Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good tears to cry

Mrs Hope and I just sat down and watched a slideshow of our various pictures from Reuben's first year.

A lot of memories and emotions stirred up, but it is good to look back and cry.

Thanks be to you, Jesus, for all that has come our way in 2008; help us be thankful for 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pic update

Lunchtime - 2

This is from Portugal, a trip we undertook just before coming out to the States.

Oh, and Reubs is walking now.

Cold today

Low 20s this morning, but the wind is making it feel even colder. The bird bath is, most wonderfully, frozen solid. I shall see if I can find time to nip outside and snap a picture.

I feel a bit of a wuss saying this (especially when the northern states are even colder...) but I am used to the west of England, constantly warmed by the Gulf Stream.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mince pies anyone?

When we lived at our old house, one of the ways we got to know people was through our lovely neighbours, the Coles. (Actually, at that stage they were more properly our 'pre-neighbours', as we hadn't arranged a lease with the landlords of our old house.)

But Tim and Jules threw their usual Christmas party for their street: mulled wine and mince pies all round. We met our old landlords and the rest is history.

So when we moved into our new digs here in the heart of suburbia, we decided to follow in their footsteps and throw a house-warming/Christmas party for our new neighbours.

And so Mrs Hope baked all Saturday and produced 60 (delicious) mini mince pies, and then mulled and spiced wine and fruit juice respectively this afternoon. Having made and delivered our invitations two weeks earlier, our lovely neighbours turned up promptly at three this afternoon and tactfully left as Reuben tucked into his tea at five.

I can probably only remembered half a dozen names, as our sitting room was packed; there were kids playing pool downstairs and shouting through the intercom system or messing around with Reuben's toys and we ran out of both glasses and mugs. All in all it was a great afternoon.

But we've got still got half the mince pies left...

[Posted with iBlogger from my iPhone]

Friday, December 19, 2008

My wife: the pizza-crust-mouse

Image posted with LifeCast
[Posted with iBlogger from my iPhone]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

iBlog too

So this is from another app - sorry for the rather dull technical interludes.

Although I probably shouldn't get into the habit of blogging just before we go to bed, another thing Mrs Hope forgot to mention in her list is the credit/debit dialogue that you go through whenever we use our checking (Brit. 'debit') cards. Apparently 'debit' let's you get cashback and you validate with your PIN, while 'credit' doesn't allow cashback and you have to sign to validate.

Oh, and on the bank cards we now have, the images on opposite sides of a card are inverted (i.e. if you rotate it on the vertical axis, the card image is upside-down). It is the small things that get to me, like I said earlier.

[Posted with iBlogger from my iPhone]

Testing Times

This is my first post from my phone, to see if this app (LifeCast) works or not. Part of me is idly wondering why I'm even toying with the idea of blogging from my phone, as my blogging has been rather sporadic (at best!) lately. Still, I am a chap who enjoys gadgets, and my phone is definitely a gadget and a half.

Today I was asked if there were any "major" differences between living here in the US and living in the UK. I actually think the smallest differences can be the most unsettling: they tend to creep up ok you when you're unaware, and occur more frequently than the 'big shocks'. For me, the subtle changes in vocabulary has been what has caused the most disorientation. To whit, a conversation I had tonight with Reuben and Rachel, a friend of his:

Me: Hey, Reubs, you've found a fireman's helmet!

Reuben: ...

Rachel: No, it's a firefighter's helmet.

Me: Oh, yeah, that's what I meant Reuben, a firefighter's helmet.

Reuben: ...

Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ever painted a snail?

Green's flying lap

Well, we did at our street party this summer. And we raced 'em too.

I have finally got round to uploading some pictures on Flickr (been having trouble with the latest uploader, so went back to the old one and it works).

Now I need to go and make my birthday boy some tea. Hurray Reubs - happy birthday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

First steps

Reuben took his first steps yesterday, aiming for a better position from which to empty a shelf of its pots and pans. He has been able to stand up unaided, and to cruise around furniture, for a month or so and we have dreaded/anticipated this moment in equal measure. It was lovely to see his pleasure in his new ability as he tried it out yesterday and again today.

We spent the whole morning in a social security office in Glen Burnie, applying for a social security number. I'm not sure of the extent of what it will empower us to do, but it's required for our Maryland state drivers licence, health insurance and credit card applications. Thankfully we have been able to open a bank account without one.

My application was accepted - my card should arrive in two weeks or so. Mrs and Master Hope were not so successful. As dependents on my 'R1' category visa, they hold 'R2' visas. The US Immigration services were (crystal) clear that persons holding 'R2' visas are not allowed to work. So they both indicated this on their application for a social security number (i.e. the ticked the box saying they were 'legal aliens not allowed to work'). But we need to get further confirmation that they are not allowed to work, that is we need an employment authorization declaration stating that they are not authorized to work. Even Reuben. Who is one next Thursday.

But we're going to take our lead from him, who with the wisdom of youth has thrown himself (all too often literally) into living our new lives here. We shall celebrate any successful steps with gusto and shrug off the inevitable set-backs. See you in the Glen Burnie social office in a few days then, right after we get a car that works!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Key transitions

Ever since I went to university (way, way back in the mists of time now... 1996 I think) I have had a set of keys on me. At uni these were the keys to my accommodation block (Unit 3, Badock Hall) and to my room (I forget now.. 217?). Then I had house keys, work keys, and car keys.

A key in my pocket has always been a solid reminder that I have somewhere to go that is mine. A base. Space, to which only I have the (sometimes shared) access. After all, I have the key.

But last Tuesday we gave our (borrowed) house keys back to Kate and Doug, got in a car (thanks James) and were driven to a hotel (and they gave us a swipe card for our room). It was 24 or so hours later, in Severna Park, when we were given our new (borrowed) house key.

In that 24 hour period, I walked around without a key in my pocket and felt it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bye for now...

We leave Bristol this afternoon, stay in an airport hotel at Heathrow tonight, and fly to Washington D.C. tomorrow morning.

Thursday morning we'll wake up in Severna Park, MD.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


There's been a bit of a lull in the posting in the last two months. I just haven't been in front of the laptop as much as I used to, hence the lull.

We're still waiting to move to the States. On good days we feel so blessed to have the adventure still stretching out in front of us, the chance to enjoy a break with friends and family, and the amazing support from folks here and there.

On bad days we find ourselves double-guessing at whether we're making the right decision, we feel scared of leaving our very good friends behind, and we worry about what people will think of us if it doesn't work out.

Waiting is tough. But everyone who's anyone does it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Portugal pictures

Just uploaded a bunch of pictures from our recent holiday in Portugal with my parents.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

On books, genealogies, and batons

We spent last week in Portugal with my parents. It was one of those occasions when my sense of time was most fluid - three generations were together under one roof and old remembrances and new experiences were shared and equally celebrated, regardless of whose they were. The things of my childhood surrounded me, but now from a distance: I read one of our old books to Reuben with adult eyes.

We flew back to Bristol on Thursday, and drove up to Edinburgh yesterday. We're now in my parent's flat in Edinburgh; the same sense of the weight of generations is being impressed on me (and it's not just because we're in a sub-basement of Moray Place) as this is the area in which my grandparents spent a long chunk of their lives, my father grew up and I grew up as well.

This morning we read the first chapter of Matthew's gospel and had a similar feeling of 'being part of something that's been going on for a very long time' as the familiar and unwieldy names of the genealogy rolled across our lips. Again, the contrasting sense of scale as 42 generations bumped up against one dream and Joseph took a firm hold on the baton for his leg of the race.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On door-bouncers

We often put Reuben in a door-bouncer in the mornings so we can have a few moments without one of us having to hold him. In the past two weeks of packing this time has become increasingly precious as we labour to box up our possessions and shift into a nomadic state of existence.

It struck me yesterday that we, as a family, are being put though a similar experience to little Reuben's: we are suspended, between one room and the next. We can make plenty of noise and bounce up and down, but can't go anywhere. However we are safe, we do have the attention of the One who Watches, and we know that we will be swept up in HIs embrace before too long... but for now we'll just bounce.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May days

A quick pic round-up for you:

Tree-felling - 2

On the first May bank holiday, Nic and I helped out in clearing Uncle David's back-garden. Lots of chopping, shredding, lopping of limbs, sawing and chain-sawing.


This critter was bold enough to slither onto our butter dish whilst we were eating a barbeque.


We had a lovely day out with Charlie and Juliet at Hanbury Hall; after lunch we gave Reuben an opportunity to rest in his pram, but for some reason all he wanted to do was wave his feet around...


He's now eating 'solid' food quite happily, although we're not convinced he derives any nutritional value from whatever passes (fairly quickly) through his system. But eating is a fun, and social, affair, and we all enjoy the event.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Photo update

Last Thursday, Reuben met his Grandpop for the first time:

Reuben and Grandpop - 2

Last week, we had our first barbeque of the year (on my birthday bbq):

Dinner Spread

Last weekend, our God-daughter Taya, celebrated her third birthday (don't worry, she was excited when the cake and presents arrived!):

Taya's party - 4

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fearful thinking - pt. 2

"If you want to discover the difference which Jesus made to mankind, and go to New Testament to find out, the answer given is the casting out of people's lives of fear.

Fear, in the New Testament, is considered to be the root of all evil. It is fear which makes men selfish, it is fear which makes them hate, it is fear which makes them blind, it is fear which makes them mad.

Fear casts out love, as love casts out fear. Which of the two, therefore, am I going to choose?"

H. A. Williams, in The True Wilderness.

Fearful thinking - pt. 1

"When I reflect deeply on my life and what I really want, it is not to be afraid.

When I am afraid, I am miserable. I play it safe. I restrict myself. I hide the talent of me in the ground. I am not deeply alive - the depths of me are not being expressed.

When I am afraid, a tiny part of me holds captive most of me, which rebels against the tyranny of the minority.

When I am afraid I am a house divided against itself.

So, more than anything else, I want to be delivered from fear, for fear is alien to my own best interest.

Or, to put it positively, I want to give myself generously, magnanimously, freely - out of love. I want to be able to take risks - to express myself, to welcome and embrace the future.

I want to see what it is to be most deeply me."

Elisabeth O'Connor, quoting Gordon Crosby, in Cry Pain, Cry Hope.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Farthest Shore, by Ursula Le Guin

"Try to choose carefully, ... , when the great choices must be made. When I was young I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, ... , between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are." Sparrowhawk.

This breaks my heart and fills me with hope all at the same time. It is heart-breaking that people can be so easily ensnared in a vicious circle because of their earlier choices; yet I know there is hope because one can be equally 'ensnared' in a virtuous circle because of one's earlier choices.

Thank God for God.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." Matt. 11:12

Thought provoking

A thought provoking article here (via Daring Fireball).

Reminds me of the 'unconsciously incompetent, consciously incompetent, consciously competent, unconsciously competent' progression of learning (or, if you're familiar with the language, the Square: D1, D2, D3, D4). Also contains a cutting observation, and Tolstoy quote, about pride being an obstacle to learning/change.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A mouthful of eye-candy

Although I have never been tempted to skin OS X's GUI in the same way I would a Windows theme, I am always on the lookout for a good desktop image.

So, say hello to a beautiful little app called Desktoptopia; yes, it's a bit of a mouthful, but it's a joy to use. It grabs stunning desktop images and puts them on your desktop - fairly simple, eh? You can set it to automatically change the image at any interval you want, or you can manually browse through the ever-growing collection, selecting your genres as you go.

It's smart enough to work with whatever resolution best suits your screen (although I know of at least one reported problems with a bigger screen). There is also a ratings function, should you wish to feed back to the site.

Oh, and it's free too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eat less, walk more, by George!

We're running our cars on bio-fuel in an effort to reduce our carbon emissions (why don't we just drive less?).

We're making that bio-fuel out of our surplus grain while the rest of the world starves.

Maybe George has got it right?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Family photos

Our friend Ben very kindly used us as practice for his portrait photography hobby last week. Which was great, because we got some lovely shots of the three of us for nothing! I've stuck a few of our favourites on Flickr but, because I'm all about instant gratification too, here's one for free:

@ Sommerville Studios - 13

There are more shots on Ben's site as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Familiarity breeds...

A conversation with Mrs Hope over a coffee this afternoon:

Me: "So I was thinking about why I was fasting today and-"

Her (interrupts): "What?! Farting?"

Me (after a short, slightly disappointed, pause): "f-a-s-t-i-n-g"

Her (completely non-plussed): "Oh, carry on."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Things I find funny that no-one else does.

The other day, we ran out of staples in the office.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A bit less of a bill

So we did follow up our previous electricity bill with our supplier... and here is the result:

A bill 2

Amazingly, we've actually got credit with them, even after winter. But they still want some cash from us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where are you?

For the past month or so our community has been wrestling with the idea of being together. Last night, at our housegroup, Phil put out some words and ideas that neatly defined the problems we are facing, not only as people, but also as a community of believers.

As people, we tend to avoid one another's pain. It is embarrassing, it is awkward, it is uncomfortable. We might be unable to help (and helplessness is so embarrassing and awkward) or worse, we might be reminded of our own pain. We rarely linger in the presence of someone else's pain - strangely denying them what is possibly the only effective salve we (as people) might have to offer - our attention.

As believers, we often gather together as the 'devout' (although in recognition of what we all actually are, we should more accurately be described as the 'devout-in-progress'). However, gathering as the 'devout' means we gather as those 'masked before men' (as Phil tellingly put it). And yet our masks, in a bitter twist, only serve to isolate us from one another and make it harder to unmask ourselves - pretending to be normal becomes normal.

'Hey... how are you?'
'Good thanks - and you?' 
'Oh fine' 

You know how it goes.

Reading this and looking through this today raised this again in my mind. The partying friends who, in doing their best to be lively and fun, avoided that which could have helped the most. The wife who died alone - unable to bear her husband and children being with her. The man who died in silence - yet diligently recording his football team's progress.

But if suffering causes isolation, and an antidote is to suffer together, how do we bear this? Can we bring ourselves to utter the words 'Here I am... where are you?'

Friday, March 28, 2008

A bit of a bill

Our electricity supplier (begins with 'nP' and ends in 'ower' if you're wondering) sent us this bill today:

A bill

What normally happens is that they send us an estimated bill (usually over-estimated) which then prompts us to go and dig around in our basement to read the meter ourselves. We then call them up and correct their meter reading and they send us an accurate bill.

So this was a bit of a surprise - over £2500 in just four months. Even taking into consideration a) winter, b) a baby, and c) rising fuel costs we figured it was an impressive use of electricity. However it all turns out to hinge on Mrs Hope's enthusiasm for accuracy with figures - she included the decimal point in the meter reading - and our supplier gratefully (delightedly) accepted the figures.

We will be calling them to let them know of the correct reading shortly.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photo update

I've added some new photos of Reuben, his grandparents, and our recent visit to the States. Click on the picture of grandson and Grandad Alan for more at my Flickr site.

Alan and Reuben

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'll take the low road

We arrived back in Bristol on Saturday morning, after a long day of traveling and too short a night's sleep.

We left Maryland via BWI Airport on Friday. Our flight to EWR (Newark) was just after 1pm, and our connection to Bristol left just before 9pm. I think there is an art to traveling which has been lost in our modern consumer approach to life - that old devil 'hurry' rides our backs mercilessly given half a chance. And there, but for the grace of God, we went, for our first flight was heavily over-subscribed (it being the first day of Spring Break).

1pm is also Reuben's lunch time, but we wanted to feed him as close to take-off as possible to help him adjust to the changing cabin pressure. The gate-agent began to ask for volunteers to give-up their seats, travel plans permitting, for those passengers who had to catch the 1pm flight. We tsk'd as Reuben grew hungrier, trying to decide whether we should try to board first and stretch him out until take-off. One passenger took up the offer of taking a train to EWR as we continued to wrestle with how best to feed Reuben. The gate agent then repeated the call for volunteers - did I mention that $350 worth of travel vouchers were offered in compensation as well? - and we decided to take up the offer.

The gate agent was so grateful (they got all their confirmed passengers on board in the end) she gave us lunch and dinner money too. Reuben was happy because he ate while they sorted our train tickets out, and Mrs Hope was happy because she didn't have to fly up to EWR. And I love to take the train and see the world from the unique perspective that it offers. It wound its way up the East Coast, taking us through Baltimore, skimming through Delaware and Pennsylvania before dropping us off in New Jersey in plenty of time to catch our Bristol plane.

The hardest thing about the whole affair was giving away our spare meal voucher at EWR - only $12 so not much at all - but hardly anyone wanted to engage in conversation about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So we are moving to the States in June. We'll be in Severna Park, a suburb of Annapolis, in Maryland.

The state slogan for Maryland is (as listed by the unimpeachable Wikipedia): "Seize the Day Off". This I like.

The official state motto is taken from the state's official seal and was written in Italian thusly: "Fatti maschii, parole femine." The commonly accepted translation is 'strong deeds, gentle words'. This, too, I like.

We're just coming to the end of a preliminary two-week visit - I'm currently writing this from a house just nearby where we'll end up in June - and it's enabled us to get a flavour for what's ahead. First impressions are that it's very similar to Dubai - big roads, big cars, big food, big shops. The physical geography is completely new to me - certainly unlike anything I've known in the U.K. We are by the sea, but it's the Chesapeake Bay, and there's a mild tidal reach and almost no surf, so it's an odd beach environment. (A nice touch is that we're on the Severn River.) People here are very open and friendly - shop attendants will greet you as you enter their shop (and of course, bid you to 'have a nice day' when you leave), and we've freely exchanged words of greeting to people in the neighbourhood. And the people in the church here have been true to the state motto - welcoming us into their lives and bending over backwards to help us.

On Friday we go back to Bristol, which I have called home for the past ten years, to begin the process of packing up memories and possessions and saying goodbye.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Big Country

So we have been visiting Maryland for the past week and a half. We've met so many lovely people here that, despite our British reserve, we've almost been provoked into an emotional response.

We've visited the neighborhood and the house where we'll be staying for the next year - and it's all big! We even figured out that we could walk to the local shops (as there was a pavement, or 'sidewalk', along the road) - and on the way back we were recognised, by virtue of our pedestrian nature, as being the visiting Brits!

Mall-culture has been experienced and, to some extent, enjoyed. On the positive side, there is an Apple Store in the Annapolis Mall. On the puzzling side, we saw people exercising in the Mall.

This week we had the pleasure of sampling Maryland's famous blue crabs, which are actually pinkish when they get to your table. And, thanks to Mrs Hope, who dismembered her first crab very enthusiastically, I am now wearing some blue crab, but I am told that this is acceptable behaviour for round here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ethics: They’re like cooking (but different)

By ethics, I mean principles by which you might seek to live your life by. Examples would be telling the truth, not stealing, always showing kindness to others. Equally I would consider only telling white lies, or stealing from the government, or being able to hurt another if they did not share your values to be ethical principles - perhaps of a differing standard.

By cooking, I mean the activity of preparing food for the purpose of eating it - but frame the word ‘activity’ widely. Hence personally purchasing ingredients and making a pizza from them is ‘cooking’ just as much as purchasing a pre-prepared frozen pizza is, or ordering a take-away pizza is. Again, it just involves a different standard.

So, ethics are like cooking. To some extent they are common to all - one person might choose to tell the truth as much as another might permit lying in certain situations. One person might eat their steak medium-rare, the other well done. I’m sure another wiser person has more to say on the general characteristics of ethics.

What I do want to think out loud is whether or not ethics are generally perceived as good. More particularly, the ethics set out in the Sermon on the Mount (I know, you’re thinking ‘can - worms - all over the floor’). Seriously though, consider the exhortation - ‘be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect’. Does that strike you as good news - something encouraging? I think it should, but I know that most people would consider advice to tell the truth at all times rather naive or quaintly old-fashioned, if not unhelpful. I’m gutted that the subject of ethics has been allowed to accumulate negative associations in people’s minds over the years.

Ethics - they’re like cooking. Jesus lived a three Michelin-starred life. He knew how to wrest the freshest flavours from life’s gristle. He knew what a pinch of ‘this’ or sprinkle of 'that' would do in any given situation. He had impeccable taste. He truly knew the good things in life.

So, while I pick moodily at my microwave-meal habits, should I be surprised if they don’t satisfy me? What is it that keeps me coming back to a fast-food burger pastime, when I could be eating finer meat and drink prepared with care at home?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Select highlights

Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation — Any statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror.

Hlade's Law — If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person; they will find an easier way to do it.

Stigler's Law — No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer, named by statistician Stephen Stigler who attributes it to sociologist Robert Merton.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I am a snob

At least, according to a survey reported (indirectly) here, that has unearthed an amusing collection of stats about Mac-users vs. PEE CEE users.

Scarily, I have to admit to having perfectionist tendencies, owning a notebook (laptop), driving a station wagon (Puegeot 406), paying for downloaded music (use iTunes), and caring about "green" products and the environment.

And whilst I have gone to Starbucks, and used teeth-whitening toothpaste in my lifetime, I can honestly say I don't own a hybrid car, or buy five pairs of sneakers in a year (although Mrs Hope would be happy to give that last one a go).

I'm not only amazed that someone came up with these questions to ask computer users (do you use teeth-whitening products/drive a station wagon/buy five or more pairs of sneakers per year?) but also to then deduce that there are 'cause-effect' links with the computer they use...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Getting along well

Just updated my Flickr site with a few new photos of Reuben. Here's one for free.


With my day off on Fridays I've been able to take up the responsibility of Friday dinners. Found a new pasta recipe in Jamie's Italian book last week (I would sound slightly contrite for mentioning Jamie, except it's utterly delicious and now my second favourite pasta recipe) and did a pretty decent toad-in-the-hole this week. Then, whilst ad-libbing on Saturday, found that creme-fraiche on hot pasta has almost the same 'sour milk' aroma as Reuben's nappies after a No. 2. Sorry. But we still ate it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Recently I have been able to play a part in feeding my eight week old son. After a long day of caring for Reuben, Mrs Hope now clocks off gracefully at 10pm, and is usually able to be in bed earlier due to Reuben's propensity for sleep. So, between the hours of 10pm and 5am, I am on duty: both input and output. I have thoroughly enjoyed this time with him, sometimes before midnight but more often in the 'wee small hours'. I like it - it's private 'us' time.

He feeds well from a bottle, but prefers his food at body temperature rather than room temperature which requires a trip downstairs to the microwave prior to a meal. We aim to move away from this temperature preference, and so we're gradually working our way from warm to cool (and aiming for 'tepid' tonight).

And so I came to find myself groggily making up a bottle of formula at 3.30am Saturday morning. Actually, it was one of the ready-made cartons we'd bought to test his affinity for the bottle. Having carefully sanitised the various components of the bottle earlier, I carefully unsanitised them as I assembled it. Eventually I decanted the appropriate measure of formula into the chosen vessel, warmed it painstakingly in the microwave and trudged upstairs to my audibly-hungry son. He got his chops working furiously on the bottle in no time at all and was quaffing away eagerly when I felt a slight trickle of liquid on my ankle.

Despite being slightly un-focused by the hour, I quickly ran through a list of possible explanations: drip from baby's nappy (answer: no, baby was wrong way round for that), drip from baby's chin (answer: no, muslin was securely in place, and not at all saturated), drip from bottle (answer: most likely yes, given the complex ritual for preparing the meal and the weary state of the labourer). The conclusion I arrived at was that it was a splash of formula from earlier activities, and I was feeling the chill of it slowly drying in the air. Satisfied, I dismissed the trickle from my mind and returned my (limited) attention to my guzzling son. Then the 'trickle' moved up my calf, and all possible explanations vanished in an instant.

There are times when I feel it is appropriate to wrestle with mystery but I was suddenly keenly motivated to inspect my calf and resolve it. My hurried inspection revealed none other than my recently documented nemesis - a slug.

Thankfully, Reuben is too young to remember his father's ungainly reaction to this turn of events; I shall elaborate no further on the matter but simply leave it to your imagination.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Taking on the North Face

Oh yes, the slugs in our house are a brave and fearless bunch, as these pictures testify. They* crawled all over my favourite Nuptse vest, both inside (shudder) and out.

*Okay, I admit I don't really know if it was a gang of slug vandals, or just one inquisitive slimeball, but I think 'they' sounds better. And I did feel violated.

January tales

The Wee Man has kept us busy this month: enchanting us and exhausting us in equal measure as he learns how to live in his little body. It's been tough to share his frustrations and be unable to step in and solve his problems in the main.

His Granny came to visit, and helped us out in all sorts of ways, for which we were all most grateful.

Last week, we were referred to the breast-feeding specialist at Southmead Hospital. Reuben was born with a small tongue-tie which had proved, over the last few weeks, a regular source of frustration for both mother and child at mealtimes. As the tissue anchoring the base of his tongue to the bottom of his mouth was preventing him from moving his tongue freely, he wasn't feeding easily. So, through the wonderful NHS, our health visitor quickly referred us to the hospital in just a few days. Although the wonders of the NHS didn't extend to convenient parking, on Friday morning we ended up in the office of the specialist who - after the briefest of brief inspections - said she would be prepared to snip the tissue right there and then.

Barely five minutes later, Reuben was swaddled and his head stabilised by an assistant. A pair of sterile scissors were produced and the specialist pried Reuben's mouth open and made two quick snips. It was over with only a drop or two of blood and a small (and rather muted) protest from the Wee Man at the fingers in his mouth. He was scooped up and returned to his mother for a feed, which was immediately noticeably improved.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Credit where it's due?

This is a great story about what lengths we go to in order to avoid uncomfortable situations. And I love the ingenuity of children.

I never went as far as glueing my hand to a bed to get out of school, but I did try faking a fever and heating my thermometer up over my bedside lamp. As I, being only eight, had no idea of the normal temperature of the human body I ended up going (rather grumpily) to school anyway; mercifully the glass thermometer hadn't fractured during its mishandling; and (rather gracefully) my mother hadn't blinked as I registered a temperature of only 30 Centigrade.

I like to think it showed some aptitude for creative thinking and problem solving, despite the rather self-interested motive.