Archive for February, 2008

Scapegoat for my fat ankles, yesss.

February 27, 2008

I was quite happy to read this article on every hypochondriac’s best friend, WebMD. Basically, I can blame my fat @$$ on the huge volume of Diet Coke I’ve ingested in recent months. The (most likely coincidental) fact that I’ve also happened to make all my weight gain in that time is all the correlation my lazy scientific thinking needs. Seriously, at one point I did have my doctor check my thyroid, etc. I’m borderline, but it was no fast explanation for why I’ve gained about 20 pounds this year. To be honest though, I sort of prefer my body this way. All of that skin that my babies so lovingly stretched out (there are disadvantages to having your kids before you’ve gained your ‘freshman 15’) is, well, more filled out. Slight Buddha belly beats deflated balloon, have to say. Same goes up top, though I’ll spare you the metaphorical language for the various states of my rack. While I’m not impressed with my ankles, which now look permanently pre-menstrual, weight gain has given me an excuse to donate all of those clothing I really should have gotten rid of anyway, whether they fit or not.

One money tip if you too are moving the way of the Buddha–the current fashion of clothing with exposed or inverted seams and fraying of edges means that you can often get away with cutting some inches off the waist of your skirts. For a fitted skirt you can either just sew around the perimeter and let the top fray, which is exactly what I did to the denim skirt I’m wearing this very moment, or make a proper hem. Other more loosely-styled or stretchy skirts you can just cut and hem, leaving room for elastic. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of skirts that I could do this with without it looking completely crap. If you don’t wear form-fitting tops or tuck your tops in, you really don’t have to be persnickety at all.

Here’s an ethics question for you crafty ladies–is it wrong to cannibalize clothing for fabric when it’s good enough to donate to a charity shop? On the one hand, that’s less fabric that my husband will have to pay for. That’s the theory anyway. (Rasjane is probably laughing ruefully at this point.) On the other..well there’s just no guarantee that even if I manage to get the fabric out for a project that it will result in anything remotely useful or wearable. My imagination outreaches my skill-set, you see. What do you think? By that of course you realize I’m looking for validation of my desire to hack apart my clothes. 😉

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Worry of the week

February 26, 2008

I got a call today from the doctor’s office about Joseph’s blood. Can’t remember if I said anything, but Josey had to get a bunch of blood drawn last week so the doctor could possibly find a fixable reason for why Joseph will just not gain any weight. His height is ok, but he weighs only 47 pounds (he’s 9). The lady who called said his blood count is low and he has to go get more blood drawn. She didn’t say which portion of the blood is low. I can’t imagine it’s red blood cells, as he has iron in his daily vitamin, and Joseph is the king of routines. I don’t want to even ponder that it’s his white blood cells. So, Friday morning we’ll drag our asses out of bed to go get him poked again. Fortunately we have some of that ‘magic cream’ left, though Joseph cried a bit when I told him the news because he said it hurt even with it. Poor bean.

This will sound completely selfish, but I’m a bit glad it’s Joseph and not Nyssa that needs a blood draw. Joseph can be even-keeled and, well, basically not be a fatalist like Nyss would surely be. I don’t know that I could deal with four days of Nyssa screaming and crying because she’ll have convinced herself that she has some terrible blood disease and she’ll be dead within the week. I’m surprised actually that she hasn’t mentally latched onto worries about her brother.

In other fantastic medical news, the BBC has reported that SSRIs perhaps do little more than provide a placebo effect. To be honest, I’ve long suspected this, but I’ve also long been taking Celexa. For some reason, the idea that my brain got functional on its own makes me more anxious than being able to attribute it to a drug. Pathetic, yes. I think I’m aware of quite how faulty my brain’s wiring is, and I really don’t want to think that the only thing that I can help myself with when next I have problems is my own strength/chemistry/PMA/whatever. This quirk is made even more bizarre since I’ve long accepted that my most fundamental psychiatric problem, DPD (depersonalization disorder), which I’ve had since about the age of 12, is incurable and completely intertwined with all of the other aspects of my personality, and I’m fairly philosophical about it (with some strange lifestyle accommodations). The difference, I guess, is that with DPD I can just shut down and sit it out. With panic, I feel certain that I’m having a heart attack/about to choke/etc. because I have physical symptoms that my empirical brain wants to take seriously. It’s all karma I suppose. When I was younger, I was critical of hypochondriacs. Now I’d totally be one of those weirdos that purchases access to high-tech body scanning equipment, wires herself up to oxygen monitors at night, etc., if I could afford such frivolities. This is where I recommend having faith of some kind to those who can muster it. If I could believe that something in particular happens after death I might calm down a little. As it is, I’m incapable of faith and rather than freeing me from worry (since our best evidence is there is no existence of the ‘self’ after death so we wouldn’t know the difference anyway), it makes me paranoid because all reason, purpose, meaning, etc. has to come from within me, the ultimate flawed entity. Anyway, blah blah blah, you’ve heard all this before. It’s the usual life-dichotomy of the agnostic, trying to live and raise kids as though we have something to base all our behaviors and decisions on when all the time there’s the nagging certainty that we’re totally winging it because there’s just no alternative..

So, on a much happier note, I’ve learned this week that bliss can be had for 2 quid. The last gaming platform I played regularly was a Super Nintendo, and I was completely in love with the Zelda game for it. Some time ago I discovered that it had been pulled from the vaults to be made into a gameboy advance game. The GBA has always been much too painful to use because it doesn’t have a backlit screen and I am very, very old. So imagine my excitement when I learned that The Nintendo DS would accept GBA games. It took a couple years and lots of wheedling at James, but I finally got one this week as my very belated Christmas present. I managed to find the aforementioned Zelda game on ebay for, you guessed it, 2 quid (you didn’t think I found a DS for that price did you? :P) and it came in the mail today. Ahhh. And it wasn’t a completely uneducational purchase–I got to explain to the kids what ‘nostalgia’ means. Awesome.

Nyssa asks,

February 24, 2008

“So where in the world do they put kids in jail? Texas?”

That one sort of came out of nowhere, but after getting my snickering under control, I tried to explain the various institutions, that exist in all of the US states, i.e. childrens’ homes and juvenile detention centres. She really didn’t understand the latter and wouldn’t believe me when I insisted that kids weren’t regularly tied up and beaten with sticks in these places (well, so say the inspectors anyway). My dear wee cynic. 😛

Later I asked her where she had heard about Texas, so as to understand her odd bias. She promptly replied (I’m paraphrasing), “Cartoons! And I know there are lots of wild animals there. But no cowboys and indians, that’s a myth. People there aren’t that smart, even though there’s a university.” I just sort of sat there with my mouth open. It bemuses me how kids can pull bits and pieces from all sorts of sources to come up with some of the strangest opinions. Preparation for the biases of adulthood I guess! This really didn’t help Texas’ case, but I couldn’t help but point out that that Dubya was once governor there. She was predictably unimpressed.

So, next on the academic to-do list: find a way to squeeze some of Texas’ positive attributes into the curriculum!

Cartoons aren’t all bad. I actually find them sort of soothing. I also love watching the kids watch them, because their giggles put my Celexa to shame. Joseph, between giggles this evening, said, “I just love watching the silly, stupid things they do in cartoons!”

This was a very, hmm, bumming around sort of weekend. I wasn’t feeling terrific, and the kids were low-energy. We had also lost a lot of sleep seeing James off early Saturday. We really didn’t do much of anything, in fact we only left the house because the cats had to have food. On a whim I bought some used xbox games at the mall. The kids spent the evening reviewing Futurama, Simpsons Hit and Run, and Super Monkey Ball. They’re all funny, but SMB is hilarious. Lots of falling into the drink and getting to b*tch-smack one’s sibling/child/mother. Considering we were meant to go to Young Archaeologists Club, Dance, Nyssa’s Guides’ Thinking Day service, then to the playpark, and then to a documentary showing at the cinema, the weekend really should seem like a wash. But we hung out and enjoyed each others’ company, so I think it’s fair enough.

Oh Jeebus

February 20, 2008

I’m using youtube to try to convince the kids that Blondie is awesome. We’re listening to ‘Maria’ and I ask Joseph what he thinks. He reports that, ‘the universal police have told me to turn off this putrid music or we’ll all be arrested,’ but that he used his teleporter to get rid of them. I asked him what *he* thought of it. He goes, ‘eh.’ *throttle*

Searching for permutations of ‘Guantanamera’ we found what the kids predictably thought was the best thing ever:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtnF6HJQG5A

The kids had a strange yen for fortune cookies last night, and as the box was 49p I was happy to oblige. Joseph, as you might have guessed, isn’t terribly impressed by them. My mental age is roundabout 12, so I was quick to notice we had some excellent candidates for the ‘between the sheets’ game:

“Let your heart make your decisions–it does not get as confused as your head..between the sheets.”
“Start believing in your dreams and others will catch the fever..between the sheets.”
“You must be ruthless with any obstacles..between the sheets.”

HAHAHaha

*cough*

Latenight pondering

February 20, 2008

James and I and the kids, all working and homeschooling and..mumming, I guess, from home are really feeling the squish of our teensy flat. From a practical standpoint it’s almost ideal. It’s *really* close to the train and bus stations, across the street from the supermarket and our doctor, high above street level, allows cats, has high ceilings, and has really low rent. I’d be reluctant to leave for all of those reasons. Thing is, James really needs an office and the kids can’t share a room forever at the very least. I really wouldn’t mind a private garden either.

So, now that James is established as a career man, the choice is now whether to buy or rent our next place. I had always assumed, like most, that renting is throwing money away and buying is a surefire savings plan. The recent housing troubles made me a bit curious about that apparent reality though. For example, look at this blog post. The idea, basically, seems to be that renting and conservatively investing the money that would have gone towards a mortgage and the various costs of home ownership is a wiser decision.

I had also assumed that what we pay as renters to the landlord must more than cover their mortgage on the place plus agency fees, home repairs, etc. Looking at mortgage calculators, I just can’t see how this could be the case. I don’t understand the mechanism that allows us to rent a home that we could never afford to buy.

Of course inseparable from the argument are the emotional issues. On the one hand, I fear the commitment that home ownership requires. We seem to need a bit of mobility, at least in the near future. On the other hand, I really would like to paint my walls, take on strange landscaping projects, bore holes into the walls without fearing landlord wrath..

Anyway, this post really is an appeal for comments. I know there are many wise and experienced folk out there who could help inform our choices. Please?

Rootbeer and Daleks

February 19, 2008

Nyssa just now, while watching telly: “It looks real but it isn’t. I’m being media smart!” Hehe

As much as it stinks having James away, there are certain benefits. For example, we can eat things that he doesn’t like, namely sloppy joes and anything involving barbeque sauce (I know, I know, freak). Tonight we made root beer floats, another American speciality he abhors. Grandma R was lovely enough to bring along a bottle of root beer concentrate last time she was here. I use a super shortcut recipe that will make hardcore enthusiasts balk (like, short as in dissolving sugar and concentrate in hot water then dumping into sparkling water) but it tastes fine. Cornish clotted cream ice cream makes it lovely. My sort of fusion cuisine ;).

I was quite depressed earlier in the year because I didn’t manage to get Joseph (me) to the Manchester Doctor Who exhibition. As it turns out, there is going to be an even bigger one in London, which will happen to be on the way when we go to the Isle of Wight in April. James’ very best friend forever is finally getting married later in the year, and this is their alternative to bachelor/ette parties. Suits me down to the ground, must say. I haven’t really looked into what there is to do, but I’m fairly certain there will be beds and quiet so I’ll take along knitting and books and be peachy. When we go through London I’d like to take the kids to Camden to buy some weird trinkets and people-watch, but I wonder it’s like post-fire. That really was a shame.

Happiness..

February 18, 2008

..is a box of Animal Crackers. Failing that, a bag of them from Jenners that I got for 80% off is just about as good! (*nomnomnom*) That hoity toity department store in Edinburgh sells several items of American foodstuff, most of which are so over-priced that I point and squack. $10 for a box of Lucky Charms? Who is buying this stuff? What I look for are the clearance items hidden throughout the store. Good times to be had. Anyway, Animal Crackers. It finally occurred to me today that the packaging really shouldn’t make me happy. A polar bear, a lion, etc., all locked up in tiny circus cages. I think the cynic has finally consumed my entire person. It’s sad. They still taste like happy though.

So, Nyssa has been having issues taking proper care of her hair. I do sympathize. It has just a bit of a natural wave, and it’s quite thick. So, rather than hack it all off, I compromised and layered it. One doesn’t normally see layers on such young girls, and I’m really not into teenagering up little pickles. I mean, the term ‘tween’ makes me want to sock somebody. But I was trying to be practical given my circumstances. It does bring out the wave, which is cute. I also cut it in such a way that she can still obsessively tuck it behind her ears. What do you think?

A couple weekends ago Joseph and James went snowboarding with the Cub Scouts! I’m so very happy to report that they both had a great time. I was a bit nervous, truth be told. Watch him in action below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLYGnq6hJL4

As you can see he developed his own style ;).
(if youtube continues to be a b*st*rd about displaying the video, check it out here.

Ah, Nyssa

February 13, 2008

Being young and having a heart that fills to bursting such that feelings come pouring out, at high speed and without editing, can make things interesting for my girl. The other day she bemused me by managing to be both completely un-racist and un-PC simultaneously. She and I were waiting for her dance class to start and waiting along with us was a little classmate and presumably her dad and brother. Nyssa has a tendency to gush, particularly when she wants to be friends with a new acquaintance, and her strategy is the excessive use of compliments. The little girl in question is black and has gorgeous microbraids that have been dyed red at the bottom. Nyssa naturally started saying how much she looooves her hair. Continuing on, she says, ‘I love your skin! I have two black-skinned cousins! I think black skin makes you specialler!!’ I looked at the girl for her reaction and she was a study in the completely neutral expression. I glanced up at her father to see if I should grin sheepishly on Nyssa’s behalf, but he either hadn’t noticed or was likewise not-bothered. I’ll be curious to see how Nyssa ends up getting on with this girl.

I really feel for Nyssa. She wants so desperately to have close friends and to open her heart to peers. The trouble is that many times either the kids don’t respond to her, are sort of frightened off by the aforementioned Nyssa-gushing, or are eventually discovered to be the sorts of kids that would get her into trouble. She can’t deal with being dishonest, and it’s just unfortunate that there are kids about who can’t be bothered with a girl who will feel compelled to run and confess all her sins to Mummy. I really hope she doesn’t harden herself to her personal sense of ethics in order to have more friends. What makes it particularly hard is that gregarious as Nyssa comes across, she’s much more of an appeaser than a leader. She doesn’t have the balls to stand up and just say no to ideas she thinks are rubbish, but neither can she paticipate in them because she does have a strong sense of self. What she also doesn’t see is that things are rarely either/or. Other kids can be flexible, and just because another kid is upset it doesn’t mean that they suddenly hate her. She sees what they are saying now and what they are doing now as being representative that all that shall continue to be. I just hope I can help her learn to relax and have faith in her ability to win and keep friends. Any advice is most welcome because as I recall, I seem to have been completely and neurotically rubbish at the friends thing as a kid!

Winter Flat Complaints

February 3, 2008

Our latest flat-related problem was a real mommy paranoia inducer. The wind whips around our building like nobody’s business, and the skylight (one of those idiotic pretty ones that jut up out of the roof like a mini-greenhouse) makes lots of dodgy creaky noises. One night however, there was a particularly odd and loud noise and James discovered, as shown below, that one of the panes of glass had almost completely broken out of its frame. That in itself made me feel ill. I come from a land where more than a few unfortunate souls have been brained by falling icicles, so I couldn’t imagine glass falling 20 feet being much better. Just because that pane fell harmlessly outwards was no guarantee that the next would follow suit. I started to mentally calculate how long I could reasonably keep the kids trapped upstairs while I tried to find tiny hardhats. James was a bit more pragmatic and actually managed to get someone to come look at it right away. His scary put-out voice is good for that. The first people to show were rubbish. First, they were too brain-dead to follow our instructions for ringing the door. Second, they took a look about for a couple minutes and decided that they’d have to wait until Monday to do anything. Because they didn’t have a ladder. These asshats are professional roofers. Is a ladder not standard equipment these days? FFS.. Anyway, the letting agency sent someone competent soon thereafter, a proper glazier, and he sorted it right out. He’s also the type of bloke I’d trust when he says that the skylight is safe to walk under, which he did, so we’ve been doing so.


The cats were very much confused by the substantially changed weather patterns..

My lingering flat-related complaint has to do with the gas safety guy, of all people. He insisted that we uncover the vent in the kitchen. We whined a bit on that point. We have a fairly unobstructed view of the sea from up here. As picturesque as the oil tankers and tesco parking lot are, it does mean that the wind smacks right up against our kitchen wall. And the vent that some stupidhead decided should go there. Seems to me that the idea of a gas vent is to allow the dangerous vapors to, you know, vent out rather than be blown right back inside by the wind. So, as though our inadequately insulated flat weren’t cold enough, now we have a constant freezing breeze. The weather has been grim lately and I obsessively check uk.weather.com for signs of a let-up. Considering that we’ve had freak snow flurries, it doesn’t look good. Pah.

Well, on to what does look good..my children!


I see MathUSee manipulatives. Joseph sees Legos. What do they both have in common? They’re bleedin’ expensive!

Hard to tell, but I had just cut Joseph’s hair. I’m getting pretty adept at it, I think. He continually gives himself a little poindexter centre part, and it drives me crazy! I should give him an Alfalfa cowlick to complete the look if he persists.


Ain’t she cute? And doesn’t she look much too much like a teenager? I can only hope she looks this un-surly in 5 years..