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 www.britmums.com 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 http://www.thedadnetwork.co.uk/ - 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

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Desert Island Discs

A couple of weeks back I was tagged by @Hux_Life to write a Desert Island Discs style post, but life kinda got in the way! However, here it is! My theme is songs that hold memories for me. In case you're not aware of the songs, I've included the links to the music videos. (Click the artist/song to take you to the videos!)
Enjoy!

1. Little Mix - Black Magic
Black Magic was out when Caroline was pregnant with Mara and she used to go daft kicking and wriggling away in utero. Now when it plays she has a little wiggle and a smile, like she remembers it!

2. Paolo Nutini - No Other Way
This was our first dance at our wedding back in 2010 and holds a lot of special memories for us. Exactly a year later, when we were out in Glasgow celebrating our 1st anniversary, Paolo was sitting right across from us in the restaurant we were in!

3. Supermen Lovers - Starlight
This song is infectiously happy and makes my day every time I hear it! The video is ridiculous with the weird little potato men, but the song doesn't get old!

4. Post Modern Jukebox - Creep
On one of our last trips to Las Vegas we heard a lounge singer in Rose. Rabbit. Lie in The Cosmopolitan sing this song originally, then I found the version she got her inspiration from thanks to Post Modern Jukebox who in turn have taken a Radiohead song and made it so much better thanks to the vocals from Hayley Reinhart! Phew! Her voice is amazing!

5. Jason DeRulo - Want To Want Me
Another song with amazing memories from Las Vegas. Caroline spent ages working on a Flipagram video to go along with the tune. An amazing holiday with my amazing family!! Watch our video here - Las Vegas Flipagram!

6. Jack Johnson - Angel
This song is featured on our wedding video. I asked our videographer to capture Caroline in the bridal suite getting ready for the wedding. It turned out beautifully.
I also used to sing this to Mara every night in SCBU after she was born. I still sing it to her sometimes today.
Jack Johnson is one of my favourite artists and his songs are so simple yet so meaningful. He wrote this song not only for his wife, but for his children too.


7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat Ed Sheeran - Growing Up (Sloane's Song)
Its a song about a guy's fear of becoming a dad, written to his unborn daughter and the lyrics are so open and honest.
While Caroline was pregnant I could relate. I didn't know what kind of dad I would or could be, but any feelings of doubt I had in my abilities disappeared the first time I saw Mara and were completely forgotten about the first time I held her in my arms. I think that was probably the happiest, and proudest I have ever been.

8. Muse - Supermassive Black Hole
This is one of my favourite songs ever, from my favourite band ever! Whenever I have a bad day I stick this on and crank the volume as far as it will go! Utterly amazing to see it performed live a few years back when Muse were on tour.
 Its my other go-to feel good track. Also, I liked it long before its association with Twilight!

Thanks for tagging me  @Hux_Life, I now nominate  -
Tim - @astoryfromdad
Marc - @twinsand2 and
Louise - @WeeOhana
Lets see what you've got, pick any subject you like!

I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. 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+!!) Also, new to Twitter now as well - @TOAFTD x

Friday, 10 February 2017

Blink

To my beautiful daughter.

A year ago today you surprised us all by arriving a little earlier than planned. 
I was stood beside your mummy as you came into our world. I saw your first breath, your first movements, your first blink, and I was totally unable to comprehend the wonder of you.


I slowly began to take you in. Your tiny little fingers and toes, your little button nose and your big wide eyes. You didn't cry when you were born, you just looked at everything and soaked it all up.
I took your first photo before I watched as they whisked you away to the Special Care Baby Unit to give you the attention you needed due to your prematurity.
I showed your mummy your picture while she was attended to by the delivery team, then she sent me up to SCBU to be with you so you weren't alone.

I watched you sleep peacefully in your incubator before you realised I was there and awoke with a smile. I listened intently at your first little noises and gurgles. They were so quiet, but loud enough to let me know you were there and you were doing  ok.



After a few hours your mum was allowed to come up and see you, and finally we were allowed to hold you for the first time four hours after you were born. The longest four hours of our lives.
You were just a tiny little head resting against my chest in a knitted hat under a massive blanket.
I held you close and my world changed forever in that instant. I didn't yet know you, but I felt nothing but overwhelming love and protection for you.





I blinked.

It was 40 days later, on the 13th March, that we finally got to bring you home from the hospital. You rewarded us by not sleeping for the next three weeks unless you were on me or mummy's chest, so I spent a lot of time on the sofa with you in the middle of the night and we took it on turns to keep you company. It helped us quickly bond with you.



I blinked.

You wiggled, you kicked, you smiled, you rolled over, you sat up, you pulled yourself across the floor like a marine, you pulled yourself up at the sofa to stand.



I blinked.

You giggled, you belly laughed, you found your voice, you said dada for the first time.

I blinked.

In no time at all you could communicate and we got to know your personality and little quirks.

I blinked.

Your hair finally started to come in, your eyes became wider and bluer than I thought possible, your gummy mouth that had nibbled on my fingers started to fill with teeth, you grew longer and stronger.



I blinked.

Obviously none of it was that simple, it felt like it happened in the blink of an eye but it all took time, patience, effort and reward. Sometimes the progress was much slower than you or us wanted it to be. We could see how frustrated you became when you wanted so much to do something but couldn't. 
We supported and encouraged you every baby step of the way, and applauded you when you finally overcame a hurdle and in time you learned to clap with us when you achieved something. 




There were tears from all of us. Every time you cried it felt like forever. There are a limited number of sounds in this world that can cut deeper than that of your own child in distress. It wasn't all bad though, sometimes those tears are important. They were part of your learning, part of your development. There were times where all I could do was hold you in close and tight and comfort you, waiting for the big sobs to pass and stop shaking your whole body. 



We've had so much fun together! We've played peek-a-boo, stack the cups and knock them down, chase and tickle, take all the balls out of the ball pit and put them back again, we've discovered new cartoons together like The Lion Guard and Sofia The First and I've introduced you to some old ones like Tom & Jerry, we've read stories together until you have fallen asleep in my arms, we've gone on holidays and mini breaks with mummy, gran and papa, we've had all of our Dadurday trips to the shops and the farm. We've laughed together at absolutely nothing. I've loved every minute of it.



I blinked again.

You turned one.

Happy birthday my darling daughter.
You've done nothing but enrich our lives and bring happiness to us since the second you were born and every day I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring. 
Mummy and I are both so proud of you and the perfect little lady you are becoming.

Don't grow up so fast!

Love always,

Daddy.




I'm a new dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern dad. 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+!!) Also, new to Twitter now as well - @TOAFTD x




Monday, 30 January 2017

The Bedtime Tag

I was nominated by One Hull of a Dad to complete this bedtime tag. The idea of this post is to answer some questions based on your bedtime routine. It may be the best or worst thing you read today, but thanks for looking in anyway!


Clearly, you're all so voyeuristic you'd like to know how I sleep, so without further hesitation...

1. Describe your usual bedtime routine.

Caroline and I usually try to have Mara asleep by 8.30pm, although she has been known to still be crawling rings around us at 10.30pm.
We'll then aim to settle down with a cup of tea and a biscuit (or several I my case, this DadBod wont sustain itself!) and  catch up on some TV before trying to move Mara into her cot without waking her. Stealth Mode Activated! We're generally in bed for the back of 11.
2. What are your favourite pyjamas?
I've got a cracking pair of Minion lounge pants, and some Ed Hardy joggers I usually wear around the house before bed or when I get up in the morning. Normally though, I just sleep in my boxers. Anything else makes me overheat and become a sweaty mess!
3. What is your current bedtime reading?
Not reading anything at the minute, not really had a chance since Mara was born. My Kindle has probably died a slow, boring death waiting for me to use it again...
4. What would I find on your bedside table?
Multiple watches, gum, drill bits and screws for work, bottled water and dust.
5. What scent makes you sleepy?
A bit of lavender doesn't go amiss. Also quite fond of the Calpol lavender & camomile diffuser for when Mara has the cold. Caroline's perfume - Angel by Thierry Mugler - is usually wafting about, and on the occasions where she's used fake tan, the smell of dusty biscuits (how I think it smells) is awesome!
6. What is your usual bedtime and wake-up time?
Anywhere from 11pm to midnight and usually up around 7.30am with Tiny Toes, even on weekends!
7. What are your top three bedtime products?
Clean boxers, clean teeth and a cuddle from my Mrs.
8. What is your most common sleeping position?
On my side giving myself a dead arm, feet hanging out the side of the bed.
9. Do you have anything you like to take to bed with you?
My lovely wife!
10. What is your worst bedtime habit?
Spending half an hour playing games on the iPad in the dark to try and make myself doze off. Bad, I know. Oh, and "apparently" I snore, but its not something I'm currently aware of!!!
It seems appropriate to tag more people to complete this bedtime tag so, I nominate
Huxley - @Hux_Life
Inappropriate Parent - @yoinappropriate
Thanks again Rich!