Friday, 30 December 2011

That was the plan... And here's the jury:

I don't do New Years resolutions. Normally. And just to spite myself, I kind of formulated a plan for 2011, which I knew I wouldn't exactly follow through, it was more about reminding myself what I would like to do at one point in time. Needless to say, I haven't looked at the list until today. So, for a bit of fun, how badly did I fare?

1. Get chickens.
No chickens. There are reasons, and these go a bit deeper than the categorical refusal by Mr Cartside. While my other half is convinced our garden is too small, I'm pretty sure we could do it but I have to accept that it would mean that this would be the only use for our garden. No space to run about for the kids, no option to grow more veg. No compost heap even. While the kids are small, I think I'll postpone the chicken plan for a while. Cubling still absolutely wants chickens and now says we need to move house...

2. Grow more food.
I did. Rather than one raspberry, we had a constant supply of berries, though I still managed to lose half of my plants. Green fingered I'm not and it's not for want of trying. There were some successes though - lettuce, tatties, beans, peas some soft fruit and even the occasional spinach, garlic and onion. I think I got one tomato from my 3 plants, not sure if tomatoes are worth my while in the future...

3. Buy less in general. Buy with less packaging. Buy more ethically. Buy more handmade. Avoid plastic
Tick. My clothes are falling apart though and after a year of buying zilch, I think I need some clothes at least.

4. Make all greeting cards.
Almost. I made most cards, but because I'm not that organised, some people went without (sorry) and I admit to using a blogger freebie to get 50 customised Christmas cards sent to me. To be fair though, there's no way I could make all the Christmas cards we sent, it was 80 at the last count.

5.Learn 3 new things (high in the list of contenders are crocheting, basket making and wood turning, but it may be something totally different)
I learned how to crochet, basket making and candle making. There are no wood turning workshops to be found though I'd still like to learn this. So this is pretty much a tick.

6. Declutter.
Well, I tried. We got loft insulation and that meant I halved my personal rubbish stored in the loft. Managed to part with some books, and not buy too much new stuff, but it's still pretty cluttered which I blame entirely on having two kids...

7. Get back to a size 12. Yes I'm shallow. I want to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I think I only need to continue breastfeeding and should get there (I'm one of the lucky ones whose weight just drops off magically while breastfeeding)
Fail. I had it all going for me, because yes, after 4 months of exclusive breastfeeding Snowflake I was back to my post pregnancy weight which was a license to eat as much cake as I fancied. I still do but am no longer exclusively breastfeeding. Go figure.

8. Learn how to use Lightroom.
Tick. Of course there's more to learn but I can and do use it and have made some funky photo edits with it.

9. Reduce my carbon footprint.
It would help if I had some sort of calculator for this, but I did reduce it somewhat, especially if we take out the first 6 months of the year (no air travel in the latter half). I learned a lot about what has the highest carbon footprint and at least I now know how bad air travel actually is. If I had my way, I'd probably never use a plane again.

10. If I can find an illustrator, I'd like to create a simple bilingual German/English toddler book. You don't happen to be an illustrator? You see, I've had this idea for a long time but can't draw for the life of me.
Fail. I didn't even try.

So that makes 3/10 fail, 2/10 so so and 5/10 tickety boo. Better than I thought I'd fare. Quite a fun exercise too, I might even do it again.

worries by the language obsessed

In what seems like a previous life, I studied linguistics. I've always been fascinated by languages and if there's one thing that I watch like a hawk, it's how my kids learn to speak.

Just that this 15 1/2 months old of mine isn't speaking.
Consequently, we've got one worried mama, who once a week trails through the internet looking at signs of language delay, language milestones and the like.
Bizarre questions form in my mind. What counts as a first word? Is "mmmm" for "moo" (i.e. cow) a word? or how about "och" for "hoch/up"? Or could we count ah-oh! for when something falls down as a word? Does that make the milestone of 3 words by 15 months? I guess there's always hiya and hallo (the latter is her word for phone methinks) which we could count for good measure. Compare that to what Cubling was able to say at 16 months... When asked to say something, I get a most definite head shake. It appears she's not keen on speaking.

Interestingly I'm full of the guilt trip, what with a very chatty preschooler who also loves to read so most talking and reading is done with her rather than baba. Plus the latter is a happy wee soul, forever exploring stuff she finds, and not particularly interested in striking up a conversation with me or other people.

She may not be speaking, but she communicates pretty effectively alright. Especially if she suspects there's chocolate in the room (my girl), or if big sis has taken a toy off her. A "no" has to be voiced ever so gently and with a loving smile, lest there be tears. There's plenty of head shaking, nodding and waving goodbye, raising hands to be picked up, pointing and demanding, refusing and begging.

Just no words. We seemed to have managed to produced the ying and yang, and it's still beyond my ken how two siblings, can be so different from one another.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Is this the most beautiful card ever?

She asked. My answer was something like "beauty is relative and different people find different things beautiful. Your card is probably the most unusual card ever and you have put a lot of effort into making it and I think it's fab."

And I wasn't diplomatic, I mean it.
(and if you can't make it out, she meticulously covered a cream card with black tape and finally taped a wee gem flower onto it.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Time to breathe

The last few months were testing.

Within a month after returning to work from maternity leave, redundancy was looming, and it looked as good as certain that I had no choice in the matter and would lose my job. And while in a sense everything is an opportunity, if the opportunity is not a choice, it is rather less attractive than it would otherwise be. In a way, redundancy had some attraction, what with two children in nursery, the logistical nightmare of juggling work, nursery run and generally work and family, and the feeling that it's difficult to do both parenting and work justice.

However, having had that discussion during my maternity leave, I also admit that I'm not the best of parent if I do it 24/7. Yes, work and parenting stresses me out, particularly if the evening meal has to be cooked with two tired and moaning children in toe or when pre-schooler won't cooperate to get out of the house in the morning. But parenting alone is no less stressful. I often wonder if the fact that I became a parent later in life means that I find it difficult to go with the flow because I was so used to be in control of my life - when now even the simplest of things can be a massive effort of organisation, persistence and determination. The bottom line is that I enjoy work and the opportunity for getting things done without major distractions.

The situation changed from imposition to having an element of choice, or at least it was no longer definite that I'd be hit by redundancy. Then the question of working hours came in and long representations were made, and listened to. Redundancy was still going to happen, but it was delayed and my working hours reduced. There were internal opportunities for different roles, I applied, messed up the interview for a job that was exciting but also so demanding that I wasn't sure I was cut out for it. I applied for a second internal job and this time got it. Redundancy, for now, is far off the horizon. However I'd lost some fab colleagues.

While all of this was happening, I was also trying to do a full time job in 3 days a week. Most evenings were spent at the computer trying to make ends meet, trying to fill the gaps of the day. During the week of the second interview, I organised and ran an event while I also prepared for an interview and did the whole organising Christmas stuff. I experienced literally running on edge. Insomnia, worry, and  questions that shake the core. I'm a pretty stable person but truth be told, I couldn't do that week again tomorrow. It would crack me up.

But it's over. It's all good. I have the job of my dreams - well, as close as it gets in real life; but really, it's a fab new role that I truly believe in and that I'm totally committed to. I have it on part time hours. I have it from April which means I can complete my current work properly. There couldn't have been a better outcome.

The main outcome for me though is that I can truly relax and breathe for Christmas. That I can enjoy the break rather than continue the worry and anxiety. There was a time when I took unemployment and new routes in my life at a stride. With children, this is no longer the case, stability and security have become my best mates.

So for the next two weeks, I shall be able to enjoy spending time with my family without the constant worry that distracts me. I'm looking forward to a bit of knitting and reading, to playing and going for walks, to conversations that don't revolve around redundancy.

And I'm extremely thankful for this. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 19 December 2011

The week before Christmas

These days we've been crafting a lot. With my children or with some slightly older children.
I organised a Christmas Fair.
We've been to birthday parties and advent celebrations.
I've had Barefoot Books stalls at lots of Christmas Fairs locally.
I've applied for 2 jobs.
We baked Pl├Ątzchen.
We ate Pl├Ątzchen and baked some more.
We saw a panto and a friend took Cubling to the theatre.
We made oranges with cloves, wrapping paper, dry felt angels, felt ornaments, decopatch candle holders. And a few other things.

No picture available (because 1 year old is keeping me on my feet and it's getting harder to take any photos at all): the two crochet stars I made which still need some finishing (yay, I did some crochet and it looks presentable). The still unfinished knitting projects, to which a few knitted slippers were added for good measure. The glittery poo coming out of my baby's bum.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


So it's Nikolaus today. We almost, just almost did a BIG mistake and forgot to put out the boots. At 11pm I remembered, woke 4 year old up and got her to put out her boot (letting her off the cleaning bit which is part of the tradition, but I thought it would be a bit cruel to make her clean the boot when I had forgotten to remind her to put it outside the front door).

Tonight, incidentally, she couldn't remember having put out her boot. 

Nevermind, the big eyes when she saw it filled with chocolate were priceless. Because, you know, she'd been doubtful. What with the Nikolaus being German and not quite knowing his way around Scotland/Glasgow. Would he find her? Well, she wasn't all that sure he would. And how would he travel? Isn't it Santa who's got the sledge and rendeer, so surely Nikolaus has to travel some other way? The only thing she didn't question was the fact that the storm door had been locked all night...

Thanks to the Kinderclub (German playgroup in Glasgow), there was even some Nikolaus crafting on the 5th, Nikolaus eve, and we ended the day by watching Mausspuren im Schnee, which is all winter themed and features the Nikolaus heavily. Considering none of this was particularly planned, I'm totally stressed workwise, it was pretty magic and couldn't have been any better. To round it all off, the Nikolaus is coming to the Kinderclub on Saturday. 

And if ever there was a doubt if it was all worth it, this upholding of German tradition and the effort it takes, the doubt was crushed by the proud announcement of 4 year old: "I'm German". This is the first time ever she's said that. And it came without prompting, was said with conviction, and instantly followed by "and English too" (we're still working on the "Scottish" bit, because as far as we can trace our family tree, she's definitely not English).

Thank you Nikolaus, you rock.

Friday, 2 December 2011


These days, I feel like I'm chasing my own tail. Somehow, December has come upon us and I didn't notice. The advent calendar is filled up to day 4 only, and we only have one (poor neglected 1 year old, having figured she won't notice; ha, how wrong was I!) which sums up rather a lot.
It's not that the strategic plan isn't there, it's more that there aren't enough hours in the day to implement it. This, interestingly, applies to rather a lot of spheres of my life at the moment, and I'm perfectioning the art of doing the best in impossible circumstances.

It's not half as dramatic as it sounds, just that I'm walking the tightrope of appreciating the things I manage to do, and focusing on those that got left behind or not done as they should have, that standards are slipping and I can carve out less and less time for the little things that make my day.

Some days, I look back on a day filled with activity, with pride about what I achieved, because it usually is a lot. Then I get frustrated by the things that fall by the wayside. Sometimes I wonder if I should chart a day to the minutiae just to record how manic these times are. Manic, in fact, is a word that has entered my mind - there is definitely a feeling of frantic activity.

So, what has fallen by the wayside is blogging. I have numerous post for Nature Kids which just need writing, but there is no time. Instead, I've enjoyed the outdoors, with two development days. My knitting is way behind - I chuckle when I think of the grand plan I had in June, when I decided I'd make felted slippers for all the family. The felting yarn remains untouched and our feet remain cold, what with me refusing to buy slippers for my children's growing feet because after all, I have every intention to knit those slippers!

And yet, there's a lot of goodness in the manic days. A lot of learning, a lot of thinking, a lot of connections are made. Just that at times, prioritising is way too complicated and I'm faced with the dilemma of cutting corners that really cannot be cut.

But hey, it's not all bad. It's only the 2nd of December and there's two tins of Christmas biscuits done, most presents taken care of, and we've even transformed the kitchen table into a craft workshop. 4 year old is totally into drawing, cutting, making, decorating, writing and reading and her creative production line is definitely running. Keeping pace with her is the bit that's hard, she is so full of ideas and her ideas are good. It keeps my spirit up in the face of broken promises and frustrations of another sort. And as to our Snowflake, she lights up my day especially in these days, when the memory of last year's nightmare is rekindled and I feel so blessed that she is still with us and has become such a bright and determined little girl. She is my miracle girl and her smile still is the world to me.



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