The MacBook is Dead, Long Live the MacBook (And a Cautionary Back-up Tale)

My faithful 15 inch MacBook Pro has surpassed all records for laptop longevity. I bought it seven years ago, as a treat to myself shortly after I began earning a decent amount of money and learned what it was like to be able to buy something you want rather than need – a novelty after six years as a student and a further year in an NHS training position. At the time, it didn’t really cross my mind that it would be a good investment. I was just pleased that it was partially tax deductible as I used it for some work purposes.

But seven years on, and having schlepped it up and down the country and twice all the way to California, I can honestly say it is some of the best money I have ever spent. At approximately £1500, it works out at just over £200 per year. Which compares favourably with the cheaper laptops my husband uses (he’s a Linux hippy) but which never last more than two years.

But the weekend before last, in the middle of attempting to create a photo collage, it died a very sudden death. The only warning was the fact that I was unable to create a new Folder in Finder, nor pull a new-that-day photo from our server whilst the previous day’s pictures could be happily edited. It turns out I was working from cache, because when I tried to restart to solve the no-new-folder problem, nothing happened. I got a blank white screen. We tried Safe mode and fscking, plus a few other internet suggested options. With hindsight, I probably should not have tried repeatedly to restart it, but instead popped it straight in a plastic bag in the freezer, for the best chance to later extract some data.

Yes. That.

I’d like to say that I haven’t lost a shred of data in what appears to have been a fatal head crash. But it turns out that my back up process was not really robust enough at all.

I’d like to blame my husband, the tech-geek, for over complicating things, but the truth of the matter is that my back ups are my responsibility and the foolish mistake I made was having a partially manual back up process that relied on my memory to carry out.

Learn from my mistake.

We’ve not lost any photos, as these are all stored on our servers (I’m not kidding when I say my husband is a geek – he’s a software engineer and runs his own servers, including the hosting for my blog. We don’t spend as much on heating our house as a result of all of his hardware, but it’s pretty unbearable in this hot weather!) The servers have mirrored disks, and are backed up offsite via Amazon S3. In addition, we archive a lot of our Compact Flash cards, so we have at least four copies of every picture across two locations (and in practice Amazon stores data across at least three locations itself). That is back up as it should be done.

What I’ve lost is some recent photo edits, as I’d got in to the (bad) habit of keeping the edits only on my local drive. It’s not a huge problem, as most of those edits have been used online, so I still have the final web-ready versions, and the other edits are easily repeatable. More critically I’ve lost some writing which hadn’t been backed up as it was a while since I’d remembered to carry out the manual process.

It’s nothing catastrophic. I just have that awful sinking feeling of not being able to remember exactly what I’ve lost (well, duh!). I know it’s not a huge amount, and none of of critical importance, but it’s still a wake up call.

I agonised for a few days about what to do about replacing my trusty MacBook. In order to restore all the back ups I do have, I really need to stick with a Mac. And I have no reason to change. I wanted to buy a new one straight away, as I struggle to blog from my iPad – and especially struggle to do anything with photos. But it’s a lot of cash to cough up without warning. It meant dipping in to the “contingency fund” which is really meant for emergencies like the boiler needing replacing, or the roof coming off the house.

Whilst still working out what to buy and when, I did quickly make decisions about my future back up policies. No more having to remember to save files over to the server to get them backed up. All my photo edits will automatically be saved alongside the originals, and my whole local hard drive will also automatically copy to the server. lessons have been learned.

As for the replacement? As a result all the extra work I’ve done the last couple of months, I’ve been able to order a new 15 inch MacBook Pro. I just hope this one serves me half as well as it’s predecessor!

Age Gap Obsession

Yes, I’m writing about this topic again. I’m acutely aware of the fact that I must be getting boring now. I’ll be honest that this text-only post has partly come about because my seven year old MacBook has (finally!) suffered a fatal head crash, taking all my photo editing capabilities with it. But I’ve chosen to write about it again because it is something that is so front-of-mind. Mentioning it so frequently here reflects just how often the thoughts of a sibling for Thomas enter my mind. Pregnancy, or rather the lack of it, and the potential age gap between children is something that pops unbidden in to my head countless times each day. Obsession is certainly not too strong a word.Try as I might, I can’t shut it off.

I thought a holiday might help. Break from routine. Take your mind off it. That sort of thing. But then our week away started with disappointment in the shape of a negative pregnancy test, followed fairly swiftly by the arrival of my period. (Come on, you’re used to the TMI in the “trying to conceive” posts by now!) Having taken the so-called “relaxed approach” last month – not tracking ovulation or temperatures, no supplements beyond my standard high dose folic acid – I think I carried it on pretty well and handled it better than the month before. I didn’t cry, so that’s progress.

And then came the news in the middle of the week that an NCT friend, whose son is just days younger than Thomas, is twelve weeks pregnant due on, of all days, my birthday. And then, I did cry. It’s nothing against her, or anyone else who achieves the pregnancy I so desire, because as I’ve pointed out before, it’s impossible to know what struggles others have already faced in order to get there. But I can’t help, or easily suppress, the envy I feel at the situation. Especially the lovely two year age gap.

That’s the bottom line: It’s the age gap that’s really getting me. I don’t feel envious of pregnancy per se, but more the families that those pregnancies will create. I can’t clearly articulate exactly why I feel the way I do about the age gap. Ian thinks I’m simply trying to recreate my own childhood (21 month gap) and perhaps that is true. I can’t help but feel a larger gap is less desirable because they will be less likely to have any common ground at each stage of childhood. Less likely to enjoy shared activities. To be friends. I know that you can’t know how things will turn out or how the personalities of the children will work out, but I want to give the best opportunity I can for my children to be good friends. I look at how much common ground Thomas shares with his cousin, who is older by two years and two months, and then look at the common ground the same cousin has with her sister who is younger by two years and ten months. Those eight months make a massive difference.

It seems at the moment that everywhere I look, there are women with young babies or toddlers who are pregnant again. Or families with children who are clearly close in age. And all this does is fuel my obsession. I can’t help my childish reaction that “it isn’t fair”. I think that each time someone who has been trying for less time gets pregnant. Or each time someone with a child younger than Thomas gets pregnant. And each month that passes I think I’m mourning just a little bit the passing of the dream for my family.

It’s something I cannot, of course, control. I can’t pause time, or Thomas. The longer it takes to fall pregnant, the older he will be when a sibling arrives and I have to accept that what will be, will be.

None of this means I will love Thomas’s eventual sibling, or our whole family any less. I’m sure that I won’t. But it’s hard not to dwell on it. Not to wonder how it will work out. Not to fear that a sibling arriving when Thomas is older will be harder and more disruptive for him that if they were arriving this month or next, as I would most have liked.

I don’t think I’m capable of not obsessing about it or thinking about it each and every day. I don’t think I’m capable of not getting upset by friends’ new pregnancies, no matter how irrational my feelings may be. In the meantime, unless anyone has any magical solutions for dealing with my envy and age gap anxiety, all we can do is keep trying, and hope that it happens soon.


Boy laughing on bed

Dear Thomas

I’m a little late in writing to you for your twentieth month, as we’ve been away on holiday – your second “proper” holiday. I’ve been too busy enjoying the beach, ferries and railways, aquariums and farms with you to think about the fact that another month has crept by. But is has, and you continue to grow and change at a frightening speed.

Thomas on the beach

Sunnies and tongue sticking out in the car seat

You’re still an absolute chatterbox. We continue to hear new words, and now new phrases, almost every day. You’ve begun to say more two word phrases, like “car key” and “big car”, but your favourite phrase remains “oh dear”. We are trying to teach you that you cannot say “oh dear” when it isn’t an accident. If you deliberately throw something on the floor, “oh dear” is not really the most appropriate response. But you haven’t mastered “I’m sorry, I won’t do that again”. And I’m not holding my breath that will come anytime soon! In the meantime we are quite used to the constant stream of “oh dears” in your life.

You also now consistently call me “Mummy”, which just melts my heart. For a long time I had no specific word, then we had “mama” for a short while, and most recently “meeeeeee”. But finally this month you’ve settled on “Mummeeeee”. I’m so happy to be your mummy, and to hear you calling for me by that name when you want me specifically.

This month you have been utterly obsessed with dogs, cars, buses and bins. Everywhere we go you shout out “dog” and “bus” and the vast majority of the time you are right. It still amazes me that you can recognise such an array of different looking animals as all being dogs. You are pretty fearless and will happily go up to meet them, shouting “hello” loudly as you try to pet them. (You weren’t so convinced about the seaside donkeys, mind you, but sheep are a big hit and you even kissed one before we could stop you on a recent farm visit!) I’m not sure how your bin obsession started, but whenever you finish with some food, or a wipe or tissue, you exclaim “all done” followed by “bin”, and will then seek out a bin to put your rubbish in to. You will happily scuttle back and forth to the bin for as long as we keep finding you rubbish to put in to it. The amount of joy it gives you is amazing. You certainly seem like a clean and tidy nut and I still have no idea where you get that from!

Putting everything in to the bin

You have lots of other crazy habits too, like your demand to press the “ding dong” (doorbell) every time we enter or leave the house, and the way you mutter “pourpourpourpourpourpourpour” under you breath as you pour pretend tea from a teapot, or real water from a bucket. You’re still a real wriggle pants too, never sitting still for more than a few moments.

As your language has developed, so has your skill for expressing your feelings, opinions and wishes. You make it clear when you’re done with something by stating “all done”, and equally when you want more – we hear “more milk” and “more gogurt” quite a bit. You have opinions on the books you want to read – mostly saying “no” to our suggestions if you don’t like them, but you ask for Spot the dog by name. You also have opinions on what you want to wear, refusing point blank to have shoes put on that you don’t fancy. It seems you’re becoming stubborn just like me! In fact, we hear the word “no” more than almost any other (“oh dear” is perhaps the exception). Some days it feels like the answer is always “no”, no matter what the question.

You’ve been funny about food this month, mostly preferring to eat snacks than real meals. Your favourite foods at the moment are definitely sausages, peas and biscuits, and you’d live on just those if you could. Oh, and ice cream and chocolate of course! I’m no longer too concerned about giving you food that is too hot, as identifying hot things is another new found skill. You touch your food cautiously before eating and declare “hot” before blowing on its you’ve so often watched mummy and daddy do. Which serves to remind me what a little sponge you are, taking in what we do and imitating it.

Staeling the chocolate flake from my ice cream

I only wish that you would imitate our ability to sleep a little more closely, as it’s been a challenging month on that front with nap refusals, early waking and middle of the night screaming sessions. I still love you just as much as ever though, even in the wee small hours when we should all be sleeping. Sometimes when I carry you in to our bed and you smoosh your tear stained face against mine, I remember what a tiny boy you used to be, and realise how big you are getting. It’s nice to still be needed for those cuddles when you spend so much of your day pushing me away because you want to do everything yourself.

When you’re older, you will roll your eyes and me and tell me that I’m embarrassing, but you will always be my little boy, no matter how much you grow and learn. And I will always love you.

Mummy xxx

Little boys like to pick their noses

Cool dude pushing pushchair

Milk time

toy broom in the playhouse

Drawing on floor

Bouncy Castles and Barbecues

This weekend we went to my work summer barbecue. Thomas was the youngest child there, but that didn’t hold him back at all. He had his first experience of a full sized bouncy castle, and whilst he was a bit unsure to begin with, he ended up jumping with joy!

Bouncy castle with daddy

First time buncy castle

Finding feet on bouncy castle

He had lots of fun with “BUBBLE” and trying to learn to blow them himself

Blowing bubbles with daddy

Bubble joy

Learning to blow bubbles

He had lots of fun making noise with the “Boom Bats”. And notice that T-shirt? Apt for a dentist’s son, don’t you think?

Banging the boom bats

When it came to the food, despite having eaten lunch before we set off for the mid afternoon event, he couldn’t stop stuffing his face. I took a sausage on to a plate to cut open and cool down for him, not noticing him worming his way between the people at the food table until he emerged with a sausage of his own which he stuffed straight in to his mouth whole! My boy absolutely loves sausages.

Enjoying a yummy sausage

Enjoying a delicious sausage

And he also loved the ice cream during down time from his bouncing.

Enjoying ice cream by the bouncy castle

In pre-baby days we would have enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the sun, drinking a few beers and staying on in to the evening. Things have changed now, as we don’t get a moment’s rest whilst he charges around, and then we leave early to put him to bed. But watching him exploring new places, new people and new activities, throwing himself in to them with his whole soul and lighting up with joy when he’s having fun – it’s completely magical.

I’m joining this post up with Magic Moments over at The Oliver’s Madhouse