Girl Lacer’s first ever sports day today. The weather was hot and sunny, I could feel my skin burning and I had sun tan lotion on. Each class came marching onto their field baring their class banner. Reception children had an obstacle race (put sunglasses on, a straw hat, pick up and a bucket and spade and then go and lie on a beach towel), games with a parachute and a relay race with a teddy bear as a baton. Far less traumatic than any of the sports days I remember as a kid!
Excuse my absence for the last few days, been busy plus, as this blog is pretty much a record of things I’m enthusiastic about, it’s been too hot to be enthusiastic about anything other than the air conditioning in Sainsburys.
Friday was cake selling at school, where ‘shame’ on me, I turned up with shop brought cakes.
Saturday, was a massive family shopping expedition, you know the sort of shopping expedition where you’ve been waiting for weeks for payday, me and the kids had to get birthday presents for Mr. Lacer and we wanted to get an iphone for me, plus the kids had a Charlie and Lola thing at a bookshop to attend. The iphone proved to be out of stock (back in stock next weekend hopefully) but the kids were hilarious whilst we were waiting in the queue in O2, they spotted a couple of iphones on display in the corner, now Boy Lacer’s had plenty of opportunity to play with one when we’ve been in the Apple store “Here small child, play with expensive gadget whilst I try and sell one to your mother” , but Girl Lacer has only (and very willingly) sat through the 15 minute ad on Youtube with the good looking apple sales guy “Ooh, it’s got touch screen. Ooh, it’s got maps. Oooooooh, you can play games on it!”. So they both squeal in delight, but instead of rushing over to the two display phones, Boy Lacer just stands and stares, at a very respectful distance, takes a few tentative steps closer and then (honestly) drops to his knees in awe. Girl Lacer then rushes over to the display but even she’s too nervous to take them off their stands whilst Boy Lacer finally approaches his technological god and stands tiptoed against the table, fingers clinging on the edge, peering up at them.
But by the time we were hunting for birthday presents for Mr. Lacer, Boy Lacer was a nightmare, partly because I’m still lacking my ‘safe zone’, i.e. a pushchair I can comfortably contain Boy Lacer in if it gets too much for him, we’re still borrowing a friend’s old Maclaren and it’s way too small for him. I’d been bidding all week on a special needs buggy on ebay but I was competitively bidding against someone probably just as desperate as me and the amount was getting just stupid, so in the end I let myself get outbid. I’m now watching another special needs buggy on ebay but this time I’m not going to get into a bidding war with someone and I’ll wait until the last few hours of the auction to show my hand. But that does mean the small Maclaren for at least another week, don’t think we’ll be going very far. ‘Unsurprisingly’ the occupational therapist (whoever she is now) never got back to me.
Saturday afternoon my dad was over and completely laid into my gardening skills, hmph. Put it this way, my idea of when to water my plants is a tad greener than my dad’s and on the long list of things I need to do in my life, weeding the patio, way down at the bottom.
Sunday, Girl Lacer had a mock ballet exam, unfortunately one of the things we’d planned to get in town on the Saturday was some replacement ballet kit, but Boy Lacer was so exhausting, the ballet kit slipped my mind, so me and Girl Lacer had to go into town first to get the ballet kit.
And then that leaves today, Happy Big Four-oh Mr. Lacer, having a husband in a different decade to me always makes me feel considerably younger (I have another 5 1/2 years of my 30s to go). Girl Lacer woke predictable early today, she’d got Mr. Lacer some chocolate turtles from ‘the chocolate shop’ (Montezumas), Boy Lacer got Mr. Lacer a wallet and I got Mr. Lacer a presentation pack of the mythology stamps with little stories by Neil Gaiman as a clue to what his real present will be when it’s released in August. As we were up early I got a chance to make blueberry muffins (my trusted recipe from the Friends cookbook, they’re delicious) for breakfast, as they’re Mr. Lacer’s favourites. I’ve made a birthday cake today as well, the ‘girl’s birthday cake’ from Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen (without the girly bits), I love that recipe, just as I love any recipe that says ‘put all ingredients in a bowl, mix, put in tin’ plus it always tastes gorgeous. Unfortunately today though, when I was removing the second sponge from the tin, it literally fell apart in my hands, so once again Mr. Lacer had a flat birthday cake (see the bottom of this post).
I also made today (and only because I was concerned about my rhubarb getting too stringy if I left it any longer) rhubarb and strawberry compote, based on a rhubarb compote recipe in the Leon book (and I say based, more like looked at the book, thought no way have I got 900g of rhubarb growing in my garden and then proceeded to make it up as I went along). I had about three very long stalks (I’m leaving on my smaller stalks for later), so I thought I’d better throw in some of my minuscule but powerful strawberries at the same time (some of my strawberries are tiny, but oh they taste good). I made about enough for two healthy sized dollops on a portion of something like say porridge or if you’re more pleasurably inclined, rice pudding (guess who had two portions of Rachel’s Dairy Rice Pudding in the fridge?), so I stuck half the compote in the fridge and half on a shop brought rice pudding (yes, I know home made rice pudding is far nicer, but I never have the forward planning to make it and Rachel’s Dairy Rice Pudding is, whilst still being nice, considerably lower in fat I think). And ooh it was good! Will probably making it again, although with the aid of the supermarket this time, I’m rapidly discovering this year (after my adventures in spinach soup as well), that as nice as my little vegetable patch is, to grow enough fruit and veg to make certain dishes, with any frequency and put it this way, family sized, I need more space.
Girl Lacer had more ballet after school today (groan) and then the kids had a token birthday tea and some flat cake (me and Mr. Lacer are having some nice delivered pizza tonight, in the company of Van Diesel, hmmmm). Sports Day tomorrow, so it’s not allowed to rain until after then, but some soon after would be good!
Girl Lacer had her class assembly today, she was a fish, a fish with a line and she said it so well, confidently (that’s two years worth of dance fees paying off then), not too fast and at a pretty damn good pitch for a five year old, you could hear her clearly but she wasn’t shouting, where did she learn to project her voice like that then? They were doing the story of the rainbow fish (a book I appear to have missed, the deputy head seemed to be putting it in the same league as The Hungry Caterpillar, I didn’t even know the story was an actual book) and at the end the fish have a party and do the macarena (I’m sure that bit probably isn’t in the book) and awww that bit, that was lump in the throat time!
As usual as was so impressed with the school and felt so blessed that my kids go there / will go there, it’s just such a lovely, friendly place, which produces such happy, confident children. The deputy head opened the assembly and was using makaton to settle the children in the hall down, I know they use makaton in the classrooms to (Girl Lacer knows way more makaton signs than I do and is regularly learning more) and I just think that it’s so amazing that what is really ‘just’ a mainstream state school with a special needs unit is doing that with all their children and from what I could see from how quickly the children settled down in the hall, it works for everyone.
I feel that I’ve done quite well in my genre reading recently, reading through all the major contemporary players in the children’s adventure fiction market, so I’ve started to treat myself and return back to authors that I discovered I really liked during my genre reading and Stephanie Meyer was one of them.
So I leapt upon New Moon like a kid at a candy floss stall because there is something just so emminently readable about the Twilight saga, even though it’s a bit ‘flowery’ and you could argue that it perhaps sets up the wrong message to teenage girls about what constitutes a healthy relationship (and I do think Meyer explains quite well in Twilight why Bella can’t resist Edward and therefore isn’t particularly sensible and when, after all, is love sensible?).
I have to admit though, I don’t seem to be much of an Edward fan, it annoys me, even though I haven’t seen the film (I’ve just seen clips), that before I saw the clips and I’d just read the first book, that I imagined Edward to be a lot more good looking than the pasty faced weedy guy in the movie. Yes I know, of course he’s pasty, but ‘my’ Edward was a lot more chiseled, but now I’ve seen the clips, when I read Edward he looks just like the guy in the movie and I just want to scream “Come on Bella, he’s not that good looking”, whereas Jacob on the other hand, yum, a spot of werewolf will do me nicely.
So, as you can imagine, a Twilight series book, where as it turns out Edward isn’t in it for most of it but Jacob is, I really liked this one. The story opens with Edward very quickly leaving Bella, sending her into a deep depression, but she develops her friendship with Jacob. I thought that whole relationship dynamic was done really well, showing that the ‘love of your life’ can leave you but eventually you can move on, that you won’t necessarily love in the same way, but it’ll still be love. But then Edward comes back on the scene and the plot takes us to Italy and the ancient Volterra and although I still enjoyed the story, I wasn’t quite as keen on that bit. You see not only do I seem to have a bit of a thing for Jacob but I also definitely have a love affair for Forks, the forested mountain town, where most of Twilight and New Moon takes place. It’s green, lush, moody, dramatic and it rains a lot and Stephanie Meyer describes it so well that I feel that I’m there. Maybe it’s because there’s a touch of Twin Peaks about the place (linked to Wikepedia for the benefit of anyone under 30), I loved that show and I blame it for me not being very good at chemistry (sssh don’t tell my science students) as the first lesson the morning after Twin Peaks was on was always double chemistry and dissecting the show was always a far more popular activity than paying attention to alkene structure.
So I will be devouring Eclipse (the third in the series) as soon as I’ve finished my current set of 3 for 2s (I’ve vowed to myself not to let a to-be-read pile to develop again) and I was pleased to see on Amazon, that the fourth, Breaking Dawn, will be out in paperback in August. And I will continue trying to work out what exactly Stephanie Meyer has got, because I, as a writer, want some of it, because much as I love books, I never normally have much time to read and my reading time normally consists of last thing at night before lights out, consequently even for the best of books I can never normally read more than a few pages before my head is hitting the pillow, so how come, I can go to bed with a Stephanie Meyer and still be up, two hours later, breathlessly turning the pages? How does she do that? (Partly a rhetorical question, I have some theories, I think she’s very good at creating empathy for her characters and she is a master at ending her chapters on cliff hangers, heck she’s even ended this book on, how many cliffhangers? Five seperate story threads, dangling like that, she just knows how to make people want to go out and buy her next book)
Probably one of the longest book reviews I’ve ever written.
The first half of this week has been characterised by appallingly bad hayfever, my normally wonderful Flixonase wasn’t working. At first I thought I was actually sick, thought “Uh oh, swine flu?”, then realised it was actually hayfever, I display a unique set of characteristics when I’m in the midst of a bad hayfever attack, that I don’t have if I have a bad cold, I get utterly ravenous and for some strange reason, really, really hate my hair, it always feels like I’ve got a great big matted sheep’s pelt on my head. Tuesday was so bad I had trouble keeping my eyes open, they were streaming so badly, I ended up spending most of the afternoon with my eyes shut and a wet kitchen towel over my face and consequently I broke my cardinal rule, twice, falling asleep when in sole charge of the kids. Luckily the first time when it was just me and Boy Lacer, he was sitting next to be on the sofa and when he’s in that position he doesn’t move (favourite position) and the Balamory theme tune woke me, ugh if I’d slept through pick up. The second time Girl Lacer was here and luckily wasn’t too long.
Today the hayfever hasn’t been too bad, I’m developing a nice asthma cough now instead, even so the shop assistant in the supermarket still looked at me suspiciously, made me vow to continue to take my hayfever medication into the winter this year, what with swine flu. I still get hayfever attacks in the winter, thanks to a mould allergy, but not frequently enough to keep taking my flixonase continuously (and I hate the idea of taking the medication for that long, even though my GP has recommended it). But I can imagine me now, me, mid-winter, in the middle of a swine flu outbreak, sneezing my head off, looking awful, trying to go to the supermarket, I would be lynched by lots of people with scarves over their mouths.
In between all the sneezing we’ve had pushchair trauma, as I mentioned before, the spare buggy, the one that actually fits in the car, has lost its wheel and we can’t buy a direct replacement because Boy Lacer is now way too big, so we need a special needs pushchair, so we checked out the prices and went “Oh my god, we have never paid that much for a pushchair in our lives!”. So we bid and lost on one on ebay. I tried to ring occupational therapy to discuss pushchair options, only to discover the occupational therapist has left (so that’s why we haven’t seen her for an eternity) and that according to the receptionist they’ve only just hired ‘some girls’. So spotted another pushchair on ebay and have been bidding on that. Meanwhile we still have a pushchair, it’s just it doesn’t fit in the car, I get the kids ready for the school run today, push Boy Lacer out of the front garden, bump, bump, bump, the wheel has fallen off our now one and only remaining pushchair. Luckily a friend has loaned us a very elderly Maclaren, which Boy Lacer barely fits into and we are now bidding ridiculous amounts of money on that pushchair on ebay.
So amidst all this, today was the day, that I’d been told a few weeks ago, that I could cancel my mobile phone, as I want to cancel my phone on the dot of the end of my 18 month contract. So, I ring through to the appropriate option on my mobile phone providers phone network, tell them I want to cancel my phone, guy on the other end of the phone asks politely why and that’s where I made my mistake, I told him I was going to get an iphone. The guy then launches into this lengthy spiel about why iphones are evil (these call centre guys probably have lectures on the very subject, probably right at the top of their list on why iphones are evil is that the mobile provider in question doesn’t have the contract to sell them, I bet if they did they’d be saying they were wonderful). Call centre guy then tries to sell me all these equivalent phones that do x,y and z and I keep on saying politely “no thank you, I want to cancel my phone”, his pitch gets more and more aggressive, basically subtly and then not so subtly implying I’m an idiot for going for an iphone. So I have to respond more stridently, going “Look, I’m not interested, I’m getting an iphone, now please cancel my phone!”, to which the guy goes “I’m not cancelling your phone until you give me a logical reason why you want an iphone”, I was literally gobsmacked and so speechless I just put the phone down on him and then rang straight back, this time deliberately not going through to the ‘I’m thinking of cancelling my contract’ option because that was obviously manned by complete and utter nutters. I go to the ‘anything else’ option and as soon as the poor (different) call centre guy picks up the phone, I launch into a massive tirade, telling the guy what the other call centre guy had just said and that “quite frankly you could try and sell me a phone that goes into my kitchen and does my dishes, I am not interested, what phone I get is my business, not yours, now cancel my phone’, phone duly cancelled by very apologetic call centre guy. Honestly, I may or may not stay with O2 (the UK iphone provider, whom I’m moving to) forever, as in the future there may be another phone out there that after my iphone contract is up in 2 years I want instead, but I tell you something, I will never ever go back to my current phone provider, no way. Oh and for the record ‘the logical reason why I’m switching to an iphone’ is that out of all the smart phones on the market, they have the most apps and that is what I’m paying for.
The conditions here today are nasty; a thick, continuous layer of grey cloud, minimal breeze, humid, all trapping the pollen and the pollution in an uncomfortable, cloying blanket. I have very bad hayfever, enough to be referred to a hospital specialist in the area where I used to live, where if I had stayed living there I would have had desensitisation treatment by now, unfortunately we moved and my current health authority doesn’t seem to believe in any allergy referrals at all (us: “We think Girl Lacer may be allergic to strawberries”, doctor: “Well the best thing to do is for her just not to eat them then”, us: “But we don’t know for sure”, doctor: “Just avoid eating strawberries”. What for the rest of her life? Do you know how many strawberry related products an average 5 year old comes across in just an average party season? Her reaction last time she ate strawberries was severe enough that we don’t want to test out the theory that it is strawberries without a medical presence, just in case next time it’s worse, it’s just the thought that it could have been something else and shes avoiding strawberries needlessly. Same goes with me “I’m having trouble managing my hayfever”, doctor “Just take flixonase”, me “I AM ALREADY!!!!”. Grrrhhh.)
Anyway today’s weather conditions have been distinctly unpleasant and I am very glad that I can currently hide out in the bedroom, whilst Mr. Lacer gets the kids ready for bed, not out of any particular sympathy for my condition, but because its his turn anyway. That’s another thing I hate about hayfever, a cold with equal severity would have me laid up in bed but because there’s ‘nothing actually wrong with me’, ahem my immune system going haywire anyone? continue as normal
So, that’s the state of my respiratory tract today, also today I have been investigating grants for Boy Lacer (glad of a stationary activity). Boy Lacer’s umbrella fold stroller has lost a wheel, he was way too big for it anyway and we only really used it when we were going somewhere by car, as our main pushchair will only fit in the boot of the car if nothing else is in the boot of the car, so cramps our style a bit if we’re going on holiday. We also used the umbrella fold stroller if were travelling long distance on public transport, as it’s easier to carry and store than our other, main bulky pushchair. So I looked online yesterday for a replacement (our main pushchair is also slowly falling apart, as the folding and unfolding mechanism is going) and discovered that Boy Lacer was nearly a stone over the maximum weight limit for a normal stroller and therefore we needed a special needs model. Direct replacement for the stroller that broke (if Boy Lacer could still have fitted in it properly) £35, cheapest special needs model £250. We have never in our lives as parents spent that much money on a pushchair because quite simply we don’t have that sort of money to spend on a pushchair. So I spent today investigating grants, it didn’t take long because it soon became clear that despite always feeling broke, thanks to Mr. Lacer’s salary, our household income is way too high to claim.
So I’ve looked for second hand models, found the single only one on ebay, bid way more than we could really afford and have already been outbid, so I think the answer will have to be when we go on holiday (which by the way means staying at my dad’s), we won’t be able to take any pushchair, which will mean we’ll be limited to either just staying in at my dads house or visiting extremely small attractions. Will also have to think more carefully when travelling by public transport, specially if it’s just me travelling with Boy Lacer on my own. I’m just going to have to pin my hopes now on maybe getting something on the NHS, I’ll try and ring Boy Lacer’s occupational therapist tomorrow, now it’s been a long time since we’ve had an appointment with her.
Since swapping ATCs and stuff, I’ve been using the service Swap-bot, it’s been great fun but I’ve over extended myself recently and need to move onto other things for a while. I’ll still use the service and I’m signed up for a few swaps finishing in August and October, but I need to concentrate on other things to develop my skills and ideas for my Etsy shop, so no more ATCs for a start. So for the past few days I’ve been hurrying to finish my remaining swops for this month.
First up was for a swap entitled ‘Primitive Stitchery’, I was instantly intrigued, as I’d never heard of primitive stitching and there isn’t actually that much on google about it, but from what I could gather, it’s basically embroidery on a very plain background (normally muslin or other unbleached cotton fabric), using just straight stitch or back stitch, with minimal colour. At the same time of thinking for a design for this, I happened to see a newspaper review of the new British Museum exhibition Garden & Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur (which incidentally I’d love to go to see, not sure if I’ll be able to or not though) and one painting in the newspaper particularly caught my eye (click here and go to painting 13 – ‘Rama’s Army crosses the ocean to Lanka’, although all the paintings are lovely, I also like the one of the elephants in the rain). I was particularly attracted to the detail of the water in Rama’s Army and that’s what inspired me to have a go and recreate.
(Not a particularly brilliant photo)
Ooh this took me so long! I started it ages ago, got about a third done, then left it until I realised that I needed to post it in two days. So I worked on it for a good chunk of Thursday night and most of Friday. I wasn’t too sure how effective it was until I trimmed away the fabric that had been next to it in the hoop as I embroidered, with that gone it was “Ooh, that’s rather nice!”. Not sure if I want to see that particular shade of turquoise again though for quite some time! Also not totally sure if what I did counted as primitive stitching, the primitive stitching piece I got back in return (an angel, with embroidered writing) was lovely and embodied more of the sort of designs I’d seen most commonly, when searching for images of primitive stitching. So I hope my swap partner likes it! It was a useful experience though, this will be one of the designs definitely appearing in my Etsy shop, in a number of different variations.
Then on Friday night, after finishing the primitive stitching piece, I thought as I was on a roll I’d tackle my next ‘to do’. This was for a swap entitled ‘useful usable swap’ and I was going to make a bag, but I’m in another bag swap in July, so I thought I’d do something different and thanks to some recent button buying with Boy Lacer, was inspired to make a sheep pin cushion, it’s rather oversized, so my swap partner is not going to be running out of space for her pins any time soon.
Then today (when I’m feeling a wee bit stressed, for non-craft related reasons), I’ve been hiding out and finishing my remaining two outstanding swaps. The first, an ATC on the theme of Ancient Egypt. I haven’t been signing up to ATCs recently, I’ve been running out of inspiration, but considering Ancient Egypt is the theme of my writing work in progress, I took that as a sign. Huh, I may have spent years working on my Egypt novel (on and off) but that turns out it still doesn’t give me any specific ATC inspiration, I was going to sew something (my default position), then I was going to draw something (my default position if I’m feeling lazy) then I was going to attempt paper collage (me getting desperate). Then with the thought I better do something quick and get it over and done with, I settled on hieroglyphs, I found some handmade paper I’ve had for years, found some hieroglyphs in a picture in one of my Egypt books, copied them (squinting – the drawing in the book was very small) and then raiding the kids’ glitter glue, did a gold Egyptian symbol over the top. It turned out quite nicely and I was surprisingly pleased with it.
In contrast, my remaining swap, a skinny in the shape of a house, I’d been looking forward to making for ages and had loads of ideas, however as I was working on it, something went not quite right with the windows and I’m not too pleased with it.
So (for the foreseeable future), no more ATCs, certainly no more (ever) inchies (although one of my partners in my one and only inchies swap said really nice things about them) and probably no more skinnies (difficult to find skinny swaps anyway). I’ll keep going with the fabric and sewing with machine swaps, as I like receiving nice things in the post, but they don’t come up too often anyway (going to be a Halloween Aranzi Aranzo stuffie in October, looking forward to that).
I need to concentrate on starting to build up stock for the Etsy shop, continue trying new things out (but not just because they’re on a swap on Swap-bot) and making some more clothes and bags. And of course, writing!