June 24, 2008
As good as it ever was, even after all these years...

I was woken in the small hours of Sunday by my youngest. She'd had a Doctor Who inspired nightmare. Some things never change. If only there was room behind my sofa to hide behind.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 26, 2008
Miss Bimbo

Miss Bimbo is indeed a dreadful thing - "yea lol our choice 2 go on this site they should leave it alone hehe". That the land of Shakespeare and the King James bible should sink so low...

Still, I'm not too worried. My eldest spent most of the weekend buried in Wesnoth.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
August 11, 2005
Penpal wanted

My eldest, Freja, has decided that she'd like a penpal. Or, rather, an email pal. Anyone out there, preferably outside the UK, with a seven-to-nine year old with email access who'd like a penpal in England?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
August 09, 2005
Spirits

One morning last week, at Mum's house, the girls rushed into the house and breathlessly told us that they'd found a dinosaur's bones in the garden.

Turns out that they'd found Satya. Her skull was on the picnic table.

They spent the rest of the morning running around screaming. They were playing "being chased by Satya's spirit". Rather unlikely, I though; Satya would be more likely to trying to get away from the little savages, as she did in life.

Oh, a few more photos.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
June 09, 2005
Signing off

I'm off to CenterParcs with the kids, and my Mum, sister, brother in law and nieces next week, so Small Values will be even quieter than usual.

Blogging has been sporadic at best recently 'cos I've been so busy, mainly with a new Java web-app that we've been working on, using Spring and Hibernate running over a legacy database. It's been hard work, but I think we are over the hump now.

The other thing that's been keeping be busy is doing the Python URL. It's hard work - but it seems to be going down well. If there's one next week, though, it probably won't come from me...

Anyway, have a good week all. I might possibly post next week if there's a 'net cafť around, but don't count on it. I should have loads of photos by the 20th.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
June 06, 2005
My children are evil

The girls have discovered the Crazy Frog. Sigh. I made the mistake of showing weakness, and they were merciless. In the end, I had to threaten them with pocket money fines to get them to stop.

Also popular in the playground at the moment:

Loser, Loser,
Wanna be the man,
Ain't got the look,
So talk to the hand.

Tulna is very keen on this on, too. The actions and the appallingly bad fake American accent are as important as the words, I gather.

See also an earlier outtake.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
April 01, 2005
Freja coding

While Freja and I were playing with some Python last week, it occurred to me that the biggest problem that she (and presumably other kids) was having was how unforgiving computer languages are. For instance, after changing the name in the 'you_smell.py' script, she decided that she wanted to have it react to "daddy" or "ella" in certain ways. Without prompting, she tried:

if your_name.lower() == "daddy or ella":

Now, that doesn't actually work, but it's not a bad stab, I reckon. But you get no positive feedback for getting close - stuff just doesn't work. And many of the changes she made were plain syntax errors.

This wasn't a problem - I was with her, and I didn't allow her to become frustrated. But I doubt that you could leave a child of her age on her own to play with this stuff, really.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
Irritating parents

I only do one of these - the babbling on the phone one. I think that we are planning a bring-your-children-to-work day later in the year, though. We'd better give Tracey the day off. The current theory is that she eats children.

Via greenfairy, who also sounds like she might eat children.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
March 26, 2005
you_smell.py

My post to the Python for Kids thread is something I've been meaning to get around to with Freja for a while. She's only eight, but the's confident with and facinated by computers, so I thought that giving her a go wouldn't do any harm if I didn't push her.

So far, she's having a blast. At first, she just drove the turtle around, changing its colour on the way. But towards the end, I suggested that she make a square, and she managed that easily enough. I'll have a bash at loops with her soon, but I really don't want to overload her.

There was another script that I knocked up for her that she had fun with, first just running it, then making simple modifications:

your_name = raw_input("What's your name? ")
if your_name.lower() == "freja":
    print "You're very stinky,", your_name
else:
    print "You smell lovely, ", your_name

She worked out for herself how to replace 'freja' with 'daddy'. Ah, simple pleasures. ;-)

Note to self: Check out PyLogo.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
January 11, 2005
A Day Off

The girls had an INSET day on Monday - which is to say, a day off school. I only found this out on Saturday, but El Presidente was good enough to give me the day off anyway.

We saw Lemony Snicketís A Series of Unfortunate Events on Saturday. The girls loved it, and I was impressed too. I can't usually stand Jim Carrey, but he suited this role. After all, you weren't supposed to like him ;-) Freja wants to start on the books now.

On Sunday we went to the V&A for an hour or so, then on to the Science Museum, the girls' favourite. The Fashion display at the V&A was still closed, unfortunately, but thay can always look in my wadrobe if they want to see the fashions of yesteryear. The Great Bed of Ware was a big hit, for some reason.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 20, 2004
The Horror!

It was Freja's makeover party on Saturday.

If we can go around banning an activity on the basis that lots of people find it offensive, surely Karaoke should be next. I'd be all for that one. If you'd been forced to listen to eight eight-year-olds singing along to Beautiful, you'd be all for a ban too.

Anyway, the girls all loved it. Not my cup of tea, but then, I was hardly the target audience, was I?

Photos for the family: before the party, all the girls, Freja, Ella, the girls and I, Cath and the kids.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
December 16, 2004
Primary School Carol Concerts

It was the girls' carol concert last night. What can I say? Well, if cultural sensitivity means putting an end to having to stand through an hour of kids singing about Jesus, off key, then I'm all for it.

The 'modern' carols were the worst. The traditional carols are at least, well, traditional, but the 'modern' ones were just plain embarrassing.

Still, I wasn't there for me, I was there for the girls.

Now I've just got to get through Freja's 'makeover' party on Saturday...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
November 04, 2004
Here's to sugar on the strawberries

For I long time, the girls and I have been regulars at Wimbledon Swimming Baths Leisure Centre. I thought I'd give Tooting a go.

It's really wierd. In some ways, it's nicer - the changing area and kids pool are really nice. But theres one thing that really bothers me. In the Wimbledon pool, the parents swim with their children. Perfectly normal, you'd have thought. But in Tooting, some 90% of the parents just sit around the fool fully clothed. What's that all about?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
July 05, 2004
Bloody dog

It was Ella's sixth birthday last Tuesday. I'd seen her the previous weekend, and given her her present then - a Flame Red Game Boy Advance SP and a copy of Pokemon Ruby. She was rather pleased with this.

Then, on her birthday, the dog ate it. Can you imagine, six years old, and your new Game Boy gets destroyed, on your birthday? She took it as you'd expect her to take it.

So this weekend, I got her a new one. There goes this month's discretionary funds...

This one is staying at my house.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)
June 28, 2004
SATs

I really don't approve of SATs, particularly for children as young as seven. So it's really rather hypocritical of me to be as pleased as punch at Freja's results, isn't it? Still, what can I do? I'm a parent, I can't be expected to be rational.

Freja was top of her year by a long way. She has a reading age of ten, and a similar level of attainment in maths. :-)

Irrational I may be, but I'm not going to get carried away. Freja is good at reading and maths mainly because she likes reading and maths. We have not pushed and will not push her or her sister along. I don't want Freja or Ella to stop having fun - and I don't want them to feel that their SATs scores affect how we feel about them.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)
May 26, 2004
What's the story in Balamory?

What's the story in Balamory? Wouldn't you like to know? Well, the story in Balamory is that Josie Jump has been murdered and buried under the patio.

Death's too good for her, if you ask me. Let's hope Archie gets it next...

Via mad musings of me.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
February 02, 2004
Freja's verdict

Freja's major critisism of this site was that there were none of her creations here. So, to rectify this, here's one of Freja's pictures, and one of her poems:

MY  SCHOOL  IS  CLOSED

 MY  SCHOOL   IS      CLOSED .  
ITíS    TIME    TO    PLAY.
SNOW!

LETíS    MAKE   A  SNOWMAN!
LETíS      MAKE  A   SNOWMAN!
COME   OUTSIDE!
COME  OUTSIDE!
SNOW!
PLAY!
BUMP!
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNN!  WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!-


(This is as faithful a rendering as I can manage of a Word document that she created this weekend.)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
January 07, 2004
Oy!

We though of that first! It's really irritating when you give your child an obscure name, so they don't end up with the same name as three other kids in their class, only to find that the hoi polloi pick up the name a few years later: Freya was the highest new entry, up 10 places to 41.

Ah well, at least we spelt it authentically...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
January 06, 2004
Parental tip

Never buy make up for small children if you are bald. It's just too much of a temptation. (From left to right - Ella and Freja, my daughters, me, and Lucy, my youngest niece.)

At my brother-in-law's insistance, another Xmas picture for you. This is Dan (my ex's new husband) and I drinking Tequilla.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)
December 02, 2003
The Twits

Freja has reached a very important point in her life. She is now able to read books to herself that she really enjoys.

Prior to now, the books that she found exciting and funny were just a bit out of her range, so she's need me to read them to her. Recently, I've read her Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz. Great stuff. I was planning on The Hobbit and The Phantom Tollbooth next. But this weekend, we were in a bookshop and we came across The Twits. Freja was in hysterics all the way home.

Honestly, I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I'm really pleased that she's getting so much pleasure from reading. But on the other, I'm going to miss reading her bedtime stories. Sigh.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
September 29, 2003
Spirited Away

This weekend, I took Freja to see Spirited Away.

I can't remember the last time I was so knocked out by a film. Truly magical, fantastically beautiful, utterly original, funny and moving, Freja was entranced, and so was I.

Recommended without reservation to those with children of, oh, five and up. If you don't have children, well, I'd recommend it anyway, provided that you're not wedded to realism. This is a "kid's film" in the same way as Philip Pullman is a "kid's author", (and the way J.K. Rowling fails to be, IMNSHO).

I'll almost certainly see this again at the cinema, and the DVD will be bought on sight.

Grauniad review here, BTW, but I'd read no reviews before seeing the film.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
September 25, 2003
It's what you say *and* how you say it

I don't usually take much notice of the so-called experts when it comes to parenting, but 5 Best and Worst Things To Say To Your Kids is actually pretty sensible on the whole. I'll try the please make a decision the next time the opportunity comes up. Knowing Freja, that'll be this weekend!

Via Kevin Dangoor.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
August 27, 2003
Your house is bum

Richard Herring seems to have caught a four year old's sense of humor pretty well - Your house is bum.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
August 12, 2003
An eight-year-old sex symbol

This is seriously sick. Sex symbol aged eight.

I'm lost for words, really. This kind of person doesn't need egging on.

Via Rececca Blood.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
August 01, 2003
The harsh truth

My sister bought me some new, trendy (I gather) jeans for my birthday. I asked number-one-daughter Freja what she thought.

"They are nice jeans, Daddy, but they don't suit you," she said. She's not aware of the phrase mutton dressed as lamb, but if she had have been, I suspect that she would have used it.

Don't ask a child what they think unless you are prepared for the truth. They won't lie to save your feelings. ;-)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
July 30, 2003
MMR

MMR is in the news again - Mothers lose MMR battle. Lord Justice Sedley said the evidence presented by the mothers in the earlier hearing that the MMR vaccination was dangerous and untenable was "junk science". A bit of sanity, at last.

In general, the Media's coverage of MMR is appalling. The impression given to the public is that the jury is still out on MMR, whereas in fact the scientific consensus is that it is totally safe.

To any parents out there who are wondering about MMR, I say this: Do some reasearch. Don't rely on newspapers to tell you what's going on - they are, uh, misleading, to say the least. "MMR Controversy" is a story, "MMR Safe" isn't, and the papers seem to value a story more than they do the truth. Don't trust me, either. Do some reasearch.

Speak to your GP. Visit the NHS's MMR - The Facts site. Do a bit of on-line research, being careful to stick to reliable sources.

And don't get me started on Carol Bloody Vorderman...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
July 29, 2003
The Haynes Baby Manual

The Haynes Baby Manual. What a fabulous idea!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
July 15, 2003
Congratulations!

Congratulations to Andy Todd on the birth of Alexander.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
July 03, 2003
For the less aspirational parent

Are you worried that your child might grow up to make a ton of cash? That they might learn a profession, become an accountant, a programmer, or (shudder) a lawyer?

Or worse, that they might become a really useful member of society? A nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a firefighter?

Well, worry no more! Just get them the McDonald's Food Cart with Play Food, and show them what you expect of them. (Available in the UK from the ever classy Woolworths.)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
April 28, 2003
Seeing Seeing Double

The girls wanted to see the S Club film this weekend. Sigh.

What can I say? Freja (6½) loved it. She got most of the jokes. (Though thankfully not the vibrating egg one - which I felt was rather out of place, to be frank.)

Ella (4¾), though, was all at sea. The plot, such as it was, involved a set of clones of the band. Every thirty seconds or we had "is that the real one, or the robot, Daddy?" Bless her.

The music was unadventurous but workmanlike pop, as you'd expect. Again, Freja loved it. As you'd expect - she's pretty much their target audience

On the plus side, that Rachel Stevens scrubs up OK, it must be said.

And it was ten times better that The Jungle Book 2! A real stinker. Three reprises of the The Bare Necessities - and when you heard the new songs, you know why they made so much of the old ones. Avoid.

Oh, it's Ella's first day at school today. Good luck Ella!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
April 24, 2003
I'll have to keep an eye on that one...

My girls and their cousins, Izzy & Lucy, were playing families this weekend. Freja was the mummy, as usual, and Ella was 'the teenager'.

Ella was carting a doll around, and I asked her whether it was her little sister.

"No, this is my baby," she said.

"Who is the daddy?" asked my Auntie Rachel (my sister).

"We don't know who the daddy is - I've got loads of boyfriends."

That's it - no boyfriends for my girls.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
April 07, 2003
Sleep

Whoever invented the term ďsleep like a babyĒ was not a parent. I feel your pain, Paul.

It's a wonderful thing when they start sleeping through. Mine still wake me horribly early in the morning, though. They are happy to leave thier mother to sleep, but if they are with me they have to wake me - they just can't resist. Saturday morning telly - I watch it all. Is that Fearne Cotton to young to fancy? But I digress...

My sister reckons that it's 'cos I'm too nice. She just tells them to piss off. If done with sufficient conviction, this works, I gather. I get all of my iracable rudeness out of my systems at work though - I just don't have any left for the kids.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
September 24, 2002
StarLogo

StarLogo is a specialized version of the Logo programming language.

I have been interested in Logo for a long time, right back to when I was training as a teacher. God, that was a long time ago.

Anyway, I always thought that Logo was a superb environment for the teaching of programming to children. The primitives give the child excellent feedback (i.e. the turtle moving around), and the introduction of things like procedures, variables and arguments can be introduced very naturally. (If you could get hold of one of the robotic turtles, then that would be fantastic! Or even instructions for making one... I feel a Google coming on.)

StarLogo offers quite a lot to the more advanced user, but does it still offer the nice lead in? I'll have a look. My eldest, Freja, is five now, and she loves maths and computers, so it probably isn't far off time to introduce her to some proper toys. ;-)

Via Sanjay.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
August 22, 2002
Because I said so!

It's OK to say "Because I said so!" to your child, according to the 'experts'.

Thank Christ for that!

I have to say, though, that I don't usually give too much credance to the so-called experts. Children are not all alike, and general rules don't always apply.

The only experts on Freja and Ella are my ex, Cath, and me.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)