For the first 8 months of her ante-natal life, Hope was given the working title "Laurence", which may yet prove to be the cause of some gender confusion.
She was born at Wycombe Hospital in the small hours of Friday 13th September 2002, albeit a little ahead of schedule. Having spent a week and a half in the hospital's Special Care Baby Unit, she was allowed to make her inaugural voyage to South Hinksey.
Hope enjoys good, old-fashioned, morally dubious English fairy-tales, not least Jack and the Beanstalk. On his first attempt to re-tell the story, her father realised that he was sadly oblivious of some of the more salient aspects of the narrative, so for future reference three versions of this particular tale can be accessed here.
Hope remains curiously unable to crawl in the conventional direction (ie forward) - our highly polished wooden floors do nothing to assist this learning process. However, she can swivel through 360 degrees on her belly in professional style, and can even push herself backwards, a process which she clearly finds annoyingly counter-intuitive - if an exciting object d'art is placed in front of her, the only thing she can do is move away from it.
Spectacles are providing an especial novelty - especially mine, which are removed from my face whenever they are in easy reach. She continues to eat anything that is placed within a few inches of her mouth, and sometimes can be coaxed into "song" by my efforts on the piano. When excited or generally pleased with life, she will slap the nearest hard object repeatedly.
Crawling has been mastered - and now standing up is the real thrill. Indeed, Hope seems to spend most of her time either standing up (invariably propped up against some piece of furniture, or the side of her cot) or moaning about the fact that she can't stand up unaided. We've also been blessed with several nights of unbroken sleep - clearly she's worked out that just because it is light (at half past four) it doesn't necessarily mean that it is time to play with Mummy and Daddy. The day after Hope's first major garden crawl saw Hope's first session of applause. Yes, Hope can now clap, and does so vigorously, usually in appreciation of herself - knocking over bricks etc. Hope's favourite toy at the moment is probably the hair-dryer - we try to ensure that it is unplugged before she starts mauling it. She's also quite into eating grass, despite regular admonishments from all concerned. Indeed, her overall physical strength and tendency to fidgit means that she needs to be carefully monitored virtually all the time. Her favourite book is a lift the flap counting book starring Little Ladybird - four hoppity frogs is an especial treat. She has an endearing knack, when in bed with Mummy and Daddy (a relatively rare treat these days) of gaining our attention by punching us in the face until we wake and entertain her with witty repartee or funny noises.
At the local New Hinksey music group she has found yet another boyfriend. She has a particular delight in playing the handbells - Clare reports that the style is verging on the John Cage. Clare also reports that "active-fit" nappies (their distinctive feature appears to be a quasi-elasticated waist) are not as absorbant as nappies of the "baby-dry" variety.