Family Of Six (again): The one where we get a new dog

HollySince Christmas, there’s been a stealth war brewing in our household. We stayed in London and house-sat two beautiful-but-flatulent Boston Terriers. And ever since, the kids have been leading a concerted campaign to adopt a dog for our family.

Veteran parents will know how this goes: the kids make every promise under the sun that they’ll be active in walking, feeding and cleaning the dog. But once the honeymoon period’s over, their interest will inevitably wane and the parents will be the schmucks walking around in sub-zero temperatures waiting for Lassie to take a dump so we can go back indoors and thaw out.


How we’re helping our daughter to deal with her Secondary School routine

Secondary school pupilIf I’d written this post two months ago, it would have been a totally different beast. My 12 year old daughter started secondary school for the first time, and it looked like she was totally ready for it.

Having positively sailed through primary school and enjoyed every single minute of it, Rach had charmed all her teachers and excelled in virtually everything she’d done in ‘little’ school. And being the eldest in our house, she was absolutely ready to move on to the next level. We knew that her confidence and smartness meant that she’d hit the ground running in secondary school, but we were also a little worried about the challenges she’d face along the way.


Challenge Accepted

Weighing Scales

And so I stepped out of the shower this evening, towelled myself dry and stepped tentatively up to the bedroom scales for the first time in months. I stood on the glass and watched the LCD display wheeling up, working out what the grand total was. And then the display steadied and settled on a final number.


How Charlie Bucket’s Grandpa Joe was an asshole

Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka

Nostalgia’s a funny old thing. You recall childhood things with a fondness and rose-tinted viewpoint. But sometimes things that seemed wonderful as a child can seem awful through the eyes of an adult. Take Charlie And The Chocolate Factory for instance. A true children’s classic, following a poverty-stricken young boy and the golden ticket that changes his and his family’s lives forever. Yes, yes it could be a reality TV show…


Dryathlon 2013

Face down drunk

Oh my. What a Christmas it’s been. Well, the parts that haven’t involved the in-laws, anyway. It seems everything in that quarter is lies, deceit, repressed anger and depression. But that’s someone else’s story. It just hasn’t made them that much fun to be around. Kinda glad I kicked my family to the kerb ages ago.

We started out with the best of feeble intentions. We’d tackle Christmas with moderation, and still be able to have fun. At the end of a four-week Festival Of Gluttony, it feels like we’ve consumed twice our body weight in stodgy dinners, crisps and chocolate. Not to mention the dreaded drink.

Alcohol is the killer in our house. There’s always a bottle of red wine sitting around, which is always tempting to break out after a long day of juggling parenting and blogging. The thing is, whenever I get to a certain point of drunkenness, Greedy Me makes an appearance. A starving, rampaging version of myself with a single, deadly purpose: eat everything in sight. This version of me has been known to wake up the next morning with empty crisp bags and plates of toast beside the bed.

So not only is the calorific red wine a liability, but the junk food binging doesn’t help either.

And now that a fresh new year has dawned, and the Mayans were wrong about the apocalypse, it’s time to sober up some. Especially since the world isn’t ending and now it does matter that we pigged out at Christmas. Damnit.

Basically for at least the next month, we’re entering a self-enforced dryathlon. Goodbye, cheap bottles of JP Chennet merlot from Tesco! So long, 24 packs of whatever the hell beer is on offer down the off license. And with it, we’re going to be cutting back drastically on our junk food intake. The local Chinese restaurant has been dreading this day, but it’s inevitable. We must cut all ties with our Fried Food Dealers.

Yes, we’re only 5 days into 2013, but the Dryathlon is going fine so far. Last night I discovered an unopened case of beer in the cupboard (how did that get there?) and it was relatively easy to walk away with a large glass of iced water instead.

And of course, I’m back to running. Hoping to resume my fitness levels and burn off the winter excess and gradually move toward marathon distances throughout the year.

Anyone else vowing to get rid of the Christmas gut in the new year? Try a Dryathlon!

A damned good back waxing…

Man with hairy backGetting my back waxed has been on my to-do list since last year. Something about a hairy back is a massive turn-off for me, and as you get older the hairs get even uglier, like a giant carpet of pubes covering your back.

And I’m not even as hairy as the guy in the picture!


A breakthrough with the Fussy Eater

Picky Eater CartoonShe’s 10 years old and she lives on chicken nuggets. Or she did. Until we decided that Rachel was now old enough now to be reasoned with.

Since she was a toddler, Rachel has always been our fussiest eater. A vomiting bug when she was very young meant we fed her ‘easy’ foods – sandwiches, potatoes, toast – when she couldn’t keep food down. Unfortunately, when the bug eventually passed, she rejected just about everything that wasn’t utterly bland, unchallenging food.


Father’s Day

It's Father's Day!So, it’s Father’s Day.

I’ve never really had a big attachment to silly card-shop celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. That’s not to say that I disagree with the idea of celebrating love or the people in our lives, but not on some pre-ordained date, and certainly not because someone told me to.

Let’s face it, without our children we wouldn’t be celebrating Father’s Day at all, and I want to take this opportunity to turn this around and focus on the tiny people who enrich my life in so many ways. (more…)

The Atheist and the Cub Scouts

Bear Grylls

I’m an atheist. It’s not something I wear on my sleeve because I’m not a militant atheist. I don’t walk around my town wearing a sandwich board declaring everything that’s wrong or objectionable about scripture. That’s the Internet’s job.

In real life though, I’ve never been made to feel dirty or discriminated against because of my (lack of) religion. No old ladies throwing rotting vegetables at me in the street or public shunning of any kind. Well, until recently. Here’s what happened:

Enter the local scout group

My oldest son is painfully shy. After years of trying to get him to participate in football clubs and after school activities, we finally found something he loved and enjoyed: the local cub scouts group. I’ve never seen him so happy or fulfilled, making new friends and getting involved in games.


Things I love about my kids, part #852: How they totally ‘get’ me.

Hands in the shape of heartsSometimes I feel utterly at odds with the world. Honestly. Like everybody’s in a different mental timezone to me half the time. Whether it’s in-laws being crushingly selfish or friends competing in the World Boring Championships to see who can stay indoors and have the least fun, life can sometimes be frustrating.

I’m not judging these people. Well, not much. Okay, I am judging them. After spending years in the wilderness being a slave to the grind and becoming a dull, grey person as a result, I want to make every moment count.