Sunday, 23 September 2012

Drawing at bedtime

How can I insist on bedtime when she's doing this:

Well, I didn't. Because that would have been cruel in so many ways. Although I did ask her if she could leave the three further people she had planned for tomorrow (she agreed, phew).

It's the one thing that keeps her busy for hours. Drawing, drawing and drawing some more. I'm not ever allowed to look until it's done. Not an easy task, if you know that she comes out with the most incredible designs. By now, she's better at drawing than I ever was. It must be her daddy's genes. I totally think she's incredibly talented, which might be because I'm biassed or because I'm a dork when it comes to drawing. Or both.

Today, she painted shoe boxes and drew 3 full pictures with great detail. All of this on a day where we spent the whole afternoon out of the house, and where we spent a considerable time feeding hungry children, dancing wildly to music and dressing up both wooden girls, teddy bears real children (for a woodland creature themed event in the Children's Wood in the afternoon). Snowflake, ever keen to copy her sister, painted one shoe box and drew one picture, and the table, two outfits, her hand and the chair.

There's a lot of colour in our house.

PS Everything is called Rosie in our house. She wrote this herself hence the phonetic spelling (the s is really a flipped z). 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

And onwards and upwards - Review

Well, what can I say. After feeling rather at the edge yesterday, today was a whole new day. Which makes me wonder if the tensions are created by factors outside of the home which just had to come out on this first day of a bank holiday weekend. Today, in contrast, emotions were much more in control and I found out a few things that indicate tensions at school - nothing major or surprising but it may have caused or contributed to yesterday's fraught day. Of course, if I say nothing major it's nothing major in my eyes, but it may be serious enough for Cubling. I may be getting on a bit but if there's something I vividly remember from my childhood, it's how I felt when time outs and the like were imposed by figures of authority.

So with a head a bit clearer I can finally catch up on a couple of review posts that have been waiting to be written. First up today is Vertbaudet, the online/mail order childrens clothes/maternity wear and children's nursery company.

I've always been a big fan of Vertbaudet's collection, which is why I am more than happy to take up the opportunity of a review. Vertbaudet offers beautiful and practical clothes ranges for baby and children, as well as maternity wear, nursery outfit and storage solutions. Previously I'd reviewed some of their children's/baby clothes so this time I opted for bed linen as we're soon facing the move into the big bed (or let's say, the plan is soon but a certain Missus seems to have different ideas).

What I like about Vertbaudet in general is that the designs are just that bit different from what you tend to get on the high street, and this applies to both clothing and nursery design. The range for bed linen is large so that there's bound to be something for anyone. My first choice had sold out so I settled for my second choice, which was just fine as there are so many nice bedlinen sets that identifying a first choice took me all evening. Basically, I like them all. So the chicken was replaced by a butterfly design because Snowflake is not just keen on zebras but also on Butterflies (in fact, it was one of her first words).

Once the parcel was delivered, big sister got rather excited and had a look too. Now I have to mention at this point that Cubling has very definite opinions and it's either a total thumbs up or a total thumbs down. To be honest, I hadn't picked the design with her in mind and didn't expect her to like it, as she's all into princesses, pink and gold. However, there was a pleasant surprise in that she too loved this design, so it's passed the Cubling test!

The duvet cover didn't disappoint and we are now at least set for the big bed day should it ever arrive. It's an interesting design actually in that it has a flap rather than button to close the cover, which I hadn't seen before. It makes changing bedlinen a bit quicker and is more durable as buttons tend to wear and disappear with time. So no qualms about the product, it was as beautiful as the picture promised and delivery was quick.

I have had a slight issue with out of stock items not coming up as out of stock on the website so I guess there's a bit of room for improvement, not that it has ever bothered me. In fact my own purchasing experience has shown that credit will be applied in such cases or money returned, if you don't mind the minor inconvenience. As to value for money Vertbaudet often has special offers on and if you subscribe to the newsletter by email, you'll always be able to grab a bargain even if full priced items are a bit above average. Also, Vertbaudet appears to have a constant sale on and some of the sale item are actually some of the loveliest products. The quality of clothing is good, and I like particularly like the organic range.

One thing to be slightly aware of is that Vertbaudet being a French company uses a slightly different sizing system and I've found that I had to add a size to ensure they fitted, i.e. if a garment is for size 5 years, I had to buy size 6 or even 7 years for my 5-year old (who is a tallish child but in UK sizes still within the size for her age). However, Vertbaudet has clear measuring guidelines so that you can ensure to get the correct size in your first order.

I can also recommend to check out some of the bedroom decoration items, the wall stickers are really made from the kingdom of cute.

Disclosure: I received goods from Vertbaudet for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Days like this

Sometimes I wonder if I was ever made for this life as a parent. After a day like today, when in spite of doing fun stuff (and giving up trying to work with both around at 10 am knowing this was not one of those days where any work would happen) all day long, it appears that I often can't manage to create an environment where both of them are happy at the same time. This was a day that should have been easy: the sun was out, we were in the park totally going at their pace and doing what they wanted to do. Just that the two wills won't coincide.

So I take turns between the two of them trying to calm, soothe, find out what's wrong, feed, water, try to play, get interrupted by other one screaming, distract, and repeat. Is it me? How come that apparently at nursery, Snowflake is ever calm and happy but at home, she throws one tantrum after another, and half of the time I'm in the dark as to what it's actually about? How come that after 2 years of playing together like the best of friends, they are now like two vicious cats with sibling rivalry unleashed?

 (look, they really love each other!)

If Cubling comes too close to me, say for a cuddle, or even dares sit on my lap, up comes her sister and pushes her off. And she can push now. I mean, she manages to push Cubling off good and proper and sometimes hurts her in the process. There's biting and scratching, slapping and kicking and the ever just under the surface waiting to explode tantrum with full backwards fling onto the floor.

Meanwhile with all the attention going to younger sibling, older sibling gets frustrated and as much as I empathise and try to keep the peace, she starts her whinging and whining show. Interspersed with random, made up singing, recitation of phonemes and generally loud noises. Sometimes it gets to a noise and madness level that I wonder if my child is truly bonkers, as this noise level of random sounds without meaning can't be normal. I don't see other children act like this. Maybe they do, I just don't see it.

Often, it gets to a stage where she is totally in her world, and nothing I say reaches her. Or the opposite is true, a neverending litany of moaning and whinging, noise and sabotage of anything I'm trying to do, while refusing to engage in any meaningful play with me (which I'm told helps to reconnect and get out of such mayhem. It doesn't for us. She never wants to play when she's in this state).

At the end of a day like today, I get the nagging feeling that I really would rather have spent the day in the office, and that, if asked, the girls would most likely rather have spent it at the childminder's. It's most definitely not a nice feeling. More than anything I keep asking myself what on earth I'm doing wrong.

I took pretty pictures though. They may have kept my sanity today. And oh dear, another 3 days of this to get through all by myself. Help.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The bumpy jacket that will be worn

This has been a loooong time coming. As soon as the bumpy jacket pattern was published, I knew I had to knit one. I think it was pre pregnancy of second child. Anyway, finally, with the biggest size this pattern will allow, I present to you our very own bumpy jacket, completed with even a few days to go to Snowflake's 2nd birthday. I've rarely been seen so organised when it comes to knitting projects (I can usually be seen finishing off on the journey to the birthday child).

If it weren't for my love of teal, I might have been a bit more adventurous with the colour scheme rather than copying the original. But you know, I love this colour and had the perfect yarn screaming out at me, knit me into a bumpy jacket. (it was Debbie Bliss Cathay if you must know, and the gauge was bang on, I even had exactly the right quantity, though it was a close call, I think I finished it with just about 2 metres of yarn left which caused a bit of sweat and worry).

I like: it's knit in one piece. I don't like sewing pieces together, it really puts me off finishing a project. At the same time I still think it's magical how a reasonably complex shape can be knitted in one piece, how it all comes together from words on the page. The slightly vintage pattern is easy enough and gives the jacket a really interesting feature. I also like that it's unisex in this world of every child stuff being marketed in double vision.

There is only a slight problem. This wonderfully cheeky and independent child of mine won't wear it. It took a very breezy day and lots of fuss to get it on her for 10 minutes. Now for all this attempt to work with my children, it is simply unacceptable to refuse to wear mummy's handknits, especially if it's one of her favourite patterns by one of her favourite designers and knitted in her favourite colour. Remember vowing I won't ever touch needles smaller than 4mm ever again because life was to short? Well, this was knitted painstakingly on 3.25mm needles. It was a lot of work. There is no choice or question about wearing this beautiful jacket.

Luckily it's done in 3-4 years, and being a small 2 year old, this means she still has a bit of time to get to like it. Resistance is futile my dear.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

And now she is two

Has it really been 2 years since my little girl made a rather delayed and fraught entry into this world? It must be: the dates says so. I could go all emotional recollecting the past two years. And yet nothing can put into words how I feel about this little yet very strong 2 year old who has made our family complete.

With Cubling at school now, I have had the rare chance to spend one to one time with her once again after over a year. It is as if I'm starting to get to know her all over again, and this time is most definitely rare quality time, because usually it's a frenzy between trying to accommodate the needs of both girls while also managing house chores or timetables. It is wonderful to be able to go her pace, see the world with her eyes and just be with her calmly, without the hustle and bustle of the days were we are three or four. Picking brambles, spotting swallows, getting excited about the movements of a slater - this is the kind of stuff that has been more than overlooked in the past year, and while I it pains me that my big girl has to sit on a school chair 5 days a week, I've gained this special time on a Monday with Snowflake.
The mellow baby has become a strong toddler who will stand her ground, even when she doesn't know what exactly that ground is. Now that she is entering the world of mischief with the guidance of her big sis whom she adores and copies to the letter, I thought it would be fitting to hand over to said sister, who knows her best. And world, watch out for the pair of them!

Tell me something about Snowflake.
It's her birthday!

What is the best thing about Snowflake?
Cuddling her

What does Snowflake do?
She plays in the bath and in the play park

What makes her laugh?
When I do silly faces

What's her favourite game/toy?
her favourite game is playing on trees. Her favourite toy is peppa pig

What's her favourite thing to do?
pulling down the curtains

What does she hate doing?
she hates going into the bath

How is she like you?
She's nothing like me.

How is she different from you?
she has short hair and she's a baby

What's her favourite food? and drink?
Her favourite food is egg. Her favourite drink is milk from mummy

what does she think about you?
I don't know

What's funny about Snowflake?
she kicks me and slaps me on my face and tickles me

What makes her cry?
when I jump on top of her

What make her angry?
when I kick her

What's the best thing to do with Snowflake?
playing with her!

What will she be when she's grown up?
a dentist

I love you to bits and I'm thankful every day that you are with us and brighten our lives. I love your raised finger telling me "nein Mama, Snowflake selber!" (no mummy, Snowflake do it self), your tantrums at every single supermarket visit, even your jealousy of your big sister making sure that mummy's lap is yours only. I love how your favourite mode of transport is on your sisters lap in the buggy, how you get so excited when the word "Spielplatz", "nursery" or "Fahrrad" is uttered. I love you for your hysterical giggles when your sister gets you to laugh, for the way you want things just so and your dislike for mess of any kind. I love how you conquered your fear of animals and now enjoy their presence. I love those baby curls that will disappear soon. I love how you, and only you, can make my dad smile. I love your cuddles, your kisses that are given freely. I love your eyes as they meet mine and start to smile.  
Happy birthday Schneckchen.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Speaking in Accents

Have you ever thought about how your accent affects your interaction with other people?

I love accents. I love the subtleties, I love guessing what has shaped an individual's accent, where they come from, where they passed through to get here. I can listen to my beloved husband and just hear his beautiful intonation and forget to listen to what he's saying (ok he may have been talking C++ but it's still not an excuse - he just has the most amazing accent which can be distracting). I truly love the diversity of accents in Glasgow, where you have anything from the proper Weegie to people from all over the UK and from around the world. I always thought Glasgow to be particularly rich in this diversity of accents because there's probably less than 50% of native Scots here (I'm guessing!) or at least so it seems, you hear different accents every day. At work, there's people from further north, from the east, from the south.

And then I'm in an east end cafe ordering a roll and I feel awfully conscious of my own accent. Builders and bakers speaking in the most amazingly beautiful gutteral Glaswegian, and I dread to order my butty because they'll spot instantly I'm not from here. I then order and stutter with a whisper as nervous as I used to be as a choir girl singing a solo.

Am I paranoid? Fact is that in spite of me living here for over 15 years, the other day I discovered that most of my friends are not Scottish. Now this may be because there is generally a lot of movement of people and that this is a fair representation of reality. But maybe accents keep us apart because they locate us in some sort of social drawer that we can't really get out of to explore another drawer.

It's not even that people instantly know I'm German - but it's obvious I'm not born and bred working class Glaswegian. The thing is, I can by now put on a Glaswegian accent, but it feels wrong doing so. This comes from a woman who had no qualms about speaking with an Irish accents some 18 years ago and still slips into it automatically when speaking to an Irish person - but that was just how I spoke English, I couldn't not speak like it. Now it would be a choice and while I know non-Glaswegians who do this, to me it feels wrong. Or maybe I just feel people would make fun of me (and possibly rightly so?).

On a day to day basis though, the accent thing is about class and (perceived which then becomes real) power. Generally, the people I meet to set programmes up with mostly speak much like me, with a neutral English accent tinged by a soft Scottish intonation and pronunciation. The people who take part in the programmes mostly speak Glaswegian. Just now, I even noticed how someone changed her accent when on the phone to me, and it made me feel all conscious as to what that meant - did she relate to me differently, did she see me as not in her drawer?

I wonder how this applies to people with other accents, say an English accent and if it differs whether it's a "posh" or northern English accent. People have certainly labelled me as English (which is funny as I never spend much time in England) and were surprised when I said I was German, and I'm not sure which label I prefer or how that changes the way this person perceives me.

And I keep wondering if accents may stand in the way of trust and creating personal and professional relationships and create a barrier that has to be overcome, that may  not be there if you share the same accent.



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