Friday, 25 July 2014

Re-drawing the lines of Battle

I've written many many many times about the struggle to get our kids to bed. Now that the school holidays have started, the war has entered a new phase and it's getting harder and harder. I'm having trouble actually getting the boy ready for bed. Ned is relatively easy, because at the end of the day I can tuck him under my arm and carry him up to the bath. Fifi, by and large, sort of does what she's told (as long as it doesn't involve picking up stuff).

But the boy? Oh boy...

He has redrawn the battle lines and now it's almost impossible to even get him to acknowledge it's time to get ready for bed. The other night I called and called him for his bath but didn't get a response so I had to go downstairs and haul him back upstairs for his bath. While I was brushing the teeth belonging to the other two kids, he snuck downstairs and didn't respond to calls. This eventually wound me up a bit because I had to go down to get him, which meant Ned followed me, which in turn meant Fifi followed Ned as she didn't want to be upstairs on her own. While I hunted the boy down, Ned went foraging for snacks, which meant I had to brush his teeth again, and Fifi generally got in the way.

I found the boy kicking a beach ball style football around in the sitting room. He completely ignored me and had what I refer to as the "smirk of not going to do what you've asked me to" plastered across his face. He didn't respond to a word I said, so I snapped. It had been a long week, it was very hot, and I was tired and fed up. I don't often lose my temper but I did. I grabbed his football, dug my fingers into it and ripped it almost in half.

Good grief.

The hat: tactically an error
The tantrum that followed was astonishing and went on for almost two hours. Apparently that ball was the best toy he'd ever had and he loved it so much he'd even given it a name. I may have made a tactical error by appearing in the doorway to his room wearing the football after a hour or so but I couldn't resist it.

Eventually wifey had to tell him that the neighbours were going to call the police if he didn't stop the racket and that seemed to do the trick.

Poor little Ned- during the shouting and screaming, I kept on checking on Ned and he was huddled under his covers. He kept on saying sorry, as though it was his fault, which it evidently wasn't.

The next day I popped into Wilkos and bought three similar balls for a quid each, which seemed to do the trick but long term it's not going to help me get the kids upstairs for bed is it?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I'm heading up to the Commonwealth Games with Virgin Media

This Sunday will see me board a train out of Euston 'ere dawn has cracked to head off to Glasgow for a day of track fun at the Commonwealth Games. I must admit it has been a struggle these past few days since the World Cup finished as there has only been a finite amount of sport to go round and lets face it cricket doesn't really cut the mustard because they're always stopping to eat- lunch, tea, what next? Tiffen and supper I suppose. Anyway since the Empire Games went out of favour, what with the end to Empire and all that, we've clocked up 19 Commonwealth Games, with the twentieth to kick off on Wednesday in Glasgow. Just as well that's where I've got my train ticket to really, I'd feel a bit of plum turning up to entirely the wrong city, even if an overnight hotel stay would ensure a gentle nights rest away from my three sleepless adorable children.

I've always had a soft spot for the Commonwealth Games as they include some sports that the Olympics might turn their nose up at but are great fun to watch, such as lawn bowls and netball. When I was growing up we used to live opposite the England under 18 Netball Captain but that's an entirely different story and not one I had better go into too much detail over now I think about it.

I'll be at Hampden Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon watching all the early heats of the 100m, which is going to be dead exciting. Hopefully I'll get to see Mr Bolt strolling the last ten metres utterly in control of his heat- the man is absolutely a joy to watch. Of course he had better hope I've not out done him on Virgin Medias Race Bolt experience beforehand, since that may well put him off his stride, not to say his chicken nuggets...

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: Dulux Bedroom in a Box (Peppa Pig)

Dulux have been sneaking off to night school and study a course of Cunning Plans and this, the Dulux Bedroom in a Box, is the result. Each kit is enough to decorate a kids bedroom- it contains a really cool Walltastic wallpaper mural (and that's something we've reviewed before), some satinwood paint for the woodwork, a 2.5L tin of Dulux paint in a colour complementary to the mural, and a sachet of wallpaper paste. You don't have to stick the mural up with wallpaper paste if you don't want to, you can use Walltastic double sided tape (not included) if you'd rather.

We opted for the brush and wallpaper paste approach. Partly because we don't have anywhere locally that stocks the tape but mostly because the rest of the family were hoping for a Frank Spencer moment. Fortunately the Bedroom in a Box is dead simple to use; it contains all the stuff you need barring a papering table, wallpaper brush and a sizing brush and the other accoutrements you'll need for painting.

Being not an enormously organised chap, we received our Bedroom in a Box late and I've just finished applying it over the hottest weekend of the year. Yes, I wore a 1980's style sweat band whilst wallpapering.

Actually, before we got going we had to do a fair amount of preparation. Firstly I had to remove the tatty border that had been picked at for the last year, then we gave the mural wall a couple of coats of Dulux Daffodil white all over (the mural is just over 2 metres wide whilst the wall is two and a half). This covered up all the wanton vandalism visited upon the walls over the last few years of Fifi's life.

Because nothing is easy, I had "help". Fortunately the help soon got tired and decided to have a nap.

Even in the heat, 2 coats of paint take a while to dry, so it was very much a case of doing the painting one day and the wallpapering the next. Of course, since Fifi was still sleeping in her bedroom, it also meant spending half an hour at each end moving furniture about. Such is life.

The mural we put up was the Peppa Pig one. At five, Fifi is probably getting towards the end of her love of all things Peppa but she was incredibly enthusiastic about having it up and keeping her out of the room whilst I've been installing it has been a problem and a half.



But what did Fifi make of the final result, I hear you cry. Well...

Plan UK: Because I am a Girl Campaign #FGMrose



As a father to a girl, I find the whole concept of female genital mutilation (sometimes euphemistically called female circumcision- I was circumcised as a youth and the phrase is utterly not relevant in this situation, in fact it's use makes me boil) utterly reprehensible. So when Plan UK asked me to help publicise their campaign, I obviously agreed. Even though I'm obviously not a girl. The thought that someone could decide that this is the right thing to do to little girls like my daughter is outrageous in today's society and it needs to be stopped.

A major new push as part of the world’s biggest girls’ rights campaign is set to tackle Female Genital Mutilation. Children’s charity Plan UK is calling for the practice to be eradicated as part of its flagship Because I am a Girl work.

The charity vowed to act as research reveals 125 million girls and women the world over are living with the consequences of being cut. Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign has reached 58 million girls worldwide to date, including work to eradicate FGM and child marriage.

Though illegal in the UK and many other countries, a number of complex cultural and social reasons mean FGM is still practised, such as a belief it protects chastity. Plan's projects in Africa and Asia have shown that having knowledge of the harmful impact of FGM, as well as understanding how it is linked to discrimination against women and girls, can help end it.

If you want to find out more about Plan UKs involvement, you can read about it here.

Review: Planes, Fire & Rescue

I have to admit my experience of the first Planes movie at the cinema wasn't the greatest. I spent half an hour sat behind some giant who was leaning forward, so I only saw what was going on around the sides of him. For the rest of the feature I was in the lobby with Ned, eating popcorn as he'd had enough.

On repeated viewing at home, the original Planes didn't strike me as an awesome film; set in a shared universe with Cars, it was basically Cars but with Planes and didn't do enough for me to differentiate itself from Cars or Cars 2. This is something the sequel, Planes, Fire & Rescue addresses though and it is all the better for it.

Dusty Crophopper, star of the first film, has been red-lining his torque in order to go faster and win more races. He has a slo-mo blip where we see one of the cogs in his gearbox crack a bit and then that's it! He's told no more racing or he could break his gearbox, which is so old they can't source a replacement. Through a rather slapstick turn of events, Dusty ends up heading off to the sticks to get certified as a Fire & Rescue plane so that his town can keep their airfield open.

Dusty sees himself stationed at a National Park with the incumbent fire and rescue team, headed by the gruff Blade Ranger, a rescue helicopter. There are lots of raging wildfires to deal with and a newly restored and reopening WOODEN lodge may just cause a bit of a problem...

The themes then are complete Disney- a slightly arrogant but ultimately likeable character, who is put into an unfamiliar situation with characters who initially don't like him but whom he wins around in the end. There is even the typical grouchy mentor figure, which is de rigour in this sort of movie. Not that it matters one jot though because the film is brilliantly paced, full of likeable characters and great action pieces. The fire effects in conjunction with the 3D are simply out of this world. There is peril but since the film is squarely aimed at kids, it's mild peril, so should be suitable for all but the youngest. Even wifey, who is a cynical kids film watcher felt a tear come to the corner of her eye at one point, which was telling. The kids loved it and before the credits had even finished rolling, the boy was demanding the Blu Ray when it comes out.


Planes 2 isn't as good as the original Cars but it's better than Cars 2 AND Planes, and that's not a bad place to be really. Shorn of the need to establish new characters in a shared universe, Planes 2 benefits from being character and story focussed and is so far, the must see kids film of the summer. The opposition will have to fly some distance to beat it too. It's out in the UK on general release on 8 August.
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