Sunday, April 25, 2010

April tweets

  • They say putting a baby to bed earlier than usual results in the baby's later wake up time. I wonder if the same principle works for adults?
  • I am so tired but the only thing stopping me from going to bed at 9pm is the fear that I will wake up fully rested at 5am...
  • ... Perhaps the next time M works late, I should try a super early bedtime. Just to see. 9pm seems like the perfect time.
  • Trying to enjoy new series of Outnumbered but those children are annoying me now & they're my worst nightmare of how Lil P could turn out!
  • Little P's directive to us this morning when we got her up - a single sentence: "Grobag off; go get milk; TV on." Who are we to deny her?!
  • Yesterday evening, on the way home from daycare, Little P looked up at the sky and started counting clouds: "1, 2, 3, 4". So delightful.
  • We've had a half day at work today due to moving offices, so I am now wandering around Bloomsbury before having to pick Little Planet up...
  • Korean lunch (spicy hot pot) at Biwon on Coptic St, then a demonstration of a Japanese tea ceremony at the British Museum...
  • ...A wander through the Korean and magnificent Chinese ceramic galleries; coffee and cinnamon biscuit at The Espresso Room on Gt Ormond St.
  • ... A stroll down Rugby & Lambs Conduit Sts, buying books and other goodies for Little Planet from the sweet Little Lamb Books...
  • ...To the Brunswick where I buy colourful blouse and dress & two t-shirts from the fabulous French Connection. Now heading home to my Lil P!
  • Friday 7.30pm: Little P's asleep, the garden is watered, M's on his way home, dal and rohu fish curry for dinner tonight (thanks Mum!).
  • Morning spent in Coram's Fields where Lil P enjoyed meeting the rabbits, sheep and goats; then we took her to meet Peppa Pig at John Lewis.
  • Went to the gym today during Little P's post lunch nap. First time at the gym in 2.5 years. Feel fantastic & plan on going 3 times a week.
  • 45 mins cardio, 15 mins weights. Need to reduce cardio & increase weights. This is a w/e workout; less time in the week - prob 40 mins max.
  • Seeds M has planted so far in our garden: 4 types of pumpkin & squash, broccoli, kale, spring onions, radishes, rocket & salad leaves.
  • A day in the garden. Such glorious Springtime weather.
  • Homemade chilli con carne and brown rice for dinner tonight. M's on his way home but unfortunately he has to work still.
  • Our offices have moved from Soho to Fitzrovia. Hurrah! Heal's, Planet Organic and Charlotte Street all on my doorstep!
  • Cranky, clingy, nappy rash, early waking. You'd think that after more than a year of experience we'd recognise Lil P's teething symptoms? No.
  • Client meeting ran over. Fortunately M could pick Little P up and put her to bed. So I took advantage and...
  • Saw the sumptuous and elegant Tilda Swinton movie "I Am Love", followed by won ton soup & sweet and sour chicken in Chinatown.
  • The Panorama programme shook me up. I'm now making sure Little P brushes her teeth AFTER bedtime milk rather than in the bath before milk.
  • London Zoo, gym, garden, Spanish omelette, glorious sunshine, a wonderful Saturday. And the day is still not over!
  • I almost forgot: Subho Noboborsho, Happy Bengali New Year! It's 1417!
  • Hmmm, M wants to watch David Lynch's Inland Empire movie tonight; I want to watch the disturbing but less convoluted Munich. Who will win?
  • Question for any gym bunnies out there. How do you stop yourself from over-eating after a gym session? I am now always ravenous.
  • Dinner tonight had a Spanish feel: Spanish tortilla, chorizo with olive oil & red wine, deep-fried calarami & aioli. Plus a robust Rioja.
  • Sunday activities: haircut for Little P, visit to M's sister and her boyfriend, gym, garden, visit from my mum, now roast chicken dinner.
  • 9.45pm North London, 20th April: Was that a plane I heard just now high in the sky???!
  • This month's Good Food magazine is particularly good. Tonight I'm making Spring vegetable tagliatelle with lemon, mustard & chive dressing.
  • Another dinner from Good Food magazine tonight: Fettucine with green lentils & lemon. Dying to eat but want to wait until M's back home.
  • M is bringing dinner home tonight. From Princi or Waitrose? Whatever, either passionfruit cheesecake or key lime pie will suit me fine.
  • This weekend is all about family: M's cousins on Saturday and my mum and dad's on Sunday (though M has to work on Sunday).
  • The weather in London was so glorious today. I don't think we spent more than an hour indoors and that was having showers and getting ready!
  • We're finally decorating the nursery & getting furniture, art, toys & books in there for her. To date it's just had her cot & old boxes in.
  • To date she's only slept in her nursery; now we want to make it her own special room where she can play, read, hang out in as well as sleep.
  • Homemade pizzas tonight for dinner, complete with homemade bases & tomato sauce: asparagus tips, artichokes, mozzarella & drizzle of pesto
  • Square Mile coffee first thing on a Sunday morning. Perfect. Today M is working, but Little P & I are going to enjoy at my mum & dad's.
  • Mum's made prawn masala curry & mixed vegetable curry with red spinach, sweet potato, runner beans, aubergine, mooli and bori for dinner :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A weekend in Spring

We've just experienced a perfect Spring weekend here in London. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, birds were tweeting, planes were streaking the sky, seeds were being sown, lawns were being mown, BBQs were lit, children were out playing, alot of DIY was being done, the parks were filled...

Saturday morning began with breakfast in the garden. Then we headed over to Coram's Fields - a children's park in the heart of Bloomsbury that is an oasis of calm first thing in the morning. Little Planet chased the goats, quacked at the ducks, stood in awe of the huge black sheep and chatted to the rabbits before running over to the sandpit.

Then we piled into a taxi and headed over to John Lewis on Oxford Street, where Little Planet had her feet measured and then met Peppa Pig in the toy department. Peppa Pig was rather big, with slightly scary, crazed eyes and huge feet. She towered over the children and though Little Planet was mesmerised and awestruck, she was also a little timid and kept her distance. But she obviously enjoyed the experience because she now can't stop talking about Peppa Pig whenever we ask her about her day yesterday.

Afterward, we bought wine, fresh fish, fruit (including rhubarb) and vegetables (including samphire) in the Food Hall before returning home. During Little Planet's post-lunch nap, M made bread and I went to the gym. I've been working out most of my adult life - waking up at 6am to do yoga or go to the gym since I was 16 (on and off). But when I got pregnant in 2007, I stopped and had not stepped back inside a gym until yesterday (on maternity leave, during Little Planet's first year, though, I did walk 3 hours a day pushing the buggy through heat and cold just to get out of the house). At the gym yesterday, I did 45 minutes cardio and 15 minutes weights and I felt terrific - exhilarated even. My plan is to go 3 times a week but cut down a little on the cardio and increase the weights session as I love feeling strong.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home in the garden. Little Planet played, I read the papers and M planted seeds: four varieties of squash and pumpkin, kale, broccoli, radish, spring onions, rocket and salad leaves. Once Little Planet had gone to sleep, M seared the tuna steaks we had bought earlier at John Lewis and served them with lightly steamed asparagus spears and samphire topped with dry-roasted black sesame seeds. For dessert he made rhubarb flan which we ate watching the beautifully-filmed Control - a movie about Joy Division's Ian Curtis who killed himself in 1980.

Sunday began with M going out for a run, me dusting and hoovering the house and Little Planet pretending to dust too. Then breakfast and a long read of the papers outside in the garden, shopping for meat and vegetables, then more time in the garden including lunch, then more time in the garden... you get the picture! I also slow cooked a chile con carne from Thomasina Miers' Mexican Food Made Simple, which we'll eat for one of our dinners this week.

It's nearly 6pm now. After we put Little Planet to bed, M will cook paella with monkfish, prawns and saffron from the Moro Cookbook for our dinner. It sounds yummy! Then we'll settle in with another movie.

I hope you also enjoyed good weather this weekend.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Benign neglect

As a child, I was a complete bookworm and still am today. I simply adored books: the pictures, the words, the imaginary worlds books conjured up in my mind. From an early age, my father read to me and also made up stories. I was a good reader by the time I started school at 4 years of age.

I played alot too: I had a core group of little friends and we would play in one another's houses and gardens, and also in the street. I was in daycare from 8 months old so I had lots of opportunities to play with others from an early age. But as I was also an only child of working parents, I quickly became proficient at playing on my own. I was always busy and enacted many make believe scenarios alone.

You see, my parents were not the type of parents to actively play with children. My memories of childhood involve long weekends playing beside them as they cooked, cleaned, gardened, read the papers, sat and chatted. Though they didn't play with me, they involved me in everything they did - from gardening and hanging out the washing, to going out shopping and visiting castles or museums or zoos or on holiday. They also talked with me alot. And, of course, read to me. But actually play with me? No.

I am convinced that my keen imagination, my love of books and my ability to play happily alone for hours on end from a very early age were largely due to my parents not hovering around me all the time.

I have my own child now and I have turned out exactly like my own parents: I love reading to Little Planet and have made it a habit of reading to her since she was a newborn. At 22 months (today!), she loves books - she has her favourites and she will pick books off the bookshelf and pretend to read. I also chat with her alot and have talked with her, again, since she was a newborn. The constant chatter has paid off: at 22 months she is talking in sentences, has a huge vocabulary and can happily tell me what she did this morning or yesterday when I ask her. And I've sung to her so much that she can now sing several songs and rhymes all by herself and unprompted.

But I am not and never have been good at playing with her. I show her how to play with things but then I step back and leave her alone to get on with it. If I see her struggling with something, I try and hold back and let her work it out herself. Other mothers I know were and still are forever getting on the floor and playing with their children, but quite simply I find it boring. I am happy to go to the park with her and chase her around the garden, and of course read to and chat and sing with her. But actually playing? I would prefer to read, write, cook, catch up on family gossip, generally relax. It's the weekend, for goodness sake!

Having said all that, as she gets older, becomes more communicative, more engaged and imaginative, it's much more of a pleasure for me to play and discover my own playful side. But...

I guess you would say that my style of parenting is of the "benign neglect" variety.* I don't feel guilty about this: she has five little friends who she plays with at daycare all week long; she doesn't need me to be another playmate. I like to think that if I was a stay-at-home-mum then I would play with her more but also that I would send her to regular playgroups, and still encourage in her long periods of independent play.

She's clingy when she's in a stroppy mood or feeling under the weather, but 90% of the time she plays terrifically well on her own. She has done since she was just a few months old. My little toddler is not yet two but she has what I consider to be a great gift for someone so young: she can potter around the house and play freely and contentedly for long periods of time on her own. Often whilst I am in another room, I can hear her chatting merrily to herself and to her toys. And when she needs me, she finds me ("Mummy, what you doing?").

This Easter Monday, for example, whilst I cooked, read and generally pottered about in the kitchen, she spent an entire afternoon in the garden wheeling her dollies around in their buggies, feeding them plastic and wooden food she had cooked for them in her saucepans, giving them a bath, changing their nappies, scolding them, cuddling them, giving them bottles of milk. She also sang songs, watched planes flying high in the sky, watched the "trees dancing" in the wind, ran up and down ("Ready steady go!!"), kicked a ball about and chatted to various imaginary people on her pretend mobile phone (really an old TV remote). Every so often she would wave at me and say, "Hello Mummy!" and every so often I would go out to help her wash her dolly or simply to have a cuddle and a chat.

Her ability to play independently and her imagination, for a 22 month old, is amazing. And I am convinced it is largely because I simply let her be.

* Another example of my benign neglect style of parenting is that I have never childproofed our home: no stairgates, no DVD protectors, no cupboard childproof locks, no keeping precious ornaments out of her reach... Ever since she started to crawl, I warned her away from certain areas or things and it's rarely been a problem. It means that when she visits other people's houses, she knows instinctively what is off limits to her. At daycare, she's not the toddler trying to open cupboards or stick pencils into the DVD or reach up for the framed photo on the shelf. Certainly my own parents never childproofed our houses when I was young. But perhaps this is another post.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Revolutionary tweets

Twitter has revolutionised the way I chronicle my life. Before I discovered Twitter for myself - years after everyone else, it seems - I had to keep note of everything I did in a notebook and later in the Notes app on my iPhone. And then I would collate these notes into a post for this blog.

Now I can Tweet as I go about my life and simply copy and paste (with a little editing down) into this blog. It may be a lazy way of blogging, but then blogging can be seen as a lazy way of keeping a diary. And in all honesty, without the ease of Twittering I doubt I would be able to blog as frequently as I am able to do.

There is another reason why I copy and paste most of my Tweets into this blog and that is that one day soon I will self-publish this blog in print form as my own personal record of the last six years of my life - and boy what a last six years these have been!

March tweets:
  • My 2nd ever Mother's Day was wonderful. 21 month old Little P presented me with a handpainted card complete with painted handprint. Then....
  • ...Mr P took myself, Little P & both her Grandmas out for a Turkish lunch. Delicious minced lamb and chicken kebabs, hummus & baklava.
  • The 1st colours Little P was able to identify were not the typical primary colours we expected but pink, purple, black, brown, grey, white.
  • Little P loves singing (loudly!) & can sing Old MacDonald, Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle, Row Your Boat, & Baa Baa Black Sheep.
  • Little P loves dancing. She has a unique style like old black men from the deep south twisting & shaking their bodies to the Devil's tunes.
  • All her little buddies jump up & down to music; not Little P - she twists and turns and shakes her limbs like a possessed child!
  • Had my 1st embarrassing moment in public with Little P today: I was wheeling her home from daycare when we passed a boy & his older mum...
  • ...Little P pointed to the pair exclaiming "Boy! Boy" Then JUST as the older mum passed us, Little P pointed up at her & stated "Grandma!"
  • ...Little P's voice was so loud, the mother must have heard, but I was too mortified to look back :-0
  • A girl told me that she doesn't want kids because she doesn't want her life to change. But what is the point of life if it remains the same?
  • I value thinking time in work so highly that it's priceless. It's shocking that there is so little time to think at work!
  • To think deeply I go to the office toilet, for a walk, or have a document open and pretend to be looking at it...
  • But mostly I do my deep work-related thinking after/outside work because at work you have to be busy all the time (so crazy!).
  • Jury service is over. It was intense but so interesting that I want to do it again. However, we didn't come up with a majority verdict...
  • ... The case was so complex even the judge admitted its complexity. The case is now up for a retrial so I still can't discuss it.
  • Grandma is looking after Little Planet today so Mr Planet and I are off into town.
  • Strolling along the Southbank, a leisurely read of the papers in Benugo (bfi), blown away by Gerhard Richter's Cage paintings at the Tate.
  • Lunch @ The Swan at The Globe: fish cake with poached egg & hollandaise; smoked mackerel salad; sticky toffee pudding & honeycomb ice cream.
  • Provisions from Borough Market: enoki, oyster, shitake mushrooms; thyme; rhubarb; Burnt Sugar fudge. 3pm: Now home to play with Little P.
  • Sea salt fudge by Burnt Sugar = delicious!!
  • Poule au pot with homemade aioli for dinner tonight, followed by Waitrose key lime pie.
Easter tweets:
  • Lovely day spent with my parents. Little P especially enjoyed eating my mum's khichuri (a spiced lentils & rice dish with peas & potatoes).
  • Tonight's dinner was yakitori (chicken thigh meat skewered with spring onions, chicken livers skewered with asparagus) with tare sauce.
  • In the UK, we have Good Friday and Easter Monday off, so it's a 4 day weekend for us. We have no plans other than serious chilling.
  • Our plan to holiday in Hong Kong in October has been postponed to January 2011 as the case M will be working on will coincide. So instead...
  • ... We will plan a couple of European holidays this year. I'm thinking of Amsterdam and Istanbul as I've visited neither city.
  • Almond croissant & orange juice @ Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast in Holborn before getting my hair done @ Aveda.
  • Coffee beans from Monmouth & bath, hand & face products from Kiehl's in Covent Garden (including the much hyped acai moisturiser).
  • After all my years living in London, I have finally stumbled upon Ziggy Stardust's red telephone box in a dark corner of Heddon Street!!!!!
  • I am so happy they have not knocked down Ziggy's telephone box :-)
  • Ilya & Emilia Kabakov's sublime The Flying Paintings, in Sprovieri gallery. Idealised Russian scenes floating within white space. Ethereal.
  • Zara's new home collection is so bright and colourful and Summery.
  • Pizza lunch @ Il Baretto then shopping in Marylebone: fillet steaks @ Ginger Pig, cheese @ La Fromagerie, clothes for Lil P from Bonpoint.
  • Also bought books for Lil P from Daunts: Dr Seuss' Daisy-head Mayzie, Curious George Feeds The Animals, Harry & The Dinosaurs Go To School.
  • Pretty photo frames @ The White Company, tarts @ Paul. Enough shopping! Returning home to enjoy time in the garden whilst weather is fine.
  • After a great morning shopping, a delightful afternoon in the garden: M planting seeds, Lil P pushing her dolly in its buggy, I was dozing.
  • I've finished cooking tarka dal, lamb korma & aubergine curry with tamarind and coconut for tonight's Easter dinner for M & I & 3 guests.
  • Lil Planet enjoyed her Mr Potato Head Easter egg this morning but thankfully isn't yet bothered about chocolate. She ate just a small piece.
  • This Easter morning we spent a few hours in the park chasing Little Planet through the muddy field. She laughed so much. She is such a joy!
  • Now it's 2.30pm and Little P is napping. Peace and quiet subsumes the house for an hour. Lovely!
  • 10am Easter Monday: M & Little P are in the garden. M is mowing the lawn, Little P is pushing her dolly in the buggy and throwing her ball.
  • And me? I'm inside, curled in the sofa, reading the weekend papers cover to cover. Apart from having been up since 6.30am, this is the life!
  • When the wind shakes the branches of the trees, Little Planet exclaims, "The trees are dancing!". I love seeing the world through her eyes.
  • It's park time!
  • Bratwurst, mashed potatoes and mustard for dinner tonight, followed by mixed berries crumble. The end to a lovely and quite relaxing Easter.