February 2008 - Posts
I am a failure on many domestic fronts but still think that I do rather well with my strong points. I mother my five children full time, feed and water the crew, keep Hisself happy and his office up to date. Not bad????
Then naturally I have a friend who also married a Scottish person. They have five children too [although hers are all under ten] and she keeps his accounts. I try not to feel bad with the fact that she is a brilliant cook, excellent housekeeper, rather nice person and does voluntary work every week. Not to mention that her eight-year-old can sew her own buttons back when they fall out. But now she has outperformed me totally.
One of their friends needed hospital treatment in the city and she opened her home for the family for the required two months. The friends came complete with four children. So now this friend is in hospital, his wife spends her days with him and my friend looks after all nine children, three of them are under three years old, every day. And she does not even sweat!!!!
Do I feel inadequate????? Yes I do.
Hisself popping in and sitting down in his boiler suit in the kitchen has not helped. I generally disapprove of him coming in wearing work clothes, but this time he went out with an extremely filthy bib velcroed into his sticky rear. A good wife would have noticed and saved him the embarrassment and a better one would not have dirty bibs discarded on kitchen chairs in the first place.
[Mind you not as bad as the time when he grabbed his new quilted shirt straight from the wash basket. This particular type has a velcro replacing the bottom button. He went round half a day with ladies underwear sticking to his shirt before any of us noticed.]
Lifting of my spirits has come from the most unusual direction. Mother in law. Hisself's parents are now in their eighties and MIL is a formidable lady to say the least. They had visited a young cousin who recently had his first baby. They are a lovely young couple and I can see her polishing everything trying to impress the grand old lady of the family. - Poor girl, MIL compared her efforts to mine and she failed at every hurdle; the house was too clean as was the baby; she showed far too much attention to her guests, not enough to the baby and tea was not up to standard.
It took nearly twenty years but I am delighted to announce that my mother-in-law finally approves of me. Beat that ladies!!
Now our age range goes from one to 17, so the variety is very satisfying to live with. At one level they communicate very well. For example today No1[son] tried to comb No5[daughter] hair and pulled slightly too hard. No5 retaliated immediately by sinking her eight sharp teeth into her big brother's leg. I had to tell them both off and soon enough they joined forces at playing with the dog.
This time prelim season coincided with plenty of snow and rather good sledging weather. No1 returned from good days fun with a lens missing from his spectacles. Unfortunately he depends on his specs to see and can neither read or write without them. The special prescription he needs naturally means extra days when ordering a replacement. Last years model was missing and the frame from before that was way too small to his face.
All above saw him taking prelims with his sunglasses, which is not a cool look in mid winter with school uniform, especially not when indoors. Needless to say the results have been poor. I am in two minds whether to blame the lack of vision or the fact that he had not worked hard enough.
Meanwhile No2 [daughter], who had the full two weeks off and two exams to take, enjoyed home life to full. She slept till lunchtime, made pancakes with jam and cream for breakfast and spent the rest of the day playing indoors with No5 or outside with the bull. She has never been one for horses but absolutely loves cattle. Our bull gets treats and cuddles every day as well as his fresh bed and feeding from her dainty hands.
After days of talking about moving cattle I heard Hisself calling for his daughter: "Come now, I need you with the cows!". No2 "I can't come." Hisself: "here, Now!" No2 " I can't daddy, my hair is perfect" Hisself "What??" No2 "It was horrible yesterday, why could you not ask me yesterday?" Hisself "I am asking you now!" No2 "It took me ages to get my hair perfect and now I must put a hat on - it will be ruined." Hisself "What does it matter, you were home all day yesterday and you are home all day today." With bad grace and shaking heads father and daughter went to work together. That is logic at 15.
Ever wondered where the statistics come about teenagers. You know the 70% of 12 year-olds have been bullied during last year and so on. No3 [son] was filling in one of these questionnaires and as the family tradition, was taking the mickey out of the job. The question was "Name 10 things that make you afraid." The plan is to begin with reasonable answers like, getting a poor education and getting a low paid job. Then to the slightly odd; wheat price falling and finding sheep in my room. Next comes bizarre; alien invasion and the Apocalypse and then finishing off with personal disasters like having to cut my hair and in the girl's case breaking a nail. Lesson for adults; never pay any attention to teenage statistics!
In the other end of the spectrum No5 has kept us busy with a campylobacter infection. Last weekend it reached a stage when I saw dirty nappies whenever I closed my eyes. She is better now and regaining her control over the house again. After five months she has made friends with he dog. The dog is very much in love with apples and sits patiently next to No5 whenever she has a slice. Apple is still a bit difficult to handle so delicious crumbs fall directly into the dogs waiting mouth. Finally No5 figured how much the dog loves apple and every now and again she moves the slice to her free hand ans lets the dog lick her juicy fingers clean. We are working on a healthy immunosystem here...
The weather forecast was Armageddon and a good chance of being snowed in for a while. As usual I went and filled the larder planning for a serious cookout with plenty hungry mouths at home. The snow never arrived but the food seems to be disappearing with the usual alarming rate.
As the person in charge of spending the money for ingredients I want to support my local producers and source as much of our food as possible from somewhere else than Tesco. My shopping is slightly hampered and unbalanced as most of us have serious food intolerances. For example I never worry where to find a fresh free range chicken as eating one would lead to a serious, yet spectacular results and a fight over the prime position at the bathroom door.
Meat that we can eat I find surprisingly easy. Every time the freezer is empty I book one of the bullocks to the local slaughter house and he will return within three weeks neatly boxed and labelled. Pork is equally at hand as a friend keeps one for her freezer and looks after mine too to give her little piggie some company.
Vegetables! The simple option would be to grow them myself. I have tried and I am a useless gardener. It all grows, but never to a reasonable size. After the last big storm blew away my greenhouse I decided to call it a day.
The local butcher stocks leeks, potatoes, carrots and turnips. The Deli across the street has soft fruit in summer time and Seville oranges just now. That is it bar supermarkets. When a local veggie box scheme started I was one of the first ones to sign up. The produce was good but it was very much one size fits all. I never got enough potatoes to make one meal for the family, yet I struggled with my weekly 20 onions. She would not take into consideration that there are many things we cannot eat - so some weeks I gave most of it away. Then was the month when we got two gigantic red cabbages each week. I now have many recipes to tackle the vegetable, and it became a family favourite, but when faced with a fifth week of the same stuff I resigned. Mind you, so did the lady's polytunnels, both blew away in a snowstorm and she is yet to return to business.
The next cunning plan was to eat the surplus from another friend's garden. They are a family of self-sufficient ex townies and grow everything with enthusiasm. I soon found out that they seriously lacked on the skills front and had no quality control. Lots of my share was either past its best or I was sharing it with slugs, caterpillars and such-like.
I can hear your brain screaming - go to the farmer's market woman! Well.....the local one is good for home baking and potatoes. The better ones are a minimum 20 miles away and operate on Saturday mornings. The sellers on the good markets travel up to 60 miles to get there, add on my mileage and the six beetroot's I was after produce a gigantic carbon footprint. And I have a thing about Saturdays, that is when my family is home and I want to be here too, cooking for them, not searching for food while they survive on cold bits from the fridge.