It’s All About Maxi

Maxi and Midi look both ways whilst crossing the road

Today seemed to be all about my eldest.

We all went down into the village to buy some odds and sods and get some “Fresh Air”.  As Maxi will be starting Primary 1 at the local school in the summer and Midi will be starting the pre-school, I keep talking about the place and the things we’ll need to do, eg buy school uniforms <gulp> and practice crossing the road.
I don’t trust Midi to cross the road unless I have her in a headlock.  Maxi, however, has been slowly, slowly let off the leash and can now be trusted to cross the road herself (so long as I’m close enough to dive out and drag her back if she messes up her judgement).
They’re both pretty good about stopping, looking all around and listening, but when they cross they just shake their heads to and fro (a la Dr Who End of Time human changeover shaking head thing) rather than properly look for other cars.
Today’s lesson was all about crossing little roads and watching out for cars turning off the main road.  I really have to watch what I say, because it all gets parroted: a car indicated very late before turning in front of Maxi, who tutted and declared that the driver was “obviously very old and very, very stupid.  Hmph!”
Speaking of which, there I was walking down the road – I was wearing a bright red coat, with a 5 year old alongside me dressed in neon pink, a double buggy in apple green, 2 kids inside dressed in purple and bright yellow.  I guess you could say that we embrace colour in our household.  Anyway, I watched a woman reverse her car across a junction, nearly mount the pavement beside me, all so she could get close enough to the fag and chocolate shop without walking too far.  She opened her car door and nearly smacked it into Midi’s face.  Luckily I was alert to the possibility that she might do this, based on her erratic driving, so stopped dead as the door lurched open.  “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you there!” she said as she lumbered into the shop.  I’d love to tell you that I replied, “If your need for chocolate blinds you to the sight of us colourful lot, then you should be off the road and at a decent optician, you careless bint!”  Of course I didn’t.  I glared in that very English way I learned from 17 years in the country and said icily, “That’s OK”.  My God, I bet she was cut to the quick.  Not.  Or maybe I should have just kicked her in the shins?  Silly cow.
And breathe.
I made summer fruit cheesecake for dinner because I’m greedy we needed a cheer up.  Maxi licked her lips and sighed, “Ooooh Mummy, I love your cheesecake all the way to the end of the Universe and back!”  I smiled.  “But I only love you to the Moon and back.  But that’s still an awful lot!” she reassured me as my smile became a tad fixed.
I asked the little minx to tidy up her PlayDough so I could get dinner on the table.  After 10 minutes, I asked her to hurry up.  “I’ve only got 2 hands, Mummy,” she said calmly and reasonably like Captain Logic: “One to hold the packet and one to put the bits in.  I can’t go any faster”.  How could I not laugh?
Tonight was Parents Evening at nursery.  I left with a tear in my eye, because I spent half an hour reading Maxi’s and Midi’s files.  On one of Midi’s evidence boxes, a teacher had noted, ‘L was quietly drawing. I asked her what it was. “I drawing Mummy!” she said’.  So she thinks of me even when I’m not there?!  Swoon!  All those pictures that she draws at nursery and I ask her what they are, she always replies, “You, Mummy!”  I assumed she says that to everyone.  Now I’m thinking it may be true.  Awwwwww.
Maxi, meanwhile, “talked of the recycling done at home”, had “excellent knowledge of planets and space”, “plants” and “had an opportunity to try new foods as part of our learning about other cultures – P had already tried them all”.  That’s my girl!  With that, and her learning to spot ‘mature CBs’, we’ll get her labelled precocious, yet.  Though (a) she can say ‘cumulonimbus’ no problem at all, but obviously thinks CBs is funny, and (b) wish I’d been watching for them today, then I might not have got 4 washing loads absolutely drenched in the sudden (but predictable) downpour.
In other news:
Mini has cut her 4th tooth definitely (her upper right incisor) and by golly it’s a big beast.  And Maxi learned to knit.  I’m so proud!  But I need to do that as a separate post.

Mini Milestones

Our cheekiest minx has had a brain upgrade these past few days.

She cut her 4th tooth yesterday – her upper right incisor.  So soon she’ll no longer look like Fang.  The 2 teeth either side of it are microns below the surface.

Remember I said I was in denial about her walking?  Well, she walked 3 definite steps towards her beloved eldest sister, Maxi Minx, on Saturday.  Then 7 little tiny steps yesterday.  Today she screeched and shouted every time she stood unaided and I wasn’t watching.  When I turned round, she’d smile winningly and start to teeter forward a step or 2.  Obviously she is becoming a little applause junkie!  I don’t mind – I find it endearing that mine and The boss’s approval and attention are so important to her.

I was updating Mini’s little My Baby’s Journal book with how I felt about her walking, and a big blank paragraph hit me: “I first pointed when…”  Crikey!  I’d never noticed her pointing before!  She kind of waves in the general direction of things, but that’s it.  Today, though, she made up for it, pointing at everything and decisively declaring: “At!”  It’s such a ladylike little point, unlike Midi Minx’s thuggy jab-point with her middle finger: she holds her hands in a perfect little EMP hand gesture.

While waiting 45 minutes for the car that was “just going to be another 15 or 20 minutes” (bloody garages…), me and Mini had a lovely play and chat.  At home I have too many distractions and things I have to be getting on with; when her sisters are home, I’m too busy with them.  So it was really wonderful just to ‘be’ with my baby.  She was really working her cuteness and trying so hard to make me laugh.  She is as obsessed with hats as Maxi Minx was mad about shoes at the same age.  Maxi’s 3rd word was “shoe”; Mini’s 3rd word is “hat”.  Well, ‘at.  She pats her head to sign ‘hat’ and had a lot of fun hauling her sunhat on, off, behind her head, on my head, trying to insert it in my ears…  And tonight she thoughtfully repeated, “‘at. ‘at. ‘at”, comparing her sunhat and Daisy the Cat.  She kept trying to copy my overly-enunciated Hhhhhhhattttt.  Cccattttt.  And she’s pretty close to saying her sister Midi’s (real) name, to Midi’s delight.

Orkney Mainland Sightseeing

Thank goodness for blog dashboards, so I can add to this post in draft form in snips and bits over the past month.  Otherwise it’d never get written.  I’ve just been busy with the kids, knitting, my first craft fair, designing a website and us all being ill.

ANYway… Sightseeing on Orkney!

Wow, what an island the Orkney Mainland is!  I thought it would be full of boring things.  I mean, bimbling around ruins generally isn’t my idea of fun.  Example, Skara Brae: it’s interesting to look into a hole in the ground and see all these organised rocks and think, “Gosh, weren’t people back then really clever?” for a few minutes.  Whereas if you’re 5, it’s pretty boring.  To be brutally honest.

rainbow Broch of Gurness Orkney Islands

Rainbow onto Mini Minx's head; the rest of us just got wet.

I thought the Broch of Gurness would be the same.  Oh no!  Maxi and Midi were positively encouraged to go chasing around and over and under and through and in and out of it.  And chasing around after them really made the site interesting to me.  I mean, it’s hard not to get enthusiastic when your kids are spotting all kinds of tiny holes and chimneys and mazes.  It bucketed with rain suddenly and we all got soaked, but the intense double rainbow lifted all our spirits (there’s something really magical about rainbows!)

After counting windmills (I never knew Midi was so good at counting – I was really impressed), we drove round the coast to catch the rest of the sights.  Let me backtrack a little: we started off in Kirkwall, up the hill to Finstown, then screeched off a right to do an anti-clockwise circuit along the coast, past an old-fashioned doocot (dovecote?), towards the Brough of Birsay.

Brough of Birsay- we only had to wait an hour for the tide to drop enough to walk over to the island along the causeway. The nice man at the Broch told us the times of low tide, so knew when to pitch up, and that we’d have enough time to see the Earl’s Palace.  At first glance, to my uncultured eyes it *looked* like a boring old ruin, till we let the minxes loose.  Midi was fearful of enclosed spaces, but Maxi liked spotting chimneys and staircases and hiding in old fireplaces.  Again, her excitement was so infectious.

Skara Brae Bay of Skaill

Bay of Skaill behind Skara Brae

We thought the girls would be knocked out by Skara Brae, the 5000 year old village.  Maxi liked the fact that it had stone beds and cupboards, but otherwise she wasn’t that impressed because she could only walk along the path and look.  The woman at the ticket office warned her to watch out for Vikings, which spooked the hell out of my little 4 year old <tut, tut>.  The path from the ticket office to the village is edged with little stones marking out big occasions in human history, with the distances between them proportional to the time lapse.  Blimey, it really gets across just how long ago 5000 years was!

Hole O Rowe

Pic of Hole O'Rowe gatecrashed by some minxes

Walking back to the car, the Bay of Skaill right below the village beckoned enticingly in the sunlight.  Well, we had to do another beautiful beach!  The minxes built sandcastles and I walked along it to get a better view of the natural arch, the Hole O’ Rowe.  The best spot to see it was halfway along (funny old thing, right below the only house in sight).

From there we cut across to the:

Ring of Brodgar Orkney IslandsRing of Brodgar, huge circle

Standing Stones of Stenness Orkney IslandsStanding Stones of Stenness, small circle

Everyone was too tired to get out and look, so we put kids’ music on the CD player and did a windscreen tour down to the south and back anticlockwise to Kirkwall, before going for dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day.  The meal was fine, but I must admit I had the most fun that day just knocking about with the family.

The next day after a brilliant breakfast of local produce (all supplied by Sheila of Innisgarth), we went straight to Maeshowe.  Walking in, I wasn’t that impressed.  Was I expecting lightshows and Disney?  But the man doing the guided tour was absolutely brilliant.  He was funny and interesting.  I loved the Viking graffiti; Maxi liked looking at all the places to hide in; Midi liked getting a big reassuring Mummy cuddle till it was time to go out into the light again.

After Maeshowe, we drove to Quoyer Viewpoint, right by the loch.  We sat in the car and ate our sandwiches and treats, watching geese being blown sideways with the backdrop of the stone circles and standing stones.

Brough of Birsay

Midi Minx pretending to be a tank commander, Brough of Birsay

Talking of standing stones, the tourist guide tells us that the Stone O’ Quoybune is a random standing stone that legend says goes to the nearby loch for a drink every New Year.  I don’t know about that one, but everywhere you look there are random standing stones, not just at the top of hills.

The weather definitely turned, so as it started to rain heavily we decided to drive back home to mooch round Kirkwall for a bit.  We stopped at the Cuween Chambered Cairn, though.  Mini Minx needed a feed and a sleep and it was bucketing down (the only bad weather our whole trip), so The Boss and elder 2 minxes walked up the hill to go explore.  Midi absolutely refused to go into the dark, so she was delivered back to me, and our newly-intrepid Maxi Minx led her Daddy into the pitch black chamber.  They had an absolute hoot of a time.

Even though we only had 1 and a half days to sightsee round Orkney (!), with 3 little girls who got tired quickly, we felt like we had enough time to do what was important to us.  We saw what we really wanted to see and there’s still plenty to fill another fortnight’s holiday hopefully next year (and more).  But we also had time to just amble round some beaches, too, digging sandcastles (Midi), admiring seashells (Maxi) and eating sand (Mini).  We also had a lot of fun driving around singing silly made-up songs (everyone except The Boss), and reading out roadsigns and map names and sniggering (ok that was me.  Eg Twatt and Greeny.  I’m immature.  I know).

Grouchus Maximus

I suspected it was going to be a rough day when Mini Minx woke me at 5.30am and I couldn’t get her to sleep.  I *knew* it was going to be a rough day when the entire family had yelled at Midi Minx for tormenting / hitting / choking them, before 6am.

Mini’s top 3 teeth are finally cutting through, but all at once.  I think one’s coming in perpendicular to the right direction, though.  They’re causing her so much pain, poor baby, but thankfully Nurofen is working pretty well.  As is plenty of Cheerios.  She saw Midi eating it this morning and indicated delicately that she also wished to partake of this delicacy (ie she screeched, bared her gums, wrinkled her nose, swiped her own porridge off the table, flung her spoon at the window, threw herself back in her high-chair damn near giving herself whiplash, and roared).  Hungry baby – she ate 5 handfuls of the stuff, one after the other.  Every time her bowl emptied, she bashed it on the table, yelling in time with each clatter.  I can see I’m going to have problems teaching this one ‘please’ and ‘thank you’…

Nursery phoned me at 9.40am to tell me that there was a Liaison Committee (kind of like a mini Board of Governors) meeting at 10am.  Gosh, if I drop the baby on the floor, abandon the girls and jump in the car right this second, I’ll still be late.  Great amount of notice – well done.  Once upon a time I chaired the Committee, but now that I’m a stay-at-home mum, I’m just the Parent Rep.  Who doesn’t get told about the meetings.  Hmmmm… I wonder if the new Chair is a little intimidated by me?  Through an intermediary she claimed to have emailed me through work about the meeting – right, that’ll be the work email that was turned off over a year ago?  Maybe she’ll wet her pants if I give her a call tomorrow to find out why her meeting prep is so appalling?  Depends how evil I’m feeling.

I took the girls with me when I went to vote.  A nice policeman in a stab vest (?? maybe they’d had reports that the local WI members were going to attack anyone not voting for A Very Nice Man) held the door open for us to get out.  Or maybe he was ushering us out – Maxi does ask a lot of questions…

I’m sure I’ve already explained about the local primary school: Maxi starts there in August and I requested Midi a place there in the pre-school nursery, so that both girls start at the same time.  I requested morning sessions for Midi (both would start at 9am, I’d pick up Midi at 11.30am, then Maxi at 2.35pm.  Easy!)  They gave me afternoon sessions.  So here’s how it’ll work:

  • Get all girls up and out the door to walk Maxi to school for 9am
  • Walk back
  • Do something useful for 2 hours
  • Walk Midi and Mini so Midi can start at 12.35pm
  • Walk back
  • Do something useful for an hour
  • Walk back to pick up Maxi at 2.35pm (finishing time for the next 3 years)
  • Hang around with Mini and Maxi outside in the hail, rain, ice and snow for half an hour (no shelters and not allowed inside)
  • Pick up an exhausted Midi at 3.05pm
  • Walk back

Bonkers.  Bloody bonkers!  Apparently their policy is to put the 4 year old pre-schoolers in the morning sessions and the 3 year old pre-schoolers in the afternoon sessions.  Um, call me old-fashioned, but don’t 3 year olds get tired faster than 4 year olds?  Or do they think that my 3 year old will have a lie-in and spend all morning in bed, conserving her energy for nursery?  Do they think I have the time to spend 2 hours total every day walking up and down a bloody hill, plus waiting around?  Or am I the very first parent to have a kid in primary 1, 2 or 3 with a child in nursery, too?  Must be, eh?  I’m so cross because the afternoon sessions only started a year or 2 ago.  I think I really need to go have a chat with the headmaster to find out what the reasoning behind those hours was and how they allocate the kids.  Perhaps once I’m educated in their rationale I will be more understanding.  (Aye, right!)

Ballet this afternoon was a trial.  Me and Mini got soaked in the downpour, so both of us wailed a bit.  Midi decided to face plant on the floor and waggle her bum at her teacher rather than go in and dance.  After studiously ignoring her wails for “A Mummy Higgle!!” I insisted she change out her ballet dress and slippers and put normal clothes on.  I got some sniffy looks from some other mums at my hard-heartedness, but as I tell Midi and Mini every single day, I don’t do tantrums.

The woman at the post office marvelled at my ability to cope with all 3 girls.  As the double buggy can only just get in the door and no further, I had them all in one spot by the shop-counter doing various ‘jobs’ while I was at the other end of the shop, posting parcels (“Mini, you sleep.  Midi, you’re in charge of sitting down so that baby R stays in her seat and can’t topple out. Maxi, you’re in charge of watching Midi and Mini sitting down.  If they or you are naughty, shout me over!”).  They were good till I came over, mainly because I kept leaning over and pointing a threatening finger at Midi.  “You’re so calm and laid back with them!” she praised me.  My jaw dropped and I shook my head dumbly.  “It’s all a big act!” I admitted.

Despite me and Midi seriously falling out numerous times through the afternoon, she still only wanted cuddles from me, every 15 minutes all bloody night till I went to bed.  Even when I had a bath to wind down enough to sleep.  The problem was, so did Mini.  She wouldn’t go to The Boss at all, wanting to snuggle on my chest and weep on my shoulder.  I can’t wait for those horrible teeth to cut through – I tried rubbing her gums and she screeched in agony, so back to the Nurofen and Bonjela it is.

Voting For 5 Year Olds

Trout: “P, do you remember why grown-ups vote?”

Maxi Minx: “Yep, they get bits of paper and put x’s on them, and that’s how they decide who the boss is going to be”

Trout (fairly impressed): “Yeah.  Grown-ups put an x next to the name of the person they want to be their boss, to help us all decide important things.”

Maxi, sniffing: “It smells like wood here”

Trout: “That’s because we’re in a wooden booth.  Grown-ups vote in here to keep what they vote secret.  It’s really important that it’s in secret because then they’ll vote for what they really, really think”

Maxi: “Who did you vote for, Mummy?  What does that word say?”

Trout: “Never you mind!  That’s a secret!” 

… (point out ballot boxes, as I get out the door I explain what happens next, then more blah and explanations about why we’re also voting for AV or FPTP)

Trout: “So you’ve been a really good, patient girl while I voted.  Would you like to choose either a chocolate Freddo or a caramel Freddo as a treat?”

Maxi: “That has to be a secret, Mummy”

Out-minxed, again.

Contents Insurance Geniuses

I had to make this a separate post from the previous one because it’s a teeny, tiny bit of a rant…

So, The Boss dropped our camera in the sea.  “You moron!” I kindly labelled him.  He called the insurance company.  They obviously agreed with me, because they said that they would give us £71.99 after our £100 excess had been paid.

Right… so let me paraphrase: we phone up to make a claim, they say “Oh dear.  Please give us £28.01.  And your insurance will cost about £25 more next year.  Thank you, goodbye.”

Am I losing the plot, or something?  Do they think we’re stupid?  I’m Glaswegian, for goodness’ sake, by age 4 I knew when the ice-cream man was short-changing me.  At what point do you think the insurance company could have said, “It’s not worth making a claim, you’ll lose money.  Bad luck.  Use a wrist strap next time”?

Thieving trickster sods.

Don’t mind me, I just hate insurers.

The Trout’s New Camera

In my last post I wrote that our lovely camera wasn’t resting or shocked or sleeping, but was, in fact, dead.  Being in the sea shorted-out the battery and the level of sand-encrusting certainly stopped me even trying to resurrect it.  We left the rinsed card to dry out for over 24 hours, hoped and wished and with great interpidation plugged it into the laptop card reader.  And…


broken pebble artAnd we got every single photo and video!  Hooray!  I was so overjoyed I cried a bit (but don’t tell anyone – I’ve got a reputation to uphold).  The photos weren’t anything spectacular, but they’re very precious to me: Midi Minx with her first ever facepaint (she was a lion; how appropriate).  Mini Minx looking miniscule and cute.  Me looking not bad for a 40 year old grump.  Maxi Minx’s mermaid.  The Boss’s pebble art.  (OK, the lenticularis looked pale and washed out, but hey-ho, that’s clouds for you).  And I think I’ll stick to posting cute pics of the girls on Facebook, but will add some 2 anonymous pics from the castaway card.

mermaid collage So we had to get a new camera, and as I said, the Panasonic TZ range seemed most recommended.  Online research and much comparing and hair-pulling, and I decided that the TZ8 was probably the absolute best for us, followed by the TZ7 then maybe the TZ10 (though it had far more features than we needed or wanted).  The more recent models were just too gimmicky for me, as I don’t take enough videos to justify it.

I found some great deals online, but marched off to the local dealer yesterday to test it out.  Luckily they were happy for me to really fiddle around with the camera, and Mini Minx was happy to model her cuteness, even when I put the lens within licking distance.  Oh boy, can it cope with close-ups!  But the real test was how it could cope with my knitting.

I’ve not really mentioned my wee business Rainbow Knits, other than a single hyperlink.  Ok, here’s a second,  I do baby bootees in the brightest rainbow colours I can find – every shade has to make my heart sing.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that cameras can cope with each individual colour, but not all 6 together.  Example, the orange and yellow will look the same, or the royal purple will come out blue, or the red will wash everything else out.  I’ve only managed photographing it with much trial and error and cursing up till now.  Anyone got any tips or advice for me? 

Anyway I went armed with the brightest, stripiest bootee I’ve done, so bright it’s eye-popping.  And the camera couldn’t cope.  We tried messing with the white balance, footering with the manual settings, everything.  I tried other cameras in the TZ range.  I tried other cameras!  The assistant took the camera and my bootee outdoors into the shade and took more photos.

Having had a lovelyhour trying out every camera in the store, I was happy that the TZ8 was definitely the one for me, and I think because I wanted it so much, I flanneled about how I could try it out under strong halogen lights at home, and if it still couldn’t cope with the colours, I’d return it the same day, pristine.  And amazingly, they agreed! (though they wouldn’t do any further discounts).  Even more amazingly, the halogen treatment worked – it  picks up the colours enough for me to live with, better than the old camera.

The Boss had a footer with it last night and kept smiling.  I caught him stroking it, lovingly.  I’m glad I made him see sense that I had the better shortlist of cameras 😉

Angry Old Trout

The Boss (ha!) has been in Coventry for 6 hours now.  Only a penitent phonecall a few minutes ago got him out the dog-house.

Today was yet another gorgeously sunny day, so we decided to pack yet another picnic, and hit yet another beach.  Roseisle beach, this time, and walk as far west as Midi’s little legs would take her, towards the direction I last saw dolphins.  We had loads of sausages at their Use By date and The Boss had found an old disposable barbeque in the garage, from back in pre-kids days when we spent every single weekend out camping, climbing, walking and biking.  We’d buy them el-cheapo in their 10s from France on climbing trips.  Anyway, our last family picnic till next weekend promised to be a good ‘un.

Everyone bar Maxi Minx was tired from pants sleep – Midi woke me at 6.30am climbing into my bed.  I’m glad I caught her because she’d wet herself.  We just got up rather than slept on.  Mistake!

The picnic was lovely, with all of us scoffing sausage sandwiches in a pretty secluded part of the beach, away from the crowds (my God, there must have been about 50 people on the entire beach on a sunny bank holiday – it was rammed!) and their rubbish and dog poo.  Mini Minx dunked her breadsticks in the sand and sucked it off thoughtfully.  She’s cutting those 2 enormous top teeth, so I guess rubbing it into those inflamed gums helped ease the pain.  Either that, or she’s bonkers.

Maxi Minx, ever the artist, quickly gave up making sand angels and started making a collage of a mermaid.  It was over 6ft long, and she drew the outline with her hands, then ‘coloured in’ the tail with hundreds of pebbles and seaweed, with a discarded bit of rope to form the fish tail end; seashells made up a kind of bikini; a string of barnacles and baby shellfish strung out in a crusty kind of rope formed the necklace; she found 2 matching mussel shells with attached barnacles for earrings, and some plain mussel shells made up the pendant parts of the necklace; different types of seaweed made up the hair, but it was carefully arranged symmetrically and draped purposefully.  I describe it in so much detail because (a) I was agog and amazed at my little 5 year old’s precision, ever-present drive to create art, and sheer prettiness of it, and (b) the beautiful photos and the video I took of it with Maxi explaining all the different bits are gone forever.

The Boss dropped the camera in the sea and lost it.

I was nearly sick when I found out.  Losing the video cut me most, followed by the photos of the mermaid.  Then I remembered all the lovely portrait shots we’d taken of the kids all day.  And yesterday, I caught the most amazing lenticular clouds, in a beautiful 4 hooped wave.  And all the shots from the Theme Day.  Baby Mini changes so much so quickly that I worry being without a camera for a few days means that I’ll lose special memories (well, photos serve as my memory these days).  And she’s about to take her first steps…

I know he didn’t actually set out to drop the camera in the sea.  But he tried to blame the camera loss on me, till I reminded him that I’d passed the camera back so he could take some ‘wet’ shots of an arty piece of stone arranging he’d done at the water’s edge.  We both searched the edge of the water for around an hour, trying to calculate where the receding tide might have dragged it, in vain.

I glowered for hours.  I’m the kind of person who’d rescue photographs and diaries from a burning building, but abandon purses, wallets and phones. (Do I really need to say I’d rescue the kids first?  No.  Thought not.  Kind of obvious, eh?).  I really grieved for the lost pictures.  I know it’s silly, but I did.

Tonight he went off for a cycle ride after the kids went to bed.  I wasn’t all that surprised to find that he’d gone back to Roseisle beach, and had actually *found* the camera!  It was out at almost the low-tide bit.  He phoned to tell me the good news and apologise.  (‘Good’ in that I could stop tormenting myself with the possibility that it was lying on sand, ready to pick up and use but still lost.  Now at least I know that it did fall in the sea and get trashed and we’ll need to buy a replacement bloody pronto).  I stopped sulking and accepted that accidents happen.  I suspect that the camera will never be resurrected, but I have a ridiculously optimistic dream that rinsing the photo card in clean water and leaving it to dry for a few days might, just might, let me read off some photos?  We’ll see.

So.  Now to replace it.  If I could just buy the same one, I would, but I can’t find anywhere that still sells the 6 year old FinePix F10.  Many friends are recommending the Panasonic TZ range.  I’ve started comparing and am getting a bit lost.  I don’t want something all-singing and dancing.  I just want to be able to do great, sharp extreme close-ups of knitting, flowers and children, clear photos of clouds and children action-shots, and be able to take the odd video (not necessarily in HD).  But I’m being seduced by the possibility of better and better images as you up the price range… Argh!  Och, I have a realistic short-list of 3.  I think I’ll make The Boss feel useful and task him with deciding on a replacement tonight.  If he picks one on my short-list, we’ll just get that.  If he doesn’t… well, I’m sure I’ll make him see sense.

Scorcher Sunday

And another beautiful day dawned on the gorgeous Moray Firth.  I watched with very, very tired eyes…

Mini cried and fed from midnight through till 2am.  Yawn.  Then at 6am, I woke up with Midi in bed beside me.  As last night was the first night Midi didn’t wear a night-time nappy (“I a big girl; I no wear nappies no more”, she’d scoffed) I quickly checked the seat of her pyjama pants in dread.  Yep, clammy and damp.  I think that was worse than soaking wet.  Had she been cuddled up beside me for seconds or hours?

I levitated out of bed (honest) and found her own bed-clothes had been sodden but were now half-dry.  Great.  So that’d be 2 beds to change, then.  She cried pitifully as I washed her down in the bath and reassured her it was all ok, and never mind.  She asked for a nappy, but I feigned ignorance of where silly Daddy had hidden them.

At 8am The Boss insisted I have a coffee and get up.  Grooooooo…

My short-term memory has been shot a long time now, from long-term effects of not enough sleep.  Today I noticed that I couldn’t keep a thought in my head past any distractions.  Example, I’d go to ask The Boss something important and en-route to going to him to ask, I’d see a broken toy, pick it up and zzzap, I’d forgotten.  I’d remember that I needed to remember something, but that was it.  If you saw the effects The Silence had on people in Dr Who Series 6 Episodes 1 and 2, you’ll know what I mean.  Maybe Steven Moffat is as sleep-deprived as me.

Anyway.  Today I was determined to get the girls into a proper sleep cycle, so that would involve lots of outdoors, lots of sunshine, and lots of food.  We went to the Forres Theme Day and had a shamble around the vintage cars on show.  I’m just not into cars (they have an engine, 4 wheels and get you, your family and all your stuff from A to B), but the girls liked looking at the ‘shinies’ and the steam engines.  They also liked the ice-cream, donuts and face-painter.  The face painter remembered Maxi from a kid’s birthday party they were both at a few months ago – Maxi Minx (and I) were very impressed.  As were the girls at being made up to look like a Unicorn and a Lion.  Do I really need to tell you who was who?!  I moderated my constant call of: “Come and hold Mummy’s hand. Right. This. Instant!” to “Give me your hoof/paw – let’s go scare people”.

A half-hit was the bouncy castle.  Midi wanted to go on it, but Maxi didn’t.  She was still scarred from last summer not being allowed to go on a bouncy castle because she was wearing face-paint.  The bouncy castle owner had been very rough about it, waiting until Maxi had taken her shoes off and had already set foot on the castle entrance.  The fete organiser got very angry with him, whilst I placated a sobbing Maxi with a promise that she could have more face-paint after she’d had a good time bouncing around, but I remember the man’s rudeness and brusqueness really tarnished Maxi’s day.  Anyway, lo and behold, it was the same bloke.  Again, too busy yapping with another old man to pay any attention to his customers.  After a bit of encouragement, Midi bounced around, only to have the man try to roust her out with all the other kids after just a few minutes fun.  I ignored him, as did Midi.  He shouted and whistled at her like she was a dog.  Same rudeness, same curtness: “You – girl!  Off now!”  I yelled back: “I don’t think so!  Your sign says it’s for 8 minutes – she’s only had 4 minutes.  She’s staying on”.  He came over with his big stop watch and quietly said, “I’m not arguing with you, so I’ll give her another few minutes.”  I growled: “You’ll give her another 4 minutes, like we paid for”.  And by God, he called her off 4 minutes later, to the second.  What a shame he didn’t call it early – I was spoiling for a noisy fight with the old, smelly thief.  Instead I called Midi and she bounded off quite happily.  Avoid the pink cow-shaped bouncy castle in the Moray area!

After more donuts (oops, they just seemed to fall into our hands, all hot and juicy and sugary…) we had a picnic at the edge of the park.  Mini showed off her pretty pink and lace dress, Midi and Maxi roared / neighed at passers-by.  A half hour at the swing park, then boring, boring food shopping.  As Mini had fallen asleep in a comfy back-wrap carry, I opted to let her sleep and walk ahead and meet the car-bound family at the supermarket.  I forgot how far away it was  – only 15 mins walk or so, but a long time for 2 wee girls to wait on their mummy and sister.  How could I forget?  Lack of sleep!  It only hit me when I got to the main road.  Doh.

The other nice event of today: Mini Minx was waggling her arms and banging some cups at me, standing proudly.  So I held out my arms and urged her on.  She took 1 and a half steps into my proud hug.  I’m not convinced it counts as her first steps, though, but they’re definitely not far away.  (Me?  Not wanting my baby to grow up?  Surely not.  Aye ok: rumbled!)

So, Midi is off to bed with no nappy again.  I wonder what time I’ll be awoken by Her Sogginess tonight, then?

Sunny Saturday

The bluebells are out!  Hooray!  See ‘May’ on my ‘A Year on the Moray Firth’ page.  But here’s another photo, because I can’t resist:


Today dawned sunny and gorgeous and I woke up in a very satisfied mood because I finally whipped my new website into submission, through a mix of sheer bloody-mindedness, dropping my standards of how I wanted it to look and perform, and just not including the stuff that I miserably failed to get working.  Like some payment gateways… ahem.  Anyway, it’s if you like vibrant baby knits.

So, we all ate a huge breakfast (even Miss Fusspot Maxi Minx), I hung out a washing (don’t I always?  I canny sneeze without hanging out a washing first), we packed half the car boot (3 little kids need a lot of changes of clothes, food, nappies and mini first aid kit) and off we went to Elgin Oak Wood.

We weren’t disappointed!  I printed out some hunt sheets of things for the kids to spot in the woods from the Nature Detectives website.  So, a sheet of different leaves; a sheet of woodland flowers; 2 sheets of creatures and flowers and trees of things you find in the woods.  I thought the kids might still be a bit young for it, but not at all, they loved really looking at things and were elated at spotting a ‘find’.  And it helped that we spotted virtually everything on the sheets (except for an owl).

The last ‘spot’ was a spider.  Midi the Previously-Fearless suddenly announced that she didn’t like spiders and she was scared of them.  Eh?  Who’s she been listening to?  I used to let spiders run about in my hair to freak out my little sister (I was a horrible child), and even Maxi has learned to quite like them because ‘they eat dirty flies’.  Though she’s still a bit nervous about cobwebs.  Anyway, I found one in a web, eating a fly just as big as itself.  The Boss decided to gross out the girls by explaining how spiders eat their prey.  Maxi was obviously paying attention because she decided to plop her straw into a tomato that she had in her picnic lunch later and suck out the insides.  And it worked!  As I giggled, amazed, she proudly announced: “This is my Straw-amatic Juicer Sucker-Upper!”  Yeeeeeeeessss…maybe need to work on the catchy titles before you make a fortune selling your inventions, darling.

The walk through the woods was great fun because Mini snuggled in to the back of my neck and fell asleep, and Maxi and Midi were actually nice to each other, sharing Smarties and seemed like they enjoyed the nature…well, ‘lesson’, really!  Maxi even rummaged in her mini Smartie packet for a pink one especially to replace the pink one Midi dropped.  Awwwww!  Though she’d be mortified if she thought anyone had noticed.  The only downer was The Boss trying to track down why a bad smell seemed to be getting closer and closer (yet I couldn’t smell it), only to discover that it was dog poo smeared from Midi’s sandals onto his rucksack strap, right under his nose.  And his teeshirt.  Yuck.  Bloody irresponsible dog owners.  I guess he’ll never let Midi ride on his shoulders without checking her again.

We let the girls chase round a swingpark to properly tire them out.  It worked – while Midi snored in an afternoon nap, me and Maxi did a bit of mother-daughter brainwashingbonding in the garden: hanging out (yet more) washings, lots of weeding, tons of sowing (peas, beetroot, flowers) and watering.  I liked the watering best: while I had a hosepipe in my hand (it’s ok, I’m in the very N of Scotland, we don’t get hosepipe bans here), I decided to hose off some seagull poo off the car.  (Seagull poo?  Holy schamoley, I’d hate to see the size of seagull that sprayed the half-alive fish over the side of the car – more like a bloody pteradactyl).  Then because I was hosing the car and the water was bouncing off in a spray, I decided to arc some off to show Maxi and Midi a rainbow.  Then because they were giggling so much, I decided to ‘accidentally’ splash them with a bit of water.  Then a lot of water.  Then I was running after 2 shrieking, drenched little girls, who retaliated with wet, soggy cuddles and splashes (attagirls – never give up, even when you have no apparent weaponry!)

Seeds: we finally got the beetroot in the bed with the potatoes and garlic, and got a row of peas in.  And marigolds in between the broad beans, just for the hell of it (if it works, the colours will be lovely).  Then I found the seeds I collected from the weeds growing in the garden of our last house and let Maxi and Midi sprinkle them at will everywhere.  Although the flowers are pretty (and I don’t know their name and can’t find a link on t’interweb), they’re nothing special.  They just remind me of a very happy home and a generally joyful 2 years.