Sunday 30 November 2014

Homework for Bear

Bear's homework this week is to research on the internet about the continents, their climates, currencies and population.  Normally they expect about half a page and bear is nearly eight.  While I am normally supportive of the school, I have a few reservations.

There is the generic one, what if we didn't have the internet.  This is a bit of a straw argument as practically everyone has internet these days, but if you are on a PAYG dongle or restricted and limited access it can be a bit of a bother.  Bear is fine.  We have internet, we have a generous package, it isn't a problem.

There is the lack of precision.  I am unimpressed by the scope of the question.  Bear has managed an extremely badly written paragraph about North America - his handwriting is appalling - but it looks like this is going to be impressively long for an exhausted, stressed and obsessively meticulous little boy.  He will want to get everything right.  Besides, what do you put about currencies in Asia?  How about Africa?  I can see me spending most of this week navigating through this one.  However part of being a student is learning how to make a question ask what you have revised so we can lay the foundations of that.

The biggest reservation I have is 'internet research'.  I am actually very careful about this with bear.  I have talked about it with him and in front of him with DH about the hazards of the internet, about things not being what they seem, about clicking on to iffy links and that it isn't always safe.  I know when I search for innocuous things I don't always get family friendly results.  While I am an adult, I don't always know the 'code words' for naughty things so I could accidentally put it all sorts.  There are some strange people out there.   Yes, of course we are watching him while he is on there, that's my version of parental control, and we have programmes on the computer that block access to odd places but really, it is a minefield.

This is going to be a looong piece of homework and I shall be glad to see the back of it.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Toilet Roll - the Update!

Never has so much energy been expended on such a humble matter!

We went to Makro.  It was too early for the deal that Witch Hazel tipped me off to, but there was a similar deal for 24 roll packs of Blossom for £9.99 plus VAT, two for the price of one, strategically positioned next to the entrance.  The Blossom was also quilted and I looked with reservations and wondered if it would make it through my toilet's bendy bit.  I bunged two in the trolley and started wandering around.

Our local Makro wasn't inspiring, it is halfway through being remodelled and, to be honest, a lot of the stuff is still cheaper in a supermarket.  However as I wandered I went past the toilet roll aisle.  I wondered if I should get the own brand sort of stuff which is thinner, and therefore a lot easier on my system.  I looked again.  This was £2.69 plus VAT or around £3.25 for 24, or £6.50 for 48 and easier on my plumbing.  I took out the Blossom and put in the 24 own brand stuff.  It isn't as good quality, and may even last a shorter time, but it is more appropriate and considerably less expensive.

It goes to show that just because it is a good deal (the Velvet is £7.75 for sixteen rolls in Tesco so 48 rolls for @ £12 inc VAT is a good deal) doesn't mean it is the best deal for you or even the right deal.
Witch Hazel - thank you for the tip off about Makro.  I had a lot of fun not spending.

Morning After

Today is the morning after the second all night party.  However bear wasn't too affected and slept fine, DH wore earplugs and I had the dehumidifier on as white noise so it could have been worse.  This explains why I managed to delete Witch Hazel's comment instead of publishing it (I'm sorry but sadly have form for this) but I managed to pull it out of the email notification.  Witch Hazel posted

Following on from our earlier "conversation", I see that Makro has an offer on Triple Velvet toilet paper. Bogoff on 24 rolls (so 48 rolls), reduced to 9.99 +VAT. 3rd-16 Dec 

My first response was to say, 'la la la, I can't hear you...'  Of course I then started doing the sums.  48 rolls for £9.99 plus VAT is a very good deal indeed.  It equals the best price at Tesco, is far better quality and provides the emotional security of a stock pile.  Of course I can find quibbles.  The toilet roll quoted is really soft, luxurious and thick.  I am not sure my plumbing will cope with it.  Of course I could take the risk...

The main reason I won't be getting it is that DH is giving me a lift to Makro today, before the offer starts.  It fits in with the rest of the running around.  I have not put all the awful stuff that has happened over the last eighteen months in my blog - you would never believe me - and it is starting to really get to bear.  Today we are going to see 'Paddington' then have a mid afternoon meal at the Harvester, call in at Makro and then come home for cuddles.  I shall see if there is a decent deal there.  I am down to my last five rolls.  I am starting to get very twitchy.

Of course, I could just wander down there on Wednesday and then walk home with 48 rolls of toilet paper...

Friday 28 November 2014

Good Night?

When I got up at 6.30am the people at the back had been playing loud music all night and were still going.  Sigh.  Bear only got off to sleep at @ 10.30 so I had to dig him out of bed this morning with a crowbar.

I was a lot less stressed than I could have been, though.  For some reason 'Blanket on the Ground' is not nearly as bad at 3am at 130 decibels compared to Techno Disco or whatever the 'thump thump' music is.  Though I did think that if you are only 'Half Way to Paradise' at 6am then you are probably doing it wrong.

Thursday 27 November 2014


I got immense amounts done a few weeks ago.  This week I have been an epic fail when it comes to getting anything done at all.  Mind you, today I saw the consultant.  Apparently it's varicose dermatitis that has spread.  I am reserving judgement as I continue to spread myself with flammable substances as per doctor's orders.

What I didn't realise was that they were going to do stuff that relied on me having a steady resting blood pressure.  They put me in a corner to rest.  I am not sure it was a true reading.  I dragged bear to school this morning at top speed and then raced across town to try and get to the appointment in time.  I almost skidded into the reception and was four minutes late.  Fortunately the clinic was running thirty minutes late so I wasn't in trouble but I didn't have a stress free journey.  Then I started thinking about the fiction I was working on yesterday and it's a fight scene.  It wasn't exactly relaxing.  It turned out that my blood pressure was on the high side of normal, which is a bit worrying as I normally on the low side of normal, but I got the results they needed.

Now all I need to do is lose weight and exercise more.  I'll work on that next week.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

A visit to Father

Today father wanted me to buy him some perfume.  Nothing too much, around £20 per bottle, just something nice.  He wants presents to dish out.  Between my bewilderment (you want to spend how much on scent?!?) and his problems with speech, I was a bit at sea, but I think I need to consider bulk purchases.  He will want to hand out 'nice' presents to every nurse and carer in the building.  I approve.  I just hope that I can keep up with his demand.  There are stacks of wine bottles building up in the corners of his wardrobe and he asked me to bring in some Christmas cards.  After the disaster of last year's Christmas card purchasing, that was not a problem.  I think father also has Views on presents for bear - though I am insisting those are kept with father and opened with father.

Thank goodness I am on such good terms with ebay.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Bear is worrying me

He has watched YouTube videos about the periodic table, he has watched YouTube videos about acceleration and inertia, he has watched YouTube videos exposing sodium to water - and giggled.

Now he is watching a video giving a comparison of calculators.

I wish I was making this up.  I don't think he understands most of it, but I am sitting here terrified he will ask me question because I will be totally stuffed.  Anyway, I now have to go and boil the water for pasta for tea - apparently it boils at a lower temperature in higher altitudes.  Yep, bear has watched a video about that as well.

Please let him just keep his questions about toilet rolls.  

Monday 24 November 2014

Morgan is now tempting me.

Morgan recommended Nicky toilet roll from their local Tesco.  Ours don't carry it, darn.

I have had a think.  The amount of energy and effort I am expending on this search for the perfect loo roll purchase is ridiculous.  It's taking far too much of my attention.

I'm going to get it with the rest of my groceries and try not to look, except when I am in Makro. All bets are off in Makro.  Or if they start selling Nicky locally.  Or any other reason.

I shall now start fretting about Christmas.  Actually, it's pretty much covered.  I just need to start writing cards, pick up one or two things and wrap some presents.  I have nothing to stress about.  It isn't good planning, and it isn't good discipline.  It is a combination of too much interest in shopping and not many to buy for.

I'm 11,000 words into a novel which I am optimistic will go somewhere.  I'll stress about that instead.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Witch Hazel leads me into bad ways...

Witch Hazel commented below about looking for toilet rolls when Makro are doing a two for one deal.  I couldn't help it, I had a look.  I found some kitchen roll.  The current stuff is cardboard tough and unabsorbent and was extremely inexpensive from Approved Food.  I now understand why.  I found this stuff.

This stuff lasted me for ages.  I am very parsimonious when it comes to kitchen roll and use torn up newspaper a lot of the time, so at £6.35 for 36 rolls it is a decent deal and also compares very favourably with Tesco.  It would probably last all year.  The toilet paper at @ £12 for 24 rolls is not quite as good as Tesco, even if it was BOGOF it would not be beating Tesco significantly and I would not be walking for thirty minutes carrying a vast quantity of bathroom paper and trying not to drop it if Tesco delivered.

Darn it, Witch Hazel, I'm going to call in on Makro and keep an eye out for their deals.  Thank you.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Feeling edgy

I'm down to my last nine roll pack of loo roll.  I don't know why, but more than anything toilet paper is the most comforting thing for me to stock pile.  I feel an immense sense of well being when I trip over an over-enthusiastically stocked pile of rolls.  Now I am feeling edgy.

On the other hand, I don't have the room or money to build a pointless stockpile.

It would make sense for me to get it with the groceries.  The delivery charge would be there anyway, and Tesco do basic toilet roll at £1 for 4 rolls.  Their eighteen roll pack of posh stuff is £6.50, or just over 36p per roll.  I already pay for the Tesco delivery saver, so if I stick to my aim of only getting the absolute minimum I am sure that I will need a bit of help getting the total up to the £25 before the delivery saver kicks in.

If I look at ebay or Amazon there is still the humungous delivery charge to be added, no matter how inexpensive the loo roll is, because it isn't cheap to send dozens of rolls through the post.  I mean, if I am desperate, I can always go to the local shop, they are not that expensive!

However that means I will have no toilet paper stockpile.  I shall feel the fear and do it anyway.  It may sound very trivial, but it is a really big step for me towards getting a streamlined, clutter free house.  It is just a very strange thing that these steps turn on.

Friday 21 November 2014

Tis the Season to Shut the Door!

I feel the cold.  Bear certainly doesn't.  He has a habit of shedding clothing as he wanders around and would happily spend most of his time in his vest.  The only exception is if he is getting out of bed, as the last few mornings bear has had to fight to get out of his pit instead of his usual eruption into the day.  The feeling of cold doesn't last long, though, and he is soon spraggled across the settee and shedding socks.  DH doesn't feel the cold as much, either.  He hangs around in his shirt, perfectly relaxed while I am shivering under a blanket.

I really feel the cold.  I really, really feel the cold.  I always wear slippers, sweaters, t-shirts and cardigans.  I snuggle into blankets and wear gloves and a hat when I go out.  I need the heating on.

I hate paying for heating.

I keep 'air exchange' in mind.  To function properly and safely we need a certain about of fresh air.  That means that I have the windows open at least once a day on each floor, even for a short time, as I race around trying to stay as warm as possible and flinching.  I wouldn't mind, our house is very warm and we don't really suffer as much as most.  However as I wince at the cold and the heating is so expensive I keep to the checklist.

Lined curtains at the double glazed windows, finally!  At the moment they are bunched up on the windowsill but I will, eventually, get my sewing machine working and shorten them so they don't cover the radiators.  If my sewing machine isn't sorted out soon I am using fabric glue.
Draft excluders
Thermostat on the central heating set to 19 degrees and on a restricted timer.  The rest of the time only heating the rooms we are in.
Low cost halogen heaters.
Slippers, socks, t-shirts under sweaters, blankets to snuggle in.
Hot drinks
Keeping moving, keeping ironing.
Lighting candles - it always surprises me how much extra warmth they can add over an evening as well as a lovely snuggly glow.
Leave the oven door open after cooking
Shut the internal doors to keep the warm in - I'm working on this.

I am fine with coming or going but I am not fine with sitting in a draught.  Bear is indifferent.  So this weekend I will be once again shouting 'Door!' and he will once again be shouting 'Darn!' and the doors will be slammed shut.  And again.  And again.  I will disappear downstairs for thirty minutes and will come up to find the heat from the heater in the study wafting happily up the stairs through the open door to the study, the door to the stairs and probably the door to the icy porch.

How do you make a nearly eight year old keep a door shut?  I could try threats but bear would snigger at me.  I could try bribery but I am being extremely tightfisted on the run up to Christmas, not just because of expense but also so he gets to appreciate the gifts.  Repetition isn't working.  He just good-naturedly chuckles and dashes back to slam the door - again.

All suggestions welcome.

Thursday 20 November 2014


I shouldn't grumble, I get quite good sleep on the whole, but last night was not impressive.  I kept sitting up half awake wondering why I wasn't in the bathroom or why Scottish Power had cut the energy to the Space Station while I was trying to talk to all these Klingons.  Yes, I have those sort of dreams and when I have disturbed sleep I remember more of them.  I suspect last night was because I got cold.

I am considering moving in to father's room.  It is warmer, quieter and more convenient for bear when bear has a nightmare at 4.40am (night before last - he now wants a dream catcher).  It seems wrong, though.  I don't want to feel like father is being pushed out.  If he did come home he would have to come back into the study, and it isn't looking likely.  All the logical and practical reasons say I should move in there.  I'm thinking about it.  He hasn't been in there since 20 July so I'm not rushing.  It seems so final though.  It also feels like I'm making a fuss over nothing.

One thing that is really dissuading me is that I am scared of father's bed.  It has one of those motor things which lifts and shunts and moves - I have too much imagination.  Bear is fully behind me sleeping there, though.  In his view it makes sense for me to be close at hand should he want me in the middle of the night, especially with all these recent nightmares.  He is very clear that a dream catcher will make all the difference.  As I consider them a complete waste and, while not wanting to be disrespectful to Native Americans, I find them a symptom of sloppy thinking.  Hopefully bear will grow out of it.

I really need to consider this when I have had more sleep.

Wednesday 19 November 2014


I confess - I have never decorated.  DH has papered three rooms - once when I was in hospital in the early nineties, once when I was at work and he had flu (it says a lot about DH that he manically papered when he had real, proper flu and was running on lemsip and adrenaline) back long before bear was born, around 1997, and once when bear was expected.  He did a pretty good job each time, but it's not his natural habitat.

I feel a bit of a failure as a wife.  In DH's family it is usually the women who decorate.  My mother didn't decorate and while father did, I never lived with him to 'labour' for him and learn the ropes until he moved in with us, and then I was too terrified to let him decorate as he would insist on going up ladders.  Besides, the house has been far too cluttered to even think about it.

I have lost count of the number of times I have blogged about my determination to lose clutter and have a good clear out, but actually, the house is currently a bit clearer.  It isn't clear and it isn't really clean but it is a lot better.  There is a really noticeable difference.

Yesterday, as I cast on the back for bear's slipover, I found myself watching 'how to decorate' videos on YouTube.  B&Q have done a whole series.  I suppose they found it worth while, and it helps them to sell products.  I noticed that they had 'decorator scissors' not 'sharp scissors'.  On the other hand I am sure there are people out there who would try and cut wall paper with nail scissors.  In the right frame of mind I would be one of them.

I'm not saying I'm going to decorate.  I am just saying it's a scary possibility after my confession of lack experience. But what could go that wrong?  Besides, I don't want bear to grow up like me in a house where decorating never happens.  On the other hand, it looks incredibly difficult.

I have also thought of a good plot line for an erotic novel and I'm a bit worried about that as well.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Tesco Win


Tesco were running a promotion that if I spent £40 this week I could save £40 off my shopping next week.  I didn't want to spend £40.  However after facing up to the horrific state of DH's duvet cover I added on a duvet cover from Tesco for £14, and while I was at it I made the total up to £40.28.

Tesco Basics Reversible Duvet Set King Size Navy/Brze
Image taken from the Tesco website - I'll review the product later!

I will still end up spending more than I wanted to next week, but there are a lot of little bits I can get for bear's stocking, so it could be worse.  We certainly don't need alcohol and I'm running down the freezer in the run up to Christmas, but I will be adding glittery paint and paper to the basket.

I also pottered through town today on the way to visit father and saw this - it made me smile.

Though I wish I could reproduce bear's expression when I explained to him this morning that it wasn't a new door bell next door but a Christmas decoration.   Next door get a bit giddy.  To be honest, this year so am I!

Monday 17 November 2014


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I'm claiming my blog at bloglovin, though I don't think anyone else would admit to it.


DH really needs new bedding.  His duvet is limp and flat and his duvet cover is frayed and the seams have gone - the material has given way so I can't re-sew it.  At least his sheets are fine.  I got quite expensive ones a long time ago and they are holding up well.  I think that is the thing that annoys me the most.  I spent quite a lot on DH's duvet cover and was promised good workmanship and good quality cotton.  I have had neither.  Of course, it is older than bear, but not by much.

When it comes to sheets I do think it is worth buying expensive, buying reputable and buying once.  There is still a blanket upstairs that my parents got for a wedding present in 1963.  I wonder how many of today's blankets will keep going?

I usually buy cheap and cheerful but some things I think are worth paying for.  I got an extremely expensive set of pans back in 2003 or 2004.  They still look new and likely will outlast me.  Yes, I got them at half price, but they were still phenomenally expensive and I swear my hand trembled as I handed over the money - half price at £125!  The shop has gone now, but they had some wonderful kitchenware that not only cost a lot of money but at the same time were absolute bargains.  

I suppose I could wait until the January sales for bedding, but to be honest I am not sure that the sales are worth much these days.  Prices are artificially inflated on the run up to the sales, and you can quite often get a decent bargain another time.  I don't think DH has noticed, but I care about his quality of sleep.

I am seriously considering cheap and cheerful for a short term duvet cover replacement and then I will start some serious research.  A John Lewis should be opening in town within the next two years, so I could get cheap until their first sale - and I can have fun looking!

Sunday 16 November 2014

Another Bear Day

Bear loves his weekends.  He spends a lot of time with DH on Saturdays - yesterday they had breakfast out, had a good drive around, visited father, and bear got a chance to let a tarantula walk all over his hand!

I decided not to put up a pic from Wiki Commons as it may be a bit cruel on any arachnophobe coming across it unexpectedly.

He had a long cartoon watching marathon with DH, lots of cuddles and some stories.

Today he and I are chilling on our respective computers.  I may bring my blanket it.  It will be interrupted soon as bear has decided that it is my duty to knit him a sweater, as that is what mum's do.  Whether he will wear it is another thing.  Rather reluctantly I scrolled around Deramores and got bear to approve a slipover, plus the appropriate yarn, plus a little extra for a scarf.  Then I grumbled about when knitting was a cheap way to get clothes.  The pattern is here and the yarn is here.  Bear has asked that it is knitted in Berry.  I am still not sure why I said 'Yes' when really I should be saying, 'Are you going to actually wear an actual slipover?  You can't keep your shirt on at the moment.'

It shouldn't be hard.  It shouldn't take long.  I should know better.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Thoughtful presents

I have watched bear play with a particular thing of mine relentlessly over the last few days, having huge amounts of fun and getting up to quite a bit of mischief.  He has found one hundred and one uses for this thing and it took me all my time to claim back my own.

Given that he has had so much fun, I am getting him this rather mundane thing as a Christmas present and I know he will have at least as much fun with that as with his other much more expensive and carefully chosen toys.

So the question is, do I put the rubber gloves in his stocking or wrapped in the pile downstairs?

Bear has been playing with my gloves and has previously decorated them, splashed with them, used them as web shooters in a Spider Man game, actually used them for sensible stuff like cleaning out paint pots, squeaked them up and down windows and on the whole had far too much fun.  I've found some really cool looking ones for £1.59 (p&p inc - thank you ebay) and I can't wait to see what he does with them.  Hopefully he will wear them during painting, playing with the crystal growing kit, possibly even while washing stones - but I am sure he will not limit himself.

Friday 14 November 2014

An extra Day Off

It's a training day, and as bear is absolutely exhausted by life at the moment I was hoping for a lie in.  Bear had strict instructions to go back to sleep when Daddy went to work and see if he could catch up.

Actually bear lasted until 8am which is practically noon for him.  Then he told me he was too hyper to stay in bed so was going downstairs.  I gave instructions about getting himself some cereal and juice and told him I was going back to bed.  I hunkered down but at 8.15 bear called up to say sorry for breaking a plate and all in all could I make his breakfast.

8.15 isn't bad, a lot of people would be grateful for it and I know DH would.

As it is tipping down relentlessly bear has spent the day so far lounging around.  He hasn't even bothered with any maths.  I am making the most of it.  He has been boneless watching people drawing on YouTube while I have sneaked in a spot of ironing and some very minor pottering.

I am not sure what to do with myself.  I am actually a bit fed up.  I am no nearer getting bear's blanket finished than I was at the start of the week but the ironing pile has shrunk considerably and I've cleared out a load of rubbish from the bathroom.  In fact I have completely re-jigged it and given it a good clean.  I even cleaned behind the fridge the other day - anything except deal with the objective I set myself.  I think I may suggest bear and I watch the Lego Movie (again) and I can get some knitting done then.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Alcohol Again

With father not being here we are going through a lot less alcohol.  To be fair, I have made some serious inroads recently but the humiliating trip to the bottle bank isn't quite as bad.  DH has joined father in many glasses of whisky and lemonade over the years, and still likes an occasional tipple.  And while a bottle lasts considerably longer, it is still worth buying up a few when I see a bargain.

I have just seen Famous Grouse 1L bottles for £15.  That is incredibly cheap.  That is probably the cheapest I have seen it in over a year.  It is amazing.  Two of those would have lasted father a week.  One will last DH quite a bit longer, and he really enjoys a glass now and again.  Of course I am going to buy some - but how much?  Should I get one bottle and be happy in the knowledge that the £15 will easily see November out?  The RRP is £22 for a litre, and it isn't unusual to see small bottles at more than £15.  I could get two and be safe that the run up to Christmas will be covered.  DH is bound to get a bottle over Christmas as a present - father will insist, although Naked Grouse is also on at a very reasonable price.

If I get three it will certainly take us up to Christmas Day.  Other offers aren't likely to be quite as good.  Even checking on the graph on shows it is a superb deal.  Should I go for four?  There are never decent deals on booze in January.  The whisky won't go off and it really is an amazing deal.  But then I would be spending £60 on alcohol - I thought I had escaped that!

I've a feeling it's going to be another 'four bottles of whisky and a small bag of frozen mince' again.  I shall get another Look.  Thank goodness we don't always get the same driver.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Second Thoughts

I have been thinking about the quilt I want to make.  I've been wanting to make it for years and years.  Sigh.  I bought the vast amount of second hand grade C denim shirts, cut them into their component parts, started working on getting my machine going (brief pause during a very full summer) and I don't think it will work.  The material is all different weights.  No matter how carefully I work it and try and match, at some point the heavier material will be pulling away from the lighter stuff.

Darn it to heck.

I am not making it ornamental, as I want something warm for cuddling on the sofa.  I really, really, really want to make it, and I would like it that bit different from the general run of quilts.   So I am going to buy some decent, hardwearing denim at the best price I can manage, give it about a zillion washes and make the quilt from there.  I will still use it as my first project and I will still enjoy using it.  I have some ideas about applique for some of the rag denim - like these

As for the extremely large tub full of pieces of rag denim, I've been wanting to make a rag rug for some time.  I don't mean the traditional rag rug, but one that is like this

So the rag denim won't be wasted, I will get a chance to get at two different projects that I have wanted to do for some time and I will have a chance to do some shopping for fabric.  It could be worse.

I just searched images for denim rags to put in the blog.  I didn't find one that I particularly wanted, but I found a lot of inspiration!

Monday 10 November 2014

Getting Ready For Christmas

I have been depressing myself reading various blogs about Christmas preparations.  One was about home made mincemeat and getting it made now.  I suppose it must be about the time of Stir Up Sunday.  I ought to be getting my pudding cloths out.

Of course I won't.  It is cheaper to buy a gluten free Christmas pudding (already purchased and snug in the cupboard) than it is to make a decent quality one, not to mention the saving on time, stress and steaming up the kitchen.  I have made mincemeat in the past, but no-one likes it.  I usually buy six mince pies every Christmas and I usually throw away four.  That's even when I buy the 'nice' expensive ones.  I used to make actually quite palatable Christmas cake but while everyone agreed that it was a nice Christmas cake, no-one really likes Christmas cake no matter who made it.  Even the M&S Christmas cake wasn't finished off, and that was one of their posh ones.  

I shall get some fruit in, which will almost certainly go to waste, and I shall get some chocolate in, which will almost certainly not.  I shall do a roast joint of beef or an Aldi three bird roast as DH doesn't like turkey.  Besides, even a turkey crown would be wasted on three and I am still scarred by childhood memories of 23lb turkeys that wouldn't fit in the oven (seriously, my mother had to take the shelves out and grease the sides).

Each year I get less stuff in.  We don't get any sadder.  Christmas still is a magical time for bear.  We are warm, safe, happy and blessed.  It's just that every year I cut back a little bit and every year there is a bit less waste.  So bah humbug, we are not getting or making mincemeat, mince pies or Christmas cake.  Instead we are just going to enjoy ourselves and stuff the adverts instead of a turkey.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Bear has done his homework

Bear has finally done his homework.  He gets homework on Fridays so normally I start my campaign to get it done as I pick him up, but we had an amazing playdate on Friday evening.  Saturdays are usually kept calm and his favourite pal was visiting next door so bear had a full play plus he started putting together the Kano.  It is a package where the child puts together a motherboard, memory card, keyboard etc and basically builds a computer.  Not only does bear get a chance to do that but he also gets to play games on it while learning how to code as part of the games, plus he gets to do sound and drawing stuff and works towards making his own games.  Then there was a long run up to a storming episode of Doctor Who.  Bear didn't get his homework done yesterday.

Today bear settled down.  The maths homework he rattled through and there was something to do with French, though I think bear got a bit side tracked with that.  He had to sign on to a site and do stuff and ended up on the sign language page.  I may need to ask a few more questions when his friend has gone home.

Then we came to literacy.  Bear can read.  He takes the view that of course he can read.  Reading is easy.  Writing out stuff is boring and as he can recite huge swathes of probably true facts from YouTube videos I can see his point.  Mind you, he didn't manage much further than about five on the periodic table when he tried to memorise it.  He also turned around, gave me a withering look and said, 'That is quite enough, thank you.' when I corrected his pronunciation of 'macho' as he was reading some text on a (quite respectable) internet site.  I just concentrate on the homework.  I don't actually check the homework.  I just insist that it is done.  I believe that it is then up to him to get the credit or blame for the content, despite bear's best efforts to include me in the literacy process.

I did slip a bit on the last bit today.  Bear was writing down five facts about Ancient Egypt and he rattled off a few, including that the Nile was flooded by the rains from Indonesia.  I blinked and asked him whether he was sure about that.  He thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was probably something about Inundation but he was using more interesting stuff anyway.  By the way, did I know that the son of a famous Pharaoh got wrapped in a sheepskin as a mark of dishonour?  

I have told bear's teachers that I don't contribute to his homework.  I am not sure if they believe me.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Trying to Pronounce 'Quinoa'

Bear has been falling on the floor in giggles as I try and work out the correct way to call the dratted stuff.  The Ainsley Harriott Lime and Chilli Quinoa and Basmati rice was on an incredible deal at Approved Food, and when we tried it the other day I worked out why.  It tastes like it is good for you, that is, not very warming.  Bear utterly rejected it.

I don't mind it so much when there is sufficient ketchup on it, so I will be having it for lunch until the last of the stuff runs out.  If I can get sufficient ketchup I may even order more at the very reasonable price on Approved Food.  It is apparently good for me.

Actually it is good for me in a non-nutritional sense.  You have to measure out water, put it on the stove, keep a half hearted eye on it for 16-18 minutes, leave it covered to stand and then serve.  These days my cooking style is 'bung'.  I 'bung' it in the oven/microwave/slowcooker and walk away until something goes ping.  Even the Spanish Tortilla (still a bit hit and miss but a huge favourite with bear and DH) while it may have a fiddly peeling stage still gets the 'bung' as I drop the sliced onions and potatoes in the remoska and walk away for fifteen to twenty minutes.  It is a miracle that anything gets peeled.

When my grandmother first started keeping house in 1937 this would have seemed like miracle food.  I read the old, economy cookbooks and there are a lot of long, slow, laborious recipes.  I love that I no longer have to make jelly by boiling up a calf's foot.  Actually I love that I can buy ready made jelly at a very reasonable price, and I have been known to do so.

So while I may be pathetically grateful for the convenience now, it will do me a lot of good to just stir something for a bit rather than just wait for something to go 'ping'.  Besides, I have worked out that I can just use the packet with the quinoa and basmati rice and leave out the flavouring, and a very small dash of gluten free soy sauce and some ketchup and I will have a very palatable lunch.  

Friday 7 November 2014

Bear wears a vest

Bear has Views.  Last year I couldn't get him into a vest at gunpoint.  To be fair to bear, last year's winter was warm, their school is an exceptionally warm place, the house is never that icy and the distance between home and school is very short indeed.  I didn't bother buying vests this year.

Yesterday bear was very disappointed at my failure, as a mother, to provide vests.  You know, the things I couldn't force him in to last year.  The white things that he avoided like the plague.  The clothing equivalent of torture.  Today he went into school wearing the last vest that still fitted him and a martyred expression.

Fortunately, ebay is my friend.  Six vests are on their way.

To be honest, I can't say I blame him for wanting to wear comfort clothing.  It has been quite brisk here, even in our sheltered spot, and this morning was very damp indeed.  I would say that today is the worst school run for weather since bear started back in September.  It wasn't a bad school run, though, or a miserable one.  I saw a very stately heron in the beck this morning and I was struck by its elegance and poise - and its size!  The small brown bird that flew crossly over the path as I got home was very small indeed, smaller than the average sparrow.  I've googled images of wrens and it is plausible, and there are lots of dense bits of bramble and hawthorn around so I suppose it could be.  It was such a contrast - the large, stately, aristocratic heron and the small, irritated, ruffled brown bird with extra attitude.  I got absolutely drenched dropping bear off at school but I was smiling when I got in.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Bonfire Night

Father insisted we took money out and got fireworks, large quantities of them and extra rockets.  So I hid in the house and bear and DH had fun.  The remains are still scattered all over the garden.  Bear of course recorded the occasion.  I think it was too dark for the video to work properly but father will get to see all the photos on Saturday.

The people at the back were playing loud music at 2am this morning.  I was incredibly unimpressed.  As they don't make a habit of it, I am okayish, but if I had had a voodoo doll handy at 2am someone would be walking with a limp.  DH has had a few bad nights and it is incredibly unfair on him.

At some point I am going to have to sort out the freezer of doom.  I am going to throw away anything I consider a bit iffy.  If I am going to constantly be looking at stuff and pulling a face and putting it back all I have is small, frozen, ugly, useless ornaments.  I want the space.  As it is I have only a faint idea of what is in there, and I want to defrost and stock up for Christmas.

Off to find out if IKEA meatballs are gluten free.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Not throwing things out

I have been flinging things with abandon.  I've just got rid of so much.  The bin sacks and boxes are piling up in the garden and I have a few bits for the charity shop starting to mount up again after the last big push.

I was looking closer at two things today.  One was a large sack of embroidery floss.  Some of it was my grandmother's and she passed in 1987.  There are lots of bits, ends, discontinued numbers, odd shades and nameless lengths - the detritus from a hundred kits and projects.  It is a very large amount, but I never seem to dig in to it.  When I do pick up a cross stitch needle it is usually a kit with floss included.  I couldn't think of a reason to keep it.  I even checked on my friend ebay and there are plenty of inexpensive bundles of cross stitch floss should I ever want to get going again.  Besides, surely it was rotten after all this time.  However when I opened it the stuff seemed fine and a bit of stamped embroidery I started a while back fell out.  I remember how happy I was to start it, and how I got broken off and the bits I wanted to do - I got nostalgic.  I miss doing cross stitch, but my eyes get so tired.  I think I can hang on to these bits for a little longer, just to see if I can get back to it.  It is on borrowed time, though.

The other thing I was looking at was a set of folders.  I am a sucker for those 'collect' magazines.  I have collected all sorts of rubbish.  However I got this set and loved it.  I always used to really look forward to these coming at the newsagents.  One was a 'decorate your home' type and one was a 'decorative needlework' type - I can't remember their names.  Sigh.  I loved them, leafed through them, dreamed of the projects, never got anything done.  They are both incredibly dated.  I don't think I can part with them, though.  There are still some useful techniques and I plan to revisit and perhaps have another go.  They are a bit safer.

On the other hand, with practically everything else all bets are off!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Bear and School

I've been dreading this for a while.  I've known it was coming.  It is finally here.  Bear has come home with a letter saying that his year and the next are learning a musical instrument and it is the recorder.

The recorder - an instrument designed for torturing parents.  I've heard all the medieval stuff and baritone recorders and stuff.  That can be magical.  Bear is not getting a baritone recorder nor will he be playing Restoration tunes.  He will be having the standard issue job lot as issued by the school and no doubt massacring Greensleeves.  The basic plastic recorder is still a foul and dreadful thing.  I am going to be paying £2.70 for the privilege as well.

Bear is happy, though, as he now has a case for his 'new' phone.  He has been pacing around flashing the Doctor Who case and trying all the angles and details.  He will almost certainly need a replacement by Christmas, but I may delegate that gift to uncle.

Targets for last week were failed abysmally.  I am not sure what the best line of attack is now - whether to continue or to change tactic.  This week I will continue to aim to finish the blanket, and I will see how that goes.

Monday 3 November 2014

Being Chugged

When I took bear into town last week I was approached a couple of times by the charity fundraisers.  Each time I politely said, 'No thank you,' and each time they persisted until they got the death stare.  I don't like being approached when I am with a young lad, it isn't right that they won't take 'no' for an answer.

I tried to explain it to bear.  These people are earning money depending on how many people they sign up. They may have families to feed, and bills to pay, and you can understand them being persistent.  It is okay to say, 'no' but it is fair to be polite.  However the charities often don't get so much of the money that they raise.  A certain amount is taken off from the donation to the charity, and I believe if the standing order is cancelled before the collector has got the full amount then the charity has to hand over that money.  I tried to explain to bear that if you wanted the charity to get the most of the money then it was  best to pay online or make a donation in a charity shop.  Bear found the whole thing a little odd.  I felt sad that part of the process of getting bear into a functional adult was explaining some of the ways you can be ripped off by someone apparently working for a good cause.

Bear isn't too bothered, however, as he continues to use the phone as a video camera.  I touched the subject of video editing software for Christmas with DH.  Apparently video editing software comes with Windows.  Sigh.  Evidence of my lack of housekeeping will be on YouTube before I can blink, I can tell.  Possibly with a soundtrack.  Yesterday we went on a walk and bear spent every muddy moment videoing.  When you play it back I am sure you will hear me in the background saying, 'Watch what your feet are doing!' again and again and again.  It was only a bit of scrubby grassland and he treated it like a route march.

I have a happy bear and that is what matters.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Mistaken phone

Bear has just wandered in.  He has enjoyed working with the noises app, the whip crack app (don't ask), the alarm, the stop watch, the timer, the music and I am working on the calendar.  He was a bit put out when he realised voice recognition didn't work unless there was a connection.

"You do know that I know how to turn on the wifi connection." He said calmly, and wandered off.

Tonight I am going to wait until he is in bed and delete every single bit of video evidence of my appalling housewifery.

Speaking of which, I have just frozen some soup but I am not entirely sure how successful it is.  I will wait and see.

Saturday 1 November 2014

The phone was a mistake

Bear is making videos with my elderly ex-phone.  I am slightly suspicious about the videos where bear calmly describes his drawings.  I am not keen on him getting anything loaded up on YouTube, so I foresee a battle of wills on that front.  However there are worse things.

The worse things are that bear is now making a video of our house.  It needs a clean.  He is in the kitchen and the dishwasher needs loading.  He is making a video of the pile of washing next to the washing machine.  This video is being uploaded nowhere.

Bear has wanted to make videos for YouTube for a long time.  Now he has a means to make videos.  I am going to regret this.

Bear is getting a phone

It goes like this...

DH is getting a new phone under his contract.  He is not paying any more, so he is fine.  I am getting DH's former phone.  This leaves my creaking relic.

My phone is very old indeed in phone years.  Any geek would snigger at it.  It stops working at 50% charge and is too old for half the apps around.  However it is a smartphone and bear has played games on it when I was seeing the doctor/nurse/healthcare professional over the summer.  In fact it was a lifeline when I had to deal with unpleasant things and needed bear occupied and out of earshot.

So DH has gone into my old phone.  There is now no sim so no phone calls.  The wifi is disabled but DH can fiddle with it for downloading eg ebooks with the Kindle App that is still there.  It is one of the few apps left, DH has taken off lots of apps and bits and pieces so that it is only really the games which bear can play plus stuff like the Kindle and the calculator.  We will explain the rules and be very clear - this is not to go into the bedroom, it is to stay in the house.  We will be watching what he does and we will not let him get away with anything.

I hope we are doing the right thing.