Sunday 23 November 2014


As Naomi grows up, her speech is now getting very good. We wanted to keep track of some of her toddler-isms, one or two of which remain but will no doubt go once she learns to talk "propa-like"...

Hungee - hungry
Cuggle - still cute, cuddle
Hip hops - hiccups
Tiewad - tired
Plastic - plaster
Racket - cracker
Pincense - Princess
Heeooowl - hole. she still does this, and now Miriam's picked it up too. The sound is a bit like the RP way of saying it, but with a Scottish slant, so more of an "ooh" sound.
Appy - nappy
I'm exciting - "I'm excited"
Ninner - the last meal of the day.
Man-ma - Grandma, that's my mum. Bizarre in part because she can easily make all the constituent sounds, but also because Miriam managed the word just fine. Also "Granny" (Jay's mum) seems to be said quite proficiently.

Also, a few phrases that managed excessive use over time:

"What ya doin?" - actually, I think this is a phrase I use that she's picked up. Sorry about that.
"What's that noise" - especially precious during the church's 2 minute silence last year. Miriam's adopted this one now, often following flatulence.
Silly me - she still does this. Usually following classic sit-com style situations.
"Oh", with shoulder drop and head tilt - upon realising something particularly obvious.
"Xxx is my best friend" - not just people, but everything - sometimes even non-nouns.
It's hiding - anything that can't be found.
clip-clops - posh shoes. Her dressing-up high heels have bits in them so the click on the floor, I guess that's where this word comes from...
clip-clops-wellies - posh boots

midlives - well, this term is quite a new one. You can maybe guess why...


Just a quick one today. Miriam is going through a ridiculously cute phase at the moment, where she has just learned about shadows.

"Hello shadow" she says, and then waves, and gets excited because the shadow waves back (this being an extension of waving at everything just now - planes, birds, trees, houses, cars, balloons, the nursery, sometimes even people). This means that trips anywhere during the wintry period of low sun and long shadows have become quite tedious - constantly looking back to see the shadow. Walking under streetlights, every one is a new piece of fun: "Shadow gone!" then being doubly excited "Shadow back!"

A truly fun part of parenting.

Daddy learns too late that using the flash makes the shadow go away.
Ho-hum, every day's a school day.

Monday 10 November 2014

Miriam turns two

Two weeks ago while waiting for Lydia to be born I was thinking about how small Miriam was, now she has a younger sibling, has turned two and appears to have doubled in size overnight!

Here are some highlights from her day

The day started with presents

Naomi desperate for the parcels to be hers!

Grandma did give her a little thing

A tea set

Some post present opening drawing and sticking

Every birthday needs some birthday cake

Miriam loved her "Happy to you" cake, as she insisted on calling it, she had also very much enjoyed having Happy Birthday sung to her in Church in the morning.

A fun day was had by one and all, it must have been tiring too as pretty much everyone slept in this morning!

Sunday 9 November 2014


Oh Miriam, how have we got here? You are two! Two years old! So much has happened in those two years it is hard to believe you've been here such a short time and yet I can't believe you've been here so long!

You have always had a very sweet temperament and as a toddler this is no less true than it was before.  You love to care for people and help people. I will be hanging out laundry and I'll hear a wee voice pipe up "I help?" and then you do.  You like to help with whatever you can, like tidying up the toys at the end of the day and you like to make sure that people are warm enough and don't need a blanket.  You are particularly keen just now that Lydia always be wearing a hat.  If anyone seems not on their usual form you'll be there making sure they are not a "bit sad?"

You like to take your time to suss out a situation before you interact with things. Lydia was four days old before you wanted to cuddle but you were beautifully gentle once you did. You are shaping up to be a wonderful big sister although I can tell you are a little put out not to be littlest any more. Sorry about that.  In time I think you'll enjoy being able to boss Lydia around, at toddler groups you like to make the most of being one of the bigger ones and normally being one of the more verbal ones.

Your speech is amazing for your age, your vocabulary is large and you are also incredible at putting together sentences.  "Mummy, why you sitting in Daddy's chair?" being an example of something well within your capabilities.

You love to draw and you are quite good at it too.  Puzzles are another favourite and you often have  a go at your sister's ones too for a bit more of a challenge.  You are very much getting into imaginary play too with our toy kitchen seeing daily use as well as games of doctors or mummy and baby if they're instigated by Naomi.  Another favourite activity is playing with our train set or pushing cars around. You will also spend ages playing with our doll's house or our "Peppa house" making up games for all the characters.

You love your teddies, Cat (in the picture above), Doggy (and currently Peppa) go pretty much everywhere you do and you like to cuddle Cat in particular if you're feeling unsure in any situation. They would all benefit from a few more trips through the washing machine and I fear they will fall apart before you are ready to give them up but I love that you gain comfort from something so simple.  With Cat by your side you are willing to go to creches or to try out new toddler groups without much fuss and you are a blessing to Mummy in this way.

You are very funny, you make us laugh lots. Like thanking Jesus for cake every night, I think just because you know it makes us smile. You have a great sense of comedic timing with a well timed question or smile bringing a room to laughter.

I love watching you make friends, just now you are happy to be friends with Naomi's friends but you are very sociable, love being around people whether we go to someone's house to play or even better have someone come and stay in our house for a more constant source of play mate.

It has been an incredible year watching you grow and flourish, I am genuinely excited to watch you develop as a big sister and grow this year from a toddler into a little girl.  You are very precious and I fear that my parenting skills aren't up to the task, you are so different to Naomi that I haven't developed techniques for a child with a gentler spirit but I trust that God will help me help you grow, learn and develop into the beautiful child He has made you to be.

I love you baby girl and still can't believe that I get to be your Mummy this and every day.

This will be my prayer for you as you grow

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
                                                                                                                          Philippians 4:5-9

Tuesday 4 November 2014


A couple of months ago I was dropping Naomi off at Nursery, and her key worker came up to me. She said "Naomi tells me that she is very proud that her Mummy and Daddy are scientists, and as we are looking at science just now, I wondered if you would like to come and do a presentation for us?" Well, I suppose I am a computer scientist, Jay did chemistry at uni, and we do take a general interest in such things...

Being the extrovert that I am*, naturally I leapt at the chance. A couple of days later, Jay and I agreed that we could do something, probably mostly chemistry based. We settled on a date (21 October - after the tattie holidays but hopefully plenty of time before D-Day) and indicated that we'd do it. This would be for the whole nursery, so around 30 3-4 years olds.
*this may be sarcastic

We had a lot of fun trying out different experiments we could do. Try going for "kids experiments" in YouTube for some ideas! Eventually we settled on a set of four things that we could do. Here's a bit of a summary - it's all stuff using household things so you could replicate them quite easily. In the end we were quite pleased that we held the attention of a whole nursery for nearly 20 minutes. Result!

We explained who were were, that some people like science as a job and some people like it just for fun. It's all about understanding how things work, some of which you can see and some you can't. We then confused the children by telling them that I'm a "different kind of doctor". Following the obligatory disclaimer about not just doing experiments with any old stuff you find in the house, we got on with the experiments. As we always do with Naomi, we tried to explain what was going on, and were quite impressed with how much the children took in.

Iodine clock

This is explained in detail here. This one uses the most exotic chemicals of the lot, but all available from the pharmacist quite cheaply: iodine, vitamin C (we used soluble tablets), hydrogen peroxide (which can be used as a mouthwash), and corn starch (cornflour). The idea here is that you mix these together in two stages. The first one changes the iodine from brown to colourless instantly. The second mixing sets off two reactions, one of which you can't see but stops the other reaction happening straight away. After a while, the final reaction can get going and the mixture changes to blue-black quite dramatically. A video of a less-impressive version from one of our practice experiments is below. On the day, it worked perfectly: the delayed colour change kicked in after about 40s (the practices had it at anywhere between 30s and 5 minutes as I was being quite imprecise with measurements). This allowed just enough time to explain it and for some people to get bored and look away, only to be drawn back by the others going "ooooh". Great!

This starts straight after the mixing has happened. The first two minutes of this are pretty boring. Skip to near the end to see the colour change if you like!

House drawing

A node towards my work, we explained how computer programs work, I gave instructions to Jay on how to draw a house, and we worked it so that I just gave shapes rather than where to put them, and Jay ended up with a muddle rather than the nice house we'd prepared earlier. The idea was to show that computers are only as clever as the instructions that they're given, which must be right.

Vinegar battery

Okay, so not everyone has some LEDs lying around, but in this one we made a battery and lit up and LED with it. The same principle as the more well-known lemon battery (and most single-use batteries), this uses the effect that two different metals in an acid create a voltage between them. See here for a little more detail. Take some plastic cups, fill with water, vinegar and a little salt, and put in a galvanised nail and a piece of copper (I took some from a piece of twin and earth). Three of these in series is enough to light up a red LED, although not very visibly in a bright nursery!

Hot / cold water density
Demonstration that hot water is less dense than cold, so it floats, explained here. Take some tap-hot water and add red food colouring, and cold water with blue food colouring. Put into separate glasses (filled right up to the brim), put a plastic panel on top of the hot one (we used a cutout from a takeaway tub lid). Carefully tip the hot one upside down, place on top of the cold, and remove the panel. The hot and cold stay separate rather than mixing up, because the hot is less dense and floats on top of the cold. (time didn't allow this for us, but you can do it the other way round to show that the hot and cold swap around if the hot starts on the bottom, mixing up and turning purple in the process). Naomi remembered this one about a week later when we were talking about something else - I think it was about how balloons float!

We then finished with some general questions from the children:
  • Where can you buy a magic wand?
  • Why is the sky red at night?
  • How do planes stay in sky?
I think we did a reasonable job with these too :)

Obligatory photos follow. Obviously we can't show ones with non-Brownlee children in, so you'll just need to trust us when we say that they were captivated!

Naomi points to the "Science is Awesome" sign in the nursery

"You mix this in here, then this in there"

The battery

Adding some vinegar

Mixing up the iodine clock

Good explanations are always accompanied by gesticulations

Explanations were a little delayed in places because Miriam joined us and wanted to help. Mummy to the rescue!

The house that needed drawn
Trying to draw the house

Naomi was quite concerned that her Mummy couldn't draw the house, so she showed her how to do it.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Lydia Finlay Hannah Brownlee

Hello everyone! We thought we ought to update you to the presence of a new person in our lives!

Here is Lydia, born on Thursday October 30th at 1.40pm at home as planned. It had been a long slog to get there and she was perfect, as you can see I was exhausted.

Here are lots more photos, as you can see lots of them are at the hospital, Lydia was perfect but I added a wee bit of drama to proceedings by needing a bit of hospital treatment.  It was a scary wee while but we are all good now and learning to be a family of five!

Naomi and Miriam are learning to be gentle with their affection but they love their new sister lots

Sandy loves Lydia too

And here is the reward I have been looking forward to for around 9 months! (I did share the cheese)