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:


Communication breakdown

Last week I managed to have one conversation than spanned two Twitter DM accounts, text message, AND Facebook messenger. It was confusing and exhausting and not my fault. Now I’m sitting at my desk at work, fielding passive aggressive emails from my 8 year old about her older brother who tricked her in to turning the PS4 off and then jumped on it himself when she left the room. I’m messaging him through the PSN (Playstation Network) chat facility, using my PS4 account via a web browser and telling him to turn it off. I can tell he hasn’t as it is still showing him as online and the tricksy little sod hasn’t worked out how to appear offline yet. I imagine at his end he keeps on getting irritating pop ups that are slightly spoiling his game.

Fingers crossed. View Full Post

Don’t go “banking” on a holiday

The bank holiday weekend saw us busier than I can remember us being over a three day period. It certainly wasn’t a holiday as we worked our way through a fairly major reorganisation of our garage conversion.

When we had the garage converted about 7(?) years ago, we had it made in to three rooms- a play room which lead to a utility room, on to the old extension on the back of the garage which was our library. This didn’t really work as the library, right at the end of the house, became a dumping ground for stuff that didn’t have a home, and the playroom, effectively a corridor, wasn’t the most conducive place for kids to play.

So with a bit of jigging around, we now have an end room that’s better as a play/games room, and our library in the “corridor”. Not that it being a corridor is an issue, because I happen to think it looks pretty good:

It’s amazing what five and a half IKEA Billy bookcases can do for a room. To be honest they were a bit of an indulgence as we had some in the old room but they were in a couple of instances about 14 years old and were getting a bit tatty. One or two of the shelves were excessively bowed from having triple stacked books on them, so I felt it was time to replace them. Fair thee well trusted Billys! It was interesting to see how the design has changed over the years. That is actually a lie, it’s not that interesting.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the kids wrecking everything- I took plenty of pictures before they trashed it all…

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