Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

TGIF

February 2, 2009

February, that is. I never could get the hang of January. I really should just schedule myself to be absent for that one month of the year.

So, Scotland being ever a contrary sort of place, has once again waited until well after the holidays to grace us with a considerable snowfall.

My family back home are surely saying, ‘Pfft. You can still see the ground in places.’ Fair enough, but this is serious for us. The South of England has ground to a halt, apparently.

Nyssa, our little polar bear, outside practicing tennis. By herself. It should be noted that she’s only wearing a coat because I insisted.

Two blue garden gnomes? Nay, after several weeks, the Dynorod people finally came back and gutted out the sewage pipes and filled in the hole. This would be why I’m slightly happier to have Nyssa running about in the garden–not so likely now that she’ll infect us all with cholera or something..:P

Robin saying ‘hello’ outside the living room window. Yes, actually I will use any excuse to post gratuitous robin pictures.

We have also had an unusual amount of winter sun, which means occasionally I can get the house to a happy temperature. Mittens enjoys basking weather a great deal.

Truth be told, so do I. There is a direct correlation between how warm I am and how likely I am to get properly dressed. I say properly..no doubt my fashion sense is somewhat lacking in that regard.

Thanks to Kosmic, we did make it out of the house last week. We had a sort of ‘swap shop’ with other homeschool kids. By which I mean kids (mums) packed up loads of stuff they wanted to be rid of and brought it along with no intention of taking more stuff back home with them. It worked out mostly well for us–here Joseph is dutifully trying to convince people of the brilliance of his Doctor Who collection. I admit I was a bit sad that he considers his Dr. Who phase to be utterly over. If only Lego snagged the franchise, it might have had a chance with Joseph.. I’m sorry, but there’s no way that Star Wars is *more* cool.

Nyssa being not so dutiful–can you believe she’s actually swapping?

This was me during the swap. The Scout Hall we were in did not have the heating turned on in that part of the building. It wasn’t just me being wimpy. Ask anyone.

What a fabulous lad, doing the sweeping up.

Nyssa was too busy getting to be with another girl. She’s had quite a social week actually–tonight she comes home after having been at another friend’s house for 3 nights! I would have thought (hoped?) that that would have been too long without me, or at least Joseph, but apparently not.. I guess that’s good. (*sob*)

Oh yes, I’ve started a new knitting blog here. I had another one, but got annoyed with it as it’s a different user and requires that I log out of this account to use it. Yes, I’m very lazy. I’ve also had cause to post to my garden blog, which is linked in the sidebar, if you’re interested.

So, things are looking up. Valentine’s Day is coming up, for which I continue to try and train James, and after that it’s but a short jump into spring!

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Cold cold cold

January 19, 2009

This is me these days:

Very cold and a bit resentful. The former because the house just won’t heat up properly, and I wear many layers of clothes, hats, and jackets to preserve my body heat. The latter because we’re paying what I’m guessing is more than £200 per month just to run the boiler and I feel that for that money I should be luxuriating in nothing but camisole tops should I choose to. So, due to cold, giving all our money to Scottish gas, and feeling generally lethargic, we haven’t been up to terribly much aside from the odd virus. Remember that song, ‘If we make it through December..’? Yeah, that month for me would be January. At least next month I can eat lots of chocolate and pester James for cheery flowers.

We’re fully back into homeschooling at least. Keeping the kids’ brains busy makes me feel less bad about not going hardly anywhere. They’re about to finish a math text which makes me feel vaguely accomplished. Though to be fair, we’re impatient learners and will have techically done less than 1/4 of the prescribed work as we have no desire to do busy work once a concept is mastered. The fact that I always performed worse in classes that required a lot of pointless scribbling is probably biasing my teaching methods, but we work with what we have..

When we’re not learning, we are doing crafts, building Lego and playing Wii. Oh yes, I got a Wii and Wii Fit for Christmas. You can guess who the only person still without a Wii Fit profile is :P. I’ll get around to it just a soon a I can remove a few layers of clothing without risking frostbite.

Some few pictures from the last month:

A rather badly taken photo of our Christmas spoils. ‘Spoil’ is a fairly appropriate word in this case, as the kids managed to end up with even more this year than usual. I think James wins as gift-giver this year with the boots he bought for me. He had noticed that I had ordered some boots on clearance only to have the order cancelled as they had run out of stock. Seeing that I was bummed out, he then went to Glasgow a few weeks later and managed to track down a pair for me–in the right size, in the right color! It was on this trip that he also managed to snag the Wii stuff. I was so dead impressed, particularly as his normal shopping strategy involves me having to kick him out of the house on Christmas Eve with the bank card.

I did manage to finish his quilt in time for Christmas, the piecing and binding hastily sewn up while he was away on business. The back is seriously amateurish, and the actual quilting was minimal. Fortunately, I had bought a high quality wadding which tolerated my half-assedness well, at least where the quilting was concerned. Technically, this is my first quilt that had a proper wadding and backing, and I found it enormously frustrating. The cotton and the wadding stuck to each other so much that trying to align and smooth them required almost more patience than I could muster. I was sure I must have been missing some key insider tips on making the whole experience zen-filled. Ah well. Also, you might notice the quilt is square rather than a standard bed size. I could pretend that I just like it that way, but the truth is that I screwed up a couple rows of cats and couldn’t bear the thought of picking out all those stitches. Fat quarter quilts are great, so long as you don’t screw up any of your pieces. Anyway, James likes it, or at least is wise enough to say as much. I DO like the cat motif. It’s hard to see, but the fabrics are all very beautiful, and have an asian theme. He picked them himself, actually! His Christmas sweater is almost finished, the knitting on the second arm due to be finished today.


This is one of the cuter advent calendars I’ve seen. James’ mom Anne sent it, and the kids really liked putting it together every day. They even hid little surprises in most of them and made up a game for us to play, which we finally got around to doing the other day. Very sweet.


Oh oh, Mo got me a gorgeous stack of fat quarters for Christmas. We seem to have a decent system–she sends me fabric that is so hard to get here (in person anyway) and I send her British yarn. Her birthday is coming up, and I’m having a terrible time trying to decide what to get. I want to get her loads and loads is the problem because I adore spoiling her, even more so now that she’s about to have her baby.

The cats have been up to the usual naughtiness.


I thought I was very clever repurposing a birdfeed holder for cat food. I forgot to consider the fact that birds aren’t capable of lifting lids of that size. It is now weighted with a jug of juice. I would love to have an immaculately styled home, but it’s precluded by my need to have the house strewn with McGyver-esque naughty cat solutions. The downstairs toilet is the absolute worst. I have, in this tiny room, two cat litter boxes; one open and another huge covered one. I also have to have a big empty plastic bin next to the toilet. Why?? Because Mittens prefers to urinate on bare floor. I suppose I should be grateful that he will at least use the bin, but sheesh. What really gets me is that if he sees that he has peed in the box and no one has gotten around to mopping it up yet, he will suddenly deign to use a litter box. Argh!


Mittens has extreme food tracking skills. We rarely get cat food in the Tesco order (grocery home delivery–a godsend, even if I do hate Tesco), and yet on the recent occasion that I did, he zeroed in on the bag, which was wrapped in another bag, neither of which was leaky, and prompty tore into it. Here James is extracting the kitten from the bag. Being on a diet must trigger some latent desperating hunting skills, or something. Poor fattypuss.


I found the kids these excellent super-challenging dot-to-dot books that are pretty addictive. Mittens even likes to give them a go..


Representative of who is in control of this household.

The kids were invited to a little Build-a-Bear party, which was very cute, have to say.


Funny, it was the adults who thought this part looked a bit dodgy. Growing up twists the mind..


Nyssa went for a typical cat-in-pink-dress sort of thing. Joseph chose a bear and dressed it in slippers, an army helmet, stuck a wee cat to its arm, and gave it a little backpack stuffed with another tiny animal. Hehe. Oh, also Grandpa Mike and Grandma Mel should note that I was serious when I said that Joseph wears his new hat everywhere! 🙂


Lovely robin, very grateful for his food (better be–I buy him premium stuff) and look at how tubby he is, even though it’s midwinter! ❤

Run-up to Christmas ’08

December 24, 2008


Looks like our heroes are SOL.


A Christmas ornament box *shrug* That’s my seester and me in the photo.


If there’s one thing keeping community halls open in this country it’s the need of the British person (apparently) to hold fundraising events. These events have led to the evolution of a number of games that one must pay to play. We went to a village Christmas Fayre and came out with what are, I have to say, the worst Tombola prizes ever. The chocolate buttons would have been a winner, but for the fact that the box had obviously been opened already and hastily taped shut again.. I’m not sure what’s worse, the Miller beer Joseph won, or the scary finger puppet.


The household naughties in a moment of cute repose.


Nyny’s first choir concert! Look at her stance and her gaping mouth–she’s a natural! 🙂


My pear cheese! It’s got pear schnapps in it or something..I dunno, I saw it in a deli and just needed it!


This we did not need–a pork liver jelly. Afficionados of American 60’s-style Jello side dishes should take heart; their British cousins are keeping the beastly tradition alive and well.


The annual gingerbread day–this is the girls’ cake.


The boys’–I like the snow drifts. Also like Joseph’s bug cookies.


Me screwing up with the camera..looks sorta trippy.


Our Christmas tree (dur)


Owls are way better than angels. Besides, I stuck my swarovski (love) star on the leader.


Joseph appropriated the mantle to display the contents of his Lego advent calendar. I gave up trying to control the decor of the room not long thereafter–to be fair, Joseph has at least as much flair for that sort of thing as I do. He made a very nice little centrepiece with tree clippings and a little bird ornament.


Ha! Caught with a corm! If I haven’t said, we call those packing corn-based pellets ‘corms’..because we’re LOL-idiots. Mittens has been put on a diet and so has taken to inspecting our many packages for these things. He hoards them and snacks on them when he wants food. He also rips open bags of the corn-based cat litter when particularly desperate..poor fattypuss.


Look what we found in a junk shop in Perth! I’m a tacky SOB, so rather than paying the 6 quid to own a bit of my heritage, I just took a picture.


But we did buy these! James was dead impressed to find what he calls my new ‘titchy boots.’ They’re just like his army boots, but, er, titchy! 🙂


Trippy photo of the kids while we’re waiting for the panto to start. We saw The Snow Queen this year.


Merry Christmas from Dynarod–a big hole into the sewage system in the yard, which they won’t likely get to filling in until the new year. 😛


Joseph, defying the homeschooler stereotype of the anti-videogame household. Xbox Lego games are his primary holiday occupation (apart from actual Lego).


Nyssa, performing her primary occupation–devouring books.


Christmas cookie-making, as overseen by Mitu. The messy kitchen would be his fault. *cough*

Hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!

Some peechers..

December 14, 2008

..that didn’t fit in thematically with other photos.


Nyssa and Joseph looking rather gorgeous at Ben and Meg’s wedding.


I need to dig out the rest of the wedding photos. There are some funny ones that document exactly how quickly it was that Nyssa managed to make herself unkempt once she was allowed to.


I bought the little heat pad for me..


Roald Dahl and wine, excellent.


She’s looking much too mature these days, if you ask me.


That’s a bit more like it.


Pumpkin spice cookies with chopped chocolate and galaxy buttons. I dunno, they were very nice.


I post this picture of a tired me to show mom my hat and that I still wear Grandma’s coat.


A most surprising thing–I adore scones with clotted cream. There is nothing attractive at all about the words ‘clotted cream’ but the stuff is gorgeous.


Joseph turned 10 this year. He was quite adamant that we get these candles when he saw them in the shop. Poor kid..

Tormenting our kids..

December 2, 2008

…is a duty and a privilege. The latest elaborate prank on Joseph involved the ongoing meme of Joseph’s hatred for Buzz Lightyear, who in younger and kinder years was a treasured friend to the boy. James has collected his related paraphernalia, in particular anything depicting Evil Emperor Zurg. At one point James made Joseph a Star Wars CD and, awful man that he is, made the first track Zurg’s Planet. Joseph was, erm, indignant to say the least.

So anyway, James has got a couple Zurg figurines on his desk; half to piss Joseph off, half in defiance of his growing up (whose, you ask? Good question..). James started his prank by putting this through the mail slot:

(Yes, it’s taken me a while to post this). Joseph, having failed to notice in his excitement that it’s written on my note paper and that it’s quite obviously James’ handwriting, asked if he could call the number. He called the ‘courier’ and had a very sweet and polite conversation about his parcel. I would have gotten all sniffly at the cuteness if I wasn’t trying so hard not to laugh. Joseph got off the phone and said the parcel would be coming tomorrow. Then James ran around the side of the house and phoned Joseph back.

He told Joseph that a courier was in the area and would drop the parcel by shortly. A couple minutes later, James dropped a parcel on the step, rang the bell, then booked it for the back door. While Joseph was getting the door, he slipped back upstairs to his office.

Joseph happily trotted back inside with his parcel and opened it up.

The letter read something along the lines of, “We hope you will enjoy playing with your new Zurg action figure. Regards, the Evil Emperor Zurg Corporation.” Joseph was confused, but after a nano second or two of thought started to smell a rat. He ran upstairs and demanded to see James’ Evil Emperor Zurgs.

James showed Joseph his miniature straightaway, and blandly told Joseph that he’s only ever had the one. Joseph was fairly convinced that he’d been had but as James is such a good bullsh*tter, was not quite sure. Nyssa took the opportunity to steal James’ computer and laugh derisively.

Joseph did manage to get revenge. A few weeks later he found the most hideous Jar Jar Binks hand puppet at a charity sale. He bought it, boxed it up as though it were a work-related parcel and had it ‘sent’ to a horrified James. Hehe.

Well done Joseph. It’s good to know we’re teaching, uhh, valuable skills.

Contrast: The House

November 30, 2008

November has shown a lot of variety out here.


A deluge of incredibly heavy wind and rain early in the month robs us of what would have been a spectacular display of autumn colour, but it was still quite pretty.


It properly snowed one night! It even lasted most of that day. Living farther inland we’re definitely going to see more winter weather, I think.


This is how things have been looking for the last week or so, quite misty and a thick frost on everything.

Me and the Girl

November 30, 2008

I like December because Christmas shopping gives me an excuse to take the kids out singly, which I always enjoy. Yesterday, Nyn and I went to Edinburgh.


That’s right, those are a US 6.5, so she’s certainly fitting into adult shoes now.


The German Market is in town! Pretzels and pyramids for everyone!


Put a moon in the door instead of a heart, and you’ve got something I seriously need to own.


Warm pretzel love.


Possibly the best thing of the day–all bedecked with garland was this kid with a sign that said ‘free hugs’. How could we not? Reminds me of the Seattle ‘smile’ guy.


Nyssa really wanted a trip to the salad bar at Pizza Hut. The waitress convinced her to get the kids meal because it included one for free. See here her puny salad. I love the ‘I’ve been gipped’ look on Nyn’s face when surveying her meager bowl. Hehehe.

We had a very nice time, and public transport actually more or less worked (it’s been real touch and go lately). We got our gifts, wasted all sorts of time in shoe and perfume departments, and drank plenty of decaff lattes. Having a daughter is excellent stuff.

Me vs. the Cat: Sewing

November 30, 2008

Mitu has needs. Most of them involve being the centre of attention, particularly when I have things I want to get done, *most* particularly when I have things I want to get done without the addition of cat hair…


whether it’s napping on my very nice Scottish tweed…


or sitting on top of my neatly stacked, and equally nice quilting fabric…


or seemingly trying to open an artery on the rotary cutter. *sigh* He IS pretty cute though.

Halloween–Scotland Style

November 2, 2008

This year we decided to fully participate in Halloween. When we lived in a downtown area, it didn’t really make sense to. Now that we’re in a village, with streets with houses with front doors and porch lights, I thought we’d finally have our first British trick-or-treat.

Difference one: I don’t know how things have progressed in the States, but out here in the Scottish sticks, you’re not necessarily out of luck if you need huge amounts of groceries and don’t have a car. What this means is that we had our Halloween pumpkins delivered, which obviously took away a key aspect of the activity back home–getting to pick them ourselves. No matter, they worked out well enough. Here James is helping the kids plan their designs. That is, he’s trying to explain why perhaps carving a Darth Maul face is a bit ambitious for the amount of energy he had that evening.. I’m glad he was willing to do it, because I still had to sew up a rudimentary costume so Joseph could dress up as the aforementioned Sith.


Even in trying to be scary, Nyssa is incapable of not being cute.


You wouldn’t expect it, but Joseph will play to a camera..

On Halloween the kids were hopping around all day waiting to get dressed and go out. I was still fairly nervous about going, partially convinced that I had heard wrong and people would open their doors to us with utter bewilderment. The plan was to wait until well after sundown, but what I was actually waiting for was for some kids to come to my door first. Joseph pointed out the obvious logical flaw there–what if everyone does the same?? I told him I was fairly certain that no one else would be as out-of-the-know and neurotic as his dear mother. He wasn’t terribly impressed, but at about 6:30 some kids turned up and that was that.


Darth Joseph.


Cute devil fairy? I dunno, it was the best I could find on ebay at the last minute.

So off we went. I was unsure which houses to knock at, so I went with the old standby of only going for houses with porch lights on. This is a bit problematic, as most houses don’t actually have porches, but we made do. Some houses in the village were actually quite decked out in Halloween decorations. And at most houses the kids were invited in by older women who insisted that it was too cold the kids to be mingling about outside. That of course would be huge difference number two. I was strictly instructed as a child to never step over the threshold. Child molesters surely laid in wait if I did. At one house, there were some 20-somethings that had decorated, from what I could tell, their entire house and asked kids in to have a cookie and gave them each a party bag full of treats. I have to assume that this doesn’t happen in larger towns, particularly the unwrapped baked goods and fresh fruit we received (also huge no-nos from childhood–apples can contain razor blades, don’t ya know!).

I had made sure the kids had memorized a couple jokes because I had heard that a remnant from the old Scottish tradition of guising was that some folks expected kids to do some sort of trick–song, dance, joke, whatever. It’s a good thing I did, because that indeed was the norm. My assumption growing up was that trick or treat meant give me a treat from that big WalMart bag of candy or I’ll play a trick on you. This of course was bolstered by that lovely ‘trick or treat, smell my feet..’ rhyme that we all enjoyed so much. The kids’ small efforts were inordinately rewarded, I have to say. Between them, from not more than 15 houses or so, they had earned in excess of 8 pounds. There were also many full-sized candy bars in their stash.


Here they are with some of their spoils.

It was sort of amusing to run into other trick-or-treaters. I did notice that there were no fairies, Elvises, clowns, etc. Everyone was dressed ghoulishly, which I suppose makes some historical sense. I mean, a Tinkerbell wasn’t likely to scare anyone into giving her anything. Since all these kids go to school together, they all wondered, quite loudly have to say, who the heck Nyssa and Joseph were. One surmised that they were those American homeschooled kids he met once at the park, but that was quickly dismissed by his friend. Hehe.

The trick-or-treaters to my house were more confusing than anything. I certainly wasn’t going to make them tell me a joke. The majority of them were teenagers, I noticed. Back home that tends to get dirty looks. At one point I opened the door to a dozen or so teenage boys with horror masks on, standing around with their hands in their pockets. I looked at them, they looked at me. I finally asked them if they might like some candy. Some shuffled forward, some refused, saying that they were good guisers. One asked if I wanted to hear a joke. “Go on then,” I said. His joke: What comes out of your nose at 250 mph? A Lamborgreenie. *sigh* Another kid offered one: Why do you look down the toilet? To see poo. “Wow, that’s crap. Get it?!!” I replied. He just looked confused. Teenagers, eh? Most of the rest were less awkward, and we actually managed to rid ourselves of a big colander full of treats. I was quite impressed, and more than that I know what to expect for next year. I also don’t need to worry myself over the fact that the kids have missed 4 years or so of trick-or-treating–if we stay in this country they’ll be able to go out guising until they leave for university, apparently. 😛

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!

Meet Classroom Assistant Mittens

October 27, 2008

The economic downturn has meant some tough choices. The parents’ minds are obviously too bogged down crunching budget numbers so the kids needed a math tutor. This is what we could afford:

He’s a thoroughgoing professional.


“Let’s have a look here at your sums..”


“You’re doing it wrong. I don’t see why you think it’s so funny.”


“Your numbers look appalling. Borrow my straightedge.”


“What. Did you or did you not hire me to be the ass-istant??”