2009 in review

The year started well and had some high points, but overall had some stress I could have lived without.

  1. SXSW Interactive festival
  2. “Thing 2”: our second baby boy
  3. House flood
  4. Mum diagnosed with breast cancer
  5. September spent traveling for work

SXSW Interactive festival

This was my third year at SXSWi with Clearleft, and my first large (1,300 people) public speaking experience. While I wasn't fond of the nerves beforehand, I really enjoyed the presentation and the great feedback from the audience. If you were there, thanks for laughing in all the right places! You can read more in the SXSW round-up I posted at the time.

“Thing 2”: our second baby boy

My wife spent the first half of the year (and the last few months of 2008) pregnant with our second child. We planned for a home birth, and in the lead-up we once again went to hypnobirthing classes to learn relaxation techniques to ease the birthing process. Relly also planned on having a natural birth this time after having had an emergency caesarian with our first little boy.

Two out of three isn't bad! Although we unfortunately had to be at the hospital for the birth, it was a natural birth and Relly used the hypnobirthing techniques to reduce the perception of pain to what she assures me was a mere discomfort, allowing her to give birth with no medical pain relief. Go her!

You can keep up with the adventures of our two boys, aka Thing 1 and Thing 2, on their tumblelog, The Daily Things.

So, our beautiful, smiley Thing 2 was born in early June, just 4 weeks before…

House flood

The rain fell in torrents, and filled the ground floor of our rented property to a depth of three inches with "black water" (insurance-company speak for drain water potentially contaminated with sewage). Not good, since that's where our living room was, including most of the kids toys. Relly took Toby out of nursery and immediately relocated with both him and Casper to her parents place 75 miles away, whilst I stayed to clear up the mess. Luckily, the insurance company replaced about £9,000 of our stuff, and within a month we were able to move out and to a new rented house rather than wait up to four months for the place to be professionally dried out.

Whilst I was separated from my young family and stressing about the whole situation, at least I had the benefit of many good nights' sleep and the freedom to socialise. The scenario for Relly was far more bleak, and she was a trooper to get through with her sanity only lightly tattered.

Mum diagnosed with breast cancer

For the second half of the year, my mum was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This reduces the immunity to infection, so there was a period when she was unable to see her grandchildren (including newborn grandson), because toddlers bring home all sorts of germs from nursery which are good for them, but wouldn't have been so great for her.

She has now completed her treatment and is under regular assessment at the hospital, but thankfully looks to be recovering well.

My sister Michelle and I will be taking part in the London Moonwalk to fundraise for the Walk the Walk breast cancer charity. Please consider donating to the cause through Just Giving if you can:

September spent traveling for work

As if enforced single-parenting during July wasn't enough for Relly, I'd already arranged to be spending much of September busy or away from home. I had a great time — just don't tell her!

During the first week I had several long days at work, as Clearleft hosted the fifth annual dConstruct web conference. An awesome event as always, and I was pleased to be able to attend in full, as I'd missed the first UX London conference earlier in the year when it clashed with a certain trip to the hospital.

I spent the second week in Oslo, keynoting at the Webdagene conference. I had a great first visit to Norway and enjoyed meeting some lovely people, not least my hosts, Netlife Research.

The third week was spent in Leeds, where I was presenting a talk and a workshop on the Future of Web Design tour. Carsonified had put us up in a lovely hotel, where Colly and I were astounded by the magnificence of our rooms (I think mine just pipped his to the post, with its stained glass dome ceiling!).

Later in the year I went on to reprise the same presentation at a private booking with eBay in London.

My final trip during September was to Washington DC with my good friend and colleague Richard Rutter, for a kickoff meeting and the first few days of a client project. The site we were redesigning was Razoo.com, a fundraising site which is revolutionising philanthropy in the USA. The main part of the site has yet to launch, but the redesigned homepage for the launch of their GiveMN.org site is live, and helped them raise over $14 million for good causes in it's first day alone!

While we were there we made time to walk past the White House and up the National Mall to Congress, give a presentation at Refresh DC, and eat delicious steak at Morton's Steak House. I had fun in the brief time we had in DC and would love to go back one day.

So, an eventful year which I'm glad is over. So far, 2010 is looking quite interesting. We'll see how it goes from here.