That’s one hell of a playlist

We drove in to London yesterday to attend a screening of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, The Long Haul (expect a review tomorrow or the day after). The car ride itself wasn’t particularly memorable other than the roads being more quiet than typical for a Sunday morning, but the radio provided some unexpected entertainment.

I have my car radio tuned in to Absolute Radio (Virgin Radio in old money) and they were playing their usual mixture of 90’s onward rock. This annoys my wife as I’m not down with it (her car is tuned to Radio 1) but I’m too old and too set in my ways to change.

Things took a turn for the surreal when we got to Staples Corner. I’ve always had a soft spot for Depeche Mode’s Violator album but not to the point I’ll inflict it on others, so image my surprise when Personal Jesus came on and the boy started singing along to it. By the second verse his sister had joined in. I’m struggling to think where they could have heard it before; they’ve probably heard the Johnny Cash version on his America IV album (they also love Hurt from that album too) but they nailed it pretty perfectly. View Full Post

The Challenges Of Being A Parent

Being a parent is rewarding, but often challenging with lots of responsibilities to handle. It’s a full-time job with constant ups and downs, with many parents exhausted by the end of each day, and who could really use a break.

There are particular difficulties that come with raising children, with well-known trials and tribulations most parents will all relate to pretty easily. See the challenges of being a parent and the tips for overcoming these obstacles.

Siblings

Raising one child is hard, but additional children bring it to an entirely new level. Dealing with siblings isn’t easy. This is especially true depending on the different ages you’re juggling and their maturity levels. Try to spend time apart with each child on an individual basis so you can get to know them. Also, make time for the family to be together. It’s about letting each person’s personality shine without judgement and too much parenting.

Schedules

It’s very challenging to raise children when they have different schedules. One child is heading to baseball practice one night, while the next is going to dance class another. They’re usually not on the same schedule, and that makes it hard on the parents. See if there’s a team car pool you can join or switch nights with your spouse. Not that you want to limit their activities, but maybe help them find one or two they’d like to focus on instead of a bunch.

Expenses

Let’s be honest, kids are expensive. There’s always a bill to pay or a fundraiser to fund, and it seems neverending. Don’t get frustrated. Lay out a budget for what you’ll be able to spend for the year and stick to it. The expenses will get away from you quickly if you don’t put boundaries in place and write it down. Also, don’t be afraid to say no.

Bedtime

Bedtime is always a struggle. The kids want to stay up while the parents have been ready to go to bed for hours. Sleep is important to their development and well-being, so this is one area it’s okay to be strict. A consistent bedtime will help them function better at school and help you function better at work. They’ll try to fight you on it, but you need to be strong.

Cars

If your kids are old enough to drive, then this will be a constant battle. A Mini Edinburgh is a great car for getting around in, and it’s also extremely easy on the eyes, beating all those ugly family car stereotypes. Purchasing another car for the family will be an investment but may help you out in the long-run. It’s also an excellent way to teach your kids responsibility if you allow them to drive the vehicle. Let them know they need to keep the car in proper shape and clean inside and out. It’s difficult having a big family with few cars, so you may enjoy the flexibility it brings to the household.

Conclusion

Parenting is a tough job. It comes with a lot of obligations and duties. There are ways to make life easier on yourself. The challenges of being a parent are real, but you don’t have to let them consume you.  

When I was young motoring was more fun

When I was younger and driving was less about transporting three children about without any of them being sick or needing to go to the toilet, things were a lot more fun and I often used to go out for a drive just for the fun of it. Although it took me unti my third car to get to something resembling a hot hatch (okay, it was a warm hatch, even then in 2000- a Seat Ibiza sport with a 100BHP under the bright yellow bonnet), I sill managed to have some epic fun in my first car.

C207 VCT- they say you always remember the registration of your first car and I certainly do. It was a one litre Vauxhall Nova that had 77,000 miles on the clock when I got it (when I traded it in, I was up to 119,000 and would have kept it but I was driving 70 miles a day and the ignition had just caught fire). It had a manual choke too. Most people today won’t have experienced one of those and many of us that did have probably forgotten all about them!

We went on adventures though, my Nova and I. Perhaps the most epic one involved me and three mates driving from Lancaster university over into the Yorkshire Dales for a night sleeping under the stars. The trip was epic for a number of reasons, 50BHP in an ageing car and four lads over 6ft made for some exciting hills. In fact we needed a good run up for most of them and when we didn’t, notably at Snake Pass, I actually had to make the passengers get out while I drove up! Cars lose power with age and I’m guessing mine was somewhere in the low 40s BHP when we attempted all this.

Still, we slept in our sleeping bags at the side of a single track road that was more grass than road, enjoying the dog days of the university summer term. It was beautiful and serene up there, the tranquiity only being interrupted by Matt’s terrible puns and Dave’s snoring.

Driving a small light car around stunning country roads is exciting and whilst it might not offer the exact same thrills as driving a Jaguar F-Type like the Top Gear lads might, it’s still good fun, and eminently within the reach of younger drivers, especially given you could check out something like the young driver insurance from RAC.

The other most memorable trip in my Nova was memorable for perhaps the wrong reasons. You have to bear in mind I did this before the days of satnav and I hadn’t done a great deal of distance driving. Five of us were in the Nova heading from Lancaster to south Wales for a long weekend with one of the university societies. We passed the sign on the M6 for North Wales and I thought, “Not us, we want south Wales!”. Yes, I didn’t realise that the M6/M1 swung in easterly, and by the time I did we were almost at Northampton. We got to the backpackers lodge about 5 hours later than everyone else, having driven about 3 times the distance. Oddly enough the girls I’d given a lift down to both made alternative arrangements for the return trip! That is the sort of mistake you only make once though!

Failing on World Free Comic Book Day

A post shared by David Pearson (@allmec) on

Saturday was, as the title suggests, free comic book day. We failed at this fairly spectacularly. The ten year old had been made aware of it by some other agency than me, so had his usual unrealistic expectations. No, you’re not going to be able to get the shops entire stock of Spider-Man comics for free, what there will be is a limited number of a few specific titles.

As it turned out, when we made it to the comic shop just after lunch, there were no comics at all. As we mooched around, several small boys came in and approached the chap behind the counter who had to tell all of them that the free comics ran out a couple of hours previously. I imagine the people queuing for the shop to open got the majority of them; free isn’t really free if you have to invest the time to queue, and we had plans first thing. View Full Post

Now it’s summer – Amazon, and a BBQ

A couple of weeks ago now I was invited to the Amazon Now It’s Summer rooftop BBQ in London. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to blog about it as I thought it would sit well with a lovely upturn in the weather but since outside is still doing it’s best impression of late Feb/early March, I’ve scrapped that idea. Ironically Amazon’s  #NowItsSummer store itself is actually weather reactive when it comes to recommendations- if it’s sheeting it down outside, you can guarantee it’s clever algorithms won’t be recommending suntan lotion; you’re much more likely to get brollies or wellies. Perhaps I can stop asking my Echo Dot what the weather is going to be like every morning and just check out the Now Its Summer Store. View Full Post

This time of year

Although we had horrible hailstorms the other day, and I’ve woken up to a ground frost outside on more than one occasion this week, I can safely say from a personal perspective I like April/May quite a lot. It’s the profusion of bank holidays that does it for me; two and Easter and two book ending May. Coupled with the clocks going forwards, and more daylight anyway, it really seems that we’ve told winter to sod off and things are getting better.

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3 Ways to Decorate Your Kid’s Bedroom

Decorating your kid’s bedroom doesn’t need to be an arduous affair. There are simple, fun and cheap ways to get the job done. Although if you do have the time and energy for an elongated project then, by all means, go ahead and there are options for that as well. Anyway, without further ado here are some great ways to decorate your kid’s bedroom.
Painting

Kicking things off with a larger more involved project, you could use a stencil and paint part or all of the room. This is a great excuse to get you children involved and it will make the whole room mean more to them. It is probably best not to pick something overly specific like The Avengers or Disney because you run the risk of the youngsters outgrowing them. Instead focus on something broader than they also like such as forests, under the sea or mountains. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated and a little love an attention goes a long way. Also, the fact that the kids are involved in the painting will mean they’ll appreciate the room even more.

New Bed
One easy way to change the feel of a bedroom is to just change the bed. Be careful though and plan ahead. You don’t want to be buying a new bed each year because your kid has gotten too tall or no longer like their car bed. Bunk beds generally go down well. Especially if the lower half can be used as a sofa and as a spare bed for friends. If you do go down the new bed route, then places like Bedstar have a great range and have next day mattress delivery. Either way be sure to measure the room first because you don’t want to get a bed home and find out it won’t fit for one reason or another.

Wall prints
Wall prints are fantastic. They come in nearly every size, shape and design. If your kids love Batman or Barbie then there are wall prints that they’ll get a real kick from. Whatever their interests you are bound to find somewhere that makes a wall print they’ll like. Parents might also find plenty of wall prints that go great in their bedroom, too. The other great thing about wall prints is that they can easily be replaced or removed should your child outgrow that specific interest. They don’t cost as much as wallpapering and can be put up and taken down in a fraction of the time, what’s not to love.

(No) Fear of the Dark

The Fates colluded yesterday to leave me the house to myself in the evening. The lady wife was off in Birmingham at an overnight course and the kids were having a sleepover as I had been invited to Amazon’s Summer BBQ. As the hailstones fall as I’m writing this, I’m smirking at the idea of a summer BBQ but it was good fun and it’s always nice to get out occasionally.

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Marvel’s Iron Fist a Netflix Originals

Whatever Iron Fist have have had in terms of reviews, I’m loving it. I didn’t get the opportunity to binge watch it when it came out last month as I was too busy with work and external commitments (and we were watching Sleepy Hollow but sshhh, don’t tell anyone). It’s more enjoyable than both Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and, at the moment at least as much fun as Daredevil. Danny Rand is simply a nicer person than Matt Murdoch, which makes it easier to empathise with him. I love the fact that Danny is determined to be nice to everyone, despite their intentions for him, it’s unusual to see but I suppose reflect the Buddhist teachings that sit behind Kung Fu. View Full Post

Easy Ways to Make a Family Day Out Go Smoothly

Do all of your family day outs run as smoothly as they should? If not, there are many practical ways you can address this problem. Once you deal with the main issues that have the potential to ruin these special occasions, you will be able to relax more, enjoy your family days out and create many happy memories you can look back on fondly in years to come. Below are some of the easiest ways to make a family day out go smoothly.
Parking
Finding parking when you’re away from home can be a frustrating experience. However, if you use websites like yourparkingspace.co.uk where you can find and book a parking space nationwide, you will save yourself a lot of time and avoid the pressures that come with finding a suitable place to park.
Once you have found your parking space on the day of your trip, it’s also essential to be able to locate it at the end of the day. Look for nearby landmarks or signs that will make it easier to find your vehicle when you need to look for it later on. This simple step will once again save you time and reduce your stress levels.
Organisation and Planning
Before you set off on your journey, it’s a good idea to be as organised as possible and plan ahead for your trip. Make sure you bring all of the items you and your family members need. Researching your destination on tripadvisor.co.uk and finding out more about what it has to offer will also ensure that you get the most out of your next family day out.
Organising your family is another key factor you need to consider. If you are visiting an unfamiliar destination, make sure everyone stays together, you identify a specific meeting point if you split up, and that everyone knows each other’s mobile numbers if they have a mobile phone.
Keeping the Kids Entertained
Long car journeys can be hard work when you have small kids in the back. iPads are great at keeping kids occupied but not all parents like to see their kids using these electronic devices for long periods of times. For some more traditional activities download free printable puzzles from tescoliving.com. They include word searches, brain teasers, and dot to dot puzzles.

First Aid and Dealing with Emergencies
Unfortunately, things can go wrong when you travel with your family. However, the quicker you react to any problems that do occur, the quicker everyone can get back to enjoying their day out. Packing a first aid kit and items required in an emergency will give you this flexibility and allow you to deal with a wide range of accidents and incidents that can occur.
Clothes and Accessories for All Weather Conditions
In many areas of the country, weather conditions can be unpredictable. To help you deal with everything Mother Nature throws at you, it’s wise to bring clothing for different types of weather conditions, including sun cream, hats, and any other accessories you believe are necessary.
Keep Food Fresh
When you go on a family day out, there are many mouths to feed. Therefore, it’s vital to keep all of your food and drink cool and fresh. Investing in storage items such as cling film, lunch boxes, flasks and zip-lock bags will ensure that you and your family will be able to consume and enjoy these items throughout the day.
A family day out should be a memorable occasion for everyone involved. Following the tips above will make it more likely that this will happen and that everything will go as smoothly as possible.