Monday, 31 December 2007


It's two hours before midnight so it seemed appropriate to have a quick look back at the last year. (It's either that or succumb to Second Born's pleas to watch him balancing on the exercise ball. Again.)

This has been an interesting year and pretty good in many ways. I am about 3 stone lighter now than I was at the end of 2006. Unfortunately I am now about 7 pounds heavier than I was at the end of October, but we will gloss over that. Last year I could barely run for a mile without keeling over. Now I can run 6km (that's about 3.5 miles in old money). I still keel over but I am further away from home when I do it.

I ran a real honest-to-goodness race in public for the first time in 2007, a week after I turned 40. I am still not sure which was more traumatic. I also ran two races against my 7 year old son and he beat me hollow in both. I couldn't have been more pleased. I then used this public drubbing to raise money for charity, for which I was rewarded with........further publicising my humiliation on radio and TV. (Well, I wasn't really on TV - you can only see me a couple of times. I now know who Shayne Ward is though!)

And last but not least I discovered the wonderful world of blogging, first reading them and then taking the plunge and writing them. Thanks to the strange intimacy of blogs I now feel like I know dozens of complete strangers around the world. I am on tenterhooks, waiting to hear news of the births of children I will never meet (can't send enough congratulations to Julia!) , celebrating new jobs for people I would not recognise in the street and occasionally weeping at the sad news of people who are, in real life, complete strangers. They don't feel like strangers though and that is what I love about blogs. They give one an insight into other people's lives and experiences and that feels like a rare privilege. Life would feel less rich, now, without them.

So thank you to everyone who blogs, not for money or recognition, but just because it is rewarding to write and extraordingarily exciting to know people are reading. And especially thanks to Isabelle and K, both for their writing, which I love, and for being brave enough to meet me earlier today for coffee. It was just brilliant to meet these two in real life and I could have talked to them all day (especially as we were discussing Shauna's book. My copy arrived, all shiny and luscious, from Amazon this morning and Isabelle was going off to hunt it down in Waterstone's). They even seemed to forgive me for suggesting we meet in a coffee shop which was (1) right in the centre of Edinburgh on Hogmanay, when the town was absolutely heaving with people and (2) closed. Since November. At least now they'll believe me when I blog about my complete lack of organisational skills!

Well, I think I had better stop there as Second Born has just bounced off the ball alarmingly close to the Christmas tree. It is still our only Christmas decoration and I'd hate to lose it to a freak exercise ball accident less than 2 hours before the New Year. Happy Hogmanay to everyone.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

It comes to us all eventually

You know you are definitely getting on a bit when after getting out of the shower, you find your first grey hair. On your leg. Not that that has happened to me. Necessarily.

Friday, 28 December 2007

I'll be alright in a minute, honest

I am feeling a little faint still, I must confess. Better than I was feeling earlier this afternoon though, obviously. It takes a little while for the effects of an experience that traumatic to wear off. The children, ironically, are showing no after-effects at all.

I have been to Toys R Us. A couple of days after Christmas. It was......not relaxing. The boys had both been given a gift card for Christmas and were desparate to spend it. (I am actually impressed they managed to last from Tuesday to Friday without exploding due to the anticipation.) The car park was, as expected, absolutely heaving and we had to drive round a bit to get a space. There were crowds of people EVERYWHERE. They appeared to be getting bodies into Marks & Spencer with the aid of a crowbar. Not being a recreational shopper, I find it hard to understand why people want to spend their precious days off fighting their way round shops a scant few days after they have completed the most intensive bout of shopping of the year. I would happily not go near a shop until March, left to my own devices.

Anyway, we got into Toys R Us (is it just me, or is that shop just permanently....grubby?) and the boys went into stimulation overload. The sheer amount of coloured branded plastic on offer was almost too much to cope with. They ran around from the Dr Who display to the Lego to the Star Wars figures to the Lego Star Wars stuff and back again about, oh, several hundred times. All the while, approximately eleventy dozen other children (mostly boys, interestingly) were doing exactly the same, feverishly clutching their Christmas money. First Born had to be dissuaded from buying yet another plastic laser gun that goes "Wheedle-eeedle-eedle-ooo!" at precisely the pitch to make you want to pack your ears with Polyfilla.

Amazingly, Second Born decided there wasn't anything he really wanted - he spent a few pounds on a Lego model kit but left with the bulk of his gift card intact. Even First Born didn't spend his entire allowance. He bought a Darth Vader figure and a laser screwdriver (the Master's one from Dr Who if you're interested) and more Lego, but he summoned the necessary inner strength to leave with £5 unspent. Believe me, that is a first. And on a positive note, I don't have girls so I didn't have to brave the Pink Aisles. The ones that are so brightly, aggresively cerise that from a distance they seem to pulsate slightly. They scare me a bit.

We then negotiated the car park again, sat in queues of traffic (have I told you how much I hate sitting in traffic?) and got home through absolutely torrential rain and a bit of localised flash flooding. The boys liked this last bit - the water was deep enough that cars going past us were spraying water right up over our car's roof. Very exciting. So we have yet more cardboard to dispose of, more Lego to add to the three hundredweight we already had and First Born has another piece of battery-powered plastic that lights up and goes "Wheeeeeeeee!"

Tomorrow, I plan to go for a run to try to atone for the remains of the box of Lindor I have just polished off whilst reading blogs and watching TV. Unless it's raining again. I'm not feeling that guilty.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Santa was good to me

Well, our Christmas went pretty well, all things considered. The children didn't get up until 7am to check out their stockings (which I had managed to get in and fill, undetected, just before midnight) and they kindly then went back to bed for a wee while. Their stockings contained, amongst other things, a kazoo and a swany whistle. Extra credit to anyone who can identify, from that information, to which show we have successfully addicted our children. We are very proud.

My father in law was through from Troon staying with us, and it was really nice to have him here. He has been a bit unwell and in fact this time last year was in hospital, so we are grateful he is out and back home. The slight downside has been that his medication makes him a little more drowsy and lethargic than he used to be, and he needs to sleep more. We managed to keep the children under control, told him to go for a nap whenever he needed to and he seemed to really enjoy his stay, despite not much happening. I think they are trying to reduce the amount of drugs he has to take so fingers crossed he may improve even more.

On Christmas morning I had felt a cold coming on so had taken some precautionary cold medication - you know, that stuff that dries up all the fluids in your body, including all fluid in your brain? This led to my normally pretty sound ability to get all of the elements of a meal ready and on the table at the same time completely deserting me. In my slightly befuddled state I decided that it would take more time to cook carrots than to roast potatoes. Not even close. So everyone had to wait a bit while the tatties caught up with everything else. It all came out okay though (at least, all 9 people round the table ate plenty of everything and no-one died!) And I got to pinch the extra chipolatas which are my favourite part of the Christmas lunch, bar none. In fact I think I enjoy picking at the food before and after the meal more than eating the lunch itself!

Christmas puddings were provided by the son of a good friend of mine who happens to be a chef (the son, not the friend) and they were just fabulous: boozy and sweet and not too rich. I texted my friend with my thanks and a request to adopt her son. He's 33, but I will overlook that if he continues to make me Christmas puddings. They were that good.

We rounded off Christmas day by going out for a walk in the biting cold and frost. We played "Spot the most garish Christmas lights" and took my FIL round the corner to a spot where he could try calling for his cat. When he was admitted to hospital at the end of 2006 we initially arranged for one of his neighbours to go in and feed his cat. However as it became clear that FIL would be in hospital for some time, we had to do something about Towser, so my sister-in-law (who lives opposite us) brought the cat through to live with her. Unfortunately, Towser got out and vanished. We tried all the usual searches, contacted all the authorities, put up posters and so on, to no avail. We had a couple of reported sightings nearby - a lady who feeds various stray cats was positive she had seen him - but they didn't come to anything.

We doubted there was any chance whatsoever that Towser was still around but FIL really wanted to go and look, so we took him round the area, with him whistling and calling all the way. It was a bit sad and my SIL was quite upset as she naturally feels particularly bad that Towser escaped "on her watch". It wasn't her fault but she can't help feeling guilty. Whilst it was a bit of a painful experience, at least FIL seems to have accepted now that Towser has found himself another berth and is even talking about getting another cat, so it may have been for the best.

And now it is Boxing Day, FIL has gone home, we have spent the day lazing around and doing not very much. We dragged the children out for a walk mid-afternoon, very much against their will (they wanted to watch more Dr Who) but we are keenly aware that small boys are like dogs: they have to be exercised and let off the leash for a while every day or they start ricocheting off the walls in an alarming and vaguely destructive way. They are now in bed and husband and I are each sitting with our laptops and a glass of water like the hard-living rebels we are.

Oh! And I nearly forgot! Great Christmas present from husband (in addition to the cookbook and the DVDs of "The Lives of Others" and "Animaniacs" - my tastes are nothing if not varied) If you wander over when you have a minute to, you will discover that I am the proud owner of my own domain name! Just like a proper blogger (once I figure out how to move over from Blogger onto Wordpress or whatever it is I need to do.) Not for nothing is my husband known as "Lord of the Domains". No, really, he is.

PS - Thanks to Coffeedog for commenting - much appreciated!!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Belt and braces

Well, despite all the eye rolling and "We're too old for that now!" and "Santa doesn't exist!" stuff, the boys have gone off to bed and our coffee table bears its traditional offering of a carrot, a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of single malt (Santa knows what he likes!). I suspect it may be just a fondness for the ritual that caused them to want to leave the goodies out for Santa, although there may also be an element of covering all the bases. No point in upsetting the big guy in the red suit if it turns out he was in charge of the presents all along!

Rather irritatingly, it appears that my husband has nominated himself to dispose of the whisky and the chocolate cookie, leaving me with the job of impersonating Rudolph. Well, at least it's healthy. Off now to haul bags of goodies down the stairs hopefully without disturbing the offspring. I hope all my readers (all 3 of you) have a spectacular and peaceful Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Nearly there

Last day at work before Christmas today and would you believe it, I have two client meetings. Because I will definitely be able to get you divorced in the two and a half hours between our meeting and the whole of Edinburgh shutting down for Christmas. Honest.

Christmas is shaping up okay, I think. I seem to be the designated wrapper this year. I wrapped my Dad's presents to my Mum this morning because I had ordered them for him on the interweb and I know he can't wrap for toffee so I did it for him. I wrapped husband's presents for friends of his from work on Wednesday night (again because husband can't wrap. Or rap for that matter) when I was feeling nice and "relaxed" after our office Christmas lunch. And tonight I will be wrapping our presents for the boys and my father-in-law's presents for the boys which we have bought for him because he has been unwell and though he is much better now, he isn't up to deciphering precisely which Dr Who figures are the ones our offspring crave. Good job I like wrapping stuff. And I do. I love that orderly, tidy pile of neatly wrapped packages beneath the tree when I have finished. I think all my organisational and neatness impulses go into wrapping presents at Christmas and I have none left over for the rest of the year for, you know, hoovering and dusting and stuff.

We are off through to sunny Troon tomorrow to pick up father-in-law and bring him back to Edinburgh for Christmas with us. Our plan is to spend the day there, take him out for a meal and then drive back through. First Born is particularly pleased about this - we will be going for chinese food and as he plaintively said this morning "I haven't had chinese for TWO WEEKS!". Oh, the humanity. Call Social Services.

I don't know whether my FIL will have decorated his house or not. I really hope he has put his tree up as I remember vividly the first time I saw it. I spent my first Christmas with husband's family rather than mine about, gosh, 20 years ago now. I walked into the living room of FIL's house to be met with the vision that was a purple tinsel Christmas tree in all its Seventies splendour. Better yet, it had a severed head hanging from it. When I finally plucked up the courage to ask husband-of-the-future about that, he seemed mildly surprised that I found it odd. "We used to have an angel for the top of the tree," he explained. "But the body fell off so we hung the head on the tree." As you do. They had been doing this for years and never considered it.......weird. Which is partly why I married him.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Magic of Christmas

This is the first Christmas with our boys when they have not either believed in Santa or at least been willing to humour us. Last year they were still buying in to the whole "presents come from Santa" routine, although they have always known that we parents also have a big role in the production too. We have a special relationship with the fairies, you see. Did you not know about the fairies? Let me enlighten you. Mummies and Daddies (and aunties and uncles and grannies etc etc) choose your presents because they know what you want and what you like. Then the fairies come and take those presents away to the North Pole where Santa lives (or Lapland, depending on your own family's version of the mythology). And, providing you are good (for we cannot give up the excellent blackmail material that Christmas provides), Santa brings the presents from your family on Christmas day.

We have my husband's mother to thank for that arrangement. She had a similar arrangement with the fairies herself. It is excellent because it also gets round the problem of small boy changing HIS ENTIRE CHRISTMAS LIST ON DECEMBER 23RD!!! ("Oh, I'm sorry, I think the fairies have already taken the presents you said you wanted away to Santa! But you would still like those, wouldn't you?")

Anyway, this year the boys haven't mentioned Santa, neither have we and they know who is getting them what as they made up a VERY detailed list which they then distributed to anyone within reach. Another milestone passes. They are still going to get stockings though - I'll just worry less about being seen creeping into their room at 2am to fill them. Which I always am, because the boys usually awake at 3am to eat the sweets they find in there.

Which reminds me of an excellent family anecdote (from husband's family, but he won't mind). My mother-in-law has 2 cousins, brothers, one of whom is now a judge so I come across him in a professional capacity now and again. (It is irrelevant that he is a judge, but I do remember this story every time I see him. I wonder if it scarred him for life). One Christmas Eve when they were quite young, they were pretending to be asleep when their father crept into the room dressed as Santa to fill the stockings. One brother obviously gave it away that he was awake so Santa leaned over and hissed "LIE STILL!!!" I like to imagine him being found, rigid and petrified in the morning. That's one scary Santa.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Typical Monday morning

I did not get out for a run this weekend mainly due to other commitments like shopping, cleaning and so on. (Had to tackle the horror that is the boys' bathroom as my father-in-law is coming to stay this Saturday and he will have to share it with them.) We did manage to have a nice long walk all together yesterday, stomping across the frosty fields with the boys jumping on the frozen puddles and trying to scrape the frost together to make a snowball.

I was feeling sufficiently guilty about the lack of running however that last night I made husband promise to physically turf me out of bed this morning to go for a run. And he did. At 6am. He's just too damn efficient for his own good!

So, I struggled into several layers of clothes, including a fleece that will zip up to my nose if I need it to. Did you know it was COLD this morning? Minus 6 outside our house. It was however really nice to be out in the frosty dark with no-one else around. Gave me a satisfyingly smug feeling. I had no feeling in my face and fingers to start with, but after about 5 minutes I warmed up nicely and even the fingers (I can't run wearing gloves, it just feels odd) defrosted. I saw absolutely no-one else out and about and even the wildlife seemed to have decided to stay in bed. I ran about 3.5km in about 27 minutes, taking things fairly easily as I wasn't sure how slippery it was going to be underfoot. It was actually fine as what we had was a thick white frost rather than ice and it didn't seem to be too treacherous. The weather has been sufficiently weird this year that there were loads of gardens with flowers out, completely coated in frost. We even saw daisies in the grass yesterday, preserved in ice!

As I got back to the house I was eyeing up the car, which was coated with frost, and mentally calculating how long it was going to take me to scrape it off and get it ready for the drive to school and work. As it happens I needn't have worried. It wouldn't start anyway. When I turned the ignition I just got a sort of n-n-n-n-no way noise. Engine wouldn't even fire. I am hoping it was just the long cold night causing the diesel to freeze up and that it will be okay by tonight. Anyway, the boys and I had to call a taxi.

Second Born was actually quite pleased about that. He had been saying yesterday that despite having reached the grand old age of 7, he had never been in a taxi. I am now wondering if he has sabotaged the car just to get a go in a cab! Whatever the cause, it has confirmed to me that the boys need to get their bikes and scooters and assorted junk out of the garage and into their shed so we can get the car in there! A job for Wednesday when school finishes up, methinks. Bet that will go down well!

EDITED FOR THE BENEFIT OF MY HUSBAND: Okay, you're TOO damn efficient, not "to damn efficient". Happy now? (You're still damn efficient!)

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Gradually distilling that Christmas spirit

It's taking a while but I am gradually getting into the Christmas mood. I suspect because we are pretty much having Christmas delivered by eBay and Amazon, and I am therefore not out in the shops much, it takes longer for it to really sink in that Christmas is almost upon us. There is something about hearing Slade drilling remorselessly into your ears that really brings it home that the festive season is nigh. Not surprisingly, we don't play that particular song on a loop while we surf the net so haven't succumbed to its insidious charms.

On Friday I attended First Born's P4 and P5 Christmas concert at a church near his school. He wasn't doing anything particular - I mean he was there and singing with the rest but not doing a solo or playing an instrument or anything. (He has not, it would appear, inherited his father's musical aptitude. Or if he has, he is keeping it very quiet.) A girl we have known since she was 4 as she used to be in FB's nursery class opened the proceedings by singing Emmanuel. Solo and unaccompanied in front of a couple of hundred of her schoolmates, assorted teachers and hordes of parents and grandparents. She's not my daughter but I still got a lump in my throat. God help me if one of mine ever does something similar - I will dissolve so fast they will need to scrape me off the floor and send me home in a bucket.

The singing of various carols, finishing off with "O Come All Ye Faithful", got the Christmas spirit going at long last. I used to sing (badly) in choirs all the way through school and every Christmas sang in the Christmas concert. The sound of those carols and Christmas songs (we used to do a very jazzy medley of stuff like Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland) takes me right back in an instant to my childhood.

My mum and my gran would always come to those concerts and either really enjoyed them or did a splendid job of pretending. My dad worked abroad in Saudi Arabia so more often than not was not around for Christmas itself. We spent many hours on various Christmas days struggling with the frankly Kafka-esque Saudi telephone system trying to get through to speak to him for a couple of brief minutes. My Christmas memories therefore do not always include my dad, which is a shame.

They do however include my mum outside in the garden raking through the bin because my brother tore through his presents like a tasmanian devil (the Bugs Bunny incarnation of course) and invariably missed the little card from my other granny with a £5 postal order in it which then went out in the bin with the wrapping paper debris. Christmas wasn't Christmas unless my mum was up to her armpits in the bin, outside in the freezing cold, shouting "What colour was the wrapping paper??????" Makes me wonder what our own children's memories of Christmas will be when they are grown up. Mostly the Dr Who Christmas Special, I suspect.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


Just been for a quick lunchtime visit to the new gym and it went pretty well. On closer inspection, the changing rooms were even more utilitarian than I remembered (think painted breeze block walls, reminiscent of primary school) but they were spotlessly clean and EMPTY. I could have danced around naked to my heart's content without frightening anyone. You know, if I'd wanted to.

I just wanted a quick run so I set the treadmill for 30 minutes, 1% incline and 8kph and off I went. I ran for 30 minutes and then cooled down for 5. Covered 4 and a bit km. BUT! I should get extra credit because on the TV screen for most of that run was Cliff Richard on Loose Women. I know I couldn't hear him but I could see him and he was trying to dance (like he did on SCD on Sunday night) and at one point they had his calendar out and were showing a picture of him pretending to shave and wearing nothing but a towel. Frankly I deserve a medal for not gagging and falling off the treadmill at that point. Someone needs to take Sir Cliff off to one side and tell him that (a) he is too old for leather trousers. By about 50 years. And (b) he is just...icky and should stop. Just stop.*

*Sorry to any Cliff fans reading.**

** Except not really. What are you thinking?????

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

It's a worry

Just had a conversation with Second Born. I was in the kitchen, preparing some of the mountain of fruit this family gets through in a week when he appeared and demanded a hug. I dutifully got down on my knees (having wiped the pineapple off my hands) and gave the requested cuddle. Second Born then pulled back and looked at me with a very serious face.

"I am concerned" he said.


"Yes. Concerned"

"Oh dear, what are you concerned about?" (Thinks: He looks really serious. What could it be? Fallen out with friend? Broken something and wants to own up? Bullied at school? WHAT?!!!)

"Yes. My friend on Club Penguin* has two bamboo sofas in his igloo with a rug in between them and they look really nice and I can't figure out how to get them like that in my igloo. Mine just don't look right."

Interior design. It's a worry.

* Club Penguin, for those without children, is a social networking-type site for children where their characters are penguins and they have their own igloos which they can furnish how they like, purchasing stuff from a catalogue using the coins they earn working in the Pizza restaurant or playing games. Glad you asked now, aren't you?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Oh, was that the weekend?.....

At the risk of repeating myself, the weekends just vanish like snow off a dyke these days. I'm sure in the days BC (before children) weekends were long and lazy and langorous. I'm sure I used to read the newspapers. All of them. And we used to have lengthy breakfast-come-brunches involving fresh bread, still warm from the oven.

Actually, that is one of the things I miss about living where we do now. We used to live in Marchmont, which is the heart of middle-class bohemia mixed with student-land. On a weekend morning, we could stroll to our nearest corner shop for brunch supplies, but in Marchmont corner shops, there were a dozen different kinds of bread, many baked right there on the premises, and croissants and pains au chocolat. There were scores of different kinds of cheeses and olives and what have you. We moved up here to the suburbs (two kids = can't afford to live in Marchmont any more!) and discovered that the bread in our local shop is steadfastly plastic wrapped and your choice of cheese is either shrink wrapped orange cheddar or Dairylea. Takes the spontaneity out of weekend brunches if you have to pack the kids into the car and to go Sainsbury's.

Anyway, where was I? Oh the weekend. Early shopping on Saturday so that husband could have a jam session with his friend (very loud. We have a drumkit. And friend has just acquired a big amp which they wanted to "blow the dust out of"). I spent the day finishing off my sister-in-law's birthday cake. She has a phobia about eyeballs so of course I made her a cake with a big icing eyeball on it, complete with wee red veins. I would show you a photo, but we didn't take one. It tasted good though and my children enjoyed shouting "You're eating EYEBALL!" at her.

Sunday I took First Born to karate and went in the gym while he karate-d. I ran on the treadmill, which was lovely because the gym has a window and you can see sky and trees and stuff, and I stretched and did sit-ups and a wee stint on the exercise bike. Then I went home, showered and drove Second Born to a birthday party in Bonnyrigg. Went fruitlessly looking for some Christmas presents and then picked him up again and took him home.

Made pizza for dinner for everyone and that was pretty much it. Watched Strictly Come Dancing of course. I am a bit sorry to see Letitia go. She is the same age as me and I liked to fantasise that with a bit of BBC makeup and wardrobe magic, I too could look like that (the fact my legs are about 9 inches shorter than hers and my hair is mousy brown and short is of course irrelevant). I liked the fact that she was real-life-woman-shaped and proud of it.

You know you're getting old when the highlight of your weekend involves Bruce Forsyth.

Friday, 7 December 2007

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it

Running slightly behind time this morning, the boys had not appeared downstairs after going up to get washed and dressed. Or at least dressed. I loaded all the paraphernalia into the car and then headed upstairs to find out what was happening, as usually they like a couple of minutes of Gameboy time before we leave and it's not like them to miss out on it.

I found them both deep in discussion of some Star Wars role playing type game (First Born again being Darth Maul I think. Handy, as the jam on his face is red). FB is pretty much dressed. He shrugs his blazer on and disappears downstairs. Second Born does not yet have tie, jumper, blazer or shoes on. He dashes around getting ready and grabs his blazer. Then he wails "Mum! It's too big for me! I need a new blazer!" I look back. He is indeed swamped by the blazer. I call FB back upstairs. "Is your blazer okay?"

"Yeah" he shrugs. I shake my head in disbelief and position both boys in front of the mirror. FB's shoulders are up around his ears and his blazer barely reaches his backside. SB can hardly be seen for his. "Any suggestions as to what might have happened here?" I ask.

There is a pause before realisation dawns and the fighting starts "You stole my blazer!" "I didn't know it was your blazer and anyway you took mine" "I don't want yours...." etc etc. Normality resumes. I should have just let them go like that.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Boys will be boys

Before I had children, I used to believe, in a woolly half-thought-out sort of way, that how kids turned out was mostly to do with how they were brought up. Nurture versus nature. It was the kind of thinking that had me deciding, before my first son was born, that he would not be allowed to drink anything but milk and water (no sugary fruit juice for my child!); that he would watch very little TV (Yes. Well. Moving right along.); and that he would not have violent toys such as guns and so on.

Those of you with sons are now either wiping tears of laughter from your eyes or shaking your head in disbelief at my naivety. Children are born (are you ready for this?) with fully formed personalities. And! All your carefully considered decisions about how you are going to raise your perfect child go out the window when you bring your little bundle home and actually have to figure out strategies to get through the day. And more importantly, the night. Hate the idea of dummies but your baby likes to suck on something to get to sleep? No contest. Your need to sleep, and therefore function like something resembling a human being, triumphs and the dummy is purchased.

Now, I am way past all of that stuff as my offspring are now big lumps of boy but I was reminded this morning of our very short-lived attempts not to allow the boys violent toys such as guns, lasers, thermo-nuclear devices and so on. I will let you into a secret: boys like that stuff. If you don't let them have actual toy laser guns, they will make them out of anything they can lay their hands on: lego, twigs, cutlery, you name it. Eventually you realise there is no point in trying to shield your little angel from the influence of a toy sonic blaster when he is playing at melting his brother's face with a chopstick.

This morning, our two were playing at Star Wars in the living room as we got the car packed ready for the day. The living room door was closed (in order to exclude the boring adults who insisted that the death of Darth Maul must wait till after school), but we could see them as it has glass panels. When we were ready to go, husband and I stood at the door and scratched pathetically at it to be allowed in. First Born spotted us and howled "No!". Second Born appeared at the door and repelled us with the immortal threat "Get back! I have a sheep and I am not afraid to use it!"

See, in the hands of a 7 year old, even a stuffed toy is a lethal weapon.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


A very housebound weekend we have had (gone all Yoda there for some reason). We had planned to go swimming with the boys and my ex-brother-in-law (husband is allergic to chlorine and is therefore excused such outings. Just the sound of a swimming pool brings him out in a rash) but we cancelled that as First Born has picked up a belter of a cough/cold thing and I decided it was not fair on the citizens of Edinburgh to let him loose in a pool, exuding unpleasant secretions as he is.

We had expected absolutely awful weather from every weather forecast we had seen: reports of gale force winds, rain, plagues of frogs etc. None of which actually arrived. We had a standard early December weekend. Cool, overcast, a bit dreich. I think we would be as well to go back to the traditional "bit of seaweed outside the window" method of weather forecasting.

So we have been indoors for pretty much the whole weekend. With First Born snorting and coughing and gurgling on the couch. Can anyone tell me how you train a 9 year old boy to blow his nose on a tissue rather than, say, to snort loudly and then wipe his nose with his hand/sleeve? I should be grateful I suppose, that we are past the stage when he was using my sleeve or whatever part of me happened to be handy, or indeed just appearing with......"stuff" on the end of his finger to be dealt with. The joys of toddler parenthood: drive-by snottings.