Friday, 30 April 2010


I had every intention of getting out into the garden and doing some serious weeding in preparation for the planting of some vegetables. But my good intentions were thwarted.

Someone is holding my tools hostage.

I don't get snack, you don't get fork.

Ah well, back to playing Word Twist.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Boys are different. #2

Another morning, another wrangle. This time the.....

"Have you got your waterproof jacket in your schoolbag?"

"It's not raining"

"You live in Scotland. It can rain AT ANY TIME ON ANY DAY. Get your waterproof"......

routine. The culprit this time was Second Born who steadfastly maintained that he did indeed have his waterproof in his bag. Call me cynical but I checked. I did not find his waterproof but I did find a bag of apple slices left over from his lunch. Now, my forensic science skills derive entirely from my voracious reading of Kathy Reichs and Jeffrey Deaver books, but I reckon the lunch from which the apple was left over happened about 3 weeks ago. The bag was full of brown squishiness. I really only knew it was once apple because I recognised the bag.

SB, needless to say, was unfazed by my initial yelp of surprise and the subsequent expressions of disgust from the rest of the family. "I must have forgotten to eat my apple," he shrugged.

Boys. Girls wouldn't do that, would they? And, hypothetically, say if I had girls and I were to climb up on to the top bunk of the bed in the spare bedroom to change the sheets, I probably wouldn't find a plate strewn with crumbs and the dessicated remnants of a piece of ham hard enough to cut wood with, would I? Thought not.

(Note to self: my mum is coming to stay tomorrow and will be sleeping in that bed. Carry out emergency reconnaissance as soon as this post is published.)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Boys are different. They just are.

So, Friday was interesting. I spent a chunk of the morning before we set off for work/school mopping blood off the bathroom floor.

The boys had been engaging in their customary pre-school skirmishing ("It's my turn to have music on!" "No it's not, and I don't want to listen to "Firestarter" in the morning anyway!") and I was studiously ignoring them while getting dressed. Then the level of wailing coming from FB rose a couple of octaves and a couple of hundred decibels - a sure sign that physical hurt of some sort had occurred. This was confirmed shortly by SB dashing into my room and breathlessly announcing that "FB has hurt himself"

I sauntered into their bedroom with very little in the way of concern - FB's idea of what constitutes grave injury does not exactly tally with the rest of humanity's. I am quite accustomed to having to utilise a magnifying glass to locate the wound from which FB claims to be "almost bleeding to death and you're not even bothered!!!!!!".

However on this occasion I was greeted by the sight of FB literally dripping blood. It was running down his forehead and dripping rather dramatically off the end of his nose. He was practically hysterical. I manouevred him into the bathroom and eventually calmed him down enough to get him to stand with his head over the sink. I am no nurse but I am familiar enough with head wounds to know that any scratch on the scalp bleeds like billy-o and looks like something from a Hammer horror movie circa 1973, and that therefore this probably looked a lot worse than it was. It did. A gentle rinse under the tap disclosed a small cut on his head which stopped bleeding with a little bit of pressure. FB started to breathe normally after about 10 minutes.

I asked how this had happened. "I was putting my belt on and it hit my head." It is a mark of how far I have come in my understanding of boys that this did not phase me in the slightest. I just nodded.

"Need to be a bit more careful next time, eh?"

It was only when I got into work and was regaling my co-workers with this tale that some light was shed. Most of the other people in the room where I work responded with "What? How on earth did he manage that?" A significant proportion however (all male, aged 25-40) nodded sagely.

"Indiana Jones moment"

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

I am an idiot

Sunshine over the weekend? Was I seriously hoping for more sunshine? That is the very definition of "triumph of hope over experience". Today we got hail. HAIL! The newly arrived, fragile and lovely blossom on the trees was battered into wilted submission by little pellets of ice falling from the sky. (No volcanic dust in it though - I checked.) Spring this year is weird.

In other news, FB passed two great childhood milestones in the last few days. On Saturday he travelled by bus from outside our house to our nearest bookshop (a journey of about half a mile) and back, all by himself. This is quite a big deal for our First Born with all his various developmental and other issues and his father and I nearly hyperventilated ourselves into early graves waiting for him to return. Which he did, grinning, proud of himself and bearing the new Skulduggery Pleasant book which he had found and purchased all by himself.

Then, yesterday, he jumped over a small stream in a park near my parents' house, landed in mud, got stuck in mud, lost his right shoe in mud and then finally fell over into mud as he struggled to pull his said shoe from said mud. Not something one would normally consider a huge achievement, I know, but it's the most typical "messy small boy" thing he has ever done and, more importantly, he allowed his grandparents and his brother to tease him about it without having a complete meltdown. He even laughed a little himself about how stinky he was and the fact that he had to travel back in Grandad's car wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a t-shirt. Coping with and joking about a situation where he lost his dignity as well as his shoe? Big step for FB. I am proud. (And glad that my mum got the job of washing the clothes and stinky shoes.)

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Greetings from under the cloud!

I write from dusty Edinburgh, draped in a delicate layer of volcanic ash. Personally I am delighted by this development as it means that the whole city is soon going to look remarkably like my living room. My (lack of) housekeeping skills are, as you all know, legendary, and I knew I could drag everyone down to my level eventually!

Having said that, my garden is looking, if not exactly pristine, certainly better than it was. I have cut the grass for the first time this year and by a careful application of (1) promises of ice cream and (2) cold hard cash, persuaded the boys to assist with a bit of weeding. SB was game but FB after a bit of desultory poking around with a fork, declared that there were too many beasties around and retreated to the house.

Zyra and Bellus, on the other hand, thoroughly approve of the beasties. They are particularly enamoured of the big fat bumble bees which have been tempted out into the spring sunshine. The bees stoat drunkenly about roughly twelve inches above the ground - a distance otherwise known as "perfect cat attack height". I am curious to see what will happen if either of them actually manages to catch one. A bee sting might be suitable karmic payback for the small crowd of deceased mice which have, one by one, been brought into our house over the past couple of weeks. I suppose we should be grateful that the said mice had been quickly despatched and were not brought in alive and then toyed with on our carpets.

Praying now that this lovely sunshine will continue through the weekend when we can actually enjoy it.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

I must be getting on a bit

Astonishing. My younger son is 10. Both of my children are in double digits. I can hardly believe that. It seems like only a few months ago that we brought SB home from hospital, a bouncing, healthy, hungry and chubby boy who was nicknamed "Humpty SB" for ages due to his generous proportions. That said, he now has the physique of a fitness-mad whippet (although that may not last long given he blew £5 of his birthday money on an absolute mountain of cut price Easter chocolate today - big Lindt Easter gold bunnies for £1!)

I think I have been irritating SB just a little bit this last week, repeatedly grabbing hold of him and wailing "My baby! My baby is going to be 10! Don't leave me, my baby!" His eye-roll is now worthy of the most jaded teenager, but at least he still lets me hug him. For now.

SB was given the option of where to have his celebration dinner on Friday and he chose a little italian restaurant close to where Husband and I work. Despite being a petite soon-to-be-10-year-old with the aforementioned pipecleaner physique, he managed to pack away calamari, followed by pepperoni pizza followed by vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce. The boy must have hollow legs or a Tardis stomach or something. Even FB, the dairy allergic boy, enjoyed the outing - the kind staff spirited away the lump of dairy-free cheese substitute I brought along and produced a creditable milk product-less pizza for him. Dessert stumped them, but then desserts always stump restaurants when faced with someone who cannot partake of the juice of the cow, and I can't blame them for that. Fortunately I had come prepared with a bag of jelly babies in my handbag.

On Saturday, the day of The Birthday itself, Granny and Grandad came to visit and partake of tea and cake. SB had requested that his cake this year bear a "flaming skull" motif. Which is why I spent part of Friday night searching Google Images for "flaming skulls: how to draw". The list of my talents grows ever longer, and slightly weirder. I would post a photograph of the finished item but I don't really want to risk attracting that sort of traffic.

The cake went down well and SB enjoyed forcing his grandparents to play him at various Wii games including golf and boxing. In a memorable boxing match, SB and his granny managed to simultaneously knock each other out. We decided to declare that one a draw.

SB is now enjoying the aftermath of his birthday revels, contemplating what he is going to spend all his newly-acquired cash on. I hope to goodness he comes up with something other than chocolate.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Did you miss me?

I'm back! What do you mean, you didn't know I was away? Did I not mention that Husband and I were off to Prague for a wee trip sans children? Whoops, sorry. And then we got back and there was stuff to do, hospital appointments, last week of school..........

So! Husband and I were in Prague a couple of weekends ago! Husband's annual Czech-based judgely huddle was taking place on a Friday so we decided to extend the trip a little and leave the children to look after Granny and Grandad for a few days. Last time we went to Prague we flew out on a Monday and back on a Thursday and I have to say that is preferable by far to the arrangement this time whereby we flew out on Thursday and back on Sunday. Why is that, you may ask?

Two words: stag weekends. We found ourselves sitting on a plane in the middle of a group of very loud Scottish blokes wearing wigs. And one of them (the groom, presumably) was also wearing a dress. And a string of orange wooden beads. The sight of anyone's cleavage looming over one is a bit hard to take first thing on a Thursday morning. When that cleavage is pasty white and hairy to boot, off-putting doesn't begin to describe it.

Prague was lovely as ever. We stay in an absolutely wonderful hotel - this one - which is located right in the centre of the city, a couple of minutes on foot from the Charles Bridge. Our room this time had two huge windows which opened out onto a view of the river, the Bridge, Prague Castle and a row of yellow light-up penguins. I would show you all a photograph but we didn't bother to take the camera with us, a decision whichwas curiously liberating - there is something rather nice about just enjoying a scene rather than fretting about trying to capture the perfect photo of it.

We did take one photo. I insisted that Husband take a snap on his phone of one of the many market stalls selling Prague ham - huge lumps of pig roasting over open wood fires. I suspected that First Born, the World's Greatest Carnivore, would be drooling at the sight and I was right.

Prague is a carnivore's playground. In addition to the aforementioned Prague ham, in the course of 4 days Husband and I also managed to consume duck (and duck liver), venison, smoked pork knuckle, smoked pork sausage and wild boar. And dumplings. Lots of dumplings. Which aren't technically meat but since they are often served with a gravy boat full of the roasting juices from the accompanying meat to pour over, they soon become pretty meat-ish. I am getting hungry just writing this.

So Prague was great and we enjoyed the child-less nature of the days, being able to wander down a street because we felt like it without a chorus of "Where are we going? Why are we going down here? What's down this street? What are we going to do when we get down this street? I'm hungry/thirsty/bored" Not that we don't love our children, but it is nice to behave in an unadulteratedly adult manner once in a while.

And since we got back we have had the usual whirl of work, school run and so on. The Easter holidays began on 2 April so we have the pleasure of the boys' company for more of the time. As I type, Husband is upstairs completing the putting-to-bed ritual, which in his case seems to involve a lot of prodding, tickling, screaming and general mayhem. The kids are almost as bad.

I will try to do a little more updating soon. Promise.