Sunday, December 31, 2006

And A Happy New Year

Yeah, yeah, so I am early. Allow me the novelty of being too early instead of too late for once.

So, 2006, an interesting year but here is hoping that 2007 brings more with it, and good things only please.

When I was younger, and I mean Primary age, my dad and I would walk to the end of our street, wait for the bells in the local church (which was a good mile and a half away at least) to ring and then be 'first footers' for my mum. Instead of the lump of coal we were meant to put on the fire we would give her a box of chocs, well, we had a gas fire, mum would have been livid if we starting throwing great chunks of coal at it.

I loved that experience of being out in the cold night air, holding my dad's hand, more than anything and the memory is saddened knowing I will never get it back. My dad is getting on a bit, I mean he was 50 when I was born and I just turned 35 so you do the math.

The last good Hogmanay I had was the Millenium, which seemed to suck for so many other people. Husband and I drove up to the Kilsyth hills and watched the fireworks from Glasgow, across the central belt of Scotland to Edinburgh. It was a wonderfully clear night and I even saw a shooting star (yes, the wish was fulfilled.)

I can't remember what we did the next year but the year after that we celebrated in hospital with our new born baby boys and a group of other parents, and a grumpy nurse telling us not to wake the others. FFS we all had newborns, who was sleeping?

Hogmanay with little ones is somewhat subdued, apart from the revellers who go to parties to see in the New Year through beer-goggles does anyone actually celebrate it properly?

Friday, December 29, 2006

All Grown Up

Today is a very important day.

The Hobbits are now 5 years old and celebrated, as is becoming tradition, with a visit to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. A good day had by all even though I can't speak thanks to my voice giving out due to this cold, some would say that was a blessing.
Eldest Hobbit practically burst with excitement, telling everyone he was 5, and for good measure Youngest would add "Me too!"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How Was It For You?

Fate has a way, sometimes, of dealing you up a hand you deserve. I didn't have the Christmas spirit in the usual bucket load, so for my Christmas I got a stinking awful cold. Which has lasted until Boxing Day and now, at 9pm, is still going strong. Serves me right for being so bah-humbug this year really.

Short and sweet, I am watching telly, feeling sorry for myself and although I got a new camera for Christmas I haven't even taken it out the box to try it out which is so unlike me. I did take photos with old faithful though and will post them here as soon as my head stops aching like it is about to explode.

Still managed to cook an excellent Christmas dinner though. Hope no one at it got an extra present of this cold (evil smile.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Currently Reading aka The Lovely Surprise

I should have written this on Tuesday when it happened but there you go, I wouldn't have been able to say anything about the book itself. So there.
Let me explain myself. On Tuesday we were sitting in the living room up to our eyes, literally, in wrapping paper and various toys. Outside a delivery van drives up, Husband and I look at each other, I'm not expecting anything, neither is he. As the Amazon package is handed over I begin wondering if I had ordered anything that was out of stock to be delivered later.
Nope, instead it was a lovely present from my American Friend, forever known on here now as Hazelnut.
The book is one she had previously talked about I Like You (Hospitality Under The Influence) by Amy Sedaris. Last year, for Christmas, she sent a whole bunch of books by David Sedaris, whatever Mummy Sedaris fed them as children they have grown up into very funny, very witty writers.
I hadn't heard of David Sedaris before Hazelnut mentioned him and reading those books led to a very merry Christmas indeed. I've only just started this book but already I was up to 1am last night reading it which is a very good sign for someone like me, cantankerous and hard to please where books are concerned. And there are recipes! Take that Delia (or Martha for any Americans.)
Now I must go and make my self-esteem collage using pictures of people I wish I was! Quote of the week "Accentuate The Positives - Medicate The Negatives." Wonder what Christmas is like a chez Sedaris.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Who'd a thunk it?

That Christmas spirit would be found by helping out at the Primary 7 party?

Well, surrounded by a crowd of screaming, excited 10-11 year olds, enough tinsel and decorations to sink a ship, it is hard not to get carried away. And yes, dancing was involved, not only that but traditional Scottish country dancing - oh the English don't know what they are missing if they haven't been hurled round a room by the Dashing White Sergeant (name of a dance, not the dancer.)

I have some food for thought as well this Christmas, something to mull over while getting on with things. Someone I am related to, though you wouldn't think it if you saw us together, announced in her card to my parents that she had returned to live with her parents in a manner that suggested she has split from her husband. Now, this could be an occasion to gloat. Her mother called my wedding a "pauper's wedding" as we chose not to have the big white version but one with only a couple of guests, but in a location special to us. Hell mend us but we chose to spend our money on the honeymoon! (Touring around the Alps in the lovely summertime, highly recommended!)

So that is what the mother (my aunt) said. It was also considered that as this cousin was engaged before I had met Husband and I married first that I had rushed into it to beat her and would divorce. Hmmmm, doesn't work that way does it?

Which is proof that it is not how you marry but why you marry. I always thought cousin treated her other half appallingly, and that is not because she is of an odd nature towards me. He was one of those soft, gentle souls and on more than one occasion she shouted at him in front of the family, more embarrassing for us to witness really. She also said they didn't argue which is complete bull. There is nothing like a good argument to air any grievances and get them sorted out.

So there we have it. The breakdown of a marriage is sad, luckily there are no children involved, there will be no gloating from me but I hope she learns from this as she has lost a good husband.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Its beginning to look a lot like Edinburgh

I know, I know, you wait for one post and three come along at once I hear you say, or rather the one voice singing in the darkness who I know does read this (thank you Pewari!) Like I said, it is a busy month, what with helping the Hobbits write a total of 64 Christmas cards, the whole concept of "choose who you want to send a card to" completely bypassing them. Why not send a card to everyone!

And we are still receiving cards from girls unknown, addressed to either hobbit, and always signed off 'Love'. God help us come the teenage years. Worst is I can't write cards back, the conversations go as follows;

"Hobbit, who is Banana?"

"Um, she is my friend."

"She isn't on your class list, what class is she in?"

"Don't know."

"Wouldn't it be nice to send her a card back?"

"She is in Primary 2, or maybe 3."


The nativity went as well as could be expected really. Niall and Adam behaved perfectly, the show was quite entertaining and the competitive mums lined the front row with their cameras and camcorders. You could smell the money from them (sorry, can't help myself, I find them highly amusing!) Then a very odd thing happened.

Once the nativity was over and the school day at an end I was waiting at the infant entrance with the usual crowd of mums and dads. I hear behind me one dad saying how his daughter had refused to be the donkey as she had previously been a sheep, but Primary 2s don't get to participate in the nativity, they form the choir singing all the songs. Then this woman, standing near me, tells one of eldest Hobbits' friend's dad that her child was the donkey! I saw him look a bit confused, I don't know him that well, it is usually his wife who does the school run. But what a bizarre thing to do, claim your child is the donkey when it obviously wasn't (the donkey costume consisted of a mask held perfectly in front of his face until the singing started, then he waggled it about in time to the tunes!) Husband finds this hilarious, that the competitive mums (for she must be one) not only covet Mary and Joseph but also the lone Donkey! It was a weird turn to the day.

The Christmas spirit, though somewhat subdued, has appeared in the form of a visit to the German market (here is the kick, in Edinburgh!) Also the fact I spent the better part of today up to my eyes, quite literally, in wrapping paper.

Photo, Edinburgh Christmas Market 2006. Big Wheel and Hobbits on the Carousel.

A Turkey's Plea

C'mon you two, just hop over the fence and lift the latch on this door, please. I know what date is coming up, I know what it means for a bird like me, well, if it were up to me I would eat the goose, have you seen the size of her?

- The turkey gets desperate, don't worry, this turkey lives at Almondvalley Heritage Centre, he won't be on anyones plate this year.

Where Has All The Time Gone?

Why, since last I wrote, or rather blogged, I am a whole year older. Tempus fugit as they say, whomever they are.

December is just one of those months that go by too quickly...but at least the bloody rain has stopped. Haven't quite started building an ark but it was getting that way.

Then, the sun shines, the bright low winter sun, and I remember why life can be good.

Photo taken yesterday, Linlithgow loch.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jingle Balls

Nope, it is just not happening this year.

Despite eldest hobbit being the donkey in the school nativity. Despite youngest hobbit being the "green" traveller in same nativity - does this mean he is powered by wind, he sure is. Despite having, as always, bought all the presents, wrapping paper and most of the Christmas dinner (pre-prepared, will I ever live this down?)


Where is it?


Usually I have the cards written on the 1st December, the menu planned and shopping list written soon after. With the boys at the excitable age of counting sleeps until the big day I should be relishing this time but nope, not one bit.

Maybe it will kick in later, oh hope of hopes. Next week, next Monday to be precise, I turn 35, this does not bother me too much, birthdays are birthdays and having one so close to Christmas has always been a bit of a curse ("Oh thank you Auntie for buying my Christmas and birthday present together, saved yourself some money there you cheapskate!") But since it started, every year on my birthday we have gone into Edinburgh to the German Christmas market.

Now these are not a patch on the real German ones, I highly recommend Wiesbaden if anyone is asking. The stalls are missing a certain something you can only get in mainland Europe, but I love going into Edinburgh anyway. If this doesn't inject that sense of joy then I don't know what will.

Oh and my plan to make friends and influence people has backfired. I join the school PSA only to be coersed (is that a word? It is if I say so) into a singalong with the rest of them on the last day of school. Shoot me now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh Me Oh My Oh Midget

Okay so the month has started and one week has whizzed by nearly. Someone mentioned Christmas cards, oh mercy I haven't even started them. What is up with me this year, I am just not getting into this?
I haven't done my usual of having cards written and parcels, well, parcelled on the 1st December, even the decorations are somewhat muted. Certainly not the proliferation of bad taste that the neighbours have gone in for. At some point you need to step back, look at what you are doing and say enough.

Worse of all is the fact that I have bought a prepared stuffed chicken roast from a supermarket, not even free range! How many people will notice that the dinner this year is not as good as last, or will they even notice? Husband is confused, he has gone all out this year in buying my presents, and he is quite chuffed that for once he has the one-up on me, but doesn't understand why my little Christmas light hasn't gone on.
Eldest hobbit has been given the part of the donkey in the school nativity while youngest is a traveller (don't know if this is his way of saying he is a servant for one of the three kings?) I was expecting to be asked to do a costume but all I have been requested to provide is a dark t and pair of trousers.

All I need for Christmas is to see the look on my hobbits faces when they get their presents off of Santa.

My plan is to redeem myself by making Nigella's ham in coca cola on Boxing Day when it is just the four of us.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Little House Quite Contrary

There is a housing problem in this country that no one seems to be facing up to. In our town and the town next to us, in fact in every town in West Lothian, hundreds upon hundreds of houses are being built.
Unfortunately these houses are now priced so far out of our league we will never get on the housing ladder and I don't know how people are able to afford these houses. Worse still, and in an Emperor's New Clothes moment, the houses are not worth the price they are asking for them!
So we are stuck in the frustration of renting hell.
We have been on the Homeswap site for nearly 2 years now. That is 2 years without promise of a move that would improve our lives significantly and we have lived here for 5 1/2 years now, it is like living in purgatory. You would think we were asking for £1million (actually that would be nice too, please.) Thanks to the right-to-buy scheme and the cooncils apathy in allowing single older people to remain in 3-4 bedroom houses the whole situation is stagnant and will remain so until someone somewhere has a bright idea.
That bright idea would be to make the system fairer. Amazing concept I know.
In Britain now, particularly in Scotland, the only way you can get anywhere in social housing is by not working, having no intention to work and never having had a job ever. That and the ability to fake illness (back ache, depression, stress anyone?) for points. And yes, that would be the points system they supposedly stopped using.
If you become a lay-about not only do you not have to worry about rent or council tax but you also get support to have as many children as you wish and to have enough money to enjoy yourself. Don't believe me?
How many people do you know that are truly struggling on benefits? If they are then at some point they probably were working and therefore don't fall into the professional scrounger league, they missed the training on how to get as much money as possible out of the system.
How many people do you know who work like navvies just to pay a mortgage? Indeed, Noo Labour punishes those on low wages particularly harshly.
It is a ridiculous situation. And what will happen next I wonder, or should that be worry? But for now my biggest concern is for the Hobbits, we need to move nearer their school, it would make life so much easier especially for them. They are missing out on so much and I really try to compensate but when Husband needs the car for work and we are stuck in this town it becomes really hard to see the positive side of anything.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

money money money money

There is a saying I stand by and always have:
A true friend will not lend another money but a true friend would not ask for it in the first place.
I am misquoting badly, I'll edit if I remember it so I look cleverer than I is.
Unfortunately Husband is of a generous heart, I am here to say "I told you so" when someone he has helped shows complete lack of gratitude to the point of making a fool of his gesture. One day he will listen.
People in this country are not poor, we have houses, food, electricity. We may not be able to afford it at the rate of taxes and price rises but at least we can go to bed at night not frightened we will be shot, bombed or have nothing to eat in the morning. So next time you bemoan the fact you have no money don't take the begging bowl to friends, have some dignity and learn the lesson of looking after your money better. If you do borrow any money or take favours then make that your priority to pay it back, not just for the person you owe but for your own respect of self. I really should listen to my own advice you know.
Do you know what has given me the best satisfaction this year? Making up a present for a little boy who lives in a country where they have nothing, we have selected little gifts rather than one big one and the joy in my heart at the thought we can maybe make just one person in this world have faith in humanity then I am glad. It does reek of self-gratification but all I can think about is one little boy thinking Santa actually came this year. Giving really is better than receiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ahhh, Sugar Honey Iced Tea

Spent so long faffing about on my very first marked assignment that I managed to miss the deadline by 2 f***ing hours. Oh pooheads as the Hobbits would say.

So have sent an apologetic email to the tutor who will probably do as he did with my first assessment and completely miss the point. Am I not clear enough? I read and reread until the words slide in front of my eyes and I feel like I downed a bottle of something lethal. I just don't want to prove the people right who said someone like me shouldn't go to university and most definitely should not be in possession of a degree.

Better luck next time then.

And it is still bloody raining.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rain rain GO AWAY!

Now I usually love this time of year, the chill crisp air but really this is ridiculous. For the past few days it has been raining hard enough for me to question if we had somehow moved back to the west coast of the country.

Our garden resembles the kind of mud pit you would normally find scantily clad women wrestling in. The dog looks miserable, that is until he found the river in spate today and a bright yellow ball on the other bank, see photo courtesy of Husband. And I have had enough, I feel muddy even when I haven't ventured outside.

If it were to snow now, well that is a different matter.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mummy Boasting Thread

Eldest Hobbit ran out of school yesterday all excited about a certificate he had been given. This is the school's annual book week and I had been feeling embarrassed that I hadn't gone or participated in any way. There was a day that they were going to a book stall in the school with the chance to buy but I am ashamed to say I only remembered about it the next day!

So eldest Hobbit, it turns out, has been recognised for his talent in reading and was one of the finalists in the Book Week competition. There were two from each class, the others in Primary 1 all being girls naturally (there are 2 P1 classes, 3 if you include the composite class with Primary 2.) He was called up during school assembly and given his certificate by the headmaster who seems to know every child and most of the parents. I suppose that is his job.

He is so proud and I am so proud of him. I love seeing him so happy and he keeps saying "mummy I have a ce-tifi-kit!" (I didn't say he was great at pronunciation!) In a climate where competition is frowned upon I think it is good for children to be awarded like this. And I can speak as someone with a child who didn't get anything. Youngest Hobbit is fine though, he is happy for his brother but not, thankfully jealous. Young Jedi has learned well.

As an award I decided to build his Playmobil space station that has been sitting in a cupboard since last December 25th. I am testing his patience...just kidding.

Three hours it took me...

Three hours.

But they love it. And there is plenty more Playmobil in that cupboard for this Chris...December 25th to keep me busy.

I have an assessment due in at the end of this week for my OU course. How far d'you think I have gotten? Not one word. Must get a wriggle on.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Be A Good Little Mummy Now

Since the boys started school in August I had made up my mind to use my time usefully. Well, it was supposed to be in conjunction with beginning my OU degree but as a stay-at-home-mum I felt duty bound to join the PSA committee.

God, does that place me in the realms of the UberMum? Not yet, I haven't even achieved Yummy Mummy status and do not really want to either.

I was surprised at the first meeting that out of a school population of over 400 there were a grand total of about 10 members. Still, I have stuck by it which is how I found myself agreeing to spend this morning sorting out the Christmas card designs and money. The pupils have the chance to design and get printed their very own cards, some of the cards were really good considering the age of the children. I wonder if there was parental involvement at some level. Anyway at £6 per 12 cards it was a bit expensive for us, I know we could have participated but I have had so much to deal with lately that truth be told I couldn't be arsed getting the Hobbits to do it!

Would anyone want a Cyberman/Dalek inspired Christmas card anyway?

Seeing the amount of responses (although thankfully in both Hobbit classes there wasn't as much) I felt a tad ashamed. I promise to do this next year.

Oh bugger, I said Christmas. See I never keep my word where that is concerned.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ma Cherie No More

One could wish...

I love seeing how Cherie Blair portrays herself, it just shows how far from truth these people get. She loves to think of herself as a role model for women but if I had a daughter this gurning freeloader is the last person I would want her to look up to!

I nearly wet myself laughing when she gave that lovely speech about juggling balls (presumably Tony's) and how hard it is to be a mother etc. etc. I will remember that when it is my turn to buy my sons a dodgy deal flat, oh that is right, in reality most people can't afford one home let alone buying ones for the kids.

She is doing her Superwoman/mother act again in the papers, and I have to admit, I didn't bother reading the article. I leave reading fairytales to the Hobbits' bedtimes. I would never have thought I could say this, and this is despite the fact I have supported neither party but at least with the Tories you knew you were dealing with swine. New Labour have brought pigs-at-the-trough politics to a whole new (low) level.
The past ten years have seen so many chances missed, so much opportunity wasted and so many lies told without shame. I cannot understand how anyone believes in them anymore.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Think Nice Thoughts

Look at the pooopppeeeeee!
After the sheer hell of last night I am trying to clear my mind of evil thoughts of revenge. So here is a photo of our dog last December, see I am not saying the word, I am thinking it, I am not saying it though. He is much bigger now and last night he suffered greatly as all animals do when morons are given things that bang.
The fireworks went on for 2 1/4 hours.
No I am not kidding, Husband didn't believe me until he saw the detritus in their garden this morning. And that doesn't include the fireworks that take their packaging with them.
Peach: [Darla taps madly on the tank glass trying to knock Peach off] "Find a happy place! Find a happy place! Find a happy place!"
Finding Nemo

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Damp Squib

Oh don't get me wrong, I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person but I view Bonfire Night with the same dread as some see Halloween. Only rather than feral teenagers egging the door it is over eager neighbours spending a small fortune on hosting a fireworks display for their little darlings.

As far as I can see fireworks loose their appeal after about 15 minutes, *bang* *flash* *ooohhhh.* You get the drift. So far I have endured over an hour and a half of the damn things from a neighbour who is holding the fireworks in one hand and the lit taper in the other. I say endured because every year since they moved in they have had fireworks on Bonfire Night, I was prepared, let the cat out early to get him back in before it started, get the dog out in the garden for some exercise. Also I needed to give him (the dog) and try and give the cat some Rescue Remedy to make them calm.

Only they started early...

Husband of course is at work. The perils of shift work, in fact he has never been home a bonfire night which has never been an issue before. The hobbits have school in the morning, I like to get them into bed and unwinding by this time.

I am getting to the stage where I am going to be sticking one of their fireworks get the point.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

On The Bookshelf

As a vociferous but often disappointed reader I have struck lucky and have just finished reading a good book and am currently reading a good book. If only this would happen more often!

First off I quickly devoured Maggie O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox which is not only another finely crafted tale of family secrets from O'Farrell but a shocking insight into the wards of a mental asylum in the past century. Still within living memory though so we shouldn't feel too smug. When you become involved in a character such as Esme Lennox you realise how quickly and how unjustly your life can be taken from you. I won't say more as it would spoil a brilliant story.

Secondly I am currently reading the third book from 44 Scotland Street, Alexander McCall Smith's Love Over Scotland. Yet again the characters immediately welcome you in, the only problem with these books is when they end. I do read the daily chapter in The Scotsman whenever I can but in book form I can indulge for hours at a time. I know far too many 'Irene' types I am afraid and if you don't know what I am talking about then I suggest you buy the books, start at the beginning and, like the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, you will be hooked!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The C Word

Now that Halloween is over and Bonfire Night is nearly upon us I make this vow to anyone who is reading this blog that I won't mention the C word until at least St. Andrews Day. That would be the end of November then.

After that it will be nothing but Christmas, Christmas, Christmas as my favourite month....oh wait, bugger it.

(Don't panic, this photo wasn't taken today, although it was cold enough for it.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Weel done, Cutty-sark!"

Happy Halloween, or rather Samhain if your wanting to be really traditional.

Despite my nickname for my twin sons being "the hobbits"* they are out guising dressed as pumpkins supervised by dad (not dressed as a pumpkin), collecting a years worth of sweeties from the neighbours. Some wag has also lit the bonfire that was being built in the field next to our cul-de-sac. It is going to be an interesting night.

I used to love Halloween, I've always been a cold weather person. Oh, don't get me wrong I enjoy the sunshine but there is something more appealing when the air turns crisp and the leaves turn shades of gold and red. Now that the boys have started school I find I miss the old feeling I had of going into the classroom from the cold outside, shedding my outer layers and warming up at my desk beside the radiator (which wasn't such a bonus during summer.) Halloween isn't a patch on Christmas of course but I won't mention the C word again until the beginning of December, promise.

Every Halloween at our primary school we would gather in the tv room (picture a fairly large room... with a tv, there you go.) There we would listen to Tam O'Shanter (by Robert Burns) on the radio, full of sound effects to add to the fear as the story unfolds. I still can't hear the poem without a chill creeping up the back of my neck, particularly the part where he is being chased by the witches, riding away on his poor horse Meg. At that part I would close my eyes tightly and try not to listen any more. As childhood fear goes, Tam O'Shanter is right up there for me with the Childcatcher from Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang and Peter And The Wolf.

No one seems to dook for apples any more, even toffee apples have gone by the wayside. And pumpkins might have replaced the more traditional turnip lanterns but that is only because it is extremely difficult to carve the bloody things! Whereas a pumpkin is fairly easy in comparison. They don't look as good though it doesn't tempt me to try turnips again. Much rather eat them mashed with butter and black pepper.

So the hobbits have returned and one tradition has remained. I won't need to buy sweeties in the near future.

*my way of saying that my nearly 5 year old boys are cute, hairy and with big feet! Honestly, they are a size 28, 4 sizes smaller than I was when I went to high school! As my Granny used to say "they've got a good grip of Scotland."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Coming Soon To A Computer Near You

One more blog to clog up the internet. One more person waffling on about their life and all that is within.

But there is only one me (thankfully.)

I am a stay-at-home-mum to twins (horror oh horror, much villified etc. etc.)

I am also trying (very trying) to do a degree through the Open University.

What I write I write mainly for my own purpose, if you find it interesting then that would be satisfactory in an egotistical way. Sometimes it does a person good to have somewhere to vent, somewhere just to say what is needing said. Sometimes I might actually write something worthwhile.

I will begin on 31st October, I like specific dates.