Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pumpkin Pudding

I'm avoiding writing the follow-up to my last post, so thought I'd share my birthday photos of Pudding I took yesterday. In the rain. It was fun. 

And there's always the comic moments. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland: Yes or No

September 18, 2014

For those of you who do not live in Scotland or the UK, please spare Scotland a moment's thought on Thursday. Millions of voters will be going to the ballots to answer a very simple, but possibly history-changing question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes or No. That's it.

I don't have the vote because we no longer live in Scotland and even if we did because I'm not a citizen of the UK or of Europe. But we have returned to Scotland to be part of this immensely important day. We have spoken to our children about what is going on and what it means, in simple terms. We have taken Mouse out of school and we will help him prepare a short explanation of what happened while on his holiday.

I have my preferences of which way I would like the outcome, but in my mind it is the implications of this vote that are so important to me. Scotland has had three years of preparation for this particular referendum, over 30 years since the last referendum and 300 years of a Union with England and the United Kingdom. But the age of the internet has made the debate this time very different than any other in the last 300 years.

People are talking, sharing, researching, debating, yes, even arguing about what this referendum means for Scotland and its future. The internet has made so many details readily available and often shared within a blink of an eye. Bias has been shown by the media because there are hundreds of journalists at events and thousands of regular folk with phones, computers, tablets who can document things and show how they really happened, rather than edited for your viewing. We no longer have to rely on the media, the politicians to give us the information needed to make a decision.

We've only been in Scotland for a few days and I'm loving the atmosphere. People are involved everywhere, they are talking, they care. And most of all, the majority of them seem to be ready to vote. We've chatted with shop staff and friends about the various angles, seen the stickers, flags and leaflets.

The voting officials have been overwhelmed with requests from new voters to get registered. This is what really excites me. I'm hoping for a huge turnout of voters on the day. That the voice of Scotland will be real and loud. People who have never cared about an election or their vote are getting out there to have their say. Because this is important to Scotland and the UK, to big businesses and small, to families and communities. 

I'd also like a big as possible majority for whichever side wins. There has been division, upset on both sides. Only a clear majority for the winners will help heal that division and make Scotland's next step possible. 

I hope the rest of the UK listens to Scotland whatever the turnout and this epic moment will bring on changes in Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world. There is no need to accept the status quo, if you want change, fight for it. Speak up, campaign, vote. Let your voice be heard. 

Good luck Scotland. You have been good to me in so many ways: gave me a home, a family, so many friends, some of the best years and experiences of my adult life. I truly want you to have your independence. I want my children to be proud of this time in Scotland's history and proud of being Scottish even if they are not living there now. But I will be proud of its people on the 18th as they get out and vote. Thursday will be Scotland's day to be heard. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Autumn Thistle Turns One

Pudding is one year old. It blows me away to think about it. I watched her stomp across the living room this week end in her zombie walk and couldn't believe it. My baby is walking, is a toddler, is no longer a baby. End of an era. 

My monthly photos haven't really worked the last few months, she just won't sit still. even with props. 
She started walking a bit about two weeks ago, a few steps and then stopped. A few days of cruising the furniture even more, reaching out for the next piece and taking a hesitant step between, almost flinging herself at it. 

We got out the trolley for outside and the baby buggy for inside. That was it, she was off. We had to weigh down the buggy as it was too fast for her. So my biggest gardening book is getting a bit of a road trip along with a pillow, Spiderman and Baba. 

Yes, Baba is back in action. Pudding loves dolls as much as Bump did at this age. Bump is also interested in Baba again, so they take turns playing with it. Sisterly love in the making, I hope. 

Baba is called Dada now, the Chief is also Dada, and Mouse, and Foo and me sometimes. She can say Mum, but won't, of course, when referring to me. Everything is Dada, so I spend a lot of the day saying, Daddy's at work, the Weans are at school, trying to figure out what she means. 'More' is close to mair the Scots for more. She'll also do the sign for it. That's about all she says, though she chatters constantly. 

She also makes a hissing sound for dinosaurs which I think is supposed to be a roar. 
Pudding is such funny, quirky wee soul. She loves to crinkle her nose up and smile at me, especially when she thinks she might be in trouble or if she is just feeling cheeky. Independent as hell, no surprise there. Still not super-cuddly, but she'll give you kisses and cuddles if she's feeling amenable. 

She loves to dance and play with the music toy we've had since Bump was a baby that plays a clip of a pop song when you put insert a part. So we spend ages putting that back in so she'll dance for a second before pulling it out again. Bump did the same thing. 

She's fickle with sleep. Easily distracted so if she hears the kids, she's wide awake. Somedays it's like she can't relax and will be almost asleep and then her eyes will pop open and she'll hit me or clap her hands or try to roll away. And after spending an hour getting her off, she'll wake after 45 minutes. Other days she will fall asleep in minutes and nap for hours. 

She mainly sleeps on a mattress in the spare room as I got tired of trying to transfer her into the cot after I spent so long getting her to sleep. So now I just leave her and sneak out. She usually picks up the monitor when she wakes and chews on it, but lately as been crawling to the door and trying to get out. Then can't understand why I won't come and get her right away when she's lodged herself behind the door. During the night she's in with us most of the night. Only way for me to get any sleep.

She's a whirlwind and a lot of my day is full of keeping her entertained and contained. The downstairs is open, but she goes for the toilet or toilet brush or the fireplace if you let her have the run of the place, so I tend to keep her shut in the kitchen and living room. But with 3 other kids running about the doors are never kept shut, so I spend a lot of time rescuing her or pulling her off the kids' games. And taking tiny bits of Lego off her. 

She's my wee Thistle: lovely, cheeky, full of energy and will. She'll be unstoppable and I'll pay the price, but as several people pointed out to me in connection with Miss Bump, that independence will only be good for her as she grows up, no matter how frustrating it is at this stage. I wouldn't want her any other way.

Pure Cheese. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Summer is definitely out, though we still get an occasionally bright, beautiful but chilly day, so I'm into autumn mode. There are a lot of big jobs still to do in the garden like shredding the cuttings from the summer and cutting logs, but soon those will be dwindling. Apple picking season will soon be here, though our trees have barely produced after last year's bounty. The wet, cooler weather means the kids are happy to stay at home rather than go away at the weekend.

I haven't harvested for a week and this is what I found. I'm tempt to go pick up the windfalls off my neighbours as they're having a good season. 
My baby is almost a year old and is growing up way too fast. She will play for short intervals on her own. She's my last, so I'm looking for things to fill a baby-sized gap. I need a project or two I've decided.

Not that I have a lot of time. Anything I want to do has to fit in the pockets of time that Pudding allows when she sleeps. Which is still totally hit-or-miss. Some days naps are for the weak. Others she'll sleep for 3 hours. 

Sandwiched in between therapy sessions, making dinner and other food (damn that giving up processed food thing, everything takes twice as long now), the drop-offs and pick-ups of school and nursery (damn Finnish schools and their 4 hour days). And somewhere I have to get the day-to-day cleaning done, the mountain of laundry at least under control and other tiny things that take up so much time when piled up. 

I still want and need a few hours to myself. I have the evening once the kids go to bed, though Pudding does wake from time to time still. I never seem to get as much done as I'd like then as I'm so tired. But not tired enough to give in and go to bed, so we watch telly or go online. Not very productive, but it's about all my brain can handle at that time. 

I signed up for a Finnish class with childcare and one of Foo's therapists changed a session so I could no longer fit it into my schedule. I looked into volunteering and Pudding's current unreliability due to teeth and breastfeeding means I can't commit to anything right now. I know I need to start thinking about what I'm going to do when Pudding goes to nursery, but honestly nothing feels right, just now. I'm floating and directionless.

I've been taking on less impressive projects, something small that can be done at home or in waiting rooms and in short bursts. I considered sorting my house and life out as I've mentioned before I'm not always the most organised. 

I considered this website as inspiration, but realised my 'morning routine' involved running full tilt for an hour first thing, getting the kids fed, dressed and sorted for school and nursery and then jumping into the shower and eating a quick bowl of cereal before dragging us all in 3 or 4 different directions. And let's not even get into the 'dressing to make yourself feel great'. My clothes are the last thing on my mind, if they're clean when I put them on full points to me, because they never stay that way. Her plan didn't really work, but I did like the idea of a 'Goals List' and decluttering. So I have a list, I did some gutting of kids' clothes this weekend and took 2.5 bags to the recycling point. As a result Pudding has now moved from baby to toddler clothes. I'm hoping I can do a little job like that once a week. The toy boxes so need to be done, but that's a mountain I'm not ready for yet. 

I've embraced autumn: the apples, cooler weather. I've made applesauce, I've started knitting and crocheting again. I found a big lovely chunky yarn I've been working with. I bought it for this children's cowl pattern which a friend happened to have a copy of. I started to make it but didn't like the bright orange wool for the fox, so set out to find something else I could make with it. After a lot of research online I found this cardi which is crocheted and is basically all one piece which makes it very quick and easy to do. Considering how bad I am at making clothes by knitting or crochet, that's a bonus. The wool I had was much chunkier than the one recommended so I bodged it by guessing that my wool was twice as heavy as the one in the pattern, so cut all the numbers in half and made some 'by eye' adjustments. Not for me the gauge thing, you think I'd learn. But it turned out pretty good this time, though my photo is poor. She wouldn't stand still. 

Then I decided I didn't like the 3/4 length sleeves and wanted it to last longer than this autumn so made the bottom longer as well. My model seems to like how it turned out. The buttons are leaf-shaped keeping with the autumnal theme. 

I bought some gray yarn to make the cowl as a cat instead of a fox as Bump likes cats more, so used that to make the adjustments. I'm over half way done with the cowl, so will post photos when that's finished. 

My other project is writing. I'm desperately trying to get back into writing something other than this blog, both poetry and fiction. It's amazing how rusty I've gotten, even with just sitting down and writing much less the mechanics of it all. I used to write everywhere, all the time. Now I have to force myself. It's like a muscle, it will come back, if I can keep exercising it.  

So I'm sitting at home with a head cold, a sleeping baby and my laptop opened to a poem, some fiction I'm playing with, the pattern for the cowl and this blog. Clothes are in the drier and I've made a start at dinner. I'll need to pick Mouse up in just over an hour, help him with his homework and snack and then pick up the middle Weans an hour and a half after that. 

I might get one of my projects done today, I might not. Every step moves me closer and gives me moments of my own, things I enjoy doing that are basically for me. I can buy applesauce or cardigans, I can not bother with memory books for the kids or a blog. But they are calming in the midst of routines, structures and other people's needs. 

Well, until I mess up with knitting and then I'm pulling rows and my hair out. Or I burn the jam - 3 litres of it. I wanted to cry. 
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