Let’s try this again…

Oh dear. 2010 hasn’t been a great year for prolific dad blogging, has it? Neither was 2009 for that matter. Or 2008. Or…you get the idea.

Our New Cat, Swissy

I am pretty sure that I have spent the last year telling my children that they couldn’t have a pet. How is it then that we have ended up with a cat constantly perched on our front door step?

Not only does it sit there day and night, but it has now started jumping onto the windowsill and miaowing loudly every time it runs out of milk in the little container Rachel fills each day.

I have never been much of a cat person. I have an allergic reaction any time I get too close to one, and I don’t particularly like their nature, but watching Rachel sitting on the porch step in the rain, with Swissy cuddled up on her knee just melts my heart.

I sometimes listen to her at the window as she chats to the cat and tells it how lovely it is. I really have to put it on video and play it back when she is a teenager and going through her ‘hate the world’ phase. It will remind me of our wee sweet girl we had way back when….

Of course the cat hates Daniel. He chases it, sits on it, tries to catch its tail. It’s all out of love of course, but he just doesn’t understand that he is torturing the poor creature.

I am beginning to realise that it is only a matter of time before Swissy becomes officially ‘our cat’. I just hope the thing is house trained!

Dad and the Boys in Downpatrick

On Thursday I took Jake and Dan to Downpatrick for a day out. Downpatrick is a bustling old town in County Down, and supposedly the burying place of Saint Patrick.

We started off up at the Cathedral, where we were greeted by an eldery gent who took us around the building and described a little bit of the history of the place with me.

A short walk down the road is the County Down Museum (formerly an old jail). We had a great time in here, and Jake enjoyed walking around the old jail cells with their exhibitions of former prisoners and ‘gaolers’. In fact, he insisted on walking up and down the corridor a few times to see it all again. We had a spot of lunch in the courtyard (Dan was hilarious trying to steal Jake’s crisps), and I showed Jake how to put his hands into the stocks.

The friendly ladies in the local tourist office pointed us to a park outside the town called Delamont Country Park, which was stunning. We stopped for treats – Dan eating chocolate buttons was messy but fun – and then went for a short walk which overlooked Strangford Lough. We even sat quietly on a bench as a little lamb munched on grass at the side of the path.

All in all, it was a lovely day out. I really enjoy spending alone time with the kids like this. Sometimes when the whole gang is out for the day, somebody ends up grumpy or overlooked. When it’s me and one (or two) of the children, we’re able to go out and bond together and have fun.

Lisa knows some other parents where the father wouldn’t consider taking the children out alone. I know it can be daunting (I still need Lisa to do the baby checklist with for me), but it’s not as hard in practice as it seems.

It’s nice to spend time together as a family, but splitting off now and again does the one-to-one relationships a world of good and I wouldn’t miss that for the world.

Pie Pie Make A Pie……. How To Build A Sandcastle!

When we were younger, my mum always sang a silly tune each time we were building sandcastles. When we got to the stage of tipping our buckets over and tapping the top, my mum always sang “pie pie make a pie, if you don’t I’ll beat your bum”.

I know that in this day and age thats not very politically correct, but can I just say that my mum never in fact ‘beat my bum’!

Since we have had fantastic weather this week and have spent more time in the garden, than in the house I took a quick trip to the toy store last night and bought Rachel and Jake a sandpit. Jake has hardly moved from it since I set it up. He just loves to get his hands dirty.

As I helped him build and then destroy the castles one by one, I found myself singing my mums rhyme “pie pie make a pie…….”. Jake of course picked it up very quickly.
Gerard and I almost collapsed with laughter as we watched Jake from the garden bench tonight. Now every time he builds a castle, one hand is patting the bucket and the other is patting his wee bum as he sings his castle making ditty. Its definately one of those Kodak moments. I really must charge the battery one my video camera!

Firsts and Lasts, My Baby's Milestones

It has been playing on my mind recently that every development that Daniel makes carries him one step closer to being a toddler and one step further from being my wee baby.

It dawned on me this week that while with Rachel everything she did was a first for us, everything Daniel does is a last.

We are pretty sure that we won’t be having any more children. So this is the last one of my babies I will breastfeed, wean to solids, walk the floors with at night as he cries with teething pain or rock to sleep.?My eyes?are filling?up as I type.

I love watching all my children grow and develop. They are all at such fantastic stages right now.

Jake is becoming so sociable and was invited to his friends birthday party last week for the first time. His speech is amazing and he loves just sitting and chatting with us. Very often Rachel will go off to do her own thing, but Jake is always there, wanting to be involved.

Rachel is?changing every day.?Everyone is commenting on how different she is beginning to look. She is losing her baby face and starting to look like a ‘Big Girl’. I can now almost see what she will look like when she grows up. She can melt me with her big brown eyes,?I know they will always be her most beautiful feature. Rachel as always is just full of love.

Daniel is crawling, eating unpureed food (he was eating handfuls of cooked carrot and swede strips tonight), laughing almost all the time and not spitting up on us nearly as much. He is babbling?constantly and all day, every day Rachel and Jake will compete with each other on who can make the baby laugh the most.

These are all moments that?I am so grateful to have experienced. Its hard to get my head around the fact that this is it. This is our family. It makes me treasure these memories even more.

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What Makes You Happy?

Mind Hacks? are producing a programme for BBC2 beginning this week called ‘The Happiness Formula’.

In a bid to find out what makes people happy, the BBC have put up their own Happy Tips webpage. It is well worth a look. Suggestions for finding happiness include

* Practicing Forgiveness
* Being Grateful For The Good Things In Life
* Being a Little Crazy Now and Again
* Don’t Make Money Your God
* Stop Reading The Newspapers

I have to say there’s not much there that I would disagree with!

What makes me happy……thats an easy one: my friends and my family. I try to avoid negative people wherever possible, avoid needless worrying, avoid debt (that’s a big one!)and try to concentrate on the positive things in my day and my life. It works for me!

Breastfeeding, Cracked Nipples, The First Difficult Weeks

Just the other day my mother and I were discussing the obvious benefits of breastfeeding and pondering as we often do why more people don’t give it a try.

I mentioned that like Esther at All Things Creative, I always found the first few weeks very difficult. No matter what position I tried to feed my baby in I always ended up in great pain, with cracked and bleeding nipples.After the birth of Daniel I was even tempted to give up and try bottle feeding for a change.

However each time, as soon as my baby turned 3 1/2 weeks, the pain disappeared as if by magic and from then on breastfeeding was the easiest and most beautiful experience in the world.

My mum, in her infinite wisdom, came up with a great analogy for the process. She believes that breatsfeeding is like learning to play the guitar. Stick with me it makes sense in the end (kinda).

When you begin to play the guitar you end up with very painful and blistered fingertips, caused by holding the strings for too long. But after a few weeks of practice your fingertips form callouses and the pain disappears. In my mothers mind breastfedding is very much the same thing.

I don’t like the thought of calloused nipples though……not very sexy at all!

Money Saving Tips: Recycled Gifts

Over on Parenting Ideas today is listed some tips to help parents save some cash.

One that?I use frequently is recycling gifts. Very often my kids are bought clothes that do not fit them, or that they grow out of before they wear, they also receive at least a few duplicate?toys and games?each year.

I never throw these out. Rather I keep them in my ‘gift box’ and sooner or later an occasion arises when?I can repackage them as a gift for someone else.

Obviously?I don’t do this?for my closest friends or family. But when Rachel gets invited to one of her friends many birthday parties, quite often I can save myself some money by wrapping a something from my gift box rather than purchasing something new.

Also if a mum from school or mother and toddler group has a new baby, I may just have the perfect gift for them.

I don’t see it as being tight fisted or mean. Just a way of recycling something that would be of more use to someone else.

Does anyone else have any good money saving tips?

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Educational, Fun And Christian. Why I Love VeggieTales!

Last year a friend who is currently living in The United States Of America sent Rachel a birthday gift.

I helped her unwrap it and found a strange looking video cassette with animated vegetables on the cover, it was called VeggieTales.

We put it on and it turned out to be a version of the bible story ‘David and Goliath’ with animated vegetables taking the starring roles.

Rachel loved it! I don’t know if it was all the songs or the funny looking characters but she watched it repeatedly for days. For Christmas she got the personalised VeggieTales CD which again tormented us for a long time. Its quite cool and features songs like ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’ and ‘God Is So Good’

There seems to be a whole range of this stuff and although I am by no means a super christan I do have a strong faith and I want to pass this faith onto my children. VeggieTales helps intoduce them to bible stories and christian concepts in a very fun manner and in my experience lessons that are learned through fun tend to be remembered most easily.

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Breastfeeding: How Fathers Can Get Involved!

A major report published by Fathers Direct for Fathers Day named Aka Pygmies as the “Best Dads In The World”.

Apparently the Aka Pygmy men spend more of their time infant care giving than the males of any other society. They even go as far as offering their nipple to a crying baby to soothe it until their mother is ready to breastfeed.

The Pygmy men are also the ones who get up and settle the baby at night and spend a couple of hours at a time holding the baby close to their body during the day.

What I wouldn’t give to be a Aka Pygmy women! They seem to have it easy.

I am very lucky to have a husband who takes pride in being a very active father, but I think that even he would draw the line at breast feeding the baby. And as for night feeds, I should be so lucky!