The Treadmill

So…I’ve bought a treadmill.

Ellie, ever observant, noticed this – probably because Jake was standing on it at the time – and asked me “Daddy, why have you got that – ” Me: “treadmill?” “yes: ‘treadmill’?”

I actually have this slightly mad idea of using it as I play my favourite Xbox game, Skyrim, so that I walk as my character does, run when he does, & sit down in the Inn and drink ale as – well, actually I probably do enough of that already, & that’s probably why I need the thing in the first place…

I was explaining to her what a treadmill does and why I need it. I believe the words “big fat belly” may have been used, again. Possibly.

Her response took me by surprise.

“But daddy, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it matters that you’re kind”.

Wise words for a 5-year-old, and definitely a Magic Moment!

Although I do need to lose weight (as well?) 🙂

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Jump on it!

Who remembers space hoppers?! (It’s OK; you don’t have to admit it if you don’t want to.) 

The good news for those of us who do – whether we’ll admit it or not – is that they seem to be making a comeback!

And for those who don’t – read on! (Hint: they’re great.)

I was delighted to receive from the fine people at confused.com not 1 but 2 great space hoppers – complete with natty pumps –  as part of their #Jumponit campaign.

Jake and Ellie were very excited about this, and also were determined, as ever, to do as much as they could themselves.

So, first step: Pump it up!

It was fun! but then we had a bit of a surprise:

Even so, we were pumped and ready to go, so there was nothing else for it but to head out & test-drive our new bouncy toys!
Fair warning: some of this was filmed by a 5-year-old boy. He did his best…)

I love how Jake tried to make his hopper smaller by trying to let some air out! And I’d forgotten just how much fun a good bounce in a space-hopper is!

Also: I’d like to point out, please, that there was a storm here the night before. My garden is messier than usual, honest…

As you can see we had a lot of fun, thanks to confused.com: Jump on it!

LIke Father, Like…

Recently I’ve been writing fan fiction on a gaming site dedicated to my f’avourite ‘video game’, although it’s recently expanded: ‘The Tamriel Vault‘ (formerly ‘The Skyrim Blog’) if you’re interested.

I told Jake and Ellie that I’d been “writing on the Internet, about a game I like to play” and Jake insisted on doing it too.

Here is his story, almost verbatim as he dictated it to me, and with almost no prompting. The italics are my additions.

Personally I think it’s adorable!

I am Jake and I made this story.

I don’t play Minecraft very often. So I play all different games on the Xbox.

I play the ice game (Polar Panic), Mickey Mouse games, Fable 3, Sonic Boom, racing games.

I don’t often play this one but I do play it and it’s called Faery batman.

We do lots of fighting in Fable.

And in the ice one we do lots of pushing ice at bad guys.

In the Mickey Mouse games there’s lots of magic and puzzles and they confuse you.

He’s always insisted that it’s not finished so we may add to it later!

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My Sunday Photo: Horsing Around!

 

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It may not be immediately obvious from this photo, but this is from Jake & Ellie’s first horse-riding session!

We have been taking them to dance (ballet & tap), gym & music classes. They went over the age limit for Monkey Music, they seemed a bit bored with the gym classes as they didn’t seem challenging enough, & although Ellie enjoyed the dancing Jake seemed less keen.

So when they turned 5 we decided that they were old enough to decide what they wanted to do, rather than what we thought they should do.

Jake chose Tae-Kwon-Do! I’m not sure how we found out about it, but there’s a great session at our local YMCA, & they’re both loving it. (There’s a funny story about that: ask me later…)

Ellie was mad to do horse-riding. So we did.

It was great! Sadly my ‘phone’s battery ran out just before they got on their horses, so I couldn’t get any more photos.

It took a long time to get going, which is OK as you’re dealing with animals & you have to get the health & safety right. Then they all lined up in the field on their magnificent ponies, our 2 first-timers especially looking very pleased with themselves.

We thought they’d just plod around the field, but they took to the streets! They all rode around country lanes for nearly an hour, & even broke into a trot!

Jake & Ellie both loved it; they were so happy when they came back!

We’re definitely planning to it again; the main problem of course is that it’s not cheap. Great fun though 🙂

From the Mouths of Babes and Infants…

It was a difficult time, for all of us, when Ellie was so sick & in hospital with her nasty infected chickenpox.

The Mummy was talking to her about it, saying “It was really hard seeing you so sick in hospital, Ellie”

She straight-away replied: “But Mummy, remember the fun we had in the playroom there”.

Wow.

Such wisdom from a 4-year-old!

We can definitely learn a lot from even very young children 🙂

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Related: The Story Behind the Photo

Magic

Sharing in the pure excitement, the joie de vivre, that Jake especially shows when he discovers a great new toy.

Magic.

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The look of ecstasy & elation when I compliment Ellie on her art, & tell her “You’re an Artist, Ellie!” as she responds” Really?! I could be an Artist, as a grown-up?!”

Magic.

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A parrot, & a mermaid in the sea: by Ellie (with some finishing touches by Daddy)

Jake repeatedly telling me: “I love you Daddy. You’re the best Daddy in the world. You’ll always be the best Daddy in the world.”

Magic.

Watching both of them grow, develop & mature, in so many ways.

Magic.

Hands-on, devoted parenting is really hard work, especially – if I may say so – with active, outgoing boy-girl twins.

But these Magic Moments are the pay-off: what all the hard work is for, when you realise it’s all been worth it: raising these two adorable, capable, wonderful children who I love so very much & who love me in return.

Magic. Pure Magic.

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Fashionable Dad Gear: A Must for Every Dad

OK, so what’s the latest in dad gear? What does every father need… and simply cannot do without? Let’s start with the basics…a diaper bag (or tote) for one, a wallet, comfortable clothes and shoes for keeping up with his kids… and a great watch to top it all off. Moreover, if they happen to look cool, that’s much better. Here is a list of six ‘must haves’ for every dad.

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One – A Great Watch

Sure, your smartphone can give you the proper time. However, when you’re busy running around, trying to get the kids to school on time (or to that last-minute appointment) a watch is really handy.  Why not invest in a quality watch that will last. From the day they start school, until they march across the stage at graduation, you can wear the same smart style. Michael Hill Jewellers is a great example for classic watches like these that stand the test of time.

Two – A Wallet

Another place to make a sensible investment is in a durable wallet. Find one that clips on for extra security. Separate compartments for sorting bills and credit cards also help. Moreover, if the wallet happens to have a section for pictures of the kids…traditional and perfect!

Three – A Tote (Diaper) Bag

Men’s tote bags have taken over the old-school briefcase, (and they don’t have to look like purses). They hold many of the necessities that just can’t be packed into an attaché case. Take diapers, gym shoes, your son’s favourite blanket, extra clothes, biscuits and bottles. Now you can look cool and still carry around everything you might need! Who knows, there may still be room for a laptop!

Four – Good Looking Shoes

Before the children came along, shoes had a completely different meaning. Today you can get the comfort that you need in some truly awesome styles. Just because you’re a dad, doesn’t mean that you can’t be fashionable. From low cut boots and loafers, to dress shoes with extra support, there’s almost no limit to great looks for men (and happening dads). They best part… they can help you keep up with the children!

Five – Comfortable Trousers (and Shirts)

The fashion focus is on men, and the choices are better than ever. So, when it’s time to leave the sweatpants at home, you can go out in style. From jeans and chinos to dress pants, relaxed chic is perfect for any occasion. Pair up any number of hot colours… blue, brown, beige with a button down shirt, jumper or polo shirt and you’re out the door and ready to rock. What’s more, today’s stylish dads really can’t own too many shirts!

Six – Sweaters and Jackets

Sweaters are back and jackets are here with retro style. They’re the perfect add-on to any fashionable outfit. With so much rushing around, from here to there and back… it never hurts to carry along something to pull on, when the weather shifts. Pull on a hat, some shades, and carry a raincoat. Now you’re set for just about anything.

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The secret to being a trendy dad is being prepared. Raising kids is full of surprises, yet when you’ve got just about every situation covered, you can relax and enjoy the ride!

Written in collaboration with MichaelHill.com

Before and After

I’ve been unhappy for some time with the way Jake & Ellie’s toys are stored in the small space I have available. My solution was to buy some IKEA shelves & boxes; then I saw how a friend, a childminder, stored her many toys & games.

She mostly used shelves, that way nearly everything was visible & available.

As with most things in their lives I don’t like to dictate what they do; I like to give them as much choice as I can. It also helps me to be able to find toys when I need to.

So I had a tidy up!
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The Saga of the Climbing Frame

Our intentions were good.

For Jake & Ellie’s birthday – back in early March – we bought them a fantastic climbing frame. We thought they’d love it!

Unfortunately we hadn’t quite thought it through…

The garden in the new house is a good size but when we looked at the space the thing needed we realised that it just wasn’t big enough!

At first we thought we’d have to knock down the very useful shed & rip out most of the beautiful flower garden just to fit it in!

After a lot of head-scratching & measuring with bits of string we finally found  a place it could go without too much damage, leaving both the shed & the flowers intact. We just needed to have a lot of the paving & a small tree ripped out & replaced with turf.

Then – almost inevitably –  we had many problems finding a contractor to do the work. It must have been about half a dozen of them who looked at the work, said they’d get back in touch – then didn’t.

Finally I found a good guy who could do the work at a reasonable price. He said he would talk to us before starting work: he didn’t! Instead he let himself in while no-one was there & ripped out ALL of the paving, not just the bits we wanted taken out! He took out, for instance, the back patio we use for eating outside, the area outside the side door, & a border we wanted left in.

We came back to a garden that looked like a bombsite: my wife was devastated! All the paving stones had been ripped out & put into big piles that looked like slag-heaps!

In the doom & gloom, cue Mr Brightside!

Jake noticed that one brick had been left sitting all by itself in the middle of the Plain of Desolation, and said:

“Well, at least he still left one.”

Fantastic! We all laughed: what a great way of lifting the edge off of a sad situation!

Sometime it needs the innocent & happy outlook of a small child to give us jaded grown-ups some perspective!

1-DSCN1000Happily the contractor came back promptly & was able to restore the paving he took out in error, & install the turf. The garden now looks great & we hope to have the shiny new climbing frame up & running very soon!

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Wot So Funee?