Saturday 31 August 2019

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Gifts from the pirates blossomed from the early days of becoming a step-dad. I had never been in a relationship with anyone with a child before and it was a real life changing experience for me. One of the hardest things to try and get around was how to react to a child that wasn't mine when they were acting up, in many ways in those early days I was still the guardian as such but there are lines that I feel you don't cross and working out the guidelines for that can be tough.

This is why I created 'The Pirates', a way of communicating with Seth about his behaviour without having to cross any of those lines. He was never a naughty kid but he did know how to throw a tantrum of epic proportions. The Pirates were a crew of magical folk that kept an eye on his behaviour and kept him in check, rewarding him when he deserved it. They visited many times over those first few years but in no time at all Seth had calmed down.

I never really needed to use them with Opeie as he has always been so relaxed, but there was a few times that they visited during the night to leave him something when he had done something awesome. Aside from naming the blog after them, I thought I had long ago got to the point where they were no longer needed. That was until recently. I met up with a friend last week and we got chatting about school etc as the holidays are coming to an end and she started telling me about how much her little boy had changed on the build up to him starting school this year. She said that he had become very anxious and didn't want to talk about it at all and that she was really starting to worry. The conversation got me thinking a lot about the complete change in Opeie's personality during the few weeks that he attended nursery . The whole thing really played on my mind and then a couple of days later I was talking to my friend again and her little boy had accidentally completely destroyed his favourite sword. I felt like the poor kid was having a tough time so later that day I messaged and said ask him what sort of sword he would like and I'll make it for him, but don't tell him.

She messaged back with a drawing that he had done with his mom and he said that he would really love a rainbow sword with an anchor on. As with most creative things I do, I had no idea what I was doing, Its all about the winging it with me. So I searched the shed looking for wood and got to work. While I was In the garden sawing away I started thinking again about his anxiety and Opeie's face over this nursery months and that's when I thought the Pirates might come in handy again, So I wrote a letter from that very famous pirate Captain Rainbow beard...

After a secret stealth mission with the boys today, sneaking the sword and letter around to their house, I received a lovely message that I will never forget from my friend saying how much it meant to her and Euan. As expected he loved the sword but more importantly liked the fact that he was contacted by rainbow beard and was excited about being part of his crew.This of course was lovely to read, but that was topped an hour or so later when she messaged to say that he had packed his school bag ready (despite not starting for another 5 days), and this from an anxious child that didn't even want to talk about going to school. 

It turns out that the newest member of our recently expanding crew couldn't wait to write to his captain and drew a lovely picture of rainbow beard which he dropped in the post box earlier (with a starburst). So I should probably get creating the next letter which I shall probably make sure has arrived on the morning of his first school day, to give him that extra boost of bravery for his big day.

It's situations like this that reinforce my whole philosophy that a little bit of effort and randomness really goes a long way and can have such a great impact on a Childs emotional well being.

Thursday 29 August 2019

'With great building power comes great creativity'

Back in June I wanted to write about fathers day but I really wasn't in the right headspace to be writing anything. I'm kicking myself now for all the things I could have documented from the last year or so because the blog has always been an online journal for the boys to remember all the fun things we have done together. When they do look back on this I don't want them to feel like I was completely lost during the time I wasn't writing. I may have not been posting anything but I was still crafting, adventuring and playing with those amazing boys every single day. 

Last week, while the weather was thrashing it down Opeie decided that he wanted to build the Daily Bugle from Spider-man, A scaled down, solid build that he could transport around backwards and forwards to his friends.

He made a baseplate the exact size floorspace that he wanted for the build and then we started building our way up. I love how Opeie and his friends play with the things that they are creating and the style of the build really reflects that. With something like this, with more than two floors, he really wants to be able to play with each floor in different ways so we built each level separately making it easy to unattached and placed side my side so that all rooms could be played with together.

It's the little quirky bits that Opeie adds to all his builds that really makes me smile. The golden bugle and the stone bugle player really gave Opeie's creation some character.

The great thing about this build was that it made me think about fathers day again and it gave me a chance to tie that build into this one. Opeie had given me the Spider-man kit with Ned in and was desperate to sit and build something together. When it comes to fathers day I just want to be doing something fun with the boys and when it comes to gifts my favourite ones are the ones that get us creating together, its the kind of bonding for us that you just can't beat. Opeie filled me in on his idea and then we sat down with a cuppa and got stuck in. It was the perfect kind of day for a 'dad celebration'.

We seem tone going through a bit of a Spider-man building binge at the moment and we're just finishing off something big so watch this space.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

"Despite the weather, it gets better, You won't do this alone"

It's been a while since I wrote an update about the music that is having an impact on Opeie but I think it's really important as his love of music gets him through the confusing emotional things going on in his life. When we are at home we have music playing most of the time, it has always been an important part of my life and the love of (all kinds of) music has definitely rubbed off on Opeie too. So here's 10 tracks that he's been listening to recently. Hopefully he can look back on these and remember what an absolute dude of an 8-year-old he was.

Modern Baseball - Your graduation

With Confidence - Voldemort

Hit the lights - No filter

The chats - Smoko

Two Year break - Change my mind

Our Last night - The Middle (cover)

Kid Quill - Daily Routine

SonReal - Everywhere we go

Shakey Grakes (feat Esme Patterson) - Dearly Departed

Queen - Don't stop me now

Sunday 18 August 2019

"...and of course he wanted his crayons to be happy. And that gave him an idea."

I can't ever see LEGO not being a part of our lives, over the years its been an amazing bonding experience for the boys and I and we have built so many fun things together during this time. I love putting our own spin on the Sets that LEGO releases but for me the real magic comes in those completely original and creative ideas. I love hearing Opeie's weird and wonderful ideas and then sitting down together and working out how we are going to make these things work is something pretty special.

Im not sure where the idea for this build came from, it could have been influenced by the Oliver Jeffers book The day the crayons quit, which was always a favourite of ours. Or maybe just one of those mad ideas that pops into our heads at times. Either way our mission was to create a box of crayons with a colourful story to back it up. Opeie has a thing for miniature play sets that he can carry around with him so the box had to have some form of scene in there too.

Anything Opeie creates has to have some form of backstory, sometimes the stories are deep and other times they are complete madness. This one was about an angry purple crayon, fed up with the restraints of being imprisoned in a box and having minimal outdoor time to let his creative juices run wild. He eventually reaches breaking point after being mocked by his peers for wanting more from life and goes on a rampage, melting his colourful housemates (poor light green crayon 😭).
For me these are the kind of LEGO builds that really get me motivated, giggling to ourselves as we talk about the story while creating is the best kind of bonding there is. I can't wait to get stuck in to the next crazy idea.

Monday 12 August 2019

“If there's a better definition of love than mutual benevolent insanity, I haven't heard it.”

We all have a bad day every now and again, one of those days where you feel like you could either scream or cry at any point and that was Opeie yesterday. He's an over thinker like me and I could tell pretty much as soon as he'd woken up that he was processing some heavy thoughts. It's been a really confusing couple of years for him and Ive done my best to try and help him navigate through it all, sometimes though talking about it just doesn't work and instead you need to do something a little bit crazy to take you mind off of all the head traffic.

So as the weather was a bit rubbish on and off yesterday and Opeie was clearly in need of lots of cuddles, we decided to have a movie day. It would have been far too easy to throw a load of blankets on the sofa though and where's the fun in that? Like I said we needed something to take his mind off of everything so after a little chat and a few giggles we decided it was a good idea to take the trampoline down in the garden and put it in his bedroom.

I love a bit of spontaneity, and little crazy activities like this are really good for the soul. As soon as the trampoline was up and was covered in blankets, Opeie had an hour playing with his friends online and then we gathered snacks and chilled out watching movies. In no time at all he was back to his happy self and the rest of the day was all smiles. Sometimes it really pays to be a little bit creative with your time and showing a little bit of genuine effort goes a long way with kids.

Thursday 8 August 2019

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. "

Ive written so many posts about the things we get up to, the places we go, and the things we create but I haven't actually written about the one thing that takes up my evenings when the boys are tucked up in bed.  Writing the blog has taken up a lot of my evening time over the years. I'd never really been the sort of person that committed to anything but that all Changed when I became a dad and my life was turned around for the better. Being a dad is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life, my defining moment, and when the boys are awake my time is completely devoted to them and the blog really helps me with this. It keeps me motivated to be constantly doing things with them and making sure that they get the attention they deserve. 

I can see how easily it could be as a parent to just sit on your bum and let the kids get on with whatever they want to be doing but that's not the way I could ever be. I have unfortunately had a bad relationship with my own family over the years and I never want my boys to feel how I have. We may not have a house that is immaculate all the time, the list of DIY jobs keep mounting up and maybe we cant always afford to go on holiday when we want but I know that the boys go to sleep and wake up happy and as a dad that shows me that I am doing a great job.

I started the blog for the boys, we play a lot and I wanted them to be able to look back on this and see all of the fun that we had and are still always having. At first it was all about our Lego builds and the crazy craft activities that we come up with. As the years have gone by though it has turned into so much more, its something for all of us to look back on including friends, family and all of the regular readers that are following me on this amazing adventure of being a dad. I feel so lucky to have the boys in my life they will never know how much they have bettered me as a person and the fact that I can look back on the pages I have written is amazing as I know that time can never be taken away from me.

Even if there are negative things going on my life, things that are getting me down, I know that as soon as I sit down at my computer to write for that time it all goes away. I try not to write anything negative on here, after all the blog is a celebration of everything family, It's about colour, fun and creativity. Its a way for me to come across as I am meant to be seen with out the outside negative influences of my childhood creeping in.

What I'm trying to say amongst all the waffle is that the writing really means a lot to me and hopefully it will to the boys when they are older and understand it all. It's been an interesting journey, not all good, but the three of us have really grown together and we've got each other through a whole mess of heartache. I'm looking forward to another year of documenting our adventures and watching the boys grow into proper little gents. Being a dad us truly amazing.

Tuesday 6 August 2019

"Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive"

I honestly don't know how I'd cope without these two in my life, they are the best friends a guy could ask for. I think the pair of them could seriously get me through anything life throws at me. 

Monday 5 August 2019

"Where oils lumber... watercolours prance."

With the last 15 months being like an emotional rollercoaster, it's been really difficult at times to properly relax and get myself (and Opeie) into a good, clear headspace. When you're dealing with a heartbroken kid its hard to think about anything else. Ive been doing my best to keep us both entertained though and have been really surprised at some of the things we have found to relax.
We've always been an arty pair, always creating something and we've used so many different mediums over the years,  I've always avoided watercolour though out of fear. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous but I was 110% confident in the fact that I couldn't produce something I was proud of and because of that I held Opeie back too (naughty daddy), until now.

With a little creative guidance from someone that knows what they are talking about we found ourself a few weeks back sat at a desk with paper taped down and paints and brushes at the ready. It turns out that painting is one of the most relaxing activities (after LEGO of course) that we could have been doing and definitely nothing to be afraid of. 

There is something so satisfying about experimenting with colours and then turning the experiment into something fun. I can quite easily get a little lost in the activity, which recently I feel pretty thankful for.

Opeie has really been getting into the beetles too but he's also been having fun with colour mixing and creating galaxies (as you can see he's a bit of a Doctor Who fan). I love seeing him get into creative ventures like this, its nice to see him concentrating on something so positive and activities like this are really good for the soul.  

So thanks for the tips, sitting with us and taking the edge off of my watercolour fear, you know who you are. 💜