Monday, 31 March 2008

Lazy Sunday afternoon..........

...........preceded by lazy Sunday morning, all day Saturday and much of Friday. My brass neck is such that I can post about the joys of running and then not do any exercise to speak of all weekend! I am a fraud. The children came home to roost on Friday bearing more coloured plastic from the Pound Shop (I hate that place even though I have never actually been in it).

First Born was delighted because a rare Doctor Who book he had found online had arrived and he had more or less glued it to his hand - it was never out of his sight all day. He even took it with him to the hairdresser where he no doubt regaled the stylists with explanations of why it was so cool the Sontarans are coming back because he has always loved the Sontarans and would they like to hear a blow-by-blow account of the plot of "The Time Warrior"? He was in fact so pleased with it that he insisted on e-mailing the seller to thank them for sending it in such good condition (it was an Amazon marketplace seller) and to tell them how wonderful it is. To their credit, the company (shout out for Greener Books!) e-mailed back almost immediately thanking FB for his lovely e-mail and confirming that the review was so enthusiastic that the sender was going to buy one for his own 10 year old son! It's so nice when people take the time to do stuff like that - makes it far more likely we will buy from them again, too.

Later on Friday evening we had a video call with Husband from his Prague hotel room, as he had remembered to take the webcam with him. It is really good fun to be able to do that and speak to and see him when he is away. Surprisingly, the webcams survived the toxic face-pulling that went on (whenever three boys are gathered together, there will be face-pulling. Especially if you have a camera to do it into).

Saturday I couldn't go out for a run because I had both boys with me and we can't all run together and I can't leave one or - God forbid! - both of them alone in the house and unsupervised. So we slobbed around, ate porridge and then went off to the airport to pick up Husband. He arrived with his suitcase completely encased in about 300 yards of clingfilm. Husband had been given a Czech Arbitration Court umbrella as a wee gift and this was an attempt to get it home, half sticking out of his case. The clingfilm survived, the umbrella did not - its handle was completely snapped in transit. Still, the clingfilmed case turned some heads in the arrivals hall.

Saturday was therefore spent relaxing, catching up and Second Born challenging his Dad to Wii tennis (Second Born reached pro status on Friday necessitating an immediate text announcement to Dad who was in a cocktail reception at the time). We then watched Harry Hill's TV Burp together. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best half hour of television of the week. We all watch it together and we all howl with laughter. If you have never seen it, shame on you. Start watching now. (American and Canadian readers are excused - I doubt it would translate well)

Sunday I could have gone running but the clocks went forward so I had even less time than normal to dash to Sainsbury's to get the shopping in before taking First Born to karate. And yes, I am a member of the gym in the centre where he does karate. No, I did not run or lift weights while he karate-d. I sat on the floor and read a book, thanks for asking. Even the nearby example of the Cross Country Championships in Holyrood park could not shame m....I mean motivate me into running. I will however go out sometime today, promise. The sun is shining so I may go at lunchtime. Or after work. Maybe.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


I was tagged for a running meme by the lovely Stephanie of Life in Avalon (who has joined the host over on my blogroll there). She foolishly referred to me as a runner and I am always up for flattery so here goes:

Top Five Reasons I Run:
  1. Because for decades I thought I couldn't, and I am thrawn that way and needed to prove myself wrong
  2. Because I want and need to exercise regularly and running can be squished into my schedule somewhere. Most of the time.
  3. Because my seven (soon to be eight) year old comes running with me and that is just beyond brilliant. Soon he won't even be willing to be seen in public with me at all, never mind lumbering around in lycra
  4. Because I get a kick out of knowing what my 40 year old body can achieve. I secretly find myself on car or taxi journeys thinking "I could run this!" and silently congratulating myself.
  5. Because on those occasions when you have a good run, and it all clicks into place, and the sun is shining (or the rain is, at least, not horizontal) and you are running well, and your mind settles into a pleasant idle, it is a phenomenal feeling.
Top Five Running Lessons:

Hmm, I still consider myself a beginner so these are going to be beginner-type lessons -

  1. Start slowly. Unbelievably slowly. When you first start to run you nearly always set out too fast and end up leaning against a fence, gasping for breath and convinced your lungs are about to pop out of your chest and throttle a passer-by. I was once overtaken when out running by a paperboy PUSHING HIS BIKE! And I still run pretty slowly but I can now run slowly for a long time.
  2. I second what Stephanie said about breathing - work on being able to breathe well when running. I found that running with child in tow helped because I had to be able to join in with his constant chat and that meant having to be able to speak. Somehow that forced me to regulate my breathing.
  3. Good shoes, good shoes, good shoes. If at all possible, go to a running shop where they will look at how you run (you will feel a prune while they do this the first time as you lope up and down the shop) and then take time to find you shoes that suit your gait. I tried on about 12 pairs before getting my first running shoes, gradually trying stiffer and stiffer shoes because I over pronate badly. Apparently. And the first time I ran in them was the first time my knees didn't complain about the exercise. Worth every penny.
  4. Run outside, in the open air. People aren't looking at you as much as you think they are, and even if they are, they are generally not laughing, honestly. Unless they are teenagers, but that's teenagers and if they weren't laughing at your running, they would probably be laughing at your shoes or your hair so, meh. iPods or similar are helpful here because earphones mean you can't hear them anyway
  5. Run a race. It doesn't have to be a competitive personal-best-or-die type race. Just an organised get together of runners. The Race for Life races are good if you are female because they are short-ish and all abilities compete - some people even walk them. My goal for my first RFL was not to finish behind anyone wearing flip-flops or pushing a pram. The enjoyment of running with lots of other people is immense and the incentive it gives you to get out and train a bit is excellent too.
There you go, my shallow what-the-hell-does-she-know-anyway thoughts on running. Now I get to choose my victims! Let's see, I tag Lynsey at Tales from Falsidehill and K at Square One because you two are the only ones I can think of offhand who run. Anyone else reading who runs? Consider yourself tagged (and tell me in the comments - I like to know of other runners!)

Normal service will be resumed. Probably.

Hi there! I'm back to creating carefully crafted gems of lighthearted uplifting prose.....well, okay, spilling the inane and trivial contents of my brain onto the internet. But at least I am not whining about a headache. Sorry for the slightly self-pity laden last post - it's just that in the middle of one of those damn headaches you feel so miserable that you have to offload it onto someone else. Poor First Born, for example, got both barrels on Monday morning for the dreadful crime of dripping juice from the cat food sachet onto the kitchen floor. Yes, I know, take him out and flog him, the reprobate. (I did apologise to him shortly afterwards and explained that Mum was a bit headachy and therefore had completely lost all sense of proportion.)

So you see, normally husband and children bear the brunt alone so, looking on the bright side, Internet, you spared my family the horror of coping with a squinting, grumpy, quasi-psychopathic Cyclops alone. Well done you!

In other news, I managed a short, gentle early morning run with Second Born on Wednesday morning during which he taught me the difference between a crow and a jackdaw and showed me up by dashing ahead of me at regular intervals shouting "I'm fartleking!!" Husband and I found a new chinese restaurant near our house which was completely empty apart from the entire family of the owners. We were virtually press-ganged into eating there as the nice waitress spotted us looking at the menu outside and came out onto the street to encourage us in. Social embarassment is always a good way to put pressure on Scottish people - we find it difficult to say no in such circumstances. We decided we fancied trying it anyway as it looked different. And empty. The food was really good, seemed to be more authentically chinese than you normally find in Edinburgh and came in HUGE portions. The bill was embarassingly small too. £16 for two starters, two enormous main courses and two drinks!

We then wound our way home to watch The Apprentice. I must issue a warning at this point: Husband and I get hooked on The Apprentice. We know it is formulaic and trashy but my goodness, it is addictive. So expect lots of analysis of The Apprentice on here in the coming weeks. Don't worry - if you're not a fan, you can just skip those bits. And for those readers over the Atlantic (hi!), it's the UK version I am talking about with Sralan, not the American one with Donald Trump and His Amazing Hair and Tacky Apartment. Although, we do watch that when it's on too. What can I say, we are weak. This week Nicholas with the very very small mouth got booted off first for not being able to price fish. I was surprised, frankly that a London barrister with a triple-barrelled name didn't know the price of lobster. So much for stereotypes. And then when trying to defend himself in the boardroom, he started talking about "I am from an arts background and know about culture......." and we really really wanted Sralan to respond "What's that got to do with the price of fish?" but he didn't. Shame. Can't wait for next week. I predict fisticuffs at some point between Raefe and the East End bloke in the overly pinstripey suit.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Oww. Oww. Oww.

Woke up yesterday with a stonking headache. I have suffered on and off for years with migraines, as has my mother. They started when I was in my late teens and reached a peak in my late twenties. I tend to get headaches quite often at the same time of the month (sorry to the male readers. If there are any) so I know they are hormonal, but sometimes the headache is more than just a headache, it's a migraine and that's like a headache on steroids.

Everyone I know who gets migraines experiences them differently. You tend to get the headache-y part plus an "aura" of additional symptoms. In my case, the headache is centred squarely behind one eye - almost invariably the right eye - and is accompanied by nausea, visual disturbances like little flashbulbs going off which eventually develop into disrupted vision sufficiently serious to make driving impossible and, if I am really lucky, actual vomitting. Which is lovely - nothing like throwing up while moaning and trying hard to shove your fist into your eye as it tries to throb its way right out of your skull. When I have a serious migraine, all I really want is an eyepatch with a golf ball stuck to the inside as only firm pressure on the eye itself gives any relief. Oh, and a totally silent, dark room in which to lie completely still and whimper.

But fortunately this month's headache was just short of qualifying as a migraine, and I have therefore been at work (although pretty useless while there, if truth be told) and, with the aid of strong painkillers, vertical. Interestingly, the only absolute 100% cure for these headaches I have ever found is being pregnant or breastfeeding. Call me unreasonable, but I think as headache remedies go, those are just a bit too drastic for my taste.

So, no running yesterday or today and nothing much else to report on any other front. We have scoffed most of the dairy free dark chocolate Easter egg that First Born got and didn't like (it is a Thorntons dark chocolate egg and is lovely but quite a grown up taste. He willingly swapped it for some dairy free chocolate buttons. We ate it because it would be a shame to waste it, obviously). The boys are going off to stay with Granny and Grandad for a couple of days and Husband and I are going to have a nice meal out tomorrow before he heads off to Prague for a judgely huddle with other internet guru-types. I will be on my own for a day or two. And you know what that means, don't you? Uninterrupted Torchwood and the Wii all to myself! Yippee!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Common as muck

I had a weird dream last night. I dreamt that Husband and I were on a cruise. Not terribly surprising so far, given my parents are just back from their once-in-a-lifetime trip on the Queen Mary II and Mum hasn't stopped talking about it yet. The cruise ship was quite swanky, as you would expect (no point dreaming of a trip on a North Sea ferry, after all) and the trip had a theme: it was an Eighties Revival Cruise. We were all wearing 80s clothes (I thought I had seen the last of skin tight jeans and back-combed hair but no - they haunt my dreams) and Spandau Ballet were providing the entertainment. So far, so good if slightly sad.

The cruise ship had a shop on board, which again is not that odd. Except that it was a big branch of Poundstretcher. We were on a glamourous cruise, dressed like Bananarama's grandparents, browsing Poundstretcher looking at cut price toilet roll and plastic cookware. Clearly my aspirations are not nearly aspirational enough.

PS: Ummm? Whoever you are, thank you very much for the donation. I would thank you directly if I knew who you were, but I don't, so thank you!

Friday, 21 March 2008

If I ruled the world.......

every day would be the first day of spring! Today is technically the first day of spring (although no-one appears to have told the wind and the hail that it is time to bugger off and let the sun have a go. In fact, it has just started snowing.) More importantly today is Husband's birthday, which explains why he has always liked that song. Husband and I are the same age but for the next couple of months, I get to pretend to be younger and wind him up about the grey hairs and the failing memory before I catch him up and he retaliates with interest.

Husband and I met at University as fresh-faced law students. I don't actually remember being introduced to him - we were just part of a loose group of people who hung around together, drinking the truly appalling Chambers Street Union coffee and playing endless games of "Gauntlet" instead of studying. I allegedly told him he didn't look like he had gone to public school, which I would have meant as a compliment, and I think he took it as such. That would have been some time in 1985 or early 1986 at the latest. That year I went to a party in his flat along with lots of other people and left behind some cans of lager (cheap lager at that!). Months later he and his flatmate had another party and he had found some miniature cans of the same kind of lager as I had brought along the first time which he presented to me, claiming the cans I had left behind had shrunk. I found this very funny.

He took a gang of us along to see Tam White and the Dexters (a local blues band) and spent part of the evening teaching the blues virgins amongst us how to do a convincing blues "shoulder twitch" to demonstrate our appreciation for the music. He agreed to let me have a copy of his Tam White album but refused to lend me the album to tape as he was (and remains) anal about such things and was worried I would damage the album (vinyl! we are so old!) as he didn't know what kind of piece of junk music equipment I owned. (He was right to worry. It was a crappy Philips music centre of stunning awfulness.) I gave him a cassette to tape the album and he was sufficiently nosy to listen to what was on the other side. It was a copy of Mick Karn's solo album and if you have no idea what that is, you are in the vast majority. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of instrumental fretless bass and oboe on it. And yet he still spoke to me when he saw me the next day without backing away nervously. He later told me he was mildly pleasantly surprised that it was not either Talking Heads or Paul Simon's Graceland which everyone was listening to at the time. I hated Graceland. So did he. Still does.

As I think I have mentioned before, I went to a record fair with another friend of mine and bought a copy of a single I liked, but already owned, for no other reason than I thought Husband would like it. And he did. It is now the closest thing we have to "our song".

It took almost a year of vaguely knowing each other as friends in the group and another six months of being pretty good friends before we starting going out. (How that came about is another story entirely) That was the 28th February/1 March 1987. We moved into a shared student flat with four other people in the autumn of that year (which had been decided on and arranged before we started going out) and we have been together ever since.

So we have now been partners for over half of our lives, yet it just doesn't feel that long. The evidence of our strapping 10 year old son confirms that we are, indeed, grownups, but on the rare occasions when we get to be alone, just the two of us, it still feels to me like I am a student who got lucky and started going out with her best friend. Happy Birthday Husband.

PS: Hee! Hee! You're old!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Not sure what on earth to call this one....

I was out late at a meeting last night so husband and boys were left to their own devices for a while. After a session on the Wii (My Sims this time rather than tennis) the boys went to bed and husband joined them in their room for a chat in the dark (as he often does). I arrived home at this point and popped in to say goodnight, to be told that First Born has decided to become a ventriloquist and all three have been practising their skills. Which they then proceeded to demonstrate.

Ventriloquism in the dark. It's right up there with magic on the radio.

I was also informed that earlier Second Born had been discussing the subject of epitaphs, and specifically Spike Milligan's gravestone which bears the legend "I told you I was ill". Second Born thought about this and declared that he wants his gravestone to read "It smells funny down here".

And as a PS, after a few enquiries as to whether I was looking for sponsorship for the race in May, I have decided to run in aid of Children 1st. It just seemed a waste not to take advantage of all that effort for a good cause. For those of you who don't know the charity, it was formerly known as The Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It works to prevent abuse and neglect of vulnerable children right here in Scotland. You can get an idea of what they do here. I don't know about you, but once I had children of my own I became acutely sensitive to any form of abuse, neglect or cruelty to children anywhere. News reports of famines or children strapped to beds in orphanages had always touched me but nowadays they completely reduce me to tears. So, a children's charity it is. There is a widget-y link thing to our page (I say "our" because of course Second Born is running too) on the sidebar for anyone interested.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

I'll get you my pretty!

Yesterday I had a very nice cup of coffee and wee bit of shortbread with a fellow blogger from that list over there on the right. I had a brilliant time and topics of conversation ranged from the best way of disposing of Katie Melua to whether one should take the mickey out of American tourists who have fallen for the £18.99 "kilt" from the Gold Brothers "Tat-a-torium" on the High Street. (For non-Edinburgh readers, there are a host of truly awful shops in the tourist areas of Edinburgh selling dreadful tartan souvenirs including polyester skirts masquerading as kilts. It's a real dilemma: whether you should break it to the poor tourist who has bought the tacky rip-off that in fact a real kilt takes a trained craftsman weeks to make and will cost you upwards of £100.)

The topic of appearing on stage came up (I am not going to steal my compatriot's thunder but I really wish he would blog the Wizard of Oz story he told me - it's priceless) and it reminded me of my own brief forays into amateur dramatics. When Iwas at school, in my 5th year, I wrote a pantomime version of Snow White along with one of my teachers. Auditions were duly held. Guess which part I got? Yep, the Wicked Queen (well I am hardly Snow White material, am I?)

I had an absolute whale of a time doing that show - got completely over-the-top make-up, a big swishy cloak and long fingernails and the opportunity to ham it up big time. We performed the show for the primary schools which were in our school's catchment area and then my teacher had the bright idea of taking a cut-down version of the show to the local nursery school (we removed the explicit references to having Snow White killed in the forest and I had to forego my favourite scene involving a wooden box and a pig's heart). So one afternoon we all trotted down to the village, in full costume and makeup, and did a performance for the kids. They seemed to love it - lots of shrieking and booing and laughing, and we left feeling very pleased with ourselves.

A couple of days later I was called down to see the headmaster. Apparently, despite having toned down the show, the performance (and mine in particular) had had quite an impact on some of the kids in the nursery. To the extent that some of them were now refusing to go back to the nursery building in case I was lurking in a cupboard somewhere waiting to jump out on them. We had to bring those children up to the school where they met me (in my full costume and make-up) and I spoke to them and reassured them that I was really quite nice in real life, honest, and almost never cut out the hearts of small children for fun. No dice, they still weren't convinced and looked like they were about to climb over their mothers to get away from me. I had to go and get a vat of cold cream and let them watch me remove my make-up, all the while keeping up a chirpy stream of chat about how nice I was really and how this was all make-believe and how I loved children really (a lie, actually - I really didn't like kids until shortly before I had my own). The nervous whimpering eventually died down (despite seeing me without make-up!) and the kids were all able to shake hands with me before they left. I gather they did all return safely to nursery school.

I do still like to wonder whether there is a small group of West Lothian adults (they will all be in their late twenties now - gulp) who have unexplained recurring nightmares involving a scary looking woman who threatens to cut out their hearts before cruelly and deliberately removing her make-up at them. I'd kind of like to think there are - it's the only lasting legacy my last stage performance is likely to have.

PS - I ran for 1 hour 3 minutes this morning. 7.8km!! I need to lie down for a few hours.......

Friday, 14 March 2008

I could have a fight in an empty room, it would appear

I had one of those arguments with myself this morning. At 6am, the alarm went off, interrupting the dream I was having about going out to a nightclub (why I was dreaming about that, I have no idea. I have not been in a nightclub since the days when they were called discos and dancing around your handbag was not done ironically.) I did not go running yesterday when I should have, so I really needed to go today, but at 6am the evil, lazy side of my brain decided to do battle with the (much smaller) good and virtuous side.

Good: You really should get up and run, you know

Bad: Schnurffle. Bed. Warm. Good. Sle-e-e-ep.........

Good: Seriously, it sounds like it might be nice outside - can't hear any wheelie bins being playfully tossed around by the wind. That might even be sunlight starting to glow through the (odd, brown, patterned, came with the house) curtains...

Bad: But.....warm......cosy......I can go out tomorrow instead.......*snore*...........

Good: Oh for pete's sake, you ate 3 mini doughnuts yesterday and justified them by saying you would run them off tomorrow NOW GET OUT OF BED!

Bad: FINE! But I'm not opening my eyes until I'm dressed. (*mutter, moan, for a Good side you're a real pain in the bum* grumble)

And so with a spring in my step and a song in my heart I went out for a run and it was in fact really nice, as it always is when I don't give in to the Dark Side and stay in bed listening to the news. I won't bore you with the statistics - I have added a little counter way down there on the sidebar to track my progress with the running stuff. 24.5 km over the last 7 days.

In other news, my colleague at work has just informed me that tickets for Leonard Cohen at the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade are about to go on sale. Now I do like a bit of Leonard Cohen but I wonder whether it is wise to hold his gig right on top of a large cliff. You generally have to be feeling pretty darn cheerful to listen to Leonard. If you start out a wee bit fed up, after a couple of tracks you are verging on the morose. An album's worth and well, louping off the top of the Castle Rock might start to seem like a good idea.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Back to normal

Remember Second Born? That perfect child who is so kind and quiet and thoughtful and helpful at school according to his report? Who obeys instructions happily and diligently? The one who patiently waited for us to finish discussing his older brother's report and then was just delightful when we discussed his with him? Yeh, him. That same paragon of virtue was standing on the stairs this morning when his brother gently (and totally accidentally) bumped into him. Cue rolling on the stairs, wailing and clutching his "injured" arm (his brother bumped his leg) followed by kicking said brother and nearly tripping him and sending him headfirst down the stairs.

3 rules broken in about 2 seconds flat-

(1) do not deliberately attempt to wind up your brother or get him into trouble for SOMETHING HE DID NOT DO,
(2) kicking is not allowed EVER and
(3) horseplay or fighting of any kind is not allowed on the stairs because I do not want to have to drive to the hospital or pick bits of you off the carpet. The carpet is horrible enough without a layer of injured boy on it.

A new house record, if I am not mistaken. Does deciding to take away the reward you were thinking of giving for a good report but have not actually given yet count as a punishment?

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

I seem to have someone's mojo - let me know if you want it back

I got up at 6.00 this morning, utterly determined to get out and run. You're impressed, I can tell. I deliberately did not listen out for rain/wind/plagues of frogs on the basis that I was going out regardless and I would just decide on what top layer of clothing might best fend off the elements. I couldn't find my iPod (later discovered hiding in a towel in my gym bag) but still I went out. It's probably good for me to run without music now and again anyway.

I had planned a gentle(ish) session - 15 minutes running, 2 minutes walking x 3 - a total of 51 minutes. (Although looking back at some of my older posts, not that long ago that sort of session would have killed me. Or at least made me REALLY grumpy.) I set out on the road across the hills nearby and it was very very gusty - with the wind in my face it felt like I was running on the spot at points - with the odd violent splatter of rain that didn't quite add up to a proper shower. No-one else about, hardly even a car. Did see a bird of prey of some sort hovering just off the side of the road where the rabbits hang out - I'm sorry, I am rubbish at wildlife so can't identify it. A falcon of some sort maybe? Kestrel? It wasn't very big, certainly. The very very good news is that it is now actually getting light at that time of the morning. Spring at last! The clocks will be going forward soon and robbing us of a precious weekend hour of sleep!

Anyway, I had my 2 minutes walk after 15 minutes and then set off again, reached the turnaround point and just...kept going. Didn't want to walk, didn't feel like it. My breathing was remarkably steady and even (normally I breathe rather heavily even when I am running okay) and the legs were fine. So I missed out the other walking sessions and got home after about 50 minutes. Again, could have run for longer I think but needed to get home to take over the morning child-herding from Husband who was planning to walk the 4 miles into work. Heh! That makes us sound like the Fit Family, doesn't it? I promise you, we really are not (as anyone who saw the state I was in when I got back would testify.)

The boys were preparing their breakfasts when I got in. First Born was carefully cutting the crusts off his buttered (well, dairy-free spread-ed) bread. And then eating them. Can't quite figure out the point of that. Both boys were in a chirpy mood for once, not sniping and chewing bits off each other in retaliation for unpardonable slights like "looking at me wrong". I even got hugs.

Both of them were also keen to know what we thought of their school reports which had come home last night in sealed envelopes. I have avoided giving them a proper response as Husband and I like to do that together but I have said we are pretty happy. And we are. Second Born got his usual hymn of praise - he is apparently quietly spoken, charming and helpful at school. He clearly saves the yelling, stamping, door-slamming and brother-baiting for home. How kind of him.

First Born's report was pretty good too. He has more challenges than his brother: he has many of the symptoms of dyspraxia and some that are borderline Asperger's. In particular he has a tendency to just get lost inside his own head. This is more than just a failure to concentrate - he can't seem to differentiate between the external stimuli he gets - like his teacher talking, or what's on the board - from the internal ones buzzing around in his brain and sometimes he goes with the wrong one. That's when you find him gazing intently at a piece of plastic, or his own hand or thin air, and physically trembling with the force of what his imagination is doing. Must drive his teacher batty.

He also has major trouble with some forms of social interaction. He is fiercely loyal to his friends and actually makes friends pretty easily but he can't understand the unwritten rules of social contact - they are too fluid and slippery for his brain to grasp. He finds it nigh on impossible, for example, to tell the difference between jokes and friendly gentle teasing on the one hand, and outright bullying mockery on the other. So he will react angrily (and his anger is quite a sight to see - very drama queen) to someone who is actually just trying to play with him. Equally he can't see the impact his own behaviour has on others so tends to offend and upset other kids without meaning to and without understanding how he has done it. Oh, and he's loud. He has no volume control whatsoever.

Reading that back, it makes him sound worse than he is. He manages to rub along fine in school he just is never the person anyone in his class will pick to be their partner in a piece of work. All that said, he is managing to cope pretty well. We just get the feeling that some of the teachers at school need to cut him a little slack in some areas - make sure they sit him near the front of the class facing the teacher (if he is facing any other way he will get fixated on whatever it is he is looking at) and that they give him enough time to copy stuff off the board, for example, which he struggles with.

All things considered, his report is pretty good though so I think the boys will be up for a little treat come the weekend. And knowing them, it might well take the form of aromatic crispy duck!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sweaty, achy and content (that'll get the Google hits up...)

I've had rather a good weekend, all things considered. I had a Torchwood fest on Friday evening, accompanied by home made pizza (I made the dough for the base and everything) as husband was out. I had two episodes to watch back-to-back and I would have watched three if the PVR hadn't decided to take the huff and not record last Wednesday's episode. Grrrr! I need, desparately need, to find out what is going to happen to Owen. I may have to resort to the BBC's iplayer thingy, although I am told it is not great.

Saturday I was awake early and off to Sainsbury's by 8am. It's a sign of just how dull I am that I find the fully stocked shelves, aisles empty of people and waiting vacant checkouts at that time of the morning quite so exhilarating. Who needs bungy jumping when you can experience the thrill of having the fruit and veg section to yourself?

Second Born had another one of his social events to attend (a party held in the sports hall at his school) and I had formed a vague plan to take him there, leave the car in the car park and head down to the canal, which is nearby, for a run. Canals are good to run along, being invariably flat. The party was due to start at 12.30 and if you were watching the rugby on Saturday, you will have some idea of what the weather was like in Edinburgh. Rain was stottin' off the pavements, wind howling down the chimney - really REALLY unappealing as running weather. But I really needed to run and what's more I really needed a long run - that 10k in May won't run itself, you know. So I got kitted up for wet weather and headed out. Lo and behold, by the time I had deposited SB, the sun was trying to come out. I ran out along the canal, which was pretty quiet because most normal sane non-running loon people had not yet ventured out. Or they were staying in to watch the rugby.

(Dull bit coming up for anyone not from Edinburgh) I ran right along from Polwarth, past Longstone over the aquaduct (Ooh! Help! High! Path narrow! Might fall off even though I have never fallen off a four foot wide path in my life before and there are railings on the side where the drop is!) and kept going till I hit the next bridge (not sure where that is exactly!) and then turned round and ran back again. I only walked once for a minute at the turnaround point, and that was mainly because Bizet came on the iPod and it just isn't running music and I can't fiddle with the iPod and run at the same time. Certainly not alongside the canal, anyway. Asking for trouble.

I ran for a total of..........wait for it.....54 minutes. Then I walked about a bit to cool off before collecting SB and heading home. I've never run for that long before and it's beginning to feel like the GER might be do-able. I mapped my run on MapMyRun when I got back and I covered about 6.5km or 4 miles.

Then, today, SB wanted to go for a run too so I hauled my aching limbs off the couch and went out with him. He was gentle with me, as I requested given my aged legs, and we had a nice quiet run, up past the Highland Cows, for about 40 minutes, covering about 4.5km. We walked some of that, but still. 11km in one weekend! I have a slightly blistery right foot now so will have a rest day tomorrow to recover. Especially since I gather we are again to be favoured with gale force winds and pouring rain. That solitary daffodil that has ventured out in our front garden won't know what hit it.

Finally: I can't not mention the rugby. Wahey, what a brilliant match to watch! I know nothing whatsoever about rugby but thoroughly enjoyed it. Good to know that we are maintaining our hard won reputation for winning when it no longer matters!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Social paranoia

The boys have been thoroughly enjoying After School Club this past week. My mum e-mailed from on board the Queen Mary II to say she and Dad were having a great time, the ship was amazing and she had put on 7 pounds in 3 days and didn't care. I replied saying I was glad she was enjoying it and that the boys were missing them. Truth be told though, the novelty of After School club is such that the boys probably haven't given them a second thought. Although the "novelty" of having to do their homework at 6pm rather than playing video games or watching The Simpsons is, I think, wearing off for them.

First Born is ecstatic because his best friend S. also attends ASC (recent quote from FB: "S. and I go together like peaches and cream". I'm going to remind him of that one when he's 18) and he gets to make stuff. A couple of nights ago he appeared with an egg box with a cork in it and proceeded to recreate a 1970s public information film about the importance of seatbelts, starring Jimmy Saville. I never thought I would see a 10 year old boy in 2008 impersonating Jimmy Saville. It's kind of creepy.

SB is happy at ASC because he gets to spend more time exercising his considerable charm on a wide range of people. And he gets to run around throwing stuff.

Each evening when we go to collect them, we walk into the hall in SB's school building where ASC is located and I have to scan the maelstrom of small boys (the girls don't seem to run around so much) looking for mine. At first glance they are all so similar - all about the same age, all identically dressed in school uniform, with similar regulation haircuts. But it is nonetheless always easy to spot your own, even in a crowd of little clones and I walk up behind him and greet him in our traditional manner. I stick my nose right into his neck, down inside his shirt collar and I sniff. Hard. More of a snort really. And he retracts his neck (a skill he inherited from me) and says "Get off me!"

And every time I do this, as I lean in, the thought crosses my mind: "What if this is someone else's child I am about to sniff by mistake?" What do you think the penalty would be for attempting to inhale a strange child?

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

My head, it is hanging in shame

In relation to my last post, Dear Husband has kindly pointed out that (1) it was 21 roses not a dozen for he is thoughtful and romantic and I am an eejit; and (2) I was 11 in 1978, not 13, for I am definitely an eejit and what's more clearly cannot count, either flowers or my own age. Now you know why I am not an accountant.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Look! I am conscious and vertical!

Oops, dropped off the edge of the weekend there, didn't I? I had a lovely long sleep on Friday night to make up for the week. Answered the doorbell in my nightshirt on Saturday morning to receive a delivery of a dozen beautiful red roses from husband*. We don't celebrate our wedding anniversary (seems like an arbitrary date to us as we had been together for 5 years or so by then, living together for much of it) but we do kind of celebrate the anniversary of when we started going out. Sweet, aren't we? And for all but one of those *gulp* 21 years, I have had roses from husband on the day. Guess which year he missed? 1998, the year our first child was born. Said first child was born only a couple of weeks or so before The Anniversary and accordingly neither of us were coherent or conscious enough to remember such trivialities. If I recall correctly, I think we were having trouble remembering to eat and comb our hair at that point. I think we can both be forgiven for that one.

Saturday was the usual pleasant potter about. On Sunday I took First Born to karate and went for a run on the treadmill. I had not, it goes without saying, run at all last week and I am increasingly aware that 4 May, the day when I have committed to run 6 miles in public, is looming large. I therefore knew that I needed to run but I also wanted to run - I miss it when I don't and I NEVER thought I would say that!! I managed to run for 45 minutes on the dreadmill, with a brisk 5 minute cool down walk. I covered 6km in that time so I only have to run...half as far again......and then some.....and I'm there! No problem!

Sunday evening was unusually eventful for us. Sister in law and her partner agreed to shepherd our offspring for a few hours and Husband and I drove to Glasgow (didn't get asked for our passports or anything!) to go to a concert. A Gary Numan concert. That last sentence will have divided the readership into 3 unequal parts. One part saying "Who?" (I'm looking at you, Isabelle!), one part saying "Oh good grief, you must be joking!" and one saying "Cool!" The last group is probably quite small, judging by the reactions of the real-life people I have told.

But it was a great night, honestly. Mr Numan is touring his 1978 album "Replicas" which was great at the time (I was 13 in 1978. Sigh) and he has updated it for its 30th anniversary and taken it on the road. It was terrific - loud and guitar-y and sing-along-y in parts, and it made me feel at least 5 years younger. No chance it could make me feel 13 again. It's only music after all, not magic. And the support band were young enough to be my children, which doesn't help, frankly.

The crowd was interesting: four parts forty-somethings along for the nostalgia trip (including several bored wives obviously dragged along by their husbands) and one part young teen or early twenty-something Goth types. Everybody bounced around and sang in unison.

And if you want an illustration of how I am nowhere near 13 years old any more, how about this: the gig was standing only, no seats. We were there quite early so got into the venue at a time when we could pick our spot. Did we (a) run straight down to the front to be at the edge of the stage, where we could almost reach out and touch GN, or (b) notice that towards the back was a little bar with high bar stools in front of it, running the width of the hall, so you could be further back but get to SIT DOWN during the concert? Answers in the comments but I think you all know what we did!

Oh, and the office was broken into again over the weekend but they didn't hang around and there was nothing easy and worth stealing left. My laptop was at home with me, although I would not have been heartbroken to lose this one - it is nowhere near as funky and cool as my old Vaio. Oooh, and I must send heartfelt thanks to Hannah for the iPod tip - I am managing to get the music off the iPod and back into iTunes without too much hassle. I owe you a drink!

*Husband didn't get flowers but I did make him a big batch of home-made rum truffles!