Thoughts and other Miscellany

Bookmark #2

Well, Bookmark proved aptly-named, didn’t she? Have read maybe 15 books a year for the 2 years she’s been around (and I didn’t read much while pregnant with her either).

(photo credit – that is not my baby)

I’m going to need suggestions for blog nicknames for Bookmark #2 – due in late August! If nominative determinism is as strong as it seemed to be with Bookmark, names that will lead to more reading would be helpful!

Speaking of Bookmark, I think we’ve got a reader on our hands. During the day, we read:
Fox’s Socks
Postman Bear
– a very simple numbers book she has
Blue Hat Green Hat
Then at night we read:
Sleepy Farm x 2
Where is the Green Sheep (she read it once, then I read it to her)
Baby Boo x 2
then there was a tantrum because I refused to read Baby Boo again; THFS took over and later informed me that the tantrum was because I hadn’t read all the right books in order. Apparently we needed Time For Bed to finish off the routine!

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Thoughts and other Miscellany

Twitter holiday

There’s just too much coverage of Trump and Brexit on Twitter. So I’ve taken a bit of a Twi-holiday.

Admittedly I could tweak that by changing whom I follow, but on the whole I’m interested in what my lefty liberal feminist echo chamber on Twitter has to say, with splashes of London cycling and cricket, and people I actually know, so I didn’t want to go on a wholesale cull, I just needed a break.

It’s been more than two week now and I haven’t really noticed – it’s odd how easy it has been to break the habit. I mostly used Twitter on my phone so I just deleted the app. I sometimes check it from a computer, but it’s been easy not to type “hootsuite.com/dashboard” into the URL bar.

What I have found is that it is harder to waste time on my phone, and I do feel a bit out of the loop with some of my friends. On the former a) I should waste less time on my phone b) this is why I have the Kindle app, and on the latter, it has prompted me to reach out to friends by Whatsapp or text or (shock horror) in person.

I’m writing this the day after the attack on Westminster, and I’m actually glad I wasn’t on Twitter yesterday. I surprised myself with how calm I was about the attack – my philosophy on these things is broadly in agreement with the Mayor of London’s: it’s part of living in a big city. London has 1/6th of the population of the UK, so quite apart from any aspect of how it might be targeted as the capital, or the attractiveness of the London landmarks as targets, we should expect to have 1/6th of all incidents in the country. I probably checked BBC News every hour or so yesterday after the attack looking for updates, but it wasn’t as emotionally exhausting as it would have been to be glued to Twitter looking for every update.

So if you normally follow me over there and I’ve gone quiet, don’t fret, I’m ok!

And ironically, I’ll be posting a link to this blog post on Twitter…

Bookmark

Bookmark’s favourite books

It remains surprising to me that this list changes at least once a month! At 23 months, it looks like this:

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

epppI’m actually not such a fan of this one, because it is so ridiculous and has very little coherence, but woe betide you if you try to start bedtime reading with anything else! I think Bookmark likes pointing out the nursery rhyme characters that she knows – “bears hiding window” and “witch”. It mostly refers to more old-fashioned nursery rhymes that we don’t sing so much (Mother Hubbard and Tom Thumb).

(This seems to be a strong favourite as a gift to new parents – we not only inherited multiple copies from my family, but we were given at least two copies as well!)

Time For Bed, P. B. Bear by Lee Davis

pbbear

This is a really simple board book going through the going-to-bed actions – tidying away toys, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas and reading a book. Bookmark is fascinated with the stars on every page.

(This edition survived being loved by Mini-Me before Bookmark – but it is looking very loved these days!)

Time For Bed by Mem Fox

timeforbed

I only happened onto this because it’s by the same author as Where is the Green Sheep, which was a big discovery for us as a Bookmark book over Christmas. I love this book. We go through all the animals saying goodnight (“It’s time for bed, little cat, little cat; So snuggle in tight, that’s right, like that”) – and Bookmark points out the Mama animal and Baby animal on each page and tells me what noise they make. Apparently when she reads it with The Hedge Fund Slave they are Daddy animals and Baby animals. It’s unbearably cute.

Non-bedtime favourites include

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox – great for adjective development. This was the first book that Bookmark was really willing to “read” to herself.

green-sheep

 

Edward the Emu and Edwina the Emu by Sheena Knowles. I love these. Bookmark mostly loves the lions in Edward and the exclamation “Yeek!” in Edwina.

 

edwards edwina

Bookmark has probably close to 100 books (counting board books and paper books, English and German, inherited from mother/aunt as well as presents and bought for her), so we cycle through them pretty regularly! If I’d written this last month, Goodnight Moon would have been on the list, along with Fox’s Socks – maybe they’ll make a future edition!

 

*all titles are linked with affiliate links to Amazon.co.uk

Thoughts and other Miscellany

What worked for me in 2016 – part 1

Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s annual post along these lines, and soon to be followed by a “what didn’t work for me in 2016”. Some of these things are totally trivial, but I discovered them in 2016 and they changed my life for the better.

A new job. I got my personality profile today (we’ve been doing some management training and they paid for us to get profiled). “Yvann has exacting standards at work and at home.” Ummm, yes. Turns out, you can’t be a full-time client-facing audit senior manager to my standards in 35 hours a week every week. Maybe you can do it to other people’s standards, and in fact one person urged me to stay and “just be a bit less good”. My new job is absolutely ace, in subject matter that I love, and it is zero stress and perfectly possible to do in 35 hours a week.

Cycling to work. Now that I work at the same office every day, it’s much easier to cycle there. And I love cycling there. I get an hour a day of decent exercise, fresh air, I see London, I see horses in Hyde Park and red buses and Buckingham Palace and Big Ben and I cover 16km a day under my own steam, which feels like an achievement.

bike

And for those who want a laugh – this is my cycling get up… (excuse the poor photo, I was trying to take it quickly and get out the door!)cycling

Balsamic glaze. On salad, on steak, on grilled chicken, on mozzarella, on garlic bread, on pizza crusts. So good. I keep a bottle in my desk drawer. (along with some truffle salt)

Whatsapp groups. I only really got into Whatsapp when I was about 4 weeks shy of having Bookmark, and my NCT group were keen to have a group. Since then I’ve set up or participated in groups for my immediate family, various subsets of my cricket team, the friends with whom I go to tiny European countries, the friends with whom I do pub quiz, Supernanny and the other mum who sometimes drops her kid off with us… I love it as a communication tool.

Family Fitbit competitions. I went to the USA with the Musician, Mini-Me and Bookmark in September, and we were a little stretched between my perspective (will happily walk 20 blocks with Bookmark in the pram rather than carry the pram in and out of the subway / to get her to have a good nap) and theirs (sometimes, taxis are the way forward). We ended up walking more and more, and they were fascinated by how much ground we covered. The 25k the day we went to Disneyland was probably a bit much. Anyway after that we all got Fitbits, and have been merrily competing ever since. The Hedge Fund Slave has zero interest in getting one, which I find bemusing.

Pro tip: I didn’t get on with the Fitbit Flex because I didn’t like wearing it on my wrist. I keep my Fitbit Zip either attached to my bra strap, or in my sock, and I forget it’s there. I believe the Book Accumulator goes for the more traditional waist-band Fitbit location.

Putting the TV on to go to sleep. I know, I know, the screen is evil. But. I have a history of taking well over an hour to go to sleep, because the voices in my head won’t shut up. Alternatively, I put on BBC iPlayer (QI is a favourite, but Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You, Only Connect, No Such Thing As the News all do the trick), and I’m asleep within 5 minutes. Podcasts work too – I actually save the weekly QI Elves podcast No Such Thing As A Fish for bedtime listening. It often takes me the whole week to actually listen to the episode because I fall asleep so fast. WHY didn’t I discover this as a teenager? I do like all those shows and willingly watch them when awake, but I can’t use my favourite dramas like The West Wing for this, and similarly I don’t use podcasts like The Double X Gabfest or News In Slow French because they take too much brainpower to let me fall asleep.

More to follow!

Thoughts and other Miscellany

Currently

Watching Play School – Everybody Sing! (1996) with Bookmark. Fun fact – this video is older than Mini-Me, and it’s still the best children’s TV I’ve seen. Second fun fact – one of the presenters is Philip Quast, who went on to become a West End star, singing the role of Javert in the 10th anniversary recording of Les Miserables (my favourite musical). The man has a voice like Nutella.

Feeling tired. I’ve had a horrible cold for the last week, which I picked up after Bookmark had already had it for a few days (and therefore we’d already had several nights of very broken sleep). I’m mostly over it now, apart from the occasional cough that makes me sound like I’m a 40-a-day smoker, but it takes a bad cold/cough to confine me to my bed/the sofa for 3 days.

On my Netflix account history are all 8 episodes of ITV’s Victoria, half of The Crown, and the start of season 3 of The Good WifeVictoria was entertaining enough, though I found it overly focussed on the romance when I actually wanted more politics because I know so little about that patch of history. Ditto The Crown I’m now finding more enjoyable now that the characters are all thoroughly established and it’s less of the Elizabeth/Philip courtship/wedding/early marriage material. Matt Smith absolutely steals the show as Prince Philip. We’re still very much enjoying The Good Wife, though when I binge-watched half a series back-to-back it got a bit soapy as all the personal storylines progressed too far.

“Sustained. For no other reason than for use of the pluperfect tense.”

Wearing the old faithfuls: size 11 bootcut long leg jeans from Jeans West (I own 3 pairs of these and have worn them for 4 years, except for 10 months where I wore the maternity version), my St John’s College, Oxford dark blue hoodie, and a pair of Ugg boots I stole (with consent) from the Musician. And my favourite glasses (a set of dark blue plastic frames from Karen Millen – I love the fact that they don’t have nose pieces).

Eating tripoline pasta, which I’ve never encountered outside Tesco in the last year. It’s like tagliatelle or pappardelle, but ridged/wiggly on both sides, so you end up with curled, wiggly pasta. Look it up (Proud Italian Cook has a good photo), it’s pretty cool.

Setting the alarm for 6.30am. Getting over the cold means I’m not going to be cycling into work, but I do need to allow extra time to walk slowly (so I don’t cause myself any coughing paroxysms*) and to buy a chocolate torsade at Waitrose…

 

*paroxysm is a very satisfying word! Like syzygy – by knowing the spelling of which, my grandfather once won a dial-in radio spelling bee.

Thoughts and other Miscellany

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

… is my new audiobook, and it is delicious.

we-are-all-completely-besider-ourselves

I’m only about 45 minutes in, and it seems (so far) to be an August Osage County -style “crazy family” drama, except the family isn’t that crazy:

“Antagonism in my family comes wrapped in layers of code, sideways feints, full deniability. I believe the same can be said of many families.”

I love the narrator’s voice (Katharine Mangold) – it’s dreamy and fluid and just wry enough when needed.

Watch this space!

Thoughts and other Miscellany

Currently

Listening to Eliza Doolittle’s self-titled album on Spotify – the doodlepop is harmless enough Friday night music.

Wearing a lovely new top from Marks and Spencer, and at least 7-year-old second-hand yoga pants that are too big for me. And these socks. Which are German and amazing. (Click on the photo for an affiliate Amazon link).

Cycling again: I cycled to work 2 days this week, 2 days last week, and I’ve been cycling to my UVB appointments 3 lunchtimes a week (fastest method of transport in central London – if you don’t believe me, watch this Top Gear episode).

Deciding that life is too short to iron fitted shirts. I’ve got no problem ironing unfitted shirts (i.e. men’s shirts) because it takes about 90 seconds a shirt with The Hedge Fund Slave’s easy-iron shirts. My shirts, on the other hand, had a minimum of 5 panels, usually more, often thinner than the iron so all sorts of shenanigans were called for. NO MORE. I’m getting rid of any clothes that I have to iron.

Despairing of the world and its politics.

Being tired. THFS worked through the night on Tuesday night following the US election as the results came out, and has worked a lot of late nights leading up to that, so parenting’s been a bit one-sided around here. I need a break. Or more tea and sleep.

Watching The Good Wife with THFS, one episode every few days (we don’t get a lot of time to ourselves between Bookmark and THFS’s work.) It’s proving pretty good so far. Must go back and re-watch Suits. Also Gilmore Girls. And of course carry on watching The West Wing. This gif seems as appropriate as anything else right now:

wwgif1

Catching up with friends: on Thursday night I met up with two friends and then one had to get on a train but the other and I chatted until late and put the world to rights and laughed a lot and talked about the things that are important to us at the moment.

Eating whatever I can find in the fridge. It’s slim pickings at the end of a difficult week. Thanks to the family jetlag (see above), there’s been a lot of takeaway this week, and all the stuff I had planned out to cook is now in the freezer.

Reading! I sat on the floor of the loungeroom and benevolently ignored Bookmark as she identified trains and buses on her Thomas the Tank Engine domino cards (this is a one person activity. Any efforts to actually play dominos are speedily rebuffed), and read Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, which I read half of on my recent trip to the USA. This time I’m reading it with my Book Darts, which are essential for marking excellent quotes. (I bought them at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, USA a few years ago; I can’t find them on the bookstore’s website, so I am regretfully linking up an Amazon link here)

Drinking decaf tea with lots of milk, obviously. Although I do have a nice Cucumber Mint blend from Whittards, which is weird but tasty.

Realising that cheap ironing board covers really aren’t worth it. Like cheap dishwasher tabs.

Looking forward to my birthday! Is there an age when you get too old to be allowed to be excited about your birthday? I haven’t hit it yet…

You?