Ingrid has been skipping naps since last weekend. She’s hovering in the vague zone where one nap is too little and two is too much. She is tired in the afternoon, so she’s grouchy and clingy, but not tired enough to fall asleep. Some days she has slept in the sling. Today I got her to lie down and rest by my side in the big bed for half an hour or so. But it won’t be long until she only takes one nap a day.

What am I going to do then? I need her naps! I like to join her for the morning nap if the night goes wrong, or if she wakes up unusually early. And her naptimes are the most productive parts of my day. That’s the time when I can get things done without interruption. My work-from-home Fridays are about to become a bit more challenging, I suspect.

Ingrid happened to do something with my keyboard and all the messages disappeared from my inbox. Normally an Undo should have restored everything, but this time it did not… so if you had sent me an email and are waiting for a response, you will have to resend your message. Sorry.

I found a Times article about GCSE science exams, specifically about some committee’s demands that the exam should be made easier.

The Times kindly provides a sample science exam (pdf). Now I do have rather low expectations of the UK educational system, but even so, I was not expecting the exam questions to be that basic. Half of them would be suitable for 10-year-olds.

All the questions are multiple choice questions, so you don’t need to do more than guess at what sounds most plausible.
Every formula you might need to know is provided for you, including (I’m not joking) “speed = distance / time” so you don’t even need to know any of the basic relationships.
Only 5 out of the 40 questions required some sort of calculation. The most complicated calculation required is a single step of multiplication.

Sample question:

2. We can take photographs of the moon because
A it is a small star
B it reflects light
C it is electromagnetic
D it produces its own light

A disgrace, I say. What is the world coming to, when 14-year-olds who have actually studied science – not disadvantaged unschooled 14-year-olds – have trouble answering questions of this kind?

The past weekend’s troubles definitely ended with the arrival of new front teeth. The question is, did one cause the other?

There was a period, during her first months in nursery, when Ingrid had one cold after the other. That seems to have passed, and she hasn’t been ill for a long time. Until this weekend’s symptoms, that is. So I’m quite tempted to see a causal relationship there.

Now, all sorts of Internet sages claim that neither diarrhea nor fever are supposed to be teething symptoms. It’s just a myth. But when both symptoms start just a day or two before the tooth erupts, and then disappear immediately after, I have to say I’m more inclined to believe the myth than the doctors.

A few traditional symptoms, such as fussiness, lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, were all present. There was also one night waking with half an hour of inconsolable crying. That happened once before, and Eric says that was when the previous two teeth came. (I only remember it happened, not when.) On the other hand some of the symptoms that doctors expect – drooling more than usual, being more inclined to chew on things – were conspicuously absent.

Need more data.

Eric is at home with Ingrid this week so for the first time in many many months I cycled straight home, without stopping at the nursery. Interesting: this route felt so much more familiar to me, I hardly even thought about where I was. And it is a more relaxing route as well so I just zoned out. The other route goes by some major roads with lots of traffic and little space for bicycles so I am always a bit stressed out by the time I arrive.

Haddon tells the story of an ordinary English family – two parents and their grown children. All of their lives and relationships dissolve into a mess and some start breaking down, all at the same time. George, the father, thinks he has cancer and slowly slides towards madness. His wife has an affair. His divorced daughter is due to get remarried but is now getting cold feet. His son is gay (which George has some trouble with) and has commitment issues.

The result of all this is an understated (very English) melodramatic comedy. It’s funny, I guess, but the whole book just feels so ordinary. Families breaking down, midlife crises, failing relationships… it has all been done before. It’s just ordinary people doing ordinary things. To quote one reviewer on Amazon, “The power of the novel comes from the fact that everyone reading it will surely be able to identify some aspect of their own behaviour or that of someone they know or have known.” Sort of like soap operas, then, I guess. But if I wanted to see aspects of my own behaviour or that of someone I know, all I’d have to do is look up from the keyboard. I don’t need a book for that. I want books to give me something different from the everyday.

Where Haddon’s first book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (which I cannot help comparing A Spot of Bother to), told an unusual story from an interesting perspective, this one has nothing new in it. There are no surprises. The issues are not even explored with any kind of insight, just cheerfully and superficially reported. There’s even the predictable rose-tinted happy ending where all the “right” relationships are mended and all the “wrong” ones ended. Curious Incident had freshness, intensity and vigour, while this book is pleasant and perfectly bland. It makes me think of Hollywood romantic comedies (not that I’ve seen that many, to be honest – I guess it makes me think of my prejudices about Hollywood romantic comedies). And perhaps a movie contract is what he’s got in mind?

OK for light summer reading but not really worth wasting much time on.

Amazon UK, Amazon US.

We’re now suspecting that Ingrid’s fever, diarrhea, fussiness and lack of appetite may be due to a new tooth. I am pretty sure I saw a teensy strip of white where the next tooth should come. But she doesn’t like us poking around in her mouth so this is still just a guess.

Myself: the intractable bug is beginning to yield; I think I’ve narrowed down the conditions where it occurs. Unfortunately those conditions would occur in 99% of all cases if this was rolled out to users. And I still have no idea how to fix it.

Ingrid still sick-ish. Any food passes through her in about 4-5 hours and comes out as good as undigested. Apple for breakfast – apple pieces in the nappy by lunchtime. I suspect today she had a slight fever as well, but with today’s heat (28°C at home a few hours ago) it’s hard to tell.

On the plus side she’s generally in a good mood and not too distressed, so we took advantage of the warm and sunny day and went to Kew Gardens.

Ended the day with Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Diarrhoea, no appetite, tired and sleepy and wants to be with mummy more than usual. She perked up a bit during our afternoon walk but was tired again when we got home. Luckily she’s been happy to nurse so I don’t need to worry about dehydration yet.

Myself: battling with a mysterious memory access error that our software somehow causes in Excel. I know which part of code causes it, but not how or why, or what to do about it. Frustrating.

More rain today, and only 15°C in the morning. Time to bring down warmer clothes from the attic and pack away the summer dresses.

Speaking of clothes I ordered a lovely t-shirt from ThinkGeek – isn’t it beautiful?