Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Family (page 2 of 25)

The quiet family dinner out

Picture the scene; we’re driving back from a busy day out at the Lost gardens of Heligan (great family day out BTW), the boys are asleep in the back and Matilda is chatting away to herself. The lady of the manor and I are discussing dinner plans for the evening, we’ve had a good day but any day out with 3 children under 5 cannot be described as relaxing. Unless of course relaxing means feeling like you’ve run a marathon while shouting 10 times every mile “don’t touch that” “stay away from the edge” “that’s not for climbing on” “what do you mean you’re hungry again” “you’ll just have to wee in a bush”.

The thought of dinner out sounds very attractive, we talk ourselves into it; the boys have napped so will be in a good mood, the pub is on the way home anyway and it means no washing up (as the lady of the manor keeps telling me, it’s not a holiday if there’s washing up). Maybe it was the day in the sun, maybe we just had low sugar levels, whatever the reason we take the plunge and pull into the car park. Miraculously they are serving food all day (anyone else find it a nightmare with small children finding somewhere to eat before 5pm?) and we find a corner in a large and quite empty restaurant.

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Why I’m running the Quadzilla

My mother in law passed away almost a year ago having fought ovarian cancer for 4 years and this challenge is for her. By coincidence I started running regularly just under 4 years ago in an effort to lose some weight and get fit after having serious back problems from sitting in an office all day. I can remember her concern every time she came to visit me that ‘I was getting too thin’ and that I needed to be careful, she never did quite understand why I ran but that didn’t stop her coming along to races and cheering me on. It is for her that I’m taking on this challenge, the Quadzilla, 4 marathons on 4 consecutive days. In the space of 4 days I’m going to double the amount of marathons I’ve done and find out what it’s like to run a marathon with the DOMS from 3 marathons. I’m also hoping to try and raise some money for 2 great causes.

Maureen was an amazing woman, mother, daughter, wife and nanna whose passing has left a very big hole in the lives of her family and friends. In the last few weeks and months when things got tough the support her and Nick received from her Macmillan nurse made such a difference. Care that the NHS simply can’t provide but that helps people in the darkest times navigate their way through and help them make decisions. That’s why I’ve chosen to support Macmillan with this challenge and hopefully raise some money in Maureen’s memory to help other people in the same situation.

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Boys are disgusting

As both a man and a dad to sons I feel I am extremely qualified to say this; boys are disgusting. Disgusting and willy obsessed. I feel like I should know this already given that I was a boy myself at some point in the distant past but it still comes as a surprise seeing your 1 year old laughing as he plays with his willy.

I seem to remember Henry being a similar age when he realised that he could grab his willy whenever his nappy was off and it felt quite nice/funny to play with. Now we’re regularly find Rupert sat in the bath taking a break from attempting to cover the whole floor with water and instead having a little play. Clearly there is some basic male human instinct that tells us playing with our willies is a good thing, I’d love to know if boys 100 or 200 years ago were the same, or were they too busy working in factories or helping fight wars?

I had assumed boys and their willies would be an issue in the teenage years but it seems not. Last week I found Henry stood in the kitchen with his hands down his trousers. I told him to stop playing with his willy and his response was ‘I’m not playing with my willy I’m playing with my testes’, not really much you can say to that is there? (we’ve gone with a formal term because quite honestly ‘balls’ just sounds a bit disgusting).

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Change

Change, always with us, right under our noses, but most of the time unnoticed. Our children growing and learning before our eyes but so gradual that we don’t realise until BAM! They’re walking, or writing their name, or colouring within the lines and you’re wondering when the hell they learnt to do that. In the whirlwind that is life with small children it can be easy not to stop and acknowledge these changes, but one of the main reasons I started this blog was have a record of the changes and the milestones. So I’m taking the chance of this rare moment of peace on a Sunday night to put another entry into this families history.

Matilda writing

The past of month or so has been crazy as we settle into life as a family dictated by the schedule of the school day, it feels like a stricter life full of deadlines, to do lists and most of all rushing. But it’s also been a big month of change. Matilda unsurprisingly leads the way, I find it absolutely fascinating watching her learn to read and write. We didn’t push either at all before she went to school, preferring to let her choose if she was interested, after all they have enough years of school ahead of them to learn those types of skills. But in the space of this first half term she’s already picking up a bunch of letter sounds, has started to read simple words (in the ever so dull) books she brings home and can write her name. She’s so excited and interested in learning it’s great, most mornings after breakfast she will sit down and tell me that she needs to practise her writing.

Henry on the lady of the manors shoulders

Rupert seems to spend most his time trying to keep up with his big brother and sister, crawling around the house after them like a crazy thing and climbing on them when he does catch them. But yesterday we had the big moment, the first steps, aside from birth this is hands down my favourite moment of being a parent. I love the look on their faces when they realise they can move around standing up and no longer have to crawl everywhere. He did 4 giant steps from me to the lady of the manor, only the once though of course, every time I’ve tried to stand him up since he either bounces up and down laughing or tries to sit down and crawl away. I’m trying desperately not to be a pushy dad but I can’t wait to seem in tottering around the house even if it inevitably means he spends half his time being knocked over by one of the other 2 not looking where they’re going.

Henry smiling

Finally Henry, my little dude, who is becoming this very confident, chatty and kind little boy. Not that he wasn’t chatty or kind before he was just more of a baby than a boy. I think he’s actually enjoying Matilda being at school now because it means he gets some time at home and preschool when she isn’t there telling him what to do. As there is only 13 months between them this is really the first time he’s ever been without her. A new girl joined preschool recently and on her first day they were doing music, Henry made room for her to sit down and then shared his musical instrument with her. I love that he is so thoughtful and kind, trying to care for others. He also loves exploring, we had a day at Dyrham park today and he was climbing trees, look in holes, digging and jumping in leaves. He likes nothing better than to be outside and preferably getting dirty.

They may be exhausting most of the time and drive me to say ‘for gods sake’ most days (incidentally I don’t think anything they do is for gods sake, it’s mostly to wind me up) but they really are awesome little people. Now if I could just perhaps have a quiet evening occasionally and maybe 6 hours sleep every so often that would be great.

In the summer time

According to Mungo Jerry in the summer time when the weather is fine you have women on your mind. Well the weather hasn’t been fine and I haven’t had women on my mind I’ve had a little lady on my mind because in a weeks time Matilda will be starting school. Yes that’s right SCHOOL. That feels very odd to write I can tell you, how exactly can this little thing be old enough to go to school?!

New born baby

However she is most definitely ready to go even if I think she’s still a baby; she’s told us on a number of occasions during the holidays that she missed being with her preschool friends and if we have just a slow day at home you can see how bored she is. She needs to be learning new things and challenging her brain everyday otherwise she annoys everyone with her fidgeting and silliness. As an April baby she’ll be towards the young end of her year but I don’t think it’s going to make any difference and she’s desperate to learn all about letters and numbers.

What I’ve discovered about having a child going to school is that the summer holidays are suddenly full of shopping to tick off a long list of items they need for school and figuring out where the best deals are. Plus of course the important decisions of how many skirts, dresses and shirts to buy. There must be a clever maths equation for the optimum amount; not too many that you have loads sitting in the drawer not being worn and they grow out of them but also not too few so you are washing uniform every day of the week.

Matilda in Uniform 1

Fortunately Morrisons sent us some uniform from their Nutmeg clothing range to try out and tick a few more items off our list for us. We’ve become big fans of the Nutmeg range since I started working with them (exactly a year ago today it seems!) and I know you’ll be thinking who wouldn’t when you get sent clothes for free? But it’s the truth, Henry is still wearing the shirt and jumper he received a year ago. In fact both are among his favourites so have probably be worn almost every week and washed the same number of times. Yet both still look great, they haven’t gone hard or frayed at the edges and he definitely puts his clothes to the test.

Matilda in uniform 2

So we have high hopes for the school uniform too, its great value too; £4 for a dress or cardigan and £2 for a pack of polo shirts. If it washes as well as their other clothes then it should last most of the year unless Matilda has a big growth spurt. Just a shame we can’t hand them down to her brothers, although I’m sure Henry would be up for wearing a skirt.

Now all we need to do is buy some shoes and as Matilda has such narrow feet we have the choice of 2 pairs both costing £38. Best start saving for next year when Henry joins her

Just one more week?

I’ve a serious case of the back to work blues tonight and I’m not even back to work for another 12 hours. The last week of holiday has been fabulous, hard and tiring at times as you would expect with 3 small children but that’s soon forgotten when you are making memories isn’t it? That’s after all what family holidays should be all about, making memories, creating those stories that you reminisce about for years to come. I know I still talk about things I did on holiday as a small child over 20 years ago and I hope Matilda and Henry will be doing the same.

We’d planned to go to the Lake District camping for 4 days after our wedding anniversary celebrations had finished which would have been awesome, but a weather forecast of heavy rain and 40 mph gusts of wind soon changed our minds. Who wants to be in a tent with 3 children and a dog in weather like that? It’s a real shame as I think we would have had an amazing time and I really wanted to be in that landscape again. Instead we did a bunch of day trips; we went to the Cotswold Farm Park (Adam’s farm for you Countryfile fans), Leigh Woods in Bristol, to the lake for a swim and bacon sandwich and then to the Cotswold Wildlife park (a big feature in both mine and the lady of the manor’s childhoods).

We had such a great week, a good mixture of visiting attractions and then low key days in the forest with Bracken along for a run around too. I also grabbed time this weekend for some daddy son and daddy daughter time with the 2 big ones; Henry and I went to the canal to look at the boats and I went to Avebury with Matilda (which is fab for kids if you haven’t been). Funny that the weather in April for our holiday was better than August but that didn’t matter, however I now want to have another 6 weeks just like the last one.

While I go off to buy a lottery ticket here’s a few photos from the past week.

Alex and Rupert

Henry by Lake 32

In Leigh Woods

Matilda and Henry feeding the horses

Matilda outside Avebury Manor

Penguins at cotswold wildlife park

Pops

 

Bracken

Matilda with a Rabbit

The definition of happiness

10 years ago today I stood up in front of family and friends and said ‘I do’ to the lady of the manor, 10 years! 10 whole years that feel like just yesterday but also a lifetime ago. In my wedding day speech I said that happiness was marrying your best friend and I feel very privileged to be able to call this incredbile woman my best friend. It’s incredible to think that what started out as teenage lust and a snog at a house party all those years ago has turned into this wonderful marriage. Where even in our normal sleep deprived state we laugh together and that lust is definitely still there, stronger than ever (hence 3 children under 4!).

tipping 114

An awful  lot has happened in the last 10 years and when I look back at our wedding photos it would appear I’ve aged at least 20 years while the lady of the manor barely looks any different. It hasn’t always been easy, we’ve been through some real low points that have pushed us to the brink, but also some amazing highs not least the arrival of these 3 crazy little things that seem to follow us around. However no matter what I know that we make the perfect team and will get through anything together.

Drinks 34 - A+B by car 5

This year as you all know has been one of the toughest and we almost didn’t celebrate this occasion because it didn’t feel right doing it without Nanna. But we decided that she would have wanted us to be happy and spend the day with the family that were so important to her. So on Sunday after weeks of preying to the weather gods we had a garden party at home in glorious sunshine with cake and fizz on the menu. You have honestly never seen so many mouth watering cakes in one place, all made by friends or family and almost all eaten before the day was out. It was such a perfect way to mark the occasion, surrounded by friends and family, drinking the same Prosecco we had on our wedding day.

 Family photo at anniversary party

We feel very blessed this week knowing that we have these amazing people around us to help us through the tough times giving us the support we need, but who are also there to celebrate the good times with us. I’m not the most social of people, I don’t have masses of friends but the ones I do have I value highly and they mean a lot to me. This week I’m reminding myself of their importance to me and in particular this amazing woman next to me who is my best friend.

With that I raise my glass to love and friendship and to Alex who I love now, forever and always.

P.S. this also means I can now tick another thing off my Bucket List!

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