Friday, December 29, 2006

The boys are still happily enjoying their presents. Video-games are all-absorbing! Meanwhile Super-Spouse got a new computer game from the boys, a book from me, and a book from my parents – so for much of the time, all has been quiet upstairs, and I’ve had downstairs to myself. I’m not complaining! Indeed, I borrowed a book about Mother Teresa from the local library, and it has been very pleasant to sit and read quietly without disturbance. You’d be amazed at how quiet our house can be!

Ocarina-kid's vocabulary continues to amaze us. He's only 8 years old. Just before Christmas he confided in Super-Spouse that he was “struggling to contain himself”. The other day, he wanted to know what “consecutive” meant. And then, when he was phoning a school-friend, he turned to me and calmly asked, “how about a little privacy, Mum?” In other words, buzz off!

If his vocabulary is as good as, or better than Viola-Kid's (who is reading books a good 2 years ahead of his age), then our eight-year old's vocabulary must, by inference, be as good as the average 12 or 13 year old. Scary! His class-teacher last year said that some people were all-rounders, whilst others were strong on language or numbers. Ocarina-Kid is clearly strong on language!

In the circumstances, you’ll be relieved to hear that he still believes in Santa (whilst accepting that Santa puts all purchases on Mum’s credit card), and the tooth-fairy. (The fairy visited our house last night, and this means we’re one tooth closer to Ocarina-Kid having enough big teeth to start the saxophone! Even when he has the teeth, I fear his fingers might be too small for a good while yet.)

Viola-Kid has been getting to sleep very, very late this holiday. I don’t know what causes him to stay awake even when he went to bed later than usual. However, he beat his all-time record this morning – I had to waken him just after noon! I don’t think he’s twigged that he actually missed breakfast altogether. We had sausage, beans and toast - if anyone asks, it was brunch!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yesterday (Saturday) saw me setting out bright and early with Ocarina-Kid to fetch his new glasses from the optician.

We also paid a cheque into the bank, and bought potatoes and carrots from a city centre supermarket, since Asda didn't have any at 1.45 am yesterday morning.

Yes, I did say 1.45 am. I left the house at midnight to do my weekly supermarket shop. Asda was going like a fairground. It was only j-u-s-t thinning out when I left at 1.45 am, and I'd had to queue long enough at the checkout before that! The poor shelf-stackers couldn't get their crates down the aisles for shoppers. I was sorry for them!

Anyway, I got to bed at 3 am and got up at 8 am, so we could go into town smartish and get it over with. Which we did.

I hadn't been home long before Cello-Kid asked (politely) if we could go and buy an internet adapter for their Nintendo DS consoles. "Where?", I asked. There was no way I was driving to Braehead shopping centre, because it would be mobbed. So, to be fair, he phoned round all the video game shops in the city centre. Found an adapter, and arranged for it to be kept aside. What did we do yesterday afternoon? Back to town by subway, to collect the adapter. Three happy boys, one exhausted Mum. I snoozed for most of the evening. Trying to put a clean duvet-cover on Ocarina-Kid's duvet, I was so ham-fisted that SuperSpouse told me firmly to "get a grip". But that was just the problem - I couldn't get a grip. I was sleepy, and uncoordinated, and my arms ached. I'm sure Christmas isn't meant to be so exhausting.

This afternoon, we went to see "Happy Feet", which was a frivolous piece of nonsense but raised chuckles all round. Now, SuperSpouse has had his own evening nap, prior to doing whatever he and the boys need to organise. I was temporarily shut in the kitchen to keep me out of the way. Sadly, I had already "made" my Yuletide log. (Asda made it, whilst I butter-iced and decorated it.) So, I phoned home to fill in the time.

They're bringing my father from his stroke rehabilitation centre to my brother's house for Christmas lunch tomorrow. I hope it goes okay. It's four hundred miles away, so I won't be there! In the New Year, they plan to send my father home. Doubly incontinent, for a 76-year old woman to care for 23.5 hours a day - because he allegedly doesn't meet the criteria for a nursing home. As Mum said, he has had six mini-strokes, has only one kidney and no pituitary gland, has prostate cancer and double-incontinence. What criteria do they need?!

And I'm four hundred miles away, unable to do much to help because I am a full-time working mum with a husband and three young kids. The trouble is, society has changed. When you married young and had your kids young, and didn't go out to work, then you had more time to look after your elderly relatives. I married later, had my kids much later, and work 9 to 5. I have to - we'd be on benefits otherwise!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My car had its MOT test yesterday. The old lady passed with flying colours. I took the car back to park it in Govan, went to work on the Subway, and did a little shopping after work before heading home. Time to relax? Goodness, no! Five minutes later I was tearing across to the University Library to renew a book that was already a little overdue - then rushed to Toys 'R' Us and Asda. The car was running fine.

Today, I needed to take the car to town so I could go to the osteopath after work. The car made it to the Clyde Tunnel approach. Someone "flashed" me in, so I released the clutch ...

Eurghh! Ahem! Splutter!

Silly me - I must have been in too high a gear. But no - it did it again, then again. By this time I was IN the tunnel. It was snap-decision time. I decided to go to the Wizards of Finnieston rather than to work, and it was my good luck that the car spluttered and coughed but didn't stall until I turned in down the lane where the Wizards live. Even more good luck was to follow. It was the coil pack - they had a spare one - and it was fitted in ten minutes flat. Is that lucky or more than lucky?

I tell you, it's a good thing I did my Christmas shopping using public transport this week - or I could have broken down in the middle of the Braehead Christmas parking nightmare. As it was, I got to work half an hour late, somewhat stressed and ready for a cuppa, but otherwise okay. Made it to the osteopath, and am home, trying to relax.

Relaxation? What's that!

My own letter to Santa included wishes for:-
  • Peace and quiet
  • Nae quarrelling
  • A tidy house

Please, please, dear Santa, if I can just have those three things ...

A propos of the Wizard of Finnieston, you might be interested to know that there appears to be a Piano Wizard there as well as a Citroen Wizard. Check this out!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm spending my days rushing between work (gotta finish that project this week or else!) and chasing Santa. How I wish that guy would stop putting things on my credit card!

This evening, I took two little boys shopping for Big Brother's present - we went to G4 in the Buchanan Galleries.

"Why can't we go to Braehead in the car?"

"Won't get parked."

Pause. Thoughtfully, "It was easy when we could go to Toys 'R' Us - but now he's too big ..."

So, with minimum protest, we took the Subway. Not too many people on the train, not too many people in Buchanan Galleries. No-one told the boys off for fiddling and playing with all the interesting gadgets on display.

Home again, chased the boys to get ready for bed - and wrapped all but one of the presents lying hidden in odd corners. That one needs batteries ...

I've pondered what Santa will be delivering, and I've updated my shopping list.

NOW! I might spend 15 minutes planning this research paper! (At 23.15 pm? Now you know I'm crackers.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

About 50 cards and 4 wrapped gifts later ... I got to bed at 1.30 am this morning. That's the spirit of Christmas ...?

Enjoy this story that a friend sent me:-

The Weight of a Burden
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"Before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can."

Author Unknown

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Church this morning, a last choir-practice before our Big Event this evening, then home to lunch.

"Mum? Are you doing anything this afternoon? Can we go to the pictures."

Snarl. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I wanted to go to Braehead to start getting the 22 Christmas presents remaining on my list. Indeed, I was going to go, and there wasn't time to go to the pictures. (Apart from his having been to France, Xscape AND LaserQuest in the past nine days.)

I went to the bus-stop (to avoid the parking problem). Waited 25 minutes - no bus, just loads of football supporters. Went home, disconsolate.

I am happy to announce that I bought about half of the gifts, online. I still have to go to work (yes, boring, I know), go and hear Cello-kids school Christmas concert, go carol-singing at an old folks' home, do some research (ha-ha! just when?) and keep the house going. Quite when I'll finish the Christmas shopping is a moot point.

But tonight - yes, TONIGHT, now that I've seen the Christmas Carol Service to a successful conclusion - I have to write those Christmas cards. And I have to write the annual circular letter first. 'Scuse me, folks ...

(Did someone say something about going to the cinema? Not this side of Christmas.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Our kids ought to have signs on their bedroom doors. A bit like car-parks, only in their case, it's

Pay and Convey

Superspouse says we must be the only taxi-service that pays the passengers before they get out at their destination.

On Thursday morning, Cello-Kid (having cost something over £300 for a French shopping weekend with the school) needed more cash. We shuffled around what we had and sent him off with what he said he needed. But as he got out of the car, he announced they were going out that evening, so he'd need still more. Right, fine. I don't think I've even been told where they eventually went!

And this is the first year that we're finding Christmas outings are costing Megabucks, not just the odd quid here or there. What with Xscape snow-boarding last night, and tonight Laser-Questing then McDonald's, there seems to be no end to it all. And that's leaving aside anything the younger boys are invited to. They're low-maintenance by comparison!

Last night, Cello-Kid innocently asked if I was doing anything today, as he wanted a haircut. Spluttering over our spaghetti, SuperSpouse and I exchanged knowing glances.

"Well, there's Ocarina-Kid's optician's appointment, Viola-Kid's orchestra practice, picking up a prescription, rushing to the jeweller with a broken ring, dropping off a present at one of the godmother's, ferrying two boys to a Sunday-school party, and buying one secret-Santa gift and three gifts for the church gift service ...and cooking tea. No, I can't say I've got much on. Not so as you'd notice, or anything ..."

I've done the recycling project with Ocarina-Kid (we made night-light holders out of a cereal packet, jam-jars, aluminium foil, newspaper and sequins), and now it's his bathtime. Then I have to start writing Christmas cards.

I had a good research-based day yesterday, but it already feels a long while ago...

Monday, December 11, 2006

From: PseudoSupermum
Sent: 10 December 2006 21:48 PM
To: Helpdesk (Traidcraft)
Subject: Christmas cake - help!

If I ordered a cake tomorrow (Monday 11th), is there any chance it would arrive before Christmas?



(Panicking Mum!)


From: Helpdesk (Traidcraft)
To: PseudoSupermum
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 10:43 AM
Subject: RE: Christmas cake - help!

Yes you will get it before christmas.


Help Desk


Phew! I can breathe again. Three cheers for Traidcraft.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

  • Cello repaired.
  • Mother Teresa biography borrowed from local library.
  • Emailed Traidcraft to see if I can order a cake online and get it before Christmas!
  • Rest of Christmas? Don't ask.
  • Other tasks? Oh, come on! It's only a day since my last blog post ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Earlier this week, I drew a chart - showing me all the things I had to do this month. My middle boy took one look, and was mighty impressed.

"Ooh, Mum - a Mind Map!"

I've gone one further - it's now a beautiful Word document with lots of text boxes, colour-infills, and lines. But how am I getting on with the tasks?

  1. Cello-Boy to France. Just saw him onto the coach, so that project is now underway.

  2. Younger boys to pantomime. One panto down, one to go. We took my Singaporean colleague to see the panto at work. She found it surprisingly "interactive". Yes, that's Scottish panto for you! They yelled and bawled at all the right places and some of the wrong ones.

  3. Car. Still got to get the lock fixed and the MOT booked.

  4. Special church service - nearly all sorted. I just need to find a biography of Mother Teresa tomorrow, preferably at the local library. Don't ask ...

  5. Music - still a few lessons to go before the Christmas holidays. And now, a cello to get fixed. The sound-post collapsed inside the instrument. I could do without this!

  6. School - recycling project for no.3 son.

  7. Research - er, just when do I fit it in? Conference paper to write by the end of the year, too.

  8. Christmas ...

Groan! Let's try again.

  1. Christmas - cards, letters, presents, tree, other ornaments and decorations, bake cake, supermarket shopping, Christmas lunch and tea, Santa's wishlists ...

  2. Nervous breakdown - on hold until the new year. My horoscope this evening warned me not to overdo things, or I'd collapse under the strain. So, let's get this straight - one-twelfth of the British population are going to take special care not to overdo things. Would that be around 2% of the men and 2% of the women in the country? No, can't be right. 4% of the men, surely ...
Image from, as I have no idea how to turn a word document into a pdf or jpg.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Culinary Chaos in the Cook-house

It's sad, isn't it? Some kids have a Jamie Oliver, a Nigella Lawson or a Gordon Ramsay for a parent. Lucky them! If the domestic goddesses were electing a new member to join them, I'd be an instant reject. It's not just that I don't LOOK the part - I don't COOK it either.

It's a miserable, wet, dreich Scottish Sunday afternoon, but Pseudo-Supermum decided to spoil the family. She'd cook toad in the hole, followed by a real rice pudding. (They haven't tried rice pudding since they were toddlers, so it didn't seem unreasonable to invite them to try it.)

The Toad rose. The Pudding flopped.

The recipe told me to bake in a very hot oven (230 C or 450 F) for 10-15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140 C or 275 F and bake for a further hour or so. Well, I needed the cooker to stay hot for the Toad, so I pre-heated the top oven to the lower temperature and transferred the pudding after 15 minutes. Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! It was nowhere near done, an hour later. Really not done another 15 minutes after that. And only just done 15 more minutes later.

Ocarina kid pronounced, with childlike logic, "Well, I don't know what you did to it, but you're rubbish at it." True. He had a yoghourt for his honesty.

The annoying thing is that I used my all-time favourite cook-book - the one I trust most. I've just consulted the pudding rice packet. It tells me to heat the oven to 150 C or 300 F, and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours at the one temperature. That's somewhat different. I think I went wrong by moving from hot to cool oven, rather than letting the oven cool down to the required temperature - which would have kept it hotter for a good bit longer. So the rice didn't have a chance to soften at the outset.

As for Super-Spouse's shopping trip? It went like a dream. Apart from, "I saw you'd forgotten potatoes, so I bought some." You can guess the end-result. We had quite a lot of spuds at 9 am this morning, but we have a whole lot more now ...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Writing a shopping list for someone else to follow

You know, it's not easy. SuperSpouse offered to do the shopping for me tomorrow. I re-wrote my shopping list to reflect the aisles more closely. And then annotated the list to say exactly what I meant. So, it ended up a bit like this:-

  • Eggs –10 or 12. British, as our chickens vaccinated against salmonella
  • Bread – 4 loaves, medium sliced, anything that’s special offer on multi-buy!
  • Beefburgers, 12 Bird’s Eye original. NOT quarter-pounders
  • All Brain Crunchy Oatbakes – money-off voucher attached!!
  • Big pack of something whole-grain for boys – NOT silly little pack of gimmicky sugary junk cereal!

Have you ever heard of a husband rest-room? Take a look at this link, from the Far East. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

I can't wait to hear whether my list was helpful or bloody infuriating! Meanwhile, I have this big diagram with all the stuff I think I have to remember to do this month - leaving out work, and normal household/ family routines. No.2 son's eyes lit up. "Ooh, Mum - a MIND MAP!" I've obviously gone up in his estimation...

Friday, December 01, 2006


My poor parents are having a tough time of it at present. Dad's still in hospital after another stroke. Mum has been managing a house-move by herself. The buyer of the family home wanted her out by today, or he threatened the sale was off. (That gave her just 2 weeks to finish packing and arrange all that a move entails.) Then he said he'd give her another week if she paid him £5000, cash. Yeah, right! He didn't get it.

Mum is stressed to the max - and this is the woman who copes admirably with anything and everything. Her sister has been staying with her this week, thankfully. But at the end of their long and difficult day, they had a meal round with my brother and his family - then Mum fell asleep in her chair. Poor thing!

Meanwhile, back in Scotland - a woman drove into the back of me this evening. She went through a red light and hit my stationary car. The only good thing is - my car escaped virtually unscathed. (At least, I've only inspected it in the rain in the dark, but there's just a tiny bit cracked beneath the bumper.) You should see her bonnet, though.

I'm knackered. SuperSpouse is just back from a concert some miles away. Time for a spot of supper, then bed.

Next week, things get even more fraught - the carers are on strike at Cello-Boy's hall of residence, so he has to commute to school each day. It could get hairy, trying to ensure everyone is at the right place at the right time. And fulfilling work obligations is merely one of the conundrums to be faced!