Monday, December 31, 2007


New Year's Eve

(backposting) Giggle Factory (Sudbury), after a Waitrose trip and the purchase of the next stage of car seat for Jo. Miri really needs to move to the next stage, and Jo's ready, so we've passed hers down: this is _much_ cheaper than buying the next set up for Miri, so it's worked out quite well. After coming back from all that, Jo and I took our scooters to Clare Country Park. She was given one for Christmas, but Jen gave me a scooter 5 or so years ago. It's harder work than I'd remembered - though I never really used it much - but we had great fun. Jo started to get it pretty quickly, including gliding, which really does require quite a good sense of balance.

After that, a quick supper for the girls, and off to Si and D's for a New Year's Eve party. Nora (a bloke), Kate, Chris, Naomi, Debs, Andy, Zae, Moo, me and a goodly number of kids. Lots of alcohol. Pheasant (shot by Si), ham (not shot by Si, as far as I'm aware), chocolate, including a dessert of which I'm pretty proud. A number of us ended up in their hot-tub (in swimming costumes, it should be stressed). Moo and I left around 0100 with the girls. I couldn't find my shoes...

Spent quite a lot of time having pastoral conversations, which was interesting in and of itself.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007



I took Miri to church, which she enjoyed very, very much. She's such a social little baby, and there were lots of people to smile at, and she clapped along to "Shine, Jesus, Shine", which pleased some of the more evangelical members of the congregation (I'm assuming that they were more evangelical - they were clapping along themselves, which is often a good clue).

In the afternoon, we all went to see Kirsty and Matt up in Cambourne. Had a lovely time with them, and then headed back, just in time for me to take Jo to a party at Sam, who lives just down the road, and got engaged on Christmas Day. Her fiancé is French and seems very nice. In fact, I spent quite a lot of time speaking French, as there were some Belgians there, too. Jo had a lovely time with a bunch of other girls there, mainly watching DVDs and trying to infiltrate the boys' room.

Jo is being hard work at the moment, she really, really is. She seems to be on the cusp of something developmentally, and keeps being nearly able to do things, and then losing it. We need to let her try, but then she pushes, and pushes, and pushes... Aargh.


Saturday, December 29, 2007


Quiet day

(backposting) Well, that was the plan, anyway. We went shopping in Sudbury - groceries, etc. - how come the bank is closed all Saturday? Ridiculous. Oh, and we bought two new car seats for Jo (one for Moo's car, one for Mel's). Jo's not ready for them yet, but they were half-price in Halfords, so it made sense. Then we took the girls to the Giggle Factory, to give them a chance to tire themselves out a bit - well, Jo, anyway.

The rest of the day was tidying, quiet play, etc.

The girls are still waking up in the night, but things seem to be improving somewhat. I stayed up rather late playing Trauma Center: Second Opinion, to which I'm somewhat addicted.


Friday, December 28, 2007


Home again

(backposting) Well, we packed everyone up - Moo in the back with the girls again - and headed off mid-morning. We stopped (thank you, Little Chef). A fair amount of sleeping on the back seat, which was pretty much the idea.

A little catch-up on Miri. Over the past few days, Miri has learnt lots of new things, including:

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Thursday, December 27, 2007


More presents?

(backposting) Yup, that's right: yet more presents for Jo. Catherine's cousins (or a selection of the 5) and her aunt turned up after we'd made a trip to the exciting Loughborough (some general shopping, and a new camera lens using money for Christmas). Lots more attention for Miri and Jo, who was late to bed again.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


St Stephen's Day / Boxing Day

(backposting) I slept on a sofa last night, in my own parents' home. Poll and Lee were staying over, Moo had Miri in with her (we tried having her in the cot, but it was not to be), my parents were in their bed (fair enough), and Jo was in a single bed, too. Didn't sleep too badly, to be honest, and we left after breakfast to Kate and Mac's.

There, of course, was Turtle. And Jen, Jake and Mouse, of course, but mainly Turtle. I had another sleep (after more driving). We opened presents. Well, Jo opened lots of them, of course. The girls played. We had supper, Turtle completely lost it, they left, and Jo went to sleep. A great day: the two cousins just love each other to bits. And spent quite a lot of time dressing up in Jo's new "Supergirl" and "Stephanie" (from Lazytown) outfits. Including the pink wig...

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas Day!

(backposting) Not up too late, and not up too early, to be honest. But Jo just had a lovely Christmas. Mainly because she got to open pretty much every present, whether it was for her or not. She's not desperately well, but thanks to sleeping through half of the service that we attended at Cheddar church this morning, managed the day OK.

Presents included:

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Monday, December 24, 2007


Christmas Eve

(backposting) Dad and I popped to Weston-super-Mare this morning and bought a new graphics card for him (nvidia, of course) and some RAM. I then got SL running, and him using it. I was pretty proud of him, actually: he cottoned on fairly well, particularly as it's pretty different to anything else he's done.

We travelled half across the Mendips, up Burrington Combe (near my primary school in Burrington itself) to see Poll and Lee's new house, which is lovely. They've done a lovely job on it, and decorated it very well in the short time they've been there: it really feels like a home already. Jo doesn't really get that it's Christmas tomorrow, but hopefully she'll get it then. For the past few days, she's been entirely convinced that on Christmas Day, she's going to see her cousin Turtle (she isn't), and that it's going to snow (I've checked the forecast: it won't).

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Miri's words

(backposting) Well, not words as such, but she's started using a couple of sounds quite consistently. One is when she's enjoying food particularly: "nyum, nyum". The other is when she wants to play with Jo, or wants Jo's attention, and that does sound amazingly like "Jo-jo".

We set the alarm for 0500 this morning, got up and drove to my parents. That way, the girls get to sleep a bit, and I get to drive in some relative peace. We got there around 0930, after some stops for various reasons: the first for a loo stop. The second to allow me to repack the car so as to allow Moo to sit in the back between the two girls and quieten down Jo.

Lovely to see my parents, though one of the first things I did was to go to bed and get an hour or so's sleep. Spent some time doing the usual IT support for Dad. In particular, he wanted to get onto SecondLife so that he can have a better understanding of it as part of some work we're doing around the Anglican Cathedral there. His machine's underpowered in terms of RAM, but most of all, the graphics card's not up to the job. Off to do some shopping tomorrow, methinks.

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Friday, December 21, 2007



Yup, haircut today for all of us bar Miri. And I got a major new document out to work, which I was very pleased about.

Oh, and don't forget present-wrapping (which Moo did most of, to be honest).

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Thursday, December 20, 2007


Caga Tio

It's amazing what you can learn from Teletubbies. Today we learnt that in Catalonia, they take a log into their home around the 8th December, warm it in a blanket, feed it food and generally welcome it as a member of the family. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, they beat it with sticks, exhorting it to "shit nuts, not sardines", and then look under the blanket to see what they've got. Traditionally, it seems, they get nuts if they've been good, and sardines if they haven't, but more modern interpretations seem to involve sunglasses or jigsaw puzzles. Then they set fire to it.

There's a parable there, I think, about the dangers of being welcomed into a stranger's home around Christmas. Or maybe not.

At least we don't do anything stupid like warn children against the dangers of talking to strangers, then waiting until the Christmas season and exhorting them to sit on the knee of any bloke with a beard and a red suit, who will give them presents and tell them to "be good" and "keep secrets" for him. And who will (if they're lucky), enter their (normally secure) home at night via a (frankly Freudian) domestic orifice which is closed to all "normal people" and make a special delivery in a set of underclothing.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Facebook - the pastoral side

Over the past few weeks, I've made contact with a few people I've not spoken to in many years, through Facebook. And there's pastoral work to be done, to my surprise. That's not why I joined it, it's not why I got back in touch with people. I'm not going to go into details, but sometimes you can clear things up, sometimes you can try to be a neutral, sometimes you can just pray. And that's got to be good.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Hard work time

I've been working away at a document for the folks at HQ for a while, getting the background - it requires quite a lot of new knowledge - and suddenly I hear that they want it rather quickly. So I spent quite a lot of time on it today getting lots of stuff sorted on it.

Also had my last tutorial on the Hermeneutics module today, looking at a short book by Thomas Merton called Praying the Psalms. Too patriarchal for my tastes: both at the Papal level but also at the family level. A good supervision, though, and one of the things I've learnt from this module is that we can look past the stuff we don't like (though it's important to exercise hermeneutics of suspicion) to a "new naiveté", and realise that the Holy Spirit works through people in their own contexts and times.

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Monday, December 17, 2007



I've just finished an assignment on using a model of theological reflection within a placement context. I used the Pastoral Cycle - everyone does - within the context of my hospice placement. It doesn't quite fit, but was useful at the same time. Anyway, some useful insights, and the essay's now finished. One more to do by the 7th January, a verbatim, and a goodly amount of the preparation is already done for that.

Tomorrow I'll sanity-check this one, and send it off. Thanks be to God!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007


Nerd Type

Not surprised that it's a close-run thing, but I score rather scarily in rather too many of them.

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Musician

Doo doo de doo waaaa doo de doo! (<-- That's you playing something.) Everyone appreciates the band/orchestra geeks and the pretty voices. Whether you sing in the choir, participate in a school/local band, or sit at home writing music, you contribute a joy to society that everyone can agree on. Yay! Welcome to actually doing something for poor, pathetic human souls. (Just kidding.)

Literature Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace




We went to a service of lessons and carols this morning at Great Yeldham, and I was reading Luke 1:26-38 (the Annunciation). Jo dressed up as an angel and stood next to me. It was very sweet.

We did the cards today. Not feeling _very_ Christmassy about it.


Saturday, December 15, 2007


Christmas starts

We got the tree, and decorated it today, so the Christmas season has really started. I think we're finished with all the present-buying, too, with the exception of presents for each other, but I know what I'm getting Moo, so that's easy.


Friday, December 14, 2007


Title post

Yesterday, I had a letter from the DDO (the Diocesan Director of Ordinands) inviting me to explore whether I'd like to go forward with a title post in a parish. This is an immensely big deal. For reasons too legion to indulge in here, this letter has turned up rather late in the process, but it's a real relief. We had our yearly meeting of ordinands, those considering ordination, and their spouses this evening, and I spoke to the DDO about it. We agreed that I should follow up, and I told him that was very positive about the parish.

I can't, at this stage, say where the parish is, though I've talked about it with those involved in my training, and with family. It's entirely possible that I, or the incumbent in the parish, might decide that it won't work, and for that reason, it's not fair to discuss it at this stage.

What, however, is a title post, and why's it important? Well, assuming that I am ordained deacon in June (oh, we got the date, too, it's the 29th June) - and this is not a foregone conclusion - then I will be attached as a curate to a parish. I'll stay there for 3-4 years, first as a deacon, and then (again, God willing) as a priest (usually deacons in the Church of England are ordained to the priesthood a year after they are deaconed). So, it's where I move into the next stage of training after ordination, and "learn my craft", as it were. It's possible, but frowned upon, to move away from a title post to a different one, but generally, you want to stay where you are. So, a lot of thought goes into selecting a title post from everyone's point of view, and I hope to be meeting the incumbent - who I've actually met a few times before - after Christmas. I've got an overview of the parish and related matters already, and this is where the careful reflection and prayer takes over.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007


Unfortunate jobs

A guy came around selling things door-to-door tonight, around 1700. I was upstairs, working. Moo was trying to feed the girls. He was deaf, and trying to sign his intentions. It really didn't work. Not so much the whole "Moo was trying to feed the girls", though that didn't help, but more "it's dark, and we don't have an outside light, so even if Moo could understand BSL - which she can't - she wouldn't have been able to see what he was signing."

I'm sorry, but it's just funny.

Oh, and Miri has 2 more teeth: that's 4 now.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Redeeming the Season

What did John the Baptist mean by "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance"? (Matthew 3:8). That's what he told his doubters to do, and if we're going to be ready for Christmas, that's what we're supposed to do, according to received church wisdom and tradition. Being ready for Christmas, of course, is being ready to accept the gift of God's Son, here on earth. So, whatever views we have of the season - the commercialism, particularly, that's probably what we should be about. The last couple of Christmas seasons have been different for me: I'm less interested in getting things, acquiring, shopping, consuming. I suspect this is largely to do with having children, one of whom is beginning to get the wonder, and is very aware of what Christmas is actually about. I suspect it's also to do with my journey towards ordination - God, ERMC and my bishop willing - and my spiritual growth. It's not that I'm disgusted by it: just not very interested, and unsure what it's all for. Maybe that's the first step down the road of redemption.

But I'm not sure that I'm producing the right kind of fruit yet. Maybe that'll have to wait a couple more years.


Today is a "synchroblog" on the subject of "Redeeming the Season". If you've liked what you read here, or, more particularly, if you didn't, and you'd like to read some other opinions, please visit one of the other participating blogs:

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Killed. And saved.

Al Qaeda have killed many people in Algeria today. Including students on a bus, who happened to be passing the UN offices. The UN isn't perfect, and it has a heavy Western bias, but the US don't like it particularly, and it's the best we've got. So why bomb them?

I took the dog for a walk today, and as I was walking along the road, I heard a squealing skid, and a car clearly hitting something quite hard. I turned round, saw a vehicle in the ditch in the dark, and sprinted there, calling 999 on the way. There was a van, upside down, with its lights on, in the ditch. I was first there, and three or so other guys turned up within seconds, pulling their cars up as they saw what had happened. There was a single person in the van, trapped, but only slightly hurt. He was very lucky and would, I suspect, have been dead if he'd not been in a fairly modern vehicle (a 2 year old Berlingo), and wearing a seatbelt. I stayed with him, talking to him and the emergency services on the phone until the police (3 cars), fire service (2 appliances) and ambulance (at least vehicle) arrived. In the end, there was nothing much I needed to do, other than chat with the driver, help the emergency services as best I could (check the driver for injuries, ensure there were no hazardous substances in the van, etc.), but I was really worried that there was going to be someone really badly injured in there, and that the van was going to be so badly damaged that I wouldn't be able to help them much. But I suspect he'll be home inthe next day or so to his family, who live locally (but who he wouldn't let us phone, as he didn't want to worry them!). So, one saved. Let's be thankful for that.

And pray for those who haven't been saved, their families and friends.


Monday, December 10, 2007



Miri is, at just under 8 months, far too young to be walking. But she's this evening she decided that she's going to learn. So, she wants to be stood up (she can support herself very easily, and even pull herself up on a good day), and will then hold both of your hands. She'll then let go of one hand, or try to, and then (if she's lucky) lunge towards you and hold on for dear life, or (if she's unlucky) fall down hard on her bum. Her bum is well-padded, so it's not going to hurt, but she keeps being surprised, and crying. I've told her that she's going to have to get used to it, as there's going to be a lot more to come. If she is now leaning on you, she'll try to shuffle her feet forward. This doesn't work very well, but she's very determined.

Crawling doesn't seem to have occurred to her as a viable option, so I think we're going to have to encourage her to cruise round the furniture for a while. And to get used to falling on her backside. Frequently.


Sunday, December 09, 2007


Two services

First, I went to Little Yeldham and talked, then discussed, then had a short service. Talked about Matthew 3:1-12, and did a little hermeneutics: talking about what John's challenge meant at the time, to the Gospel writer and to us now. Then about Kingdom Values. Interesting and lively discussion, and lots of friendly feedback. Next time: "What does it mean to believe in the Bible?"

Christingle in the evening, with Si, D, Morgan, Boo, Victoria and Sennon. We couldn't really hear what was going on, and ended up running a little creche in the corner, where there were a bunch of kids who were rather too old to be there. Good carol-singing, and Jo seemed to enjoy the candle (which, interestingly, she didn't want to hold).

Ah - meant to say: we were trying to find an updated analogy for Matthew 3:12: "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." The NRSV has "winnowing fork" for "fan". I was wondering about "the Lord will come with his spam filter, and all spam will be deleted for all time"?


Saturday, December 08, 2007


Router fixing

Left home at 0830 this morning up to Kate and Macs. Only took me 5-10 minutes to fix the router: the problem was what I'd expected, and I had notes on what I'd needed to do last time. This time I've saved the config, and written notes on how to put it all back together. So, we had a chance to see them, and Nana Stick, who Moo hadn't spent much time with at the Christening. Back home around 1910 - girls both took a long time to get back to sleep.

I've had a paper accepted at a conference in February, it seems, which is good: but I've had to send a photo of myself, which I hate.

Oh, and Liverpool lost: what _was_ Benitez thinking with that formation?

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Friday, December 07, 2007


Flying home

Ryanair - I'm not convinced. But I got home OK, which I was pleased about, obviously. Both Jo and Miri were both very pleased to see me, which really made my day, particularly as I'd been pretty miserable this morning: just a bit home-sick.

Miri's looking older _again_: I think it's the hair, which is growing quickly.

Got home to discover that Kate and Mac's computer isn't working. Sounds like a powersurge has wiped the ADSL router's memory. We've decided to pop up tomorrow and I'll see if I can fix it.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Panel session and walk-about

Still in Grenoble, and slept in till 0815 or so, which was lovely. Got up and went to the conference, where I was one of the members of a panel on security. Went well, and I had lots to say (no, really), and was approached by no fewer than 5 journalists afterwards. Something good should come from at least one. The rest of the day wasn't desperately interesting - I even had a short sleep in the afternoon. Also wrote the synopsis for a paper for a conference next month, which seems to have been accepted. After the conference had wrapped up, I headed off into the old town of Grenoble, which was rather pretty with Christmas lights up. Called Kate (my mother-in-law), and had her very confused by talking in French to her. I also found a rather nice Christmas market and bought Moo a Christmas present. Well, that's _one_ down...

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Learning lots

Well, I'm at a conference on IP in hardware and chip design, learning about lots of things I didn't know. Had a couple of good meetings, I'm running a panel session in half an hour, and participating in one tomorrow morning. The weather's gorgeous here - bright sun, clear, clear blue skies - though I understand it's pretty nasty back home.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


A poor hotel in Grenoble

Well, I really wouldn't give it 3 stars, is all I can say. It's serviceable, and there's broadband over Wifi, but functional is about it. Flight OK, read some theology for the course.

Oh, and there's even snow!
Sunset-lit mountains seen from Grenoble

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Monday, December 03, 2007



Most stuff is working now. Can't get my machine to connect via 3G via my phone, but I've now got Skype working with my bluetooth headset, which is pretty nifty. /home and swap partitions encrypted, 2Gig RAM, SecondLife all there.

Jo decided to read me a story, and got a book out. "Stephanie and the bad hair day," she announced (she's into Lazytown at the moment). "Or Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water," I countered. "No, Daddy: Stephanie and the bad hair day." Fair enough.

I suggested we said a prayer after the light was turned off. I suggested praying for Mummy, Daddy, Miri and Jojo, but Jo came up with a lovely little prayer thanking God and Jesus for Father Christmas (and not just giving her presents, but everybody). She also reckons he brings Christmas trees, but hey. It was a beautiful prayer, and I was very impressed.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


2 and a half hours later...

... and I've finished the ironing. A quiet weekend - Jo's not been very well: nothing major, just not 100%, so we took it easy.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Some choice Jo-isms

These from the past few weeks.
"Daddy - why do you smell?" (I'd just been for a walk with the dog).
"Nana, what are you doing?"
"It's mopping"
"What's mopping?" (All eyes turn to her parents.)
"What's that smell, Mummy?"
"Mummy, you've still got a very big tummy, even though Miri's born." (Moo told me to put this in!)


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