Friday, July 23, 2010

GETTING OLD



Do you remember the Billy Connolly sketch when he recounts finding his first grey pubic hair? He's appalled to realize middle age has crept up on him unnoticed.
Today I had my Billy Connolly moment...
This is Marcel when he was Léon's age. In my mind, when Marcel isn't standing beside me towering over me, I still think of Marcel as being a little boy like this. It was, after all, only a few weeks ago, on my time scale, that I gave birth to him.
Today I was sitting in the car driving with Marcel, Anna and Amaia to ASDA when I stopped at the traffic lights on the Eaglesham road. For the first time in about two weeks the sun was bright in the sky. I was in the driver's seat, Marcel was on my left, the sun was on his left.
As I looked to my left to see if the filter arrow had come on on the traffic light the sun lit up his face, and I noticed in horror that the sun was illuminating what can only be described as a definite moustache of blond fluff on my 'baby'! Oh my God, I'm getting old!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WTF???

You know when you come across someone foreign on Youtube who claims they can teach you to speak with a 'British accent', that you're in for a fun few minutes. A British accent???? What the hell is a British accent...? well - listen and learn.
If you are native to these islands, I suggest you pause when she reaches the 'garage' because you may need a toilet break, or perhaps you'll simply need to fetch a tissue?
But stick with her all the way through to the second lesson when she's ordering a coffee for Bobby - classic linguistic mince (thanks to John Wells for making my day).
Maybe someone should send her the Scottish lift sketch. If we all speak the same, this might be an eye-opener.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

LARGE FAMILIES


Me and my babies
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Sometimes when I look at my kids, I think of what most people consider the norm - and that would probably have been a photo of just me on a bench with Charlotte and Marcel. How much less rich my life would have been if I'd stopped there.
They are all so different and so alike in many ways. Anna and Marcel are quite alike in their interests, Léon, Charlotte and Amaia look very alike. I can see myself in all of them regardless of gender and colouring. Looking into your own eyes in another colour touches the depths of your soul.
This weekend Marcel has spent most of the time listening to the same song over and over trying to learn the lyrics - something I myself would have done at his age.
Charlotte sometimes drives me mad with her awkwardness and shyness - again traits I too suffered from at her age though overcame.
The little ones are so endearing with their smiles, their chat, their nonsense, their understanding of the world.
I watch how Marcel interacts with the smallest ones and I feel pride at having raised such a gentle, lovely boy. He acts indecisively like his father and I cringe. I ask him to tidy the kitchen and he does a sloppy teenage job and I want to kill him but he was my first love so I can't. He smiles his smile and sparkles his beautiful green eyes and my heart melts. He comes home from school and leaves a report on his bed, forgetting to show me it. I find it and read he is one of the cleverest kids at his school, polite, well-behaved, full of enthusiasm and I hold my breath, thrilled that by some fluke I have managed to raise the perfect child. That's what being a mother is all about.
Charlotte's teacher, at our parent meeting, stops on more than one occasion and gasps - My God you are the same person - she gestures like you, she moves her hair like you, she talks like you. I rarely see this myself. I am bemused and yet proud. She says to me - Charlotte is unaware of how bright she is. Again I am secretly thrilled at having got something right. I love her freckly nose, her clear green eyes. Her niggling with the little ones sometimes drives me insane. Her hours of patience with them in the next instant amazes me. She's more patient with them than me at times and her parenting wisdom stuns me when she sees better how to deal with them than me. Her refusal to ever brush her beautiful hair drives me batty. Her tomboyishness puzzles me as it is so far from where I was as a young girl. She talks enthusiastically about footballs in a way I'd have spoken about ABBA at her age - I have produced a me who is the antithesis of myself!
Léon is my fragile little angel: my lovely, caring, gentle boy. He has the most cheeky smile. His transparent blue eyes are flecked with yellow. Had I stopped at two kids, I'd never have known kids could have yellow eyes! He adapts easily to everything, yet is so needy of our love. He's my special darling Pudgeman. His laugh makes me laugh. His hugs are so precious. Nursery tells me about this well-behaved, happy little boy and again I am proud. His spot problem and other problems he's had since his horrible chicken pox as a baby make me want to protect him and cocoon him in love, to keep him safe from the world but as he grows and I offer him a little more independence, I am proud of my brave little boy.
Anna has a fiery nature and two odd eyes - one darker than the other. Had I stopped at two kids, I wouldn't have known I could have had an odd-eyed kid! Her eyes draw me in and fascinate me. Anna's favourite word is Whhhhhhhhy? She argues with me and her older siblings because she believes she knows better than us at times. This makes me laugh because she has such baby logic. And yet the minute the big three go for a night with their father, Anna walks about wailing as if her right arm has been removed. When they return, her faces breaks into a smile and she tells them how much she loves them. She's very definite about her likes and dislikes. My like pink, my ikke like blue. She can make her large dark eyes fill with tears at a perceived wrong as she mutters my am very sad. Anna is my sweet little drama queen, my daddy's girl. Anna is obsessed with being a big girl in comparison with Amaia. She studies her for hours so she can point out everything she has that is bigger than her baby sister. Being big is very important to Anna!
Amaia is my perfectly content smiler. She's my happy eating machine, my nosy feeder. She pulls my boobs to look behind her when she's eating. She's my standing baby who refuses to bend in the middle. She wants to learn to walk before she can sit steadily. She loves to be hugged and kissed by me and all her siblings. Her face lights up for each and every one of them. Had I stopped at two kids, I'd never have known I was capable of giving birth to a 4.5kg baby without drugs and smiling five minutes later! She smiles and observes all day long and I need her as much as she needs me. I watch her sleeping. She sucks in her sleep and I wonder if she's dreaming of me. She is another beautiful precious child with deep thoughtful eyes of another odd grey/green/blue shade.
The only thing that makes me sad about my large and beautiful family is a fear that I won't live long enough to watch the youngest ones reach my age. I can't ever imagine having only had the two kids society expected me to. I love each and everyone equally. I love the way they are individuals and I love the way they need each other.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TOO FEW BIRTHS


Amaia
Originally uploaded by PhylB
One of the problems with the low birth rate in Western countries is the fact that women don't have the experience to know what their bodies are capable of. Also women are unlikely to know someone personally who has a lot of children and who can offer real advice. Women end up listening to health officials and believing what they say. Back in December I was told I had to have a caesarean, which I refused because I knew the limits of my body but had Amaia been my first or second baby, I'd probably not have had to confidence to argue and win my case. I was told on at least five occasions that I probably wouldn't be able to have her naturally as they tried to frighten me into signing up.
I am becoming more annoyed at stories I am hearing. How often do we hear - I won't be allowed to go more than X hours past my due date or they'll induce me. Given they can check blood flow, oxygen etc to and from the baby these days (they did it with Amaia), it seems to me that setting average deadlines is not in our interest. Of all the people I know who've been induced, 80% have gone on to have a caesarean because they have not dilated. I find it hardly surprising they don't dilate if the baby isn't ready to be born.
I hate the dictatorial vocabulary too. Another friend's baby was breach till near the end of her pregnancy. They won't allow me to try to give birth naturally, she told me despite the fact that she already had several children. Advising women is one thing, telling them what they can or can't do is another.
I wish they'd spend more time trying to avoid such traumatic surgical outcomes. And I wish women trusted their own instincts more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PLAYING 'WORLD CUP'!


Playing 'world cup'
Originally uploaded by PhylB
With her siblings home from their 'stay home and watch the world cup' holiday with André, Anna has found a new love of football. She's been dribbling one of Charlotte's footballs around the garden all day wearing her Denmark strip. After spilling jam on it at 3pm she was distraught that she didn't have a second football strip to change into, sobbing inconsolably that her other T-shirts didn't have a number on them.
I took my camera out to capture them all playing happily together after two weeks absence. I was particularly pleased with this photo.With the ball reaching up almost to her pudgy little thighs, it shows that for all her confidence and ability, Anna really is still a baby. She looks so unsteady and cute here in a way neither Lots nor Pudge look with the ball. I guess this will be one of the very last shots where Anna will look more like a baby than a big girl, so it'll represent a treasured moment snatched before she grows up some more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

PURPLE POTATOES


Purple potatoes
Originally uploaded by PhylB
We've been growing purple potatoes this year. In fact we've been growing four or five different types of potato to make up for the fact that we went to the garden centre too late last year for our seed potatoes. These are so pretty you could frame them and put them on the wall - and they taste great too - though I'm only allowing myself them on weekends as I'm still on my post-baby diet.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

HOW TO PAINT BEHIND YOUR RADIATOR


Painting pink
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Why don't they sell these in B&Q? This is Thomas' oversized Danish toothbrush for painting behind radiators. I can hardly believe I reached the age of 38 before seeing one of these - they are a 'must' for any serious DIYer! (They also come in handy if you're quite short and you miss a bit high up!)

Monday, July 05, 2010

BLOGGER, GOOGLE AND THE WHOLE FIASCO

I first started blogging years ago when my name was still Phyllis Gautier. I chose the domain name phyllisgautier.blogspot.com. I didn't have a crystal ball at that point so it seemed a fair enough choice! A few years later I was getting divorced, going by the name Buchanan, not sure whether I'd stay a Buchanan, become a Widmann, a Buchanan-Widmann or what so bought the domain name phylsblog.com as it was future-proof and a mere £5 or so a year.
I set it to re-register automatically. I changed my email address on all my google accounts but for some obscure reason the domain-name renewal service for google and blogger stuck with my old email address which I haven't used in years. So last week when it tried to renew my £5 subscription it emailed my old account to say my credit card details needed updating. Funnily enough I didn't find out till my dad went onto my site today to find out it was gone. An impostor was there staring out of the screen at me.
I tried various things then Thomas suggested it had maybe expired. I trawled my email for half an hour then tried accessing my old hotmail account and there was the email telling me my account was cancelled.
I tried to click to renew but there was no button. I read my way through every page of my google account, more than once being redirected to a sign-in page for an account I have never had - phyllis@phylsblog.com. Over and over I tried to reset the password for it.
By this time I'd managed to burn the batch of sweet potato and chicken I was making for Amaia for tomorrow, possibly destroying the pot in the process.
Three hours in I finally clicked something - I have no idea what that finally let me access the part of my account I needed to reorder - I was losing the will to live by then. I was relieved and thrilled to receive an email confirming Thanks for buying: Domain Registration Renewal phylsblog.com
I clicked on my blog in anticipation and up popped the impostor again. What now? I have no idea. Blogger lets me into my create new post page but I can't post it - so I'm ranting for no one here in the hope it somehow jumps back into life. I used to be quite good at computer-related things but this is beyond me - I've been going round and round like a puppy chasing its tail all night.
After wasting nearly four hours on spending £5 to not have my blog back, I am going to throw in the towel and sadly go to bed :-(
and I don't even have my man to cheer me up as he's off at Euralex growing our business empire - hopefully he'll get enough work to hire me my own private computing assistant as I'm obviously too stupid to fix this by myself!

Friday, July 02, 2010

WHY I'LL NO LONGER BE READING THE TIMES

As of this morning my old boss Rupert will be charging us to read the Times. I will therefore no longer be reading the Times. I have no objection to paying for a paper copy of the Times if I happen to want one at the corner shop, but it seems to me this is a very old-fashioned way of looking at news, media and journalism.
Before the Internet we all bought one preferred paper and read their take on everything. Over the last fifteen years we have changed our way of accessing information. We read the same story in ten different newspapers, on BBC's site and maybe a US site to get the balance of the take on it. So although Rupert's £1 a day might have been fair when we wanted one paper, I for one am not willing to pay £15 a day for the newspapers I access. Either they all need to get together and charge an information tax of some sort to access them all, or they need to come up with a new revenue model.
Of course these days with blogging, the new journalists will become people like me who, if all papers start to charge, will pay and rewrite the information free on independent sites, thus killing off the pay model before it can take hold. It's time to look to the future Rupert, not the past.