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A toddler’s Christmas in Wales

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A Toddler's Christmas in Wales

As a child, I generally spent Christmas in Scotland with my parents and sometimes we went to see family in Ireland over the festive season. We also spent Christmas 1982 in California as we lived in San Jose from 1982-1983. As our son’s only 19 months old, we haven’t really got into a Christmas routine yet as last year was his first Christmas. Indeed, he was kind enough to write me a blog post about what it was like.

At the age of only 8 months old, our son was kind enough to write a blog post about his first Christmas...

At the age of only 8 months old, our son was kind enough to write a blog post about his first Christmas…

Last year, we went to the south east of England to spend Christmas with about twenty members of my wife’s family. This year, we’ve decided to do things slightly differently. We moved to a new house just over three months ago and have decided to invite my parents and my wife’s parents to spend Christmas with us here in Wales as we now have a bit more space. The local area is rural and quite hilly and I’d go as far as saying that it can almost look like Narnia when it snows.

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I’d really like there to be snow this year as our son is yet to have his first experience of walking in snow or building a snowman. That said, wet weather will be good too as I know that Santa Claus thinks that it helps his rain-deer. As you may have guessed from the last sentence, I’m quite keen on the British tradition of telling corny jokes at Christmas. In fact, I talked about this last year in a post entitled 5 things I like about Christmas in the UK.

In a lot ways, we probably don’t always have a very traditional British Christmas as my wife, son and I are vegetarian. Instead of having turkey, we often make a spicy nut roast with tomato chilli gravy. We do have the traditional roast potatoes and brussel sprouts, but I quite like to stir fry the sprouts with soy sauce, chilli and paneer (an Indian form of cheese). At work last year, my colleagues collectively decided to forego a traditional Christmas meal for our end of term evening out and instead had a fantastic Chinese buffet. Consequently, we had fortune cookies rather than Christmas crackers. As it happens, we’re going back to the same place for our pre-Christmas outing again this year.

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Our son has already been getting into the Christmas spirit and has been enjoying wearing his two Christmas jumpers. We actually let him wear them before December had started as we went to a Christmas market about ten days ago in the nearby town of Llandudno. Doing anything to mark Christmas before it’s actually December, such as putting up decorations, doesn’t really feel right but it was fun to take him out to the market.

As it happens, some of the students that I teach at university were talking a few weeks ago about how they found it irritating to see decorations up while it was still November. I had to break it gently to them that we were about to study a book whose first word was ‘Noël’. The novel in question was Azouz Begag’s Béni ou le Paradis Privé, which tells the story of boy who is born in Lyon to Algerian parents. The opening sees the boy talk in a jovial manner about his experiences of being from a Muslim family in France in the weeks before Christmas. As part of this revolves around the boy wanting his parents to get a Christmas tree, I decided to deliver the first class about the novel with a miniature Christmas tree and Father Christmas on the desk at the front of the classroom. It was still November, but I think my students let me get away with it.

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Whatever you are doing to mark Christmas this year, and even if you’re not, I’d like to wish everyone reading this a great end to 2014 and a fantastic 2015.

I’ve written this post as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series ‘Christmas in Different Lands’. Click on this link if you would like to read more posts by parent bloggers about Christmas around the world.

What did you think of this blog post and what did you and your family enjoy most about Christmas?  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:

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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5 things I like about Christmas in the UK

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In this post, I’m going to talk about the little things about Christmas in the UK that I cherish most. Some of them may be quite well known, while others are not. Indeed, the first item on my list is something that I wasn’t aware of until this year. This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series being run by Multicultural Kid Blogs.

The height of festive fashion in the UK!

The height of festive fashion in the UK!

1. Christmas Jumper Day

In recent years, it has become ‘in’ to own and wear a Christmas jumper. These sweaters typically portray a winter scene (e.g. snow coming down on a hillside) or feature pictures of Santa Claus, reindeer or penguins. They are a bit retro and kitsch, but they have apparently somehow gained a sort of coolness. My wife has some cousins who always go to a local pub on Christmas day where they compete against another family to see who can wear the most tasteless Christmas jumper.

At our work Christmas meal this year, at which I was wearing the highly tasteful Christmas jumper pictured on the left, one of my colleagues mentioned that there is now an annual Christmas Jumper Day. This year it fell on Friday 13th December. The idea is that schools, colleges and workplaces encourage people to wear a Christmas jumper on the day and donate at least £1 to Save the Children, a charity that seeks to promote children’s health and education around the world. I think it’s great to have this sort of event that encourages people to give something that can really make a difference to people who are in poverty or facing other hardships (…which reminds me that I have a bag of old clothes and DVDs that I need to take to a local charity shop).

 

2. Christmas crackers and Christmas cracker jokes

Pulling Christmas crackers before tucking into a festive meal, especially lunch on Christmas Day, is a bit of a tradition here in Britain. Christmas crackers are made of cardboard tubes wrapped in shiny paper. One person pulls on each end, and the crackers snap making a small bang due to a thin paper banger inside them. When they break, the person who ends up with the larger part of the cracker gets to keep the contents (typically a paper crown, a joke that they have to read out and a small novelty or toy).

Christmas crackers are renowned for containing jokes that some people see as not being of a particularly high quality. I quite like these and have been tweeting a Christmas cracker joke on Twitter (@j_ervine) every day during the month of December using the hashtag #ChristmasCrackerJokes. Here are a few of my favourites:

What did Santa say to the smoker? Please don’t smoke, it’s bad for my elf!

What do angry mice send each other in December? Cross mouse cards!

What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees? Horn-aments!

You’re probably all groaning as much as laughing, but I do enjoy these jokes from time to time. Christmas jokes are generally fairly predictably bad, but there’s something about them that I can’t quite put my finger on that I really like about them. If you want to hear a few more festive rib-ticklers, click on this link.

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales

3. Watching A Child’s Christmas in Wales

I’ve heard quite a few discussions about favourite Christmas films recently. For me, a 1980s telefilm called A Child’s Christmas in Wales tops the list. I remember watching it on television during Christmas 1988 with my parents and the charm of the adventures based on Dylan Thomas’s short story of the same name in which what happens at Christmas is told from the innocent and somewhat romanticized perspective of a child. In the telefilm, a grandad played by the actor Denholm Elliott tells his grandson about his memoires of Christmas time back when he was growing up.

For years, we relied on an old VHS recording of the 1989 television broadcast of A Child’s Christmas in Wales but last year I managed to get hold of a DVD copy. It’s impossible to find a UK DVD version, but the fact that the telefilm was a Welsh-Canadian co-production means that a North American DVD version exists. Last year, I watched the DVD as my wife and I geared up for what was my first ever Christmas in Wales since moving to work here in 2007.

4. Being a vegetarian and the culinary freedom it brings

For many people in the UK, a turkey is the centre-piece of the main Christmas meal that is eaten at lunchtime on December 25th. However, this is something that I have never tasted as I was brought up as a vegetarian and remain one today. I like the freedom to pick and choose a bit more when it comes to the Christmas menu without feeling the need to be traditional. Vegetarian Christmas dishes that I have enjoyed eating include a vegetable pine nut roulade that my mum used to make on a regular basis.

Nut roast is another vegetarian festive classic although I feel that it can sometimes be a bit bland. For that reason, I quite like Masala Nut Roast which includes quite a few spices as well as the nuts and vegetables. Last year, when my wife and I were hosting both sets of parents, we made Masala Nut Roast and served it with a spicy tomato gravy, roast potatoes and a stir-fried Brussels sprout and tofu side dish. Sprouts are a very traditional – it not universally popular – Christmas vegetable in the UK. They really benefited from being sliced and stir-fried in this recipe that also includes mushrooms, tofu and chilli sauce.

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Plum pudding

5. Good company and good food

I guess that this last point is not really UK-specific at all, but it is certainly the most important. In a lot of ways, what I enjoy most about Christmas is relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Even though I may now be in my mid-30s, I still do get a sense of excitement about Christmas and I really enjoy some of the special foods such as Plum Pudding and Christmas Cake.

This year will be my first since becoming a parent in April and my wife and I will be staying with her relatives in the south east of England and introducing our 8 month old son to many of them for the first time. I was thinking that he’s bound to be happy as long as he can play with the wrapping paper, but a recent post on The Ugly Volvo blog humorously suggested that there are a lot of other things that babies of this sort of age really want to get their hands on at Christmas. I’m not entirely sure what to expect but I’m looking forward to it all and am sure that it will be special!

What did you think of this post and what do you like most about celebrating Christmas? 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+.

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 – here’s the link to its pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740284268/

It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling

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I recently discovered that it is now International Baby Wearing Week, which runs from 7-13th October this year. As we’re both keen on wearing slings, my wife and I decided to go on a little excursion last weekend to a town called Sling that happens to be a mere ten minute drive away from where we live in North Wales. It may not be renowned as the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch that is only a few minutes further away on the island of Anglesey and certainly doesn’t attract bus loads of tourists who queue up to have their picture taken next to the sign on the platform of its small railway station, but we ventured to Sling ourselves to take photos of our son in his sling next to the solitary sign in the village bearing the name Sling. My wife has now also done blog post about Sling and slings at her blog Mindful Mam.

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As it happens, my wife and I were able to put him in a different sling for our photos as we have quite a few. Some of these we have bought from eBay and we have bought others new over the web. It’s been great to be able to try out slings that we’ve been lent by friends before deciding to buy, and my wife has been to a sling library in Colwyn Bay. For my part, I am a proud member of the UK Sling Dads group on Facebook and have enjoyed carrying our son in a variety of different carriers ever since he was a few weeks old. It used to be that he’d go to sleep almost instantly when we popped him into a carrier, opened the front door and walked only a few footsteps.

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I’ve always loved the way our son, who is almost six months old, is able to look around when he’s in the sling and also feels close by. It’d feel odd to me just pushing him about in a buggy and not being able to look at him. I’d miss not being able to make the silly faces at him for a start. I also feel that carrying our son in a sling has also helped to create a stronger father-son bond. It was really cute when he was a few days old and would just go to sleep on people and it still is when he gently nods off while he’s in one of his slings when we’re carrying him. I have, however, learnt that it’s often a good idea to put the sling on before a coat as it can be a challenge coming back home with him asleep and trying to take my coat off without waking him up. In fact, it’s kind of like playing the kids’ game Buckaroo.

On a recent trip to France that I have mentioned in a previous blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday, we didn’t see many other people carrying their kids in slings. In fact, I think that we only saw three and one of those was in a shop that sold eco baby products such as slings. This started me wondering what attitudes towards sling wearing were like in different countries round the world, and I’ve been able to discuss this with fellow members of the great Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook. Here are some of the insights that fellow bloggers provided:

  • Stephen Greene (Head of the Heard) told me that slings and other baby carriers are very practical in Brazil as the condition of pavements in certain areas means that using a buggy is more or less impossible.
  • Kim Siegal (Mama Mzungu) has done a great blog post about the impracticality of using a normal buggy if you live in Kenya and also talked about how wearing a baby in a sling on one’s front as opposed to one’s back can result in strange looks from locals.
  • Sandra Amorin (BXL Sprout) observed that carrying babies in slings in Belgium is a bit of a middle class thing, also adding that slings were not very common at all in Portugal and that carrying a baby in one can be something about which passers-by comment out of inquisitiveness.
  • Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki (Maroc Mama) contrastingly pointed out that it is very common to see babies being carried in slings in Morocco and that strollers are a rarity.
  • Annabelle Humanes (Piri Piri Lexicon) backed up my initial impression that slings are a bit of a rarity in France and told of how a male relative had to put up with quite a few judgmental remarks when carrying his daughter in a sling.
  • Sarah-Jane Begonja (Chasing the Donkey) went as far as saying that she had never seen anyone carrying a baby in a sling in Croatia and received strange looks when doing so herself, adding that there seems to be a bit of a national obsession with fancy prams.
  • Souad Guex (Babelkid) used to run a babywearing consultancy and blogged about sling wearing while doing so. For Souad, who became the first trained babywearing consultant in the UK, babywearing is ‘the second most important parenting tool after breastfeeding’.

One thing that I’ve noticed here in the UK is that whilst I have seen other men also wearing their kids in slings, there aren’t all that many. Nevertheless, when my wife went to our village supermarket the man behind the till started talking about how he and his wife also carried their baby in a sling and thought that it was great. I remember feeling slightly self-conscious the first time that I went out on my own with my son in a baby carrier, mainly because I’d never seen any men carrying a baby in a sling in our village before. When my wife and I were at a music festival (at which our son was wearing his very cute looking ear protectors) I noticed a few people smiling and pointing as I walked around with our son in a sling. At the time, I couldn’t work out whether it was because he looked cute with his ear protectors on or because they thought I looked silly. It felt a bit weird in some ways, but this was probably because I’m kind of shy more than anything else.

As the weeks go by, I wonder how many slings and baby carriers we will ultimately accumulate. As it happens, my wife said that a new sling that she’d seen on the internet (a sort of woven wrap that she will be able use to make both a wrap and a ring sling or a bag) is what she would really like for her birthday this month. As it happens the sling that she has her heart set on is a second hand sling that is in excellent condition, which may mean that I’m able to successfully participate in the ‘October: Buy Nothing New Month’ initiative that Ute Limacher-Riebold recently described in a post on her blog Expat Since Birth. As to when we’ll stop getting new baby carriers, it’ll probably be when we discover one that can be described as the….

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What did you think of this article? What is your view on baby carrying and slings? I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘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.

I have linked this post up with the Something for the Weekend blog post linky run by parent bloggers Sarah Miles (The Voice of Sarah Miles) and Tom Briggs (Diary of the Dad).

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

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Last week, I started reading Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book Bilingual is Better as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs book club. In the foreword, Jeanette Kaplun mentioned that the likes of apps and the internet are resources that were not available to today’s parents when they were children. Apps and the internet have been a part of being parents for my wife and me, and were also a part of preparing to be parents. During labour, for example, I used an app to keep tabs on the frequency and duration of her contractions. In the first few days after our son’s birth, I regularly used my smartphone take photos of him and send them to my parents and in-laws. We also regularly use Skype to have video calls with our parents, which is great as they live several hundred miles away.

247227_10150268849931327_3851991_nUsing apps is something that is relatively new to me as I bought my first smartphone last year, a matter of weeks before I found out that my wife and I were going to become parents. I think that the only things that I downloaded to my previous fairly basic phone were Tetris and an app that turned my phone into a torch (…which was handy when I went out to check that our two chickens were back in their house just before going to bed).

As I’ve mentioned before in a post entitled Being a Bilingual Parent, my wife and I are bringing up our son bilingually in English and Welsh. Although I’m from Scotland and didn’t speak a word of Welsh just over six years ago, it’s become a language that is part of my life both at work and away from work. I use apps that allow me to look up Welsh words that I don’t understand (or translate words from English to Welsh) and make it easier to text in Welsh. My smartphone has also helped to expose our son to the Welsh language. He has two CDs of Welsh language nursery rhymes and I’ve copied them to my phone so as I can try to learn some of the words myself as I didn’t grow up with Welsh language nursery rhymes. Thankfully I haven’t started singing along out loud on the bus to work yet! However, playing some of these tunes via my smartphone once helped to stop our son crying at about 3am when he was only a few weeks old.

DSCF1787When it comes to making our son aware of other countries and cultures as he grows up, I’m sure that the internet and apps will play a role alongside books and films. I recently read an inspiring post on this topic by Ashley Steel entitled Visiting India the Virtual Way. Given that my wife and I absolutely love Indian food, our son will probably get to know about curries fairly quickly. When I was teaching English in Lille (France) from 2002 to 2004, I used to travel back to Leeds several times a year to see my MA supervisor at Leeds University. I’d always try to organise my journey so that I’d have sufficient time between arriving at the Eurostar terminal in London and getting the train to Leeds in order to go for lunch at a fantastic Indian vegetarian restaurant that is five minutes away from Euston Station. Their lunchtime buffet is absolutely amazing and always features a colourful and mouthwatering selection of dishes.

Because I lived in France for three years and have taught French to students for almost a decade now, I have thought about teaching my son to speak the language as well. We recently visited the country for the first time since becoming parents, as I described in a recent blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday. Although I spend a lot of my working week teaching students about the French language and culture, I haven’t really thought much about how and when to introduce the language with our son. We’re already bringing him up using two languages, and we’re a bit wary of throwing too many languages at him all at once. I know lots about apps and websites where it’s possible to watch French language television programmes online, but know next to nothing about apps, websites and other resources that are good if you’re trying to teach French to a young child. I’ve taught English to primary school age children in France, including during a holiday camp where they did several activities connected to my native Scotland (baking shortbread, drawing the Loch Ness Monster, Scottish country dancing), but have never taught French to kids of a similar age. If anyone has any suggestions for resources that are useful for teaching French to very young kids, I’d love to hear from them!

The types of technologies that people use as parents and in other contexts are certainly changing, but I sometimes wonder if what they are being used for is really changing all that much. Last week, I gave a lecture about the early days of cinema in which I talked about the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès. Despite the difference of medium, there seemed to be some quirky parallels between certain aspects of this very early cinema and more contemporary television and new media. One of the 1890s Lumière brothers films that I showed was entitled Déjeuner du chat (literrally, ‘Cat’s breakfast’) and it seemed appropriate that I was showing it to the students via YouTube given that so many people nowadays seem to share or watch videos of cats doing amusing things on sites such as YouTube.

What we see happening in the cinematic pioneers’ film L’Arroseur arrosé (1897, often translated as ‘The Sprinkler Sprinkled’) are precisely the sort of antics that feature of home video clips and out-takes shows such as the UK’s You’ve Been Framed. Maybe it’s a case of plus ça change plus ça reste la même chose…

I’d love to hear your views on this post and the topics that I’ve discussed here, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘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.

I’ve written this post as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs October Blogging Carnival about using media to raise multicultural children that is being hosted by Olga Mecking, who blogs at The European Mama.

I’ve also linked this post up with the Best4Future Wednesday Link-Up.

 

 

Why I’ve become a dad blogger

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My proofreading assistant

This article is an updated version of a guest post that I wrote for on James Tew’s blog Raising3daughters.

It seems like not long ago that I was reading an article about the growing number of dad bloggers in the UK. Within little over a week, I too had joined the craze and set up a blog entitled Dad’s the way I like it. I didn’t set up my blog because I thought that I had something to offer that was better and different from all the other blogs out there, but rather that I’d seen that there was an exciting dialogue going on and I wanted to participate in it.

Since becoming a dad in April of this year, and indeed in the months just before that, I’d thought a lot about what it meant to be a dad and how dads are represented in the media. I wanted to share my views on both of these issues and also talk about my own experiences of fatherhood.

Setting up the blog on WordPress before I’d even started to write my first post was in many ways the most challenging part as I spent ages trying out all sorts of different colour schemes. Selecting a name for the blog was almost as challenging as trying to decide upon one for our son. It was, however, a bit different as I decided that I’d not wait to see what my blog was like before giving it a name and our son’s names don’t form a slightly corny sounding pun.

My first post was about preparing for fatherhood and the books that I’d read about this while my wife was pregnant with our son. It certainly wasn’t read by massive numbers of people, but I was pleased to just get it out there and get my blog up and running.

Since my first post, I have blogged about topics such as representations of dads on televisionmy experience of paternity leave and the ‘blue for boys, pink for girls‘ mentality. In recent weeks, I have also talked about what happiness means to me as a parent and why I think that dads have an important role to play when it comes to supporting breastfeeding. I have deliberately tried to strike a balance between giving my views of topics to do with representations of dads and parenting and talking about my own experiences.

One of the most satisfying aspects of running the blog has been interacting with fellow bloggers and interacting and parents from around the world. Over the last few weeks, I have had discussions with parents who live in the UK, US, Australia, the Netherlands, Brazil and Singapore. As we’re bringing up our son bilingually using English and Welsh (as I discussed in a recent post), it’s been great to share experiences with other bilingual parents. The Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook has been a great source of interesting ideas and posts from fellow bloggers from around the world – here’s a link to their website.

What I have found is that there’s a lot of solidarity among blogging parent bloggers, even if understandably there is not always agreement on all aspects of parenting. It’s been fascinating sharing different perspectives via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in addition to discussing things on the blog itself.

There are so many groups for dads or parents who blog on Facebook and Google+ and I’ve particularly enjoyed being part of the Dad Bloggers Facebook group. This group is great for sharing posts, discussing fatherhood and issues to do with running a blog. Although I blog about being a dad and initially mainly interacted with fellow dad bloggers, I’ve enjoyed being part of groups that include dad and mum bloggers in recent weeks. I really like the way that the Parent Bloggers Network holds Twitter chats on specific topics on Sunday evenings from 9-10pm UK time (see @pbloggers and search for posts tagged with the #pbloggers hashtag).

One of the main challenges with blogging that I have encountered is striking a balance between posting regularly and not spending too much time posting and reading other blogs. I’d initially planned to do one post at the weekend and another one mid-week, but have decided to stick to one a week so as not to give myself too much to do on top of a full-time job and spending as much time as possible out of work just being a dad and husband.

Another reason that I’ve decided to stick to doing just the one blog post a week is that I keep on discovering so many other dad and parenting blogs that I want to read. Some of these are fairly general, whilst others focus on more specific issues such as work-life balance or bilingualism and parenting.

As our son is just under four months old and this blog is about half that age, I’m clearly fairly new to both parenting and blogging and feel that I still have a lot to learn about both. I wouldn’t say that I feel that blogging about parenting necessarily makes me or anyone else a better parent, but I would say that it has helped me to think about what it means to be a parent and what is important in life.

If you are also a parent blogger, why did you set up your blog? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below. There’s also a dialogue going on at the pBloggers network about why people start parent blogs, so why not participate in that as well. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘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.

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