A week with the kids

by DannyUK

Having a week with the kids leaves me little time to write for the blog.

Even given the fact that they are at school and I have the hours of 9 am to 3 pm to myself, I have found that I spend any time at home picking up laundry. Or washing up. Or cleaning. Or generally making the house seem less of a tip than it started.

It never amazes me that the kids won’t do the simplest of tasks. Every job is accomplished only with the maximum of shouting from me, and the maximum of whinging from them. We’ve had a couple of clashes between me and one or more of the kids. There’s been a few tears. There has also been a tantrum or two. But that’s how it is when five members of the same family live together. Given that the kids have squeezed into my two bedroom flat for the week and it’s miraculous that the negatives haven’t been greater in volume.

Job list - A week with the kids

A list of jobs for the kids to do. All done impeccably by me in the end.

Equally, though, there have been positives. We’ve had laughter. More cuddles than I can count. I’ve witnessed cuteness off the scale from each of the kids at different times. They’ve confided in me. We’ve talked about problems. They’ve even gone out of their way to help me with bits and pieces at times, without being asked, including making arrangements to ensure I got a good nights sleep the day after I revealed I’d been up most of the previous night for various reasons.

I posted last week about last week about hormonal kids, and that still stands, but with the bad side of the hormonal swing in every teenage playground, there’s the upside which isn’t always as interesting (or as therapeutic) to write about.

Personally, this week has been very up and down.

The week started quietly enough, and the to-and-fro of the school run proved easier than ever, with the eldest two being at senior school and wanting to be dropped at friends’ houses before school (albeit with an overly loud and purposely embarrassing “I love you!” from me as I drove off). The youngest two are both in the same junior school now, and so it’s the first time ever that I’ve not had to wait around in playgrounds to see one or more of them into class.

By the time Wednesday came around, the kids had their focus on one thing and one thing only: Stampy’s 200th video. For those not aware, Stampy is a YouTuber that uploads videos about Minecraft. My kids are mad about him and have been for months. 8 pm was the scheduled time for the video to go live, and the flat was buzzing with four excited kids pacing around with various iPods, iPads and tablets in hand.

8 pm came and an excited squeal came from my 10-year-old. I thought it was a reaction to the video going live, but, in fact, it was because she got first showing on the StampyLongHead video - and more exciting than this was the fact that she had managed to screenshot that she was the first viewer. She screenshotted the proof, sent it to me and asked (nay, begged) for me to tweet it to Stampy himself, which as a loving dad I duly did. The man himself favourited the tweet, which the kids loved and little more was said about it. Four days later and the video has close to 2,500,000 views. I can see why the kids were excited.

First view on StampyLongHead YouTube video - Taken from a week with the kids by DannyUK.com

Proof of the first viewing on the 200th StampyLongHead YouTube video as provided by my 10-year-old, which I was then made to upload to the man himself on Twitter!

Thursday saw us all go to Great Notley Country Park near Braintree, which is something I had promised the kids we would do this week if the weather held out. Tuesday was the original day we had pencilled in to go, but given the showers during the day I decided that we’d be better off postponing it until another time.

The kids pushed for a definite day, and I told them Thursday if it was sunny all day. Fortunately the sun held out, and even though I joked when I picked the kids up that I’d been doing a rain dance all day so I wouldn’t be forced to take them out, I was secretly pleased that we were able to go somewhere and burn some energy off.

The sun continued to shine and the park was pretty much empty of people, which the kids loved as it meant that they could go on any of the play equipment that they wanted – seemingly a rare occurrence in the local parks. We got home later than I wanted to that night, simply as they were enjoying themselves so much.

A late dinner, baths and bedtime soon followed, though it was obvious by the pink faces the next morning that we had all caught the sun a little.

I saw a podiatrist on Friday afternoon in the hope that he may be able to shed some light on some long term hip and knee pain. He confidently said that he felt he knew the answer when we discussed it, declaring that it was probably one leg being longer than the other. He then gave me a good check over, including walking up and down for ten minutes and checking that my ankles met correctly.

After twenty minutes, he admitted that he really couldn’t see anything wrong. My gait looked fine. The way I carried myself was ok (which surprised me as I have terrible posture) and he suggested that I seek advice from an osteopath and gave me a recommendation.

He also declared that he wouldn’t charge me a fee (which had due to be £36) as he wasn’t able to help. Given his honesty, and his refusal to take money, I instantly took to Twitter to praise him and am happy to do so again here. Chelmer Footcare, on Beehive Lane in Chelmsford. Well worth a visit.

As sod’s law would have it, later that evening for the first time in months, my knee locked up again and left me almost unable to move from the pain. The kids recognised what had happened immediately, and grabbed an ice pack which I pressed to my knee. I’m never sure if it helps or not, but on some level I feel that it does. I then started to inch my foot forward, using my toes to drag the foot as that was the only way I could move it. Though naturally, I found time to take a selfie…

The pain of a slipped knee shows - as does the superb photobomb by eldest daughter. Taken from a week with the kids, an article by DannyUK.com

The pain of a slipped knee shows - as does the superb photobomb by eldest daughter.

Telling the kids to move out of the way, I continued this little by little until my knee popped and my leg straightened. After that it was fine again and continues to be ok today, if a little swollen and slightly sore. Having been to the doctors and the hospital about it in the past, no one has ever been able to find what the issue is. As it is a rare occurrence, I haven’t chased it through, but as a friend pointed out, it’s not normal so I really should be kicking up more of a fuss. Perhaps I will. One day.

My eldest had returned home from school on Friday afternoon with a freshly made swiss roll, which apparently was voted best in class. Proof that she has inherited her mother’s culinary skills rather than mine. I was so impressed with the result that I asked if I could take a photo for My Sunday Photo, which she loved.  This is her swiss roll.

We dived into Costa, ordered some drinks and then split the swiss roll between us all. It tasted great and it was a shame there wasn’t more to be had. We saved a piece for my middle daughter, who had opted to stay at home cooking brownies.

The result of the brownies was eye-catching for the wrong reasons, with the brownie having not cooked properly. Even after letting it cool slightly, it had a crisp outer shell and a slightly runny gooey centre. I tried some in the spirit of being a good day, before then loading my bowl with several spoonfuls. What it lacked in presentation, it made up for in taste, with the gooey consistency being fantastic, and the taste divine.

The brownie - Looked gross, tasted amazing! Taken from A week with the kids - An article by DannyUK.com

The brownie - Looked gross, tasted amazing!

In between munching the swiss roll and brownies and my knee slipping, I got a phone call with some bad news which I had pretty much been expecting. It soured an otherwise ok day and put me in a mood for a couple of hours which I found hard to drag myself out of, even though I knew I needed to for the sake of the kids, if not myself. Fortunately, a day or so later as I write this, I feel much better about things. Although bad news, it was by no means the end of the world, and there are certainly bigger and better things to worry about.

Saturday was spent with the kids in the morning, and relatively (and unexpectedly) kid free in the afternoon. The eldest two had made arrangements with friends. The youngest two spent some time with my mum who I think sensed that I needed some time alone. I’m not entirely sure I did, but she wanted to spend some time with the kids, so I left her to it and went to Costa (where else?)

Not that kid-free time is ever kid-free. I spent the time looking online for a cheap Xbox 360 controller for my son, some cheap printer ink for the kids to use my printer and a decent (freecycled!) laundry drier to help with the tonne of washing I have been doing. I had no luck with any of these, despite spending some time searching.

I also spent time wondering how much Minecraft is too much Minecraft, and whether or not I can find a PR company to supply me with some free Minecraft stuff that the kids can have (which they would love!). Whether or not I succeed with any of the above remains to be seen.

Also on Friday was the start of some blog problems, which led to the Family Friday link not working for most of the day, and me being unable to fix it. It rectified itself some time in the late afternoon, but I’m still not entirely sure what caused it. Fortunately, despite a blip on Saturday it seemed to get back on track, and I suspect that a rogue plug in was to blame.

I swapped hosts a few weeks back, and there have been small problems along the way ever since. Nothing major, but certainly enough to be considered a pain. I really should learn more about the workings of a blog site, and the CSS behind it, but I know that is massively unlikely to happen.

I’ve often compared my blog site to “being held together with tape”. I don’t mean in so much that it’s waiting to collapse, but I definitely find myself trying to fix little problems and finding workarounds. Even the silliest of things like picture size. It never occurred to me until it was pointed out by someone else that I could have much smaller pictures on the blog than the sizes I was using.

I’m slowly getting the blog to a place where I am happy with it, though, and it’s all been by trial and error. To the untrained eye, the site is fine. If any designers look at it, I imagine they’d be horrified, but what can you do? Content is king, and there’s enough scribbled on the blog to fill several novels. A lot of it is quite well written too.

I’ve even started playing around a little with the graphics side of it. PicMonkey has been utilised (after years of getting by with Microsoft Paint), the “More from me” section at the bottom of each page is starting to get more content. Even the headers are becoming more uniform. Go me!

The week ended with a trip to a local football tournament, where the eldest daughter was being paid to help man the candy floss stand. The weather was, again, glorious, and the morning was wasted in the best possible way. The kids slid down various bouncy castle slides, over various bouncy castle assault courses and up and down various bouncy castles.

A week with the kids - Saturday morning at Marconis. Taken from A week with the kids - An article by DannyUK.com

Saturday morning at Marconis.

We then visited Kip and Loz, who had met us at the football tournament. Tea was drunk, sandwiches were had and ice cream consumed before the kids disappeared down the local park. Thirty minutes later they were back. My son, aged just 7, had apparently been punching his sisters - quite our of character for him. He was sobbing as I told him off, and we had a cuddle before leaving.

In the quiet of the car, I explained how upset I was with his actions. He tried verbally defending himself again, saying that he was being teased. I don’t think he wanted to accept my explanation that he still had no excuse. His punishment was being dragged around the shops with his sisters and me. Thankfully he soon perked up and apologised to his sisters. An hour or so later and you’d never know there had been a problem between them.

As I write this on Sunday evening, the kids are settling down into bed. I’m going to miss them when they go back to their mums tomorrow. But I certainly won’t miss the arguing, the fights and the constant moaning!

Kids, eh?

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