Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Orla is a lovely 4!

Just a very quick post, as I should really be packing. I had a lovely weekend with my friends in Derby. I managed to read a whole book without even trying 'Stasiland' by Anna Funder. I loved it. It's stories of the people who lived behind the Wall and either had encounters with the Stasi or worked for the Stasi. I wanted to read more. But anyway, I read, I chatted, I moaned, I ate lovely food, I drank lovely wine, and I even did a little shopping.

I got back and it was lovely to see the kids, and then I had to get busy again in time for Orla's birthday the following day. I had two cakes to bake and her presents to wrap. And her Kita party to prepare for. I stayed up until 11:30 trying to decide whether I needed to make another cake, because I wasn't sure if there would be enough to go round everybody at Kita. But luckily tiredness kicked in, and I couldn't have cared less whether there was enough. Plus, I ran out of eggs.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my return was extra hectic as Stevie decided he was ill as soon as I got back and took to his bed the moment I got through the door.

So then yesterday we celebrated Orla's birthday and all had a lovely time, and then today I've been getting ready to leave again tomorrow for Scotland. That's the quick run down. I'll be back on the 10th April. Bis gleich!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Tschuss Berlin, hello child-free weekend!

That's all the money I'm taking, so the presents will be rubbish, kids

I am dreading it. Suddenly I have a big knot in my stomach that's telling me I really should just hang about here with the kids, and not go galavanting off to see my friends in Derby. Eek. Though I am looking forward to seeing them (loads - in case any of them are reading this), and I am looking forward to having some good sleep, and I am looking forward to reading a magazine on the plane without two smallish people climbing over me non-stop.

But, I'm not even properly packed yet, and already I'm missing them!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The rain in Berlin falls mainly on the graffiti-covered buildings

This morning I took Orla for her U8 check. I was a little early and decided to take a look at the second hand toyshop across the road from the doctors and ended up dragging a balance bike into the doctors as well. The U8 is basically a development check for 4 year olds. The usual things: eyesight, hearing, speech, height, weight, head circumference, counting, building towers, and drawing, and copying shapes.

She did outstandingly well, and I say this not only because for once she wasn't totally bottom of the scale in both height and weight. Incidentally I thought this was particularly fantastic as compared to the average German we are all slightly lacking in the height department. So small are we that poor, poor, teeny-tiny Stevie (5'8") can't get jeans to fit because the legs are all too long here.

So after excelling in the height test, she also did magnificently in the hearing test, which came as a complete surprise to me as she seems deaf to any of my requests or instructions. Anyway, she managed to do the test in German. She had to listen to a recording and as they mentioned various items she had to point to them on a chart. She also did the speech test in German where she had to say the names of about 25 things in German. There were about 2 things she wasn't sure about - Hammer/eh... Hammer, and Roof/Dach, but I thought her vocabulary was pretty top notch. I noticed that she said "Deine..." in front of everything (your...) and likes to add an occasional 'e' to the end of words. Not a bad rule of thumb if in doubt with German words.

Anyway, our lovely Doctor thinks she has a problem with her enunciation, and has recommended that I take her to a speech therapist. He thought I could wait until September, but as September is when she starts school, I thought it might be better to give it a go before then, rather than have it interfere with the start of school. When I told him this, he did the German/American thing, and argued with me that no, she wasn't starting school in September. I have had this argument with so many Germans and Americans, that this time I just agreed with him. Because of course I'm wrong and have enrolled her in school just for her to turn up on the first day and be told she's 2 years too early. Actually that's the kind of thing I am well known for myself, so normally I'd say they might have a point, but on this occasion, yes, it's true, she is exceedingly young, but that's how they do it in England.

I'm not particularly fussed over the speech therapy thing. I don't really think she has a problem. She just sounds a little unclear at times but it's more because it's still a baby-ish voice and I imagine it'll resolve itself in time. But as we'll get it paid for through our health insurance then I don't see any reason not to give it a go, and maybe improve her speech before she starts school. It certainly won't do any harm.

At the end of all the tests she got given her usual Gummi Bear and this time she also got given a little clasp for her hair. I'm sure in the UK she'd be getting another little pile of books (via Bookstart), so considering we'll probably be billed for the clasp, it feels like we're being short-changed. I think the Bookstart scheme is excellent in the UK and I always looked forward to the kids getting a free little pile of books.

Anyway, I shall book her in for a little speech therapy in April and see how it goes.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

DSD - The Harlem Globetrotters

Yeah, yeah, I know. The Harlem Globetrotters isn't your kind of thing. Heard it already. And I already said, "You are going to change your mind when you see my big foam finger!". Or rather, you would if I had one.

What's wrong with the merchandisers these days? Don't they know what the customer (i.e. me) wants? Apparently they think we want hugely expensive t shirts and basketballs. Actually they did have a cute tiny t-shirt that Hamish could have grown into, but I would have had to sell one of Stevie's kidneys to get it, and the print looked like it might come off after a couple of washes.

So this was my big 'Do Something Different' thing. I saw a poster for the Harlem Globetrotters in the U-Bahn and thought I really have to go and see them. So we did. Not exactly my thing, nor Stevie's thing, but that was the whole point. Now that we have discovered the joy of babysitters (thankyou, lovely Sarah!) we are making the most of our time here in Berlin and trying out new stuff.

The 'show' had started just before we arrived and after the first couple of minutes I turned to see Stevie's face kind of mangled into a why-the-hell-did-you-bring-me-here look. I was kind of wondering the same thing but as it was my idea I managed to intercept this thought before it hit my face. You see for us, we hadn't really known what to expect, and what we got was akin to a Disney-teenage-film version of a basketball match. It could almost have made for real cringe-worthy viewing, had we not got dragged into sharing the German audience's enthusiastic response.

The Globetrotters played the part of the naughty, cheeky, good guys. The referee played the grumpy, appalled master, and the other team, well they just made sure they didn't upstage the Globetrotters. So there were antics, floating balls, water being thrown about, tutus, costumes getting ripped off, and lots of fancy ball moves. And it turned out it was great. We really enjoyed it.

The music was brilliant, the audience participation was funny, I can't fail to be impressed by someone hanging off a basketball hoop upside down, and on top of that it made us realise that we actually wouldn't mind watching a 'proper' basketball match, or going and seeing something at the Olympics. (Now that would be different!).

One of the best bits was near the end when they brought another little boy down from the audience to participate. They handed him a ball, and I thought they were going to do that thing where one of them lifts the boy up so that he can just pop the ball into the hoop. But when they handed this little 8 year old the ball, he just launched it at the hoop and it went straight in! The whole audience went crazy, and the Globetrotter that had selected him started screaming "Mein Sohn!" (my son!). It was so cool, and I bet he's had a great time today telling all his friends at school.

So there you go. It was ace. We had loads of 'Disney-fied' fun, and in actual fact would consider going to see them again when the kids get to about 8 or 9 and would utterly love it. I better get a big foam finger next time though.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Hamburg - a whistlestop tour

Hamburg streets (the kids are running off 200m to the left)

Riverside apartment living (The kids are being held on to very tightly by their father and are wriggling and screaming 50m to the left)

More cool apartments (kids still going bananas as above)

The Police Station (the kids are running off and moaning about the sun 100m to the left)

Yesterday we went to Hamburg. I was humungously excited, especially as I'd got it confused with Dusseldorf, which is nowhere near it and probably nothing like it. The trouble is that I was aware they both had docks and I had initially known that Dusseldorf has some gorgeous Frank Gehry architecture at it's docks, and then over the mists of time (ok, the past month or two) somehow I started thinking they were in Hamburg.

Luckily for the rest of my family, I did some checking (which is highly unlike me) on the internet on Friday night and discovered my error, otherwise I would have had them trekking for hours round the docks in search of non-existant buildings.

Our plan had been that I would book a hotel room during last week and we would stay overnight. But with the general lethargy of being under the weather I just didn't get on to it, so we decided we would just chance it and get a room when we got there. But oh, what a horrible journey. Don't get me wrong we enjoyed flying along the Autobahn, scooting past endless flat fields, and seeing all the wind farms on the way, but Hamish had decided this did not fit with his plans for the weekend (I don't want to go to school, I want to go see baby animals) & did nothing but moan for the entire journey, and once we arrived in Hamburg, Orla decided it was her turn to have tantrums, scream and be generally horrible.

Stevie and I both felt worn out and even though our first stop was lunch in a thankfully empty cafe, we both thought it might be an idea just to finish up quickly and go home.

Hamburg was lovely. A nice mix of modern and old. Lovely waterways and attractive buildings. I spent a fair amount of my time fuming though as the kids kept running away and not coming back. Despite enjoying fuming through the city with it's Elle Decoration-like riverside view apartments, and the Habitat I had to speed round and hastily murmur "Oh I like that!", "Oh I need those", "Oh, looking at this sofa I do realise I miss the UK", I think we were glad to get back home. Stevie and I were both drained by the kids, and we've realised we 'may' need to re-evaluate our plans of visiting more German cities over the summer if this was a blueprint for how the kids would be. Stevie is currently lying in bed trying to work out how we can navigate the whole of Germany incorporating a trip to German Legoland just to keep the kids happy. He may be some time, I imagine it requires some serious inventiveness.

And today, in a return to normal programming, we will be visiting some baby animals. And having an easy life. Aah!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Aspartame, you were my first love

In the days when we bulk bought

My love affair with aspartame started when I was just 11 years old. It was the summertime, the perfect time to enjoy a nice warm can of 1Cal. 1Cal as I recall was one of the first brands of 'diet' drinks. It came in very few flavours, those I can't remember. Anyway, this was around the time when I became diabetic. When eventually I discovered (though probably not much later, but in child years it seemed an age) you could get Diet Coke, and much later, Diet Irn-Bru (Scotland's other national drink, as they say) it revolutionised my world.

Diet Coke according to the UK website was first introduced into the UK in 1983, and nowadays apparently "more females drink Diet Coke every day than any other soft drink brand". I certainly fit into that category.

Some 20+ years later, I have at last listened to my mother's incessant nagging that she's sure aspartame isn't good for me and I have stopped. Totally and utterly. I stopped the Diet Irn Bru addiction a while back due to the lack of availabilty in Germany. But the Diet Coke habit did continue.

In actual fact it wasn't my mother's nagging that has made me stop, but an email that I got from a friend that made me actually think and consider that there was a possibility that aspartame was affecting my health. This email looked totally like one of those typical spam emails that you get with about 4 different font sizes used, and usually I wouldn't have read it. But I did, and there was the usual thing about how this guy's sister was practically at deaths door, could no longer walk, etc, etc, and suddenly he remembered an email from a friend he had got about aspartame poisoning and he told her to stop drinking diet drinks. So blah, blah, blah it goes on and then it starts listing some symptoms. Oh because in this email it says that the aspartame breaks down in your body into formaldehyde etc, etc, and goes on to say that it can present problems in a person that may seem an awful lot like lupus or MS.

So here's the thing with me. Over the past few months every morning I wake up and I get out of bed and my feet are really stiff and I feel like I am near enough hobbling about until they ease off. I've also had some stiffness in my fingers since I think about January last year, which I put down to carrying really heavy shopping baskets daily in Tesco.

Anyway, these sort of symptoms are sort of (I wouldn't say directly) mentioned in this email, so I thought 'rather than worrying when I've got too much time to think, that I've got arthritis, I might actually stop my intake of aspartame and see if there's any difference'. So I have stopped, and haven't had any Diet Coke for 3 days and already I am not getting the stiff feet thing in the morning, nor in my fingers. Isn't that odd?

I have to say, I did drink a massive amount of Diet Coke. It wouldn't be unusual for me to drink 2 litres nearly a day. So I am going to stay off it (though I have to say I am missing it terribly) and see how it goes. But I am completely surprised by the change in how my feet feel in the morning. I'm also wondering whether now I'm not topping myself up with formaldehyde on a daily basis whether I suddenly start aging dramatically. I'll do an update in a few months and see how it's going.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

An apple a day...

photo & artwork copyright of Tiel Seivl-Keevers just what I need right now.

I've been a little off-colour over the past couple of days with a stomach bug. Today at least I managed to get out of bed. To cheer myself up I bought myself a lovely apple from one of my favourite artists, Tiel Seivl-Keevers from Australia. She has a few of these in her Tsk Tsk Petite shop, and really I would love to buy another 3 of them as I think they would look lovely either grouped in a square or in a horizontal line.

I love Tiel's work and the fact that she has managed to produce artwork & build a business while having two children leaves me somewhat in awe of her. She's started producing gorgeous paintings and artworks for her other store Tsk Tsk. I love these. I hardly dare look at them because I can't afford them. And then I do go and look at them and I think "hmm...but I could get one of the '8 days a week' prints that I bought for my sister for myself", and then I have to stop myself. Paypal is so easy and such a dangerous thing.

Monday, 14 March 2011

I take a break from German.

So, this weekend I made a decision, and once I'd made it I felt so much better, and a weight that I hadn't really known was on my shoulders was lifted. I decided to quit German... for a while. I have just started B1 (my 21st week of intensive German), but I felt as though I hadn't grasped enough of the previous 20 weeks to really keep going forward and take the B1 exam.

I find that with the kids I don't get a chance to study in the afternoon, and then by evening I'm usually too tired to really take much in. I do the work, but even I know that it's not sticking, and sometimes if I am especially tired and just need to get it done for the next day, then I rely rather heavily on the answers at the back of the book just so I can get to bed sooner.

I've also missed a few days of late with Hamish being ill and that doesn't help. So I thought things over and really the only thing that was keeping me there was the fact that I really like my teacher and the people in my class, and that I want to get to the B2 exam before the end of the year.

So I checked the calendar and worked backwards from December and realised that I could afford to take a few months off and go over what I should have learnt and have a break too.





So I went today and postponed the weeks I have left and re-booked for June. I felt I really needed to have a date for going back otherwise it might be too easy to let it slip (and also not study). And then I met my classmates for coffee and said my goodbyes, though I am hoping we'll still keep in touch. And now I feel like I am on holiday. Yippee!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

"Wonderfully translated by John E. Woods"

Wednesday night was book group night. I go every month, but last night was a special event. One of our group is a good friend of the literary translator John E. Woods. He was asked if he would like to select one of 'his' books for us, and perhaps come along to our group and tell us all about his work. I was looking forward to hearing all about his work, as as a German learner I'm wrestling with the grammar every day and increasingly realising how hard it is to directly translate phrases and sentences that I would say in English but which just don't work in German.

John is an American living in Berlin who translates from German into English. He's pretty famous in the translating world, but he's a modest guy, and comes across as utterly charming, fantastically interesting, and the type of person that you'd kill for at your dinner party.

I have to admit though I wasn't completely looking forward to last night. The book he chose for us to read was Ingo Schultz's '33 Moments of Happiness'. As I said on my book list, for me it was like 33 moments of unhappiness, and I literally had to force myself to read it. Briefly, it's a series of short stories capturing small moments of the lives of people living in St. Petersburg all set around the late '80's and early '90's during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Anyway, I just didn't like it. And I couldn't finish it. And I felt like I should because we had the translator coming and it would be rude not to. But I couldn't, so I half thought that I might not go. But I am so glad I did.

Normally, as with everywhere I go, I turn up late. But last night I was nice and early and turned up just behind our special guest and his friend. Literally, just behind, as in 4 steps behind on the escalator. So I called to them and he introduced himself and I introduced myself and he told me that I was "the one person in the group he'd heard all about", and went on to comment on my "beautiful accent", etc, etc. See what I mean? Totally charming. I'm sure he would have had something lovely to say to whichever one of the group had been in my shoes, but what does it matter: he charmed me!

So then we joined the group in our little reading den and the normal routine is that we go round and say whether we liked or disliked the book and in 3 sentences more or less, say what we thought, before we get into a real discussion over it. I was sat at the end of the semi-circle and totally avoided eye contact with everyone when this came up as I so totally didn't want to be the one starting off with "Well, I hated it, so much that I couldn't finish it....", so lucky for me the person at the start of the semi-circle did it and it turned out she hated it too. In actual fact there were very few people who had finished it, and not many who liked it, so by the time it got to me, quite honestly it didn't matter what I said.

Anyhow John started off telling us about how his career began. (I wish I'd taken notes, I'll probably be a bit wrong). He started off wanting to be a writer, but quickly came up against writer's block. He then moved to Germany for a while where he took an intensive German course with the Goethe Institute. The secret to his excellent German he says is that he married his German teacher. Because he felt he was going nowhere as a writer he decided to try his hand at translating a german book by Arno Schmidt. Once he'd worked his way through it he approached a publisher who loved it and published it.

John managed to build his career from this point. He was able to secure a long term contract with this publishing house and also managed to secure a long term contract with the Arno Schmidt Foundation to translate his works. By doing this John has become one of very few translators to actually make a career out of translating. He says that it is very difficult for others who have to go from contract to contract and that there is generally little money in it, but that he has been fortunate. At nearly 70 years old he is looking forward to his retirement, though as an avid reader he won't be putting down the books.

We enquired about his method of working. He says he has always been the type of person who has been able to get up in the morning, have breakfast, then sit down and get stuck into his work. He normally manages to translate around 5 or so pages a day, and in the evening he reads his work aloud, and if he stumbles or hesitates over any part, then he knows there's something wrong with it.

He talked about the differences in the languages, of how you can't ever do a 1:1 translation. There are far more words in English than there are in German, and it's not just the words that you are trying to translate but the author's voice, the 'feel', and I wish I could remember the word he used to encompass all of this, but basically all of the above plus the culture too. It'll come to me, and I'll change it when it does. He spoke of how in German you can create sentences that have a real 'punch' at the end, but when translated into English just don't do that. That he has to find other ways to recreate that feeling or provide something that creates the same punch through the words. He says where German has it's grammar, English relies on it's syntax.

He told us how each year around 300-400 books are translated from foreign language into English and of these perhaps only 30-40 are German. On the reverse he thinks that there are approximately a couple of thousand books translated from English into German. Apparently, we English speakers just aren't that interested in reading books which have been translated, which seems a shame really, because I am sure we must be missing out.

I asked John how he felt about reviews of the books he had translated. Did the books feel more like 'his' books, and did he then take the review more personally as they were essentially 'his words'? He said in terms of reviews of 'the translation' normally these didn't extend beyond one or two words, either "Beautifully translated by..." or "A terrible translation..", but I meant more than that. Without it being a one-to-one translation, surely an English review is commenting on more than just the original author's work. Ah yes, he said. When they write "This author's prose is beautifully crafted" I do think 'But that's my prose!'. Translation is certainly not a job for those seeking glory and praise.

John talked more about his life and his career and about the books of Ingo Schultz, whom he counts as a good friend. He meets up with him while translating his work to discuss areas which he needs clarification on and to discuss the translation. He says this is so useful as most authors he translates are dead and he doesn't have the opportunity to get more of an understanding of phrases which may seem ambiguous. Although, he says, sometimes it is easier this way as he can interpret things as he chooses.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and listening to John E. Woods. It's not often that I meet people who I think afterwards that it was a real honour to meet, but he was certainly one of them. John plans on retiring soon, and is working on his final translation, Arno Schmidt's 'Zettel's Traum'. As a final question, I asked him what he enjoys reading, outside of translating. He brought a book from his bag and showed us: 'The Yiddish Policeman's Union' by Michael Chabon - more than just a good detective story. I think I might try it!

Of course as we packed up our books and all got ready to leave, we all thanked John for a great evening. I said that when he next meets up with Ingo Schultz to be sure to tell him that we all loved his book. Though perhaps I said it with a grin!

You can read a little more about John E. Woods on The Local - Germany's news in English

Time flies when you're potassium-enriched.

My Orla, my Orla.

Isn't it odd how one minute you are up to your eyeballs in nappy changes and bemoaning the number of times the same shoulder has been puked on in the one morning, and then all of a sudden you turn around and you're signing the school bus contract for this September?

You'd think that by now I'd be getting marvellous sleep then, wouldn't you? Last night Hamish came through and joined me in the bed at 3am and wanted to chat. At 3:30am he eventually told me the reason why he couldn't sleep and had been chatting for 30 minutes: he needed a banana. At 3:31 I stood in the kitchen peeling a banana. At 3:32 I returned to my bed to find Hamish lying fast asleep in my place, so I sat on the edge of the bed and ate a banana in the middle of the night.

Then I went through to the spare bedroom and fell asleep and around 4:15am I woke up to the sound of Orla stage whispering in my ear "I've been to the toilet all by myself and I have done a wee-wee". For me, no news is good news. When do you actually get a good night's sleep? Will I ever get to boast to the other mummies "Yes, Orla was sleeping through at 8 years!"

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"Everyone's going to tell me I'm so beautiful!"

Throwing some witchy shapes

Im Shrank, not wanting to go home

It was Karnival day today at Kita to celebrate Fasching. Orla has been super excited by this for about a week. And for once Hamish actually wanted to go to Kita. But I think he thought we were all going to party together. His first disappointment was that I didn't get dressed up as a tiger or a baby jaguar this morning, and his second was when he found out our contribution to the buffet was to be 3 jars of olives, and not three massive bags of Smarties.

Orla was over the moon to be heading out into the streets of Berlin dressed as a witch. I was totally behind her when she exclaimed joyously "Everyone's going to tell me I'm so beautiful!". Indeed they are, my love, and then they're probably going to ask why you've not got any 'Handschuhe' on seeing as it's still a bit parky out.

Hamish decided that he would fox everybody and go as Iggle Piggle from In The Night Garden. It was that or a spider, and I think it's just as well the spider costume didn't win as it's both completely synthetic and padded thus making for a super-sweaty Hamish - though perhaps better for the German weather outdoors.

Only one boy from Guana knew who Hamish was. The teacher asked Hamish to sit on her knee and tell her all about his costume. But I doubt even I could describe what happens in In The Night Garden in German especially that whole weird thing they have going on with the scale of everything.

Anyway, they both had loads of fun and when I came to collect them they locked themselves "im Shrank" because they wanted to stay longer. The most successful day at Kita I think we've had, I'd say! If only every day could be a party.

Orla's Doll's House - Totally, utterly finished

It's done. The client 'amends' were submitted and agreed, and I finally finished Orla's dolls house. I like it. I sat on the floor in her room in the dark last night, painstakingly setting out all 100 little bits of furniture so that it would be ready for her to play with today.

I think she got to see it all set up beautifully, but perhaps only briefly, because then I saw that Destructor Boy had been in and sorted it back out onto the floor probably in a fraction of the time that it took me. Oh, those pesky kids!

Monday, 7 March 2011

DSD - The Night (Afternoon) of the Jumps

It looks like springtime at the O2.

Blue skies and the promise of warmer weather. Yay!

Wow! That's mighty impressive!

Hmm...ok, now I want to hear the crowd collectively gasp when you fall off and break something.

So March is turning into my 'do something different' month. Living in a capital city gives us so many more opportunities to try out different things; things that for us living in Derby wouldn't be on our doorstep (or just 2km away). Normally we would have to travel to go to things and we wouldn't then just think 'ok, let's just do it' we'd probably be wondering 'hmm, is it really worth it?'.

So anyway, towards the end of the month we're going to something that I would never normally go and see. For starters, it'd probably be in London, and then I wouldn't even have bothered because it's not something I am desperate to see. It's a one-off thing, and I'm very excited about it, but I am keeping it secret. For now.

But yesterday, we went to the O2 and saw 'The Night of the Jumps'. This was Stevie's choice. In all honesty neither of us is into motorcross, or stunt bikes or whatever it was that we actually saw, but it was a lot of fun.

The first 10 minutes we sat with our stomachs and hearts lurching as these guys flew through the air, let go of the bikes and then re-mounted mid-flight, did 360 degree backward rotations, and all sorts of other stuff. But 20 minutes in, I was thinking 'yup, I've seen that move already', and by the end of the first hour I couldn't help but wish that someone would just fall off. I bet I wasn't the only one. I'm sure that's what makes it so exciting for some folk, the fact that there's a chance that it'll all go wrong and end up like watching 'You've Been Framed'.

I'm glad I saw it though. The skill involved is undoubtable. Some of them made it look so easy and effortless, and there wasn't a single person in the place who wasn't impressed by the 13 year old who came on and flung himself and his bike off ramps at huge heights performing amazing jumps with astounding skill.

We left though after the first half. We'd both kind of seen enough and we hadn't realised it was going to be a full afternoon and we had the babysitter to get back to. Still, I am glad I had the chance to go. It was good fun even if it wasn't my 'thing'.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Orla's Doll's House

Orla got a wooden dolls house from her Granny at least a year ago. It's the plain wooden one from Toys R Us that's a complete bargain at just £50 which comes complete with 100 little bits for you to stand on with bare feet and scream in agony.

I've been meaning to paint it ever since she got it, and I kept getting brochures through the door for Aspace, an expensive childrens furniture company, and I loved one of the dolls houses they sell (see below). Lovely, and not too pink.


So it's also been on my 'to do' list since the start of the year, and last night I decided to get started. Orla caught me though as I was carrying it out of her room at bedtime and asked what I was doing, and when she found out, she put in an order that it must have a pink roof. Not that that spoiled what I wanted or anything...

So I did as much as I could last night, and only have to complete the 'client amends' from this morning's review session. Apparently the door isn't 'pink enough' and the roof should have her name on it, with a big 'O', and it needs trees by the door and a little daschund (well that's what I want to do anyway). But I might make the daschund have a pee against one of the trees just for the 'client's' amusement.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Somehow I managed to read

At the start of the year I decided to do one of those lists of things I wanted to 'do' this year. Really it's a bit like one of those 30 before 30 lists, but I'm going to be 37 in April and not only does that seem like a bit of a stretch to get 37 things done before then, but I also struggled to get past 33 things.

At the moment I don't seem to have made much progress, but March is going to be a good month. I've got 2 things planned under the category of 'do something different' which I am quite excited about. One of which was Stevie's idea and it's happening this weekend, the other was my idea and is happening later in the month and I'm hoping *fingers crossed* that it includes a big foam finger!

But I realised that I had been managing to read a bit more this year. I have a massive pile of books that Carmella sent over and I am desperate to read all the Steig Larsson books she gave me but I keep getting distracted by other books. There are too many books I want to read though for me to make any headway with the '100 book challenge'. it's just not happening for me. Not that I thought I'd be able to get through all 62(?) from that list that I haven't read, but I doubt I will even read one or two off that list this year. Let's put it this way, there's a book about sheep detectives in Hugendubel that I want to read far more than War & Peace. So you can see what I've been reading on my new page 'somehow...I read' which possibly should be known as the 37 book challenge. I do like my goals to be easily achievable.

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