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10 things I’ve learned about parenting this month

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10 things

1. Brushing a two year old’s teeth takes a lot longer when they insist on you also brushing the teeth of their three imaginary friends.

2. I was delighted to hear our two year old son was recently “being a comedian” in creche. I like to think he’s inherited my sense of humour.

3. I recently had my hair brushed by our two year old son. Apparently he thinks that the look below is “really good”.

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4. Our son has decided that he no longer likes vegetarian haggis

5. …however, my Scottish dad pride has been restored by his love of baking shortbread biscuits (see below).

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6. Our son ate several chilli and tomato oatcakes yesterday. I’m hoping this means he’s on his way to becoming a fan of curry (…a topic I’ve discussed here before).

7. Our two year old son still can’t quite pronounce the names of some local villages, especially the one whose train station is pictured below.

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8. According to a colleague, the arrival of a second child is like the transition from walking a dog to owning a zoo.

9. Our son has decided he’s friends with 25 of the letters of the alphabet. He doesn’t know Y.

10. Even if a toddler looks tired and sounds tired, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re tired: “I’m not tired, it’s just a yawn”.

 

What have you learned about parenting recently? What do you remember about being the parent of a toddler? Please feel free to share your views on this post in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ page on Facebook

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

 

Family’s win for football fans affected by autism

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IMAG0152As a big fan of football, I look forward to sharing my passion for this sport with my son as he grows older. Despite not yet having reached his third birthday, he has already been to two football matches. Admittedly he slept through most of the first and didn’t seem too bothered about the second one.

Given my love of the sport often referred to as ‘the beautiful game’, I was recently quite moved to hear about a family here in the UK who have faced quite a few challenges when taking their children to football matches. About ten days ago, I heard about the story of Peter and Kate Shippey. All three of their children are affected by autism.

Reading about the Shippey family’s experience of taking their eldest son to see their local team Sunderland play really opened my eyes to a series of issues that I hadn’t thought about much before. As they explain on their blog, their oldest son was really excited about going to see his team play at their stadium but found the experience hard to cope with and had to leave the game only a few minutes after it started.

The very thought of seeing a child so keen to go to see their team play but end up having to leave the stadium almost brought a tear to my eye. To love a sport but be unable to enjoy it in the same way as many other people seemed such a shame.

However, as this video shows, the story has had a happy end. As has been reported in the press, Sunderland have become the first football team in the UK (and possibly the world) to install a ‘sensory room’ that is designed to make it easier for fans affected by autism to enjoy attending a football match. The facility makes it possible for fans to enjoy matches in a room that shelters them from the noise levels that some find hard to endure.

The fact that such a facility now exists owes much to the efforts of the Shippey family to persuade Sunderland FC to create a facility that makes their stadium more accessible and inclusive. The sensory room is apparently in great demand, and has also been made available to fans of visiting teams.

However, the story doesn’t stop here. Peter and Kate Shippey have set up The Shippey Campaign in order to encourage other sports teams in the UK to follow Sunderland’s example. They are encouraging sports clubs and supporters interested in learning more about to get in touch via e-mail (theshippeycampaign@gmail.com), and urging supporters to call on their teams to make their stadium more suitable for fans affected by autism. I’d like to wish them the best of luck in their efforts, which I hope will bring benefits for many other families.

For more information about the Shippey Campaign, see their blog, their Facebook page and their feed on Twitter

Our son doesn’t like haggis any more

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no more haggisTwo years ago, I asked an important question on this blog: will our son like haggis? Haggis is traditionally eaten on 25th January as part of Burns Night to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Rather than serving up the traditional version of the dish that is composed of sheep’s innards cooked in a sheep’s stomach, I fed him a homemade vegetarian version that he enthusiastically (…and messily) consumed.

This year, we again ate vegetarian haggis to mark Burns Night but our son (who’ll be three in a few months’ time) wasn’t interested. I’d like to think that it was because we offered him a shop-produced form of vegetarian haggis rather than a homemade version, but I fear that that this may not be the case. Over the last year, our son has become a bit more fussy about what he eats. He still enjoys going out to a local tapas restaurant and sampling lots of different fruit, vegetables and cheeses but it can be a different story at home.

Last summer, I thought that his love of all sorts of different fresh fruit and vegetables was set to continue when he insisted on holding some broccoli while we went round the supermarket rather than putting it in the trolley (what folks here in the UK call a ‘shopping cart’). Despite the fact that he nibbled on the broccoli while we went round the store, he wasn’t interested in eating in at home once we’d cooked it.

If I took things to extremes, I could take our son’s refusal to eat haggis as a rejection of his Scottish roots. However, that would be going a bit too far. It’s inevitable that our son is going to have a different relationship with Scotland to me. I was born in Scotland and lived there until the age of 18, whereas he was born here in Wales.

By virtue of my wife being from England and my grandparents from different parts of Ireland, our son would technically be eligible to represent five different countries at sports such as football: Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I’d only be eligible to represent Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at football, but having lived in Wales since 2007 would seem to – theoretically – make me eligible to represent Wales at rugby. They’re unlikely to call on my services as the Welsh rugby team is pretty decent at the moment, but things might have been different in the 1980s despite the fact that I have played very little rugby.

Our son may no longer have the same interest in vegetarian haggis as he once had, but I’m pleased to report that he does like shortbread biscuits. Rather than just eating this Scottish delicacy, a few months ago he actually helped me to make some of these. As he grows up, it’s fun finding new things to bond over as he asks ever more questions about the world around him.

 

What did you think of this blog post? What traditions and foods do you like to eat or cook with your friends and family? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ page on Facebook.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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5 fun things about living in Wales

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5 fun things about living in Wales

As part of the ‘30 Days Around the World Series‘ being organised by Ellen from the Cutting Tiny Bites blog, I’ve written this post about some of the things that I enjoy most about living in Wales with my wife and son. I’m originally from Scotland but Wales has certainly come to feel like home since I moved here in 2007. Here are five things that make it a fun place to live and raise a family:

1. Yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (The National Eisteddfod)

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The Eisteddfod Genedlaethol is a week-long celebration of Welsh language culture that takes at the start of August every year. Since moving to Wales in 2007, I’ve been to it three times. It’s been fun managing to get more out of it as my Welsh has improved. In 2013, I went to the event with my wife and then four month old son. His favourite part of the event was the tent of Twf, an organisation that promotes bilingual parenting in Wales.

2. Welsh music

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We live in North Wales and are really lucky that this a really exciting local music scheme that features bands that sing in both Welsh and English. Even before I could fully understand what the bands were singing about, I’d go along to Welsh language gigs near where I work. Our son attended his first music festival when he was three months old, and attracted a bit of attention as we was wearing some very cute ear protectors.

3. Our local bookshop

Thankfully our trip to watch the band Plu sing some songs for kids in a local bookshop didn't produce the same reaction as being introduced to Santa.

We’re tremendously lucky to have a really good local independent bookshop in Caernarfon, which is only a short drive from where we live. They have a great range of books in both Welsh and English. We’ve got books for our son and also CDs of Welsh nursery rhymes at this place, and enjoyed learning Welsh language nursery rhymes at the same time as our son! We’ve also taken him to some special events, such as a sing-along that took place last December.

4. Welsh cakes

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Welsh cakes are a traditional delicacy made out of flour, sugar, butter and dried fruit that are cooked on a griddle pan. I’ve made them quite a few times and am delighted that our son also enjoys eating them. In fact, he’s also helped us to make them before. I use the term ‘help’ quite loosely as he did end up spreading quite a lot of flour on our kitchen floor and try to prevent us from cooking them as he got quite attached to the bowl of ingredients.

5. Being able to take a baby in a sling to a village called Sling

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To mark International Babywearing Week two years ago, I insisted on going to a village called Sling to take a photos of my wife and I carrying our then six month old son in a sling. It seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Since then, we’ve actually moved quite close to this village although its name was not the only reason for this move.

If you want to find out more about what it’s like to live in Wales, click on this link to have a look at some of the posts that I’ve written about living in Wales and bringing up our son using Welsh as well as English. To see more of the posts from the ’30 Days Around the World Series’, please click on the image below.

AroundTheWorldIn30DaysFB

What are the things that you like most about where you live? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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Feel free to name a monkey after our son

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Feel free to name a monkey after our sonIf you were famous, would you be bothered if a zoo decided to name a monkey after your newborn son or daughter? Personally, I wouldn’t be bothered. In fact, I’d be kind of flattered by this sort of honour. However, not everyone seems to agree.

In the week that followed the birth of a daughter named Charlotte to the UK Royal Family’s William and Kate, a Japanese zoo was widely reported to have committed a diplomatic faux pas by naming a baby monkey Charlotte. In a public vote organised by the zoo, Charlotte was the most popular name. The zoo was forced to apologize following criticism from people who thought that the decision to call its new macaque Charlotte was not appropriate.

I may not be the sort person who purchases royal wedding commemorative crockery sets, but I really don’t see the problem with naming a monkey after a princess or a prince. After all, lots of parents playfully refer to their offspring as cheeky monkeys when they are young. Indeed, I am aware of several fellow parent bloggers who include ‘monkey’ in the name of their website. These include All Done Monkey, The Monkeys All Say Boo, You Clever Monkey, Schooling a Monkey and One Smiley Monkey.

Perhaps some would argue that deference to royalty should dictate that naming a monkey after a royal baby is not appropriate. However, I am inclined to disagree. I’d imagine it’s reasonable to assume that being born into a life of wealth and privilege does not preclude royal babies from displaying monkey-like characteristics or being branded ‘cheeky little monkeys’ by their own family and friends.

Now it may be that a Japanese zoo naming a monkey after a member of a foreign royal family is considered by some to be undiplomatic. That said, diplomacy is not always a trait displayed by members of royal families. An uncle of newly-born Princess Charlotte caused controversy ten years ago by turning up at a ‘colonials and natives’ fancy dress party wearing what was reported to be a Nazi costume. Charlotte’s great grandfather’s undiplomatic remarks have been the subject of several books and indeed a list of Ninety gaffes to mark ninety years that was drawn up by the UK newspaper The Independent.

There is another important question that needs to be asked about the topic of monkeys. What is it about monkeys that means that it’s potentially offensive to name one after a member of the UK royal family? After all, humans ‘share a common ape ancestor with chimpanzees‘ according to the Smithsonian Museum of National History. Given that some sorts of monkeys are apparently capable of using computers (see number 2 on the list), I’d love to offer one the opportunity to write a guest post on this blog sometime in the near future.

Given the fact that monkeys are often perceived to be comical and fun animals, it seems strange for it to be seen as potentially controversial to name one after a member of a royal family. Indeed, I certainly see it as no reason for going bananas.

What do you think about the Japanese’s zoo’s decision to name its newborn monkey after a newly born princess? Was it a mistake on their part or were the critics over-reacting? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

21 thoughts from my 21st month as a parent

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21 thoughts Food, football and France. Read about these and more in my latest monthly collection of thoughts about being a parent…

1. Our son has got increasingly polite and sociable recently. Only last week, he helped to put out some rubbish and then said ‘bye bye wheelie bin, see you later!’.

2. The best thing about borrowing CDs of kids’ songs from the library to play in the car is that it’s usually time to return them just when they start getting irritating.

3. I think our son has inherited my dress sense. Here we are wearing matching outfits:

2015-01-10 10.22.27 4. Within the last month, I’ve had a very proud moment as our son said ‘pêl-droed’ (football) for the first time.

5. Our son is still learning to play football, which probably explains why I won 15-0 in a recent game in our back garden. He is improving though, it was 28-0 to me the previous week.

6. Talking of football, one of my favourite things about being a dad is that it’s now a lot more acceptable to play football in the living room than it used to be.

7. Our son can make a bit of a mess at times, but is also very interested in using our hoover. IMG_20150120_173334862 8. It’s sometimes hard to know when our son’s saying ‘mamma’ and when he’s saying ‘banana’. I hope he doesn’t end up sending a Mother’s Day card to a piece of fruit.

9. However, our son has managed to recently say both ‘granny’ and ‘grandad’ on Skype.

10. Our son has been introduced to some elementary human biology in one of the books he’s been reading recently (see below). IMG_20150126_194318016 11. Our son is getting very enthusiastic about helping out with our two chickens. We’ll need to stop taking him out too early in the morning as he often ends up walking back across the garden towards the house shouting ‘look, eggs!’.

12. He is getting a bit more aware of noise though. When he comes back to bed after getting up during the night, he often shouts ‘QUIET’ just after coming back into the bedroom.

13. Not so long ago, I was somewhat disappointed that our son hadn’t really experienced playing in proper snow that I decided to make him a snowman out of play dough.

IMG_20150111_131152161 14. Thankfully, we did get some proper snow not long after I made the play dough snowman (…maybe there’s a link?).

IMG_20150202_074804849 15. As someone who teaches students French for a living, I was pleased to hear our son recently say his first French word. it was ‘voila’.

16. As our son is showing an interest in France at the moment, I’ve been telling him about how Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep a vineyard he owned in the south of France. It’s quite well known that he’d herd it through the grapevine.

17. Our son may not be two yet, but he’s already decided that it’s time he has his own house (see below).

IMG_20150119_214152745 18. Our son recently told me off for lining up all his toy animals in order of size. Apparently it’s because he doesn’t like me critter sizing.

19. I’m glad to see our son showing an interest in healthy eating. When I got home from work recently he was taking this to a new level by trying to feed grapes to his toy giraffe.

20. Due to his interest in animals such as giraffes, we recently decided to make our bathroom look a bit like a jungle (see below). IMG_20150204_081419011 21. Coming up with over 20 thoughts about parenting per month is getting quite challenging. I’m going to keep this feature going until our son turns two and will then be replacing it with a new format. Watch this space!

What do you think of this post and what do you remember from your first year and a half as a parent? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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Are the January sales a waste of time?

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January Sales There’s always a lot of hype surrounding the January sales, but they rarely seem to live up to the hype. Although I used to always get some new clothes when they came round, I’m getting less and less interested in them. Perhaps this is a sign of getting old or there potentially being some truth in the idea that people from Scotland are somewhat averse to spending money. Anyway, this week I’m going to share a few reason why I’m less than excited about the chance to grab a few supposed bargains. This cynical attitude towards consumerism may not come as a surprise to people who have read my earlier post Baby ‘essentials’ – things that you’re told you need but could probably do without. It seems that there are more and more sales taking place these days, especially now that ‘Black Friday’ sales are now being promoted here in the UK despite their origins being connected to an American public holiday. When it comes to the more familiar sales on this side of the pond, there’s a sort of predictable and repetitive hype. Certain stores seem to proclaim ‘our biggest ever sale’ each time they start their annual post-Christmas sale. Somewhat unsurprisingly they appear not to broadcast the message ‘this sale is not as big as any of our planned future post-Christmas sales’.

Our son's Christmas presents included a large bag of Duplo that we got for him at a local charity shop.

Our son’s Christmas presents included a large bag of Duplo that we got for him at a local charity shop.

What frustrates me with the Black Friday sales is they come in the run-up to Christmas and often seem to focus on large electrical items. This is something that I have issues with on two levels. Firstly, there are quite a few reasons why I don’t see widescreen televisions as fantastic stocking fillers (mainly size and cost). Secondly, these sales seem to be encouraging people to spend money than they would otherwise by buying discounted non-present items at the same time as they are likely to also be buying Christmas presents. When it comes to post-Christmas sales, companies seem to be encouraging people to keep on spending more and more after splashing out on all the presents and entertaining that is a key part of Christmas for so many. Part of the reason I have the sorts of attitudes I’ve described so far may well be that I’m getting less materialistic as I get older. This year, my wife and I decided not to get each other lots and lots of presents. We both got each other some small presents and agreed that we’d each organise a family day out for each other as a sort of post-Christmas present. Time is something together as a family is something that is particularly precious to us, and something that we were able to enjoy plenty of during the holiday season. With that in mind, one of the Christmas presents we asked for when suggestions were requested by family members was an annual ticket for a local butterfly farm that our son likes visiting.

Our son likes our local butterfly farm both because he enjoys looking at the butterflies and also because he finds it fun to play in the numerous sinks!

Our son likes our local butterfly farm both because he enjoys looking at the butterflies and also because he finds it fun to play in the numerous sinks!

I’m also a bit cynical about sales because I don’t see something that is discounted but not strictly necessary as being a fantastic bargain. This utilitarian attitude may explain why the only things that I’ve bought so far in the January sales are a filing cabinet and five hours of usage of a parking space. These two purchases were things that I was going to need anyway, and the sales meant that I was able to get them at reduced prices. IMG_20150119_214233709 That said, I ended up getting a refund on the parking space as a family change of plans meant that I ended up travelling to Manchester via train rather than car. Filing cabinets are probably not what you would call a fun or exciting sales purchase. Indeed, few people post pictures of themselves on social media with captions such as ‘look at this amazing office furniture than I got in the sales!’. It did cross my mind that doing so would be one way of promoting this post but I’m not sure that I could bring myself to describe a robust and functional filing cabinet as ‘amazing’ so soon after criticising the hype that goes along with many major sales.

The house that came free with our filing cabinet.

The house that came free with our filing cabinet.

As it happens, our son really likes the filing cabinet we got in the January sales. This isn’t because he now uses it to store his ever growing collection of paintings according to date and colour (which would a challenge if he inherited my colourblindness anyway), but rather because it came in a really big cardboard box which has now become a play house. In fact, I think the retailer missed a trick by not advertising the filing cabinet by using the slogan ‘20% off and comes with a free play house for toddlers’. Despite my cynicism towards certain aspects of marketing, maybe there’s a bit of a marketer in me after all. What do you think of the January sales? Do you share my cynicism or are they a good time for getting some bargains? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it. I’ve added this post to the following parent blogging link-ups:

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