Monday, July 29, 2013

and that was very smart of her, or so her mother found*

Whenever Dulcie does anything remotely clever, I feel like getting out the Yellow Pages and looking up Mensa, but I'm starting to suspect other people might not view this clip the same way I do.  I swear I thought my parents would be phoning up in floods of tears at their grandchild's sweet genius, but their reaction was somewhere between nil and understated, so most likely nobody else reading this will be that impressed either.  Ah well, I share it nonetheless because I think it is brilliant.  Behold Dulcie filling in the blanks in one of her favourite books, Julia Donaldson's Room On The Broom.  She does this for lots of her favourite books and songs these days and I'm always amazed at just how much she knows/remembers/can say.  I'm generally amazed at everything she does.  As she starts running around and chatting away and working out problems for herself and using her imagination, I keep looking back at how tiny and helpless she was as a wee babe on a ventilator in an incubator and in some ways it doesn't seem like that long ago, but what a way she's come!  And I enjoy being one of THOSE parents who thinks their child is a genius about ten (ten thousand?) times a day.  It's so satisfying :)

* That's one for the Miffy fans amongst you.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

park life (I must have used that title before?)

Dulcie loves balls.  She carries them, she kicks them, she sits on them, she talks about them.
Dulcie loves nectarines.  She bites them, she sucks them, she carries them around, she cries when they are not ripe enough to eat, she calls them "neccies" or "neccues".
Dulcie loves hanging out in the park.  She's starting to look like a little girl.

I probably won't be posting quite so frequently now.  These are the last of my photos from my happy family weekend.  Those two days went a long way in the world of blogging!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

blanket on the ground

Dulcie loves blankets.  Fortunately, we have a rather large collection of them.  The larger of them have come in very useful lately on trips to the park.  We usually have one under the pram somewhere...
...which is how Dulcie managed to make this bed for herself on the floor of Scotland Street School museum last weekend.  Making blanket beds is something Dulcie does a lot of when we're in the house.  The cats love it when she makes (and then abandons) a pile using every blanket we own.  I'm not sure where Dulcie got this idea from, she just seemed to invent this game out of the blue a few months ago and it stuck.  Blankets are not the worst kind of mess to clean up.  It's all good :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

me and my girl (again)

Taking "selfies" (as I believe the young folk call them) is an easy way to keep Dulcie entertained for a few minutes.  Here are some I took last week.  We kept having the same facial expression in them, but it wasn't planned.  Must have been some sort of mother-daughter ESP, right?  I seem to have no shame with regards to posting terrible photos of myself lately.  Feel free to look away!

You might notice Dulcie's hand is down my top in all these pictures.  She is boob obsessed these days.  BOOB OBSESSED!  Well, she always has been really, but I think she's getting worse rather than better, and she's still really reliant on breast-feeding for sleep.  She usually has me up every hour or two all through the night (after an initial spell of 2-6 hours in her cot - progress!) and has been particularly bad for it since the hot and clammy weather started.  I don't want to stop feeding her altogether yet (I was quite determined to let her keep doing it until the age of two if she was happy to) but I think it might be the only way to sort out her sleep problems.  It's just that feeling that there's no going back once I stop and it means those days are well and truly over :(  I'm so tired right now though, like literally falling asleep on my feet.  Something's got to give.  For now, I think I'm going to keep feeding her to see if things improve once the weather calms down a bit.  The long-term of breast-feeding is really not panning out how I'd imagined and most people I know with babies of a similar age gave it up ages ago (my weird shifts meant I had the luxury of being able to continue quite easily after returning to work) so I don't have anyone to compare stories with.  Has anyone reading this fed a baby to 18 months and beyond?  Can you tell me if this love for the boobs is normal?  And should I be discouraging it or going with the flow?  I'm fairly confident in my slapdash, haphazard parenting skills nowadays (the make-it-up-as-you-go approach hasn't failed me too badly yet) but I think perhaps I go with the flow a bit too often.  Maybe I should be laying down the law and drawing some lines now that Dulcie is getting a bit older.  Bah, I don't know.  Feel free to chime in :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

word of the week - manky

Dulcie's language skillz continue to come on apace.  One of the interesting things about her developing speech is that once she learns to say a word, she becomes much more interested in the thing the word represents.  For example, when she learned to say "apple", she suddenly wanted to eat apples all the time.  She's still busting out a fair few new words every day (so much fun!) but one of her more oft repeated words of late is "manky" and, since she learned to say it, all she wants to do is get, well, manky.
She's got to know all the best places with manky-making potential.  When we get near a place with mud or sand or soil or small stones, she will grab your hand and drag you towards the source, shouting, "Manky! Manky! Manky!" with an excited glint in her eye.  This is her in the Botanic Gardens one night last week.  I made sure to keep her away from the immaculate flowers, but nonetheless this behaviour attracted a few horrified looks from passers by.
She was having so much fun though and I think it's better for her to be a hands-on explorer of her surroundings than a clean freak.  There may be a more appropriate middle ground, however!  She was picking up handfuls of soil and literally rubbing them all over her face and clothes.  Thank goodness it was close to bath time.  She left a great tide line in the bath that night!
Here she is rolling around on the ground in protest once I did finally remove her - not the most flattering of photos!

I'm so glad these cute shorts came clean in the wash.

I'm trying to get some good video footage of Dulcie saying some of her (or some of my) favourite words.  I'm working on "manky monkey" as a phrase, but no joy yet. These two words are so cute when she says them, so as a combo should be mind-blowing.  I'll keep at it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


In the park one day last week, I spotted two baby moorhens.  Here's one of them accompanied by its mother who was hissing furiously at the paparazzi (me).  They were so fluffy!  And can you see how big its feet are?  Even the adult moorhens' feet look too big for their bodies, but the babies seem to be born with their feet in ready-made adult size.  I have looked for these little black fluffballs quite regularly since then and haven't managed to get so much as a peek, so I guess I was pretty lucky to spot them that day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

bathing belles

As well as hanging out in the park this weekend, we also managed a couple of outings, including this one to see the Bathing Belles exhibition at Scotland Street School Museum, all about the history of swimming in Glasgow and beyond.  It's a small exhibition, but really good, with lots of examples of old swimming suits and bikinis.  This one I'm wearing was definitely a reproduction and was probably intended for people smaller than I, but I can't resist trying on a historical outfit.
Graham kindly posed for the camera too... and did an annoyingly better job than me at it too.  Harumph.  Gosh, talk about stripe overload!
Scotland Street exhibitions always have plenty to keep the little ones entertained, but I think this is the first time we've been there with a little one of our own to take advantage.
This little house was a big hit, as were all the noisy seascape toys.
Toys and houses for Dulcie meant that Graham and I actually got to look at the exhibits and also managed to feel like we were really hanging out together rather than working opposing baby-wrangling shifts.

Interesting facts: water polo was invented in Glasgow (what?!) and the first commercial bikini was small enough to fit in a matchbox.  Wowsers.

I think the exhibition runs until just after new year, so plenty of time to catch it if you think you fancy it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

friday night dinners

 Last Friday night, Graham and I took advantage of my mum visiting to have an evening out sans baby and ate in the Hanoi Bike Shop.  This was our third visit.  It seems to have become our go-to destination any time a baby-sitter is on hand.  The food is freakin' delicious!  I do wonder if actually it's just really salty, but whatever their secret, it's darn tasty.  They make their own tofu on site and I don't know what they do to it but it's just out-of-this-world good, and I've had it a few different ways.  And, yes, I may be a vegetarian, but I'm not generally speaking a tofu freak.  And talking of vegetarianism (I know I've blogged before about trying to introduce a wee bit of fish/meat into my diet) I have actually ordered and enjoyed a chicken dish in the Hanoi Bike Shop once.  I think all their food is probably just yum-yum delicious, which is why it's so good that you can order a few different small plates and taste loads.  

Incidentally, that is my new haircut.  I got it done that day and did it on a whim (walking in off the street with no forward planning) so I still didn't know what I actually wanted.  I let the hairdresser decide what to do in the end and was fairly happy with the style he chose.  It's not the most exciting of hairstyles really, but I had got to the point where any style would be an improvement and it looks a bit more me now that I am in charge of washing and drying it and it sits a good two inches shorter and wider!
Back to Friday night dinners.  After the Hanoi Bike Shop, we headed to Nardini's and bought some ice cream.  We ate it en route to Kelvingrove Park and then sat on a bench doing absolutely nothing for a while.  Heavenly!
This Friday night's dinner also involved a trip to the park for Graham and I, but this time for a picnic with Dulcie.  I was excited to find peas in the pod that day and resorted to underhand measures to try to get Dulcie hooked on them too.  It worked...up to a point - she chews them up and then spits them out mostly, but she is excited to pluck them from the pods and shouts, "Peas! Peas! Peas!" a lot.  

I ended up getting surprise last-minute leave from work this weekend, so there has been lots of family time including four (count them!) picnics.  Awesome!  I feel so much more like me now I've had a bit of time with Graham and a bit of time where I am not either working or in sole charge of a toddler.  I can't wait for Dulcie to start nursery (though of course there is some trepidation) so I can have some family time most weeks.  Just 2.5 months to go...  That said, my work have rejected the hours I proposed (noooo!) but I'm hoping they'll accept my plan B, which still leaves me with some weekends off, though not as many as I'd hoped.  Fingers crossed...

And this photo shows the post-swimming, air-dried, in-need-of-a-wash version of my new haircut!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

park it!

I already mentioned in a previous post that we had been spending our evenings picnicking (?) and playing in the park, but I wanted to post these photos (stolen from Graham's phone) for my own sense of posterity.  Here's Dulcie with Doggie, her constant companion.  She's had him since Christmas, I think, but he (along with anything else dog-related) is flavour of the month.  He has a string, so she can pull him along behind her and he squeaks as he goes.  She is so happy taking him for walks.
Bubbles are another firm favourite for the great outdoors, although they do take a bit more parent participation.  Dulcie tries to blow them herself (and, amazingly, has succeeded a few times) but generally this just involves licking a bit of soapy bubble mix off the wand.  Eugh.
You might notice Dulcie wearing this Peppa Pig T-shirt a lot in recent photos.  She is Peppa obsessed.  Graham's mum got her some terrible Peppa Pig books a while back and it all stemmed from there.  I don't think she's really been exposed to the hype surrounding Peppa Pig, so I don't get what the major appeal is, but she howls and cries if this T-shirt is too dirty to wear and has to be coaxed into whatever else is available, shouting, "Pig! Pig! Pig!" all the while.  At least it's weather appropriate...for now!

I'm hoping we'll manage to squeeze in at least one evening picnic this week.  You've got to make the most of the blue skies while they last, haven't you?

Monday, July 15, 2013

accidental collection #1

Marceline recently wrote a blog post about blogging.  According to Marceline's guidelines, I am doing quite a number of things wrong, or should I say I could do quite a number of things better, so I decided to take her advice on board.  One piece of advice was something along the lines of not saying you're going to do something which you don't then deliver (I do that a lot and I'm just about to do it again now) but I can't change everything all at once now, can I?  So the piece of advice I am going to start following with immediate effect is to have some regular features and this is the first of those - accidental collections.  I'm sure I must have heaps of things lying around my house that I haven't really meant to collect, so there's probably enough blog material in this to keep me going for at least a year.  I'd love to say I was going to post about my accidental collections on a given day each and every week (maybe I'll get to that stage at some point) but that is not the way my life rolls at the moment, so you'll have to accept this half-arsed attempt, more of a semi-regular feature.  I have a couple of other feature ideas in mind too, some that I used to blog about that I'm planning to resurrect, as well as an idea I've had for a zine for years (again, Marceline's doing as I was meant to complete it for her Zine Challenge this year and last year, but failed on both counts) that I thought might be easier begun on my blog, in the hope I can zinefy it from there at a later date.  So watch this space, but not too closely.  (I always say that, don't I?  That's because I am a naughty blogger who repeatedly promises and blatantly fails to deliver.)

So without further ado, here follows accidental collection #1 - cross-stitched letters with old-fashioned girls on them.

The first cross-stitched letter I acquired was the L, my own initial, with the skipping girl.  I found this in a charity shop which is one of my favourites and also one with old-school prices of pretty much everything being under £1.  I probably paid about 50p for this.  It sat on the shelves in my now sadly demised craft room and made me quite happy.  Then, years later in 2012, I received the cross-stitched H in the advent calendar my sister gave me.  An advent calendar full of 24 gifts, mostly gleaned from charity shops or down the back of sofas, is a long-standing annual tradition between us.  I wasn't too sure what to do with a cross-stitched H really and that was the moment an annoying idea (I get these a lot, you might know them better as "a hare-brained scheme") was born.  I decided I had to get more cross-stitched letters, specifically an E, another L and an O.  My plan is to have a cross-stitched HELLO to hang, probably above my crafting desk (once that exists) as I doubt Graham will countenance its presence elsewhere.  I am also willing to consider following this plan without the letter O, so that I can have a cross-stitched HELL.  That just amuses me, but I would prefer HELLO if possible.  I thought this could be a very long-term challenge indeed, but I acquired the E just a few short months later.  I was at my mum's local recycling centre in May when my mum spotted the cross-stitched E in a box of frames and said, "Do you think we should get this for Elsie?" (Elsie is my youngest niece.)  There was no way Elsie was getting that letter!  I was given a bulk price for an armful of items that day, but I think we'd be talking 20-50p for this one.  

I wonder how long it will be before I find the other L and the O so I can hang these on my wall instead of just having them hanging around...?  I'm determined that they all have to be acquired by chance like these first three (though that doesn't mean I won't check eBay etc from time to time) and I am certainly not allowed to make/commission one.  That would be cheating and, besides, it would look funny in its newy-newness beside these slightly stained and sun-aged ones.

So that was the first of my many accidental collections.  I hope you enjoyed this insight into why my house is a disaster area :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

ice, ice (baby) lolly

It's been so hot lately!  I'm a big fan of blue skies, but not so much of hot hotness usually.  This year, however, I just can't get enough of it, probably because it is so much easier to entertain a toddler in the park than it is at home.  We've been having many meals in the park, including picnics that last way past Dulcie's bedtime.  It's great - she runs around, chasing squirrels and playing with her toys, while Graham and I lounge around on a blanket eating tasty food and drinking sparkling wine, plus when we get home there are no dishes to do and Dulcie is too tired to put up any fight about going to bed.  It also feels more like we've had some real time together as a family, rather than spending the evenings we do have on baths and settling routines.  Win-win-win and long may it continue!

A few months ago, I whizzed up some fruit with the blender (banana, peach and pineapple maybe?) and poured it into ice lolly moulds for Dulcie.  They hadn't been all that enthusastically received (I was generally recycling the uneaten melted lollies into her breakfast porridge the following morning) but suddenly she seems to have grasped the idea of them.  I don't know if it's because she's a wee bit older and finds it easier to hold onto the handle, lick, bite etc, or if it is just because they come as a welcome relief from the heat, but suddenly my home-made ice lollies are going down a treat.  Hoorah!

In other sunny news... This morning I discovered a very noticable red stain on my nice white blouse (probably a remnant of Dulcie's strawberry eating in the park) which no amount of wiping would remove, but I sat in the sun-soaked car park at work in my lunch break and that stain miraculously came right out, just by the power of the sun!  Wowsers!  Isn't summer great?

Friday, July 12, 2013

fashion victim/icon?

Dulcie likes to choose her own outfits these days.  What can I do?  It makes her happy.
Whoa!  Looks like someone just caught a glimpse of her reflection...
Strike a pose, Dulcie.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

what good is work?

I suppose, with a title like that, that I should preface this post with a disclaimer.  I need to work as it gives us 50% of the money we need to live on.  So that is really what good work is, but please ignore that indisputable fact and allow me to ramble on as if this really is a point worth debating.  Not that you should expect any kind of debate here.  It's taken me approximately three weeks to write this paragraph, so I think I may have lost the thread before I've even begun.

Basically, I am not getting any satisfaction from my job any more.  I don't know why this would be.  It's never been the most challenging or rewarding of positions, but after my nightmare time as a teacher, I thought I was happy that I had a job where I took no work, stress or worries home with me at the end of the shift.  I think I thought I'd appreciate that even more once I had a baby, thinking I'd see work as a separate part of my life.  Instead, my feelings have gone totally the other way and my time at work leaves me feeling unfulfilled and like I'm frittering my life away/wasting any talents I might have, though God only knows what those talents actually are.

Maybe it's to do with the hours I work.  Currently I do evenings and weekends while Graham works Monday to Friday, so you can imagine our family life is pretty much null and void.  Thankfully, this is a temporary arrangement (2.5 months to go!) but it's been a long year of snatched meetings on lunch breaks etc.  This means that pretty much all my non-working hours are spent without adult company (most other adults tend to work the old Monday to Friday regime too) and I had hoped that work would provide me with a semi social life, I suppose, people to chat to now and again, but this hasn't generally been the case.  My office went through quite a few changes while I was off on maternity leave and became a much less sociable environment, with everyone working from their own little box.  For some reason, since the office layout changed, nobody even seems to sit in the kitchen on their breaks any more either.  And, again, I work quite strange hours, so the office tends to be a bit quieter.  Don't get me wrong, it is great to have a change of pace from baby life, where I can sit down, read books on my lunch break, drink the occasional cup of coffee or check my emails without having to watch half an episode of Peppa Pig first.  I just wish there were more people to chat to now and again.  I feel like I spend more than enough time with my own thoughts as it is.  A couple of weeks ago, I did a ten-hour shift where I literally did not say a single word to another human being.  That 's just wrong, isn't it?  Thankfully, I had the spider in the picture at the top of this post for company of sorts!  And how sad that I spent my break photographing it for entertainment...!

The job itself (like most jobs, I guess) is also changing and becoming much more target driven.  We are constantly getting new software that makes our jobs easier and therefore, in theory, allows us to work faster.  I totally understand why this has to be the case, but it means that the side of the job I genuinely liked, the vaguely creative side of language and editing, is slowly being removed.  I'm starting to feel more and more that what I do is getting closer to data entry and that's not what I want to do with my life.  At one time I had a brain and used it.  I want to do that again.  I think...

But what else could I do?  I don't know what sort of job would make me happy and even if I did know, it would probably be the sort of job that would be mega competitive to land and I doubt my years of data entry and baby-having would stand me in good stead against the twenty-somethings with their internships and social media connections.  Plus I know I've got it so good where I am in terms of my company's flexibility and understanding related to my health and my motherly status.  I don't think there would be many employers who would let me dictate my own hours to the extent that my job does.  Maybe it's worth being thoroughly bored and having my soul destroyed in order to achieve/maintain that.

I definitely don't want to return to teaching (not that there are any vacancies in the area anyway) but I do miss some things about it, i.e. the actual teaching.  It was really all the other stuff (parents, inspectors, discipline, paperwork, protocol) that made me hate it, so I was thinking about looking for jobs with charities that work with people with dyslexia, for instance, so I could use my skills and get a sense of worth/achievement without going back into the school environment that nearly broke me.  I haven't found any vacancies so far and, to be honest, I'm not sure that the pay or the hours (mostly the hours) would really suit my life circumstances at the moment/for the foreseeable future.  I'm also not sure that's definitely the sort of thing I'd like to do.

What can I do?  I want a job with flexible hours, great bosses, half-decent wages, nice colleagues, a sense of worth/achievement with none of the related stress, and all of this in a place that I can get to easily via public transport without having to move house.  Hey, don't we all?  I think that is the problem.  Maybe I'd feel differently about work if I could get some sense of achievement from another area of my life, but where and when and how and with what energy?

Well, if anyone reading this wants to offer me a position, bring it on.  I have more qualifications than I know what to do with, limited life/work experience and a general lack of skills and self-confidence.  I'll also have to take plenty of time off to hang out at hospital and most of the time I'll turn up brain dead after a tough day/night of toddler-wrangling.  Yeah, I think I'll be staying where I am.

And if my whinging hasn't put you off at all and you think I just don't know what side my bread's buttered on, my company are actually hiring at the moment!  Just don't mention what I said about data entry in your application...