Sunday, April 27, 2014

doing something magical

Dulcie has lots of little games she's invented herself.  Her internal world is an imaginative and exciting place that the rest of us have limited access to.  I love that!  Most of her favourite activities involve doing things with multiple small objects, hair clips (which never make it into her hair) being the ultimate.
Dulcie spends lots of time carefully putting all her hair clips (and a few other teeny items) into my slippers...
...then she tips them all out and starts again.

When I ask her what she's doing, she always replies, "I'm doing something magical."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

alternative bedding

A second set of bedding is always handy, especially for those moments where your cat decides to puke on your daughter's bed approximately two minutes prior to her bedtime.  Grrr.  That's why I was so glad my granny had already sent these amazing rainbow covers that she found in her local charity shop on Islay.  I absolutely love the rainbow covers, but have to admit I was a bit worried about what Dulcie's reaction would be when she came out of her bath and discovered her Peppa covers had been replaced by these.  Thankfully, she was delighted to have a rainbow bed.  I think she loves these covers just as much as the Peppa ones.  High praise indeed!
Dulcie loves having all her friends (her word, not mine!) at the bottom of her bed, though we have discovered that the best way to stop her falling out of bed is not to allow too many of them in bed beside her.  I think she just wasn't leaving enough room in there for herself, bless her.

Friday, April 25, 2014

free cake!

Dulcie and I have a new nearly-weekly routine of going to the cafe in the Botanic Gardens to take advantage of their free cake.  Yes, free cake!  You get a free slice of whatever sponge is available (we've had carrot cake, coconut sponge and iced ginger so far - all delicious!) with every tea or coffee purchased between 10.00am and 11.30am on weekdays.
Dulcie loves being a lady-what-lunches type and the wee square of cake is just the right size of treat to share between us when we're supposed to be eating less of the fat-kid stuff.  Dulcie also had a hot chocolate on this occasion.  Sometimes she has warm milk with a wee chocolatey sprinkle instead.
£3 or so for a face this happy.  Bargain!
And the great thing is, as soon as we've finished stuffing our faces, the park is right there and ready for us.  This picture was taken inside a bush that Dulcie and I can both fit inside.  We hide in there for ages, eating the imaginary apples that Dulcie shakes onto our heads.  One day, when Dulcie was wandering off outside, my attempt to summon her back was intercepted by a man who happened to be walking by.  Ah, springtime!  Daffodils, sunshine and accidentally inviting total strangers to come in your bush...
After we're done with hanging out in the bush, we'll normally do some squirrel spotting.  Dulcie, like all toddlers, it seems, calls squirrels "squiggles" and it has caught on with all of us.
Is it just me or was this year especially good for daffodils?  They seemed to be absolutely everywhere.  I'm not sure whether there were more than normal or if I was just more aware of it because Dulcie was so interested in them.  # It's been a good year for the...daffodils... #
Taking time to stop and smell the flowers.
Getting her nose right in there.
Oh, she is ridiculously cute.
Dulcie is getting a bit better at setting out on her own these days, though she still doesn't like to get too far away.  Probably a good thing, I suppose.
Once the daffodils have been thoroughly explored, we spend hours hanging out in the children's garden, which is just Dulcie's favourite place in the world these days.  There are all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore.
This is what Dulcie calls the tree house.  I sit in a chair outside it while she prepares me numerous imaginary breakfasts.  Most relaxing!

The end of winter weather has made toddler entertaining so much easier.  Roll on a summer of lounging around in the great outdoors while Dulcie takes on the role of the entertainer rather than the...entertainee?

On a side note, the day these photos were taken was the same day I learned yet another valuable parenting lesson.  Never take a toddler with you into an echoey public-toilet cubicle if you are not prepared to have the general public listen to a very loud and detailed running commentary of everything you're doing in there.  Damn Dulcie's excellent communication skills!  Mind you, even without speech, the round of applause she gave me would have been embarrassing enough.  Ha!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

hard work (yes, I am)

I'm writing this post from work (on my break, not on the company time!) and I'm actually having quite a nice day here, subtitling the grand final of Mastermind.  I would now class myself as something of an expert (ha!) on the Italian Front in WWI, the poetry of Philip Larkin and the first 50 years of French cinema, or I would if I thought any of the facts I've painstakingly researched would stay in my mind for any length of time.  Nope, they've gone.  All I remember is that Philip Larkin's pseudonym for illicit liaisons was Mr Crane, while his pseudonym for poetic purposes was Brunette something-or-other.

I feel mixed emotions about work these days, or always have.  Toads by Philip Larkin (a poem I didn't know before today) sums up my general feelings quite nicely, I think, but I'm sure most of us have had these thoughts.

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
they seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both.

I've never really placed too high a value on work or money.  I could certainly be doing a more highly paid job or a more demanding job.  I actively chose the lifestyle I have - a reasonably interesting job that I never have to take home with me, limited stress and limited challenge for a reasonable wage packet.  I have had itchy feet lately, though.  You'd think becoming a mum would make an easy job that ticks over in the background even more desirable, but I think not having the time to pursue anything other than mothering outside of work has left me wishing for a job that ticked more boxes and gave me the sense of personal achievement/progress that I'm lacking elsewhere.  Recently, I found a job that sounded great, one of those ones where you read the job description and think, "That's me!"  I even got in touch with the company and set myself up as their dream candidate.  I had a really good feeling about it, but in the end I didn't apply.  It was a temporary position and I just didn't feel I could run the risk of leaving my permanent job for it, especially since my work are so accepting of my health issues etc, but I know I would never get a permanent contract elsewhere if I had absences like I had last year.  Also, I just wasn't sure I had the energy (or confidence) to set out on my own again and start from scratch.  Am I settled here?  Shudder!  Settled can be good, I know, but I can't help hearing the undertone of "stuck in a rut" in this case.
Gosh, I'm exhausted at the moment. Actually, exhausted doesn't even come close. The physical weight of a hug is too much to bear (I vont to be alone!) and sometimes I don't even have the energy to hold my light-as-a-feather mobile phone to my ear, for example. I'm wondering whether I can sustain the hours I'm doing, whether I can afford to reduce them, whether I can admit a small defeat without feeling like it's the beginning of the end. On the other hand, being engrossed in something at work is the only time (other than while asleep) that I don't tend to think scary/depressing thoughts, so maybe being here is the best place for me.  Or maybe a more challenging job would have an even greater distraction potential, perhaps its distraction would even bleed out of office hours.  But I don't think I'll ever have the energy again to take a risk and try a different approach.

Toads...  Huh!  I think I need a plan of action.

Monday, April 21, 2014

day in the life - 20th April 2014

 I was thinking of doing a picture-only Day In The Life post this time round, but I can't resist adding a running commentary for posterity's sake and also so this won't just be a huge post of Dulcie photos.  Here goes...

Dulcie gets us up at a not-too-early hour and helps me to feed the cats.  She likes to have this as one of her jobs, but the cats are so greedy that she often finds it hard to get the bowl past them and on the floor.  Help is not welcome, however!

 Cats fed, Dulcie sits up at the Easter-themed table and asks where her own breakfast is.

She has an Easter egg with a Peppa Pig breakfast set included so we open it up.  I like her style, attacking the enclosed chocolate egg with great gusto.

 She eats the whole thing and follows it with cereal and toast.  I have toast and peanut butter.  Lola manages to steal one slice from my plate despite me trying to hold her back.  I wrestle it back off her and throw it in the bin, sustaining a few cat scratches in the process.  Graham's sister, who's been staying this weekend, gets up and makes me a cup of coffee.  Lovely!

Breakfast consumed, we set about decorating some hard-boiled eggs.  I attempted to dye them the night before, but got distracted and left them in the vinegar solution for too long and they came out looking like eggy burn victims.  We do our best to jazz them up with crayons and stickers.

 I think Dulcie is a bit confused by the whole thing.

 The best-looking eggs are these ones that I made using little shrink-wrap jackets.  I found these in Sentry Box toys last week and suddenly remembered using them when I was wee, something I had forgotten all about for years.

 We all agreed this sticker looked uncannily like Dulcie!

 Auntie Dee Dee (Graham's sister) heads off to get the bus home and the rest of us get ready for a day in the sunshiney park.  Dulcie, who got a slightly red head the day before, still fits in last year's sun hat.  Hooray!

 We make a quick stop-off in the shops for picnic supplies then just make it across the road to the park ahead of a procession of thousands of motorbikes, riding to raise money for Yorkhill Hospital (where Dulcie stayed when she was teeny and had pneumonia) we discover later.  We set up our blanket under a tree and Dulcie strikes a pose for a photo or two.

Talking of striking a pose...  These are the first prescription sunglasses I've EVER had and I'm loving them.  No more having to choose between migraines and blindness.  Dulcie and I did not co-ordinate outfits on purpose.

 We snack on our picnic (le pain, no vin, le Boursin) and play with this bubble gun.  Bubbles always make Dulcie happy, although the wind is blowing them off faster than we can make them.

 I lounge on the blanket for a while and watch Dulcie and Graham playing football.  Dulcie spends most of her time lying on top of the ball.  Graham spends most of his time pretending to fall over.

 Dulcie stops for some grapes and to recharge her batteries.

 She wanders off again, so I start browsing the Observer magazine from the comfort of the blanket.  I really like Eva Wiseman, but in this article she is talking about being pregnant.  I torture myself by reading it all and realise I will probably never read Eva Wiseman again now, which is a shame because I like liked her writing.

Dulcie appears with a little daisy bouquet for my buttonhole.  I wander off with Dulcie to make daisy chains and examine leaf skeletons.

We roll the boiled eggs, starting on the grass before moving to harder ground for optimum cracking.  Dulcie starts using Humpty Dumpty as a verb, saying, "My egg got humpty-dumptied!"

 We head to the playpark, where the slide and the roundabout are the biggest hits of the day.

 Graham's phone rings, so Dulcie takes over the task of pushing the roundabout...

 ..before leading me off for a game of hide-and-seek.  She never gives me long enough to hide very well.

 It was our friend Daniel on the phone.  He moved to Shetland a few months ago, but is visiting Glasgow this week so he comes to meet us in the park.  We hang out in the children's garden, Dulcie's favourite place where she is most easily entertained.  I keep Dulcie going while the men indulge in man-chat. Dulcie (with a bit of assistance from yours truly) makes two new friends - Sophie (very bossy) and Charlotte (very chatty).  She also sees her nursery pal Wolfy who she sees EVERYWHERE she goes.

We stop off at the shop for a couple of dinner ingredients and head for home.

Once home, Graham gets busy in the kitchen while Dulcie and I watch Rainbow (she loves the theme tune suddenly) as a distraction aid while I cut her toenails.  It goes very smoothly and quickly, a total contrast to how it normally goes.

Dulcie insists we switch to Peppa Pig.  I am just dozing off when the buzzer goes.

It's my mum and dad.  We weren't expecting them until about 9pm.  Apparently they texted the change of plans earlier, but I haven't looked at my phone all day.  Dulcie is very pleased to see them, especially since my mum has found a Peppa Pig car in a car-boot sale.

 Graham, clever boy that he is, manages to make dinner (leek and boursin - leftover from lunch - risotto and salad) stretch a bit further.

Dinner entertainment mainly consists of Dulcie making everyone turn their glasses "side-up-down".  I think my awesome glasses still look good, even this way round.

After this, my mum and dad give Dulcie her bath while I try to get my lunch together for the following day and tidy up a bit.  I am finding it very hard to continue.  I've not been feeling great lately and would like to collapse, but then when will the stuff get done?

My dad does my usual job of reading Dulcie's bedtime stories.  My mum and I fold Dulcie's washing even though I still just want to collapse.

Stories read, Dulcie can't go on either.  She weeps and wails until I wrestle her into bed and switch off the light, then she almost instantly falls asleep.

I sit and chat to my mum and dad and Graham for a while, but finally admit defeat and head for bed at around 10pm.  Zzzz!  Sadly, my sleep is not destined to be uninterrupted and Dulcie is up and down fairly regularly, shouting about this that and the other and generally thrashing around.  Yawn...

I realise, looking back, that this day seems abolutely idyllic.  It didn't feel that way to me (I did enjoy many parts of it, but misery loomed heavily on my mind throughout) but at least nobody nearly died this time around!  Ha!


Here follows a list (I'll update it if more posts are added) of some other people who took part in this Day In The Life.  If you took part, plase leave a comment and I'll add a link to your post to.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

remember, remember

Image stolen from here.

Just dropping by to remind you all that tomorrow, as well as being Easter Sunday, is this month's designated Day In The Life.  Record the minutiae of your day on your blog in any way you fancy, leave a comment over here to let me know if you've taken part and I'll compile a wee list of links.  I'll post my own entry ASAP, but I'm making no promises about how S ASAP is, if you see what I mean!

Whether you're DITL-ing or not, have a great Easter!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Oooh!  I've been drawing!  This is an initial sketch for a Gocco print I've had in mind for months (years?!) and it's turned out not quite as terribly as I had feared.  Obviously the legs need some work (or medical attention!) but I think parts of the top half might make it into the final design with a bit of tweaking.  I'm not really great at drawing, so I usually end up using a computer to tinker with images once I've had a go with pencil or pen.  There will be more to the design than this little guy, but I don't want to spoil any surprises by sharing the whole plan yet.  I'm hoping I can bust out the Gocco and actually complete this over the next couple of months though, so not too long to wait.

I've actually got lots of Gocco ideas at the moment (at least five) and I'd really like to see them all through to fruition.  I haven't had my Gocco out of its box since my pre-Dulcie days.  Maybe I could aim for two designs by the end of the year?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice

Poor Dulcie has suddenly started falling out of bed, once on Monday night and twice last night.  We had already put down a pre-emptive crash mat of sorts (that I had just started thinking we could do without) when she moved to her big-girl bed, but it's still less than ideal.  So far she hasn't hurt herself, but she has been quite distraught.  Thankfully, she's gone straight back off to sleep after a quick cuddle and a tucking-in.  I remember falling out of bed when I was wee and how horrible and disorientating it felt, dozing away quite happily then, all of a sudden, "whoomph" and a horrible where-am-I-and-what's-happened feeling.  The first time Dulcie fell out of bed, Graham refused to believe I had been asleep when it happened because my reactions were so lightning fast.  I leapt over her bed and was by her side almost before she hit the floor.  And this with a painful shoulder and a head that wouldn't turn more than two degrees in any direction! Oh, the power of motherly adrenaline...
I'm hoping Dulcie will learn to sleep within her parameters soon.  I don't want to start fencing her in and once she moves into her own room (yet more progress has been made this week - she now has a working radiator!) she'll have two sides that she can fall out of.
Oh, well, at least it's a good excuse to listen to The Smiths, a band I love to hear just to remember how much I loved (love) them and to make me feel like a 16-year-old again.  In 1996, I listened to Hatful Of Hollow on repeat while sitting in an armchair in my bedroom reading 1984, and have always been instantly transported back to that slightly eerie Big Brother mindset, full of teenage vigour, hormones and the importance of everything whenever I hear a song from it.  I remember hearing once (on QI!) the speculation that teenagers, the weird creatures that we think they are, are actually humans as they are meant to be and that we just start becoming less than ideal from then on, but now that people live so long past that point, we presume it must be some weird blip.  The feeling I get from listening to music from my teenage years makes me believe that might be right.  As a teenager, it was like I was able to absorb and compute everything from all aspects of life and stuff mattered and was weirdly tangible.  I was also a dick who found everything overwhelming and confusing and lived by a dubious moral code, but that's only because I was a supreme and ultimate human being, honest!  Ha!
In a decade's time, I know I'll be wishing falling out of bed was my biggest worry re Dulcie, but I'll try not to start worrying about that now...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

sometimes you should judge a book by its cover

I found this book in a charity shop recently and couldn't resist the mad '70s cover.  Well, it turned out to be brilliant!  I'd never heard of William Trevor before (which I can't quite believe now I've read up on him - he's been on the Booker shortlist four times, including for this novel, and has been knighted for services to literature!) but I'd definitely like to read more by him now.  The day I got this book, all paperbacks were £1 each, or five for...£1!  It took some doing, but I found four other books to take home with it, some of them titles I'd thought about reading for a while and some of them things I'd never normally read, crime fiction and the like.  Hopefully I'll find some more pleasant surprises amongst them, not that you could call this book pleasant.

My goal to read more this year continues to go well.  That's eight books completed so far and April's not even over yet.  Someone at work recently told me they'd made the terrible mistake of counting how many books they'd read in one year and multiplying that by the number of years they might be expected to live.  They said the number was depressingly low and they were concerned they might not even get through all the books on their own shelves, let alone any of the other books out there.  God knows when I'll die really, but if I'm not feeling too optimistic (about my life expectancy or the quantity of my reading) then I could guesstimate my remaining books as being in the measly double figures.  Waaah!  Makes me a bit stressed that I chose the book I'm reading now purely on the basis that I wouldn't run the risk of waking Dulcie up to get to it, following on from choosing a book for its "mad '70s cover"...  Ha!  Maybe I should be making a bucket list of books?  Maybe we all should!  Or maybe we should just try not to think about it.  Yeah, I prefer that idea :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

day in the life - the easter special

Last time I chose the date for Day In The Life, I ended up nearly not being able to take part due to my untimely death.  (You might be able to work out that I lived to tell the tale, but my own Day In The Life post was not the happy one I had planned, but rather a sorry tale of panic attacks in an MRI scanner and crying for pretty much 24 hours solid...)  However, in a bid not to succumb to superstitious paranoia, when Claire asked me if I'd like to choose this month's date, I jumped at the chance...albeit in a hesitant manner.

Day In The Life, for those of you who don't know, is a day when anyone with a blog who would care to join in records the minutiae of their day on a specific date.  You can record it any way you like.  We've had lengthy wordy posts, photographic records, A-Zs, illustrated hourly updates, graphs...  The possibilities are endless.  You can record your day in any way you fancy.

The date for this month's Day In The Life is Sunday April 20th.  Yes, that's Easter Sunday!  Please spread the word and consider joining in yourself.  I love looking back on my own Day In The Life posts, they're a great wee record and they're fun (if a little challenging sometimes) to write too.  If you do take part, please let me know by leaving a comment on my blog.  I'll compile a linky list of all the posts so everyone can read about the days of everyone else in the Day In The Life community.

Friday, April 11, 2014

je voudrais aller au cinema (I don't speak French!)

One of the things Graham and I miss most from our pre-parent days is the freedom to go to the cinema whenever it takes our fancy.  Lately, however, we have managed to squeeze in quite a few visits and have seen some great films.  When my parents were visiting recently, we took advantage of their mad baby-sitting skillz and went to the cinema three times in one week.  Three times in one week, I repeat!  That really was like the very best of the good old days!  I'm pretty much of the opinion that almost all films are great when seen in an actual cinema, but some of the films we've seen recently were GREAT.

This week, on my afternoon of no work and no Dulcie, instead of tidying the flat or going to the shops or peeling vegetables like I usually do (insight into my glamorous life, there...) I took myself to an afternoon screening of Richard Ayoade's new film, The Double.  My "review" of it to Graham when I got home made it sound like I hadn't enjoyed it at all.  Actually, I did really like it, I just didn't like it quite as much as I had expected to, but my expectations were really high, having LOVED Submarine and liked the sound of The Double's concept.  So it was good and Mia Whats-a-kowski's dresses (all two of them) were beyond adorable, but the film as a whole was perhaps a bit too pastichey (made-up word) for my liking.

Like The Double, Only Lovers Left Alive starred Mia Whats-a-kowski, had a definite lack of daylight and slightly disappointed me, but only really because of my very high expectations.  I was pretty excited by the trailer and was looking forward to a vampire film that wasn't aiming at franchise, if you know what I mean.  The film delivered in terms of vampirism, coolness, darkness and humour, but I felt like I was too dumb (or tired) to get many of the cinematic/literary/musical references that were made every 20 seconds or so.

The Grand Budapest Hotel definitely did not disappoint.  It gave me everything I look forward to in a Wes-Anderson-at-the-cinema experience and I loved it.  So much fun!  My friend from work went to see it while she was on holiday in Berlin recently, just because it was in English, but she knew nothing about the film or Wes Anderson before she went in.  She said she spent the first half thinking it was the worst film she'd ever seen then all of a sudden she worked out the intended tone and loved it from then on.  I think that's a pretty great summing-up of the film, or of Wes Anderson in general.  The story and the characters were great and Ralph Fiennes (an actor I've never much appreciated) was brilliant.  Like Moonrise Kingdom etc, there was so much attention to detail and lovely things to look at.  You could just tell every item was carefully chosen or made.  I don't think there was anything not to like.  Fun times, fun times.  Go see it and be happy.

It was really a fluke that we went to see Under The Skin.  I'd been put off by a River City actor featuring quite heavily in the trailer, but was talked into going because it was set in Glasgow, I'd liked other films by the director and, like I said, I am always happy to go to the cinema if we have a baby-sitter on hand.  Gah, I'm so glad we went!  It was amazing!  By all accounts, the book it's based on is pretty naff (I haven't read it myself) so it's even more impressive that the film turned out so magical.  It was spidery and dark and quiet and '70s-horror and real and unreal and...just out-and-out amazing.  I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards.  There was one scene that was horrific but so good and cinematic and beautiful and (I already said this) horrific.  When the scene finished, Graham turned round and goggled his eyes at me. Afterwards he told me he'd been trying to convey the following: "If the film ends now, I'll be happy because that was one of the best things I've ever seen on a cinema screen."  When people have asked me about this film, I've said, "I loved it!  It was amazing!  But I'm not recommending it!"  I can imagine a lot of people wouldn't like it, either because of how slow and quiet and grimy it was, or just because some parts of it were quite upsetting.  A couple of people did walk out halfway through the screening we were at.  Also, if you're from Glasgow, you'll probably be distracted looking out for people and places you know and, wherever you come from, don't take your mother because I have never seen so many erect penises in a single film before!

And so ends my cinema reviewing, so good you might mistake me for a professional.  What can I say?  Peter Bradshaw, Mark Kermode, watch your back!

Cinema, cinema, cinema, you're so much fun.  I hope we can meet again soon.