Father, Son

Lately I’ve been listening to the music of Peter Gabriel.

No bad thing: the man’s been making incredible, innovative music for the best part of half a century.

Genius? I think so.

This is one of his newer songs and one I’d not heard until recently.

It’s a grower: the more I played it the more I loved it.

And now I really love it.

I find it, & the video (directed by Gabriel’s daughter), very moving.

If my son, & of course daughter, grow up to feel the same respect & love that this man does for his Dad then my life will have been worth living.

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Our First Festival!

On Sunday we took Jake & Ellie to their first festival! Sort of…

The Big Welsh Bite, in Pontypridd.

The weather could have been better…

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Jake & Ellie didn’t seem to mind at all; certainly a lot less than I did!

After buying them some juice & the biggest chocolate brownies they had ever seen we ventured out!

There were rumours of a children’s face-painter across the way; when I tracked down their location I found they’d given up & gone home…

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We did however find a working carousel, which they really enjoyed! It was the first, & possibly only, time it had been used all day.

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After my being forced into buying them each a plastic sword filled with fake Smarties we headed back to the comfort of our tent.

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It was “our tent” because the Mummy was there manning a stall for a charity she’s involved with, PONT: building a ‘Bridge’ between Rhondda Cynon Taf and Mbale in Uganda. It’s a terrific project & one we’re delighted to be involved with.

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I’d been tipped off that there was a harpist singing & playing for the children, & sure enough it was true! After a little sing-song where Jallie & others sang along & added percussion they were given a chance to have a go on a harp themselves.

As you can probably see they loved it!

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Rain, mud, strange food & drink, an adventure or 2, tents, music, enjoying ourselves despite the weather – a typically British festival, and hopefully the first of many!

The Gallery: Drink (Pretty in Pink)

Have I got you singing now? I hope so!

That song is a big ‘ear-worm’ with me. Every time I hear the phrase: bang! There it  is, stuck in my head.

“But what the Furs has that got to do with drink? Isn’t that what this silly post is supposed to be about anyway? Get on with it, man!” I hear you cry. Or words to that effect. Probably.

Alright, since you asked so nicely, this:

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This is the source of much of my drinking activity. During the day, at least, especially mornings. I pretty much chain-drink coffee ’til lunchtime, then often indulge in 1 or 2 more in the afternoon.

My old cafetière broke, OK? Our kitchen is very small, we don’t have a dishwasher, so accidents happen. I needed my caffeine fix, & this was the only one I could find in town. Also: it was cheap. Which probably explains why it already has a crack at the top.

It’s my story, & I’m sticking to it.

Now I’m off to drink my pink brew and put on my Borat pinny* & marigolds to do the washing up while singing very loudly & very badly to Adele.

I am MetroDad, hear me roar!

* It was a gift, honest

This post is for Tara’s terrific ‘Gallery’ on her ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog.

It’s also for Emma of ‘Crazy With Twins’ who is having a hard time right now as she’s in isolation & away from her family while having treatment for cancer, so is in need of some cheering up.

To read more & to join in just click the pics:

TheGallery

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Tree-Trunk Drum Fun!

We love our country park!

After the adventure playground or the farm trail we go back through a woodland walk. Right at the start of it is a natural playground sculpted from tree-trunks: both artistic & fun!

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The taller trunks are actually drums. They have slits cut into them & in such a way that they make a different noise depending on where you bang them with a stick.

Jake & Ellie however are more interested in climbing & jumping!

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The game used to be that I had to lift them onto the first stump then zoom them through the air  – while saying “WEEEE!”, of course – to the next one.

Now that they’re so much more physically able they just need me to lift them on then they jump off. Which is just as well as I have a bad back at the moment, to go with my dodgy shoulder!

After we’d done that & run around for a bit they discovered something new: a low-hanging branch to swing from!

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This is another new activity here. As with many other things they’d seen some older children doing it & so of course wanted to try it themselves. Not always a good idea, but this time it was fine!

They hung, they swung – and they fell! But they’re physically capable enough they have no problem doing that either.

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And they had a swingin’ good time!

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1-DSC00907I may have spoilt the mood slightly however by insisting on singing “I’m the King  / Queen of the Swingers, the jungle VIP” etc. to them afterwards…

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Bad singing aside, it’s a magical little spot & one we all enjoy

For more posts like this, just click the pics:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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An Active Weekend

I’m joining in with this week’s ‘The Gallery’ on Tara’s ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog, as well as Fiona’s ‘Country Kids at Coombe Mill’ blog-link. The Gallery’s theme is ‘The Weekend’: it was a long one, & we had an active one!

We’re quite an active family. When the twins aren’t at pre-school we try to get out & about to do something active at least once a day, & often on school days too.

This last weekend was of course a Bank Holiday Weekend. And just to make it more interesting we made it a 4-dayer, starting Friday!

We’d both managed to make ourselves available all day &, after a great Monkey Music class, took them off from their afternoon pre-school. Why? There’s a fantastic place in Cardiff called Techniquest: basically a 2-storey hangar-sized space full of fun, interactive science-based exhibits.

Once a month they have a Toddler Day, each with a different theme, where they also have arts & crafts play, water-play, story-telling & the like. They love it! There’s so much to see & do, so many buttons to press, dials to turn, balls to throw: it’s always a fight to get them go home! And this time we had another first: face-painting!

Ellie was very pleased

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Jake however didn’t seem so sure

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Saturday, the Mummy took them to the excellent nearby soft-play place. I was very pleased to hear that Jake had made friends with a couple of boys there; usually it’s Ellie who does that, often finding a little gang of girls to run around with.

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click to enlarge

On Sunday, as the weather was getting progressively better, it was our favourite country park again. We went to a different part of it this time: past the 12th-century Monastery ruins & church & the 18th-century Orangery, & to the fairy-tale themed playground.

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Throwing stones into a fountain by the Orangery

The playground not only has the usual swings & slides, but also little houses each with nursery-rhyme themed exhibits, plus a child-scaled castle – complete with secret passages, moat & drawbridge. Needless to say, they love it there!

Monday was almost a scorcher! In the morning I took them on their scooters to the local playground, & for the afternoon we had planned to go to an indoor swimming pool but ended up in a nearby water-fountain & adventure playground instead. It would have been a shame to waste all that lovely sunshine! It was great to be able to go there again for the first time since last summer & they had a great time, even though it was very crowded.

The weekend ended with big ice-creams all ’round, & with everyone going to bed having been stimulated & exercised, tired but happy.

And that’s what this parenting thing is all about really, isn’t it?

For more ‘Gallery’ or ‘Country Kids’ posts just click the pics: 

TheGallery

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Firsts

Firsts.

We’ve had a few lately!

They seem to come fast & furious & excited within a child’s first year or so. Grabbing, sitting up, the first crawl, the first word, the first step, the first sentence.

Now that Jake & Ellie are 3 firsts may be less frequent, but they’re still there.

Perhaps they’re just less noticeable, & so seem less momentous. After all who, at any age, doesn’t have firsts? None of us have done everything, not even Keith Richards.

The twins do however seem to have spurts, & I think we’re in 1 of them now. I’m sure also that they spur each other on: if one sees the other doing something cool, especially if it’s something for which we praise them, they naturally will want to do it too.

Ellie’s getting pretty good at dressing herself. Recently she insisted on trying to do up her own zip; I tried to do it for her as usual, but she wouldn’t let me. Then only went & did it herself perfectly: a first!

Last Friday at Monkey Music we found that Ellie knows left from right: a first!

This week Jake has been speaking in rhyme, & using rhythm. “Red & bed: that’s a rhyme!”, & “Ellie & belly: that’s a rhyme!”. A first!

Ellie can do forward rolls, Jake hand-stands. Firsts!

Then, after pre-school today, this:

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Jake saw an older boy climbing & wanted to join in, then Ellie did the same.

Jake was actually very pleased with himself, believe it or not, & did a little celebratory dance, shouting “I did it!”, when he came down! Although they both got stuck & had to be rescued they really enjoyed it & kept going back. We eventually had to drag them away with a bribe promise of ice-cream at home.

I was very pleased! Many of my happiest childhood memories involve climbing trees.

I assume it’s allowed…

If not, don’t tell anyone, OK?

A Wedding Anniversary Playlist for Will & Kate

April 29th.

The second wedding anniversary of everyone’s favourite royal couple, Will & Kate: also known as the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.

To mark the occasion I’m putting together an anniversary playlist. And because it gives me the chance to win yummy Panasonic NE Series wireless speakers!

They seem to be very much in love.

So the first song for their playlist has to be a love song, right? It’s one of my personal favourites, and it’s about Destiny. The destiny of 2 people who are meant to be together.

Destiny of course plays a major role in the life of a member of the Royal Family. After all Will is The Man Who Would Be King.

It probably hasn’t escaped many people’s attention that Kate is 6 months pregnant, due in July. Which gives me the perfect excuse to play another of my favourite songs, and 1 of the best music videos ever made to boot:

When the baby is born? I expect there will be a lot of this:

And if that admonition doesn’t work, the result could well be…!

So, Happy Anniversary Will & Kate: and good luck!

A Lullaby

I was really touched, as so many of us were, by the words of the lovely Jennie when she wrote her “Born To Be An Angel” love poem as a eulogy for her beautiful baby girl Matilda Mae, who she so tragically lost to SIDS (cot death) in February.

It brought to mind a beautiful song, one which I really love: Don MacLean’s “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”, & I was inspired to rewrite some of it, with some of the song’s words & inspired by the beautiful words Jennie, & others, have written in remembrance of Matilda Mae.

Jennie has become involved with the wonderful cot death charity FSID.  They fund & publicise research into SIDS, the causes of which are still not fully understood, & provide support for those who have been affected by it.

They are today changing their name to The Lullaby Trust.

So in support of The Lullaby Trust & the wonderful work they do here is:

A Goodbye Lullaby for Matilda Mae

Starry, starry night
Lit up by Matilda Mae
One winter’s night she went away
To join the stars that sparkle in the night
An angel taking flight
Looks down on us with chocolate eyes
Lighting up our winter skies
The love she’s known can brighten any heart

So light a candle, pray
Remembering Matilda Mae
Even ‘though she now has gone away
In our hearts she shall remain
Those she left behind they love her still
And they always will

All who knew you loved you
‘Though your days were few
And when you spread your wings to fly
On that starry, starry night
You left a love so radiant and true
Born as an angel, ‘Tilda:
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you

Jennie has set up a linky on her blog for posts like these in support of The Lullaby Trust.  Just click on the picture below to see them, & to support this great cause:

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Manners

We were at Monkey Music on Friday. It was noisy, but then it’s supposed to be.

Ellie said something to the Mummy, & they then started to make their way out of the room together.

As she headed out Ellie went up to the group leader & in her piercing little voice, loud enough to be heard clearly over the singing, music & various assorted percussion, shouted “I NEED A POO!”.

To her great credit the group leader managed to keep on singing while trying not to fall about laughing.

You may laugh – I did – but actually she was just excusing herself. Walking out on a group without a word? That’s just rude isn’t it?

She was just being polite!

Makes me kind of proud.

A rant about breasts

It’s not often I get ranty here, but as a wise man once said: “There’s a time & place for everything”. I think it was Chef from South Park.

The Save the Children group are among a coalition of charities running a fantastic campaign at the moment called “Enough food for everyone IF”, highlighting child malnutrition & mobilising the powerful & the ordinary to make a change; showing us that we can.

I plan to write about it soon, and you can read the details here.

Alongside this Save the Children are also running a campaign called #firsthour, highlighting the importance of the first hour in a newborn baby’s life. Particularly how crucial for the baby’s survival  it is – especially where food is scarce & nutritional standards are low  – that they receive the miracle food that is breast milk.

There are some brilliant posts about it here & here, much better than anything I could put together. Myleene Klaas, Natasha Kaplinsky & Isla Fisher have been in the Philippines, Sierra Leone & Brazil for first-hand reports. Just click their names here to see their video reports. They are real eye-openers: for all our problems we  – I – often just don’t realise just how lucky we are here, in our relative affluence.

Photo credit: Save the Children

Two major concerns seem to have caught people’s attention from the #firsthour campaign.

1) Research by Save the Children has shown that an estimated 830,000 deaths could be avoided if every baby were breastfed within the first hour of life.

2) Save the Children have been reported as saying that they want cigarette packet style warnings to be put on baby formula products.

Many of us have seized on one or the other of these, myself included.

Now OK,  I know breast vs formula is a very emotive subject. Many women resent being told what to do or what not to do with their own bodies. I get that. And it’s not always possible for women to breast-feed & they should not be judged for not doing so. I really get that.

But hang on here, you who are so angry about this & who are trying to vilify Save the Children. Can we rewind a bit?

Please see point 1).

830,000 dead babies. Every year. That’s nearly a Birmingham of babies.

It’s likely that 3 babies died since you started reading this.

Simply for lack of breast-milk.

The research also suggests that 22%  – more than 1 in 5 – of newborn deaths could be prevented if breastfeeding started within the first hour, 16% if within 24 hours. Also that a baby given breast milk within an hour is up to 3 times more likely to survive than 1 fed a day later.

But someone wanting to put some writing on packets of milk substitute is what’s important here, is it?

Really?

I think we need some perspective here. Just a little bit.

I suspect that if Save the Children have said this that it was aimed at underdeveloped societies where women are less educated & simply don’t have the lifestyle choices that we enjoy.

I was really shocked to learn from this campaign that many women don’t even know that they can breast-feed. In many of these countries unscrupulous multinationals are spreading misinformation designed to keep these mothers in ignorance in order to sell their products. You can sign a petition about that here if you feel so moved.

Many of them as a result then buy the formula. It’s expensive, so many then have to stop buying food.

You get the picture?

This isn’t about us.

It’s about babies dying needlessly in impoverished societies.

It’s about women who are in ignorance regarding the most basic needs of their newborns & who are being kept that way, in many cases, just so some already rich people can get richer.

It’s about how we can stop these needless deaths & help these poor mothers.

I’d be quite happy if every time I switched on my beloved iPod Touch I saw a message on screen saying “You are fat & stupid & if you use this iPod Touch your testicles may fall off” – if it meant saving the life of just 1 baby.  I’d just tell it to shut up then put on “Gimme Shelter”.

So how about we all get together & save some lives? I hope to at least try.

And I’m sorry if anyone is offended by this post. That’s really not my intention.

And, for what it’s worth, our premmie twins were fed on both formula & breast-milk.

And were they breast-fed in their #firsthour?

Yes.