Here’s something that has me intrigued: Millie loves pink.

She’s not a child who we’ve so far raised as a ‘girl’, (not that we’ve tried to raise her as anything except a decent, well-rounded human being), and yet still she loves things that are pink.  Given a choice between various colour clothes she will always choose pink ones if they’re to be had.

We’re trying to bring her up to be self-confident and able to think for herself, to feel free to ask questions and expect a decent reply*, so I find it interesting that given a free choice of all the colours in the world our little girl still chooses the stereotypically female one.

*which is why I was a bit annoyed the other day to discover that the Lovely Melanie had made up a silly story about what graves are.  On the other hand, I’ve been calling chuches ‘castles’ and not volunteering any information about what they’re for

An explanation of that photo

Yeah, you saw it right: Baby A has finally mastered sitting up.  She can now stay sat up, barring strong headwinds, for…well, we haven’t timed her yet, actually.  Shall we just say ‘Quite a while?’

It happened fairly suddenly yesterday, after we got home from the swimming baths.  Baby A was playing on her mat, grabbing at the toys that hang down from it, when I decided to help by sitting her up.  I soon realised she wasn’t leaning against me, but that’s not unusual – she’s been able to briefly sit up for a few weeks now.  However, when I moved my arm away she stayed sitting up.

And then she stayed sitting up some more.

And some more.

So I ran to get the camera (after putting some cushions behind her in case she fell) and came back to find Millie shrugging her shoulders on the sofa while Baby A, once more flat on her back, cried.

Still, we tried once more and again she remained sitting up.  Took some pictures: still sitting up.  Put her on the sofa: still sitting up.  Took her upstairs and put her on our bed: still sitting up!  Millie bounced on the bed (doing some of her increasingly impressive dancing): Baby A still sitting up!

What’s noticeable is that Baby A now puts her hands out to steady herself if she thinks she might fall over; previously she just fell over, as though falling over were an act of god that you couldn’t defend against.

The Lovely Melanie also swears that Baby A has started ‘dancing’.  By all accounts, when she heard the Beach Boys (you can’t go too far wrong with the Beach Boys, I always say) a few days ago she started shaking her head in a relatively rhythmic fashion and has apparently done it a couple more times since.  She only does it when there’s music playing nearby and when I’m not there to verify it.  If I see her do it, I’ll let you know.

Millie has just been to the eye doctor’s, where it’s been confirmed that she does have a squint.  Fortunately, it’s the ‘good’ type, a divergent squint.  Otherwise her eyesight is excellent and she almost certainly won’t need glasses or even a temporary patch over one eye.  The doctor also said that it’s obvious Millie is aware of it, which is also good, and means we can help her to correct it by gently pointing it out on occasion.  She’s going to jhave a proper hospital appointment to decide on treatment, which will be sometime around Christmas, they think.

Speaking of Christmas, I’ve just booked the Lovely Melanie and myself some tickets to see Lessons And Carols For Godless People, a kind of atheist variety show at UCL Bloomsbury in December.  I’ve been an atheist since before I even knew there was a word for ‘someone who thinks religion is silly’, and after reading Richard Dawkins’ excellent The God Delusion I’ve been a bit less inclined to make allowances for other people’s silliness.

Lessons And Carols For Godless People isn’t an opportunity to make a fuss about atheism, just a fun night out seeing some of my favourite comedians and speakers.  That said, I am minded to make a fuss about it on this blog sometime soon, because there’s been too damn little controversy here of late.

But not today. 😉

My goodness, I nearly forgot to mention that I took the all-new, all-petrol-powered, all-macho lawnmower out for a spin on Saturday!  Despite some minor nerves with regards to a combination of:-

  • petrol
  • engine oil
  • an eager-to-help Millie

everything went very smoothly.  Our front and back lawns are very definitely MOWED!  In fact, we got so excited about garden machinery that we’ve even gone and ordered a leaf-blower.

Seems a bit lazy, Stu,‘ I hear some of you saying, ‘Probably not very good for the environment, either – do you really need a-‘

Shut up!

When your rear garden backs onto a wood; when your front garden has three large deciduous trees within ten metres of it; when you’ve spent hours and hours of the previous autumn wielding a rake only to wake up the next morning to a garden yet again invisible under a blizzard of leaves, then – and only then – can you get self-righteous about those glorious near-magical devices that the uninitiated so calmly dismiss as mere ‘leaf-blowers.’

Do I make myself clear????

Baby A blues II

And again, poor Baby A, who’s actually off to the doctor’s this morning.  She’s been a bit sickie since we got back from Butlins, but this morning even The Smiler’s smile was a bit strained.  Babies having a perfectly clean and dry nappy first thing in the morning is seldom a good thing, but Baby A was also a bit subdued: she didn’t immediately turn on the charm and smile at her mother as usual when woken.

This was enough to hit panic buttons with the Lovely Melanie, who was soon on the ‘phone to the largely ineffectual NHSDirect (‘Is your child ill?‘  ‘Well, we think she probably is, yes, that’s why we phoned you.‘  ‘Then take her to see your GP.‘  ‘Should we give her some Calpol?‘  ‘Only if your GP recommends it.‘)

Anyway, I think Baby A will be fine.  True, she is pretty quiet, but she’s been sitting up and laughing this morning (in-between vomits, that is).  To my eternal credit I actually did suggest we go and see our GP a couple of days ago, since we had a similar thing happen with Millie at about the same age.  That time we left it too long and eventually had to go to A&E.  They were great, reassuring us, and giving Millie some antibiotics which soon had her back on her feet again, but it was a bit scary at the time.  Baby A, fortunately, has more reserves of energy (or “fat”, if you like) than Millie ever had so she’s unlikely to get as ill as that, but better safe than sorry, eh?

Honestly, children – if it’s not one thing it’s another!  I’ve got tickets to see Robert Forster play at the South Bank tonight (no backstage shenanigans though – strictly as a paying punter), but I was very late into work because I was looking after Baby A and Millie while the Lovely Melanie tried to get Baby A a doctor’s appointment (which she eventually did, for 11.20am this morning).  If Baby A’s still not very well then I may have give it a miss.  Which would be an expensive shame.

Interestingly, Millie was being rather unhelpful this morning and I told her (in my stern voice) that she was being very selfish.  A whole 20 minutes later, when things were slightly calmer, she told me that she wasn’t being selfish.  I felt a bit bad, because I had said that a bit too forcefully, and apologised, whereupon we had a cuddle and I helped Millie do some ‘mastics (gymnastics).

Worthwhile noting that your children do hear these things, do take them in and worry about them, though.

I’ll post more here about Baby A’s trip to the doctor when I hear back from the Lovely Melanie.


Um, yeah.  The doctor didn’t know what was wrong with Baby A, really.  That said, she didn’t think it was anything serious, either.  Baby A has been given some Gaviscon to take (as the doctor’s best guess was the old standby, reflux) and told to come back on Monday.

She has at least managed to drink some milk and not be sick, which is good.  Mind you, she’s been drinking milk and not being sick – on and off – all week, that’s part of the problem: it seems to be a part-time illness!

Baby A blues

Poor Baby A is not quite herself at the moment.  She’s off her food a little bit and has been since we were at Butlins.  She is eating and is hungry, she just isn’t as hungry as she was, and has an alarming tendency to throw up what she has eaten at random intervals.  Even the Lovely Melanie, normally quite stoic in the face of vomit, has been unpleasantly surprised and heard to squeal like a girl as Baby A deflates much like a balloon all over her.

Otherwise she seems fine, as happy as ever she was, which is a little odd.  And her latest achievement is that she’s learned to rock herself in her rocking chair by using one foot to push against its legs.  She’s painfully close to being able to sit up unassisted, too.  Painfully close, but not actually there yet.

Oh, and Millie has finally worked out how to use the stereo downstairs; so she can now play the Lazytown theme 24 hours a day.  Hopefully her next giant leap will be grasping the relationship between moving the computer mouse and the little cursor on the screen…

She has a hospital appointment next week, too, for them to take a look at her squint and hopefully do something to correct it.


I surprised a group of friends in conversation a few years back who were discussing the pros and cons of living forever.  I’m not sure who was more surprised: me, that they wouldn’t want to live forever, or they, that I most assuredly would.

When asked why I blurted out, because I want to see what happens next.

When I say what happens next I’m not talking about next week’s Eastenders or property prices in 2009, I’m talking about this kind of thing.

Structures we haven’t seen – hadn’t even imagined before now – that are big enough to drag whole groups of galaxies towards them.

What the hell happens next???

The (literary) Hunchback of Notre Dame

My current book, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem is so heavy that just carrying it around in my bag is giving me a bad back.  Trying to actually read it standing up on the train (because occasionally I have to stand up on the train into work) gives me a bonus points for cramp in the hand that’s straining to hold it up.

By the time it’s finished I’ll look like some Russian shot-putter, with one huge hand and a hunched shoulder.

On the plus side, I’ll be able to crush walnuts with one hand.