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Four

So I’m now the proud owner of a 4 year old. NJ’s latest milestone came up this past weekend and boy don’t we know it! We enjoyed a nice relaxed Saturday, his actual birthday, ending with a family tea out at a local pub, followed by a houseful of 5 and unders on Sunday as his party “happened”. 15 kids, very well entertained and engaged by Cosmo the Cosmic Magician (very much recommended for engaging these children for 45 minutes), and his slapstick routine and magic – the kids loved him.
So… where is NJ up to, now he’s 4:
  • loves his Transformers
  • writes his own name and recognises it
  • counts to 20 – and beyond when you remind him about just adding a number on to the end of 20
  • is fully integrated in to his nursery school, where he’s probably now towards the older end of his group
  • has already moved on from Daddy and now simply calls me Dad – I’m not sure how I feel about that!
  • has such a vivid imagination as he plays with his toys and makes situations up for them – I could watch this all day
  • loves being active and running and jumping. We set up his own Ninja Warrior obstacle course in the living room a short time ago, he loves that stuff.
  • he’s definitely grown and changed a lot in the last year. Looking back at photos from early 2015 to now he’s like a different boy.
These last four years have been awesome, becoming a dad is totally one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that has ever happened to me and I’m super proud of my first born (we just need to work on those tantrums and not beating his baby brother up too much! For the record, I’m also super proud of his baby brother too – just in case anyone was about to jump on me for lovin…. oh you know!) I’m totally looking forward to being his dad(dy) forever and watching him continue to grow up and all that comes with it.
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And so it begins… my daddy days are numbered

I didn’t think it would happen so soon. NJ growing up too fast has been one of my biggest worries probably since he was born. He’ll be 4 in a couple of months and over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a change in him that I’m really struggling to come to terms with. I don’t know where it’s come from, where he’s got it from and what’s driving the change, but he’s started referring to me as Dad, instead of Daddy!
He’s not yet 4 for the love of God!
This must surely be only a few months away from not wanting to hold my hand. Please let it slow down a bit. I love that he’s growing up, but in the same breath I hate it too.
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Chicken Pox Strikes Twice

Bringing up two boys is both total joy and incredibly hard work all in the same moment at times. This last 7 days has been one of the hardest weeks for a while with both boys getting Chicken Pox at the same time and suffering in equal amounts but for differing reasons.

Poxy JTo be fair, my youngest, J-Bub, probably coped with it better for the most part. I think he started first but probably developed slower than NJ, eventually resulting in the total body dot-to-dot look. The worst parts for him were in his hair and his poor little bum. His bum was the ground zero for sure. He did really well though for the first four days and then had 2 pretty bad days, one of which was over the weekend, where he basically cried all day Sunday!

NJ on the other hand, developed quicker and suffered in a major way with pox in his mouth and throat. Saturday was his worst day, spending the whole day on the sofa, in his pjs. Most unlike him. I made him some toast and jam for breakfast, (which on a Saturday he can have in front of the TV if he’s earned it), but he came running in to me in the kitchen moments later, in tears, crying that “Daddy, I can’t eat my breakfast because my mouth hurts!” That was the first heart-ripper of the day. I noticed him later on, whilst laying on the couch, that his mouth looked full, and when I talked to him about it, I could tell he wasn’t swallowing properly. I pushed him on this a little and he cried again, saying, “sometimes, when I swallow, it feels like it’s getting stuck.” His little face changed to really upset mode and cried. Heart-ripper 2. Lots of cuddles needed on Saturday, which is usually brilliant for me, however i’d prefer it under different circumstances!Poxy NJ

Now we’re starting a new week and NJ seems to be well on the mend, his mouth has cleared up now, the spots are definitely decreasing on his body and the itchiness seems to have subsided (touch wood). J-Bub woke up this morning in a much better mood and I actually got a smile for the first time in two days! Both boys have slept better for the last two or three nights (thankfully) and I’m a big believer that sleep helps to get over these things.

Here’s a few of the things we did to try and help ease the suffering for the boys:

  • Onesies at bed time rather than two-piece pjs. This helped to prevent there being openings for little fingers to poke in and scratch the nasty, itchy rash as it develops and then crusts up!
  • Mousse. We bought a mousse (Poxclin) that was so much easier to apply than a cream. This was vital in NJ’s case as he HATES having cream applied.
  • Calpol at the ready. Both boys developed a temperature/fever, which meant that Calpol was vital in keeping that down a bit, especially on a night. I read that you should try to avoid ibuprofen and should never give a child with chickenpox aspirin. We also used Piriton to battle the itchiness, which had been recommended to us, again on a night this was key to getting at least some sleep.
  • Cool baths. We noticed that both boys looked and felt a bit better following a nice, cool bath. Various recommendations suggest you try a cup of Bicarbonate of Soda in it, or potentially a sock full of oats. We did the soda one night and then used Aveeno oil, as we normally do, the other times. I think the cool temperature helped more than anything.

Have you guys been through this yet? What tips have you got t share that got you through this awful condition? How did you cope?
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Manners maketh the cub

A really important value for me, and one that I’m completely unrelenting on for my eldest cub, NJ, is using good manners. I was always brought up to be well mannered and am of the opinion that it’s a really important trait of a man. As such I push him to make sure he always remembers to say please and thank you and try to understand when it’s appropriate to use each one.

Now he does let it slip sometimes at home, he is only 3 after all, and I remind him often, but there’s not much that makes me burst with pride more than when he’s been somewhere else, be it nursery, a friends house or a party, and I’m told by the teacher/parent etc how polite and good mannered my son is. This happened a week or so ago when he had tea at one of our friend’s house, with their children too. The dad commented to me when I arrived how polite NJ had been, even to the extent of asking if he could get down from the table! Part of our manners culture is also about being respectful, part of which is how it’s polite and respectful to say thank you to the people that feed you. My brother and I did it when we were growing up and we’re both passing it on to our children – Thank you for my dinner, can I please leave the table? (“No, you have to take it with you”, I’m sure he’ll get a few times as he gets older lol). It’s not often I have to remind him of this now, which pleases me lots 🙂

So when do you start with this manners training? Is there a bootcamp you can send your children on? Well hopefully it’s part of what you do yourself anyway, because there’s not many better ways for our children to learn than by example. It can also start at a very young age, as soon as they start to give and take things, and make noises, the formative stages of building a vocabulary. Our youngest cub, J-Bub, turns one this weekend and as he gives us things now we say to him “Ta J-Bub, Thank you”, and also encourage him to say Ta when we give him something.

It’s never too early to be polite.