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2010-12-07 08:50 pm

Christmas Post

If you'd like to get a card, please leave a comment. All comments are screened as usual.
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2010-12-07 08:48 pm

Well Hello There

I'm still alive, doing well, but more likely to be found on Twitter and Facebook these days. I keep a researchblog under and some more generic ramblings end up on, if anybody would like to come have a look.

I've thought a lot about what to do with this LiveJournal. I'd like to keep the community and friends I've made here, so I'll be coming to the site a lot more often. I may also cross-post (friends-locked) posts from my Posterous, and put personal stuff here that I don't want to link to on Facebook or Twitter.

I would also like to have an online space that is private. I see Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, and my Wordpress blog as very public spaces. My "friends" and readers there include work colleagues, students, and people I exchange ideas with online. However, I do need a private space to vent and talk to people and hear about how other people are doing. My post-natal depression has really hit my ability to socialise, and I am finding it very hard to dig myself out of this self-imposed isolation. Online, on the other hand, is where I can still interact and have meaningful conversations with more than two people without freezing in self-doubt.

So, posting will be infrequent, but commenting on your journals will not!

It's nice to be back :)
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2010-04-24 06:50 pm

(no subject)

Help perceval and get your own badge!
(The Livejournal Electioniser was made by robhu)

Hmm, typical of the LJ population ...
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2009-12-24 01:36 pm

Merry Christmas / Season's Greetings!

Season's Greetings / Merry Christmas / Happy belated Solstice / Chanukah!

I'm really sorry that I didn't get to write any Christmas cards this year as the last two months were extremely busy, but I hope to be writing (and posting!) more in the new year.

See you again in 2010 :)
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2009-10-14 07:17 pm

Yes, this thing is still on!

I am quite active on facebook and twitter - if you know my RL name, come over and say hi / friend me! I am firstnamelastname there. I don't crosspost from twitter because I don't want to make too blatantly obvious links between this blog and my RL identity.

I haven't been commenting or reading much because I do a lot of blog reading via RSS these days, and LJ doesn't have a convenient iPhone client for reading entries afaik.

Kids are doing great - son is walking and chatting away, using one-word sentences in both languages. He has a strong tendency to onomatopoeia (neenaw, meouw, woof) and is fascinated by anything with wheels / round / that is ball-shaped. Daughter is speaking more and more Gaelic. The turning point came with our trip to Skye, where she was immersed in a much smaller Gaelic nursery setting for two mornings. She even asked me in Gaelic today "where's Daddy?". I'm trying to speak as much as possible myself. Daughter is also much more into dolls. At four and a bit, she's finally starting to want to name them and plays mum-and-baby.
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2009-08-09 11:39 pm

Happy fourth birthday!

On Saturday, our miracle child celebrated her fourth birthday. I will always remember the incredible support from my LJ friends while we were waiting for her to arrive, and the comments on the post where I announced the pregnancy.

And now she's been here for longer than we had to wait for her, and she's got a little brother, too. It is a privilege to be her Mama. She is very affectionate and often tells her Dad and me that she misses us when we're at work and she's at nursery.

In company, she's quiet, but she can be boisterous, opinionated, and wild. She loves cuddling and being cuddled, carried, and being pushed in her buggy (still, at four!). She still needs a rest or downtime most days, and will sometimes fall asleep on her way home from nursery.

Her play is highly imaginative, often reenacting situations from home or from nursery. She enjoys games, has started singing longish songs to herself. Although she loves princesses, in particular princess Belle, clothes, and shoes with heels that go "clack-clack", she will also happily play with trains and cars. She treasures her toy dinosaurs and her favourite current film is "Monsters vs. Aliens". Her favourite monster is the Missing Link, and she's on an "Incredibles" trip at the moment, too. She plays with dolls, too, having become more maternal in the past couple of months. She has a wide range of favourite books, and goes through phases of insisting on a certain book at bed time. She's not ready for chapter books yet, but she enjoys a wide variety of picture books and short fairy-tales.

She has also become strongly attached to friends, in particular a little girl at nursery and a little girl at German school. We have been on quite a few playdates.

She loves her little brother (her "baby"). She will tell him off when he misbehaves and cuddle him when she sees him. She adores collecting him from nursery, where she will spend at least five minutes playing with all the baby toys.

Her dominant language is still German, but English is catching up fast. She plays in English, and talks to her brother a lot in English. I will need to start playing with her more to give her German play vocabulary, and will need to start reminding her that she can/should speak German with her little brother. She can count to 20 in English and German and Gaelic and is starting to move beyond 20. She knows her letters, and can spell a few words, including her name. At the moment, she is entranced by an iPhone app called "PocketPhonics", where she spells words that are sounded out to her. She also enjoys playing FlightControl on "her" iPod Touch.

Next year, it'll be time for school, and she'll have to pay her own way on the bus. How time flies ...
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2009-08-09 11:32 pm

What a staycation!

I had so many nice things planned for my two days off when both kids were at nursery. (The luxury, the luxury!) I did get to talk to [personal profile] actionreplay, browse book stores, geek with my MacBook, and work out briefly. I also managed to see Coco before Chanel with a friend. (The film is lovely, very leisurely pace, and an intriguing story.)

But I also managed to exacerbate my cold and lose my voice. For the past couple of nights, I have been sleeping in the attic, so that my coughing doesn't wake the rest of the family up. I anticipate the return of my voice for next weekend, roughly - I can't NOT speak, and as those of you with small children know, you sometimes do have to speak up / raise your voice with them.
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2009-08-06 09:39 pm

(no subject)

Apart from DS walking, I also finally replaced my old Dell Inspiron, purchased in 2004 from Dell Outlet, with a new main private computer.

Welcome Explosive Runes, a 13 inch MacBook Pro!

Yes, I've gone and drunk the Kool Aid, and I am ecstatic.

Bonus points to those who can guess the reason for the name.
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2009-08-04 08:51 pm

hello - is this thing still on?

Yes, I'm still alive. But bedtimes are late these days, and neither of the kids falls asleep easily, and they're still not in their own room, and if they are still awake, at least DD is likely to come find whoever is not with her.

This, too, shall pass.

Oh, and according to nursery, DS walked the length of the toddler room today - a first! He's not walking for us yet, he insists on holding at least one hand.

In the mean time, I'll endeavour to keep posting daily, even if it's only a small snippet such as this.
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2009-05-25 08:10 pm

Writing non-fiction

I love reading non-fiction. A recent series on the Inverse Squares blog has been very enlightening - it discusses
the process of getting non-fiction published.

Currently, I have three books on the go: Lewis Wolpert's Malignant Sadness, Carl Honoré's Under Pressure and Bird and Sherwin's biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, American Prometheus. Under Pressure is a journalisty book about why it's not a good idea to hothouse one's children. I will start reading Malignant Sadness again from the beginning - I lost track of where I am in the book, and it's a very lucid summary of research on all sorts of different aspects of depression. American Prometheus is fascinating - we're just about to get to the point where Oppenheimer is drawn into the bomb project.
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2009-05-23 06:03 pm

(no subject)

here is another test to see whether I can cross-post to LJ from dreamwidth ... I am percival on DW.
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2009-05-22 06:34 pm


Thanks to Queenriley, I now have an account! Unfortunately, perceval was already taken, so I'm percival (as I was on the Quill).

I you can see this, please comment with your DW user name :)
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2009-05-22 11:38 am


Any spare invites? Especially if I promise to post more (pretty please?)

Comments are screened.
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2009-05-18 09:45 pm

Tandem Nursing

I wrote a guest post over at the Mommy News Blog . Enjoy!
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2009-04-15 10:06 pm

(no subject)

Deep sigh - this is public. I've been to the GP, and diagnosed with post natal depression (PND). I saw somebody I trust and who has seen me through two pregnancies. Having prepared an extremely thorough history certainly helped get me through the appointment; I was overcome and unable to speak at first. It seems that I'm doing all the right self-help things (exercise, eating better, building a support circle of friends including DH who help, sleep, rest, self-directed cognitive therapy workbooks that come NHS recommended). The PND has been waxing and waning ever since DS was born. So far, I've had three flare-ups, each worse than the last. I am now getting additional help to break the cycle. I'm on the lowest possible entry dose of fluoxetine now, and have been referred for a psych assessment. Next review is in four weeks, again with the GP. The lovely [ profile] actionreplay assures me that our local Mental Health services are excellent, but this being the NHS, there's a longish wait involved until we get to the actual treatment. I cannot express how grateful I am to her for suggesting I go see a doctor.

I am very relieved and happy. I feel a proper safety net below me. And right now at this very moment, I cannot imagine that I ever thought it was ok to leave my children motherless.

(for non-UK folks: NHS - national health service AKA socialised medicine; GP - general practitioner aka primary care physician. Somewhat of a scarce resource in the US; around here, everybody has one and they are the main gatekeepers to more specialised care. There's a very high awareness of PND here in the UK.)
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2009-03-15 09:30 pm

While waiting for online boarding to open ...

... here are five from [ profile] buzzy_bee:

Boys vs girls:

Not sure whether I have much to say on that point, because DS is still so little (turning one this coming week!). To me, he is my child first, my son second. Although DD loves her some pink and insists she is Sleeping Beauty, she also adores trains, plays a lot with cars, and is fascinated with monsters and all sorts of creepy crawlies. She's also very much into rough play - no gentle cuddles for her baby brother! Instead, she likes to make him walk, sit, and lie down. The pink is far easier to cope with than I feared. I love seeing her dress up. Part of the reason why I'm glad I have a daughter is that unconsciously, my family has primed me to prefer sons / boys. Thanks to DS, I've been able to make peace with my own femininity.

DS's preferred mode of play can be summed up with one word: inquisitive. He loves to take things apart and figure out what they do, whether they are edible / chewable. He's very alert and hands-on, and loves to engage with both people and things around him. On the bus, he scans the seats for impressionable victims, and the first person to smile back gets the full coo, smile, and charm offensive. The one thing I regret is the dearth of nice, bright clothes for boys - it's all dull browns, greens and blues.

Multilingual kids:

YEAH! DD recently got a certificate for speaking Gaidhlig (Scots Gaelic). One of her nursery teachers and one of the mums we know speak Gaeilge as well, so [ profile] actionreplay or any other Oirish LJ friends, if you meet DD and speak to her in Irish, you may find yourself understood. And this is just. so. cool. Although some people claim that Gaelic is useless (the linked Language Log piece contains some critical discussion), to me as a linguist no language is useless. I'm not too bothered about potential cognitive advantages of bilingualism - just being able to speak three languages is COOL BEYOND WORDS, and I take a very language-geekish delight in my daughter's abilities.

We are fortunate in that DD is German-dominant, and the household language is German. DD also has little German-speaking friends through the German Saturday school she attends. However, I am still aware that I need to make a conscious effort to speak a lot of German to her, so that she gains a rich vocabulary. I am also painfully aware of the need to keep speaking and reading German myself, so that I don't lose my mother tongue. A real risk if you're surrounded by English all day! That's why I go out of my way to speak German whenever I can.

Because we encourage German at home, DD's English lagged by half a year, enough for nursery to note a slight delay in her English production abilities. I'm happy to report that she's caught up now. She initially spoke a lot of English to DS, because he was another child, but is now using a lot of German, as well. It will be interesting to see how he develops.

Living in Edinburgh:

Sea, mountains, open green spaces, playgrounds, history, a fantastic university, a beautiful city - what more do you want? Both DH and I agree that we love to live here.

If I won the lottery:

I would still work. Part of the dosh would go on a nice house in the Grange / Marchmont area, part would be invested to provide us with a steady income, leaving the capital untouched, from which we would then make charitable donations as and when. And I would teach my children the value of money. I would probably use the financial independence to homeschool if state school doesn't pan out. I love teaching and learning ...


I had a Tech geek phase as a teenager, now I'm more of a science and social science geek. They're tools, I hope they work, and I don't have sufficient time and energy to devote to keeping my programming skills up to date. I'd rather restrict myself to R and Python, thank you very much.
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2009-02-08 10:49 pm


I do this far too little - I always fear that a child will wake up when I've settled down to chronicle their development.

The Girl )

The Boy )

Wow - I spent an hour writing this that I could have spent getting some zzz! night night!
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2009-02-03 09:11 pm

Rec me a House episode

Yes, I have partaken of the Kool Aid and watched the first twelve episodes. Any particular highlights? I've been thoroughly spoiled by reading plot summaries.
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2009-01-07 09:47 pm

(no subject)

I know many of you are either gay or gay-friendly. You may want to have a look at these findings . Heart-breaking ...
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2009-01-04 10:41 pm

Hola amigas y amigos!

A very belated happy new year - I hope you enjoyed Christmas. We'll be taking decorations down on January 7. Since we're in Germany over Christmas, we've decided that the children will get their presents on two days - December 6 (traditional German St. Nicholas) and January 6 (Three Kings, Los Reyes Magos). 6/1 is a Spanish tradition, but hey ... it's hard to pretend Baby Jesus came and left some presents a couple of hours after we returned from Germany.

I've stockpiled masses of stuff to give to both Mouse and Sparrow at some later date (TM), so in order not to overwhelm them, they'll only get 2-3 things each, and I'll have to remind myself to hold back on purchases from now on.

Our main present to ourselves was delivered on Saturday - a brand new digital piano (display model from the Edinburgh Organ Studio), a Kawai CL 30. I've joined the "practice each day" challenge over at the Piano World forums

Overall 2009 will be more frugal. Not because of the credit crunch, but because we will now have two children in nursery, AND I have cut down my work days to two due to lack of funds.

Here are my plans to do in 2009:

  • Blog weekly, and not JUST on kid topics. I've been reading a lot of blogs written by women in science and engineering, and it's inspiring me to talk about more than just child related milestones.
  • Comment on at least two friends' journals a week.
  • Don't buy any books myself except as presents. That's right - moratorium on book buying. I have literally over 100 unread books littering my shelves. If I want to read new ones, I can (and will and do) go to the library or use Bookmooch. I will also ask for books as presents.
  • Only buy myself a coffee twice a week. I developed a serious latte habit, but we have an espresso machine and there's one at work I can use.
  • Practice the piano for at least 10 minutes every day. I have bought Albert's All-in-One piano course, Book 2, and will be using that together with simple Bach pieces until I've finished learning all of them. (New sheet music is NOT a book!) I love Bach, he's my favourite composer. This should keep me interested and levels of difficulty sufficiently low so that I don't get too frustrated.

On the home front, I hope that we can get the final room done up so that we can move into the smaller room (sigh) while the kids share our original bedroom. We already have furniture and shelving all ready to put up. We're going to have the walls replastered, then DH is going to sound proof the floor and lay some nice laminate.

We've also decluttered books, now all we need is rent a car to take them to good used book charity shops (Oxfam and/or Barnardo's) as well as clothes. Now all I need to do is declutter and bag baby clothes that Sparrow, who will definitely be our last baby, has outgrown, and sort through the piles of clothes we got from friends so that I can come up with better storage.