Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

'Tis the time of year when newspapers and journals stop even pretending to find news and, instead, fill their pages with reviews of the year, decade and pompous predictions.
Bloggers everywhere have joined in with their pondering on the months gone and the brightness or otherwise of the future.
But, really, we were all there for the last 12 months, so we all know what happened, don't we? I can't imagine that my considerations will add much.
Instead, here's my year in numbers.

1 new son
1 new nephew
1 job interviews
0 jobs offered
2 family bereavements
1 funeral attended
1 funeral planned
7 trips to the theatre - Joseph, HMS Pinafore, Little Shop of Horrors, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, A View from the Bridge, Wizard of Oz, Aladdin
1 national competition's final reached
150 Clexane injections
1 time management course missed due to lack of time
2 punctures repaired
5 ultrasound scans
1 council completion certificate issued - after widening the extension doors
1 slate mine visited
1 wedding attended
14 number of under-8s football games supported - at least from a distance
4 number of under-8s football victories
9 books read and discussed for book group
1 number of SEO writing courses completed
3 number of nights spent in Fife
2 number of hills climbed (not counting Penrith Beacon)
6 number of fireworks lit
18.5 number of kilos gained
16.3 number of kilos lost

Things I learned from my children today

It's good when a plan comes together. It was Christmas Day and the family had gathered. The dining table was groaning with unopened gifts and Granny was wanting them dished out so the table could be prepared for the feast.
Suddenly the Panther of News asked: "Where's Boy One?"
"Never mind, let's open the prezzies anyway."
"We'd best wait."
"Nah. But 'lo what's this really big present doing here?"
And out bursts Boy One wearing a huge grin and bearing the spoils of his trip to the school bring and buy wrapped for the family. He'd been waiting in the box with a torch and his DSi for his big moment. And who says Aspies aren't good at planning?

Forward is often the hardest direction. After a few days of gazing enviously at his mobile cousin Baby G, Boy Three reckons crawling might be worth a go. He's so close - he can get his not inconsiderable tummy off the floor while effecting a ferocious rocking motion. He can even lift a limb without scraping his snotty nose on the floor. The only thing is, he can't seem to go forward. All his efforts just take him further and more noisily away from the thing he wants.

We pass on our anxieties to our children. We were just about to get in the remaining spaces in the car and set off for the festive family huddle. Everything on all the lists was ticked off and the sun was shining. Boy Three was getting one last guzzle of milk before we set off and his brothers had their coats on.
Thinking aloud: "What have I forgotten? Let me see: bubbly, baby milk, prezzies, Boys One through Three, phone chargers, Shabba the Bear, gloves, sledges... Nope, that's it. If we haven't got it we can do without."
Later about Beattock Summit with the outside lane still full of snow, Boy Two said: "Mum, you know that funny feeling you had that you'd forgotten something. I've got it in my tummy too and it won't go away."

Monday, 21 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Phew, nearly there. Almost time to get into the festive family huddle and pull the drawbridge up secure in the knowledge that there are enough toys, batteries, booze and food to keep us going for weeks.
I'm surprising myself by how jolly I feel about this Yuletide malarkey and how much I'm looking forward to a few days with my fabulous family.
It's been an interesting year in that sense of the 'may you live in interesting times' curse. The fantastical golf buggy of life has hit more than a handful of potholes yet gone on to breast a few steep summits affording breathtaking views. (That's enough with the daft golf buggy metaphor, I don't even like golf)
But I'm going to spare you a review of the year/ state of my miniature nation address and just say - have a happy Christmas, a prosperous new year and let's see if 2010 can be as dull as possible, but in a good way.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Things I've learned from my children today

It's possible to wake yourself laughing. We've all roused ourselves with a start, or even a scream, from a nightmare or found ourselves coughing, sneezing and scratching ourselves out of slumber. It has even been known for certain people to break wind so loudly sleep was impossible. Boy Three, however, has started laughing as he snoozes, giggling so hard it wakes him up smiling. I wonder what he's dreaming about.

Fraternal competition finds outlets everywhere. Setting off by car after a recent snow fall, peering up, One and Two were fascinated by the snow on the sunroof.
"Look it's moving."
"It's like tectonic plates."
"Yeah."
"Bits are breaking off."
"I bet my side goes first."
"No, look, it's going to be mine"
"Go my side."
"C'mon, Boy Three, it might be yours."
"Oh it is going to be his. Maybe we should just watch the snow now," Boy Two quits while he's ahead.


Expectation management is a key part of parenting. Boy One has a clear vision of the surprise he's going to bring to Christmas. So far it has involved a large cardboard box, two tubes of wrapping paper, three rolls of Sellotape, hundreds of shards of cardboard on the floor and the absence of all my kitchen scissors from their right place. I think, in his mind, the end result will be some kind of mixture of a Playboy Bunny leaping out of a cake, the living doll scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a slender 10-year-old santa popping out of the fireplace bearing gifts. It's a jolly festive vision and I'll do everything I can to help him bring it to life, but, somehow, it's never, ever going to be so good in real life. Especially as there now can't be anyone who he hasn't shared his vision with.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The whole story, surprising shower and reluctant admiration


Something that in one child can be irksome and irritating, can be charming and funny in another. And so Boy Three put his first toe through his first sock probably as a consequence of much baby walker action. The Panther of News, not known for his kindness to socks, was very proud.


Serene acceptance of the consequences of my actions is important. If you encourage the blowing of raspberries as an educational and amusing pastime, you should not be surprised to find yourself showered in Ella's Kitchen broccoli, pears and peas half diluted by saliva.

It's possible to be very impressed by behavior that is also far from likeable. I had an idea that Boys One and Two had asked for remote control helicopters for Christmas from their Other Granny. I had shrugged and hope that it wouldn't come to pass - remote control toys never actually living up to their promise long before their batteries run out. But yesterday OG reported that the request had followed them seeing the helicopters on sale and that they had both been so keen on them they wept when told they couldn't have one. Er... what? Tears when a toy request is turned down, I don't think so Boys. Boy One denied all knowledge but Boy Two hung his head and said: "They did look cool and I did cry because sometimes it helps to get things."
"Would you have cried if it was me who said no?"
"No. And, er, mummy?"
"What?"
"I love you."
Grrrr.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #20

It's always a good idea to hedge one's bets. Both big boys have been very grown up about the Santa business. Boy Two said: "Of course he's not real. It's just you and the Panther of News. And you're going to get me a PSP... aren't you? Well you can pay three quarters and the P of N can pay the other quarter."
On the one hand I'm pleased he paid attention during the fractions lesson on the other it's slightly sad that weird old myth has been scotched.
Then the Santa Wagon hove into sight. By day it's a flatbed truck, some lights, a PA,a chair and a capacious red costume, but by night... Jingle Bells and the dispensing of bonhomie and sweeties. Boy Two just about scorched the doormat in his haste to get there.
"How was it?"
"Fine," he shrugged. "I got sweets and I told Santa all about the PSP I want for Christmas and I told him I'd been good all year."
Could you call that Santa agnostic?

Boy Three is developing opinions. In the sitting room with the brothers, the jolly tree lights and the telly, he happily gurgles in his baby walker: steered into the kitchen with me, Radio 4 and the dishes, he howls in a way that hurts my ears. Funny that.

January 26 is Australia Day and we should make Australian snacks, then March 3o is a full moon. Boy One has a new calendar and he's not afraid to use it.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #19

Beware the bib. When you've got a small baby in the house, you'll likely have had several warnings about going out with milky sick on your shoulder. Everyone knows that. No one, however, tells you about how those pesky little bibs with the Velcro fastenings can adhere to the inside of your coat, at the bottom just where you don't notice them. Or at least not until you've been ambling around with the thing dangling for longer than you care to think about.

Gordon Brown has a new job. We were talking about famous people and weather or not we were likely to meet them. Boy One rushing his thoughts listed: "Oh, yes. Gordon Brown the Queen Elvis Presley."
Teasing I asked: "Gordon Brown the Queen?"
"D'oh," Boy Two cut in with a swagger. "Gordon Brown's not the queen, he's the emperor."

Boy One has come such a very long way lately. Today was the school's festive ta-dah and waiting for One and Two's big moments we were charmed by the nursery school's singing. There was lots of earnest wishing of merry Christmases. Then we spotted a wandery little chap up near the back who just didn't know what he was there for. He meandered, sat down, drifted off and eventually lay on the floor. He reminded us of Boy One at that age - mystified, dazed and frightened by turn. Then the P6s had their moment and there was our Boy first on the stage and saying his lines in a strong voice. With the widest grin and a big thumbs up, he sang every enthusiastic word. As the Boy said: "It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas."

Monday, 14 December 2009

woman writer uses virtual bandages to bind her breasts and become a man

Do you remember all those stores of brave heroines disguising themselves as men and generally saving the day.
You can see it - long hair hacked off, breasts bound flat with bandages and in brother's too big clothes.
Hurrah - these ladies generally gave the chaps what for, got taken seriously and were all-round good, role-modely type eggs.
Can't happen these days though. We've had suffrage, the vote, legislation and, besides, we all know there's nothing a woman can't do as well as a man - bar a few anatomical exceptions.
So I was deeply depressed when I read this tale of how a struggling female copywriter became a cyberman and, hey presto, everyone listened and her career took off.
I'm all for derring do and heroism - even in the ether - but surely we've moved on from women hiding out in suits of armour or pretending to be cabin boys.

Things I learned from my children today #18

The Dyson is scary, proper hicoughing and yelling scary.

AS people have problems with the idea of a surprise, or maybe it's just ours. Boy One was very excited to spend his saved up pocket money at the school bring and buy sale last week. He came back with a bulging bag. And yesterday he showed me the contents of his bag saying: "Oh, mum. This is for you and it's going to be a surprise for you on Christmas day." What he chose was lovely, but he couldn't see how I wasn't going to be surprised. I expect I'll just pretend.

Eavesdropping is as compelling now as it was thirty something years ago. Boy Two is becoming an expert. On overhearing plans to go for a walk with my supersister, he said: "Can I come?"
"Nope, it's a school day."
"But I want to listen to all the private things you and Auntie S will be talking about."
Here's a tip Boy: don't let them know what you're up to.

And here's something I learned from my nephew. Baby G recently spent the day at the Sick Kids' in Edinburgh - minor surgery, better now. But the tales of his ward-mates make me say a quick non-denominational prayer of thanks for beautiful healthy children, however irritating. Thanks Baby G.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Write Factor - thanks for all your support

The Write Factor results are in and sadly I didn't win. But thanks very much for all your lovely support and comments, it was great fun.
The winner was David Coyle who rustled up considerably more clicks than the rest of us. Well done David.
On the bright side, normal (ish) blog service should be resumed shortly. Especially as it'll serve nicely as Christmas preparation avoidance.

Things I learned from my children today #17

The inability to do two things at once starts early. It's impossible to watch a Dr Who sonic screwdriver battle and drink your milk.

My children don't have much concept of stranger danger. The newspaper I sometimes put in an appearance as a subeditor held what passes for a Christmas night out in these streightened times. I came home in time to narrowly avoid turning into a pumpkin, but the Panther of News and his chums stayed out. Having missed the last train to Falkirk (no really, not a euphamism) a chum stayed in the spare room. Next day he appeared from the corridor and made me jump. Much hilarity. Then Boy One said: "Who's he?" And after I explained he said: "Oh. I thought it was just some boring businessman."
What? And it's funny that one would be wandering about the house making me jump?

We find our own way language of affection. Boy Two said: "I really like it when you call me Honey Bun, mummy."
"Why?"
"It makes me feel all nice."

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #16

Sometimes the simple things are enough. Boy One wants cardboard boxes for Christmas. Why? In order to make empires for the Bakugan he anticipates getting.

The funniest thing in the world is the Panther of News singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was pretty funny actually.

Children don't know as much as they think they do. Boy Two was astonished that I knew exactly what biscuits he had snuck when I wasn't looking and how many of them. It didn't really take a Miss Marple-style piece of deduction. Still, it does feel quite good that at least one person is impressed by me.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #15

Sometimes the children nail it without meaning it. Boy Two has an issue with his temper. He really struggles to control it actually, to be honest, we're all struggling with it. He's like the little girl who had a little curl only without the being a girl bit. So when Boy One was talking about his brother's mood he talked about "terror tantrums", I didn't correct him - he was right.

Now it seems the answer is food and a dry nappy. The amount of milk Boy Three is needing to get him through the night is far greater than the capacity of anything as ordinary as a nappy.

And just when you think they can't get any more beastly, you fill your lungs to bellow at the battling brothers. But there's no response. They are sitting on the floor, heads together, ignoring the telly and working on a jigsaw.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #14

Dogs no longer frighten Boy One. For years his typical AS aversion to unpredictable, noisy, messy mutts made visits with canine cousin Pinto the Dog a little trying. It was a joy to see him puffed with pride as he walked P the D back down the hill.

You're never too young to know that there's no place like home. Boy Three, fresh from charming West Yorkshire and scooting laps round Granny's kitchen in his super look-what-we-found-in-the-garage wheels, settled into his own cot with a wiggle, a smile of recognition and a deep sigh.

The old rhyme "there was a little girl and she had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead" was surely written for Boy Two - apart, obviously, from the girl bit and the curls.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Things I learned from my children today #13

It's a conspiracy. Boy Three is away, by all accounts, charming most of West Yorkshire. So, theoretically, that means a couple of nights of unbroken sleep. However, the first night Boy Two was all hot and sore from his swine flu vaccination when he clambered into bed beside me. Luckily he's "good as new" and I'm so pleased he chose 5am today to come and tell me.

Boy One is full of surprises. He said: "I'm not going to put Lego on my Christmas list. I've got plenty." Really.

Being pushed over by your brother is a bad thing, but flinging yourself onto the frozen ground after trying to slip on ice is a good thing, apparently.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

STV competition comes to a close

It's the last week of the STV Write Factor competition. I've now written nine opinion pieces and now it's up to the judges. The winner gets a six month contract to write a column.
I have enjoyed myself. It's been a total treat to get away from "proper" journalism and write about what I think on the issues of the day. My biggest challenge has been deciding which of the day's topics to rant about.
Today I remembered getting stuck in a carpark because I couldn't get my pregnant belly between my car and the one next to it. In theory it sounds funny, but it really wasn't.
I also had a bit of a go at an organisation that's dishing out advice to GPs.
There can't be anyone I know who isn't getting every so slightly cheesed off by my begging. However, if you haven't had a look or posted a comment, please do.
Thanks very, very much.

Things I learned from my children today #12

I must be more aware of how my grumpy mood might affect the children. After thumping around upending jars of change and failing to find enough £1.75s for dinner money, Boy Two sidled up and offered two sticky coins: "I'll pay for my dinner today mummy." Ouch.

Perhaps a little more praise would help. Alongside the entirely arbitrary award of fictitious Billy Banana Brain badges for general foolishness, I've introduced Mummy's Herograms. They love them.

Shhh, don't tell Panther of News, but I quite miss Boy Three when he's not here even if it does mean I can get some work done.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Write factor final week

Is it hotting up? I hope so.
Here's my second last offering.

Things I learned from my children today #11

I need to be a little easier on Boy Two. He stumbled into a breakfast table conversation about subatomic particles and neuclear physics and asked: "How do you split the atom? I want to make sure I don't do it by mistake."

The answer might actually not be food - but just that 3am is a good time for a bit of a sing-song.

Bakugan might even be the new Lego.
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