Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Midweek panic

My big grant deadline is looming steadily nearer (8th Feb) and I have to say I have hit panic mode. I hate working at the last minute as that is not normally my style, but somehow with one thing and another this grant is nowhere near as ready as I would normally have it by this stage. The main project proposal is written (although with four other people reading it, there are changes being made almost daily - too many cooks?) it is just everything else I have to do, a short summary that can be understood by a non-scientist, a longer summary for an expert in the field, all the projected costs (hard to work out how much of each reagent, cell etc you are going to need for 5 years worth of research and the costs involved), my CV, other grants and more besides. I know I will get there in the end, but it is tough going at the moment.
All I can say is thank goodness for Alex...playing with him before bed is what is keeping me sane at the moment and means I don't spend all my time thinking about the grant. He has been in a hillarious mood finding everything funny from the loo roll holder banging against the wall of the bathroom, to me typing on the laptop. I try and do a different activity with him each evening alongside regular baths and story time. This evening we were playing with his garage, and yesterday evening we were playing with several balls and his stacking rings. He is starting to try and pull himself up to standing now, succeeding in getting up into a riflemans kneel (one foot on the ground and one knee on the ground). I don't think it will be too long before he learns to stand.
I have done a little crafting over the past few days in the form of another pair of trading cards for the words of wisdom swap. The serious one of this pair reads 'Babies are special people just waiting to go' I love the old fashioned colouring of the central panel so didn't want to use blue or pink as the background, so instead I used a K&Co patterned paper adn then simply added the nappy pin and flower embellishments. The fun one reads 'I keep him at the bottom of the garden for a rainy day and is again placed on K&Co patterned paper (paisley green) and then stamped with HeroArts mini stamps (leaves, flowers and dragonflies) to represent the garden.
I also made two very quick and easy cards this week. The first one is a birthday card for a friend and simply used K&Co background paper, rikrak, card brayered with Adirondack butterscotch and a Crafty Individuals Image. Simple but effective.
The final card used a PB image kindly stamped for me by Christine (Gilligogs, CM&PC forum) which I coloured using watercolour pencils. I have never done this before or used a PB stamp so this was a new experience for me...hoping I will get better at it! The image is then layered over some stripey card from the Nana's kids pack (kindly given to me by Kerry Knowles) and then the stickers added. This is for a friends little girl who is 1 next week. As always I would love to know what you think of these.

Sunday, 27 January 2008


Alex now waves at us when we say goodbye or night night...not all the time but it is really very cute. He especially waves at Tim whenever I take Alex out of the room to put him to sleep or to change him. It has been lovely to spend time with him this weekend as he is so happy and chatty and smiley. However, he is off his food at the moment, and not sleeping much either...we think that it is probably teething, although it is often hard to tell. I have to say that breast feeding may not last much longer as I was bitten by him for the first time yesterday.
We are really very lucky that Alex is such a sociable little boy, he charms everyone when we go shopping (all the ladies in Boots always come across and say hello to him!), and today he was perfectly happy when he went into the creche at church for the first time. My intention was to keep Alex in the main church service with me, which worked well through the first few hymns. However, when we got to the quiet bit where people were talking (the notices!) he decided to shout so I thought taking him into creche would be a kindness to everyone else. I didn't know how he would take it as he has never been to nursery or creche before, but I left him there and when I came back at the end of the service (75mins later) he was perfectly happily playing, and hadn't been upset at all. I got the biggest grin ever when I went in! This was great news as far as we are concerned as it means that he may well cope quite well with nursery if he needs to go.
Crafting wise this weekend I have been making ATCs...I have made one for a competition on the theme of Love, which I wont show here otherwise the people who are voting will know who they are voting for. I have also been making some ATCs for a 'words of wisdom' swap where you have to make them in twos, one serious and one fun, and the words have to be clear on the trading card. All of these use images from Crafty Individuals with K and Co background papers. The serious one of this pair has words reading 'let us embark on this journey and together we can realise all our wildest dreams'. I felt that as the image was slightly old world I would use a steam train as the form of transport and a map as the background. The fun one reads 'Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law'. I particularly liked the panel of the rather pompous looking man, and put an image of my great great grandmother looking rather stern behind him.
The serious one in this pair was again about travelling 'Every Journey begins with a single step', hence the map in the background, and the little footprints. I also thought about people on journeys sending letters home, hence the letter and postage mark also in the background. The fun one said ' Committee - a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours', which I felt was a great contrast to the panel of three gentlemen in their hats (saying that they were 3 wise men!). As usual any comments on these are welcome. More soon I hope,

Friday, 25 January 2008

Bumps and bruises

Poor Alex has been in the wars these past few days. He is obviously trying to learn to stand and gets himself onto his hands and feet and then tries to pull himself up on the bars of his stairgate/cot or a table. Yesterday he was up on his knees reaching for something on the coffee table and toppled over and bumped his cheek bone...he has his first bruise. I was devastated. After the initial tears he was absolutely fine and I am sure that, being a very active little boy, this is only the first of many, but I felt horribly guilty. Everyone assures me this is normal though. Alex and I had a great time before bed this evening...he was giggly and chattery and we played both on the floor and in the bath (I am soaked as I type this!) with lots of smiles and laughter before his bed time feed.
I feel like I can't keep up at work at the moment...I have so much to do in the next two grant deadline is two weeks today and there is soo much to do on it..not just the project proposal but also all the associated paperwork and one last experiment. I also have a new student starting next week alongside other meetings etc. Needless to say I am feeling a little stressed and in need of a weekend off.
Not a great deal to report on the crafting front, although I did manage to complete this weeks sketch for PencilLines challenge (#68). The sketch called for a really long title so I felt that 'Where did you get that hat?' was appropriate for these photos of Alex dressed up in a Santa hat. The gold jounalling under the photos reads 'Santa's little helper - Alex the imp'. I am really pleased with how this turned out as I don't often use long titles. I hope to get some time for more crafting this weekend, but we will have to wait and see. Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Yes, after more than a month of saying Dada (albeit with more das on the end and not necessarily associated with Tim) Alex has started saying Mama (mamamama!) which just melts my heart (even though he doesn't yet associate the sounds with me). Monday evening saw us putting up playpens, one in the study (actually his travel cot which is huge!) and one in the sitting room (a big wooden one) so that Tim has somewhere safe to put him during the day. Alex's main play area is still the landing, one of the biggest areas in the house, but it is good for him to have somewhere safe in the study so that we can all be in there together (there are too many little wires, screws, pens, etc and books that he can pull of shelves for him to be safe even when unsupervised for just one second). I am not a fan of playpens, but with Tim's ME I can see the need for them and Alex seems to be adapting OK to them. We now have our Mummy playtime out on the landing where we can roll around the floor, play with his garage, nuzzle, bounce and generally be silly together. I do so love those times in the evening.
The mamama's provided just the boost I needed this week because work has been completely manic so far. I spent a considerable time down at Hallam University which, while being very productive, meant that things were somewhat truncated in the rest of the week for the other projects. I have been asked to write a report of the work that was carried out on a project that finished last October, which meant wading through three badly written lab books to get the information, with a deadline for the report of tomorrow lunchtime. I also gave my first ever lecture to medical students in Sheffield today. The lecture, on designing sucessful research projects, seemed to go OK and I managed to get interaction from at least some of the students which is good. I was also caught up in interviews for most of this morning so today was somewhat stressful. I was very glad and very tired when I got home!
On a more fun note, I have been crafting in the evenings this week and have made a set of 6 ATCs on a similar theme, with the same background (K&Co paper) with a corner of Crafty Individuals paper, edged with green ink and stamped with a green postmark finished off with a dark red Angel kiss flower. Then each of the images (Crafty Individuals) are layered on top to give 6 different ATCs. Simple, but effective. Just the thing for the busy crafter!
I have also finally finished a scrapbook layout that I have been meaning to do for the past few weeks. This one is again based on a PencilLines sketch (# ) and uses some of my photos from Christmas day to give an overview of the day. The journalling in the bottom righthand corner reads 'Alex's first Christmas was the first time all the Staton's had shared Christmas Day since we got married. It was lovely to share this special day together and to watch the cousins interact'. The cardstock used was Bazzil, the stickers were freebies from a magazine and the circles were cut from BoBunny paper. The patterned paper at the bottom of the page was American Traditional Designs. This was quite a fun way of using photos that aren't strong enough for a single page to themselves.
I also received some ATCs in the post which was fun. I just love getting crafty post. The first one is from Emma Ryder, and is a tag which swings out to reveal another tag underneith...great fun. The other two are from Dawn Martindale, another of her lovely waterfall ATCs and a gorgeous shimmery Spirelli which I love. Thank you both very much! More soon,

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Visiting and stairgates

Alex and Grandma sharing cuddles and giggles in the library at Rode Hall
Grandpa and Alex having a walk through the house

Saturday saw Alex and I heading over the Penines to Rode Hall in Cheshire to visit distant family (my fifth cousins once removed!). My parents were staying with them for the weekend and we were invited over the spend the day with them. Sadly Tim was too ill to come with us, but we still had a lovely day. Rode Hall as it stands now was completed in 1752 (I think!) although the original house was much older. It was lovely to go back there as I lived with Richard and Anne for the summer of 1996 and I have many fond memories of my time there. Alex was very well behaved and it was great to spend time with my parents and to watch Alex interacting with them. Anne is a fantastic cook and so we were incredibly well fed. We then went out for a lovely (slightly damp) walk round the grounds before we had to return home.
Sitting up in front of the library fire playing with his toys
Out for a walk round the grounds with Grandma and Grandpa
In the front porch of the house with Grandpa
A photo of Rode Hall showing the oldest part of the house and the stable block.

Today has seen us putting up stairgates and making the upstairs safer for Alex. He can now have the run of the landing while we can leave the study door open so that he can interact with us and hear our voices etc. However, I have to confess to not having used it today as I rather like having Alex playing at my feet. We are going to sort out the playpens (one in the study as the room is really not very safe for Alex and a large one in the sitting room with a door so he can go in and out under supervision) in the next few days and then we should be fully kitted out for him. I don't think that it is going to be very long before he is pulling himself up to standing so we need to get the house safe as soon as possible.
Needless to say I haven't had time to do much crafting over this weekend, although I did make a couple of cards based on Alex's work. The first is a thank you card using a photograph from yesterday, Alex's artwork and a photoshopped version of Alex's artwork by Carole Brown. This is our card to say thank you for yesterday.
The second one again uses Alex's artwork, a ribbon, blue card and a photo of Alex taken today. Alex is wearing his blue cardigan which was a gift from my Great Aunt, and so this card is for her.
Yesterday's post brought me a lovely ATC from Joanne Browne called 'To dream'. I lovely the dreamy feel of these different purple hues. More soon,

Friday, 18 January 2008

Phew - What a relief!

It is officially the weekend and I have finished work for the week. I repeated my experiment over the course of yesterday and today and it worked. This was such a relief as it means that the results can go in my grant application. I have been working flat out over the past few days to get a fully comprehensive first version of the grant in for review this afternoon. Fortunately I have succeeded which means that I can get on with the other parts of the grant application and other aspects of my job next week.
Alex has been the greatest of fun over the past two days keeping me highly amused with his antics...using my desk as a drum kit with any available plastic toy as a drum stick! 'Singing' along to music is another new trick of his which happens sometimes when he is in the mood. He now sits up a lot of the time, although we still get the occasional topple over and head bang. We have now bought some more gates to keep him out of unsafe areas (Study, bathroom and kitchen) as he moves so fast we can't always keep up with him. We hope to put them up this weekend. It is good to give him as much freedom as possible, but within limits!
I have done a little crafting over the past couple of days as the next three letters of the Alphabet ATC swap are due next week. P is for Parrot has used a photo that I took at the local butterfly farm about 2 years ago over the top of a green letter P and some clipart parrots. Q is for Quality Street has entirely used Quality street wrappers...the sweet on the front contains cardboard not chocolate! Finally R is for Roses used K&Co paper for the background, a freebie paper for the letter and a rose EZ rubon which I put on cardboard and then mounted using foam to give a 3D feel to the card.
I have also received some lovely ATCs in the post over the past couple of days. This set of 6 vintage ladies is from Emma Ryder, and they are simple but effective.
The butterfly and flower parchment ATC is from Dorothy Wilmot and must have taken her ages. The parchment craft is beautiful on this one, with the butterfly being especially intricate. I also love the 'Cute as a button' ATC from Jan Matthews, which is simply gorgeous. Aparently she used clingfilm to generate the background effect, although I am not sure how. I am going to ask her because I think it is really effective.

The final two ATCs are from Doreen Collins and are gorgeous. The cross stitched pansy is so cute and well done, and I love the sense fun and movement in the 'Star struck' one. Needless to say I am thrilled with all of these ATCs. We are away for the day tomorrow so I will post more on Sunday. Have a nice weekend everyone.



Wednesday, 16 January 2008


Yes, Alex now finally has a single tooth which has come through in his lower jaw. We noticed it on Monday, and think that this is why he was so out of sorts on Sunday, although he didn’t have the classic bright red cheeks and drooling that are usually associated with teething. Sadly he never opens his mouth in such a way that I can photograph it, but I assure you it is there. What Alex doesn’t realise is that this means his days of being breastfed are numbered…that little tooth is sharp!! We have had so much fun in our ‘Mummy time’ this week as he and I roll around on the floor together playing all sorts of things, cars, trains, peek-a-boo, dancing, bouncing etc. He has also finally learnt to sit up and often plonks himself into a sitting position for a while before moving off to do something else. When he has been in a more cuddly mood we have sat at my desk and I have let him draw using my pastels (they are cheap and pretty nasty!) which he enjoys. I am intending to turn some of his drawings into cards for relatives when I get round to it.
Work is frantically busy at the moment as I try to get the first version of this huge grant application together. In order to complete it I need to do some proof of principle experiments and so this week I have been back in the lab for the first time in 18 months! I am trying to investigate whether a cell surface protein on certain immune cells is related to the blood vessel count in tumours. I have to say that the experiment was only a partial success and I will need to repeat it a number of times. It really feels as though my back is against the wall with this grant, but hopefully I will get there in the end.
The evenings are what keep me sane at the moment, with playing with Alex and crafting. I have done another scrapbook layout with a more recent photo of Alex (Sep 07) entitled PEAS! This layout is all in different shades of green following another of the Pencil line sketches, and I added blotches of green acrylic paint to represent the mess. The journaling reads ‘Alex’s first experiences of food were often messy but the first time he tried peas was one of the funniest. Not only did he get pea in his ear, but every time he smiled with his mouth full he looked like a swamp monster!’ I am pleased with the way this has come together.
I have also made two fairly quick and simple cards using the Crafty Individuals backing paper and butterfly images. I edged the purple background paper with black ink and then mounted it onto purple cardstock. I then cut out one of the butterfly images and mounted it on black card before placing on the card. Finally I added a black angel kiss flower with a purple/pink brad. These were really easy to make but really effective. I am thrilled with how they have turned out.
Having swapped 16 ATCs with people recently I am beginning to see some returns coming back my way and yesterday I received these two wonderful ones from Barbara Williams. They are both so different and yet both so effective. The foil backed one uses alcohol inks, and the Continental breakfast actually uses a bit of Special K box as the background…very effective and great fun.
This waterfall ATC arrived today and is from Dawn. I love waterfall cards, but never seem to have the time or patience to make them so I just love this one. That is all for now folks, but more soon I hope.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Gentle weekend

Yes, it has been another gentle weekend catching up with shopping and chores and generally enjoying each others company while we recouperated from our various coughs, colds and bugs. We are all still feeling rather rough with it, so much so that although Saturday was a good day, today saw Tim retreating to bed and Alex needing a lot more in the way of gentle cuddles than normal. Alex's vocabulary (if you can call it that!) is increasing so much at the moment, the variety of sounds he makes is now quite large including (but not limited to) Yay, yehaw, aaaargh, meeee, yayayaya, dadadadad, heeee, hah, agag, aagoo, deee, as well as a variety of different yells using the back of his throat, and a great Darth Vader impression! It amuses me so much to hear him chuntering away to himself as he plays on the floor or travels in the car. I also love this photo of him in deep concentration as he looks at his book.
I managed to have a good crafting session on Saturday afternoon while Tim slept and Alex played at my feet. I made 8 related ATCs, all using alcohol inks in the background (butterscotch, meadow and bottle applied using the applicator), with gold embossed corners (StampsAway design), then an eyelet and thread (applied using my crop-a-dile) and then an embellishment in the final corner (butterfly or flower). The central images were all from the Crafty Individuals image book. I will be keeping 2 of these ATCs (the top two in the first image) and will swap the remaining 6 on the CMPC forum.
On Sunday I did manage to get an hour to do a bit of crafting and I decided to do another scrapbook layout. This again is an older photo of was in fact the first smile we managed to capture on film. I just love the cheeky impish look that he has in this photo. I chose the colours to match the chair he was sitting on, and added embellishments in the top corner to also represent the fun images of butterflies, flowers and dragonflies on the chair. The design is from Sketch #58 from Pencil Lines. Any comments welcome. More soon,

Friday, 11 January 2008

Sloppy kisses!

Alex has learnt to give very wet kisses. He only does it to me so far and only when we are playing a particular game which involves me rolling on the floor next to him, but it is very very cute. Enough to melt any Mother's heart! We have enjoyed our special times in the evening rolling on the floor, bouncing, crawling, bouncing, playing peep-a-boo, bouncing, laughing, bouncing and reading. I just love this photo of me sat on the floor in his play area in our study reading a book to him (my desk is in the background)
I have been back at work for the past two days, but not able to work at full capacity as I have very blocked and uncomfortable sinuses which seem to affect my ability to think! However, despite that I am making progress and the grant is slowly taking shape.
On a much more fun note, I have been doing yet more crafting over the past two days. I was overwhelmed with the response to my last set of ATCs...people on the CM&PC forum really seemed to like them and various people were disappointed that they didn't manage to swap with me. I even had two special requests...this first one is for Doreen (Momiji) who asked me to make one as close as possible to 'Mary' from the previous set.
This second one is for Barbara who wanted one called 'Edith' as one of her favourite elderly relatives was called Edith. As she liked the previous Edith card I made one similar to that but with a different photo and background.
The final four are new designs, still all using images from Crafty Individuals, stamps from Clevercut and Crafty Individuals, and backing paper from K&Co. I think they have turned out well and hope that people like them as much as the first set. Have a nice weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

First hair cut

I hate being ill....I am a really bad patient who doesn't like spending time in bed and who moans about being ill the whole time. I have spent the past three days off work staggering between bed, the sofa, the floor where Alex used me as a climbing frame, and my desk on the few times that I felt well enough to attempt to go on-line or to do a little crafting. Despite being officially off -work I have had to do some although it took me three times as long as normal to Chinese student had a literature review to do and I needed to edit it...trying to translate Chinese English into good English is surprisingly difficult at the best of times, and even worse when your head is full of goo!
Tim decided yesterday that Alex's hair was getting too long and looking a little 'girly' with it curling up behind his ears and on the back of his neck so he got the clippers out and gave Alex his first hair cut. I dreaded it as I thought it would really alter the way Alex looked, but actually the number 7 worked well and neatened everything out, not altering it too much. Even better, Alex didn't get stressed by the clippers...he only got fedup at the end because he didn't like being restrained. I was very proud of him.
Like I said earlier despite having so much time off work I haven't felt well enough to do much crafting, although I have done my scrapbook layout for this week. This used Bazzil cardstock, papercellar patterned paper, chipboard letters and rub-ons from Making memories and ribbon, flowers that I had available. The layout was taken from a sketch on the Scrummy Stash Cafe Blog and uses photographs that I have had since last April and not known how to incorporate into a layout. The colour scheme was chosen in part from the green and blue of the chair that Alex was sat in and from the chipboard letters.
Tim very kindly bought me some new crafty goodies from Crafty Individuals includig their Miniatures books containing 90 different images. I used 4 images from the 'People & Places' set to make the following 'Forces Letters' set. The backgrounds to these ATCs used K&Co paper on Bazzil Basics cardstock, with Crafty Individual background writing and postage marks on each one. The corner stamps were from the StampsAway range at Clevercut, the flowers are 'Angel kiss blooms, and the dragonflies are from the Woodware craft collection. I am quite pleased with how these ones came out and have put them up for swaps on the CM&PC forum. All comments welcome as usual. More soon,