Archive for 2011

Bad Parenting 101

I'm still furious about this so thought I'd share it with you all.

Yesterday we went to mothercare to take back something that was damaged and have a quick look around with Nanny G (i.e. my mother - Hi Mum). Emz was driving with Nanny G in the passenger seat and me in the back with the munchkin in her car seat. When we got to mothercare, which is on one of those retail parks, Emz found a parent and child space virtually outside and being the good driver she is pulled slightly past it to reverse in.

The following happened in the space of about a thirty seconds.

She started backing up and then slammed the brakes on. A small girl, perhaps 6 or 7, had run out behind our reversing car with a guy, her dad I'm presuming, a few steps behind. Emz gave him the 'stare of death' but didn't say anything as he walked past, and this is the bit that still has me fuming, he turned round, saw Emz staring at him and proceded to stick his middle finger up at her.

Needless to say Nanny G got out and had a few choice words with the chap.

I was stuck in the back of the car and couldn't do anything about this turn of events so had to sit it out.

Photo by Dennis Hlynsky 

Now, I often wonder what is happening to society and it is things like this that really make my blood boil. That poor girl is going to grow up thinking it is OK to run out behind moving cars and when she gets hit and seriously hurt or killed, the driver of the car that hits her will have a lifetime of torture, and no doubt will end up in prison and getting sued by the asshole parents who didn't teach their daughter right from wrong.

I think, and this is only my opinion, that it is time people were vetted when becoming parents and then schooled into how to be better parents (just think of all the employment this would create!).
After all, I go out of my way to learn how to be a better parent and give my daughter a better life, why shouldn't others?

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Wild Foods for Kids

As previously mentioned in this blog, I'm a little bit against supermarket 'fresh food' and I can't very well have a rant about how crap something is without offering an alternative. Well here is that alternative.

Here are three wild foods for you to forage for with your kids during the month of August;


Blackberry by Mark Skipper (
Everyone I know can identify a blackberry, and I'm not talking about the smartphone here. Yes, those small black fruits (actually not a berry but an aggregate fruit, which means it is made up of smaller 'drupelets') that are found in just about every hedgerow, woodland and in some gardens.
The plant these fruits grow on is the bramble and there are over 350 individual species.
This fruit can be picked and eaten from the bush or can be taken home, if you can stop eating them long enough, and made into a myriad of different dishes including crumbles, flapjacks, mousse, jam and sauces to name but a few. Whilst writing this post the woodland trust happened to put a link for a blackberry recipe on twitter, take a look - blackberry swirly whirly

Sea Buckthorn
This one is for those of you that live near to the coast, especially the coast with sand dunes. It has also been planted inland but I'm not sure if there are other ornimental shrubs that look similar so wouldn't recommend inland foraging for it.
It is very easy to identify the sea blackthorn by the seaside as it has bright orange berries that look like mini basketballs, thin grey/green leaves and big spiky thorns.
If the sweets in my local shop are anything to go by, kids will love this one as it is very sharp tasting. Not only that but in order to get at the berries you have to risk getting stabbed by the thorns and the berries also have a tendency to explode when you touch them.
The only useful part of the plant is the berry, or rather the juice from the berries, which can be made into all manor of sauces. It can be used as a very sharp cordial and I've even heard of it being used in place of lemon juice.

If you live anywhere near the countryside then you will have seen a hawthorn bush/tree. They dominate the landscape in virtually every hedgerow in the country and have a history of being a wild food. At this time of year they are covered in haws - the red berries. It is these haws you are after and getting at them is never a problem as there are always lots available to share with the local wildlife population.
You can do all manor of things with the haws from eating them raw to making jellies and jams.
If you have a chinese supermarket near you then you may also discover that they sell haws in the shape of 'hawflakes' which are crushed, flattened and dried haws sold as packets of sweets and they are delicious.

These three wild foods should be a nice starter for your kids next time you're out walking in the countryside but please do remember to get landowners permission before foraging and do not pick anything unless you are sure what it is (link below to some recommended wild food books).

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Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me

In some kind of strange blogger version of 'tag' I have been tasked with coming up with a list of ten things you didn't know about me. At first I was overcome with a feeling of absolute dread at this impossible task as the only people that read my blog are my mum and my wife. Then I calmed down and realised that maybe others might be fooled into clicking links to it and once here take pity on me and read it (if you are one of those people I can only apologise).

Squirrel by Dominic Alves

So, yes, ten things people don't know about me (not counting wife and mother).

1 - I am absolutely useless at coming up with 'top ten' lists. So there is a good chance this may fizzle out around four or five.

2 - I hate talking about myself and suffer from very acute shyness with a hint of lack of self confidence.

3 - I once trained as a chef but hate cooking. One has alot to do with the other.

4 - I can eat a multipack of crisps in a single sitting. I'm not talking six packs either.

5 - I really really really hate the taste and texture of tomatoes but eat them because they are good for me.

6 - Although I make various claims about being a hippy, I loved driving my wifes old Land Rover and miss it now that it is gone.

7 - Charles Darwin is one of my heroes.

8 - I'm scared of dogs, cows, horses, mice, birds and sheep. In that order. With many many other things coming next.

9 - I like the taste of squirrel.

10 - Of the 900+ macro moths in the UK, I can only identify about 20 (on a good day .. well, night. unless it's a day flying moth, but I can only identify one of them. I think).

There we have it, ten things about me. I'm surprised I came up with that many and I have to admit that I did struggle a bit at the end, as you may have noticed.

Now the bit where I get to pick on people *cue evil laughter*.
People that I would like to do this next are;

First time daddy

The Life and Times of A Househusband


BTW, if you don't read their blogs already then you should.


Thoughts on UK Riots

We all know what happened. We all know where it happened. These are just my thoughts on the UK riots.

The Government
Why oh why are people complaining about the government not doing enough? Yes it is crap that they made all the cuts that led to some of the problems but, at the end of the day there's nothing the government could have done in the last few days to stop the troubles.
Why were people booing Boris Johnson and Nick Clegg? It's not their fault.
Let them do what they do best, go discuss the problems, blame each other then make some crazy law.

As much as I hate the government I do not blame them.

The Police
I think the police have done an outstanding job throughout. They have had a difficult task these last few days. Back in the winter they came under fire for being too heavy handed with the student protests and the violence that erupted there (more on that in a bit), which I believe they were - there was no need to have a full on cavalry charge for example.
If they had gone in hard in the riots then they would've got themselves in trouble as they were overstretched and outnumbered, and they knew it.

The Army
Yes, I know they were not brought in and were not needed, but it is my opinion that all new army recruits should do a month or two with the police, in police uniform working on 'the beat', to get training in how to deal with the public. This would also swell the numbers of police on the street and not affect the police budgets. Then, if something like these riots happen again there are the numbers there to deal with it straight away.

The Rioters
Scum. No other way of looking at it. I've heard people go on about how the government cuts have taken away their communities but it was those communities they were smashing up.
I could go on for a long long time about how disgusted I am about all the things that have happened but there is no need.
As I said, more on the student protests in the winter. It is my very strong belief that those that incited the violence at the student protests were behind and involved in the recent riots in London and across England.

The News
I am getting tired of the selective reporting that goes on in the news. There were things that got shown only once and were not repeated (such as the woman running out of her flat above a burning shop then 3 yobs running in the door behind her to rob the place. I watched this live, no one commented on it and the only replay was the yobs trying to force open a window) and there were other things that got repeated for 3 days whilst there were other, more important, things that needed reporting.
I can understand why some things don't get reported, it could lead to more problems. But please news people, be honest with your reporting.

The Bystanders
What on earth did these people think they were doing? Standing around watching a riot and looting? Do they think that is normal behaviour? These people should of gone home, they were in the way and stopped the police from doing anything useful.
These guys, both the organisers and the people that turned up and helped out, are heros. They are the real community and need to be thanked by everyone. There is a list of causes on their website, please please go and have a look and if you can donate to one of these causes if you can.

What worries me more than anything is that my wife and I will be bringing up the munchkin in this country. We have to consider carefully how, and where, she will get her education and where we will end up living and bringing her up.

Lots of things to consider.

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Eeek, Name Change!

The more astute of you may have noticed that the name of my blog has changed (well done if you noticed). Now that you know it has changed, through noticing or being told, you may be asking yourselves why? There is good reason.

When I first joined blogger I knew I was going to be a dad and I knew my name was Neil but I didn't know what to call the blog and I didn't know what I would be writing about just yet so I just set up the url (imaginative eh?!).

When the baby was born and I had something to write about, which I still haven't written about but will get round to soon, I needed a blog name. Being a bit useless with coming up with names (we agreed on our daughters name within 2 minutes) I just thought about something that might be catchy and amusing. With this thought in mind I turned to Python. I was going to go with 'The Meaning of Dad' but then as I was typing it in thought 'well that's just being big headed, saying I know what the meaning of being a dad is. Especially as I'm a new dad'. So quickly changed it to 'The Life of Dad'.

I should explain that I was under the completely blinkered impression that if a blog name was already taken it would tell me. This isn't the case. It wasn't until this morning whilst looking for a graphic for the page header that I discovered 'The Life of Dad' was already taken.

Not only that but it's bloody good reading too.

It's my own fault for not doing my research first. I put it down to sleep deprivation.

So it is with this in mind that, for now, I've changed the name of this blog to 'The Life of a Hippyish Dad' and I will give full credit to 'The Life of Dad' and Brian Klems.

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Newbie Alert!

This was kindly used as a guest post by Tim Atkinson on his blog bringing up charlie, Which I insist you go read, if you haven't done so already. If you haven't already read any of Tims posts, why not?

For some reason, known only to the deepest darkest recesses of my brain, I took up blogging. I had thought about doing it in the past but never really had anything to blog about, but this time, this time was different. This time I was a dad. This time I had something to say.

Or so I thought.

Let me give you a brief overview of my writing experience:

* made to write some stuff at when I was at school
* I think I failed English, but I’m not sure
* I once wrote some poetry - it was crap
* The longest email I’ve ever sent was about 50 words
* I'm studying for a degree so have to write scientific reports

So I’m sure you will surmise from that rather short list that I have all the writing skills of a small Amazonian tree frog and you wouldn’t be far wrong. I’m giving it a go anyway.

So far I’ve only actually written four blog posts and to be honest they’re not that good*. But looking on the positive side, they’re better than the aforementioned poetry and they’re a start. Not only am I finding it difficult to put into words what I’m thinking (and to be fair with what goes on in my head it’s not surprising really) but I’m also finding it difficult to comprehend how big the world of ‘daddy blogging’ is.

I was aware of mum blogging as during my wife’s pregnancy we frequented the go to mums sites where there is a lot of advertising for mum bloggers. What there wasn’t, and as far as I can tell still isn’t, was the same thing but for dads. So I did some searching and found two forums and a couple of similar blogs. The forums seemed to be a dead end so I gave up on them; the blogs however were just the tip of the iceberg. From each blog I followed link after link to other dad bloggers, most of who are in the United States.

There was a whole world out there of people just like me! Well, not just like me, god forbid. The world would be a crazy, if colourful, place if the world was full of people like me. You get the gist though, I wasn’t alone anymore. I was part of something and that something was something big!

Natural progression took me onto twitter and linked me with lots of other dads. The thing is though, as a newbie who has no real idea how to write, I feel like I’m at a party where I don’t know anyone and I’m considering bolting out the front door. What I should do is make for the kitchen and grab a drink. So this post is me doing just that. Getting myself onto the dance floor and getting myself known.

So that’s about that then. I’ve used similes and metaphors, my punctuation and grammar are reasonable and my spelling should be perfect (if not, I want a new spell checker!). I’ve somehow managed to write yet another blog post and I have no doubt that when I read it back it will make little or no sense.

Hopefully this will get a few views and at least one comment that will include some tips or constructive criticism. From there I can only get better. Thanks for reading.

*When I wrote this my blog only had four posts. 


Fresh Food For Thought

I hate supermarkets.

They have all but destroyed the friendly local shops, they hold farmers and other producers to ransom, they buy up buildings they don't need just to stop rivals and they dictate our shopping habits to us - really, they do, did you need those 3 packs of sausage rolls that you got on the buy two get one free? Of course you didn't, and besides, they'll mostly all be out of date by the time you get round to eating them. - The list goes on.

Something I really hate about supermarkets is that now you have to shop in them. As I said, they've all but destroyed the local shops and those local shops that are still around cannot compete with the low supermarket prices because their rents are so high, most probably because a supermarket has moved in locally. Not only that but no one can afford to shop anywhere else, we certainly can't.

If there is one particular thing about supermarkets that really gets my goat, it is the so called 'fresh' produce they sell. You take it home and within a day it has perished and is inedible. So back when my wife was pregnant with the munchkin I vowed to grow my own veg. It was something I wanted to do anyway and having to eat healthily in pregnancy was a good enough reason for the wife to allow me to spend a little extra cash on gardening things.

So, as we're not allowed to dig up our garden due to restrictions in the rental agreement, we planted up all the containers and pots we could get our grubby little hands on and started growing like there was no tomorrow. We even invested in a 'mini greenhouse' to start things off in the cold months.

So far we've had some nice crops, if somewhat small due to the weather, and have saved ourselves a bit of cash. It is well worth the effort. Any food waste we have from the house all gets composted and the bits that aren't eaten by our resident bank voles will go back into growing us more veg. Everyone should do the same.

It really is a very satisfying feeling when you've nurtured a plant for a few months then you go out in the evening pick something that fresh and take it into the kitchen to turn it into the evenings meal.

Both the wife and I also have a knowledge of edible plants. We're not experts by any means and have a whole lot to learn but between us we do know enough to get ourselves free food, from the hedgerows, for a small feast.  (*warning* Do not pick and eat something if you don't know it is safe to eat. If in doubt leave it out!)

Free Food!
We don't have these small wild food feasts as often as we'd both like but when they do happen they brighten us both up. When the munchkin starts eating solids she will be given these same free, healthy foods. What makes these wild food feasts so good is that they are healthy, they are free and in order to get the food we have to go out into the countryside to forage for it.

What could be better than that for a health food?

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Mamas & Papas Littleland Baby Bouncing Cradle

Just before the munchkin was born we decided to buy her a bouncing chair but we didn't want to spend too much (seeing as how we're on a very tight budget). In the end we decided on the Mamas & Papas bouncing chair from Argos for £24.99 (going direct to mamas and papas will cost you another five pound and a penny!).

When we got the chair home it needed assembly and this was relatively easy when we had worked out which way up things had to go - unfortunately the diagrams for assembly were not that clear and it was a case of trial and error to get the parts up the right way.

Following the instructions we put the chair together and just needed to add the vibration unit but there seemed to be a problem. When we took the unit out of its box there was a heavy rattling coming from inside. I put some batteries in the unit and switched it on and it seemed to work so we thought nothing of it and, as we were not planning on using the vibration function, took the batteries out and added the unit to the chair.

Due to the possible safety issues I sent Mamas and Papas an email asking if it was normal for the rattling to be happening. I sent the email on the 27 May and to this day I still have not received a reply. Customer service in the UK has been sliding downhill for years now but I believe it has hit rock bottom.

The chair, or bouncing cradle as it is called, is well made with a sturdy metal frame and legs with a tough fabric covering that forms the seat. It comes with removable covers, a 'detachable head hugger' for newborn heads and a 'detachable arc' to hang toys from (not shown in above picture) but the toys do have a tendency to slip down the arc.

To try the chair out we handed it over to our semi-tame 3 week old baby who seemed to be nonplussed by it.  She looked reasonably comfortable with her head resting in the head hugger but this had a tendency of slipping down as she moved her head around. The safety harness was easy to do up and undo with the two plastic clips but I feel with continued use they may get damaged.

Over time we have come to realise that the vibrations of our car through the car seat soothe the munchkin. Due to this realisation I can see why nearly all of these bouncing chairs come with some kind of vibrate function and I could also see that it was time to try ours out.

The seat cover slipped off the frame easily allowing access to the vibrate unit which allowed batteries to be installed. Remembering that the unit had something rattling inside and being a little bit of a DIYer I undid the four screws holding the unit together and discovered that the weight that causes the vibration had come off the motor. This was easily slipped back on and the unit reassembled, inserted the batteries and replaced the seat cover.

Once again it was turned over to our semi-tame baby, who this time was in 'colic crying mode'. It had the desired effect of settling the munchkin, for a while at least, and she seemed unphased by the overall vibrating.

Overall this is a good quality and low priced product from a good company. Don't be put off by the customer service as hopefully you will not be needing to use them.

OK, so I'd better score this thing.

Cost - 9/10
Ease of assembly - 6/10
Ease of use - 9/10
Munchkin points* - 7/10
Customer service - 0/10

Overall - 31/50

This is not a sponsored post, I just felt like letting people know that although there may be some problems with customer service this is a good product, especially if on a budget.

* She has fallen asleep in it a few times and seems comfortable but has no interest in the toys.

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Thoughts from an intelligent woman Pt. II

Whilst holding a duck egg up to the window.

'There's a duck in this one'
Holding up another
'... and this one. 
And there's a duck feather on this one'. 

'I'm not having the one with the duck in!'

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Family Harvester Meal

Last week I made the manly decision of staying a few more hours at my mothers instead of getting caught up in rush hour traffic on the way home, which my wife agreed was a wise choice. Therefore to pass those few hours it was decided that we would head out and do some clothes shopping for the Munchkin then find somewhere to eat.

After the shopping was finished the Harvester was selected as our choice of eatery for the evening as it was close to where we were, we'd been there before and most important of all, it was cheap!

As it was only 5:30 in the afternoon when we arrived, the car park was about half full which made finding a space to unload a baby in easy. When the Munchkin was decanted into her pram we headed in and were greeted almost immediately by what looked like another diner. When I'd realised he was in fact a member of staff he seated us in a good area, if a little close to the air con unit (which to be honest didn't really need to be on, this is Britain not the Bahamas), with plenty of space next to the table to have the pram and not get in other peoples ways.

Within minutes the waitress had taken our drinks orders and returned with the glasses (self service on soft drinks!) and left us to decide what to eat. And what a choice there is! Of the five different menus we had the salad and grill menu, which gives you the option of a starter, a grill, a sauce, a side and a salad. Pretty much what you would expect as standard in any other restaurant, but at the Harvester you are given the impression that you can pick and choose without it being a problem. Which it is not. At any good restaurant.

One other small point about the menu, they have included calorie information on every dish, which I personally find completely pointless.

Before I go any further I want to highlight something that is on the menu, on their website and hinted at in their TV ad;

'We're always on a mission to use the tastiest and freshest food to ensure every Harvester meal is mouth watering'.

Lets hope so.

We decided to skip the starter and head straight into the main event that is the grills. Emz chose the 'Plantation Platter (920Kcal)' which consists of 'flame-grilled chicken wings, a baby rack of barbecue glazed ribs, half a spitroast chicken and crackerjack prawns, with grilled corn on the cob, grilled pineapple rings and sour cream & chive dip.' which can be had as a sharing dish or, in this case, as a dish for one.

I picked the premium burger (640Kcal) with cheese (70Kcal), burger sauce (150Kcal), crispy fries (380Kcal) and the surf and turf option (five king prawns served as a second side, 100Kcal).

Sounds nice doesn't it? It was. Nice and chunky, cheese positively oozing from it and surrounded by the crispiest golden brown chips I'd seen in a long time. Trouble was I couldn't tuck in just yet as I was feeding a baby. We had planned the meal so that the munchkin would just be getting hungry just as we were finishing our meals and didn't take into account the kitchen staff having their own idea of how long customers should wait.

When I did get round to tucking into the burger it was a little underdone but overall a very nice burger, for the price. The burger relish was a nice accompanier but tasted very much like the special sauce you get on McDonalds burgers.

As Emz was tucking into her chicken she pointed out that it was a little underdone too, but also could possibly be the light in the restaurant. She carried on with the meal regardless. It wasn't long before she started prodding at the spare ribs too. One of these, it turned out, were also undercooked and as she had got food poisoning before from undercooked pork she carried on very carefully.

Meanwhile back at the burger, I was starting to notice the meat wasn't slightly underdone as I had first thought. It was very well done in places and slightly underdone in other places. Now, I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that was not supposed to be like that. Nevermind, It still tasted good.

I hailed a passing waitress (or do we call them servers now? someone better let me know so I don't go alienating the worlds waitresses/servers) who ambled over to our table where I explained the problem with the chicken and ribs to her in a polite, I'm not actually complaining I just wanted to point this out, kind of way and Emz pointed out that it was probably just the one piece that was like it and not to worry. We don't like to complain.

So we gamely carried on with our meals and Emz noticed that, of course, none of the ribs were cooked. Due to the aforementioned food poisoning she gave up, but I finished my burger and chips. We decided that we wouldn't have dessert after all and that we should probably head back to my mums before hitting the road for the long drive home.

When the waitress/server came over to see how the meal was we pointed out that in fact the ribs were undercoooked. Her reply came as a bit of a shock to us.

"They can't be undercooked. It's all cooked somewhere else and then shipped in and reheated here".

I was gobsmacked. feel free to scroll up the page and re-read that piece of advertising gumpf that I highlighted, I'll wait.

So. Yes. Freshest food possible. It may've been fresh when it was cooked but if it had been cooked on site in the expansive kitchens that they have, the chef - no strike that, no one that just reheats food should be called a chef - the COOK would've noticed that the meat was undercooked and done something about it before it got sent out!

The waitress/server took it upon herself to take the plate of undercooked food off to the manager and left us sitting wondering what to do. After a wait of about ten minutes the waitress/server returned, sans plate, and explained that the manager had told her that the food was cooked off site and therefore cannot be undercooked.

Oh well, we're terribly sorry Mr/Mrs manager, we didn't realise that cooking off site ensures food is never undercooked! We didn't, of course say this at the time, we are far too polite.

The waitress/server then went on to say that as we were not happy, the manager has offered us one free desert. As we had decided against desert we did what all good British people do, we apologised for complaining and explained that we were just a bit worried as Emz is breastfeeding and didn't want to poison the baby. We then paid the bill in full and left.

If this was a review then my recommendations would be to avoid The Harvester chain of restaurants as they serve undercooked food that isn't fresh, as they state in their adverts.

Incidently, whilst looking around on the internet for bits about Harvester restaurants I discovered that back in 2008 they were shown on a BBC one show called 'Rouge Restaurants' for 'operating without regard for certain food hygene regulations'. Nice.

Daddy-Blogs Directory

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Parenting Enhances Paranoia

When we first brought the munchkin home from the hospital my in-laws were here for the first hour or so just to make sure we were OK, especially mum and baby. Everything had been textbook so far. Straightforward pregnancy, simple labour then a relatively normal birth. At one point there was a small audience of doctors and midwives but that must have been due to a broken staff room telly or something as none of them seemed worried at all and it was all very social.

There we were then, the three of us. Our little family. The in-laws had gone home. Myself and the wife just sat there staring at the baby in her moses basket. She was sleeping soundly and was the most beautiful and amazing thing I'd ever seen, her mum being a very close second.

As the hours started wearing on, the tiredness was really starting to kick in and our eyelids were getting very heavy. After being awake for 48ish hours and my wife being in labour for nearly 24 of those, we were both extremely tired but neither of us wanted to sleep. The reason we didn't want to sleep was a 6lb 10.5oz bundle of new human that now was the center of our lives, not to mention the center of the living room.

That afternoon/evening is a bit hazy now but I seem to remember us talking about how we didn't want to stop watching her just in case anything happened to her. We were so paranoid/worried, whatever you want to call it, that neither of us could relax. I was starting to get worried about my wife not relaxing, after all it was less than 12 hours since she'd given birth and other than being spaced out on pethadin for a few hours she hadn't had any rest.

What were we going to do? We couldn't spend the next few months not sleeping. Then I realised something. Two weeks before we had been shopping for a baby monitor had ended up buying a movement sensor pad! Our dilemma was solved, we set the sensor pad up and got some sleep.

Fast forward 6 weeks and 3 days. We're sitting watching the end of 'Kitchen Nightmares USA' with the munchkin asleep in her travel cot next to the sofa. She is due to wake up for a feed then we are going to go to bed.

Instead the movement sensor alarm starts going off.

My world is ending.

If ever a moment has moved in slow motion I had never noticed it. This I noticed and those few seconds seemed to last an hour.

My wife and myself both jumped up and her first action was to check the baby was breathing. She was. Our beautiful little girl was OK. She looked very grumpy at being woken up by us but she was OK.

I have read so many stories of parents losing their young babies and every time it breaks my heart. I feel for those that have to go through the hurt of losing a little one.

For about half hour after our little moment with the movement alarm all I could think was 'what would I have done if we'd lost her?' and I still don't have an answer.

And what of the moment sensor? We don't know why it went off. We're still using it, along with the other one in her cot upstairs. After all, we're parents and that makes us paranoid.

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Thoughts on Green(ish) Parenting

Being somewhat of a hippy one tries hard to reduce the impact one is having on that poor old chap the environment.

Well, I bloody would if it was a bit easier. In our house what we want to do to reduce that impact and what we actually do are two completely different things. For a start there's the recycling.

We collect all manner of plastics, paper, card, glass and food waste all to be taken away and turned into other things. Or at least it would be turned into other things if the local council took most of it. Yes they take plastic, paper and glass each week and they have even given out small boxes to put them in, although invariably those boxes will always be overflowing by the time they are due to be put out.

Except even that's not how it happens in our house. We don't have those boxes. I don't know why we don't have those boxes but I do know it's our own fault really as we could easily call the council and ask for new ones. It's just one of those things that we just never get round to, like cleaning out the study, it can wait till next week. In our house it all gets stored up until I can't take anymore and throw it all in the car and drive it to the local recycling center.

Straight away there goes a little bit of hippyness. I'm using a) fuel that doesn't need to be used as the council will drive round and collect the stuff and b) fuel I can barely afford. Factor in all the nasty chemicals that our car spews out and then the resources and carbon used to keep the recycling center running plus the time wasted and ... well, now I should be feeling so guilty that I start flogging myself on a daily basis. I would if I was a better person.

But that's all day to day stuff that even a non-parent would have to deal with, and we did deal with that kind of thing before becoming parents. Now that the munchkin is here we have other things to consider when it comes to environmentalism and general 'being a hippy'.

So, what do we do for the environment as parents?

Reuseable nappies? No thanks, the water and electric bill after cleaning nappies until baby is out of them would be astronomical, not to mention the environmental impact of all that extra washing. We use disposable nappies but don't like the idea that much as, like radiation, they have a half life of a few thousand years. So instead we had a look around and chose to use the Nature Babycare ones as they are 100% biodegradable. They are made from, among other things, maize (the entire sweetcorn plant, if you didn't know what it was).

We also use the same breed of nappy sacks which are also biodegradable and then there's all the shampoo and baby hot wax (or whatever some of that stuff is) that the wife bought. All of their products are good for the environment so that makes them about the best brand a hippy parent could buy. Or any parent for that matter. After all, what is the point in having a child if you are just helping to destroy the world it has to live in?

Another thing that makes them good is that they're cheaper than other brands. No really, they are. Go check your local shops.

(I should point out that I have no affiliation with the company and they're not paying me to write good stuff about them. Which is a shame.)

Another way of helping the environment and being green is looking at what food you eat and where it is sourced. If I had my way everyone would grow their own veg and learn to forage in the hedgerows and fields, but that is a rant for another day.

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Thoughts from an intelligent woman

I love my wife more than anything but I worry about her.
She is the most intelligent person I know and yet she comes out with things like this;

"What if there was a conspiracy where batteries were all rechargeable. Yet they only sell some as rechargeable and take all the others back, from those recycling bins, and recharge them to resell them."

And she meant that seriously.

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Silent Sunday


Emotional Rollercoasters

For years I've tried not to be too openly emotional  in front of friends and family and it seems to have worked. I don't think I've picked up a reputation for being someone who will burst into tears at the drop of a hat, or even as someone who doesn't have any emotion. I think I've struck a nice balance, but of course those closest to me would probably tell you I'm talking crap and I'm a big girls blouse, hopefully that's not the impression I give though.

In the past there were only a few things that could get the tears flowing, two that I can think of right now just so happen to be movies, and even then only one scene in each movie.

First up is 'Click'. I'm not a big fan of Adam Sandler, really really not a big fan. He is one of those people that seems to play the same role in every movie and to top it off he tries too hard to be funny. That said I still watch his movies and do laugh at a lot of it. Anyways, click. He goes fast forwards through life with a remote control and ends up a sad and lonely man - bummer. The part that gets me every time, well the two times I've watched it, is when he's lying in the rain dying of a heart attack. For some reason I just well up and start blubbing like a teenage girl watching Beaches.

The other movie that gets me going is Armageddon, partly because of the terrible story line but mostly the scene on the asteroid where Brucey baby has the conversation with his daughter. Emotional stuff.

Moving swiftly on. A few recent events have made me realise that I'm not actually as stable emotionally as I thought I was.

First up there is a wedding. Not just any wedding but my wedding to my gorgeous wife. I'm not sure how many other guys felt like this (mostly because most of the guys I know that are married don't talk about emotions - they're 'for girls') but the moment I turned round and saw Emma coming down the aisle towards me I welled up. I was so close to bursting into tears of joy that I had to turn away for a moment and compose myself.

Then there was the birth of my baby daughter. Every man who has a kid knows how emotional this is. In fact just today I saw this 'universal birth reaction assessment tool' from the guys at Unfortunately it doesn't have the reaction I had when Willow was born. From my vantage point* I saw my little girl get lifted onto her mums chest and I just broke down. Tears were streaming, there were some strange noises coming from somewhere down near the bottom of my ribs and to top it off I couldn't see a bloody thing. Emotional does not do justice to that feeling of overwhelming happiness.

Now whenever there is a sad story about a baby or young child on the telly I get really emotional. I know that it is because I'm a dad and that's what dads (and mums) do, we get emotional because we have something to relate to, something to look at and think 'I really love that little human there and would not want anything to ever happen to it'.

*err, yeah, I was stood at my wifes head the whole time - there was stuff going on down there I did not need to see.

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World of Happy Stereotypes

I recently bought Willow a book that I could read to her just before bedtime. It's a great little book, if a little too close to the edge of hippy dippy peace and love for my liking. It is called 'the little penguin' (sic.) and is about a penguin who is scared of going into the water. It is one of a series that are apparently based on a T.V. series called 'World of Happy' and this book is all about being brave.

It really is a wonderful story with good morals and has lots of penguins in it (one of the selling points). There is however one part of it that bugs me. The father penguin is clearly the disciplinarian and is a tad gruff to the little penguin about its fear of the water, but that is all fine, what bothers me is the fact that World of Happy seem to imply that all fathers like nothing more than cocking a leg and 'floating an air biscuit' - to use a favourite phrase*.

Don't believe me?

(sorry about the quality, had to take a photo as my scanner is buried under baby things)

Kelloggs are at it too ... kind of. I have in front of me a box of their cereal which are offering the chance to win a year of family fun. In order to win said fun you must go to a website called 'whatson4mum'. I thought dads were the source of fun? Although in fairness it was my wife that bought the box of cereal for herself so the targeting advertising must work**.

There is also the curious case of the internet forums for 'parents'. A few days ago during the 'morning shift' with Willow I was reading through some parenting forums and came across one or two threads that I felt I could reply to. I posted my replies and forgot about them until the next day. Morning shift again. Having Willow fed, changed, settled, a full cup of hot coffee (it being hot is a rare thing lately), and 5 minutes to spare I had a look to see if there were any new and interesting threads. There were and so I replied and went in search of my other posts. No answers. Okay; I thought, no problem, people have new babies and kids and take time replying. Next day was the same. No posts after mine anywhere. Call me paranoid but I started to get the feeling that people were avoiding my posts. I  checked today and there is still no replies on all but one of them. Are mothers scared of dads posting on their forums? I hope not.

To finish off this odd collection of thoughts (if you think this is bad you should hear what goes on inside my head!) I'd like to share with you something my amazing and wonderful wife, Emma, said. Whilst looking on some dad forums the following conversation took place;

Wife - What's that site you're on?
Me - It's a website for dads.
Wife - Is it good?
Me - Yes, a bit quiet but a nice change from all those motherly ones.
Wife - Hmm, Yeah I really don't like those ones. Do you think they'd let me join the dad website as a mum so I don't have to put up with all those bloody annoying women?

I love my wife.

*My wife has just informed me, after reading this, that I am just like the father penguin with regard to my gaseous outflow.
** She also informed me that the Kelloggs cereal was bought because she likes sugary kids food and not for the competition.

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