Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE MATHS OF THE BIG BUMP

And another thing while I'm ranting... I don't get the Maths...
The hospital told me on 2 December that the baby was 3.1kg. The hospital told me on 30 December the baby was 3.7kg. So she grew 600g in 28 days, or an average of 21.4g a day. I have ten days of my pregnancy remaining, supposedly, so I would estimate Baked's birthweight on 9 January to be 3.9kg, not 4.5kg. Can it really be that they expect her to grow at 80g a day from now on, ie four times more than she has grown in the last month????
What a load of nonsense!

THIS WEEK'S PREGNANCY UPDATE

On Sunday I went to Ikea for some shopping. I was finding walking harder and harder, feeling like a nerve at the top of my left leg was trapped under the weight of Baked. I concluded Baked had descended.
On Monday Thomas was massaging my belly and asked, somewhat surprised where Baked was hiding as she wasn't in her usual position under my left boob. We again assumed she was hiding somewhere in my pelvis.
On Tuesday my doctor confirmed Baked had indeed gone for a walk down below, so things were becoming slightly more imminent - at last phew!
Today I was booked into the hospital for another sizing scan. At my last hospital appointment nearly four weeks ago I had been assured that today would see us offered a plan of action if Baked was still an out-sized tot, so I was relieved to be facing the decision to be induced...
The scan of course confirmed that was indeed the case. Although the rate of growth had slowed marginally, they are still estimating a due-date weight of around 4.5kg (just short of 10lbs). They also showed me quite how low down she was and that she is no longer OP - way-hay!
I was sent round to talk to my consultant. A midwife took me into her room and explained she'd see me first. She looked at my notes and asked if I wanted to book my caesarean. I asked what the current size of my baby was and she told me she was approximately 3.7kg. Marcel and Léon were both 3.7kg (around 8lbs). Marcel was my first baby and I managed to have him at that weight. Léon was 3.7kg and OP, took 21 hours and I had him without any drugs and was back to normal three weeks later, so why on earth would I sign up for an elective section, knowing I could in theory go into labour tonight? I refused the caesarean. She looked surprised and examined me. She asked a second time if I wanted to book a section. I really am beginning to wonder what the issue is in that hospital with understanding the phrase 'No thank you, I'll pass on the caesarean'. One last time she suggested it, saying I could always book it and cancel it if I go into labour naturally, once again I declined. She stepped out and returned saying my consultant wasn't going to see me after all - I guess he was only interested in scheduling my section around his New Year holiday so if I was declining it I was not worth seeing. At least that spared me the effort of declining it a fourth time in half and hour!
As I prepared to leave, the midwife attempted scare tactics... If you go past your due date the hospital is closing down so I'll give you the number of the new place as you'll need to go there. We do let people go two weeks past their date you know...
Thomas asked about membrane sweeps and induction but was told they wouldn't do that yet... so they are willing to do a caesarean but not to induce me - curious - either she is ok to come out now or she isn't, and surely avoiding a potential emergency section two weeks after my due date must be in everyone's interest if she's already 3.7kg?
Anyway, I went home feeling rather deflated at the thought of potentially being allowed to remain pregnant and immobile until January 23rd, by which time I'll no doubt be forced into a section as she'll be pushing 6kg by then at this growth rate.
As a parting shot she did suggest red wine and vigorous sex... the main problem with that of course is that if I have the red wine, I'm likely to be in a coma long before the oldest kid goes to bed during the Xmas holidays so I'm not too sure how to fit the vigorous sex into the timetable. Ho hum...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

IKEA IS BEING A WEE BIT CHEEKY

You know me, I'm not one to moan about Ikea as it is my favourite shop but today they annoyed me by being just a little too cheeky...
Due to the imminent arrival of
Miss Baked, we needed to move all the bedrooms around and create space.
Currently Marcel has the biggest bedroom containing a triple bed - one of those double beds with a single bunk on top - and Léon and Anna are sharing the smallest bedroom with a small bed each. Given the choice of swapping rooms with them, or choosing a mini person to share with, Marcel opted for a straight swap but his colossal bed will not fit into the smaller room. Marcel isn't particularly fond of his huge bed anyway so off we went to Ikea to buy a normal single bed frame. This one was advertised at just £30, which suited our budget... but when we found it in-store it seemed to be £45... odd.
I checked the online page on my phone:


HEIMDAL
Bed frame
£30
Assembled size
Length: 206 cm
Width: 96 cm
Footboard height: 47 cm
Headboard height: 120 cm
Mattress length: 200 cm
Mattress width: 90 cm
This product requires assembly This product requires assembly
Good to know
Slatted bed base, mattress and bedlinen are sold separately.

Now I don't dispute that a mattress and bedlinen may be something you actually have at home but I find it odd that a bed frame comes without a slatted bed base, as these need to fit the bed exactly. Mattresses can hardly be expected to levitate after all... so the slats turned out to be the extra £15. I am not happy :-(

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

XMAS CARD 2009


xmas
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Yeah, I know it's a cop out, but it's snowy and I'm 9 months pregnant and disorganized and all that - it's better than nothing, surely!?
Merry Xmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

PUDGE'S SELF IMAGE





I think it is time I gave Marcel another talking to... Marcel has pointed out on occasion that Léon has special ears, hinting at aeronautical abilities akin to those of Dumbo the elephant - evil boy! I prefer to tell him he's special - after all he just isn't our Pudgeman without the ears.
When asked the other day at nursery to draw a self portrait however, he came home with this!


Marcel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CRAZY MAN


Crazy man
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I guess you can love someone without loving everything about that person!
Thomas has just one character trait I will never get used to. It makes me cringe, faint in horror and want to scream and cry. I can't even bear to watch him do this between about September and March in Scotland every year. It sends shivers up my spine! I wonder if he's certifiable?

Friday, December 18, 2009

ADVENT CALENDARS, DANISH-STYLE

We never did advent calendars when I was a kid - my family wasn't religious and the advertising world hadn't quite mass-marketed the cheap chocolate ones on even the most heathen amongst us back in the 70s.
When my big kids were little, everyone had chocolate ones at a pound from ASDA, so they got that.
When I moved in with Thomas, he explained that the Danish way is to make your own. So in a more personal way, he bought the three (at that time) kids a present each per day for the 24 days of December, wrapped them in napkins, numbered them and put them in a cardboard box each. Last year they got a sweetie or chocolate two days out of three and a small gift of a pen or rubber or the likes every third day roughly. The kids really enjoyed this because it wasn't predictable like the chocolate ones. I enjoyed the effort and personal touch he was putting into their Xmas. Everyone was happy.
This year we needed to cut down on costs so the small pen-like gifts made up about one present a week, with the rest being single sweets, a chocolate biscuit or the likes.
This is the first year Anna has had a calendar and obviously she knows exactly what she wants and makes no bones about it. In the first week she received a matchbox car as the present on day two or three, that seemed acceptable enough. Then she had a run of approximately ten days with only food items. Yesterday she received a pack of felt tip pens. Obviously ten days was enough to have forgotten she ever had received a non-food present, and long enough for the food items to have become her routine. On opening her napkin and watching her pens drop out, she marched over to Thomas in disgust (despite her great love of drawing) and shouted Where's my cake?!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HOW WILL I GET HOME NOW?

What with Woolies, Borders, Zavvi, Land of Leather, MFI, Allied Carpets, Barratt Shoes, Adams and all the rest we should be used to UK companies going bust but the news that Flyglobespan went belly-up today really has upset me. Although I have not used it in the last 3 years, Flyglobespan was my favourite 'route home', my direct flight to Nice and the whole Côte d'azur and the first place I intended to take Thomas and the kids once our own finances stabilized enough :-( I am not a happy bunny.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

INTERESTING CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

We all have our preconceived notions of other cultures and on the whole I imagine many Brits think Scandinavians are probably less uptight, sexually speaking, than our fellow countrymen. It is a shame very few Brits read Danish, because this article would make even the most liberal fall off their seats in surprise!
Can you imagine a biology teacher in this country asking the 15 year old boys in his class to spend their morning break in the loos providing sperm samples for them and their classmates to examine under the microscope in class? I think not! :-D

WHAT RECOVERY?

So Brown still claims we're on our way out of recession? Can me sceptical but I did work in shops over Xmas as a student. This is not the length of queue I would expect ten days before Xmas in Glasgow's largest shopping centre for Santa's grotto. Granted, it was taken on a weekday, though given it is aimed mainly at under-school-age kids, that shouldn't matter. But in saying that I was in Silverburn last Saturday at 3pm and the queue was a mere three people longer.
Certainly, when Marcel and Lots were tiny, Santa queues could take more than an hour to move into the grotto. This one patently wouldn't! I suppose the politicians think we aren't noticing these small details.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MONEY LAUNDERING


Money laundering
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I've been nagging Marcel for weeks (years?) about his inability to remember to put his laundry in the washing basket or the washing machine. Tonight once again I tried crossing his room only to be ensnared in three very large dirty bath towels, last Friday's uniform and five odd socks. I brought them down, as he was visiting his father, and stuck them in the basket in the downstairs bathroom.
Meanwhile, I went to empty the tumble dryer, and came across a £10 note. I knew it wasn't mine because I have no trousers with pockets that currently fit me. Thomas had no recollection either of losing a tenner. I knew where my bet would be, so I put it in my purse and waited...
Marcel returned at 8pm. About ten minutes after he went to bed, he came running downstairs in a panic. Where is the washing I left on my floor? he asked. I pointed at the laundry basket, though had a vague notion, I could already guess what he was searching for. I left him to hunt. Ten minutes later, he asked if I had found a tenner lying anywhere in the house, or my car over the weekend. Funny you should ask... I said, because I happened to find one today in the tumble dryer after I washed and dried the clothes. It must have been in someone's pocket. He visibly paled Did the ink run? Did it shrink???? As I fished in my bag for my purse, I tortured him with stories of possibly shrunken, visibly wrinkly notes. I'm evil I know but you have to get them to empty their own pockets when there are so many people in a family, or you could spend you life emptying pockets (just ask Thomas about his hankies!) and I figured the shock treatment might do the trick.
Of course Marcel's tenner hadn't shrunk. It simply looked rather comically wrinkled. Marcel decided to iron it just to be sure it would look authentic when he tried to spend it.
I guess this is money laundering at its most basic. Hopefully, the lesson will have been learnt now... and if not - at least I had a laugh!

Friday, December 11, 2009

"SORRY, YOU WERE OUT!"

No, I BLOODY wasn't!!!!!!
I was sitting in the coffee room yesterday morning working. I saw the postie come up the path, post the letters and leave. I never get letters. I get junk mail and the odd bill. Was I going to put down my laptop and table and go check the mail... not really.
Thomas came down from the office an hour later and handed me the card saying 'Sorry , you were out!' They wanted me to wait 24 hours for them to take my parcels back to the post office behind ASDA - odd that because even at 8 months pregnant I can walk from my house to the post office in 20 minutes. They must be going via Manchester...
Personally, I would mind less if their card said 'Sorry we're too understaffed or lazy or whatever to bring parcels on our delivery rounds so pick them up yourself' but blaming me when my house has lights on, someone sitting in the front room and steam belching out the side of the porch indicating my central heating is on just pisses me off!
Of course to cap it all this morning we had freezing fog. Thomas went out to grit the stairs. And what do you know. A second Royal Mail parcel saga... Today's parcel had been left on the front steps without a card or knock on the door. So it looks like they randomly either chuck your mail willy nilly on your front doorstep for anyone to pilfer or they don't bother to bring it in the first place!
Remind me why they were out on strike recently? Seems to me they can do as they bloody like and get away with it.
I am now awaiting two last parcels from ebay... it'll be fun to see which method they arrive by... of course they are potentially lying somewhere in my garden, maybe in the plastic toy box or Pudge's Wendy house outside but I've had no card to tell me.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

PERFUME


Stacked perfume
Originally uploaded by Spigoo
Maybe I'm just thick... (don't answer that), and I'm not a perfume person anyway but I have never understood why every Xmas our TV screens are taken over by perfume ads. I first noticed it in France, but you see it here too to a lesser extent. Why do these companies spend so much on TV advertising? I understand they need you to know their product exists but who chooses a perfume based on anything but its smell? Last time I tried to sniff my telly screen I found it very hard to decide between the Chanel and the Yves Saint Laurent...

NOT A TRAIN DRIVER EITHER...


A sausage face
Originally uploaded by PhylB
And a day after Léon announced he wanted to be a DVD illustrator, Anna is also showing signs of being an artist!
Over lunch we noticed she seemed to be taking various different food items but not eating them. She arranged them on her plate then announced: the ham is a face, these two sausages are the eyes, this sausage is the nose, this bread is the mouth and this bread is the hair!
Not bad for someone who can't draw a face yet!

Monday, December 07, 2009

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TRAIN DRIVERS AND FOOTBALLERS?


Two boys in hats
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Driving Léon home from nursery one day last week, he suddenly announced he'd decided what he was going to be when he grew up! That's quite surprising given neither of his older siblings seem to have the slightest idea yet, but given he's only four, I assumed he'd come out with train driver or footballer or some such thing.
"Ok Pudge, what are you going to be?" I asked as I braked at the traffic lights.
"I'm going to be an illustrator" he said quite seriously "a DVD cover illustrator" he elaborated!
I nearly crashed the car in shock! Had he swallowed one of my dictionaries? Surely he didn't really know what that was. I asked...
"It's the person who draws the lady and man with the gun on the DVD cover and then colours them in," he said describing the cover of Mr and Mrs Smith!
So there you have it...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

CARNIVORE KID


Anna drinking coffee
Originally uploaded by PhylB
We all know Anna is a bit obsessed with meat. She wants to call the baby 'Spis-chla' (she eats meat) after all.
Today took the biscuit. Thomas made us each a latte with breakfast. He asked if we wanted a special flavoured one, having opted for xmasy gingerbread for us. Marcel wanted caramel, Charlotte and Pudge opted for chocolate and when asked what flavour she wanted in her coffee, Anna replied chicken... of course!!
Yeuch!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

BAKED

I'm beginning to think we must have been in an ironic mood when we adopted the nickname Baked... given how small baked beans are.
After October's discovery that Baked was possibly larger than we'd been expecting, I was dragged back in today for another growth scan to check how things had progressed over the last six weeks. I saw a sonographer, a midwife and a consultant, each for ten minutes so of course my appointment took 3 hours. Thank goodness Anna had gone to Granny's or she'd have been hysterical with boredom.
First we went for a scan. I am officially 34 weeks and four days pregnant at the moment (though by my reckoning, I am actually 34 weeks and three days). Baked was asleep, as she often is in the morning and lying in completely the wrong position for scanning. The sonographer checked her limbs and heartbeat and moaned a bit about her position and seemed to be about to give up when Baked turned to the screen yawned very clearly and moved over just enough for the diameter of her head to be measured. Figures popped up at the bottom of the screen saying the estimated gestation was 37 weeks and two days - ho hum... Then she moved again and the sonographer said she'd take a quick stomach diameter too. I waited with bated breath. The screen calculated 39 weeks and 2 days, and the foetal weight popped up at 3.15kg. Oh great! Lots was only 3.28kg at birth and even Marcel (the biggest) had only been 3.75kg.
I was sent round to the consultant with a new graph plotting Baked's expected birth weight to be 4.5kg (that's just shy of 10lbs for any imperial weirdos out there).
The consultant decided to check in the old fashioned manner... feeling my belly with his hands and confirmed he agreed with the technological findings of an hour earlier. His plan is therefore to have me back in on 30 December to check her size then (if he can fit her whole head on the screen to measure its size) and come up with a strategy. He also suggested an internal examination that day to determine whether or not to induce me. I just love internals. What a fun way to finish the year! If my cervix has started preparing for birth I will be induced then so she isn't allowed to grow beyond week 38. I thought I was doing well being on number five never having needed to be induced. I can tell New Year's day is going to be fun.
Of course, he then went on to explain that he doesn't know if my pelvis will cope with a baby more than 20% bigger than my norm, so will be left perhaps with a decision to opt for an emergency section if she gets stuck at the end of labour. Oh this pregnancy is just getting better and better... I thought I was doing well to get to number five never having needed a section. I haven't even had drugs since Marcel - I am planning a painful but bearable natural birth and am being thrown into inductions, sections and god knows what. I am not amused. Finally, he explained I will be granted an elective section if I want one. Aren't you listening to me???? I don't want any kind of section, I don't even want a bloody paracetamol. I want a normal, drug-free delivery. Time to sue the Dane and his big genes???
Oh and to top it all. Bloody Baked is currently (and has been for several weeks) OP into the bargain. I have already had two nightmarishly long, drug-free OPs and I could really do without that added hiccough. Grrrrr.
Anyway, I'm away to ADSA tomorrow to buy ingredients for a curry, raspberry tea and all the rest to start my own induction programme this weekend.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

WHAT IS XBOX THINKING ABOUT?


Team Chaos Live
Originally uploaded by salendron
The kids have an Xbox 360. I assume this is the case for many kids. You create yourself an avatar - a virtual you - that you use to represent you when you are playing in the house or online against school friends.
Marcel created the first avatar of course because he's 12. That meant that the other kids also wanted an avatar. First Lots tried to make one. You chose between pre-defined bodies, hair, clothes, colouring etc. Charlotte's problem with her (not -out-of-the-ordinary-for-a-nine-year-old) waist length hair is that the avatars can't have hair longer than shoulder length, despite there being four or five pages of hairdos to choose from. So Charlotte's avatar doesn't look like her.
Of course, no sooner had Lots made one than Pudge and Bits wanted one each too. Pudge wasn't an issue - you can do wee boys, but Anna encountered a new problem. All the female avatars have boobs! I know Anna is a bit young for Xbox, but kids happily play on them from five upwards. How many five year old girls have short hair and boobs?
Given my kids also have a wii, where making a child avatar is simple, I wonder what Xbox is thinking about?

Friday, November 27, 2009

CAVITY WALL INSTALLATION - EAGA-STYLE

Back in June or July a bloke from Eaga Scotland came to the door offering free surveys for cavity wall insulation. He left a leaflet. Remembering how warm my parents house had become since their installation, I rang on the off-chance they had some special recession deals and found out that was indeed the case. I arranged for a free house survey.
In August a guy came round, surveyed the house, filled in all the paper work and had us sign up. As he got into his car to leave, I asked when the job would be carried out. He replied that it usually took about three weeks but because our house had two separate extensions on it, one on the gable end and one on the back and both were timber kit extensions which couldn't be filled, he would need to get a supervisor's approval before the job was signed off. He took two photos, disappeared and the saga began.
After the three weeks had passed, I rang up. I went through the press 3 for the installation department nonsense, hung on for 15 minutes and was promptly hung up on. This didn't augur well. I rang back later and was asked if I wanted to book a survey. No, I had one of those three weeks ago, I want you to tell me the supervisor's decision since I can't sign up with someone else until you say no as I have already applied for all your grants and signed up. They promised to ring a supervisor and get back to me. Of course they didn't. This was a Friday. I rang back at 5pm and they were already on their weekend. I hassled them again Monday morning and was told the surveyor from three weeks earlier hadn't submitted my paperwork. I asked for his mobile number and when I rang him, was told he had taken the day off because his child had been hospitalised (aye sure...) And no excuse was given for the three previous weeks. The saga dragged on another week.
The following Monday a little boy on the switchboard said my surveyor had arranged a meeting with a supervisor for Friday afternoon and he'd let me know the outcome. Of course when I rang at 4-45pm (I was learning) on Friday I was told the surveyor hadn't turned up and the meeting now set for Monday. We were already into October. I explained I was going to rip up my contract and get their main competitor out the following week if I hadn't heard a yes or no. (In truth I couldn't really be bothered restarting the 'whether my house with extensions was suitable' nonsense with another company this close to winter but I sounded convincing.)
In one last attempt I tried the surveyor's mobile again. He asked if I wanted to arrange a survey - Arg - Nooooo - you did that in August, it is now bloody November. Immediately I got some cock and bull story about him having taken the photos in a non-downloadable digital format and him never being in the office at the same time as a supervisor. It was the second Thursday in November. I gave him a 24 hr deadline to track one down. Of course when I rang on the Friday, he was unavailable and my many friends in the Eaga office could find no notes pertaining to the outcome of the meeting with the supervisor. They offered me a survey once more!!!!
So last week on Monday I phoned to cancel and got someone I didn't know. She told me my notes had been updated to say that because of my extensions I could only be cavity filled by the Inverness van which was in Inverness until today at 8am! Believing this was yet another excuse, I said 'whatever' and she agreed to pencil me in for today. Given my nearly 4 months of jumping through hoops, I rated the chances of my walls being filled today at about 5%. At 7-50am however the doorbell rang and there was a nice Eaga van sitting at the end of my path! Shock and surprise!
A team of men jumped on my roof, drilled my walls with such ferocity the wee ones were running round the house by 8-15am shouting ' Watch out, there are dragons outside!' and by 10-30am they were packing up to leave. Thomas popped outside and asked if it had been a really hard job given the extension issue and the head filler looked at him as if he was quite mad and left muttering 'What issue? This was as standard a job as any we take on!'
Give me strength! (And if you are planning cavity wall insulation yourself, I thoroughly recommend Miller Pattison - they did mum and dad's!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

TIME TO MODERNIZE?

Charlotte's French homework tonight was to draw a family tree. Obviously given our French background, this would have been possible for her despite the only vocabulary on offer being mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother and grandfather. But given at least 25% of the kids in her class would have needed to know how to say 'step mother, step father, half sibling, step sibling, step parent's mother or father etc etc , it is maybe time for a rethink of such exercises. By the time Marcel reached p7 at least half his class had divorced parents.
Charlotte, of course, went about things unconventionally. She first said she couldn't do it so would base it on a fictional family. She then decided to base it on me, but realized I had no sisters so she would prefer to use herself given she has both brothers and sisters. She drew herself, Anna and the boys. She then drew me and labelled me as her mother. I asked if she was going to add Thomas labelled Mum's husband, then add André and his Chinese wife. She said no, her page wasn't wide enough, so she added an unnamed father beside herself, explaining as she went along that if she drew the hair very short it wouldn't be overly obvious if it was Papa or Thomas, and then proceeded to add Thomas's parents above the 'father'!
Confused? You will be after this episode of Soap...

WHERE DOES THE IMAGINATION GO?


Pumpkin Pudge
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I've been observing Pudge a lot recently and comparing him to the other ages in my family's spectrum. I know this stage well as the older ones went through it too. I think it has to be called the imagination stage.
He can talk to himself for a long time, telling himself stories, or sometimes play-acting with plastic dinosaurs. None of what he says needs to be particularly sensible - I heard his dinosaurs having the following conversation yesterday: Wow we've reached dry land! I can tell it is dry land because I see the water from here! But he needs to hear the sound of his own voice constantly. I timed him the other day and he actually managed to carry on a conversation between himself and the dinosaurs for 85 minutes with no external input!
During dinner it is hard to get him to focus on eating because discussing his dinner with his knife and fork can be too riveting! It's a stage that at the same time is driving me mad with frustration and yet leaves me in awe of the imagination small children have, which I have seen all but disappear in his 12 year old brother and certainly diminish in his 9 year old sister. I wonder what reality does to all that imagination? What knocks it out of them so completely?
I guess we need to video this stage to show him when he too becomes a tweenager hooked up to msn chewing gum and looking disinterested in the not so distant future...

GERMAN XMAS MARKETS


munich 1-7-89
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I see the German Xmas market is back in Glasgow. It has been here for the past few years and I've tried to drop by at least once. It isn't quite up to the standard of Trier or Freiburg where I went a few times when I lived in France, but it has enough Glühwein, sausage and gingerbread to make it smell right and often has some nice, though slightly pricey arts and crafts. That makes me wonder... after the pound's 35% nosedive this year, the Germans are going to have to make a decision on whether to make no profit over here by reducing their prices, or make their prices so high that no one buys anything. Hmmm - I guess what will be more interesting to see is whether they are back next year or not!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SCOTTISH STATE SCHOOL OF THE YEAR

I was pleased to find this article about Marcel's school in the press the other day. Hope they keep up the good work! :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

HOW MANY DOUGHNUTS (DONUTS)?


Back in Stansted
Originally uploaded by PhylB
When Pudge and I were in Manhattan a few years ago we decided to go up the Empire State Building one morning because our jet lag had got us up so early there was no queue yet. Figuring we'd be hungry before we'd done our sightseeing, I decided to buy a couple of donuts to go in a bag. Luckily there was a donut shop just across the road so I went in and asked for two. The man behind the counter looked at me as if I had asked for two live chickens in a bag. He proceeded to explain that donuts were so much cheaper to buy by the half dozen. I pointed out I was alone with a baby and two would be fine. I probably ended up paying as much for two as I would have for six, but I didn't see any point in carrying four spares around all day.
Last night Lots and Thomas decided to make homemade doughnuts for breakfast for the first time. Thomas had a well-known American cookbook called 'Joy' and he and Charlotte disappeared into the kitchen for the best part of yesterday evening doing odd things with dough and yeast. It seemed like a lot of hassle. They made one batch of doughnuts as explained in the cookbook. This morning they were ready for frying. The one batch as recommended by the American cookbook contained approximately thirty donuts and mentioned they had to be eaten within two hours of frying. I assume most American families have two, maybe three kids at the most, so their breakfast batch suggests you should be eating six or even seven large donuts each for breakfast!
Suddenly I understand both why the bloke in Manhattan had mocked my order of two donuts and why Americans aren't generally the skinniest people around!
(Incidentally, I don't actually like doughnuts - they are greasy and heavy, and even one is too much, but these were light and fluffy and I probably polished off at least three in the required two hours, so maybe people should make their own.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A380


qantas a380
Originally uploaded by Joits
I know I'm a complete plane nerd, but what could have been cooler than a seat on the first Paris - NY flight on an A380???

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

HOME ECONOMICS THEN AND NOW

83 Coffee buns

Here's a photo of my little brother at the age of 12. Derek started high school as I entered my 5th year. He got double home economics twice a week. Eighty minutes of sewing that made me laugh, and eighty minutes of cooking that tested my ingenuity... He used to stand on the main stair case and wait to pounce. He was quite small at 12 so could hide behind other pupils. Just when I thought it was safe, a little voice used to squeak: Do you want to taste my onion soup? ... my coffee buns? ... my soufflé? etcetc You don't want to knock their confidence and you don't want to be nasty when your sibling is actually being nice to you for once, but those five words Do you want to taste... used to strike terror into me. As you can see, his coffee buns weren't the most appetizing. His onion soup was like hot dish water with a raw onion floating on top. I soon attempted to find a way to the top floor, avoiding the stair case! I tried being early or late to classes just so he couldn't find me. Although his initial culinary adventures were pitiful, he soon learned the talent of gourmet cooking and these days I actually look forward to a dinner invite! Although school didn't teach him to cook, it at least tried to make him rustle up some real food.
I was discussing cooking lessons with a friend the other day. Marcel hasn't started cooking at school yet but given he cooks an evening meal for six of us every 5th day or so (as does his nine year old sister), the calibre of the lessons didn't really worry me. My friend's son is also 12 and has already started cooking at school.
The first problem these days seems to be the lesson length. They have fifty minute periods and don't double them for cooking. Secondly, of course as always these days, is that the first fifteen minutes are then taken up with all the usual health and safety bullshit. With less than half an hour left once you consider the tidying at the end, they have no time to teach them anything that will be remotely useful for life.
My friend's son's first cooking lesson was called 'How to make an empire biscuit'. This is a bit basic (more what I'd expect Pudge to be doing at nursery) but if they had actually taught them how to do that, it wouldn't have been a complete waste. It turns out that they didn't have time to bake the biscuits and let them cool enough to jam and ice them. They had these 12 year olds simply take two digestives from a supermarket packet, jam them together and spread ready-made icing on top. If it wasn't so tragic, I'd laugh.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt my friend assumed they were trying to gently break in those who had never cooked before. The second week's lesson was entitled 'Homemade pizza'. She figured that at least might come in handy one day if her son goes away to university. But no, poor Gordon trudged home this time with a slice of cold toast with ketchup and grated cheese on top, wondering if he was going to have to live with his mum forever or die of starvation at 18. His mother is now teaching him to cook herself.
You do have to wonder in this age of ill health and obesity, if this really is the best our schools can manage. Personally, I'd rather Marcel did no cookery than this useless nonsense!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

PARANOIA - THE KILLJOYS ARE AT IT AGAIN

My local nursery, which Léon attends, runs what it calls helper mornings. Every Wednesday since Charlotte was there and possibly longer, each room (containing 50 kids) has allowed two relative helpers to come in and enjoy a morning with the kids. They sign up in advance, so there are never more than two adults and they come in an help the (approx) 7-8 members of staff in each room. Helping means reading the kids a story, or painting with them, playing with lego, singing, sitting around taking part while the kids discuss topics they are studying. Helping doesn't mean being alone with the kids, it doesn't mean taking them to the toilet or out alone for a walk in the woods. It doesn't mean strapping them all into a bus and taking on them for a drive to the local lake.
Many mums, some dads and quite a few grandparents volunteer and the two weekly slots are always full. The kids enjoy it, the adults enjoy it. Six months ago when Thomas's parents were over, Brita signed up to take part. As a minister, she had often worked with kids and was curious to see how nurseries function over here. The kids got to see someone exotic and strange. She got to see the workings of a Scottish State nursery - a win win situation.
But as usual, it was too good to be true. This week we received (completely out of the blue) a new directive from the council. This scheme is being closed down immediately and reopened only to relatives who hold full disclosure certificates - you know the usual police, criminal etc checks you need to be a teacher or childminder. I have no issue with teachers being subjected to criminal checks once to spend a lifetime alone with our kids but forcing Grannies to undergo criminal checking to spend 2 hours supervised with my child is the kind of overkill that will simply mean the Granny won't do it, and the child will miss out on that wider, richer life experience. When are we going to get things back into perspective in this crazy country?

Friday, November 13, 2009

HOW DO THEY KNOW?


At Rouken Glen Park
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I've been reading with curiosity in the media about the latest swine flu figures for Scotland. Apparently last week 21,500 people are estimated to have caught the virus in Scotland up from 17,500 the week before. Unless you are hospitalized or you die, to my knowledge no one is actually tested and if you go onto the NHS website you are told not to contact your GP unless you are in a high risk group so where are they getting these figures from?
When you check the NHS symptoms page you are told:
If you or a member of your family has a fever or high temperature (over 38°C/100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms, you may have swine flu:

* unusual tiredness,
* headache,
* runny nose,
* sore throat,
* shortness of breath or cough,
* loss of appetite,
* aching muscles,
* diarrhoea or vomiting.

So, given all four of my kids have been sick for the best part of a week, all with the necessary temperature, tiredness, cough and loss of appetite, the two biggies also with headaches, the three youngest with runny noses and the two middle ones with diarrhoea, am I to conclude they all may have it, or as I suspect, they all have a bad cold?
It seems to me no one can count real swine flu cases and these guidelines could cover all viral infections so no one is any the wiser.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT THIS!


Have you ever seen a weirder, less natural way of knitting than this???? I am married to a man who thinks this is how you knit! Hahahahaha!(He has significantly created very few garments in his 37 years though).
When I was a student I lived with a German girl who knitted every night. She did all sorts of weird things with her fingers and at times I wondered why she needed needles at all. Significantly, though we lived together on and off for 18 months, she never did complete a wearable knitted garment either. Here is what she did:

Of course every sane person knows that the only reasonable way to create baby clothes is the technique used here and in the States!

So now I'm away to knit a babysuit.

LUDICROUS!

Thomas and I decided to go for a walk in town yesterday afternoon (have I ever mentioned how nice it is to work for yourself, instead of all that 9-5 nonsense?!)
Of course any trip into town means a compulsory ten minutes in TK MAXX, Thomas's favourite (for some bizarre reason) shop. They had reduced age 4 Timberland jackets for kids. I'm not one for designer kiddie clothes - they grow too quickly and I'm paying no one for a label, however Léon's jacket is too short so I picked one up to check, given it's a discount store. It was nice and warm, better quality than his current jacket and reduced from £100 to a mere £35. £35, however is twice the price of Mothercare or ASDA so it didn't stand a chance. I was more than gobsmacked when I checked the lining though. Inside the left hand side of the jacket was a mobile phone pocket. I know this because it had a picture of a phone on it. I know it's 2009 but do 4 year olds ever have mobiles and if so what for? To let their parents know where they are if they are out alone? To ring for a lift to save them walking home from the station alone? To text their mates? Maybe so they can sit on mobile MSN to their girlfriend all night? I ask you...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GERMANY 1989, SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR!


Freiburg Bierfest
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Everyone seems to be asking 'Where were you when the wall came down?'
By sheer fluke, my uni course meant I was sent to live in Germany, or rather West Germany, from March till August of 1989. Daily I watched on the news as more and more people trickled across the DDR border into Czechoslovakia then over to the West, not realizing that what I was witnessing firsthand was about to be one of the most important historical events of my lifetime. It was exciting, but none of us knew at the time whether it was a temporary situation that would be stopped again by some Soviet tank or whether the DDR would simply end up empty! Even in the August it wasn't obvious that the wall had to come down. It seems unimaginable with hindsight that we didn't see it coming!
In August I moved back to France (Besançon) where I stayed till October. I must have returned to the UK around 5 October to matriculate for my last year at uni. I must say I was kicking myself when the wall came down that week - if I'd known how close I'd come to witnessing in the flesh the demise of the wall I'd heard so much about from my dad throughout my childhood (he often worked in Berlin), then I'd have jumped on a plane to Berlin rather than Glasgow!

Friday, November 06, 2009

BAKED


Léon
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Now here's an interesting study. Given that when Baked is born, she'll have heard a lot of English, Danish, French, German and even a little Italian while in the womb, then this suggests she'll be so confused as to how to cry, she may just have to lie about quietly smiling for fear of getting it wrong!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO PARENTING


At Rouken Glen Park
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I have noticed that parents, or at least the ones I know, seem to fall into two categories.
The first group seems to try to fill junior's every waking hour with fun activities and sports and their parent runs around like an exhausted taxi driver skipping meals to get them from A to B. In my experience, this type looks rather blank when you ask how junior ever fits in helping around the house.
The second type tries to give junior an insight into the life that will soon be upon him while still trying to make sure childhood isn't all boring chores.
I have several friends who roll their eyes in disbelief when they hear me ask the kids what they want to cook on their respective cooking nights, or when I ask Marcel if he's ironed his shirt for school. Tonight Lots made homemade meatballs in bolognese sauce and spaghetti, while Léon and Anna helped to peel the garlic and pick the parsley in the garden.
Of course my kids may bitch when they are older that their mother was a slave driver and their friends were all out learning tennis, but I would prefer to think that on their first night alone in their own flat they won't need to ring me, as one student friend did to me back in 1987 when we left home, to ask how you cook a cabbage because her parents had never taught her to cook...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A SWEET BILINGUAL ERROR


Dinosaur biscuits
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Last weekend the weather was so dire, we hardly set foot outside. To distract the kids I got Léon and Lots to make biscuits together. They used a Danish recipe. Thomas told them they had to roll the pastry out fairly thin and bake the biscuits for just five minutes. After five minutes I wasn't sure whether they were cooked through because I wasn't entirely sure they'd rolled them thinly enough. Go and ask Thomas what colour the biscuits should be, I told Pudge. He returned and proudly replied pinkish brown! Pinkish brown??? What the hell is pinkish brown, I wondered. I know Thomas never speaks to Léon in English so I translated in my head the words pink and brown into Danish and suddenly I understood. Danish for pink is lyserød, literally light red. I had expected Thomas's answer to be either light or dark brown. Of course Thomas must have said lysebrun (light brown) but when Pudge heard the lyse the only colour he knew beginning lyse was pink. He's obviously never analysed the meaning of the word lyserød and has simply taken it to mean pink, no more, no less. Sweet!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

AUTUMN


Anna
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I quite like autumn really. From a colour point of view it is the prettiest season... when you are somewhere further south than Glasgow anyway.
Until I lived in France I didn't really notice autumn. In the Glasgow of my childhood autumn had always seemed to last just one weekend. The leaves turned brown and were blown off the trees in a gale within 24 hours, 48 at the most. In France I watched in amazement at 20 as autumn (a fairly warm and sunny season) lasted weeks and weeks.
Since then I have tried to be more aware of Scottish autumn.
You have to start watching out for it the second week in October, with the first weekend in November usually being the optimum photo weekend. This year must have been windier as the trees had already reached week two of November stage when I was in Glasgow today with my camera - bummer. But the colours on the ground were beautiful, even if I had missed the best tree stage. Anna wasn't too sure whether she liked her feet disappearing under the leaves and I think she'd have felt more comfortable kicking them about if she had been wearing boots.
The only unfortunate thing about autumn is the inevitability of winter following it.

POOR SUNFLOWERS


Sad sunflowers
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I think we planted the sunflowers a little too late in the season in our garden. We waited all summer for them to make an appearance and we'd nearly given up when suddenly in September they popped out to say hello. Unfortunately, the last week has seen some rain and gales that they don't seem to be coping with. Weighed down under the constant deluge, they've simply given up the will to live and have gone to sleep, resting their weary heads on our lawn, looking pretty much like the rest of us are feeling. I feel almost like I should rush out and wrap them up in scarves and hats to cheer them up!
I must remember to bring out the seeds earlier next year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HOW HARD CAN IT BE?


Garlic press
Originally uploaded by bercired
I've had a long and stressful day and something was bound to be that final straw that broke the camel's back...
How hard can it be to make a bloody garlic press that you can actually use to press garlic? It isn't exactly building a spacecraft to circumnavigate Jupiter after all!
The one I had been using decided to disintegrate - every time I pressed a garlic clove, the garlic turned greyish blue probably loading the baby with lead poisoning or similar. Despite my meagre budget I decided to invest in a new model yesterday when I was in ASDA. They had one - similar to the one pictured. It didn't break the bank at a couple of pounds. I decided to make spaghetti tonight deliberately to try it. First issue - the little holes were flat - not sharp in any way so the garlic simply squashed against rather than through them causing an M8 at 8-15am type garlic traffic jam. I used my unremarkable strength to push the two handles together to force it through - and the result of course was a lump of garlic still in the press and two bent and touching handles. For crying out loud...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FOOD!

One of the things about pregnancy (and early breastfeeding, for that matter) is the change to your food requirements. I don't mean you like different tastes, I mean when you are late for a meal you feel faint. This isn't a gradual occurrence but an instant one. I have been trying to get up and work before breakfast the last few days. I am fine until about 9-15am, then I have a window of about five minutes to get to the cereal bowl before I fall over. When I am not pregnant, I can skip a meal with little more than a grumbly tum but not now.
So tomorrow's glucose testing is going to be fun. They want me to fast for 12 hours before a blood test. Following that they want to feed me only glasses of lucozade all morning at two hour intervals while taking several blood tests. I have a feeling that I am going to want punch someone by 11am. It is just as well I won't have the energy to!

Friday, October 23, 2009

AN INTERESTING TAKE ON LANGUAGE


Walk along the river Clyde
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Anna has quite a few pinafores. This is a nice, cosy option before we need to drag out the winter jumpers. I have noticed when I dress her that if I get her to step into her pinafore she calls it her trousers, whereas if I put it on over her head, she calls it her T-shirt. So clothing doesn't get its name according to its shape or function, but rather by how you get into it! Sweet!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ANTENATAL


Baby scan
Originally uploaded by viralbus
Yesterday I went into QMH for what I expected to be my usual least favourite ante-natal appointment. At 28 weeks I usually get dragged in for a painful shot of anti-D because of my rhesus negative blood. I know I shouldn't complain given this disease wiped out all my aunts and uncles but it is bloody nippy :-(
Anyway the midwife decided to quickly examine me while I was in and suddenly my 10 minute appointment stretched to a whole morning... Anna was not amused! My 'fundal height', which should have measured 28cm, turned out to be 34cm. I was assured it was probably excess fluid but sent off for an unscheduled scan which revealed 'Baked Bean' was more of a 'Broad Bean' and looking more like a five week older foetus. The woman radiographer said at least three times 'Wow this is a big baby' - too much info thanks!
So I am being dragged in for a morning of glucose testing next week to see if I have developed (for the first time ever) gestational diabetes. My gut feeling, given my urine is clear, is that my morning of fasting and sugar shots is simply going to result in more wide-eyed proclamations of 'Wow, she's big!' but I may stand corrected.
Bemoaning my situation today to a friend who is of the same stature as myself, she tried to reassure me that when her son was born three years ago, she was more than surprised to be told he weighed in at 9lb9 (4.4kg in real money) - hmmmm, I'm not sure that cheered me up, thank you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

PINK!!!!


Pink people
Originally uploaded by PhylB
With my pram (or rather Maree's pram) missing a wheel, I have been trying to find a cheap solution for transporting Anna and Baked Bean when she turns up. The most obvious one was Baked in a papoose and Anna in her buggy till next summer when she's more capable of long walks, but I'm not sure my back fancies that for long trips.
Buying a new pram at nearly 42 seemed a bit crazy too... surely I can't have many more kids after Baked? (only winding you up again dad!)
So onto Ebay I went. I bid on a few double Mclarens and Silver Crosses but they all hit £100 before p&p and I was getting frustrated. Then I saw (or was it heard?) this PINK one. Funnily enough bidding hadn't gone beyond £25 in the final hour and Baked is a girl too so I bought it.
It arrived today in a box so covered in parcel tape I thought both girls would be at school before we managed to break in. Pudge thought it was soooo beautiful and asked to try it despite being way too big and Anna, with her overly girlie tendencies decided it was so nice she refused to get out of it for half an hour. I am dreading my first trip to ASDA this week when she realizes I intend to put her back in the dark blue single buggy until January. She's liable to try killing me!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ALL THE GRANDCHILDREN

It's interesting to think that if those two had never got together, none of the other people in this photo with them would ever have existed, no?

ALWAYS THOUGHTFUL


Cosy pyjamas
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Pudge is such a caring a gentle wee man.
For weeks he's been asking for fleece pyjamas with feet like Anna but they aren't so easy to come by over age 2, and when you do find them, they aren't cheap (£9 in ASDA). Eventually I found a Thomas the Tank Engine all-in-one on Ebay last week and when it arrived, his whole face lit up like he'd been given the best present ever. Ironically, it coincided with the warmest day of weather in a month, but Pudge insisted on wearing it to bed.
The next morning I got up to find him on a chair trying to reach his piggy bank in the TV room (which has all of a fiver in it).
What are you doing? I asked.
I am just getting some money to buy you and Thomas fleece suits too, you must be so cold in bed at night and these are lovely and warm! he replied.
Can you imagine a married couple (especially where one party is nearly 7 months pregnant) getting into bed at night in giant cosy suits like this? I guess that'd be the epitome of sexy, no?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TROPICAL PASSION?


Passion fruit in Scotland
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Thomas planted a passion fruit tree in our garden over a year ago. At first I thought he was mad - this is Scotland after all. I was more than surprised it survived the frost last winter and gobsmacked when he found it had actually grown its first fruit this year. He googled it to see when we should eat it and found out it wasn't just a passion fruit, which would be purple, but in fact a tropical passion fruit! How absurd is that?

Monday, October 12, 2009

WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO KEEP QUIET...

I read this the other day and despite what I consider fairly in-depth economic knowledge and first-hand experience of the recession both at home and in Europe, I was shocked at some of the percentages:

Since the UK banking crisis started in mid-2007, the pounds has fallen by:-

75% versus Japanese yen
50% versus the Czech Koruna
49% versus Swiss Franc
39% versus Singapore Dollar
37% versus Brazilian Real
36% versus Euro
33% versus Australian Dollar
28% versus the Thai Baht
27% versus US Dollar
21% versus South African Rand
21% versus Polish Zloty
4% versus Mexican Peso

It has increased in value versus only the Zimbabwean Dollar ,
Ukrainian Hyrvnia and Icelandic Krona.

These figures represent just 2 years!!!
Still glad we didn't join the Euro when it was brought in???

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OOPS!


me & karen
Originally uploaded by PhylB
About 7 weeks ago Thomas and I found out the sex of Baby Baked Bean as part of the chromosome analysis following our amnio. I asked my close friends if they wanted to know too and Karen jumped in (as she always does when I'm pregnant) with a big NO. Karen always wants to wait for the surprise and with both Léon and Anna that was possible (with the others I didn't know myself). This time was going to be trickier given how much more everyday blogging and facebook have become but I refrained from mentioning the baby on either and left Karen in the dark.
Not telling Karen in person of course was going to be the easy bit, given she currently lives in Lancaster... piece of cake!
Then Karen arranged to meet me for coffee on Saturday morning when she was up in Glasgow for a flying visit. Obviously bribing the two biggies to stay quiet would be easy - there's always something they want, and Anna wouldn't be hard either given that when she is asked if the baby is a girl or boy, she always replies in Danish. So Pudge was going to be the hard one. I tried to explain nicely on Friday night that he'd to keep it secret, he seemed to get it. I took Marcel and Charlotte aside and threatened them with torture and death if they released the cat from its bag. So, fingers crossed, there'd be no problem.
Karen arrived with a lovely cake. I hadn't seen her since I got pregnant. I let her in, put on the coffee machine and she said:
' Wow, you're big, when IS the baby due? I don't think I know how pregnant you are'
, instantly I replied 'This is week 28, I'm due around the first week of January'. She then came back with 'my god you've already got Anna and Lots' birthdays that fortnight, that's not great timing' and I of course jumped in with 'Yeah all my girls will have birthdays within 2 weeks of each other...'
She'd been in the house less than 3 minutes and the foot was in my mouth... D'OH!

Friday, October 09, 2009

BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER

This photo marks a changing point in my life. I know that is hard to believe... it looks somewhat off-centre and insignificant. My parents aren't looking their best - mum looks bored at best and dad is verging on South American terrorist, but it was 1975. This is the first photo I was ever allowed to take. Back in those days you only took one film of 24 a year and that was to take in birthdays, Christmas and your fortnight in Whitley Bay! So this was a great privilege! I knew from the moment I first got to hold our Kodak 126 that I wanted to be a photographer!
Today in the garden Pudge asked if he could take his first ever photo. I was apprehensive. Our Sony DSLR is worth considerably more than the old Kodak and the thought of it being dropped on the patio terrified me! But, what if my Pudgeman wanted to be a photographer too? So I made him sit it on the picnic bench and left him to press the button. He is just four after all and I had been seven before being allowed to touch the camera. He definitely enjoyed his experience, taking more than a dozen (6 months olden days quota) photos in the 2 minutes it took me to cross the garden. He pleaded with me to let him keep snapping so maybe we have a wee clone (time to look out the old fuji digital camera, I think!) And the result? Better than mine by a mile, but then again, so is the equipment!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

MYSTERY SOLVED


Anna
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Across the road from our house is Bradford's bakery. Often I find paper Bradford's bags on our path. At first I thought they'd been blown in in the wind but even on the nicest summer day I often come across one or two. Given the local high school kids often pop into Bradford's for lunch I was beginning to imagine them congregating between our house and the neighbour's to eat their lunches - cheeky wee buggers - but had never encountered any. I was puzzled and have been for over a year... until today. Anna was riding up and down our path, when I finally solved the mystery...

INDIAN COOKERY

Years ago I bought an Indian cookbook. Although I like most of the recipes it offers and am planning to make a nice aromatic fish curry out of it this weekend, I have to say my favourite recipe in the whole book is the (Vegetarian) Cauliflower surprise. This aptly named dish never fails to make me smile!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

TEACHING METHODS


hol
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Readers of my blog will have heard me rant more than once about the standard of language teachers we use in our primary schools.
Today Charlotte came in with a prime example...
Sheepishly she asked me during her homework tonight:
"Cul in French is kinda like a rude word for bum, isn't it? That's how everyone I've heard talking French uses it..."
'Of course it is' - I replied - 'it is the equivalent of arse in English'.
"I knew that",
she said, "but my teacher says it means neck".
Being a native to French Charlotte couldn't even make the obvious Scottish phonetic leap from cul [ky] to cou [ku]. To her, despite her being much more reluctant than Marcel to vocalise her French knowledge, there was just no similarity at all between the two vowels that in Scottish English completely merge.
When are we going to realize that pronunciation actually matters and getting teachers this bad at French phonetics is helping no one?

EMBRYO PHOTOGRAPHY

Now here's a job I'd get satisfaction from! Aren't these just stunning?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW!


Spotless!
Originally uploaded by PhylB
The Pudgeman woke up spotless despite the Scottish climate today. For the first time since February 2008, his face is spotfree. Of course I haven't the slightest clue what I have done, so fully expect the next one to start hatching by Friday at the latest but it is such a relief to see the wee guy happy instead of watching him scratching and bleeding and distressed for once. If only the dermatologists could get to the bottom of it all...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

LÅG - A POLYSEMOUS PHENOMENON


Pen Lids Close-Up
Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie
Now here's an interesting thing for those who speak Danish.
A few weeks ago Thomas (in a moment of madness) bought Anna a set of felt tip pens. I have spent every day since picking pens off the floor (with difficulty, given my shape) and putting lids back on.
Anna can't get the lids off herself so has taken to walking over to you, holding out a pen and saying 'låg'. I assumed Thomas had told her 'låg' was Danish for lid. Anna on the other hand has interpreted 'låg' as something used to close something else. Initially, only pen lids were 'låg'. Then last week it became 'bottle top' and 'jar lid'. Next it became 'zip on Anna's fleece jacket' and finally today 'kitchen drawers', 'the roof on a passing bus' and 'hats' became 'låg' too. Of course, the part of speech is also changing simultaneously with 'låg' becoming a verb used to mean 'to close a door', 'to zip up a jacket' etc. Her logic really is quite ingenious and interesting to analyse.
I'll keep listening to see what else becomes a 'låg' over the next few days...

Friday, October 02, 2009

WOWERS!


Wower jammies
Originally uploaded by PhylB
This whole feminine thing is starting to faze me. Having spent nearly ten years with a girl who has a tantrum at the mere mention of a dress, I suddenly have the other extreme. Anna loves shoes and flowers but she's also starting to get opinionated on things that aren't feminine enough.
Two nights ago Thomas tried to put Pudge's old blue puppy babygro on her at bedtime - she sat sobbing the word Wower over and over as if the doggy PJs were offensive (though they were fine till last week).
Also most mornings this week after breakfast when I have said Time to get dressed she has simply replied with a determined tone Wower clothes. It is just as well the obsession is flowers and not something less common!
Yesterday with some negotiating I managed to get her to accept a pinafore with a teddy on it, but I do believe we'd have had a battle if it had been trousers with teddies instead of a dress.
She accompanied me today to pick up Pudge to nursery. Half way there we had another fit of hysterics - when she was finally comforted enough to speak, she managed to tell me she was distraught because she'd come out without her handbag! Bizarre!
As Marcel said last week: Anna's quite a girlie girl - it's weird - I've never really had a sister before!

HOUSING


A teeny wee house
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I'm not an economist but I really don't understand current expectations for the UK housing market.
Journalists are watching to see when the housing market will recover recent levels. This article suggests we are closing in on 2008 levels.
As far as I can see the UK housing bubble was caused in part by banks agreeing to lend up to six times your income on property, unlike the 2.5 times salary I was offered back in 1993 when I bought my first (Glasgow West End) flat for just £45 000 - a price which was not out of reach on a normal couple's joint income then. The same flat in 2008 would have cost more than £200 000 which was out of reach for a young couple just starting on the housing ladder.
I thought the banks collapsed and were advised (or was it threatened?) to go back to more sensible lending. If banks can no longer lend six times your salary, then average houses can no longer remain at six times average salary levels, they need to fall in line with lending or there will be no housing market - just stable prices with no one able to move. So why are journalists still expecting the housing market to return to 2008 levels?
Maybe we'll all need to move into teeny wee houses like this one!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'VE ALWAYS LOVED ESTATE AGENTS

Here's a classic, if ever I saw one - just check out that 20 second video. You've got to admire their balls!

LEGAL AID

Suddenly I understand!
Back when Thomas first started talking to his family about my family his mother had seemed somewhat astounded that my brother had decided to become a criminal lawyer. Incredulous that anyone could go to the bother of studying long and hard to go into a profession that didn't pay well, she wondered why he hadn't opted for boring old tax or insurance law like her own high-earning sister. When Thomas explained that criminal defence pays well in the UK she didn't understand how it could given that criminals of this type, by definition, can't afford to pay lawyers hundreds of pounds an hour and people who could afford such bills didn't tend to go about mugging people or burgling their houses.
This morning Radio 2's news headline was the Sun's newspaper's condemnation of the Labour party. Not a Sun-reader, I clicked on it out of curiosity and got their slide show of Labour failures. Screen 2 explained immediately why criminal lawyers in general were not earning the pitiful salaries my mother-in-law expected. I must look into how these other countries' legal systems manage to work on such a tight shoestring...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A FURTHER PATERNAL ECCENTRICITY


An accident with a green pen
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Anna accidentally dyed her hair green last week! (She painted the inside of a plastic tub green, then popped it on her head as a hat with the obvious result!)
I showed Dad the photo, given I have strongly recollect him going on about wanting green hair throughout my childhood.
On seeing the photo, he was rather impressed, and went on to explain where the obsession with green hair had come from. As a small boy he'd seen one of the first technicolor movies The Boy with Green Hair, and although it had freaked him out, he'd taken a shining to green hair. When I questioned him about what age he had been when he saw it, dad explained he'd seen in late 40s... in black and white! I guess kids had more imagination in those days!

Monday, September 28, 2009

THE FEMINIZING OF CHARLOTTE


07- Jul - footballers2
Originally uploaded by PhylB
For years Lots has tried to hang on Marcel's shirt tails. As a two year old she quickly realized that being an avid dinosaur fan was the way to win her big brother's heart, by three a pink Power Rangers' suit was a must and thereafter football strips were donned to keep him happy. Despite her strong personality, she has always felt it necessary to conform to Marcel's expectations of her. When her little brother arrived four years ago, she simply thought of herself and them as three little boys. When I became pregnant with Anna, she told me straight out that she would not accept a female baby, and that her brother, when he was born, was to be called Bart. Eight weeks after this announcement, we went for a 4D scan and were told Bart was in fact Anna. Charlotte was not amused.
When Anna turned up, Lots did seem to like her just as much as she'd liked Pudge, and no further mention was made of the unacceptability of baby girls. Now that Anna is mobile, and talking etc something freaky is starting to happen.
Last week, Charlotte decided she'd grown out of her black (identical-to-Marcel's) Homer Simpson dressing gown. She asked to go shopping in town for another. I took both girls into Glasgow. The first shop I tried had small (up to age 8) red dressing gowns, and large pale or dark pink (age 8 and up) dressing gowns. She hummed and hawed and refused to commit to a non-acceptable 'pink' dressing gown. I believed my trip into town was fruitless, but we tried one other cheap store before giving up. It had candy pink dressing gowns with white spots - the sort of thing Lots usually curls her lip in disgust at, but these came in age 2-14. She bounced over and declared these to be nice and then proceeded to spend ten minutes explaining why Anna also ought to have a new dressing gown. Will you wear this pink dressing gown if Anna gets one too? I asked tentatively. Yes, came the reply! Almost on the verge of fainting because my child who is in p5 and who has only worn a school skirt twice was agreeing to pink, I raced to the checkout before she reconsidered.


This weekend in Tesco the same happened. Charlotte found a T-shirt and cardie set in lilac that she thought Anna would like and conceded to buy the same for herself, although the older model only came in grey, but once again we are talking girls' clothes! Result!
Can this little girl who is obsessed by flowers and pretty shoes be feminizing her big sister at last after all my failed attempts?
It is a shame there's an eight year age gap... Charlotte really needs to buy her first bra, and nothing will persuade her to. I have a feeling we may need to wait another eight years before she agrees to buy the same model as Anna!