Blog On

Christmas Gift Idea: a Family Bauble

It’s Christmas!! And time to make the Sinclair family bauble…
See below for last year’s brilliant effort, created using our thumbprints. My wife had actually asked me to cover the fingertips on one hand of Sam, Jude and Liberty with paint and rest a bauble in it, so that it would look like they were holding them. Unfortunately I got the wrong end of the stick, but I hope you’ll agree the beauty below still looks rather great:

In my august opinion, baubles are great for a number of reasons:

  • They make really great Christmas presents, especially for grandparents.
  • They are a great keepsake for years to come (even now we’re playing the ‘is my thumbprint bigger than it was last year? game).
  • Making them is a nice and christmassy family activity, and as we go to a ceramic cafe, no cleaning up is required. My crafty friend tells me it is possible to make one with foil, paper, painted thumbs and PVA glue, but I am leaving that one to the experts.

If you do make them as gifts though, be sure to make yourself one too. The one above was actually meant to me my mum’s christmas present last year but when it was completed the little troopers couldn’t bear to part with it. You have been warned.

Blog On

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Today is the one year anniversary of us moving into this house. If you remember, this time last year we had deep snow, and it wasn’t until that snow disappeared in January that we discovered we had a real life Christmas tree lurking in a pot in the garden.
Well, it’s the time of year for Christmas trees (again) and yesterday afternoon I managed to drag it into the house.
The first surprise was how a tree that seemed mid-sized in the garden became a veritable giant once it crossed the threshold. It touches the roof. The second surprise was a nest lurking in the branches. We had a quick family conference about what to do which largely consisted of us all clambering to have a look, and everyone saying ‘aaaah’. My wife Tara then Googled it to discover that it must be removed right away as it might contain mites. We all took a step back. Then she went on to read that we should have given the tree a really good shake and prune out egg cases. We all took another step back. Tara stopped reading.
We had two choices – we either dragged the real Christmas tree back out into the garden and dug out our little green plastic one from the loft, or we took our chances. The kids looked at all the decorations and the big impressive tree standing right there. Jude said: “Dad, do you actually know exactly here the plastic Christmas tree is?” “No.” We took our chances.
And here’s the result:

Thankfully, we didn’t come down to be greeted by lots of little insects that have been woken up by the immense wattage generated by three strings of lights. We’re keeping an eye out though!

Blog On

Entertaining the troops during today's strike

Today’s strikes will leave thousands of parents with the prospect of finding childcare and/or entertaining the troops.
You probably wouldn’t have chosen to take the day off but love it or hate it, you’re off. So do your best to enjoy it. This will make life easier for you, and your troops (nothing says ‘joyless’ more than a parent iterating how little they are enjoying being at home).
The golden rule to remember is that your undivided attention is the most engaging entertainment tool there is. Anything that involves you spending time together will be a sure fire hit.

  1. Of course you can rely on the weather to be cold and unwelcoming. That shouldn’t be a reason not to go out and about – it’ll give you all a chance to work off some energy. Younger troops (nursery through to juniors) will enjoy going to the park where they’ll probably plenty of friends. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can build a shelter or den in the back garden with your older troops (juniors through to young seniors).
  2. Take your troops on an outing. To a library, or a museum, or a gallery, or an urban farm… Check out your area in your local paper or online as you may be surprised what’s on offer and the free activities available. If the funds will stretch, take your troopers swimming or to the cinema (but beware, the cinemas will be heaving and the popcorn and drinks will be a hefty Stand and Deliver! experience that is not advisable for the faint hearted).
  3. If you want to stay indoors, find an engaging activity to prevent boredom setting in (for everyone). Cooking is a sure fire hit, and can be tailored from ‘cooking’ a sandwich for lunch to that night’s dinner, depending on age and experience. At this time of year sorting through old toys is another good one. I convinced my troops that Santa has a strict quota of toys per house and so they need to keep getting rid of the toys they don’t want to make room for the toys they do. Making an indoor den is an evergreen choice and you only need a sheet and a bit of imagination. You could even stage your own film day, shut the curtains, turn off the lights and make your own popcorn.

Help Others
If you are able to take time off on Wednesday, and you have the space, why not offer your childcare services to your friends and family? Not only will this give you an all over good feeling of Christmas cheer, but also if the news is to be believed, this strike could just be the start. Perhaps someone you can help now may be in a position to help you next time.

Blog On

What kind of parent am I?

Something caught my eye on Twitter last night: “When you really want to know what kind of parent you are, ask your child. Your child’s perception of your parenting matters”.
So this morning I decided to put that theory to the test. I asked my eldest trooper, Samuel, what he thought of me as a parent. I should preface this by telling you that Samuel is 9 going on 19, and that he has somehow managed to acquire the vocabulary – and temperament – of Noel Coward.
He paused for a few seconds to weigh up the possibility that this could be a trick that would impact his Christmas present haul (we told him, in the strictest confidence, that Father Christmas has covert surveillance in the kitchen, which is where we were standing at the time).
“I think you could possibly be a better parent if you let me have a paint ball party for my birthday,” was his opening shot. “No, Sam I mean what am I like as a parent? Am I loving? Am I kind? Do I do a good job?” Silence. “I think you would definitely do a better job if you let me have a paint ball party for my birthday. Am I allowed to say that?”
So I tried out the question on my middle trooper, Jude. I am convinced that he is going to be a politician, and you’ll shortly find out why. “Dad – what a question. You’re the best dad in the world!” was his immediate reply, delivered with a beaming smile. “Really? How do you know I’m the best in the world?” “Because when I was in heaven looking for a dad, I checked out every one in the world before I picked you.” I should point out that this follows on from an earlier conversation: ‘where do babies come from?’ but is still very impressive for a boy of 8. And it certainly put a spring in my step.
Finally, I asked my daughter, Liberty. “Yes” she said with all the conviction of a five year old. Before I had time to congratulate myself that two out of three wasn’t bad, she immediately followed it up with, “so can I have some Jawbreakers now?” Jawbreakers are gobstoppers with chewing gum in the middle. “No Lib, you still can’t have any Jawbreakers.” Her thoughtful response? “Fine! You’re a rubbish daddy then!”
So according to the troopers, I am somewhere between rubbish and the best dad in the world. I know I’m not perfect, but I also know that I try to be the best dad that I can be. Unfortunately, ‘right’ isn’t always popular. For example, I know my boys love me but think that their friends who get to play violent video games have won the best parent lottery. But I’m not parenting them for what they want now – I am parenting them for the adults they’ll become.
I told my wife that I am going to ask each of them of the same question on their 18th birthday. She told me not to get my hopes up.