Archive for April, 2005

granny visit

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

My mum and youngest brother, Robin, are here at the moment and Toby is in his element with so much attention and people willing to read books to him. He took to them very quickly and seems very happy to have more people around. He’s so relaxed with them, in fact, that he’s been rather bossy. Last night at the dinner table, my mum had finished her food and sat back in her chair. Toby looked over and said, “Granny, you sit up straight!” which she immediately did. Then later he was climbing the stairs with her and I guess his jeans were hindering his progress because he stopped and commanded, “Granny, shorten my jeans!”

potty update

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Potty learning update: we’ve had a few accidents but they’re getting slightly less frequent, and a couple of times he’s even asked to go to the potty. The main casualty so far has been his toothbrush, for the same reason as his friend Sam a couple of weeks ago.


Friday, April 15th, 2005

If you’re from Britain you probably take the roof of your house pretty much for granted. As far as I know most British house roofs are covered with slate tiles – it’s expensive and heavy but lasts for decades. Here in Minnesota (and most or all of America) it’s a different matter. Slate roofing is very rare, and the roofs have asphalt shingles. These are relatively light and do the job well, but typically need to be replaced every 25-35 years. When we moved into our house we noticed that the roof looked rather old, and the chimney was really crumbly. We promised our realtor that we would do something about it, but then didn’t. Now, however, we came into a little extra money and decided that we should put it to good use, and invest it in the house. So we called a few companies and settled on one that would do both jobs, which saves some money. They’re a long-standing local company called Sela Roofing – I apologize for their over-busy website. While we’re linking, here’s a bunch of information from the company which makes the roofing materials.

So on Tuesday the masonry guys came, removed the old chimney from the roof, and replaced it with a nice new one in very smart brick. No more crumbling concrete for us. Then yesterday, Thursday, the roofing crew, about 10 men, got to work. Their first job was to rip everything off the roof, a tearoff, which typically is done before the new roof is put on. However in our house’s case this had clearly never been done and there were four layers of roofing including what looked like original (1909) wood roofing tiles. Despite all the layers they got rid of this amazingly fast, but then saw that the gaps between the planks over the roof beams were quite far apart – too far to comply with city code – so they had to re-deck the whole roof with plyboard, effectively building a new surface for the roofing to sit on. This is something which had to be done, but it did add a lot of extra cost on, about $3500. Anyway, by the end of day one they had totally removed the old roofing, re-decked, covered the new decking with waterproof insulating material, and applied about 1/3rd of the new shingles. Seriously impressive. The foreman reckoned that they’d be totally done by end of day today, which means that they’ll have finished the main roof, done the tearoff and new shingles on the porch roof, added four ventilation things and applied the flashing – the seals between the roof and the chimney and the roof and the walls. I’m very excited to get home and see how it looks, and I’ll post up a couple of before and after pics sometime. A rather expensive undertaking but it’s something which needed to be done before we move – not that we’re planning to do so soon, but it seems dumb to get things fixed just before you move out so you don’t see the benefit.


Friday, April 15th, 2005

Our friend Peter is visiting us from London right now, it’s great to see him. Yesterday I took the day off to show him around – it was wonderful, beautiful weather and just good to hang out. We went for a great breakfast at the French Meadow Bakery, then over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to see the place, and also specifically to see the Illuminating the Word exhibition. In a nutshell, it’s a newly calligraphied and illuminated bible commissioned by the monks of St. John’s Abbey in rural Minnesota, and carried out by artists in Wales. They’re using traditional techniquest of making ink and using quills and using vellum. And it is completely stunning. Even if you’re not religious I think that the artistry would blow you away. There’s more information at the Saint John’s Bible site – I really suggest you take a look, and if you get the chance to see the exhibition, do so.

look at my…

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

We’re starting to help Toby with his potty training, or potty learning as the right-on books call it. He seems quite enthusiastic about the idea and I’m hoping we’re going to make progress. We’ve started having him wear big-kid underpants at home in the evenings rather than diapers so that he learns what it feels like to be wet and uncomfortable when he has an accident. He seems to really like wearing them, partly because I guess he knows it’s a big-kid thing, and also because we have some with Bob the Builder on, and he just LOVES Bob the Builder. We were talking to Toby’s teacher at daycare this morning about this, and made the point that Toby will probably be very excited about showing off his Bob the Builder underpants to his friends. Joe, the teacher, said that kids to like to do that, and it was especially funny when Toy Story came out and all the little boys in the class who were potty training were wearing Toy Story underpants, showing them off saying “look at my Woody”.


Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

I realized with slight dismay over the weekend that Toby said “yellow” instead of “lellow” for the first time. This is something of a passage – it means that he has pretty much no cutely mispronounced words any more. There were a few we enjoyed: Elump for elephant, shortly followed by ellepuh, also for elephant. He used to call our cat Scout “Dout”, and referred to our other cat Nessie as “Ne-ness”. The only thing he consistently can’t say is the J sound, like in the letter G, or “jeans”. I think he makes the sound in the side of his mouth with his tongue, rather than at the front with his teeth, so (this is difficult to describe by typing) it’s more of a wet “dzzhh” sound rather than a clean juh sound.

There are also a few words that he’s extra-American on. He’ll sometimes say “cay-ut” for “cat”, and has quite the midwestern nasal A in, for example “bath”.

But really we’re very pleased with how good and clear his speech is. I hope he remains as verbal and easy to understand as he grows up.


Friday, April 8th, 2005

You’re an impulsive shopper, you know you are. So you need to read about what you’re just about to buy, impulsively, at The Impulsive Buy.

nothing much

Friday, April 8th, 2005

I thought I should post something, but there’s not a ton to report. It’s a Friday afternoon and it’s really sunny out and I should be going home soon once I’ve finished my last few tasks for the day. Work’s busy busy but lots of fun. I got a promotion to a management position last week which is really cool – I’ve been working very hard over the last year and it’s great to get affirmation.

Not much planned for the weekend apart from clearing up the guest room for our friend Peter who is arriving on Wednesday. Guest rooms become a room in which you throw in all your stuff when you don’t have guests so it’s a bit of a big job.

Next week should be exciting – we’re getting our roof and chimney replaced. In the UK most roofs are slate, but here they’re shingle roof tiles so they need to be replaced every 25-30 years or so. With ours being an old house it seems that the former owners never got the existing roof tiles removed, they just added the new ones over the top, so it’s possibly going to be quite expensive because the roofers will need to put new under-decking on the roof to ensure a solid base once the old stuff is gone. Also our chimney is crumbly so it’s being replaced too. Quite a job, but they reckon it won’t take more than a week. Hopefully it’s going to look really smart – we’re on a corner so it’s all quite visible.

toddler stammer

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Over the past few weeks Toby has been stammering a lot at the start of sentences. This is a new development – he’s very good with his speech and singing with a huge vocabulary, very clear and great sentence composition. I had a feeling that toddler stammer was just part of development so I’ve done a little casting around. It seems that it is nothing much to worry about – often it’s a factor of the child starting a sentence before he’s worked out what he’s really going to say. It certainly seems that way with Toby – you can really feel him thinking about his words while he says “what’s he what’s he what’s he what’s he…” at the start of a sentence. I guess it’s really important for us not to draw attention to it or start filling in words.

It has been making a bit of a difference to reading stories with him when he asks about pictures – he’s very intense about knowing what the characters are doing and interrupts a lot to ask what’s going on. Also with his new letter-spotting powers he’ll often stop me to tell me that there’s a B for Baby or an E for Elephant. It’s pretty cool that he’s so good at it and excited about it, and it’s important for me to remember that while I’m reading.

manic street preacher

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Well he wasn’t actually manic, but he was loud and kind of offensive and depressing. There is/was a guy shouting in the street outside my office about the coming rapture and how we should all repent and vote Republican etc. Someone shouted at him to shut up, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. By coincidence, SFGate’s Mark Morford notes today that not all Christians are offensive nutjobs. The first example of enlightened, progressive, non-bigoted Christians he mentions are of course Episcopalians.