Sunday 30 June 2013

"To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."

Myself and Mrs M don't argue, that's not to say we don't have raised voices during disagreements but we never fall out. The worst that happens is we might disagree on something have a mini rant and then a short quiet cooling off period before one of us starts giggling and then its all forgotten about. There's no need to take life so seriously plus i really value our relationship and would never want it in a situation where we resent each other and don't want to be in the same room. I have been known from time to time to deactivate a ticking time bomb of frustration with a bit of comedy gold.

Today's rant, like many from Mrs M was about the fact there is limited storage in our kitchen which means lots of things don't have a home. yes i know it sounds crazy but it really pushes her over the edge. It all stems from frustration and the fact that she cant just take things as what they are. I must hear 'I want a dishwasher' about ten times a week even though she knows that there's no space because we have the biggest fridge I've ever seen and an excessive sized cooker to match.

As our conversation got a little more heated I did my usual and I began to sarcastically wind her up (it's what I do). Frustrated by my sarcy comments she retaliated by giving me the finger, problem was she stuck her index finger up turning it into a much more comical gesture. Well that just gave me more ammo so we continued to disagree. It won't mean anything to anyone reading this but the disagreement came to an end because of a Pritt Stick. The whole thing made me think of a conversation we had had early in our relationship and a quick sketch I had done in a sketchbook. (I'm glad i found the sketchbook and will write a post about it next).

Before I knew it Mrs M was giggling uncontrollably and chasing me round the house, then we had a wrestle, did a lot more laughing and had a cuddle. When your in a relationship your bound to have disagreements it's inevitable, life would be boring if you agreed on everything. It's how you deal with these situations that is important. I would never take our relationship for granted, its the first great relationship i have been in and i am embracing it fully. I guess it all comes down to respect.

Yet another proud daddy moment...

Every day without fail Opeie does something that makes me so proud of him. Since starting his potty training 5 weeks ago we have not needed to go back to nappies and for the past three weeks there has been not one accident. He's used toilets wherever we have been and is always letting us know when he needs to go. Earlier while we were tidying the house i walked into the lounge and Opeie was sitting on the potty, he had taken off his shorts and pants and taken care of business himself, what an amazing little chap he is. I was dreading potty training but he has made it all look like a walk in the park.

It's great to know that he is confident enough to go himself and just shows how much more independent he is getting. Lets just hope he never gets to the point where he doesn't need us at all, I don't ever want to feel obsolete.

Well done Opeie I'm so proud of the way your growing up, your an amazing little boy.

Daddy xx

"P for pneumonia, pterodactyl and psychosis"

When we became play patrol agents for Bigjigs Toys one of the wooden toys I really hoped we would be lucky enough to review was the Chunky Alphabet Puzzle as we're teaching Opeie his letters. He's been able to say his alphabet for months but he doesn't understand which letter is which so you can imagine our excitement when we opened our recent mission and found the item inside. We took the Alphabet puzzle with us on our travels yesterday and enlisted the help of an outside agent, auntie Lottie.

I knew that Opeie would like it and its already been played with a lot. I'm really hoping that it will help his understanding of letters over the coming weeks. We've been working on Opeies colours too over the last two weeks so I was pleased to see that Bigjigs Toys had colour coded the wooden blocks to go with the spaces in the alphabet board, on the board they had also included the lower case letters in each slot which I thought was a great touch.

As much as we loved the toy there was one or should I say two issues. Not with the toy on the whole but with the letters 'K' and 'Z', both of these letters only fit one way Round which probably seems like an I significant issue but for a two year old learning his letters via a wooden puzzle it can be quite frustrating when he is expecting each piece to fit. Opeie knew that he had the right letters for the slots but they just wouldn't go in which ended up confusing for him.

Apart from this though the Chunky Alphabet Puzzle is a great toy and I wouldn't let that put me off buying something that I know would benefit Opeie's development. This item is going to become very useful as Opeie is learning and anything that keeps him motivated to learn and entertained at the same time will always be a fantastic toy in our eyes. A definite thumbs up from Gifts From the Pirates.

Saturday 29 June 2013

"Caught by the fuzz"

Yesterday on The way to school Seth came out with one of his corkers, 

Seth: whenever i put my hand up at school, briar (Seth's carpet partner) always says 'are you putting your hand up to tell on me' and I don't know what to say to him?

Me: we'll are you putting your hand up to tell him?

Seth: YES!!!

Seth is such a grass, I've never known anything like it. He's like a one man police force around school and is always running to tell the teachers when something's not right and then we get the low down when he comes out of school. One day Seth came out of school with a disgusted look on his face and proceeded to tell me how he had to go and tell on a girl because she did a cartwheel and flashed her knickers off. Things have obviously changed since i was at school as that was the sort of thing us boys would laugh about, but not our little head of school security. Seth's has also opted to be on the school council (no surprise there), I'd love to see what he's like in the meetings.

A few weeks back Seth told us that he told someone off for having chocolate in their lunch box (because the school doesn't allow it ), Seth said that the child told him to mind his own business. I laughed and said good on him. I told him I'd have said exactly the same to him when i was at school. Seth looked a little disappointed by my comment but I explained that nobody likes a tell tale, it's not a nice quality to have.

Seth is such a good, well mannered and loving child but he is so highly strung and takes the Weight of the world on his shoulders. He's so concerned about what everyone else is doing that a lot of the time I don't think he enjoys himself as much as he should for a child his age. I've always thought it but it wasn't until a few weeks ago when someone else brought it up and also pointed out that Seth unlike most children Never uncontrollably laughs (unless he's being tickled), he nearly always has a serious look on his face. 

Ill always treat Seth like he's my boy, he's my best friend but I can tell more and more each day where he gets his genes from. Opeie is definitely  more fun loving and as much as I think Mrs M will hate it he's going to be a lot like me with a laid back but rebellious nature. I really don't want Opeie highly strung too I need someone in the house on my side.

Although Seth's grassing at times can be quite entertaining I am a little concerned that if he doesn't get it out of system he's going to alienate himself and make secondary school even more difficult than it can already be. I know he is 6 and he will probably grow out of it but I see it getting worse as the weeks go by. He has a 'Seth knows best' attitude and its difficult to tell him different. I hate to say it but its exactly how i Imagine Mrs M to have been at school. (Sorry sweetie)

Last night I told Mrs M about his telling the teacher comment and for fun every time Seth did something wrong no matter how trivial or insignificant we raised our hands and grassed on him to each other. He didn't like that one bit but I'm quite sure no lesson was learned and he's probably got his arm up now telling someone off for something.

Thursday 27 June 2013

An introduction to Natural Vegan Eco Mom

In our house the food that we eat and products that we use are so important. We're really picky about what we buy when shopping. It wasn't always like this for me though. Taking care of my physical well being definitely took a back seat and going out, partying and generally living a care free life took president. It's amazing though how dramatically things can change. Although I have always been a good eater when it came to fruit and veg, years ago i would (as much as it sickens me to say it now) frequent KFC more than I would have liked (gross I know). 

Back in 2010, Mrs M while pregnant became really ill and it changed our opinions about food and pushed us into making some dramatic lifestyle changes. It wasn't just about what we were eating but also about where it came from and it's life before reaching our mouths. To many it probably sounds insane but with pesticides and other chemicals on the supermarket veg, unnatural sweeteners in food and just the general unnecessary rubbish that is put into food for preservation you've got to eventually start to wonder what it is doing to our bodies. I for one want to live a long and fruitful life and to do that these changes needed to be made.

Our diet isn't to most people's taste, we know that from the reaction we get when it's talked about but it has been the necessary element firstly for our weight loss (which will be in a post I have written and will publish soon) but also for having the best possible lifestyle for us and the boys. Eating this way has given us all the extra energy and motivation that was needed for us to fully take advantage of our time together.

I know that eating healthy can come at a higher financial cost, especially if like us you also eat as much organic produce that is available but there are so many more benefits. With the ridiculous GMO foods scenario looming over us in the UK and the pressure for the country to get on board this seems like it was the best time for us as a family to make this change. This post isn't supposed to be healthy living shoved in your face like many, (not all) of the vegan sites that are out there, promoting how amazing they are as a person for being a vegan. I'm not concerned with what other people eat apart from the people who are closest to me and anyone that asks, But as the blog is written for my boys it's an insight into why sometimes we say 'we would rather you didn't eat those sweets' or we offer the boys a healthy alternative to something that to them seems harmless to eat. They will understand when they are older why we don't allow them to have McDonald's or most processed foods and I think they will appreciate the effort we (especially Mrs M) go to to prepare their daily meals. 

Which brings me to the main reason for this post, i thought that a post about food would be a perfect introduction. If healthy living is something that interests you or like us you or a family member suffer with food allergies then Natural Vegan Eco Mom (written by my beautiful wife to be) is a must read for spicing up what could possibly be a boring diet. I know that without her cooking flair or crazy food prep knowledge I wouldn't have shifted the weight I have. Having a stash of her homemade healthy peanut butter cups has been motivation enough to keep me eating well knowing that there is a chocolatey treat waiting for me as a reward for my healthy eating throughout the day. To have a mooch through some great recipe's Please click on THIS LINK .

Thanks for reading xx

Wednesday 26 June 2013

And this little piggy went "wee wee wee" all the way to the Playbarn

We had a great time this morning, since going to the soft play area by us last week Opeie has been saying 'ball pit' everyday. I wasn't really impressed by the cleanliness of the place so again I was a bit wary about going to another one. Opeie was desperate to go again though so (hand sanitiser and antiseptic wipes in hand) I decided to take him to one that we had spotted when taking Seth to his weekend Tae Kwon Do classes. It's a little off the beaten track but I was hoping it would be the soft play area that would restore my faith in clean indoor play for children. As soon as I had walked through the doors I knew that it had. The play area I'm talking about is Pigg's Playbarn which is situated near Bridgnorth at the Apley farm shop. Everywhere is clean, looks new and the staff are very friendly. There was no stale smell (which seems to be a reoccurring thing with indoor play areas) and the pads on the play area were the colour they were supposed to be (rather than a dirty brown colour).

Although I personally wouldn't do it because I love joining in with the boys, what I love about Pigg's playbarn is its the sort of play area you could let toddlers go in alone (while bigger children are at school of course). Opeie loved running about and found getting to the upper levels easy to get too. Now that Opeie seems confident with when he needs to loo I'm trying to get him out as much as I can as myself and Mrs M have been concerned that he has not had much time to interact with other children. We needn't have worried though as the way he acted today made me so proud of him, he has such great manners. He accidentally knocked a little girl over and immediately said sorry, got out of one of the little tikes cars to let an eager looking boy have a go (great sharing) and when a little girl snatched something off him he politely said 'bless you' ( I like to think that was his own first sarcastic 'excuse you' but ill teach him all about that soon haha. He also made a little friend called Talia (which being the geek that i am made me think of Talia al Ghul) and they played really nicely together. Opeie's such a loving little boy.

With another two successful toilet trips in the bag I think it's safe to say he's really starting to get the hang of knowing when he needs to go and its great that he is confidently using toilets out and about. I still can't believe how lucky we've been. It was great to see Opeie mixing with other children and I even got to have some adult conversation (which doesn't happen a lot these days) With some moms although we were talking about breast feeding and potty training. Overall I was really impressed with Pigg's Playbarn and we will definitely be going again at some point next week. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that's in the area.

 By the time we got home the little man was shattered so it was straight to bed for him. Id be lying if i said i didn't drop off myself for 5 minutes, oops.

Monday 24 June 2013

"All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watchin' the puddles gather rain"

 The weather is really starting to get on my nerves, we all want to be out and about doing things in the sunshine but the great British weather clearly has other ideas. I was hoping we would be out having a nice picnic somewhere this weekend but sadly poor Opeie has had to settle for an indoor picnic. He doesn't seem all that concerned about it though and it does mean he gets all his toys to play with while he eats.

The garden needed tidying up yesterday and i ended up cutting the grass in the pouring rain, grim!! If it continues like this i think our plans of camping in the school holiday will be shattered but I'm going to stay positive, it cant stay like this all summer... Can it?

Sunday 23 June 2013

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

A few days back I wrote a post about building an indestructible toddler friendly iPhone case out of Lego. After going through a few high end covers (which were not cheap) I decided to give Lego a try, Lego being the answer to all my problems. It turned out great but has received mixed reviews. Negative comments usually being about the bulkyness of it. I obviously love it but decided a couple of nights ago that maybe it just wasn't eccentric enough. That night was one of those nights where I didn't have much to do, so while Mrs M tried to relax after a day of work I subjected her to the sound she hates most, as she put in a Facebook status update that night "Ah.... You know what sound I find most relaxing ? A thirty-something man rummaging through a pile of Lego last thing at night - bliss".

I'm a huge Dr. Seuss fan so building a Seuss themed Lego phone cover seemed like a good idea. I did say eccentric and it did need to fit my obscure personality. The basic shape was easy to build after making the last one so it took a lot less time to build. Mrs M looked puzzled wondering what I was doing but she's used to my evening Lego tinkering by now. I attempted to make the cats face but it didn't look right so I settled for an oversized hat to act as a partial screen protector for my new comical accessory. I added a spinning bow tie to the iphone cable cover which i thought gave a great effect.

Obviously all ports were easily accessible it would have been useless otherwise. I finished it off with a photo using the cat in the hat photo app which i already had on the phone (surprise surprise). If your reading this and you are interested in how the basic shape is made send me a message and i will happily do my best to make a tutorial.

Thursday 20 June 2013

"Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom."

The weather was awful this morning and after dropping Mrs M and Seth off we headed home. At Opeie's request we got back in to bed with a big stack of books (Opeie's favourite place). We ploughed through about 15 books and then had a snack. Opeie was clearly getting a bit bored and was desperate to leave the house. He started doing his little awkward dance and told me he needed a pooh (which means a wee), but decided to take care of both parts of his business at once (this is the first time he's done this, it's usually one or the other). Well on that note and feeling confident that he wasn't going to go for a while I thought we'd try and go out to make the most of his early toilet routine sorted.

We headed to the padded play area not far from ours. This is only the third time I've taken him, he loves going but both myself and Mrs M have issues with how clean these places are, but me and Opeie have been at home for the last three weeks though, not venturing out to far while he's potty training and i think we were both going a little stir crazy.

It may seem like this is turning Into another one of my recent potty training updates but I wanted to talk about soft play area politics, I mean what are the rules? Opeie was having a whale of a time running about and squealing excitably but the more excited he got the more children came over to see what was going on. To the point where we had about 7 children joining in with our game. Is this alright? I'm wary about taking pictures of Opeie while we're in there for obvious reasons but what are the rules with engaging with other people's children? I did keep looking into the seated area to see if I may have been upsetting any parents but nearly every one of them was sitting Staring at a mobile phone oblivious to what their children were actually doing. So I just carried on, Opeie was having a great time and I think the other children were happy getting some attention from an adult.

I'm always going to be the sort of dad that gets involved in everything they do and i always go in to play areas with them, especially Opeie for safety reasons. A couple of the children were smaller than Opeie and in there alone (am i part of a minority that thinks this isn't right?). Any way i got buried in balls, climbed on, wrestled and one girl even gave me a hug but being so paranoid about upsetting anyone i froze and it was really awkward. Should i have any reason to feel bad if their parents arnt making the effort?

Opeie loved every moment of it and i think its important for him to see me being friendly to other children as ignoring them sends the wrong signals and i want him to feel like he can approach other kids while were at these places. So why did i feel a little awkward is it just because of the way society is or is this a feeling that has been caused by the media etc? I'm not going to change, obviously. I'm just putting the thoughts and frustrations out there...

"Adventure is worthwhile."

When i was younger i used to love going about my day with a bag full of 'stuff', whether it was a back pack full of my home made Goonies style gadgets or a bumbag crammed with general items to aid my advantages (it was the 80's don't judge me). I'm really not sure why i needed these bags of items but most days before playing out with my friends i could be found packing my essentials. 

Last night Mrs M sent me a link to a Buzz Lightyear back pack for Opeie (as he's loving Buzz at the moment) and it reminded me or my adventure days so this morning after dropping the troops where they needed to be me and the boy headed out looking for said bag. 

It didn't take us long to find it and Opeie couldn't wait to fill it with toys and get it on, Although people have said it many times, today was the first time i really saw a lot of myself in Opeie. After lunch and before picking Seth up we headed over to the park and Opeie couldn't wait to take his new accessory on a proper test drive.

I love going to the park, Its a great way to fill an hour here or there and it always makes Opeie so happy, it helped that the weather was great today so we were there for a good hour. Opeie didn't actually take any of the toys from his bag but it was cute that he kept it on most of the time at the park. Ill teach him him how to pack an adventure bag over the coming years though ready for many a day out.

Monday 17 June 2013

Building an indestructible child friendly phone case from Lego wasn't as easy as i thought.

I seem to go through phone cases like their going out of fashion ( I know I even surprised myself with how boring this post started off but stick with me). The boys always manage to tear the silicone parts or I just destroy them being to heavy handed. After breaking my current one two weeks ago I vowed never to buy another one. A few days back while playing Lego with Opeie I thought 'I wonder if I could make one out of Lego?'. I Googled it to check out my competition and found a load of basic Lego boxes with an iPhone shoved In them, I could do better than that... Couldn't i?

It took me a day of tinkering on and off and a late night but I ended up impressing myself with the outcome even if Ms M thought it was hilarious.

It was never going to be slimline but it ended up looking a lot less bulky than other attempts I have seen on the net. It does resemble a yellow brick but after gluing all the pieces together it has turned out to be the best toddler friendly phone I have seen and is virtually indestructible (just what I need having a child that 'hulk smashes' everything in his path). I'd love to say it was easy to make but having to rummage through many large boxes of Lego for single tiny parts was a ball ache.

My phone goes missing a lot and is always found dead (thanks Mrs M), but this cover acts as a detergent because she now doesn't want to use it. It isn't just a Lego box though you can get at every button and port needed with Lego doors that open (I know, genius right?). It took some time but I also built it with the bricks facing up all the way round so that it can be personalised day by day to suit my mood. Today's design... A space invaders alien (retro).

Seth thought it was absolutely amazing and has commissioned me to make one for his DS (not sure how that will turn out though). The boys love building on it too, yesterday Seth transformed it in to a car with mini figures driving it. People in the street are probably wondering what I have stuck to the side of my head but I think it compliments my eccentric personality. Mrs M can't believe I'm using it and says it looks like its from the early 90's, I just see that as a compliment. I think I might attempt a working clock for the house next but we'll see.

Also check out my Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Lego iphone cover.