Friday, 26 August 2011

Tickled pink

Annabel usually has to 'hit the ground running' when it comes to mornings in our house. The 'waking order' more often than not, looks like this;

1st - Joseph.

2nd - M.

3rd - Yours truly.

4th - Annabel.

As a result, Annabel is often sleeping peacefully while the three of us have had a chat, discussed this, that or the other, had a shower, gotten dressed and so on.

By the time Missy wakes up, we're ready for breakfast, ready to get on with the day, but we like to have brekkie together, so I set about waking her up - slowly though, nicely - and as she opens her eyes, I scoop her up, mention breakfast and down we go.

This morning was one such morning and as I clattered down bowls of cereal in front of them, she was still rubbing her eyes and started eating with her head leaning on one hand. However, not wanting to be left out of the conversation, she chipped in.

"Last night, I didn't have any dreams at all".

We all looked at her and M answered.

"Didn't you darling?"

"No", she continued. "I didn't have any dreams 'cos I was too busy sleeping".

Our laughter made her wonder what she'd said that was so funny.

Sweet Missy.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

J'aime Devon

Hands up who missed me?

Oh, come on, get those hands up, whaddya mean you didn't even notice???


Regardless, I have been away, on our wonderful week in the sun together (and occcasional drizzle) to Devon and I have to say, I like Devon a LOT!!

I know I spend a lot of time banging on about how much I love the Isle of Wight - and I do - but there's something about Devon. It's just so beautiful! I love the patchwork fields in varying colour, paricularly the rape fields (btw, why does something as pretty as the rape plant have a name with such awful associations? And don't anyone bother telling me the name is derived from the Latin for turnip!!).

The week started well, mostly because we drove to Devon in our new car (ooOOOHHH!!!!!). Well, nearly new car at any rate. This meant I wasn't worried about anything breaking down on our journey, it meant we all had more leg room, it meant everything managed to fit in the boot rather than in all the footwells, and with a bigger engine, it meant we climbed all road undulations with ease, no more screaming up hills at 35 mph on the motorway, with me leaning forward over the sterring wheel, willing the car onward, ha-HAH!!!

Ok, so my savings have all gone, who gives a stuff!! As my neighbour says (repeatedly), "it's only money".

He does have more of it than me, but this statement seems to fall on deaf ears, repeatedly.

Anyways, the week could only get better from then on but before I let the pictures do the talking for me, I must make special mention of St. Winifred's church in Branscombe. It was a beautiful little place that we stopped in at on our way to a National Trust property nearby, for our pre-requisite cream tea. I do love a little bit of history and some of the tombstones date back to the 1200's!!!


But like I said, here are some pics. As always, click to enlarge.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Art of Roughhousing

Have you ever seen a Seal?


What about a Cat Leap?

’ course you have.

Have you ever seen Alaric the Barbarian? Eh? A Greek Catapult? A Full Squadron Water-Balloon Fight?

Have you ever been a Ninja Warrior?

What are you talking about man, I hear you shout!

Well, I know I usually review the books that I read on a day to day basis for your perusal, and that seeing one such review here would come as no particular surprise to you. But a short while ago I was very kindly asked, by a publisher, to review a book that would be sent to me, if I was interested. How exciting, I thought, a publisher contacting little ol’ me.

Absolutely, I said, send it on through ‘eye-mediately!’ This he duly did, and my very well packaged book arrived very swiftly indeed. In fact, I was so impressed, that I promised myself I would get a hurry on, read the book as quickly as I could and get my review online for Mr Publisher to see, proving to him how incredibly reliable an individual I am, thus possibly being entrusted with future books requiring a review.

On the other hand, I could keep promising myself to read it, that I could always come back to the book I was reading at the time, that it would be far politer to do what I had said I would do, rather than keep putting it off, looking like a slacker, possibly risking not having new books sent to me as I took too long to do a simple review.

Would you like a minute or two to guess at which avenue I took? No? You think you’ve nailed it already, do you?

Well for those of you who thought I took the second option, that I merely procrastinated pathetically, well done to you, spot on. I don’t know why I do it!! I don’t mean to not do something, but in my world, in here, inside my head where it’s all warm and cosy – sometimes bright yellow, other times a rather mucky grey – I think time goes by much slower than in real life. In my head I think, “ooh, that book needs reviewing, I’ve had it a week”, when in fact it’s been closer to a month (or two).

I’m glancing over at the book cover as I type, trying to think up a valid reason why it’s taken me so long. And I think I have one. I think the reason it took so long was this; it’s a book that you don’t need to read from start to finish. It’s a ‘dip-in, dip-out of’ type of book. You can read a couple of pages and then put it down while you put into practice what you’ve read so far. If it were a novel, well, I tend to read those from beginning to end, here we go, there it was, job done. Thank you very much.

This book wasn’t like that.

The title of the book is the title of this post – The Art of Roughhousing.

Now if, like me, you have absolutely no idea what roughhousing is, the rest of the text on the front cover expands. Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It.

Horseplay, ahhhh, I get it now. Yes, of course - I happen to be a bit of a dab hand at horseplay, sometimes a little too good at it. It has been known for me to indulge in horseplay at ‘not-necessarily-the-most-appropriate-moments’.

Still, I digress.

Let me tell you about the book, the good bits first.

It’s a great looking book, nice and chunky, but importantly (for me), not too large – it’s slightly smaller than A5, so wouldn’t take up too much room in your bag, it might even fit in a large jacket pocket – and the basic premise of the book is this; As parents, we all know that the health and safety of our children is of utmost importance – just don’t let health and safety influence your playtime together to the point of sterility.

It’s boring!! Let yourselves go a bit!

For anyone who has ever had a pillow fight with their son or daughter, that’s roughhousing. For anyone who has ever laid on their back, put their legs in the air and balanced their child on the bottom of their feet, that’s roughhousing. Although there are some very familiar looking ‘things to do’ in the book, there are lots of new ideas – when you see some of them, you might think that they’re rather obvious but the ones that aren’t familiar look exciting. I think the most fun way to approach this book is to try some of them without your child knowing you have the book. Then, leave the book lying around for them to “find”. They’ll enjoy choosing what they deem to be the most fun looking ‘games’ and challenges.

Each challenge is arranged according to age and a difficulty level is assigned. Obviously a certain degree of personal interpretation is required – only YOU know what your own child will or won’t enjoy. The book opens with the ‘philosophy’ behind roughhousing and this, for me, is both a positive and a negative aspect of the book. The thing is, I’m not sure how many readers will feel the need for this philosophy spelt out to them.

The first chapter (admittedly titled “Our Bold Claim for Roughhousing”), makes some … erm … bold claims about … ummm …. roughhousing. For example, ‘Roughhousing makes kids smart’. I quote - “animal behaviourists have observed that the smarter the species, the more it’s youngsters engage in physical play …… roughhousing releases a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)”.

'Roughhousing makes Children Ethical and Moral'. ”Animals with the highest level of moral development also engage in the most play”. Hmmm, not entirely sure about that one either, to be honest. There are, however, more realistic claims. ‘Roughhousing Brings Joy’ or ‘Roughhousing Makes Kids Physically fit’, although you could argue that these should be filed under ‘Bleeding Obvious’.

But this is part of the book’s problem. Sure, there are lots of clever quotes from important sounding people from their important sounding books but it’s too sociological, too psychological. I started reading word for word, but admit I ended up skipping rather a lot of pages to get to the nitty-gritty. Like I said, you would flick past some of the ‘Things to do’ in this book, just because they are so obvious – Raucous Pillow Fight let’s face it, is just a pillow fight with the word ‘raucous’ at the start. Others are less than realistic – the ‘Full Squadron Water Balloon Fight ‘recommends’ you start with 300 water balloons (three hundred???) for an hours worth of ammunition.

For me, the book gave some great little ideas, or sometimes a new slant on an idea I already put into practice. However, it tried to organise and compartmentalise something that is supposed to be spontaneous, sometimes lasting only minutes, at other times, even less.

Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe I’m just such a terrific Dad, I’ve already put into practice what other Dads struggle to do, or find difficult to approach with their children. Maybe they don’t have time to do any of this stuff with their children, maybe I’m just luckier than they are in that respect?

Either way, to sum up this book, I’ll say this.

This smart looking, cleverly sized book is just the sort of read that I would’ve picked up and flicked through at the bookshop, smiling at some of the things to do, before buying it and bringing it home. Then, like I said, I would’ve read some of it, flicked past more of it, before putting some of the games into action. I would probably pat myself on the back for having already done much of what is discussed in the book, before bemoaning the fact that my dodgy back won’t allow me to do much of it for too much longer, especially as my children grow ever taller and heavier.

Honest opinion?

If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve put this on my “books to buy online” list and waited for it to be available at less than the $15 (or roughly £9) printed on the back cover. A great looking book which is half full of stuff you don’t know and half full of stuff you already know.

Now go get those pillows!!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Anti-distinctly-minty Part II

A quick snippet of a post, something that made me laugh.

Annabel and Joseph followed me into our office / study / spare room this evening, when they were supposed to be brushing their teeth. They were, of course, merely delaying the 'getting into bed' process.

M' called out something to me and I answered. As I did so, they both repeated what I'd said. M' couldn't hear me over the noise, so asked me again. I repeated what I had said, louder this time, and again, they both copied me, sniggering a little this time.

"Can you both stop that and brush your teeth please", I moaned.

"Can you both stop that and brush your teeth please", they replied, their words breaking up with the incredible humour of it all.

"It's not funny, you know that right?" I countered.

"It's not funny, you know that right?" They returned fire, almost helpless with laughter by now.

"Antidisestablishmentarianism", I said, almost quietly.

Joseph stopped in his tracks, but Annabel bravely turned, still smiling, and said, "Anti" (brave start) "distance-television".

Joseph and I both burst out laughing and I scooped her up, as she threw her head back and laughed along with us, knowing full well she'd made a right pig's ear of the game.

Dad - 1

Kids - 0