Wednesday, 30 April 2014

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Talking: Interrogation Style


This is Thomas.  Thomas is 5.  Thomas is a well-practiced keeper of information.

Thomas never divulges any intelligence in the first instance.  This kid has supposedly been trained by top secret-keeping agents in the art of keeping any knowledge tight to his chest.

This works well instances such as birthday times and other such secret-keeping moments.  'Don't tell Dad I deleted his game, o.k?  We'll just say it was an accident.' and 'Don't tell Ethan about the felt-tipped pens - they are just for you and me' are potentially life-saving instances of secret-keeping goodness.  He won't tell you what your birthday present is, even if you bribe him with chocolate.

And I've tried.
  
Hard.

That's pretty impressive.

But, every damn day when I pick him up from school, I ask the same two questions.

  1. Did you have a nice day at school today?
  2. What did you do at school today? 
Now, invariably, the answer to question one is always a short, sharp, 'yes', followed by a mention of any stickers he got that day and the reason for said sticker.

Question two is my bastard nemesis.


The answer is always a very casual, very throwaway,

 'Can't remember'


It drives me crazy!

I have met the challenge head-on and come up with 5 ways of interrogating (without torture).  I'm not saying they work, but I'm developing new strategies all the time.  I have to - he's getting wise to my moves.  I hope they work for you.  I'm screwed when he hits them teenage years!

1. Bribery and Corruption



This very much depends on how nice you are feeling and how much you want to know.  Bribery ranges from 'tell me about your day over a hot chocolate at the cafe', to 'you only get to play your computer if you tell me what you did'.  Try not to turn it into a hellish power-struggle.  There's a fine line between looking for information and being a complete bastard to your child.  
Start with small plunder; football cards, a trip to the park, a chocolate bar.  Keep the larger items for times of real need.  Don't use this tactic all the time, or in Pavlovian-style, you'll have chocolate/treat in hand every time you need to know how he did on his spelling test. 

2. The Walk-Through

A slightly gentler, more friendly kind of  interrogation.  This is one to break out when you have slightly more time to wear down strong defences.
Start with THE DREADED QUESTION, wait for the DREADED ANSWER and work on it from there.  
I begin from the point I left him at.

'Right, so you went into line and then I saw you go in.  You waved at me, and then...'
*wait for answer*
'I dunno'
'O.K, so you walk into school, you put your coat on your peg and theeeeennn...?'
'Er, and then Miss Clark asks me to sit down'
'Riiiiight. And then you...?'
'I dunno'
'And then does she take the register?'
'What's a registrerer?'
'Never mind.  So you went in line, you walk into school, I waved to you, you hung up your coat and thennn...?'
'I put my bag in at my desk first, I didn't hang up my coat.  I had to get my water out of my bag.'
'And theeeen?'
'I dunno'
'So you went into line, you waved at me, you put your bag at your desk...'

You can see how this goes on.  I'm not going to lie, it's a long, painful, drawn out process, but if you carry on you get such nuggets of information like actual classroom activity, and  what he ate for lunch.

3. Sharing Information

Sometimes I go for the whole positivity approach.  I'll go in like the good cop I am and totally side-swipe him with a whole 'Guess what I did today?'
And he's nothing if not nosy so he'll say 'what?', more likely in anticipation that I've gone out and got him The Lego Movie Game for PS3 on a whim or bought him something crazy, like a quad bike or something totally ridiculous, because he's 5, and 5 year olds have amazing over-active imaginations and like to dream big (amen to that).

And then I'll just wade in with whatever hellish boring stuff I've done today, and make it sound ridiculously exciting and like I've had the best day ever (even though, in the main, I have done washing, cleaning and general fannying around on the internet) in an effort to get him to come back at me in the same manner.

Beware; this tactic is hit or miss.

Either he'll come back with 'whoah!  That's cool mum, I did this *list of stuff I've never even heard him mention before ever, let alone tell me about in his after-school speech*

Or

'That's nice.  Then what did you do?'

To which I reply, 'I dunno'.

4. Competition Making



I'm not gonna lie, when times get tough, having 2 boys I can pit against each other is great.  Two children are better than one, because in times of great need you can use one against the other.  I don't mean in a childhood destroying way folks - you should never do that.  I mean in a harmless, competitive way. (Note, I do not do this all the time.  I know the difference between harmful and harmless!)

I pull this move out of the bag when I have to get them both somewhere, i.e the car in the morning.

'Oh!  Who's gonna be the winner?  Who can get into the car first?  Who can get their belt on first?'
And it works.  Two children, ready to go somewhere in half the time it usually takes.

'Who can get into bed first?' is genius.

My personal favourite though is 'Who can find their shoe first?'

I can never find shoes in the morning - this has saved me all kinds of bother.

In the car, after everyone is picked up and ready to go home, I do the whole 'who wants to tell me about their day?' business.

And of course, both children want to compete with each other.

Total winner.



5. Dad

When all else fails, I just bide my time.  Like the information-extracting ninja I am.

Dad just has to walk in the bloody room.

Case in point: Tonight, I have tried all of my tricks, and a grumpy, tired Thomas is not playing. Instead, I wait.  Dave comes home and it's all,

'Hey, Dad!  I played Rugby today and I really loved it!'

Straight off the bat.

Frustrating as hell.

I've been on the other side of this and I know it would be the same for Dave if it was me just coming in, so I know there's no favouritism here, but it's no less annoying or soul-destroying.


I'll get you, boy!
 
 
 









Binky Linky

Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist Review

BzzAgent Genna reporting in for duty!

*Stands to attention!*

We were sent some Optrex Eye Revive Mist to review and thought we'd share the results with you all.

I'm not very photogenic (seriously it's all lighting and good make-up with me) but hubby is quite hot (*disclaimer - I might be quite biased here, but hell, I married him, so I'm gonna stand by my choices, right?), so here he is for your viewing pleasure.


Apologies for the child interruptions at the end (I'm surprised we got that far!) but you get the gist.

Overall, a good product, but slightly sticky.  Dave now reckons he would give it 4 stars, I would give it 3 (I didn't notice a huge difference, but then maybe my eyes weren't as bad as his).

I'm sticking it in my bag for future spritzing!



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

TMI - Too Much Information

I've been tagged to give TMI (Too Much Information) by The English Dad (his real name is Ryan!)....so...here goes!

1.What are you wearing?

Today I am in slummy regalia (no work today), so an old tatty grey jumper, an old over-sized top which I wore when I was pregnant over some probably too-see-through leggings which should have been chucked out months ago, but I'm still hanging onto because I'm too skint to buy any more really (I'm just not bending over).  I don't think it looks as bad as it sounds...

2.Ever been in love?

Many times during my teens and I am still madly in love now with my husband (spew, but it's true)

3. Ever had a terrible break up?

Not terrible, but is any break up ever easy?  (unless you are Phoebe from F.R.I.E.N.D.S)  Again, when I was young, and everything is always worse when you are full of teenage hormones.

4. How tall are you?

5ft 4inches high

5.How much do you weigh?

I don't actually know - we don't keep scales in the house.  I'd guess around 10stone.

6. Any tattoos?

No.  I would like one, but I've never seen anything that makes me want it on my skin forever.

7. Any piercings?

I've had my ears pierced twice and my poor wee now-wrinkled bellybutton when I was a washboard-flat-tummied tenager.  Those were the days!

8.OTP?

No idea what that means.  Ryan's answered this one with Football stuff, so i'm going to presume it's something about Football, of which I know nothing.

9. Favourite Show?

urrrrgggghhhhh...depends on my mood.  I love Archer.  Hilarious.  But Frasier was pretty perfect.  Or Still Game for the super-funny.

10. Favourite bands?

Again, mood dependent, but i would say The Killers, Muse and old skool Blink 182.

11. Something you miss?

A lot of my friends have moved away to other cities and countries - I miss my friends a lot sometimes.  There's nothing like old banter with old buddies to right your place in the world.  Oh and my washboard stomach!

12. Favourite Song

Just now it's Runaways - The Killers

13. How old are you?

29 years young

14. Zodiac sign?

Scorpio - watch out!  I definitely carry a lot of Scorpio's traits!

15. Quality you look for in a partner?

Honesty, trustworthy, kind and considerate to others.

16. Favourite quote?

If you want your kids to be intelligent, let them read fairytales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, let them read more fairytales (Einstein)

17. Favourite Actor?

Patrick Stewart

18. Favourite colour?

I can't really pick one.  I always say red, but this might not be true one day to the next!

19. Loud or soft music?

LOUD!  As loud as I can!

20. Where do you go when you are sad?

Usually the beach or the rock gardens near our house.  Somewhere very quiet where I can't hear human noise if I can.

21. How long does it take you to shower?

Depends - if I'm going anywhere where i have to look especially nice, about 15 mins.  If it's just the usual day-to-day then less than 5!  I can whizz through it all quite quickly, like a pro!

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

Just me?  Em, about ten mins tops.  I'm a basic needs kinda gal.  However, it's never just me - getting 2 crazy kids, and an elderly dog out of the door takes ages, and a lot of prep time included!

23.Ever been in a physical fight?

Not unless you count with my sister when we were younger.  I used to kick her butt! Came close once when someone headbutted a friend outside a nightclub, but other than that, nope.

24. Turn on?

Nice arms, nice teeth, honesty, someone who can have a laugh and isn't afraid to take control, but knows when to step back, a bit of stubble, someone who digs small acts of physical contact - wee hugs, brush of the arm, hair ruffles etc. Kindness and compassion. Intelligence.

25. Turn off?

Male chauvinism, tight trousers on guys, trying to be too cool, fake tan, guys who are up their own arses, bad teeth, bitten fingernails, guys who are up their own arses, showing a lack of empathy or intelligence towards others.

26.The reason I started blogging?

I love to write.  I've always written and never been confident enough to do it before, so this is me, laying myself bare!

27. Fear?

Wasps.  I'm not scared of much, but wasps...boak!

28.Last thing that made you cry?

Honestly?  We watched Disney's Tarzan today and that bit where he chooses Jane over his gorilla mother had me.  She looked so sad.  I guess it just hit home that boys always leave home.  Girls not so much, but boys always leave their mothers, in a way.

29.  Last time that you said you loved someone?

Er, about 5 mins ago to my son.  We try to say it a lot in our house.  It's an important requisite of living here.  It's always sincere, and always returned.

30. Meaning behind your blog name?

Blethering is the Scottish word for someone who talks too much and my boys never stop talking!  Havering skites, the pair of them!

31. Last book you read?

Love, and other dangerous pursuits by Ayelet Waldman.  Not my usual choice of genre, a bit chick lit for me really, but I indulged it and read it all the way through, so I must have enjoyed it.  Like a goth secretly loves The Spice Girls.

32. The book you are currently reading?

I always have a few on the go, mainly because when i'm putting books away in the library, I can't resist.  We Are Water by Wally Lamb, Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding and Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore are all currently being read, but they are slow reads at the moment due to the fact that I never want to finish a Wally lamb book (too awesome), I'm struggling with the latest Bridget installment (I think I'm too young to enjoy it properly, but i read the others and loved them, so feel an obligation to finish, eventually), and I'm never sat down for more than 5 minutes at the moment!

33. Last person you talked to?

Dave on the phone.  He's been in Edinburgh on a training course today, and has to go back again tomorrow.  It's a long two days.

34. Last show you watched?

Still Game last night before bed.  Always like a laugh before going to sleep.

35.  The relationship between you and the last person you text?

An old friend - one of those people who, it doesn't matter how long it's been you can pick up where you left off.

36. Favourite food?

Oh god. Cheese.  Cheddar cheese.  Preferably smooth and strong.  Grated and cold.  I am a bit of a cheddar lover.  It's actually going to be the death of me.

37. Place you want to visit?

Pompeii if we're going all cultural.  I'm a bit morbid and just want to see all the dead folks' body casts.  If we are really talking though, I'm going to say Florida - I am a huge Theme Park geek and just want to go to Universal Studios and Disney in Florida so badly!  Also, a Six Flags if I have the time.

38. Last place you were?

I just took the kids to The Blue Seaway Park in Monifieth after school, because I am the rockin' est mum ever.  Tom even shouted 'this is the best day ever!' and made me feel like a total bastard who deprives her kids of parks so much that they both act like they have never seen rubber safety mats in their lives.  He was at a park on Sunday, fyi!

39. Do you have a crush?

Mmm...not a real life one, unless you count Dave, which you can't because we are married and that's really pukey, isn't it?

Other than that, Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling and Hugh Jackman...*droooooooool*

40. Last time you kissed someone?

Oooh, last night before I went to sleep.  I have a disgustingly happy marriage and it's getting embarrassing...

41. Last time you were insulted

Last week.
It's cool, I'm a cool customer.

42.What instruments do you play?

Sadly, none.  I used to play the violin quite well, the trumpet quite badly and the cornet o.k.  Now all i can do is sing very well - my body is my instrument, lol

43. Favourite flavour of sweets?

Red or purple.

44. Favourite piece of jewellery?

My heart necklace that Dave bought me for my 19th birthday.  Such a nice gift and one I really treasure.

45. Last sport you played?

Battlefield laser tag.  Is that a sport?  Anyway, turns out I'm a good shot.

46. Last song you sang?

Come on Eileen - it was on the radio.

47. Favourite chat up line?

Errr...it's been a while since I heard one of those.  And even then, it was usually leery old men in the pub while I was working.

'How you doin?'

48. Have you ever used it?

Aye, to anyone who'll listen.  What?  Joey is a classy man!

49. Last time you hung out with anyone?

Ummm...a few months ago we all went to the pub and got drunk.  It was awesome.  Old friends are the best friends.

50. Who should answer these next?

I nominate Kate http://craftsonsea.co.uk/ , Jetta http://www.mischievousmum.blogspot.co.uk/ and Laura http://lifelovelaura.com/ and Jac at http://www.tinnedtomatoes.com/

Monday, 28 April 2014

Date Night


My husband and I have been married now for 5 years and together for nearly 11.

We've known each other since we were about 13, and pretty much grew up together.

Our relationship is a very deep and special one - we are very lucky.  But like all couples, we still need some special time alone to catch up and re-invigorate.

We might spend a lot of time together day-to-day; we are very lucky in that neither of us works away and both of us spend a lot of time with our kids...but that's the thing.  Spending time with the kids as a family and spending time as US are two very different things.

It is possible, as I have discovered, to really miss your husband when you get caught up in the mundane everyday, and although we spend a concerted amount of time as a family, we never really spend time gazing into each other's eyes over candlelight.  Which is important.  Candlelight is very flattering.

Hence, I poked and prodded him, and bribed my mother with the promise of dinner if she would babysit for us, and lo and behold!  He took me out!

As our lives are both quite hectic, we ended up doing what we usually do when presented with a night to ourselves; we winged it like a bastard.

Me: 'What do you wanna do tonight then? (hopeful gleam in my eyes.  I'm imagining a meal, the theatre and getting very drunk on champagne.  It's been a wee while since we went out)

Him: 'Err, I dunno.  Fancy the cinema or something?'

Me:'Err...(getting annoyed because this means I have to drive and if I have to drive there's no champagne. Or meal)...yeah, sounds good'

Him: 'Are you getting ready then?'

Me: Yeah!  In a minute!

Three hours later.  Dinner is over.  Kids are still running riot.  I'm still in work clothes, hair mussed from where Ethan has had me pretending I'm a scary monster by wrapping my head in my scarf and I've wrestled him off)

Him: 'Errr, suppose we'd better go soon then?'

We never go out.  We certainly don't go out often enough.

We are not used to this.


Dave took the initiative in the end and we plumped for the fabulous Hardeep Singh Kohli, who was doing a gig at our local theatre.  

Hardeep is a Scottish, Sikh comedian, and one we have seen a couple of times before.  The last gig of his was Chat Masala, a show where Hardeep cooked while being very funny (I'm sure this was after he'd won Celebrity Masterchef).

And last time, being one of the only vegetarians in the audience, I scored a bowl of his delicious vegetable daal.  I was certainly keen to see him again - even if there was no daal this time (which by the way was the most delicious daal I've ever had!)

I love Hardeep - he always comes across as warm and honest, and his comical stories about growing up in a Sikh household in Glasgow are very funny indeed.  

People from Glasgow always have that kind of edge to them that only comes from having to grow up and survive in such a schizophrenic place, and 'weegie' comedians in particular always have a place in my heart. Dave's family are from Glasgow and so are half of mine, so I think we can both relate to a 'tough but fair' Scottish childhood, which is best observed with a comedic air.

I think we can safely say he's on our level.

So when we bought the tickets at the desk, having made our last-minute decision, we were delighted to find that the topic of his tour focuses on Love.



Comically entitled, 'Hardeep is Your Love', we had a great laugh at Hardeep's tales of love lost and found, stories of sexual encounters and the very intimate audience, which allowed for a few belly laughs.  A man in the front row (Dave - not our Dave though!) was picked on and dug himself a wee pit of despair as he pretty much outed himself as a bit of a ladies' man.  Another,  a poor 17-year-old-girl, Rebecca, was harangued throughout the show and embarrassed wholly in front of her parents who sat either side of her. Poor girl.  Wrong show for her!

All in all, it was a great show.  Thankfully, we did not get picked on, although I would have loved to have challenged Hardeep's claims that he knew how long folk had been together for based on their body language.  People never believe that Dave or I are as old as we are and are usually almost disbelieving when we say how long we have been together.  We like to shock. 

We certainly are hoping to catch Hardeep again in the future.

Afterwards, we traveled home, although it was still slightly early.

We live across the road from a wee pub called The Milton Inn though, and so I parked the car around the side and we headed in for drinks.  It was the first time that we'd been in since we moved to the area and we were pleasantly surprised by the table service and warm atmosphere.  It's nice to know that date night could just happen straight across the road if needs be!

We put the world to rights, hashed out old wrongs and spoke about what we wanted for the future.  It was great just to reconnect a bit.  Just what we needed.  There was no meal, no champagne.  Just a couple of beers too many, a wee candle (see, I got my candle!), a lot of laughs and some proper talk.  Which is all we need after all this time.  We left the inn, hand in hand, a wee bit tipsy and very happy.

And we always say this, but now it's in writing in public:

We should do this more often.



Sunday, 27 April 2014

What's the measure of you?


Sir Cheekyface, ready for school

Yesterday, while driving Tom to school, I drove past a wood pigeon lying in a side-road, wing up, looking as if it had just been hit by a car.

I only saw it briefly, and was driving at speed, with not much time, so instead of stopping, I carried on.  My internal monologue was going nineteen-to-the-dozen.

Should I have stopped?  What if another car turns into that road and kills it?  It looked dazed, but not too hurt - should I have stopped and moved it?  I have to get Tom to school. We're already running late.  Maybe I'll stop on the way back.  That's what I'll do.  I'll stop on the way back and help it.  It's not good to try and help it with Tom here anyway - what if it died?  He'd be late for school.  I'll go back.

I took Tom to school and we got there just as the bell rang.  He ran off into the distance, his Iron Man bag wobbling on his back, and I breathed a sigh of relief - phew!  We'd made it!

Straight away though, my mind went back to the wood pigeon.  It was on my conscience now.  I'd seen it.  I should do something about it.  If I didn't I would be thinking about it for the rest of the day.

What would I do with it though?  I always like the thought of helping an injured animal, but the reality is so much harder.  What can I really do for it?  The SSPCA would most likely put it down or not even give me the time of day.  But they are birds that mate for life - I've seen widowed wood pigeons before, it's the saddest thing ever.  I can't just pick it up and take it away from it's environment.  It's partner might not find it again!

It was a horrible, rainy day.  I had a friend coming over in an hour.  I had no real idea what to do with an injured animal - let alone feed it, care for it etc.  But I felt that because I had seen it, I had to help.

The next part of my internal monologue shames me.

You don't have to go back.  You could just drive the other way.  You'd never see it again and it wouldn't be your problem.  It's probably mashed into the road by now anyway - do you really want to see that?  You don't have time.  You don't have the knowledge or the information - just leave it.

For a millisecond I really did think about walking away.  Life would be so much easier.  And also - that's natural selection, right?  If it was that pigeon's time, it was his time.  Who was I to interfere with nature?



Now, others may argue, it's just a pigeon.  There's nothing I could have done.

But I also am a firm believer in measuring your worth by your actions.

  • Are you nice to the waiter at your table?   Do you consider he is just like you?  Do you think about the fact that he might be the smartest guy you ever met, that circumstance has dictated his life, that he is funny, talented and likes the same music as you do?  Or do you just give your orders and ignore him?  Of course, no-one is saying that you have to make friends with the guy, or even speak more than three sentences to him if you don't want to, but the way you are, your demeanor, the way you think of people is often channeled unconsciously through body language and others pick up on it.  Your thoughts betray you unwittingly.
  • Do you hold the door open for others, or are you too busy, too caught up in your day?

  • Do you smile at the old lady in the street or bow your head when she tries to say hello, even though a brief thought enters your mind that you might be the only human contact she has all day?

  • Do you listen when others talk or are you too busy with your own agenda?

  • Do you have the courage of your convictions?  It's one thing to think noble thoughts, or to prove a point to yourself in your head - to give yourself a reason why you aren't doing the right thing.  But, do you carry these out in real life?  Are you able to then carry out what you believe to be right in front of an audience?


Walking away from the pigeon wouldn't have been just ignoring the plight of an arguably, lesser being - it would have been some kind of statement to myself.  I wasn't accountable to anybody except myself for my actions.  I had ample reason to walk away...

... but I couldn't do it.

Like the character Snow White in the T.V programme Once Upon A Time who takes her revenge on her Wicked Stepmother for all the wrongs done to her by carrying out a curse which ensured The Evil Queen killed her own mother by magical trickery, I would have blackened my heart in a way which is irreversible.  

My actions would have opened a door to a road that I might have gone down again and again and again, until it became wide and well-travelled. 

Who knows where that path might have ended up?

By letting badness in, maybe I would have encouraged more of the same.  Perhaps, in this small, seemingly insignificant act, might have changed myself and my own moral compass forever?

I went back to see the pigeon.  He was there, cosied up with his mate, unhurt, strutting the streets, looking disheveled, but otherwise fine.  The relief I felt was huge - I didn't have to do anything, and an added bonus was that I now knew that despite the fact that I wasn't needed, I had acted within my own moral bindings and kept that intact.  Instead of feeling grimy and guilty or annoyed that I'd gone out my way and that I'd wasted my time, I felt happy and I felt like Karma had given me a high-five.

I was so very glad I went back.  So very glad I had encountered this small challenge to myself.

Only you know what goes on inside your own head.  You know what is right and wrong. And I really do believe that everyone is battling these tiny little moral dilemmas very single day.  Whether you believe it or not.



The little things really add up.

The little things are the measure of you.








Friday, 25 April 2014

That time my sister threw a dart into my arm, and other childhood injuries

My sister and I are very close.  We are quite alike, actually.  And when you have two people who are very close and are very alike, they tend to rub each other up the wrong way.  A little.

If you've read the stories on The day my sister was humped by a dog, and other childhood accidents , you'll understand how clumsy she was as a child, thus, granted, a lot of these things were just accidents.  Kinda.


Me and my sister - looking swish!


1.  The time my sister impaled my arm

We have an auntie and uncle who are rather posh-like, and they used to live in a fancy village in the south of England.  And we were posh enough (just) to get to go and stay there for our holidays a couple of times when we were small.

I don't think my auntie and uncle are that posh actually, but owning a yacht and having a bar in your house is quite posh when you are a nine-year-old girl who thinks that The Spice Girls are classy ladies (What?  They had Posh Spice!  She is still very Posh, I'll have you know) and that Nike Air Max with the pump-up tongue and soles are the height of sophistication.  And no, I never owned any, sadly.  (small violin playing in the distance)

And when you own a yacht, you tend to hang out at a sailing club.  Now come on, that is posh.

Anyway, while the adults all got a nice drink at the bar, and my sister and I had been highly discouraged from playing near the harbour, playing near the boats, playing near the bar, and basically just told to 'sit on our arses' drinking draught lemonade, we finally got the go-ahead to play the only game which is remotely appropriate in a yacht club.

Darts.

Thinking back on it, the adults must have been pretty desperate for some child-free time, that they were willing to let a nine-year-old and a seven-year-old throw sharp objects in a crowded bar at a posh yacht club.

Maybe it wasn't as posh as I'm remembering it to be.

Anyway - yes, you can imagine the outcome.  We were doing quite well actually.  We both managed to hit the board successfully (me more than my sister - I was taller, or so she said) and hadn't lobbed them at any of the poor unsuspecting men who were nursing G&T's in comfy side-booths.  J had a couple of tellings-off for throwing backwards a couple of times.  I'd had a telling off for throwing too high and hitting the wall.

Now, we were only allowed one set of darts between us, so we had to share.  We were thus having three goes each and then the next player would collect the darts from the board and play her shot.

I was slightly over-zealous in my quest to retrieve my darts.  J lobbed one.  She lobbed number two.  And I stepped forward.

She lobbed number 3.

It landed in my arm.

We both just stood and looked at it, as it dangled from the flesh, the plastic 'feathers' drooping towards the floor.

J burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

So did I.

As I laughed, it wiggled.  I laughed even more.

Eventually I pulled the dart out.  No blood - just a wee hole where it had been.

That was the end of darts.  We sat on our arses and drank lemonade.

2. The time my sister bit me
Disclaimer: I may or may not have had to adjust this photo a lot to highlight my scar.

 This is an argument that has perpetuated through time until this very day,and will not end until we are both dead.  Because if one of us is still alive, she will still claim that she was in the right.  Actually, I'm going to train my kids to argue my case after I'm dead.  And hope she doesn't have kids (it's o.k, she's doesn't want kids).  She might argue her cat is clever, but he's not that clever.

J cannot deny that she bit me - I still have the scar to prove it.  What we quibble over is the turn in events.

She claims I spat toothpaste in her face.  I claim she was trying to pee in the bath.  Either way, she bit me, I have the scar.  She was bad, I was good, that's all you need to know.

3. The time I was mean to my sister

O.K, she'll argue that this happened more than once, but hey, whose blog post is this?

We lived in a fairly safe neighbourhood, mainly surrounded by the elderly and families, and the scheme of houses was one in which there were lots of green spaces for us kids to roam about.

And roam we did.

We formed a gang with the other kids in the area.  We called it 'the wall gang'. (original, eh?) because we hung around at a half-foot wall at the bottom of a set of garages.

And we hung around sometimes in a place called 'The Sheddies'

Have you any clue as to why it's called that?  Any at all?  It's o.k - you'll get there.

Anyway, The Sheddies consisted of a large bit of green grass, with hills, a huge tree that was good for climbing, and yep, you guessed it - three large wooden sheds, or actually, more accurately, garages.

We never did see anyone use those sheds.  Most likely, someone did own them and kept a load of crap in them, but even more likely, they were derelict and forgotten.

Which just fed our childish imaginations something rotten.

Rumour swept round our gang about the one-eyed man who lived in one of the sheds.  He was naked.  And only had one eye.  And was angry.  But he never came out of that shed.

One bored day, running around the Sheddies, it started to rain, so we all headed to the huge tree and took shelter underneath.

It was kind of dark and foggy, so we started to tell creepy stories to each other, and before long, my best friend's little brother brought up the story of One-Eyed Eddie, the man in the shed.

Being eight and completely off our heads, we then started to dare each other to look through the keyhole of One-Eyed Eddie's shed.

Giggling, and pushing and shoving each other, we all held our breath as the first boy took a look.  He screamed and jumped back.

'He's horrible!' he shouted.

Someone else looked, and then someone else, all pushing each other and shoving each other in fear and childish giddiness.

I took my look, briefly saw which may or may not have been a pile of dusty rags in the corner - although I swore it was a cowering, angry, naked, one-eyed man waving his fist at me.

Shoving my sister in front of me, I shouted at her,

'Go on, have a look!  Or are you too scared?'

Don't look so shocked.  I was eight and eight-year-old's are mean.

Six year old J, looked very scared.  She was the youngest in our wee gang, and often tried to keep up with us all - but even I knew this was a step too far for her.  She'd have nightmares for weeks.

She leaned into the keyhole, trembling.

I held her shoulders tight and breathing in her ear, I whispered, in a deep dark voice;

'He's coming to get you.  He can SEEEEEEEE you!'

She ran the fastest I'd ever seen her run.

And yes, she did have nightmares.  And yes, I did get into trouble.

And yes, I did really kind of believe in One-Eyed Eddie for a long time after that.

4. The time I nearly burned my eye off


The eye survived.  Just about.
When I get a cold, I get quite deaf.  When I get a head-cold I get really deaf - you know the kind of cold where you are so gunked up that you can barely see?

That's how bad I felt this one time, when I was about sixteen.

After trying the usual fail-safe remedies - Lemsip, hot bath, head covered with a towel over a bowl, menthol vapour rub, my mum had had enough of my whining and griping and basically, having to shout at me everytime she wanted to talk to me, so she'd been to the chemist for the last thing she could think of; Menthol Crystals.

She presented them to me in their little white tub and suggested that I take a hot bath with some in, or just fill the sink with hot water, put them in and breathe.  I tried both of these and nothing worked - they just weren't strong enough.

Stumbling morosely through to the living-room after yet another failed attempt at clearing my head, I took the lid off the Menthol Crystal jar and shoogled the contents so that they released some fragrance.  I could barely smell it, but oddly enough, the Menthol was so powerful in it's undiluted form, that I could feel the cool waves on my skin.

Leaning forward, I put my nose closer - it was so cool that it hurt my nose a little.  Pulling back, I messed around with it a bit more.

Cool, not cool, cool, not cool, cool, ouch too close, not cool, cool...

I could feel my eyes clearing, my head become less stuffy.  I should have tried this first instead of messing around with towels over my head!

For some stupid, inexplicable reason, I decided that i would like to feel the coolness on my eye.  Don't ask, I don't know.

Why anyone would put something so potent close to one of the finer and most delicate parts of their body, is beyond my comprehension, but anyway, I did it.

Just as I went to lean in with my eyeball, keeping what I thought was a relatively safe distance, I sneezed.

Menthol crystals in my eye.

Oh the burning, burning, hell.

My mum and sister, who were in the room at this point in time didn't have a clue what had happened.  I was dancing around, screaming at my burning eyeball and trying to work out through the excruciating pain what to do ( it felt like it was melting away!) and they both glanced up from what they were doing and just sat there, comically perplexed as I danced around the room, wet hair, shouting something about trying to smell menthol crystals with my eye.

I ran through to the bathroom and ran my eye under the tap.  I'll leave you to work out the physical logistics of that, but yes, when you are in that much pain, anything is possible.

When I came back through, expecting sympathy, possibly a loving trip to A&E to check i was o.k and hadn't done any permanent damage to the optic nerve, possibly just a thorough inspection and some sympathy, they both just burst out laughing and asked what the hell I was doing.

Perplexed, I shouted at them; 'I just got menthol crystal IN MY EYE!'

'How did you manage that?'

And I just looked sheepishly at the floor and said,

 'I was trying to, well, sniff it. With my eye...'

Which is the line my sister uses eternally now to slag me off...

She's right though; who does that?
























Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What's Your Tasty Recipe For A Perfect Morning?


How do you start your day?  I love a good infographic - they are great for working out what's important and where you sit in life, and this one from Jordans about Breakfast and Mornings certainly made me think!

What Fuels Us For the Day Ahead?

Home-made bread always gets turned into toast in the mornings!
In our house, we've been doing a lot of juicing lately (see our Juice Diary post) and feeling great for it.  We've been doing this because, well, our eating habits haven't been great as of late, and Dave and I have been lacking in fruit and veg, plus Dave never eats breakfast, which bothers me - I can't go without something first thing, and always make the kids eat something.  It's always hectic in the mornings, so anything is a bonus.

What's Our Typical Breakfast?  What's Most Important When Choosing Breakfast?

Before re-assessing my diet, I couldn't go without caffeine, usually in the form of tea or a can of something fizzy and caffeinated (bad girl!)  But I'm happy to say that Dave and I now settle on a peppermint tea or glass of water before a nice breakfast juice.  The boys love cereal though - and although Thomas is keen on new things, Ethan, not so much.  He is stuck in the chocolate cereal groove that I wish we had never started him on, and I regret it wholly!  It's so sugary and unhealthy and such a bad start, so we're getting him onto pancakes and yoghurt.  Only slightly better!  Toast always goes down well though - especially when it's home-made bread!

Which Celebrity Would I Most Like To Be Served Breakfast By?

Oh now! Err, Hugh Jackman...no...Ryan Gosling...I can't choose.  Both?

 
Yeah, both.  What? It's my fantasy!  I can have both.

How Does My Morning Sound?

Honestly, I usually spend most of my time saying things like 'Hurry up guys' or 'Have you washed your face?' and panicking about things like play-pieces and school photograph forms.  So, realistically, maybe the Benny Hill theme tune would be appropriate.

Otherwise, I'm going with one of three things here:
  1. Frozen soundtrack (Ethan's request, both boys sing, I join in)
  2. Everybody Wants to be a Cat from  Disney's Aristocats.  On Repeat. (Ethan's request, everybody sings)
  3. Let's Get Ready To Rhumble by Ant and Dec. On Repeat. (Tom's request.  He learned it at school.  now Ethan and him shout 'Psyche!' at each other all the time.)
It's a relief when they finally get out of the car.

What Helps Us Get Off To A Good Start?

Honestly - breakfast.  It really does set us all up for the rest of the day.  Without breakfast we all lag behind for the rest of the day!  Oh, and time to have breakfast.  Very important indeed.  a sunny day helps with mood!

What Does The Cost Of A Good Morning Add Up To?

Bed-hogger!

In this house, the cost of a good morning is priceless.  A lie-in (read: any time after 6.30 a.m!) is nice, and we are all a lot happier when well-rested and well-fed; but then who isn't?  I don't know what I'd pay for a lie in - but certainly more than I have in the bank!  I'm sure Dave would pay more!  Our perfect morning is one where we can chill out and do what we like to do.

Check out https://www.jordanscereals.co.uk/ for more info on how to make your mornings better and have a look at some delicious recipes to get your day off to a positive start!  I can't promise they are going to send you Hugh Jackman or Ryan Gosling though!







**Disclosure: I wrote this post on behalf of Jordans.  I was not required to write a positive review, and any opinions expressed are my own











Tuesday, 22 April 2014

To everyone that is approaching a birthday...any birthday.



Argh!  Where'd the time go?

I turn 30 years old this year.

30!

How?

Last time I looked, I was celebrating my 21st, dressed in a black tutu, drunk on Stella, white wine, Bailey's and Morgan's, while morosely pontificating about how my next massive birthday celebration was years away.

What happened?

BOOM!

2 kids, a marriage, more house moves than I can count on one hand, 6 new jobs, post-natal depression, amazing holidays, new friends, old friends, singing in a band, new crafts, amazing job, being an auntie, weddings, babies everywhere, degree courses, life, life, life...

It's like someone hit fast-forward.

Now I'm left wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do to ear-mark this coming of age.  After all, my next big celebration is 40.

Only ten years away.

But; Ten Whole Years Away.

I'm sure I'll be looking back in ten years feeling exactly the same as I do now.

What should I do though?  Am I supposed to make a 'bucket-list'?  Do I go on a crazy holiday?  Do I accept age gracefully and have a nice quiet meal? (that's so. not. me.)  Do I hold a huge party?  Would anyone show up to a party for me?  That's the fear, isn't it?

An age like this is where we take stock, assess our lives.  What if nobody showed up?  What would I glean from that? It would probably destroy my confidence for the next 10 years.  No 40th party then!

As I'm one of the youngest ones in my year, I'll be watching my peers slip into their 30's, watching how they approach it, looking for assurance, hoping they all find what they are looking for in a righteous 30th celebration.

I know I'm going to really go for it - you are either with me or against me, and if you're with me, well, you are in for a helluva night.



There's something very nice and confident about getting older - I don't give two fuzz-buckets what anyone thinks of me.  And yes, I will probably wear an outlandish outfit, be drinking tequila and singing anything you'll let me if I get my hands on a microphone.

One thing that is very obvious to me now, is that life is very, very short.

I once worked with a guy who lost a good friend in his 40th year in an horrific accident, in the year that he and his group of friends all turned 40; that guy never got to celebrate his own 40th with the rest of them.  My colleague told me that no matter his age, he now always made a huge deal out of his and everyone around him's birthdays, because as he so rightly said, you never know when it might be your last - nobody can guess the future.  If you have a birthday, it means only one thing - you're still here to enjoy it.

His advice to anyone approaching 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100,110?  31, 32, 33, 45, 28, 63, 55? Any damn age?

Don't do it quietly.  Be loud.  Enjoy it.  You are lucky to be here.


I will be, whatever I end up settling on as a celebration.

Oh and watch this video.  It can never hurt to bone up on a little life advice from Baz.  I always forget how relevant it is.  Very grounding in times like these.  I think it should be prescribed. 








Monday, 21 April 2014

We're off to Neverland! The Lost Boys' Day Out

A couple of weekends ago, we took a Sunday trip to somewhere we used to go when I was but a wee lassie; The Den in Kirriemuir.
The entrance to the Den - under a road!
Lots of bridges for Pooh sticks of course




 It's a gorgeous, sprawling stretch of park, which must be ancient.  Lined by a fast-flowing river that starts at the most beautiful waterfall, and surrounded by trees and acres of grass and wild flowers, the Den has a perfectly-sized little park in the middle.  It's quite old-hat now I imagine, what with the new and fancy Peter Pan play-park at the other end of Kirriemuir Hill, but in my mind, you can't beat this place.

A climbing frame that doesn't give me 'the fear'
Right-sized play-equipment that doesn't give me 'the fear'
The paddling pool - definitely coming back in the summer!


Picnic Time!
It even has a paddling pool that's filled in the summer, and tons of space for the perfect picnic.  After you've exhausted the playground facilities, there's a lovely short walk into the woods to the aforementioned waterfall, and back towards the car park again - perfect for little feet.  Quite long, but not too far and lots to distract. Brilliant!


Tom and I on our walk after the play-park

Gorgeous crocus display - they are everywhere in The Den
One of the many bridges over the river

A gorgeous walk up the stone steps to the waterfall

The waterfall view from the bridge

Today we had also come to see the new Peter Pan park.  Built in 2010, we'd never been.  In fact, we hadn't heard of it until recently, and what with Ethan's new Peter Pan obsession, we just had  to go!  What kind of parent would I be if I withheld that kind of information?

O.K, so we only got slightly lost.

We knew where the cemetery was, and that it bordered the cemetery.  But what actually happened is that in our frustrations we ended up in the cemetery.  But, serendipitously, we happened upon the man himself's grave.  The Peter Pan of Kirriemuir - the town's whole raison-de-etre: Mr James Matthew Barrie himself, creator of Peter Pan.


I have a special interest in Mr. Barrie's works, and if you have time, please spend it having a look at his birthplace, which is in Kirriemuir, just a street away from his headstone.  We've been once, when Tom was little, and it was great.  It's a National Trust site now and houses a lot of important information about one of Scotland's favourite sons. We will certainly be factoring in another visit soon.



'Arrr!'
Once we'd figured out where we were (at the back of the park) we managed to find our way to the top of Kirriemuir Hill and to Neverland.  And what an awesome sight it is.

We're off to Neverland!
What a splendid park.  A proper adventure for children, with imagination grabbers all over the place, all pretty much carved from wood.  It was beautiful and I can think of no better homage to Mr. Barrie and his timeless creation, than this marvelous play-park that feeds children's imaginations.



Peter, watching the magic from on-high


Ethan finally finishing his feud with Hook!
Escaping the ship on the slide!
At the helm
Watch out for tick-tock crocs!
Try not to get carried away though...
Escaping from Pirates!
It was a very windy day, and on the top of a hill means very little shelter, but we still had an ace time.  The kids can't wait to go back.  It's not too far from us either - I can forsee many happy memories being made her (as long as we go to The Den first!)




The Den at Kirriemuir was somewhere my sister and I would be taken to as children with my Nana and Grandad.  On the way home, he would always point out The Soldier On The Hill - a memorial to The Black Watch.  My Grandad served in The Black Watch in WW2, so I suppose it was quite poignant for him.  In a nod to him, we stopped on the way home to pay our respects - to all the lost men and boys, and my Grandad too; a lost boy himself, really.

It was quite moving to see my son pay his respects with his daddy, safe in the knowledge that neither of them would have to go through what my Grandad did.  In a way, he did it for us.  I made sure to explain to Tom as best I could about war and soldiers and WW2. He was very solemn.  He has a really good heart, that kid.

We left in the spirit we set out - adventure in our heart and happiness in our souls.
What a view!




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