Here’s My Happy Face!

This is my happy face.

When the photo was taken (by brilliant Edinburgh photographer Margaret Clift McNulty), I had a happy face because it was the day of DorkySon’s Christening and I was having a wonderful time in the sunshine with family and friends.

Today I have a happy face because it has been a week of very good bloggity news.
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Blowing my own Trumpet

Toot Toot!

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of me warming up, because I’m about to blow my own trumpet for a minute. I’ve had an exciting writing week off-blog, and just wanted to share a few links with you.
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Guilty Pleasures

The blog prompt over at BritMums this week is ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and they suggest either a post recommending your Top 5 blogs, or a post describing what you’d do if you got a full day to yourself.

In a slightly loose interpretation of the theme, I’m going to list the Top 5 guilty pleasures that would feature if I got a day to myself. Because, y’know, they’re lovely folk over at BritMums and I hope they won’t mind me bending the rules slightly…

My fleecy dress

I love my fleecy dress. DorkyDad hates it. DorkySon hates it. Pretty much everybody except me hates it. It’s Bench branded, so I thought I might be able to find a Google image to share with you, but apparently it didn’t get pass their ugly-filter. My Mum bought the fleecy dress in a charity shop, about ten years ago. She wore it for a week or two before deciding it ‘wasn’t really her’ and passing it on to me. I’d just started university. I was eighteen, and a size eight, so it probably looked quite cute in a warm hippy kind of way. Now, ten years and one pregnancy later, it makes me look like a blue, slightly lumpy, fleece-wrapped sausage. But I love it. I can wear it over pyjamas when I’m making coffee in the morning. I can throw it over my jeans when I’m taking DorkySon to nursery (that whole school run fashion envy thing that other parent bloggers stress about hasn’t reached me yet…). On winter days it stops me getting that chilly strip around my waist when my t-shirt comes untucked from my trousers. It has survived numerous clothing culls. It will survive many more. I love my fleecy dress.

Chip sandwich

I’m lucky enough to be married to a brilliant cook. DorkyDad does nearly all the cooking in our house. He’s the kind of person who, rather than walking up the road for a fish supper, will buy fresh fish himself on the way home from work, mix up his own spices and flour for batter, heat the oil to exactly the right temperature, and produce something beautifully light, crunchy and tasty. If he is ever out for the evening, I am not even tempted to try and recreate his loveliness in the kitchen. Instead I indulge in one of my guiltiest pleasures: a chip sandwich. There are a few rules with a chip sandwich that must be adhered to. It has to be made with the cheapest, crappiest white bread. They have to be proper fat chips; not silly, skinny little fries. There has to be plenty of ketchup spread on one side of the sandwich, plenty of mayonnaise on the other, and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Ideally you should eat two of them, punctuated by a cup of strong tea, while watching a reality TV show.

Tumble dryers

I used to be quite green. In fact I used to be very green. I worked for a coalition that campaigned on environmental issues. I stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Scottish Green Party. I even went to the Arctic myself to see the effects of climate change on the ice cap. And, during that period of my life, I dried my clothes on radiators or hanging on a clotheshorse. They always ended up completely stiff. My jeans would stand up by themselves. My towels would leave pink welts across my skin when I dried myself after a shower because they were so rough. And I had to spend hours ironing out the strange creases in my shirts that resulted from them being hung up. But then we moved house… and the house had a tumble dryer. I had warm, fluffy towels in my life. I could wash my favourite sheets and have them back on the bed the same day, rather than having them dripping around the house for a week. I didn’t have to do any more ironing. There is an inverse relationship between my use of the tumble dryer and my participation in green politics; I am pretty sure that’s no coincidence.

Books

It’s a bit of a cheat to include this, because I don’t actually feel very guilty about it. For some reason books are the only things I can spend money on without a hint of remorse. DorkySon has cottoned onto this pretty quickly, and knows I will rarely refuse him a new book. Three-for-two offers, and Amazon’s one click ordering have made it even easier than it used to be, but to be honest there’s not much I like better than going into a proper, old, independent bookseller and paying full price for a hardback that has never been opened. I suppose I justify it as being in some way educational. That doesn’t really account for the copies of the Loose Women book, Jeffrey Archer’s Prison trilogy and David Beckham picture autobiography that are currently sitting on my shelves… but hey, I have a degree in English Literature. I’ve actually read Ulysses. Sometimes you need a break from all that literary merit nonsense.

Expensive Wine

As a student I used to drink some awful stuff; three quid bottles of wine that would have been better used as drain cleaner; 50p shots of vodka and tequila from the student union bar; supermarket own brand cider; whatever shockingly coloured alcopop was on offer in the clubs that weekend. I don’t know how my liver survived. Then I met and married a man who really knew his wine… so now I still feel guilty about my drinking, but only because I like the really, really good stuff. I am a sucker for a nice, oaky Californian Chardonnay. That said, I am not a wine snob. We went to a tasting once and I almost got thrown out for giggling (‘Oooh,’ I said, holding my glass up to my nose and trying to think of something appropriately pretentious to say. ‘It smells like rolling in hay on an autumn day.’ The serious-faced men and women around the table nodded along with me in agreement…). I feel like I am betraying my Bacardi breezer past slightly, but nice wine really is, erm, nice.

So I guess (in an attempt to stay on theme), in the unlikely event that I had a full day to myself I’d sit on the sofa in my fleecy dress… drinking wine, reading trashy books and pausing for the occasional chip sandwich. The soundtrack to the day would be the constant clanking of my tumble dryer. Don’t ever let it be said that I don’t know how to have a good time.

Kids and Photography

This is a guest post from Sylwia Presley, who blogs at SylwiaPresley.com. The photographs are all taken by her 5 year old son. Sylwia and I were paired as part of the BritMums Guest Post Match Up – I’d never read her blog previously, but I love her combination of parenting, photography and tech posts, and I’ll definitely be adding it to my bookmarks bar!

It’s one thing to write about kids and technology, and other to experience them working with it on a daily basis. My son is brilliant in embracing all buttons, screens and on/off buttons so you can imagine that it gives his photographer mom great pleasure to see the world though the lenses held by small hands of a 5 year old. In our house we do not really like or accept the idea of buying kiddy devices – huge, plastic, and always blue cameras for boys are in a way a waste of time for me, because I think we do not need to distracts kids from the bare message of the device. And so I have presented my son with my old digital Kodak letting him study the process of capturing the reality. It must be said that the idea of being allowed to take over “mom’s camera” made a huge impression on my son and he feels really important with it. No super expensive toy camera could have achieved that 😉

I think teaching kids to use digital cameras and the process of photography is more about the ritual and game, than the idea of yet another present. Celebrating the new activity together, walking in the park, experiences travel with your own camera on your shoulder is so much better! There is a good list of kick off tips on how to teach kids photography here, but I still think that it is a question of knowing your child and finding the right channel to introduce it as fun but also useful tool to collect memories.

We love sitting down with my son in front of my mac or with the display on his camera and browsing through his pictures. Apart form the fact that is is a great practice for his little brain and memory; it’s also a great bonding exercise. Not to mention the marvelous feeling of finally gaining a glimpse of how our little ones see us and the would around them. And that I tell you is a magnificent feeling! 🙂

A Quiet Week (ha!)

Sorry it’s been such a quiet week on here… here are my excuses for the lack of posts.

1. We are still recovering from last weekend’s wedding in Ireland.

2. I’ve been a bit wiped out – on a combination of codeine and antibiotics – because I’ve had an infected wisdom tooth. Ouch. If anyone has had their wisdom teeth out, please share your experiences (although not the gory details…) in the comments, to help me make my mind up about whether to do the same.

3. DorkySon’s sleep is the worst it has been since he was a newborn. Hello again 3am wakeups! And 5am too! And no daytime nap anymore! Urgh. I’m hoping it’s just the light nights, and come the dark Scottish winter he’ll back to his twelve hours a night again…

4. I’ve been writing guest posts instead of posts for my own blog. Lovely Scribbling Mum is taking a well-earned break next week, and I’ll have something up on her site on Tuesday. And I’ve been paired up with Sylwia Presley‘s excellent parenting, photography and tech blog for the BritMums blog match up, so I should have something up there next week too.

5. I’ve been helping DorkyDad get ready for his PBH Free Fringe Show – Young Dawkins – What I Know About Women So Far. Writing press releases, doing online questionnaires, chasing printers, emailing friends, creating Facebook event pages… so much going on and his run doesn’t even start for another fortnight! The spoken word section of the Fringe, and especially the Free Fringe, looks really good this year. I’m hoping to have time for a post this coming week detailing some of the shows I’m most excited about seeing.

6. And on that note, my biggest excuse for the lack of posts is that I’ve been trying to wrap my head around all the children’s shows at the Fringe, in preparation for my role as Kids Editor for Fest magazine. While I’m certainly not complaining about being asked to do such a fab job, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the shows with DorkySon, the prep work is time consuming and doesn’t really play to my natural strengths! Writing reviews – oh aye! Trying to pull together a review schedule for our six kiddy reviewers, and plan the pages for the five editions of Fest that will be published in the space of fifteen days?! Mmm, not so much! That said, the Preview edition was published this week, and looks fantastic. For a round up of the children’s shows, split into age ranges to make it easier to choose, check it out online here. And if you’re a visitor to Edinburgh and want to know the best places to eat, drink and escape the Festival crowds, check out this feature. And let that information act as my notice that it’s also likely to be pretty quiet on here over August…

7. Just to prove I’m not a total moaning Minnie, I’ll also share my highlight of the week, which was receiving an email from a friend overseas. She said that she’d just sat down and caught up with my life via this blog, and that it was almost as good as sitting down with me in person and catching up over a large glass of wine. Definitely the best blog compliment I’ve been paid so far, so thanks A!