Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

Working in the USA

Monday, August 5th, 2013

US tripWe’re in America!

We’ve been here for a few weeks now, so I thought I should let you know how we all are in case you’re missing us.

We’re staying in Westford, which is sort of near to Boston, Massachusetts.

I’ve been spending most of my time here – the IBM Mass Lab near Littleton.

US trip


Taking a kid to a barcamp

Monday, June 17th, 2013
Computing at my school (from an 8 year old). Delighted to see this talk at  a Barcamp! #bcb13

Last weekend was Barcamp Berkshire. Barcamps are something I’ve explained before. In short, they’re conferences where each attendee contributes a session on any topic they want. This makes for an unplanned and eclectic mix of talks, presentations and discussions representing the wide range of hobbies, skills and experiences of the people who happen to be attending.

It’s not particularly new that I went to a barcamp, as I’ve been going to things like this for many years.

What was new was that this time, I brought Grace.


Trying to take a picture

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Amy and I share a lot of pictures of the kids. Sorry… it’s kind of an unavoidable parent thing.

For example, Amy recently got them to model some hats she’d crocheted.

And people make nice comments saying how pretty they are and how good they are in photos.

But they don’t realise how much effort it takes to get to that picture.

Look at some of the photos it took to come up with one of her looking… sane. (And this is after I weeded out the ones that were blurry, out of focus, or essentially duplicates).

slideshow of some previous attempts (on flickr)

Basically I’m looking for pity. (Is it working?) 😉

Grace’s Olympics Scratch

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Grace has been starting to get to grips with Scratch – a visual programming tool aimed at children.

She seems to like it so far, and has made a couple of little animal games. She’s also made a more topical animation

Grace’s Olympics animation


  • Green flag means Play from the beginning.
  • Red dot means Stop.
  • The full-screen button in the top-left seems to need you to Shift-click to work.

Scratch’s web player is Flash-based. If you’re on a mobile or other non-Flash-friendly device, sorry – you’re missing something awesome 😉

It doesn’t seem to like Internet Explorer very much. If you’re on IE, what you’re seeing is pretty broken. There is a Java applet version that seems to work better on IE though.



Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Another half-term week is done – tomorrow I’m back in the office.

Apart from the usual (playground, Lego, visiting the library, board games, cooking, face paint, soft-play, few visits to the swimming pool, visiting family, that kinda thing) we did try a few new things worth mentioning.


TK Maxx had a 100x microscope for only 8 quid that actually works surprisingly well, so we spent ages looking at stuff around the house.

We made bouncy balls out of zubber which managed to bounce seriously high in the park. Before kinda falling apart.

We built a miniature brick house, from clay bricks we moulded ourselves.

We went to see Cerrie from CBeebies in a kids show and visit the Living Rainforest near Newbury.

Oh, and listened to the girls sing “Rule, Britannia!” and “God Save the Queen” over and over and over again. They can’t be stopped.

Face Movies

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I’ve been using Picasa to manage my photos of the kids for years.

I noticed in the changelog for the latest version that it now can create chronological “Face Movies”. These are videos of all the photos of a certain person, arranged in order that they were taken, and zoomed, rotated and cropped to line up the face as best as possible between the pictures.

After a little prodding from Tim, I gave it a try.

Here is (nearly) every photo I’ve ever taken of Grace, run through Picasa’s Face Movie.

It takes two-and-a-half minutes, but I think it’s pretty cool. I love how you can watch her face change, and her hair grow over time.

There are settings you can tweak. For example, you can change the frame rate, or get it to filter out photos taken within a specified amount of time of each other. It means you can make shorter versions – I made a video of just some of Grace’s pics that lasts under a minute.


A nice memory

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I was reminded of this by my Timehop email this morning. (Incidentally, I’m loving Timehop – thanks to Roo for sharing it).

A year ago today, I had a lousy afternoon. I even tweeted about it.

I didn’t share what happened after, although I possibly should have.


A week off for half-term

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

This week has been school holidays in Hampshire, so I took a week off to entertain the rampaging monsters otherwise known as my children.

As always, it’s been a fun mix of things. With a three year old and a seven year old, the general plan is to try something a bit different every day so they’re not bored by the end of the week.

We did a few arts and craft things. We made our own candles, melting down candle wax chips from Hobbycraft in a saucepan, adding colouring and pouring them into moulds. We did some sewing, making stuff like animal-shaped cushions.

We spent an afternoon mucking about with a camera and a microphone. Faith loves singing into a small USB microphone we’ve got, so we recorded her singing some of her favourite songs. Grace tried making a stop motion animation using her Sylvanian Families. It ended up being 25 seconds long, but between taking all the photos, and recording the voices and sound-effects, it took her ages!