Not going out is the new battleground

We went out the other day as a family. This is unremarkable for most families but it’s becoming an increasing rarity for us. The battle lines have been drawn. We were lucky enough to go to a press screening of Paddington 2 the other week but one child sulked all the way through because he wanted to stay at home instead of being dragged in to London for a cinema outing that would have cost us around 80 quid had we paid for it (and the snacks we had).

It came to a head on fireworks night where only one child actually wanted to come and see the fireworks. We’d been out most of the afternoon at a Playstation Event, playing games and stuffing ourselves with food. It wasn’t as if there was even a game or code for one in the goody bag Sony kindly provided, so there wasn’t really an excuse for wanting to sit around but the kids put there foot down. I know from bitter experience there is little or no point fighting this as our lives will be made a simple misery.

The next challenge is to work out how to stop this happening in the first place I suppose.

Daddy Day Car and the Kia Stonic

I’ve done the hospital run with a wife in labour three times in my life and on the final occasion, when I got chucked out of the hospital, I had a rather madcap journey back to it too.

So when Kia invited me to have a look at their new car, the Kia Stonic, and specifically how it worked in terms of a hospital dash and as a car for a new family, I thought it would be well worth a look. So I headed down to GWR Kia to find out.

I tried to go into the event with an open mind but I didn’t know very much about Kia, so I set about educating myself on the way there (I wasn’t driving!). Kia are South Korean. This apparently makes some look down their noses because all the best cars come from Germany.

This is odd because Samsung are also South Korean, and as cars get more and more packed with gizmos and computers, I would have thought hailing from the technological capital of the world (sorry Japan, you’ve dropped to second) would have been seen as a bonus.

I was trying to reconcile my preconceptions an hour later while familiarising myself with a Stonic, packed with features like key-less ignition, rain sensing wipers, reversing cameras and blind-spot sensors. I didn’t get round to using the Android Play stereo function as I was worried about being judged on my musical choices. But enough of this, lets take a step back for a moment. View Full Post

Ned, edging towards the lead as a reader

My last post was exactly one word short of 1,500 and it was about books. Books, and reading in general are a bone of contention in our house. The two older kids are reluctant readers, often preferring to do nothing and complain about being bored rather than simply reading a book.

While the surrounding distractions they have are undoubtedly greater than those or wifey had when we were growing up (we’re both avid readers), I think there is a danger that we look back on our youth with rose coloured spectacles and automatically condemn the amount of television and videogames available to us now as a reason why kids often don’t like reading as much. View Full Post

Recurring dreams

Last night we went on a secondary school open evening. The boy is in year 6 now. Somehow he has changed from a small boy looking belligerently at us to an almost secondary school aged boy who still manages to look belligerently at us. Time passes for us all.

The opening even was interesting. It was full of portents and omens for a start. As we sat down for the heads speech, the music department and choir did a rendition of Shine on You Crazy Diamond from Wish You Were Here, my favourite album. They even did a pretty good job of it too. Auspicious indeed.

Going round all the departments, it was clear that while the fabric of the building didn’t seem fundamentally any newer than the school I left in 1993 (that’s 24 years ago now), the overall approach certainly was. My class at Broxbourne School was so ill behaved, we never progressed past the recorder in 3 years of music lessons and the opportunities afforded us in basic education don’t seem as expansive as they do today for our kids, even in a climate of swingeing cuts and austerity. View Full Post

In the summertime when the weather is hot you can stretch right up and touch the sky

This school summer holiday is a bit of a landmark one in the ‘Cool household. The littlest is finishing reception and moving into year 1 and the eldest is finishing year 5 and will be starting his last year of primary school. Terrifying.

It’s also the first year that we’ll have faced the summer holidays as two full time working parents. Of course when we booked our summer holidays back last autumn, this wasn’t the case, I was working full time while my wife was on a 22 hour a week part time contract. This was loaded into two very long days, with a couple of hours on Friday morning as a top up as necessary. It meant that between us, a few days of annual leave and some grand parent involvement covered most of last years summer holidays. This year is decidedly different though. View Full Post

A musical win

I feel like I’m doing this parenting lark right at the moment. On Saturday I had a great conversation with the ten year old about music. He told me the day before he had a conversation with a bunch of girls in his class about what they liked to listen to in terms of music. He said he was disappointed that they all seemed to like rude rap music (I think it’s probably grime, I could be wrong though) and not one of them had even heard of Fleetwood Mac, yet alone listened to Rumours (one of his favourite songs is the Chain), or the Scott Pilgrim Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, or the Eurythmics. He sadly shook his head and told me that they all had rubbish taste in music. View Full Post

The interfering and fiddle with stuff just needs to stop

Co-owning and be responsible for three kids ten and under invariably means you have to let your stands slip in some (many) areas. That’s all well and good, the puddle of wee in the downstairs toilet (we don’t go there, it’s full of fearsome monsters), will in time evaporate if left long enough but it’s when the kids just fiddle with stuff incessantly that things get tricky.

It’s like my daughter and doors. She is pathologically incapable of walking through a doorway without fiddling with position of the door slightly. 10 times out of ten she will touch the handle slightly, causing to door to be less than fully open. More than once a week this invariably leads to Ned running full pelt into the handle and a period of long and protracted sobbing. View Full Post

My imperfectly perfect fathers day with SMA Baby Club

*Advertorial Feature

SMA Baby Club asked me to share my imperfectly perfect Fathers Day and I’m only too happy to do so. With three kid (10, 8 and 5), I get plenty of opportunity to “father”, and plenty of experiences of being on the receiving end of children!

I’m always the one up with the birds. It usually either involves me going to work early, or getting up (twice a week) to corral the three kids into the school run. My weekend lie ins are ruined by taking our eldest to extra lessons on a Saturday morning and dragging all three of the little darlings to their swimming lessons on a Sunday.

The sort of breakfast I’d like for Fathers Day

I never get a lie in, so once a year I have this idealised notion that the morning that Father’s Day dawns, I’ll get to have a nice lie in and and wake up naturally as the sunlight finds its way through the chinks in the curtain and plays gently over my face, the motes of dust dancing in the light. As I stretch and wake up from a long restful slumber, my angelic children present me with a freshly made cup of tea and a still warm bacon sandwich (buttered bread, with sauce, two thirds ketchup, one third brown sauce).

As I sit there munching on bacon sarnies, the kids line up respectfully to tell me how great I am and present me with home made presents and cards they’ve crafted with all the love and care that a doting child can manage. View Full Post

Parenting with the Blackberry Keyone

It is an unremarked upon truth of modern life that one of the most important tools in parenting children is actually a  smartphone. And I don’t just mean for those parenting fails of reading twitter when you’re supposed to be watching the class play or Facebooking during sports day, but the important stuff around organising after school activities, play dates, catching that cute photo moment or emailing the school to say a night of projectile vomiting means the eldest won’t be in today.

Blackberry sent me a Blackberry Keyone, their new Android smartphone with all the goodness of Blackberry, including a physical keyboard, to roadtest and I thought it would be an ideal experiment to see if it could replace my existing phone and better it in everything that I use it for. First impressions were good; the leather back was classy, the keyboard harked back to the days when I could type properly on my phone without the predictive text getting overly confused. It’s not the thinnest phone around, instead it bucks the obsession with thin in favour of a focus on usability and longevity which is unusual but nice to see.

With an Android Wear 2.0 smart watch, the Huawei W1, and a Xiaomi smartband bluetoothed to my phone, along with a pair of BT Creative wireless headphones, I’ve got plenty going on when it comes to notifications and battery drain, so seeing how the Blackberry Keyone holds up to it’s claim of all day+ battery life will be interesting. View Full Post

We all need to be inspired once in a while

Sophie was in poetry writing mode yesterday after studying Michael Rosen’s poem “Don’t” in class. Everyone had their own go at writing their own verse but my lovely daughter wanted to go one better and so when she got home, she wrote her whole version, asked me to video it and tweet it to Mr Rosen himself.

Well hats off to you Sophie, well done and here it is: