Saturday, 31 December 2016

Things Ive Learned As A Dad In 2016

1. Despite our Mara's early arrival she is the most tenacious, fearless, determined, strong-willed little girl I have ever met. The fact that she is all of this and I get to call her my daughter makes me even happier.
2. Caroline has taken to being a mummy like a duck to water. She is so natural and gentle with Mara, I can't help but love her more than I already do. Keep it up honey, only another 17 years* before you can show her how to sink a shot like a pro! (*Legally 17, but if Mara is anything like us it'll be more like 14!)
3. People take great offence when you tell them that your child rearing skills are different to theirs. While you are comfortable trying X, Y & Z they would never dream of doing that because... blah blah blah. What works for us, works for us, so keep those opinions to yourself and don't question how we do things!
4. I used to sleep so soundly that nothing could wake me. We live in a townhouse in a quite a high up area of West Lothian, and when its windy here our house literally shakes. Sometimes it can be quite scary, according to Caz anyway, I sleep through it. Nowadays, if Mara breathes ever so slightly differently than what I'm used to, I'm awake. Its amazing how being a parent changes you, even in the most basic ways.
5. I've become a master at multi-tasking. Right this second, as I type this, the laptop is balancing on my lap while Mara is fast asleep laying across me. I think the movement of my fingers typing is enough to keep her sound asleep for now.
6. The amount of toys and teddies we now have in our home is insane, and every one is larger than the last. I'm considering getting in touch with the Disney Store, Hamleys, Mothercare et al to see if they would be interested in some sort of buy back scheme.
7. I have become much more relaxed and chilled out. I'll be the first to tell you that I used to be a miserable, moody bastard and I definitely won't be the last. Family drama after family drama had a huge impact on me for a long time and it used to leave me feeling really angry. I felt like I was constantly on edge and two moves away from imploding. Don't get me wrong, I occasionally have my moments but becoming a dad has changed me for the better. I'm over feeling sorry for myself and have instead channelled all those angry feelings into being the best daddy I can possibly be. I never meant to become a serious blogger, it was only supposed to be for fun and something Mara could look back on in years to come, but its been therapeutic too!
8. Caroline and I will be eternally grateful to the NHS, and more importantly the teams in the delivery suite and SCBU at St Johns Hospital, for everything they did for our family back in February. I still remember every detail of the day she was born like it was yesterday, I don't think I'll ever forget it! The weather, the smells, even the beeps of the machines in SCBU. Like every other new parents, she was always going to be special to us, but because she was so premature it makes her even more so in our eyes. Add to this the great friendship we managed to create with Stephen, Keren and Joshua - possibly the only boy Mara might ever be allowed to date - who we spent a short time with in SCBU, we've loads to be thankful for.
9. Only the best parents are allowed to call themselves Grandparents. Marie and George a.k.a Grannie & Papa G have been absolutely brilliant over the past 10 months. There's no way we can repay you both for your time and help since Mara was born, except to offer you unlimited babysitting!
10. Mara gives me endless material to write about and zero time to write it, but I wouldn't change it for the world!

There's no feeling quite like being a parent, and I'm so glad I get raise this wonderful little girl as my daughter with Caroline by my side.

Happy New Year to you all when it comes, I hope your 2017 can be as great as this last year has been for us!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. Also a nominee in the UK Blog Awards for 2017. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there and turn on your post notifications so you never miss a photo) and here on Google+!!)

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Thoughts Of A First Time Dad

We made it, it's Christmas Eve!
So now is the time for me to wish all my readers and influencers a very Happy Christmas.

I hope you all have a really nice time over the festive period, hopefully enjoying a break from your usual routine and enjoying a couple of prosecco's and getting caught up in the magic of Christmas like we are!

Christmas is a great time of year to reflect on where you've come from and where you hope life will take you in the next 12 months, on our families and friends and our kids. Ultimately, Christmas is all about the kids and with this being Mara's first it's going to be extra special for her and for us. 
We've spent the day finishing off all the chores, doing up Elvis' bunny condo,

having the odd nap or three and building a gingerbread house! 

Then tonight we had Marie and George round for a bite to eat, Mara's Christmas Eve Box and some early gift opening... You know, those ones that missed the last post to the North Pole!

Mara is currently nodding off in my arms as I type this one-handed (who said men can't multi-task?!) but we finished off the night by leaving a mince pie and a glass of bubbly out for Santa - next year it will be vodka and Doritos... Just saying!

Then I think Caroline and I will turn in early for the night as there'll be a long day of playing with wrapping paper ahead of us tomorrow!

If you liked this post, please don't forget to follow us here and on Instagram (Turn on post notifications so you never miss a pic!) or like us on Facebook for more Thoughts Of A First Time Dad content through 2017 and beyond. 
Thanks again for all of your kind words and support throughout the last year, you'll never know how much it means to us all!
Thank you for reading and following our story!

Love Mark, Caroline & Mara 

Modelling her new Ted Baker PJ's from her Christmas Eve Box.

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Giving Blood

It was horrible outside tonight, thanks to Storm Barbara or whatever daft name the MET office has given this one. Snow, rain, gales. Scottish weather at its best.
However, I was determined I was heading out to give blood. Tonight would be my 25th donation!

I still remember the first time I went to donate. I tagged along with my best friend Catriona and her mum Angela (my ma) 15 years ago to one of the local high schools as Cat was going to donate before we went out.
At the time I thought that I might as well donate while I was there, no point in just watching Cat give her blood, and its just sort of continued on from there. Granted, it's maybe taken me longer than most to reach the 25 pint donation milestone as sometimes it wasn't always convenient to donate, I had to miss some due to illness or holidays, or I wasn't able to donate as I'd had a piercing or two (no mention of where!) but I've finally reached my 25th donation and to be honest, I'm a little bit proud of myself!
According to their recent letter, I'm part of the 9% of Scotland's population to have the blood type B Positive (which is ironic really as I'm often referred to as being a Grinch!) and apparently B+ is fairly rare.
Mara is B+ too. I remember seeing the adverts years ago that 3 teaspoons of blood could save a babies life, and that has always stuck with me, and despite her not needing any kind of operations or transfusion after her premature arrival, I felt this sense of relief that should there ever have been any problems I would be on hand to help Mara.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) is the specialist provider of safe high quality blood, tissues and cells products and services in Scotland. Their key priority is to ensure that NHS Scotland has enough blood to meet the transfusion needs of patients in Scotland.

Every time you give blood, you can save or improve the lives of up to three people.
Their website states that they aim to have at least 6 days stock of every type of blood group available for use. Today's stats say that they are running with only 5 days of AB Negative (AB-) and 7 days of O Positive (O-).
I understand that there are a plethora of reasons as to why people are unable to give blood, but for those of you who can, do you? It's literally one hour out of your day once every 12 weeks if you're a guy and every 16 weeks for the ladies. You even get a cup of tea, coffee or juice and a wee biscuit at the end!

The SNBTS do a great job year round and have always been extremely friendly and professional anytime I've been in. Long may they continue to provide the great service that they do.

Please visit the SNBTS website for more details on if, when and where you can donate.
You never know, your actions could help save someone's life.
Make it a December to remember!

My badge of honour from tonight!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!

Monday, 19 December 2016

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Daddy - Part 22

1. Mexican chicken flavoured baby vomit feels and smells as disgusting as it sounds.
(It was a bit like this... But with added carrots!)

2. Bath time with Mara is ever evolving. The way she wriggles about in the bath just now I can only equate to watching Shamu in the splash zone at Sea World!

3. I'll never understand Mara's taste buds. She'll quite happily try to chow down on a bit of kitchen roll but turns her nose up at a bit of tangerine!

4. We are raising a baby Dilophosaurus. She's started doing this pantomime cough while getting fed and spraying her dinner all over me.

5. Now that Mara is trying to crawl, and is fearless in her attempts, our house is currently like a miniature version of Jackass. Nothing is too dangerous. She's just upped the stakes.

6. There's also this look on her face as she hauls herself "Marine Style" across the floor towards us - a blend of determination, pride, concentration and sheer strength. That look will never get old.

7. When your baby sicks up straight in to your eye, it's difficult to resist the urge to do it right back...

8. Caroline has always been the creative one in our relationship - baking, drawing, profanities - but she has excelled herself with the fantastic Christmas Eve box she's created for Mara. It's going to be one of our first new family traditions.

9. Apparently my daughter has eyes like a hawk. She can spot a bit of glitter in the carpet from 10 feet away but can't see the coffee table as she commando rolls towards it.

10. All I want for Christmas is for Mara to get her two front teeth! She's halfway there and the second is almost poking through!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!

Monday, 5 December 2016

UK Blog Awards 2017

Morning all!
As some of you may know, my blog has been nominated for a 2017 UK Blog Award!
The public vote is now open from Monday December 5th at 08.00 until Monday December 19th at 10.00 and I would love it if you could vote for us using the following link -

The voting process is quick, simple and effective and voters are only asked to cast one vote to keep the process fair.

Please help us get as many votes as possible! Thank you for your continued support!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Daddy (Part 21!)

1. A rolling baby will fill you with a weird mix of pride at the fact they've learned a new skill, but also a tremendous amount of fear. As soon as they master this move, you can't be sure that your child will be exactly where you left them... Even if you only look away for a second. I found Mara under the coffee table the other day after I'd looked away to find the TV remote.

2. It's not against the realms of possibility to feel so tired that you think someone has dipped your eyeballs in wasabi paste.

3. If you ever have to change a nappy that requires more than six wipes before you've even removed said nappy, you might need to invest in a therapist.

4. Only as a parent have I ever sat down on the loo and thought, 'yeah, you've earned this...'

5. Now that Mara has learned to grab, and is still drooling like Beethoven, every cuddle feels like I'm being mugged by a dribbling dwarf.

6. Tidying up your home isn't a job you can finish - it's a constant battle. Not only has Caroline gone Amazon daft with Christmas coming up, but the Amazon boxes have also worked out how to pro-create. Thankfully I've got a bigger blue bin being delivered by the council - You know, those same fuck-wits who halved the size of the grey bins.
(This is our downstairs cloakroom because the recycling bin that was emptied TWO days ago is full and I've not had time to schedule in a Tip Trip!)

7. I'll never understand Mara's taste buds. Mara will quite happily munch on a piece of paper that she's grabbed from the sofa, but will kick off if we try to give her some mince & tatties!

8. Having to do a nappy change in front of an audience makes me feel more stressed than I did proposing to Caroline in Santorini. I took that ring with me everywhere we went, and I mean everywhere.
(This was about 4 months after our engagement... Circa 2007!)

9. Mara has been transfixed by Planet Earth 2 and the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough. She's also right in to Sofia the First so she might just like the noise and shapes on the TV.

10. We're putting our Christmas tree up this weekend and I can't wait to see Mara's face. After everything that she has been through this year, as well as us with her early arrival, it's  going to make our first family Christmas that little bit more special.

This is her Christmas sack from The Disney Store!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Review: The Rad Dad Box

The next big thing appears to be the monthly subscription box.
I've seen loads of them promoted online, mostly geared towards young women and new/pregnant mums. Until recently though, none really catered for guys, dads - more to the point, new dads.
This is where The Rad Dad Box comes in.
Unknown to me, Marie & George, my in-laws, bought me the first box for my birthday after I suggested it as a possible gift (Getting on a bit now, you know!)

After building up a rapport on Instagram with the creator of The Rad Dad Box, Michelle, she asked if I would be interested in reviewing their second box (on sale in December) in exchange for an honest review.
Obviously I jumped at the chance given how good the first one was! Having watched Michelle build a following on Instagram and promote her ideas for her subscription box it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Also, I'm among the first few people in the UK to receive a Rad Dad Box!! I like to think of myself as some sort of trail-blazer, and I'm delighted to be able to introduce this concept to my readers

Simply presented in a box emblazoned with their logo of a Dad & baby penguin, it was great fun to sit with Mara and discover what was inside. 

So what was included in the box? 

North Woods Soap by Suds Bath & Body
A manly smelling soap with a good lather that is all natural and handmade in Minnesota and has the added incentive of being wrapped in a plantable seeded paper "which will produce a bloom of wild flowers when planted." How cool is that? A little Spring project for Mara to grow some flowers!

- Wooden Photo Frame
 A modest wooden photo frame for a 6x4 print that will look great on our staircase photo wall (when I get around to putting all the other photo frames up to create the staircase photo wall!)

- Pop Art Camera
An Andy Warhol-esque camera (old style, with a 35mm film and everything!) that automatically turns your images into a four square, four colour fun image.

- Unitensil by Theo Stewart-Stand
A re-useable fork/knife/spoon set for dads on the go. In my line of work I'm sometimes limited to what I can eat due to a lack of cutlery, usually just sandwiches, I've never fancied eating pasta or a salad with my fingers, so this will make a huge difference to me and my diet! Probably my favourite item in the box.

- Donut Rattle by Cheengoo
A hand crocheted rattle made by artisans in China who are paid a fair wage for their work
Aside from the fuzzy cardboard packaging inside the box, this is definitely Mara's favourite item, she has played with it every day since our Rad Dad Box arrived.

- My Dad Loves Me Board Book
A simple board book to read to Mara featuring an array of dad animals and their babies illustrated with all the ways a dad shows his love to his children. Perfect for teaching different animals and actions.

- Sloth Bib from Fred & Friends
An awesome bib with a happy sloth sewn on the front. Mara was sick on it literally moments after we tried it on her, I think this means she liked it...

- Fatherhood Comic by Milk Rice Comics
A sweet depiction of parenting observations. This one shows Tummy Time between a dad and baby.

- The Rad Dad Badge
The *famous* Rad Dad Badge! I can't wait to pin this to Mara's changing bag when we head out for our Dadurday adventures! Dadurday is every Saturday that I'm not working, Mara and I head out on our own and go shopping or visiting friends and family. As she gets older, these daddy/daughter days will become more elaborate and adventurous!

(Click the link where highlighted and it will take you directly to the products page.)

Any of my readers, fellow mum & dad bloggers, Instagrammers or really anyone looking for something that's just that little bit different to give as a gift should look no further than the Rad Dad Box, and as an added incentive you can enter the coupon code MARA at checkout to bag 
yourself and extra 10% off purchases.

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Daddy (Part 20)

1. There is nothing that makes you feel more like a dad than scheduling in a trip to the tip on a weekend.

2. When Caroline dresses Mara for the day she picks the prettiest outfit. When I dress her, she wears whatever goes on and comes off easiest. "Mark, why is she wearing that dress? We're only nipping to Lidl."
*Clearly not Mara!

3. Peppa Pig is a wee cow.

4. A five month old kicking you in the balls is funny. A nine month old has the potential to cause damage.

5. It's hard to enjoy every moment of parenthood when you feel like an extra from The Walking Dead.

6. I'm not in any way qualified as a doctor, but I'm pretty sure the average human body requires more than 30 minutes sleep.

7. The "aeroplane spoon trick" works an absolute treat when Mara thinks she's had enough to eat. Food flying towards her face with a "nnneeeeeeooooooowwwww" noise always makes her laugh and the spoon flies in! When I try it on myself, my hand/eye coordination goes right out the the window and dinner lands on my face.

8. I've never taken drugs but I have watched 10 minutes of In The Night Garden with Mara and I think that is as close I'll ever get to a bad trip.

9. It is possible to be so tired when you're having a cup of tea and a biscuit at work, that you drop said biscuit and automatically call it a b****rd.

10. Nine months in, Mara still has a bit of a Velcro head, all fuzzy, BUT she has these two hairs that stick out the side of her head like an aerial. They're about two inches long, wirey and funny as hell!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram (don't forget to follow us there) and here on Google+!!