Not going swimming

Despite my best efforts we didn’t manage to go swimming today. We did everything right, got up, dressed, put the swimming kit in the bag and go in the car and drove to the local school where the kids have their Sunday lessons.

Unfortunately our best intentions were just that; intentions. It turns out that the lessons don’t start until next week, something I hadn’t checked because I knew that they started this week and why did I need to check?

This is symptomatic of me really. I wish I was more organised and better clued in. I know exactly where last term bill is, it’s in my sock drawer on the right hand side, just next to my bow-tie (clip on, my tie up one got borrowed by my brother about ten years ago and I’ve not seen it since).

On it’s own this wouldn’t have been too bad but coupled with the fact we spent ages looking for number one son’s mobile phone, only to find it in my rucksack, where he put it for safe keeping when we went to Wrest Park last weekend.

I give up.

Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and say yes, I am bloody hopeless. There’s nothing else for it unfortunately.

A great evocation of childhood in an unexpected place

Plenty of fiction gets the representation of kids wrong. Even fiction written for kids isn’t brilliant so when you read, or in this case I suppose re-read after around 30 years, something that seems to get the whole essence of being a kid nailed spot on, it’s something that is worth celebrating. This is especially the case when it’s done in a book that you’d probably not consider a fertile breeding ground for this sort of thing.

What book am I talking about? Well I’ll put you out of your misery, it’s Stephen King’s It. Yes, the one with the clown and the typical King supernatural firework display at the end that can’t help be slightly disappointing after such fine work before. I don’t think I realised at the time that Bill, Ritchie, Bev, Mike and co were so well written but that was mostly because I was almost a contemporary of the childhood incarnation of those characters when I read the book. I can’t have been more than 12 or 13 when I read It; the library’s hardback wasn’t too shabby when I booked it out and I was a terribly precocious reader. If pushed to comment, I might have suggested that the idea of the characters 27 years on was the one thing I’d have struggled with- what 12 year old can empathise with people almost 40, that’s positively ancient.

I’ve not seen the Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown mini-series from the 1990 miniseries and I probably shan’t watch the cinematic duology that is on it’s way and in part prompted me to reread the book. I may watch the proposed “supercut” of the two movies though, as that sounds interesting. The first film, due out this year, focuses on the characters as kids, told in flashback in the novel, with the second film dealing with their return as adults to face the evil they thought they had destroyed. A supercut of both films matching the chronology of the book would be brilliant if done properly. View Full Post

Parents evening

Last night was parents evening and whilst it offered three very different meetings to discuss three very different children, what shone through was a united desire to make us proud of their efforts.

Whether it was the boy and his unbelievably (high) Gothic take on writing an imagined diary for Lady Macbeth, or Fifi’s determination to show us every “well done!” written in all her books (for the record this is the 5th year on the trot that her teacher has told us she is a joy to teach and genuinely delightful), or Ned’s pride at how his handwriting is developing, it did show that they’re all engaged enough in the education system to want our approval. With that as motivation, all the drudge of not wanting to go to school gets put in to a little context I suppose. View Full Post

Vegetable avoidance tactics taken to another level

The eldest doesn’t like vegetables. He’s happy to eat fruit, and there are some veggies he’ll scoff but some are completely off his dietary agenda as far as he’s concerned.

This is odd as he loves Italian food, particularly pasta with a nice tomato and beef sauce. He will eat around any pieces of tomato and diligently manage to leave all the onion and pepper on the side of his plate though. That takes some effort View Full Post

2 of the Rs

We struggle to get any of our three kids to do much reading. I think it’s laziness on their part, although they do admittedly have slightly more distraction than we did growing up. Although we had computer games, which if you’ve ever looked at our retro gaming blog you’ll know all about, the telly available was much more limited.

I was always a voracious reader but also a demented writer too. I was the first person in our secondary school to submit typed essays (on the dot matrix printer Dad got for our Atari ST), and there was initially a bit of wrangling over whether that was acceptable. My Dad pointed out that if they were worried someone else had written it, I could simply have hand copied something that someone else had written anyway, which was a fair point. On top of that concerns about length, when a 450-500 word essay took 8 or 9 pages of some girls bubble writing but fitted on one side of printed paper, were just mad.

I was also a precocious reader, ploughing through the kids section at our local library and making the jump to adult fiction as soon as I started secondary school (if not in the final year of primary if I check the dates closely enough). View Full Post

Play with your $@&^$£” TOYS!!!

Our kids lust after toys. The first draft of their Christmas lists came in at the price of a small family car. The lists included retired LEGO sets that sell for £600, everything NERF have ever made, and more cuddly toys and sweets than the Child Catcher would have probably accumulated during his career. View Full Post

Resolute at the New Year

And breathe. The whole Christmas and New Year period is now over. I’m back at work, but I’m told the official marker for the end of the Festive Period is the Darts Final and since that happened yesterday, things are officially now getting back to normal.

I wrote last week how I’m not a huge fan of Christmas Day, and the same goes for new year really. We were in bed by 10:30, although the intermittent fireworks that seem to be a tradition now (from 11pm to around half one in the morning) woke me up more than once. View Full Post

Whisper it, but I don’t like Christmas

My Facebook and Twitter feed were awash with people exalting in the fact their kids got up before 5am on Christmas day and revelling in everything that I find a nightmare. Some people wouldn’t have it any other way- not me though.

I think it comes down to stress. Stress about managing expectations, stress about everyone being happy, stress about everyone being well and stress about things going wrong. I don’t like getting woken up after 5 hours sleep, and I don’t like having to go to bed much later on Christmas Eve than I normally would to make sure the kids are all asleep.

Personally I much prefer Boxing Day. It’s like Christmas day but without the burden of expectation. We see whichever set of the kids grandparents we didn’t see on Christmas day on Boxing day and it’s so much more relaxing because it’s a come down day from the unrealistic expectations of the big day.

This year, like every other year, the kids managed to have a good time, without any tears or upset, so it’s probably (definitely) me. It’s probably down to a couple of disappointing and memorable Christmas’ I had when I was little. There was one year where all I wanted was a selection of Doctor Who books- a mixture of novels and reference guides (Peter Hanning was the go to person for reference guides back then)- but I only got two of them, and a load of other stuff that sat unopened. Novelty cassette holders, pointless stationery, irrelevant toys, all stuff bought with the best of intentions but stuff I didn’t want and hadn’t asked for. I was a good boy though, and I hid my crushing disappointment and made my parents happy.

Don’t think I’ve ever got over that, and looking back it seems really churlish and spoilt doesn’t it? I know my parents meant well but being utterly Doctor Who obsessed, I knew what I wanted and their worry that I would be bored with nothing but books was unfounded. I know have the same worries, worries that I won’t understand what my kids want and I’ll disappoint them. We don’t spend very much on them at Christmas, certainly not in comparison to a lot of people I know, so I feel the pressure to make every penny count.

The DEVIOUS child

The other morning I came down quite early. By quite early, I mean obviously all the kids were up. It’s wasn’t pre 6am or anything but it was before 7. The morning normally sees the boy shut away in his room watching telly (Jaws III that morning), while the younger two are in the sitting room arguing about something. The argument changes on a daily basis, it might be “No, we’re not watching more Annoying Orange videos”, it might be “you cannot have the last of the fruit loaf, it’s the only thing in the universe I’ve ever wanted”, or it might just be about who gets to sit where on the sofas.

For reference, there are two sofas and an armchair in our lounge, the sofas can seat 5 adults, the armchair the owner of a pair of arms.

There should be no trouble with two small children.

Still, on that fateful morning things were quieter than usual. Being of a pessimistic nature, I thought this didn’t bode well. Sticking my head round the living room door, I saw Fifi on her own. As I went in to the kitchen, I saw movement in the playroom (our converted attached garage). Walking in to investigate, I saw Ned sitting on the sofa in there in the dark. In the dark, with the television off.

I was of course immediately worried because the television was off and something else? Oh yes, he was in the dark.

Are you okay? I asked

Mmm. came the plaintive reply.

Has Fifi been mean to you?


Would you like a cuddle?

At this point Ned pulled the throw over his head, so I lent in to give him a cuddle. He returned the cuddle one handed, which I thought was a little odd but probably due to the ever present teddy in the other hand. As I got in closer though I could hear him chewing.

Are you? Are you eating Mummy’s special chocolate biscuits?


Devious little so and so…

Netflix and ILL

This week was all about (indirectly, and also making it all about me me me) feeling like a proper grown up rather than a man-child pretending to be an adult.

You see poor old Fifi (well not so much old, she’s only 7) had to have some dental surgery at a London hosptial. Fifi has abnormally weak teeth. This is probably partially inherited but also due to having chicken pox at a young age and possibly an early course of antibiotics too. Who can say exactly why but the fact is that she brushes her teeth diligently after every meal, uses a special fluoride mouthwash, and has a low sugar diet (no sweets, and all we drink is tap water) but nevertheless had to have 6 teeth out, 2 capped and a treatment put on the rest, under a general anaesthetic at St Tomas’ Hospital earlier this week. View Full Post