Fitness break on through Blog

My Sunday Photo – Dad and Daughter Day

My Sunday Photo for this week is titled Dad and Daughter Day

Earlier this week Hannah and I had a rare day of completely unstructured activities. It was the first time in weeks that we hadn’t had a doctor’s appointment or playgroup or a visit to a childcare centre. We had a whole day just to ourselves, to do whatever we wanted.

I let Hannah take the lead. In the morning I asked her what she wanted to do. Her response was a blank look followed by a big smile. She is 18 months old after all and despite her astounding levels of comprehension, she is still unable to answer open-ended questions in a meaningful way.

I rephrased my question to “D0 you want to go to the park?”

A smile and a single, distinct nod informed me that it was indeed what she wanted to do.

“Do you want to scoot?”

Again, a large nod.

We had a great time in the park. Hannah rode her scooter for three kilometres as I pushed, which I appreciated because I had been lazy that morning and not gotten out of bed for my usual run.

Then we stopped for a banana break before Hannah had her first ever attempt at scooting in the standing position. She did a fantastic job, although she used the assistance of a strong wind to push her along like a sailboat. She still doesn’t quite comprehend the whole use your foot to push thing.

We had a wonderful, unstructured dad and daughter day. It reminded me that sometimes it is important to take things as they come and to leave enough room in a busy schedule to just play!

Dad and Daughter Day on scooter 

 

Today is Father’s Day in Australia, so a huge Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there!

Photalife
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Memories Made Globber MyFREE 5-in-1 Scooter Blog

Memories Made

There’s something truly thrilling about seeing your child doing something for the first time. Especially when it’s something that you have felt they wanted to do for quite a while. It’s on those days when memories are made.

On Sunday we made some memories that will sit fondly in my mind for many years to come – Hannah had her first scooter ride!

We were thrilled when Globber offered to send Hannah a MyFREE 5-in-1 scooter for review, following my post about her attempts to commandeer other children’s rides at the local park. That scooter arrived on Friday and we had been eagerly awaiting the chance to give it a proper test run since. Saturday’s wild winds ruled out a cruise, but we did get a chance to head up to the shops and buy a helmet. That meant that by Sunday morning, we were well and truly ready to hit the track.

 

Arriving At The Park

Hannah was full of energy when we arrived at the park. She was obviously ready to get stuck in, because she didn’t want to even know about her snack. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she was off!… Straight past her shiny new scooter and to the swings.

Not the best start, I’ll have to concede. After all the coveting of scooters over the past few weeks, Hannah all of a sudden didn’t even want to know about hers. Kids, hey! Who can predict them?

 

Oh Yeah, The Scooter!

After a solid ten minutes of swings, Hannah was ready to get off and explore the rest of the park. It was then that she finally noticed the scooter, as if it had magically appeared before her very eyes. Quickly enough she was on board, but we still had to overcome the first hurdle – the helmet.

We had tried to introduce Hannah to her helmet over the past day, but without much success. I had tried placing it on her head (no thanks dad), placing in on my head (hilarious!) and handing it to her to examine. The plan at the park was to get her on the scooter, jam the helmet on her head and then take off at full speed before she figured out what I had done.

That didn’t go quite to plan, and we ended up settling on a compromise of gently balancing the helmet on Hannah’s head without the chin straps done up, while we slowly pushed her along. Baby steps were well-and-truly required, but we were off.

Hannah looked quite pleased with her new ride, and soon enough we were into the swing of things. We stopped a couple of times to begin adjusting the sizing on the helmet and to introduce Hannah to the idea of chin straps. She hopped on and hopped off the scooter a few times.

 

Scooter memories, helmet

 

Definitely Not a Shrinking Violet

It was while we were stopped one of these times that a father approached us with his two young girls.

“What’s that?” he asked, his gaze drawn to the spectacular hot-pink and black, and the unique design.

I told him a bit about it and showed him how it converts. He was pretty impressed and complained about his little girl (slightly older than Hannah) having too many accidents with her stand-up ride. He seemed particularly impressed by the seat and the ability to convert into a proper stand-up scooter. His two little girls seemed enthusiastic too – the littlest one nodding eagerly when he asked her if she wanted one, and the older sister enthusiastically declaring that she too needed a Globber (despite being well past the seated stage).

I took that interaction as pretty good endorsement and made a mental note to joke with my Globber contact that I’d already made him a sale. Perhaps I could earn a commission by handing out business cards at the local parks…

After the dad and his two daughters had moved on, I took a moment to look at the scooter in all its glory. It certainly stands out in a crowd!

 

The Globber MyFREE 5-in-1 stands out in a crowd

Faster Daddy

Soon we had the hang of things and we were ready to really test the scooter. We headed off on the path out of the park and across the railway bridge. Hannah had definitely grown comfortable on the scooter. She was now confident enough to experiment with her feet by dragging them along the ground or placing them on the wheel. I think she quite liked the feel of the wheel rubbing against her ankle, because she kept her foot there for some time (we have the filthy sock to prove it).

 

 

The ground had been a rough asphalt and Hannah had handled that quite well, even though it was a fairly bumpy ride. At some point in the walk we hit a long stretch of smooth tarmac and that gave us the chance to gain some speed.

Hannah’s reaction was terrifying – she gave a hearty laugh of appreciation and leaned forward, as if egging me on to go faster. My mind skipped forward 16 years. I had visions of Hannah’s full speed ahead approach being applied to the piloting of an automobile, and I gave a little silent prayer to whatever deity may have been listening that self-driving cars would very much be a thing by then.

Hannah clearly had a need for speed and her new favourite toy was a means of achieving that. The smile that spread across her face from ear to ear was really all that I needed to egg me on. Every time I pushed that little bit faster, Hannah let her delight be known with a gleeful sound.

 

Making memories on the Globber scooter - faster daddy

Enough of the Helmet

After the glorious patch of smooth tarmac, we once again found ourselves bumping along some rougher terrain. Again, this didn’t bother Hannah and the scooter coped just fine. Much to my surprise, it even glided over the small sticks and other debris that had been blown over the path by the wild winds of the past few days. I put that down to the large front wheels, and probably the way that the scooter is pushed from behind in the sitting configuration.

Then, all of a sudden, we stopped.

Hannah took her hands off the handlebars and reached up to her head. She began to wrestle with the helmet and make some frustrated sounds. I stopped immediately. Hannah continued to wrestle with her helmet, so I took it off.

Then came the battle of the wills.

Hannah was determined to keep scooting, now that she was free of the helmet. I, on the other hand, insisted that she wear it if she wanted to ride.

1 1/2 year old children are not renowned for logical thought processes or the ability to mount counter arguments. Hannah is no exception to that, so she opted for expressing her extreme displeasure with the situation at the top of her voice.

 

Explaining the Situation

I carried Hannah for a while as we walked the return journey to the car. All the while she squirmed and wriggled, desperate to get back on her hot-pink steed. Even through her loud wails I did my best to explain the situation to her. I told her that she had to wear the helmet if she wanted to ride her scooter.

A couple of times we stopped walking and I gave Hannah the opportunity to scoot, but each time she resisted the attempt to reattach the helmet. It occurred to me that the helmet strap may have agitated the eczema under her chin, but there wasn’t a whole lot that I could do about it.

Eventually Hannah wriggled her way down from my arms and she walked along behind Emma, who pushed the scooter in front of her. Every now and then, Hannah pointed at the scooter and loudly protested our helmet rule.

We stopped again. The decent distance that Hannah had covered by walking had helped her to calm down a bit. I got down to her level, looked her straight in the eyes and asked again, “will you wear the helmet?”

A single, large nod was Hannah’s response. I placed the helmet on her head and she clambered aboard. Hannah had understood – if she wants to ride, she must wear a helmet.

 

Just Like Mum

We carried on our journey to the car and all seemed well… Until Hannah decided she wanted to get off… While the scooter was moving. Emma brought the scooter to a halt before Hannah had the chance to do herself any serious damage.

Hannah came round behind her scooter and reached up on to her tippy-toes. She could just reach the handle. It took us a moment to realise what she wanted – to use the handlebars to push the scooter herself.

Sure enough, once I lowered the handlebars to their shortest position, Hannah happily pushed the scooter all the way back to the car.

 

Globber scooter in the park pushed by toddler

 

The Verdict?

An excellent first time on the scooter, memories made! Even with the helmet issues, it was obvious that Hannah was made for scooting, and that the Globber scooter was made for Hannah. I’m very confident that it was the first of many, many rides and I love the way that the Globber scooter will grow and adapt to Hannah’s needs as her ability-level changes.

 

Disclosure – Globber provided Blog Of Dad with this scooter free of charge, for the purpose of review. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views. They are based on my experiences with the Globber MyFREE 5-in-1 scooter. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.

 

DIY Daddy
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The Train Lives Blog

The Train Lives!

Regular readers may remember the devastating events of a few days ago, where a large amount of water was accidentally used to drown one of Hannah’s favourite toys – her battery-powered train. At the time, it appeared as if the train was well-and-truly ruined. The circuits shorted, controls rendered useless by the unfortunate spillage.

 

At the time, I proclaimed that:

 

I’m no electrical engineer, but I’m pretty sure that water-induced short-circuits are irreversible – Dad, 2017

 

It turns out I was absolutely correct… about not being an electrical engineer.

 

The Moment of Truth

Last night, in an act that some may describe as desperately optimistic, I retrieved the crippled train from its resting place on a high shelf in the laundry. I had placed it there on the night of “the incident”, in the vain hope that a good drying would magically fix the problem of the haywire circuit. I know, it sounded stupid to me at the time as well.

Except that it wasn’t. Through some kind of electronic wizardry, the favourite toy fired into life as if it had never received its impromptu shower.

I held my breath. Could it be possible? Could the simple process of fully drying the train have been enough to save it from becoming yet another burden on the local landfill?

I pressed a button. It did exactly as it was supposed to. There was no random noise, no sudden start-stop of the wheels. I pressed another button. Another prefect performance of its allocated task.

The final test remained – the smoke-stack. In the moments after the drenching, the smoke-stack refused to register at all. It appeared to be the key source of all the issues.

I took a few deep breaths. A bead of sweat formed on my brow. This was it. This was the moment. Would the train miraculously work as it was supposed to, or would my dreams come tumbling down in a landslide of malfunction?

The previous eight months flashed before my eyes – the excitement of Christmas Day, the joy on the grandparents’ faces, the first time Hannah explored the functions of her new toy, and every press of every button between then and now.

I closed my eyes and pushed down on the green stack.

“1,2,3, chug along with me!” exclaimed a familiar female voice. On it went as the wheels began spinning.

I opened my eyes and looked on in amazement. The train performed its act, as if nothing had ever happened. I pressed the stack again. As it had always done, the song and wheels abruptly stopped with the accompanying hissing sound of a steam locomotive stopping at a station.

I pressed the stack again and once more, off it went, this time on an ABC song.

The train lives! It is as good as it has ever been!

DIY Daddy
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Master the stairs, baby climbs stairs Blog

Master the Stairs

A few weeks ago I wrote about Hannah’s new-found love of all things terrifying. You’ll be pleased to know that her desire to explore all the dangerous things has not subsided. If anything, it has intensified!

 

This makes for interesting times in my house at the moment. Where just a few short weeks ago I was becoming complacent in my attitude towards observing Hannah’s play, I am now back to a state of close hovering. I know that makes me sound like a bit of a helicopter parent, but trust me, Hannah needs to be watched carefully at this point in time.

 

Testing the Water

Take, for example, yesterday’s antics. The three of us were upstairs. Emma and I were completing fairly mundane, adult tasks, while Hannah played with her toys. All of a sudden, Hannah stood up and headed for the stairs at a rate of knots. She navigated them safely, so I was a bit slow to follow. However, when we heard the door to the laundry (and steps of doom) click open, I was after her in a heartbeat.

I almost did myself some serious damage as my sock-clad feet struggled for traction on the carpet at the top of our stairs. Fortunately, I caught the handrail and steadied myself before becoming the first in our family to go to hospital for a stair-related injury. I had no time to contemplate my near-death experience. Hannah was, in my mind, mere steps away from her own misfortune.

I cleared the flight of stairs in three great leaps and, using the banister as a kind of turning pole I slid around 180 degrees to run to the laundry. Again my socked feet made that part slightly more hairy than it otherwise would have been, and I once again had to steady myself, to avoid coming to grief on the tiles.

After gathering my composure I set myself to take off at full speed, only to look up and stop in my tracks.

There was Hannah, standing next to the laundry door, a big smile on her face. She had obviously enjoyed the show, and may or may not have now formed a connection in her brain that tells her that if she opens the door, daddy comes running in a crazy way.

 

Becoming a Big Girl

As I have mentioned before, Hannah has long known how to navigate the stairs. She takes herself up and down with ease and perfect safety in a well-practised motion.

But that is no longer enough. Hannah is hell-bent on growing up and becoming a big kid. A key part of that in her mind right now is using the stairs in the same way that the adults do. Thankfully, a few scares early on have helped Hannah to realise that she’s not quite ready to do it by herself. Unfortunately, that means that she DEMANDS that one of us help her. Every time.

Hannah now waits at the top of the stairs and makes a big noise. As we draw near to see what all the fuss is about, she holds out her hands and steps threateningly close to the edge of the top step. This, of course, leaves us with no option but to offer a hand. As soon as one is within reach, Hannah latches on and she doesn’t let go. Her grip is amazingly strong for little girl who has only been on this planet for 18 months, and she uses it to her full advantage.

Once she has secured a parent, Hannah is in big kid heaven. She grins from ear to ear as she slowly descends the stairs in an upright, forward-facing position. She is using the stairs just as we do and it’s obviously a big thrill for her!

 

Try and Try Again

Did I mention that Hannah has a strong grip? Did I also mention that she knows how to use it to her full advantage? I did? Good.

When we reach the bottom of the stairs, Hannah does not release her captured parent. That would be a waste. After-all, who knows when the opportunity to capture one might present its self again? No, Hannah doesn’t release her parent, she merely turns them around and prepares for the journey back up the stairs.

See, Hannah’s tiny toddler brain has a more profound understanding of one of the keys to a successful life than many of us adults. It is a fact that we probably all once had a grasp of, long ago, and it really is simple. Mastery comes through repeated, deliberate practice. Failure is a part of the journey. It presents an opportunity to learn, to get better.

Hannah wants to climb the steps like a big kid, and she already knows that the only way she is going to be able to do that is be practising and practising and practising until she can master the stairs.

 

Now to You

So, grown adult, now it’s your turn to master the stairs. What daunting learning have you been putting off, because you don’t think you can do it?

In what aspect of your life do you desperately wish to be like the big kids? Who is offering you helping hand to guide you safely off the top step as you take the plunge towards your goal?

Mastery is hard work. It requires sustained effort. Failure and its inbuilt lessons are fundamental to your eventual success. Can you handle that as well as a toddler does, or have you learnt to shy away and protect yourself? Are you really ready to climb that staircase again, and again, and again, or are you just waiting for someone to pick you up and carry you down?

 

Do you want my advice?

Go on, do it! Embrace the effort. Take a page out of the toddler’s handbook. Master the stairs.

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Japan, Ginza Street at night Blog

Travelling to Japan With a Toddler – Introduction

Okay, I’m going to need you to be honest with me here. I’m ready for it, I can take the truth. I just really need to know…

Am I insane?

 

The reason I ask is because I recently booked a family trip to Japan… with a 20 month old child… Not to see family or friends, just because Emma and I thought it would be fun…

Even reading back over what I just wrote somewhat reinforced the slightly unnerving feeling that I may have finally spilt my lollies. However, when I really think about what we are doing and how we are planning it, I’m not so sure. Maybe, just maybe, my sanity is intact. Maybe this idea isn’t nuts after-all.

 

The Top Five Reasons I’m Not Insane for Travelling to Japan With A Toddler

 

Japan is safe

According to the OECD Better Life Index website, Japan has one of the lowest rates of homicide in the world. Excellent news!

My experience of Japan in the past has been that it is not too different to Australia for safety. Be sensible and respectful, acknowledge your place as a bumbling tourist and you should have a pleasant and enjoyable trip.

Last time we travelled to Japan, we found excellent standards of hygiene, a logical and efficient public transport system, and local people who were genuinely pleasant and more than willing to help us out with things like purchasing public transport tickets and giving directions.

Even in the massive metropolis of Tokyo, amongst the neon lights and throngs of pedestrians, there is a sense of order and calmness. Most of the population there work hard and live simple lives. There appears to be a high value placed on maintaining the peace, most likely because it greatly benefits everyone.

Amazing food is just around every corner, and thanks to Japan’s obsession with cleanliness, we have never worried about the quality.

 

Flights can be cheap

I’ll go into this in greater detail in my Booking Flights post, but travelling to Japan from Australia can be cheap. It can also be very expensive.

We made up our minds that we wanted to travel to Japan months ago. We put together a rough outline of the dates on which we wanted to travel, then set about playing the waiting game. We monitored the three major airlines that fly direct from Sydney to Japan, and when we saw the best deal, we jumped on it. It means that we are staying in Japan for a few days longer than we had originally intended, but it also means that we saved over $1000 on the average price.

Air travel prices fluctuate massively. If I were to book the same trip with the same carrier right now, it would cost me over $2000 more. It pays to give yourself plenty of time and to do the homework.

 

YOLO

Remember when people said “YOLO” (you only live once)? Well, even back then I was too old and uncool to use it in anything other than an ironic tone. But now, as with all fads, the term YOLO is old and out of fashion – perfect!

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE PEOPLE! If we don’t go now, then we may never go. Circumstances can change rapidly and I would hate to live the rest of my life regretting the decision to not plunge in the deep end and have the experience of a lifetime. Right now, we have the chance. All of our ducks are in a row and I’ll be damned if I let that kind of opportunity pass.

(P.S. I’m so looking forward to the day when Hannah is completely embarrassed by the fact that I’ve used YOLO in a blog post… Hi sweetie, love you).

(P.P.S I really wish I had actual ducks in a row. That would be great.)

 

We Travel Light

Right now I need to offer a special note of thanks to the awesome companies that have come on board to make this experience as easy as possible for this dad and his family. Because of the products that they have provided us to test during our journey, we will be able to travel very lightly.

BabyBjorn were happy to share their excellent Travel Cot Light, which will make a world of difference to the bulk and weight that we have to lug around. This little beauty is compact enough to fit inside one of our suitcases. It is supremely light, yet still sturdy and obviously built to last. It is a breeze to set up and pack away, meaning that in the most manic, panicked of moments, of packing and unpacking, the portable cot won’t be causing and dramas.

 

BabyBjorn and Grobag for Japan trip

 

The Gro Company have also jumped on board with the perfect complement to the travel cot. The Grobags are light-weight, high quality and very comfortable. They are the same product that Hannah sleeps in at home, so the element of familiarity should be very comforting as she sleeps in a foreign environment.

 

RECARO provided a set of wheels. A good pram makes all the difference when travelling overseas. You need a workhorse, something that is heavy-duty, versatile and capable of carrying the endless bags of stuff that accompany a small child. Check out the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury stroller, it’s hard to go past.

 

RECARO

 

Finally, Antler were confident that they could help make our journey a smoother experience with their light and tough Prism suitcase. It is large enough to hold the portable cot, and there is plenty of room to spare for other essential toddler gear (nappies, clothes, toys, etc.). With Antler on board (and the convenience of in-room washers and dryers), we are pretty confident that we can limit our total checked luggage to two suitcases – not bad for two adults and a toddler for 23 days-worth of travel. This will make a huge difference as we walk the streets of Japan’s busiest cities in search of our accommodation.

 

Antler Luggage for Japan trip

 

We have been there before

Japan is no mystery to Emma and I. We both have a long-standing love of the country and we have visited before. Because of this we were able to choose accommodation locations in Tokyo and Kyoto that were familiar to us and suited our needs. We know where to find excellent food and we have in mind some particular attractions that we know will be worthwhile. Of course, we will be incorporating some new experiences and new locations, so it won’t all be the same-old stuff.

Osaka will be new for us, so figuring out the best place to stay was a little more difficult. In the end, we aimed for as close to Namba as possible. We are reasonably confident that we have found a good spot. Even though Osaka is new to us, it is not overly concerning.

 

There you have it readers, conclusive proof that I haven’t lost the plot. Feel free to disagree and provide reasons why I am most definitely insane in the comments. You know, things like a slightly unhinged near-nuclear dictator with ICBMs pointed in the general direction of Honshu… that kind of thing…

 

Disclosure – BabyBjorn, The Gro Company, The Amazing Baby Company and The Cache Group of Companies provided Blog Of Dad with free products for the purpose of review during our Japan adventure. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with these products. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.

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