nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Mar. 18th, 2014 09:59 pm)
I felt the urge to rewrite my introduction so I thought I’d use it as a starting point for a Subscription Meme, as I haven’t seen one going around for a while.

I’ve made a template, which I’ve filled out very wordily below. Please feel free to adapt it to your wishes, and please link this post wherever you like. (Please participate or share? I'm going to feel very sad if this entry sits here alone with 0 comments...)

Subscription Meme template:
<b>People in this journal</b>
<b>About my job</b>
<b>Some random facts</b>
<b>Things I like to do</b>
<b>Fandom</b>
<b>Social media usage</b>
<b>>Subscriptions, access and commenting</b>
<b>What I’d like to get from my participation here</b>


My responses! )
tags:
It occurred to me recently that a decade or so of working in and around space science has allowed me to amass an interesting collection of swag. The swag lives in, on and around my desk, depending on size, current relevance and preciousness.

One item that rocketed to the top of the list (and thus currently holds pride of place) was a gift I received at the end of my service at Space Camp in Austria in July. It is a piece of Genuine Space Rock. Observe its Certificate of Authenticity, which is lent additional gravitas (at least to me) by virtue of being in German.


[Image of Asteroid belt detritus]

Next time: pin badges galore!


Yesterday, at 25 weeks into this pregnancy, I bid goodbye to my feet.
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Sep. 22nd, 2014 05:20 pm)
From the "SPAAAACE" column, we have the following item.

The document package that has eaten the last few weeks of my life (including last weekend and incidentally, today, which is my birthday) has gone off to ESA. If it were printed out, the paper used would weigh more than the instrument we're going to build for the spacecraft. BUT HEY We're goin' to JUPITER!...in about eight years.

Now I get to go be fed by my lovely generous friends and possibly have a very small glass of wine. Happy Birthday To Me!

From the "Children Being Embarrassingly Honest" column, we have the following item.

The toddler & I were waiting at the train platform when a man on a bicycle steamed up. It was pretty chilly out so I mean that literally. Humuhumu turned, pointed at him & said, "Hot, Mama. Hot man. Hot. HOT!" Er. I mean what do you say? "She means that in the thermal sense?" Perhaps not.

Nephew being a lion atop the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe bench, the back of which is adorned with a magnificent painting of Aslan.

Yesterday, we took the train down to London for the day to meet the bloke's brother, his partner and our nephew. The bloke's brother has worked in Bloomsbury for over a decade and when he heard that I wanted to follow the book bench trail, he volunteered to take us on the best path. We gratefully accepted.

Lots of photos. )

This weekend was the last hurrah of the Books about Town, so sadly we had to leave the last trail (the City trail) unexplored. We also missed out on Around the World in 80 Days and The Day of the Triffids. But I'm pleased we tried.
To stop myself from singing the same woeful tune about single parenting (at least it's only three days this time), here are some photos from the weekend. We gardened, we ate pub lunch (twice!), we walked by the towpath and ate blackberries off the bushes, we played in the sunshine. It was good.


[Humuhumu blowing bubbles, harmonica-style.]

Cat and girl...and Dada )
There's something I practice in this journal. It's called "pseudonymity". It's the reason why I use nicknames for my partner and my kids, and why I refer to myself as [personal profile] nanila in posts and in comments. It's the reason why I don't [usually] make public posts linking to items containing my real name.

I know it's not difficult to make a few leaps from the information I provide here to my real identity, but if you are on my Access/Friends list on DW/LJ, it's because I hope there is a tacit understanding that you will respect this preference and not mention my real name, or my partner's real name, or my child(ren)'s real name(s), in publicly accessible entries. I can forgive the occasional slip-up, but if ever this starts to look malicious to me, I reserve the right to remove access.

I will always err on the side of caution with respect to others' pseudonymity as well.

[Comments are screened and will remain so.]
I forgot a milestone two days ago. Normally I remember it every year. September is full of significant dates. The fourth: Brother-out-law's birthday. The seventh: My maternal grandfather's death in 2001. The eleventh: Four days later, the twin towers came down. The twenty-second: My birthday. The twenty-ninth: My maternal grandfather's birthday.

Twelve years ago, on 3 September 2002, I handed in my (completed, revised) PhD dissertation, "Energetics and Dissociation Dynamics of Reactive Organic Intermediates" (a thrilling read, I assure you), marking the end of my doctoral studies. My journal helpfully reminds me that, as I walked out of the Office of Graduate Studies into the bright California sunshine clutching my certificate of completion, the water polo team ran past me.

Twelve years.

I've been Dr [personal profile] nanila for twelve years.

HOW

WHAT

SRSLY

(And you know, there is still a tiny part of me that thinks someone will suddenly notice that I'm not studying chemical dynamics any more and will say, "Hey! You! You there, no longer in a lab coat and goggles! HDU trick us, you should still be doing THAT sort of research. Return that title to us immediately.")
nanila: me (Default)
( Sep. 1st, 2014 08:28 pm)

[Image of Humuhumu on the London Air Line running from Royal Victoria Docks to North Greenwich. Has nothing to do with the content of the post, just wanted to share.]

The bloke went to a meeting in Switzerland on Sunday and will return late on Friday evening. This leaves me single-parenting Humuhumu for six days.

Both of us have done longer stints than that solo since she was born, and although we now both know some tactics for coping with it, it's still very difficult. I don't think I truly appreciated how tough single parenting is until I had to do it myself, and I'm lucky enough to be able to afford help (e.g. having full-time nursery care, having a cleaner, taking a taxi when I'm too tired/pregnant to walk the mile and a half from the house to the train station).

In terms of tactics, I now know to make at least two large "dishes" (e.g. mac and cheese, chilli, fish pie) at the weekend that I can heat and serve when I get home exhausted during the week so I don't have to cook in the evening. I know to clear the laundry basket at the weekend. I know to fill my rucksack with snacks and water for the toddler and me on the train. I know to download shows onto the tablet on iPlayer, and I have a screen set up so she can choose these or her games. I know to pack my lunch every night, and to bathe before bed so that I don't have to attempt to shower with the toddler wreaking mayhem outside. I know to lay out my clothes so that I can leap into them if she wakes up before my alarm goes off. Each of these things helps save a tiny bit of energy that I can then expend on my day job. But if I had to do them on my own every week and every weekend, I would be so tired I wouldn't be able to see straight. I would have no energy to maintain a community of friends, in meatspace or online.

I find that the little kindnesses shown to me by the people I encounter in passing mean even more to me when I'm single-parenting. I was struggling to calm Humuhumu, who was squirming in her pushchair and crying, "Down! Down!" about 200 metres from the nursery's front door, and a woman passing by bent down and made a funny face at her, saying, "What sort of a face is that?" in a strong Brummy accent. Humuhumu stopped fussing and chuckled, and the woman said, "That's better." I smiled and thanked her and we went our separate ways. It was literally seconds of interaction, but it was so helpful. Then there are the people who offer to help me lift her into or out of the train, or just wiggle their fingers at her when she's looking at them - again, it's just a few seconds, but it lightens the weight of solitary responsibility considerably.

In conclusion, I'm about to make myself a dandelion-and-burdock vanilla ice cream float as a reward for getting through today.
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Aug. 27th, 2014 07:38 pm)
I've been jotting down various new quirks as they happen in a paper diary, but as Humuhumu seems to have undergone a big cognitive leap recently, it seems like a good time to make a longer update on her development.

Words

She has lots of ways of referring to things that probably aren't obvious to anyone who isn't her parents. For instance:

  • "Door", accompanied by pointing to a specific kitchen cupboard. She knows that her special treat-foods are kept inside, such as "Pouch" (for an Ella's Kitchen fruit smoothie pouch) and "Cake" (can be either a rice cake or an Ella's Kitchen Nibbly Finger - a sort of chewy grain bar thing).

  • "Bey", which refers to the nursery rhyme "Wind the Bobbin Up". Usually she says this when she sees one of us holding our smartphones, and it means she wishes us to engage its most important function: playing YouTube videos. Today, however, she used it in a particularly devious fashion. I had just made a big bowl of popcorn, which we were sharing as a snack on the sofa. The bowl was sitting between us. She took a kernel, popped it in her mouth and then turned her big brown eyes on me. "Bey," she said. "Pull, pull, clap clap," she prompted, doing the arm motions.

    I started to sing. She smiled happily. Pulling the bowl onto her lap, she turned to face the arm of the sofa, giggling and stuffing popcorn into her mouth as fast as she could.

  • "Key", aka any cotton muslin square. Means "blanket", the corners of which get clutched tightly in her fist while she sucks her thumb. Probably explains why Iggle Piggle is her favourite In the Night Garden character, since he always has his "key" with him.

  • "CUGGLE!" Almost invariably shouted at the top of her voice as she hurls herself bodily at you. OK, this one probably is obvious even if you're not her parents, but she screams it so enthusiastically it's not always comprehensible.


Phrases

These began fairly recently, and have been coming on in leaps and bounds. My favourites include:

  • "Bless you Mama (or Dada)", when we sneeze. She says it so promptly and clearly. My heart melts every time.
  • "I like/don't like [insert thing here]". Said things usually fall into one of four categories: foods, apps, YouTube videos or CBeebies shows. She uses "don't like" when she has grown tired of something temporarily.
  • "Night night Mama/Dada/Nani". Yes, she says good night to herself.


Books

She loves her alphabet-based books, particularly A is for Aloha, which was one of mine when I was a child. It has a mixture of Hawai'ian and English words along with some beautiful black-and-white photographs of Hawai'i. She requests this one by saying, "'Loha". She also loves her Brian Wildsmith-illustrated ABCs (also ancient). Her identification of letters goes like this, depending on which book she's looking at. The ones with dashes are the ones where she can't say the word yet, e.g. canoe and elephant.

  • A is for: "'loha" or "Apple"
  • B is for: "Beebee" (baby) and "Boll" (ball) or "Fly" (butterfly)
  • C is for: --- (canoe) or "Meow" (cat)
  • D is for: "Dada" or "Fff fff" (dog - I think this is her attempt at "Woof woof")
  • E is for: "Nom nom nom" (eat) or --- (elephant)
  • F is for: "Suki" (friend) or *puffs out cheeks, makes popping noise* (fish)
  • G is for: --- (gecko) or "Goat"
  • H is for: "Hair" and "Flower" (hibiscus) or "Neigh" (horse)
  • I is for: "Ipu" or --- (iguana)
  • J is for: *jump* (jump) or --- (jaguar)
  • K is for: *kisses the page* (kiss) or *attempt at whistle* (kettle)
  • L is for: --- (lei) or "RAAAARRR" (lion)
  • M is for: "Mama" and "Muumuu" or "Eee ee ee" (mouse)
  • N is for: "Net" or "Nest"
  • O is for: --- (octopus) or "Twit TWOO" (owl)
  • P is for: --- (pineapple) or "Peacock"


After this it all goes a bit hazy, apart from "Turtle", "Unicorn" (!!!) and "Yucky".

She's also attempting to "read" more independently. I'll read her a story and then she'll take the book and flip through the pages, chattering to herself as if she's reading it, although I don't think she can yet.

Television

This last week has been an exceptional one in the amount of television we've been watching, since we've both been ill and on our own some of the time too. Hence, we've discovered that we like some new CBeebies shows. We knew we liked In the Night Garden already, as we get an episode of that on the tablet most nights before bed. But now we've added Pingu (penguin and his baby brother), some funny little animated French thing about insects with good music called Miniscule, DipDap (slapstick adventures of a line-drawn character) and Timmy Time (claymation sheep, younger sibling of Shaun, I think?).

We're lukewarm toward Chuggington (animated show about train engines) and Sarah and Duck (narrated by Roger Allam, which softens me toward it but not Humuhumu).

She also likes two I can't stand: Kate and Mim-mim, about a little girl and her purple stuffed bunny toy that comes to life, and Waybuloo, which I'm at a loss to describe. The former is too saccharine even for me (and I have a pretty high tolerance for cutesy) and the latter is strange and pointless and the animated characters are very uncanny valley.

Tablet/apps

One again, this week has included an exceptional amount of tablet usage, and Toca Boca has managed to make me part with money for apps, something I'd resisted for years. Humuhumu's learning curve on the tablet is positively terrifying. She doesn't know how to unlock it yet ("Uh oh, locked," she says, holding it out to me), but she knows how to scroll to the screen containing her apps, to pick the ones she wants and to use 70-100% of their functionality.

She also has a technique for ensuring that she remembers how to do things within her apps. For instance, in "Pet Doctor", she will select an animal, hold out the tablet for me to show her how to cure its ailment if she can't immediately figure it out, watch me do it, and then keep going back to the same animal four or five times until she has its treatment down pat. She went from being able to "treat" one animal on her own on Tuesday to being able "treat" nine of them unassisted today. I find it fascinating, watching her absorb information and improve her fine motor control in such a methodical way.
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