Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"Sound the Octo-Alert!"


I've not really mentioned it on the blog before but Opeie is a huge Octonauts fan. There has been many a night before bed where me and Mrs M have been desperately looking for his Dashy teddy and the search for his missing Kwazii, that disappeared some time ago continues.

It's been a long time since we have run a competition on the blog so we are very excited to announce we have teamed up with The Octonauts Live theatre show And we have a family ticket to give away!



In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

 Opeie is counting down the days for this to come to a place near us and after going to the Ben and Holly show last year I'm really looking forward to it too. Who is your favorite character ?


This brand new UK tour is now on the road until July 2015 and we have 1 family ticket up for grabs at the venue of your choice, subject to availability. (A family ticket is for 4 people, minimum 1 adult. The tickets are non-transferable. No cash alternatives, accommodation or travel are provided in this competition.)  For further show information and tour dates: http://www.octonautslive.co.uk/

To enter please submit your answer to the question below on our Facebook wall, together with your performance and venue choice. Click here to find out dates and venues.

 Q: What is is the name of the Octonauts ship?

Octo1
The Octopod
The Sea Snail

‘Like’ Our Facebook page , where the winner will be announced.

This exciting competition closes on Halloween (31st October)

Good luck to everyone, we would love to see your Octonauts photos on our  Facebook page, so get sharing!




Sunday, 28 September 2014

"If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts."


Being a parent to two boys it's crazy how sometimes the little daily tasks that you do can become a big issue. Today I was reminded that I take these things for granted, take having a pooh for example. I don't mean to be so blunt but it paints a picture. Laura was working in London today and me and the boys went to Madam Tussauds and then spent some time adventuring on the tube. We popped back at lunch time to meet Mrs M and grab some suitable food for Mr Allergy as she was at a vegan show.

Mrs M queued for almost an hour for the food and when it arrived i wasn't sure what it was and Mrs M looked as confused as i was as she took her first bite. It was repulsive! (I'm kicking myself now for not taking a photo), Seth enjoyed what he had which was lucky but i was really hungry, it was healthy and so I just ate it anyway. Mrs M found it so horrible that she got our money back, go Mrs M. After lunch (if that's what you can call it) Mrs M went back to work and we hopped on a train to continue our adventuring. This was when some very odd noises began emanating from my stomach, uh oh.


Within 20 minutes I was in agony and would have been doubled up had it not been for the fact that Opeie was sitting on my knee while I also held the pushchair against the Side of my chair with my foot. The train was packed and honestly I feared the worse (a complete loss of my bodily functions). Thankfully we made it off the train accident free. 

Have you ever tried to squeeze into a public toilet cubicle with two children with a really upset stomach? No? me neither and today wasn't going to be my first attempt. I'm sure there are many parents out there that have done it but I like privacy during this very private time and I didn't need two spectators that would have been practically on top of me taking it all in. That sort of image could stay with them forever. It was touch and go for the next hour, jumping from train to tube to train, carrying a pushchair up and down the stairs and making sure the boys were okay but we made it through. In the end we found a slanted ramp like wall and we sat there chatting until the pain had passed. It's amazing the things you sacrifice sometimes as a parent (not that the boys would ever know) and it made me realise how much I take Mrs M being there for granted sometimes.


Sacrifices were made and it was a lucky escape but maybe I won't be so fortunate next time.



Friday, 26 September 2014

"This is Major Tom to Ground Control I'm stepping through the door And I'm floating in a most peculiar way And the stars look very different today."


It's been a year since our good friend Chris' Muppets birthday party and this year he threw a couple of ideas our way for how he would like to celebrate his birthday with us. The space centre in Leicester was the place that stuck out straight away and as always we were excited about spending time with him and the lovely Katie. We did our usual 'Lets meet at 10' followed by 'shall we make that 11?' followed by 'better say 11:30 just to be on the safe side'. These sort of things never go smoothly with children. Surprise Surprise though Chris and Katie (with no child baggage) did their usual and managed to arrive after us. Tut tut guys!

The drive down went a lot quicker than I expected and i only took a couple of short wrong turns so a smooth journey which was great. When we arrived we made our way in and waited for the slackers to arrive...


As we entered the building the geek in me said "i bet they sell LEGO in the gift shop" and i was so right, LEGO is everywhere, attempting world domination.


Now ill be honest i love the whole Sci-Fi side of this sort of thing but I'm one of those wierdo's that is sceptical about the moon landing, actually there are no reservations, i don't believe it happened. Never the less it was an interesting place to visit (the space center that is, not the moon).


There are loads of mini activities to do while you are there, knobs to turn and levers to pull which was great for the boys. Its a real interactive experience. Seth even got to read the weather and then watch himself on TV which i thought was great. What made me chuckle though was Seth reading the autocue "Hello I'm (your name)"... so cute.



My favourite part of the visit was the Planetarium, we had visited the one at Think tank in Birmingham a few months back and i wasn't impressed but this one was amazing and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. After the show though it was back to the other space themed activities. After taking part in a test it turns out that apparently space travel wouldn't make me nautious (handy to know), but I'm not sure i could stomach space cuisine for a long period of time (I'd love to try it though).


I was really excited about including our friend Katie in the post more and i'm kicking myself for not taking the camera with us and relying on my phone because a lot of the pictures turned out blurry, nightmare. Towards the end of the visit we made our way to the big glass lift, It was clear as soon as she saw it that because of her fear of heights Mrs M would not be joining us for that part of the fun so we headed up without her


The upper levels were like a time capsule of cool stuff and information, there was a time line including two of our favourite things, LEGO and Marvel, Guess who with Astronauts and Opeie got to make a few calls from a vintage lounge, of course as always, when Opeie is making a phone call its always to nanny Roo.


Before we knew it it was almost closing time. The time flew by and we had loads of fun, Although it isnt advertised clearly inside, what i did think was great is that when purchasing tickets if you are a tax payer and go for the Gift Aid option they sticker your ticket so that it becomes a free years pass. Definitely worth the visit for that alone.


Happy birthday Bromance, as always we had an awesome day with you and we look forward to seeing you again soon xx




"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."



Being a Play Patrol Agent is so much fun, Our monthly packages from Bigjigs Toys have been so exciting for the boys and it has been great to write for a company that we are so passionate about. This months package has by far been our favourite since last year and had Opeie running about the house squealing with joy. Our two little agents love role play, especially play food so the products we were sent were spot on and gave us the perfect excuse to open Opeie's Diner for business...


For breakfast this morning our little chef prepared a delicious looking pizza, i really should be watching the carbs but what the hell (how many calories are in wood anyway?). The Bigjigs Cutting Pizza is great for roleplay and we loved how all the toppings can be removed. The toppings and the six slices are attached by velcro, perfect as it means there is less chance of losing all the pieces (Clever Bigjigs).


With the pizza looking like a culinary triumph it was time to heat the oven ready for baking. Opeie takes his food preparation very seriously and wouldn't let me help at all. I just got the brush off followed by "i can do it daddy".


Opeie cooks pizza quicker than any I've ever tried to bake and it was ready for consumption within around 45 seconds, then it was out of the oven and time to dish up. Off subject completely, I found that while playing, the Pizza was great for teaching Opeie about dividing things equally and counting. Time to eat and my tummy was rumbling and it smelled delicious. The pizza also comes with the wheeled cutter which our little role playing chef really enjoyed using, slicing up our breakfast ready to be served...


 With great quality wooden pieces and bright vibrant colours it is everything you would expect from a company that really seems to know what children want. Plus the pizza was very tasty....erm you seem to have a little on your face there Opeie!


I thought that may be the end of our breakfast but our little Secret agent/Chef in the making had more food to prepare using the Bigjigs Toys Food in a net, Like i said before the boys cant get enough of play food and i love watching the boys come up with their (sometimes crazy) scenarios, he loves preparing meals for me. The set has a great selection of bread, eggs, fish, cooked meats (well quorn in our house) and chocolate which i thought was the one item that didn't really fit but was probably Opeie's favourite piece. It was interesting when Opeie asked what the chicken leg was, as we don't eat meat in our house. I forget that he wouldn't know what that was and when i told him what it was he just laughed and said "why would you eat a chickens leg?", an animal activist in the making.


Role playing is one of my favourite things to do with the boys, i love getting involved in all of their play activities but with this they are guiding me and i learn a lot from what they have picked up from me and Mrs M and our food preparation day to day. The boys ask a lot of questions like how to cook certain foods and its great to be able to explain to them using play food. Also (although its been explained to them many times) its great to teach them the importance of a balanced diet and although they love their vegetables it seems that Opeie's idea of a balanced breakfast this morning was a simple slab of chocolate between two pieces of bread, a chip off the old block.


Bigjigs toys have a great selection of play food to choose from, giving your children the chance to let their imagination run wild. Opeie has his eye on the Birthday cake with it being Seth's Birthday next month (he's such a cutie) and the Birthday boy thinks that the Diner is missing the Shop till with Scanner , which makes sense because as of yet Opeie has not asked for payment for all his hard work.

Fingers crossed there will be another post soon from the recently Michelin-starred 'Opeie's Diner' (I'm sure the five star reviews on trip advisor will come flooding through any day now).




Monday, 15 September 2014

"What does the fox say?" : The planetarium edition.


Spending so much time with the boys during the week I'm witness to some of their great one liners. Some witty, some intelligent and some completely crazy but all very entertaining. I've never really thought about writing them down or making something of them on the blog because I'm so used to the way they are (until yesterday). It's so much more entertaining when it's someone outside of us four that is on the receiving end of their wit or factual comments.

Yesterday our little fox cub was sitting in a busy planetarium on our friend Chris' knee when he loudly and very clearly informed Chris of an important bit of information "Chris! Sometimes my testicles get stuck to my leg!". Some parents may have been embarrassed by a comment like that but personally I think it just shows his intelligence. He's a very smart little boy who says what he feels and as a dad I fully respect him for that.

So that's what the fox is saying this week.




Sunday, 14 September 2014

"There is no success without hardship."


Although i concentrate on mainly the fun and positive side of our week as a family, parenting isn't always a walk in the park and although becoming a dad has completely changed my life for the better, with it has brought strains on mine and Mrs M's relationship. We've got a great relationship, she is my best friend and I love her dearly but it's not perfect (is any relationship?). Things were so much easier when there were no young children in the house but Opeie's beautiful little smile and addictive personality far outweigh anything that is going on with Mrs M. 

Opeie is my first child, i met Seth at 3 so I really didn't know what to expect from younger children and how demanding they can be. I believe that to make a relationship work with children it's important to make time for yourselves as a couple but this can become really difficult when one of you has a very demanding job and when your children don't share your views on the importance of mommy/daddy time.

Life style choices have also ended up having a knock on effect down the line and although I know that Opeie co-sleeping was the right decision for us and his development I cant help but feel i am getting to the point where I think its run it's course now and selfishly I want our bed back (I know! terrible daddy!).

Saturday morning was a real wake up call and has made me realise just how much you have to work at you're relationship to keep it on the path it is meant to be on. I know i am exactly where i am supposed to be and I am quite sure that Mrs M feels the same and although our time together is limited with all of the other weekly commitments that we have, Its amazing to know we are actually there for each other. It turns out that Saturdays kick up the bum motivated us to get the boys in to bed a little earlier and dedicate some time for 'us' which i think we both needed.


I feel so lucky to have two beautiful boys and an adorable wife to be who provides for us and works really hard. I know i get stressed at times at the lack of 'us time' but ive realised i do need to stop over thinking everything and this is the norm for many couples. We both have a tiring day (even though Mrs M thinks me and Opeie spend our days just high fiving each other) but with a little patience and making the effort to put aside some time every now and again for us as a couple things will always work themselves out.

I know you will get round to reading this at some point Mrs M but i just want you to know that i am (and always will be) so in love with you and there is no one i would rather be spending my time with. you're excessively wide manatee feet are beautiful (and entertaining) and you may be verging on 'possible crazy cat lady' status but you are perfect for me. You have the singing voice of an army of squealing cats but you can bust a move and your dance moves more than make up for the racket. I do get a little twirly when you want to shake it to 'time of my life' ("no body puts baby in the corner").



"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."



A month or so back me and my little sidekick took Mrs M to a business meeting in Stroud, I'd never been before and had no idea what was there so the prospect of heading in to unchartered territory as always was exciting. We love just wandering around places we don't know and taking everything in. When we arrived Mrs M went off to do what she needed to do and we went adventuring. I thought it would be fun to get Opeie to point out all the things he could see that interested him and I'd take pictures. I'm not sure why but the post never got written but a few days back we had to go to Stroud again so we played the same game and well, here's some of the pictures from both trips.

It was nice to see that a lot of the things that interested Opeie were from nature, trees, berries etc...


We stumbled in to a little toy shop and found a little fox to come home with us. The Gruffalo and little brown mouse were very happy about the new addition to our family and 'foxey' as we're calling him now has become a 'book fox' and reads with us every afternoon...


Opeie seemed quite amused by the 'lady with an iPad head' in one of the bank windows, So she was added to Opeie's items of interest. It was so much fun listening to Opeie get excited about things and then say 'Daddy take a picture!'.


"Wow daddy look! a big number 1!" i love how excited he gets about everything...


Fox!!!!


Opeie was really missing mommy and we thought it was cute when we found this book in a charity shop to read while we were having snacks...


More Foxes!!!


Opeie was really excited when we found a book with his friends name on the front.


yeah, you guessed it... Fox!!!


And there you have it, the things that grab a 3 year olds attention. It would be lovely to have his innocence for the day and only see the beautiful things that are in our eye line. As a dad (although i did pick up on the many things Opeie did), i was concentrating more on a cyclist that almost hit us, Selfish smokers blowing smoke our way and an array of people effing and jeffing as they walked by with no consideration that there were young ears present. Never lose that innocence Opeie in many ways i crave it daily for myself.



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