Thursday, June 30, 2005

Life Goes On

While we'd like to spend every waking (and non-waking) moment gazing at and playing with Ellie, some bits of life must go on. And for me, one of these bits is studying — mostly reading and writing. Fortunately, Ellie seems pretty content (at least occasionally) to sleep through the finer points of Form Criticism of the Old Testament. (Note that I have my coffee to keep me awake.) And she's even giving Crystal a few hours to read through my latest paper to make sure it makes at least a little sense before I submit it to my supervisor. Don't worry Ellie, we'll help you with your homework too!

Don't Grow Up Too Fast!

It leaves her parents all conflicted. We wait with great anticipation for each new day's surprise. Look! She's focusing on my face! Wait! I think that's "talking" and not "crying". Could it be that new hair is coming in to replace what's falling out?

But we also love every day as it is, with being just the right size to hold, rubbing her face against you in the hopeless struggle to stay awake, grunting and squeaking in the middle of the night, popping awake in your arms to look into your eyes. How could we want her to stay just the same and grow up all at once? I don't know. We just do.

And yes, she really is smiling at her Mummy...with many more wonders just around the corner.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gardening with my Little Girl

What would life in England be without an English garden to putter about in? Well, "an English weed bed" might be a bit more like it. Which is why there is the puttering bit, you see.

The recent project has been to convert some of these aforementioned weed beds into something more respectable, like lawn for example. What could be a tiring and backbreaking job is made much more enjoyable by having Ellie join me. As you can see, she mainly plays a supervisory role (and mostly with her eyes closed).

She really loves being outdoors. The breezes, the smells, the sounds, even the little misty raindrops all seem to please and soothe her. Sometimes when she's screaming her little heart out I warn her, "Don't make me take you out into the garden!" She gets all excited and off we go to see how the radishes are coming along. The sun hits her face and she calms right down.

And for a theology student, it's pretty calming to be out there, too. Not to mention that my sadistic side comes out when I start pulling dandelions (wow those taproots are amazing). "Just a few more and I'll be in for dinner!"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Let's Go Fly a Kite

I was trying to think of a good birthday present for Crystal, looking out my office window and watching the blustery winds blow as they often do here in Durham. Then I remembered how she had enjoyed flying a kite in Vancouver. So I started doing my research and decided if we were going to get a kite ('we' because I knew this wasn't only for her) we might as well get a good one — a stunt kite. I settled on the Prism Nexus and placed the order.

What with trying to figure out life with Ellie and waiting for the rains to go away, we hadn't gotten a chance to go flying until just Saturday. Wow, I can see why the predecessor to this kite was called the "Adrenaline"! Click on Crystal's picture above to watch her show off her stuff.


We went flying on a recently harvested hay field that's up on a hill overlooking the cathedral. It gets pretty undisturbed winds (though they were come and go a bit today when we went back for session #2). When the 30 mph gales hit, it's going to get pretty exciting around here.

By the way, notice the short sleeves, shorts and sandals. Summer has hit just in time for the solstice -- count 'em: 82 degrees!!

And since I know you came here to see Ellie and not her parents, here's her reaction to her daddy's sky acrobatics.

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Easy Classic Listening

One present that we are greatly enjoying (thanks Joel and Teresa!) is the Classic FM For Babies 2-CD set. The music is both fun and soothing, and the program notes are hilarious. Here's an example from the notes for Bach's Aria from the Goldberg Variations:

Of all the pieces on this CD, this one probably has the most authentic credentials, in that it was actually written with the idea of gettin someone off to sleep. Admittedly, there's probably little similarity between your precious bundle of yum and Johann Goldberg, the man who commissioned the Variations from Bach — Goldberg's boss, Count 'Sheep' Kaiserling, was an insomniac. This Aria is possibly one of the most perfect things you can do with a piano.
No idea if the music will spark Ellie's intelligence, or even put her to sleep, but it calms her occasionally-tired parents' nerves. :-)

Teresa drew in the identifying R and C on the cover of the CD, and even drew in Ellie's coon boots so we'd be sure to recognize her.

Monday, June 13, 2005



I'm not sure when newborns' footprints are normally taken -- I guess it usually happens at the hospital. But apparently that isn't a standard part of the drill here in the UK. So we took up the challenge. Armed with pink acrylic paint (safe, non-toxic, washable while wet, but permanent once dry!) and with Ellie in a "milk coma", we went to work.
The first step was to apply the paint with a sponge without unduly tickling the unconscious baby. Of course she woke up instantly but was surprisingly tolerant of our antics. Then we pressed her pink feet onto paper that we had taped onto a board. With wiggling toes, flexing arches, and kicking legs, this wasn't nearly as easy as I might have hoped. (We were happily not wearing our best clothes!) After several repetitions we decided discretion was the better part of valor and quickly dunked her in the sink for a de-pinking bath. She has taken to dipping her head into the water to eat the bubbles. I think she's just trying to put on a gray beard to look even more like daddy.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Scotland Meets Ellie

We decided we'd have to do a little touring outside of Durham while Nana is still here with us, so we settled on Edinburgh as a day-trip. The first requirement was viewing Braveheart so she could be brought up-to-speed on the whole Scottish-English thing. (Yes, I know it's not particularly accurate, but it does get the basic point across. BTW, this is the statue of William Wallace at Edinburgh Castle, which doesn't look much like Mel Gibson...but then again I'm not sure we know much about what he really did look like!).

Besides taking Nana out and about, the other goal for the trip was to begin learning how to do life along with Ellie. Crystal had it all figured — feed her on the train so she's good for a couple of hours of touring, etc. Well, like most of the best laid plans of mice and men, this one lasted for maybe a good five minutes....

Here we are getting ready to board the train. Ellie found the smooth motion to be irresistably sleep-inducing, so try as she might to eat, her heavy eyelids got the best of her and off she went. So when we got to Edinburgh she was good'n'hungry just in time for the rain to start falling. Now feeding a baby is not the easiest thing in the world, but try doing it modestly, in the rain, standing in a ticket line, with hundreds of people around. Crystal is amazing, but I'm sure it wasn't easy!


When we stopped for lunch, Crystal found an excellent way to be able to eat without spilling food on Ellie. She seemed quite content to camp out underneath a napkin while Crystal buttered her croissant. Shortly thereafter, I was disappointed to find that St. Margaret's Chapel was closed for a wedding. I had wanted to see the inside again, but contented myself with watching the bagpiper who was standing outside the door of the chapel. Then I realized that he was playing the wedding recessional so I snapped a little video of the happy couple (click on the bagpiper above to see it).

Somehow I got it into my head that it would be cute to get a picture of Ellie inside of Mons Meg, the 15th century, six ton cannon that can fire 330 lb cannonballs 2 1/2 miles. Crystal was reluctant but, I managed to talk her into trying to sit Ellie in there. I had wanted to lay her down, but Crystal put her foot down. Instantly, tourists started snapping pictures of our adorable little baby inside the canon. Suddenly it struck me that maybe I was being foolish. Images of Michael Jackson dangling his baby off a 5th floor balcony went through my head. Not to mention a few people who had clucked their tongues at us for taking our nearly-three-week-old off on an outing. Hopefully nobody got any good pictures of us by the cannon... Seriously, I think Ellie was the least worn-out of the four of us on this trip, and I think she enjoyed being cooed over by the Scots (and American tourists).

Crystal and I really enjoyed a demonstration of Scottish weaponry that we saw a couple of years ago when we visited Edinburgh. We were pleased to see that the same fellow was doing a similar talk on this day. Click on his picture to see an excerpt from his talk where he uses "bits" in yet another new way!

And what trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a stop at Jenner's? The saleslady really thought she had us as she showed us to the "Kids at Jenner's" department of children's clothes, selling for huge sums of money. But Ellie decided that all of your kind gifts have her wardrobe pretty much sorted.