Category Archives: Parenting

Restless

Having a difficult month. I’ve got a viral infection which I can’t seem to shake. I recall catching a similar infection which took over three months to recover from. In particular my sleep has been badly affected.

Last night I went to sleep at 4am. I really didn’t want to do this, but my brain continued to race and recycle mundane thoughts. I couldn’t shake this! Of course I was also piling additional pressure on myself to try to sleep knowing how few hours sleep I’d actually get. Add in my asthma and the constant wheezing/coughing which happens when I lie down. Finally mix in the clocks going forward an hour to British Summer Time (body clock all over the place). I think I managed about just under 3 hours sleep!

As a family we all suffer sleep-wise. At one end of the spectrum is my wife who is constantly exhausted and regularly takes naps during the day. At the other end are my children and I. I’ve always been a light sleeper, the slightest noise will keep me awake. Last Sunday my eldest made a lovely Mother’s Day flower clock. The ticking mechanism kept me awake. Speaking of my eldest, she has been a poor sleeper ever since birth. We took her to a specialist about her sleep and she came back with autism diagnosis. My youngest was initially a better sleeper. Sadly the knock on effect of my eldest not sleeping has rubbed off on her now. We start the bedtime routine at 7pm. We are lucky if they fall sleep 4 hours after this! We’ve tried every trick in the book to attempt to change this exhausting cycle.

It’s amazing how much lack of sleep affects you. Earlier this morning I made a stupid slip-up which I’m sure I might have avoided had I got more sleep. With blurry eyes I withdrew from the wrong film festival – a rather costly mistake which I might not be able to rectify. Naturally, I’m feeling cross at myself and rather stupid.

The impacts on of lack of sleep on your well-being, memory and health are well documented. I’ve definitely been feeling more moody, erratic and my immunity level feels low. Thankfully I have a pretty quiet weekend planned. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to catch up with more sleep – fingers crossed (children – are you listening? Let daddy sleep!). 🙂

Advertisements

The Enchanted Forest

Happy New Year! I spent the majority of my Christmas break catching up on  film watching with the girls. This was mostly a combination of Disney, Harry Potter and Fantastic beasts and where to find them.

My youngest now wants to be a unicorn roaming around in a forest whilst my eldest keeps chanting the “three unmentionable curses” at me all day (thanks very much J.K. Rowling)!

Watching their imaginations grow, I felt inspired to write a piece of music which celebrates these fantasy worlds.

(Direct soundcloud link here)

Her beautiful motifs

Both of my daughters have always enjoyed “banging around” creating music on my keyboard. I usually get asked to record their efforts. My eldest seems particularly musical, we share similar music tastes (both responding to minor chords and strings). She recently had a term learning to play the violin – I have to say she was far better at it than I was. Being the weekend, I decided to let her have a little play on my keyboard again.

“Listen to this Daddy” she announced proudly after five minutes. So I did and was rather impressed, she is now really starting to pick up rhythms and harmony. To show her my appreciation of her growing musical ability, I decided to turn her short motif into a new track. So here is our first joint collaboration together, she is responsible for the mellow guitar part and I formed the chords/added some gentle beats over the top. I can’t wait to play this to her and hear what future compositions she comes up with.

Here is the track:

Creative Inspiration

Happy 2014 everyone! Today marks a return “back to reality”, although I have enjoyed a lovely Christmas break with the children – marvelling at all their creative endeavours.

My youngest (clearly an engineer trapped in a four-year old’s body) had great fun keeping herself amused with her new Sylvanian families toys and building Lego towers/structures using the rather fun ello Creation System which would make even Grand Design’s Kevin Mccloud jealous. I wish I had her building abilities.

My eldest meanwhile wrote several stories/books. I was surprised when she even started to sell them to us:

BookSale

Clearly her pricing strategies need more work but it was lovely to see her imagination firing away on all cylinders. I wish story-writing came as naturally to me!

I am particularly looking forward to this book (not on the list – but a personal request I put in):

DrWhoBook

There was one other piece she did which I found particularly impressive. Last year her school arranged a trip to the Ashmolean Museum. One of the things she saw was a picture on-loan from Le Louvre called La Nuit by Claude Joseph Vernet.

LaNuitOriginal

At the end of the holiday she did her own interpretation of this purely from her own recollection. I was also reliably informed by her that “the title is French, it means night”. Personally I can’t even mix the painting colours convincingly. I wish I had her memory and painting abilities also.

LaNuitPic

What a wonderful source of inspiration to start the year with. I hope they continue to keep me inspired throughout the year (and I am sure they will).

Signed: one very proud daddy!

Doctor Who Proms

Had a family outing to Royal Albert Hall to see the Doctor Who Proms today.

This was a memorable trip for several reasons. Firstly it was our first prom. Secondly it was the first time my little ones had actually seen a live orchestra. My eldest in particular shows a real interest music, so this recalled a lot of the same emotions I felt when taking her to the cinema for the first time. Of course the fact they both love the series also helps!

I’ve created a small gallery of pictures from this event being as it’s the 50th Anniversary. It was great to see so many familiar faces, monsters, and it was a refreshing mix of “Classic Who” and “Nu-Who”.

Highlights included the aforementioned array of monsters, Matt Smith with new hair-do (and cheeky reasoning behind it), former Doctor Peter Davison, the Doctor’s very first companion – Carole Anne Ford, some Radiophonic coolness, Strax who was quite the scene-stealer, two prize-winning compositions, a special 50th tribute song and the conductor/orchestrator getting berated for his acting by the Daleks. How can you not love them?

It was a sad moment when we realised our daughter is so accustomed to the likes of DVD/iPlayer that when she said “I want to watch it again!”, we needed to explain that this was a live performance which can’t just be repeated. Her little face dropped for a moment, but thankfully it is currently available for a week or so on iPlayer in audio-only form and will be televised later in the Autumn.

Getting animated

I’ve been meaning to post a progress update on The Lonely Bear.

As already mentioned, I am using Flash for the animation. The truth is I’m not a Flash expert and I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to get things moving. The last version I used was when it was owned by Macromedia (circa 2000). Therefore it was back to the drawing board when I fired up the latest version in my Adobe Creative Suite. Some bits were  still familiar, most of it I needed to relearn.

One of the discoveries I made early on was the bone tool. I had a play and all seemed to work well on my demo with Mr Circle Man – I was very excited!

Circle man demo

This excitement was short-lived. My project kept crashing whenever I tried to save it – extremely frustrating. The only way I could save anything at all was to export to an earlier Flash format. The downside was that the bone tool didn’t appear to work properly now – despite my numerous attempts and following online guides. Eventually I gave up.

At this point I decided to return to my trusty old friend “Tweening” for help. Tweening is a process where you set two key frames (a start position and an end position). The “tween” then attempts to fill all of the frames in between these two points. Just to confuse things – Adobe Flash has a fancy new tweening method which I wasn’t quite able to get my head around.

Momentarily frustrated again, I decided to try stop motion and just move each leg, arm, foot, hand etc manually. Now I have to say I adored the crude look this produced. However even I was able to foresee the world of pain this would ultimate cause. I was hoping to finish the film this decade with some sanity remaining. I decided to take another quick look at tweening and I stumbled onto “Classic Tweening” – this appeared to do what I needed. At last!

Okay – enough talk, time for a visual demonstration as things currently look. The timing isn’t right, although I like the effect that produces:

Right, that only took most of the week – let’s hope I can get things moving a bit quicker next time.

The Lonely Bear

Over the weekend, my daughter completely surprised me. I was busy snoozing before getting woken by a little girl full to the brim with pride and excitement. She presented us with her latest creative endeavour, a self-written book entitled The Lonely Bear. She has only just turned six so I wasn’t expecting miracles in terms of spelling or grammar.  I was also not expecting anything as  long as twelve pages. Yet it completely astounded me how much she has already picked up from reading other stories (setting up the characters, repetition, an ending etc). I felt so incredibly proud that I made the flippant remark – we have to turn this into a small animation for you to keep.

I have been looking for a change of pace and style after both Legacy and Spare Change. An animation for children is just the ticket (I’ll document things here as I go along). I’m planning to use Flash (most probably very badly) to do achieve this. The animation will look rather crude, which I hope also lends it a certain charm.

I am currently working alongside my daughter who is helping me create the characters. The process is: I’ll doodle, she will tell me the one she likes and we make a few refinements. At the moment we have just finished our main character: Clare the bear (descended from the bear doodle on the right).

LonelyBear-BearSketches600px

So without further ado – I present to you the first of the characters and the title for my next little project:

LonelyBear-600px

Please show her lots of love as she is feeling rather lonely on her own right now.