Friday, October 31, 2008


When we went out looking for a new kitchen 6 months ago I was looking for a white one, and Thomas seemed to be looking for a wooden one but when we saw IKEA's high gloss red we decided it was time to be daring rather than boring. Having ordered it all we took colour samples for the walls and nothing seemed to go except the most boring of whites. Somehow in a moment of madness we convinced each other green would be unusual. After we started building it, I really really wasn't sure, and lay awake trying to work out how to paint white between the units. Last night I took this photo of Charlotte who had baked a Halloween cake all by herself. And do you know what? When I saw her against the green wall with the dark red in the background, I finally decided I actually like our wacky kitchen!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


One Ring to find them
Originally uploaded by Kyrion
I get the feeling we've reached the panic stages of this credit crunch where people are acting without thinking... I was out shopping today - Thomas and I needed fangs as we are Mr and Mrs Vampire at a Halloween party for 3 year olds tomorrow. Wandering around East Kilbride shopping centre, a sign in the jeweller's window caught my eye. Buy one get a second one half price! I looked down... diamond engagement rings. Sure, during a recession there are probably fewer people getting engaged or married as it is quite an expense so you probably need to do something to draw in the customers. I do think 20% off or suchlike might have been more useful however. I mean - what is the bloke meant to do with the second one? Keep it for a future mistress if the marriage doesn't work out? Give it to the current girlfriend to wear every second day? Maybe sell it on ebay - It's unused, honest! Maybe he could take 2 girlfriends along together, to save him time ring shopping... I think someone hasn't quite thought this selling policy through to the end point! It made me smile though.


I had porridge when I was a primary school kid - Ready Brek (remember the ad with the kids going to school with a glowing red line around them?) to be precise - but I hadn't had it since. I was traumatized by my old Gramps once asking if I wanted some one Saturday morning and delving in to the bowl unsuspecting and gulping down a revolting salty spoonful. He didn't realize youngsters ate it with sugar, I didn't realize oldies ate it with salt - yeuch. So for 28 or 29 years I avoided porridge till last year.
One morning I got into the office and was hungry. I mailed Thomas to ask if he had any fruit or anything and he replied he only had syrup porridge sachets. I was revolted but starving. I poured it into a mug and covered it in milk. I microwaved it. The texture made me queasy. The sweetness reminded me of the salty experience. Yeuch. I avoided it for another year.
Last week I was freezing one morning when I got up and what did I see on to of the fridge but syrup porridge sachets. I gingerly attempted a spoonful. It was warm and the texture was less alien this time.
Every morning since I have come down in the cold and reached for the porridge rather than the cornflakes. Porridge is actually quite nice, when Gramps is no longer likely to sabotage it with salt (but don't tell Thomas - I slagged him off for weeks for buying such a revolting snack). My kids of course have never tasted porridge because I never bought it so when I offered them a taste of the gloopy oats they wandered off muttering that looks sick under their breath. I wonder how long it will take me to convert them to warm winter cereal.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I first made Anna some very delicious cheesy scrambled eggs when she was about 6 months old. She loved it. After that she had it fairly often, maybe once or twice a week. One day she had a bad cold so I gave her it as it was easy to digest. She projectile vomited for the only time in her life ten minutes later because of excess catarrh. Since that day she has stared out every plate of scrambled egg I have offered her in a vaguely offended or even defiant manner, without even licking the spoon. Coincidence or memory?

Monday, October 27, 2008


Two oclock
Originally uploaded by rodneylibraries
Thomas and I were lying hugging in bed on Saturday night in the dark. We have a very cool (if nerdy) radio controlled digital projection alarm clock. As if by telepathy, as often happens between Thomas and I, we had the same thought at the same time: given Anna gets us up a few times some nights and at least once every night, then there was a chance we'd be up at the point in time when the clock reset itself automatically for British Winter time. That would mean we would see whether it counted backwards, or simply changed back one hour. Simultaneously, as I said Wouldn't it be cool if we were awake at 2am? Thomas said Wouldn't it be cool if we were awake at 3am? Weird! Who was right? We checked wikipedia - we both were - the UK changes to winter time at 2am, Denmark at 3am. I had always assumed everyone did it at 2am, he had assumed the same of 3am, but of course we have to all shift at the same time for the time difference to stay the same - it is so obvious, but I wouldn't have learned it from hugging a fellow Scot. Even more interesting in wikipedia is the fact that despite this being seemingly the only obvious way to do it in retrospect, the States does it differently - with everywhere switching at 2am locally, thus completely knocking out time zones all over the country temporarily, and in Australia they don't even change on the same day. Suddenly Europe seems to be the only sane place to live... did I say suddenly???


Sunset in Iceland
Originally uploaded by Deivis
I hear today that Icelandair is cancelling its regular Glasgow to Reykjavik route for the duration of the winter because of the decline in value of the Icelandic krona. Big deal, I hear you say. But, what you might not be aware of, unless you, like me, have worked in a Glasgow jewellery shop over the Christmas period, is the enormous amounts of money Icelanders pour into the Glasgow Christmas economy.
As a student I worked in the not very interesting H Samuel over Christmas. Tall vaguely foreign people who spoke an almost accentless English would come in by the planeload on a daily basis throughout November and December and bulk buy gold chains and bracelets in particular. You could rest assured that if the woman in the furry hat wanted 12 or even 24 expensive gold chains, the credit card she would tender would have a strange surname ending in dóttir. I think this latest problem will cause a bit of a shock ripple around Glasgow this festive season.


We just had six days with no washing machine - a combination of changing washing machine, changing kitchen and changing water pipes. I tried to make the kids eat breakfast in their
underwear so pyjamas were wearable for more than one night, even in the under 5s. I tried to ban all muddy outdoor sports in the rain all week and still this was the pile that amassed. Approximately 10 washing machine loads! We've had the new one installed now since Saturday afternoon and I'm still washing! How exciting is my life? (Thank god they invented the washing machine by the way - can you imagine 100 years ago with 10 kids and no washing machine (and no tumble drier) on a dreary Scottish October day!?)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Nancy (France)
Originally uploaded by michellefouineur
What is it about delivery people? First of all that nonsense about we can't pin it down to less than a 12 hour window... bullshit! Someone is drawing up a schedule of when the truck is leaving Comet or Ikea or whatever and if they have an ounce of common sense they'd draw up a route serving the places nearest followed by the others in the vicinity.
Yesterday we ordered a washing machine from Kitchen Science and they said it would come between 7am and 7pm today. Ho hum. But this bunch took the biscuit - they rang us on our mobile phone at 7am and told us This is Kitchen Science, just to let you know we will pin your delivery down to this afternoon between 1pm and 5pm, thought you'd like to know in case you wanted a lie in! A lie in??? - you just bloody phoned us at 7am on a Saturday morning!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Danes can be a wee bit eccentric at times. Thomas made pudding the other night: æbleskiver: literally apple slices. Apple slices turn out to be ball-shaped sweet pancake dough with no apple in. Lovely... but an odd name if you ask me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by PhylB
The other week Charlotte drew me and her siblings freehand. I thought it was interesting from a perspective point of view. She knows Marcel is nearly my height - I'm 160cm, he's 148cm. She has always seen herself as the same in age and capability as Marcel so she drew herself the same size, more or less, despite the 29 month age gap and 24cm height difference. She plays a lot with Léon at the moment because he can walk and talk so she's also drawn him more or less the same size, despite the 5 years and 8 months age gap, and the 24cm difference in height. Anna, on the other hand has been drawn tiny as Lots hasn't realized how big she is as she crawls to get around and doesn't speak yet.
Knowing Lots is a real nerd, Thomas wrote down our respective heights (180, 160, 148, 124, 100, 75cm) and asked Charlotte to do a scale drawing. She was very surprised by the outcome.


I live in a madhouse. Marcel and Thomas are sitting on the couch together clapping, whooping with excitement at the biggest piece of Japanese nonsense I have ever seen on TV. I have seen people from 13 to 59 (so far) running across a bridge made of sponge dominoes and falling on their heads. This was followed by people who seem to have volunteered to complete an assault course on pogo sticks, though it has not occurred to them that practising, or indeed even trying a pogo stick before going on air would have been a reasonable course of action. I knew I was right last week when I said John Logie Baird should have spent his spare time inventing something quite different... (It's on Challenge TV - Sky channel 125 - for those of you who haven't got a life)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sorry, I have no photo to upload with this plumbing update.
Come through and sit at the sink, he said, while I turn back on the water. Be prepared to shout very loudly if there are any leaks.
So I sat at the new sink and the water was duly turned back on, no leaks - how clever...

I'll just try the new tap
, he said.
Does the water filter need to be attached before you use the tap? I asked
No, I doubt it, he said, turning it on.
The freezing water in the tube where the filter is still to be inserted of course shot straight out in between my legs soaking my not very dignified Little Miss Naughty pyjama bottoms in the process. It is a good job I only use the pyjama bottoms for sitting around the house and not for sleeping in because there is no way I could wear these tonight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by PhylB
Thomas was showing me today how easy plumbing is. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a reasonably capable DIYer between my murals, my plastering and my tiling skills but plumbing is something I have never tried. Given my old Gramps was a plumber, I just used to invite him for a cup of tea if I had any plumbing requirements in my first flat. After he died I always used professional plumbers till I met Thomas. He explained to me that plumbing really is just lego for adults (that you eventually make water go through). I don't know why I was surprised it was easy, given my old Gramps wasn't the most sober of people and still managed his job fairly successfully!
So today we've been moving pipes from the old kitchen, soon to be TV room, into the new kitchen soon to be functioning kitchen. How exciting! Thomas has assembled a very fancy tap with built-in water filter, and moved the complete drainage system into the new room. I've been going around at his back with expandable foam filling in the old holes to the outside to stop the local mice from moving into our nice dry old kitchen. Expandable foam is fun!
Apart from it not being too difficult, I am quite alarmed at the time it is taking. At nearly 11pm on Sunday we now have all the drainage working in kitchen number two but no water coming into kitchen two. We also have water in kitchen one but no drain so we can't use the sink, the dishwasher or the washing machine. I have to conclude that we are likely to be starting the week with two kitchens but no water... how do I keep six people clean, and six sets of dishes per meal clean with no working water?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Thomas and I were sitting on the couch watching the news when Anna crawled over. She pulled herself up to standing, then let go with one hand and bent down to her left to pick something up from the floor. She didn't fall. With her confidence boosted, she decided that tonight was going to be a night to learn to walk. She then proceeded to walk and then sprint from one end of the living room to the other over and over holding Thomas's hands and laughing wildly. Oh no!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


When I was pregnant with Anna, Thomas bought this book. We had a great laugh wading through it in bed every night. It contained obvious no-nos like Adolf and Fanny but one I don't remember whether or not it contained was Brett. Brett isn't a name that would have crossed my mind as an obvious taboo but today I had a visit from a teacher friend (who shall remain anonymous). She has a child called Brett in her class. Apparently on no less than 5 occasions she has accidentally called him Brat when shouting at him to behave in front of his classmates! Oops... Freud would be proud of her!


Dad took this photo of Charlotte yesterday. Immediately I remembered I had taken exactly the same photo 4 years ago in the same park. I took a look at them side by side to see what changes half her lifetime has brought. The hair is more or less the same colour, though longer. I think the most striking difference is her face. Gone is the puppy fat, the cuddly chubby four year old face has become longer, thinner, and more grown up. My little girl is becoming a young lady.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Ice cream
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Léon had a follow-up appointment at Yorkhill today. He has been using an anti-inflammatory cream called crystacide now for about 6 weeks. I can still feel the little fatty lumps under his skin but it does seem slightly improved, if only in so much as he has stopped scratching it, which means he has stopped bursting the skin, and therefore stopped causing it to scab. The consultant says she feels the improvement is significant enough that she wants to continue the crystacide for 6 more months in the hope that it might clear completely, going on the assumption that it is an inflamed patch of infantile acne. She has however warned me that if the inflamed area has calcified, we may be looking at a permanent lump even if it is not visible on the skin's surface.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Yesterday in the Botanics there was a display of approximately 50 types of apple. Given we are trying to grow apples at home we decided to have a look at the different varieties. Each plate had a card telling people the name of the type of apple. Léon was a good 20 steps ahead of us. Imagine our horror when we reached the head of the table and realized he'd collected in all the name cards for the right hand side of the table and stacked them up at the end. Arg! Thomas quietly put one card in front of each plate and we made a very hasty exit. I'm sure half of Glasgow is now down at
Dobbies ordering the wrong tree, oops!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by Stimpdawg
I was in the West End today with Léon. As we passed Òran Mór, a wedding party was being piped out. What's that? Léon asked. It's bagpipes, I informed him. He thought quite seriously about it, looked up at me and said Bagpipes is too annoying a noise for me! God, Pudge, you hit the nail on the head there...

Friday, October 10, 2008


one less tv
Originally uploaded by Kevin Steele
You all know we've been building a new kitchen in our back room for about 5 years - OK so maybe it is just one and I'm having a sleep-deprived day.
I am not sure I have ever mentioned the fate of our old kitchen. Being a room with a fairly small window, unlike our living room which has two conservatory-sized windows, we decided it would be a much better room for the TV. At the moment we can barely see the screen because of the large south-facing windows (well on that annual sunny day anyway).
But I am not 100% sure that is the best idea.
Well, we've bought beautiful sea blue wall paper that I really like. We've also bought solid wood flooring which is just beautiful, especially in comparison with the hideous carpet and boring cream walls in our current living room.
So where's the problem? The TV, of course. I hate TV with a passion. To me TV is a way of whiling away your entire life watching noisy, meaningless wallpaper instead of living it. André was a big TV fan. It had to be on all the time. I often thought that if the house caught fire, he'd have carried the TV out before me! Ironically, in the divorce settlement, I got one of his 42 inch TVs! I can just about put up with TV if you check listings and turn it on if something of interest to you is on. But these days many people have so many channels, they turn it on and zap between channels till they find the least bad option to leave on as their constant wallpaper. Marcel is very like his father in that respect. Without me to nag constantly and clamp down, Marcel would live on meaningless gutter TV - endless reality TV: X factor, Big Brother, US cartoon sitcom reruns and rereruns, game shows (even the worst ones based only on luck, not even general knowledge - like that nonsense with Noel Edmonds and red boxes), soaps like The Bill etc etc. On a good day I let him watch a few shows without nagging, on a bad day I rant about his future wife leaving him because he prefers TV to her! I'm off on a tangent...
What I started to say was. I don't watch TV. I would average my TV viewing at about 30 minutes a week max, so why make the TV room the cosiest in the house, so my big son disappears happily into his new room while all of us who are indifferent to TV (Thomas, Charlotte and I) sit in the room with the horrible carpet and drab decor?
It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Sliced Chili Pepper
Originally uploaded by Taekwonweirdo
What is wrong with me? I make curries and other spicy dishes on a weekly basis. Every time I chop fresh chilis, every time I forget to put on plastic gloves, and every time I sit with the skin on the surface of my hands burning for 3 hours after cooking. The pain reaches its peak during my evening bath where submerging my hands feels akin to having ironed them just prior to stepping into the tub. I've got the hang of not scratching my eyes or nose with chopped chili hands (slowly) over the years, when exactly am I going to get to grips with protecting my hands?


So last night Marcel and Charlotte were fighting over who was getting to take Léon into the bath. Given there was no clear winner, I suggested Charlotte took Léon in, soaped his hair, then got out and Marcel got in and rinsed his hair.
The compromise made them all happy.

So Lots was getting her hair dried in the hall when Marcel got out of the bath.
Marcel is 11, on the brink of puberty and a bit shy these days, generally creeping about in a dressing gown unlike Charlotte who parades around naked.
Charlotte caught sight of Marcel getting out the bath and shouted - Check out your willy - it's definitely grown! Thomas come and see Marcel's willy. Thomas, remembering puberty, advised Lots to leave Marcel in peace.
At that moment, Marcel stormed out the bathroom, past Charlotte and spat - You are nothing but a paedophile, Charlotte! Etymologically, I guess he had a point, but I don't think I've ever heard it used of children!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Botanic gardens
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Isn't autumn just the prettiest season? I can't wait to drag my kids round all Glasgow's parks armed with my Sony 350.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


You may remember several rants about cracked nipples and nipple shields. Although I hated them, they did prove useful in gaining me some healing time every time this little girl managed to bite a hole in me (none of the others ever did). You need the protectors because you can't just stop using the injured side until it heals as the milk still fills it fuller and fuller.
Well, she's gone and done it again so I went and dragged out the protector BUT there's a problem now. Last time I used it was before she was on solids, before she'd ever used a baby drinking cup, but now she knows all those things. Now when I put it on, as soon as she senses the plastic, she moves her tongue from the sticking out protecting my breasts from her teeth position, to the back of her mouth and sucks like it is a cup. Of course that doesn't make the milk flow, so she gives up frustrated. My only remaining option is to feed her as usual despite the open wound, or slowly let it fill with milk till it explodes - aaaaaaaaaargh!

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I don't usually
throw flowers at myself as the French would say, but isn't this a brilliant photo? Using a very fast shutter speed, I actually captured this bubble mid-pop - see the upper curve is missing, and soapy water can be seen in droplets hovering above the top. In addition I caught Léon's smile turning to tears as it happened! Cool, no?

Friday, October 03, 2008


Léon was 3 on Monday which means he now qualifies for a free nursery place. Some councils still make kids
wait till the first day of the next school term which would have been January but here under East Renfrewshire's rules, he can start this week. That sounds good in theory but given all 3 year old places are 12-45pm - 3-45pm, they don't make life any easier for the working parent, especially if you already have a school pick up at 3pm and 4pm.
Anyway it is free and I am on maternity leave so we'll go with it.
This week he's painted, played with water, done some singing and played outside so he seems happy, though I think his new routine is a tiny bit tiring, so far. At snack time, which I sat in on yesterday, I was sure he was going to fall asleep into a plate of melon... but I guess he is just a little guy.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Now here's something weird we discovered last week when our old Dyson broke down... I went onto the officialDyson site just to check their new ball hoover - it was way overpriced so I reluctantly started comparing non-Dysons to replace my beloved dead Dyson. By chance Thomas happened upon an ebay site selling Dysons - mainly demo models but totally refurbished, serviced and MOTed complete with 2 year guarantees at 60-65% of the official Dyson site prices - stranger still - on further investigation it turned out to be Dyson themselves running the ebay site. My new ebay Dyson is now here looking shiny and new and is so compact even Léon can use it!


castle toward
Originally uploaded by Ianan
Marcel is now in primary 7, his last year of primary school. Primary 7 is traditionally marked by a week long school trip adventure usually in the winter to somewhere cold and draughty, marked by awful food and terrible outdoor activities in adverse conditions. A rite of passage between childhood and adolescence. Marcel is already itching to go despite it not being until next March and is talking about nothing but Castle Toward (this appears to be the Castle Toward in question, though the price would suggest it is situated somewhere near Sydney or Beijing, rather than near Dunoon!) The idea of a week as the only one of 90 pupils who is forced to stay behind and sit in on classes with kids a year younger is so abhorrent that I will be able to blackmail him for the next 6 months...
Tonight he was talking about it over dinner. Charlotte was joining in, already quite excited at the prospect of her own trip in 3 years time. It suddenly occurred to me as Lots mentioned all the activities she was looking forward to with her best friends Fergus, Mitchell, Luke and Lewis, that there would be a problem when it comes to Lots that doesn't occur with Marcel. As a tom boy with no female friends (as yet), Charlotte was horrified when I dropped the bombshell... You know the dorms are single sex, don't you honey? Why? asked Charlotte. Well you'll be 12 by then. So???? she cried indignantly. Well - you'll have boobs by then... So???? she shouted even more angrily, seeing no possible problem with a 12 year old busty blonde shacking up with four 12 year old boys...


We got back from Center parcs on Monday evening. The house was a state. We'd had a new garage built on Thursday so we had things from the garage everywhere. I had been away 4 days (x6 people) so had 4 washing machine loads of clothes and towels in a case on the floor. It had been Léon's birthday so he'd come in and ripped the paper off all his presents and cards and dropped it at his feet. A new hoover had also been delivered Thursday as we were packing to leave. You could barely see enough of the carpet to step from one side to the other.
Anna was sick Tuesday so I got the washing done but nothing much else - there was therefore around 4 washing machines of newly tumble dried clothes in a pile also in the living room when the kids came in. As I unpacked shopping from ASDA in the kitchen the kids came in from school, stepped carefully through the mess and sat on the couch. They turned on Family Guy, an episode I knew they'd already seen. I flew through to the living room and asked through gritted teeth why they were watching TV. Marcel replied I can't think of anything else to do! It was the final straw. I went ballistic. Look at the state of this place, I exclaimed. You are 11, she is nearly 9 - Do you think I was put on this earth to pick everything up at your arses? You CAN'T find anything more helpful, or useful to do than watch TV????? You guys are in for the shock of your lives when you leave home and there's no tidy fairy running about at your behinds! Charlotte at this point replied Marcel could get his wife to do it - (Yes, I remember very clearly once again why I left her father... (Mental note - I must counterbalance ideas they receive when on visits to his house)). Lots started to pick the odd thing off the floor, Marcel exited to his room quietly. Lots picked up a minimal amount of stuff then started helping Pudge open more presents, thus recreating more mess but I'd calmed down after her pretence at help. Marcel was still missing. I presumed he was in his room on the computer to avoid me and my ranting, having tidied it superficially so when I next started stamping he could say he'd been helpful. Marcel came back at that point and handed me my mobile phone with a proud smile. There you go, he said. Yes??? Well you told me to do something useful so I took all your favourite CDs that you listen to while you are cooking and put them on your phone for you - look - I fitted in all of Amy Winehouse, here's some Michael Bublé too and even some Duffy! Hmmmm - I think as an adult I could have found many more useful things to do on Monday afternoon but you can't fault him for trying to be helpful. I wonder why I would ever need my CDs on my phone...? I guess it's a teenager thing. I suppose next time I need the living room tidied or the dishes done, he'll stick all my French CDs on there or even the old Abba ones! Can't wait. Soon I'll have my own mobile Disco.


Trying to warm up
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I always thought the point of a fire was to warm you up... I mean - yes they are pretty, they can be romantic too but the primary point of a fire, be it gas, electric or real is as a heating device. So what exactly is the point of a Duraflame firelog? They sell these at Center parcs for use in your open fire. They forbid you to cut down their forest and burn it in your cottage (fair enough!) but they don't heat! They look very pretty but mum is showing in this picture how close you have to get, not to get burned but, actually to feel the warmth off it at all. Crazy!On the website, they claim to be the greener fire but I fail to see how burning something that gives no heat can be greener than the equally effective burning nothing!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


We were walking through
Whinfell forest in Cumbria on Saturday when a cute little bunny jumped out from behind a bush (Thomas assures me it was cute - I am fairly indifferent to bunnies in general, except perhaps in stew, he seems to think they make better pets than stews...) Anyway Thomas pointed at it and said to Léon: Kan du klappe kaninen? Without a second thought I immediately understood Léon was to pat the rabbit. My old Gramps would probably have said something like:Gie the wee rabbit a clap, hen when I was three... but kids don't hear as much Scots these days, not in boring old Newton Mearns anyway. So Léon looked extremely dubiously at Thomas, then me, as if asking my opinion. I smiled, so he took that to mean it was ok... slowly he brought his little hands together and applauded a very surprised little rabbit, looking equally puzzled about the things us adults suggest sometimes!


Anna has gone wild about Ella's baby food. Normally she eats the same as us but I tend to keep the odd soft thing in case we're having something too salty or spicy, or as a handy sachet if we are out and about.
The first time I saw these food sachets in Tesco, I was drawn to them because the flavours sounded so awful: broccoli, pear and peas (together - surely that is cruel?) - yeuch! Thomas, being more evil than me, decided to see if she'd like it - and she does. In particular she likes to suck the food from the sachet itself. Maybe it is less painful on her teething gums than a spoon... or maybe she just feels less like she's being spoonfed like a baby!