Saturday, July 30, 2005

Feeling a bit like one of the Desperate Housewives, I pulled out the old cooker, scrubbed the tiles behind it, cleaned the lino and round the edges of the cooker ... so I wouldn't be covered in embarrassment when the new cooker arrived. Unaccustomed domesticity!

It was installed by midday. The electrician was surprised to hear that 'leckies were in the news yesterday. Apparently, it's easier to "score" (I believe that's the current phrase) than it is to find an electrician when you need one. He just laughed and said he wouldn't be finding out the truth in that statistic, since he was spoken for already.

Okay. Laundry done, floors washed, SuperSpouse's trousers repaired, bread [machine]-baked, and shopping done. We have plimsolls for the new term, not to mention a pair of pyjamas and some boxer-shorts. The boys protested fiercely at being dragged round to try on plimsolls - one suggested staying in the car whilst Pseudo-Supermum took one of his shoes in as a size guide! Then I asked what happened if people didn't have their gym kit on gym days. They lose a behaviour point. No further protests.

My mobile just rang. Nothing unusual there, you might think. But I'm downstairs, SuperSpouse is upstairs, and he was the caller. I was the wrong number!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Other people's kids can be a pain. In the past four weeks, we've endured -

  • youths jumping on my car and smashing the windscreen
  • youths showing off a flick-knife
  • youths chasing our eldest son on his bike
  • two nights ago, teenage girls daubing paint on the wooden back gates of three houses sharing our side lane - then flinging the [almost empty] paint-tub over our wall. It made a bonny mess of our patio, but mercifully missed the windows.
  • And that's not to mention the two charming young men who broke into SuperSpouse's car in June.

Do you blame me going to the Police? Don't get me wrong - I'd far rather they concentrated their energy on arresting terrorists, but I'd also like community policemen to maintain a visible presence in our neighbourhood! Our son is now scared about going out on his bike. He never goes more than quarter of a mile away, anyway - hardly dangerous stuff. You would think.

I've tried explaining that these kids are BORED after four weeks of school summer holiday, and regrettably their parents either don't care, or don't know how to keep them occupied, or possibly can't afford the kind of activities that we try to organise.

I've emphasised that our kids' safety is of prime importance to us, and they're to come indoors immediately if they feel threatened. This might be giving in to the bullies, but at least it keeps them away from the risk of a Ned with a Knife. I'm ordering a book from Amazon - How to handle bullies, teasers and other meanies. See my side-bar if you'd like one too!

"Sometimes I don't like living here", no.1 son said wistfully. Well, I agree. But it is what we can afford. Welcome to the real world, son!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In an effort to reduce my stress levels, I spent a while searching the web for helpful websites last weekend. Allow me to introduce StressDoc.com - a very helpful site. Mark Gorkin, Stress Doc extraordinaire, writes with wisdom, compassion and humour. I am looking forward to reading his book, Practice Safe Stress, which I ordered from Amazon.co.uk yesterday. (Make sure you buy the right one - there are two books by that title, but only one is by the Stress Doc! The ISBN is 1414010524. There's a link on my side-bar.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I started the day as a librarian, turned briefly into my alter ego to undergo a research assessment after lunch, then ended the day as a librarian again. Who am I?! I answered an external query this morning to the enquirer's total satisfaction, which was gratifying, but the rest of the time was spent on the boring kind of minutiae that doesn't stand re-telling!

There was nothing else about the rest of the day that would interest the average blog reader. Domesticity, and a futile attempt to find a top that would go with my new red suit. The annoying thing about that is that now I shall have to go looking yet again tomorrow lunchtime! I am not a born shopper.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Health Warning: squabbling kids can drive you insane. As can defiant pre-teens. After a dose of defiance before leaving the house, more between church services, and aggressive, loud public squabbling after the second service - which the kids attended merely for the last 10 minutes, I might add! - Pseudo-Supermum had had enough. Straight home to have a solitary cup of coffee. I was in no mood for coffee with other people. Even no.3 son (not quite seven) was telling his big brother, "Leave Mum alone, let her have some peace." Sweet child.

After all that organ practice during the week, I capitalized on it by playing the same voluntaries that I played at Friday's wedding. That was a wheezy old pipe organ on Friday. Mine is a modern digital effort. The practice paid off, handsomely. Nobody noticed. Really added to my sense of well-being!

In the absence of an oven, I created a combi-microwaved meal at lunchtime. We all nobly ate it, but the pork was a bit tough. Can't imagine why - it was cooked long enough.

And I did a fair amount of research reading, in between loading/unloading the washing-machine with four loads of washing. The rest will have to wait - at 11.35 pm, the machine is still only washing the fourth load.

I was perturbed to be told that one of the big boys hanging round outside our house had a flick-knife. Yuck! I sent my eldest, and his friend, round to the friend's house, away from the teenagers. You don't tell the police - there would be reprisals if the neds worked out who had informed on them. And if you don't know the ned's name, then there's no point at all. You just keep your own kids out of their way. Nice neighbourhood we live in!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The kids have stars in their eyes! Wait 'till I tell you - we're just back from our neighbours' housewarming barbeque. To the boys' astonishment, they met Simon from the Saturday Show, and Adam from Newsround. I've never seen the boys so excited and respectfully impressed! They've never met a Real Celebrity before, and suddenly, there they were talking to two TV stars. Wow! Full of barbequed food and Coca Cola, how can I expect them to go to bed now? I don't. Bed can wait. After all, it is a Saturday.


This is a link to the CBBC Homepage.
Firekills.gov.uk is the source of this image. This afternoon, the cooker exploded. Luckily, I was in the kitchen to turn off the power when it happened. Gentle reader, if you hear "pft, fizzzz, splutter" coming from your oven, then one of your elements has shorted out. Open the door and you'll see first a white flash, then a yellow one. That's the flames. Close the door and turn off the power. Go to your nearest electrical retailer and buy a new appliance. It may take a week to deliver, so resign yourself to microwave meals and McDonalds takeaways. Don't worry about that - buy the cooker, then tell your spouse what you've done. He'll be glad he was spared the bother!

Our cooker wasn't in the first flush of youth when we bought the house - the cooker came as part of the deal, and it was an earlier version of the model that I particularly liked. It has lasted another ten years. Four years ago, I had to replace the elements - that time, they just weren't working. It cost £97, then. This time, it wasn't worth a bigger bill on such an old cooker.

Intellectual Pseudo-Supermum has had a busy two days, without going near her work, and barely going near her research. Yesterday, I did the supermarket run, played for a wedding, taxi-ed the boys to and from daycare, washed, cooked - and went to the park after tea. Did a bit of reading before I fell asleep in front of the TV. I fell asleep around 11.20 pm, waking up at 3.30 pm. Not recommended. Then I staggered to bed.

Today, we went shopping. Poor boys - who would want to go to three kilt shops, and then back to the second. (This saved a tenner!) Now two little boys have kilts, sporrans, sporran belts and kilt socks. One has the pencils he needs for his course at the art school. One has a new school bag and a mountain of cello music to keep him engaged for the rest of the summer holiday!

And Pseudo-Supermum is coming to terms with the fact that she has spent a huge, vast sum of money today. I've just had a calming cup of decaffeinated tea. I need another!

Thursday, July 21, 2005


11.20 pm, and finally I get a chance to sit down by myself! Super-Spouse has gone to Dusseldorf with his fellow tram-enthusiasts. I ran the kids to Summer Camp (one day at a time, UK-style - not the residential US concept). Did some organ practice (for the wedding I'm playing at tomorrow), then went and did a day's work.
Lunch-break was no break at all, as I spent it at my desk putting together a grant application for a research trip I plan to make in September. You can guarantee that if you're doing something for yourself in your lunch-break, then you will assuredly be interrupted with a query. I got two!
Our evening meal was an hour later than usual because I had to start it from scratch, so I let the kids chill out a bit longer than usual afterwards. That gave me time to shorten my new trousers (again, for tomorrow's wedding!). Did two loads of washing, hung out some of it, bathed two boys, practised a bit more (Widor's Toccata isn't the same without the feet, though), then accompanied Cello Boy as he sight-read some music that my father sent him last week...

I'm taking tomorrow as a day's leave - it was the only way I could play for a wedding at 1.30 pm. I might even get the shopping run done in the morning once I've dropped the boys off. However, although I was going to compile my shopping list tonight, I'm afraid I'm weary. So ... it won't get done. Night, night!
In case you were wondering - the organ image comes from homepage.mac.com - I'm pleased to acknowledge it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Fair Fortnight in Glasgow began last weekend, so today has been Fair Monday. We went to Insch in Aberdeenshire for the weekend, to visit SuperSpouse's cousin.

Or at least, we did all go - but not all at the same time. I found the last organ deputy in Glasgow, so I was able to miss church on Sunday. SuperSpouse started deputy-hunting after me, and couldn't find one. He came to Insch yesterday afternoon.

A good time was had by all - even though no.1 son couldn't see how anyone could possibly enjoy strolling round a series of man-made lochs to admire the scenery and tranquillity. BORING!!! (Well, maybe - to an 11-year old.)

We drove back this afternoon, stopping off for a mid-afternoon meal in Stonehaven. Why? So no.1 son could meet his email pen-pal of a year. We knew it WAS a boy of thirteen, but wanted to be there all the same. As did the pen-pal's parents! The meeting was a total success from all angles. Phew!

After that, the journey went a bit haywire. Bypassing Perth, Pseudo-Supermum was following SuperSpouse, who decided to overtake a couple of high-sided lorries on a long, high bridge. I didn't manage to overtake the second one fast enough - the bridge was climbing ever so slightly. SuperSpouse took a sudden left turn off the bridge, and I was left sailing past him onto the M9, with absolutely no chance of cutting across the lanes before the roads diverged. Panic! I have no sense of direction, but I did have the map. I got to a point where I could phone no.1 son's mobile, let them know what had happened, and was lambasted thoroughly for being so utterly, stupid, pathetic, brainless ... finish the sentence how you will. Reverse my steps? How could I? I was already in a state of panic and couldn't remember how I got where I was! I had the map, but it didn't help me much, since I wasn't sure which road I was on.

Readers will be relieved to hear that I did get back onto the A9, and rather weepily made my way to the layby where SuperSpouse and sons nos.1 & 2 were impatiently waiting for me. No.3 (in my car) played his Gameboy and fed me sweets to calm me down. He's not quite seven, bless him.

Home safe and sound eventually, I started unpacking, persuading the boys to bed, and loading the washing machine again. (Grateful, of course, that all I had to do was load the automatic washer and not use a manual paddle in a tub, 1940's style. See my earlier posting.) To the reader who suggested watching TV in bed as a way to get kids to sleep - I'm sorry, but I don't think it would work with ours - it would just over-stimulate them. Classic FM usually does the trick, though!

SuperSpouse struggled to stay calm as he realised he'd forgotten to book a deputy to cover for him at work whilst he's in Germany on another long weekend (aka short week) from Thursday to next Monday. I can't tell you the sense of foreboding that filled the house at the thought that he would have to forego his holiday if he couldn't resolve the problem.

I'm happy to report that it's three-quarters resolved now. So we can breathe again, albeit not too deeply!

To go off at a total tangent - have you read the latest Harry Potter yet? Ours arrived on Saturday morning, and no.1 son devoured it all weekend, finishing it earlier this evening. He's sad now, because he will have a long wait until the next one comes out. Haven't you ordered it yet? Use my link to Amazon. See to the right of this posting.

Back to work tomorrow. I shall say no more. Sigh!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Along the lines of "Murder yes, Divorce never..."

Believe me, I would never harm my boys - but tonight I could MURDER two of them! They were allowed to stay up late on holiday at Eurocamp. (Read my review of L'Atlantique, at holidaywatchdog.com.) That way, they enjoyed the cool of the evening, and we enjoyed long lie-ins the next day.

However, we're home again now, and some of us are off to visit a distant cousin tomorrow morning. She's distant genealogically and geographically, but much-loved and far from distant in our thoughts.

We need to be up at a reasonable hour. As I carefully explained. So, all three boys were bathed and hair-washed timeously. The little one went to bed at a reasonable time. The middle one managed to make a trip to the bathroom last for as long as a couple of chapters took to read! Both were finally tucked up in bed, albeit wide-awake. And both were still reading at 10.20 pm. Which, for little people of nine and six, is too late. No.1, on the other hand, went to bed on time and was drifting off to sleep while I read the riot act next door.

No.1 has had a busy day - we went shopping for the new school uniform, in two different shopping centres - two separate expeditions, separated by our evening meal at home!

All three were treated to a bungee-jump (indoor, on trampolines) when SuperSpouse took them out looking for GameBoy accessories this morning. All three were out on their bikes this afternoon, though no.2 can't actually ride his yet. However, he will learn this summer - the family mind is made up! He is getting embarrassed that he can't, but never wants to go out to try. So, if we just nudge him outside every day, he'll get there eventually.

But after all this rushing around and frenetic activity - why won't they sleep?!!! Whilst no.1 son isn't even kept awake by the thought of a new Harry Potter novel tomorrow!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sun, sand, sea and ... smashed windscreen. Pseudo-Supermum got back from Eurocamp at Beg Meil, Brittany, just last night. We took the overnight ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth, then drove all the way up yesterday.

It was a great holiday - the weather was as good this year as it had been bad last. We took our time returning to Roscoff, stopping to look at the Cathedral in Quimper, and to eat crepes in Le Faout, then we let the boys play on the sand a couple of miles away from the ferry terminal - to wear off some energy.

Then I checked my mobile - ooops! a message from our neighbour to warn me that my windscreen had been smashed the weekend before. He'd kindly parked the car off-road in a neighbour's drive where it would be less obvious. I phoned Autoglass from Brittany, as the boys played happily oblivious on the sand beneath us.

I was lucky - someone obviously got on top of the car - the sunroof was depressed, so it's lucky that (a) it hadn't rained and (b) it went back to the correct position when I opened and closed the mechanism - but they hadn't smashed the sunroof, and although the windscreen had shattered, it hadn't actually broken. There was a depression where a large boot had obviously made contact, presumably on the way down from the sunroof. The Glasgow Ned is a mindless creature. "Feral youths", as someone coined the phrase in the papers a few weeks ago. At least my tax-disc was still there, or I'd have been a lot more inconvenienced. It took the edge off the holiday, though.

The boys made friends with two Lancashire lads the same ages as themselves, so they thoroughly enjoyed their holiday. Our families got on well, and hope to stay in touch.

From my point of view, NO research reading got done, but it was probably good for me to have a complete break.

Since 7 pm last night, I've done five loads of washing, ,most of which is now dry and folded but not yet put away. SuperSpouse irritated me by pointing out that I didn't actually do the washing - the machine did - and that at least it was better than using a tub with a paddle as his mother had done in the 'forties. As they say in Glasgow, "Aye, right." I was still the one that had to get it done. I retaliated by retorting that, by the same token, it was a good thing he didn't have to use an earth closet at the bottom of the garden whenever he needed the bathroom. Men - don't you love 'em?

Time to get the boys to bed. They won't do it if I don't supervise them!