This is my story as I stumble my way through family life

With one toddler and another new arrival on the way, this blog shares with you some of the things I see and think and also hopefully gives newer dads and dads to be some ideas based on what I did (or often, did not...) learn

Thursday, 18 August 2011



Potty training with Ol is going really well on the whole. Number ones are nailed and we just don't get accidents during the day. He even gets up at night to go on the potty despite still having a night time nappy.
There are still a few boundary issues to be sorted as he is a little too keen to show this new skill off and will drop his pants wherever he happens to be standing if you are not extremely vigilant. Stage fright is certainly not an issue with my eldest!

Number two's are a bit more hit and miss: we have had some success but this is far from a slam dunk. Ol seems to have no early warning system when one is coming and you basically get a five second window to get him on the potty or you are scraping it out of his pants (and that is not nice). At the weekend he even ended up crouching and going like the dog on our back lawn. This probably wasn't the nicest sight for the neighbours but needs must and all that!

The worst experience was this week though when the urge took Ol whilst in the bath with Josh and the inevitable happened. The world stopped as I had a no win decision to make.... Which one of the boys do I save from the floaters!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Potty training- the sequel of success

After my aborted (disastrous) attempts at potty training at Easter whilst Ol had chicken pox (probably not my best ever idea), we have had another go at getting him dry whilst it is the holidays.

Victoria has once again used the reward chart to huge success and I would like to say I have played a vital part in this process but in reality.....well, I have not.

The first two days were, as I gather,  ones which called for resilience and patience. the first of which I can do, the second of which I have none!

Today was a big marker on the road to success though; the same pants all the way through with no accidents and he even put himself on the potty twice unprompted.

I'm a very proud Daddy today!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

State school 'education' in Bournemouth

So Ollie has just turned three and all of a sudden we are in panic mode over schools.

We were planning to send him to the school attached to the church we have been going to for the last two years but it turns out there is some register you have to sign which we never knew about; to get the letter of recommendation from the vicar we will need to attaned more church services than there are weeks in the next six months......
The vicar will only use how many times you have signed this book despite their rules being that parents need to be active members of the church; two active do you want mr vicar?

So we have had a look at what other schools we could apply for. None better than satisfactory at best accoring to Ofsted and mentions of social problems etc scare the life out of me- why would we want out little one to be exposed to that? We live in Bournemouth not Beirut so what is going on?

I cannot understand why we must pay our taxes yet schools are allowed to get away with providing what appears to be sub standard education (or at least failing to create conditions for learning).

Looking at our local secondary school it seems to get even worse; judging by the kids walking to school, the uniform is trainers, hoody and a fag. Where are the standards and discipline?

Someone please tell me why I continue to pay taxes when I know that I am going to have to look at independant, private education. I am sure all those people living off my taxes and dragging down the standards of those around them will continue to enjoy this while we cut our standard of living even more in order to fund my child's education which I thought was what my taxes were for in the first place.. Grrrr

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The guilt trip

Ollie has a new weapon is his armoury designed to manipulate adults and get his own way. It is called The Guilt Trip.

As his vocabulary gets ever wider and, crucially, as he gets to understand the meanings of what he says, Ollie is coming to realise how he can deliver those words with maximum chance of evoking a reaction.

His current favourite is dropping a very poignant "I love you Daddy" halfway through a conversation. It just makes me melt an inevitably softens me up for any later times when he wants his own way with something (which often follows just after).

The other one which grips me is delivered if I haven't seen him for a couple of days when I am out early and home late and that is "I miss you Daddy". There is nothing you can say or do apart from give him a cuddle!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Chicken pox-help from the carpet cleaner.....

So the stay-cation didn't quite turn out as hoped for the day after our Paultons Park outing, Ol came down with chicken pox and the next day, guess what? Yep, Josh brokeout in the rash.

Not exactly the holiday I was hoping for, a toddler and a baby covered in spots and house bound for at least a week!

Luckily it wasn't quite as bad as it could have been and that may have been down to the alternative theories as espoused by our carpet cleaner: baths with camomile and lavender in and a daily rub down with sesame oil meant neither of the boys scratched or itches despite being covered. We didn't even have to open the calamine lotion!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Paultons Park (& Peppa Pig World)- some tips!

Our Easter break this year is a bit of a stay-cation and for one of our day out we promised Ollie a trip to the new Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park near Southampton and not too far at all from us.
Against my better judgement, we decided today was the day to visit, or rather Ol did (I thought next week might be calmer as a lot of the schools would be back but how do you tell a two year old?).

Unsurprisingly the combination of school holidays and fabulous weather meant it was seriously busy so here are a couple of quick tips for anyone thinking of visiting:

1. If you are coming from the west then leave the M27 at junction one and follow the road parallel to the motorway. Doing so will bring you to Paultons nearly as soon as leaving at J2 but crucially, you are avoiding the rest of the world who use J2 and then queue before having to turn across traffic to access the park. You howeve will avoid these and also jus turn left straight into the park (it might even be worth doing this and doubling back if coming from the east)

2. Buy your tickets on line beforehand (you can do so even on the day you want to visit). Not only do you save a couple of quid each but you ge to jump some serious queues as you have to buy a ticket before going to the gate: we wandered past the hordes of impatient kids and harrassed parents (not the way you want to start the day) and sauntered in having paid less than they were about to!

3. Do not make Peppa Pig world your first port of call. As it is new everyone does that and as a result it is rammed in the morning- go in the afternoon and it is much calmer and far more fun. There are loads of other things to keep the kids occupied in the morning in the rest of the park.

It was a good day out all said. Ollie loved it and Joh hardly slept as he had loads to see. The down side is that they don't accept Tesco Clubcard vouchers and apparently never do offers. Considering the times we live in this is a shame: Ol got in free today as he is under one metre tall but it won be long before he is not and two parents and two kids are looking at £80 before you even start on food and visits to shops etc. Whether this reticence to discount is because they don't need to with the new attraction will remain to be seen but a bit of help to parents wouldn't go amiss.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Our carpet cleaner is an alternative therapist

So, recently V has got Josh wearing beads around his neck to ward off teething pains.

I got home yesterday to find her ordering something colloidal silver which apparently is the antidote to all things.

This highly secret special formula (have you ever heard of it?) is souch a closely guarded secret that apparently it can only be dispensed by the most highly qualified medical practitioners or, in our case, the bloke who came around to fix our carpet after Ol burned a hole in it with a hair dryer!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Dads blog: The "why?" phase has started

A Dads blog: The "why?" phase has started: "Recently we have been admiring Ollie's ever expanding vocabulary In the last week or two though, the consequences of this have manifested t..."

The "why?" phase has started

Recently we have been admiring Ollie's ever expanding vocabulary

In the last week or two though, the consequences of this have manifested themselves in a whole lot more scary phase...the "Why???" phase!

Every time something happens now or every time we do something, a little voice wants to know why that is just so?
Now, there's nothing wrong with that in itself: you want your little ones to understand why things happen. The issue is that despite the fact you give them an answer, the next words uttered are always another "why?"....and then another ......

The thing you never know about this game is where and when the last "why?" will come!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Angry baby + early start = @#!...

At last Josh is over his early onset of manflu and so we are determined to get him back to sleeping through the night.

He did it on Monday night so last night V was determined that this should continue.

What she didn’t tell me was that if he woke, we were going to let him cry. So, at , Josh wakes and decides, whether out of habit or need you never quite know, that it is feeding time.

V went in to him, gave him a few soothing words, switched on seahorse (best invention ever by the way- see an earlier post) and came back to bed. Cue one very angry (not upset, definitely angry because there was clear growling among the crying) baby. Ten minutes later it was my go to see him. V pointed out that he might cotton on that I was unlikely to be able to provide him with his night time breast feed.  He did calm down, until I left the room that is…

This went on for half an hour which, upon reflection, is not pretty good because he did wear him self out and go back to sleep. He was till sound asleep when I crept out of the house this morning (as was V….). When you are in the eye of the storm however in the middle of the night you don’t think quite the same way. At least I did avoid starting a barney as the temptation was there to suggest V feeds him for a quiet life but you are wasting your time trying to sleep through it, especially when the monitor is right next to your ear so you can hear Josh live AND in dolby surround sound!

I know the mid only remembers what it wants but I can only recall Ollie sleeping through pretty early on and without any drastic measures from us.
Still, I had better steel myself because I can see this going on for a few nights yet until the habit is broken and Josh gets the message!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Where do you draw the line in getting toddlers to stand up for themselves?

Ollie came home from nursery today and said he had been pushed over.

Aside from the fact that he couldn't make his mind up whether it was a teacher(?!) or another kid, I know he shouldn't just accept it.
My dilemma is what he should do: it is all very well saying that he should tell a teacher and let them deal with it but that will only get him so far as he grows older. If he does he will be seen as a snitch, tell tale and much worse and is likely to attract more trouble if he tells every time something happens he doesn't like

BUT we can't encourage him (much as I would like to) to get him to push the other kid back again as otherwise he will become a bully

Ohh, the confusion of being a parent!!!!!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Am in trouble- baby still awake and it's my fault!

Got home tonight and took over responsibility for getting the boys into bed and dinner done so V could go swimming.

All went well to start with: milk done, stories read and lullabies (football songs) sung and Ollie's straight to sleep- tick

Josh however was not so straightforward. He decided he wasn't ready for bed and that some Daddy time was in order because he cried when in his cot and then emailed and laughed when out of it. I love the fact that he is just starting to express himself and the chuckles melt you so what could I do....

Unfortunately that meant that dinner went a bit by the wayside. Not too popular as late food and Josh out of routine. Never mind, playtime was worth it!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

No time for bedtime stories?...

I read in the paper this week that over half of parents do not have the time to read their kids a bedtime story any more.

I have got to say I find that sad if it is true, not just for the kids but for the mums and dads. I know people lead busier lives than ever before and I don't do a 9-5 job by any means but I will do my utmost to get home to read Ollie a bedtime story. I don't get to see much of him during the week as I am out of e house before he gets up but if I didn't get the twenty mins or so with him just before he goes to sleep, I feel like I would miss too much: now he is at nursery and really able to converse, this is a great time for him to tell me about his day and what he did.
We might all be busy but I want to spend that time with him and be there as he grows up as you can see a small difference every day.

My feeling is that you miss it and it is gone: that is time you will never get back.

Besides, how would I perfect my international range of accents if I didn't get to try them on all the characters in the stories each night : ollie's thinks I am a multi lingual genius!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A bloke's view on this breast feeding malarkey

So, there seems to have been much debate over the whys and wherefore’s of breast feeding this week

As a bloke, I am not really qualified to tender much of an opinion. I know it is very much a mother’s instinct and it makes sense to me that if a mum can provide milk naturally, then there must be a good reason why they have this ability in the first place.

That said, I don’t think it is something which needs to be prescriptive; if you can do it or want to do it, great. 
If not, don’t feel the pressure that some quarters seem to want to impose. If it isn’t right for you or your baby then don’t.
We live in a modern age and modern health being as it is, babies can still get a lot of what they need from a bottle.

I have seen friends and family get stressed because they want to (or feel they ought to) be breast feeding all the time to a certain age but the baby won’t feed or isn’t enjoying it or isn’t getting enough etc etc.

My advice is if it is upsetting you or your baby, get onto a bottle, stop worrying and enjoy your baby.

V fed Ollie naturally to six months but this was mix and matched with a bottle from very early on. There were a couple of big benefits from this approach:
1. I could do at least the last feed and have a bit of quiet bonding time each night
2. Giving him a bottle last thing meant he slept through from an early age
3. He still got the benefit of natural milk but you could also be practical in the day with a bottle if needs be

Result: Ol has been a healthy, happy child up to now and we have been happy, fairly unstressed parents. We are taking the same with Joshy and so far so good (fingers crossed)

So, what is the moral of this story?
Do what feels right for you and your baby and don’t always believe the hype!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Big week for Ollie....nursery school!

Ollie's first day at nursery

Big week for V and Ollie this week- a new year brought his first venture away from the safety net of home and out into the big wide world on his own for the first time as he started nursery.

I know this might not sound like huge deal to those working parents among you whose little ones have been at nursery since an early age but we have been lucky enough for V to stay at home since the boys came along and so, apart from days with the grandparents, this is the first real time that V has left Ollie to do his own thing and so it has been an emotional week for her.

At two and a half with a new baby brother taking up some of v's previously 100% Ollie focussed time in the week, he was crying out for the extra stimulation that new experiences and new friends bring but we were bit a little nervous of how things might go for him.

Unsurprisingly, as I am sure all kids do, he took it all in his stride. On his first full day without mum there (you do a taster session before with mum there- just in case...), he ran straight off and struck up conversation with another little boy and girl before attacking the climbing frame. When V said goodbye, it was very much "see ya mum" as opposed to the "don't go mummy" as I am sure everyone fears.

It is just amazing how at such a young age, kids have a real streak of independence about them which you just don't realise because all you see as a parent is your little baby!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Child Trust Fund- a minefield; any advice?

I have just received the voucher to set Josh's CTF up.

Ollie's is in a stocks and shares policy with Childrens Mutual am I am tempted to go the same way again but figure I ought to check out the options before doing so.

I started this little quest though and realised that it is a minefield. Loads of providers and no reliable review sites. The only reviews I can find around share based funds are ridiculous; people who invested two years ago and are "disappointed" that the policy is not making them money; what do they expect?

a. it is a long term investment which doesn't even become touchable until the child is 18
b. we are in challenging economic times so funds are finding dramatic returns a little challenging at the mo..

I am also wondering if I even bother with onward investment into the CTF; would I be better off investing on a more regular basis for the boys in a child's ISA or such like?

If anyone can offer me some words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sleeping Babies

Last night Josh slept through for the first time. Not bad for eight weeks old so lets see if we can repeat it.

Mind you, it mioght not have happened as when that happens you can't help but wake when you are expecting him to normally wake for his feed and have a little check to see if he is ok. You ask yourself "why hasn't he woken up?" and have to check he is still breathing, give a little poke to see if he moves.

I still do it now to Ollie so Josh had better get used to it!

ps. Wouldn't it just be sods law that Ollie was up three times in the night so we still didn't get an unbroken night.....