Wednesday 27 February 2013


I have been dreading this day since almost the day Naomi was born!  She is giving up her nap :-( this is tiring for Mummy and hard work for Naomi as she doesn't really need the nap but doesn't quite have the energy to get through the day without being really naughty!!

Anyway, on the plus side, it now provides us with lots of opportunity for going out in the afternoon where as before we had to come back home for sleep.

Today was a beautiful day so we went to the park

Naomi was so fast at throwing herself down the slide there was barely time to capture the picture

The slide continues to be one of Naomi's favourite toys at the park

There are lots of bridge type things to walk up/along

For once, Naomi was being careful and holding on!
This is the most rubbish roundabout in the world,  but Naomi gave it a quick go

In some exciting news, Miriam tried out the swing for the first time

Looking a little nonplussed!
Both girls enjoyed going on the big swing.  Together!

Perhaps I'll share some more of my afternoon antics with you over the coming weeks...


Many of you will be aware already that our oven died at the weekend, and our landlord most impressively quickly replaced it with a shiny new one. Just before the incident (and entirely unrelated), our date night last week consisted of our first shot at making chocolate eclairs.

Fresh out of the oven

The best looking one!

We used Mary Berry's Baking Bible and it turns out they were really quite easy to do. Yes, they tasted incredible!

Naomi also had a go at baking at the weekend. She and I were making things with some play-doh, and I made a small box shape. She then stuck a sausage-shaped bit on the top and started singing the birthday song to me! She even blew out the pretend candle.

I thought I'd close with a picture of Miriam yesterday. We were asked for a photo of her, and this is with us trying to get her to smile. Maybe next time!

Friday 22 February 2013


I've saved up a few videos over the past couple of weeks. Here we go...

Naomi spent a few minutes doing a jack-in-the-box thing with a toy caterpillar and one of Miriam's baby toys. Of course, when the camera came out that was much more interesting! Here we also see an example of some of her over-enthusiasm when playing with her sister.

Miriam's learning how to play - here she is enjoying her baby gym...

Playing extends to holding on to things like rattles, which she's getting pretty good at! She's also getting the hang of using her vocal chords - here she is singing as she did all of yesterday.

Here's Naomi having a go at singing The Wheels on the Bus, with Mummy helping her to sing the monkey song.

Finally, Naomi insisted that Teddy joined us for breakfast this morning...

Tuesday 19 February 2013


Now Naomi has the chance to watch her Mummy and Daddy looking after a baby, she's got a whole new take on how to play with Dolly. It's wonderful watching her be so caring (and often she's more gentle with Dolly than with Miriam, to our concern...). This post has been in the making for ages so some of the pictures are a little old now.

Dolly having a go a the baby gym


Even breast feeding!

Dolly has a bath. (Dolly has also visited the real bath, about a year ago but her body is made of fabric so she had to spend a while in the airing cupboard after that incident)

Dolly really likes the bouncy chair!

The potty is also unexpectedly fun too.

Toothbrushing has become much harder now Naomi insists on brushing Dolly's  teeth at the same time as we do hers.

Miriam has had conjunctivitis for the past few days and has had a lot of eye cleaning. Apparently Dolly was also infected.

Naomi is getting the hang of being gentle with her sister, and makes her best effort to console her.

Friday 15 February 2013


So I've been on a little work-related jaunt, my first trip away from home since Miriam was born. This was just for two days so not as bad as it might have been, and although tired Jay has done a great job of managing the two little girls. I did miss them very much though.

The trip was to Newcastle-upon-Tyne (naturally I was keeping my Mackem family credentials on the down-low during this exercise), for an away-pair-of-days related to the project I'm now working on, SECURE. It's a joint venture between four universities looking at different aspects of sustainability in cities, and the point of this trip was to let the different groups share what they've been up to and work out how we join it all together. My job on the project (funded for about nine months or so) is looking at optimisation, an example being along the lines of "if you're a council and have £10m to spend on home improvements, what's the best way to spread it across the houses in a city to save most energy". Quite an interesting computing problem as there are potentially tens of thousands of variables, and genetic algorithms normally get applied to problems with up to a few hundred.

On to some details of the trip. I stayed in room 1101, which for some reason is my favourite binary number. (what do you mean, "you don't have one"?)

I felt a little bit like I was about to go into Bender's apartment, but no robots were to be seen. The hotel was deceptive - I was on the eleventh floor, but have come from the outside, I initially thought this meant sleeping on the roof...

It turns out that the main entrance is on the sixth floor. Newcastle is one of those cities which has streets on multiple levels all intertwined. I quite like that.

The hotel was quite close to the centre, and had quite good views out of the front...

... not so much from my room though:

That's the East Coast mainline on the left. Good thing I like trains!

All in all quite an enjoyable (and dare I say productive?) trip, but I'm glad to be back. It's only been two days and Naomi in particular seems to have grown up by a good couple of months! So many new words in such a short time.

Monday 11 February 2013

Another Weekend Away

As you can read here and here the Brownlee family are now well and truly in the habit of going on our Church's weekend away.  We are now just back from our third one and thought we'd share some of our goings on and a few fun photos we took along the way.

This year the weekend away was in a new venue.  Not far from Loughborough we were staying in the Whitemoor Lakes Activity Centre, it's a newish place and everything was under one roof and it was even catered.

Unlike previous years, Naomi was now sleeping in a bed! I was slightly concerned when we walked in to see that there was a bunk bed (and therefore ladder) but Naomi was incredible and didn't try (too hard) to climb up it and did a very good job at bed and nap times for not getting out of bed.

Trying out the bed
Naomi really enjoyed the food that was on offer, especially all the puddings she had on offer as we don't eat pudding all that often at home.  Here you can see her complete joy at being allowed a donut!

In previous years there has been a walk organised and Naomi and Sandy have gone both years (although I didn't go the first year as I had just had a baby!!).  Unfortunately this year there wasn't really a good place to go out that wasn't unsafe (we were right next to a very big lake) but Sandy and I took the girls out for a little fresh air.

Naomi having a look at some climbing equipment belonging to the centre
This was the view from our room, it lets you see the edge of the lake and also some climbing towers and canoes
Feeling slightly childish I found myself being quite concerned by this notice next to the toilet, where should we put our wee, or indeed anything else for that matter...

We were there, of course, for the teaching and the worship time and although we had to miss quite a lot because of various childcare requirements we both managed to hear some teaching on "coming of age" (our church is 20 years old this year) and we each managed to get some time to worship God without Naomi as she was having an absolute blast in the creche, playing and exploring how God can heal and help us feel better.  She loved the creche a lot and spent much of the time asking to go to "creshhhhhh".

We all came home tired but very happy and glad to have spent time with our friends and with God.

Finally we have some pictures of Miriam for you.  She seems to have decided that after a weekend of being held a lot and sat on people's knees a lot she should be able to sit up all the time.  This means that after sitting her in the bouncy chair for as little as a couple of minutes she started doing this...

This isn't a massively safe situation so we decided it was time to break out the bumbo (the timing of this is incredible as we had loaned it to someone and had only got it back yesterday!)

It was quite tiring for her but she seemed to like it a lot.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Dear Tooth Fairy...

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I know you normally come into action when teeth start falling out, but I find it necessary to write a letter of complaint and I wouldn't know who else to send it to.


The thing is, Naomi's nappies are just hideous just now and I put this squarely down to the coming in of her four remaining teeth.  I have only limited energy just now as I am also trying to rear a small baby and the extra washing is not appreciated, neither is the extra time spent trying to persuade a wriggly toddler to lie still.

Also, the sleepless nights are not all that ideal either.  They could be worse and I don't know for sure that teeth have any part in the problem but I would quite like them to stop now, like I say, I'm already dealing with a little baby and that takes up quite enough of my night time.

Also, and this is the most important thing.  When I look at Naomi chewing on her hands and trying to make herself feel better I just want to make it all better.  So if you can just arrange for the last few teeth to appear, and soon, so this stage of her life can just be over, that would be much appreciated.


Naomi's Mummy

P.S.  If you can arrange for Miriam's teeth to come in without any drama that would also be considered a good thing!

Saturday 2 February 2013

Things I thought I'd never do...

"I'll never do that!" "I'll never say that!"

We all have things we thought we would never do or say with or to our children, someone I follow on twitter thought they'd never use alcohol hand gel after a nappy change, they'd always wash their hands properly.  They *thought* that's what they'd do!

So here are some things I'd heard parents do, that I genuinely thought I'd never, ever do (but do)!

  1. I do actually put my finger inside my children's noses to remove snot!
  2. Let my child have a fourth biscuit in ten minutes because I just don't have the energy to say no any more.
  3. Make a cup of tea that I not only don't finish but in fact don't even start.
  4. Give my child a biscuit to make it be quiet.
  5. Put cbeebies on to babysit my child for a minute or ten.
  6. Walk my child around in a buggy for an hour in the vain hope that it will make them fall asleep.
  7. Use a dummy
  8. Leave the house already covered in sick and aware of this fact without first changing my clothes.
  9. Shout at my child (Although I suspected this one might prove too hard, I had this crazy idea I would remain calm and in control and always use appropriate non-shouting discipline)
  10. Use my finger, covered in my own saliva, to clean a child's face.

And in related but happier news, I never really thought I'd paint with my child, I thought it would stress me out to much but here is Naomi and I enjoying a happy afternoon painting pictures (Miriam did some footprints too)

Friday 1 February 2013

Jobs Day

Naomi, Miriam and I spend most mornings out the house and at a group of some sort.  It makes us all happy, it lets Naomi play and me talk to other adults.  Miriam normally manages a sneaky cuddle from someone too.  In fact we have a group we can go to every day apart from every second Friday.  Today was one of those Fridays.  Sometimes I declare it a day for going to the park but unfortunately my clean washing pile looked a little like this (in fact there was more lurking in the tumble drier) and so I had to declare it jobs day

It was a nice enough day to hang things on the line so Naomi and Miriam came out to help, although Naomi mainly played with her football!

There was also a small incident whereby Naomi tried to feed Miriam so random leaves

Overcome with tiredness, Miriam decided to have a rest from jobs day

It was decided that cooking would be the best thing to do while Miriam slept, Naomi helped

That's a Delia Smith book right out the 70s that she's studying there
Soon, though, she decided that "dressing up" in all the hats and scarves and Mummy's shoes was much more fun...

And also taking dolly for a walk in the pram

The next part of the day was better appreciated as we had some jobs to do in town, so off we went

You can just see Naomi there (next to the letters we went to post to Grandma and Granny) but now that she's bigger she does a lot of this too

When we got home it was lunch time so we had mexican wraps using left over chilli from two nights ago

 Then we stopped for a bit of a dance and a play with a drum

The next conversation went like this

"Mummy is just nipping upstairs, wait here for me, I'll only be a minute"

Ten seconds later this scene was found, despite not being allowed to climb the stairs on our own

Oh well, must be time for a snack after all this hard work...

Mummy was hoping for a sit down during nap time, but while Naomi slept, Miriam did this

(although, there was about 15 minutes of concurrent napping that allowed this blog post to be written!)

All in a days work!