Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Blech and bah and drat

Quick update to say I have not been running since last Saturday because I appear to have a football in my throat again. Usually I would let throat infections run their course but since I want to run my course on Sunday, I went to the doctor.(Also had to get a routine blood pressure check as mine has been....interesting, in the past. Now totally normal. Yay for running!)

Anyway, doctor took one look and said "Yuck". So I have antibiotics to take, and not the good ones, not penicillin because that makes me turn purple and throw up and that's just not a good look. Oxytetracycline which you have to take an hour before food or on an empty stomach. Seriously, do some people really go for an hour without eating? Wow. And you aren't supposed to take milk within 2 hours of the tablets so when am I supposed to get my cup of tea, eh?

Honestly, I will willingly forego my chain-drinking tea habit if it means I am within spitting distance of okay for Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Put to shame

I hauled myself out for a run on Saturday, despite the suspicion that I am incubating the cold that Husband has succumbed to. (A sure sign that he is ill - I was sent out on Saturday morning to buy Covonia cough mixture. Husband swears by it, reasoning that it tastes so vile, it must be doing you good.) I managed to slog out a 10km run (10.0037km according to the excruciatingly accurate Mapmyrun) and had to grit my teeth for much of it.

The interesting part was on the homeward half when I passed another runner. This in itself is not unusual - the roads I run on are very well used by runners and walkers and people like myself who fall somewhere inbetween. What was interesting was that this runner was an Indian lady, probably in her late forties or early fifties. And she was wearing a full sari, with headscarf. And a brown velvet coat, buttoned up. And gold lame ballet pumps. She passed me running at a fair lick, head down, concentrating. I had in fact seen this lady once before when I was out. She was running on the same stretch of road by the bus stop, wearing pretty much the same outfit. I had sort of just assumed that she was just running a bit to keep warm while waiting for her bus. Clearly not. Clearly she is a serious runner. How cool is that? And how overdressed and dorky did I feel in my lycra capri pants, wicking top, Hilly Monoskin socks and Asics Gel Foundation trainers?

Friday, 25 April 2008

Grown up. Not.

You know when you are a kid, you assume that at some time you magically become a grown-up? You believe there will come a point, a precise moment when there is a loud "ping!" (I always imagined a ping) and you suddenly acquire all the attributes of grown-up-ness. You will know how bank accounts work, how to make real coffee, what inflation is. You will become interested in the news and weather, rather than cartoons. You will suddenly prefer to sit still and chat rather than run around the park screaming at the top of your lungs for no reason other than that you can. You will have money in your purse ALL THE TIME and yet not want to run straight out and spend it all on sweets and comics. You will be allowed to stay up as late as you want and yet decide to go to bed early.

From the child's perspective, I always thought this was rather a gloomy prospect. A bit like that bit in "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy steps out of the house into Munchkinland and the film turns from grainy black and white to dazzling Technicolcour, except in reverse.

Of course the truth is that we never really grow up. Inside the head of every single "adult" is a 16 year old wondering what the hell happened. You don't grow up, you just learn new stuff and run out of time to do some of the fun stuff. You get a bit of experience of life and put it into practice (if I have to be at work at 9am tomorrow, there is no way I am going out to bars until 2am. I will die.) That's not being a grown-up. It's just self-preservation.

But as you get older, despite knowing inside for certain that you are not grown-up and you are not turning into your parents, the outward indicators keep piling up, making it harder and harder to maintain that illusion/delusion. Mortgage? Check. Know what the hell a mortgage is? Check. Actually turn on the TV for the news? Check. Kids? Grey hair? Wrinkles? Check. Check. Check. For goodness sake, I even start sentences with "When I was young, we didn't have.......(complete with DVD, video games, PVRs, internet etc).

I knew it was getting dicey when the children started asking questions beginning with those awful words "In the olden days,......." I remember having conversations with my parents where I roared with laughter at my Dad telling me about his job as a boy, delivering milk around the dark streets and closes of Leith, pulling a handcart with an oil lantern on it because there were no streetlights. It sounded Dickensian to me and was proof positive that my Dad was old, old old. Looking back, I must have been about 12 at the time, which would make my Dad about 36. That's 5 years younger than I am now. And now I recognise that look in my boys' eyes when I tell them that you couldn't pause live TV or even record it when I was young. When a programme was on, you watched it and it was gone. You couldn't see it again. To kids brought up on endless DVDs, multiple TV channels the internet and PVRs, that sounds like the stone age.

But I am not defeated. I am not a grown up and I can prove it. I may have a few gray hairs. They may not all be on my head. I may have wrinkles. I may look forward to a sit down and a nice cup of tea more than I used to. But I don't wear glasses. Hah! Accordingly, I hereby declare that until you have to wear glasses, you are still a youngster*. So there.

*I reserve the right to change this rule if and when I have to get glasses.

Monday, 21 April 2008

You there, at the back!

I got my race number for the Great Edinburgh Run at the weekend. I am in pink section B. For the uninitiated, when you register for a run like this, they ask you to estimate how fast you are going to run the course. Then they can allocate people into groups of similar ability so that the course doesn't get too congested with faster runners trying to get through from the back past lardy and inexperienced slowcoaches like me. Sensible, yes?

Trouble is, I registered months and months and months ago and had never run more than 5k at that point and had no idea how fast I could do 10k, or indeed if I could do 10k at all. So I played safe and plumped for the longest estimate (God forbid I should be too optimistic about my abilities). I am therefore in the last possible wave to go - the race starts off at 10.20am and my group does not go until 10.48!! I think I may be in the group of people intending to walk the course and stop for a cup of tea and a bun halfway round. However, I am being positive - I should now have a good chance of being able to overtake SOMEONE, no?

Joking apart, I am really looking forward to the race. Even if my baby brother did tell me over the weekend that he went outdoors (rather than on the treadmill) for the first time at the weekend and did 5.6 miles in 53 minutes. It takes me an hour and 14 minutes to do about that distance. Sigh.

I am also toying with the idea of putting a sign on my t-shirt for the race. People often put their names on their shirts so people can shout encouragement. The back of my Children 1st t-shirt is currently blank, and I am tempted to put something on there. At the moment, I am leaning towards a sign that says "Hi, I'm Loth. Don't worry - I always turn this colour!" Any other suggestions gratefully received.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Hocus Pocus Eruption

We had a FANTASTIC time last night! And on a school night! We are such rebels. Husband was feeling a little daunted at the prospect of a night on the town as he had literally just got off the plane from a three day business trip and a large part of him wanted to veg in front of the telly with a large whisky. However, it is not often that one gets the chance to see living legends, so off we went.

Managed to find The Ferry in Glasgow which is, as it sounds, a former ferry moored on the Clyde and even arrived with time to spare so we went for a wander along the river first. At the appointed time we headed for the venue and ended up with spots right in front of the stage (more by accident than design but we were happy enough). I seemed to be the only female in the front row and we were vastly outnumbered by large, bald Glaswegians in their fifties, cradling their pints.

The support band was a hoot. They go by the name of Whimwise and are a startling combination of prog-rock hippies from the early 70s (a couple of them used to be in a band I've never heard of called "The Enid" - Shauna, ask Gareth if he knows them!) and modern day younger hippies. There were 8 people on a stage the size of a pool table and the guitarist was close enough to us that we nearly got bopped on the head by his guitar when he got carried away. I really wish we had had a camera with us because any description of the band just will not do it justice. But I'll try.

There was a drummer and a keyboard player who were relatively normal (bit more hair than most, but not ridiculously so). The guitarist was wearing a shirt with lace collar and cuffs and a gold and green brocade jacket. He was one of the original survivors from the 70s. The guy on double bass was one of the younger recruits and as well as waist length hair that merged almost imperceptibly into his chest-length beard, was sporting a sort of medieval tunic: padded quilted red cotton with a sort of pleated skirt/peplum affair. Moving on we got to the singer. Or more accurately, the wailer. No lyrics but a fair bit of swooshy moo-ing and atmospheric howling. (At the end of one particularly impassioned solo - all closed eyes and swaying - she was rewarded with the traditional cry of "Gaun yersel' hen!" from the crowd). She looked like she really really wanted to be Stevie Nicks.

Almost done. Next was the flute player who had outdone himself. Long black hair and shades a la Ozzy Osbourne, blue sweatpants with an orange tie-dye scarf tied round his middle, topped off with a cerise satin t-shirt and a purple crushed velvet jacket. I'm surprised people couldn't hear his clothes from Edinburgh. The clarinet player was suprisingly restrained in a black frock and footless tights. Last but not least the........I'm not sure what to call her. She spent a lot of time stroking (rather than playing) a drum, she had some wind chime-type things and a rain maker (one of those long tubes full of rattly stuff you probably last played in primary school.) She was a mature lady, clouds of vehemently henna'd hair so bright you could read by it and lots of scarves, bangles, rings etc. The overall effect was.......quite something. They didn't take themselves too seriously and actually got a remarkably good reception from the crowd. Not sure I could hum any of their tunes though.

But Focus were something else. The energy was astonishing - a roadie had to nail the drummer's bass drum to the floor at one point! - especially since the two main guys are 60+. You have seriously never lived until you have been on a boat on the Clyde, yodelling in unison with 200 happy Glaswegians and some Dutchmen. I strongly recommend seeing them if you can. And if you can't, get yourself a copy of Focus Live at the Rainbow and get yodelling. You know it makes sense. Husband managed to shake Thijs van Leer's hand before we left, so he was happy.

We crawled home by about half past midnight, had a cup of tea (mandatory, we're Scottish) and crawled into bed. Must find someone else to go out and see now. This social life lark is addictive.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Ha! I win!

I have been getting increasingly twitchy this week, wanting to run. I managed that little run on the treadmill at the weekend and my foot felt really good afterwards. I also had a call with my little brother about plans for the race in which we discussed the route and which bits we really weren't looking forward to. It made me realise that the race is only about a fortnight or so away and I really really really want to be ready for it.

However, Husband is away on business this week so I can't go out for long periods because the boys, if left alone, may blow up the house or irritate each other to death, or possibly smother the cat with affection and teatowels (cat dress-up. Don't ask). He left early on Tuesday morning and is not back until Thursday but we are due to be out on Thursday evening* so I can't run then and was not happy about the prospect of not running until Friday morning at the earliest. The lovely weather we have been having in the evenings has not helped my mood.

When I came home tonight, the sun was shining and I really, really wanted to go for a run. So I cunningly suggested a visit to the local park with the boys (and a spare one who was lying around in our living room eating our cookies) and they fell for it! I put some running gear on and while they charged up to the park in a whirring blur of boy (think Tasmanian Devil in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons) I gently jogged after them. They hit the park and I ran on a bit further down the lane before doubling back (this run is called "Schtumpenback" because it involves running to a big dead tree stump. And back.) and running a couple of laps round the outside of the football field.

It wasn't really a run, more a few short jogs interspersed with interruptions (FB rugby tackling me in order to present me with a daffodil which he had picked for me, and me thanking him for the gesture but asking him not to nick the daffodils) It only lasted for about 45 minutes and a lot of that wasn't actual running as such, but at least I got out of doors and had a wee bit of exercise. In the sunshine! Remember sunshine?

Oh, and foot feeling fine, so fingers crossed.

And I am thinking of volunteering to marshal at the Edinburgh Marathon, since I am unlikely ever to become involved in a marathon in any other capacity and a number of my "virtual" running friends are participating and it would be nice to be able to wave at them like a loon in an official capacity.

* We are going to watch Focus in concert in Glasgow. Ageing, overweight, yodelling Dutch 70s prog-rockers. Can't wait

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Envy and joy (and sniffles)

Those were the primary emotions sloshing around this morning as I watched the London Marathon on TV. (I am a runner now, so have to watch the FLM. It's the law.) I really really wanted to be there - not necessarily running, just to be there and be part of it. It's probably a good job that SB turned 8 on Thursday and had a wee party with four of his friends yesterday at our house, so I didn't have to wrestle with the issue of whether I could justify a trip to London to watch people I don't know run around for 26 miles!

The joy bit was huge too, though. I got tearful at one point watching the elite men running (do you know they hit the 10km mark at 29 minutes!!! OMG!!). They passed a water station and as they did so, the runners nearest the water picked up bottles and then handed them across to the guys nearer the centre of the road. There were about a dozen in the group at that stage, I assume all fiercely competitive athletes, burning to win, and they all passed water to each other like they were out on a club run. I don't know why, but that just seemed really nice to me and I got all teary. Sap that I am. Oh and it was kind of nice in an evil way to watch Gordon Ramsay get cramp.

I joined in in my own small way at one point. I took FB to karate and discovered in the car that I had forgotten my HRM so couldn't run outside as I wouldn't be able to tell the time for getting back. I had also left my iPod behind (you're impressed with my organisational skills aren't you? Let me run your court action!) so had nothing to listen to in the gym. And you all know how stimulating I find treadmill running even with some music to distract me. Blech. So I hopped on the treadmill, set the TV to BBC1 and ran watching the marathon, with no sound (no headphones, duh!). So all I need to be able to manage a treadmill run is 32,000 people willing to run around London on a Sunday morning. Piece of cake.

I had decided to do a short run to see how the dodgy foot fared so ran for 25 minutes, stretched A LOT, particularly the right calf, just in case and then did about 15 minutes on the cross trainer to finish off. The foot feels okay just now, but then I have been wearing trainers all day. We'll see how it is tomorrow morning when I crawl out of bed like one of the undead and try to put office shoes on.

SB's little party yesterday was quite fun. Four of his friends came over and we had an impromptu Wii boxing and tennis tournament (Husband joined in the tennis!) followed by a brief session of parade drill where Husband taught a gaggle of small boys how to stand to attention. It didn't go entirely smoothly but there was much hilarity (and desertion). There was then a treasure hunt I had laid around the house (too wet to allow clues in the garden) and some flying of SB's new remote control helicopter - it is small enough to fly indoors and is really cool. Then I fed the boys some inappropriate food, got them hyped up on sugar and delivered them back to their parents in time for Doctor Who. (SB spent time in the back of our car with one of his friends trying to explain how he had seen a man on TV who "smells" people's personalities and how Gordon Brown apparently smells like mouldy potatoes and muddy earth. I wish I had been in the house when SB's friend tried to explain that one to his mum!)

And now it is Sunday evening, I have scoffed a (rather large) bowl of lemon and rocket risotto and am off to scan the running blogs to see if any of the FLM guys have posted. Because you just know that the first thing they did once they got their medal was to declare "I must find a laptop and post forthwith! Other bloggers will be on tenterhooks waiting!" Whereas in the unlikely event that I ever completed the London marathon, I would be found standing atop Big Ben yelling "I just ran a marathon!! Worship me!!" For about a week.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Daddy in the Dark

I know exactly what I was doing 8 years ago tonight. I was pacing around, demanding that my poor husband shove his fist repeatedly into my back. Hard. In response to his nervous enquiries about whether he was being a bit forceful, and didn't that hurt? I hissed at him to shut up and push. I also said a lot of bad words. Or at least thought them. It is perfectly possible that no words in the English language could have squeezed themselves through my gritted teeth.

I was in something like the 37th hour of labour and the novelty had worn off. I really really just wanted this baby out. He was having none of it. The staff on the labour ward had kindly provided me with one of those huge plastic exercise balls. Apparently, sitting on that made the pain of labour easier to bear. Balls, indeed. I lasted about 30 seconds before declaring that they all clearly had a bet on as to who could get a desparate pregnant woman to do the most ridiculous thing in the search for pain relief. I may have kicked the ball. I certainly wanted to.

By about 10pm, I had, as instructed by the midwives, hung on as long as I could. I was pooped. I wanted drugs. Husband went in search of narcotics, having first coached me through another three contractions. He then had the unenviable task of breaking it to me that there would be a wait while they found a room and a doctor. I gritted my teeth and hung on (not much else I could do, really). A midwife came round to say they couldn't find a doctor to administer the diamorphine. She took one look at me, rapidly and accurately assessed the level of my homicidal tendencies and said she'd administer it herself. Bliss. It didn't stop hurting, but it definitely hurt less.

Time dragged on. Midnight approached. Still no sign of baby. The midwife suggested we try to speed things up by breaking my waters. I agreed (frankly by that stage if she had appeared with a Dyson I'd have given it a go). Instead she approached me with a really big crochet hook. I don't know exactly what happened after that because I didn't look. I think I saw some of the staff surfing down the hall though.

Midwife then had a quick rummage and a look I really didn't like crossed her face. "Ah" she said. "That doesn't feel like a head....." (Bit of background here, I had pre-eclampsia first time round and a c-section. First Born was breech, and firmly so. My consultant had made it quite clear very early on that if Second Born was breech I was having another section, no argument. I agreed.) An ultrasound machine was produced out of nowhere (as husband muttered under his breath about why they couldn't have checked this eight hours ago) and confirmed SB was undeniably bum-first. And big.

So SB entered the world in the early hours of the morning of 10 April by c-section. We had the same music playing as was playing when FB was born: Husband's album of his own songs. Interestingly, the precise same track was playing when each boy was pulled into the world, backside first. I didn't see SB at first, being flat on my back, but Husband reliably informs me that SB was placed on my stomach and gave his parents a very appraising look. Sort of "Oh, dear, not sure about you two. We'll see....." He still gives us that look now.

Tomorrow that squirming, chubby lump of baby turns eight years old. I can hardly believe only 8 years have passed and yet at the same time, I can barely believe there was a time when he wasn't here. As I write this, Husband is upstairs chatting to the boys in the dark of their bedroom, a ritual I have mentioned before and which has now been formally christened "Daddy in the Dark". He is telling them the story of SB's birth, a special request after he told the story of FB's birth back in February. The same story I have just told you. Happy Birthday SB.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Do you want to hear about my foot?

I'm sorry it has been a little quiet over here. Weekends are normally prime slobbing around and blogging time but for various reasons, not this weekend. First, to get that title out of the way, I have a sore foot. Yes, I now feel like a real runner as I have picked up a wee injury. A sore right foot, just at the heel. People on the splendid website where I chatter inanely about running (even more than I do here, believe it or not) have remotely diagnosed this as plantar fasciitis. Or, as I prefer to refer to it, planetary fashionitis (which I like to imagine as a condition recognisable by the incredible urge to go out running dressed as Sarah Brightman in her "I lost my heart to a starship trooper" days.)

So I have not been running for a wee while, hoping it will respond to stretching and massaging and rest and muttered prayers. It is feeling a bit better now so fingers crossed it will be okay for me to resume preparations for the run on 4 May. Less than a month to go. Gulp.

The children spent the latter part of last week with my parents in Cumbria visiting my brother and his family. Husband and I were working and could not go. It has been suggested that this was a cunning ploy on my part to interfere with my brother's training for the race but this is absolutely not true. I am not that devious. Or smart. The kids had a great time with their cousins, including a re-run of a game they invented last year at Centerparcs which goes by the curious name of "Something off the trolley, dears?" Not sure of the rules but it involves a lot of jumping on beds and screaming.

Husband and I had dinner out on Wednesday, dinner out of M&S on Thursday (yum!) and a long walk on Friday to work off some of the big lunches we had had out that day. On Saturday morning we had the luxury of going out for breakfast. Breakfast that we did not have to cook or clear up after. I had eggs benedict because if someone else is going to make hollandaise sauce for me, I will not say no. It was delicious. And decadent.

Then we went shopping which was less fun and decadent but needed to be done and in the afternoon, we went to pick the boys up from my parents in Livingston. Then the evening was, of course, devoted to Doctor Who's triumphant return to our screens. Please tell me I wasn't the only woman thinking "If those pills really existed, you know, I might take them. Even if it did mean small aliens bursting out of my thighs in the wee small hours. Weight loss and a cute pet all in one go!" We then had to watch Doctor Who Confidential and promise PROMISE to record some old episodes of Doctor Who for First Born before stapling the children into bed for the night. And do you know how I know that First Born is a true die-hard Dr Who fan? I caught him on Sunday morning watching the first ever Dalek adventure. In black and white, with William Hartnell as the Doctor. No CGI, no special effects, no groovy music, no colour, and he was still standing rigid in the middle of the living room trembling with excitement as the end of the episode cliffhanger approached. That's devotion, that is.

Sunday we spent in Troon, having battled through the snow to find it is actually spring in Ayrshire. We were through visiting my father-in-law. He hasn't been in the best of health recently and we always worry about him because he is on his own and we can't do as much for him as we'd like, seeing as we are on the other side of the country (and he stoutly maintains he is fine and doesn't want to move). It was a relief to find him in good form and pretty perky.

And now it is Monday and we are back into the throes of work and what have you. Weekends just don't last long enough.

PS I haven't forgotten about The Apprentice. I am still recovering from the Medusa-like glare of Jenny from last week and have not been able to marshal my thoughts adequately. Also, still slightly bemused by Raefe. Is he real? Do people somewhere really talk like that? Who created his hair? And how on earth do you pronounce his surname?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining

I have just discovered an unexpected benefit of middle age and its attendant memory loss. I always have a stack (or two, or three) of books around the house waiting to be read. Earlier this week I picked the top book off the nearest stack and started reading. I am now halfway through this book and it has gradually dawned on me that this is not a new book and I have actually read it before. Middle age has, however, ensured that I cannot for the life of me remember how it ends. So, two books for the price of one. Effectively. At this rate, give me another 10 years and I will be satisfied with reading and re-reading the same Jeffrey Archer novel ad infinitum.*

* No, I won't and my husband knows if this ever happens, it is time to call in the men in white coats.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

It's a man thing

I was totally, honestly, genuinely gestating this post and then Heather blogged about it and linked to another blog on the same topic and now I am going to look like I am so desparate for material that I pinch topics from other bloggers. Which I would never do. Well, not that often. Unless it was a really good one. Anyway, the topic under discussion is: people of the male gender and their inability to find anything unless it is actually lodged in the vicinity of their nasal cavity.

Living with three boys (I discount the cat who, although female, is no use when it comes to shopping, baking or finding stuff) I am constantly hailed with "I can't find my [insert crucial item which must be found NOW here]!" The conversation nearly always proceeds thus (usually with the kids. Husband has wised up) -

Me: It's on your dresser/in your wardrobe/in the drawer/ hanging up in the cupboard

Boy: No it's not, I've looked.

Me: Have you looked properly?

Boy: Yes, and it's really not there!

Me: If I come up there and find it where I said it was, can I hit you with it?

Boy: ( )

Me: ?

Boy: Found it!!

First Born couldn't find his garter once (the little elastic band type thing that keeps his school sock up). After much wailing that it was LOST and WOULD NEVER BE FOUND, I went up and found it lying on his bed. Beside the rest of his uniform. Where I said it would be. Hitting him with a small piece of elastic would have been no fun so I chased him round the house and pinged him with it. Very satisfying.

PS: I don't think I like this template/colour scheme after all. Might have to change again. What do you think?