Friday, November 30, 2012
After a hard day at school, there is nothing Lots loves more than to curl up on the couch with her tiniest sister and watch so TV, their bodies so entwined you find it hard to see where one stops and the other begins. I sometimes think there can be no better age gap between kids than ten years and seven days. I truly believe Amaia is Charlotte's favourite person in the whole world. Unlike all her other siblings who she adores but who can annoy her at times, nothing Amaia does ever seems to get under her skin. She's just her perfect little sister.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
They look great fun. And as you can tell if you look closer, they actually take them in groups of four or five and stitch them together afterwards. The advantage of that is that by concentrating on four or five kids at a time instead of twenty-five, you can get their attention, their smiles and better capture their personalities. So Anna brought hers home yesterday, unfortunately stamped all over with copyright threats, the reason I have not uploaded it (well that and the fact it doesn't fit in the scanner!) Do have a look at it on my wall next time you are round!
I don't know many of the kids in Anna's class yet, given she's p1 so I sat her down and asked who was who... she happily listed them... That's me beside Miss Cuthbert and beside me is Inishka and Haroon, that's my friend Alice and there's Maisie, Archie, Ruaridh etc etc - then she points at a wee girl with bunchies beside the other class teacher (they have two to keep the teacher pupil ratio down to 1 to 14) and tells me that's Magdalena. She moves along the line by about five kids and says that's Magdalena again. There are two Magdalenas in one class? I didn't think it was the commonest of names, then on closer examination it appears Magdalena and Magdalena are identical twins no less! Suddenly the penny drops - she has been photographed in two separate groups! Hahaha - now there's a silly cock-up if ever I saw one! I wonder if her family has bought it figuring they are getting twice as much for their money, or if they would find that a tad too odd on the wall!
It might be a bit like that shot I made of Anna and Léon a year or so ago that totally confused them!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Things took a turn for the better when Appliances Online rang to explain they couldn't supply the one we'd ordered so would we accept a free upgrade with the same delivery slot? That's the kind of luck that has recently been bypassing our family so we were well pleased.
On Monday night Thomas told me we'd had a text saying we'd be notified the next day when it would arrive. The phone rang on my side of the bed just before 7am. When you've had a terminally ill relative in your family for nearly two years and another who had a stroke in the middle of the night last year, phones ringing at 7am are never quite the same again. I went from sound asleep to cold panic in an instant. In pitch darkness, so I couldn't tell if it was 7am or indeed 4am, I grabbed for it thinking 'Who?' 'What?' 'OMG'. There was a click and that silent pause that meant a machine was about to talk to me. It got out the words 'We have important information about...' before I slammed it down indignantly. 'Cold calling in the middle of the night, what the fuck!? This is outrageous! I can't believe they'd do that to people at this time! Where can I complain???' Slowly coming round, Thomas looked at me like I had two heads. 'So when is it being delivered?' he tentatively inquired. 'When's what being... oh shit!?' I replied sheepishly, realizing I'd just hung up on the tumble drier people who we were actually expecting to call.
Oops! What a silly start to the day!
For example, at university six of us formed an inseparable group and although we have found ourselves living in different countries we know everything going on in each others' lives because we bump into each other every other day on Facebook - that never happened before we joined - we'd meet up once or twice a year for a catch-up and that wasn't nearly as satisfactory. In fact of that group only one stubbornly remains on the outside (you know who you are!!!!) and we frustratingly only get to see her two or three times a year. These meet-ups are now often spent trying to get her on board. I hope we manage one day because we miss her!
I imagine that the team behind Facebook's invention and implementation however are late twenties or early thirties. They belong to that idyllic era of one's life before friends and family of your own generation begin to die of natural causes. I say that because they have not found a way to deal with death on Facebook. I have four dead friends and family members now in my friends group. You don't unfriend them because they are your friend, still in your thoughts and heart daily. Sometimes you can even draw comfort from clicking onto their page, looking at old photos and seeing things they wrote. You don't want their account closed down because that would be a bit like tossing their letters to you and their diary into the bin. But Facebook generates suggestions that are inappropriate because the people are not marked in any way differently from those who are alive. Last week I was asked if I wanted to ask Sheina to play 'Bejeweled Blitz' (a facebook game) against me, this week I was asked to send her friend suggestions as she had fewer contacts than many of my friends. I think as time goes on and more and more users die, they will be forced to come up with a more satisfactory model, but I'm not sure what form that will or should take...
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tomorrow she has her settling-in visit at Hazeldene. I know she'll love it (just as her older siblings did before her) and she's in great hands, given it is one of very few nurseries in Scotland to achieve a full house of excellents in its HMI report but I can't imagine having no kids at home every morning, even if it does finally give me time to work more humane hours, rather than fitting everything I do into the evenings.
But she'll always be my baby, however big and independent she gets!
I'll never remember how I made this as I kind of made it up as I went along, so for my future reference:
- 115g butter
- 115g dark sugar
- 4 bananas (3 mashed, 1 chopped)
- 150g raisins
- 230g Self Raising Flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon cinammon
Monday, November 26, 2012
I recently went to Toys R Us to pick up a Xmas present for Anna from my mother. As it was only reserved, not paid for on the Internet you still had to take it through the check-out. In front of me in the queue was a couple with a sleeping toddler in a buggy. He looked to be the same size as Amaia, maybe two and a half, definitely under three. They were discussing how pleased they were that he had not woken up to see what they were buying him. Their trolley contained, amongst other things - several leapfrog reading devices and books, everything ever made branded Fireman Sam (dressing-up costumes, a beanbag, one metre tall cuddly toys, fire hats, tools etc), a scooter, a quad bike, a plastic ride-on motorbike, some drawing materials, a Tonka-type truck, Bob the Builder tools and trucks, a ball, etc. The final bill came to £481. The cherub continued to snooze while his parents (who I might add looked more like they'd come in a rusty old Ford than their own personal Porsche) continued to congratulate themselves on how pleased wee Lewis would be on Xmas morning. I don't know but I felt poor wee Lewis would possibly be lost, trapped or even potentially suffocated under this pile on Xmas morning and if his parents were going to try to better this every year or with any subsequent siblings, they looked like they'd need to rob a bank.
When I told Thomas about it, he summed it up with 'If you're starting to spend too much money, then you are starting to get it wrong.' Personally, I intend to spend less than a quarter of Lewis's haul on all five of my kids, there's a recession on, but they will be happy, feel loved and special because I will put a great deal of thought and love into everything I choose for them. And better still they will not be overwhelmed and ungrateful at the end of the day.
Chili and sea salt rooster potato wedges
This recipe used to be on the rooster potato website but it looks like it's been deleted so I'll note it down in case I forget it..
- 6 Rooster Potatoes
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 basil leaves
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C
- Clean the potatoes and cut into 8 even wedges.
- Simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
- Place on a oiled baking tray, brush with olive oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until crispy.
- Make dressing by blending the garlic, basil, oil, salt and chili until smooth.
- Drizzle over potatoes.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Of course, the same can't always be said of the conscious version. When awake, she can also show her autonomous personality, as she did a few days ago when she found the pack of eighteen doughnuts I had bought for the kids coming home from school!
Monday, November 19, 2012
I decided to print out some old photos of the kids for the wall. I found this sweet one of Marcel and Charlotte taken in the summer of 2002. Léon saw it when I was putting it up and came out with the kind of logic only he could come up with 'So that's Marcel and Lots? Wow, I never knew they used to be twins before they were brother and sister!' They do look quite alike in it now he comes to mention it, and because they're legs are cut off you can't see Marcel is sitting and Charlotte standing, but I'm not sure how he thought they changed in age difference over time.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Our Ikea Amaryllis has just opened.
I was just thinking Amaryllis is a bit like a more colourful version of a Phyllis name! I think when I was busy feeling sorry for myself in the 70s saddled with a granny name I'd probably have quite liked to be called something exotic like Amaryllis! ;-)
Thursday, November 15, 2012
When I had my first baby in 1997, I was a bit new to kids to say the least. I don't think I'd seen a baby since my brother was born in 1971. I joined the QMH breast feeding group to make some friends and met a small group of three - Cynthia, Siobhan and Karen who were to become my breast friends - lifelong dear friends I'd trust with my deepest heartaches and my greatest joys.
Recently I remembered with great fondness one specific occurrence... When the babies were all little - as in this picture - big enough to sit but not to run away, Cynthia (left in this photo), the American member of our group would occasionally read to them. A great favourite was Dr Seuss's Too Many Daves. I don't know if it was her accent or just the wonderful way she read it but she always had the babies in stitches reading it. I wish I'd had a smart phone back then, because if I had I would definitely have filmed it for posterity. I remember Marcel always used to chuckle at the way she said 'Moon Face'. Anyway, I decided tonight to see if I could achieve the same effect. I took out my Dave book and read it to Anna and Amaia sitting together on a chair. They looked at me completely blank! I don't know where I went wrong but I just don't seem to have Cynthia's charm!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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When I lived in France in 1987-1988, I shared a flat with a German girl. Given I spoke German and she spoke English, we decided that because we were in France to improve our French we would speak to each other in French when we were in France (which of course was the majority of our year together), in German whenever we crossed the border into Germany, which we did on a dozen or so occasions, and English if we came to Scotland, which we did once. At the time I had already had a French partner for two years so was very used to speaking French, whereas she had learned more from books. I therefore knew that the French pronounced oignon /ɔɲɔ̃/ and not /waɲɔ̃/ as you might expect from the spelling, but my flatmate stubbornly refused to pronounce it properly, even when the French people all around her were constantly correcting her!
We often used to drive from the Vosges to the Doubs on weekends, where my partner lived at the time. We passed through a tiny village just south of Vesoul called Ognon /ɔɲɔ̃/. I used to wind her up commenting it was called the same as the vegetable, she used to growl back that the pronunciation was different. We agreed to disagree, though I smugly knew I was right!
I stumbled upon the French spelling reform on wikipedia recently. Oignon has officially been changed to ognon to reflect its pronunciation! I wonder what my old flatmate has to say about that, given she now lives in France! If I had some spare cash I'd be tempted to go on a wee holiday to the east of France and send her a postcard from Ognon as an 'I told you so!' :-)
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
We've always thought that starting them cooking at a young age makes them into competent independent young people and of course gets cooking into their routine before they reach the blasé, teenage 'I can't be bothered' stage. Marcel already cooks better than me and can happily feed a dozen people. Charlotte isn't quite as keen but can do Mexican things, pasta, rice, pie and potatoes, fish and chips etc so is self-sufficient. The wee ones are starting simple. Anna peels and chops veg and oven bakes them with chicken and similar. Léon makes mainly pasta dishes.
Tonight Anna let me in on her cunning plan: 'Next time I'm on cooking mum I'm going to make fish and chips. But I'm not going to make it. I'm going to go to that wee shop near ASDA with the pizza oven because when you go in there and ask for fish and chips they just make it for you and give you it in a box. That's much easier!'
I think she's missing the point of our cooking lessons!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
I'm not overly good with plants - a trait I get from my mum! I leave plants (indoor and out) to my other half, I just weed.
Amanda gave me this plant a wee while back. I figured it'd be dead in days but I can only assume it is indestructible because it has not only grown beautiful flowers on the ends of each of its arms, it has even grown extra flowers at the end of some of its flowers!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Yesterday Thomas decided to recreate trifle using his knowledge of how it tastes! That doesn't sound too difficult, but a few problems arose. Firstly he chose a large, shallow, flat dish so when he put in the lady fingers he covered the entire bottom so used about three times as many as I would recommend. That of course meant that as soon as he poured on the unset jelly, the extra lady fingers sucked it all up instantly and you couldn't actually see there was any jelly at all! Next, because raspberries had been too expensive he sliced a banana on top of the jelly but given there was no more jelly the slices just sat there on top of the soggy fingers, turning brown. In an attempt to save the banana's colour, he poured on custard straight away, but not thick, set homemade stuff, runny custard from a box which did at least manage to save the bananas. Given the jelly still hadn't set, it managed somehow to draw a little of the jelly back out of the fingers causing a strange pink and yellow marbling in the dish. An hour later, he whipped some cream and grated on some chocolate and the final dessert looked and tasted nice, and even vaguely trifley but I think it did come across as a rather foreign trifle!
Thursday, November 08, 2012
My name is NOT Mrs Gautier!
If approximately 30% of UK marriages end in divorce, and 50% of Scottish children are born to unmarried parents, then why does everyone and their uncle assume a woman has the same surname as her child? It drives me batty. I went through three years of a very acrimonious divorce to NOT be called Mrs Gautier. It cost me a fortune to NOT be called Mrs Gautier. I have spent the best part of the last seven years being dragged down by everything to do with my ex. And given half of the Gautier family has disowned even my kids, it is beginning to get seriously on my nerves.
So woe betide you if you are the next person to call me Mrs Gautier!
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Recently Amaia has started to go down the same route. If she eats too slowly and her meal cools down too much we get her famous 'I just can't like cold rice!' and she does everything in her power to make us heat it till it is piping hot so she can continue to enjoy it.
Tonight Anna hopped into bed and said 'soon I'll be fast asleep...' then she paused and came out with 'fast - now what exactly is the meaning of fast in this phrase, it's obviously nothing to do with speed, so does fast have some other meaning in this context?' OMG - she's only four, if she talks to the other kids in the school playground like that, they'll run a mile!
We've created a monster! ;-)
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Friday, November 02, 2012
Marcel has been attending the local orthodontist since January 2010. His mouth is way too small to contain all 28 adult teeth so he needed the four that had grown inside the outer ring of teeth removed and the rest realigned. He also had no overbite so they have been working on that too.
Charlotte's mouth is almost a third wider to look at so at least she wasn't going to cause any problems... Then when her upper right cuspid came through last year it was completely out of line with her other teeth (as you can see on this photo). The dentist suggested a small spring could be placed behind it to push it back in line. He sent her to the orthodontist to check his hunch.
In we went yesterday morning. I joked that at least she'd be a small issue in comparison with her brother. The orthodontist had a look and confirmed it was a tiny job. Then he pointed out that one of her bicuspids was still a milk tooth so nothing could be done till that fell out, suddenly he looked concerned, eyeing her high school uniform. She's very old to have milk bicuspids, he commented, noticing she still had all four. Then he explained that they could just speed the whole thing up by extracting them. He sent her for an X-ray with his nurse. We're just checking how close the adult tooth is to pushing it out itself, he explained. There is a rare inherited genetic condition that leads to the odd adult tooth being missing, he added - 2% of the population are missing one adult tooth. Less than 0.5% are missing more than one though, he explained. Charlotte's X-ray was transmitted to his computer... He brought it up. He started to look worried. I looked at it with him. I couldn't see any teeth in her gums, but I'm not exactly a dentist, am I?
Oh! Charlotte is missing all four adult bicuspids, he pointed out, surprised.
Is nothing this year going to be simple?
So he talked me through the options. We try to look after her four baby bicuspids in the hope they'll last a lifetime. Built to last eight years, keep them eighty? Sounds unlikely... With a lot of care they have been known to last into a person's forties, he told me. Or the four baby teeth can be removed leaving four large gaps in her very large mouth and then they can try moving all her back teeth forward to fill the gaps, copying Marcel's treatment! How ironic is that? Marcel needed teeth out because he has no space, Charlotte is missing the same four but has lots of space. Oh and to cap the problems, the NHS is cutting back orthodontistry because of the recession so they have warned me Charlotte's application might be rejected simply because of lack of funding, leaving Marcel with beautiful teeth and Charlotte, who has perfect teeth but a genetic defect with potential gaps everywhere.
So my kid is some kind of genetic anomaly. And I guess that means I also have three other potential future mutants to deal with. Stress!
Thursday, November 01, 2012
We noticed it first on Sunday. Derek and Amanda had invited the kids in for some Halloween fun. Getting into the spirit Thomas wanted some vampire teeth. Lots didn't have a costume either. We left an hour early and went into Glasgow centre. None of the shops were still selling Halloween goods. It was 28th October. After half an hour in Sauchiehall street we threw in the towel and Thomas went in just a cape (he had from last year) and Lots went in her jeans and t-shirt.
The big supermarkets, I discovered today still had things but at 10am had instated a near giveaway sale in a panic to get rid of everything. I bought these two costumes (the bat and the skeleton) for Léon and Anna at £1 each! Still - it was nine hours before kids needed them so why did Tesco think it needed to slash everything by 90%?
After school Lots wanted to go to Matalan. There, I was even more gobsmacked. As we walked in (at 4pm) the woman on the door asked 'Can I interest you in these Halloween things, we're giving them away free, we'll never sell them now?!' I looked down and came face to face with the tablecloth (pictured), the cardboard cake stand (also pictured) and several bags of chocolate pumpkin sweets (slightly obscured by the bat suit). Each had an original tag of £1. So I left Matalan with £5 of goods free of charge!
What is the big rush? I can see why everything would be heavily discounted or free tomorrow but why today? And what made the big Glasgow shops believe on October 28th, that they needed to ditch all their Halloween costumes in favour of Xmas decorations!? No one wants Xmas stuff yet, and if they do there's the Internet, but for last minute panic buyers, the Internet doesn't work.
It really is quite mad. If we don't get all our Xmas decorations in the next ten days, we'll need to watch out, the Easter eggs will be in already!