My Week in Pictures, News & Updates

Eclipse!

It was about 2 weeks ago that I first heard there was to be an eclipse visible from my home in Edinburgh. Oh the excitement! However, I had far too much to do with chicken pox and preparing for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (a post about those to come if I get around to finishing it!) and so the sum total of my preparations was to check that the nursery was aware of it and would do something. I confess, I did consider having Katja home for the day to view it but again the chicken pox thing and a rare, brief moment of rational thinking stopped me.

I assumed I would be able to get eclipse glasses, but a check on amazon/ebay plus a number of tweets from various people wondering where they could be sourced showed that this was not to be so this morning I found an inner tube from some kitchen roll and made myself a pin-hole camera.

As I started to get Elisa ready for a trip out I realised that I had a prime viewing location right in my front room – bonus! This meant that instead of trying to sneak peeks while watching an 11 month old in the playground I’d be able to enlist the support of CBeeBees.

So everything in place I started to watch. This is when I found out how utter crap a tube and piece of card is for viewing an eclipse. Seriously, I got a blurred bit of light and nothing discernable. I modified my “camera” but that didn’t help. The problem is always going to be the difference in angle of the viewing surface and the camera “lens”. So back to the drawing board.

I managed to come up with this – a cereal box with the ends taped up (some foil to stop light getting in the ends), a ruddy great hole in the side and a pin pierced through near the top. Hold with the pinhole facing the sun and look through the hole in the side and you know, this worked rather well. Next time I’ll have less of a hole in the side.

So, that’s how I could watch the eclipse. To be honest you do get a better view watching online through one of the observatory feeds, but there’s a charm in do it yourself.

Even better was watching the phenomenon of the shadows lengthening, the room going dark, the sharp drop in temperature, and seeing all of the people gathered in the park below. Dogs seemed to suddenly want to stay close to their owners, birds seemed confused. There were contrails from all of the watching planes overhead and Elisa got very very cuddly (although to be fair, she has been lately anyway thanks to her first tooth appearing two days ago).

At the time of maximum eclipse we had quite a bit of cloud cover – the bonus to this being that you could look directly at the sun and see the crescent shape without hurting your eyes. Of course as the clouds thin a bit you need to look away, but oh my what a magical sight!

Anyway, a few pics of the event. The next total I’ll likely be able to get to isn’t for another 10 years – best get planning then!

News & Updates, Parenthood

Visiting

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Sometimes when I pick up Katja from kindergarten she runs to me yelling “Mummy! Mummy!” which is absolutely lovely. Other times she doesn’t want to come home at all. On those days she’ll develop a sudden urge to hide under the play sink, or under tables or a burning need to create all the things with the play-doh.

So it was last Friday and we finally managed to get out 20 mins after I had arrived. Once out the door Katja decided that she was not going to get the next bus, in fact she was not going to cross the road. She wanted to go “this way Mummy”, pointing up the street in the opposite direction to home. Since we had no plans and the weather was reasonable I decided to see where she would take me.

And she seemed to know exactly where she was going, round the corner and to the canal. At this point I thought I’d better check in.

Me: Katja, where are we going?
K: Alexander’s house
Me: Alexander’s not at home, he’s at Alexander’s kindergarten
K: Thinking… “Alexander’s m├Ądchen Mummy
Me: Alexander’s mummy is at work. There’s noone at home. We can visit Alexander another day
K: But Mummy, Alexander’s house is fun.
Me: I know, but Alexander is not at home so we can’t visit him

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At this she ran off ahead – stopping only to tell me “twenty-three seven” and then ran straight to the front door of Alexander’s flat where she pointed out the number 37 (twenty-three seven apparently). She then told me to “press the number, Mummy. Number 6”. Naturally this proved fruitless and it took a little bit more time to convince her that no-one was coming home soon and we should go and get the bus.

I have to admit I was gobsmacked. It’s fair enough that she remembers the way to the flats, but to know the block number AND the flat number is impressive indeed. I didn’t even realise that she’d paid any attention – shows you that you have to be really careful what you do in front of a toddler!

Wonder how she will cope when Alexander moves house in a week?

Knitting, Memory Monday, News & Updates

Week 2 – Christmas is over

tree

Christmas is over. And as per tradition here on the 5th or thereabouts most people pulled down their Christmas tree and decorations and dumped the tree next to their bin for collection by the council.

I have two issues with this. The first is that, well look at that tree – so much green left in it and it smells absolutely divine and yet there it is cast aside as worthless. If you are taking down because of tradition then why not keep the unadorned tree inside for a while and still get to enjoy it’s life?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.44.20The second is that this week there are several storm warnings. And the winds have been furious. Just look at this – a full sized bin knocked over by wind, and there were plenty more of those. Trees can become deadly in weather like that so to my mind they’re best left inside where they are not going to fly into a passing car.

Anyway, we didn’t do a Christmas tree this year because Elisa is at just the wrong age for it, although we will need to next year as Katja was so excited seeing them and kept pointing them out whenever we saw one. Instead we had lots of glittery stars hanging from the ceiling and I’m planning on moving those to the kids’ room to make it cosier.

And it now is a kids’ room – we moved Elisa in there on Thursday. I was sceptical as K gets so excited whenever she sees E and has had a few nightmares in recent weeks – they seem to feature bees or snails. I couldn’t understand who Wednesday night’s antagonist was. But so far it’s working really really well. It was lovely on Friday morning to hear that she had dreamt of “stickers, lots and lots of stickers with lots of colours”.

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The weather here is getting decidedly cold. Time to get out the woolies! Katja had a ball on Saturday when we got caught in a rather horrid sleety snow shower on the way home. She’s too young to remember previous snow so it was an exciting and new experience. We had to stop at very car on the walk so that she could grab some snow (which by then was a crusty layer of ice) so she could throw it in the air. Today the snow has gone, but no doubt there will be more given the weather warning sin place for later this week.

I remember the first time I saw snow. In Melbourne snow is something you go to, it doesn’t come to you. It was an exciting trip going up to the mountains and seeing snow for the first time. I remember having a hot chocolate and it was probably the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. I would have been about 10 or 12 then.

When was the first time you saw snow? Do you remember it? Do you like the snow?

On the craft front my two active projects are coming along. I’m currently working on a bunny doll for Elisa and a pair of socks for me. Next week I’m planning on casting on this hat – I’m looking forward to it but want to have the bunny finished before then if possible. I’ll be using the same colours as the picture, mainly because every time I come across a picture of it I think it’s gorgeous.

So what are your current creative projects? Do you have more than one project on at a time? Do you know what your next project will be?

Reading together
News & Updates, Tatting

Hello 2015

Reading together
Katja and Elisa Reading together

Welcome to 2015! Yes, here I am again trying to get this blog thing going properly. Last year was a bit of a fizzer in blog terms. I couldn’t even reliably post a single monthly post of pics so how on earth I figured I’d handle a 10 week long project is totally beyond me! Needless to say, one kid got sick. Then the other got sick and then I got sick (nothing big, just colds) and then Christmas happened and projects just fell off the truck.

Anyway, no apologies – no point really in apologising for putting family and life before blogging! Today I am full of motivation. I’ve cleaned the kitchen and done all of my other online chores. I’ve one child currently asleep and the other is drawing pictures for me. I’ve had one grocery shop arrive and another is due this afternoon – found out that one of the supermarkets has a very very good special on at the moment for stuff that we can buy in bulk so placed a special order. Oh and half of our regular nappy order has just been delivered as well. Love online shopping! So much done and I haven’t had to bundle kids into prams, negotiate buses and deal with tantrums.

Do you do your grocery shopping online or do you still physically go to the store?

This morning I’ve also rejoined the Ring of Tatters. This is a kind of last ditch thing for me. I’ve been a member for many many years but I’ve been increasingly unhappy with them. I have many gripes which I won’t go into as that would be unfair just now but my main issue is that I don’t seem able to get an email answered. I’ve sent quite a few over a couple of years – mostly in response to things in the newsletter along the lines of “for more information email…” and I’ve never once received a response. The Ring of Tatters has a library of physical books which, now that I’m living in the UK, I should have access to and yet for 2 years of trying I was never able to borrow anything using the process that they give of emailing the librarian. I’ve been feeling very ripped off as a result. But new year and we’ll see how they go this time.

Have you ever ben disappointed by a group that you’ve joined? Did you persevere and if so what was the result? or did you just walk away?

News & Updates, Parenthood

Pain in the Head… again

Migraine

Today is yet another migraine day. It started at 2am or thereabouts. I took the sumatriptan and managed to get back to sleep. At 6:30 it was still there, more sumatriptan but wide awake wee people means sleep is not an option.

This is the fourth migraine in the last week. I know that it’s hormonal – it’s the 3 month anniversary of Elisa joining us so my hormones are a total train wreck at the moment. But knowing the cause does not make them hurt less. It also doesn’t make it easier to deal with the accompanying fuzzy feeling, the lack of hand-eye coordination and the underlying terror that somehow my brain being out of action will lead to one or both of my children being hurt.

How could I hurt my kids? Consider these possible scenarios – How much formula did I add to the water? Walking through a doorway with a baby and missing the opening. Carrying children up stairs and missing a step. Not seeing a car on the road because of blind spots. Not being able to react fast enough to catch a toddler. Even once the pain has gone thanks to the drugs, the general brain wrapped in cotton wool effects will linger.

So today we do as little as possible. Cancelled my planned shopping trip. Cancelled hot lunch plans and cancelled playground trip plans. The goal today is simply to get through until Papa can get home from work.

News & Updates, Parenthood

Welcome Elisa

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As we headed into the hospital on Monday morning we had every expectation of being home on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. This expectation was based on prior experience – when induced for Katja I was delivered just 7 hours later. However it soon became clear that this would be a very different experience.

Finally on Thursday came the welcome news that my waters could be broken. We waited for Christian to finish up at home and make his way in and then we headed to delivery room 8.

Now I’ll spare you all of the details and just say that after my waters being broken it took just 4 intense hours until little Elisa was placed on my chest just past 1 on Friday morning. It was fabulous having Christian there – he asked for the morphine injection once he judged that my pain level was close to when I had needed it for Katja.

But that was not to be the end of the story. After being judged low risk and being installed in the birthing centre’s plush post natal ward I lost some blood, reckoned to be about a litre and enough that when you added my ghost white face and the fact that all I wanted to do was sleep meant that I was soon wheeled back down to a room where there were lots of machines going ping, hooked up to monitors and drips and became the centre of attention for a while.

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In the end it wasn’t until Sunday evening that they were finally happy with us leaving – an entire week in hospital, the longest I ever have spent before and hopefully the longest stint for a long time to come.

I have to say that all of the staff I encountered were absolutely wonderful, and all of the interactions I witnessed between staff and students (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is a teaching hospital) leave me confident that anyone who gives birth there in the future will also have as great an experience as possible.

My only complaints were that one of the meals labelled a “real Cornish pasty” really was not at all, and that one of the women on my shared ward decided that making a continuous round of shouty phone calls until past 11pm was an acceptable thing to do. Oh and the internet access was woeful – which meant that I couldn’t look up the how to vids and find out how to finish my socks!

Anyway, it’s wonderful to be home. It’s delightful watching Katja interacting with “Baby” and so lovely to have our completed family.

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News & Updates, Shopping

Online shopping delivery anger

A Tesco home delivery van

NB I started writing this on Wednesday 19th March but didn’t post it at the time.

As the deadline draws ever near why is it that time seems to shrink? It seems that these days whenever I blink three days rushes past!

This week I’ve managed to sort through all of MissK’s clothes and bundle them into bags for each size. Kids grow so fast in the first couple of years that you’re getting new clothes every couple of months. Luckily it also means that they don’t get time to wear out. And so MissK’s first clothes are now sitting in a draw ready for Bump with a few extras so that she has her very own instead of all hand-me-downs.

Meanwhile I’ve been getting more and more tired – exhausted is probably the better word. Sleep is almost impossible and I’m feeling just generally bleugh. Thankfully one thing I don’t have to do is the main supermarket shop – Sainsbury’s is due to deliver this afternoon.

When I first arrived in the UK I used Sainsbury’s for my online shop. I like their stores and generally like their own brand goods, but after a while the online offering proved to be too frustrating. Too often things would disappear from the online cart, or it would want me to reenter my password while I was actively using the site. In frustration I eventually turned to Tesco.

Since leaving Sainsbury’s I’ve regularly received vouchers – invariably trying to get me to either sign up for another nectar card or offering me money off my first online shop. Both are useless!

Then last week I logged on to check a price for something and they’re suddenly offering nearly 3 months of free delivery plus promising that the site has improved. (Hello, an email or a letter with that information would have been a good idea!) That’s a fairly good deal so this last week I’ve been doing my online shopping back with Sainsburys.

So far the website is behaving itself. However a lot of the products I liked to buy are nolonger available which is a bummer. After two home deliveries, here’s a comparison of the positive and not so positive points of both.

Sainsbury’s
– I like their home brand stuff
– Orange bags are pretty, much nicer for recycling as garbage bags than white ones
– They offer to take away old plastic bags
– Delivery guys carry all the individual bags up the stairs – OH&S nightmare!
– They seem to have a lot of delivery slots available when I need them
– One hour delivery slots are easier to fit into my life
– Website makes it easy to see what special offers you’ve qualified for
– Substitution would have cost me considerably more (from 1.67 up to 3.00), lucky I asked

Tesco’s
– able to have deliveries made without bags
– shopping delivered (with or without bags) in plastic crates and straight into my kitchen
– fridge/freezer items separated out with different coloured bags so that they’re easy to spot
– substituted items charged at same amount or less – I never pay more
– price promise works online, am sent an email with voucher code if appropriate
– price promise in store can be applied online
– send me vouchers regularly that are relevant
– website tells me what offers I’ve qualified for
– all of my loyalty card offers/vouchers are available

So, even though Sainsbury’s does have some good points, as soon as the free delivery thingy is over I’m heading straight back to Tesco’s. They have a much slicker operation and to be honest it’s the little things that make a huge difference. I can live with a 2 hour delivery window and pop by an actual store for the items that we prefer to have from Sainsbury’s rather than from Tesco.

Update – Monday 24th March
Just had another Sainsbury’s delivery. This time I’ve ordered some meats for the next few days, a fair bit of milk for MissK and a box of 24 cans of beer amongst the usual vegetables and other things.

The delivery guy showed up about 2 minutes early and then dumped all of the bags in the hallway outside of the front door. When it became clear that he was expecting that to be that I asked if he could give me a hand with them. I’m 39 weeks today by the way – blind Freddy can tell that I’m very very pregnant.

Well, he gave me the kind of look that made me wonder whether I’d actually said the words I thought I’d said, I mean maybe I’d meant to say “can you give me a hand with these” and instead out came “shall we go and kill your grandmother now?”. I then mentioned that I’m very pregnant and could he at least bring the heavy stuff into the hall.

So, he proceeded to drag the items just inside the front door before making off. No pleasantries, nothing.

So, now I have to weigh up – do I stick with Sainsbury’s for another 6 weeks until their free delivery window is over or do I pay for delivery and at least get things brought inside and a smile with my groceries?

The more I think about it, the angrier I feel. How dare he? It’s not like I was asking out of laziness. It’s not like I’m faking my condition – it ain’t exactly easy to bend down and lift up heavy bags and boxes when you have a fully grown baby inside you.