Tuesday, 5 January 2016

I've Not Written A Blog Since Last Year!

We should all try to be the best parents we can...  With that in mind we decided to scar our youngest child...

Welcome to 2016 everybody, it's official, I've waited 5 days but apparently it's not going away.  I hope you all made some interesting New Years resolutions (comments below dammit!) and had a great time seeing in the New Year.

I would like to start off by apologising.  I realise that it's the first week in the new year, the Christmas break has just come to an end, people are heading back to work feeling groggy but hopeful that this year will be better and we're all trying to see through that haze that surrounds what I'm told was a fortnight of holiday.  But I must ask something of you now that I hope you can all manage. As we're only a few tentative steps into 2016 I'm hoping you can cast your mind back... all the way.... further.....further....further still.... okay that's too far.... That's right, all the way to...

New Years Eve 2015! 

Our family has decided to start a little tradition on New Years Eve.  As our three little people are always with us for New Years Eve, we have decided to make it a grand day out.  This way we end the year on a high, enjoy ourselves and have the day really stick in the kids minds.  Last year we did Twycross zoo and the kids loved it... granted, the penguins where the only thing suited for the weather and we only survived due to frequent strolls through the butterfly enclosure... but a joyous time was had by all and thus a tradition was born!

So, carrying on this tradition but avoiding the bad weather, we wimped out and went straight for the butterfly farm this year.  The one in Stratford to be precise!

On a semi-related note, I hope that the man in charge of the road layouts in Stratford spends the rest of his life accidentally sitting on his gentleman-berries.  Good grief that was an awful 5 minutes of driving...

Anywho... So we arrive in Stratford-Upon-Avon, spend a few minutes asking a few strangers if they had change for a fiver (thank you to the kindly retiree & his wife who were more than happy to help), pop that newly acquired change in the parking ticket machine, pay for entry to the butterfly farm and in we go!  Upon entry I spare a second to think about the potential of the kids disliking butterflies.  I'm well aware that there's a particular member of the Grunwald clan who isn't overly keen on butterflies, I know this because his distaste for these insects was discovered during a family visit to this exact butterfly farm.  I won't name and shame him (he is my brother after all) but safe to say that because of this I had experience with people who weren't keen on these decoratively winged nectar demons.  Luckily, no such fear was apparent with our newest and smallest Grunwalds, son number 1 was a little unimpressed with them flapping around his face, but that was the sole exception.  The walk around the enclosure is enjoyed by all, questions are asked, our spotters sheet was frantically referred to then referred to again... everyone was having lots of fun.

We pass through into "Arachnoland"... now anybody who has experienced me around a spider knows that I change gender entirely in their presence, however as I had the pocket sized Grunwald sat on my arm I decided to man up and get nice and close so that he could get a good look.  He quickly learnt the word spider and took much joy in shouting it as soon as he spotted anything that had more than 4 legs... I felt quite happy about that.  Unfortunately for the stupid eight legged monsters they're relatively colourless and very motionless, which makes them boring, so we quickly moved on..... *internal victory dance accompanied by ner ner ner ner*

Having left "Arachnoland"....shudder.... we entered "Insect City" just in time to be asked if we'd like to see the chameleon getting fed

Now as you might expect, the older two couldn't contain their excitement.  Rushing to the glass of the enclosure, nose to nose with the chameleon who had seated himself on a branch in the dead centre, for all to see.  Mrs G and I, with the littlest one still perched on my arm, quickly follow, both to make sure that the kids don't cause any trouble and to see if we can feed our eldest to the chameleon before he was too full...  The animal carer/ cricket genocide conductor slowly lowered a great, fat, juicy locust into the sight of the chameleon.  There was a moment of wiggling, leading me to believe that locust actually do erotic suicide dances to get eaten by the chameleons... most macabre... before the chameleon shot out its super long, super sticky tongue... capturing the bug in it's mouth!  As you might expect from a 12 and 8 year old, a gasp of excitement was followed quickly with that glistening and innocent look that says "please sir... please brutally murder another locust", however, our pint sized, arm perched, Grunwald was having a different experience entirely.

He'd gone from holding on to my t-shirt loosely, to gripping tightly, kneading at my arm; his eyes wide open, looking stunned at what he'd seen!  He had a genuine look of worry, almost as worried as the locust, like he knew he'd just seen death for the first time! Obviously the excitement of a crowd spurred on our would be  mass murderer  as he proceeded to give the chameleon two more, very juicy locust, even managing to get one to squelch as the chameleon chomped on it.  Luckily the shocking nature of this event soon wore off for our tiny trooper and after the first bug had disappeared, the fear was replaced by a keen interest in getting as close as possible for the last two bugs.  But for a split second you'd of thought someone had just shown him a Lion tearing it's way into Pocoyo! (His favourite cartoon character, for the uninitiated amongst you)

After this there were a few more butterflies to see before it was time to head off to the in-laws for the remainder of the evening, which meant a quick sprint through the rain which was promptly followed by copious amounts of napping in the back of the car.  All in all the day had been a success.

That little moment has stuck with me though, the split second of shock spread across his face.  It's a great reminder that everybody experiences things a little differently.  The younger two wanted nothing more than to see just how much they could get the chameleon to suck up with his magic tongue, but our littlest was busy comprehending what he'd just seen.  I guess it just goes to show you that you can never take another persons perspective for granted. 

It's always best to be considerate of others feelings, after all you never know when they might see something in a different light.  So try to be accepting of other peoples views...

...You never know when their hopper will burst!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Headfirst Into Heartbreak... And The Ground

Some people live hectic lives!  And apparently our Daughter is one of them...

This week is always bound to be fairly busy at the best of times.  People are finishing work for Christmas, there's last minute shopping to be done, schools are closing and everyone's getting excited for Chrimble!  Most people like to get away from the rabble and the crowds, some settle into a nice little time with the family, others just like to get a moments peace with a nice book.

    But not in our house
Oh no...

Open scene:  A calm weekday, you're outside a secondary school, children can be heard laughing over the rustling of the last autumn leaves being swept away by the winter wind...  Suddenly, the calm peace of the afternoon is shattered by the sharp shriek of an ambulance's siren!  Dramatic right?  Not as dramatic as it was for our daughter who decided that PE + Springboard = Opportunity to make kissy-face with the ground, followed by a quick unexpected nap.  That's right ladies and gentlemen, our eldest little person decided she could move the earth with her forehead and was sadly mistaken... who'd of thunk it huh?

Following a few frantic phone calls all was settled and she was at home, safe and sound, not even s'much as a bump!  Just feeling a little dizzy.  She was even still capable of talking your ear off, which we're all super glad of!  You've got to give her an 'A' for ambition though, cause most people would say that the week had received it's fair share of excitement and stop there.  But not our little forehead flipping gymnast, she decided that her injury wasn't enough.  No, the end of the week comes around and sadly... we're also dealing with a heartbroken tween. A few tears were shed but she took it fairly well and she's just taken it all in her stride.

She's taken all of the different advice from family... don't cry over boys, plenty more fish in the sea, you'll be okay it only sucks now...  She's had friends pestering about it at school, the whole shebang.  But she's not let it grind her down.  Sure she's been a little bit down and perhaps we're missing some of the usual 100mph talking, but I'm proud of her.  She's been a real trooper through it and I'm really proud that she's taken it so well!

We all know that over Christmas (the big C-rizzle as the kids say) when stress levels are up and the tension is building... you're going to feel like falling out with people, getting snappy or just locking yourself away.  Instead of all that noise, I hope you spare a minute, take a breath and remember how lumpy this week has gone for our little tween, she still managed to keep a smile on her face throughout!

Don't dwell on arguments and stupid details, families are designed to wind you up a little...

...and if you can't deal with it...

Try slamming your head into the ground at full speed!

...If you remember what was wrong then it's probably okay to be grumpy!

As usual, thanks for reading guys!  I'd love for you to comment, maybe showing support for our little springboard stumbling tween.  If that's "not your bag" maybe share a similar kind of week that you managed to survive, perhaps you know where those autumn leaves go: Do they go south for the winter? Is Antarctica just a huge mass of frozen leaves?  Lets suss it out in the comments!  Also remember that you can give this post a G+1 and help boost the amount of people who see it.

Cheers guys!


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Settle Down and Flick Something...

Settle Down and Raise A Family. You've all heard it.  You've asked about an old friend and heard that they've "settled down and had kids".  Now, just like most people without kids, I'd never given this phrase much thought; you accept the information you've just been given and move on.  But now as I sit at my keyboard, having just finished changing the nappy of a small 2 year old reincarnation of Hong Kong Phooey, (pun intended), I think this phrase may need a little reconsideration.  Because at this current moment in time, having just moved what was definitely a 10lb monstrosity that happened to have been developed by our little martial arts master, I feel somewhat less than "settled down".

In fact, surrounded by the terrorist levels of chaos that the kids leave behind at the end of a day, still trying to un-see that brown apocalypse, (a 'Crapocalypse' if you will...), I'd say that "settled down" is a flat out lie.

You'd raise an eyebrow if someone told you they were moving to Africa to live out the rest of their days peacefully as a "lion testicle flicker".  You'd be dubious about a chronic vertigo sufferer who said they were looking forward to their "rewarding new career as a "bungee chord test pilot".  So why not when someone says they're "settling down with a family". It's just crazy! Just because you've opted for fuel economy over punk notoriety doesn't necessarily mean that you are in for a calmer, more refined life.  Life has never been more hectic, disorganised and all round perpetually moving!

But that's not to say it's a bad thing.  For example in the last year we have: gotten engaged, gotten married, been involved in a court case, attended a wedding, attended a christening, gotten new jobs, watched someone's first steps, heard someone's first words, nurtured our eldest son to be second best reader in his class (97% on his recent test, got a head-teacher award and everything), watched as someone rode a bike properly for the first time, lived through our daughters first steps into womanhood ...I'd rather of been the lion testicle flicker that week... got a new niece, found out there's going to be a new nephew, watched as our daughter graduated primary school went camping for the first time... the list is endless, but it's fantastic!

A quick flick through my Facebook photo albums and I go from a few pics of nights out with friends to hundreds of whacky photos!  Hundreds of smiles, of silly faces, of accidents, injuries, funny moments and of family moments...

...Tonight is the eve of the anniversary of my 22nd birthday, don't worry, I've written my will, I've split out my belongings, I've gotten my free parker pen, everything is already taken care of.  Tomorrow I'll be 22, for what I'm told is the whole year, and when I get home after work... I'm heading straight out to our daughters Christmas play.  She wants me there, so I'm going to be there.  In fact it's more than that, I want to be there.  I don't want to miss even a single moment of these little people I've come to accept aren't going away... and I prefer it this way!

So you know what, maybe I'm not out partying, getting drunk or high and doing stupid things.  But I'm not settled.  Instead I've decided to buck the trend. 

I'm going to have an adventure and raise a family!

Now that we've reached the giddying heights of 50 views per blog (That means not just family!) I think it's time we got people involved... I'm talking comments people!  Have you had a crazy year?  Had to deal with a lot of crap (In one form or another...) Gotten to enjoy a Christmas play?

Let us know, you never know you might just make someone's day!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Stupendous Sum of Sausage Rolls!

This weekend the family attended a birthday party for my nephew, at a whopping six years of age he's the middle child of three and was very excited to be having a birthday party.  There were tonnes of family, tonnes of little people and tonnes of little sausage rolls.  Everyone had a great time and lots of fun was had by all.  It was a very joyous occasion indeed.  Well...except for one girl... 

Having reached the towering heights of six years old, my nephew has dedicated the appropriate amount of time to considering the serious questions in life.  In particular "who am I and what do I like?".  Having reached the realisation that football is not his thing, he has decided, that he is a Star Wars fan.  As such he could be seen scurrying around the soft play area, accompanied by most family members under the height of 6ft, whilst wearing a Darth Vader jumper.  After about an hour of running around getting sufficiently "out of puff" the kids were called over to enjoy the buffet of finger foods that had been laid out for them.  Small sandwiches were snacked on, petite profiteroles were partaken in and colourful children's cake were chomped on. 

Unbeknownst to the kids, my wife's mum had spotted a pair of Storm Troopers who were taking part in a charity event in one of the rooms adjoining our soft play area.  She spoke to my wife's sister (my nephews mum...keep up...) and she had approached them, explained his recent Star Wars obsession, and asked if they'd be okay making an appearance at the party.  They agreed and once we had sung happy birthday, the Storm Troopers came as we were handing out cake, ready take photos next to our Darth Vader jumpered birthday boy.   As each child noticed the Storm Troopers there was gasping, excited chatter, a huge grin broke out across my nephews face... and then screaming.  One of the littlest people at the party had stopped hurrying through her ham sandwich to see what everyone else was so interested by.  Sufficient to say she wasn't impressed in the slightest and... unfortunately... began to cry.  Luckily her mum was on hand to calm her down and explain, but for a brief moment she was one very unhappy little person. 

This little person got me thinking... Considering just how differently people can view things, in this case a Storm Trooper, then I'm amazed at how well me and the little fledglings are getting on.  I've never had a  moment where I've completely misjudged a situation...not that badly at least... and I think that's been a major help! 

So perhaps it's worth keeping in mind that some people might have a different way of thinking, a different way of acting or even a completely different reaction to you, about... well anything.  The best thing you can do is remain calm, explain your side and try to get things sorted.  I've found this to be true on everything from a misbehaving kid right the way up to politics. We're all people and should all be capable of caring for one another, at the very least being able to show each other common courtesy. 

So try and remember, there are three sides to every story.  For the grown ups, there's a man in a Storm Trooper suit.  For most kids there's a super cool Storm Trooper and then, for the unfortunate few, there's a "what the hell is that!?".  

So next time you find yourself wrapped up in a disagreement, don't get wound up and fall out, just remember that someone may have just found a Storm Trooper in their ham sandwich. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Favourite Phrases & Bath Graffiti

Some of the things you get to say as parents.... are brilliant!

There are lots of things to be said as fully fledged adults, with even more to be said if you are lucky enough to be a parent!  Lots of these things are fun: "We're going to the zoo!", "Tickle, tickle tickle!", "Who's gonna getcha!".  But lots of these are also difficult:  "We're very disappointed that...", "Why did you do that?", "You don't hit".  Some of the things you say are scary indicators that you're turning into your parents: "Who left the light on again", "Who didn't flush the toilet again", "Get your finger out of there!".  But my all time favourites are the surreal moments, the things that stop you in your tracks and make you think...
"wow, I never expected to say that".

I've included a short list of my favourites below, these range from things I never expected to say to a child, to things I never expected to say as a parent. 

Some of these are things I never expected to have to say as a human!

I've decided not to give them too much context because I think that'd only remove some of the true weirdness that I experienced the first time I heard myself say them.

1) Stop slapping those frozen chickens
2) Get back in your T-shirt
3) Why are you wearing your mums bra?...(said to our eldest...son)
4) Stop flapping your willy at me!
5) Get. Out. Of. Your. Mum's. Bra!
6) Yes, very good... I'm very impressed by your bubble willy...
7) Did you just do the 'Naked Robot' across the landing?
8) No, I don't want to see your bum!
9) He just told me he's not wearing any underpants...in the middle of Asda
10) Stop slapping my bum

I think the thing I like most about these little snippets of utter craziness is the fact that I know I have more to come.  I look forward to them... they make me confused...but I really enjoy them!  I'm really happy knowing that I've got years of these to come and I can't wait to hear them.

I really love being a parent!

Sorry that this weeks instalment is a little shorter than usual.  I could ramble on about being busy in my new job, the stresses of December (a month with 4 birthdays and Christmas in it for this household) or just that I'm tired.  But, in truth, I've just not got much to say this week. It's been a reasonably peaceful week.  So that can only mean one thing... an absolute monster post next week!

...Hopefully this bath crayon drawing of a jellyfish should tide you over.  I have had it critiqued by the finest two year old in our house's bath-art community and it was highly commended for it's "pu'ple" tones and "wigul" art stylings!

Suck it Da Vinci!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Where IS my nose?!

Priceless.  The expression on his deeply befuddled, two year old face is perfectly, priceless. 

Strapped into his car seat, strapped to the back seats of the car, is a two year old boy who has been stopped in his tracks.  This is no longer a standard collection of the children from their respective fathers, instead our youngest is dazzled, dumbfounded and dubious of everything in front of him.  All traces of what was an impending tantrum have totally vanished, no more kicking, no more whining and no more... anything really; he is sat perfectly still and silent.  This is because his mother, Mrs G, has just stolen his nose.  Now I've seen this done to kids who are 7 or 8, but they're not phased by yet another repeat of "this old trick".  This rendition however, is different.  This is a first, it's a total shock to his system and the result, is complete amazement.

Casting my mind back just two hours before this and I'm queuing in a supermarket, hands full... (probably three items truth be told, but that hardly seems basket worthy)... waiting on the only self service (insert immature giggle) checkout that accepts cash.  I scan through the loaf of bread, bacon, butter, cheese twi..."assistance required".  I let out a brief sigh, to quietly indicate my despair with having to wait until I am noticed as needing assistance, but I'm patient.  Eventually I am approached by the lady who runs the "master checkout" and I am cleared to proceed with the purchase of my cheese twist.  There's a few seconds of polite back and forth between the "master checkout lady" and I before I leave the shop to head home. 
In true British fashion I relay my entire "ordeal" to Mrs G who listens attentively.  But something goes wrong.   Just as I'm getting into the swing of a nice grumbling rant ...making sure I re-live every last detail and properly recreate the desolate atmosphere of a packed shop and the bravado required to survive it... I realise I have no idea what colour eyes the assistant had.  We had a good two minute conversation, she was quite bubbly and very friendly, I've even explained to Mrs G that I thought she was a bit of a "personal space invader", but I never took in the colour of her eyes.

Back to the present and we've returned home, all features reattached to their appropriate faces (for a moment there I'm pretty sure I wasn't wearing my nose) and the kids are now all tucked up in bed.  Mrs G  turns and asks what's wrong?  Apparently I've had a furrowed brow since we collected the kids and she's got no idea why.  I explain that the amazement of having a nose stolen for the first time had left me feeling... a little jealous, particularly after the realisation I had completely blanked the face of my supermarket superhero.  All Mrs G has to do is position one thumb, between two fingers, and the whole world stops for our littlest trouble-maker ...the lucky sod... and I felt a little disappointed that I no longer had that sense of wonder, like anything was possible. 

So she suggested that I take the time to notice more, take more of life in.  Stop and smell the flowers from time to time! Choose new food based on thought rather than habit!  Listen to some new music, pick up a new book or just do something I've not done before!  So that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to be more present, more thoughtful, more inquisitive...

Lookout world! I'm looking for my nose!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Bolognese Blunder!

At the ripe old age of 21, I became a husband to a beautiful wife and a stepfather to three terrific kids, who are currently 12, 7 & very almost 2.  We'd all been living together for a little while before hand, so the marriage caused no big surprises and before long we'd thoroughly settled in together. 

I had always heard, as I assume everyone has at this point, that you have to be brave and open. After all, communication is the key to a successful relationship.  That relationship could be with your wife, friend, work colleague; little hint, I always feel better after a couple minutes venting at the cat... but I wasn't expecting this fact to be true with a newly acquired stepson.  To say that I wasn't expecting it is a bit of a misnomer really. I should say that I'd never really given it much consideration, we'd always gotten on so it'd never crossed my mind.  Similar to "How do they change the light bulbs in the cinema ceiling?", I assume there's a large ladder involved but I've not given it all that much thought... you get the picture. 

Now anyone that knows me, knows I am proud to say I am from Yorkshire.  A land where the hills are hillier, the grass is grassier and people just know how to speak proper!  But, alas, therein lies my problem...

 I awoke one morning and went downstairs to find the 7 year old, my now stepson, playing on the Xbox.  His sister, 12, turns to him and asks "Can I join in?"… a nice simple question I'm sure you agree. 

"Bolognese!" Came the response, with all the confidence and gusto of Pavarotti, mid bellow.  

"Bolognese?" She replied, as confused as... well... an 12 year old who had just stumbled upon Pavarotti mid bellow.   
"Yes" he replied in a very chirpy manner "Dad says it all the time!".  Both his sister and I looked quite confused for a few moments after this, but she sussed it out a little sooner than I did.  
"By all means" She said in that, perpetual, eye rolling tone that all pre-teens are constantly practicing.  And she was right.  
My standard response, to all the little harmless questions you tend to find yourself on the receiving end of when responsible for a 7 year old, is by all means.  He'd completely misheard me and decided to go with it anyway.  For a little while I worried that this north to south language barrier would be an issue, but it wasn't.  Verbal communication wasn't the be all and end all, it was my actions that mattered.  But even this mini-epiphany wasn't what had really stuck with me.  I was amazed at his commitment and bravery at diving head first into a new phrase, with no regard to what it meant or what the outcome might be.  He knew how to use it in context and that was all he needed. 

I'm unashamed to say that I took inspiration from this and since then I've tried to make sure I volunteer for more. To bravely take that step into the unknown, or the unpleasant (thank god nappies aren't permanent!), and it's been surprisingly nice!  I know my neighbours better, I've had more meaningful conversations with people I meet.  It's just been great! 

So, the next time someone asks you something harmless and you're sitting on the fence, try jumping in and saying "Bolognese!", You might just like it!