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hjsb


A Tale Told by an Idiot

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing


Goodbye, Livejournal
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hjsb
This is my last post here (probably). For more info, see my new, self-hosted blog: http://spookypeanut.co.uk/blog/?p=335.

The Wedding of the Year
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hjsb
Dear Evelyn,

This weekend was Crazy Auntie Lizzy and Uncle Andy's wedding. It was both wonderful and exhausting. Wednesday and Thursday were comparatively calm, it was Friday that everything really got going. Thankfully, your Granny and grandpa Paul came down and looked after you for most of the afternoon, so we could help out at the village hall.

On the day of the wedding we arrived at the church quite early and got some good practice in walking down the aisle. In the end you still refused to walk though, and mummy ended up carrying you down. You were a good little girl during the service: some time spent in the toy corner, but mostly being very interested in what was going on.

You thought the reception was fabulous: you spent the whole time running all over the place with one or more adults running after you. You seemed to particularly like The Dotted Crotchets, the string trio: you stared at them for ages. After a good nap during the meal you were ready to dance the night away (further fuelled by cake from the bake-off). You particularly enjoyed the dance floor when it was empty: all the more space for you to run! At one point you decided to sit down on the bottom of the curtain round the edge, and managed to pull it partially down. Granddad had to draft in various family members to get it sorted! And we only discovered after we looked at the photos just how many times you'd been in the photobooth.

At around nine you seemed exhausted, so mummy took you along to the crèche, and she said you were virtually asleep before she handed you over. But you refused to sleep: we and they tried walking you round, but when we came to pick you up from the childminders at half eleven you were still awake. We suspect that you knew there were exciting things happening, and you didn't want to miss out. After we got you back you went straight to sleep, almost as if you knew the party was over (but naturally still woke up at 7 the next morning).

This week has been a return to relative normality, just with higher cake levels than normal. You're still doing lots of mimicking, but one word in particular has come out: "Donna". Which is particularly strange, because Donna isn't actually looking after you at the moment, Sharon is.
All my love sweetheart,


Daddy
xxxxx

Words and Gardening
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hjsb
Dear Evelyn,

Given how long it's been since the last one, it got me wondering how long I'll carry on writing these letters to you. It will seem rather weird writing a letter to you once you can talk back to me. At the moment, that seems like it could be quite close.
For months now you've had the odd word. "Cat" was your first (we think), closely followed by blueberries ("boobers"), then various others including up and yeah, then moving on to "dum" (dummy), "bib", "beans" and many more. More recently the ones you have have been more reliable, but you've also started mimicking us. When you're in the right mood, virtually every time we say a sentence you'll pick a word from it and repeat it. It's fabulous, but it's yet another thing that reminds me how big you've grown. It's a long while since you were a baby, really (though I'll always call you that).
You're running all over the place now, you love the garden in particular. Mummy is trying to turn you into a gardener; I suspect she'll succeed, you seem to love helping her water, etc. You can finally walk in your wellies now (though they're still quite big), and what with your crocs as well (from the last NCT sale), your shoe collection is quite large for someone so small.
We've just booked the flights for our New Zealand trip. I'm both thrilled to bits and terrified. Twenty-four hours on a flight? What if you scream the whole time? We'll just have to take along your favourite things (currently I would say little oranges, peas and your bunnies). I think In The Night Garden on the tablet would be a crafty move too. I'm sure you'll be delightful and will charm everyone!

All my love,


Daddy

xxxxx

My name is Henry and I am a tracking geek
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hjsb
I have been excited by GPS for years: basically ever since I heard of it. My first contact with it was when my dad asked me to pick up a (standalone) GPS device for him when I went into Manchester with a friend, and we held it out of the train window on the way home, trying to get a fix. That device, despite being a dedicated GPS device, took around a minute to get a fix (in the open), and all it could really do was tell you your latitude / longitude. Well, you could store bookmarks too, and it would point you to them: I remember another expedition with a friend, picking a bookmark at random and trying to locate it. If only I'd discovered geocaching back then!
Things have come a long way since. The first GPS device I personally owned was my PocketLOOX, and that was my first real pocket computer. I loved to play with GPS on it, for example I used it on the train from St Pancras to St Albans to discover its speed peaked at around 100mph. My memory is a little hazy, but I think it could show you where you are on a map too: the only problem with that was that it only has wifi: the utility of something that shows you where you are is limited when you need to be near a wifi hotspot (even more 5 years ago). Also, not being a dedicated device, the GPS wasn't particularly well looked after: when I got it, it could take ten minutes to get a fix. Even after upgrading the OS, it still took around a minute. All these times are for outside, with a clear view of the sky.
I was therefore stunned and amazed when my dad announced that his sat nav (I'd heard of them, but not seen one in the wild) could get a GPS fix indoors! It was only then that I realized the quality of the GPS receiver really mattered. Thankfully even the rubbish ones nowadays are orders of magnitude better than the one in my old pocketloox.
GPS really invaded my life when I got my first smartphone: a GPS device with a decent receiver (a few seconds to get a fix, tops), and masses of apps available in the Play Store to use the functionality. I found My Tracks fairly soon, but only used it occasionally. It was a few months later, partly inspired by a blog post that I'm afraid I've since mislaid, that I started tracking everywhere I went.
I say everywhere: that's not entirely true. I have to manually start and stop tracking, so I track every journey that I don't make very regularly. My daily commute is only tracked very occasionally (usually to test a new version of My Tracks), and if making a journey that I know I've tracked many times, I may well not bother. I've thought about getting a GPS box that will just track constantly, and I can download them weekly or whatever, but (a) that would produce way more data than I need (even if it was clever enough to know when I was stationary, it would be recording my commute for 3h per work day), and (b) I would have to deliberately take it everywhere. Unless it was super-tiny, that would get annoying very quickly. Also, it can be useful having human-segregated tracks: for example, the Legoland one at the bottom of the page would have had to be cut out of a much longer track.

I've wondered in the past what to do with my tracks. For a while (well, quite a while), I uploaded them to Google's My Maps, but they look rubbish and are almost impossible to manage (if you upload multiple pages worth to one map (like I generally do), each page you are on will tell you there are a different number of total pages, for example). Google's Fusion Tables is less bug-ridden, but can only really cope with one track, as far as I can see (as can http://www.gpsvisualizer.com). So I ended up writing trackinggeek. It does exactly what I want it to: trawls a directory for gpx files, then draws then to an image, with lots of configurable settings.
The maps that I've created are mostly of areas I visit regularly or to which I have been on holiday. The one exception to this would be Legoland (well, you could describe it as holiday I guess). I included it because I thought it was a particularly pretty track, and I think that would probably be true of all theme parks. I now have another excuse to go to them!
I've never had a very good eye for colour, so I took advantage of the wonderfully generous people at colourlovers.com who create beautiful palettes just for the love of it. The creator of each palette is credited next to the map I used it in.
In the examples on this page, and all the examples I uploaded to flickr, I varied the colour with elevation, and in particular cases it shows how inaccurate the elevation is via GPS. I can see why the latest phones have barometers in them.
There are things I'd like to add to trackinggeek if I get time: I plan to add colour variation with speed, and also I've had a request for the ability to output 3D tracks that Maya can read. I'd also love to put a map backdrop in, probably from openstreetmap. We'll see how many of these things I get round to doing.
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Mobility and words
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hjsb

11/12 September

An awful lot has happened: you now have three little teeth, and you're very mobile. We are no longer in the happy situation of knowing you'll stay where we put you. In fact, your movements are only predictable in certain circumstances (eg when there is a cat nearby). And it's not just crawling*: you're also toddling up and down the lounge with the aid of your little pink toddle truck. You haven't quite figured out how to turn it round yet, but it's only a matter of time I suspect. As Helen put it last night, we now live in a gated community: there are gates at the top of the stairs and the door to the lounge, and another ready to go up at the bottom of the stairs. The cats were stumped by the gate to the lounge briefly (Leeloo) and slightly less briefly (Suki).
Speaking of the cats, we're pretty sure you've now said your first word: as predicted (and, to be fair, trained) it was "cat". You can't say the 't' yet, but you've said "ca" enough when we've been saying "cat" that we're pretty sure it's intentional. More recently you've said "tickle" (again, when we have). I think first time it was a coincidental juxtaposition of sounds, but since then you've definitely been trying to say it when we do.
Since I last wrote, you have had a few medical issues, thankfully nothing too serious. Bathtime and dressing time are much more complicated than they were: stuff to put in your bath, nappy rash cream, antibiotic / steroid cream, and moisturizer. To complicate matters that bit further, in the last few days you've discover how to undo your velcro nappies. It's a tricky thing to handle: I applaud you learning, but it makes bathtime considerably more tricky.
The Olympics were a turning point in your life. Unfortunately we couldn't get tickets for you to go, so you were looked after by your granny. It was the first time anyone but us had looked after you for more than few minutes. It was a very strange feeling, like going back in time: you're so ingrained into our life now that everything feels intrinsically different to the way it did before. And boy can we travel lighter when we don't have all your gubbins with us! You didn't seem too bothered by us leaving you, although your granny did have trouble getting you to bed, but you eventually went to sleep in your pram.
While we didn't manage to take you to the Olympics, you did visit the Olympic stadium: on September 1st, we went to the athletics with granny, Annie and Charlotte. You didn't seem fazed at all by the volume of people or the noise, although you did get briefly startled every time a GB athlete was announced, as there was always a huge cheer. You even saw Richard Whitehead win his gold medal, and get presented with it! It was a fabulous day, hopefully you enjoyed it too.
Your sleep has been varied. Up until about a month ago, we were giving you a little more leeway than we possibly should: you'd been ill, and so we let you feed whenever you woke in the night. This got you into a bad habit of waking a couple of times a night and we decided it had to end. You weren't going to be fed in the night any more: as such, I took over night time duty. There were a couple of painful nights, but over the last week, you have slept remarkably well. You're waking up a little early in the morning, 6 today, but sleeping through the rest of the night with virtually no noise.
Your mummy goes back to work in couple of weeks, so you've been doing some trial sessions with Donna. You seem to be quite happy with her, which is good: I think a part of mummy wants you to miss her terribly, but we both know life will be more straightforward this way! Your mummy has found the time without you quite a strange situation: similar, I guess, to the way we felt at the Olympics, but this time without an event (or, indeed, me) to take her mind off it. I think going back to work is going to be very weird for her. But I'm sure she'll cope just fine, as will you.

All my love


xxxxx

* I say crawling: you started with a much more commando-like gait, flat to the floor, pulling yourself along on your hands. On shiny floors (like the lounge), that's still your propulsion method of choice.

So bad at blogging
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hjsb
The last week has been quite momentous. Evelyn has started walking. At the moment, the most she has managed has been 4 steps, but she got there get quickly from standing, so I suspect after this weekend she'll be wandering everywhere.
Almost as important, if you ask me, is that she's started putting things IN things. Up until now she's been entirely destructive: her jigsaws always got dismantled and abandoned, and she couldn't bear to see her stacking cups nested inside one another: she had to separate them. However, in the last couple of days she's put the pieces back into the centre of her table thing, and showed an interest in putting her jigsaw back together. Still a bit beyond her through. My little girl's growing up!

(I'm so bad at blogging. I should make myself write a little bit about Evelyn weekly. Anyway, I just discovered this that I wrote over six months ago, so I've backdated this post to then. Actually posted on 16 April 2013)
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Ups and Downs
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hjsb
(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but didn't post it because I didn't have a picture. Screw that)

Dear Evelyn,

For the last couple of weeks, we have been afflicted with some form of bug in our house, and this was the first that noticeably affected you. Your voice sounded hoarse, and you had a rattling cough that chilled us. As you're still breastfeeding, your immune system is as one with your mummy's, and it didn't take the two of you long to throw it off, but the cough lingered for a little while, before giving way to streams of snot (which, interestingly, looks just like snail slime when smeared on some poor unsuspecting surface). You seem virtually 100% recovered now (Wednesday 6th).
You now have teeth! First arrived this time last week. We think this has also contributed to your grumpiness, but you don't seem to have been to badly affected. Mummy however has, when you're bored of feeding. I can't imagine how painful that must be.
Your bathtime now involves Seal. In case you forgot, Seal was a bath toy that mummy used to play with when she was a little girl, while at your great grannies house. I don't fully appreciate the love for it, but I guess that's always the case with toys of sentimental value. I should know, I have enough Lego!
And finally, yesterday (Tuesday 5th) evening, you waved goodnight to mummy. It was amazing to see, especially since we've been trying to teach you for a few weeks now. I got a sort of wave this morning, but your heart want really in it. Hopefully tomorrow!

xxxxx

Watching the rain
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hjsb
Dear Evelyn,

I discovered this morning that you like watching the rain as much as I do. I wish I could have stayed and watched it with you all day.

xxxxx

Swings, swimming & nomming
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hjsb

Dear Evelyn,

It's been a long time since I wrote to you. the inspiration tonight (3 April) was not a happy one: you woke up screaming at about 11pm, and seemed to be in pain. Thankfully you're back asleep now, hopefully the stomach ache (or whatever it was) has gone now.
We have worried slightly that we've been over-travelling you recently. Over the last six weekends, only two haven't had at least two nights away. While it's been fabulous to see so many of your family and friends, it does leave a bit of a lack of consistency in your bedtime routine, and means we seem to spend almost all our time packing! We don't currently have anything booked for weekends in June: maybe we'll gave a slightly quieter time then.
From there, to three things that you love: swings, swimming, and nomming. We first put you in a setting when Jacq, Helen S and Steve were down, and you looked so casual. See the video if you don't believe me. You've been in a few times since them, and you seem to enjoy it more each time.
We've taken you to Hatfield Swim Centre twice now. The last time, we took you under the water, and you seemed absolutely fine about it. Slight surprise, but no other ill effects. And you love the water: splashing about, watching all the sights and sounds of the pool.
You love eating: it's particularly exciting now you're on solids. The first day we were told not to expect you to eat much, but just to experience the taste. But as the video shows, you ate it all amazingly quickly, and we haven't found a food yet that you don't like. Also, I now realize why new parents talk about baby poo a lot (but don't worry, I won't here).
But really, when I say "nomming", I mean when we pretend to nom your tummy. It seems to be the thing that most consistently makes you laugh, which would brighten up any day.

All my love,


Daddy

xxxxx

Baths and music
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hjsb
Dear Evelyn,

These scribblings cover a couple of weeks. I really should learn to just finish them off on the day.

Monday 16th:
You were three months old yesterday. We're going through some slightly difficult times at the moment in the evening, as we try to get you into a bedtime routine that doesn't involve being fed to sleep. It's going to be tough, but hopefully we just need perseverance.
Part of this bedtime routine is your bath. It's a time of day that I'm more often involved in than mummy, which I'm sure you can appreciate is unusual. When you were tiny (I mean, even tinier than you are now), you seemed to really enjoy your baths: you splashed around, kicking your feet. But that was in the days before you could smile. Now, rather than smiling in the bath, your face goes into a fixed stare, usually at me, and you pretty much just sit there until it's all over. Hopefully you'll learn to love your baths as much as you used to.


Wednesday 18th
Last night was our first properly disturbed night for weeks. For reasons that we shall never know, you woke for a feed at 1am, which last happened weeks ago. Then you woke again at 4am, had a feed, but then wouldn't go back to sleep. You were happy talking to yourself for a while, so we sat and listened to you for a while. You started to get a bit agitated after a while, so we sat with you, changed you, rocked you and did everything we could think of until somewhere around 6am you fell asleep in Helen's arms.
Hopefully that was a one-off; you've been so good to us before that, we really have nothing to complain about.

Friday 27th
Since then, your sleep has been fairly disturbed. Not quite as bad, but regularly waking up twice in the night, when you had been sleeping through the night for a while before that. Last night, however, was a comparatively settled night, which we were all grateful for.
I feel I should talk a little about music in your life so far. I'm still debating whether to get a digital piano when you're a little older: partly for me to play to you, and partly for you to learn to play, if you wish. But so far, music has been either recorded or sung. To begin with, from my point of view, nappy changes were accompanied by the twelve days of Christmas (with tickling on the partridge). When trying to get you to sleep one day, I wondered if singing to you might help: thus I started wondering what songs I could sing you to sleep with that I knew all the words to. That last bit is crucial: it turns out, when I tried to sing you several songs, that I don't know the words well enough to sing them unaccompanied. In the end, we settled on Eternal Flame, and for a couple of weeks I thought that if I just sang that to you for long enough you'd fall asleep. Sadly, reality kicked in, and now you don't get it sung to you very often.

On Thursday night Helen was fencing, and you got a little grumbly so I decided to sing to you. For some reason I decided on All Time High, but yet again found out I didn't know all the words. So I put it on the radio in the kitchen, and we danced and sang. And yes, I cried a little. After that, I decided to educate you on some more music that I like, so we listened to Where Do You Go To My Lovely, Walking on Broken Glass, Cartoon Heroes and Girl From Mars before my arms got too tired to dance any more. Wow. It's only when I look back at a list of my loved tracks like that that I realize how varied my music taste is. You seemed to like the dancing, so hopefully you'll grow up with a healthy appreciation of music. Even if Daddy's music taste is rubbish.

All my love,


Henry

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