ewein2412: (harriet writing (no text))
Apparently my OWN CHILD checks my blog hopefully for new posts and is always disappointed.

So I am going to try to rectify the situation by giving you a single week’s update. A Week, a typical one (last week). Because I kind of take these events for granted, but looking at them from the angle of Not Me, some of them are pretty cool.

Cut for long-windedness )

ewein2412: (Sara)
My "aftermath" post is 4 days late because Life, nevermind racing, interferes with LiveJournal. Can I just say that yesterday was Mark’s last day of primary/elementary school, my last day of a 10-year-long association with Viewlands Primary School, Sara’s last day of her beloved Guides/Scouts troop who are now DISBANDED because they are all too old, AND our 12-year-old goldfish died. The goldfish was as old as Mark, possibly older, and we have had it since we moved to Scotland. When I left the house to meet Mark at the end of his last day of primary school, Fizz was breathing - when I came home, Fizz was dead. Definitely, all things considered, the end of an era.

We have also been to Mark’s "Leavers’ Assembly," Sara’s senior school play, cricket practice, the supermarket, and the shortlist launch for the Scottish Children’s Book Award. Which Code Name Verity is on, along with (in the Older Readers category) The Prince Who Walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird and The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison. (I am so pleased to have finally met Elizabeth Laird, author of The Garbage King and Crusade. Given that The Prince Who Walked with Lions is a book I wish I’d written - so much so that I actually have a folder labelled "Alemayehu" in my work-in-progress folder - I am extremely pleased about sharing the list with Elizabeth Laird. Also, we had an awesome rushed Ethiopian experience swap and we think she probably crashed overnight with my aunt & uncle (Susan & Rog) in Woldia in 1968.)

But I digress!

Yes, Sara and I completed the Race for Life without incident - the weather was only marginally more cooperative than last year, and I didn’t end up carrying Sara’s hoodie and water bottle like I did last year, either. I finished in 38 minutes and Sara in 34. So we were both slower than we were a year ago. I wasn’t really expecting to be faster as I was much more cautious about training this year, due to an achy knee which I do NOT want to encourage.

[livejournal.com profile] lauradi7 discovered that we are in Photo 23 on the Dundee Courier website - we are the woman in blue and the teen in the navy sweatshirt!

But here’s a couple of close-ups.

race for life 2 race for life 1

Here's our cheering section. The beak is from his school play parrot costume from last week:

race for life 3


Late donations still gratefully accepted - our online donation page is here:

http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/gatland-girls
ewein2412: (snow)
I feel like we have gone completely native now.

Mark played in his first curling tournament on Sunday, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s ‘Newcomers’ tournament (for junior players in their 1st or 2nd season of curling). We spent the night near Irvine on the west coast in order to be up in time for his first game at 10.00 a.m., and a good thing too, because the ice rink was in the absolute middle of nowhere (though not far off the beaten track) and caused us some bewilderment in finding it - despite our printed directions from the AA, GPS on Tim’s phone, a Google search and 2 traditional Ordnance Survey maps. The fellow we asked directions from commented, ‘You’re not the first to ask.’

The teams were scratch teams - players mostly from the ‘Central Belt’ of Scotland, though a few were from as far away as Aberdeen. Each team was made up of 4 kids who’d never met each other before, and, in Mark’s case, who’d never played a serious game before. They played 4 ‘games’ of an hour each, which consists of 3 ‘ends’ (rounds, basically) - and then semi-finals and then finals - so by the end of the day they’d actually been on the ice, playing, for 6 full hours, with an hour’s lunch break.




Mark’s team came THIRD out of 18! They were all awarded chocolate Easter eggs as prizes.

The semi-finals were nail-biting. I wouldn’t have believed it, but they were. Each team won an end, and then the third end finished in a TIE. So they had to have a play-off. It was phenomenal. The finals were NEARLY AS BAD. I had no idea curling was this exciting.

I also didn’t realize that it is such a busy game. All four team players are pretty much at work the whole time, and they’re working hard - it’s cold on the ice, the curling stones weigh no less than 17.24 kg / 38 lbs., and when you’re not taking a shot yourself, you’re racing up and down and sweeping as hard as you can. The kids did all their own scoring and organizing, too. It was a fabulous event.

We had supper in the pub down the street from us. Where everybody does really know our name.

So, that’s the curling season finished. Now it’s spring break. ‘Snow Forecast’ said all the variable message signs on the M8 and A9 on the way home, but there isn’t any in Perth, THANK GOODNESS.
ewein2412: (snowicon)
Meanwhile, back in the land of the Immortal Haggis…

Burns Night has come and gone and so has Mark’s P7 Burns Supper, which they held on 30 January. They are 11 years old and the two classes put on a REAL Burns Supper - it lasted THREE HOURS, beginning at 6.30 p.m. with a small string orchestra and the whole school brass band playing a selection of Scottish songs including ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’ and ‘Scotland the Brave.’ Then, not quite but nearly the highlight of the evening, the entire P7 year recited the whole of ‘Tam o’ Shanter.’ The way they did this was for each of the 60 kids to recite 4 lines of the poem - they took turns coming to the front in rows of half a dozen to have their say.

Mark doing his part. Yes, he is wearing a sporran. The table decoration is hiding it.

And then they sang a couple of Burns songs including (appropriately, since it was the day before the UK taxes were due), ‘The De’il’s Awa’ wi’ th'Excise Man.’ Also, ‘Scots Wha Hae,’ essentially the Wallace fight song. WHICH MAKES ME CRY. (Well, to tell the truth, ‘Scotland the Brave’ does too. But I am a little strange that way. Of course it is not for the same reason that ‘Highland Cathedral’ makes me cry. The sound of five dozen earnest young voices singing their hearts out for home and beauty always makes me cry.)

Sorry, have I mentioned that the dress code was what we call ‘Touch of Tartan’? Essentially this means you can wear whatever you want, but you have to include something Scottish in your outfit. Most of the boys were in kilts. (It just kills me that when my children go to a party, as many boys as girls are wearing skirts.) The girls were in shiny, skimpy party dresses with tartan sashes over their shoulders. The parents all had tartan ties or shawls (one woman was wearing her son’s boyscout troop neckerchief!) I had my silver thistle kilt pin with the Cairngorm amber flower, which I bought in the Portobello Road market in 1984.

The 120-some parents were seated around tables which had been cunningly arranged by Mark’s math class to provide everyone with a clear view of the stage as well as giving fire access (Mark, as one of the MC’s, was responsible for the ‘safety announcement’ which included a word for word recital of what to do in the event of loss of cabin pressure — that’s my boy) — and also to provide a clear path for the Piping in of the Haggis!

This was the highlight of the evening. Honest to glory, I really cannot do this justice in mere words.

A pretty, [understandably] blushing young dinner lady clothed head to toe in white came marching out of the kitchen carrying a haggis on a paper plate. She was PROPERLY accompanied by a piper, the real thing, playing ‘Scotland the Brave’ again on the bagpipes and dressed in kilt and Jacobite shirt (the casual look—the kind of shirt that laces up at the collar). The piper was in his mid-teens, a cousin of one of Mark’s classmates. Marching with them were the three or four kids whose duty it was to Address the Haggis.

Note charming collection of haggis pompoms...

They marched round and round the assembly hall about three times and then up on the stage, where the kids recited the WHOLE of the Address to the Haggis — ‘Great Chieftain o’ th' Puddin’ Race’ — and plunged a knife into it, and then marched back into the kitchen, and then we got served a full meal of haggis and neeps and tatties, followed by coffee and shortbread decorated with a thistle motif and made by Mark’s teacher, with our children waiting on us. They cleaned up afterward, too.



During coffee the kids performed ‘The Immortal Memory’ where they detail Robert Burns’s life. They had all researched and written these pieces themselves. The entertainment took a nosedive (or an upturn, depending on how you look at it) after that with the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ and ‘Reply from the Lassies’ which got VERY. SILLY.

And then there was dancing.

Scottish country dancing, of course — it was in the gym hall and was also rather silly, but UTTERLY charming. The two classes took it in turns to demonstrate each dance and then to dance with their parents. I am devastated to have to admit that when Mark and his father were dancing together, my camera was in Tim’s pocket. Grrrrr.

Mark dancing with his mother

The evening finished with all 180 of us holding hands in a circle and singing Auld Lang Syne (why yes, Auld Lang Syne makes me sob too! I might have to take a break from Scottish narrators for a while).

Sara disdained to come along to this event and Mark was fairly happy not to have his older sister heckling him, so I had to go next door when we got home to collect her from the neighbors’. When they heard I’d been at a non-alcoholic Burns Supper they were, at first disdainful. Then the questions started coming:

‘I bet they didn’t pipe in the Haggis.’

‘They did! They piped in the Haggis and marched with it round the hall three times! And then they did the whole of the Address to the Haggis from memory!’

‘But they didn’t actually serve you Haggis, did they?’

‘Yes! And neeps and tatties and the children all waited on us!’

‘Did they have other entertainment?’

‘They had a string orchestra and a brass band and dancing and they did the whole of Tam o’ Shanter!’

Everybody wished they had been there.



It was the Best Burns Supper EVER. ever ever.



You know, the kids did the whole thing themselves - all the entertainment, arrangement, table decorations, menus, programme, planning, 'hire' of piper and kitchen staff, set-up and clean-up, figuring the cost and giving out the tickets, and I just have to say hats off to the teachers and the school and the Council and the Scottish Government. This was really the Curriculum for Excellence and Cooperative Learning at their shining most successful, I think!



I found the pervasive prevalence of Irn Bru in the decor, as a representative of All Things Scottish, quite hilarious. There was no Irn Bru served at the meal. But it was There In Spirit.
ewein2412: (verity text)
[closed to comments due to Spam attacks!)

Mark's class is more deeply embroiled in World War II than I am. When their teacher played them a sample air raid siren they all spontaneously dived under their desks (because Mark's class is LIKE THAT). Today he brought home from school this note:

On Thursday 10th November we are having an Evacuee Day where the children will have the chance to step into the role of an evacuee for the day and experience some of the thoughts and feelings they may have had... your child [may dress] up in the part and bring a small case. Your child could also bring a more traditional lunch (jam or ham sandwich, carton of milk, biscuit and piece of fruit). If any of you are available to give an emotional farewell at approx 9am on Thursday that would be great. We are also in need of a few adults to pop in and act as a host family to "select" children.

Me: I AM SO GOING TO DRESS UP FOR THIS.
Sara: You have to be the one that takes all the left over kids with nits that no one else wants, you know.
ewein2412: (verity text)
I have a new website. It is really just a cheap-and-cheerful google website. But I needed something a little slicker looking, I think, than the old one, which was put together in WORD for pete’s sake. And also something I can update more easily. So. It is not the shiniest site on the planet, but for now, it will do the job.

It is here.

“Make do and mend,” ahahahahahaha!

This is the House of World War II at the moment. I am struggling to write a book about V1 bombs and the Ravensbrück concentration camp (*cough cough cough*) (why do I choose such light, easy topics?), and Mark is deeply immersed in his World War II unit in school. They have all made gas masks. Apparently, the first time their teacher played them a recording of an air raid siren, they all spontaneously dived under their desks (because Mark’s class is LIKE THAT).

Here’s me, sitting at the dinner table reading a document entitled “V-1 (Flying Bomb).” Here’s Mark: “That looks like a doodlebug.” OMG HOW IS MY 11 YEAR OLD ABLE TO RECOGNIZE A FIESELER FI-103???

And of course the Gatland household has for the past two years lived under the wing, as it were, of Code Name Verity.

Is it TWO YEARS already? I started writing it in October 2009. The UK edition comes out on 6 February 2012. I have permission to post the UK cover on my website, so I’ll post it here, too:




The US and Canadian editions come out in May 2012. There are separate publishers in each country.

The book I am writing now is hard work. CNV was easy. I feel kind of like I am writing a “second novel” all over again, ten years after I wrote my second novel.
ewein2412: (snow)
he has been explaining to me that he has made up a catchphrase to describe what it's like when you make a come-back, or pull through to unexpected victory as a dark horse:

"I call it, Last one down the stairs, first one out the door."

-----------------------------

We had this conversation over breakfast:

Mark: Is it racist to call someone pink?

E Wein: No, it's a political slur, not a racial one. It means "a bit red," so with some very liberal or even Communist political political views. Communist countries get called "Red" because their flags are red.

Mark: What's a Communist?

E Wein: A Communist government tries to share out everything so there aren't any rich people or poor people, but it doesn't usually work that way.

Mark: What's a Gossip Communist?

------------------------------

After I had finished laughing, and explained what a gossip columnist was, Mark added:

"Speaking of Communism, what was the problem with Calvinism?"

...

he is 10.

Indeed, musing upon it, I suspect that the term "pink" in whatever context he heard it may have been a SEXUAL slur rather than anything else... And I am pretty sure that whatever he knows about Calvinism he picked up by reading the introduction to one of my Calvin & Hobbes collections.
ewein2412: (Default)
the Free Hotel is ROAMING. You can move it to any property you own at the beginning of your turn and collect Hotel Rent if someone lands there. (But you can't move it if you're in jail.)

This game does seem to end in all the players having thousands of pounds/dollars and no property to speak of.
ewein2412: (Harriet LOL)
Last night I played the SECOND BEST GAME OF MONOPOLY EVER. Mark has made his own Chance and Community Chest cards, a la Calvin and Hobbes. Monopoly is so much better when your 9-year-old makes the Chance cards.

So, first Tim got the Kangaroo Card, which is the one that says simply, "Kangaroo kills you. YOU LOSE." It was very early in the game so we were kind to him and made him put all his money in the bank but he got to keep his property. We gave him another break when he got "Pay Electricity bill--£2000" by pointing out that since he OWNED the Electric Company he didn't actually have to pay. Meanwhile I had bought Boardwalk/Mayfair, and though I didn't have a monopoly I got the Free Hotel card, which means you can stick a hotel on anything you own, and when Tim finally landed on it he gave up (and I inherited all his property, cool).

I also got the "Sell your Cafe for £2500" card, "Advance to Go--pick up £400," AND I landed on Free Parking which had a ton of money on it in the Kitty, so plunked hotels on my only monopoly, the light blues. Poor Mark didn't stand a chance. He was hoping I'd roll triple doubles and end up in jail but I told him I'd pay to get out--what the heck, I'd just BUY THE JAIL--and then I got a Get Out of Jail Free card anyway. When I pulled "BINGO! yay you won bingo. Get best prize £2000!" Mark pointed out that I had cheated, as he was holding the invisible Time Machine Card which says that I used a time machine to find out what all the Bingo numbers were going to be and therefore I now had to give him all my hotels. This card obviously did not exist and as he then landed on my Boardwalk/Mayfair hotel and owed me £2000 anyway, we declared the game over.

It is SO much more fun to play this way. This was not my all-time best monopoly win ever, though I did end up with more than £8000. The BEST one ever was the first time we played with mark's new chance cards and I ended up owning all the property on the board with hotels on everything.

(incidentally I have also got the Kangaroo Card in the past, so I don't always get this lucky.)

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