Wednesday, 18 April 2012

MADs and BiBs: why you should vote

While things have been a little quiet on the blog of late [coughs and looks at the floor in embarrassment], they've been bloomin' crazy on the award nominations front. Not only has the Daddy Diaries Blog been long listed in 'Dad' category in the Britmums BiB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards, it's also been nominated in the MAD Blog Awards. Whoop.

First up then, the BiBs: if you've arrived at the Daddy Diaries Blog wondering whether you should vote for us, I thought you'd appreciate a handy link or five to the type of stuff we (and by 'we' I mean 'I') blog about.

  • I champion amazing dads in a bit to combat the lazy, oafish, incompetent dads portrayed in the papers and on TV. Over Christmas I did this in a series called The 12 Dads of Christmas.

  • I try to create engaging, original and at times exclusive content, like this interview with Julia Donaldson.

  • I link to good stuff that I like or stuff that I've found useful with my sons Alex, three, and Elliot, one.

  • I wrote about my boys' development so they have something to look at when they're older.

  • I comment on parenting issues or things that have generally irritated me online or in the press.

So that's me. If you like the blog, please vote. Thanks.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

First birthday blues

Poor Elliot's first birthday wasn't exactly the jelly-and-cake fest we'd all been looking forward to on account of him being struck down by the plague. (Did I mention we'd all been poorly? I did? Oh.) Rather than soft play and presents we had snotty noses and uncontrollable crying. There's not much else to say about Ellington's first birthday, but it does lead nicely into some interesting images of cards from his granny's first birthday, which look like they're from another world!

My mum dug these out from a box of old photos and bits and pieces from my own nan, who is sadly no longer with us, and I had to post them up as they're so spookily weird/brilliant. Right, now to dig Elliot's birthday cards out of the recycling bin, so he can freak out his kids in the year 2081.

With apologies for the crappy photography, I snapped them on my ailing iPhone.

Daddy Diaries loves… OneFineDay prints

Hey you. It's been a while. You OK? You're looking well. Apologies for the lack of blogging action of late. Work craziness and our house being consumed by the plague* has led to me being far too busy/tired/sick to even log on to the blog. It's been six weeks now since I could honestly say we were all well and I'm currently bed-bound with what I would describe as 'flu', were it not for scoffs of derision from the opposite sex.

Still, one of the highlights of a challenging few months was the arrival of a package from OneFineDay. When Alex was born, I ordered one of their fab name prints for his bedroom after being really impressed with one a friend had bought. (I don't really think you should used the term 'nursery' unless you can pull off something like this.)

OneFineDay do really charming, sweet limited-edition, framed prints of your child's name with the date of birth, weight etc included, and Alex loves his, which is made up of different animals depicted on each letter. 
To be honest, I'd been dragging my feet a bit over buying the print: when I ordered Alex's it was back in the days where we actually had money and weren't paying a massive chunk of our income in nursery fees, but in the interests of fairness I thought it only fair that Elliot had one too. So using some Christmas money from relatives I bit the bullet and ordered Elliot's last month. And I'm so glad I did! As you can see, it looks a treat above his cot and will hopefully be something that stays in his room throughout his childhood (at least until he decides he'd rather have band posters plastered over the walls instead). 

*Elliot's first proper poorliness in a year has left us calling the fatigue bank manager and extending our sleep overdraft once again. And while he's now on the mend it would be really, really nice if, after four weeks, I could stop coughing and spluttering like an old person.

Check out OneFineDay's range of prints at

Thursday, 19 January 2012

How much TV is too much TV?

There’s a game played by parents; a competition, if you like. It’s not always intentional, or done with malice, but it’s a game that pops up with increasing regularity as a form of parental one-upmanship. The name of the game, for want of a snappier title? Let’s Pretend My Child Watches Less TV Than Your Child (Even Though He Or She Probably Doesn’t Really).

In my limited experience, some parents fall over themselves to stress that their child hardly watches any television at all, as if a few hours in front of the box will have their friends speed dialling social services. In some cases they're telling the truth, and that's their choice. But is TV really so bad? When I think of the things that have stirred Alex’s passions and interests over the years, they’ve usually been based around things he’s seen on the TV or films he’s watched. In short, while he doesn’t watch an excessive amount, it’s lit the fuse of many areas of development.

His current obsession – dinosaurs – was sparked by watching Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs. He asks to watch the film most days after nursery and can already identify pterodactyls, stegosauruses, and the perennial favourite, tyrannosaurus rex. He’s learned about all manner of sea creatures from Octonauts and knows about silver back gorillas and that baboons have red bottoms from Tarzan. TV doesn’t just educate, it inspires play, too. Mike The Knight is the root of his games of knights and monsters, while he’ll happily impersonate Fireman Sam for hours on end.

At the same time, of course, we make sure Alex runs around a lot, goes for long walks in the countryside at the weekend and plays outside as much as possible. So while I’m not advocating 24-hour-a-day TV, I do wish parents would be a little more honest about their kids’ viewing habits, and stop trying to make each other feel guilty.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Whoop! The first post of 2012!

With the joy of Christmas a fast-fading memory and with it being almost a month since my last post, the first blog entry of 2012 is long overdue. By way of recompense, here's a trio of post-ettes.

Burger off!

As if there wasn’t enough misery in the world already, Blur bassist and part-time cheese maker Alex James has written a gut-wrenching piece for The Sun praising the manufacturing processes of Greggs the bakers, McDonald’s and KFC. At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but on second inspection the piece appears to be the ultimate sell-out.

As the epitome of middle class dad (not to mention an organic farmer) I can’t imagine why he’s penned what reads like a stinking advertorial. While I 'get' the angle with Greggs (British company bucking the trend in a time of economic gloom), I can't condone the gushing review of a McDonald's burger factory or a day working at a Reading KFC. The piece legitimises and even praises the consumption of, as some might say, "snouts and a**holes" and seems completely at odds with what the author usually stands for, food-wise. 

While I'm the first to enjoy the occasional trip to both McDonald's and KFC, the last thing this nation of pie eaters needs is a tutorial on the virtues of junk food. And it’s extremely hard to swallow the idea of Alex James and his brood visiting a McDonald's near their Oxfordshire farm.

“Yes, I’ll have a Big Mac meal and 20 chicken McNuggets for me and my kids, Geronimo, Artemis, Galileo, Sable and Beatrix, please." I don't think so.

Dotty for stickers

I recently tweeted a link to this fantastic art installation at Australia's Queensland Institute of Modern Art, but thought it worthy of a mention on the blog, given Alex’s current obsession with stickers. 

If The Boy had his way our whole house would look like this  – although with Octonauts stickers rather than Damien Hirst-style dots. Still, it’s amazing to look at and the completely white interior at the beginning of the experiment does appeal to my OCD tendencies. Take a look at the pictures here. Jaw-dropping stuff.

Video filled the PVR

There’s only so many times you can watch Disney’s 1999 adaptation of Tarzan before questioning your own sanity (even with the 'soothing' tomes of Phil Collins helping you through it). So I was thrilled when I pored my way through the Christmas Radio Times and set up the Freesat box to record ten new kids’ films for Alex to watch over the Christmas break. Some were more successful than others. Wall-E was a massive hit with me but a bit bewildering for The Boy, while we were both surprised how much we enjoyed Alvin & The Chipmunks. Anyway, in no particular order, here’s Alex’s top-five films over Christmas:

  • Ice Age 3: Dawn of The Dinosaurs
  • The Gruffalo’s Child
  • Alvin & The Chipmunks
  • The Gruffalo
  • Shrek

Monday, 19 December 2011

The 12 Dads of Christmas: Dan Coshan

For Miriam Khamis Coshan and her husband Dan, the year got off to a bumpy start when their baby daughter arrived 12 weeks early. The following nine weeks that saw baby Lucia in intensive care were all the more emotional as the couple had already suffered a number of miscarriages. Happily though, Lucia is now doing fine, and Miriam contacted The Daddy Diaries blog to give Dan some much-needed recognition after he was a tower of strength for his family…
You can do the same here.

“My husband Dan Coshan is a brilliant dad to our 11-month-old daughter Lucia and we are both really lucky to have him. We’ve made some massive changes to our lives in the last two years – Dan changed jobs after ten years, we moved from London to the countryside and bought and renovated a house… and we fell pregnant, which was fantastic news as we’d previously had had a number of miscarriages.

“In January, our baby surprised us all by arriving 12 weeks early. I was in hospital for a week before she arrived and Dan was fantastic, bringing me coffee and breakfast every morning on the way to work, and supper in the evening. He said all the right things during the horrid Cesarean (well, horrid epidural) and even had me laughing during the operation. He went to intensive care to see our daughter as soon as my operation was over and brought me the first picture of Lucia. (I couldn’t see her when she was born as she was being resuscitated and then whisked away.) He even sat with her so she would not be lonely.

“Dan saw Lucia every day for her nine-week stay in intensive care while continuing to work full time, and even became an expert at administering her medication and nasal drip-feeding. When she finally arrived home he decided to take on the night feeds so he could spend time with her that he felt he missed out on during her hospital stay, he still does this, and I am eternally grateful for someone who I feel really shares the care of our baby equally.

“Lucia is now doing very well and as far as the doctors can tell the early arrival has had no detrimental effect on her. That is why I think Dan is a brilliant dad.”

For yesterday's dad, click here. And to nominate a dad, the form is here

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The 12 Dads of Christmas: Ross Winn

We're half-way through our 12 Dads of Christmas extravaganza – a project on The Daddy Diaries blog to celebrate regular dads doing things right. It's great to see so many stories of love and positivity, especially at this time of year, and the series is really proving that despite all the horror stories of feckless, irresponsible dads out there, there are many more devoted, fantastic fathers. So step up Ross Winn, daddy to little Lewis and husband to Alex, who has written the entry below…

"Trying to say why Ross is an amazing daddy is a tough job because there are so many reasons.

"For starters, when I was pregnant he was amazing. He made me cups of tea (decaf), came to every antenatal appointment and made me feel as though I was the only woman in the world to ever be pregnant. We found out at just over 37 weeks that I was unwell with obstetric cholestasis and I was to be induced at 38 weeks – three days later. Ross was completely calm and made sure everything was done.

"When Lewis was born Ross was brilliant. He didn't shy away from changing the horrible nappies and was extremely supportive with getting breastfeeding established. He even sang his own lullabies to help Lewis sleep!!

"I was off work for a year and now Ross looks after Lewis on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I didn't think it was possible but Ross became an even better father after I returned to work. He takes Lewis to the park, museums, local wildlife reserve, play centres and loads more.  Lewis absolutely loves his daddy time, has so much fun and learns so much. It melts my heart when I see Lewis kick a ball to Daddy or pick up a book and take it to Ross to read.

"I couldn't imagine being married to a more kind, caring, considerate person. I am proud to call Ross my husband & best friend and I know that Lewis would be proud to have his very own superdaddy."

To read about yesterday's daddy, click here. You can still nominate a wonderdad here.

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