Wednesday, May 8, 2013

and here's another

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My latest video animation The wheels on the bus go round and round. An animated song for children. Have fun

Friday, April 23, 2010

Well, I haven’t written here for a while –not so much because I’ve been busy, but when you stop for a while, it gets to a stage where there’s so much you think you should write up that you never have time to do it….

Except, of course, I have been busy - with George (just being potty trained) and Ernest (just going on to solid food), there’s always a lot happening….

Anyway – I’ve decided not to try to bang on about everything that’s happened since I last wrote, so here’s just a quick scene from George a couple of weeks ago:

Lisa and I are trying to teach him to be polite – saying please and thank you . it’s working fairly well, but he sometimes forgets. he wants a biscuit. “biscuit!” he says.

Lisa ignores him

“biscuit!” he shouts.

“I can’t hear you.” Lisa says

“biscuit!” he yells.

“what do we say when we want something?” lisa asks

“biscuit!” responds George.

Lisa has an idea. “Christian, would you like a cup of tea?”

“yes PLEASE!” I say helpfully.

“Ok, then” says Lisa “George, would you like me to get you something?”

George thinks for a moment. “coffee!” he says.

So, I’m struggling back towards running regularly – the cold, long winter, and the fact that I’ve been pretty tired have meant I haven’t been running much in the past few months. Also, every time I run, I get a hip and knee pain… I think it’s a combination of the cold and the fact that I’ve no idea how to warm up and warm down.

Anyway, it’s been warm so left without excuses I’ve been forced to go back out there. Now that it’s light I’ve also been able to take up my old, much longer route through the park. I now realise I needed to build up to that! It’s a long way!

Just one other thought – The election. It looks like we’re likely to have a hung parliament (something I’ve wanted for years – forcing the parties to work together for a change) – BUT what that’s likely to mean is that Labour will be in charge, but with a minority of the votes. The Labour party will dump Gordon Brown in favour (probably) of David Miliband. The Libdems will have to be offered something – and Nick Clegg will probably end up as deputy PM. So the number of seats the Libdems get will really decide what else they can demand – so if there’s a good showing, they’ll probably ask for Vince Cable to be made chancellor.

That doesn’t sound like a bad outcome to me….

In the meantime, we’ll have to have a reform of the voting system (because it’s going to look pretty dumb by the end of this election) and that will mean much higher chances of having balanced parliaments in the future.

But in a hung parliament, the liberals will never work with the tories, and the tories will never work with Labour, so whatever the outcomes, you’ll always end up with a liberal, labour coalition, and the Tories will never get power ever again.

Unless, of course, they move towards the centre ground, or make alliances with the tiny little right wing parties like UKIP who will probably get the odd seat in a proportional system.

Interesting times ahead…

Monday, January 11, 2010

The house is sounding pretty empty – the last of our Christmas guests left on thursday– Lisa’s sister over from Switzerland and her family (two girls of similar ages to George and Ernest) and Lisa’s Mum – all snowed in for the last couple of days.

It was lovely to see them all, and now the house is back to normal, Lisa and I feel suddenly quite tired… (not helped by Ernest’s deciding that he’s not going to be quite as co-operative in sleeping through the night as we first thought he might).

I thnk George was beginning to believe that his cousins were here to stay (a couple of months ago, Ernest arrived and shows no sign of leaving, so it’s a reasonable assumption) and there was a certain amount of friction between he and Livia. The two turned choosing toys from the toybox into a complex political game of strategy and confrontation.

Since the year started we’ve only really left the house for George to play in the snow. Still, hopefully it’ll be warmer soon… I’m hoping to get back to running more regularly – but not in this weather.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

George and Ernest
George seems to have accepted Ernest without too much of a problem. He keeps cuddling him, and introducing him to anyone he meets. He’s basically being very sweet (if you ignore the occasional outbursts of “hit baby Ernie!” and “eat Ernie’s ears”).

George is having the occasional nightmare now – waking up screaming and crying – he usually settles quite quickly, but he’s taken to getting up and trying to get out of his bedroom while screaming his head off. He did that last night, and after trying to settle him, we had to force ourselves to just leave him crying until he went back to bed.

So how is it having two of them? Well, they’re a handful and obviously as Ernest gets more independent that will only get worse, but initially it doesn’t seem too bad As long as we remember to keep giving George attention so he doesn’t feel he needs to demand it, we seem to be able to cope (except on the occasional night when they’re both ill or restless).

Which is a bit of a surprise to be honest because we’d had heard that having two is a bit like having ten…. Still, there’s time…

Plans for Christmas
So, it’s Christmas eve tomorrow… and a sudden cold snap has turned everyone’s Christmas travel plans to sludge. My parents probably won’t get up to us from Cambridge, which is a shame. Lisa’s sister may or may not arrive from Swizzerland, and what will happen for new year is anyone’s guess.

We’ll probably end up with just local people – and we’ve hosting it at home. We’ve decided that Christmas is the ideal day to try out an experimental meal that we’ve never cooked before and lot’s of people don’t like – so we’re going for eel in red wine.

I’m not running quite so often as I have been. A combination of the cold, the dark and tiredness plus the fact that my hip seems to develop a pain every time I go running (probably because I don’t know how to warm up properly before I go) means I’m running slower, less distance and less often.

It’s a bit annoying actually – Just before Ernest, Lisa persuaded me to go to a running shop (there is, of course, a specialist triathlon shop at the end of Melbourne Grove) and get fitted for some trainers.

Buying running shoes isn’t like buying other shoes – you don’t sit in a shop trying to decide whether to go for the ones that make you look like a gnome or a teenager or a pimp. Instead the shopkeeper measures your feet in various places, makes you run on a jogging machine, and then disappears into the back of the shop.

When he returns, he’s carrying one pair of shoes.

“these are yours” he says.

Not “what colour do you want?” or “how do they feel?” or “how much do you want to pay?”

There are one pair of shoes in one colour and one style and they’re the ones for you.

It’s quite a refreshing change.

However, I also asked him about keeping warm while running in the winter. He recommended a kind of skin tight lycra body-stocking.

I don’t think either I, or the other residents of Dulwich, are quite ready for that.


Apologies for not updating this in a while – but now on Christmas eve eve, I’ve finally got a bit of time to get back up to date. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got a fair idea of why it’s taken me so long.

Here’s the main reason:

The new boy

Ernest appeared on 22 oct at 9:50 in the morning. He was good enough to turn up at a reasonable hour, by caesarean section just like George but unlike George, I wasn’t actually allowed in to watch.

Lisa was in labour for a good few hours and had just reached the point of asking for an epidural (at one point, a midwife came in wanting to take the gas-and-air – assuming that Lisa had already had an epidural because she wasn’t making enough of a fuss) when it became obvious that Ernest’s heart rate was slowing. The decision to go for a caesarean was pretty much instant (after Lisa – high on gas and air – had to sign the release papers) and I just had time to don my surgical clothes and let Lisa know I was there in the operating theatre, when they suddenly realised things weren’t going well, and I was whisked out to wait for the results.

The problem was that Ernest’s heart rate wasn’t returning to normal, so instead of the normal epidural, they decided to go for the quick option – a general anaesthetic. And presumably a general is a lot less gentle than an epidural and they don’t want husbands cluttering up the place while they delve around looking for the baby.

In any case, it was a good couple of hours before Lisa had recovered enough for me to tell her she had a baby boy (I wouldn’t say anything until she was properly conscious because I knew she’d forget!).

Anyway, Ernest is here and making his presence felt. He’s learned to cry pretty loud and practices often. He’s also fairly good at eating and sleeping. He’s started off with a good nighttime routine, giving Lisa a few hours between feeds to get some rest. Although the last couple of days haven’t been great, we’re pretty convinced it’s a battle we can win, and he will eventually get into a good sleeping pattern.

Midwives talk a lot of crap. Throughout the entire process of having a baby, there seems to be a ban on anyone in the medical profession using the word “pain”. Childbirth is described as causing “discomfort” - whatever that means. Occasionally there’s “extreme discomfort” mentioned, but that apparently is rare. It’s usually just bog standard discomfort.

When we dropped in on my grandmother, Grace a few weeks before Ernest was born, she mentioned her experience of midwives.

When she went in to have my dad, she was a little naïve herself. She asked the midwife if she was going to cut her open to get the baby out.

“no” she was told. “it comes out the same way it went in”

“Oh” said my grandmother. “Won’t that hurt?”

The midwife looked at her. “oh, God, yes” she said.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If you hear something repeated often enough, it often starts to develop deeper meanings for you…. Whether that’s a catchy song that grows on you or a favourite film that seems to get better each time you see it.

There’s a lot of repetition involved in children’s entertainment. Especially 2 year olds. They never seem to get tired of hearing the same things over and over again. Whether that’s the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar or the phrases of Mickey mouse coming from the aeroplane toy he rides around the kitchen.

It’s tempting to think these simple verses are all the same, and at first I thought they were… just simple words and phrases designed to hold kids interest.

But the more I hear it, the more respect I’ve got for the very hungry caterpillar… On the face of it, it’s just a few sentences about a caterpillar eating various fruit and then turning into a butterfly. But as you hear it more and more (and believe me, I have), you realise that on top of the simple repetition, there’s teaching about numbers and counting, about the days of the week, about change and the processes of nature, the sun and the moon, and there’s even a message about healthy eating.

But on top of that, it doesn’t talk down – it uses long words (butterfly, caterpillar), and difficult concepts (metamorphosis, getting ill from eating too much). And it doesn’t bypass things just because its audience won’t immediately understand them. It makes them work, and they respond to it- or at least George does – with enthusiasm and passion.

And it does all of this in a form that’s so economical with words and meanings that it’s a kind of poetry.

Contrast that with the Mickey mouse aeroplane toy - whose words are basically just sales pitches for disney’s empire. Constant mentions of the names of other characters in the Disney franchise are all you really get from it. The lyrics of his theme song are particularly good:

M-I-C-K-E-Y- M-O-U-S-E
Mickey mouse
Mickey mouse
Mickey mouse
Mickey mouse

…and so on.

All toddler’s literature is not the same.