Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lydia starts nursery!

My baby (for a few weeks longer) started nursery today! I might have been more emotional if pregnancy hadn't caught up with me this week and I am more than ready for a bit of a chance for a sit down and a rest before baby comes! She will be going twice a week and both she and Miriam are very excited about going to the same nursery (although Lydia in the baby room and Miriam in the big room).

Lydia was very excited. Who is starting nursery today?


Lydia was adamant that because she was a big girl she would walk to nursery! (actually she wanted to go on "my scooter" and it was quite hard to persuade her she doesn't have a scooter!)

Going to nursery, Peppa in hand.

Today was just her "settling in" session so I had to stay in the building (although not with her) and she only did an hour. She's ready to go for a proper play on Monday :-) This didn't stop the fact that she has been exhausted since she came back! Nursery is hard work

The teddy she is cuddling is the one she had *wanted* to take to nursery before I negotiated her down to something more appropriately sized!

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Having settled in to the new house, I've been on another couple of trips.

First was another Crest Open Workshop - the COW - but this time quite exciting, in that I'd been invited to give a talk on my work. Specifically on some work I've done with the airline KLM to improve some of their software. You can see a video of it (about 25 minutes) here if you like. Another trip to London, but I didn't get to visit Heather this time as speakers are expected to stick around a actually "speak" with people!

I was also in Sheffield for two days at a workshop run by EPSRC - one of the UK Government's research councils - to learn about research funding. Besides the workshop (which was very good!) there were two other highlights for me. First, the James Bond style that my room key was presented in...

Second, I took a quick walk through the arches under the former Great Central Railway (Sheffield Victoria Station) that I'd spotted on my last visit. This is the Cobweb Bridge, can you see why? :)

The former station hotel
One more thing - it was Valentine's day not so long ago. Jay and I did get out on a proper date - meal and cinema thanks to my parents visiting!

Two other things worth sharing from the day. Naomi made me this card, which I thought brilliant...

I also saw these at work. I love working in a university :)

Maths humour is fun!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New House!

So, we moved house. We now have an extra bedroom for all those children that seem to be around here!

I thought before the whole process kicked off I'd get a picture of the girls' room at the old place. This was Lydia settling down to sleep.

The day we got the keys for the new house. Excitement all round!

Ahead of the move, we got all the childrens' clothes and other storage things down from the loft.
Maybe we need two houses :(


Moving day - oh dear, snow. The only weekend of the year when it snows.

Thanks to help from a lot of family and friends, we managed to move with pretty much only this van. Yeah, I got to drive a van. Awesome.
Despite having A LOT of help (thanks very much), moving day is still tiring and stressful.

Nevertheless, it's pleasing to have a new house.
 Another pleasing thing about the house is that it's ours...
So the girls can have pink walls in their room 
We can hide washing machines in another room, and have our dishwasher back
 and I can cut massive holes in the ceiling to give us a rather safer means of accessing all that gubbins in the loft.

The view from our bedroom window.

The girls settle in to their new bedroom. Lydia also made the switch to her big girl bed.

and we can now resume with all the usual stuff of life! Settled just in time for Naomi's birthday!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

My precious, beautiful SIX year old.

I can't believe you are six. SIX! How can you have been here for that long? How can you have been making this world a better place for nearly this long. A whole six years.

Naomi, you are such a bundle of energy.  You never stop. I mean NEVER. You wriggle, you wiggle, you a jiggle and you just never stop. I will admit that I find it tiring to be around your wiggling but I love your zest for life and your throwing-yourself-into-everything attitude. Life is certainly never boring with you around and you keep us on our toes.  Please never stop doing that (although let me have the occasional cup of tea!). I love to go running with you, I think you are a bit ambivalent about running, we'll do it you want to (which mainly seems to be if there is a medal at the end, a girl after my own heart) but I love spending time with you regardless.

I have been so proud of you this year, you have done a lot of growing up and a lot of maturing. You are coping so much better with things that would have left you quite unsettled before and I am proud that you are learning to trust Mummy and Daddy when we say it will be ok.  You are an especially good big sister, you love to help Lydia get dressed or Miriam cut something up and you love to show your little sisters how to do things to help Mummy when we are busy.  I am very excited about letting you help with the baby when it comes as I know you will be a big help to me and you have learned a lot about being gentle and careful since Lydia came along!

You still love all things craft. If it can be stuck, painted, glued, taped, glittered or coloured then you are in your element.  My recycling bin is looking forward to you learning to cut a shape from the edge of a piece of paper but I absolutely love watching your creative flair.  You are particularly into designing clothes and outfits and you are very good at it too. I am sure my scarves never look as good as when you have fashioned them into a dress for yourself!  I am quite sure you are going to end up as a designer of some description and with talent like this now there is absolutely no reason why not.

Baking and cooking is another love, we don't get to do it so much now you are at school. I should make more time for it, I am sorry. I think you love that it is essentially messy play with a snack at the end, I couldn't agree more.  Good choice.

You are definitely a people person, you would choose to have friends with you all the time if you could. You seem to bring people together and what a wonderful skill that is. I'm pleased you are going to have lots of siblings because it means you will always have a playmate on hand. I love watching you with your friends, you always seem to be having a fantastic time. Beign good with people will take you far in life, my girl.

Naomi Jane Maimie Brownlee, you are my precious, beautiful six year old daughter and this year has so much excitement ahead.  Becoming a big sister (again!), making our new house a home, learning new things, getting better at things we already do and I know you will do it all with enthusiasm and take the rest of us along with you. Love you so much baby girl (I know you are six but you will ALWAYS be my baby).

As you grow this year and as your love of creating continues, I pray that you will always know this in your heart.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them! 
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand –
    when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18 

Sunday, 8 January 2017


So, we're moving house soon - to here, just around the corner. Mainly so we can have an extra bedroom for the impending child. We get the keys tomorrow, so our house is now starting to resemble a warehouse once again:

Naomi finishing off her Hama Bead project in a sea of boxes
All very exciting!

As a side note, we are still looking for a tenant for our other house in Aberdeen. Details here - please let us know if you're interested.

Christmas 2016

Time for the obligatory round up of activities over this Christmas. The short version: three very excited girls, lots of friends and family, and two tired but happy parents!

The girls added some more of their own decorations to this year's tree. Well done!

Naomi was the lead role in her school's nativity "Upsy-Daisy Angel".
She really gave a star performance!

A visit to Granny and Granddad's ahead of Christmas - with a fun trip to their park.

Lots of sweet treats at Granny's!

Christmas eve and the obligatory items for Santa.

Alternative use for present carriers
"look Granny!"

Over to Grandma and Granddad's house on Christmas Day. More sweet treats await.

More presents - Lydia loves her Mr Potato Head

and her new dolly!

I was particularly excited that there was snow on Boxing Day.
Combined with cousins to play with, this was a brilliant day.

Lydia's first snowman

Miriam's first snowman larger than a carrot.

Granddad enjoying a compact game of table tennis (or "wiff waff")


I took this picture as I don't have a copy of the photo at home.
That's Prince Phil on the right, and me on the left receiving a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award.
I always felt it looked like I'd been identified for some crime.

Lemon panattoni - really very good.

Having a few more adults on hand to supervise (as well as being helpful for the sickness bugs that hit us all over the holidays) meant that the much loved activity of play dough could happen.

The girls also made me some birthday cakes

and a butterfly - what's not to like?

Naomi and her cousin drew up detailed plans for my birthday party.

Then ran the show very effectively. I had a lovely time.

One of the many party games. This was "chocolate six" - lifted straight from our church Christmas party.

More food!

Maybe a hint of the fun being had by all.