Thursday, January 30, 2014

televisual pleasures

We still don't get as much guaranteed evening time as we'd like and so don't watch nearly as many films as we used to, but lately I have been really enjoying some television.  Toast Of London was only aired a couple of months ago, I think, and we've already watched the whole series twice (thanks to our swanky new TV recording box) and I'd quite happily watch it all again right now.  I haven't really heard too many people talking about it, which surprised me because I found it absolutely hilarious.  I'm not sure how I'd describe it...  Bizarre, surreal, hilarious.  Oh, I already said hilarious...  I think if you liked Reeves and Mortimer in the '90s then you should love this.  Matt Berry is very Berry in it, but with a tad more seriousness/acting than usual, which I really liked.  Not that "seriousness" seems an appropriate word.  God, I'm an awful television reviewer!  I think what I mean is that the characters are absolutely stereotypes and cardboard cut-outs that are way too over-the-top to be believed, but they are a bit more empathy-inducing than you might expect from Matt Berry?  I'll stop now, just take from this that it's really funny.  This clip shows protagonist Steven Toast and his archenemy, Ray Purchase, performing the dubbed voiceovers for some pornography.  The solo kissing makes me laugh out loud every time I watch this.  Ray Purchase is almost too funny.

Another show we've been watching, talking of Vic and Bob and Matt Berry, is House Of Fools.  I'm still in two minds about the series because some of it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable and like Vic and Bob have maybe lost it a bit, but every episode (especially episode two with the noisy floor in the pie shop) has made me laugh out loud, which, as Graham pointed out, is more than can be said for a lot of so-called comedy shows.  I think what I don't like is the slightly pantomime atmosphere because of the live audience, but I'm still looking forward to every episode, finding it hilarious in parts and enjoying all the surreal and animated sections.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what Babylon is going to be like in the coming weeks.  I think it could be quite entertaining and has good credentials - Danny Boyle plus the makers of Peep Show/Fresh Meat, another two comedies I've really enjoyed.

Have you been watching anything good lately?  Got any top recommendations?  I can't handle anything too emotional (nothing about pregnancy, babies, health or death, please!) but am pretty open-minded otherwise.  It doesn't have to be comedy either, though if you can recommend something else to make me laugh, that's all the better.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

how many pesos?

Have you seen what the Mexican ski team are going to be wearing at the Winter Olympics?  Amazing!  I know which team I'll be rooting for on the slopes now!  I think all countries should be forced to follow suit (pun not intended) and ski in national dress.

I found out about this via Claire's twitter.  I'm a twitter lurker.

Friday, January 24, 2014

last weekend, this weekend

I was stuck in the office for all the daylight hours last weekend and wasn't lucky enough to get a window seat.  Yuck.  Fortunately, one of my colleagues spotted this double rainbow (sprouting from the Science Centre tower this time) and alerted us all for a very pleasant screen break...which was about as good as the two shifts got really.  Must be the season for double rainbows i.e. perpetually rainy!

This weekend is set to be very different from last and much more fun.  Graham and I are going on a mini-break to Newcastle, staying overnight WITHOUT DULCIE, who is staying at home with her grandparents.  This is very exciting for all concerned.  I'm hoping to see Spuggy (ooh, Byker...Grove!) and am looking forward to having my side of the bed all to myself for a night and eating a massive hotel breakfast in the morning.  It's going to be good!

So far our plans extend to an antique market and fish and chips in Tynemouth, a cinema trip, a visit to the BALTIC and some general exploring of a new-to-us city.  With no buggy/toddling toddler, we'll be able to set our own schedule, go up and down stairs with ease and squeeze through any doorway that takes our fancy.  Bliss.  But you know I'll miss the little ankle-biter really :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


We're still fighting a losing battle to get Dulcie out of our bed, but sharing with her is not all bad, you know.  I am seriously sleep-deprived, but I do get to wake up to this face every day and her bed-head can be most entertaining :)

Our latest plan is to replace Dulcie's (mostly unused) cot bed with a big-girl single bed of her own in the hope I can lie in it with her to get her off to sleep then make a sneaky escape to my own bed and just hope she stays sleeping for as long as possible.  That's the short-term aim, I should add.  I still dream of a time when we can tuck her in, switch off the light and walk out of the room while she's still awake.  Oh yeah, and in this dream she'll have her own bedroom with a carpet and a working radiator and no damp patches.  (Work on the flat progresses s-l-o-w-l-y...)

Dulcie and I have been chatting about the potential bed and I've been bigging up the idea of how grown-up she'll be and how she can have real covers and get tucked in and be such a big girl.  These suggestions were being met with a stony-faced "NO" for a while but she's starting to come round, I think, and now claims she likes the idea.  I had wanted to make her a quilt cover from vintage florals etc, but I'm thinking a certain cartoon pig might sweeten the deal yet further for her.  It's not the style I'd hoped for, but I'll do whatever it takes to reclaim the night!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

budding photographer

 Dulcie has suddenly mastered the art of using the digital camera.
 It's quite interesting to see the photos she takes.
Not that she puts much thought into their composition or anything, but it's still a snapshot of life from her short-stuff perspective.

I still remember being shorter than a washing machine :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

been sewing

 Yesterday was my once-every-four-weeks day off with no Dulcie to look after.  This dress had long been on my mind, so I decided to treat myself to a morning of making and count it as a job from the long-term to-do list.  I bought the fabric in May and cut the pieces out in September, so it seemed like the right time to start sewing!  Ha!  Once I got going, it really didn't take that long and, like every sewing project so far, it turned out imperfect but passable and was probably saved by the loveliness of the fabric I used.  With or without imperfections, it's still really satisfying to sew an item of clothing, especially since it's an activity I was intimidated by for so long.  Now I just need to progress to clothes for myself, but I get the feeling imperfections will be more of a problem then, so I'm kind of wary.  I'd still love to wear a dress I made myself though.  Certainly worth a try!  I even have a couple of patterns (one modern, one vintage) to try.  All I need now is time and a touch of bravery.

Anyway, back to the dress I HAVE made.  Here's one of the buttons, found in a charity shop before I ever planned to make this.  I'm glad to have been able to use these buttons on something.  Much better to see them here than not see them in the button jar.

This dress was made using the same pattern as the bee romper suit and, like that, it's kind of on the wide and short side (I lengthened it by a couple of inches this time) but I think that should work well.  I'm hoping it will be one of those dresses that metamorphosises into a top as Dulcie grows.  Hopefully she'll be wearing it through a fair few seasons.  It is actually a little on the large side at the moment overall, but that's all right.

I'll try to get a photo of Dulcie modelling this soon.  She's been wearing it today and looking good!


The fruit is on the table.  Peppa Pig is in the fruit bowl.

Monday, January 20, 2014

been reading

I'm not planning to share every book I read in 2014, but, since I've got off to such a good start, I thought I would share what I've been reading so far.  I picked both these books up for buttons in the same charity shopping afternoon.  Lucky finds, the pair of them!

I was drawn to God's Own Country by the cover and then by the author's name.  Ross Raisin?!  Seriously, who could resist?  While searching for the image for this blog post, I came across photos of Ross Raisin.  Squee!  He's a curly-headed, anorak-wearing sweetheart.  I want to send him a survival package in the post and squeeze his cheeks.  Ross Raisin... Anyway, I digress and do his book a disservice.

God's Own Country is such a sweetly nasty little gem of a book.  It put me in mind of The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, Catcher In The Rye and The Wasp Factory, all rolled up into one and regurgitated in a Yorkshire dialect.  I mean regurgitated more in its biological sense than its literary sense, I should add.  I don't really want to say too much about this book because part of the great pleasure in reading it was coming to realise and reassess your feelings about the narrator/protagonist, so I don't want to share what I thought of him, but if you're not averse to a little bit of nastiness here and there, you should definitely give this one a go.  

I mentioned being drawn to God's Own Country by the cover and the author's name.  I'm not sure what led me to pluck The Well And The Mine from the crammed shelves of Marie Curie, but the cover, the use of a dramatic snippet and the name of the author all kind of put me off.  

In general, when choosing books in charity shops (which is where the majority of my reading comes from) I will tend to be swayed by reviews.  Glowing reviews from certain newspapers (e.g. The Guardian) will almost always persuade me to buy a book - see Ross Raisin, nominated for The Guardian First Book Award 2008 as a case in point.  Praised heaped high by glossy Magazines has the adverse effect.  

The Well And The Mine had just two reviews on the cover, one of them being from... Marie Claire.  Alarm bells were ringing and I honestly have no idea why I still went ahead and bought this book, or why I fast-tracked it to the top of my reading pile, but I am so glad I did.  This was one of those books that just sucked me in and had me reading snippets in spare 30 seconds, holding the book in my hand while I waited for the kettle to boil etc.  It had that lovely combination of being easy to read while giving you plenty to think about and it left me with a warm feeling of how wonderful people and the human mind can be, but not in any particularly dramatic way.  It's just an all-in-all good read really.  I'm going to pass it onto my mum next time she comes to visit.

Now I have to decide what to read next.  I'd really like to keep this (small) run of enjoyable books going and keep my momentum up, so I think I might look through my stash and pick something of about 250 pages.  That's the perfect length for a book, I think.  Mind you, all the books that are springing to mind as contenders are a lot longer. Ah, well, we'll see, but I think I'll let The Well And The Mine settle in my head for at least the rest of today.

P.S. I don't make any money from those Amazon links, I just put them in to make it easy for you to grab your own copies of these if you fancied reading them.  Click or don't click, buy or don't buy, it will make no odds to me :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

knobbly-bobbly sticks of candy-coloured wonder

I came across these ten-second love notes by Origami Spirit via How About Orange yesterday.  They are so great!  They are really cute and colourful and I tried one while sitting at my desk (it's good for concentration to take regular mini breaks - a-hem!) and can confirm they really do take ten seconds to make.  Mine turned out looking just like the examples (except made from the torn-out page of a lined notebook) and I am NO GOOD AT ORIGAMI.  The idea is that you write notes inside these, which are only revealed once the stick is unfurled and then they can't be refolded.  I'm sure there is a genius idea of how to use these, though I haven't quite identified it yet.  Plenty of romantic options, obviously, but I like the idea of having them as reward sticks.  You could keep them in a jar and then when your child (or pupil - when will I stop thinking like a teacher?!) does something great, they can choose a stick at random and unroll it to discover what their reward is.  I hope I remember this by the time Dulcie is old enough to appreciate such things!  I need to think of a more immediate use though as I really want to make a batch of these this week.  Hmmm...

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Just to prove (to myself more than anyone else) that Dulcie really does do things other than watching Peppa Pig, here's some concrete evidence that books still play an important part in her day-to-day life.  These days Dulcie likes to have a book read to her as normal, but then she always asks to read it herself, flicking through the pages with a look of stern concentration on her face.  Sometimes I wonder if she really can read.  She can recognise books from their spine even when they are entirely nondescript and could be anything if it wasn't for the title printed on them.  She couldn't be reading, though... or could she?!  I was always fascinated by the how-we-learn-to-read aspects of teacher training (nobody actually knows!) so it's fun to have a little guinea pig on hand to speculate about.

And here she is re-reading Tabby McTat (Julia Donaldson AGAIN) on her way to bed and performing the song sung by the busker and his cat.  (I don't know why all my videos on YouTube are uploading in really poor quality/low resolution.  I will have to investigate, but you get the idea.)  You can see her looking at the back page of the book in this clip, the page where there are pictures of all the other Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler titles available.  This is always her favourite part of any book.  I seem to remember being the same when I was wee.  I wonder what the appeal is.  I'm sure it's pretty universal.

When Dulcie sees me reading a novel, she takes the book from my hands, points at the words and starts saying, "Humpty Dumpty..."  I feel quite impressed that she associates letters and words on a page with spoken language, but then I would, wouldn't I? :)

I'm doing quite well with my own aim to start reading a bit more again, but I'll tell you more about that some other time.

Friday, January 17, 2014

make do and mother

I took this photo in October, I think, but I just found it in my draft posts folder and decided I wanted to blog about it nonetheless, as a reminder to my future (and present) self of my imperfectly perfect mothering style.  On this day, I was a couple of miles from home, pushing Dulcie around a few charity shops after toddler group.  Heading home, I was bursting for the toilet and a strange smell was emanating from the pushchair so, since we were passing and there are no public toilets anywhere in Glasgow, I decided we should stop off at the soft play place.  I paid for an hour's play and headed straight for the toilet and nappy changing facilities.  A sorry sight awaited us - the kind of nappy I hadn't seen since Dulcie was a 100% milk-heid.  Vest, trousers, socks, none of it could be salvaged.  Cripes.  And we are way past the stage of carrying spare clothes with us everywhere.  Frankly, we were lucky I had a nappy and some wipes for once!  After a moment or two of standing stock still and racking my brains for what my approach might be, I...carried on regardless.  Dulcie spent an hour haring around in and out of ball pools in just a nappy and a [Brigitte Bardot-esque stripy vintage] top while I sat and had a cup of tea.  And pretended not to be with her - ha ha!  When the hour was up, I fashioned a pair of trousers for Dulcie using the sleeves of my cardigan and set off for home.  Style-conscious Dulcie was less than impressed with her makeshift outfit, as you can see, but nothing bad happened.  In fact, a stranger even complimented me on how cosy my child looked!  Win in the end!  (That's one for the Teen Wolf fans amongst you.)

I'd say this story typifies my approach to everything in life.  I never have the right tools to hand whatever the situation and sometimes I feel bad about that, but I usually manage to muddle through and make things turn out OK, if not always (ever?) in an entirely chic/presentable manner.  And as I get older, I get less embarrassed when this side of me has to be trawled out in public, even if I am surrounded by the type of people who carry everything but the kitchen sink in a custom-made container stored in their 4x4, which is always conveniently parked right outside.*  I'm coming to accept I'll never be organised and I'll always have to make do with the pipe cleaners, sandwich bags and old underground tickets (for example!) that I might have to hand.  I'm OK with that, though.  The Girl Guide in me will always see me right! :)

* I hope that doesn't sound bitter/judgemental, I don't mean it to.  After all, I'm hoping to join the car-owning population myself soon, it's just that I know MY car will be full of useless items like mouldy oranges, old plastic bags and charity shop finds that haven't even made it as far as the house.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


 I had an appointment in a very unattractive town this morning, but upon getting off the train, I was immediately greeted by a rainbow shooting out from behind the ugly architecture.  I do love a good rainbow.  The only thing nicer than a rainbow to see in the sky is...
...two rainbows!  I'm not sure if you can see it (maybe if you look really closely and make the picture a bit bigger) but each of these rainbows appeared to be sprouting from an electricity pylon, which tickled my fancy somewhat.  Zoom!  Electric rainbows!

Top tip of the day: Sometimes it's good to pick the low-hanging fruit.  Turns out this is true - I just tidied the kitchen worktops and feel much better already.  I'm working my way through a little afternoon to-do list.  Five jobs ticked (one of them being to eat lunch - that was REALLY low-hanging fruit) and four jobs to go.  Next up, replenishing my homemade granola supply.

Monday, January 13, 2014

take our sorrows swimming

Swimmer gocco screen print in olive by the wonderful Kate Pugsley on Etsy.

Graham and I often take Dulcie swimming on Sundays if I'm not working.  The pool we go to has a shallow baby pool, where we spend most of our time, as well as a pool for swimming lengths, albeit a pool with a shallow and an even-shallower end.  Yesterday I left Dulcie splashing about in the baby pool with Graham and set about swimming a few lengths.  After 1.5 lengths I felt like I couldn't go on, with no juice left in my limbs, but I persevered, took my time and ended up managing ten lengths.  I felt like I had swum the Channel... only without the sense of achievement, i.e. not good!  Graham was concerned I was about to keel over/die.  I must say, I wasn't entirely unconcerned myself!  It was a far cry from my pre-heart-failure days when I would generally swim 30-plus lengths and once even swam 112 (I think) which was what I had worked out was a mile, but still, ten difficult lengths was better than nothing.

I have a really difficult relationship with physical exercise.  My heart makes exercise really hard and unpleasant, but also makes it even more important, I suppose.  I'd love to have a regular activity that I could go and do on my own/focus on, but exercise can completely wipe me out and leave me unfit to do the things I NEED to do, like push Dulcie home from nursery in her buggy or even just wrestle her onto the floor to change her nappy or lift her into her chair for dinner.  On bad days, chopping vegetables can be too much, so I'm wary of tiring myself out too much when going home for a lie-down just isn't an option.  Dulcie can't exactly make her way home on her own.  Evening exercise could be a good option, I was thinking, as hopefully I'd be recovered by the following morning and could spend the rest of the evening sitting in front of the telly if needs be, but then transport and safety becomes an issue, for this pool at least.

Once I get a car (that is the plan, hopefully) the green light will be on for evening outings to the gym/pool, but the car issue would be a whole other blog post of its own...  Oh dear.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

play dough

Dulcie got some play dough and play dough accoutrements for Christmas.  As well as a big tub of rollers and stampers and cutters and squeezers from her grandparents, she got these Play Dough funny faces (from Polar Bear, Santa's slightly curmudgeonly companion who always gave us a game or similar to share when we were wee - what, he didn't visit you?!) all of which has been a big hit.
These faces were a collaborative effort.  Dulcie is responsible for the fact the the blue one looks like he is flipping a very rude hand gesture, it's actually two eyes on a stalk that she stuck in upside down.
This guy was my favourite, with his walrus-esque moustache made with the "extruder".  I can't believe that's what those squidger things are called.  I love them!  It's so satisfying to push the plunger and see wiggly worms or star shapes coming out the other end.  I don't remember having play dough when I was a child.  We had plasticine, which smells amazing, but is not quite so pliable and certainly wouldn't have gone through an extruder.  No wonder I'm so excited this time around!  It's really good fun/satisfying/therapeutic to make (and destroy) things with no goal or purpose in mind.  I can't imagine I'd be spending my afternoons making play dough creations if I didn't have Dulcie, but I'd certainly recommend it to all grown-ups, with or without children.

I do try to let Dulcie have creative freedom, but I am enjoying the colours in their lovely, clean separateness at the moment.  We do combine colours sometimes, but I try to encourage her to press them together lightly so they can be taken apart again later and staored safely in their individual containers.  I know it won't last for ever, but I'm enjoying it while it does!

This funny face set is really recommended for slightly older children because it has lots of tiny, plastic pieces, but if your younger toddler is OK about not swallowing things they shouldn't, then it's actually a really good set for them, I think.  You don't need great moulding skills to get instant results - just shove some eyes and hands and noses in a big blob of dough and you've got a creation.  I really want to get this garden set, but I don't think Dulcie needs it just yet.  (Just how much play dough does any one girl need?)  Maybe I'll request it for my own birthday later in the year, or just treat myself to it.  Less than the cost of a bottle of wine and so much more fun... especially since I have vaguely given up the booze! :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

told you it was catchy

Here's a dark and shaky video of Dulcie's rendition of the Rastamouse theme tune, filmed mid getting dressed yesterday morning.  As usual, this is a recreation of something she was doing when I didn't have the camera to hand, so is a little less enthusiastic (she doesn't do requests as a general rule...) but I think you get the gist.  It wasn't until I filmed her doing this that I realised she thought the Easy Crew were called the Crazy Poo.  Ha!

Friday, January 10, 2014

accidental collection #2

Back in July I set up the "regular feature" on my blog of accidental collections.  Well, six months later, here is installment number two!  This would be my collection of notebooks.  I do love notebooks.  I love stationery in general, in fact, but notebooks are a bit special.  Not only are they lovely objects in their own right, but they are also full of potential.  What could I fill them with?  Will this be the notebook that enables me to write my Booker Prize winning novel?  Will this be the notebook where I develop a design for an amazing Gocco print?  Will I devise a fabulous new life via scribbling on these pages?
And this loveliness and inherent potential is what causes me a problem.  You see, none of these notebooks have been used.  It's just so hard to defile a notebook's virgin pages, I think.  What do you put in there?  It could be anything!  Pressure!  I have actually had a few notebooks over the years (I think there is one among this lot, actually) that have something written on the first page and then nothing else in them.  This is even worse than an empty notebook - a sad sight to behold.

There are 25 notebooks here.  I had a bit of a notebook clear-out a few months ago.  Some of these notebooks I bought for myself, some were acquired randomly, some were won in a giveaway and many were given to me as presents.  If you were ever thinking of getting me a notebook as a present, please don't let this confessional post put you off as I do genuinely love to receive them.

I should really start filling these bad boys up.  What shall I write in them?  Or draw?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

care to join me for an ear worm?

Children's television is full of such catchy music.  Lately, I've been waking up with various theme tunes and recurring incidental music going through my mind.  This week it tends to be Rastamouse.  I've only ever seen a few episodes of this (at toddler cinema with Dulcie) but that song just worked its way into my brain immediately.  Sometimes Dulcie asks to watch Rastamouse.  She does a funky reggae dance to the theme tune and then asks to watch Peppa Pig instead.  I can't help but like Rastamouse.  The stories are fun and the look has a nice '80s throwback to it.  Every time I see it, I just imagine how much fun it would be making all the little mice and their clothes.

In The Night Garden (which Dulcie has lost interest in lately after a brief obsession) is full of great music. Many of the character songs gets stuck in my head, but my favourite piece of music is the Tombliboos' toothbrushing song (4.5 mins in on this clip).  It's a good song to have stuck in your brain when you're trying to do things quickly and efficiently.  This morning, running late for work, I found myself singing this with the self-penned and wholly inappropriate lyrics of "Oh, oh, oh-oh b****cks, oh-oh, oh, oh-oh, b****cks..."  It did make me walk faster, I think.

Charlie and Lola and Peppa Pig kind of merge into one jaunty mess in my mind.  Most uplifting, though, both of them.  And Peppa Pig also has lots of incidental music to plague you, like the Bing Bong Song, which Dulcie sings while strumming the guitar.  Dulcie's just discovered Charlie and Lola in book form and is making the most of my Lauren Child collection, which pre-dates her existence, but she hasn't really got into the TV show.  There's no time for such nonsense once she's had her daily Peppa fix! I think this might be why Iggle Piggle and co have taken a back seat too.

Thinking about children's TV theme tunes of modern times also got me thinking about theme tunes I remember from my own childhood, some of which still pop into my head unbidden twenty-odd years after the fact.  I really had to limit myself here as I was getting sucked into a wormhole of nostalgia and could have been there all day (I was even watching Junior Kickstart!) but here are a few that those of you of a certain age (30ish) might enjoy reminiscing about.

Pigeon Street!  Oh, I loved this show.  I can still hear the sound effect they used for clacking knitting needles in my mind.  I liked the astronomers and their dogs, plus Clara the long-distance lorry driver, naturally.  Good role models in this show!

The Flumps!  So cute and kind of like Rastamouse in their furry little critter-ness.  My "research" today made me realise that brass instruments were widely used in many of my childhood favourites.  Oh, and I just remembered Johnny Briggs.  I'm not sure how to translate that trombone slide at the start into type...

Bertha is not, perhaps, a true classic of its time, but its theme tune has definitely plagued me over the decades.  Does anyone else remember it?

I still know (and sometimes perform) all the words to the end song from Henry's Cat.   The lyrics are great, actually, very wordy.

And I had to include The Family Ness, not least because my sister inadvertently named half her children after the show's two human protagonists.

Portland Bill!  I think I sing this to myself on an almost weekly basis.  I loved this show.  My mum and dad still have my old plastic Portland Bill lighthouse.

Right, I have to stop, much as I'm itching to share Jamie and the Magic Torch now.  And Jimbo.  Jimbo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

How do these composers do it and why aren't adult theme tunes nearly so catchy?  What childhood theme tunes have stuck with you over the years?  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

not to worry...

Excuse the lack of image here.  I'm blogging on my lunch break at work and am having problems finding an appropriate picture to use.  Apparently flickr no longer allows you to blog directly from it.  Bit rubbish really.
So I've had it pointed out that my blog post from yesterday sounded a bit dramatic.  I'm not sure whether it did, but that wasn't my intention.  It was meant to be another of my trademark nothing-posts about how you might mother when you're not really A MOTHER, by which I mean one of those baby bloggers with a beautifully styled home who get given eco-friendly baby products to review in between delivering carefully planned activities designed to aid their child's brain development, all the while holding down some fabulous career in a creative field.  You know, I'm not sure those MOTHERS actually exist in the real world, but I know I enjoy reading posts from mothers (note the small case here) without picture-perfect lives now and again, so sometimes I like to share the odd snippet from my real life.  I should add, for fairness and so I don't sound completely bitter, that sometimes I like reading MOTHERS' blogs too, I just have to give them up from time to time.
My path into parenthood hasn't exactly been the traditional one.  No, I'm not talking about immaculate conception, I just mean things (the pregnancy, the birth, the life after pregnancy) didn't go the way I presumed they would.  I think I probably have an unusual (possibly interesting or useful...sometimes) perspective on things.  The majority of people have had a comparatively smooth ride into motherhood and the majority of bloggers paint a more-perfect-than-reality picture of their lives.  These facts combined mean most baby/family blogs are not that relevant to someone like me whose experience of motherhood is far from all that.  Bringing up a child while coming to terms with having a life-threatening/life-limiting illness throws up its own challenges for sure and most of the time I don't share the scary stuff on here.  Generally speaking, my blog posts become more frequent and often more positive as my life gets scarier/more depressing as I tend to use blogging as a therapy of sorts, a chance to focus mainly, though not exclusively, on the stuff that makes life good, but that doesn't mean I'll never want to give people a glimpse into the bad side.
So, where was I?  Well, my situation is unusual but by no means unique and I'm sure there are many people who, like me, would appreciate reading about a less-than-perfect mother doing her best in a shitty situation.  (Oh, lordy, I just busted out a swear word for only the second time in this blog's history and last time it turned into a mega-rant!)  One of the hardest things about motherhood going wrong, in any significant way, is that you end up feeling pretty isolated.  I'm no longer part of the no-children crowd, but equally I don't feel part of the group of people who do have children.  My experience, my life and my future bears little or no resemblance to theirs and I think other people like me (people with any real negative element to their parenting experience) tend to slip under the radar.  My goodness, I would LOVE to have a blog to read where the author was right royally pissed off at the hand they'd been dealt, someone I could relate my story to in some small way, but by and large, blogs like that just don't seem to exist.  I know nobody wants to hear about other people's health  problems and gripes and groans day in and day out (I don't either) but life would be better for those of us in Shitsville if some people aired some of their dirty laundry some of the time.  That's what I think anyway.  So, while many of my thoughts and fears stay well away from this blog much of the time, I think it's a good thing for me to share a glimpse of the reality now and again.
I suppose my situation is inherently dramatic really.  I used the expression "life-threatening" back there without a second thought because I'm quite used to thinking about my life in these terms (that's not to say I like it) but I can see how that would sound from an outside perspective.  I guess I just want to make it clear that if I suddenly share some of the more unsavoury parts of my life/brain it doesn't mean that I'm having a flaky and falling apart, it probably just means that I'm hoping someone is reading my blog and relating to it in some way, maybe even to the point that they'd raise their heads above the parapet and say hello and remind me that I'm not the only mother making the best out of a bad situation.  And, yes, I do know how lucky I am to have Dulcie!
Just to dampen down the drama even more (I think today's post is running the risk of being even more dramatic than yesterday's) I felt much better yesterday afternoon once I'd had a nap and a spicy mocha! :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

0800 P-I-G-S-I-T-T-E-R-S

"You need a baby-sitter?!  I'm on my way!"

Today I feel too ill to do anything.  Putting a plate in the dishwasher just made me nearly pass out.  Can you imagine what would happen if I washed them by hand?!  Ha!  This morning Dulcie spent an hour watching episodes of Peppa Pig back-to-back on YouTube while I lay comatose beside her.  I think she would quite happily have watched more but (get ready to stone me as a terrible mother) she told me her neck was getting sore (sob) so I wrestled her away from it.  Now (having had lunch - I'm not starving her, at least) she's watching Raa Raa The Noisy Lion on the TV rather than the computer, just to give her day a bit of variety...  And she's still in her pyjamas at 1pm.  But let me reassure you, Dulcie (if no-one else) is more than happy about all of the above!

I know that television as a baby-sitter is universally frowned upon, but my goodness, it's a piggin' lifesaver at times.  I don't know what I would do on a day like today if Dulcie didn't long to have square eyes.  I try to console myself with how much she learns from programmes like Peppa Pig.  She'll watch an episode once and then days later she'll suddenly start talking about everything that happened in it, so it must be good for her language development and her general understanding of the world, I think, and I do generally watch with her and chat about what we're watching etc.  I'll really start to worry when she wonders why all her friends at nursery are the same species as her rather than a curious mixture of domesticated and wild animals who are all the same size as one another...

I'm so fed up of being ill and fed up in so many ways.  I think November to January are always going to be tough months now, thinking about the anniversary of my diagnosis and that end-of-year feeling with nothing too positive to look forward to in the year ahead.  It's probably not helpful to think how many tablets I took in 2013 (that would be around 2,000, fact lovers) or the horrible procedure I went through or the fact that none of it has helped, but I can't help looking at things that way sometimes and, in all honesty, that is less depressing than looking at the likely road ahead at the moment.  The point I'm at now is bad enough.  Dulcie has needed new shoes for weeks and I can't even fathom the energy to get her into town to get her feet measured.  Maybe just as well she's not getting dressed today.  At least her toes can wriggle freely!

Oh, dear.  Now she's watching Mr Tumble and I've just spotted a raisin nestling in her matted hair.  I should go and remove that before trying to persuade her to join me for a nap under the covers.

Monday, January 6, 2014

hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world...

 Sorry, but she is, the most beautiful girl in the world, I mean.  Graham took this picture and sent it to me while I was at work yesterday and I have kept it close at hand ever since, gazing at it all gooey eyed in moments of boredom/despondency.  My feelings for Dulcie are like the world's longest-lasting teenage crush at times and that has got to be good, no?  Honestly, sometimes I just want to lick her face all over.  I do resist, but I allow myself the indulgence of breathing in as she breathes out, snuffling the back of her neck, as well as cuddling her whenever the opportunity presents itself, of course.  Mmmm!

Dulcie likes to put this hat on by herself (one of her many little forays into the world of independence) so she usually ends up with one ear sticking out, or both eyes covered, but I reckon it's a good look like this, sort of beret-esque.
And check out this artist's muse recline!  There's something of the Great Gatsby about her in these pictures, I think, though how she pulls that off in a snow suit, pink wellies and a chunky-crochet hat is beyond me.  She obviously gets her style genes from the paternal side of the family. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

read more books?

Read More Books linocut poster by Giulia Sagramola on Etsy.

I keep a list of what I've been reading over on the right-hand side of my blog there.  Remembering what I was reading this time last year, I just counted up how many books I read in 2013 and was surprised and disappointed to see that the grand total reached a measly ten.  Ten books in twelve months?!  Disgraceful.  I could give you my excuses (a couple of long uns that each took me months to get through as well as the fact that most weeks I'll only get the chance to read on my short commute to/from work) but, really, ten books?!  At one time books were really important in my life - I have a degree in literature and a masters in publishing to prove it!  I'd like to say books are still important to me (I think they are...?) but ten books in a year?!  

It's that time of year where everyone thinks they'll do better, do bigger, do more, and I'd love to say I was going to challenge myself to read more in 2014, but I genuinely don't think I'll have the time and, while I certainly could MAKE the time, that would be at the expense of other things that I'm also aiming to do more of.  But I've got to get through more than ten, surely.  Maybe twenty books is a reasonable aim?  Maybe not?

In general, I'm feeling like I don't have enough time to do enough of any of the things I want to do, but I'm not sure whether I should abandon some pursuits altogether (do more of less) or spread myself thin across all the things I want to do (do less of more).  And what activities should take priority?  Presumably raising that peskily time-consuming child, but is there any point in encouraging her to love books (I spend quite a lot of time and energy on this, among other things) when life will only get in the way and stop her reading, or is it just as important for me to show her books are important by reading for myself as it is to show her books are fun by reading to her?  

What is the point of reading anyway?  I suppose what I'm really questioning is...what is the point of anything we do, what is the point of life?

(Gosh, it's hard to resist sharing my morbid mindset at the moment.  No, this is me resisting, honestly.)

So, got any great book recommendations for me?  Ha!

Friday, January 3, 2014

last crochet reveal... for now!

I think this is, finally, the last of my pre-Christmas crochet that I have to share.  This robot is the same as the previous robot I made, but in different (unphotographable!) colours.
This one was made for my youngest niece Elsie.  None of my other nieces and nephews got handmade presents from me this year, but they have all had lots of handmade presents over the years and I didn't want wee Elsie to miss out on that just because she was born a few years later (and at the same time as Dulcie).
Dulcie was quite keen to hold onto this one too.  Perhaps I'll crochet a wee robot for her at some point?

The pattern for the robot came from this book.  I wonder what I'll crochet in 2014...  I think I'll make a start on next year's Christmas crochet sooner rather than later!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

new year, new shoes

Dulcie needs new shoes AGAIN.  I'd love to push the boat out a bit and get her these gorgeous shoes from Startrite, maybe with some of her Christmas money as she definitely does not need any more toys or chocolate at the moment!  These shoes are so cute and a lovely change from all the pink/white, patent/sparkly, butterfly/flower-adorned horrors you find in bricks-and-mortar shoe shops.  But they appear to be sold out in all but one (too-small) size.  The search continues.  I just hope I don't have to resort to white shoes with pink spangly butterflies before Dulcie's toes get too squished...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


 Happy new year!  We started our day with the traditional new year trudge and stopped for a photo opportunity by this graffiti, which has been doing the rounds for a fair few months.
Dulcie's very into copying these days, so she quickly adopted this squatting pose.  No shame.

Dulcie walked for MILES today and not just straight miles either - we also stopped off at a play park and an outdoor gym.  We finally wrestled her into her pram when her knees started to buckle under her weight.  We always end up going for a long wander on new year's day, but this was a particularly nice one, through the parks and along by the river.  There were loads of people doing the same thing.  Our other new year tradition is a Chinese takeaway, something we always devour with great gusto, knowing that the new regime begins on January 2nd!  I've contemplated lots of resolutions for this year, but have decided not to bother.  It was a bit depressing to look back on last January and realise how much my resolve dissolved over the course of the year.  I always have the same aims in the back of my mind (getting my house and my health in the best order they can be while making time for craft and other fun activities) no matter the time of year, so I think I'll just continue to strive towards that without officially resolving anything.  What are your plans for the year ahead?