Thursday, January 27, 2011


Dad's back from seeing his oncologist with the first good news he has received since this nightmare began back in August. The CAT scan after his third dose of chemo is showing the cancer that was on the lymph nodes in his chest cavity has shrunk, some of the diseased areas have even disappeared. We can start to hope and dream that some quality time is finally being bought :-) A big thanks to all our dear friends who've been supporting us through this so far, you know who you are. xxx

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Thomas has been buying some speciality flours for the family on a new website he's found. Buying flour in 25kg loads is cheaper than buying bread in the supermarket and much more exotic. I'm looking forward to tasting some fancy homemade French, Iranian and Swiss breads in the near future. (Any recipes Sabine? ;-) )


Life can be somewhat easier if you view it through the eyes of a five year old. Today Léon bounced up to me and asked if we could go to see Brita and Peter in Italy in the summer. I explained that I had been checking flight prices over the last few days and found out that seven seats on Ryanair's Glasgow Pisa flight would cost £1200 and that's before we get to car hire and spending money so told him I was doubtful that it would be possible. He looked puzzled and said Well, if we can't afford the plane tickets, can't we just use our passports as tickets instead? Now, I'm liking that idea. I can just see it now at Ryanair check-in. No sir, we don't actually have reservations, but we've brought our passports! Recently at Tesco garage, he came out with another gem. I filled my car with over £100 (waaaah) of diesel and went into the shop to pay for it. When I came out Léon looked expectantly at me and asked if I'd bought sweets or crisps. I replied no and he muttered - You must have bought something, you went into the shop! I told him I'd paid for the petrol, to which he replied Do you have to pay for petrol? My conclusion - I want our next prime minister to be a five year old boy!


I had forgotten that the first few weeks and months of nursery can turn into a bit of a nightmare as your child is exposed to new germs. Thirteen days in and Anna has caught her first nursery cold. Hopefully given the number of kids here at home and her many trips to pick siblings up in such establishments over the past three years, Anna won't be too badly affected over the next wee while. The one thing I am dreading more than anything of course is chicken pox, given neither Anna nor Amaia has had it. Before Léon's dose at 20 months chicken pox didn't scare me, but once you've had a child end up in Yorkhill Hospital after a bad dose of the pox, you never feel quite the same about it... I just wish the UK would vaccinate against it.


Something I hadn't foreseen when Marcel had his braces fitted back in November was that effect they would have on his nails! As you can see from this photo, Marcel has never had particularly nice nails. As his mum, I proudly think of him as quite a handsome young man, so having his nails spoil the overall appearance has always irked me! I have been nagging him unsuccessfully to stop chewing them since he was about four. I have tried bribes, moaning and acrid potions to no avail. On his first day home in braces, he announced that he couldn't bite on them properly. I was delighted but figured he'd find a way around it soon enough, but he hasn't! Given he's meant to be in these braces for about three years I think the problem will be well-solved by then! Just look at them after just two months!

(And yes he does always have a phone in his hand! He's 13 after all!)

Monday, January 24, 2011


I blogged back at the end of last year about the positives of this recession. (Can it still be called a mere recession - maybe financial meltdown would be closer to the mark?) I may have mentioned that in place of hundreds spent on the kids of previous Xmases, I managed about that much on them all together. By buying used jigsaws and the likes on ebay I still managed to give them all a decent number of gifts and they were all thrilled, as young kids always are, but I was reminded this week of something even more precious. Even with no money, all kids need to be happy is love and imagination. Anna and Léon have spent the best part of the last week sitting in this boat/submarine/bed/aeroplane and are as happy as Larry, so come their birthdays, if the economy still hasn't picked up, I know they're going to be just fine!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It isn't every day you find out your son is being used to illustrate encyclopaedic articles in Japan, is it?
And further investigation turns up my baby medical star on the same site.
I should be charging royalties.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I guess if mum and dad had never got together, none of the other seven people in this picture would ever have been created!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


At last the big day is here. Anna has asked us every day since Léon left Hazeldene last June when she was going to be allowed to start there herself. She has been more than ready despite not being old enough to qualify for her state place. When the letter came in telling us she was to start on Amaia's first birthday, it was easy for her to pinpoint the day. She got on great, though was a little upset to have to leave after just an hour (she's not in full-session until Thursday) and was a little concerned about leaving her gym shoes there overnight in case they went missing!


Every time I turn on the TV or radio I hear people arguing about whether the government should or shouldn't ban or tax bankers' bonuses. The same arguments go round and round: we own the banks, let us vote on it, they work hard and deserve the bonuses, they caused the recession, let them burn in hell and so on. One argument I have never heard but which interests me as the custodial parent after a divorce is why these people are allowed by law to receive half their salary every year as a bonus? The reason this interests me greatly is because my ex-husband, who is not a banker but who works for an IT company who give large half-yearly bonuses instead of salary, manages completely legally to pay me around 8% of his salary in maintenance towards the upkeep of our kids instead of the 18% recommended on the CSA website, that I presume he would be forced to pay if his salary was paid as salary instead of in bonuses and perks. So I guess the bankers aren't just doing all of us but any divorced ones are legally doing their kids too.


You'd think that by number five, they wouldn't be able to outsmart you but when it comes to medicine Amaia has us well and truly beaten. Fortunately she is seldom ill because getting medicine into her is impossible. We've tried the usual methods of coaxing, coercing, pinning down, mixing with food, drink, wrapping her in a towel and tickling her - but all to no avail. Last time she got a chest infection it took Thomas, Marcel and I a whole hour to administer each of the three daily doses of 5ml of amoxicillin. First she'd clamp her jaws, then she'd try flailing arms, if we did manage to approach her mouth she stuck her tongue fully out and finally if all else failed she'd accept it all into her mouth then spray spit it all over the room staining all three of us and the walls in the process, screaming her outrage. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a taste issue, merely a control one. If I leave a spoon on her high chair with a drip on it, she will happily pick it up and lick it, but not if she doesn't want to, so getting 15ml into her a day takes all day. Also given your are meant to finish a whole course of antibiotics to make sure it works, having 75% of each dose land on your head and drip from your fringe doesn't exactly inspire confidence. When she has a temperature, no matter how high, we go through the same thing with both calpol and nurofen. She drives me to distraction. I can't wait till she is old enough to be bribed! Anyway last week she needed some oral medicine again for an ear infection. I felt like crying when I heard because of the emotional strain trying to medicate her puts on me! Fortunately when I mentioned our problems to my friendly doc, he came up with a stronger version of amoxicillin which meant she only needed to be given three 1ml doses a day. What a relief! 1ml is a manageable amount and very little has hit my ceiling this time. So if you too have a medicine terrorist at home, do bear this solution in mind.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I know you probably haven't been able to sleep wondering about my old Italian address! ;-) Well the mystery has finally been solved! I did go into the loft as I had suggested to look through old letters but everything I found was for my second Italian address. Needless to say that provoked even more ribbing and Thomas and Marcel took great delight over the last eighteen months telling me I had only ever imagined living in Perugia.
So there I was tidying up around the house on Saturday when I noticed the big red tube that contains my Glasgow University degree sitting on a shelf. It has been there all the time but I don't tend to look at it - I know what degree I have, so I don't need to. Anyway I took it down and thought I'd have a wee nostalgic peek. I pulled out the rolled-up parchment and found not only my UK degree certificate but also my certificate from the Università per Stranieri di Perugia and inside that, rolled up and somewhat faded, my Italian residence permit (yes you needed a residence permit inside Europe back in the distant 80s!) stating my place of residence as Via della Viola 41!!!
I am one happy bunny :-) Marcel and Thomas are somewhat deflated however!

Saturday, January 08, 2011


East Renfrewshire council has changed all its refuse policies recently to save money on landfill bills. Their new idea of collecting rubbish fortnightly instead of weekly of course means those who didn't recycle before are now forced to. Given there are seven of us, our refuse has never fitted in the bin without recycling absolutely everything down to the smallest yogurt pot and we've needed to use a garden composter for years so it isn't really affecting us very much. The problem we are having is their new food waste policy. We've always put the vegetable waste in the garden dalek so the brown bin has only ever been used for weeds. The council has decided to incinerate all food waste now - chicken carcasses, spaghetti, beans and the likes. We're meant to put it in the brown bin so that's what we've been doing. The weather of course has been sub-zero since the end of November. So every day we chuck out food waste and it freezes solid to the bottom of our brown bin. Every Friday the bin lorry turns up, two men jump out and hook on our brown bin, turn it upside down, the frozen food stays firmly stuck to the inside of the bin, they return our bin and drive off. Isn't that an impressive use of council funds? A troop of men driving round all day tipping up brown bins completely aimlessly. I wonder why no one at the end depot is asking why the truck is returning empty after every seven hour shift? It'll be interesting as the season goes on. I reckon our brown bin waste will reach the brim round about spring by which time the rotting food will really start to stink as it thaws! I can hardly wait :-/