Archive for September, 2007

Such a week (or three)!

September 29, 2007

Some recent photos:


People who live and shop on our street may be lucky enough to see these cute, happy little things popping out their front door.


We tried this photo about a dozen times before we managed to get all three people in the frame.


Dalkeith Country Park was amazing. It was the anti-Health and Safety. Wobbly sky walks, unfinished splintery wood, 2-story high slides..ahhh, that was a *proper* play park. And it was set in the trees!


Two lovely little maidens in the trees.


I love this photo.


I also love highland cows.


At the country park, this massive bridge was apparently a wedding gift. Is concrete not traditionally the 15th anniversary gift? 😉


This is Nyssa when I was trying to capture her Aunt Mo face on camera. Pretty good actually, hehe.


We went to an animal-themed birthday party. Nyssa was adamant that she didn’t want to dress up, but she did do an interpretation of a parrot with her normal wardrobe.


Joseph’s concession to themed dress was a dinosaur shirt.


I found this poor little child in the luggage rack and decided to keep him.


When our kind friend gives us a ride to events in the Edinburgh area, this invariably is the place we go to escape rush-hour traffic.


One big event of the week–Nyssa turned 8! This, of course, Joseph will be bemoaning until he turns nine. This incidentally is Grandma R burning herself.


It never fails to be the case that each holiday there is one small and seemly insubstantial present that the kids go head over heels for. The squeal-inducing gift this year was a Hello Kitty pez dispenser.


The other news of the week is that my son is famous! He was in no less than two papers, The Scotman and The Herald. I thought Nyssa would play to the camera, but apparently Joseph has more of an inner model. Whoulda thunk?? The other child is one of our little home ed friends. The shoot was for Historic Scotland and was done at Edinburgh Castle. Cool beans, eh?

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With spouses like James..

September 28, 2007

..who needs enemies? I’m kidding of course, but sometimes he’s not just unhelpful, he strives to be The Anti-Help. Case in point: some days ago Nyssa comes up to ask what antioxidants are. I sputter for a minute with words like ‘free radicals’ and ‘oxidation’ whilst speed-googling for a kid-friendly response. James jovially takes over at this point. He shows Nyssa this picture:


He explains that antioxidants are something one takes to get the oxen out of ones body. (Nyssa, by the way, was savvy enough to know after a few nanoseconds that Dad was feeding her a load.) He points to this fellow in the cart:


He tells Nyssa to note how not only had this man expelled his inner oxen, but had made them into a useful resource. At that point I believe I wryly asked something about whether or not James had been taking his antioxidants, since he seemed to be so very full of bull****. He *then* tangents over to a map of Oxford (see here), where people had, apparently, historically always been good about ridding their heads of oxen, so much so that the town was named after their need to ford them across the river. I pointed out that that was perhaps telling, given the academic lot that gravitate towards the place. He was quick to agree, and I think the lesson ended on some grandly positive note along the lines of getting proper nutrition being the smart way to live.

Hehe, seriously, I wonder sometimes, with all the teasing the kids get from both of us, if all they’re really getting from their home education is the ability to tell whoppers with a straight face.

Hmm. Anyway, the kids are gone now with the grandparents (*sniffs sadly*), but they’re having a brilliant time. They called me a couple days ago (aw), and the first thing Nyssa said is that she was so glad to hear my sweet voice (AW!). The older we all get, the more I’m convinced that they took not just my brains and looks (if I ever had any to begin with) but also any sweet-temperedness. I’m a right hornet these days, but I seem to remember being such a nice and unassuming little girl..

For those concerned with Joseph’s wierd head happenings, I think the bumps resolved themselves. Joseph was *brilliant* and took every one of his doses, every day, three times, without having to be told, even though the taste was apparently appalling. If we did star charts, he’d get a huge one.

Nyssa has developed an itch to learn about the Tudors, in particular Henry VIII (why???). I’ve got books coming, but any ideas for creative projects would be most welcome.

I think Joseph has reached a new place in his cognitive development, in that when I explained what ‘metaphorically’ means, he could conceptualize it. One of the more interesting things about parenting is observing abstract thinking slowly awaken. One of the more humorous is when Joseph picks up a new phrase like, ‘That was *insert adjective phrase with multiple meanings of choice*–literally *and* metaphorically!’ followed by Joseph-style absurdist laughter. Ahhhhh I love my kids. 🙂

Speaking of children robbing me of brain cells, we went to Ikea and I couldn’t resist raiding the candy section. One of the bags has these fabulous fruity little fishes. ‘Wow,’ I’m thinking, ‘these taste just like Swedish Fish!!’ There’s an audible groan as my brain grinds to a start… ‘Oh yeah! Ikea! Swedish!’ *headdesk*

It’s alright though, since my position in life doesn’t necessitate much brain activity apparently. I would have been dejectedly washing dishes one night, and Nyssa comes in. She sees my plight, touches my arm gently, and says, ‘Mum, I’m so sorry you are the scullery maid.’

Someday soon I’m going to need to start driving. Things happen sometimes to put me right off it though, at least where other drivers are concerned. Joseph and I were walking home from scouts one evening, and come to a zebra crossing (non uk people: that’s a place that is super well-marked, lit up, drivers are obliged to stop, etc.). We stop because this jackass is actually speeding up to the stop from about 100 yards away. They screech around the corner, and as though that weren’t enough, the passenger leans out the window and barks at us. That’s right, like a dog. At a mother and a small boy. W. T. F. I’ve about had it with living downtown.

Couple things to note:

The holidays are coming up, and there has been some confusion as to customs on this side of the pond. For items marked as gift, a stated value of £36 or more could end up with me having to pay customs, VAT, etc. I’m sure you can read between the lines. For my part, I’ll keep that in mind when sending stuff home. Actually, I’ve had a bit of luck with amazon.com because they take our uk bank card, so I might just stick with them again this year and avoid that nonsense altogether. Also note that if I seem like I’m spending lots of money on gifts in the US, I’m really not. The dollar is just so weak that my money goes twice as far. If I move back home, don’t be surprised if I’m suddenly really cheap, hehe. Seriously though, I do hope if anyone ever has a negative experience with getting mail from over here or a company I’ve chosen that they’d say so.

I updated my knitting blog with various things, including my awesome (*guffaw*) homemade spinning wheel. That is linked at the side I believe, but here it is anyway: fibre, fibre everywhere

Barns are Good

September 15, 2007

I knocked out a new layout this evening, nifty isn’t it? Well, it’s not quite so depressing as the half-dead tulips anyway. I’ve sort of had the fields back home on my mind. So.

For those interested parties, Joseph’s head is getting better. He’s still got the lump, but it’s softer and he doesn’t complain of pain anymore. He’s dutifully taking his medicine three times a day, which impresses me. We’ve had him off his brown controller inhaler for a week or so and after we were out in the woods yesterday he was a bit wheezy. That little experiment was good then; I’ll get his prescription refilled and keep him on it over the winter at least.

Speaking of playing in the woods, I did take pictures and I shall indeed post them. It was the best play park I’ve seen in the country. I’ll probably put off doing it until the kids are gone with their grandparents. It’s super that they get to go, but I do like to pile a lot of projects up for me to do (or ignore) to take my mind off the two missing appendages.

Sad Joseph

September 10, 2007

Well, you can never have too long a run of happy times, can you? 😛 Over the weekend Joseph developed a very dodgy-looking lump on the back of his head, about an inch in diameter that’s flesh-colored, though now a bit more inflamed. It’s been causing him so much pain that we took him to the doctor today. After he very bravely endured being prodded repeatedly by the nurse, who didn’t know what the heck it was, and then the doctor, we were told that it was *probably* an infected abscess or a very strangely positioned swollen gland and were given antibiotics. That of course means the 3-dose-a-day-for-longer-than-we-can-possibly-manage hell of guilt. It’s a good thing the kids’ lives have never depended on the completion of a course of antibiotics, because, to be quite honest, I’ve never managed it. Now that Joseph is older we stand a much better chance because even though the taste is ‘the worst thing in the world’ according to the poor boy, he’s the one to rely on when we need a task master. He’s seldom seen not toting around his watch and indeed is frequently aggravated by its apparent insistence on trying to hide from him (things have a way of migrating around my untidy house..). I should set my google calendar to bleep at me, but I’m loathe to mess with the balance I have with it–it beeps at me just frequently enough that I read it rather than just totally disregard it. It’s a peculiar psyche I have, but I’ve learned to work around it. Mostly. 😛

Nyssa finally got a letter with a contact for Girl Guides, so hopefully soon the lady will call back with the excellent news that not only is there space for Nyn, but it’s on a convenient night and just a couple blocks away from the flat. One can wish..

Happy Joseph

September 8, 2007

Joseph is happily watching reruns of Doctor Who as I type this. We’re both very happy because he had his first scouts meeting on Wednesday, and he had a grand time. He played floor hockey, learned to make trail markets, and even met fellow Whovians. I’m so glad he got on well. He had been very iffy about going recently, but we felt he needed some time around non-family members, being boisterous with other kids. Poor Nyssa is still waiting for information about scouts for her, and is quite envious of her brother. I’m not too sympathetic though, since she had dance last year which gave her more activity time that Joseph. Speaking of dance, they finally sent out the syllabus the other day. Classes would start next week! This gave me no time to try and mesh it into our schedule, and I don’t think it’s going to work. I don’t think she’s too bothered though, since there will be movement elements in her theatre group and the dance classes are very exam-focused. She *hates* exams, and other similar forms of pressure. Just doing timed tests for times tables about freaked her out. We had to start doing them orally.

So, I’m putting together my first quilt. Well, technically that’s not true. Years ago I started piecing together a folk quilt christmas hanging thing. I got as far as appliqueing stuff on it, but it’s still got no backing. Also, the pieces didn’t have to match up in any appreciable way, so I don’t think it really counts. The one I’m doing is a simple rail fence pattern. *And* the only thing I bought to work on it was a rotary cutter. My mom had sent the fabric ages ago, some lovely batiks, and I even filched the cutting mat from something else I already had. That said, when I have some money I will want a proper big one and one of those cool see through cutting guide whatsits. Anyway, something else to photograph at some point..

A Very Nyssa Day

September 2, 2007

A day in a life with Nyssa..

Normally, I awaken to little presents deposited near my pillow by my dear daughter. Her gift yesterday was fairly creative actually, she unraveled a ball of yarn and rewound it around a couple small items. This morning, however, there wasn’t anything. She came in the room and I discovered why–she had spent the morning with a byro/ball-point pen putting graffiti all over her arms and legs. Some areas were completely blue, it was quite impressive. She’s been banned incidentally from trousers for a couple days to hopefully prevent some ink transfer to her clothes. 😛

Nyssa was very enthusiastic about the idea of playing in the garden, but we got a text from some friends who were going to be in town and wanted to play at the park. So, Nyssa was very good and remembered her change of socks, towel, etc. (damned sandy playpark) and we went to play. She was fine for a while until she came stumbling to me, looking quite ill and needing to lay down for a while. I think a spinny ride got the best of her.

Later, our friends treated us to dinner at the Thai restaurant. For some reason, they had Elvis playing which Nyssa was very enthusiastic about. She danced about playing air guitar, and spoke in her ‘hey baby’ voice. She had a couple incidences of brilliant un-PCness. Our friends had brought along their new german au pair. At one point during the meal Nyssa looked at her speculatively, and showing off quite how well she grasped our history lessons from earlier this year, asked quite loudly, ‘So were you in Germany during World War II?!?’ First of all, this girl is roundabout 18, and second..wow, how awkward. She wasn’t finished though. A couple days ago, I had told the kids I have very little cash because James took the ATM card with him to Oxford by mistake. At one point, probably when Nyssa was savouring her mushroom dish (wierdo), she announced how grateful she was to be able to go to a nice restaurant because, as she put it, ‘Mom has no money!’ It’s a good thing I have no pride.

Later, back at the flat, I had dug out the waxed sand whatsit kit out of the closet (where it had sat since Christmas, incidentally) to let the daughter of our friends have since she’d actually use it. Nyssa confirmed that she didn’t like it because she had to wash her hands after using it. ‘First of all,’ I told her, ‘you already have to wash your hands several times a day, so what’s the big deal about once more? Second..’ I played with the sand for a moment, then simply dusted my hands off, ‘Look. Not even your OCD mum feels the need to wash her hands now.’ This sunk in for a second, then she started to object that we were getting rid of it. Friend said something placating about how we could just view this as a loan. I was less kind, I think my words were more along the lines of ‘you snooze, you lose.’ Yes, I’m mean. I’ve never pretended to be otherwise.

Our friends were getting ready to go, in fact mum friend and I were chatting at the door. I heard a piercing Nyny wail and broke off our goodbyes to run back up the stairs. Somehow Nyssa had managed to throw herself down about ten of the stairs and injure her torso. What’s more, she couldn’t actually recall what happened. *sigh* Anyway, I soothed the wailing child and cuddled her and Joseph on the couch. Since company was over late, we didn’t actually start getting ready for bed until about 11. The kids were so tired and stressed out by this point that I finally gave in and let them sleep in my bed with me. That is, they went to bed, and I followed a while later. I did try to sleep in the warm cuddlebug pile, but Nyssa wiggled so much she finally fell out of bed. I stuck the delirious child back in the bed and went off to sleep on the couch. Nyssa got a good night’s sleep and woke up perky and ready to sieze another day, even with the nice bruise on her side. When the kids had vacated my bed, I crawled back in it and tried to catch a nap.

Spitting in Boots

September 2, 2007

One thing we rarely do here is rent movies. That is, we’ve never rented a film in the ‘traditional’ sense; we watch them through our cable networks ‘movies on demand.’ I don’t even have a blockbuster account here, which feels a bit wierd. I sort of miss wandering through Hastings back home, and ending up with a pile of movies, half of which we’ll actually watch in our allotted five days if we’re lucky, and pounds of sugar-laden treats. So, James being gone this weekend (down in Oxford, lucky sod), I’ve let the kids pick a movie each night. We’re currently watching Flushed Away, which they actually saw in the theatre but was apparently so astoundingly hilarious that it warranted a second (and third) viewing. I love watching funny things at home because Nyssa can laugh as uproariously as she wants, and it’s cute when she gets going. She’s pretty impressive actually–when we go to the panto, she manages to be heard laughing over all the other hundreds of kids in the audience.

So, slight change in Nyssa’s dollhouse plans. We’re going with Sylvanian families. Reason 1: you can get baby penguin twins. Reason 2: you can have a family of kitties. Reason 3: you can get a Rosie and Jim-style river boat. It’s all too much cute to bear. We’re going for this house, I believe. Argos is selling one with a bunch of furniture. I’m still unsure where we’re going to put the thing..

Now, those of you who know my kids know that for the most part, they’re fairly reasonable and behave pretty well. This is no good for the child-parent relationship, however. The child has evolved such that it has a basic need to mess with the parent’s head. Keeping me offbalance must be adaptive. This would be why my kids rarely fight, but, for example, the other day Joseph came up to me with a confused and annoyed look on his face and told me that Nyssa had spat in his wellie. I was aghast, not because it was so terribly horrible, I mean spitting in boots is sort of funny because it’s so ridiculous. I was just completely at a loss as to how to deal with it. She ended up getting a two-pronged lecture. She knows that spitting is disgusting, for one thing, and for that reason should never have given in to whatever gut feeling told her to hoick on Joseph’s stuff. Second, she got the ‘spitting in many cultures is the most vile insult you can give, sometimes it’s even a curse!’ speech, and that seemed to shock her. Anyway, I wonder how long this trend will last. I’m getting wrinkles on my forehead from my eyebrows shooting up in ‘what the hell were you thinking!?!?’ parenting moments.