A new blogging strategy, with Siri

I have so many thoughts bubbling around in my head each day where I think “this would make a good blog post” and then they’re gone because I don’t have anywhere to write them down.

The other night, I had the bright idea of just talking at Siri on my phone for 5 minutes – I knew I wouldn’t need to correct too many of the dictation errors if I was just taking blog notes, I’m usually pretty good at figuring out what Siri misheard.

I’ve just spent a half hour turning 5 minutes of notes into 6 blog posts, which I think is pretty good going!

Actually – I was pleasantly surprised by Siri’s accuracy in taking dictation into notes, except when I said that sentence there – ironically Siri didn’t recognise his own name! (My Siri is set up to have a male voice with a mild Australian accent. Much less irritating than the default!)

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Quick thoughts: Joys of parenting

1. Checking on Bookmark before I go to bed – I never used to do it, but now that we leave her to go to sleep by herself, I have to take away any leftover milk in the bottle that she will have put down beside the bed when she’s finished drinking it, otherwise she’ll drink the leftover overnight milk in the morning and I don’t want those stomach bugs. So I go in to her room at about 10pm, take away the bottle, find the spare dummies she’s strewn around the bed, and pull the covers up for her. Those 30 seconds bring me so much joy, and I go to bed in a much better mood as a result.

2. Potty training – an adventure, and we’re not done with it yet, but based on what I’ve seen so far, the 3 day potty training method by Lora Jensen is pretty good. We adapted it (and I didn’t buy Lora’s eBook, naughty me), and it was good for us.

3. Discovering a new nap strategy – going for a walk, followed by a bus ride. Bookmark has never been easy to get to go to sleep (I hear this is an oldest child phenomenon?), and naps won’t happen unless they’re in the pram. THFS and I and Bookmark have walked miles and miles along every street* in Lambeth and Westminster on weekends trying to make naps happen. Turns out, a short walk followed by a bus ride (she stays in the pram) works pretty well. Maybe we won’t cover quite so many streets in the next few months.

*I exaggerate slightly. But only slightly.

4. Pride in themselves when they get something right – when Bookmark does a puzzle by herself (the alphabet puzzle from this Argos set is our favourite at the moment), she’s so delighted with herself. It’s gorgeous.

5. Finding dummies everywhere, even in your overcoat pockets. At least half of all days, particularly on Mondays or after a day when I’ve been at home with Bookmark, I reach into my overcoat pockets and find a dummy (“pacifier” for our friends over the pond) hiding in there. I’ve found dummies under my bed, in the washing machine, in the washing basket, in drawers in the kitchen, and on every bookshelf in the house. I’m developing superpowers at remembering where I last saw one.

6. “pease” and “dank you”. So cute. Also “sorry Mama”.

Bullet journal update

I seem to have a spasmodic relationship with my bullet journal. I love the idea, I’ve got quite enthusiastic about it a few times, but I can’t keep up the consistent habit. I’ve realised a few problems with what I was trying to do:
– wanting to have it be pretty and coloured with my favourite Pilot v5 pens meant that I was carrying around not only the BuJo but also a pencilcase full of pens
– wanting it to be pretty meant that I never just got it out for 2 minutes to scribble something quickly
– using a grid-ruled Moleskine didn’t work for me – the lines were just too small, and I was forcing myself into handwriting that isn’t natural for me.

I just need it to be a notebook. I need to just write stuff in it and not worry about what it looks like. I’m not someone who likes colouring (I bought Bookmark a dinosaur colouring book and while it’s fun to do with her, it’s not something i would sit down to do myself), so I’m not someone who is going to fill pages with pretty doodles all coloured in.

When I bought the Moleskine, I also bought a cheap non-brand journal, lined, from the same store just because it was a nice colour; it has a pen loop on the outside. I have a set of nice biros from my previous job which fit the pen loop well.

So now I’m doing biro, all one colour, in this lined journal and it’s going much more consistently. It’s only been a few days so I guess I’ll have to report back in due course, but hopefully this is the start of a better relationship with my BuJo!

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!

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’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

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!