Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It may surprise you to hear that I don't live in the quietest of houses. This many people can make your living room feel a bit like the M8 at rush hour. I often dream of a quiet bath, alone (without plastic toys) with my thoughts. I imagined that as they grew up things might become more tranquil... until today when Léon (after a schoolday full of St Andrew's day celebrations) said seven words that put the fear of death into me: I would like to learn Scottish bagpipes! Normally the old adage Just say no! should suffice but I happen to be married a Dane (probably the only Dane) whose secret childhood regret is that his parents didn't take him seriously when at Léon's age he came out with: Jeg vil gerne lære at spille sækkepibe! Maybe it'll be ok - as long as Thomas doesn't find out...

Monday, November 29, 2010


I found this poor cold soul in my garden today. I was quite impressed with the photographic result.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


 There is something quite magical about little (and not so little) kids when they see snow, isn't there?


When I was pregnant I signed up to a website that would give me a couple of lines weekly telling me what was happening with my unborn baby. I didn't know at the time that the web page would continue to send me updates after the baby was born. No problems there... except it turned out to be an American page and some of the ideas it sends me leave me open-mouthed. Take today's advice for example: What Might Concern You at 46 Weeks

Does your baby see you naked? If so, there is no need to be concerned. At this age your baby doesn't know what nudity is, nor will they remember what they have seen. This is true for kids through the toddler years.

However by the time your child could go to preschool, the opinions on this change. While most experts believe that a child seeing a parent of the same sex undressed is ok, they believe that a child seeing a parent of the opposite sex undressed should be avoided.

Sorry, but why do our friends across the pond believe the world comes to an end if a four year old child sees mummy's nipple? Nudity only becomes a problem when you make it one. I know it'll horrify them but my children (all of my children) are happy to walk in on me in the bath and ask what's for dinner or even sit on the loo asking for homework help while I get washed. Not only are they not traumatized by my wrinkly old body, they actually don't even notice it! Reading this kind of nonsense just underlines to me quite how European I am!


Anna was watching TV this morning while Thomas was making cappuccino and I was taking a bath to try to clear a miserable head cold. We had put it on Cbeebies figuring nothing too damaging could come on... how wrong could I be? When I walked in a program called Hoof and Safety with Nuzzle and Scratch was on. I watched it for less than 60 seconds before becoming completely appalled. A plump middle-aged Brownie was explaining to children that they should never ever touch scissors or drawing pins because they are far too dangerous! Scissors and drawing pins? Surely she means machetes and gun powder or something like that, not scissors and drawing pins!? I absolutely hate this cotton-wool nonsense: telling children everything is dangerous - ovens and cookers should never be touched, sharp objects ditto - never walk outside on snow - the list is longer than your arm. We should be teaching kids how to safely bake a cake, cut out a picture or pin up a picture... a fifteen minute tirade about what shouldn't be touched teaches the kids no life skills whatsoever. Bring your kids up in a home with no safety gadgets, stair gates and the likes, teach them how to use a knife and scissors and you actually end up with useful citizens instead of useless cotton-wrapped paranoid wrecks. Ok, rant over!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I happened to catch the tail end of an interview last week between Oprah and Michael Jackson's mother. Now I didn't stop on it because I have any interest in either. What actually made me stop was what Michael's mother was saying. Oprah asked when she knew with Michael that she had such a musically gifted child. Michael's mother was proudly explaining in detail how they were so sure he was on a different level to all other kids, including his numerous siblings, because he could hear rhythm in everything and even as a baby he would dance along to the rhythm of such strange things as the washing machine on spin mode. She said this told her he was going to be the next big thing in pop. What a load of nonsense woman! Either I am about to have my very own little Jackson Five or all kids do that! Each and every one of my babies has danced along to dishwashers, washing machines, and the likes. One or two have even danced along to dad's snoring when he's fallen asleep in his armchair babysitting them over the years! I vividly remember Léon as a baby in Mum and Dad's house one night when Holby City was on, dancing along to some bloke's heart monitor until he flatlined and then looking somewhat put-out at the lack of beat. In fact just today I took Amaia along as Marcel had his braces fitted and she bopped along to the rhythm of the tube they were using to suction the saliva out of his mouth as they worked on his teeth. Patently I am but a few years off raking in the big money!

Friday, November 19, 2010


You may just have noticed that I've stopped ranting about Léon's spots. Since he turned two, he had been plagued by sore little cysts under his cheeks that no number of trips to Yorkhill seemed to get to the bottom of. He had a total of four or five days in the last three years without a sore or bleeding spot on his face. Round about August, I started to notice that the spots were becoming less and less frequent. They had always said he'd grow out of them but I was afraid to blog it, or even say it out loud to my family in case that put a nail in the coffin of his recovery. Today he had his six-monthly check-up so I couldn't exactly not mention what I had noticed! The consultant was so pleased with his skin, she has told me she no longer wants to see him, unless he has a relapse. So maybe, just maybe, we've reached the end of the spot crisis! :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I am finding the attitude of Scottish suburbanites towards apples somewhat bizarre. Everywhere I look there are apples on completely bare trees, on garage roofs and all over driveways but no one seems to be picking them up and doing anything with them (other than Thomas that is!) Why?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It was quarter to one before I put the light out, but I didn't need to be up till eight today so that should have been ok. At 2.50am Amaia started to cry. That's a bit early even for Amaia who still hasn't ever slept a full night but it was subzero outside so maybe she was just cold. I took her into bed, put her between Thomas and I and took out a boob. She wasn't interested - that's not like her! She cried and writhed for an hour before making little squeaky noises and seemingly falling asleep. Thomas and I were wakened again at 4am when the bucketload of vomit hit both of us covering the entire upper half of the bed, all Amaia's clothes and both Thomas's t-shirt and mine. Oh great! Dripping in puke Amaia suddenly felt much better so instantly fell asleep. Thomas started to pull off our sheets when a voice from the intercom shouted 'Thomas!!!' Anna had woken up upstairs. Thomas threw on a new sheet and I dealt with the vomit swamp while he went upstairs. Anna, such a capable child during the day, had thrown off her duvet and couldn't work out how to get it back on her bed. Awake and cold, she wanted to get up. Thomas spent till 5 convincing her it was still sleepy time. In the meantime I had washed poor Amaia's hair while she slept and put her into bed (on a very large bath towel). At 5 Thomas got into bed muttering that 2 hours sleep wasn't the best start to the day when he has a business meeting in Edinburgh with his accountant. 5-30 Anna still wasn't asleep and given we were refusing to come up again, she had opted to shout 'Waken up Pudge!' 6am Pudge was sobbing 'Mama, mama!' in the top bunk. I shouted at Anna to go back to bed and she finally shut up. Léon fell asleep too. At last Thomas and I could fit in a whole hour before we needed to get up. He's gone off to try to find Edinburgh with two years of accounts under his arm. I have had a bath to get off the residual smell of puke, and put the sheets in the washing machine. Now I just need to deal with the well kid, the sick kid and do my own day of editorial work before school chuck-out time. When can I go back to bed - please?

Monday, November 08, 2010


Here's one for all my friends (and relatives) with cute little boys under five... You'll be stunned how quickly they not only overtake you in height but also how suddenly their adult sense of humour kicks in. Blink, and you'll miss their childhood. Be afraid... be very afraid!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Nine months ago I noticed the whole of the side of Thomas's car was covered in thick dried tar. From the pattern, I could tell the car had been driven over wet road tar splattering the wing, front and back door and even as far back as the petrol cap. It looked awful and was in such a state it was obvious we'd never be able to trade it in for a new one one day without paying to have it cleaned.
First, I tried picking at it with my nails - it was never going to work. Scraping with a plastic object caused damage. A metal scraper was obviously out of the question. We tried a pressure washer and all sorts of detergents but that made no impact. Dad rubbed it with paint restoring polish. No luck there either. We gave up and left it all summer. It wasn't like we planned to trade it in soon anyway, it's only done 15 000 miles.
Recently it started to bother me again. I decided to google how much it'd be to hire a steam cleaner (£38 a day). While googling that I noticed people mentioning on the Internet that WD-40 melts road tar on your car. It sounded somewhat far-fetched but at £3 a tin instead of £38, I decided to check it out before blog-ranting that it was a load of nonsense. I convinced Marcel the job might pay for his trip to the fireworks last Friday, so off he went on a bus to the shops, picked up two cans of WD-40 and returned. It was duly sprayed on and after a half hour's wait he went out with an old towel to wipe away the thick layer of tar the WD-40 would have melted.
I came out to watch... It only bloody worked!!!! Result! The car is spotless, perfect, beautiful. I stand amazed!


I was bopping along to Sunny Side Up while washing residual dishes the other afternoon, when Anna wandered in and mumbled something in an indignant tone of voice. I didn't quite catch what she said so I asked her to repeat it. Again, I struggled to hear what she was grumping about. She stamped her feet and shouted 'Mixuette!' at me. Mixuette? I had no idea what she was on about but she was sure I did so she got extremely angry and frustrated, ranting and ranting at me that Paolo wasn't Mixuette. The more I apologized for not understanding the more she seemed like she wanted to kill me! What on earth had I done? She insisted I knew fine well what Mixuette was. In an attempt to calm her down I put on Michael Bublé as soon as Paolo was done because I know she likes him. She started jumping with joy and shouting Mixuette again! Gimme strength... When Haven't met you yet came on she happily sang along with all the words, including the chorus:
And somehow I know that it'll all turn out You'll make me work, so we can work to work it out And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get I just haven't mixuette!
Ahhhh - don't you love wee kiddie lyrics?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Thomas is a wonderful cook. He bakes bread. He makes elaborate meals from every corner of the earth and mouth-watering puddings. He makes his own cheese, butter, yogurt - the man is a culinary genius... or so I thought until recently when he started making jam. He doesn't do things by half - he's made at least ten jars of marmalade, five or six of apple jelly, one of apple and rowan jelly - thanks heavens we have now run out of jars because whatever he's doing wrong, nothing is setting! I am knee-deep in jars of liquid sugar. Despite following recipes in old Danish jam-making books every attempt is runnier than the last. I wouldn't mind if he threw it out and tried again but he's filling the kitchen with these jars and googling what he can do to make them set. If he fails I can't move for jars, and if he succeeds we'll have more jam than (even) a family of seven can eat in one lifetime... hmmmm Christmas presents?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I think my kids think Thomas and I are grammar bores, constantly correcting every slip. Yesterday's conversation with Anna (2) was amusing: Anna finishes colouring in a picture and exclaims with delight: 'I done it!' I correct: 'No, I did it!' Quick as a flash and very angry she spits back: 'No you didn't, it was me!' Emmmm - I think we've a wee misunderstanding going on here :-)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


So Halloween came round again and I decided to take a stance against all that pumpkin and trick or treating nonsense. I was asked by my kids to buy a pumpkin so I decided to educate them in how things used to be before the ubiquitous American pumpkin took over the country/(world?) When I was a child we bought swedes (which we called turnips) and our Gramps hollowed them out because they are bloody hard to hollow out. So turnip-carving was a mystical moment when the kids sat round a trusted old adult adoringly watching him carve out the flesh. The up side of using such a hard bugger was that it didn't collapse in on itself after three days turning into green, smelly goo, it actually lasted quite a while. Also given they are quite small we used to put a string on them so they could be carried about a bit like a handbag! I also banned the 't' words in my house. Every time a child mentioned one of the 't' words I corrected them to the word 'guising' despite it being met by a sigh each time. I'm not sure my Scottish Halloween made any impact but you can't say I didn't try.

Monday, November 01, 2010


I like taking photos of the kids using natural light. They seem much softer when you turn off the flash.