Winner winner chicken dinner

Reader Appreciation AwardAnyone who’s been reading my drivel blog for a while will know that I recently re-booted things, with a focus on life as a dad. There’s a growing community of dads doing likewise, and it seemed like something worth exploring – I know, for example, how beneficial and supportive Gem’s found the babycentre group she joined when pregnant with Megan, so why shouldn’t I get some of that too?

And now, just over a month later, I’ve only gone and bagged myself an award! A Reader Appreciation Award, to be exact, courtesy of the very mysterious EmPo (whose real name I very shamefully don’t actually know!). He’s been writing over at BugBearBlog since February and is always worth a read.

In order to accept my award I have to include the appropriate image (at the top of this post), answer some questions and nominate some other worthy recipients for the award. So, without further ado, on to the questions…

What’s your favourite animal?
Fish are animals, right? In which case I’m going to say sharks – fascinating creatures, although I wouldn’t like to meet one in a dark alley. Actually, that might be OK, so long as the alley wasn’t filled with water.

What’s your favourite non-alcoholic drink?
I’m going to be really dull here and say water, because it’s what I drink most often. Coffee, which I only started drinking a couple of years ago, would be a close second though.

Facebook or Twitter?
I guess I should probably go with Twitter. Although I’ve been on Facebook about twice as long I’m finding myself on Twitter much more as time goes on. I love the randomness of Twitter, something Facebook doesn’t generally have. Also, it’s always fun getting to know new people, and I find that much easier on Twitter than Facebook.

What is your favourite pattern?
Huh? Since nothing else springs to mind, I’m going for the incredibly geeky answer of Singleton, which will mean nothing to almost anyone who reads this.

Favourite number?
31 – it was my number when I played American football at uni

Favourite day of the week?
Saturday, because it’s usually my turn for a lie-in, and then I get to spend the rest of the day with my girls

Favourite flower?
Can I have two? Roses and thistles was the theme for our wedding (it shouldn’t be difficult to work out why) so I’ll pick those. I do have a most hated flower – dandelions. Every year I go to war on them, and every year they come back for more. Grrrr… Oh, and buttercups too. Bane of my life. Oddly, I don’t mind daisies.

What is your passion?
My passion? That’s the thing I want to be/do more than anything else, right? In which case, I’d have to say to be the best husband and father I can be, something I’ve realised more than ever since I started writing about it. Schmaltzy but true.

And that’s your lot. Now it’s my turn to nominate some blogs that I enjoy reading, and that have inspired me to write my own. So, in no particular order, I give you:

Welcome to Dietville
Last Year’s Girl
Susan K Mann
Gaming, Golf and ME
Diary of the Dad
Mutterings of a Fool

And finally, here’s the full terms and conditions:

  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.
This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Does my bum look big in this?

Mr Greedy

BANNED: Mr Greedy

It’s no secret that 2012 has been the year of The Diet for me and Gem, something she’s been far better at chronicling than me. So far, between us we’ve lost just over 6 stone (that’s 84lb, or 38kg if you prefer) which is a fantastic achievement, and one we’re both more than happy with. I’m now lighter – and fitter – than I’ve been in about 15 years, and reaching the end of my weight loss journey. Gem has a bit further to go, though, but I’ll be supporting her every step of the way.

Over the past few months we’ve obviously discussed The Diet a fair amount, but have tried to be careful with how much the girls are exposed to it – for all sorts of reasons, but mainly because we don’t want to instill any unhealthy fears in them about their size.

Imagine my absolute horror, then, when the following incident occurred last week.

It was my turn to put Heather to bed, and as ever I let her pick which bedtime story she wanted. She chose Mr Greedy, a book which had been mine as a child. I know this, because over 30 years ago I’d written my name, address and age (5 1/2) on the title page.

Heather interrupted me on the first page, when as I read about Mr Greedy’s eating habits, and how they made him fatter. “You mustn’t say that Daddy, you mustn’t call someone fat” she said. This goes back to an incident a while back, when she described her Uncle Ian as a fatty. We told her it wasn’t nice to call people names, and that it wasn’t nice to call someone fat or a fatty. (Only later did we discover that Uncle Ian had described himself as a fatty to Heather – he got a telling off too!)

At this stage all was OK. It was at the end of the book, after Mr Greedy has learnt the error of his ways, that it all went horribly wrong. That was when Heather stood up, declared herself fat, pulled up her pyjama top and started pinching her sides to illustrate this. “See, Daddy? See?”

Of course I did my best to reassure her that she’s not fat (her height and weight are perfectly in proportion according to medical charts) and that she shouldn’t worry about things like that, but I was left feeling uneasy – was this something we’d caused? Has casual talk of smaller tummies and openly weighing ourselves in the bathroom created an unintentional monster?

And the most horrible question of all – if she’s already thinking about this stuff at 3, what problems are we going to face in the future?

Gem had a similar experience the following night, and again made the same reassuring noises I had. So it wasn’t an isolated incident. Oh dear.

We’re hoping it’s something that will disappear on its own. We’re being extra careful when we talk about weight/diets, and have taken the short-term step of removing Mr Greedy from Heather’s bookshelf. So far there has been no more mention of fatness from our eldest, which is a good thing. Long may it continue!

By complete coincidence, Gem came across this story (sorry, it’s on the D**ly M**l website!) about a new information pack about body image, which was published last week. Seemingly (I haven’t actually read the pack yet) it contains all manner of advice to educate kids about airbrushing, and not discuss diets or your own body concerns in front of them. It’s always easy to dismiss these things as nanny state meddling, and I’m sure there will be some advice in there that will seem ludicrous, but after last week’s incident I’m interested to read what the pack has to say. To that end I’ve searched and found the pack online, and am about to download it for myself. Maybe I’ll write a follow up piece when I have.

One thing I’ve already noticed, though, is that the pack is aimed at dealing with children a good bit older than Heather. And maybe that’s right, but based on my experiences I think body image should be added to the list of things us parents worry about from day one.


This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I took my pennies to the market square

I mentioned last week how between us me and Heather had concocted a fishing game, using a bit of ribbon and a Snow White figure. I still don’t really understand her contribution, that the fish has to be asleep before it can be caught, but then I’m not three years old – maybe I’m not supposed to understand?

Yesterday she came up with another game, based on the AA Milne poem “Market Square”. I say game, it’s really role play I guess, but whatever you want to call it, it’s amusing. What it involves is Heather holding some coins (she found some on my bedside table this morning, including one that came back from Sweden with me) and saying she is going with them to the Market Square. When she gets there, she asks if I have any rabbits, and when I say no, she asks what I do have. Which is one of sweet lavender, fresh mackerel or new saucepans. But she doesn’t want any of those, she wants a rabbit. And I don’t have any of those. So she goes away “disappointed”. Every time.

If you’re not familiar with the poem this probably doesn’t make much sense. I’d have been in the same boat until fairly recently, until I came across Chris T-T’s excellent “Disobedience” album in fact. It’s a collection of AA Milne poems set to music, which was performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and then at various shows around the country. Every track is brilliant, and even better, I discovered we’ve got all the lyrics at home, in the form of a Winnie the Pooh collection that includes the books the poems are taken from.

I tried reading from the book one night at bedtime and it seemed to go down well. So much so, in fact, that Heather’s asked for it the last couple of times I put her to bed. Tonight it was a late substitute, mind you, but it replaced the Gruffalo, and if that isn’t high praise then I don’t know what is.

I’m pleased to report that she seems to like my favourite of the poems, Binker, although I think Market Square is Heather’s favourite. It’s certainly the only one she’s made a game out of, although I guess there’s plenty of time for the others to be gamefied yet!

You can hear – and buy – Chris T-T’s “Disobedience” on his Bandcamp page. The whole album really is excellent, but I’d especially recommend Binker, which would bring a tear to a glass eye. And Market Square, of course.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

ABC, easy as 123

This afternoon I found myself playing at schools with Heather. She had her blackboard out and had been drawing people and aliens when all of a sudden she told me “right, you be the teacher now”, brought through her little red chair, and sat down, expectantly.


And so, with my name alternating between Mr Teacher and Mr Daddy, we got down to some learning.

I started with numbers, something she’s already starting to get to grips with. I wrote 1 to 10 on the board, and by pointing at them randomly asked Heather what each one was. She got more right than she didn’t, which impressed me no end, because I only expected her to get “3” (because it’s her age) and 10 (no idea how she knows that one, but she does). Weird to think that once she can read/ write these 10 digits that’s her effectively learned ALL the numbers!

Then we moved on to letters. This is something she’s been really interested in recently, getting really excited whenever she spots an H (“that’s my name!”) in a book or magazine, or even on a Words With Friends board!

Knowing there’s a few letters she can already write I went with that for my lesson, writing a random letter on the board, telling her what it was (if she didn’t already know) and getting her to copy it. Which she did, and was loving every moment.

I managed to finish playing schools while it was still fun, and I’m sure it’s something we’ll play again in future. Heather loved it, and I felt really pleased with myself that I’d taught my daughter something.

I’m even prepared to put up with being told by my pupil what colour chalk to use. I’m fairly certain that doesn’t happen in REAL school…

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

History never repeats

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or, I guess, don’t live in the UK) you’ll know that the Olympic flame is currently touring the country.

Yesterday afternoon it was in our neck of the woods, but owing to circumstances (ie work and nursery) we missed it. We did talk about heading over to the other side of the city this morning, to see it leave for Inverness, but decided it was too early and too far to go for something that would be over in minutes. And anyway, aged 1 and 3, the girls won’t have a clue what’s going on and are unlikely to remember it.

I did stick on the Beeb’s torch cam this morning, to see exactly what we were missing. Megan couldn’t have cared less. Heather was interested, but only for about three minutes. Then she got bored, and asked to put some kid songs on YouTube. Which, I think, backs up our decision not to go flame watching.

And yet, part of me still thinks we should have made the effort. This is probably a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated event, and chances to be part of history don’t come round that often.

Saying that, the Commonwealth Games will be here in a couple of years, and I dare say there will be something similar. Maybe we should start planning now…

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!