Thursday, June 30, 2011


My little nephew, Gordy, apparently had an interesting conversation with his father last night. He pointed out that he knew I was the type of person to ditch one husband for another when the going got tough. He then inquired as to whether I was planning to ditch Thomas any time soon, as he would quite like to step up and become my third husband! I guess that would take toy boy to the nth degree!
Wee kids can be a laugh at times!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This one really is a special little troll. I don't know why so much nonsense goes though her head - it isn't malicious at all, partly it's investigative, but sometimes she's just trying to act like the older people she sees around her.

Today was fairly typical. We got up to find she'd taken all the bowls out of the Welsh dresser. She likes to colour in bowls when you turn your back. Obviously finding out she's chosen oil pastels instead of washable felt tips five minutes before breakfast is a bit of a bummer.

I washed the bowls in the sink and walked past the downstairs toilet as I went to put them on the table. She was standing unaided beside the loo. She carefully removed a square of loo roll with her left hand, transferred it to her right, wiped her bum (she was wearing a nappy and tights) and put the used paper in the loo. Ok, she'd been watching the rest of us at the loo. She repeated this with a second square, and a third, and would have done the same with the entire toilet roll, had a I not dragged her out kicking and screaming.

She crept through to the hall. She didn't immediately see her shoes in the shoe cupboard. She put on one of Léon's and wandered away. I found it in the living room. As I was returning it to the shoe cupboard so we wouldn't be in a panic Monday morning at 9, she passed wearing one of Anna's! I pulled it off too and said no sternly. She rolled dramatically on the floor, heartbroken. Five minutes later, because I'd closed the shoe cupboard she hobbled by wearing one of Thomas's large muddy garden clogs that he'd left in the porch! Arrrrg! Stop it baby!

Other than that she's tried to clip her nails today using nail clippers. And she's pushed a step ladder over to the cooker to try to make a meal.

My father-in-law flew in today - he suffers from sleep apnoea and uses a breathing machine at night. I am definitely going to keep her in bed till after he gets up - I'd hate her to unplug him just to see what it is!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Anna isn't stupid. I made quiche for lunch. I put it on the table. 'Have a piece of this', I said. 'No, thanks', she replied. I reiterated the house rule about having to try all food before deciding what we like and don't like and quick as a flash she replied 'But I have tasted quiche - Silly Mad John (her imaginary Grandpa!) made me it at his house last week so I tried it there!'
10/10 for quick thinking and sheer cheek!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


If I had tasted Thomas's ratatouille before I married him, I would probably have married him for it, but I didn't so it was a lovely surprise to find eating it went with the job of being his wife. If anyone is ever looking for a great ratatouille recipe, let me recommend either marrying Thomas... or buying Provence the beautiful cookbook.


I think this is quite a cute photo of Anna trying to rinse the shampoo from her own hair... though for some strange reason it brings back vague memories of Jack Nicholson in the Shining!


When you go into Clarks you can get shoes for crawlers, cruisers or walkers. Of course, if the climate was better, I'd probably just leave her barefoot, but so far this summer has not been 'learn to walk outside barefoot' weather. Amaia is a bum shuffler. Why don't they realize bum shufflers need quite different shoes? In fact you need to make two types of bum-shuffler shoes - right-footed bum-shuffler shoes and left-footed bum-shuffler shoes! Ideally Amaia needs the sole to be on the left-hand side of her left shoe, not underneath it and she most definitely needs it to fasten in the inner side of the shoe, not the outer side. As you can see, she has completely destroyed the buckle strap by dragging her left foot under her. Her right foot needs a reinforced heel too as she drags herself around on that. I know bum shuffling isn't half as common as crawling but offering even one model would certainly help those who are 'lucky' enough to have a shuffler baby!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I planted this peony two years ago and it has never flowered until today. Isn't it a pretty one? It will look lovely beside the other unusual peenies I planted in my garden.


This one has been an oddball since she popped out 17 months ago. First there was no explanation as to why she decided to weigh 25% more than all my other kids. Then at 7 months she started that weird bum-shuffling thing and because the technique allowed her to move things around freely, it looked until yesterday like she would never attempt to move on. Suddenly she decided standing was the first step, but not standing on the nice smooth, hard, even floor, as would be sensible. If you want to learn to stand, how about on the edge of a couch or on the squashy mattress of her parents' bed?


When Charlotte was given this dress as a present when she was four, her lip curled in disgust as if someone had suggested she ought to peel off her skin and jump into a vat of vinegar. As it had been a gift from her uncle, I tried to teach her tact. I suggested that if she was to put it on for three minutes, I could take a photo and send him it and he would never realize she hated it. She wouldn't budge. I tried coaxing, cajoling, bribery, anger, guilt and everything that came to mind, but she would not be moved. She loved her uncle but she hated the dress. Maybe her tactic worked - the following year he gave her a Nike T-shirt (albeit in pink once again), which she did wear.

It lay in her drawer for two years and then was evicted to the loft. I recently came across it and had a hunch that Anna's reaction may be different. When I showed her it yesterday, she claimed never to have seen anything as beautiful and happily skipped around all day exclaiming she was now a real princess as this wasn't even a costume!

Of course, when Amaia sneaked up behind her with a purple marker and drew on her, she ended up in the same state Lots had been all those years ago, but not because I was asking her to put it on, but rather because I was telling her to take it off!

I wonder which camp Amaia will join when she grows into it!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Anna invented Silly Mad John a few months ago. He is an imaginary friend she refers to as her 'pretend Grandpa'. Stories about him have become so common I have started documenting him. They are often quite consistent. For months now we have heard how he lives up a tree in a forest inside a leaf, for example. None of my other children has ever had an imaginary friend so I've been trying to analyse the psychology behind him.
The three older children go to visit André (my ex-husband) twice a week at around 6pm. When they leave Anna becomes quite sad in their absence, asking if she can go too sometimes, asking when they will return. She tells me how much she misses them when they are away and she wonders if they miss her. Two nights ago she asked me if I thought the biggies missed her whenever she went for dinner or sleepovers at Silly Mad John's house. Léon went to great lengths to explain to her she didn't go anywhere and that SMJ didn't exist but she was quite dismissive of him.
Last night André turned up in his brand new marker-pen green Fiat Qubo (that he'd bought the day before). Anna was at the gate when he drove by. Ten minutes later, she told me SMJ had bought himself a new green Fiat Qubo too. Suddenly the penny dropped. I think Anna is trying to invent herself an André equivalent. It will be interesting to see if Anna goes on holiday with SMJ in three weeks time when Marcel, Charlotte and Léon go to France to visit their Oma.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Little did I know when I took this beautiful photo of my parents on Saturday at my brother's 40th, that my mum would suffer a stroke 6 hours later. She is now in the Southern General unable to speak :-( With dad already terminally ill with cancer, I wonder how much more our family is going to have to suffer this year.

Friday, June 03, 2011


I've sometimes wondered how people cope with parenting monolingual children.
Years ago, when I would stand in the queue in Byres road Safeway waiting to buy my dinner and Marcel would ask in French at the top of his lungs why the man in front of us in the queue was so ugly, I would smile in relief at the thought that no one had caught what he'd said.
Yesterday I was reminded of the phenomenon.
I took Anna into nursery and told her to sit on the rug with her group. As I turned to hang up her coat, I heard a wee voice pipe up 'Charlie! (one of her 3 year old friends) I've not got my tights on today because it is so hot. Would you like me to show you my stor tissekone?' Arg! I turned, hopped over the kids, picked her up and whispered that just because the weather was nice, Charlie didn't particularly want to see her 'large vagina'! She looked surprised and pointed out that it was a very lovely one! Because of her use of the Danish in the sentence, neither Charlie nor Anna's teacher had caught what was going on! Once again I was saved by the bilingual dimension.
I take my hat off to all the parents of monolinguals - life must be quite a minefield!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Back when we lived in the flat we asked either Marcel or Charlotte to set the table each night while Thomas and I still did all the cooking. Setting the table is a five minute task but Marcel and Charlotte (who were 9 and 7 at the time) could easily spend half an hour arguing why they shouldn't be the table setter - they'd done it the night before (even if they hadn't), they'd helped cook, they'd been abducted by aliens etc etc. Eventually, because we found it hard to remember whose turn it was Thomas printed out a plan and stuck it on the fridge door. Overnight the arguing stopped. It was written in stone - no one queried anything. The chart was checked and the plan executed because a written plan is never wrong! Result!
Similarly after years of begging kids to read more, explaining the merits on their education of reading more and arguing that reading wasn't boring, ad nauseum, the chart solved that issue too. Give them a book and say read that and they procrastinate till the cows come home. Give them a chart marking a daily number of pages and without an argument, the book is handed back usually early, finished.
I'm considering mocking up a chart containing all household chores. It could work, no?


Is 16 months old too young to be able to read? Yesterday several of the boxes of cereal on the breakfast table had less than a plateful left in them so Thomas took three of the internal bags and put them in one box. The result was that inside a box marked Cheerios we had Weetabix minis, Cheerios and Golden nuggets. This morning Amaia sat down to breakfast. She pointed at the Cheerios. Thomas pulled out the Nuggets bag and filled her plate. She's a baby after all - krispies are krispies... she looked at them, she looked at the back of the box, then she looked at them again in disgust, shook her head and pointed at the box. Thomas took out the Weetabix with the same result. He then fished down to the bottom and pulled out the actual Cheerios, she nodded and held out her bowl!