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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Buck Rogers' Disco Dancing Salvaged My Bad Day.


I'm tired and grumpy after a 5am start today and finally had an hour to myself to relax. To cheer myself up I was surfing the net for rare disco cuts and cosmic disco tracks. Then I stumbled upon this, and it is beautiful.

It doesn't solve the fact that my eyes are like two peeping piss slits in the snow thanks to the toddler but it's too good not to share.

I'm so confused right now. This is dad dancing at a wedding at it's finest. It's alluring, confusing, sexy, creepy, cringeworthy and weirdly cool all at the same time, amirite? Their screen chemistry is pure filth and they just don't make TV like this any more.

If Buck has got you all hot and bothered you can follow my disco, groove & funk Spotify playlist here! There are some absolute beauties in there, and it's great for dancing in the kitchen with your family on a Sunday morning.

Or you can bring it out on date night ;-)

P.S. The tune in the video is called Jelly Belly by Splash Band, and it has never been released on vinyl or CD. The scene is taken from the 1979 movie "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century".

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A parenting tip I've learned that helps my toddler become more considerate to others

I've been really working on talking to my son in a way where I introduce new 'emotion' words in a way that it means something to him and they become significant.

It's a technique I read in this book, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk.


For the record, he's nearly three years old, and very much a typical toddler who likes to get his own way. Strong willed at the best of times and can be very hard work! I think though that he's just getting to an age where everything is (almost) lovely, and I'm really working hard on improving his manners and helping him learn to be more polite to get what he wants.

This is really hard to explain, so I'll give you an example. Last weekend the word of the day was 'considerate'. We asked him to walk with us rather than be carried, and I was worried that it was becoming a bad habit and he'd do his usual fake crying until being picked up. Anyway, for once he didn't complain, he complied.

I stopped what we were doing and I said, "Thank you so much. That is so considerate of you."

N.B. Slight pause before 'considerate' - I wanted to emphasise it.

He smiled and repeated the word, so I think it went in.

Ever since that happened I've been trying to reinforce it and praise him with it whenever he's done something good. But equally, he has been inconsiderate at times.

I have to be careful with that word because he's very sensitive. If criticised he gets a face like thunder, looks down and says "NO!" and goes into a sulk. He has a thousand yard glare that could cut through glass, it's quite frightening at times!

So I am training myself to use the 'I feel X when Y happens' method to try and get my point across without hurting his feelings. This way he hopefully takes it on board without getting offended.

The point the book makes is that we're much more likely as adults to respond positively to something if we aren't directly criticised, and children are exactly the same. We can still get our point across, but in a way that makes them reflect on their behaviour and the stressful impact it has on us.

The book is full of cartoons like this to teach you useful parenting techniques

So I was thinking about this cartoon and I recently said, "When you picked up Tink you were quite rough with her, and she might think that is inconsiderate, and she might feel sad, so please be careful."

It's a really little thing, but something happened tonight that made me so happy.

He was dancing to this song in the kitchen but dancing really well, like this crazy, interpretative, wild modern dance thing he had going on. Honestly never seen him dance like it and we were both really proud of him. Check out my Instagram as I'll post videos every now and then.

Later I said to him, "when you were dancing in the kitchen you were dancing so well, I felt really proud of you."

"I made daddy feel happy," he said.

And then we carried on watching Curious George, and I couldn't have felt prouder if I had tried.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Ai Wei Wei at the Royal Academy of Arts, a Retrospective.


I recently saw the Ai Wei Wei exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

It was a date weekend, and I remember thinking at the time it was a bloody expensive weekend just to go to some art galleries, but I was spending time on my Instagram tonight and looking through my photos and enjoying them all over again.

It reminded me just how much I love modern art. Even if I don't know loads about it, I can appreciate art.

One of my great pleasures in life is when I'm in a foreign city and exploring it, and checking out the local galleries. I would feel odd if I didn't do this, it's like my default setting. There's always amazing stuff to be seen, and you won't know unless you go looking for it.

It's the same with London. If I'm there, which is quite rarely nowadays, I'll always go to the Saatchi Gallery and the Tate Modern if I can. It's nice to lose myself in a couple of hours of looking at strange objects and pictures. It's a bit like reading a paper on a Saturday with a coffee and being able to truly relax, which hasn't happened many times since becoming a dad.

I've got quite a collection of art on my Instagram and you can follow me here!

Here are some of my favourites from the Saatchi.




And if you want to see the incredible 360 Ai Wei Wei experience, and tour of the exhibition then you can find it on the RA website in the link above.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

10 reasons why Curious George is the most adorable show on tv to watch with your toddler

I'll admit it, I am a Curious George superfan. My son is nearly three years old now and this is our thing together. Mummy doesn't know how to get Netflix on the Xbox so he has to watch the vile awful Peppa Pig with her instead. But sitting down to watch 22 minutes of this tv show with him after a long day is one of life's pleasures. Seriously.

For those of you that don't know, Curious George is based on books written by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey, a couple who fled Paris during the war in 1940 and went to New York. For a potted history, here's the Wikipedia page.

You can watch it on Netflix and also the Disney Channel if you're in the UK.

Anyway, here are my top ten things I love about George.

1. He's ridiculously cute.
















2. Seriously. Dat face
And he makes adorable monkey noises too.



3. It's massively educational.
The format of every episode involves George being presented with a 'problem' or something that needs solving. In one episode he breaks The Man in the Yellow Hat's guitar. Sounds sinister right? No, the man is actually a nice guy, a father figure to George. George is a monkey who has free rein to do as he pleases, but he always has a 'dad' to come home to.

So when he breaks the man's guitar, he needs to make a new one to avoid upsetting him, so he gets a bird house, straps it so some wood, attaches some strings, and bingo. Here's your new guitar.

In other episodes he builds a house for a squirrel that keeps sneaking into his house to keep warm, and in another he even builds an igloo.

Basically George is always fixing people's shit, and learning new skills along the way. There are never ending problems, or hamsters going missing, or ducks who have been rejected by their mothers, and he sorts it all out.

He even makes a badass go-kart in one episode (or soap box racer I should say) complete with steering and a working brake. For my son, who loves anything mechanical, construction, or engineering related he is in his element learning and watching these things.


4. George possibly used to be addicted to drugs, and smoked a pipe
Ok. Not really, he did makes mistakes along the way but he changed his ways in order that he could light up our living rooms and educate our children. I haven't read the old books but I understand he was quite mischievous. He was a bad monkey. There's a lovely blog about it here. Curious George - not quite what I remembered!





































5. THIS episode














6. Why so curious, George?















7. I mean seriously. Why so curious?

















8. More internet memes. Gotta love 'em.





























9.  George has excellent names around the world.
  • Utelias Vili in Finland (sounds like a pipe smoking physics professor if you ask me)
  • Peter Pedal in Denmark (weird!)
  • Slimme Sjors in the Netherlands (Slimy Sjors!)
  • Nicke Nyfiken in Sweden (it sounds like he's a pickpocket)
  • Curioso come George in Italy
  • Jorge el Curioso in Mexico, Spain, etc

10. And finally. Curious George cosplay, for couples. 
There's something deeply wrong about this!




















Oh George. We love you.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Choosing The Right Baby Changing Bag - The Dad's Survival Guide - 2016 edition!

Way back in 2013 I wrote a blog about bags and it's funny that it has turned out to be my most popular blog and gets new visitors all the time so here is my updated expert guide on the subject.

If you're interested in having a look at the rogues gallery of bags in my last blog, click here!

As a man, a grunting bloke, I feel that you want to be buying something that isn't too garish and doesn't draw much attention and there are very few options out there. If you're not careful, you can end up with all manner of horrific contraptions attached to your hip.

What I know now about changing bags though is that it's a crowded market out there. Everyone is trying to sell you a unique feature. This bag has 17 different compartments, this bag can survive a nuclear holocaust, and on and on. This bag has our amazing new shitsmear® retardant technology, and so on.

I wish I knew then what I know now about changing bags.

THE TRUTH IS, I WISH I HAD JUST BOUGHT THIS.

Bagbase Heritage Retro Backpack / Rucksack / Bag (18 Litres)
Bagbase Heritage Backpack. £10 on Amazon.




As new parents you get totally caught up in everything you need to buy. A bag like this is simple, functional, does the job. This bag has been to South America and back with me, and pisses all over any baby changing bag I've ever known. 

There are bags out there with millions of compartments. The truth is, unless you're totally OCD, your careful method for keeping the bag organised will go out of the window by week two.

The first 12 weeks or so are crazy, you'll be changing nappies left right and centre so you do need a foldable changing mat that you can pull out to get the deed done, but not as they get older. My son now he's nearly three is only dropping his guts once or twice a day max, and you can set your watch like clockwork for his 10am constitutional. He will always leave the room and do it standing up, and everything goes eerily quiet apart from a couple of telltale grunts and heavy breathing.

THIS IS THE GREAT BABY CHANGING BAG MYTH.

Successful marketing has convinced us that we need a changing bag with billions of features. Not true. You need a portable changing mat, and a functional bag that is not only light, but also about the size of a rucksack. That's it.

I've just done some research out of macabre curiosity and I've had a look at the options.

BRACE YOURSELVES. THESE ARE THE TOP SELLING BAGS ON AMAZON.

 

GOOD GRIEF. MY DADDY BLOGGER EYES ARE BLEEDING.

Horrific. Why would you do this? Nothing screams "I'm a parent for the first time" like these bags. It's like the whole act of becoming a parent has made people lose the plot and think that everything around them needs to be 'cute'.

So if you're a dad, and you've stumbled on my blog because you're hoping to find an inoffensive bag then you have my deepest sympathies. Good luck, and hopefully this guide has helped you find the right one to buy ;-)