Things to Be Grateful For, Part 1

My friend AW nominated me on the current FB theme doing the rounds: list 3 things you’re grateful for, for 5 days. Well, I thought I’d be a bit more efficient than usual and join it with a blog post. And be awkward: I’m going to do 5 things for 3 days.

Local Library We have a brilliant little library in a room at the local school. It’s only open a few hours a week, and is only 2 minutes walk from home. So over the summer we’ve been in 2 and sometimes all 3 days a week that it’s open. The librarian, C, is very welcoming and helpful. Right now, Midi is in 7th Heaven because there were 4 books about owls on display. She read them overnight from when she got them yesterday, and returned them today. She earned another prize on the library Summer Reading Challenge and chose a green ruler/calculator, which she promptly gave to her Daddy to ‘help you draw pipes at work’. Awwwwww!


Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Family Fun After the success of last week, we went to Stonehaven Open Air Pool again, meeting up with The Boss as soon as he’d finished work. It was right on the verge of being a bit too cold, but it’s still a lovely luxury to bob around in clean, warm seawater after 6pm!

Lovely Strange Kids Maxi bottled out of going down the big slide at the pool twice last week. This week she bottled it once, managed it with an almighty scream on the next try (hooray!!!!) and backed down on the 3rd attempt. I expected the kids waiting in the queue each time to get impatient with her as she wavered at the top for literally 4 or 5 minutes each time. Not one little bit. The Boss said that one boy asked understandingly, “Ah, is it her first time?” The other kids offered advice and encouragement, but (crucially) weren’t pushy or over-boisterous. They waited so patiently: no arm-folding, sighing, eye-rolling. When she walked back down the steps, they said, “Next time!” Us adults generally aren’t anywhere as understanding.


Ice-cream from Aunty Betty's. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Ice-cream from Aunty Betty’s. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Being Skint When every penny counts, you really appreciate the big blow-outs. Tonight after swimming we treated ourselves to fish and chips from The Bay, Stonehaven. Juicy fish, onion rings that actually melt in your mouth with a delicate crunch, and super-posh San Pellegrino fizzy grapefruit. Eaten by the sea-front, in the summer evening sunshine. Followed by Aunty Betty’s ice-cream. All the ‘extras’ come free: sweets, rainbow drops, wafers, flakes… I had peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream. Oh my word… I think my face says it all!


A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

Funny Kids On the drive home, the minxes played my favourite car game: what does the cloud look like? Thanks to Maxi’s wild imagination and infectious laughter, we all definitely saw a jointed chicken, a dog, and a scary clown in the sky! At home, trying to bath everyone, Mini was on the toilet. This past week, she’s finally realised that I don’t like an audience when I’m sitting on the toilet, so she’s decided that neither does she. “Mummy, go ‘way! I need some prizetsy! (privacy)” she wailed

Fruity Sprinkles

Midi and Mini were out of bed and eating breakfast before Killer-Dirty-Stopout-Cat got back home this morning (0700hrs). I appear to have broken Maxi from last night’s cycle ride, though: I had to wake her up at 0830hrs. I can’t remember the last time she slept past 0600hrs, regardless of the time she’s eventually fallen asleep. Midi’s throat is no better. So with 1, possibly 2 minxes ill, I checked the met forecast and suggested places to visit.

strawberry punnet“I absolutely do not ever want to visit a boring old stone circle”, kiboshed Maxi. Oh. That’s 10 planned outdoor trips put on hold till next week, then… I checked the weather: gorgeous. Checked the fridge: empty. Time to go pick some stobbies (strawberries) then!

I like going to PYO fruit farms. Well, I like going to them when the memory stobby pickersof the last visit has faded. In my head I imagine the minxes patiently selecting Grade 1 ripe, delicious, perfect fruit, then gently plucking it and carefully nestling it in a punnet, to be eaten daintily later. The reality is me furiously trying to keep 6 clompy feet in between fruit bushes (as opposed to *on* fruit bushes) and 30 little fingers desperately grabbing at anything remotely red-coloured, whether it’s a fleck of red on unripe green, or a smear of red amongst hairy, mouldy white. *Usually* said unsuitable fruits are jammed under normal fruit, to lurk there until after they’ve been paid for, or occasionally shoved into defiant little mouths, despite me indoctrinating them that this is stealing.

stobsI keep going back because if you go at the end of the season when the fruits are scarcer and it takes longer to pick, then you get an hour’s outdoor activity that engrosses them, and a (paid for!) healthy fruit snack at the end, for less than most soft play centres and the like.

Today, it worked a treat! I didn’t see the minxes eat a single stobby, and they mostly picked brilliant fruits. Even if they were a weird mix of apple- and currant-sized…

gooseberryAfter filling a punnet each, we walked to the other side of the farm to find and pick gooseberries. Despite directions, we struggled to find them. Well, I can recognise lots of fruit bushes from a distance, but gooseberry…? And we were all a bit mislead when we reached the red gooseberries first. Yep – red. Gooseberries. Who knew?! We merrily set about picking a large handful for The Boss. It took me a fair while to realise that I have no idea at all whether a gooseberry is ripe or not. Hmmm. We’ll see if he complains…

Midi really started to flag (sore throat still), so we walked back to the car. Well, we *were*, till she spotted the go karts and zip wire, and raced off to have a play. Maxi played happily with her, and Mini raced around the 2 storey fort with me.

Don't get a job designing garden furniture, darling

Don’t get a job designing garden furniture, darling

After half an hour of racing and climbing and sliding and zipping and trampolining, the haar rolled in from the coast, so we set off for home. Nice and sunny here! Maxi made herself a strange seat in the garden and read in the shade. Despite being Calpolled to the eyeballs, Midi decided to be extremely obstinate and awkward. I’d just had a great time (!) shoving a week’s summer shop into our little fridge, so found it a doddle winkling my 6 yo out of her tv seat and shoving her out the door to the library. Where she suddenly turned into a whirling dervish.

sprinklerI wonder if the change in mien had anything to do with me promising to unearth the sprinkler…? It was such a hot day and our front lawn was yellow. Living in Scotland, there’s no hosepipe ban here, so I let the kids jump around the sprinkler on the front lawn as I moved it all over the place. There were very few rules: Don’t Get Mummy Wet (never broken – they know the fun will instantly end), and Don’t Sit on the Water Jets (broken every 10 seconds).

I meant to cook up a tasty, nutritious dinner, but let the girls scream their heads off for 45 minutes instead. When The Boss got home and could help keep an eye on them, we bunged pizza in the oven, corn-on-the-cob in the microwave, got the kids to shell peas (hey, that counts as a craft activity! 10 bonus points!) and ate outside. Picnic dinner was followed by cherry and yogurt pudding, then being allowed to play in the garden till 2030hrs because they were playing together so kindly and quietly.

But don’t go thinking that the day ended on that note of sisterly bliss: 10 minutes ago Maxi was threatening to kill herself because Midi wouldn’t return the library book that she wanted to read. One thing this household is never short of is hysteria.

Muddy, Grumpy and Tired Troutlings

“This is the best Mummy-Daughter Day EVER! Yoohoo!” hollered Maxi as she shot past me on her bike. Yessssssss!

We’d spent the weekend mostly being confined to a house or car (visiting much-loved relatives in Liverpool all weekend) and didn’t get back till midnight on Sunday, so today (Monday)’s been a bit of a washout. After The Boss went to work, we got up late (0830hrs), then dawdled around till the double appointment at the GP: Maxi now knows how to take care of her ingrowing toenails; Midi has one grommet left in; she also has a blood-shot eye that’s not apparently caused by anything sinister. Bonus.

We did a quick emergency food shop then blasted through the library. The poor librarian! Before we go in, I always try to calm the kids down and caution them not to barrel in yelling, but every time they last about 10 seconds before exploding in a 6-handed whirl of book-grabbing excitement. When we trogged home, Mini had a 20 minute ‘quiet time’ reading her library books in bed while I made lunch and did a mountain of laundry. Midi reluctantly helped me make up some naan bread mix. We left that to rise while we had an hour blowing away the cobwebs at the swing-park before dinner. The Boss made gujarati beans as soon as he got home from work while I drank some Lovely Cold Wine grilled the naans to go with the chicken-curry-from-a-jar.

Midi’s throat is still sore and her cough is no better from the weekend, so she and tired-out Mini got an early night with The Boss while I took Maxi out for a spin on her bike.

What a lovely evening! The Boss had given Maxi some bike lights for her bike that she footered around with happily. Being able to see her gleaming head and tail lights definitely encouraged me to let her go off further afield without me hovering over her: good for us both! I strode along in the dappled evening sunlight as Maxi chattered away merrily, enjoying the luxury of being able to pedal at her own pace and whizz through muddy puddles. When I reassured her that clothes clean up and not to bother about a few splashes, she zoomed through the mud with more glee. Attagirl!

Alas, our hour of fun came to an abrupt halt when we returned and a sobbing Midi threw herself into my arms – The Boss hadn’t told her where we’d gone, and she’d been regretting her constantly scowled “I wish you were dead, Mummy!” every time she loses her temper. I stroked her hair while the poor wee thing sat in my lap, describing how her head gets “muddled up” when she loses her temper, and how words come out that she doesn’t know she’s saying. She’s certainly my most tempestuous daughter. And her temper is completely from me. God help us both when she’s pubescent and I’m menopausal!!

Post-Holiday Blues

It’s our first proper day of the school holidays here – the previous 7 days don’t count because we were all in Orkney again, having a fantastic time. I did bring the laptop with me, intending to write lots of blog posts both here and on the outdoor blog, in real-time. Alas, my in-laws led me happily astray: I spent my evenings drinking Strubarb cocktails washed down with Wychwood Ginger Beard, and chased with peanut butter pretzels. And blethering nonsense. So: back home with a bump.

Mini Minx is on antibiotics and so her sleep is still iffy (when was it ever not?!): she came into my bed 4 times last night. I’d gone to bed really late (0100hrs. Oops) because I’d spent all day driving so wasn’t tired enough to sleep. End result – today has felt like swimming in treacle. Never mind – we had to hang around the house anyway because the hire car after The Boss’s accident was to be picked up at some random point during in the day. I spent the morning ploughing through laundry, while the minxes went goggle-eyed over 100 episodes of Horrid Henry. Midi’s read so many library books in this year’s Summer Challenge already that she chose to take out a DVD for 2 weeks for free as her prize.

I'm bored, Mum. What can I doooooooo?

I’m bored, Mum. What can I doooooooo?

In a half-hearted attempt to keep the girls active enough to stave off DVTs, I made them come into the kitchen for their snacks and water individually. I really wanted to be a Good Mummy and turf them outdoors for fresh air regardless of the drizzle, but today I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was also too distracted on the laptop, helping one of my brothers book flights, train journeys and a hotel from the other side of the planet (bank problems – Bank of Scotland have been categorically rubbish with him, not sending bank

Not brave enough yet to pull out that good old holiday standby: paint the stones

Not brave enough yet to pull out that good old holiday standby: paint the stones

cards, not returning calls, hanging up on long calls, etc.). We did manage a swift run round to the library, but because the hire car people didn’t show up till mid-afternoon when it was already raining heavily, we got no other outdoor time.The afternoon, therefore, was much like the morning. Except I managed to corral them into doing something creative for a few minutes – I printed out a sheet of paper each with a big empty square on it and the title “The thing I enjoyed most about my holidays last week was when I …” followed by 5 lines of dots for them to write on, and draw in the box. I’ll tell you what they wrote when they finish!

Oh yeah, and I discovered that the best way to keep them out of my hair for a few minutes when I really need to concentrate is to play classical music. I discovered that all 3 really hate Verdi’s Requiem: when I played it they ran from the room howling, with their hands over their ears. And Maxi finds ‘Abide With Me’ (from the soundtrack of the film 28 Days Later!!) “creeps me out”. I guess I need to find Classic FM on the radio dial then, eh?

child in viking horned helmet

She’s bored

Anyway, the general lack of exercise means that it’s my own selfish fault that the girls are not sleeping tonight! Midi has wrapped herself in a blanket and is lying across the threshold of Maxi’s bedroom, like a bright pink spotted Ancient Egyptian mummy – I think she’s trying to see just how long her big sister stays up at night; Mini is scuttling back and forth, demanding to be tucked in, and victoriously waving the Hello Kitty toy that I threatened to throw away if she wouldn’t eat her roast chicken (my comfort food); Maxi, meanwhile, is happily reading today’s library books (Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt).

child in horned viking helmet

… and so’s she

Tomorrow I hope to get more than a token few minutes sleep and to get the poor kids out and about. They have a play-date arranged with a wee girl who’s in the same nursery class as Mini. I’ll need to run some energy off the older ones first thing, then, before we walk round. And I guess tidying their upside-down rooms just won’t cut it:

(Me: “You are to tidy your floor up tomorrow morning. Look, it’s so messy that I nearly fell over, coming to give you a Goodnight Kiss!”

Midi: “But why, Mummy? Because it’ll take us such a long time to mess it all up again. What a waste of time!”

Me: <thinking> Huh?! Um. Right. I agree. But only if the window faced the back garden…)

The library has a competition on tomorrow afternoon, but I quite fancy checking out some of Aberdeenshire’s Neolithic monuments after a week of touring Orkney’s, instead. I’ll put it to Minx Vote after lunch, I think.

Have Sewing Machine; Will Traumatise.

May 6

Maxi-gets-through-morning-school-run-without-being-shrieked-at shocker! She got up at 6.45am with The Boss and they had a lovely leisurely breakfast together. When I stumbled into the kitchen at 7.20 she was happily sketching on her billboard-sized drawing pad. Then she had her favourite kind of morning: safely tucked away in her room, away from her noisy sisters, making Lego models. Who was this happy, cheerful, compliant little girl?!

As I said, I didn’t haul my sorry bum out of bed till 7.20 – Mini had had me up for ages last night. She’d come in because … nope, I can’t even remember. A twisted sock. She missed my snarl. She wanted a cuddle. Whatever it was, it was enough for me to relent and let her in bed beside us. As usual, this was a huge mistake because she then spent the night waking up and complaining that she was cold and needed more covers; I was facing away from her and she needed Mummy Cuddles; I was facing her and my breath smelled like bums; I was cuddling her and making her too hot; I was facing away from her and she needed parental attention Right.This.Instant… yawn.

You can see how short the dress was without its new bottom tier. Loads more years left now. Ish...

You can see how short the dress was without its new bottom tier. Loads more years left now. Ish…

I spent my 90 child-free minutes today finishing off an owly dress for my Owly Girl. I’d bought a metre of owl fabric for Midi a year ago, but never used it. I’m on an insane bid to get to the bottom of my fabric stash, so decided she needed a new dress to run around in. As this was just 2 types of cotton, it was really easy to work with. Such a treat after last week’s trauma, discovering that t-shirt jersey is harder to work with than voile. (“I’ll just fold this jersey fabric in half… Argh, it keeps slipping! <shove, poke=””> Right, let’s line up this end and pin it as I go along… Smooth out! Smooth.Out.NOW Actually, banging helps <bang, thump=””> Oh hell, now it’s going all 3D on me!”). Five whole days of sailor-mouthing just to get a metre of jersey cut it in half, joined in a circle, hemmed, gathered, and attached to the bottom tier of a too-short dress. I’m never working with jersey ever again. Evil stuff! Och well, at least Midi doesn’t mind that the gathers are wonky.

Midi's Owl Dress

Midi’s Owl Dress

I finally bit the bullet and accepted that one of Mini’s library books was indeed lost forever and went to our old library to confess and pay up. The lovely librarian checked her entire stock of kids’ books in case we’d actually brought it back and it hadn’t been stamped in. She checked the bookcases; she checked the shelves; she checked the back rooms. It was so kind of her to take the time! She gently explained that the book I’d brought along to donate as a swap was no good because it had been published at a different time. We looked up the price. Yikes! She checked on Amazon for me in case we could get the exact same one cheaper. Yes!!! No… it was out of stock. Ach well, I’d brought my cheque book. The librarian said she’d check with HQ about the price because she didn’t think it fair that I pay the full price when she was sure it hadn’t been in great condition. She’d let me know. I thanked her profusely, grabbed Mini’s new stack of books and headed off.

Footery buttons and loops, but the twirling says that she likes it

Footery buttons and loops, but the twirling says that she likes it

Within a minute or 2, the librarian caught up with me in the carpark – HQ had agreed just to write it off. Wow! How lovely! I’d been fretting about the money, so I could have swung her off her feet in joy. What a kind lady! Libraries and librarians are (sometimes) just ace.

A less-than-enthralling afternoon ensued, fielding squabbling over who was getting to ride their bikes and who was going on a scooter to pester our long-suffering neighbours in the cul-de-sac. We’re so lucky that folk driving into the street seem to be very wary of 3 little female hooligans on wheels.

Though there were nearly only 2. Midi was determined to push every button of mine this afternoon, and make both her sisters cry repeatedly. I sent both her and a wailing Maxi to their rooms to separate them and give my ears a chance to stop bleeding. When I went to “have a little chat” with them 10 minutes later, Maxi was suitably penitent and looking chastened, whereas Midi was nonchalantly lounging on her bed, happily reading her new library books. She absolutely refused to apologise to Maxi for hitting her, or to me for shrieking and screaming like a banshee. I think the fact that she quietly apologised to Maxi in person, when they were washing hands before dinner together, saved her from yet another reading of the Riot Act.

I watched a tired Mini rubbing her clothes labels again tonight. Her little arm can barely twist behind her back to reach her trousers label. I asked her where she’d like me to make a tag that she could stroke on her next homemade nightie: “On your wrist? Your elbow? Your waist?” No: she preferred what she was used to (small of her back, the awkward sod). I moved her blanket round so she could reach its care label more easily. She didn’t like it. This toy? That toy? No. None of them were “rubbable” enough. I’m guessing it’s the silkiness of the tags that she loves, but Mini being the contrary sod that she is, it could be something random like the precise dimensions of the scrap of fabric!


Midi Minx went shopping with me on Friday. We went screeching past a man stacking shelves who, to be fair, had a bit of a muddled face. But I didn’t expect my 3 year old to shout, in a voice that would pierce butter:

“Mummy! That man looks sooooo awful!”

I nearly died on the spot. Luckily I didn’t. I did worse. I muttered something brightly like, “Wow, isn’t he wearing the coolest teeshirt ever?”, realised the total inanity of my remark, and scuttled off, trailing my sniggering daughters with me. Red as red.

On Saturday, not to be out-done, Maxi went to the library. The librarian remembered Midi and my request on Tuesday for a book for children about hospitals (Midi’s to get grommets in and adenoids out at the end of the month).

“My 3 year old is going into hospital next month,” I’d told her. “Do you have any books for kids, I don’t know, like ‘Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital?”

I laughed like a drain when she put her hand immediately to… yep, Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital.

So, this kind, thoughtful lady had looked out another book for Midi, which The Boss gratefully accepted. Maxi handed over her books and asked for her ‘Made In Scotland’ card to be marked up.

“My mummy said you probably couldn’t be bothered to fill it in,” she confided.

Well, when this conversation was relayed to me I was mortified. Should I confront the lady, fess up and apologise profusely? Should I hide and never go back to the library ever, ever again?! Should I pretend it never happened? Should I drop by on Tuesday, thank her for Midi’s book and tell her my nasty comment was about someone else, but that nevertheless I was very sorry (the truth)? Ooooooo, I’m so embarrassed!

Moray Gothic witches

Moray Gothic - 2 of the Terrible Trio

Talking of books, we resisted teaching Maxi to read and just let her get on with it herself, and let school teach her. She’s now had, what, 8 weeks of schooling and merrily read all 30 pages of Dan’s Gran’s Goat to herself, over 3 evenings. I think she liked the ‘burp!’ best. While she was reading it out to me and The Boss, we heard her chirping on about some ‘excited little marks’.

“What are you on about, Maxi? What marks?” I asked

“These ones, the ones like upside-down i’s”, she replied

Exclamation marks. Bless!

It was a wee highlight of this weekend for me. As was today’s bimble along the coast, collecting a few jars of rose-hips, wild apples and blackberries. They’re currently dripping through a jelly bag on my worktop counter and will shortly become Moray Coast Trail jelly-jam. Mmmmm! The girls walked all the way to Cummingston and back to gather them, and even had a play at the playground. Maxi is a terrible walker and she managed it without whingeing, the good girl! Mini wasn’t mad about being wrapped to get to the start of the path, and back home from Cummingston, but she’s only got tiny wee legs.

I’m still battling on with my knitting. It’s very frustrating. I’ve been trying to knit muffs. I have a hundred ideas. Can I translate them, using my wool, and quickly enough to make the muffs an affordable price? That’ll be a big fat NO, then.