Monday, November 30, 2009

Nuclear family is broken warns parents' group - Telegraph

I work. Hayley stays home and looks after the kids (whilst also working admittedly). It seems that tis traditional arranngment is ever dwindling and so we, the nuclear family, are a dying breed.

ALthough I would love to be able to have more time with my children, I take comfort from the fact that Hayley is with them at this early age. I do despair of our society where making everyone "productive", in other words working and paying taxes, means that women are all but forced back out to work and raising children is seen and paid as menial labour. As I heard Jenny Murray put it today "feminism was meant to be about having choice". But now women are almost having to be apologetic about wanting to stay home and raise their kids.

Nuclear family is broken warns parents' group - Telegraph

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still utterly butterly

A little over three months ago I blogged that Lucy had taken to applying lashings of butter to everything possible and that we had even started to buy her a separate brand for her own indulgent purposes. Here's a pictorial reminder of the scene back then.


Today the fascination with buttering remains. Witness this scene from this morning. The only difference is that she has moved on from toast and now prefers bagels. (And she's ditched the high chair in favour of a booster seat at the table.)


But if you want the real proof of her enthusiasm, just take a look at this. It's the rise in the share price for Dairy Crest, who make her preferred brand of buttery spread, and covers the period just after the uber-buttering commenced. Co-incidence?

So here's my hot tip. Lucy's latest passion is for drawing with crayons, so expect Crayola to go big.

Who needs Warren Buffet anyhow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fish 'n' Chips Friday - Chip Butties Edition

The long Christian tradition of eating fish on a Friday originates in a Friday fast which took the form of foregoing the more expensive meat in favour of the cheaper and more readily available fish instead. In this country it's seen more as a Roman Catholic trasition and yet even for non-Catholics like myself it has a resonance. Even today my company restaurant still serves fish every Friday. And of course in our house it's a tradition to have fish and chips on a Friday.

Pretty educational huh? But not half as much as you can learn from this video of last Friday evening's fish and chips dinner. For example, it demonstrates that:

1. Mealtimes in our house are anarchic.
2. Lucy pays no attention to what I tell her.
3. She's too cute for me to care that she pays no attention to what I tell her.
4. Oliver eats some fish before having chips, as Daddy asks.
4. Whatever Oliver does, Lucy has to do (except for eating some fish before having chips, as Daddy asks).
5. Lucy can eat her own body weight in chips.
6. You can't have more fun than making chip butties!

Although point 6 could be called into question when you consider the fun to be had with chicken drumsticks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BBC News - School lessons to tackle domestic violence outlined

BBC News - School lessons to tackle domestic violence outlined

When I first heard about this I did wonder whether the very act of telling teenage boys in school that they shouldn't beat up their girlfriends might make some of them go out and do the exact opposite.

But the more I've heard of this proposal, especially starting young in teaching kids to show respect for one another, the more reasonable and sensible it sounds. More importantly, the more I've heard, the more it sounds like it might reduce the likelihood of abusive relationships for girls growing up today. Girls like my daughter.

I like to think Lucy will be far too clever to fall into a relationship with someone who doesn't respect her. I hope and pray I'm right. All I can do is try to instill self-respect and self-esteem within her, something so sadly lacking amongst the sort of girls who put up with abusive relationships.

Oh and be a good male role model myself. That counts of a lot it seems.

Of course, having said all that, what does it say about boys today that we need these sorts of lessons? Or are we simply recognising a truth that has for too long been ignored? I heard on the radio yesterday that only 1 in 3 women suffering domestic violence who come into contact with health or social services actually have it recognised and acted upon. A frightening figure. But not as frightening as the fact that between 1 and 2 women are killed every week in the UK by abusive partners or ex-partners.

So yes, this seems like a very good idea to me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Like father, like son? Not necessarily!

There's a story in one of Dale Carnegie's books that goes something like this. There were two sons born of the same father. The father was an alcoholic, drug addict, bitter and cruel to his sons. He killed a liquor store cashier and was imprisoned for life. One of his sons turned out exactly like him. The other had a totally different story, raising three kids in a happy marriage, working as a general manager for a blue chip company. When both brothers were asked separately about how their lives had turned out, they had the same answer: "What else could I have become with a father like that?"

It's a striking story and one that came to mind when I heard about Omar bin Laden, the fourth sone of Osama bin Laden. Despite his father's violent hatred of those he sees as his enemies, Omar is a quiet and compssionate person who is dedicated to causes quite contrary to those of his father.

I was so struck by this contrast that I am now reading the biography of Omar and his mother. So far it is an interesting journey into a devout Muslim world very far removed from my own.

Expect me to report back whenever I (eventually) finish it.

See also this article in The TImes.

Monday, November 23, 2009


As I was about to get Lucy out of the car yesterday...

Lucy (rubbing her nose): "My nose!"
Me (not sure what was wrong but handing her a tissue): "Here you are sweetheart".
Lucy (having rubbed vigorously around her nostrils): "I did it Daddy!".
Me: "Yes darling, well done."
Lucy "I did it Daddy. I got my nogey!"
Me (a bit puzzled): "Did you darling? Well done. Shall we get out now?"
Lucy (pointing to car seat): "Look Daddy! I got my nogey out. There!"
Daddy (picking offending article from car seat): "That's great darling. Let's pop it here in the gutter. Now, shall we go to the shop?"
Lucy: "Yeah."

I love Lucy's language. She is very chatty for her age, forming quite long questions and statements. Her pronunciation is occasionally hard to understand but I think I can translate most things. A few of my favourites amoongst her toddleresque utterances recently are:
"Scoody doody" = Scooby Doo.
"Nic nic" - Picnic.
"Julnian" - Oliver's "Julien" Dog or her own "Lucien" Bunny which she still insists on calling Julien most of the time.
"Piderman" - Spiderman.
"Blooooon" - balloon.

But in truth her speech is getting better all the time so these treasured little funnies will soon start to disappear. The sadness at her dwindling toddlerdom will be offset by the joy of the conversations we are already starting to have.

BBC News - Dirt can be good for children, say scientists

BBC News - Dirt can be good for children, say scientists

Hurray for messy play!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just sign here

Anyone who reads this blog even half regularly will know that for many years I have been a frequent visitor to the crazy shenanigans and goings-on over at "All That Comes With It" and I urge you to do the same. Not only is it entertaining as you wade through the sea of comic-book references and low-flying chickens, but it also does great work supporting the Joseph Salmon Trust.

I'll cut to the chase: all this will cost is 2 minutes of your time.

The trust supports grieving parents who have lost children, including by paying for funeral costs, including headstones. Clearly they are not cheap but did you know they are subject to VAT?

Joseph's father, Neil, who founded the trust has started a petition on the 10 Downing Street website asking the government to make grave headstones exempt from VAT.

It doesn't seem too much to ask to me.

If you agree, and are a UK citizen or resident, please sign the petition.

Thank you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fun


I work for a French company. This morning on arriving in the office I found that a colleague renowned for his terrible jokes had left the above document on my desk.

If, like mine, your French is rusty (not helped in my case by the fact that my French colleagues speak such good English that it's pointless speaking French to them), I still wouldn't let it deter you from browsing these short jokes (blagues courtes).

Though you should be warned: a terrible joke is a terrible joke in any language.

(Link to a large version here.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Techno Techno Techno Techno


Let me start with a disclaimer in light of my comments on a post over at "All That Comes With It" about the purer-than-the-driven-snow nature of this blog and the fact that I would rather drink squirrell pee while being forced to watch re-runs of George and Mildred than advertise on my blog.

Disclaimer: The following post does not contain advertising, it's just that a lot of products have been placed in my house... by my wife.

In the good old days (last month) we only had an eight year-old TV, a four year old desktop computer and a compact camera. Not exactly gadget central.

But to this modest list Hayley has now added:

A laptop computer
A camcorder
A 140 watt PA system with microphone
A rotating mushroom light show thingymabob
A set of six (or is it eight) music-synchronised disco lights.

We haven't won the lottery or decided to try to match the national debt. Most of the money for the above has come from a grant that Hayley secured to support her childminding business.

Boosted by the same grant, we have also acquired:
Some pushalongs (ladybird, bumble bee, two motorbikes...)
Some writing tools (a bit hard to explain - not just pens!)
A children's games console.

I wasn't at all sure about that last one. I would like to keep computer games out of the house and away from the kids as long as possible, but it claims to be educational, helping with numbers and letters. So far I've only seen a game that involves Mickey Mouse popping balloons, so I am yet to be convinced.

The laptop and camcorder were chosen by the people offering the grant. The laptop is proving useful, including for Hayley to blog her chidminding for the parents. The camcorder is also useful on that score. It comes with a 60x (yes, sixty times) optical zoom. Why?! Do they imagine children need to be observed from a distance of half a mile? Nonetheless a nice bit of kit.

The PA system and disco lights are for childminding and might evolve into a little venture that Hayley has in mind for children's parties. We four have had the pleasure of trialling the equipment in our spare room which has become a disco for the last few evenings.

This afternoon a fellow childminder and her charges were allowed in for a boogie and loved it. The next trial will be at Hayley's playgroup's Christmas party and then at a private party she has organised for our friends just before Christmas. Watch this space to see how things develop. I'll let you know if she starts wearing bling and/or talking like Dizzy Rascal.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Heaton Moor Watch ("I shouldn't be telling you this" edition)

There are a couple of things to mention about developments our locale at the moment.

Firstly, we apparently have one of the best restaurants in the country! Yes, Damson, which opened where Room 311 used to be has been placed second in a review of Best Restaurants by Tracey MacCleod the Independent on Sunday. So there's now probably no chance of Hayley and I managing to get in there in the foreseeable future!

In other news, our local Somerfield has undergone a complete re-fit, closing for nearly two weeks before re-emerging as a Co-Op. I have to say I'm a bit underwhelmed. There seems to be less in there and some of my favourites have gone, for example Quorn sausages being replaced by Linda McCartney. Whatever next!

The Pirus card shop has shut as its lease expired. Currently empty, which is a shame.

MD Hair seems to be going well and with the kids comfortable there it has become the salon of choice for the whole family. Hayley even dragged Zoe out drinking with the local girls one Friday night!



And finally it seems (according to a local councillors' newsletter that dropped through the letter box this week) that there are moves afoot to support the Savoy cinema in showing a wider range of films. Whatever helps prevent it becoming a Wetherspoons is good by me!

Fathers losing touch

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Bitter divorcees 'using children'

Although the headline to this report focusses on the worst behaviours of some divorcing parents, more disturbing to me was to read that 1 in 3 children lose touch with their father after their parents divorce.

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Cyberbullies hit primary schools

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Cyberbullies hit primary schools

Now here's a story I don't want to read.

What is a parent to do about this ever more pervasive creep of impersonal technology that takes the "social" out of social networking?

You can't turn back the clock, but there's undoubtedly something dehumanised and desensitised about a child that sends or watches video clips of bullying (or indeed any kind of suffering).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Joker

A few nights ago Oliver woke scared in the night and told me that The Joker had been under his bed and was going to "joke him". The Joker also apparently had smoke bombs in his hands. I think perhaps that Batman book should no longer be read at bedtime!

But Oliver himself can be a bit of a joker. A couple of weeks ago in the park he tagged along with a crowd of boys aged 13. There were girls there too (asking Oliver "which of us do you like the best", we could hear from across the playground!) but Oliver was only interested in riding round the playground on his bike with the big boys and proclaiming his football alliegance. They were really nice lads and one of them said to us that Oliver will have lots of friends at secondary school because he's cool!

Today Oliver was playing to the crowd again, this time with his antics climbing a tree. He got up there OK, but he got all, well, "hung up" about coming down. But it was so funny after it happened accidentally the first time, that he repeated the performance several times to an excited audience of his peers. See for yourself.

(By the way, it was all quite harmless and safe. He's dangling by his coat around his waist, with several adults also enjoying the spectacle just off camera.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Robert Enke

The death of Robert Enke is all the more poignant for the facts that he had lost his 2 year-old daughter in 2006 and that he seems to have hidden his illness for fear that he and his wife would lose their adopted daughter Leila.

To most of us he had the world at his feet, yet he lived in daily fear of his world collapsing.


BBC SPORT | Football | Internationals | Suicide keeper battled depression

Monday, November 09, 2009

BBC NEWS | UK | Claims of sex abuse by women grow

BBC NEWS | UK | Claims of sex abuse by women grow

Many stories of child abuse often seem to have a man as the perpetrator. But this report seems to adjust that imbalance.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Singletrack World : Shanaze Reade Urges Kids to Lighten Up

Singletrack World � Shanaze Reade Urges Kids to Lighten Up

Oliver isn't riding his bike to nursery now that the colder, darker mornings are with us. But this is a good idea for any of us cycling or even walking to work or school.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Snoring cure: £3 jab lasts a year -

Snoring cure: £3 jab lasts a year -

Both Hayley and I suffer with snoring: our own and each other's! So this sounds like very good news.