Category Archives: Edinburgh

When cliches start to make sense…

Why are we all so scared of getting old?

It’s easy to ward off the flab and the bad health if you just go to the gym and eat healthily – as for wrinkles and sag, I think I’d rather look natural than inflated.

I feel myself getting more and more comfortable in my skin. Life teaches you some tough lessons as you gather responsibilities. All those old cliches begin to make sense.

Be yourself. This drove me insane as a teenager because who the hell was I? Who did I want the world to think I was? Now I know what makes me happy, what’s important to me, what I will stand up for and what makes me uncomfortable. I’ve learned that ignoring these things bothers me for days. Don’t you hate that feeling of ‘God I wish I’d said something’? So now I do. (most of the time)

Beauty is only skin deep. I never even understood this phrase – like how deep is skin? Now I’ve met enough boring beauties and handsome arseholes to get it. People whose beauty conforms to 21st century standards are rarely good company. In my experience they’re pretty low in self-confidence and fairly draining to be around.

Just ignore the bullies. Yeah – cos that was possible in the playground. There was one lunchtime though, age nine, when I was in the firing line, and I leaned through the gate to talk to the lollipop man. He was elderly and hilarious – full of stories. Now I know there is ALWAYS someone to talk to, if you just look around. Bullying is a fact of life – people abuse power absolutely everywhere – so you might as well hone your coping mechanisms. I’ve also figured out that, when someone is upsetting you, think about the worst thing they could do and make your peace with it. Their power over you vanishes. I had a boss whose relentless demands nearly made me ill. When I realised that if she fired me I had genuine options, I stopped letting her get to me. I also developed those options and handed in my notice.

Love yourself. Ooft. Now if I had the answer to this one I’d call myself the Messiah. I think women in particular are very bad at being nice to themselves. I have this one friend who’s like a mirror. She and I beat ourselves up about things and turn to each other for comfort. One day we realised we would never speak to each other in the tone of our internal monologues, so we resolved to change. I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who’s adored me since I was 17 so I’ve always had a foundation of ‘if this wonderful guy loves me that much, I must be OK’. Of course the devil on my shoulder reminds me I didn’t date very much so maybe no one else would have had me. I think, as I work through challenges and counsel friends through hard times, I’m realising how powerful love really is.

It’s all water under the bridge. This once vague concept has become pretty central to it all, really. The bridge is our path through life – sometimes it feels strong and sturdy, other times it sways slightly and, let’s face it, on occasion it feels like it will be washed away by the torrent. It’s all about how you perceive the river. I try very hard to keep my bridge strong and fortify it with the people I love and the things that make me happy. Everything else I consign to the water and let it wash away. It’s not allowed to stick to my bridge. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to scrape away the flotsam and jetsam. I guess it’s like the Forth Road Bridge. I’ll never be finished painting it.

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Filed under Edinburgh, health, Uncategorized

Best friends

Isn’t it just the cutest when your toddler becomes a proper wee lad with views on the world and a proper best friend?

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I feel like our wee Smoosh has grown up so much in the last few months. The things he comes out with just astonish me. He remembers everything, which frequently catches me out, and he repeats everything. Rod insists it was me who “taught” him the F word – but when he said it to Grammy, after she’d told him to stop playing with the gas hob, he added: “That’s what daddy says”…

Last night in the car on the way home from Glasgow I said: “Hey – no sleeping!” and his answer nearly made me crash.
“I’m not sleeping mummy – I’m just chilling.”

He’s such a sociable wee lad (he and his friend Lewis yell “Hi stinky bum” across the street at each other at the school drop off) but his very best friend has remained constant for a long time now. I’ll call him Spiderman because that’s who he thinks he is.

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The woman in the supermarket asked me if they were twins.

Spiderman’s mummy is also a superhero, she saves me frequently, including when I crashed the car last week. It is so great to have a friend who will happily take your kids or give you hers, who also lives a few streets away and who shares your guilty passion for alcohol on a weeknight. She loans me her daughter too, when I want to play makeup or princesses.

I spend a lot of time discussing how hard being a mum is – but actually, friends like that make it wonderful. I’m lucky to have her and all the other awesome strong mums around me who get it – so I’m going to take a day off from the moaning.

I’ll be back tomorrow no doubt.

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33 times when you know you’re a mum

You know you’re a mum when:

1 The supermarket checkout looks like this:

2 You come home from visiting your best friend, your partner asks how she is and you have no idea. You’ve spent the afternoon breaking up fights, cleaning up spills and interrupting every sentence with “NO! Don’t do that!”

3 Your washing line looks like this: 

4 You start referring to 7am as ‘a long lie’

5 Your reflexes become superhuman – you can catch a small child as they run onto the road using only the sound of their footsteps.

6 You think this is totally normal: 

7 Nakedness is no longer odd, sexy or even slightly unusual.

8 Every time you open a kitchen cupboard, a packet of Hula Hoops falls out.

9 Every time a packet of Hula Hoops falls out a cupboard you catch it with your superhuman reflexes.

10 You have a playlist called “Chillout” and you play it top volume to drown out the screaming.

11 Your own parents start putting up signs: 

12 Your car, once your pride and joy, smells like McDonalds, has at least three jackets in the boot and has snacks stored in every pocket.

13 You no longer buy heels. Or anything white.

14 You spend a lot of time sitting in your car, eating snacks, because someone is finally asleep in the back.

15 You don’t even look in H&M adults any more, you go straight to the kids’ section and spend more than you ever spent on yourself.

16 You’ve started visiting Poundland because they have cheap stickers and no one cares if your kids run riot.

17 You used to go to parks for a run – or, centuries ago, to have a sneaky fag or snog. Now you’re there every day, bargaining with a toddler who’s stripped half naked and lain down on a bench.

18 Even though you’re finally realising you’re an adult and should have a Drinks Cabinet – the booze never hangs around long enough for you to create one.

19 You’ve become very tidy, simply because your children eat mess.

20 You used to eat out frequently, now you’re lucky to eat a McDonalds with a decent view.

21 You are obsessed with keys.

22 Any dreams you had of a flower-filled garden have been crushed.

23 You’ve stopped buying newspapers (no time to read them), watching the news channel (drowned out by wails for Peppa Pig) or even listening to it on the radio after your child started paying attention and asking awkward questions you’re so not ready to deal with.

24 Even though you never used to particularly go out for cake, it’s now your Friday saviour (or Tuesday or every damn day): 

25 You’ve mastered that quiet scary voice your mum always used to make you shit yourself.

26 You get overexcited when you finally get a night out and inevitably get too drunk and slightly disgrace yourself.

27 You are no longer woken by an alarm clock. You’re woken by a headlock.

28 You don’t even put up a fight any more when a small child wants to do your makeup.

29 You always carry wipes – even to business meetings. Hell, especially to business meetings. Is that banana or shit on your sleeve?

30 You bribe your children for the smallest thing – even five minutes of no fighting is totally worth two brand new bumper sticker books.

31 Interiors decisions are no longer based on aesthetics, they’re based on durability, wipeability and whether they can be glued back together.

32 You pick your battles wisely: 

33 You do occasionally get overwhelmed with love:

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How to tidy – in 13 steps

 

 

 

 

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Monkey business

Usually it’s the Wee Man behaving like a chimpanzee in confined public places… but looks like all the bad press I’ve been giving him has resulted in a cabinet reshuffle. KD is now King of the Apes.

From 5.30 this morning he has been stamping around, making demands and throwing his weight about. I lost him three separate times in the playground for god’s sake.

My optimist trumped my pragmatist when one of the mums suggested coffee and cake at the local cafe – I should never have let him loose in the wild.

He helped himself to smoothies from the fridge, locked another child in the play area and sat on every seat at the table, pronouncing each one dissatisfactory.

When the waitress brought the cakes out for the display I had to dive Klinsman-style to stop his sticky little fingers digging straight in, then physically restrain him from swapping a chunk with his wee pal Willow for an Oreo. By throwing it at her.

The final straw was Innocent – yep, I sat down on the carton, spraying pink liquid all over my white trousers.

As the other mums tried valiantly to suppress their guffaws and supply tissues I pronounced I was leaving. KD, of course, took that as a cue to toddle happily into the play area and start making cups of tea at the play kitchen. I turned to say goodbye to my pals and he shot past me, out the door, into the street and off down the hill.

Me and my pink arse lumbered after him, holding him squirming and throwing a tenner at the poor waitress as he yelled “MY CAKE! MY NOT FINISHED!”.

I am now sitting in the parking lot for B&M stores, taking deep breaths while he snores in his car seat. A nap at 10.40. I don’t even care. We’re going to a special event at the zoo tonight from 6-9pm so he’d never last without it. They have a splendid chimp enclosure….

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Filed under Edinburgh, food, KD

Summer holidays are over

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I’m not going to lie, the last 46 days have been very hard graft. It’s the first time I’ve gone seven weeks without childcare for the Wee Man since he was six months old – and at least then he didn’t move. Now, he’s on the go from the moment he opens his eyes until the second he reluctantly shuts them – his zest for life is undeniable.

Plus he now has a wee brother who’s nearly three and has his own ideas about how the house and schedule should be run. Thank goodness for private nursery three days a week… I’ve managed to juggle my workload and thank God I’m self-employed. If I had a real job I would certainly have been sacked. All the childcare I thought I had lined up fell through, for a variety of reasons. My own naiveté was the main one, coupled with human error, expense and changes to holiday plans. It was frustrating and stressful. The weather was mostly rubbish, the days often began at 6am and all the driving to adventure parks and beaches resulted in KD napping at all sorts of inappropriate times. The bedtime and sleep routine were, for the most part, f*cked.

Yet here I am, the night before primary two, feeling emotional.

My mum spent the day with us and we had some lovely chats (in between hanging on to a dog and two boys on scooters) discussing my first summer holidays and how hard they are for everyone. I felt reassured and fired up – this afternoon I made a lasagne and filled a load of tupperware with jelly and mandarins ready for the lunchboxes.

summer holidays are over

summer holidays are over

This will never happen again – neither will I ever iron the Wee Man’s uniform (why bother when you can tumble dry it for ten mins) – but I’m pretending to be all #kickassmum and #winningatlife and whatever.

For his part, the Wee Man is so so ready to go back to school. He misses his pals and the structure of his day. I miss my pals too! The social side of the Wee Man’s school is great. The parking is shocking so everyone walks up together, plus the catchment is pretty small so we all live nearby. It’s a cosmopolitan crowd, lots of languages and backgrounds, which I love – the chat in the playground is interesting and I’ve missed it. I need my routine back too.

As for the weather, well, of course today was a scorcher.

Now that the schools are back the sunshine will no doubt beat down til October.

Oh christ – the October Week.

 

The Pramshed

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Filed under Edinburgh, education, holidays, school

How to tidy – in 13 steps

As a mum of three boys – oh, oops – two boys and one husband – all I seem to do is tidy up their mess.

Despite daily reminders, the clothes are always in a pile by the bath, the packaging is always on the counter, not in the bin and the toys… I mean I’m drowning in rainbow plastic.

If, like me, the summer holidays have meant more children and more mess for you, then hopefully this will help – how to tidy in 13 steps.

Step 1 – Open all the curtains and make all the beds. This way you can see what you’re doing and you have a flat surface in each room to pile shit on.

Step 2 – Empty all the bins. You’re going to need somewhere to put all the shit.

Step 3 – Do a laundry audit. Where are you in the process? (Yes, boys, laundry is a four stage process. Shoving some pants in the washing machine does NOT mean you’ve “done the washing”.) Take the dry stuff off the clothes horse/radiator/back of the chairs – or tumble dryer if you’ve thrown money at the problem – and chuck it all on the biggest bed you made, then work backwards. Hang up wet stuff, throw in a new load of dirty clothes – cos let’s face it, that laundry basket is never empty.

Step 4 – Clear the draining board and empty the dishwasher. Now you have somewhere to put the dirty stuff.

Step 5 – Gather all the dirty stuff – the glasses from the bedsides, the cups from the tables, the random spoons from the floors/garden/toybox and dump them in rough size order near the sink/dishwasher.

Step 6 – Do a sweep of downstairs and pile all the stuff that should be on the floor above, on the stairs.

Step 7 – Tackle the living room. Tidy it, plump the cushions etc and then, if there are no little people around (hurray!) light a scented candle. This will be your sanctuary while you tackle the rest of this dull-as-shit process.

Step 8 – Tidy the rest of downstairs but not the kitchen. If you have a downstairs loo, clean it. Take a quick run upstairs with that pile you made and dump it on another bed.

NOW STOP. Sit in your sanctuary with a cup of tea – or something stronger – and decide how arsed you can be with the rest of the house. Technically, you’ve done the most important bits. This is all that visitors will see – unless you have one of those fabulous open plan kitchen living diners – in which case karma has got you and you’ll need to tackle that kitchen before you call it a day.

Step 9 – The kitchen – take a box or nice paper gift bag with you for all the paperwork I know you’ll find there. Start in one corner and work in a circle, putting stuff in cupboards or toys on the stairs or dirty stuff in the sink. If in doubt, bin it.  Put the dishwasher on or wash the stuff by hand. Dump the bag or box of paperwork in a drawer, at least it’s all together, you can handle that later. Clean the surfaces then open a window.

Step 10 –  The bathroom. Do a towel audit, fold the clean ones and get your marigolds on for some scrubbing. I insist on the rubber gloves – your hands will always give away your age and your nails will thank you for them too.STOP AGAIN. You’ve done very well. You can totally delegate the last bit – except we both know it won’t get done, or will get done in a haphazard, substandard way, which you will pay for when you try to dress your children the next day… So take a deep breath, you’re almost done.

Step 11 – The bedrooms. Start with those clothes and stuff you dumped on the bed earlier. Once they’ve all been put away, tidy the rest and clean the surfaces. (I don’t believe in ironing piles – I iron as little as I can get away with, approx five minutes before I wear it.)

Step 12 – Get the Hoover out. Except no one has a hoover any more do they? Get the Dyson or whatever and sook up all the shit on the carpets.

Step 13 – Fill your sink or bucket with the pink Flash (smells so good) and mop. You may have a smug smile on your face at this time, for mopping means you’ve made it.

Step back and admire your tidy, sweet smelling haven, with toys relegated to boxes and cupboards, clothes hanging and cutlery sparkling. Savour it, for in no time at all you’ll be back in your pigsty. If anyone knows how to train small boys (and a big one) how to tidy up after themselves please God tell me how.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

20 Life Hacks for Stressed Out Mums

8 stress busters for busy mums

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The Kitchen Cafe radio appearance

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the radio – yet I was nearly on twice today.

Kitchen Cafe radio

If I’d known we were going to take quite so many pictures I would have done something with my hair. IT’S RADIO!

I was just parking outside the New Town Cook School when an unknown number flashed up.

“Hi this is Leslie from BBC Radio Scotland…”

“Hi, I’m just parking I’ll be two minutes!”

“Oh, I was calling to see if you were free to comment on a show at 11.45…”

I mean how weird is that? Has someone been doing some secret SEO on my blog? Why have I suddenly become a spokesmum? Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted – today was so much fun!

For a start I was recording an episode of The Kitchen Cafe, which is a really cool cookery show on BBC Radio Scotland – and I love to cook. For another thing I was doing it with my pal Lisa, over at Palompo PR and – perhaps the best bit – I got to meet Gill Sims, the genius behind Peter and Jane, the blogger who makes me laugh out loud each evening with her Facebook updates.

Kitchen Cafe radio

Neil and Gill

The subject of this show was ‘back to school’ – transmission is August 17th at 1.30pm. Chef Neil Forbes was showing us quick and easy meals for those days the kids come crashing in from school demanding food NOW.

He was kind enough to make the first one gluten free – as both the Wee Man and Rod can’t digest it. The second was spaghetti with pancetta fried in garlic oil and parsley. “I’ll sell that as Shrek spaghetti,” I announced, which wasn’t as weird as it sounds considering Lisa had just told us she needs to call quesadillas “Daddy sandwiches” if she’s going to get her kids to touch them.

The format of the show is really conversational, with chef Neil doing that amazing multi-tasking of cooking, questioning and keeping the show on track. The producer Phil was brilliant – as it was pre-recorded he would stop us occasionally and remind us to describe what we were seeing and smelling.

kitchen cafe radio

Chick peas with red onion, red pepper, courgette, tinned tomatoes, chorizo and paprika

Kitchen cafe radio

garlic oil and pasta simmering

I think some of my favourite lines were ,”I can’t put soft fruit like strawberries inside my son’s lunchbox as he uses it as a football” from Gill.

“My children would have spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I’d let them,” from Lisa and “Of course, there is a rumour a child went to school with egg and chips in their lunchbox. Not my child, I promise,” from Neil.

I’m definitely going to use the tips in my kitchen and change up the Wee Man’s gluten free lunchbox a bit too. Also, I’m pleased how well the conversation flowed and that we didn’t all talk at once. Three women in a kitchen could have been noisy – but Neil kept us on track and threw in our names pretty frequently to avoid confusion.

I think it’s going to be a fun show to listen to, once Phil has worked his magic in the editing suite. Make sure you listen –  August 17th, 1.30pm, BBC Radio Scotland 🙂

Kitchen Cafe radio

What’s cooking good looking?

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