Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Curse that snow

I normally quite like snow, and the snow we have had this year has been unusually copious and of exactly the right quality for making snowmen and playing snowball tennis. Good fun. However today the snow has just scuppered things. Lots of things.

My brother and his family were supposed to be visiting today and we were going to take all the kids bowling. He lives in Cockermouth and at 12 noon he phoned me to say they had made it as far as Carlisle, it was unlikely they would make it to us before 2pm so could we just rendezvous at my parents' house in Livingston instead? No problem, I said. I will get home from work (yes, I am back at work, thanks for asking), scoop up the kids and head out.

I left the office and as I walked towards where my car was parked, big fat snowflakes began to fall. The kind that cover you and coat your eyelashes in seconds. By the time I was driving home, the roads were becoming a bit iffy (yes, yes, Canadian faction, we are hopeless in snow because we are not used to it and don't have snow tyres and stuff). Half an hour later at home, I phoned my mum and dad and said sorry, I am not risking driving out to Livingston in this weather. (Despite being only 17 miles from Edinburgh, Livingston is inland and always has worse weather than we do). They agreed that was sensible.

Fifteen minutes after that my mum phoned to say that the weather had worsened and they had phoned my brother to warn him. He and his family had turned back towards Cockermouth. This would have been disappointing at the best of times, since my kids love nothing better than playing with their younger cousins, but this time it is excruciating. My brother and his family fly out from the UK the day after tomorrow for Sydney, Australia, and there is every chance they will not be back. They certainly won't be back any time soon. My mum has been deprived of the last chance to see her son and grandchildren and she is beyond miserable. She managed to speak to me for about 20 seconds before choking up and handing the phone over to my Dad.

Damn snow.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Santa has come early!

I often get asked why I blog, and usually waffle about the opportunity to write when I feel like it, the community of commenters and so on. Now, however, I have a better answer: I blog because I GET COOL FREE STUFF!!!!! Seriously, in the last couple of weeks I have gone from being the person who hardly ever wins anything to being Loth Who Wins Everything. (Note to self: buy some lottery tickets today.)

First up, I did a bit of unashamed begging and grovelling to Isabelle and acquired a Christmas elf - look! Here he is worshipping at the feet of Marvin the Christmas Martian.
We have named him Alf. His surname, apparently, is Resco. (Although Isabelle suggested he should be Mr Asixpence, for she is witty.)

Then, as if that was not enough, my completion of a book meme, which I would have paid to be allowed to do, won me a prize on Kate's blog. A lovely, pristine, sent-across-the-chilly-Atlantic-from-my-favourite-part-of-the-planet, copy of her new book. Do you want to see it? Of course you do.

It is not only lovely, it is signed. I can't wait to dive in and read it, provided I can keep the boys away from it for long enough. Fortunately, at the moment, it looks like this outside our house:

The boys are therefore fully occupied outside, scraping every last snowflake in our garden into one huge pile for reasons which are not entirely clear to me. I'm guessing it's an operation that makes sense if you are a 9 year old boy. Scotland has been decidely wintery over the past couple of days - temperatures down to -16 in some parts - and I am glad I am not at work today. Poor husband had to de-snow the car this morning before gingerly driving into town. My poor sister-in-law is having to make the journey across the country today to pick up my father-in-law from Troon. She has wisely decided not to drive (there are 6 jack-knifed lorries on the M8 at the moment) so is going to brave the trains. Keep your fingers crossed for her, will you?

I am off now to resist Kate's book a while longer and get the spare room ready for FIL's arrival

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Promise Honoured

Well, as I promised, here is a photograph of Edinburgh's Most Vulgar Christmas Tree. This is what happens if you (a) keep every single decoration your children have ever made in school and use ALL of them; (b) keep all the tinsel you have ever owned regardless of how old/bald/garish it is; and (c) let your sons do the decorating without intervening at all. (Well except to point out that the decorations are not actually supposed to trail on the carpet. Ideally.)Tasteful, eh? I particularly like the football at the base that I hadn't even noticed until I uploaded the photo. I also love the figure on the top of the tree.

For years we used to put anything that took our fancy on the top: a wooden penguin, a Halloween spider with fangs and a purple mohican, and a china pig with a halo to name but three. Then we got Marvin and he has become a fixture. The punk Halloween spider is cross about this but there is little he can do, crushed as he is in the bottom of the boys' wardrobe.

I suppose I should go off and write some Christmas cards now. Or, alternatively, I could make a cup of tea and have one of the brownies I baked earlier. Hmmm............

Sunday, 13 December 2009

I'm forcibly Christmas-ed now

You will all be relieved to hear that SB was not dressed up as the lead singer of Imagination for the nativity play after all. He was however very fetching in a gold lame cloak with a leopard skin sort of affair over the shoulders and a gold crown. He looked much better than the other two Magi and I am not biased at all.

The whole nativity was quite interesting. It was done as part of the carol service in the school's local church, which meant that as we arrived, the three angels were already installed up in the stone pulpit. This also meant that we got a good view of some very bored angels, heads slumped on their arms as they waited for everything to kick off. Not very angelic but quite funny.

The first verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel was sung as a solo by one of SB's classmates. I don't know her but I still got a lump in my throat. As I did when the choir were singing. Something about small-ish children singing makes me slightly soppy.

There was also a brilliant scene between Mary and Joseph and a succession of innkeepers. Joseph asked for room for his pregnant wife, the innkeepers came up with more and more reasons why they could not have one - richer, more important people were coming and so on. Joseph got more and more desparate and irate each time, at one point crying "But my wife is in labour!" I was sort of expecting the next line to be "Look! Her waters have broken for Pete's sake!!!" Sadly it wasn't.

I did the whole thing again the next day for First Born's year group carol service, although being mature Primary 7s, they didn't dress up at all. We then came home, bringing an additional child (friend of FB's) for a visit. There was much running about with toy guns that fire foam darts and yelling. I kept well away, just thrusting food in front of them at the appropriate time. (FB claims to have been laughing so hard during dinner that he snorted 2 beans up his nose. I was fortunately not there so cannot confirm or deny this rumour.)

Then yesterday was a visit to Peebles to take SB to a party at the swimming pool there. FB and I wandered around Peebles in the cold and the dark (the party started at 4pm which might as well be midnight for all the daylight there is available at that time) looking in the shop windows. There are a lot of shoe shops in Peebles. Not quite sure why.

The drive back was a bit hairy as we had very very thick fog here all day and the road between Edinburgh and Peebles is dark and windy. We were so relieved to be back in Edinburgh that we went to the chip shop. Naturally. (Husband was away in Glasgow at a Depeche Mode concert, for he is cooler than we are.)

Now it is Sunday and we are planning to laze about and possibly, maybe put up Scotland's Most Tasteless Christmas Tree. There might even be pictures.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I hate to break this to you

I popped over to our local shop this evening to buy some milk. It's one of those shops that sells everything from bread and milk to newspapers, wine and sellotape. Today I also noticed that it is selling Special Edition KitKat bars. Special Edition EASTER KitKat bars. In December. Kill me now.

Monday, 7 December 2009

I'm really looking forward to Thursday now

Second Born is participating in a Christmas service at school on Thursday. The primary 5 year group is presenting a dramatisation of the Nativity. SB was put forward for the auditions by his teacher and announced last week that he had been cast as one of the Wise Men. (We initially took this with a pinch of salt - we still haven't forgotten the time in Primary 1 when he claimed he was playing Joseph and when we turned up, he was actually Generic Shepherd Number 6)

He has however been learning his lines and it does indeed look like he is to be one of the Magi. Today when I picked him up from school he announced that they had been trying on their costumes.

"You should see mine, Mum. Imagine an Eighties pop star with a bit of Christianity mixed in."

I tried. I wasn't entirely sure I had the right picture in my head though, until he said

"It's sort of lots of shiny gold with a bit of leopardskin".

Oh dear. I had the right mental image after all. This is going to be an interesting Nativity.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Another normal conversation

Husband to First Born: "Stop bombing Barbara Streisand!"
FB: "But my base is being attacked, what am I supposed to do?"
SB: "I'd be more scared of Barbara Streisand"

This is what happens when Husband is browsing stuff on Spotify whilst FB plays with the DS in the same room. I am surprisingly sane, considering.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

It's quiet. Too quiet.

The peace and unshattered tranquility around here is unnerving. First Born has been in London since Monday on a school trip and won't be back until Friday. So we only have Second Born around and he is the quieter of the two anyway (he prefers the stealthy, deadly-accurate one liner over First Born's scattergun talk-the-entire-time-your-eyes-are-open approach.) But oh! the lack of bickering, shouting, whining, complaining, pushing, shoving, door-kicking and throwing of watches across the room in a fit of temper - it's quite wonderful.

Second Born, being the perceptive type, has spotted his opening and is doing his award winning performance of "Perfect Child" (subtitle: Keep me and put the other one out with the bins. You know you want to.) I know it won't last but the hugs and the jokes and the VOLUNTEERING of information about what he did at school and the unpacking of his lunch box without being yelled at asked is very refreshing. I will of course be running the usual sweepstake in which you can all take guesses at how long it will take after First Born returns before the bickering breaks out. (Long term readers will recall the sterling effort put in by both boys when SB came back from school camp and FB had started on him before he even got off the bus.)

In other news......not much, really. I had Monday off for St Andrew's day and chose to celebrate by going to Makro and buying toilet roll. I followed that up with an expedition in to clean the boys' bathroom. The less said about that the better I think. All I will say is that I don't know what it was they were growing by the sink, but it ain't there any more.

After surviving that traumatic afternoon, I plan to institute a new regime whereby the boys each have a task to do each weekend, alternating between cleaning their bathroom and tidying their bedroom. I will announce this on Friday evening so keep your ears open - some of you may be able to hear the howls of protest from where you are.