Life

Being holey

No, that's not a spelling mistake, I didn't mean "holy".  Nor did I mean "wholly" (not least because that would make the sentence incomplete).  I do actually mean holey, as in having a hole.  Yes, dear readers, I have a hernia.

There's a hole in my abdomen, dear Liza, dear Liza, There's a hole in my abdomen, dear Liza, a hole.

For the uninitiated, a hernia is basically a hole in the muscle wall where the tissues and/or organs contained within are allowed to poke through and become strangulated.  It's unclear as to when or how I sustained this impairment, but I first noticed it about a month ago as a pain underneath my belly button that didn't go away on its own.  I paid a visit to my GP, who identified it as an umbilical hernia, and sent me packing to Bath Royal United Hospital for confirmation from a surgeon.  Thankfully I was still able to drive.  Otherwise it would have been a very long walk.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Why I’m not watching the World Cup

I had decided well before it all kicked off (ahem) that I wouldn't be watching the World Cup matches this year.  In fact, I could have told you that this time last year.  It's not that I despise my country, it's not that want to bring down popular culture, I just have absolutely no interest in football.  However, much to my disappointment, the footie is somewhat unavoidable.  It's on the news.  It's in my RSS feeds.  It's being talked about in church during communion.  And it's on Twitter.On that note, I was mildly amused (and at the same time mildly annoyed) by a couple of friends giving a running commentary on Twitter as the most recent England match was being played.  I wondered who exactly those tweets were for the benefit of.  If I had actually been interested in the football, I would have been watching, and wouldn't have needed the commentary.  As it is, I chose not to watch the football, because I'm not interested.  So you give me a running commentary anyway.  Is there no escape??As it happens, my natural tendency to shun all popular sports stems from years of denial, conscious and sub-conscious decisions not to follow the crowd, and embarrassment.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Opportunities for snap-happiness

There are few things I like more than taking photos.  There are plenty of things I like equally, like drinking tea, having friends round, washing the car and so on, but on a sliding scale they are all pretty near the top.  And recently I have had a plethora of occasions to dust off my camera and capture the passing moments, each one with its own shade of significance.

The week before Easter we went to Torquay to visit my family.  My little brother was in the annual school musical - an adaptation of Guys And Dolls - and it was superb.  That was on the Friday evening.  We left Samuel with my parents while we went to the theatre, figuring that neither audience nor cast would appreciate the addition of his vocals to the performance.  It was only the second time we'd left him with someone else while we went out, so it was at the same time exciting and worrisome.  Thankfully my Mum has had plenty of experience of looking after children, with three of her own children and a career in childcare, so all was well!  And all of that is by way of introduction really, because I didn't take any photos that whole day.  That started the next day.

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By Matthew, ago
Life

Taking stock

Mother Teresa once said "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."  I like that image, that the whole ocean in all its vastness is still essentially composed of drops.

I'm also reminded of a line or two in a song from the musical Into The Woods which says "Oh, if life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one! But if life were only moments, then you'd never know you had one."  I like that too.

And with those two notions at the forefront of my mind, I thought it would be good to write a quick summary of how Samuel has progressed since his birth, charting some of the highlights and milestones of the past 12 weeks.  I guess this is for posterity.  Or reference.  Or guidance.  Or amusement.  Or indeed just to pass the time.

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By Matthew, ago
Life

How I get our baby to sleep

Samuel asleepThis is a post I've been wanting to write for a while.  Marching determinedly around the nursery at unearthly hours of the morning I have developed a reasonably accurate way of measuring the state of sleep of our son, Samuel, allowing me to more reliably tell whether it is safe to put him down or whether I need to keep on marching.  So I thought I'd share it with you, in case there are any other parents tearing their hair out looking for answers.

I must point out, of course, that this is not a magic solution.  Every baby is different, and what works for us may not work for you.  But feel free to try it, and see if it helps.


Introduction

First, let me explain how I came by this revelation.  When Samuel was born, getting him to sleep was a bit hit and miss.  Sometimes he would seem dead to the world, but if we moved him even slightly he would wake up and start crying again.  We'd read about the 'limp limb test', where you raise one of his arms a couple of inches and drop it, and if he doesn't stir then it's safe to move him.  That didn't work.  Samuel wouldn't bat an eyelid at having his arm moved, but change his position and he'd complain.

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By Matthew, ago
Christianity

Back on track

Further to my previous post, I'm afraid to say that my blog is still feeling a little under the weather at the moment.  I've Googled, I've prodded and poked, I've FTPed and upgraded, and all to no avail.  So, for now at least, I've given up.  One day when I have time I'll look into it again, but for now I'm going to rely on other ways to update my blog.  My previous post came courtesy of the built-in blog editor in Flock.  This one is being written in ScribeFire, a Firefox plugin.

And it's high time for an update, I'm sure you'll agree.  A certain person has been on my case for days, if not weeks, asking for a photo of a smiling baby that I'd promised her.  I had intended on putting it on my blog, but that wasn't working, so I emailed it to her in the end.  But, for those of you who are not Sarah, a photo of my darling son is in this post - the first I managed to capture of him smiling.

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By Matthew, ago
Life

Family to be

For those who don't know, I have a brother.  That's not entirely accurate, I actually have two brothers, but for the purpose of this paragraph I want to stress one in particular.  And for those who still don't know, he'll soon be adding to the Dawkins family tree.  If you're reading this and you're confused, allow me to get specific: my brother Christopher is engaged.  Yes, yes, I could have just said that, but then I wouldn't feel clever.On Saturday we drove up to Bristol to see lots of people - Christopher's fiancee's parents were playing host to my parents for the day, with a view to providing an opportunity for Christopher and Sarah to show their respective parents around the wedding venues.  And it was a good excuse to all meet up and eat food.  There was no particular wedding-related reason for our presence, I think Sarah just wanted to see Samuel.So, up to Bristol we drove.  And, to add to my excitement, I got to drive underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which I have never had cause to do before (I've been over it a few times, but never under).  Little pleasures.  Samuel slept pretty much all the way, as he tends to do whenever we're travelling at more than 30mph - he seems to be a human speedometer, letting us know quite noisily if we're not going fast enough.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Where three to five are gathered

Image courtesy of wedgienet @ flickrAt the weekend, which for some reason began on Thursday, we had visitors.  Not just any run-of-the-mill, common or garden, everyday type visitors.  Oh no.  These were special.  Anne-Marie and Sarah are our best friends from Colchester.  I lived with one of them for two years, Ellie lived with the other for two years, and they're now living together in what used to be my house.  It's all rather confusion really.  We've been through a great deal, the four of us, the good and the bad, the ordinary and the random, the practical and the spontaneous.  So close is our relationship that they no longer fit into the category of 'friends' - they have managed to transcend that definition and become more like family.  They are the sisters I never had.  And I love them both very much.Anyway, enough of this mushy stuff, back to the story.AM and Sarah came to visit on Thursday, having made the journey in Sarah's little blue Fiesta all the way from Colchester (a good 4 hour drive, not including loo stops), and arrived on our doorstep laden with hugs and presents for Samuel.  Both their presence and their presents were very much appreciated (see what I did there?).(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

A bit of time travel

Just a quick post to alert my faithful readers of the latest additions to my blog.  In my previous post I mentioned that I had been working on another writing project, and that this blog had been taking a back seat for a while as a result.  Well, I'm tentatively going to reveal what that is, right here on my blog.I've been writing a diary.Before you say anything, no I don't mean this blog.  And no, I've not been daring enough to actually start scrawling on paper.  When Ellie and I found out that we were expecting a baby, we decided it would be a good idea to keep a pregnancy diary to log the whole experience for future reference.  While Ellie took the traditional route of writing it down in a book, I set up a private WordPress blog and wrote each day as an entry in that.  Well, not every day, but the important ones.  Actually, I rarely got time to write about each day on the day itself, which is why I'm still working on the project - I'm still filling in the gaps I've missed!(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Bring on the snow

Snowy-gardenYesterday afternoon it started snowing.  Not your piddly little microscopic snowflakes, oh no, these were gargantuan, monolithic, ping-pong ball sized snowflakes.  In little more than thirty minutes the ground, nay everything, was covered in a light carpet of snow.  And then it stopped.  Predictable, I suppose.  Still, with the temperatures hovering at the zero mark the snow hung around, and was still there when I went to bed.  And the BBC informed me that more snow was due overnight - "up to 15cm".  I'd believe that when I saw it.When I awoke in the early hours of the morning (not deliberately, mind you, this was Samuel's fault) I had a quick peek through the curtains to see the outside world, and was sleepily excited to discover that the BBC was right - it had snowed.  Lots.  Nowhere near the 15cm they had predicted, more like 3-4cm, but it was still plenty enough to cover everything in a blanket of white, albeit drenched in darkness at the time.(more…)

By Matthew, ago