Thursday, February 28, 2013
Much as I still feel like grumping a little about that, I have learned from living with a positive and dynamic man whose glass is almost always half full, so I will endeavour to pick a positive point about our wedding anniversary to blog each year instead of moaning. Sometimes it might be something that made me happy, something that made me laugh, or simply the fact that I got my man in the end, even if the road was a bit twistier than I'd have liked.
So what will I choose to be my first positive point? It has to be the cake top, doesn't it? Thomas decided he could sculpt us out of marzipan. The day before the wedding he asked me the colour of my dress. I had no idea why he needed to know - but it all became clear when the cake was unveiled! The kilt is cute as hell and we're very cuddly looking, if a tad shorter and more overweight than in real life. But mostly I loved it because it was so imperfect. It was handmade by him for us and no shop-bought wonder would have been half as cute and lovable!
Lots then surprised me with the comment: 'It was amazing that both our dresses had the same pattern despite us buying them in two different shops'. (Mine was from M&S, hers Next). You know I hadn't noticed! I didn't notice on the day and in four years of looking at the photos it never once jumped out at me. I guess nine year old girls are sometimes more observant than 41 year old ones!
This month I have been working on what has to be one of the most fun projects I have had in years - translating children's books from Danish to English for a Danish university. One of the books I had to translate was Mirakelkuren - en monstersaga, Finally! The mystery is solved - at least for my Danish-speaking friends. Maybe I could get the rights to my translation so I can publish it here and let you all in on the secret of where the socks go! ;-)
The thing is - when do you celebrate your birthday in the years when you don't have one? March feels wrong because it isn't even the right month. But your birthday is the day after Feb 28 so today feels wrong too. I can imagine as an adult coming to love how special that is. I can also imagine in my forties how nice it'd be not to have an official day every year when I age! But how you cope with that as a child, when your whole focus is on it, is beyond me! Anyway I hope my wee 8/33 year old niece has a lovely day today, tomorrow, around midnight or whenever it feels right!
Anna announced yesterday that she'd like contact lenses because 'it is a shame to wear glasses when you have pretty eyes'. I am more than surprised she's even heard of contacts at the ripe old age of five. This child is going to be an expensive one, I fear.
Since Léon got his first glasses back in 2010 I feel like I've been accumulating specs. My bedside cabinet is bursting with glasses cases. I have Léon's old Mr Tickle ones, two other old ones of Léon's that are no longer his current prescription, my own first reading glasses and my own first reading sunglasses. Given I have many spares with the correct prescription lenses, none of these are worth keeping. Does anyone know of any charities that need old specs?
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Picture the scene. Lots is five (pictured above). We've gone shopping in East Kilbride and I have been dragging her round clothing shops looking for new clothes for all the kids. (At this point that meant Marcel (8) and Léon (newborn). She is getting bored as I look through rails of stuff in both Next and then Primark. The place is mobbed. Losing her focus on what I am doing she starts to dance around one of those square mirrored pillars making funny faces at herself. I am a good five metres away but she's fully in my line of vision so I am unconcerned. I see her singing and laughing at her reflection when suddenly she stops aghast. Once or twice she opens her mouth as if to burst into song and then it comes... that moment every parent dreads - you know - when you wish you hadn't taught your child to speak! Across the shop, past the grannies, workers and other children my five year old shouts at the top of her lungs 'Muuuuuummy! I've got a penis in my mouth!' Time seems to stand still as I try to imagine what she can possibly have said because of course it sounded like 'Muuuuuummy! I've got a penis in my mouth!' but she's five, so I must simply have misheard her. Everyone stops and silence descends. And then, because I have not replied, or manoeuvred myself and my newborn in a pram across to her quickly enough she shouts even louder 'Mummy, come and look! There's a penis in my mouth!!!' WTF!? I rush over as she repeats it several times more. As I get to her a large crowd has formed. She's completely oblivious but proudly opens her mouth wide, saying 'aahhh' and points to her uvula announcing - 'Look, a tiny penis hanging at the back of my mouth, it looks just like Léon's!' I'm not sure I've ever been back to EK since - too embarrassed!
Who'd be a parent?????
At the weekend I was recounting an old story from when Charlotte was five to Derek when it suddenly occurred to me that there is a wealth of unblogged material out there for days when I feel nostalgic or simply need a laugh.
So I might idle away the odd hour recounting them here for posterity, starting perhaps with that very story...
Watch this space...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Léon's are still the oddest - they mix blue, green and yellow. Where did I get a son with yellow in his eyes? Lots of course is more or less the same as Marcel, though much paler and Anna like Amaia has two odd eyes, though hers are even more obviously different. One is almost brown, the other dark green. I need to try to take an up-to-date photo of her without her glasses, as you only notice it when she isn't wearing them. That can be my next project.
In some lights, because Amaia's hair and skin are so light and yet her eyes are quite dark, I swear she looks like one of those Victorian porcelain dolls - or rather she would, if she grew slightly more hair!
Léon proudly donned his Beaver suit, as he calls it.
Thomas has always been quite keen, in a Scandinavian kind of way, to have Anna go to Beavers with Léon once she's old enough, as it is open to both sexes, rather than send her to Rainbows or Sunbeams as they are all female. I don't particularly care but always suspected a princessy type of girl like Anna would be horrified to be one of the token girls in a predominantly male Beaver troop, when there was a girlie alternative. I also figured Thomas wouldn't stand a chance after Friday as she'd see all her wee pals in Sunbeam suits.
So as Léon got ready for Beavers last night I asked: Anna would you like to go to Beavers or Sunbeams? Anna thought for a moment and replied very seriously: I think I'd rather go to Sunbeams - I'm not sure I really always like boys - they can be a wee bit windy-up at times!
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
This new one makes me think of my granny. Together we used to pick flowers and leaves and press them in big, old musty-smelling books. We had dozens, all done between my sixth or seventh birthday and me reaching ten. I was particularly fond of the ferns I had pressed as a child.
I wish I'd kept it when she died but I assume my old Gramps threw them all out at the time. At sixteen I was too obsessed by Abba, boys, make-up or even my French and German books to give my old childhood flowers a second thought :-( Maybe I'll do some with my kids this summer, before their interests disappear off in other directions. (Or in one direction, in Charlotte's case!)
Monday, February 18, 2013
But I bet you're laughing. You never thought you'd hear a grumpy old atheist like me lamenting my long-lost, beloved Church of Denmark manse! (I'm still surprised to this day I was never struck by lightning sleeping in it, especially before my divorce had come through ;-) )
I've said it often but every new day brings a further example of Charlotte's devotion to her baby sister and Amaia's complete trust and need of second mummy. Yesterday when she fell asleep in the car, there was no question in Lots's mind about who should carry the sleepy lump into bed, and of course after half-opening one eye to check who she was with Amaia totally flopped into cuddly submission on her shoulder.
I was going to link to his blog of the recipe but I just realized it's in Danish. In fact, given some of the machine-translated nonsense I have had to deal with copy-editing recently, why don't you just run it through google-translate yourself? You'll either end up with a great recipe or at the very least a good laugh!
I innocently popped one in my mouth. It was unimaginably vile... hot and salty, it caught the back of your throat and made you gag. It was on a par (I imagine) with drinking someone else's vomit. In fact, it was a bit like taking a spoonful of porridge, expecting it to be warm and sweet, without realizing your old Gramps prefers to make his with copious amounts of salt.
I'm not a fussy eater. I eat everything. I have even manged to eat andouillette once in my life when I was served it at a French friend's house (sorry Lydie, but it was vile!) without throwing up, but Danish salt liquorice is a step beyond edible. The piece in my mouth was 4cm long and at least 1cm thick but given there was no bin available, and no hankies to spit it in, I decided swallowing it whole and learning my lesson, was the only way forward.
I will never ever let a piece cross my lips again as long as I live.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Unfortunately my advancing years are catching up with me. As of last week I am now officially closer to fifty than forty and that plays havoc with your mind. I have about as much desire to rush towards fifty as I do to learn to juggle. I'd rather rush towards, say, twenty-five. And ironically with my newly-found advancing years, I find myself forced to learn to juggle after all :-( You see this week's work involves testing a newly-written dictionary on Kindle before its release. As I go along I am writing my report. I need my reading glasses (the ones I have on above) for reading the Kindle, and my computing glasses (on my head in the photo) for writing my report. So I've had to learn one-handed spectacle-juggling while simultaneously reading, writing and working.
Maybe I should run away and join a circus too? There just that minor problem of the coulrophobia.
Monday, February 11, 2013
- Do 30 hours of translating (books and teaching materials - Danish -> English)
- Tutor Marcel five hours
- Tutor my friend's son for his INT2 French prelim two-three hours
- Wash Thomas's car, valet the inside
- Weed the garden
- Take garden rubbish to the dump
- Read the three novels by my bed (2 English, 1 German)
- See my sister-in-law for coffee
- Meet up with an old friend I haven't seen for twenty years for coffee too
- Wash 7 washing baskets of clothes/dry them/put them away
- Spring clean the small kids' room and take all broken toys to the dump
- Gut TV room, living room, dining room, kitchen, porch, front hall and downstairs bathroom
- Prepare a birthday dinner and cake for Thomas coming home
- Visit mum for dinner
- Do a 1000 piece jigsaw with Charlotte
- Blog every day
- Print out new photos for the frame the kids bought me last week on my birthday
- Take up my trousers
- Wash all the floors
- Do something to keep fit - maybe cycle every day
- Danish - tick
- Marcel - 4 hours still to do
- Friend's child - done half an hour
- Thomas's car - nope
- Weeding - nope
- Garden rubbish - nope
- Novels - Half way through the German one
- Sister-in-law - on tomorrow's potential list
- Old friend - tick
- 7 washings - 2 done, 5 to go, nothing put away
- Kids' room - toy boxes emptied on the floor, looks like Armageddon
- Room-gutting - Does the downstairs bathroom count? I even washed the box of bath toys out?!
- Cake making - On Weds' to-do list
- Visit mum - on tomorrow's to-do list
- Jigsaw - nope
- Blog - no more than usual
- Photo printing - I've done 5/9
- Trousers - nope
- Floors - nope
- Keep-fit - nope
Saturday, February 09, 2013
As a baby of the 60s in Glasgow, I had been bottle-fed. I was 29 and pregnant and had never seen anyone breastfeed in my life. I decided to give it a try anyway, partly inspired by the Scandinavian model. I didn't find it all that easy at first but I'm a stubborn bitch so I persevered. I'd been told that you didn't need to wean babies off the breast because one day they'd stop feeding. So I waited and waited and at two, when I was pregnant with Charlotte I finally looked up how to wean Marcel, because he didn't seem to have read that chapter of the book! So I went into it intending to feed my kids for three to six months and did each of them for two years. I worked full-time back than but I determined that if he'd not had formula, he wasn't getting any as I'm not a fan of the stuff. Of course that then set a precedent. I couldn't favour one child over the others so if one had been breastfed two years, five would need to be breastfed two years. If one had not had formula, five would need to not have formula. But basically it all went back to those Scandinavian examples.
I'm quite a laid-back, easy-going person. In fact I've only been referred to as militant in two contexts in my life 'Here comes the militant breast-feeder!' and (in front of my religious family-in-law (oops)) 'Just because you're a militant atheist dear!' - (Maybe not the best time to call me that, Thomas! ;-)) Anyway as you can imagine, if you breastfeed for ten years, you have a lot of experience of different situations. I've breastfed in different countries - on top of the Eiffel Tower, in the restaurant at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia in the biting cold, the US (up the Empire State Building and on top of the Rockefeller center - I'm an experienced altitude breastfeeder!!) etc I've done it on buses, planes, trains, restaurants, you name it. I figured one day I would have a show down with some ignorant person who found nourishing a tiny, helpless infant offensive so was always ready with my arguments but was pleasantly surprised. People actually came and talked to me. Grannies came over and reminisced about their children but mostly people didn't even notice. No one complained, tutted, sighed or rolled their eyeballs once in ten years.
Fast-forward to last week. Thomas is going home to Denmark for a week, meeting some old friends, checking out some business contacts. He used to be quite active in politics over there (surprise, surprise) and he's meeting up with three girls from his old party for lunch. Now here's the bit that made me fall off my seat in disgust and shock. The conversation went something like 'what about that café?', 'no we can't go there X has a newborn and might need to feed it and they don't allow breastfeeding there' 'what about that other one round the corner?' 'No I was thrown out of there for breastfeeding my baby a few years back' etc, etc. When exactly did Denmark turn into some backwards looking puritanical state? It's a sad day when nowhere in Scotland complains but you can't feed your newborn in public in Scandinavia without being prepared to fight. I was completely appalled. Thomas even pointed me to this article which had me spitting with rage.
Why are Danish women allowing this to happen? Breastfeeding becomes the norm when five year olds pick up their plastic dolls and stick them up their jumpers because that is what they are used to seeing. Even my boys did that! In fact I have a sweet video of Marcel breasfeeding Lots at the tender age of 2.5 but I'm keeping that for uploading on his 18th birthday!!!! Breastfeeding shouldn't shock. Don't let your daughters reach the age of 29 thinking breastfeeding is too offensive to do in public. I can't tell you how upsetting I find this. You may argue that that is a minority case but it shouldn't happen at all. You're feeding a baby not lap-dancing in public.
Friday, February 08, 2013
Music meant everything to dad. One of the things I've been finding hardest over the past nine months is listening to songs I know meant something to him. But as time goes on a surprisingly difficult thing to deal with is hearing a new song or a new artist that I just know he would have loved to hear. I've heard this on the radio twice in the last week and I can tell he would have liked it.
Monday, February 04, 2013
Danes have this odd notion that the weather on your birthday reflects your behaviour over the previous twelve months. For a start if you live in a climate like Scotland, that doesn't do much for your self esteem. Worse still, if you have the misfortune of having been born in the depths of winter, you just know you're going to get a 'fail' on your behaviour report card!
So let's analyse my own results... I woke up to darkness, despite the fact that I didn't get up till eight this morning. The temperature was 2°C. Wind was blowing bins up the street and in the course of the first hour we had rain, wind, hail, snow, black sky, white sky, blue sky. This pattern repeated at twenty minute intervals for the remainder of the daylight hours.
At 7pm we had a school meeting up at Mearns Castle. Mearns Castle is possibly the highest point in Newton Mearns. The car park was slippery. Shards of frozen ice cut into us as we tried to cross it. Thomas had to hold my hand because I was being blown backwards across the icy path and by the time we got home it was snowing heavily.
So what would a Dane make of my year? Was I a twisted, volatile, evil bitch suffering the mood swing of middle age already? Of course there were ten minutes of sun and blue sky all-in, so perhaps there's a glimmer of hope for me yet?
I'm determined to spend at least one birthday in the southern hemisphere so I can feel better about myself!
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Anna: Mummy, why are there fewer days in February than in any other month?
Me: Well February used to be the last month of the year so it is shorter than the others and that's why they sometimes add an extra day, they used to add it on to the end of the year...
Anna: (walking away) Oh I see... January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, February. January, March... right!
Friday, February 01, 2013
I've needed glasses for reading since I turned 41 - or rather I can read without them but it's tiring so I use them if they are lying about! I got the ones above first. They were comfy and nice to wear but Thomas secretly hates them, complaining the frames are too heavy and hide my eyes. So when I went back to get replacements in autumn I went for lighter ones which I also prefer to look at but, and it's a huge but... they are driving me insane. You see, not being used to glasses and only wearing them a tenth of the day (because I don't use them on the computer, just for reading my phone and books), I tend to push up onto my head when I am not using them. The problem with that is that my big brown ones didn't have those little nose clips that I have found out since getting my new ones get caught up in long hair to the point you actually need to cut them out several times a day! I'm afraid I am going to have give in and accept that I can't use glasses with the little nose bits until my sight degenerates to the point of wearing them all the time, however unattractive that might make me to my other half!!!