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When you are: December 2008

25 December 2008

Merry third Christmas

It's our third family Christmas! So we should be old hat at this by now, right?


It hasn't been a disaster on the Eastender's Queen Vic scale, but a mini-disaster nonetheless.

The little lad has had a great day so far. He's currently asleep after a hard morning of present opening. He needed absolutely no encouragement this morning when he saw the huge pile Santa left last night. He even helped pass presents over to his Mummy, Granny and Grandpa too. Although "passing" became a bit too much of a chore and quickly turned into "throwing". Not good for the Ming Vase that Granny got.

We have gone a little on the conservative side for food this year. We always get our meat from M&S, after gradually reducing it from a wholesale shop to meat only over the years. Only this year that's gone too. The near £50 bird was on in Aldi for £13 - same prep and stuffing, just frozen. As it turns out that's the best decision we've made.

Why? Because on Monday night our fridge freezer packed in. Fridge was warm, freezer was defrosting quite nicely by the time we spotted it on Tuesday night. EVERYTHING out. Except the food in the freezer in the garage, which included the Aldi bird. Had we got the meat from M&S that would have been out too. So no only did we save £37, we saved buying another bird too! OK, there have been some hairy scary moments not finding sausagemeat until the last minute, but then a disaster on this scale wouldn't be without its problems.

With plenty of cool bags, ice blocks, the very kind use of our neighbour's garage fridge, and our beer fridge, we've managed quite well. And with the economy going the way it is, we may going into Comet and offer them half the asking price of a new American style fridge freezer. If ours is going to cost too much to repair, then we may as well!

Our frozen bird left the freezer last night at teatime, overnight in a cool room - sorted. Only it was too icy for lunch, so we've moved lunch to dinner. No disaster, but MOTS did point out the irony of it:

Our freezer broke down and our turkey is still frozen

Merry Christmas!

19 December 2008

Terror Monday

There's something fundamentally wrong starting a post off entitled "Terror Monday" when it's Friday.

So what is it?


Ahh! The spelling. Terramundi!

So at this point in time there should be one person who is now cringing. We'll start off with a true story about a chap who we'll call "Gonzo" ('cos he's a muppet too) and his experience of a terramundi. Then we'll go onto ours. I only want to make Gonzo's wife (who we'll call, errm "Mother Theresa" - 'cos she has to care for the sick and lame to be married to Gonzo) chuckle at the memory. Unless it's still too painful, in which case I'll get a good kicking for this one.

Many, many moons ago, Gonzo had gone out on the beer. As usual, there was some home-time drama. Had he forgotten his keys? Had he forgotten to keep enough cash to pay the taxi? Had he forgotten where he lived? Had he forgotten he was meant to stay at his folks rather than go home? Had he forgotten his wife, leaving her in the pub? I swear, ALL real events, that last one was an absolute beauty.

Whichever it was, our intrepid reveller didn't have cash to pay the taxi driver. So after he got into the house, the only source of cash he could find was Mother Theresa's terramundi. Now these are not your average money box, they need to be broken to get the cash out. Taxi driver, Mother Theresa - who will give me most grief? Correct, ---SMASH--- goes the fired clay all over the lounge floor. Scramble goes Gonzo to rumage in the dust for enough to pay the taxi.

Not only did he smash it to bits but Gonzo also left the mess of her terramundi for Mother Theresa to clean up. Now that's just not cricket, is it? Ungentlemanly conduct, umpire.

So when Gonzo and Mother Theresa bought us a terramundi for Christmas the same year I had bought MOTS one, we decided to use them as a sort of race. I remember her wish, she remembers mine, and we set about saving. Nothing regular, just when we had coins, as we passed them, drop "chink", another £1 coin in mine, another £2 coin in MOTS'.

I need to start saving £50 notes, dear.
And so for almost 3 years the race has been on. And now, the end is near, and as I raise, the flattened hammer. That must have been something going through Mother Theresa's mind when she found hers smashed - raising a flattened hammer to Gonzo's head. Mind you, he would never have felt it!

And so the counting began.

Initial estimates before smashing:
OK for £500, delighted with £600, over the moon with £700. Same applied for each vessel, so we were hoping between us to have in the region of a grand upwards.

From the off it was clear the £2 coin was the champion. With less wasted space between coins it was obvious, really. But just how much had MOTS whooped my ass by?

It took longer for me to count because:

  1. I had twice as many coins to get the same value

  2. My coins are smaller but my hands are bigger

  3. I'm just plain slow

Don't insert your pound coins now, they may not count but may still be charged.

And with that the results are in.

£1 coins: 603 - I'm delighted.
£2 coins: 442 - in your face, MOTS!

Eh? What's that?

442 coins? That's - yes, 884 of our Great British pounds. OK, my ass is whooped.

And until the bank opens in the morning the coins are stashed in the rottweiller's bed!

Looking back, they were started just as I'd knocked MOTS up, so we were never going to get the wishes we'd made for the cash. No currency can buy what we had tonight with the boy though (hiding under the duvet - who are you hiding from, son? "Santa, ssshhhhhh!". During pregnancy they became Ripley's jars, but I'm sure the whole family will get something nice. We'll get our multi-room audio, he'll get a nice cabin bed, and if there's anything left we'll see about going out one night. And that's the biggest treat of all!!

14 December 2008

Doped up on smack

That's it, I'll get the whack around the ear from MOTS right now, get it over and done with.

There, that's better. Now a full explanation over who, what and why a class A drug comes into things. And why this class A drug brought about a great day out yesterday.

The Scottish Railway Preservation Society - MOTS and I went on a tour with them a few years ago up to Mallaig way up the West Highland Line. And since having one that is almost on obsession with a certain little blue tank engine we have made use of their services again.

Now let it be said I've always had a thing for old trains. MOTS will testify that at the NRM in York I can get lost in the warehouse for hours on ends - so I suppose it's not just the engines, the lines, but the whole shooting match.

I digress. Back to the smack. No tenuous link, no Radio 1 20 thousand steps to get from A to B. Nice and simple:
Cocaine, product of the coca plant
Coca-Cola, originally a product of cocaine origin
Santa, product of the Coca-Cola company (well, the red suit is, the guy himself is real enough)

And there we have it. Yesterday we met the jolly one on a special steam train service from Bo'Ness to the North Pole.

It's either a right of passage or it's taught at nursery. Either way we haven't given him much introduction the to busiest guy in December, so to see that he knows who Santa is, if not quite understands what he is or does, is something I'm amazed at.

Yelling down the platform our little guy was, at the big guy in the red suit. Yelling down the carriage our little guy was, at the big guy in the red suit carrying teh sack of presents. But when Santa sat next to him he went all shy. SHY?? Until he got his present, then after a very quick and quiet "thank you" he knew what do to - get that paper off in as short a time as possible. There's no chance of going eco-friendly at Christmas in this house, no chance of not using miles of paper - oh no, that seems to be the fun part.

Our second trip to the North Pole was a success (even the fall off the train onto the platform - that's a story only for social services in my defence). It's always a thrill to see Santa himself, and we're thankful he can come to visit us when he's so busy.

Although I don't mid helping him out - if he doesn't eat the goodies we'll leave for him on Christmas Eve I'll make sure they find a good home!

Oh, SRPS - one final note. They are spot on with their presents. No cheap rubbish, and wholly appropriate for the age. Worth every penny, and knowing they are making some money to keep a piece of our industrail* heritage alive is amazing.

* I made a typo here, the spell checker picked it up. Having seen the typo I have decided not to correct it!

He's once, twice, three times Houdini

It has begun. Houdini is in the house, ladies and gentlemen!

This afternoon's nap was a mini adventure. In the cot, out of the cot, in the cot, out of the cot, in the cot, out of the cot, in the cot, out of the cot. All "ins" aided, all "outs" unaided.

Yes, that's it, he's not only discovered he can climb out of his cot, he does it four times to prove he's an expert at it. FOUR times he was out this afternoon. FOUR TIMES.

After getting back from our Sunday swim he was asleep in the car, so straight to bed rather than have lunch and then go. So while MOTS and I sat having ours, with boy wonder fast asleep (sic) we heard his bedroom door handle. "Is he in his cot, or in the bed" I enquired. The bed being the inflatable mattress that's been up for a while for "sick" sleeps. "Cot" replied MOTS. Oh dear then, he's climbed out. But there was no thud. So I went to investigate. And there, at the top of the stairs, still in his grobag, looking very proud of himself, was the Houdini Jr.

So why no thud? No crash, No scream?

And this is where Tumbletots comes in. He's been taught how to climb down as well as up. So when we saw how he was climbing it was no surprise that he was doing it safely. Standing in the corner gives two side to hold onto. Knee over the corner, foot over, bodyweight shifted and trailing leg over, lowered down with arms hanging on to the top. Escape complete.

And every time he climbs out he looks so proud.

One conversion to a bed coming up... it's been a long time coming but it's finally here.

11 December 2008

Baby's first...proper conversation

This morning I had what I consider to be the first proper conversation with my son. Sure we have questions and answers, and up to three word sentences. While this wasn't a conversation about the state of the global economy, nor was it totally interactive, bi-directional, a true dialogue.

I normally phone home on a Thursday and Friday morning to see how he is, what time he got up, if he's in good spirits. This morning I hadn't even seen MOTS as she had gone through to him at 4 this morning on a mission reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan - the puppy hunt. She stayed there, so I left without saying goodbye to anyone. I rang a little earlier than normal, firstly interrupting a nappy change, so rang back in the middle of breakfast.

MOTS put the boy on. The first voice on the phone was his:

BOY: "Hiya." DADDY: "Hello, son. What are you doing?" BOY: "Breakfast. Milk." Daddy was about to ask "And what else?" but got headed off: BOY: "Water." DADDY: "And your water, too?" "What's the story in..." BOY: "It's a bus." DADDY: "Is there a bus in Ballamory?" BOY: "Bus, bus!" DADDY: Something mushy... BOY: "Bye bye Daddy." Two noises down the phone as he kisses it.

A fully structured conversation, I'm well chuffed this morning.

08 December 2008

I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too

We had a family trip to the zoo last weekend, the second time MOTS and I have been, and the first we've been since we became three.

I'm no fan of the zoo - any zoo. The last time there the big cats were pacing, the chimps were bored, and it was a shame to see them like that. The penguins seemed happy as Larry though. Anyway, this time was much better.

It was so cold last Saturday. And because it was St Andrew's day on Sunday their entrance fee was waived - hence we paid to go on Saturday because it would be less busy.

And so it was. There was hardly a crowd anywhere.

What hit the spot with the little guy then? Well, first up were the penguins. He's well into mimicking animals (and yes that includes Daddy), so walks like a penguin when we ask what they do. He was amazed watching them dive and swim, as was I - I'd forgotten just how fast they can swim.

We worked our way up the hill, the big cats have more room now, so much so that we only saw one Jaguar (we were assured by the information boards that this was indeed the John Prescott enclosure). A spot of lunch and he saw the soft play area just before we left. Shoes off, and heading over, Daddy caught sight of the "pay at the till" sign. Hmm, too long a queue for food, we're leaving anyway - let's put up with the screaming. And Junior wasn't too bad either.

Two notable visits after lunch, in no particular order. The penguin parade went rather well. With just enough people to justify a long parade - we were lucky enough to be at the start so had to move over to the end to block them in - they opened the gates. The penguins that come out do so purely on a voluntary basis, and they need at least two. About half a dozen came out, led by a rockhopper. They went down rather well, with an enthusiasm bettered only by the visit to the chimps.

Our family portrait...
They have built a new chimp enclosure, opening in Spring this year. There's a large informational exhibition area, a first floor viewing platform overlooking three interconnecting rooms each with different light levels and equipment for them, and a large outdoor area with lots to climb on. A second exhibition area looking over one room that converts into a cinema is a really good space for visitors. None of the residents looked as unhappy as our last visit years ago, that's for sure. Anyway, Junior's new obsession became the "monkey". Armed with a £1.50 gift voucher MOTS got a small monkey from the shop on the way out, which is now part of "the family". Bed partners now have to include Puppy, Bear and now also Monkey.

Oh, and it's chapter 11 & 12 on The Jungle Book for the scene where Mowgli gets kidnapped and taken to King Louie's lair where the big beast demands the secret of man's red fire. Not that we've worn out that section of DVD yet, but it's coming!

And as I've touched upon it briefly here there's no pint in another post to say the same thing. I have my own little limpet at the moment. Everything Daddy does, so the boy wants to watch an then do himself. Which will come in really handy for toilet training, and I'm yet to worry about anything he's copying. I seem to have developed a heavier leg, having an extra 2 stone on one a lot of the time. MOTS is definitely taking a bit of demotion at the moment, the frequency of crying out "Mummy, Daddy" is on the slide in direct proportion to the increase in "Daddy, Mummy" or just "My Daddy". And when he's not settling down at bedtime and crying out like that it's really easy for me to ignore "Mummy, Daddy" and leave him, but it pulls away inside when it's one of the other two. I can still leave him, but it isn't as easy.

Our last visit to the big soft play place we go to said it all though. While he's becoming Daddy's little shadow he can drop me in an instant too. We were the only people there for a while, so he wanted me in the equipment with him. Fair enough, I love it in there (but won't do the top level, there's got to be sanctuary somewhere - that and I'm terrified by the prospect of the cargo net up to it). As soon as another two kids came in he left me stuck between two big cylinders and headed off after them. He is so into watching what anybody is doing, even if I get dropped now and again. But if I do I can always watch one of my DVDs. Oh hello son, you want what? "Monkey". Here we go, chapter 11...

07 December 2008

2 days...2 hospital visits

Thankfully not both for the boy, but both unexpected and neither particularly pleasant (when is hospital?).

As the title suggests there have been two hospital visits made this weekend, one for Daddy, and one for the son.

First up, Daddy's. After a nasty throat infection last week Daddy was put on penicillin for a week. That cleared it up nicely, until the day after the course finished. Then it flared back up, back to being very painful to swallow, and knowing I could not wait from Saturday morning until Monday (IF IF IF I could get an appointment) I rang NHS24. For all the reasons I hate the fact NHS24 exists, and weekend GPs don't, I actually don't mind the service - mainly because we don't have to deal with the Gestapo at our own practice and the service is actually better out of hours than it is normally. OK, so we have to drive a few miles to a local hospital, but that's a small price to pay.

Sure enough it was back. The doctor put the fear of the make believe person upstairs into me, suggesting I may have EPV (what, is that like the big gun on level 5 in Doom?) or may even need the tonsils out at some point. But he was happy leaving me with double dose penicillin for another week and we'll see if it comes back after that.

I got home to the boy complaining about his foot. This is the first time he's ever complained about something hurting so we weren't sure exactly what it was. Apart from his foot, that was clear. Anyway, it became clear it was the nail on his big toe. It had clearly been bent right back, form about half way down. Now that looked much more sore than the complaint of pain. Not wanting to touch it, MOTS decided a quick trim on Sunday would do.

And there ends Saturday.

After another rough night (the cold he's had and REALLY snotty nose has been giving him grief) we got up this morning around 08:30. He wasn't wanting his Daddy, very unusual, but instead wanted to curl up on the floor in a corner. He eventually calmed down, but it was when the grobag was undone that we saw the problem. His big toe was swollen, very red, and just at the end of his nail it was very white under the skin.

MOTS: "Sick kids?"
Me: "". I just nodded.

Hardly an emergency, so we took our time - breakfast for the little guy, dressed, out, pottered down the road. Are we over-reacting (2nd visit in 28 months) or not? Then we joined the queue:

Immediately in front of us: A family not of Scottish origin in wanting milk for their little one. MILK? Try Tesco you fucking half-wit. What do they think A&E is? A corner shop? Morons. And then behind us, Hector's mum wasn't pleased at being there. And I quote...

Mummy is not very happy with you, Hector. Because you won't take your medicine Mummy will miss her plane, lose her job and it will all be your fault.

Whooaaa there, pull back the emotional tidal wave, hen. Anyway, "Hector" wasn't very old but old enough to know better - I'd say at the quick glimpse I got maybe around 5. So he didn't want to take his medicine, eh? So what does Mummsie (of very well to do Scottish origin) do - A&E. One nurse, one syringe, and job done. Eh? Liquid medicine? Come on, just force the issue, it's hardly an A&E job is it?

So there we were feeling less like frauds.

A medical student had a look and referred to the registrar. Who had a look and said it would have to be drained. OK, no issues so far. "Now,", she said, "it depends on how pragmatic you are as parents". Uh-oh, don't like the sound of this. We think we are always quite pragmatic (almost to the point of being laid back) about most things, but this was obviously going to be a test. "This is going to hurt a lot, so we can either go for holding him down", with a room full of staff as well as us it was pointed out, "or general anaesthetic".

35 nano seconds it took to decide, 30 of those were working out if she did actually suggest a general. And another 3 torn between relief of not being a time waster and the horror of the prospect of putting him under. He's got a high pain threshold, let's have a game of all-pile-on and just do it.

Oh the screaming. He really was not happy. He could be heard in Inverness. He really loves his Crocs and pirate socks and was not in the mood for them being off. "Don't look up, Mum", having already warned MOTS she was going to cry too, the registrar was going in. Wipes, sterile liquids, knife... and... nothing. Toe opened up, drained out quite nicely, and the boy was still only winging about his Crocs. Not even a flicker of acknowledgement that there was anything going on down there. Now THAT is a high pain threshold.

And when we were waiting for his penicillin we got "all better now" from him. So proud. So very proud of our brave little soldier.

Just not looking forward to the fall-out when his Crocs don't fit any more.

02 December 2008

Planting for the future

MOTS had this wonderful idea of having a tree in the back garden for the wee fella, especially as we had a "weed" that had been growing courtesy of next door's Rowan tree [see this post]. Eventually, after some soul-searching, we thought there was no way we'd look after the sapling properly, not even after re-potting and watching it grow at a fantastic rate of knots. So it headed south, to a place where it would be looked after by a couple with a lot of time on their hands. Yes, Grandma and Grandad have the tree.

I knew it was in a better place, but I still craved to have something for him.

When it comes to the garden I'm more of a digger than a dibber, more hammer than honeysuckle. I'd had a project in mind for a while, to build a raised bed where once stood three phygelia that had to go once infested by some nasty bug. The spot had to be filled, it blocked the view down the path from a corner seat in the bottom of the garden.

I can't recall now when that part of the project was completed. It was too late for any summer planting, especially as the voluminous space contained within it was not going to be filled with a couple of 99p grow bags from Klondyke*. * Other garden centres may be available. Oh my, that is going to take some serious amount of compost. The structure is some nicely faced tongue & groove slotted together, fixed at the corners, and stood on a gravel trench. And currently empty of compost.

The general idea with this is that we get the wee fell doing a spot of gardening in the spring time. Being 500mm off the ground it's a perfect height for him to work in, and a perfect height to block the unwanted view. Job well done, even if I do say so myself. Apart from it being empty, but we'll gloss over that minor issue until March. Then panic because I haven't filled it over winter.

We also had a couple of spaces in front of the climbing roses that only ever grow weeds, there's nothing that can go in there really, and with a need for some extra spring bulbs we decided on some tulips. A pack of 30 bulbs would fill the gap quite nicely.

Our garden? Nahh...
So there on a crisp autumn afternoon (November 15th) I removed some plugs, MOTS added some compost to the bottom and the wee fella dropped a bulb in each hole which I raked over to refill. When they start popping up next spring it will be a truly family effort that brought those tulips to be. Either that or it'll not be 100% my fault if they don't come up at all. For once!

01 December 2008

Teeth - Appropriate use & inappropriate use

To end the drought of posts recently we have a double whammy on the tooth front. One thing that's not been so good, and the other quite good. Both involve teeth, the wee fella's ownership and use of them.

Anyway, before I really forget how to use Movable Type, here I go...

How long is it since the first tooth arrived? According to Alder that momentous occasion was 3rd May 2007. And since the last tooth appeared? According to my dentist, sometime early October 2008.

We had a dental appointment on the 9th of October. Usual routine, I got my check-up and scale and polish while MOTS kept the wee fella happy on the sofa, all the time watching what was going on. Then a check of the little teeth while sat on Daddy's knee. "D to D" on first glance, "top and bottom". "Oh, left E as well" closely followed by "oh, the whole lot". Just one last one through, but not fully as there was still some gum there, but all through. Our dentist was saying that was nice and early, and may mean he'll start to get his adult teeth in sooner rather than later. Only a may, he also may not.

So there we were in early October feeling quite proud, and thankful that the pain and suffering [come on, we had it so bloody easy it was unreal] was at an end.

Then the trouble started.

We had a bad report from nursery. That full set of teeth was being used, and not in a good way. We were having a bit of a biting issue.

Monday: One
Tuesday: Three
Wednesday: Two

Monday: One - and MOTS went in for a long chat about what we could do to work together. Meeting initiated by us, and it seems like we have been looked on quite favourably for initiating it, especially as we weren't seeing anything at home until this same night - and it backed up what was being said - frustration. As he's struggling at times to communicate he gets frustrated and starts to bite his arm. But, and this is going off at a very big tangent, his manners have come along in an instant - please & thank you for just about everything, so what I found was that we knew he wanted something, couldn't quite explain what it was he was after, but we could snap him out of his impending meltdown by asking his to say please, which he did quite happily. In fact more than happily. So we avoided many a bite at home with that.

Tuesday: None. Stars all round
Wednesday: None. And stars all round

Daddy did get told off one evening for asking if he'd been a good boy or a bad boy. I shall not be using negative words like that again. And there we have it, nothing since. Fantastic!

One line I did read somewhere, and as I have forgotten where I can't give the credit that is really due to the truly rational person who originally penned the phrase,

Anyone with small children knows that biting is more contagious than the common cold.

Berkmann? Ahh, I can't remember. All I know is that working with nursery on a plan (use of stickers for rewarding good behaviour served his appetite for stickers) helped a lot, for which think everyone involved is grateful.

I can't understand how it suddenly kicked off though, he was getting bitten in the younger room, but never bit back. Then months later he's the biter. I just hope I'm satisfied with the frustration aspect and we're closing that particular chapter.

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