Monday, May 26, 2014


When I was about 8, there was a hardcover book on my class's bookshelves that seemed incredibly unloved. It had a grey cover (the dust cover was long gone) and I noticed that it remained untouched over several months. After a while, I took pity on it and took it home (we had some kind of library system but the details are lost to time). It turned out to be the most inspired, funny and irreverent book--belied by its somewhat anodyne and syrupy title, Five Dolls in a House and masked by its plain cover. I think I must have kept it out for most of that year, and probably the year after that. I still remember reading it in my old tiny bedroom and the joy I had in the cockney monkey that lived on the roof and threw objects to the floor, the resident dolls' delight in cough drops and someone's efforts to eat the plaster food on the doll house plates.

The biggest mystery is why I didn't ask my parents to buy me a copy. Perhaps I did--from the looks of things, the last edition went to print in 1973 so it's possible it wasn't available.

A few years ago, I decided to track it down, not to give to any possible daughter I may have, but for myself. Thinking about having children made me revisit my own childhood and cherish some of its innocent pleasures. I decided to track down this book, only to discover that it's pretty rare and very collectible with the hardcover copies I wanted going for over £100 and paperbacks in the region of £30. I can't understand why it hasn't been reprinted as it seems well loved but I was able to get a copy for £8 plus postage on amazon and it will be awaiting me when I go home next month. It will be interesting to judge how it reads decades later, but I'll always remember the delight of discovering something so special between those orphaned plain grey covers.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The combination of prediabetes, a sluggish thyroid and having a toddler have not exactly led me to feel good about how I look. Comparing my skin and hair to Severin's is one way to feel ancient, but my endocrine issues have resulted in a slow weight gain over the last few years that still seems to persist even as I cut carbs down to 150 g or less per day and try to eat three salads with protein for dinner a week. Either this diet isn't working at all or it's fighting a battle that I'm not currently winning. This combination means I don't look in mirrors (in clothing stores or at home) and think, wow, that's a great dress. Postpartum bodies may not look that different but my clothes don't fit the way they used to and are tighter in the back and the upper part of my body.

Still, these pieces appeal. Partly because of what they hide, partly because they'd work if I lost or gained weight, but mainly because they seem like they'd look fresh and clean even on the most humid day. I want to look pretty while I'm out with Severin, because he deserves it. But because I'm feeling cheap and trying to save hard in the hopes of having baby #2, I'm waiting for sales or to find out that I don't really need or want them after all.

This one's from Madewell and at $138 it's above the NYC sales tax threashold so I want it to go down in price just a little more:

This cotton dress is from & Other Stories, so I'm waiting till it's nearer the time we fly home, but as it's super low on stock in my size, I may miss out entirely (the largest size, which may have been the one I needed, has sold out). Given that this dress is well under the equivalent of $80, I can't wait for the US outpost to open up.

Also from & Other Stories. Also sold out in the biggest size so I suspect this one may run small (they are an H&M company) and may not fit.

Yet another & Other Stories dress. Again, just under $100 at the current exchange rate including postage. 

Hopefully one or two of these will end up in my wardrobe. I'll be ordering something from & Other Stories in the next week or two and report back here on the sizing. I only have a fortnight to return them so I have to wait a couple more weeks to order. By then, I imagine the larger sizes will have all sold out but I will check out their Regent Street store when home.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Early mother's day gift to myself

My second mother's day may have come and gone, but before it even arrived I treated myself to a mummy necklace--a little rose gold disc with S (for Severin) on the front and his birthdate (29.12.2012) on the back. Even before he was born, I looked at similar pieces of jewellery, but without a name I wasn't going to buy anything--especially as I was too superstitious to assume I'd end up with a baby.

My necklace looks pretty much like the one above (this is the Etsy image). It feels good to support an artisan jeweller, particularly one who uses recycled gold and is eco friendly. I got it from PointNoPoint Studios in Seattle and, hopefully, one day I'll be able to order another disc with the initials of a second child. I'm not pregnant but wish I was. My love for little Severin is so overwhelming and more than anything, I would love to give him a sibling. A little girl would be so perfect but a little boy would be pretty sweet too.

As for mother's day, that was pretty sweet--the highlight was going out to dinner with Evan, Severin and Evan's mum and stepfather. We went to a Greek restaurant where Severin ate feta cheese and bread, then decided he was ready to leave--just before our main courses arrived. Fortunately he was happy to be pushed around while we took it in turns to eat.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Toddler Hijinks

Severin becomes more of a toddler day by day. While the tantrums are thankfully not that common, they are becoming a daily occurrence, usually when he wants Waybuloo on (and he wants it *now*) or when he wants me to open the fridge for him and give him milk. 

His latest antics involve pulling his nappy (and sometimes pyjama bottoms) off at night. The first time I walked in on him face down, bottom up wearing only a blue top, I knew something wasn't quite right but it took me a few seconds to work it out. He's at it again tonight. Turns out it's not uncommon and the solution seems to be tape the nappy shut, put on one piece pyjamas with a zip, possibly on backwards and use your sleep sack (again backwards). Why he does it, I don't know, but there's something wonderful about being further submerged into the secrets of motherhood and babydom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Taking Stock At the End of Another Academic Year

In academia, you have the chance to assess the events of the year twice--once at the end of December (like everybody else), then in April/May/June (depending where you teach). We're not quite at the end of the year yet: I have one class, some exams, three Gallatin colloquiums and a field trip to the Charles James exhibit at the Met before graduation, but it's so close that I'm thinking about what I did, what I didn't do, and what I'm hoping the next year will bring.

This (academic) year saw my book release, four conference papers and one published article (with another hopefully accepted and two more proposals solicited for upcoming anthologies). Much of this work was either completed before this year or produced in draft form/in terms of conference papers due to Severin. As he sleeps better, I'm starting to produce more developed work and as I sleep better after a prolonged period of severe insomnia during and after weaning him, my brain is beginning to work again. Hopefully I'll be able to capitalize on these efforts and get more substantial work done this next year.

Severin's accomplishments are more impressive. When I look at photos from last May, our dear little boy was just beginning to leave babyhood behind. He was on the cusp of sitting unaided, a development that would herald his acceleration into greater independence and activity, becoming more himself every day with his huge, joyous and highly social personality. It's amazing how grown up he seems at 16 months, even as I realise this is only the start of major transformations to come.

While time seems to have flown, last May seems a long time ago. I had barely left Severin other than to work and was limited in my actions by breast feeding (something so worthwhile but more life changing than I could have imagined). I miss those days and so hope I can repeat them with another child sometime soon. I'd also not heard of Waybuloo nor had I been introduced to the world of V-Tech toys and Severin's love for musical, light up bright coloured plastic. I was barely familiar with Julia Donaldson's work and now I'm able to recite chunks of Tabby McTat and Tiddler from memory.

In many ways, late April and early May are the best times of year. I'm totally exhausted with the extra hours I'm putting in at work and I've been eating horribly--too much bread, sugar and other carbs. I suspect my blood sugar has been sky high on a couple of occasions when I've eaten the food offered at work and the alternative was not to eat at all. But the entire summer is ahead, full of possibilities and unsullied by the realities of ambitions unfulfilled and potential disappointments. Standing on the cusp of this time allows me to hope for the best and deal with my current exhaustion--even as I vow not to indulge in carbs, to lose the pounds I must have gained recently and to lower my A1c before I see my endocrinologist in June.