2 years gone

It’s 3yrs today……I miss him loads.

dadupnorth

Quite a personal post this one but I got a lot out of writing it so here goes……..Its 2 years today since my Granda passed away, a lot has changed in 2 years, most significantly being 6 months ago when Effy was born. I think for this reason, the anniversary of his death will be particularly hard this year. I spoke at his funeral, which it an odd way, I actually enjoyed. It was nice to talk about him and was nice to make people laugh on his behalf, because he had done that his whole life.

This picture was taken about 2 weeks before he died, it was their 60th wedding anniversary and is one of my favourite pictures ever Me and my brother grew up spending a lot of time with grandma and granda, looking back we spent a lot of time in his car, waiting for grandma…

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Boobs Glorious Boobs

This isn’t a smutty magazine article about boobs, it’s about the much discussed and much debated topic of breastfeeding and newborn feeding. Obviously I don’t have breasts but I do have a baby and thought a Dads perspective on the topic might be of interest.


I feel I should say from the onset that Effy has been exclusively formula fed from day 1….we’ve had a lot of arsey responses to this, but before anyone judges, stops reading or sends me a breastfeeding leaflet….read on.
Breastfeeding has never really been something I’ve thought about. I rarely notice women doing it in Cafés/restaurants and to be totally honest, I don’t really care. I don’t even know if I was breastfed, I’d phone my Mam to ask but she’ll likely want me to do a job for her and I can’t be bothered. Around about last February time (2015), we found out my OH was pregnant. From the day we started having contact with health professionals, the topic of breastfeeding was thrust into my face. I vividly remember the midwife’s waiting room; the walls were covered with posters proclaiming the unbelievable health benefits of breastfeeding. I don’t doubt a lot of research has been done on the topic and millions of pounds spent, but I felt like some of the claims were farfetched and alarmist. Anyway as the pregnancy rattled on, we talked about what our options were and what we felt most comfortable with. I purposely say ‘we’ because it really was a joint discussion. Along with which pram to buy and whether to find out the sex…..we decided………Breastfeed. Not because of the overwhelming pressure, leaflets, posters, emails, forums, newspaper articles, other parents, midwives or doctors but because we wanted to.

A horrendous 27hr labour later, an exhausted OH and some complications, we decided…….formula. Shit happens people, we had to make a quick decision. New-born daughter (Effy) wasn’t going to wait while we weighed up the pro’s and cons again. Fair play to the midwife’s they didn’t pressure us, we did what we felt was right and what we felt comfortable with. It transpired later that my OH didn’t produce any milk so we had to stick with formula and you know what….it’s worked for us.

After some time to reflect we were happy with our decision and Effy was happy that she was been fed, end of story……Nope, as I said before we’ve had a lot of negativity when people have noticed she isn’t breastfed. A GP openly criticised our decision, family members have judged us and a random women in a cafe asked why. I feel quite passionately that how we feed Effy, is no one else’s business but ours. She’s our child and we will decide what’s best for her. I’ve got quite defensive at times when asked but the approach of most people has tended to be quite judgemental. She’s 8 months old now (She’s 17months now) and is developing perfectly normally. If she gets obese in later life, it won’t be because she wasn’t breastfed but because she ate too much cake.
So……a Dad’s perspective of breastfeeding and new-born feeding……Your baby will need fed, do what you feel comfortable doing and accept things don’t always go according to plan or the posters on a midwife’s wall.
I wrote this post a while ago for Everythings Rosie and George newborn feeding series. The topic of newborn and toddler feeding seems to be discussed, argued and debated pretty much every day on the internet. Along with infant vaccination its a subject which gets the most reaction on the social media and forums. Everyone’s got an opinion and some more than others are happy to shoot people down who may have a different view. I never actually posted the above on my blog and now we are firmly at the toddler stage, it felt like a good time to revisit it feeding.
Effy continued to be exclusively formula fed up until 6 months when we started introducing solids. We have stuck to a fairly basic principle when it comes to her eating…..she eats what we eat. Yes there’s been times she hasn’t and times we have bought whatever baby/toddler food is available. There has also been times she’s ate cereal of the floor (because that’s what she wanted to do). One thing we did change, at around the 12 month mark was her formula. To be honest I didn’t know formula for toddlers existed but we tried her on cow’s milk and she was having non of it. We have gradually fazed out the formula and she is now pretty much only having cow’s milk before bed. Having the option of toddler formula meant she could make this transition in her own time, whilst still getting all the goodness.

 

My perpesttive in relation to feeding has remained the same throughout the last 17 months, so much so I’m going to repeat what I said in my Boobs Glorious Boobs post: Your baby/toddler will need fed, do what you feel comfortable doing and accept things don’t always go according to plan or the posters on a midwife’s wall.

Kidloland Review

So before I start I want to clearly set my stall out; “Technology and children” seems to be a constantly debated topic, everyone’s an expert and everyone thinks their way is the right way. When I was young, if you sat to close to the TV you got square eyes, now every child that picks up an IPad is socially incapable. I don’t really want to contribute to the debate, I’ll leave that Mumsnet. All I will say is; I love technology and all benefits it brings, yes I appreciate the risks but I will not be hiding Effy away from tech, I want her to embrace it as a learning and entertainment and social tool……Not solely relay on it but embrace it…..There that’s that done. (by the way, I haven’t got square eyes and I sat pretty close the TV as a child)

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely people from Kidloland, and was asked if id be interested in checking out their app and giving my honest review. Initially I was hesitate, Effy was only 1 in September, she’s still pretty young and has never really used Apps before. She likes to look at photos of herself on our phones and Ipad but that’s about it. Again we haven’t discouraged her using tech, she’s just never really seemed interested. She prefers to read books or put sieve’s on her head.

There’s no explanation for this photo, she gets the sieve herself and she sits watching TV with it on her head.

Anyway I checked out the website, read all the positive reviews and looked at what was included in the app that we would actually use. Effy’s talking is really starting to develop so when I spotted the phonics section, I thought that would be a really useful tool for us. On that basis I accepted the kind offer of a 1 years subscription (usual price £29.95, there is a free version of the app but it is obviously limited).
First thing I’ll say about the app, is that it looks lovely, the colours are brilliantly bright and bold but not to offensive on the eyes. The content is broken down into sections: Nursery rhymes, Stories, Phonics, Songs, Games, Learn to trace, Surprises, Chopping monsters, Popping time, Colouring time, Activities, Early learning, Create and play, Animal Kingdom, Vehicles, Fruits and vegetables, Numbers, Bedtime, Colours and shapes and Christmas.


It’s simply a case of scrolling through and choosing what section you want. Honestly the amount of content within these sections is ridiculous. We’ve only had the app for about a week and it would be impossible to have had a chance to check everything out. We originally felt the phonics section would be the most beneifical for us and to be completely honest that’s what we have mainly  stuck to. I suspect over the next few months we will be able to delve a little deeper and let Effy explore the other sections, but at the minute…Phonics has been a winner.

Again its broken down into subsections and categorised in alphabetical order. Within each letter, there is several songs, that actively encourage the correct pronunciation. there is then a little game at the end, which again actively encourages the correct pronunciation. Its lovely to sit with Effy and hear her follow along saying A, A, A,….Apple and then attempt to play the game at the end. I’ll be honest, she’s not exactly subtle with her touch (takes after her mam), so she sill needs reminded that the screen doesn’t need punched repeatedly.

I suspect each letter follows the same pattern, we haven’t worked our way to the end of the alphabet yet. We might need to skip to W, because her auntie is called Wendy and she’s highly offended that she’s the only family member who’s name Effy cant say yet. We’ve suggested she changes her name to Apple but she’s not keen.

Its a shame we haven’t been able to use the app fully yet because the phonics sections really is brilliant and it’s exactly what we were hoping for. For those that disagree with technology for kids, you should sit and listen to Effy learning, interacting and developing because of an App. She will still use books and we will still engage and teach in exactly the same way as we do……All we have now is an additional tool.


One slight downside we found is that first time round all the content needs to be downloaded, once you’ve done this its stored and easily accessible, but without internet access this obviously cant be done. I don’t think there is a way to access non-downloaded content offline. Not a big issue but worth noting.

Links to the app are below, please check it out, I would love to know what you think.

Android

IOS

Amazon

This review was written by me and represents my honest opinion of the product. If it was crap I would say its crap.  Kidloland contacted me and proved me with a free subscription, in exchange for an honest post.

Dadscaping

This isn’t a post about how to shave your nether regions into an elaborate design for valentines day. If your looking for that sort of advice, I’m really not your man. Also if you haven’t heard the term ‘Manscaping’, the title will not make any sense, so I suggest you Google that first and head back to read the rest.

In my Dad’s heyday, his idea of grooming was a splash of Brut aftershave, a short back and sides haircut and a quick comb of his tash. Fast forward my lifetime of 31 years and things are very different. If you Google “Modern man” you get an actual website called themodernman.co.uk which provides a huge range of hair, skin and shaving products. This isn’t a plug or endorsement of their website, but it perfectly proves my point that male grooming, male fashion and male skin care has not only come along way. Its become an actual thing, an actual industry and an actual way of life for regular blokes. I can’t stress enough how quickly this shift in society has happened.

16 years ago I left school, I went to a fairly rough comprehensive school, it was not the place to make a fashion statements. You conformed to the norm or got the piss taken out of you, I opted for conformity. Leaving school and going a different path to most of my friends at 16, made me realise I could wear whatever the fuck I wanted…..so I did. I didn’t start wearing high heels or anything too experimental, I just stopped caring what people thought.…. I grew my hair and I suppose started to find my identity. The shackles of conformity were realised and I embraced it. For me this is what the “modern man” tag has done for blokes up and down the country. Its normal for blokes to moisturise, spend money on hair products and not just shave their beards but precision trim them. This has opened the market for companies to create and design products specifically for this purpose. Hair clippers do not resemble sheep shears anymore. Just look at these mens hair clippers from Panasonic……professional clippers for the everyday bloke. Yes they are on the pricey side at over £100, but men are happy to pay this and use their disposable income to look good. I’ve always spent a bit of money of trimmers/clippers and shavers. I know its not for everyone but I absolutely hate chest hair and I’ve always found these types of products to be ideal for keeping myself ship shape and tidy.

Need a trim

I wrote a post a while ago about 5 ways I’ve changed since becoming a dad, 1 of these was Dress sense, I described my own dress sense as low maintenance, in terms of clothing this is true. I’m not striving to be different anymore, I know what looks good on me and I stick with it. My grooming routine has largely remained the same since becoming a dad, although I now have considerably less time, or a 1yr old hanging off my leg while I’m doing my hair. I still spend money on hair products, I still dadscape and I still make sure when I walk out of the door, I look decent.

The increased popularity of male grooming has pushed companies and businesses to make the decent products, designed specifically for men. Websites like The Modern Man and products like the mens hair clippers, highlight perfectly that men now have choice. Product choice and a freedom to choose exactly how they want to look.

N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Panasonic

Office Makeover

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve not been sitting slack. I’ve been busy getting some pretty exciting things lined up for the next few months. Hard at work at dadupnorth HQ (my office at home). That leads me almost seamlessly to this post…..My Office.

We moved into our house about 2 years ago. As soon as we found out we were having Effy, we quickly decided that our 2 bed end terrace house wasn’t going to be big enough. So we upgraded and moved to a much bigger house, with enough room for all the baggage that babies come with. The house we bought was completely neutral when we moved in. Time was tight before Effy’s due date, so we decorated the main rooms and left the unimportant ones. The office, which is technically our 4th bedroom. Was set up like an office, with a desk, swiverly chair and book shelves, it quickly became a bit of a dumping ground for stuff. Lamps we couldn’t find a home for, pictures that didn’t match anywhere and mirrors we couldn’t be bothered to throw away. Add in a wardrobe and my trainer collection and the room was never really a usable or pleasant space to work in.

Notice the random accumulation of crap; random records from my Grandma, cables lying around and the stool (I’ll explain about that later)

A welcome contact from Inspired Wallpaper arrived in my inbox and I snapped up the chance to be a part of their Valentine’s Day campaign, which was all about “helping you fall back in love with your home”. I’ll be honest id never bought wallpaper online, but I buy everything else online and I hate DIY shops (except Screwfix, I love that place), so this was a winner. The website was actually really helpful, the amount of choice was crazy, but its helpfully broken down and categorised by colour, style and room. I’m shocking at making decisions so I passed the book (Ipad) to the household decision maker.…..she choose the Voyager Parchment Feature Wall Glitter Wallpaper. I initially panicked when I read the word glitter, because I absolutely hate the stuff but trusted her judged and ordered. The online roll calculator makes it easy to measure and get the right number of rolls. I’ve tried to guess before when decorating another room and I failed miserably.

2 days later and the wallpaper was delivered, 6 days later and I finally found time to decorate. Now I’m by no means a decorator, my dad taught me how to do it and he’s a football coach, so hardly qualified to pass on wallpaper wisdom. Nevertheless I’ve had a decent amount of practice and I would describe my skills as average.

Check out my Instagram for actual proof I did it myself. Before you click the link, I need to warn you about my OH’s shocking onesie, she was my glamorous assistant, but missed the memo about the glamour, she was also unaware I was recording and I found it amusing not to tell her.

The paper was an absolute joy to work with; it was Luxury Italian Vinyl so slightly thicker than most papers but just required a thicker paste to be used. The match was quite complex as the design is very intricate and detailed but after the first 2 strips, I knew what I was looking for when matching up, so was pretty straightforward. I’ve used some cheaper papers where the match means you lose a big chunk of paper of each strip….it’s frustrating and means you end up needing much more rolls than necessary. Not with this, the wastage on each strip was minimal. A few hours later and I was all done, I only papered one wall, as the paper is designed to be used as a feature wallpaper. There isn’t an obvious feature wall in the office but the position of the desk and other furniture kind of dictated what would work best, we are really pleased with the result.

I was very conscious that the other walls in the room were lacking. So I got in contact with a brilliant local artist and all round good guy Martin Evans, who generously gave me 2 of his pieces (Flamingo Head & Storm over lake). With these added in and the other crap tided up……we have an office, not only a workable space but a space I genuinely enjoy spending time in. Cue a barrage of photographs.

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She approves!!!


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Glittery but not in an annoying way

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Ok, so the stool…. I’ve had this stool since i was about 10, it was part of a desk i had in my bedroom. I know it looks ridiculous, is battered, covered in paint, is uncomfortable and we actually have an office chair, but i absolutely love it. I’m not typically sentimental but its my favourite thing to sit on…….OH absolutely hates it.

Massive thanks to Inspired wallpaper, Martin Evans and my dad for the wallpaper lessons.

Would love to know what you think and also any lighting suggestions, as we desperately need another desk lamp.

If you have and room makeovers you’ve been working on, send me your links so I can have nosey.

N.B. This review was written by me and represents my honest opinion of the product. If it was crap I would say its crap. Inspired wallpaper contacted me and sent me the Wallpaper, in exchange for an honest post.

Your Child’s fat

This post has taken a little while to write because I’ve actually done some research….well not official research but I posted a few questions on social media and asked some women at work (thanks Emma and Lesley)…..that counts as research doesn’t it??

Mouth full of biscuit  and Jo Wicks on the TV…..Top work Effy

I was prompted to write this, by a status that was posted on Facebook by a friend. She had received a letter from School advising her that her 4yr old son “fell into the category of very overweight” for their age, height and sex. The letter also contained some advice about healthy eating and links to various NHS website to give further information. This was following what was essentially a blanket BMI test for all. The NHS website explains BMI as, body mass index (BMI), a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. For most adults, an ideal BMI is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range. For children and young people aged 2 to 18, the BMI calculation takes into account age and gender as well as height and weight.

If your BMI is:

  • below 18.5 – you’re in the underweight range
  • between 18.5 and 24.9 – you’re in the healthy weight range
  • between 25 and 29.9 – you’re in the overweight range
  • between 30 and 39.9 – you’re in the obese range

I knew about BMI but was completely oblivious that it was used in some UK schools. When I was at school, Jamie Oliver wasn’t famous and we were still aloud to eat turkey twizzlers. They really didn’t care too much about healthy eating or the weight of each pupil. Attitude to food and weight have obviously changed in the 2o odd years since I was at primary school. Nevertheless I was still shocked to see 4yr old’s been categorised by this test and parents quite blatantly told their child fell into the category of “overweight”.

This is a huge topic and I’m never really going to be able to give it justice in a blog post. To help me out and as part of my very ‘professional’ research. I wanted to gauge other peoples points of view, so I put it out there and got some really interesting feedback from teachers and other parents. The stand out remark was about the actual method of testing, is it reliable?? is it a appropriate?? is it a good indicator?? Matty from buggiesandbarbell got in touch and it turns out he’s not only a decent bloke but he’s a sports and exercise nutritional advisor. We shared very similar thoughts about the whole concept of BMI as a tool and how its actually pretty unreliable. Results can be distorted by a number of different factors, which dont necessarily mean you or your child are overweight. Matty himself would be classed as overweight due to weighing 14st and only being 5’9, but if you check out his instagram, he’s absolutely ripped. Children especially; grow, mature and develop at different rates, so for a test like BMI which relies on numbers, this will never be reliable, or something parents need to get too offended about. You know your child best and 99.9% of parents know that kids shouldn’t eat 42 chicken nuggets everyday and only drink Coke. Its about balance…do the majority of parents need a BMI result to tell them this….No they don’t.

So if that’s the case does a child’s weight even need to be tested?? In an ideal world…..No, kids should be allowed to be kids without the fear of been told they are overweight, underweight or unhealthy. Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world,  you don’t need me to tell you that childhood obesity is a reality. As long as kids are eating too much crap and not exercising enough, there’s an issue that needs tackled. Schools aren’t nutritional experts but they are obviously there to educate…..and this is the important point for me…..Education. Not only for kids but for parents. In order to reach out to parents, schools need a starting point. Teachers cant go round the playground, rounding up the fat kids and testing them, so they can tell their parents to give them less Mcflurry’s.  Schools needs something, they need to be inclusive, they need a test that produces results. BMI is the best they’ve got. Is it going to solve childhood obesity, rotting teeth and sedentary children…..no….but at least they are doing something and Turkey twizzlers are off the menu.

Finally and suppose what I have reflected on most……How would I feel if we got the same letter about Effy………well the reality is; it would make me think, it would make me reflect, it would make me consider choices, but after that I would do exactly the same as my Facebook friend who inspired this post………I’d put the letter in the bin and carry on parenting exactly the same. The vast majority of parents who got letters saying that that their child fell into the category of “very overweight”, know themselves its bullshit, and they can carry on exactly the same. However if it gets to a parent who doesn’t know, who is struggling to manage their child’s weight and hasn’t got a clue what food choice are right/wrong…..then its worked, the door has been opened and the education can begin.

Is your child fat…..probably not….but if they are, do them and yourself a favour and sort it out.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch about this, really appreciate your input and would love to hear anyone else’s thoughts/experiences on this.

 

5 ways I’ve changed since becoming a dad

1, Dress sense – I wrote a short post a while ago about how my style has changed over the years (Evolution of me) but since becoming a dad, My dress sense can now be described as “low maintenance”. I still dress smart for work but the rest of the time I wear, Jeans, a T-shirt and trainers. I do all my shopping on ASOS. I even buy multi-pack t-shirts to save me having to choose colours. For me ASOS is the absolute daddy of online shops, I’m a premier customer so get everything next day delivery (it baffles my mind how quickly I get stuff), the free returns makes life easy and I know exactly how their own brand clothes fit. It’s an absolute winner. ASOS haven’t paid me to say this but if they fancy chucking a few T-shirts my way, I’ll happily add them to my collection. 

Dad wardrobe sponsored by Asos multipacks

2, I’ve become more emotional – I have always been the type of bloke that doesn’t really cry. Not because I’m super tough or anything, I just don’t and have never really felt the need to. I’ve experienced loss, sadness and upset over the years, but never really cried as a result. I completely expected to cry when Effy was born, but I didn’t. This was possibly because I was so exhausted my eyes had no extra energy to make tears, but there was no tears. Despite my dry eyes at the birth, something definitely changed in me after that day. Fairly quickly after she was born I found myself getting quite emotional about lots of different things. In my #daddytag post, I talked about the time that I danced with Effy, when she was just a few weeks old. This was a really emotional moment for me; it was just me, Effy and Paul Weller (Paul wasn’t actually there). I now find myself becoming emotionally effected by lots of different things. Dadvword posted a great post a few months ago called It’s OK to cry Dad, it really made me think, he talked about how having his own child dramatically opened the door to his emotions. I couldn’t agree more. Something has changed in me, something I never expected and something that’s definitely not in the baby books.

3, I’m a now a secret eater – Effy is a shit eater, give her a plate of food and she couldn’t give a toss, try and feed her and she turns her head so far away she might as well be an owl. Try and eat something yourself and she can smell it a mile off, she crawls over at the speed of light and will beg like a unfed dog (appreciate I’ve just compared my daughter to a dog….but its meant in the nicest possible way). So I’ve taken drastic measures…..I now eat in secret. This could be a Jaffa Cake in the garage, a hobnob in the car or a chicken sandwich in the garden….Now if you need me I’ll be eating a flapjack in the shower.

Captured

4, I watch less Family Guy – I have always been a bit of a night owl. For years I used to work in a pub so got used to late nights. Late night TV is also immense so pre-Effy I would always stay up late and watch TV, mainly repeats of family guy. I’d giggle like a little girl and eventually fall asleep at stupid o’clock. Not now…….last week we were in bed at 9pm and I couldn’t even be arsed to put the TV on. Our sky planner in the bedroom has 12% disk space remaining, as the series linked Family guys are not getting watched……sad times

5, I carry a bag – I’m a bloke, I wear jeans….jeans have 4 pockets…..I only carry keys, a phone and a wallet. 4 – 3 = 1 spare pocket….its very rare I need to carry anything else, so I’ve never rarely required an additional carrying device. Effy came along and she’s got more baggage than Kim kardashian, its beyond a joke the amount of the stuff we need just to be pop to the shops. I’ve already talked about the importance of the changing bag in my post 5 reasons your wife will stab you. Because the OH wanted a nice looking changing bag (Babymel), I basically now walk around with a handbag…….oh how times have changed.

How have you changed since having kids……would love to hear what’s different in your life…..nothing too soppy, I might cry.