Archive for January, 2008

More weirdo things my kids say..

January 29, 2008

Nyssa, as I’m tucking her into bed, with a very worried look on her face: “Mom, what’s that drug that makes you pee out your life??”

Me: “I, um, to be honest I have no clue what you’re talking about.” I could only guess that we had a discussion on diuretics at some point that totally stuck in her brain in the most paranoid way possible.

***

Nyssa and her little friend were in the bathroom of a cafe that was recently converted from a nightclub, reading the contents listed on a vending machine: “What’s this?? Naughty toys for girls? Handcuffs? Pleasure vibe? Inflatable sheep???”

Little friend, flipping her hair as she leaves: “Yeah, those don’t look fun!”

Nyssa, following suit: “Yeah, *we* won’t go to naughtytoys.com!”

***

Joseph: “Mom, I need new underwear. See, these ones leave marks.” Joseph demonstrates both marks and his total lack of modesty.

Me: “Well, did you want to try boxer shorts this time like you had mentioned a while ago?”

Joseph: “Well, I’m not sure. I was reading that book (referring to the puberty one) and it said that boxer shorts can make erections easier to see. I don’t want to get embarrassed!”

Me, after deep breath: “OK, well, see, you don’t have to worry about that at your age..” At this point I launch into a brief lesson in, uh, proportion and male growth rates and try to tell him quite how small he is right now without messing up his self-concept for the rest of his life.

Joseph brightens up: “Oh, OK Mom! Well, there were these Doctor Who boxers at Next Kids…”

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Contrast

January 22, 2008

James got a letter the other day from his employer with two good bits of news. The first is that he’s passed his probationary period and is now ‘officially’ employed. This is always good. The second is that he has a very official-looking document on thick paper from Disclosure Scotland saying that he’s not a criminal (according to record anyway :P). Should I get it framed? Hehe.

So in contrast to my productive, tax-paying man, who had to work this weekend.. Poor thing had to get up at 6-something both days and commute into Edinburgh. Did I get up as well, perhaps making a carafe of coffee in commiseration? Hell no, I luxuriated in a bed all by myself. The kids got up at some point, but wisely left me alone. Roundabout noon Nyssa came in to chat or cuddle, I can’t recall exactly. A bit later I sat up. A while after that I spent some time petting cats, still in bed, of course. The absolute lack of energy expenditure was fantastic.

I’ll be paying it for this week though. Joseph has come down with what I suspect is norovirus and James just got a last-minute ticket to skip town, er, I mean a job assignment down South somewhere and will miss what will surely be an eventful few days.

I’m about to hit ‘post’ and Giganto Kitten comes careening in here, does a circuit of the room, and then blasts back out towards the stairs. The carpet-ripping run ends abruptly, there’s a second of silence, then sad kitten meows. Then silence. Then round two of speed demoning. *sigh*

It’s 1995 all over again..

January 16, 2008

..but on the wrong side of the road.

So, as life is one long ladder that one must ascend in a prescribed way for one to make any progress, the current ‘rung’ I am grappling with is that of becoming a British driver. I’ve put this off for any number of reasons. For one, I left the States a nervous driver, due to a high-speed accident that left me unnervingly unscathed. For two, I’m so spaced out, just generally being a mum, that I’m not sure I can cope with remembering to drive on the correct side of the road. For three, well there are just so many buses, and prams, and cars parked every which way, and people wandering into the roads…! For four, well, there are those roundabouts. Everyone here seems to be nervous of motorways. I’m don’t really understand that, as I’m a huge fan of divided highways. It’s that dosey-doeing round in cramped circles that makes me nervous. The worst though, would have to be the inept signage. Whether it’s the completely unmarked streets of a residential area or the motorway signs giving a driver friend fits, it’s all just rubbish.

So, what might make a person wish to drive in a country with trains and buses? Well, for starters, we are a house of people who get bus sick. Buses are expensive, and likely don’t take you near enough where you want to go without either a circuitous route requiring multiple changes in dodgy locations or just giving up and getting a taxi for the last few miles. Trains are wonderful things, and ideally I would ride them everywhere. It’s that ‘everywhere’ that is of course the problem. The clincher now is that James has no desire to rent another place–he wants to buy. This makes me sick with commitment-related fear, but he’s probably right. And as he’s been working from home and things are getting seriously cramped here, we need to move forward. Forward means our being able to drive so we don’t have to live within half a mile of a train station and pay the associated housing prices. It will also mean we can consider much more rural locales without having to rely on Tesco Delivery for our daily bread. It’s all enough to make me gnaw on my fingernails, so to keep my fingers busy I’ve paid the 7 quid to subscribe to the Driving Standards Agency’s theory test practice site. As all of the possible questions will come into rotation, I’ll be spending my evenings plunking through these while I wait for my provisional license. Once I take my theory test, things get a bit more complicated. I’m unsure at this point if there’s a drivers training company in the area that will allow a person to take the driving test in one of their cars. I’m making it even harder by stubbornly refusing to test on anything other than an automatic. My US readers might boggle at this, but over here automatics are in a dramatic minority and you will not be endorsed to drive manuals unless you pass in a manual. It’s not like all of those yankee teens who took driver’s ed in a chevy automatic, passed the test, then happily tore down the highway in old beat-up pickups. Once upon a time I learned to drive a manual, sorta, but I have no interest in trying to learn British driving and a British clutch simultaneously and on this point I’ve put my foot firmly down. So what I still have to figure out is how to get around having to actually buy myself a car anytime soon. Insurance, car tax, MOTs, and petrol don’t cost nearly what I thought they would, but as we don’t have any motorheads in the immediate family, I refuse to get a car without a warranty. That means a certified used car with low miles. That means quite a lot of money, particularly if we aren’t interested in financing.

Well, back to studying slip roads, pelican crossings, and ‘ford’ signs (worrying..).

Was reading the news..

January 9, 2008

..about the primaries, as one does. There was a bit about McCain, as seen below…

…which gave me a bit of a fright. Not because he might become president (well..that’s another story), but because of this:

…does he not look like Ad’har Ru’afo from Star Trek Insurrection? Well doesn’t he???

Speaking of primaries, I need to get this off my chest–I can grin and bear my loved ones voting republican, and in fact am happy to do so. That said, I will smack anybody in my family or social circle that votes for Huckabee or Thompson. I could follow on with a rant or I could just leave it, and I think I’ll show an uncharacteristic grace and go for the latter.

Youtube Goodness

January 6, 2008

Whatever would we do without youtube? A movie nowadays isn’t complete without the kids harping afterward to chase up various scenes and songs online. This time, after watching Nacho Libre, they insisted I find ‘Religious Man,’ by Mr. Loco. In the course of searching I found this:

As you can probably imagine, my weirdo offspring squeaked with laughter to this ten or so times.

On a semi-related note, we tried out the Rosetta Stone language program because they offer latin-american Spanish. Is good. Now I’m banging my head against the wall trying to decide whether to go for the online subscription or the homeschool cd edition. The latter comes with books and worksheets, but having to use multiple cds generally pisses me off. It’s also exorbitantly expensive, as I’d have to buy 2 copies, and I’m not convinced I couldn’t just make up the written drill myself, i.e., with Edhelper.com and the like. Argh. In any case, I was surprised that it was Joseph who took to it most readily. He finds the verb ‘beber’ amusing, particularly as you can say, ‘BebĂ© bebe.’ If he can already appreciate that sort of word play, he’ll do just fine. Nyssa is, um, a bit of a learning hummingbird. Having to sit and repeat after the speaker for a certain length of time at a pre-determined pace really rubs her the wrong way. I’m a big meanie I guess, but that will prepare her for life just as the British practice of queuing does, imho. Opinions?

Lessons of the Holiday Season ’07

January 6, 2008

It’s sleeting down here, and freezing cold. The heating system is being beastly and only selectively heating rooms, and I’m getting a virus as well, so I’m feeling a bit hibernatory (excellent non-word) and reflective. Let us explore what I’ve learned this holiday…

1. I’m not bound to have energy, no matter where I spend Christmas.

2. No matter that I spend hours simmering down red cabbage, beets, and red onions with gorgeous balsamic vinegar–no one will touch the shit.

3. Regardless of the recipe, brussel sprouts defy me.

4. It is not the course of wisdom to use a new ‘magic fudge’ recipe, particularly when one is in the UK and marshmallow fluff is hard to come by.

5. There is an inverse relationship between the number of candles in the house and how likely adult males are to behave around them.

6. Grandmas are the best. Grandma M got me american christmas candies and a cozy scarf, Grandma Ml got me money to spend on Amazon, Grandma R got me Godiva and Sour Patch Kids, and Grandma A got me an excellent pile of books.

7. Buy surplus cat food to get you through that extra Scottish bank holiday. What is the purpose of Jan 2nd being a holiday anyway? Particularly since all it means is that the banks and Tesco are closed. Honestly.

8. The husband will not read your wishlist, no matter what form you submit it in. You will have to shove him out the door with the bank card on the last possible shopping day.

9. The most ingenious methods of secretly labelling Christmas presents will be foiled by small girls stealing the implements and the back-up code being forgotten. My efforts will yield me a Christmas Day of people opening the wrong presents and James’ derisive laughter.

10. DIY Christmas crackers continue to defeat me.

11. It is still *excellent* to be in the right country to watch the Christmas Day Doctor Who.

12. It is perhaps not so excellent to be in the right country for young men who adore old war movies.

13. Related to #12 I suspect, James’ use of an emphatic ‘brilliant!’ and drinking of old man drinks increase several-fold over the holidays.

14. The kids will have several meltdowns in proportion to the amount of new crap they have to find homes in their bedroom for.

15. Related to #14, Joseph is seriously deserving of his own room.

16. While the holidays extend only to the 2nd the mess, the pervasive headache, the bits of decorations, the surplus cheese, and the inability to get back on routine will endure until..well, it’s now the 6th and I really hope we don’t have any surprise visitors…unless they’d be willing to wear a blindfold and eat their weight in cheese toasties.

This post has taken about 4 days to finish. In the meantime, I had the virus and have mostly recovered. James is gone tonight, and the kids had the notion of eating nachos for dinner and watching Nacho Libre. I have to say…that’s a brilliant idea.

Hope you are all surviving the weather and the winter travel!