Friday, December 28, 2012

Femgineers In the Making

We took down the Christmas tree today. Call me a humbug, but it was really getting on my nerves this year. It just felt so in the way, and I couldn't wait to get it down. The girls were a bit disappointed, so I let them play with the decorations for a while, and this is what they made of it.

I was incredibly impressed by their engineering of this self-designed Christmas tree. It consisted of a piece of wood that had come off their toy box, covered in a green sheet, and stood up in a box. The wood of course kept falling over, but I told them they had to figure that out themselves, and they did. They put wooden train track pieces in the box all around the stick until it stood up straight. Then they decorated it. I was really proud of their critical thinking skills; it even made up for the incredible mess they made with the tinsel!

Later today we went over to my friend Maria's house, and there she got out a marble maze set her kids had gotten for Christmas. Once again, it involved engineering and logical thinking to put the maze together and make it work. Fifii (and I!) really enjoyed trying to figure it out.

It tends to seem like a 'boy thing' to be interested in engineering and logical building projects, so I'm pleased to see Fifii taking an interest. Scott found a toy called Goldi Blox that we're going to get the girls when it is released. Have a look. It looks amazing.

Landing Page 10.8.12-SHARE-WEB from GoldieBlox on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family Christmas Newsletter 2012

I'm taking a quick break from major holiday-house-wreckage cleaning to present to you our McFarlane Family Christmas Newsletter (virtual version). Hope you had a lovely Christmas; we certainly did! xx

Merry Christmas, dear friends and family!

We hope this has been a good year for all of you. It’s been quite an exciting year for us. Here’s what we’ve had going on.

First and foremost, our little boy Jaguar was born this summer. We were so excited to finally have a son and an heir to our family fortune. *Cough* Ahem. He is an absolutely delightful baby, always full of smiles, sleeps well, eats well; he’s pretty much what dreams are made of. His hobbies are biting his hands to soothe his gums, smiling at strangers, and playing with his own feet.

Fifii is in P2, where she is becoming bilingual in the Gaelic unit. This means her classes are separate from the English classes, and her teacher speaks only in Gaelic – ‘full immersion’. Her grasp of the language has come so far, and she can already speak and read quite a lot of Gaelic. Don’t worry, she’ll learn to read and write in English soon enough! She is a very sensitive and caring child, who looks out for other people and really cares about their feelings. She and her sister are best friends, and she is always looking out for her baby brother. She is very outgoing, confident and funny and makes friends everywhere she goes. Her interests are reading, drawing, Highland dancing, pottery, tennis and drama. She is a star in the making who loves being the centre of attention. (Hmm, who does that sound like?)

Lolly is in the Gaelic nursery and is also coming on well with the language. She is a little wildfire, with such a determination in her spirit that her mummy often doesn’t know what to do with her! But she and her daddy have a special understanding, which is lucky. She is always trying to get you to laugh, even when you are trying to be serious, and especially when she’s supposed to be in trouble. No one is immune to her goofiness and her big cheeky grin. She adores her baby brother and dotes on her big sister. Lolly’s current interests are drawing (often on furniture), tap dancing, football (aka soccer), pottery and computers. (Hmm, who does THAT sound like?)

Scott is still working away, doing all kinds of complicated things for big boss-type people, and enjoying his free time playing computer games and guitar. He is always learning something new and inadvertently making his wife feel dumber by the second. He loves playing with his son, helping Fifii with her maths lessons, Lolly with her counting, and both of them with their computing. He has also become the ultimate bedtime expert, as he ends up with bedtime duties most nights! He’s recently taken an interest in cooking and the children have dubbed him, not only the Pancake King, but the Pancake Hero. Oh, and his moustache was only for Movember.

Lori started childminding last year and finds it to be the perfect job, as she gets to stay home with her kids but work at the same time. Now that maternity leave has ended, she will go back to teaching baby signing classes, and she has also started a new business, an online shop. She is still involved with theatre, and performed in this year’s pantomime as the Principal Boy. She’s been learning Gaelic too, so she can help her children with their homework and keep the Scottish native language and culture alive!

Last year, we also introduced Chewbacca to our family. He is a sooty-fawn mini lop-eared rabbit who lives indoors in a hutch. His favourite things are cabbage, cardboard, and running wildly around the living room. He and Lolly are very close friends, even though I think he’s actually quite afraid of her noisy screeching and chasing.

We hope you have a happy Christmas this year and would love to hear from you if we haven’t in a while. We wish you a new year full of good times and precious moments.

Scott, Lori, Fifii, Lolly, Jaguar and Chewy

Monday, December 24, 2012

Things That Today Would've Been Good Facebook Updates

- I've been blaming Lolly for losing her new Christmas dress in her messy room before ever even getting to wear it. Just found it in MY messy room. Worst mum ever.

- I just got thoroughly peed on by a sleepwalking four year old. Merry Christmas to me.

- Jaguar messed with Texas.

- The best thing about being American: Chocolate gravy and biscuits for brinner.

- The Christmas Eve Pajama Fairy visited today! She changed all the beds and gave everyone (except me) new jammies.

Fifii (Cinderella) and Lolly (Belle)

Scott (Marvel Comics) and Jaguar (Sesame Street)

- I don't know where the Pajama Fairy shops, but she didn't remove the security tag from Scott's pajamas... and she doesn't have the receipt either.

- Not only did Customs charge me £25 to receive a Christmas parcel from my brother, they also unwrapped all the presents inside. Thanks, guys. So much for surprises!

- With Mia-Lena and Adam here, it's like a Wee Honey Bee Childminding Reunion! (Reindeer idea knicked from Lolly's nursery.)

- Christmas baking!

Devils Food Chocolate with silver shimmer

Buttermilk Apple Pie

Egg Custard Pie

Buttermilk Biscuits (from scratch)

- Buttermilk biscuits from scratch... Bisquick, you just got owned.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Catch-up

What a December it's been.

I don't remember any Christmases Past being as stressful as this year's.

I've been to bed two nights in a row now (and possibly another tonight) with headaches or migraines. Friday night was especially bad. I haven't had a migraine like that in at least a year. The stress - oh the stress of everything! - is really getting to me.

Today's activity was simple; the kids performed in a nativity play at the church we've started visiting (and really, really like).

Afterwards, Granny treated them to an early Christmas present of getting 'hair feathers' put in at the hair salon.

The second part of today's activity was reading books about the nativity, which we also managed to do this afternoon.

I've not been good at blogging, but I have done most of the other activities this week that were planned. We painted canvas art on Day 17, we went out to eat for Lolly's birthday on Day 18, we drank (homemade) hot chocolate and watched The Grinch on Day 19, made Christmas crackers on Day 21, and looked through old photo albums (our wedding album this time) on Day 22. So not bad this week!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I think I'm just about ready for it. I have some baking to do, and a few last gifts to wrap, and a Pajama Fairy appearance to make, and a few other wee bits and bobs. Tonight, I need to tidy up the living room, making it childminding-friendly since I'm working tomorrow, and I would REALLY like to get started on cleaning my bedroom. It all depends on my head and on Jaguar, who hasn't been feeling too great this weekend.

Nollaig Chridheil!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 15 In Edinburgh

Yesterday morning, we all awoke bright and early to drive to Edinburgh for our Advent Activity - visit old friends!

We arrived at Craig and Judith (and their two gorgeous children)'s house at quarter to 10 in the morning to the delicious smells of fresh coffee, bacon and sausages, haggis-stuffed mushrooms, and cooked tomatoes and eggs. Judith had made us an incredible spread for 'brunch'. After stuffing ourselves silly, and allowing an hour for digestion, we took the bus into the city centre where we met another two old friends, Bryce and Ashley, who were visiting Edinburgh on a short trip from Utah. Bryce, Ashley, their adorable youngest son, and the five McFarlanes enjoyed a pub lunch (well, we McFarlanes were still full from breakfast but managed desserts) and then a walk through the German market. We met back up with Craig, Judith and kids, and headed back to their house for the evening. The men left us women with the children (typical) and spend the majority of the evening in the Whisky Society, and we girls had gingerbread and a good catch-up while the kids played extremely well together. Finally, we ended the night with fish suppers from the chippie before all heading our separate ways again.

It's funny how some friends just ... don't change. Well, 'don't change' isn't quite right either; we've all changed enormously, considering when we first knew each other, we were all childless and free. Most of our memories together include late nights drinking gin and discussing theology, politics and the then very important subject of birth control (we were all natural family hippies in the making back then). None of us have really seen each other since having children, so all these years later, I worried we'd be so different we'd have nothing to talk about - but that wasn't the case!

It was just a really great day. It would've been better, of course, if the rest of the folks from that era were there - Jonathan and Sarah (and their now two daughters), David and Neyir (and their now two sons) and Michaela (with her now husband and baby bump). And of course, wouldn't want to forget that Bryce and Ashley's eldest two boys were not present either. But all of them (us) are American or Canadian, with the exception of Judith and Craig, so everyone pretty much has moved back the North America in the seven years that have passed.

Thanks, everyone - especially Judith and Craig - for a wonderful day. We'll see you again soon, we'll make sure of it. It's not as if Edinburgh is actually that far away! As for the rest of you... someday, someday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 14

I'll let you just guess if we did our activity today.

Ding ding ding! If you guessed 'no' you would be correct! Today's activity was to make Christmas wreaths - never happened!

The kids came home from school, and I was all geared up to get out the tissue paper and the glue, but I got a text from the boys' mum saying they'd get picked up early, so instead, we made snack-time out of the cakepops from a few days ago. We melted some chocolate, poured sprinkles into a bowl and dipped cakepops into both. And then ate them. It was excellent fun. (We followed that unhealthy snack with a bowl of mango yogurt to even it out somehow.)

And off topic, I gave Jaguar a babyspoonful of unsweetened natural yogurt, and he was entirely confused/impressed.


Anyway. We had fun with our cakepops. I still thought maybe we'd do our wreaths after the boys left, but we didn't. Instead, we had a girly+Jaguar night in while Scott went to the cinema with his mum, dad and sister. We ordered in Chinese, opened their presents from their friends Eva and Eden from school, and watched Frosty the Snowman in pajamas. The girls also bought snow globes (we had to pop into Tesco to get some photos printed - and while they were there they got to play with an iPad-operated remote control car!) and a Santa sticker book, so we played with those too. Sure we never did wreaths, but we had a good evening together!

I also finished a sewing project. I made a stack of Eco Reusable Sandwich wraps, all of [sand]which have already been bought and paid for, for my IntoBento site. [Sand]Which is still to be launched, sorry, dear Awaiting Public.

Will take orders for them though!

Tomorrow, we are off to Edinburgh to see friends Judith & Craig & kids, whom we haven't seen in years. Hopefully we can find their house... Scott and I aren't the best with directions, and we're worse when we try to find someplace together! But it's an early jump, so I'd better get to bed. It's nearly midnight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Christmas! It's A... Door!

We finally got around to *actually* doing an activity today! We didn't do yesterday's activity - make reindeer food - and I'm beginning to think I'm the biggest Grinch in town, but we did today's, and I'm glad we did. It was easy, fun, quick, and the kids loved it. I might need to buy more sellotape now, but oh well! All in the name of Christmas, yeah?

I was lucky enough to have found a huge stash of leftover Christmas wrapping paper in the hall closet, so had plenty to waste use without having to buy any. We had fun figuring out the best way to wrap the door, taping it together, cutting and making a bow and tag. The kids' bedroom is very festive now.

I feel terrible for how many days we've skipped; the kids are keeping tabs; we still need to make up our gingerbread man-making, Christmas card-making and reindeer food-making. We'll get there, I promise! And in my defense, we didn't do reindeer food yesterday, because we made cakepops instead. Lolly got a lot of money for her birthday, and when I said she could either save it in her bank account to buy something really big, or spend it, she immediately snapped, 'SPENDIT'. So SPENDIT we did, and she chose very wisely; she bought herself a cakepop maker and a stack of books. We came home, and everyone - the boys, Fifii and Lolly - were desperate to try it out, so we made up a cake mix and made cakepops. So, you see, it wasn't out of laziness that we never made reindeer food.

Well, anyway, it's coming up for 8 o'clock, and my plan is now to make a cup of hot chocolate, sit down with my sewing machine, and finish my sewing project for my friend Maria. Once that is complete, assuming there is time, I intend to unwind in a hot bath before getting an early night. But really, we'll see how early I actually get to bed for...

Like the girls' t-shirts? They love wearing special Daddy shirts to bed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No Cards, Not Today

Right. Plan for next December: Don't be so busy with EVERYTHING else to do what's important, that is, Advent Activities with the kids.

I've been a real failure this December.

Sunday, we were to have a picnic in our pajamas on the floor. For some reason, eating dinner on the floor as a picnic is mega-exciting to the kids, and to do it in pajamas is somehow even more incredible. Well, we did manage to follow through with that, though dinner was merely leftover party food from the day before, reheated. And I didn't get any photos. I was still recovering from post-party stress disorder. I think I might still be recovering to this day.

Yesterday, the 10th, we were told by the elves to paint Christmas decorations. I am proud to say we achieved this as well, and it went according to plan. I went out in the morning and found some great wooden tree ornaments for £1 each and bought enough for all the kids to paint one. After school, the boys (my childminded boys will be from here on known as 'the boys') and the girls (my girls) finished their homework and donned painting aprons and went to work. They seemed to really enjoy it, and even Lolly managed to not stress me out with the project, which is pretty magical.

But today, we were instructed to make Christmas cards and deliver them to the neighbours. Cue loud BWAW BWAW BWAAAAAAAW. (That's a failure buzzer noise, FYI.) We never did anything of the sort. I had an IntoBento party tonight, displaying my stock and doing some yogurt taste-testing and demonstrations, so I didn't have time to get up to my elbows in glitter and glue. The kids actually all had fun setting up my 'shop' with me anyway, so we still had fun together, just not elf-approved fun.

The party tonight went well, by the way. I wasn't sure if anyone was going to come at all, but in the end, a good few people came, and we had a good time over mulled wine and mince pies, and I made some pennies for Christmas. So, for any of you reading, thanks for coming over! It was great catching up with those of you I haven't seen in a while!

Now, it's nearly 10pm, and I really want to go to bed, but Scott and I are going to watch Sunday's episode of Dexter first. We need some us time, and what better, more romantic way of spending time together than watching a TV program about a serial killer?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Lolly's Party

Well, let's see, how many days have we NOT done our activity?

Yesterday, Day 7, we were to cut out paper snowflakes for the window, but the girls went to Granny and Grampa's house straight after school for an overnight. The boys (my minded boys) and I just hung out after school, not doing much at all, just relaxing after a long week. However, it appears the girls made their snowflakes with Granny, so not a total fail.

Today's was easy - go to Lolly's birthday party. Ha, I say it was easy... rather it was a helluva lotta work leading up to it, and during, and after too. Even now, with daughters in bed, son almost asleep and hubby on the alcohol run, I still have a kitchen turned upside down from baking and a living room full of art supplies to clean up. But it was worth it!

(By the way, her birthday isn't until the 18th, but no one can ever manage a party the week before Christmas! Poor planning on our part, eh, Scott? Whose birthday is also the week before Christmas... he should've known better!)

I worked so hard on layering this jelly, just to have it tip over in the car. Boo!

This just didn't turn out the way I saw it in my head, but pretty sure Lolly was chuffed with it anyway! The Yellow Brick Road should not have been made with the star tip of my cake decorating thingy-ma-bob, and I should've glittered the Emerald City before putting it on the cake.   It was my first attempt at fondant modelling, though, and the whole thing taught me a few lessons. 

Was hoping this would turn out green because it was orange and lime flavoured, but nope!  The sliced limes worked though. Never got to drink any though, mind you, so no idea how it tasted.

Party favours made by Greenock pottery - Christmas tree decorations in ruby slippers and Emerald Cities.

Musical Munchkins (aka Musical Chairs).

Those who got out had to reach into the Witch's cauldron (and pull out a sweet).

Wicked Witch Broom Race... total disaster, for the record.

Lolly blowing out the candle.

And finally, the happy birthday girl, my almost 4 year old Lolly.

I love you, little pumpkin. Hope your 'Off To See The Wizard' party was everything you hoped it would be. (It nearly wasn't, we almost forgot to play Pass the Parcel, the one game she was insistent we play at her party! Thanks those of you who stuck around after the party was over to squeeze it in!) And now to await your actual birthday in two weeks!

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Gingerbread men from 2010
I'm glad it's December, and I don't feel the obligation to blog EVERY single day (even though I'd LIKE to). I've been so, so, so busy these past few weeks, with late nights every single night, that I'm getting more than just overwhelmed... I'm getting out of control. So tonight, even though I still have a hundred things to get done, I'm going to bed. Early. Before 10. I have one assignment I really simply MUST complete, and after that, I'm snuggling in with Jaguar for an early night.

We've not managed to complete our Advent Activities for the past two days. Yesterday we were supposed to make paper lanterns, but I just couldn't make the time between making dinner and getting to a parents meeting at the school for 6. Today we were supposed to make gingerbread men, one of my favourite Christmas activities, but I didn't have all the ingredients on hand and no time or money to go buy them. So I felt awful for all the kids today, but in the end, I don't think they really cared too much. We will make them another day for sure though.

I've had a splitting headache all day, so tonight, after I put the girls in bed, Jaguar and I took a bath, and then fell asleep on the bed feeding. I'm only just up, and the only reason I got up was to do this one thing for tomorrow before heading back to bed.

Lots to do, but today, I just need sleep.

Back to better blogging tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dear Santa, Cranberry Garlands and Tree Art: Days 3 and 4

Yesterday and today's Advent Activities were kind of amalgamated, so I don't feel too bad about not posting yesterday at all.

Day 3 we wrote letters to Santa and strung cranberry garlands for the birds. The Santa letter-writing campaign was totally trumped by the stringing of the cranberries though, which went better than I thought it would. I will admit I was a nervous wreck though with the children and the threading needle. I ended up letting them hold the needle while I pierced the cranberries. I couldn't bear the thought of them trying to force a cranberry through and pricking their fingers... gahhhh can't even think of it now! The older children (Fifi and one of the boys I childmind) were absolutely fine with stringing, and I had no worries about them, but the two younger ones only got to help - they didn't get to do the stringing on their own. Anyway, it was good fun, and particularly amusing watching them all try to eat the incredibly sour cranberries during the process!

We hung the cranberry garlands on the bushes outside our front door today, so we could check them daily and see if the birds were interested. They look quite nice, if you ask me!

Today's Activity, Day 4, was to decorate a Christmas Tree Wall Poster. I was planning on just cutting out a tree from a huge sheet of paper, but while in Lidl this morning, I found a large canvas for £4 and the wheels in my head began to turn. So I bought one, took it home, painted a green tree on it, let it dry, and when the kids came home, they were encouraged to use their imaginations and decorate it. At first they weren't sure, but then I started bringing out loads of odds and ends and crafty bits and bobs, and they really went to town then. I hope they had as much fun doing it as I had watching them! I love the result and am going to hang the 'poster' somewhere prominent once it has dried.

From shabby to chic.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Day 2 - Santa's Email

DeBloAdMo - every good project needs a logo. Unfortunately I'm not entirely pleased with this one, but I did make it up very quickly today so the month wouldn't pass without one. Anyone else taking part is free to use the logo on their blog too!

Well, last night was the last night of the Panto, and I'm left feeling exhausted and full of the cold. I slept in as late as I could this morning, but with Scott off helping his parents, I still had to get up and deal with the kids around 9 or so. I've been a zombie all day, so I'm glad today's Advent Activity was an easy one - check email to see if Santa's message has arrived.

We are waiting for Daddy to get home before checking the email, but you can view the video messages for each child by following links below! (I imagine this option will be for the grandparents.)


From now until Christmas, I will be snowed under (pun intended) with events, parties, activities, and especially work. Tonight I'm getting started on all that got left undone this past week with Panto going on, beginning with laundry. I'd been keeping the family laundry pretty well under control since Jaguar was born, but this week it's just piled up (pun intended) and gotten out of control.

Tomorrow's back to the daily grind, but at least I won't have rehearsals or a performance to worry about after work is done. My goal for December - get to bed by 10.30 every night.

Aye right!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Elves Have Come! - Day 1

The girls got out of their bath this morning to discover that the Elves had come and put their Christmas letters in their Advent Calendar!

Today's activity - Go to the Panto and kick off December with Puss In Boots. And that's where we are headed now! Last day of the panto, and I must say, I'm looking forward to having some time off again!

Happy December!