Monday, April 30, 2012
After my wee placing request grump, I have to add a footnote. The council has decided from August that they want the school uniforms to change completely across the whole council area. I'm not sure one hand knows what the other is doing however... Friday was the final deadline for ordering the new uniforms, so when did the primary one placing requests come through? Saturday morning of course! So Anna is now happily going off to the same school as her siblings did before her... unfortunately however she is potentially going naked unless I can persuade them in the morning to take a late uniform order!
(Piss-ups and breweries spring to mind!)
Thomas has been cultivating a jar of lavender sugar now for as long as nine months. Fresh lavender from Tuscany was mixed in with sugar and eventually today, he decided to follow his ever-so-fancy lavender scone recipe. We waited with bated breath till he brought them through for four o'clock coffee.
And... for some reason, though they were nice enough scones - there wasn't even a hint of lavender! Hmmm - back to the drawing board I guess :-(
Sunday, April 29, 2012
I have to say however that the way the council deals with placing requests is fairly stressful for for the children in question. For some reason, the child's application goes in to the council on Dec 1 of the preceding year. The child is handed a form to take home to their parent stating 'I wish to accept the place on offer at my catchment high school or I want to make a placing request'. Charlotte, of course, saw she had a place at a school that not a single one of her (approx 100) classmates was going to and looked vaguely panicked. Over the course of the next five months, on numerous occasions leaflets and handouts were brought into the p7 class sent by the council and handed out to everyone except the three or four kids who were in the same situation as Lots - parents had divorced and moved just across the boundary. Each time the leaflets came round Lots claimed not to be upset, though one of the other girls spent the best part of the last five months bursting into tears every time they were handed out. Five months is a very long time for an 11 or 12 year old already dealing with puberty and the rest. The very kids who had already been through the upheaval of their families splitting were put through five months of stress.
When the letter accepting to grant her a place in the high school attached to the feeder primary she'd been in since five finally dropped through our letterbox on Saturday morning, Charlotte had already been through asking me appeal procedures and the rest. I just think there must be a better and more sensitive way of dealing with this type of request. At the very least, keeping the kids themselves out of the loop would help. If Lots isn't getting her handouts till next week, frankly there was no need to hand out the leaflets in front of these kids as much as two months ago.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
I can't wait to meet the new babies: Baptiste, Thomas, Cloé and Charline!
Monday, April 23, 2012
And another! Not only did my youngest niece, Christelle, re-surface today, one day after her older sister - (here I am with her in 1987, and 2003). But their mum did too! How happy am I? Two nieces and a sister-in-law back in my life in the space of just two days - I just can't believe my luck! :-)
Sunday, April 22, 2012
As I have said often, it sometimes felt, when we split, as if my huge French family had been put in bus which had run off a cliff. I come from a tiny family (though it is growing now with my kids and my brother's). I grew up with no aunts, uncles, cousins - just a brother and two parents. In France I had a mother-in-law, three sisters-in-law, three brothers-in-law, three nieces (and their partners), two nephews, and one of my nieces had a baby. Over night, they all disappeared from my life and it tore me apart. I had been an auntie to my three nieces, in particular, since they were two, six and eight and suddenly after twenty years, I lost them. But slightly worse, I thought, than the bus crash scenario, was the fact that my children were still seeing them. My family was continuing and I was excluded. I ached to hear how they were doing, how their lives were progressing but the divorce was hellishly acrimonious and he was there giving them all the only version they would ever hear of the events.
The years passed and I managed to go on but part of me was always missing...
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Today I heard Anna ask Thomas - Why is Granny eating at our house all the time?
Thomas explained that with Pumpa away at the moment because he's sick, it makes sense for Granny to eat with us so she has someone to talk to and doesn't get lonely.
Anna looked more than surprised and asked -Why doesn't Granny talk to her imaginary friends when she's home alone? Then absolutely dumbfounded she enquired - Doesn't Granny have any imaginary friends????
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Last summer was bad enough - Thomas's hand luggage going out to Pisa weighed 10.2kg, Anna's weighed 6kg - they held up a queue of 100 people while they moved two newspapers from Thomas's case to Anna's. I can fully understand them chucking out his newspapers if he had been alone - they are petty like that, but when he was carrying both cases - that is just jobsworthing to the nth degree.
So last week we flew to Paris. Unwilling to pay the 120-odd quid surcharge to take a couple of hold cases, we went for the crazy option seven small suitcases as you are allowed to carry them on board yourself free of charge. Funnily enough, the other 182 passengers on board had had the same idea - ho hum. So we all struggled up the stairs with our 189 small cases and fought for locker space to store them (having all had them size and weight-checked at the departure gate.) On arrival at Beauvais, only three cases came off on the carousel for that full flight, so they literally flew with a full plane and an empty hold. We then struggled across Paris on Sunday - a toddler, two small kids, two big ones, two adults, seven cases, a buggy and a rucksack - on foot for the first half mile, then bus, regional train (RER), metro (up and down stairs, stairs and more stairs and it was during the Paris Marathon so we were knee-deep in runners who'd just completed the course), bus and then foot to the Ryanair plane at Beauvais - paying in total something like 150 Euros to get out into the middle of nowhere to their stupid airport. Next time, it'll be a sensible airline into CDG - Ryanair - you've pissed me off one last time - whenever there is an alternative in the future, Ryanair will be ruled out.
(Oh and my prediction for Ryanair in the future - given the 737-800 has a capacity of 189 passengers and on other airlines they can each take 20kg of hold luggage - I reckon by next summer Ryanair will have bumped hold luggage up to £100 each to put people off taking cases completely and will have installed around 48 seats in the hold itself for passengers willing to travel without windows!) ;-)
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Anyway, we followed the rules and he got a passport containing the above (left) photo.
Then Anna's Danish passport needed replacing. We called up Danish passport photo guidelines and they stipulate that if you wear glasses, they must be present on your passport photo. So Anna got a passport with this photo on it.
When Léon found out this anomaly at the weekend he stated categorically that he wanted a Danish passport now, and would be refusing to travel on his UK passport henceforth! Emmm - could be difficult. He hasn't had his French passport renewed since he got his first glasses, so I don't know whether French passports prefer glasses on or off, but given a certain person's reluctance to pay for anything I can pay for instead, he's probably going to have to wait till he's an adult before that's renewed!
Life's a bit complicated when you have five dual-nationality kids!
Monday, April 16, 2012
I don't always get Charlotte.
Charlotte has a sweet tooth. She would live on chocolate, sweets, candy floss, nutella, and all sorts of rubbish - preferably washed down with lashings of double-cream - if I didn't ration her. She'd even manage to work her way through a box of sugar lumps if she thought she could get away with it.
From she first started talking, however, Lots has claimed to hate jam - in all its flavours - with a passion. She'd rather have no breakfast than let a jam sandwich pass her lips. Given the make-up of her character and tastes, she should love jam, but she refuses stubbornly to taste anything remotely jam-like.
I don't get it at all.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Then of course I got divorced, but none of the fun was lost, given I still have three house members with that surname. I moved in with a Widmann. That's not too hard, surely? Oh you'd be surprised! Often he simply loses an 'n' and becomes Widman, but we've had Whitman, Woodman, Whiteman(!), Wadman (is that someone with lots of money?), Windman (I won't suggest what that might be!) and finally last, but definitely not least my personal favourite Thomas Wild-man! I have actually had the postman come out with the words 'Do you have a Wild man here?' (None of your business, postie ;-) ) I know I stayed Buchanan this time round but if he gets Wild-man often enough, I might just consider a name change. Life would never be boring being Mrs Wild-man, surely!? It's very Tarzan and Jane ;-)
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I used to take two - one with salt, one with pepper on holiday. They were just the right size. I'd have two or three filled with washing powder, one with a sewing kit, mixed herbs etc. On a picnic, if you'd taken enough photos, you and a partner could use one each for drinking wine slightly more delicately than swigging it from the bottle.
Packing for a trip recently, I did wish I'd kept just a few from the old days! It's funny... I bet if I showed my kids this photo, they wouldn't even know what it is!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 09, 2012
Anyway, what I was going to say about personalized number plates was - given they were brought in, presumably to be used as status symbols, are we now reaching a point four years into the recession where not having one is actually a bigger status symbol? I've noticed cars I expect to have personalized numbers - big BMWs, Mercs and even the jeep-shaped Porsches whizzing past me when I am in Thomas's old Micra in the M77 sporting brand new 62 plates instead of ZZ 3 and the likes. Now we can't afford to change our cars every three years in this new economic wilderness, is having a current number plate the new way to show off your wealth?!
Sunday, April 08, 2012
With the sudden and unexpected good weather the last few days of March came the reminder of the curry torture we suffer all summer - well on the sunny days anyway!
The problem is the Indian restaurant across the road from our house. Despite being in business since the Harvie Avenue shops were built, possibly as far back as my high school days, it isn't wonderful. Their curries are watery and insipid and I doubt they have ever used a fresh herb or spice in their kitchen. I think they are more a 'two heaped tea spoonfuls of smart-price curry powder' type of place to be honest. You couldn't pay me enough to eat there... There are so many better Indian restaurants in Glasgow and Thomas is an expert Indian chef. The problem is that somehow despite the mediocrity of their actual food, they somehow manage to emit an absolutely mouth-watering smell, particularly early evening when I am sitting down to consider what we can have for dinner. I have no idea how they do it - maybe they put all their fresh herbs and spices into their extractor fan to tempt people in while simply wafting the odd dried chili at the actual meals! Anyway the result is that if I happen to be sitting in the garden, the smell means I can't think beyond curry, and that's not exactly going to be great for my figure, is it? The only solution therefore is to wish for a summer with temperatures as mediocre as their culinary ability so I don't make it out to my garden bench too often! But that would be a bit depressing too!
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Will I finally realized Lots has crossed the line, the first time she ices a cake in a pastel shade... or worse still - dollops on mascarpone instead? ;-)
Oh, and one last bugbear... when did they become cup cakes anyway? They were fairy cakes when my granny taught me to make them in my spotty pinny at the age of five, and to me they'll always be fairy cakes!
Anyway - look how happy they made my Bopster!
Friday, April 06, 2012
Am I getting old, or are kids making the world more complicated than it needs to be?
The other night Marcel, Charlotte and I were watching Groundhog Day for probably the twentieth time! We don't usually watched movies more than once or twice but this is in everyone's top ten so is a good one to unite us round the TV. We got to the snow scene and Phil and Rita started dancing to Ray Charles' old classic 'You don't know me'.
Because we've all seen it so often none of us was giving it our full attention. I was working on my laptop, Marcel was on facebook on his laptop and Charlotte was also playing a game on hers.
Marcel commented how he'd always loved that song, but didn't know what it was. He whipped out his phone
I did feel quite smug though!
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Pumpa's birthday cake 2011, a photo by PhylB on Flickr.
We volunteered to make a cake for Pumpa's birthday... to be more precise, I volunteered Thomas to make a cake for Pumpa's birthday! Thomas and I have a lot of work on this week, and added to that the kids are off school - so without childcare we've both been working past midnight every night. He'd also brewed some beer that needed to be bottled today so things were quite hectic. Running late, around 9-30, I was getting the girls ready for bed when Thomas ran through in a panic - he'd run out of eggs! I ran out to the supermarket, while he kept stirring and by 10 things were back on course but the girls, Amaia in particular, were way beyond shattered. As Thomas finally stuck on the layers and candles, Amaia trudged through to the dining room and used all her remaining energy to pull herself up into her chair where she sat, plate in hand saying 'Granny and Pumpa' over and over. Thomas didn't realize immediately she had it in her head they were about to turn up for cake, so lifted her, resulting in complete meltdown, accompanied by intermittent shrieks and sobs. It was only when I finally convinced her Granny and Pumpa were in bed asleep, that she agreed to be carried to bed, all the while sobbing in Danish 'Granny sover, Pumpa sover, Granny sover, Pumpa sover!'
I don't know whether to be proud or scared witless!
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
I guess my one regret is that when you don't marry Mr Right until you are 41, the chances of celebrating your 47th wedding anniversary (and still knowing who you are(!) is fairly slim). I don't think anyone in my family has ever lived to 88 :-( Well, it gives me something to aim for...
The other issue, as time goes on, is her incessant chatter. I think she feels she has to compensate for all three missing children single-handedly talking, talking and talking without ever stopping for a breath - my nerves are frayed!
When she finally runs out of things to talk about, she either makes something up about Silly Mad John and his family, or counts to one hundred over and over!
I guess unless you've been in the situation, it is hard to understand my kids' world. They are together 80% of the time and then suddenly they are wrenched apart through no fault of their own. Anna and Amaia don't really understand where their family goes to or why. Léon's not overly sure either. When you are little, time passes much more slowly so it is hard for the little ones to remember after their July separation, that another week like this will come again at Xmas and in April. They feel like lost souls at times.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Ever since we had the front of the house repaired, Léon has been inventing wilder and wilder fantasies about Marcel being batman. It seems a shame to spoil his fun by painting over the bat in white, so I decided a more appropriate course of action was to extend the theme onto the cladding on the front of the house. It is looking good, don't you think?