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Baby showers: what about dads?

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Multicultural Kid Blogs - Virtual Baby ShowerAs our son is swiftly approaching his first birthday, I am today joining with fellow members of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group who are co-hosting a blog hop about baby showers and becoming parents. Last week I blogged about the day that I learned I was going to become a dad, and this week I’ll be talking specifically about baby showers. If you have written any posts about similar themes, please feel free to link them up to the blog hop at the end of this e-mail.

I’ve generally seen baby showers as being a bit of North American thing, although I have seen articles in the UK press suggest that more and more baby showers are now taking place here in the UK. As it happens, my wife and I didn’t have a baby shower. We did, however, go for a nice weekend away to Liverpool a few months before our son’s arrival on what I believe is sometimes known as a ‘babymooon’. We stayed on the edge of the city centre and enjoyed eating tapas, going on a Beatles tour of the city, taking in a comedy night and eating one of the best ever vegetarian roast dinners we’ve ever had.

Rightly or wrongly, I normally see baby showers as being mainly mum orientated. However, it’s good to see that there is information out there about how to make baby showers more men-friendly. I think that it’s great to celebrate the impending arrival of a child with friends and think that it’s ever better when dads are either involved in this or find a way of marking this too. After all, if you’re going to bring up a child together then it makes sense to prepare for it and celebrate it together.

Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

A Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

While preparing this blog post, I asked some fellow dad bloggers what their views on baby showers were and found it fascinating to hear back from several who had either been to this sort of event or knew people who had. Several, such as Mike Crider (The Father of Twins), suggested that baby showers could and should be more inclusive. Australian dad blogger Darrell Milton (Modern Father Online) mentioned that he and his wife had a joint baby shower for their first baby that was based around a barbecue, and several others shared similar experiences.

Michael Bryant (The Purposeful Pappy) argued that as he and his wife do most things together, they decided that this should mean jointly hosting a baby shower. Michael mentioned that their baby shower was attended by both men and women, as did others such as Micah Adams (Big Boned Biker). Mark McNulty (The New American Dad) reported being the only man at the baby showers that were predominantly focused on his wife but that his work colleagues organised a baby shower specifically for him. Mark added that including a dad-to-be in a baby shower could make him ‘more excited or comfortable with the coming change in his life’ and also ‘have a positive impact on preparing him for his new role’.

Several dads talked about enjoying baby showers that were specifically for dads-to-be or that had been planned with dads in mind, and several of these seemed to have a lot in common with the sorts of Dadchelor Parties that have been discussed on the Life of Dad website and podcast. Brian Marks (Dashing Dad) talked about enjoying being able to hang out with male with friends while drinking beer and watching baseball, and Craig Fortner (The New Age Mister Mom) enjoyed a similar type of event that his sister organised for him. Chris Daddio (Buff Daddio) and Spike Zelenka (Double Trouble Daddy) shared similar stories. Just as dads value different aspects of baby showers, Jeff Tepper (Ay yo, be a father) pointed out that his wife hasn’t keen on having what he termed a ‘classic women’s only baby shower’ and that their event didn’t feature any baby games.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

Reading these tales led me to wonder if I’d missed out on something by not having been involved in some sort of baby shower prior to my wife and I becoming parents. Although it’s hard to come up with a categorical answer, I think that it’s fair to say that we both benefited from discussing parenthood with friends who’d already had kids. Just as my wife found it useful to have talked things through with friends who were mums, I also feel that I really benefited from discussing all sorts of things to do with child birth and parenting with friends who had become dads shortly before I was due to become a parenting.

What I think this boils down to is the need for both mums and dads to be present in discussions about parenting so as to get an idea of what to expect and face up to concerns, challenges and whatever else together. As a blogger, I know that I’ve gained so much both from being in groups for dad bloggers and also from groups for parent bloggers than are made up of mums and dads.

What about you? Did you have a baby shower? What do you think of baby showers and whether they should be made more of an event for both mums-to-be and dads-to-be?

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.

 

The co-hosts of this blog hop, listed below, have each written posts related to baby showers or more generally about becoming parents, plus we’d love for you to link up yours below.

Also be sure to visit our Facebook page to leave your advice and well wishes for our guests of honour!

Co-hosts

Multicultural Kid Blogs

the piri-piri lexicon
Vibrant Wanderings
Creative World of Varya
La Cité des Vents
Spanish Playground
Dad’s the way I like it
Tiny Tapping Toes
All Done Monkey

 

 

 

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Learning I was going to be a dad

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Learning I was going to be a dad

As our son swiftly approaches his first birthday, I’ve been thinking back over so many things to do with his birth and how he has become such a big part of our life over the last twelve months. In fact, I’ve also been thinking back to the day when I found out that I was going to become a father.

Back in August 2012, the Summer Olympics were taking place in London. I was in the UK for the first half of the games and watched some of the big events live on television with my wife, including a Saturday evening of athletics in which the UK won three gold medals. However, I was in Paris for the second week of the Olympics. In some ways, this seemed kind of ironic as Paris had been London’s main rival in the battle to host the games.

As I teach French at a university in Wales, France is a country that I visit fairly regularly. In August 2012, I was doing some research about multiculturalism and comedy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (the National Library of France). I was in daily contact with my wife via phone, text and Skype during this time, mainly in the evenings after I’d completed a day of reading and note-taking in the archives.

La Bibliothèque nationale de France, a place that took on a new significance for me in August 2012...

La Bibliothèque nationale de France, a place that took on a new significance for me in August 2012…

On the last day of my stay in Paris, my wife tried to ring me on my mobile in the middle of the afternoon. Being a responsible library user, I had my phone on silent. As we’d mainly been chatting in the evenings during my stay, I was a bit curious as to why my wife had decided to ring me at a different time when she knew that I’d be likely to be in the library. Due to my curiosity, I gathered my papers and laptop together and went out into a part of the library where using mobile phones was permitted.

When I phoned my wife, I got the feeling that she was excited and had some news that she wanted to share. Her way of doing so was to suggest that I didn’t bring home any unpasteurised French cheese from France. Thankfully I was aware of the fact that  UK guidelines to pregnant woman include a recommendation to avoid unpasteurised cheese, so this perhaps roundabout way of breaking the news certainly did not leave me feeling mystified. I’m sure that I’d promised to bring home some tasty French cheese during the trip, as I often do when I go to France, and we’d probably even discussed what sorts to get.

My wife had been planning to do the pregnancy test once I’d got back from France but she was getting increasingly emotional and excited about the possibility of being pregnant. It wasn’t just us potentially becoming parents that she’d been getting emotional about. Indeed, one of the things that had made her think that we were within nine months of welcoming a child into the world was that she had – unusually for her – been getting emotional watching some of the sports events that were part of the London Olympics.

On my most recent trip to France last month I didn't have to worry about whether or not the cheeses I was buying were pasteurised

On my most recent trip to France last month I didn’t have to worry about whether or not the cheeses I was buying were pasteurised

After talking to her about the great news on the phone, I too was incredibly excited and pleased. In fact, it wasn’t all that easy to focus on finishing of my research in the library that afternoon (…and not because I was trying to remember which of our favourite French cheeses were pasteurised and unpasteurised!). After managing to finish reading that material I wanted to get through on the last day of my research trip, I left the library and headed for central Paris.

I had thought that the highlight of the last full day of my trip to Paris was going to be seeing the French Olympic team being paraded down the Champs-Elysées. However, that event had now been significantly upstaged. As I waited among the crowds to see the French Olympians arrive aboard red, white and blue open-topped buses, I kept thinking about how my wife and I now had something to celebrate too.

France's 2012 Olympic team arrive back in Paris

France’s 2012 Olympic team arrive back in Paris

Before the athletes arrived, a sports manufacturer that has a shop on the Champs-Elysées was handing out French Olympic flags and I had ended up with two of them. As I was making my way to the correct platform of a métro station after watching the Olympians’ arrival, a man who looked like he was on the way home from work noticed that I had more than one of the flags that had been given out and asked if I’d mind giving him one that he could take home and give to his son. I instantly obliged as it seemed like the right thing to do even leaving aside the fatherhood solidarity side of things.

On my return from Paris, my parents were the first people with whom I shared the good news about a new family member being on the way. In fact, I did so in a similarly indirect manner to the way in which my wife had told me the news on the phone. When we had got married earlier in 2012, my mum had stitched together a quilt for us out of  patches that had been made by many of the guests at our wedding. So when we were chatting to my parents on Skype, I referred to the quilt and asked her if she could make us another but a much smaller version. Thankfully, she understood instantly and she had given us a beautiful handmade quilt some months before our son arrived.

 

If you are a parent, are there any places or events that you associate with the time you discovered that you were going to become a parent? Please feel free to share your thoughts 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 shared this blog post on the following parent blogging link-ups:

 

 

 

12 thoughts from my 12th month as a parent

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12 thoughts 12 months

It’s time for my monthly feature about what I’ve learned about parenting this month. This edition is about swings, wires and raspberries…

1. Our son loves trying to grab the lap top cable or any other wires he can. When I’m doing work at home, I now try to charge the lap top while he’s asleep so I don’t need to have it plugged in while he’s awake.

2. Dear almost one year old son, when mummy says ‘give daddy a goodnight kiss’ she doesn’t mean repeatedly hit daddy in the face. Thank you.

3. Dear son, even though you haven’t really got the whole idea of not getting up as early as normal at the weekends yet, thank you for leaving it until 7.45am before deciding it was time to get up one Sunday recently when I had a bit of a cold. I really appreciate your consideration.

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Our son goes searching for the remote control

4. Our latest parenting challenge is hiding the television remote control from our baby son and then remembering where it is when we want to watch something.

5. We’re currently looking round houses with a view to moving to somewhere slightly bigger. Our son has developed a bit of a tendency to stare out the people who show us round the houses we view. I hope this won’t affect how we come across to the people selling!

6. Being from Scotland and living in Wales, our son’s probably going to realise that English and British do not mean the same thing. That said, I’m not sure that he’s got the difference between the United States and Canada sussed yet. When he and I were being interviewed by a US television crew for a programme about travelling with kids, he wore these maple leaf shoes (see picture below).

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7. I recently had a raspberry blowing competition with our son. It was very close, but I think I won.

8. When you’ve got a kid who sometimes decides to start loudly blowing raspberries at 6.35am, you don’t always need an alarm clock. Maybe having raspberry blowing competitions with our son wasn’t the best idea.

9. I really enjoyed recently taking our son to have a go on some swings for the first time. Swings for little kids are great, but they can be a bit of a challenge for tall dads like myself when it comes to not getting a sore back after a bit. Anyone got any tips?

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10. Our son currently likes taking things out of a box and then putting them back into a box. If this love of being neat and tidy continues, I’m going to bring him in to work to help tidy my office.

11. Last weekend, the clocks went forward here in the UK. A lot of people think that this means having an hour less in bed, but our son would like to point out that it meant that he can say that he waited until 8am before wanting to get up last Sunday.

12. We have some big family news to announce: the pitter patter of tiny feet… In fact, two sets of tiny feet! We’ve just got two new chickens!

It's time to introduce Dorothy, Betsy and Myfanwy...

It’s time to introduce Dorothy, Betsy and Myfanwy…

What do you think of this post and what do you remember from your first year 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.

Similar posts

Being a dad – celebrating the little things

6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent

7 thoughts from my 7th month as a parent

8 thoughts from my 8th month as a parent

9 thoughts from my 9th month as a parent

10 thoughts from my 10th month as a parent

11 thoughts from my 11th month as a parent

 

I’ve shared this post with the following parent blogger link-ups. Click on the images below to see more posts from fellow parent bloggers:

Football and Paternity leave: what’s the score?

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Football and paternity leaveThe last twelve months have seen plenty of examples of leading sportsmen taking time off to be present when their partner has been about to give birth. Indeed, last summer the golfer Hunter Mahan withdrew from the Canadian Open whilst in the lead in order to be present at the birth of his first child.

On his blog Fathers, Work and Family, Scott Behson has an entire section devoted to stories about baseball players who have taken advantage of the Major League Baseball (MLB) paternity leave policy. As these stories stories have focused on North American sportsmen, I thought that I’d look at what things are like on the other side of the pond here in the UK and pay particular attention to the sport of football (or ‘soccer’ as some of you may know it).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about attitudes to sportspeople who take paternity leave. Here are five things that stand out for me:

 

1. The MLB paternity leave policy is doubtlessly significant within an American context but three days of leave really isn’t all that much. It is certainly a start and I’d applaud baseball for taking a lead that I hope that other sports will follow. However, three days really doesn’t sound like a lot of time at all from my perspective as most men here in the UK are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I really felt that I benefited from being able to take this fortnight off work to be with my wife and our newborn son. If I’d only been able to take three days off, I’d have been going back to work just as my wife was being let out of hospital.

2. Even though most footballers in the UK are technically entitled to two weeks of paternity leave, has anyone actually taken a fortnight off following the birth of a child? I can’t think of any examples of footballers in the UK who have take two weeks of paternity leave. Indeed, reports of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney being given time off by his manager following the birth of his son in 2009 generally appeared to ignore the fact that the UK paternity leave system meant that he could have taken two weeks off rather than the few days that his manager supposedly generously granted him. Indeed, this article from The Daily Telegraph suggests that Rooney’s then manager Alex Ferguson had been intending to rest him for the game that took place shortly after his son’s birth anyway.

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3. Some managers don’t seem to be particularly supportive of their players’ family life as was shown in 2012 when Paul Caddis was relieved of his role as Swindon captain because his manager Paolo Di Canio reportedly thought that fatherhood has resulted in Caddis becoming less enthusiastic about football. In press interviews at the time, Di Canio didn’t always come across as particularly sympathetic and Caddis appeared angry that the consequences of his son’s birth were evoked publicly by his manager. As a dad, I was shocked to see that Caddis was not treated in a more supportive manner by his club and especially the manner in which his then manager talked about matters that could easily have been treated with a much greater amount of sensitivity.

4. However, thankfully some other managers see things more holistically when it comes to acknowledging the importance of players’ family life. In a recent article in the Observer about the role of computer analysis in football, Everton manager Roberto Martinez stated that “football players are football players once a week” and added that “the rest of the time they are human beings and fathers and husbands – data doesn’t give you that”. In a sport featuring big money and high stakes, it was good to see a high profile manager demonstrating an awareness of the importance of players’ lives away from the playing field.

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5. How would fans react to a player taking two weeks of paternity leave at a crucial stage of the season? Despite the fact that some managers are sensitive to the importance of considering their players’ responsibilities as husbands and fathers, I often wonder how they (and fans) would react if a player decided to take paternity leave at a crucial stage of the season that would mean that he would miss several crucial matches. In baseball, the MLB paternity leave policy makes it easier for teams to call up a replacement from within their own ranks. However, I feel that football fans whose team was likely to be without their star player for a big game would probably see a rule that made it easier for them to call upon a lower profile and less experienced replacement as scant consolation.

 

The highest level of professional sport is clearly a world apart from the lives that most us lead. Although the vast sums of money that leading players earn brings a lot of possibilities for them and their families, the demands placed upon them as professional athletes do not make it easy for them to spend as much time with their families as a lot of the rest of us can. Indeed, it is for this reason that Celtic’s Kris Commons decided to stop playing international football for Scotland after an international away match meant that he was several hundred miles away when his young son was admitted to hospital.

The vast majority of football fans would probably, deep down, admit that their family comes before their favourite team. The tragic death of Billy Sharp’s son Luey at only three days old in 2011 brought tributes from supporters of both the team he played for at the time (Doncaster Rovers) and also opposition fans, as is recounted in this article from The Guardian. Sharp has himself created a foundation in order to raise money to fund research into the birth defect that effected his on and support other families who are affected by it.

Despite the evident sensitivity that exists within professional football in the UK when it comes to certain aspects of parenting, it seems that the sport has a long way to go when it comes to supporting fathers and making it easier for them to take paternity leave. We may have more generous paternity leave entitlements that some countries, but it is not necessarily easy for all men to take advantage of these allowances.

 

What do you think about the questions to do with paternity leave that I’ve discussed here? Should more be done to allow sportsmen more time off around the time of the birth of a child? 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 a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel follow ‘Dad’s the way I like it’ via this method and re-pin your favourite posts.

 

I’ve linked this post up with the following parent blog linkies (click on the image to see lots of other posts by parent bloggers):

Father and baby food reviews

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Father and baby food reviews

Forget the Guide Michelin and all the other fancy restaurant guides, this week my soon-to-be year old son and myself are going to review each other’s food. Ever since he did  a guest post giving his perspective on his first ever Christmas, our son has been keen to have another go at doing a blog post. As his touch-typing skills are not quite at the same level as his food throwing schools, we’ve each written half of this post.

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Daddy’s thoughts on baby’s food (1): Apple Rings

Perhaps because my own dad comes from a part of Northern Ireland known as ‘orchard county’, I have a natural affinity with apples, apple juice and almost anything else with apples in it. Apple rings were one of our son’s early favourite foods and chewing away at one of them could keep him happy for quite some time. I also thought they made quite a nice snack, so would often pick up one pack for our son and one myself when I was doing the shopping. Our son doesn’t seem as keen on apple rings now, which I guess means that there’ll be more for me now! Yay!

Baby’s thoughts on daddy’s food (1): blueberries

Well if he’s going to eat my apple rings, then I’m going to tuck into his blueberries! Shortly after I was born, daddy started trying to eat things like Greek yoghurt with pumpkin seeds and blueberries for breakfast. Now I don’t know what pumpkin seeds are like, but I do know that blueberries are pretty great. In fact, they’re the sort of food that no self-respecting baby throws all over the place. Like I do with raisins, these little fruits are something I could happily eat one after another for quite a long time.

"Mummy, that tortilla wrap you're eating smells much nicer than those pumpkin and whatever things"

“Mummy, that tortilla wrap you’re eating smells much nicer than those pumpkin and banana wafers”

Daddy’s thoughts on baby’s food (2): Pumpkin and banana wafers

Apparently these things are supposed to be a tasty form of cracker for small kids to chew on. They tasted a bit more like cardboard dipped in artificial flavouring and colouring. I’d rather eat a beer mat.

Baby’s thoughts on daddy’s food (2): risotto

Daddy is not a big fan of things like risotto or mushroom stroganoff. He says that it’s one of those things that you can’t avoid eating at least one at a two day conference if you’re a vegetarian. Sometimes when he gets back from a work conference, all I hear is “moan, moan, mushroom stroganoff, moan, moan, moan…”. Mummy made me some risotto a few months ago and it was really nice and I really liked being able to eat it with my hands. Maybe daddy should try eating mushroom stroganoff with his hands next time he goes to a conference.

Daddy’s thoughts on baby’s food (3): apple flavoured mini rice cakes

Back when I was younger, there seemed to be just plain rice cakes and these were pretty tasty when spread with things such as jam, honey or marmite. They were also pretty good with melted cheese. Given what I thought of the pumpkin and banana flavoured beer mats (see above), I was a bit sceptical about flavoured rice cakes. I was, however, pleasantly surprised.

Baby's first taste of vegetarian haggis

Baby’s first taste of vegetarian haggis

Baby’s thoughts on daddy’s food (3): vegetarian haggis

As daddy is from Scotland and a vegetarian, he is pretty keen on vegetarian haggis. He talks about it on here quite a lot and even wrote a blog post entitled Will our son like haggis? in which he talked about how keen he was for me to try this supposed delicacy. I can’t say that I was all that taken with it when I first started rubbing my hands into the mashed potato topping and I didn’t even realise that it was proper food. The potato was quite tasty and I really liked the vegetarian haggis mixture too. He may go on about it a bit, but vegetarian haggis is pretty tasty. Yum yum!

"Next time we're in France, can I try one of these please?"

“Next time we’re in France, can I try one of these please?”

Leaving joking aside, I’ve really enjoyed seeing our son gradually become more curious about different sorts of food in the last six months. This seemed to start during a week’s holiday to Brittany (France) back in September of last year. We’ve been doing baby-led weaning and he’s started to become really keen on quite a few different fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, pears and apples (…in addition to blueberries). Trips out to a local tapas restaurant always seem to go down well with our son as he loves trying all the different sorts of fruit and vegetables that accompany the food. Let’s hope that he continues to enjoy all sorts of different foods as he gets older!

What sorts of baby foods do you like eating and what sorts of foods were are (or were) your baby’s favourites? 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 a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel follow ‘Dad’s the way I like it’ via this method and re-pin your favourite posts.

Nominations are now open for the MAD blog awards for UK parent bloggers and I’ve been nominated in the categories Best Baby Blog, Best New Blog and MAD Blog of the year. In each category, only the four blogs with the most votes will make the final shortlist. If you’d like to vote for me, please go to http://www.the-mads.com/vote/ and type in the web address of my blog (https://dadsthewayilikeit.wordpress.com/) in the relevant categories. Thank you!

I’ve linked this post up with the following parent blog linkies:

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Happy World Book Day!

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Happy World Book Day

I’ve always seen books as being special and this post is about why they are important to me now that I am a parentIt’s also about what I feel that we need to celebrate on World Book Day.

My first post on this blog was entitled Read all about it: dad books and preparing for fatherhood. It was about parenting books that are specifically aimed at dads and dads-to-be. I have also written other posts about specific books that have discussed some of the aspects of parenting about which I am passionate. It was a real privilege to be able to interview Ana Flores, one of the co-authors of the book Bilingual is Better, as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club last year. More recently, I have also blogged about reading Bill Richards and Ashley Steel’s book Family on the Loose: the Art of Travelling with Kids and buying some Welsh language joke books in order to entertain our son.

Books have always been important to me, and I talked about why they are particularly important to me now as a parent in December 2013 in a post entitled Babies, Books and Blogging. I have previously explained how they have helped to play an important role in being a bilingual parent, and only last weekend I read a book to our 10 month old son for the first time. It was a Welsh language picture book about a sheep entitled Dilyn Dilys, which means ‘following Dilys’.

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Reading a book to our son for the first time felt like a really special parenting moment, one of what I hope will be many that involve sharing things with our son that he will enjoy. We are really lucky that he has already received several free books as part of schemes to promote bilingualism here in Wales, and that several local libraries run events for parents with small children and babies.

Books can provide a means of understanding the world as well as understanding one’s self, and I talked about this in a blog post that I wrote shortly after the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. As I mentioned, I am from Scotland, have Irish parents and the country of Wales where I now live is a place whose national anthem celebrates its poets. In 2008, the year after I moved to Wales, I went to the Hay Book Festival and really want to return to this eclectic and exciting event again in the future.

Y Babell Len - the literary tent at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

Y Babell Len – the literary tent at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

I have also twice been to Wales’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod), an annual week-long Welsh language cultural festival. At the event in 2009, I saw Y Babell Len (the Literary Tent) as somewhere that was perhaps not worth exploring as I didn’t feel that my Welsh would be good enough. However, I did end up venturing inside as there was a discussion taking place in Welsh about an English language novel by Simon Thirsk entitled Not Quite White. Last year, I was brave enough to venture into the Pabell Len to listen to a panel discussion about e-books and their impact on the Welsh language.

Whilst I do have an e-book reader and a tablet that I use to read e-books, I am also very attached to traditional paperback and hardback books. The physical copy of a book in some ways conveys a greater sense of intrigue or mystique. I have also found that second hand books are often cheaper than electronic copies that it is possible to read on an e-reader.

Our son with one of his current favourite books, the phone book.

Our son with one of his current favourite books, the phone book.

I also really value being able to visit a local bookshop where it is possible to browse and discover new books. We are really fortunate to have a fantastic local bookshop called Palas Print that is well stocked with a wide range of titles in both Welsh and English. The people who work there are always really helpful when it comes to ordering books or suggesting titles when we’re after a present for someone but aren’t quite sure what to get.

Online retailers can offer low prices and quick delivery, but I don’t feel that they will ever be able to fully replicate the pleasure that comes from visiting an actual book shop. For that reason, I’m trying extra hard this year to try to buy as many books as possible from local shops rather than online retailers.

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When it comes to online retailers, I’m also currently trying to use Amazon as little as possible. They may have an excellent range of books and other products, but I really have issues with the methods that they employ in order to try to minimise the tax that they have to pay here in the UK. It was reported last year that they only paid £2.4 million in tax on £4 billion of sales in the UK by virtue of effectively registering Amazon UK as a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-based Amazon EU Sarl. As was reported on the BBC News website,  Amazon has been able to put in place these tax arrangements despite the fact that it employs more than ten times as many people in the UK compared to Luxembourg.

The slogan on the website of our local bookshop is ‘heb ffiniau / without borders’. This is a concept that I associate with trying to make sure that reading is a gift from which everyone can take pleasure.  As our son grows up, I hope that he too will enjoy reading books that broaden his horizons and help him to understand the world around him. I hope that he will grow up in a world where the local bookshop remains present and in which big retailers respond to concerns about how they go about their business.

DISCLAIMER: I have not received or sought any form of sponsorship for mentioning any of the books, organisations or retailers that I discuss in this post.

Did you do anything to mark World Book Day? Are books important to you and/or your family?  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.

Nominations are now open for the MAD blog awards for UK parent bloggers and I’ve been nominated in the categories Best Baby Blog, Best New Blog and MAD Blog of the year. In each category, only the four blogs with the most votes will make the final shortlist. If you’d like to vote for me, please go to http://www.the-mads.com/vote/ and type in the web address of my blog (https://dadsthewayilikeit.wordpress.com/) in the relevant categories. Thank you!

I’ve shared this post with the following parent blog linkies:

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My first St. David’s Day as a dad

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St. David's Day

As last weekend was St. David’s Day, we decided that it’d be nice to go  somewhere to mark this day that celebrates Wales’s patron saint. I’m not sure why, but I just thought it would be fun to go out and have some nice time together and take in some of the events that were going on locally. In a lot of ways, I’m not all that bothered about saints’ days. However, I do like to feel in touch with the traditions that are associated with this land that has become home to me over the last seven years.

Initially, we’d thought of going to a village called Bala where the inhabitants were seeking to establish a world record for the largest ever Welsh cake (…more about these Welsh delicacies later!). I really liked the idea of witnessing this fun challenge, although Bala isn’t always the easiest place to get to. There was a story time for babies event at 10am that sounded great, but it also sounded too early for a Saturday morning given that Bala is over an hour’s drive away from where we live.

Bala is a quaint village of about 3000 inhabitants that I identify with in some ways as a Scotsman as it is located close to a lake (Llyn Tegid) that is reputedly home to Teggie, a Welsh cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. It is, however, not always the easiest place to get to. I remember travelling there via public transport for the National Eisteddfod (a major annual Welsh language cultural festival) in 2009. I went by bus, travelling from Menai Bridge to Bangor, Bangor to Betws, Betws to Corwen and Corwen to Bala. On the way back, I got a bus from Bala to Wrexham, a train from Wrexham to Bangor and then walked from Bangor to Menai Bridge. For those of you to whom that succession of Welsh place names means little, what I did was kind of like travelling from London to New York via the moon.

Llandudno

Llandudno

As it felt like even driving to Bala could turn out to be a bit of a trek, we considered going to Llandudno where a St. David’s Day pancake race was going to be taking place on the sea front. The night before, I was actually considering entering although I wasn’t certain that I would be able to just turn up with a frying pan on the day and compete. I’d have felt a bit silly if we’d travelled all the way to Llandudno with our frying pan only to be told that we needed to have registered in advance and couldn’t register there and then, be given a pancake and then run from the war memorial to the bandstand and back again. Looking back, maybe we should have gone with a frying pan and our own pancake so as we weren’t relying on the organisers to provide the pancake that they had promised all competitors. But if our pancake was different from the organisers’ ones, would that have been an unfair advantage that could have stopped us from competing?

It looks like our son may end up deciding that tomatoes aren't exactly his favourite food...

It looks like our son may end up deciding that tomatoes aren’t exactly his favourite food…

In the end, we didn’t go to either Bala or Llandudno. We eventually made it out to have lunch at a cafe between Bangor and Caernarfon that was due to host a Welsh language St. David’s Day comedy event that evening where people were invited to tell jokes in Welsh for three minutes in order to win a prize and raise money for a local charity. Given that I’ve been reading up on Welsh jokes for kids recently, perhaps I should aim to compete in the future (…I can sense the heckling coming even before completing this sentence!). Our son seemed to enjoy this little trip out and sampling a bit of mummy and daddy’s food, even though he did drop or throw quite a bit of it on the floor.

Caernarfon. The castle is at the end of the street.

Caernarfon. The castle is at the end of the street.

After lunch, we headed to Caernarfon Castle as it was one of several local tourist attractions that was open for free to mark St. David’s Day. I’m not really sure what our son made of Caernarfon Castle, especially as it was a bit wet and cloudy. He did make quite a few happy little noises in the car on the way back home, so I’m guessing that he quite enjoyed it.

In some ways, I did wonder what the point was of doing something to celebrate a day that probably didn’t mean anything to our ten month old son. However, I do hope that he’ll grow up to feel part of the area in which he lives and also find aspects of the local traditions and culture that mean something to him. 

These Welsh cakes may not have broken any records, but they were pretty tasty!

These Welsh cakes may not have broken any records, but they were pretty tasty!

We may not have seen the five foot wide Welsh cake that was made in Bala or witnessed (or participated in) the St. David’s Day pancake race in Llandudno but we did have a nice family day out. Oh, and I made some Welsh cakes myself the next day. Here’s the recipe I used for anyone who’s interested. They may not have been massive record breakers but, like our weekend showed, sometimes it’s the small things that count.

What traditions and cultural events do you like sharing with your family and friends?  Are there any occaions that stand out as being particularly important 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.

Nominations are now open for the MAD blog awards for UK parent bloggers and I’ve been nominated in the categories Best Baby Blog, Best New Blog and MAD Blog of the year. In each category, only the four blogs with the most votes will make the final shortlist. If you’d like to vote for me, please go to http://www.the-mads.com/vote/ and type in the web address of my blog (https://dadsthewayilikeit.wordpress.com/) in the relevant categories. Thank you!

I’ve linked this blog post up with the following parent blog ‘linkies’:

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