Thursday, 20 July 2017

Supernova 5K Run 2017 : Part 1 - Sponsored Post

Hi everyone!

This November I'll be taking part in the Supernova 5K Run at The Kelpies in Falkirk, and I'll be working alongside the organisers for the next few months with a few blogs detailing my progress in the run up to the event and beyond.

So, a brief intro.
I'm Mark, aka Thoughts Of A First Time Dad, 32, married to Caroline and dad to our little girl Mara who is 17 months old just now. By day I'm a bathroom installer for our family's business and in my spare time (which is a luxury as a parent!) I like to write.

I'm really excited to be taking part in the Supernova 5K run again. I ran it last year and it was an amazing experience to run around Helix Park at night and see The Kelpies lit up in all their splendour. Some of the other participants actually gave the Kelpies a run for their money with their neon, flashing outfits!
Don't get me wrong it was absolutely freezing, 8pm on a Sunday night in mid-November running around Falkirk in shorts!
However, based purely on that experience, I have signed up to do it again this year and I can't wait!

I recently competed in one of those well known obstacle courses and it let me see just how unfit I've become, especially since I've acquired quite the "dad bod" of late, but since finishing that event its given me a bit of a boost in my training and I've started working out at home 3-4 times a week with Caroline.
Granted, we're getting up stupidly early so we can get the work out done before Mara wakes up, but the early morning work out sets you up for the rest of the day. Unless it falls on a Saturday, and I do the workout on my own while Caroline is at work and have Mara laughing at me for half an hour, or worse, try to take part while I'm trying to do press ups!

Thanks for following my progress and I'll post another update soon.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

*Review - Despicable Me 3 meets Arthur Price


To coincide with the release of the latest Despicable Me movie, Arthur Price HQ has been invaded by the Minions to launch a special range of children's cutlery and crockery, and Mara and I were lucky enough to be selected to review some of the items available.

Despite the fact that it is aimed at children, I was so excited when I first saw the range and I'm 32!

At 17 months old, Mara is currently learning how to feed herself with cutlery and the little spoon is just the right size for her to hold comfortably and she manages to eat her meals with very little mess, which is handy as she doesn't really like to be too dirty.

The 'Expressions' four piece cutlery set retails at £24.95, comes in a great presentation box which is very appealing to kids, and are made of the highest quality (and shiniest) stainless steel emblazoned with the likes of Kevin, Stuart and Bob from the Minions series.

The bone china 'Sea of Minions' three piece breakfast set , also £24.95, has a china bowl, plate and mug. Each part can be purchased individually too starting from £8.95.

Mara loves the bowl! I think she's happy to have a noisy one like us grown ups rather than a plastic one for a change! This allows her to be a part of grown up meal time with proper crockery, but still has an element of fun.

All in all, a fantastic range of top quality items that are designed to last, and will no doubt see Mara through the next few years. My only hope is that she loves the Minions & Despicable Me as much as I do!

Arthur Price is a family owned business, set up in 1902, supplying their goods to Royalty, Heads of State and the finest hotels, restaurants, airlines and cruise ships across the globe.
Please visit their website to view their great range of cutlery and gifts.

In the words of the Minions,

Tank Yu and Poopaye!

Thoughts Of A First Time Dad was sent these sets in return for an honest review , all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sulk Hogan

Here's a treat for you folks, Mrs TOAFTD shares her Thoughts Of A First Time Mum!

Welcome to Car Seat Fight Club.
And yes we are going to talk about it.

We have recently binge watched GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) on Netflix.
Watching the satirical drama has led me to realise there is a wrestling match taking place every day in my life. Sometimes several times a day.
Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce you to CROW (Car seat Refusal by Offspring Wrestling.)
Through my extensive research via the aforementioned mock 80's show, I have learnt that you need moves, and most importantly a signature move. You can't just jump in there and punch the car seat.
No. No, you need finesse, you need panache, you need DRAMA. And, luckily for the future success of CROW, Mara has drama in spades.

Bear with me while I talk you through some of her special moves.

There is the original "My Car Seat Is Trying To Eat Me." An oldie, but a goodie. Performed by arching ones back whilst placed in the optimum car seat position. The car seat is powerless to respond, its straps simply cannot fit around the waist when its so far away. Toddler edges ahead in the wrestling game.

Mara has upped her game in recent weeks by adding substantially to her repertoire. She now seamlessly moves from the "My Car Seat Is Trying To Eat Me" to "The Exorcist." This move involves a total 180 rotation. Car seat is helpless as toddler spins round and the ref (that would be me) frantically tries to catch toddler.

Then it's time for "The Crucifix," propelling herself upwards, Mara stands in the car seat and prepares from the penultimate move. This is similar to a wrestler standing on the ropes. The crowd goes wild (her grannie pleads with her from the passenger seat) and Mara raises her hands to a "T" shape, above the headrest. She is now wedged in place, unable to be lifted above, unable to be pulled down. Ref is dangerously close to calling the whole match and heading back into the house. (Who needs groceries anyway?)

It is now that Mara tackles her signature move, the mother of all finishes, designed to take out her nemesis. Yes, here is "The Birth Canal." From her position in "The Crucifix" she pulls her arms in and shoots down the car seat as if on a flume. Ref struggles to stop toddler before she rolls right under the ropes and out of the ring (through her poor mothers arms and out the car door.)
The car seat can't catch her, the match is over. Toddler emerges triumphant and hungry for a rematch.
Luckily, a rematch is imminent as the ref carts her off to meet her new opponent... The Buggy!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Dad - Part 26

1. Post-Mara, half an hour on the couch with a HOT cup of tea is the equivalent of  an all inclusive fortnight in the Caribbean.

2. Mara sure has a lot of attitude for someone who drinks her own bath water. 

3. Mara's a little bit unsure just now if her name is actually Mara or no.

4. She's discovered how to give kisses! Basically, she opens her mouth like the wee beluga whale in Finding Dory and slobbers all over us, but the sentiment is there!

5. When did biting become a thing?! I'm not a bloody chew toy love!

6. We have a potential problem with boys... Mara rugby tackled Joshua to the ground last weekend!

7. Teething can fuck right off! I was about to OD on Calpol last week myself to see if it would stop the screaming.

8. I've started to get disappointed when an episode of Doc McStuffins comes on and I've already watched it.

9. Mara's a feeder. She loves sticking her breadsticks/chewed raisins/sausages etc. in our mouths rather than eat them herself.

10. She's almost walking! Getting gallas as my gran would say!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Dad - Part 25

1. Mara (or Pudge as I affectionately call her) has made it very clear that its our job to feed her, and she's not interested in holding her own bottle to feed herself.

2. Our house still isn't ready for "Dad Jokes"...

3. Nappies are about to become a 2 person job. Mara has discovered a penchant for trying to throw shitty nappies at us!

4. I've become increasingly excited about the new episodes of Elena of Avalor airing on Disney Junior on a Saturday morning. What is happening to me?!

5. Caroline and I usually go to bed between 11pm and midnight. If Mara could stop waking up at 3.30am EVERY morning, without fail, that would be grand. More than 4 hours of unbroken sleep would feel incredible.

6. My theory that Mara is part goat is proving true. We were at Mill Farm on Sunday and she was loving the goats there. Not only that, I put some YouTube videos of Goat Fails on the TV the other night and she thought it was hysterical!

7. You know you're a modern parent when your kid is covered head to toe in what was supposed to be their dinner and you upload a photo to your Instagram account before bothering to clean them up. Click this link to head to my Instagram to see what I'm talking about!

8. Justin's House is a new favourite. Not for me, for Pudge. I find it a little sinister.

9. Mara's current level of motion:
  • About to fall over, 
  • In the process of falling over,
  • Has just fallen over.
10. I've now decided its acceptable to leave the house with food stains on my clothes. Whether I slittered when I was eating, or Mara smooshes her food covered hands into my clothes, she gets the blame!

Its Blog Awards season and I'd really appreciate it if you could head over to and nominate us in the Family & Lifestyle category (Number 13) if you have a spare two minutes! Thanks in advance you lovely lot!

I'm Mark, dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern father. 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. You can find us on Twitter too - @TOAFTD
Also, I'm an ambassador for - check them out or search for them on Facebook. Dads, get involved!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

New Lanark Heritage Village

*Sponsored Post.

Set on the banks of the River Clyde, between two valleys and surrounded by woodland, New Lanark Heritage Village is a great day out for all the family. Now a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site, the restored 18th Century cotton mill still has a population of residents on site, small businesses, a visitors centre, hostel and hotel. Caroline, Mara and myself had a great few hours strolling around the exhibitions and attractions.

Established in the late 1700's, New Lanark was built in the hope that the Falls of Clyde would power the mill. It was a hope that paid off, and for nearly 200 years the mill manufactured cotton.
The Visitor Centre experience allows you to take a look inside the mill buildings, school, and the tenements  where the mill workers themselves lived. There is also a roof garden giving spectacular views of the valleys, the Clyde and a view of the whole village from a different perspective.

On arrival to the visitor centre, we received a warm welcome from Anne on reception who pointed out some key areas to visit during out trip and also informed us of the recently established guided tours on offer. They run twice a day at 11am and 2pm and last around an hour. Our guide, Paige, told us the history of the village, then took us into Mill 3. She informed us that it is still a working mill, with a spinning mule, but as we were there on a Sunday it was out of action for the day. I imagine it would be quite interesting to see it at work, stretching out the yarn and winding it onto bobbins. (I've literally just had one of those light bulb moments while typing this! The children's nursery rhyme "Wind The Bobbin Up" must have originated from children working in the textile industry! Huh, every day is a school day!)

We moved from Mill 3 over to the tenements where the staff lived. It was crazy to think that in one room there could be upwards of 10 people living there at any given time.
It was during this part of the tour that Mara decided she was hungry so we had to excuse ourselves from the rest of the group and go for lunch.
The café is sited upstairs in Mill 3, with an easy access ramp for wheelchairs and buggies.
There is a lot to choose from, from soup and sandwiches to hot meals, cakes and coffees. Caroline had a tuna mayo baked potato, I had the days special pulled pork panini, Mara had her packed lunch that we brought but we bought her some jelly too.

From there we headed back outside and took a walk around the grounds. We had hoped to get up close the Falls of Clyde for a better look, but the path seemed inaccessible for a buggy - unless there was another route we weren't aware of. We hit the kids play park for a bit before nipping back into the visitor centre to go to the Annie McLeod experience.
En route, we passed the rather impressive donkey engine, which was used to power the mill when the Clyde froze over in winter.

The Annie McLeod Experience is told by the ghost of a young girl called Annie McLeod, a mill worker from 1820 who shares the story of her life with you as if you were really there in that time.
Set in darkness, you are strapped into a carriage suspended from the ceiling on a rail that slowly guides you around, while holograms of Annie and her family are played to you with Annie telling you her story about life and work in the village. The ride lasts around 8 minutes and may not be suitable for those with claustrophobia or those afraid of the dark. Also not ideal for little children, as we found out the hard way half way through when Mara decided she wanted off! It is a very insightful experience though and definitely worth it.

After the ride was done, we made our way up to the roof garden which is beautifully maintained with breath taking views of the surrounding area.

On our way out we stopped off at The Mill Shop which has lots of Scottish products on sale as well as toys, homeware and other locally produced items, but the main attraction is really the wool which is produced on site.

Fun Fact - The wool produced at the New Lanark Mill was used to create the Christmas jumpers made by Mrs Weasley in the Harry Potter films. How is that for a claim to fame?!
We concluded our visit with a couple of ice cream cones by the side of the river overlooking the Falls of Clyde before heading back up the hill to the car.

As well as all the usual things that New Lanark has to offer, there are also various events held throughout the year too. When we visited they were gearing up for some fun Easter activities.
The next major event on the horizon is the LEGO Brick City Exhibiton. Held from June 28th to August 9th 2017, Brick City will allow you to "see the world in Lego Bricks." Another bonus feature of this event is that it is also Autism Friendly. They'll be offering quiet, sensory friendly morning sessions with very limited capacity (check website for details.) If you're a fan of LEGO, it sounds like an amazing event that shouldn't be missed.

One last thing I should mention. New Lanark is not that far away, especially if you live in the Central Belt. We live in Longridge, West Lothian, and it took us around 25 minutes to travel to New Lanark. It was a great drive through the country side on a lovely spring day!

Thank you to Melissa from New Lanark Heritage Village for the opportunity to visit and review.

If you fancy a day trip to New Lanark Heritage Village yourself, I have a free Family Pass up for grabs! A Family Pass covers 2 adults and 2 children under 16 (under 3's are free.) To enter, click the FAMILY PASS GIVEAWAY link below. Thanks for reading and Good Luck! Competition ends on Sunday May 14th 2017 and I will contact the winner.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Dad This Week - Part 24

1. That pesky sleep deprivation bug is doing the rounds again. I caught Caz spraying her hair with deodorant on Sunday morning instead of hairspray.

2.There's nothing weird about getting poo on my hand anymore. Which, in itself, is also weird.

3. For reasons unknown, I still set my alarm for 7.30am every morning. Utterly fucking pointless.

4. Nothing encourages you to quicken your pace like a baby wet-farting while you're mid nappy change.

5. I'd rather see Mara's empty plate at the end of any meal than have my lottery numbers come up during a rollover.

6. It turns out your little one doesn't have to be two for you to begin experiencing the Terrible Twos...

7. Pushing a pram up the hill on Longridge Main Street should be a part of basic training in the military! Climbing mountains would be piss easy if you've already mastered the incline between the bottom and top of the road.

8. Instead of companies spending cash on expensive risk assessment procedures, they should just put a crawling baby into the building as they would instantly find all the danger areas. Mara's current hotspots are the two wooden coffee tables in our living room (sharp corners and drawer handles) and under the dining room table (occasionally with a grumpy bunny laying around!)

9. Talking of grumpy bunnies, Mara has learnt to pat Elvis on the head softly and not whack him between the eyes like she used to. It makes us melt a little.

10. She's also learnt to blow kisses. This is my new favourite thing.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Im A "PRO" At...

Bathing my daughter... Allegedly!

(This is an article I recently wrote for a new website.)

Hi, I'm Mark and I blog over at Thoughts Of A First Time Dad.

I was recently asked to write an article for They Call Me Dad's new website on something I think I'm a "Pro" at in regards to being a parent.

When my wife Caroline was pregnant with our daughter Mara, I attended a Dads2B class for four weeks in my local area. Myself and a dozen or so other expectant fathers learned the ins and outs of labour (no pun intended) and changing, bathing and feeding techniques in order to give our children the best possible care and attention after their arrival.
Some of the guys had previously had kids and were there, some under duress, to brush up on their dadding skills. Other, like myself, were there as complete novices.
We practiced on dolls. I felt like a total clown, I'm not going to lie, but it stood me in good stead.
Not long after the course was finished Mara came rocketing in to our lives 8 weeks early and caught us a bit off guard. Long story short, after 5 weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit I was finally allowed to bathe her for the first time with Caroline by my side under the supervision of the nurses before we got to bring her home from the hospital.
All wrapped up in a towel, washing her face and head then supporting her in the water while washing the rest of her I knew this was going to be my time to shine.

A year later and I'm still the only one who gets to bath her. Apart from the occasional "poonami" while I've been at work and there has had to be some emergency washes from Caroline!

Mara is a natural water baby, she loves to splash around and more than once I have likened bath time to a visit to Sea World after being soaked through by baby sized tidal wave.

I wouldn't change it though, and I admit I'll be upset when she's to big for me to bathe like this anymore, bath time gives me something to look forward to after a hard day at work! Plus there are all of the fun toys for me... I mean, for Mara to play with!

(Ignore the fact that she's in a vest, it was a dry run to see if she would like the inflatable duck bath!)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Daddy - Part 23

1. It doesn't matter how long you've been a parent for, there is nothing that can prepare you for sticking your fingers in shit.

2. Mara is desperately trying to climb into the bunny condo we built for Elvis. I'm convinced she's actually part goat.

3. It takes longer to get the toys out of the bath than it does to fill it.

4. Swings are dangerous.

5. If I was only to eat the food Mara refused to, I'd still be a fat bastard.

6. All those happy toddlers enjoying their food in books and on TV are CGI, right?!

7. Toddlers never run out of fresh new ways to twat their head off of things. Mara is at the " I want to try walking, but I'm not letting go of the sofa to walk 3 steps towards you" stage and keeps falling down and skelping anything in a 10 foot radius.

8. The first time you discover your toddler can climb the stairs is utterly TERRIFYING. Where did she even learn to do that? Its not like Elvis showed her, he's getting old now so rarely drags his furry ass off his big cushion to do anything other than eat!

9. I don't care how strong you think you are, when a baby doesn't want to get dressed they develop some kind of inhuman strength.

10. DADS, it's not called "babysitting" if it's YOUR child!

I'm Mark, dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern father. Also a UK Blog Awards nominee 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+!!) New to Twitter now too - @TOAFTD x