Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dad Stuff: A Schmaltzy Advert

I don't know if it's the time of my life that I'm in or how I've been feeling leading up to Father's Day but I've become a bit of a sucker for cheesey, schmaltzy stuff like this:

To counteract the corporate advertising I've been sucked into, check out this awesome video of a Dad who dressed up every day to wave goodbye to his son as he caught the bus. Classic:

Friday, 5 September 2014

Dad Stuff: Kids Movies

I often think about the media we expose our children to and what it's teaching them. We don't have a TV aerial but we do watch a lot of DVDs. This incredible TEDx talk by Colin Stokes gave me a lot to think of in terms of strong female leads. It may just make you rethink your childrens media intake or hopefully it lets you know you're on the right track. Either way, check it out below:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dad Stuff: BatDad

Being a Dad can be fun and it doesn't have to be serious all the time. For some reason BatDad makes me laugh. The main reason is because the children seem so nonplussed and it's just another day with a crazy Dad for them. Pretty sure my own children feel the same way about me.

Enjoy BatDad:

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dad Stuff: Dark Side Of The Moon

I heard this the other day and it absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Well, it made me stop peddling my bike home from work and wipe some pesky dust out of both of my eyes (hate it when that happens).

Chris Staples totally sums up parenthood in this incredibly sweet song from his 'American Soft' album. This is for all the Dads out there

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Dad Stuff: Skin

Tom Gould, an incredibly talented guy from New Zealand shot this short film posted below. It's fascinating to read about people from different backgrounds and lifestyles. What's even more interesting to me is that people can be so different, yet the profound changes that come with parenthood are the same no matter who you are.

Check out 'Skin' by Tom Gould:

Monday, 1 September 2014

Episode Thirty Four: Be Human

Hey team, long time no see!

I haven't written for a while because I've had a crazy Winter. We've had stomach bugs, the flu, floods, rats in the ceiling, glue ear and everything in between. All in all, I've been living a very human life and this is what I want to talk to you about.

 A few months back I wrote about how my plan was to go from a 'How To' blog to a documentation of what I've been doing with my children. I was hoping to inspire you along the way. Unfortunately over the last few months it's felt like I've just been keeping my head above water. My baby girl hasn't been sleeping at night and either my wife and I end up sleeping in her bed or she with us. My youngest boy needs his second lot of grommets, has just started school and can't hear a thing. My oldest boy is struggling at school and not getting the support he needs. My wife and I are exhausted and so we haven't done many amazing things with our children. I barely have time to jump on the trampoline after work or play Lego before dinner. That's about the extent of what I've done with them. It's not that I've been neglecting them, I just haven't done anything Instagrammable, blog-worthy or pinnable. What I'm really trying to say to you, is that I've just been human. I'm no superhero. I'm no Father of the Year. I'm just a busy Dad trying to do the best he can. Sometimes that's all we can do. And guess what? That's OK.

What I've been trying to practise in between the book reading and the swing-pushing with my children is being real around them. I've talked to them about my feelings, my struggles, my guilt and my worries. Not to scare them or to upset them, but to show them that I'm human. I always tell people that my own relationship with my Dad started off with me thinking he was Superman, growing up to be a teenager and realising he was just a human, the becoming a parent myself and finding he was super human. I think there is danger in portraying ourselves as infallible and indestructible to our children.

I like to think that I'm raising healthy children by painting a realistic picture about what it means to be a Dad - and a large part of that puzzle is just being a human trying to find your way. I often tell my oldest son that I don't exactly know what I'm doing. I tell him that he reaches the milestones first and thus he is the testing ground for my parenting. Sometimes I will make a decision or discipline him and a day later come back and change my mind or apologise. I explain to him that I'm learning as I go along and I make mistakes. It's important to me that he knows that I'm in control of his parenting and that no matter what: all my decisions and actions come from a place of love and growth. But it's also important for me to show him that I'm just a guy who had kids. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think that sometimes we put up a facade when we're dealing with our children that gives them a false sense of who we are. This can extend to the people in our lives: our work colleagues, our wives, our family. Sometimes it can really ease the stress and the expectations that we put on ourselves (or rid the expectations we think people hold of us) by showing the people around us that we're just human and there's nothing wrong with that.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Episode Thirty Three: Saturday Sports

Over the last few weeks we have been talking about sacrificing or putting our own experiences aside in order to give our children a full life. This is my own example of putting my money where my mouth is: Saturday Sports.

My Saturday Sports career goes something like this: I played two matches of J.A.B rugby and on my second match got tackled so hard by guys three times my size that I thought, "there has got to be a better way" and that better way was sleeping in on Saturday mornings instead. Fast forward twenty odd years and I've never looked back. My sporting ability extends to backyard/beach cricket in the summer, two square when the mood strikes me and rugby on the trampoline with my kids. True story.

I never grew up in a family that gets up early on Saturday mornings to freeze on some field to play footy or to support someone in our family who was risking frostbite and twisted ankles. When it became apparent that my middle boy was somewhat of a natural athlete my wife and I fretted over the day when he would be old enough for Saturday Sports. Neither of us are particularly athletic, nor fond of doing anything on Saturday mornings

As we all know, our children are sent here to teach us - and test us. My middle boy is no exception. He has dragged his brother and I outside for games of rugby, soccer, throws-and-catches and trampoline sessions more times than we would like. But, that is where he finds his joy. He is a natural at anything physical and while his older brother is some sort of reading savant, the middle boy enjoys having something over his bookworm brother. Natural sibling rivalry, I guess. Running around kicking footballs, throwing softballs and doing flips on the trampoline are his happy place.

It's all very well to write this and say "You know what? I manned up and I enrolled him in soccer this season and that makes me an awesome Dad!". The real truth is, I had to learn how to be a Saturday Sport parent. I've never had one to observe. How do they act? What do they say? How do they deal with disappointment (their child's and their own)? How do they tread that fine line between fair play and win-or-die? How do they deal with their children getting injured by a stray elbow? Chin up, mate or Come on, Ref!!!

Guess what? I don't know. But like all Dads, I'm learning on the job. I'm seeing first hand what my sacrifice is doing for him. He's learning team work, perseverance, commitment and most of all he's learning that his Dad is there for him, whether he's passionate about his pursuit or not.

Unfortunately, your children may not follow in your footsteps. They might not be interested in what you love. But whatever they become interested in, you'll be giving them the world if you put yourself aside and enable them. Whether it be sports on a Saturday, driving them to a Dungeons & Dragons tournament or some other fan dangle thing you don't get. Put yourself aside and put them first. You'll both get so much out of it, trust me.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Episode Thirty Two: Don't Hold Them Back

OK, confession time: I'm afraid of heights. 

To be honest, I have a fear of heights in retrospect. I can climb up a ladder and I've even sky dived. But, if I think back on the event my brain thinks about all the things that could have gone wrong and I freak out. You'd think my survival instinct would kick in before the fact - but no. As a kid I used to walk across the Claudelands Bridge in Hamilton and if I think back to the view looking down, my heart races.

I don't know how this fear originated, but I am determined not to pass it on to my children. I don't like pumpkin and I'm not the biggest fan of Hootie & The Blowfish but I don't want to limit my childrens experiences because of my own fears or tastes. That might be taking New Age Parenting to epic new levels, but I feel like it's important to let your children be their own people. 

Look, I know that there is only so much I can do in the scheme of things. As parents we can't save them from having the same hair colour as us or even the same temperament as us. But, despite some studies arguing the opposite, I think there is a possibility we can save them from our own fears and limitations. We all know what impact those fears have had on our lives and if there's any way we can spare our kids, then why not give it a go? 

I remember I went to Cubs camp with my son. There was a father with his son there and he wouldn't let his boy get involved in any of the activities. No bush walks, no Burma trails at night, no climbing massive bamboo towers. The son was rearing to go but the Dad just wouldn't allow it. What was quite obvious to us, the other parents, was that the Dad was just scared. Maybe he has a bamboo phobia? Maybe he has a fear of the bush. Together we deduced that he was probably sacred of letting is son go. It can be terrifying to let your children take risks. But sometimes, you just need to feel the fear and do it anyway. In the end, we encouraged the father to try things out himself and his son was there all the way, talking him through it- reassuring him. It was an amazing moment and definitely a lesson I took away from that weekend that I use quite often.

You don't have to do anything as extreme as getting up on the roof with you children like I did. But maybe there is a small step you can make? Is there something you are afraid of or dislike that is disadvantaging your children? Are you denying them the greatness that is Hootie & The Blowfish? Are you stopping them from playing sports because you were not an athletic-type growing up? I'm not saying you're damaging your children by any means. But maybe you are closing off a little bit of the world that they may, in fact, thrive in. I may have a gifted rock climber in my midst, but if I never allow them the chance to experience climbing and getting up on the roof like a bunch of crazy people, then how will I know?

I don't want to come across as preachy and, to level with you, I'll never ever be able to mask the fact that I can't stand pumpkin. But, like anything to do with our children, to help them be the best they can be takes sacrifice. If that means grabbing the bull by the horns and facing your fears then why not give it a crack? I'll leave it up to you to decide whether it's worth it. In the end I did two things I didn't feel comfortable doing: I got up on the roof but, even worse, I got up there with my children. I think about what could have happened if they fell off the roof and broke bones and if my daughter fell off the ladder - but, it didn't happen. And they had a great time and in the end we are all better off for it.

Next week we will continue on this theme of sacrificing for the sake of our children's development. See you then and have fun!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Episode Thirty One: Get Stuck In

This post could easily be about how little time I have to do the things I set out to do around the house. I'll have to save that for another time.

Over the Summer my wife and I got inspired and decided we were going to get chickens. The problem being that we had nowhere suitable to put them. Upon looking around the section we decided if we chopped down three trees out the back we could build them a run there. The next problem was finding the time to actually do this. Cue: child labour.

My middle boy is into doing jobs. I don't know how that happened, both my wife and I detest them, but somehow this little boy has been asking to help since he could talk. He wants to mow the lawns, wash the car and, in this case, dig up tree stumps. When it comes to my children's interests, I try to indulge them within reason. But, having a kid with ridiculous amounts of energy and enthusiasm for things I've been putting off for months is a no-brainer.

I had already chopped the trees down a few months ago. To do this, I put said boy in front of a DVD to keep him inside. He would have been right there manning the saw if he knew what I was doing. So as a safety measure we employed the distracting talents of Wreck It Ralph. Then, a month or two later, after a particularly bad storm I knew that the ground would be very soft and the stumps would be easier to manoeuvre. I went out and started the job and within ten minutes the middle boy appeared asking, "Can I help?".

Using his hoe and spade he dug around each of the stumps for me and showed me where the big roots I needed to chop with the axe were. From there he negotiated a turn with the axe by telling me, "Don't worry Dad, I won't raise it above my head and I have shoes on!". I couldn't argue. I supervised him very closely and he had a crack at using the axe and freeing the stubborn stump from our back lawn. Soon enough my baby girl appeared, picked up the spade and got to work. 

Having them there in the thick of the mud with swinging axes and other "risks", I was reminded of this post by Needle & Nail. Sure, I was able to tell people that I had my little helpers and I was "just the supervisor". But the truth of the matter is that I was able to spend quality, engaged time with two of my children. I was able to teach them how to be safe with gardening tools. I was able to give them a job where there was a clear cut start and finish. They learnt job satisfaction after all three stumps were removed and no doubt, when we finally get our chickens, they can look at that run with pride knowing that they had a big part to play. 

Your children want to see what you are doing and they want to get involved. Well, it depends on what it is. While we were digging up stumps my eldest spent the whole time inside reading Lord of The Rings - and that's fine. When I watch a documentary about the Spice Traders you can bet your bottom dollar he will slide next to me on the couch while the two younger ones couldn't care less. The fact is that our children are interested in us and one of the best things you can do is involve them. I guess that's a variation on this blog: Involve yourself with your children and let them be involved with you. Who knows what you'll learn from each other?

Have fun!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Review: Rolston Rifles

When I was younger, my Mother was on the local Play Centre committee and was a huge proponent of the 'No War Toys' movement. We had the stickers all over our car, our front door, our toy boxes - everything. Growing up in a farming community where most of the kids we knew were shooting real guns and killing real animals, it must have been a radical idea for people to swallow.

One day my brother brought home his woodwork project from school: A handmade, double-barreled shotgun. It was beautiful. The barrels swung on a wooden hinge to reveal two drilled holes emulating where you would put your shotgun cartridges. I remember holding my breath as my Mother looked at the gun and tried to figure out how this work of art would fit in with her ideals and values. We had our paintings on the wall and regularly ate the hokey pokey that my brother had learnt how to make in Home Ec. So why couldn't the gun stay?

In the end Mum relented and this piece of art became part of our toy collection. I was over the moon! I was a farmer, riding on my yellow and red plastic trike with this gun slung over my shoulder. I was an Olympic target shooter, lying on my trampoline yelling "Pull!". That gun changed my life in the sense that neon coloured Nerf guns give me the heebie jeebies. I can hear my Mother's voice talking about glorification and turning war and suffering into a cartoon parody. I would rather my children learnt how to shoot a real .22 than have a bright blue Super Soaker. Is that wrong?

When the Rolston Rifle arrived at our house it wasn't attached to a cardboard backing featuring a muscled cartoon warrior or clip art of explosions and helicopters. It was simply wrapped in corrugated cardboard and bubble wrap and immediately I was taken back to my childhood bedroom and the great standoff between my Mum and Brother. This gun isn't a war toy, it's a lovingly-crafted art piece.

Now featuring a real, functioning scope or a clever hose fitting to replicate a scope - these rifles are incredibly realistic. Made up of a beautifully crafted stock and single barrel, this gun has little details that piqued my interest. The bolt lever is genius and I love the customised name branding on the underside of the forestock (offered as a free option!). My son adored the fact that it had his name on it, possession is everything with an older brother!

Grandfathers and Koros will look at this and think "Now, why didn't I think of that?". Children will cradle it in bed on Christmas night. Believe me, both of these things happened to our family. If you've been sitting on the fence on whether to let your children have guns or if you want something to trade with your children for those Nerf guns - I suggest this. It's incredibly well-made, it's made in New Zealand by an inspiring father of five and it comes with a pretend gun licence so your children grow up knowing the true reality of guns and gun ownership. Awesome.

And because the team at Needle & Nail are so awesome, they've offered up a Rolston Rifle for you to win. All you have to do is follow these three easy steps:
3) login to the nifty widget to the right of this post (if you're reading on the blog) or go here if you're on Facebook.

An eligible winner will be drawn on May 23rd 2014 at 8:00pm (local time).

Have fun and good luck!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Cool Stuff: Fencing & Sword Fighting

Sword fighting seems to be a bit of a theme in our house at the moment. Lord of The Rings movies are on repeat and the epic battle scenes are being replayed on the trampoline, to the couch, to the lounge floor.

Check out these cool videos on realistic sword fighting and, my favourite, fencing:

Have fun!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Episode Thirty: Go Fish!

Hey Team! I missed out last week as I was in Australia for a few days and totally forgot all about you. Never mind, I'm back this week with a classic one.

I can't believe I haven't used this idea yet: Fishing! First, a little disclaimer: I'm not a fishing kind of guy. I used to go fishing now and then with my Dad when I would stay at his place. All in all I was pretty crap at it and not very patient. I remember once I caught 13 Herrings off the Kinohaku Bridge and another time I caught 8 Kahawai in a net in the Kawhia Harbour. That is about the extent of my fishing career.

But, now that I have two boys who are old enough to not run off the side of a wharf into the water below, I'm really enjoying the idea of fishing. Luckily for me, my boys seem to enjoy it. Either that or they humour me. I'm happy either way. On sunny Saturdays we try our luck and put our rag-tag collection of fishing tackle in the water to see what happens. 

We don't really have much luck and that affects the enthusiasm of these two guys, but they still stick with it. I find it's a constant struggle for them to keep their lines in the water. Every two minutes they want to check your bait - that might have something to do with our success rate.

There are so many things our children can experience in an afternoon of fishing: The practice of patience, getting their hands dirty/fishy, learning sustainable fishing practices, hand/eye coordination and the practice of patience.

We've combined a lot of our fishing outings with the local kid's fishing competitions that are held in our town. These are great because they're geared around encouraging a new generation of fisherpeople. Not only is there the promise of prizes for heaviest fish etc etc. Often times the kids will get prizes for entering or be eligible for spot prizes. The last two we have been to have had a free sausage sizzle. Good times.

My three tips for you are these:
  1. Be prepared to end up doing most of the fishing yourself while your children 'just check out that boat at the other end of the wharf'. Happens every time.
  2. If you do end up hooking a fish while you're holding their rod - resist the temptation to reel it in yourself. Ask them to check the bait. They'll wind in the line and voila! They've caught a fish.
  3. Always have a contingency plan that involves stopping in at the local fish n chip shop to drown your sorrows. It's almost tradition, right?
Have fun!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Cool Stuff: What Is ANZAC Day?

For those readers outside of New Zealand or Australia, ANZAC day is like our veterans day. It's a day for us to reflect on the sacrifice made by so many so that we could have the freedom we enjoy today.

As my Grandfather fought in World War II, my boys are fairly aware of the importance of ANZAC day and why we celebrate it. However, the video below shows Kiwi kids explaining in their own words why we observe ANZAC day.

Enjoy your day off today.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Episode Twenty Nine: Some Ideas Fail

Last year we tried making popsicle stick bow and arrows. I can't claim this idea as my own sorry, this comes from an amazing blog called The Brooding Hen. I saw the idea on Pinterest and straight away thought my boys would love it. I was right but we got it oh so wrong.

Some times you try ideas and they don't work. I think it's really important to acknowledge that. I think it's important for me to share with you that sometimes my kids aren't into the ideas. Or we miss out an ingredient or something breaks. This was the case with our first attempt at making these bows and arrows. But that's OK.

What I've found with my sons is that if they can't nail something straight away, they're not interested. This goes for the ideas that we try sometimes or big things like learning to ride a bike. If they don't believe they can succeed first pop - or if they don't pull off a trick straight away, they're not into it. This is totally understandable, and I even get that way some times. But it's how we deal with this disappointment and disinterest that shapes our character.

The first time we tried making the bow and arrows, I didn't soak the sticks for long enough and the majority of them snapped. The ones that didn't snap, bent the wrong way and the bow string sort of twisted around in a way that made the arrows hard to launch. My bright idea that I was so excited to share with my boys was met with rolled eyes and my boys promptly moved on. Stink.

But, I decided to put the idea on the shelf and come back to it another day. You're not going to be Tony Hawk straight away. What's important though is learning that you aren't always going to be amazing first go. Some things are really hard to do and take practise. That's why we admire our sports heroes or favourite musicians. They honed their craft to a point that it makes it look easy. So easy, in fact, that you believe that it really is - until you pick up a guitar or jump on a skateboard. What I wanted to teach my sons was that, yes, some things don't work first time - but that's no reason to give up. That's no reason to never try again.

Earlier this year I dusted the idea off and we gave it another crack. The mini bow and arrows worked out perfectly and we had heaps of fun. Neither of my boys mentioned the previous failed attempt (which was weird) and we had a blast.

It just goes to show, just because you're not an expert straight off doesn't mean you never will be. Teach your kids to keep trying and who knows what they'll achieve.

Have fun!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Cool Stuff: Cartoon Themes!

Check this one out for some serious blasts from the past! My kids loved this video if not for recognising some of their favourite cartoon theme songs then for how much fun it looks like the musicians are having.

The animations give you clues but it's still fun seeing how many you can guess without looking.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Episode Twenty Eight: Use Spray Paint

When I was young my Mother was making resources for one of her childcare centres that she owned. She got milk bottles, filled them with rice, covered them with newsprint, spray painted them and, with brushes, painted weird Aztec patterns all over them. I probably helped with measuring up cups or rice or mixing the wheat paste for the newsprint or something like that - but I don't remember. All I remember is that I got to use spray paint!

Spray paint is one of those perennial favourites with kids (and adults) - like balloons or pizza. Spray paint never stops being fun. I'm in my thirties and I still love mucking around with spray paint. I decided to share the joy and let my kids have some good old supervised fun with aerosols.

The first thing to note about spray paint is that the stuff is pretty fumey and full of crazy chemicals - so if you're not into exposing your kids to that I would suggest masks, gloves and safety glasses. I compromised by letting my children use the spray paint in a well ventilated area and to give them a lesson on which way to aim the nozzle etc. 

What my middle boy learnt was that painting anything precise with spray paint is hard. Really, really hard. I tried to show him some tricks that I picked up during my younger days. We talked about graffiti and tags and we talked about how, although it's naughty to paint on things that aren't yours, some of the graffiti is pretty clever. It takes a lot of practise to make things look cool.

Basically, there wasn't any lesson or point I was trying to get across. This idea was merely just a chance to be out in the sun mucking around with a bit of paint (and give the clothing rack last seen in Episode Seventeen another run). We painted a bit, stood back and admired our work and then went inside to eat lunch. Easy.

What sort of things do you still enjoy doing that you loved doing as a kid? These may be the very things that help you and your children connect. As I've said before, your children will love to see your enthusiasm for a certain activity. It's infectious. Why not dig out that old hobby - the spray cans, the Magic: The Gathering Cards, or chatter rings and show them? You never know, you might have bred the next Cope2 or Tony Hawk.

Bonus: A great video on can control. There's more to it than you think.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A New Idea

Hey team,

Thank you so much for reading this site, reading this tweet or viewing this post on Facebook.

Ideas for Dads was a project I set out to do in order to share my parenting journey with interested parties. What I didn't realise is how much my own parenting would be affected. It has been a great journey so far and what I've come to realise is that I'm just getting started.

I'm going to be real with you: I set out to post 104 ideas on this website. My plan was that it is one idea per weekend for two years. I was going to edit each of the ideas and compile them into a book that I could pitch to a publisher and then travel the country being Nigel Latta's understudy. But unfortunately the plan changed without me really knowing it.

What has happened is that I've had a considerable lifestyle change. Well, a few things have changed and/or happened to me and with those changes and new experiences my perspective has changed. My aim and goals have changed. It's a good place to be in. While spending quality time with my three children is still a huge priority in my life - the need to package each of these experiences into a 'How To' has changed. I feel like the time has come for me to just document what I'm doing with my children and those of you who are interested can get inspiration from the recap. This means instead of step-by-step instructions on how to spend time with your own children, you can read about what I've been doing with my children and take your cue. You can copy my ideas or you can use them as a spring board into all sorts of cool times with your own kids.

Also, I have been loathe to post any 'Dadism' posts because I haven't felt qualified enough. I have felt that I am just a guy posting cute pictures on a blog and am in no way an authority on parenting advice. What I've learnt through my latest experiences is that, I am. I mean, I'm no Steven Biddulph, but I do feel I have a unique voice when it comes to parenting.

I want to share with you my concepts and thoughts on parenting. Not because I think they're 100% right, but because I feel I have a different way of looking at things that some people may feel refreshing. I have been told that I have a gift to share, in parenting advice, and so I am going to use it.

Please keep reading, keep sharing the posts, retweeting and keep liking the posts on Facebook etc. The more people I can get reading the site, the more effective I can be in helping Fathers, Mothers, Grand Aunts, Step-Uncles, Nanas, Koros and Big Siblings to make the most of the time they spend with the children in their lives. Thanks for supporting me to do what I love.

Many thanks,


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Episode Twenty Seven: Screw Screws

This project has taught me the following things: Inspiration can come from anywhere and the simplest ideas are often the best. Case in point: this little gem that I nicked from Softfluffycloud on Instagram. Also, this isn't so much about spending time with your children, but thinking on your feet and finding ideas from different sources. Fear not though, I will be screwing screws with my kids soon in another idea coming soon.

On New Years Eve the Auckland cousins came to play! It was awesome and without a doubt our children's favourite past time: playing with them and showing off their toys. As the children get older and can entertain each other I get a chance to talk to my brother without being interrupted. Win-win really.

On this particular visit we had arrived home from our Christmas camping expedition the day before and the children discovered that there was one more present they hadn't unwrapped on Christmas day: A 14ft trampoline. Needless to say they were ecstatic and very keen to show it off to their cousins.

For one reason or another we had to keep the children off the trampoline and so quick thinking was needed. That's when I looked at the huge pile of cardboard boxes from the trampoline and thought about that Instagram image. These kids could screw screws into the cardboard and that would keep them distracted and would (hopefully) be more interesting that the trampoline.

The instructions for this one are pretty simple. Grab some cardboard (I used about three pieces stuck together to make it hard work for the boys), half a dozen screws and a screwdriver. Bam! Done. I got all of the boys together and told them I needed their help: I needed all of those screws screwed into that cardboard. They were off and away laughing. I had them distracted for a good ten to fifteen minutes.

Just a quick word of warning here: Obviously the screws come out the other side and they can be sharp, that's why I put the cardboard on the grass. This avoided them screwing into our wooden deck or anything else precious. Also, I gave them strict instructions to leave the cardboard on the grass and not carry it around as the other end of the screws can really hurt. Keep that in mind.

All in all this was a dead simple idea that I was able to pluck out of the memory bank and, best of all, it actually worked! Have you found any great ideas from unlikely places? I really enjoy Pinterest for finding ideas and old magazines like Jabberwocky. Let me know of any other places I can look.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Episode Twenty Six: Go Crabbing

As far as I am concerned, and my children would probably agree, this is the idea to end all ideas. If this website was made up of one idea this would be it. It is quite simply the perfect idea: Go crabbing.

If you're lucky enough to live in New Zealand,  you live within 10km of the coast. If you're even luckier you live near a harbour with low and high tides, this is prime crabbing country. Sorry international readers, I'm not well-travelled enough to know if you have harbours like ours - I've been to one other country and they did. So, here's hoping.

With low tide comes mud and with mud comes crabs. The particular spot we frequent for crabbing features thousands upon thousands of little crab holes which are full of tunnelling mud crabs (Helice crassa). These little guys tend to hide in their holes but if you stand still for a moment and cast your eyes over the whole mud flat, you'll see dozens of brave souls scuttling from one hole to another. It's amazing.

All of our family (toddlers, boys, parents and grandparents) love squishing around in the mud - some in aqua socks (haha) or barefeet looking for crabs. We challenge each other to find the biggest one, collecting each one in a butterfly net that we bring along for this very purpose.

Not only is there a competition to see who can find the biggest crab, there is also a challenge to see who is brave enough to pick them up with their bare hands. How big a crab can you pick up with your fingers? It's great for confronting fear and doing things out of our comfort zone.

For me, this idea ticks quite a few boxes: Family involvement, competition, pushing boundaries of fear, getting dirty, being outside and close to nature, compassion for animals/creatures, exploration, discovery and the thrill of the chase. What more could you ask for?

Watch out for those pincers, they're small but they still hurt. Have fun!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday, Funday VII

Wow! Haven't done this in a while sorry team. Here are some cool videos that I've found and that some helpful people have sent me:

Apart from making me want a drum kit very much, this video shows how different environments affect sound. That effect you can hear is called 'reverb' and you can learn more about it by clicking here.

I've been thinking about ancient man and the evolution of humans lately and although this video doesn't explain much, it shows how awesome some people are at sculpture. This guy is amazing!

Speaking of clever sculptors, check this guy out! Making seemingly robust object malleable and flexible. Very clever and very weird.

The boys and I have been body-boarding this summer and catching some pretty mean waves. Now that they have an understanding of the ocean, videos like this can be seen in perspective. Watch in fullscreen!

This may be a bit cheesy, it is a Malaysian bank advert after all. But, it shows a huge mix of water and cornstarch and people doing nutso crazy stuff on it.

I'm afraid there is a naughty word in this one so maybe not suitable for allll the kids (from memory it's the f-bomb?). I don't know what sort of rules you got going on over there. Anyways, this video is about one of my most favourite people in the world and I used it to show my kids that not all adults are boring squares that won't let them stay up late and eat chocolate for dinner.

Thanks for reading!