Archive for April, 2008

Eep eep eep

April 30, 2008

This is what I’m excited about–I might have found us a house:

Edit: James thought perhaps I shouldn’t stick the front of the house photo up for a while, given that at the moment it’s plastered on letting agent sites that use mapping features. This is the left-front garden instead.


This is the view over the wall on the right side of the garden. This pummels our current view over the Tesco parking lot to pieces.

++pros++
-vestibule with tile and stained glass and second door. This is nice, but the important thing is that second door. It acts as a kitty air lock (Mitu has developed an unnerving interest in the world beyond the front door).
-there are *five* fireplaces in the house, one being a gas flame type
-house dates to around 1912, is what she said I think.
-old wooden floors (but also see cons)
-uses those beautiful sandstone blocks/bricks
-many little nooks and cupboards
-downstairs WC
-two bedrooms downstairs, which means we could have the entire upstairs as grownup land, aside from when the kids need to be bathed.
-big quiet office upstairs for James, and a big bedroom for us.
-gas central heating
-huge drying structure on the ceiling of the kitchen
-all white goods, including dishwasher. The washer/dryer are *not* in the kitchen
-gas hob
-will have a new boiler
-walled/fenced garden
-just over our wall is the tiny river Eden, with a park area with picnic tables, paths (for learning to ride bikes!), and grass for running around
-the local shop is open until 10pm, I think, and has an atm and most of the basics we’d need (i.e. emergency cat food..)
-bus goes right to Pillars of Hercules, which would provide both food and excellent mucky volunteer opportunities
-falkland is 2 miles away
-lots of space in the garden
-gorgeous views of hills and fields
-playground about a minute’s walk away
-the kids really love it
-big dining room
-I can ask for a hammock for my birthday and not get laughed at!
-has a shed

–cons–
-kitchen is small, though definitely not unbearably so. There’s room for my kitchen storage furniture and probably a butterfly table.
-those wooden floors might proof splintery, though they seemed pretty smooth when I touched them
-no bath tub. seriously.
-the carpet isn’t great, but at least it’s not a horrible color or pattern. Fortunately, only the stairs and one bedroom have it. The rest have hardwood, aside from what would be Nyssa’s room and the kitchen and bathrooms which have laminate.
-we’d have to (pay someone to) mow the lawn
-until we get a car, certain errands will be a pain in the ass. Hopefully the cats don’t get sick, because I’d have to taxi them to the Glenrothes branch of our vet. The less time I spend in Glenrothes (aside from when visiting friends) the better. It just rubs me the wrong way..

Apparently there’s another couple (from London, :P) who are looking at it on Saturday. If they really want it there’s going to be, I don’t know, a battle of the references? In a way this is good–the stress is keeping me from worrying about getting on a plane in 2ish weeks (gah). I just want this pretty house to be mine to make lovely and homey.

Happy Bear

April 29, 2008

Bears on my page because they are happy. I’m having a fearsome time with this cold preventing me from sleeping, so idle page-happy-making is as good a way to keep me awake until bedtime as any I suppose.

‘Bear’ is one of those words I can’t say like an American anymore. I draw the word out really strangely like ‘bee-are’ and with way too much inflection. I blame the local Scottish home-ed tiddles. 🙂

Golanga

April 27, 2008

Or I think that’s the word anyway. I made the mistake of looking confused whilst on the High Street yesterday during the Continental Market and a little foreign man accosted me. He was hard to understand (I have a nasty cold, hence the confusion in the first place), but I heard the words ‘monk’, ‘good works’, ‘spare change’, etc. so dug out a couple quid for him. Then he asked me to say the above word, which apparently means ‘be happy’, in sanscrit I assume. He handed me a nice little Krishna prayer book, and suddenly I felt like a cheap b*st*rd.

The book is called, Teachings of Queen Kunti. Let’s open ‘er up and glean some wisdom..chapter three is entitled, “The Most Intelligent Woman,” that sounds promising…or perhaps not: “Kuntidevi humbly submits, ‘…But what are we? We are simply women. We are in a lower class. How can we understand you?’ Although she understands everything, she still takes the position of an ordinary woman and says, ‘How can I understand you?’ This is humility.” Right, so throughout history and continuing today, women keep mum about their insights. Whether due to self-repression or being repressed by others, the world doesn’t benefit from their wisdom. And we still bemoan the fact that our technological advances continually outstrip our social progress. Annnyway, moving on, lest I go on a feme-rant..the rest of the book is about the general awesomeness of Krishna, which I really have no opinion on. There were some nice color prints in the middle with him being a naughty child, which is nifty I suppose.

This week was very exciting. James and I got our first *new* major pieces of furniture, and we did really need them–a sofa and a bed. Our old sofa was from a charity shop, was totally torn and horrid, and had no support, which is bad because I frequently sleep out on the couch. What, I’m odd. The new sofa is massive and more than long enough for me to lay on. It’s corduroy because I thought that would be nice and substantial without being something the cats would want to use as a scratching post. Our bed was not even a full double size, and was also from a charity shop. It wasn’t until it was delivered that I realized that it was practically dripping human funk, and I had to completely wrap it in impermeable material to tolerate it. Our new bed is king-sized, which in America is actually Queen, but still! It can hold two people and a cat or two. I suppose it’s slightly less exciting that they’re Ikea items, but I refuse to pay normal retail. Peectures:

Some more photos, just because…


Nyssa at Ikea, doing her thing.


Nyssa in the streets, doing her thing…


Mommy, having wrangled a Nyssa to steal her warmth.


Last week my twitter told you that there was a feris wheel behind my house–here is the proof.


I also told you on my twitter that I was in love with the man who freely gaveth the baklava. Here he is, giving it away on the streets. *straightface* Seriously though, I managed to make it through four days of continental market without buying any of that hiney-enhancer of the debbil. I do love it so.


I took the fabric off one of the old couch cushions, which they liked to scratch, and put it on a nasty old woven stool, which they liked to scratch. I thought this would make the perfect scratching toy, and I think I can be forgiven for thinking so. I even sprayed it with catnip. Mitu loved it up big time, must be the source of his unearthly glow, but a claw has yet to penetrate the thing. *sigh*

Nyssa did a most amazing thing this morning. I was asleep on the couch and having a terrifying dream about Joseph being most likely killed, having fallen off the side of a building. Just as I was about to uncover a silver cloth that confirmed my fears and completely lose it, I felt something gentle on my back and slowly drifted awake to find Nyssa sitting behind me petting my back. She does mind-bendingly emotionally intuitive things like sometimes. Lovely creature 🙂

Exploiting children for laughs…

April 24, 2008

…is good fun.

Can I have 4 beers? rofl

Update your bookmarks..

April 21, 2008

..actually, you don’t really have to. If you go to rosgen.net, you’ll see why. At the moment, I’ve just got my livejournal embedded into it, with no bonus spiffy content. But the domain’s mine, and I can dump files into it. *shrug*

And now some random photos..

This is Nyssa with her new fashion designing set. Joseph has made some gorgeous things with it too–I’ve told him I wished I had a prom to go to now that he’s around :). Nyssa refuses my suggestion that she starts using colored pencils rather than markers, as she’ll have so much more flexibility. She replied that that was completely unnecessary as she has every color in marker she would ever want. Well, fair enough I guess?

This is me being very creepy. I have no idea who this cute little girl is, but Joseph pointed her out, saying, ‘Awwwww, look! That little girl is getting her hair done, and there’s another girl on the other side of the room getting *her* hair done! I think they’re twins! Aren’t they cuuute?’ I love that Joseph has a strong sense of squee. I wish I was talented enough to have gotten them both in the picture using mirror reflections, but ah well. At the point I got this photo, it was getting hard to pretend I was just checking my messages ;).

This crappy picture is our Animal Crossing family. The kids really love it, and I find them cuddled up playing their little people together. I like to play just long enough to write them a letter or see how they’ve furnished the house, etc.

This is our kitten. He’s looking quite grand isn’t he? And very well-behaved, for once. Silly little cat. <3<3<3

More news of the frivolous

April 18, 2008

So..I was plundering my perfume sample box (yes I have one, pathetic) to see if there was some gem I had overlooked. I’ve purchased two perfumes in the last year (at super discount, James!), Agent Provocateur Eau Emotionelle and Angel Peony, that seemed great after much testing. However, they did that passive aggressive full-size-bottle syndrome thing and I found them too sweet and too sharp, respectively. It’s irritating, to say that least. I seem to have a remarkable inability to cater to my own tastes (I blame wife/motherhood). Anyway, I found Bvlgari Omnia in the box and remembered how much I liked it, so much as to have bought a 5ml bottle on Ebay. I tried it again, and found it still to be very lovely. A web search found me a good deal–40mls for 15 quid at Superdrug. Sold.

The notes, if the internets are to be believed, include black pepper, mandarin, masala tea, saffron, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, chocolate, lotus blossom, and sandalwood. Very unsurprising that I like it. I don’t get any flower, which is fine with me. It keeps the fragrance completely smooth and inoffensive. What surprises me is that it’s not sweet or cloying. Most gourmandy frags, even orientals, seem to get loaded down with caramelly crap. I love sweets, but the smell of, say, loukhoum makes me want to ralph.

What I like best is that James likes it *and* I can imagine it in all sorts of situations. Me plopping on a department store’s nicest couches to chat with the kids about puberty whilst waving off salespeople: check. Me nosing about a nice chocolate shop and whinging about the lack of chocs involving lemon: check. Me cooking Christmas dinner and becoming increasingly pissed at how many dishes are being ruined in the fan oven: check. Me sniffing tree branches to the bemusement of passers by: check. Me at the train station with James and having one of those silent arguments conducted solely with eyelids: indeed check.

Oh, and the bottle is seriously nifty (though I wish it were entirely glass and metal)

In other fragrance news, Nyssa appalled me today by dousing herself with Live by J.Lo and lurrrving it. Everytime we go into a drugstore she points and squees, and I have to slap my hand over my mouth to keep the ‘OMG CHAV!’ from escaping my lips. Parenting is hard. For reals.

Lushhhh

April 17, 2008

You might know I’m a huge Lushie. As in the shop that about knocks you over with scenty bath delights from several doors away. They’ve very recently started selling ‘retro lush’ items on their website, so I snagged a few things this week. Their ‘B Never…’ site is tied in, so I got a few things there as well. I’ve wanted to try their perfumes for a while and took the excuse to order samples. Disappointingly, all of them have either a strange mustiness to them or too much citrus. The closest to someting I could wear is 1000 Kisses Deep. It’s not quite right though. I stuck a bunch of vanilla in it, and it was improved some. Still, don’t really want a perfume I have to doctor, not at that price point, so I continue to search. I wish they would make a perfume from something like their Figs and Leaves soap.

I was a silly sod in ordering the chocolate lip scrub. I’m always keen for a good lip exfoliator, but I should have saved myself money and looked at the ingredient list rather than ordering–it’s just jojoba oil, demerara caster sugar, and vanilla and chocolate extracts. Well, at least I have a cute pot to stick my own concoction in when this batch runs out :P. ’tis very tasty…

I have discovered the best and easiest bathroom air freshener, incidentally. I just stick all my Lush bubble bars on a tray and pop on the counter. Bubble bar slices are brilliant for a couple more reasons. First, they don’t tend to have the really buttery crap that the ballistics usually include that invariably require that you scrub the tub as soon as your bath is over. Also, you can be a cheap b*st*rd and use a bar for a few baths rather than just the one.

So, in addition to a bubbly bath and lip exfoliation, I dyed my hair and painted my toenails. That’s extraordinarily self-attentive for me. I tend to go for the semi-groomed yeti look in general. What I do need to do is find a way to make the rest of the household members disappear during daylight hours once in a while so I don’t have to wait until the freaking witching hours to pay attention to myself. Last night I dreamt that I had a whole suite of rooms to myself. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, it was grand.

Curriculum..dundundun

April 16, 2008

I keep meaning to do this, so here it is:

We have an on again/off again homeschooling style (sorry..I know it offends UK folk, but I’ll never get used to saying ‘home-edding’, and just forget ‘home-based edding’..). By that I mean that we have a fairly set curriculum, but it’s entirely hashed together eclectica-style and just about anything can and will interrupt it, be it a homeschooler outing or just a sunny scottish day which is too rare to waste indoors.

So generally, mornings are left as free time. Nyssa is the only morning person in the house, so I’m afraid she has to work around us. After lunch is time for chores (and no, I’m not going to sugarcoat them by calling them ‘happy tasks’, etc. Chores are work and they suck and it’s best that they get used to having to do crappy labor that they’d rather avoid). Our afternoon learning Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays is ‘Unit’ (which currently is anything that can be related to water), maths, and history (we’re currently on ancient civ). Tuesdays and Thursdays is Spanish, spelling, and writing. Weekends are arts/crafts, music, games, leisure reading, etc. though in reality, these activities get interspersed into the week because I can’t bear to go so long with no board games.

Our math program is MathUSee.


Once you get past being taught by a guy who could be Dr. Phil’s brother, it’s quite good. I unnecessarily started the kids in Alpha, which was painfully boring (anyone want two sets of mostly unused books?) but got them used to the idea of manipulatives, ‘decimal street’, etc. We’re in Beta now, which is not much harder, but I do think the kids need reinforcement in their skills before we move on. The program goes up through quite high levels in maths in UK editions, so I imagine we’ll stick with it. It’s also sort of awesome to have a DVD teacher to make fun of, er, learn from.

Our history program is the homeschool mainstay, Bauer’s ‘Story of the World’.


I like it because the text is written in a narrative style which is engaging to my kids. The accompanying activity/resource book usually has at least one decent activity for each lesson. I wish the author spent more time on pre-literate humans, but for obvious reasons that is technically beyond the remit of a historian.

For Spanish we use the latin-american online edition of Rosetta Stone.


I like it a lot, particularly as we have an awesome set-up with a wireless mouse and keyboard on the coffee table and the tv as the monitor. The kids sit at the table, and I sit at the whiteboard easel madly scribbling down new vocab as it’s introduced. I’m not an aural learner, so I insist on written activities and lots of flash card games. Nyssa, I’ve discovered, has a bewildering ability to memorize her vocab.

We use Avco Sequential Spelling, which the kids and I like and teaches the concepts they need. That’s probably all you need in a spelling program, to be honest. I like this one because there’s no pretest/final test with words being abandoned once ‘learned’ nonsense like we had in school. I say a word, the kids try to spell it on their own, and then we correct it then and there before moving to the next. Words get revisited, which is think is very good. One other selling point–particularly as we’re paying in US $$ and you can download your own text to print out, this program is seriously cheap.

Writing is generally just prompts I pull out of my ass, the variety being in whether it’s related to another subject, if it’s to be free-write or formulaic, etc. I’m mostly just looking for the kids to flex their creative muscles, as I find that when they’re delving into their brains for something interesting or funny or shocking, the good vocab and impressive sentence structures come out as well.

Our next craft is going to be silk painting and nuno felting, hopefully at some point a combination thereof. I trawled ebay for the necessary goods, I have a shedload of fibre left over from my Woolfest haul last year, so we’re ready to go. That is, as soon as I clean up the landing, which is our designated craft area. It’s another good weather day today, so as the kids are tearing it up in the garden, I’ll be attending to the mess. Anyway, I was inspired by this lovely gal down south, Rachel, who is textile artist. Here is her felting tutorial: click

I’m lucky in that my kids don’t moan when told to read. It probably helps that I have a generous book-buying policy. At this point I generally try to encourage Nyssa and Joseph to read more reference-type and chapter books, respectively, because they naturally gravitate towards the other. Nyssa is particularly amusing in what she’ll want to read about. I’ve had requests for toilets, mushrooms, and Elvis, for example. Joseph is fairly predictable in what he wants to read–Doctor Who and space books. He has expanded his interests in include Star Wars recently, and we were fairly annoyed to not find any good books for him at the shops. Shall have to try Amazon.

We adore games. Our next acquisitions, inspired by our new grown-up friends we met in the Isle of Wight, are to be Carcasonne and Halli Galli.

Stand-up good times

April 16, 2008

One of my enduring obsessions has been watching stand-up on TV. Being a nightowl in the UK means that I’ve seen each episode of Jack Dee Live at the Apollo about a dozen times. Last night I was watching the bit with him going OCD about house guests and toothbrush bristles mingling, and decided that he is indeed my male, middle-aged alter-self. Wish I could find that bit on youtube, but instead here is him ranting about movie hotlines:

Whoops, BBC Vid can’t be embedded (w*nk*rs)–click here

On live at the Apollo he begins and ends the show with a special guest in the middle. One of the most brilliant has to be Omid Djalili. If you’ve not seen him on the tele, watch these. That means you in particular, Maureen.

And also, Omid does a good hillbilly

Eep!

April 15, 2008

I bought Nyssa a pretty hoodie today. No big deal, right? I bought it from the *preteen* section of New Look. *sob* She is small, she is small!!! I’ve put this picture of 2&3-year-old Nyn and Jos on my desktop:

Look at the date–that was nearly 6 years ago!