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Springtime family fun in North Wales

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Here are some of the places here in North Wales that I’ve most enjoyed visiting in 2016. I’ve got a few more blog posts that I’m planning to write in the coming weeks, and I’m looking forward to sharing more examples of local scenery¬†here in North Wales.

 

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This village is only a few miles from where we live, and we visited it earlier this year as a big steam train was visiting. I keep meaning to drive through it with our sat nav on to see how the electronic device copes with the pronunciation.

 

Llangollen

This three hour round trip at one stage looked like it wouldn’t go well. Our son was very exciting to see and hear Tomos in the distance when we arrived at the car park, but decided the blue train was a bit too noisy and actually wanted to go home again a few minutes after we arrived at the station. Thankfully he changed his mind after we went to do some art and craft activities.

 

Bangor

Our local museum recently had a night of bug themed events for kids, that included a ‘bush tucker trial’ that involved eating this. Thankfully it all tasted a lot nicer than it looked!

 

Cable Bay, Anglesey

We’re really lucky to have so many attractive beaches within easy reach of where we live, including this one on the island of Anglesey.

 

What are your favourite places to visit as a family? ¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views on this post in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô page on¬†Facebook.¬†

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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¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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.

 

 

A Toddler’s Bilingual Christmas

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Toddler's Bilingual Christmas

During the Christmas and New Year holidays it was fun to spend more time with our son and see how his language skills in English and Welsh have been developing. As I mentioned in one of my first posts about bilingualism, my wife speaks to our son in English and I speak to him in Welsh.

While my wife was at a Mindfulness course on one of the last few Saturdays before Christmas, I took our son to a few Christmas events near where we live in North Wales. To start, we went to¬†a butterfly farm on Anglesey where Santa Claus was making a Christmas visit. The fact that we’ve visited this attraction several times in the last few months probably explains why ‘pili pala’ (butterfly) became the first word that our son has said in Welsh before he had come out with the English equivalent.

Our son didn't exactly hit it off with Santa straight away...

Our son didn’t exactly hit it off with Santa straight away…

Our son was a bit scared about going into Santa’s grotto with me and seemed to also be unsure about meeting Santa Claus, despite the fact that this Santa Claus clearly knew me. After having a chat with us¬†in Welsh about Christmas, the bearded gift-giver then asked in Welsh ‘is dad going to be on the radio talking about the football again this afternoon?’. It seems that Mr. S. Claus is a regular spectator at Bangor City, where I regularly provide an online audio commentary on the home games that reaches supporters in far-flung locations such as the USA, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand and southern parts of Wales. I am still trying to work out where and when I’ve talked to this Santa at the football as he certainly dresses differently at Bangor City’s home games.

After our trip to meet Santa and a load of butterflies, our next stop was Caernarfon for a Christmas event being hosted by a fantastic local book store than sells a brilliant range of books in both Welsh and English. All day, there were fun activities for people of all ages. Just after we’d had lunch, we saw a concert by local band Plu who had just released a new Welsh language CD of songs about animals for kids. We now play this song in the car, which adds some welcome variety after the previous car CD of choice featuring a ditty about a ‘dingly dangly scarecrow’ had become¬†a bit repetitive.

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.

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.

After this excitement, our son decided that it was time for a nap rather than a trip to watch our local rugby team. As I have a distinct preference for football (a.k.a. soccer) over rugby, I was pleased to see that he had his priorities right. Last time we went to a football match, he made sure that he got in his nap before the game. When he had woken up again, we headed to the Bangor Christmas market where our son seemed particularly interested in the Christmas lights. However, shortly after pointing towards the festive illuminations he started saying ‘seagull’ in a gesture that demonstrated a greater fascination with local birds that the decorations.

During the Christmas holidays, I was really struck by how rapidly our son’s English vocabulary was expanding. Whilst this was great, I did wonder how long it would be before he started coming out with lots and lots of new words in Welsh (the language that I use when speaking to him). As my wife spends more time with our son during the week and mainly speaks English to him, it’s probably natural that his English vocab seemed to be increasing so noticeably. That said, our son has been able to do quite a good job of pronouncing the LL and CH sounds in Welsh for a few months now!

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn't yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn’t yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

During the Christmas and New Year break, I was really pleased to see our son¬†start to say¬†a few more Welsh words that i hadn’t heard him use before. For a few weeks now, he’s often pointed up to the sky and said ‘moon’ in English after having noticed the moon one afternoon at the local play park. He’s now able to say ‘lleuad’, the somewhat difficult to pronounce Welsh equivalent of moon. While watching Wallace and Gromit’s ‘A Grand Day Out’ just last week, he spent quite a lot of time pointing at the screen saying ‘lleuad’ whilst the plasticine duo explored the moon.

I’ve also had a bit of fun teaching our son¬†new phrases in Welsh over the festive season. On one trip out to a supermarket, I managed to train him to say ‘Si√īn Corn, ho ho ho!’ (‘Santa Claus, ho ho ho!’). It was an afternoon well spent. Every now and again, our son will come out with some Welsh words and phrases spontaneously. Last week when we were in the queue at a book shop, he started saying ‘dafad’ (sheep) and pointing at a calendar which featured pictures of the woolly animals that populate so many of the fields in the area where we live. However, the one of the main language highlights of the holidays was regularly hearing him say ‘nos da, tad’ (‘good night, dad’) on the way¬†to bed.

What languages do you speak with your children? What do you think are the most important things that we can do as parents to boost our children’s language development? Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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‚Äôs also now a¬†Pinterest board¬†for this blog¬†as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you‚Äôve enjoyed reading it.

Want to read more about bilingual parenting? Here are some more posts that I’ve written about this topic:

Being a Bilingual Parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Interview with Ana Flores about ‘Bilingual is Better’

Bilingual Parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a Bilingual Parent in Wales

Being a Bilingual Family in Wales

Tales of a Bilingual Toddler

I have added this post to the following parent blogger link ups:

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 ‘No√ęl’. The novel in question was Azouz Begag’s¬†B√©ni ou le Paradis Priv√©, 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¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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:

Being a bilingual family in Wales

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Being a bilingual family in Wales

Wales’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod) is an annual week-long Welsh language cultural festival that takes place at the start of August. Last year, we went to the event as a family for the first time when our son was three and a half months old. As this year’s Eisteddfod is a bit far to comfortably visit in a day trip, this week I’ll be looking back on last year’s event.

I started learning Welsh in 2007, the year I moved to Wales to begin a job as lecturer in French at Bangor University. After I’d been learning Welsh for just under two years, I went to the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol for the first time when it was in Bala in 2009. I wasn’t sure what it would be like being at a Welsh language event while I was a relative beginner with the language and I was a bit nervous. My nerves weren’t exactly helped when I¬†accidentally knocked¬†over a display stand holding leaflets in the reception area, but I was kindly given help to¬†put the stand together again by a friendly¬†clown who said that it was the stand’s fault.

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The Eisteddfod’s main pavilion

Although I wasn’t able to fully understand everything going on around me at my first Eisteddfod, especially when I went into the main pavilion to see one of the big ceremonies at which a literary prize was being presented, it was great being there. There was a lot of live music and I ended up bumping into quite a few people I knew.

By the time the Eisteddfod was back in North Wales in 2011, my Welsh had improved. During my trip to the 2011 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Wrexham I recorded several interviews for a Welsh language football podcast that I was running at the time. I also managed to understand more of what was going on and went to a few talks.

Last year, when the Eisteddfod was in Denbigh, I visited it with my wife and son.¬†Despite being under four months old, our son seemed to quite enjoy the event even though he thought that some people were clapping too loudly for his liking at some events. He managed to sit through a clog dancing performance but just didn’t like the noise of the applause at the end of it, so we had to leave the tent in which the dance competitions were taking place.

2013-08-07 13.02.55Thankfully, our son was more at home in the large tent of the organisation Twf. Twf’s slogan is ‘two languages from day one’ and they are an organisation who provide support and resources for parents who want to use Welsh with their kids. So far, they have provided us with several free CDs of Welsh nursery rhymes and we’ve been able to attend several of their events in our local area. They also ran a parent and baby Welsh course that my wife was able to attend with our son during his first few months. As a result, she learned a lot of useful phrases to use when talking to babies.

At last year’s Eisteddfod, I was able to attend and understand events where experts were discussing topics like the music industry in Wales and how the Welsh language is being affected by the rise of e-publishing. Although the main language of the Eisteddfod is very much Welsh, it is always visited by quite a lot of people who do not speak Welsh. On several visits, I have seen tourists from a range of different countries. Translation headsets are also available for many of the events that take place in the main pavilion.

Personalized signage for a performer named Allan who is renowned for arriving late. Apparently some think that this is just an exit sign as 'allan' is Welsh for 'out'.

Personalized signage for a performer named Allan who is renowned for arriving late. Apparently some think that this is just an exit sign as ‘allan’ is Welsh for ‘out’.

The Eisteddfod Genedlaethol is a focal point for Welsh language culture and I hope that it’s an event that our son will come to enjoy as he grows up. I hope that he will become confident in both Welsh and English and realise the benefits that come from speaking more than one language and also the range of cultural events that take place in Welsh. There is a national¬†Welsh language television channel and radio station here in Wales and there are many Welsh language plays and¬†music festivals that take place in our local area.

Attending the Eisteddfod has provided me with plenty of reasons to keep on learning Welsh and learning about Welsh culture. Over the last few years I have done several live radio interviews in Welsh. It is also a language that I use almost daily at work, and I have now given several lectures and conference papers in Welsh.

I often think about the crucial issue of language exposure when it comes to bringing up our son bilingually. I speak to him exclusively in Welsh and my wife generally speaks to him in English. As my wife spends more time with him at the moment, I do wonder how this will affect his confidence in Welsh. I’m hoping that the Welsh language events in our area that take place in local libraries and community centres will help to bridge the gap and that we’ll be able to enjoy plenty more trips to the Eisteddfod in years to come.

 

Are you bringing up your kids bilingually? How important do you think it is to speak different languages?¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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.

 

RELATED POSTS

Being a bilingual parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Dad’s first time at baby club

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a bilingual parent in Wales

 

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

Being a bilingual parent in Wales

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I recently appeared on Olena Centeno’s fantastic podcast Bilingual Kids Rock to discuss my experiences of being a bilingual parent. You can listen to the interview if you click on the image below.

 

In the interview, I talk about the Welsh language, how I learned Welsh and why my wife and I are using it to bring up our son. As our son is just over a year old, it’s hard to know how well we’re doing yet as he generally babbles rather than talks. However, I’m sure that there’ll be plenty of fun just round the corner as his speech develops. He’s starting to copy gestures and sounds more and more and I’m sure that he’ll be chattering away before long.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about¬†listing to the Bilingual Kids Rock podcast has been hearing the range of different ways fellow parents and parent bloggers have gone about raising their kids bilingually. There have been so many different languages, methods and issues discussed in the fifteen episodes that have been recorded so far.

I’ve talked about bilingual parenting here on this blog quite a few times, so here’s a list of some posts that you might want to read if this is a subject that interests you:

Being a bilingual parent Рread about how I went about learning Welsh and why my wife and I decided to raise our son using both Welsh and English.

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent – discover the different sorts of resources out there that can be helpful if you’re bringing up children bilingually.

Interview with Ana Flores about Bilingual is Better Рread my interview with Ana Flores, one of the authors of the great book about bilingual parenting Bilingual is Better.

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes – as I take the ability to tell dad jokes seriously, bringing up our son using Welsh as well as English has meant that I’ve had to learn dad jokes in Welsh as well as English.

I’ll be doing some more posts about being a bilingual parent in the next few months, so remember to subscribe to this blog so as you don’t miss them!

 

Please¬†feel free to share your views about this post in¬†the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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 free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

I’ve added this blog post to the following parent blog link ups where you can read lots more posts by fellow parent bloggers:

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¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô 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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