Books, books, and more books…

One of my original plans when starting this blog was to get involved in children’s books a lot more. Reading has been a huge part of my life, and I am usually found with more than one book on the go. We were reading to Bea before she was born, and it is one of her favourite activities to do before bedtime. Her tastes are forever changing and evolving, but it makes me incredibly proud to see her walking around with various books and getting really excited about them! Yes, inevitably this involves a lot of repetition, but I think this was to be expected! I have definitely expanded my knowledge of children’s books in the last twelve months, and we need a fair few more shelves as a result!

To date, I’ve only managed one book review in eighteen months. That’s pretty poor, and way under what I’d hoped to do! In the next month I will be doing two reviews of books from Sweet Cherry Publishing, who got in touch a while back. This also means I’m involved in a blog tour for the first (and second) time this month! The aim is to review children’s books of all ages over time. Check out the Instagram and Twitter pages for more reminders of specific dates as I’ll be retweeting the offcial banners and stuff. Check out the snazzy hashtag #Febbookary as well for more conversation about reading.

In a brief attempt to get my book reviewing back up to speed, I’m going to do some speed reviews of some of our favs…

1. Where’s Mr Lion?

This is a big favourite with me, purely because Nosy Crow have solved that problem of the crumpled flaps we’ve got on all of our Julia Donaldson books. I’d never seen felt flaps before, but they are far more satisfying! There are some bold, colourful illustrations and some nice simple repetition that is easy for your chatty little one to get involved with! There’s also an engaging mirror at the end, which in our experience leads to a tongue poking out or turning the book to see mummy/daddy in the reflection!

2. The Bear and The Piano

This was one of the first picture books we bought for Bea. Lucy and I loved the story of a bear discovering an unusual gift for piano playing and his heartwarming return to his friends and family. Bea has gone through phases of liking this, and is now at the stage where she has the patience to sit for a bit longer and simply listen. There is even a version of this with sounds- we don’t normally buy repeats of things but may make an exception!

3. The Hat Trilogy

My sister introduced me to these when my nephew was tiny, and I had to get them when zbea was born. Jon Klassen is up there with my favourite illustrators(I would love a print for her room some day…), and I can’t wait till Bea is old enough to get the moral- if you steal someone’s hat, things aren’t going to end well…ok, maybe there’s something more meaningful at work there, but it’s the perfect opportunity to try out a few voices. The crab in the book pictured (That’s Not My Hat) gets me every time, it looks so guilty!

4. Each Peach Pear Plum

An oldie, but a goodie picked up in a charity shop. Bea has fallen in love with it over the last month and always joins in with the rhyming words on the page. As I mentioned in the ‘Beactionary’ post, I am loving every new word she discovers and uses! Getting her to point out all the items and things too is awesome to see as well.

5. Blown Away

I think we got this at the same time as The Bear and The Piano. Rob Biddulph has a clean, modern style of illustration and gets a surprising amount of expression into a range of animals in a short space of time. Lots of extra details to spot over repeat readings and a lovely rhythm to the book make this a joint favourite! His ‘Odd Dog Out’ was a recent library pick and had to be smuggled back! His daily post it notes for his daughter are both inspirational(ie, I’d love to do something similar) and so varied!

So there you have it. A glimpse into some of our bedtime reading! Keep your eyes peeled for more bookish things in #Febbookary and comment with your favourite reads!

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Cheffy Daddy: Chilli Con Carne

Since Lucy’s gone back to work, I’ve been responsible for getting our meals on the table when Bea and I get home. We’ve started planning our meals of a weekend so that we’re sorted for the week ahead. It’s really tricky planning any regular kind of variety, but we’re getting there. You can see our current week’s food here… Continue reading “Cheffy Daddy: Chilli Con Carne”

#ParentingIsAwesome

Ok, in my last post I mentioned that I would explain the meaning behind the hashtag that sits under the title of my blog page. Originally, the strapline was ‘a (relatively) positive look at parenting’ as I felt a lot of what I’d heard about parenting was pretty negative – focused heavily on logistics, lack of sleep and how your life isn’t your own any more. Continue reading “#ParentingIsAwesome”

Bedtime Reading 1: Once Upon an Alphabet

Since starting this blog, I’ve always wanted to include a regular book review feature. One of the most exciting parts of planning Bea’s nursery was where to put the books! At this point, some of you will be completely on board; others will be already be looking at other blogs by now… Continue reading “Bedtime Reading 1: Once Upon an Alphabet”

6 thoughts from 6 months

Six months (185 days) in. This time 6 months ago, I was sat next to Lucy on the maternity ward, having spent the previous fifteen hours getting to know our little girl. Grandparents had driven hours to say hello, the nurses and midwives were absolutely superb and we’d been running on that feeling of pure adrenaline that all parents are all too aware of. At this point, our baby girl didn’t even have a name. All that mattered was that our tiny (well, average) daughter had arrived safely into the world and our journey as a family could begin. I was completely in awe of the pair of them. All the build-up, anticipation and meticulous planning was over. Our lives were changed, and have been changing ever since.

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Early posing for the camera – think this was in the first couple of weeks

I thought I’d celebrate this post with a mixture of musings and memories from the last 6 months that I hope other parents can relate to. As always, the downsides of parenting (basically all the repetitive messy stuff) are taken as a given on here. We’ve had our fair share of public poonamis and we’re currently working out how best to treat some pretty mean eczema. Today’s not the day to talk about those!

Thought #1:  Do the reading

Once I knew we were expecting, I came back from the library with a couple of books, ready to go. If I’m really honest with myself, the need to do this came (a tiny bit) from that scene in Knocked Up where he has a bit of a meltdown and doesn’t read up on anything. I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ so I made sure I read up on things. I can’t actually remember which books I read now, which is a bit rubbish. I do remember that it left me feeling less terrified about the months ahead and excited to see Beatrice develop.

Thought #2: You will become addicted to Google.

“What age do babies blink?”

“Do you need to brush their gums?”

“Which cafe has the best changing facilities (so far it’s our local Sainsbury’s)?”

“How long are they supposed to sleep?” Hopefully this is followed up with ‘Should I let them sleep longer if possible?” (to which the answer is always yes!)

“What do you do when they start staying awake for longer?”

All of these are some of the millions of thoughts you and countless other parents have had. They range from the practical to the absolutely ridiculous, but be careful- there’s a high chance your baby’s first words could be “Ok, Google…”

Thought #3: Be Fearless

And no, I don’t mean go on extreme hikes with your all-natural baby wrap on day one. However, you’ve no doubt had a whirl on the travel system, the change bag has probably been packed for a month or so and you spent a fair whack on the car seat. Use them! Lucy and I took Beatrice out for a quick walk in the pram, then ventured out in the car a day or so later. After we’d got it sorted once, it was so much easier to head out for cake. If that’s not an incentive in itself, I don’t know what is!

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The smile I get home to every day!

Thought #4: The rewards come thick and fast, so keep up!

I’ve been amazed at how quickly things have moved so far. The phrase ‘they grow up so fast’ is particularly true at this early stage. I find myself regularly looking through photos and she has changed so much – she’s far more robust now, and sitting up! There have been so many little moments that have surprised us. Her first chuckle will be a very long-lasting memory in particular.

Thought #5: Prioritise your priorities

I’ve made sure that every evening possible, I’ve got home and spent all my time with Bea until she’s asleep. It has changed my attitude at work, made me more efficient and bizarrely more practical around the house. However, all of those things are to allow me maximum time playing, ‘chatting’ and giggling when I’m home. I got spoilt in those first two months!

Thought #6: Teamwork

It’s all about teamwork. That’s not just mum, dad and baby, but the wider network too- friends, grandparents, and workmates are all there to support you in loads of surprising and generous ways. If you’re a dad, remember that there’s a lot you need to be doing. It’s even better if you remember to do it without being reminded to…and make sure you get a day with your child from time to time (I know Lucy’s had some good days out when I’ve had my daddy/daughter days!). It also pays to be grateful to your other half for letting you get addicted to this blogging thing…

Feel free to leave any other thoughts for the next six months in the comments, and I’m going to try and get some regular features up and running in the next couple of weeks or so. I’ve also dipped my toe into Instagram, you can find me/us here if you like that sort of thing!

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A bed of her own

Happy new year everyone!  You probably missed my last post (why not subscribe…ahem) on New Year’s Eve, as you were probably out having a good time being sociable. That, or you are also new parents, and New Year’s Eve passed you by in an alternative stupor – we pretty much forgot to actually say it to each other (thanks Lucy for the reminder!). There’s even the chance you decided it wasn’t worth all the fuss and went to bed early and missed it too. It was a list reflecting on a range of firsts for us as a family. I left one of those out somewhat deliberately in order to blog about it later.

Christmas day night was the last night Beatrice slept in the same room as us (for now- I’m not naive enough to think that she won’t be toddling in when she gets older!). She has been everpresent in her Moses basket since that Friday in July.

Before Beatrice was born, we were pondering which bits of parenting came down to common sense. This was one of them- when should she go to her cotbed? When she’s too big for the Moses basket (also see when should we swap out the carrycot in the travel system…?). As ever, I’m sure there are a million and one different theories for timing the big move, and all of them would be fine. For us, we loved having her there next to our bed. It was even one of the first things I blogged about. Granted, we’ve been incredibly lucky – she enjoys her sleep, and with both of us having time off during the summer, her sporadic sleeping hours at the start were definitely bearable. That said, I’ve almost certainly jinxed her (and our) sleep patterns with making this public knowledge…

What are the pros and cons of her new digs then?

Pros

  1. I can read a book in bed at night – I’ve missed this a lot!
  2. Getting up to go the loo in the night no longer requires the skills of a trained ninja
  3. The nursery I decorated is being put to good use!
  4. I can get changed with the light on in the mornings, meaning I look like a normal, everyday person and get things on the right way round. I think I spent every night in November putting my t-shirt on either inside out or back-to-front before getting into bed.
  5. The value of our baby monitor increases every day…
  6. Travelling gets potentially easier. The basket and stand take up a lot of room!

Cons (this is probably where it starts to sound soppy. I’m not apologising.)

  1. The only noises we’ll probably hear from her in the night aren’t going to be the little whimpers and sighs we used to. It sounds ridiculous to be nostalgic about something that was only a couple of months ago, but we are! We’re fairly heavy sleepers, so we won’t hear those on the microphone.
  2. I can’t sneak in so easily to give her a quick kiss goodbye before setting off to work. I daren’t even poke my head round the door for fear of waking her up. Her new room doesn’t have the familiar noises that our room would have had, so I’m worried that any additional noise might change things – Lucy probably goes in and sorts stuff every morning with her fast asleep in there though…
  3. It means she’s growing up! The last couple of weeks have been a real chance to take stock of our memories so far as parents. There have been loads, and I don’t know how people coped without hordes of digital photos to help them in their efforts.

So, there you have it. Our little girl, who is completly unfazed by the whole thing, no longer shares a room with us. It makes me a little sad, but also proud that she feels comfortable and safe enough to sleep soundly in her own room.

 

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2016 – Aka Day 169…

Happy new year everyone!

If I’ve done the maths right, today marks day 169 of our life as a trio. If I haven’t, then I’ll hang my head in shame!

What a journey so far, and it’s amazing to think that this time last year, we were starting to tell people that Beatrice was on the way. The last twelve months have been spent preparing and enjoying the change to our lives that she has brought to us.

This includes some of the following:

  • the joy of seeing Beatrice’s ultrasound
  • reading the baby books
  • researching all the baby products
  • buying all the baby products
  • painting the nursery
  • testing out the monitor on Leo
  • antenatal classes
  • my first cuddle
  • my first nappy change
  • our first night at home
  • family visits
  • my second, third and umpteenth nappies
  • our first nights away
  • starting a blog
  • being an incredibly proud dad
  • her first chuckle
  • her first tears
  • our first Christmas

I think that’s a great list, and cannot wait for all the firsts that 2017 will bring.

Thanks to all for following, and I’ll see you all in 2017 with news of Bea’s adventures into weaning, more ‘Dad Dancing’, some ‘Bedtime Reading’ and who knows what else?

 

Beacember Advent Calendar Day #23

The countdown to Christmas continues, hope yours is going well! We’re pretty much set here and looking forward to Beatrice’s first Christmas Eve!

Obviously, she’s going to need something to protect her Christmas outfit from any potential Christmas dinner material (I promise to stop using the word Christmas as often!), so today’s Beacember items are (as correctly guessed in the comments) some appropriately themed bibs!

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Today we went out for a walk to the beach, picking up a very important item for our final day on the calendar. As you can see in the picture, we had Bea facing out on the baby carrier for the first time, which is great for her as she can see out (she loves being curious and nosy). However, it does mean you can’t see her at all, a bit of a problem when she’s wearing a hat under her hood with a habit of falling over her eyes! Still, the sea air took it out of her and she had a nice long nap!

Tomorrow is going to the end of a long blogging journey, and as tradition has dictated so far, I’ll end this post on a teaser… (it’s a two for one!)

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Beacember Advent Calendar Day #22

It turns out scheduling posts is a very handy feature indeed, and allowed me to spend uninterrupted time with my favourite duo yesterday (even if both Lucy and I both checked in at 6pm to see if it had gone live…).

We discovered yesterday that the ‘chunky wheels & tread for off road adventures’ didn’t quite live up to their name. Whilst we generally love our Armadillo travel system (Mamas and Papas, we’re more than happy to try out more of your products!), it wasn’t quite ready for the mud we ploughed through yesterday morning! In 2015, we completed 50 walks around Norfolk and decided to relive a bit of one of them for our anniversary, this time with added cake and treat lunch. We started at Kerri’s tearooms, and then moved onto the lovely Dial House in Reepham to round off our walk.

Then it was back home for a bit of a play, followed by a Christmas movie and a quiet evening with Lucy.

The photo yesterday was a glimpse into what will hopefully become a tradition in our house. It’s a recipe/ingredients for cookies for Father Christmas! I love biscuits, and obviously whilst most of the treats we’ll make will go to FC himself, he’ll need a local taster to do quality control checks.

Two posts left on our first ever Beacember adventure, what’s left behind the penultimate door?

day-23-teaser

Beacember Advent Calendar Day #21

Like I mentioned on Day 20, this post is a bit like what happens on radio or telly at this time of year. They record something way in advance and spend the time celebrating! This, sadly, was not way in advance. However, day 21 of December is my wedding anniversary, and as such I plan on spending it away from the blog!

Yesterday’s sneak peek was of this gorgeous card made by my mum. She is a keen cardmaker and we always look forward to seeing her creations at special occasions!

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If today has gone to plan, Lucy has received and liked her anniversary gift too…

Anyway, it’s a bit weird writing this ahead of time, so I’m going to crack on and show you the teaser for day 22. I think it’s a tradition I can certainly get used to in the years to come. Hope you’ve all enjoyed your Wednesday and see you Thursday!

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