Hi! <Waves>

Funny and honest tales from a made-to-work Dad of three, wobbling, graying, and laughing his way through parenthood. Armed to the teeth with Nerf guns, full of pie, fighting a chocolate addiction, but genuinely honoured to be at least half of Team Parents (yay!).

13 April 2018

A New Tradition (For Me)...

I’ve started a new tradition in my house.
(It's happened thrice which totes counts as a tradition, it’s basically an institution now).
It’s to do with half terms, winter breaks and Chocathons Easter hols.
And it’s to do with me missing out on half term fun.
As a reluctant Dad at work...

Miss7: 'Hi Daddy! Nice day at work?'
Yes thanks... What did you ALL get up to this fine mid-half-term day? Day FOUR into your TWO weeks off? <Does weird smile>
Miss7: 'Loads of awesome stuff!'
Wooo... <Is feeling very mature about it all>  
So happy for you all <Also doesn’t care>
Miss7: 'But we thought it wasn't fair that you had to work all the time, whilst we're having so much fun!'
<Is shocked and more than a little touched>
<Tears well>
Miss7: 'Yep. We thought you might like to join in the game we were playing earlier?'
I would love to <Wipes away tear> I would really love to!
Miss7: 'It's round here' <Leads me outside the house>
Er... What game were you playing?
Miss7: 'Water bombs! NOW!' <Runs for cover>
<Does Platoon pose>

(<Tuts at the state of the garden after the winter>)

So the great new tradition I’ve worked out?
Well it’s pretty simple. Every half term. I take a day off work.
Yep. TADA!

<Dusts off hands… Work is done>
<Turns off PC>
<Turns off lights>
<Leaves house>
<Burns down house>
<Is watching flames>
[Mrs. Amazing arrives]
<Does wistful face> It was over… It had to be done…
<Boy10 holds Mrs. Amazing back>

What? You want details? Oooo… Of course!
<Stops sending message telepathically>

So why?
Well it’s simple. I finally got fed up with half terms being something that happens to everyone else in the house. Except me...

Mrs. Amazing: ‘Check these out’
<Mrs. Amazing, Boy10, Miss7 and BabyBoy3 show me their new t-shirts>
Nice… ‘Best 2018 Easter half term ever’... Cool…
<Heart is breaking>
Mrs. Amazing: ‘Don’t look so sad, we got you one!’ <Passes t-shirt>
<Holds up t-shirt> ‘I worked through the Best 2018 Easter half term ever’
<Drops t-shirt> I’ll be in the chocolate cupboard… <Climbs in>
[Sobbing and munching sounds can be heard]

The drudgery (yes drudgery) of going to work Monday to Friday on and on.
Was getting to me. It sucked.
And it was not helped by everyone else having a week!!! OR TWO!!! Off every few months (don't get me started on Summer hols).
Playing. Going on adventures.
Awesome stuff.

I love playing!
I frickin’ love mad adventures. That’s my special skill. Being in, and the main fault of creating mad adventures. The madder the better! Normally with me in charge (??).
Planning? PAH! That's for people that want to know what is going to happen! Where's the adventure in that.
I also love spending time with my children. All of them. Really. Yeah even Boy10 in full on grump.
And I don’t actually need to be out doing expensive amazing things with them either.
Just time together is cool. An a day spent playing hide and seek, paper plane fights, and a good scoot round the block, and I’m happy.
And chocolate.

However amazing things can be found.
And cheaply! Hoooray! This tradition is not a money-money-splashy-splashy thingy.
As I've no money...

<Empty pockets>
[Maglite, pocket knife, lighter, 8GB memory stick, keys, gum, 14p, and a LEGO Wicket arm fall to floor]
See! <Picks up 14p before Boy10 sees it>

So who needed to sort this out?
Make this new tradition, traditionanised (real wordy), traditioninated? Any guesses?
No? It’s one of Team Parent (yay!)...? It isn’t Mrs. Amazing? No? Seriously?
Mrs. Amazing was/is already busy sorting out her own stuff every half term. Mainly looking after three mad short people (children). Whilst maintaining her sanity. No easy task (due to the children that is...).
Mrs. Amazing did/does not have time to cheer up someone moaning about spending his day in adult-land, with peace and quiet, warm tea and cakes, at work.
Mrs. Amazing already has three children to care for. <Counts them> Yes three.
If I wanted how half terms go down to change.
It was up to me.

<Does super Dad pose>
<Holds tummy as long as possible>
<Has methane escape>

(<Builds power levels>…)

So that's what I did/do.
It was/is exhausting. It takes planning. And arranging stuff AHEAD of time with Mrs. Amazing (I cannot stress enough how important the ahead of time bit is).
All stuff I hate! And suck at. Planning. URGH! Structure! URGH! Low fat mayo! URGH! <Voms a little>
But I do it because of them, and for me. And because I want in on the half term fun.
And why the hell not?

My criteria for our AMAZING DAY OUT TOGETHER is simple:

1. We all have to go.
ALL of us. No one is allowed to stay at home sat in front of YouTube instead (Boy10) or just stay at home alone enjoying everyone else not being there (me and Mrs. Amazing). No one is allowed to stay at home colouring in all day (Miss7).
And definitely no one can stay at home watching Fireman all day (BabyBoy3).
There’s laws and stuff.

2. Cost wise it needs to be very much on the lowness side.
There's frikkin' five of us. FIVE! That’s a gitish family ticket, and one more. Because apparently family's are limited to four. Since-the-smeg when?
I did look into going to a really cool dinosaur thing in London recently. It looked hella amazing. We all would have loved it so much. Me most.
It probably would have scared BabyBoy3 a bit, but he would have still loved it once he stopped crying.
It was £30 each. That’s £150 straight off. Even £30 for BabyBoy3 who is prone to sleeping randomly, or not wanting to do something really fun for no reason other than his socks feel weird. And it was only an hour long!
I know strip clubs that charge less than that!
(Obvs. I don't they all charge a lot more I do not indulge in that kind of thing).

3. Ideally it should be all day.
My holiday days from work are like gold dust, covered in chocolate, sat on a big Star Wars pile, playing brilliant music, cake (go on picture it). And I don't have enough. Never will.
If I am taking a day off from work to be with my kids and Mrs. Amazing.
I wanna max it right out. End to end stuff.
If I'm not crawling into bed at 9pm utterly exhausted, bruises on my knees, head spinning with wonder and excitement, phone full of pictures.
Then what the jammy dodger was I doing?

4. It’s gotta be vaguely educational, or cultural.
Ideally both. I don’t know why. I just think it's important I push these sort things too. As Dad.
Plus I like stuff like that too.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to art galleries I careth not about. Nope.
That would be dumb. I can’t get anyone excited unless I care myself.
It just means that dragging the entire family miles to see an exhibition of 'Raiders of the Lost Arc' stuff is very much on the cards. Cultural and educational and historical.
And awesome.

And then there's the actual work.
The stuff that I need to do to make sure the day happens. The stuff that if I don't do, then someone else has to do. Ergo Mrs. Amazing.
And we've discussed that, if I want it, then it's on me.

So here’s the work I do.
If it helps you, good. If not, sorry. If I'm doing it dumb, then tell me better...

A long time before the day:
With Mrs. Amazing we pick a day we are all free in the half term and I book it off.
Maybe months before. Cancelling leave last minute is really easy.
Taking leave last minute not so much.

<Is begging> Please?
Boss: 'Hmmm...' <Rolls two billion-sided dice>
Boss: 'You need ten...'
Boss: 'Or less.'

Nearer the time:
Pick where to go.
It’s really weird this country. There’s loads of amazing free stuff out there. But it's the stuff that costs money that's shoved in your faces. I suppose advertising.
But still... there’s the National History Museum (Dinosaur bones), National Science Museum (Cool science stuff) and Imperial War Museum (War stuff) - All free.
We’ve been to all three. All bloody brilliant. Will go again.

A few days before:
Work out all the incredibly boring travel logistics.
URGH. This bit sucks. But yay for Google as basically I tap in where I live and where I wanna go and it tells me how to get there. MAGIC!
Then I swear and curse at the irritating train ticket booking websites. Before handing over loads of cash for discounts cards (Friends and Family). Then regretting choosing to pick up the tickets from the station, trying to be all modern and paper free, and it’s free. But then stressing about it until I have the tickets in my hands.

Day before:
I print out a map of where we are going. With street names. Very important.
Yep me and Mrs. Amazing both have phones. With GPS, and maps.
But picture it. Three train insane children running about. It’s raining. There are bears.
We're utterly lost in London and there’s no phone signal. Or our GPS's aren't working, or have gone mad like Mrs. Amazing’s did last time.
Or just for some peace stupidly we let Boy10, Miss7 and BabyBoy3 drain our phone batts on the train on the way up.
We need a paper map.

(Don’t worry! I’ve a map! <Pulls out map>
Mrs. Amazing: ‘Oh brilliant, you are so....’ <Gives me a look>
Now... we need to find a big skull shaped rock…
Mrs. Amazing: <Heads of to ask help from a fellow adult>)

Night before:
I make and pack enough sandwiches, snacks, treats, fruit, drinks, waters, elevenies pick-me-ups, sugar boost emergency treats for little ones, sugar boost emergency treats for big ones... etc. Enough food to feed the entire population of Luton, or us five for a day.
It normally takes me two hours to do it. Which if I removed the singing time, gurning, air guitar solos and pretending I’m J.K., could possibly be an hour.
But where would be the fun?

In bed (far too late at night):
Talk through my the plan with Mrs. Amazing.
Actually work as a team and let Mrs. Amazing have input. Which is generally a good idea because she is better than me at remembering medicines, clothing changes, child safety, how the real world actually works, and that I can only carry BabyBoy3 half the distance I think I can. Or, and this was a winner, how best to utilise a visit to Imperial War Museum with Boy10’s school work.
Together we rock.

Then finally we are ready.
Ready to have exhausting fun. In the half term. All day.
Me included.

Mate: ‘Yo! Blood! How’s it going?’
[Both do very intricate, but totally over the top handshake ritual]
[..still going…]
[... and done]
Yeah good man. You?
Mate: <Nods cooly>
Did ya read me latest blog?
Mate: ‘Yeah! Utterly, utterly, brilliant. Bravo. <Claps> I’m so doing that’
Mate: ‘So where did you all go this half term? As per your new tradition!’
Bums... I forgot!
Mate: ‘It’s lucky you’re pretty then’
Cheers… <Doesn't feel very pretty>

8 April 2018

My No-Plan Day Off...

It's Easter holiday time.
Which means everyone is off and at home having a great fun time.
Sun's nearly out in the UK. The tundras (we had a bit of snow) have moved on, the outside is once again calling.
Time to wind down, relax and just be free. Lovely!
Except me. Obvs. I still have to go to work.
I don't get Easter holidays...

(BabyBoy3: ‘Daddy I found these…’
Nice mate!
BabyBoy3: ‘What I do with them now?’
Give them to me
You share them eat them…)

BabyBoy3: 'What me doin' today?'
You're at home with Mummy!
BabyBoy3: 'Mummy not going to work?'
BabyBoy3: 'Miss7 go to school?'
BabyBoy3: 'Boy10 go to school?'
BabyBoy3: 'You goin' work?'
Yup... <Wishes BabyBoy3 wouldn't do this every morning>
BabyBoy3: 'Ohhh' <Looks sad about this>
<Feels better and leans in to give BabyBoy3 a kiss>
BabyBoy3: 'AHHHCHOOOO' <Full body sneezes>
<Is covered in snot> ... thanks... <Wipes face>

Except today!
Today I have a day off workingtons. Mrs. Amazing has urgent worky stuff to be there for, a peace summit between the warring clans of Ogres and Goblins, or something, and thus, like a beautiful wind on the sea, has flown off for work.
Leaving me with Boy10, Miss6 and BabyBoy3 to look after, feed and generally have a laugh with. Well that's my plan anyway. The first two bits may fall by the wayside.
But the having a laugh bit I am totes going for.
(I was told off by someone yesterday for using 'totes'. He was mid-twenties and claimed I shouldn't be using such words at my age. I told him he couldth stickth his head up his bum and smeg right off. I'll word it reet up how I iz wanting blood! We totes laughed about it together).

The first hurdle.
To our day of fun though was breakfast. They all needed another round of it. I don't breakfast, tummy issues. But that's OK everyone else in the house makes up for me, and has two.
This was round two. Pancakes are generally a winner for them all. But they had all been a bit painful about pancakes recently.
So before slaving away at the stove making loads of pancakes, only to have to throw them all away later. Annoying. I went round and checked pancakes were wanted.
BabyBoy3 started chanting 'PAN-CAKES! PAN-CAKES!' and punching the air on each beat. He's in.
Miss7 was less convincing as I had to offer pancakes thricely, until she stopped replying with cereal, and got pancake excited.
And Boy10 reluctantly removed his headphones, yet carried on playing Fortnite as he was twenty billionth this time and didn't want his concentration interrupted.
He did manage to focus on me, offering him breakfast, for free, for long enough to say he was in though. Thanks dude.
Pancakes was ago!

I say pancakes.
There are pancakes involved. Obvs. I cook them and make them. To size order.
You can have big, medium and small, or snowflake shaped. Basically your option is limited to what pans we have. But it’s not the pancakes themselves that the kids love.

It’s the Golden Syrup.
Which they all love. None of them would even touch pancakes that were not slathered in either Golden Syrup or sugar and lemon. It's all about the Golden Syrup.
The pancakes are a good front though. It’s a lie we are all happy to believe.
Team Parent (yay!) believe we are giving them a filling carb packed home cooked breakfast of flour, eggs and milk. Brilliant!
And the kids known that there's gonna be loads of sugar, in some form, on the boring pancakes. I even cook them in butter for them.
We all accept the lie, because it works for all of us.
Shhh… tell no one...

(It’s not perspective, that is a huge Golden Syrup tin…
About the size of BabyBoy3’s head...)

Pancakes were had.
And eaten. In fact they were demolished. BabyBoy3 ate as much as Boy10 did, and he eats a lot. Miss7 had enough pancakes to need a banana afterwards. Meh. Can’t win them all.
But after the pancakes came the dreaded question.
The question I had no real answer for. What are we doing today?
Obvs. I had some ideas. But really I am just trusting I can make something up realllll quick.
I like the danger.
It was Boy10 that needed to know what was in store for him that day. (He’s like that, like Mrs. Amazing, need to know).

Boy10: ‘Dad?’
<Is cleaning, singing and dancing round the kitchen>
union's been on strike… he's down on his luck, it's tough, so tough…
Boy10: <Waves in my face> ‘DAD!’
What? <Turns down music>
Boy10: ‘What are we doing today? What’s the plan?’
Huh? Pl-a-n… A what?
Boy10: ‘Plan. What’s the plan today. You know what a plan is, don’t pretend you don’t know what a plan is. PL-A-N. What are we doing today?’
… And you are?
Boy10: ‘DADDY!’
Fine! I have no plan...
Boy10: <Face goes a little white> <Eye twitches slightly>

And I didn’t.
I was plan less. Despite having eight hours ahead of me with three children. I had no plan.
And it felt good.
For me it feels good because at work they’ve always got a plan for me. Most of my time is planned out for me. So if I have a day off? … Well for me that should be non-planned time.
FREEDOM! <Paints blue cross on face, puts on Mrs. Amazing’s skirts>

All three of them looked up.
Once Boy10 had asked what we were doing today. Everyone looked at me (the three children that is, not the global populous). Wondering what was going to come out of my mouth.
I like to believe they were looking at me with hope in their hearts that sometimes I have ideas that are so fun they could make your head explode just by hearing them. And they thought that might be happening today.
But really it was because the person with all the power, money, resources, and the only one that can reach really high stuff was about to say what the days plan was.

What do you lot want to do?

Miss7 is a sharp cookie.
It has been discussed before here: ‘A Sharp Cookie’. (And surely I meant smart cookie?) (And how did you know my name is Shirely?)
A smart cookie. And Miss7 knows that being first with a idea can make the idea happen.
She was straight in...

Miss7: ‘SWIMMING!!!’

BabyBoy3 is instantly on side with this plan and starts his now signature move of punching the air and shouting ‘SWIM-MING! SWIM-MING!‘.
Boy10 is less keen because he can see the problem that is just occuring to me.
We have no wheels.

OK. I am making that sound a lot cooler than it is.
We do not have the car as Mrs. Amazing took it to get to work.
We’ve plenty of wheels. We’ve scooters galore. But we don’t have the car.
We could take the bus to the swimming pool, which BabyBoy3 would utterly love.
But it’s the going home part that is a problem. Waiting for a bus with an exhausted probably needing a sudden wee BabyBoy3 and a knackered and tired out Miss7, and tired Boy10.
Well that sounds fun level punch in the groin zero.

Plus there’s another problem.
There’s three of them and only one of me and me. Which could make being in the pool pretty tricky.
Boy10 swims great. But the other two are pretty drowny.
And of late I’ve been trying to increase BabyBoy3 confidence around water.
Which has worked! Yay! Too well. Boo…
He’s now fearless and doesn’t listen. And Miss7 is tired already so is likely to be Queen Grump in the pool. And I can see each of them running different ways towards very deep water.

No swimming I tell them all.
BabyBoy3 stops mid fist in the air and cries. I hug him a bit, but he quickly stops.
Miss7 (still cookie-sharp) suggests park.
We could scoot there I realise.
We could all scoot there. I’ve a scooter too.

We have a great day. And by the time Mrs. Amazing comes back:
We are all still alive. #Win
We are all muddy from the park:
We’ve had lunch in town at Subway. I made the fussy one’s eat theirs later.
We’ve done watercolour (splodges) painting.
We’ve played and done jobs in the garden.
We played hide and seek around the house, which was hilarious.
We watched three episodes together of Dragon Ball Z.
We discovered BabyBoy3 thinks Cricket is Football and he cheats at both.
We ate LOADS of a few chocolate eggs.
We’ve all knackered.


I love it when a no-plan comes together.
<Lights huge cigar>
<Remembers all the kids are watching...>

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