Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Voice has arrived

Hannah's VOCA (voice output communication aid, that's a computer wot speaks to you and me) has finally arrived. We had to wait for a new battery to come as the old one wasn't charging so it's taken a little while but it is now here. A very nice lady called Karen came to show us how it works, and Hannah was away, touching all the buttons and making it say things. At the moment it is limited to snacks and songs (very motivating for the average three year old) but it is almost imfinitely expandable and so can grow with her. The only downside is that it is a large and heavy model, but it will definitely do for seeing if she gets on with it.

So we have spent this evening modifying the snack buttons to things we have in the house and are happy for her to choose, and then we generally played around with it - it's very cool. Chris has managed to reprogramme most of it already. We have been focussing on getting it, but tomorrow we'll start to use it and find out if Hannah gets on with it and how to fit it into family life. Sounds like a long process to me, and at the moment it is feeling quite daunting.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A Very Excited Bean...

We finally got what has turned out to be a long term project launched last night. This is the highly technical linking of two households by video, over the web, so that Hannah can 'talk' (ie sign) to her grandparents 150 miles away. (Phone conversations are a bit limited when you can only say 'yeah'.) This has taken about two years and involved several steps:

1. get broadband at our end - a big issue for some years due to the length of line between us and the exchange. don't get us started. still causes problems, but we do (obviously) now have it.
2. persuade parents that the purchase of a webcam is useful, nay vital for this process (not difficult).
3. set up webcams on computers - required waiting until we visited, but otherwise straightforward.
4. teach parents how to use skype - still in troubleshooting phase.
5. work out why internet speed is so low at our end that video won't work - turned out to be a dodgy router but delayed us for a couple of months - grr.
6. arrange time with all present to try out system.

And it worked! We (three - Steffie was in bed) spoke to Granny, Grandpa, Uncle Stuart and Auntie Kerry (and bump). Hannah signed. It was GREAT! Hannah was so chuffed at seeing them, and seeing herself, on 'telly', and quickly got the hang of staying in view of the camera. I can see her spending a *lot* of time signing at Granny and Grandpa.

One plus was that she was also able to show them her certificate for being 'Hedgehog of the Week' at nursery (my big girl! - proud mummy moment) - you can't do that down a phone.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mothers weekend

We've had a great weekend celebrating my mum's birthday (yes, a BIG one!) and Mothers Day with all my family. Hannah and Steffie have hugely enjoyed playing with their big cousins, not to mention Auntie and Uncle as well as Grandma and Grandad. So many relatives in one weekend! And we have a new record for the largest number of people we can seat in our kitchen - 10 (including Steffie in her highchair).

My sister and I had made Mum a pair of cushions - one knitted (by her) and one sewn (by me). We couldn't finish them until they came down on Friday night so it was a long evening of sewing, but we got them done. We are very pleased with the results, but as usual I completely forgot to take photos before they disappeared to their new home. (And I'd bought a new card for the camera specially.)

I am now laid low with the sickness bug that is doing the rounds at the moment - great for Mothers Day huh. At least I am getting to lie around all day.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Spring colours

I'm currently really into this colour combination - the leafy spring green with a beautiful bright red. A couple of times recently I've found myself stir-frying leeks and red peppers, a gorgeous combination and pretty tasty too! I think it's that promise of spring that is in the sunshine right now, coupled with a bit of a longing for summer. I don't usually go for green but I'm finding myself more drawn to it lately, especially the acid/leafy shades.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Letters and numbers - or the lack of them...

Well, I was going to post a picture of a great arrangement of letters and numbers that Hannah did on the fridge the other day, but the camera card appears to have died. I've photographed it twice now but the computer still won't read the card. I don't think it has anything to do with Hannah's latest craze/accomplishment - she was found the other day trying to cut it with her new scissors. So it (the card that is) is now undergoing a format to try to revive it; if it doesn't work I'll have to go buy a new one. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 13 March 2009


The daffs are out! I love that splash of sunny yellow against the stone wall of the house. These are greeting visitors outside our front door, and hopefully will do for some time to come. Thanks Mum for planting them for me!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Knitting circle

This morning was a knitting morning. I arrived at the church coffee morning to find not one but two friends already there and already with their knitting out! So our two small ones roamed around and (in Steffie's case) nicked other people's toast while we knitted. What's more we were all knitting with dpns much to everyone else's amusement. It was interrupted only by a quick dash to save Steffie from falling down the chancel steps, and by the eating of cake. Magic.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Spring blown away...

Back to winter then, as usual. It hailed on us this morning as we dashed into the doctors - yuk - and it is very blowy. But the sun's still out every now and again which is nice. The daffodils by the front door are budding so I'm looking forward to seeing them. Hoping Spring comes properly soon!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Signs of Spring

Yay, finally spring might just have poked her head above ground! We have been for little walks (for little legs, and Mummy's dodgy hips) the last two days as the weather has been so good. The catkins are out, and so is the pussy willow - we were showing Hannah how soft and furry the buds are. But best of all has been the sunshine - lovely, warm, golden, spring sunshine in a blue sky. We just had to sit down and enjoy it, with the obligatory snack of course.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Library, and the joys of a glue gun

Steffie and I spent some time in the library this afternoon. The library in our village is tiny, one room that would be big-ish if it were my living room, but is small, sweet, for a library. And yet there are all sorts of books in there! Steffie spent the time pulling books off shelves in a very determined, how-many-can-I-pull-off-before-Mummy-notices-and-feels-she-ought-to-put-them-back kind of way. And as I was engrossed in books, she pulled off a lot before I noticed.

On the crafting front, it should have been knitting night at a friend's tonight but she had to cancel, so I have been playing with some pegs, some felt shapes and my new glue gun, just experimenting to see what kind of things look best. Not sure any of them do, but I'll keep trying. The glue gun is great fun though, I haven't used one since I was at school, how have I managed this long without one? I can stick anything!