Saturday 24 December 2011


Once again I've been travelling.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Glasgow for a workshop connected with my research project. The purpose was showing people out with the project what we've been doing to get some feedback. Slightly nerve-wracking on my part, I was the only rep from the university for the day we did the demo. It all seemed to go okay though. This was the first time we'd shown our research to outsiders and the feedback was reasonably good, quite an encouragement :-)

As part of it I got to stay in a slightly wacky hotel, the citizen m. I've never had a remote control for the colours of room lights before!

It also just felt really good to be in Scotland again.

The following week I was in Aberdeen - RGU flew me up to give a talk on my research. That was pretty fun too, got some good comments and suggestions, and I got to fly on one of those tiny planes that had a great time landing on the day of great winds. I was going to put the slides online, but I've just looked through them and they don't really mean much without me talking.

In other exciting news, a journal paper I've been working on for over a year has nearly been accepted! Journal papers are where it's at for computing academics (whatever 'it' is), so this is a fairly big deal as it'll be my first one. I have some minor tweaks to do to it before it's acceptable, but it's finally looking like it might just be accepted.

Now of course we're back in Scotland again, this time for holidays. More on that to follow...

Friday 16 December 2011


The fun that one can have with a cardboard tube... Naomi discovered today that the former centre from a roll of wrapping paper made an odd sound when she sang into it. So she proceeded to do that for some time!

She also discovered today that one of her yellow bath ducks squeaks when squeezed. Needless to say it was even more fun when she found that bubbles came out of it underwater, and water shoots out when it gets full up! Sadly no video of that though.

Finally, here she is causing trouble in the kitchen last week. That gate was left open for about 20 seconds before she was through and pulling the cookery books down :)

Thursday 15 December 2011


In a beneficial move for us, our landlords have decided to make the most of England's extravagant sunshine and install some solar panels. (though I note it's not that extravagant a sunshine - according to this map there's not much difference in the same solar energy that falls here compared to Aberdeen!)

We'll ignore the fun that was involved emptying out the cupboard where the loft access is (it's in Naomi's bedroom, so napping that day was a bit different) and skip straight to the pictures of before the work...
...and after...
Thanks to the way the electric's counted, even if we use all of the electric generated by the panels (and so none of it is sold to the rest of the grid), our landlords don't get anything less than they would have otherwise (they get paid a flat rate for whatever's generated), but our bills also go down.

So far I reckon we've saved more than a pound! Maybe in the summer this will be more lucrative.

In other news, here's a geyser erupting from a pancake on Saturday...

Tuesday 13 December 2011


It is advent (in case you hadn't noticed) and we are in the run up to Naomi's first Christmas. Some time ago (while I was still pregnant last year) my Mum came across this and was kind enough to buy it for "the baby".

This year she has also been kind enough to fill each of the little drawers, at my request there is no chocolate in it as I think Naomi is still a wee bit too little for chocolate, so we have experienced many raisins. (Don't think that Naomi is being hard done by, though, she LOVES raisins!

Here she is eating her raisins for the day.

We have developed a post-morning nap ritual of going to the train and seeing what is in it that day and Naomi loves the ritual of it and has now started getting very excited whenever we go near the train, she knows she is going to love the contents :-)

Thursday 8 December 2011


... is what you need. Apparently.

More seriously, it's already nearly a couple of weeks since Naomi's dedication, and a post on it here is long overdue. By way of explanation, a dedication is simply where we dedicate a child to God - we pray for her and give thanks for her, and then everyone else prays for us as a family and makes a promise to help her grow up understanding how God loves her. It's like a baptism (or what is sometimes called a Christening) but without the water - we would like Naomi to make the choice to do that bit herself, and if she does, that she's old enough to remember the experience.

As well as prayers, there was also a slot of parents to share a bit about how much Naomi has impacted on our lives already and how precious she is. We also had a letter from Grandad McIntyre who was sad he couldn't be there.  He told Naomi she was a lucky wee girl because she would get to know about Jesus while she was still little, he also told her to have a lovely life.  Jay had to read it out and she only just managed to hold back the tears for the purposes of letting it be understood by others!

Part of the excitement for the weekend was a number of people visiting. Grandma & Grandad Brownlee, Uncle Ian, Liz and Cat (Naomi's God mother) were here for a few days; we also had Auntie Heather, Uncle Theo and cousins Steven and Holly come for the day, as well as many friends from in and around Loughborough. The house was a bit crowded:

(I also like the classic "baby plays with shiny thing" in the left picture!)

Everyone who came to church that day signed a card, and the children in Lighning Force made some little people to give to Naomi:

We also had the used of the Caves' house to have some room for a party afterwards. Thanks very much! Here's Naomi enjoying having a different house to play in (though it's not like she doesn't play a lot there anyway)

Many of you gave Naomi some beautiful gifts to celebrate the day, thank you so much! There were bracelets, books, a Lomongo Bible that had belonged to (and been translated by) Naomi's namesake, Jay's Auntie Maimie, and a plethora of cards and well wishes.  We really did appreciate them all, it was good to know you were all thinking of us.

We had hoped to share with you a picture of Naomi in her dedication outfit, she was wearing an authentic kilt that her Grandma bought for her.  We were both so busy on the day we forgot to get one but we think that someone in the family will have one, so hopefully it will follow soon!

Finally, we'd really hoped to get a recording of the dedication for those who couldn't be there. As it turns out my memory isn't good enough (every time I learn something new it pushes something else out...) and I forgot to ask for that. We do however have the talk that was given by Mel prior to the dedication, it's on the story of Naomi and Ruth from the Bible so is still relevant. You can get it here.

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Who'd have thought one could have so much fun with a box?

Tuesday 22 November 2011


Pretty much guaranteed to make Naomi smile is a ride on one's shoulders. The first few times we did this she was in hysterics but even though the novelty's worn off a bit she still enjoys it :-)

Friday 18 November 2011


Not just the parents! Although we are too... I noticed today that I've taken a few pictures of Naomi having a wee rest recently, and here they are.

I arrive home to this scene a few nights ago. After a quick feed things just seemed to peaceful she fell asleep. Jay thought that putting her down would wake her up, but apparently not.

Naomi seems to like holding on to things like the bars on her cot when asleep. This is her while we walked to church on Sunday.

She's not actually asleep here, just very tired! I was in the process of making dinner when my highly perceptive senses indicated to me that she might prefer an early bedtime. One uneaten meal later, this proved to be true.


What's not to like about these pictures? The first one now graces my desk at work and while it's hard to concentrate with her beaming at me all day, it does help to cheer me up if research isn't going to plan.

Tuesday 15 November 2011


I love watching Naomi play. Below is a clip showing her engaged in one of her favourite activities of late, playing with a spoon. She's taken to pretending to feed herself with it, using anything resembling a cup or bowl. She'll even sometimes offer Jay or me a taste of whatever it is.

You can also see in this video why we've not posted more shots of her playing - as soon as she sees the phone out she comes in for a closer look. Daddy's toy is clearly much more interesting!

Thursday 10 November 2011


As you can see here, Naomi is quite partial to playing with the stereotypical baby toy, a box!

Well, yesterday I bought/got a couple of "toys" (a food processor and a sewing machine!!) and so there were some boxes left over.  So far Naomi has sat in them, crawled in them and put them on her head!

I thought, though, I would share these pictures with you, as I think they are just too darned cute!

Tuesday 8 November 2011


Naomi's been learning a few things recently. First one is that she now seems to be able to wave - and has been waving whenever the opportunity presents itself. Mummy or daddy leaving the house; contestants on Family Fortunes; you name it!

She's also started dancing. It's pretty much just a bounce, but she only really does it when there's music being played (or when I have the guitar out)... Here she is in action:

(by the way, the tune being played is a mixture of a human jazz trumpeter and a computer running a genetic algorithm. They take it in turns to improvise solos. One of the coolest demos of artificial intelligence at work :) You can find it here )

Saturday 5 November 2011


About a year ago, we visited my sister in London, and on the saturday morning her husband Theo made pancakes for breakfast. This inspired us to find a gluten free pancake recipe, and it turned out to be quite good :-)

Thus we have instigated something of a minor tradition, that we now tend to have pancake on saturday mornings. Jay makes the mixture, then I cook them. Naomi seems to like them too! Today's were particularly good.

Below is a sample of our handiwork. If you look closely you'll see that one of the pancakes has decided to resemble the previous night's curry in colour- it turned out to be slightly spicy too...

Friday 4 November 2011


For those that don't know, I have got myself a job!

It was never the plan to go back to work but money has been a little tight recently so I looked around to see if I could find anything that might work around Naomi.  We eventually heard of a job at Small World Nursery, it is only 1.5 hours a day Monday to Friday working as their cleaner.  It is done in the evening which means that Sandy can/does look after Naomi in the evenings after work and so I don't feel as bad about leaving her because I know she is having some quality time with her Daddy while I'm at work.

So our new routine sees me heading out the door almost as soon as Sandy is home and getting back just as Naomi is getting out the bath which means I can still feed her just before one of us puts her to bed.  I get back early enough that if Sandy or I have any church activities we can still do them and if not we can spend the evening together (or just sit staring at the TV because we are too tired!)

Those who have known me for a long time will probably know that I am a messy soul, I'm certainly not renowned for being tidy, so it is quite hilarious that I am now working as a cleaner.  If I'm honest, it is not exactly my life's calling and I've not really worked any job before where every day is the same and I'm not massively keen on this aspect.  I am, however, enjoying having some time each day where I don't have to worry so much for Naomi, I'm using the time to listen to worship music or a sermon on my MP3 player, I am trying to make the time count for me and God, as long as I remember to clean the toilets there is no reason this can't be really healthy for me and my relationship with God.

To end, this is Naomi in her cot, I think the look on her face is saying "stop taking pictures, I am trying to sleep!" Tonight she went to sleep without even a hint of a cry or even a moan!

Monday 31 October 2011


Naomi's getting better at standing all the time. She seems to need less support every day!

Friday 28 October 2011

39 weeks and 5 days

Today is the 28th of October 2011, Naomi is 39 weeks and 5 days old today, this is the gestation she was when she was born, or put more simply, she has been out of me for as long as she was in!

We can now say with some certainty that her eyes are blue and her hair is blonde with a hint of what might be a wave, she looks a lot like her Daddy.  I can't tell you how much she weighs as it is too long since she was measured, but she maintains the 25th percentile and is beautifully in proportion, although even now at 9 months, she is wearing a lot of 3-6 month clothes and even some 0-3!  That said, she is definitely losing her baby look now and beginning to look more like a little girl.

a picture of Naomi next to a picture of Sandy as a baby

She can now crawl with great proficiency and can cruise round the furniture without too much effort.  She is desperate to stand up and every so often lets go of stuff to give it a go, so far not with much success though.  She loves to climb and explore and is into everything, she NEVER stops!

Food is certainly not an inconvenience to her, I guess she is like her Mummy.  Her favourites continue to be fish and brocolli, although she is quite partial to yoghurt and the odd banana too!

She now has six teeth which help with chewing too, two on the bottom and four on the top.  We assume they will even out at some point so she is less "top-heavy"!

Naomi loves things with music, she loves to listen to Daddy play the guitar or just a toy play a song.  At church she loves when we have music and sing, she even has a little dance and a wiggle along with what she hears!

Her favourite thing to do in a day is just to be outside, out for a walk, going to the park or just playing in the garden, it is all good fun for Naomi

Naomi is definitely an independent kind of girl, when we go to baby groups and the likes she doesn't so much as look back when she goes off to play with toys.  Although, she's still very keen on milk and so I she would be sad if I left her forever!  She is very clear on her likes and dislikes and will make it known if she is unhappy.

People often comment on how smiley Naomi is, and it's true.  She is often smiling and rarely crying, though she does have an incredibly loud cry when she chooses to use it, as if she only has on and off switches and hasn't yet discovered the volume control!
a smile from our girl!

Naomi can now sleeps through the night and normally does, though day time napping is not a favourite activity and never has been, so days where Daddy is at work can be long for Mummy!

Talking extends, so far, to babbling noises, though we are almost convinced that her Mummy noise is actually Mummy.  It is clear there are certain words she does understand though, Mummy, Daddy and Milk being definitely understood things!

Our baby girl is amazing, I am very excited to see how much more changes in the next 39 weeks and 5 days!

Thursday 27 October 2011


Right since before the start of weaning we've let Naomi play with a spoon so she wouldn't be too concerned when we started putting food on it and trying to put it in her mouth. She knew exactly what to do with it straight away.

More recently we've been giving her lots of finger food, and although there is still some mess involved she's pretty good at picking up bits of toast, fruit and so on and feeding herself. She also likes to hold a spoon herself while being fed, I guess she maybe feels she's helping that way! On occasions we've felt particularly brave and motivated to clean up afterwards, we've tried letting her have a shot with combining spoon and food herself. Here's the first venture into this where it's been reasonably successful...

Wednesday 26 October 2011


We honestly didn't put Naomi into this pose - she did it all by herself :)

Monday 24 October 2011


So, you may have gather from the recent proliferation of posts that we've amassed quite a few pictures and videos of Naomi that need shared! We are getting there now.

Last week I was on leave, in part to help tidy up the house and make it feel like we'd moved into a bigger place without actually having done so. Part of this process meant doing away with some of the moving boxes (mostly empty and stored just-in-case, but one still used to store stuff). There's still plenty of boxes left in our loft, so we freecycled a few of them. Naturally, while they waited in our living room to be taken away, Naomi discovered what all children eventually find out: boxes are great toys! Here she is enjoying some of them.

Sunday 23 October 2011


Naomi is getting more and more mobile these days, she is quite the adventurer too, getting into everything by climbing, crawling, standing, crying till you pick her up, whatever seems to work best at the time! And so the babyproofing commences!

All over our house you will now find those things for plugs that stop little fingers from mixing with electricity and we have a fair few of those rubbery things you stick on corners (corner cushions as my good friend Sarah called them, what exactly is different about a cushion for a corner? I was thinking for at least 5 minutes one day!) and we also now have a stair gate.

Ironically the stair gate isn't on the stairs, the layout of the house and positioning of doors is such that we don't need any there but we have now put one between the kitchen and the rest of the house. It was deemed necessary after Naomi pulled a casserole dish onto herself and it broke!

The thing is, she quite likes the stair gate, it is good for helping one stand up and it is good for climbing on, I'm sure she would consider it good for swinging on too, but thankfully she is unable to open it!

Here she is using the gate for standing purposes

Apparently it is good to be able to see Mummy even if we can't quite get to her!

Don't worry though, I'll work out how to get through this thing!

Saturday 22 October 2011


After a spell of learning words like "bababa" and "mumumum", Naomi has been growling the past few days. Not totally sure why - we think it might be because I make a sound a bit like a growl when tickling here - but it's still fun to hear :)

Friday 21 October 2011

Beautiful Girl

Recently Naomi has managed to get the hang of having her photo taken and seems to quite enjoy it.  On top of that she is starting to lose her baby look and beginning to look like a little girl and is get quite close to being a fully fledged "toddler"!

Sandy was taking some pictures of Naomi a few days ago and ended up with these gems, we think they show just how beautiful she is, we hope you enjoy!


Lemon meringue pie. Simultaneously the sweetest and bitterest words in the english language. Also delicious.

Thursday 20 October 2011


Much as i'm not one for tv shows that feel the need to have a competitive element, we followed the great british bakeoff very closley over the last few weeks. The main appeal being the baking. Anyhow, here is the result of our first inspiration from the programme, some brandy snaps. They don't look great, but golly, they did taste good! They're also gluten free. I'd attach some to the post for you to try, except for two things. 1. We've eaten all of them. 2. One can't send food on the internet.

Tuesday 11 October 2011


So, the students are back. Working in a university this is obviously quite a big deal, but in a town like Loughborough (which is in many ways a university with a town attached) it makes a huge difference. I don't remember the place being this busy before the summer, but the place is mad now! Two weeks ago was moving in time, and there were people everywhere.

This is quite well illustrated by my ability to park a bike on a sunny day during the holidays...

Contrasted with a rather less hot day at the end of last week...

Still, I won't complain, the place has got a great amount of life again!

In other news, this week I got to sit in on a class, my first lecture where I wasn't at the front in more than six years. There's a course going this week about building energy, and it was suggested that it might help me to understand the problems I'm working on better. I quite enjoyed it - and was quite suprised by how quickly I got back in to learn-mode. There's two more for me to go to later in the week too; and sandwiched in between them is me giving a talk to the computing people here about my research. A diverse week lies ahead...

Finally, many will be aware of this already, but a couple of weeks ago we received a moving in present. No, we've not moved since last October, and this was indeed ordered in 2010. Here are some flowers that rank among the latest to arrive in existence:


Naomi and I went for a walk to the park today, we often do because it is a pretty place to walk around.

We often see squirrels around the place but today we managed to get really close, Naomi was fascinated by the wee creatures running around climbing the trees and jumping across branches (giving the amount of climbing Naomi has done recently I suspect she was jealous of there agility)

I didn't have the proper camera with me, just my 'phone, but I thought you'd like to see the pictures of the squirrels

Of course, though, I know you would love to see a picture of Naomi, and so here is a photo of the cheeky girl herself enjoying having Daddy at home over the weekend