Sunday, November 21, 2010

Perpetual tidying and not wasting

Oh, yes, it is perpetual, this domestic tidying. And the randomness of it all: lone baby socks, cardboard toilet roll holders, leaflets, toast crusts and the occasional crushed grape on the carpet. I found a 50 pence piece under the bed and felt the urge to throw it in the bin, just to save me walking down the stairs again to try to find my purse. But of course I didn't. That would have been wasteful to the point of immoral.

I now have three bars of Palmolive soap sitting on the hall unit. The hall unit where everything miscellaneous ends up. I had bought a 4 pack of the soap on a whim, thinking it smelled fresh and alpine. Eh? Rethink - durr, it smells like an explosion in a Magic Tree factory, garish and over-chemically. I am struggling through the first bar and must jettison the others! But where shall they go? Let them not linger for too long in my hallway. Be gone, soaps, but not wasted. Fragrance-free soapery, I open my arms to you again.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Blimmin' facebook

Why, oh why, did I reactivate my Facebook account? I was perfectly happy without it. Positively serene without it. Now I feel a need to check it every day and this irks me. One more thing to check in a long list of daily checks. It's all scrappy and bitty and busy. And I'm too self-conscious to write anything on it, so I just look at everyone's 'news' and comment and then wonder what else I could have spent the time on. Grrr, Facebook. Stop it. Okay, just one more look...

...I think I will cease Facebooking. When it bugs me enough. However, I did love the film about the story behind Facebook, 'The Social Network'. It was cracking. Mike Leigh's latest film, Another Year, was too clunky and hammy for me. Hey, I sound like someone who goes to the cinema often. Twice in six months, maybe. Right, enough trivia. I'm starting to go a bit Facebook-y and I need to do something else instead.

I shall pat myself on the back for doing well while Nice Man is still away round the back end of Europe with his rock and roll band.

Friday, November 05, 2010

'Well, it's a fiat actually...'

I am surprised and bemused by Hugh's fascination with cars and types of cars. At the age of 2, he's starting to get a bit Jeremy Clarkson on me. It started with black taxis. They prompt a joyous exclamation from him each time. 'Black taxi!'

Then I told him a red car was a 'Mini car' and he started identifying Minis everywhere. I tried him with 'Volkswagen', just to see if he could even manage the word, and then he started pointing out Volkswagen Golfs too, with less accuracy, however. Today I heard myself say, 'Well, it's a Fiat actually,' while thinking, how did I get us into this 'trainspotter' zone with motor vehicles? To me a car is a car. Sometimes I feel eco-guilt about having one, so why don't we look at some trees/flowers/goldfish instead?

Still, I take joy in Hugh's joy - whatever he's interested in. I'll enthuse about cars. I already do! 'Broom, broom.' Today was his second birthday and after his bath, I turned off the bedroom light and we looked out at fireworks going off across the city. I felt really moved to think of the moments of dizzy happiness of the last two years.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colds, jet lag and waiting on Mad Men

I thought toddlers and kids got frequent colds, precisely because they are so young and this is the slow construction of their later-to-be-adult immunity. So why do I keep catching all the colds that Hugh and Tess bring to me? I used to get one a year, now it seems like one a month.

So, at last, 'Nice Man', Francis, is home from leg one of the Teenage Fanclub tour - Canada/USA/Japan/Korea. It's great to see him back, even if he has conked out with jet lag for half the day. Ah well, we'll get back to our Mad Men boxed set when we slide on to the same time zone.


Thursday, October 21, 2010


There are days that you pick up the toys, then hoover the carpet. There are other days when you just hoover all the toys to the edge of the carpet. After the kids have gone to bed, you watch TV with a 'flotsam and jetsam' toy-tide lapping round the edge of your living room.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Occupation?!

When the traffic policeman first pulled along side the car, I commented enthusiastically to Hugh, 'Look, a policeman on a bike!' When the policeman informed me that our tax disc had expired and there was a fine, I was considerably less excited. When he took details and asked me my occupation, I replied, 'Full time mother'. In his note book he wrote, 'No Occupation.'

If he set up a police observation unit, he might notice that I am 'occupied' for 12-14 hours a day (and sometimes in the middle of the night) tending to the two Under 2's. Surely he committed some sort of violation himself? Some error in Trade Descriptions?


Monday, September 27, 2010

Today was the day...

...I dragged the sun lounger from the garden into the basement. Then I humpfed the ugly metal fireguard out and back into the living room. I realise 'humpfed' may just be an Irish colloquialism. Or a MacLaverty one. Just like the phrase, 'incandescent with rage.' We use that when we get irked.

Nice Man is off on tour with his rock n' roll band. He's in New York for a few nights. We Skype most days (thank you, Skype, you are great!) and I try to get Hugh to chat. He just says, 'Daddy in a cupboard' and yells for more toast. Although today he sang Twinkle Star and tried to reach out to the screen. Aww.

Meanwhile, now the kids are in bed, I'm listening to my cheesy CD's on Nice Man's stereo without a jot of shame or embarrassment. (PS - I am a poor speller but I always remember that embarrassment has two r's and two s's, 'cause it has an embarrassment of letters. Ha).


Sunday, September 26, 2010


I feel I've left the ol' blog in limbo for quite a while now and I still feel ambivalent about it all. I have so many short blog posts in my head....and then I don't write them. Have I become ridiculously shy after 5 years of blogging? Should I take a sabbatical?

Everyone else does the quick-fire Tweet and Facebook thing. I signed up but I feel I can't keep up. It's so busy. I get even more shy there. You have to butt in if you want to say things.

I'm enjoying Flickr. I am keeping a 'photostream' of the kids here. Maybe that'll do it for a while.

-C x

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


We have a slimline dishwasher that was here when we moved in. The previous owner said she rinsed most things under the tap before she stacked them into the machine. I do the same. Sometimes I wonder is it any less hassle than doing the dishes. Maybe. But the relief comes in knowing that the dishwasher has final responsibility. If there are any random shreds of, well..., Shredded Wheat stuck to the breakfast bowls, it ain't me, babe. Not that I'm ever put off by the odd fleck of oat on a plate. Meat or fish, yeah, but tea stains and random carbs, they're all part of the domestic cycle.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Yes, I know, the ethics of supermarkets are well dodgy, but I had just spent an hour in Asda tonight, buying £97.89 worth of 'stuff,' including loaves of bread reduced to 0.01p ('whoops!') and a pair of black boots for £36 (looked about £80). When the girl had rung everything through the till and packed it all into bags, I had a flashback of Hugh playing with my purse earlier today, pulling out the plastic cards and the 'moneys.'

And, no, of course he didn't put it back in my bag. Of course not. He left it on a corner of the living room carpet, just so I could feel like a feckless dimwit in Asda. And it was one minute to ten and the store was closing and the poor workers had to put it all back on the shelves.

Ah well, the moon was gorgeous when I drove home. Just under a full moon, or just past. I can't tell - if it's waxing or waning. Lovely anyhow.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


These are the last few weeks before I introduce Tess to the joy of baby food, so she's still waking 3 or 4 times a night to drink milk. I'm feeling cumulative tiredness from the broken sleep. I caught a cold and a really husky voice. While reading Hugh his bed time stories I sounded like Bonnie Tyler with the 'drunken' drawl of Dylan Moran.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Marks and Sparks

A friend once commented that Marks and Spencers was full of, 'wives zipping their husbands into wee fawn cardigans'. It made me laugh. I was in M&S yesterday and I saw one school boy standing in his socks and underpants while his mum rustled a pair of polyester school slacks over his pale hips. Not in the changing rooms. On the main floor, close to the wide screen TVs, the bras and the leather sofas. Aww.

I went to Clarks to see if I could get Hugh's feet measured but the wait time was going to be 20 minutes. It was back-to-school-bedlam. I said no way José.


Friday, July 23, 2010


Those first few moments after putting your children to bed at night are bliss. You feel almost drunk and giddy with the prospect of having two hours to yourself.

-C x

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shivery frog rescue

Today was the second day I stumbled across a frog in our garden. (We have no pond and no neighbours with ponds). I go all shivery when I see a frog unexpectedly. Or even expectedly. That slimey pulsating wee torso. Beautiful, yet repulsive too.
So, both times I managed to coax the frogs into a bucket (shiver, shiver) and then took them to Bingham's pond and set them free.

Bingham's pond is not as romantic as it sounds. It is beside a petrol station (with an M&S) and 'The Pond Hotel' (concrete travelodge stylee). However the pond itself is large with many bull rushes, ducks and general pond life. I'm hoping the Kermit guys are happier there. When I take Hugh back there he asks me to 'find f'og' again. Needle in a haystack now, mate.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The compound noun

Today has been the day of the compound noun for Hugh. He was walking round the garden, randomly saying 'bin bag' and 'man cub'.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

My brother: Mange Tout to Tom Jones

There's a programme on BBC1 tonight (Imagine, 10.35pm) featuring the career of Tom Jones. I will probably be in bed, as 10.35pm is way too late for a 5-times-a-night breast feeder (cheers, Tess). I may seem blasé about trying to catch it later on i-player. Will I find the time? I should find the time, as I'm very proud of my brother who directed it.

In childhood, my sister and I used to tease our brother remorselessly. In teenage years, we mainly ignored him (unless we wanted to borrow his Wrangler denim jacket). During his first job, as a kitchen help in a fancy restaurant, he tried to shell the Mange Tout. Our eyes widened. He what?! We witches of Macbeth.

Now, even if I don't catch all his programmes, I still feel proud of him in a warm way. There's a hero-ism in always doing your best. I still remember the boy who went off crab fishing, for whole days (with just a few limpets and some fishing line). I recently found a map of Islay with his child's hand-writing on the sea surrounding the island - 'good', 'okay' and 'very good'. The crab fishing guide for nine year olds.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toaster conflict

Today I saw an advert for a see-through toaster and it was a perfect example of my
everyday conflict about consumerism. I thought -

a) What a genius idea
b) Wouldn't it be great to get one
c) How much? Nope. That's way too much
d) Oh, no! Rich people everywhere will be buying them and throwing out perfectly good toasters and this is not what the environment needs. This is the opposite of what the planet needs. What about our children and grandchildren?

...But, a see-through toaster. Genius. You wouldn't have to strain your neck looking down the slots. You wouldn't have to pop the toast up and down, up and down....a little bit more, a little bit more....okay, slightly too much. Fine, I'll butter it anyway. Hmm, I do love toast.

-C x

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Don't leave the soup on, baby...

Well, we are home from a self-catering week on the island of Mull, where we stayed in this big house. It sleeps ten but we got a last-minute cancellation at a reasonable price.

It might have cost considerably more: we returned from the beach to find the soup burnt dry on the gas, but - phew, phew, Barney McGrew - it was only the soup and not the tasteful barn conversion that burnt to a cinder. Burning down your holiday home is generally not recommended as the best start to a holiday.

We liked the house and the beach, and we even managed to take our wellies off. See photographic evidence below.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shamed out of Lurker-dom

Aww, thanks to blog reader, Hazel, for saying she misses my blog posts. It has spurred my fingers onwards to the 'new post' button.

Well, this is absolutely my favourite time of year. If the seasons are a ballet, this is the highest arc, the ballerina's most spectacular and graceful jump. The trees, the trees! They are falling over themselves in triumphant greenery.

Our darling babies are doing well -and what a love affair we have. I can't stop kissing their chubby necks and sniffing their heads. Tess used to sleep 7 hour stretches and now seems to wake every 2 or 3 hours in the night. But she'll get there. I just have to use patience and logic and everything we learned with Hugh.

I'm researching options for a holiday in Scotland and will report back later.

There seems to be about four thousand snails in our garden. I tried to cull some, but I felt so guilty when their eyes popped up on wee antenna to look around. I filled a bucket with them and they were crawling out, climbing on each other's backs like desperadoes. I had to stop. They're still eating my plants, so who knows what I can do...


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Raging ambivilance towards the Wider World

So, I still can't get online easily. I get wee scraps of time on other peoples' computers - and only at rare intersections when both babies are sleeping and Hugh isn't clambering to play on the 'pewtoo' (his new name for the computer).

I tell myself that it doesn't matter and I don't need to keep up with random online surfing - news, blogs, trivia. Hell, I don't need to communicate with the Wider World! I tell myself it's only a virtual world and the real stuff, the only stuff, is in the 'now'- in the front line of babies laughing, or wailing and needing comfort. And then there's the toast on the floor and the laundry to hang out.

And other times? Well, I'm gasping to spend an hour or two 'floating' online and communing with the Wider World. Yes, indeed Wider World, that's you. What do you mean, you're not listening? What was it I meant to say again?


Thursday, April 08, 2010


We've decided to call her Tess. Full name, Tess Maggie Macdonald. I better stop faffing about online and go and feed her.

By the way, my laptop is still broken so I only get online every few days - so sorry for all the delays in email. I've morphed into a reclusive lactating Luddite. But that's fine, right? She's worth it.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

She's here!

I'm so happy to write that our baby girl was born at 4.01pm on Tuesday 23rd March. I was so surprised by her girl-ness (soothsayers everywhere voted boy) that we hadn't finalised any names. Still flicking through those name books and will let you know more soon. She was 7 lb 3 oz's of gorgeousness after 5 or 6 hours of labour. Phew!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Wait week 40

Well, bambino 2 is officially due this weekend (Sunday 21st March) and, as yet, there are no signs at all. First time birth (with baby Hugh) came like a slow rumble of an earthquake (2 weeks early). I had subtle aches and cramps that built steadily and surely over 2 days and then a whole day and night in the hospital, thinking *when* will this be done? (I'll spare you the vernacular and the sound effects).

It's as if baby two is in no hurry whatsoever. Last week I had a sickness bug and this week I have a heavy cold that makes me feel as if Mike Tyson has beaten me round the head and some strange corporation has stolen all my saliva. I'm actually hoping the labour holds off until I can breathe properly again. Eucalyptus and cough sweets aren't cutting it.

As a special treat, Hugh has broken my laptop. Correction, it broke ('boke') when he slid it from the sofa on to the rug. I thought only juice or milk on the keyboard would kill it, but a gentle flump to the floor has led to it's total demise. Duh. So replacement will have to wait for now. Too big a project to take on while I'm in the the scatty and preoccupied waiting zone.

Technically speaking, I may have to wait until the end of the month - the hospital allows 12 days past Due Date and then they start coming at you with synthetic hormones and plastic aprons. I hope it doesn't come to that. We'll see...

In the meantime, my local playgroup is having a jumble sale tomorrow, so that's my only planned expedition for now. I'll rummage for a bit of home-baking, a few plastic toys or a pot of plum jam.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Week 38

All quiet. No pending signs of labour as yet. Glad that the weather has finally skirted above 10 degrees Celsius and the crocuses (croci?) have peeked out from the garden soil.

Monday, March 01, 2010


In his far-thinking wisdom, Hugh has decided to prepare me for the birth of his sibling by reminding me what lavish fun interrupted sleep can be. With a sudden burst of teething, his normal peaceful nights have gone out the window, leaving me floppy and foggy-brained in front of Cbeebies at 7am. Oh, and it's a shame when that thon Calpol gets all o'er your Orla Kiely pillowcases.


Monday, February 22, 2010

The radio-pop-horoscope game

I am too logical and science-y minded to believe in superstition, but it's funny how the thoughts pop into your mind anyway. When I was a teenager, I used to play the radio-pop-horoscope game: I'd say, right, the next song on the radio will have some predictive resonance for my near future (or, in teenage-speak: the words will tell me if some boy likes me.)

Today I said, right, the next song on the radio will reveal something about the bambino inside. The song that followed? I've got you under my skin. Ah, I see. I'd be okay with metaphorical. I wasn't expecting the literal.

Later I was changing pillowcases and I could only find 3 out of 4 matching ones. I started to think, hmm, what does that mean? Something bad? I had to lasso the frisky pony of my mind and tell it not to be irrational.

I like the names of some of the classes I take Hugh to. We used to go to Mini Music Makers. Now we go to Boogie Babies. Earlier I bought him a heart-shaped helium balloon from a charity shop. He carried it round all day (like Winnie the Pooh) and referred to it as his 'boon'.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Laundry luck in week 36

So, I took a risk and put my 'dry clean only' cream coat in a 40 degree white wash. Feeling cavalier, I threw in my white trainers (sneakers) too. Everything came out fine and clean - the soles of the trainers looked shop-new again. Oh, the small victories of domestic life.

The pregnancy train is pulling into week 36 and I'm willing it on to week 37. Any baby born between week 37 and week 42 is 'full term' within the normal range. The hospital has given me a due date of 21st of March, but I'd be happy if my body was ready any time from March 1st (week 37). Hugh arrived at week 38 (on the same night Barack Obama was winning the US election).

So anyway, dear readers, I am looking after myself and thinking about the month of March.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Pass the croissants...

Yes, it has gradually happened - I've become an infrequent poster. I'm excusing myself on this account. I was amazed to realise the blog has almost been going six years now, so it's allowed a wee rest by the side of the road.

I am week 33 of the pregnancy and, once again, I look like I have a space-hopper up my jumper. 'You look identical to last time,' said a friend, and she is right. I am 'carrying' the same way.

I have to take iron tablets for pregnancy anaemia. The tablets give me an irritable stomach and the instructions recommend avoiding tea and wheat for an hour beforehand and two hours afterwards. I don't think there is a 3 hour compartment of my life (especially my pregnant life) that doesn't involve a sip of tea or a bread product. Ah, bread... I'd be rubbish on an Atkin's diet.

Better get off to bed. More news if I have it. I'll not be too far away.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Toddlers don't do sarcasm

So, Hugh is walking now, or at least toddling. Every so often someone teases him (playfully?) with a stern voice. Today he was considering a mild cry about some minor toy issue and a well-meaning passer-by said in a mock stern voice, 'Come now, no no no. There's no need for tears, young man.' And his wee bottom lip trembled as if he was shamed and now he had to cry his way out of the shame too. Aww. I wonder if people do it to baby boys more than girls.

Meanwhile, the man who sells the Evening Times outside the subway pronounced loudly that, of course I was having another boy. He predicted Hugh correctly so he's obviously an expert in his field.