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?

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.

A great day out at Kirklees Light Railway

On Sunday, the pride and I headed for some lower-case steam train fun. We’d planned on doing something as a family and the weather was looking fine, so we headed off to the Kirklees Light Railway, in Clayton, near Huddersfield.

Not too far away from us, about a 40 minute drive,  and when we turned up in the sunshine, the big cub, NJ, was instantly interested when he saw the little train running around it’s circular track near the car park. Right next to that was the birthday party carriage and old Post Office carriage, all heightening his anticipation. As he hit the platform, the engine, Hawk, was waiting and boarding passengers, so I nipped in to the office to grab our tickets (£7.50 adults and £5.50 for NJ at 3. J-Bub travelled free as a baby). We boarded quickly, ready to be steamed the 3 1/2 miles up the track to Shelley Station. NJ loved it, the noises of the tracks, the hissing of the steam, the smell of the burning fuel, the steam that came floating past the windows, all served to make a small boy, who, if he loves anything as much as tractors and monster trucks, loves trains, a very happy boy. He could barely stop smiling the whole way up. Looking out the window was great for him too, seeing the fields going by, and the mast at Emley Moor dominating the landscape.

The cubs and our chariot, Hawk!

NJ and J-Bub waiting to board Hawk.

As we pulled in at Shelley Station NJ jumped out and loved watching the engine turn around on the turntable at the end, “just like Chuggington” and set off back down to the front of the carriages for it’s return journey.

The fun didn’t stop there though. We’d brought a picnic and made full use of the lovely weather by sitting on one of the several picnic tables outside the cafe. Whilst we got some coffee from inside the cafe, NJ found the Thomas the Tank Engine play set in there and amused himself, and others, for probably longer than I might normally let him, given the lovely weather outside! The views from up at Shelley were wonderful in the sunshine, and partnered with the relative tranquility made for a very relaxed afternoon. After our picnic lunch, NJ went to play in the playground – a tower to climb up and slide down, a train to drive and climb on and a sand pot to dig in and lay down and get covered in it in! He had a great time and didn’t really want to leave the playground.Tthe train enticed him though.

Heading back down to Clayton, we were a little delayed as the train was firstly late coming up due to an obstruction at Skelmanthorpe, but once that was cleared we were on our way back down. Not before NJ had a panicky moment as the platform announcer told us we were going to be setting off soon. NJ thought the train was leaving with me and J-Bub and I on it and not him or his mum. He was quite upset, bless him. Secretly inside, I felt quite nice that he was afraid of not seeing me again!

Back at the home station, we obviously had to visit the shop, where NJ bought a steam train and carriage to take home and remember the day by, followed by a trip around the small engine track outside (50p per person, tickets via the ticket office. You need this before riding, which isn’t obvious).

Another park finished the day off for us with NJ running around like a mad boy, tiring himself out nicely for a small kip on the way home!

All in all a really great day out. Even our 8 month baby, J-Bub, had a lovely day enjoying the sun, the new sounds and smells of the trains and the opportunity to sleep in his buggy in the sun at the top! We’ll definitely be coming back over the course of the year. It’s also worth noting the special events they run at Easter, through the summer and at Christmas.


But I don’t want you to go to work today daddy!

It’s fair to say that being a daddy has it’s share of ups and downs. Happy and sad. Good and bad. etcetera etcetera.

Wednesday morning for me was a sad one.

As I was leaving for work, as usual, I dished out kisses and cuddles to the family and I said to the Big Cub, as he was standing in the front door space, ready to go and get dressed with his mummy, “Right, daddy’s going to work now, I’ll see you tonight”, leant in for the kiss and he turned away and said, “Awwww, but I don’t want you to go to work daddy. Can you stay with me today?”

It was as though someone had ripped out my heart and stamped on it! This was the first time we’d had this kind of conversation. I tried to rationalise it for him, that I needed to go and earn some pennies, so that we could have nice things and go nice places, but realistically all he wanted was his daddy at home. Maybe even just for a few minutes for a cuddle or a play. Just not at work.

It’s fair to say the rest of the morning was rubbish, and me being me, I was down and emotional for the rest of the morning, just waiting to get home to see him. Of course, he was totally indifferent when I got home and probably hadn’t really given me 2 thoughts for the rest of the day.

Today, however, was different; I got a kiss and a cuddle. #BigSmile
Now, where’s that weekend.


It’s another birth story.

Friday 1st August 2014.
One week ago today I experienced another defining moment in my life as my awesome wife delivered to me another son. This is the story of how it played out.

If you’ve got children then you’ll likely understand how, for the last few weeks , sleep has been at an absolute premium, and I’ve been getting quite used to being woken during the night by my wife shuffling to find a comfy position, or stumbling to the loo again. I’d been on red alert for the last few days and was planning on working from home on the Friday but in the early hours, 2.46am to be precise, I woke up to find Helen leaning over at her side of the bed. “Are you alright love?” I asked. “My waters have just broken,” came the reply. Game on!

I had the timer on for the contractions and they were coming pretty quick, quicker than I expected. And they were already showing signs of becoming stronger quite quickly too. We got the TENS machine on the go, remembering that this gadget was quite a comfort with our first born, if only as a distractor from the pain. I spoke to the hospital and they were like, “yeah, don’t rush down because it’ll probably be a while before things happen and you don’t want to be just sitting around here waiting.” We called the in-laws, who came down to look after our sleeping cub, and to be there when he woke up. We pretty much set off straight away, as the contractions were getting stronger and stronger.

At the hospital Helen went to get checked over by a midwife, (who to be honest came across as less than enthusiastic at 4.30 in the morning). On completing the observation the call went out to fetch a wheelchair as we needed to head round to the delivery suite. “Is the big water birth suite available?” Helen asked. The midwife wasn’t sure but told us, “I’m not sure there’ll even be time to fill it!” ‘I’m sure there will, lets try,” Helen told her as the wheelchair was put in motion. As we got there, the taps were turned on and the gas and air delivered.

Funny moment as I was unhooking Helen from the TENS happened when I started to peel the pads from her back. She yelped out, making me think they were stuck more than I thought, and had hurt as I pulled them off. As it turned out, I’d accidentally turned the machine back on and hit the Super Burst button, sending a big shock into her back!

Helen had only been in the birthing pool a couple of minutes when the need to push came and quite literally 40 minutes later our new baby was born. Compared to when the first cub came and she was in the pool for 3.5 hours, this was a positive sprint finish.

The weigh in came and he came out at 9lb 3oz, a little smaller than his big brother, but still a decent size. The next job was to think of a name, as we’d only arrived with two definite names, and they were both girls names.

We were home by 2.30pm and settling into life back at Pride Rock.

I didn’t think life could be more complete than it already seemed but being the dad of 2 sons just fills me with pride and I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for my pride.


Ones and Twos: 5 Tips for Potty Training

When I started this blog I never contemplated the possibility of writing a post about toilet habits, but the Cub is 2 years and 4 months now and well on his way to being a man. With that comes great responsibility, and that starts with not doing your business in your pants. Yes, we’re potty training, and he’s doing very well in fairness. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our ups and downs; there’s been number twos falling out in full view of picnickers at beauty spots and puddles in Ikea, but hasn’t everyone!

I think both he and us have handled the whole thing exceptionally well and to celebrate here are my top 5 tips for potty training.

1: Run with it. As soon as your little one shows an interest in using their potty, run with it. Ditch the permanent nappies and switch to pants or fresh air as often as you can. This is obviously when at home. Pants are good because they get to see what it feels like when they let things go in these new, none porous pants.

2: Be available. They’re not going to get it straight away so be available to lend a hand. Help your little boys get used to pointing it in and avoiding soggy carpets. Also, when the Cub needs a number two he seemse more relaxed and comfy about it if I’m there to hold his hand. Quite literally.

3: Incentivise. Especially in the early days, this worked well for us. Each time he used his potty he was allowed a sticker to go on the side of his potty. The novelty soon wore off, but at the same time, he got more comfortable and proficient at using it.

4: Rebrand. When we stopped the Cub wearing nappies all day, we still used a pull-up nappy on a night. The Cub didn’t like the thought of wearing a nappy now he was a big boy, so we rebranded them as simply pull-ups. Now he doesn’t mind them at all on a night as they’re just his night time pants.

5: Be prepared. There will very likely be that one morning that you go in to wake them and you find yourself in the middle of a poo crisis at some level. Whether it’s on the sheets or wall, or whether they’ve hidden it. We went in one night, on our way to bed, and could smell the aroma of a number two but found no physical evidence anywhere. In the morning he took me by the hand and wilfully pointed out a small, insignificant looking nugget in his waste bin. Thanks son! Again, don’t freak out. Just remain calm and deal with the fallout (pardon the pun).

If there’s such a thing as a bonus tip for this post then it’s just to make the whole process seem as normal as possible. The concept is a little bit weird for them at first, but your encouragement and sense of normality will really help them feel comfortable with letting it go rather than carrying it around with them in their nappy.

What tips have you got from potty training your little ones?


Best Friends

Over breakfast this morning I was chatting to the Cub about the day he was going to have at nursery and what he might do there. During this I asked him about him playing with his friends there, to which he said, “Yes, I will.”
I asked him if he could remember the names of any friends. Silence, but a smile.
I asked him again.
He said, “we like friends don’t we Daddy?”
“Yes we do. Are we friends?”
He seemed to get quite excited about this and said, “Yes we are Daddy.”
“Best Friends?” I suggested.
More excitement.
“Yes daddy,” he said, “that’s a good idea.”
He kept looking at me then over breakfast saying, “Daddy. We best friends.”

Daddy and the Cub.
Best of friends.
At least for breakfast. He’ll probably have forgotten all about it by the time I get home from work!