We moved into our new house last month. There is still a fair bit to do but it is up and running and we are living our lives in it. It is wonderful, big, warm, airy, stylish, beautiful....I could go on a and on with adjectives. It hasn't sunk in yet that we have done it but I think that's because we're not finished and we are so very tired. There is also the small matter of getting a completion certificate, curtains and furniture. There is still a fair bit of work to do. Turning this house into a home is a work in progress.
For the moment, we are enjoying the heating system, the dishwasher (no more washing dishes for me), the cleanliness and newness of it, the light, the windows, the views, the privacy, the spa bath, the powerful showers, visitors.
My girl has started Highland Dancing. She really enjoys it. She just had her first dance exam. She is very keen to get a medal! She danced really well but won't get her medal until the prize-giving at the end of June. That is, if she has won one - it is a secret and they won't tell until the day. How awful is that? She is 4 years old. Imagine if we go to a prize-giving and she is excitedly expecting a medal and doesn't get one. She would be so upset and I couldn't bear it. When she is upset she is very upset! After having to pay money for the exam, buy a costume and pumps I sincerely hope she does get a medal. She deserves one.
In case you are wondering where I've been I just want to say I'm still here but I'm in a communications wilderness. The reason is we've moved into our new house. Yippee! At last! But because we are just a little disorganised we have moved in with no broadband connection, no TV, no radio reception (except local radio and there is no real news on it) and the nearest newsagents is 15 miles away. We didn't have a phone line until a few days ago! And our mobile reception is dreadful. I was enjoying being in blissful ignorance of the world and being free from the constant demands all this media and information technology places on you. We have been singing, watching films on DVD, playing music and reading, having conversations and just sitting in silence listening to the birds singing. Out of everything I miss the internet connection the most.I am just snatching a couple of moments at work to type this. I will be online next week (fingers crossed) and back to blogging about being a highland housewife. I've missed blogging and reading all your blogs. I've missed internet banking, shopping, browsing, news. I actually had to hand write (our printers broken) letters and post them - how quaint!
"We don't do Valentine's. It is just commercial rubbish. Every day is a day for romance with us" said my deluded can't be bothered husband.
"I think setting aside even one day of the year for romance would be a good idea 'cos believe me every day with you is not romantic," I retorted as I wiped mush off the high chair, loaded the washing machine, answered daughters query about the location of Paris on the map and simultaneously swept the floor with the brush stuck up where the sun don't shine.
Only once when we were dating did he send me a card on valentine's day. I can't exactly describe it as a valentine's card because it wasn't. It was a scenic view postcard a tourist might buy. He didn't choose a valentine's card because they were in the shop his ex-girlfriend worked in. It was very early stages and I sent him the only card I could find that didn't mention love or sex.
He did buy me chocolates twice on random occasions while we were dating. The first time half the top layer was missing because he got hungry on the journey and the second time he left them in a woman's car and she thought they were for her. Now when he buys me chocolates he hovers over me excitedly waiting for me to open them. Sometimes, to torment him I say I am saving them for Wednesday or a day far into the week ahead. Then when I open them I eat them quicker than I want to just to make sure I get my share. One Easter, there were no eggs left in the shops so I bought us a large bar of Galaxy each. He polished off his instantly and I ate half and saved the other half. I came home from work looking forward to sitting down with a coffee, a magazine and my chocolate....but...I couldn't find it. I was raging. He had eaten it. How low is that.
Another occasion springs to mind. He popped out one Easter Sunday morning and when he came back called up the stairs ( I was still in bed), "I've got a surprise for you." Excitedly, I bounded down the stairs like a little kid. I can't tell you how disappointed I was when he produced a danish pastry. I cast it up to him every year.
I don't want slush and cutesy but just some old-fashioned cherishing, a bit of effort and undivided attention. I used to think Valentine's was embarrassing commercial nonsense but now I think it is a great idea to have at least one day in your calendar dedicated to romance.
This year for Valentine's day I am leaving him at home with the kids. Daughter has made him a lovely card in nursery and a heart shaped sweetie so he will be happy with that. I will be even happier because I will be in Edinburgh for the whole weekend wandering city streets and bars, getting a city haircut and going to a fancy dress party in the flat of one of my bestest old friends who is 40 on Valentine's Day. Her postie will think her very popular when he delivers a stack of cards to her on Saturday.
I am already feeling a little disatisfied by my new job. The problem is that I'm just not that into it. I had also expected the college to be a vibrant, exciting place to work but it's not. It is disorganised. The terms and conditions are not great and there is no career progression, pension, holiday pay, sick pay etc so there is a high turnover of staff. If you need resources you get them too late, if at all. It is all a bit haphazard and there is no-one who has been there long enough to know how everything works. My boss is always really busy and can't see anyone because she is doing something that involves acronyms no-one has heard of.
The two days I work are long and the kids are tired and cranky at the end of them. They are woken early and taken to their Granny's where they are happy, loved and well-cared for. We don't get home until 6pm when I try to settle two grumpy tots in to the house after waking them from sleep in the car and make dinner. Husband usually arrives once dinner is made! We're finished dinner by 7pm and then it is time to get ready for bed to start again the next day. Two days a week like that is enough. So when I was asked to increase my days and take on the role of course leader (for no extra money but a little extra paid time for a lot of extra work and hassle) I thought about it. I started thinking about money and almost got sucked in to tying myself up with a job that would take over my time and take me away from my little ones and all for a career path I'm not sure I want. So, I said thanks but no thanks. Two days is enough for me right now. Phew!
I am lucky at this time of recession to have this opportunity but I need to be available for my children while they are young. It is a decision I made before I had them. I have just had two lovely days at home with them doing housework, playing, dancing, going for walks in the snow and visiting friends which confirms for me it is the right decision.
Then to top it off I have to study for my new job. I have to find time to fit in 120 hours of study between now and June. I can scarcely find one hour!
Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. He was a bit of a lad in his day but he left Scotland and the world a powerful legacy of poetry and song that 250 years later is sung and recited all over the world. At New Year I always think of all the people around the world joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne.
At the new house the acoustics are amazing (something to do with it being empty and as yet uncluttered) and I found myself belting out 'My love is like a red, red rose' and 'Auld Lang Syne' and other songs and doing half-baked recitations of poems.
After waiting a long time for The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns to come in stock at Amazon (and giving up), I found the book I had been longing for during a grocery shop at Lidl and on sale for £2.99. Shopping at Lidl often throws up little surprises but this was totally unexpected. Anyway, the book came in to its own today as I recited Address to a Haggis on placing a haggis, 'Great Chieftain o' the pudding-race!', on the dinner table.
'And then, O what a glorious sight,
My husband listened politely, my son tucked in and my daughter hadn't even arrived at the table yet as she "hates" haggis.
Then after dinner we sang and recited 'Such a parcel of rogues in a nation' amongst others. England didn't take Scotland by force and make us join them in the Act of Union. No, Scotland was given away by a few Lowland Scots concerned with gaining access to the Commonwealth. The people of Scotland didn't get a choice in the matter.
'We're bought and sold for English gold -
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!'
The older I get the more I appreciate Burns' work. His language, his ability to get to the heart of the matter, his choice of subjects such as a mouse, a louse and the Holy Willies of the world. I'm off now to make a cup of tea in time to watch a TV programme of Burns poetry and song.
I've decided to celebrate Burns night every year with a haggis, music, song and recitations. My challenge for next year will be to be able to recite some Burns without reading from my book!
We went to Dublin for Christmas to visit the in-laws. After months in the dark, wintry countryside we just love getting in to the city. Especially my daughter who is only 4 but possesses all the confidence and poise of a grown woman. She lives in a tiny village in the highlands but the minute she hits the city streets you'd think she'd always lived in the city. She wasn't always like this. She used to act like she had been held in captivity, shouting from the top of escalators, "Hello people." Standing arms outstretched, eyes filled with wonderment, exclaiming, "look at all my people." She thought they were all there for her, well toddlers are like that, they think the world is all about them. Her little brother is at that stage now. He is 18 months old and walking down the busy shopping street holding his daddy's hand he did a little dance and shouted "Hiya, hiya, hiya," to everyone that passed. In our little country village everyone says hello, but not in the city.
My daughter loves the hustle bustle, the buzz, the shops, cafes, lights, people and all the things there are to do like visit zoos, theatres, the beach and the parks. Especially the parks. There is a beautiful park near her grandparents. Everything is made of wood and there are lots of wooden animals including a herd of cows. The park is very popular and was full of children as usual. My child, of course, was the only child playing at milking the wooden cow. She pulled on its wooden udders for a good few minutes before offering me a go. No thanks, not today. I should have said yes but I was thinking about what the other mums would think. I have never seen any city kids try to milk that cow. Country comes to town indeed.