Sunday, September 30, 2012
If you live in Glasgow and have never been to the falls of the Clyde, I have to recommend it. I try to go once a decade but in fact it is worth going more often than that. In the next few weeks the autumnal colours will show it at its best. And given the recent rainfall, it is spectacularly fierce at the moment.
Marcel is usually a great cook. He can easily rustle up a Jamie Oliver-type meal for eight people.
Today he invited his friend Deen for lunch and to study history together (so he claims anyway!) I asked what he was making for lunch for the two of them but I wasn't quite ready for the reply. Rolls in Scotch pie! In true McEnroe style I had to reply: You cannot be serious! But he was! I hope he doesn't try that on one of his female friends - I'm not sure how it will be received!
One of the things this recession has taught me is that you don't need to spend any money at all to have a really happy child, you just need to let them be children. Would she really have been happier than this wrapped in cotton wool in her nice warm house with a £30 PS3 game or DVD? I doubt it. A pair of wellies and a few puddles suffice!
Saturday, September 29, 2012
And so my youngest son has turned seven. How can he be seven already? - he's still my baby (ok I know I had two other babies but Léon is still my wee man!)
He had a lovely time. His Danish granny had flown over especially for the day and my mum and his Scottish auntie and uncle dropped by too with his cousins. Thomas baked a blue cake and made him his favourite dinner. He seemed to enjoy all the attention involved in being the special one for the day.
Amaia particularly enjoyed giving us her version of 'happy birthday' too. Although she did take a few seconds to get over the shock that it was only Léon's birthday and not everyone's! I guess it has been a while since the last kiddie birthday in this house. (Her own on 11-1).
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I have never looked back. I have never missed him for a single moment. I re-found the person I had lost in my marriage. And I have now married someone who makes me calm and happy.
As we've grown, each of my kids has come to me at different times and told me individually that leaving him was the best thing I ever did for me and for them. Even Léon, who was less than a year old pointed out profoundly last week that if I had not done that he would not only not have his little sisters but he would not be himself and that he couldn't imagine having grown up unable to speak Danish... a bit deep for a six year old!
It is definitely a date worth celebrating as a family.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
I blogged this a few months ago when Alan first put it on Youtube but his rendition on Saturday was much clearer without the background wind of the original so I am putting it back on again. It was a definite highlight in an already great day.
I had thought the kids would zone out once we got to the political speeches but surprisingly Léon sat down happily to listen. First up was Alex of course followed quickly by Margo MacDonald. Margo pointed out part way through her speech that with support for independence already in the mid 30% bracket, each person who'd already decided to vote yes only needed to convince a single other voter for us to be home and dry.
Léon looked quite excited throughout her speech and I wondered what had caught his interest. When she left the stage and the applause died down, Léon turned happily to Thomas, who he knows has been campaigning for an autonomous Scotland just like his home country of Denmark for over a year and announced:
Hmmm - I guess he missed the little word 'each' in Margo's speech but still, it wasn't bad concentration on the rather complex political content for a six year old!
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Léon's another one with stunning eyes. They make me think of Caribbean waters, deep and clear enough to see down into the depths of his soul. Never in my wildest dreams, with my own dark eyes, did I imagine for one minute that I'd have a child with eyes so pale they are almost colourless.
Friday, September 21, 2012
I'm 44 and I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up!
The day-job is still interesting, though a little erratic at times during this recession but if I could find a way to make money from it, I'd love to do a wee sideline in baby photography. With my own, I love taking them through the years but when it comes to others' babies I particularly enjoy photographing them at the 'squidgy troll stage', because you don't yet get that look of worry, fear, or shyness they can't hide when they are unfamiliar with you.
Maybe one day...
Any tips gratefully received!
Monday, September 17, 2012
Mum's car is currently insured with the company Sheilas' Wheels. They sent her through a renewal last week telling her to check the details were ok before she signed up to renew her policy. She noticed dad was a named driver on her insurance. Figuring it was a bit silly to pay extra for that, she rang and told them the policy needed updating since his death a few months ago. They said they'd send her out an amended policy. It arrived a few days later and they'd added £25 (to a policy that only cost £140 in the first place). She rang up to query it. She got 'Calvin', a young and enthusiastic call centre worker who has been taught exactly how they want their customers treated.
'Good afternoon madam, can I help you?'
'Yes, you seem to have added £25 to my policy and all I have done since your quote is remove my husband from the policy'
'Yes that's right, you get a discount for adding a named driver, by taking him off you don't qualify any more. Are you sure you want him removed?'
'He just died'
'Oh, I see, and will you be replacing him?'
'Will you be replacing your husband?'
'I said he died. You are the company that claims 'Insurance designed with women in mind' and you slap a penalty on a woman's policy for her husband dying? and then you ask if I'm going to replace him?'
'Sorry there's nothing I can do about that'
'So you are going to lose my custom for the sake of £25?'
'I guess so. Is there anything else I can do for you today Mrs Buchanan?'
'Ok, have a nice day!'
'Sorry? HAVE A NICE DAY???? I have just told you my husband of fifty years has just died and you slap a penalty on my policy and tell me to have a nice day?!?!?'
End of conversation.
In retrospect, I guess mum could just have left him on - it's not like he was ever going to have an accident anyway. But isn't that an incredible conversation? I certainly won't be asking them for a quote if they think that's acceptable, I don't know about you?
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Health and Safety rules for public swimming pools seem to have changed in the last few years and the new rules (or at least those they are enforcing in this council area) are a bit OTT if you ask me.
Thomas and I were down at Eastwood leisure centre this morning with four of my five kids. Apparently they have adult to kid ratios and I noticed while I was in the pool that they are strictly enforced. In the big pool every under-8 needs an over-16 in charge of them and in the baby pool the ratio is one over-16 to 2 under-8s. The fact that they choose 'under-8' as the benchmark rather than 'non-swimmer' strikes me as mad. When my older two were under-8 the rule was no non-swimmers out of their depth. This seems infinitely safer and less constrictive to me. My oldest two learnt to swim at four and Marcel could definitely easily have out-swum say my mother at 6 but under the new rules my mum would have been forced to be in charge of him even though he could dive at the deep end and mum wouldn't go out of her depth. He'd not have been allowed to swim without an adult at his side for four whole years, despite being happy to do many lengths of the pool safely. Charlotte too (seen above in a two metre pool at four) would have had the same annoying constraints put on her.
Worse still pools without baby pools have a strict one to one ratio in ER - eg East High School public pool or Neilston would actually not let Thomas and I go swimming at all for pleasure with our three youngest kids as they are all under eight - despite the fact that Léon can swim unaided. Where's the sense in banning kids from learning to swim or practising because they have siblings? Swimming should be a fun pastime for families, not something you need to delegate to a paid teacher simply because you have three kids. And it's like driving - you start to learn once you can do it, and these rules ban you from practising in the safe environment of your family until you are eight!
Today Léon wanted to be swimming lengths of the big pool, which was more or less empty - (with three guards up on ladders watching) but I was forced to swim up and down at his side. This meant Thomas could not leave the baby pool to teach Anna to swim because that would have meant - shock horror leaving Lots - a child just short of 13 with 9 years swimming experience in charge of sitting beside Amaia in a pool that was less the 50cm deep! (Also with two guys supervising up ladders).
Life guards used to be employed to watch if people got into difficulty and save them. Now they seem to be there to run up and down their ladder every five minutes to tell some poor parent that they have dared to allow their child to walk poolside without holding on to them and threaten them that they are breaking the 'legal requirements'. Give me strength!
The ironic thing is that Léon is not allowed to even walk unsupervised between the two baby pools though he is already capable of jumping in at the deep end of the adult pool and swimming safely to the shallow end but Anna who we can't teach to swim at the moment because of their one to one rule will be allowed in four years time in the big pool alone even if she still can't swim - where's the logic in that?
Oh I see where the logic is - the logic is that the council run overpriced, fairly ineffective swimming lessons that aim to teach your kid to swim just about competently just before they turn eight. You can sign them up for weekly lessons costing about £4 per half hour eleven months of the year from three but given the local pool rules won't let them in alone till eight, there is no major incentive to have them swimming competently for the first few years - quite a money-spinner.
But even if I have to take them all down on separate days I refuse to work at their pace.
And finally - does this look like a guy who needs an adult holding his hand every inch of the way to you? He's jumping into a two metre deep chunk of the Arno, with only a fourteen year old looking on!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
In fact it also reminds me of a photo of Léon taken about the same age... I wonder if all my kids have a deep desire to star in horror movies?
Charlotte went upstairs to tidy her bedroom this afternoon and found Amaia had taken through her toys, put them on Lots' bed and fallen asleep. How sweet, she thought, until she looked closer... in Amaia's mouth to be precise! The wee besom had raided Lots' drawer, where she'd hidden a few sweetie necklaces she'd bought in Makro last month, taken one, and by the looks of things, had been half way through eating it when she fell asleep on Lots' bed with the evidence still hanging out her mouth! She'll be getting a talking-to when she wakens up! (And Charlotte will no doubt be moving her sweetie stash to a higher location!)
Monday, September 10, 2012
Of course after his long walk the wee soul was tired. He was under instruction this week to teach his wee sister how to go to school by bus. He was to take her to the bus stop at 7-55am. So having my bedroom door knocked at 7.55am was ominous in itself. Emmm - he's slept in mum so I've missed the bus, oh and he's slept through his paper round too! Give me strength! I get to pay for him to go hiking all weekend so he sleeps in and Lots and I get to do his paper round while he has his shower and gets ready. A great start to the week. So I drive them to school. This in itself is stressful as I notice my ex-husband is directly behind me on the trip. He doesn't know my current car so isn't aware it is me but I can't miss his lime green Fiat in my rear view mirror and given I'm in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with him I slip lower in my seat in the hope he won't notice us! Nevertheless, we arrive at school unscathed and the last thing I say to them is - Well at least you can show her which bus to come home on... At 4.30pm Marcel walks in alone! I told her to meet me on the 4pm 44, he says and as it pulled away I saw her slowly walking past the shops so I texted her to take the next bus along, so don't worry, she's fine! How can it be that complicated, just to manage one of my requests for the day?!
In the meantime I have picked up Léon and Anna. Anna has come out of school wearing an orange shirt and tie. (This photo does not do it justice!)
Saturday, September 08, 2012
Friday, September 07, 2012
Funny how things have changed in a couple of generations. I wonder how she'd feel about my own daughter being the flower girl at my wedding when she was 14 months old! (Or should I start organizing fake wedding anniversary parties too?)
(And looking at the photo - as a child I often wondered if my gran (and her sister-in-law Catherine) worked part time as chimney sweeps in the 40s?!)
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
I usually consider my husband fairly on the ball with regard to current affairs. But somehow the whole bic-for-her scandal seems to have passed him by. He looked completely blank today when I mentioned it in passing. So for anyone else unfortunate enough to have missed it, I thoroughly recommend you read the product reviews on Amazon for these items!
Sunday, September 02, 2012
I remember the first time I met my first mother-in-law-to-be (at the age of 18), she asked what jam I was best at making. When I replied that I'd never made jam, I thought she was going to faint. She couldn't believe anyone could reach the ripe old age of 18 without ever having made jam. So now at 44, I decided I could put it off no longer! We had four large rhubarb plants taking over the garden so I chopped up 1.5kg and followed this recipe. It didn't turn out too badly - the taste is good. It's a bit too set for my liking - I prefer the runny jam they eat in France and Denmark to the solid stuff we eat in the UK. A better plan is probably to google a recipe in French instead next time. I am more likely to appreciate the consistency of something written by a French author.
I may be a late starter, but I might actually take up jam making properly given how many fruit bushes Thomas has planted in our garden.
I was cutting cabbage tonight to make chicken fried rice, Anna was standing on a stool watching me. I was using Thomas's beautiful global knives. (Even if I hadn't fancied him, his global knives might have been enough to make me marry him! ;-) ) Anyway, Anna picked up the large chopping knife. I told her to be careful and put it down. She started to question me:
Is it sharp enough to cut off my pinkie? she asked
Yes, I replied
What about my thumb? she continued
Yes, they are sharp enough to cut off your arm, I said pointing at her wrist
She then pointed at her throat - If I sawed hard enough, would it be able to chop my head off?
Yes, of course, I told her, trying to sound very serious, so she would never play with my knives.
But her reply broke my seriousness in one fell swoop: That would be a pain! With my head off, I wouldn't be able to see where I was going!