New Experience’s

For a 9 month old boy every day is a new experience; new smells, tastes, places. Everyday he seems to learn something new whether it be a new noise, crawling or cruising. Being a parent of said 9 month old therefore brings about new experiences for us on an almost daily basis as well. Sunday however brought about and entirely new experience for all of us, one that came a little bit as a surprise but what turned out to be very pleasant.

Sunday we were attending a Christening of one of my OH close friends. Nothing new there I’ve been to a number of Christenings over the years including my own niece’s last year. I find them relatively dull affairs, I am not religious nor do I attend church on a regular basis. I find churches to be stuffy environments and much of what is being preached contradictory and in some respects antagonistic in its approach. However this isn’t a piece particularly to discuss the merits of religion or my own particular beliefs, I just feel its relevant to the experience I had.

When we finally found the church, (I do happen to love church buildings, I could spend hours walking round and admiring the architecture) it looked as many city churches do, pleasant building some people milling outside, not the normal looking church goers I must admit. Upon entering the church my instant reaction was oh, I am so out-of-place here. We had entered a gospel church and as a white man you can understand my immediate reservations. The woman who greeted us couldn’t have been more welcoming, showed us to a seat where upon we sat and my little man was soon the centre of our immediate surroundings attention.

What followed I was truly amazed by. the Deacon himself in trying to describe the events to follow (possibly aimed out the obvious outsiders) likened it to Sister Act the film and he couldn’t have hit the nail on the head more. It was a morning of worship unlike I have ever seen before, full of singing, clapping, jokes and laughter. Together with lots of  praise the lord’s, hallelujah and amen. I don’t think I have ever felt more welcome in a church before, more relaxed in a church before or enjoyed a church service like I did this one. The message was very clear, God is to be worshiped and worship him they did with great gusto and enthusiasm which was altogether infectious and dragged you in. I couldn’t help but clap my hands and tap my feet in time with the music.

Our only regret was that we just were not prepared.  We should probably have guessed it was going to be lengthy when the woman in front of us pulled out a thermos of coffee, bottles of water and a packet crisps, she isn’t here for your bog standard our service. After 2 hours we decided we needed to go, the little man who had loved it and was superb throughout was getting restless and hungry. We slipped out, but again no looks of disapproval just some farewells from the people at the door. Some welcomed us going only for the fact they could now sit as the church was so full there were people stood at the back for the entire time.

All in all a day that filled me with some trepidation not only surprised me but excited me and turned out to be a wonderful experience. As I stated earlier I am not a religious person but if I ever had a notion to attend a church on a regular basis that is the one I would go to.

So what unexpected new experiences have you had recently ?

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I Hate Work

It seems quite apt writing this on a Monday from work. Truth be told I  really quite enjoy my job and until 9 months ago had no problem getting up for work in the morning. I am also, in the current economic climate lucky to have a half decent job, let alone enjoy it, but still I complain.

The reason I complain is that 9 months ago my son was born and as a Father I was entitled to a whole 2 weeks off work with him. I took a further week of my own holidays meaning I had three weeks to be with my new-born son and help my OH with looking after him. Those three weeks flew by and back to work I had to go and for the first time I really resented my job. Three weeks just isn’t enough, it wasnt enough for me I wanted longer. It wasn’t enough for my OH she needed me around, it became a lonely time for her and there was nothing I could do about it. It also wasn’t enough time for my son, it took him a lot longer to realise who I was than it did his mother. Now I appreciate part of this is the maternal bond but I also put it in part down to the fact I am out of the house for 10 hours a day.

Now lets look at what I have missed:

  • I’ve never been to get him weighed
  • I wasnt there to console him after any of his jabs
  • I missed him stand for the first time, sign for the first time, roll for the first time. I got to experience these via text message from my OH
  • I’ve never been to a music sensory group with him which from all accounts he loves
  • I wasn’t able to be at the doctors with him when he wasnt well
  • I missed his 12 month check (even though he is only 9 months, go figure)

It’s not just my son and me that this all effects. I have mentioned my OH who works tirelessly not only to bring our son up, but also ensure I am not up in the middle of the night with him. I do not agree this should be the case at all but she insists its better for our little man (she is still breast-feeding) and that I need to sleep because I have work.

This at times just doesn’t work. Today she is tired, more so than usual. She is upset because she is tired and that we are struggling for much us time. So today I have to leave for that place I don’t want to be, leaving my son behind, not able to go to his 12 month check and also leaving an upset mum to try to contend with it all herself.

As I said I hate work!

There is always a silver lining and I have two:

1) My OH goes back to work herself soon, so things will have to change and for the better for her.

2) I will get home tonight and be greeted to the biggest broadest most amazing smile you will ever see. I will sit on the floor and he will shuffle over to me still grinning. He will then most likely try to eat me in some way shape or form. In that moment no matter what kind of day I have had nothing else will matter.

Cartoons today

As a kid I loved cartoons and in my opinion we had so many great ones to choose from. I am sure many of you will remember some if not all of these:

  • Thundercats
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Mysterious cities of Gold
  • Dogtanian and the three Muskehounds
  • Vicki the Viking
  • He-man
  • Inspector Gadget

The list of great cartoons goes on and on and whilst they may look a little dated in terms of today’s technology they still (again in my opinion) stand the test of time in terms of quality viewing.

I look at some of the stuff on TV today and find it extremely disappointing. Now we are not for letting our little man watch much TV, but when he does it’s pretty garbage. I have turned on Cbeebies to be confronted by Waybaloo and In the Night Garden, featuring strange creatures that don’t even communicate using words. Not only are they poor viewing but don’t even help towards language skills.

Looking beyond cartoons and towards some more educational programs, what happened to the likes of:

  • Hart Beat
  • Why Don’t You
  • Blue Peter
  • Newsround

Programs that actually tought you something and got you making things and playing games in the great outdoors. Blue Peter I beleive is still going but has been bumped from it’s prime time slots and is now only showing once a week.

As a parent now I am also wondering where the classic 5 minute cartoon went, ideal for those parents who don’t want their children in front of the TV for long periods but where something to distract them for 5 minutes is needed. Remember these?

  • Tom and Jerry
  • Mighty Mouse
  • Speedy Gonzalez
  • Danger Mouse
  • Popeye

I do hold my hands up and say I am not well versed with a lot of kids television programs these days and I may be missing some titles that will be of interest both to my son and me as his Father. However, from what I have seen, the entertainment and educational value of a lot of programs are just not what they used to be.

We have found watching Sesame Street on the internet is a better tool for some short viewing. One of the classic programs that is not only still going but hits the right levels for both child and parent alike. Is there a U.K. equivalent that measures up?

All in all I am glad we make the decision not to have the TV on much for him, as frankly I dont like what is available. I am just waiting for him to be old enough to appreciate some of the old title’s I have managed to collect.

Father’s Day – what does it really mean?

I’ve not spoken to my own Father for over 19 years now, so for the first time in 19 years Father’s Day holds some real meaning for me. Before today it was just a day that passed me by without even a flicker of interest, but having an 8 month old son of my own, I now get to celebrate this special day.

Due to the nature of the day in the past and now being in the position of Father on this day, it has made me give some thought to what the day actually means for me. In essence it was a day much like any other with a few perks thrown in. I awoke to a smiling boy and a beautiful gift that he literally had a hand in making.

With the gift was a big kiss from him, I was then left to sleep some more; I finally got up and read the amazing letter he had posted on his mum’s blog for me then I tucked into a big fry up.  Beyond that it was a relatively normal Sunday.  We spent some time as a family –  we took our little man to the park, pushed him on the swings and paid a visit to the ducks. Back home we enjoyed a nice meal and as I am writing this he is getting his last feed from his mum before he goes to bed.

So again what does Father’s Day actually mean?

Well on reflection it’s quite simple.  It means I am the luckiest man alive. I am privileged to have the most amazing and beautiful little boy in the world;  it his him that enables me to be a Father on this day. I genuinely feel blessed to be a Father so this day is as much a celebration of being just that as it is about a gift, food or extra time in bed. Whilst they are all very nice things, that kiss I got this morning, the grin on his face while he was pushed on the swing, the cheeky look of defiance as he threw his food on the floor and watching him cruise around the furniture were the things that truly made my first Father’s day as special as it could be.

Silent Sunday

A Reader Appreciation Award

I am very privileged to have been given this award by Lewis at Babberblog, which, if it’s not a blog you have read or follow I suggest you do so now a very creative writer and well worth a read. As for the award well there are some rules that go with it:

  1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
  2. Answer these 10 questions below
  3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy. Or you pick the number.
  4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.
  5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.

What is your favourite colour?

This is something that’s changed over the years, it used to be red, I then went through a blue phase (but don’t tell anyone being a United fan that’s sacrilege). Now my favourite colour is purple, which is quite fitting I guess.

What’s your favourite animal?

Without doubt Tigers, I absolutely love them. Such big, powerful, yet beautiful looking animals. It is my ambition to see them in their natural habitat and one day I am determined to make this happen.

What’s your favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Going to choose 2 here (I know its cheating but this is my blog :p). Morning drink has to be coffee, I love strong coffee black. Non of this Nescafe rubbish, real coffee. Once I’m awake then I am a bit of a sucker for coke. I have got better with this and managed to wean myself on to coke zero the sugar-free stuff but coke is my guilty pleasure when it comes to non alcoholic drinks.

Facebook or Twitter?

Can I sit on the fence ?

No OK then if I had to choose one then it would be twitter, which is strange because my family and closest friends are on Facebook but not on Twitter. I think I just enjoy the banter and real-time conversations you get on Twitter and its opened me up to a whole new world of blogging and fellow parents and bloggers. Facebook still has its place, I tend to post a lot of photographs on Facebook, especially of the little man but Twitter wins out in the end.

What is your favourite pattern?

Favourite pattern, not something I had ever given any thought to. So I opened up my wardrobe and lo and behold I’m a stripe man. It wasn’t a conscious thing it’s just kind of happened but if any of my clothes have any sort of pattern its stripes.

Favourite number?

7

It’s a football thing I’m afraid. My favourite player was Bryan Robson who wore 7, after him Eric Cantona who again wore 7 so the number 7 has always been the number. That being said the number 20 has always been lucky for me at the casino.

Favourite day of the week?

Saturday but that’s an obvious one really. I have a favourite time of day and that’s 5.30pm. That is the time I am walking through the door and my son looks up and a big grin spreads across his face, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Favourite flower?

Favourite flower, I don’t particularly have a favourite flower, don’t get me wrong I like to look at flowers I just don’t have one that stands out as a favourite. I do enjoy buying flowers especially for my OH, I love the smile they put on her face when I walk in with them.

What is your passion?

I have 2 passions in life one is football, I always have and will always will love the game. The biggest passion in my life however is my Family, I have an amazing little boy at home who never fails to make me smile and a beautiful Fiancée who in June next year will make me the happiest man alive.

OK here’s a few tags of blogs I read:
 
mushypeasproutetal
Bugbearblog
Justsoweareclear
Shebefierce

What a week

A lot of my posts so far have been about Fatherhood and the fears and pleasures it brings. I felt it’s about time I wrote about the little man himself and what better week to do it than after the busy 6 or 7 days he’s had. It seems that all of a sudden he has gone from the chubby little grinning baby into a little boy and with it a whole lot of changes both in his appearance and in what he can do.

Tooth

First major change has been on the cards for some time as he seems to have been teething since birth. The last couple of weeks however have seen some serious lumps around his bottom 2 teeth. This weekend finally saw him cut his first tooth, our gummy boy has a tooth and that gummy smile gone forever, to be replaced with a cheeky toothy grin I am sure.

Hair

Where has it all come from? He has always had a little bit of hair but last few days it seems to have grown and got thicker. I hadn’t even noticed with everything else going on but the boy has a decent mop of hair on its way. Just a shame he has his dad’s cow-lick, bless him.

Standing

He has always been a mover, from a very early age he has loved being held upright on his feet. For a few weeks now he has been able to stand whilst holding on to me or his mum; or the sofa; or a stand up toy he has, but he always needed us to stand him. That all changed, I was at work and his mum had nipped into the kitchen, when she returned there he was stood up at his changing box with that look on his face of look what I did. She sent me the picture and I nearly burst into tears at work, so proud. That evening as if to show it wasn’t a fluke I sat on the floor after getting home from work and he crawled over to me and used my leg to stand up, hugs followed. I love being a dad.

Walking

Sure enough, standing mastered he wasn’t finished he wanted to walk. We have a walker but it had remained upstairs where he played with it occasionally, sat down in front of all the buttons. I brought it down, stood him up at it and he was off, didn’t even have to think about it. The day after he was doing laps up and down the living room and today I had him walking with it all the way into the kitchen (all be it a minor turn performed by me). They say you can’t run before you can walk, oh dear were in trouble now.

Sounds

As if all this walking and standing wasn’t enough he decided to add some new sounds to his vocabulary. He has managed some d’s even adding a dadada which I’m convinced he’s saying dad, add to that a g sound and a b sound which were new for him this weekend. It doesn’t sound much but it is to his proud parents..

Kissing

Finally, but definitely not least the one that sent me out of the door to work last Friday with tears in my eyes. When I held my son as I do every morning before I leave for work and asked him for a kiss. He leaned forwards open-mouthed and planted me one, my heart melted. There have been lots more kisses since, each one melts me like the last. He has also developed a habit of throwing in the occasional raspberry instead of a kiss which is highly amusing. In fact when he uses a combination of his new skills to climb all over his mum and plant one on her only to then raspberry all over her face, is there anything funnier?…I think not

They say children grow up so fast, well our little man is a living testament to that. These last few days have been incredible for his development, now if only he would master that sleeping through the night one.

Raising Awareness of Group B Strep

If you are wondering what Group B Streptococcus (GBS) to give it its full name is, then you are not alone. Despite 20-40% of woman carrying this bacteria here in the UK awareness of it is limited and routine testing for it is non-existent.

GBS is a bacteria and carried by up to 40% of women, whilst harmless to those that carry it there is a danger it can be passed to a baby during the birth. If you look hard enough around Twitter and forums you will find the tragic stories of those whose babies have developed GBS infections shortly after birth, leading to meningitis, deafness and on occasion the ultimate tragedy. The sad truth about this infection is that it can be prevented with a test that costs around £10 and antibiotics during labour. It is worth mentioning this test is available privately and costs somewhere in the region of £35.

So why am I writing about this? Well I guess you could say we are one of the lucky ones. My partner was in hospital for some tests following a urine infection during her pregnancy, this turned out to be nothing serious but the tests and swabs that were done uncovered her as a carrier of GBS. During labour she got the antibiotics needed meaning there was little to no danger to our little man when he was born. We had never even heard of it before that test was done let alone the potential risks to our unborn child.

Let me give you a stat 700 babies develop GBS infections every year and 10% of those end in tragic circumstances.

In the USA they test routinely for GBS in all pregnant woman at 35-37 weeks but in the UK we do not WHY? We make all of these informed choices as parents about Down’s testing, and various other screening tests both during pregnancy and once the baby is born, but not once are we given any information about GBS. The NHS is all about enabling us to make informed choices yet has made the decision for us, to not screen for GBS like so many countries do.

The Group B Strep Support have done some tireless work for many years to try to raise awareness and their website is certainly worth a look at. The home page also has a petition to try to get this debated in parliament which I would ask anyone reading this to take 2 minutes to sign.

My son the future England captain

It’s what all Fathers want for their son isn’t it? Captain of their favourite football team and captain of England. If I had written this 2 years ago it’s what I envisaged.  Having a son, teaching him to play football and then push and encourage him to get to the very top. It’s what my Father wanted for me.  Perhaps my failing to get beyond Sunday league football is the reason we haven’t spoken for 18 years, or perhaps it’s because he was a useless Father, who knows?

One thing for certain is that the day my son was born, was the day my whole outlook on what a Father is changed, and hopefully for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I love sport and if my son enjoys some of the things I can do (some of them quite well) it would be brilliant. I would love to have a kick about with him in the park, or when he’s older a round of golf, or go and watch a game. The fact of the matter is,  I am prepared for him to not like these things.

I start to wonder what he will like and take an interest in as he grows and gets older. What doors will he open up for me?  What new skills will I have to learn in order to take an interest and take a part in his hobbies?  He may be creative; I haven’t a creative bone in my body. He may be musically talented or like acting; the only acting I have been accredited with over the years is acting the fool.

The one thing I have grown to believe is that anyone can achieve anything they want in life. My role as a Father, therefore, is to give our little man every opportunity to reach his full potential. To encourage him to do his very best in everything that he does because that is all we will ever ask of him. Hopefully he can look back when he is my age and be happy with what he has accomplished and, I hope, thankful of the support me and his mum gave him.

I never had this from my Father, he never pushed me academically –  his only interest was in my sporting achievements. When I hit adult life he decided that rather than be around to help me through those years, he would run off with another woman and that was the last I saw or heard from him. In this job as a Father I will always be learning,  well the biggest lesson I took from my own was what not to do so it’s a pretty good start I guess.

So my son the future England captain, my son the brain surgeon, my son the shop keeper or my son the engineer. Who knows what the future brings but I am ready for him to choose his own path and whatever that may be, it will ,I am sure, open up my own eyes to a whole new world. I only hope I can perform my role to the very best of my ability in giving him every possible chance to fulfil his dreams.

Play Factore

So today my OH got invited to Play Factore in Manchester by Tired Mummy of Two. You can read what my OH thought of it over at Mushypea, Sprout et al but I thought I would offer a father’s take on it.

Play Factore, for those now wondering, is a big indoor play centre situated under Chill Factor near the Trafford Centre in Manchester, it’s aimed at children ages 0-12 but I would suggest those 2-12 will get more out of the day. That being said, our little man had a good time and it did cater for his age to a certain degree; you just have to watch for the over enthusiastic larger kids who needless to say don’t pay any thought to the 8 month old they are trying to barge out of the way.

Walking into the place my first reaction was wow, second reaction was oh my god I wish I was ten again. It really did look that good, 15 meters high it’s described as but it looked bigger. The centre piece was a huge slide from top to bottom running the full length of the room. The next thing I spotted half way up was a mini football pitch with a bunch of kids kicking lumps out of each other, I really was itching to dump my son and run off and play but alas I’m 36 and apparently not allowed.

So after taking it all in, the first step was to try and get in the place; the queue wasn’t very big but for some reason we were in it for 20 minutes. The young kids behind the counter really didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about their work and to get 4 or 5 families paid and into the place before us really did take 20 minutes. Now I hate queuing, really hate it and it can really put me off very quickly, so I was not very impressed by the time we had managed to get through the gate. At least being in the queue for so long enabled me to take a good look at the price list. Not cheap is how I would describe it, for our son it would have been £1.95 which is fine but the £4 each for me and my OH just to be with him is over the top and at £10.95 for over 5’s a family of four can run up to £30 before you have even considered food.

Once in, we made our way to the soft play area which in its own right was pretty impressive, lots for the little ones to do: slides, climbing areas, lots of soft squashy toys and cars to push them around in. One thing that really struck me as our little man is having a good play is there is no supervision at all. Now I get we are all supervising our own children but this is a fast paced child’s play centre and accidents do happen, so where was the first aid? Actually I can answer that it was one of the less than enthusiastic counter staff with a small first aid box. Not quite what I would expect with over 100 children running rampant throughout the place.

My own safety concerns aside, the soft play was well thought out, including a small sensory area that was my son’s favourite place, he loved all the flashing lights and glowing things to twist and turn and twirl about.

After an hour the little man needed a drink and some food and here lay the biggest problem of all. There were a number of tables and chairs which were either taken or reserved in a German like draping of the coats over chairs; wonder what time they arrived to do that?  We tried to sit at one said table only to be accosted by an extremely rude mum who wouldn’t even allow us 10 minutes to feed our son. If there is one thing I hate more than queues it is rude people and so my first impression on a visit to a play centre of this ilk is it’s every man for himself.

After some food he was back to the play and after about 2 hours in total he decided it was time to leave. Have to say the 2 hours flew and our little man did enjoy himself which always means me and his mum have a good time.

All in all I would say Play Factore was a really good experience especially for our son, it’s not been open long and I am sure they can fix some of the minor niggles I had. The one thing they certainly have got spot on is the content aimed both at younger and older children and I do think it would have kept me occupied for hours and hours as a child. Even our little man managed 2 hours in the place which is pretty good and is testament to them having lots for them to see and do. I do feel at the current prices it’s more of a treat kind of place to visit rather than our local soft play centre which is £1 and no charge for adults but the content more than holds its own for the price.

I would definitely go again, a good day out for all the family

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