Category: Family (page 1 of 16)

Surviving the slopes with Sophie

It had been something I’d wanted to do for years – take a skiing holiday in term time.

I’d had glorious ideas of shooting down the pistes while my class sat in a cold British classroom, plodding on mindlessly with Maths and Literacy.

Naturally I’d get an early ski lift up the mountain, spend the whole day up there and then zoom down as the sun set to enjoy asprès-ski and rest up for the next day’s activity.

Throw two small children into the mix and it looks slightly different…but what a fabulous week we had.

Sophie had been in training for this since last May – a succession of hit and miss skiing lessons had come and gone while I tried to put my idea of her as a fearless nimble toddler skier into practice.

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A note from the ward

We’ve been pretty blessed with the health of our children to be honest.

Sophie had her first week in hospital, takes her daily meds and has had one night stopover in hospital in four years.

Harry has kept himself nice and well.

Until this weekend that is – poor little dude.

We all thought it was a bit odd – the right hand side of his face sticking out that much further than his left.

But he’d been snotty – standard – and his tonsils were quite red so we put it down to that.

It was only when the swelling showed no sign of stopping that we became a bit more concerned.

Initial fears were that it might be mumps – an adverse reaction to the injection he’d had only a couple of weeks back.

That suggestion got thrown out though as the problem was deeper into his neck. Cue paeds a+e at the big city hospital, a bunch of confused doctors scratching their heads and a couple of parents feeling guilty we hadn’t brought him in sooner (not that we should have).

Since being admitted though, the only thing holding Harry back has been the lack of sleep.

Somehow whenever we got him to sleep he’d be needed for another antibiotic round or to have his obs doing.

Or we’d keep him awake in readiness for a ward round that kept getting delayed. Typical.

In the end we crashed him out this morning only to have his important ultrasound scan signalled about five minutes later.

I carried the little monkey horizontally down three floors, the full length of the hospital (or so it seemed) in the wrong direction before finally reaching radiology. He was always going to wake up when the soft cold jelly touched his neck and so it proved.

Still as the day’s gone on, the swelling has receded, his cheeky grin has grown wider and (hopefully) the likelihood of him getting home tomorrow has hopefully increased.

My wife has been brilliant and so has her work, giving her the start of 2018 to look after him, endure the sleeplessness along with him and hang out in hospitals – something she said goodbye to professionally a long time ago.

And we have been inundated with so many offers of help from so many people. It’s when you realise how big your support network is and we’re so grateful for everybody.

Oh and then there’s Sophie. She’s had a whale of a time at her grandparents (massive thanks to them) and heads back to school tomorrow.

Not the start to 2018 we’d envisaged but life goes on. Keep smiling Harry and get well soon. 

How Sophie’s shepherd nativity debut unfolded

I’ve seen a lot of school nativities in my time.

Usually, there are a whole host bunch of ridiculously cute small children wearing tinsel, tea towels and terrified faces acting out a vague interpretation of the Christmas story to an excitable sea of uber proud parents, grandparents and other assorted adults.

It’s usually lovely.

But throwing Sophie into that mix was quite nerve wracking. Sure I was very excited about the show, but what if something went wrong…?

I was delighted to get the time off work to go. My manager actually anticipated it asking me if I had one to go to. So I rushed out of work and made the trek across town desperately hoping I wouldn’t be late.

Sophie had been singing the songs with gusto at home for a good five weeks.

Initially she told us she was an angel and we were imagining white dresses halos and a pretty glamourous look.

We got a bit suspicious though when her favourite songs were We must go to Bethlehem and Look, there’s an angel. Surely angels wouldn’t be quite so startled to see one of their own?

Turned out she was a shepherd.

So tea towels after all then.

We saw Sophie coming in with her class to sit down and as soon as she saw us she shrunk back into the teacher, a coy grin plastered all over her face. 

They’d done all the costuming. A deep blue cloak, manly headdress and a little sheep to clutch. We beamed with pride although there was that ridiculous feeling inside – what if she makes a mistake? Sure she wouldn’t.

Next to me her grandparents were so overwhelmingly excited. Pity we couldn’t really see her from our seats. Her lookalike best friend was wearing exactly the same costume and sitting next to her, constantly blocking our view. Occasionally she’d stand up for a quick second, shoot us a grin and an embarrassed wave and then bob down again.

Still we knew she’d be pumping out the showtunes, a veritable array of awesome children’s carols. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of her face and she was so happy.

Narrators bumbled on and off, powering out their words with great enthusiasm and a very cute lack of flow and rhythm. That’s Reception for you.

My favourite character was the donkey. A child in a onesie with a girl in a blue dress and a balloon tummy following him round the stage. Classic.

Finally, it was Sophie’s big moment. The shepherd dance.

She bounded on and jumped her little heart out to the sound of Jump jump jump there’s an angel. It was amazing.

She was probably only on stage for twenty seconds or so but the feeling of parental pride was immense. So lovely. And she smashed it as well.

Afterwards she allowed herself the honour of waving frantically at us, briefly, before disappearing off with her teacher to get changed and return to 2017. The consummate professional.

And so, as we gathered up the tissues which had collected our tears of pride, we thought that was pretty fun.

Same time next year?

Why shift work has brought Christmas round more quickly

It can’t just be that now I’m comfortably into my 30s ,Christmas appears on the horizon more quickly.

I know the grey hairs are proliferating but I can’t accept that’s the reason.

I prefer to blame the ever shifting nature of shift work and the weird impact on the body.

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Harry and Sophie in footwear refresher 

There comes a point where you have to accept that your child, despite your best efforts to discourage him, is going to start walking.

That’s the time when every cupboard gets childproofed, stair gates are slammed up, anything within reach is plonked on the highest possible shelf.

It’s also the time when thrifty parents have to loosen the purse strings and buy some shoes to help them with their development.

We just didn’t expect Sophie to get herself involved at the same time.

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Happy 1st birthday Harry

When Sophie turned one, I couldn’t quite believe how fast the time had gone.

That’s nothing compared to how quickly year one has been for Harry.

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On the other side of Parents Evening

So Sophie had her first school Parents Evening last week and I was fascinated to experience what it was like.

Gotta say…it was weird.

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Miscarriage Awareness Week

It’s Miscarriage Awareness Week and my wife’s doing a bake sale at work to raise money for Tommy’s, a charity which endeavours to conduct research into miscarriage and stillbirth and support families undergoing these traumas.

Nothing particularly unusual about that.

However, she’s doing three half marathons as well.

And that’s because the experiences Tommy’s helps couples through are very close to our heart.

Delve a little deeper, uncover the heartache we personally went through two years ago this month and you’ll see the scar tissue is still raw. 

I don’t tell our story at all to curry sympathy or to make anyone upset. 

But if in some small way it helps people be a bit more open (and donate to this excellent charity too via her Just Giving page) it’s definitely a good thing.


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On the eve of a new job

It’s a month into the new school term and I’m preparing to start a brand new job tomorrow.

As many of you know, that’s not in the system I’ve dedicated myself to for the past eight years.

A new dawn rises and I’m excited.

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The start of school

It’s a very strange irony but as I adjust – quite happily – to the lack of school in my daily life, Sophie is revelling in her first few days of pre-school.

For me, it’s been a real joy to take her along and  experience those new times with her. It’s something that would have been simply impossible had I stayed put.

For her, it’s been a wide-eyed adventure into the unknown and one that apparently she is absolutely loving.

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