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Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Although Josie and Lori have moved school, I've been keeping in contact with the parents at their old school. That's partially because the girls have friends there, partially because I have friends there among the parents, but also because of an ongoing campaign that I feel very passionately about.

That campaign was to stop planning permission being granted to turn the building next door into flats. Well, I say next door, it actually shares the playground. What that would have meant was that single-aspect studio flats would have a clear view into the playground, at ground level, which was just unacceptable for the children's privacy. That wasn't the only issue with the development, but it was a very sizeable one.

I was involved at the start of the campaign, less so latterly, but the baton was taken up admirably by other parents, with the support of local councillors, especially Nick Gardner, and our local MSP, Malcolm Chisholm.

Today those mentioned above, among others, spoke at the development committee where planning matters are decided. The result, despite the recommendations of the planning department, was a vote against permission being granted. It was by the narrowest of margins, but it was still a victory, and I am so pleased for the parents at Broughton Primary who have worked so hard for this result.

You can read more about it here.

Well done to everyone involved!

Monday, 4 November 2013

A New Adventure in Coding

Learning New Things

Games Review , the site that I edit on is going quite well, and starting to build some momentum. I'm also building up a library of articles as a writer on Weekend Notes and MyKidCraft, However, I don't want to just edit and write for other peoples' sites.

So, I've decided that if I want to start my own website, then I need to learn how to code, if only to understand what the challenges will be and how little I actually know. It's a stroke of luck, then, that my blogger interface doesn't appear to work with this version of IE and so I have to use the HTML tab to write the thing. I'm going to continue to thinking of it as a stroke of luck, as that stops it from being so annoying that the admins won't let me have a decent browser.

That's really all my chat about that. Well, not quite. I suppose I'd better illustrate that I am actually learning something, and put all this Codeacademy stuff into practice. So far, I've learned about:

  • Titles, Headers, Paragraphs
  • Image links and URL links
  • Lists
    1. Ordered Lists
    2. Unordered Lists
So far, so surprisingly easy. It still all looks rubbish though, it took me 5 minutes to work out why I had a stray bullet point in my unordered list up there, and then get rid of it. So, how do I go from that, to making a site that looks more stylistically attractive? I'm not sure yet...but watch this space to find out when I do!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Economic Barriers to Adopting Siblings

I was reading an article the other day about adoption and fostering, and I felt it missed a really important point about the economics of fostering and adopting.

The article talked about a set of three siblings. They had moved from foster carer to foster carer, and could only have got adopted if they had split up. The article talked about why it was difficult for three older children to be adopted together: emotionally hard for parents, would need extra bedrooms etc. It didn’t mention the financial issues of suddenly having three more children in the house. In fact, it didn’t mention the economic barriers to adoption at all. However, it made a pejorative statement when talking about the quality of foster parents: “some foster parents only do it for the money”.

Here’s the thing. If you foster, most local authorities will pay you around £130ish per week per child. That’s for two reasons: 1. To cover the additional costs of having another child 2. Because at least one foster parent is expected to treat the fostering as their full-time job.

It used to be the case that foster parents were simply willing volunteers, but that’s changed. Why do they need to treat it as a full-time job? Because the foster children often have complex support needs, some emotionally, some physically. You would not, for example, be expected to foster a child of under-5 and then be able send them to a day nursery and expect them to get on with it while you continue a full-time jobs.

So, the siblings are fostered, but the ideal for most children in long-term foster care is to be adopted permanently. But what happens if you’re fostering three children, with complex emotional and behavioural support needs, and you decide you’d like to adopt them?

Well, of course, you stop getting that money. The state doesn’t pay people to have children whether they’re your own, or adopted (with the exception of Child Benefit, but that’s not a huge amount). The addition of three extra people is going to be difficult to absorb into the household finances.

First – you need to give up your full-time job of fostering. Second – you can’t get another job because you’re now required to do your previously-paid full-time job for free.

It strikes me that the difficulty of placing siblings together is more of an economic issue than adoption organisations and councils have thus far admitted.

I know I couldn’t suddenly take on three more children without little financial support and at the same time need to give up a full-time job.

Despite what that article claimed, most people who foster do not do it “for the money”. I have known foster parents and they have done it for a variety of reasons. It’s not an easy job, and it’s not easy money. The foster parents I knew were not rich, but they did something they thought was right, often at great cost to their own families and even their own mental health. It is difficult to bring in a child, to form a bond, to do your very best for them and then later watch them be returned to the family that caused all the issues.

The article implied that more of these foster parents should be less money-grubbing, and simply adopt the children.

How? How would be that financially possible for the majority of people?

But what’s the alternative? Pay people to adopt children, and keep on paying them for years? I’m not sure that would solve the problem.

The problem with adoption is that the people who want to adopt siblings can’t afford it, and the people who could afford to adopt 2 or even 3 siblings don’t appear to want to adopt. Until either of those two things change, children like those three siblings will not get the permanent, loving home that they not only deserve, but that they have a right to expect.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Yesterday, the Coalition government announced, with much triumph, that they would be offering free school meals for all P1-3 children in England. The Coalition are falling over each other to claim credit for this policy, with the Conservatives claiming it is all made possible by Michael Gove, and the Lib Dems claiming they got this policy through, "to ensure every child gets the chance in life they deserve" in the words of Nick Clegg.

 That's all very well, but who is really going to benefit, and why are the politicians all so impressed with themselves?

 The policy will cost £600m, and puts parents in the bizarre situation of being told they are too rich for Child Benefit, which many would have used for school dinners, but now are entitled to free school meals. It's a lot of money to spend on a theory, that school dinners are almost always more nutritious than packed lunches, which has been reported in an independent government review. Independent of the government, but of not of be food industry - two restaurant founders wrote it. It's not even as though this policy will be targeted at those with the greatest need - they already are entitled to free school meals.

 Wouldn't it be better if the government instead focused more on these children? They talk about narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor, while at the same time making life easier for richer parents, and no less hard for poor parents. £600m could have funded a lot of other things.

It could have funded breakfast and homework clubs, where children from poorer backgrounds increase engagement with school and get a nutritious hot meal in the morning and the evening. Instead, it's going straight into the pockets of the food industry (because most local authorities contract out school dinner provision) and providing a state subsidy to more private business, who deliver sub-standard food to a captive audience. The lack of choice is appalling. In theory, the dinners might be more nutritious, but this depends on children picking the nutritious options and actually eating them. I've written about this before, and I'm not hopeful at all.

I don't underestimate how helpful this would be to an average family. It would have saved so much money if we had had free school meals in P1-3, or at least meant I could spend child benefit on something else. However, when housing benefit has been cut so children aren't even allowed their own room, I just don't see how they can justify introducing another universal benefit.

What do you think? Do you really need free school meals? Will you use them?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sister Points

A couple of days ago, I spontaneously awarded Josie 5 Big Sister Points.

At the time it was just an off-hand remark, in response to her considerate comforting of her sister when Lori had fallen off her scooter for the millionth time that day, and I was too occupied with getting us all along the road in time for holiday club and school to give Lori the sympathy she felt she deserved.

Josie did give her that sympathy, and it was helpful for me, and kind to her sister. So I awarded some points. I've never done this before, it's not like sister points are a thing in our house. But despite that unfamiliarity, Josie's affinity with them was immediate:

"Oooh. Sister points! And five of them."

Later on in the walk, Lori helped Josie in return. She got some too. They both jumped up and down, cheering:

"Hurray, we've both got five now!"

The concept of reward for helpfulness isn't foreign to them. We do have a pocket money system, which is based on the doing of household chores, helpful tasks, perfect play-throughs of piano tunes, and things like that. Pocket money can also be lost, through extreme naughtiness (not that much of a problem) or laziness (more of a problem, thay are little Laws after all).

Sister points are not like pocket money, I've decided. They can't be pre-awarded for specific tasks ("Share that toy, and you'll get a sister point), they can't be docked ("You weren't nice to your sister, 5 points off"), they're just a spontaneous and fun way of saying, "Well done!", which my two have really taken to. The important thing is that they are unexpected and not-looked-for. I don't want two girls who are only kind to each other for a reward, and we certainly don't have that at the moment.

So, it begs the questions...should I allow conversion of sister points into something tangible? Should I keep a formal tally of sister points? If I did, it would be a shared pool. Sister points are not a competition.

Or does that miss the point of Sister Points? Should I keep them just as a fun, light-hearted, and a bit of a silly way to gameify life?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Don't Pack In Our Children's Packed Lunches

Today a report has been published which calls for the government to consider banning packed lunches.

Apparently, parents are providing sub-standard meals, which aren’t as nutritious as the school meals being offered at school. Media reports are claiming that the report (written by owners of a restaurant chain) calls for packed lunches to be banned, and for school meals to be compulsory, and free for everyone.

On the one hand I applaud them for trying to improve the nutritional intake of our children, and doing it while also trying to reduce the cost of raising them. It is sorely needed. When I was on a zoo trip with Lori’s class one child had Nutella on white bread for their sandwich, with crisps, followed by a chocolate bar for afters. I’m mortified if I send my two in with only fruit and no veg, let alone junk food that’s so inappropriate for a child’s packed lunch that it would be funny if it wasn't so sad. On the other hand, for the majority of parents.

I think that a simple comparison between a packed lunch and a school dinner is misleading, and the proposed solutions address the symptom of a disease (parents provide bad lunches) rather than a disease itself (parents don’t know/don’t care what should be in a healthy lunch).

 I’ll confess, I have an inherent bias TOWARDS to school dinners, while growing up, I always had them, and I sent my children to school assuming that I would always buy them school dinners too. It was convenient, relatively cheap (only £1.75 a day), and they’d be assured of a balanced meal.

I was wrong. It was convenient and cheap, but over time I began to suspect that they were not getting a healthy, nutritious, and filling meal made to the standards I would expect.

To illustrate, let’s compare a normal Lindsay-prepared lunchbox with the reports I would get from the children on what they would eat in their school dinners:

Lunchbox: 1 wholemeal sandwich or roll, with a reduced sugar jam, ham, or cheese. Usually eaten
Ham label checked to ensure welfare standards met for piggies. Usually eaten.
Batons of fresh cucumber. Usually eaten.
Red Pepper strips: Usually eaten.
Banana: Almost always eaten
Yoghurt tube/fruit winder/biscuitty bar: Always eaten
Babybel cheese: Always eaten
Orange or apple juice, squash, or water: Always drunk

Anything that isn’t eaten at lunchtime is consumed at after-school club or on the way home under Daddy orders. There’s normally no wastage, and we know exactly what they have or haven’t eaten. This has been absolutely critical with 2 children who tend towards anxiety over eating food in rushed scenarios (and the school lunch hall is loud, and rushed, and stressful), but who are not cunning or naughty enough to hide food and pretend they ate it.

And when they go to school lunches?

Well, the comments below are real ones that I have had back over the course of my lunch investigations:

Josie: I had a quorn burger.

Wow. Processed soya on a white bun. Great.

Josie: I had a baked potato with cheese, but the cheese tasted funny and so I didn’t eat it. Mr Devine [the head teacher] had it too and he agreed with me.

So, she ate the potato bit then had a sponge pudding with custard for after.

Lori: I had a baked potato with cheese, but I got up to go to the toilet and when I came back it had been cleared away and I didn’t know who to ask for more so I just went out to play.

She had no lunch.

Josie: I had strawberry milk to drink.

Filled with sugar. There’s a history of diabetes in the family. I try to minimise these types of hidden sugars in foods that people think are “healthy”.

Lori: Sausages! I didn’t eat my beans.

Oh great. More processed pork.

Josie: There was hardly anything left by the time I got down to eat, so I just had mashed potatoes and sausages.

See above.

There wasn’t a single day where one of them came home and described a meal that had more than a tiny portion of fresh fruit and vegetables in it, or meat that I could be assured was good quality.

My own golden rule when I maked the packed lunches, that I never break, is that I always must put at least three portions of fresh fruit and veg in the packed lunch (and it’s usually 4 or 5), and my bread product must always be wholemeal. The same can’t be said for the school dinner provision: - they might offer fruit and veg, but no one is making sure the children are either:

a) Selecting the healthy option
b) Actually eating the healthy option

And parents don’t know, because anything uneaten is just tipped into a bin. Furthermore, my house has more rules: all eggs free-range, all milk organic, meat from suppliers who are committed to animal welfare.

With school dinners, I have no control over those choices I can make at home. And at £1.75 per child, I highly doubt their using free-range eggs in their muffins.

To me, to ban packed lunches is completely missing the point about what the issue is: teaching parents on budgets how to feed their children healthily, and cheaply.

If some parents aren’t providing their children with healthy and nutritional packed lunches, then educate the parents and treat the underlying issue in the family!

 Don’t penalise the parents like us, who are trying our best to give our children fresh fruit and vegetables, and a healthy attitude to food. We aren’t being helped at all by a privatised school meal system which is failing to provide a decent standard of food, and our children would get much worse food if you forced us to take school dinners.

Further, if you don’t fix the underlying problem, what happens when the children go home? Sure, they might get one vaguely nutritious meal a day at school (and I am not convinced they would anyway), but if the family keeps on eating nuggets and chips for dinner every single day then it’s not really helping much.

Ultimately, plans to ban packed lunches smacks of big business dressing up their interests as a welfare concern. I’m sure all those school meal providers would be rubbing their hands with glee at the idea of millions more captive consumers, paid for by the state, all of whom have no opportunity to opt out or object if the standards are poor.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Taste of Victory

When you’re trying hard to balance a proper, grown-up career with the challenge of being a good Mum to two children, sometimes things become a bit overwhelming. It’s easy to feel a bit down-hearted when something goes wrong, and even though I know there are things I could do to make it easier, I just really don’t like making packed lunches before I go to bed.

Which is silly, because every parent knows that time passes much more quickly in the morning that it does at night. 07:25 becomes 08:25 in far less than an hour, I’m sure of it. My children don’t exactly help. As my own mother would have put it when I was growing up:

 “These children have two speeds. Dead slow and stop.”

Andrew will attest that this is absolutely true. While other children might actively source their own clothes, my two just seem to sit there, and wait. And wait. And wait. I’d do an experiment to see how long I could leave it before they actually got their own clothes and got ready, but I know it would be futile. We’d be late. Every day.

I’ve tried lots of things: no TV until breakfast is finished and clothes are on, no reading until the same, but they don’t really work. The only thing that does is constant chivvying, and that’s quite wearing on me and them:

“Eat up. Drink up. Get your clothes. Where’s your school bag? Have you remembered your homework folder?”

It just goes on and on and on.

So, this morning, because it was holiday club, not school, we adopted a slightly more leisurely approach to getting ready. Didn’t work. Lori ended up in floods of tears because I wouldn’t let her wear her ripped, dirty cat outfit to Carnival Day, and Josie selected a pair of trousers that, at my primary school, would have led to taunts of “Half-masts!”.

Undaunted, I cheered Lori up with proper half-masts, and a bandana that makes her look like a pirate, and then we tumbled on to a very rare thing for us in the morning: a bus.

I felt quite smug. 6 different fruits and veg in the packed lunch (count ‘em: cucumber, tomato, red pepper, raspberries, banana, and a plum), and as a treat, a reduced-sugar jam roll. A bus that meant I wouldn’t be late for work. And two adorable children pretending (Lori) and actually (Josie) reading about Andy Murray’s victory in the tennis and then telling a lovely old pensioner how Mummy had paid for Andy Murray to win Wimbledon (not true, but my employer has been one of his sponsors right from the start of his career, and they had noticed the RBS badge on his shirt and this was Lori’s interpretation of that fact).

Bus over, and smugness lasted for about 5 seconds. Which is how long it took me to realise that something was a bit different about Lori.

“Where’s your rucksack?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Aaaaaaaah!” she replied, “It’s on the bus!”

I delivered her to after-school club, and they said they would source a lunch from the shop down the road. But I wasn’t satisfied. I had made that packed lunch, and it had 6 different kinds of fruit and veg in it!

I couldn’t wait for it to be picked up from the depot. So, I set about finding the bag bus with the aid of the Lothian bus timetable, and the Bustracker app. The 09:23 36 at Broughton Primary School gets to Holyrood at 09:52. The next 36 after that to leave Holyrood is 10:02. The bus driver would be the same, because I know they change outside the Primary School on the way back, and they aren’t on a route that goes passed the depot. On its way back, the 36 goes right past my work. All I needed to do was work out which bus it would be, and wait for it out there. I figured it would be the 10:29, just off Dundas Street, so I ducked out of my 10 o’ clock meeting a little early and went over to wait.

And what do you know? There it was. A black Hello Kitty bag with white stars, and a very surprised bus driver.

No-one had ever tracked down their own lost property on his bus before. But 6 fruit and veg!

I called After-School Club, in some jubilance, to arrange a drop-off, but they hadn’t believed that I would get it back. They’d already bought her a ham roll and some more fruit. No need for me to drop it off.

Never mind. I know what I’m having for lunch today, and the taste of victory is sweet (well, reduced-sugar jam sweet).

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Have you heard of a site called Polyvore? It’s along similar lines to Pinterest, except instead of just pinning one image at a time, you put images together to make collages, and it's much more about clothes and style.

They provide templates, and the you slot your own images into them. Here’s my first attempt at filling a template with my own images.

Or you can create your own from the backgrounds and graphics available on the site, or that you’ve uploaded yourself. Here’s my first attempt at creating my own collage.

I was looking at it a while ago, because I wanted to send a picture of an Anne Fontaine waistcoat to Lauren, from Filing Jointly...Finally to help her to protest at Rule no.10: No jaunty vests in public (she’s from the US, so I’m pretty certain a vest is waistcoat. If it’s not, then I cannot even begin to imagine what a jaunty vest would look like.)

Anyway, I digress...back to Polyvore. Lori and Josie were hovering like little piranhas, and they pounced as soon as they saw the site:

“Oooh, what’s that?
“Can I  have one of those pretty dresses?”
“Can I make a collage too?”

They seemed to like the idea of computer collages. The site, which appears to be aimed at an audience who reads Glamour magazine, struck a chord with an eight year old girl. Hmmmmm. Says a lot about the way young women's magazines seem to want to keep these young women in a state of perpetual childishness.

Anyway, I’ve found the site a bit finicky, and I don't really love clothes so much that I need to turn them into collages.

I haven’t used it much since I signed up. Although, I do wonder whether there is anything similar (although not quite so gender-biased) out there for children as they seemed to be drawn to it,

In the meantime, Josie had a jotter to decorate, so we made a collage, for real life:

It was about a million times more fun than collecting clothes on Polyvore.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Cooking for a Diabetic

As Andrew has had some bad news about the progress of his diabetes (sad face), it seems to be about the right time to start eating a little more healthily again.

A few weeks ago I was discussing the difficulties of balancing a full-time job with eating as a family in a healthy, nutritious, and (most importantly) time-efficient way.* In the course that conversation my friend mentioned that she had started her family on a reduced-meat set of meals.

I won't go over all the arguments for this again here, but you can read the following article in The Guardian if you are curious:

So, I started to do that this week. The result? I just seem to have made dishes with cheese and egg in them. I don't think that's quite the point. Not only is it still an animal product, it's not at all healthy for a diabetic at increased risk of heart disease. I blame Nigella Lawson because the recipes are mostly from her Nigellissima Italianish cookery book. The macaroni cheese had four different kinds of cheese in it! It was the most delicious macaroni cheese ever, but still, four... Which four? Parmesan, mascarpone, mozarella, and mature cheddar, since you ask. It was actually supposed to be Gruyere, but my Tesco didn't have any, so I used mature cheddar instead. Seemed to work.

I also ran out of food to make meals with by Tuesday. Clearly my skills with shopping and cooking with less meat need work.

Back to the drawing board for next week!

*If you're wondering why I chose to use an Oxford serial comma, then I will direct you to Bigglethwaite and Windermere's Guide to Proper and Exquisite English. . The context seems to fit their rules.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Awkward Questions

It's been another busy few weeks in the Law household.

I had the Focused Women (the bank's gender diversity network, of which I am chair in Scotland) annual conference this week, and an Inclusion conference last week (with a networking evening the night before), and then another Education committee up at the Council (most interesting 2 hours of my week, no question), and my last Parent Council meeting as chair of Broughton PC (*sniff*). These all conspire to take me away from my day job, and often away from Andrew and the girls later on into the evening.

I couldn't do half of the things I do without having a husband who is as supportive as he is, so as it's coming up for Father's Day I thought I would give him a  little shout out on the blog.

And that brings me on to the awkward questions - I regularly get asked at events a question along these lines, "I read your bio and you seem to do so much - how do you manage it?".

That's a very awkward question to answer, my self-effacing side wants to say, "Well, I don't do half the things I do as well as I should, and I have a very untidy house" but that's not strictly true. I don't do things if I don't think I can do them well, and some of the house is quite tidy (mostly because of Andrew!).

So, I usually say, "Because I have a very supportive husband who does all the things that I can't do."

This week, I made that reply, and the woman asking me told me that she too had a husband at home, and it didn't really seem to make things that much easier. That was awkward. I wasn't sure how to respond!

I also get asked, with alarming regularity, "Do you ever see your children?", to which I have to resist the urge to snap, "Of course I bloody do. Do you think I would do half the things I do, if I didn't actually have time with them?"

Instead, I explain about the way we chose to live on the way to school so I can drop them off in the morning on my way to work. And how Andrew and I have alternate lie-ins on weekend days, so basically the whole of Saturday is me/Jo/Lori time, and Sunday is relaxing family time.

Funnily enough, I don't often hear the Dads at work being challenged on whether they spend enough time with their children.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Labyrinthitis and a Rest

It doesn’t feel like it, but it’s been over a month since my last blog post. Writing doesn’t just write itself, it turns out.
I’m not sure why I stopped, but perhaps it had something to do with a feeling of general overwhelmedness that I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks. That culminated last week in a bad cold, which turned into sinusitis, which turned into labyrinthitis. Labyrinthitis is not pleasant, but it’s also not completely incapacitating.
You know that feeling you get when you get off a roundabout or from spinning a child round and round in circles, or from doing too many pirouettes without spotting properly? It’s like that, except ALL THE TIME. Except when lying down in a semi-darkened room, or walking really fast, bizarrely.
That was me, all of last week. I think my body just gave up in a huff, and decided that my balance system was probably the best way to gently incapacitate me.
I’m back at work today, and I feel a lot more positive. The overwhelmedness has lifted, a little, although the news that our landlord is planning on selling our temporary accommodation before we are ready to sell Flooded Flat, makes me panic a little every time I think about it.
It seems I will be spending a lot of my time over the next few weeks packing boxes, chasing contractors and insurance companies, and panicking over where we’re going to live in June.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Crockpot

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to start using my slow cooker over the Easter holidays. Which I have!

So far, I've made three dishes, all from very different parts of the world.

The first was Pork Paprikash, a Hungarian dish. Andrew really liked this one, but I was not as keen on the intense paprika and green pepper flavour, although the pork was quite tender.

Next up was a New England Pot Roast, no prizes for guessing where that came from. A familiar set of English flavours, in a New English style of cooking. We both enjoyed this, and with the addition of Yorkshire pudding, and some Dill and Horseradish Cream, it was delicious.

Finally, I tried some Cowboy Pork and Beans, with rice. I didn't have a few bits and bobs that this one needed, so I improvised with some leftover Cajun spices - it was about the same in the end. For some reason, the sauce came out quite thin, but it was still flavoursome, and the pork just melted away.

No picture of this one, but perhaps some more posts to follow, as I have bought a whole load more stuff this week! Recipes can be provided, if anyone wants them

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Welcome to the Golden Age

The post title is not sarcasm. It is simply fact. Despite what the gutter press would have you believe, the institution of a welfare state circa 60 years ago has not led to the gradual devolution of our country into a sad reflection of a once golden nation. There never was a golden age. At every point in the past of this country more people died, of illness, violence, poverty, and general ignorance, than they do now.

And, in fact, the welfare state has been a significant part of ensuring that we live in what can only be considered a golden age of humanity, certainly in comparison with every other era that has gone before us, and many countries who currently co-exist with us.

However, that's not what many right-wing commentators would have you believe. They are convinced, and subsequently want to convince you, that this society is rotten to its very core. It's populated by scroungers, murderers, layabout, wastrels, and worse, all brought into existence because we have a state that supports the poor, the ill, and the disabled.

Any complaints to the contrary, like, for example that the welfare state supports the aforesaid groups, and that actually, there are bad apples in every society (whether it has a welfare state or not) is met with a chorus of derision.

"Pffft," they say, "You damned leftie. How could anything possibly be worse? Surely, if the state wasn't there to support these people, then they'd have to start working harder? Surely, if we weren't so soft on crime people would stop murdering and thieving and defrauding"

Well, would they? Would they?

Let's have a look at the evidence. And I don't mean someone on benefits splattered over the front page of a trashy tabloid, which proclaims (while lasciviously listing the intimate details of that person's sex life, you know, to show how depraved they are) that they are poor, and ill-educated, and just a bad sort because, because there is a state that supports them.

I mean the long-term evidence about what life is like in this country. Because without that, we can't possibly know whether "things are worse now", can we?

And who knows, perhaps I'll find that mythical Golden Age, and then we can all petition our MPs to return to EXACTLY the same laws, social circumstances, and voting rights that we had then, because obviously, it doesn't matter if child mortality rates have fallen, racism and sexism and homophobia are no longer tolerated by law, more children are educated now and to a better rate than they ever were. It doesn't matter if we now have a minimum wage, or universal suffrage, or a system which supports people who are unable to work through disability, and who would once have had to turn to begging or prostitution.

None of that matters. Do you know why? Because none of that sells papers.

What sells papers is a man with 15 children, who has threesomes with his neighbours and concocts a stupid scheme that kills 6 of his children.

But that doesn't mean the system is wrong. Just because one family didn't work doesn't mean the whole system doesn't work. But that doesn't sell papers.

What sells papers is a blistering attack on the welfare state, which directly equates welfare to why this man killed his own children. Because that's easier than confronting reality.

Which is this: those parents were failing. They received money from the state which they failed to turn into nutritious food, warm clothes, and a rich and loving environment for their children.

And so what do we do?

Choice 1: Take away state money from every other family who needs it. From every other family who is poor and struggling, but who takes that state money and turns it it into food, and clothes, and an environment filled with positive experiences. Take that away, just in case a minority of people abuse it. Knowingly consign children into poverty because of a moral outrage whipped up by the gutter press?

Choice 2: Keep the welfare state. Support families who need support. Don't consign children into poverty and crime, simply because the right-wing media wants more money for the millionaires.

Let's take Choice 2. Choice 1 looks like the rest of human history. It sees the elderly dying of cold, parents choosing to let their children eat rather than them, children bought and sold by people desperate to make money. It sees people choosing between food and medical bills, in a competitive system that is supposed to make it "better for consumers". The ability to make Choice 2 was bought for us by the solidarity of our ancestors, who refused to accept anything less from the ruling elite.

Don't let their sacrifices be for nothing. Don't let the richest in our society fool you into thinking that you will gain from the loss of the welfare state. Don't believe their lies.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Today I Am...

Do you ever do that thing when you watch a TV programme, and then become convinced that you have whatever it's portraying?

It works hypochondriacally, intellectually, and physically. It's like TV magic.

Last night, I watched a show about taste, because the trailer for it suggested they'd found some magic way of making things sweet. And with a diabetic husband, I am all about the magic, healthy sweetness.

Anyway, they introduced the concept of a super taster, who taste things much more than ordinary people on account of the extra taste buds.

I have, obviously, now decided that I am one of these. It explains everything. I have told Andrew this at every opportunity since.

Me: You know how I don't like wine?
Andrew: Yes...
Me: I think it's because I'm a super taster.
Andrew: Really? Maybe you just don't like wine.
Me: Yes, and that explains why I don't like coffee too, because the lady said that super tasters don't like bitter things.
Andrew: Really? You love lemons.
Me: Ah...but they're not bitter, they're sour. See, you'd know the difference if you were a super taster, like me.

Some hours later, in Mimi's Bakehouse (mmmmm):

Me: And I've never like fizzy juice, because it hurts my tongue. I must have so many taste buds that they're just too sensitive. See. I am a super taster.
Andrew: -----

So, what do you think? Are you a super taster? Or do you just taste in pastel?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Things I Will Be Doing On My Easter Holidays

I love holidays, especially two week long ones. I will be doing a lot, but not too much, over the next few weeks:

1.Some Spring cleaning, despite the stubborn refusal of Spring to actually arrive in these wintry, Scottish climes.
2. Taking The Tiger in the Snow back to the library, because he is very late.
3. Finally unpacking my Christmas present from Lori, a slow cooker, and making two recipes:

  • Pork Paprikash
  • New England Pot Roast
Watch this space for photos and results!
4. Not getting carpets fitted tomorrow.
5. Working with the girls to do some more on our scrapbooks.
6. Probably some other stuff that I haven't figured out yet!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Turn around...

In my previous post, I mentioned that I tend to break into song whenever anyone says the words, "Have you ever?", even if that's only in my head (like, if someone says it at work, for example).

This morning, when I was brushing Lori's hair, I told her to "Turn around", and immediately followed it with "...bright eyes".

It struck me that I do this a lot, so I started thinking about other phrases that prompt songs:

If someone tells me "I really need you to-" the chances are that I will interject with "-tonight, forever's gonna start tonight."

If someone says, "Once upon a time", nine times out of ten I will respond, "I was falling in love."

And then I realised. Those are ALL FROM THE SAME SONG. I only appear to remember Bonnie Tyler lyrics. I wracked my brain for more, different songs, not linked to ageing Welsh power balladeers.

And then I thought, why bother? Bonnie Tyler will do for me. But I need new lyrics. Hence this, and a cat, obviously. Because this is the internet.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Have You Ever...

Have you ever, ever felt like this? When strange things happen-

Okay, wait, that's the wrong blog start.

In our house, whenever someone says, "Have you ever-", either Andrew or I will break into that song that was at the start of that Australian children's programme with a lighthouse in it. It's a Law house meme.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.

Today, it's online grocery shopping. What's that? You'd rather I went back to that Australian children's programme, with the lighthouse in it? Fine. here you go. The rest of us are going to talk about groceries.

So, now we've got rid of them, shall we talk about my secret plans to make us all bajillions? No? Is that because you sense I have none and are just trying to steal yours? Well, perhaps. Back to groceries it is.

And it's now somewhat of an anti-climax.

But I'll crack on nonetheless. At the weekend I did my normal online grocery shop, but when it came I noticed that there were three packets of smoked mackerel instead of the one I had ordered. Three! And they were almost £4 each. Not being in the market for so much mackerel, I called the helpline. The conversation went thusly:

"Hello, I don't know if you can help, but I've just had my shopping delivered, and I seem to have 3 packets of smoked mackerel, but I only ordered 1."
"Well, let me just have a look at that for you [cue me giving my personal details about address/order number etc"
"Ah, madam, I see what you've done. When you selected mackerel, there's a drop down box where you can select kg, pounds, or each, and you've selected kg, instead of each. So instead of 1 packet, you've got 1 kg."
"Oh. I didn't mean to do that. I don't need 1kg of mackerel"
"It's quite a common mistake, actually. What I'll do is refund you the extra two packets, but just be aware of that next time."
"Thank you, that's very kind, considering it was my own mistake."
"No problem, anything else I can help you with etc etc./"

So there you go, have you ever ordered a kilo of smoked mackerel by mistake, and now have to work out what to do with it? Any suggestions?

And also, thank you to Waitrose for being the politest and most understanding supermarket I have ever encountered, even in the face of idiot customers ordering accidentally large amounts of smoked mackerel.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Natural Networking

Yesterday was a nerve-wracking first for me.

While I've done plenty of public speaking before, yesterday I was faciliating a 2-hour long event for about 50 people on Networking as part of my role as Focused Women Network chair in Scotland.

I was nervous not because I had to stand up and speak, but rather because it was my first event as Chair, and I really wanted people to enjoy the event and find it useful.

We had the idea for the event because usually, when we run Focused Women things, we have a bit at the end called "Networking", usually with drinks. It's after the main event, people are usually running to get buses, pick up children, have dinner, and we don't actually do any of the aforementioned "networking". This time, we wanted to make the whole thing about networking. And not just networking for the sake of it but networking as it could be i.e. sharing, learning, talking, and finding out how you can help others, and others you. In other words, the natural kind of networking that everybody does, but don't realise they do, and so are completely freaked out when things are separately badged as "Networking".

To help with the horrible and stomach-lurching feeling of not knowing what to talk about first, we got everyone to write down on their name badges:

"Ask me about..." and pick a couple of things about themselves. It worked really well. Here's a few examples of things people wrote:

Sustainability, Weekend Notes, Baby Back Ribs, Tap, Samba, Regulatory Risk, My underwear business, Education Committee and far, far more that I didn't get a chance to get a note of.

That was just a part of the day. We also had success stories from our members about how they networked, and how it had helped them, a visit from a business social media expert, and more. Responses are yet to come in from our feedback survey, but judging from verbal feedback and some emails I have had this morning, my first event was very well-received.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Spring Has Not Sprung

I signed off my last post with a hope for a sunny spring.

It promptly snowed more than it has done all this winter, at least in Leith, anyway. On Monday morning we awoke to the powderiest snow I've ever seen this close to sea level. It drifted along pavements and blew off rooves all the way along the road to school. Josie and Lori appeared to be in some form of nirvana as they capered along the road. Josie threw a snowball at me about every ten metres, and Lori was fully engaged with making new footprints everywhere she could. We spent the next few days inching our way home, as the powdery snow had turned to sheet ice, with Lori shouting, "Those are mine!" at every child-sized footprint on the edge of the pavement.

Most disappointingly, the snow melted in short order, so we haven't had a chance to try out Winter Lightning, the new sledge purchased by Josie and Lori with a combination of Christmas and Tooth Fairy money. I think it might need to wait until next year now, which is pretty dull, although I've just checked the weather forecast and it does indicate that we're due more snow this weekend.

Bizarrely, this time last year, it was so hot that the BBC reported on the "March heatwave" from Portobello Beach, while locals paddled and swam in the unseasonably warm water. I don't think there's going to be any of that this Easter.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Time for a Break

February and March: 2 months filled with new challenges, great news, and an ever-mounting pile of ironing and list of chores to do in two houses. 

It's been a busy few months in the Law household, and both of our blogs have been one of many things to suffer from neglect.

While Linzertortes has been a little bit more well-tended, that's only because my posts here often resemble a stream of consciousness, and so need less work to put together. Lawhammer! is more neglected simply because we haven't had the time to paint, play, game, or keep up work on the Might Empires project. Here's hoping that will change, although I fear it might need to wait until we have moved house permanently.

And that flitting moves ever so closer. The new spiral staircase is almost in a Flooded Flat, which is one step closer to being able to be sold. Rented Flat with the Fountain and the Piano is in a complete state, but I'm going to start spring cleaning this weekend, I think, taking the opportunity presented by the girls' absence from dance class today to start catching up on all my chores.

And the girls...well, you might have read on Facebook, but they both got granted places at the Edinburgh Music School, further to a successful audition last week. Next step is getting them places at the associated Primary School, counter-intuitively, those places are not guaranteed simply by winning a place at the Music School. So, we still need to go through an out-of-catchment placing request, something I've become quite familiar now I'm on the Education Committee. Fingers crossed there are places in their year groups!

Knowing they'll probably be at that Primary School after the summer is good, because it narrows down the choice of places to live. It's bad, because it's a VERY EXPENSIVE part of the city. You win lose some, but it looks like my budget will be stretched to breaking point in the pursuit of garden and spare bedroom.

Anyway, here's to the rest of March, and to a sunny Spring!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Audition Looming!

2 days to go until the music school audition, and I think I might be more nervous than Josie and Lori.

Josie will have a bit of a practice today, because she's singing one of her songs for her class. She's also doing a presentation on her hobby, painting and playing with Games Workshop models, which she's been working on for a few weeks.

I'm looking forward to finding out how it goes when I see her, but it probably won't be until tomorrow morning, as I've got CCwP and then dancing tonight. I've just had a week off for the February holidays and I'm already looking longingly towards Easter holidays for another break/ironing catch-up.

In other news, I've started writing for another website, this one for children's craft activities, called My Kid Craft. I've recently published a felt i-Pad cover, but there will be more to follow after audition season is over! Please check it out and support the editors, Jane and Claire, friends of mine who have started this up as a new venture and are really working hard to make it a success. Every page view and social media share helps!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Music School Preparation

I've been neglecting the blog a bit lately. That's because for the past week I've had a horrible cold, and I think I barely got out of bed.

Josie and Lori have been preparing for their auditions. Here's a piece from Josie - still a few mistakes, but she's getting there:


Monday, 11 February 2013


As it's half-term, and I'm on holiday, I can't really be faffed with making up an original blog post. So, instead, I thought I'd do a little round-up of the things I've been reading, doing, and buying lately.

First up is reading. Well, not books, as I haven't charged my Kindle for ages. It's blogs and magazines for me.

Katie Kelly's Words for Worms blogs is delivered into my email inbox with pleasing regularity. I often grab a little break at work to catch up with what she's been reading this week, and sometimes to add it to my ever-growing list of things I will read when I charge my Kindle/have any time at all.

Lauren, over at Filing Jointly, is also a regular read of mine. She's given up her job as an  accountant to make a go of being a full-time writer. She is also hilarious, in a quirky, surreal, sort of way that entirely matches with my own sense of humour. She also loves cheese. 

Now, onto to doing:

I've been cooking, taking photos, and writing up recipes for a new website RecipeYum. 10 recipes and counting, including the most delicious and extremely indulgent Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte. For my vegetarian pals, please try the Pasta with Slow-Cooked Onions and Kale. It is surprisingly delicious, and  greens are chock-full of goodness. Note to self: eat more greens.

I've also been making some origami things: hearts for Valentine's Day, cat invitations for Lori and Josie's party that they had at Kiss the Fish a few weeks ago. These crafty kids' activities are all planned to be published (when I get a minute to write them up) on a new website edited by a couple of old school-friends called My Kid Craft. Check it out for some fun ideas to keep the kindles entertained this half-term.

What else?

Ah yes, buying. Well, that's super top secret. Josie sometimes reads this blog, I wouldn't want to give away any secrets for what I've been purchasing for her birthday and Christmas. So, instead of what I've been buying, I'll just link you through to a site that Josie is very much hoping Santa will deliver her a dress from this Christmas. I only wish they made clothes for children older than 12 so I could get in on the bustles, ruffles, and frills action. It's called No Added Sugar, and Santa has delivered a Christmas dress for the past couple of years. Here's hoping that continues. Meanwhile, if you're looking for some unusual, stylish clothes for your own little one, or for a birthday, they have a huge sale on just now. Plenty of bargains to be found. 

And that's my half-term round-up! 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Nadir of Winter

It's about 48 days since the shortest day of this winter.

I say "about" because I counted it on my calendar, then lost count, and couldn't be bothered to count again.
So, 48 (+ or - my attention span) days since the shortest day, but it doesn't feel like the darkness is passing. In fact, it feels much more miserable than the shortest day, because at least on the Solstice you have Christmas to look forward to. And for me, the Winter solstice feels like my alternative wedding anniversary. We got married on the longest day, but always planned to do it on the shortest day. Long story.

Anyway, it's 2 days until school half-term, and this year I feel compelled to take a week's leave to coincide with it. I don't usually, but I am this year. It's just that kind of week/month/job. So, I paused today, before I responded to a question from my manager, which in turn was in response to the request by his manager for a document, whose requirements have changed, but which needs to be presented to our director on Tuesday. Yes, that's a long sentence, but I lost the will to edit. Anyway, the question?

Manager "You're away on leave next week, aren't you?"
Me "Yes."
Manager "Where are you away?"
Me <strategic pause while I consider my response>
Would it be wrong to claim that Muir of Lownie has no mobile phone coverage?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Education Committee

I received an email today from Edinburgh City Council to advise that I have formally been accepted as a member of the Education, Children, and Families Committee, as a parent representative.

I was taken aback by the level of interest in the appointment, as on the day after I was informally appointed, Andrew received a phone call for the local paper asking for me. That turned into a feature and an online article, which you can read here. They sprung some difficult questions on me, which highlighted how difficult it was going to be, representing all of those parents across the city.

The next week, I was again surprised to be contacted so that I could give my opinion on a study about maths homework. I am simply not used to having an opinion that might actually be of interest to anyone.

Despite being a little nervous, I am very excited to participate in local government, and to see how the decisions that directly affect my children are made. Perhaps I'll even be able to blog about them!

We shall see...

Thursday, 24 January 2013


I've always naturally been a Europhile, and I've always believed in the importance of the European Union, not only as a natural consequence of the events of the 19th and 20th centuries, but also (through it's various mechanisms) to act as a conscience of the countries of Europe, curbing the selfishness that goes along with pursuing national interests.

I can trace these feelings and beliefs by looking back at my education and the experiences I had growing up with Europe and its people:

At Forfar Academy, if you studied History at Standard Grade and Higher, you could forget learning anything that happened prior to about 1830. It was very much a Modern History department. I'm not complaining. I enjoyed it, and it did provide a historical education that naturally segued into a political and social education in a way that learning about the Norman Conquest probably wouldn't have.*

In Modern Studies, which most of us didn't pursue beyond second year, my only abiding memory was learning about the structure of the EU and its associated bodies. I vividly remember a worksheet showing how the EU environment policy had prevented the destruction of wetlands as it had stood against a national body desiring to develop the area. For some reason, that stuck, and for a long time I associated the EU with being the protector of endangered birds and animals across the continent. A lone voice standing against the rampant desire of the developer to pave paradise and create some new parking lots. For a 15 year-old vegetarian, that was quite important.

Back to History, and we learned a lot about pre-1945 Europe. Through the Battlefields Tour, exchange trips with school and Guides, family holidays, and a compulsive need to collect pen-friends through those leaflets that would periodically arrive in children's magazines, I learned to love the countries of Europe and their inhabitants.

I had a French penpal, whose name I can't recall, but she had beautiful handwriting, and she sent me pictures of her cat. I had a Dutch penpal, I think her name began with E. She was a speed skater, and I was very jealous of this activity. Andreas (it's actually embarrassing that I remember his name, and not the penpals), was on the German exchange trip and we kissed at the edge of Forfar Loch. He gave me a necklace with a lion on it, because my star sign was Leo. Pontus and Frederick were two Swedish scouts, who stayed with us after the camping portion of the Swedish Scout exchange trip. They were exceedingly polite, and gave us a table runner in pale blues, pinks and creams as a gift. There was Mats (why can I only remember the boys' names?!), another Swedish scout, with ginger hair and freckles, and a smile that made my heart leap. And then there were family holidays: we went to Brittany one summer, and I gorged myself on chocolate and crepes. Or holidays with other families, cycling across CenterParcs, swimming every day, and agreeing that the national food of Holland was most likely clogs.

Later, at Uni, when I worked at the Balmoral Hotel, the waiting staff was comprised of students and young people on gap years. There were people from: France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Australia, Brazil, Germany, and Norway. It was a great place to work.

I have nothing but fond memories, so vivid that I immediately recognised the centre square in Strasbourg when I caught a glimpse of it in a recent film, despite only having been there for a two day trip.

So, I've never thought really thought it's a bad thing that "Europe" decides some things in European parliaments and European courts, because I've never thought of "Europe" as a place that we are not part of. None of this talk about Europe imposing things on us resonates with me at all.

Why not?

It's not just because I studied history, or because I knew lots of Europeans not as "Europeans" but as French people, or Dutch people, or Swedish people. Athough, is that part of it? Probably.

And I suppose a significant part is that I was part of a youth delegation to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during the parliament's summer recess. There were 14-16 year olds from all of the member states, and we each had a seat in the parliment, as though we were MEPs. We attended mini-conferences, and talked about problems facing the EU and how they could be overcome.

So, to me, it's always felt like a real parliament, with all the compromises that entails. There is no Europe, over there, trying to impose its will upon Britain, despite what the tabloids will have you believe. And if sometimes it feels like that, that's just because the other blocs are better at building consensus. Equally, sometimes Britain will be inside those blocs, enacting its own interests along with like-minded other countries.

In many ways, it's like being a Scottish MP, or a Scottish person, looking at Westminster.A small bloc, sometimes feeling hard done by, with locally devolved powers, but the requirement to make a contribution to a bigger whole, and sometimes feeling that you don't get enough back. Or being from London, like Boris Johnstone, and constantly whining that you contribute more than the North.

Both sections have valid reasons for thinking they'd be better off alone, but that doesn't mean they will be.

I've always felt reassured by our presence in Europe, and by the moderating and restraining action that the EU has had on all of its member states. I hope we don't leave.

*Despite that enjoyement, I had had my fill of the Bismarck, Corn Laws and Universal Suffrage, and Appeasement and the Road to War by 6th year. If you chose Sixth Year Studies, you could choose your own subject. It will come as no surprise to learn that my backlash against all this modern history was to go right back to the earliest possible point in British history that still had primary sources: the Roman occupation and the location of the Battle of Mons Graupius.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Where are all the female cabinet ministers?

Why is is that David Cameron binet cannot even meet the gender diversity targets for his Cabinet that Lord Davies recommended for company boards?

Well, for a start, there is a lower percentage of women as MPs than there are women in most companies.

Although female MPs, as a percentage of the whole, have been steadily rising, they're still only at 22%. This is not very good. It's not the worst in the data set I was looking at (that's Georgia: 6.5%), but it's not the best (Sweden: 46%). In fact, it's squarely in the middle of the table.

In some ways, it should come as no surprise that there aren't many female MPs and Ministers.

 For many years MPs have fought to improve conditions at Westminster. Debates regularly extend into the wee, small hours of the morning. Childcare provision is awful, and most MPs wouldn't even have their children in London with them anyway. Who wants to commute to London every week for a job that doesn't even pay paritcularly well when you compare it to an equivalent role in private sector, or even in the civil service?

Mind you, perhaps the issue is even more fundamental than that, striking right to the core of our society:

Eton, Westminster and St. Pauls aren't co-educational, and given David Cameron's propensity to select his Ministers from these Alma Maters, then women really have no chance, do they?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Very Busy Person

I was at a meeting the other day when someone announced that they were covering for someone else (meetings and people will remain anonymous to protect identity), because that person was "triple-booked".

Triple-booked appears to be the new double-booked. It's no longer acceptable to simply have one other place to be. Now, to ensure that you appear as busy, in-demand, and to excuse you from a meeting you need to be triple-booked.

Why? It is quite sufficient to be double-booked. Or even just "unavailable". As an attendee of said meeting, it didn't matter to me that the person had two other places to be. One other place for them to be was quite enough.

I wonder whether this could be related to the same phenomenon I wrote about in The Most Amazing Blog Post You Will Ever Read? It feels like it might be.

Anyway, must dash. I have a meeting to go to. Just the one, though.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Super spies

Lori's genius ideas and observations about the world continue. Today, she was watching Josie and I work on some French translations on our new app, Duolingo (which is good fun, by the way, check it out at, and compete with us!).

Lori: Are you two learning French because we are going to Germany?
Josie and I: *blank looks*
Lori: Because that's a really good idea, because they won't know what we are saying,

She is in a world of her own - we have no plans to go to Germany, we haven't talked about going to Germany. Who knows where Germany came from.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I think....5000!

I remember walking along the road with my Mum when I was maybe 5, or 6, and asking how far it was across London. In the grand tradition of parents, I think that she asked me what I thought, and I said 1 mile. I remember how surprised I was to find out how much bigger it was.

I think Lori felt like that this morning, when she estimated the population of the UK to be "maybe 5000?". When I told her it was more like 60 million she looked surprised, and then accepted it with some equanimity:

"Well, I was close," she replied.

Josie was not convinced that 5000 was very close, but she kept quiet, as usual, so as not to dishearten her sister.

And that was the walk to work on my second day back after the Christmas holidays.

I am very lucky.

Monday, 7 January 2013


Festive period over, it's back to blogging, writing, and work.

I can't decide whether to make any New Year's Resolutions this year. I did last year, 12 for 2012, in fact. However, I don't usually, and my 12 for 2012 had mixed success. This is what they were:

1. Cook a new recipe at least once a week. Partial success - I had done this every week until this happened.   I've started again, thanks to an added financial incentive from contributing to the new website RecipeYum, and I think I am going to continue this one into 2013.
2. Do at least 70 pieces of ironing a week. Partial success - I did this some weeks, and not others. I absolutely have to do about this much ironing to stay on top of the children's school needs, and my work clothes, so it's back on the list.
3. Help Josie and Lori learn to swim without armbands. Partial success - Josie can swim without armbands, but not confidently, and mostly due to school lessons rather than my help. It's back on the list to focus on in 2013.
4. Perform in a burlesque show. Success - I performed in the Big Dance in July to Come Fly With Me.

5. Sell our house. FAIL! The insurance company dragged their feet interminably, meaning there was absolutely nothing we could do here, despite repeated complaints to them. We'll be selling in 2013 as soon as we can.
6. Perfect a double pirouette. Partial success - I've done a few doubles, but they're hardly perfected. I've signed up for more ballet classes, and I'll be trying again.
7. Do the splits. FAIL! Hmmmm. This was hard. I think I need to find a yoga class to help with my flexibility.
8. Get up at 07:00 on week days. I thought this would be almost impossible, but I actually, by and large, completed this one. Despite a 07:00 wake-up time, we were still incredibly rushed every day. I think I need a different approach in 2013. 
9. Cook a family meal at least once a week. Success - with only a couple of exceptions (around the burnt hand incident) this was a success.
10. Learn to sew (goal: child's dress). FAIL! I haven't sold my house, my sewing machine is still in storage. This will be one for another year.
11. 3 portions of fruit and veg in packed lunches. Success - although sometimes they went to school dinner, on packed lunch days they always had at least 3 portions.
12. 53 kg. Success - but only briefly! Christmas munching has seen to that.

So, that was my year in Resolution terms, however I also snuck some more achievements that I never meant to, like completing the first draft of a children's book, or becoming a paid writer for my Weekend Notes work, or helping Josie and Lori prepare for their music school audition, so I don't feel quite so bad about the "misses".

Goodbye, Edinburgh 2012:

Onwards, and upwards, to 2013. Happy New Year, everyone!