from one room to another overnight. She'd suddenly decide to move from living in her cosy glass jar to making a bed under her sawdust with a long tunnel leading up to it and then just as soon as she'd moved her stuff in, she'd change her mind again. I'm a bit like that myself. I like to move furniture, redecorate and move house so I could really relate to that. I like to imagine what must have gone through her mind because her moves always took quite a lot of planning and to-ing and fro-ing. It takes a little hamster a long time to move 2kg of sawdust using only her pouches!

Finally, we were of course very proud when she became the face of Scottish Hamsters for Indy ;-)

But she had a good life for a hamster. She was adored by us all. She had a huge cage thanks to our hamster expert friend who advised us early on that the cages sold in pet shops really aren't suitable for grown hamsters. We changed her toys often so she had a bit of variety and took her out to play with her in the bath (empty of course!) And she had rather a posh diet for a hamster too. Banana was her favourite.

Léon drew this for her which set me off again:

And little Amaia did her own wee drawing of Rosie in a tiara which is too sweet:

Monday, November 17, 2014

The saga continues

This wee it is springs instead of gadgets...

First casualty was the mattress on our bed - a spring has popped through along either side - not in the middle where we actually sleep at least so we don't roll on it while we are asleep, but right on the edge so it nips my bum every morning on my way out. Mum very helpfully asked if our bed had perhaps seen too much action?! You've got to laugh!

Next, the couch in the TV room followed suit. I sat down last night and found another one up my backside. At this rate we'll need to buy each other bean bags and airbeds for Xmas. Oh to win the lotto!

I wonder what will die on us next week...

(I suppose after nearly six years of replacing nothing and trying to live freelance, things have decided to self-destruct en masse!) Joy...