Isabel’s First Birthday

Isabel turned 1 on Sunday. Crazy to think it has been a year since my world was turned upside down by a warm pink bundle of goo. It makes me all broody for more babies just thinking about it :D

Anyway, to celebrate her birthday we had family over and ate crisps, sausage rolls, jelly and ice cream, etc. I also baked an epic Very Hungry Caterpillar cake:

Very Hungry Caterpillar cake

I didn’t think it came out too bad, considering I had never used that sort of icing before OR in fact made a decorated cake at all. Very Hungry Caterpillar aficionados will recognise a few minor incorrect details (the antennae should be purple, eye pupils green, should have 6 feet) but this was mostly due to lack of time/running out of icing/forgetting to buy purple.

Tasted good though.

Why I Chose WordPress

I have had a somewhat infamous love-hate relationship with WordPress over the years. Although I was virtually an early adopter of the CMS, I have found myself using and dropping it in direct relation to the stability of the admin panel. However, WP development now takes up a significant portion of my workload and it was therefore a logical decision to get intimate with it for my geeky blog.

The advantages over my normal blog engine of choice (Habari) are as follows:

  • Easy upgrades for both the core and plugins
  • Easier to extend and adjust (this is not a criticism of Habari which is as extendible as WordPress, rather a reflection on my ability based on the age of WP’s base code… yes, I am old skool)
  • Can drop widgets and plugins in without having to worry about coding them myself; this is largely because of…
  • …a larger user base (beneficial with support queries and ready-to-roll code)

Of course, the advantage for you guys (a large proportion of whom use WP yourselves) is that I’ll be able to get down and dirty with WordPress, sharing hints and snippets in the process.

Side Accordion Menu in Mootools

A recent project involving a request for an ‘accordion’ style content box allowing multiple blocks of copy to occupy the same space (I assume to give a less wordy impression to users while retaining ‘searchability’ in Google) has led me down a mootools-based route… having never used the mootools JavaScript framework before I was quite surprised at how simple it was to integrate.

One of the requirements of the menu was that the menu that controls which content was on show need be on the left. My first approach at this had the ‘tab’ which selected the content and the content itself side by side, but this threw up problems when the content was long (pushing the other menu items down the page too). I ended up splitting the tabs and the content – RESULT!

Preview (screenshot):

View online demo: demos » mootools » accordion
Download demo:
Tested & working in: IE6, IE7, Chrome, Opera 9.64, FF3

Unexpected Feelings, Work, etc

Today I returned to work. Walking out of the door this morning was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life; I felt like I was abandoning my daughter. Of course, I wasn’t… and she enjoyed her day with her Nannies (my mum and Lou) so barely noticed I’d gone. Work was OK and the day went fairly fast. Doesn’t mean I am looking forward to tomorrow but at least I didn’t cry. ;)

Anyway, I was sat at my desk banging out code when I started thinking about my own sites. I actually surprised myself over how… uh… ‘unbothered’ (better word?) I am over the little empire I’ve built for myself. I seemed to have this expectation pre-Izz that I’d have her, and somehow be able to continue as normal with my sites (both the time and financial aspect!) As it turns out, I barely have time to wipe my arse let alone maintain code and databases etc. Further to that, my interests are so ridiculously different it’s crazy.

I know I’ve said this before (time and time again) but I am going to cut right back. I have an exam in a few days I’ve not revised for, work, 2+ websites at home on the go PLUS, of course, Isabel. It’s not physically possible to fit all that in… unless I want to give up sleep.

Firstly, I’m ending development on Bella[Buffs/Buzz/Blocks]. If anyone wants to adopt these scripts from me, please get in touch and we can discuss. Providing I trust your ability and intentions I will redirect all relevant traffic to your site/s.

I will be handing power of over to a few selected moderators (whom I’ll choose myself) for the time being.

I am going on long term hiatus from the quilting bee; technical support will be offered as normal but Melissa will be taking my place as Queen until further notice. I am confident in her affection for and dedication to the club :)

The ‘new’ tutorialtastic will be pushed live as a priority.

Snark manages itself/is well supported by current mods so will be fine as-is

NinjaLinks development is on hold but both it and my mail form will be moved to my ‘professional’ domain, My PHP/SEO/etc posts from over the years will be following suit asap (which gives me a space to talk work without boring non-geeks). As a consequence, this site will become more personal focused: family, life, cats, rambling, etc (which gives me a space to talk mummy without boring the geeks). There will likely still be a certain amount of geek going on, but that’s just unavoidable as it’s who I am. :p

Err… I think that’s it for now. May cull further? Don’t know yet. Phew. Letting go is hard work.

So much for tumblelogging…

Aye aye aye. I go on and on about why I love Habari and how it’s going to make tumblelogging much easier, finally make it work and then… oh, don’t use it.

Now beginning to think I prefer the idea of a lifestream type social networking integrated thingy. Faddy, me? Never!

Your Questions Answered, Part Two

Ben asked: what was the very first thing that you did which got you into web development?

Neopets. Hahahaha. Yes, sad but true. I wanted as many trophies as I could get for my user lookup, and one of them was the pet page thing… I figured I could learn HTML, create an awesome pet page and get the trophy. I learned basic HTML, and from there had my own website etc. Never did get that bloody trophy though.

Hev asked: If you could change one thing in you life, either past or current, what would it be?

Ooh, tough question. I try not to have regrets, because I figure dwelling on something doesn’t change what has happened. I guess the most important thing to me at the moment is Isabel, and having seriously underestimated how much I’d want to stay at home with her for the first few years I’d thus probably change either our living situation (so that we didn’t have to pay so much rent, requiring two incomes) or the amount I’d saved (so that I could stay off for longer, living on that).

Meggan asked: What do you worry most about w/r/t returning to work?

Missing something important. Not being there to kiss Isabel better when she falls. Only being able to see her gorgeous face for a few hours a day. Nothing that mums haven’t been dealing with for years, but bother me nonetheless. :(

Your Questions Answered, Part One

So. You know you have a big case of the lazies when you procrastinate over the original procrastination thingy. Now I’m here avoiding some JavaScript which is currently eating my brains.

Vera asked: When’s the next Pants Award due?

When I find a suitable site that inspires me… bored of teenyboppers now.

Amelie asked: If there was one thing you could invent that would make parenting easier, what would it be?

I don’t know. See, I think that ‘things’ make parenting harder, not easier. Cots and chairs and toys all add pressure… when do we give this, when should we take this away, how do I introduce that without upsetting this etc etc. (I actually have a blog post about this sort of thing in the works which I will post eventually). I guess I don’t need something inventing, but there are plenty of ‘politic-y’ things that could change to make parenting easier. Maternity leave and pay, support for new mums etc. All far too boring to get into now :P

Carly asked: What’s your favourite website in the whole wide world and why?

This is really sad [pathetic] but I think I have to say twitter. I never expected to say it, ’cause I’ve always been mostly against social media forever… but it makes it so easy to talk to so many people. It’s not like facebook where you have to exchange pleasantries over boring pictures of someone’s family (esp. if they’re your own!)/pets/hobby just to be polite, you can dip in and out as much as you like. I ‘know’ so many awesome people thanks to/via twitter.

OK, that’s it for now… typing one-handed makes my wrist ache. More soon :p

Ask Me a Question

I’m procrastinating taking a break from studying… so ask me a question. Deep and meaningful, personal, web-related, whatever. Go!

I’ll answer them in a post or two over the next few days (depending on how many I get)

Confessions of a Bad Parent #1

Today I bribed Isabel with a Dorrito to stop her eating cat food off the kitchen floor.

On the Divisive Issues of Parenting

Naomi, in response to a question on why women trouble themselves with debate on divisive parenting issues:

[…] keeping women occupied with relatively trivial parenting matters which our ancestors didn’t think twice about means we don’t have time or energy to recognise our true status as women alienated from the real world, frustrated in our efforts to succeed at work, excluded from politics or other influential activities, raising the next generation of toilet cleaners and bankers whilst being told we need hv advice and surestart to stop us messing up and not a lot of thanks for it, dissatisfied in our unequal relationships, often suffering from things which society considers taboo in conversation eg miscarriage, menopause, pain or complications from childbirth…we could be quite a grumpy and dangerous group of people if we weren’t so easily distracted by parentings mags and pretty slings

First PHP Game

Remember when I talked about wanting to code some PHP games? (Yes, it was in 2008, what’s your point?) Well I finally managed to fit one in to my busy schedule last week, whilst avoiding studying for my current OU module.

Ignoring the fact that it’s talking about points (only relevant for the final ‘install’) and that there’s no graphics yet, feel free to have a play… Higher or Lower

If you manage to break it, let me know. I’d share the code but as it’s the first thing I’ve coded in months I’m not feeling particularly brave. :P

If it’s not one thing, it’s another…

So with Isabel’s nursing strike we’ve all obviously been on tenterhooks lately. Thankfully this seems to be coming to an end… after having a good rant on t’interwebs during a bad morning on Tuesday I threw her up in the sling and started to dance around singing nursery rhymes to get her to sleep. She calmed down and rested her head on my chest and it’s normally not long after this that she drops off. However, instead of carrying on, I decided to risk upsetting her all over again (as the morning couldn’t have got much worse) and so I slipped her out of the carrier and into the cradle hold; instead of screaming at me she opened her mouth to latch :D

We’ve had several good feeds since, including one initiated totally by her after my driving lesson yesterday (btw, I totally ROCK at driving). Still have some feeding issues to overcome but that’s a massive improvement.

Anyway, so we’re getting over that, and then yesterday she was showing signs of diarrhoea (red herring perhaps) and today she’s got chicken pox! There’s a good chance that the two things are related, and that the nursing strike was caused by common “prodromal” symptoms, but whhhhy me. (Emo whining, yes.)